Author, Fantasy, Science Fiction, AD&D

I find myself with little time today. Between  Atolovus’ edits, writing the beginning of chapter thirteen of the second book,  and continuing  on with chapter two of a third book unrelated to the first two, well, ninty-nine percent unrelated anyway, and a dozen other things poking me in the back of my mind, I have elected to keep this post simple. This is the most updated version of chapter two before our current run of edits, which by the way, should the final. We are still playing with the book cover, and our cover designer has introduced some nice beginning versions, but I’m still looking for the right images to complete it. Anyway, I hope you all have a great week, and thanks for reading!

Chapter 2

Atolovus

“Holy Quorydun, what is that putrid smell?” Druhahn exclaims, glancing about as his hand retreats to his sword handle. He then turns and calls back good-naturedly, “Sarge, you been eating bergin again or what?” The other six soldiers begin laughing quietly as they smile at each other and their leader. Sergeant Sarcius Konstantin and the other five mon catch up to Druhahn and the hair on the back of Sarcius’ neck rises the moment the stench of death reaches his nostrils.

Sarcius forces himself to ignore it as he replies in tandem with shifting and suspicious hazel eyes. “Druhahn, there is nothing I would eat that would make me smell like this—inside or out!” Their leader raises his broad tip spear and motions toward the vegetation around them, his eyes shooting back to his mon. “Stay focused,” he growls, “We need to determine the source of this smell. I reckon this’ll get worse before it gets better.” Sarcius’ mon nod in agreement before they begin looking around.

Each soldier pulls a square piece of green material out from within their armor, quickly wrapping the cloths over the lower half of their faces then tying them off behind their necks. Without further word, they split up in pairs and begin poking about with their spears and swords among the undergrowth to each side of the road while two young mon stand guard back to back in the middle of the road, their quivers uncapped, arrows nocked, and bows drawn.

After a short time and from further into the orange brush, Sarcius comes to an abrupt standstill, all color draining from his face as the red-orange hair on his arms stands up. He starts looking around wildly as panic rises in his chest and neck for just a few moments before his training takes over. “Mon, get over here—now!” All the rangers quickly converge on Sarcius’ location as their imaginations swim. When they finally break through the sudden clearing, even the most seasoned mon stops and gags.

 

The Results

Not surprisingly, I survived my first signing. I think there were about fifteen of us in all. In the two hours I was there, I sold two copies—better than none! I had a lot of people asking if I’d created the anthology to which I honestly said no, but that a number of authors locally had stories of their own in it. Most people looked, they flipped through it, read the back cover, and asked me an assortment of questions about it. About a third looked interested enough that I thought they might purchase it. I think the first thing I learned is that most people are looking for a single book produced by one or two authors.

I did meet plenty of people, mostly locals. I also learned that I’m more known than I thought I was. I think that is encouraging. And many of them were asking if this was my first novel before they got a good look at it. I’m betting most of those people have seen me at the local writer’s conference I attend every year. I guess that means the writer’s conferences are doing its job in more than one way.

I’m going to have to jot down some notes about the type of stories in Babyshoes. That was one of the problems that I felt sent people away. The usual question, “What is the book about,” is much trickier for me.”

“It’s about lots of things, perspectives from all the world,” I told them. This isn’t the normal novel spanning a single plot line or just a few. I think that might have attributed to a number of them walking away from it.

I also found out there are two signings per year, and I’m hoping to participate in the one in spring. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, and it wasn’t like people were staring at me as if I were holding a sign on the corner, begging for money, or trying to pass me by uncomfortably as their eyes seek any other object to cling to until they’re past the table. Overall, was a good experience, and I’ll be more prepared next time.

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Every year Pybus market hosts a two hour book signing  event created by Bookbuzz. This year, it’s being held from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM Saturday, November 7th. Local authors from all over the area who wish to participate are welcome to attend if they meet the qualifications. Thankfully I do. I also have a local writer who is a part of my writing group attending with me. Her name is Jane Nagler, and she will be signing her memoir titled, By The River. Another member of my writing group, Robbie Scott will be there too. I will be signing our flash fiction anthology, Baby Shoes: 100 Stories by 100 Authors. My story, titled How Many Leaves, can be found on page 200.Janes’ is on page 255.

