Revealed: Changelings: Rise of Kings

Ebook COverHey, looky here! We have cover art!

And to celebrate, we also have fiction!

The forming of the story that is now Changelings: Rise of Kings was fraught with many a darling, plot-hole, continuity error, and time-travel migraine. Great swaths of story were cut, re-fashioned, and re-purposed, but my favorite was the story of D’s time in England, 1944.

When he revealed to Maureen and Sean in Into the Mist (which is still FREE today if you haven’t picked up your copy) that he had known their fathers – indeed, had grown to care for them as brothers and was there the night they died – I wanted to tell the whole story. I wrote it, but try as I might (and I tried. I really really tried), it didn’t have a place in Rise of Kings – nor does it in the as-yet-untitled Book 3. I’ve teased bits of it throughout the life of this blog, but I’ve decided to release it over the course of the next few weeks – if anything, just to give it a cohesive finale.

Hunted: A Changelings Short

I heard a wild cry echo through the mists, as though hounds howled against the night.

The Plain, Mag Mell, was empty – stripped of all lore, all magic and life – and Niamh Golden Hair’s curses still rang in my ears.

I would rue the day I had turned from her cause, she had said.

As the sound caused dread to prickle my skin, a part of me laughed. There is a reason Niamh is the Fae’s greatest spell weaver and seer, though not many risk the king’s ire to say so.

The mists pressed down upon me. They started to dance. So wrapped up in my own misery – my own heated denial of her visions – was I, that I did not see their grasping fingers twine ‘round my legs.

And then that cry. That hideous, desperate cry.

The king – Nuada Silver Arm. It had to be.

I carried a sword, gifted to me by that same king for wining his war, but it’s blade mattered little. Nothing crafted by man can harm the Fae. Once it was said they could be killed – that the Fae feared man’s iron – but I knew that to be a fairy tale.

The cry which rent the air told me I was hunted. It is always so for those who travel between the worlds. Why did I think I would be any different? The war I won for Nuada Silver Arm had been over for an age – man had already forgotten it as they sped beyond us.

changelingsebookcover-flat4

Who is Dubh Suile? What are the Changelings? Get your free e-book and find out!

I was a man outside of time, beyond the help of kindred, and I had just turned my back on the last of those who cared.

 

A haunting wail pierced the air, adding anguish to that wild cry of terror. We sang in tune, my hunter and I, and when he ripped the world from beneath my feet, I nearly wept with relief.

* * *

 

“What do you remember?”

 

I gazed at the red-haired man who towered over me. He looked smart in his pilot’s uniform. He was young, yet his green eyes spoke of many battles.

Every day it was the same question.

Every day I said the same thing.

“Nothing.”

It was a lie.

To be Continued…

Be Our Guest: Dilettante vs Druid

Please welcome to the blog, the delightfully witty Helena Hann-Basquiat, our very favorite Dilettante. She graciously wrote up a hilarious account of her most recent run-in with D.  So, lend her your eyes and enjoy! Be sure to tell her how much you love this in the comments!

Dilettante vs Druid

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone’s favorite dilettante

When I arrived at the house, I was at first a bit apprehensive. There were strange noises coming from within, and what appeared to be a tornado hovering over the roof — not doing any damage, just spinning there like a child’s top.

I rang the doorbell, and heard the rushing of feet stomp toward me from behind the door. The door swung upon violently, and I confess I flinched.

“Who rang that bell?” an annoyed looking Druid poked his head out the open door, looked me up and down like a side of beef, and then sneered. “Oh, it’s you.”

“Yes, Mr. Druid. It is I, your favourite dilettante, Helena Hann-Basquiat.”

“You’re not my favourite anything,” he scoffed. “And anyway, can’t you read?”

“Read what?” I asked, looking around in case I’d missed something.

The Druid seemed to be flustered, and slammed the door. He returned a few seconds later with a huff, hung a sign on the door knob, and then closed the door again, barring my entry.

I stared in amusement at the sign, and read it aloud.

“Bell out of order — please knock.”

I laughed. “You know, A. would find this hysterical, but you, you probably don’t even get it, do you, you humourless bastard?”

“I’m no bastard,” Dubh an Súile mac Alasdair, a.k.a. ‘D’ coughed a protest. “And I do too have a sense of humour.”

“Oh, I think not,” I argued. “I think it got shot off in some war or another.”

“And now you’re cribbing lines from Roland of Gilead,” D said.

“Wait,” I shook my head in disbelief. “You don’t know the Wizard of Oz but you know Roland of Gilead?”

“Correction,” he raised a pointed finger. “I knew Roland of Gilead. Excellent fellow, if a bit dusty and intense.”

The one, (and thank heavens) the only, D as imagined by Green Embers)

The one, (and thank heavens) the only, D as imagined by Green Embers)

“You must have got on like fireworks,” I said under my breath. “But Roland is a fictional character in a Stephen King story. How do you…”

“Never mind that,” D interrupted. “What of this Wizard you speak of? Is he very powerful?”

“Not really,” I sighed. “He’s a humbug.”

“I know not this bum hug,” D furrowed his brow intensely. “Is he a traveller, like me?”

