Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Taking time to smell the roses

I'm taking time to smell the roses.

Family coming in from out of town, so I'm off to catch up on things.  Setting priorities is always something I worry about.  However, family is near the top if not at the top of the priority list.  So I'm going to practice what I preach and put some things on hold in order to take care of other things.

Sometimes you have 10 lbs of potatoes and only a five pound bag.  Priorities help you to decide which potatoes need to go into the bag.  I'll discuss this in two weeks as well.  In the meantime everyone have a Happy New Year. 

Next week I plan on posting about new years resolutions, and the week after that weekly goals.

Have a prosperous and happy new year in 2012.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday's Time Tip: Focus on Goals pt 2: Midrange Goals

Split times, mile markers, and lunch breaks.  These are all points to let us know where we are.  As a swimmer, runner, or racer split times let you know how you are doing, if you are on the right pace, need to go faster, or slower.  Split times let you know how you are doing.  On a road trip the mile marker gives you feedback as to where you are on your journey.  At the beginning, middle or near the end.  Lunch breaks are great, you're halfway through the work day!

Mid range goals are the mile markers of success.  They are the points along your journey that help complete those long range goals.  Remember the five year plan?  These are the intermediate goals, the mile marker, the big goals that help you make the bigger goal.

So you've set up the long range goal.  Get a degree, build a house, write a novel, retire, to name a few.  There are major things that must be done to complete the larger goal.  Loan for a home, or get accepted into a university or collage.  Find a publisher.  These things are not hard to do, they just take some time, some planning, some down time to think through.

A lot of people fail at their goals, not because the goal isn't worthy, they just don't take the time to plan out how they will complete the goal.  Busy life make for a hard time to set goals and map out a plan to make it.  Successful people are those that do the things that other people don't want to do.

So lets start with a dream.  Say a dancer wants to own her own dance studio.  She is good at dancing.  So her five year plan is:

I own my own successful dance studio.

Now what will it take to have a dance studio?

A building.



Some business savvy perhaps?

So the midterm goals could be:

Get a business degree.
become a dance teacher

So our dancer needs to research business and dance schools.  She is talented and does well, so she gets a job as a dance teacher.  She can learn how to do the work, but the collage classes will teach her what she will need to do to be a successful business owner.

She will need to find a school that will work for her.  Learn what needs to happen to be accepted into the school.  Earn money for tuition.

So her list of things for midterm goals would be:

I have a job that will allow me to go to school.
I am accepted into business school
I make great grades.
I have a realtor.

So as she completes the things needed she is getting closer to her big goal, having her own successful dance studio.  So that is why a dancer is in an economics class.

She will need to write a business proposal for the bank to get a loan.

She will need a realtor to help her find a suitable building, or a builder to build a custom studio.

As you stop and think of things the list can grow and seem daunting.  Don't let it stop you.  That dream, that goal can be achieved.  Take the time to plan, set up the mid term goals and deadlines for key things to happen.

So what do you want to do?  What will you need to do to get there?

This seems simple enough, and obvious, but a lot of people do not take the time to do this simple part.  Set up the mile markers for your journey to complete the five year plan.  Research and figure out what it will take to get to be where you want to be.  Then get out there and do it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dr Alen Zimmerman's Tuesday's Tip: Dealing with Stress

Here is Dr. Zimmerman's Tuesday's Tip  I share it with his permission:

"Hold fast to time! Use it! Be conscious of each day, each hour! They slip away unnoticed all too easily and swiftly."Thomas Mann, novelist

Life can be very stressful. So can work. But often times people create (or at least tolerate) more stress than is necessary due to their unrealistic expectations and processes.

For example, people often say such things as: "I can't wait until our new product is launched ... I can't wait until the kids get back to school ... or ... I can't wait until Christmas." Somehow they think when that new product is launched, when the kids get back to school, or when Christmas is finally here, they'll have less stress in their lives. But it's probably not going to happen ... IF they don't have the skills and strategies to bring it about.

Considering this is the holiday season, I think there are three techniques that are especially appropriate and useful.

1. Decrease your wants.

If you look at the origins of most holidays, you'll find that most of them have some deep emotional, relational, or spiritual meaning. Thanksgiving, for example, is an emotional holiday; it's all about taking the time to feel and express your gratitude. Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day are relational holidays; they're all about communicating your love to those who mean the most to you.

Unfortunately, the original meanings of many holidays have been buried under a mountain of commercialism that puts the emphasis on "stuff." We're told by advertisers that if we just spent more money on "stuff" during these holidays we'd all be a lot happier.

The problem is ... there's little or no evidence to support that. The supposed connection between how much you have and how happy you feel just isn't there.

Talk to anyone who has spent time on a mission trip or a humanitarian venture. Ask them what they noticed about the people in some remote village, and you'll hear them comment on how happy the people were. The people they were helping had almost nothing in terms of "stuff," but they seemed to have more joy than the well-to-do folks back home.

Somehow or other, the least stressed people have broken their bondage to "stuff." They don't need the biggest, best, and newest of everything to be happy.

That's why I recommend Donald Horban's strategy of "decreasing your wants" during this holiday season ... where the overwhelming emphasis is on "stuff." Horban says, "We don't need to increase our goods as nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it." As soon as you do that, you will experience an immediate increase in your contentment, satisfaction, and peace of mind at home and at work.

2. Decrease your speed.

As changes come faster and faster, as more and more tasks are added to our schedules, it's only natural to speed up in hopes of keeping up. But that seldom works. More often than not, speed does little more than increase our stress and decrease the quality of our life and work.

Such was the case with one carpet layer who rushed through his job. When he finished his work, he stepped back to give it a final look. While looking, he reached into his pocket for his cigarettes and realized his pack was missing. At the same time, he noticed a lump under the carpet, in the middle of the room, about the size of his missing packet of cigarettes. Frustrated with his hasty job, the carpet layer realized he was in a predicament. There was no way he could retrieve his cigarette pack without ripping everything up and starting over.

So he decided to beat the object flat, thereby destroying any evidence of his mistake. Satisfied with the outcome, he picked up his tools, loaded his truck and couldn't believe his eyes. There on the seat of the truck was his missing pack of cigarettes. At the same moment, the homeowner's voice broke his disbelief by asking, "Hey, have you seen my gerbil?"

The carpet layer tried to reduce his stress by speeding up, but his speed led to mistakes and even more stress. And chances are, you've done the same thing. So take comedian Lily Tomlin's advice seriously. She says, "For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."

I know I had to learn that. For years, I was guilty of taking my family on rushed, hurry-up, hurry-up vacations. I would rush the family to a particular site, stay a couple of minutes, take a couple of pictures, get back in the car, and rush off to the next site and the next photo opportunity. I would herd the family around that way for a few days, and then I'd rush them home to develop our pictures and look at our vacation.

No wonder our vacation were exhausting and stressful. I had lost sight of the very purpose of the vacation by speeding my way through it. I needed to change and eventually did when I learned another stress-management technique from another comedian, Eddie Cantor. He wisely observed, "It's not only the scenery you miss going too fast, you also miss the sense of where you are going and why."

