I will be out of the country for about a week and will not have any blogs during that time. Please continue to support my Headtalker at https://headtalker.com/campaigns/quest-for-the-red-sapphire/
Some people touch your life so profoundly that words cannot do them justice. My father was such a man. He passed away last night after a second massive stroke. As a writer, I will try to convey why this man was so special. Dad was not easy on me and was particularly hard on my writing; being an editor and all. He demanded that I represent my family and myself in a dignified way. Having also done work in PR he would tell me that people will judge your intelligence and in fact, your entire being by the way you talk and write. If you talk like a truck driver, people will think you are a truck driver. As a result, from a young age we were expected to speak and act like adults, especially in public. You were representing your family by way of your actions and no one was going to make the family look bad. So it was that as a young boy we would have conversations about copy write law and parliamentary politics. Poor grammar was not tolerated and don’t even think about swearing. It was a policy I transferred to my own family and it still bears fruit. I am constantly complimented on how well spoken my children are. My oldest son even was hired for a job because none of the other applicants could speak as well as he could. He thanked me and I thanked my father. Dad was quotable. Before leaving for college he gave me some sage advice. “You’ll date two kinds of girls in college; the kind you take home and the kind you take home to your mother. Stay away from the first group! Never discuss politics or religion with your friends if you want to keep them. Never drink with your boss. They’ll wake up with a hangover only remembering what you said about so and so. You can only compliment a woman on her hair and when you do so you ask, ‘Did you do something different with your hair?’ When you compliment a woman’s perfume, always say it is very subtle.” He didn’t tell me to stay away from drugs until I was 19. That was a given in our family. He only spoke up after seeing a PSA. Growing up I wanted to be him. Every day he would put on his suit and go to work. Whenever you asked him a question, he always had the answer. He knew about everything from nuclear power plants to the workings of the Electoral College. It also seemed like my father could do anything. He could rebuild an engine or build a stereo. He could build or fix a TV or electrically wire a house. He could pour concrete and lay brick or plumb your house. He could grow a garden or shingle a roof. And for years he did all this with a heart condition and minor strokes. What kid wouldn’t want to be him? What I loved most of all, though, was when he would tell stories. He would talk for hours and kept you in your seat the whole time. I wanted to tell stories like him. I wanted to have my name in print like he did by his editorials. I wanted to be a writer. He was a great man and the world has suffered a great loss, even if only a hand full of people knows about it. To quote Dad, “To be published is to live forever.” Well Dad, if that is true we never really lost you.
I will be out of the country for about a week and will not have any blogs during that time. Please continue to support my Headtalker at https://headtalker.com/campaigns/quest-for-the-red-sapphire/
To all my friends and supporters out there I need a little help. There is a tool called Headtalkers where you can support my book, “Quest for the Red Sapphire” by going to this link https://headtalker.com/campaigns/quest-for-the-red-sapphire/ and clicking Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Tumblr. Your contacts will just be told that you supported my book. I need to reach 50 likes and then Headtalker will put out free advertising for me. So if you wouldn’t mind taking a moment, please drop by and support my book. See, I can write a short blog!
Fendri’s gaze fell to the side for a moment as he silently added his own thoughts to the statement. Then he decided it would be better to let the matter lie and continued with his agenda. “Your tailors and their servants will arrive shortly to prepare your attire for your journey. I assume you are still intent on personally taking part in the hunt for the outlaw Grithinshield?”
“Your assumptions are correct,” Mandrean stated as he cut a steak on his plate. “I will deal him the final blow with my own hand.”
Fendri stood at attention and looked straight ahead. “Very well, My Master. If you have no other need of me, I will attend to other duties and send servants to collect your crockery when the tailors arrive.” He bowed to leave.
Mandrean was surprised by the quick offer to exit. “Why are you so eager to leave?’ he asked.
“I see no other need of my services at this time,” Fendri answered.
“That is not an answer,” Mandrean said as he took to his feet. Adjusting his robe, Mandrean turned to Fifty-Six and said, “Take your tray and leave us.”
The concubine nodded and followed her orders. Once she left, Mandrean began to pace before Fendri. “Alright,” he said. “We are alone now. Speak your mind.”
