Somewhere, beyond sight but not beyond imagination, even now lie worlds so like our own in shape and character. It’s possible. In a universe made up of infinite possibilities, anything could be out there just past our fingertips…waiting for us to find it.
Close your eyes…hear the symphony of space…open the door…and step through your consciousness into a world that breathes. Where Dragons sleep, the forests are dark and guarded, and toadstool rings are something to be avoided if you value your life. A world propelled by the Majiks that flow from one being to the next…through one planet to another. It is a link in the Great Web of Life that connects us all.
Let the music call you, let the sounds translate to words…
Come, my friends, to JORTHUS.
This is a tale that will give a peek inside the world of Jorthus. It follows the paths of a reclusive spellsinger named Lylith, and a young faery being (called a Faerlin) named Keinigan.
They, along with others they meet on the way, find themselves on a quest of an illicit nature that could be construed by some as a rescue mission.
A mystical gemstone, called the Dawnstone, is crying for help and only those in tune with the Majiks that flow through Jorthus can hear it. Lylith is drawn by it, though she is unaware of the true reason she can hear it when others cannot.
Lylith is fascinated by learning and with each new encounter outside her lonely tower, she discovers more and more about the world around her. The good and the bad of it.
Having grown up using the Majiks in her everyday life, she takes them for granted and is bewildered at the fact that not everyone uses them, or even believes in them. Spellsongs are as natural as breathing to her.
To Keinigan, stealing is as natural as breathing. He is placed on his path to the Dawnstone by a different means. His life has taken a downward spiral and he finds himself having to cooperate with people who he would ordinarily have avoided, and facing many discomforts that he wishes to avoid.
But, through it they find common bonds and friendships, and for Lylith, a new desire.
Almost a year has passed since Lylith sought the Dawnstone and many emotions are still too fresh for her to govern. So, she takes solace in the only thing that she truly understands…her study of the Majiks.
As she opens her home to a new friend, a mage named Master Calbraum, she learns of secrets and powers hidden in her own home. A Door sits in her tower, unused, forgotten. It opens pathways to other places, other worlds, and even other dimensions.
Her natural curiosity cannot be stifled. She uses the creation to learn about creatures in other places. Her new ambition to chronicle the myriad planes of space has one draw back…an open door is an invitation to those seeking a way into her world of Jorthus. And not all are welcome.
In his own corner of life, Keinigan finds that his troubles aren’t over still. An old friend comes to inform him that the man who sent him to get the Dawnstone still expects him to deliver it. Or else…
As Lylith and Keinigan’s paths are merged once more, they discover strange occurrences happening around them in the lands of Myretrae, seemingly by happenstance. Devastating attacks by unknown creatures are terrifying the villages and driving desperate people to congregate in a place of certain safety: the Great Caulderon. A flux in the Majiks creates its own river of fear in the spellsingers of Jorthus as her sister-worlds, Gerellus and Quorrelles, draw close.
An alignment of planets is approaching. What that will mean for the Majiks and the future of Jorthus, no one truly knows.
Jorthus is in danger from without and from within. No soul is safe, and a tepid alliance is formed to save the lands from a vicious enemy bent on destruction as earthquakes increase to alert the heroes of troubles unseen.
Celestial orbits are causing havoc, disrupting the flow of Jorthus’ energies. The Queen of Atollis issues conditions for her cooperation in the battle against the bloodthirsty creatures ravaging the countryside. Lylith and her new companions must find the source and the cause of this army to eliminate them.
Things are not always what they seem, she discovers, as the need to travel to the sister-world becomes inevitable.
The races of Jorthus place their hopes of survival in the hands of the most unlikely of heroes…
And Lylith must face her most disruptive opponent– her unrelenting attraction to her former lover.
Now, a race against time begins as the shattering shadow of death flows from one city to the next, ripping the ground apart and slaughtering people from the skies. The ancient enemies of the faerlins may have survived on another planet, but their very presence on Jorthus threatens everything.
All the inhabitants of Jorthus, scaled, furred, skinned, and otherwise must band together against the ancient enemies to stop them.
Lylith must gather the Majiks into the Dawnstone for one urgent attempt at salvation: A spell of Oblivion that will connect all three worlds.
The only problem is whom she needs to call together in order to cast the spellsong.
Years after the Oblivion spell, Lylith hears a new song of despair. Very weak, almost inaudible through the Dawnstone. The voice of the smallest sister-world, Gerellus, is fading. Soon, it will be no more.
The flows of Majik from Jorthus have been erratic and weak as she mourns her sisters. The precious life-line communication between planets will be lost. If their world is to regain its glory, Lylith, Keinigan, and their companions must follow a bloodlink to a new and strange planet of tall buildings and technology. A world far unlike their own.
There lies the answer to the survival of Gerellus and Jorthus both. And a new threat: The Institution.
Ten years ago, I joined a misfit group of authors who started a Facebook group called, “Red River Writers” I joined because I wanted to learn everything I could about freelance writing. At the time there weren’t many writer groups online because the writing profession was a mystery with many writers keeping their trade secrets—secret. Most of that was due to fear of competition or the desire to protect the business. So finding a community was vital to a newbie writer like me, because I wasn’t going to get relevant and timely information talking to the old school. Facebook introduced me to a new world of writers, and artists that I couldn’t find where I lived at the time. I wanted to peek behind the curtain and find out what it was like to be a writer.
There, I met the founder of the group named, April…
For independent novelists, getting the things that we need to produce the best book is vital. Getting the best things that we need for little to no money is, of course, desirable. I had begun to think that I would never be able to get a photo-like cover that I liked unless I took the photo myself because of the very fact that I had no money to spend on a professional photographer, models, or even most stock photo sites. My son takes photos that I have used in the past, but they entail a great deal of photoshop to make them not look like the places around my house.
I had about given up on finding photos for free on the internet that inspired me as a book cover for my fantasy series. Then I found Unsplash and Pixabay.
