A2Z Challenge: U is for Unicorn — Our Literary Journey

Nice to see other people who love a Fantastic species as much as I love elves!

I am reluctant to attempt to write anything about these beautiful, almost sadly mythological creatures. However, I know some people who read this blog are expecting (perhaps demanding) them for the letter U. They have told me so. There are two reasons for my insecurity. One reason is that I am pretty sure they do […]

via A2Z Challenge: U is for Unicorn — Our Literary Journey

Advertisements

Magnifica: Gravestalker, Revised Release!!!

Hello everyone!!!

I am so excited to announce that a revised copy of my book, Magnifica Gravestalker is currently set for release tomorrow. For those of you who have already purchased a copy (physical or digital), you’ll be able to download the revised version free of charge. For those who haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll enjoy it. Gravestalker remains the favorite of all the stories I’ve written. Returning to it was a true labor of love and I can’t wait for everyone to enjoy the results.

All I ask is that when you read it, PLEASE leave a review!!! Stars are everything in this business

Hard copies for those of you who are like me can be purchased here.

Digital copies are available here.

They will also be available where ever fantasy books are sold!

Book details:


Sample Chapter:

Chapter I

Toby’s heart froze in his chest as he stood next to his bike, ready to leave the reservation. He was getting sick of Giselle’s rhymes and riddles. All he wanted was a straight answer and if he didn’t get it soon, he was going to explode, “What do you mean Masarabi lied to me? What are you talking about?”

Giselle stepped away from Gishan, lowered her eyes to the ground, and began pacing in a circle, “Toby… you were right when you said that I should have left you and Lia’na alone. I know it’s partially my fault for getting you two mixed up in this awful mess. Had I not asked you for help, the chances are that she would still be alive right now… The Apocalyphe would still exist, but the Filis de Lux would have no way of getting to it. I couldn’t make up for that even if I spent the rest of my life trying.”

“Giselle, really, I’m in no mood for any of this. We all have our regrets, me more so than anyone. I’m sorry, but I can’t play counselor to you right now. If you have a point, would you mind getting to it quicker so I can get the hell out of here?”

“Toby man, take it easy.” Gishan said nervously.

Giselle shook her head as she looked at Gishan, “No, he’s right. –I’m sorry Toby… you’re right… but what if I told you that the elven people weren’t the only ones to salvage Alliance texts? What if I told you the U.S. Government had them in our posession? The Government fears what some of the books represent, so they keep them secret even from their own employees. It got to the point where the only people who knew what was in some of those archives are long since dead. Many of the locked areas of the rare books sections don’t even have keys anymore and are regarded as off-limits.”

“So?” Toby asked, ready to walk away.

“Well… Being an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has its benefits… including access to all of these things without anyone questioning it. What if I told you that after Lia’na died, I went poking around the library on a whim and discovered another book in the archives that may be of some interest to you? What if I told you that I took it… and no one would ever even notice it was gone?”

Toby was now slowly becoming interested. He stepped away from his bike, having temporarily lost the desire to get as far away as fast as he could, “What book?”

“Before I show you… answer me one question. What would you do to get Lia’na back, to be able to hold her, and love her again? How far are you willing to go and what price are you willing to pay?”

A slight breeze swept by that brought the sound of movement with it. The group turned immediately, suspecting that they were being watched. Toby scanned the darkness for a few moments, but there was no one around to be seen. The hair stood up on the back of the friends’ necks, but they ignored it.

Toby turned back to Giselle and looked deep into her brown eyes, letting her know he was serious, “You already know the answer to that. I would bring this entire world to its knees to hold her again, even if it were just for a few moments. I would sell my own soul to the devil for just one day with her. I would go through what we went through a million times over if it meant she’d be waiting for me at the end.”

 

Giselle bit her lower lip and sighed as she pulled out a square shaped package wrapped in brown cloth from under her jacket. Part of her had wished she’d never brought it up, but she knew she owed Toby this much, “Toby… please understand… I could go to prison for the rest of my life for what I’m about to show you…”

Giselle slowly unwrapped the package and held it out to Toby. Inside was an 8”x 10” book. It looked to be around the same age, if not older than the Magnifica or the Apocalyphe, but it was in much better condition than either. The cover was brown leather with golden clasps. There was an eye on the cover that bore a striking resemblance to the Eye of Providence.

