A Man at the Bank

There once was a beautiful teller at a bank. She was always presentable and, without a doubt, totally attractive to many. Her name? Forea. Of course, people always asked of the origins of her name; she usually said it was Nordic.

Forea kept considerable track of her customers, not always for her own curiosity, but usually to provide the best banking services for them. Mentioning new account types and investment possibilities usually meant increases in pay for her. These things were routine.

Most of Forea’s customers were overly presentable and cleanly with their fashion. Each with a highly unusual character, they often seemed to her to be what Grammy award winners might look like in person. There was one customer; however, he came in once a month, always on the twentieth.

Mr. Murphy was his name. He often came into the bank in a white, green, dark green, or black suit. If not a suit, he, at least, dressed above “business casual.” She knew he had red hair and pale skin, totally unique attributes that would qualify him for one of her oil painting attempts.

Despite his unique attire, there was one thing that Forea simply could not figure out. All of her customers wore unique attire. Mr. Murphy, however, usually came to the bank for one reason, and that was to trade five golden coins into his USD account. This way his monthly transaction was to convert gold coins to cash. Forea wanted to know why.

She decided to ask him one day. It was the twentieth, she woke up early and got ready for work early and made it on time, as always. About mid-morning, to know surprise, Mr. Murphy walked through the huge glass doors installed in the front of the bank with a white shirt and green silk tie.

Forea gladly accepted the five gold coins and completed the transaction, as always. Barely having the time and the nerve to ask Mr. Murphy a question upon his departure, said Forea, “May I ask you something?” “Well, sure,” replied Mr. Murphy with a grin. There was no aspect of Forea that was not beautiful. “Why do you always come in on the twentieth to change in exactly five golden coins?” she asked. Said Mr. Murphy, “Well, for one, I am a leprechaun.”

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A Personal Hello

Howdy folks. It has been a while since I posted a personal set of sentences with regards to the on-goings of my current endeavors.

This last year was an exciting one for me, and I hope 2017 will be as rewarding. I am a dishwasher. Though I love cooking and have cooked for restaurants; for now, I wash dishes and help out around and in a kitchen. I know it does not sound too exciting, yet I work with a special group of interesting people, all intriguing in their own way.

So how could I claim to know anything about writing or pursue it, at all? Well, I have always enjoyed a wonderful story. From the first C. S. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien books I read as a child, to the best-sellers full of action, and the classic novels, and importantly, the books on writing, I have enjoyed the consideration of the craft.

Recently, I read that, if we were to all go over to the Smiths, adding an apostrophe to the end of their name would not be necessary. Simple enough; I did not know it, though.

Lately, I have been reading a few grammar books and a few pages of books I read cover to cover on, well, writing. Last year, I wrote 55% of a fantasy novel I plan to continue working on, eventually, and it dawned on me that I was writing with less grammatical authority than I once carelessly played with. Though the novel is important to me and will probably be enjoyed by most who read it (I hope), I put it aside for a few weeks to work on other things.

When I made the shelves you can see here in another post, I had some left-over wood. I thought about making small wooden items and dove into a wood-working hobby. I made a few things I liked. The other items maintained a classic sense of character.

Towards the end of the year, I decided I was rushing the fantasy novel and chose to set it aside to cool off a while. As said, I mad the decision for more than one reason. I wanted to read a little more on writing to improve my technique, yet I also realized I never received publication from anywhere. Sure, I self-published a collection of stories with Amazon, yet I felt as though I would enjoy pursuing becoming a published author another way.

I wrote two stories. One was a fantasy story, and the other one a story with a talking plant and an alien. I liked both of the stories and sent them to a publication that turned them down. No big deal; the stories were not what they were after. I still have both stories and have one of them posted for review in a writing workshop, here. The workshop is great. I can review stories and offer helpful advice, as well as see what others say about what little work I have posted there, so far.

Excited with the extra time it made to set the fantasy novel aside, my mind flooded with many ideas for new stories. I have always liked fantasy the most of the genres of fiction. I liked sci-fi, too. I decided that sci-fi allows for more creativity, and chose it as my favorite genre, because anything can happen anywhere with any kind of being within its realm of consideration.

These things taken into consideration, I remembered a list (here, under qualifying markets) of publications trusted for their publishing history with sci-fi and fantasy. I decided to look into “The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction”, as they have been publishing since 1949. I subscribed to their publication after reading the December issue, and the publication impressed me with the quality of its stories. No doubt, it is no easy task to write a story that compares to the ones they choose to publish. I decided to give it a shot, anyway.

I wrote down an outline of what I thought would be a great sci-fi story. I liked the 25,000 word limit. With a novelette, an author can include plenty of description within a story, including characters and setting. As I wrote down the outline for my idea, I watched “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel. It was a re-run, yet I could not help but to consider an intriguing story inspired from the interesting show. I wrote down a quick outline, thinking I would simply write the story out into about 5,000 words, then work on the more important sci-fi novelette.

The next morning I woke up and began writing out the story. 9,000 words into it by the afternoon, I realized I should go ahead and think of it as a novelette, because I had yet to get to the mid-point of the story. The paragraphs near the end were the driving force behind the story, and I eventually was able to include those notions. Four or five days later I finished the novelette, and it contained 22,200 words. A real feat, for me, as my previous word-count record for a single day was about 4,000 words. My goal is usually 2,000 while working on a novel (not that I have ever finished one).

I had the novelette written and another one to do. I spent five weeks re-writing and revising the work. I finally decided it was good enough and submitted it to the publication. They rejected it about ten days later; I may review it a few times and send it elsewhere to attempt its publication. I like the novelette; that is why I spent so much time trying to make its text flawless.

That pretty much brings us to the present with my on-goings. I like my job and love to write. I made a few wooden Christmas gifts this year and people liked them. I am participating with oww to review and post work, and I plan to continue with efforts for completing the fantasy novel as well as my primary sci-fi novelette idea. Though I have still as of yet received publication for a work of fiction; it will be a goal for a while. I have played a bit of chess this year and continue to learn more with how to play the game in a more efficient way.

Thank you for reading. Live long and prosper. 🙂

Book Review for Michael J. Sullivan’s “The Age of Myth”

On a personal note, I must mention a few things before I get into what I think about “The Age of Myth”. As an aspiring author, there exist many bridges I have yet to cross. When people read my work they often mention they enjoy it, such success is what I can be happy with, for now, as I have yet to sell over a dozen copies of my first novel and am still working on its re-write and my next one (a fantasy novel). I critique literature all the time, for an annual story contest, and enjoy analyzing stories’ plot structure, character and scene development, over all delivery, literary techniques.

I think I first came across Mr. Sullivan when searching for fantasy titles on Amazon, however it may have been when I read an article he wrote for Writer’s Digest. Within the article he mentioned several great tips for authors and explained a few things writers can benefit from with Goodreads. He also mentioned his blog and I checked it out. I even dropped him a few lines and he communicated with me, to my surprise.

Since then he shared “The Jester” with me, which I read and gave him some feedback on, not that the story was in dire need of a grammatical redo. I purchased “Theft of Swords” and read, maybe, the first fourteen pages, and liked it. He accepted my friend’s invite on Goodreads and since then I have promised myself that I will impress Mr. Sullivan (as well as others) with my fantasy novel, by the end of 2016. He answered a few of my e-mails and even gave me advice from time to time on writing, so I appreciated the communication. He is and will remain one of my top five favorite authors; I like a lot of published authors, living and gone, so narrowing down my favorites is not always easy.

As I do what I can to learn what I want to know, in the real world, with science, and as I read, study writing techniques, write stories, and work a job which does not involve writing or any varied form of erudition whatsoever, my hobbies are important to me and keep me busy. Like many, I have my reasons for my own goals. These things being said, time continued to fly by during the last parts of 2015 and the first of 2016, and I really wanted to read and review a book written by Mr. Sullivan.

Already owning one or two of his books, they were the e-book editions, and I realized that I usually read physical books with much more fervor than e-books. I inquired as to which book would be  a good start to read out of the books Mr. Sullivan has written, and he let me know that he was working on a set of five books, the first one being a good one to read, as it was a stand alone novel of sorts. From what I understand, there may also be a sixth book of this series on the way, according to wiki.

Excited, I decided to get my very own copy of “The Age of Myth”, pre-ordered a signed copy for myself  and another copy for my alpha reader weeks before the book’s release date. I simply could not wait to get my hands on that book – June the 27th just could not have come any sooner. Low and behold, however, June the 27th did come, and I received the two books I ordered within good time.

I gave my buddy her copy and began reading mine, could not really put it down without at least finishing the chapter I was on. One thing I liked about “The Age of Myth” was the chapter setup. Each chapter was not too long yet usually nearly a story all its own. I am no speed reader, so to have already finished the book within a 6-month time frame is somewhat of an accomplishment, for me. I think I read about a chapter a night and maybe two chapters on some days.