“With all due respect, My Lord,” Fendri began. “I do not believe my opinions will be to your liking. For that reason I humbly ask to remain silent.”
Mandrean was stunned by the comment from his oldest friend. “Do not make me order you to speak, Fendri. Say what you will.”
Fendri sighed and answered, “As you wish My Lord. If you choose to have this man hunted down and killed then go ahead. Leading the charge is foolhardy. Finding him will be a stroke of luck. Do not mislead yourself into thinking luck will transfer to the battlefield if you meet Grithinshield in individual combat. Even if Necromancer fashions a device to allow you to use the Blue Sapphire’s power, it will only negate Linvin’s magical advantage. That would leave your combat skills pitted against his. Such an encounter does not bode well for you.”
Mandrean could finally understand Fendri’s reluctance to speak. His words cut deeply. “You think Linvin could beat me in combat? How can you hold such an opinion? You have seen me in battle and watched me dispatch many foes. All you know of Linvin is talk. He is no different than any other man. Your position shocks and displeases me to great measures.”
Fendri could retain pretenses no longer. He vented his frustration by throwing the empty serving tray across the room. “You wanted truth, didn’t you?” he asked as he brought his face directly across from Mandrean’s. “Here it is for you. As I have said, your hand has not touched a sword in nearly ten years. You are at least as many years Grithinshield’s senior and have done nothing to keep your body in condition for battle. Meanwhile, your opponent is highly experienced and motivated. He is said to be the greatest warrior alive. Even if that proves to be an exaggeration, you cannot beat him in a fair fight.”
Mandrean gently pushed him back to a more comfortable distance and stated. “Your lack of faith in me is disappointing. Do not fear, Old Friend. I never said it would be a fair fight. According to my plan, I will only finish the life of our hunted game after the huntsmen have brought him down. You should have more faith in me. I am no fool.”
The field differed from the grassland in two respects. Nearly the entire crescent was covered in loose-quarried stones. Wild grass grew between the rocks. There was also a white limestone obelisk in the middle of the field. Anvar ushered his horse toward the marker with his nephews in tow. The monument grew ever taller as they approached. It was a masterful piece of work with reliefs depicting battles chiseled into the east, south and west sides of the stone. The north side bore an inscription written in the common tongue.
Anvar stopped before the north side and dismounted. His eyes filled with tears as he turned and observed the landscape. The trees at the back of the field had finally come into view. After turning entirely around, Anvar fell to one knee and hung his head in prayer.
Linvin and the twins were dumbfounded. They took to the ground and joined their uncle. At last they could read the inscription.
You stand upon a field of mutual defeat.
In the last great battle for this land, the armies
Of the Mandrean Empire and the Kingdom of Sartan
Spent nearly every soul in their command in a single day.
The ruin of that day is buried in the soil beneath your feet.
Respect the fallen and plant no seed in this land,
For it is stained for all time by the blood of those who would claim
Lordship over its fields.
Only the dead may dwell in this place. Those who disturb them
Shall share in their fate.
May all men remember that the living may control the lands for a time,
But the dead forever hold the soil.
In a world of greed, brave men paid for this soil with their lives.
Leave them to their prize…in peace.
It’s no secret that I love writing. It is an absolute freedom and gives me great pleasure. In particular my readers will not be surprised that I love writing fantasy. I Googled myself on line and was reading through some old reviews when I came across one that summed up by saying, “Great story, unrealistic world.” Thank God! I don’t want a realistic world. I created this world. I sat down one day and said, “I’m going to create a world and it’s going to be like this. It will be inhabited by creatures like this and the laws governing it will be so.” It took a lot longer than 6 days but I made the world of Lavacia just the way I wanted it. It doesn’t have to conform to the rules of our world. During an editing the editor told me, “You can’t do this.” I told him, “You can do it in my world.” In fantasy no one can tell you that you are wrong except for yourself. If you create rules for this world, then you must then abide by them. Most of your big named fantasy writers put as few rules and details in their stories as possible because that way no one can come back and tell them what they wrote was impossible. Rules in these worlds are like walls. Once you build them, you have to work around them. I take a little different approach. I am not intimidated by walls. I have had over 25 years to sort out these stories. Therefore there can be walls and rules of my choosing in my world and I can still work around them without difficulty. Why is it so easy?...Beacuse I made the rules! It drives me nuts to have a story with few or no rules for the world created. Here is an example. My tongue will burn for saying it but take the Chronicles of Narnia. Often they refer to something having to be done because of the “Deep Magic.” I read every one of those books several times and nowhere does it tell you anything about what the Deep Magic is. It’s frustrating. I’m all for inventing things but at least tell us what you invented. There is a delicate balance of explaining one’s self and leaving nothing to the imagination. So I lay out my rules and make them clear. Then everyone can understand them. A few walls won’t hurt anything. And remember in the end when you write about fantasy, if someone questions you just tell them that’s the way you want it.
