Sailors on the Sea

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

For Non Post-Related Questions / Comments

Swords of Fire: Book I

The other day I posted the final Prologue from Book I on SOF - The People ( That Prologue no longer exists in Book I. Book I no longer has a Prologue.

Yesterday I wrote about 'spoilers'. I'm still not entirely sure how I want to proceed, but I think I am going to put something of Book I here. Mostly, it will be synopsis type things, but some of it will be snippets from the actual book.

Today I will begin with the (now departed) Prologue and the (still in place) Interlude I.

The Prologue's original purpose was to set the stage. I include it because it has important information which has yet to be incorporated in the book itself. The Interlude's original purpose was to set the mood. It also provides the key with which to unlock a good portion of what is taking place in Book I. I submitted the first 300 words or so of Interlude I to Evil Editor's blog ( I got around 60 detailed comments on why/how it should be changed. I have made no changes to it at this time. I will mark the end of the Evil Editor submission with "* * *".

So, without further ado, here is Swords of Fire: Book I.


The Great Sea. An ancient artifact of the High King, hanging in darkness for time uncounted. Lifeless, its ring of earth remained coated with a thick, unforgiving layer of ice until the Fire came, slipping into it like a finger into a ring. From the Fire came warmth – and life. The waters teemed with it.

The Great Sea. Playground to the Children of Fire, offspring of the High King’s thought. The Children played upon the waters and drew land from its depths. Life spread from the water to the land, and from the land to the air. All the Sea was covered in life. And the High King made the Free Peoples, beings of limited stature, but possessed with creative thought and power. The land, the air, the water: it would be their own to share.

The Great Sea. Battleground to the Children of Fire, for not all were willing to share. The Sea was ravaged and torn, bringing Death, the last to arrive. The High King stayed the wars of his children, and He bound them to the Sea to repair what they could. But the Sea would be theirs no more. It would be given to the Free Peoples – when they were ready. The sign will be this: One comes, the Madatar, who will have the power of Fire, which is the power of the High King. Thus far he is hidden, and by many Free People forgotten. But the Children of Fire have not forgotten. To the Faithful, Madatar is their own hope of redemption, and they seek to help his rise to power. To the Unwilling, he represents judgment, and they seek his destruction. But he is still hidden.


In the deep darkness he brooded, but it was not the darkness that oppressed him. Indeed, darkness was his ally. Darkness was merely a weapon he used to his advantage. He had long ago learned when the image he had taken was shrouded in darkness the so-called Free People found it even more terrifying to behold than in the light.

He looked at his hand. It was deathly grey. Drawn and haggard, it was still more powerful than any creature on the Sea. Perhaps the dragons had greater physical strength, but they lacked his raw power. His face was a living skull with unblinking eyes and a taught covering pulled and stretched to reveal the form beneath. To those lesser things across the Sea he was seen as the living dead, and all but one would cower before him. This Other, though. Where was he and when would he appear?

Time moved forward. Time was his enemy. He was trapped in time, but to be anywhere else was to risk assault. In Time he would crush his enemy. He would crush all who opposed him. Meanwhile, what was he to do? He lacked advantage. It had been taken from him. Curse Kensington! He had to get it back. How could he gain the advantage over his adversary? Then he felt it! It was the feeling of new inspiration. A plan was forming. With a thought he summoned his servant.

* * *

A smaller entity, also grotesque in its appearance of a shriveled, sickening, yellow-green gnome, came through the shadows to bow in his presence. He was a nearly useless thing, having spent much of his power in the wars of a previous age. He was still strong enough to avoid the Isle of Nether Gloom, though, and so he was useful to communicate with others. No one would pay heed to the small ripples of air this one would make, and his close proximity meant he could be called without using the winds.

“My Lord calls?” Vitchkl asked, the voice a grating whisper, repulsive in its vibrations.

“A plan, Vitchkl. A plan is forming at last.” His own voice was a deep, echoing bass that made things nearby tremble – especially his servant.

“He has shown himself then, Lord Shatahar?”

Shatahar regarded his servant with disdain. “You do not hide your fear well, Vitchkl. But who is it you fear most: him - or me?”

“Surely you, my Lord,” Vitchkl quaked.

“Surely,” he said with sardonic dislike. He did not have time for this. “No. He has not shown himself. But that is all the better for us, for it means he is not ready. He is still preparing. If we act now we can draw him out before he is ready. He will be in our trap.”

“Excellent, Lord! Shall I alert the forces?”

“No. I still do not know where he is, but that no longer matters. I do not need to find him. He will come to me.”

“You are bringing him here?” Vitchkl could not hide his terror.

“Do not be a fool, Vitchkl! He will not be coming here. We will choose a place from which there is no escape. We will lure him there. Then he will be ours.”

“What place shall we choose, my Lord?”

His spirit sighed. What place? Yes, what place should they choose? With another thought an image of the Sea was before them. It was incomplete, though, revealing only what he knew of it. Curse Zenophone as well for his secrets! How was he to find their enemy if he did not have a complete image? Even what he had was not from his Master. He had made this on his own by moving from world to world. That was risky. It was impossible for him to travel and not be noticed. That was the negative side of the terror he projected. But changing form required so much energy, and he needed to save his energy while his enemy remained loose. He did not wish to draw his foe to him on his enemy’s terms, so he was left with limited knowledge. Curse Zenophone!

“We have some knowledge,” he told his servant. “We know his people are here, here and here.”

As he spoke certain worlds were highlighted in bright red, standing out clearly against the blue that represented the ocean. All were on the large side, accompanied by smaller worlds, most of which showed green, forming small girdles around their larger counterparts. Grey areas indicated the Cloud, the barrier that separated worlds. What he did not know was black - most of the map. Vitchkl indicated a fourth world, colored in purple.

“And here, my Lord. He has this small and isolated outpost which sits alone. It is, of course, of no account. And Geomahn is already there.”

“Yes,” he paused and found himself considering this distant, out of the way world floating at the Sea’s edge, with the very small and insignificant outpost. But – was it insignificant? He had never given it great consideration. It was small and certainly no threat. Why should his enemy bother with it when he had great hoards of followers on these other worlds? And, as Vitchkl had indicated, Geomahn was already there, periodically harassing them with the servants he barely controlled. Yet…

“There!” he indicated the small outpost, and suddenly the world upon which it sat glowed a flaming bright red. “That is where we will set the trap.”

“There, my Lord?” Vitchkl’s doubt could not be hidden. “But that outpost is so small. How could be draw him there? And Geomahn is there.”

“Geomahn!” he snorted his contempt. “The lazy fool! Thralls dare call him Warlord. Geomahn is weak and fearful. He remains there to give himself the illusion of power. He has not even rid himself of the small force occupying his very shores. Instead, he contents himself with harassment. But that is just as well, for we shall need that force to draw our enemy to us.”

“You will enlist their aid, my Lord?”

“No, you fool. We will launch an attack on them. We will put such pressure on them they will cry out for help. Then he will come. He will come.”

“For such a small force, my Lord? Surely he would not bother.”

“He will not come for the people, Vitchkl. It is not the people who make this world so important to him. It is what they guard. That is what is precious to him.”

