Time to Harp on…

It’s day four of the Great Tower and The Eye re-release by Blue Hour Publishing!

Harp 300x200

If you’ve been reading along with the releases – remember, we had book 1 on monday, book 2 on tuesday, book 3 on wednesday – then you’ll have an inkling of who the heroine in this book is.

Another border skirmish with the Franierens forces the Elves to send Lady Julissa Alethdan to hunt for the Harp of Aleth; a magical harp capable of healing the most tormented of souls and calming the fury of battle into peace.

This should be an easy task, after all, the dungeon she is entering was cleansed over a hundred years ago…

This particular book is where the overarching story (the one that connects all the books) begins to make sense. Tying the stories together here helped me to see the shape of the final book.

It’s also not as battle orientated as the previous books. I had a party full of academics to play with, and as I’d had a few comments about my blood thirsty-ness in the previous books, I wanted to see if I could get them in and out without killing anyone… well, except enemies!

So here’s the excerpt:

Before they shut the door, Joran fed the Blood Bat again and sent it out to keep an eye on the situation. He chose one of the chairs, sat down and closed his eyes. After a moment, he started recounting what was happening.

“It’s Tavia. She’s wearing some kind of strange armour and is fighting the creatures as they come into the guard post.”

“Is she getting hurt?” Virrinel asked, his whiskers still twitching.

“No. There appears to be a shield spell embedded in the armour. Good thing too, I don’t think armour like that would protect much of her body.” Joran chuckled. “Oh she just took out a pair of Dark Mistresses with one slice. That’s some sword she has there.”

Silence fell, punctuated by chuckles and gasps from Joran. Julissa’s face dropped further with every noise and Virrinel subtly put himself between his blood brother and his mistress. I wouldn’t want Joran to get hurt before we get out of this place.

Finally, Julissa’s patience snapped.

“Ser Joran. If Tavia is keeping the creatures occupied, we should have a clear run down to the Treasury.”

Joran opened his eyes momentarily.

“That is true. I’ll send my little friend into the Training room as I believe that was the next port of call, and see if there’s anyone in there.”

“Good. Virrinel, move back out to the crossroads and keep watch. You know how to contact me if you see anything.” The Autochthon nodded grudgingly and left the room.

Qin-Dar sniffed the air as Joran shut his eyes again.

“I smell something wrong.”

“This whole place is wrong.” Julissa’s temper was not improving. “There weren’t supposed to be any creatures here. Tavia…” she trailed off and frowned. “How did Tavia get to the guard post and into that fight without us seeing her come past?”

“That’s what I smell. There is more than one dark force at work in this disgusting place.” Qin-Dar shook herself. “Let us get the harp and retreat to safety as fast as possible.”

Joran’s eyes snapped open.

“Excellent idea, Lady Qin-Dar. The way is clear to the training room and it is empty; even the guard post outside its south-eastern entrance is vacant.” He stood up and moved to the door. As he opened it, the blood bat fluttered in and landed on his shoulder, its mouth opening and closing in the same way as a dog would pant.

Qin-Dar looked at the bat.

“Ser Joran. I suggest that you leave your friend in here. He is too exhausted to do any more and needs to sleep.”

Joran nodded and tenderly picked the bat from his shoulder, setting the tiny creature on the topmost shelf of a nearby bookcase.

Julissa’s heart softened as she watched him feed the bat one last time.

“You can pick him up on the way out; this is probably the safest route back.”

The tiny bat flipped upside down to hang from the beam above the bookcase and wrapped its wings around itself.

Joran smiled at Julissa.

“Shall we continue in your quest, m’lady?”

*****

There are two places that you can read more of this story and find out how the rest of the book turned out. The first is in the ebook:

Buy Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Harp-Aleth-Tower-Eye-Book-ebook/dp/B01H3Z2IZO

The second is in the Omnibus Book which is available in both print and electronic forms:

Buy Link https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tower-Eye-Kira-Morgana/dp/1326421301

There’s a Party Going On…

… in Castle Grof! Except it’s not exactly the sort of party most people would want to go to…

Grof 300 x 200

Okay, let’s back up a little and give you some background on this story.

This installment of the story started out as an attempt at online tabletop roleplaying in a thread on the (now defunct) Authonomy site. I was GM, creating the initial story line and the maps,  and there were three players. We got as far as the fight in the Tavern (which is one of my favourite scenes)  when we realised it wasn’t going to work.

By this time, however, I had my muse Puff sitting on my head (he likes to do that) and whispering than this could be another story to fit with “The Tower and The Eye: A Beginning“. So I asked the other players if they were happy to  let me run with their characters. They were, so off I went…

… and Party at Castle Grof was born.