Usually, when I do a book review, or when I read a book I know I am going to want to do a review on or for, I take notes while I am reading the text. Often times this is because of independent author books which can easily contain many stylistic and ‘flow of story’ questions. Knowing that this is Mr. Sullivan’s first book published by a major publisher, and congratulations to him for that, for we as fans are all happy for he and his wife’s success, I could not wait to see whether I would have much to say about the writing style or story structure.

Little did I know, beta readers read pre-release manuscripts and the publishing team considered their opinion before the book’s publication. It was not simply critiqued by an editor, re-written, and thrown on the shelves with a price tag; a great deal of work went into the final published manuscript of “The Age of Myth”.

I took notes, anyway, and they only spoil the story, which in many regards, impresses me. I found close to nothing at all that I would change within the confines of the book’s cover, and resorted to keeping a summary of events chapter by chapter. Awesome cover. The book painted a real world in my imagination, as if these events actually occurred during some time frame in geologic history. The sole thing I would mention on the text if I were a beta reader would be the double mention of the straw hat – I am not sure, yet I think we heard of the same hat twice or more, and the second time it could have been mentioned in a revised way.

Other book reviewers mention the impressive  ending – I could not wait to experience what they were talking about. I did. For me, the conclusion was like a grand finale in an action film. Magic meets science fiction with nature. Characters which are godlike and can weld the forces of nature go to war with each other, standing for and against the political demands of a ruler. Michael J. Sullivan uses beautifully created characters; the book presents many conflicts and dilemmas, all finding satisfactory solutions. The ending was very impressive, and I am amazed with the gifted talent and creativity of Mr. Sullivan.

One thing I enjoyed about “The Age of Myth” was the way the ‘good side’ won within nearly every conflict. Characters do incur tragic deaths, and there are things that happen or happened to innocent people, however as I clung to my favorite characters within the stories, they usually survived, after all.

One thing I did not see the book portray was an in-depth relation to Old English or rhunic-like writing, and not too many poems. The hard, honest truth has been, and probably will be, that close to no one will ever actually ‘out do’ professor Tolkien, his studies with the origins of English, his historical contributions to fantasy which has inspired us all for decades.

A more positive look upon this work has to do with its readability. If you enjoy the writing style of John Grisham, you will absolutely love this book (given you are wanting to read about magical gods and prehistoric survival stories as well as court-room thrillers). It was simple and straight-forward enough for reading within a small amount of time, while still being able to present an intriguing world with life-like characters.

In regards to the characters, as said, they seemed real. The book uses three main groups of characters including people (Rhunes), god-like people (Fhrey), and god-like people who weld the forces of nature with magic (Fhrey which are Miralyith). These three groups do not always get along, due to territory and social reasons, yet witnessing their interactions was a fun and enjoyable experience.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a fantasy novel. As far as comparing it to other fantasy tales goes, I hope people read it for what it is and appreciate it for the value it holds individually. I think of it as separate from other fantasy stories and I like it that way. I also enjoy the works of Margaret Wise and Tracy Hickman and plenty of other famous authors, however I like to think of “The Age of Myth” as separate from other works and styles. I like it for what it is, all by itself, and cannot wait to read the next four or five books in the series when possible.

The map in the first book is somehow helpful to visualize where the humans and gods travel. The book also includes an Author’s Note before the first chapter and a Glossary of Terms before the Acknowledgements section in the back of the book. The glossary is helpful and worth reading before reading the book, as the characters and places are easier to understand with even more ease that way.

Without further ado, I will share my chapter by chapter summary of the book’s entire text. If you are planning on reading “The Age of Myth” and do not want to spoil the story, skip over the blue text. If you have already read the book and want to read a quick summary of events before reading the next book during the summer of 2017, come back and read the blue text (all hypertext in this review, burgundy). I may do such a thing, too.

Chapter 1, “Of Gods and Men”

Incredible. A father and son duo are presented with a dilemma and tread on forbidden soil to find better ground for hunting and farming and are found by a group of characters. The son is Raithe, and his father is Herkimer. A god, a Fhrey, sees the two men, or what the Fhrey call Rhunes, and order them to drop their weapons. There are two slaves with the Fhrey. Herkimer would not drop is sword even after pleading to leave, and one of the Fhrey kills him. Raithe attempts to avenge his father and is able to do so when one of the slaves, Malcolm, bonks the Fhrey over the head with a big rock. The other slave leaves with the dead Fhrey’s horse to go speak of these events to his brethren, so Malcolm and Raithe now have met and will endure many adventures together. They spend the rest of the day giving Herkimer a proper burial and flee by swimming across a cold river to hike through a dark forest.

Chapter 2, “The Mystic”

The story introduces Surri, the mystic, and Minna, her large white female wolf. Surri meets Persephone, a major character in the tale. Surri informs “Seph” (Persephone) that a wave of death of sorts is on the way. The reason Surri traveled to Dahl Rhen, a Rhune village surrounded by a large wall, was to relate this information. When Seph asks of Tura, the ancient mystic, Surri informs her that Tura is no longer living, that by Turra’s request Surri cremated her.

Chapter 3, “The God Killer”

When Raithe avenged his father, killing Shegon, word spread and he was known as the God Killer. He and the ex-slave, Malcolm, travel through the dark forest living off of bugs and tree bark or the occasional rabbit. After a week or so, while starving in front of a fire, the two hear noises far into the woods. Somewhat alarmed, they search out the noises, thinking it could be leshies (forest spirits). They find a travelers’ lodge and smell cooked food. Of course they would take their risks – they were hungry. In the lodge, Raithe admits to avenging his father and Malcolm tells a fancy story. A large man challenges Raithe. Raithe wins the fight, and he and Malcolm eat cooked food.

Chapter 4, “The New Chieftain”

Within Dahl Rhen, a man named Konniger challenges Seph’s husband, Reglan, the current Chieftain of the Dahl, and wins, killing the man. In doing so, Konniger disappoints Padera, the oldest woman of the Dahl.

Chapter 5, “Before the Door”

Fhrey which practice magic are Miralyith who learn the Art. In this chapter, Nyree, a Miralyith, speaks with her daughter, Arion, also a Miralyith. Students of the art play a prank, flooding a celebration with a great deal of water. Arion is to train the son of the Fane, prince Mawyndulë, in the ways of the Art. It is a prestigious invitation for her to do so. Upon her departure she meets Trilos and converses of the door to a garden which protects the oldest tree. We learn later that Trilos has a special connection with those whom can use the Art.

Chapter 6, “Rumors”

Seph talks with Surri about speaking with Magda, the large oak, on the cover of the book (again, nice illustration), for advice. The Fhrey have supposedly attacked and burned two other Rhune villages; Konniger decides to keep the inhabitants of Dahl Rhen there.

Chapter 7, “The Black Tree”

Seph, Surri and Minna trek to Magda. Raithe and Malcolm hiked through the forest and found Dahl Rhen. Seph and Surri were found and attacked on a steep, slippery waterfall by three men from the Dahl. Raithe and Malcolm defend the women; two of three men die; and the last one returns to the Dahl.

Chapter 8, “Asking the Oak”

Seph, Minna, Surri, Malcolm, and Raithe make it to Magda. Surri says the tree says three things. They are to follow the wolf, heal the injured, and welcome the gods.

Chapter 9, “Tight Places”

After leaving Magda, Surri and Minna leave the others to go home. Seph, Raithe, and Malcolm attempt to follow a ridge back to the Dahl and get lost and attacked by a pack of black wolves. Surri and Minna come back and help fight off the wolves and lead the other three to a big water fall where all five leap. They find an old Dherg cave with a hard-to-open door and stay there. The wolves find the door but cannot get inside. The big bear, Grin, a possible demon or symbol of Death, tears three of the big wolves apart, including the pack’s leader, which Surri seemed to know, Char, and leaves. The cave includes Dherg writing and a glowing emerald, along with an old shield Raithe trades for the one he had. Raithe continues to carry the sword he attained from avenging his father, made by Fhrey, as well as the halved copper sword of his dad.

Chapter 10, “The Galantians”

Seph, Raithe, and Malcolm make their way back to the Dahl to answer questions about the two dead men on the waterfall slope, and the Galantians, a rebel group of Instarya Fhrey, come to the Dahl in search of the God Killer. Raithe explains to their leader, Nyphron, that he avenged his father. He and Nyphron have a sword fight, and one of the Fhrey puts a stop to it. Seph welcomes the gods.

Chapter 11, “The Tutor”

Arion tutors prince Mawyandulë with juggling rocks to teach him the Art. He seems to miss the point as he has trouble juggling them even when he can command them with the Art. Gryndal, a pompous Miralyith, is introduced. Lothian, the Fane, sends Arion to retrieve Nyphron, and he sends Gryndal with the prince to secure the frontier, eventually.

Chapter 12, “Gods Among Us”

This chapter is where I had the ‘hat question.’ On page 176, ‘a big’ could have been ‘the big,’ if the straw hat was the same hat as mentioned before. Nyphron and the Galantians are in the Dahl with Surri, Minna, Raithe, Malcolm, and Seph. Seph speaks with Konniger in a lodge meeting. Seph tries to give good advice and Tressa, Konniger’s wife, and others, think Seph is trying to take over. Seph denies the orders of the Chieftain to ask the Galantians to leave.