 

Toby took it from her and instantaneously felt a charge of spiritual energy flow through his body. Whatever this book was, it was powerful, more so than the Magnifica or the Apocalyphe… possibly combined. He got the feeling that the eye on the cover was watching him as he looked the book over. It was unlike anything he’d ever seen before.

Toby looked up at Giselle as the charge flowed through him. His eyes narrowed as he examined her nervous expression, “What is this?”

The lights from the nearby torches flickered on Giselle’s face as she nervously smiled. Toby continued to look over the book as she spoke, “When I did some digging, I found an old script left by none other than Thomas Jefferson himself.”

Toby looked up in shock, “What would Thomas Jefferson have to do with this?”

“Near as I can tell, this book was out of Europe before the American Revolution. It was handed off to a group of Freemasons for safekeeping. The local masonic lodge didn’t know what to make of this book and feared the stories that they were told.”

 

Giselle felt chills travel down her spine as she continued, “One of the masons at that time, a man named Benjamin McConnel, was a skilled linguist. He was able to translate part of the text. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for them to figure out what this book was used for. When they realized its implications, the freemasons panicked. They tried to destroy the book, but when they failed, they decided it needed to be hidden away. They gave it to then-president Thomas Jefferson for safe keeping. Jefferson held on to the book for a few years, but after a couple of suspected break-ins at his home, he donated the book, along with the rest of his collection to the Library of Congress after Washington was set ablaze during the war of 1812.”

Giselle sucked in one last deep breath as she nervously finished her history lesson, “The message he wrote said that he truly believes great evil surrounds this book and it must be kept hidden and secret at all times.”

Gishan took a nervous step back as Toby opened the book and looked at the ancient hieroglyphics, “This isn’t Alliance writing. It looks totally different.”

Giselle shook her head, “True, but you should be able to manipulate it the same way as you did with the Magnifica.”

 

Toby quickly focused his mind as he stared at the page. He waved his hand over the book and watched as the lettering rearranged itself to modern English. His mind ached as he worked. Some of the letters were similar to what he saw in the Magnifica, but others were totally different. There was no way to know if the book would completely translate or if it would come out as complete gibberish.

As the enchantment worked, Toby looked up at Giselle, “What is this?”

“The Necronexus. From what I was able to find out, this book was written by an unknown sect outside of the Alliance. No one knew about it until the Alliance raided their lands. When they discovered what it was, they also tried to destroy it, but the book resisted all spells, charms, and enchantments. Nothing appeared to do the job. When they failed to dispose of it, the Alliance Council took the book and hid it in the southernmost part of their territory. They wanted to make sure that it was completely forgotten.”

Toby listened as Giselle gave him yet another history lesson, “It is believed that the Egyptians later found the book, successfully translated it, and used its spells in their books of the dead. Since then, the Necronexus has made its way around history without really being noticed. It found its way into the hands of the Knights Templar, who feared what it may be and locked it away after they themselves failed to destroy it.”

Gishan sighed, “So that would explain how it found its way into the hands of the Freemasons.”

“Yeah that’s right.”

Toby shook his head while he looked at the spell book, “This… resurrection and regeneration enchantment looks like exactly what we want… but it’s complicated… It looks like we’re going to need quite a few things, most of which look more symbolic than anything. I hate the idea of having to wait… but I’ll need a week or so just to make sure I get it right. Even then there appears to be a lot of risk. These enchantments are unlike anything I’ve done before.”

Gishan nodded, “Tell me what you need, if I can’t get it, I’ll know someone who can. We’ll find everything on there as long as it still exists. Don’t worry man. Just promise me one thing.”

“Go ahead, I’m listening, what’s up?”

“Don’t be stupid about this. It sucks what happened to Lia’na and she deserves a second chance… so do you. You’re like a brother to me and I know she made you happy like no one else could… but screwing with nature… I don’t know man. Take your time and make sure you get it right. That’s all I ask.”

“Don’t worry, Gishan, I learned my lesson after the last time. I’m not going to be doing anything that might put another person in jeopardy that I promise you. I’ve lost too much already from making that mistake.”

“I want to be there too.” Giselle added. “You never know what might happen and you’ll need all the help you can get. That book is considerably older than the Magnifica and is apparently impossible to destroy. We know a lot less than we should about it. What we do know is that it could be easily misused if it falls into the wrong hands. We need to be extra cautious.”

