Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Writers Block: Dyane Forde-Author Interview

I finally figured out how to post this properly. Many thanks again to STEEL Magazine for this incredible opportunity. Enjoy. :)




Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Through the Looking Glass with T.A. Miles: Author Interview

I'm so excited. For my first author interview, the planets have aligned, resulting in the wonderful T.A. Miles accepting to be my first...victim, er...rather, interviewee. In some ways, I've always felt as though I'd found a (writing) kindred spirit in T.A. In chats and discussions, her views on writing and of her writing process always connected with me in a fundamental way so that I always left our chats excited and inspired. So it gives me great pleasure to have her on board with me today, and I hope that you, Reader, come to  know and appreciate her and her work as much as I do.

I invite you to hang around and to slink on down the rabbit hole with us as we explore the marvelous mind of T.A. Miles.

 T.A Miles, author, artist, musician, dreamer

1-   Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

I'm an author, an editor, an illustrator, a dreamer, a crazy person, a partner in a life partnership, a lover of animals, and a devourer of music. I have Alice syndrome, which is curiosity to the Nth degree, which  greatly fuels my imagination, my learning, and my randomness. I'm also a very independent person who likes to promote independence in others, especially regarding emotional freedom and creativity. I like to encourage and support others trying to share one of the most delicate and sensitive, and powerful aspects of themselves, which is their creativity. I think sometimes part of the reason I decided to publish independently was to show others that it can be done without remorse.

Some technical details about myself: I'm from the American Midwest, raised for a bit in California. I'm formally educated in music and history, and independently studied in life and the things in life that pique my interest especially, such as languages, spirituality, and culture. I'm married to my best friend and together we're raising a dachshund and a beagle.

2-   From what I’ve seen, you seem to like to dabble in different forms of expression. Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? How did you get your start and what keeps you motivated/inspired?

I'm someone who likes to try to do everything. I get inspired by something and then I want to pay tribute to the inspiration or express it in every way imaginable; writing, drawing, music...etc… I've been involved in literature, art, and music from a young age. I was frequently brought to the library and checked out books by the stack. I have difficulty sitting still mentally, so I would always have paper with me to draw or write on or I would have a book to read, or something wherever I went.

When I'm reading, my characters are often reading with me or I'm considering how one of my characters might respond to the situation or character I'm reading about. Music really gets my characters going. Visual art pokes and prods along the threshold of my imagination, always stirring something up or inciting reaction from a character. Puzzles and games...video games... Really, it's all about the characters. And they're kept constantly at the front of my mind by everything that catches my interest. In fact, I go so far as to consider that some of the things catching my interest are, in fact, catching theirs and that's why I noticed it at all. Part of keeping motivated and inspired is to literally carry these people with me everywhere. I never stop thinking about them because writing for me isn't a hobby or a career even, it's an all- encompassing passion. It's such an intrinsic part of my emotional being that to not do it, or to not be thinking of it is not like taking time off of work or stepping away from something fun, it's like trying to take some time off from breathing. I wasn't an only child (I have three siblings) and I wasn't lonely, so I'm not quite sure why I developed this sense of spiritual connection to characters...this habit of regarding characters as people I know across some planar divide, who I must write about...but it was something that formed very naturally and automatically. Maybe having a constant chemical imbalance (I'm bipolar), I’ve been seeking a way to explore the various sides of my emotional being, through the emotions of others (those observed in life, through reading and living, and eventually my characters).



3-   What forms of writing (short stories, poetry, novels, etc.) and genres do you prefer and why?

I don't really have a conscious preference. Novels are what usually happen. Typically, I'll meet a character who has something to say, then they start going and intersect with other characters, who also have things to say. Their threads begin weaving and creating this massive tapestry that spreads and spreads until they've covered one hundred thousand to two hundred thousand words. It just never occurs to me to stop them any earlier. That said, I do have some short stories, only they're not really mine. By that I mean, a character wrote them. (~watches everyone back away slowly~ )

Something about my characters being full-dimensional people is that they have whole lives. I think I've written a total of two short stories myself when it was recommended to me that I try to publish via magazines and such. I don't really like either of them and oddly enough the short that was nearly purchased(but turned out to be too long for the magazine) was one of the stories written by my character. What that let me know is that writing with an agenda in mind or for the sake of writing isn't my best form. It has to come directly from the characters.

4-   I’ve read books which annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What is it that makes you want to stop turning pages?

The weird thing about me and books I want to throw is that I love them. If I'm riled up enough to throw it, the author did a good job. Of course, that's only if I'm riled up over things the characters have done. If I'm annoyed with the style or the lack of feeling in a book...the lack of people interacting...I tend to just stop reading it and don't get very worked up about it. Unless I try to make myself finish it, or something continues to bait me into reading further until I just can't take it anymore.

So, for me a page turner is a book where the characters feel like people, and I feel like I'm seeing and feeling people interact and grow. Honestly, books fraught with intentional symbolism and structure, or any element that was put into the story on purpose tend to not impress me. I can be impressed by the ability of the author to do that, but it's not really what I'm looking for in a read. Symbolism also tends to get preachy or heavy-handed if it isn't done just exactly right and typically when an author is thinking about it too deliberately they're not feeling it(in my opinion). The best messages can be delivered incidentally or by way of something else rather than by deliberate intent. We all relate to different things, so to set out to tell a story about one thing specifically runs the risk of escaping or excluding part of your audience. That doesn't mean that the author can't follow the course of things that speak to them the most, but I also believe that the author should learn these things in progress. I believe that characters should be observed and discovered, not made or created. When an author has done the former, I can tell and that's when I love it.

5-   As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

As I sort of said in the prior ramble, I don't believe in 'including' things deliberately. It's just not how I write. For me, doing things too deliberately is orchestrating and constructing. In some cases it can lead to processing and packaging. I try to be more raw and organic. Whatever happens, happens. Whoever tells it, tells it. I think, by that philosophy and practice, my greatest strength is in characters. I believe that many of my readers respond to the characters first and foremost, whether they like them or don't. Even not liking them is positive and precisely what I hope to accomplish; an emotional reaction to the people in the story. Not everyone likes everybody. Successful populations of characters will have people who aren't unanimously liked or disliked, but who garner a variety of responses and receptions from the readers, just as people do one another in life. So, you will never hear me say that 'so and so' was written to be disliked. Even the worst, most destructive antagonist is simply an individual, who happens to be doing destructive and antagonistic things. I'm so sure they have a reason for it. Let's find out through them and through those around them and affected by them. So, to sum it up, I think my strengths are in conveying people and emotion, and in allowing a natural course.

