Sneak Peek #2

CHAPTER 1

 

410 United Era

An arc of light inched over the Mindon Mountains and pushed back the darkness. It climbed higher, forcing the starlit sky to cede its ground. As the arc advanced above, the sleeping valley awoke below. The shadowy silhouette of a large oak, its thick arms stretching into the sky and reaching down to the ground, gained definition. Its leaves became visible, transitioning from grays to greens, and began shining as the sun crested the distant mountains to the east.

By the time the transition from night to day was complete, the town square surrounding the oak bustled with activity. Proprietors opened the shuttered windows of their shops and unlocked their doors. Merchants opened the sides of their wagons lined up along the waist-high fence surrounding the tree and set out their wares. Locals moved from shop to shop, running their daily errands, and gave a wide berth to the armored horses tethered to the fence.

On the opposite end of the growing town, across a creek flowing low from another winter of poor mountain snow, Yolken Thornhill filled a mug with ale. He set it before one of a dozen men hunched over the bar in the tavern he ran with his aunt and younger brother. Patrons occupied every table sandwiched between the bar and hearth on the opposite side of the quaint room. He had barely finished breaking his own fast and taking the chairs down before people had begun streaming in. He looked over at the stairs with a furrowed brow and then gathered an empty plate and mug from the bar top.

“Hey! I wanted another!” complained a scruffy man with dirty hands and clothes.

“Sorry,” Yolken said. “I thought you were finished. Another mild, then?”

“Yah.”

Yolken set the empty plate on the bar and refilled the mug. He set the mug down before the man and then looked over at the stairs again.

The wooden kitchen door swung open and his Aunt Selena, a slender, middle-aged woman, walked out holding two plates of steaming hot food in her hands. “Where’s your brother?” she asked as she passed the bar. She deposited the plates at one of the tables and returned to the kitchen.

“Still sleeping,” Yolken said as she walked back by. He snatched the dirty plate from the counter, his annoyance at Javen rising to the surface, and followed his aunt into the kitchen.

He set the plate in the sink, then stepped out through the back door for a breath of fresh air. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, reveling in the tingly feeling that accompanied the warmth of the sun on his skin. The Little Mindon bubbled forlornly as it flowed past the tavern. He let his breath out slowly and visualized himself breathing away his annoyance at Javen. He didn’t mind his brother enjoying himself now and then, but Javen was growing increasingly irresponsible.

“It’s too early to be angry, Yolken,” Selena called through the doorway.

Yolken ignored her and breathed in again.

“It’s dying, you know,” a raspy voice said.

Yolken opened his eyes and saw Relan, one of the tavern’s regulars, stop in front of him. His clothes, as usual, looked as though he’d been sleeping in them for half a season. “What is?” he said.

Relan gestured over his shoulder with his thumb. “The sun. Just a matter of time. He knew it, too.”

Yolken was mystified. “What? Who knew?”

Relan shook his head and walked away. Before he disappeared around the side of the tavern Yolken barely heard him mumble, “No cursed scales gonna be sniffing ’round my place.”

When Relan was out of sight, Yolken went back inside. “Relan’s here,” he said. “And I’m not angry at Javen. Just annoyed.”

“Angry. Annoyed. What’s the difference?” Selena said, turning from the stove to look at Yolken.

“I’m tired of him shirking his responsibilities all the time.”

“He just needs a little more time to mat—”

“He’s twenty-two years old!” Yolken exclaimed. Feeling oddly warm, he reached up and wiped his brow with the sleeve of his shirt. “If he doesn’t want to do his part around here maybe it’s time he finds his own way.”

“Yelling at me won’t help,” Selena said. “And neither will threatening him.”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to—”

“He’s your brother, Yolken. And there’s nothing more important in life than family.” Selena turned back toward the stove. “I know your brother’s not as hard a worker as you,” she said over her shoulder, “but the Great Dragon makes each of us different. Forcing him to do something he doesn’t want won’t help matters. And besides, if anything, you could stand to work less. How are you ever going to court Kaylan if all you do is work?”

