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March 4, 2013 – The Legend of Jerrod (Prologue)

From the Prologue, at the end of the Bards’ Festival the bard of bards is asked by the bard brethren to perform The Legend of Jerrod

Reginald no longer competed in the festival. He didn’t have to. He was unanimously revered throughout the kingdom as the best of the best. The brethren’s Master. There was not a peasant or nobleman who did not know of him. Just his physical presence quieted any gathering; without saying a word or strumming a note on his mandolin everyone would stop what they were doing.

Each night, as dusk set on the festival, the private festivities of the bards’ brethren roared into excitement. Their mandolins and lap harps lay close by while they drank and listened to each other’s songs in the Minstrel’s Inn. They sang captivating ballads of love, romance and valor. The older songs recounted magical adventures from when the kingdom was young. It was considered a great complement when the brethren joined in to sing with a performer, but the truly remarkable songs quieted the crowd like a prophet quiets the turmoil of the masses.

On the last night of the festival there was not an empty wooden stool or open bench seat in the Minstrel’s Inn. Many of the musical patrons stood around listening to the songs as each, novice and journeyman alike, took a turn spinning tales to the crowd from the center of the inn’s wooden floor.

The men were dressed in colorful cotton shirts under tight fitting leather vests or jerkins. Their knee high boots covered tight fitting pants. Their assorted caps had long feathers sticking out or drooping behind their backs, most of which were ostrich or pheasant, but occasionally a peacock feather could be seen among the crowd. The rare female bard wore a bodice or waist cincher rather than a vest; skirts were never worn. Traditionally, the bards had been warriors. Proud of their heritage, they all wore pants, but the female bards might wear ankle high boots in place of the more traditional knee high leather boots designed to protect the lower leg while riding or fighting. Following tradition all of the bards continued to wear long swords or daggers, if not both, which hung from their wide leather belts despite the fact that their lives had become much more civilized. The time for gallantry was gone, dissipated into the air like the smoke from a candle that has burned down to its base.

Reginald’s age showed even in the twilight of the evening sky. His thin white hair was pulled back into a ponytail. He hunch a little while he walked, taking very small steps toward the inn where he struggled to step from the street through the doorway into the dark room beyond. A large fireplace, lanterns, and candles spread around the room lit the crowded hall to an acceptable level, but even in the dim light the patrons could see Reginald’s hands trembling as he walked.

The brethren fell silent at the sight of him entering their preferred inn. The crowd of minstrels parted as the subjects of a beloved legendary king did so long ago. Quietly Reginald moved to the center of the room where Lawrence, Reginald’s prize student, grabbed a stool that had been quickly vacated. The anticipation was like that of children who watched a baker take their favorite treat out of the oven; the brethren knew how exquisite the pending experience would be. For most, hearing a song sung by Reginald happened but once a year.

Lawrence was a young man, tall with a square jaw and dark hair. It was rumored that he was the son of a nobleman. He wore the purple cavalier cape reserved for noblemen which seemed to substantiate the rumor, but no one knew where his family lived or what nobility they might or might not be. Under the purple cape Lawrence wore a white cotton shirt with bellowed sleeves, tight black pants, and the traditional high leather boots. The end of his rapier seemed to dance beneath his cape as he assisted his master to the vacated stool. Although he had a commanding presence, Lawrence was gentler with Reginald than his appearance would suggest. His admiration for the old master was apparent with each move he made.

A thin and hurried apprentice, James, accompanied them. James’ long dirty blond hair fell to his shoulders in loose, natural curls, obscuring his slightly deformed face. He rushed around nervously trying to predict what would be needed next, paying little attention to his own needs. His clothes, though untarnished, were more common. His boots were unpolished. He wore a common heavy dark winter jacket to stay warm. He was altogether unremarkable and was easily overlooked in a crowd. However, the inquisitive observer would quickly realize that every step he took, every movement he made, was dedicated to Reginald’s comfort.

Lawrence helped his teacher remove the heavy coat that provided protection from the cold night air. Reginald wore a leather tunic over a gray wool shirt. The unbuttoned collar of a cotton undershirt worn to add more warmth could be seen underneath. As Reginald removed his feathered floppy hat with his trembling right hand, the oval tiger’s eye in the ring on his little finger glistened in the light. The golden ring was formed as the body of a dragon cradling the gem. The dragon’s tail formed the band of the ring which wrapped around his finger. The crowd wondered how the old master with his trembling hands and apparently frail strength could even play a single note as they watched Reginald reach for his mandolin.

The back of the beautiful instrument, which was made of dark brownish-red wood, curved like half of a watermelon. In contrast, the wooden front was pale, almost white, with a delicate inlaid silver design that glistened in the dim light of the tavern. The short neck extending from the mandolin was made of even dark, nearly black wood that accented the instrument’s ornate silver fret bars and keys. It was breathtaking.

