PTP: Setting Sunburst Chapter 3

Chapter 3  (Narrated by Tyman

Raval was a small village, little bigger than the one on this plateau. It was on the southern edge of the Grand Region of the Solarian Empire. Low, fertile plans, carpeted in golden grain, eventually gave way to an uninhabited forest. The only reason Raval hosted an Imperial Garrison was to ensure that bandits, thieves, or other unsavoury characters did not make their homes in the woods. We were a single squad of Imperial Lance, twenty strong. I was just a lancer, then. We patrolled the region on horseback, ensuring the years of security continued.

Raval had been the retirement post of Captain Ellen of House Risald, a minor noblewoman who had been far better suited to military life than politics. She had spent the last thirty years doing her duty diligently, and we considered it an honour to serve under her. She collected her yearly stipend, drilled her soldiers well enough, and enjoyed the rest her long career had earned her. When she passed quietly in her sleep, two years earlier, all of Raval had been concerned about her replacement.

Word eventually came that a young nobleman, just out of the Officers Academy would be sent. Captain Gabriel of House Durihan, from the Lacrean District, would be coming to assume the vacant post.

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“Wait a moment,” Kalis interrupted Tyman, “I’m not familiar with your districts. I’ve never been that deep into Solaria.”

“Districts are basically the countries that once were,” Tyman said softly. His voice was high, and a touch reedy. “Grand Region was Solaria before the Empire. Lympia, to the east, is now the Lympian Region, and they’re usually lost in the bottom of a bottle. Lacrean Region was once Dulac, and they’re a touch barbaric. Gyptia was the home of the First Dynasty, but they became more concern with Deos fanatics than earthly politics and lost their Empire for it.”

“So Durihan was a barbarian?”

“That’s what we were expecting. Bad manners, short temper, poor hygiene, basically as un-Solarian as you can get.”

Kalis did not mention he wasn’t Solarian. He held back his short temper and Tyman continued.

********************************************

A week before we expected him, Nodim, one of our outriders, spotted a rider wearing the blue and gold of the Imperial Lance was seen heading towards the village. We assumed it was an aide sent ahead. We were expecting a large train to carry the possessions of the young noble to arrive later. Sergeant Fesril, the highest ranking member of the squad, took the half-squad on duty, and we rode out to meet the rider.

Fesril was a career soldier. He had joined the Lance as a young man, and had served in half the Regions of the Empire. When his dark hair had turned grey, and his stocky frame had begun to stiffen, he had returned to his home in Raval, and served as Captain Risald’s second. His stern face cracked easily into a smile, and he was like a father to most of us.

His jaw dropped when he saw the Captain’s bars on the rider’s livery. The man had come with nothing more than basic kit, as if he was riding into battle, not to one of the safest posts in the Empire.

Captain Gabriel Durihan was tall, half a head over most men. He was muscular without being bulky. His dark hair was shaggy, clipped just above his eyes. He had a careful, close shave. He seemed to be enjoying the scenery when the Sergeant approached. “Captain Durihan?”

“Oh, hi,” he said, smiling at the old soldier.

“You’re much earlier than we expected.”

“Is that a problem, Sergeant…?”

“No, sir.”

“I meant, what’s your name, Sergeant?”

“Oh, Fesril, sir.”

“Alright Fesrilsir, show me what you’ve got so far.”

“No, sir. I meant, my name is Fesril … sir.”

Captain Durihan laughed. “I know, Sergeant Fesril. It was a joke.”

“Oh. Okay, sir.”

Fesril led the captain into town, uneasy and uncertain. Humour amongst the nobility often had a cruel bend, and he was concerned for the soldiers he considered to be under his concern. He led Durihan through the town, to the modest home next to the garrison’s barracks. “As we’re a single squad, we don’t really have standard officer’s quarters. Captain Risald had this house built, so it falls to you.” He dismounted and headed to the front door.