“Kensington’s pillar?”

He flinched at the name. Kensington had been one of the Three, the first of the Children of Fire to come to the Sea. He had been named Lord of the Sea and given its regency. The others had been Draem, who had given her allegiance to Kensington, and Zenophone, his own master. But he did not have time for this. He ignored Vitchkl’s stupidity. “No. The portal.”

“The portal? I do not understand, my Lord.”

“Of course not, Vitchkl. You are a fool. But you serve your master so I tolerate your stupidity. Consider the portal: its direction has never been altered. Look where it leads.”

He focused on one of the worlds in red and its brightness quickly matched that of the outpost’s world.

Vitchkl gasped. “That is true! It leads to their world! You have always believed it would begin there!”

“Yes. I have been taking special care to watch that world. Look! He has three groups there. Three! I bet there is no other place on all the Sea where he has three. How convenient! A distant world, a small outpost, and what does the outpost guard? It guards a portal to the place where he has forces strong enough to inflict great damage to our cause. Why did I not see it before? This outpost is part of his plan! He needs this outpost because he needs this portal. We shall threaten his plans by threatening his portal.”

“And when he comes we shall close the portal!” Vitchkl now had the plan.

“Yes, Vitchkl. We will take the portal and he will be trapped with a small force and there he will die. Send word to Geomahn at once! He must begin an earnest threat against the outpost. We must not delay. Now that we have the advantage we must make full use of it.”

As Vitchkl departed Shatahar caressed the world’s image with great satisfaction. At last he had a plan. He had the advantage. Finally he would win. And with this victory he would become more powerful and be even closer to Zenophone. One day the plan would come which would allow him to rise to the very height.

“Oh, Madatar! You are in trouble now. How will you escape?”

I would be interested in any comments. After all, in my foolish ignorance this was what I once believed would actually be accepted by an agent and, eventually, a publisher. I have since been told this hope was a child's hope and that it is time for me to grow up and write something better. But if you have any comments - bad or good - let me have them.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008


How do you feel about spoilers? You know, when you're told what's going to happen before you get a chance to figure it out for yourself?

For myself, my feelings are mixed. There are certain things which I very much want to know up front - because then I don't want to read/watch/listen to the story. The first book I never finished was The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. It was part of the assigned reading in a Novel class I took in high school. I was at the front of the class with a girl named Rebecka. We read the books in a day or two while the rest of the class got a week, and most failed to complete the reading. Then came The Jungle. I understood from the first what Mr. Sinclair's point was, and that is what caused me more and more unease as the book progressed. Like any book I read I chose two characters with which to identify. If they could surive what was happening then I could read the book. But as I read I began more and more to fear they would not, so I read slower. Rebecka had no problem. She read on and on, so when it came time to discuss portions only she knew what was going on. When she confirmed my worst fears - that my hero character (Jurgis Rudkus) would lose his wife and be eaten by rats, and my heroine (Ona Lukoszaite) would be forced to have sex with her boss in order to keep her job - I was done. I couldn't read about my characters being destroyed. I put the book down and have never picked it up again. That spoiler was good - to me. It spared me the ordeal of having to read it.

I had a similar thing happen when I read J.R.R.Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. There were really only nine characters to choose from as identity characters: the Nine Walkers. And they were all male. I liked Galadriel (I took one of those 'Which LOTR Character are You' tests and found that I am Galadriel. Cool.), but she wasn't in it much. So Gandalf and Legolas became my characters. I know I was supposed to identify with Frodo, or maybe Aragorn, but with the exception of Bilbo and Sam (and Farmer Cotten), Hobbits were annoying, and I just didn't click with Aragorn. Well, of course what happens during The Fellowship of the Ring? Gandalf is lost in the Mines of Moria. Same old same old. True, I had Legolas, but just as Ona was my primary identity character in The Jungle, so was Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. I put the book down and quit reading. Then, after a week, a thought occured to me. Unlike The Jungle, Lord of the Rings was not about realism. The ideas and messages were real, but the manner in which those ideas and messages were being communicated was fantasy. What if Gandalf wasn't really dead? The book hadn't explicitly said so, had it? It just said he fell. He was a wizard. Maybe, he didn't die! So I grabbed Return of the King and began flipping through pages until I saw his name associated with dialog. I confirmed the dialog was taking place later than the Mines of Moria incident and put Return of the King down. I picked up Fellowship of the Ring and began reading where I left off. My primary character was coming back. That was all I needed to go on.

Spoilers can help me, because when I involve myself in a story I so identify with one or two characters that I cannot bear to have them destroyed. No matter what the story is telling me, and no matter how much I have enjoyed it to that point, once my main characters are gone, I feel I have been taken out of the story. It no longer holds any meaning for me and I no longer take any message from it. That's just the way it is. I'm sorry.

However, that does not mean Main Characters can never be destroyed. I don't always identify with the Main Character. Many times I find the Main Character annoying, and I will choose a minor character - with character - as my identity focus. If that character survives, grows, what have you, I don't really care what happens to the Main Character.

That's why I liked the movie, The Poseidon Adventure. All of my characters survived. I had no doubt from the beginning that Gene Hackman's character would die at the end. Shelly Winters, too. So I didn't bother to identify with either of them, although Shelly Winters made that difficult. No, it wasn't a great movie, but Shelly Winters could act. But I loved the kids, Pamela Sue Martin and Eric Shea. I figured the little boy would survive, but I wasn't sure about his sister. Then there was Red Buttons, who I've liked in everything he's been in. I didn't want him dying. And finally, there was the very vulnerable Carol Lynley who, because she was so vulnerable, became my primary character. Oh, and don't make fun of me - and Ernest Borgnine. He was vulnerable, too, but in a different kind of way. We saw it at the end, and he actually was the one who made me feel like crying (good crying). If they could survive, it didn't matter what happened to the others. So, bad as the movie was, my characters suriving made it a good movie for me.

So, why all of the rambling, bambling about spoilers, books not finished, bad movies and such?

I'm considering making a series of posts in which I present the synopsis to Book I. If I do, then anyone who reads it would have significant events 'spoiled' before actually reading the book.

So what do you think? Is it a good idea, or am I just succumbing to the fear Book I (and Swords of Fire in general) will never be published anyway?

Should I just hold off?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Something Good Someplace Else

Writtenwyrdd has a YouTube link which I think is just great.

I'm listening to the Allman Brothers' Jessica right now.

Progress Report

Well, the good news is that I completed the first pass at reducing Book I's wordlength. That was back on Christmas Day, and I tooted my horn in celebration then. I dropped it by about the amount I originally estimated, which is both good band bad. (Good because my prognostication ability seems to be intact. Bad because, after getting into it, I began to believe I might actually accomplish the entire word reduction in a single pass. What a fool I am.)

The bad news is that I have not even begun the next pass. I've tried. I even have something started - kind of. That's one of the things which depresses me: starting over. Going back to the beginning seems to be a recurring theme with this book, and it's wearing on me. I read on someone else's blog how they spent a certain amount of time writing their book, then edited it in about a month, and now it's ready to be submitted. I spend about a month - or two - writing my books, then spend years editing them. No wonder I can't get published. I've got everything backwards.

