Great post from Steven Montano. What are your favourite cheesy fantasy movies?
Originally posted on Guild Of Dreams:
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is pretty awesome. Game of Thrones, perhaps even better. For fans of epic fantasy, these efforts represent the culmination of what we love about the genre, everything that pulls us in whenever we pick up a new novel or sit down to play Dungeons & Dragons with our friends — the drama, the politics, the darkness, the sense of danger and wonder and excitement and the discovery of worlds that can only exist in the imagination.
But not every effort to bring epic fantasy to the screen have been nearly so successful. In fact, it’s safe to say that most of them were pretty awful…and yet we love them anyway.
It’s hard to say why epic fantasy translates so poorly to film, but it seems that much of what feels so sweeping and serious in the personalized experience of reading a novel comes across as a bit…
View original 679 more words
For those of you who may not follow the Guild of Dreams blog, here’s my latest post in which I’m dabbling with a horror short story. Let me know what you think.
Originally posted on Guild Of Dreams:
by Bruce Blake
A pleasant thing happened to me the other day…one of those things that all writers have experienced, but want to have happen more frequently.
A story began to form in my head.
It came out of no where, opening before me like a rolled carpet careening down a hill. It was only a few lines to begin with, but the more I turned them over in my head, inspecting them with the keen eye of a prospector determining the value of a nugget, the more it stuck, grew, developed.
This is how it started in my head:
It was Friday, April 13th the day they locked the door; none of us knew when it would open again. If it ever would.
I liked it. Two quick sentences to set up some questions in the reader’s head–who was being locked…
View original 920 more words
Thought I would save those precious electrons that power the interwebs and kill two cover reveals with one blog post. Let me know what you think!
Khirro’s Journey: The Complete Trilogy
Release date: April 25
A coward. A king. A curse. A quest.
Follow the fate of Khirro, a farmer who never wanted be anything more, on a quest to save a kingdom. All three books of the Khirro’s Journey trilogy–Blood of the King, Spirit of the King and Heart of the King–available in one volume. The series has been called “an excellent adventure, “incredible”, “the best read in a very long time” and “a masterpiece” by satisfied readers. Thousands have joined Khirro and his companions on their adventure through haunted lands, in their defiance of scheming magicians, and their fight against an army of the dead. Now is your chance to take up the journey and live the adventure.
The Handmaid (The Lady Corsairs Part 2)
Erotica from Miss Rosie Bitts with Mr. Bitts
Release Date: May 1
The adventures of Anna and Margot–the Lady Corsairs–continue.
After being left behind on a pirate ship filled with cut-throat corsairs, Margot has only the handsome and dangerous Billy the Bone to turn to for help and protection. But at what price will his protection come? With hundreds of miles of the Mediterranean Sea separating Margot from the life she once knew, it seems a journey across the sea isn’t the only journey the handmaid is set to take.
Rosie Bitts is a burlesque diva, chanteuse, impresario and sex in heels. When you’re known as the “Libido of Burlesque”, writing erotica is the next logical step.
Rosie is a performer, producer, keynote speaker, and writer of her multiple award-winning one woman play, “The Fabulous Miss Rosie Bitts”. She was named a “Notable Canadian Woman” by the National Post, and award-winning author Cherie Priest called her “…the real deal and the whole package.” She has performed all over North America, is the founder of Best Bitts Productions, and is excited to be sharing her sexy with the world through literature.
Mr. Bitts is the pseudonym of best-selling fantasy author Bruce Blake. His Khirro’s Journey epic fantasy trilogy was awarded the Life Changing Read Award by author and reviewer Ella Medler, and his first novel, urban fantasy On Unfaithful Wings, was a semi-finalist for the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book of 2012. Life as the trophy husband of a burlesque diva has led Bruce to many places he never expected to go, so it wasn’t a surprise when Rosie wanted to team up to write historical erotica, and the Lady Corsairs were born.
The holiday season is behind us. Gifts were given, parties attended, celebrations celebrated and resolutions made. I know for a fact it’s done, because today I took my Christmas tree to be recycled and tomorrow (Monday) my daughter heads back to school. There are no surer signs of the close of the yuletide season.
I’ve already seen a number of other authors welcome the new year on their blogs, so I guess I’m a few days behind, but I wanted to share with everyone what is in store for the coming year.
First off, I want to be clear that I do not make New Year’s resolutions. Let’s be honest: a resolution these days seems to suggest imminent failure. I drove past a church the other day, and the sign outside said “May your troubles this year be as short as your resolutions.” If a church can’t have faith, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Instead of resolutions, my wife and I partake in a New Year’s eve ritual in which we observe the past year, noting gains and losses and clearing resentments, and then set goals and intentions for the coming year. The difference between a goal and a resolution is that a goal must be specific, measurable and involve a deadline. For instance, you may have a resolution to lose weight, but your goal might be to lose 10 pounds by March 1. A resolution is to finish your novel; a goal is to have the first draft complete by Feb. 1, personal edits completed by March 1 and the book published by April 1.
The other thing that gives power to goals is accountability, and to have accountability, your goals must be shared with others. So here I am to share.
