Friday, 27 June 2014

Dragon's Keeper (Part 3 of 3)

Hey all!

While I missed the deadline for "Just Write Thursday's", I managed to polish it off this morning instead. It needed an ending...and damnit, I wasn't about to leave the story missing a couple hundred words. So give it a read, and please don't hate me for the errors...oh and if I allude to a mysterious character named "Neven", I really meant Loran. Neven is the main character in a novel I am polishing/editing at the moment, and I had some issues separating the two names in my mind. Should have called the main character in The Dragon's Keeper Carl or something...

See the link below for my full short story:

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Dragon's Keeper: Part II

Hello again everyone!

It's "Just Write Thursday" again, which means a continuation of what I started last week: The Dragon's Keeper. Enjoy, and comment below if you so please!

The Dragon roared in pain, flames shooting out of his nostrils yet again as he raised his scarred muzzle into the sky. And then Loran heard him swallow. He had swallowed his own fire, and by the wide, lizard-like eyes Loran could see behind the smoke and cinder floating about, he knew the Dragon was in excruciating pain. He watched in awe as the fire in his belly went out like a candle, and suddenly the temperature in the room dropped thirty degrees.

“What is wrong with you?” Loran said, balling his fists. “You just had a new shipment of loot brought in from Renhold yesterday! There was a whole assortment of treasures, enough to choke you with!”

The Dragon got to his feet, flashed Loran his razor-sharp teeth, and snorted a plume of heavy smoke into his face. Loran went into a fit of coughing, waved the smoke away from his face and got even closer to the Dragon – closer than he’d ever dared.

“And speaking of choking, you choked down three sheep – I repeat – three sheep and a full wheelbarrow of corn last night! That’s enough to feed two bloody dragons!” Loran didn’t know that for certain, but he decided to run with it. “And now you’ve nearly killed me twice! I’ve but up with your shit, quite literally, for the last six months, and you say thank you by trying to fry me like a plucked hen? Oh yeah, and the next time you do decide to relieve yourself, you’ll do it in the cart over there!”

“Be quiet, meal, and listen!” boomed the Dragon. “Loran’s chest was heaving, half out of fear, half out of exhilaration and anger. He couldn’t believe he was still alive. The dragon continued, “I am…not well.”

Loran squinted and looked at the Dragon with suspicion. “Dragon’s don’t get sick.”

“Magic,” replied the Dragon, turning his head. “There is magic at work, meal. Cursed ma -…” The Dragon collapsed again, his magnificent, translucent black wings shooting straight out to his sides and his long neck and head landing just a few feet from Loran. He jumped back, and as he did so he spotted something clasped in the Dragon’s right claw. The Dragon let go his grip, and immediately Loran recognized it.

It was the golden mace, adorned with sapphires, emeralds and rubies, brought back by Sir Clayton from Renhold last night. The Dragon had slept with it beneath his scaled belly last night, and as it rolled down a small pile of gold and stopped at Loran’s feet, he shot back a step as something spilled out from its hollow, ornamental shaft.

It was a single, curled finger wrapped around a piece of paper, barely visible in the dimly lit chamber. Loran reached down, picked it up, cracked back the finger and carefully removed the piece of paper. He then read it out loud so that the Dragon could hear:

Treasure plundered, treasure earned.

Lives be lost. Death be yearned.

White death consumes you, it will consume your soul

When the dragon turns, your King will fall


Loran dropped the piece of paper and stepped back from the Dragon, slowly. The Dragon watched his every step and snarled.

“So my Keeper thinks I will die. I wonder what King Gertrand would think of that?” said the Dragon, bearing his teeth in a nasty, unnatural grin. Loran stopped moving. “Those are just words, Keeper. Words on parchment! I’ve had steel run clean through my chest in the Battle of Golgamet! My throat was cut before I devoured half an army in the war against Treyth! And here I stand!”

“Renhold used to hold some of the finest dark magic users in the Kingdom,” said Loran, absently. “You’d be surprised what some of those masochistic, robed freaks could pull off. I mean, just last –.”

“Enough!” roared the Dragon, slamming his tail down just inches from Loran’s feet. Once again, the ground shook and the gold and precious other metals slid and clinked and shifted about all around him. To anyone else it would have been music to their ears. To Loran, it sounded like his death. He continued his backward ascent toward the doorway, keeping his gaze solely fixed on the Dragon.