Chapter 13, “The Bones”

An important chapter, woman speak about the politics of the Dahl together in a round house. Raithe and Malcolm are there, as well as Surri, and all are sewing wool. Surri asks for bones of a chicken to attempt to predict what may happen. She burns them at dusk and reads them. The bones seem to indicate that a wave of death is on the way. Surri thinks Grin is coming to kill off the Dahl, or maybe worse. She hears a big bear scare a flock of birds.

Chapter 14, “Into the West”

Arion travels with Thyme from Estramnadon to Alon Rhist. Thyme is her guide to get there. She, at one point, falls off her horse into a pool of water, proving that even a Miralyith can experience physical harm. Thyme stays there and Arion departs alone with no soldiers, as she has mastered the Art. She burns a lock of Nyphron’s hair to find is local and soon finds Dahl Rhen.

Chapter 15, “The Lost One”

Women organize to go to the well in the Dahl, as Galantians camp out near the water. The sexy, well-endowed Moya meets Nyphron. More Fhrey arrive in search of the God Killer; Nyphron sends them north. The Fhrey let Nyphron know Arion is on her way to retrieve him. Surri enters the lodge to ask Konniger about Grin, as she intends on performing an exorcism to release a Morvyn (evil demon). Surri is told to leave before she has a chance to speak with Konniger.

Chapter 16, “Miralyith”

Arion travels to Dahl Rhen. She finds Nyphron and he will not return with her to the Fane. Arion bonks other Galantians into an invisible wall and binds Nyphron with the Art to bring him to the Fane. Malcolm bonks her head with a large rock from behind and she falls to the ground bleeding. Seph tells Nyphron not to let his giant kill the Miralyith (heal the injured). People bring Arion to a bed to heal in the lodge. Surri bandages Arion’s head while Arion is sleeping.

Chapter 17, “The Boulder”

Imaly speaks with Fane about Fhrey upheval. Fane sends Gryndal and the prince on a quest to secure the frontier. Gryndal speaks with Trilos about the Art, the door, and a boulder.

Chapter 18, “Healing the Injured”

Arion awakens in bed to learn of the woman caring for her and has lost her powers with the Art. The women care for Arion in shifts. Arion holds conversations with Surri.

Chapter 19, “Waiting on the Moon”

Gifford, the cripled man, gives Roan a nice clay jar. Moya, not wanting to marry a certain man, tries to convince Seph to become Chieftain. By the rules, a woman can become Chieftain so long as a man can represent her for battle. The woman have a long conversation and Raithe and Malcolm learn more about sewing wool. Raithe goes to the forest to chop down a tree, and the Instarya Fhrey, Sebek, challenges him to a sword fight. Sebek uses two swords in combat. Sebek won the sword fight three times, leaving Raithe alive. Raithe goes back to working on the tree with a real axe, something he had yet to use before, as back in Dureya Rhunes only had sticks with rocks on them for felling trees.

Chapter 20, “The Prince”

Gryndal and Mawyndulë set out on the frontier. They discuss politics and the practice of the Art. Gryndal speaks of Mawyndulë’s father, the current Fane, Lothian, and speaks of his possible assassination. Upon finding the extinguished grounds of a Rhune Dahl, the two discover a few men and a woman, hiding under some boards. Gryndal uses the Art to knock the boards away and snaps his fingers, exploding and killing what was left of that Dahl’s clan. Gryndal and Mawyndulë travel on toward Dahl Rhen.

Chapter 21, “The Full Moon”

Surri and Arion talk about Grin. Arion sees Surri light a candle with the Art, something Arion thought was impossible for a Rhune to do. Surri leaves Minna with Arion and departs to perform an exorcism on Grin, to remove the morvyn from the bear.

Chapter 22, “Curse of the Brown Bear”

Surri and The Keeper of Ways, Maeve, set out to find Grin. Konniger and Seph have a long conversation on Maeve’s daughter with Reglan, Seph’s deceased husband. Later we figure that Maeve’s daughter was probably Surri; Seph had no knowledge of her husband’s being unfaithful. Therein lied the reason the baby was left in the forest; people thought the baby may have turned into a bear. Maeve had previously taken dead bodies to the bear, as people died during a hard winter. Seph, Raithe, and Malcolm follow Minna towards the cave to try to save Surri and Maeve.

Chapter 23, “The Cave”

Surri and Mauve make it to the cave.  They wait for him, and Surri puts salt on the ground to deflect the demon. Arion wakes to exit the lodge and is sore. She finds Nyphron and bargains with him, forgiving him for her head injury, sending him and the other Galantians to save Surri and Maeve from Grin. The Galantians agree to go, as it will keep Arion from trying to bring them back to the Fane.

Chapter 24, “Demons in the Forest”

Maeve and Surri wait in the cave for Grin. Maeve thinks Surri is her daughter. They talk about the hard winter and continue to wait for Grin.

Chapter 25, “Trapped”

A great deal of action occurs in this chapter. As Seph, Malcolm, and Raithe are running through the night, Minna breaks free and runs to the cave. Konniger and a bunch of his drunk men ambush and surround the other three. ‘Stuby’ tries to save Seph and Konniger kills him. During the attack, Malcolm delivers a blow to Konniger with a shield, and Seph flees by Raithe’s recommendation to the waterfall cave. Konniger chases her all the way there in the darkness.

As Malcolm and Raithe fight off the attacking men, the Galantians enter the scene and annihilate the attacking Rhunes only to travel down a path to Grin’s cave. In the cave, Grin knocks Maeve into a wall hard. The bear tries to get Surri but she is too close to the wall. Minna enters the cave and bites the huge bear in the rump; Surri calls the fire spirits with a clap of her hands, setting Grin on fire. The bear flees; we eventually learn that she jumps off the waterfall burnt and stinky.

Once the Galantians get to Grin’s cave, Maeve is for sure deceased and Surri and Minna are okay. Malcolm and Raithe try to find Seph in the waterfall cave. The chapter ends with only Seph and Konniger behind the waterfall in the darkness, him trying to find her while she is both exhausted and terrified.

Chapter 26 “Beneath the Falls”

Surri and Minna check on Maeve who speaks and dies. Raithe, Malcolm, and the Galantians find Surri who agrees to lead them to the Dherg cave to attempt saving Seph. Grin finds Konniger and tears him to pieces. She tries to enter the door of the cave. Seph finally figured out how to open the cave’s stone door, and Grin gets trapped in the door as it is closing. The huge bear would have been able to open the stone door, however Seph beat the bear repeatedly with a shield. Grin died, staring into the emerald of the Dherg cave. Seph sleeps on the shield.

The Galantians, Raithe, and Malcolm find Seph. Raithe finds Seph sleeping on the shield and thinks she is not alive, kisses her on the forehead waking her up. Nyphron and the other Galantians marvel at the inscriptions in the cave and their small goblin creature acknowledges the markings as old Dherg inscriptions.

Chapter 27, “When Gods Collide”

The grand finale of the book is within this chapter. The final events take place in Dahl Rhen. Seph, Malcolm, Raithe, and the Galantians return to the Dahl to find the Rhunes organized in a group in front of the lodge dismally. Gryndal steps out with  Mawyndulë to face Arion and the Galantians. Gryndal brings Nyphron to his knees with the Art and orders the Galantians to slay the rhunes. Arion uses the Art to protect Seph and the others. Gryndal uses the Art to kill the Nyphron’s small goblin creature. Gryndal and Arion battle each other with the forces of nature. Surri catches Gryndal on fire, which distracts him. Minna attacks Gryndal, tearing his facial piercings, distracting him more. Raithe saves Minna from Gryndal’s ‘ground magic’ move. Gryndal attempts to strike Raithe with a bolt of magic from the sky; Raithe deflects the bolt with his shield, directing it to Gryndal. The bolt paralyzes Gryndal, and Raithe chops of Gryndal’s head. Arion forces Mawyndulë and his troops to return to Estramnadon. Nyphron’s giant was placed in a magic bubble and Arion had forgotten to release him. After Gryndal was dead, Arion released the giant. Malcolm had thrown a spear towards the prince which stuck into the front of the lodge. Surri thanks Raithe for saving Minna and Seph hugs Raithe.

Chapter 28, “The First Chair”

The inhabitants of Dahl Rhen were without a Chieftain, Shield, or Keeper of Ways. Persephone (Seph) declares herself Chieftain to the crowd, which approves, and Raithe as her spokesperson for battle. Seph announces Brin as the Keeper of Ways, Raithe as the shield, and grants Malcolm full citizenship of Dahl Rhen. Seph declares Surri the Mystic of Dahl Rhen. Seph requests the Galantians to stay in Dahl Rhen, as well as Arion, once she was awake. Malcolm was the slave of Nyphron’s father, Shegon, who Raithe killed. Malcolm admits to Nyphron in the conclusion of the book that he attempted to throw the spear into the lodge five feet to the right of the prince – the spear jabbed into the lodge a foot to the left of Mawyndulë.

