Sunday, October 31, 2010

FREE READ Draft of THE QUEST part two.. a short story

Mistral took her first breath of Earth air and stifled a cough. Her lungs threatened to spasm. Darkness, thicker than the dragon’s cavern embraced her. In the distance the loom of light from the truck stop spread like a stain into the night. Stars crowded a single moon, watching her brace against the cold. The noises of the night took a few moments to sort, but nothing close threatened her progress.
Tightening her jacket against the chilled air, Mistral walked toward the light. Walking gave her time to get used to the fetid air and the unusual gravity. Exercise helped warm her limbs. Walking also gave her time to work on the languages and lessons the dragon said she would need. Stars moved above her, following her journey in awed silence.
The two women from the dragon’s vision sat at their narrow table clutching steaming mugs. They now stared out the window of the café, watching her as if she were a ghost rising from a grave. Their expression of amazement didn’t concern her. She needed the staff they carried. She swung open a fragile door, moving into the light and stifling warmth.
The smell of boiling oil, burnt sugar, coffee and human body odour made her gag. Intense light played havoc with her night vision. The sound of raucous music pounded her eardrums and for a moment she fought the urge to flee. No one else seemed to find the assault on their senses abnormal. Struggling to retain a shred of calm, she approached the woman with the ancient wood.
“Give me the staff. Please.” She found speaking the language aloud more difficult than running the words through her head. The woman’s expression of incredulity changed to one of confusion. The other woman leaned forward across the table, pushing aside a plate of half eaten food.
“She means your walking stick, love. I think she’s from one of those Fantasy convention things. What she’s doing out here is beyond me, but she looks serious.”
“If I succeed in my quest, I will return it to you. If I fail, you will not need it.” Mistral lifted her hand. “Please.”
“This belonged to my father.” The woman gripped the walking stick, caressing the engraved horse-head. White knuckles showed the ravages of age and failing health. On another world, Mistral could have offered to help the woman fight the disease running through her blood. Tonight time ran too fast.  “Not only is it useful.” The old woman’s eyes twinkled as she looked at her companion and winked. “It is precious to me.”
“Ancient wood handled with love. The staff has attributes I need to save this world. Please, time is speeding up. Haven’t you noticed? So soon it will begin to cycle and then it will be too late.” Mistral considered removing the staff by force. Empowering the wood if stolen would take longer and the risk of her magic backfiring from an unfriendly conduit increased dramatically. “Please. I can give you nothing in return, except a promise to do my utmost to prevent the catastrophe that is developing.”  
“Catastrophe?”  Both women spoke. Mistral reached for the staff.
“Here, love. If it means so much to you. I hope it brings you luck.” The woman smiled and handed Mistral the walking stick. “If possible I would like it back  when you have completed your quest.”
Mistral chose to ignore the woman’s patronising tone. 
“Here...” Grey hair flicked as the woman searched in a pouch slung across her shoulder. She removed a think transparent tube and scribbled words on a folded paper. Within the confines of a circular stain from the base of the steaming mug, Mistral saw but could not read a series of neat runes.  The woman glanced to her companion, meeting her eyes, before nodding as if she needed the other woman’s assurance. “There, that’s my home address. We’re travelling. Won’t be back for a while so there is no hurry. Still. I would appreciate getting the walking stick back.”
“Thank you many times.” Mistral folded the soft paper and tucked it inside her vest. If she survived, if she succeeded, she would find someone to decipher the writing. Following the rank smell of hot oil, Mistral left the women as they began to chatter. She needed to hurry. A quickening of her blood heralded the approach of dawn. Within the harsh light of the cafe, she almost lost sense of her enemy, Time.
The cook’s weapon, secreted in a niche in the kitchen, took a moment to retrieve. The man’s ample girth rippled as he lunged toward her. She sidestepped, easily avoiding contact with his oil stained apron and grasping paws. His face reddened and his eyes bulged. The cook spluttered and spat but he did not shout as he scrambled after her.
Light as a summer breeze Mistral moved out of his reach. She shoved the heavy metal ieapon  into her belt and pushed past the hot stove. Rather than trying to explain her need to the blustering cook, Mistral smiled. “Thanks. I will return this, if I succeed.” She slammed the kitchen door and wedged an empty drum against the lock.
Before the cook managed to escape from his kitchen, or alert the others, Mistral threaded her way through a collection of parked vehicles till she found a neglected bike. It took a moment to locate the two wheeled contraption she had seen in the dragon’s vision.
No longer shining, but full of fuel, the bike needed a spark of energy to bring it to life. Using a mix of science and magic Mistral brought the beast to life.  Another of the dragon’s lessons came into use as she turned the throttle and selected a gear. Once astride the metal monster, she tucked the staff beneath her and turned the bike toward the darkness of the empty desert.
Behind her all sound and light from the truck stop faded. Alone on a strange world, she marvelled at the speed she travelled.  She heard nothing apart from the wind rushing past her ears. Moving faster than a dragon descending to a kill, Mistral experimented with switches until the machine’s lights came on. Years of travel on horseback seemed like wasted time compared to the black beast racing tirelessly toward the dawn. Its narrow beam of light helped her negotiate the rough terrain and although others might follow, the urgency of her quest drove her onward.
The pull of the dragon focus, buried for forty thousand years, guided Mistral across the barren landscape. Populated by stunted shrubs and boulders, the empty horizon illuminated by a blood red dawn reminded her of how far from her own world she had travelled.
The explosion of pain knocked her from the saddle before she heard the crack of sudden thunder. Mistral screamed. Her body hit the dirt. Tumbled and twisted, her world turned black.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