Do you need to slow down once in a while? Probably so. And would you enjoy the holidays more if you slowed things down a bit? Absolutely.

I know one yard worker would have enjoyed his job a great deal more if he had just slowed down. As Arnie Kunz tells the story, a woman hired two men to do some yard work. The day they came, she was giving a bridge party. During the afternoon, a guest looked out the window to see one man raking and the other performing majestic leaps and spirals in the air. "Hey, look at that," she said to her friends.

"What a wonderful gymnast," remarked another lady. "I'd pay him a hundred dollars to perform for our aerobics class."

The hostess opened the door and asked the fellow raking if he thought his friend would like the job. So he hollered to his partner, "Hey, Fred, do think for a hundred dollars you could step on that rake one more time?"

The point is simple. Too much speed turns into too much stress. The good news is ... YOU HAVE SOME CONTROL over the speed at which you live your life. Perhaps it's time you exercised some of that control.

Finally, in your quest to manage or eliminate your stress, especially during the holidays,

3. Give it to your Higher Power.

As I mentioned above, most holidays have an emotional, relational, or spiritual origin and meaning. And few holidays if any have more spiritual meaning than Christmas and New Year's Day. These two holidays say there is "something bigger" and more important in the world than me and my fears.

Of course, that "something bigger" is defined differently by different people. Some call it "God" while others call it their "Higher Power." Some call it "inner wisdom" and still others refer to their "guiding spirit."

I'm not here to argue theology with you, but I do know that millions of people have found incredible release from their stresses by giving their stresses to their so-called "Higher Power." That's why I liked the "Memo From God" sent to me by my friend and colleague Kathy Brown. The memo went as follows:

TO: You
DATE: Today
FROM: The Boss
SUBJECT: Your life

I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems. Please remember that I do not need your help. If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. It will be addressed in My time, not yours. Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold on to it.

  • If you find yourself stuck in traffic, don't despair. There are people in this world for whom driving is an unheard privilege.
  • Should you have a bad day at work, think of the man who has been out of work for years.
  • Should you despair over a relationship gone bad, think of the person who has never known what it's like to love and be loved in return.
  • Should you grieve the passing of another weekend, think of the woman in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to feed her children.
  • Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance, think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.
  • Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror, think of the cancer patient in chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.
  • Should you find yourself at a loss, pondering what life is all about, asking what is your purpose, be thankful. There are those who didn't live long enough to even get the chance to think about it.
  • Should you find yourself the victim of other people's bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities, remember things could be worse. You could be one of those people!

Stress is not a disease you catch. Stress is the result of the choices you make.

This holiday season, make new choices. Make better choices. Choose to decrease your wants, decrease your speed, and give it your Higher Power. You will see the stress in your life and your work go away.

Merry Christmas!

Which of the three stress-reducing choices will you make this week? How will you start? How will you keep it up?

2011 Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman, a full-time professional speaker who specializes in attitude, motivation, and leadership programs that pay off.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday's Time Tip: Focus on Goals: Long Range

I like this quote, "Remember when you see a man at the top of a mountain, he didn't fall there. 
– anonymous"
To get to the top of that mountain takes planning and follow through.  But first it takes desire, that fellow wanted to be on top of that mountain.  Getting to the top was his goal.

A lot of successful businesses have a “five year plan”.  I’ve heard jokes where the punch line is, “Oh, that is on the five year plan.”    The idea is to map out where you would like to be in five years.  How can you project where you want to be in five years?  Grief some days I can not predict what I’ll be doing in the next 10 minutes, let alone worry about next week!

I look at things this way.  We are on the river of life.  Are we clinging to a log and going where the current takes us?  Or, are we on a raft, with a pole pushing away from the rocks and shore line?  Or are we in a comfortable yacht sipping drinks and listing to music and enjoying the voyage? 

I want to be on the sail boat all comfy and enjoying the cruise.  So how do you let go of the log, get off the raft, and climb aboard the ship?  By setting goals and working towards them.  The nice thing about the boat is you are in control of where you will be on the river, not at the mercy of the river.  You have to understand the currents and flow, but you use them to get to where you want to be.
So what matters most?  I’m not talking about things, I’m discussing life and relationships.  Things are great, but trying to get the big house, nice TV, big car, or what ever the item is, once you have it then what?  How is the relationship with your spouse/significant other?  With your parents, children, friends?  What are you doing to make those things better?  Yes, a nice place to live is important.  Income is important.  Those items do help make life a lot more pleasant.  But what good is a great home if the family living there is broken?

So look at your life.  Where are you now?  Where would you like to be?  Where do you want to be five years from now?

Decide what you want and write the goal as if you already have the goal is accomplished.

I own my own successful business.

I am a published author.

I enjoy my new home with my family.

I enjoy my retirenment and spend time with my grandchildren.

I have a collage degree and have a new career

I think you get the idea.  How to get to these long range goals depends on midterm and short term goals.  The rest of this month’s Thursday’s tips will focus on the other types of goals and tricks for achieving them.  That way the five year plan will work.  These are not just dreams.

Case in point.  Several years ago I saw some houses being built.  I love to go through homes, looking at the construction and the floor layout.  So when I got home I told my wife about the houses.  I said, “Lets go walk through them and see what they look like.”

“No, I don’t want to,” She replied.

“Why not? It will be fun.”

“Because you’ll start dreaming about them, and I’m not ready to move yet.”

She understood that I would start to think about changing things, and setting goals and making things happen so we could get a new home.

I took her no as a great compliment.  (We did eventually look at the homes, and yes I did build a nice home and moved the family into it.)

So if you do not like where you are at in life right now, where do you want to be?  If you are happy, what do you need to do to stay?  The river is flowing, and we will be going down the river, how we go is up to the goals you need to set.  What is your five year plan?

Take the time to write down some long range goals.  Look at your relationships, your finances, your situation.  Next week I’ll discuss mid range goals.  The steps that you’ll need to take to make the five, ten, or even 20 year plan come into focus and achievable. 

What do you think?  What have I missed?  Any other thoughts on setting five year plans?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Interview with Alisa Jeruconoka on her supernatural fantasy fiction

Today I've the pleasure of introducing Alisa Jeruconoka, from London, England. She is e-publishing her supernatural fantasy book, Unparallel Worlds. I met Alisa on Twitter and she agreed to an interview on her new book. So here are my questions and her answers.

What is the status of your manuscript?

‘Unparallel Worlds’, is currently being edited, so I hope to have a release date and book cover by the middle of November 2011. I will then upload ‘Unparallel Worlds’ to Kindle at Amazon, Goodreads and Smashwords.

The story will be written over three books. The first release is supernatural fantasy fiction, which is called ‘Unparallel Worlds’, the second book of the series will be urban fantasy (no name as yet), the third and final book in the series will return to fantasy.

Did you use any beta readers?

