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Thursday, May 14, 2015

DRAGONWAND 2 CANCELLED!! (but it's not over.)

Yes, you heard me right. The Dragonwand series has been cancelled, retired, pulled out of publication. But, wait, don't panic yet. There is better news. Legacy of the Dragowand has been picked up by Cosby Media Productions, in association with Tate Publishing.

Okay, the good news first. Legacy of the Dragonwand has been pulled out of publication on all channels so that the publisher can now re-edit it and re-release it starting all over. This time it will have a fully professional cover, formatting, editing,...basically the whole bag-o-chips. They talked to me about an audio version as well, but that's down the road. The book will be released in Ebook first, then in print. Finally, they believe it would do well as a three part series.

The bad news: For everyone who has picked up and read Part 1, I am sorry to say that you will have to wait longer for the continuation of the story. I know that I put in there that the sequel would be released this coming summer, but that cannot be now that we are in the throes of professionally publishing it.

This is a dream come true. Almost ten years ago I thought my dream had been realized when PublishAmerica picked me up. Had I had the sense to ask the right questions and know the right answers, I would have never signed with them. That is in my own personal history now, I can move forward with CMP. I am very excited about getting this done right this time, and I feel that CMP is very trusthworthy.

Thank you everyone for reading my books, I hope you are ready for the future, it is going to be awesome.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Random art

Happy May everyone. Just thought I'd check in with a few bits of art I have done recently. Enjoy.

Drew that dragon and added my name to create a name plate for my book signing events.

A doodle I created while playing Kismet with the family. 

Just sketching for the heck of it. I started this when a request for this particular model came to me, but I lost contact with the person who requested the picture and so I finished it with my standard Ashinaga face and tail. 

Added mountains to the background to give it depth. Not sure if he'll make it onto a cover or not. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Please read, but I worry you won't.

Here's a long one, but I wanted to say it. I am an author, you should know that by now. What you may not know is what is involved with being an author. Some have kindly picked up my book and some of those have read it. Few of those have left reviews. I get frustrated at that. But, I honestly don't think you know what it takes to be an author. Let me explain:

You start with an idea. That seems simple, but it isn't. Often I get people who aren't authors who explain a basic scenario that has been written a thousand times, or describe a scene with action or humor that would be neat. They explain that this would be the next big hit if only they found time to write it. What they don't understand is the depth of work goes into the thought process before the first keystroke of the story. Is the idea good? Who are the characters that make up the story? Why are they doing what they are doing? Will it make sense? Is it good? How could it end up? (That question will conjure about a thousand responses, but you must focus on the few that will make it a real story and not just an anecdote.)

Next you write. So you have come up with an idea of a story and fleshed out a few of the particulars in your head. You know kind of how you want it to begin. Mind you it probably has already been a while of thinking and pondering before you get here. But here the first work begins. This is the scary yet fun part of it. You dedicate time to write it. For me, that is at least one hour a day. I sit down and write for an hour or more each day. During this time I have to keep extensive notes outside and inside of that writing time. While I am constructing this story I have to keep up with the minor details that could come up later and I don't want to get them wrong. I also will be thinking about the story day and night while I am not writing. I will drift off into daydreams as I consider what scene will happen next, or I will come up with a new idea for something that will help build a character's story. So I scribble these notes down and keep them all around me. For me, at least three months goes into this, night after night I pour into this story. I am with the characters all the time. I dream about them, I talk to them, I hurt for them, I am happy for them. It is hardly different than reality during this time. (No I am not insane, just focused.) Often the story will lead me more than I will lead it and eventually come to its own finale that is far superior to the one that I considered when I originally went through the thinking process. Three solid months (or more) have been spent on a story just scribing the roughest draft of the book.

Next you edit. It is wise to take some time off of the book and let it rest so that you can distance yourself from it and not be influenced by the same vigor that was inside you while you wrote it. Now you have to read it to yourself and catch mistakes. You have to fix any plot holes that you inadvertently left in it. You need to make sure that that half a scene you thought you deleted is truly gone for fear of completely confusing the next editor. This process will often take a month or more just on your own, and that is only the first edit.

Next you get a friendly edit. This is my own process, but I think it wise for others as well. I get my mother or another friend to take a look at it. I don't need a deep critical analysis, just someone to pick out any plot holes I missed, glaring mistakes that I glazed over, and to give me a general review of if it holds water or not. Here is where I get the most info about scenes that make little sense to others that seemed to make sense in my own mind. So I am going back with all of the suggested corrections and putting them in. This involves a lot of scrutinizing of the messy scenes so that I can re-write them to make sense to others. This process can take another three months.