“How did you…” Yolken started, feeling the warmth inside him move to his face.

“I watched you grow up together, and I see how you look at her whenever the two of you are around each other,” Selena said. She turned and placed a plate piled with eggs and pan-fried ham on the table. “It’s obvious you’ve been in love with that girl since you were a boy.”

“I…I didn’t think you knew.”

“Yolken, dear, I might be your aunt, but I’m also a woman.”

Yolken picked up a towel to wipe the sweat beading on his forehead. “How am I supposed to work less if Javen won’t do his share?”

“Talk to him.”

“I have.”

“Talk to him again. Gently. And not in anger. Keep trying until he comes around.”

“Can’t you talk to him?”

“He’s a grown man, same as you. I could talk to him, but it’d be better coming from you. He needs to know you need him. Maybe you show him that by giving him more responsibility.”

“I’m not giving him more responsibility until he learns to manage what he already has.”

“That’s for you to decide. Now, take this to Relan,” Selena said, adding a thick slice of buttered bread to the plate. “He’ll be cross if his food gets cold.”

She turned back to the stove, and Yolken knew she was done with the conversation. He picked up the plate then dropped it back onto the table with a yelp when it became scorching hot.

Selena turned around at the sound of the ham and eggs beginning to sizzle. “What happened?”

“I don’t know,” Yolken said. “The plate got really hot when I picked it up.”

“Did it burn you?”

“I don’t think so,” Yolken said, looking at his hand. When he looked up, he locked eyes with his aunt and sensed her displeasure. With a shake of her head, Selena turned back to the stove. Yolken used the towel to pick up the plate and hurried out of the kitchen. He set the plate in front of Relan and said, “What would you like to wash that down with?”

“Mild,” Relan said. “My head’s pounding this morning, lad. You weren’t kidding about your strong being strong.”

“I warned you, didn’t I?” Yolken grabbed a clean mug and asked, “You sure you don’t want water instead?”

“Nah. Once I get this fine cookin’ of Selena’s in me, I’ll be good.”

Yolken turned around and pulled the stopper on one of the six barrels lining the wall until the mug was full. He never understood how Relan could wake so early each morning, considering that he spent every evening sitting at the bar—and never with an empty mug—until Yolken closed the tavern for the night.

The moment Yolken set the mug down, Relan picked it up and drank deeply from it. “Where’s Javen?”

The stairs creaked before Yolken had a chance to respond, and he looked up. Javen was slowly descending, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands. He still wore the clothes he’d had on the day before; his damp shirt clung to his body, and his light brown hair stuck out haphazardly.

“Late night?” Yolken said when Javen plopped onto the last open bar stool. The question was rhetorical. He knew Javen hadn’t come home until it was getting light out; Yolken had already been awake, thinking about the coming day, when Javen had stumbled down the hallway and not so quietly shut his bedroom door.

Javen grunted.

Using a metal hand pump, Yolken filled a mug with water and set it in front of Javen. He watched Javen pick it up and take a sip, then said, “Norin came by last night and told me our shipment came in, so I need you to pick it up.”

Javen looked up at him with bloodshot eyes. “Do I have to?”

“Yes, you have to,” Yolken said. He turned and called into the kitchen through the window, “Javen’s awake!” and then began attending to the other patrons sitting at the bar. Selena emerged with a plate of food. He watched intently, hoping she would say something, but she just set the plate in front of Javen and went back into the kitchen. He could still sense her displeasure.

A few minutes later, Selena reemerged and set a list on the bar next to Javen’s plate. “Finish your breakfast and then see to your errands,” she said. “You’ve slept half the morning away, and there are things that need doing.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Javen said.

Yolken gave his aunt a nod of approval.

“You and I need to talk about what happened in the kitchen,” she said. She made her way through the tavern, gathered a few plates and mugs, and then shouldered the kitchen door open.

When the door swung closed behind her, Javen said, “What happened in the kitchen?”