“Agreed. So we’re all in on this then?”

“Yeah.” Gishan replied.

Giselle hesitated for a moment before answering, “Yes… but on one condition.”

“Only one?” Toby asked. “What’s that?”

“Once you’ve brought her back, you never use the book again. I know your uncle and your father were taken from you… and I understand the temptation to try to save them. Lord knows there are people I’d love to see again, but that book is too dangerous to keep around. You never know what else could be waiting to come through from the other side. I will allow you to take that risk once, and only once. So once you’ve gotten what you want, you need to find a way to destroy the book.”

The look in Giselle’s eyes was absolutely serious. Toby could see that if he tried to negotiate or refuse to destroy the book, there was no way she’d let him use it. He also knew that there would be risks and as much as he loved his uncle, he knew that he owed Lia’na a second chance.

Giselle sighed as she finished her terms, “I won’t take it back to the Library, nor will I leave it in your hands. Not after what we saw with the Apocalyphe. Messing with the metaphysical goes way beyond simple enchanting, and is too dangerous. I won’t risk our existence by allowing it to fall into the wrong hands… as if there were any such thing as right hands in this case. This is my price, one use, and then I want it destroyed.”

“So that’s the deal then? Lia’na’s life for this book’s destruction?”

“You could look at it that way.”

“I am, and you don’t need to worry.I don’t know what I can do that the ancient enchanters didn’t already try, but once she’s back in my arms and all is said and done… I’m getting rid of the Fragmentum, this book, and possibly even the Magnifica. When I’m done, I’m ridding the world of magic. There is just no place for it anymore. Lia’na deserves the normal life she was robbed of. That doesn’t seem possible as long as enchanters still exist.”

“Good…” Giselle said in approval. “Then count me in all the way!”

Toby smiled for the first time in days. The pain of Lia’na’s death was still with him, but hopefully it wouldn’t be something he’d have to live with for the rest of his life, “Then let’s head back to Massachusetts and get started. I need to study these writings while you get the supplies we’ll need. The sooner we get everything together, the sooner she’ll be back with us.”

“Right, so let’s all meet back at Toby’s condo tomorrow and figure out what we need.” Gishan replied.

Toby turned away and hid the book in the left leather pouch on the side of his bike. He tapped the odometer to wake it up as he got on. The bike revved its engine, as though asking a question.

“No I’m feeling better now.” Toby said in response. “It looks like the story isn’t quite over yet.”

Vroom!

“I know that… but we’re going to get her back. I’ll fill you in on the way home.”

Vroomroom!

“I know… I miss her too, but I said I’d do anything to save her and I meant it. So let’s get going, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

Cerererer!

“I can’t wait to have her back either. She would be in my arms right now if there were any justice in the world. It’s just not fair.”

The bike slowly rolled forward as Toby rested his arms on the handle bars, “Come on. Let’s go home…”

Gishan waved as Toby disappeared into a dust cloud that was kicked up by the bike’s tires, “Good luck, Toby! See you tomorrow!”

Toby had hoped that he would be able to learn the enchantments quickly and bring her back within a day or two. However his hopes were shattered when he saw what would be needed to conduct the ritual. Aside from procedures and mental preparations, there were some rare items that they would also need.

As promised, Giselle and Gishan showed up at Toby’s house the day after the funeral. Toby had spent the entire night going over the book and had gotten no sleep. His eyes had heavy bags undernieth them and his skin was pale.

Giselle noticed his disheveled appearance the moment she entered the living room, “Good God, Toby. You’re not going to be able to save her if you run yourself into the ground like this.”

Toby rubbed his eyes as he spoke, “No, I know that… but every time I close my eyes, I see her face… the look she gave me during the last few minutes before she died. I just can’t stand it.”

Gishan frowned, “I know how you feel buddy, but you need to be healthy. How ya going to conduct this ritual if you’re falling asleep?”

“Fine. Let’s figure out what we need for the ritual and then I’ll go to bed.”

“Sounds good to me.” Gishan said as he sat down next to Toby and rested his stubby legs. “Let’s get started.”

Over the next few days, Giselle and Gishan worked diligently to get everything they would need. Gishan worked especially hard as he knew better than Giselle how badly this was killing Toby. They were brothers as far as the young dwarf was concerned and there was little he wouldn’t do for Toby. He knew that he would have to hurry before his friend collapsed from exhaustion.