Next you get a basic editor to work on it. Here comes the bleeding on the page. The editor grabs his/her red pen and hits the grammar and spelling mistakes hard. No mercy is shown. They also catch any leftover mistakes in context that can be fixed by a few words. This is where it gets rough on me as the author. This editor will not hold back or be nice, they will tell it like it is. I get back their suggested changes and have to put them in myself. Keep in mind that I can refuse any correction suggestions, I am the author. Though I will most likely accept any technical suggestions. This will take at least three months, more if the editor has other jobs to take care of.

Next comes beta-readers. I call on friends and family to read the three times edited book and give me feedback. They too will find mistakes and offer suggestions. (Yes, even after three edits there will still be mistakes, no one is perfect) Their biggest contribution to the ordeal is pre-review. They tell me if the story is worthy. If the characters are good, the scenes are nicely described, the plot makes sense. It is here that you find out truly if the book is worthy of moving forward or is dead in the water. I take their suggested changes and opinions and look them over. I might have to go into the book and make even more corrections. This can take one to three months.

(It might seem odd to correct something so many times. But I look at it like a bed sheet. Throw it out without any effort and watch it lay on the ground. Then carefully pull, pat, spread, and tug until it is neatly flat and square. It takes time but eventually it will turn out presentable.)

Next comes query. A query is your application to an agent or publisher. Agents represent you to publishers, but some publisher will listen to you without an agent. So you need to grab the attention of one or the other. A query letter is a whole other monster. You have to introduce yourself, describe your book in a short but detailed summary
. Describe yourself and any worthy accomplishments in the publishing world. And then give them the amount of your book they require. (Some will ask for the first three chapters, others will ask for the first page. They only want to examine your style.) You send that off and then wait. More often than not six weeks is the shortest wait time, some go so far as a year. Often they will either send you a form rejection letter or nothing, you get to just assume after so much time has passed they passed on you.

(Note about writing the summery. You have just spent over a year on this book. It has been your baby, your brainchild, you devoted work. It will likely be between 80,000 and 150,000 words. But you have to condense that into a pitch of two to three paragraphs, which must be good enough for them to understand the book, its story, the characters, the feel, and the genre. Authors have given up the craft over the difficulty surrounding this. The most well know, well read pros out there hire others to craft the pitch they put on the book flap or back, because they hate doing it. We amateurs don't have the money, but are required to be no less perfect.)

For me, the next was to self publish. (Got tired of form or silent rejections) This requires the book to be formatted into the file type that will work with Kindle or Nook, or both. That takes a week or two just to get it positioned on the pages right.

After that comes the book cover. I am lucky that I have a bit of talent in art, and so I can draw my own covers. Otherwise it would cost or I would use something that isn't appealing that I just slapped together in paint. My covers can take two months of time to hand draw all the elements and then six to nine hours of time using a program to splice it all together. It still looks amateurish, but passable I guess.

Finally I get to the publishing. In an attempt to succeed you need to throw yourself a big party online to try and generate attention to the book and its author. You get friends to come and celebrate. You publish it and then say your prayers, cross your fingers, and wait to see if it sells.

Oh, wait, there's more. You have to promote. You grab chances to be on other peoples blogs, you pay for ad space on the cheapest sites you can (generally indie authors are the richest folks around.). You annoy your friends on all the social media sites until you feel like a jerk just for bringing your book up. You hand out business cards, write press releases in hopes that a local media outlet will give you five seconds of time, hold books signings wherever they will accept an indie, join countless self-promo groups online, create and manage your own pages, websites, blogs to keep your name fresh. The time spent here is immeasurable. It isn't a thing you can do for five minutes a day and succeed, you have to devote time and effort every day to make it work. Checking on it constantly, being aware of what is being said about you and your work. And even that is hardly a guarantee that it will do any good. You pray for time to write on your other stuff, or edit your other stuff, and if you have family, jobs, church, social activities, anything else, you are really spent.

Now, two years have passed since that first idea floated into your head. You check your numbers each day to find that few have even noticed you are alive and fewer still have bought any books. For those few books that have sold, less than one percent leave a review. You never really know if all of your time, energy, worry, work, and stress has meant a damn thing to anyone. And worse yet, you give some of your friends the book hoping they would enjoy it, but they cannot ever seem to find the time to read it. They act like this is a pass-time, a hobby, something done when you have “down time”. They aren't trying to be mean or cruel, you know that. But, they don't know how much of yourself you donated to the pages of that book so that it could come to life.

Do I hate writing now? No. But I want you to understand that this isn't a hobby, or a pass time, it is a dedicated way of life. Authors are traditionally hermits and/or single (me), but this is not just a personality thing, its a requirement sometimes considering the taxing nature of this beast. If I give you a book, please take time to read it. If you liked it at all, by all means leave a review. Your two minutes spent will help validate the years exhausted in the creation of that book.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cover Elements

Hello everyone, sorry that it has been a while since I posted. I have been busy, sick, a little iced in, and experimenting. "Experimenting?" you say. No, I am not trying out anything illegal. I wanted to see if anyone noticed the blog going silent for a while. Sadly, no one really spoke up. But, after saying something about this experiment a few others encouraged me to keep going. So, here I go.