My weaknesses are in planning and in keeping a story at a reasonable length. I’m not worried about planning, since it doesn’t fit with my style. I don’t know if I’m worried about keeping a story at or under 100,000 words, but there are times when I think it limits my audience. They have to stop and consider whether or not they want to invest that much time, which is a lot to ask of anyone.

6-   How often do you write? Do you hold to the idea that a writer must write every single day?

I write every day; a few hundred to a few thousand words. I do not believe that every writer must write every single day. Everyone works differently. I write because I can't not write, so writing every day is just part of daily life for me. There was a time in my life where I wrote for 8 to 12 hours straight every single day. This was when I lived alone and didn't own dogs. People have to develop writing habits that fit their lifestyles and they're not any greater or less an author for doing it their own way, regardless of how long that has them at their desk.


7-   Can you tell us about Raventide? What other projects are you working on?

Raventide is the first novel I decided to publish independently. There was no special reason behind it, except it was written and I needed a sacrifice. We (my partner and I) chose Raventide. After the fact, we decided we should have a label. Raventide seemed like as good a name as any and with it being the debut novel, it seemed appropriate. It quickly grew up into a micro publisher. All that really means is that we publish very selectively and not in mass. For now, I'm the only author on the roster, though we do plan to bring in more authors in the near future(as soon as it becomes viable). We branded ourselves as a genre publisher, specifically fantasy and sci-fi with emphasis on sociological and emotional. What we really want is to create a reputation for introducing readers to people, Four (or full)-dimensional characters, we call them; characters who have a physical presence, a mental presence, an emotional presence, and a spiritual presence. These are the characters who you invest your concern in. When they're upset, you cry with them or want to comfort them, or maybe you want to shake them because they cry too much and you can’t stand to see them being upset all the time. When they laugh, you laugh with them...or you don't think what happened was funny, so you tell them to shut up or you roll your eyes at their terrible jokes that are kind of endearing anyway. Whatever the case, you're right there with them.

Raventide Books is on the lookout for these types of authors. We're also hoping to support other independent artists in whatever ways we can, so Raventide Books will often help promote other authors or musicians, sometimes filmmakers, at random. We're also running a contest through my blog, The Immarcescible Word. The premise behind it is simply to provide another place for writers to showcase their imaginations and also we hope to eventually have other published authors or independent visual artists donate prizes, which also helps gain them attention.

Apart from the development of the publishing as a business, I'm working on several novels at once. Blood Song, the sequel to Blood Lilies, will be out this fall. Dreamdance, the sequel to Darkside, will be out shortly thereafter. We also have a couple of stand-alones to get ready and the next in an epic fantasy series. That means I have a lot of cover arts to get done as well…and trailers to put together, ugh.


8-   What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

The most difficult aspect of writing is time management. The days where I did nothing but write all day long are a thing of the past. Now I have to be involved in life(marriage, hound raising, running a small business...). I have to maximize my time for writing while still getting all of the other things done.

9-   Who are your favourite writers and why?

For a writer to catch my attention as a writer they typically just have to be sincere and humble. If an author is too busy about the 'business' of writing or too self-assured that their work is awesome with a side of sauce, I will probably pass on their books. Oddly enough, with independent publishing being an up and coming option, it's much easier to get an idea of 'who' is behind the book than with traditional publishing. While I want to say that's not important, I can't deny that I have a better feeling about purchasing and reading a book when I can sense the enthusiasm and spirit behind it.

That said, as a child my favorite authors were Lewis Carroll and John Bellairs. They're still among my favorites for the balanced innocence and courage in the young protagonists and the elements within the story; Alice's dealings with nonsense that may have been her own subconscious in the Wonderland stories and the air of mystery and supernatural in the Bellairs books. As an adult, I found a similar spirit to Carroll in Neil Gaiman; Neverwhere in particular. I've also read a lot of Poe, whose writing is interesting to me for its exploration of emotional and mental health. I feel that there's a lot to be read between the lines of Poe as well as stated directly. The only author, other than Bellairs, whose work I've bought simply because they wrote it is Paula Volsky. I'm not even certain what it is exactly, but there's something about her stories and her storytelling style that connects. I feel immersed in her world and involved with her characters.

10-    What advice would you give to new writers?

I've said and will continue to say to new writers, write. Hone your skills. Practice, practice, practice. Put emotion into it. It's the same as learning to play an instrument. Even if you have natural talent, if you don't practice, you'll never bring it to its full potential. And when/if it comes to publishing, choose the path that feels right to you, whether traditional or independent and go at it fearlessly. The worst that will happen is someone will tell you you're writing isn't good. The best that can happen is that you'll defy that person's opinion by continuing to write and ultimately sharing your art however you choose to share it.

11-    How can readers get into contact with you?

Email (tamilessheehan@gmail.com), Twitter (@Jossaryn), Raventide Books directly(raventidebooks.com), G+ (T.A. Miles), pan-dimensional emissary, whatever works. I love to hear from readers, but be warned I'm liable to ramble about characters and you never know when one of the characters might do the talking instead of me.


T.A. thanks so much for sharing with us today! The more you reveal about yourself and your writing, the more I want to find out. I think I’ll have to book you for a Part 2. :) I also hope that new Readers will look into Raventide Books and The Immarcescible Word to see how they can get involved. Best wishes on all your future endeavours!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Amazing! Nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger award!!

inspiringblogger
Imagine my surprise when I got the notice: I'd been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger award by Alana Munro. I mean, I have just started blogging, and when I got the crazy idea in the first place, I wasn't even certain of what I had to offer the world (if anything). But somehow, it appears my ramblings and writings have managed to move and inspire someone whom I consider to be a great writer as well as a fantastic supporter of writers in general. Thank you, Alana, for choosing to include me in your list of incredible bloggers. It is an honour. Readers, I invite you all to check out Alana's book and blog. You surely won't be disappointed. You can learn more about her at: http://alanamunroauthor.com/
Now, my list for this award is very short, in fact it includes the name of one person. Maybe I'm breaking some rule here, I don't know. But I thought long and hard about who to include, and believe me, there are many choices. But this individual has been a friend, a fantastic writing support and encourager, and he always maintains a respectful and courteous online presence. But best of all, despite some very difficult life circumstances, he always strives to look at the bright side of things, to not let circumstances get him down, and he always puts other people's needs before his own. For these reasons, I nominate Justin Michael Schmidt. You can find his poetry blog at http://poetryofchaos.blogspot.ca/. Please drop him a line and chat him up. You'd be encouraging a wonderful person who does so much to encourage others.
So Justin, now you need to grab the award badge and post it to your blog. You also need to write a wee blog post explaining that you have been nominated for this award by me. Be sure to add my blog URL(http://droppedpebbles.wordpress.com/) so your followers can discover who thinks you are so amazing they just had to nominate you.
Congrats, Justin. You deserve it! :)
Dyane

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Musings About Writer's Block

This is an article about Writer's Block. What follows are only my own thoughts and opinions and are not meant to be taken as The Final Word on the matter. In fact, I'd like to invite others to share their POVs, ideas and experiences, tips and suggestions. The video included here is meant to start off the discussion.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rcKtcXbjwD4

I liked this video. There are a lot of differing opinions on what Writer’s Block is or isn’t. I even had someone write in response to an essay I wrote about my experience with it that Writer’s Block doesn’t exist. I think perhaps the issue is that The Block means different things to different people, or more specifically, that our understanding of its causes and effects differ from person to person. For me, the definition is simple: not being able to write due to lack of inspiration for an extended period of time despite our efforts to remove the block.

