Monthly Archives: June 2014
Posted by Will
In just two weeks, give or take, my greatest chronicling effort to date will start to unroll before the world as Judgement’s Tale Part One, Games of Chance hits the internet equivalent of the shelves.
And last week, following rare in-person meetings with my business colleagues in the UK, I took a completely uncharacteristic walkabout in the countryside north of London near the site of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.
Think these two events are completely unrelated? How little you know me.
Business and Pleasure
Alleged Real World first. I was moping all the way to England for my business trip- no money, no way (I figured) to see any sights in a land of one hundred castles, and– this is the key– no idea where my business meetings were taking place. I only knew Egham as the town that had my company’s offices, and also MI-6 (the British Secret Service) in it, somewhere. Turns out, Egham is the town next door to Runnymede. As in, the unknown field where King John had to put his Hancock on it eight centuries ago. My boss, unlucky fellow, was with me in the cab on the way in; I shout, “Look, there’s a memorial to the signing of the Magna Carta!”. He’s French, says “what ees thees magna carta?” No escape! I had him for ten minutes, poor devil, on and on about John Lackland and the barons, forced to sign a charter promising not to do naughty things anymore just to scrape up money. And over the years, that backroom deal between two dozen feudal lords somehow came to stand for the immutable rights of every British citizen, and on beyond that to all the rights of man.
My boss finally escaped the cab, but I was already determined- me, the guy who never exercises anymore, the dope who gets sore the day after playing golf ON THE WII- I was going to have my British sight-seeing vacation on foot. I went on a walkabout through scenic, charming Runnymede, got up close and personal with memorials to that famous signing and others. I walked for MILES. Me! Channeling Lewis and Tolkein, strolling through rural England and ruminating deep thoughts in search of historical markers. And the weather was perfect, I mean just cool enough, no humidity, bright sunshine, and a breeze that blew energy into you. I could have walked across the island. I stopped part-way along, folded my hands and thanked God for saving me from my own torpid idiocy.
So then, how is the signing of the Great Charter in any way similar to the release of another epic fantasy tale? Am I really going to try and convince you that my next book is some kind of milestone of world history?
My answer- it depends which world you mean.
In the Lands of Hope, I started watching a time where things were beginning to happen after a long period of peace and prosperity. The Age of Adventure was first signaled around 1992 (ADR, their calendar) with an incredible act of stealth unheard of since the days of the heroes millennia ago (see Three Minutes to Midnight). I spent a lot of time examining things that were going on in late 1995-6 when the curse lying over the Percentalion (the Land of One Hundred Castles in my world) was finally lifted. A band of despised adventurers was a big part of that wondrous deed, you meet them in this tale. So yes, history pivots on the events set down here, and all the other tales I’ve published come later, largely because of them.
But there was another character, just before that time, one everybody knew as The Man in Grey. I saw Solemn Judgement first, even before I saw the Lands of Hope. The image of this grim, erudite, reserved and skillful pariah was always clearly before me, more than thirty years ago. Everywhere that things went wrong, wherever adventurers argued about the best solution while “regular” folk moaned about the good old days, there he was; stalking briefly in and out again, a few words, a few blows, a miracle, and then gone. No hesitation, no explanations, and nobody sorry to see him leave, to resume his mysterious walkabout across an entire continent.
But he never left my mind. Before I go any further, let me reassure you- my lovely wife is very knowledgeable about all manner of mental problems and keeps a close eye on me. If she ever says I need to put on the looonng sleeved cardigan, I will; just let me out for an hour a day to write some more, because that’s the only way Solemn Judgement leaves me alone.
My entire adult life I have worked in some way to placate him. Like him, every stitch of my clothing is a shade of ash, slate, charcoal or steel. Though much older than he, I feel a kinship now that my hair is coming to match the outfits. But these gestures do little to put him off, year in and year out- in my mind he is always standing there, not saying a word but only looking on me with that serious face that clearly says “what should be done”.
