I’m finding it very hard to believe that 2020 is nearly over. I wish I could say I was glad, but really I feel like we have a long road ahead of us still with COVID-19. Oh, I think we’ll recover and life will go back to the way it was (more or less, because for some people there are friends, families, and businesses which are forever gone). In the big picture though, life adapts.
In that spirit, I show you Space 2020-6. Here we are lying in a grassy patch staring up at the stars of this thin nebula and wondering what tomorrow holds. Dream today, bring to reality tomorrow, and keep forging forward.
If you would like to bring this ACEO into your life or as a gift to someone, here are the links:
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.”
One of my favorite things about being a “discovery writer” (that’s someone who doesn’t plot a story out, though I am thinking that some planning would help, but that’s a blog for another day) is finding little bits of story that are gems waiting to be uncovered.
There’s one “gem” though that I’ve been waiting for years to find out what the story behind the story is.
In Quest for the Three Books, I “knew” that the Shant’olin (nasty ghosts who eat souls) were tied to the ruins of Lilinar. I always figured Rivic had had something to do with this. But as I prepare the ending of Walk the Path, sequel to Tangled Magic, I haven’t discovered the answer to how the Shant’olin were contained to the ruins, or even how they got there.
It remains a mystery.
Also, when I was working on all the stories in the Sacred Knight series, I know there is something special about the gates of Lilinar, perhaps that there is something buried beneath them, maybe right inside. The observant reader will notice that the Shant’olin never approach near the gate in Quest for the Three Books. In later books, Steigan often has a strange sensation as he’s walking into Lilinar. Again, I thought I would find out what was going on when I wrote Rivic’s books, since he was the one who built Lilinar. But Walk the Path ends with him just starting the building of Lilinar after he leaves Gohaldinest.
That leaves me with the question of what is going on?
There is another story here. Is there a character I’m missing? A bigger picture? Another story between stories?
Do you want to know the best part?
That means there is more to this story for me to start to discover. And that is my happy spot.
Here’s a little story you might not know about Gohaldinest.
In Quest for the Three Books, I needed a name for a place whose streets were supposedly paved with gold. The line, “The streets are paved with gold, but I seek a richer treasure,” kept going through my head. The streets of where?
So, of course I went about naming this city by doing what I always do: starting with a letter and seeing where it goes from there. As you are probably thinking, the name became Gohaldinest.
The streets of Gohaldinest are paved with gold, but I seek a richer treasure. If you’ve read the Sacred Knight series, then you know this is a line from the oath of a dominus. But Gohaldinest was never meant to be a real city. It was supposed to be an imaginary place, the setting of a fable.
We have cities like this in our own history, those that seem to have been swallowed by time. As our archaeology and technology improves, we realize that sometimes the rubble of one city becomes the foundations for another. Many towns are built from the very stones of the buildings of fallen cities.
This is what happened to Gohaldinest. It literally wasn’t until the third book, To Birth a Destiny, when Steigan is in Dubinshire that he discovers that Gohaldinest is real and that Dubinshire was built from the rock that had once formed the older city.
Now to have walked through Gohaldinest in the shoes of three different characters (Steigan: Quest for the Three Books, Rivic: Tangled Magic & Walk the Path, and Cirvel: Palladium) just for starters is pretty amazing and wondrous. The further back I go into the history of Gohaldinest (since for some reason I have to be writing these books pretty much backwards — it doesn’t quite count since I still need to write books 5 and 6 for Sacred Knight), the more of an amazing place this city becomes.
I sometimes wonder if I was meant to write in order to discover the universe. I really feel it strange that so many things I “knew” as a child and teen are now being backed with quantum science.
Not long ago, I had an idea for my Onesong which I liked but almost discarded as, “Nah, that’ll be too far of a stretch for my readers to believe.” However, the idea refused to leave.
Earlier this week, I watched a documentary (Black Wholes) where the scientist involved in presenting his theory actually said what I had been thinking, yet he didn’t expand on it any further. I wonder if he didn’t for the same reason I didn’t.
Yet now as I write and reflect on what his theory, I realize that he didn’t “go down the rabbit hole” with his thoughts either. When he said it, I jumped out of my chair and started screaming, “Yes, the Onesong! Dimensions!” (That’s why I watch my documentaries when I’m alone.) But he didn’t go there to the same thoughts.
Of course, he didn’t because he can’t prove it scientifically. But I can use it in fiction.
In trusting the process, I know that this build is why I haven’t been able to finish up Tangled Magic, Walk the Path, and Dragons of Wellsdeep. I needed this little extra information gained. Trusting the process includes all the extra information that comes in via synchronicity. I was asking for the pieces that would make it all come together and it is.
Now, if only I could answer the one question I really want to know the answer to. That seems to be the one question that drives me to keep seeking and always takes me down the rabbit holes of possibilities and allows me to realize what I “know.”
Alas, I don’t know if I will ever discover that answer. But, if anything will lead the way for me, it is the Onesong.
The next few weeks are going to have some short chapters. We’re getting down to a section that I haven’t written yet. I know what happens a little further on in the story, but I’m missing the bridging transition. I’d like to have that done before I let you wander down the path into the deeper recesses of this story. This is, as I’ve mentioned before, one of the dangers of running stories that I am currently writing. While it’s exciting to have readers with me on the journey, it’s also precarious. I hope you love the thrills! Of course, that’s why we’re on this adventure together, isn’t it? (grin)
This will also allow for some of you who have gotten behind (AHEM! You know who you are!) to get caught up. (laughing)
Since I’ve been spending all summer telling people about the free fiction here, I thought it might be time to also issue a reminder: this is just a first draft, not the final thing. Text will change. Scenes will be added or removed as the story needs. It is not a completed book.
If you have recently started reading the story, welcome. If you have been reading my free fiction for a while, welcome back. Hugs all around! (grin)
This weekend I will be out at the Thousand Springs Festival of Art. I have a few new pieces I’ve done since Twin Falls Art in the Park, as well as new ACEO’s. I also have a few new magnets. I completely sold out of the magnets I had on hand at FanX. I haven’t even had a chance to show off of talk about the magnets I’ve been painting yet.
Since I haven’t shown any painting for a while, here are a couple of the new magnets I have for Thousand Springs.
The picture of this one was taken after I had varnished it. I forgot to do it beforehand. This one is before being varnished:
I also have replenished my supply of blank note cards and they are now individually wrapped. Who wants to fold and bag 300 new cards? Yeah, that’s what I thought.