Gohaldinest – the ancient city

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 am so glad this city is mine to write about.

The death of romance

Yesterday I mentioned that there is a part of me that misses writing romance. I told you that today I would tell you why.

It has to do with something my mother told me.

It was during this one summer when I was about 14 or so. I’d found out about a contest for teen authors. Back then, no one wanted anything written by a kid, so I was always striving to make myself as professional as I could so publishers wouldn’t know I was just a kid. But when I saw this contest, I knew I had to go for it.

I had two months before the deadline. I accomplished about 80 pages in that time. Handwritten. Realizing I had only three days left before I had to mail the story and it still needed typed in proper manuscript format, I spent an entire night awake trying to finish this story. I wrote 40 pages overnight.

The next day, I enlisted my mother’s help to type the manuscript. She often helped my dad as his secretary and she’d had typing classes in school. I hadn’t gotten there, so I was a very slow typist at that time. I knew if I had to do it by myself, I wouldn’t get it in the mail soon enough. So I begged her to help me.

Sometime in the early afternoon, she got up to take a break. I was still typing away. She came to stand by me and her hand set gently on the page that I was typing up. I remember that she didn’t look at me right away. I stopped typing. She said to me, “You know, for someone that has never had a real relationship, you write very well about them.” Then she continued on into the kitchen to get her lemon lime soda pop.

I realized then that she wasn’t only typing my manuscript for me; she was reading it too.

I didn’t win the contest, but considering the length of time it took for me to get a response, I’ve always liked to think that I might have been among the finalists. It didn’t really matter though. My mother had given me a supreme compliment.

After that, she was always telling me that I needed to go write for soap operas. I very nearly did. Until I got dumb and found romance. Then I lifted that cover and saw that the romance of storybooks does not exist. Fortunately, I had good friends who saw that I was writing fantasy cake with romance icing and they convinced me that it was okay as long as I didn’t layer on that icing too thick.

I am foraying back toward romance a little. I have some great ideas involving my novihomidraks (new humans born of the dragons) that I want to write about. I wrote most of a book about a character named Siva and her novihomidrak, Rake, last year. There were some side characters in that story that nearly demanded that I work on their story next, but I convinced them that I wasn’t quite the writer that I needed to be in order to tell the story they wanted me to and that I needed more time. Believe me, I wasn’t lying to them and I’ve been working on techniques in other stories I’ve been working on so that I can get to where I need to be for their story. It’s going to be amazing. But Siva’s “romance” has to come first. I hope my readers forgive me for letting the icing get a little thick on these stories. It’ll be interesting to see how they all turn out. I’m excited about telling them and I love that we now live in a world where people don’t have to be constrained by genre. 

Oh, I’m also glad that I the two stories I’d spoken about yesterday didn’t get published as romances. They both came awfully close with publishers, but I now know why the universe took me out of the publishing arena when I got too close to achieving that dream. I wouldn’t have survived as a writer. 

As for the manuscript my mother helped me type all these years ago, I do still have the story. I’ve thought about typing it up and putting it online, but I’m afraid that with how much I’ve grown as an author I’d want to be cleaning it up too. I have too many stories like that already. Have I even mentioned my Silver City Seductress story? Yeah, I can laugh now, but there’s a part of me that wants to share that story. I keep trying to figure out if I can rewrite it as an alien sci-fi adventure. I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t dabbled with that. Someday I will have time to edit some of these older stories. I did that with Let’s Make a Deal. I added very little to that when I edited up and put it out to publication pasture. 

Enchantment’s Flame was the title of Elliot’s book back in the day. Maybe I’ll change the name of the character and put it out there some day. Now, if you ever see that title hit my roster, you’ll know.  

Until next time, happy adventuring!