Now, the photos on there are varied. There are some that are very similar to ones I’ve seen on other sites. Many lovely stock images of buildings, landscapes, skies, animals, and people. I combed through their library over many tedious hours and found a few that sparked my interest. The site says that the photos are for use for free and no credit to the photographer or contact with them is necessary, but I feel that giving credit where credit is due is important.
I picked several photos where I like certain elements and tried to keep the names of the artists with them in my computer. Granted, I altered the ones that I used. Heavily altered in some cases. But, I am writing this blog to share with you the possibilities that are available on Unsplash or Pixabay, with a little help from photoshop.
Here are the original photos that I selected and downloaded for free on Pixabay and the altered finished cover for THE DAWNSTONE TALE.
This first one is an image offered by Pixabay contributor Thisismyurl aka. Christopher Ross.
I liked the lonely, resolute quality of the model’s pose, the fact that she was barefoot (which Lylith always is) and the red hair.
Her shape and wavy hair reminded me of my original Lylith model, Tara Cardinal (seen here in one of her photo-shoots shown on Model Mayhem.)
The Tower of Sunrise had to be typical enough not to be recognizable as a specific place on Earth, but strange enough that it would fit the way I saw it in my mind. I chose an image by Pixabay graphic artist Mysticartdesign.
Dissecting this ruin picture for the pieces that I needed, I then turned to a colorful background that would help give a sense of Jorthus. I choose a rather popular shot of space (the Milky Way) that was available from Pexels on Pixabay. And flipped it!
After many hours (days) of fiddling with the pictures, I came up with:
For the second book in the series, I had a very Conan-style art cover for the first edition, but this time around I wanted to emphasize another of the central characters, Rachel, and keep the photo-e
sque look of the artwork. I came across a rather serene and striking photo on Unsplash by a contributor named Tomas Malik. It was simple yet seemed to say a lot about Rachel’s journey in this book.
The color of the lake really caught my eye. The lone figure, her bag beside her, and the cloud covered mountain all rang true to a feeling that I was relaying in Rachel’s arrival on Jorthus. So, I altered it!
In fact, if you look closely at the castle on the mountainside, you may recognize other parts of the ruins from Mysticartdesign. The planet looming in the sky, Jorthus’ sister-world of Quorrelles, was a pure product of photoshop.
The third book cover in the series, THE EXCURSION, is the result of my son’s photo safari in a construction zone near our house.
He even graciously posed for me with one of his many swords.
Again, I wanted to keep a single main figure as a brand or style for the covers.
Since this is a blog about the fabulous convenience of image sharing sites like Unsplash and Pixabay, I will mention that the silhouetted horses were plucked and altered from several images on Unsplash and are varied and vast.
Not that I couldn’t have used pictures of my own horses that I took in high school, but those would have entailed scanning and rotoscope on a large scale and I just didn’t have time or energy for that. So (again) after many days on photoshop, I had an image that I think not only relayed a feeling of the journey described in the story, but matched the look and feel of the other two.
In conclusion, I found the selection and quality of pictures available on Pixabay and Unsplash excellent and highly recommend checking them out! – R.L.
Dellani Oakes, a multi-talented woman, is the author of over a dozen award-winning novels. In addition to writing, she’s the host of a successful talk show, Books and Entertainment, where she often interviews authors, screenplay writers, and musicians. She is an author with Tirgearr Publishing company, and in addition to all of that, she’s a substitute teacher, all while managing to take care of her family. How she manages to keep up and handle it all is truly beyond me, but I couldn’t wait to find out more about her work.
Dellani started writing early in life, first pursuing poetry, but soon added song parodies, short stories, and humorous essays to her writing world. By 2002 Dellani started writing full time. In addition to multiple standalone novels, she has also contributed to several anthologies. I’m fortunate to call Dellani a friend, but everyone that knows her will tell you that…
Having just wrapped up a very long serial “short story”, I have a moment to step back and decide what to blog on next here at Cereal Authors. Usually the topics involve writing, reading, or the like; however, I have been wanting to touch on something for a long time: The support and respect of artists.
I’m not here to condemn or remonstrate anyone. But, many artists (writers are included in this as writing is an art) feel undervalued in society as a whole. I speak with many on a near daily basis and the general consensus is that the hours and effort we put into our work is not always valued the same as, say, a factory made item at a store. There is the common meme of the coffee cup price compared to an ebook price. Which one took longer and was harder to make? Let’s guess.
I mentioned a few weeks ago, with Free Zone, that I would be sharing something from Raven Willoughby: Origins – and here it is! I never thought I’d write a story with zombies, let alone vampires and weres. Not that I don’t like them, I just never felt the genre was for me. So, when this story came to me, I was surprised. As usual, however, I put my own twist on things, and deliver the unexpected.
Raven Willoughby is an unusual man. First, he was attacked by a werewolf, then he was bitten by a vampire. Through some twist of fate, he is now more, or less than, human. Finding that the town he’s in is being attacked each night by the walking dead, he decides that he must do something about it. With his superior stamina and reflexes, he is in a unique position to fight the undead.
The Drunken Faery Tavern was nearly empty; the few lamps that burned gave a secretive light to the place. The stale smell of ale filled Lylith’s mind with images of dark deeds and careless laughter. It was the kind of tavern she imagined would appear in the tales she read; the sort of stories that always initiated some unknown youth into the dark paths of crime, only to have him save his ladylove at the end.
Alone, she would have never stepped foot into this little pub, yet with Lord Dharromar Weiss on her arm, she felt untouchable. Her new acquaintance bore an intensity that made most harm-doers back down without a second thought. The worn, leather scabbard and intricately carved hilt of his blade, resting with ease on his hip, made those that did give them a second thought turn away as…
Translate: v. 1) To render into another language. 2) To interpret. 3) To move from one place to another without rotation.
Jorthus: n. 1) A system consisting of three sister planets orbiting an ancient white sun. 2) The first planet out from the sun, and largest of the three.