“You ever travel by hot air balloon?”

“Certainly not!” D protested. “How archaic!”

“Yeah, well, this conversation is getting archaic,” I murmured. “Is A. home? I really came to see about collecting those pancakes she promised months ago.”

“Pancakes, pancakes, bloody pancakes!” he snapped.

“Well, you just kind of ruined them for me now,” I said, imagining pancakes covered in blood.

“She’s not here!” he said, sounding a bit like Keanu Reeves, and even had a bit of smoulder going on around the eyes.

“Well, then, aren’t you going to invite me in?” I asked.

“Well, I was making some tea…” the sly Druid began, with a look of mischief in his eyes. “Would you care for a trip… um, that is, a sip?”

Something about the way he was looking at me told me that I should probably run, lest I find myself awakening in a compromising position some hours later with no recollection of how my underwear ended up hanging from the ceiling fan. But I was feeling a bit dangerous myself, and as A. wasn’t home, I gave the old goat a wink.

“Yeah, alright.”

It’s the Druid’s life for me

Even as a wee lad, the Druid knew his path . . .

The Druid, it seems, has always known his path . . .

A: Hey, D. What did you want to be when you grew up?

D: What did I want to be?

A: Yeah – I mean, even way back then, at the dawn of time, you had to have aspirations, dreams.

D: I take exception to that “dawn of time” comment . . . 670 was not the dawn of time, A.

A: . . .

D: Well, it isn’t.

A: Fine. It’s just slightly after the dawn of time—

D: A—

A: You’re avoiding the question, D: what did you want to be when you grew up?

D: You say that as though it’s something different than what I am, now that I am, ostensibly, grown.

A: Oh, I don’t mean that at all – but did you really know, at the tender age of-of. . . you know, this is why I had such trouble writing that book of your beginnings – you as a cherub-cheeked lad with a halo of dark curls really messes with my vision of you now.

D: . . . Your vision of me now?

A: Did you just learn how to italicize, or something?

D: Maybe. It works though.

A: Maybe.

D: (Eye roll). Regardless of your vision of me now, in my cherub-cheeked days I was made keenly aware of the gifts I possessed, despite my mother’s insistence I have what she called ‘a normal childhood’ away from the machinations of the clans and the druids. Yet, I was the second son of the clan chief, and had a gift that was prophesied before my birth.

A: And then there’s that honor thing – it didn’t let you even challenge that prophesy, did it?

Just looking at this, I can't imagine D as a child . . . it's just not right. (D as imagined by Green Embers)

Imagine, D as a child – all cherub-cheeks and curls. No, I can’t do it, either.
(D as imagined by Green Embers)

D: You call it honor, but I would say it is integrity. It would not have allowed me to challenge my fate, even if I had wanted to. I did not want to, A. The gods touched my soul – it was my privilege to receive the training necessary to use their gifts. I was born with the responsibility to lead, and it was an honor to fight at the side of my brother and father in defense of our people.

Although, I will say that I veered from the path the gods decreed more often than I care to admit – I am human, failingly so. Yet, even my wanderings were necessary to becoming the man gods insist I become.

A: Indeed –  frankly, you left me exhausted after I wrote just a fraction of you story. You’re a little intense, D. But, I have a question.

D: Just one?

A: How do I fit into this path of yours?

D: I’m still fairly certain you’re my punishment for some slight against the gods, although its origins continue to elude me.

A: Nice.

D: I do my best. But enough about me, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: Indiana Jones.

D: . . .

A: Hey, you asked.

D: Indeed I did – and with that, folks, we bid you a fond adieu. It’s A’s birthday today, and I’m sure she’s going to post some of her hijinks on that twittering bird and friendly facebooking – keep a weather eye on the horizon, and it will all be over soon!

A: Cheers, D. And thank you all for reading – have a great weekend!

***

For The Daily Post’s prompt: Futures Past.

Moments to Remember: The Druid himself – An origin narrative

no eyes2

The first appearance of the Druid – I think The Boy did a great job as a stand-in!

A: It’s the final piece of the D/A Dialogues origin stories, written in response to the Weekly Challenge: Reflections.

D: Because we all know that, for A, following the rules and only posting one thing in response to a challenge is boring.

A: Too right, Druid.

D: (Eye roll) Today, it’s my turn to speak about my origins – about the man I am in A’s books.

A: And don’t worry – he’s not blonde.

D: Thank the gods. Anyway, some of this is from the two defunct books that make up my back-story – the tale of my parents and that first-person narrative I mentioned yesterday.

A: Mentioned is a nice word – I would have said blabbed.

D: You say tomato, I say tomahto.

A: Indeed – and without further ado, the Big Tomahto himself, Dubh an Súile. . .

An old woman, a priestess of a goddess now banished from the minds of men, once laid her hands on my mother’s belly.  Long before my small movements could be felt, long before I even looked like the man-child I would become, the old woman felt my spirit, strong and true.  Bidden by this, she uttered words that, on the eve of great tragedy, gave my mother greater calm:  “They will know him as Dubh an Súile, and he will be a great leader of men.”

