Archive for June, 2012

Excerpt from The Raven’s Fire © – The Staff of Khenet

Posted in Book 2 - The Raven's Fire, The Dukarian Legacy - Fantasy Novels with tags , , on June 30, 2012 by Dawn Ross

“The Staff of Khenet”, excerpt from “The Raven’s Fire” by Dawn Ross

The following excerpt from “The Raven’s Fire” is Copyrighted by Dawn Ross, 2002:

Narvina examined the pages of the Djemnu Scrolls.  These were one of many ancient texts which Narvina had collected over the centuries.  She had already gone through several in order to find a way to stop the Brother of Death in the World Between.

Finally, she came upon the answer in the Staff of Khenet.  This ancient staff was used by the Son of the Light in an era long since passed.  During a time when the Brother of Death walked freely in the world of the living, the Son used this staff created by his father to imprison the Brother in the World Below.

Narvina was not certain whether she had the power to wield the Staff of Khenet, but she had to try.  There was one other problem:  the Staff was far away in Menkhara.  Under most circumstances, Narvina would have used the World Between to travel such a far distance within a short time.  But the Brother of Death was there.  Until she had the Staff, she did not have the power to protect herself from him.  She had to find another way.

Narvina rolled up the Djemnu Scrolls and put them back in their place.  With her magic, she encased them in an airless web in order to keep the parchment from aging.

“Sister Cheris,” she said to her attendant sitting nearby.  “Send for Sister Mera and have one of the girls saddle my horse.”

“You will be leaving, my Lady?” the woman asked in a worried tone.

“Yes, my child.  I must.”

“As you wish.”  Sister Cheris bowed her consent.  Narvina never left the haven before as far as Sister Cheris knew, but she presented no argument since she understood the magnitude of the situation.

Narvina gathered the ingredients listed in the Book of Change and put them in the silver pouch.  As she hung a magical green crystal around her neck, Sister Mera entered.  The woman had dark gray hair pulled back in a tight bun.  Her eyes were stern and her mouth in a constant frown.

“Sister Mera,” Narvina greeted.  The Sister responded with a respectful bow of her head.  “I need you to attend things while I’m gone.”

Before Narvina had a chance to explain, the Sister interrupted.  “Gone?  But you can’t leave.  We need you.”

“I’m afraid my presence is urgently needed elsewhere, my child.”

Sister Mera was shocked.  “But I cannot take your place, my Lady.”

“You are the only one qualified to do it,” Narvina replied.

“But if you leave, the other Sisters will panic,” Sister Mera protested.

“Then you must calm them.  This is very important, dear Sister.  I must leave at once.”

“For how long?”

“As long as it takes.”  Sister Mera gave her a horrified look indicating she may have thought Narvina meant moons, or even years, so Narvina added, “A fortnight or two, I suppose.”

Sister Mera’s expression didn’t change, but Narvina did not have the time to soothe her.  She nodded farewell to the Sister and left the chamber.  Outside was a hall of stone columns entwined with climbing vines.  The ceiling of the hall was made of lattice and also wrapped in vines.  A warm blue sky could be seen beyond.

Narvina greeted the many Sisters in the hall as she passed.  With a warm smile, she gave a quick blessing to those who desired it.  Thankfully, none demanded too much of her time.

Soon, Narvina turned the corner and walked beyond the garden hall to the stables.  The fragrance of the flowering vines were replaced by the musky smell of horses.  A young novice waited with Narvina’s beautiful white mare, Lilaca.  Nodding a thanks to the dark-haired novice, Narvina mounted and nudged the mare into a quick gallop.

The air got cooler as she ascended the stone path leading up to the third mountain of Triple Horns.  About midway up this mountain was another sanctuary.  Built of stone and shrouded with ivy and plants, it would be difficult for anyone who didn‘t know it was there to find.  This sanctuary was reserved for the use of the most powerful Sisters who were striving to reach an even higher level of skill.

Narvina dismounted her mare at the flight of the rugged steps leading to the entrance.  Using her magic, Narvina projected an image into Lilaca’s mind which told her she was free to explore the woods before going back to the stables.  As Lilaca pranced back down the path, Narvina reached the great doors which looked as gnarled and as rough as the bark of an old oak tree.  She gently pushed in a knot of wood and the doors slid open quietly.

