Summer Excerpt – Theme “Wine” #2

July 18, 2016 at 4:28 pm (fantasy, Magic University, writing) (, , , , , , )

11754554_10155841288460032_4464622716940604587_o - EditedToday’s my last full Eymet. Tomorrow it’s off to Bordeaux so I can catch my flight to Paris and from there head back to Canada. I’m going to miss the socializing here. Trips to the local pub with my sister so we can sit and chat and outings to friends of my parents where we sip wine and nibble on cheese and olives are a little different from the socializing I do at home. It feels as if there’s a stronger sense of community here and people are quite warm and receptive.

Don’t get me wrong, people are friendly back in Nova Scotia, it’s just a different kind of friendly. I’m more comfortable around other people here then I am at home.

So here’s my next excerpt, from Masters & Renegades: Magic University.  I won’t be posting again until I get home, thanks to my converter missing a spot for a grounder (and my cord plug having a grounder).  Once I leave for Bordeaux, I won’t be able to charge my laptop until I hit Montreal, so the power I have will be for necessary/urgent use only (like electronic check-in for my flight.)

Tom entered the magical chamber.  A surge of apprehension swept over him as he looked at the royal blue carafe upon the table and the scry eye hovering above.  It was so different without Snyder there to guide him along.  The half-satyr had been a wonderful teacher, but Tom still did not feel confident enough about his skills to feel comfortable without him.  He sighed and approached the table.

Tom supposed it was his own fault.  He had let people pamper him all of his life and he did not have to be here.  In fact, many people would prefer he not be where he was, if they would have known.

As Tom squatted and focused on the carafe, he considered how he and his teacher had first met.  Snyder had been a travelling entertainer.  Tom had always been fascinated by magic and had requested that Snyder meet with him for a private audience.  He had food and wine brought to his chamber and they had talked all night about magic.  Having some idea at Snyder’s true identity, Tom pressured Snyder into revealing that his bardic talents were only a tip of the iceberg.  The half-satyr was a highly-skilled Renegade mage and his ability was much greater than his bardic charade would suggest.  Tom had leapt at the opportunity.  He had forced Snyder to remain with him, secretly keeping him as a tutor in spell-casting.

Time to go finish up my packing 🙂

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Summer Excerpt – Theme “Coffee” #3

July 14, 2016 at 11:36 am (fantasy, Magic University, writing) (, , , , , )

11794430_10155841286760032_4772023191227114902_o - EditedYesterday was a shopping day for me, which included buying some coffee for a coworker and a t-shirt with a coffee slogan for me. Today is a national holiday here in France so there will be music, good food, wine and fireworks. I expect it will be a fun evening.

This will be my last “coffee” excerpt. I’m revving up for a wine fair this weekend and I am, after all, in wine country, so appropriately, the next one will be “wine”.  This one is from my Masters & Renegades novel, Magic University:

Ebon was halfway to his destination when his map slipped away from his telekinetic grasp.  This had never happened to him before, but he had also never put such a demand on his physical reach before today.  He juggle the map with what little physical force he could still manage to muster, flipping it over so that he could at least memorize its contents.

He continued onwards, abandoning the map face up in the mud.  He had not expected this would happen, and knew it meant that he would have to feed, something he rarely felt the inclination to do.  This did not please him.  Feeding took time and energy, and he had neither.

Arriving at what he believed was his destination, he began his search.  He had no trouble locating the leather wallet that contained the token.  He could pick out with ease the two glowing magical auras surrounding the purse, and they smelt absolutely heavenly, like the aroma of fresh bread or strong coffee.  He salivated at the thought of absorbing all of that sweet, distinctly different energy.  The one reminiscent of coffee was harsh and bitter, but strangely satisfying, the other somewhat bland, but slightly sweet and very substantial.  That was the only one he intended to feed off of, absorbing what he could as quickly as he could.  This was the plan, but once he started, he could not stop.

He had not recognized his hunger, had not realized just how ravenous he had become.  He sucked back the spell’s energies, lost in the instinct to feed and absorb.  Before he had realized it, he had completely devoured the first spell and had started in on the second.  He had lost all track of time, and as the last drop of energy slipped past his ethereal lips, he stretched out, thoroughly satisfied and replenished.

Now I’m off to make myself some lunch.  ‘Til next time 🙂

 

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Women in Horror – A Valentine Interlude

February 14, 2014 at 11:28 pm (fantasy, Magic University, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I’m taking a one day break from my women in horror posting to offer up a Masters and Renegades teaser tale with a bit of romance to it. Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Field Test

 “A field test? What do you mean, a field test?” Urwick was incensed. “I’ve managed to conquer every challenge you’ve thrown my way, Jadira. Why would I need to prove myself with a field test? I have no intention of ever wandering the wilds with my magic. Why can’t whatever testing you need completed happen inside? I thought all that outdoor trial foolishness was done once the Admission Trials were over.”