FREE READ Draft of THE QUEST.. a short story

This is an excerpt from a short story written as part of an anthology that may yet see light of day.
PART ONE                    850 words

The Quest.
The dragon turned her golden eye toward the young woman and lowered her massive head. In the dark confines of the ancient cavern the sound of the woman’s heartbeat hammering against her chest, disturbed the quiet.  The dragon exhaled. So many hopes, so many futures rested on the shoulders of this diminutive human.
“Your quest…” The dragon’s voice sent echoes reverberating off distant walls of empty halls once filled with the warmth of dragon kind. With a talon designed to tear flesh from bone, she touched a pool of still black water. A ripple spread outward, before the water’s mirrored surface returned. With a thought she called up enough light, to illuminate a scene she had watched for so long.
Under an expanse of sky that stretched from one star studded horizon to the other, a fingernail moon shed light on a scarred landscape. The dragon focused and the image centred on a confused gathering of lights emanating from a group of buildings.  Again she tightened her focus. The hammering of the human’s heart increased to the point where the dragon found it hard to concentrate on her own calm.
"Lies before you." The young woman needed a strong heart to face the world where her quest lay. Dragons no longer dared cross the rift to linger in a world where magic ceased to exist and science held sway. This human must travel where dragons now feared to fly.
It hadn’t always been that way. For a moment, a dozen racing beats of the human’s heart, the dragon remembered the feeling of euphoria that crossing from one world to another brought her kind. The image faltered as the dragon’s concentration lapsed. The human cleared her throat, bringing the dragon back to the task at hand.
Motorized metal boxes followed slivers of light along the scars crossing the surface of the world. Humans controlled the motion, stopping at an oasis of light for sustenance and fuel. Focus centred on the group of buildings, the main source of light, movement and human activity.
The human leaned forward. Although her heart raced, the dragon recognized the woman’s burning curiosity.  Her courage might give her the strength to succeed when so many had failed. The dragon did not mention the others. Last desperate hope rested on this woman’s shoulders. For now, the safety of too many worlds rested in her hands.
The woman peered into the image, where, within the warm light of the building nearly a dozen people moved. There travellers ordered meals, ate or read large sheets of paper.  Others prepared food, filled tanks or slept within the metal boxes. The woman pointed, drawing the dragon’s focus to individuals within the strange tableau.
Two women sat facing each other across a narrow table. They appeared as older women, with dour expressions on their face. They had the look of people who expected to be somewhere else. As well they could. The younger woman held a short staff, complete with an ornate end.
The human lifted her head as though surprised at the scene. “No magic? Yet they carry ancient wood able to translate power?”
“A crutch, to help an old woman walk, but yes the wood is ancient. It may retain a memory of magic.” The dragon’s heart lifted with hope. This human held the future in her hands. Her acute assessment boded well. “Remember your magic may not always work in their world. The air is tainted. The water is corrupt. Even the planet’s spirit is beyond our call. Hope remains but the human lust for power has almost destroyed the habitable places. Beware despair. Watch closely… even as we speak we witness violence that is endemic to this world.”
“I see a man who does not allow the violence to go unsorted. His actions show that at least some good remains in the human spirit. Another man shelves a weapon unused. He shows restraint. I need a weapon. The universe provides.” The human looked into the dragon’s eyes and her gaze did not waver or show any sign of hesitation or fear. “Do not despair dragon. The human spirit can rise to meet most challenges. Even knowing my magic may not work, I accept your quest. I will see the border between dimensions safe before time turns back on itself.”
