Flood

Occasionally I write short pieces, almost flash fiction in size. Not often though as ideas tend to flow and the story continues to grow. Here’s one of those smaller pieces, a small snapshot in time of a character with more than his fair share of responsibilities.

Dale hurried down the ladder from the loft he shared with his younger brother, drawn by the scent of freshly baked bread. The sound of rain was quieter in the kitchen as he helped himself to a slice of bread.

“You be careful out there.” His mother handed him a thick coat.

Dale shrugged into it, knowing it’d soon be soaked through. “I’ll bring the plough horse up to the house. We should have moved him yesterday, but I thought the rain was over.”

“We all did.”

Finishing the last of his food, Dale buttoned his coat before braving the pouring rain. Visibility was low and it was only that he’d been born and raised on this farm that he could find his way to the back paddock, head low as his eyes squinted through the rain. Stepping through the gate of the wooden fence he whistled, but the wind blew the sound back in his face along with the rain. When he called for the horse his words were also thrown back at him.

Walking forward, his boots sinking into mud, he scanned the paddock for the plough horse. He had to find him. Without him, they couldn’t plant their farm and have crops to sell at the market. Ever since his father had died he’d become the head of the house, trying to support the three of them. He had no idea what to do if he couldn’t find the horse.

A sound drew him onwards. He hurried towards the stream, each step a struggle. He heard it again, the frantic scream of a horse. Then he could see him, tangled in the branches of a tree caught in the swollen stream, which was now wide enough to be a river. The tree dragged at the horse and blood flowed from several gashes on the animal.

Dale plunged into the water. They needed the horse. Without him, they couldn’t survive. He tried to untangle the terrified creature. A log crashed into them, pushing them further into the stream. Dale grabbed at the mane, pulling the horse towards the bank, each step an effort.

Another log swept past, barely missing them and Dale stared at a man clinging to the log that turned and rolled in the churning water. The horse screamed and the man on the log went under.

Time seemed to stretch out, but it was only a few seconds. Dale’s cold fingers let go of the mane and he threw himself forward into the middle of the stream, swimming towards the man as he surfaced for a moment.

Dale reached the log, searching for the man, his fingers tangling in hair. He momentarily thought of the horse’s mane before he focused on rescuing the man. It seemed to take forever, but eventually they were stretched gasping on the bank, the rain still pouring.

“Thank you, how can I ever repay you?” The man held out his hand.

Dale took the offered hand. “Anyone would have done the same.” He paused to catch his breath. “Come back to the farmhouse. We’ll get warm and my mum can make us something hot to eat.”

They struggled to their feet and as they passed the part of the stream where the horse had once struggled, Dale felt his heart sink.

His heart was still sinking a month later as he hoed rows by hand, his brother following him with a basket of seeds. He stopped to run his arm across his forehead as his gaze travelled over the land still untouched. They’d be lucky to get a quarter of the paddock planted, and there’d be none for the market. Replacing the plough horse would be impossible.

Dale turned his head at his name being called. His mother frantically waved him over to the farmhouse. Beside her stood a stranger, a grey-haired man. Dale shared a look and a shrug with his brother before the two of them trudged to the farmhouse.

The man stepped forward, throwing his arms around Dale who froze, sending a questioning look to his beaming mother. “Ahh, sir?” He pulled away.

“Thank you. Thank you.” The man clapped him on the shoulder as his other hand drew out a bulging money pouch. “There’s no price I could put on my son’s life, but let me offer you a small token all the same.”

Dale took the pouch, the weight of it in his hand lightening the weight of his worries. He met the man’s gaze. “Thank you.”

Compulsive Directive

Once I’d written the start of Compulsive Directive, I had to set it aside for a bit to go on with other projects. When I returned to the story, eager to continue writing it, the words flowed and the bulk of it was written over two days. That first draft might have been quickly written, but coming up with a name was another problem altogether.

Sometime the name for a story comes with the idea. At other times, the name comes before the idea and I’m left wondering what kind of story would go with the title that came to mind. Other times I discover the title as I’m writing and on a few occasions, titles are suggested to me by early readers such as my editors. But this story was an effort to name. None of the titles I came up with seemed to fit. I was about to go with a name I wasn’t completely happy with, since the story had gone so long unnamed, when I finally figured out what to call it. It involved rewording a character’s comment, which still kept the same basic information after the edits, but I finally had a name for the story.

Compulsive Directive, a post apocalyptic sci-fi short story, is now available on Amazon and will soon be available at other retailers.

Father’s Day 2019

Here in Australia, it is Father’s Day tomorrow. For some of us, who have lost their father, it can be very easy to let it become a day of sadness. There are so many times throughout the year that something reminds me of my dad or something happens that I would have loved to share with him. But that is no longer possible and hasn’t been for years. All I have is my memories and I’m grateful there are so very many of them. Ones that make me smile and even cause me to laugh.