Chapter 1 of the “Age of Swords”, book two of “The Legends of the First Empire”, “Broken”

This chapter contains the bonus text from the book to be released in the summer of 2017. Roan tries to make a brace for Gifford’s week leg. It fails and he falls. A terrible storm comes to the Dahl and people hide in the food storage. Seph, Arion, and Surri had traveled to Magda for advice. The storm passes and people come out of the storage hole. Something outside of the Dahl is bombarding the barricade/front door.

The people involved with the publication of the final draft of “The Age of Myth” clearly passed the ‘high bar,’ they set for themselves in regards to the book’s publication. A wonderful book, I could not put it down while reading page after page, chapter after chapter, of events involving conflicts with Fhrey, Rhunes, and other characters.

One thing I would like to mention before concluding this review are the quotes preceding each chapter from “The Book of Brin”, written by the character Brin, who has historical insight throughout the tale. She learned many things from a woman and possesses a notable memory. They offer intriguing insight on events and are a wonderful addition to the beginning of each chapter, as readers try to consider what is going to happen next. Each quote is like a deep thought or maxim, and I looked forward to reading each one. Also, there is a note about Mr. Sullivan and his family in the back of the book, with information on how to contact him on the web. His blog is here. E-mail Michael J. Sullivan at michael.sullivan.dc@gmail.com. Find him on facebook at author.michael.sullivan and on twitter via @author_sullivan.

All in all I give this book five of five stars, as nine out of ten readers probably will or already have. I cannot imagine the amount of work that went into its final presentation. I am happy I read it and will enjoy thinking about the exciting story for a long, long time. I am happy Mr. Sullivan has achieved his goals and hope he continues to find success, am sure he will. Amazing. Awesome. I am very impressed.

A Book Review for Stephen King’s “On Writing”

“On Writing” was an enjoyable read. I originally purchased the book to read to improve my writing style without considering its entire title “… A Memoir of the Craft”. Even though King explains life experiences from his childhood to near present time, he still includes a great deal of positive advice for writing. Anyone struggling with writing or open to some inspirational thought will benefit from reading “On Writing”.

One reason the book, and Stephen King himself, gives me so much inspiration is the notion of writing about 1,400 words a day or more. This is a far easier idea than trying to set aside a 6-hour time slot to write as much as possible, and way easier than trying to write out an entire project only pausing when necessary. Producing a small amount of work by often habit is more feasible to justify and stay motivated with.

Another notion that I find inspiring is the idea of writing without too much plotting. I agree with King on this one -even if one plots out an entire story or novel, once one writes it out they generally change what goes on (or not) as you write it. If plotting with an outline helps you, go for it. If simply writing without too much thought of the story before you come up with it is the way you write best, go with that. Do what works for you, in other words, even if you’ve heard it many times before.

The next thing I like about King’s advice on writing was to not spend too much time with technique. I enjoy utilizing as much grammar technique as possible, however I do not always adhere to grammar rules as strictly as I would like. Use of the passive voice, colloquialisms, ect. many times are found in my rough drafts. I do not let these things keep me from the story, though, and King reminds us of what is most important when writing fiction. The story.

Many people who have written about “On Writing” mention Mr. King’s near death accident. The story is in the end of the book. He was hit by a vehicle while on a walk one day, nearly died, and was only half through with “On Writing”. Our hearts go out to Stephen King when we hear of his regaining of health after having most of his body shattered and finishing his memoir on writing. Long live the King, indeed.

King mentions his struggles as a young writer such as struggling to pay bills, even when he became an English teacher. Who would have ever guessed that the world’s most famous and respected horror author would be a down-to-Earth family man? I am not sure, however I have more respect for him after reading his honest accounts of his love for his wife, family, and writing. I also found his ideas on drug abuse inspiring. He declares that while many users may think that use helps their creativity, people write just as well without stimulants or sedatives or both. I agree. I may drink a coffee or vape sometimes, however I find participating in creative writing is best without the use of unhealthy substances. I am glad he decided to clean up his life and live in a healthy way, that he could say people write just as splendidly without stimulants/downers or other temptations.

To further explore reasons I liked “On Writing”, I must note that King mentions telepathy. We are not alone as humans; any religion considers the idea. He suggests good practices for choosing a good place to write and being okay with ‘listening’ while writing. He also mentions that he kept this book slim and tried to exercise some form of concision with his prose. In my opinion, he did an awesome job. I was able to read a few pages at night before going to bed and had the book finished, paying attention to its every word, in about 40 days (if I can do it, so can you). King mentions a Mississippi scribbler, John Grisham, as being found by his agent, Bill who set King up with Double Day many years ago. Many people think that part of what makes Grisham such a great author has to do with the ease in which we can read his work. I agree and think “On Writing” can be easily read.

“On Writing” gives references to a few dozen authors/books with explanations of their style and why to read them or how to compare them to what we may decide to write. King helps us consider what we are after with our writing and how to achieve success. He also includes two extensive book lists in the end of the version I read.

Early in the book, he mentions going to the movies and considering what was going on in the movie, as well as what could have happened to make the story even crazier or better. I think most people have a pretty creative mind, however part of King’s unique genius, other than his work ethic, is his ability to consider a good story and either stick with it or spice it up a little.

As far as real grammar lessons go, there are not many in “On Writing”. King does mention”Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition”, as well as Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”. He advises a cautious study of these texts, yet mentions that once you have learned enough grammar to write well, there is no need to waste your time with studying too much grammar. By saying this, he reminds us that the story itself is what is most important.

The first part of the book inspired my writing a tale upon reading a few things about Stephen King’s childhood. I put the book down and wrote out an outline, and wrote the story the next day. You can read it here. I also wrote down an outline for a novel with a protagonist and a bunch of monsters, however it may be a while before I get to writing it out, as I am working on some other works of fiction, currently. I’ve kept the outline with a few other novel ideas, nonetheless.

I conclusion I do recommend Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”, to be read by most authors, fans, and readers. It won’t give you nightmares, and though it is no new lesson in English, it will definitely inspire you as a fiction author. Stephen King spent a lifetime working hard and stayed dedicated to his goals as a family man and a writer. He did what was best for him and we should, too, so our reading audience will love and enjoy our work as creative artists and writing masters. What more could we ask for? I hope you enjoy reading “On Writing” as much as I and others have. As said by “Entertainment Weekly”, “Long live the King.”

Why Check Out Writer’s Digest and Goodreads?

goodreads          writersdigest

Recently, I sent a message on twitter to a famous author named R. A. Salvatore. I plan to read at least one of his books this year, as I somehow have not read any of his work, before. I sent him a friend’s request to communicate with him on goodreads.com. He said he already spends to much time on the web -I cannot imagine how involved an author of his status is with the web.

Nevertheless, I sent him a message recommending he at least check out goodreads.com and writersdigest.com. Goodreads is the platform for discussing books, finding books others have read, sharing discussions on books, and communicating with authors. For people like myself who have a book with sales under 10 copies and are working on writing more books, goodreads is like a double-cheese hamburger to a hungry American. Just ask Michael Sullivan or check out his Writer’s Digest article; he is a ‘Goodreads Master.’ People seeking to learn more about other authors or who are trying to promote their own work somehow should definitely get involved with goodreads.

Writer’s Digest is the source for all authors. The publication includes novel contests, ways to find agents, ways to find market listings for short stories, and books on writing. The books on writing are great for those with and without college degrees in English. Any author who visits writersdigest.com will find something of interest to them. For writers, like myself, who have not yet ‘surpassed the bell curve’ of becoming a full time author as a vocation, Writer’s Digest is a publication we should subscribe to, as its advice and information in regards to the business of writing is always priceless.

So, if you have never become involved with these two sites, at least check them out. Click on the two links to open a new tab in your browser and click on their tabs for at least a few minutes to see what they are all about. Goodreads is free, and writersdigest has plenty of free and interesting content. You learn even more if you subscribe to their publication and receive current articles on what is going on in the world of publishing. If for no other reason, view them to see what other authors are up to. I like to read what editors like Brian Klems and his colleagues have to say about writing and literary techniques. I just do not think the two sites are a waste of time.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it was beneficial for all who have. To my new followers and those who have recently ‘liked’ a post, “Thank you.” Communicate with me by sending an e-mail to admin@jcm3blog.com. We love feedback here.  🙂

A Day in January

Today has been a wonderful day. The breeze was cool, the sunlight beautiful. This year I am 40. My birthday was last Sunday, and I must say, I plan to live this year to its fullest. I am working on a fantasy novel for an hour or two each day I can, and it is coming along well. On goodreads, I have recently communicated with a few authors I knew, before, and have also encountered many others.

There exists a handful of books I cannot wait to read -have to make time for my writing, too, lest I risk not accomplishing what I hope a reader audience as well as myself will enjoy. I am currently reading a few pages of Stephen King’s “On Writing” every night before I turn in. I was hesitant to read the book, at first, as he is so well-known for horror. I decided to risk the endeavor, however, and have found that his advice on living and writing well are not scary yet valuable. About 170 pages into the book, it is coming along nicely.

