March 29, 2013 – This Week

Wow, I have really felt the urge to write I mid-week post. I love it when I “have to” write. So, here I sit putting “pen to paper”. I wanted to write when I got home last night, but, as discussed on Twitter this week, it is 3:00 am and here I sit…

First, I created a book give-away on this week. I am giving away 5 books in the United States at the end of April. I hope to give more away for Canada and Europe in the following month or two so please, stay tuned.

I have really been living the life of an author this week…. very chaotic. With that chaos goes a rise and fall in the interests of my book, The Legend of Jerrod, which is the first book in the Kingdom of Torrence series. An author’s emotions flow with the ebbing interests.

Most of the authors I have spoken with write for one reason; they love to write. It is stark realization to find that at the end of the book there is a business side that must be managed. Just to prepare a book for publishing there are editors and publishers that you must coordinate changes between. It is much easier to write the manuscript than to review it. But when it is all done and the publisher has the book for print you breath a sigh of relief thinking, “it’s done!”

I write because I enjoy creating a story that readers might enjoy. But writing has an unexpected consequence. The cost of “writing” may not be much. To make the storyline of the book available so that readers can enjoy it you have to deal with the cost of (self) publishing. It would be great if every author could be picked up by a publisher who wanted to pay for the publishing (we will leave the pros and cons of traditional publishing for another time). So, to share your writing you must publish and to publish you must promote and market your writing. A circle.

It is not that promoting and marketing are bad; they are just time consuming, but this week I have met some marvelous people on Twitter, Facebook, print media (i.e. magazines), and other associations. They have touched my heart and I, I hope, have touched theirs. We have shared emotions of life, memories, and inspirations of various kinds. Some really great quotes came out…

Carmen DeSousa (Twitter @Author_Carmen) quoted Robert Frost, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

Carla Martinez posted an inspirational image on Facebook. “Don’t carry your mistakes around with you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones to rise above them.”

“Measure your success in your child’s reflection, not your money and toys.” D.M. Stoddard (Facebook @kingdom.torrence)

As it nears 4:00 am I will go back to bed. I hope to post some background or excerpts from The Legend of Jerrod this weekend. I need to write some more on book two, Amanda’s Quest. I am working on her reaction to Jerrod’s…

Ops, no spoilers!

March 24, 2013 – Great Beginnings

This week I spoke with photographer Cathleen Tarawhiti (@CTarawhiti) about the creation of book covers and discussed the chaotic life of authors on Facebook. I finished reading Puppies for Sale: $25.00, by Rosalie A. Pope, and Brief Visits – Sonnets from a Volunteer Chaplain, by Susan Palwick, both quick reads. Finally, I bought The Hobbit DVD by J.R.R. Tolkien, directed by Peter Jackson. With all this, I formed a question for myself; what is the greatest beginning for a book?

Above all else it has to be…

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat; it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

Doesn’t that just make you want to curl up in a comforter and read forever? With that beautiful begining J.R.R. Tolkien compelled me to miss many college courses and nearly a semester of my life, but, in exchange, I became committed to fantasy.

Yet, there are other beginnings that somehow grasp a reader. How simple they may be while providing such profound impact…

“Call me Ishmael.”

How simple! How marvelous! You have to want to know what the book is about! It is not my genre, but you have to appreciate Herman Melville’s beginning.

And in The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare begins…

“Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”

What wonderful beginnings.

March 16, 2013 – Nathanial, Rok-lin, & Rhonda

“Dragons and scales” is Nathanial’s favorite phrase when he stressed or angered, but Rok-lin never takes offense.

Their symbiotic relationship is strong; no one else can communicate with the young dragon. She had left the Isle of Dragons with Nathanial just before they left to seek the treasure in Terrace Xul. He was her only friend. Rok-lin had only known his thoughts until she met Rhonda, the druid princess from Lithlillia.

The half-Elvin princess can communicate with all of nature’s life. The birds, the trees, the plants, and the animals that wonder the forest all communicate with her to varying degrees. But Rhonda can communicate with Rok-lin. And Rok-lyn is starting to dislike it.

Rhonda is completely aware of the forest and her surroundings. It is almost impossible to surprise her while she is surrounded by nature, let alone the fact that she is half-Elvin, but underground?

While wizards must rest after their more powerful spells, druid magic has a different source; the power of nature is channeled through them. But one of the most basic rules…

Never anger a druid in the forest!

