Rewriting the End

Daniel Carver Peach

Daniel Carver Peach 1963-2003

On July 3, 2003, my youngest brother, Dan, was murdered at the age of 40. He was shot in the eye with a rifle while in his bathroom. The murder was never officially solved, though the circumstances and events that followed make that extremely hard to believe.

I’ve been thinking about Dan lately, partly because his birthday just passed and the anniversary of his death is sneaking up. July 4th is a bittersweet holiday for us – my brother loved fireworks. He was always in charge of explosions on Independence Day.

Then I woke up to another mass shooting in the US. As I listened to the shock and grief of torn-apart families, I connected with that desperate wish that none of it was real, that somehow it wasn’t happening. The suddenness is wrenching – there’s no warning, no last check marks on the bucket lists, no goodbyes, no way to rewrite the story of a life into a gentler ending.

One of my old childhood chums is reading The Sorcerer’s Garden, and I mentioned that the three main characters are based, a bit, on my two brothers and me. In the book, a character named Cody is in a vegetative state after a tragic accident. By way of a magical book, he gets a revised ending and the other characters get closure. When I wrote the book, I was, in a way, rewriting the end of true tale, a real life, my brother’s life.

The Sorcerer’s Gardena (slightly edited) snippet

His arms over his head, Cody stretched the last ache from his side. Morning light brightened the late summer gardens girding the palace. The air carried a hint of coolness, periwinkle blue and free of smoke. He’d traded his king’s blues for the leather breeches and jerkin of a northman despite his intention to head east. He wore a brimmed hat speared with a turkey feather, a fern-green cloak, and tawny silk scarf, the entire ensemble oddly mismatched as if he collected cast-offs from seven different households.

Behind him, a horse packed with gear chomped on his grandmother Lillian’s roses until Harris, the new Captain of the Queen’s Guard, took the reins and led it toward a patch of long grass. Cody nodded his thanks. He traded grips with Hart and kissed Cali and Candice on the cheek, the three survivors of the Guard who’d sworn to protect the princess. He would miss them as much as he already missed Tristan and Kyle, Danion, and Pagan. They had done what they’d vowed to do—saved a queen so she could restore a kingdom. Now, his next adventure called, the one that, not long ago, his grandmother told him needed to wait. The time for waiting had finally come to an end.

He kissed Lillian goodbye, and she smiled. Her silver hair shone in the sunlight and her butter-yellow robe flowed around her feet as she turned to face the fountain. Its perfectly round dream-crystal swirled beneath a glaze of streaming water. The stars and planets, the galaxies of the universe mutated in a kaleidoscope of colors, mysterious and tantalizing. “Your journey awaits you, child. You are finally free.”

“I wouldn’t have missed a moment of it,” he said. “Not a minute. I’ve lived a magnificent life.”

The queen strolled across the lawn, still reliant on Dustin’s arm. With her crown formally bestowed, the task of building a peaceful realm lay squarely on her shoulders. Yet, her first act had been personal, a request that Dustin stand at her side, first as friend and consort, and in time, when the land regained a sense of hope, as husband and king. He accepted, and though he didn’t look particularly regal in his armor and guard’s blues, he wore a ridiculous grin, clearly content in her company.

“All grown up and ready to go,” Dustin said, his arms open for an embrace.

“I never had any plans to grow up,” Cody assured him as they slapped each other’s backs. “But, yes, I’m ready to go. Have been for a while, though first we needed to take that one adventure together. Thank you, Dustin. ”

“I wouldn’t have missed it and have no desire to do it again,” Dustin said as they parted.

“Duty?” Cody asked.

“Choice,” Dustin replied with a smile for the queen.

“Clearly a good one then.”

The queen smirked. “I can order you to stay.”

“I don’t think you actually can.” Cody raised his eyebrows and shook his head.

“I thought you planned to go to sea.” She turned her gaze to Dustin. “Didn’t you once tell me he wished to try his hand as a brigand?”

“I think he expressed desires along those lines.” Dustin laughed.