In the case of this video, I agree with most of what the speaker says, and I think his solution can work for most people if applied right. But--and this is my opinion--I think this solution might work best in this instance, when our self-critic is overstepping its bounds, rendering us immobile. In effect, not being able to ‘shut off’ that nagging, critical voice.

But what if the causes are more complicated than that? I couldn’t write for 10 years. That's right. 10. Long. Years. For someone who’d always escaped into the sanctuary of a story or a poem to express herself, not being able to access that creative force or being able to express it was like living a slow death. Only the problem wasn’t an overactive inner critic. It was Life. Stress. Our family was navigating some very rough waters at the time, and my soul, for lack of a better word, was squeezed so tight that creative expression was impossible. I’m fairly certain I am not the only person to have ever gone through that. But just because the source of the Block is different doesn’t make our experience invalid or unimportant.

So, what if Life’s not the problem? What if we go back to the example of perfectionism and took it a step further? As artists, we are always putting ourselves out there. Our work is exposed to all, which means we open ourselves up to critique both good and bad. When we relinquish our work it means we are risking failure, risking that someone will hate what we have made. Sometimes, we can be so connected to our work that any negative criticism is taken personally, as though we are no good. Basically, I think our relationship with our work and how we interpret other people’s reactions to it can negatively influence the conclusions we make and, if left unchecked, paralyze us. Maybe then, it's not perfectionism but rather performance anxiety. I think we have to give ourselves permission to fail and to be able to accept failure as part of the growth process. We have to be able to see that failure does not mean we are bad people or that our talent sucks. It just means in that particular moment, we might not have been at our best.

So, what then? Then there’s the choice, isn‘t there? Give up? Or do we reassess, get back on the horse and fix it.  Or, if it can’t be fixed, write something else. But don’t stop. Don’t give in to fear. Don’t let how we think other people see us silence our voices. We are each unique. We all have a Voice for a reason, and the best part is, your voice is your own. If you don’t share it, no one else will.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mirror, Mirror: A New Poem

Yesterday, I met with an old friend whom I hadn't seen in about 8 years. We went out for breakfast and talked for 6 hours straight. It was a weird thing; I couldn't stop talking. It was like, finally, for the first time in ages, I felt like I had connected with someone who was so much like me that I couldn't tear myself away. She said things I had thought in the secrets of my mind, expressed feelings I had never spoken of to anyone else. Yesterday, I found myself reflected in someone else and in the process, I realized I had also found myself. This poem is inspired by that meeting as well as the incredible sense of reconnection with myself which resulted. 

Mirror, Mirror


Today
The stalemate ends.
Today
The inner voices
Cease.
The lies,
The numbing disillusionment,
All of it.
No more.
Never again.

For too long
I forced myself
Into a rigid, unforgiving hole.
Too long,
I denied my truest form,
Denying the expression of my heart 
And my soul.

Lost in darkness,
I was blind.
Directionless
Tripping over the leftover
Souvenirs I was able to find. 
Too afraid to pick them up,
Uncertain of those scary little fragments
I'd long ago left behind.

Now, I have seen 
The Light.
I have remembered 
The Truth.


Now, I open my eyes.

There is a mirror.
She is covered in dust
One inch thick.
My hand shakes as I brush 
It away,
Watch as the grey clumps burst as 
They hit the floor.

Sunrays.
Radiance.
All of it reflected back.

I smile.

Hello
Beautiful, 
Lovely 
Me.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A New Writing Challenge-New Short Story-The Place Where All Things End

Yet another writing experiement, or rather, challenge for me. This story was birthed after a short story I recently read filled me with melancholy and longing, but the tone and style were inspired by two other works I also recently read. One of my writing goals is to write someting that could one day be considered literary, so this represents (to me) a step towards that. The challenge, then, came in the form of using a different voice, tone, style and POV than what I am used to, as well as cutting back on story elements itself. This is bare bones story-telling for me. Hope you enjoy it. 
 



The Place Where All Things End

She met me at the tree-line, just as I was entering the wood. A little girl, youthful and delicate; unflinching innocence beamed at me through her eyes.
I was not surprised to see her there, though she was alone and stood half hidden in shadow. I called her forth. She placed rounded, porcelain fingers in my slightly wrinkled hand and squeezed. A hand hug, only. But the first I had felt in a long, long time.
‘Hello,’ she said, the syllables lilting like notes of a flute.
I smiled, glad to have such pleasant company. “Hello.”
“May I walk with you?”
I nodded. “Certainly.” Then I thought to add, “Do you know where I am going?”
She smiled, pink lips curling on china white skin. “To the place where all things end.”
“And you are not afraid?”
“Are you?”
I faced the wood. Twilight had fallen and cast shadows here and there. Tree boughs creaked and sighed in the passing wind while leaves, drying and curling as Fall neared, twisted in its wake. A forest that once lived and breathed, a former haven for forest dwellers, it was now fast falling asleep. Leaves would soon mat the forest floor in a carpet of crackling brown and yellow. Thick trunks would shrivel and split. The grass would wither.
Soon.
“No,” I said at last, “I am not afraid. Shall we?”
We crossed over into the shadow. Here, the sun did not shine.
“Why do petals fall from a flower?” the girl asked.
I shrugged as I parted tree branches to let us pass. “Because the flower needs water to thrive. When it becomes dry, it withers.”
The girl was silent for some time. The tree-line was fast approaching and soon we would begin the climb up the mountain.
As we set foot at the mountain’s base, the girl tugged at my hand.
“Why have you come alone? Where are your friends? Your family?”
“I have you, don’t I?”
She laughed, the sound ringing like struck crystal. “I don’t count.”
“There is no one,” I said, stumbling over the catch in my throat, “they’ve all gone ahead of me. Or they have all just…gone. I like to think that some are waiting for me.”
The mountain was steep and I found myself breathing hard from exertion. The little girl appeared as fresh as when we had first met. Youth, I thought, remembering.
The top of the mountain rose in the distance, a protrusion of grass covered rock poking into a blue sky dotted with swathes of puffy white clouds. Below, a river rushed. Its raging waters were tipped with froth. The rocks, sharp.
I inhaled and exhaled as I embraced the place where all things ended.
We stood together at the cliff. The wind tugged at my hair, plucking at it like harp strings. A last moment in the sun. Then flight. Soaring. A last, beautiful hurrah.
A last miserable facade.
But a fa├žade was what I needed.
“Is this the only way to get what you seek?”
I looked down at her, into those serious brown eyes. Eyes which seemed to understand me, perhaps better even than I did. Youth was innocent. It believed everything we said. Even lies.
“Yes. This is the only way.” I squeezed her hand. “Will you come with me?”
I bent down, picked a pink wildflower from between the blades of grass and stuck the stem behind her ear. Imitating me, the girl repeated the gesture and then climbed into my arms. She weighted nothing, smelled of nothing.
“We are twins,” she whispered.
She is not real.
“No,’’ I said, ‘we are one and the same.”
The water roared from below, intimidating in its fury yet so attractive in its promise of finality.
“Why do all things end?” the girl asked. Her arms wrapped around my neck. Her face was tucked under my chin.