 

This will be my first book signing anywhere, and I openly admit I’m rather nervous about it. I’ve never been much of a salesperson mostly because I feel like a hypocrite. Why? Because people trying to push me to buy things I’m not really interested in annoys me. Ironically, I now find myself in a similar situation. I think I’m going to try the Q&A approach, meaning I’m going to try to treat this more like a social event and less like a selling event. I’m hoping there be enough curiosity that I can do that, and in the process, I can sell the rest of the books that I have. I’m coming with twelve copies and Jane has some as well. In fact, there a number of other local authors who also have short-stories featured in our Baby Shoes Anthology. If nothing else, it will be a good experience for me.

If you are another one of Babyshoes authors, I’d be honored to meet you. We can trade signings if you are interested. Should any of you have time to drop by, please do! I hope to see some of you there! Also, if for some reason anyone is interested in my book, or wants your copy you bought signed, but can’t make the signing, my wife and I will be enjoying the wine-walk event downtown afterwards. Feel free to catch me there.

I’ll talk more about the signing Monday when I’ll relate my experiences, and how I felt about it, and what I learned. Have a great weekend!

The Conduit

Winter is coming. George R.R. Martin gave this phrase a life of its own. I’m using it as it has always been used. The mountians above us have been buried in white over the weekend, and is only a matter of time now before it drifts into the valleys. I’ve been trying to catch up on all things I should’ve done over the summer. I’ve done fairly well, I’ve gone through three full lists, and I’m on my fourth. Most of it is remodels to the interior of the house and some yardwork on the side. I’ve only gotten about a third of the fence watersealed, and I still need to touch up areas of the backyard decks.

But that is not what is really on my mind right now. With winter on its way in and all my projects coming to a close whether I like it or not, the new project list contains the seven separate books that I’m working on. The reason my current project’s list brings this up is because I find very often that I spend a great deal of time thinking about what I could be writing in my books. I think about characters. I think about their personalities, I even think about their backgrounds, but what I find myself doing the most is listening to dialogue between them. Unfortunately by the time I get done with what I’m working on, there’s no way for me to remember all of it or even get it written down.

I do this at other times as well, like when I’m running. It seems like when I’m off doing something else, the keyboard is not in front of me and my recorder is not near, I feel much like an artist staring at a blank canvas. As I think about what to say or what to think or what to explain or describe, it all becomes very clear. Sometimes it’s a lot like watching a movie. I can see the characters, and I watch what they’re doing and listen to their conversations. I can even feel what they feel, but the moment I turn about to pick up the brush, it disappears like a clear dream upon waking. Perhaps it’s true what they say: the best picture is the one never drawn, and the best book is the one never written, or perhaps it’s simpler than that. Maybe when we are not trying, our mind is more open to what we’re being sent.

 

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Catching Up

It’s fall again, and every year I find myself asking what happened to summer a little bit earlier. It was just here a few minutes ago it seems. This time of the year, I find all the half-done projects that I have been putting off or plain forgot about for whatever reason. I compile a list of each one as I find them in the hopes that I won’t forget. One of these years, I’ll simply compile the list as soon as they come up.

I’m currently sanding down the frame to one of the bedroom doors. At the same time, I’m installing shelves for the windowsills in the living room and cutting the trim to go around the outside of the windows, the doorframes, then the floor. Those all have to be water sealed and left to dry before I can do anything further with them. I also have some rock work I need to finish along the east side of the yard between the house and our fence.

In addition, I need to go pick up some large basalt rocks at a quarry 10 or 15 miles away and bring them back to the house. Why? Because the creek in our back yard has been digging underneath the retaining wall that I built years ago when the kids were young and wanted to play in it. I packed a whole bunch of yard waste and pruning’s at the base of it, and dumped a bunch of smaller gravel into that to hold it down until I can add the weight. Each of the big rocks is going to have to weigh somewhere between eighty and hundred pounds to keep the runoff from washing them away.

As if that weren’t enough, I also need to fix one of our gates because the post split where the hinges were bolted into it. To do that, I have to cut the post off where it enters the concrete in the ground, then bore out the rest of the post left in the concrete. After that, I have to shave down the bottom of the new post until it will fit back into the hole left behind by the first one. Oh yes, let’s not forget to water seal the rest of our deck, and three quarters of our fence line!

I often wonder if fall is named for the loss of leaves on the trees, or rather as the result of driving oneself to exhaustion trying to prepare for winter.

