I had another review of “Quest for the Red Sapphire” posted this week. It received 4 out of 5 stars. I have said repeatedly that I am quite happy with that rating. These are the reviews where I learn what hit home for different people and what didn’t. Let’s face it, in a 492 page book there’s going to be something you don’t like. The key component holding this back from being a 5 star review was the lack of a dominant female character in the book. That one kills me because I wrote a very strong female character into the story. Then the book ended up being over 950 pages and I had to break it in two right before she is introduced. It took a year of submissions to discover a book of that length would never be published unless it was the Bible. I hated separating it like that but I felt I stopped “Quest for the Red Sapphire” at a good place to make you want to read more. Let me assure you, “Sapphire Crucible” will answer your questions and open new ones to be addressed in my next book, “Mandrean Revenge.” “Crucible” still has loads of action and some fun head games. It is gratifying that I can talk about a story I started when I was 13 years old and still have passion for. My father would tell me the great stories could be read over and over and never grew dull. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were like that for me. I set out to create such a book. I suppose I will never know in my lifetime if my books fall into that category. A couple of readers have gone back to reread them to catch things they missed. For now, though, at least I never lose my love of these tales. The new books excite me and the first two inspire me. I hope you have the chance to read one of them. I am totally biased here but I think they are worth the time to read. One will make you want to know what happens next.
Well, the day has finally come that I talked about so long ago. As I mentioned in a previous blog my daughter is having Senior Pictures taken. Well over twenty odd years ago I was married. That morning I woke up, took a shower and threw on some travelling clothes. Then I went to McDonald’s for breakfast with my brother (Best Man). After that we went to the church where the rest of our immediate family was and got dressed in our formal wear for the wedding. The rest of our time was spent waiting around in rooms. Apparently it was not so calm for my wife. There was running around, hair appointments, nail appointments (Something went wrong somewhere in there) and there was a lot of yelling by people led by my bride. At the hearing of the story I was so thankful I did not have to bear witness to the event. Fast forward to now and it’s payback time. My daughter and wife have made several long shopping trips to find outfits to wear for the pictures. I have neither seen the outfits or been told how much they cost. That always worries me just a little. Today my daughter is running around getting “Things” she needs for her photo shoot at 5PM. I have to repeat, I just don’t get it. In Canada you came to school on picture day, they took your picture and that was it. Either a lot has changed, I lived in a sheltered area, or its just different back here in the States. It is such a production. She has had to try on everything again and get her boyfriend’s opinion. I never saw anything. Apparently my point of view is unnecessary. When this started my daughter said she wanted something simple where she would just wear an outfit and have her picture taken. That was May. We are now in late July and the picture (no pun intended) has changed. Now there will be something like three wardrobe changes and then there are questions about backgrounds, indoor and outdoor, black and white pictures, special effects and props. Everything we add makes the price go higher and higher. It’s like in “Father of the Bride” where the daughter says she wants a simple, small wedding and it ends up being a huge, expensive affair. I admit I am looking at the dollar signs and I should be in the “Whatever makes you happy” mode but we’re just talking about Senior Pictures. I mean is it that big a deal? Maybe it’s only important for girls? Then again, all the photo studios that sent us ads had lots of boy’s pictures displayed as well. I promised I would not fuss or complain and my presence there is not required. Perhaps that’s for the best. Once again, I just don’t get it. Just think, in five more years I get to do it all again with my more fussy daughter. Maybe it will be cheaper with her. LOL Yeah, right.
Sorry this is coming so late. Here is this week’s excerpr from “Sapphire Crucible.”