So I have done it. This is literally his tale, the story of how he came to the Lands and what drives him to be the way he is. Against all odds, against nearly everyone he meets, Judgement is determined to do what is needful. A mighty river of other peoples’ lives flows in one direction, but only he can swim, and chooses to fight the current. Nothing deters him; as he pressed on against undead and demonic foes, so too he bore down on my mind all those years. And as his story finally comes out, Judgement wins, over endless enemies and feckless friends alike. But if I know him, it will merely mean another task, more adventure that needs doing, and then needs telling.
Hoookayy then. What about the connection? You still don’t see it?
More than They Seem
John got in trouble because he was supposed to be a king and was doing such a LOUSY job. Notice there’s no number after his name? Eight centuries and no queen has dared try the most common of English names, there will probably never
be another John of England. A few of his barons finally made him sit down and put it in writing before they’d leave him alone- the Great Charter was a private deal, just to stave off immediate rebellion, and only later came to be seen as this mystical guarantee of the rights of every English peasant, and every citizen of the Alleged Real World. Not to mention the whole bad-guy-in-Robin-Hood-thingie, which was a bum rap but too fun to correct. Safe to say the Magna Carta became a much bigger thing with time. But John didn’t give a damn- he was just out for some peace.
And so it is for me. A few heroes, one especially, have been pressing me day and night for thirty years because I’m the guy, the sole chronicler of The Lands of Hope charged to tell their tales. And I’ve sucked at it. William Lack-hand, until recently: it’s no accident I chose July 4th for my first publishing date back in 2011. Writing for me is about shedding chains. With this magnum opus, the work of my lifetime I seriously believe, I’ve made a bargain with the leader of the rebels. His story starts. You can read it for yourself. Perhaps history in later years will make much of this beginning, more than I or Solemn ever intended. Hey, they only made seven copies of the Great Charter, I should be able to beat that! But Judgement takes no notice of what others think of him. Soon now, like John my name will be on it, my debt to him discharged, and perhaps he will leave me be awhile.
Cover Reveal- Games of Chance
If you’ve followed the tour, you’ve seen the cover already. I love the elemental simplicity- a pen and a sword, I wonder if they will come into play at some point. And if you haven’t seen the tour yet…
The Games of Chance blog ride is in full gallop with original material (only one repeated post in the lot). If you haven’t seen it I have an itinerary here which I will update as the links go live. Judgement’s Tale Part One, Games of Chance will be on sale July 4th at Amazon.
Posted by Will
In case you rode in late, here’s an updated list of the sites visited by the blog tour for Judgement’s Tale Part One: Games of Chance in June 2014. This tour preceded the release of Games of Chance on July 4th. It’s a who’s-who of cool fantasy authors and bloggers who are helping shape the internet and the indie publishing world- I’m privileged to have been a guest on these sites.
As they go live I will update the schedule with specific links: check back here if you missed a day or want to revisit a topic from an earlier post.
Ar Aralte! (Hope Forever)
DATE HOST TOPIC
6-14-14 Tracy Falbe, Her Ladyship’s Quest
Chapter One Podcast– the first meeting with Solemn Judgement, in the chronicler’s voice
6-15-14 Karen Woodward
Being a Writer: What Does it Take and Where Will it Take You?– advice to writers? Maybe good for a chuckle!
6-16-14 Lori Fitzgerald, White Raven Writing
Introduction to Prince Gareth of Shilar– one of the main characters of the novel makes his debut appearance.
6-17-14 Katharina Gerlach
Introduction to Solemn Judgement– the title character, known to the Lands as the Man in Grey, on his first day an orphan and alien
6-18-14 Susan Stuckey, Kalieri Tales
Author Interview– the one and only for this tour, not for lack of trying!
6-19-14 Day Off, Resting the Tour-Horse
6-20-14 Daniel Marvello, The Vaetra Files
Magic and Miracles in the Lands of Hope– a view of one background element of the world setting, for the enthusiast
6-21-14 Sher A. Hart, Written Art
An Interview with Solemn Judgement– or as close as anyone can get to such a thing
6-22-14 Mathew Reuther
An Interview with (not About) Cedrith Fellareon– the tale’s principal guide to the mind of Solemn Judgement discusses his protege
6-23-14 Matt Graybosch, A Day Job and a Dream
Technology and Despair– the bad guys don’t show mercy, and they’ve got better stuff!
