Friday, January 31, 2014

A Writer's Week #101: Visions--Past & Present

This week had a lot to do with visions. No, I was not hallucinating, but I did see a lot of interesting things. First of all, I received the almost completed cover illustration for The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang. That was really cool. Illustrator Daniel Vogel and his mother, graphic designer Ana Vogel, have done a
fantastic job as usual. I've been looking at it all week and just marveling at the depth.

It's a big change from the original pencil sketch that Dan sent for my approval a couple of months ago. Since then, I've watched it evolve into what I received this week. All it needs is a little sparkle added to the mist and it will be complete. Once it's done, Ana will add the titles and the cover will be set. I'm getting excited! I can't show you the whole thing yet, but I will share just a bit. I added the Deliverers Series title, but that's not the way it will be on the final cover.

This week I also had to envision the past. I'm at the point in the Deliverers 4 where Eric and the others are sent back in time by the Gatekeeper. It was more challenging than I anticipated because Eric's hometown of Candlewood Corners, CT is loosely based on a combination of the town where I live and the town where I grew up, which was the site of the only battle of the Revolution fought in Connecticut. It was difficult trying to envision what the towns must have looked like
during the time of the American Revolution. Talk about a brain exercise! Seeing the colonial Candlewood Corners through Eric's eyes was very interesting. When this book is done, I don't think I'll ever look at my town the same way.

I got a lot of writing done. I wrote over 2,700 words, which brings the total for book four to more than 5,000 words over three chapters and 24 pages. In the coming week, I hope to receive the finished cover art for book three and to continue work on book four. Once I get the final cover, I'll start work on the book trailer. I've got a couple ideas for that, but I still have to sit down and do the storyboard. I'll let you know how that goes next week!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Deliverers 3 Preview #2

A couple of weeks ago I shared the beginning of chapter one of The Golden Dragon of Ang. I also posted the book blurb for the back cover. Tonight I'm going to share another piece of the book. I'd love to hear what you think about it! Here you go.

