Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Wolf Pack Chapter 16

I am now resuming the serialisation of The Wolf Pack. apologies to anyone who has been following it. The blog tour took priority. Anyway, here's the next installment.



The four of them had returned to the inn the previous evening and gone to the room which Carthinal, Basalt and Fero were sharing. Asphodel had sat down on Fero’s bed, which was nearest to the door and sighed. She had been wondering all the way back from the Palace why they had agreed to this and she had said as much. Fero said moodily that as he could not read, he would be of little help in the research so did not deserve the payment of his expenses. It had been up to Carthinal to reassure him that both he and Basalt would be helpful in interpreting anything they found. Their brains were of use he had told them, even if they had to have things read to them.
The next morning found them approaching the gates of the Palace once more. They had agreed that Asphodel would go to the temple of Zol with Fero to help her, since she was reluctant to approach Sylissa’s temple after her precipitous exit only a few days before. Anyway, Zol was the god of learning and knowledge so it seemed reasonable to go to his temple first. Bas and Carthinal would begin their search in the library at the Palace. So their ways parted at the gates of the Duke’s residence and Carthinal and Bas, after leaving their weapons at the gatehouse as usual, and with Bas’s usual grumbling about it, walked through the park and gardens to the house.
Here they were let in and Darmissillo, after bowing to them, led them to a door on the opposite side of the hall from the Duke’s study. 
‘The Library, sir,’ he said, bowing as he opened the door.
They entered a large room, which seemed to run the length of the eastern side of the Palace. It was panelled in dark oak on one side, but to keep it from appearing too dark, the other side was almost entirely of glazed windows. Carthinal could not even begin to think how much the glass would have cost. The Duke of Hambara was obviously a very rich man, or rather his ancestors who had had the library glazed must have been. The room stretched away to their left, and from the ceiling depended crystal chandeliers. They had candles in them ready to be lit if needed, but as it was morning, and the room faced east, there was no necessity as plenty of light was pouring in through the windows. But this was not what caught Carthinal’s attention, marvellous as it was. It was the bookshelves, all full of books and scrolls. He had never in his life seen so many books and all in one place. The shelves ran along the long side of the room opposite the windows and were from floor to ceiling, broken only by the two doors that led to the great hall of the palace, and one which led to the central quadrangle and its garden. Occasionally there were other free-standing bookshelves arranged at right angles to the wall and windows. Now their task seemed even more daunting than ever.
‘Look at those chandeliers,’ whispered Basalt. (It seemed right to whisper in such a grand room.) ‘They must be a magnificent sight when the candles are lit, with the glass refracting the light.’
Just at that moment, two figures appeared through the door nearer the far end of the library. One of them they recognised as Duke Rollo. The other was the most beautiful girl either of them had ever seen, She was tall and slender with silvery blond hair and Carthinal estimated that she was about eighteen years old.
The Duke approached them and said, ‘This is my daughter, Randa. I’ve told her to help you to find what you require or you’ll be here for ever, and we haven’t got for ever I’m afraid. Randa has spent a lot of time in the library and is the most likely person to be able to find anything you need. Randa, this is Carthinal and Basalt.’
Carthinal bowed slightly to the young woman, and nudged Basalt hard to remind him to do the same.
‘Pleased to meet you, my Lady,’ he said.
Lady Randa sniffed. ‘At least you have some manners, for a half-elf,’ she replied rather imperiously.
‘Father, do I really have to work with common riffraff and a dwarf and half-elf at that? Not even human!’
‘Now Randa,’ replied the Duke. ‘You know how important this is. Carthinal and Basalt will not be able to find what they are looking for until the next time both moons are dark without some help from someone who knows the way things work in this library. Please do this one small thing to help. For me?’
It was obvious that Lady Randa was not used to the Duke imposing his will on her, and she sniffed again, but, turning to Carthinal, she said, ‘Well, half-elf, if I must do this unpleasant task and work alongside you and the dwarf, we’d better get started. I have fencing practice just after the seventh hour of the day, so we’d better begin immediately as it is already…’ here she glanced at an hourglass on one of the tables. ‘Half an hour past the third hour. I will leave you so I can eat with my father at half an hour after the sixth hour, so that leaves us with only three hours. I cannot be with you after the noon meal as I have fencing practice.’
‘Randa, can’t you miss your fencing for a couple of days?’ pleaded the Duke.
‘Father! I will get rusty if I don’t practice. I must also exercise Storm. You know how he gets if he doesn’t get a gallop each day, and no one else seems to be able to control him.’
With that, Lady Randa walked away from the Duke, beckoning Carthinal and Basalt to follow. The Duke held his hands out as though to say ‘What can I do with her?’ Then he turned and left the library.
‘Are you coming, half-elf?’ called the girl from half way down the library. She was beautiful, and graceful in her movements. Carthinal was reminded of the portrait in the Duke’s study. But of course, that was her mother who, according to the guard at the gate, died in childbirth. Her mother’s hair in the portrait had been black, so Carthinal presumed that she had inherited her blonde hair from her father. A pity she had not inherited his character as well, he thought.
‘She’s going to help us?’ queried Bas in a whisper. ‘She looks as though she’d rather run us through with her fencing sword.’
    ‘She does seem to be rather a spoiled brat doesn’t she?’ whispered Carthinal back. ‘Still, we’ve only got to put up with her for a short while. As soon as this research is over, we can leave her to her father. And good luck to him. Come on. We’d better follow her.’
The three hours in the library with Lady Randa were not quite as bad as Carthinal and Basalt had thought they would be. True, Lady Randa insisted on calling them “half-elf” and “dwarf”, and not by their names, until Carthinal decided that he had had enough and said,     ‘We have names, my Lady, and we would both prefer that you use them. I am Carthinal and my friend is called Basalt. Please remember that.’
Lady Randa looked at him askance at being spoken to in what was far from a deferential manner, but she said nothing and afterwards called them by their names as requested. She was rather scathing about the fact that Bas did not read though, but she was a great help all the same. She located the scrolls and books on Sauvern and also helped to read them and to make notes in her beautiful and elegant handwriting.
During that day, the main thing that they found out was that little was certain about the life and death of Sauvern, except that he had somehow united the warring cities under his rule, and the united provinces had then gone on to repulse invaders from across the sea. Most of these tales had the invaders coming from the east. Also they discovered that his body disappeared just after his death. All the tales were clear on that. There were various tales of the enchanted Sword but nothing was clear as to its ultimate fate. Several accounts, however, hinted that there were clues to be found as to its whereabouts. All this they gleaned by much cross-referencing and deduction. True to her word, Lady Randa left the pair in time for lunch and did not return. Daramissillo brought a tray of lunch for the pair in the library, and after that, they worked on alone. Carthinal managed to teach Basalt the letters that made up the name of “Sauvern”, and also “Sword”, which meant that he could help a little with the search. By the end of the day, they were both feeling tired and left to return to the inn.

    The other two were already there when Basalt and Carthinal entered the inn’s common room. They greeted the newcomers and told them they had ordered dinner for them all. Fero seemed to be coming out of his depression now that he was free, but Asphodel thought privately that he would not be himself until they were out of the city completely.
    They exchanged the information that they had found. There were again conflicting stories about Sauvern and the Sword. However, it was said to be called “Equilibrium” in all the tales that Fero and Asphodel had found, and to have powerful magic.
    One thing that Asphodel and Fero had found was a poem, seeming to refer to Sauvern’s tomb and the Sword. They showed the copy they had made to Carthinal who read it aloud.

‘“Deep in the forest lies the tomb
Protected from all evil.
Sauvern lies as in the womb,
Safe from man or devil.

“His Sword is resting by his side
Awaiting call to action.
When danger lurks on every side
You need the Sword’s reaction.