It has occurred to me that, while I have studied many grammar books and have read plenty of classics and occasional best-sellers, not to mention a few novels by independent authors, I still have a lot of reading to do. The top ten fantasy/science fiction authors currently in the business have plenty of books available. I have not read 98% of these works, so I definitely have some reading to do.

I am of the mind that the mechanics of a great story involving mystical beings and adventure do not always have to be inspired from what contemporary authors have written, however it will be nice to have read more books once I have. The book I am working on may not even compare to the powerful juggernautic novels currently in the bestsellers lists, however I plan to do all I can for its final text to be something people of all ages will enjoy for many years to come.

To my new followers and people who follow jcm3blog, thank you for reading. I am always a big fan of my audience, as I hope it grows to be a group of admirable thinkers who enjoy reading my writing as much as I do. Study grammar for style – write with your heart. The world will love your every intriguing story. Anytime you would like to contact jcm3blog, send e-mail to admin@jcm3blog.com. We may be low on time, it is only because we try to use it wisely. God bless you and have a wonderful day. 🙂

Sometimes They Do Not Make It

The school year was 75% complete. Young Steven and his brother Davie, two years older than him, were helping their mother unpack boxes after school. The three of them moved into their new apartment, recently, due to an explosion Davie accidentally caused in their old apartment. The boys and their mom were lucky to live through the experience unharmed.

“You guys are driving me crazy,” said their mother. “How?” asked Davie, “We are just doing what you told us.” “Well, for now, you guys can go outside and play. Be back before dark, and I’ll have dinner ready.” The boys did not attest to this and immediately made it to the door, closing it behind them politely, to hike three stories down.

“We don’t have a front yard; we have a sidewalk with a street,” observed Steven. “Let’s check out what’s behind back,” said Davie, “We may have the time to do some exploring.” Davie was in the 9th grade, Steven in the 7th. They ran around to behind the apartment building. It was a massive structure with twenty-one apartments. Each with four rooms, 2.5-baths, and made with light pink bricks. There was a small field and a wooded area nearby, also.

The boys marched right into the woods, as the trees were sparse. After some time they found some railway tracks and stopped to rest. “I found an old rusty spike!” said Steven. “Just leave it alone,” said Davie, “There are probably a ton of them around here.” The two boys sat on a big square concrete block about twelve yards away from the tracks, wondering how often the train comes.

On the other side of the tracks, there was a small creek just wide enough to scale. The creek ran parallel to the tracks. More woods and an overgrown field could be seen off to the left. Time slipped away gently. The boys talked about girls and school, tossing small pebbles into the creek across from the tracks. Only a single small tossed pebble could make ‘circle ripples,’ which reflected overhung trees in an amazing way.

Little Davie was a child prodigy, just as Steven – Davie still had the ‘brains;’ however, and Steven was always aware of his older brother’s natural instincts. “It is going to get dark any minute,” said Davie, “We should go back.” As the two boys stood, they heard the “Choo-choo” of a train coming. “A train!” exclaimed Steven, and as they looked down the tracks, they saw a large train was really on its way.

They waited until the engine passed them and watched its cars whiz by, one by one. “How fast do you think the train is going?” yelled Steven. “Probably about 30 mph,” replied Davie, “Let’s go.” They left the roaring train and made it back home before dark. The woods were simple enough, so there chances of getting lost were slim. The two smelly lads cleaned up for dinner, ate Spaghetti, spoke politely with their mother, and bathed and went off to bed.

Saturday finally came around and the boys woke up before dawn to watch cartoons. Their mother woke up early and cooked a nice breakfast including pancakes, sausage, and milk. “I am going to the craft store today for some fabric and stuff,” said their mother, “I want you guys to be on your best behavior, and you cannot leave this apartment until your chores are done.” “We did our chores yesterday,” said Davie, quietly, hoping they did not forget any usual chores. Steven looked to the ground, for this could mean more chores and less cartoons. Or worse. “Can we go to the craft store with you?” asked Davie. “You two had better not embarrass me,” said their mother. Excited, the two brothers got ready to go to the craft store with their mother.

Curiosity flowed through the two boys like warm milk. This part of town was an intriguing new world to them, even though the craft store, much larger than most average sized hardware stores, was only six blocks away. The brothers did what they could to stay out of trouble, once in the store. Walking down every aisle, nothing seemed to be too much of a surprise. The artist’s aisle was super awesome, and Davie saw many things he did not know much about. Then, however, the boys found the model car aisle.

As amazing as it was, the model cars did not even compare to what they found toward the end of the aisle. The hobby-rocket section. Amazed, the two boys inspected every rocket, some forty in number. The largest rockets were huge, five-foot tall models that took “D” cell engines. Stickers on rockets requiring a “C” engine or larger stated, “Must be 18 or Older to Purchase.”

Davie noticed an interesting rocket, while Steven proceeded to pretend-launch a small rocket by hand into the air. He decided not throw it; however, and put it back quickly, as an older woman looked over her glasses from over forty feet away.

“This one comes with a deploying parachute,” said Davie. “Wow,” said Steven, “What is the remote control for?” Davie read the package and said, “This rocket has ‘Track Finder’ technology. The remote helps you find the small plastic astronaut and his parachute, once he explodes into the air far above ground level. The little figurine uses a locator chip with a watch battery.” “Wow,” said Steven, “We’ll have to ask mom for it.”

They went and found their mother, who was making her fabric purchase before checking out with a few other items. She went with the boys to see the hobby-rocket section. I could not get you one of these today if I wanted to,” said their mother, “Unless you want this small one.” “We want the one with the track finder,” said Steven. “‘C’ cell engine,” said Davie, “It must be smaller than the ‘D’ cells.” “It’s marked 25% off,” said Steven, “$29.99 instead of the normal price of forty dollars.” “That’s another 25% off if the two of you can come up with $20,” said their mother. “Is that a promise?” asked Davie. “Sure,” she said. “Is that a double promise?” asked Steven, and asked, “How can we get the money?” “That is a double promise,” said their mother, “Maybe you can do some cleaning for the neighbors or a few things for allowance money.”

They made their way to the front of the store. Their mother finished making her purchases, and the boys did not mind not getting nothing whatsoever -they had goals, now. The following week the boys went out to the tracks to see if the train passed by everyday just before dark. It did.

“How are we going to come up with the money for that rocket?” asked Steven. “I don’t know,” said Davie, “All I have is the dime in my pocket. I’ll have to think of something.” “I wonder if the train would flatten the dime into a smooth silver streak on the rail?” asked Steven. “No,” said Davie, “The train will flatten the coin into an oval like a potato chip. I saw it in a Western.” “Can we try it?” asked Steven. “It’s no way to save money for a rocket,” said Davie, but he handed Steven the dime as they could see the train coming. Steven placed the dime heads up on the railroad track – the vibrations knocked it off twice. “Hurry,” said Davie, “The train is coming fast.

Steven placed the dime on the track one last time and it seemed to stay centered, tales up. He backed away in plenty of time to see the engine and 20 some-odd cars pass by – the boys even saw the caboose this time. They ran back up to the tracks and there was no dime. “Darn it,” said Steven. He and Davie looked around for the dime; Davie found it. “Wow,” said Steven, “It does look like a potato chip!” “You can keep it,” said Davie. “Are you sure?” asked Steven. “Yeah,” said Davie, “You’re my little bro. Let’s go. It’s already getting dark.”

The two jogged back home, ate, bathed, said their prayers with their mother, and went off to bed. The next day Steven was in the lunch line, inspecting his amazing coin. “What’s that?” asked one of his student friends. “It’s a potato-chip dime,” said Steven. “What’s it worth?” asked another boy. “I don’t know,” said Steven, “Its my lucky potato chip coin.” “Can I see it?” said a girl. “Sure,” said Steven, as he handed it to her. Amazed, the children studied the coin. “I’ll give you my lunch money for it,” said one of the boys, “Two dollars.” Steven would never take the offer, as the coin meant something to him, but he thought about the rocket. “Deal,” said Steven, and the boy handed him the two dollars for the potato chip dime. The girl took one last look at the coin and handed it to its purchaser.

Steven was now four dollars up and still about forty students back in the line from the cafeteria workers. As his new sidekick went to sit and inspect the coin incognito with some people already eating, Steven followed behind. “I’ll keep this four dollars,” thought Steven, “And I’ll get some more dimes.”

The idea was a fantastic one, indeed. Steven and his brother took the four dollars down the street that afternoon to the gas station. The teller would not change out their money for forty dimes, because they would need to make a purchase, first. “What if we let you keep two of the dimes?” asked Davie, and Steven laughed a little. He just could not guess the outcome of this proposition. “I’ll take it as a transaction,” said the old woman, playing along, “For these two dark green jawbreakers.” The boys were happy with the transaction and made it back home before dark, green tongued.