“Open the ceiling, now!” the Dragon bellowed, looking away from Loran. And after a few moments of silence, the new guard on duty began to turn the crank, opening the roof and letting in the morning sun. “Come back with my dinner, Keeper, or be my dinner.” Loran nodded, his heart racing.

The Dragon took to the air, beating his wings slowly and gaining momentum as the ceiling opened wide. But Loran could see that he was struggling. Pain and frustration was taking over as he moved higher and higher, only a few feet at a time. And then Loran saw it; saw it just before the Dragon disappeared through the opening.

A white, solid circular growth protruded from the Dragon’s dark, black underbelly, and it seemed to be moving, breathing and even growing in the few second glimpse Loran was afforded. Something was definitely wrong, he just didn’t know what. And then, suddenly, Loran really began to panic.

Wide-eyed, he clutched at his chest, and then ripped off his tunic completely. Now in his underwear, he pawed at himself and jumped around like a lunatic, and, finding nothing on his chest, legs and arms, he made one last inspection. He closed his eyes, prayed to all seven Gods at once and looked into his drawers.

Loran dropped to the ground and took a long and deep breath. Nothing there. Nothing abnormal anyway.

“But the King’s Dragon…” Loran whispered to himself. He put his clothes back on and bolted for the door. The guard on the other side gave him a concerned look but said nothing, finding little strange about a Keeper running from a dragon’s lair. So Loran continued up the long stairs and into the main castle, his head full of worry. If the Dragon was sick and up and died, he would be blamed for it. Even worse, if the ominous poem rang true, and there was magic at work like the Dragon said, they were all in trouble.

Loran burst through a pair of heavy-set doors and into the massive, brilliant courtyard. It was early morning, and the trees and grass surrounding the white brick pad and fountain still held their dew and glistened in the rising sun. It would have warmed Loran’s heavy heart, but behind the beauty stood the newest addition to King Gertrand’s kingdom; an entirely new castle built with the wealth and power that came alongside having a dragon. For not all the gold, silver and diamonds had found their way to the King’s Volcano, as the people called him. No, King Gertrand was doing just fine for himself.

The outer castle was made entirely of black marble with gold etchings running through each and every giant slab. The etchings told exaggerated tales of King Gertrand’s taming of the Dragon and his subsequent conquering of the entire continent of Cormandy. What was more, each and every battle that was won while he sat on his throne and filled his giant stomach, meant a brand new story to tell. This meant a new addition to the castle at a huge cost to the people.

But without the King’s Volcano, his castle was nothing. It was built for magnificence, not practicality or defense, and without the always-looming threat of the Dragon to keep King Gertrand’s many enemies at bay, the greatest kingdom this side of the world would fall to ruins.

Loran sped across the courtyard, past the great fountain and through another set of doors leading into the black castle. Almost immediately he was given orders to halt by a group of guards who stood lazy and comfortable at their posts inside the walls. He ignored them and ran past the slow and heavily armored guards at a blazing speed, ducking under a pair of crossed spears that attempted to bar his entry to the throne room.

With half a dozen guards screaming bloody murder behind him, Loran crashed through the throne room door, out of breath and stunned by his own insolence. The King had beheaded people for much less. He had quite the reputation.

“What is the meaning if this?” boomed King Gertrand as he stood up from his massive golden throne. If Loran hadn’t been terrified for his own life he would have laughed aloud. The King’s throne, which was supposed to be a grand display of wealth and power, had the opposite effect on Loran. It made Gertrand look miniature, as if a small doll had been placed on the throne and not a man.

“There’s a problem, your Highness. A problem with the Dragon,” said Loran, his voice strong, masking the nervous energy he felt with spears at his back and violent eyes at the front.

The Dragon? Don’t you mean my Dragon?” Gertrand replied, gritting his teeth and shaking as he spoke. An assortment of gold chains around his neck jingled along with his jowls with every movement. “And what do you have to do with my Volcano, peasant?”

“Father,” said a woman at his side in full plate armor. Her long, brown hair fell in two braids over her broad shoulders, and she wore a single emerald necklace around her neck that seemed to shine brighter than anything else in the room. “This is your Dragon’s Keeper. His name is Loran.”

She remembers my name?

Henrietta, the King’s only daughter and heir to the throne, gave Loran a quick look, smiled and then returned her attention to her father, who grunted back at her with disapproval.