Kang turned from the view of the river and slowly surveyed the hilltop in the moonlight. Finally he squared his shoulders and strode to the middle of the summit. There, embedded in the ground was a large, flat, oblong stone.
“Is that it?” Hallo asked, squinting at the stone skeptically. “I’ve seen a ton o’ stone in my time an’ I’m certain that ain’t been touched by anyone before. It’s laid there nat’ral like.”
“As I said, the Denchi are cunning,” Kang replied. “They may have tunneled right up to the stone without disturbing it. If they needed to evacuate, all that would have to be done is to push up the stone to exit.”
“That’d be a smart bit o’ tunnelin’, don’t ya know,” Hallo said, kneeling down by the slab of rock. He put his ear to it and rapped smartly with his knuckles. “Huh, I think you’re right, though. It sounds hollow.”
“How can you tell?” Stig asked.
“I growed up underground, an’ spent all m’ time in tunnels,” Hallo replied indignantly. “If anyone can tell if one’s nearby it’d be me.”
“Very well, if both of you are correct, then it appears we have found a means of entry,” Stig said, ruffling his feathers. “The thing that remains is how to get in.”
“That shall not be a problem,” Kang said. He squatted down and began feeling around the edges of the rock.
“Hey you’re strong, but I ain’t about t’ believe you can lift that whole hunk o’ stone by yourself,” Hallo said.
Kang grasped a corner of the slab. Muscles straining, the former Denchi rose slowly from his squat, the rock lifting with him. With a grunt, he raised one end up above his head. Below the stone was a dark hole. “In. Hurry,” he gasped.
Hallo and Stig entered hurriedly, and Kang followed behind. Once they were inside the tunnel, Kang let the slab down. It settled above them with a loud thump.
“It feels good t’ be underground,” Halo whispered. “Ya know m’ motto, it’s always better underground. Only problem is I can’t see nothin’ in this pitch black, don’t ya know.”
“Don’t worry Hallo, I’ll lead you,” Stig reassured him.
They made their way slowly down the tunnel, Stig, then Kang, with Hallo bringing up the rear. It sloped steeply. After a couple hundred yards Hallo felt stone replace the dirt underneath his feet.
“Ah it feels good t’ be in a stone passage, don’t ya know,” he sighed.
“Yes, I’m sure it does,” Stig whispered. “What I would like to know is where this leads. We seem to be descending into the center of the hill. I wonder how close we are to the Denchi outpost. It would be most unpleasant to run into any of them unawares.”
Kang remained silent. With his night vision, Stig saw that the big man’s face gave no hint as to what he was thinking. They kept moving until they came to a fork in the tunnel. Stig stopped them.
“The path splits in two here,” he told them. “I’ve no idea which is the better path.”
Kang stepped forward and ran his hands along the wall, then put his ear to it, listening intently.
“What’re we standin’ here for?” Hallo grumped. “Let’s pick a branch and follow it.”
“Silence!” Kang hissed. Finally, he pointed to the left hand passage. “We go this way.”
“Which way? I can’t see a thing in this blackness!” Hallo snapped.
“Kang’s pointing to the left Hallo,” Stig informed him.
“Why do ya want t’ go that way?” Hallo asked.
“The stones in that tunnel are silent. Nothing stirs,” Kang explained. “Something is disturbing the rock in the other passage.”
“Oh, well why didn’t ya say so?” Hallo snorted. “Quiet rocks are better than noisy ones. Let’s get a move on.”
As they walked, it seemed to Stig that the passageway was becoming lighter. His suspicion was confirmed by Hallo. “Hey, I think it’s gettin’ brighter in here. I can almost see m’ hand in front o’ m’ face.”
“I wonder where the light is coming from,” Stig mused. “It seems to have a bluish hue to it.”
“We must be cautious,” Kang whispered. “Where there is light, there must be people.”
They discovered the source of the light when they turned the next corner. The passage was blocked by a large wooden door. Lined along the tunnel walls leading up to the door were ten finely detailed statues of warriors carved out of stone. They sparkled with a blue light.
When Kang caught sight of this, he stopped. “I do not like this,” he murmured. “Something is not right.”
“Ah, what are ya worried about?” Hallo asked. “They’re only statues, very pretty ones, too. The stonework is first rate. I wonder what makes ‘em sparkle like that?”
“It appears they are guarding the door,” Stig said. “Obviously ceremonial. The room ahead must be of some significance. Perhaps it’s a tomb.”
Just then, the stone warriors turned toward them. Moving in unison, all ten of them drew curved swords.
“Er, I’m a thinkin’ they ain’t just decorative, don’t ya know,” Hallo said, licking his lips.
“I am not familiar with this magic,” Kang said. “Linphen must have discovered something new. Stay behind me, we shall see just how strong this sorcery is.”
Without waiting for a reply, Kang rushed headlong into the midst of the stone soldiers. He grabbed one and raised it above his head. Stig marveled at the big man’s strength as he hurled it into the midst of the other onrushing stone figures, knocking several off their feet and scattering their weapons.
Hallo rushed in and seized a sword. He sprang at the soldier nearest him with a fierce cry, and swung the sword down on it. The sparkling weapon cleaved the stone like butter, slicing the warrior in half. The two halves fell to the floor, their light extinguished.
Kang picked up the fallen soldier’s sword and started swinging, relieving two figures of their heads with one blow. Hallo continued his attack, felling two more.
“Hey, these swords ‘re great things,” he panted. “They cut through stone as easy as scissors cuttin’ paper, don’t ya know.”
“You’re right,” Stig said. “Imagine what they would do against flesh and bone.”
“Why’d ya have t’ say that, ya daft bird?” Hallo snapped. “You’re gonna make me nervous. These rockheads ‘re dangerous.”
With that, he leaped back into the fray, slashing away with his sparkling sword. Stig swooped in and attacked the heads of the stone men, trying to distract them. Any hope that he could do them some injury was dashed when he pecked one and nearly broke his beak on its rocky face.
Kang and Hallo had dispatched two more of them. Two of the remaining soldiers went after Hallo while the last lurched toward the door.
“He’s tryin’ t’ get help!” 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Between the Lines: Phileas Fogg

This week, Between the Lines is back with a fun interview with the accomplished world traveler, Phileas Fogg. He spent the last 80 days traveling around the world on a bet. I see him now just landing in a hot air balloon. Hello Phileas, how was your journey?