“There are those who will try to stop you. It is into danger we send you. Already you have proved yourself champion among many. This quest will test every skill you possess and all the lessons we have taught you.”
 “I understand. Magic doesn’t always work. But a carefully thrown plate works as a weapon. It will be an interesting experience, dragon.  I accept the challenge, in return for you keeping your part of our deal.”
“If you fail, the barrier keeping the soul daemons bound will be destroyed.”
“Then I dare not fail.”  The human straightened, looked the dragon in the eye and squared her shoulders. “I gather you don’t want to come with me to this world?”
“Dragon’s don’t get a good reception there.” The dragon lifted a talon and disturbed the watery image. “If you are ready…  it is time for you to go.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Time Traveller in Charlie Chaplin's Circus DVD ... What an idea for a story.

In 1928 a woman is photographed walking through the back of Charlie Chaplin's movie set. She is clutching a small object to her left ear and chattering into it. Sounds innocuous and perhaps it is. Or it could be a careless time traveller caught on film. Either way it sets the imagination on fire.
What a great concept for a novel! I just love hearing things like this. They are so inspiring.

Charlie Chaplins 'Circus' timetraveller  youtube video.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lids.. The Technology must be improving.

Just lately I have found that there are certain lids on certain jars that defy my ability to twist them open.
Now, I feel sure it isn't my strength that is diminishing, therefore it MUST be some new technology invented to foil the average household cook.
Of course there are ways and means to open stubborn lids. BUT they used to succumb to brute force.
Sadly more and more often they refuse to co operate.
So, the technology must be improving. Don't you reckon?

Finally Finished...

I have to admit that when Lea Schizas from Museitup Publishing  asked for all eight books in the series I sent them off with a little hesitation. I wrote them for an Australian audience using our special brand of spelling.
Changing five hundred thousand words from Australian English to USA English can be done with Find and Replace on MS Word. That's not a huge problem, but for my own peace of mind I needed to go through each book and find those pesky little words that fall under the radar.
So, since Sept 10th till last night I have been working frantically to correct any imperfections. The manuscripts have already been sent away, but I hope the corrections will help smooth the editing process.
Meanwhile it is exciting to find the books are quite readable. After being away from Caleath's world for a year or so, I returned with relief. The story is not too shabby! I believe they will find acceptence among readers. Other than those few who have read them and are impatient for the next installment.
More than anything I am excited to have others read and enjoy the story. Now I feel it is polished and in the right language for the majority of readers, I can relax and focus on promoting and when the time comes, editing.
Now I feel my work is worthy of the wonderful photos I have for cover ideas, website and promoting. Thanks to Matt and Rachel, it makes working on the books such a pleasure!
Can't wait for the new website to be up and running. Thanks to Mick and Tim. I will be able to host blogs and have excerpts and interviews and things there.
Now I am excited!
Oh, and still working on the map idea. Hmmm....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Map making... for Adrift

Adrift I and II are sea faring adventures that cover a few oceans and continents. Thinking about the books and comments made from my first published book, readers seem to like maps to follow. So now I am trying to create a map or perhaps charts to follow the story.