The real problem is in the writing. Actually, I think it's less about writing and more about presentation. I think I tell a good story. Most of the people who have read it have actually been engaged by it. But it's kind of like making a spaghetti sauce. Nearly every cook has their own recipe, and nearly every recipe tastes well enough. But the truly successful cooks, The Chefs, really know how to make a spaghetti sauce. They are the ones who get the cooking shows where they use a skillet which costs more than all the cookware in my house put together. They use the fancy - and pure - ingredients which I couldn't afford on a bet, and often cannot even find. They talk about their sauces in terms I don't even understand. And they get paid!

Me? My spaghetti sauce is made from Hunts Tomato Sauce and Paste. I use powdered garlic and Kraft grated parmesian. I use onion flakes instead of fresh onions because I hate the taste and smell of onion (but recognize it has some value). None of my ingredients are nearly as fresh as those used on cooking shows. And yet even people who are not keen on spaghetti or lasagne have asked for seconds. But then, it's free, isn't it?

My writing is kind of like that, I suppose. Free, it suits well enough. But if people are going to spend their hard-earned coin, they want the good stuff. The trouble is, I've never much been good with fresh ingredients. I don't even know how to get the garlic out of the seed. Pity. I like garlic.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Technology: Friend and Foe Combined

Technology. We've made it our master. Sometimes it seems a pity. Other times it's quite the blessing.

It is technology which allows me to make this post where (theoretically) people from around the world can read it within seconds after I PUBLISH POST. Actually, there are a few who pass through this site from time to time and I am very grateful for their visits. Which brings me to another positive of technology: I'm meeting wonderful people from around the world - and none of us has to leave home.

All the same, there are times when I feel like grabbing an old baseball bat and smashing some of my technology: the computer in particular. When I turn it on, or have to reboot (at least once each day), it will be five minutes or more before the thing is ready to receive my commands. I remember twenty years ago working with an old XT with a text monitor. It booted in about a minute. Now, with a computer 100x faster, it takes longer to boot, longer to do the tasks I want it to, and it locks up just all the time. Why? Because there is so much going on which I have not told it to do that there is very little processing time left to me.

Back in 2000, Spouse and I bought a new car. It has electric windows - which we cannot use right now because there was an ice storm and the windows are frozen shut. (At least they're shut and not open.) When the weather gets cold the dashboard lights tell me the antilock breaks are off line. I don't know if they are off, or if the cold is just saying they are. But since I don't know I have to assume I no longer have antilock breaks. I drive a '92 Eclipse. It has a nice hatch, which will only stay open if I use a prop. Been that way for more than ten years.

But it's computers that really drive me crazy.

Some years ago I spent several hundred dollars on movie software. Son was playing basketball and we were filming his games. I installed it and started to add music and running scores. Fine and wonderful. Now it doesn't work. Nothing's changed - except it doesn't work. Crap! I try to load it and it locks up the entire machine. It reminds me of something a programmer showed me back in '91: a booked titled, The Tao of Programming. In it there is an amazingly accurate observation: software rots with age.

I can really relate to Ron Weasley (from the Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling) when he asked the question, "Why is everything I own rubbish?"

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Not Every Mood is Blue

Last Saturday I expounded on the Moody Blues and the impact their music has had on the things I write about. Much of their music has a haunting quality which inspires me to dream of green hills with low valleys touched in fog and rivers flowing sure and swift. Birds are in the air. Perhaps a deer wanders by. It is peaceful. Even meloncholy.

But that's not the only music I listen to, as evidenced by today's song: Under My Wheels, by Alice Cooper.

I was never much of an Alice Cooper follower, but he he was dominant during my teenage years and had lots of songs play over my favorite radio stations. Stephen loved Alice Cooper - and Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and - the Moody Blues. Stephen bought all of their albums, hoping I would join him in his rapturous love affair with music. I did love music - as much or more as Stephen - but the Moody Blues were the only group I wholeheartedly gave myself to. Still, when he drove me around in his mother's car he had the radio tuned where his music was going to be played, and so I heard them.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd or any of the others. It's just that they had a lot more songs I didn't like than I did. But when I did like them, I really liked them. That's the case with today's song.

One reason for my not getting into certain groups and artists like Stephen did was that I not only seldom knew the name of songs I liked, I virtually never knew the artists. I've got a song playing on YouTube now I listened to for years before I knew the artist or the title. Jessica, by the Allman Brothers.

I like at least two songs by Jethro Tull: Bungle in the Jungle and Living in the Past. I like at least one by Lynyrd Skynyrd: Free Bird, and one by Aerosmith: Free Bird. These are what I call Songs of Power. They fill me with energy, and I use them to write battle scenes, personal confrontations and things like that.

Music means so much to me. When I was young I would put my transister radio under my pillow and sleep with the music going all night. Gayanne hated it that I did that. She would often drain, or even remove, the batteries from my radio. When I left home I thought those problems were all behind me, and they were - until I got married. Spouse likes music, but not during the night. We argued, off and on, about going to bed with music - until I eventually lost. Spouse offered to compromise by letting me put the music on 'sleep' mode, in which it would turn itself off after a period of time. But Spouse's idea of a sufficient amount of time was like ten minutes. Mine was like ten hours. I toss and turn all through the night, waking at least a dozen times. Been that way since I was young. It's comforting to wake to music. Maybe that's why I so often find myself getting up in the middle of the night and spending two to six hours reading, writing or just playing at the computer.

Meanwhile, it's back to music. U2. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

I have, but I haven't. Do you know what I mean?

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Enchanters

Have you ever started a story, put it aside for a few years, come back to it and wondered, "What the hell is this about?" That's the case of this story: The Enchanters.

According to the timestamp the last time I wrote anything was back in '91. And considering there are less than 1,000 words it is quite likely that is the only time I wrote anything. Here is the opening sentence:

In the twelfth moon of the seventh year of the Age of Enlightenment, Zibrokage, the evil sorcerer of the Maskon Hills of Darkness, was vanquished by the combined might of his enemies.

Okay. What do I know from this?

1. Time appears to be measured in 'moons'. This is consistent with a lot of my ideas.
2. Blocks of years are given names.
3. There was/is an evil sorcerer named Zibrokage who lived/ruled in a place called Maskon Hills of Darkness.
4. Zibrokage had enemies who joined together to defeat him.
5. Zibrokage is said to have been 'vanquished', not 'killed'.

The second paragraph goes on to explain just how Zibrokage's enemies were able to defeat him. I am going to paraphrase because the writing is too embarassing to reveal.

1. They combined their powers and encircled Zibrokage with an array of magic which drew him into himself until he took on the form of a bright jewel. (sounds like a genie in a bottle)
2. They were victorious, but unable to completely destroy Zibrokage. (of course not)
3. The jewel contained life, but was not alive, and so could not be killed. (oh, isn't this great stuff)
4. It had form, but had ultimately become formless, and so could not be undone. (better and better - I think I'm beginning to see why this was abandoned)
5. Evil was contained. (right)
6. To protect the world from resurgence, the vanquishers hid the jewel in the Maskon Hills of Darkness where it could no longer feed upon the power of the sun. (and of course no one is going to go there and find it, are they)

The third paragraph seems to conclude some kind of prologue.

