I had a lot of self-serving nonsense to spew and I wrote a post about it and deleted the post and now I’m sitting at my keyboard wondering what to say.

I mean, there’s no excuse for how long everything is taking me right now. I keep falling into this cycle of self-loathing and misery and ego, and every time I rotate back to the top, it’s like I’m starting everything over again.

I have to beat this.

I don’t know how, but I have to win, because it’s in my way. It’s interfering with my personal life, and it’s interfering with my life’s work, which is to tell stories. I want to tell stories, and I want to tell them well, and that’s basically it.

I have to win. Back to square one.

Kaden the Dragon: A Guest Post by Maya Starling

Please welcome my new friend Maya, here to tell us about her beautiful dragon!

~*~

“She was the girl who longed for the freedom of the dragon, and he was the dragon who longed to be a man.”

 One of the main characters in book one of the Dragons Awaken Trilogy, Dragon’s Treasure, is, of course, a dragon. The whole idea for the book was born with him.

I feel sorry for dragons. They are mostly featured as evil creatures—monsters really—or as creatures the “chosen one” gets to ride, or even just as a bit part in a plain dragon-shifter romance. That, or I have been reading the wrong books. Mind you, there are excellent exceptions, but only a few in the whole sea of literature featuring dragons.

As a gamer and lover of all things geek and fantasy, it was a given that there would be a dragon featured in my story. Kaden’s appearance was inspired by the artwork of Ben Wotten’s Blue Dragon.

Kaden is a magnificent dragon, with dark blue, silky scales, and a golden underside. Dark charcoal horns and amber-colored eyes grace his body. He has a scar over his left eye, cutting through his brow.

I wanted to give my dragon a different kind of story. Why does the knight always have to save the maiden from the dragon? Why wouldn’t she prefer the dragon to the monster that is the knight? Why not switch roles, give a twist to that old trope and maybe sprinkle it with some Beauty and the Beast elements?

Those were the main questions that started Kaden’s story. And, don’t worry, the main question for the second book was: Why wouldn’t the maiden save herself?

I like playing with tropes and stereotypes, trying to write the “what if” and “why not” stories.

That is how Kaden was thought-born. Since I’m a pantser when it comes to writing, I let Kaden tell me his history throughout both books.

Once a human, Kaden was cursed to be a dragon with a penchant to permanently borrow and hoard other’s possessions. In his cave, you can find anything from gold and jewelry to crates filled with pants, half torn wagons, and even a chimney.

He once “borrowed” a horse, but it didn’t turn out well, as much as he enjoyed finally having some company. He wasn’t cruel of heart, so he let the horse escape.

He learned not to “borrow” stuff from old women—nay, hags! They are tenacious and will beat you with a cane for your attempt, no matter how big and deadly you are.

Being a dragon wasn’t all about the drawbacks. He saved a young girl’s life once from a fire. Lucky for him, fire does him no harm.

And he would never tire of flying. It was exhilarating. He will never forget when he first spread his wings and took flight, as awkward as it was—and drunken-looking. The view, the freedom… the vastness of the sky above and the earth below… the experience entranced him.

But, as the years passed, he tired of the loneliness. He missed the human connection, affection, and even touch. The rare encounters with humans ended up with Kaden defending his life against wanderlusting adventurers and trying to save their lives, too. He had to take some, though. And their spilt blood will forever lay heavy on his soul.

Depressed and weary, he secluded himself on a mountain, in a dreary cave, away from the people, and away from life.

Until, one day, a young woman chased by wolves stumbled into his cave.

She was the one to turn his destiny around. She was the one to bring light to his darkness, and she was the one that brought him the salvation of death and rebirth.

~*~

Follow Maya at these links, or purchase her books:

http://www.mayastarling.com * Twitter * Facebook

Dragon’s Treasure (book 1)

https://books.pronoun.com/dragons-treasure/

Dragon’s Prize (book 2)

https://books.pronoun.com/dragons-prize/

Snippet Sunday #19

I’m so close to finishing a beta draft of The Witch under Mountain. So close (if my own head would stop getting in the way). Here is a bit of it.

In a lot of ways this is Fox’s book. Hopefully, you’ll see why when you read it.

~*~

He turned his eyes across the cavern, where trolls stoked a great hearth-fire. One of them, clad in a burnt, greasy-looking apron, sharpened a series of wicked knives. Panic tightened its iron bands around Fox’s chest. He leapt to his feet and clutched at the side of the pen; he’d chosen the closest to Eagle last night, and had to listen to Eagle sob, but it was worth it. “Vo!” he called, clinging to the bars.

Eagle’s head went up, and he unfolded so quickly Fox had trouble tracking the motion. In half a blink he was at the bars too, with a couple of fairies trailing him; he didn’t say a word, only stood there looking at Fox as if from the bottom of the sea, faraway and longing.