Yes, but these were mainly friends and family who graduated in Arts& Literature. Although it’s a well-known fact that you can’t really rely on family and friends feedback to be honest and critical…but…I can assure you that before publishing every opinion counts. Here are a couple of quotes from established authors, which made me realise how important it is to have support from friends and family:

Neil Gaiman in ‘NeVerwhere’ acknowledged his appreciation for Lenny Henry, friend and colleague, ‘Who made it happen all the way…’

Alan Campbell in ‘Scar Night’ dedicated his first novel to his Dad, ‘Who has never failed to do everything he could to achieve my dreams and ambitions…’

And ,finally, Cassandra Clare in the ‘Mortal Instruments’ said ‘How quickly the whole thing would sink…if you didn’t have the help of your friends…’

But, please don’t get me wrong beta readers are important. You can ask for help on your own blog, website even on Facebook. Good luck

Do you have any critique partners?

Not at the moment. I’m about to register on a free site called ‘Critique Circle’.

I’ve found a very useful ‘Kindle Boards Community Centre’ where you can always turn for an advice, suggestions and comments.

Or you can join the clubs on where a lot of people are ready to help.

TRUST is the key to accepting criticism on these types of forum.

Are you self- editing, or did you hire a copywriter to edit your manuscript?

I felt that I needed to hire an editor. The thing is ‘THE FINAL STEP’ is a very challenging and time-consuming process. The novel is completed and you immediately want to tell the world about it. However, a fresh perspective from outside your bubble is very beneficial before you embark on the journey of publishing.

Why self publish?

As a first time author, in order to get the debut noticed I think it’s very important to try out different channels to get as much exposure as possible.

Did you think about getting an agent and publishing the traditional way with a book publisher?

In an ideal world this would be the easiest way to publish, attracting interest via the traditional route is a battle in itself. This is my first novel, it is at this stage, easier to go down the self- publishing route as at least the book will be out there and available for people to read.

When do you write?

I would love so much to spend all my time writing. This has become my passion, my release, I mainly write during the night through to dawn sometimes seven days a week dependent on inspiration.

How do you balance your life?

It’s very hard at the moment to balance life, but you manage, I have three great passions, my toddler, a very supportive husband and of course writing. So with a lot of juggling all three can be nurtured.

Any advice for other writers?

I myself, take great inspiration from the author P.J. Hafner who once said ‘Get from "Aspiring" to "Published and Selling" as soon as you can, make sure there are no typo's, etc, then get the next book started, and do the same with that one. Numerous titles from an author can find a readership like nothing else.’
On top of this, ignore writer's block...and never pay for advertising. I would instead suggest frequenting sites such as Kindle Boards, and to make a bunch of Listmanias on Amazon, which relate to your book, once your title appears on Amazon.’’

What do you attribute to your success?

Experiences in my life, visiting beautiful places around the world and my imagination

I put a brief synopsis of my book on Facebook (‘page ‘Unparallel Worlds’) and once the book is out I will put a brief video on YouTube. Please check my website Unparallel Worlds and you can find me on Twitter: @granuk or Facebook or Goodreads

- Alisa Jeruconoka!

book cover copy-write 2011 used by permission

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Guest Blogger Robert McNeil Finding Time to Write!

I met Robert on Twitter. We shared a few tweets and I approached him and asked if he would be interested in doing a guest appearance here on the Write Time. He agreed, but he was off to Hong Kong.

Well it was worth wait, here is what he put together for us. Thanks for taking the opportunity to share with all of us here, Robert.


A big question for many beginning writers is, "How do you find time to write?"

I've read advice by some seasoned writers who advise disciplining yourself to write a certain number of hours each day, or turn out a certain number of words each session. If that works for them, that's great. I know that approach would not work for me.

My problem is, I have never had time to write. I don't live a leisurely life where I can sit for hours at the computer crafting beautiful stories. In my "day job" I'm a conference speaker and dean of a graduate school. I also spend a lot of my time traveling.

For most of my adult life, a typical work week has been 70 or 80 hours. Every week! And there's always been more to do than I have time to accomplish.

I'm not complaining. I love what I do! I teach, I travel, and I speak. But it's a very demanding career.

Yet I've also had a strong urge to write. I always seem to have 4-5 books simmering on the back burner of my mind, just waiting for the time they can make their escape onto a printed page.

My first non-fiction book was written on vacation. The book had been burning inside me for months. So while my wife and kids relaxed and visited with family and friends, I sat with laptop open, writing.

My second book found its way to paper while I was stranded for two weeks on the Island of Cyprus, waiting for a kidney stone to pass (not a fun experience!) I didn't even have a laptop along, so I sat on the terrace of our friends' home, overlooking the beautiful Troodos mountains of Cyprus, typing my book on a PDA (remember those?) using a portable fold-up keyboard! (Turned out to be one of my best sellers!)

For me, writing always has had a pregnancy aspect. I have a book on the inside and it's growing and developing, looking for a time it can be birthed. And when that time finally comes, there's no holding it back.

Because of that, I find it hard to relate to statements from writers who have to discipline themselves to write a certain number of words a day. To me, writing is not a job or a chore. It's an all-consuming passion. It's not a task I must remember to do, like cutting the grass and cleaning the garage. The book growing within me becomes a living thing, demanding to be expressed on paper, threatening to explode if I don't let it out.

Let me share how I wrote Iona Portal, my first fiction book. Iona Portal is a Science Fiction thriller that views the ancient battle between good and evil through the lens of Science Fiction. I like to think of it as Lord of the Rings meets The Matrix. (As of this writing, it's the top-rated science fiction book on Amazon, and rated #2 for mysteries and thrillers.)

At the start of the project, I had a vague idea of what the book would be about, but not a clue as to any details.

I started with the characters. I wrote a biography of each one, formed a mental picture of what each one looked like. I even scoured the internet to find photographs of people that matched my mental picture of each one.

These people became more than names on a page. I knew their strengths and weaknesses, their struggles and fears... even what their voices sounded like. I knew them so well, I'd be walking through an airport and see someone walking the other way and think... "She looks just like Lys Johnston!" In short, these characters became real people to me. I CARED what happened to them.

Stephen King once said, "I try to develop sympathy for my characters, then I turn the monsters loose!" That was my next step.

Once I had the characters, I let the action start. Iona Portal begins with a gripping scene where our strong female lead, Lys Johsnton, finds herself driving a narrow mountain road in the middle of the night pursued by two strangers with blood-lust in their eyes.

I wrote the first version of that chapter with no idea where the story was going. Lys Johnston was in a dire situation., but I cared about her, and willed her to survive.

In the next scene, I added the next character. The characters began to interact. Then, as the story progressed, the direction of the book became clear. More characters were added, and "the plot thickened!" How would these people manage to survive and save their world from disaster?

And so the story gripped me. It burned within me. I didn't have to schedule times to crank out words.

I'd often wake up at 3 in the morning with the next part of the story running through my mind. I'd get up, turn on gas logs in the fireplace, pour myself a coffee, then lean back in my recliner ... and write. I had no choice! Lys Johnston needed me! She had to find a way to overcome the armies of darkness and save the planet from destruction!!!

So that's my advice for time management for writers. Don't allow your writing to become a mechanical chore. Don't let it be a job or an obligation.

It has to be a passion! If the story doesn’t grip you enough to draw you back to write, how will it ever draw your readers back to read?

So, be excited about what you are doing. Be passionate. And the time to write will come.