“So this is our Dragon’s Keeper then, is it?” said the King, sitting back down into his massive throne. “Well then, what is the problem with my Volcano, Keeper? Is he trying to eat you like the first twelve or are you just tired of cleaning his shit?” The courtiers and guards in the room laughed, and despite the distasteful nature of the joke, Loran was relieved – relieved to hear the spears at his back return to their upright positions.

“I’m afraid that me getting eaten is the least of your problems, my King. The Dragon is sick – ill with a wasting disease that has made him weak and unpredictable. I fear for the lives of the kingdom’s people, and yourself and your lovely daughter most of all, your Highness.”

“Sick?” said the King, returning to his feet, approaching Loran. “Tell me, Keeper – who has been feeding my Dragon these past few months?”

Loran knew what was coming, but had no choice but answer with truth. “I have, your grace.” He was a dead man.

“And is it not your job to ensure all food that is given to my Dragon is of the highest quality? Rid of disease and poison?”

“Yes, of course your Highness. But I assure you…”

“Enough! It’s plain to me what has happened.” King Gertrand began to pace back and forth, staring through Loran with hateful eyes. “You have poisoned my Dragon’s food, and in doing so you have condemned the kingdom!” The courtiers gasped and the guards grumbled. Henrietta shook her head in disapproval, but not at Loran. “Guards, prepare him for the block…immediately! Lucius, check on my Dragon for me. I’ve heard this Keeper was once a whoremaster, which makes him a liar.” Loran dropped to his knees, his mouth agape. “And find the man who recommended this peasant to me. I don’t care if it’s Sir Clayton himself! Penance will be paid!”

The guards grabbed Loran by the wrists and bound his hands in chains. He stared at the people in the room in shock, feeling incredibly stupid for even coming. And then he met Princess Henrietta’s gaze. She stared at him with pity, a look that told Loran she was sorry but could do nothing. They were both helpless with King Gertrand steering the ship.

A strange cracking, squishing sound could be heard from behind them. To Loran it sounded like a skeleton running with wet boots, but nobody else had seemed to hear it. Loran took a quick look over his shoulders and then ducked immediately.

A massive battleaxe wielded by Sir Clayton, was swung in the direction of the guards holding Loran. It lodged itself half a foot into the left guard’s side, through plate and all, felling him on the spot with a horrendous scream. The guard on Loran’s right turned to intercept, but Clayton ripped his helm off and bashed him across the side of the face with it, sending him toppling to the ground in a heap.

If it hadn’t been for mitigating circumstances, Loran could have sworn Clay had come to save him. However, truth was, Clay didn’t care for much anyone but himself, and when Loran saw that the white, webby fungus had consumed the entire lower half of his body, and perhaps more underneath his chainmail, he knew the true gravity of the situation. Clay was infected with the mace’s magic, just like the Dragon.

“Sir Clayton, stand down now!” screamed the King, his gold chains swinging back and forth as he stomped toward him.

“Father, no!” screamed Henriette, drawing the sword from her scabbard.

“Shut up, girl!” he snapped, now face to face with the deranged knight. “I know my men, and this noble soldier is one of my best. He wouldn’t lift a finger against his King, isn’t that right, Sir Clayton?”

Loran cringed.

Clayton’s hands shot up from his waste like lightning, and with dead eyes that looked nowhere, he jammed his thumbs into the King’s temples and pushed with great force. The King screamed as Clayton moved his white lips to his right ear and whispered something unheard by anyone else. Something the owner of this terrible magic had to say to the King. And with a sharp twist of Clayton’s wrists, King Gertrand’s neck snapped with a single crack that echoed loud throughout the large throne room. The dead King fell, eyes wide open, and when he hit floor the sound of chains was loud enough to temporarily disorient everyone in the room.

All but Henrietta that was. Neven watched as she silently ran from her place beside the throne, drew her sword, leaped into the air and drove the steel through Clayton’s heart. He too fell like the King, and Loran gasped as the white fungus rolled off the knight’s body like sand and then disappeared into the cracks of the black marble floor.

“Father, oh god,” cried Henrietta, collapsing to the dead King’s side. But it was strange. There was no surprise in her cry, as if she had been expecting this moment to come at any time. Perhaps she had. There were more people on the continent of Cormandy wanting Gertrand dead than there were people wanting him alive, and no king with his track record died of natural causes.

