Fantasy Fiction - Brian Rathbone.com

The righteous are bound by duty to enlighten the heathens and emancipate the souls of those beyond reform.
Archmaster Belegra The Dawning of Power

Today is among my proudest moments. My 20+ year technology career included a number of spectacular near misses, and I really wanted to go out on a high note. That became a reality today, as the North Carolina Department of Commerce broadband division, NC Broadband, released the NC Open-Source Broadband Map.

http://ncbroadband.gov/broadband_map

NC open source broadband map

In 2011, while working at the North Carolina Rural Center as part of the e-NC Authority, I felt there were serious shortcomings in the existing state broadband map. It was simultaneously ahead of its time and behind the times. GIS specialist Stephanie Jane Edwards agreed. I suggested to Jane Patterson that we needed an open-source map that built upon lessons learned from the closed-source map development. Jane knew I also wanted to write books for a living, and she challenged me to stick around long enough to make it happen. I got 99% of the way there before my departure, but my colleagues have carried on.

My favorite features are the ‘auto-locate’ feature that searches based on your current location, and the smartphone / tablet interface. The enhanced ‘identify providers for a given point’ feature is also not too shabby.

Congratulations to my colleagues from the e-NC Authority, NC Broadband, Topsail Technologies, Boundless, UNC-G, MCNC and the open-source community for all your hard work. This would not have been possible without you.

It is my greatest hope that this map will continue to evolve and will be adopted by other states to enhance their broadband mapping capabilities, while at the same time lowering their costs.

Special thanks to Tim Will, who started me down this path. Stephanie Jane Edwards for teaching me about Geospatial mapping, projections, and those pesky Geodetic Datums! And to Anna Tapp for teaching me about Geocoding and Composite Geolocators.

I promised myself I wouldn’t cry…the dragons are having a good laugh at my expense.

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Huge thanks to my formidable friend, Lorna Suzuki, for inviting me to be a part of this! I encourage everyone to check out Lorna’s website and follow her on Twitter!

http://www.newmobileme.com/imagochronicles9/IMAGO_FANTASY_REALM/

https://twitter.com/lornasuzuki

1)     What am I working on?

At this very moment, I am finishing up my final projects at my soon to be former day job. I’m giddy at the prospect of writing full time in just a matter of six weeks or so. This will give me time to complete the third trilogy in the Godsland fantasy series. There are four trilogies in the primary story arc, and I expect to complete the fourth trilogy in the coming year! You can’t see it, but I’m doing a little dance. You can’t see me, right?

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Writing fantasy is in my blood–as is reading fantasy. My life has often been surreal; from the barn to the board room. From high school dropout to dotcom optionaire and onto state level broadband planner and publisher. All these experiences color my writing, bringing a realistic edge to a fantastical story. Real science and physics blend almost seamlessly with magic and power. Godsland evolves throughout the story, providing an ever changing landscape in which I craft my stories.

3)     Why do I write what I do?

While I will likely write a few non-fiction titles, and I may branch out in genre at some time in the future, I will always be a fantasy writer at heart. They say there is nothing better than getting paid to do something you love, and I adore writing fantasy fiction. Most of my readers are adults, but Godsland is suitable for young adults. I accepted the challenge of telling a tale built on adult concepts without including the gory details. My writing does not coddle the young but instead accepts the fact that they are far more informed and capable than we care to give them credit for.

4)     How does your writing process work?

I write with wild abandon, without worry or fear. I give myself permission to write terrible first drafts. By doing this my productivity skyrocketed, and I find my first drafts get better and better. Confidence drives the fingers faster.

When I finish writing something, I immediately set it aside and start my next project. This gives me distance from the work I just finished, and it gets me a head start on my next project. I find it helps if I already have something in progress when I finish editing. Motivation can be difficult to find after slogging through edits.

I make multiple editing passes on each manuscript. I try to stay focused and not get caught up in making changes on the fly. I place a comment on things that need rewriting and move on. Recently, I’ve adopted a new method for proofing my manuscripts using text-to-speech. After downloading a high-quality voice onto my Android tablet and hooking it to my TV using a MHL cable, I can sit on a yoga ball and watch the words go by as they are being read to me. It’s amazing the things I find this way.

BETA readers are an important part of my process as well. I use a professional editor, Andrea Howe, but I try my best to hand her a clean manuscript, which allows her to concentrate more on the story and less on typos. Andrea and I do two reads per manuscript, which allows me to address her insightful comments and make my books even better. After that, it’s off to readers–my favorite part!

Be sure to join me on Twitter (@brianrathbone), grab a free ebook or audiobook, or even like the series on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/WorldOfGodsland

Thanks again to Lorna Suzuki for tagging me. I will return the favor by tagging Morgen Rich and Scott Baughman, but fine writers with great content to offer readers.

Scott Baughman

http://www.writegreatscott.com

https://twitter.com/scotticusmax

Morgen Rich

http://morgenrich.com

https://twitter.com/MorgenRich

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Free Fantasy Ebook The Initiate by Tara Maya

The Unfinished Song (Book 1): Initiate by Tara Maya

BLURB

DEADLY INITIATION

A DETERMINED GIRL…

Dindi can’t do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi’s clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

AN EXILED WARRIOR…

Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn’t commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don’t kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father’s wars and his mother’s curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her… assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.

EXCERPT

Blue-skinned rusalki grappled Dindi under the churning surface of the river. She could feel their claws dig into her arms. Their riverweed-like hair entangled her legs when she tried to kick back to the surface. She only managed to gulp a few breaths of air before they pulled her under again.

She hadn’t appreciated how fast and deep the river was. On her second gasp for air, she saw that the current was already dragging her out of sight of the screaming girls on the bank. A whirlpool of froth and fae roiled between two large rocks in the middle of the river. The rusalka and her sisters tugged Dindi toward it. Other water fae joined the rusalki. Long snouted pookas, turtle-like kappas and hairy-armed gwyllions all swam around her, leading her to the whirlpool, where even more fae swirled in the whitewater.

“Join our circle, Dindi!” the fae voices gurgled under the water. “Dance with us forever!”

“No!” She kicked and swam and stole another gasp for air before they snagged her again. There were so many of them now, all pulling her down, all singing to the tune of the rushing river. She tried to shout, “Dispel!” but swallowed water instead. Her head hit a rock, disorienting her. She sank, this time sure she wouldn’t be coming up again.

“Dispel!” It was a man’s voice.

Strong arms encircled her and lifted her until her arms and head broke the surface. Her rescuer swam with her toward the shore. He overpowered the current, he shrugged aside the hands of the water faeries stroking his hair and arms. When he reached the shallows, he scooped Dindi into his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the grassy bank. He set her down gently.

She coughed out some water while he supported her back.

“Better?” he asked.

She nodded. He was young–only a few years older than she. The aura of confidence and competence he radiated made him seem older. Without knowing quite why, she was certain he was a Tavaedi.