“But first, 6? 8? questers bold must go
To Sauvern’s tomb, surrounded
By Guardians strong, no fear must show
Or from there they will be hounded.”

‘Asphodel, you have two numbers with question marks in the last verse. Why?’
Asphodel replied that the scroll, which was very old, was unclear in places. They had managed to piece together the rest, but could not distinguish the numbers very well. Context was no help here. They felt that they had made some progress with the discovery of the poem though. Maybe this was the time for the Sword to be rediscovered and the clues were beginning to come to light. After all, was it just coincidence that the words used by Duke Danu of Bluehaven were almost exactly the same as a line in the poem? Duke Danu had told Rollo that ‘Danger lurks all around’. But whatever the truth, they were still a long way from finding the tomb. In a forest-somewhere in the world, although most probably on the continent of Khalram, the continent on which Grosmer resided. Much was still to be done, so they retired to bed to continue the following day.
The next day, Carthinal and Basalt returned to the Palace to try to find anything about the whereabouts of the tomb. Lady Randa arrived again, saying that she had risen early in order to exercise her stallion, Storm, and she did not have any weapons practice that day. She should have gone to practice her music, but her music master was ill and so they had all day. Her expression said that she was glad of this excuse to get away from her music, even if it was to spend the day with “riffraff”. Truth to tell, she was becoming interested in the work. She had never taken much interest in history before, and was surprised to find it interesting. Carthinal and Bas exchanged a glance at this dire prospect, but both wisely refrained from making comment.  
Lady Randa was in no way any easier, however. She did most of the time remember to call them by their names, but made it abundantly clear that she considered herself above them in all ways and that she was only there because of her father’s request.
Shortly after lunch, just after Lady Randa had returned from lunching with her father as usual, Carthinal was searching for a specific scroll when he noticed an unusual crack around that particular bookshelf. He called Lady Randa over and asked her if she knew of any secret passages in the house.
‘There are tales and rumours of course,’ she replied. ‘As there always are in old houses and this house is very old. It has been rebuilt, modernised and extended many times over the years. Why do you ask?’
‘Because,’ responded Carthinal, ‘Unless I am very much mistaken, there is a hidden door here which may lead to a secret room.’
‘This is part of the old house,’ Lady Randa told him, ‘But I hardly think that a secret passage would have gone unnoticed by my father, or myself—or my grandfather come to think of it. Why would a half-elf find something in a few minutes that the family hasn’t found in generations?’
‘Elvenkind have very good eyes, and we are good at spotting such things,’ retorted Carthinal, keeping his temper with difficulty.
Basalt spotted the warning tone in Carthinal’s voice and glared at him. It would not do for him to lose his temper and anger the daughter of the second most powerful man in all of Grosmer. However, Carthinal managed to hold onto his temper and suggested that he try to open the disputed door.
‘If it will satisfy you,’ replied Lady Randa imperiously, and turned away.
She was startled to hear, a few moments later, a grinding and rumbling. When she turned back to see what was going on, she was surprised to find that where there had been a bookcase, there was now hole with steps leading downwards.
The three stood looking at each other in amazement. Carthinal had been fairly sure that he was right and that a door was hidden in the bookcase, but not that it would open so easily, nor that it would reveal a secret passage. He had thought at the most that it would reveal a hidden room.
The stairs looked dark and cobwebby. Carthinal shuddered to think of the spiders running around. They had had generations to breed down there. However, he was not about to show his feelings of revulsion to Lady Randa.
Instead, he said, ‘Lady Randa, do you think it pertinent to explore this passage at this point. We are not sure that it will aid us in our quest.’
He was secretly hoping not to have to go down the stairs with their cobwebs and spiders, and that she would say that others could explore. However, he was to be disappointed. Lady Randa decided that since they were the ones who had found the passage, they should be the ones to explore it.
‘Why give the pleasure of discovering something new to people who did not find the passage?’ she said.
Carthinal had to admire her guts. She reached for a torch on one of the walls and lit it, then made her way to the entrance.
‘My Lady,’ murmured Bas. ’We don’t know what’s down there. Maybe we shouldn’t go down without some weapons.’
‘Are you afraid, Dwarf?’ retorted her ladyship. ‘If you are, then stay here. I’m going down.’ And she started to move towards the open door.
‘Basalt is right, Your Ladyship,’ Carthinal backed up his friend. ‘At least get a sword or a dagger.’
‘Hmm… I suppose that makes some sense,’ Lady Randa eventually agreed. ‘You two stay there and I’ll get some weapons. What’s your preferred weapon, Dwa…er... Basalt?’
 ‘A battle axe, if you have one, your ladyship,’ replied the dwarf.
‘Typical. A rather messy weapon, but I understand the dwarves prefer it to a sword. A sword takes so much more skill to use.’
With that she disappeared through one of the library doors to go in search of weapons. It was just as well that she did, for she would have had Basalt thrown into the nearest prison and the key thrown away if she could have heard him cursing at her condescension.
‘A battle-axe takes as much bloody skill in wielding as a bleeding sword,’ he spluttered. ‘Dwarves begin to learn at a very young age to become proficient. To become a master of the weapon takes years. That little minx knows nothing. How old is she? Seventeen? Eighteen?’
Fortunately, Carthinal had managed to calm him down by the time Lady Randa re-appeared with the weapons. She had a rather fine long sword, which she claimed as her own, and a rather less than fine battle axe which she gave to Bas, for once having the grace to apologise for it.
‘It’s the only one I could find,’ she explained. ‘My father captured it in some war or other, I believe. We don’t have anyone here that uses a battle-axe at the moment. Carthinal, just in case, I’ve brought a dagger. I understand that mages often use one, as they do not have the time to learn more subtle weapons.’
This she handed to the mage, hilt first as was polite. It appeared she did know some of the niceties of life.
‘Diplomacy is not her second name, is it?’ hissed Basalt to Carthinal.
The mage grinned at his friend in reply.
After they were armed, and Bas had hefted his battle axe a few times and proclaimed it ‘Not too bad, considering’, they made their way to the hidden entrance to the staircase. Bas insisted on going first, much to Lady Randa’s annoyance. She told him that she was trained in weapons and could use the sword, and since it was her father’s house, and she outranked the others in the group, it was up to her to lead the way. Basalt pointed out that was as it may be, but her father would have their heads if anything happened to her, and he was not going to allow her to go first.
Carthinal held his breath, waiting for the explosion from Lady Randa. He was not disappointed.
She rounded on Bas like a whirlwind. ‘!’ She said the word as though it was the worst insult in the world, (which to her it may have been.) ‘You DARE to speak to me like that! Me! The Honourable Lady Randa! I am my father’s only heir, and will inherit this Dukedom. Yet you tell me you will not allow me! How dare you?’
However, she had not met with the stubbornness of the mountain dwarves. Carthinal thought they would remain there for the rest of their lives with the two arguing, and finally with Basalt standing, arms folded in front of the doorway so that no one could pass. Lady Randa tried to push him out of the way at first, but Bas stood his ground. A dwarf standing his ground is very hard to move, even for a grown man, and Lady Randa was no grown man.
 Eventually her curiosity over the passageway overcame her anger and she said, rather reluctantly, ‘Go in front if you wish then—and hope that whatever’s down there kills you before I do.’
So the little band crept stealthily down the stairs, Basalt in the lead, Lady Randa next, and Carthinal in the rear. Carthinal was grateful for that as most of the cobwebs had been swept away by the others, but he still had to steel himself not to cry out as a stray one swept his face. It would not do for them to think him such a coward as to be afraid of spiders, even if it were the truth. He kept a look out both to the side and behind, trusting to Bas to watch for anything in front, but their descent of the stairs was uneventful, even though the stairs were old. There was no sign of anyone having passed that way in many, many years and their feet sent up clouds of dust, which made them sneeze. The stairs were not worn away either, in spite of their age. Another indication that they had not been much used.
To his consternation, Carthinal saw many small glowing creatures with his infra-vision. Spiders he assumed, that had lived and bred there for aeons. He shuddered, then suddenly, after what seemed like a very long descent, they found themselves in a passage leading straight ahead.
He called to Basalt and the dwarf looked round. ‘We seem to have come down a long way. You dwarves are used to being underground. How far down do you think we’ve come?’
Basalt frowned, did some calculations in his head and replied, ‘We’re very deep, Carthinal. Well below the foundations of the present Palace. If you ask me, we are at least two hundred feet down. This looks like old stone. About a thousand years, maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less.’
The three looked around in awe. The stonework was well preserved, and the air was dry. Carthinal was pleased to note there were also no more cobwebs. The walls were well built, and strong. They walked slowly and quietly down the corridor. There were doors on either side, but none of them could manage to open them, no matter how hard they tried. They walked until they came to the end of the corridor, where there was another door in the end wall.
‘Should I try?’ whispered Basalt. (It did not seem right to speak normally in this ancient place.)
‘Go on then.’ said Lady Randa and Carthinal together, and Carthinal added, ‘Although why this one should be any different Majora alone knows.’
He had hardly got the words out of his mouth when he saw that the door was swinging open with a loud creak. Bas had hardly had to try. It had not been either locked or stuck. As they entered the chamber in front of them, each drew a breath of amazement.
The room was decorated with fabulous carvings. Unicorns and satyrs played in woods where dryads peeped shyly from behind their trees. A Centaur was discussing something with a nymph, half in and half out of her pool. Dragons basked in the sunlight and elves and humans were gathering flowers and making garlands to adorn each other. Here was a group of dwarves hard at work digging out minerals from their mines, there were some merfolk sitting on rocks in a cove while the waves broke around them. The surf was so realistically carved that they thought they could actually hear their booming as they crashed to the shore.
The room was circular in shape, and in the centre was a large round table. On the table was a number of books, a quill pen in its stand, rather tattered after all the years that had passed, a knife for sharpening the quill and an ink well, which had dried up. The books were stacked neatly, all except for one, which was set in front of a chair drawn up to the table as though the room’s occupant had been working there and just slipped out for a moment. There was even a piece of paper marking a place.
The three walked slowly around the room, gazing at the superb workmanship of the carvings. Basalt declared that it must have been dwarves who carved the stone, and no one, not even Lady Randa, disputed this statement. Eventually, Carthinal left Lady Randa and Basalt admiring the room, as he was drawn to the books. He picked up one at random. It was a spell book. He carefully opened it, and it crackled with age. It seemed to be the spell book of a powerful mage. There were many very complex spells in it, which Carthinal could not begin to comprehend. He put it down in its place, and picked up another. This one he recognised. These were the simpler spells that he himself had in his own spell book, but the writing was an archaic style and he had some difficulty recognising some of the words. Then he noticed that Bas had gone to the desk, and had picked up the book with the “bookmark” in it.
Basalt thought he would look at the book even though he could not read. Maybe he would be able to recognise the word shape that Carthinal had taught him stood for ‘Sauvern’. To his surprise, part way through the text, he thought he recognised the word. He was not certain. These letters were formed in a slightly different way from the way Carthinal had taught him, but it was enough for him to call Carthinal over.
Carthinal looked over Bas’s shoulder, and Lady Randa also came to see what Bas had found.
‘It certainly seems to say “Sauvern”,’ Carthinal confirmed.
‘But the rest?’ queried Lady Randa. ‘What about the rest? It looks like no language I’ve ever seen.’
‘No. You won’t have, and probably won’t again,’ Carthinal told her. ‘If I am not much mistaken, this is an archaic form of Elvish.’
‘Can you read it?’ asked Randa.
‘Unfortunately, no,’ Carthinal replied. ‘But I know someone in the Mage Tower who may, or at least, she may know someone who can translate it for us.’
‘There’s some writing on the paper that was keeping the place too,’ observed Bas. ‘It looks different.’
True enough, the writing was in Grosmerian. Again, it was an old form of Grosmerian, but this was something that Lady Randa had learned during her extensive education as the heir to a Dukedom.
‘It’s a poem,’ she said. ‘Should I read it?’
‘We’d better not ignore anything. Especially in view of the fact that the book seems to mention Sauvern,’ Carthinal said. ‘Go ahead.’
‘It’s called “The Wolf Pack.”’, she went on.