“Another lifetime.” Cody’s lip tugged up. “There’s a river east of here I never finished exploring. That’s where I’m headed first. From there, I’ll see where this journey takes me.”

Tears welled in the queen’s eyes as she hugged him and whispered in his ear, “Thank you, Cody, for everything. For being a friend, for standing beside me, for accepting me and believing in me, for bringing Dustin into my life. I’m going to miss you terribly.”

Cody smiled and gave her a nod. He gripped his brother’s forearm and pulled him into a final embrace. “Life is an adventure, Dustin. And it’s so damn short. Promise me you won’t waste a moment. Follow the dreams that make you happy.”

With that, Cody mounted his horse and rode through the iron gates. He turned back, grinned and tipped his hat. The road beckoned, his next adventure begun.

Dan Peach - On to another adventure.

Dan Peach – His next adventure begun.

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The Sorcerer’s Garden

Have you visited Kevin Cooper’s new digs Raves & Reviews? It’s a welcoming place for authors and readers alike. Kevin, a talented author in his own right, provides two services. One, he gives authors a place to Rave about their new releases, and two, as an avid reader, he provides objective, honest, and sincere Reviews. Kevin recently reviewed The Sorcerer’s Garden and left me with a huge smile. 🙂

Those Darn Cussing Characters

cussing 1

All modified images from pixabay

I don’t cuss. Well, rarely, and when I do, it usually makes me laugh, which defeats the purpose of expressing the strength of my irritation.

Yet, my characters cuss, some worse than others, and my cursing characters have elicited some negative reviews. It was a risk I chose to take, and I’m not shocked by the occasional blow back. Since profanity is controversial, authors should weigh whether swearing will occur in their books, and if so, what kind and how much.

Consider that these choices apply to a blog too. Readers may forgo your cuss-free book because of cursing on your blog. Just saying.

Certain books lend themselves toward cursing more than others. Carrie Rubin of The Write Transition commented on her blog that, “a 17-year-old, inner-city Cleveland bully would not call his victim a “chubby poo-poo head.” I would agree. The same may apply to a whole host of characters, particularly when they’re in dire straits.

If I’m driving off a the side of a cliff, I might yell something stronger than “Oh, darn it!” My character that’s facing an advancing horde of barbarians might mutter something dicier than “Rats!” And my character that just lost three fingers in a sword fight might cry something more powerful than, “Bummer!”

cussing 3

For some reason, readers who dislike “real” swear words will tolerate “swear-like” words. Thus, we get fricking, freaking, frigging, fragging, frecking, flipping, and the close call fecking (not a word in the US though we all know what it means). There’s no mystery as to what any of these variations mean, but somehow they’re more acceptable.

Writing fantasy gives me a bit of an out. If I’m inventing a world, I might invent my own cuss words and trust readers to make the leap.

In The Melding of Aeris, the cataclysmic event of the past was The Burn. So cuss words fall along these lines: flaming foul, burn me, foul and fire, burn them… In my current WIP, The Rose Shield, the cussing of one secondary character is a bit more colorful: filching codwit, spanking corker, codding torch-benders, glistering goat-licker… (To avoid mortification, be sure to research your fake words!)

No one seems to mind the bloody violence in my books, but heaven forbid someone says, “Shit!” (There, I said it – grinning foolishly.)

Well, that brings me to The Sorcerer’s Garden. It takes place partly in contemporary times, so I used present day language. Not too foul-mouthed – mostly “crap” and “shit.” A reader didn’t care for the word “shit” and commented on it (it appears 28 times in 90,000 words). I couldn’t add any more “craps,” but I suppose I could have swapped a few out for “darns, rats, and bummers.” I chose not to. The book is written for adults, and though I don’t say that word often in real life, my 28 year-old character is far less reserved.

She is who she is. I took the risk.

cussing 2

Well, then comes The Bone Wall. Oh dear. A reader mentioned not being able to finish it because of the prevalence of the “f-bomb.”

