Archive for October, 2014

The Forbidden Kingdom

Just a quick note to let you know that if you like THE DRAGON’S LEGACY, you are going to love The Forbidden Kingdom, Book 2 of THE DRAGON’S LEGACY.

Here’s a quick teaser:


The wind was born of a Twilight Lord, playing a seashell flute. Webbed fingers strong and sure danced across the smooth shell as they had once danced across the skin of a human girl, delicate and sweet and all things good. That girl was gone, just as the meat was gone from this shell, leaving only the memory of beauty and faint notes in the wind. But the sea was still the same, and the song was still the same, curling round his heart thick and slow as the fog that shrouded the Sorrowful Isles.

Born of sea and sand and the cries of a wounded heart, the wind danced in rage and longing across the Sundered Sea, rousing the waves of Nar Kabdaan to wrath and ruin as they cast themselves, again and again, to die unmourned upon the heartless shores of Bizhan. The waves were born, they struggled, they died, one after another like soldiers caught in a dream of war.

The wind was heavy with salt, and the dreams of sea-witches, and the tears of lost souls. It struck at the jagged rocks, tore at the sharp grasses like a madman tearing at his own hair, it howled at the gates like the voices of a thousand ice wolves buried in fear, forgotten to legend, lost, lost, lost. The howling woke the Halfkin Child, because the song of wolves round a campfire can never truly be forgotten by the children of Man, no matter how deeply they hide it from their thick and stubborn hearts. The Child rose, he slipped from his bed and from his mother’s hearth and stumbled down the rocky path to the sea; and because he, too, could hear the howling of the wolves, could feel them singing in the shadows of his heart, the Twilight Lord put down his flute and swam to the shores of Man. The moons were faded, half-empty and without power, but he had broken so many laws already that one more could hardly matter.


Now, kindly leave me alone to write.

Jai tu wai,


The Hero’s Journey: Call to Adventure (or: Get The Hell Out of My Pantry!)

Most of you who are writers have probably already heard about the Hero’s Journey.  Described by Joseph Campbell in The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949), The Hero’s Journey—or monomyth—is a basic pattern that can be found in stories and legends around the world:

The Hero's Journey

The Hero’s Journey

The Journey can be broken down into four stages.  In Stage 1, the Hero leaves the familiar world behind.  In Stage 2, the Hero learns to survive in a strange new world.  In Stage 3, the Hero uses this new knowledge to master the unknown world, and in Stage 4 the Hero returns to the familiar world, having gained some necessary bit of knowledge or shiny object.

This is an oversimplification of a very complex and fascinating topic.  I would encourage you, especially if you are a writer, to read further here:

And here:

And here:’s_journey.htm

Consider this your Call to Adventure.

I’ve spent a lot of time geeking out about the Hero’s Journey, because storytelling is kind of my thing.  If writing is an adventure—and believe me, writing is an adventure—I feel like I’m at stage 2.5.  I’ve almost got the hang of this strange new world and I’m getting to the point where I don’t cut myself with my own sword too often.  And I’d like to share some thoughts on the Hero’s Journey in storytelling.

I sat down one day and made a Hero’s Journey spreadsheet, and broke down parts of the story lines of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World, and George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones.

This is what I do in my spare time.  Don’t judge me.

When I did this, I noticed something interesting.

In each story, the Call to Adventure was precipitated by an unlooked-for and somewhat unwanted visitor.  Here we have a protagonist, our will-be Hero, happily smoking a pipe, helping Dad with farmboy chores, or lopping off the head of a deserter—Familiar World stuff—when along comes a Sage with some bit of news.  Grab your boots and walking-stick, it’s time for an adventure.

What I found interesting was the thought that this Sage—who may become a mentor or helper character in the not too distant future—is an unwelcome visitor.  Of course the Call to Adventure is often resisted at first, because who wants to leave a nice Hobbit-hole and a larder full of cheese and bacon?  But the Hero’s initial reaction to the person initiating the call is worth examining further.  This visitor is often seen as a helper or mentor character, but I would argue that this is also an antagonist.