The few nights where Toby was able to sleep, he was forced to watch the horror unfold once again. No matter how hard he tried, he could not expel the dream for even a single moment of relief. It would continue to haunt him and continue to make him face the grim reality that she was dead because he was powerless to save her.

Every night, it was the same thing; Toby watched in horror as Lia’na placed her hand on the Apocalyphe. He tried to run to her, but a wall of energy blocked his path. He tried everything from slamming his body into it, to trying to go around, to blasting it with both light and dark enchantments. Nothing worked and there was nothing he could do except watch helplessly as the release of energy from the book killed her.

Lia’na began to shake as the powers of the Fragmentum and the book ripped into her soul. The book was destroyed and a bolt of light hit Lia’na. Blood poured from her abdomen as she looked up at Toby with a sympathetic expression.

The light drained from her eyes and tears flowed as she cried out, “Toby… help me… please! It hurts…”

Finally he was able to run to her and try to restore her wounds. Each time he tried, the wounds just got worse. She scowled as she looked at him, “You… should have listened to me. This is your fault…”

One morning, Toby’s eyes shot open to the sounds of a kettle in the kitchen screaming that its contents were hot. He jolted upwards into a sitting position and fell off the couch. His left hip ached in pain as he struggled back into his spot.

“Oh, sorry about that,” A voice appeared behind him, “I didn’t think the kettle would be that loud!”

Toby looked up to see what was going on. His eyes were only half open and his vision was badly blurred. He tried to make the fuzz go away by rubbing them a few times and eventually succeeded, “It’s all right Giselle… you probably just did me a favor.”

Giselle was standing over the stove in her pink pajama pants and one of the long tshirts she had brought with her. The shirt looked huge on her, but wasn’t long enough to cover her legs, so the pajamas took care of the rest. She frowned as she poured the hot water into a mug, “Still having the same nightmare?”

“Yeah… I can’t get her out of my head. It’s driving me insane!”

“I know, I’ve been through it myself and I understand what that’s like. The only comfort I can offer is that it does get easier over time.”

“I find that hard to believe…”

“I know… but either way, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. We’re almost ready to get started on the ritual.”

“I just don’t understand how I can’t even get one decent night’s rest.”

Giselle gave him a sympathetic smile, “The amount you’ve been drinking lately probably hasn’t helped anything! When’s the last time you actually slept in your bed?”

“A few days…” Toby admitted.

“You see? I’m sure that’s part of it! Lying face down on this leather sofa like you passed out cannot be comfortable. You need to be in your own bed.”

Giselle walked over to a small box on the counter and plucked a teabag out of it. The water in the mug steamed as she added the bag and a drop of honey from the bottle next to the stove. The mug made a faint sound resembling a bell as she stirred the tea.

“It still smells like her. It’s even harder to sleep there. When I close my eyes, it’s like she’s still there.”

Giselle sighed, “As much as I hate to say it, maybe it’s time to replace the sheets then? If it drives you that insane, then it might be time.”

“Maybe…”

“Definitely.”

A concerned look came over her face like she wanted to say something, but was afraid of what Toby would say. She took a step closer and spoke, “Toby, I hate to bring this up now… I know you have high hopes for the enchantment. I do too, but we have to accept the possibility that it may not work.”

“I don’t want to think about that right now.”

“You have to. You have to consider what you’ll do if we can’t bring her back. A hard choice will have to be made.”

“What are you talking about?”

“If we can’t bring her back, you’re going to have to let her go. That involves moving her out.”

Toby looked at her oddly, “She’s up in New Hampshire having her bones laid to rest, or didn’t you notice?”

Giselle sighed. She knew that what she was about to say would hurt, but Toby needed to hear it, “No, what’s up there is an empty shell of what used to be Lia’na. Her spirit never left us. She’s here, right now… in her smells, her clothes, and the decorations she brought here when she moved in. She’ll continue to linger here as long as you hold on to her. For now that’s fine, but if we fail… eventually you’re going to have to let go and let her move to the next life.”

“Enough, I don’t want to hear this… not now.”

Once her mug was empty, Giselle walked over and sat next to Toby on the couch. The moment her hand touched the moist leather, she shot up, “Aw gross, thanks for warning me, Toby!”

“I can’t help it if I sweat.”

“Yeah, but its leather, it doesn’t absorb the sweat, it just let’s the stuff pool!”

