Be careful what you put your name on…once published, there are no do-overs

When growing up, my mom and dad always taught me to think about my actions before acting.  They taught me every move has a consequence.  They taught me the value of a reputation.  If you break the law, you’ll be remembered as a criminal.  If you habitually drink, you’ll be labeled an alcoholic.  If you smoke dope and pop pills, you’ll be a druggie.  If on the other hand you do good deeds, help people, are involved in the community, you’ll be thought of as a humanitarian, a philanthropist, a caring person.  If you drop everything you’re doing to be with someone in physical or emotional pain, you’re considered the truest of friends.

The same advice used to get through life should also be applied to writing.  If you can help it, try not to put your name on something you aren’t 100% proud of.

I did that once.  One of my favorite short stories appeared in an anthology I am not 100% proud of.  See, I took on a job as ‘editor’ for an aspiring authors writer’s group I was in. The founder and publisher decided to put together an anthology of the member’s works.  There was no set theme, no cohesion, and, it was a ‘pay for inclusion’ publication for members only.  I cringed inside when I realized too late into the project I had very little ‘editing’ control over the submitted pieces. By then, I’d made a commitment to see the project through.  My reputation was on the line.  The result featured snippets of novels, short stories, some complete short stories, and some errors that would make most editors and polished authors quiver.  While it was a morale booster to those who submitted, the finished work was not what I had envisioned.  My name was on something I wasn’t 100% proud of.  I didn’t get to perform my job the best I should have, the best I would have, if given control of the reins.

Was the experience a bad one?  No, nor do I regret it.  I learned a lot.  I met some really wonderful people.  I gained experience of working with over 20 authors for one project, which was way cool.  I worked on cover design, formatting text, placement of stories.  It wasn’t a complete wash, but I wish I hadn’t included one of my favorite short stories.  Because it was published in this anthology, no magazine or publisher will touch it, even though I gave up no rights.  I’m looking at publishing it as a stand-alone e-book short story, that’s how much I love this southern paranormal tale.

We hear all the time of actors and actresses who say they regret making some of their first films.  Susan Sarandon has stated several times she would like to forget her role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Ironically, that is one of her most remembered and beloved roles.  I’m not going to go so far to say I wish I hadn’t participated in the anthology but I did learn valuable lessons like the importance of determining where your work appears.  Remember, in the publishing world…there are no do-overs, so make sure you do your best to get it right the first time.

Who places first, the swordsman or the archer?

There is no doubt that 17-year old David Heiland, archery champion, is the main character in my novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING. From the appearance of inexplicable runes to mysterious letters to the discovery of a parallel world on the brink of war, the story is 100% his.

Or is it?

My second main character is Eric Hamden, an 18-year old squire and expert swordsman, determined to find the solution promised by the seers to keep the realm from war.

For years agents, publishers and editors have stressed the importance of introducing your main character in the first chapter. The reader needs to know who your book is about and why they should be invested in reading it. But what happens if you have two main characters, each with their own goals, each with equal importance? Both characters share POV in the novel. Whose POV do you start with?

After several beta reads and critiques, the overwhelming consensus was that Dragon King needed to begin in Eric’s POV. Even though the story is David’s, the logical flow begins with Eric. I debated it back and forth, thinking of novels where the first chapter didn’t include the main protagonist (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one), and after much deliberation, I changed the order of my novel to put Eric’s POV first. Then I read a couple of articles by agents stressing the importance, especially in YA, of introducing your main character in the first chapter and I changed my opening back to David’s. I threw it back out to different betas and again it came back with suggestions to put Eric’s POV first.

Now, if I’ve learned anything in the beta/critique process it’s this: if one person makes a suggestion, it’s up to the author to decide if the change is valid. If an overwhelming majority suggest the same change…odds are they’re right. In this case, their suggestion coincided with my gut instinct so I changed it back to Eric’s POV first, and there it will stay.

In this case, the swordsman beat out the archer in order of appearance. It’s the only logical decision I could make as Eric’s POV leads directly into David’s story without the need for a Prologue. Let’s hope the publishers and editors agree with all the betas and my gut instinct.

Have you ever had two main characters in your story? Did you ever have to make a decision like this? How did you decide and did your gut instincts pay off?

What I love about my W.I.P.