Find more about Robert David MacNeil at his website,

Find Robert's book, Iona Portal at

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blog Award:

The Write Time is a recipient of One Lovely Blog Award. Krista bestowed the award and so I give her a heart felt thank you. I am honored that she has my blog picked as one of her favorite blogs. She is one of my first followers.  Thank you again Krista, glad I've been able to keep things going to your satisfaction. She blogs over at I take Pen.

Krista write Science Fiction and Fantasy. So stop by and visit her blog. 

The rules of the award are to thank the person who gave it to you and link back to them. Check.

Pick some of your favorite blogs.

Here are five of my favorite blogs, in no particular order.

From the Write Angle A team of 14 very talented writers who came together to build this collective blog on all things writing.  I've come to know several of them from AQC, and two of them have even been kind enough to do author interviews here on The Write Time. (I guess they'll have to vote on their favorite blog, or each contributor gets to pick his/her favorite blog!)

Utterances of an Overcrowded Mind by Paul Dorset.  He has links from twitter to his blog, and I find myself reading his posts a lot He has great insight, and if you are doing the writing thing, you need to stop by his blog and see what things are about.

Yesternights Voyage by Joyce Alton.  Joyce has a wonderful blog.  She currently has 31 followers.  She has some wonderful, thoughtful posts.  Great links and jumping off points from her blog as well.  She too is also over at AQC and runs the Speculative Fiction Forum.  She does a lot of work and gives great feed back.  Check out her blog, and sign up and become a follower.  You'll be glad you did.

Questions and Archetypes A weekly writing blog from the mind of J.W. Troemner.  She completed Nanowrimo.  Need I say more?  A dedicated writer with a wonderful ms she is closing in on publishing.

Ready, Write, Go, but I think it has been renamed Cherie Writes On the pursuit of writing (and happiness)...and other miscellanous writerly things.  She too is another winner of the Nanowrimo.  Congratulations Cherie.  I think this is one blog award her blog has not received yet. Cherie was a great help when I was setting up my blog.

I like a bunch of other blogs, just check out the left hand side.  There are several blogs I also like, but the writers are the contributors to from The Write Angle.

So there you have it.  Several blogs I like, so enjoy your awards everyone -- and share the love.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Goals? What is a goal?

November was national novel writing month (nanowrimo). The goal was to write 50,000 words in a month, which is about half a novel.

I opted not to participate this year. My plate was full enough, and trying to pound out 50 K in a month. Lets just say that wasn't a priority for me.

However, it did get me to thinking about setting goals. My writing friends have a lot of goals. They go with so many words a day on their stories, or so many minuets/hours of writing a day. When I use to run, I'd have goals of how far I would run, 3K or 6k or just a couple of miles.

Someone once said, "If you see a man on top of a mountain, he didn't just fall there." So accomplishments come because of goals.

There are three types of goals. Long range, mid range and short range. The goals may not look alike, but if used as a group great things can happen.

Remember Alice in Wonderland? Alice came to a fork in the road. The Cheshire cat was watching her from a tree. When questioned about where the roads went he asked Alice where she wanted to go. She didn't know, so any road would take her there.

Don't let the river of life just hurl you downstream. Have a plan, decide where you want to be and make a run for where you want to be. If not, you'll find yourself in places you never intended, or want to be in.

So take some time, it is December. January is just around the corner with all those new year's resolutions. Figure out what you want to accomplish in the next year, set those as your goals/resolutions. Then set out to do them everyday. If you can accomplish something you love to do each day your feelings of self confidence, and self worth will be fulfilled.

So where do you want to be a year from now? Five years from now? What do you need to change to start moving in the direction you want to go?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Interview with Published Author Calista Taylor

Today I have an interview with Calista Taylor an agented author. I say “agented author” as if it is a badge of pride. It is. (I am looking for an agent myself.) She has published two e-books. She is a Moderator at AQC, has her own blog and is a contributor to The Write Angle Blog. Yes a very busy lady and she was gracious enough to agree to an interview. So on the other side of my virtual mike is Calista:

Why did you choose to write steampunk?

I've always read stories that take place during the Victorian time period, so steampunk was a great fit. It let me explore writing in a time period I really enjoyed, but also allowed me the ability to be more creative and build my own world.

What are some of the challenges of writing steampunk?

I think the research can offer some challenges, depending on how historically accurate you decide to keep your story, but that's actually one of the advantages of writing steampunk versus a traditional historical-- it's your world to tweak and make your own.

How much research is required for your genre?

Since I've always read books that were placed in that general time period, a lot of it came naturally. As for the rest, there are so many incredible websites out there. But again, because you're creating your own world, it's really up to you how close you want to stick to being historically accurate.

You have three books in the works, two are e-books Viridis which is a free book, just download. The next book in the series is now available Death on a Sparrow's Wing. (This one is not a free book.) Fox Chapel Publishing will be releasing Everyday Steampunk craft book in the Spring of 2012. Three different methods of publishing. What are the pros and cons of each of your approaches?

I think the two ebooks need to be looked at as one approach to publishing. I released the first book for free, knowing many wouldn't take a risk on an unknown author. The hope was with no risk, they'd download the book if it sounded interesting. Then if they liked the first, they'd be willing to pay for the second. So far, this seems to be working pretty well. As for the third book, I think trying to self publish something that has so many pictures, would be a formatting nightmare for the novice. The con is the royalty rate is that of a traditional publishing deal, versus the much higher percentage that accompanies epublishing.

Do you have more stories in mind in the Viridis series? Any hints or spoilers you want to share?

Definitely!! As long as my characters are happy to keep chatting and getting into trouble, then I'm happy to write their story. As for hints and spoilers, I think we'll see more of the secondary characters as they tell their story.

Did your query letter work to get your agent?

I did indeed query my agent with my fiction novel. Unfortunately, that relationship dissolved when the agency changed the genres it was representing. As for my non-fiction agent, he approached me to take on the steampunk craft project after seeing the blog I posted on wearing the leather corset I made to a steampunk event.

Did you have beta readers for your steampunk books? Where did you meet your beta readers?
I've had several beta readers, in addition to critique partners. I've met most of them via Agent Query Connect.

For your self published works, how did you do the editing and proofing?

For Viridis, my agent went through multiple edits and proofing with me, in addition to my critique partners and betas going through the manuscript.

What do you have to say about the negative critiques Viridis has on Amazon?

I'll admit, some of the negative reviews have been frustrating. There are a couple reviews that commented on editing errors, when the truth of the matter is that I believe most of what they're referring to are stylistic choices, such as fragments, or clipped sentences, designed to stress a certain scene or emotion, or in some cases due to the style of language that I've tried to convey as being of that time period. I try to look at it objectively though-- I know my book isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, so I try my best to focus on the positive. It can be hard though.

How much time do you set aside for writing and research?

I tend to write every day for several hours. If I have free time, I write or edit.

How do you balance your life?

I find it's hard to get that balance right. I do have two young kids and a crazy dog, so they make sure I take time away from my lap top.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Just keep writing. It really is as simple as that.

What do you think the key to your success is?