Now, I’m NOT suggesting that the reader was wrong or unfair. There aren’t hundreds of f-bombs in the book, but there are a lot. Readers are free to like and dislike whatever they want. I will put down books if the writing doesn’t appeal to me, and every reader has the right to do the same. We know as authors that not everyone is going to be a rabid fan, and I knew when I wrote the book that I was poking a few boundaries. I wrote it anyway.

Knowing that I would irritate some readers, why did I do it?

Because I felt it was necessary for the authenticity of the book, characters, and the main character’s arc. The story takes place in a violent post-apocalyptic world. One the main characters goes through a process of hardening, reacting to the brutality of her environment by increasing her own ruthlessness. Her language degrades as her choices and experiences do. Her cursing is in direct contrast to her twin sister, who doesn’t swear at all. To me, the language choices serve a purpose, and I was willing to accept the consequences.

When writing books for adult audiences, authors make choices about profanity, violence, and sex, knowing these are a few of the hot topics that some readers are sensitive to. There are many books with violence that don’t cross the profanity line. Perhaps cussing isn’t a prerequisite for any book. Authors must weigh their creative freedom and choices against offending readers and suffering those unfortunate reviews.

Do your books include cussing? What is/was your decision-making process?

The Socerer’s Garden #Free on #Kindle

Sorcerer's Garden 2

Yep, a little more promotion.

Free 10/25 – 10/27

 Click Here for Amazon

I want to thank each reader who graciously supported me by purchasing the book, despite knowing that at some point it would likely pop up as a freebie for a few days. The gesture is lovingly appreciated for all it signifies.

Each review is a gift and results in a spontaneous happy dance. Somewhere, someone is taking the time to gather thoughts, click over to Amazon, and share an opinion with other readers. Here’s what a few reviewers are saying:

Interesting Fantasy Read!
“The Sorcerer’s Garden” by D. Wallace Peach is a truly unique and interesting read. The story seems ordinary at first but quickly takes an epic fantasy turn. The main character is a 28-year-old named Madlyn who is not having the greatest luck with her relationships or her career. By chance, she gets a new job that involves reading to a man who is in a vegetative state. Madlyn thinks the job will be boring and mundane but it turns into so much more as Madlyn is literally sucked into the book that she’s reading the man. She appears as a princess in the story and faces off against others that she knows in real life. The author then takes readers on an unforgettable back-and-forth journey between “real life” Madlyn and the Madlyn in the storybook.

I find it very hard to describe “The Sorcerer’s Garden” because of the back-and-forth and unique storyline but would recommend it to fantasy and adventure genre fans. The author does a good job creating a world of interesting characters and not only showing them in one setting, such as the real world but also in the book setting that the main character is reading. I look forward to reading more from D. Wallace Peach after reading this book.


Quote Lillian2Fantasy Combined with Real Life

” I think the way this book combined fantasy and reality was really masterful, and the character and story development were especially good. I hope to read more such novels from this author in the future.”

A Tangled Tale of Modern and Medieval Life
“You need your wits about you keep with the plot twists in this unusual fantasy.”

Many thanks!

 

A tangled mess of a tale – The Sorcerer’s Garden.

Sorcerer's Garden 2At some point between serving my visiting parents popcorn and ice cream, chauffeuring them to the nearest casino, shooing our resident bat from their bedroom, potty-training the Overlord, and tracking down my hiding husband, The Sorcerer’s Garden went live.  I almost missed it!

So a bit of promotion is in order…In the life of an author, it’s an exciting day.

The Blurb:

Recently fired and residing with her sweetly overbearing mother, Madlyn needs a job—bad. In a moment of desperation, she accepts a part-time position reading at the bedside of adventurer and amateur writer Cody Lofton. A near-drowning accident left the young man in a vegetative state, and his chances of recovery wane with each passing day.

Cody’s older brother, Dustin, and eccentric grandmother aren’t prepared to give up on the youngest son of Portland, Oregon’s royalty.

Dustin’s a personable guy, bordering on naïve, and overwhelmed by familial corporate duties and cutthroat partners. Grandmother Lillian’s a meddler with an eye for the esoteric, dabbling in Dustin’s life and dealing out wisdom like a card shark. One innocent conversation at a time, she sucks Madlyn into the Lofton story, dubbing her the princess and bestowing on her the responsibility of both grandsons’ destinies.