“Good.” He had a gorgeous smile. A wisp of his dark bangs dangled over one eye. He brushed his dripping hair back over his head.

Dindi’s hand touched skin–he was not wearing any shirt. Both of them were sopping wet. On him, that meant trickles of water coursed over a bedrock of muscle. As for her, the thin white wrap clung transparently to her body like a wet leaf. She blushed.

“It might have been easier to swim if you had let go of that,” he teased. He touched her hand, which was closed around something. “What were you holding onto so tightly that it mattered more than drowning?”

LINKS

Tara’s blog http://bit.ly/12dFdNy

Tara’s Twitter http://bit.ly/162sCtE

The Unfinished Song on Facebook http://on.fb.me/1400mMq

Amazon http://amzn.to/15ciwYc

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/13yM5Dr

Kobo http://bit.ly/1aFhg1P

iTunes http://bit.ly/1baddhN

Smashwords http://bit.ly/17zK8Xn

Initiate is free everywhere except on Barnes and Noble (where it’s $0.99). You can download a free .epub version via Smashwords.

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Below is a post from my friend The Bearded Scribe.

Greetings, Beardies!

A while back I had mentioned on Facebook (and by default, Twitter) that, in honor of reaching 500 Likes on our Facebook Page and 1000 Followers on Twitter, I would be holding a Giveaway.

A Giveaway, there shall be…and it’s a doozie! We have some great prizes, donated by some great authors. In addition to their generosity, I’ve decided to donate a prize of my own.

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The Prizes & Their Donators:
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Joshua Allen Mercier is the Founder and Executive Editor of The Bearded Scribe.  He is a passionate reader and an aspiring author currently shopping his first manuscript, The Assassin of Aldarhaij. He studied Creative Writing at Alma College and is a self-confessed nerd, linguaphile, and Grammar Nazi. He believes that Oxford comma is not optional, and that its absence is a punishable crime.

World-Building Critique & Feedback. With this service, I’ll review your world-building material and notes for consistency and clarity, discrepancies and weaknesses, strengths and uniqueness, among other factors. I will offer a thorough critique with detailed feedback, pointing out places in your world that need work or reinforcement. The service includes the initial email exchange of your notes, my critique and feedback, and two, thirty-minute sessions via Facebook or iMessage (in addition to an initial 30-Minute Consultation). Prize valued at $70

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Cidney Swanson is the author of The Ripple Trilogy and the Saving Mars series.  She has always had a thing for words. At an early age, she knew she’d be a writer. Her dad taught literature, and her mom made sure she and her sister had library books.
Her parents took the sisters to see Shakespeare plays as well, and as a seven-year-old, Cidney interrupted the actors performing The Merchant of Venice when one of them lied to another in Elizabethan English. Cidney recalls seeing the actors onstage breaking into choked laughter when she called out, “You liar!” No one mentioned to her that Shakespeare was difficult to understand, so she simply followed along, commenting when she couldn’t stand the fibbery anymore.
By the time she turned nine, Cidney read and wrote stories constantly. She found Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and became convinced the author had modeled her character “Jo March” after her. As a teen, she fell hard for fantasy and science fiction and soon wrote her futuristic tales in Tolkien’s Elven script. (Which also came in handy for hiding journal entries from her sister.)
Cidney traveled with her teacher-parents every summer, driving through Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and a dozen European countries by the time she reached high school age. She was able to travel abroad three out of her four years in college as well, adding Israel and Eastern Europe to her list.
Through her twenties, and into her thirties—which she describes as her “decade of giving birth”—Cidney journaled, wrote poems and essays, and started novels that were never finished in between chasing chickens and changing diapers. She also started two successful businesses and home-schooled her kids with her husband’s help. She describes those as great years for taking in life, an activity she highly recommends for any aspiring writer.
Cidney lives with her husband and assorted animals and kids in Oregon where she writes full-time, planning her next novel and her next international adventure with equal enthusiasm. She no longer, however, interrupts theatrical performances. Even if someone’s lying.


One (1) copy of Defying Mars. One winner will be handsomely rewarded with a copy of Defying Mars, the second book in the Saving Mars series.

Jessamyn has escaped Earth with food for her starving world, but her troubles are just beginning. She must rebuild her life without Pavel, the Terran boy whose kiss haunts her. Her success is further tainted by the loss of her beloved brother. Ethan disabled the deadly lasers orbiting Mars, but this has created a fervor to re-open trade with Earth which Jess knows would be disastrous. Add into the mix a secret which could launch an interplanetary war, and Jess finds herself at the center of an intrigue where, in order to save the world she loves, she must defy it.

Five (5) Specialty Saving Mars Bookmarks. These collector bookmarks, inspired by the cover from the first book in the Saving Mars series (aptly titled, Saving Mars), are from a remaining limited quantity, generously donated by Cidney.
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Lana Krumwiede’s first name rhymes with banana, and she pronounces her last name KRUM-widdy, as in a clever bread fragment. But don’t worry too much because she’s not touchy about it.

In third grade, Lana wrote in her autobiography that she wanted to be a mother, a writer, and the church organist. The organist thing didn’t work out very well, but the other two dreams made up for it. Her work has appeared in Highlights, High Five, Spider, Babybug, The Friend, and Chicken Soup for the Child’s Soul. Freakling is her first novel. She also has a picture book under contract with Candlewick.
Before she remembered she wanted to be a writer, Lana worked as an office manager, a stay-at-home mom, a preschool teacher, a Spanish teacher, a bilingual kindergarten teacher, a swimming instructor, and a reading tutor. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and youngest daughter. Her three older children are off having adventures of their own.
Lana has tried psi many times, especially in association with cleaning house, but could never make it work. She does have a few mildly supernatural abilities, which include untying knots, peeling oranges, and dominating in board games. Her perfect day would include reading, writing, swimming, cooking, telling jokes, spending time with family, and pie.
Two *SIGNED* Copies of Freakling.
In twelve-year-old Taemon’s city, everyone has a power called psi — the ability to move and manipulate objects with their minds. When Taemon loses his psi in a traumatic accident, he must hide his lack of power by any means possible. But a humiliating incident at a sports tournament exposes his disability, and Taemon is exiled to the powerless colony. The “dud farm” is not what Taemon expected, though: people are kind and open, and they actually seem to enjoy using their hands to work and play and even comfort their children. Taemon adjusts to his new life quickly, making friends and finding unconditional acceptance. But gradually he discovers that for all its openness, there are mysteries at the colony, too — dangerous secrets that would give unchecked power to psi wielders if discovered. When Taemon unwittingly leaks one of these secrets, will he have the courage to repair the damage — even if it means returning to the city and facing the very people who exiled him?
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Brian Rathbone is a former horse trainer and computer programmer.  He used his old world knowledge and love of fantasy fiction to create The World of Godsland fantasy series, which begins with The Dawning of Power trilogy.
Brian began working from home, finally finding the time to write down the story that had been growing in his mind for over a decade. At times he felt like a juggler in motley while he balanced the writing of code and the writing of fiction, but it’s all been worthwhile.
He is currently working on writing Fifth Magic, the seventh book in his World of Godsland series.