The wind whipped all around, making my shirt and hair flap as we dropped.
The water shocked the breath from my lungs. It was a coffin of freezing water that encapsulated me.
My arms were empty. The girl was gone.

Why do all things end?

Because they must.
D. Forde (June 2013)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Audio Author Interview by STEEL Magazine

Many thanks to +Ro May and STEEL Magazine for this awesome opportunity. Talking about writing is so exciting. I hope you all enjoy what you see and hear. Just Click on the Purple link below...



https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hU93MMY_eb8




Monday, June 17, 2013

The Purple Morrow Snippet: Clash of the Clansman versus the Beast-Man

What follows is a snippet from my upcoming book, The Purple Morrow. It's taken from Chapter 14, Crossing Paths, where my fabulous men and bitter enemies, Jeru and Kelen, meet for the first time. And yes, they mean to fight.


Some images to stir the imagination...


And...


And lastly...




...

“You were supposed to be on a scouting mission to search out the lay of the land and to discover the strengths and weakness of our enemies. Instead, you have brought me back a woman!”

Olef pointed a grubby finger at the woman. “Not just any woman, Commander. The one we chased through the woods after she escaped.”

“I know who she is, worm!” Kelen shouted. He took a step towards the scouts.

Olef looked at his companion for support. But Gall, who was no fool, read the displeasure in Kelen's face and he only shrugged his shoulders. “It was not my idea,” was all he said.

They are young and inexperienced and probably only wanted to please me and their friends, Kelen thought. But it doesn't excuse that it was a stupid thing to do.

“Olef, have you lost your mind? Secrecy and stealth are our strongest weapons against our enemies. It means we take them by surprise, minimizing our losses and ensuring that our victory is swift and complete. Was she alone, at least?”

“Uh...no,” he answered, drawing out the last word. He shifted his feet, probably realizing where Kelen was taking the conversation. “There was another with her. She-she got away.”

In a flash, Kelen's fist was in the air and swinging in a wide arc before it connected with Olef's chin. “Idiot! Who knows how much time we have before her people come to claim her!”

Olef rubbed his chin. The blow had sent him back two steps, but he still stood on his feet.
“We don’t know that they will. She’s just a woman, after all.”

“She may be just a woman to you, but she may be more than that to someone else.” It was Olly who had spoken. He was seated amongst his brothers in arms and, until then, had remained silent. Though Olly had spoken in his favour, Kelen knew he was watching him, carefully.

“You two,” Kelen said, addressing the scouts, “take her to my tent upstream.”

“But that's almost an hour away,” Olef complained.

Kelen turned on him, his face flushed with anger. “You, in your stupidity, have brought potential calamity on us, so assume the punishment like a man. And if I find you have spoiled her in any way, this may be the last day you lay eyes on the sun. You have failed me once today. Do not fail me again.”

Kelen looked at the woman. Her hair was a tangled mess and her arms and legs scratched and bloody. She had looked similarly the night they had tracked her down in the woods. He blinked, surprised by a stab of remorse. Heat, like the burn of shame, tore through him, and the longer he considered the woman, the more he found he wanted to say he was sorry. He wanted to tell her he was not really the man who had done those terrible things to her and to those she loved. In fact, he even imagined they were in a safe, beautiful place where she was not bound, but sat beside him by her own will, listening to him as he told her of his hurts and regrets. He pictured her reaching out a hand, touching his scarred, ugly face, and telling him none of it mattered, that she understood a man could change. That in fact, she saw he had changed.

“My kin will come for me.” She had managed to work the cloth back from across her mouth again. Her eyes gleamed at him with angry tears. “And when they do, I hope with all my heart they kill you! All of you!” She spat at his feet.

The words were spoken in the rhythmic, soothing tones of the Water Clan language, but its beauty could not shield him from her venom. The force of her hatred washed over him, searing his skin like fire. Kelen's fingers tightened into fists.  

“Olef. Take her now. And make sure she's properly bound. Especially that mouth of hers.”

The scouts obeyed. Once again, the woman was hefted onto Olef's shoulder, and the three of them headed into the woods. Kelen glanced at Olly who was still watching him. The second in command nodded curtly in return, indicating his agreement with how the situation had been handled. Kelen then excused himself and entered the trees in the opposite direction the trio had gone. As he walked, crushing the ferns and struggling saplings underfoot, his thoughts were filled with memory of the captured woman, pondering how strange it was that he felt so much for her, yet he did not even know her name.

****

A little while later, Kelen emerged from the stream, his body scrubbed clean and his mind partially at rest. Raised scars, morbid souvenirs from numerous battles, marked him, winding across his skin like pale snakes. He threw himself onto the grass, grateful that the ground had managed to retain some of the sun’s heat, though it had long passed the tops of the trees on its way west. He breathed slowly and deeply, letting the fresh air enter and leave his body in long, even streams while he rested by the water's edge.

A sudden scattering of some forest animals caught his attention. Immediately alert, Kelen rose to his knees while scanning the tree-line. His eyes still trained on his surroundings, he dressed quickly, but before he could secure his armour, the sound of a footstep reached his ears. He spun around.

There, about twenty feet in front of him, stood a man. His long, black hair was caught up at the nape of his neck, and his green eyes blazed at him like living chunks of emerald. He carried a short sword in each hand.
 