The captain looked at Fesril strangely when the older man knocked on the door. They waited in awkward silence until the door swung slowly open. A frail looking man in his mid seventies answered the door. “Gerald Risald,” Fesril said slowly, “This is Captain Gabriel Durihan. He is here a bit earlier than we expected.” Gerald nodded solemnly, sucking in his thin lip.

“Gerald,” Gabriel said quickly, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, but I need a moment to talk to the Sergeant. Stay here, alright?” Without waiting for a response, he grabbed Fesril by the upper arm and walked around the waiting horses. We formed up to create a barrier between them and Gerald. “Fesril, who is that?”

“Gerald is the late Captain’s husband. He was the householder, but now that she’s gone, he’ll be heading to live with his family.”

“And he’s not from around here, is he?”

“Well, he’s lived here for so long he might as well be. But no, his family is it Gyptia. It’s not a major concern. He is of noble blood so…”

“Not a big deal? I bet he doesn’t know anyone there. What are you thinking, Sergeant?” Gabriel headed back to Gerald, leaving Fesril stunned behind the horses.

“Gerald, I understand this house is meant to be officer quarters?”

“Yes sir,” he answered softly.

“Well, I’m a little concerned about these men and women. They may have had it soft for years. I think it’s probably best if I’m in the barracks with them, to keep an eye on them. Many officers visit this garrison, in your time?”

“Not often, no. Maybe every few years.”

“Well, I can’t see much use for this home beyond billeting them, not for a while. You’re welcome to stay here until you’ve made arrangements to travel to Gyptia. Shame, though. I’ll need to hire someone to keep it ready, just in case we have a surprise visitor. A steward of sorts, someone with good taste and breeding, to keep the place in a state acceptable for noble visitors.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Gerald, you’re not a soldier, are you?”

“No, sir.”

“Then, please, call me Gabriel.”

“Thanks, Gabriel.”

Gabriel remounted, and Fesril led him towards the stable at the back of the barracks. They consisted of two long buildings, one with a mess hall, an armory, and stables, the other a bunk hall. Tall, narrow oak buildings with tiny high windows designed to let archers shoot out, but not great at letting light in. Candle smoke clung to the rafters, and we were rarely inside when we had a chance to be elsewhere. At the stable, the captain started unsaddling his own horse, and said softly to Fesril “Next time you want to kick an old man out of his home, don’t do it in my name, alright Sergeant?”

The next morning, I was up with the sun, but the new captian was already gone. I asked Marin, who was just coming off of watch. “Left, just before first light,” she grinned. “He took Nodim, and a full load of supplies. Apparently he wanted the best rider to show him the edges of his responsibility.”

“He plans to keep up with Nodim?” Nodim was constantly grinning, mostly because he loved nothing more than riding. He lived on the back of his horse, and the position of outrider brought him constant joy. We weren’t sure if he could walk half a mile, but not one of us doubted he could ride three days straight.

Most of us could ride the Ravel Garrison’s district in five days, four hard riding. Nodim’s best time was three, and none of us could keep up. When we saw them on the horizon at sunset three days later, we were astonished. Gabriel rode into the stable, and Fesril came up to him. “Everything alright sir?”

“Fine, corporal. That little guy is one hell of a rider, eh? I’m headed to bed. Exhausted.”

Nodim joined us at supper, grinning as ever. “He told me to try and lose him. I did my best.” He laughed as he shook his head. “Couple times I nearly did. He’s on a good horse, and he wanted it.” From that day forward, you didn’t mock the captain in Nodim’s presence. He wouldn’t stand for it.

We expected it to take a day or two before he was back on his feet, but he joined us the next morning for breakfast. We were all rather quiet as he sat down in our midst, as Captain Risald never ate with us. We kept our eyes on our meals, waiting for him, not sure what he wanted. “Everything fine?” he said to me.

“Yes sir.” He asked me my name, and I gave it. Then he asked why we were all so quiet. “Worried, sir.”