Fogg:  A might chilly I must say. it gets colder the higher up one goes, but I must say it's a simply splendid mode of transport.

Greg:  Did you really travel around the world in that contraption?

Fogg:  Oh heavens no. You see as part of my wager I had to use exclusively earth-bound means of conveyance. No, it's only since I've returned that I have had my head in the clouds so to speak.

Greg:  Oh I see. This bet that you made, what were the terms exactly?

Fogg:  I made the wager with the fellows down at the Reform Club--er, that's a club for world travelers, naturalists and explorers, not a school for miscreant youths. I made the statement that I could circumnavigate the globe in 80 days by ship, rail and any other means of grounded travel that I could dig up. My friends at the club thought I was balmy and wagered 20,000 pounds that I could not do it. Well, that was quite a tidy sum back in those days, so naturally I leapt at the opportunity.

It was only after I had left the club that I began to wonder exactly how I was going to accomplish the feat. Naturally, I hurried to the railway station to obtain a schedule.

Greg:  So you accepted the bet without really knowing if going around the world in 80 days was really possible?

Fogg:  Er, um yes. Sounds rather daft when you phrase it like that doesn't it?

Greg:  I'm sorry, I wasn't making fun. It just  seemed a little rash. Are you a risk taker?

Fogg:  Well now that's the truly amazing thing. Up until the moment I accepted the wager I would have said no, definitely not. I am normally very calm and rational by nature. In fact, some might say that I am too rigid. I don't know about that, but I am extremely precise. Mathematics is my passion, if one can be passionate about such things. Normally I would have charted out my course, check rail and steamer itineraries and so forth before stating it was possible. For some reason, though, I leapt before I looked this time. I daresay that in the end I was glad I did.

Greg:  It certainly seems that you landed on your feet in the end. Did you travel alone?

Fogg:  No, my faithful servant Passepartout accompanied me the entire way. I daresay I would not have made my journey in the allotted time without his assistance. It was he that informed me I had arrived home in time rather than a day late as I had first thought, you see.

Greg:  You had many adventures along the way. What was the most thrilling for you?

Fogg:  That is a poser. Hmmm, let me see.  Of course being mistaken for a bank robber and being pursued by that inspector Fix for most of the journey was quite difficult. I think rescuing and finally marrying the fair damsel Aouda would have to be the most thrilling aspect of the journey. Yes, quite thrilling indeed.

Greg:  Well, well, I guess it would be, wouldn't it? Thank you so much for spending some time with us today. It really was most enlightening.

Fogg:  The pleasure was all mine, I'm sure. Now if you'll excuse me, I really must get back. Passepartout will be putting the kettle on for tea shortly and I really can't be late, simply no excuse for it. Ta, ta!

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Writer's Week #100: Doing What I Love Best

Boy, I really feel good this week. Finally, after months of preparation, research and one false start I was able to get back to doing what I love best--write. The Deliverers 4 is now well and truly underway. This week, I wrote the first 2,336 words of the latest installment of the Deliverers Series. That's the prologue and most of chapter one in 11 pages.

I had originally started with Eric having a dream, which I've done in two of the first three books, but it just did not feel right. Instead, I used a scene I'd envisioned as chapter three as a prologue and it worked really well to set things up. It also made it easier for me to introduce other background elements in the first chapter.