Fox took him in. Lacy white sleeves spilled from an outsize velvet doublet. Silk stockings sagged into puddles around his ankles, above the tops of huge buckled shoes. His thighs were too slender for the pantaloons, and instead of puffing up as they ought to, they hung around his knees. The whole effect was dreadfully unbecoming—outright laughable, if it weren’t for the situation—as if the thinnest little chick were given clothes meant for a fat capon.

He ordinarily looked far different: unobtrusive, unassuming. His usual clothes were meant not to catch on anything, but not to foul his movements either, tough enough to hold up and fit well enough to accommodate intense activity. Under Fox’s regard he tried anxiously to smooth what he wore, but he couldn’t make it look well, or himself appear to advantage.

How little it mattered! Fox’s mouth curved in an involuntary smile. Most people wouldn’t have tried to apply an adjective like “sweet” to Eagle Eye, but with Fox he was sweet as the strawberry preserves on a breakfast buffet. He tried valiantly to smile back, but it didn’t quite come off.

Snippet Sunday #14

For Snippet Sunday this week, a little piece of an untitled work in progress (yes, I know, I have a million). This one’s about Kirsten Kalt, and it ought to go in a Tales from the Knights collection, if I can get my act together.

~*~

The familiar kid-again smell of the barn enveloped Kirsten as soon as she stepped inside. It was much warmer in here; the bodies of the reindeer made it a pleasant place to be in winter, even if it cooled off quick after they left. She yanked her mittens off with her teeth and put back her hood, never mind the flyaway hair it gave her.

It was quiet here, at least for now, and she stuffed her mittens into her pockets and blew out a sigh. She’d forgotten the bad parts of home in the middle of the missing it, just like always.

The house was even more crowded than she’d remembered, which only made sense. All the brothers and their wives and children, plus a couple of the sisters and their husbands and children, in to visit blasphemous little Kirsten… yeah, it made sense. Besides all them, there was Mama, with a woolen blanket around her shoulders, taking up three times the space an old lady ought to.

She finger-combed her hair, which never helped matters really, just made it crackle and zap, and leaned back against the door. There was somebody in here—she could tell because a lantern burned on a stall divider’s hook, and not even the tiniest Kalt would’ve left it. Ivar’s kids especially. Shit, she couldn’t even count how many he was up to. There were little ones and middle ones and older ones, even a baby. His wife must be exhausted. Kirsten could only be glad her skills hadn’t been called upon to deliver another screaming red thing.

Yet.

She sucked in another draught of the ordinary-life scent: sweet hay and dry oats, straw and shit, reindeer milk fermenting, richly sour, in the shed attached to the barn. Whoever was in with her, she couldn’t see, but now that she relaxed, she heard the rhythmic shuff-shuff of a currycomb. One of the hundredth generation (most likely) of barn cats chased a mouse, scuttling and scuffling.

Snippet Sunday #12

A little piece of Hard Time this week. 🙂

Kessa and Lukas discuss reading material. There’s a little worldbuilding in here, too. It was extremely amusing to write.

~*~

Kessa scowled down at the old paper book Lukas was making her read for practice. They used to be able to copy things by magic, he’d said, and the result, if you didn’t have a copy of a copy of a copy, was nice, uniform writing. Once you got three or four generations down the line, it started to go all wonky, he’d told her, and six was unreadable.

The book annoyed her. It wasn’t that she couldn’t make out the text. That got easier every week. It was the content that set her teeth on edge. Magister Ferocious! Who cared about some dumb old guy who couldn’t do magic, and had stupid brainless girlfriends to make himself look smarter?

“Why’d you want me to read this anyways?” she demanded, as he shoved the broom under benches and table, trying to sweep up all the food the Ishlings dropped.

“I don’t know. I thought it’d be something a little different from those boring textbooks Vandis keeps making you read.” He straightened, shrugged, and leaned on the broom. “I sort of liked it.”

“You would,” she said darkly.

“What didn’t you like about it?”

“The girl.”

“Well,” he said, “I guess she wasn’t as smart as you are.”

Kessa rested her chin on one hand and let the book fall to the tabletop. “Something with a halfway intelligent woman next time, okay?”

“Tall order.” He grimaced. “At least sometimes.”

“Somebody should write one.”

“They don’t do these anymore.” Lukas tapped the book she’d dropped. “Can you imagine copying this by hand? A million times or whatever it sold? You’d have it memorized.”

“No fucking thank you.”

“Exactly.” He laughed, shaking his head, and returned to sweeping. “What used to pass for cheap entertainment! Go figure magic.”

“Are you messing with me?”

Lukas held up thumb and finger with the fraction of an inch between, and grinned at her. “I never said it was great literature.”