Still shaking in my knees

This is a hard blog post for me to write.

Worse, I don’t know why.

Doesn’t matter though. This is still a post I’ve been avoiding to write.

90 Seconds to Courage is now available on Amazon.

Read on Kindle Unlimited

Even though it is out to the world, I still have major trepidations about it and I don’t know why.

I keep asking myself: will it help anyone? Will anyone have positive changes in their life because I took the step forward to put this out? Is it worthy? Is it too broad? Will anyone care?

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Progress bar updates

That nifty little progress bar which I added a couple weeks ago has been updated with new items.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

It always seems like it is when I wake up in the morning that I have really good ideas. I do think a section of my brain just works on things all night long and gives me really strange dreams to keep the rest of my brain entertained.

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Deep Space Omega #4

A quick note about my free fiction: this is raw draft with little editing. I don’t know where the story is going, or if it’ll even get completed on the blog. But it’s fun to do.

The clips from this story stay up for a limited time and then they will turn back into a pumpkin. Those available at the time I’m writing this are:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Let’s proceed, shall we?

Deep Space Omega (#4)

by Dawn Blair

“How many people are here now?” Jadz thought this might be a good time to change the subject.

“The station is meant to be run with minimal crew since it would be mostly astronomers. There’s usually one United officer here, and they generally sleep a lot, along with a communications person to help run things. Right now, we’ve got seven astronomers, me, and you.”

“Does that make you the communications officer?”

“You got it. See how I did that? I communicated my position to you without actually telling you in words.” She wiggled her eyebrows and grinned. “I’m good.”

“I see that.” Jadz took a moment to enjoy the revelry of a new friend before putting her hands on her hips trying to take the same commanding stance her father had for many years. “But I don’t want my story being communicated to all the astronomers here.”

Mouse overlapped her hands on her heart and fell backwards on the bed. “Oh, you wound me!”

“I’d rather have them keep their eyes on the stars rather than me.”

“Oh, see? You’re sharp. Yeah, you’re going to do just fine here.” Mouse sat up, then stood. “Well, I guess there’s nothing left for me to do here. I’m sure you want to unpack, settle in, and explore the three centimeters of space we have here. Don’t worry, I think I can find my way out.”

Jadz watched Mouse as she started to leave and found herself wishing the other woman wouldn’t leave. It was nice to have someone to talk to. “Hey, Mouse, he was a commander.”

Mouse opened the door before turning. “See? I knew it. You’ll tell me more. I’m good at communicating.”

After Mouse had stepped backwards out into the corridor and shut the door, Jadz found herself smiling. This place might be at the end of the universe, but it was exactly where she needed to be.

Deep Space Omega – copyright ©2020 Dawn Blair * Published by Morning Sky Studios

Space is a large place
By the Numbers
Space Ninjas Aren’t Real

Thoughts on Witch Week

A short while ago, I finished reading this combo book which had The Magicians of Capona and Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones. I had purchased the audio of Magicians of Caprona and tried to listen to it on a trip, but I had to stop because after awhile, all the Italian names started to blend together and nearly put me to sleep on the road. I had to stop listening. I was afraid that reading the book would be as monotonous and I avoided it for a couple of years. But, I am such a Diana Wynne Jones fan that I just had to have another book to read.

Magicians of Caprona wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t what I was expecting either. In the end, I was really just kind of “meh” about it.

At least it didn’t take long as Castle in the Air.

I was ready to move onto Witch Week.

I’m going to start by saying that I really dislike it when writers hop from one character’s head to another. Witch Week continuously changes which character’s point of view we are seeing the story from. At first, it really bugged me because I didn’t see a point in it. Then I started to get into the swing of it and it wasn’t bad. When I started reading the next book in the series, Conrad’s Fate, I developed a theory that maybe she was doing all this on purpose in order to practice as a writer. Witch Week and Conrad’s Fate are two different points of view all together, Witch Week being third person omnipotent and Conrad’s Fate being first person. I really think now that she was trying to see if “head hopping” could be done effectively. I have seen so many authors claim that their head-hopping shifts were actually the omnipotent point of view, to which I scoff because it isn’t. It is merely a book told from two, three, or four character’s points of view. Witch Week is true omnipotent.