Jadira gave her dark elf apprentice and lover one of her alluring smiles, batting her deep green lashes.

“It’s a requirement for graduation, love, and if you don’t graduate, we can’t get married. Just finish this one thing, and I am properly yours. That won’t happen until it’s done. I’m sure we’ll get a nasty backlash for revealing our relationship after the test. But once you are no longer my apprentice, no one can lodge an official complaint. — So yes, dearest, a field test.”

Urwick sighed and gave his dryad mentor a disgruntled stare.

“If there’s no getting out of this for graduation, and it remains the only obstacle keeping us from going public – then fine. I’ll do whatever you ask. I hate having to hide my feelings for you even more than I despise trudging through muck in open sunlight.”

Jadira laughed, the soft peals a seductive musical sound.

“It won’t be that bad, Urwick. It’s just one task and it ought to be an easy one for you. Just make sure you have a dimming spell on the ready and confidence in your magic. I’m accompanying you on the trip. I’ll be with you the entire time.”

She entwined her slender green fingers through his hair, enjoying the silken feel of his silvery locks. Then she brought her mouth up to his ear, her breath hot and humid on his skin.

“And when you’re done, love, I’ll have a graduation gift for you of my own…one we’ll have to exchange in private.”

Urwick liked that idea. He pulled her into a tight and hungry embrace, burying his dark-skinned face in the nape of her neck and breathing in her bewitching woodsy scent.

***

    “‘It won’t be so bad,’ she said. ‘It ought to be easy,’ she said,” Urwick grumbled. “What’s not bad about this?”

Unfortunately for the dark elf, while he might have all the skills and confidence required for the task ahead of him, the weather had chosen not to be so agreeable. The skies alternated between offering a chilly drizzle and a solid downpour.

Jadira, soggy herself, provided her apprentice a sympathetic smile.

“At least you won’t be bothered by the sun.”

This drew a frown from Urwick. “The sun is the least of my concerns, thanks to my dimming spell. These boots are brand new. This mud is going to destroy them.”

Jadira giggled. “I didn’t know I was engaged to a princess. Really, Urwick – worried about your wardrobe…”

Since they were far out of range of any university officials, she reached over and took his hand. The feel of her warm, supple skin reminded him of why exactly he was there.

“I suppose the boots can be replaced,” he said softly.

They continued on, hand-in-hand, until they reached the golden haze that marked the boundary of their terrain.

“So we go from here…do you get to give me my task for the field test now?” Urwick asked.

“I do. Here is your task: in order to graduate, you must fetch the egg of a phoenix and return to the boundary before nightfall. Succeed, and you become an official graduate of Magic University – a true Master of Magic. Fail, and you’ll be spending at least another year under my instruction.”

Urwick squeezed her hand. “Like that would be such a terrible thing.”

“Which would include another year of keeping our tryst a secret. Do you really want to continue our romance in hiding?”

The dark elf’s expression fell. “You know that isn’t what I want. I never wanted that. I’d shout my feelings to the world if I could. But you won’t let me.”

“It’s a matter of propriety. Faculty are not supposed to fraternize with students – not our kind of fraternizing anyway. If the administration found out, they would separate us, and if they did not force me to leave the university, I’d likely be looking at a demotion along with a severe berating. I love you, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, but I don’t see how all of that would benefit either of us.”

Urwick understood her position. When he had first become Jadira’s apprentice, he had recognized that the University was her entire life. She had been forced to uproot herself, literally, to attend, abandoning all of her friends, forest and family. She might love him, but was it enough to give up everything she had rebuilt upon settling there? He would never expect nor ask that from her.

On the other hand, he had never understood why she had even taken a romantic interest in him in the first place. He had never flirted with her or made any advances, serious about his studies. He had been a dark horse at the Admission Trials and a black sheep upon admittance. Reformed Renegade he would always be, a blemish upon whatever reputation he managed to build, and he would always display a rebellious attitude, inherent to his nature.

Urwick was surprised Jadira had been willing to talk to him beyond what was necessary for his instruction. But during the earliest portion of his apprenticeship, one very strange day, she had returned from a shopping trip in Anthis regarding him with new interest. She had insisted he had already mastered the energy sphere spell she had just taught him early that morning and when his efforts proved her wrong she had made a point of drilling him until he knew the spell inside and out.