For my first post in a while I would like to show you the elements of the cover for book 2 of the Legacy of the Dragonwand series. Creating a cover is hard work. Not only do I hand draw all the elements to make the cover. I have to blend them together seamlessly and attractively so that readers are encouraged to pick up the book. Before all that I need to make the decisions about what should and should not be part of the image.

A cover needs to convey mystery and excitement, at least for fantasy adventures I believe that is the case. The cover needs to tell a little story on its own, a sampling of what is inside the book. It should make enough sense for the reader to want to flip the book over and check out the mini-description on the back. (The backside material is a whole other can-o-worms but we won't worry about that just yet.) Last, personally I think a cover needs to be mysterious enough to make the reader wonder what it means, for it should have an deep meaning for the story, but not obvious enough to betray the mystery. The reader should come to a point in the story where they suddenly go "Oh, so THAT's what going on with the cover." To me the same goes for the title of the book and the title of each chapter. It should make sense only when you read further and realize what the title/chapter heading truly means.

That all said, here are the various elements that have gone into the second cover:

I started with the drawing of the dragon head, for the dragon was going to be the central image. I got the drawing done and then colored it a nice red color. I sat back and thought to myself "There aren't any red dragons in your book." I had to start over and give it a golden color, for there just happen to be a golden dragon in the book. So, the golden dragon here is going to be the covers central image.

I wanted to add something simple to the background so that the dragon head was superimposed over another image that fit the book. The characters spend a good amount of time in the Barren Mountains in the book, so I sketched a little line of peaks. I actually went for an "artsy" look. That way they would feel right being background images and not drawing the eye away from the center.


Last I wanted some secondary character images to complete the "story" of the cover. I first drew Treb with his bow out. I like it but it didn't feel like it would work all that well on the cover. He will likely end up inside the book, and will stay black and white. Still wanting another character on the cover I chose to go with the evil King. I drew the king. I separately his crown and then colored both. I think he will work and plan on shrinking him down so that he is more background than up front for the cover, leaving the dragon still the focal point.

I have some ideas about how to combine these images and what to do to make them a cover, but I will wait to show that to you until a later point. For now these remain the "potential" images that will be made into the second books cover. If history has taught me anything about my work its that things change. My first book went through five covers before I finally settled on the one I liked. But, I hope to start this one with a good cover and working hard to those ends is the key to success.

Why do I work so hard to draw my own covers? I have had people ask me this and offer me sites and names of cover artists that would do a fine job. Plain and simple answer; money. I respect why they charge so much, after having done all that I do for my own covers and the pro's do so much more. But, I just don't have the revenue at this time to put into the covers and that leaves it up to me.

Thank you for reading, have a blessed week.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Winter Wizard: Conclusion

Here's the conclusion of the story. Check it out. Also, to help me know if anyone is reading this. Please either comment here or on a link to it posted to Facebook. Let me know that I am actually reaching someone out there. Thanks for reading. Enjoy.
To read the first three segments, click the links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Chris! Chris!” His mothers voice woke him up from his deep sleep. Opening his eyes, he looked around the room to see that he was home.
Mom? Where am I?”
She smiled and laughed, “Honey, you have been asleep all day. Your father is angry with you. You were supposed to go out this morning and get him some wood.”
Chris sat up and felt his head, “I don't feel good.”
She nodded, “You weren't doing well, that's why I let you sleep. You had some kind of fever...or really a negative fever. Your temperature was really low. I guess it's a good thing you didn't go out there. You would've been caught in that freak snow storm.”
Chris stopped holding his head and his eyes bugged out, “Snow storm?”
Yeah. The news says that it's the weirdest weather this state has seen in two hundred years. They've already named it some silly name. I guess mother nature likes to play games. You get some rest and I'll bring you some hot soup.” She left him to lay in his bed.
Chris got out up and walked to the window. Opening it he found she was telling the truth. There was snow and ice all over everything. Could it be true? “Did it really happen?” He asked to no one in particular.
Yes.” the old wizards voice answered.
Chris turned around to see the man sitting in his room. “You.”
It is I, the king of the Wizards of Winter. Or, really, a shadow of my former self.”
So, it all did happen. How did I survive? I thought that crystal would've killed me.”
The wizard smiled and answered, “You were willing to sacrifice yourself to save the world. That was an impressive act.”
I had no other choice. It was all my fault. I released her.”
And your choice would have taken your life. But, I gave you a gift. I turned you into a winter wizard. Giving you my powers and my strength. That way you would survive.”
          Chris looked down at himself, “Me...a wizard?”
I defeated the queen over six thousand years ago and ended the ice age. Since then I have been keeping an eye on her and doing my job.”
"Your job is creating snowflakes?"
The old man laughed, "Not all of them. Winter wizards are artisans, crafting snowflakes is something I love. I can use them to create beautiful winter days, which I offer now and then. My real work has been fixing the damage from the war."
"So, what happened to the Queen?"
The wizard smiled, "She is gone forever. Your warmth killed her."
"My warmth?"
"Yes, the warmth of your spirit. Your willingness to put the worlds welfare above yours was enough to destroy her."
Chris shook his head, "What about that book? It showed..."
"Lies. It was created by her to mislead people.” The wizard looked away for a moment thinking back to the days of the first civilizations, “Back then the people did not know who to trust. Magic folk weren't uncommon, but strange to find around humans. When the lovely Ice Queen revealed her book to the people and implicated my kind against them, we became outlaws.”
So it was just a tool of propaganda.”
Not entirely. She also put into it spells, evil magic. The people weren't merely gullible, the dark magic within its pages corrupts thinking and sows the seeds of distrust and paranoia. She could've used its power to reestablish her own terrible strength."
Chris asked, “What about you?”
As I said, I'm merely a shadow. Once this shadow passes, I will be gone forever. You must be vigilant. The threats to this world are not yet over.”
Chris looked out the window, “Wow. Are you going to teach me how to....” he turned to find that the wizard was gone, his staff resting against the wall where he had been moments ago.
 Chris held the staff and felt the power surging through it. "All that I was, is now yours." The old voice proclaimed and suddenly Chris' room was filled with the snowflakes from the lair below. Chris smiled and pointed the staff toward the window. The gray skies melted away into a beautiful blue.
A new winter wizard was born.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Winter Wizard part 3

