Well I did it. I made it through my new edit of “Quest for the Red Sapphire.” It’s amazing how different a book can look to two different editors. One might want you to say, “He took off his cloak and went in the room.” The next will strike that as being wrong and call it “Idiotic” saying instead it should be, “He went in the room and took off his cloak.” As a storyteller you look at the first few instances of this and say, “Ok; so he does it a little differently.” Then it keeps happening and you begin to say, “What is going on here?” I have maintained all along that I would need to develop a thick skin with this editor and it is safe to say I feel like I am wearing dragon scales. Some things he is right about. Some things I had no idea were the case. And many other things are simply written the way I want them in the world I have created. After all, it is my story and my world! If I want the main character to speak without contractions, guess what? No contractions. If I want to use the geographic term “Drumlin” then I will. I don’t think I’m pushing the boundaries too far here. It is my story and I am the one telling it. Imagine you were telling someone a story and a person sitting next to you kept correcting you over and over. Some corrections would be valid and some would just be the way they like to tell the story. It would be hard to get through the telling. I decided to treat the editor as a friend giving advice rather than a critic. It takes the edge off the relationship. You can handle harsh criticism from a friend much better than from a critic. The experience has helped me grow as a writer and as a person. It’s easy to write when everyone says your work is dandy. When someone is overly critical, however, you learn new things and fight for what you know is right. It makes you a stronger person. That, in turn will lead to easier editing sessions. In spite of how much I grow or learn, my style will simply not be a match with everyone. You know that saying about not being able to please all the people all the time? Well this is one of those instances. Ten books from now I could still submit a manuscript to him and have it bleeding red ink. (He would say “Does paper actually bleed? Perhaps you should use different wording? You’re confusing the reader by talking about a human characteristic in an inanimate object. Also the red is on a computer screen. There is no ‘ink’ to speak of. Why confuse the reader more than you already are doing in this sentence?” That’s not an exaggeration. My wife read the comments and wanted to send a strongly worded rebuke. (That’s the kind way of putting it.) I had my dragon scales on and only felt a light sting. Perhaps this will make the book an easier read for the consumer. I hope so. All I can say with certainty is that I have finished my edits…at least the first round.
“Then I have your leave?’ Gramlick asked.
“Not just yet, My Friend. Stay a while longer.” Gramlick sighed and sat with his arms folded.
Mandrean’s arrogant tone returned as he called out, “Commander Vipis. Is my Imperial Guard ready to depart?”
The Commander of the Guard came forward and knelt on both knees in full armor before this Emperor. “I have every available Guard in the City in their saddles outside the Palace walls awaiting your arrival. They and I will follow your orders to the death.”
“How many are there?” Mandrean Inquired.
“One hundred and eighty riders are suitable for duty and are ready to ride,” Vipis answered.
“That will be sufficient to guard me,” Mandrean told the commander. “Have my horse and one for Necromancer waiting by yours and inform the men we are leaving at once.” The commander nodded and stood. He gave the fist salute and rushed from the room.
Mandrean turned to his Court Magician and said tauntingly, “Be sure to dress warmly. These rides can become frightfully cold.”
“Fear not for me, My Master,” Necromancer said as he prepared to follow the commander. “A fire burns within me that will ward off the harshest of winds.” With a half-hearted bow he left the room.
Mandrean gave a nod to Fendri. Then the House Master stood and proclaimed. “The court is dismissed.” There was a good deal of mumbling as the courtiers exited the hall. Soon only Mandrean, Fendri, Gramlick and a hand full of guards remained. Mandrean snapped his fingers and the guards left.
With only the three individuals left, Mandrean approached Gramlick. “I have a special task for you, my Teacher. Maxion is as crooked as a tree-branch in the wind. You will stay here and see to it no coup is attempted in my absence. Furthermore, there are many displaced citizens who are likely hungry and cold. See the issue is handled.”
“How will I enforce your authority when Maxion has a Legion at his command?” Gramlick asked.
Mandrean held out his open palm and had it immediately filled by an envelope bearing his seal. “These orders give you the right to act in my stead. I have personally sent for a Legion of your men to camp just outside of town. They will be here tomorrow. Your soldiers will beat Maxion’s any day.”
“Then why leave Maxion here at all?” Gramlick asked. “I could have handled this alone.”