A moment of shock and awe ran through those in attendance, and all, including the new Queen, Henrietta, remained silent and still in mourning. For his part, Loran was confused, unsure how to feel. After all, Gertrand had wanted him dead.

Queen Henrietta got up from the black marble and approached Loran, who sat on the floor, cross-legged and chained. “The white growth on Sir Clayton. Is that the same strange form of life that has plagued my father’s dragon?” she asked, serious and worried.

Loran nodded. Henrietta walked over to one of the guards, snatched the key for his chains and freed his hands. He took a deep breath, knowing that his death would wait a little while longer at least.

“You’re going to have to kill our dragon,” she said, pointing down at him. He rose to his feet, wiped the dust off his tunic and laughed.

“Me? Please excuse me when I say this my Queen, but I clean shit for living.”

“Exactly,” she said, grabbing his hand and smiling. “I have a plan.”
Hopefully I finish this baby off next week. We'll see what I'm able to get accomplished! Let me know what you think, and feel free to share anything!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

"Just Write" Challenge - The Keeper

This next post was inspired by Lynn Viehl: a professional author and blogger that I read daily and constantly motivates me to keep writing.

A week back, she challenged her blog followers to put down whatever they were working on every Thursday and "Just Write". You can find her original post here, and I invite everyone to try it out. It's truly inspiring, and a nice way of getting away from editing/novel writing for a day. And who knows: maybe you'll pump out some gold?

Here is what I was able to put together today. I've had this story idea for a while now, so it flowed like a six pack of beer after a hard week of work. Hope you enjoy, and there will be more to come I'm sure!