The lovely Susan at mywithershins posted a fantastic idea for authors:  write a love list about your work in progress.  (the idea originated from Stephanie Perkins on Natalie Whipple’s blog).  The reasoning behind doing this is to keep you, the author, focused on what is important in the story and to keep the creativity alive.  There is no one particular thing you need to focus on.  Simply write a love list of everything you adore about your W.I.P., from characters, to settings, to the writing and or editing process.  I decided to try it because it sounds like the ultimate motivator to keep my muse in gear.

As In the Shadow of the Dragon King is my pride and joy, as well as the two novels in the saga that follow it, I’ve created a love list for the series.  I’ve been working on this series now for seven years off and on, for the last 2 years seriously.  Over the past year, personal issues have kept my muse and me from progressing forward.  Hopefully, this love list will get us both back on track

The Chronicles of fallhollow love list

1) Main character #2 – Eric Hamden – I am in love with this character, more so than the primary main character, David Heiland.  He is 18 years old, cocky, strong-willed, sensitive while remaining quite ‘mannish’.  He speaks his mind, is respectful when he needs to be, and defiant when called for.  He is a squire to the most admired and respected knight in the kingdom of Hirth and is afforded ‘rights’ other squires are not because of that relationship.  He comes off as slightly arrogant, but it’s because he gets irritated by people feeling they are entitled to things just because they’re in a position of power or because they have no power at all.  He abhors those who take what doesn’t belong to them, and he believes an offensive posture in war trumps a defensive position.

2) Main Character #1 – David Heiland – David is almost 18 , wealthy and lives in an 1860s antebellum mansion in Havendale, Tennessee (that’s near Bristol).  His parents are dead.  He is an archery champion, valedictorian, and his best friend is Charlotte Stein.  David likes to think he’s independent and assertive, but he’s actually very trusting…until he realizes his life has been nothing but a  lie.  He is impulsive, acts first and questions later.  His life is filled with drama.  He often feels the need to run away if he feels stuck.  At first, he balks at challenges, then comes to realize he can’t live without them.  He doesn’t like being told what to do, especially by other guys his age.  He’s into classic rock and plays an acoustic guitar.  While he doesn’t like war, he believes defense is better than offense.

3) YA/New Adult Fantasy Genre – I adore this genre. I’ve always been drawn to romantic and not so romantic fairy tales of knights, dragons, fair maidens and castles.  Anything magical and make believe.  When I was growing up, there weren’t a lot of books in this genre, which made me want to write in it.  I figured I couldn’t be the only kid in the world who loved reading fantasy tales where the heroes were kids or young adults.  Practically every story I wrote involved a dragon or some other mystical creature and kids.  I am glad to see the genre evolve over the years and know I have a place my writing can call ‘home’.

3)  Setting – When I first started this series, it began with a group of fairies fleeing their homes because of a war.  The story has changed some much since then.  The series transcends two worlds – Havendale, Tennessee and the fantasy world of Estaria and the realm of Fallhollow.  The bulk of In the Shadow of the Dragon King takes place in Fallhollow.  The second novel brings the characters into Havendale for the majority of the story, and the third marries the two worlds together.

4) The Soundtrack – When my novel is turned into a movie, I want James Horner to do the soundtrack.  I also hear some Aerosmith, Credence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi, ELO, Jane Taylor, and Rebecca Ferguson.  I’d also like Enya to sing the closing song to the 1st movie.  I don’t want much, do I.  😉

5) Mythological creatures – I love dragons, faeries, gnomes, centaurs, etc.  and have included quite a few in my stories.  I’ve even created a few of my own.

6) Two points of view: 3rd person omnipotent – The story is so complex that I couldn’t tell it the way I wanted to in one person’s POV.  I chose David’s and Eric’s as they each have their feet in their own worlds.  I like the omnipotent POV because there can be slight author intrusion provided it doesn’t distract from the character’s telling of the story.

7) The Twist at the End of novels #2 #3 – I wrote the ending to novel #2 before I wrote one word of Dragon King.  It was strong with me when I wrote it and when I go back to read it now, it resonates within me even more than it did then.  I know in my heart that this is the way the 2nd novel has to end as much as I hate it.  It will also leave the reader thinking “WTF just happened!  No!  That can’t happen!  You can’t leave it there!”  The ending to novel #3 brings me to tears every time I read it.  It’s like the ending to the Hunger Games series when you want desperately for Katniss to choose to be with *fill in the blank*, but you know she has to choose *fill in the blank* because it’s the only logical decision.