“Sorry.”

“Ugh, this is what I mean! Toby, as your friend, I’m telling you right now, you need to get out of here! Go ride your bike up and down the road or go walk around Arcanus. I don’t care, just do something! This is not healthy.”

Giselle cleaned herself off and sat down in the armchair next to the couch, refusing to go anywhere near where Toby was again, “Gishan should be back in another day or two with the corpse flower we need. I’m sorry it’s taken us so long to get the ingredients, but some of this stuff is complicated and very rare. We’re actually lucky that none of it is extinct.”

She picked up an odd looking knife from the side table, “I mean look at this! We needed ebony to hand-carve a ceremonial knife for the ritual, we also needed a bit of her remains, which the elves were not going to give up willingly. Sneaking back on to the reservation before they buried her wasn’t easy! Then we needed candles made from pure whale fat! Seriously, whale fat? No one even uses that anymore… Now we need an extinct flower, which has a different species growing in South America, and hopefully that will be it!”

“I know that, and it didn’t help that it took me so long to translate the Necronexus. The damn book drained me of my energy for days! I’ve never seen an ancient text so complicated that it actually took more than a simple decipher enchantment to translate it! It was more like trying to web a network of unknown lines and dialogue together to make something partially coherent!”

“I remember…. I watched you struggling with it. You were off your feet for two days after! I would have helped you if I could have, but that was way beyond anything I could have done. I also had to coordinate Gishan’s trip to get the flower.”

She broke her gaze momentarily to look down at her mug as she sipped the tea before continuing, “It should have been me going after that flower. It would have been… but after the chaos in Washington, and our little incident in the Netherlands, I’ve been on conference call after conference call with my superiors and have been essentially grounded. Even so… I should never have let Gishan go to Malaysia alone.”

“He’ll be fine… he always is. That dwarf has talked himself out of trouble more times than he’d ever admit to.”

“I hope you’re right.” Giselle replied as she headed for the guest room to change. “You know him better than I do, but I still worry.”

Toby stared blankly at the frame on his end table. It was a beautiful picture of Lia’na and Toby at Revere Beach. He would never forget that day. Lia’na had asked a dwarf that was passing by to take the picture for them.

Toby had expected Lia’na to stand next to him, but instead, she jumped on his back. Her legs hugged his hips and her arms were loosely draped around his neck. Toby’s arms were holding Lia’na’s legs in place as the two of them stood there smiling.

After a few moments, Toby could no longer stand looking at it. He grabbed the pictured and turned it over so that he didn’t have to see the smiling faces. That was nothing more than a piece of history now.

Giselle noticed it and frowned, “I know you miss her Toby. We’re going to do everything we can to get her back.”

Toby stood up and headed for the bathroom, “I know that… Thank you…”

Without another word, Toby closed the door to his bedroom and headed into the shower. Giselle shook her head as he disappeared from view. Her heart sank in her chest. It’s just not right.

Toby shut the door to the bathroom.  His skin was oily and itched as he stripped off the tshirt and boxers he’d been wearing for the last two days. Part of him just wanted to throw out the clothes, given how badly they smelled, but he knew that they could be salvaged if washed soon.

The water pouring out of the shower head didn’t offer him any comfort as 48 hours of sweat washed away. The soap that came off of his body was tinted gray and he had to vigorously run the shampoo through his hair to get the plastic feeling of greese to go away. He was getting clean, but it didn’t feel any better.

Toby leaned down and turned off the shower. He stood in place for a few moments, letting the water drip away as he stared at the steam that whisked by his face. He leaned on the wall, not ready to move. He was completely paralyzed as he remembered the joy of looking forward to showers when Lia’na lived with him.

After more than ten minutes, Toby got out of the shower and grabbed a towel. His mind was completely blank as he dried off and got dressed. He threw on some black jeans and a red tshirt before grabbing his keys and heading for the bedroom door.

Giselle was now sitting in the living room chair, sipping another cup of tea as Toby opened the door to the bedroom. The TV was on and she was keeping an eye on the restoration projects efforts aimed at bringing Boston back to it’s glory. She was interrupted by the creaking sound as Toby’s door opened.

“There, now that looks better. You look like a new man now that you’ve cleaned up a little.”

“I don’t feel like a new man.” Toby replied as he slowly started moving towards the front door.

“Going somewhere?”