My view of The View

 

My View of The View

Last night my wife mentions something about some television show, called The View, talking trash about nurses. I raised my eyebrow at her and replied, “Really! What seems to be their problem?”

My wife says “It’s on YouTube, I’ll look it up for you. They pissed off a bunch of nurses. They and other medical professionals all over town are griping about it on Facebook.” I continue reading my new copy of Babyshoes flash fiction anthology which I purchased off Amazon recently.

At first, she can’t find it. “Where is it? It’s supposed to be here.” I look over at her. Maybe they pulled it off before they cause more damage than they already have.”

“No, I don’t think so,” she answers, “some of our friends are saying they just watched it…Oh here it is.” She starts playing it, and I lean over toward her to check it out. At first, I’m not very interested. I couldn’t care less about beauty pageants. It’s the same grind every year with new faces. But wait…”oh,” I lean over more, my attention snatched up by a competitor wearing scrubs and a stethoscope. Wow!! Now that is different, I think. We listen to her speech and nod emphatically. She’s got my vote.

Ohh back to The View, “What the fuck?? I can’t believe the crap I hear falling out their mouths as if any of those women know a damn thing about what they are talking about as evidenced by their stethoscope comment among other things! Ok, now I’m pissed, and I start going off. My wife asks, “Are you going to post that?”

“Yea!” I fume,” Damn straight I am!”

So here is my view of the lack of view The View’s muppets possess.

Three generations of women on my wife’s side of the family have been nurses. Most of our friends are connected to one facility or another in one department or another in one medical branch or another.

My wife began as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and worked her ass off to get her nursing certification—that is a two year degree after fulfilling prerequisites to enter the program in the first place, which took her about a year and a half. Those chosen for the two year program are on the high end of the grade scale. If at any time you fail a class or for whatever reason cannot finish a course, you must wait until the following year to retake the class. She wasn’t one of those.

I’ll add that up for you four pompous melon-heads just in case the math is confusing: ( 1.5 +2=3.5) That is half a year shy of her bachelors degree to complete the RN (Registered Nurse) program.

Soon after, she went back to school while working full time as an RN to get her BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) which she completed in the two years expected: (2+3.5=5.5) That is five and a half years of intensive education in science and medical knowledge. That puts her just shy of a Master’s degree in most other fields, and then she worked for eleven years as a nurse and educator in our local hospital.

Then she went back and got her master’s degree as an NP (Nurse Practitioner). That was another two years: (5.5 plus 2=7.5). That is half-a-year-shy of a doctorate in any other field. Maybe you four blithering idiots would like to discuss the level of education you need to sit in front of a camera and talk smack about people and facts you know nothing about.

I wonder, have you four uneducated loudmouths gotten called in at 2:30 in the morning because your staffing didn’t look ahead and now they have an influx of people the usual staff can’t handle? For the next four to six hours, after your previous 12 hour shift which ended at 7 pm the night before, you clean up urine, feces, and puke while putting up with verbal and sometimes physical abuse while you try to make your patients comfortable and relieve them of their suffering, their fears, and their illnesses.

Many of your patients are ungrateful human beings that think you are there to serve them as their maid, but many more are not. Many others have no idea that you are taking care of six or seven different patients with a vast variety of different problems. But that is just one facet of your job.

You also have to keep their medical charts up to date, which is more time consuming than the patients, and wake up doctors during early morning hours to discuss problems with their patient’s care or to call them in to look over the patient themselves. That is often not a pleasant discussion for nursing staff who are sometimes met with verbal abuse by angry doctors. And, another thing I feel you four should be educated on. Not all nurses are women. The nursing field is quickly balancing out the gap between female and male nurses.

I have brothers and sisters in every branch of health care that work long hours; many of whom are single parents. They are often on call and juggle multiple children. They come to work knowing they will be caring for people just like yourselves, who look down on them as below your station.

To be a nurse means you have to actually care about humanity. If you don’t, you won’t be one long. In order to provide your patients with the care they need, you’ll have to leap into mires of disease, mental illness, drug addiction, criminality, and all manner of human suffering in order to pull them out of their nightmare, and return to them some manner of happiness, dignity, and health. Many of those people will return again and again, and you will take care of them again and again.

Oh, a stethoscope is as important to nurses as that little microphone you hide in your fashionable clothing is to your show…. Ahhhh….. Got You!!!