The continuing adventure of The Winter Wizrad. For the previous posts, POST 1 POST 2

They got to the top of a hill that over looked part of Gatlinburg. Chris stopped. "Where's my car?"
"Where are you going to take me?" She asked.
Chris realized he was nowhere near where he had parked this morning. “Home. We can figure this out from there. My parents are smart and can help, I am sure.”
No. Please, you must release me now. He will not stop looking for us that easily. If I am not freed, he will kill you and your family to get to me. I pose too great a threat to his plans.”
Okay, how do we free you then?”
The snowflakes are the key. Take them out of the book.”
Chris sat down on the ground and carefully put the crystal down next to the book. He opened the pages and pulled out the two snowflake ornaments. “Alright, I have them.”
The winter magic within them might be enough. Set them on the ground, one on each side of my crystal. Then step back. I will unleash their power and that will set off a chain of events that will release me. Now, get to it.” Her tone was becoming a little agitated.
He almost set them on the ground when he stopped, “Wait. You said that each snowflake contains all the power of a whole winter.”
Yes, that is true. Now set them down.”
Chris still held the snowflakes. “But, if I unleash two of them, won't that cause a double strength winter? That would be...bad. Right?”
Do not worry. I need the energy to rebuild myself. That will draw out enough of the winter magic to contain it from harming the mountains. Now, please hurry! He is bound to find us.”
Chris thought about this for a moment, realizing she knew more than him. If this wasn't a dream, he would be a hero. Leaning down again he set one down and then went to place the other.
STOP!” The booming voice of the wizard called out.
Chris looked up. “Oh great, it's him.”
Hurry, place the last one.”
A blue blast of energy shot the ground near Chris and created an instant ice sculpture. “STOP, Do not release her.”
Chris was frozen in fear. He forced himself to look up and saw not an evil look on the wizards face, but complete fear. “I have to.”
No, do not believe her words. She will destroy us all if you don't stop right now.” The wizard had his staff trained on Chris.
Do not listen to the old fool. He is the one trying to destroy us all. Consider the book, they almost destroyed the world once before, do not allow them to do it again.”
Chris looked up and then made the decision to trust her. He placed the flake on the ground and then braced for the attack that was sure to follow. But the wizard didn't get the chance. As soon as the flake sat next to the crystal, both snowflakes exploded outward with an amazing burst of cold wind and snow that threw Chris and the wizard away. The gray skies turned terribly dark and a thick snow quickly began to fall.
Chris held his arm over his face and forced himself to breathe against the pressures of the winds crashing into his chest. Abruptly the crystal ruptured with a column of blue energy forming a cyclone of snow around it. The snow started to coalesce into a large woman right before his eyes. She was holding her arms out and smiling victoriously. The skies boiled and turned into a hurricane of snow and ice that was already burying the mountain.
The woman laughed loudly and proclaimed, “I've won, old man, I've won! This world is mine to control, mine to turn into a vast ice wasteland. All will perish or bow before me, the Ice Queen!”
It did not take Chris long to realize that the old man had not been lying. She had betrayed him and now unleashed a terrible winter on the world. What could he do now? He was nothing compared to all this force around him, nature itself was turning to her whim. If this were not a terrible and vivid dream, he could be witnessing the end of civilization. And it was all his fault.
Suddenly bright blasts of blue light shot at her, going through the wispy body, but not actually hurting her.
She looked down and sneered at the old wizard. “You fool. It was inevitable that I would defeat you. The humans you protected were the very people who allowed my return. And now I will bring a new ice age to this earth and reign eternal as the Goddess of Ice.”