Why energy sphere and why had she seemed so sure? He would always wonder that. As a consequence, her extra attention had brought them closer. Urwick could have sworn at that point she had been trying to seduce him. A woman as alluring and beautiful as Jadira had been impossible for Urwick to resist. Whatever the reason, Urwick considered himself a luckier man for it.

“So what happens from here?” he asked Jadira, looking out at the overgrown terrain. “I charge off in search of volcanic crags and use whatever magic is necessary to locate and retrieve said egg?”

Jadira eyed him warily. “Not ‘whatever magic’. You are absolutely restricted from using Renegade magic for this test. I’ve been in your shoes, Urwick. I know you’ve retained much of your original training and it can be tempting to slide back into old ways for a quick fix to a challenging problem, but that’s not an option here. One slip and you’ll automatically be disqualified. Considering what you went through to get here, I really hope you can resist that temptation. If you mess up that way with this test, you’ll give new ammunition to the naysayers who want to keep reformed Renegades like us out of the University.”

“I know, I know. No Renegade magic. For some reason, I get to play champion for the cause.” Urwick did not try to hide his frustration.

Jadira placed her delicate, leaf-coloured hand atop his arm. “This isn’t a joke, Urwick. We both have something to prove here. If you truly love me, you won’t do anything to jeopardize the progress we’ve made.”

Urwick leaned in and kissed her verdant cheek. “Then you have nothing to fear, because I truly love you.”

They stepped through the golden haze together and Urwick cast the first of his spells. Tracer magic demanded both preparation and concentration, a more difficult incantation, but Urwick had been ready for such a challenge.

Once cast, the spell led Urwick, and with him Jadira, on a lengthy trek which took most of the morning. As he trudged along, he wished he had had a scry-type spell that would have allowed him to visibly locate the sought-after egg and permitted him to reach it with a simple portal, saving him a great deal of time and effort. Unfortunately, he hadn’t anticipated the need, but at least he was in good company for the journey. Urwick made the best of it, talking at length with Jadira as he walked and occasionally stealing a kiss. The test requirements could have been far worse.

Thick brush eventually gave way to scattered bushes and even those petered out after a time to barren soil, dotted with the odd patch of dry grass. The rock formations Urwick had been expecting came into view next. The egg he hunted no doubt was atop of one of those stony nubs – Urwick was sure of it.

As he neared the places a phoenix would be most likely to nest, he would find signs that would present themselves in a rather threatening way. Gouts of flame and molten sand would spring from the earth without warning. If you were agile enough to avoid the first burst, you would then have to dodge the fallout as it showered down from the sky.

Aware of this, Urwick had had the sense to put in place a magical shielding spell once he ventured into that part of the terrain. Jadira, meanwhile, was fully clad in all manner of magical defenses. At least he would not be distracted by worrying about her safety as well as his own. She had been allowed to bring in any devices she wished, while he felt mostly naked in comparison, as well as unpleasantly soggy. He couldn’t feel comfortable stripped of all tricks of the wizard trade other than his ordinary clothing and his own magical knowledge and skill. But then again, the field test was one to determine what Master magic he had actually learned at the university, not measure his access to any magical resources. The entrance trials had not been nearly as restrictive. They wanted new students who were resourceful as well as clever.

Urwick was grateful for his defences fairly early into his trip amongst the rocky spires. Only a few moments along, a great blast of fire and lava exploded from the ground in front of him, taking him completely by surprise and dousing him with sticky gobs of flame. The cloak he was wearing went up in smoke, despite his precautions, and the heat seared his extremities a little even through his shields. Urwick decided to take the time and effort to double up on his defensive magic, not wanting to suffer the same way if he encountered any other close calls. For a change, he was actually grateful for the rain sputtering down from the sky, cooling his steaming body quite quickly.

He continued to pick his way through the wasteland, still sensing the proximity of the egg, until he arrived at one rocky outcropping surrounded by a small moat of molten sand. It bubbled and hissed as the occasional stray drop of rain breeched its surface.

“Here,” Urwick declared with a triumphant laugh. “This is it – this is where the nest will be.”

He glanced up. The top of the stony formation extended out far above his head. If he attempted to climb the rock column, his chances of falling were likely, the pinnacle of the rock jutting out above a narrow support. He saw little in the way of secure handholds or footholds. Urwick decided he would have to resort to magic to ascend it.

While the spire appeared precarious, Urwick wasn’t afraid of what he would find at the top. No phoenix parent would be present in the nest to defend its young since the breeding process involved the full immolation of the breeder. The mother would have left a lone egg in its fiery wake.

“From flames, reborn,” Urwick muttered as he contemplated the obstacle before him.