‘“The wolves will fight ’gainst every foe
The balance to maintain.
Though far and wide the pack must go
All borders they disdain.

“The pack contains the strangest group
One whose pride comes with her,
And one who slips through every loop,
The wilful one, the tracker.

“The leader with his anger held,
The ones who hunt the horse.
The rock that’s strong completes the meld
And makes the pack a force.

“The wolf pack’s members are filled with zest
And all do have their place.
They hunt their foes with ruthlessness
Then vanish without trace.

“In times of danger, all must know
The wolf pack will be there.
They work as one; they keep their vow.
For each other they will care.”

‘Doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Pretty bad poetry too. I think it’s just something the writer of this book used as a book mark.’
 I think you’re right there, Your Ladyship.’ Basalt always seemed to make his use of the honorific sound like an insult, and Lady Randa bristled. ‘No reference to Sauvern or his Sword.’
Carthinal replaced the “bookmark” in the place in the book where it came from, remarking that they may as well use it for the job the original writer did as it was handy.
He went on to remark that the books were all very old, and moving them may damage them, so, with the Lady’s permission, he would bring his friend to the Palace so she could translate it in situ as it were. Randa agreed, and with that, they left the hidden room, almost having to drag Bas out from his examination of the carvings.
They were surprised to find that it was dark when they came up the stairs to the library. The candles had been lit in the chandeliers and the light bounced around the room, split into colours by the glass, and making rainbows everywhere. The slight draughts moving around the room caused the candles to flicker and the light looked like thousands of fireflies dancing around.
‘This never fails to impress me,’ said Lady Randa, momentarily forgetting to be the Duke’s Daughter. ‘My grandfather had it done. Look at the way the windows reflect the light back into the room. Isn’t it beautiful?’
The others agreed, and reluctantly tore themselves away from the beautiful library to make their way back to the inn and dinner.
They found that Asphodel and Fero had had their own successes. It seemed that in Sauvern’s time, the humans and elves were living all through the lands that are now human, alongside each other. Although in times past, the land had been shared amicably by both groups, by the time of Sauvern, many humans were looking on the elves as inferior beings, and were persecuting them. Some even blamed the elves for the ills that had fallen on the land, including the Raiders. The elves in their turn, thought that humans were inferior, having such short lives and being a later creation of the gods. Sauvern was, so the account went, responsible for setting up the elven homelands on the far side of the Mountains of Doom. It appeared that his friend and counsellor was an elf or half-elf and he wanted to end the conflicts between the races. Quite how all this would help them in their search for his burial place, they did not know, but, as Fero pointed out, every piece of information helps to build up a picture of the man and his time, which may be important. With that, they agreed on a plan for the next day. Carthinal was to go to the Tower to seek the help of Yssa, and see if there was any further information there, and Bas would go with Fero and Asphodel. He would not be allowed into the library in the Tower as a non-mage, and Carthinal did not want him to go to the Palace to work with Lady Randa without him being there, knowing the way they rubbed each other up the wrong way. Basalt was quite agreeable, not wanting to be left to work alone with the haughty Lady Randa. 
They all set off together the next morning for their respective destinations as they were in the same direction. When they reached the road that Carthinal was to take to the Tower, Fero suggested meeting for lunch at a nearby tavern. However, Carthinal pointed out that he did not know how long the translation would take, or whether Yssa could even do it. He may have to wait until later in the day until someone was available. They all agreed to meet back at the inn that evening.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

End of Blog Tour and Thanks

Well the blog tour is over. It has been great fun, and I would like to thank Charlotte for organising it so well.