So, all in all I'm really pleased with the way things have begun and I'm really feeling energized. I'm looking forward to getting Eric into the Hallway of Worlds and sending him and Stig, Kate and Hallo back in time to the American Revolution. Now that I've found the right angle, I'm excited.

During my research I discovered a plausible motivation for the British General who commanded the forces
that marched inland into Connecticut in 1777 to take things a step further than he actually did. It was a little eerie, actually, but it convinced me I was on the right track. More on this next week.

Things remain status quo for The Golden Dragon of Ang. Waiting for artwork and layout is always tough, but I know from experience that artist Daniel Vogel and layout wizard Ana Vogel will come through with a fantastically designed and illustrated finished product. Waiting--not my strongest trait.  We're on track for the book to be released in a little over a month! Hopefully I'll have an update for you shortly!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Bit of Fun #1

Good evening all! I tell you, this winter thing is getting old fast. Today in my little corner of Connecticut the low temperature was -1 degree F. Now that's pretty cold. When yo factor in the wind chill, it was closer to ten degrees below at times. Bitterly cold as that may be, there were tons of places that were colder today. Somehow that makes me feel better.

At first I was going to share the ten coldest places in the world today, but they all wound up being in Russia. So, I decided to stay a little closer to home. Here are the twelve coldest laces in the U.S. over the past 24 hours. Those of you that live in these cities, I'm sorry you're colder that I am. For those of us enjoying warmer single digit negative--or even single digit positive--temperatures we'll rejoice in the heatwave and try not to be too smug. Stay warm everyone!

Minimum Temperature Last 24h. 01/23/2014 at 01:00 UTC
No.LocationStation IDAmount
1 International Falls, Falls International Airport (United States)72747-25.1°F
2 Alpena, Alpena County Regional Airport (United States)72639-20.9°F
3 Fargo, Hector International Airport (United States)72753-20.9°F
4 Duluth, Duluth International Airport (United States)72745-20.0°F
5 Aberdeen, Aberdeen Regional Airport (United States)72659-14.1°F
6 Rochester, Rochester International Airport (United States)72644-14.1°F
7 Burlington, Burlington International Airport (United States)72617-13.0°F
8 Flint, Bishop International Airport (United States)72637-13.0°F
9 Alamosa, San Luis Valley Regional Airport (United States)72462-11.9°F
10 Minneapolis, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (United States)72658-11.9°F
11 Sioux Falls, Foss Field (United States)72651-11.9°F
12 Syracuse, Syracuse Hancock International Airport (United States)72519-11.9°F

Monday, January 20, 2014

Did You Know...Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since today is Martin Luther King Day, I decided to step out of the writing/author genre for this week's Did You Know and go in search of some interesting tidbits about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As always, credit goes to Wikipedia where yo can always find a zillion facts on just about anything.

Did you know...

  • He was originally named Michael King, but his father changed it five years later? He was renamed after Martin Luther.
  • He skipped the 9th and 12th grades and began college when he was 15?
  • King was mentored by activist Bayard Rustin? Rustin believed in non-violent activism as practiced by Gandhi and Christian pacifists.
  • King visited India? He went in 1959 and the trip strengthened his conviction that non-violent resistance was the proper path to take.
  • He was stabbed and almost died at a book signing in 1958? A mentally ill black woman stabbed him in the chest with a letter opener.
  • The FBI tapped his phones due to concerns that Communists were trying to infiltrate the civil rights movement?
  • King was arrested 29 times?
  • Part of King's I Have a Dream speech was improvised? 
  • Thee original copy of the speech is owned by George Raveling? He was standing near the podium and asked King if he could have it. Raveling later became the first African-American basketball coach at the University of Iowa.
  • The autopsy conducted after King's assassination noted that he had the heart of a 60 year old? King was only 39, but the condition of his heart indicates the tremendous stress he was under.

