"Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I'll tell you a story." ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

27 January 2012

Paodin meets Red

So, here's another little snippet of my story. Please feel free to tell me what you think--I really want to know!
Chapter 8
Paodin walked into the Amber Stream Inn and Tavern just as the sun began to set. The tavern was dark, lit by only a few candles placed sporadically around the room, and the place was empty except for two grizzled old men seated at opposite ends of the mahogany bar and the bartender.

The man tending the bar seemed out of place in the dusty tavern. He wore rich fabrics most often seen on members of the Royal Court and even in the dim light Paodin could see they were spotless. His long coat hung open, which Paodin imagined was a result of his ample stomach outgrowing the buttons. Unlike most of the common men in Meinsley, the man behind the bar wore his thick red hair cut short. As Paodin sat down on one of the rickety bar stools the man turned toward him.
“What do you want?” he asked, bored.
 “Are you Red?”
 “That’s what people call me,” was his reply.
Ignoring the man’s seeming indifference, Paodin continued, “Jamis told me to ask for you once I got to town. He said you may be able to help me.” At Jamis’ name Red’s interest grew, and when Paodin placed the leather coin purse on the bar his demeanor changed altogether.
 “Ah! Welcome to the Amber. Any friend of Jamis is a welcome distraction.” Stepping out from behind the bar, Red motioned for Paodin to follow. “Come. Let’s see what I can do for you.” He scooped the sachet off the bar and led Paodin through a small door hidden in the shadows.
 The room the two men walked into was a complete opposite to the dark and dirty tavern. A large desk sat in the center of the room, polished until it shone. The chair behind the desk was massive and covered with rich burgundy fabric, looking fit to be one of the king’s thrones. Red sat down behind the ornately carved desk and motioned for Paodin to sit down across from him. Leaning back in his personal throne, Red laced his fingers together across his prominent belly.
 “Tell me, what can I do for you?”
 Paodin got straight to the point. “I have a horse, but I need provisions, enough for a three day journey. I also need a heavy cloak, warm enough for nights in the mountains. I am traveling to---”
 “Your business,” Red cut in, “is your own. My business is to provide a service, and to do so I have no need of knowing your destination. By the looks of you, you could use a scabbard and some boots. Yours appear to be well worn.”
 Glancing down at his feet, Paodin realized the man was right. His boots were all he had still been able to wear when the old hermit had given him clothes, but they were by no means in good condition. Looking back up at the big redhead, he said, “There are many things I could use, but all I have to give you are the coins in the purse--and even those have been given to me. I have nothing more to offer.”
Red dumped the coins onto his desk, talking to himself as he counted them. “This will buy enough food and perhaps a cloak, but it will never spread thin enough for boots or a scabbard. If I get a cloak from the old woman it will be warm enough and cheaper, though it will not last as long. Then there would be enough for a scabbard as well. I still couldn’t procure the boots for any less than two days’ worth of food, though.”
 “My boots will serve me well enough,” Paodin interjected.
 Looking up from the coins, Red ignored Paodin’s statement. “How are you with a bow? Are you a decent hunter?”
 “It has been a while since I hunted, but I was once fair,” was his answer.
 “Good. I’ll give you a room for the night and I won’t even charge you, and then you’ll have your supplies at first light,” Red said, grinning with pride in himself. “Follow me,” he said as he stood. “I’ll even give you one of my clean rooms. They’re usually reserved for my, um, ladies’ guests, but visitors have been few lately!”
 Paodin stood, reluctantly following Red from the room back into the dingy bar room and up a rickety staircase. “You are certain my provisions will all be ready at first light? I will need to leave in quite a hurry.”
 “Yes, yes,” the man said casually, pulling at his long coat as the two walked down a grimy hall. “Your horse will be loaded up, watered, and waiting for you to drag yourself from bed, and your supplies will be waiting in my records room, which you saw earlier. Don’t you worry--Red is working even now.” He opened a heavy door that squeaked on its hinges then stepped in ahead of Paodin. “Lottie, move on down the hall. This guest doesn’t require your services tonight.”
As Paodin stepped into the room, a blonde woman in only a skimpy dressing gown brushed past on her way out the door. Paodin averted his eyes, not wanting to make the girl nervous. “She can dress first. I don’t wish to inconvenience her.”
 Lottie giggled and patted Paodin’s cheek. “Too bad, Reddie. He’s a real gem!” With that she blew the two men a kiss and swayed down the hall.
 Red laughed, a big hearty laugh that shook his belly. “You must be exhausted, son! Good night.” He shut the door as he stepped out of the room, his laughter echoing down the hall.