8)  The Plot – War has come to Fallhollow, and unless David and Eric can stop it, it will come to Havendale and Earth, too.  But how do three mortal teens rein in a dragon, a sorcerer and a council of mages determined to annihilate every non-magical creature across multiple worlds? Enter a knight, two fae and an army of eccentric allies.  Together, David finds the courage he didn’t know he had, and uncovers a hidden truth  that changes everything.

For you writers out there, what’s on your ‘love list’?  Do you think making a ‘love list’ will help you stay focused on your W.I.P.?

Preparing for a hurricane

June 1 through November 30 is Hurricane Season, and for those of us along the east coast and the Gulf of Mexico, those six months are crazy.  The storms are unpredictable at times.  They wobble, some stay true to forecast tracks. Others have minds of their own.

At the moment, Florida and the those living on the Gulf of Mexico are staring down Tropical Storm, Isaac, which some forecasters are saying has the potential of turning into a Category 2 or 3 hurricane before it makes landfall somewhere in the northern Gulf.  I’m not sure about that, but I’ve seen hurricanes do some really weird stuff and I don’t trust them.  If anyone lived on the west coast of Florida in 2005, we all know about the unpredictability of Hurricane Charley.  Tampa (my neck of the woods) was supposed to get that storm.  Instead, it made a sharp right hand turn, elevated to a Cat 4 in the snap of a finger, and slammed into the Captiva/Sanibel/Ft. Myers area, giving no one time to leave.

I don’t know what level of storm Isaac will be when it passes near the Tampa Bay area, but I do know we will be on the east side of the storm, which is the bad side.  The NHC (National Hurricane Center) has given my area sustained tropical force wind probabilities.  That, combined with the rain bands feeding on the east side can cause flooding, beach erosion, uprooted trees and possible tornadic activity.  That’s why I think it’s important that people in the area from Alabama to Florida start preparing for the possibility of being without power, water, etc. once Isaac decides to do his thing.  If you are planning on riding out the tropical storm/maybe hurricane, the following lists are items you MUST have in your possession before the storm hits.  It’s always best to be prepared than not.  As Floridians are also coming into the most active part of hurricane season, the supplies will not go to waste if you don’t use them this time around.

Remember, if you lose power and water, you are going to be miserable, hot and in a very bad mood.  Take inventory of what you already have on your shelves, and then shop.  If you live anywhere from Ft. Myers north, today is the day to get your food and other supplies.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 gallons BOTTLED water per person for at least 3 days, preferably 5
  • 1 gallon bottled water per pet per day
  • enough prescription medication to get you through 10 DAYS if you take any
  • bread
  • canned meat
  • canned chili
  • beenie weenies
  • canned soups that don’t require water
  • mustard/ketchup (no mayo unless you have some way to keep it cold or if you have handy packs from fast food restaurants)
  • canned vegetables and fruit
  • dry cereal
  • peanut butter and jelly
  • crackers and snacks
  • instant coffee or tea
  • instant creamer
  • sugar, salt, pepper
  • juice
  • fresh fruit
  • butter or margarine
  • pet food for your pets
  • bleach
  • diapers
  • baby food
  • antiseptic hand soap
  • paper towels, napkins and utensils
  • paper plates
  • plastic trash bags
  • toilet paper
  • Ziploc baggies
  • DUCK tape
  • wooden matches
  • manual can opener
  • lanterns/flashlights/non-burning candles (don’t want a fire)
  • bug spray
  • battery operated/hand crank radio
  • batteries for radios, lanterns, etc.
  • propane/charcoal/wood for grills
  • charcoal fluid for the charcoal
  • cash
  • coolers for ice and food from fridge
  • fill up bathtub with water for flushing the toilet
  • first aid kit
  • generator and gas to fill it
  • Camping equipment/stoves/etc.
  • board games, playing cards
  • real books
  • ice
  • fill up cars with gas/check oil/tire pressure, etc.

As always, stay tuned to your local forecasts and follow instructions issued by your local authorities. If you’re told to evacuate, go. It’s better to take the precaution than endanger your and your family’s lives.