Two Copies of The Dawning of Power trilogy, the first three books of his World of Godsland series. Echoes of the ancients’ power are distant memories, tattered and faded by the passage of eons, but that is about to change. A new dawn has arrived. Latent abilities, harbored in mankind’s deepest fibers, wait to be unleashed. Ancient evils awaken, and old fears ignite the fires of war.
In times such as these, ordinary people have the power to save the world . . . or destroy it.
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Paige W. Pendleton. The secrets of the Red Paint People have haunted Maine for 7000 years. Paige is busy writing those tales.
She is currently working on The Keeper and the Scimitar of Salaman, the third installment of her Black Ledge series.

Two Copies of The Keeper and the Rune Stone. An unholy ritual, a ticking clock. Four children discover that there are things that go bump in the night…

Centuries ago a group of Elves committed an unholy ritual. But the ritual was a spectacular failure. It transformed the Elves into the Noctivagae - the beings we know as vampires.
Striving to maintain a fragile peace, the ancient Elves and Dwarves negotiated an accord, which they’ve renewed every year on the summer solstice. The ceremony depends on the magical Rune Stone, but it’s missing. If it is not found—and quickly—the consequences could be dire, and not just for Elves and Dwarves.
Four children, Rob, Jack, Eleanor, and Flora, stumble into the fantastical excitement when they happen across a wise being who inhabits a nearby cave. He is the Keeper of the Realm. He befriends the children and enlists their help.
The adventure that follows is based on my suspicion that Elves and Dwarves came to Maine with the ancient Norse in the time of the Red Paint People. The story is filled with suspense, magic, adventure, and charming supporting characters. It’s both heart-warming and heart-pounding.
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Gregory S. Close has lived on both coasts of the United States (and that wholesome corn-fed part in-between) as well as Dundalk, Ireland and the tiny islands of the Kwajalein Atoll.
Greg loves travelling and sampling the native cultures, foods, customs, and beers of the world. Greg is married to a rocket scientist and lives in California with his two daughters, a cat, and one and a half dogs.
Three Copies of In Siege of Daylight. This new epic literary fantasy follows Calvraign, who is an apprentice to the king’s bard. His studies are filled with prophecy, romance, mythic enemies, and magic, and he contents himself with such fantasies until the day that he is suddenly called to the capital city. His best friend, Callagh, the most skilled huntress in their village, senses something isn’t right with Calvraign’s hasty summons and follows him. Her instincts prove true, as his arrival throws the king’s court into chaos, and the two are abruptly torn from their simple country life and plunged into a real-life version of Calvraign’s tales. A menacing prophecy reveals that an all-encompassing dark magic has already been loosed upon the world, and there is only one way to stop it. Calvraign must reverse the Darkening before treachery takes the life of the crown prince and plunges the kingdom of Providayne into chaos. And Callagh must keep him alive long enough to do it….
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Daniel Harvell wrote one short story at the age of 10 about a pit on the moon laden with poisonous hamburgers, and suddenly he was an author. That’s the way he saw it when “Murder on the Moon” became an instant hit with his fourth-grade classmates. He’d always been a voracious reader, but upon sharing his little yarn with friends, Daniel suddenly realized the freedom (and power!) of becoming the storyteller. Over the next few years, he would go on to write several short stories, mostly involving murder mysteries and his schoolmates.
The thrill of whodunits subsided when he discovered the long and (theoretically) rewarding payoffs of the soap operatic style of telling tales, which was followed quickly by his unearthing of the superhero fiction genre (which is just soap operas in spandex). Fast-forward to Daniel’s last semester at Florida State University, where he was starting to regret my decision to pursue a business management degree instead of something more literary. He had big stories in his head. Instead of second-guessing his educational path, however, Daniel used his free time to pursue his passion. A few months later, his first novel had arrived in the world—and it wasn’t pretty. Like all writers, though, he had to start somewhere.
Daniel went back to the drawing board with his ideas for The Survivors—a contemporary fantasy story about what would happen if real people found themselves empowered with superhuman abilities. But The Survivors wasn’t so pretty either. The concept was fun but the execution was rough. It was temporarily shelved while he set out to learn how to be a better—and publishable—writer. And 10 years later, Daniel thinks he may have learned a thing or two.
He wrote another novel in the interim years (more on that soon!), but The Survivors will always be his baby. In many ways, the work of an artist is like his or her child. Now his little one’s ready to play with the big kids. After the many years of edits and rewrites, Daniel is proud of the novel into which it has grown.
Two Copies of The Survivors. When seven strangers impossibly survive a horrific airplane crash, they find themselves changed in remarkable ways. The survivors are endowed with powers that defy explanation. Some are blessed. Some are cursed.
Going their separate ways, they adapt their extraordinary “gifts” to their ordinary lives. The results, however, aren’t always pretty—particularly when one of them engages in a killing spree. With little more to go on than the psychic link that they all share, the survivors seek out one another to uncover the murderer and bring him or her to justice.
The fireman, the grandmother, the psychiatric patient, the basketball player, the mute girl, the rich blonde, and the man in the wheelchair—they all have secrets worth hiding. They can’t trust each other. They can’t even trust themselves.
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S.M. White has read a metric ton of text in his life. You could probably crush a dozen men beneath the weight. He studied creative writing at Spalding University, which turns out is simply reading and writing; that was nice. He has spent countless hours watching fantasy films, at times awed and at other times disappointed. He has held swords and shields and dead things. He once undertook a daunting quest to recover the stolen car keys to his mother’s station wagon. Maidens have handed me favors ranging from bracelets to perfume-drenched letters to lengths of fake hair. When he encounters dragons, he keeps his wits about him and his gold coins close. He is a liar. He is a thief: he has stolen words out of men’s mouths and claimed them as fictional musings. His friends often question him on his whereabouts (they seldom check Medieval Outfitters). He is not a serious person; of this, he is serious. He spent his formative years training to be a ninja. In this, he can don dark clothing and climb the tallest trees, he can do a front roll and a cartwheel, and he can fashion a smoke bomb from a tennis ball and match heads. If you were to ask him a question, he would instantly become evasive and confusing (mostly as a product of his uncertainty, but also because he’s super mysterious).
Say something poignant, the Internet says.
Very well. He has won many insignificant things and has lost many precious things. This, he feels, is important. It is one thing to hold an object in your hand knowing its worth is a paltry measure in regards to what you might have been holding. This idea of loss is a vibrant and living thing. It lets you see that what is offered is not always what should be taken, and that what should be taken is hardly ever offered. And there waits cynicism, the most powerful of writerly attributes. If you don’t know hopelessness, or dejection, or heart ache, you do not know conflict. Pain can be observed on television, or read about in the paper. But to live it, that it what molds a heart and moves a soul. His writing can be dark and terrible and harsh. This is not a product of formal training, or awards, or degrees. It is a result of his humanness, of his longing to understand agony and love and how the two survive in the same world. His stories are studies of the human heart, of humanity’s need for good, and of the dreadful movements of evil as done by minds capable of love.
Three Copies The Lonely Man: The Witch’s Price. A man responsible for the downfall of a nation. The nation responsible for the downfall of a man.
Mhets and six other greedy men quested to steal the Chained God’s treasure. They were successful. The gods, in their fury, took the lives of Mhets’ companions one at a time, and now seek to snuff out the remaining thief. To survive, and to further spite the divine for their part in taking the love of his life, Mhets finds refuge in a witch’s hand. But the vile deal he enters into promises nothing but trouble. Sorcerers, mercenaries, and death wait on the horizon as he moves to complete his end of the terrible bargain. Journeying at the behest of the witch, Mhets learns just how black his heart has become, and how that darkness inside him might spell salvation for the world.
This installment starts the tales of Mhets Sorrowbringer, a man wronged and angered in life. He owns a past riddled with atrocity, betrayal, and death, but here is where his true story starts. Here is where the man called Mirthless Mhets begins to write his legend.
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The Tour Hosts:
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I Heart Books is a page whose focus is on the promotion of reading, books, and their authors. They provide service for both trad-pub and self-pub authors of all genres. They strive to bring their readers fun and positive posts, while keeping up with current news in the “book world.”
Good Choice Reading focuses mainly on Young Adult, New Adult and Romance in all genres. The blog is coordinated by a wonderful group of girls who love to read and share the love they have for books with others!
Diamonds & Coal Book Reviews is run by Anna, an unrepentant 23-year-old nerd. She loves all different sorts of books, has watched too many movies to count, and is always happy to discover new music. That said, her graphic novel/superhero passion knows no bounds. (Hellboy is her favorite—you’ll never convince her any other superhero is better!) When she’s not at work in the Electronics Department of her local Target, every waking moment revolves around her blog. Come and join her in finding more of the interesting, shiny things in life.
Fae Books is run by Sarah Fae Graham, a 24-year-old Army wife who lives in Catterick Garrison in the United Kingdom. Fae Books is all about promoting authors, bloggers, writers and everything bookish in between. It hosts a lot of giveaways as well as free book posts, excerpts, interviews, and guest blog posts from the people with whom Sarah Fae is working. She runs a reviewing team who are in high demand and tend to book six months in advance. She’s also in the process of beginning her own Tours. You can find more information on Sarah Fae and Fae Books by clicking on the above banner—it’s never too soon to get Fae Books involved.
Alexis Holcomb is currently a writer, but aspires to one day be a full-time author. She specializes in fiction and loves inspiring others to follow their passions and dreams. She’s a hands-on type of person that can just as easily fix a 3 course meal for a group of friends as she can do maintenance on her or her husband’s vehicles. She’s proud to be an Air Force sergeant, a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a writer.