Thanks, too to everyone for both allowing me to visit their blogs and for coming on mine. A great experience, and I feel I have made many new friends around the globe. I hope we can do it again sometime.

To everyone who visited me during the tour, thanks, too. I hope you enjoyed the posts from the various authors. I know I did. They were all most interesting and informative.

I am going to try to post more regularly now. Not every day, of course, but I will go for once a week.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Fellowship of Fantasy Writers. Charlotte Henley Babb.

 Today is the last day of the blog tour. It has been fun. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I have. I feel as though I have made 17 new friends. I hope we continue to interact in some ways.

Welcome to my last guest, Charlotte Henley Babb.

Brief bio of Charlotte Henley Babb, Author

Web designer, social networks manager, blogger, novelist, and online writing instructor, Charlotte Henley Babb has been writing since she was four, and now makes up fractured fairy tales for people who have survived beyond the love’s last kiss. Where the stories are for people over 20 who have survived marriage, divorce, child-rearing, post-graduate education, bankruptcy, empty nest, and widowhood?
Charlotte Henley Babb writes them.
Her first novel, Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil, was published in 2012 and was awarded the Sharp Writ First Place in Fantasy and Science Fiction. It also received an honorable mention in the 2014 National Federation of Press Women communications contest for adult novels.. She has self-published short stories in ebook and print format, doing the technical work, cover design, and layout herself.
Charlotte  has taught English in high school and junior college, written procedure manuals, and edited association newsletters. She has presented at education and writing conferences on using the Internet, blogging, and writing science fiction. She brings to any project a number of experiences: technical writer, gasket inspector, wait staff, fabric and craft retail associate, craft artificer, secret weapon, and telephone psychic. Currently she manages the website, social media presence, and monthly newsletter for Sherman College of Chiropractic.

Character sketch from a deleted scene – Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil
By Charlotte Henley Babb
When Maven Morrigan slid down from the front seat of her minivan, her pumpkin of a rump caught the duct tape that held the seat together, releasing the broken spring below.
“Damn! Story of my life!” Her last pair of panty hose ruined, another piece of her world falling apart.
Finally, Maven worked the wire loose from her skirt, leaving a small hole in the polyester.
A pointed end to the worst day of her life. She’d trundled through every temp agency in the county in search of a paycheck. Even the teenage manager at Burger Haven shrugged and glanced at the semi-retired folks serving up the fat of the land. Nobody wanted a middle-aged ex-teacher when ex-CEOs were available.
She rolled her eyes in disgust. Through a break in the clouds, the evening star perched bright above the crescent moon, a spot of beauty ending an ugly day.
“Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
Wish I may, wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.”
Shivering on the asphalt, she discarded one wish after another.  A golden SUV and a ripped personal trainer? A fire, chocolate and one enormous chair? A ticket into the witness protection program?
Wishing! Waste of time. She stomped to her door. If wishes were Harleys, she’d still have to put gas in them. No point in making believe. Work harder. Play the game. Keep your mind to yourself.
Her kitchen was bare. She’d sold most of her keepsakes and anything else she could liquidate at the flea market, even her books after her unemployment ran out. What was left was brown, too boring to show dirt. Could one die from beige?
A cold chill swept through her. Maven shivered again. The heater was set at hypothermal to save electricity. She reached into her pocket book to put the last of her change in the empty jelly jar on the counter.  Then she remembered giving it–her lunch money—to the woman at the copy center for stamps for the last pile of resumes lying there to be mailed in the morning. She’d forgotten to take them with her.
People survived being homeless, living outdoors and eating irregularly, so Maven made herself glad she had a cold apartment to come home to with a bed and running water.
The last four crackers with scrapings of peanut butter made her supper at the kitchen sink while she heated water, saving the last of the coffee for the morning. She poured hot water into a cup and sipped, draining her anger and warming her belly and her hands.  On the cup was a cartoon of a cleaning lady who wanted to know where her fairy godmother was.
“If my fairy godmother showed up tonight, I’d…I’d…” Maven shook her head and set the empty cup in the sink.
Still wearing her coat, Maven trudged to the bedroom to change for bed. The image of the star shone in her mind, glowing in the deep blue dusk, and the sliver of moon smiled at her, the promise of a peaceful night, and perhaps a new day, the promise of a new start. She had a few more resumes to send out, and she might hear back any day from the dozens sent before–still a bit of hope left.
Maven quickly shed her clothes and got ready for bed. Once under the covers, she began her ritual of deep breathing, partly to relax and center herself for sleep, but mostly to bring on a hot flash, which it always did, eventually. She’d learned that trick in many workshops and therapy sessions. She might not relax, but she would get warm.
She imagined sheep jumping over the star and the moon, then a cow, the cat and the fiddle, and other silly characters. As her cheeks finally flushed and the warmth flowed through her body, Maven thought of little boy blue, curled up in his haystack. Her last thought as she rolled over to go to sleep was “I’ll think about that tomorrow at Tara.”
Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil
A dead cellphone calls with a job offer and a promise of dragons.
Giving up what's her self-esteem for coffee, her last chance to redeem her life comes as a job offer to be a fairy godmother. But Faery is shrinking, the other fairy godmothers have disappeared, and nothing she does turns out right.
How can she put together the happily ever after each of her clients wants with her boss standing in her way?
$5.95 Kindle $15.99 Paper
Maven's Fractured Fairy Tales
Fairy Godmother Maven Morrigan has her own way of making the happily ever after come true for The Frog Prince, Rumpelstiltskin and Beauty and the Beast. Three fractured fairy tales to bring you a smile
$2.99 Kindle $5.99 Paper

Separate stories also available $0.99
Bubba and the beast:
Fairy Frogmother:

Just a Smidgen of Magic: Enchantment at the Edge of Mundane
Five flash fiction stories of magical encounters in the modern world.
$2.99 Kindle, $5.49, Paper

Walking Off Heaven’s Shore
A ten-piece bucket of Southern fried flash fiction.
$2.99  Kindle  $5.99 Paper

Turning Point
A short-short about a cup of coffee on a sunny morning and a decision about changing one's life.
$0.99 kindle

Connect with Charlotte Henley Babb
Google +:

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Fellowship of Fantasy Writers. C.B,Macgillavry.

A warm welcome to C.B.MacGillavry. I hope you enjoy her posts.

Tomorrow is the final day of this blog tour. I will be hosting Charlotte Henley Babb.

C.B. Mac Gillavry studied English and Dutch literature, she has an affinity with Colonial Dutch literature. C.B., like so many authors, started writing as soon as she was able to write, although the actual reading started at a later stadium, with the discovery of Jane Austen. She enjoys many different genres and writers, preferably in the original language. The environment is a key topic in her writings and she ideally writes for young adults, in the hope of enchanting them, even if just for a short while.