It’s taking me sitting here writing out some of my thoughts to really reflect on the story and what a truly amazing job she did with this. I will have to go back to it again and study this more. I might have to claim that this is the first time I’ve seen true omnipotent point of view done well.

Watch out. The last time I saw a writer attempt something I felt was outlandish (first person, present tense), I ended up writing the Loki series because I wanted to try my hand at it. That was because of Susan Ee’s Angelfall. #AffiliateLinks

In finishing Witch Week, I discovered what Magicians of Caprona was missing and it had to do with the ending. in Magicians of Caprona, the characters of the story, I feel, do very little to save the day. I won’t spoil it, and maybe I was reading fast to get through the story, but I just don’t feel like it had a satisfactory ending. Witch Week on the other hand, was ended by the main characters of the story realizing what needed to happen and carrying it out.

Overall, I’d say that both stories are worth the read. Okay, so far the whole Chrestomanci series is worth the read.

Just a reminder that some of my links may be affiliate links, meaning that if you click on them and then go shopping (even if its for more than the item you that took you to the store), I may be rewarded with some small compensation- like a tip. This doesn’t effect your price, but is paid for by the store you’re shopping on. And if you do use my affiliate links, thank you. I appreciate your support.

Deep Space Omega #3

A quick note about my free fiction: this is raw draft with little editing. I don’t know where the story is going, or if it’ll even get completed on the blog. But it’s fun to do.

The clips from this story stay up for a limited time and then they will turn back into a pumpkin.

Let’s proceed, shall we?

Deep Space Omega (#3)

by Dawn Blair

Pulling her legs up to sit cross-legged, Mouse settled in to be more at home here than Jadz felt she was doing in trying to put her scant belongings away. It didn’t help that she had an observer.

“So, tell me about that last boyfriend, the one you’re running from.”

“I’m not running,” Jadz lied. “Look, my mom always had two pieces of advice for me: don’t pick in high school, and don’t pick on a starship. She said both ponds of choices were far too small to find true love in considering how vast the universe was.”

“And I take it that you didn’t listen.”

“No, I wish I had though.”

“So who’d you pick in high school?” Mouse leaned forward with a wide, eager grin on her face.

“Tsk, no one. I’d been with most of those kids since elementary school, preschool days for some. My parents never got transferred. I remember watching some of my classmates eat paste or Tersilian worms, and not always separately.”

Mouse blenched, her face pulling like she might vomit at the thought.

“Let’s not forget the huffing of scented markers. There was this one kid, Lalmin… he stuck two, one in each nostril, up his nose and kept them there until he passed out. I was one of the lucky ones that got to help roll him to the infirmary. Yeah, not the people I wanted to date. I knew way too much.”

Mouse shook her head, but it was in total agreeance with what Jadz was saying. In that moment, Jadz decided she liked Mouse, even if the girl was a bit inquisitive.

“That brings us to,” Mouse said, holding onto her legs and rocking slightly back and forth, “who you picked on the starship, if you didn’t pick in high school.”

“Yeah, that doesn’t matter. He was just a guy.” Jadz shrugged.

Just a guy doesn’t send you fleeing all the way out here. No, you had to get away. Was this before your first transfer, or why you left your second posting?”

“First,” Jadz said, not really sure why she was answering these questions at all. Did she really want to talk about it?

“So what was his name?”

Jadz sighed. “Yeah, I really don’t want to talk about him.”

“Hmmm, ranking officer, huh?”

Jadz wasn’t thrilled that Mouse could obviously read the situation like a book. Did she have mind reading powers or maybe it was in Jadz file.

Mouse laughed. “This is a small space startion, but if you think your story of unique, think again. That lug who was just in here, I’m married to him. I’d rather be out exploring space, but what can I say? I do have a thing for astronomers. He loves it out here. Most people don’t stay long; they get cabin fever. I’ve met a lot of people and heard a lot of stories. In the universe over, love messes people up.”

Deep Space Omega – copyright ©2020 Dawn Blair * Published by Morning Sky Studios

Get your copy!

How much longer?

One question I am frequently asked is: How much longer until such-and-such book is out?

That’s always a hard question to answer.

