Posts Tagged With: novel

Wings of Twilight – An Excerpt

Below is a short scene showing the drak twins, Kale and Delilah heading off to do what they think is a mundane job. Naturally, it wouldn’t make good drama if it really was mundane. Think of the oroqs as similar to the Uruk-hai in Lord of the Rings, though their physical appearance differs slightly. I apologize for the formatting; my knowledge of HTML is rudimentary. I guess there’s a reason most web pages don’t indent the first line of paragraphs.

“Kale, help me!” Delilah reached out for her brother as the drak twins traversed the Finger Streams in the lower caverns. The Finger Streams were a series of seven parallel-running streams that crossed Dagger Pass, a minor thoroughfare in the secret rear areas of Twilight Dungeon. The streams were formed by runoff of melting snow from the volcano’s peak which flowed through dormant lava tubes. They were often used as a short-cut to get from the front sections of the dungeon to the deep sections. If one could navigate the difficult terrain, one could save nearly an hour travel time.

Kale rolled his eyes and grabbed his sister’s hand and helped her hop across the fifth of the seven streams. He hopped over the sixth one and yanked on her as she landed which caused her to stumble and step ankle-deep into it. She shrieked and hopped back and shook the chilly water off her clawed foot.

“You ass!”

“Come on, Deli, it’s only water.” Deli was Kale’s nickname for Delilah, and he was the only one who got away with calling her that.

“But now my foot’s wet!”

“Hurry up!” Kale jumped over the last stream and ran for the passageway that led out of Dagger Pass. He adjusted his belt and pouches as he ran and checked to make sure his daggers were still in their sheaths. They weren’t running late, as such, but after stopping back at the barracks to pick up their gear, he wanted to get to the Deep Road Gate as quickly as possible. When working on the traps at the front entrance to the dungeon, the twins brought little with them, but when trekking to the lower reaches, it was important to be prepared for anything, especially dwarves who might stray too far from Deep Road and accidentally stumble across the Deep Road Gate.

He heard Delilah curse as she jumped the last stream. She wasn’t as good of a jumper as Kale, but it wasn’t like a little water would hurt her. She caught up to him as the passage narrowed and curved as it began a downgrade. The little bits of bone and feathers on her harness rattled, and the bottom of her staff occasionally scraped the ground as they ran.

“It’s just a little further, Deli.” Kale gasped as he picked up the pace. “Just think, we’ll get this done, and then we have the whole rest of the day!” The thought of not having any work to do in the afternoon was enough of an incentive for Delilah and she started to overtake Kale. He laughed and looked over at his sister. She flashed him a toothy grin and thrust her staff between his legs which sent him tumbling.

Kale fell to the ground, the breath knocked out him. He looked up to see his sister’s feet disappear as she rounded the corner. He heard her call back to him. “See you there, brother!” He gasped and pulled himself up. Pain shot up from his left ankle.

“Damn.” He winced and grasped the tender area. It didn’t seem like it was broken, but it was going to be sore for a while. It hurt to run, but he could manage a brisk jog. By the time he made it to the Deep Road Gate, Delilah was already sitting atop one of the lightning cannons and was peering into the hatch.

The lightning cannons were one of the first-line defenses of the Deep Road Gate. They were similar to traditional cannons, except where the barrel would be, ten metal rods protruded. A hatch opened the breech of the lightning cannon which allowed access to the magical elements that generated the lighting and projected it through the rods and into whomever the cannons were pointed.

The oroqs stationed at the gate jeered as Kale limped past them. He wasn’t sure what all they called him; his grasp of the oroq language was shaky at best, but he was sure they not only called into question his relationship with his sister, but also his masculinity and his culinary habits. He ignored them and squatted down by the cannon’s wheels, pulling his wrapped tools out of his pouch and unrolled them onto the ground beside him.

“Took you long enough.” Delilah arched her leg and wiggled her toes in his face. “I thought you wanted to finish early.”

