Farlanders’ Law

Excerpt from Farlanders’ Law, The Rose Shield: Book III

The baby reminded her of Gussy on the day Zadie delivered her into the world of the stead. Such memories raised tears for a lost lifetime, a wistful dream that evaporated upon her waking to a harsher, crueler morn. Those days had marked the most sacred of her life, a few years of recaptured innocence when they called her Rose for lack of another name. Zadie had chosen the name because of her eye, and Wenna had given her the choice of calling it her own. The tender mothers of her youth had seen the ugly mark bruising her face and named it something lovely, called her a thing of beauty when she was a scrawny cast off lacking a voice of her own.

This little one possessed no flaws, no strange blemish or discoloration or unexplained power, nothing to hurl her life into heartbreak and ruin. So, Catling chose the name again, and in that instant, all her misgivings, all her dreaded anger and doubts and regrets about the baby resting on her body vanished. Every indignity inflicted upon her, every threat and injury and act of destruction faded into the murky distance. For years, those with unfettered authority had wielded her as a tool. Now, the power of the infant’s face, the gray eyes and soft hair, the little bowed lips, the helplessness of this new life eclipsed them all. Suddenly, only this life mattered, her child’s life, and she drifted instantly and deeply into love.

***

One more book to go and then I promise I’ll stop! Lol.

Now available on Amazon

Guest author: D. Wallace Peach – Room to Breathe

I’m honored to guest post over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo today. If you have the time, stop over to say hi. ❤

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Photo: Sue Vincent

I’m delighted to guest blog today on Sue’s wonderful Daily Echo. I’m sitting in my recliner looking up, wondering what to write. There’s a ten-foot long spider web hanging from the ceiling fan to the beam over my head, gently blowing with the heat circulating around the room. Tapestries of cobwebs grace the corners of the high windows that I can’t reach without a ladder. More delicate threads crisscross the Christmas star that I never took down – from 3 years ago. I kid you not.

When my grandson was 2 years old, he said the house was “spooky.” I laughed but didn’t whisk them away despite the cute commentary.

It feels good to sit and stare for a few minutes, to breathe and relax and study the floating web and the way it catches the light.

I’ve been writing full-time for seven years and blogging…

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Fallen Angel

click on the image to enlarge for a view of the being in the shadows

This is a result of an early morning dream as I let my mind wander in search of a new book idea.

Feathers rustle softly in the corner of my room. The sound is subtle, intentional. He’s broken through more than the walls of my home; he’s defied the barriers dividing our kinds. He perches like a wraith in the safety of his shadows, waiting for me to wake, to stir at his presence. I don’t twitch.

On ebony nights, when woolen clouds swath the mountains and blank out the moon, the world turns invisible and senses heighten. My room smells of snow and wood fire, and his breath whispers. I’m his echo, and if I could see, my slow inhales and exhales would blow the ashes of old choices into the still air and shroud my bed in a coverlet of regrets.

My eyes search the shadows for an outline, a face, a reprieve. A phantom light glimmers on the black rachis and vanes of his wings. This fallen angel has traveled between worlds for me, only to find I’ve lost my wings along the way and can’t go home.

Creating Magic Systems

pixabay

Writers of speculative fiction—whether fantasy, paranormal, superhero, or science fiction—are dealing with supernatural or hyper-scientific systems that stretch our reality and knowledge of the known.

As writers, our job is to create realities where these systems are understood by the reader and feel natural and integrated into the speculative world. A reader’s immersion requires that our systems are cohesive, logical, and well explained.

Brandon Sanderson (Elantris, Mistborn) refers to these systems, regardless of whether they are fantasy or science fiction, as “magic systems.” Both adhere to the same storytelling principles in order to bring the magic/technology to life.

He distinguishes between “soft magic” and “hard magic” and suggests that they lie on a continuum.

The far end of the soft magic continuum is full of “wonder” and has few rules. The magic users have mysterious abilities and can do whatever they wish with little limitation. Wizards and gods are good examples of characters that tend toward softer magic though they will often be subject to some rules. Rarely is someone with soft magic a main character or they’d simply wave their wands through every obstacle.

Hard magic lies on the other end of the spectrum, and here is where the rules come into play. In this case, the magic becomes an integral plot device in the story. According to Sanderson, an author’s “ability to solve problems with magic in a satisfying way for the reader depends directly on how well the reader understands the magic.”

So what does the “hard” end of the magic system need for reader understanding?

  1. Origin – What is the source of the magic? Where did it come from? If people have different powers, why?
  1. Simplicity – Some of the best magical systems have very little complexity but a great deal of depth. Magic users have to work to make the system fit their needs.
  1. Limitations – What exactly can the magic do and what can’t it do? Be specific.
  1. Flaws/weaknesses – These are the holes in the magic. What is its foil? When doesn’t it work? Is there a cost to the user?
  1. Tools/Activators – What does the magic need to function? Does it need a special item, something ingested, an initiation, a mutation?
  1. Early introduction – Establish the magic parameters early and foreshadow any change in abilities. Beware of adding magic just when it’s convenient (deux ex machina), especially near the end.

Remember that when crafting a magic system, the limitations and flaws are usually more interesting than the strengths (no different than crafting interesting characters). What the system can’t do is more intriguing than what it can, and it’s the system’s deficiencies that create the challenges and obstacles for the characters.

The number of rules an author employs is what slides the magic system along the continuum. But that’s not the only way soft and hard magic can be blended. Some stories will use hard magic to drive the story, but add little elements of soft magic to increase the sense of wonder.

Magic is no small matter! It will have an impact on the world, nations, cultures, governments, and religions. It will impact power hierarchies, livelihood, family, self-esteem, danger and destiny. Take some time to think about how the presence of magic impacts the overall world. The more your magic system is woven into your world-building, the more real it will feel to the reader.