Alexis is also a contributor at The Bearded Scribe.

Wordweaver. A child of the American Great Plains, Court Ellyn moved wherever the oil industry took her family. Born in the panhandle of Texas, she has lived from one end of the Lone Star state to the other, as well as New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Indiana. She is settled at last, or so she hopes, in a growing town southwest of Oklahoma City with her husband, her fat cats, and her writing.
Having to move frequently, drove her to fill her playtime with characters and stories that, at first, she acted out with her sister. Then, when she was fourteen, she began writing what she calls “poor and unrealistic historical fiction,” primarily because her mother discouraged her from reading and writing in the fantasy genre. But because of films like The Never Ending Story, The Princess Bride, and Willow, her fate was sealed. Throughout high school her tastes gravitated toward the fantastical until she secretly purchased her first fantasy novel at a gas station. Her mother warned her, “Be careful.” And so Ms. Ellyn has been carefully reading and writing fantasy ever since.
Ms. Ellyn attended the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, which she claims provided an excellent liberal arts education but failed to dispel the dragons. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2000 with a degree in English and History and an emphasis in Creative Writing. Shortly after, she married her high school sweetheart and determined to write professionally. Sadly, she learned the hard way that a college education does not guarantee book sales. Regardless, Court’s stories have since appeared in numerous magazines such as Kaleidotrope, Silver Blade and the Dead Robots’ Society’s Explorers: Beyond the Horizon anthology. In the spring of 2012, she celebrated the publication of the first novel of a fantasy series, over which she labored for a more than a decade. After a literal outpouring of sweat and tears, both Volumes of Book 1 are available at CreateSpace and at Amazon.

Court is also a contributor at The Bearded Scribe.

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The Giveaway:
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck to Everyone!  And have FUN!

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I was honored to find out that I’d been tagged for THE NEXT BIG THING – WORK IN PROGRESS, and it just might happen to have something around here that I’ve been working on. And then I must tag others; I’ll try to be gentle.

But first, many thanks to Morgen Rich, who tagged me and TS Gwilliam who tagged her. Check them out!

Morgen Rich: World Enough and Time ( http://www.morgenrich.wordpress.com ).

TS Gwilliam’s blog is roseshadows ( http://roseshadows.wordpress.com/ )

THE NEXT BIG THING - WORK IN PROGRESS
1.What is the working title of your next book?
THE FIFTH MAGIC

2.Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’ve been working on the Godsland story since the late 1990’s, though I didn’t get to start writing it until 2005. Each trilogy builds on the last trilogy, and I’m finally getting to write things I’ve been thinking about for more than fifteen years. It’s a lot of fun. And once I write it, it’s as if my imaginings are made real.

3.What genre does your book fall under?
Young Adult Epic Fantasy

4.What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I’ve always thought Kate Beckinsale could play Catrin, and my wife insists that Benjin will be played by Alec Baldwin. I don’t know, though, I make have to make a cameo…

5.What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Power has returned to Godsland, and no one is prepared.

6.Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The Godsland series will remain self-published for the foreseeable future. It’s not that I wouldn’t welcome the right deal from a publisher, but asking a publisher to pick up a series that’s seven books in is a bit much, and I don’t expect it to happen. There has been some interest in my work from New York, and I may soon develop a project specifically for traditional publication. I think it and my self-published works will complement one another.

7.How long did/will it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’ll start by saying that I’m fortunate writing is now my full-time endeavor, though I do still have some part-time obligations. Because of this, I expect to have the draft completed in fewer than thirty days. It’ll take considerably longer to be edited to my satisfaction. I’ll edit it, and then my beta readers will get it, after that I’ll edit it again. When I’ve edited it to my greatest ability, I send it to Andrea Howe at Blue Falcon Editing. Andrea has edited the entire Godsland series, and we generally do two full edits. After that, I feel comfortable sending it out to my fans, who’ve been great at finding things here and there that we’ve all managed to miss. I’m grateful for that.