“Why’s that, Tyman?”

“We’re hoping you’re not in a bad mood.”

He laughed. “Why would I be?”

“Aren’t you sore, sir?’

“Hell yes,” he laughed. “Nodim can ride, eh?” He elbowed the lancer next to him, who cracked a smile. “There we go. It’s breakfast, not a funeral. You any good at sparring, Tyman?”

“I’m alright, sir, but if you want to test yourself, you’ll want to try Denma.”

Denma felt I needed kicked under the table, and made sure I didn’t wait too long for one. She was sitting beside me, and she tried to hide her crimson face behind her thick hair. “I’m going to take a stab in the dark here,” Captain Durian smiled, “But would you be Denma?”

“Yes, sir,” she said to her oatmeal.

“Well, after we eat, show me what you’ve got.”

“I … I wouldn’t want to hurt you sir.”

“Really?” he asked with a smile and a cocked eyebrow. She blushed again. She hadn’t meant it to sound like a challenge. “I hope you’re as good as you think you are.”

“I mean, sir,” she said quickly, like she always did when she was nervous, “I couldn’t swing at you.”

“Wow, then you’re really going to lose out there.” Nodim laughed so hard oatmeal nearly came out his nose. “Tell you what, winner takes two low crowns.”

“I … I don’t gamble sir.”

“I thought you were so good you were going to hurt me? What happened to all your smack talk?”

“It wasn’t, I really didn’t mean, sir, that…”

“Calm down, Denma. We’ll eat, and we’ll meet out back, and we don’t need to gamble, but I do want to see if you’re any good. Sound fair.”

“Yes, sir.”

There wasn’t a soul who didn’t find an excuse to come see what was about to happen in the training yard. Denma went to the rack, and carefully selected one of the wooden swords we used for practice. Durihan arrived later than her, carelessly selected the first practice sword from the rack, and grinned. He held the sword to salute, and Denma returned the gesture. Big as he was, he was fast. He dropped the salute and came swinging at her, a long swipe taking full advantage of his long gangly arms. He was as fast as thunder, but she was lightening, a split second faster. She turned the heavy stroke upward over her head, ducked and flicked the dull point of the practice sword at his throat. He stopped, seeing she had gotten him.

“Alright,” he said, and took two steps back. “Again.”

She stared at him, frustrated. She was really worried about injuring him. He grinned the same grin, and saluted the same way again. He made the same wild stroke, and she looked at him in disbelief. She deflected the blade upward, and as she was about to flick in, he lunged forward. With his left hand, he grabbed her wrist, twisted his hip into her, and threw her over his shoulder. She hit the ground with a thud, and her sword went scattering out of her grip. She looked up at him dazed. “What happened?”

“Just because something looks the same, doesn’t mean it is. Don’t fall for the same trick twice, and never assume someone else will either.” Denma lay there winded, while the captain retrieved her sword and brought it to her. “Ready to go again?”

Denma sighed, but for the rest of the morning, they went back and forth. She would find a counter, he would find a new trick. She was fast, but she only ever thought with her sword. Durihan had brains in his hands, his feet, his head, and she couldn’t keep up with the variety he threw at her. We all ended up with training sessions with Durihan. Denma could beat the captain half the time, and Fesril had days were he was the victor, but he always saw things we missed.

The thing about the captain is he never believed anyone could be truly better than him. It wasn’t an arrogance, he just thought he could be the best at anything he put his mind to, and he would put his mind to anything that someone else had mastered. He would keep up with them, mostly using ingenuity and will power, until he was their equal. The man was completely unaware of his limitless potential. He didn’t think it was odd that he rode with the best, fought with the best, drank with the best, played cards with the best, that given a week he could match you at anything you had spent years learning.

He was always there. He wanted to be one of us, and I think he was lonely. He drove Fesril crazy, because he insisted on being part of everything. He wasn’t willing to keep us at arms length. Fesril nearly broke his heart over it.