However, in my roaming this week I discovered progress bars on another author’s website in regards to where the books were at. My first question was, “How did he do that?” immediately after thinking, “Well, that’s bloody awesome!” My answer came up fast with a Google search. How did I ever live without Google?

Then, it was a matter of changing a few things to get it to adapt to my blog, but BOOM! Now you have a progress bar off the right.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

You should see it there near the top. So, if you are ever in doubt of where a certain book is, check here. If you don’t see the one you’re looking for, drop me a line and I will add it. For right now, I’ve only included the ones I think are what most people are waiting for.

Where did I find this cool information so that you don’t have to go looking for it later? (This is also a reminder for myself so I know!)

Code for progress bar: https://jabrambarneck.com/2014/04/02/how-to-add-a-progress-bar-to-your-blog/

Color picker: https://htmlcolorcodes.com/color-picker/

I hope you enjoy watching the progress changes for your favorite books/series in the future. I know it will inspire me to keep working on them so I can change the bars (except maybe for those times when I’ve gone from writing (where I’ve reached 100%) to editing (starting over at 0%), but that is the nature of the beast.

Let’s get to that progress! I’m off to write now.

Into the enchanted forest

I am often asked if Brightening is still available for sale. No, it is not. Sorry. It was sold many years ago, but you can still get prints by clicking the link above.

The next question I get asked is if I could paint another one.

Not likely. I find it very hard to copy my own work. It never works out well and usually ends up in frustration. Not that I don’t have “sister pieces” and “spin-offs” of my work occasionally, but it’s not something I usually do on purpose.

Let’s face it, I often paint like I write — clueless, in the dark, and with no idea of the outcome. It really is a bad habit, especially with painting. I keep hoping that some day I will actually come to a point where I can plan a painting. For the moment, don’t ask me how to do that because I have no bloody idea and not for lack of searching for an answer that works for me. Oh, there’s people who will talk about composition and thumbnails and such like that. There’s Mikki Senkarik whose work I follow because she walks through the whole painting process and has great tips, but I just can’t. It feels like plotting to me and I’m afraid that it would ruin the energy of the piece. David Limrite told me earlier this year that I just needed to start treating my canvas like my sketchbook and he is right. While he and his partner, Jordan, were able to get me painting more, I just have yet to actually sit down at a canvas and start scribbling like I do in my sketchbook.

I admit that I have frustrations that I don’t have with my writing (any more). If I look back, then yes I can see similarities with what I use to go through with my writing. I know it’s part of reaching a new level of mastery and that these steps must be gone through. I know this!

I frustrate myself, feeling myself getting older and not getting any closer to the things I desire in this life.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How long must the old dog lie on the nail before the pain gets so intense that it moves? I ask myself this question often.

Okay, well this is going down a rabbit hole I didn’t expect. But maybe it is part of my walk into the enchanted forest. I can’t let the magic help me if I don’t tell the spell what I want it to perform.

Interesting. I often ask people what story my paintings tell them, but I haven’t done this sort of exploration for myself.

While I will leave myself to think on that, let’s found back to the original intent of this post.

As I was saying before my diatribe, because of how I paint, it makes each one unique. One has finally been produced that is similar to to Brightening.

It is called, “Enchanted Forest.”

I know, you’re shocked.

Enchanted Forest
8″x10″ acrylic on canvas board
© 2020 Dawn Blair

I love the little mudslide across the path. A great little obstacle to encounter. I think some dwarf was mining and chucking all the dirt up in a mound. With the area so lush, it must get a lot of rain. That made the mud slide down.

If you want to own this piece for yourself, you can get it now on Etsy. Warning though: once it’s sold, it’s gone.

Deep Space Omega #2

A quick note about my free fiction: this is raw draft with little editing. I don’t know where the story is going, or if it’ll even get completed on the blog. But it’s fun to do.

The clips from this story stay up for a limited time and then they will turn back into a pumpkin.

Let’s proceed, shall we?

Deep Space Omega (#2)

by Dawn Blair

The quarters were like most Jadz had seen before: bed, table, desk and chair. Except this room had something different. There was a man inside, seated at the desk. His cheeks flushed red as he dropped the tablet he’d been holding and stood up. He saluted. “Sorry… ma’am. I should have been done before you arrived. I only learned you were coming in early a few moments ago.”