8.What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Godsland series has been compared to The Lord of the Rings, Terry Brooks’ Shannara, and Harry Potter, but I would say it bears more similarity to The Magic of Recluse, by L.E. Modesitt and The Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn–those books certainly helped inspire the series (along with Shannara and Lord of the Rings, and many others.). See my bookshelf here to see many of the books that inspired me to write fantasy.
http://www.brianrathbone.com/about-fantasy-author-brian-rathbone/

9.Who or what inspired you to write this book?
As mentioned above, there have been many writers who’ve inspired me, but I find myself more motivated now by my readers. They provide me with a great deal of motivation and good cheer, and this next trilogy is all for them. I can’t wait to bring it to them.

10.What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
One of the best things about The Fifth Magic I that there are six books leading up to it, and I’m making great use of history and tying up loose ends from previous story lines, as well as bringing back some old friends. For those unfamiliar with my work, Call of the Herald is the place to start. You can grab your free copy here: http://brianrathbone.com/free-fantasy-ebook.html

That was fun! And now to tag two more unsuspecting souls…My magic crystal 8-ball selected Nick Taylor http://nicholastaylor.co/ and A.M. Hargrove http://amhargrove.com

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Update

April 25th, 2013

This blog has been neglected as I ventured into other blogging mediums which also have not flourished. Mostly I’ve had luck with microblogging on Twitter, but I’ll be working more on the website in the future.

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FERAL is now available.

September 29th, 2012

FERAL, Book Five of The World of Godsland fantasy series, is now available.

FERAL

Reeling from the loss of the Regent dragons and her son to the black armies, Catrin Volker can take no more. Armed with power never before seen on Godsland, she goes in search of her son and her enemies. May the gods have mercy on those who stand in her way.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

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Guest Blog Post from Ty Johnston

November 15th, 2011

Ghosts of the Asylum

Fantasy author Ty Johnston’s blog tour 2011 is running from November 1 through November 30. His novels include City of Rogues, Bayne’s Climb and More than Kin, all of which are available for the Kindle, the Nook and online at Smashwords . His latest novel, Ghosts of the Asylum, will be available for e-books on November 21. To find out more, follow him at his blog tyjohnston.blogspot.com.

I’d like to talk about what I hope readers will take away from my writings, and tied in with that, what I hope to accomplish with my writing.

First, as a writer, I have to come to some conclusions as to what interests readers, what draws them in, what makes readers generally approve of a novel or short story. Looking at it from strictly a business angle, a writer can study the markets and various online surveys, the bestseller lists, etc. Practical, yes, but somewhat cold. Another way to try to find out what interests readers is for the writer to look inward, to decide upon what he or she likes as a reader, because writers are readers, too, or at least they should be.

In my case, I vary in my literary interests, but I also tend to be drawn to particular genres more than others. I enjoy epic fantasy literature as well as horror. When a particular mood hits me, I enjoy classics and literary works. Historical fiction can also draw me in, if it is fairly accurate.

But beyond genre, what do I look for in my fiction reading. When I sit and ponder it, I find I enjoy a little action and adventure, as well as some intrigue. In darker tales, I often like the building of tension. In literary works, I prefer less escapism and more exploration. Exploration of what? Of the outside world as well as our inner worlds, of our thoughts and hopes and dreams but also our philosophies.

A mixture of all the elements I enjoy in fiction are what I try to bring to my own writing. I shoot for some action and adventure, with a touch of intrigue. I work to build tension, especially in my darker stories. And I try to give a brief look into our humanity, all elements of our humanity, though I hope not to be too heavy with this.

A reader might look at much of my epic fantasy works and ask, “Uh, where is this ‘look into our humanity’ you were talking about?” It’s there, though you might have to go searching for it. I use my characters to explore and discover different ways of thinking, different ways of looking at the world. I don’t mean anything snobby by this, just that it’s something I enjoy in my writing.

To go a little deeper, I tend to follow the views of late author John Gardner concerning heroes. In Gardner’s opinion, heroes were meant to be moral examples to humanity. That viewpoint might seem overly simplistic to some of today’s readers, but as a writer I find it a good starting point. I find interest in taking Gardner’s basic idea of a moral hero and twisting it some here and there. I’m not necessarily trying for an anti-hero, nor am I seeking to make a villain into a heroic figure, but I do find possibilities in walking the razor’s edge between what is heroic and what crosses the line. All of this is one of the reasons my heroes are sometimes brutal while some of my villains can have positive aspects in their character.

My horror writing takes a very different path. Usually when I’m writing horror, I am trying to build a particular mood, this mood allowing me to study the darker elements of humanity in all its forms. Also, often I’m just trying to make myself giggle in the middle of the night while writing alone in a darkened room. When I write horror, I don’t usually go for the gore factor, but I do find humor sometimes in the devilishly vile.

So, serious and silly alike, those are some of the elements I try to bring to my fiction writing. Do I sometimes fail? Yes, I’m sure I do. Often I know when I’ve failed, and I try to make sure readers never see such material, at least until I can repair it. Other times? Well, if I fail, it is up for the reader to decide, and I only blame myself. On the other hand, a writer can not always please every reader, and it would be impossible to try and do so. I try to write what interests me, and I hope it will interest others, because it is the readers who are truly important at the end of the day.


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Read an eBook Week

March 6th, 2011

To celebrate Read an eBook Week (3/6/2011 - 3/12/2011), you can get all of my eBooks, and a lot of others, free at Smashwords.

My eBooks at Smashwords

Including my latest short story: Redtooth


Redtooth Cover Art

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What makes a compelling villain?

The following is a guest post by Urban Fantasy author Emmett Spain. You can check out his novel Old Haunts here

Having watched a copious amount of films and read a few hundred books in my 30 years on this planet, I have read/seen some absolute shockers, been compelled and terrified by the best of the worst, and endured a great deal that were more ho-hum than horrifying. And when you see that many, you start to notice some fairly obvious commonalities.

Let’s start with the scene where the villain gets introduced.

You’ve seen it before. The obligatory bad guy torturing or killing someone. The expository philosophical rant that comes before torturing or killing someone. Action movies thrive on this kind of scene in particular, and one suspects they’ll never entirely grow out of it.

For example, I saw “The Losers” recently, and watched another of these obligatory scenes. They tried to mix it up with the bad guy having an “I’m so laidback and ironic in the face of evil deeds that I’m totally cool” attitude, but sadly the performance fell flatter than a pancake dropped from a 30 storey building.

Now look at two of the villain introductions that really, really work.

Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal Lecter is slowly revealed, standing still and statuesque behind fibreglass.

The Dark Knight. The Joker wreaks murderous havoc in a bank, then slips off his mask for a massive close-up as he mutters in his twisted drawl, “Whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you… stranger.”