“Sir, you can’t do this,” the old man told him one day after pulling him to the corner of the mess hall.

“Do what?” Durihan looked back over his shoulder. He wanted to return to his card game.

“You can’t be friends with your lancers, sir.”

“Why not?”

“Why not? Why not? How did you ever graduate from the officers academy? You want them to be your friends? Your equals?”

“Yeah. It seems like the best way to lead them.”

“It’s not. They feel like they can question you. They think they have a say in what happens, that their opinion needs to be heard, that they can question you at any time.”

“Sure they can.”

“And you don’t see how that would be a problem?”

“No.”

“What about when you need them to die for you?”

“Fuck, Fesril,” Gabriel swore. “Why would I do that?”

“Because in His Excellency’s Service, we may be called upon to die for the Empire. Because some day you’ll need to send someone on a suicide mission, and you won’t have time to argue, or for them to do anything but obey.”

“So you’re saying you don’t want me to care what happens to them?” “Deos, no. I want you to care. You just can’t be their brother. You need to be their father.”

“That’s what you do.”

“And if you want them to live, that’s what you’ll need to do. They need to do what you say before they think about it. You have to decide, when it’s life and death, what needs done, and they need to do it. It might get them killed, but it might save their life. If they stand around and debate, or worse, decide you’re wrong and do nothing, you’ve signed twenty death warrants.”

“Fesril, we patrol the border to an empty wood.”

“And so when they look for soldiers to move to the front when someone invades, they grab the soldiers they can spare. This squad will be called to the front as soon as there’s a front to be called to, Captain Durihan. Now maybe you don’t care, but I am not planning on watching these kids die because you’re lonely.”

“What do you want me to do, Fesril?”

“Sir, you need to make your friends outside your squad. We should be like a sword to you. Value us, protect us, and keep us sharp. When you need comfort, when you’re sad and alone, you don’t hold your sword to your chest. You need to relax away from us. Here, you are in control. Every man and woman in there should think you know everything. Everything is fine. If it doesn’t seem that way, it’s because you can’t share the details, but you have a plan and a solution. We should have no doubts in you, or your orders.”

So Gabriel found a spare room in the barracks, an old unused office, and had a bed moved in so he would sleep separately. He ate at his own table, or in town. The squad started to worry as they saw him moping, so after a week of this, Fesril came back to him.

“Sir, you need to find a balance.”

“I just want to do this right, Fesril.”

“Yes, but if you seem concerned, the lancers wonder what’s wrong, if there’s something they should be concerned about.”

“I’m just not good at this.”

“I think you will be, sir. Look, maybe you can’t be part of all the things the squad does. Neither can I. I need to keep some distance too. So tomorrow at breakfast, call me over to your table to discuss strategy. Find reasons to talk to the unit. Call them over for reports, or to commend them on something they’ve done. You can still know them. You just need to establish that you’re in charge.”

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Published in: on November 22, 2010 at 12:57 pm  Comments (2)  

PTP: Setting Starburst, Chapter 2

This is the current draft of the second chapter of my novel.  I encourage criticism, questions, and of course, accolades…

Vey-Kalis-En walked up beside his sister and looked over at the soldiers setting up camp.  He was only a bit taller than her, and even at twenty-two, he looked like he had been carved from stone.  Hard lines had been weathered on his brow, and around his mouth.  The sun had beaten his face like leather and bleached his short blonde hair until it was nearly white.  He wore the Order’s uniform, the breast plate and the spears, but also had a broad sword and a bladed mace strapped around his hips.  He watched in silence as the strangers went about their mundane business.

“We’re their last hope, Kal,” Vey-Mara said softly.

“We’re a lot of people’s last hopes,” he grunted.  “We can’t save everyone.”

“There’s at least one Nephelium among them.  I’ve told the others to stay in groups of three.”