Here's a portion of King's "I Have Been to the Mountaintop" speech, which he delivered the night before he was killed.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Writer's Week #99: Book Four, Take Two

We're getting closer to the release of The Golden Dragon of Ang. Work is progressing on the cover and other artwork. The maps are complete. Illustrator Daniel Vogel and layout designer Ana Vogel are on
schedule to everything complete by the end of February. It's really exciting.

Earlier this week, I posted the first part of chapter one, then the blurb for the back cover. Soon, I'll be releasing some interviews with characters from the book. As I've said before, I'm really looking forward to the release of this book. It was a lot of fun to write.

The Deliverers 4, however, is another story-no pun intended. I've been going back and forth on the plot. I worked hard on it this week and I came up with some really good stuff. There are still a few plot points that have yet to resolve themselves, but I think I am ready to begin writing for a second time. The unfortunate part is that I don't think I'll be able to use the original beginning that I wrote right after Christmas. The good part is that I think the new beginning will be better than version one.

I'm planning to begin writing this weekend and I hope to have the first draft completed by Labor Day. At this point, I'm a little nervous about that goal. I can see the end of this book going two ways-either it will end in a cliffhanger, or I'll wind up combining book 4 with book 5 and having one long book. The latter option will happen only if I don't have enough material for the fourth book. As I said, I'm still sketchy on some of the details of the book, so if it winds up being 150 pages or so, I'll ditch the cliffhanger and go right into what would have been the fifth book. So, book four could be 400 pages and the final book in the series. We'll see what happens.

Finally, today the Character Book Club is holding its monthly meeting on Fairday's blog. I'm pleased to tell you that Fairday, Lizzy and Marcus of the Detective Mystery Squad interviewed Kate and Hallo. They had a blast. If you'd like to read what they had to say, click the link here. Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Deliverers 3 Book Blurb

Sorry, this week is turning into a very busy one. I had planned to post the rest of chapter one of The Golden Dragon of Ang, but instead I think I'll post the blurb from the back of the book. Let me know what you think. I'll be back on Friday to clue you in on what's been happening this week!

“From the mouth thou shalt hear
The wisdom of far off lands.
The way to truth is clear
Head, then heart, then hands.
Lastly, tail will point the way
To the world’s end.
Then gold shall have its say
And foretell the doom of men.”

With his dying breath, so spoke the last Dragon’s Voice. Now, with no successor to impart the wisdom of the mythical Golden Dragon of Ang and children between the ages of 12 and 15 mysteriously disappearing, the Dragon Islands have been turned upside down.

It is up to the Deliverers—Eric Scott, Stig the owl, Kate Endria and Hallo Tosis the dwarf—to unravel the clues they hope will lead to the missing children and the new Dragon’s Voice. Meanwhile, the Fang, leader of the renegade Denchi Assassins, has harnessed the unearthly powers of the sparkling mist and is attempting to tip the balance of power in the Islands, and perhaps shred the very fabric of the universe itself. Will the new Dragon’s Voice be revealed, or has the Golden Dragon of Ang abandoned the Islands to the Fang and the sparkling mist? 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Deliverers 3 Preview

I thought I would kick off this week with a preview of the third book in the Deliverers series which will be out by March. The book is titled The Golden Dragon of Ang. So, without further ado, here;s part of chapter 1.