23 January 2012

i entered!

So, I finally did it--I submitted my story to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition today.

I'm terrified, to be perfectly honest. 

I've had my writing out on this blog for a while now, which was scary enough. Now, though, I've entered a contest where the whole point of putting my story out there is for it to be judged.


Now, all I have to do is wait...that may very well prove to be the hardest part. I won't get to find out anything else until February 23rd.

The first round of the competition is based solely on the pitch, probably one of my weakest points with my writing. I wrote one, though, so I thought I would share it here. I would love to hear what you think about it (I have a couple of days to change things on my submission, so maybe somebody will have some wonderful advice that will make my pitch 10xs better!), so feel free to comment!

Bound by nature’s strength and frailty,
Though two, as one in unity,
Shall true heir of Tundyel make
And by the Truth the throne room take.

When King Simann took the throne he had the Rilso family and the True Wizards killed. Despite Simann’s precautions, though, there were still people in Tundyel who believed in the Prophecy and believed the true heir would drive Simann from the throne.

Many of those people ended up in Simann’s dungeon, a place they left only through the crematory. When Paodin ended up in the dungeon, however, something strange happened.

Paodin had been tortured many times, each time healed by the young Healer. Before she left the dungeon the last time, Paodin stood to face his captors and squared his shoulders. When Simann’s Royal Wizards entered the cell, Paodin spoke of his faith that the last True Wizard still lived and would see Simann driven from the throne. Then, he vanished.

With the castle in an uproar over the escape of the prisoner, the yound Healer Syndria was accused of helping him. Secretly sent away by the woman who raised her, Syndria escaped the castle in which she was raised only to find herself alone in what was quickly revealed to be a hostile land. When she was attacke by a bear on the mountain pass, she was saved by a familiar face—Paodin.

Now, both dedicated to seeing the Prophecy fulfilled and Simann driven from the throne, Syndria and Paodin have joined together to raise a rebellion. Together, they will face threats both mortal and magical and discover a force much more sinister than King Simann—a Darkness intent on stopping Paodin, Syndria, and the Sons of Tundyel.

19 January 2012

lessons from my daughter

This post is going to be a bit different from what I usually post, but I had to share a lesson I learned the other day...

We were watching the movie "The Prince of Egypt" the other day at home, and there was a part where God was talking to Moses. My little girl looked upset, and when I asked her what was wrong she asked, "Why doesn't God talk to me like that?" I gave her what I sometimes call the "Sunday School answer," saying that God does talk to us but He chooses to talk to our heart or in our head instead of out loud. My 5 year old then said, almost teary, "I wish He would talk to me out loud, because it's hard to know what He wants when He's quiet."

What do you say to that? All I could do was agree with her and give her a hug.

I have an incredibly stubborn, hard-headed, strong-willed daughter. There are many times when I have no idea what to do with her, how to deal with my little girl
who likes to wear tutus
and act like a puppy
and wear sparkly nail polish
and wants to wear makeup.
Her mommy never liked to be girly--in fact, I would still rather wear jeans and a t-shirt than a dress, and makeup is something I only wear in public--and then very sparingly. It's the moments like that one during the movie that make me stop.
I think about another stubborn,
hard-headed person,
this one a guy named Peter.

It's those moments that make me marvel at the little girl God has entrusted to me, that make me realize that the things that make her so hard for me to understand, so hard for me to handle, are the things that are going to make her an incredible instrument for God to use.

There are many times when I have no idea what to do with her, how to deal with my little girl who is going to be used in such an amazing way...

13 January 2012

STORM WARNING by Billy Graham (book review)

So, this has been a long time coming. To be honest, I'm not even sure how long ago I got this book from BookSneeze. I'm finally getting around to reviewing it, though, so I guess late is better than never...

STORM WARNING is a reprint of a book Billy Graham actually wrote about 10 years ago, but what he covers in this book is just as important a topic today as it was then. If anything, it may be more important. In this book, Billy Graham looks at the crazy things that are happening today in light of Biblical truths. He points out that, although so many bad things are happening right now, we can still have hope in Christ.