Kalis-En nodded.  “Probably best for apprentices.  Send for a couple more full members.  I don’t want to be on my own down there if they’ve got tricks up their sleeves.”

“Are you scared?” Vey-Mara grinned.

“I’m always scared,” he answered evenly.  “I just don’t let it stop me.”

Vey-Mara watched her brother walk alone towards the centre of the camp.  She whispered at his back “Stay safe.”

Kalis-En walked through the Sunburst soldiers, and each one he passed stopped working.  Eyes followed him, appraising him.  It would be foolish for them to attack him, and they must have known they were surrounded.  Still, if they attacked him en mass, it didn’t matter how many apprentices saw, he would still die at their hands.  In the Hills of Ruin, trust was a valuable commodity, and those who gave it to freely suffered dearly.

In the centre of their encampment, he found Captain Tyman.  A few years Kalis-En’s senior, the man hadn’t been born with a soldiers build, but had earned it, tight muscle piled on a small frame.  Shocks of red hair peeked out from under his helmet, and he kept rubbing his chin thoughtfully.  Kalis-En cleared his throat.

The captain turned suddenly towards him.  “Yes?” he squeaked slightly, a little surprised to see Kalis-En.  “Who are you?”

“I am the Emissary of the Dreamer.  My name is Vey-Kalis-En.  I will hear your plea.”

Tyman glanced over his shoulder.  Kalis-En followed his gaze.  There was a young Solarian noble, worse for wear, a cute girl with a splash of freckles across her nose.  Beside her was a Quaraldim, trying not to look stern.  Kalis noticed the Glyph on her stomach, the swirl of thick black sacred script, a moment before he felt the pressure in his temples.  The Glyph started to glow slightly, and Kalis-En pushed out the encroaching head-ache.  He felt the heat building in his own Glyph, his arm feeling warm, like the start of a sunburn.  He exhaled through his nose, trying to push her out of his head before she got in.  She looked away, affecting an air of innocence, and the pressure stopped.  The light on both Glyphs faded, returning to the dormant black.  She nodded slightly to the Captain.

“Alright,” Captain Tyman said, “What do you want to know?”

 “Everything.  I need to know what you need, and if we can help you.”

“What do you know about Gabriel Durihan?”

“Nothing.”  There was a look of surprise from the soldiers, who were gathering as quietly as possible around the fire.  “News doesn’t travel well here.  Nothing reaches us quickly.”

“Start at the beginning,” the Quaraldim said.  “They’re more likely to help us if they know what Gabriel was trying to do.”

The captain nodded.  The column was not his, that much was sure.  He was just their mouthpiece.  He thought for a moment and began to speak.

PTP: Podcasts and Audiobooks

So, as I’m working at bringing Setting Starburst, the current working title for my novel, from the current format to what I want it to be, I’m considering formats.  I know I want it to be available both in a printed format and a PDF format.  I also want to figure out how to get it onto e-readers and kindles.

I’ve also been considering the possibility of using podcasting and audiobooks.  Now, I don’t currently have any experience in sound recording.  I can tell stories, and tell them well, both from written page and with my mighty and sexy voice.  So I’d need to figure out the technical aspect of doing the recording.

But would people be listening? 

Here’s what I’d be doing; I’d put the chapters I’ll be putting up on the internet in written form up as podcasts.  I would also be looking at doing some of my short fiction as podcasts, probably starting there to learn the technical side before Setting Sunburst goes audio.  Then I would also make an audio version of the book, which I would want to sell through iTunes.

If you’ve got any technical knowledge in this field, and want to get in touch with me, I’d love to hear from you.

If you just want the content, let’s talk about that, via poll:

Published in: on November 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Miniblog: Stuff I Like; DrunkTank

Hey loyal readers!  If you’re here for the novel, scroll down or look for PTP posts, because today’s not about the novel.  Today, I’m just talking about stuff I like.