6-24-14 Robin Lythgoe, The Series that Snuck Up on Me- because all my stories are going to connect eventually
6-25-14 Peter Cruikshank, Introduction to Treaman the Woodsman– one of the main protagonists revealed, and already fighting for his life
6-26-14 Karin Gastreich, How to Write about Combat– you could say I struggled with this one…
6-27-14 Mysti Parker, World Building on the Sly-a familiar topic for me, am I actually getting subtle in my elder years?
6-28-14 L. Blankenship, Character Interview with Cedrith Fellareon– a major supporting character, talking about anyone other than himself of course
Posted by Sue
My last post was about C.S. Lewis and his classic Chronicles of Narnia. Today I’d like to talk about another excellent author that has stood the test of time: Madeleine L’ Engle. The first book in her Time series, A Wrinkle in Time, won a Newbery Medal, the Sequoyah Book Award, a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was a runner-up for the Hans Christian Anderson Award. It was also rejected by at least 26 publishers! When it was finally published in 1962, it has been in print ever since. The next four books in the series are: The Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time.
In A Wrinkle in Time science and mysticism are twined together as Meg Murry and her brother search for their father. He is a government scientist and has gone missing while working on a project called tesseract. A tesseract is revealed to be a way of time/space traveling in seconds by folding time and space, hence the title. Meg must learn to fight evil with love instead of hate to rescue her father and her young brother.
L’ Engle has written this series of books with memorable characters, vivid descriptions, and through it all, she celebrates family, friends, life, and love. Supposedly these are children’s books. However, I highly recommend them for all ages. If you love to read fantasy, try this series.
Posted by Debbie Mumford
My publisher recently launched a new Imprint: Spun Yarns.
Spun Yarns features collections of short stories, from flash fiction to romance to science fiction.
I thought I’d celebrate my first Spun Yarns collection, LOVE IN A FLASH, by sharing one of its stories. Enjoy!
LOVE IN A FLASH
by Debbie Mumford
Audience: Romance | Sweet | Short Stories
A collection of romantic Flash fiction stories—complete tales told in less than a thousand words. Each of these seven jewels presents the exhilaration of budding romance. Experience the thrill of discovery with Love in a Flash!
The Eyes Have It
Amy Davidson forced herself to look away from Brett Rawlings’ beautiful, dark eyes. Lord, have mercy, she thought as she bent to adjust his riding helmet. It’s a good thing you’re only five. I could lose myself in eyes like those.
“Will you be observing his session today, Mrs. O’Rourke?” Amy worked as a therapist for a therapeutic riding center in New York’s Central Park. She loved her job and on a beautiful spring day like this, her heart fairly sang!
The grey-haired governess shook her head. “No, I’m just dropping him off on my way to the airport.” She smiled, a dreamy expression softening her no-nonsense gaze, “I’m off to visit my newest granddaughter. Born just two days ago in Baltimore.”
“How exciting! Will you be gone long?”
“I’m taking a month off. This is Lisa’s first child. She and Ben begged me to come and stay.” She glanced at her wristwatch. “I’ve got to run. I’m not sure whether Mr. Rawlings will pick Brett up, or the temporary nanny. But whichever, you’ll know you can release him by their code word: Hopsalot.”
Mrs. O’Rourke laughed. “A remnant of Mr. Rawlings’ childhood.” She stooped to kiss Brett’s cheek. “Be good, young man. I’ll see you in a month.” With a cheery wave, she disappeared into her white minivan and drove away.
“Well, Brett, it looks like it’s just you and me today.” Amy leaned down and unfastened the myriad straps that held Brett’s twisted body upright in his padded wheelchair.
The little boy smiled, his liquid brown eyes sparkling with anticipation. Amy loved those eyes, a gift, she felt sure, from his deceased mother. Brett’s medical records told a sad story; his delivery had been complicated, robbing him of his mother while leaving him with Cerebral Palsy.