After the departure of Zibrokage, the powers formed a Council of Unity to watch and protect the world. They gathered those servants of Zibrokage who refused to yield to the new order and dissolved their strength, casting them to the winds. And the world knew peace. But that was long ago.

Apparently, we now have enough to go on. Added to what we already knew, this is what we have been told.

6. Zibrokage's enemies have formed a Council of Unity.
7. The Council of Unity's purpose is apparently to act as warders, or guards.
8. Zibrokage's allies have been captured and 'dissolved' - cast to the winds. This sounds like dying to me.
9. "But that was long ago." The implication is that things are about to change - for the worst.

As the actual story begins we are introduced to three characters: Jubal-Kai, who appears to be the Main Character (MC), or at least the Point of View (POV); Adon-Loy, who may be the Sidekick; and Cheska-Di, an incredibly old character who appears to be near the end of his years.

We also learn that we are in a new age: the fifth moon of the second year of the Age of Expansion. The sense is that a great deal of time has passed, but it is not explicitly stated. For all I know each 'age' only lasted seven years. The text doesn't say and I don't remember.

Cheska-Di belongs to the Council of Unity. Jubal-Kai and Adon-Loy are said to be 'new to the Council', suggesting they are novices. The text speaks of the Council's Hierarchy of Decision and how Jubal-Kai has the potential to one day belong to it - after he has 'developed his natural power and acquired others'. Adon-Loy is said to not have this potential.

We learn something new about time measurement. When Cheska-Di asked Jubal-Kai how long he has been with them (Council of Unity), Jubal-Kai answers, "The moon has come and gone eighteen times, and the sun of the east has appeared twice." Adon-Loy responds to the same question with, "I have seen the two suns of the east, but the moons have been fewer."

So, not only does the moon appear nine times for each appearance of the sun, but the sun's coming and going does not appear be measured in a few hours. Except I forget the qualifier: "of the east". There may be more than one sun. One may govern day and night, allowing plants and animals to function within what we consider normal parameters. A second sun (and maybe there are more) may rise and set at a much slower pace. It would need to be far enough way to not significantly interfere with the natural order of flora and fauna.

The last thing the written text provides is a vague rundown of the kind of beings these Enchanters were. It is done through a brief description of Cheska-Di.

It was hard for Jubal not to tremble, for he paled in both power and stature to Cheska-Di. Cheska-Di was a massive thing in the form of a man. At one time he had been a man, probably not much bigger than Jubal-Kai was now. But the accumulation of power and knowledge grew within him until his form was stretched. His skin, once dark like Jubal's, was now white beyond imagination. This was the truest sign that Cheska-Di's time was fast coming to an end. His body was stretched beyond its limit. Soon he would take the long walk to the fortress heights and cast himself to the winds. This would disperse his power and knowledge over the world, and it would settle upon many and begin the process over again.

Some new concepts. Physical size is affected by both strength and knowledge, suggesting both are physical. At some point in the learning process, Enchanters ceased to be human. Death can be accomplished voluntarilly by somehow 'casting oneself to the winds'. (Remember that this was how Zibrokage's followers died - albeit not voluntarily.) Knowledge and power remain after an Enchanter dies. It will fall randomly. Apparently, this is one way for Jubal-Kai to acquire other power.

That is all there is. Unlike reviewing other things I began and abandoned, this did not spark much in my memory, reinforcing my belief that this was one of those One Day visions I had. Cheska-Di will probably die sometime within the story - just when Jubal-Kai really needs him. That Zikbrokage will be released from his prison seems certain. How it was to be contrived, I do not know. The most likely scenario is that some new Enchanter has become greedy for power. It may even be Adon-Loy or Jubal-Kai. My memory is blank on this, although I don't think it would be Jubal-Kai. My guess is that I never got to the new 'evil' character. I think Jubal-Kai and Adon-Loy are the heroes. This is because of something I just realized I forgot to include in this post: their specific powers.

"You, Jubal-Kai, what is your power?"

Jubal spoke proudly. "I have the power to contain power. I can close upon any power and render it useless."

"And to what extent does your power work?"

"I can only contain one power at a time. My power fades with my strength."

Cheska-Di nodded his head. Jubal had not told him anything he did not already know. In fact, Cheska-Di knew far more about Jubal's power than Jubal did himself.

"You, Adan-Loy, what is your power?"

"I have the power to dissolve power. I can render a single formidable power into lesser pieces."

"And to what extent does your power work?"

"The power must be contained

The text finishes mid-sentence in Adon-Loy's reply. But considering the two powers' complimentary nature, I am guessing it was my plan that they work in unison to defeat Zikbrokage, or whoever the Antagonist turned out to be.

Some interesting concepts, more about world building than actual story content. It's clear I got bored early. The Muse wasn't interested in helping on this one. I have hundreds of these. Some are no more than a title. Others got a page or two, and a couple almost developed. They are like the seeds cast in Jesus' parable. Titles are germs on the rocky path. Things like this are in shallow, sandy soil. I guess that's why I like The Great Sea and Swords of Fire so much. That was a seed which fell on the 'good soil'. Now I must tend the field and hope for a bountiful crop.

Have a good day.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


I just fall in love again when someone produces a song which touches the very core of my heart. I don't think there is any other song which so speaks to me as this one. The haunting melody and the power of the words cut through every wall and barrier I have built. Believe. It's at the core of everything I struggle with. To believe is to be young. That's what Jesus was talking about when he told us to "have the faith of a little child." I need to be young. To believe in hope.

And Josh Groban has the perfect voice to deliver it.

I hope you like it, too.

Progress Report

Merry Christmas!

Hope you have had good food, good family/friends and good presents.

We haven't had the food yet (in about two hours), but we've had the other.

We were going to bring my mother here, but she called and said she would have to come another day. She suggested we invite her and Judayl over next weekend. Then we don't have to drive to get her. I guess that's what we're going to do.

Spouse, Son and I shared nice gifts with each other. We did quantity instead of quality this year. Nothing cost much, but the fun of sharing so many presents with each other more than made up for quality. Son gave hugs and kisses as The First Presents of Christmas 2008. Even he got teary. He's playing Christmas Music on his tuba right now. Spouse is pestering him about playing family games. I am here waiting for that to be resolved.

I got an expected Christmas Gift today: The first pass of word reduction on Book I is complete. I didn't get near so many words chopped as I hoped. I'm going to have to give it another go. But something is done!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This is for anyone who wishes to post a question/comment to me, but not to a specific post.
Merry Christmas!

May God bless you and keep you safe. May this be a day of comfort and joy.

Thank you for your support.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Why I Write

NOTE: After finishing this post, I realized was writing for Wednesday. But, as this post fits neither Tuesday or Wednesday's topic that's okay, isn't it?

NOTE2: Just realized I forgot to put a title on this post.

There are lots of stories in my head. They began arriving as early as when I was five years old. Some time in first or second grade I began to write some of them. Most, like now, remain in my head, swimming about like primordal elements awaiting the spark of life.

In the beginning I wrote for me. What I wrote made me feel happy - or sad - because that was how I wanted to feel, and the words at the time achieve the purpose. There was no editing at the beginning. I wrote stories, but after the fiasco of that read to my mother and sisters (see posting on Dec 17), I ceased to share them. They were mine, for me to enjoy.