Today, I want to talk about Drunk Tank.  It’s a podcast done by Rooster Teeth, best known for Red vs. Blue.  At least, that’s what I know them best for, and that’s gonna be good enough for you.  They probably do some other stuff, but what am I, Wikipedia?  Go figure it out yourself.

Basically, they get a bunch of the guys who work on their projects together in a room and talk about stuff.  There’s not a lot of structure, except that it comes out once a week.  There’s no set topics, and you never know what they’re going to get into.  You don’t even need to be up on the topic.  This is a group of smart, funny guys who are articulate, and able to let you know enough about whatever they’re talking about that you can follow along.

Seriously, this is worth checking out.  Unless you’re an old lady who doesn’t like swearing.  Then I recommend leaving the internet.

Published in: on November 10, 2010 at 12:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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PTP: Chapter 1

So, this is the first chapter of the novel I’m writing.  I don’t have an official title yet.  Right now, I’m thinking either “Setting Sunburst” or “The Lament of Gabriel Durihan” but I don’t like either.  I’d love constructive criticism, acolades, or even hate mail over this.  Feel free to leave a comment, private message me, or email me at joey.stadelmann@gmail.com.  Let me know what you think.  If people want more, I’ll probably post the next chapter next Monday. 

Without further ado:

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Chapter 1

Naria contemplated whether she would really miss Lenna if she leapt across the cairrage and strangled her.  “I thought you said they would help us!”

They jostled along a mountain road.  Lenna was Quaraldim, one of the nomadic elves.  Her skin was dusky, and dark chocolate hair was sheared at her jaw line.  The tapered points of her ears protruded from behind the straight locks.  She was lounging sideways, one foot wedged on the far wall to keep her balance as they headed uphill.  Golden eyes stared out the window.  She had the lackadaisical air her people displayed when lost in thought, a bored hunting cat in the sun.  She shrugged.  “I said we could go to them for help.”

 “But they might turn us down?”

 Lenna closed her eyes, apparently enjoying the beam of sun that washed over her face.  She nodded.

 “But we’ve come so far!”

 Lenna slowly turned her head.  She looked to be about Naria’s age, somewhere circling twenty.  That put the elf in the range of two hundred years old, and as she stared at Naria, the difference tumbled out.  “Effort and result are two very different things.”

“I know,” Naria sighed.  “I just … I’m tired of doing this.”

“I know,” Lenna agreed, closing her eyes again.

Already feeling like a little kid, Naria stuck out her lip and pouted for a bit.  It didn’t really help.  She glared at Lenna, who hadn’t had to dress up today.  The elf wore a sleeveless leather shirt that didn’t cover her midriff, leaving the tribal black tattoo on her arm and its partner on her stomach exposed, and riding pants, belted with a purple sash.  Naria desperately wanted to be wearing something so comfortable.

Knowing they would soon be reaching their destination, it had been decided that morning she would wear her princess costume to make a good impression.  Her objections had been ignored with suprizing enthusiasm.  The ice blue gown, a perfect match for her eyes, had been removed from its chest on the back of the carriage.  Despite the creases and wear from travel, it was deemed suitable by people she was now certain hated her.  Lenna had taken her down to the brook by their campsite, and forced her to bathe in the frigid water.  She shivered while her supposed friend brushed her obsidian hair to her shoulders.  With help she had squeezed into the torturous dress.  It was designed to perfect her form, but it attacked its task with unnecessary vigour.  The whale bone corset made it difficult to breathe.  The skirts were too voluminous to move with the graceful speed Naria was accostumed.  She plodded along, trying to hold up the hem to keep the dirt of the forest from staining it.  It left her shoulders and the upper part of her chest bare, leaving far less to the imagination than she would have liked.

Six inches taller than Naria, Lenna looked down at her while painting her heartshaped face, looking at a canvas, not a person.  A silver circlet was fastened across her brow, and Lenna nodded, proud of her work.  Naria felt like a little girl’s doll.  The resentment had grown throughout the day, and it was starting to boil over as the sun began to dip.