No, it not as important as your mic, it’s ten thousand times more important because they have to actually listen and evaluate a variety of physical conditions based on rhythms, math, and sounds. In your job, you just need to read a possible script and push hot air across your larynx to provide unfounded opinions to the public.

Nurses save lives—they pull people back from the brink of despair, the brink of death, the brink of insanity. Nurses are veritable angels seeking to help us lift ourselves out of the dark places we find ourselves in most often by our own decisions and own hands. Unfortunately, even nurses sometimes can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. But at least they try. I wonder if any of you four blowhards can? No?

Can you detect a heart arrhythmia? No? Do you even know what one is? No? Can you suture a four-inch gash in someone’s arm while they slowly bleed to death? No?

Imagine you were put in a room alone with a war vet whose family has long since disappeared because of a mental state he received while protecting our country. He knows he will be dying in the next few days—of that there is no doubt. His lungs are filling, and he’ll drown in his own bodily fluids. There isn’t anything you can do but watch as his life fades to black. Your job is to heal but now you are as helpless as he. How would you calm him? How would you make him comfortable? What would you tell him?

That nurse you looked down your nose at could and does on a daily basis. She has more heart, more soul, and more courage than any of you on the stupid show.

So out of curiously, while you still have your nose in the air, exactly what is it that Your View offers humanity other than scalding words of disgust, judgement, and mirth at other peoples’ expense? When has your show done any really benevolent service for this country or humanity as a whole or in part for anyone other than your Id?

Now, here is my view, I think if The Views’ directors have any balls at all, they’ll fire all four of you immediately. In place of you twits, I challenge them to provide a different view. Here’s what you need.

Go out and find one homeless man from the US, Asia, The Middle East, Central or South America, and Africa. Bring them all here, give them fine clothing and food. Put them up in penthouses in whatever city The View is produced, and provide them with the same kind of subject matter you’ve been giving to those four idiots, and let’s hear something that provides meaning and reflection to our daily lives.

Wine Tour

My wife and I recently got back from Osoyoos, Canada. We took a couple days from our cabin to spoil ourselves a bit and go do the wine tasting thing. Yea, always a lot of fun. This was also our first time in Canada. WE stayed a t a holiday inn on the shores of Osoyoos lake, and wow! Talk about difference of service. They have dog friendly rooms on the first floor and ours was a mini apartment equipped with two bedrooms,, living/ dining room, stocked kitchen and a decent sized bathroom.. We had a sliding glass door that led us out to a wide stone patio. Very convenient as the shores of the lake were right across the street, so no problem getting Dante to the restgrass upon waking up.

We took Dante with us on the tour, electing to drive ourselves rather than leave him in the room all day. It turned out that many wineries allow dogs in the tasting rooms! Yea believe it. Pretty cool.

The wines were great, and we bought about six of them, a bit spendy, but worth it; average costs were twenty four to thirty six dollars a bottle. We tried mostly red wines as they are Melissa’s favorites, but we experimented a bit too.

The best catch of the day was the knowledge I got from them about wine making, grape growing strategies, rules of the market, and tricks of the trade for garage winemakers like myself. This is my sixth year of wine from our Riesling grapes.

This year's ReislingLast year’s batch was just bottled. I know I could use a clarifyer, but I really like the color  this wine has.

I use a Roma wine press which works wonderfully for my needs and has a ratchet handle for insuring the maxim pressing power.

Wine pressWine press 2

After the second crushing, I needed up with twenty-one and three quarter gallons. Not a bad haul really. I just have the one vine and it languishes on my fence in the upper yard.

Ave bunch of grapes 2015

Well guess I should quit rambling on and go do some real work. Thanks for reading!