So we have two ways of setting up a villain - one with quiet poise and the other with wilful chaos. Both are hugely effective. But what really makes them work?

To find out, we need to go back a step.

In both instances the villains are mentioned before we meet them, and both times there is a sense of reverence toward them, as though they are each figures of legend to be feared and revered. Lecter we are told is a very dangerous man, and before we wind our way through to his lonely little cell we hear of his atrocities, his tendencies, and the danger he represents. These words are like salt on our palettes, kindling our appetites.

Why is that?

Because there is a part of every person that is curious, that wants to solve the mysteries of life, however small or large they may be. It’s those mysteries that keep us interested, that keep us reading or watching or paying attention. Setting up a character in hushed or reverent tones makes us eager to see them for ourselves. We want to solve the mystery.

On another level, a deeper level, there is a part of us that wants to reach out and touch the darkness, to be sickened and enthralled by the possibilities that lie within that infinite void of the soul. These characters represent a safe way to explore that darkness – a morally free way we might explore the urges buried within our collective psyches.

Does the Dark Knight take the same approach as Silence of the Lambs with the Joker? Think of the great establishing line relating to the Joker’s makeup.

“Makeup?”
“Yeah, you know. To scare his enemies. War paint.”

Of course, the Joker’s legacy followed him into the film, so I can understand the argument that the character was set up long before audiences entered the cinema. But this only serves to enforce the overall point – if you set up your villain properly before we meet them, then you can have them produce a lasting impression on readers/viewers without the need for torture scenes or pompous soliloquies.

Think of your favourite villain from books. Were they set up well before you met them?

In my novel Old Haunts I took a similar tack—I built up the idea of one of the key villains before I introduced him. Threaded throughout the novel are snippets of information regarding the vampire’s previous interactions with the characters, and their fear at the idea of running into him again. With this built throughout the novel the character has a presence before we meet him… and when we do it’s as cinematic as possible:

The archway curtain fluttered once more, revealing a hunching man draped in loose hanging rags. He looked tired, greasy, unwashed. His cheeks were sharp and sunken, his eyes deep and sad-looking. Around his eyes were dark, purplish circles that offset his pale skin. His short, roughly shaven brown hair was matted with blood and dirt, as were the patches of bare flesh exposed through the rags he wore. I spotted dark clusters of bruises at his ribs, and identical pale scars at both wrists that may or may not have been self inflicted.

He looked beaten and fragile, like a wounded animal in need of shelter and care. Yet when his sad eyes spotted the trio of vampires ahead of him, I registered a reaction from them I did not expect. Fear. In their eyes, in the way they stopped moving, utterly and completely. They were afraid of him. The man’s expression had not changed, had not come over menacing or dark in any way. He just looked at them, sad eyes regarding them with a pitiful, wounded expression. I watched as most of the vamps slowly backed away, making their way off the upper tier and toward the exit. The man turned to me and lifted his head, his brows knitting together in a pleading expression.

As his back straightened with a wince of pain, my heart fell into my stomach.

Around the man’s neck was a collar of metallic silk, an alloy pliable as fabric but hard as Kevlar. It’s the alloy of choice for mystical types—or at least it is for those who can afford it. It’s most often used as a focus for binding spells, to create a barrier that is strong yet malleable, but this … I had never seen anything like it. It wasn’t latched against his neck, wasn’t held in place by any sort of fastening or catch. At either side of the collar were small, dark holes in his neck where the alloy was sewn into his skin, leaving the surrounding flesh blackened and dry. I looked up from the collar and into the man’s pleading eyes. He looked to me for relief, for safety. To be taken away from this place, from this life. He looked at me with the desperate eyes of a man who wanted to die.

I watched as the metallic collar shimmered from dark grey to bright, reflective silver, as the metallic thread sewn into his skin tightened as if pulled upon. The man winced and keened, his neck and body stiffening as he knelt to the floor. As he settled into the ground I noticed a second shimmer in the doorway, and spotted a similar piece of metallic silk strapped to the wrist of a tall, middle-aged man wearing grey suit pants, leather shoes, and a black button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled to the elbows. The alloy was not sewn into his skin but loosely clasped, and as he very slightly tilted his fist the shimmering stopped as if by command, and the collar at the kneeling man’s neck loosened ever so slightly.

As he stepped forward, the curtain of shadow that concealed his features peeled back up his arm, then slowly over his chest and head, revealing his face to my eyes.

The Vampire.

Sound good?

Old Haunts is available now.

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Free Audio Book - Dragon Ore

September 8th, 2009

Dragon Ore, the exciting conclusion of The Dawning of Power trilogy, is now available as a free audiobook. It is also available on Podiobooks.com, iTunes, and Zune Marketplace.

Dragon Ore free audiobook

Download Dragon Ore - free audio book

If you haven’t listened to Book One: Call of the Herald yet, get it here

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Inherited Danger, Book Two of The Dawning of Power trilogy is now available as a free audio book, which is read by the author. This audio book will soon be available on Podiobooks.com and iTunes.

Inherited Danger free audiobook


Download Inherited Danger - free audio book

You can also check out the maps here

If you haven’t listened to Book One: Call of the Herald yet, get it here

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Call of the Herald, Book one of The Dawning of Power trilogy is now available as a free audio book, which is read by the author.

Audio book versions of Inherited Danger and Dragon Ore will be available in the near future!

Call of the Herald free audiobook

Download Call of the Herald - free audio book

You can also check out the maps here

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Tia Nevitt has been kind enough to feature The Dawning of Power on her Fantasy Debut blog. Thanks Tia!


 

You can check it out here:

http://fantasydebut.blogspot.com/2009/02/discovery-showcase-dawning-of-power.html

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iPhone and iPod Touch users can now purchase The Dawning of Power eBook directly through the iTunes AppStore for only $7.99.

Link to iTunes App Store

The Dawning of Power iPhone App Screenshot

New fantasy fiction delivered through the latest technologies.

MobiPocket, Kindle, and PDF versions available as well.

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If you need to add Code39 (3 of 9) barcodes to your Crystal Reports or any other document, click the link below:

http://www.brianrathbone.com/wordpress/how-to-add-barcodes-to-crystal-reports-for-free/

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Kindle owners can get The Dawning of Power from the link below.

The Dawning of Power (The World of Godsland)


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The Dawning of Power eBook is now available for $7.99 at Mobipocket.com and other eBook retailers. You can get your copy here:

The Dawning of Power eBook

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Wordpress is a powerful blogging platform in its native form, but with some plugins and tweaking, you can really make your blog kick butt. Here are 10 ways to make your Wordpress blog better:

1. Make it fast! - Wordpress is dynamic and database driven. This is great except when you get a massive wave of traffic. Generating a dynamic page takes resources, and your web server can easily get overwhelmed. Nobody likes a slow loading site. The solution is to use a plugin that will cache your dynamic pages to static html and then only update them on a periodic basis. This will greatly reduce page load times and will increase the amount of load your Wordpress site can handle. I use WP Super Cache.