Reginald hunched over the instrument, unable to sit up straight on the stool. His eyes seemed to strain as he peered into the crowd. Surely he couldn’t sing?

“My lord,” a somber voice respectfully began, “The Legend of Jerrod, if it pleases you?”

February 24, 2013 – Torrence

The coastal valley inland from the Coast of Semanie (map on page 350 of TLOJ) is an agricultural area with rich soil and moderate climate. Villages sustain their needs and share some produce with nearby villages. Wines and mead are shipped in barrels to the cities of Semanie Point and to Torrence.

The inner range of mountain-hills to the north of the valley are higher than the coastal hills to the south, but fail in contrast to the mountain ranges Jerrod and his friends must cross in The Legend of Jerrod (listed on page 351 of TLOJ). The range consists of bluffs and small mountains with rocky knolls. Near the eastern end where the two ranges come together is a granite dome that overlooks the Plains of Demeter, which the Elves call Hesperis. This exfoliation dome, formed by crystallized magma that is pushed to the surface, will play a role in Amanda’s Quest, book two of the series.

The eastern end of the coastal range is the beginning the realm of the Highlanders (yes, with kilts and bag pipes… I had to do it). The Highlanders are ruled by a kingdom further east in the lowlands. There is some tension between the Highlanders and the ruling king, but the Highlanders feel an obligation to the kingdom.

The kingdom’s castle is built where a long river meets the Semanie Sea. Torrence, which has been lulled to sleep with decades of peaceful existence, and that kingdom hope to solidify an alliance through a marriage between their children, but dark days lay ahead and the queen of the witches, who has tried to manipulate Jerrod, is not altogether innocent.

February 24, 2013 – Nevada Reading Week Conference Review

The Nevada Reading Week Conference was fantastic. I meet teachers, librarians, and fellow authors. The Legend of Jerrod will be in several northern Nevada libraries this week. I want to make a special thanks to the authors I met.

Rosalie A. Pope, author of Puppies for Sale: $25.00, was an inspiration. She shared with me her knowledge of the post-publishing world. What a wonderful author. I cannot wait to read her award winning combination of dog stories.

Ryan Shea, author of The Adventures of BOB, and his wife Lisa Shea were very inviting, which really welcomed me into the event. It was fun to see kids drawn to his highly colorful book; they just lit up when they picked up the book, smiling with big, toothy smiles. You can meet Ryan and Lisa on March 16th at GJ Rhodes in Reno, Nevada, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.

Jennifer and Hans Hartvickson, authors and illustrators of Mister Lemur, were full of vibrant energy, excited about writing for kids. My wife saw them speak. She was very impressed with Jennifer’s enthusiasm. I had separately introduced myself to Hans. He took the time to explain how they used patterns and repetition to reach young readers. Hans was so sincere in his interest to teach kids. It was a pleasure to meet him. They are travelling to attend events across the country; if you get a chance go listen to them.

Mark Fink, award winning author of Stepping Up and The Summer I Got a Life, was a pleasure to talk with. Mark writes about his experiences playing basketball and the impact to growing into adulthood.

I would like to make a special thanks to Ellen Fockler who managed the conference and invited me to attend. It was a remarkable experience and everything seemed to go so smoothly. With that, the support from the staff at North Valleys High School and the Reading Week Project Volunteers was great. Thanks to all.

February 21, 2013 – My Week and Book II

I am sorry it has been so long since I wrote the last blog. There has been a lot happening so I am going to catch you up in sections.

News: I delivered a copy of Kingdom of Torrence, The Legend of Jerrod to the Truckee Meadows Community College library today. It was there that the first English teacher to encourage me pulled me aside to tell me I had writing talent. I wanted to give something back so I made a gift of my book to their library. I wish there was more to give but, for now, it’s a start.

Although the feedback is trickling in slowly it’s positive. The readers that have contacted me are enjoying the story. There are two reader reviews available on Amazon Kindle. One calls the book “Awesome”; the other state “A Fun Book to Get Lost In”. What wonderful things for an author to hear! Now, I want to her about your experience.

Remember to catch me on:

Facebook /kingdom.torrence
Twitter @kingdomtorrence

Event: I will be attending the Nevada Reading Week Project at North Valleys High School tomorrow. I get to meet school librarians and teachers. There will be other authors. Sounds like a great opportunity to meet people. My first event!

Book Status: The Legend of Jerrod is out and on sale at FriesenPress.com (all formats), Amazon, Amazon Kindle, and Barns & Noble on-line. Marketing/promotions will be starting up within the next month. I sent out personal text and emails announcing the release. Thank you to those that responded.