Happy Writing!

Oathbreakers’ Guild

“The time has arrived for your final trial.” Dalcoran sat across from her, every detail of his grooming, attire, and manner precise, his features ageless despite his infirmity. “It’s an act which binds you to the guild, solidifies your power, and acknowledges the great burden you will bear as an influencer. Your oath to the heiress is absolute; you are sworn to do her bidding even when it rails against your personal wishes. It is the responsibility of the guild to see you prepared.”

“I understand.” Catling set her teacup on the low table between them. Nothing he said thus far shocked her, and yet, a chill coiled up her spine.

“What we ask of you, we ask of all initiates. We only ask it once in training, though your oaths may dictate future sacrifices in practice.”

“You may tell me, Dalcoran-Elan.” Catling threaded her fingers in her lap.

“You are to kill an innocent.” He met her eyes. “Not someone dying, sick, or aged. You must steal the future of someone at the height of life. The heiress may require it of you, and your binding oath will demand your obedience.”

She stared at him, an all-consuming emotion burning in her chest. Not horror but fury. “The heiress would never order the random execution of an innocent without purpose—as an exercise. Dalcoran-Elan, I refuse.”

“You cannot refuse, Catling.”

“I can refuse because that is exactly what I am doing.”

He sat in rigid silence and sipped his tea while hers grew cold on the table.

“I’m an aspirant,” she said, “and it’s within your rights to coerce me into compliance. Yet, I suspect the whole point of this trial is to test my willingness to stalk and kill with complete self-control.”

“I shall report your decision to the heiress,” he said, ignoring her statement.

“You may do so.” She rose to her feet and brushed the creases from her jacket. “You may also tell her that I will act as her assassin if the need arises, but I will refuse to murder without purpose.”

The knowing smile on Dalcoran’s face made her feel as though she were a child refusing to grow up. “You will learn in time, Catling, if your fiery principles are forged of steel or glass.”

**

A snippet from Oathbreakers’ Guild – Book II of The Rose Shield
Live Today.

Book I   

PS. Tornado Boy is touching down for the weekend. I may be delayed in responding to comments, but I will catch up. ❤

Book Talk: Waterdragon-Watching

Many thanks to Kevin Cooper for inviting me to his site for Book Talk. Little did Kevin know I was going to take him Waterdragon-Watching with the Heiress. He ended up being braver than I.

Source: KC Books and Music 

I rush down the ramp to the dock girding Elan-Sia, a tier city drilled into the midst of the glimmering delta. The river and sea are brilliant with luminescence, a sheet of liquid light that draws my eyes.

Kevin’s been waiting for me to talk about my new book, Catling’s Bane, and I’m late. But I have an excellent reason. “Guess what?” I catch my breath as I join him. “Instead of Book Talk, we’re going waterdragon watching!”

“Waterdragon watching?” He props his hands on his hips.

“Can you believe it?” I’m giddy at the thought. “While browsing the first-tier markets, I happened to mention that the heiress is in my book. The next thing I know, she’s offered to take us sailing. I couldn’t very well deny her, could I?”

“Is that her?” Kevin gestures toward the city, and I swing around. Lelaine-Elan, the heiress to the Ellegean throne, approaches with her escort of guards. She appears younger than her seventeen years, petite and pink-cheeked with a fall of blond ringlets. Her jacket brushes her boots, and she’s wearing an azure underdress with a wide belt.

We face her and bow. “Our respects, Heiress.” I point a sideways thumb at my friend. “This is Kevin Cooper.”

“A pleasure.” Lelaine dips her chin. “Shall we depart?” She doesn’t wait for a reply, so we clomp down the royal pier behind her. I imagine we’re taking one of the large cutters or ferries, but she climbs down into a single-masted catboat. I give Kev a nervous smile, and when he shrugs, we clamber aboard. A guard hands down a heap of blankets.

“We won’t travel far beyond the breakwater,” Lelaine informs the guard, and when he retreats, she hauls up the sails. Kevin stows the blankets, and I stare at the alien sea. “Is there anything I can do, Heiress?”

“Tell me about your book.” She cleats the stays and sits by the tiller. “I’ll manage the boat, and Kevin shall scout for waterdragons. I’m in no hurry to return to my duties, so if we wish, we may wrap ourselves in wool for a nighttime view of the sea. It’s lovely, brighter than the moons.”

Kev grins at the idea while I’m rethinking our adventure. The boat’s dinky, and I forgot my Dramamine. Too late to back out, I hold on as the balmy wind catches the sail and the catboat glides from the pier…

(Continue Reading: Book Talk: Waterdragon-Watching)

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Mary Smith, Steve Boseley and D. Wallace Peach

A little more fanfare as Sally Cronin adds Catling’s Bane to her Cafe & Bookstore. Check out a couple fellow authors’ updates and my first review!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Welcome to the Cafe and Bookstore update and hot off the press we have a new book by Mary Smith written with Allan Devlin. Castle Douglas Through Time records the town’s history in a series of old and new photographs. The gathering place for tourists exploring this beautiful part of Scotland.

NEWSFLASH – Mary was my guest on Saturday in the interactive interview series Book Reading at the Cafe.  After reading this I am sure that you will have even more questions for Mary and she would love to receive them.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-book-reading-at-the-cafe-and-interview-with-mary-smith/

About the book

The market town of Castle Douglas, beside Carlingwark Loch in the southern Scottish region of Dumfries and Galloway, is relatively new, though the area has been inhabited from prehistoric times and the Romans had a military base close by. In the fourteenth century, Archibald the Grim, the 3rd Earl of Douglas, built Threave Castle…

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