“I am testing him,” Mandrean explained. “He will not know of your forces and his allegiance will be proven in the coming days. He also has recent experience with handling rebellious people. You, on the other hand, will see to it the people are here when I return. Now go to your quarters and take some rest.”
Mandrean could see his former tutor playing through scenarios in his head as he limped from the room. Only Fendri and Mandrean remained. The emperor turned to the Master of his House and handed him six envelopes.
“What are these,” Fendri asked as he looked at the seals.
“These are orders I want you to personally deliver to Numbers One through Six,” Mandrean said slyly.
“To the concubines?” Fendri asked.
“No,” answered Mandrean grimly. “You know of whom I speak.” Fendri paused a moment as he realized to whom his master was referring. “If I may be so bold, My Master, what do these orders say?”
Mandrean smiled and answered, “They are insurance. If I wanted you to read them, they would not have been sealed. Take heart in the fact I would not have given them to you if I thought you would open them. The less you know the better you will be, Fendri.”
Meanwhile, in Missandor, the six stealthy individuals had invaded Linvin’s tree with the fall of night. The once pristine amenities were soon strewn around and destroyed. One climbed from floor to floor watching his minions searching in vain. “Leave nothing unchecked,” he ordered. “We must be thorough if we are to find the prize or move on in confidence.”
When the destruction was complete, the group reunited on the main floor. “Now where do we go?” Two asked.
One paced within a circle formed by his brethren. “They are aware of our pursuit, that is clear. Anvar Greenlith and Linvin Grithinshield have either left to search for the ultimate prize or left to hide what they possess. Regardless of the reason, our next best chance to find them will be with their only close family in the area. That, takes us to Varns.”
It was then that Four entered the house holding a young boy by the arm. “This lad has some information of interest,” Four announced.
One knelt before the child and told him, “Fear not boy. You will be rewarded for helping us track down a criminal.” The boy looked around at the destruction around him, afraid and silent. Seeing his face, One produced a small sack of gold and handed it to the boy. “Now,” One began, “tell us what you know.”
Quivering, the boy began to speak. “I delivered a message here, from an old elf in Fraylic, a few days ago. The man or elf, that lived here, paid me so much for getting it here, that I wanted to thank him the next day. I got up early to do that, but saw them leaving town.”
“Them?” asked Four.
“Aye,” the Boy said. “The old elf that sent me was with him.”
“Which way did they go?” Three asked.
“S…south…it was,” the boy said with increasing apprehension.
One drew his face very close to the boy’s face. “Did the half elf have a staff with him?”
The boy looked away. “It was dark. It was hard to see. I…”
One lost patience. “Yes or no! Did he have a staff with him?”
“No,” the boy said at first. “Wait…he might have. There was something long hanging beside his horse. It could have been a staff.”
One nodded and resumed his pacing. “You have seen much young boy.” One walked over and removed the sack from the boy’s hand. “Too much I’m afraid. Four, do be certain he never sees anything again or has the opportunity to tell anyone else what he has seen.”
The boy tried to scream, but Four covered his mouth and dragged him up the stairs to meet his end.
“Crime has become so ruthless,” One commented. “Take that boy. He comes back with his unruly friends to rob the benevolent man who paid him so well only a few days before. He destroys the house, only to be killed by his two timing friends and left for the authorities. I tell you, my friends, the world has become a sad place. Let us leave this den of sin and be on our way.
Four rejoined them as they neared the door. He was wiping blood from his hands with one of Linvin’s kitchen towels. “So do we head south?” he asked One.
“That would seem logical,” One commented, “however, south is not much of a destination, but Varns is. Grithinshield is known as a great strategist and Anvar Greenlith has proven to be more wise than we gave him credit. The heading, the boy thief observed, could have been a ruse to throw us off the trail. In fact, I am quite sure it was. If that were the case, then they would have gone in the opposite direction that the boy said. That would be north and north leads us back to Varns. Now let us go. Our quarry is slipping away.”