Amanda’s Quest has 135 pages of notes. Amanda has continued on without her friends who face their own problems. The storyline builds upon the issues developed in the first book, but should read easily enough if that is the first book you pick up. More dragons, more wizards, more witches, more druids, and a lot more fighting…

Book Background: The inland valley in which Winfred was built stretches parallel to the coast separated to the south by a range of coastal hills. The valley is full of rich soil, covered by long green grass and deciduous trees. Generally, the valley is the home of farmers and villagers living peaceful lives. To the north is a range of bluffs and larger hills with a keep built on a low pass.

At the far end of the valley, where the two ranges meet, is the beginning of the next kingdom. Far to the east, on the highest hills, is an area know as the Highlands. But that, as they say, is another story…

February 10, 2013 – Torrence

I woke in a blanket of bright morning sunlight defused across the bed. The story of Jerrod and Amanda travelling to Winfred was nagging at me; get up, write! My creative soul demands I continue drafting the next part of the story.

After fleeing south out of the kingdom along the Coast of Nasdrawuen, where Odin is worshipped by gruff, bearded men, Jerrod and Amanda return to Torrence. Conflicted by the events of their past their lives ares further marked with tragedy. But, before they travel to Winfred where Jerrod’s story began they must first survive The Legend of Jerrod.

Jerrod comes from a loving family and a friendly village. Village life is pleasant. The villagers like the miller and his family and, although the miller is not in a prestigious position, grinding the farmers’ wheat into flour for the baker is important to the community. But it is not the life Jerrod wants.

Winfred is in valley between the coast range of foothills and an inner range of higher hills and bluffs. There are several rocky knolls along the inner range that look over the Plains of Demeter. But the valley’s rich soil is covered with forests and farmland.

The village has several homes and stores. A coblers, a merchant, a butcher, and baker all have shops built of river rock. In the center of the village an open space covered with grass provides the villagers space for festivals and town meetings. The opening also serves as an open market each morning where the available farm goods are sold each morning. Around the grassy space are several terraces covered by vines that provide shading during the hot, summer days.

Almost as many families live around the village on small farms as there are families in the village. The farmers plow their fields with horse and plow. They weed with wooden hoe or on their knees as they pull the weeds from the dark soil. Grains, like wheat and barely, and vegetables, like corn and potatoes are sold to the miller and villagers. They also grow grapes which are pressed into wine. The farmers have their own dairy cow, but milk is taken to the villages to be sold in the market.

It is a happy, healthy life full of love and satisfaction, picturesque in a quiet, romantic way. Their lives include hard work that is completed at an easy pace. But Jerrod sees complacency. His burning desire to exceed the expectation of being a miller tears at his young heart. His goals, his desires, set by his dreams of wealth and honor must be acquired at the tip of a sword. It is for these aspirations that Jerrod sets out for Torrence.

Read of Jerrod’s adventures in the Kingdom of Torrence, The Legend of Jerrod. While you read I will be writing more of Amanda’s Quest.

February 2, 2013 – Introduction

Good morning. This is the first blog for the Kingdom of Torrence website. Perhaps I should introduce myself. I am DM Stoddard, author of The Legend of Jerrod which is the first book in the Kingdom of Torrence series. The second book, Amanda’s Quest, is already being “put to paper”. I hope to have the second book out by the spring of 2014. I intend to write at least three books, but we will see how much you enjoy the first two…

My wife and I have three children; oh, and three dogs, and three cats, and three horses… See a pattern? My daytime job is working for the State of Nevada. My wife works for our school district. Like everyone else we seem to get by, but, most importantly, we are happy.

I enjoy telling stories that readers enjoy reading; it is not just writing for the sake of writing. If you have read the “about the author” section of my book you know this is an extension from when I told my children bedtime stories. I guess it is a personal desire to bring people some happiness. I enjoy fantasy books, so here we are at the Kingdom of Torrence series.

Wow, The Legend of Jerrod. It was released January 24 in e-book format. The hardback and paperback versions became available for sale on January 31st. It is currently on the Friesen Press’s best seller list.

I won’t repeat the description available on the back page of the book. Instead I would like to give you some additional insight to the book, its characters, etc.(but hopefully not too much – I hate it when someone give so much information that it detracts from the suspense, storyline, etc. Spoilers, yuck!).

In their race to find a secret treasure, Jerrod and his friends fight a number of beasts. They are pursued across the kingdom by mercenaries as they cross kingdoms on their way to Terrace Xul. The book is not just about the fantasy battles, but includes the events of their travels, such as sailing and mountain climbing. Of course, being a fantasy, there are Elves and dragons.

I was recently told by one reader that he could visualize the fighting scenes from the descriptions in the book. Another reader told me they did not want to put the book down, but had to get some sleep because they had to work the next morning. I hope you have a similar reaction.

As my reader I have two questions for you. First, I would love to hear who your favorite character is and why? Second, what would you like to see in this blog?

I look forward to hearing from you. Please comment below.