Creating maps for a fantasy is not as easy as it sounds, but when you write fantasy and create your world, you need to have a map in your head. Otherwise, not only your characters and readers will be lost, but you might find it difficult to keep track of time and distance travelled. In Exiled: Autumn's Peril, even the phases of the moon are set to match the time taken travelling. Not that in a fantasy world the moon or moons need to keep pace with any familiar time frame, but it helped mapping distances and times.

So, back to the charts. I work in pen and ink, then scan to the computer, tweak, rework things, sweat, swear a little, and then hope for the best. I have maps for the first five books. Each book has additions and subtractions to the map depending on places travelled. It was fun to do. Now I am trying to do something different, charting an ocean voyage AND cross country journey.

It is all fun.

Monday, October 18, 2010

For a humorous look at flying.. check out Workforced .com.
A great way to start the day, with a chuckle.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Trailer exercise for Museitup Conference workshop.

Book Trailer made during Museitup Online Writer's conference. Cover design is just a suggestion. So much fun making it. This was done with Movie maker. Transitions and timing refused to co operate. Still.. lots of fun.

Music is Beethoven's Op 84 Egmont.

New Website coming soon...

My new website is in the pipeline too. So excited. With Mick and Tim on the job it is sure to be awesome. What wonderful people there are in this world. I am so lucky to have such good friends. Lucky too that they read Sci fi/Fantasy and love the books!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Plagiarism... if it can happen to JK Rowlings, can it happen to you?

Plagiarism is one of those things, like copyright, that artists of all media need to watch. They say there are only seven themes for storytelling, and music has finite permutations, so how can an artist be sure they are not inadvertently rehashing someone else's ideas. It isn't easy. The more you read, and the more you write, the more likely other sources will influence your work. The question facing J K Rowlings I guess, is how can she prove she had not read the book in question.  It will be interesting to see how the court case is decided. Sadly there is too much money involved. 

JKRowlings in court for plagiarism
From Third Age News
J.K. Rowling is being sued for plagiarism, and a judge refuses to dismiss the lawsuit.
The estate of the late author Adrian Jacobs sued Rowling and her publishers, accusing her of plagiarizing Jacobs’ 1987 book, “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard – No.1 Livid Land.” They say that her book “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” the fourth book the Harry Potter series, copied substantial parts of the 16-page “Willy the Wizard.”
Rowling and her publishers, Bloomsbury Publishing PL, applied for the case to be immediately dropped. They say that the Jacob estate’s copyright infringement claims have no chance of succeeding.

Read more:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Do writers buy more books than readers?

Recently I was advised against befriending 'writers' on Facebook. I am of the opinion that authors buy and read as many books as 'readers'. Already I have extended my 'to read' list from updates on FB. Books I would not normally have heard about. This is the internet age. Facebook is the place to show your product and meet like minded people. It follows that some of those people will be inspired to buy your books. If they meet with their approval word of mouth should spread interest. Makes sense.
Readers are often writers who haven't yet picked up a pen. I read avidly for many years, ( will not count how many) before I began to write. During those years I was busy with a paintbrush, creating portraits among other things. 
So, although a huge following of readers should guarentee sales, I feel comfortable with a collection of authors as friends too.
At least I will never be short of something to read.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hints and Tips on How to Edit Fantasy Novels

Museitup Writer's Conference is on this week. With the inspiration a week filled with workshops brings, it is likely a few of us will finally complete a draft manuscript. If not in Oct, November is NaNoWriMo. Where writers struggle to complete 50,000 words in a month. So I am re posting a few hints and tips on creative writing  for the Fantasy author. 