“Nothing,” Yolken said. “I also need to brew today, so when you get back, I’ll need you to tend the bar.”

“Again?” Javen exclaimed.

“Yes, again,” Yolken replied. “It’s been busier than normal with all these southerners passing through. And for once I wish you’d be willing to help around here.”

“I help.”

“Barely.”

“If it’s so busy then maybe you should hire someone.”

“The lad’s right,” Relan said. “Your father was the same.”

“What do you mean?” Yolken said.

“He kept himself so busy here he never got around to building that house of his.”

“I have help,” Yolken retorted. He knew Relan was right, though. Their father had bought a plot of land by a maple grove east of town, situated on the Little Mindon, where he’d intended to build a home for their family. “If Javen put as much effort into helping me as he does chasing girls, we wouldn’t have a problem.”

Javen shoveled food into his mouth and mumbled, “I help.”

“Just finish your breakfast.”

Yolken tended the bar while Selena moved between the kitchen and the tavern, filling orders and taking empty plates and mugs back. When Javen finished his food, he snatched the list from the bar and shuffled back to the stairs. He came back down several minutes later with clean clothes and washed hair.

“Hurry back, Javen!” Yolken called before Javen disappeared through the door. When the door closed behind him, Yolken watched Relan mumble into his mug. He typically ignored Relan’s half-crazed remarks about the Regency, but his curiosity got the better of him. “What were you talking about earlier, Relan?” he asked.

“Huh?”

“Why would the Regency sniff around your place?”

“Not gonna let them.”

“But why would they?”

“Dunno, but I saw them scales sniffing round the backside of Brall’s place on my way here.”

“What for?”

Relan shrugged.

“Huh,” Yolken said. Whenever Dalia, the regent of the Croff province, came down from Croff, Brall hosted her at his inn, so Yolken wondered what interest the Regency would have in him. He’d heard the stories whispered by ale-loosened tongues about people going missing, but they were always stories from faraway places. Relan claimed to have known people who went missing, but Yolken had long ago learned to ignore the tales he spun. “And what about the sun?”

“What about it?”

“You said—”

“Haven’t you learned yet not to pay any mind to what Relan says?” Relan said.

He had a point. Relan talked a lot of nonsense once he filled himself with ale. How could the sun possibly be dying? The Great Dragon sustained the sun by breathing its power into it. It was probably the most nonsensical thing Relan had ever said.

The front door swung inward and slammed against the wall. Brall, a rotund, bald, and sweaty man, barged into the tavern. “Yolken!” he shouted, swabbing his glistening forehead with a soiled handkerchief. “I need your help! The chancellor of the south is coming to the Oak!”

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Cover Reveal!

Many thanks to Jake over at Jcalebdesign for the absolutely amazing cover he created for The Path of the Synthesizer! Ever since I first came across his work I knew that if I eventually decided to self-publish my writing that I wanted him to be the one to design my covers.

One can argue the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing a novel, but one pro of self-publishing is that I am the publisher and, therefore, I get to call the shots. The decision as to what the cover is to look like is entirely mine. And I’ve had a mental picture of what I wanted for a long time. Jake expressed that vision perfectly. He took my words, a piece of the story, a defining moment for Yolken, and turned that moment, those words, into a work of art.

And today, I want to share that art with you.

I am, however, at the same time reminded of the old adage: don’t judge a book by its cover. I think it is at least partially true that a cover says a lot about a book, especially in today’s day of digital media. I ask, however, in sharing this cover with you, that you not develop an opinion about my book. An awesome cover in and of itself will not make the words contained therein also awesome. The words, when revealed, will define themselves. Instead, I invite you to enjoy this cover for what it is: Jake’s awesome work of art.