I think I'm passionate about my writing, my characters and my stories, and I hope that comes across in my writing.

And there you have it. Calista has a website, a blog, and is a contributing writer for The Write Angle.

Calista Taylor is an agented author of steampunk/gaslight romance and non-fiction, with a steampunk romance series currently available, and a steampunk clothing craft book due out in May 2012.

She lives in New England with her husband, her two girls, an ancient cat and a crazy dog.

When not running things over with a sewing machine or lacing herself into a corset, Calista can be found tapping away on her laptop, tormenting her characters, and riddling the streets of Victorian London with dead bodies and heaving bosoms.

She's also a creative cook who can't follow recipes, a versatile crafter, and a happy geek.

Happy Thanksgiving

Just a note today.

Enjoy the day with your families, loved ones, and friends . Stop and think about what you are truly thankful for.

Taking some time to reflect may help with putting things into perspective. Figure out what is most important in your life. Knowing what is important in your life can help with setting your priorities so you can accomplish what is important to you.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

Coming up I've three author interviews, three different approaches to getting their stories out. I'm excited about the interviews and I think they will be well received.

Again hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guest post over at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire

I have a guest post over on Mindy's blog (aka BBC). What Color was the Horse? Check out her blog.

After the Storm

There is a line in The Princes Bride that I just love, well many actually, but this one comes to mind for this post. Let me set it up: The Man in Black and Indigo are having an epic sword fight on the top of the Cliffs of Insanity. Back and forth they battle, and Indigo realizes his skills have been bettered asks, "Who are you?"

"No one of consequence," the man in black answers.

"I must know."

"Get used to disappointment."

And that is the line I love, "Get used to disappointment."

It is so true, life is too full of disappointments, and on a larger scale tragedies.
I am not making light of tragedies and life's storms. I've seen devastation first hand.

I've dug out from huge snow storms. I was on site after the Oklahoma City Tornado ripped through a section of the city. I saw 2x4's imbedded in trees, where all the grass was sucked out of the ground. Where the only thing left of someone's home was the foundation.
I was in New Orleans after Katrina. I was one of the first into a home after the flood waters receded. The odor of the mold was so bad... But we managed to salvage some photos and some keepsakes that had stayed above the flood waters. I helped to haul debris from the homes and tear out the molded sheet rock and prep houses to begin rebuilding. I helped to cut downed trees from homes and schools in Baton Rouge after Gustav came through. I've seen devastation first hand, and lent a hand in rebuilding.

Each of my children, and my dear wife have had traumatic events in their lives. Cut tendons, torn mouths, traumatic amputations, depression, and yes, even death. I share this to make a point.

The sun always comes back up. The storm passes. Life goes on.

We are then left with a choice. Do we let the disappointment, the tragedy, the set back defeat us, throw up our collective hands and say, "I'm done?" or do we dig in, reach deep down inside us and find that inner strength and move on?

I remember all the devastation Katrina left behind. There wasn't a place untouched by ruin. Trees were cut up and stacked along the road, trees and trees and trees! There wasn't a business sign that wasn't blown out. Bent polls, blue tarps on homes, and general mayhem and disruption the storm left behind.

However everyone rolled up their collective sleeves and dug in. Little by little things got better. Six years later things look better than before. True there are scars, but overall things are better.

I've recovered from my set backs. Others have too. The thing I've learned is this: The sun always comes out after the fury of the storm has passed. Hope comes with the sunrise. After a spring shower, the air feels fresh and smells clean. True, I've dug out after the snow storm, but things feel new. It is so peaceful outside in the cold air with the snow shovel. It is peaceful, time to think, and when I'm done the walkway and driveway look great. The sun dries out the cleared area, and things are "as they should be."

A friend's home burned to the ground. They rebuilt and have a better home than the one they lost. I lost a job, but the new jobs have taken me to places and done things I wouldn't have done if I had kept the job I had.

I read a book several years ago, The Greatest Salesman in the World. There was a section in it that said, "This too shall pass."

Great thought. No matter how bad things are, they will pass. Enjoy the good while it is with you as it too will pass. Life is full of ups and downs. Enjoy the good, and remind yourself the sun will rise after the storm passes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Time Tip - Another tool to keep your life organized and effective.

I’ve covered using a calendar, having one to put all your activities on. I’ve also talked about color coding activities to help keep yourself organized. There is another tool at your disposal, if you are on line a lot and are always into your e-mail and love getting updates. This nifty online gadget is the Google Calendar.

If you use Google a lot check out their calendar. The advantage with online calendar it will work with you online systems. It sends e-mail reminders for your appointments. It has colors so you can color code your activities.

Because Google Calendar is online you can access it from any computer. This gives added flexibility and ease of use, two key factors in using anything. True there is a learning curve, and yes it does take up some time to use it, however, the benefits outweigh the time frame. So if you are wired and busy, take a look at using the Google Calendar, it may be the tool you need to finally get it all together.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Congradulations Mindy!

Last week's guest blogger, Mindy McGinnis just nailed down her first contract for her first book. I've talked a lot about Agent Query Connect (AQC) and this is why. She was able to get an agent, and the agent landed her a publishing contract. Check out her blog where she tells her story

Congratulations BBC - that is what she goes by over at AQC, that is how I met her, so she is BBC to me! Here is the official blurb about her book(s):

Mindy McGinnis's NOT A DROP TO DRINK, the story of a teenage girl surviving in a rural America where an ounce of fresh water is worth more than gold and death wanders the countryside as thirst, cholera, and the guns of strangers; when her mother dies in an accident, the girl must decide between defending her pond alone or banding together with a crippled neighbor, a pregnant woman, a filthy orphan, and a teenage boy who awakens feelings she doesn't understand, to Sarah Shumway at Katherine Tegen Books, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Adriann Ranta at Wolf Literary Services (World).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday's Time Tip - Sticky Notes

Last week Mindy aka BBC was talking about how she organizes herself. She mentioned sticky notes and had a picture of her desk and noted her sticky notes. That reminded me of this picture.

The sticky note is a great temporary permanent tool. Yes, an oxymoron. I use the post-it/sticky note when I do interviews. I cannot write on the applicant’s application but I can write on a sticky note and post it on the application. It doesn’t fall off and it stays with the file – permanent. Yet if I decide to hire the individual, I can pull the sticky note off the document and throw the note away, thus temporary.

The sticky note can be used as a tool. I don’t recommend it as the way to organize, but they can be used as “note to self” type things. Reminders in conspicuous places, such as the bottom of your computer monitor, bathroom mirror, or on your calendar. I recommend having a calendar/planner where you put all your appointments, but there are times where you don’t have access to that. The sticky note works for a quick note to put somewhere to remind you of the event. You can put them in your planner for a quick jog when things are hectic. Then when you have a moment, or when you organize your day you can refer to your temporary note and move the information to the calendar/planner. My current job does not lend itself to having a planner on hand. So I too use some sticky note system for some reminders on the bottom of the computer screen. Phone numbers for one time calls. Or like Mindy aka BBC does, web address to do research with on the monitor.