Their mother asked about their green tongues, and Davie said they got them from the gas station’s jawbreakers. With no further questions, the boys were in the clear. The three ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The following day the boys finished their homework. It was time for external activities. Both carrying a pocket full of dimes, they jogged all the way to the tracks to beat the train. The boys lined up all thirty eight dimes about two feet apart, eighteen on each rail. The train finally came along, and the boys gathered all but one of the dimes. It was getting dark, fast, and thirty-seven would have to do. On a mission, they returned home in an efficient manner.

Over the next few weeks, both of the boys sold the potato chip dimes to other students, making sure they (the other students) would keep it a secret so that the lunch money went unmentioned. Combined, they sold twenty-nine coins in ten days, and both brothers decided to keep four of the valuable potato-chip dimes. “How much does that add up to?” asked Steven, knowing Davie had already done the math. “$58,” said Davie, “Now all we have to do is give mom a story about how we got the money.” “That old man who sits by the gas station in front of the small convenience store, what if he bought us the rocket?” “Works for me,” said Davie, “We can split the change and speak with the old man when we see him.” They made it back as darkness settled in.

The next day, they finished their homework and went to the craft store and bought the rocket. The total was $32.24, so the boys had $25.76, or $12.88 a piece for piggy bank savings. Davie let Steven carry the rocket home in a large sack. Their mother, astonished.

“And just how did you two manage that?” she asked. “The old man by the store heard us talking about how we wanted that rocket so bad, and we could not figure out how to come up with the money. He did not have anyone in mind we could do chores for, but he bought it for us saying he would keep us in mind,” said Steven. Their mother’s eyes immediately met with Davie‘s, whose face went pale. “That’s true,” he said. “Well that sure was nice of that man,” said their mom. They ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The next day was a Friday, so the boys would have to wait until the following day to try out the rocket. This did not stop Davie’s eagerness to read and learn, though. Upon finishing their homework, Davie and Steven opened the rocket box, keeping it intact, and Davie read the instructions. Steven, while playing with the little astronaut man, landed him on Davie‘s shoulder saying, “I have discovered the moon and have not a flag.” Davie continued to read.

The two eventually checked the contents of the box and even assembled most of the rocket. It was 2.5 feet tall and just under an inch in diameter. It came with a firing fuse connected to a twelve-foot long wire. The wire connected to a push-button box. The rocket also came with its own stand and of course the remote control device. The device showed distance in tenths of a mile and had a radar screen. Davie was concerned that batteries were not included. They were, though they were some cheap ones.

They ate, cleaned, and went off to bed, as always, reading some before bedtime. Davie liked C. S. S. Lewis and Isaac Asimov; Steven liked monster stories; and their mother, Danielle Steel. Steven asked his mother why she preferred Danielle Steel as opposed to Nora Roberts one time, and he received no response. “Probably the writing style or plot development,” said Davie, “The two authors really are different in comparison.”

It was Saturday morning, and the boys were up with their rocket before dawn. “Where are we going to launch it?” asked Steven, “A football field?” “No,” said Davie, “We’ll take it to the tracks. With any luck, the wind will be blowing towards the field on the other side of the creek, left of the ‘Other-Side Woods.'” “Those woods are creepy,” said Steven. “They are more dense,” said Davie, “That is why. Those shadows are darker because the trees block out most of the sunlight, even in the daytime. We’ll have to take the rocket in sections to the tracks in the box, and reassemble it once we are in the field with the stand.”

“Not yet you won’t,” their mother said, as she walked into the kitchen, “I want these dishes done and the carpet vacuumed before you two go anywhere today, and I’ll make us some breakfast.” Their mother did well. She was a secretary for a law firm downtown. The two boys did their chores and cleaned their rooms in order to leave. She fed them a bologna sandwich and a coke, and they assembled most of the rocket by its instructions. Then, after making sure they could go outside, they began a journey to the tracks.

They made it there early in the afternoon. “The wind just so happens to be blowing in opposite direction of the Other-Side Woods,” said Davie, “We are in luck. Not a cloud in the sky.” The boys crossed the tracks, skillfully scaled the stream, and walked for a while through the field. They found a decent clearing in the wild grass and stopped. They got the rocket together as well as its stand, and Davie handed Steven the ignition button. Stupefied, Steven asked, “I just push the button?” “No,” said Davie, securing the rocket’s fuse wire in its engine before backing up a few steps, “I’ll count down from five to monitor the atmosphere. When I say ‘One, go,‘ then press the button.” “Okay,” said Steven, and he held his right index finger over the button watching the amazing rocket with a great deal of attention.

“Five,” said Davie; he held a wet finger in the air to feel the wind. Steven admired the silver flame decals on the rocket along with its shining gloss-black cover paint. The rocket also had four small fins glued to its mid-section, and four larger fins glued perfectly to its lower end. “Four,” said Davie, cautiously awaiting the breeze to die a little, seeing nothing much about the peaceful field but a bird or two flying around eating gnats in the distance. Steven beheld the magnificent rocket, just waiting to press the button. “Three. Two.” There was no reason to wait. “One…” said Davie, “Go!”

Steven pressed the button and the fuse in the engine of the rocket ignited. The engine’s powder began to combust, and the rocket immediately shot up into the air, leaving a white, streaming cloud of smoke beneath its travel. “Wow!” exclaimed Steven, backing up a few steps to see it decrease in size as it climbed in altitude. “Will we see it explode the parachute?” asked Steven. “I think so,” said Davie, all eyes on the rocket, and so it did.

The children saw the rocket burst far above them, yet they could not see the parachuting astronaut figurine for a moment. Then, they thought they could see it for a second floating away. His (the figurine’s) locator chip activated and working properly, Davie‘s remote locator with radar display functioned properly, too. The two children walked further into the field to find the rocket. They saw it fall about eighty yards away from where they launched it.

They made it to the vicinity of the fallen rocket and Steven found it. “How far away is the astronaut?” asked Steven. Davie held his radar box in his right hand and pointed off to the left with his left hand, in about a 280˚ angle. “By the looks of this radar, he is 2.5 miles in that direction and may still be falling or in a tree,” said Davie. As he pointed into the far distance, they could see far down the tracks. The train was coming. “Let’s go back,” said Davie, “We’ll have to go find the astronaut tomorrow.” Steven handed Davie the rocket; they jogged back to the stand and got it; and ran to the tracks and crossed back over, safely. The train was still coming, so they put the rocket back in the box as they awaited its passing.

“Cannot we watch the train pass by?” asked Steven, “I want to count the cars.” It was starting to get dark, yet Davie said, “Okay.” The train “Choo-choo’d,” and the boys counted exactly twenty-two cars, including the enormous front engine, twenty boxcars, and its caboose. The caboose was highly similar to the ones they saw before; they were never not the same one. Steven volunteered to carry the box, and they made their way back.

Upon entering the woods, the sun had nearly fallen completely. Though remnants of sunlight were still aglow, nighttime shadows were among the trees, as well. “Let’s pick it up a bit,” said Davie, and the boys steadied their jog. Halfway through the woods, the two boys were making good time. So long as it was not pitch black outside, their mother would not be too disappointed.

Suddenly, Davie grabbed Steven bringing them both to a halt. He instinctively put his hand over Steven’s mouth and pointed to about thirty yards in front of them, in about a 25˚ angle. Steven could not see him at first, then flushed pale. “Is that a ghost?” whispered Steven. “I am not sure,” said Davie, “We could just jog by him, however I think he’s watching us.” “We are in the middle of the woods,” said Steven. “We’ll just walk by him and leave him be,” said Davie, thinking it was about the best they could do.

“No need to walk by me,” said the figure, standing right before them all of a sudden. This really freaked Davie out. “Who are you?” asked Steven, courageously, sensing the figure may not be of harm to them. “I am Death,” said the tall, handsome man. The man gleamed in the shadows of dusk, a pastel purple and white gleam, much like an angel. “We must be getting back, kind sir,” said Davie. “Oh sure,” said Death, “I know your mother is waiting. There is something you may want to know, though.” “Which is?” asked Steven. “There is a homeless man down by the tracks, about twenty feet on the other side of where you guys crossed over before shooting off your amazing rocket. He has only moments to live. That is why I am here.” “What can we do?” asked Davie. “If you manage to get a glass of water to him before he passes, he may be able to make it.”

The three ran to the apartment complex and Death waited outside. Steven brought the box to his room, and Davie hurried to get a glass of water while their mother was taking a bath. The two left and met up with Death. They jogged all the way back to the tracks by moonlight and found the dying man as he lay a ways away from the tracks on his back. Davie checked his pulse while Steven tried to get the man to drink some water. The man had a pulse, yet Steven had to open his mouth gently to pour in some water.

The plan did not go so well. The man’s eyes closed, he breathed a slight breath. He did not swallow the water. Steven closed the man’s mouth. The man died. Davie and Steven backed away from the corpse as the old man’s flesh flushed pale. The man’s spirit rose from his body, and he beheld the presence of Death. At first his draw dropped, however the old man figured out upon whom he was gazing. Death held out his hand, and the homeless man took his hand.