“I’m pretty sure you sprained my ankle tripping me like that.” He shoved her foot out of his face.

“Awww.” She leaned over and stuck her tongue out at him before sticking her hand in the breech. “Really?”

“Yes, really. It hurts, Deli.”

She looked down on him and frowned. “I’m sorry, Kale. I just wanted to win. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Kale looked up at his sister. He couldn’t see any mockery in her face. He smacked the bottom of her foot and shrugged. “It’s okay. It’ll probably be better by tomorrow.”

Delilah offered him an encouraging smile before turning back to the cannon’s breech. She rattled something around inside it. “I think the oroqs have been shooting at shadows again. How long has it been since we worked on these cannons?”

Tightening the bolts on the trunnions, the parts attaching the cannon to the carriage, Kale grunted. “About two weeks, I think.”

“Have we fought off any dwarven invasions in that time?”

Kale shook his head. “We raided a caravan hauling booze, but that’s about it I think.”

Delilah leapt down and marched over to the nearest oroq. She poked him in the chest with the skull-capped top of her staff. “Now listen. Stop shooting these things off at every little cave lizard and bat that dislodges a pebble.”

The oroq shoved the top of her staff away. “You don’t look like our guard captain, little lizard.”

Delilah scowled and tapped the butt of her staff against the ground and growled. “Ophayra!” A ball of fire appeared in her hand, and her eyes sparkled and glowed blue with the build-up of magic. The color of magic could tell a person a lot of about the individual using the magic. The magic of the pure of heart, what the peasantry would consider “good”, tended to be shades of green. Wicked, cruel sorcerers’ magic tended to be tinged with harsh red tones. Those who lived with a balance in their life, like Delilah, tended to draw their magic in shades of blue.

Clearing his throat, Kale warned her. “Deli, play nice.” The oroqs around the gate murmured, some drawing their weapons, some making a point of ignoring the display.

The oroq drew his sword and assumed a defensive stance as Delilah threw the fiery ball at his feet. It exploded and threw him back toward the gate and showered the area with steaming dirt.

“I shouldn’t have to remind you cretins that we’re Twilight Defenders.” Delilah shouted, muttering “Ophayra” under her breath, conjuring a second ball of fire. The oroqs put away their weapons. They had no respect for draks, but they knew any one of the Twilight Defenders could have them executed for insubordination, or worse, sent to the front area of the dungeon to fight with the goblins.

Delilah looked at each of the oroqs in turn until they averted their gazes from hers. The one she blasted picked himself up off the ground. He brushed the dirt off himself, picked up his sword, sheathed it and grumbled to himself as he walked away.

Eshfanite.” The ball of fire Delilah conjured disappeared in a puff of smoke. The sparkling glow in her eyes faded as she climbed back onto the cannon. She stuck her hand in the breech and yanked on the mechanism until a cracked crystal came out. She threw it, and the crystal bounced off Kale’s leg before it rested on the ground.

“Cool it, Deli.” Kale reached up and grabbed her foot. He gave it a squeeze. “Let’s get this job done and go get a few drinks.”

She tossed out another crystal, this time, to the side of the cannon on which Kale wasn’t working. She reached into one of her pouches and pulled out two crystals and peered at them, and then held them up so they would catch some of the light from the lanterns near the gate.

“I’m fine, Kale.” She shoved the crystals in the mechanism and wiggled them around until a faint click echoed in the breech.

Kale looked up. The click seemed too deep. In fact, it didn’t seem to come from within the cannon at all. He looked around, noticing that some of the oroqs near the gate seemed restless.

“Did you hear…?” He trailed off as another thump echoed through the gate’s cavern.


“That wasn’t me,” Delilah whispered, sliding off the cannon.

Thooom. Thooom.

Kale strained to listen. Even the oroqs were silent. Then he heard it, leather boots on rock. Rhythmic. Marching.

“Dwarves.” Delilah closed the hatch on the cannon’s breech and waved to the oroqs to come and move it back in position.