That about covers the sticky note idea. I’ve another tip in mind for next week. What do you use sticky notes for? Please share.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Last month in the AQC Spec Fic forum we had a little contest. Write between 800 and 1500 words from the POV of an animal. The animal finds it is able to reason as a human and speak. The animal must go to a carnival or some other function. The animal must be looking for something or someone. At some point your character will need to talk to a human.

So with those parameters here is my story. At one point it was tied for first but was eventually edged out by Tom and Jerry.

So here is the short story, just for fun.


This time man-scent didn’t mean danger. Lobo was amazed to feel the pain fade away. His eyes snapped open and he saw the man stand and turn. He would have lunged and clamped his jaws on an arm or a leg, except that the man spoke to someone else, and Lobo understood the man sounds.

“What are you doing, Nilrem?”

That voice sounded harsh to Lobo.

“I thought the wolf was dead, but he isn’t. Best to leave before he awakes, wouldn’t you agree?”

Nilrem had done something. The pain was gone. He had lost the fight, he had severe wounds. But now he was healed, and he could understand the man sounds. He didn’t smell fear on the one called Nilrem.

“The king wants you out of the kingdom, so I’m getting you out of the kingdom you rouge wizard!”

The men mounted the horses and rode away.

Lobo got up and walked to where the men had been a few moments earlier. He could smell horse, man, and ink. Ink? Yes it was ink. There was a parchment left on the ground near a bush, the source of the ink scent.

Lobo looked at the parchment and saw the man marks, but he could read the man marks! Astonished Lobo read, “You must warn the king. There are men who will kill him at the carnival tonight. I cured your battle wounds, you are in my debt. Payment is warning the king.”

A note to a wolf? Yet things looked different to Lobo. Now scents had names. Sounds had more meaning.

The man place wasn’t far. Lobo avoided the place. No hunting there. The pack didn’t go there. The pack…

The pack, his pack. Lobo turned to return to his home, note forgotten. He didn't know who the king was anyway.

Pain seared through his shoulder. His back twisted. Lobo dropped to the ground. The anguish raked his body. Lobo gave up trying to go home. Once decided the spasms and throbbing passed. Slowly Lobo climbed back to his feet. The man place wasn’t that far.

He turned and began to go down the canyon towards the man valley. The pain lessoned with each stride. The wolf stopped and turned back. Throbbing agony erupted once again, stronger than the last episode. Lobo passed out.

He awoke later. He felt whole again. He thought about returning to the pack, but his shoulder began to throb. So he turned back towards the men’s habitation. The throbbing faded. Lobo decided that he would find this king and warn him. Then he could return to the pack and get his revenge…

Lobo began to trot as he followed the scent of the horses. He followed the trail then slowed. He sprang to a low rock outcropping and sniffed the air. Fire! He sniffed the air, no not a wild fire, a man fire. He perked his ears. Man talk near the fire, not far, down the ridge, but off of the trail. Trial, yes that was the name for it. Lobo sprang from the ledge and into the brush. He worked his way down the ridge and crouched by a large outcrop of rocks. He settled down and laid his head between his front paws and perked his ears.

It was a large collection of temporary dens. There were many fires, and many people around. There was a larger group near a fire close to his vantage point.

“Tonight during the carnival.”

“Too many people around,” a second voice said.

Lobo could see two of the men sitting near a small fire. He could smell burning meat. There were other odors Lobo couldn’t identify, but it was other man food odors. Man had many smells. The two men had different colors of head fur. One was dark brown; the other man had a tail on the back of his head. No, not a tail, his fur was very long and black. He also had fur covering his face.

Furry face poked a stick in the fire. “King has to die, but why during carnival?”

“I can get lost in the crowd,” Brown Tuff explained.

“How are you going to do it?”

“Knife,” Brown tuff held up his blade. Man had strange claws and teeth. That was what made man so dangerous. Brown Tuff had a steel fang in his paw and could throw it.

The fire scent was strong, but Lobo caught Brown Tuff’s scent as well.

Suddenly several dogs began to bark.

“What has them riled up?”

The men got up and began to look around. Lobo decided now was the time to leave. He trotted towards down the canyon heading to the valley where there were many man dens. The sounds of the barking dogs faded as he lopped towards the mouth of the canyon.

The sun was setting as Lobo entered man pack territory. A huge dog barked and growled, the fir along its back stood on end. Lobo growled back, and barred his fangs. The dog whimpered and backed down. Lobo crossed into their land.

Lobo heard the rhythms and sounds of music. He could smell spices and meats. He could smell sweat, fear, love, and misery. The number of competing odors was nearly overwhelming. There were dark canyons with sounds and smells coming from openings. Caves? The dens of men were strange to Lobo. He walked down one canyon and came out into a large open area. It was lit with fires on the ends of sticks. There was a higher area near one end of the open area. Several humans were on the higher area making the rhythmic sounds. There were brightly colored banners, and several places with cloths stretched over poles. Meat scents and other smells of what Lobo supposed was food odors wafted from several of these.

More people were entering. There was a lot of laughter and talking. Lobo walked around the perimeter. No one seemed to notice; to them he looked like one of the many dogs that he had encountered.

How to find the king? Who was the king? Lobo sniffed the air. There was another scent, a clean scent. A man in purple with something on his head was on the raised section. Everyone was bowing. Ah! The Alpha Male. That was who the king was!

Suddenly Lobo smelt Brown Tuff. He was walking towards the king, and he had his steal fang in his hand. Lobo growled and ran forward. Brown Tuff was pulling his paw back, raising the fang. Lobo was at a full run now and with his powerful hind legs launched himself. With a growl and snarl Lobo bit down on Brown Tuff’s exposed neck.

Sweet blood filled his mouth. Flesh gave way and Lobo tore out Brown Tuff’s throat. A woman screamed and people fell back. Brown Tuff fell dying to the ground. Lobo rode the body down. When they landed the steal fang fell from the assassins’ lifeless paw.

The Alpha Male’s eyes were wide eyebrows raised. His mouth was agape.

Lobo looked up at him and said, “You should listen to your friends when they warn you someone wants you dead, instead of banishing them from your kingdom.” Then Lobo turned and began his journey back to his pack.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Today's guest is Mindy aka Big Black Cat 97 or BBC to her friends over at AQC. She is one of the moderators over there, she blogs over at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire. She also contributes to the blog, From the Write Angle.

I'm grateful that she agreed to do a guest post here. She has an agent and is actively seeking a publisher for her book. I'll let her tell her own story. So here is BBC.


I’m slightly OCD. It’s one of the qualifications for librarianship.

OK, not really, but I find that the hyper-responsibility side effects are valuable in all three venues of my life – home, work, and writing career.

I could spend every hour of each day on one of these aspects, but that would mean the other two falter and die. The first type of death means that no one in my household eats or has clean clothes. The second would translate into a pile of books on the bookcart and hundreds of cranky, panicked teenagers. The third means no forward motion towards my goal of publication. None. No new blog posts, no networking tweets, no AQC downtime, and definitely no additional word count on the WIP.

None of these things are acceptable.

So I give a little to all three each day, and the only way to keep myself straight on what needs to be done is by taking a very simple, yet highly effective time-management step. I make lists.