Dragons of Wellsdeep – Chapter 18

Oh, I want to talk about this chapter, but I don’t want to spoil it. This is me anxiously clapping my hands together.  Ignore the woman behind the curtain. I was glad to see that I still was a few chapters ahead, so there’s a bit more to go. I’ve been so busy working on Cirvel’s story (and yes, I really think I needed to be writing it before I really got back to Sacred Knight #5) that I haven’t been working on Dragons of Wellsdeep as much lately. There are just so many stories I want to be writing and I’m so far behind with my reviews of what I’ve written that I feel like I’ll never catch up. Even my new processes I’ve been writing about earlier in the year don’t seem to be giving me an advantage. Okay, so maybe follow-thru on some of these has something to do with it, but when you realize that you have to go back and rewrite a section of story, which also means updating the outline, it has just knocked the wind right out of my sails. It’s easier to just keep writing forward. Then I feel bad because I know I need to go back. Time is so limited and the words must be done. Rearranging words doesn’t get new words written. Yeah, I’m going to have to find balance somewhere. While I’m figuring it out, why don’t you get to the story? Dragons of Wellsdeep is an epic science fantasy story filled with action, adventure, space travel, magic, dragons, and flying. Chapter 18 is available for 1 week only! Then it will turn back into a pumpkin and a new chapter will appear! 
Dragons of Wellsdeep cover small
Cover and layout copyright © 2018 by Morning Sky Studios Cover design by Dawn Blair/Morning Sky Studios Cover art copyright © Ingus Kruklitis | Dreamstime.com, © Digitalstormcinema | Dreamstime.com, and © Kalcutta | Dreamstime.com

Dragons of Wellsdeep

Chapter 18

by Dawn Blair

Chapter 18 was available for one week and has now turned back into a pumpkin. If you missed it, click on the links below to find it or another great story to read. There’s also another free story or story excerpt somewhere around my blog – I try to post something new every Wednesday. Hunt the story down, read, and enjoy!

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Get your fix of gods and myths now. 

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If you have enjoyed my work, please tell a friend about my stories. Thank you!


Dragons of Wellsdeep – copyright © 2018 Dawn Blair Published by Morning Sky Studios Cover and layout copyright © 2018 by Morning Sky Studios Cover design by Dawn Blair/Morning Sky Studios Cover art copyright © Ingus Kruklitis | Dreamstime.com, © Digitalstormcinema | Dreamstime.com, and © Kalcutta | Dreamstime.com This excerpt is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Thoughts on Write, Publish, & Market Like a Boss

I am often asked how someone can get their book published. Or I get asked, “What advice would you give someone writing a book?”

Most people don’t want the real answer: finish the book you’re writing first.

Just finishing the book (whether fiction or non-fiction) is usually the most challenging for anyone. See, it seems simple to sit down and write a book. If you just leave the bull your mind will try to feed you at the door, yes, it is that simple. However, most people can’t do that; the myths that an artist must suffer for their art is just too alluring, especially to those who like the idea of writing but don’t actually want to write. So, I always tell the inquirer to write the book first.

Surprisingly (not!), no one has every come back to me and said, “Okay, I wrote the book, now what?”

For a long time I wished that I’d had something I could tell people to go read and it would help them answer a lot of questions on their journey, including step 1: writing the book.

Now I do.

Enter Write, Publish, and Market Like a Boss.

I picked up this set because I really wanted to listen to Market Like a Boss, but the price on the audio for all three was irresistible.

I did listen to most of it at double speed. I found the narrator painfully slow at regular speed and 1.5 speed was about what I considered normal reading speech. At double speed, I felt like he was really at 1.5 speed.

Since I’ve been writing nearly all my life and have published 25 titles, I wasn’t certain there would be much information there for me. I was surprised that I did find a few nuggets of good information — you can always learn something. Besides, it was a good pep talk for me too.

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Rousing of ideas

I wrote about how ties and carpets have inspired ideas before, but here’s another thing that spurred an idea. You may actually recognize him from the cover of Mystery of the Stardust Monk.

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This little monk statue was in the courtyard at the Anchor in Lincoln City, Oregon. Look at him closely and you’ll notice that he’s been cleaved in two it looks like. I always wondered how the split came about and what was holding him together. I think that’s why he sat in the back of my imagination.

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1-800-IceBaby — new Loki novella coming soon

Yes, Loki lovers, it’s true. While I hesitate to say that it is the 6th novella in my Loki series because they are now supposed to be individual adventures as I had originally wanted them.

There are tie-ins the the first 5 in the series, but hopefully readers won’t be so lost if they start with #6.

I should note that some of the novellas in the future will come after The Loki Adventures, and others will come before. The way to tell the difference will be the preamble at the start of each story. If he mentions Asgard, it is before the first 5 novellas. If he says Midgard, it is after the first 5 novellas.