NOT IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT!” The old man used his staff to shoot over and over again at her in an attempt to destroy her, but she seemed unharmed by his magic.
Oh, how cute, you attempt to use winter magic on the Ice Queen.” she threw both hands forward and the entire blizzard sent him sprawling across and down the hill.
Chris staggered back to his feet, though his strength was nearly spent. “Oh, God, what have I done?”
The woman turned around and looked down at Chris. “You, mortal, you helped me and that will not go without payment. I like the way you cower in fear. Perhaps I will allow you to live to worship me. A gift to you I offer, a subject to the Throne of Ice.”
I...I...” Chris was scared to death and didn't know what to say. He didn't want to be turned into a slave, but what else could he do?
YAH!” She lurched and her translucent arms held her waist. She was losing cohesion and it seemed to cause her pain. There was a hole opening in her abdomen where the snow and magic reforming her body was being drawn away from her.
The old wizard was holding his staff out and forcing the blizzard to act like the winds in the cavern. It was turning her into a snowflake. “Not this day! Not while I live!”
She screamed and held herself as he dissolved her and started a new snowflake at the end of his staff. “You horrid monster! Stop!” she sent a wind to blow him down, but he was braced with a small mound of ice he had created behind his feet.
Your reign of ice ends here! I will not be so lenient this time, I will destroy you as I should have sixty five hundred years ago!”
She doubled over and was fading out of sight. Bringing her hands up, the winds quickly changed direction and threw him forward across the ground. When he seemed vulnerable she moved in for the kill. Rolling over he thrust his staff into her face. The snow flake at it's tip drew her in even quicker. With one hand she picked him, pulling his staff free from her face. “I WILL TAKE YOUR LIFE FROM YOU!”
The wizard gasped as the air was squeezed out of his body. With all the strength he had left he jammed the staff into her hand and started gathering again. Now both magical beings were locked in a combat that could only end with one destroying the other.
What do I do? What do I do?” Chris looked around and saw the crystal he had been holding. It was still on the ground, attached to her by the same blue light that was gathering the snow to reform her body. How could he stop it? How would he destroy it? It was pure cold, he had to make it warm. But, there was no way he could heat it up right here. The only warmth he had was inside him.
Then Chris made the only choice he saw to save the world. He shoved his way through the terrific winter winds and picked up the crystal, put it in his mouth, and swallowed it. The woman vanished instantly which caused the wizard to fall to the ground while storm above calmed down to a basic winter sky. The wizard waved his staff over the snowflakes and they stopped producing the weather.
The wizard rushed to Chris, who was still on the ground. “Boy! Boy! What did you do?”
Chris looked up and wasn't sure what he felt yet. It was cold, but it was hardly more than swallowing a large pill. Then it hit him. His whole body turned blue and glacial. He leaned back and screamed with her voice.
RELEASE ME NOW!” Chris said in her voice.
The wizard put his hands on Chris' face and began to chant a spell.
NO, I WILL NOT BE DESTROYED! NO! AHHH!” She screamed through Chris, “I WILL KILL HIM!” At that Chris shook hard and began to gag, she was killing him from the inside. His eyes rolled back in his head and he fell against the snowy ground writhing in pain as he fought to get any oxygen into his lungs.
The wizard put his hands on Chris' throat and started to chant loudly in a spell. A light blue energy passed from the wizard into Chris and then the wizard fell over and faded away. Chris gagged for a moment longer and then stopped moving as though he had died. All at once an amazing white light burst out of his eyes and mouth and pierced the clouds above, split the remnants of the storm and cleared the skies.

Chris took in a few deep but shaky breathes then passed out.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Winter Wizard part 2

Continued from yesterday, this is part two of four. Check out part 1 if you haven't already.