My origins – my life and its path – can be traced to that prophesy. Whether or not the old woman was correct, it followed me through to the end of my days. It haunted me as much as it bade men to follow me. It was, in turns, used as a curse against me and to rally me from despair of my own making.

The monks of the Christos and the priests of the Druid grove each had a hand in my education, but at seven years of age, it was to the grove I was sent. I was the second son, and while they knew I would not lead the clan upon my father’s death, it was hoped I would lead the grove.

It took me nine years to earn the right to sing at the hearths of my people, counsel kings and delve deep into the heart of men to see their path. I was a Druid true – not a magician but skilled in the Sight and a reader of the stars. I returned home only to have my homecoming interrupted by war. We – the mac Alasdair clan of Craig Ussie – went to aid our brethren against the Kingdom of Northumbria.

We were betrayed; my father and I were captured and held by our enemy for over a year. Our kin thought us dead, but fought on regardless. They said our deaths lead them into victorious battle. Our southern brothers were free once more, but I lost everything that mattered: my father, the woman who had given me her heart and the life we could have led together.

When we returned home, I knew I could not stay – and yet I could not lead the grove, either. I went to Éire – Ireland. I put aside my training as a mystic to earn my keep at whatever hearth could keep me. I roamed the country so long I thought I had escaped the life I once led – I sang tales of my own bravery in battle, and none knew that it was I.

The moment of my becoming – the moment when that old woman’s prophesy claimed my soul – happened as I stumbled upon an old hermit, living atop a sidhe mound. These mounds dotted the land – sacred and feared – and marked the places where once the Milesians led the Tuatha Dé Danann after they conquered the land. That he lived so close to the Fae was a temptation I could not resist.

It was a temptation that would prove the undoing of me – and be the key to my salvation.

D: I can’t actually say more, or A will interrupt me.

A: You know me too well, Druid.

D: Well, it could hardly be helped – you’ve been singing “spoilers” in the background for the last fifteen minutes. Singing off-key, might I add.

A: (Shrug) It’s what I do.

D: . . . I’m not going to suggest just what it is you do, but do you realize, A, that in all of this, we never actually gave the blog’s origin story?

A: I think we’ve been over that more than enough times.

D: Sure, but you know, the short version. . .

A: Okay, the short version is that I used to write notes between us in the marginalia of edits. Or in the back of my head. Or on napkins and notebooks. I’d giggle. I thought others would, too.

D: And . . .

A: Relentless much? And I was faced with the idea that if I wanted any agent/publisher/reader to look at me, I was going to have to learn to promote myself – otherwise known as putting myself out there. For an introvert of massive proportions, it was a big deal. Having a dialogue with you seemed like a great way to get started.

The Dialogues' very first logo - my poor, aching head.

The Dialogues’ very first logo – my poor, aching head.

D: Also, it lets people know, right from the start, that you are stark raving mad.

A: Well, it helps. It lowers the expectation threshold.

D: Indeed – and with that, I do believe we are going to bid the internet a fond evening.

A: We are at that, D. I have Spartans to watch with The Boy.

D: I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that – those Spartans—

A: D – D in no way is the movie we’re about to watch historically accurate. Just sit back and you know, think of England or something.

D: . . .

A: (Grin) Thanks for reading everyone – have a great weekend!

Part 1: A’s Writerly Origins | Part 1.5: Bookish Origins | Part 2: D’s Character Origins | Part 3: The Druid himself – an origin narrative

What’s in a name?

Somewhere in this chaos is D's real name.

Somewhere in this chaos is D’s real name.

D, I call him. Druid. Dubh.

A title, he says.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know I only recently discovered D’s real name – the name he was born with, and not the name I had been calling him all these years. In my defense, it’s not easy for a character as old as D (1345 and counting) to keep one name. Languages change. People change. Countries rise and fall and what was once a mark of pride becomes shame, and back again.

And in D’s case, he gave up his real name when he became less than the man he wanted to be. He took on a title, an identity that would keep him safe. It was, perhaps, the only way he could armor himself against what he had become. That title became a shackle, one he had to destroy if he wanted to claim his real name, and with it a destiny and lineage he could be proud of.

Names are powerful. I’ve heard this more than once, and while my rational brain accepted it, I never quite knew how true it was. Sure, having the right name – one that suits you – just is. My son had his name picked out well before he was born – back when I thought maybe he was a she. But the moment his name popped into my head, I knew I was having a boy, and I knew his name was Thomas. I may have any number of nicknames for him (The Boy or The Kid being the most notable here) but he is, and forever shall be, Thomas.

D as imagined by Green Embers

D as imagined by Green Embers

D isn’t quite so clear-cut. How could he be, when he is by his very nature a man who walks between worlds? Each situation requires a different identity, and with that identity, came a new form of his name. Each one suited the times and the language. Each one portrayed a facet of his personality.

Writing his book became something of a mystery to solve, even though I wasn’t aware I was trying to find his real name. When I did find it, I realized his name – his real name – had been the key to unlocking his true self and undoing the resentment I’d held onto during the years in which I did not write.

