Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Refresh Button - Saturday, Feb 15th.

I hadn't been woods'ing in a while. Not with my brother Evan and my son Donavon and Jax the dog, anyway. So we packed machetes, knives and raw ground beef and hit the woods near the Broad River.

Within the forest, some really big trees had fallen. Some had fallen because others fell against them. Yet others had simply fallen. Not because they'd died. Probably because of a particularly strong wind.

Upon seeing a stretch of Five of the fallen trees, my gut reaction was sadness. So many trees, all so tall, so majestic. They were so old, had seen so much, they made up so much of the forest. They had offered so much to the forest, contributed so much... in the past.

But lying on their side, these Five trees were much easier to climb. And once I'd climbed one I discovered a view of the forest I'd never experienced. I could see for miles. Down the massive hill, across the Broad River, up the slopes on the far side that still wore snow and out over a pasture I never even knew was there.

It was in those newly accessible branches that I had an epiphany.

It is sad that the Five big trees fell. When they did, they took down others with them. Others whose only crime was to exist in their vicinity... in their shadow.

But the bigger the hole that is left, the greater the chance for new life.

In the roots of the fallen trees were masses of dirt, wrenched free of the earth and exposed for all to see. It seemed ugly at first... like the remains of a bad wreck. But the dirt was rich... The perfect place for new life to grow. And what better place for new plants than in the woods, free of the enshrouding canopy of these Five enormous trees?

It is sad that the Five big trees fell. But it was inevitable. Because trees, like everything else, can either grow, or die. If they continue to grow, all life around them becomes stunted, receiving only what little sunlight and rain they let pass. And that's not a forest. It's just Five huge, bloated trees, taking everything for themselves.

Here's to new life.

PS. On an unrelated note (or not), there's a website I'll be posting a permanent link to in my sidebar called It's very informative for anyone considering making writing their career. Go have a look at this particular post, for example, and see what I mean.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Silexare Compendium

Quick Reminder - Alex Cavanaugh's book Cassafire is $.99 until February 10th! (today!) Go have a look!


For a while when I was a kid, cards from Magic: The Gathering were some of my favorite things. Playing the game is fun but isn't necessary to appreciate the cards. The best cards have a whole story inside.

If you don't believe me, have a look.
Reya Dawnbringer. Her name provides a hint of her purpose, her strength.

We know Reya is of Good alignment because not only does she require white magic to cast, but she revives a creature every turn... And she's an angel, it says it right there.

Examining her picture gives us more of the story. She's armed, winged, and somewhere between a fiery sky and a fiery earth. There's a battle going on.

Then there's the quote. And that's what grants her voice.

"You have not died until I consent."

No contractions. As if she's from an older time, and yet it's not cumbersome. Spoken with authority. This is no question. "Get your carcass out of the mud and get back to fighting!"

When I would buy a new pack of cards as a kid, I'd spread them out and look for only the cards with a quote. I always wondered but never knew where I might read more of the stories in those pictures. Their world seemed awesome.

Okay, now hold that thought.

I've had an idea for the Silexare Compendium for a long time. I wanted it to display some entities of my stories and of the world of Silexare and eventually have things interrelate and become a web of information, vast and complex. But I wasn't sure of what details to spill... What info to reveal and what to hide. And I knew one thing for sure - If I make a website with a bunch of fantasy names and blocks of written text, it's going to bore anyone to sleep. (Yes, I'm well aware of the irony...)

Drew Cochran and I started the site a couple of weeks ago. I told him ideas and he wrote code. I looked at what he wrote, was impressed, and gave more ideas. Sometimes he'd tell me a better or quicker way of doing what we wanted to. Sometimes my demands involved him broadening his programming horizons.

It's still a work in progress, but here are a couple of images of the site. And please know, the main strength of the page is in the database behind it, with every entry of every table tied to another.

Rekkdyls - Almost as vicious as they are viscious
Art page - Here's where user submitted art will be displayed
Upon launch, entries will consist of people and places and beasts that are referred to in A Sawmill's Hope. I don't know how many entries there will be. But there will definitely be a bunch of art. And although the Art page, for the time being, will belong largely to Mr. Tracy Flynn, my goal is to open the page to other artists to contribute as well. I want to awaken creativity in my visitors.

When I saw the following page, complete with images, description, and a quote, I had an epiphany.

Yes it's still a bit rough. But if you were paying attention to the first half of the post, you'll understand why I was subconsciously drawn to this design. It mimics the Magic cards I used to love. Except now I can click Tracy's name and see all his art on this site! It says where the quote is from right there beside "First Mention" and all art that's been submitted on Vodnik is there for me to peruse!

Gosh I'm freaking in love with it. I know, "get a room," right? I'll shut up about it.

But if this website is able to stir up a creative desire in just one person, then I've done some good.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

IWSG February 2014

IWSG, brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, occurs once a month. It exists for writers to voice their insecurities and offer advice. The official website, continues to be a priceless commodity in my studying and research. Any one interested in writing to have a look!

While we're on the subject of Alex, check it out - his Sci Fi book CassaFire (list price $15.95) will be on sale from Feb 4 - 10 for 99 cents! For those of you not familiar, go have a look and read a sample!

CassaStar was just the beginning...

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron's days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it's a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren's civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan's technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron's unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy...

As for my own contribution to IWSG, I'm choosing to take the time I would be writing here to finally get out in the blog world and see some of you guys I've been neglecting for so long.

See you guys soon.