I would also like to make one more heart-felt request.  If you find yourself in a bad, bad storm, whether it is a tropical storm, hurricane, whatever…do not leave your four-legged friends behind to fend for themselves.  They rely on you to take care of them.  You made that promise when you took them into your home. You would no more abandon your child to fend for itself, so don’t do it to your pets.  If you say they’re just animals, imagine yourself as a helpless child in the midst of a disaster, and your family abandoned you.  It breaks my heart thinking about it.  If you have to go to a shelter and can’t take your pets, please find a friend who will take them for you until you can come back for them.  Prepare.  Have a plan in place in case the worse happens.  Just please, don’t leave them alone.

So I guess that’s it for now.  The weather is sunny here in the Clearwater/Tampa area but it’s getting quite breezy.  I will update our status on my Facebook page.  Unfortunately, we have no money to go anywhere, so whatever Isaac does, we’ll be riding out the storm, whatever comes this way.  Everyone, keep those of us on the Gulf coast in your prayers that Isaac fizzles and becomes a fish storm.  That would be perfect.

Teens and the dangers and side effects of synthetic marijuana and bath salts

There’s a fad sweeping the country and it’s not a good one.

Everyday the news here in Florida is inundated with stories about synthetic drugs, mainly synthetic marijuana and bath salts.  Spice, K2, Ivory Wave – they’re marketed as legal marijuana “incense” and bath salts.  And the companies and people making them are targeting our kids.  Check out the packages below:


The packages are colorful with cartoons or ‘cool’ images that attract kids.  There are all different names:  K-2, Spice, Scooby Snax, Smiley’s, WTF, and Jazz to name a few. And the contents of these packages are killing kids and tearing families apart.

I read an article this morning about a 15-year old girl who was once into sports, always got good grades, enjoyed roller skating, fishing, camping, going to movies and going on hunting trips with her dad.  She was always the center of attention, very outgoing and outspoken.  Then one day she fell into the ‘wrong’ crowd.  She started to pull away from her family.  At first, the parents gave her space, thinking she was just growing up and was going through the typical ‘teen’ withdrawals.  But her behavior became worse and after a bit of ‘investigating’, her parents discovered their daughter was into Spice and K-2.  Her parents intervened but they kept running into walls because of the availability of the drug.  Their 15-year old daughter could walk into the local convenience store across the street from her high school, plunk down a couple of bucks and walk out with this ‘legal’ concoction known to make people hallucinate, have seizures and even die.  It is very frustrating to parents, doctors and law enforcement because these packages contain chemicals that scientists don’t really know what they are.  The manufactures go and change the chemicals as soon as the authorities make them illegal, thus making the synthetic drug legal again.

Teens using the drugs say it’s okay because “it’s legal”  Drug addicts use it because  it doesn’t show up in urine tests.  Others use excuses that alcohol and prescription drug use kill people and cause seizures too, so what’s the difference?

The difference is we know what the long terms effects of alcohol and  many drugs are and have developed help centers and rehab facilities to assist addicts to overcome the addictions.  Prescription drugs are developed and studied over long periods of time and are verified as safe for legitimate use.  Known side effects are listed.  Many times drugs are discontinued because long-term problems arise after 5 – 10 years of use.  In short, the prescription drugs are regulated.  With synthetic drugs, the formulas are always changing, which makes  medical treatment sketchy.

According to Crittenton Hospital Medical Center’s Director of Pharmacy Marc Guzzardo, “Everyone must know that these synthetic marijuana chemicals are much more dangerous than the active ingredient in marijuana.  They are much more toxic, more potent, more addictive and can result in adverse health effects in just minutes after smoking. You should not assume these products are safe or legal just because they are sold in stores.”

People every day, including teens, are being admitted to emergency rooms with seizures and rapid heart rates. Other common symptoms include paranoia, agitation, hallucinations, confusion, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, vomiting, and nausea. Law enforcement officials and physicians have also reported violent behavior in people who indulge in these ‘legal’ drugs, propelling the user into violent rages that often result in physical harm to others as well as irreversible brain damage.  Many users also report their brains and/or skin feel like they’re on fire after smoking synthetic marijuana.  Because there is no oversight into the manufacturing of these ‘drugs’, the strength of the ‘spice’ can vary widely, causing users to react differently to different brands or batches. There have also been reports that these ‘legal’ drugs contain dangerous residues of heavy metals and acetone.

According to the National Institute om Drug Abuse (“NIDA”) 11.4% of high school seniors across the U.S have used synthetic marijuana.

