Fantasy world building is fun. It is also difficult. There are so many things to consider: cultural differences (their are some regional dialects), technology (about where our world was in the mid-1800s), a monetary system (tokens: 10 coppers = 1 silver; 10 silvers = a gold), and magic. In my Fire Song books, some people have the innate ability to summon elemental magic: Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind. My world does not have is religion. It has nothing to do with the story, so I left it to the readers’ imaginations.
I invented a tree for the second book.
Lools live only in the far northeast of the Four Realms in the Fayazor Realm. (A single other lool exists, but that comes later in the story.)
People historically ignored the lool tree because its wood is incredibly hard, so it is not harvestable. It is almost impervious to fire, insects, and cutting, and is virtually immortal. A century ago, following the Lee-Ath war, a group of people established a community in its lower branches aptly called Treetown. They built platforms (made of wood from other trees) that connect from tree to tree. Since the platforms cannot be nailed to the trunks or branches, they are attached by a system of ropes. The ropes allow for minor movement when the trees sway, thus making them stable. The lower branches have needle-like leaves that, when distilled, make a soporific painkiller, which is the town’s only export and its sole source of income. The townspeople make more than enough to provide for their needs.
The canopy leaves are the size of dinner plates and provide enough shade to keep the ground beneath the trees free of undergrowth. The leaves also move and follow the sun. Since the forest is on the western side of a tall range of mountains, the movement of the leaves allows them to absorb maximum sunlight.
The trees have porous cores in their trunks and branches. Treetowners long ago invented a waste system that utilizes that space. It takes a month with a heated iron bit to drill into a tree. A pipe inserted to the core allows for drainage of gray and black water which the tree utilizes for nutrients. Thus humans have a sewage system, and the trees benefit. The townspeople collect rainwater in cisterns atop their houses which are built snugly against the smooth trunks. The trees also provide water: their cores absorb nutrients from the waste water, thus purifying it and, since they require very little water, they exude the excess via the canopy leaves, which drips into the cisterns.
Have you invented a world? Tell me about it.
In 1958 I lived in the little town of Roy, Montana.
One night a friend was visiting me, and my father decided it was too late for her to walk the three miles home alone. She lived out in the country. The population of the town couldn’t have been more than 500 at the time. In 2010 the population was 108. So out in the country just meant three miles from where I lived.
My father’s Packard bumped along on a road that was two tracks across a stretch of prairie. We dropped my friend at her house and were returning when things got weird.
It was a warm summer night, and the loud hum of grasshoppers filtered through the open car windows. We both saw what looked like an airplane’s lights, but the lights were blue. The blue glow came at us as if it would land. My dad stopped the car. The light grew larger and solidified into a craft that landed about fifty yards from us. My father asked me to get the spotlight.
You should know I was a champion jackrabbit shiner. The DNR paid a bounty on them because they ate the grass that the cattle and sheep needed. One night a month I held the spotlight while my father shot them. I got a cut of what he earned. Occasionally he bagged a coyote, which was worth more. Sometimes I went with him to collect. I remember dozens of rabbit carcasses in the trunk of the car. Not proud today that I participated in such wanton slaughter.
Dad plugged the light into the cigarette lighter, and I turned it on. The light showed a disk-shaped flying craft perhaps fifty feet across parked on my side of the car. Its sides looked like metal but were not shiny. No markings were visible. There were bright areas that looked like windows, although I saw nothing inside, except lights that blinked and twinkled.
Dad ordered me to roll up my window and lock my door. He got out and came around to my side of the car. I held the light on him as he walked toward the craft.
Suddenly an incredibly bright light blasted from the craft silhouetting my father in stark black against the light that seemed brighter than sunlight.
He ran back and jumped in the car and looked scared as I’d never seen him look. The Packard stalled, and the spotlight went out. Then the beam from the craft went out, leaving us in deep darkness.
We sat in stunned silence for a long moment. With a hum deeper than the sound of grasshoppers, the craft rose perhaps a hundred feet in the air, hovered a moment, then streaked away from us at about a ninety-degree angle.
My father was a pilot during WWII. I heard him counting until whatever it was vanished over the horizon. He could tell how fast an airplane overhead was flying, or a car at a distance was moving with unerring accuracy.
“Twenty-five hundred miles an hour.” His voice was shaky. “Nothing goes that fast.”
He called someone at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls to report what we had seen. Later I overheard him tell my mom that whoever he spoke to said it was nothing, and it would be best not to file an official statement.
Are they aliens? Time travelers? Who knows? I just know that what I saw was unexplainable even now and gave me bad dreams for years.
There were many reports of unidentified flying objects in the Montana skies in the 1950s and ‘60s. If you’re interested, here’s a link to a well-known incident.