Fog on the Loch
"Come not between the dragon and his wrath."
--Lear from "King Lear" (1.1.127)
William Shakespeare

'“The name is Alexandra Drerea Ramsey. You may call me Twang.” But the old man looked
puzzled .’
The girl explained. ‘So I added “I shoot pretty well with the crossbow, and that ’s the sound the arrow makes every time I shoot.” And I smiled.’
Twang paused.
‘He still looked at me, but he smiled back, eventually. He cleared his throat. He readjusted his big, fluffy coat. “Did you bake those cupcakes?” he asked pointing at my table.’
She mimed his movements.
‘I had just finished the cakes for my mom ’s birthday, you see. I’d made several cupcakes with sugar
flowers and coloured buttons and the big cake with roses. The one that looked like it was made of china, remember?’
Victoria nodded quickly, she wanted her friend to continue her story. She motioned her to continue.
‘Yes, and …’
‘Well, I said “Of course I made them! And they should be pretty good too!” and that ’s when I heard the foghorn screaming outside. He turned towards the window, he looked worried, absorbed in his own thoughts. It can get spooky around the lake when the fog is that thick and I would have sworn that he was starting to feel a little restless.’
The girl slightly raised her voice.
‘Then he turned to me again and said, “I heard that you weld things together.” I didn’t like this one bit!’
Her cheeks reddened.
‘I had left the newborn dragon, George, in the workshop, because when they are that young they tend to breathe more fire while they are asleep. I didn’t want him to burn down the house by accident. You need to train them first, right? Plus, Charlie, my black cat, was there too, taking a nap and keeping the little one company. I really didn ’t want the old chap to see baby George .’
Twang paused again. Victoria feared this was due to the effect: the girl knew how to tell a story, that
much was clear! She readjusted her long black skirt, fidgeted with the laces of her high heeled boots and sighed. Joe noticed that Victoria could hardly wait for Twang to continue, perched as she was on the sofa,almost lauching herself in the other’s arms.
‘Anyway, I was curious. Why was he asking about my welding? And he said these words, honest to the dragons, he said “My sledge, I think one of the runners needs some welding, and I really have to leave tonight.”’
Twang shook her head in disbelief.
‘I replied, “I understand,sir,but the fog is too thick anyway, you wouldn’t be able to see anything.The
Police notified us that it would last for a couple of days and that it’s too dangerous to drive.”
He looked at me with that puzzled look again and said, “I wasn ’t going to drive, I wanted to slide away.”’
She shrugged.
‘I said, “Well,I suppose that doesn’t change much. Are you hungry? I just made some organic popcorn. I was going to watch some tv before going to bed.”’
She pointed her finger towards the imaginary table with the cakes.
‘He looked at my cupcakes again. I swear, he would have eaten the whole table if I had let him! Not that he would have needed the extra pounds,if you know what I mean …’
Victoria knitted her eyebrows, ‘No, I don’t. I thought it was his coat that was big, not that he actually had a big belly!’
Twang replied, ‘Well, yes, he was filling the coat all right!’
‘What did it look like? You said it was fluffy …’ said Victoria.
‘It was red,with a thick white hem, like it was fur.’
Joe and Victoria both pulled faces at that word, as they felt very strongly against fur and leather.
‘Don ’t get all touchy! I pretended I was passing him the popcorn and actually felt with my hand: it was just fabric, I ’m positive,’ Twang explained.
The others relaxed. Joe smiled amiably and counted on his fingers while he spoke.
‘So, he wasn’t thin, was wearing a big red coat with a thick white hem, he was rather old … What did he look like?’
‘Oh, he had a bit of a beard, white hair, red cheeks … you know, the rubicund kind!’
‘Yes,’ allowed the boy, ‘but he didn’t take the popcorn you offered him and you never let him touch the cupcakes.So maybe he wasn ’t the rubicond kind..’
‘Oh, well,’ Twang was getting impatient, ‘whatever! I wanted to go to bed, but with him there, all
stressed out and all, I couldn’t. He even started flipping through my photo album I keep near the
antique typewriter and I was afraid he might get to the part with the pictures of the dragons! I found it
rather rude to be honest, so I got my angle grinder and my soldering iron at once, and went outside with him to take a look at the sledge. He had the most ridiculous hat on, it was also red and trimmed, but with this white pompon dangling next to his ear.’
Joe and Victoria looked at each other and sniggered.
‘What!’ The snigger turned into laughter. ‘What! I don ’t understand … Oh, stop it! I won’t tell you how it ends if you continue …’ said Twang.
The two forced themselves to stop laughing, wiping the tears from their cheeks, and tried to resume
their seriousness.
‘That ’s better,’ Twang snorted. ‘So,we went outside and the sledge really needed some welding. Lucky for him, I’m good at that too, so I fixed the runner. It looked like I had used glue to repair it. I was quite pleased with myself! Then he thanked me, he said he had to go even if I had told him it wasn ’t safe.’
Twang imitated the man ’s manners, ‘“Don ’t worry, Miss Ramsey, my deer have a kind of built in alarm in the tip of their ears. I never bumped into anything before and I’ve been going about in this kind of weather for quite some time now.”’
She said in her usual way, ‘“Where are you actually going?” I said.’
Then, imitating him again, she said, ‘“I ’m going home. I have done everything I had to do for this year.”’
Twang spoke like her normal self once more.
‘And he winked at me. Then he stepped on the sledge, it didn’t even wobble a bit under his weight.
He waved at me, and turned towards the Church. He had little bells attached to the reins, and they jingled when the whole thing moved. That’s how I heard where he was going. He laughed too. It sounded like “Hohoho …”, very peculiar. I swear I heard the sound over my head at a certain point.’
Joe and Victoria boomed with laughter.
“What! Stop that already. Why do you do that?”
And the two sang, mocking, ‘Santa Clause is coming to town …’

Monday, 19 January 2015

Fellowship of Fantasy Writers. Debbie Manber Kupfer.

Today I am welcoming Debbie Manber Kupfer to my blog.

Tomorrow I am hosting C.B.MacGillavry.

Debbie Manber Kupfer grew up in London and lived in Israel, before somehow ended up in St. Louis, where she works as a puzzle constructor and writer. She lives with her husband, two children, and a very opinionated feline. She is the author of P.A.W.S and Argentum and has short stories in several anthologies including Fauxpocalypse, Shades of Fear, Darkly Never After, Sins of the Past, and Heroes & Villains. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!
Connect with Debbie on her blog or Facebook .

 Welcome to the world of P.A.W.S. by Debbie Manber Kupfer

When Miri’s grandmother dies, she passes onto Miri a silver cat amulet. Little does she know but the charm carries the family secret, a secret that saved her grandmother from the Nazis and is about to make Miri’s life a lot more interesting.

After she is befriended by others with the same strange, magical powers, her history comes alive. And with it, Miri’s fate becomes more dangerous.


Vienna, October 20th, 1941, today was Celia’s tenth birthday. This was not how she imagined celebrating it. She was with her family - her mama Miriam, her papa David, her elder brother Issel and her baby sister Liza. They were huddled together in the back room of their tiny two-room  apartment in Grosse Spielgasse, in the dark, barely breathing.
Outside the building, the boot steps got nearer and nearer – Celia heard shouting, screaming, gunshots. She crouched down even closer to the ground, wishing that somehow they could all melt away into the shadows. Celia clutched her cat Max tightly in her arms, feeling his warmth, his soft tabby fur close to her skin, willing him to stay quiet.
Her mamma cradled little Liza at her breast, nursing her so she would not cry out. Outside the pounding footsteps get closer, closer: “Juden, Juden, Heraus, Heraus, Schnell, Schnell!!” Now they are at the door of the neighbors – the Wassersteins.  She heard crying and a single gun-shot.
Miriam beckoned to her, “Celia, mein Katzerl , come here,” she whispered, “I have something for you, for your birthday.”
Celia approached Miriam cautiously, still clutching Max to her, “What is it Mama?” she said gazing into Miriam’s blue, blue eyes – studying her prematurely wrinkled face, memorizing every crease. Mama, my mama, she thought.
Still holding baby Liza with her left hand Miriam reached round the back of her neck with her right and unclasped the chain that she always wore beneath her clothes, close to her heart. It was a silver chain with a cat charm on it. “Take this Celia, mein Katzerl, wear it always, remember I love you. Ich liebe dich.”
“I love you, Mama,” she whispered as she fastened the chain around her neck, just as the doors burst open – six gestapo soldiers rushed into their home – “Juden, Heraus, Heraus . . .” Celia watched as her family was herded out of the door . . .