It couldn’t get any more confusing than the titles are already, right? (grin)

Okay, just so everyone is on the same page, let’s have a quick review:

The first 5 novellas which make up 1 story arc (which will be cataloged under the series name The Loki Adventures) are:

1-800-Mischief   *** For Sale, Call Loki *** For a Good Time, Call Loki *** For More Information, Call Loki *** For More Mischief, Call Loki

Okay, got that?

Now, the book titled 1-800-CallLoki is the full omnibus containing all of The Loki Adventures.

Now we start a new “series” called A Loki Adventure. Not plural. Single. As in single stories. (Do you hear me, Loki?) There will still be threads that run through the stories. But hopefully someone will be able to pick up any one of them from #6 onward and know what’s going on. At least, that’s my plan right now.

Are you ready to see the cover? Let’s do this!

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The Art of Making Hay – Stacking

Here’s another part of the process I was not too involved with. My part of the job entailed flying around the field in the pickup truck and up-righting any bale that had tipped over. Some bales could be stubborn too. But, we had to make sure that they were all standing up for the harrow bed to gather them up.

(Stay tuned for my special announcement at the end of this post!)

We outsourced a harrow bed driver to come pick up the hay for us. I think many farmers in the valley did. The guy would come thundering in and raced around the field until the harrow bed was full. The machinery scooped up the bale, turned it, made a layer of bales, then lifted that layer up and began building rows of these bales. Then the driver would deliver his load to the corral and start building a long stack of hay.

Here I am walking through the fields with my dog. I can't tell which one it is. Just beyond are the long stacks of alfalfa bales I was mentioning.
Here I am walking through the fields with my dog. I can’t tell which one it is. Just beyond are the long stacks of alfalfa bales I was mentioning. It looks like we might be irrigating this field — knowing me, I was playing in the mud.

The hay can be stacked for a long time before someone comes around to buy it. They load it up on a semitrailer and take it away. Hopefully during your wait, the stack doesn’t fall over.

The end part of the writing process is similar. Once you have everything straightened up and in tip-top shape, then you can pack it all up for delivery. The choice is yours: outsource or do the work yourself. You can go to a traditional publisher, or you can self-publish. With any luck, you’ll sell all your hard work and someone will buy it and take it away. It’s a good feeling. Hopefully, much like ranching, you’ve ended up with some money in the pocket.

This cycle doesn’t really stop but keeps going for 3-4 cuttings in a year. Winter comes and the work comes to a stop. Even writers need a break. Always remember to take a break and relax. Take care of yourself. You are your most important machine when it comes to “making hay while the sun shines.”

 

The Art of Making Hay – Baling

I never got to drive the baler. Bummer.

It was hooked up to a tractor which my dad didn’t think a girl could drive. In this case, he was probably right. So, I never got to drive that tractor. Which means, I never actually baled hay. But I did get to watch plenty of men fight with the cursed machine.

Maniacal laughter here!

Since I could do the baling, I was most likely doing this -- riding my bike. And, take a good look at my jazzy jacket -- dang, I loved that outfit!
Since I could do the baling, I was most likely doing this — riding my bike. And, take a good look at my jazzy jacket — dang, I loved that outfit!

Once again, you work the fields section by section and pick up all the raked hay. The tines of the baler pick up the hay and it goes inside the machine where it is mashed, compressed, and tied. Out of the back fall these cute little rectangular bricks of hay.

Yep, editing is like that.

I’ve often said that you have to puke out the first draft. Just get it down on paper. You can’t work with anything if you don’t first have it written. Once it is, then you start to tighten up your plot, characters, themes, and words. You compress them, distill them down until only what is necessary remains. It’s monstrous work. Unlike baling, you actually get to rethink your writing and can go back to the drawing board if you need to. I take that back. I do remember when my dad got a moisture meter and we went around the field testing several bales. If the moisture was too high, we cut the wire and spread the hay back out to dry and he’d try baling it again in a day or two. Wow, that was almost a memory gone!

Editing is like that too. You have to keep your machinery in good working order, namely your brain. It’s got to remember what happened before and in what order. Chapter by chapter, you will get each one kicked out behind you until you have a whole book.

And, for goodness sake’s, don’t get your arm caught inside the machine.