2. Provide a static home page. Blogs are great, but they don’t always make great homepages. Recent versions of Wordpress added the ability to assign a static front page. Just create your page in Wordpress, then click Settings and then Reading. On the Reading Settings page, select a static page for Front Page Displays. Now Wordpress can serve as a traditional website AND a blog!

3. Make it search engine friendly. Enable permalinks (Settings / Permalinks) and change the Common Settings to use Day and Name. Use a Wordpress SEO plugin. I use All in One SEO. Use Google Webmaster tools to identify any problems, especially duplicate content and duplicate META tags. Use your keywords in your page and post titles. Submit site maps to popular search engines. I use the Google XML Sitemaps plugin to create my sitemaps.

4. Encourage your readers to contact you. Avoid using mailto: links as contact links. Many people do not use mail clients any more, and mailto: links only confuse webmail users. A better solution is to use a contact form. Several Wordpress plugins exist for this purpose, but I use Enhanced WP-ContactForm.

5. Allow readers to subscribe to comments. You can bring your readers back to your site if they know when you or someone else has commented on a post that they have subscribed to. I use the Subscribe To Comments plugin.

6. Make it easy for readers to share your site with others. I use the WP-EMail plugin to make it easy for readers to email my pages and posts to their friends. I also use the Add Me Dichev plugin to provide social bookmark buttons (including Digg and Facebook) at the end of each post.

7. Use Feedburner to your advantage. Though Wordpress offers RSS2 support by default, it’s hard to beat the features Feedburner brings to the table. Once you create a Feedburner feed for your site, your can use the FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin to redirect your RSS2 feed to your new Feedburner feed. When this is done, you can add high-profile links where readers can subscribe via an RSS reader or even by email! Now that’s powerful. Also be sure to set up ping sites in Feedburner so content syndications sites will be notified when you post new content.

8. Make it easy for readers to link back to you. I use the Link to Me Textbox plugin to provide preformatted HTML links that readers can copy and paste into their own sites.

9. Tweet your blog posts. Twitter is gaining popularity, and the Twitter updater plugin automatically updates Twitter as you work on your blog. With a little work, you can then push these updates from Twitter to Facebook, MySpace and other sites.

10. If you offer files for download (and you should offer a free download of some sort), then you can use the Wordpress Download Monitor plugin to create your downloads, manage download pages and catagories, and you and your readers can see what’s popular based on how many times items have been downloaded.

Now go trick your blog!

Did you find this information helpful? I’d love to hear what other Wordpress users think of these tips.

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*NOTE* The date for this event has been changed. Sorry for the inconvenience.

On Tuesday, December 9th, I will be signing copies of The Dawning of Power at Fireside Books and Gifts in Forest City, NC from 5pm to 7pm.

If you’ve never been to Fireside Books, this would be a great opportunity to check out a wonderful local book store and to chat with me. I hope to see you there!

Brian

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I have posted some free fantasy artwork for download.

You can find more information here:

http://www.brianrathbone.com/wordpress/free-fantasy-art

or you can download the zip file here:

Free-Fantasy-Art.zip

If you like these, and you would like me to post the layered Photoshop files, just send me an email or leave a comment.

These two are my favorites:

Free Fantasy Image 5

Free Fantasy Image 8

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Free Fantasy Avatars - I like to dabble in graphic art, and I’ve decided to give away some of my creations. You may use these in any way that you would like. If you are willing to link back to this site, that will be appreciated.

Download Free Fantasy Avatars Pack 1

Free Fantasy Avatars Pack 1 Preview:

Free Fantasy Avatars Pack 1 Preview


Thanks for checking out Free Fantasy Avatars Pack 1. Be sure to check back. I may add more in the future.

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The Quiet Giant

October 6th, 2008

Out of the house, across the yard and a patch of stonedust and we were there. Poppop’s barn. Inside waited a bizarre but familiar mixture of smells: freshly shaken straw, sweet-feed, coffee and the smell of one of Mommom’s homemade cakes.
On an old trunk he sat quietly, a glowering giant with nary a word to say. He didn’t look up; instead, he just opened his thermos and poured some coffee into the cap. Brad and I waited, sometimes quietly, sometimes patiently, but rarely both. Either way, Poppop always did the same thing. After rooting around in his thermos-case and pretending that he couldn’t find anything, he’d pull out a nicely wrapped piece of cake. It was one of the rare occasions when the quiet-giant spoke, “Here, kitty kitty.”

The barn cats were rarely far away, and they never missed a chance to get the little crumbs of cake he tossed to them. Brad and I would wait our turn. When he thought we’d shown sufficient patience, he would turn to us as straightfaced as ever. We’d just grin back and wait for him to hand us the other pieces of cake mysteriously waiting in his thermos-case.

His breaks didn’t last long, and he’d soon be busy with the business of training standarbreds. With a steady and quiet hand, he worked his art. He’d spend much of his day in a jogcart, circling the half-mile training track. When Brad and I were small, he’d let one of us sit on his lap, but as we got older things changed. One day we came out to find that he’d bolted a board to the back of one of the jogcarts, which created a place for Brad to sit on one side and for me to sit on the other. We’d ride around for hours while Poppop half-hummed, half-sang the same tune, “Ei dee di, ei dee di.”

As time passed, Poppop began letting us drive while he sat on the board; it was fun, and, at times, terrifying, but there was something about connecting with the horse, communicating through the leather lines. The sound of hooves on stonedust, the feeling of gliding and bouncing along, birds singing from the hedgerows, and rabbits darting through the fields made it seem almost magical at times.

It was during one of those times that I was driving; Poppop rode silently on the board. I counted off each lap, knowing we were supposed to go five miles. I was proud that Poppop let me drive, but I wondered if I really had what it took, if I was ready. Brad was older, better, and seemed to have a natural skill with the horses. I spent a good amount of my time just trying to avoid being bitten or stepped on. When I reached the tenth lap, I knew it was time to turn the lines back over to Poppop; walking the horse from the track to the barn required more skill than did jogging around the track. But when I turned, he was gone, his decision already made.

I slowed the horse and looked around, but I saw no one. I was on my own. As I made the turn and slowly walked the horse up the curving path, past tractors and fenclines, I was filled with a mixture of fear and pride. I approached my grandfather’s barn determined to prove he’d been right. I’d seen horses balk at the barn door, refusing to go from light to dark, as if there were some invisible barrier, but I got lucky and the horse simply walked in and stopped at the first set of crossties.

I climbed from the seat, hung the lines, and helped get the horse unhooked. Poppop moved with practiced precision and led the horse into the wash-stall. He never said a word about it. There was no need. I knew.

Wilbert Rathbone and Boot Key

I’m glad to have pictures like this one. Thanks to Brad for scanning them.