The story continues in Argentum (P.A.W.S. Book 2)
In book 2 we go beyond the boundaries of St. Louis P.A.W.S. and visit the P.A.W.S. in New York, as well exploring the beginnings of P.A.W.S. in Europe.

Out of the darkness came a face more terrible than any Miri had ever seen before: huge fangs dripping with blood, eyes once blue, now glowing yellow and red, reflecting the blood that flowed all around them. Miri tried to scream, but nothing came from her lips. Echoing through her head was terrible laughter.
“You thought you were done with me, Miri, but I am immortal. I can never die. And now I am inside you! Thank you, Miri. Once, long ago, I gave you life and now you are returning the favor. How thoughtful of you! Oh, what fun we are going to have together. You have brought me into P.A.W.S.—exactly where I want to be.”

Debbie is currently working on book 3 in the series that tentatively is titled Maze of Shadows. Once more Miri is on the move and this time she is visiting Israel, to discover the secrets of her shapeshifter book that she has been told is linked to her silver cat charm.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Fellowship of Fantasy Writers. Danielle Ross

Hi, Danielle. Welcome to my blog. I am sure my readers will enjoy your post.

Tomorrow I am hosting Debbie Manber Kupfer.

Fellowship of Fantasy Writers
Blog Tour

  1. Your book has hit #1 on the bestsellers list. You now have everyone, who is anyone, calling and asking you to interview. Who is your first choice and why? Describe that major TV network interview experience.
    1. I have no idea who to talk to. I don't know any names, and am terrified of getting in front of a camera. If anything it would be funny since I would be so nervous, and when I'm nervous I tend to make a lot of funny statements. XD

  1. You have just signed a movie based on your novel. You have some say so on who plays the main characters. Who are your choices and why?
    1. Again, no idea as I have no idea who is who in Hollywood. I remember characters more than actors.

  1. A major publishing house has accepted your latest manuscript and enclosed an advance for $50,000. What is the first thing you spend it on and why?
    1. Paying off my various amounts of debt. I hate being in debt, and want it all gone. $50,000 would go a long way to paying off student loans, the car, and a couple of credit cards. If I could avoid debt all together, I would, but right now that's not a possiblity.

  1. If you could choose to live anywhere and in any home and write full time, where would that be? Describe the home and your “work” room.
    1. I'd live in Ireland/Scotland or New Zealand, in a castle like house made all of stone. My "work" room would be a library, literally surrounded by books with one little desk in the middle of the room. It wouldn't be quiet though, as I would have my favorite music/TV program playing at all times. XD

  1. Visualize the opening credits scene and/or movie trailer question #2. What song would you choose for it? Whom would you pick to do the movie soundtrack?
    1. No idea on the song, but I'd have the guys who did the music for Star Wars do the soundtrack.

  1. If you could magically take one character from your novel(s) and make them real for one week.

    Which one would you choose? Why? And what would you do for that week?
    1. The first character I created. She's tough and powerful, and a big softy. We'd probably spend the week doing pretty much nothing, as just hanging around would be all she'd want to do. Though I'd try and get her to do some magic, at least to try and teach me some. :D

  1. You have been booked for a multi-city book signing. What three cities do you really hope to see on your itinerary and why?
    1. Simi Valley – I grew up there, and it's right in the middle of Orange County, so I could go to all the theme parks I used to go to as a kid.
    2. New York – I've never been, and want to go see the Statue of Liberty
    3. Anywhere in Washington State – I want to enjoy the weather and giant trees. :D

  1. Yes or No and feel free to elaborate. Did you begin practicing your autograph even before you ever finished your manuscript? Once your book was published, did your run out and buy a special “autograph” pen?
    1. Yes, I did practice, no I don't have a special "autograph" pen, because my book hasn't been published yet, and I'd have to find one that I could actually get refills for. XD

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Fellowshop of Fantasy Writers. Deedee Davies.

Today I host Deedee Davies. Welcome Deedee.

Tomorrow it is the turn of Danielle Ross.

Fantasy from the Mundane

I've always loved speculative fiction. My earliest literary loves were tales from Norse and Greek mythology, Terrance Dicks' Dr Who novels, and the works of C.S. Lewis and Susan Cooper. As I grew up, I developed a love for horror fiction, both new and old, and devoured the works of Stephen King and Graham Masterton alongside Edgar Allen Poe and the contributors to the Cthulu mythos, most notably Clarke Ashton Smith.

I've always been driven to create, and my favourite lessons at school were those few hours when we had a lesson dedicated to creative writing, where my imagination could run riot.  No matter the blandness or mundaneness of the topic, I always managed to twist the premise and inject an element of the supernatural or the fantastic into the story. I think I took an odd sort of pleasure in it. This is largely where my inspiration comes from.  I observe things around me that happen in everyday life and let my mind run off on a random tangent that transforms it into something much more speculative. I use the same methods in my artwork.  Some of my pictures have been inspired for example by a couple sat in a bus shelter (which turned into a minotaur and a warrior princess) and a single shot from the sitcom Gavin and Stacey (which turned into an ill-advised love-affair between a young queen and her new husband's dashing son).

As I was growing up, I wrote stories, comic strips and made humourous drawings for friends, based loosely on things we did or bizarre things that happened to us, again taking the reality and twisting it to make a more fantastic story. These days I write for pleasure, and also in the hope of entertaining a wider audience.  I'm currently working towards getting my first novel 'Fortune's Thief' published.

Fortune's Thief Blurb:
When Tal Sarokan deserts from a mercenary band to look for a better life, little does he know that his departure will bring an end to his friends’ supernatural good fortune.
Al Salazar, the charismatic leader of the mercenaries, has stolen a stone from the Well of Fate and is using it to control his destiny, and that of his band, the Sarandani. When the mercenaries start dying, Al Salazar must somehow find Tal and convince him to return – by any means necessary. Meanwhile, the Keeper of the Well has set plans in motion to force Al Salazar to return the fate-stone through the subtle manipulation of his enemies. In time, Al Salazar learns that controlling one's own destiny comes at a price, and that every man's luck runs out in the end.

Fortune's Thief is not yet published, but you can find Deedee's published short stories in several anthologies:

The End Was Not the End:
Perfect Flaw:
A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court:
Monster Hunter Blood Trails:
Just One More Step:

Deedee Davies is a short story author and novelist interested mainly in the fantasy, horror and science-fiction genres. She has had five short stories published to date in publications from Seventh Star Press, Horrified Press and EMBY Press. Deedee is also a cover artist, with around thirty published book covers under her belt. She lives in Plymouth, UK with her partner, ten spiders and four snakes. 

Social Networking Links
You can read Deedee's blog at The Official Writing Blog of Deedee Davies: and see her artwork at 
You can also find her in the following places:


Friday, 16 January 2015

Fellowship of Fantasy Writers. Elizabeth Loraine

Hello, Elizabeth. Welcome to my blog.

Tomorrow I will be welcoming Deedee Davies.

New Bio.

I grew up in a small northern Minnesotan town married my high school sweetheart, had two beautiful children and as soon as we could we moved to a warmer climate. I have worked with my husband building and decorating custom homes for years.
After loving every kind of vampire book, movie and series since I was a child, I decided that I wanted to know more. I can write a book I thought, how hard can that be? wasn't as easy as I thought, but I stuck to it, and finished my first book Royal Blood Chronicles Book One in August 2009. I now have nine books in the series and am about to release book three of my new series Phantom Lives.  My parents always told me that I could do anything that I wanted, work hard, and do it right. I believe that, and live that every day.