I put it off until after the holidays. Now the time has come to do the new edit on “Quest for the Red Sapphire.” I must confess that I have not looked forward to this as it is never fun to have your work dissected. Starting the process yesterday was painful. In all fairness, the first edit was done by my previous publisher and their editing job was subpar. The result was that I expected a lot of red corrections and comment balloons on the edit copy. I was not to be disappointed. Some of the changes were ones I couldn’t believe were missed the first time. Other ones seem to just be the editor’s preference. The ones that I am having the most trouble with, however, are the ones where the editor thinks the writing is too “Flowery” or not angry enough or simply not to his taste. To be fair, he has some legitimate points but there are also many times I wrote the book a certain way for a certain reason. I am trying to be thick skinned and open minded but I find myself becoming more defensive. So I took a long break from the edits. I will return to them as soon as I have finished here with this blog. Then I tried to put myself in the editor’s shoes. This guy is just trying to get the book right and done in the correct fashion. My style clearly is different from his and that is the source of the stress. I have no problem fixing the grammar mistakes but he wants things the way he would write it. I must dig down and try not to take them as personal attacks but rather as a different point of view. Many times I don’t agree with that point of view but I must try to work with him and take a stand only on the big issues. I did a sharp contrast from a dreary ending to one chapter to a beautifully depicted sunrise in the next chapter to show stark imagery with a touch of personification. It took 7 rewrites to get it perfect. I will not repeat the editor’s remarks but let’s just say he found it unnecessary and the paragraphs of poor quality. I drew the line there. I wrote after his comments, “I like it this way.” Perhaps he is right but much of my style is being cut out. I felt like I needed to make a stand. The editing goes on and I will try to follow the direction of the editor as best I can. In the end, though, I am the writer of this book.
Once upon a time there was a smart, responsible young lady of 16 years with a provisional driver’s license. She was spending the night at her friend’s house and around 11PM they decided they wanted chocolate soft serve ice cream. The only place with that product open at that time of night was a McDonald’s out by the highway. They jumped in the car and drove out to get their ice cream. After sitting there eating for a while they finally finished and left at about 12:30AM. A few blocks later they stopped at a red light and a police car pulled up alongside. The lady realized her license only allowed her to drive until midnight and she had exceeded her time limit. She became nervous and anxious. She watched the stop lights intently. The left turn signal turned green but not the light in front of her. It was too late. She saw green and drove ahead. Immediately the police pulled her over and issued her a ticket for a Provisional Operator’s Permit violation and instead of writing “Failure to Yield” on her other ticket, she was given the dreaded “Failure to Comply.” That is the equivalent of refusing to take breathalyzer test and carries a date in court. After hyperventilating for a few minutes, she drove back to her friend’s house and cried all night. The next day she informed her parents and they had to go out and hire a lawyer. After the county district attorney wanted to make an example out of her, the family’s lawyer was able to able to get the penalty reduced to a $50.00 fine in their court appearance. That young lady was my daughter and my wife and I thought everything was dismissed. That was a year and a half ago. When our auto rates went up we were told by our agent that everyone’s had and they were just high because of so many claims against insurance companies for hail damage. It is time to renew our insurance again and I find myself still disgusted by the bill so I asked my multi-line agent to search some other companies. I even plan to call a few myself. Then the land mine is uncovered. The DMV still shows a “Failure to Comply” on my daughter’s driving record. I call the lawyer and he says it should not have been recorded that way but once the court has filed it, there is nothing he can do. The DMV won’t change her driving record without a court order and as it turns out, that is what we pled “No Contest” to in order to get the $50.00 fine. It still goes down as a conviction. I’m told by my insurance agent that companies don’t even want to touch someone with a “Failure to Comply” on their record and so far we cannot find a cheaper rate. This is ridiculous. Of all the stupid things I hear about kids doing and getting in trouble for, this seems awfully tame. I realize I am not exactly objective but the punishment hardly fits the crime. So for the next year and a half we will be stuck paying ridiculous auto premiums…all because my daughter and her friend wanted chocolate ice cream one night.
Inside was a lavish multileveled suite. Stairs led up and down with lush red velvet carpet perfectly adhering to every curve in the finely polished stone. Murals and tapestries covered the walls entirely save for glass block windows, which allowed for viewing but not access. The furniture was arranged to allow for dozens of guests to be comfortable in what was clearly the main living area.
Fendri silently led the slaves up the stairs. Half way up he heard laughing from a man and multiple women. As was customary, he announced himself before reaching the top of the stairs.