That’s a lot of responsibility for a character, even one as epic as D. I don’t blame him for hiding his real name from me – not anymore (just don’t tell him that; he’s got a big enough head as it is). He has earned his real name back, and as I wade through book 2, I am happy – no, scratch that – honored to be able to use it.

Cheers, D.

For the WordPress Weekly Challenge: The Power of Names

The Druid asks the Questions – Dani Vedsted

Ladies and Gents, it is my pleasure and my honor to put the questions to Miss Dani Vedsted.

Dani is the proprietress of the Etsy Shop, Fall’n Love Crafts and a blog of the same name. I ask your forgiveness in advance – I am about as familiar with crafts as A is with the use of a sword for anything beyond a prop (which is actually a good thing. Yours truly may not live to see the completion of his books if she were to learn). However, Dani is a most gracious guest and walked me through the process. I hope you enjoy her as much as I did.

Now, without further ado . . .

D: Tell us a little bit about your store, Fall’n Love Crafts.

fallinlovecrafts

Fall’nLove Crafts – Dani Vedsted

DV: Fall’N Love Crafts started with a birthday present for my mother: a buffalo plate. She loved it and urged me to make more and sell them. Well, I did, and plates built up and my sister, Briana Vedsted, set up my Etsy shop for me. My shop name came to me as a little bit of encouragement to myself: you need to fall in love with your piece of art before you try selling it. No one can understand it or like it if you don’t have your own feeling for it.    

D: I hear you have a new line that debuts today – what is Fallen Angel all about?

DV: Fallen Angel is sort of like a fantasy for me. You see, being an angel is all about perfection; your hair is perfect, your heart is perfect, and so on and so forth. Being a Fallen Angel means the angel is flawed with human qualities such as emotions of anger and sorrow. Plus, to show the change from Perfection to Fallen, your angel might end up with a tear in her wing or a scar on her arm. Fallen Angel, I guess, describes the way I am feeling sometimes.         

D: Where does the inspiration for your crafts come from?

DV: Most of my inspiration comes from my surrounding or family. My Fallen Angel is completely emotional though.

D: We all have our favorite children (don’t shake your head at me, A – you only have one): What has been your favorite piece to make?

DV: That is a tough question; all of my plates have a special something to them. I think it would have to be my buffalo plate that I made for my mother’s birthday.

D: Well, she’s very lucky because it is beautiful. What about a least favorite piece – do you have one? What is it about it that made it less-than-loved?

DV: My least favorite plate was a wolf plate I made for a friend of mine. The problem was I liked the finished piece, but some of my family members thought it needed more. I put things on, took things off, and finally decided to leave it how it was.  

D: That sounds like a lesson many need to learn. Take us through the crafting process – how do you begin, and how do you know it’s ready?

DV: It is really easy; I get my plate and spray paint it the desired color, I then glue on the picture and all the ‘ornaments,’ wait for it to dry, and then I spray it with a sealant.    

D: So the reason A can’t craft isn’t because it’s difficult like she keeps telling me? Ha! Knew it. Is there a piece that you would love to make, but you don’t necessarily feel as though you’re ready to make it yet?

DV: Actually, my Fallen Angel Collection was the one I was afraid to do. I really don’t even know if it is good enough for me. I guess I will find out if it gets sold.

D: I think the idea of it is wonderful – and I hope your bravery is rewarded, Dani. Are there other creative areas you’d like to branch out into?

DV: I always wished I could be a famous artist or a musician, but I think I’m neck deep into a future of farming and ranching.

D: Never stop hoping. I had nothing but cattle in the highlands of Scotland and look at me now!

A: D. You’re a character in my head.

D: Yes, but I was somebody before that, A. Don’t ruin my message.

D: Now, Dani, do you have any advice for any other young, enterprising business people out there? What have you learned?

DV: My advice is never give up, keep praying, and keep your fingers crossed. I believe everyone has a chance at doing what they love; they just need to take that first step.

D: Alright, Dani – I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the magnificence that is me, but if you had to attribute one of your pieces to a time-traveling Pict Druid, which one would it be?

DV: The plate I think that would best be attributed to D’s magnificence is my wild horse plate that captures the very spirit of freedom and eternity.

D: I love it! Thank you, Dani, for spending time with me and answering my questions. You are a delight, and I wish only the best things for you and for your latest collection.

A: There you have it folks, the Fallen Angels line is available now – as is a lovely backstory/short story on Dani’s blog. Enjoy!

Hidden: Dubh Súile Speaks

D: My name is Dubh Súile mac Alasdair.

A: No, it is not.

D: We’ve been over this, A.

A: I know, but how can you open a post with that? It isn’t your name (name changer)!

D: I thought you were going to give me the floor today.

A: Oh. Yeah. Sorry. Go ahead. I’ll shut myself up in this blue box over here. Gee, I wonder what that – wheeee!

D: That she roams free upon this earth startles me.

I am Dubh Súile mac Alasdair. Some know me and say that I am kind. Others say that I am powerful and merciless. Others still see a battle-scarred young man whose father – a king of his people – was slaughtered before his eyes.