Jadz watched him look for insignia on her collar, knowing he’d find none. “It’s fine, lieutenant. I’m a civilian, so I’m just happy to have United issued equipment.”

An expressive look of relief went through his face and he gave a genuine smile. “Let me know when you’re settled in and I’ll come back and finish.” He scooted around toward the door and left.

“That’s right. You don’t want to stay in my presence,” Mouse said, waving toward the closed door. “I’ve only been on him for a week to get your computer and accounts all set up. I don’t think he really believed anyone was coming until we got the inbound flight manifest. Well, here you are. Home, sweet home.”

Mouse sat down on Jadz bed as if to wait while Jadz unpacked. “Your record said this is your third transfer in less than two years.”

Jadz bit down on the inside of her lip, wondering if she’d been a topic for conversation and scrutiny before even arriving. At length, she responded, “Yeah.” No point in denying it.

“Didn’t have any red flags in your file, or signs that you’re disruptive and need to be sent away from the human population. Way I see it, you either are running from your last boyfriend or you really have a thing for astronomers. You wouldn’t come out to the Big O if it weren’t one of those reasons.”

“Big O?”

Mouse held up her arms to indicate everything around them. “This place, the DSO.”

“Ah, Deep Space Observatory.”

Mouse laughed, clearly mocking Jadz. “No. Deep Space Omega. That’s what we call the O around here. You are at the last spot in the world, no, the universe. Nobody comes out this far. Nobody. Heck, we once had space raiders try to overtake the station. They came aboard to take us over and they hightailed it out of here leaving us with supplies.” She scoffed again. “Imagine that, feeling so sorry for the people you just tried to raid that you take pity on them.”

Deep Space Omega – copyright ©2020 Dawn Blair * Published by Morning Sky Studios

Get your copy now!

Test your knowledge

There’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but I got around to it. That is building puzzles for my books.

Okay, maybe some backstory is needed here.

My mom often told stories about how I would do word searches before I could even read. Sure, why not? Let’s face it: letters are nothing but visual pictures. You don’t need the sound attached to understand that “BEACH” is one type of visual picture that you match to “BEACH” in a word search.

I enjoy doing the puzzles where you compare pictures and look for the differences. Or finding hidden things in images.

Now, I admit that I am not the biggest fan of crossword puzzles, but I use to design them by hand on graph paper. Creating them was so much more fun than solving. I also made several word searches. Today, our world makes it even easier. I love technology!

Anyway, I designed a quick puzzle for Quest for the Three Books. I’m excited to see how this works.

If you want to try the puzzle online, click here. I tried this on my phone and it worked very nicely. I was impressed.

If you want to download a PDF of the puzzle to print and complete (or write on the PDF), then click here.

Please let me know if you enjoyed this. If the response is positive, I’m likely to create more.

Enjoy!

Before Sacred Knight was

I have been living with the main character of my Sacred Knight story, Steigan, in my head since 1994. People laugh when I tell them I have a tote full of notes and drafts which weighs 41 pounds! What they don’t realize is that there’s hardly a notebook or scrap of paper in my house that doesn’t have some sort of note in or on it that has some reference to my Sacred Knight series. Seriously, it’s everywhere!

I am pretty much use to it, though I do have the moments of frustration when I’m looking for notes on another story and only find things for Sacred Knight.

Recently, the point of how long I have lived with story really got driven home!

This is a span of 26 years I’ve been working on this story. Not so much for the surrounding stories, like Tangled Magic, thank goodness. I’m merely talking about the Sacred Knight portion, Steigan’s story. 26 years.

A couple weeks ago, my youngest son (who is in his early 20’s) and I were looking for the draft of one of my children’s stories. We found a bunch of diskettes where the story could be stored as well as papers.

When I started digging into the papers and searching the files on the old diskettes, I kept running into more of my Sacred Knight story. Old manuscripts which I thought were all contained in my tote. That’s when I really started realizing how long I’ve worked on this story.

I’m sure I mentioned before that this story has gone through several incarnations too. It started off as a fantasy romance, then took a tailspin and became a young adult book, then a comic, and finally landed as the epic fantasy it is today. When it was a romance, the title was Some Kind of Kiss. I had completely forgotten about that until I ran into a file on the disk that was labeled “Steigan.” Then I laughed and realized that’s how the “SK” came about which I eventually started thinking about as “Sacred Knight.”