“He’s been a little out of sorts lately, hasn’t he? Even after the last haul!” said the guard holding the chamber door.
“Out of sorts? Out of sorts he says! Tell me, Clay: when you’re in a sour mood or have a bad case of indigestion, do you breathe fire and attempt to fry the one person in charge of looking after you?”
“Well, I mean to say -.”
“When you’re having an absolute stinker of a morning, do you waddle over to your chambermaid and attempt to cleave her in half with your longsword? Do you, knight?
“Well!” said Sir Clayton, smiling as he winked. “Well that depends on what longsword we’re talking about!”
Loran’s face soured. “And they tell us simple folk that you knights are supposed to be of a noble breed. Funny, that.”
“No, no, you got it all wrong you simpleton,” replied Clay, patting Loran on the shoulder as he smiled. “Us knights, we only breed with the noble. And between you and me, our definition of noble has been on the liberal side for some time now. Noble can mean many things! Noble heart, noble character, noble breasts…”
Loran snorted and removed Clay’s hand. “You don’t need to lecture me on the finer points of nobility. Didn’t King Gertrand call the sack of Renhold a “most noble endeavour and conquest”? How many unarmed men did you and your fellow knights maim and kill?”
Clay shrugged, unperturbed. “You wouldn’t know anything of this, Keeper, but unarmed men and armed have one thing in common: Neither are too fond of parting with their treasures, and both will fight like fools to keep them. We do what we must, you know that. In fact, you probably know that better than anyone else in the kingdom.”
Loran looked into the chamber from whence he came and nodded. A shiver ran down his back. “Yes, I suppose I do. All too well.” He sighed. “Tell me, Clay. How long must I keep at this before the King takes me into his service?”
“Well then we get back to the question of nobility.”
“What, do you don’t think my chest very noble?”
The guard laughed aloud. “Hardly! And even if you had the greatest tits this side of Cormandy, I’ve never heard of a whoremaster’s bastard son becoming a knight.”
A small grin found its way onto Loran’s face and he shrugged. “You know you’re probably right. But I’ve never heard of a whoremaster’s bastard son becoming the King’s personal Dragon’s Keeper either.”
“A glorified chambermaid, really. Except the room is a bit bigger and most of us humans actually use the chamber pot,” he replied, pointing at himself with mocking pride.
Loran looked back into the Dragon’s lair and scowled. The large wagon he had painstakingly placed in the corner of the huge room was empty as usual. Apparently, you could teach a dragon to talk, eat vegetables and obey the King, but you couldn’t train it to shit in a wagon. Or perhaps you could and the Dragon just enjoyed watching Loran on his hands and knees cleaning chunks of lamb carcass off his treasures.
“So are you headed back in, or should I tell the King he needs a new whoremaster’s son?” asked Clay, raising his eyebrows as he looked in the direction of the lair.
“No, there’s no need for that my young and valiant knight. You just keep tight here on the other side of the door and guard our poor Dragon from the mice, while I enter his chamber and politely ask him why he all of a sudden prefers medium rare human to alive and wriggling all of a sudden.”
“I think he’s just a little out of sorts is all,” said the guard smiling a wry smile. Loran could have slapped it off of him. “Well, good luck in there, Keeper. I’m head back upstairs for a bath. To be honest, I haven’t been right since our glorious sack of Renhold.”
“Sure, I’ll be fine down here,” said Loran, as he blew a lock of singed blonde hair from his forehead. He swallowed hard enough that it was audible. “Suppose I’ll have to go back in there eventually, right?”
He turned back around to face Clayton, but the knight had already begun to silently trudge back up the long staircase and into the castle hallways above where his safe and comfortable room would be waiting for him. Loran was alone.
So he did the only thing he could do, and swung open the small, steel door before stepping inside the lair for the second time that morning. Loran was afraid.
In nearly six months of tending to the giant, black beast, the Dragon had not once lashed out at him in any way. Moments ago, however, Loran had come within an inch of his life when the Dragon let out a torrent of flame for no reason at all. Had he been three or four steps closer, he likely would have been fried on the spot. Another dead Dragon’s Keeper.
Loran had thought the two of them had a relationship; one that benefitted the both of them. And while it was true that relationship was largely based on food and gold, like most relationships he’d been a part of, Loran thought the Dragon preferred him alive over dead. It was perhaps the greatest compliment a monstrous beast with an insatiable hunger for flesh could give you. But Loran was angry now. It had all been a damned lie!
So it was with great care now that Loran walked deeper and deeper into the Dragon’s lair, past his giant mounds of gold and silver that loomed above him like shining mountains. Every one of his steps this time around were with great purpose, for Loran had to be certain not to trip and kick over the Dragon’s delicately placed objects that stuck up from the gold and silver like trophies, as if the Dragon had collected them himself. There were bronze statues of men who had long since passed on, some legends, and others unnamed. Gold pocket watches lay about this way and that, some still ticking and others in need of winding. Entire sets of armor, polished by the Dragon’s Keeper himself, were scattered about the lair as well, perhaps enough of it to equip half a legion of men. There was enough wealth around Loran to build twenty more castles twice the size of this one, yet in its magnificence he began to tremble for fear of its owner. But he pressed on anyway.
Because if there was anything to be said about Loran Dornstead, it was that he never backed down from a challenge. For his entire life had been a challenge from the moment he was born.
When his mother had died giving birth to him in his father’s brothel, his father, wanting nothing to do with him, gave Loran to his whores so that they could raise him instead. When Loran grew up smarter and savvier than his free-spending half-brothers, his father re-adopted him into the family business and made him a minor partner. Then, when Loran had made enough money, he told his father to go screw a meat grinder and started up his own brothel, taking over half of his maidens of money with him. It was there his ladies provided their services to the knights of the kingdom for a pretty penny, and it was there that he made his connections. Loran had always wanted to reach higher than his birthright would have normally allowed, and he had found a pathway to knighthood in the most unlikely of ways.
Loran made friends with those that visited. He was always good to the women that worked for him, and because he was good to the women, they were good to the men that visited them. So good in fact that one of his closest friends, Sir Auric Caderant, approached him with a proposal. Auric had fallen in love with Loran’s favorite, Missy, and the knight wished to marry her. However, knights under the King Gertrand were expected to marry into families appropriate to their standing, and therein lied the problem.
Never one to stand in the way of love, Loran agreed to forge Missy’s birth papers and relieve her of her duties at the brothel under one condition: he wanted a spot in the King’s service, his own step up in the class ladder that was so stiff and orderly that many a nun had called it suffocating. And so it happened.
With the blessing from Sir Auric, King Gertrand himself had asked Loran to be his thirteenth Dragon’s Keeper. It wasn’t exactly what Loran had expected from the deal, but becoming a knight apparently wasn’t that easy. It was even more unsettling when he learned about the fates of his predecessors.
The first eleven Keepers had apparently done quite poorly at their jobs, lasting but a few weeks each before becoming food or disappearing with no immediate explanation from the Dragon. Luckily for Loran, The twelfth had learned from the experiences of the previous eleven, and had lasted nearly two years, having perfected the recipe for keeping King Gertrand’s weapon of mass destruction happy: a constant supply of food, and an ever-increasing supply of treasure.
It took eleven men to discover the Dragon was greedy. So when the twelfth Keeper told King Gertrand that more gold meant a happy and obedient dragon, the King raised taxes and began to raid the outlying provinces to increase his wealth. Not a single kingdom, not even his own, was safe from his plundering armies. And when a formidable resistance was mounted, the ceiling of the Dragon’s lair was pulled back and the Dragon waged its own war. The black behemoth was unstoppable, perhaps impossible to kill, and as far as the King was concerned, he was worth his weight in gold one hundred times over.
“Where are you, Dragon?” Loran whispered to himself. But his voice echoed and he froze. “Sandra was right, I do have a death wish…”
The Dragon was nowhere to be seen in the lair. The ceiling was closed, and now that he was in the center of the room he could see everything. The mounds of gold rose at least fifty feet into the air on either side of him, and came down like a valley in the middle, where the Dragon usually slept, ate and played with his newest treasures. For the only treasures he cared for were the new ones, and that fascination usually only lasted a few weeks, maybe a month if the kingdom was lucky. Yet, if a single, long lost and forgotten gold coin went missing, lives were lost for each piece unaccounted for. Somehow the Dragon always knew.
“Dragon!” yelled Loran, testing his luck. But there was no answer. No fire-breathing, and no eating. He could do his job and let the King worry about his Dragon. Big ten-tonne beasts didn’t just disappear after all.
Loran went to work. He ran over to the chamber-wagon, and beneath it he grabbed a shovel and turned upright an old and rusted wheelbarrow. He rolled it over to a mound of feces he spotted on the opposite side of the lair, took out his shovel and inspected the specimen.
“Son of Theros! Too much protein in his diet…I better talk to the King about this. It’s a single solid piece, hard as rock! How am I supposed to deal with this?” Loran said aloud as he always did when he worked alone. It helped pass the time.
But when he thrust the shovel into the pile of dung, it hit solid and sent a shock through his upper torso. Loran’s eyes went wide, and he dropped his shovel and scampered backward.
“Grrrrrrrr….” Loran heard as the ground began to rumble beneath his feet. He looked side to side, and then toward the exit, but it was too late. The gold and silver began to heat up and glow orange and then red. He felt the leather on his shoes turn black, and that was all it took. Loran ran for his life, tripping over spears, swords and greaves as his legs moved faster than the rest of his body could keep up.
A burst of flame erupted from below, the force of the blast toppling Loran over and onto the ground. He tried to scramble to his feet, but the black tail of the Dragon erupted from the treasure and sent him headfirst into a pile of shining silver, almost knocking him senseless. For a moment he lay there prone, and half-thought of digging himself a place to hide out. Then he remembered the Dragon could smell him coming from a mile away; two miles if he hadn’t bathed in a few days.
“Stop!” roared the Dragon, flames shooting out from his cave-like nostrils. “Help me, Keeper…”
Loran turned up from his belly just in time to see the black beast topple over like a giant, scaled shadow, sending the treasure flying about in every direction. Something was very wrong. His tail whipped overtop Loran’s head, and then slammed into one of the huge mounds to his right. A landslide of wealth forced him to his feet for fear of being buried alive, and he ran toward the belly of the beast, which sizzled his eyebrows and nose hairs as it continued to glow red hot with fire.
“Dragon, enough with the fire already!” screamed Loran, now only ten or so feet away from the beast. The heat was unbearable. “You do realize that fire kills humans! And when fire kills humans, we can’t help Dragons!”
More to come next Thursday when I pick this up again! Woohooo!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