“Must find mate.”
Deep inside the principality of Caulder, in the northern foothills of the famed Gosen Range, was a town named Rocksfar. On the wooded outskirts of this small, insignificant town sat an isolated, stone tower — the home of a sengheir named Lylith Antinon. Her face was fair, her cheeks blushing with a youth that her years had not yet touched. The cluttered darkness of her room lit by a floating speck of light that reflected in the intense lavender of her gaze as she absorbed phrase after phrase in front of her.
“Mate,” came the irritating call again.
Lylith looked up from her book. It was the black crow perched on the top of her bookshelf who had spoken. Considering him with a brief sigh, the sengheir returned to the words on the brittle page. Noise from the disgruntled bird was not meant to disturb anyone else — and in truth, it could not — for Lylith was the last resident of the Antinon tower. (At least, the last human one.)
Her father, an honored magda, had been her teacher, her playmate, and her world. He had been proud of her skill and intelligence; helped her decipher the language of Soulspeak; guided her mind to the disciplines of the great Histories laid down by philosophers of millennia past. His legacy to her had not been all that he had acquired, but he left her with a few, simple spellsongs and knowledge of the majiks of Jorthus, in theory — if not in practice.
She had been satisfied with that, at first. Being an independent, quiet child, she had enjoyed being able to feed and clothe herself with the spellsongs, never having to step foot outside her tower. The day her father failed to return from his magda duties, she had worried and then wondered, but never grieved. Young Lylith had accepted this change with a complacency bred from years of caring for herself.
Yet, as she matured, living alone became too comfortable, too easy. She would spend months without ever leaving the same room; all of her time was spent reading. It was only when her attention was drawn to the fact that time was passing her, that she realized, deep down, a loneliness infected her.
So, she broke the weighted chain of melancholy by using the spellsongs in her father’s books to lend voice to the animals gathered in her tower.
Her life was then swarming with companions. Any animal that she called to her with the majiks, she would keep as a friend. However, at times, they were less than what she really desired as far as companions went.
“Must find a mate.” It squawked louder. “Mate. Mate. Mate.”
“I heard you the first time, Crow.” She was only slightly annoyed with the bird. He possessed the bothersome habit of always wanting to talk when she was doing something else. “Nothing is keeping you here. Go find yourself a ladylove, if you wish.”
She went back to her book of fae love tales, most of which were translated from faerlish by the flamboyant minds of human poets. Part of her wished her father had access to more pertinent tomes, such as the Histories of the Woodland Fae or the Journals of Dwarven Conquest. In the absence of these, she did feel a guilty satisfaction in the wild stories of romance once in the odd while.
It is spring again, she sighed to herself. The animals always wanted to go find partners in the spring, and they would annoy her until they did so.
“Spring? White Stars!” Lylith said to no one in particular. “Another year has gone by so quickly?”
She scarcely noticed the turning of the new year changing the drapery of nature outside her walls while she occupied herself with other things. It struck her in that instant that it had been four years since she had even stepped out her front door. Has anything changed, she wondered? Did the world look and smell the same as it had then?
She decided to see for herself.
“No windows,” the crow complained. “Can’t leave, no windows.”
“Don’t be silly, Crow,” she said lightly as she rose from her deep chair and glided to the window in her sitting room. Lylith swept open the wooden blinds. The sunlight streaming in nearly blinded her.
“How long has it been,” she gasped, putting one hand up to shield her eyes. “Since I opened this house to the outside world?”
The ebony bird flew across the room and landed on her shoulder.
“Many days, many nights.” It clucked quietly. “You hide. Hide in darkness, Human.”
“Crow, why don’t you call me Lylith?” She was hurt by the way he would insist on addressing her as “Human” in the springtime.
“You are Human to me. After I find a mate, you be Lylith again.” He winked at her from one brown eye, and seemed to smile. “Goodbye.”
Then he was gone, out the opened window to find his mate this year.
“Fickle bird.” She chuckled with her fists on her hips. Turning to the back of the room, she voiced a question to the dark corners. “Do you feel the same, Sythin?”
“Of cours-se not.” A soft, lisp from a coiled shape in one gloomy shadow replied. “As long as you give me mice to eat, you will always-s be Lylith to me.”
“I agree with the snake,” came a warm yawn from the chair where stretched a tabby cat.
“Well, I appreciate your loyalty, Nikkiki, even if it is based on me being a provider of food for you.”
Lylith sighed again and stared out from her tower’s height to the green meadows peeking up in the distance, beyond the thick forest of Arbin. A longing she had not felt in years began to ache. It was silent, deep and sank down to her very bones.
Something out there nagged at her as she watched the clouds sail slowly across the heavens. She stood in front of the window with the cool morning breeze whispering in her pale auburn hair and playing through the filmy matter that wrapped around her like a dress. Seeing her animals beginning their exodus to couple this spring, she realized this pang of need to experience life before it slipped by was stronger, more defined, than any she had felt before. The yearning to go out and do something. Something important.
But, what? She wondered.
As she stared into the distance in a trance-like state, she pinpointed an urge to go west. She had rarely gone very far from the tower. She had never gone west. Aside from sketches on parchment maps, she was ignorant of what lay in that direction.
The thrill of discovery blossomed in her spirit, a natural curiosity stirred, expanding until the excitement began to lift her off the floor and pull her through the air like a feather on the wind. She almost let it. Then her eyes fell to the forests again.
To see the lands of Jorthus, and all the wonders she had only read about, had plagued her mind of late. This was her chance. It was time to leave again — and this time she would do things differently.
ON THE BORDER OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF CAULDERA, Westlands, Myretrae.
The streets of any city are harsh to someone who has no one to care for him, and the cobblestone streets of Windermere are no exception. The alleys, particularly, could hold some vile creature that wished nothing better than to slit your throat, take your pouch of silver, and call it done for the day.