As I progressed through school I would be given various writing assignments. Continue the stories were a big thing in grade school. I had mixed feelings about those. Writing what I thought should happen was cool, but I wanted to know what the original Author had intended. It annoyed me that the original endings were never revealed. I suppose they never existed.

I recall writing a Ghost Mystery when I was in fourth grade. It may have been a Halloween writing assignment. My classmates all wrote one to three pages. My story had ten chapters, each about a page or two long. Mrs. St. John gave me an "A". Possibly because of the effort and possibly because she had come to like me. Anyway, when she handed back the assignments she had me read mine before the entire class. She must have talked it up in the teachers' lounge for the next thing I knew I was on a school tour, reading my story to other classes. Most of the students were into my reading (you can tell by looking at the eyes), but some were bored. This was especially so with older students in fifth and sixth grade. I think they resented the attention I was getting.

In Junior High my writing took a bit of a twisted turn. I began making my classmates characters in my stories - using their real names. What is more, everybody was an idiot! Including me.

Some did not like this at all - and they suffered for it in my writing. I, in turn, suffered through the loss of their friendship. Others thought it was hysterical, and I developed new friendships. My female friendships suffered more than my male friendships. Debbie, Patricia, Bonnie and Sherri liked their starring roles. But Violet, Susan and the others did not. Melvin, Donald and Jeff encouraged me to write more and more and more. Tim did, too. Dan and Tom didn't dislike it. They just found it dull.

I began writing in play format. Nearly everything was dialoge, with a few stage directions to keep things on pace. Mystery and crime were still the order of the day. (All fantasy writing was hidden.) What I recall is Myra's reaction when I let her read what I had written about her. Myra was a sweet, sweet girl and I expect she grew up to become quite a lady. She was a pretty girl, too, adored by the boys, and for that reason I made her role a bit risque. She was the hero's sidekick, and they had been captured. The duo were to be put to slow death by the villain. His means? They would have to watch a film on the science of how plants grow until dead. (Funny stuff when you're a kid.) They were tied up in a compromising position. I gave it to Myra with trepidation. I didn't want to lose her friendship.

Myra returned it to me at lunch. She was laughing. What she particularly liked was the scene which I just described. When the hero began crying out in horror, I had Myra saying, "Oh, stop it! These are just the cartoons before the feature." Myra was prim, but she had a sense of humor.

So what has all of this got to do with my writing Swords of Fire? To be honest, I'm not sure I know. It's just something I was thinking about. Back then, writing for an audience was easy. The work didn't have to be particularly good, and it seldom was. But we enjoyed it. At least some of my classmates and friends enjoyed being part of someone else's creative process. I think it was kind of like starring in a movie for them. They felt famous - within our small community. For me, it was a release. I was writing. I was telling stories. And people were happy because of it!

Maybe that's why I've been thinking so much about my youth of late. There was a time, albeit long ago, when, for a short while, I actually did achieve my purpose in life. I made people happy. Would that I could touch that moment again.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Progress Report

I reached my goal of reducing through Chapter Sixteen. I'm actually into Chapter Seventeen. However, the amount of actual words dropped is pretty scant. True, I am into the smallest chapters in the entire book, but I was hoping for more. At one time the forcast was for over 50,000 words dropped by the end. The new forcast is around 45,000.

Another thing I can hardly boast about is the time I've spent dropping words. For a while, I was spending several hours each day. This past week I was down to about an hour. I've spent more time writing my blogs - and visiting others' blogs.

It's like this when I write, too. As I near the end I slow down, as if the ending were something to dread instead of looking forward to. This time that is certainly true. When I finish reducing this thing to whatever I do I have a new daunting task set before me: Rewrite it. I don't look forward to that. I'm not even sure I'm qualified. Oh, I can tell the story. Ain't nobody more qualified to do that than me. But this rewrite isn't about telling the story. It's about presenting the story in a manner acceptable to agents and editors. I've never succeeded in doing that. Ever.

Well, that's another task. Another day. What did Jesus say?

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34 NKJV

This week's goal is to finish. Press on, Bevie. Press on.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holidays - They Ain't What They Used to Be

In A Christmas Story, Jean Shepherd tells us that Christmas is the "one day of the year around which the all of kiddom revolved." That it was. I liked it better than my birthday. I got better presents. And more.

Back in those days any present worth more than three bucks was a doosey. Most were under a dollar. My parents had seven children. They could buy for the lot of us and not spend $100. And yet we all had many wonderful presents under the tree. I recently heard on the news that this year most people expect to spend less than $600. You're damn right we do! We've gone back to the old way of doing things. We might get as many as fifteen or twenty presents under the tree - and still not spend $100.

As years went by and we all got older, presents became more expensive. We had fewer and fewer, but they were better and better. Mostly. I don't know what it was that really made Christmas special. I don't think it was just presents. I would hate to think that's all it was for me. But it might have been. I was just a kid, remember.


Spouse and I were cautious about buying presents for each other before we were married. We only had one Christmas before we got married. We got each other bowling balls. Isn't that romantic? But we weren't sure about each other then. Within the year we were. (smiles)

Like many young newlywed couples we bought each other a variety of interesting presents, designed to encourage cooperative play. (grin) Christmas was still something to look forward to. Sigh.

Somewhere along the way things changed. Silk and lace panties were replaced by oversized cotton briefs. Body gel gave way to shaving cream - scented. Sweet smelling packages no longer contained purfume and cologne. Instead, the prize was mint creams and cashew nuts. Promises of, "we'll discuss this later - in bed", were given the proviso, "if we're still awake and if we still feel like it".

Of course, I let Spouse listen to a post on FairyHedgeHog's blog ( today. That got a smile out of Spouse. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I just may unpack the silk and lace panties, the body gel and the purfume and cologne. Oh, and the Viagra. (smiles)

If Spouse reads this I am dead - dead - dead. What I wrote about when I was young was true. But, regarding Spouse and me, I kind of - exaggerated our history. (everything past ***) Just a little. I like to tease Spouse. Just to get a rise. You know? (grin)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Moody Blues

I think the Moody Blues are my favorite band of all time. Yes, I grew up with the Beatles. And I watched the Monkees on television. And the Beach Boys were supposed to be America's answer to the Beatles. And let's not forget the Grateful Dead and their Deadheads, or Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones.

There's quite a long list of rock bands which have influenced me considerably. Some are quite famous. Others are perhaps less well known. I liked Susan Jacks and the Poppy Family. I liked the Cowsills, the Supremes, the Carpenters, the Platters, the Byrds, the Association and the New Christy Minstrels. And a host of sole and duet acts. And then there are the Country artists, the crooners, classical music and even children's songs.

But no band, soloist, folk group or what have you, captures my imagination like the Moody Blues. They generate a sound which inspires me to creative work. This is especially so after Justin Hayward and John Lodge joined. They made the sound complete.

Amazingly, I find there are Moody Blues songs I have yet to hear. I only recently learned of The Actor, which is a great song. A good number of their songs inspire me to write Swords of Fire, but some go beyond and touch others areas. Here is a list of some of their songs which I know. I'm amazed at how many they have I don't know.