So, without further ado, the cover for my forthcoming novel, The Path of the Synthesizer:

The Path of the Synthesizer eCover

Watching the various pieces come together (the maps are done too 😁) is getting me excited about the book’s release! If you’re interested in helping build that excitement please like and share my Facebook page!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Igniting the Flame

A while back I happened across a contest for a 101-word microstory. Unfortunately, I didn’t happen across it until the contest was already over. I wrote the story anyways. The following is Igniting the Flame, a 101-word story set in Dradonia, the world where The Path of the Synthesizer takes place.

The hatchling huddled underneath her mother’s protective wing with her siblings. She peered out at the regal dragon. Its yellow scales shimmered in Solarian’s light.

The hatchling’s mother stood and folded her wings. Her mother and father moved away, leaving them exposed to the ring of dragons—yellow, red, blue, violet, orange, green, black, and white. The hatchling scampered after her mother and father, but the dragons blocked her path.

A great warmth, flowing from the eight, filled the hatching. A fire ignited within her and began to burn. Unable to contain it, she opened her mouth and breathed it out.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sneak Peek # 1

BEFORE

 

389 United Era

Drenan did not see the Overseer approaching until he was nearly upon him. The black armor the Overseer wore, which matched his own, veiled his presence on the moonless night.

“Everyone is in place,” the Overseer said.

“The tavern’s secure?”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“You’re sure?” Drenan said, even though he already knew the answer. The tavern stood alone, away from the village, surrounded by four Overseers and four dozen soldiers. He had planned this mission carefully and was taking no chances. He would not squander this opportunity to rid the empire of its last real threat.

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

Drenan nodded. “Get into position.”

The Overseer turned toward the tavern and faded into a shadow after a dozen feet.

Drenan allowed the Overseer time to take up his position with the soldiers under his command, then signaled to the two assassins, wearing close-fitting black clothes, standing next to him.

They both nodded and silently moved toward the tavern.

Drenan placed his hand on the hilt of the black dagger tucked into his belt and reached out with two threads of Energy until he felt the heartbeats of the two assassins. Their pulses reflected the calm with which they moved.

The minutes passed while he waited alone in the sea of wild grass, away from the solitary building. He thought about his previous failures to kill Danavin. His fingers drummed lightly on the bone dagger. Not tonight, he thought, forcing his fingers to stop. Tonight, he would finally avenge Therese and Cara.

Unable to see anything but the tavern’s dimly lit windows, he listened. The only sounds disrupting the peaceful night were the babbling of flowing water to his left and chirping insects in the distance.

The assassins’ pulses quickened.

Drenan gripped the dagger tightly, and his other hand formed a tight fist. The scars on the backs of his hands stretched uncomfortably.

One of the heartbeats stopped.

He took a step toward the tavern.

The other heartbeat stopped.

The thought of failure forced its way back into Drenan’s mind. His hatred for Danavin compelled him to go and finish the man himself, but he clenched his jaw and ignored the urge. The plan was already set. The Overseers and soldiers were in place. He’d prepared for this possibility.

Drenan took one quick look toward the sleeping village down the road, then siphoned more Energy from the dagger. Using the heat pooling inside him, he sent Energy to the front wall of the two-story wooden structure and set it ablaze.

He continued feeding Energy to the fire and waited tensely as it grew. He forced himself to remain where he was, trusting his unit to stop Danavin from another escape. However, as the fire spread, memories of countless missed opportunities overwhelmed him and compelled him to move. He drew the dagger from his belt and strode through the grass toward the tavern.

An explosion boomed, freezing him in mid-step. “Danavin,” he said through clenched teeth. He broke into a run, the small scales of his armor permitting fluid and unrestricted movement. When he arrived at the road, the Overseer and leather-clad soldiers guarding the front of the tavern were moving around the sides of the building. “Hold your position!” he yelled, and the soldiers returned to their formation in the middle of the road. There was a stone annex attached to the side of the wooden building, and he moved quickly down the cart path between the annex and the creek.

At the back, corpses littered the ground around a gaping hole in the annex. Rubble was scattered into the distance as far as Drenan could see by the light of the fire.

The village alarm bell rang in the distance.