Billy Graham has an amazing gift for explaining difficult material in a way just about anybody can understand. STORM WARNING is no different. Although it has taken me a long time to get around to reviewing this book (sorry, BookSneeze!) with everything that has been going on in my own life lately, I would recommend this to anyone who is looking at the world around us and wondering what in the world is going on. Once you actually start reading it, it really doesn't take too long to make it through. Billy Graham blends together today's headlines and Revelations, something other people try to do but not everyone can accomplish.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255[...] : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

**Wow, multiple posts in one month--you would think I was writing a blog or something ;~D

12 January 2012

Syndria and a wolf

I know this is another long section, but I just didn't know where to cut it off. So, here's the next part of Syndria's story...
Syndria stood frozen, her eyes wide as she stared at the wolf blocking the path ahead of her. Here by the stream’s edge there were just a few feet of clear land between the water and the forest, and the large grey beast stood growling right in the middle.
“First the cat, now this,” Syndria whispered. Though she knew little about beasts of prey in the woods, the young Healer knew it was unusual that she was having her second close encounter with one in a matter of hours. Unlike the cougar, though, the wolf didn’t appear injured in any way, nor was he made nervous by the human before him. Judging by the tongue that darted out every few seconds to lick the snarling lips, to him Syndria was nothing more than a meal, and an easy one at that. When the wolf crouched and then sprung, the girl closed her eyes, knowing there was little more she could do. A split second later there came a whimper and Syndria opened her eyes in time to see the wolf crash to the ground with the shaft of an arrow sticking out of its ribs.
 “You’re awful lucky, girl.” Turning toward the trees, Syndria saw a man step out into the small clearing by the stream, bow in hand and a second arrow notched and ready. He approached the wolf cautiously, not releasing his bow until he was sure the animal was dead. When he prodded the beast with the toe of his boot, a strange expression came across his face. Dropping his bow to the ground still strung and sliding the arrow back into the quiver on his back, the man knelt beside the dead wolf.
 Syndria studied the man as he studied the wolf. Dressed in leather breeches and a leather tunic, the man had a thick mustache and beard which covered his mouth. His wiry black hair was flecked with silver and he wore it tightly pulled back at the nape of his neck. His hands were gnarled, most likely from years of manual labor since the man did not seem old.
 “That’s one strange creature,” the man muttered, speaking more to himself than to the girl just three feet away. “I just felled him and the bugger’s already stiff. Oh well, I suppose a scrawny beast like that’s not goin’ to make good meat anyhow.” As the man spoke, Syndria let her gaze drift from the man to the “strange creature” he had examined. Something about the animal seemed odd, but at first she couldn’t place what that might be. The man reached out and with one hand grasped the arrow to remove it from the dead wolf, placing his left hand against the animal’s rib cage. As soon as he touched the wolf the man jumped back, almost falling in his haste to get away. His eyes wide, the man seemed more frightened by the dead wolf than Syndria had been of the live one just minutes earlier.
 “That ain’t natural,” the man whispered. “That creature was alive, but…” he trailed off.
Stepping forward, the Healer knelt beside the wolf’s head for a closer look. That is not possible, she thought, but at the same time she could not deny what she saw. Stretching out her hand to confirm what she already knew, the Healer gently lay her hand against the wolf’s fur. Instead of coarse hair, Syndria was touching something hard and unyielding. In fact, the wolf’s entire body had turned to stone. When she pulled at the arrow the feathered shaft broke off in her hand--the head was encased in the marble wolf. What magic was at work here? Syndria hade never seen such a spell worked by any of the King’s Wizards, yet who else could have done such a thing? And why had this beast been sent after her, for there would be no other reason for such a creature to be in these woods. Why hadn’t Simann just sent a guard?
 “Come away from that,” the man said gruffly, pulling Syndria’s mind away from her questions. “It ain’t safe to mess with magic--it’s unnatural.” Syndria obliged him and took a step away from the marble wolf, but she hesitated to move toward the man. If he was so against magic, what would happen if he recognized who she was? Looking him over from head to toe again, Syndria decided she had nothing to fear. Judging by his appearance the man who had just saved her life had little interest in the happenings of the castle. It seemed likely that he would not even know of the search for the Healer who had betrayed her King.