Despite this — or maybe because of it — Keinigan Laphae had managed to survive his life on the street, and blossom into a right stinking thief.
He was a young man with striking green eyes, boyish good looks, and a real aptitude for attracting trouble. Victims of his rather petty thefts were always able to point him out in the Windermere crowds. This was because he stood out among the humans, dwarves, and even the elves that lived there. He could not help this — being one of the Faerl Folk. Taller, brawnier cousins to the elves, they shared the smooth, ethereal features and pointed ears (yet, the Faerlins classified any race beyond theirs as lesser fae.) Keinigan had always tried to make his nonhuman charisma work to his advantage. It hardly ever succeeded.
Contemplating this rather annoying bit of fate, as the door to his jail cell clanged behind him, Keinigan looked around the small, dirty corner of the lockup with the resignation of a seasoned jailbird. Finding the cleanest patch of floor he could, he plopped down and rested his chin on his fist.
I’ll be out soon, he mused to himself. They cannot keep me in long for a minor pickpocket offense. They cannot.
Even so, a small doubt harassed the back of his head. What if the law has changed? What if they’ve started that heinous act of severing limbs for thievery, as was popular in the town of Silverwood? A chill went down his spine at the thought.
The laws and punishments of Windermere changed with the whim of the magistrate. If His Honor suddenly took offense to a certain activity, then the axe would fall in a different direction — as the saying went.
Some days, Keinigan was happy to be released with just a stiff fine. (Not that he ever had money enough to pay the fines.)
This afternoon, the nagging thought did not relent, and as the day wore on with no sign of the jailer telling him that his sentence had been set, Keinigan began to chew his nails. His mind ran over all the crimes he might have committed since his last incarceration. A few barroom brawls, disturbing the peace, or maybe a stolen broach or two, but nothing serious.
His thoughts were interrupted by a loud “Psst!”
Keinigan jumped and spun around to see a fellow prisoner leaning against the bars of the next cell. He decided not to speak unless the other spoke first; to do otherwise would give the man an advantage.
The prisoner was the same height as Keinigan, yet much broader because of his human blood. His complexion was ruddy, unshaven, and apparently, he had been in this jail for quite some time. The stench he carried was a telltale sign. Keinigan wrinkled his nose in disgust.
The human sneered at him. “What are ye in for, faerlin?”
The name of his noble race sounded like the lowest of insults falling from this human’s lips. Keinigan backed up a step. He had grown up with cutthroats and criminals, but he neither knew nor liked this fellow. A feeling of dread gripped his bowels.
“What’d be your interest?” he asked. His faerlin accent bestowed upon his voice a curling lilt.
The human laughed. “Just trying to make talk with ye. Nothin’ to worry yer pretty little head over with me behind these bars, is there?”
“No. I suppose not.” He still backed up another step though.
The action amused the greasy man even more. “We is all in this boat together, mate. No sense makin’ enemies. We may even end up bein’ on the scaffold together.”
This image did not calm Keinigan in the least.
“I’m not going to hang. I didn’t do anything.” His voice shook a little more than he would have liked. The strange man was having a terrible effect on him.
“Now come on, mate, ye’d have to have done somethin’ to get in here. What was it? Did ye tump an old lady for a few silver?”
Tumping: a slang term among thieves for bumping into someone in a crowded place, in order to access their purse or pouches. Sometimes the victims dropped the item, spilling its contents which the thief then proceeds to help them pick up, only hanging onto a few. The victims often thank the thief for the help and do not miss the money until they try counting it later. Keinigan was quite successful at tumping. Especially, tumping women, who usually looked bashfully into his face instead of at their money on the ground.
A gentle smile, a cunning wink, and then he would disappear into the crowd with their hearts and five or six silver pents. It was a low risk form of pick-pocketing, as any individual theft of less than ten silver pents was a minor offense in Windermere, and usually not worth the time and hassle of prosecuting.
That was not what had happened today however. Keinigan’s target had been a good deal bigger and a great deal richer. Unfortunately, for Keinigan, he was better armed, too.
Caught in the act by an enchanted purse that closed on his wrist, he could only plead with his victim that he had tripped and fallen into the gentleman. Of course, the sheriff’s men had not believed him to be innocent — so, now he was in a cramped, stinking cell talking to an unpleasant stranger who looked as if he wanted to eat Keinigan’s flesh for dinner.
“Actually, I slit a man’s throat for a thousand silver,” Keinigan proclaimed smugly. He decided to play it tough. One could never underestimate the power of a nasty reputation or a good lie.
The man looked at him, nodding. “Is that so? Not bad.”
“And, what of you, friend? What are you in for?”
The man smiled a greasy, sneering smile. “A pure misunderstanding. I didn’t know that it was illegal to kill faerlins for their ears here.” Then the man let out a laugh as greasy as his smile.
Keinigan wanted to throw up. Turning away, he pretended to be interested in the lock mechanism on his cell door. He tried to hide the fact that his hands were trembling, cursing himself for the weakness. Normally, the words would provoke a fight, but this whole day had unnerved him.
This man unnerved him.
He had no doubt those words were not just an idle insult. Keinigan got the definite impression that had they not both been behind bars, his pointed ears would even now be hanging on this man’s belt and bound for the black market.
The ears of the Fae were rumored to enhance certain potions. They caught a good price among the unscrupulous people who made their fortune on the slaughter of innocent faerlins and elves. Whole villages had been wiped out, with many areas on the brink of war over the issue. The humans outlawed the practice in order to placate the Faerlins — as is the common name for the Faerl Folk — but still the ears were sold in back alley trade markets, and this fact keeps the faerl rulers from a peaceful treaty between the two races.
Keinigan had never encountered an ear-hunter before. His instinct was to pummel this human, and his common sense told him to get as far from the man as possible. Since he was not in the mood to be judged for beating a fellow prisoner, he chose the latter.
As his eyes surveyed the lock, the idea of escape became a genuine possibility. It was a simple device; he had picked dozens like it.