Then there is me. There is the me I show to you all, the me that exists here within the mystical lines and dashes of code that make up the internet. There is the me that exists within the stories A has allowed herself to see and write thus far. Then there is the me that she has yet to write. She has seen glimpses, and she has shared them with you in poetic form as she searches for more ways to feel who I am. As she looks deeper within the soul she has carried in her head for these many years, the me that is will begin to shine.

I was born in 668 near Loch Ussie in what is now Scotland. My people and their history are gone from this world, but we were princes once. We counseled kings, and won for them wars. We were apostate, yet monks of Rome taught our young together with venerable Druids. I was raised to join them, these priests of dying gods. I was taught to be the greatest of their number, and lead them, while my brother would lead our clan.

Instead, I ran away.

I was young, foolish and in love. I was betrayed and saved in one breath. I lost and was not gracious in defeat. Time tempered my soul – time, war and a journey into myth that afforded me as much as it stole from me.

Now I no longer run.

Who am I? What is in the hidden window of my soul?

I am Dubh Súile mac Alasdair and I am powerful. I am the son of kings. The blood of old gods flows in my veins yet I alone control my destiny.

I am merciless, but I will not countenance suffering nor allow treachery to take root in my heart.

I am tender and know love well. The memory of my Mairead’s touch warms my soul, and I smile, although it is through tears.

I walk alone. Doubt brought me to my knees, and duty has torn me from the side of all those who were dear to my heart. I risk much to right old wrongs and see to it that those who come after me may walk freely upon this earth.

I am Dubh Súile mac Alasdair and I am flawed. I am human.

The heart of humanity is resilient and I have watched it beat unfailingly throughout these many centuries – and it beats within this old body, yet. It carries me through the deepest terrors of my soul and gives me hope that one day A will finish my tale and allow my journey to end. When she does, I will finally be at peace.

Hidden: Dubh Súile Speaks was brought to you by The Queen Creative’s Prompts for the Promptless: Johari Window.

Check out these other offerings for this week’s prompt:

PS: This is the last Prompts for the Promptless of Season 3. Season 4 starts up again on January 7!

 

 

 

The Druid asks the Questions of Jack Flacco

D: It is my pleasure, nay, my grave pleasure—see what I did there A?

A: (eye roll) Yes, D – I see it. Very clever.

D: You don’t sound very impressed.

A: Sorry, I was saving the ticker-tape for a special occasion.

D: What could be more special than this? Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my grave pleasure to welcome Jack Flacco, author of Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse, to the D/A Dialogues.

D: Jack, give us a quick, spoiler-free overview of Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse.

jack flacco - zombieJ: After finding his family had succumbed to the ravages of the zombie apocalypse, Ranger Martin, a shotgun-toting former truck driver, makes a life mission of eradicating as many eaters as he can with the little resources he has at his disposal. Making things complicated are a group of kids tagging along, aiding Ranger on his quest to discovering the truth regarding the zombification of humanity.

D: Why zombies – what is it about them that drove you to write a book?

J: Zombies are fun. They’re Horror’s little Terminators. No matter how much we try to get rid of them, they keep coming. They replicate. They take a beating. They never surrender. Their unrelenting pace brought me to the genre, and I’ve always wanted to read a book where zombies scared me to a cold chill.

D: So many components go into writing and then publishing a book – which was your favorite?

J: I enjoy stepping into the story to experience what the characters are experiencing. The role-playing aspect interests me the most, as it’s a brief opportunity to live someone else’s life. Is there such a thing as method writing?

D: I think so – my presence on this blog may be a side effect of such a phenomena. So, do you have any traditions or rituals you invoke when you complete a draft?

J: Without fail, I’ll take the family out for dinner. It’s a tradition I’ve kept since the very beginning. Funny thing about it, the draft doesn’t come up in conversation. I guess we’re too busy enjoying the sushi to talk about it.

D: Which of your characters character were you rooting for the most?

J: Randy. Here’s a kid who’s stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time with very little to live for and dream. Yet, hooking up with Ranger may have been the best choice of his life—even if at times Ranger dances on the threshold of insanity.

D: The threshold of insanity seems to be a thing with writers. Ranger and A have a lot in common. Speaking of, which of your characters did you enjoy torturing?

J: If you consider zombies as a character, then I think every zombie kill was my idea of fun. I kept track of the kills so I wouldn’t do the same thing twice.

D: Sometimes writers go into a novel with one idea/favorite and come out the other side with a completely different idea or favorite character – did this happen to you, or were you able to remain true to your initial vision?

J: I wrote it with the idea that not everything we see is what it seems. As humans, we have a tendency to make up our mind about things before getting all the facts. It happens to me all the time. For instance, the line at checkout has five shoppers, so I switch to the other line with the two shoppers thinking I’ll get out of the store faster. But I didn’t see the shopper ahead of me having an item needing a price check. Next thing I know, I’m stuck waiting longer than the original line I had stood in. Perception makes for an interesting bedfellow.

D: What’s next for Jack Flacco?

J: I have two other books I’m currently writing at the same time.