If you are a parent and are concerned that your teen may be using synthetic drugs, watch out for rolling papers and plant materials that resemble incense or potpourri, and packages marked as bath salts.  Look for the mental and physical symptoms of use, too.  Side effects from synthetic bath salts include:

  • increased heart rate
  • agitation
  • lack of appetite
  • increased alertness and awareness
  • anxiety
  • muscle spasms
  • increased blood pressure
  • kidney failure
  • seizures
  • risk of renal failure
  • hallucinations
  • aggression
  • severe paranoia
  • panic attacks

Side effects from synthetic marijuana use include:

  • vomiting
  • loss of consciousness
  • elevated blood pressure
  • seizures
  • increased heart rate
  • agitation
  • dangerous hallucinations

Help is available if you suspect your teen is using synthetic marijuana or bath salts.  In Florida, Operation Par provides help with substance abuse problems.  Treatment varies depending on each case and the cost depends on the plan the child is enrolled in.  Sliding scales are often implemented for those on limited incomes.  There are also rehab centers across the nation who are now offering programs to teens addicted to synthetic marijuana and bath salts.

A sneak peek at The Amulet of Ormisez

Several months ago I shared the great news that J. Taylor Publishing accepted my short story, THE AMULET OF ORMISEZ, for their MAKE BELIEVE anthology coming out December 3, 2o12.  I was thrilled beyond words and all of you were so sweet and wonderful, sharing all your congratulations and good wishes.  I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful followers who support each other in their endeavors.

Today I hit another milestone in this whirlwind publishing process.  So many of you have asked when they will get a sneak peek at the stories in the anthology and I’m happy to say today is the day!  Below you will find the first 250 words (or thereabout) of THE AMULET OF ORMISEZ.  The editing process has been fantastic and there were very, very few changes to the opening page.  What you see here is pretty much the way it looked upon submission, which makes me really, really happy.  I guess all that studying and taking  notes and practicing and reading about opening hooks and the importance of 1st pages paid off in this case.  I want to give a HUGE shout out to my beta readers and critique partners.  Without you, AMULET, may not be where it is today.  You guys rock my world and I can’t thank you enough for all your help and late nights, phone calls and multiple reads.

My story is just one of six fantastic short stories and I am thrilled to appear beside an amazing group of authors.  Please take the time to visit all of their websites over the next several months and get to know them as I have.  As today is the official release date of our sneak peeks, they may have their excerpts up today, too, so make sure you make the rounds, introduce yourself and tell them I sent ya!  Also, if you don’t mind, please click here to add it to your To-Read list.

And now, for your reading pleasure, may I present the first page of The Amulet of Ormisez:

Elton Fletcher urged his horse through the wind and sleet toward the enormous shadow rising from the moors against the darkness.  Sagewick Castle.  Home. Faster and faster he rode, speeding past the hedges and trees hiding the royal palace of Trumwald, his cloak snapping behind him. The horse galloped through the archway of the gatehouse, its nostrils flaring, hooves clopping against cobblestones.

A stout man rushed from the stable house, wool cloak over his head, oil lantern in hand.

“Welcome home, Master Fletcher.”

“Thank you.” Elton dismounted and handed over his horse to the welcoming marshal. “It’s good to be back. Tell me, has Master Cayden retired for the evening?”

“He has not, Lord Elton,” replied a familiar voice, “but might I suggest you tidy up a bit before socializing.”

“Ah, Ferris!” Elton grinned at the man on the steps. “What a pleasant sight! I assume my room has been prepared.”

“Of course, my lord. We’ve been expecting you.”

“Splendid. I’m cold as a corpse. Perhaps you’d like to join me for some apricot brandy and something to eat? I’m famished.” Elton embraced Ferris.

“The brandy is already in your room. I’ll have the servants fetch whatever you wish once you are settled.”

Inside, a slew of servants, waiting by the doorway, greeted Elton with exuberant smiles on their faces.

“Welcome back, Master Elton.”

“It is good to see you again, my lord.”

“May I take your coat, Sir?”

A young boy of no more than ten years stood before Elton, his arms outstretched. Elton smiled and draped his sodden, fur-lined coat and leather gloves across them. Reaching inside his coin pouch, Elton withdrew a gold therap and tucked it in the boy’s trouser pocket. “For your troubles,” he said, tousling the boy’s hair.

The young face beamed with delight as he ran down a marble corridor shouting for his mother, the coat dragging the ground behind him.