My two main goals for writing this year are to publish four more full-length novels in my usual genre (fantasy) and a minimum of six other projects that I will publish in other genres under pen names. Let’s deal with the novels first.
#2 novel for the year is the third Icarus Fell Novel (Secrets of the Hanged Man). I wrote 50000 words of this for NaNoWriMo and will be retooling and adding to it for April 1 release.
#3 novel is an epic fantasy I’ve been wanting to write for years. The basic outline is in place and I actually have a bit written, but I will likely start again from the beginning. Aug. 1 release.
#4 novel is another epic fantasy, the idea for which recently wormed its way into my head where it lives, nattering in my ear. At this point I don’t know if it will be a one-off or a series, though I have my suspicions that, once I get into the story, there will be a lot more to it than I might think. Dec. 1 release, in time for Christmas.
As for the minimum six other projects (I say minimum because I currently only have one planned and a vague idea for the others, so I am unsure of their lengths), the first will be completed by the end of this month and ready for publication. The others will be published every other month, or perhaps quicker. This goal will be updated and adjusted as I find out exactly what it is I’ll be writing.
On top of this, there will be the three parts of the Khirro’s Journey trilogy released in one volume, an omnibus edition of the first three Icarus novels, and I am about to re-release all my short stories as individual quick-reads for 99 cents each.
All of this is leading to my ultimate goal: a minimum of 25000 ebooks sold this year.
If you would like to follow along with my progress, tune in to the blog every once in a while, or you can follow this link and sign up for my newsletter (another goal for the year being fulfilled).
See you next time!
I have a great life. I’m married to a wonderful woman (who is a top burlesque performer), I have two great children, and I spend my days writing, editing, and doing other facets of business related to the production/publishing company my wife and I run together. I love my life, but still I get jealous of others at times. When I met Autumn Birt, who writes a great travel blog called No Map Nomads, I felt that twinge as the green monster reared its ugly head. Then, earlier this week, she released her new book Danger Peligros and I assisted by posting an excerpt. Reading it, my thirst for adventure travel disappeared…I’m more of a hotels and room service kind of guy, it turns out.
Let’s join Weifarer and Raven for another adventure to keep me in my place.
What are Peligros? That is a tough one to explain. They are the best and the worst of your day, travel, life. They are what draws us out from safe and comfy homes – the little itches that make such abodes feel too confining, too much the same. They are the essence of that moment when everything has gone horribly wrong and you are left thankful to be alive with parts that still add up to a functional whole. They are that moment when someone you don’t know lends you an unexpected, warm hand. They are when your luck goes from nonexistent to good, because you wouldn’t need good luck if things hadn’t looked scary for a time, now would you?
You know what a Peligro is, only you just didn’t know what to call it.
Raven and I have been traveling since we met on Martha’s Vineyard oh-so-many years ago now. From those early days barely surviving learning to sail on Vineyard Sound to more recent motorcycle trips through the Canadian Maritimes, we’ve had our share of trouble and of luck. Danger Peligros! collects some of those stories of our misadventures so that when you follow a Peligro out the door, you might be a little better informed!
How NOT to Cross Vineyard Sound
Ignorance protects the foolish and the young. And boy, were we lucky it did! This nearly unsuccessful crossing of Vineyard Sound taught us to laugh at our mistakes – once we were sure we were going to live to tell about them.
We were both wrong. Raven was right: we should have left earlier. I was certainly right and we definitely should have stopped in Oak Bluffs for gas. Beyond that, there was so much we didn’t have a clue about it was only the powers that protect the foolish and young that got us safely back to the mainland. Ignorance is bliss, especially if what you are ignorant of is the knife’s edge of success or death.
The sailboat was a beat up and well used MacGreggor 25. Bought on Martha’s Vineyard, we had lived aboard it for two months while working on the island. We’d sailed it exactly twice. The second time we had broken a block due to improper rigging of a boat which we knew absolutely nothing about. We had a lot of theories though.
Anchored in Katama Bay, we were off the charts, away from marinas and anyone who would have given us practical advice. Like the charts were way wrong and the outgoing tide was far above the listed 4 knots. And maybe our “chart” should have been more than a fancy waterproof placemat anyway. Or that maybe we should have rigged the boat correctly before trying to motor across to Cape Cod, just in case we had to use the sail. But no, we were alone with just a few clammers fishing the muddy sand at low tide, the sea gulls, our haphazard sailboat, and ignorant bliss.
It was only mid-summer, but we needed to leave the Vineyard early. Time to raise anchor and head up to Maine, literally. Of course, we weren’t crazy enough to sail THAT far. We were going to just putt across Vineyard Sound, pull the boat in Woods Hole, and tow it up to Maine. The crossing is only 8 miles of open water. Heck, you can see the mainland from Martha’s Vineyard. This wasn’t the English Channel. How hard could it be?