D: What is your favorite genre to read?

jack flaccoJ: I’m reading John Grisham’s full bibliography in chronological order based on date of publication. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but put it off for a reason or other. I suppose for now, the legal thriller is my favorite genre.

D: You discus movies quite a bit on your blog – do movies play into your creative process at all?

J: I grew up on a staple of Spielberg, Lucas and Cameron movies. As much as I try to avoid adding references to these film titans, something manages to slip in. It then becomes a game for me to find the references. I suppose it happens as my own version of a subconscious homage to these great directors.

D: Provided it’s not a spoiler, what is your favorite name for a zombie – either in your own work or in other works out there?

J: Eaters. I’ve heard this term used before and it describes the zombies perfectly. The undead do nothing other than hunt and eat. If I had my way, though, I’d call them sharks. Then again, confusion would arise whenever a story took place in shark-infested waters. Isn’t there a movie about that?

D: What has been your favorite visual interpretation of the zombie genre?

J: The ability to survive a catastrophic event such as the annihilation of humanity can come in different flavors. By far, AMC’s The Walking Dead is as close to a zombie apocalypse as anyone can get for now. I can’t seem to let go of Season 1’s imagery from my mind. Zombieland is another one of my favorites, even though the electricity still works in that universe. Then again, with so many automated backup systems in place nowadays, who’s to say the lights would go out in an end-of-the-world scenario?

D: Who would you pick to play Ranger Martin in the movie version of your book?

J: I draw a blank whenever asked this question. I left Ranger’s description vague on purpose in order for readers to imagine their own interpretation. I’ll say this though, if Ranger Martin does get optioned for a movie, the actor playing him would have to be strong enough to lift a soldier off his feet.

D: What do you think the odds would be on a time-travelling druid vs. a zombie hoard?

J: I fear for the zombies’ safety.

D: Hear that, A?

A: Of course, with the right equipment, a three-year old could destroy a zombie.

D: A zombie maybe, but we’re talking zombie hoards, A. A swarm, a multitude a veritable throng of zombies.

A: . . .

D: A mob, A.

A: No more reading the thesaurus for you, D. If you want to see if you could pit your wits against Jack’s zombies, pick up his book, Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse at Amazon.com, tomorrow, October 22 (Wait, that’s TODAY – Buy your copy now)! You can also stalk him on his blog, and on Facebook.

D: Also, check out A’s review of Ranger Martin. . . even if it is Druid Free.

A: Ha, Druid Free. I like that – kinda like Gluten Free, but for my sanity instead of my stomach.

D: . . . Ignore the woman behind the curtain. She’ll offer you sawdust and call it brains!

A: Mmmmm . . . Brains. . .

D: And with that, we bid you all good day. Thank you for stopping by the D/A Dialogues.

A Date with A Druid, Part 2

Is D ready for the modern world of dating? Is the modern world of dating ready for D?

It started out as a desperate cry from lonely Druid – let me have a date with your character, 1WriteWay (Marie Ann Bailey), I promise I’ll behave. Yeah right, said the writers. Nevertheless, the date happened. Read on for the exciting conclusion to “A Date with A Druid” as D attempts to woo Mary, a contemporary woman in a series about three widowed cousins who start a private investigation firm.

Previously. . .

The Druid picked up the bouquet of roses and held them out to her. “Has your lover ever given you flowers as beautiful as these? Has his lips burned a kiss onto your hand, as I have. Oh, yes, dear lady, I felt you shiver with that kiss.”

Mary took another gulp of wine. She was going to have to have a long talk with 1WriteWay, her author. She studied her glass, wondering why it was empty so quickly and, more importantly, how to extricate herself from this large, overbearing, egotistical hunk of a man . . .

By Green Embers

By Green Embers

“Come, my lady – don’t tell me you haven’t wondered what it’s like to live outside the lines your writer has given you.”

He gestured to the gentleman behind the bar for another round. Mary twisted herself around to shake her head at the man but he was already gone. Damn. She turned back to D. He was still talking. Well, he certainly enjoyed the sound of his own voice, didn’t he? Too bad she did, too.

“She doesn’t give me – I mean, she’s very good at interpreting my story–”

“Don’t you want to feel for yourself? Feel alive in ways no one else can possibly imagine?”

Mary had a hot denial at the ready but paused. She lifted the new glass of Chardonnay and eyed D over the rim. He had a point.

But he was far too pleased with himself to give in.

She touched her lips to the glass – just a small taste this time. Her cheeks were already flushed with the heat of the alcohol and it would not do to let that heat encourage those ridiculously blue eyes any further than she already had.

“I suppose you can help me do that, then?”

A slow, wicked smile spread over the man’s face and his eyes drifted to her lips. A cool tingle of wine still lingered there and Mary resisted the urge to lick them.

This was not fair. What was it about Druids that made them special? Was it magic? 1WriteWay should have warned her to brush up on her history before allowing this date to happen. And that A – she had a lot to answer for, letting this man loose.

“Not magic, my lady – just several centuries of watching man’s progress and interaction with one another.”
“Oh.” Mary frowned. Had she said that out loud? She didn’t remember speaking. No more Chardonnay. “You know, you’re making this very difficult for me.”