“Yeah, I’m heading for Revere Beach. I’ll be back in a while.”

A worried expression appeared on Giselle’s face, “Toby, I know I told you to get out, but are you sure that Revere Beach is a good idea?”

“What do you want from me? It’s where I used to go when I needed to clear my head. There is no place that I can go now where she won’t be haunting me.”

“Yeah I know that, but now… I mean given how much time you two spent there. I’m just worried… Look just promise me you won’t have a meltdown until you’re off your bike, okay?”

“Fine.” Toby replied as he closed the door behind him without even looking up.

Giselle sighed as he disappeared from view. She feared that Toby would wind up coming back in traction, but that was a risk she ran no matter where he went. In the end, she knew there was nothing she could do about it. Damn it.

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Fantasy Creatures

“Hi Jim,

I’m in the process of writing a fantasy novel and was wondering how you chose what species to focus on? Your writings seem to focus on Angels and Elves, what made you decide to go that route over say… dwarves or faeries?

Thanks,
Allison”

Hi Allison,

Good question. It honestly comes down to a couple of different things. For starters, what does your situation call for? In my stories, I needed a character that could fill the role of a noble yet oppressed people. Dwarves don’t really fill that as they are usually brash, abrasive, downright vulgar people who would not tolerate being oppressed. Orcs… you try oppressing an orc and see where it gets you.
Honestly, in much of the folklore and mythology I’ve studied, elves tend to be soft-spoken, mysterious, creatures that are known for being somewhere between realistic and mystical. However, they are also known for being used as slaves, beaten, tortured, massacred, etc. Elves seemed to be the right choice to go with to fit that role.

The reason I used angels in the other stories is because they suited the narrative I was going for with my historical fantasy. I basically sought to answer a question I came up with for my story; What would happen if a celestial being appeared in 16th Century Europe. An angel was really the only being I could go with.

So you really have a couple of choices, you can do some research and figure out where each species archetypes lie (they all seem to have similar traits from one story  to the next), or if you’re really creative, you can create your own species. One that no one else has in any of their stories. The challenge there is to establish their culture, collective personalities, and moral standing early on, or having one as a lead character won’t make much sense.

If you are going to go with one of the traditional fantasy characters, I would just say to do some research into their backgrounds first and then build off of those. You don’t want them to be exactly the same by any means, but you do want them to posses some familiarities that people are aware of.

Anyway, hope this helps.
Readers, do you agree? Do you think that characters should remain certain ways so that readers can easily recognize them or should there be free reign on defining what is/is not a trait of one of the fantasy species?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Heartbreaking…

So I recently saw a video online that shot me right through the heart, both as a parent and as someone who used to work with children like this…

When we see so many people homeless in the city, it’s easy to walk on by and do nothing. I myself have been guilty of it countless times. It wears on me because I know that I can’t help everyone. I donate what time and money I can, but even that is not enough.

I remember when I was younger though, I knew a woman who would have given the shirt off of her back for the asking. We were hanging out in Boston one day when she saw a homeless man on the street corner. It moved me so much that I eventually added it as part of one of my books. So I’ll share this excerpt with you all now as a reminder to remember those less fortunate and in serious need.

(From Magnifica: Tears of the Fallen, Chapter III)
974374_534668136633277_415762542_n
Lia’na smiled as they turned left out of Cheers. Toby and Lia’na walked up Beacon Street past several old brown stone buildings. They crossed River Street a moment later and were ready cross Beacon Street to get to the bike when Lia’na’s ears picked up a sad sound.

A decrepit old man was sitting in his own squalor on the corner. His clothes were tattered and filthy and it looked like the only thing of value he owned was his cane. Dirt covered his face, but Lia’na could still make out the pain in his eyes.

The man raised his hand and pleaded his case every time someone passed by, “Spare change for the homeless, please help us get something to eat?”

Lia’na stared at him for a moment. A look of sadness came over her and a tear formed in her right eye. Most of the people who walked by just ignored the man like they didn’t see him. Others crossed the street at another point to avoid dealing with him or even acknowledging that he existed. It was more than Lia’na could bear and it broke her heart.

Toby put his hand gently on her shoulder, “Come on, we should go.”

“No.” Lia’na replied in a stern voice, pushing his hand off.

Her eyes darted up and down the street for a moment. Toby wasn’t certain what she was looking for until her eyes caught a black and gold sign across Charles Street from where they were standing. It was a Starbucks and they appeared to be open.