In the few seconds it took for Kelen to take up his axe, he had already assessed his foe. The man was strongly built and was as lithe as a panther. He stood with his weight balanced between his feet, and from the stance alone, Kelen gleaned he was trained in some form of the fighting arts. The man's breathing was steady, unhurried. He grasped his swords comfortably, ready to change grips at a moment's notice. For a moment, Kelen concluded that the coming fight would not be fair. He knew he outweighed the other by at least fifty pounds and that a good, solid blow to the chest or head would quickly end the contest. But as he assessed the look in the other man's eyes, Kelen checked himself. The clansman showed no fear. He is dangerous, either desperate and not caring about his life and is therefore ready to throw it away. Or he is a man that has something to fight for and is willing to do whatever it takes to get it.

 Kelen liked these new odds.

“Beast-man of the North,” the man said in an even tone. He raised his right hand, pointing a sword-tip at him. “I have come to reclaim what you have stolen from me.”

Kelen smiled to himself, satisfied that his hunch had proven correct. He had come for the woman. Was he her husband? Her lover?

Kelen took a moment and formed a response in his mind. He had always been amazed that he could understand the Southernland’s languages and dialects with an ease that surpassed his brethren. To him, accessing the skills needed to understand and to speak to them was like delving into a long-forgotten chest which had suddenly sprung open, revealing its secrets to him.

“What have I...stolen...from you?” he asked with only a little difficulty.

The man advanced a step. “A woman. She was taken from our woods. I want her back.”

Nonchalant, Kelen lifted and dropped his shoulders. Then he swept a hand in a semi-circle, indicating they were the only ones in the area. “There is no woman here.”

The black-haired man advanced a few steps more, his sword still pointed towards Kelen. “You are a liar. I know she was taken by your people. You will return her to me.”

“Ah, yes. I seem to remember the face of a pretty, new slave. I was thinking she might make a good wife.”

“Release her to me!”

The Rover laughed. “If you want her, you will have to go through me.”

A thin, mean smile carved itself across the clansman's face, and his eyes glittered. Green eyes, Kelen realized with some surprise. He did not have long to consider this, as the man flicked his wrists, propelling the swords into a series of arcs. The blades split the air with sharp sighs as they spun.

Kelen felt the thrill of the impending clash pulsing through his veins. He lifted his axe into position.

Yes, he liked these new odds very, very much.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Presenting 'Big Boy', my newest short story experiment.



Well, thanks to a certain Glendon Perkins, who so graciously provided me with a writing prompt today, I decided to try my hand at a story genre that is different to what I normally write. What follows is, I guess, a mix of the suspense and spy-mystery genres. Whether it is or not, I had a blast writing this and I hope you all enjoy reading it. The prompt was: Burgundy, mycotoxins, manhunt.






Big Boy

Phase one: get the hell out of Section.

Burgundy checked to make sure the guards were out cold before sticking his head out the interrogation room door. Only the sound of the straining air conditioning units echoed through the barren hall. Though he heard no oncoming footsteps, Burgundy knew he wasn’t safe. A dozen cameras dotted the ceiling, each one swinging back and forth and timed to provide maximum coverage. Picturing them in his mind, he closed the door softly behind him and slunk down the darkened corridor, pausing only long enough to turn his body this way and that in order to elude the all-seeing cameras.

Burgundy’s rubber soled boots made almost no sound as he went. They were steel-toed, his favourite. Good for hammering and whacking.

His gun weighed heavy in his right hand.

When he turned the corner, the glowing Exit sign beckoned in the darkness. Freedom awaited him three flights down and past the main guard station.

No, not freedom. At least, not entirely. He’d be free to clear his name, free to pay back the bastards who had pinned all this mycotoxin crap on him. But he’d never be free. No one ever escaped Section.

At the landing, Burgundy crossed the concrete floor and eased open the door. Seeing no one around, he slipped into the hall. Fluorescent lights hummed overhead, and from the guard station a way’s off came the agitated rhythms of rock music.

So far so good, though he didn’t quite understand why the alarms hadn’t yet gone off. It’d been about what, five, maybe eight minutes since he’d broken out? Surely someone must have noticed that Breaker and Road Kill hadn’t checked in, which was a breech of protocol. Didn’t matter. When it happened, he’d deal with it then. He always did.

Burgundy hugged the wall with his back to hide himself as best he could. He held his gun, Big Boy, in a comfortable grip. A few paces later, the wire-meshed guard station came into view. Two agents were seated at a table inside, too busy talking, laughing, and stuffing their faces with chips and soda to notice the cameras in front of them, let alone a fugitive stalking the halls. Burgundy smiled. Easy pickings. A plan of attack formed in his mind and he squatted down at the hallway juncture to await his chance. The last thing he wanted was shoot the gun inside. The noise would be deafening, not to mention attract every agent sequestered behind some of these non-descript closed doors. Besides, though he couldn’t stand the other Section agents, they were just foot soldiers, like him. Burgundy squeezed the grip a little, enjoying its feel in the palm of his hand. Oh, no. Asswipes like them didn’t deserve Big Boy. He was reserved for the Top Dog.

For the Director.

From where he was, he could see the rounded top of the red emergency phone, the one used in situations that required the Director’s intervention. Burgundy squeezed the gun’s grip again, wondering if anyone would be calling the Director tonight.

“Road Kill’s been quiet for a while. You think something’s up?” he heard one of the agents say. The voice sounded like Steve‘s. It figured that idiot would be on tonight. “That guy has no respect for protocol. Always tying up the radio to talk about the most stupid things. Last week, it was to talk about the Cup. Like we need to be talking about hockey when frigging Bald Burgundy’s on the loose!”

Was on the loose,” the other, an unknown, corrected him. “Road Kill and Breaker are with him now, working him over a little before taking him in for Processing. Heard the guy was a real bitch to take down. Bobby said it took four agents.”

Five, Burgundy corrected, ignoring the reviled addition of Bald to his moniker while flashing a self-satisfied grin. He’d taken them all out too, except that last guy. The bruise on the back of his head from a metal chair was proof of it.

“I believe it. Baldy’s a beast, man. You don’t want to mess with him. 6’5”of nothing but muscle and brawn. Good thing he’s not too smart. That’s what’ll get him in the end.”

“And that gun of his. You ever see anything like it?” The unknown agent’s voice cracked a little with uncertainty.

Steve scoffed. “500 Smith and Wesson Magnum? Hell no, especially not these days when revolvers are practically an extinct breed of gun. Stunners and blasters do the job just fine and make less mess. The man’s old-school. Same age as us but has different ideas about things like weapons tech. I mean, who would want to fire something like that anyway? It‘d blow your bloody ear drums right out!”

“Same guy who decided to call himself Burgundy.” The agent laughed. Burgundy was pleased to notice that Steve did not.

The two had met on the night Burgundy joined the team. As with all the recruits, his memory had been wiped and each one had to choose a code name for himself. The break room was filled with guys smoking Kill-Sticks, taking shots of Jack and trading war-stories until the subject of code names came up. Steve had asked him what he wanted to be called.