 The man had started back through the woods, but stopped when he realized the girl was not following. “Well, come on, girl,” he said, his tone impatient. “You’re wastin’ my hunt. If I get you to the Missus quick enough, then maybe I can get back out here before it gets too dark. That woman’s likely to tan my hide if I don’t get her no meat today.”
 Syndria smiled when the man turned back to her, holding back a laugh she was sure would irritate and offend her rescuer. Never before had she heard such colorful speech, or at least not that she could remember. She hurried along behind the man, anxious to meet his “missus.” The man moved quickly, and soon Syndria was standing in front of a small cabin nestled in the trees. Smoke rolled from the chimney and since a fire wouldn’t be needed for warmth today the Healer assumed the woodsman’s wife must be cooking. Her stomach rumbled at the prospect, earning Syndria an odd look from her guide.
 “I suppose you’re gonna be wantin’ some grub,” be grumbled, stepping through the open doorway. “That’s the missus, over by the fire. I don’t have time to mess with you if I’m gonna get some meat.” Turning, the man left Syndria standing in the middle of the one room cabin. It seemed the woman at the fire hadn’t heard her husband talking, for when she turned she jumped at the sight of the girl.
 “Why, child, you just about scared the life outta me! Here I was expecting to see some injured critter dropped off in my doorway and I turn to find a pretty little girl. By all that’s good, what’s a tiny little thing like you doing out in these woods alone anyway?” The round woman quickly crossed the small room, wrapped her arm around the Healer’s shoulders, and ushered her in to sit at a small table. If she felt the girl stiffen at the foreign feeling of having someone’s arm around her, the cheery woman didn’t let on. “Just sit right down and let me get you something to nibble on. I just started the fire fore some stew tonight, so I’ll toast you up some of the bread I made yesterday and you can slather on some sweet cream butter. I told Simon I would move out here to the middle of nothing only if he let me keep Maybelle and that calf of hers, and am I ever glad I did. Sweet cream butter is just one of those things that’s hard for a girl to give up!” As she spoke, the woman tore off a chunk of bread and sat it on the rack over her fire, just above the flames.
 “Well, where is my head?” she chuckled. “I imagine you’d like to know who’s feeding you. Like I mentioned, that grump you met in the woods would be my man Simon, though he’s not as gruff as he would like you to believe. My name is Josephina, but I’ve not been called that for a long while now. Simon calls me Ina, and I suppose it would work for you to just as well. What would your name be, dear?” she asked, handing Syndria the warm bread smothered with butter.
Unsure how to answer, the Healer took a bite of the bread in order to have time to think. Swallowing, she said, “Forgive me be for being so rude and not answering before I sampled your bread, but it looked delicious and I hadn’t realized how hungry I was until you handed this to me. My name is Kierney,” she finally said, deciding to use the name Councilman Lawrence had given her. “Your husband happened upon me at the most important time and saved me from the jaws of a ferocious wolf. I am ever in his debt.” She bowed her head slightly in thanks, a gesture with which Ina seemed unfamiliar. “Perhaps one day I may repay you.”
 “Oh, don’t you worry about that, child. I’m just happy you’re here because it gives me another woman to talk to. Now, don’t say one more thing about ‘debts’ and ‘repayment.’ None of that has too much meaning out here anyhow. Now tell me, where were you headed to before my Simon came upon you?” she asked, leaning toward Syndria and propping her arms on the table between them.
 “Honestly, madam, I don’t know where I was headed. There were those at home who no longer welcomed me, so I sat out to find those who will.”
 “Why, you’re not much more than a child! How old are you?”
 Syndria smiled. All her life people had mistaken her for younger, although most realized their mistake when she spoke. “I am twenty and six, though I may not look it. And despite my appearance I am quite able to take care of myself.”
 “Well, I’ve lived your life twice over now, and Simon has close to three, so to me you’re still hardly more than a child,” she said, almost pouting, before cheerfully adding, “However, I suppose you’re old enough to look after yourself, seeing as how I was looking after me and Simon both when I was your age.” Just then the burly man came through the door carrying a rabbit, and Ina turned her attention to her husband.
 “Take that dirty critter out of my house. I don’t want you trailing blood all over my floor again. But take care to keep that hide in good condition this time. I couldn’t even use it last time you brought a rabbit home!” Muttering something under his breath that Syndria imagined she wouldn’t want to hear, Simon turned and stepped back outside, his wife following close behind in order to oversee his work.