The book has been re-released today as an e-book on Amazon. It’s about a pair of adventurers being inveigled into cleansing the Dungeon near the city of Valdez in the kingdom of Valdier:

Castle Grof has claimed the lives of many already, but Lord Harnaz of Valdez is determined to clear the menace of the dungeon underneath the ruins completely.

Drawn into the quest with a barbarian warrior, a monk of Tyr and an old friend, Aranok and his half sister, Ariana, begin to wonder if they will actually return to their home in the elven realm of Alethdariel alive…

“Which one is your friend?” the half-elf asked, looking over at the fight.
“Grald the Barbarian.” Shilir started to panic and grabbed the half-elf’s arm.
“The big guy? You’re worried about the dwarf beating him up. He looks like he can handle himself,” the half-elf laughed.
“You don’t understand. He’s been drinking Wizard Wingdangs Original Ale… it weakens him to the point where a kitten could maim him with one swat of its tail; even a feather could knock him over. Please help him.”
“Why should we help your friend? I don’t even know why the fight started.” A feminine voice floated over his shoulder. Shilir turned to see the white robed mage he had bumped into.
“You took your time, Ariana,” the half-elf said, without turning round.
“The Guild wanted to hear my report. It took a little while,” Ariana replied, irritation etching her elegant face.
“If it had taken any longer, you’d have been peeling me up off the floor.”
“Well, if you didn’t drink human ale, Aranok, you wouldn’t need my hangover potion.” The mage looked over at the fight in the corner. “The barbarian does seem to be coming off worse in his fight with the dwarf.”
Shilir looked at Ariana hopefully. “Can you help?”
“I used most of my mana up on illusions during my report. Sorry, big brother.” She shook her head. “I haven’t replenished my mana potions yet.” Ariana tilted her head to one side and smiled at Shilir. “Unless you have a spare one?”
Shilir groaned. “I haven’t restocked yet either. Grald and I only arrived this morning.”
Grald was starting to wonder if responding to the dwarf had been a bad idea. An insistent trickle of blood from a cut on his forehead interfered with his vision, dripping through his thick eyebrows.
“How about we talk about this?” he asked, wiping his eyes again.
The dwarf growled and slammed a fist into Grald’s chest. Grald gasped and staggered back.
“Maybe not then,” he wheezed, grabbing the dwarf by his chest plate and attempting to drop kick him through the window. Unfortunately his befuddled body barely allowed him to lift the dwarf off the ground.
The dwarf leaned back in his grip, planted a foot into Grald’s stomach and used the other one to kick at his nose. Grald lurched backward, sat down hard on a bench and dropped the dwarf at the same time.
The dwarf landed on his chest and took the opportunity to punch Grald in the mouth. The bench tipped from the movement, sending the labourer sitting on it flying through the air into the window and spilling both Grald and the dwarf onto the straw strewn cobbles.
The window smashed as the labourer flew through it and landed on a table. The occupants of the table, a group of bakers having their lunchtime game of cards, swore as the cards and coins scattered under the man’s landing.
The table broke, all the tankards on it tipped over and the bakers left trying to gather up their coppers and piled onto the unfortunate labourer.
“I’ll be adding that window to your friend’s bill.” The Tavern Keeper carried on polishing his tankards calmly.
Shilir groaned.
Sighing, Aranok pulled a field tip arrow out of his quiver and twisted on his stool to face the fight. The crowd around the bar drew back as he sighted along it and threw it like a dart.
Grald stood up and stared in shock at the result of his near miss with a dwarven boot.
“Did I do that?” he murmured, swaying a little as the dwarf tried to trip him up.
Something brushed past his ear, so he turned to see what it was. Tripping over his own feet, Grald fell over and landed on the next table. The boards splintered under his weight and as Grald hit the floor, he knocked himself senseless on his own mace.
“Hah! That’s what ye get for spilling ale on Avinger McCraken!” The dwarf laughed and kicked Grald in the balls. Then he stomped away, shouting, “I ain’t standing for that kind o’treatment. I’m gonna get the Watch!”

*****

There are two places that you can read the full story and find out how the rest of the book turned out.  The first is in the ebook:

Buy Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Party-Castle-Grof-Tower-Book-ebook/dp/B01H3XVBXG

The second is in the Omnibus Book which is available in both print and electronic forms:

Buy Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tower-Eye-Kira-Morgana/dp/1326421301

The Muse – Illusive but friendly…

Every Writer has one of these Creatures sat on your shoulder. As do Artists, Musicians, Dancers, Crafters, Cooks… any creative pursuit attracts the Muse. So what on earth are they?