Chris pulled out the last splinter just as another blast of piercingly cold wind kicked up. “Where is this coming from? That exit must be huge if it is creating a wind tunnel like this.”
The path in the cave turned a bit and Chris came to a sight he had not expected to see. There was a room filled with stuff. Old furniture, lanterns with candles inside, books, and snowflakes. Hundreds of snowflakes were hanging all over the walls of the cave, each one about three inches across and incredibly beautiful. Some looked to be made of crystal while others were metallic with a glittery surface. In the center of the room was an especially beautiful ornament. It really wasn't a snowflake, it looked more like a star.
What is this place?” Chris asked quietly. He walked in and looked closer at several of the snowflakes wondering why they were here and who had brought them inside.
As the frigid wind picked up again he distinctly heard a small, feminine voice say, “Save me.” It almost sounded like the wind sighed out the words.
Who's there?” He asked aloud hoping someone would answer him.
The blue star twinkled a little and he heard it again, “Please help.”
It couldn't be the star itself, that would be crazy. Yet, it mesmerized him. He slowly stepped closer to the hanging star and looked into its glistening surface. It twinkled again as if light was glinting off of it, though there was no direct light source. He looked up to see that this little crystal star was floating in the air.
I must have hit my head and I am dreaming.”
Save me.” that voice begged again.
Chris now stepped back, sure that he had actually landed on his head and this was all a hallucination, or something. “I gotta get out of here.” he looked again to see if he could find an exit, the shadows were even deeper and he saw no way out.
Yet again the wintery winds swept through the cavern and he closed his coat against them. This time, though, he wanted to know where they were going.
Chris followed the winds around a corner and down a narrow part of the cave to a larger room that was spherical in shape. There was a bright bluish light emanating from inside along with a voice. This was not the same voice from before, it was an older mans voice.
Yes, yes, that's it. Winds of winter twist and blow, turn and tumble, snowflake grow.”
Chris slowed down and peeked around the edge of the doorway to see inside the room. What he saw was an old man with a long beard, heavy robes, and a tall crooked staff walking around a stalagmite of rock. At the tip of the stone spear was a snowflake similar to the others. The winds that came into the cave were stronger here, so strong that it made it hard for Chris to breathe. The winds spiraled into the cavern and as they came to the center of the room they began to appear like a wispy blue liquid twisting right above the snowflake. This funnel of cold streamed downward into the small flake and it grew in size.
This can't be real, this just can't be real.” Chris said to himself over and over.
Huh!? Who is there? Show yourself!” The old man heard Chris, which did not seem possible with how small his voice had turned.
Chris was scared, he didn't know why but he ran away from the now approaching old man. Rounding the corner back into the first room, he slunk down to the floor to hide. The old man did not follow him all the way, but stopped just inside the narrow passageway. He heard him say, “Must be my old ears. Oh well.”
Chris' heart pounded and he was on the verge of a nervous break down. “What the hell is going on?”
After a few minutes to be sure the old man returned to that other room, Chris slowly got up and looked around for answers. This was too real to be a dream, at least that was what he thought, and it was too weird to explain. There had to be something around here to make some sense of all of this.
What's this?” Chris saw a book sitting alone on a pedestal. It was bound in leather and had a crystal snowflake embedded into the surface. Right in the middle of the snowflake was a star like the one that floated in the middle of the room.
Opening the cover he came upon pages made up of some kind of parchment. The pages were very light and covered with elaborate paintings of words that were in no language Chris recognized. Not that Chris was a linguist, but he would know if this were Russian or Japanese or something like that. This language was not remotely identifiable.
I can help.” That small, distant voice called out to him.
Chris turned around and looked for who was standing there, but again he found no one else. “Hello?”
Please take me.” The voice was clear but still so shallow that he wasn't certain if he had heard that right.
Chris crept up to the floating star and looked at it again. Was it asking to help him? What could it be? Without another thought, he reached up and grasped the floating star. It was cold, very very cold. But, once it was in his hand, he was able to pull it away from where it was floating.
Thank you.” The voice was now very clear, as though it filled the room, though it was only in his mind.
He turned around once quickly and then looked up, “Uh...hello? Who's there?”
I am sorry to frighten you, but you must help me if we are to stop the winter wizard.” Her voice was soothing and yet commanding.
Chris was so confused that it nearly hurt his brain, “Stop the what?”
Please go to the book and I'll explain.” She told him.
He gulped and walked over to the book and stood there. “Okay?”
Turn to the first page.” The dismembered voice began to read, “Once, a long time ago, the world was a happy place and people were free. The humans and the fairy kind all lived together in harmony. The fairies protected the humans from evil magics. But...please turn the page.”
He turned to the pages with the evil men bringing in cold winds. The voice read on,“The Winter Wizards gathered together and decided to create their own kingdom. They cast a powerful winter spell and turned the world to ice. The humans were nearly wiped out and most of the fairy kind did not survive. Only my people, the ice fairies, were able to survive. We battled the wizards for over three hundred years to end their cold tyranny. That time period was what humans today call the Ice Age. Please turn the page.” He turned to a new page that showed a beautiful fairy woman. “I, the Fairy Queen of Ice, miscalculated the cleverness of the leader of the Winter Wizards and he escaped my sight. He finally confronted me when all our forces had destroyed one another. He confined me within this crystal so he would have no equal to combat with.
In the nineteenth century he began to once again gather the power to create a new ice age. Over the past two hundred years he has been draining winters of their power and turning each into a single flake of snow. Soon he will have enough power to unleash all the winters he has stored up and a new ice age will dawn on the earth. An age that, I fear, my people will not be able to stop.
Chris gasped, “So, global warming....”
There is no such thing. The warmer seasons have been the creation of this winter wizard. We must stop him.”
We? I..I am no wizard...I,” he paused, “Good lord, I am talking to a Christmas tree ornament.”
I am no ornament. I am the Fairy Queen of Ice and you are my only hope.”
Chris decided to make his choice to help “What do I do?”
Find two of the snowflakes and take them.” She commanded.
Chris gulped, looked around and picked out two ornate snowflakes, each flat and ice cold. “Alright, now what?”
You must....” the voice paused.
What? What is it?” Chris asked.
He is coming. We must leave.”
Just then the gruff old voice of the wizard boomed down the corridor, “I HEAR SOMEONE IN MY LAIR!”
Chris started breathing quickly and looking around, “Where do we go?”
Take the book.” she commanded. Grasping the book he placed the snowflakes inside the pages to keep them safe. Once he had it in his arms she said, “I have enough power to send a great wind. Take a deep breath and relax.”
Chris took in a shaky breath and relaxed as much as he could in his current condition. Just as the old wizard came around the corner Chris was sent flying back the way he first arrived by a furious gale of cold air. The old wizard shot out a blast of blue energy where Chris had been, leaving a white icy patch on the wall and part of the pedestal.
The heavy winds carried Chris toward the crack in the ground and then up and out into the daylight. He hit the ground and tumbled over and over, doing his best to keep his arms and hands locked around the book. Once he stopped he was face first on the ground, the book under his chest and the star still firmly held in his hand. He finally gasped in another breath as he rolled over.
Oh my God, how did you do that?” He asked.