I use a Stickies program on my laptop to manage my three-ring circus. The yellow sticky lists my household duties for the day, which I try to manage one thing at a time. Monday is vacuuming, Tuesday dusting, dishes are done every other day and laundry waits for the weekend. The pink sticky directs my attention to the most pressing needs in the workplace, listed by priority. The wall above my desk serves as a big-picture amalgamation of stickies telling me what needs to be accomplished long term.

Interesting genetic factoid: my sister (also a co-worker) pointed out that the wall above our Dad’s desk at the homestead looks exactly the same.

And lastly, my green sticky tells me what I need to be doing in writing-career land. And it doesn’t say – HEY YOU! WRITE A BOOK! There are many ways to keep the literary brain cranking, and I need quiet and uninterrupted stretches of time to nail down that WIP.

So what does the green sticky say?

It has links to various web pages that are helping me out with my research, so that I can easily hit up information during short downtimes. There are reminders about critiques that I need to get back to betas, ideas for blog posts, names of people I want to contact for interviews, and titles of books that I want to read and review.

Sounds like a lot, but all of those little steps are furthering me down the path of my writing career, and they can be addressed during the brief moments during the day that chance sometimes allots to me. I guess in the end that’s the secret to my time-management; knowing to address the little goals during little moments, and constantly reminding myself that the big goal for the evening is to crack out another 1k.

The other secret isn’t such a secret – don’t be lazy.

Sure, I’d rather watch Firefly reruns sometimes, but I’m reminded of a sports t-shirt I had in high school that read – “Whenever you are not practicing, somewhere, your opponent is, and when you meet, s/he will win.”

I might not actually wear a t-shirt that says, “Somewhere another writer wants to watch Firefly too, but they’re writing instead. And they’re published.”

But you get the idea.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Becoming Your Own Champion

What makes a champion a champion? We’ve all seen the sports world with the winning person/team. The winning Olympic Champion(s) stand on the podium and receive their medal and see their nation’s flag and hear their national anthem. Race drivers drink milk. Football teams hold up a trophy. Baseball teams run out on the mound and pound each other on the back.

Olympic Medal Stand
Michael Steele/Allsport/Getty Images

That one moment in many instances takes a life time to achieve. It is no accident they are standing on that podium. Pick your favorite winner. What did they do to get their? There is a common thread through all of these champions.

Dedication and hard work. And the main ingredient? A vision, a goal.
Goals are the tools of champions. I’ve also heard it said that champions are willing to do those things others are not willing to do.

So there are big goals and smaller goals. Long range goals need short term goals. Goals are the tools you need to master your life.

Alan Lakein put it this way, “Time = Life. Therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.”

I’ll state the obvious: writers want to publish a book. A runner wants to win a marathon. A business owner wants to grow during an economic downturn. How is it done?

By looking at where you want to be and taking stock of where you are. You can’t publish a book, if it isn’t written. You can’t in a marathon if you sit on the sofa eating potato chips while watching TV. The business does not run itself; the owner has to have a vision and a good work ethic.

So goals look like this.

I have a published book (October 2013) – The goal.

I have an agent (October 2012) – Mid range goal.

I have a winning query letter (June 2012)

I have a fantastic synopsis (June 2012)

I have a final draft (May 2012)

I will write x of words today – daily goal.

I have a fantastic outline, or a great idea, I know my characters. Etc.
It is a long process, but one many writers have taken, and have agreed was well worth pursuing.

Writing is a slow process. A solo process. A lonely process. Once the book is out there and is selling you’ve won. However, unlike the sports folks, you won’t stand on a podium and receive a medal amongst all the fanfare. But the feeling will be the same.

So manage your time. Set goals and work towards them. When that happens this formula will work for you: Time = Life. Therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life. Become the champion you wish to become.

What goals do you need to set? Where are you in your publishing journey? What are you doing daily to reach your goal?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chapter One: Silverflame

I've thought about this for some time. I've decided that I will post my first chapter. The book is in the midst of another rewrite, but I want to share.

So here is chapter one. The current title is Seven Silver Swords: Heirs to the Throne. That may change as I work through all of this, but for now that is what I am using.

So here is my first chapter. Comments welcome.




Sparks flew as the hammer struck the glowing metal. The hammer rang again. Torches flickered on the cavern wall casting dancing shadows in the dim light. The forge’s fire crackled and roared. Steel glowed red.

The hammer sang. The smith’s strong arm raised the hammer yet again, perspiration dripped from his bulging muscles. His bald head glistened with sweat. His bare chest and back gleamed in the red light of the forging fires and the heat they generated. He swung mightily and again the metal clanked as it was wrought in the smoke filled cavern.

Kroft stood against a wall watching the Mastersmith work. The figure leaned on his staff, his interest riveted on the workings of the sword. The fate of the kingdom rested this sword. He was waiting for the moment in the reforging when his talents would be melded with those of the Mastersmith. But there was to be a third member here, someone who also had a part in this. The question that was on the cloaked figure’s mind was – where is Prince Edwind?

# # #

Edwind rode to where Kroft had instructed him to come and dismounted. He could hear the sounds of hammer strokes from the cave. What was being forged in the middle of the night? He wondered why Kroft wanted him at the Mastersmith’s cavern at such an unusual hour.

The cave opening was not overly large, but he didn’t need to stoop to enter. His slight frame allowed for that. The aroma of the pines was replaced with the odor of wood smoke and hot metal. The slight breeze as it whispered in the pines was drowned out with the sounds of the crackling forger’s fire and the pounding of the hammer. The fire’s glow illuminated the Mastersmith as he raised his hammer. Edwind watched as the hammer came down and struck the glowing metal. The dull clank of the blow filled the chamber. It was hot. Edwind almost turned around and went back outside where the night air was cooler. Already beads of perspiration were forming on his forehead, and he could feel sweat begin to trickle down the small of his back. Edwind saw Kroft standing by the torches. How could the wizard tolerate the hot cavern? Shaking his head in disbelief, Edwind crossed the dirt floor stirring up soot as he went. Kroft nodded a silent greeting and returned his gaze to the Mastersmith. Edwind turned to regard what the smith was doing. A silver blade shone in the lights from the torches and forging fire.

Edwind turned to wizard Kroft and asked, “Isn’t that Silverflame?”

Kroft nodded as he leaned heavily on his staff. He looked tired to Edwind. Kroft watched the smith intently. Edwind returned his attention to the Mastersmith and watched as the craftsman poured his very being into the weapon. Clad only in loincloth, he was sweating from both the heat of the fire and his own exertions. The Mastersmith stopped swinging the hammer, picked up the sword, and inspected his work. The dim torch light reflected off the silver blade.

“Why is he doing that?” Edwind whispered to the wizard.

“I’m adding a spell to the blade,” Kroft replied. “I need the double full moons for that.”

Kroft was the master of magic, and if he needed the blade reforged on a night of double full moons then Edwind couldn’t question that either. What he did want to question was why.

“Doesn’t Silverflame already have spells?” he ventured.

Together they watched as the smith placed the sword on his anvil again and took up his hammer to work the edge of the blade.