I wonder if we even checked the tide chart the day before? I mean, we knew that much. If the tide was low enough, the boat actually ended up grounded. Surely we would have planned ahead to ensure we had sufficient water to begin our journey? Still, we woke up to a thump. A shift in the current had bumped the hull against the quickly approaching sand bottom. Today was the day we were supposed to leave. The Jeep was already waiting in Woods Hole with the trailer. A few hours delay could put us too late to cross and would mean parking tickets. We were out of bed and looking over the side at the disappearing water. Raven pulled the anchors and started the engine while I put in my contact lenses.
Is that when we realized the gas tank wasn’t full? You would have thought we’d check that before we left. Better, before we drove our only method of land transportation off island so that if we’d realized our gas oversight, we would not have had to hitch a ride to a gas station. But no, by the time we hefted the gas tank, realized it was half full, calculated the usage of the 9.9 outboard and figured . . . we could make it, just, we were already underway.
Now, as slightly more cognizant adults, we would have probably realized that two mistakes don’t make a right, the fates were against us, and let’s just try again tomorrow. But in your twenties, you figure you can wing it. Our guardian angels must have never thought they’d manage to get us through to our thirties!
I smoothly motored us out of Katama Bay and by Edgartown. Our thoughts were on the summer, wondering when we’d see the Vineyard again and be able to spend time on our favorite beaches. The fact that we were heading out into the Sound on an outgoing tide racing to meet the Atlantic Ocean with a half tank of gas and broken rigging never entered our heads.
As Oak Bluffs came into view, the white gazebo painted vividly in the sunny field of grass, I did suggest that we could swing into the marina there for gas. But as we’d traveled up the western side of the Vineyard, we hadn’t encountered any problems. We just needed to round the tip, jump across the Sound, dive through the hole in the Elizabethan Islands between Buzzard’s Bay and Vineyard Sound and we could call it good. Why get even more off schedule for a pit stop in Oak Bluffs?
We knew the hole could be tricky. The current funneling between the islands created a wave as the water backed up against the rocky barrier before whipping past and out to sea. Still, things had been going well and we continued past the northern tip of Martha’s Vineyard and pointed the bow directly northeast and into the outgoing tide.
The island had protected us until that moment. But her embrace was now behind us. Our 25-foot boat took the full force of the current directly into her bow. We opened up the 9.9 half way, then three-quarters. The engine strained. The gas gurgled.
The island had also protected us from the wind. Now there was a slight breeze. Boats far ahead of us, almost to the mainland along the ferry route, were heeled over in the wind. We thought we could try the same thing. Raise the sail and motor forward. It would save gas and should work.
Except for that darn busted rigging. Well, the term “jury rigging” was obviously developed on a sailboat. Raven played a rope rerouting dance and we eased back on the throttle. Two things happened. We slipped next to and then a little behind the bell buoy we’d managed to force our way beyond ten minutes before. We weren’t even holding ground. We were losing. And the other thing is the ferry came.
Did I mention that Vineyard Sound can seem as busy as a water expressway? Fishing boats, pleasure boats, Coast Guard, research vessels, commuters, and really big ferry boats all ply the channel. And we were in the middle of the ferry route losing a battle with the tide.
A 25-foot boat feels about the size of a golf ball orbiting the moon next to a car ferry. Plankton had a better chance of fighting the whale about to swallow it than we did of making the ferry move. We just were not going to win that competition even if “vessels under sail” have the right of way. We hauled ass, kicked the motor to full 9.9 horse power and got the heck out of the way.
Which left us on fumes in the middle of the channel. But hey, the sail was raised! We called a boat tow company who offered to come to our aid with a can of gas for a mere $300. We were broke college student twenty-somethings. The offer didn’t feel like a rescue, but more like extortion for idiocy.
We declined and looked at each other as the engine gave a shuddering sputter and the bow threatened to turn to run with the tide. Well, why not? We had the whole arm of the Cape to make landfall. Woods Hole wasn’t the only game in town even if the Jeep was there. And let’s face it, we were never going to make it through the rocks and into Buzzard’s Bay if we couldn’t even beat the tide mid-channel.
We cut the engine and pivoted the boat into the waves. Who needs gas? This was a sailboat after all. Raven took over and angled the boat along the coast, dancing her with the swells. A small group of yacht club kids doing regatta runs made it all look so easy. But by then, we were near the sweep of the cape and protected from the worse of the tide.
Sans engine, Raven sailed up Falmouth Harbor and docked us in front of the gas tank. I was never so happy to be tied to something in my life. We filled the tank, dropped the jury-rigged sail, and motored further east to the Green Pond boat ramp. It was nearly deserted, had a gently angled ramp unlike Woods Hole, and we could take all the time we needed to get situated and pull the boat. Which was good, because Raven had to take a taxi back to Woods Hole to get the trailer and Jeep!
We survived but it was important lesson in how alone you really are, even when surrounded by a sea full of people. No one stopped to help us. Our first reliance was on each other. It took both of us to cross Vineyard Sound. That and an absolute ton of luck!
Explore the best moments, mischief, and mayhem from the adventure travel website No Map Nomads. Whether by boot, by (motor)bike, by boat, or by whatever it takes, Raven and Weifarer will take you along to experience trips from sublime to nearly disastrous. With serendipity tucked into the saddlebags along with some capricious Peligros, every turn leads to the unexpected.