One of those weird and wonderful ways that life works.

In one file, I found the original name I had for Lucinia. If you’ve read Quest for the Three Books, then you are familiar with the woman who “adopted” Steigan and her bustling, mothering fashion. Originally, she wasn’t his adoptive mother, but merely the wife of the owner of the inn.

I thought it might be fun to pull out an old scene I wrote which has Lucinia’s original name on it. I didn’t remember this scene, but I do recall a later time where I where I was trying to think of the wife’s name and couldn’t. I threw in the placeholder name of Lucy until I could find the name. Then I was developing the backstory between Lucy and Arlyn and it was Arlyn who kept calling her Lucinia. A quick search and replace later, all the Lucy’s were changed to Lucinia.

Now that I’ve found the original name, I really like the fact that my brain rejected it so hard I forgot it (grin).

I do remember writing this scene though and it’s fun to see the things that stayed, or how they shifted positions (like Dragzel, who I had forgotten was initially Steigan’s pet. Did you know that Ellis was originally LS which stood for Little Steigan and that is why Ellis now has Dragzel? Fun trivia.)

If you’re interested, take a peek now.

The Room Above the Inn

(Excerpt from an old draft of Sacred Knight)

By Dawn Blair

Before Steigan opened the door, it was flung open and a robust woman bustled in.  She walked right into him and, though Steigan tried to grab her, fell backwards.

“Oh, my!”  She stood up, brushed herself off, and pulled brown hair fallen from her bun out of her face.  “I’m awfully sorry.  My, what a hard chest you have.”  She knocked her hand against his metal breastplate before he could stop her.  “Oh, my.”

“Are you okay?”

“My, do you have armor under there?”  She reached for his cloak.

Steigan stepped away from her.  “Please, ma’am.  If you’re all right, I should be on my way now.”  He looked around to see how many people in the tavern room were watching them.  This was drawing more attention to him than he liked.

He caught a whiff of stew and his stomach began to growl.

“Oh, my.  A growing boy.  Don’t tell me Sim let you go away hungry.  Let me guess.  ‘No money, no service.’”  She pursed her lips.  “Come on now.  We’ll take care of that.”

Steigan wanted to pull away and scream.  He did neither, not with his head starting to feel so light and his stomach filled with only hunger.  “I just came in to talk to Sim.”

She dragged him into the kitchen, where she spun around to face him.  She placed her hand on the countertop where several knives hung within her reach.  “You.  I know you.”

“Please just let me leave.”  Steigan tried to step back, but the woman refused to let him get more than an arm’s length away.  “This whole thing’s been one big misunderstanding.”

“Shh!”  She swayed from foot to foot, at first keeping her hands near her face.  Then, she reached out to push the cloak back.  Her fingers touched the blue and gold armor, then she lay her whole hand against it.

“Really, I should be going.”

“I know.”  She pointed a finger towards him.  “I had a dream about you.  That’s it.”  She stretched to the tips of her toes and clasped her hands together.  “I remember now.”

Steigan pulled the cloak back around him.  “I’m sorry, ma’am.  I have to be going.”

She grabbed his arm.  Her short nails scratched him.  “You can’t.  I have to help you.  I will help you.”

The woman reached for a muffin and slathered it in butter before handing it to Steigan.  “You must be starving.”

Once Steigan took the muffin from her, she puttered around the kitchen gathering more food in a trencher.  “My name is Larcina.  I’m Sim’s wife.  Do you remember your name?”

Steigan swallowed the bite.  “Remember?”

“Yes, remember.  There hasn’t been a dominus in the north for over five hundred years.  Certainly you’ve been awaken.  In my dream, you’d been laid to sleep by Saint Steigan and told to wake when the time was right.”  Larcina picked out some chunks of meat from the stew and put them on the floor.  She pointed at Dragzel.  “For your creature.”

Steigan took Dragzel off his shoulder and placed him on the floor before taking the trencher.  “Blessings to you.”  He nodded.  “My name is Steigan.  I am from the south.  I live in New Lilinar.”  Lived came to him as an afterthought.  It was hard getting use to the destruction of New Lilinar since for him it had happened only today.  By the goddess, what was he doing here?  Why had he ever wanted adventure?