The Golden Dragon of Ang

Chapter 1--Dark Times

            Numb. That’s all he felt. He sat there in the pew, the words of the priest flowing over and past him, none of them sinking in. Just like when his mother had told him the news. Just like when his father had died.
            He’d been through it all before. He never thought he’d have to go through it again so soon—too soon.
            Eric Scott shook himself, trying to snap back to the here and now. It did not seem possible. His mind kept straying to the day before yesterday, the day Gordy was killed. There had been a car accident. Eric’s cousin, Gordy Bungee, and his family had been coming back from their summer vacation when their SUV had been sideswiped by another vehicle that had drifted into their lane.
            Their car had flipped over the guard rail and down an embankment. Eric’s uncle Rocco, his aunt Matilda and his cousin Jeff had escaped with minor cuts and bruises. Gordy had not been as lucky.
            So now, just three years after his father had died in a hiking accident, Eric found himself at a funeral for another family member who had died much too young.
            He had not been particularly close to Gordy until this year. For one thing, at 13 Eric was two years younger than him. He had always been closer to Jeff, who was his own age.
            Still, all three had spent a lot of time together over the past year or so. Although he could be a real jerk sometimes, it had been Gordy who had encouraged him to keep playing hockey after he had been ready to quit.
            After a nearly fatal first practice where he almost got his head knocked off, Eric had vowed never to play again. Gordy would not stand for that, and became almost like a personal coach to him. He helped Eric learn to really skate, develop his stick work and his awareness on the ice. By the end of the season, he was no longer an embarrassment. Eric had been looking forward to playing again this winter, but now…
            The service was concluding and everyone stood to go to their cars and drive to the cemetery. Then there would be a gathering at his house. His mom had offered to host it. Great. No chance to slip off home and leave the sadness and gloom behind.
            What had Gordy done to deserve this? The same thing my dad did, he thought, nothing. Why did this kind of stuff have to happen? And why was it happening to his family?
            He did not have any answers, and that frustrated him.


            It was dark. Eric could not see anything. Suddenly, a sickly green light illuminated the room. It was
empty except for a group of people in the center. They were gathered around something that he could not make out. As he came closer, he recognized his mother, his uncle Rocco, aunt Matilda and Jeff among other friends and relatives. They were weeping over the object, which Eric now recognized as a coffin.
            A black sparkling mist leaked out from under the lid, trickled down the sides and spread out across the floor, obscuring everyone’s feet. It crawled along the ground toward him. It chilled him as it engulfed his shoes and his body tingled all over. A feeling of dread crept over him.
With a creak the lid of the coffin was slowly opened from the inside by a skeletal hand. Eric tensed, not knowing what to expect. The coffin’s occupant sat bolt upright, and Eric gasped.
It was a corpse. Rotting flesh revealed glimpses of the skeleton beneath. Its head turned to Eric and regarded him with worm-riddled eyes. The zombie’s decaying lips drew back from yellowed teeth in a cruel smile that both repulsed and intrigued him. There was something familiar about this unholy creature.
“Hello Eric, so nice to see you again,” it rasped. “I trust the Assignment in Vynistra City had a satisfactory conclusion.”
That voice, it sounded like…”Selango,” Eric whispered.
The zombie smiled wider, and part of its left ear fell off.
“Ah, it’s good that you know me,” Selango said. “So often people are forgotten after they’ve died. I was worried that you might not remember, but I knew that you could not be so cold and heartless.”
Eric looked at the people crowded around the coffin, all of whom were still sobbing, seemingly oblivious to the grisly specter.
“What are you doing here?”
“For starters, I’m dead. I can be wherever I want. But the real reason I am here is to give you my condolences. A terribly tragic loss—he was too young to die so senselessly. And to think that it all could have been avoided. I don’t want you to blame yourself. It wasn’t your fault, not really.”
“What wasn’t my fault?” Eric asked.
“Your cousin’s death,” Selango said.
“It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”
“No, that’s true. You did not cause the accident, but you could have prevented it”
“What?” Eric could not believe it. “How could I have done that?”
The zombie Selango shook its head. “If you had only accepted my offer, this whole tragedy might never have happened.”
“Your offer? What offer?”
“Think my boy. Think back to that distasteful chain of events in Vynistra City. You and your friends had me locked up in that cell with all the other riff-raff. I offered you the chance of a lifetime. My freedom for the most powerful weapon ever created. You turned me down. And now your cousin lies dead.”
“I don’t see what that has to do with it,” Eric frowned.
“The mist! Did I not say it was a source of unimagined power? If you had heeded me, I would have
shown you how to mold it, shape it, use it to achieve your heart’s desire. With it you could have done anything—prevented that accident or brought your cousin back to life.”