This book includes the complete story arc to Cruise Ship Mutiny, the Cabot Trail on motorcycle, memories of the first motorbike trip to Canada (in October no less), hikes on tropical islands and much more.
Find it on Amazon
It’s been a while since the last time I posted (over 2 weeks if you don’t count Emily Ward taking things over for a day).
“Why?” you might wonder aloud, and rightfully so. “Why would an independent author who relies so much on interaction with people to sell books neglect his blog for an extended period? It says right in the name of the blog: struggling writer. Perhaps this is why, Bruce.”
Perhaps. But I do have an excuse and, in my world, at least, it’s a doozie.
You see, on the 3rd of October, 2012, I lost my job. Suddenly, inexplicably, with no notice or hint, I found myself unemployed. Not laid off. Not downsized. The business didn’t close. No, the owners decided I no longer fit with their plans anymore and cut me a pretty decent cheque to stop working for them. It didn’t just catch me off-guard, but everyone I worked with, especially the dozen or so people who asked me when I’d be getting the general manager’s position when he quit just a few months before.
Now I know conventional wisdom says that I should be all broken up about being “let go”, perhaps take a couple of days off, then beat the pavement to find another job, but I don’t want to live that conventional life. In fact, I haven’t wanted to live it for quite some time. My wife and I (for those of you who don’t know me and haven’t bothered to read the about page, my wife is a bit of a big deal burlesque performer here in Victoria) have been scheming for a while trying to figure out how to get me out of a job and into the things I really want to do. And now it has been thrust upon me. The universe works in mysterious ways.
I’m convinced the owner has had a few moments of ponderment in which he thought to himself “why did I do that again?”. Because the universe made you.
So you’re probably thinking to yourself: “What’s in it for me?” The answer is the same for you as it is for me: more and better. Let me give you some examples:
Over the last 3 days (that’s Fri-Sun as I write this) I wrote over 12500 words on my current work-in-progress. That’s more than I would have written in 3 weeks before the days of miracle and wonder began. That means the first draft of Spirit of the King (Khirro’s Journey Book 2), which I was hoping to finish by mid-November, could be done as early as the end of this week (the end of next at the latest). Finishing that means I can get started on the next Icarus Fell novel (Secrets of the Hanged Man – I’ve been planning), not to mention the YA fantasy I’ve been aching to do, and the fairy story I want to write with my 11-year-old daughter, and the one about the guy with no magic, and…I digress.
Today, I took the day off from writing. I didn’t take the day off, however. Instead, I finished formatting all three of my novels for CreateSpace, so as soon as I can get my cover guy to format the covers for print, they will be available. And I did some research and planning for an erotica website my wife and I want to do. And I researched better ways to promo. And I wrote two blog posts. And I researched how to make my blog and my social media better. I even folded the laundry.
All of this time, all of this focus, means more novels, better posts, higher quality. I can spend time looking for ways to help other people. Things are going to be different around here. It’s good for me and it’s good for you. It all starts with my very next post when I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: review a book. And watch for the name of my blog to change. I’m done with struggling.
So you see, dear friends, the unfortunate incident of me being ‘retired’ is not unfortunate at all. It’s the beginning of something wonderful. Truly, these are the days of miracle and wonder.
The Protectors Blog Tour: Excerpt from Promising Hope
Hey, everyone! I’m Emily, and my YA Epic Fantasy series The Protectors is “touring” around the web right now. I had an excerpt for Promising Hope planned for this stop, and I struggled to find one that didn’t spoil the ending of the first book, Promising Light! I think I found a pretty good one, though.
* * *
Sierra and Evan walked through the castle to the north wing, where the meetings had been taking place. The castle furnishings were colorful and bright. Though most of the decor was saved for the rooms, the various corridors walls had murals painted on the stone walls. The one they walked through to the meeting was covered in a mural of Jolenian history: battle scenes, kings and queens in throne rooms.
When they entered the meeting room, Sierra saw most of the elders sat at the table, save Nilee and Bea. An assortment of other Avialies were present, as well, including Adrian and Caleb.
“Thank you for joining us, Sierra,” Jeshro said. “I thought you might want to be involved in this. At the very least, you should know about it.”
“About what?” Sierra asked. She took her usual spot, the seat to the right of Jeshro, who was at the head of the table. Evan sat next to her.
Jeshro stood up and placed his hands on the table, looking at the others. “Based on the memories we’ve shared with Sierra, we know who cursed the Avialies.”
Someone gasped; the group leaned forward, instantly more intrigued.
“He’s still alive, and we need to prevent the curse from happening again,” Jeshro said. “If the Protectors find out the curse is broken, they may try to contact this Thieran again.”
“Who is it?” Adrian hissed.
“I’ll only reveal his identity to the men who will join the unit to find him.”
“We all will,” Adrian said. He looked around the table, and the men nodded in agreement.