Smoothing her skirts, Naria glared across the cairrage.  “They better help us.”

Lenna didn’t open her eyes.  “Or what?”

“They just better.”

“I think that tiny crown is going to your head.”

“I think it’s probably the fact that I haven’t been able to breathe since you laced me into this prison.”  She tried to stare out the window, biting the inside of her lip.  The spruce raced by.  She couldn’t find the same sense of detached piece the Quaraldim was managing.  “Lenna?”  Naria waited for a slight nod.  “Who are they?”

“The Order of the Dreamer?”

“Yeah.”

“They’re warrior priests.  That’s the best way to describe it.”

“And they’ll be enough to finish what Gabe started?”

“They’re also Nephillium.”

“Oh.”  Naria fidgeted in silence, listening to the clomping of the team, trying to stay calm.  She couldn’t stay still.  She felt her forehead crinkle, feeling an itch under her skin.  There was more that Lenna was keeping from her.  “What happens if they don’t agree to help us?”

Lenna sighed.  She sat upright, despite the slope they travelled on, and leaned forward.  She locked eyes with Naria.  “When we go to them, they will pick a side.  If they don’t decide to help us, they will decide to stop us.”

“Oh, good,” Naria said through a practiced smile.  “A last ditch effort.  As long as we’re on familiar ground.”

Outside the carriage, three squads of soldiers rode along on tired horses.  They wore the Sunburst livery of the Solarian Empire, a yellow circle ringed in tiny triangles, on a sky blue background.  The carriage was in the centre of the column, which was struggling up the steep slope.  It was nearly too much for the horses, and scouts went ahead, constantly ensuring the carriage would be able to take the slope.

The thick spruce on the sides of the road threatened to gobble up the road.  Sunlight struggled to pierce shrouded in murky gloom.  Nervous riders kept seeing shapes fleeting through the branches, shadows that caught the corner of the eye and then vanished.  The animals were becoming increasingly skittish.  Every strange sound caused heads to jerk, or people to gasp, or horses to whiney.  Warbling cries of unfamiliar birds set teeth on edge.  Far from home, not a member of the column was certain what sort of beast could lunge onto the road.

When a scout returned, announcing he had found the settlement a mile ahead, a ripple of relief flowed through the soldiers. 

The dirt road led to a plateau.  A short distance away, the stony shore of a mountain lake was lined with log cottages.  The lake itself was fed by an enormous waterfall, thundering down a craggy cliff face on the opposite side.  The foam churned at the base, and ripples created tiny waves that caressed the rocky shore.  The setting sun stained a grey sky with blood-soaked orange.  The land ground was uneven, a little wild.  They started to ride towards the village on the shore.  A handful of figures emerged, and jogged forward to met the soldiers.

The warriors from the settlement were uniformly clad in steel breast plates.  Their left arms were braced in steel, but the right were bare, each showing the same strange sort of tattoo that marked Lenna’s.  Strapped to their backs, each carried three javelins.  They seemed utterly unconcerned to be staring down sixty mounted soldiers.

A blunt faced young woman, no more than seventeen, with short blonde hair stepped forward.  “Who speaks for this column?” she demanded.

Captain Tyman rode forward.  “I do.”  There was soft sheen of sorrow across his face..

“Why are you here?”

“We wish to petition the help of the Order of the Dreamer.”

“I am Vey-Mara-En,” announced the girl.  “Follow me.  I will show you where to set up camp.”  She led them away from the town, onto an open space on the plateau.  The Sunburst column visibly deflated.  The thought of solid walls around them, real roof over their heads, and maybe even real beds, were dashed, and they slumped behind the girl.  She nodded to an area, with circles of round rocks demarking fire-pits.  There was a stack of split wood near a chopping block, more than enough to get them through the night.  The soldiers dismounted and shuffled like sleepwalkers through the familiar routine of making camp. 