He settled on a simple levitation spell. It would allow him to float slowly up to the nest, snatch the egg from its blackened bed and then return victorious to the ground – prize in hand. Field test passed.

Urwick cast his spell, immediately rising through the smoke-hazed air. As the ground left him, he watched for the approach of the edge of the rock outcropping. The ascent proved tedious. Unlike flight, levitation magic lifted a wizard at little better than a snail’s pace unless you had a means to quicken the pace: a stiff upward breeze or a method of pulling one’s body up to one’s destination. Urwick had neither.

Perhaps he was being cocky or complacent. Maybe he had allowed his attention to lapse because he had grown bored during the delay. Either way, Urwick was ill-prepared when he got close enough to grab at the lip of the outcropping and yank himself up. The nest, scorched black and still steaming, came into view, the mottled golden-orange prize at its centre. But Urwick was not alone.

While it was true that there would be no parent present to menace Urwick, he had not considered that fact that he might not be the only predator hoping to claim that egg. Hovering directly across the nest from the dark elf, some sort of reptilian winged beast eyed the egg as well.

“Damn!” Urwick knew if he did not act fast he could lose the desired prize and with that, fail the field test.

It took a battle with reflex to quell the temptation to break the rules and resort to Renegade magic. Any offensive Master spells he could launch off the cuff might put the egg at risk as well. Combined speed, power and control was a Renegade spell trait only wielded by stronger Renegades. Lesser Renegades could use spells involving both speed and power but at the expense of control, that’s what gave them the reputation of being dangerous and unpredictable. While all Master spells were controlled, anything involving any power tended to be slow to cast. Even the quickest and most familiar spell, energy sphere, would allow the creature enough opportunity to snatch away the egg and head for cover. The situation demanded an immediate response.

In truth, the only way Urwick could hope to use any Master Magic with an instantaneous effect was by manipulating one of the spells he already had in place. H stripped himself of one of his two existing shields, interposing it between the monster and his prize. As the beast bounced off of the invisible barrier, Urwick ducked beneath it and grabbed up the egg.

If only the hungry reptile would have been willing to let the battle go at that, conceding defeat and heading off in search of other prey, Urwick’s problems would have been over. The dark elf had never been that fortunate, having to fight for everything he ever wanted. This was no different. He now had to win a new struggle for the freedom to openly express his love for Jadira.

Extremely grateful that he had doubled up his shields, Urwick knew he would be relying on the one he had left for protection. Otherwise his soggy and slightly scorched body would have been left completely exposed. Circumventing the shield Urwick had abandoned to the nest, his scaly opponent lunged for him and the egg, only to collide with the second barrier. That was all that prevented the beast’s claws from raking through the dark elf’s flesh and tearing the egg from his grasp. The gesture still resulted in a mid-air collision driving the floating Urwick away from the rocky spire and spinning him out into the open, drizzly sky. The levitation spell kept him from tumbling to his doom but left him stranded beyond the reach of anything that he could have held onto while lowering himself carefully to the ground.

Now a victim of motion-sickness along with other discomforts, Urwick watched helplessly as the creature left its perch alongside the phoenix nest and circled around to make another go at the egg he held. If he didn’t make some drastic move in response, Urwick would likely be swatted around like a dangly plaything until his shields failed him. The descent the levitation spell would allow would be too slow to provide him with a means of escape from the beast’s attentions. He had to figure another way out.

After a second bat from the reptile’s talons, Urwick glanced at the ground far below him. He did have the option to simply drop the levitation spell and allow himself to fall. A giant mud puddle directly below him would offer some cushion and his shield would be a buffer from the concussive force, but then there was the egg to consider. He could handle a solid jolt and take any minor damage, bumps and bruises, that the tumble would inflict, but could his prize survive as much?

As the monster veered around for a third attack, Urwick realized he did not have the time to contemplate all possible outcomes. He bundled the egg in the tattered, sodden and burnt remains of his cloak, embraced it so he would absorb most of the impact and held his breath. Then, rather than get spun out by the beast’s latest charge, he dropped his levitation spell and hoped for the best.

Urwick plunged into the puddle with considerable force, his tired body subject to a jarring strong enough to rattle his teeth. Although he was drenched by a significant amount of muck, he managed to maintain his hold on the egg.

Once totally submerged in the murky water, Urwick decided it was best to stay that way for some time – at least for as long as he could continue to hold his breath. He hoped the predatory reptile, having lost sight of him, might grow discouraged and fly away. Urwick tried to ignore the cool wet, saturated by grit, as it continued to seep its way into all of his orifices. He was not a man who tolerated physical discomforts very well. By the time he emerged from the puddle, retching and gasping for air, he was wishing he could shed his muck-slathered skin to escape the remains of his muddy bath.