Actor, the
And the Tide Rushes In *
Are You Sitting Comfortably ***

Balance, the *
Dawning is the Day
Dear Diary

Don't You Feel Small
Dream, the
For My Lady ***

Gemini Dream
Have You Heard Pts 1 and 2 ***
How Is It (we are here)

I Know You're Out There Somewhere
I'm Just a Singer (in a rock 'n roll band) ***
In the Beginning

Isn't Life Strange
It's Up to You
Late Lament

Lazy Day
Legend of a Mind
Lovely to See You

Melancholy Man
Minstrel's Song
Never Comes the Day *

Nights in White Satin
Other Side of Life

Ride My See-Saw *
Send Me No Wine
So Deep Within You

Story in Your Eyes ***
To Share Our Love
Tortoise and the Hare

Tuesday Afternoon
Voice, the
Voyage, the

Your Wildest Dreams *

Quite a list. I have most of them, but not all.

*** = top five
* = next five

Friday, December 19, 2008

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is another of my unfinished works. It dates back to at least 1992, although it may be older than that. I can't remember. It's been a long time since I looked at it. The concept was simple: There is a place wherein animals rule and people are conspicuously absent. The animals are all intelligent, self-aware and can talk. They also have their own government. There are places where animals from this world can reach the Animal Kingdom, and vice versa. In fact, certain crimes in the Animal Kingdom are punishable by banishment to our world.

The story I began follows Sparks, a German Shepherd dog assigned to the Special Agent Task Force (law enforcement), during an investigation of a murder. (A swine has been brutally murdered near the border with cats - lions, tigers, panthers.) Against orders from Eschae, who rules the kingdom, Sparks enlists the aid of Casper, a Black Panther (an actual cat, not a member of a 1960s civil rights organization) who is also a member of the Special Agent Task Force. The assumption is one of the predator animals has violated kingdom law and killed for food. The law states that predators are required to leave Animal Kingdom to do their hunting. Sparks can't believe it and seeks the evidence he needs to aquit the predators before Eschae is forced to order all predators out of the Animal Kingdom - which would include Sparks.

There is quite a series of odd characters, including: Quintas the Crow, who acts as an informer; Mairden, the Musk Ox, who is Chief Inspector; Lita, the sexy Poodle; Kudi, the old Goat; Sgt. Muffle and the Hounds; and Maden and the Rat Patrol. There are others, too.

I thought I had written quite a bit, but I've only been able to find about 2,000 words. At least it's the beginning. Here, for your amusement, is Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom

by Bevie James

"Inhabitants of the Kingdom are being slaughtered! What are you doing about it?"

That was how Eschae, the Kingdom Mare, greeted me. I had been summoned to the slender bay’s stall without being told why. I still didn't know.

"I'm sorry, Miss Mare. I don't know anything about a slaughter."

"I thought not!" she said, angrily stomping her foot and swishing her tail. "What is the bother of having a Special Agent Task Force if they’re clueless? This is the worst disaster the Kingdom has ever faced! You’re supposed to be my top agent, Sparks."

If you've ever been called before your boss for something which wasn't your fault you understand how I felt. While I was officially listed as the Agency's top agent, I was not its chief inspector. That was Mairden. But Mairden was a Musk Ox, and they had yet to return from winter migration. I wished German Shepherds migrated.

"Have there been many incidents?" I asked.

I said the wrong thing.

"Many? I don't care if it's only one! One is too many!" she said.

"How many have there been?" I repeated.


(This ends the portion which was edited. The rest is all rough draft.)

Well, that was something of a relief. It's hard to be in the right place to stop the first one. But Eschae was a good mare, and she cared for the Kingdom and its inhabitants. Still, one was a far cry from a crime rampage. Perhaps this could be dealt with quickly.

"Where was the incident?" I asked.

"To the north. In the area of the Hogs. Mazink found the remains of one his nephews. He immediately contacted one of Bescha's Pigeons who came to me. I, of course, sent her on to you. That was two days ago."

"Yes. I came as fast as I could. But it will be nearly two more days before I can get up there. And we'd better send a Pigeon to find Casper. I may need his help."

Eschae paused uncomfortably. She gave me a side look and turned to look out over the Great Lake.

"Maybe you should do this one alone, Sparks," she said.

I felt a chill, and I became uneasy. She was leading up to something. Something she was loth to say.

"But the Hogs area is so close to the Panthers. I think Casper can be of help. If you don't want him on this case, why did you summon me? You must have known he would be my first choice as a partner."

While Casper tended to be unorthodox in his methods, he was the best partner I had ever worked with. I believed I could trust him with my life. In fact, he had proven himself worthy to the Kingdom on several occasions. So why would be he left out now when we were faced with the biggest crises ever?

"I summonded you because I need my best agent on this one."

She began pacing again, but avoiding my eyes. As if meeting their gaze would catch her in some guilt.

"Sparks, you know how most of the Kingdom feels about allowing predators in?"

"They're somewhat nervous. I know that."

Eschae's whinny was as grim as joyful. And this time she looked me full in the face. "Nervous? Sparks, some are out and out terrified. Outside the Kingdom, these very same predators are killing their kind. In the outside world, they are food for the predators."

"But we are not in the outside world, Miss Mare," I said. "And all predators have taken the oath to leave the Kingdom to do their hunting. Some have even taken to restricting their diet to fruits and grasses. And that is a great sacrifice."

"I am aware of the sacrifices of the predators," she said. "But, Sparks, some just do not believe an oath can change a behavior pattern that has been inbred and ingrained since birth. They are the minority, I assure you. But minority or not, their concerns are my concerns. It is my duty as Mare to keep the Kingdom's inhabitants safe from harm. Especially when that harm comes from other inhabitants."

"There is already a restriction on how many predators can be admitted to the kingdom," I said. "And they have been consigned to the southeast where they can come and go from the kingdom without being seen by the others."

"Yet there are still areas where the two kinds abut each other. One of those is the Hogs and the Panthers."

She stopped her speech and just looked at me. There was sorrow in her eyes. Yet there was something else. An unspoken message."

"Are you saying it was a Panther who killed Mazink's nephew?"

"That is what Mazink is saying. And guessing I would send for you, he has explicitly stated he does not want Casper to be part of this investigation."

Now it was my turn to get angry. Even if Mazink's suspicions were true, that was no reason to punish the entire cat kingdom. And Casper was my friend.

"Just who is Mare of the kingdom? You or Mazink?" I allowed my tone to be harsh. Ordinarilly, when a Dog used such a tone, Horses, Cattle and nearly everything else would quail and run. But Eschae knew me well enough to take it in stride. Also, she had not been made Mare for being an idiot.

"Sometimes I wonder," she sighed. "Being Mare isn't like what you might think. To be a good leader, one must serve the Kingdom. And that kind of makes everyone else my boss. The rules of office frequently restrict me from enjoying the things I might otherwise enjoy. They prevent me from holding to positions I might otherwise hold. And they force me to make decisions I would not otherwise make."

"Then you are ordering me not to take Casper as my partner?"

"I'm sorry," she said, and I knew she meant it.