Greeting her was a grand circular room which opened up to the sky.  A handful of Sisters were inside practicing their skills.  One had created an illusion of a white tiger which the Sister made to walk across the room.  Another was using the water of the central fountain to form an image of an eagle.  This Sister then used her magic to raise the liquid eagle into the air where it began to flap its watery wings.  Impressive, Narvina thought to herself.

Using the magic of her mind, Narvina ordered four of the Sisters to her side.  The other Sisters stopped what they were doing.  The tiger disappeared and the eagle fell silently back into the fountain.  The Sisters backed away in order to give the others room.  Narvina dipped a cup into the fountain and added the ingredients from her silver pouch.

After drinking it down, she sat cross-legged on the floor and closed her eyes in concentration.  The four Sisters stood around her, also meditating.  The magic of these four women poured into the green morphing crystal Narvina wore about her neck.  This concentrated magic helped Narvina change her features.

As the magic surged through her, it made a warm tingling sensation which helped to ease the pain of her transformation.  Narvina spread her arms and let her skin stretch into wings.  Her bones thinned and lightened.  She felt her face contorting and a beak growing from her face.  White feathers began to grow and cover her entire body.

Before long, the transformation was complete.  Narvina was now a great white egret with a golden feathered crest which had once been her hair.  She and the four Sisters collapsed in exhaustion.  Two other Sisters approached and lay their healing hands upon Narvina’s feathered body.  More warm magic surged through her.  Soon, she was refreshed and ready to go.  Leaving six worn out Sisters behind, Narvina leaped into the air and took flight.

© Dawn Ross 2002

Sound interesting? Read “The Third Dragon” by Dawn Ross, then read the sequel, “The Raven’s Fire” – both on Amazon.com.

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Editing Your Fantasy Novel for Homophones

Posted in Writing on June 23, 2012 by Dawn Ross

‘He’ll heal your injured heel’ or ‘Those two are going to the store too.’

As someone fairly proficient in the English language, I still have problems with getting the spellings of words mixed up. Homophones are a great example. Homophones are words which are pronounced the same but have a different meaning. Even though I know the difference, my problem is when I write so fast that I don’t catch my error. So even though you may already know the difference between these common homophones, it is still a good idea to use your find and replace feature on Word to make sure you used them right. And also get your book edited.

There are some common ones which I found I may have misused:

* Their / There / They’re – Possessive as is ‘their book’ / Location as in ‘over there’ / Contraction of they are as in ‘they’re going to the store’ – They’re over there with their horses.

* Two/ Too / To – Number as in ‘two eyes’ / Also as in ‘he is going there too’ / Express a direction, motion, application, point in time, etc. as in ‘to the west’ or ‘he is going to saddle his horse’ – Those two are going to the store too.

* Week / Weak – Period of seven days as in ‘next week’ / Lacking strength as in ‘he is too weak to pick up the box’ – He has been really weak this week.

* Steel / Steal – Metal as in ‘a sword made of steel’ / To take as in ‘steal some jewelry’ – He was going to steal my steel knife.

* He’ll / Heal / Heel – Contraction of he will as in ‘he’ll do that again’ / To make better as in ‘I am going to heal your wounds’ / Part of the foot as in ‘he got a blister on his heel’ – He’ll heal your injured heel.

* Peak / Peek – Top of a mountain as in ‘the peak of the mountain rose above the clouds’ / To look furtively as in ‘he took a quick peek’ / With a quick peek over the top of the ridge, he could see the peak of the mountain.

* Meat / Meet – Food as in ‘I like to eat meat’ / To encounter as in ‘I’m glad to meet you’ – We should meet sometime and have some meat on the barbeque.

* Air / Heir – The substance we breath as in ‘he jumped into the air’ / Descendant as in ‘he is the heir to my throne’ – My heir took a breath of air.

* Allowed / Aloud – Give permission as in ‘he is allowed to do that’ / To speak loudly as in ‘he said that aloud’ / He said aloud, “You’re not allowed to do that!”.

* Baron / Barren – Title as in ‘Baron McCleod’ / Unproductive as in ‘the barren land’ or ‘she is too old and so is barren’ / Baron Snide’s wife is barren.

* Peer / Pier – An equal as in ‘he is my peer’ or to look as in ‘to peer at the sky’ / A wooden structure as in ‘he stepped off the pier and onto dry land’ – He was too short to peer the body upon the pier.