<Added Pictures. See comments>

Weary Don at Brandywine

Weary Don at Brandywine

I’m chillin’ with Darth Vader, and Laurie is strutting her short shorts.

Wee Janel at Cowtown

Short Shorts rule, and leave it to me to hog the spotlight only to suddenly realize I’ve eaten something I shouldn’t. Note Jeremy levitating in the back.

Deep Hollow Lady at Capitol Hill Farms

The Dozer at Brandywine

The Dozer at Brandywine

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Haunted Hickory

October 6th, 2008

I’ve always found the paranormal intriguing, and when I heard a paranormal convention was taking place in Hickory, NC, it seemed like a fun way for Tracey and I to spend a Saturday.

After some interesting presentations and lectures, we split up into groups and investigated the school buildings known as the Salt Block. It seemed a good place to do our first ghost hunt, since the buildings are well maintained and not creepy at all.

Teamed up with Shannon Sylvia from Ghost Hunters International, her husband, Patrick Burns, and Eric Singleton, our group began our investigation. There were a couple times when the building made old building noises, but things were otherwise pretty quiet. After filming a single green light on a K2 meter for 30 minutes, I began to think we were going to have an uneventful evening. When we moved to the auditorium, things did get interesting . . .

Eric had been with us all along, and his walkie-talkie had been behaving itself, but it started occassionally issuing bursts of static once we settled in the auditorium. As we did an EVP session, the static grew more frequent until it could no longer be ignored. Oddly, it rarely occurred when someone was speaking, and seemed to almost be happening in response to our questions. What ensued was an interesting and thought provoking bout of Q and A with a walkie-talkie.

If you are interested, I have posted audio I captured in the auditorium. This audio was captured on a miniDV camcorder that was placed in an empty seat. The audio is relatively quiet, so I amplified it. You may notice some spots where the audio has been quieted. These are places where I was speaking close to microphone, and I didn’t want it to blow anyone’s ears out. Other than that, this audio is pretty much straight off the DV camera.

While I can’t say this is evidence of paranormal activity at the Salt Block, it certainly was an interesting experience.

Haunted Hickory

 
icon for podpress  Haunted Hickory Ghost Hunt: Play Now | Play in Popup

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The Legend of ChickChick

July 20th, 2008

There once was a rooster. He was good rooster. I wrote a story about him, and though we don’t see him any more, we still hear the calls of his descendants in the woods.

ChickChick

A Rooster’s Tale

Several years ago, my wife and I moved to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. The variety of wildlife that visits our back yard has been a constant source of excitement and intrigue. Still, I was surprised and a bit skeptical when my wife told me that she had seen a chicken in the driveway.

I laughed and told her that it was probably a wild turkey or pheasant, but as it turns out, she was right. A poor bedraggled soul of a chicken sought refuge in the tranquility of our back yard. He was shy at first and would run away whenever we emerged from the house, but over time he became friendly–I suspect it had something to do with the corn and fresh water we produced.

We didn’t want to become too attached to our new feathered-friend, and we simply referred to him as “Chick Chick”. Quite imaginative, eh?

It was a pleasant and amusing surprise when Chick Chick decided to stay with us for the winter. He spent much of his time on our back porch, sleeping on the welcome mat–much to the chagrin of our two indoor cats. He would even tap on the glass door with his beak when we were late delivering his breakfast; this was later replaced by his clarion call from our welcome mat.

One day, in early spring, I noticed something running around the yard. I looked out to see one of the neighborhood cats chasing Chick Chick. I shooed the cat gently from the yard and stood for a moment enjoying the day. Chick Chick wandered around aimlessly, and all seemed well. A moment later, though, a large red-tailed hawk swooped through the air, barely missing its prey–Chick Chick. The hawk perched in a nearby tree, and I shooed it away as well. Chick Chick cowered behind me and followed me as I walked. I couldn’t blame him; it had been a rough day.

Chick Chick became part of our daily lives and never ceased to entertain us, and it surprised us both that we could enjoy his company so much. His place in our lives became even more apparent when he disappeared. No note, no long goodbyes, he was just plain gone.

After several weeks, we began to give up the hope that our beloved Chick Chick would ever return. I tried to convince my wife that he had run off with the circus, or that maybe he had found himself a hen. Despite her characteristic optimism, she feared the worst, and we shared a moment of silence in Chick Chick’s memory.

When three months had passed, I no longer looked for Chick Chick in the woods, nor did I expect to see him when I walked by the door. I was startled when I noticed several large, dark shapes darting around the yard. At first, I could not tell what kind of creatures they were, but then I got a better look. They were baby chickens–five of them. I thought for a moment that a local farm must have had an escape, but then I saw something that brought tears to my eyes–Chick Chick!

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and I wasn’t absolutely certain that this chicken was THE chicken, so I ran into the garage and grabbed a cup of corn. When I shook the cup and called for him, Chick Chick came a running, clucking happily all the way. It was a joyous reunion, and I was thrilled to give my wife the good news.

Chick Chick and his hen bring the family by for some corn and fresh water just about every day; each visit warms our hearts and lightens our souls. It is nice to realize that sometimes those silly things we tell ourselves when faced with grim possibilities, can actually be true.

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My Podcasting Rig

July 20th, 2008

One of the first questions a budding podcaster is faced with is what equipment to buy. There are a few budget rigs that others have spec’d out, but I decided to try my own combination.

Microphone: Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone

Shockmount: Heil SM2 - Champagne Finish Spider Shock Mount

Firewire interface: Yamaha GO46 Mobile Audio Solution

Recordings done on Apple Powerbook G4 using Garageband (packed with as much RAM as it’ll hold)

Editing done on Windows PC using Audacity

For intro, outro, and scene breaks I use a Yamaha MIDI keyboard that I’ve had for many years. It’s a YPP-15

Add a Mic Stand, Pop Filter, and XLR Microphone Cable and you’re ready to record.

I still need to do some additional soundproofing, but it’s all working well so far.

When it comes time to put my podcast on the web, I use the wonderful Podpress plugin by Dan Kuykendall at MightySeek

Podpress is a plugin for the popular WordPress blogging system

Have fun podcasting!


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Ruby throated hummingbirds

July 19th, 2008

This video was shot on my back porch. We have several feeders, but this one has always been in a favorite spot.

 
icon for podpress  Ruby throated hummingbirds: Play Now | Play in Popup

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Beyond the Veil is a short story I wrote a while back. It’s quite different from my novels, but it seemed like a good way to test out my podcasting rig and get some practice. Comments are welcome.

Brian

You can download the PDF version here:

Beyond the Veil PDF

Audio short story below:

Duration: 28 minutes

Download size: 68MB

Download MP3

or click play button below to listen now.

 
icon for podpress  Beyond the Veil: Play Now | Play in Popup

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I’m off to finish setting up the new website.

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