“Burgundy,” he said. The other guys just stared at him. A few broke out in tentative laughter.

Steve leaned towards him from across the table. He set his empty shot glass down. “What the hell kind of name is Burgundy?”

“It’s the name I want. What’s it matter to you?”

“Cuz that’s a stupid name. It’s weak.”

“Ain’t a damn thing weak about it.” That’s when he’d laid Big Boy on the table. It hit the wood tabletop with a thud. Shiny steel glinted in the light of the naked bulb hanging from the ceiling.

“Shit!”

“What the--!”

Suddenly, no one was laughing.

No one, except Steve. “Man, Burgundy, if ever I was sure you were lacking in a certain department, that gun just proved it.”

A second later, Steve lay on his ass, his face contorted and a hand covering a bloody mouth. Burgundy’s bruised knuckles hummed pleasantly with pain. Steve’s lip never did heal right, and to this day, his speech was a little slurred. He’d kept the name ‘Burgundy’ to piss Steve off. Steve had added Bald to piss Burgundy off more.

“Shut up, Akon” Steve practically hissed. “You don’t want that beast on your back. Trust me.”

“You think he did it?”

“What? Contaminate the President’s speech notes with mycotoxins? Please! Like I said, the guy is muscle and brawn, like an ox. Just doesn’t have the brains, the connections or the finesse to pull off that kind of operation.”

“And if he had help?”

“That’s definitely a possibility, which is why Road Kill and Breaker are prepping him for Processing. How long has it been since their last check-in, anyway?”

“Fifteen minutes.”

“Radio them.”

Burgundy heard the static crackling through the speakers. After a few tries, Steve shoved his chair back. “Something’s wrong. That moron, Road Kill, should have checked in by now, if only to see about ordering supper. Go check it out. I’ll check the cameras.”

Keys jiggled in the lock and the cage door grated on its hinges as it opened. Burgundy waited until Akon turned back to lock it. Then he sprung.

In three strides he crossed the space between them. Burgundy rammed Akon in the back with his shoulder, sending him crashing into the wire mesh. The agent’s breath gushed from his chest in a loud “Ooof!” before he bounced off and slid to the ground. Burgundy bent at the knees, yanked the agent off the floor to punch him the face. Akon’s eyes rolled back in his head and his body went limp. Burgundy released him, letting the man crumple to the floor in a heap.

Steve already had his hands in the air when Burgundy turned to face him. Backed up against the console, there was no where for him to run.

“Open Gate 1.”

“You know I can’t, Burgundy. You’re a fugitive. The second you step out that door, even if you make it to the Main Gate, you know they’ll be a manhunt on for you. Anyway, how are you supposed to make it from here to the Main? You wouldn’t make it ten steps before you were shot down by a sniper.”

True. When they’d caught him, Section had stripped him of his uniform. The gray sweat shirt and pants were a dead giveaway.

Dammit, he should have thought of that! His eyes narrowed as he looked at Steve. No brains, eh? He’d show him.

“Get undressed.”

Steve shook his head. “It won’t work.”

“You’re not that much smaller than I am.”

“And the eye scan at the Main Gate? How do you plan on beating it?”

Double dammit! Another variable he hadn’t thought of. He’d just deal with it when the time came.
Burgundy took a step towards Steve. “Just gimme your damn clothes and gear before I decide to take your head with me to get past that scan!”

The men traded clothing. Burgundy watched the other man’s every movement in case he decided to do something that would justify his head being separated from his body. He didn’t.

“You know, not that it matters to you, but I know you didn’t do it.”

Burgundy buttoned the uniform shirt and then fit Steve’s cap onto his smooth, round head. “I know. I overheard you and the other guy. Thanks.” While tucking the blue shirt into his pants, he thought to ask a question that had been bugging him for ages. “By the way, why’d you choose Steve? Not much of a code name if you ask me.”

Steve nearly gaped at him. “It’s cuz of Steve McQueen. Dude’s a bad-ass, man.”

A slight smile creased Burgundy`s lips. If that guy was Steve McQueen then he was Dirty Harry, on steroids. “So you know a little something about being ‘old school’, huh?”

The room was cold. Burgundy nodded at the other agent, allowing Steve to get a blanket from the supply closet to wrap himself in. When he was done, he said, “You know I’m going to have to report you.”

Burgundy picked Big Boy off the table beside him. He flipped the piece over in his hand so that the handle faced the agent. “You know this is going to hurt like hell, right?”

Steve looked him straight in the eye. “Yeah.”

Burgundy settled Steve’s body in his chair, facing the console. Then he dragged Akon’s body into the cage and set him in the other one. Burgundy took the key from the agent’s hand, locked the door behind him and then dropped it in the nearest garbage can.

Phase 1 was almost complete. He just needed a plan to get past the Main. And then he’d be free.

No, not really free. No one escaped Section. But he’d bee free to begin Phase 2: clear his name.

And unleash hell on those who’d destroyed his life.



Friday, June 14, 2013

The Gifts of Critiquing

I came up with the idea for this post after my last my last one on Reviewing and Critiquing sort of exploded in a flurry of responses on G+ and this blog. Most of the comments were positive yet there was some debate. And that’s fine. Debate is healthy and everyone is allowed to have his or her own point of view and is free to share them. The purpose of this post is not to address any one of those comments specifically, but is more of a general response to the issue of writing and how we get from one place of skill and ability to another in regards to the role and import of reviewing/critiquing each other’s work. The issue got me heated up, like emotional. This surprised me. I mean, reviewing and critiquing aren’t emotional tasks. They’re analytical, involving critical thinking, right? But the more I considered the subject and let my fingers fly over the keys as I responded to comments, the more I started to connect with what writing means to me. I started to think about the journey I took to get here.

I started writing at a young age (6 years old) and did it simply because I loved it. Knowing how to put words together on a page in a way that entertained and communicated with people, just made sense to me. No one taught me, I just did it. I was also a voracious reader. Always had a book in one hand and two or three others tucked away in a pocket or schoolbag or something. As the years went by, I improved and wrote whatever I could, poems, short stories, plays, whatever. Still, all that history doesn’t mean that I got to where I am now by myself. Granted, I am not published by a publishing house, but based on the feedback I have had from publishers (one I turned down and the other refused my two books because they weren’t publishing fantasy at the time) and other good writers, I think I could be. Having a family and a fulltime job doesn’t make it any easier to commit a lot of time to querying and all that as I would like. I’ve sacrificed enough family time as it is just to get to where I am today.