The boys watched as Death and the ghost of a homeless man walked hand in hand down the railroad tracks towards the moon. Steven wondered why they were not able to save the old man and wished the man swallowed the water. Death turned and spoke over his shoulder, “At least you tried, Steven,” and the two men carried on. There appeared to be a form of a doorway a long ways down the tracks. “Let’s go,” said Davie. “What about the body?” asked Steven. “We’ll tell mom he’s here,” said Davie, and the two made their way back into the dark woods.

Upon entering the apartment their mother was in the kitchen organizing things. “Mom,” said Steven, before she could ask them anything, “We found a dead man down by the train tracks.” Their mother called the authorities. The authorities found the man and asked the children a few questions. The man received a proper burial, was in the obituaries of the town paper.

It was a few days before the boys went back to the tracks to find their astronaut. It took them some time and hiking to get to it; however, with a deal of effort and a smidgen of luck, Davie was able to locate the little man and his parachute in a tree. They brought it back home, made it there before dark. They all ate, cleaned, and read for a while before turning in.

Brief Afterward

This story was inspired from the first part of Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”. If he reads this story, I hope he enjoys it, as I could not resist writing out this idea. I finished reading his book and gave it a review, which can be found on jcm3blog I found his book to be a suitable collection of prose. I would have waited to write this story upon my completion of the book, however the story came to me and I just did not want to put it off or forget it, lest it never exist. We all know of those thousands of ideas we have that may never make it to paper; I usually write the best ones of my mind in a notebook. Learn more about Stephen King on stephenking.com (which the diamond above links to) or by clicking on the double-diamonds below for his wiki page. I enjoyed this story and hope all who read it do, too. Indeed, “Long live the King.”

A Review for Christopher Fielden’s Book on Publishing Stories

Book Review for “How to Write a … Story Get Published and Make Money,

by Christopher Fielden,

Over All Book Review

Introduction

Upon receiving a copy of this book I thankfully turned a few pages of it every night before bedtime. Mr. Fielden describes how to write outside of work as one aspires to pursue writing as a career. He holds an annual story contest online, “To Hull and Back,” and lists many web links within the pages of “How to Write… ” for submitting stories to story contests and literary periodicals for publication.

A wonderful read, there are also many story examples Mr. Fielden includes. With each story example, he explains how the story was published, whether he chose to re-write the story; and why and how revisions were necessary for better success with publication. If you are learning to write stories for publication, this is an excellent book to read. It is also straightforward enough to be able to be read in a relatively small amount of time, as opposed to other books of the same nature that are not as down-to-Earth or as easy to understand. I enjoyed reading this book and hope you do, too.

List of Story Titles

  • “Devil’s Crush,” page 26
  • “The Day My Prayers were Answered,” page 55
  • “Troll’s Head,” page 83
  • “The Treasure No Thief Can Steal,” page 101
  • “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo and the Secret of Whispering Wood,” page 119
  • “Mr. Kill,” page 137
  • “The El Passo Phantom Feeder,” page 155
  • “The Cat, the Bull and the Madman,” page 169
  • “Shot in the Head and Left for Dead,” page 189
  • “The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle,” page 207
  • “Napalm Rising,” page 226
  • “Love is Difficult for Zombies,” page 242
  • “Love of the Dark,” page 245
  • “I am the Warlock,” page 273
  • “Hummingbee Bumblebird Meadow,” page 310
  • “Oleg OG – Cyber Spider,” page 317

Some Thoughts on the Stories

Much to the respect of their author, many of these stories were re-worked into undue perfection. Their quality was enhanced upon their review by other writers, editors, and readers, allowing them to be beneficial examples for use and discussion within the text of Mr. Fielden’s book on writing and publishing stories. I will mention each story and a few thoughts on them, briefly.

“The Devil’s Crush” is the first story in the book and it was an awesome fiction story about a man with no legs and a fire-burning demon. The next story, “The Day My Prayers were Answered,” was about a man in debt, who encountered an Incubus. The story was well written and revised with more than one ending before its final draft and a wonderful story to consider. Every story mentioned within this review was astounding, so I will attempt to not say so in a redundant fashion, even though I enjoyed most of the stories a great deal.

“Trolls Head” was a story about Trolls fighting in an arena much like entertainment in times of Rome. I felt as though more could have been said about the descriptions of the characters during the first of the story, as well as the setting. Such a good idea just seemed to need a few more sentences to further paint the mental images I drew out anyway, in my mind. Some of the characters in this story properly use a limited style of dialogue. I did and did not like the dialogue, however it was well done. I would have also liked a more developed ending, though the conclusion did do a good job of pulling introduced ideas together in efficient summary. All in all the story was a great example of ‘showing’ rather than telling, albeit the idea a cliché obstacle for some.

“The Treasure No Thief Can Steal” was about a man-eating dragon who allowed a female protagonist to live. It was a profound example of a fantasy story. “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo and the Secret of Whispering Wood,” is both a story and a well-written children’s poem. I liked the story so much I re-read it a few times and sang a little song in my head, too… “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo, he flies to save the forest. Smoo Choo, the Magic Moo; he flies to end the forest fires for me and you. Smoo Choo, the Magic Moo, for without him what could we do?” I am sure the poem touches the hearts of all who read it.

“Mr. Kill” is an interesting story that uses what I think of as a ‘looping structure,’ where the story ends with the beginning occurring again. This technique is great, so long as the idea behind the story suffices for its use. Though seemingly complicated, the story was entertaining and thought provocative. It is about a doctor who does not save a worm and becomes a worm. Seemingly boring by the previous statement, the story itself is not.

“The El Passo Phantom Feeder” was a great story about the owner of a bar and his perils on a rainy night with attackers, a pretty young woman, and a man-eating phantom –one of my favorites. “The Cat, the Bull and the Madman” was an excellent story and quit worth the read for those of us who have at some point considered psychology. It was with great skill that this story used ‘imaginery’ characters without explaining why they were there then were not. These notions are covered in the discussion following the story.

“Shot in the Head and Left for Dead,” is a story about a rock and roll singer and includes fantastical beast creatures. As Mr. Fielden knows about rock and roll bands and is a drummer, this story was a good example of how well a story can be done when it is written about something the author knows a great deal of. Plenty of writers advise us to write about what we know about. While true, I usually back up my own ideas with research.

“The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle” is a story well worth its read. If this story was made into a movie, I would be sure to watch it, as plenty of things leave its reader in suspense until its horrifying conclusion. Well done.

“Napalm Rising” is an intense story about a man who interrogates a captive in order to go and rescue his daughter from a dangerous brothel run by armed ex-military criminals. Upon finishing this story, I thought it would be a good idea for the author to write a sequel involving the main character getting caught for his actions when rescuing his daughter. The man could have also been released for reasons due to insanity, as his daughter was in such a tough situation. If a second story is written to follow up with this story in such a manner, I hope it receives publication and that I come across it, somehow.

“Love is Difficult for Zombies” is a story which is only 81 words long. I liked the other stories more, however a story of this nature does take talent and consideration to construct and was well worth its discussion in the book. There exist numerous competitions on the web for stories about 100 words long, and, as with poems, these stories hold their value when they impress their readers (they also hold their value if you win a competition with one).

“Love of the Dark” is an enchanting and story about a woman who escapes a cave with a talking spider. It holds the necessary rules which define a story. It is a pleasant cuddly one.

“I am the Warlock,” was a great example for this book, as its revision was discussed well. I also enjoyed the story itself and the manner in which things occurred. Use of both human characters and those of magical conjuring is impressive, and this story was both fun to read and to consider from a literary, critical point of view.

“Humblebee Bumblebird Meadow,” is a great bedtime story for reading to children and moving, as it paints an emotion invoking sunset. I was near ‘crushed’ with the ending. As powerful as the story was, I wondered if even more description could be added for the sunset scenery.

“Oleg OG Cyber Spider” was a nicely constructed story and a great example. The protagonist suffers a near-death experience, and the story is much like a story within a story. Christopher Fielden is an amazing author, indeed.

Some Notions on Mentioned Techniques

Mr. Fielden includes real advice on useful techniques with getting stories published for payment. He covers such notions as market research, marketing techniques, and conducting the necessary research involved with a specific publication. He even tells us how to communicate with editors or literary publication groups appropriately.

Throughout the text, the author mentions various techniques and how to use them when working with a new story. These techniques and topics, in their near entirety are included in a list as follows:

  • reading, writing practice, market research, story development, story revision for completion, using constructive criticism, story submitting, story publication methods, story marketing, and making money with writing with realistic expectations
  • Christopher Fielden website story contest advice and writing/editing help
  • basic story construction notions
  • writing group advice
  • thoughts on encouragement and finding writing competitions
  • editorial criticism
  • character naming and choice of voice
  • writing advice along with stories
  • subplotting with characters
  • thoughts on the children’s stories market
  • discussion of techniques with proper use of dialogue
  • use of a central character/protagonist
  • use of humor and advice on ending stories well
  • plot twists
  • how to make time for writing
  • submission advice
  • does and don’ts of constructing a beneficial author biography
  • choice of publication opportunities
  • double/multiple publication endeavors
  • advice on healthy living to be productive
  • author website advice and advertising with Google for money
  • links to writing for publication included, including advice for publishing independently
  • entire section attributed by Dr. John Yeoman on winning story competitions

In addition to the links in Mr. Fielden’s book, remember to check out writersdigest.com for many of your needs as an author. The statement is not meant to be an advertisement, but a recommendation for all writers who may or may not have already considered the resources of Writer’s Digest. There, you can find new markets, writing competitions, techniques for writing better, and much more.