The Rules of Magic
#1 There are two kinds of Magic: Creation Magic – the Magic of Making – and Old Magic – the Magic of Unmaking. Something made with Creation Magic can only be negated with Making. If the magic of Unmaking is used, a cataclysmic instability can occur. Think antimatter.
When I was little, I believed magic was real, and if I only knew how, I could access it. I thought Candy Land existed in the clouds, and little people lived and died inside the television. When a TV repairman came to our house I was upset because I thought he was removing all the cowboys and Indians that died during TV shows like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and the Lone Ranger.
I’ve outgrown those fantasies and left my belief in real magic behind, but I still believe in the reality of fantasy. How’s that for an oxymoron?
I love contemporary and dark fantasy, but not usually high fantasy. Although, I do really like Jason J. Nugent’s Curse of the Drakku series. I was lucky enough to beta read a couple of them, and then I had to buy one. Check him out.
Gatekeeper, Book 1: Kerrick Malone’s wife is salughtered by otherworldly spider creatures directed by a malevolent entity, Nadra. Kerrick must learn to control real Magic that can open portals to other worlds. He meets Arden McEwan, who, like him, possesses supernatural abilities. Kerrick and Arden must prevent Nadra from unleashing her hideous spider creatures on all the worlds.
In a previous blog post I recounted how the idea for Gatekeeper came from a friend’s dream. In my friend’s dream a woman appears in a lightning bolt. She is riding a horse and is wearing old fashioned clothing and a leather cloak. The horse thunders through driving rain and arrives at a tavern in the middle of nowhere.
My friend wondered if there was a story in this dream image, but she had no idea what any of it meant. I knew exactly what it meant. I knew who the woman was and the whole story behind her appearance. The entire novel flashed into my mind. It was about gateways between worlds and those who could operate them.
“Well,” my friend said, “if you want the idea, you can have it.”
Thus, Gatekeeper was conceived.
I had the story, but not the nitty-gritty, the most important of which was how magic works. I had to invent my own rules of Magic (with a capital M) to conform to my narrative.
Lyriel, a wizard, has come from her world to ours to save her newborn son from the clutches of Nadra, an evil wizard. Lyriel’s actions will have repercussions in both worlds and result in a life or death confrontation.
Chaos, a dark fantasy, the sequel to Gatekeeper, is available on Amazon.
Let me know what you think.
I have published dark fantasy involving giant spider creatures and good and evil Magic, a contemporary fantasy/time travel story set in 10th century Ireland and modern times, and children’s books.
As an independent author I hustle my books wherever I can. I recently took part in an art fair with artists and other authors. There were lots of grandparents in the crowd, and I sold 17 of my children’s books, Meena Mouse’s Perfect Raspberry and Hubert Little’s Great Adventure. It was a successful day.
I keep saying I don’t need any more ideas. I’m currently about to release a dark fantasy called Chaos, sequel to Gatekeeper. You can get a free copy of Gatekeeper for a short while here:
I got the Chaos proofs in the mail a few days ago. You can see by the image there is a glitch in the font, as the O doesn’t show up on the cover. The O doesn’t show on the back or in the interior either. But I love the font and figured out how to fix it. I’m also working on two other novels: a paranormal and an other-world fantasy.
(Technical info: I turned the title into a png file and imported it to the inDesign document. Voila. Problem solved.)
While at the fair I was in an area with other writer friends. I should have known not to join in the conversation about next projects. Someone mentioned companion books, and the discussion turned to perhaps I should do a companion book for Circles in Time, my time travel fantasy. Perhaps a book of magic spells or something like that?The floodgates opened. I now have a completed draft of a personal journal to accompany Circles in Time. It’s called Circles in Time Spell Book: A Personal Journal. It’s a small volume in which to write or doodle ideas and reflections. There are made-up spells, “potions” (some involving alcohol), and quotes from the book. Great fun. There are written and visual prompts. I’d like to think the little journal will encourage readers to find magic in their lives. Here’s the cover and two sample pages.
As if all this isn’t enough to keep me busy, I’m editing a short book for a client, and putting together a video for another client. I also formatted a book of poetry for a friend. The poems tell a raw but sometimes gentle story of abuse. When she publishes it, I’ll post a link.
Even when I’m not writing for myself, I always find ways to keep busy.
Watch for my forthcoming Spell Book. Perhaps you will find your own magic. And check out Circles in Time.
I’m working on three books at the same time. The reason is Chaos, which is finished pending final proofing, has been in the works for ten years and I want to get it out there.
A couple years ago, while searching my computer and backup for all my files on Chaos, I found Fire Song, which I started more than 30 years ago. For those of you in FAW – Flint Area Writers – an early draft was what I read in hopes of becoming a member of FAW. Their Facebook page: FAW on Facebook.
FAW is going strong. They helped me immensely then as they continue to help each other and new members hone their craft.
Someone once told me a good bio should tell things nobody knows about you, so here goes.