As the room parted, Necromancer came into view. He moved but his robe showed no motion from his legs. As he grew near his eyes became a deeper red and nearly appeared ablaze as he approached the elves. He stopped directly before the guards in the front of the column. “Captain,” he ordered. “You and your men may return to your duties.” The captain looked puzzled. “I certainly would never disobey you, My Lord, but we were told these are the most dangerous prisoners we have ever held. With Lord Mandrean about to begin Court, I would think it would be wise to stay with them. After all, Lord Mandrean’s protection is the most important factor.” “Your concern is noted,” Necromancer answered as anger swelled in his voice. “There are over a dozen Imperial Guards already stationed in this room. That is more than sufficient. Your men have other responsibilities they are neglecting. I suggest they return to them. As for our Dear Lord Mandrean, I am here. There is no greater protection to be had. You are dismissed. Pray I do not recall your questioning of my orders in the future. Such a recollection may displease me and be detrimental for you.” The captain gave the fist salute and said firmly, “By your leave, My Lord.” He turned on his heal and led the guards from the chamber. Necromancer smiled a fiendish grin as he approached Linvin. “I see you have been restored to health. That is good. I may not have use for you but I will be prepared all the same, Grithinshield.” He walked over to the twins and looked at them with contempt. Then he glared at Linvin. “I can see why you loathe them. They are miserable excuses for elves. To be fair, elves never have impressed me as a group. These two are particularly under whelming. Had I been you, I would have eliminated them long ago.” “They are my kin,” Linvin stated indignantly. “A fact I am sure you have regretted on more than one occasion,” remarked Necromancer. “They may be of your blood but you would have done well to shed it long ago. Your trip would have been far easier. Then again, I may be giving you too much credit. Perhaps you enjoy having inferiors around. I personally despise it, but have no choice in the matter. I have no equal with whom to associate.” He moved on to Anvar. “You certainly draw a pathetic comparison to me. What is the world coming to when everyone is so scared of a circus freak like you? An Orange Magician, eh? You are better served as a sideshow trickster. At least that would earn the slightest respect. Instead you pass yourself off as a force to be handled with extreme caution. You could not harm me on your best day. “There are many here who may fear your tricks. For that reason I will be clear. I will be removing all your restraints soon. After all, we do not want the ‘Emperor’s Prisoners’ to be uncomfortable, do we? Then you will all sit where I tell you and do nothing until called upon. If any of you make the slightest effort to escape, you will only leave this chamber when your ashes are swept aside.” He paced before the prisoners with his hands behind his back. “That means, no swordplay, fisticuffs or that sad thing Anvar Greenlith calls magic. Remember, you are nothing more than a means to an end for me. Even at that, you are a backup plan. Your incineration would at worst be an inconvenience to me. So do not bother convincing yourselves that you are indispensable.” Necromancer lifted his eyebrows and the shackles on the party disappeared as though they were never there. Then he pointed to a bench. “Sit and do not move. You will know when I want you.” As the elves sat where they were told, Necromancer walked with great anticipation toward the throne. He turned and stood before the seat to the right of the seat of power and watched the people take their places
It’s that time again. Here is an excerpt showing the formation of Linvin’s father’s company. I based it on the story of my own grandfather opening a chain of luggage stores during the height of the depression when he was out of work. I hope you like it.
