Sugar Mountain Day 2

When I was a young man (and quite a bit more antisocial than I am now) I thought it would be cool to be one of those hermits living on a mountain top.  You know, meditating and contemplating the meaning of the universe with no one around to bother you.  It sounded kinda cool, but I  always wondered if those hermit types were maybe a bit crazy.

Being an introvert, I like my alone time, but I’ve never spent an extended time away from other people–particularly my family.   After two days alone on a mountain,  I’m happy to report that I am not insane.  Okay, so I talk to myself (but not any more than normal), and I sing aloud (mostly to music), and I look forward the each meal as it was my last.   But I haven’t started talking to the furniture (although the fake tree in the corner has been watching me all day).  I figure this means I’m as sane as the next guy.

I spend a good part of the day writing.  I’m up to around 4000 words today. I don’t know if I’ll win NaNo, but I should reach my goal of finishing the draft by the end of the year.  The book’s working title is The Queen’s Man.  It’s one that I’ve been writing on and off for a couple of years between drafts of other novels.  It’s time to finish it and put it in my publishing queue.  I expect it’ll come out late 2018 time frame.

Here is a snippet from today where one of my protagonist is talking to his mentor:

Derrick looked up at his mentor.  He knew Karl had been tasked with his education as a warrior, but the kail warrior had become much more than a teacher to him.  Derrick felt closer to Karl than his own father, and sometimes wished Karl was his true father.  “Why couldn’t I have been born and kail?” he muttered.

“Why is a fish born a fish and not a bird?” Karl had risen from the bed and stood over Derrick.  “The fish doesn’t even know about the air above.  He breaths the water and is happy with it.”

“How do you know he’s happy?” Derrick retorted.  “I have seen fish jump out of the water as if they wished to fly.”  He looked up into Karl’s face.

“Maybe if you pray to the Trickster, he will turn your scales into wings so that you can fly.”

Derrick knew the story.  Karl had told it to him.  “Yes, but he wouldn’t change my gills into lungs, and I would suffocate instead.”

Karl nodded his head.  “But you can still learn to jump, my dear little fish, and knock the birds from the sky when they come to taunt you.”

“It is not the birds I want to pummel, but the other fish,” Derrick grumbled, but he realized that he felt better after talking to Karl.

“How can a fish who can jump so high not sail above the other fish in the pond?”  Karl sat next to Derrick on the bench and leaned in towards his young protégé.  “I doubt that Sir Roger could jump so high.”

Derrick let out a sigh and nodded his head.

Karl leaned his back against the wall and Derrick followed his example.

“Nor your father,” Karl said.

Derrick felt himself relax against wall at his back.

 

Oh yeah, and here is a picture from my balcony.

 

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Writing on a Mountain

So I’m sitting up on Sugar Mountain looking for inspiration.  The wife and I came up for the weekend, and I stayed for the rest of the week to try to finish the draft of my latest novel.

We had a good time traipsing about over the weekend.  The highlight was hiking to the overlook at Linville Falls.  I say hiking, but it was only about a mile and a half round trip, which is about as much hiking as  I care to do.  Walking on flat sidewalks is fine, but climbing rock stairs is for the birds.  The view was worth it though.

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Hopefully this picture will inspire me to work hard on my draft and maybe even salvage my NaNoWriMo attempt.  Fast writing just isn’t my thing, and I’m behind the eight ball for NaNo again this year.  Today I wrote just under 5000 words.  I’m usually lucky to break 500 in a day, so it was a good writing day.  Of course, I’m almost out of candy, so it’s not looking good for the rest of the week.

 

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Old Mercenary Romance is the Best Kind

Romance seems to be everywhere nowadays.  There’s fantasy romance, historical romance, even western romance—I think (Hey Tex, pass the biscuits).  I don’t really care to read a lot of erotic stuff, but I believe every story needs a little romance.  Even a gritty mercenary story like The Order of the Wolf has some romance.

Actually, one of my favorite scenes is when the protagonist meets his lady love for the first time.  He’s a gruff mercenary with a death wish, who’s never had a real relationship with a woman, and she’s an old farm wife who’s lost her husband to war.  She found him near her farm, collapsed from a festering wound, and brought him back to her shack to mend him:

 

I woke to excruciating pain—and, strangely, comfort. Where did this bed come from? A scratchy pillow cushioned my head enough so that I could scan my surroundings.

I was in a peasant shack with stick furniture and herbs hanging from the wall. My borrowed sword hung on a hook by the door; seeing it prompted me to struggle to me feet with a grunt. I shuffled, naked, across the dirt floor and grabbed the sword, feeling better when I had it in my grasp. I scanned the room for my missing tunic, shaking my head to clear the feeling of light-headedness.

The hovel’s door scraped and I dropped into a fighting stance, my sword poised to strike. The afternoon sun beamed through the opening, blinding me. I blinked to clear my vision and jumped back when a shadow passed before the door.

It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the sunlight. A woman stood in the doorway with one hand on her hip and the other holding my missing tunic—which appeared to be clean. She looked strong enough to put up a good fight if I set my sword down, so I held it at the ready and I studied her face, trying to gauge her intentions.