When I was nine, I lived in Ismay, Montana. I wrote and illustrated a story my teacher talked me into submitting to the Montana State Fair. I won a blue ribbon!
As an adult, I’ve written two books that haven’t seen the light of day. They were practice. And yet… One of the books began 34 years ago at Flint (Michigan) Area Writers – which was founded in 1947 as Flint Writers Club. I have a complete revised draft that I’m working to publish. Some from the FAW may remember it. It was called Fire Song. I’ve kept the title as nothing else seems better.
The other book, written mostly in longhand before Fire Song, sits in a box in a closet. It’s useless, but some of the ideas in it haunt me. It’s fantasy and deals with time travel and paradox and magic. I keep it because I made a really cool map to go with it.
I have published two children’s book: Meena Mouse’s Perfect Raspberry, and Hubert Little’s Great Adventure.
I also have a time travel fantasy, Circles in Time, that begins with a magic potion gone wrong. I have just revised a collection of dark short stories, Myth, Magic and Monsters. I’ve lowered the Kindle price to $.99 and also have lowered the paperback price. You can get the Kindle version free with the paperback.
With a co-writer, Nancy Tucker, I published a romantic suspense Double Danger.
All my books are available on Amazon.
My creepy dark fantasy, Gatekeeper, will soon have a sequel called Chaos. I’ve been saying soon for two years. For some reason it has taken an inordinate amount of time to whip it into shape. I hope to have it out by January. The story is contemporary and has Magic, other worlds/dimensions, and giant spiders. Everybody knows I’m terrified of spiders. And yet, my friends continue to regale me on Facebook with spider stories and images. I must be somewhat desensitized, as I can at look at them, despite wanting to take a flame thrower to them. I’ve even made creepy animated covers and teasers for the new book. With spiders! You can get Gatekeeper free at InstaFreebie.com. You can download for Nook, Kindle or a pdf.
You can keep up to date on my Facebook page: Trilby-Plants
This morning before I leave for knitting I drop two Eggo waffles – my usual quick breakfast – into the toaster. I do not like pancakes or waffles, but I love the “chocolatey” chip Eggos (which I realize aren’t real chocolate). I only like them toasted crispy so they’re not the least bit soggy inside.
My mind registers an old Tupperware container beside the toaster. On top of the container sits a bag of granulated Splenda I recently bought. Ken uses it to sweeten his homemade iced tea.
A thought comes to me: I should move that bag so it doesn’t fall on the toaster. If it hits the button on top, it could turn on the toaster. The bag and the Splenda inside will melt, and, as my granddaughter once said regarding bringing her beloved stuffed zebra, Beeyah, into the bathroom: “That’s a recipe for disaster.”
I have a clear image of the bag on top of the toaster falling. The same sense you get when you see something you’re carrying – like a full can of Pepsi – fall, and you know it will happen, and you’d like to stop it, but you’re powerless to prevent it.
I file the image under “when I get home I’ll fill the container.”
I totally forget about it. I eat my breakfast and go to knitting. Knitting is group therapy for those of us who indulge in the needle arts. Besides socks and scarves for gifts, I’ve recently done some lace knitting with fine yarn. Following a difficult pattern is not easy while talking to a group of people, but they’re supportive of each other, and I enjoy the camaraderie.
Today our house cleaners are scheduled to come, so I knit and visit and chill.
An aside: we recently changed cleaners because our former company was not doing a very good job. The new group has only been here once before and did a great job cleaning and dusting and changing our bed – which is a chore for two people with bad backs.
When I walk in, I smell something funky. Not the fresh odor of whatever magic cleaning compounds the crew uses, but something that smells burned.
Ken says, “Get a Pepsi and sit down.”
On my way to the fridge I see our toaster sitting on a towel on the counter. There is something decidedly yucky burned on the top of it. I’m hit by a strong odor of melted plastic.
Ken tells me the cleaning company owner left us a voicemail regarding the toaster incident. Anytime someone uses the word incident, you know that means trouble.
He says, “It’s not bad news. It could be worse.”
I pop the top on a diet Pepsi and sit.
Ken tells me the cleaning company will cover any damage, although there doesn’t appear to be any, and they’ll replace the toaster. The women who cleaned left our check, and the message informs us if a replacement toaster costs more, that will be covered.
“Where’s the bag of Splenda?” I ask.
He looks puzzled. “I have no idea.”
“It was on top of the container beside the toaster.”
Understanding lights his face, and I’m sure mine reflects the same look.
I get our really bright flashlight and peer into the blackened interior of the toaster. I see the melted remains of Splenda and also yellow plastic inside and on the top. Splenda comes in yellow plastic bags.
I listen to the voicemail.
As the cleaning team was finishing up, one of them noticed flames coming from the toaster. They managed to unplug it and douse it with water since they didn’t find a container of salt or baking soda handy. Fortunately, there is no other damage.