“He went home that night and planned with your mother and Gradon. They stayed up all night and formed a plan. In the morning, Dirk and Gradon went to visit the young man’s father. It must have been quite a pitch Dirk made. It was something to the effect that he would make the deals and provide the merchandise, while Gradon ran the retail end. It was a good fit for Gradon who was more of a storekeeper than salesman and had little ambition beyond being just that. Given three months, Dirk promised he would earn the money to pay the three- month’s rent. Afterward, the rent would come every month. Dirk explained that the property had not sold in years and that the worst thing to come of the venture would be three months with the building off the market. Mr. Elmsworth agreed under the condition that his son was only to be an employee. He would own no part in the business. It was his way of protecting Gradon from the unfavorable shadow that failure in such a risky venture would bring. Somehow, the pitch worked and the Grithinshield Trading Company was formed.” “Business in the country on the whole, had been poor for many years prior to the war and the prospect of starting a new company without capital seemed ludicrous. Still, your father had a plan and it all hinged on his personality. Many manufacturers were hurting and needed to sell their products. The largest problem was that the three provinces of Sartan: Human, Elven and Dwarven had such animosity for each other that their goods rarely traveled beyond their ethnic borders. Dirk set out to change that. He resigned from the scrap company and took to the road to meet with his various contacts. They were all having a hard time and knew Dirk had always been fair with them. Dirk asked them each to give him three months credit to sell their products. If he failed to sell them, he would return the unsold amounts along with payment for the items sold. If it worked, he would order more goods. Every vendor agreed and sealed the deal with a handshake.” “Within a week, Dwarven armor and weaponry stocked the shelves of the downtown store. Next, Elven bows and woodworking came. The people of Fraylic bought everything they could get their hands on. Soon, Dirk’s suppliers told their associates about the miracle in Fraylic. By the end of the month, the Grithinshield Trading Company was selling everything from fresh produce and grains to the finest jewelry in the land.” “Not only did he pay off his rent early, but he bought the building within a year. The company has not stopped growing since.” “But this was no easy period for your mother. Money at home was scarce. Everything went back into the business and before they knew it, there was a little Grithinshield running around. Dirk was always gone on some trip making some deal while his friend was satisfied minding the store.” “Jelena was miserable and felt alone. After over three years of near constant travel, Dirk came home one day and her misery finally dawned on him. He decided right then that his family would want for nothing. With his profits from the company, he purchased the biggest house in the most elite neighborhood he could possibly afford. And although the fence was small, he made certain that the gate was huge.” Linvin just stared at the gate. “That’s how we came to have the gate and this house,” he added. “Your father did not stop there. He knew that society may have accepted him, but was still quite cold about his marriage to an elf. Jelena would not even go to social events due to the disdain the bluebloods showed for her. Dirk would not stand for the treatment of his wife. Thus, he resolved that society in this town would revolve around his family and not the other way around. If people wanted his friendship and thereby his business, they would not only need to accept his wife but embrace her as one of their own as well.” “After you were sent away, Grithinshield Manor became Grithinshield Mansion and anyone who wanted to do business in this town, or this country for that matter, was required to bow to your mother as a noble woman of the highest rank and pay homage.” “So you see, my boy, your mother only wanted to be a housewife and mother, then her son was sent away. After that, her home became the center of society. Now Dirk is gone and her son has come home to despise the life in which she has been left to lead. She is alone, though surrounded at the same time. This is her chance to make the pretentious snobs of Fraylic acknowledge her as they did when Dirk was here.”
So I received this call today. It was some IT person for a company contracted by Microsoft. She said my Windows 8 had been sending error messages to Microsoft and that they could cause a system crash in which I could lose all my data. I was skeptical because, quite frankly, it’s in my nature. She told me to input some information on my computer to bring up a screen. It seemed harmless enough so I did it. An “Event” page popped up and started showing me “Critical Errors” with the dates and times they occurred on my computer. There were over 1900 of them and as I said in yesterday’s blog, I have only had the computer for 3 months. I was shocked. Then the lady on the phone asked me if I saw the errors and told her yes. She said they needed to be taken care of right away to avoid a crash. I was freaking out. They hadn’t implanted anything. Those errors were on my computer. Then she said again that they were contracted by Microsoft to fix the problem. I was willing to listen. So I asked what I needed to do to fix it. She told me one of their computer technicians could take control of my computer and fix the problems. ALARM BELLS IN MY HEAD. “Danger Will Robinson. Danger.” As I said yesterday, I have had a lot of viruses and the service I PAID FOR routinely takes over my computer remotely to remove the problems. That is one thing. I would be calling them and I knew whom I was dealing with. This is just some random lady with a foreign accent telling me she wants free reign over my computer. There is a distinct difference there. So I told the lady I didn’t have time to do it right now and hung up on her. Then I immediately started and instant chat with my antivirus provider. They said they could search for a virus. I told them the computer was working fine. So they asked what was said and I told them. They instructed me that Microsoft doesn’t farm out their service issues and if there was a problem I would have been contacted by them directly or sent an update. The likely situation, according to my service people was that the lady on the phone wanted access to my computer to view my financial records or personal information. IT WAS A SCAM. The errors I observed apparently appear on every computer on that screen are not a concern unless the computer is giving you problems. If that were to happen, you should get help through a service you know and trust BY CALLING THEM. Never trust some stranger calling you asking for access to your computer. It makes sense when you have a moment to process. It’s the difference between asking a friend or acquaintance for a ride as opposed to someone pulling up to you on the side of the road and saying the neighborhood was dangerous and you should get in. At that moment when you see those errors, however, all you can think of is making them go away. It pays to be a cynic.