Drenan picked his way through the rubble and fallen soldiers. He entered the remains of the kitchen and stepped over the body of a woman lying in a pool of her own blood.

“He’s dead,” an Overseer said.

“Where’s his body?” Drenan said.

The black-armored man gestured at the door that divided the kitchen from the common room. It was engulfed in flames.

Drenan drew Energy from the dagger in his hand and, using Synthesis, shattered the door. He stepped closer to the doorjamb and peered into the burning tavern.

His eyes locked on a blackened body slumped by the stone hearth, clothes burning.

Danavin.

A long object lay on the floor next to Danavin, untouched by the fire.

His sword.

Drenan reached out with a thread of Energy and lifted the sword, drawing it through the flames toward himself. He grabbed it by the black bone blade, avoiding the decorative steel threads woven around the hilt to form a decorative cross-guard. He gasped at the deep beckoning force in the bone.

The bone blade felt cool in the surrounding heat. He held it up and inspected it. Light from the flames reflected from ribbons woven throughout the black bone. He knew that in sunlight those ribbons would be yellow.

Prize in hand, Drenan tucked his dagger into his belt and surveyed the damaged wall. It was imperative that no one suspect their involvement here. Time was short. “Get rid of the bodies outside,” he said. “Quickly.”

The Overseer stepped through the hole in the wall and called for the others. With help from the other soldiers, they gathered the corpses into a pile, and the Overseers used Energy to burn the bodies, reducing them to ash.

While the Overseers worked outside, Drenan picked up the woman and tossed her into the tavern. He scanned the room and found a body protruding from underneath a burning table. Nearby were two thin swords. One of the failed assassins. He retrieved the swords in the same manner as he’d retrieved Danavin’s, then searched the room for their throwing knives. He found them embedded in the wall near the stairs. After he’d collected them, he siphoned more Energy from Danavin’s sword and burned away the table and body hidden underneath. Where’s the other one? He didn’t want there to be more than two sets of remains found in the building on the morrow. Maybe upstairs? But searching up there was impossible.

“Draego’s Fire,” he swore through clenched teeth.

He was running out of time. With one more quick scan of the tavern, he decided it didn’t matter. It’ll be unrecognizable by time the fire’s out; an unlucky patron.

Drenan turned from the room and burned away the blood pooled on the stone floor where the woman had died. He frowned when he looked up at the hole in the stone wall. He hated the idea of leaving evidence behind, but the locals were on their way. He walked through the rubble, cursing Danavin for the mess, and signaled to the others that it was time to leave.

Drenan gave the assassins’ weapons to an Overseer, then led the group back to the sea of grass. At the top of a small rise, he stopped and turned around. Several torches floated down the road from the village toward the burning tavern.

A smile crept onto Drenan’s face. Finally, his wife and daughter were avenged.

He turned, sword in hand, and followed the others into the night.

 


 

Thanks for taking the time to read the prologue to The Path of the Synthesizer! If you enjoyed it or know someone who you think might, please consider sharing it!

I haven’t set a publication date yet, mainly because I don’t know for sure how long it will take for the many pieces to fall into place, but as soon as I know I will proclaim it. My goal is sometime this fall.

In the meantime, check out some of my other posts where I’ve talked about different aspects of my writing adventure. You can also keep up to date by liking my Facebook page as well as clicking the follow button on this website.

Stay tuned for sneak peek # 2…

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Refreshment

Refreshment

When I first started reading The Wheel of Time fantasy series back in high school there were five books in the series. Every time a new book was released I felt compelled to re-read all the previous books to refresh myself on the story so I would know what was going on. I eventually had to quit doing that because the series became so large it was impractical for me to read six, then seven, then eight, then nine, then ten, then eleven, then twelve, and finally thirteen books in preparation for the new release. And when a certain author finally releases the next book in his series made wildly popular by a certain HBO series I know for certain I will have to re-read the previous books because I have no clue what happened in the last one. I’ve simply forgotten most of what’s happened or where the last book left off.