Glancing around the cell, he found what he needed. On the slop bucket was a thin wire handle. How foolish of the guards to leave something like this around, he chuckled to himself. His mood was improving every second. He took his time straightening it and curving it just right to touch the lock tumblers. It diverted his attention from the irritation lounging on the bars of the next cell, glaring at him.
The guards had not entered the cellblock in hours. Not wanting to meet them in the hallway on the way out, he decided it would be better to wait until after the supper rounds were over. The problem with waiting was his tormentor, having witnessed his activity, would know exactly what he was attempting. Keinigan buried the wire in the corner of his cell and sat down silently to wait.
Several times his eyes strayed to the Ear-hunter. The short, dark hair plastered to his large skull with sweat, he stood quietly staring back at Keinigan. The sneer was still playing about his lips.
Finally, the door to the outer area opened. A guard entered with the bucket of grainy soup, which passed for food. The prisoners trapped further down the hall, all clamored to their doors with bowls thrust out. The guard shouted for silence as the prisoners wailed of their innocence and cried for either justice or food.
Keinigan sat still and silent. He stared at the shady man.
The man stood smiling. He stared back at the faerlin.
Mealtime came and went. They got their bowls filled with slimy grit. One sniff and both knew they would not be eating tonight. Neither spoke. The guard took no notice.
The noise died down as the guard left, and the sullen prisoners withdrew to their own private corners to eat their meal.
Keinigan slowly rose and dug up his makeshift lock pick. Quietly, he knelt and began working at the lock. One shout from another prisoner would bring the guards running; he worked as quickly as he dared. The pick was fragile, the man could blow his cover — anything could go wrong. Sweat beaded on Keinigan’s brow as he gently pushed the tumblers aside one by one.
His door was unlocked. Keinigan released a tiny sigh. He would save the heavier sigh for when he was safely out. He sat back down and waited.
The laws of the land may change with the wind, but one thing remained constant, the jail routine. Keinigan had been in this prison enough to know the schedule by heart.
After mealtime, the guards would make one pass through the cellblock to see if all the prisoners were quiet and accounted for; they would close the door at the end of the hall; put out the torch, leaving the area in darkness; then settle down to a nice game of cards and a bottle of wine — or three.
The next cell check would be in the mid-hour of the night. Keinigan would have seven hours to wait for the others to fall asleep and sneak out. He was reluctant to let the other prisoners see him, for it would be rude to escape and not help his fellow inmates. It would be best if they did not know. At least then, they could be honest when interrogated on his whereabouts. And, interrogated they would be. As much sympathy as he had for them, It can’t be helped, he sighed.
Hours slid by and the guards made their token appearance for the evening. The cellblock faded to silence as one by one the prisoners fell asleep.
All except for the human in the next cell. Keinigan was getting irritated. He hated this man. Valuable time was being squandered.
The Ear-hunter was sitting on his cell’s back wall, near a window in the hallway. The one window Keinigan would need for escape. He sat there plucking straws apart and staring at Keinigan. It was blatantly obvious the man was not intending to sleep.
Keinigan’s muscles ached from inactivity and anticipation. He wanted to shout at him to sleep, close his eyes, or even just look away for a moment so the escape could proceed. Minutes were slipping by, minutes that he would need to make a stealthy exit. He could not simply get up and run out, no matter how much he wanted to do just that.
Soon, it was more than he could endure. He chose to go ahead and leave, taking his chance.
Keinigan slowly rose. He slipped to the door and gently opened it. Little by little. The hinges threatened to squeak a few times and he stopped his pull. Breathing hesitantly, he began again. It was a painstaking procedure and required more patience than Keinigan felt he had to give. His heart was pounding in his ears, so much so he thought he heard someone coming into the hallway.
The space was finally big enough for his body to slip through without making any noise. His tread was light, careful not to disturb even the straws on the floor. Step by step, the window got closer.
A hand clamped over his wrist. His heart stopped, taking up lodgings in his throat. He looked down to see the hot, grimy hand slip off his arm and open palm up, as if waiting. Keinigan glanced to the human and that toothy grin, then to his own hand that still held the pick.
“You owe me,” was all the man mouthed.
It was true. He could have called in the guards at any moment. If Keinigan gave him the wire, they both could escape. If not, the man could snag him, keeping him smashed to the bars until the guards came.
Keinigan stared at the grime-coated face once more, which was one time too many for him.
“This is for the Faerlins,” he whispered. Wrenching the outstretched arm against the metal, Keinigan jabbed the wire into the ear-hunter’s flesh.
A scream exploded from the prisoner as Keinigan sprinted for the window. Two or three steps and he tore on the wooden latch. The window was just big enough for the fae to dive through, the pane swinging shut behind him.
Rolling to a stand, he looked around quickly. No one was in sight yet. One breath and he was speeding away towards the edge of town. There sat a tavern, just outside the boundaries of the local jurisdiction, called The Drunken Faery. It was a safehouse for thieves and would hide him well for a few days until he could figure out what to do. The trick would be passing the threshold with empty pockets. They would demand a fee. Nothing was ever done without a price, and he wondered where he was going to get that kind of money.
Sarcasm has been no doubt been in use since the dawn of humanity, with most languages have their own forms of sarcasm. Sarcasm is a form of humor, an ironic statement that can be considered either funny or rude depending on the delivery of the comment as well as the situation. Humor can be a powerful tool in the arsenal of a communicator because if used at the wrong time, you can make a terrible impression. This can be awful for the artist whose job it is, is to reach people with their work. Imagine not being able to reach someone on a personal level because that’s what it equates to when you can’t joke around with someone. There’s this barrier between the speaker and the listener and no matter what, it’s not easy to communicate with someone who can’t understand language on a basic level.
A very Merry Christmas to all our fans, followers and friends who have helped to make Cereal Authors a success! I also want to extend a big thank you to our members.