I began to call this character the Fey Visitor.  There’s something otherworldly, powerful, and vaguely frightening about this person.  This visitor is viewed with suspicion and unease, and a general wish that they would just go away and leave the Hero in peace.

Of course, the Fey Visitor is a herald to another character or group of characters—Nazgul, Myrdraal, or Lannisters—and this visitor is a direct threat to our Hero’s safety, to the extent that the Hero will be forced to embark upon the journey, and may also be forced to rely upon the Fey Visitor’s strange powers for survival.

I call this second visitor the Fell Visitor, and see it as a dark-mirror image of the Fey Visitor.  It seems to me that a story may be enhanced and deepened if the storyteller keeps these two Visitors in mind, plays them off against one another, and has fun comparing and contrasting them as two sides of the same coin.  Moiraine and the Myrddraal, King Robert Bareatheon and Cersei Lannister, Gandalf and the Nazgul.  Someone who wants you to move and change, and someone else who will kill you if you don’t.

As the Hero continues into the strange new world, eventually lessons will be learned and skills gained that will enable the Hero to overpower either of these antagonists, but for now I will leave Frodo trembling in fear as he agrees to this impossible task, when all he really wants to do is go home, have a smoke, and sit down to a nice little dinner.


Jai to wai,


There once were a bunch of WriMos…

I participated in my first writers’ group this weekend.

I attended a writers’ luncheon a few years back, but I would not say I participated.  For one thing, it was supposed to be a potluck, but besides my Pineapple Stuff (pineapple bread pudding, my usual what-the-hell-to-bring fallback), and perhaps some cheese and crackers, the other writers only brought coffee and wine.  I made a joke about how we as writers are supposed to avoid clichés, not live them, and was met with an awkward silence.

And then things got a little weird.

A few people stood up and read or recited some of their poetry.  Now, I love good poetry.  I don’t really get it—I fear I’m as deep as a mud puddle—and I can’t write it.  I can do a pretty good Robert Service type story with rhyme and cadence, and I can turn out a dirty limerick without a second thought, but real, true poetry is something I can only gaze at from afar.  If I hear a poem about a tree, I don’t think, “Wow, what a beautiful representation of the meaning of life well lived.”  I think, “Trees.  I like trees.”

The stuff my fellow writers were spouting left me sitting in the corner with that odd expression you get on your face when you’re sitting in a German pub and everyone else is smoking and speaking German, and you do neither.  Then someone got up and dragged in a tree branch they’d splattered with paint and strung with wire, beads, and what appeared to be a voodoo doll.  I took my empty casserole dish and never looked back.

But this group was different.  It was a local NaNoWrimo thing, and they were singing the song of my people.

NaNoWriMo, for those of you cursedly sane folks who have never heard of it, is an exercise in frustration, insanity, art, and the neglect of all things domestic.  The official definition is:


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

You can learn more about NaNoWriMo here:

But I stand by my words.  NaNoWriMo is great for the coffee industry and possibly the whiskey industry, but not so great for family members who wish to be fed, driven to school, or spoken to during the month of November.

Yeah, yeah, cry me a river.

We were back in the woods, away from normal humans, just the way I like it.  Everyone spoke of their projects for November, and I really hope everyone finishes their stories because some fabulous ideas were presented.  Someone gave a little speech about worldbuilding, a topic new and fascinating to those who write literary fiction; we spoke of characters and plot, tension and frustration, exciting hooks and sagging middles.

I find that speaking with other writers is almost a meditative experience; I left feeling grounded, and validated, and excited about this year’s NaNoWriMo.

I will be working on Heart of the Forbidden City, Book 2 of Song of the Sun Dragon.  I will be drinking a lot of coffee, talking to myself, and probably losing a bit of sleep.

I will not be doing laundry.


Jai tu wai,



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