Sierra noticed Lisbeth was the only woman. These men were going to find the Thieran and then what? She considered it for a moment, but after looking at the determined faces, she didn’t have to ask. Her eyes widening, she looked at Evan, who gazed at Jeshro with a grim look.
“I need a definite answer,” Jeshro said. “This unit will be going back into Haltar, where this man lives. They’ll be up against the Protectors, and if anyone is kidnapped. . .well, we can’t let valuable information reach the Protectors.”
Sierra touched Evan’s hand. “Evan,” she whispered.
He made no motion that he even noticed her hand touching him. She gritted her teeth and looked around the table as the men nodded again.
“We’ll do it,” Adrian said.
“Yes, Adrian, I understand you’re willing, but you’re not the spokesperson for everyone here,” Jeshro said. “I need individual vows.”
“Vows that what?” Sierra asked, taking her hand from Evan’s. “That they’ll kill themselves if they’re kidnapped?”
“If that’s what it has to be, then yes,” Jeshro said.
“That’s the only solution you can think of? What about paired Cosa magic?”
Jeshro gave her a smile like she was a child. “That doesn’t work with any two people, and we’d need a fairly strong Cosa to do that.”
“What about Matilda?” Sierra asked.
Jeshro shook his head. “Even if she were able, I wouldn’t ask it of her.”
“But you’d ask your own blood relatives to go on a suicide mission?”
“There’s every chance at succeeding—”
Sierra scoffed. “You think the Protectors are just going to let a group of assassins take out their most powerful Thieran? He’s probably guarded and kept at the palace; he probably has been for years.”
“We’re going to consider everything, Sierra.”
“If you really are, then there’s no need to ask your men to kill themselves if they get taken hostage.”
“That is the extreme. I need to be sure of the fealty of everyone in this room, even in the most extreme circumstances.” Jeshro splayed his hands out in front of him. “Does that please you?”
Sierra gritted her teeth. “I will be pleased when I’m sure you’ve done all you can to protect my husband and the other men here.”
* * *
If you want to read more, be sure to check out the series at Amazon or any other ebook retailer.
This blog tour is about halfway done and we still have tons of fun stuff in store. Tomorrow, I’ll be with Kristen at Seeing Night Reviews where I’ll have one more excerpt of Promising Hope as well as journal entries from the main character. Come visit me!
Oh, and if you missed the last few posts:
Meet the Author
Genre-Bending: If Promising Light Wasn’t Fantasy
My Characters’ Favorite Books
If Promising Light Were Set In Modern Day
Promising Hope’s Book Soundtrack
Promising Light Excerpt
If you’d like a chance to win the books, enter the giveaway here! Here’s what’s up for grabs:
(1) $15 Amazon Gift Card
(5) Protectors Ebook Packages (Shifting Light, Fire and Light, The End of Light, Promising Light, and Promising Hope)
(1) Protectors Paperback Package (Promising Light and Promising Hope)
Also, you can comment on these posts and other stops on the tour or follow blogs participating in the tour to gain more entries! Hope to see you around :)
Emily Ann Ward is the author of Passages, Beyond Home, Finding Fiona, and The Protectors series. One of her first stories featured a young girl whose doll came to life. The rest is history. When it comes to fiction, she writes mainly young adult, contemporary, and fantasy. She also writes nonfiction, ranging from stories of her travels to thoughts on God and the Bible. Aside from writing, she’s also a content editor for Entranced Publishing. She loves reading, traveling, sociology, religion, and Reese’s sticks. Currently, she lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband Chris and their crazy cats. Visit her website at emilyannward.com.
Less than two weeks until the release of Blood of the King (Khirro’s Journey Book 1), so here’s the first sneak peek — Chapter 1. Let me know what you think.
Blood of the King (Khirro’s Journey Book 1)
A kingdom torn by war. A curse whispered by dying lips. A hero born against his will.
Khirro never wanted to be anything more than the farmer he was born to be, but a Shaman’s curse binds him to the fallen king and his life changes forever.
Driven by the Shaman’s dying words, Khirro’s journey pits him against an army of the dead, sends him through haunted lands, and thrusts him into the jaws of beasts he wouldn’t have believed existed. In one hand he carries the Shaman’s enchanted sword, a weapon he can barely use; in the other he holds a vial of the king’s blood, the hope of the kingdom. His destination: the Necromancer’s keep in the cursed land of Lakesh. Only the mysterious outlaw magician can raise the king from the dead to save them all from the undead invasion, but can Khirro live long enough to deliver the vial?
Can a coward save a kingdom?
Excerpt: Blood of the King
Wispy smoke floated across an otherwise unspoiled sky, marring it, capturing his attention, bringing him to focus. He realized there was nothing but sky and the smudge of gray—no smells, no sounds, nothing.
Smells returned first, all of them familiar—dirt and stone and dust, the scents of his life that had always been there.
The farm, then. I’m on the farm.
That didn’t feel right, didn’t explain the streak of smoke. Memories were faint, distant, as though seen through the wrong end of an eyeglass. It couldn’t be the farm, he’d left home months before…but for where?
Sound crept back into Khirro’s world. A man’s voice floated to him on the summer air, then more voices—not shouts of reverie but cries of anger and pain. Like a dam bursting, the clash of metal on metal added to the din.