First crack at a ballad

Recently I've decided to incorporate a ballad into my novel. Without context it's a little strange for sure, but it's my first crack at writing one, so here we are:

The Ballad of Trekt

The world was full of wonder, something has gone amiss

You might think me a liar, but let me tell you this

Nothing is what it seems, we must find our way

Over the Ghastly Peaks, and into the red abyss


Rely not on what you see, and listen to me speak

If curiosity stirs you awake, I know of what you seek

It requires one to jump, and to give the clouds a kiss

Over the Ghastly Peaks, and into the red abyss


A queen without a head, a town without a death

A land without a ruler, taking its last breath

If you leave this land, these things you cannot miss

Over the Ghastly Peaks, and into the red abyss


Men without a pulse, that none can keep at bay

Creatures without a face, but much they have to say

Tread lightly or you’ll fail, to have much to reminisce

Over the Ghastly Peaks, and into the red abyss


If I could leave you one line, to remember my fellow man

It’s that Destiny chimes the bells, of only those who can

Hope to save this world, one so torn from bliss

Over the Ghastly Peaks, and into the red abyss
This ballad is what gets the motor running for my main troupe of characters, providing them clues on what lies ahead, and foreshadowing for the reader. It was pretty fun to dream up, and while it's not final, I am quite happy with it!
Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Cheers!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Back on the wagon with a novel update and a few short book reviews!