“And what could I do to make it better for you? I do only wish to please.”

“Why is it when you say that, it sounds so . . . so . . . naughty?”

“Only if you wish it so, my lady.”

“Why, I  – Oh for heaven’s sake, put on a shirt.”

The Druid burst out laughing and Mary covered her cheeks with her hands. Her face was burning.

“Alas, all I have is a rag from my days as a pirate – I did not wish to embarrass you with my poor wardrobe.”

“Pirate?” Mary fanned her cheeks. Visions of swashbuckling heroes flickered through her mind.

No. No swashbuckling. No pillaging of her honor. No. No. No. Overbearing, that’s what he was. Overbearing, egotistical and . . . and . . . deeply affecting . . . No!

Mary gave herself a mental shake. Chauvinistic. Yes, that was it.

Perhaps his naked torso was better. “Maybe, um, you could just button up your coat,” she muttered.

“As my lady desires.”

“And stop with that – my lady this, my desires that. My name is Mary, and I would prefer you use it.”

D bowed his head. She couldn’t be sure, but she thought he was laughing silently. His eyes were far too merry for him not to be. Honestly, this was just too much.

“And what’s this about not wishing to embarrass me? Quite frankly D, I think you’re enjoying my discomfort far too much. My God, if Randy ever said—What? Why are you laughing?”

“Your lover’s name is Randy?”

“Yes?”

D was giggling into his stout. Giggling.

Druids shouldn’t giggle, Mary thought as she sipped her Chardonnay.

“I’m sorry, my lady – much of my life was spent in the British Isles,” he said. He was gulping at the air, trying to catch his breath.

“What does that have to do with it?”

“Oh well, it’s just that – excuse me – the word ‘randy’—“

God, he was snorting now. Mary rolled her eyes.

“The word ‘randy’ is slang for – for–” The Druid took a deep breath and managed to compose himself. He arched an eyebrow at her but the effect was lost in his ruddy face and the tears that were still coursing down his cheeks. “For the sexually excited – well, for you my lady.”

His smile turned into a leer and he reached for her hand again.

“Why, you conceited pig! You are the worst kind of – of man!”

Mary yanked her hand from his heated paw and bolted from her seat with enough force to rock the chair on two legs. D stared up at her and she thought she caught a glimmer of surprise in his face before the mask of suave confidence smoothed his features.

“I am the only kind of man—“

Before he could even finish the sentence, Mary smashed the bouquet of roses in his face and stomped to the door. Of all the—1WriteWay owed her for this, that was for damn certain.

But even as she reached the door, the Druid’s words echoed in her head. “Don’t tell me you haven’t wondered what it’s like to live outside the lines.” She paused, her hand wrapped around the handle. She did wonder.

Against her better judgment, Mary spared the Druid a glance over her shoulder.

Oh, for the love of—not only had the waitress rushed to his aid, but D was also smiling graciously at the barman as he stooped to clear the scattered rose petals. As she watched, D turned those deep bedroom eyes on the girl until she twirled her hair.

Honestly. Man or woman, it didn’t matter to that randy—Mary caught herself and grinned. It was funny – somewhat. Perhaps she should go home and teach Randy what his name really meant.

The Druid Asks the Questions of Briana Vedsted

Me and Billy the Kid, by Briana Vedsted

Me and Billy the Kid, by Briana Vedsted

A: D. D, put down the hat.

D: What are you talking about? Briana’s coming!

A: Yes, but she does write other things besides westerns featuring Billy the Kid. Besides, the hat just looks–

D: Don’t you say it, A. Billy liked it, and that makes it just fine.

A: Whatever. Just make sure you don’t smack Briana in the face with the fringe on your shirt.

D: (eye roll). As if it were long enough to do that, sheesh. With that, ladies and gents, it is my great pleasure to welcome to the D/A Dialogues, Ms. Briana Vedsted.

D: You are a prolific writer, Ms. Vedsted – tell us a little bit about your upcoming novel, Me and Billy the Kid.

B: Me and Billy the Kid is fictitious tale about the infamous western outlaw Billy the Kid and some other characters from the time, including Jesse Evans, Richard Brewer, and the legendary Sherriff Pat Garrett. New to the tale is Billy’s young girlfriend, Angel, who quickly becomes the object of Garrett’s fascination.

D: I hear you have a publisher for Billy – what has been your experience with indie publishing versus traditional publishing?

B: Tate Publishing, the company who I’m working with for Billy, is more of a vanity press, and so far, I admit that indie publishing is my favorite. It’s a lot more stress-free and I have more control. I still have my hopes on publishing the traditional route one day, but for now, self publishing is the best I’ve found.

D: Where do your characters come from? Are they people you’ve known all your life, did they come knocking on your mind’s door, demanding to be written, or is it a combination of all of that?

B: My characters are a combination of people I know and people that just popped into my head. It is by far easier to take real life people I know and make them into characters, for me. With most of my characters who are imaginary, I usually see them very clearly when I start writing, but after awhile, appearance starts to change and I have to make a list of each color’s eye color, hair color, age, etc.

D: Of all your characters, who would you rather spend a day with? What would you do?