My poor daughter has had a terrible time with the extraction of her wisdom teeth. Aside from the pain she is feeling, this is her first experience with pain killers and it isn’t a good one. They make her sick. So she has been in bed for nearly six days in pain and with a nauseous stomach. She has eaten some soft foods but not a lot. While we try to keep her fluids high, she just wants to be left alone. Add to all this that she is my daughter who is allergic to wheat and our options become somewhat limited. I knew the extraction would be painful but I didn’t realize just how much it would trouble her. She’s back at school today and I can only hope she’s feeling better. On to books! I have been working on the fourth book, “Repercussions Abound” and had one of those sections between big plot points that I hate. I like to think of jumping from one major event to another when I’m telling the story to other people but it doesn’t work that way. You need to lay the groundwork and fill the backstory first. Then there are always new characters that need to be introduced so they can be referenced later. I would not go so far as to say I hate this part but it is certainly not my favorite. It is, after all, still creating. I just tend to drag my feet a little when writing it because it’s not as exciting. It took a concerted effort to put that section of the book together and I finally have. In looking back, it came out rather well and conveyed the points I wanted to make. Then I had an unexpected problem. I had spent so much time configuring the in-between section that the big action piece I was so looking forward to had become jumbled in my mind. It was like a puzzle that had been put together completely and then someone came and smashed it back into pieces. I fumbled through the bits, trying to recall how I wanted them to fit. Whenever I did it, however, it seemed I kept leaving out pieces. I went back to my story board but I had had this planned out for so long that the details were glossed over. I was frustrated. Here was a great part of the story and I was in danger of getting it wrong. Now this is not a religious piece or attempt to persuade but I went to church on Sunday. As usual when I’m stumped, I blocked out much of what going on and used the silence to concentrate. It was like a tap had been opened and the story came flowing out of me in the right order. There were even a few new wrinkles I hadn’t considered that came along for the ride. Now I am ready to write my scene. Credit the church or the silence or my time without distractions but everything is back on track.
“I suppose you disagree with my new direction for the Empire,” Mandrean offered.
Fendri shook his head. “I care little about policy. Your goals are no different than any Mandrean ruler. You simply want to achieve total victory in your lifetime. If that is your will, then I will support you as always. I would caution you, however, that the words you speak sound very different than the ones you have used before. Be mindful of your comments and ask yourself, ‘Is that me talking or is it the Blue Sapphire?’ I serve your will, not its will.”
“I am the one making the decisions,” Mandrean said firmly. “The Blue Sapphire has merely opened the door for possibilities I never thought I could achieve in my lifetime.”
“So long as you are the one in control and not this evil gem, then I will stand behind you.” Fendri reiterated.
“What of this Grithinshield business?’ Mandrean asked. “I suppose you agree with Gramlick on that matter. You think I should just let him escape?”
“Before you had the Blue Sapphire I definitely would have said that,” Fendri noted. “The dynamic has changed and so have your goals. If you wish to pursue this path of conquest then Grithinshield must die quickly.
“It would seem you were each chosen by your particular gems for a reason. One stone is meant to check the other. I listened carefully when you read Grithinshield’s credentials. Linvin is a worthy opponent. He is also the kind of charismatic leader who could rally armies and indeed nations to his standard if needed. It would be unwise to meet him on the battlefield with an army at his command. From what the Red Sapphire said when he retrieved it, Linvin will be in your path every step of the way.