Muse Species

There are the species that I (personally) have encountered:

The Pen Muse
This is the muse that is attracted to Writers. It can look like anything; it’s a sneaky Bugger at the best of times, always changing form and hiding when you least expect it.
It delights in whispering in your ear just as you drop off to sleep or inspiring the weirdest of dreams… and when you try to write them down somehow, it runs off again, leaving a trail of gibberish behind it that is a pain in the arse to decipher the next morning…

The Paintbrush Muse
This one loves to sit in warm sunny places and will often curl up on whatever it is that you’re drawing or trying to work on. Yes, it often takes the form of a cat or dog – mostly because it adores getting in on the action and leaving hairs in the paint (clay, plaster, glue etc).
It’s also the best Muse for Dreamtime because they love to sleep.

The Tool Muse
This one usually takes the form of a Magazine, brand new tool, pattern or material. It is primarily a Crafting Muse , but I have seen it appear in the kitchen as well, usually after a visit to IKEA  or receiving the Lakeland catalogue through the door. It usually inspires a new crafting pursuit, but will jump ship to the next new tool / crafting idea after you’ve used it a few times, thus forcing you to collect tools and materials!

Care of Your Muse

Feeding
This is completely different from person to person. The Muse tends to enjoy your own favourite foods and beverages, so make sure that you imbibe and eat those things that it likes on a regular basis or you risk losing it to a Creative that will feed it in the way it likes.

Bathing
Muses like to bathe regularly, they can get strangely obstinate when they feel they are dirty. Again, the method of bathing is different from Muse to Muse. Some like to soak in a bubble bath, others enjoy the bracing experience of a shower.  I’ve come across some species that like to swim in pools and still others that appear to prefer salt water.

Rest
Muses appear to have different sleeping schedules to Humans. They can be awake and bouncy, ready to play, at the oddest of hours or sleeping soundly for hours. However, (in my experience) they seem to function best when you’re warm and snuggled into something soft.

Personally, I’ve found that the Pen Muse is the worst for inappropriate sleep – when I’m sitting at the desk ready to write; he’s curled up somewhere warm asleep and when I’m just about dropping off to sleep on my keyboard, he’s awake and inspired, poking me with his inky paws and telling me what to write next.

Sickness
You will find that when your Muse is ill, you will find it VERY difficult to concentrate on any creative endeavour. There is no real cure to this other than time and proper care.

Sorry if you were looking for a quick fix…

Play / Exercise
All Muses like to play.  What they play with varies. Some Muses like to exert physical effort and enjoy Team Sports, Running, Swimming, Walking… the list is a long one! Others will be drawn to Music and you can take them out Dancing or to Zumba.
There are more sedentary Muses as well; these tend to like watching TV, going to the Movies or playing Console / Computer Games.
The third type is in the middle of these two. These Muses that will work best with a varied play routine.

Playtime is usually when you can get the very best ideas out of them, but be warned; not every idea will be a viable one or will be what you are looking for for the piece you are currently working on.  Just make a note of them (mentally or otherwise) and keep playing until the Muse indicates that it needs to rest.

Training Your Muse

It is possible to train your Muse to produce ideas on command. They are fickle creatures though and you will find that if you try too hard to train your muse it could get upset with you and disappear on you.
Sadly I cannot advise you on what the best training is – it’s entirely personal to the Muse in question and often takes considerable trial-and-error over many years to perfect.

I have not yet found the perfect training regime.
I know there are writers out there that have trained their Pen Muses; they seem able to produce books / stories / articles  time and again without seeming to break a sweat (Yes, I know that’s not exactly true – I’m having fun here, leave me alone) and they have different routines that don’t work for me.
This is fine – part of the work of becoming a good writer is discovering your Muse’s training regime.

Meet My Muses

I currently have two Muses, this is what they look like in Resting Form:

This is Puff, the Faerie Dragon and Pen Muse.

Puff

 His favourite foods are Chips, Chocolate and Starbursts. He enjoys drinking Dr Pepper and Gin & Tonic, but will function (with many complaints) on Coffee and Tea. Puff is a Sedentary Muse, so prefers to watch TV / Movies,  play Tetris / Candy Crush etc and go Walking or Swimming.

This is Stardust, the Faerie Unicorn and a  Paintbrush / Tool Muse hybrid

Stardust

Her favourite Foods are Tortilla Chips-and-cheese dip, Ice Cream and Cake. She likes to drink Tea (mostly Chai and Earl Grey) and Wine. Stardust likes to go Swimming, Cycling and Walking. She also likes reading and browsing the internet.

Over to you

I know that there are other species of Muse and I should imagine there are as many forms to each species as there are ways of being creative.  I also apologise for the lack of pictures,in the Species section of this post; Stardust (my Paintbrush/Tool Muse Hybrid) has gone on holiday and I can’t for the life of me get the images in my words onto paper in visual form.

Feel free to add to my list of species, tell me what your personal muse is like or contribute images of what you think that the different species look like in the comments below – let’s have some fun!