* Here / Hear – Location as in ‘I am here’ / Act of listening as in ‘I can hear you’ – I can hear you even though I am all the way over here.

* Throne / Thrown – A royal chair as in ‘King Rupert’s throne’ / To toss as in ‘he was thrown out of the bar’ – The jester was thrown off the king’s throne.

* Your / You’re – Ones own as in ‘this is your book’ / Contraction of you are as in ‘you’re doing it wrong’ – You’re the one who broke your watch.

* Wares / Where’s / Wears – Items for sale as in ‘he hawked his wares’ / Contraction of where is as in ‘where’s you’re mother?’ / Something on the body as in ‘the shoes he wears’ or to deteriorate as in ‘he wears out his gloves’ – He’s asking the merchant who wears a red hat, “Where’s the wares you were selling?”

* Solder / Soldier – This is not a homophone but it is one I found I often misspelled. The problem is I typed so fast I often forgot the letter i. Since solder is also a word, the spell check did not get it and I found I had armies of solders rather than soldiers. Keep these typos in mind along with your homophones. Not every misspelled word is going to be caught by the spell checker.

The perfect website you can use to find hundreds of homophones is http://www.homophone.com/. There is a box on the left which lets you look up homophones by letter. I strongly recommend that you go through each one and find homophones which you think you may have mixed up in your fantasy novel.

Keeping Track of Fantasy Novel Characters, Places, and Terminology

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , on June 16, 2012 by Dawn Ross

When I was writing my fantasy novels, The Third Dragon and The Raven’s Fire, I found it difficult a times to keep the names and places straight. I also had trouble keeping the characteristics of minor characters consistent. Things could get even more complicated if I decided to change a character’s name or characteristic. But this is how I kept it all straight and how I am sure other writers of fantasy novels keep their information straight.

Make a List and/or Keep a Database
Whenever I need a new character in my fantasy novel, I decide on a name, what special physical characteristics he or she has, and what their basic personality needs to be. If the character is just in for a very small part, I keep the physical and personality traits simple. But if the character is going to show up again, I try to make these features more unique and recognizable. And I keep track of it all by keeping a detailed database (spreadsheet). Each character on the spreadsheet also has indicated which book and which chapter he or she is in as well as what they did. Obviously, more prominent characters need more room to describe so I usually put, see document titled such-and-such. That document is created and saved in Word with that title. If you don’t have or don’t like to use an electronic database, use notecards and binders. Also, create a separate file or database for each element – one for people, one for places, and one for terminology.

Create a Map
Because the places in a fantasy novel are almost always made-up places, it is important to have a map. When I created the world of Ungal, I first made a map. I decided on each province name, added prominent cities, places such as forests and deserts, and rivers. I also created a database which described what the people of those provinces tended to wear, what their general physical characteristics were, and what personalities their populace tended to have. It is also good to have a general idea of how big the place is, how wide are some of the rivers and how did people cross, and whether there were any major roads.

Find and Replace
Sometimes I found it necessary to change a person’s name or the name of a place. After changing it in my database, I had to make sure I changed it in my fantasy novel too. The find and replace feature in Word makes this extremely easy. But you have to make sure you update your database and notes too.

Edit, Edit, and Have Someone Else Edit Some More
Sometimes when you get a certain character in your head, it is difficult for you to switch gears if you change his name or how he looks. Even the find and replace won’t always help you locate all the places where the changes need to be made. So to help reduce possible discrepancies, edit your book. Then edit it again. Have someone else edit it too (preferably a professional editor who is willing to also help you correct story discrepancies as well as grammatical errors). On top of having a professional editor, have your friends and family read it too. And ask them to let you know if they find something they are not clear on.

Lots writers of fantasy novels use maps. Many of them also have an index of names, places, and terminology. Robert Jordan’s fantasy novels have an index for terminology such as the definition of and how to pronounce Aes Sedai. If your fantasy novel uses made up terminology to define certain groups of people, types of objects, or magical actions, it is probably a good idea to not only create a database for this info but to have an index at the end of your novel which readers can reference. You can have an index of people as well as a map.