“Therefore,” Fendri concluded. “The wisest move is to kill him now at all cost. He is weakest while he is within our borders. Were he to return to Sartan, your goals would be in danger.”
“Then you agree with Necromancer that I should face him and destroy the vermin?” Mandrean asked for clarification.
“I agree he must be killed,” Fendri acknowledged. “I would waste two Divisions in a moment before I would see you fight him in individual combat.”
“You doubt my abilities?’ Mandrean asked with offence. “I have shown my skill on the battlefield many times before. Necromancer seems to feel I would dispatch Linvin handily.”
“With all due respect, My Lord, you have not drawn a blade in over ten years. As for Necromancer, he is no friend to you.”
“He cannot lie to me,” Mandrean reminded.
“True,” remarked Fendri. “He has a way of telling you only part of the truth so you will follow a path of his choosing and then convince you it was your idea. Bound or unbound, I do not trust his motives. He has his own agenda and I do not believe it is the same as yours.”
“So you think Linvin would kill me in a straight fight.” Mandrean stormed as his temper rose.
Fendri chose his words carefully. “I think it is an unnecessary risk. Look at what he did when he was underestimated once. Such a mistake must not be made again.”
Mandrean angrily took to his feet and turned his back to his friend. “My honor and reputation is at stake here. I must be the one to finish Grithinshield or else my men will not respect me. Without the backing of the army, my plans will be defeated faster than any outside enemy ever could.”
Fendri stood and returned the goblet to his master. Then he bowed, knowing full well what decisions had been made. “Is there anything else you require from me?”
“No Fendri. You may go about your business.”
“Very well, My Lord. I shall send servants to these chambers to reset the room. By your leave.” Fendri bowed again and left. He did not show it in his expressions or his tone but he felt frustration over Mandrean’s choices. Mandrean retired to his quarters to plan his next move.
With the tension seemingly dispelled, Bander became gleeful as he remarked, “Show us what you can do!” Linvin chimed in with equal vigor and implored their uncle to display his talents.
Though a quiet and reserved elf, most of the time, Anvar relished the opportunity to show off the powers he had hidden for so long.
Taking to his feet, he swiped his hand away from his chest and a horizontal streak of orange magic flew from his hand as though he were holding a brush, saturated with orange paint. The beam flew across the clearing and sliced effortlessly though several large trees, dropping them to the forest floor.
With his hands now glowing with the orange flames, Bander had described earlier, he unleashed a great torch of flame as tall as a house. The fire instantly scorched the earth and trees, setting them ablaze. Seeing the alarmed looks on his nephews' faces, he stopped his fire blast. He made a sweeping motion from his fully extended arm, back to his chest. The fires died down with the movement and extinguished by the time his hand reached his breast. It was not dissimilar from an oil lamp, in which the wick was turned down to douse the flame.
Next, Anvar clenched both fists and his entire body glowed with orange magic. As if carried by a gentle breeze, he lifted off the ground and glided just over their heads. He circled the opening and hovered just above the treetops. He stretched forth his hand and pointed it at Rander. The young elf began to glow with the orange essence as he too lifted off the ground.
Terrified, Rander reached back for the safety of the soil, but he had risen too high to reach. He squirmed and fought but continued to rise.
“Relax,” called Linvin. “Anvar will not let any harm come to you.”
Bander could hardly contain himself as he watched. “Do me next, Uncle! Do me next!”
Anvar circled his finger around his head, making Rander float around the clearing. It was not long before Rander found himself enjoying the flight. He felt like a bird drifting on wisps of air. After several circuits of the area, Anvar landed along with Rander.
“That was incredible,” Rander cried as he ran up to hug his uncle.
Anvar sat on a log, out of breath. He held up his hand to refuse the hug and then rested his head on his knees. “It has been a long time since I used that much magic,” he said. “That was very taxing.”
The part of the magical equation about it being physically draining finally made sense to the cousins. They would ask no more from their uncle that day.