The sounds jarred Khirro and memories flooded back like the tide filling a hole in the sand. Consciousness slammed down on him, brutal and unflinching. On his left, a sheer stone wall rose thirty feet or more; his right arm dangled over untold nothing. He moved his head to see and pain flooded his body, filling every joint and crevice, leaving no portion free from its touch. Something wet on his forehead and face, the taste of blood on his swollen tongue. The feel of it all filled in the last holes in his recollection: the invasion, the fight on the wall, the king and his men coming to his rescue. He’d tried to fight alongside the elite knights, but he was only a farmer forced to dress up in armor and wear a sword.
There’d be no harvest this year, not for him.
He spat weakly to clear his mouth; bloody saliva ran down his cheek into his ear. Ragged breath caught in his throat as he remembered the warrior breaching the wall, a huge man dressed in closed helm and black chain mail splashed red—paint or blood, Khirro couldn’t tell. The man easily bested him, forced him back until he stumbled over a fallen knight. He recalled the fellow’s pained groan as his foot struck his ribs, then he was tumbling end over end down the stairs, desperate to keep from going over the edge to the courtyard seventy feet below.
So that’s where he was—lying on the first landing, precariously close to death, as King Braymon and his guard defended the fortress from a Kanosee army.
Everything hurt: back, arms and legs, hips. His head pounded. Warm blood oozed down his forehead from above his hairline. His throat worked futilely; it was a struggle to draw breath. Instead of his lungs expanding in his chest, panic grew in their place. He’d survived a bombardment of fireballs and the first Kanosee breach of the fortress wall; how ironic it would be to die falling down the stairs.
When he could breathe again, he gasped air past the bloody taste on his tongue like a man breaking the surface of a lake after a long dive. He took inventory of his body, wiggling his fingers and toes, flexing his muscles. They hurt, every one of them, but they all worked.
What do I do now?
The thought was fuzzy, as though spoken by someone with a mouthful of cotton. Another thought came fast on the heels of the first: The king needs me. Even warriors as fierce as King Braymon of Erechania and his guard couldn’t defeat so many. He wanted to get up and rush to his king’s side, to stand against the enemy, but more than the pains in his body kept him from it.
He thought of Emeline, and of his unborn child. His heart contracted.
Idiot! All you had to do was push over a couple of ladders. What kind of soldier are you?
He was no soldier, that was the answer. Spade and hoe were his tools, horse and plow, not sword and dirk and catapult. But he had a duty, and he’d made a promise to Jowyn before the hellfire claimed his life. Khirro scrambled away from the edge; his head smacked the stone landing sending a fresh jolt of pain through his temples.
I don’t want to end up like Jowyn.
Fighting sounds tumbled over the edge of the walk thirty feet above, carried to Khirro on a hot summer breeze that petered out long before it reached him. The thought of King Braymon and his guards fighting for their lives filled him with guilt. He heard the king’s voice call for aid. Someone answered, far away and small, and Khirro felt relief. The clangs and clatters intensified and the king called out again, but this time his cry cut short. Khirro gasped and held his breath, waiting for a sign of what had happened.
He should be at the king’s side, repelling invaders. He was no one’s equal with a weapon, but another sword was a sword nonetheless. Pain flared as he tensed his muscles and his body tilted dangerously in the direction of the painful death awaiting at the bottom of the wall. He scrambled a few inches away from the edge, sweat beading on his brow, leather breast piece scraping on stone stair. A couple of deep breaths pained his ribs but slowed his racing heart. Part of him wondered if he could just stay there, wait for the battle to end. His sword arm would be of such little use to the king, anyway, perhaps more of a hindrance. Live to fight another day, as the saying went. His father, a lifetime farmer who never hefted a sword, would said that was a coward’s saying. His father still considered himself the best judge of such things, but ever since the accident that cost him his arm, everything Khirro did made him a coward, or useless, or no good.
He wouldn’t prove his father right.
Khirro stared up the wall at the sky, its promise of summer seeming so far away now. He gathered his strength, drew a few short, sharp breaths. The muscles in his shoulders and back bunched painfully. He stopped and released them, allowing his body to go limp again as a figure appeared at the edge of the wall above.
The angle and distance made it difficult to see the man until he leaned forward and peered directly down at Khirro. The black breastplate splashed with red made him unmistakably the same man who nearly killed him. Khirro stared up, mimicking a corpse, as anger filled his chest, partially directed at the invader for his actions, partly at himself for playing the coward his father accused him of being.
The man disappeared from sight, but only long enough for Khirro to release his held breath and half-draw another. When he returned, the Kanosee warrior held a limp form in his arms. Sunlight glinted on steel plate as, impossibly, he hefted the armored body above his head, presenting it to the heavens as if an offering to the Gods.
Something caught the man’s attention and he looked away for a second then hurriedly, ungracefully, heaved the body over the edge.