And all Madlyn wanted was a simple reading job.

Uninspired by her self-imposed stack of literary selections, Madlyn opts for Cody’s work-in-progress. Fantasy isn’t her favorite, but with only four chapters completed, reading The Sorcerer’s Garden should be no sweat, right?

Little does she realize, the story will begin writing itself and, by the hand of destiny, become her own.

A collision of urban and medieval fantasy 

The Urban:

Portland, Oregon

“You’ve started reading Cody’s book?” Lillian asked as she poured tea.

“Um…yes.” Madlyn glanced at the crystal ball. Either Tristan spied at the door, which she doubted, or the woman dabbled in the dark arts. “I thought he’d prefer it over my mother’s recommendation.”

“I’m not sure he minds either way.” Lillian shared a wistful smile. “Undeniably, the book is key to completing his story, but it’s your presence and voice that will preserve him as much as the content.”

Madlyn squirmed in her seat and sipped her coffee as the conversation wandered off into the ozone again. She understood Dustin’s caution and hope regarding Cody’s level of awareness, but this business about the book “completing his story” lay beyond her comprehension. For a woman who didn’t make mistakes, Lillian was three tines short of a fork.

“Well, fantasy isn’t really my thing.” Madlyn shrugged, hoping to move on. “But he only wrote a few chapters. I’m happy to read it to him.”

“What is your ‘thing,’ Madlyn?”

“Aside from reading material?” She met the old woman’s eyes. Why am I having this conversation? “I don’t know, Lillian. Maybe getting by, day by day, true love, a fabulous career, two angelic children, a self-cleaning house, a cat without fleas.”

“Ah,” Lillian chuckled, “fantasy after all.”

“Probably.” Madlyn sighed, the list depressing. “But I’ve learned that it’s a waste of time to wish for what isn’t real. I don’t believe in fairy tales. There aren’t any dragons or ogres. There isn’t a magical life waiting for me in your crystal ball. Terrible things happen to us, Lillian. Magic would be helpful, but it’s not any more real than Cody’s book.”

“How do you define what’s real?”

The question unanswerable, Madlyn said nothing. The temptation to scrub her face in her hands and groan was unbearable. She didn’t know. Science and matter? What she perceived with her senses? Could the experience of cool to her, be warm to another? What about feelings and intuition? Was the fear that her father abandoned her real because she felt it, even though, in fact, it may not be fact? Were her dreams and wishes real if she could name them or only when they came true? Was her mother a cracked nut and Lillian a fruitcake, simply because she believed they were?

“I have no idea,” she admitted, her brain numb. She sipped her coffee, reduced to the intelligence of a slug. “As far as I know, coffee is real. I’m not sure of much beyond that.”

“It’s all perception, Madlyn, yes? Layers and filters and veils shape the paradigms of our lives. Our beliefs create our reality; that’s where all possibility lies, where magic finds its spark.”

The Medieval:

amazingpict.com

image by amazingpict.com

A bat-webbed wing scraped over the boulders, hooks gouging the rough stone. A vast wave of fire engulfed the air. Cody curled into a ball behind the huge slab, buried his head in his arms, and held his breath, his body over the bow. When the inferno’s roar receded, he raised his head, caught a whiff of sizzled hair, and heard Dustin bellowing at the dragon, attempting to draw it away.

Every inch of his skin screamed as he scrambled to his feet, yanked the rope pull, and loaded his last bolt. With a laugh at the absurdity of his situation, he staggered out from between the boulders, slightly rear of the beast’s flank. No need to aim, he raised the bow and pulled the trigger. The bolt flew, dragging the second rope. Cody’s ankle tangled in the twisting coil. It flipped him from his feet to his back, his breath punched from his lungs.