Though she knew she shouldn’t have favorites, Brett held a special place in Amy’s heart. She blessed the day she’d decided to blend her physical therapy degree with her Montana-ranch-girl love of horses. However, her best decision (much to her parents’ chagrin) had been to leave the Big Sky country and move to New York City. If she hadn’t, she’d never have met this precious child. On the other hand, despite her love of the City’s vibrant pulse, she often despaired of finding a man who would share her country-bred values; family must always come first.
“Today’s the day, Brett,” she said, hoisting the little boy out of his chair and into her arms. “Today we get to leave the arena and follow a bridle path into the park.”
Brett didn’t answer, Amy had never heard him speak, but his eyes glowed with excitement as she lifted him onto Molly’s saddle and adjusted the supporting harness.
Molly turned her head as far as the cross-ties allowed and neighed a greeting to her small rider. The sorrel standardbred appeared too tall for the slight child, but Amy knew the mare’s placid disposition made her the perfect mount for Brett’s first foray into the open air.
Once Brett was securely seated, Amy moved to Molly’s head, released the cross-ties, and holding her bridle in one hand and lead in the other, led the mare from the stable. Glorious sunshine assaulted her eyes and she glanced up to be sure Brett’s helmet provided adequate protection as his eyes adjusted. His smile outshone the sun as he gazed happily around. The special saddle provided adequate support for his spinal column, but didn’t prevent his head from jerking from side to side as he took in his new surroundings.
Satisfied as to his safety and comfort, Amy led the horse slowly across the street and down the block and a half to Central Park. Her dark brown hair, tied up in a pony tail, swept her shoulders as she walked. She wore comfortable hiking boots, jeans, a white twill shirt and a red windbreaker emblazoned with the Center’s logo. When she reached the trailhead for the bridle path, she pulled Molly to a stop and stepped back to check on Brett.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
He grinned lopsidedly, and slowly blinked those gorgeous eyes once, and then stared at her with glittering anticipation. A clear “yes.”
“All right, then. Here we go!” She clucked to Molly and they set off on the two mile beginner’s loop.
After Brett’s ride, Amy held him with his back against her chest; her left arm supported his weight while tucked in the curve behind his knees, while her right arm held him firmly across his chest. They approached Molly’s nose. The big sorrel snuffled his honey-blond hair, released now from his riding helmet, and softly lipped his clenched fist. His attempt to relax his grip telegraphed itself through Amy’s body; she held her breath, willing him to accomplish this feat. Slowly his fingers opened revealing a slightly sweaty peppermint.
Molly accepted the tribute with gentle lips, and Brett breathed a contented sigh.
“Very nice, Brett,” Amy praised. “Molly loves peppermints. You’ve just made her day.”
Amy turned to find a tall, healthy, adult version of Brett watching them from behind mirrored sunglasses.
Brett’s exclamation surprised Amy, but left no doubt as to the man’s identity. A huge grin wreathed his features as he stepped forward and relieved Amy of her burden.
“Hey there, big boy! Have you had a good time?”
The obvious love in his voice tugged at Amy’s heart. She’d worried occasionally about her favorite client, having only met his governess. No more. Father and son had a tangible bond.
When he finished arranging Brett in his wheelchair, Mr. Rawlings straightened and turned to Amy with an outstretched hand.
“David Rawlings,” he said, shaking her hand in a firm, but pleasant grip. “You must be Amy. Mrs. O’Rourke raves about you, and I can tell Brett likes you, too.”
Amy stammered something unintelligible, but David Rawlings kept right on talking.
“If I’d known you had such a sweet smile, I’d have dropped by sooner.” An infectious grin destroyed any condescension the words might have held. He swept his sunglasses off and added, “Oh, and the password is ‘Hopsalot,’” in a conspiratorial whisper.
Amy found herself gazing into the most gorgeous pair of eyes she’d ever seen. Brett’s father’s eyes were deep chocolate pools, heralds of an honest and forthright character.
“Lord, have mercy,” she murmured, as a flutter of possibility tingled down her spine.