My family is very supportive of my writing. That being said, I can say with near certainty that my children do not read my blog. Perhaps if I talked about music or movie icons they might give it a look but for the most part they have no interest in the blog. It is for that reason that I feel comfortable writing about my daughter who is graduating high school in less than two weeks. It seems like just yesterday that she was an obstinate little girl lying in the doorway of her room coloring at 2AM screaming, “You told me to go to my room and I’m in my room. You can’t make me sleep!” She was a handful as a child. I am happy to report that she mellowed quite a bit with age and has grown into a fine and honorable young lady. I am so proud. Her next phase of life is college and her mother and I decided in today’s era she needs a laptop. So that is what we are getting her for graduation. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? I haven’t owned a laptop in 13 years and it would seem the features have changed. I asked around to people I knew who had children go through college and received all sorts of advice. Here is what I have discovered on my fact finding mission. First of all, I want 1 laptop that will last 4 years without becoming too outdated to be useful. I do not want the 17 inch screen because it is cumbersome in the classrooms. It is better to go with the 15 inch screen. I must buy a carrying bag or else it will fall out of normal book bags. Then came the issue of RAM. One person with a little older daughter said 4G of RAM saw her through all 4 years. That was several years ago, however. Computer years are like dog years. If that was 3 years ago, that’s like 21 computer years. Technology becomes outdated that fast. Another situation had a person buying a 4G RAM computer for their son who is in their third year of school. They are having problems with some programs not running on it. That tells me I need more RAM. I’ve settled on 8G. That should give me breathing room for 4 years. Then comes the processor speed. I’m a little in the dark on this one but I do know the faster the processor, the better it runs programs. I have looked on line at hundreds of computers and can’t determine a happy medium. What’s worse, no one seems to be able to tell me more than I know already. I might be at the mercy of the salesman on that one. Then there’s options. I want the DVD/CD burner in case she needs to make presentations. Does she need a camera? What about blue tooth? Actually, what’s the point of blue tooth on a laptop anyway? I have to buy the warranty because I have used mine 18 times already just for viruses and problems in just over a year. It’s comprehensive service. The last factor is cost. Every option raises the price a little more. In the end I usually go overboard but I wish I didn’t feel like this computer stuff was like reading a foreign language in which I only know every third word.
If I were a baker I would love baking the cake from scratch. It is the decorating and finishing I would find tedious. I adore writing books. It is the most fun thing in the world to me. Editing is not. I have the manuscript for my third book, “Mandrean Revenge” (I get excited just saying the name.) It is now time to edit. You would think after so much writing I wouldn’t have many corrections but I would be wrong in that thinking. Perhaps it’s good to have so many errors found. That means fewer were missed and it wouldn’t need to be re-edited like the first books. On the other hand, some of these “corrections” are simply wrong. For example, the name of the gem IS the Red Sapphire. That’s not a description. It’s a title. Likewise, its counterpart is the Blue Sapphire. They need to be capitalized. The editor unknowingly took the capitals out of the entire book. That’s a lot of fixing on my part. To be fair though, most of the corrections needed are my fault. It’s not easy to see your work pulled apart but it makes you a better writer. Constructive criticism is a very effective learning tool. This editor seems civil and that makes the whole process much easier to handle when someone is basically insulting your baby. (See previous blogs on the subject) So in my spare time I will be sifting through the edits and correcting what is needed. What’s important is that when I’m done, my third book will be ready to publish. The hairs on my neck stand on end just thinking about it. Until then I will decorate my cake and take the time to do it right, even though I just want it to be iced and done. Time to get back to it.
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.”
As if on cue, the great door swung open and an army of tailors and servants entered the room. The Lead Tailor observed the scene and commented. “Are we too early? We could return later if breakfast is not over.”
Mandrean addressed the tailor, though he was looking most angrily at Fendri. “Your timing is fine. We are done here. Are we not, Lord Fendri?”
Fendri nodded and said, “I will remove these trays and leave you to your packing, My Master.” Fendri bowed and left with the trays.