Rachel Rueben, author of YA novel Hag, posts the second of every month. She shares scenes from her books, writing tips and author information. Also, check out her web site Writing by the Seat of my Pants Rachel also is my co-host on both Red River Radio shows, as well as Karen Vaughan’s show.
Dellani Oakes, author of the Lone Wolf Series, The Ninja Tattoo, So Much It Hurts, One Night in Daytona Beach, Undiscovered, Under the Western Sky, and many more, came up with the idea for Cereal Authors. (Rachel Rueben made it fly – thank you, Rachel!) Dellani hosts Dellani’s Tea Time and What’s Write for Me second Monday and fourth Wednesday of every month on…
“Tori, honey? Could you come in here when you get a sec?”
My mom’s voice sounded strained and I had just walked in the door. What could it be so soon? The bittersweet smoke lingering in the air screamed to me of the presence of Derek, her cigarette-toting man-thing. By God, he had the worst taste in smokes.
I used to love the smell of my grandfather’s pipe, stuffed with the butt-ends of his cheap cigars, a sweet hickory scent that infused my grandparent’s log cabin with the trappings of comfort and acceptance. Not the same as Derek’s at all.
Clutching my backpack, I hurried to my room, briefly catching the sight of dark hair on curled toes peeking out of two Birkenstocks that had seen better days. Through the door to our living room, I could see his pajama clad legs as he…
High school locker rooms. Every kid’s favorite place. The arena to expose our physical flaws to our worst critics like exposing our jugular to a vampire.
I may not be the tallest girl in my class, but I’m gangling enough to pass as a teenage boy if I wanted. All shoulders and elbows. Stupid pseudo-ectomorph body type. My breasts popped out in seventh grade, but quickly gave up the fight against gravity. Now they are just two medium ski slopes dangling above a small paunch of “baby fat” that refuses to go away no matter how many sit-ups my coaches tell me to do. I don’t want a six-pack; I just want to be able to button my jeans without lying flat on my bed.
If having attention being called to my body’s disproportions during (not one, but two) gym classes each weekday and giggled about by my…
Jordan, Chase and Marissa are in Jordan’s basement when Brian arrives. It’s evident that there is tension between Chase and Marissa. In fact, Chase manages to hurt her feelings, making her cry. She runs out and Jordan goes to calm her, leaving the boys alone.
Brian punched him. It wasn’t a light, friendly punch that they sometimes exchanged. It was a hard fisted slam, knocking Chase’s breath from his lungs. Brian grabbed his shirt front, pulling him over. Less than an inch from his face, Brian growled at his friend. It was the most terrifying noise Chase had ever heard Brian make. It was base, primal, pure fury.
“Get over yourself, Chase,” Brian rumbled, his anger barely contained. The windows rattled, the floor shook. Curios on the shelves tipped over. “This is nothing, this stupid shit you’re dealing with. I don’t talk about everything that’s going on with me, but…
SARCASM IS A COMIC TOOL USED IN LITERATURE. MY BOOKS ARE FULL OF SARCASTIC BITING WITT —THIS IS A SKILL LAURA EMPLOYS REGULARLY WHEN DEALING WITH PEOPLE SHE DOESN’T LIKE –SPECIFICAL STELLA STADYLMEYER!
AS SEEN IN DEAD MEN DON’T SWING AND LEFT FOR DEAD STELLA IS A GREAT FOIL FOR LAURA.
FROM DEAD MEN DON’T SWING
“Ya know Stella, you’re usually an astute woman but right now you are down to two brain cells and they are limping. I am only going to say this once so listen closely! You can shove your eulogy! I don’t know the guy. The other tenants aren’t being forthcoming with details except for stuff I refuse to put in a tribute to the dead man. I also don’t have the time for this crap and it’s not my job.”
LEFT FOR DEAD–PETE IS DEALING WITH THUGS WANTING THEIR MONEY OR ELSE
I was asked by Dellani Oakes and Karen Vaughan to participate in a blog series about sarcasm and humor so I decided to find out what was considered funny in literature. This quest took me way back in time before Terry Pratchett and Mark Twain even before Shakespeare. I actually found one-liners from ancient Rome, and even further back to the Eyptians. Below I listed some of what you could call an evolution of humor throughout the ages. Most of these come from literature, while others are of unknown origins. One thing to keep in mind is that what people may have found funny in ancient times may have us scratching our heads today. Nonetheless one thing unites all cultures, people loved to laugh no matter the time or place. I really enjoyed researching this subject and hope you enjoy it as well. So without further ado..
“I do not see a stoneworker on an important errand or a goldsmith in a place to which he has been sent, but I have seen a coppersmith at his work at the door of his furnace. His fingers were like the claws of the crocodile, and he stank more than fish excrement.” –Satire of the Trades
Ancient Greece: Aristophanes’ Rant About Modern Poets:
“A disgrace to their art. If ever they are granted a chorus, what does their offering at the shrine of Tragedy amount to? One cock of the hind leg and they’ve pissed themselves dry. You never hear of them again.” –The Frogs
A man is taking care of his departed wife’s burial. Someone asks him: “Who is it that rests in peace here?” The man answers: “Me, now that I’m rid of her!” –Source Unknown
After his wife had beaten him badly, a man crawled under his family bed. “Come out this instant!” his wife screamed.
“I am man enough to do as I please!” he said. “And I’ll come out when I’m good and ready.” –Ming Dynasty Tales
CHIRON: Thou hast undone our mother. AARON: Villain, I have done thy mother.
–Titus Andronicus: Act 4, Scene 2
In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. –There is debate if Ben actually said this but it’s funny, so I included it.
To create man was a fine and original idea; but to add the sheep was a tautology (redundant). –St. Louis Post-Dispatch (30 May 1902); also in Mark Twain : A Life
You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think. –You Might As Well Live: The Life & Times Of Dorothy Parker
“In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” –The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe
“I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.” –The Lost Continent
“Just erotic. Nothing kinky. It’s the difference between using a feather and using a chicken.” —Eric
So what are your favorite one-liners from history, tell us in the comments section.
Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books. Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad. She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person. 😉
Author Stephanie Osborn is a bona fide rocket scientist, as well as an amazing author. She works so hard, I don’t know how she has time to write, but she does. When we first started batting around the idea of Cereal Authors, she was one of the first people I thought of.
Award-winning author Stephanie Osborn, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery, is a veteran of more than 20 years in civilian/military space programs, with graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is “fluent” in several more, including geology and anatomy. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to some 35 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the Cresperian Saga book series, and has written the critically acclaimed Displaced Detective Series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files,” and the award-winning, exciting Sherlock Holmes: Gentleman Aegis series. Her newest venture: Division One, her take on the urban legend of the mysterious people who make things…disappear. In addition to her writing, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery now happily “pays it forward,” teaching math and science through numerous media including radio, podcasting and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank.
Have you ever, over the years, lost your self in a certain piece (novel) to such a degree your family, friends, and even YOU, didn’t recognize yourself, and if so was it worth it?
I’m afraid I don’t really understand this question. Do you mean was I so absorbed in it that I lost track of the outside world? Sure; my husband learned early on to make plenty of noise coming into a room, else he was apt to have to peel me off the ceiling fan as soon as he said anything.
Or do you mean that I put myself into a novel? Because I put myself into ALL the characters I’ve ever written. I use a theatre technique called “becoming.” I find a facet of my personality, however small, that is appropriate to the character I’m writing (good guy, bad guy, it doesn’t matter), and that becomes the foundation for the character’s personality. Then I build on it, adding layers, until I have as nearly a fully-rounded character as I need for the situation.
Describe your Muse and the working relationship you share.
I don’t know that I really have a muse as such. Or if I do, it tends to be one or two of the main characters of whatever book I’m writing.
Or, What is the longest it has taken you to write a book?
It’s taken me as long as ten years to write a book. My first book, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281, is about a Space Shuttle disaster, and I was working the Space Shuttle program when I started writing it, and the same scenario (minus sabotage) actually wound up happening to shuttle Columbia (WITH a friend of mine aboard) before I could get it polished and published. All of that has a tendency to mess with your head, and I had to periodically stop and put the manuscript away while I got some emotional distance on things, before picking it up and resuming writing. On the other hand, it took me two months to turn out the first two books in the Displaced Detective series.
If you had to start your writing career over would you do anything differently?
Oh, my. That’s the classic, “If I only knew then what I know now…” but I didn’t, and I wouldn’t. There’s probably a few things I might have done differently, but I just don’t know. I did the best I could with what I had. I seldom “do” regrets like that. That way just lies discontent with what I have now.
What are your publishing goals? Meaning: Would you like to become a bestseller or just make a comfortable living at it?
Oh, I think, if we’re honest, we’d all love to become a bestseller. That said, I would be very happy making a comfortable living at it. I’m still working on that.
What does your favorite book say to you? What do you feel it might say to someone else? (could be either your own work or that of someone else)
Well, the first trick, for me, is picking A favorite book. I can’t even pick a favorite writer! But I think the books I tend to like, to read again and again, speak to me about potential: both of myself and of humanity as a whole. About where we are, and where we could go. About intellect, its power, and how it must be used for good. And how misusing it can result in some subtly horrifying results.
So the works of Arthur Conan Doyle (notably his Sherlock Holmes works), Ray Bradbury, Asimov, and Heinlein tend to make me sit up and take notice.
We’re doing something a bit different today. Instead of just one author, you’ve got FOUR! There’s a reason for this, so please bear with us but a moment and read on.
Sarcasmˈ/särˌkazəm/ Noun: The use of irony to mock or convey contempt. Synonyms: derision, mockery, ridicule, scorn, sneering, scoffing….
And the list goes on. It’s important to define this word, because not everyone knows what sarcasm is, but we all use it to one degree or another. I’m convinced my family would be unable to communicate without it. In fact, my youngest son was, without doubt, the most sarcastic five year old in his kindergarten class.
Sarcasm is a tool that, when used properly, can add interesting dimension to an author’s dialogue. Imagine your favorite characters on a TV show or in a movie, chances are, they’ve got a snarky side. These characters, and their lines, are memorable because they really spice up the chitchat. This witty repartee is fun to listen to, read and to write. I’ll be honest, I don’t think my characters could communicate without sarcasm, either.
I’ve been told I’m sarcastic. I shall neither confirm nor deny this allegation. Instead, I’d love to share some of my work with you and you can judge for yourself. Over the next few weeks, a few of my (supposedly) sarcastic friends are going to talk about using sarcasm in our work and in life. Rather than giving them a big introduction, I’ll let their work speak for them. If you’d like to find out more about these ladies, click the Guilty Parties link above.
Sit back, sip your favorite beverage, (I find that sarcasm is best with lemonade, but you be the judge) and be prepared for some dry humor, wise cracks and a tad bit of sarcasm. Just a little…not too much….
Someone wants movie producer Kent Griswald dead. Unfortunately, the first attempt is foiled by the fact that it’s not Kent on the beach, but his younger brother. In broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses, someone takes a pot shot at Connor. Detectives Weinstein and Scott are dispatched to investigate.
Detective Vanessa Weinstein came on the scene ten minutes after the shooting. Aggressive and competitive, she was an up and comer. She knew how to play the game and used her femininity to her advantage. Dressed in a black power suit and a very white shirt, she stood out clearly on the beach. Somehow, in some mysterious way that Walter Scott couldn’t explain, the woman didn’t sweat. Her black hair was sleek, unmoving in the wind off the ocean. Her skin was perfectly dry, not even a bead of sweat on her full lips.
“The rest of Daytona’s in hell in this late season heat wave and you stand there looking like the Sugar Plum Fairy,” Scott complained, wiping his face with a handkerchief.