March 10, 2013 – Terrace Xul

Terrace Xul
By D.M. Stoddard

Above the Fjords the Mountain Kings now rest,
Their cold bare halls have failed to pass time’s test,
Their lives were rich, their wealth gold and jewel,
When Kings sat on the thrones in Terrace Xul.

In the mountains overlooking the Fjords,
Where deep blue waters flow unto the sea,
Your great terrace still stands before your gate,
Your view like eagles watching from the sky,
Between the white marble pillars proceed,
Your golden doors stand wide for all to pass,
In polished halls of Terrace Xul you sleep,
Cold welcome now waits at your quiet gate.

Your halls and throne surpassed all riches’ lore,
Hospitable greetings the Kings afford,
Trav’ler and friends, their tables once adorn,
Great feasts for all, the Lords would not suppress,
With might, their safe and warm stone halls were kept,
When your gold ran from mouth of mountain’s realm,
Your rich rewards given to heroes bold,
Who visits your lost halls of Terrace Xul.

Above the Fjords the Mountain Kings now rest,
Their cold bare halls have failed to pass time’s test,
Their lives were rich, their wealth gold and jewel,
When Kings sat on the thrones in Terrace Xul.

Great kings of old where have you gone to rest
Your halls are bare and cold, your days are told,
The wind blows through your halls like dying breath,
Memories sing what no one else can hear,
When footstep walks within your lonely halls,
The race of man hast fled from your kingdom,
As though the stars quit shinning in the night,
Forgotten are the Kings of Terrace Xul.

The Kings’ luster is gone from Terrace Xul,
Their treasure sacked, their throne has tumbled down,
Their crypt raided, their sleep of death disturbed,
The mountain groans so all who enter hear,
When searching in your hallowed halls for gold,
Daring to seek what Kings have left behind,
To find riches of which legends have rhymed,
Spent long ago, treasure of Mountain Kings.

Above the Fjords the Mountain Kings now rest,
Their cold bare halls have failed to pass time’s test,
Their lives were rich, their wealth gold and jewel,
When Kings sat on the thrones in Terrace Xul.

From The Legend of Jerrod, page 151

March 9, 2013 – Excerpts

What would a hero be without a sword? Jerrod leaves his home near Winfred with a bow and dagger to seek fame and fortune. On the road to Torrence he takes a day to explore a rocky bluff….

(Starting at Page 17) On his return he found a path below the bluff that appeared to offer a quicker route back to camp. It seemed more direct, leading down into the forest rather than skirting the base of the bluff as he had done in the morning. Following the path back towards his camp he found half way down the hill a large tree blocked the original path causing it to split. A newer more travelled path turned upward back toward the bluff and circled around the fallen tree. A far less traveled path, which was much narrower and overgrown, turned downward along the trunk of the massive tree and through the middle where a large, gapping whole separated the trunk into two parts. Jerrod paused.

At first he thought he would go up around the tree on the more established path, but something pulled at him to go downward along the tree trunk. It tugged at his consciousness as if he had little will to do anything but follow the obscure path.

The trunk of the tree was over three feet thick. The edges of the gap in the middle of the tree were jagged and burned as though, long ago, the trunk had exploded then burned. As Jerrod stepped through a whitish object at his feet caught the corner of his eye. He stepped back in surprise. With his back to the tree he looked around. His heart was pounding. Partially covered by the underbrush was the skeletal body of an ancient warrior.

The skeleton was bleached white with age. Only a few scraps of material, which had faded to gray, remained of the knight’s clothing. A large branch of the tree pierced through the skeletal rib cage where his heart had been. In the outstretched hand of the skeleton was a long, thin, dirt encrusted object. Jerrod leaned forward.

“A sword!” he silently exclaimed.

The dirt-encrusted sword was about four feet long with a ten-inch long handle that was crowned with a spherical knob that resembled a three-inch round dirt clod. Encased in dirt the sword did not seem to be much better than a wooden sword he and his friends had crafted for their boyish battles, but at least it was metal.

Jerrod looked around as though he expected to find someone watching him. Slowly, he reached down over the knight’s bones to lift the sword from his skeletal hand. When Jerrod’s fingers touched the sword a shiver ran up his arm and through his body. As he lifted it out of the skeleton’s clinched bony fingers, he peered into the skull’s eye sockets. A warm, calming feeling ebbed over him like the slow rise of warm tidewaters in a tidal pool.