I’m still getting used to Windows 8. About 3 months ago I had to finally replace my Windows Vista. To its credit, it served me a long time and had been on life support for a while. I naturally had to upgrade to Windows 8 and have been finding my way ever since. As I went to click the icon to open Microsoft Word so I could write this I paused and realized I don’t know what half of the buttons on the home screen actually do. If you have Windows 8 then hopefully I am not alone. If you don’t have it then the best way I can describe it is it being like those fast food restaurant ordering systems where people used to input the parts of your order. Now they just have pictures they push. As with all things, it is probably easier to understand if you weren’t used to doing it another way before. I have been bypassing the screen with the buttons and going straight to the desktop which looks just like the old Windows one. Even on that screen, however, there are several icons that came preinstalled on the computer that I have yet to touch. I tried a couple of them but it seemed like they were setting up programs I was unfamiliar with. So I stopped. I bought the warranty with this computer because I happen to believe in warranties. I almost always get my money’s worth out of them. This warranty came with its own antivirus program and support network. When I figured in what I have been paying for antivirus over the years it nearly added up to the price of the warranty so the decision was even easier. In the last seven years of having my old computer I had 1 virus while using the Norton Antivirus Software. It cost $120 to have the virus removed at the time. In the 3 months I have had this computer I have had 9 viruses! At one point I had 3 in one week. On the plus side, the service removes them for free. This leaves me with several possible conclusions. 1) Norton just didn’t notice the viruses infecting my computer most of the time. I find this unlikely because usually I notice the computer is acting strange even before the virus protection warns me. 2) Since Vista was such an old format the viruses were not aimed at it anymore in the way they would be with the current program. Again, I find that unlikely. In spite of the differences I have mentioned in the operating system, the basis of windows seems the same. 3) The new antivirus is more sensitive than Norton. There is some credibility here. The technicians fixing the problems have found a lot of “Bloat Ware” or unnecessary programs that have downloaded with program updates. It’s kind of like getting a shot at the doctor where they put more than one medicine in the syringe. The 4th possibility is that this antivirus protects as well as plastic wrap with holes in it. Once again, there could be some merit there. It’s great that they remove the virus for free but 9 in 3 months? Something is amiss. Am I the only one having these problems? To quote Led Zeppelin, “...and it makes me wonder…”
Here is the excerpt from “Crucible” I had promised you over the weekend. Enjoy.