I really liked that toaster. It was a Breville, all electronic, and it toasted everything to perfection. It had history. Before our son Todd, and his future wife were married, we spent Thanksgiving in Vermont with Tracy’s family. The Coogans generously invited us, and we had a wonderful time. They had a four slice Breville toaster that was awesome.
After our wedding gift toaster gave up the ghost after almost forty years, we’d gone through three or four toasters that only lasted a year or two.
When we got home, we bought a Breville two-slice toaster. It was fabulous.
A while later the two women who had cleaned knock at the door. They hand me a large bag of Splenda and apologize profusely. Both had stressed out about our being angry. Ken and I were about to call the owner of the company and tell her we’ll pay for the cleaning and not to worry about the toaster.
We insist the cleaning crew take the check and assure them that stuff happens.
Then I remember what happened earlier. My vision of the Splenda falling on top of the toaster.
Bad memory on my part that I forgot to move the bag.
The moral of the story:
Toasters with controls on the top are not a good idea.
A new one will arrive tomorrow from Amazon.
How did the bag fall onto the toaster? Only the toaster knows for sure.
Do not get this book if you’re afraid of spiders!
Sometimes authors give away books just for the fun of it. And, of course, to such you into buying the next one. Click on the cover image to snag your free copy.
What happens after the evil spider creature, who was once human, is defeated? Read the sequel, Chaos.
I’m weeks away from releasing it. There will soon be an updated first chapter for free!
Welcome to the world of Chaos, nightmares and spiders
For all of you to whom I have promised a sequel to my scary giant spider novel, Gatekeeper. I’m three chapters from the end of Chaos–which are written, but need revision. Then I’ll do another draft and get it out to a few readers who’ll give me some feedback. It should be ready to publish by September. I’ll give away a few copies of Gatekeeper to those who would like to do a read-through of Chaos, just to let me know if the story hands together.
This is what has taken so long: what began as a 60K word novel is now almost 100K. It’s a darker story than Gatekeeper, because my villain, Nadra, has evolved in her quest for power, and has devolved into a hideous creature, devoured by the evil Magic. Revenge has consumed her thoughts since she was exiled to the Dark World.
A wizard woman confronts a powerful entity bent on subjugating humanity–knowing she cannot emerge triumphant.
ARDEN McEWAN, a wizard, has spent almost four years in another world training to use Magic. She arrives on Earth to save friends from a deadly, supernatural threat. Arden averts one disaster only to find she has put her friends and their little girl in mortal danger—danger worse than death. She must face NADRA, a powerful wizard who is no longer human.
Nadra was once a Gatekeeper like Arden and her twin brother, Kerrick. Gatekeepers open the doorways between the worlds and shepherd travelers from place to place. But Nadra succumbed to the glamor of the Old Magic–the Magic of unmaking–evil magic that corrupts and destroys. Although Nadra was banished to the Dark World, she has mastered the evil Magic and is using it to rip through the Gates and take over all the worlds.
The Dark World is populated by creatures who prey on each other to survive. The most dangerous of these are large spider-like animals led by an Old One. They are masterful predators. Their only way to reproduce is to create an Old One. They inject hormones into a human’s brain. Then, encased in a cocoon, the human metamorphoses into an Old One, capable of mating with another Old One.
Tricked into becoming an Old One by Arden and Kerrick, Nadra retains her memories and her magic and is growing more powerful. She is breaking down the Gates, and they are releasing elemental magic into our world that causes a spate of random unmaking: the bones of deer dissolve; an aircraft with an engine deconstructed to its raw components crashes. And people turned to Old Ones are food for Nadra’s horde.
Nadra is focused on revenge against Arden for her duplicity in her banishment. As a creature of the Dark World, Nadra cannot live in sunlight. But if she can replicate herself in a human host, she can live again and accomplish her goal: ruling the worlds. She opens the Earth Gate, and, protected by her spider-creature army, implants her eggs in several women. Each attempt fails gruesomely, but Arden discovers Nadra is learning how to make her mad scheme work. Soon an egg–or a piece of Nadra–will grow and successfully become a duplicate of Nadra, able to live in sunlight, able to control the Dark World monsters.
Nadra’s lust for power drives her to rule all the worlds accessible by the Gates. Arden must remove the entrance to the Dark World, but knows that unmaking it will cause all the Gates to collapse, thus releasing Nadra and hordes of ravenous creatures that will destroy humankind. Arden must use the magic of making to lock the Gate, but something prevents her.
Time is running out. At the instant of the summer Solstice, when the energies of the universe are balanced, the Gates will be weakest. Nadra will tear them down and plunge all the worlds into chaos. Arden finds herself in a war with Nadra that will determine the fate of humanity.
Alone, without the power of her brother and his Key, Arden’s only allies are a man with untested powers and a child.