Mandrean led the entourage to his room where they began sorting through his closet. Like a child’s doll Mandrean stood in his undergarments in the center of the room as different outfits were placed on his body. Then the tailors would critique the look and ultimately change him into something different.
Even as gnomes go, the one before them was not particularly grand. He was shorter than Rander, but as thick as Bander. Though not husky and rotund like dwarfs, gnomes were quite strong for their size. They had a low center of gravity and powerful arms and legs. In spite of those strengths, they were far more likely to talk their way out of a fight than to actually partake. A rare breed to be sure, they were seldom found so far south and usually traveled in large groups. To find one gnome in the middle of the territory was an oddity, even to the naive elves.
The gnome did not wear the traditional pointed beard of his people. He was clean-shaven and gave the impression of putting great stock in his appearance. Though certainly not inferring wealth, his clothes were, nonetheless, well-tailored. Colored entirely in blue and gray, he wore what had been a crisp shirt and trousers. Over the shirt were a vest and cloak.
Bander helped the gnome to his feet. “I can manage,” he was told as the gnome slapped his hands away. Stumbling, he managed to stand. He brushed the dirt off his vest and turned his attention to Linvin. “You had no right getting involved in that disagreement!”
“Disagreement?” laughed Rander. “It looked like the only thing they hadn’t agreed on was how they were going to dispose of you.”
“Hey, Buttercup!” the gnome called to Rander. “Do you mind? I was talking to Elf-Man over here. Just keep your mouth shut while the grown-ups talk.”
Rander was incensed “You have some nerve, talking to us like that after we saved your life.”
The gnome calmly walked over and kicked Rander in the shin with his boot. Rander bent down to grab the leg in reaction. Once his head had lowered, the gnome put his mouth by Rander’s ear and screamed. “I didn’t ask for your help! I don’t want your help! When I have something to say to you, I will say it to you! Now sit down and shut up.” The gnome chopped with his open hand at the back of Rander’s knee and the elf fell to the ground.
As Rander rolled around in pain, the gnome walked over to Linvin. “Bit of an annoying one you got there, aye, Elf-Man?”
Linvin was surprisingly amused. “He has his moments, my good gnome, but by and by, he is still my kin. He did not deserve your treatment any more than I believe you deserved the treatment by those men. I do not find your gratitude for our efforts to be in keeping with custom. Perhaps you wish we had not come along when we did?”
The gnome looked each party member in the eyes for a few moments at a time. Bander looked away from the gnome’s brazen stare. Rander was angered but also looked away, turning his attention to his pain. Anvar looked straight back like some curious flower had been brought to his attention. Linvin watched the gnome the entire time and did not blink when their eyes met. As if they had rehearsed, a wicked smile appeared on both their faces at the same time. They looked like they were the only ones in the group knowing the answer to a riddle.
Bernard Foong was kind enough to put me on his blog today. Check it out at http://bernardfoong.typepad.com/in_the_harem/2015/05/the-sapphire-chronicles-by-rival-gates.html
In a pleasant surprise “Quest for the Red Sapphire” is still listed on Amazon at .99! It was supposed to come down but has not yet. Here’s a great chance to dive into a great adventure. http://amzn.to/1npYd0S
I have a tendency to see the world a little differently than some other people and I’m ok with that. In my mind, I am an artist. I paint pictures with words. I also think many people are artists in a wider interpretation. The bricklayer is creating a masterpiece I could never make. The person handling my 401k puts together the right blend of investments to make my assets grow. Mechanics working on my car do a wonderful job of putting it back together so it will work for me and be safe. The person cutting my hair takes a shaggy mess and creates a less shaggy mess out of it. If you really look at the world from an open viewpoint, there are artists all around. I am pleased to count myself among them. Then I ran into someone the other day I was working with who said, “So you’re just a writer?” The Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World” in my head came to a screeching halt. ‘Just a writer?’ That cut me to the quick relatively speaking, I have accomplished what only a select few in the world have. Many more have tried and failed. Even more never had the nerve to try in the first place. I would never say someone was just a bricklayer or an investment banker or a mechanic or hair dresser. These are hardworking people who take pride in their work and so am I. Writing may not require heavy lifting or other manual labor but it is a hard job all the same. You have a vast array of characters you must develop and make real for the reader. They each must have their own storyline. Those storylines must intertwine with the main tale. Then you must have it all planned out and placed with the events in order. From there you must dance from one point to another in the story through dialogue and minor scenes. When it works you pull it together to have your masterpiece. When it doesn’t work, you go back and find where it went astray. It is a painstaking act of love. There is no feeling as satisfying as when the story comes together. Then you have it published and get feedback from readers. This is like giving your 5th grade speech in front of the world. Some people won’t like it. Others will love what you have done. They are the ones who fortify you. When you have a down day, you can read those positive comments about how your book was a positive part of their life. That spurs you on. So when someone says I’m ‘Just a writer’ I feel an immediate outrage and then remember that this person likely has no idea what goes into my art. My anger turns to pity and I move on. They aren’t worth the explanation.