No time, we have to move. My powers are very limited inside here. Get to your feet young man. RUN!” Chris ran with all of his might.

Look tomorrow for part 3. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Winter Wizard part 1

I wrote this little short story a few years ago and only a few have read it. Check out the story of the Winter Wizard. Also, if you live in the East Tennessee area right now, don't blame's just a story.


 4500 B.C.
An old wizard in blue robes marched his way through the massive ice fortress. Before him stood the grand doors to the throne room of the queen. With one hefty swing of his magic staff he destroyed the enchantment that protected the doors. Inside was a glorious room built entirely of ice that sparkled like crystals. The wizard carefully stepped in, though the confidence was still shown across his straight shoulders.
A sultry voice echoed around him, “So, it has come to just the two of us.”
The wizard cautiously looked about, “The war is over, you lost. Present yourself.”
What would you do with me? Kill me?”
So many have been lost. Our kinds are all but gone. I promise not to destroy you if you stand before me and bow.”
Just then a very small woman dressed in blue flew toward him. She was carried by majestic crystal like fairy wings. “I WOULD RATHER DIE!” She produced an ray of white light.
The wizard thrust his staff at the light and deflected it, but the impact did throw him down. While on the ground he swung his staff through the air and caused a powerful force of winds to knock her away. She tumbled against a wall and then slid to the ground.
The wizard got to his feet and walked over to her. She was injured, more so than she should be by such a meager attack. Her injuries were deep and built by the years of battle with the winter wizards.
She coughed and then tried to flap her wings, “What now? Are you going to kill me?”
He knelt down and pulled out a star like crystal hanging from a string. Dangling it above her he shook his head. “Not this day.”
Suddenly she realized what he was doing. Her scream was brief and trailed off as nothing but an echo while her whole body was pulled into the crystal. Once she was captured he stood up and looked it, only a glow to show that it was occupied. Her voice came out suddenly, “I will be free of this!”
No. I will see to it that you never see the light of day again.”