Larcina went to stir the stew pot.  “If you are willing to work, I am certain I can convince Sim to let you stay with us as long as you need to.  You aren’t afraid of a little hard work, are you?”

“No, ma’am.  But why are you doing this?  Why are you so willing to help me?”

“Good.  For your work, you will receive room and board.  I can’t offer you one of our inn rooms because we must always keep some open in case the Holy Reverend comes traveling through, but I can give you the upstairs loft.  I think you will find it to your advantage as long as you keep quiet.”

“Why?  Why are you doing this?” he repeated.

Larcina lit a candle.  The first thing we must do is hide your armor.”  She kicked aside a rug covering a trapdoor in the floor.  “If you’ll just pull that ring…”

The door was heavy and if something was pushed over it, it would be impossible to open from the inside.  Finally it rose and fell back on the hinges.  Steigan took a candle and tried to look inside.  “A storage cellar?”

“A good place for you to keep your armor hidden.  Sim has problems bringing up barrels from down there and if you could oblige us by getting the barrels, he’d have no reason for going down there.  You armor would never been seen.”

Steigan started down the steps.  Blackness quickly encroached and even the candle he carried wasn’t helpful.  A light dusting of cobwebs brushed against his face once he was completely under the floor level.  He rubbed then away with his hand and continued on.

“While you’re down there, why don’t you get a barrel of strickleberry ale?” Larcina called down.

The musty basement had a dirt floor and walls.  Barrels were stacked against two of those walls and on a third were shelves that looked to hold canned vegetables and fruit.

Steigan unfastened his cloak and draped it over the barrels.  He began removing pieces of his armor and stacking them on barrels to keep them off the floor.  He’d be down here polishing the pieces ever day, he thought, to keep the rust away.

Once out of the armor, he grabbed a barrel and relized there was no way he could carry it out unless he put the candle down.  Reluctantly, Steigan set the candle on a shelve.  Balancing the barrel on his shoulder, he looked towards the top of the steep stairs.

From above, an angry voice boomed, “He is not staying, Larcina.  He’s a vagabond.  Fates, woman, you can’t take in every stray that comes knocking at the door.”  Steigan knew instantly it was Sim’s voice he heard.

Neither Sim nor Larcina was in view, but through the cracks in the rough floorboards, he could see shadows of where they stood.  Steigan half expected the trapdoor to be slammed shut at any moment.

“You’re letting your imagination run away with you,” Steigan whispered to himself.  “What are they going to do, lock you in here?”  Even trying to laugh it off as a ridiculous idea, he couldn’t get past the seriousness of it.

As Steigan emerged with the barrel, he saw Larcina standing with her hands folded against her chest.  She was biting her lip and glaring at Sim.  They both paused to glance towards Steigan.  He set the barrel down.  “I have to go back for the candle,” Steigan explained, pointing toward the cellar.

“Actually, we need another barrel brought up,” Larcina said.  “The Holy Reverend is coming in tonight.  Do you mind?”

Steigan looked toward Sim.  “No, not at all.”  Steigan started back down the stairs.

“This isn’t a good time to take in strangers, Larcina.  First he shows up and now news of the Holy Reverend coming.  I don’t like it.  Something’s going on.” Sim said.

“He’s only a boy.  He’ll cause no harm and I doubt he’s caused injury to another.”

There was silence again as Steigan brought up the second barrel then returned for the candle.  He closed the trapdoor and secretly breathed a sigh of relief to be out of there.

“I have to go check on the rooms.”  Sim turned on his heel and left.

Larcina turned back to her countertop where she had several balls of dough sitting on a heavy covering of flour.  Diced vegetables were stacked in neat piles and little spice tins were scattered about.

Steigan leaned against the counter.  “I take it this is not a normal trip for the Holy Reverend.”

She pounded one of the dough balls.  Flour exploded, dusting all of her tins.  “This isn’t a Traveler’s Moon.  It’s too dangerous.  Besides, this isn’t really a good time.”

The Room Above the Inn – copyright ©2020 Dawn Blair * Published by Morning Sky Studios

Start reading the official book now!