I have just finished a stretch of 12 eleven hour plus work days in a row at my day job. I was kept going by my memory that I could get back to book editing after this was all over. Today is my first day off and I have to say, as much as I love my writing, all I want to do is sleep. I feel guilty about that but it is true. Perhaps after a nap I can start work again or else tonight. Writing is my passion. It is one of the greatest things to come into my life. But I am not a young man anymore. My body is aching in places I didn’t even know I used. I will jump back in the saddle and work on my books…after a little rest. The .99 sale on “Quest for the Red Sapphire” was a smashing success. The book moved up over 1,000,000 spots on the best seller list at Amazon at one point. I am so glad so many people have started the journey. It is a fun trek to take! Thanks to all the new followers.
Rander rubbed his eyes and asked, “Why are you waking us up now. It is not even light yet.”
“We must move out now,” Linvin answered. “Any farmer with livestock and crops still in the fields this far into the fall will be up at the break of day. We must not be discovered here. Furthermore, anyone running that store would find items missing when they open. In a farm community that store would open when the farmers awake. With the ground muddied by the rain there is a chance we could be tracked here. It is better to think a local thief had sought refuge here than us. Saddle your horses and leave nothing behind that links to us. When you are done I will introduce you to Miri.”
“She is awake.” Bander cried.
Linvin put his fingers to his lips and reminded him to stay quiet. “She is in pain and is confused. So do not overwhelm her right now. She says she can ride. Bander, I will assign you to aid her. Ride by her side and hold her reins if need be. See to it she does not fall from the saddle. Everyone else make sure we have all the apples we can carry and full water skins.”
“What is the plan?” Rander inquired.
“We will flee to the south,” Linvin responded. “We would be expected to head back to the east as we came but that is too obvious. It will undoubtedly be re-enforced by the time we reached the river mouth. To the west we already know the number of troops concentrated along the Silver River. A stealthy escape would prove most difficult in that direction. We will go to the Lake and find a boat. Then we will sail to the south shore and continue our journey home.”
“Do you think they are pursuing us?” Rander wondered.
“Most assuredly,” Linvin answered. “We damaged Mandrean’s home and his pride. He will bring all he has to bare in order to prevent our escape. Though you scattered their horses at the message depot, me must assume that the entire Empire has been put on alert and that prices will surely be placed on our heads. That means no contact with anyone. We must disappear. Anyone seeing us will bring the weight of the army down upon us. That will be enough questions for now. Be ready to leave by the time I return with Miri.” He turned and went to the injured woman’s side.
He found Miri feeling her side where Hugon struck her. Her face winced as she touched the wound. “There are at least a couple of broken ribs in there,” Linvin said as he sat down. “Fortunately, they do not appear to be dislocated. They will heal in time. Until then, keep your breaths shallow and make no sudden movements.”
Miri’s eyes cleared and she gave herself the rest of the water Linvin left in the cup. She looked at Linvin and gave a weak laugh. “You have me practically mummified here. I doubt I will be making any sudden movements. Who was it that undressed me and bound me like this?”
“For your information,” Linvin said firmly, “It is called a field dressing and I was the one who applied it to you.”