“Shit.” Kale rolled up his tools and shoved them back in his pouch.

“Go get Sarvesh and the team, Kale!” Delilah ran up to him as the oroqs wheeled the cannon back up to its firing port near the gate. The twin steel doors of the gate shuddered under impact. Dust and rocks rained down from the cavern’s ceiling.

Kale shook his head and limped up to the firing port. He could barely make out the eyes of scores of dwarves, glowing in the dark, their superior night vision causing them to reflect what little light from the gate’s lanterns escaped.

“I can’t move fast, Deli. You’ll have to go.”

Delilah ran up to Kale and tugged at his belt. “I can help the oroqs with my magic. You need to go. You’re hurt.”

He shoved her away. “I’m telling you, I’ll never get there in time. Go! There’s no time to argue. This isn’t just scout party.” We shouldn’t have nicked their booze.

Delilah turned and ran.

Categories: Wings of Twilight | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

My Characters Do Things Unexpectedly

Before I fancied myself a writer, I read about authors saying things like their characters took their story in unexpected directions, or their characters constantly surprise them. I thought, “Yeah, right. You WROTE them, how could you be surprised by something a character you wrote did?” It seemed very silly to me.

Then, I sat down and really started to write. Sure, there were pithy little short stories at first, but I mean really write. This was destined to be a novel-length manuscript. Then, I understood. When you get into the mind of a character and try to write naturally about what that person would do, it can surprise you. I look back at the notes I took regarding a sequel to Wings of Twilight when I was about halfway through writing the first draft and it makes me laugh. I have plans for characters that didn’t even survive the first book! I’m not going to bring them back, I just didn’t plan to kill them off at that time.

Of course, one makes all sorts of plans for their characters, then during the course of writing, you realize you need sacrificial lambs to amp up the drama, or to make the threat to your protagonists seem real. So, they become Red Shirts, as it were. The real surprise is when a character’s development goes off in a direction you didn’t anticipate when you first started planning the story, but when you go back and look at it closely, it makes perfect sense for that character as you’ve presented them. If you force them back on the path you originally intended, it can seem forced or even out-of-character at that point.

Categories: Wings of Twilight, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Character Artwork

I must say, I have been continually impressed by Char Reed’s depictions of the characters in Wings of Twilight. You have to view the images at their full size to fully appreciate of the use of texture in the images. In particular, take a close look at Lorelei’s clothing or at Strom’s armor. I just noticed how detailed they were today, and I am just amazed.

Of course, I’m sure some people think it’s probably a waste of money to commission this artwork just so I can plug my book on my website, but I may try to include them in the electronic versions of the books. Kindle readers won’t get to see them in their full glory, unfortunately, but the greyscale renditions should be quite impressive, still. Unfortunately, at this point, it looks like I won’t be able to include these gorgeous images in the print version, at least, not in color. Since I cannot afford to print the book ahead of time in mass quantities, it is cost prohibitive to offer Wings of Twilight through CreateSpace and in color. I’d have to charge more than $35 a copy to break even, and it still would not have a hard cover.

But, at the very least, you will still be able to see the artwork here.

Categories: Calliome, Wings of Twilight | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Character Sneak Preview! Lord Strom Lightbringer

Lord Strom Lightbringer is man of humble origins who has taken on the mantle of crusader. He fights against injustice and wickedness where ever he encounters it, claiming it is the will of Tinian, King of the Gods, that he personally stamp out evil in the world. He believes he can only trust and rely on himself, eschewing even a horse to aid in his travels, he does maintain a small entourage of companions, though, they do not all share his zeal.

Artwork by Char Reed.

Categories: Calliome, Wings of Twilight | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Character Sneak Preview! Tasha Galperin

Tasha Galperin is a sorceress from a small town in Etrunia on the continent of Andelosia. In the world of Calliome, practitioners of the arcane arts require some sort of focus for their magic, be it a staff, talisman, wand, etc. Their magic manifests itself in colors related to their outlook, typically green, red or blue. Tasha is a practical woman, focused on her magic, but feels there is something missing in her life. She admires her friend Lorelei’s spirituality and hope to learn from her during their travels together. Read more of Tasha’s story in Wings of Twilight, coming this fall to e-readers and in print.