6500 years later.
Christopher hiked over the rolling hills of the Smokey mountains while he looked for branches. Well, not just any branches. Some good, gnarly, ugly branches would be best. At least that is what he thought of the wood he was asked to find and bring back. His father was a wood carver who used roots and limbs to craft walking sticks. The sticks were then taken to local fairs and festivals and sold in a booth that showcased all of his various wood carving techniques.
Holding his coat in closer to him, Chris shivered in the cold breezes that cut through the naked trees this time of year. Thanksgiving was just around the corner and then soon it would be Christmas.
It doesn't have the decency to at least snow.” He muttered to himself as he watched his breath fog in front of his face.
In all the years that Chris had been living with his family near the Smokey Mountain National Park he had yet to see a single snowfall before January. He grew up away from these mountains and when he moved here he expected to see at least one white Christmas, but in thirteen years there hadn't even been a hint of snow around the holidays.
The wind picked up and howled through the trees. Christopher tucked both hands hard into the deepest pockets of his oversized coat and tried to keep what little warmth he had in the tips of his fingers from evaporating. “Oh, this is just stupid. It's too cold,” he bemoaned as he got to the last hill he was going to visit today before heading back to a warm house, though his father wouldn't be happy if he didn't find some sticks.
Now would you look at that.” Chris was pleasantly surprised to see a rather large old tree on its side. He had looked at this tree a dozen times and even cut a few old branches off, but now that the tree was laying on its side he could get to all of it. That must have been one heck of a windstorm last night to have knocked this giant over.
Chris carefully skidded down the slope, kicking up rocks and dried grass the whole way. The area wasn't on anyone's farm or inside the park, it was simply alone. Civilization wasn't too far away, at least when it came to these old hills. Why it was not developed or turned into a park a long time ago, Chris never asked.
All of a sudden the winds picked up again and nearly blew him over. They were bitter cold and so sharply raced through the bare branches of the old tree that it was whistling. Chris knelt down and condensed himself as much as he could against this blast of winters hate. “Good Lord, what is going on with the winds today!” He exclaimed. Then he admitted defeat. "That's it, I'm going home. I can come back tomorrow.”
When the winds died down again and he straightened up. Taking one step he felt something odd. The ground sort of sunk down, not just under his foot, but under all of him. The whole area seemed to jostle and move. “Okay, that doesn't feel.....YAAAAAH!” Without warning the ground crumbled right under his feet as a large crack formed in the top of a cavern below. He reached out and grabbed the ragged ends of the trees roots, his palms gathering splinters as he slid down. After what seemed an eternity, Chris got a firm grip on the old root and dangled there.
Oh God, Oh God.” he kept saying over and over, sure that the ground beneath his feet was so far below him that he would die if he let go. Slowly opening his eyes, Chris looked down. To his amazing relief the ground below was flat and only a few inches away from his feet. He let go of the root and dropped down the few inches to land safely.
That was close.” Looking up at the old tree that was now halfway down into the crack that had formed, he realized it probably wouldn't have been fatal if he hadn't caught that tree by the roots but he might have fallen bad enough to injure himself. And in these mountains, who would be walking by to help? “Ow ow ow ow.” He suddenly felt the fact that he had just ground about a dozen splinters into his palms.
While he plucked the splinters out like a poulterer picking pin feathers out of a chicken, he looked around for a way to get out of here. This cavern was not what he expected. The ground was almost like someone had purposefully carved it to be flat. And there was light coming from the other end. There must be a way out. Though the light did seem oddly blue with it being such a gray day outside.

Look for part 2 tomorrow...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Big week, little post

Hey all. I have an exciting week ahead of me. Next Saturday (Feb 7th) I am attending my first book signing for Legacy of the Dragonwand. It will hopefully be the first of many events this year I attend to help grow my brand and really start putting my books and myself out there. I am nervous but very eager. If you live in the White Pine, Morristown, Or just general East Tennessee area, come on out to White Pine Used Books for a multi-author event.

All that said, I wanted to start this month off with a fun post. Just some art I have done recently. Enjoy.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Where's my darn hoverboard?!

Happy 2015 everyone, I can't believe it's here. I remember back when 2015 was science fiction, not reality. Where's my darn hoverboard!

2014 was a good year for my writing. I completed one book, published two, and am preparing four more. I refined and polished a Christian novel, with a lot of help from very good friends. Now that novel is being queried to agents in the hopes of getting into a bigger publishing house.

The big event for me for 2014 was publishing Legacy of the Dragonwand part 1. That book has been several years in the making and I was anxious from the start about putting in the hands of readers. It didn't come out with as big a bang as I had hoped, but it certainly has been moving better than my other works so far. I eagerly await fresh feedback about Dragonwand from readers.

What about 2015? I plan on publishing Legacy of the Dragonwand part 2 this year. I have a little work to go before it's fully ready, formatting, cover art, that kind of stuff. But, it won't be long before the second half of the book is out there and you can find out what happens to Markus, Crystal, Treb and Kiin. I also have the third installment of The Crystal Needle in processing. If I can get it edited in time I hope to have it published by this coming Christmas. I worry that it has been so long since the first and second books came out that the third will be forgotten. But, all I can do is try.

Another new thing for me this year is a bit scary, but an important step. I am going to finally go out and set up in conventions and events to sell my books face to face with the public. I have heard good things about the success in this venture, now it's about time I started doing it myself. I have signed up for two events so far and have two more that look promising. The only hurdle left to worry about is money, and I already have some help within the family on that part.

2015 may not include hovering cars, holographic waiters, or colonies on Mars, but it looks bright and hopeful. I want to make the most of it. I can do nothing about yesterday, I cannot see what is to come tomorrow, so I must make today matter.