Now it was my turn to sigh. Were the Mare anyone but Eschae, I might be tempted to think she was succumbing to political pressure. Spring was nearly over and summer always seemed short. And come fall, it would be time to elect a new Mare. Or reelect the existing one.

"Very well. I will not ask Casper to be my partner," I said, and I turned to leave.

"Who will you take?" she called after me.

"I don't know. For now, I'll go alone. I want to see what is what."

"Take care, Sparks. I fear we may have bigger problems than a single murder. If one of our predators has gone awry, the Kingdom could be split along species lines. We can't let that happen. We'll lose everything. Everyone will."

"I know," I said, and left. But as I ran, her self-spoken words followed the wind to my ears.

"Sometimes I wish I were pulling a plow in Kansas."

- - - - -

The area where the Hogs lived was beyond the Great Lake to the northeast. It was situated in a tight area between the Northern Lakes and above the forest line. If I ran all day and all night and again all day, I just might make it by evening the following night. But I would be exhausted and require rest. And if there was a crazy Panther roaming the land, I would be doing myself no favor by wearing myself out. I was good. But I would have no chance against a Panther when the fight was on his terms. Actually, not even if the fight were on my terms. But I hated to admit that.

The safest route would be to follow the eastern shore of the Great Lake, cross the Lateral River and head straight north to Northern Lake One. I could then come into the Hog lands from the west. But I had already lost two days and was destined to lose two more. I needed a more direct approach. And that meant going right through the Land of Cats.

Eschae would no doubt be alerting other law enforcement agents around the kingdom via the Pigeon Grapevine as it was called. But the real danger was here in the north central region of the Kingdom. This was where the crime had taken place.

As I worked my way north I hoped I would 'accidentally' stumble upon Casper. Perhaps that was why I had chosen the direct route. But the odds of meeting one specific Black Panther by chance was beyond the realm of probability. Mostly what I saw were birds and squirrels. They regarded me with some interest, but kept to themselves.

Yet as the sun stood directly overhead, I began to hear the whisperings in the trees. Word of the murder was at last spreading south. And now they all knew why I was here. Which meant the murderer might also know I was on my way. But that would depend on whether any blabbermouth bird told him.

I took a rest about midafternoon in an apple orchard. It was cool and quiet and there were plenty of apples on the ground. This was by divine providence. To help deter the sort of crime I was now on my way to investigate, the Founders had planted fruit trees which bore their produce all year around in the eastern lands where the predators had been consigned. I lay down and began to take my fill of the juicy red apples.

"Well, lookie here! A hound dog with an apple in its mouth!"

I looked up to see a large black Crow sitting in the branches over my head. His laughing caws over his own joke filled the air.

"I am not a hound dog, Quintas. I'm a German Shepherd," I said.

"It's machs nichts to me," he said. "But it's interesting to see that prejudice exists within the predator species as well as without it."

"I did not say or imply there was anything wrong with being a Hound Dog," I began, but he continued his speech.

"But it could have been worse. I could have mistaken you for a Hog with an apple in his mouth. Then it would have been difficult to tell whether you were simply eating dinner, or whether you were dinner."

His words and their abrupt ending caught me. I did not especially care to be baited, but I understood the reason. Perhaps were our positions reversed, I would be no different. But I liked to believe I would be.

"I take it you have heard about the incident up north?" I asked, and he laughed.

"Oh yeah! I heard all right. By now, everyone must have heard. One of you high and mighty Lords of the Jungle got hungry and decided that grass and fruit just didn't do it for him anymore. So he decided to have himself a pork rind."

"That is yet to be determined," I said.

"Oh come on! Who do you think did it? A Tweety Bird?"

"At this time, I don't know! And neither do you!"

"You padfoots all stick together, don't you? When a bird chooses to hang around an area for any length of time because it's a nice area, how long is it before the Hawks and Eagles are summoned to drive him away because he happens to have bowels? But ho! Let a big cat come along and chew up a hog and justice just doesn't seem to move so fast anymore."

"We're doing what we can, Quintas!"

"Of course you are, Sparks. Laying about eating apples when the murder is already two days old. Just gathering food for thought, eh? What does it matter that the trail is cold and getting colder? I know! You're just waiting here hoping that cat will come to his senses and walk up to you and turn himself in? You're right, Sparks. You ain't no Hound. You're a cur

(And there it ends. Sorry. I'm sure I wrote more. I have vague recollections of Casper arriving and Sparks and him talking over the case. If I ever find it - or rewrite this - I'll give it a post.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

From Novice to Master - It's a Long Road

I do not have anything out for review right now, so I guess that makes today a Free Topic Day. So here is my topic.

Do you know what I wish? I wish I could paint, or at least draw artistically to my satisfaction. About ten years ago I stumbled upon a website dedicated to artists ( Some of the art is so fantastic it takes one's breath away. Some of it is done by newcomers, still learning their craft. The artwork tends mostly to the fantasy genre, which is how I was able to find it. Since I first found it they have added written work, recognizing that writers are also developing an artistic craft. I have not put anything up to Elfwood at this time. I may. I don't know. Probably not for a while anyway. I've got to give Critters ( a go first.

The art of drawing/painting is similar to the art of writing, I think. The entire life cycle can be seen at Elfwood. There are young beginners of twelve, or maybe even younger. There is also talent developed to an amazing degree.

It is easy to find fault in a novice's work. Especially when comparing it to a master's. What is sometimes less obvious (because of the mistakes) is an artist's potential. It's the same with writing. I look at things I wrote back in the 70s, or even the 80s, and I am embarrassed. I shouldn't be. It's part of the process. In order to write well, one must first write poorly. Why? Because no one begins by writing like a master, anymore than they begin drawing like one.

I caught the end of a television program - I don't know what it was - in which a guy was being interviewed because he had written a book about The Great Masters of history. I don't know if he had a special area of concern. He mentioned the Beatles, Mozart and a few other people in literature and such. He said something I found most interesting. When the interviewer made mention that Mozart was writing music at a very young age, the guy quickly added that none of Mozart's great works was done until he was a man. It took Mozart nearly twenty years of practice before he finally got it. He pointed out that the Beatles spent months playing eight hours a day, every day, to audiences in a German strip club before they finally gelled and became the influence they did.

His point was that nobody just "comes from nowhere". Every great master in every area first went through an arduous learning process. Some moved faster through it than others, but they all had to start at the beginning and move forward. Some were quite horrible in their formative stages. We learn through failure more than success. (That's why I know so much. grin)

I don't know where I am on the path between Novice and Master. I don't even know which point is closer to me. They are so far apart, and the road is not straight. There are hills and valleys and mountains and lakes and rivers to cross. Sometimes it is a weary road to walk. Other times it's like a race track.

And I want to draw? And play music? (There was a time when I used to play the harp - I love the harp. Like a fool I sold it in order to get money to go to school and become something totally unfulfilling. Now I try to play bass.) What am I thinking? I have shed a bazillion tears over my writing. (So have some others who have had to read it.) The desire to be a Master is there. But it is so frustrating to stumble. Am I really ready to add drawing to my path? Or music? Why not? Like I wrote some place on one of my blogs: dreams are alive, and to nurture one is to spawn others. The rizones of my writing have sprouted new dreams. I am an old fool who will never learn the lesson my family fought to teach me all my life: dreams can't happen. Yes, they can. Can't they?