When it is time to edit.
Once you have penned your manuscript, leave the novel to age for a few weeks, or months. Then take the time to polish your work while pursuing publishers. 
This isn’t the signal to panic, but to take a deep breath and find time to spend going over your story. Even more than when you are writing, you will need a Do Not Disturb sign. (A lesson learnt from experience.) 
 Go back over the plot. 
Does the novel follow the Fantasy Plot Arc? 
The basic Arc is when your Hero embarks on his quest, faces antagonists, develops through conflict, prevails in a climax and loose ends are tied to the satisfaction of your reader in the denouement. As you read, can you count five instances where the plot is propelled forward?
If not consider omitting scenes that deviate from the plot. Grammar. While re reading, have a list of things to look for to improve your writing. 
For instance, you should know by now the various words to avoid. Check and correct the overuse of adverbs, adjectives, passive voice, telling not showing, clichés, repetitive words and phrases, or altered POV. Commas. Find the rules for your region.
They differ from country to country and cause a great deal of confusion. 
Once you have the rules for your region, or the region of the publisher and readers of your target audience, apply them throughout your work.
Read your work aloud. Does every sentence flow?
Print out your manuscript once you feel it is polished and re read it. Everything looks different in print. Then go over it again on the computer. If possible, seek the help of other readers, writers. Have them review your work and look for plot flaws or grammatical errors. 
A good critique group will help at this stage if you haven't already joined on. Listen and learn and take on board all the information that is relevant to your work. 
Keep writing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Museitup Writer's Conference begins again.

It is wonderful to have the opportunity to share and gather information from the conference again.
I might be distracted this week.
So far I have created a new banner...

and updated an old website.The Chronicles of Caleath
And the conference hasn't even begun properly yet.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The thrills of being an author and an author's friend...

One of the great things about being an author's friend is having the chance to share a growing story. At present Ron Adams, author of Key Lime Squeeze, is posting a story in short doses on his blog, Shadows and the Night.
It is worth checking out.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Inspiration for a Character...

One facet of the main character's past in the Chronicles of Caleath comes from an obsession with computer games.
There are schools of thought that suggest violent computer games create violent people.
A documentary program once showed a group of young people totally immersed in their role playing games. So intense was their playing that they lived beside their computers. I think they were actually paid to compete in online games. Of course such obsession and intensity became fodder for my imagination. Imagine living, sleeping, eating and breathing in a competitive hive of computers and games. The stress, the pressure and the lack of fresh air and sunshine... doesn't appeal to me, but apparently there are those who are more than happy to devote their lives to playing the 'game'.
Would these young people become violent, through their association with violence as their way of life, even if it is a virtual life?
Can a young adult retain compassion and distinguish between reality and virtual reality after total immersion in such a Game? Discovering the quality of compassion and realizing the difference between fantasy and reality gives a lot of scope for creating depth in a fantasy character. And that is just one aspect of his past.

Research for writing is always interesting. When writing Fantasy snippets of fact can help create the most interesting scenarios. It is always fun and hopefully gives the reader some enjoyment too.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October Rain

Today is one of those overcast days where a good book is a must. The debate at present is whether or not I will retreat beneath a blanket. Bernard Cornwell's Azincourt is providing the perfect reading material.
Meanwhile, I was reading a post from a fellow author Christine London's Blog
and discovered that Diana Gabaldon is releasing a graphic novel called The Exile, based on her Outlander series.
It is odd to find other books with titles so similar to my own.
Thank goodness the original book, Exiled was self-published and copywritten years ago. 
Diana's book title alone grabs my attention.  I love her work and look forward to the graphic novel with anticipation.
The excitement of being published is tempered by the need for patience. I am using each day between now and publication day, to organise promotion ideas and research marketing trends. (and to read the occasional book)