Time slowed as the limp body twisted through the air toward Khirro. He saw the blood caked on lobstered gauntlets, dents and scuffs on silver plate.,an enameled pattern scrolling across the top of the breastplate. The armor seemed familiar but his pounding head gave no help in recognizing it as the limp form tumbled toward him.
At the last moment, instinct overpowered shock, fear and pain, and Khirro rolled to the right, teetering dangerously on the landing’s edge. The body hit the stone floor beside him.
The slam of armor against stone was nearly deafening, but not loud enough to mask the sickening pop of bones snapping within. The body bounced once and came to rest, some part of it pressed against Khirro’s back, threatening to push him over the precipice. He wriggled painfully away from the edge, pushing against the unmoving body behind him.
The sounds of fighting renewed. Soldiers must have pushed past the burning catapult that had barricaded them, rushing to engage the enemy and save their king.
Where were they five minutes ago?
Khirro put the thought from his mind. He lived, after all; it was more than he could say for the man lying beside him.
Khirro lay still for a minute, unsure what to do. If he stayed put, he’d forfeit his life to a Kanosee sword as surely as if he rejoined the fray. His eyes flickered from the wall walk above to the stairs. He saw no one. If there was a best time to move—to go somewhere, to do something—itwas likely now, while the enemy was freshly engaged. He turned his head, looked at the man lying dead beside him.
The man’s cheek pressed against the stone landing was curiously flat, crushed by the fall. His eyes were closed; blood ran across his closed eyelids from a gash on his clean-shaven scalp. A scrollwork of enameled ivy crawled out from the corner of his silver breastplate and across his epaulet. Khirro stopped breathing.
It was the king dead beside him, the man who had rescued him from the red-splashed Kanosee soldier, leaping into the fight to save a lowly farmer-turned-soldier without regard for his own safety.
The king. The man who ruled the kingdom.
While Khirro had chosen to cower on the landing, struggling to find his courage as others fought for the kingdom, Braymon hadn’t hesitated a second.
And now the king was dead, and there was no one to blame but Khirro.
Guilt stirred his gut. What would this mean to the kingdom? To the war? His head swam. Did this mean he could return home, or would it mean more fighting? He thought of Emeline. It was easy to remember why he hadn’t risen after his fall down the stairs when he thought of her and of the child she carried. He only wanted to return to her, to go back to the farm and live out his life in peace and quiet. If Emeline would have him back.
The clang of steel and the shouts and screams of men fell on him like violent rain. He didn’t know how long he lay there listening and thinking, mourning and celebrating, awash in guilt and remorse and relief when another sound caught his attention. He held his breath.
A footstep on the stair?
His eyes darted toward the stone steps, but he couldn’t see beyond the king’s leg twisted at an unbelievable angle. He dared not turn his head for fear a man clad in a red-splattered breast plate may be leering at him from the stair, waiting for an excuse to fall upon him and finish the job. Thirty seconds crawled by, a minute. Khirro began to think he’d heard his own breath. For a while there was only the sound of fighting, then it came again. Not a footstep, but a groan, small and weak, but close. Khirro waited, listening, hoping. Dreading. Then another sound, a whisper.
Haltingly, Khirro moved his gaze back to the face of his king, the man who saved him, the man who so many years ago, saved the entire kingdom.
He looked into the open eyes of King Braymon.
Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don’t take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.
Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn’t really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the “u” out of words like “colour” and “neighbour” then he does shovelling. The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of burlesque diva Miss Rosie Bitts.
Bruce has been writing since grade school but it wasn’t until five years ago he set his sights on becoming a full-time writer. Since then, his first short story, “Another Man’s Shoes” was published in the Winter 2008 edition of Cemetery Moon, another short, “Yardwork”, was made into a podcast in Oct., 2011 by Pseudopod and his first Icarus Fell novel, “On Unfaithful Wings”, was published to Kindle in Dec., 2011. The second Icarus Fell novel, “All Who Wander Are Lost”, was released in July, 2012, and “Blood of the King”, the first book in the two-part “Khirro’s Journey” epic fantasy, will be released on Sept. 30. He has plans for at least three more Icarus novels, several stand alones, and a possible YA fantasy co-written with his eleven-year-old daughter.
Here I am, taking the last few steps toward the finish line. I’m nearly exhausted, my fingers ache from keystroke after keystroke, but inside me a jubilance builds because I am going to finish.
Along the way, I scoffed at others as they dropped out, or perhaps sat out a portion of the journey on the side of the road as the rest of us passed them, kicking up dust in our wakes. “I don’t have the time for this” they said. I shook my head, pursed my lips and help back my comments only to reach the next milestone, the next week, and nearly give in myself. But I pushed on, driven to make it to the end even when I didn’t feel like continuing with taskmaster Tasha cracking the whip at my back, posting on Facebook to remind me of my assignments. Her steely eyes were always on us, pushing us, encouraging us, keeping us on track, telling us we could do it.
Regular blogging is difficult work. No, let me correct that: GOOD, WORTHWHILE regular blogging is difficult work. because really, what’s the point of blogging if it’s not going to be good and worthwhile? If what you write isn’t interesting to read, what is the point? Would you write a short story about clipping your toenails? A novella about going to the library and reading a book in which nothing other than walking and reading happens? No you wouldn’t and, if you did, no one would take the time to read it. Such is also true about our blogs. There are hundreds of thousands of them out there, more likely millions. So why would anyone read mine?