It took a few moments for him to clear enough of the sludge from his eyes and ears to gauge his surroundings. The strange sounds he heard as he resurfaced proved not to be the beast squawking in frustration as he anticipated, but Jadira giggling at his predicament.

“You must really love me,” she said with a wide smile.

“I’m so happy my misery is serving to amuse you.” Urwick spat away the ooze that clung to his lips and trickled in at the corners of his mouth. “I could have knocked myself unconscious and been drowning under there…and you would have been chuckling at my early demise.” He glanced down at the muddy but solid form of the egg still resting in his arms. “At least this is still intact.”

“I knew you would be just fine, my love. You always fare better than expected. You may not be lucky in life as a whole, but you are lucky enough when it counts. I’d wager you have a guardian angel with a sadistic sense of humour.” She flashed him a playful look. “I thought you might like to know, that creature flew away while you were under. Good thinking on your part. Apparently, it didn’t want to go wading through the muck anymore than you or I normally would.”

“So I’m done then? I passed the test?”

“All you have to do is portal back to the boundary that marks the edge of University terrain. The egg’s in one piece, isn’t it?” She laughed.

“It is. I guess that makes you mine then, as agreed.” Urwick tucked the egg under one arm and withdrew a small container from his pocket – a container which had escaped the worst of the muck. “Which means I expect you to put this on and wear it from this point onwards.”

Jadira gently plucked the little box from his messy hand. She cracked it open to reveal a ring inside adorned with a sizable emerald surrounded by tiny fire opals. Urwick grinned at her squeal of delight.

“Only the best for you, my dear,” he added.

Her squeals intensified as he wrapped a muddy arm around her and planted a dirty kiss upon her lips. He followed this up with hasty caresses that left obvious hand-prints on the places explored. It was his turn to laugh.

“And that will leave no doubt whatsoever of how I feel about you.”

Urwick did not give Jadira any chance to protest or take revenge. Splashing out of the puddle, he darted off in the direction of Magic University, all of his goals for the moment accomplished.

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A Current Endeavor – Revving Up

June 11, 2013 at 11:04 pm (Elevation, fantasy, Fervor, Links, Magic University, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

You would think with not one but three books soon to be released (one just out – Providence, one waiting on cover art and a few final touches, and one in final edits also waiting on cover art) I would focus all my efforts on that, but the short stories I have out in submission land don’t just go away while I’m busy. So while I rev up for releases, I have to juggle everything else that comes my way. Sometimes I drop the ball. I allowed myself to be tempted into starting a second book when halfway through reading a first one for review purposes. I ended up with two half finished books yesterday, which meant no review.

Nevertheless, even though it can be overwhelming, when I have so many things coming at me, I seem to get much more done. I’ve been tackling illustrations, a short story by request, a short story rewrite based on publisher feedback, blog posts in advance, work on a teaser tale for Prisoners of Fate and promo work. I can keep up this pace for a couple of months, but by August I’ll be needing a break – good thing I have vacation time then.

For promotion, May December Publications has a few things on the go. They have dropped the prices for print copies of books 1-3 in the Fervor series (Fervor, Elevation, Transcendence) and reduced price for Kindle version of Magic University, the intro novel of my Masters & Renegades series, to $0.99. I have my fingers crossed that folks will give my work a go. My fantasy novels have managed to win over some non-fantasy fans. I consider that a solid accomplishment.

Submission blitz update – While I did not get an official letter, I did get another rejection. The ToC was posted for one of the anthologies before all letters had been sent, and my story didn’t make the cut. “The Storyteller’s Affliction” goes back on the shelf for now.

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Solutions not Resolutions – Avoiding Meltdown

January 24, 2013 at 11:54 pm (Casualties of War, Elevation, Fervor, Magic University, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , )

Sometimes you may hear stories about spontaneous human combustion. I’m getting to the point where I think I’m about to burst into flames any minute, exploding because I haven’t done any writing lately (not quite like this picture here). I’ve been doing plenty of editing, but it’s just not the same. As soon as I’m done my current editing project, I really want to start writing something new. My problem is not that I don’t have any ideas what to write, my problem is I have too many ideas and I can’t decide what to work on next. So I’m putting it out there … I’m going to post a selection of my latest book ideas here and on a variety of social networking sites and ask everyone’s opinion. What do you think I should write next, and why? E-mail me your suggestion at chantellyb@hotmail.com or post it as a comment here, or on facebook. I’ll send a copy of one of my books (Fervor, Elevation, MU, Casualties of War, The Blood is Strong or a zombie anthology) to the most creative explanation I receive detailing which book I should write next.