“You’d best be careful of your treatment of the hired help, Sir,” said Ferris. “Your brother would not approve.”

“Why?” Elton walked with Ferris down the entrance hall, flanked by roaring fireplaces set between massive columns. His boots echoed with each click upon the black marble floor.

“Things are not as they were when you left two years ago.” They climbed the wide, stone stairway and followed a maze of corridors. Vibrant, handmade tapestries popped against the limestone walls while slender red carpets lay underfoot. Oil lamps flickered against the stone.

It seemed all had remained as Elton recalled.

“Lord Cayden has … changed,” Ferris continued, his face drawn. “He is not what you remember. Watch your step and your generosity.”

Now for a bit about the anthology:

Make Believe

by J.A. BelfieldJennifer M. EatonJ. Keller FordTerri RochenskiKelly SaidLynda R. Young

Release Date: December 3, 2012

Target Reader: Adult

Keywords: FantasyParanormal RomanceRomance


Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski
An impetuous act unwittingly makes Alesuela the fulfillment of the Sovereign’s Blood Oath to their Goddess. In five days, she’ll be forced to make the greatest choice of her life: become the virginal sacrifice already promised, or force the man she loves most to die in her place.

With an impossible choice in front of her, she searches for ways to undo the oath, and in her quest, finds not everything in her life is as she expects.

The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford
There is only one way to save Elton Fletcher’s brother from an insanity-ridden death.

After years away from home, fighting for his people, Elton returns to discover his only sibling, Cayden, possessed by greed and malice, and responsible for malicious, unthinkable deeds. Cayden, though, isn’t the only one afflicted by the Amulet of Ormisez, and Elton finds himself in yet another battle, where the price of failure could be his own life.

Birthright by Lynda R. Young
Christa can mask the pain and hide the scars, but running from a birthright is impossible.

She’s tried to escape her grief by fleeing to a small town in Florida. Much to her frustration, the locals think they recognize her even though she’s never been there before. To make things worse, a man named Jack spouts outrageous theories about her.

Both spur Christa to bolt, to start fresh yet again, but there’s something about Jack that intrigues her enough to stay. The only problem? Someone else wants her to leave, and they won’t stop until she’s dead.

Petrified by Kelly Said
A mysterious storm has replaced summer with winter, devastating crops and smothering Castle lands in snow. Prince Sterling August stands alone as a leader, lost in personal grief as well as a desire to help his people but with an inability to do either.

The answers he needs await him, but without Lochlyn, a woman who’s just as isolated as Sterling, he’ll never see what stands before him, cloaked in illusion.

Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton
Emily is a Red, a woman whose sole purpose in life is to produce offspring. When her husband dies and leaves her childless, she risks her life and forsakes the safety of Terra—a disease-free city born after the nuclear holocaust. Beyond its boundaries, she knows, survives a man with whom she can be properly paired.

The Outside, though, holds secrets the government struggles to keep, and what Emily discovers on her quest for a mate will change her life forever.

Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield
From a charity auction, to a stroll in the park, to the craziest night of her life. Nicole Harrington can’t help but wonder how a simple event went so drastically wrong.

Of course, the male escort she booked is wholly to blame. Not only charming but shrewdly intelligent, Benjamin Gold drags Nicole into a platoon of unimaginable problems—ones from which she’ll have to find the courage just to survive.

Websites of MAKE BELIEVE authors:

J.A. Belfield

Jennifer M. Eaton

Kelly Said

Lynda R. Young

Terri Rochenski

Trinity Blog Tour – character interview with Nidan, Guardian

The following character interview is part of the Trinity Blog Tour.  Please read to the end to find other links to this blog tour.


There’s nothing that I love more than sitting in the tavern, drinking my mead and scribing, and having some wanna be hero sit down and demand to be heard.  It happens all the time.  It’s as if I have some ‘squat and tell me your problems’ sign hanging over my head.  Most of the time I introduce the churlish outlander to my two most trusty and very sharp companions, Rondel and Basilard, but there was something about this blond-haired sack of brawn that intrigued me.  I inclined my head and motioned for my guest to sit as I released Basilard from his scabbard and held him in plain sight.

“What do you want?” I asked, sliding my fingertips along the length of the blade.

The man dressed in black leaned forward and lowered his voice.  “I was told in Orholt by someone sympathetic to my cause that I could find you here.  You are J, devoted amanuensis and conveyor of news?”