Quite a lot of years ago, I was visiting my dad, staying with him for a few weeks where he lived at one of the beaches north of Townsville, Queensland. I told him I was going into town, asking him if he needed anything.

“What are you going in for?” Dad asked.

“Fabric.”

There was a moment of stunned silence before dad demanded, “Who are you calling fat prick?”

I burst out laughing, trying to say the word ‘material’, tears streaming down my cheeks before I finally managed to get it out. My partner, who was also there, laughed just as hard as me.

Dad laughed when he realised what I’d said and over the years we regularly called him ‘fabric’, resulting in more chuckles as we remembered the moment. It still brings a smile, even though my dad passed away years ago, and is a memory that reminds us of the many wonderful moments we had with him.

To all those celebrating Father’s Day, happy Father’s Day. And to those who are missing their father, I hope that this Father’s Day you can focus on the good times. The ones that bring a smile to your lips and a warmth to your heart.

Writing Process

I’ve had quite a few emails over the years requesting more details about my writing process, writing tips and other writing related information. So whether you’re an author wanting to learn more about the craft, or a reader intrigued by the process, I’ll make regular posts to a section I’ve created ‘For Authors‘ on those topics. That doesn’t mean it’s only for authors, and those who wish to write, just that they’re the ones most likely to find the information interesting.

If you have any writing related topics you’d love to learn more about, don’t hesitate to email me and let me know. I enjoy sharing information about writing whether it is in the written form or in person at events and workshops. It might just be a topic I haven’t considered covering and you might not be the only person to find the information beneficial.

Chocolate And Coffee

There is a myth that authors live on coffee and can’t resist chocolate. Well, I don’t drink coffee, or even tea for that matter, but I can’t resist chocolate. So for those of you who love both, here’s a great way to combine them.

You will need:

A block of chocolate (I’ve used white to make it easier to see)

A handful of coffee beans (depends on how much coffee you want to add)

A tray/mould (I’ve used a water bottle ice tray)

Method:

Melt the chocolate either over low heat or put boiling water in a large bowl and place chocolate in a smaller bowl that you sit in the large bowl.

Scatter coffee beans across the bottom of a tray.

When chocolate is melted pour it over coffee beans.

If you want the beans more covered, use something such as a cocktail fork to mix the chocolate around them thoroughly. For less covered beans, just pour in the chocolate.

Put in the fridge and when set turn out of the tray or mould.

Enjoy!

Dragon Mage

It can be a lot of fun returning to a series after not having written in it for some time. This year I started a series that will pick up where Dragon Blood left off with new adventures for Amber. Before beginning Dragon Mage 1: Promise, I read over the Dragon Blood series to reacquaint myself with the characters and events of the books. Before writing this series, which I’ve wanted to write for some time, I needed to write Dragon Blood Chronicles 2: Betrayed since the events in that book have an impact on the events in Dragon Mage. I wanted to make sure there’d be no contradictions by writing the stories around the other way since the events of Betrayed happen well before the events of Promise. Maybe there wouldn’t have been any problems writing Betrayed afterwards, but I didn’t want to take the chance.

As yet I have no set date for when Promise will be released, but I have made a great deal of progress on the series and hope to release the first book this year. Amber, Kade and Ronan will be back soon with new enemies to face, old ones to hunt down and new places to explore. I can’t wait to share the stories with you, especially with those of you who said you’d love to read more books about Amber.

Bluey

Growing up, my family had a variety of pets, mostly only one or two at a time. When I was in primary school, my dad had a blue cattle dog that he gave the highly original name of Bluey. My brother and I spent so much time playing with Bluey who had a special bark when he heard Dad’s vehicle in the distance. Which always gave us at least a good five minutes warning that Dad was nearly home. Dad was his favourite and he was always excited to see him.

On warm summer evenings, the year I was ten, my brother and I would play hide and seek outside. To make things a little more interesting, Bluey would help the one searching. He was good at hide and seek. You would tell him who to find and he would sniff around until he’d located them. So I not only had to outsmart my brother when choosing a hiding location, I had to outsmart Bluey too.

We lived in a high set house, a tall timber cupboard under the stairs where Dad kept his tools. There was a small gap between the landing of the stairs and the cupboard. Just enough of a gap for me to hide in. I would clamber up the side of the solid timber cupboard and squeeze into the small gap and stay perfectly still. Bluey would lead my brother straight to the location, pacing back and forth in front of the cupboard. Sometimes he’d go up the stairs and sit on the landing, waiting for me to come out of hiding. But until my brother found me, I wasn’t moving.