So here’s what I’m considering (** warning – there may be spoilers in these descriptions):

Masters & Renegades # 9 – Dagramar’s Zoo: Now that Renegade magic is legal in Seaforest, Nia and Snyder decide to seize upon the opportunity to visit their son and grandchild in Feltrey. When the pair fail to arrive at their destination, a frantic Prince Emrys and the captain of his guard, Jarvas are forced to head off in search of them, hoping that they are not lost beyond rescue. (the hubby didn’t want me working on this one until after #5 is published and #3 isn’t even out yet.)

M & R associated – I have a few possible prequels in contemplation:

An Urwick prequel – how he came to leave the underrealm and why he chose to become a Master when he was already a Renegade. It would also look at his run through the Admission Trials, the consequences and his apprenticeship to Jadira.

Another prequel would expand on Kraken Chasm and explore the creation of the Defiance.

Lastly, I could write a prequel based on the voyages of Traveller, from the Snowy Barrens to her employment with Galgamir.

Endeavour (Fervor #5)

When You Scream – Sequel to When You Whisper- Follows Felicia’s life after the first book

Ghost Coast:

Paranormal adventure/romance – Audrey’s father is an established writer who crashed hard after her mother’s death and has written nothing since. At the advice of his agent, he decides to change his environment, and he picks up Audrey and what is left of his life and moves to Sandor Island in hopes of finding solace and refuge from his grief. Audrey’s own life is upended, and at first she feels trapped and bored on the somewhat isolated island until she discovers that there is something very strange about the island’s other inhabitants, its history and its shores. Instead of being stranded in the middle of nowhere and nothing, she finds herself at the centre of a war between the ghosts of pirates and a clan of nereids. She also is introduced to love in a very unanticipated way – one she is not sure she is willing to explore.

Sifting the Ashes:

Post-apocalyptic horror/dark fantasy – a post-apocalyptic tale told from the point of view of Ash, a crow. “The humans rose from amidst the animals and we adapted. The humans started building their cities, and we adapted again. We changed with them, we grew with them, thriving and remaining strong. Now the humans have fallen and we will adapt again. The world is ours to make of it what we will.”

In Her Blood:

Fantasy Romance – An expansion on my short story “The Last” (posted on my account on Scribd and Wattpad.)

Nine choices – as many as I had contestants in MU. It’ll be interesting to see if I get many responses and how creative those responses will be. I’m looking forward to reading them.

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Genre for the Holidays – The 12 Trials of Christmas

December 13, 2012 at 1:49 am (fantasy, Magic University, writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Picking up on the suggestion to match up one of my novels with a Christmas carol, and on a playful whim, I’ve written up my Magic University version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”:

On the first Trial of Christmas my MU gave to me, a soggy imp in an old sack

On the second Trial of Christmas my MU gave to me, two roasting nuts (dwarven ones) and a soggy imp in an old sack.

On the third Trial of Christmas MU gave to me, three fox-bats (demonic ones), two roasting nuts and a soggy imp in an old sack.

On the fourth Trial of Christmas my MU gave to me, four trinkets far, three fox-bats, two roasting nuts and a soggy imp in an old sack.

On the fifth Trial of Christmas my MU gave to me, **five gol*den sparks**, four trinkets far, three fox-bats, two roasting nuts and a soggy imp in an old sack.

On the sixth Trial of Christmas my MU gave to me, six illusions startling, **five gol*den sparks**, four trinkets far, three fox-bats, two roasting nuts and a soggy imp in an old sack.

On the seventh Trial of Christmas my MU gave to me, seven tokens hiding, six illusions startling, **five gol*den sparks**, four trinkets far, three fox-bats, two roasting nuts four trinkets far, three fox-bats, two roasting nuts and a soggy imp in an old sack.

On the eighth Trial of Christmas my MU gave to me, eight walls a shifting , seven tokens hiding, six illusions startling, **five gol*den sparks**, four trinkets far, three fox-bats, two roasting nuts and a soggy imp in an old sack.

On the nine Trial of Christmas my MU gave to me, nine contestants thinking,eight walls a shifting , seven tokens hiding, six illusions startling, **five gol*den sparks**, four trinkets far, three fox-bats, two roasting nuts and a soggy imp in an old sack.

On the tenth Trial of Christmas my MU gave to me, ten pillows warming, nine contestants thinking, eight walls a shifting , seven tokens hiding, six illusions startling, **five gol*den sparks**, four trinkets far, three fox-bats, two roasting nuts and a soggy imp in an old sack.