I started writing this new vampire series for teens and their moms because I wanted something different to read. I was tired of all the modern versions of vampire books, there had to be more to these long lived beings. Where had they been, what had they seen? I wanted; no I NEEDED to know more, so Royal Blood Chronicles was born!  As in Royal Blood Chronicles, Phantom Lives features strong female characters and action and adventure mixed with romance, friendship and a historical backdrop. I hope you enjoy them.
Now I'm looking towards a new genre...Romance... I already do love stories, it seems a very simple transition to romance whether in contemporary, erotica, fantasy, or paranormal. I want to reach all audiences, and let my stories be told. I hope you will give all the genres which interest you a chance. I love to give you characters you can relate to and multi leveled plots, but also a simple, sweet, romance you can relax into. I love all my readers and if there is something you want to read about, please let me know.
When not world building, I love to cook and work in my garden. Gardening and cooking always lead to new book ideas. I guess it’s because both are so relaxing to me.
Elizabeth Loraine

My books:
Royal Blood Chronicles, begins with Katrina, the Beginning. You can find it on Amazon and most other ebook outlets. It’s FREE.
The others of that series are: The Protectors, The Dark Prince, Cain the Quest, Bloodline, Legacy, Redemption, Destiny and Sabine. There are also three novellas Quinn, a Watchers Story, Marcella – Vampire Mage and Julius – the Coven.  Another of my YA series is Phantom Lives with two books: Collier and Power. Green River is a Shifter Chronicle and the new adult romances are Corporate Ties and Western Escape.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Fellowship of Fantasy Writers. J Lenni Dorner

Welcome to my blog, JLenni Dorner.

Tomorrow I am hosting Elizabeth Loraine.

Name: J Lenni Dorner
What you want from the other authors: I'm cool with whatever we're doing.
(Is each blog perhaps taking 1 interview? Or maybe 1 or 2 of these questions for every writer on each blog-- do the full hop to learn the most about everyone?)
Book title: (If you have one, if not, don't worry.) Wrong! ~ An anthology from the Creative Writing Institute, to be published by Southern Star Publications, in which I contributed one of the stories
" WRONG!: A themed anthology 2014 "
Buy links:  (shortened - is great for shortening.) Will be available in December.

Special Notes: I am one of the authors who won a spot in this anthology. All proceeds from book sales go to a charitable organization.
Proceeds from sales of "WRONG!: A themed anthology 2014" will benefit cancer patients in writing courses.

Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I weave fantasy with lore to unhinge your mind. I've written a few books that remain unpublished (querying, editing, totally rewriting). I've published short stories and poetry under several other names. " WRONG!: A themed anthology 2014 " includes my short story, EGOT and the Pond King.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
For NaNoWriMo 2014, I'll be working on The Dagger in the Darkrise, which is a high fantasy novel. It was inspired by a gaming community my friends and I began taking part in fifteen years ago.
The anthology, "Wrong!," features the winners of a writing contest. We were to use the lines, "I have a list and a map. What could possibly go wrong?," in the story. Entries had to be under 2,000 words. I was also inspired by a humorous image on Pinterest. Combining the required lines and that image, I wrote EGOT and the Pond King.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I've scribbled a few ideas, notes, dialog exchanges, and character quirks on a notebook that I keep on the headboard of my bed. My sleep handwriting is terrible though, so I'm not certain what all of it says.

What authors or books have influenced you?
Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer's Resistance by Rosanne Bane

What are you working on now?
I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo! I have a high fantasy planned out. I'm also finishing up a short fantasy story and a short story for young adults.

What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I think Twitter offers the best method I've seen. I say this due to the massive number of ebooks by others I've acquired thanks to links I've seen there.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
Don't be a writer. Be anything else. Only be a writer if you enraged that I just told you not to be one and were mentally arguing with me.

What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Even if you make a mistake, it's better than making no attempt at all.

What are you reading now?
I'm in the middle of two reference books on the craft. ("Save the Cat" and "Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint") I'm also reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and Psi Another Day by D.R. Rosensteel.

"Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint," "The War of the Flowers" by Tad Williams, "The Other Normals" by Ned Vizzini, and "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms" by N.K. Jemisin.
The last one is the January 2015 selection for the Fantasy Faction book club.

What's next for you as a writer?
To keep on writing! I'll finish up the fantasy book and then get into editing and querying. I'm also cleaning up my urban fantasy book, then re-editing and sending it back out to query.

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling (it's the longest one)
Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron
Moby Dick by Herman Melville

What inspires you to write?

I write because I have to. I write for the same reason that I breathe, eat, or sleep. I write because my characters need me. I write because doing so reminds me that I am alive, that I have a purpose, and that the next page is a reason to wake up tomorrow.

Tell us about your writing process
A character gets into my head and demands to exist. The loudest ones win. The quiet ones attempt to kill them off.

Are you an outliner or a seat of the pants writer? If you are an outliner, what do you use to outline? Whiteboard? Software?
I will sketch a very basic outline after I've fleshed out the story a bit.

Do you create character sketches before or during your writing?
A huge yes to this one! I start them before, and expand upon them during. Keeping track of all those tiny little notes is important.

Do you listen to or talk to your characters? How do you interact with your characters while you are writing?
The characters aren't real good about ever shutting up. Seriously, I'm either a writer or a complete psycho. It's a thin line. My interactions with them while writing are a bit touch and go, because sometimes (most times) I have to torture them a bit.

What advice would you give other writers?
For writing fiction you simply have to do exactly what all the other successful authors have, but in a way that no other ever came up with.
(I have that on a pin - )

How did you decide how to publish your books?
To my understanding, some publishing houses have lists of frequent book buyers to whom they send alerts when a new book is published. This increases sales. So I start by looking at the success of other published books and work from there. It is also very important to research, because I've heard about several writers who published with someone that vanished, and took the rights and royalties with them! Scary stuff.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it's going to be really interesting. There's a big flood right now from the indie section. Some of it is great, some of it is good, and some of it is in desperate need of editors. The larger presses are going to need to adapt to this new love of authors who don't need them. Those who can change, who can offer something amazing to writers and readers alike, will survive. Any who can't adapt will vanish in the next decade, tossed onto the pile with Enron, MySpace, and Pontiac vehicles.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Fellowshop of Fantasy Writers. Jean Lauzier

I am thoroughly enjoying this blog tour.

Hello, Jean. Welcome to my blog. I hope everyone enjoys Jean's posts.

Tomorrow I am welcoming J Lenni Dorner.

Jean Lauzier started out writing short stories and had quite a few published in online magazines such as Long Story Short, Crimson Dagger, Wax Romantic, Mysterical-e, and many other places that don’t exist now. She’s also won several short story writing contests (once, she took 2nd place in  NETWO’s contest) and placed in numerous others.
Jean plays in many different genres. She has a western time travel serial that is online titled I Wish…, a romance serial (also online) titled Where the Heart is, along with a short, mystery story collection, Six Pack of Murder. Her first novel, Dragons of Jade, made its debut April 1st of this year.
Jean lives in Longview where she is the president of Longview’s East Texas Writer’s Association. At home, she divides her time between hubby, kids, 2 Dobermans, training the cat, bonsai trees, and writing.

Now enjoy an extract from Jean's book, Dragons of Jade.