Artwork by Char Reed.

Categories: Calliome, Wings of Twilight | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Character Sneak Preview! Lorelei Aldanae

Lorelei AldanaeLorelei Aldranae is an elven mystic from Raven’s Forest. She, like most fae, feels a deep spiritual connection with the world, Calliome, and is a worshipper of Gaia, the Earth Mother. After leaving home, she has dedicated her life to learning about the connections between the mortal world of Calliome and the fae realm. Read more about her adventures in Wings of Twilight, coming to e-readers and print this fall!

Artwork by Char Reed.

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Character Sneak Preview! Marshal Sarvesh

What’s this guy’s story? Well, this is Marshal Sarvesh. Marshal is his title, by the way, not his name. There’s a place in the Dragon Spine Mountains, near the dwarven city of Ironkrag, called Twilight Dungeon. It’s a nasty place. No one knows the exact nature of the place because no one who goes there comes back. There aren’t any stories about it because of that. People know it exists, but that’s all they know about it. His story, well, you’ll have to read Wings of Twilight to get that; I’m certainly not going to spoil anything here.

Artwork by Char Reed. She’s great, check her out!

Categories: Calliome, Wings of Twilight | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The World of Calliome

Calliome is the world in which my fantasy fiction is set. It’s a polytheistic fantasy world with so many influences, I can’t list them all. My first novel, tentatively titled Wings of Twilight is set there. Wings of Twilight is scheduled to be released this fall, probably around November, in the Kindle Store, the Barnes & Noble Nook Store, and in print. But, more on the novel later; this post is about the world in which that story takes place. In some ways, Calliome is a typical fantasy world; there are elves and dwarves, but there are also draks, minotaurs, and gnomes. I’ll start with some of the species that are atypical of most heroic fantasy and work my way down to the species with which you’re probably already familiar. Don’t worry if you don’t have a frame of reference for some of the place names or deity names; those will be covered in future posts.

The world itself was once a virtual paradise, filled with magic and humans and fae freely mingling. Naturally, there are always exceptions to those who are content to live in peace, and a massive cataclysm, the Sundering, rocked the world, shattering it. It was only through the will and sacrifice of Gaia, the Earth Mother and her son Nethuns, god of the sea that kept the pieces of the world from flying apart. For nearly a millenia, the pieces of the world clung together, each piece separated yet bound by the Maelstrom. The faeries fled the world, leaving humans to their fate. The dwarves sealed themselves up in their homes underneath the mountains. To compensate for the diminished magic in the world, humans developed technology to survive, bolstered by what little magic they could muster. Dragons appeared, great fearsome beasts that terrorized the countryside. Eventually, the world was brought together again with the help of a Sky Pirate named Xanos. Wings of Twilight takes place over a thousand years after the Healing, when elves and other fae have started returning to the world. Stories of the Sundering will come at another time.

Draks are small, reptilian humanoids, averaging between 3’ and 4’ in height. Their scales range the color of the rainbow, bright at birth and dulling with age. Stripes are considered an omen by many clans. Both genders have horns. They are close to nature and spend a lot of time studying astronomical and meteorological phenomena. Many draks believe their people are descended from dragons.

Most draks hail from villages in the Dragon Spine Mountains, though there are a few scattered farming settlements in the Etrunian plains and in Vlorey. These draks, for the most part, get along well with their human neighbors, often helping each other in times of drought and famine.

Calliome’s mountains are also home not only to dwarves, but also to a large population of minotaurs. Unlike dwarven communities, though, minotaur communities are small, close-knit and labyrinthine. They are rarely friendly to outsiders and often at war with neighboring dwarves. They have started to make their way down out of the mountains in an attempt to open trade and improve relations with humans and elves, however, and most adventuring minotaurs have such things in mind when they leave their homes and families behind.