The point I’m trying to make is that after a substantial break it’s time for me to return to Dradonia (that’s where The Path of the Synthesizer takes place). Having decided to self-publish my novels I am compelled to go back to the beginning for some refreshment. On the surface, the very thought of having to refresh myself on a novel that I authored seems a little silly but my memory really isn’t all that great. That and since the last time I visited The Path of the Synthesizer I’ve written revisions for book two and three in the series, wrote the first draft of book 4 (the ending which, IMHO, is pretty great), wrote drafts two and three of my detective novel, got a new job and crammed my head with a bunch of new job stuff, read a book or six, wrote a couple short stories, and who knows what else. The big picture stuff and highpoints of PotS are still in my head bouncing around but I am 100% certain there are details that I’ve forgotten.

So, while PotS is off for editing, I’m going to take the opportunity to read it anew. When the time comes for me to begin sifting through the editor’s notes and comments I want the details to be fresh in my mind.

I’m kind of excited. The most recent details of the story in my head are of the ending, of guiding my characters, or rather, letting them guide me, to their respective conclusions. Now, I go back to the town of Lonely Oak, to the Thornhill Tavern, where their stories begin.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Shifting Gears

When I first started writing a book I did it with the goal of being traditionally published, that is, a publishing company liked my book so much that they would be willing to take a financial risk on me and publish it. In pursuit of that goal, as I learned more about what publishers are looking for and what it takes to get published, I had to adapt my story in order to try and fit into a mold, so to speak. I wrote at length about this in an earlier post, so I won’t rehash it all here except to say that in the end, I was never able to achieve that goal.

One positive aspect to come out of the experience of attempting to get traditionally published was that while I was trying to sell The Path of the Synthesizer I continued working on the rest of the story. I split my original story (part of the trying to fit into a mold thing) into multiple parts–The Path of the Synthesizer being part one–and as I continued working on it I realized there was more to story to tell. When I made the split I thought I was going to have a trilogy but I ended up with a fourth book instead (yikes!). And the good news is that in large part (minus some revisions and editing) the series is complete!

Another thing that happened while I tried to sell book onewas that I slowly warmed to the idea of self-publishing. To some the very thought of self-publishing is taboo but to many (especially in today’s day and age of ebooks) it is the only way to go. I didn’t want to self-publish, I resisted the idea because I wanted to be traditionally published. But the idea slowly grew on me.

Which brings me to my recent announcement. I am going to publish The Path of the Synthesizer myself. I’ve made the decision to self-publish. I want to tell my story. I made this decision in part because I feel as though I have been spinning in circles for the last several years not getting anywhere with my writing. My story was written, but I couldn’t tell it (except to the select few who read it and provided me with valuable critique). I have other ideas and things I want to write (I already have a detective novel I wrote and am very excited about) but have had a hard time moving forward without finishing what I started.

Having made the decision to self-publish, I have committed myself to provide those of you who may soon read The Path of the Synthesizer with the best product I can. Which is why it is not yet available. Currently, the manuscript is in the hands of a skilled editor. When she is done with it, I will review her work and make revisions as necessary. I am also working with a professional cover designer to make an awesome cover. Once those boxes are checked I can begin the process of converting the material into both an ebook and a print edition.

The awesome news is that when The Path of the Synthesizer is ready you’ll be able to purchase it from just about anywhere you want. Whether it is ordering a print edition from your local independent book store (wink wink) or instantly download an ebook version onto your favorite e-reader.

Excitement is starting to build in me as I have taken a step forward. Something I have envisioned for several years will soon come to fruition.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hear Ye Hear Ye

BotD

As many of you know, for the last several years I have been striving to publish my first novel. Well, I’m here to announce that in the very near future I will be publishing The Path of the Synthesizer, book one of The Blessed of the Dragon!

The details are still wrinkled and in need of ironing but I promise that as I zero in on a publication date I’ll let you know. Right now I’m tentatively hoping for early fall.

In the meantime, follow me on Facebook and this website to keep up to date with news and announcements!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment