Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Painting with words

The only way a writer can conjure up an image in someone's mind is by using strong but not over burdensome words. Like a painter, the brush strokes must be light at sometimes and heavy at others. This is probably the hardest thing I struggle with because I am a lover of the conversation, and my books will tend to be very thick on dialogue.
But people need the scene and descriptive images to help lend body to the voice of what the characters are saying. I find myself constantly going back to a scene to rearrange the words in such a way that the picture is immediately in the person's mind prior to a word being spoken.

I've pasted a couple of excerpts of scenes from my second book, The Dragons Redress, that without it the dialogue that follows would seem hollow. I have shared these in other forums, but witholding certain words and conversations as that would give away too much of the story than I am willing to reveal. Nor will I reveal it here. ;-)

...Quick as a flash, a thickly-muscled arm slammed into her head and dazed her. Then with a vice-like grip, a hand encircled her neck and lifted Luel off of the ground. She made gurgling sounds in her throat as she struggled for breath. Her head started to clear somewhat and she could make out the features of this man she once called (identity withheld). Aside from the black eyes, his face was hard and angular. Eriyn’s mouth was drawn in a thin line, and his brow was furrowed in a menacing scowl. She caught a faint whiff of sulfur on his breath. Recognition seemed to slowly dawn on him as he released her, allowing her to fall to the ground....

...Luel knew she had to flee and warn Braylynn. She launched herself straight up, but Eriyn anticipating she might try something like this quickly reached out a hand and grabbed her by one of her wings. He yanked, and with the might of a demon lord to aid him, the wing made a ripping sound like a sheet torn in two as it separated from her body.
Luel let out a skin-crawling wail, the like of which was never heard from a faerie. Her body crashed to the ground and set off sparks in her head as the blood pooled around her. She tried desperately to stand before he killed her, pushing up with her hands only to have them slide in the blood soaked grass...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Into the Dark

I believe everyone has a dark side in them. And when I say ‘dark’ I don’t necessarily mean evil. I mean that side that houses' aggression, hate, fury, rage, wrath, etc..

It is those things that need tight control, and only allowed out in the right instances. For example, fury can be useful in certain sport situations, but left unchecked can spill over into destruction. In contrast, things like peace and tranquility need no restraints. I try to let my characters touch their dark side and use it to their advantage. Below is an excerpt from my book “The Dragon and the Faerie” that illustrates this. Donella is coming into her powers as Dragon Summoner via the instruction of the ghost of the Dragon Summoner before her.


“Now for the dragon crown,” Layla said. Donella removed her own silver circlet and placed it gently on Tera’s head. She kissed her forehead, then rose and was about to put the crown on her own head.

“Wait!” Layla exclaimed. “This is the hardest part. This will allow you to connect with dragons, but first you must see that dragon that is in you. That base aggression, those dark places you are afraid to go, that elemental raw power, everything must be brought to the surface. You must have the courage to accept this as a part of yourself. You needn’t be ashamed or loathe yourself afterwards.” She looked hard at Donella. “Are you ready?”

Donella was shaking a little, but she was resolved. “I am,” she replied.

“Put the crown on,” Layla instructed.

Donella was not prepared for the sensation she got when she placed the crown on her head. She sank to her knees as if a great force was pushing her into oblivion. She screamed and fought to stay in the light.

“Do not fight it,” she heard Layla say in the shadows of her mind. “Your darkness is a part of you, flow with it, but you control it.”

Donella stopped struggling; she rode the darkness as she would a horse. In her spirit, she saw that she was riding something. It was dark and had wings. Then it started to glow. It took on the form of the red dragon that was marked on her leg. The head turned around and looked directly into Donella’s green eyes. There was malevolence there, as if this creature wanted to hurt something or someone, to inflict pain. Realization then came to her. This red dragon was an extension of herself. It was her that wanted to cause much pain, specifically to Zana, and then to Devon. She loathed herself. This was not her. She thought on it for a moment, and then accepted the truth of the matter. It was her. She did want to inflict pain on Zana, a lot of pain. Donella brought herself under control and bent her thought on the red dragon to take her back to the light. When she opened her eyes, her friends were staring at her openmouthed. Like before when she had told Ala she was the Dragon Summoner, the edges of her green eyes took on a fiery aspect and her dark hair glowed with traces of silver like the color of moon beams.

Layla spoke one last time. “You are ready sister. Bend your thought as you did with the dragon inside you and the dragons of Vasara must come to you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I am a history nut. Many of the things we believe in the present are based on our perception of the past.

For example, we learn in grade school that in ‘1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue’, and discovered America. For the longest time we have one opinion of the man based solely on that. Then as we re-examine history, we find he wasn’t the first one to find America, and also may not have treated the natives all too well. Many would like to see Columbus Day done away with as more and more of the man’s past is revealed. To me Columbus was a hero, someone to be honored. Now, I’m not so sure. My belief in the man has changed based on my new perception of the past.

That is not why my topic is ‘History’ though. I just thought that was something interesting.

In regards to writing, I think weaving history into a novel is an amazing art. Taking something non-fiction and meshing it with fiction takes skill. One of my favorite authors Clive Cussler of the Dirk Pitt adventures does this with ease.

In my first novel, The Dragon and the Faerie, I try to explain a little of the history of the area in which Andy & Emilia’s adventure begins. I think it makes the story richer and more real to the reader. I’ve pasted the opening scene below. I hope you enjoy it.


As Andy walked farther up the path, he felt that the air had compressed around him. It was as if a thought were floating on the wind just dancing out of reach. He looked out across the water again and found himself staring at the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle. The castle never ceased to fascinate him. He couldn’t help but wonder what secrets were hidden inside its walls.

Andy remembered bits and pieces of the castle’s history. The castle was built in the early 1900’s as a place to warehouse old weapons from the Spanish–American War. Up a short path to the top of the hill on the island was a house, erected in the same Scottish style as the castle. Almost forty years ago, a fire ravaged the island and left the house and castle in a ruinous state.

“I wonder what really happened there,” Andy thought. No one knew the origins of the fire, which left the mind to speculate all kinds of answers. He had heard all the ghost stories that surrounded the place, and he couldn’t help imagining that some spirit or god of the island would not suffer anyone on its shores.

He remembered a tale his dad told him of an English war ship that was able to sail beyond the West Point cannons during the Revolutionary War and came to weigh anchor near the island. It was a dead calm when they put their dories into the water and rowed to the beach on its east side. As soon as their feet touched dry ground, the river became a rolling tempest. The wind rose to gale force and caught the sails, causing the ship to lurch violently and break up on the rocks hidden below the surface. Everyone on the ship perished. Those still on the island jumped into their boats and tried to row for the nearest shore, only to capsize and drown. Andy thought it was a fascinating tale, but he believes there could be some duplicity on his father’s part since history did not record such an event.


The tale about the English war ship is a tribute to the military significance of West Point. Andy suspects duplicity in his father’s story, and with good reason. For a ship to navigate the small stretch of water around West Point, the vessel needs to come to an almost complete stop to change from a north -south direction to an east-west, making it vulnerable to the cannons of Fort Putnam on the heights. This is why Benedict Arnold was so important to the English. The capture of West Point would split New England from the rest of the colonies, because the British would then own the Hudson.

History is awesome! I Love it!

Peace Friends!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Inspired Scenes

This post is dedicated to my sister-in-law Amanda Towsley and my good friend Sue Mallen.

Sometimes when I am writing, ideas for a scene will pop into my head based solely on what I feel or know about a person in my life. Passions that they have or some little idiosyncrasy will find its way onto my pages.
I've pasted the beginning of Chapter 2 of my second book "The Dragons Redress" below. The passion of the two ladies mentioned above will become obvious.

The scene centers on Abby who was rescued from the magical world of Vasara and brought into ours by Andy, whom she has loved from the first book. She is fast in acclimating herself to our world. I hope you enjoy it. Disclaimer: Please bear in mind it is a rough draft.

Chapter 2

Andy and his father had been sitting at the kitchen table as the morning sunlight poured through the window. Two years had gone by since arriving back from Vasara. Andy and Abby were set to graduate high school in a few days time. Abby, with a little help from Redlin, was brought up to speed on the academics of this world. The former library curator was a born scholar and she soaked up the information like a sponge.

“How did this happen?” Redlin asked his son.

“I don’t know. It may have been building up and I just never noticed. What are we going to do?”

“Abby’s her own person my boy, if she chooses the dark path there is nothing either one of us can do.”

Just then the object of their conversation came striding into the room. Abby was wearing jeans with a white short sleeve button down shirt. The shirt-tail was pulled out and the two top buttons were unfastened. Her brown hair was loose and spread out on her shoulders. Andy still thought she looked like a pirate when she dressed this way.

But it was what adorned the top of her head that had prompted the early morning discussion. Sitting above that lovely face was a ball cap with the logo of the Boston Red Sox affixed to it.

“I could hear you two in the living room,” Abby said placing her hands on her hips. “You Yankee wimps need to get used to the idea that this is not just a one ball club home anymore.”

Andy and Redlin cast sidelong glances at each other, not saying a word lest they unleash a tongue lashing from this Dragonsgate scholar.

“Well?” Abby said raising one eyebrow.

“Nothing,” Andy said shaking his head quickly before he said something he would regret.

Abby started to turn and walk back into the living room. She paused mid-turn and leveled a gaze at Redlin.

“I have been reading master wizard that the Sox were once under a hundred year curse. You wouldn’t possibly have anything to do with that would you?”

“Abby! I’m shocked that you would even suggest that. Besides, that curse was in place long before I ever got here.”

Abby feeling she had tormented them enough gave them a winsome smile and glided out of the kitchen.

“That smile of hers is deadly,” Andy remarked.

“That it is,” Redlin agreed. “I think if she wanted, we would be converted to Red Sox fans, and we would be powerless to stop her.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010



This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

Answer:  Time        - The Hobbit

Sorry I have been away, but I haven't been able to login. I have decided that this blog will become a weekly posting, because as the topic title suggests, time is an issue. I may post more, but I want to try and be diligent in posting at least once a week.

Time is my bane right now, or rather my perception of it. If I feel as if I do not have enough time in any one sitting to complete a thought of a particular scene, I do not even begin.

I know the reality of the situation is quite different, but how does one convince your mind of this. I believe we carry this thinking through to other areas of our lives. How many times have we failed to start something only because we felt the window of availability simply was not there. And no one really likes to leave a task half done.

I am going to try something radical for myself. I am going to write with the assumption that my scene will only be half done when I get up from my chair and turn my attention to other matters of life.

Be well my friends!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Muse

In Greek Mythology, a Muse was any of the nine daughters of Zeus & Mnemosyne. Each one a guardian of a different art or science. Their names are Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania. I am not sure which is the guardian for a novelist, but I will take whoever wants the job. I need all the help I can get.

A Muse can also be any guiding spirit or source of inspiration. For my first book, believe it or not, my Muse were two tattoo’s I had gotten on my arms to represent my son and daughter. They were a Dragon and a Faerie, and as soon as I decided on those images, it was like the flood gates were opened and the story poured forth.

People will say that’s just being superstitious, but I believe in it. I’m still waiting for the Muse on my current book. I will try and seek it out, but I know in the end, it will be my Muse that finds me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Places to Write

Some people need total or close to total silence in order to write. Location doesn’t really matter as long as it is quiet.

I am the opposite. For me location is everything. I can write on a crowded train or with music playing and not have a problem. But the setting has to be right to put me in the proper frame of mind.

Most of my writing takes place on my train ride home from work. The view of the Hudson River on one side and the Highlands on the other just makes me feel like I am in the world of my book.

Other favorite places are any of the historic mansions in the Hudson Valley. Those sweeping lawns and sprawling branches of the big trees just makes me want to reach for my laptop and start typing. Although at the mansions I’m not really there to write but rather spending time with my family. But I write in my head, which amounts to the same thing.

If anyone knows of some good places to write let me know. I’m always on the lookout for new settings.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I have decided I will try and write in this blog weekdays only. I might do an occasional weekend post, but I don’t want it to be something I hold myself to.

That being said, I want to talk about landscape art. This form of expression, after fantasy art, has done so much for my writing experience. I have always been a big fan of the Hudson River School of Artists, Frederic Church being one of my favorites.

These guys didn’t just paint the scene before their eyes; hills, trees and such. They painted the atmosphere as well; mist, rainbows, sunlight, haze and humidity. Things I like to call the living breath of the world.

When I write a scene, I try to put these elements into my locations in the hope of making it more real to the reader. I don’t know if I always succeed, but I feel my writing is better because of it. Here is one small example from my book “The Dragon and the Faerie”:

“Let’s go into the grotto where it is cooler,” Pan said. They walked the garden paths into the grotto. Donella was awestruck by the natural beauty of it. The rock was a white limestone. The roof of the grotto had several holes in it to allow sunlight to stream through. Decorative columns lined both sides of the walls and the back. The size of the space was immense. There were several reflecting pools with green plant life on tiered rocks throughout. There were two small waterfalls on either side that came out of the rock and spilled into a trough that ran through the grotto and irrigated the gardens beyond, and then disappeared into a subterranean stream that eventually emptied into the river they crossed.

One particular pool caught Donella’s eye and she walked over to it. It was rectangular and a stream of water came out of the rock to empty into a statue of a dragon’s head. The mouth was open in a silent roar as the water poured into a stone bowl below to fill up and overflow its sides. In the bowl was a white flower floating in stark contrast to the dark water. Donella found it curious that the flower stayed directly in the center of the bowl, neither moving from rim to rim nor spilling over the side. She thought of asking Pan about this but decided against. She found the mystery of it very appealing and she didn’t want to spoil it.

Until next time my friends! Peace!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Short Scenes

I originally posted this on FB for some good friends of mine and I thought it would be good to have it here as well. It is a cool little scene. I hope you like it.
There is an online writers group I belong to called the Writer's Dock Party (WDP), made up of writer's, producers, playwrights, poets, etc..
One of the threads was to write a scene that has the elements of a dance with the WDP as the location and also incorporating the next writer so they can carry it on. I've pasted the person who tapped me and my scene as well. Another rule was we had to write it in 20 minutes. It was a lot of fun:

Danielle Jeffery wrote:
No one can see me. I am standing back in the shadows hoping that one of the dashing young men would look my way.

It is a perfect night. I have never seen the moon shine so brightly.

The Writer's Dock Party is the hottest ticket in town, and I should be happy to be here, but I am miserable as I watch all the other beautiful women dance.

Someone might ask me to dance if I stood closer to the dance floor. But I am afraid to move. What if I trip? What if I bump someone? No, I will stay here in the shadows. I will be a miserable wallflower, invisible to the rest of the...

"Excuse me."

I jumped and looked towards the source of the voice.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to startle you."

I wanted to tell him that it was alright, but I couldn't find my voice. The lights from the dance floor made his eyes sparkle. He was tall and handsome, and he was talking to ME. What did he want?

He cleared his throat and said, "I've been watching you from the bar, and I was hoping you would come over so I could buy you a drink." He chuckled nervously, as I stared at him. As one song ended and another began, the man smiled and asked me, "May I have this dance?"

"I-I am not much of a dancer," I said, shyly.

He held his hand out to me and said. "Neither am I."

With all the boldness I could muster, I took his hand. "What is you name?"

"Roland Capalbo."

My Scene:

I took Danielle's delicate hand as I led her onto the dance floor. My head turned sharply to the left as I noticed the clock on the wall out of the corner of my eye. The church bells up the street from the WDP saloon started to sound. In my head I could already hear the train whistle that would carry me to my daily labours in the morning.

"My darling," I began. "I'm afraid we must continue this dance tomorrow. Will you wait for me?" I asked dreading her answer.

"I will," she replied with a winsome smile.

"Tomorrow then. But I should warn you. There is a faerie enamored of me, and she is extremely jealous. If we are not careful, blood may run into the sawdust beneath our feet. Until tomorrow..."

(I was tapped late at night and had to work the next day so I couldn't really start it.)

The next evening:

…The moon was unusually bright, making the objects below easily visible to the faerie riding the warm air currents, her wings barely moving as she glided down onto the porch of the public house of the bards, the WDP saloon. There was no one around, but laughter and music spilled out into the street from the bar’s noisy patrons.

