Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Slaying the Dragon for the First Time: A NaNoWriMo Journey

December is here, and that means National Novel Writing Month is finished. After watching the excitement over NaNoWriMo for years on social media and in Writer's Digest articles, I decided to sign up...

Being a "Wrimo" means you write every day. Every. Day. Even if the laundry hamper is overflowing. Even if the dust in your living room is an inch thick. Or if something dire and unexpected happens that you absolutely cannot write a word (in my case a broken molar) you have to catch up in sprints. Or else you start to get the shakes. You start to feel guilty. You start to feel like something is missing.


Because NaNoWriMo makes writing a part of your daily habits, like brushing your teeth or exercising (well...for some...I count going up and down two flights of stairs with laundry as exercise). We become writers out of passion and inspiration. But we stay writers out of habit, because it becomes an intrinsic part of us as much as eating and breathing.

Dip into that creative well at least once a day and bring up some magic!
Today is December 1st, and I was looking forward to the time to clean up the house, decorate for Christmas some more, tackle some of the tasks that have been a bit neglected (or done hastily, a lick and a promise). What am I doing? Writing about NaNoWriMo. Why? Because my hands began to twitch.

I had to write SOMETHING today.  

Even though my Nano first draft is finished at 30K words. (Huzzah! I'm still in shock!) It's not 50K, so I don't officially win, but honestly I feel like a winner nonetheless. I sat down to write almost every day, and I completed a first draft of a story that became more than I expected it to. I proved to myself that I can write 10,000 words in one week. I proved to myself that I can finish a draft in a shorter time than 4 months (that's how long The Dragon's Message took me). I learned that if I just keep writing (don't stop to revise, don't stop, just keep typing just keep typing, don't you look back...) the characters and story magic will take over organically. I learned to trust in my imagination a little more, and I was rewarded now and again by those plot epiphanies that flood your mind with a light that lasts throughout the day.

Most of all, NaNoWriMo helped me to give myself the permission to make my writing time part of my daily routine. I had a definitive goal, a real deadline. And for that, NaNoWriMo is one of the best things that has happened to my career as a writer. I am proud to be a Wrimo!

Pictures are from Pinterest. If an image is yours and you do not wish it to be used, please contact me. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble

Scene I [An open place.]
Thunder and lightning. Enter Three Witches.
First Witch. When shall we three meet again?
     In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
Second Witch. When the hurlyburly's done,
     When the battle's lost and won.
Third Witch. That will be ere the set of sun.
Thus begins The Tragedy of Macbeth, my favorite Shakespearean play. And here is my burning question:
Why three witches?

The three witches, or "Weird Sisters," are Shakespeare's versions of the Three Fates: Clotho, who spins the thread of your life, Lachesis, who measures it, and Atropos, who cuts it. Indeed, these witches seem to know how to pull Macbeth's strings and influence him along his tragic path. This is shown most strongly in Macbeth's first line upon entering the stage:

Macbeth. So foul and fair a day I have not seen. (I.iii.38)
This directly connects to the witches' famous chant "Fair is foul, and foul is fair./ Hover through the fog and filthy air." (I.i.10) Herein lies one of the thematic undercurrents of Macbeth: Things aren't always what they seem in this place. (I'd bet my bust of Shakespeare...yes, I have one in my home library...that Jim Henson was influenced by this for his movie Labyrinth!)
Three has long been viewed as a "magic" number, and various mythologies have forms of a triad, or triple diety, with each aspect having certain qualities or functions.
Triple Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Crone
So next time you are stirring some eye of newt and toe of frog into your cauldron, make sure you say your incantation three times and think fondly of Master William Shakespeare!
If you are also fond of things not always being what they seem, and you happen to be a fan of Once Upon a Time, you may want to check out my joint article with Teresa Martin in the Once Upon a Fan Origins Archives: Rumplestiltskin's Transformation in Once Upon a Time: Literary Anti-Hero to Hero Archetype.
Oh look, a spinning very Fate-like!
All images found on Pinterest. If something is yours and you do not wish it to be used, please contact me and I will remove it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall into Fantasy Giveaway 2014

Books or candy for trick-or-treat? I'll be honest, that's an easy answer for me!
Especially with the Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway starting today.

Check out fellow speculative fiction author Ash Krafton's blog for the chance to win fantasy books and goodies from more that 50 adult and YA authors!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Lightning Strikes: Fleetwood Mac and the Power of Words

No one knows how I feel
What I say unless you read between my lines

~"Stand Back" by Stevie Nicks

          The music of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks has struck chords of enchantment in my soul for decades. Imagine my joy when I saw them live in concert recently (many kisses to my husband for getting those tickets)! Needless to say, it was a powerful experience: the raw, intense guitar of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie's magical voice, the crazy drums and yes, Christine McVie returned! It all swirled together around the theater like the pulsing colors on the video screen behind the band, coalescing and reverberating through my bones, the power of words mingling with the roar of the crowd.

          Yes, the power of words, borne on the wings of music notes. That power made my soul soar when Stevie cried out:

 Rock on, ancient queen
Follow those who pale in your shadow

Rulers make bad lovers
You better put your kingdom up for sale, up for sale

Well, did she make you cry,
Make you break down,
Shatter your illusions of love?
And is it over now?
Do you know how?
Pick up the pieces and go home

 And my heart beat with determination with Lindsey's crooning:

Been down one time
Been down two times
Been down three times
Never going back again.

          A musician is a writer also. Fleetwood Mac wrote their songs and then gave life to them, not on a page but embedded in music. In sharing them through an album or live in concert, they did the same thing an author does when he/she publishes a story: placing part of your soul out into the world so others can be affected by it. And let me tell you, was the crowd ever affected: we screamed and clapped thunderously. It was the same feeling of creative exhilaration experienced when a piece you are writing snaps into place, or you connect with someone over a story, or your students have a moment of brilliant perception in a literature lesson, but amplified ten-fold in the arena atmosphere. You could literally feel the creativity vibrating in the air. I left there infused with a renewed sense of awe in the magic of language. Apparently, this is a spell that Stevie has woven herself: check out this video from Oprah's Master Class in which Stevie reveals why writing is so important.
          I've found this word magic in so many places. Of course, first in the books that have been my soul mates throughout life. It's amazing how a quote can pull on your heartstrings and resonate within you again and again. We all have those passages in our hearts; one of mine is from Wuthering Heights (and there are so many from that book):

          Books can pull our entire minds into them, and bring us on an adventure to another world, like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, that we literally have to tear ourselves away to get some sleep. And I love the chills that I get listening to my old cassette tape (yes, I am dating myself) of T.S. Eliot reading The Wasteland.  To hear a poet's voice from beyond time and dust reading his own work is an enlightening experience. 
         I am so blessed that my passions, reading and writing, are crafted with words. I saw the gift that language is every day when I was teaching, and I see it in my own children who get so excited about the book series they are reading and want to talk about them with me. My interactions with my kids remind me of the power of words to uplift, inspire, and teach, and how important it is to choose our words wisely. Even in writing, I am more and more aware of the craft and hard work it takes to put the right words down on paper to capture a story. And as I write this, I'm drinking my pumpkin spice tea (it is October, after all) out of my old name mug that my parents found way back in their cabinets recently. It is the mug I used as a teenager, and it reminds me of the days I sat hunched over loose-leaf scribbling away with no care of passing time. It reminds me that the core of my soul is a writer. Names are words after all, and powerful ones at that, as all the stories say.

          Stevie shared a story with us about her song "Gypsy." The first line comes from a San Francisco shop that she ventured into when she was a young musician. She absolutely loved the name of the shop...Velvet Underground...and the gorgeous clothes within. As she stood in this store surrounded by beautiful gypsy-like clothes, she had a premonition of her creative success. She suddenly knew who she was destined to be. And she was a true vision in the concert: black flowing skirt, boots, her shawls and scarves on her tambourine, her trademark twirling and bowing in front of the drum set.

          She even wore her black top hat for one number and her gold shawl for "Gold Dust Woman," which I quote above along with "Never Going Back Again." To me, those two songs speak of finding the inner strength to overcome hardship and adversity so that you can cultivate your true self. Stevie added lines to the end of "Gold Dust Woman" which I had never heard: "You should see me now...You can't take me can't take can't break me down."

          So in this autumn season of magic and mystery, cauldrons and incantations, and leaves that crackle like old paper, know that the creative power of words is in all of us to tap in our own unique ways. You just have to reach down inside yourself, knocking any obstacles out of your way, and own it (and maybe listen to Fleetwood Mac as a muse):

Lightning strikes,
maybe once, maybe twice,
and it all comes down to you...

*All images are from Pinterest. If something is yours and you would prefer it not to be used, please contact me and I will take it down.*

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guest Post: How to Hunt Your Dragon, Author H.L. Burke

Welcome to fellow fantasy author, dragon lover, and writer mom H. L. Burke! In today's guest post she is sharing with us some of the rules of her world from Dragon's Curse, Volume One of The Dragon and the Scholar Saga, in celebration of the release of the latest in this series, Volume Three, Dragon's Rival! Read below to find out how to hunt your own dragon and enter a giveaway.

An excerpt from: Laws and Guidelines Governing the Hunting of Dragons, a pamphlet produced by several noted scholars from the Academy of Magic and Sciences, detailing the dangers and difficulties of dragon slaying and the laws regarding such sport. Please note, this is not a how to manual, but rather a cautionary piece presenting some things an ambitious knight would be wise to consider before taking on his first dragon slaying assignment.
The Academy of Magic and Sciences acknowledges that dragon hunting is an ancient and honored tradition among kings and knights. However, the creatures are both rare and dangerous. Because of this, certain laws have been passed and are upheld by all kingdoms upon the Continent. Refusing to abide by these rules may result in prosecution, fines, or in extreme cases execution. It is your duty, as a dragon slayer, to  familiarize yourself with these statutes and see that you and your companions keep to the letter of the law.

The first and foremost rule of dragon hunting is never attack a dragon’s nest.

It is difficult to observe the mating habits of dragons. They are solitary beasts and during such intimate moments, they can become exceedingly hostile to outsiders. Due to the valorous and persistent research of Henry of the Many Scars, we do know certain basic facts. For instance, when in search of a mate, dragons set fire the majority of trees around their lairs, as an invitation to other dragons and a warning to those who might be tempted to watch.

While dragons are known to mate for life, they do not nurture their young. Once the hatchlings have emerged from the eggs, they are left to their own devices, and considering they are roughly the size of young horses at birth with fiery breath and venomous fangs, they generally do quite well for themselves. Dragons often lay their eggs in community nests. The nesting period is one life stage where dragons are known to be social creatures. For most of their existence they are solitary or keep to mated pairs.

In the years following the Wars of Wild Magic, when dragons were much reviled for their choice to side with the Fey rather than the Humans, ambitious hunters took advantage of this knowledge. A large group discovered the hatching grounds and managed a successful attack, destroying hundreds of unborn dragons and several mating pairs. Within days an organized force of adult dragons rose up and burnt the home villages of the offending hunters to the ground. This swift retribution led to an assembly of representatives from several kingdoms as well as the Academy, and the First Law of Dragon Hunting was agreed upon and signed.

Those who would hunt dragons must always consider the long term repercussions. Dragons are an extremely long lived race. Their average lifespan stretches upward of three hundred years. They are also patient creatures, and just because they do not take immediate revenge for the slaying of a mate or a child does not mean they will not strike at your great-granddaughter’s christening or some other far future event.

Always be aware of the trouble your desire to slay dragons may have on those around you.
Do not slay dragons for profit. Only merchants approved by an Academy review board may traffic in dragon bones, blood, venom, or scales. Bounties on problem wyrms, however, are an accepted practice. If a dragon has chosen to settle in close proximity to humans, he has taken his life into his own talons and can be exterminated as a nuisance dragon.  

Thankfully the rarity of such beasts makes it less and less likely that a knight will be called upon for such dangerous duties. However, if you wish to try  your hand at dragon hunting, please remember that in doing so you  take your life in your hands.  Do not allow your carelessness and disregard for the law to endanger others.

Dragon's Curse, book one in The Dragon and the Scholar Saga
by H. L. Burke
On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous. Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family?

ABOUT H. L. Burke

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.
An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.
Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

H. L. Burke on Amazon:
H. L. Burke on Twitter:
H. L. Burke's Author Website:

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Mythological Dragon of Author Karin Rita Gastreich

Greetings and well-met to author Karin Rita Gastreich on her Magic Appreciation Tour for the audio release of her novel Eolyn, the prequel to her latest book release High Maga. Karin writes fantasy fiction with strong female characters, but I was most intrigued with her concept of Dragon as it fits into the magical world she has created. Karin is a lovely, intelligent lady and a talented author, and I am so pleased to have her on my blog. After you read the fascinating article on Dragon below, make sure you check out the YouTube audio preview. What an enjoyable, melodious excerpt! And don't forget to enter the Giveaway!


By Karin Rita Gastreich

 When Lori Fitzgerald invited me to visit her blog during this tour, I knew at once that I wanted to write a post about Dragon.  What could be a better fit, given the recent release of Lori’s romantic adventure, The Dragon’s Message?

 Dragons are extraordinarily versatile, given the fact that the basic blue print of “fire-breathing flying serpent” rarely changes. We have Smaug of Tolkien fame, the epitome of the greedy, destructive beast ready to wreak havoc on the world. We find Smaug’s polar opposite in Draco from “Dragon’s Heart”, who represents all that is honorable and true in humankind.  The wonderful Falcor, that fuzzy dragon from The Never Ending Story, is one of my personal favorites. Certainly, he’s the most huggable dragon on record. 


The variations on the dragon theme are endless, and I hope some of you will share your favorite dragon examples in the comments. Today I want to tell you a little bit about the role Dragon plays in Eolyn’s world.

 In the novel ‘Eolyn’, Dragon is not a biological or physical creature, but rather a spiritual entity.

 At the beginning of time, Dragon taught the legendary figures Aithne and Caradoc the ways of High Magic. Also called “Messenger”, Dragon was sent by the gods who supported Aithne and Caradoc’s search for cures and spells that could contribute to the welfare of their people.

 Many generations after appearing to Aithne and Caradoc, Dragon returned in its true form to teach the first mage warrior Caedmon how to use magic during the brutal struggle against the People of Thunder. This was a crucial turning point in the history of Eolyn’s people. Until Dragon appeared to Caedmon, it was forbidden to use magic to cause physical harm to another.  But through Dragon’s intervention, Caedmon brought magic to the battlefield, turning the tide of a war that would otherwise have ended in the annihilation of all practitioners.

 In his campaign against the People of Thunder, Caedmon formed an alliance with the warrior chief Vortingen.  Following their victory in that long and terrible war, Dragon appeared once more and granted Vortingen the crown of the Kingdom of Moisehén.  Vortingen and all his descendants were charged with protecting the mages and magas, and through them the traditions of Aithne and Caradoc.

 Although Dragon has appeared in its true form only a handful of times, as a spiritual entity it can take on the shape of any living creature.  As a result, Dragon has walked the earth on countless occasions. When Eolyn makes her pilgrimage into the forest to petition for a staff of High Magic, her tutor Ghemena advises her to be prepared for all possibilities when receiving a visit from Dragon. Dragon can appear as something as innocuous as an ant, or as fearsome a bear.

 No matter what form it chooses, Dragon reveals to the initiate what elements are to be incorporated in his or her staff.  Under the traditions of the Old Orders, it was widely taught that Dragon appeared as a male to mage initiates and as a female to maga initiates, although there were of course exceptions to this rule.  If Dragon does not appear during the pilgrimage of the initiate, it is understood that the Gods for whatever reason have judged High Magic to be an inappropriate burden for the petitioner. 

 Dragon is often referred to in Eolyn’s world as the Silver Serpent.  In its true form, Dragon’s scales are iridescent and highly reflective; they can take on a variety of colors.  Nonetheless, artwork in Moisehén portrays Dragon only in silver.  The sigil of the ruling House of Vortingen, for example, is a silver dragon against a purple night.  Eolyn’s ally Corey of East Selen wears a clasp on his cloak in the form of a silver Dragon. At a key moment in their relationship, Prince Akmael gives Eolyn a silver bracelet with images of the many forms in which Dragon has been known to appear: winged serpent, snake, lion, butterfly, river otter, fish and many others. Each figure on the bracelet blends into the next, creating a single creature as fantastic as imagination itself.

 One of the most beloved and feared entities of Eolyn’s world, Dragon is the guardian of her people and the patron of all mages and magas. It is not a wild creature that razes villages, nor is it a companion that can be flown into battle. Rarely does Dragon appear in its true form, yet it constantly intervenes in the lives of Eolyn’s people, in intimate and complex ways. Every time a spell is invoked and the power of the gods is made manifest in Eolyn’s world, Dragon is at work.

EOLYN [audio edition]
Karin Rita Gastreich (author)
Darla Middlebrook (narrator)

Sole heiress to a forbidden craft, Eolyn lives in a world where women of her kind are tortured and burned. When she meets Akmael, destined to assume the throne of this violent realm, she embarks upon a path of adventure, friendship, betrayal and war. Bound by magic, driven apart by destiny, Eolyn and the Mage King confront each other in an epic struggle that will determine the fate of a millennial tradition of magic.


"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes will satisfy fans of traditional epic fantasy, with a romantic thread." – Publishers Weekly


“Magnificently written.” –Kindle Book Review


Link to YouTube Preview:

Purchase Link: 

 About the Author


KARIN RITA GASTREICH lives in Kansas City and Costa Rica. An ecologist by trade, her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance.  Karin's first fantasy novel, EOLYN, was released by Hadley Rille Books in 2011. The companion novel, HIGH MAGA, is also available from Hadley Rille Books. Karin’s short stories have appeared in Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and A Visitor to Sandahl.   She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency. Follow Karin’s adventures into fantastic worlds, both real and imagined, at and at


Author Web Links:


Blog Heroines of Fantasy:

Twitter:  @EolynChronicles


About the Narrator


With experience of 34+ years as a Speech-Language Pathologist, more than 20 years as a stage & film actor and over 20 years as a trained singer with knowledge and insight into the mechanics of the voice and speech, Darla Middlebrook brings a wealth of experience to bear to develop character voices (male, female, mature, extremely elderly, creepy, bright exotic, etc) with an impressive emotional range.​

Currently, Darla is one of many voice actors who narrates podcasts for AIRS-LA (an audio internet service for individuals with visual challenges) in addition to narrating audio books.  She is able to produce retail quality audio books from her home studio in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan - Canada.


Narrator Web Links:


Twitter: @GypsyCatVoice



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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wisdom and Whimsy in A Wizard of Dreams by Robin Chambers

Among my favorite books in my library are the tales that put a unique and often modern spin on the Arthurian legends, most notably Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. Imagine my delight to find a new series from a fellow indie author and medievalist who crafts a tale about a special boy who is the "heir" of Merlin himself!

In Myrddin's Heir, Book 1: A Wizard of Dreams we follow the tale of the early years of Gordon, a boy with extraordinary powers and a legendary destiny, on a journey of self-discovery through several fascinating adventures that had me eagerly turning the pages. From antics in school to a (quite literally) haunting family vacation in the British countryside, to Avalon itself where he meets Merlin and Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (to name but a few journeys!), this book weaves a magical, heartfelt tale with beautiful themes and life lessons, perfect for young readers as well as older and wiser ones.

Merlin takes Arthur to the safety of his foster home.

A Wizard of Dreams emphasizes the power and magic of our imaginations, as many of Gordon's adventures take place in a dream-state with his "imaginary" friend Zach. However, there is much more to Zach than meets the eye! Also, I especially appreciated the grandeur and spirit with which Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were portrayed as they answered Merlin's summons.
In many stories, such as T.H. White's The Once and Future King, Merlin was Arthur's teacher as well.
 As a former teacher, I wish I had this book in my classroom years ago, for after each chapter is a list of themes, events, and metaphors to be discussed, and there is a wonderful glossary at the end with more information on each of these items.  The author, Robin Chambers, a former teacher himself, infuses his book seamlessly with wisdom as well as historical and literary knowledge. I was overjoyed at the number of Shakespearean references hidden in the narrative! "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so." (Hamlet) There is also a large section of plot in which Gordon faces and counteracts bullying with wit and aplomb (and "magic," of course). It is simply amazing how much whimsy and wisdom is packed into the pages of A Wizard of Dreams!

Merlin the Enchanter by Howard Pyle

And yes, that is Robin himself on the cover, in costume when he performed a dramatic reading of A Wizard of Dreams for a classroom of schoolchildren. Isn't that fantastic? He has a mesmerizing voice, like a wizard himself, which you can hear at his website Myrddin's Heir. His website is the treasure trove in Mabon's cairn (read the book and you'll see!) for teachers and students as well, for there are activities based on the books and a page where students can even submit their own writing!

I am privileged to have gotten to know Robin through various email exchanges. He is truly a wise gentleman and a knowledgeable teacher and medievalist. I find his autobiography simply fascinating and inspiring, a testament to "trouthe," the medieval word for integrity and seeking one's best self:

Once upon a time –a long time ago – I was born in Bootle (Liverpool 20).  There was a war on.  Later, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis but instead was plunged into the maelstrom of inner city education.  In the 1970s I wrote some stories for children to see if I could, and Penguin published them.  I thought I would write something really good when I retired from teaching…

After fourteen years of headship in Hackney I came back up north in 1993 and met my wonderful wife Amy.  We looked after my increasingly ill parents full-time until they didn’t need us to do it anymore, by which time the first of our two daughters was ready to go off to University and on to the first rung of the housing ladder.  We did the sums and I went back to teaching…

In 2008 Amy and I set off for a life by the western shores of the Caribbean.  It was only after I survived a murder attempt by three local thugs in November 2010 (skull crushed in two places, seventeen stitches in head wounds) that I realised how easy it is to die without accomplishing a cherished ambition.


So we came back to the UK and I set to work on “Myrddin’s Heir”: the epic story I will leave behind.  It took three years to write the first four books - now in the Kindle Store at 99p each.  Self-publishing means self-marketing, so here I am.  Book 5 is just out…

This is a story for bright children from 10–110 years of age.  It’s longer than The L of the R, longer even than HP &…  To finish it I need to live another 15 years.  I’d like to finish it, because I know how it ends.

I want to know how it ends too! Which is why I am so thrilled there are other books in the series available so I can continue along this magical reading adventure.
Robin is definitely worth following on Twitter @myrddinsheir and on Facebook.

For an extra treat, read what Robin Chambers has to say about the creation of Gordon's character in his imagination:
Some ‘Inside Story’ Facts about Gordon
He first came to me when he was 9½. I was daydreaming in Belize; which was quite appropriate really: because Gordon is an Aisling wizard...
If you haven't read Book 1 yet, it is likely that you won't have come across the word 'aisling' or 'aislinn' before. Dream is the nearest one-word in the language we now speak; but it falls short of all that 'aisling' means.
According to Gordon's sixteen greats grandmother, "an Aisling wizard finds and tames wild things that wander through the tangled world of dreams. He travels in the wonderland of wishing. He goes wherever truth has found a cunning place to hide..."
Of course, the same can be said of an Aisling witch. You meet one of those towards the end of Book 1...
Early one morning in the spring of 2010, I was out walking my dogs - Bamford and Cookie - through the savannah woodland near our house at 14½ Miles Western Highway (now renamed George Price Highway) when I came across Gordon and his alter-ego Zack engaged in earnest conversation. Gordon had just asked Zack an important question:
"Where did I come from?"
He seemed to take it for granted that Zack would know. I got the impression that Zack knew things like that; but I was amazed when he casually let slip the fact that he'd been with Will when he wrote those astounding plays and poems around 400 years ago. Obviously he meant Shakespeare: he'd just quoted him...
The dogs had gone haring off after an agouti (which is a kind of Belizean jack-rabbit), so while I waited for them to charge back and find me I tuned in to the rest of what Gordon and Zack were saying; and I realised a number of things:
Zack could not be "human" in the normally accepted sense: because human beings live for a finite amount of what we casually refer to as "time". I didn't think Zack could have been around for ALL of it (common sense told me he couldn't be 13.75 (to the nearest 0.11) billion years old); but could he have been around when language was evolving among the apes we used to be? Might he in fact have had a part to play, even then, in the honing of that immensely powerful tool we casually refer to as "language"?
Was he bound up in those beginnings? Was he was some sort of manifestation of genius...?
He'd been with Gordon from Gordon's beginning (at any rate on this planet) - as you will know if you have read the opening chapter of this very long story; and that had to mean that Gordon was no ordinary boy.
I left them talking in the woods, and turned for home with my alert, panting dogs. We were all looking forward to breakfast. It had been an intriguing, apparently chance encounter, but nothing more than that...
However, that remarkable boy - whose name, I now know, is Gordon Bennett - began to turn up more and more regularly: sometimes during the day when I was out walking, or letting my senses drift for a while just after lunch. Quite often, in the middle of the night, I would wake to find him wandering through my wonderland of wishing. He was looking for truth, I suppose, which often finds a cunning place to hide...
Zack was always with him: which was how I first found out that Zack could bend time. On one occasion I found myself watching Gordon's teddy doing the can-can when he was only five months old. He'd just amazed his mother with his first three words: MA-MA, DA-DA and ZACK...
I wasn't completely surprised when at the age of 2½ he told his mum he wanted to be a palaeontologist. My grandson had told me the exact same thing when he was that age. He had also corrected my pronunciation of the word diplodocus:  "A lot of older people say diploDOCus, Grandad, but it's pronounced dipLODocus nowadays."
(He's at Imperial College London at the moment, reading Theoretical Physics, and has assured me that it won't stop him writing his first novel. But that's another story...)
I am pleased that Gordon is good at dealing with bullies, because I wasn't good at dealing with them when I was at Gray Street Primary School in Bootle, or at first even at Bootle Grammar School for Boys (I got better at it after my dad took me to Boxing Club…).
I admire Gordon's love of learning and the wide open windows in his mind. I thoroughly approve of his positive mental attitude. His mother told me he'd never been bored, and she was sure he never would be.
But things got really serious when I heard Myrddin (English people know him as Merlin) tell Gordon that he was his heir, and that he had been born to make the world a better place. That was when I began to think that maybe I too had been chosen: to tell Gordon's story to the world.
Maybe telling his story was somehow part of the overarching plan - to make the world a better place? - because if the world IS to be made a better place, it has to know how, and why.
Here's a bit of good news about all the problems that stand in our way. They're all man-made. That's a sexist remark, and I stand by it.
Of course: you don't make the world a better place in a week. Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes me a day, when I even it out, to write a thousand fairly careful words...
The things that Gordon's already done (worth telling you about) have filled four books, and I'm only two days past his twelfth birthday. I suspect the things he has yet to do will fill a fair few more...
I fear for him sometimes; but I know he is never alone...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Guest Post: Medievalist and Author William Hahn and Games of Chance

Huzzah! I'm honored to have fellow medievalist William Hahn on my blog today to discuss one of his main characters in his new release, Judgement's Tale I: Games of Chance. Prince Gareth may well come to be one of my favorite characters in the series, as he already has bonus points for a namesake in one of the Knights of the Round Table! I am so impressed with the detail and scope that Will has created in his world The Lands of Hope, and I'm positive you will be too.
Make sure you check out the link to the Gareth excerpt below. Will is a regular blogger on the Independent Bookworm, and his creativity and witty personality make his posts a blast to read. Also check out the book trailer and Will's Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobles links. And don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!

I’m delighted at the chance to address Lori’s audience on a theme that I think rings well with the tone of her writing. I also studied the Middle Ages in school and came to love the period. Sure enough, in my upcoming novel Judgement’s Tale there is a predominantly medieval culture and technology, with some variations. In the excerpt I’m linking to here, the reader gets a first glimpse of a very Arthurian-style kingdom named Shilar, and the major character of Prince Gareth.

Shilar is named for one of the heroes of the elder days of The Lands of Hope, and the nation is situated the furthest east of the kingdoms (see the map), closest to the last place where the armies of Despair threatened the Lands nearly two thousand years ago. Taking up the challenge to keep watch over the mountains known as the Swords of Stone and guard against the return of evil, the knights of Shilar prize their honor and duties very seriously, with a rather complex code of chivalry closely resembling those which evolved here in the Alleged Real World.

All well and good, but it’s been twenty centuries since there was anything for these brave fellows to actually do. And just as they say in Community Theater, “the passions run so high because the stakes are so small”. The closest thing to an enemy the knights of Shilar have is the nomadic tribe of Bordbeyonds that live even further east of their kingdom, across the great River Sweeping and practically in the shadow of the Swords of Stone. These half-elves too have sworn to keep watch, but are not nearly as advanced or settled as the humans in Shilar.

With that backdrop we see in this excerpt the first public appearance of the character Gareth, and I hope you enjoy it. Judgement’s Tale Part One: Games of Chance will be available July 4th 2014.

As we say in The Lands, Ar Aralte! (Hope Forever)


Link to the Gareth Excerpt


Judgement’s Tale Part One: Games of Chance

For twenty centuries the Lands of Hope prospered from their Heroes’ peace, but suffer now from their absence as a curse thickens over the central kingdom known as the Percentalion. An immortal omniscient conspirator schemes to escape the extra-worldly prison restraining his tide of undeath, using a demonic ally in a plot to bring back hell on earth. Solemn Judgement steps onto these Lands both a stranger and an orphan, driven to complete the lore his father died to give him.

In a world beset with increasing chaos, the bravest Children of Hope must take mortal risks. A young woodsman’s spear-cast, a desperate bid to save his comrades; the Healers Guildmistress’ cheery smile, hiding a grim secret and a heavy burden of guilt; the prince of Shilar’s speech in a foreign tongue, a gambit to avoid bloodshed or even war. As a new generation of heroes, scattered across the kingdoms, bets their lives and more, Solemn Judgement- soon to be known as The Man in Grey- must learn to play… Games of Chance: Part One of Judgement’s Tale

Wm. L. Hahn Bio
*Hmm, what happened to the picture with all the medieval weaponry, Will?
Didn't want to scare 'em too soon?*
Will Hahn has been in love with heroic tales since age four, when his father read him the Lays of Ancient Rome and the Tales of King Arthur. He taught Ancient-Medieval History for years, but the line between this world and others has always been thin; the far reaches of fantasy, like the distant past, still bring him face to face with people like us, who have choices to make.
Will didn't always make the right choices when he was young. Any stick or vaguely-sticklike object became a sword in his hands, to the great dismay of his five sisters. Everyone survived, in part by virtue of a rule forbidding him from handling umbrellas, ski poles, curtain rods and more.
Will has written about the Lands of Hope since his college days (which by now are also part of ancient history). With the publication of Judgement’s Tale Part One, Games of Chance, he begins at last to tell the tale of the Land’s most unique hero, The Man in Grey.
Will Hahn is the chronicler of the Lands of Hope tales.
The Plane of Dreams- See the trailer!
The Ring and the FlagTry the Audio Book at Scribl!
Fencing Reputation-

Will's Blog Thoughts- Including tales of a happy childhood (which continues), hopes for a writer's journey, and analysis of Classics You've Never Read
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