The Real Thing

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I was hanging out at Dale Reierson’s Season of the Dying Facebook event:
THE SEASONS OF DYING brought to you by THE HORROR HOOLIGANS. Come read for the first time ever their unique spin on the Season of Dying. This is going to be the most Original Event you have ever been to…
Burning body piles-Davide Mana
Disease-Mikey Campling
Starving -Alex Kimmell
Cannibalism -Sheri Williams
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse -Dani Smith
Pestilence -Thomas S Flowers III
Famine -Dale Reierson (S.E. Rise)
War -Jim Greenfield
Death -Dane John Cobain
Locust -S.E.Rise
Dying of Thirst-JG Clay
The Rot -David Paris Singer-Carter
The Flies-S.E.Rise
The Scavengers -Duncan Ralston
The Madness -Alex S. Johnson
The Dead -Cassandre Dayne
The Hunger -Maddie Holliday Von Stark
The Apocalypse-Alex Nader
The End is Near -P.Mattern

It’s been interesting, and not long ago, Mikey Campling posed a question I just couldn’t resist answering:
“Giveaway time. I’ll send you an ARC of A Dark Assortment. Random winner picked from the comments below. In the spirit of my dark little stories, tell me what dark little fears haunt you when you’re alone in the dark…”

After writing it up and pushing post, I got to thinking this is similar in many respects to some of my previous posts, so I thought I’d include it here. This is just such an example of ways I use to create new species.

Shades-I used to be haunted by them. It started when I was really young, like four or something. I grew to recognize their approaching presence with this sudden paralyzing panic that began in my subconscious while sleeping and then forced me to claw my way to a wakened state. It’s not long after, thirty seconds or so, it or they would appear. I could only see them because they were darker than the dark of my windowless room, basically it’s like taking a picture of yourself and then filling it with a black hole and holding up to a moonless night with no stars. You can feel the malice off them long before they appear. On one occasion back in the summer of 93′, I was surrounded by five of them, two to each side, one at the foot. I’d been working really hard at breaking the paralysis they held me down with over the past six years or so, and I had bouts of success during these weird battles of will. During this particular visitation, I managed to do exactly that, and as I sat up to take a swing at one, just to see if this was a physical force or something less so, they all stepped back as the dark swallowed them. Why not anymore? Well my friends, that is a different story 😉

Here is Dale’s event if you’d like to drop in; hot intestines on the house for all! Tell him I sent you.
https://www.facebook.com/events/895169427222379/920069014732420/

Procreating Species

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For many, if not all of us who write Fantasy and Science Fiction, procreating species it’s very important. I’m currently writing in six separate worlds, the book that is in editing, titled Atolovus, the first installment to my series The Arch of Quorydun, centers on a planet called Solanar while a separate series is being written on a world called Korrynth. In both cases, I’ve done a good deal of research into a number of scientific branches in order to make the world and the many species that live on them believable. Every writer has their own way of doing this, and it can be one of the more time-consuming aspects of the story process, at the very least, it is for me.

When I began writing Atolovus, I needed a framework to make it unique. I chose a blue star for a sun, then I researched the difference of light and its impact on life. There is quite a difference, and it effects everything. After further research, I made the world about the size of Mars. That changes a number of other things like rotation and revolution, and gravity and time among others.

Once the environment is set, by means of a hand-drawn map, the first thing I do is populate it with species widely recognized in the genre I write in. That sets the  factor for belief in place. Thanks to people like J.R.R Tolkien, and Gary Gygax, humans, elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits are now universal, and most of our own mythological creatures are as well, dragons, Unicorns, Minotaur, etc. That is the easy part.

My next step demands determining things like, borders vs environments vs civics; then race, skin color, height, weight, eye color, and diet. Diet takes me to plants and animals: what kind of plants, how are they different, and how are they similar. Which ones are poisonous, which ones aren’t, which ones are medicinal; the same is true of animals.

Here comes the work. The harder part is to take one step further and consider the types of life that aren’t common to us. Species evolved in a different environment, will possess different abilities and characteristics, but not so much that we can’t connect with them on some level. Every year we discover new ones right here on Earth, and the consistent variety remains astounding!

This is where things get fun. I’ve taken to creating my creatures and species in the same manner that a player in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons builds a character. I have my own list of criterias, and often I begin with a creature we have right here on earth. Then I ask myself what would change to make them adaptable in the new environment. I don’t do this all at once. I do it when it becomes necessary to introduce a species. Common reasons include domesticated species, food sources, and predators. That said, like here on earth, not all species native to a planet are widely known, and many times, the characters stumble across one in the wilds, on a ship, in the mountains, the plains, or even in a common conversation around a table, fire or deck of a ship.

My new editor, just recently asked me to send her a copy of my personal monster manuals/ creature compendiums. The fact is, they are mostly inside my head! I just haven’t had the time to list them all out on word docs. Guess I better add that to my daily list of goals! Happy experimentation everyone!