On the eleventh Trial of Christmas my MU gave to me, eleven candles flickering, ten pillows warming, nine contestants thinking, eight walls a shifting , seven tokens hiding, six illusions startling, **five gol*den sparks**, four trinkets far, three fox-bats, two roasting nuts and a soggy imp in an old sack.

On the twelfth Trial of Christmas my MU gave to me, twelve attendants watching, eleven candles flickering, ten pillows warming, nine contestants thinking, eight walls a shifting , seven tokens hiding, six illusions startling, **five gol*den sparks**, four trinkets far, three fox-bats, two roasting nuts and a soggy imp in an old sack.

Only 13 more days to Christmas – hope your preparations are going well if you celebrate it.

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Genre for the Holidays – The Novel Christmas Party

December 7, 2012 at 12:16 am (fantasy, Links, Magic University, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I’ve been put to the challenge – the Novel Christmas Challenge, as put forth by Lit and Scribbles to be exact, as you can find described here.

So here’s my response, specifically for Magic University…

What carol, even if you have to stretch a little, best describes your novel and why?

I’d have to say The Twelve Days of Christmas, because there are Twelve Admission Trials for Magic University, so in a way, they could be comparable. I could even come up with cute substitutes, like “A Stiggle in a pear tree”.

Christmas Party Questions:

  1. Who’s the first to show up and who’s the first to leave? Why?

The first to show up would be Nia, because she loves a good party and she doesn’t worry about the etiquette of arriving fashionably late:

Nia stared up at the sky, pensively. She drew in a long breath.

“I used to want a simple life. A cozy home, lots of kids, a relaxed sort of life – you know what I mean. But I’ve had to abandon that idea, so I want something big. Something that will benefit me now: wealth and riches, pervasive fame, nights spent partying. Perhaps I could be a court mage, or great adventurer/explorer.”

The first to leave would be Ebon, bitter because he can’t partake in the food, drink or other pleasantries.

“Bah! How can you possibly know what it’s like to be me. Perhaps you’ve faced discrimination because of your racial background, and perhaps people judged you without giving you a chance, but there’s much more to my suffering. When you cannot reach out and touch the things you desire, life loses all purpose. The only thing I have left to live for is restoring myself to what I once was, and that is a lofty ambition.” Ebon’s voice grew sour.


2. Who’s the first to start a fight? Why?

The first to start a fight would be Stiggle because he’s always getting into mischief and stirring up trouble

Taking advantage of the fact that his master was not paying, the imp scuttled up the road, slowing as he neared the dwarf, and creeping forward surreptitiously for the last few feet. Once within reach, he made a haphazard lunge for Shetland’s last mouthful and as a result of his clumsy efforts, he ended up entangled in the dwarf’s beard.

Shetland, red-faced and roaring, leapt to his feet and was dancing about, swinging wildly at Stiggle, who flapped and dangled at his chin and was shrieking at the top of his lungs. The ruckus was enough to easily snap Reid out of his reverie, aware now that his imp had been up to no good.

3. Who’s the first to get drunk? Why?

The first to get drunk would be Shetland because he doesn’t stop drinking as long as there is available alcohol … until he passes out (and being a dwarf, it takes an awful lot for that to happen.)

Finding himself alone, Shetland stared down the stairs and contemplated his options. He could make an early start on the Trial, but had no clue what he would do once he got there. Then again, most of the competitors had probably left their pitcher of ale untouched in their room. If he could manage to get in, he could help himself to as many as he pleased. He wandered over to the closest door, which had been left slightly ajar. Chuckling to himself, he slipped into the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

4. Who will enjoy the party most and who will loathe being there? Why?

Snyder would probably enjoy it the most because, as a bard, he tends to be the life of the party.

Snyder exhaled loudly, wiping tears from the corners of his eyes.

“I’m afraid the best way to get what you just described is to become a bard. Ok – unless you are good, you won’t be able to aspire to much in the way of wealth, but you can expect some measure of fame and bards get invited to all the best parties. Nor will being a bard hamper any plans for adventure or exploration. It’s easy to get around when you can carry everything you need to make a living on your back.”

As for who would loathe being there, once again that would be Ebon (for the same reason as #1).

Are you up for the challenge?

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My Favourite Monsters A-Z – satyr

October 23, 2012 at 11:48 pm (fantasy, Magic University, writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

Satyrs are rarely portrayed as peaceful idyllic creatures like something out of Fantasia. Rather, they were monsters intended to exemplify the bestial nature of man – crude, uncivilized and at times hostile. In Greek mythology, it was a satyr’s lust that resulted in the death of Orpheus’s love, Eurydice.