The faerie stood in the shadow of the swinging doors and peered in. The bar stood on the opposite wall, with a balding red-faced man cleaning a glass behind it. Several scholars and scribes occupied the stools and were toasting some great success they had just achieved.

She scowled. Humans always had such a high opinion of themselves. But compared to faeries, their lives were just a vapor on the wind and blown away, time erasing any trace of who they were and whatever small accomplishments they may have achieved. The faerie scanned the room. Several oaken tables placed on a bed of sawdust formed a ring around a highly polished dance floor. The occupants seated at the tables were engaged in various gaming activities. But she did not come to play dice or cards. She was looking for a man, who had twice failed to show at the promised hour. She examined the dancers as each in turn spun in her direction. Then she saw him. Her eyes took on a feral look and the blood in her veins turned to ice as she witnessed his body pressed tightly against another female other than herself.

“Roland!” she shouted as she stepped through the swinging doors, the light fully illuminating her features.

The customers of the saloon turned as one toward the entrance to see a flaxen haired faerie. Her green eyes were blazing and her black wings were open and as rigid as iron pokers. She wore a soft leather skirt that ended at mid-thigh with a halter top covering her breasts to match, leaving her midriff bare. Buckskin slippers adorned her feet, with thin leather straps that crisscrossed up her perfectly muscled calf. Her eyes were slanted like a cat and she was taller than most men there. She kept pushing a stray lock of yellow hair behind her pointed ears as she studied the scene before her.

“Leah!” Roland cried holding Danielle closer to him.

Leah removed a small red stick, about the size of her palm, which had been attached to a strap that encircled her bicep. Pressing a hidden clasp the stick expanded into a six foot spear that was sharpened on both ends. She walked purposefully over to Danielle and pushed Roland behind her so that only a foot of space separated the two women.

She looked Danielle up and down, taking in her dark complexion and flawless skin as if trying to memorize every facet of her being. Danielle’s dress was cut low, and Leah could see her breasts rise and fall with her heavy breathing, worried this day might be her last. Leah tried to find some imperfection, something to make this human less in her eyes, but there was none. Bringing her eyes up to meet Danielle’s, a kinship was sparked between them, a sisterhood that all women of any race seemed to share.

Without even a flinch, or breaking eye contact, Leah thrust her spear behind her and up. The sound was a sickening crunch as it pierced Roland’s chest and came out his back. No cry was uttered. Not a sound from the bystanders of the bar. Blood ran freely down the spear and over Leah’s knuckles on its way to the floor.

Leah gave Danielle on last look as she muttered under her breath, “Human males are snakes, be wary of them.” She turned and braced her foot on Roland’s chest as she pushed him off her spear and let him slump to the floor.

She started to leave, but before reaching the swinging doors, Leah noticed a movement from one of the tables. She looked over and saw a man she recognized, who at the moment was trying for all he was worth not to be spotted. Leah smiled mischievously and walked over to him.

“Ed Crowe,” she said leveling the bloodied spear at his throat. “Let’s dance you and I.”

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thoughts Today

This is my first shot at doing a blog, so I believe it will take me awhile to really get use to it.

I'm still on the first chapter of my second book. I have family and friends eager to read it, but it has taking me sometime to really get the flow going. I try and write on the train ride home from work; however some days I feel just so tired that all I want to do is put my headphones on, listen to music and chill.
A part of me will feel guilty at this because I know people are waiting and I feel a certain responsibility to deliver on something I felt I promised. So for now I chug along, trying to write at least once a day. Two quotes come to mind in these situations:

"Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead." -Gene Fowler

(From JRR Tolkien's "The Return of the King)
Sam: Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon and the orchards will be in blossom, and the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And the whistle in the summer barley in the Lower fields. And eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?

Frodo: No, Sam. I can't recall the taste of food, nor the sound of water, nor the touch of grass. I'm naked in the dark. There's nothing--no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I can see him with my waking eyes.

Sam: Then let us be rid of it, once and for all. I can't carry the ring for you, but I can carry you! Comeon!

...The Frodo quote reminds me that even though you may feel naked in the dark, you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

This is my start. Hopefully this blog will be all that I intend it to be.