Their discussion ended as the riotous noise of soldiers on the stairs interrupted. Three goblin guards came down the hallway and stopped at Miri’s cell. “On your feet, Your Highness. It is time for you to move.” “Which level will I be going up to this time?” she asked as she pulled herself off the floor. “Up?” asked one of the goblins. “Your time in the jails above is over. Lord Mandrean personally decreed you be handed over to Hugon for interrogation. You are going down to the Room of Horrors. If you do hold any information, you would be wise to divulge it quickly. The Sergeant has no patience and will use every means at his disposal to extract it from you.” “I swear I don’t know any of the things you have asked about.” Miri argued as they removed her forcibly from her cell. “Then you will die a slow, methodical, agonizing death,” the guard said. “Sometimes Hugon lets us watch when the torture really gets intense. I hope I am one of the lucky ones who gets to watch you die.” Linvin heard every word and stood at the edge of his cell, holding the bars. “Take me instead,” he called to them. “I will go in her stead.” The guard who had been speaking had a noticeable limp and shuffled over to Linvin. “What’s this, Princess? You’ve made a friend in here? How sweet. Much as Hugon is eager to filet your body, Mr. Grithinshield, Lord Necromancer has other plans for you. In fact, I hear them coming for you right now.” Loud clanking of armor could be heard on the stairs. “Whatever Necromancer has planned for you, I am sure you will wish I had let you trade places with her before it is over.” A half dozen Imperial Guards entered from the stairs in a single, straight column. Along with their usual armaments were spears held high. The Captain who led their journey from the river was at the lead end. “Out of our way, Goblin Scum,” he ordered as he knocked a goblin to the ground with his shield. The goblin addressing Linvin rapidly scurried away and held Miri tightly. He kept his prisoner between himself and the Imperial Guards. The goblins did not move, as they were petrified with fear. The Captain addressed Linvin’s entourage. “I hope you have been well fed and cared for per Necromancer’s instructions. Lord Mandrean has requested your presence in the Great Hall. My orders are to take you there. It will work in this way. My lieutenant will shackle you. While he does that, a blade will be held at your uncle’s throat. Any move to resist us will result in his immediate death. Then another will be held and so forth. Lord Necromancer wants you all in good health. Emperor Mandrean cares not if you live or die. He does not even know you have been here for weeks. His orders, however, countermand all others. So, to be clear, I would prefer to deliver you to the Emperor alive. I, however, have no problem carrying your decomposing bodies to the hall if you resist. Are we clear?” The elves reluctantly nodded. The cell door was opened and the spears were thrust toward Linvin and the twins to hold them at bay. A guardsman strode into the room and seized Anvar with one arm, pulling him tight. With the other hand he drew a knife from his belt and held it tightly against Anvar’s exposed neck. His nephews gave no struggle as the irons were attached to their wrists and ankles. Once the prisoners were secure they were led from the cell where they formed a line with three soldiers to their front and rear. As the Captain prepared to move the column he noticed the goblins had not moved in the slightest during the exchange. “Are you transferring that prisoner or just giving her a better view of the hall?” he asked with disdain. The gimpy goblin answered meekly, “We just wanted to stay out or your way, Captain.” “Well, like everything else you people do,” the Captain said, “You are a miserable failure. You are blocking our path so move on before we throw you all in a cage.” The goblins dragged Miri to the stairs. She desperately looked back to finally catch a glimpse of Linvin’s face. He too bobbed his head back and forth to see the person with whom he’d conversed on so many occasions. When their eyes met, all the horrible thoughts about what was about to happen disappeared. All that mattered in that enchanting moment was seeing each other for the first time. Overriding all other instincts, they longed to be together. Such events are called moments because they do not last very long. That was the case with their mutual gaze.