Criticism

The stories included, though fun and enjoyable to read, are included for the purpose of learning to publish stories for payment. Some basic notions including literary devices within a simple guideline or discussion of basic story techniques, such as plot, character development, scene development, theme, rising and falling action, climax, narrative hook, and symbol are not covered in an appendix or separate chapter, which I would have liked to have seen. Many literary devices and techniques are discussed within the text, however, which somehow adds to the flow of the book, as mentioned above. Many people who write stories have already learned the reasons to use these various techniques from writing classes or reading, so it is not too big of a deal that some basic notions on writing are not covered in a chapter separate from the rest of the text.

As the book’s purpose is mostly to learn to do better with story contests for publication and payment, the advice Mr. Fielden provides is very beneficial, as it comes entirely from experience. Mr. Fielden resides in the UK, where his writing group is. Many of the links mentioned within his book are United Kingdom based. Some readers in the United States or other countries may have wanted to see more information on the contests outside of the UK, as well as the websites and companies mostly in the US who make publishing stories for payment possible, too. This is not a real major drawback to the book, however, as many of the contests mentioned are online and may not be as impossible to receive publication by as high-volume publications in the US. Google is mentioned, and writers all over the world should not have too much of a problem with publishing via enterprises in the UK.

These things being said, I do recommend the book for anyone who is learning to publish stories or wants some additional hope in regards to writing as a career. The book does contain a uniqueness to it, as Mr. Fielden explains each story and goes into detail about the reasons the stories made it to publication or not, depending on situations. Writing as a career does not come easy for some, and this book uses real world examples of how someone overcame certain challenges to not only to receive publication for payment, but also to share the methods and techniques of doing so with others.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I really enjoyed reading this book. I have plenty of books I am waiting to read, and I simply could not wait to read a few pages of this one every night before bedtime. Some of the stories may not be suitable for children, however they are well-written. As far as how beneficial this book is for people beginning to write and publish stories, it is well worth the time to read it. I enjoyed each story and hope you do, too. Thank you for reading this review; the book can be found here on Amazon, and here on Mr. Fielden’s website.

 

An Excerpt…

Many times, as composers of stories and makers of creative works, we endure a great many ideas throughout the day.  As we siphon through these ideas from time to time, we do not always have the time to put our best notions down on paper or out into electronic availability.  I had an idea for a space exploration prompt, for other people, yet with limited response (due to possible near non-exposure), I wrote out an idea for it.  Here it is – it will possibly be published elsewhere this month or later… 🙂

The Fuselage
   From the glossy windows of a small, outer atmosphere born, multi-engine computerized, ceramic-shelled fuselage, five astronauts documented their observations of Earth with on-board imaging technology and documentation devices safely within their space-born exploration and research vehicle.  The team’s lead scientist’s name was Captain Ron Featherton.  His crew of four researchers’ names were Gill, Luke, Isa (short for Isabelle), and Shawn.  The team’s mission?  To observe, document and digitally characterize Earth’s natural radiation belts, normal global geology and external geomorphology, and to journey safely from Earth’s outer atmosphere within normal return velocities.
   After documenting observations, including storms, stars, and pressure movements, the crew was impressed with their flight-specific gathered data and electronic journals.  Upon storing information into their data systems, it was nearing time to venture home.  Just then, however, the lead monitor of engine systems and on-board life, air, navigation systems Secondary Operations Engineer, Shawn, suddenly exclaimed…
   “Captain, our oxygen supply is decreasing due to an unknown malfunction source!  Should we down the two minor engine thrusts to maintain average support systems?”  “No,” said Captain Ron, “We need to leave them running to maintain minimum necessary travel speed – we will be returning to Earth in moments and should not take the risk.”  A small bubbling patch of perspiration beaded unnoticeably upon Shawn’s brow.  “Eye eye, Cap,” said Shawn has he continued to navigate the average-sized spaceship along its normonic path.
   “This is such a marvelous view of our planet and distant celestial sparkling bodies,” observed Gill in a dreamy frame of mind.  She had worked for most of her career to enjoy one single amazing experience such as this one.  “Of the things I have seen during my lifetime,” commented Luke, “There has been none such as marvelous as this one; never before have I viewed such a spectacular view of Earth and our amazing galaxy.”  “I concur,” said Isa, “I will treasure this moment for a lifetime.”
    As the astronauts continued to maintain normal operations, the spacecraft’s instrumentation panel began beeping and going haywire.  “We are losing vital oxygen fast, Captain!” exclaimed Shawn.  “Down the secondary thrusts and engage back-up systems! We will be lucky to survive!”  commanded Captain Ron.  Isa spoke a short prayer.
   Drifting through space the astronauts wondered if they were a part of a moribund exploration, done-for, bereft.  Oxygen continued to weaken as Captain Ron tried to contact home-command.  Unable to do so, the situation grew more terrible.  Due to lack of sufficient air his team of four fell unconscious.  He somehow did not.  Maintaining system controls, Captain Ron was able to bring the ship to a state of tentative normalcy.
   Therein lied his dilemma:  should he risk losing the lives of his team, utilize the oxygen supply in order to return to Mother Earth alive, chance becoming a known and perceived, detested failure, responsible for the deaths of four renown scientists?  “It is a temptation to disengage the pressure controls and drift hopelessly into the bliss of outer space… to suffer the short-lived torture of suffocation and die,” thought the compassionate space-captain, “No one would ever know.”  He had no family to return to, gave the cowardly notion a pinch of dangerous thought.
   The newly engineered, high-tech space-born fuselage allowed no emergency abort capabilities, proved now, to be a deadly capsule due to its systems’ malfunctions.  As he looked upon his crew in tears, the captain released their air supply.  Captain Ron brought the ship’s systems back to complete and normal operation within moments.  He powered up the main thrusts.  The other four died shortly thereafter.  Captain Ron returned to Planet Earth within normal and safe velocities exceeding an approximate 19,817 mph, presented never-before-gathered radiation belt data, sought counselling.

A Drabble…

The paragraphs below depict a micro-story I wrote for a blog I found recently.  Interestingly enough, it is always fun to include classic literary devices within a ‘word-filtered’ sentence combination.  I enjoyed editing the story; the original was over 300 words, over 200 words of their submission requirement.  My final submission was 98 words.  Due to the differences of the two drafts, I included both of them, here.  By request I will remove the actual submission.
Sam and Sam
Both car doors closed close to the same time.  A teenage school girl named Samantha and her male friend named Sam both exited their parents’ vehicles in front of the local bookstore known for its darkstout coffee.  “How goes it?” she asked.  “Great,” he said.  They went in to order a coffee.  They both liked cold house coffee; it was cheaper than the more extravagant lattes.  “I will take a house coffee on ice,” said Sam, attempting to hand the cashier with crimson red-blonde hair a five. She then heard Sam say, “I will have the same, however I will pay for both.”  She said thank you and Sam handed the cashier a ten.
After receiving their coffees they explored the store.  There were a great many exciting books and periodicals.  They both loved to read and did well in school.  After noticing how much the bestsellers cost, they visited the music section.  Sam and Sam liked most music, however they loved rock and dance the most.  “Check it out!” said Sam, and Samantha ran over to him.  It was a newly released greatest hits live recording by “nin”.
“Let’s put our money together and we can listen to it later,” said Samantha, too excited to wonder about teenage puppy love.  “Okay,” said Sam – their parents would be back anytime.  Their hour was nearing its death.  They made it to the checkout line and it seemed to be keeping the pace of a sprinting post-storm snail.
Samantha gave Sam her five and it was their turn.  There existed a man behind them deep in thought, holding a book titled, “On Living Well”.  The new C.D. was listed for $11.89; the teller said, “Your total is twelve ninety-six.”  “We are short seventy-six cents,” said Sam on accident.  Samantha was confused; the man behind them said, “Keep your money.  I will buy that disc for you.”  “Wow,” said Sam, “What is your name?”  “Atticus.”
Sam and Sam, by J. C. Martin, III
They exited their parents’ vehicles in front of a bookstore known for darkstout coffee.  “Howdy,” she said.  “Hi,” went inside.
Cold house coffee,” requested Samantha, tried paying.  Sam said, “I will have the same,” paid for both.  “Thank you.
They explored.  “Check it out!” exclaimed Sam, seeing a new release by “nin“.  “Let’s listen to it later.”  “Okay.
Their hour dwindled.  Checkout kept the pace of a sprinting poststorm snail.  Samantha gave Sam her five.
A man held a book, “On Well Living”.  “$12.96.”  “We’re short.”  “I’ll buy it.”  “Okay.”  “What is your name?”  “Atticus.