Eric glanced down at the mist swirling around his feet, then back at Selango. “Dad,” he murmured.
“Yes, you could have brought him back, too,” Selango said, nodding sadly. “Ah well, the road of life is littered with missed opportunities. Still, it is a shame. What did you gain by denying me, anyway? Freedom for some mongrel cat people you’ll probably never see again. Was it really worth all this pain and anguish?”
The zombie gestured at the people around the coffin. They were looking at Eric with a mixture of rage and contempt. They began marching, arms outstretched, toward him.
“Your fault, your fault!” they cried.
“I want my son!” his aunt screeched.
“My husband, I miss my husband!” his mother wailed.
The crowd was closing in, ready to overwhelm him. Eric covered his head with his arms as the zombie Selango cackled and the sparkling mist rose to blind him.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Writer's Week #98: Deliverers 4 Update

Well it's been a long Writer's Week. As I reported last Friday, I had to stop writing book 4 in the Deliverers series almost before I began. The problem was the plot, there just did not seem to be a lot of it--or at least enough of it to make a full book. So, I set out this week to figure out the next step.

That process wound up taking the entire week. First, I turned it over to my subconscious during the weekend and let things percolate in my head. Then, I spent a couple of days trying to work out a new plot idea based on an idea that I had discarded when writing book 2. That did not work out, but it did reinforce the fact that my original plot premise was the best course, it just needed to be tackled from a different angle.

Reassured that I was on the right track, I spent the next day puzzling over just how to make it different. You see, Eric and the other Deliverers are sent back in time by the Gatekeeper to the American Revolution. The big bad guy (Mendolent) whose existence is revealed in book 3, is trying to change history. I really liked that idea, but I had pictured a scenario like Lexington and Concord, where colonists are defending a town, the British march in, they have a skirmish and the British return whence they came, harried all the way by the colonists who fire at them from behind stone walls.

Not terribly innovative or exciting. Books like April Morning, My Brother Sam is Dead and Johnny Tremain all do something like this. That was my problem. Then I had a mini breakthrough. I had to change my way of thinking. Instead of fitting my plot into the constraints of a historical novel, I had to turn that genre on its ear and write a book that was a fantasy novel set in the time of the revolution. If I followed that train of thought, then Mendolent should change history by helping the British do things that they did not do. He had to help them win by getting them to avoid the mistakes they made.

At that point, I knew I would be able to write the book. I started to pile up ideas based on this new viewpoint, and they camee pretty easily. Now all that remains (I hope) is to update the plot outline and I'll be able to resume writing. So, while I don't think I'll start writing next week, I think I should be ready the week after. I'll keep you up to date.

The art for the cover of the third book, The Golden Dragon of Ang, is almost set. It looks like we're still on track to have everything put together by the end of February, so the book will be available soon after that. Over the next month, I'll be featuring one or two sample chapters and some character interviews on the blog. As the art is finished, I'll be revealing bits and pieces as well. It will all lead up to the cover reveal next month. So there's some neat stuff happening shortly. I'm looking forward to sharing it all with you!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Favorite Books: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Hi all! Since this week's Did You Know... featured C.S. Lewis, I figured I would talk a little about a book that he wrote. As I've mentioned many times before on this blog I am a big fan of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series. A while back, I wrote about the first book in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I thought I'd share a little bit about the third book in the series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

I first had this book read to me by my mother when I was about 12 or so. Mom used to read a couple of chapters every night after dinner while my four brothers and sisters and I were still seated at the table. She started with the first book and wound up reading through the first four or five books before I decided to read the rest on my own because she was going too slowly!

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for this book. In Voyage of the Dawn Treader only the two youngest Pevensie children, Edmund and Lucy, return to Narnia. The are accompanied, unwillingly, by their cousin, Eustace Scrubb. Eustace is a real pill. Anyway, they land in the ocean and are picked up by King Caspian and hauled aboard his ship, the Dawn Treader. Caspian is on a journey to the Lone Islands and beyond to find the seven banished lords of Narnia. Along the way, they have many wonderful adventures.