But back to the point of this post. There was a span of about 10 years where I couldn’t write at all. Totally blocked. Not even a decent line or two of poetry, which used to flow out of me like water. By God’s grace, though, about three years ago that plug popped and I’ve been writing non-stop ever since. But I needed help. Whatever innate talent I may have had was still there, as were whatever fundamentals of the craft I had developed over the years, but I needed more. Support and encouragement. I needed to challenge myself and to be challenged. I even needed to hear those brutally harsh (but true) words (you know, the ones that make you want to hide under your chair and swear never write another word again!). The road was difficult but I regard each step as well worth it. Each one is a gift I received from being critiqued as well as being able to critique.  

Writing is a process of constantly improving, so by no means to I delude myself by thinking I have ‘made it.’ However, I can say that these last few years have enabled me to have the confidence to write what I want the way I want. I feel free to take chances and to try new things. I’m still reading articles, still testing myself in different genres and styles, as well as still critiquing other people’s work and receiving it. It all helps. Not to mention that I feel enriched by having engaged with other writers, which usually generates a kind of addictive synergy as well as renews my love of writing.

Anyway, there’s my ramble for the day. I’d love to hear feedback or comments. J

Have a great one.

Dyane

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Purple Morrow is almost here!!

Seeing as my first book, an adult fantasy called The Purple Morrow, will be coming out soon, I thought I would start posting snippets and reviews and whatnot. 

THE BLURB:

The Rovers had been sent to decimate the Southernlands. Instead they awoke its saviour.

 

Ten years have passed since the Rover army tore through the Southernlands, leaving behind a trail of devastation and death. Most believed the attacks were random acts of brutality. The wise, however, knew the truth: the Rovers sought to destroy the one thing powerful enough to thwart their conquest. They were searching for the Papilion. 

A new commander bent on completing the mission left unfinished by their predeccesors, leads the Rovers back into the Southernlands. Fierce and determined, he comes armed with a precious artefact and a secret purpose. 

While the Southernlands reel under the new terror, the Purple Morrow, harbinger of hope, appears to Jeru, an unsuspecting and solitary clan hunter. Finding himself enmeshed in a series of incredible events beyond his control, Jeru is compelled to take the first steps towards discovering his ultimate destiny.


Here's what one reader said...

*What a sad beginning. I got the sense that there is more to come, the eerie feeling just prior to (spoiler) and the woman who appeared at the end of the chapter. This is very well written. The mystery is subtle, but powerful. The dialogue flows effortlessly and your characters appear real. Well done and high starred. I hope to get back and read more.
MC'


Someone else said...

'I enjoyed this first chapter. You're story-telling technique is attentive and emotional. You're a natural! This couple in (spoiler) is realistic and romantic. I didn't even know (spoiler) until the end. I I will definitely read on, but wanted to take the time to comment before I get sucked in again. lol'


Tune in for more!!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Critiquing. How do you feel about it?

Here’s a question: How you feel about reviewing/critiquing/editing someone else’s work in the alpha or beta stages? I ask the question because next to writing, it’s one of the things I enjoy doing the most. I find it exciting and inspiring, not to mention I feel humbled by the fact that someone chose to trust me with their work. Not only can I actually help and support another writer by providing respectful yet helpful feedback, it’s an important tool for me to learn to think critically about written work, how to analyse it in its parts, both of which can then lead to developing strategies to improve a piece. Also, I know I will somehow apply what I have learned to my own writing. In the end, I see the ability to edit/critique/review other people’s writing as invaluable learning tools which can have a positive effect on both the person being reviewed as well as myself.

So I was just wondering how others felt about it and if anyone had an experience, good or bad, to share…?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

'The Eagle's Gift' is my heart and soul. One day I'll see it in print. Here is a section of chapter 1

The Eagle's Gift: A Fairy Tale

Chapter 1 (part 1)

From the realm of the clouds, the Eagle King looked past his great, curved beak to the face of the earth. He observed the familiar patches of blue, green and brown below with the greatest of interest. From where he was, circling high above and cradled by warm currents of pristine air, the world should appear peaceful, calm. But this was not so. Terryl blinked, pained at what he did see. The land was ragged, haggard, abused. In places, the earth had been torn up, exposing its bowels of rock, tree roots and dirt for all to see. In other places, entire lakes had been turned green or brown from filth, their surfaces lined with stinking scum. No fish or other aquatic creatures lived there any longer and all the surrounding grasses had withered away or turned to swamp. Laying over it all was a thin layer of shadow, making the world appear dusky, like twilight. 

More like the skulking form of a spectre.

Men had done this. Fuelled by hatred and fear of their neighbours, they had scorched the earth with pollution and war machines, heaping insult and injury on the land as well as on their enemies. As he flew above, Terryl could sense the spirit of the earth writhing, and he was struck by an unshakable impression that time was running out. After all, how much more could it endure before humans strangled its essence from existence? 

Having reached the end of his tour of the outlying lands, Terryl turned and began to fly back to Eagle’s Perch. The wind turned cold now that he was heading north, and it grazed against him, as cold as tempered metal. Above him, the sun shone, but even its golden rays could not fully penetrate the strange darkness that seemed to pervade the land. Worse, the shadow seemed to be darkening.

At last, the green, fertile lands of his domain, one of the few to remain untouched by the growing chaos, came into view. With a twinge of guilt, Terryl sighed with contentment. He circled around the Perch a few times, allowing the watchmen to take note of his arrival, and once satisfied that all appeared in order in the kingdom, he turned towards his aerie, also known as the Throne Aerie. It was a large but simple affair, made up of twisted, interlocking tree branches with leaves and mud tucked into the spaces, and it was perched in the crook of Eagle Land’s highest mountain, near its peak. Below, dotting the rest of the rocky ranges that jutted out from the earth, were found the many aeries which comprised the city of Eagle’s Perch. Cool spring air buffeted them relentlessly as it tore through the mountainous peaks, while dark thunder clouds threatened to unleash their cold, wet burden. Terryl looked up in surprise. He hadn’t noticed the clouds gathering for a storm. 

When he landed in the Throne Aerie, he had only enough time to dip his head to tuck in a few stray feathers on his breast with his beak before Lorin, his chief adviser, suddenly dropped into the nest.  

 “My lord, a few words, if you will?” He was breathing hard from exertion. A group of lesser advisors and a few scouts soon also arrived at the aerie after Lorin, and they also waited at its edges until they were bidden to approach.  

“I have only just returned, Lorin. Can it not wait until I have refreshed myself? In fact, you also appear to be in need of some refreshing. What has caused you to behave with such hastiness?” Terryl gestured beside him at a hollowed out section of a tree stump where water from that morning’s dew had gathered. “Please, take some.”

“Forgive me, my lord,” Lorin said, shaking his head in refusal while backing up a pace. He ducked his beak towards his chest and averted his eyes. “I hope you do not think me impetuous, only I have only been anticipating your return for some time now.”