“Silverflame already has a powerful arsenal of spells woven into it, such as a spell to strengthen the wielder’s arms and thus deliver a more powerful sword thrust or blow.

“There is also a spell to help the wielder be aware of the location of danger, a sixth sense if you will. You hear a sound and know from which direction the sound comes. Silverflame works the same way. In a sense the sword ‘hears danger’ and warns its wielder.”

“What other magic does the sword need then? It sounds as if Silverflame already enhances the talents of the wielder,” Edwind wondered aloud.

The Mastersmith stopped pounding on the metal. The red glow was gone, and he made no move to return the weapon to the forging fires. He was closely inspecting his craftsmanship. Satisfied with the result of his night’s labor, he motioned for Kroft to inspect the sword.

“Excuse me a moment.”

Before Edwind could reply, Kroft began to walk away. His footfalls were muffled by the slag and soot on the blackened dirt floor. Small dust clouds puffed as he stepped towards the Mastersmith. Now that the hammer strokes had ceased, Edwind could hear the gurgle and babble of a brook as it flowed over pebbles as it followed its bed across the cavern before joining with the stream outside.

Kroft didn’t reach for the proffered sword. Instead, he motioned for the Smith and Edwind to follow him outside. Together they walked towards the cave opening. The burly smith had to duck as he exited the cave. Edwind eagerly stepped to the opening, anxious to be out of the suffocating, sulfurous heat of the cave and out in the cool night air.

Once outside, Kroft lead them towards the pine trees. The layers of pine needles on the ground muffled their footsteps. The murmur of the brook faded as they walked deeper into the trees. Edwind glanced up and saw Bidol directly overhead and Neada, the smaller of the two moons, lining up to be directly under the larger moon. Kroft strode into a stone ringed clearing and stopped in the center of the moonlit area. The smith handed the mighty sword to the wizard hilt first. Kroft grasped the jeweled hilt of the great two-handed broadsword with both hands, raised the sword over his head, and pointed the tip at the moons.

Edwind tried to recall if double full moons were supposed to increase magical properties. He watched as Kroft tilted his face towards the moons his dark hair a contrast to the pale light of the moons. Edwind strained to hear the words, but all he could hear was the rhythm of Kroft’s chant. Kroft begin to weave the words of his spell like a tapestry on a loom. The pines whispered in the breeze adding a counterpoint to the rhythm of the wizard’s words. The wizard’s spell rose to a crescendo as he intoned, “Silverflame, sword of the Just King!”

It was finished.

The clearing was silent. No sounds of scurrying small rodents in the underbrush. The sentinel pines stood silently watching the trio. A cloud skirted across the face of Neada. Edwind felt a chill run up his spine.

Kroft turned and handed the sword back to the Mastersmith. As the sword passed from the wizard back to the muscled smith a blue arc jumped from both pairs of hands to the hilt of the sword. The larger callused hands grasped the hilt of the sword below the smooth hands of the wizard. Before Kroft relinquished the sword back to the smith, a fire swept down the sword's blade – a silver fire that lit the entire night sky with its intensity.

Just as suddenly as the fire appeared, it flashed out. Edwind blinked and waited for his eyes to readjust to the darkness. As the afterimage faded, he noticed a silver tint on the blade which did not dim in its intensity nor leave the fine edges. Kroft’s spell must have added the edge to the new blade since the smith couldn’t have honed the blade just yet.

Silverflame was ready to do its task – to root out an evil that was growing all too strong in the land. The spell was now a part of the mighty blade.

Kroft and the Mastersmith both turned to face Edwind. Wordlessly the smith presented the blade to Edwind. Reverently, Edwind grasped the hilt and lifted the sword from the gnarled hands of the powerful smith. Looking at the smith, then at the wizard Edwind asked, “What is going on? Why have you done this to Silverflame?”

“The Pretender has had a spell woven around him to protect him from all weapons. Silverflame has just been imbued to nullify that spell,” Kroft explained. “All spells can be countered. Silverflame has a counter spell to allow Peregrine to kill Taun, the Pretender, when they fight.”

“When will they fight?” Edwind asked.

“Just as soon as you take the sword to him. Peregrine is waiting for you near Whisper Lake. He will then challenge the Pretender to a duel.”

“Will the Pretender fight Peregrine?” Edwind questioned.

“Pride is a strange thing,” Kroft explained, “The thought that the King’s champion is willing to fight him combined with his arrogant assumption that the spell woven around him will protect him should cause him to fall. The Pretender is also massing his troops near Whisper Lake. Now is the time to end this.”

Edwind pondered that for a moment and smiled at the idea of riding with Silverflame strapped to his back. He nodded in anticipation and placed the great sword in the sheath designed to keep the edge on the blade. He strapped the large sword to his back, fighting with it for a moment to ride comfortably, and turned to go.

“Go directly to Whisper Lake. Don’t go anywhere else. Peregrine is waiting for you there. Taun wants this sword; he is afraid of it. You ride in secret, no one knows what you have and what you are doing. You are the prince, no one here will notice you riding out, you ride a lot, so this won’t draw any attention.”

“So Peregrine is expecting me?” The prince asked.

Kroft nodded, “Take care, and may the wind be with you on all your journeys.”
“It is time to put an end to the Pretender’s bid for the throne of Rea. I’ll deliver the sword to Peregrine at Whisper Lake.” With Silverflame on his back, he felt as if nothing could stop him. He walked carefully through the trees as footing was treacherous. Double full moons casting double shadows made it hard to tell where low spots were in the ground.

Edwind mounted his horse and nodded to Kroft and the smith and turned his horse and rode away. He rode over the rise and saw Rachel sitting astride her horse. Edwind rode up and stopped a few paces from her.

“What are you doing here?” He questioned.

“Your excuse for not being in the castle was lame, you don’t lie very convincingly.”
“That still doesn’t answer my question,” Edwind persisted.

“We’ve done a lot together, so sneaking off in the middle of the night made me curious, so I followed you. What is going on?” She countered.

“I’m to take Silverflame to Peregrine.”

“We are leaving tonight?” She asked.

“I’m leaving tonight. I’m riding in secret.”

“No, you are not. I noticed, others will too.”

“I ride often,” Edwind pointed out.

“We ride often; with us both gone suspicions of your departure will be lessened.”

Edwind knew she had a valid point. He also knew he would enjoy her company. He always enjoyed her company so he capitulated the point saying, “Your father won’t approve.”

“That hasn’t stopped us before.”

“Yes, but,” Edwind began.

“But what?”

“But we’ve never gone anywhere dangerous. We will be riding to Whisper Lake, the part of the kingdom that the Pretender claims to be his kingdom. If we are caught –”

“We won’t be caught,” she interrupted. “Besides, riding the horses together will be fun. I want to help, and I can take care of myself, Your Highness,” Rachel argued back.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to go anywhere without you anyway,” he said. “Shall we ride?”

“I thought this you’d never ask.”

“This trip will be dangerous, but danger is best met with a friend at your side.”
Rachel thought about that for a moment and nodded. “Life is best met with a friend
at your side. Let’s ride!