Lia’na waited for the light to turn red and darted across the street before Toby could say anything. She disappeared inside the coffee house for a moment before reappearing with a wrapped sandwich and a bottle of juice. What is she doing? Toby thought to himself.

She came back across to the corner of Beacon and Charles Street and knelt down next to the old man, “Sir, piele take these.”

The man looked at the food for a moment before grabbing them from Lia’na’s hands. He tore open the sandwich and greedily began eating. Between bites he looked up at Lia’na, “Bless you child!”

Toby stood there watching for a few moments before fishing through his pockets until he wrapped his fingers around a five dollar bill. He pulled it out and knelt down next to Lia’na, “There are a couple of nearby shelters, use this to get to one of them and find yourself a warm place to sleep.”

The man looked at Toby for a moment before accepting the money, “I will, thank you.”

The man horded what little was left of the sandwich into his pocket and stood up. He didn’t speak another word as he took off down the street as fast as his legs would carry him. Lia’na watched for a few moments until the city engulfed him and he was no longer visible.

Toby put his hand on Lia’na’s shoulder once again. She turned to him, smiled, and nodded, “Lien ni, I know you went against your better judgment in doing that for me, but I’m glad you did.”

Toby nodded, “Well by the time I figured out what you were doing, I thought I might as well play along.”

Lia’na looked at Toby apologetically, “I’m sorry. I just couldn’t stand seeing that. Watching someone suffer like that… hurts, but we can go now.”

Toby nodded and led Lia’na across the street to the bike. The look of sadness on her face had been replaced with content. Toby really didn’t want to ruin that for her as he knew her intentions were good, but she needed to know what could have happened, “Lia’na, I know you meant well by what you did, but you may have put yourself in danger by helping that man. You don’t know if he was right in the head or armed. Also, what do you think he’s going to do with the $5 I gave him? Most likely he’ll go buy a nip of booze with it.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Lia’na replied, “it was the right thing to do, and I can tell from your eyes that you agree with me.”

Toby shrugged, “Maybe…”

Lia’na smiled at Toby as they continued walking, “You know the city a lot better than I do, Toby, and maybe I can be a little naive, but I can’t stand seeing someone suffer like that. The sound of suffering and pain resonates like the sound of the forest, but unlike the forest, that sound is agonizing. If the price of doing the right thing is being deceived now and then… well then call me a fool.”

Toby smiled at her, “That’s why I love you. You have a kind heart, but next time will you tell me what you’re doing beforehand?”

Lia’na nodded, “It’s a deal, ta arshana.”


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

Author’s Advice Pt. 11

Don’t be afraid to mix and merge.

So you have a fairly successful series going, but now you’re experiencing writers block. You have fragments of two or three sequels written, but don’t know where to take them. You’ve even considered starting on a third, but haven’t gotten anywhere with it. You really like the first two and would love to continue one of them, but each time you get a line in, you stall and don’t know where to go. You wind up stopping for a week, only to come back and repeat the cycle.

Well…

Why not take those fragments, as well as your ideas for a third story and combine them? Take the central themes of one, the characters from another, and the story line from the third idea you have, or any combination as such. It may work, it may not, but I’ve observed it working very well for people many times over.

A good example is my book, Magnifica: Gravestalker. I combined a few sequels to create this story as I had sort of written myself into a corner, and my audience was somewhat… upset… with the ending to Magnifica: Tears of the Fallen.

I knew that I had to do something, but I didn’t know what. Gravestalker was a product of the above formula.

The Traitorous Main Character

So you’ve written your story. Your characters are beloved, not only to you, but also your reading audience. Well now you’re writing the next part in your series and are ready to do the unthinkable…

You’re going to have one of the characters turn on the others. One of your main good guys is now to become a villain and not just a villain, but one who was the cause of much of the turmoil that the other characters have gone through.

So how do you do it? Up until now, this character has been close to all of the others. They have become well-liked, and your audience has grown attached to that character. How do you suddenly make them the object of scorn?
Well it may not be as difficult as you think and it may not even be necessary. Let me explain…

If you’re going to paint the person as a straight villain, the shock and surprise alone should be enough to turn your readers against the character. If you’ve written it right, your readers should feel just as betrayed as the characters that they are reading about. Having the ability to make your readers relate, and even feel the same emotions that the characters are is a staple of a truly gifted story teller. Just make sure that you provide an alternate view of the events from the past stories so that everything fits into place. This is absolutely essential if the villain role is going to stick.

Above, I said that it may not be necessary to make the traitor the object of scorn. Indeed it isn’t. If you refer back to my Character Complexes thread, you can read up on how to create a villain that may not necessary be evil. Maybe this traitor has family that they are looking for, maybe they’re turning on their friends for what they perceive to be the greater good, or maybe there is a payoff at the end that is enough for the traitor to sacrifice their friends.
The point is, just because the character is no longer a good guy, or on the same side as the main characters, doesn’t mean that they’re bad. Quite the opposite, it just means that their circumstances have changed. That character can still be relateable and even likable.

Now, does that mean that this character won’t come back to the morally ‘right’ in the story? No, there is no rule in place that a character can’t switch sides.

So just remember when writing a traitor, it may be better and even easier at some points to not paint them as a straight villain.

Thanks and catch you all on the flip-side,

Jim

Free Exchange of Ideas…

Can I just ask… what the heck happened?

When I first published my work, I got a lot of comments from readers, both positive and negative. Divinity in particular got positive and negative comments from die-hard Christians and atheists, and I don’t understand the negativity.

I certainly can’t speak for the rest of the world, so if it’s different outside of the U.S. PLEASE let me know.

I don’t mind disagreeing with my views, in fact, I welcome it! I love it when someone posts a comment on Facebook, here, or on my other pages and tells me that they disagree with my message or my assessment of a certain situation or event. I always enjoy hearing about it from the other person’s perspective and then engaging their talking points. That’s fine…

What’s not fine is when people start calling you names or accuse you of racial bigotry. I don’t get that. Nowhere have I ever used racial slurs in anything I’ve written (unless you count sharpy, which many of my characters call elves), nor have I ever said anything about a specific ethnicity or religion that would portray everyone in any of those groups in a negative light.

I’ll provide a perfect example. The other day I was on a newspaper’s website and one person mentioned on the message board that he supported voter ID laws. The next comment accused him of being racist. How is requiring all citizens to prove their citizens racist? Another comment said that it makes it more difficult for poor people to vote. That is a credible argument, but racist? Is the person making that comment inferring that all poor people are minorities, or that the majority of certain minorities are poor? Isn’t the assumption of racism, actually racism itself?

Anyway, I don’t want to delve into a conversation of semantics, so let me get back on point. Why just sit there, yell and scream, and accuse the person of being racist? Why get mad at that person’s viewpoint? What good does that do? Why not instead of resorting to anger, threats, or childish name-calling, you address that person’s talking points. Tell that person why you think they’re wrong and then hear their arguments. You might learn something and they might actually gain some knowledge in the process too. Why is that not a better solution?

By resorting to childish name-calling, you make yourself look less intelligent.

By resorting to misogyny, you make yourself out to look hateful.

By resorting to inserting race or ethnicity into an argument, you make yourself out to be hateful, you water-down justified accusations of racism, and you spit on everyone who actually suffered from racism and fought for equal rights.

All of this takes a negative toll on society. It get’s to the point where Freedom of Expression and Speech take a back seat to people’s’ sensitivity. The problem is that people don’t see the damage being done by this. Someone showing a different perspective on things, as long as it’s factual and historically accurate, should not be met with scorn. Their talking points should be addressed.

Seriously, why get mad? Why break off contact or remove someone from your contact list? Why resort to stupidity? If someone’s opinion truly upsets you, ignore it. Unless they’re specifically saying it to insult you or a group you’re apart of, why get mad? Why not respond and tell them why you think they’re wrong?

All you’re doing is making it more difficult for someone to express their opinions or their views. By accusing someone who expresses a viewpoint of racial, religious, or ethnic bigotry where none was intended or implied, or calling them names, all you’re doing is making another person fear how they’re going to be portrayed by others, including their employers and family, and thus are making it harder for them to put their views to paper, and that’s a terrible, awful thing to do, when the Free Exchange of Ideas is one of the most important freedoms anyone has.

I really don’t want to spend too much time on this, so I’m going to close with a quote from a TV show I loved as a child:

With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably… The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged. 

P.S. Don’t be afraid to post if you think I missed something or disagree, as I said above, I welcome other viewpoints and would love to address them.