“Lord Mandrean,” he called. “We have brought your breakfast.”
All became silent in the room above. Then the man’s voice called out while trying to restrain his laughter. “You may proceed, Fendri.”
As the servants climbed the remaining stairs they found a grand master bedroom suite. It was three quarters of a circle in shape and the size of the previous level. There was furniture for clothing, dressing and lounging. Enormous wardrobes lined the walls between colossal windows stretching from the floor to the unusually tall ceiling.
The centerpiece of the room was undoubtedly the master bed. The four-posted behemoth was wide enough to hold six adults comfortably. Quilted blankets baring the family crest encased down filling that nearly covered royal blue silk sheets. Their craftsmanship displayed immense skill and expense.
In the very center of the bed lay a middle-aged human man of size slightly larger in height and substantially greater in weight than Linvin. His hair was a combination of black and gray. The latter color carried over to his morning facial stubble. On either side of him lay a voluptuous young woman of impeccable beauty. The girls attempted not to giggle while the man had settled his composure.
“Has morning come early, Lord Fendri?” the man in the bed asked.
Fendri sat his tray on the bed and showed an expression of mild frustration. Then he set about drawing back the curtains around the room to allow the sunlight to enter. In a disappointed voice he proclaimed, “It is mid-morning, my Good Lord Mandrean. You have an eventful day planned. I would have presumed you would have made less active use of your bed. Your endurance will be needed later in the day more than it was last night.”
One of the girls responded. “Trust me, Lord Fendri. He needed all his endurance last night.” She smiled like a temptress and caressed Lord Mandrean’s face.
Fendri wrinkled his lips to one side as he beheld the absent attire of the ladies. Then he sighed and responded, “I am sure he did. Nevertheless, our Lord has greater demands this day.” He ushered the slaves to bring their trays to the concubines in the bed. Then he lifted his master’s tray and set it over his lap with sides extending down to hold it aloft. Once the coverings were removed, a huge breakfast was revealed. The plates for the emperor held steak, eggs, bacon, fresh bread and fruit. A small pot of tea completed the meal. The concubines had smaller portions of the same foods.
As the inhabitants of the bed ate, Fendri and the slaves gathered randomly discarded clothing from the floor and piled it by the stairs. “I shall have the maid come shortly to tidy your rooms Sire.” He picked up several empty wine bottles and placed them by the clothing. “It would seem your private wine cellar is in need of restocking. You appear to be dipping into vintages you seldom touch.”
“Make sure you do that,” Mandrean said with his mouth full of steak. “I was meaning to bring that to your attention. See to it that it is filled by this evening. I intend to have several of my ladies for the night.”
“Will we be among them?” the girl to his right asked.
Mandrean did not even turn his head when he addressed her. “No, you will not. I want variety. Tonight I shall have Sixty-two, Sixty-nine and Seventy-one brought to me. See to it early, Fendri, so they may have time to prepare.”
“My Lord,” asked the second girl. “Were we not to your liking?”
Again, Mandrean did not look at the girl to whom he was speaking. “If you were not to my liking I would have no use for you and you would be dead. You were both adequate. I will be calling on you again. Tonight I have different cravings.”
Instead of my usual excerpt today, I’d like to share a 5 star review on Amazon.com for “Quest for the Red Sapphire.”
Jessica Walsh - See all my reviews
This review is from: Quest for the Red Sapphire (Volume 1) (Paperback)
“High fantasy, political intrigue, unique characters and a lush world, Quest for the Red Sapphire has everything you could want in a fantasy novel. What sets this novel out is the attention to detail on every page. Whether it's traveling with the characters, rearranging the inner workings of a business, or simply stopping in a tent for the night, the author has filled this story with so much detail you can't help but get sucked in. It's no trouble at all to imagine this world as a real place and the dialog between the characters has a thread of realness to it, easily something you could imagine your neighbor or friend saying with little trouble.
“Quest for the Sapphire is a great fantasy ride for those who love to be sucked into a new world and disappear from their own for a few days. Even better? It's a continuing series and I'm sure that the sequels will be just as good as the first. I highly recommend this book.”
Fantasy fiction is my passion. This series embodies my love for a good story and action. You will find it to be many things, but not boring! Read what you love and love what you read...