The bolt’s barbed point nicked the dragon’s rear leg, skidded beneath the scale, and plunged into the tender belly up to its steel fletching. The beast roared, flung its horned head, and streamed fire toward the boulders where Cody would have stood if not for the tangled rope. His crossbow, pitched to the ground when he fell, flashed into blackened char.

There, the requisite promotion is done.

Click HERE for the fateful Amazon Link.

It’s lovely to be back. 

thankyou

Cover Reveal: The Sorcerer’s Garden

Sorcerer's Garden 2

Scheduled for Release August 20, 2015

Interested in a ARC copy? Please let me know ❤
Also available now as a Preorder on Amazon.

The Sorcerer’s Garden

Recently fired and residing with her sweetly overbearing mother, Madlyn needs a job—bad. In a moment of desperation, she accepts a part-time position reading at the bedside of adventurer and amateur writer Cody Lofton. A near-drowning accident left the young man in a vegetative state, and his chances of recovery wane with each passing day.

Cody’s older brother, Dustin, and eccentric grandmother aren’t prepared to give up on the youngest son of Portland, Oregon’s royalty.

Dustin’s a personable guy, bordering on naïve, and overwhelmed by familial corporate duties and cutthroat partners. Grandmother Lillian’s a meddler with an eye for the esoteric, dabbling in Dustin’s life and dealing out wisdom like a card shark. One innocent conversation at a time, she sucks Madlyn into the Lofton story, dubbing her the princess and bestowing on her the responsibility of both grandsons’ destinies.

And all Madlyn wanted was a simple reading job.

Uninspired by her self-imposed stack of literary selections, Madlyn opts for Cody’s work-in-progress. Fantasy isn’t her favorite, but with only four chapters completed, reading The Sorcerer’s Garden should be no sweat, right?

Little does she realize, the story will begin writing itself and, by the hand of destiny, become her own.

thankyou

Visiting the Sorcerer’s Garden

Pittock Mansion, setting for The Sorcerer's Garden

Pittock Mansion, setting for The Sorcerer’s Garden

My guess is that fantasy authors rarely visit the actual places inside their books. No one I know has night-fished for mermaids in a flooded delta beneath three moons or crept through catacombs where soulless monsters entomb captured heroes in the crypts of dead kings. I’ve never actually found a secret torch-lit passageway that descends to a dragon’s smoky lair. Most of us journey to those realms only in our heads (unfortunately, I might add).

Of course, we draw from genuine places and experiences to create our worlds. Then we tweak and embellish to enrich our settings and grow the magical elements that give our genre its name. Stretching the ordinary beyond the borders of our imaginations is part of the craft; rendering it believable is our obligation to readers.

I just finished the third draft of another book, The Sorcerer’s Garden, and I’m letting it rest a bit before tackling the next pass. This is my first fantasy novel set partially in modern times. It’s one of those tales where “reality” tangles with both the world of the unconscious and a writer’s fantastical pages. What is real is a matter of experience and choice.

Portland, Oregon is the present day setting, and I used the famous Pittock Mansion (built in 1914) as my primary location. The internet is full of detailed images and floor plans that I accessed for building my story. Then yesterday—rather after the fact—I visited the mansion for a “behind the scenes” tour.

Stair-Hall of the Pittock Mansion

Stair-Hall of the Pittock Mansion

Upon entering, I had the eeriest sensation of walking through the pages of my book. I saw what Madlyn saw when she first entered the marble stair-hall, and I stood in the kitchen where Pagan ripped lettuce and brewed pots of perfect coffee. I lingered in the writing room where Dustin held his brother’s unfinished manuscript, his eyes brimming with regret, and when I entered Cody’s room, I knew exactly where Madlyn sat as she read to him by his bed. In the music room, I caught Lillian’s view of Mt. Hood from the piano where she arranged everyone’s destiny with the same precision she arranged her roses. I traveled the twisting corridors of the cellar where Warson’s creatures dragged Cody across the stone floor. And I saw the doomed king standing at the stair-hall rail as he bid his daughter farewell for the final time. It all felt so disorienting, what was real and magical as tangled as the story in my book.

If only I could visit all my fantasy worlds…

Happy Writing.