She smiled at me, running her eyes down the length of my body. “You going to stab me with that?” she asked—only she wasn’t looking at the sword in my hand.

I cleared my throat and her focus shifted to my face. Her scrutiny was unnerving. I hadn’t been with a woman since before my mates had died, and I hadn’t stood naked in front of a woman since long before that. I tried to ignore my condition and regain control of the situation.

“How did I get here?”

The woman frowned. “If you put your sword down, I’ll tell you.”

I held out my hand for my tunic. “Can I have my clothes?”

Her smile returned. “I didn’t say you had to get dressed.” She gave me another appraising look. “Besides, your tunic is still wet.”

I knew that she was just baiting me, but I refused to give her the satisfaction by covering myself. I would rather have faced the Imperial cavalry again than stand there being ogled—but I didn’t move.

Finally, she laughed and gestured toward the back corner on the opposite side of the bed. “In the corner is an old tunic what belonged to my man. You can put it on.”

I lowered my sword and laid it on the bed as I crossed the room, but it’s hard to look dignified when a strange woman is staring at your naked ass. I shuffled over to the tunic and put it on. Homespun and too small, it began to itch as soon as it touched my skin.

“Where’s your man now?”

The woman frowned again and spat on the dirt floor. “The fool went an’ got himself killed in the Prince’s army.”

 

It’s not quite a fairy tale romance, but the relationship that develops is a critical part of the story.  If you want to read more, you can find a copy of The Order of the Wolf on Amazon or Kobo.  Or you can sign up for my author newsletter and get one for FREE.

If you decide to give The Order of the Wolf a gander, please don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon, or Goodreads, or KOBO, or  wherever else strikes your fancy.  Reviews are more precious than gold to us independent authors.  My current goal is to get my books on BookBub and I need reviews to do it.  So help a starving author out.

(Okay, to be honest, I’m not starving.  Right now my belly is full of leftover Reese’s cups from Halloween . . . . . All right, they aren’t really leftover.  I sneaked them out of the candy bowl when the wife wasn’t looking.  But hey, I’m a fiction author.  I’m supposed to make this stuff up, right?)

Thanks for your ear rent.

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I am a Loser

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Some lady yelled “Loser!” at me the other day.  I don’t know why.  I was driving well within the speed limit.

Then I got to thinking maybe she was right.  My mom always told me that I’d lose my brain if it wasn’t attached.  Come to think of it, my wife tells me all the time that I’ve lost my mind.  Hmmm.  They can’t both be right, can they?

And I realized:  the older I get, the bigger a loser I become.  I’m constantly losing my keys, or my glasses, or forgetting where I set down my glass of water.  Just the other day, I lost my glasses, and then I found them on my head.  Good thing they were attached.

So calling someone a loser is considered an insult, but is being a loser a bad thing?  You win some, and you lose some, right?  We’re all losers at some point, and hopefully we learn from the experience.

So when someone calls me a loser, what they are really saying is that I am full of hard-earned wisdom.

Yes, that lady the other day saw me as a wise man, like Socrates or the guy that invented the Reese’s cup.  That was one perceptive lady.

 

 

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NaNoWriMo

It’s that time again.  National Novel Writing Month is upon us.  I will be participating this year.  I’ll be working on a partially complete novel that I need to finish – The Queen’s Man.  It currently sits at around 30,000 words, so if I hit the 50,000 mark for NaNoWriMo it’ll get me to a completed first draft.

NaNo is tough for me.  I write regularly, but not at such a fast pace.  Of the five years I’ve signed up for NaNo, I finished once, got about half-way twice, and dropped out on the other two tries.  November is a bad month for this because of Thanksgiving and my birthday.  I don’t write when I have company come and visit, and that typically happens most Thanksgivings.  So I’m usually playing catch up for those days.

Even though I don’t always make the word count, I like to do NaNo because it gives my writing a kick start and sets a faster pace for me to complete my writing project.

The downside to NaNoWriMo is that it has become commercialized.  If you sign up, you get bombarded with donation requests.  It used to be just a bunch of people getting together to write, but, well, money always gets in the way of a good thing.  So I try to ignore all the superfluous emails and write.

Give National Novel Writing Month a shot.  Even if you don’t “win”, you’ll have more words written than when you started.

 

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Writing Stuff

It’s been a busy week:

The Eastern Factor is off to the editors, and I just finished with the re-edit of The Order of the Wolf and it is now live on Amazon.  You can also get a free copy if you sign up for my brandy new Author Newsletter.  I will be sending it out monthly to begin with, at least until my next book is released in January.  After that, we’ll see, but it’ll be quarterly at a minimum.

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Click on my smiling friend to get your free ebook.

 

I also just found out that I won the Charlotte Geeks flash fiction contest with my story “Geekzilla Saves the Gala”.  It was featured on their Guardians of the Geekery podcast.  I also received some cool prizes.  You can find the podcast here (the story starts at 07:30).

 

 

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Short & Twisted

Short and Twisted

 

You can find my short story “Santa Doesn’t Work Here Anymore” in the Short & Twisted Christmas Tales anthology that just became available on Amazon.

Give it a read.

 

 

 

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