I am putting off my excerpt from “Crucible until Tuesday’s blog. Today I have the honor of being a guest host on Nat’s Book Blog. The folks there really did a great job. There is a blurb, a biography and an excerpt. So check it out at:
Today is excerpt day from “Quest for the Red Sapphire.” Here is another piece for your reading pleasure. Jelena and Anvar followed him to the porch. “What is wrong, Linvin?” his mother asked. “Tonight, all of Fraylic shall celebrate the return of her favorite son.” Anvar read every move being made and remained silent. “Come now, Mother! The only person in this town who thinks of me as a favorite son is you. My childhood is not filled with pleasant memories of the people of Fraylic and their treatment of me.” “Be that as it may, My Son, wealth and social status have a way of blinding bigotry. Remember that I too have felt that sting, particularly since your father disappeared. Tonight, we will not only be accepted, but also honored. I have it all planned.” Linvin walked over to the rail of the porch and grasped it tightly. His anger wanted to explode in myriad directions. Deep down, he continued to remind himself that his mother loved him and wanted to share it with the world. He had been home only a few moments and he would not let his pride ruin the event; tempting as it was to him. As he looked over the pristine orchard, an angry thought he could not suppress came to mind. “What happened to my archery range?” Linvin asked. “The archery range?” his mother repeated. “Well after you left, there really was no point in having it, so it was removed when we transplanted the orchard.” Linvin could take no more. He lashed verbally, “But it was mine! It was the last thing in here that was mine and now, even that is gone!” Jelena thought for a moment, in a state of confused sadness. “You still have your room. That has not changed since you left.” Linvin turned spitefully and said, “Well, according to your schedule, that is where I am supposed to be right now. So if you will excuse me, Mother. Anvar, I will retire to my room so that I may prepare for my coronation tonight.” He brushed past them and stormed up the stairs. His mother called after him, “It’s a gala, not a coronation, son.” Her only response was a slamming door. Jelena was a bright woman, though the art of conversation was never her strong suit. She never intended to offend. It was simply a matter of not thinking through statements and their consequences before they were said. The quality was an endearing, if not aggravating trait. She turned to Anvar and pleaded, “What did I say? I don’t understand his anger at being home.” “My sweet sister, you must remember, Linvin’s memories of home are not of this place. He needs time to adjust. I do not think a schedule leading to his fatherhood was quite the way to acclimate him. Would you agree?” Jelena fell into a chair and hung her head. “I have dreamed of this day for so long and have ruined it in the time it takes to brew tea.” Anvar knelt and took her hands. “Nothing is ruined Jelena. I’ll go talk to him in a bit and all will be fine. Now, see to your preparations.” “Thank you Anvar, mother always said you were the wise one.” “Mother was right every once in a while,” the old elf smiled. Jelena hit his shoulder and went about her business.
I just passed 1500 Twitter followers. I’m in the process of trying to determine if that is impressive, not impressive or just lame. It took me a while to reach this point so I’m going to go with “Impressive.” The nuances of Twitter still escape me. When I go to the site I kind of feel like I’m looking at a stock ticker scrolling by. Most of the information doesn’t make much sense to me. Some of what is written is starting to make sense. I have figured out what some of the short forms mean. A lot of it, though, is like some secret code only certain people are meant to understand. Take for example: “Not real http://wp.me/p4MLK0-22” . I guess you have to go to their web site to figure it out. But there is nothing here that makes me want to know what it is about. Then there are the funny ones: “Perry is an idiot. If brains were dynamite he wouldn't have enough blow his nose.” I don’t know who Perry is but he seems to have issues. I feel like I’m sitting in a n airport and hear snippets of conversations as people go by like: “Nathan is driven by.. FINDING JORDIE.” I suppose that has relevance to someone. The difference is that in an airport there is a whole conversation going on and I only hear part of it. On Twitter, many times what I read is all there is to the conversation. Here’s one I think is about a book. Actually, I hope it is about a book. “The perfect #BeachRead filled with #vampires, strippers & escorts.” That’s the whole message. It doesn’t tell you what the book is so I’m not sure how you would know where to find this information if you happen to like that combination. Then there are the people you are glad do not have your address: “I get really jealous of people who are happy and it's an issue.” Right. Ok. How about this one: “Ok so you made your bed and now you have to sleep in it....but don't make it worse by folding hospital corners.” What is that supposed to mean? Might be too deep for me. How about this one: “Life is pain, anyone who says differently is selling something.” Interesting point of view. Then we go back to the mysterious code: “My god stop getting worked up over A7X getting hacked you mongs.” Perhaps I’m dim but that one was way over my head. A final strange one is “you probably have to buy her a diamond ring or at least a cupcake.” That’s the whole message. Nothing comes before or after. Most of Twitter seems to be ads. There is not a filter so some strange posts show up from time to time. I’m slowly figuring it out but sometimes ignorance is bliss.
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...