“Don’t sweat in my crime scene,” she said in a bored tone. “What’s going on upstairs?”
“Got two perps, one actual shooter, one decoy. Second guy left his weapon. Your guy left a shell casing. Looks like both had the same kind of gun. No serial numbers on mine.”
“Why would they make it easy? You didn’t find my gun, huh?”
“Nope. But the shell’s a 5.56mm, so we’re figuring they both had identical weapons. MSSR.”
She nodded, taking a sip of hot coffee from an insulated mug. Scott slurped water from a rapidly warming bottle and wiped his brow on his fist.
“Jeez, can we at least get outta the sun? I’m gonna fry.”
“You should try getting a tan, Walt.”
“I’m Scottish and Scandinavian, Ness, I don’t tan. You could put me out here all day, I’d burn red as a beet.”
“They’re purple.” She moved into the shade of a cabana bar where they’d set up their command center.
My characters wield sarcasm like well-sharpened sword. Laura Hamilton Fitz uses sarcasm to deal with sticky situations when faced with bad-asses trying to kill her and annoying people she has no patience for. Many people will tell you she has an attitude but as a busy mom, CSI and corpse magnet extraordinaire. (see I used sarcasm there) Laura doesn’t have time for BS.
Stella is Laura’s nemesis (next to her mother of course) and knows how to push the girl’s buttons. I am surprised that Stella herself hasn’t made it to Laura’s hit list…. Anyway, in one scene from Dead Men Don’t Swing Laura puts Stella in her place after the pest gives her a hard time about doing a eulogy for a dead, and might I add, not well liked tenant.
I went down the hall to the laundry room. I couldn’t even fathom doing a load before checking the traps and washing out all the machines before using one. I was just putting my loads in when Stella flounced in. I gave her a look that said, “Don’t start lady.” She’s either dense or doesn’t care and got on my case about the eulogy.
“Ya know Stella, you’re usually an astute woman but right now you are down to two brain cells and they are limping. I am only going to say this once, so listen closely! You can shove your eulogy! I don’t know the guy. The other tenants aren’t being forthcoming with details except for stuff I refuse to put in a tribute to the dead man. I also don’t have the time for this crap and it’s not my job.”
Ruth Davis Hays – Translations from Jorthus Series
Tools of the trade Sarcasm can be a fun and useful tool. It can be brought up in different ways. It can be presented in the narrative to express a character’s particular view of the world:
High school locker rooms. Every kid’s favorite place. The arena to expose our physical flaws to our worst critics like exposing our jugular to a vampire. (Watchdogs, a young adult novella in progress)
Or it can be a personality trait displayed in speech:
“A snow storm in the desert? Nothing out of the ordinary here!” Keinigan tried to pry a laugh from his dour companions.
Yet, his question was taken in earnest by the good dravan scholar, who proceeded to educate him on climate aberrations and how a reoccurring anomaly marked over a span of documented time can be construed as an ordinary pattern.
Keinigan groaned and pulled his cloak down over his head to block the freezing winter winds. The amount of snowfall was indeed strange for this area, but he made a mental note not to attempt humor around Master Calbraum anymore. (The Illusion, a Jorthus novel in progress)
My favorite, from time to time, is to use it to quickly convey a relationship between characters:
Before Dharromar could open his mouth, Keinigan’s fist smashed into his jaw. When the stars cleared from his brain, he was blinking up at his attacker. “I get the feeling you’re not happy to see me,” the changeling groaned from the dirt.
“Actually, I’ve been waiting to do that for a long time.”
“Little bit. You?”
“Wonderful. Your concern for me is truly touching. Now if you really want to be a help, you could come down here and suck my bolls.”
“Maybe later. I’m too busy celebrating.” Keinigan shuffled around the tent randomly as he listened to the voices of Lylith and the magda councilors filtering through the fabric. “Didn’t you hear? The changeling has returned to save us! Hoorah! The darquone are already retreating just hearing you’re back. I feel folching fantastic!” (The Illusion)
When the bite of sarcasm is set in contrast to more sincere narrative or dialogue, it stands out to the reader and punctuates either the writer’s opinion of the character or the situation. I find it incredibly irresistible at times, but must remind myself to read it not as intended but as written, in order to find out if the words are successful. If the sarcasm does not come across, either I am not doing my job or I need to rethink my use of the tool.
Disheartened, Cassie began to make a quiet retreat when she turned around and saw a homeless man who put his hand over her mouth and dragged her towards an abandoned building behind the brownstones. Biting his hand, and elbowing him in the face, she managed to free herself from his grasp. Turning around, she kicked him right in the yam bag when the homeless guy yelled in agony, “Damn’ it Cass!”
Doing a double take, she looked closer at him only to realize it was Amato. “Jesus, John, what the hell you doing walkin’ up on me like that?”
“Tryin’ to get you out of trouble!” he said through gritted teeth. Doubled over, Amato took deep breaths trying not to vomit in the alley.
Blushing, Cassie tried not to laugh. She was tempted to apologize but that wasn’t happening. Besides, it was nice to know she could still handle herself even in her messed up condition. A few minutes passed before she asked, “Ya gonna be alright?”
He looked up at her bewildered, “No wonder we broke up.”
Shrugging her shoulders, she answered right back, “Not every man can handle a strong woman.”
“Not every man wants a ball buster.”
Straightening up, Amato signaled for her to follow him as he limped away. Not feeling all that great herself, was starting to feel a sharp pain in her head. She had forgotten to take her meds and was now paying the price for it. As the two of them hobbled away from danger, the sounds of the city permeated the air playing a soundtrack to this ridiculous love story. Sirens, barking dogs and Amato’s bitching rang loudly in Cassie ears as she wondered how the hell they were ever gonna make it through this?
Join us the 15th of every month when one (or more) of us will share snippets of our stories — focusing on sarcasm, of course! We will comb through our work and find the best bits for you. You have our promise on that! Would we lie to you? ~Dellani