Well tomorrow is a big day in our house. There’s not a book coming out or a birthday or anything like that. Tomorrow is the day my oldest daughter has her wisdom teeth removed. The whole situation went down in probably September or October. I wrote a blog on it and it was so far back I gave up looking for the reference date. Having wisdom teeth pulled seems like a normal, understandable event. So why am I so disturbed? Here’s a refresher. Ever since my daughter and I went for a “Consultation” with the oral surgeon things have not felt right about this. He held up the x-ray to the light for a few seconds and said, “My staff will make the appointment for the extraction of the wisdom teeth.” What happened to the “Consultation?” We jumped right into surgery. So I asked what was wrong with her teeth. He told me nothing was wrong now but it was best to pull them out now so that there wouldn’t be a need to do so for any reason down the road. To me it sounded the same as saying, “You might get arthritis in this hand one day so we’re going to cut it off, just in case.” I explained I still had all my wisdom teeth and I was fine. Then the doctor warned me my teeth would start to decay and need to be pulled one day. I disagreed and disagreed but in the end, who has the diploma on the wall? So I signed my daughter up to have her wisdom teeth pulled and the day for it is tomorrow. Some of the teeth have already started coming in. I don’t know if that makes the process better or worse. All I know for sure is my baby is going to be in a lot of pain and I am torn as to its necessity. My cynical side thinks this is just a way to drive up business for oral surgeons in a town saturated with dentists due to the two dental schools. How do you get more patients? You tell them they need to have their teeth pulled as a preventative measure. On the other hand, my dentist always tells me there’s decay on my wisdom teeth. Perhaps one day they will need to be pulled. Will I wish it had been done when I was young? It’s hard to say. And it doesn’t matter anyway. My parents didn’t have money to have my wisdom teeth pulled. Clearly with my daughter I have bought into the terror tactics and agreed with the oral surgeon. If I had not done so then there would be no appointment for tomorrow. I just can’t shake this feeling that I’m doing something unnecessary. My wife defers to my judgment and I listened to the dentist. I suppose I should look at it this way. By having it done my daughter will have some discomfort now but avoid a potentially tough situation down the road when she’s a struggling adult. Aside from the initial pain, there is no downside to having the teeth out now. So I’m going along with it. That doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. My poor daughter.
There once was a time when Valentine’s Day would come and I would plan for it for weeks. I am, after all, a compulsive planner. I would make dinner reservations and buy stuffed animals, chocolates, flowers, balloons and a sappy love story movie. Fast forward over 25 years of dating and marriage and I can’t even get the day off work anymore. After I get home from work it is so late neither of us feels much like going anywhere. When we did go out, we waited ridiculous amounts of time for poor service and late meals. I mean, who wants to work all day and then wait 2 ½ hours for a table at a crowded restaurant? You can’t even find places around here to take reservations. We have at least 6 toy boxes full of stuffed animals in our basement and have given at least that many away to Goodwill over the years. There are still chocolates from 3 years ago hidden in our bedroom. I think we have just about every sappy love story out there now. The balloons always got in the way when I was driving. After about a day they would fall down and the kids would kick them around. I still buy the flowers because my wife really looks forward to those and I buy the chocolates anyway because she still wants to know I care. It’s not that I don’t care about Valentine’s Day anymore. It’s just that we’re past the phase of trying to impress each other. What’s truly important to me is to be with her. She makes any holiday worthwhile. In my writing I received a review some time ago stating the reader’s displeasure that there was no romance in the book and hardly any females. (I don’t remember J.R.R. Tolkien or C. S. Lewis being criticized for that) Before I defend the book, why does it need a love story anyway? We are so conditioned to watching just about any kind of movie and there is a love story. It could be a war movie, horror movie, suspense movie, mystery, action or documentary and people want to see a romance. It doesn’t matter if the story is about two penguins or 2 vampires, the audience wants a love story and more specifically, sex. My first book does not have either of those because they simply didn’t fit into the story at that time. In the second book and upcoming third book there are love stories but you will never have sex scenes in my books. I am not a prude and having 3 children I have nothing against sex. It just has no place in my writing. There are plenty of opportunities to fill in the blanks, as it were but I write books that my children can read and I don’t have to blush when they do so. They are not children’s books but where is it written that adult books must have Adult Content? Maybe I am a prude. I just think your story should be able to stand on its own without the need of sex to keep your reader interested.
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...