The driver of the coach, a tall man in the same Sunburst livery, clamoured down and opened the door.  He grinned crookedly as he offered a hand to help Naria down.  She screwed an unimpressed look on her face and waited for him to assist Lenna.

 “If they kill us over … over this,” she gestured at the dress, “Then I want you to remember it was your idea.”

 Lenna smiled, and they headed to the nearest of the fire pits, to wait for it to be lit.

Published in: on November 8, 2010 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Pen To Print Mission Statement

So I’ve figured out how I’m going to do this.  First of all, you will be seeing a lot more of my work on the book in my blog.  Any post dedicated to writing will have either PTP for Pen to Print in the tag, which will be discussions about what I’m doing to move my novel from it’s current draft to the finalized, purchasable version.  PTP posts will be specifically related to the process, not the content.

I’ll also be posting Draft Chapters, which will be content from the book.  Not all of it will be avaible publically, and anything in a draft chapter my change from the first posted to the final version in the book.  For Draft Chapters, I strongly encourage criticism.  I want to know where I can’t spell, where I’m not making sense, and when things fall apart.  I also want to know what makes sense and what doesn’t.

This project will be taking up a lot of my time.  I apologize if you are more a fan of my previous Black Book work.  In fact, if there’s a bunch of you who want me to totally split the PTP project to a different blog or address, send me an email, a private message, a twitter, whatever.  If I hear from enough of you, I’d be happy to split off.  There will be less Black Book posts, as the novel is now my main project, but there’s still love for all y’all.

Published in: on November 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm  Comments (1)  

The Master Plan

I want to publish.  I want to publish soon.  The thing is, publishing is a labyrinthine industry, and not the good kind, with David Bowie.

Okay, maybe a little like Bowie

There is a massive approval process, and if you haven’t been published, you probably won’t get published.  There’s too many people sending in too many books, and not enough people reading them.

So I think to myself, well, what does work.  Who’s publishing books that don’t go through that system.  It’s people like Tucker Max and David Thorne.  These guys did not go hat in hand, and ask publishers if they were good enough to be published.  They just put their stuff out there, and people wanted it, and were willing to pay for it.

I do a lot of writing that I haven’t put up on the internet, specifically because if I do, those old style publishing companies won’t buy it.  They want to have all the first rights to everything.  While I can see where they’re coming from, because if they give it away, who will pay for it, I think they’re wrong.  I mean, even if you’re a loyal reader of my blog, you may not like my fiction.  You don’t know.  I don’t expect you to spend your hard earned cash on me to find out, but they do.

But what if I give away a bunch of stuff for free?  You could see if you like it, and then pay for the rest.  Tucker Max and David Thorne put stories and articles on their websites, and you can buy their books for exclusive content.  I’ve heard Steven King does the same thing.  It obviously seems to be working.  We live in a new age, and I know the internet.  I should use it.

So here’s my plan; I’m going to do a final draft of one of my novels, probably the fantasy novel.  I think it’s good enough to ask people to pay to read the ending, but it’s not so near and dear to my heart that I can’t afford to experiment with it.  I’m going to be putting portions of it online.  I’ve bought a domain name, and I’m going to build a website.  I’m going to hire and editor, and make a final version of the book.  I’ll release it in PDF, print on demand, e-reader, and possibly podcast/book on tape.  I’ve bought the domain names for the website that will support it and I’ll build it.

This blog has been rather directionless, and I may keep the Black Book Project segment of it reserved for meandering and rambling.  But I’m considering creating a new section of my blog, with a separate name, and working on the book through there.  You’ll be able to read updates, about process, and text from the book.

If you’re interested, you can see the whole thing.  I’m looking for advice, editing, and criticism, so that I can make the final, paid version of it better.  Just drop me a line if you want to help out a bit more, and I’d love you forever for it.  Plus, you’ll get to see the first draft of the novel, which will not be what others will see.  It’s like a DVD bonus.

Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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