There are many things I learned during the gruelling enduro race we refer to as the Tasha Turner Coaching Virtual Blog Tour. I learned that all of us Indie authors face time challenges, and that we all want to do our best. I learned that when a group of people who are working toward a similar goal band together (even if the goal is actually an individual one) great things can happen, that all of them can find their success. I learned that Ellie Mack has a unique perspective on how to play 3-on-3 basketball. But most of all, I learned what it takes to be a good blogger. I hope those of you who followed along enjoyed some of what you read and will continue following.
And finally, many thanks to Tasha and her team for this wonderful and well-run opportunity. It was fun and enlightening; make sure you put me on the invite list if you decide to do it again.
A a writer, one of the most difficult tasks we have to perform is surgery. No, we are not removing the odd appendix in our spare time to pay for editing and covers (though that’s not a bad idea), but we are removing scenes that don’t contribute to the greater good of the novel. Most of the time, it’s more painful for us than it is for the novel. This week, author Anjie Haarte shares one of her deletions and why she decided to make the cut.
To Delete or not to Delete
I write by the seat of my pants. Hmmm, didn’t I say that already on this tour? Okay, I promise this post is not about that. Actually, it is about how that sort of writing leads to me using the delete button a lot. I wrote An Unexpected Desire a chapter a week for the story blog. Somewhere along the line, I ended up writing in a scene from “The Vow”, except the character didn’t lose her memory in a car accident; it was choked out of her. Yep, you read right, she was strangulated until oxygen no longer ran to her brain and she went into a coma that caused her to lose a period in her memory. Then she went back with her previous lover, which in that story was the one who used her to get up in her career. Then they whisked off to Trinidad and Tobago where they ended up in a fight that left the main character hanging from the balcony of a hotel on top of the cliff. Here is a look at a piece of that scene:
“Before Fiona realized it, she had been grabbed by her hair and wrenched into the room. She felt her body being swung from the door to the other end of the room as she cried out from the pain of her hair being pulled. Nyasha reached for the bedside lamp and headed towards Fiona who was standing a little way from the glass sliding door of the balcony.
“What are you going to do with that, electrify me?” Fiona asked as Nyasha threw the lamp at her. She ducked to avoid it and moved quickly out the way ending up in the doorway to the balcony. When she rose up she didn’t get enough time to react as Nyasha plunged at her and grabbed her by the neck forcing her to take steps backward. Soon her body was pressing against the rim of the balcony ledge as Nyasha tightened her grip on her throat. Fiona looked into Nyasha’s face and saw her eyes were red with fury and she gritted her teeth as she tried to channel all her strength into the act of strangling Fiona. Fiona reacted by kicking out her knee at Nyasha and in one movement Nyasha bent over to avoid the knee and gave Fiona one hard push against the chest that sent her over the balcony. Fiona quickly grabbed onto the ledge, screaming for her life as she did. Nyasha was thrown back into the balcony colliding into the furniture as Fiona was now hanging from the balcony, with only her fingers grabbing on to the edge.”
Why did I delete those scenes from the novel? Because I wanted it to be a romance novel and that just didn’t seem to fit into anymore. Yes, I went to Trinidad for a weekend and researched exactly where these characters would be staying and what moving around Trinidad is like. I also researched the condition that occurs when lack of oxygen in the brain causes one to lose their memory, it is called: Cerebral Hypoxia.
So, I continued to do my edits along the line of the romance novel, the two women meet, fall in love, deny it, a misunderstanding arise that cause them to face their feelings and in a few more words they are together. But, that doesn’t sit right with me. Sure I want it to be hot and steamy; I want it to show the romance between the characters but can I honestly live with deleting a scene that shows the true intentions of this character. The character continues to tell me that she isn’t the goody goody person I am writing about and that she has ulterior motives and I SHOULD NOT DELETE THEM. What am I to do?
The plot keeps feeling wrong, like it isn’t complete or interesting enough without that cliff hanger scene so I SHOULD NOT DELETE THEM.
So what do I end up doing? Do I delete the scenes because they don’t fall into what a romance novel is about? Or do I keep them and be true to the story?
I guess you’ll have to wait for the book to be released to find out.
Anjie Harrte is a twenty nine year old mother of one who resides in sunny Guyana, South America. Sometime between running a small business, having a full-time job and being a mother and partner she finds time to pursue her passion for creating stories. Anjie dreams up stories of contemporary fiction splashed with some romance, a little dose of murder or an ounce of suspense and sometimes when no one is looking she dashes in a little twist. When she isn’t doing any of that, she is decorating a cake, knitting a chair back or sewing her latest design. Anjie even finds time to lurk around and stalk people and pages on facebook and you too can stalk her if you like at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anjie-Harrte/ or you can follow her on twitter @anjieharrte or keep updated with her writing at http://authoranjieharrte.blogspot.com/