The sword was heavier than he had imagined. He hit the side of the sword against the splintered end of the tree trunk once or twice to knock some of the dirt off then lifted sword skyward. He paused pointing the end of the sword toward the sun, uncertain whether the moment just seemed like an eternity or whether an eternity had passed in that fleeting moment.

The sword looked remarkably common. A square, brass quillion crossed the sword between the ricasso, the upper part of the blade, and the handle protecting its wielder’s hands in battle. The brass was about two inches wide where it crossed the ricasso, but flared out at ends to about three inches width, creating a concave shape designed to further protect the hands from an opponent’s sword sliding up the blade toward the handle. The quillion was thicker at the blade and tapered off at the ends.

The dirt clod-like shape at the end of the handle broke away to reveal the brass and crystal pommel. A three fingered talon with a dewclaw held a crystal sphere in place. Jerrod rubbed the sphere removing a little more dirt. Swirls of dark and medium blue twisted together as bright white lines of light, like lightning crackling across a night’s sky, rolled through the sphere. Jerrod thought he was imagining what seemed like dense vapors in the crystal; perhaps he had grown more tired from his venture than he had realized.

Jerrod looked down at the bleached bones thinking about the knight’s tragic end, the pain that he must have endured when the branch ruptured his chest cavity followed by the crushing blow of the massive tree trunk. He wondered who the skeleton might have been. Why was his sword drawn? As he looked down pondering his thoughts Jerrod noticed an amulet on a chain around the skeleton’s neck. He knelt next to gently remove the amulet, careful not to disturb the skull.

The amulet was about two inches in diameter and also encased in dirt. Jerrod scratched the dirt away with his thumbnail to find an etching of a rather nondescript eye. For lack of a better option, Jerrod quietly slipped the amulet over his head to hang from his neck.

And you never know who is watching? From her cottage far to the north…

She watched the white mist in the crystal before her. Her deep blue unsettling eyes fixated on the image forming in the mist, a young boy, barely into manhood, standing on a path partially blocked by a fallen tree. She passed her hand over the crystal just before the boy turned down hill along the tree. She watched the boy discover the skeletal body, its hand still clasped around the dark handle of a dirt covered sword.

She could feel his excitement, sense his breathing, read his thoughts. She was pleased with herself that her manipulation to draw the boy to the sword was working. She leaned back in satisfaction watching until the boy put something around his neck. At that moment she lost contact with his mind. She could see his image in the mist, but the mental connection that had existed moments ago was gone.

March 8, 2013 – My Week

Just a short note on the author’s week…

I was invited to a Signing on April 27, 2013, at Grassroots Bookstore in Reno, Nevada. I love talking with readers. I wrote The Legend of Jerrod because I wanted to provide an enjoyable story for readers. When my children were small I told them bedtime stories of the forest animals and how the animals got along. I told the stories so often that I did not think I could ever forget them. I guess I should have written them down.

You can find Grassroots Books at:

Shout Outs: I had a couple of really interesting conversations with fans and authors this week.

Sebastian White (Twitter @SebWrites) discussed authors struggling to focus on their writing, finding time to write. I also had a great conversation with Rachel Thompson (Twitter @BadRedheadMedia) about Amazon’s rule precluding authors from reviewing books. Teresa Cypher (Twitter @Teresa_Willow) and I discussed the willingness of authors to help one another. David Allen Kimmel (Twitter @dak1963) offered a perplexing question regarding Star Wars or Star Trek. Which would you prefer?

I am intrigued by Daniel Beazley (Twitter @DanielBeazley) storey about a happy Orc. M.G. Edwards (Twitter @m_g_edwards) is writing a book on her six month trek through Europe and Asia. Carol Bodensteiner (Twitter @CABodensteiner), writes about life in Iowa. I have also become acquainted with a poet, Teresa J Franklin (Twitter @ tjfpoems); she has some marvelous art on her FB fan page. Teresa has her poetry available on her web page: Rebecca King (Twitter @RebeccaKing123), romance author, also has a remarkable picture on her Twitter page. Melissa Craig (Twitter @MelissaKCraig) and I discussed the writing styles of authors’ gender. H.L. Stephens (Twitter @HL_Stephens) indicated that she has started looking for an agent.

Thank you for all the wonderful discussions.

I have not written much this week. I have been focused on getting my picture taken for my media packet. Scott Westover of NSSP Photography took the final pictures. I will be working on the media packet this weekend and, hopefully, a little on the second book in the Kingdom of Torrence series, Amanda’s Quest. I am also arranging to have The Legend of Jerrod reviewed.

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.

Kingdom of Torrence series


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