The Art of Making Hay – Cutting

So if irrigating your field is like a writer’s life, then we must move to the next act of ranching which is cutting. I should mention that this process I’m writing about is for alfalfa. That’s the crop we always grew on the ranch in Nevada, so it’s what I know best.

Cutting the hay takes place a long time after irrigating, usually several weeks. The alfalfa has to have time to grow and the land time to dry out. Swathers are large pieces of equipment which you don’t want to get stuck in the mud. You start by cutting a row or two around the whole field. After you go around the field, you start near a levee and begin cutting the hay in the section. The rotating cylinder full of tines takes in the hay and pushes them toward the blades which cut the hay. A long row of hay is spit out neatly behind the swather. You go around and around in circles making your way into the center until all the hay in the section of the field is down and move onto the next.

A swather from behind.  You can see the row of hay it's spitting out as well as the alfalfa crop growing off to the right of the photo. That's my brother standing on the tractor tire. Kids, don't try this at home!  (why is it that I say that often when I see a photo with my brother in it?)
A swather from behind.
You can see the row of hay it’s spitting out as well as the alfalfa crop growing off to the right of the photo.
That’s my brother standing on the tractor tire. Kids, don’t try this at home! (why is it that I say that often when I see a photo with my brother in it?)

How is this like writing? This is like idea gathering. Your brain is the swather going through all the information it has ever been given, It takes it in and chops it down. What it’s spitting out at you is all sorts of ideas for writing. Themes, characters, plot scenarios, all these and more are laid down for you like a clear path. After I have an idea and I’ve played with it a bit, I usually try to come up with some sort of outline. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. I’ve made up a template of The Hero’s Journey and I usually write one or two sentences for each stage. Sometimes I move the stages around. Yes, I follow a formula. That’s my cutting phase.

There is nothing like the smell of fresh cut hay. I remember going and lying down in the cool rows of alfalfa. Okay, so it wasn’t so great if the spot you decided to rest in had aphids and little spiders, but you could end up with ladybugs crawling over you just as easily. Yeah, those were the days.

Dangerous Writing

No one thought writing could be dangerous. They were all wrong.

Well, okay, the actual writing shouldn’t be dangerous for the author, but it should be dangerous for the main character. Very, very dangerous.

When I say this to some writers, I get a look that says, “I don’t write THOSE kinds of stories.” Well you should! Here’s why:

A story is how a character faces danger. Your main character has to have a goal, whether it’s a long-term or a short-term goal. Whatever keeps your character from getting this goal is an obstacle. In trying to get around the obstacle, the character is in danger of being overcome by the obstacle. Therefore, your character faces danger.

Any type of book, from romance, to fantasy, to western needs to have obstacles for the main character to overcome.

For example, you might have a handmaid who wishes to marry the prince, but she knows that if she expresses her love for him, she’ll be kicked out of the castle. Since she has no family to live with, she’d be out on the streets. So, her dreams must remain her own. The handmaid’s goal specifically might be to have a better life than her parents did. Her danger is getting thrown back into the same lifestyle that her parents lived in. She faces danger of discovery every time she sees the prince. And what if someone — a rival — found out about her secret love and intentionally tried to foil our precious little handmaid? What if the prince was a womanizer to begin with and our handmaid found herself betrayed, possibly pregnant? What if the queen found out the handmaid was pregnant and she wanted another child and offered to buy the babe from the handmaid — enough to make sure the handmaid is herself treated like royalty for the rest of her life. Could the handmaid give the queen her baby and let the child be raised as the prince’s sibling instead of his child?

While none of this puts the handmaid in an immediate life or death struggle, the handmaid is facing danger at every turn. You don’t have to write the shoot-’em-up high action stories to have danger. But when you stop asking yourself what pebbles are in the road to keep your characters from getting their goals and start thinking of it more as “what danger are they facing?” your story develops with more tightness. It’s not just a random event any more. It’s a real threat. And it makes the “What if” game more fun to play. I thought of my sample above on the fly, but as I was writing it, I saw the plot start to take shape. It’s fun crafting the story.

If you want to read more about how to create danger for your character and see more examples of how to do this as well as learn how to tighten other elements of your story, please check out my book, The Write Edit. You can order it right from my Morning Sky Studios website for under $10. Don’t forget about your other writing friends too! It would make a great Christmas gift for those authors in your life.