My interest piqued.  “What if I am?”

“I have news of the Trinity.”

I leaned forward, more intrigued. “What news do you bring?”

He reached into his rucksack and withdrew pages upon pages of parchment.  “I have relayed my story to the scrivener Clare and she has written everything down for you as it happened.  She hopes you will relay this information to the world.”  He laid the pages before me.

I scanned the words, my heart pounding fast in my chest.  “Who are you?”

“My name is Nidan.  I am the Guardian to Kiana, the current incarnation of the goddess Miale.”

“Guardian?” I queried. “Aren’t you a little young to be a Guardian?”

A smile creased his lips.  “I’m twenty-four.”

I sheathed my dagger and gathered my own sheets of parchment to take notes.  “Keep talking.  Tell me more.”  I dipped my quill into the ink well.

“I don’t understand,” Nidan said, his brow wrinkled in confusion.  “Why are you taking notes on me?”

I stared unwavering into his brown eyes.  “You are the deliverer of unbelievable news that will change the world, that’s why.  I must give credit where it is due.  Now tell me, what are Guardians exactly?”

Nidan shifted uncomfortably.  “We’re warriors, but we’ve also been blessed with Pios’ healing magic. Our primary job is to guard Gettryne from those who seek to harm it, so essentially, the Wolves. A very select few of us are chosen to guard the incarnation of the goddess Miale.”

“And how did you get so lucky to become a Guardian?”

“I don’t see how this is important—”

“Let me decide what is important,” I said without looking up.

Nidan confiscated my flagon, tipped it back and belched.  “When I was sixteen, I was called by Pios. He plagued my dreams at night and was a constant presence in my mind during the day–like a dull headache without reason–until I walked into one of his temples and realized it was where I belonged. Most of the other Guardians I know said a similar thing happened to them.

“After that, I had to train for eight years: learning how to fight and call on Pios’ power in order to heal others. It was very rigorous.”

“Are other members of your family also Guardians?” I asked.

“I’m the only Guardian in my family. My father is a messenger, my mother a seamstress.”

“Hmm,” I said, brushing the quill across my cheek.  I sat back and looked Nidan up and down, taking in his average build.  He was the furthest thing from a warrior I could imagine, yet there was an air of confidence about him that made him a dangerous adversary.  I motioned to the bar wench to bring two more meads.

“You’re an interesting specimen, Nidan. Guardian, warrior, son, lover to a variety of women, I’m sure.  What would you say is your most redeeming quality?  What do you like most about you?”

“I-I don’t know.  That’s a really tough question. I’m not sure I can answer that. If I had to, I’d say my loyalty to Miale, Pios and Gettryne.”

“That seems like it could also be your greatest weakness as well.”

He lowered his eyes. “Yes, I suppose it is.”  He chuckled a little.  “Why else would I have let Kiana talk me into letting her go on her quest?”

The bar wench set down our flagons of mead. I took a swig and said, “It sounds as if you care for Kiana a lot.  Are you ashamed of your feelings?”

He glanced up at me, his eyes wide.  “Ashamed of them?”  He shook his head.  “No. It was awkward at first. I didn’t know how to act or behave around her. Finn had built her up to be something she wasn’t. I got to know her pretty quickly. Once I got over my embarrassment about showing her comfort, it was a lot easier!”

“What did you think of Kiana when you met her?  Did she look like a goddess?”

Nidan smiled.  “She was very talkative! She was also very naive and infuriating at times. But her naivety also made her really endearing. I’d never met anyone like her.”

I thumbed through the parchments he’d given me, growing more excited as I read.  He’d been through a lot.

“What’s the deal with you and this Skaric fellow?  Why do the two of you hate each other so much?”

Nidan’s eyes blackened.  “He’s a Wolf. I’m a Guardian. We’ve been enemies for a thousand years. Plus he’s one of the Wolves twisted mages. Pios took his magic away from the Wolves for a reason; they had no right to find an alternative source of magic, especially not one so twisted.”

It was my turn to be confused.  “Skaric’s a wolf? Literally?”

“No.  He appears as a man, but he is not.  Wolves are our enemy.  Plain and simple. Their self given name is quite fitting, given their brutal, inhuman magic and behavior.”

“Why have the Guardians and the Wolves been at war for a thousand years?”