Chapter 1

Even the dragon agrees.
Jade Delaney sat at her desk and studied the note that had been left with her as an infant. The handwritten letters flowed across the page.
This is my daughter, Jade. It isn’t safe for her here. Please take care of her for me. Jade, I hope one day you can understand. I love you more than life itself but cannot protect you here. Even the dragon agrees. Lilith.
Jade ran a fingertip across the signature. Lilith, her mother was Lilith. She reread the last line again, shook her head, and sighed. There’s no such thing as dragons. Even if she did dream of them on a regular basis.
At the front of the classroom, the professor cleared his throat, and scooted his chair across the floor. Jade slid down in her seat, folded the pages, returned them to their envelope, and sat staring at the open textbook. Footsteps approached so she glanced up. Mr. Smithers. And heading her way. He stopped beside her, laid a folded sheet of paper across the pages of her book, tapped them then moved on. She sighed and waited for him to return to his desk before picking it up. Must have done really bad on that test. Why couldn’t anatomy be more interesting? She picked up the paper, opened it. See me after class. Yep, must have done really bad. She sighed, slid the paper between the pages of her book, and tried to concentrate on the canine reproductive system.
Jade waited until her classmates had left before approaching the front of the classroom. She stood before the desk of her professor and wiped a hand on her pants leg. Her stomach churned in dread.
Mr. Smithers looked up from the paper in his hand and into her eyes. “I don’t understand it. We discussed this in class during the past week and yet you still barely pass. You know the material. What am I doing wrong?”
Jade shifted from one foot to the other. “It isn’t you, you’re a great teacher. I just don’t enjoy anatomy.” She cringed as she said it but that was the truth.
He handed her the test paper. A large D minus in red sharpie at the top. “You have a natural ability with animals. I’ve watched you in the clinic; it’s almost as if you can read their minds. But you need more than an affinity for animals to become a veterinarian.” He shook his head. “You’re a bright girl, good student, intelligent. I hate to see you wasting your potential. But maybe you need to change careers.” He dropped his sharpie in the desk drawer, shoved it closed. “Today is Friday. Think about what you want out of life this weekend.” He ran a hand through his thinning hair. “I’ll see you Monday.”
Jade picked her denim backpack off the floor, swung it over her shoulder. “Have a nice weekend.”
“Think about it Jade, you’re much too intelligent to be wasting your time like this.”
“I will.” She turned on her heels and strode from the room.
The classroom door closed behind her with a quiet click as she shifted the backpack filled with books. “That was fun, Jade.” She brushed back a strand of hair from her face. If she knew what she wanted to do with her life, she’d be doing it instead of being here. Her footsteps echoed down the empty hallway as the light grew dim. She gazed around. A single light shone from the ceiling, illuminating a small spot on the door leading from of the building. In the light, an image shimmered on the door. Jade stepped in front of the door and gasped. She glanced around searching the hallway, saw no one, and turned back to the door. Her backpack slid off her shoulder and thumped to the floor as she stared at the image of herself standing before Mr. Smithers’ desk. Reaching up, she tentatively touched the scene. Her fingers warmed as they merged with the image then chilled with contact of the metal door. The picture shifted around her fingers to show her dressed in a cap and gown, diploma in hand. Jade sucked in her breath. So she would graduate. But how could this be possible?
She glanced around the darkened hallway again but still saw no one. The image shifted and swirled. A man appeared next to her, a small boy joined them. Her image-self reached down, picked up the child and smiled. The picture blurred, and Jade wiped a tear from her cheek. She would be a mother one day.
A breeze played with her hair as the wall beside the image shifted and shimmered. Another door appeared in the wall, wavered, and became solid. Jade ran her hand across the wood. Gazing around at the empty hall, she brushed a stray strand of hair from her eyes. She turned back to the new door, watched it shimmer as an image formed. With a gasp, she stepped back from the door shaking her head. “That’s not possible. There’s no such thing as dragons.” Jade swallowed hard, touched the dragon in the image. Her image-self stood before the dragon, hand extended.
 The dragon turned toward her, met her gaze. It’s your choice.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Fellowship of Fantasy Writers. JoElle Martin

Today I welcome Joelle Martin to my blog. You can find JoElle's blog at

Q - Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.   
A - I am convinced I was a male elf in a previous life. I always find myself strongly connected to the male protagonist of my stories. Three of my novels were published, but they were released as four books because my first novel was rather long for YA. I've just finished my first Fantasy Romance. It is sort of a Harlequin Fairy Tale. I also have three other WIPs.       
Q - What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?    What are you working on now?   
A - I have just finished writing Julianne's Wish. It is about finding your true soulmate. The story sort of just popped into my head after I read Plato's explanation of soul mates in his Symposium.
After I get Julianne's Wish submitted, I plan to finish Chloe’s Promise. They are both Fantasy Romances. Adult modern day fairy tales. I always work on two or three novels at a time because stories come to me and I start on them while the ideas are fresh. I then set them aside to finish whatever I have going.
Q - What authors or books have influenced you?       
A - Every fairy tale and romance I've ever read: The Snow Queen, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Peter Pan, Snow White & Rose Red, Rapunzel, etc.       
Q - What is the best advice you have ever heard?       
A - Be thick skinned and open minded about constructive criticism.        
Q - What's next for you as a writer?       
A - Besides writing novels, I also write non-fiction articles on subjects ranging from health and fitness to community concerns. I've had these published in newspapers and trade magazines. I'd like to make the time to write more non-fiction. I've kind of neglected this side of me lately.   
Q - Do you listen to or talk to your characters? How do you interact with your characters while you are writing?
A - Of course. All the time. Very often I become my characters, as I write scenes involving them.       
I feel their emotions as I describe them. They laugh, I laugh. They cry, I cry. I talk back and forth in their dialogues. It is almost like I am all the actors in a play, acting out the scenes as the play is being written.   
Q - What do you think about the future of book publishing?       
A – I spend a lot of time driving, so I am a fan of audio books. However, even though I have kindle on my tablet, I have yet to read a kindle book. I like to turn pages. I like hunting for books on bookstore shelves. And I know I am not alone in this. Computers are changing our lives, but I don't know that physical books will entirely disappear. Even though we have iTunes, people still play instruments and go to live concerts. Even though electronic keyboards exist, people still play pianos. Even though movies can be downloaded and bought on DVD, people still go to the theater to watch them, people still watch stage performances. I think humans have a need to physical contact with the arts, including physically holding a book.       

Fun Facts about the Dreamer’s Forest Series:

The Kingman Family – they are named after the town of Kingman AZ.
Dexy – is named after the band Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Alyssa and Amanda – are named after my nieces. One of them, in the story, studies nursing. One of my nieces actually just finished nursing school. 
Rachel Kingman – was named in honor of my son’s German Shepherd Dog, Rachel, who was a guide dog puppy.
Dreamer – was the most difficult character to name. He rejected about five names before he accepted Dreamer. I didn’t find out why until later. His name came to me while listening to the Dream Academy’s song Life in a Northern Town.   
A Bridge in the Forest – I sent my sister and nieces a list of 12 names for the title of the first novel. They didn’t like any of them. The title didn’t come to me until the manuscript was nearly finished. It made the titles of the next books, A Secret in the Forest and Moonlight in the Forest, very easy.
The inspiration for the story came to me while I was driving through the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests in Oregon during a full moon.


JoElle was born in the Pacific Northwest. When she was a young girl, she moved with her family to Guadalajara, Mexico. She has since lived in South Texas,Central Texas, the Bay Area of California, and now her home is in Northern Nevada.
Today she spends most of her time wandering the scenic highways of America with her husband and creating new worlds and characters for her novels.
JoElle comes from a large family. With two older brothers and three younger sisters, she enjoyed the middle spot while growing up. (She was the official tattletale - a title none of her siblings ever let her forget). Though she loved playing outside as a child, she was also a bookworm.
Married shortly after graduating high school, she and her husband have been happily married over 30 years. (Which is a big reason JoElle firmly believes in happily ever afters!)
When they are home, JoElle and her husband enjoy visiting their son, daughter in law, and four grandchildren.
Ever since she was a little girl, and wrote her first multi-page story in fourth grade, JoElle knew she wanted to be a writer.  She competed in Journalism in high school, winning several awards in feature writing. JoElle writes both fiction and non-fiction. In addition to her novels, she has written a number of feature stories of community interest for local newspapers on subjects such as volunteering, guide dogs, homeschooling, and the Explorer program. She served as a regional editor for a homeschooling newsletter and has had a number of short stories and articles published in print magazines and e-zines.