As a youngster, this book really captured my imagination. I loved all of the interesting places they went and the things they did. The island of the Dufflepuds was both funny and suspenseful. The chilling waters of Death Island were fascinating, and their encounter with a dragon was unique to say the least. I also liked Eustace's journey from insufferable lout to a really nice guy.

As I said before, this book left an impression on me. In fact, I can see some similarities in the third book in my Deliverers series, The Golden Dragon of Ang. Now, the themes in my book differ from those in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but as I reread the book after writing it, I could see influences of Lewis' book sprinkled subtly throughout. For instance, the Deliverers travel across an island chain, the Dragon Islands. It contains a mysterious rhyme (Reepicheep the recited a rhyme that was said over him when he was little), they travel from island to island and have adventures. There is even talk of a dragon.

Do you have any thoughts about Voyage of the Dawn Treader or any of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series? If so, I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Did You Know...C.S. Lewis

This week we take a look at an author known not only as a writer of fantastic children's books, but someone who was one of the greatest religious and philosophical thinkers of the 20th century. I'm talking of course about C.S. Lewis.

Let's see what little known facts I was able to dig up about him online.

Did you know...

  • His full name was Clive Staples Lewis, but his friends called him Jack? Jack was short for Jacksie, which was the name of his dog when he was a child.
  • When he was young, he loved the works of Beatrix Potter? When he was a child he was so fascinated by talking animals that he and his brother made up stories about a world called Boxen which was populated by talking animals.
  • When he was a teenager he became an atheist? His regained his faith in his early thirties.
  • In his teenage years, Lewis was interested in Norse, Greek and Irish mythology and literature?
  • He fought in World War I and was wounded by friendly fire?
  • Lewis taught at both Oxford and Cambridge?
  • He married Joy Davidman Gresham in 1956 when he was in his late 50's? She was an American who grew up Jewish, but became an atheist and a communist. She converted to Christianity before coming to England with her two sons after separating from her husband.
  • Lewis was part of a literary discussion group called the Inklings? It included J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord David Cecil and Nevill Coghill among others. They met every Tuesday morning to discuss literature and read from their works in progress.
  • Tolkien was a major influence in bringing Lewis back to Christianity, although Tolkien was Catholic while Lewis was Anglican?
  • Lewis took an "everyman" approach to his explanation of Christianity and God? His writings and lectures acknowledge the difficulty some have in believing and his arguments are focused on those who find it difficult to believe. This is most likely a direct result from having walked in those same shoes himself.
  • Lewis die the same day John F. Kennedy was assassinated? Author Aldous Huxley died the same day as well.
Here's a trailer for the film Shadowlands, which chronicles the relationship between C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham. It's a really nice film, although a tad over-dramatized.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Writer's Week #97: Bad & Good

This has been an up and down week--some bad, some good. Last week I was excited to report that I had begun writing The Deliverers 4. I started right after Christmas and I got off to a good start. The opening dream sequence was just right and I felt that everything was going well. Then, something strange happened. Try as I might, I just could not muster the enthusiasm to continue.

It took me a little while to figure out what was going on. There are elements of the story that I still need to hammer out. There's a new villain who's manipulating the sparkling mist. I know a little bit about him and what his motivation is, but I now realize that I have to learn more before I can get deeper into this new tale. Once I do, I'll be able to get back to writing. I just have do a little more planning.

That's okay, though, because I still some exciting things happening with the prep work for The Golden Dragon of Ang. This week I received the colorized version of the front cover. It looks really great. Once the  titling and the final effects are added, it's going to be fantastic. Once that's done, all that remains is the chapter illustration and layout and the book will be ready to go!

I'm really excited about getting the third installment of the Deliverers series published. I know you're all going to enjoy it. I'm also really looking forward to ironing out the plot kinks in book 4 and continuing that. I'll let you know how things are progressing next week!