After a holidays full of boozin', a beautiful wedding, a few days of family and this awesome card game called Bang!, I'm finally back on the writing train - full steam ahead!

This blog and my novel are back on the go, and I'm proud to say I'm nearly eight chapters through my novel, and about 45,000 words. I've already reached that "novella" range, yet I'm only a third through my story. Should be interesting to see what makes the cut in the end :)

I've also been reading a few books as of late, except I have this horrible habit of reading a whole bunch at once. I have two on the go on iBooks, one in the washroom, and then my night shifts are comprised of listening to audiobooks in my snow plow. All in all it's a terribly confusing way to read/listen novels, but I've become pretty damn good at it. And my wife tells me I can't double task.

Here are a few of the books I've either finished reading, or are near finished reading.

The Lies of Locke Lamora - by Scott Lynch Rating: 9.5/10

This is the best fantasy novel I've read since the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It tells the tale of a misfit group of thieves that call themselves the Gentlemen Bastards, led by Locke Lamora. It is funny, tragic, and the character development is unmatched by anything else that I've ever read. You fall in love with these characters, especially the relationship between Locke and his close friend, Jean.

Red Seas Under Red Skies - by Scott Lynch Rating 8/10

The sequel to Lynch's first installment almost lived up to the first, but lacked a few of the key characters from The Lies of Locke Lamora that I fell in love with. Notably I missed Chains, the false priest who trained Locke and Jean in the art of thievery and survival on the streets. The addition of romantic interests would also appeal to some. Still a stellar book.

The Diary of a Frazzled Mother - by Julia Frazzleby Rating 7/10

A fellow winner in The Novelist Contest, Julia Frazzleby's compilation of the ongoings, trials and tribulations that her quirky family faces on a daily basis are simply hilarious. She is a fantastic writer, and has a funny bone that I am truly envious of. This usually isn't my genre, but it was on sale for $1.00 on Amazon and iBooks over the holidays, and I believe it still is. So pick it up, give it a read, and you won't regret it!

The Grapes of Wrath - by John Steinbeck Rating 8.5/10

An absolute classic, and I'm embarrassed to say this is my first time picking this up and giving it a go. Steinbeck's dialogue and symbolism are legendary. You fall in love with the Joad family, and the book makes you yearn for the rural life, but fear it at the same time. The chapters that diverge from the plotline and work like more of an epitaph on the state of the United States and the farmers during the Great Depression are probably my favourite parts of the book. He has inspired me to look at writing differently. To be creative, and to not be afraid to stray away from the plotline as long as what you have to say is worth saying. Everything Steinbeck has to say is worth saying, and I can only hope that some day I am half the writer he is.

Allegiant (Divergent series Book #3)- by Veronica Roth Rating 2/10

To put it bluntly, Veronica Roth completely shit the bed with the final installment of her widely successful Divergent series. It's too bad, because there is a reason she was so successful with her first two books. I fell in love with Tris, Four, and the rest of the cast in the first two books. They got me through some pretty rough days, living on my own without my wife in a hamlet of 300 people during the summer of 2012. Then she churns out this pile of donkey doo.

In truth, I didn't even finish it. I got through 200 pages, and just couldn't do it. Veronica's characters all of a sudden seem fake, and she ends each and every chapter with a passionate kiss or a bitchy fight between her two protagonists that seem altogether way too fake. And the new characters she introduces have no depth, no personality, and are thrown into the plot like a small twig into a set of giant, turning cogs - just another small hurdle that gets in the way but are otherwise pointless and ineffective. It's like she completely lost her inventive spirit, and decided to turn it into a facking romance novel when she found out Hollywood wanted to make a trilogy of movies. Well the Twilight fans will love it, but I for one am deeply disappointed.