In my own writing, one of the characters in my Masters & Renegades series, Snyder, is a satyr-human hybrid. Having spent most of his life being scorned for his mixed lineage, and not because of his human blood, he is ashamed of his satyr heritage. The reader gets a glimpse of the personal demons that haunt him when he looks into a special mirror intended to reveal secrets:

“Snyder, I believe it is your turn…”

With a sideways glance at Tom, Snyder stepped before the mirror. There was a moment of haze and one big bubble, and then the mirror slowed to a slight wave motion, but did not settle. It did bear the revelation within, however. As if looking into a pond rippling from a stone’s throw, Snyder’s reflection was not his jovial, well-groomed self, but that of a savage, sneering beast. His hair and fur were knotted and tangled with burrs, and his eyes wild and darting. Instead of Snyder’s fancy suede boots, the satyr’s feet were great cloven hooves, the nails long and twisted as though in need of a clipping. The creature clutched at a set of panpipes. Every few moments it would lower its head in a threatening gesture, exposing the large spiralled ram’s horns on its head, partially hidden by its frizzy hair. Its body was swarming with flies, probably drawn to the filth and rotted leaves matted into its fur, and as if to add insult to injury, it would pause every few seconds to scratch at its groin. It was not wearing any clothing, not even a modest loincloth.

Snyder turned several shades of red, but his features did not otherwise display any emotion. He stepped back, fluffing his curls with his hands to keep his horn tips out of view. Then he casually walked to his place next to Shetland. This time, however, he purposefully avoided the ladies’ eyes.

Not exactly what he wanted to see there.

Above is my sketch of a satyr.

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My Favourite Monsters A-Z – Imp

October 11, 2012 at 10:59 pm (Casualties of War, fantasy, Magic University, writing) (, , , , , , , )

Imps are by far my favourite demonic monster and can be found in a variety of literature, usually bound to an evil wizard or in service to a greater demon. They are most often depicted as small winged and horned creatures with sharp little fangs and claws and a pointed tail. I was so drawn to the idea of these nasty little beasties that I had to include one in my fantasy series, Masters & Renegades.

Stiggle makes an appearance in both Magic University, the first book in the series, and Casualties of War, the second. He is often getting into some kind of mischief or another:

Reid stood to approach the stage, momentarily loosening his hold on Stiggle’s collar. Stiggle had already decided that the closest basin of flowers looked very much like lunch, and feeling the tension on his collar relax, made a break for it. He launched himself at the basin, coming to rest on the lip at its edge. Said basin was precariously perched on the top of a lopsided pillar, which had been recently repaired with somewhat sloppy and fragile results. The entire construct teetered and collapsed, dowsing the crowd with water, flowers, sawdust and ceramic shards – along with one soggy and bruised imp. Reid rushed over and scooped Stiggle from the pile of unhappy and damp ceremony attendees. Pulling a bag from his belt, Reid shook the water from the demonic creature and tossed its wriggling body inside. Ignoring its ear-piercing shrieks, he slung it over his shoulder and made for the stage, a determined look settling across his features. He stepped into his spot on the stage, purposefully avoiding the grim stares from Fortia and Burrell. Fortia shook her head and turned back to the scrolls. Burrell glanced into the crowd, waiting for the chaos to settle before continuing.

Above is one of my sketches of an imp.

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My Favourite Monsters A-Z – Banshee

October 4, 2012 at 1:30 am (horror, Magic University, writing) (, , , , , )

I consider the banshee a classic. A different kind of death omen than the Ankou and Irish in origin (I have Irish blood in me too), the banshee warned of impending death with its piercing wail. A form of undead, and supposedly the ghost of a female Sidhe (an Irish elf/fairyfolk – pronounced “shee”,) her haunting moan would predict someone’s doom. I chose to make reference to this monster in Magic University:

“After the phantom enemy had moved on, Shetland recoiled backwards, clutching at the wall. He glanced down at his device and was surprised to see only nine of the lights extinguished. He had managed to avoid some of the damage.

So focused was he on this minor victory that he failed to notice the creature solidifying before him. He only became aware of the horrific monster’s presence as the banshee actually screamed. The sound startled Shetland to attention. He screamed as well, bolting a few feet back down the tunnel before recovering his senses. He checked his scorekeeper. Only twenty-six lights remained.

Shetland was breathing heavily as he rounded the corner into the next section. He groaned, wishing he did not have to endure the remainder of the Trial to pursue his goal.”

And here above you’ll see my interpretation of this scary screamer.

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