“It hardly seems appropriate for you to see my body unclothed,” Miri firmly noted.
“There was no time for civility,” Linvin stated. “Either I had to tend to you or you would be dead. If you still are displeased then you had better get used to it. If we live to see the end of this day I am going to have to change those dressings. Fear not. When tending wounds I look at you as just another man.”
Miri pursed her lips and said, “Well if that is how it will be I suppose I will just envision you as a woman. Then neither of us is embarrassed.”
“Whatever gives you comfort, My Lady” Linvin said with tongue in cheek. Linvin prepared a sack to cover her upper and lower parts. He used his magic to lift her into the air so he could easily dress her without causing pain.
Drawing his sword Linvin strutted in a confident manner from the protection of the rocks. The men and gnome took no notice of him as he came within striking distance.
At last, he spoke, “This gnome must be quite the terror if the three of you are required to subdue him.”
The men were surprised and stopped their attack. Tossing the gnome to the ground, they moved to encircle Linvin. “This is none of your affair, traveler. Be gone with you or share the fate of the gnome.”
Linvin laughed with aconfident grin. “You three are pathetic. What crime has this fellow committed that warrants such a beating?”
The man doing the talking drew his sword and pointed it at Linvin. The others followed suit. “Like I said, Mister, it’s none of your business.”
Linvin looked at the tip of the sword in amusement. He shook his head and smirked. “Oh, my dear gentlemen, you are about to do something most foolhardy. If you keep weapons out of this, I will deliver a sound thrashing to you. But if you insist on using your blades, I will be forced to kill you. Think,for just a moment,before you throw your lives away.”
The man closest to Linvin was incensed.
“Why, you impertinent little dog!” He raised his sword to strike his foe. Linvin anticipated the move and knocked the sword to the ground with a sweeping blow from his own. In the same motion, he wheeled around and struck the pommel into the man’s forehead, depositing him on his bottom.
Before the other men could respond to the action, Linvin raised his arm and made a forward gesture with his hand. The twins appeared from behind the rocks with their bows drawn and pointed squarely at the other humans. The men froze in their positions, close enough to see the intricacies of the arrow tips.
Linvin saw that his blow had sliced the man’s sword hand. The extent of the wound was obscured as blood flowed freely from the region. He cowered on the ground and pressed it against his shirt to stop the bleeding. Linvin kicked the man, sending him to his back. Then Linvin stuck a foot on wounded man’s chest and brought the blade of his sword directly against the man’s neck.
Linvin held his free hand aloft as he addressed the other men. “Gentlemen, allow me to introduce my cousins. They can strike a sparrow’s eye with an arrow from five times this distance, so cutting down two spineless wretches like you would prove little challenge. If you think that I am bluffing, then by all means, make a move. Otherwise, I need only lower my arm to order your demise.” The men still standing lowered their weapons.
Linvin once again turned his attention to the man on the ground. He pressed the blade with greater firmness against the man’s neck. “Your friends make better choices than you, good sir.
Now you will answer me. Why do you terrorize this gnome?”
The man answered with the question “Who are you?”
“I am the one who’s going to be burying you if you do not answer me now,” Linvin responded ashis anger swelled.
The man shook with fear but managed to speak. “This gnome is a thief and he was getting his due.”
Linvin shook his head. “I do not care if he is the most wanted criminal in the world. It still should not take three men to handle him. You will let him go!”
The man became obstinate. “I don’t take orders from elves or half-breeds.”
Linvin raised his eyebrows at the statement. Then he removed his foot from the man’s chest and ground his heel onto the man’s wounded hand. The human shrieked in pain. “You are in no position to bargain here,” Linvin told him. “Swear to end your vendetta against this gnome.”
The man nodded his head in agreement. Linvin removed his heel from the man’s hand but kept his blade to the man’s throat. “Now tell your friends to drop their weapons.” The man urged his companions to disarm, but they did not move.
Linvin began to lose patience. “You know my cousins are becoming fatigued from holding those arrows. If you wait much longer they might just slip through their fingers. I would hate for such an unfortunate accident to take your lives. So drop your weapons or I drop my arm!”
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...