Terryl sighed. For Lorin to have behaved in such an uncharacteristic fashion, he knew that whatever troubled him must be important. He also felt compassion for him, understanding that Lorin’s pride of discretion and temperance must have made this an embarrassing scene for him. Terryl gestured with his wing, indicating that Lorin should enter the presence of his king. The advisor obeyed, and was followed by the small group of lesser advisors and scouts. They bowed before Terryl and then took their places at a respectful distance behind Lorin. King Terryl greeted the new arrivals with a nod. 

“Master Lorin, you do not need to fear speaking your mind with me. I am your king, but I am also your friend of many, many years. Have we not earned these old, fraying feathers together?“

Lorin looked up, his eyes wide with horror. “Do not say such a thing, my lord! It is unthinkable that my king should suffer old and frayed feathers! Your groomsman should be ashamed to allow it!”

Terryl laughed. “Ah, Lorin. You never did have much of a sense of humour. You always see things clearly, as they truly are whether for the good or for the bad. I suppose that is what makes you an excellent advisor. I am ready now, old friend. Speak your mind.”

Lorin took a moment to settle himself after his outburst. “The world of humankind is dying, my lord,” he stated at last in a grave voice.  “If the humans expire--”

“I know,” Terryl said, interrupting. “It is true my weekly tour of our lands and of those neighbouring ours took longer than expected. However, the ravages to the earth grow increasingly extensive, requiring that I fly farther out each time. Today, I saw that the damage has almost reached the land of Nardin. I have always expected this to happen, only not this soon. It is quite troubling. Not only that, but something even more unsettling is transpiring, something I have never before seen. Have you noticed the haze?”

“Do you mean the layer of darkness that is spreading across the lands? Yes, this is what I was hastening to tell you. There are reports it is coming from Lozera.“ Those who had not known the news broke out in a flurry of exclamations.

“Lozera did you say?” Terryl’s voiced voice rose over the chattering.

“Yes, my lord. It was confirmed by the scouts.”

“This is not good news, Lorin.”

Everyone was silenced by Terryl's statement. One by one, Terryl called on the scouts to share their reports concerning the troubles affecting the lands. Each report brought new depths of concern to the listeners. Eagle heads bobbed up and down with excitement, and squeaks and squawks could be heard punctuating the sound of the wind as it blew around the peaks of the Perch. Through it all, Terryl could sense their eyes on him, each of them eager to know how their king would respond. Would he finally act to save mankind in their time of need? But Terryl was not easily swayed by the expectations of others, and he dismissed the questions he knew they were asking from his mind. With an air of detachment he did not truly feel, he held his peace while carefully considering all the reports presented by the advisors and scouts. When he was satisfied, he indicated that Lorin should speak. 

The adviser obliged. “As you know, Lystra is slowly wasting away from drought, and Orleans is nearly destroyed by civil war. Aside from Nardin, these are the only two realms populated by humans, and they are closest to us. There is little doubt that their troubles will soon breach our borders. Not to mention that the haze as you call it, sire, has been gathering for some time. I am afraid that if it is not stopped soon, it will consume us all.”

“I have only just seen it for the first time.”

“That is because it seems to have originated in Lozera.”

Lorin’s gaze met Terryl’s. “I see,” said the king. He did not add that he hadn’t known about the haze’s origins for the simple reason that he never went near that city, a fact they were both aware of. But the unspoken fact hung in the air between them. 

Terryl returned his attention to the subject at hand. Both Lystra and Orleans were heavily populated, and at one time, wealthy Western kingdoms. The former had been rich in farming, while the latter had been a commercial centre, providing the neighbouring kingdoms with grain, textiles and lumber. He knew the world of men would be devastated by the losses of these important cities.  

Terryl turned aside, away from the watching eyes of those gathered to allow him the privacy to think. Evil was spreading from nation to nation like a plague, weakening even the strongest kingdoms. Only a very few noble cities still stood against its onslaught, but for how much longer? 

Evil. Humans could not know of its true origin, but he did. In fact, he knew the enemy’s face very well, for they had vied against each other many times in the past until his foe had finally prevailed. It was because Terryl had faltered that evil now ran rampant across the earth. It was his fault, yet he was bound against doing anything to cure it. He could only endure the consequences of his failure. He was an impotent king. 

No, not entirely impotent. A bold, new idea had been germinating for some time, and in response to the fingers of despair which had begun to creep into his thoughts, it broke through to the forefront of his mind. Inspired, Terryl turned to face the eagles. “Friends, what the world needs now is hope. We have observed these unlucky events unfold long enough. The time for watching and waiting past; it is time to act. If someone could be found who can restore hope to humankind, perhaps then, the world could endure.” 

Lorin looked off into the distance while he considered the statement. Eagle’s Land was still relatively unmarred by the darkness. From the Throne Aerie, the whole of it was displayed, from the roiling green sea in the east, to the red, sandy beach abutting it, to the wild, green plains that seemed to stretch on forever to the north. He seemed to find particular pleasure in observing the rolling beauty of the valleys in the west, stained green with lush vegetation, and the aged forests which on sunny days rang with the songs of birds. He sighed softly, but to Terryl who knew his friend well, the expelled breath seemed a manifestation of his growing fatigue. When the adviser spoke, the hollowness of his voice confirmed the impression. “But who could this person be? Why has he not already shown himself?”

Concerned, Terryl observed Lorin, finally deciding that the two must meet privately. He trusted and relied on his chief adviser implicitly, and it was unthinkable that he should fall into despair. More than that, the possibility that the fingers of hopelessness should finally reach his own people was unnerving. 

“It is likely he is not even aware of his potential. He must be found and he must be convinced.” 

The adviser nodded slowly, obviously still evaluating the proposed plan. “I perceive you have some idea as to where this person might be found.” His tone made the statement sound like a question. 

“Nardin,” Terryl answered without hesitation. Lorin looked at him, surprise evident in his eyes. Terryl explained, “It was once one of the world's most beautiful realms, and though it is on the brink of destruction, the world still looks to it as a beacon of hope. As long as it stands, hope remains.”

“To Nardin then.” Lorin nodded again, slowly, as though trying to convince himself that this was the most logical plan of action. He glanced at his king, whose massive figure was strong, immovable, and suddenly the adviser’s eyes regained their usual lustre. He turned briskly to the scouts and said, “Go and learn what you can of how the kingdom fares. Be wary and be wise. The fate of the world may depend on what news you bring back to your king.” 

The team of five bowed, then took to the air and was gone. Terryl took Lorin aside to a quiet corner of the aerie where they talked together for a long time.

D. Forde (2011, revised 2013)