It was the best hiding spot. Each time my brother gave up, I’d wait until he’d left the area before I came out of hiding. There was no way I was going to give up the location. It helped that I was extremely skinny or I wouldn’t have fit in the space.

Some of my favourite childhood memories involved our pets. The four-legged and feathered members of our family. My childhood wouldn’t have been anywhere near as much fun without them. What are some of your favourite memories that involve a pet?

Rosie’s Rangers 5: Wanted

There were so many times while writing Rosie’s Rangers 5: Wanted that the characters surprised me and headed off in directions I didn’t expect them to go in. That is one of my favourite aspects of not planning stories. I get to discover where the story is going and enjoy learning what will happen to the characters and what choices they’ll make. Occasionally that means adding to or rewriting an earlier scene, but it is always worth it for the enjoyment of all those twists and turns and unexpected scenes that keep me writing and wanting to learn what will happen next.

There are certain things I know about Rosie’s past and what was in store for her in the future, but I don’t know everything and I certainly didn’t expect all that occurred in this book. I hope you enjoy learning more about Rosie’s past and some of the effects it’s had on her life as much as I’ve enjoyed discovering them too. Rosie’s Rangers 5: Wanted is now available.

Birthdays

I love birthdays. And I don’t just mean my birthday or love them for the presents. To me it’s not about celebrating another year, it’s celebrating the fact a person was born. That the world is a richer place for having them in it. Choosing presents for friends and family can be a fun part of birthdays, as well as receiving them, but it’s not all that it’s about for me.

I’ve always been enthusiastic about them. Even as a child. As I grew older, friends and family kept telling me I’d eventually grow out of it. Well, it appears that they will be waiting a long time for that to happen as I still look forward to each and every birthday.

This year, my oldest son made me a chocolate choc-chip cake. After all, cake and birthdays go hand in hand and I absolutely love cake. You can also never have enough chocolate so that is one of my favourite types of cake. Now on my birthday, I don’t work. Or at least, I don’t do anything that isn’t fun and enjoyable. So my kids spend the day running around after me for a change and I laze about and read, watch movies, play games and eat cake. I also sometimes scribble a handful of words if the next line of one of the stories I’m working on comes to mind. But I don’t actually sit down and plan to do any writing.

Surprisingly, considering I only spent a few minutes here and there adding another line or two in the story I’ve been working on recently, as it came to me, I wrote one thousand four hundred and twenty-three words. It didn’t seem anywhere like that many words when I was doing them since I was only spending a few minutes at a time on it. Which just goes to show that you don’t need large amounts of time to write. Just little bits and pieces of time here and there.

We have a few traditions when it comes to celebrating birthdays. The person who is having the birthday chooses what happens for the day. They decide what food is cooked and someone else does the cooking. There is also cake and candles and the birthday song, which is sung very badly because there are few of us who can actually sing and we tend to be a little out of sync with each other. Or at lot at some times. But most of all, it’s about having fun and enjoying the day we came into this world however many years ago that might have been.

I’d love to hear how all of you celebrate your birthdays. Post a comment or email me. I truly love to hear about the various ways people spend the day and what they think about the day on which they arrived in this world.

Guardians Of The Round Table 5: Crystal Mine

I don’t like spiders. I really, really don’t like spiders. So when I had to research some information about them for Crystal Mine, I thought I’d be clever and specify drawings. I mean, they can’t be as bad as actual pictures now, can they? I was wrong. So very wrong. Some of those pictures are worse than actual photos. They point out fangs and all the other little details that glancing at a picture can allow you to ignore. But somehow, I managed to survive the trauma and found the information that would help and we continued to write the story.

If only I’d stopped there and we’d found some other creature less creepy to add to the story. Do not search up details about spiders that carry their young. I repeat, this is a public service announcement, do not search details about spiders that carry their young around with them. If you think one spider is bad enough, you don’t want to see images of spiders carrying their young. That is the type of image horror movies are made from.

Thankfully, the story isn’t all about spiders and terrifying baby spiders riding around on them and we did get to research other things as well. And do nicer worldbuilding. Although the rest of the research didn’t entertain my co-writers anywhere near as much as my reactions to our spider research did.

On a lighter note, when trying to come up with a quest title involving finding The Nelly, Storm had a suggestion.

Me: What’s your suggestion?

Storm: Do you want the sarcastic answer?

Me: Sure, why not.

Storm: Whoa Nelly.

Me: How about the non-sarcastic answer?

Storm: I don’t have one of them.

Me: Of course you don’t.

Guardians Of The Round Table 5: Crystal Mine is now available. We hope you enjoy it and also have fun discovering more about Inadon in Lost And Powerful: Myths Of Misplaced Staves.