While they appreciate the accumulation of wealth and the luxury it can provide (many successful minotaurs will buy golden sheaths for their horns), most minotaurs are more concerned with the accumulation of personal honor and glory. It is not uncommon for them to carry a journal in which they will record their accomplishments.

Minotaurs average between 7’ and 7½’ tall. Covered in fur ranging from white to brown and black, the males sport large horns by the time they’re mature. Females have smaller horns and usually have a mane of hair they arrange in various styles. They walked with digitigrade locomotion on cloven hooves.

Gnomes are diminutive (compared with elves) fae associated with forests and rocks. They are rarely seen in human lands, though a few have made their way to Vlorey. Gnomes have a deeper connection with the world than even elves, and it is a rare gnome that doesn’t worship Gaia (though there are a few more agriculturally-bent gnomish communities that venerate Cybele). Their fae nature and closeness to the natural world gives them an affinity to animals of the forest and rivers. Nearly every forest, river, stream, and lake has at least one clan of gnomes that look after it, though many do so discreetly; their presence barely known to other nearby communities. Females are more likely to seek out adventure than the males, who take their duty to guard the environment around their burrows very seriously.

Gnomes are extremely curious and eager to experience new things and explore new places. Often thought to be related to dwarves, gnomes actually appear closer to shorter elves than dwarves. They’re slight of build and their skin tends to range in earth tones; their hair grows in as much variety as petals on flowers. They use twigs, vines, and flowers for decoration in their hair, with females adorning themselves more than males.

Renowned miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls, dwarves retreated to their underground cities when the world was sundered and did not emerge until several hundred years after the world was healed. Generations of humans lived their whole lives without ever seeing a dwarf, and by the time the world was healed, they were thought to be mythological misunderstandings of extremely short humans.

The truth, of course, is far different. Dwarves are indeed part of the world, and though adventurer dwarves are rarely seen outside of the Underworld, they are known to be tough fighters and stubborn opponents.

Most dwarves seen in Andelosia hail from the trade city of Ironkrag, in the Dragon Spine Mountains. Ironkrag has three major gates: the south gate opens to the trade road that leads to Celtangate, the north gate opens to the trade road that leads to the Western Wastes and Ligurian Desert, and the Underworld Gate that leads to the Deep Road.

The Deep Road winds under the Dragon Spine Mountains and is said can take travelers to other dwarven cities in the Underworld, though no human has made that journey and returned to talk about it; not because it’s dangerous, but because most humans don’t enjoy being underground for a long enough period of time to make the journey.

Dwarven ale is known for being horrible stuff; it’s difficult to brew good ale using only ingredients grown underground. When they can get their hands on surface grown hops, malts, and other grains, they produce beers and ales of unmatched quality. Unfortunately, because of their poor attitude towards humans and other surface-dwellers, they are only rarely able to acquire such ingredients.

The most widely-known and prominent of the fae races that returned to Calliome after the healing of the world, elves play an important part in the day-to-day shape of both Andelosia and Nihonsu. They are very spiritual and most pay homage to Gaia, if not outright worship the Earth Mother. They are very closely connected to the Fae Realm and can detect nexus where the Fae Realm touches the Mortal Realm, and can even pass between the realms at these nexus (only fae can do this).

Elves form friendships quickly and love deeply, though they tend to hold humans at arms’ length due to their shorter lifespan and humans’ prodigious ability to adapt and conquer. After about a thousand years in the mortal realm, they feel compelled to return to the fae realm for the rest of their lives, though how long that is can range from a few centuries to another millennia or more.

They tend to stand about the same height as humans, though of a more slender and delicate build. Elven skin color tends to range in the light blues, lavenders, and light greens; hair ranges from light blues and greens, to silver or white, and even black, but never blonde or brown. On Nihonsu, elves are known as Imperial Elves and have similar skin colors, but darker, and their hair is usually black or white in color.

Categories: Calliome | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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