It's too bad that my longest review had to be so negative, but there you have it. Easily the biggest flop of 2013 for me.


And there you have it, some quick reviews on a few choice books I've read over the past few months. If you've read any of them, or want to know more, feel free to leave a comment below, and I'll be happy to answer! :)

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Holy Sh*t I Won..

Hello readers!  You probably amount to about 3 at this point, but that's neither here nor there.  When I completely take over the blogosphere someday, we'll look back at my meek and feeble origins in disbelief!  (hah...riiight)

So I mentioned a while back I was participating in this contest called The Novelist, where 20 writers were pitted against each other in a competition (kind of like the American Idol of writing without the fanfare and pomp!).  Every week one person with the least votes was removed from the competition until there were only 2 remaining.  I was lucky enough to make the top 2 with fellow author Stuart Howorth (great writer in his own right), and in a huge twist, the authors who were removed from the competition weeks and months earlier voted for the winner (along with votes from the public).  Not entirely sure how much clout they had in deciding the winner, but I am proud and honoured to say that I came out on top in voting, and I've won The Novelist Season 3!

With that, I receive a publishing deal, and I hope to have my novel The Tournament of Hearts: The Librarian Gladiator completed this upcoming Spring (March-April).  After editing and once cover art is completed, it should be published in time for next summer, when Season 4 of the Novelist gets underway.  I encourage all three of you reading this to join the competition, or at least throw your name in the hat by going to or downloading the app on iTunes (just search "The Novelist" and you'll find it).  I'll be paying attention, so if you do get into the contest, comment on my blog and I'll be sure to vote for ya!

After I talk with the publishing house, I'm going to find out if I'm allowed to post excerpts from my novel here on my blog.  In the meantime, you can read my first two chapters on the above website as a teaser.  It's received pretty good reviews so far, and I'm so excited to share the rest with the public! 

So keep reading.  I'll be updating this much more often now that the competition is completed.

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Novelist Contest

Well took me a little while to fire off my first real blog post, but here goes nothing!

So over the past three months I have been participating in an incredible contest called the Novelist.  I stumbled upon the app on the iTunes store when I was super bored one day, and decided to give it a download just to check it out.  Initially I thought it was a free writing guide, and I was looking for some guidance for writing my first novel to fill the void I felt after finishing my post-secondary education.  But I quickly found out that it wasn't an app to help your writing, but instead it was actually promoting a contest for writers, where anyone could send in a synopsis of their book with a chance to be entered into this contest.  So I did one day, and then I forgot about it.

Four months later I received an e-mail, telling me that I made the cut into the top 20 and that I would have to send in a picture and an updated synopsis for the first round of the contest.  I was pumped, but a little afraid as well.  First because I was scared that this was some dating site and they were trying to steal a sexy selfie of yours truly, and second because I had never shared my writing with the public.  I wasn't sure how people would respond to my writing since I am an amateur in every sense of the word, plus I was never quite great at taking sexy selfies! *gasp!*

You see, in order to get further into the contest, the public had to vote for their favourite short stories every week, so that meant the contestants had to write a brand spankin' new short story every week (varying in topic and between 2000-8000 words long).  This in itself was incredibly nerve-racking, both having to write something new every week, and then having family, friends and the random public all judge your work  On top of that, each of the contestants still left in the Novelist competition sent you comments regarding your work every week.  I'm a pretty self-conscious person, and taking strong criticism isn't my strong suit, so you can imagine my trepidation.

But I stuck with it, and lo and behold I've made it into the top 3!  I suppose I should have mentioned earlier that the winner receives a publishing deal.  I think I have a pretty decent shot to at least make it into the top 2, because I feel quite strongly about my short story this week.  But I invite anyone who reads this to go to the site and judge for themselves.  If you like the story, chuck me a vote!  If not, go suck a lemon! (kiddin'...hahaha)  But seriously, give the other contestants a look too.  Especially Stuart Howorth.  Guys got some skill!

And if you are interested in writing yourself, I recommend you go and check it out, maybe send in your own entry and take a trip down this exciting road.  You won't regret it!

The website is:
Click on "Newest Issue"

I know the web address seems suspicious.  The people who put on this contest have rights to that domain name, so they chose to piggy back the ".com" they owned already, just by adding an extension.  Trust me.  I'm a stranger.  It's safe!

Until next time!  Don't be afraid to check back now and then, because trust me.. I'll be busy writing nothing as usual :)