I would much rather dream about flying an airplane than learn how to fly - author: annonymous.

Not any more. I'm tired of that kind of life. I want to live.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What is All This Writing Teaching Me

That writing is hard.

I've always known that. Writing became part of my life very early. My older sisters taught me to read before I was five, and I was entralled by the magical world of stories. Aunt Cile (Lucille) would read to me whenever she visited, or we both were at Grandma's house at the same time. It didn't take long before I wanted to add my stories to the magnificent works of Mother Goose and Grimm.

My grandmother had boxes of books in her attic, and every so often we (my sisters and I) would be allowed to go up and see all the amazing things that grownups keep in attics. Gayanne and I liked the books. All of them were from the early 1900s. Eventually, Gayanne would inherit a lot of them. They would later be lost when the house burned.

For some reason, I can still remember reading a book titled, Just Patty. I did an internet search just now and find it was written by Jean Webster back in 1911. I don't remember much about it anymore, and I am even more amazed that I read it. It wasn't the kind of story I wold normally read. If I recall correctly, it was about a girl going to a boarding school, or college. I think they put the entire book on a website ( if you're interested.

I wanted to write something like that, and so I gave it a go. Needless to say, I wasn't able to pull it off, and my mother and siblings laughed and made fun of me for trying. Cile like it. (But then I could have drawn a big "X" on a piece of paper and Cile would have told me I was brilliant. I was Cile's favorite. big smile) I could tell Grandmother didn't think it was good, even if she didn't say so, but Grandmother told me to keep writing. Grandmother loved to write. Some of her things got published, too - in local newspapers and magazines.

Over the years I have written dozens upon dozens of things. Several million words - at least. Sometimes I read what I have written and cry, "That's crap!" Other times I let others tell me.

But I have written things that are good. I know I have.

After my father went to heaven I wrote a poem expressing how I felt. I showed it to my German teacher (she wasn't German, she taught German). She said it was nice. I went home and read it over and over again. I didn't want it to be "nice". So I altered it. I brought it back to Mrs. Elizilar. She cried (I assume because it was moving and not because it was that bad). She asked if she could keep it. I gave it to her without thinking. Now I don't have it, and right now I think I would very much like to read it again. Whatever.

Around the same time my Geography teacher gave what I considered to be a stupid writing assignment. To show my disdain I write a very satiracle account of an expedition up the Congo River in Africa. It was in diary form. Everybody died. Mr. Clargen, knowing my motive, read it to the entire class, finishing with, "I honestly don't know what grade to give this." The class voted for an "A", which surprised me as they had figured out it was me to had written it. Mr. Clargen refused to return my assignment, so I don't know what grade he did eventually give. But that he kept it told me I had been successful in my intent. And that's what writing is about.

As a writer I have an intent when I write. I am attempting to generate some kind of feeling or response through the written word, as opposed to the five senses. Yes, the eyes or ears are used to read/hear what I have written, but it is what happens in thought which is important.

Regarding Swords of Fire, and what I have written, does the reader care about Khirsha? What about Kelso? There was a time nobody liked him, and it was important he be likeable. And what of Tavaar? Spouse doesn't like her. I don't think my sister, Judayl, does either. But they haven't read the backstory (about 500,000 words). Tavaar is one of my most favorite characters in Swords of Fire. She is brilliant. She is beautiful. She is strong. She is a warrior. She cares about people and things. And life keeps kicking her in the face - because she refuses to give up.

As a writer, it is not enough for me to know my story. I have to communicate it to others, and that is not easy. But I have a burning desire to succeed in the effort. I guess that's why I accept criticism. It hurts, and I will cry sometimes. But I don't cry because I think I'm being 'picked on', although that used to happen on occassion. I cry because I have failed to communicate what is important to me, and now I have to try again. Sometimes it is hard to know what to try. But I remember my Grandmother telling me to write. And the last time I saw Stephen he gave me an admonission: Don't quit writing, Bevie. Don't ever quit writing. And remember your friends.

I remember, Stephen. I remember.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What is Interesting? What is Not?

The answer to that question is as varied as the people who populate the Earth, I think. I've read books I thought to be just fantastic, only to hear others complain how they were bored and had to put them down unfinished. Then there are the books I get in which I wonder how they ever got published. That they are is proof enough that someone believed in them. (That I bought them is proof enough that faith was well-founded - in my case anyway.)

Some people find it impossible to get into a story if the writing isn't up to par. Sloppy writing can make enjoying a story difficult. And if the writing is completely gone off, particularly with spelling errors, following a story simply can't be done. I've never been overly concerned with the quality of the writing. I care about the story. Does the story matter? Do the characters mean anything to me? I have read - and enjoyed - stories which were not written well at all. Same with movies, television and music.

I suppose the argument can be made that good writing will produce a good story with characters who matter. Not necessarily, although it certainly helps. There is more than one work considered by experts to be classic by reason of the great writing which I would not read for money. I look at the story and characters and say: Who gives a damn? And I don't always see the difference between the writing of the classics and other works which are just as popular, but not considered classic. It makes me wonder if the definition of good writing and classic literature is closely tied to one's interest in the story.

I supposed I'm sounding like I don't believe in good writing. Not true. If one wants to be published one had better write well - certainly better than I do right now. But writing well does not mean one has an interesting story. And story is what I care about. Fortunately for others, what I care about doesn't really matter.

So what has that got to do with anything?

It has to do with Swords of Fire in general, and Pawns in particular. Pawns has to be interesting. It also has to be written well. Right now, I'm hard pressed to find anyone who thinks Pawns is written well. As to interesting, I think it's fantastic, but what do I know besides what I like?

I hear or read about this book or that being so great, and how I just have to get a copy and read it. I used to take heed and rush out to see for myself. Most of the time I came to the conclusion the book was crap. The problem is, I don't care how well you make the onion soup. I don't like the taste of onions. You made a fantastic new coffee? Good for you. I don't drink coffee. You make a great goulash? Wonderful! I love goulash. Except. What the hell is this? Why is there celery in the goulash? You ruined it, you fool! (I actually know people who love celery in goulash.) I add fennel to mine. Spouse is not keen on fennel, so I have to use it sparsely (or not at all) or spouse won't eat it. I've gotten so I don't make it anymore. Sigh. I love that goulash. Damn! I just made myself hungry and the sun isn't even up.

So it is with my book. I like it - a lot. I feed upon the story and devour every word. But I'm afraid Spouse isn't the only one who doesn't like fennel. And if I have to take it out, what's the point of making it?


A Tentative Schedule

Monday - Progress Report
Where am I with regard to the Current Book

Tuesday - Thoughts About Writing
I was going to be profound, but let's be real

Wednesday - What Am I Learning
What can I take from what I am doing

Thursday - Work Sent Out For Review
Respondes to my submissions

Friday - Other Works of Fantasy
Some of my other fantasy writing

Saturday - The Impact of Music
How music has influenced what I write

Sunday - Venting
My 'morbid' time. A safe compromise, I think