My Miscellaneous Fantasy Stuff

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , on June 9, 2012 by Dawn Ross

 

Game of Thrones on HBO
Firstly, I saw the Game of Thrones on HBO for the first time. Awesome! Why haven’t I seen it before? I never had cable before. And when I recently got cable, I didn’t have HBO. However, ATT recently gave me a free preview of HBO and I caught a few episodes. Since it is already in a new season, I will buy the first season on DVD very very soon.

Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time
Since the final novel is coming up soon, I wanted to catch up on the story. So I am rereading every novel. It is going to take me a while to get through them all since I am going back to school. Hopefully, I will get done just in time for when the final book to The Wheel of Time comes out.

Harry Potter
I’ve read all the Harry Potter books some time past. And I’ve seen most of the movies. But for some reason, I never got a chance to see the last one. Since Blockbuster is going out of business, I was able to buy the final DVD at a reasonable price. I watched it for the first time yesterday and it was great!

Looking Forward To
There are a few great movies out right now that I want to see but haven’t had a chance. First is The Avengers. I can’t believe I haven’t seen it yet. I guess I have been too busy to take the time to go to the theater. I am also looking forward to seeing Men in Black III. And I just got the DVD of John Carter which I ordered from Disney. I did see this movie in theaters but I’d love to see it again.

Are there any other great sci-fi or fantasy movies coming out soon? Do you have any recommendations for some good fantasy novels? I really need to get back into my fantasy.

Protect Your Work with the DMCA – Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Posted in Miscellaneous, Publishing with tags , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by Dawn Ross

I’ve had two incidents this year where someone stole my content from the web and claimed it as their own. The content was not related to my fantasy novels, but it could have been. The nature of the internet makes it easy for people to copy your stuff and present it as theirs. But don’t worry, you can protect yourself in the same way I did with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)… and without a lawyer.

How to Prevent Your Work from Being Copied
Sorry, there is no magical way to keep this from happening. Digitalizing text may help somewhat and adding watermarks to photos may also help. Be sure to clearly state that it is your work and to indicate it is protected by copyright.

How to Tell if Someone Has Copied Your Work
There are a number of websites which can help you check to see if something you have put online has been copied. One such website is Copyscape.com. So if you put a synopsis or a portion of your book online for a review, copy the URL where it is located and paste it in the space on the Copyscape website. Copyscape may give you a list of websites which have duplicated your content. Click through each one to verify. Another way is to do a Google search. Copy and paste some of your content, with quotation marks around it into the Google search field and check the sites which pop up.

When Copying Information May Be Okay
I found much of my information for this article in a HubPages article titled, How to File a DMCA Complaint. Please note that even though I gave you the same information they did, I did not cut and paste. I put it in my own words and I gave them credit by mentioning them and linking to them. If someone has duplicated your content, click through to see if they gave you credit and linked to your novel. If they did, this could actually be helpful to you depending on how much they duplicated.

What to Do if Someone Duplicates Your Work
If you find work which should not have been duplicated, find the Contact Us page on their website and send them an email. The HubPages article I previously mentioned tells you exactly what you should say. If you don’t know who to send your email to, the HubPages article also tells you how to find out.

How to Get Your Stolen Work Removed
If you do not get a response to your email, the next step was a lot easier than I expected. When I found that someone had duplicated an article I wrote, I went through Google Support and filed my DMCA complaint. If you find that you have to file such a complaint, be as thorough as possible with providing Google the duplicated information. Submit your complaint and wait. When I reported my duplicated article to Google, they handled it within 5 business days. I found they not only deleted the page where this website had my article, they blocked their entire website!

I also found a video on YouTube that had used a photo of my dog. This might have been okay except it was a photo of my dog Maya wearing her dog car harness and I use this photo to promote and sell this same dog car harness on a website I own, PetAutoSafety.com. Since they were using my photo to sell a dog car harness from their own website, I contacted them to have them remove it. And since they did not respond, I reported it to YouTube who had the video deleted within 5 business days.

When Copying Photos May Be Okay
Just because an image is one the web does not mean it is free for your use. If you are using images in your novel, be sure you get permission to use those images. And be sure to give credit for those images to the proper source. You can also buy your images from BigStock.com or other such sites.

I love how easy things can be on the internet now-a-days. For one, it has helped me get my fantasy novels published. But there is a risk that someone will steal my work. Thankfully, Google and YouTube have made it easy for me to do something about it.