Nidan’s brows furrowed, his lip twitched at the corner.  “Because one of them murdered the goddess Miale.”

“Yes, well I suppose that could put a damper on things.”  I pulled several strips of jerky from my bag and offered him one. He all but growled at me and smacked it from my hand.

“How can you eat those horrid strips of salt meat?” he asked.  “The Wolves eat those.”

I tore off a piece and chewed.  “And what exactly would you prefer to eat?”  .

He leaned forward, his arm on the table.  “Succulent roast chicken.”

I took another bite of jerky and rehung my bag on the chair.  “Sorry, but I’m all out.”

Nidan tapped his fingers on the table.  “Are you done with your inquisition?  I need to go as I’ve delivered my accounts to you as promised and have far better things to do than sit here and talk to you.”

Now it was my turn to sit back and smile.  “Like what?  What does a Guardian do when he’s not guardianing?”

“That’s not even a word!”

“Small technicality.  Come on, tell me.  What does Nidan do when he’s not guarding or fighting?”

“I’m never not a Guardian. It’s my life. However, when I’m not training, or on duty, I enjoy what most people do: playing dice games; spending time with my family when I get the chance to visit them, frequenting the local tavern.”

“Do you ever change out of your uniform?”

He shook his head.  “No.”

“You say that with some regret.”

“It used to be my favorite item of clothing.  I once felt such pride when I wore it.  Now… now I’m not so sure.  I feel quite differently about my sword, however.  I’ve never held a weapon more perfectly weighted. Then again, it was crafted specifically for me.  Now, if you have no more questions for me, I’m going to take my leave of you.”  He scraped his chair across the floor and stood.  “I wish I could say it’s been a pleasure meeting you.”

I stood and smiled.  “Well, I wouldn’t want you to do anything against your nature.  People might get the wrong impression you’re a nice guy.”  I gathered the parchments and tapped them together on the table.  “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure your story gets into as many hands as I can.  Go on.  Be gone with you.”

He swallowed back the last of his mead, and left the tavern.  Funny.  I don’t think it’s the last time I’ll be seeing the likes of Nidan.


If you liked this interview with Nidan, I urge you to check out the scribbler, Clare Davidson’s novel, TRINITY, documenting his, Kiana’s and Skaric’s adventures across the world of Gettryne.

Kiana longs to walk through a forest and feel grass between her toes. But she is the living embodiment of a goddess and has enemies who wish to murder her. Her death will curse the whole of Gettryne. Locked away for protection, she dreams of freedom.

Her wish comes true in the worst possible way, when her home and defenders are destroyed.

Along with an inexperienced guard and a hunted outcast, Kiana flees the ravages of battle to search for a solution to the madness that has gripped Gettryne for a thousand years. Pursued by the vicious and unrelenting Wolves, their journey will take them far beyond their limits, to a secret that will shake the world.

Clare Davidson is a character driven fantasy writer, teacher and mother, from the UK. Clare was born in Northampton and lived in Malaysia for four and a half years as a child, before returning to the UK to settle in Leeds with her family. Whilst attending Lancaster University, Clare met her future husband and never left. They now share their lives with their young daughter and a cranky grey cat, called Ash. Clare juggles family life with writing, teaching and a variety of fibre craft hobbies.

Ways to connect:


‘Trinity’ is available in paperback from:

Amazon and Amazon UK

and in ebook from:

Amazon, Amazon UK, Smashwords, Sony, iTunes and Barnes and Noble

Additional Trinity Blog Tour stops:

leigh ann kopans  (August 19)
nic widhalm (August 20)
kat ellis writes (August 22)
write a revolution (August 23)
rachel horwitz (August 24)
ruth ellen parlour (August 25)
natasha mcneely (August 26)
indie book blogger (August 27)
sally stephenson (August 28)

Six Sentence Sunday

I keep forgetting to officially sign up for this every week, but I like to participate anyway.  Here are six sentences from a psychological thriller I started writing years ago and may finish some day.  The title of the novel is FLOWERS FROM THE FIELD.


Ben checked his son was asleep, then stumbled outside, beer sloshing from the bottle in his hand. He scooped up the dead dog in his arms, stumbled over the other dog’s body, and carried it inside.  Upstairs, he laid the lifeless form across the foot of Mitch’s bed.  You wanted your damn dog.  You got your damn dog.  He swigged back the alcohol and smiled.