B: I would of course love to spend a day with Billy the Kid! Even though my character is slightly different from the really William H. Bonney, to be able to hang out with a legendary old west cowboy would be amazing. And I would just sit and listen to him talk all day long. I’d want to hear the stories he could tell!

D: Who is your least favorite character? Who, if they were to be in the middle of a stampede of cattle, would you save last?

B: The character I’d let the cattle trample would probably be Maggie, the main character in The Untold Story of Margaret Hearst, alias Maugrim Valletta (a.k.a. The Ballad of Margaret Hearst). She’s a foolish, rebellious teenage girl who falls in love with the wrong man and does everything she can to be with him. She is the only character I have that I don’t like. And actually, she turned out just the way I planned. I think I hoped she would have developed a new personality, but alas, she was a very obedient character and went alone without arguing.

D: What genre would you like to try – if you haven’t already?

B: I’ve actually tried writing every genre I could think of. But so far, my favorites are fantasy and western.

D: I hear there is a vampire-and werewolf-like story in your future? Care to share a spoiler-free sneak peek?

B: Here with the Wolves is about werewolves and the human-like Slayers who kill them to protect humans. Here’s a piece from the first book in the series:

 “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Ness, the conquering hero.”

My hand dropped to my knife blade, and I had to remember that it was kind of illegal for an alpha to kill a member of her pack, no matter how annoying he was.

“Hello Malcolm.” I turned to face the dark faced aggressor. His blue eyes took in my bloody appearance, my bandaged arm, and the don’t-mess-with-me-right-now-or-I-just-might-rip-your-head-off look with amusement.

“I guess I was wrong about you: you were able to kill a wolf after all.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Was Malcolm actually giving me a complement?

Then he opened his infuriating mouth again, “Or did Kenneth do it for you? Were you scared? However did you manage to spend three whole nights out in the woods? Did you have to borrow your little brother’s teddy bear, or maybe his security blanket, huh?”

He laughed coldly, and again, the only thing keeping his head on his shoulders was Dustin’s hand on my arm.

Kenneth started to stick up for me, but I waved him away. I wanted to show him I could handle myself. I shook off Dustin’s arm and stepped right up in front of Malcolm. The sound of my own voice surprised me, it was so low and gravely, I don’t think it even belonged to me. “As your Alpha, I command you to hold your tongue. If anyone is going to do any lecturing, it will be me. Unless you are severing the bond, bow before me so as to prove your loyalty to our pack.” This was the first time I’d ever pushed anyone. Never before had I summoned up my alpha ability of dominance to order anyone around.

And now Malcolm was faced with a dilemma. He could choose not to bow (which I probably would have done) and be turned out of his pack (okay, maybe I would have bowed, for Kenneth’s sake), or he could bow to his mortal enemy and remain in the pack.

He chose the second option.

Falling to the ground, Malcolm groveled. (It was a bit much, in my opinion.)

Embarrassed and a bit ashamed for pushing him so harshly, I cleared my throat, “Uh, okay then. Rise Malcolm. You have proven your loyalty.”

Blue eyes like daggers, his dark face shockingly pale with humiliation, Malcolm got to his feet. His voice dripped poison as he said, “I honor no alpha but Kenneth. The day his reign is over, I’ll come after your life.”

A Girl Named Cord

A Girl Named Cord

D: Thank you for sharing that with us, Briana. How much of your family’s work on its ranch has influenced your storytelling?

B: All I know about horses and cattle I learned from experience. Living on my family’s ranch has helped inspire the majority of my stores, western or other genres. Ranching can be a dangerous occupation. I know what it feels like to get bucked off a horse, come face-to-face with a lion, and get lost in the middle of nowhere. Great joy comes with the territory, as well, and so does sorrow. Living the life I do has given me lots of opportunities, and I try my hardest to accurately describe all events I write about.

D: A and I both loved your post I am an Author. What advice would you give to other young and aspiring authors out there.

B: Really the only thing I would say is that you’ve got to love this craft. I mean it. If you don’t love writing, it might be the wrong job for you. But if you do love it, then just keep writing. Everything gets better with practice. Yes, there will be naysayers along the way, but you have to be strong.

D: All right, Briana – I love asking this question of people who have a myriad of characters at their disposal: It’s a Druid showdown – me vs. a character of your choice. Who do you think can take this time-travelling Pict warrior down?

B: I’m going to have to say Kenneth, alpha of the Slayer pack from Here with the Wolves. He’s the most level-headed character I’ve ever come up with, and a born fighter. I’m not sure he could actually take you down, D, but he is an archer, as well as an extremely good swordsman. And if necessary, he’s all for flaunting his martial arts skills. If you bother his protégée, Ness, be prepared to face the wrath of Kenneth!

D: Yikes, I think I’ll leave Ness alone!

Well, there you have it folks, Ms. Briana Vedsted. To learn more about Briana and her work, head over to When I Became an Author. You can also buy her books, The Night I Walked Off Boot Hill, A Girl Named Cord and The Ballad of Margaret Hearst
on Amazon.

Me and Billy the Kid will be released on November 5, 2013.