Scene from Hunter: Adalta Vol. II

Oct 27, 2017

Merrik was a medium sized man with a broad, open face on the wrong side of handsome, nondescript until he took off his cap and Galen could see the wide ears set too high on the sides of his head. When the woman brought Galen's beer, Merrik reached out and tugged on her skirt. She twitched away; her practiced smile a bit, no, a lot forced.

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Karda: Adalta Vol. I Chapter Two

Mid-morning the next day Bren left Marta in a small market town, and she walked on toward Rashiba Prime. Traffic crowded the road—wagons, riders, walkers like her with packs and bulging sacks. This world was a mix of ancient and crude with elements salvaged from pre-collapse Earth as were the other diaspora planets she'd worked on. But here there was no high technology. A man pedaled by on a three-wheeled cycle, an enormous pack in the basket on the back. A family rode in an open carriage with an ornate brass bound metal box behind the driver’s seat, a thin wisp of steam rising from a small pipe and no horses harnessed to it.

She didn't trust herself to talk to anyone. As the road grew busier, it was as if her vision were layered, and messages from everything and everyone around her echoed and bounced in her head. She had to step to the side of the narrow road and prop herself against a tree when a man and a woman in a buggy drove past. They sat silent and upright next to each other. His anger and her fear threatened to send Marta to her knees. And the bit in the mule's mouth pinched. It was too much.

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On Writing October 17, 2017

I spent most of this last week at my sister, Alice’s. (Alice V Brock, author of prize-winning mid-grade novel River of Cattle) We worked the whole time.

I spent most of one day with Kim Davis and her daughter, Jackie, my web gurus, so I could finally figure out how to post here, and the rest of the time on my book 2 and Alice’s book 2. I screwed up trying to post this, and it will have to wait until Kim can walk me through it. AGAIN.

Alice got most of the chapter that is the mid-point crisis of her second novel in her Will and Buck series. And she jerked and tugged and pulled a rough and sketchy plot outline out of me for my third novel in the Adalta Series, Falling. It was tough. I don’t plot. Or rather, I use the I Shot an Arrow into the Air, It Fell to Ground I Know Not Where Plot Method. 

It remains to be seen how long I can stick to it. When I tried to plot Hunter, vol. 2, I ended up not even using one of the main characters I’d worked so hard to develop. 

While you are here, check out the new cover (by Kurt Nilson) for Hunter on the Books page. It would be great if you commented to tell me what you think of it.

Chapter One in the Karda serial follows. I’ll post Chapter Two in two weeks. If you sign up for my newsletter, I'll let you know when I post it.

Karda: Adalta Vol. I Chapter One

Marta Rowan sighed and rubbed her aching feet. The walk to Rashiba Prime from the desolate barrens where the heli-shuttle set her down was long—longer than she anticipated. Distances were shorter on planet surveys than they were walking in boots. Adalta's one continent was immense.

Cold, wet wind from the barren rocky hills blew loose hair across her face. Shelter under the small twisted evergreen next to the rough road was welcome, and she leaned back against its furrowed trunk. Once again I start over. On a new planet, this time alone. It wasn’t a new thought. She’d just never felt so lonely before. Maybe it’s the desolation here where nothing’s been replanted.

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Karda: Adalta Vol. I

Karda: Adalta Vol. I Serial-The Prologue


The small boy, tears staining his grubby cheeks, passed through the kitchen, circling its edges, hoping no one noticed him. He filched a sticky bun from a tray cooling at the end of the large table. A wooden spoon flicked his wrist, and he almost dropped the sweet.

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Writing Evil

Writing Evil

As I am at the end of the rough drafts of Karda: Adalta Book I and Hunter: Adalta Book II, it is quite late to make major changes, so inevitably I discover major changes to make. That’s what a rough draft is about. Arrrg. 

Writing my evil character was fun. I could put the energy of all those icky behaviors I hope I don’t have into writing and make it fun.

Readen is indeed evil. But my much-abused editor pointed out to me, not just once, that even the most evil person, with few exceptions, is all EVIL in capital letters. To make an evil character believable, he also has to have some ordinary, normal, human, even GOOD characteristics.

Then, just in time, I found two excellent books on writing characters—The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Publisi. Wow.

So, I decided to do a revised character sketch for Readen, the bad guy in my series. First I concentrated on Readen’s negative characteristics and the wounds that made him what he is. What I’ve already written falls into that category. It was easy. Too easy. And flat. A little worm of doubt started working busily in the back of my mind, building its cocoon. It had been building that cocoon through the drafts of both books. 

Finally, my drafts finished, the cocoon finished, and the larva inside metamorphosed. A fully formed Doubt Moth emerged and fluttered its way into the front of my mind. 

While I worked to decode the message marked on its wings, I found Ackerman and Publisi's books. They helped me decode it before the moth began to eat holes in my story. The words No One Is Completely Evil emerged. 

So, how does one portray the good side of The Evil One without eroding how truly evil he is? I’m sure there are plenty of other books or sites that do that very well, but I couldn’t think of any right away. I googled "writing evil". Wow. Of course. There were 79,200,000 entries. 

I had just confronted a major personal flaw, which, when I look at my brothers and sister, has to be inherited. 

Never Ask How Because You Already Know Everything And Do Not Need To Read Directions.

This character trait is a particularly brittle one which breaks the minute you’re forced to look at it head-on. Mine had broken once again. (This is an experience repeated so often in my life you’d think it would never surprise me. Oops. It always does.)

So here is the description of Readen’s character traits that I'll experiment with in the editing and rewriting stage. Is it believable? Does it make Readen approachable? Can an ordinary-not=particularly-evil-person identify with him now? Can you feel empathy for him and still be appalled (and maybe just a little intrigued) by his Evil Side.

I hope it works. 

His Truly-Evil Side       

He is callous, disregards other’s needs, is manipulative and lacks empathy, does not like to be touched, is emotionally detached, vengeful, narcissistic, relentless, and easily irritated. He hides all this behind his smiling, helpful, deliberate facade of interest in others and carefully cultivated smiles that create deep crinkles beside his eyes. He is also a traitor (not a spoiler alert, this becomes obvious soon in book one)and the root cause of his bitter wickedness can be defined by the words rancorous resentment.

There are more and worse traits and behaviors, but those would be spoiler alerts.  

His Likable-Good Side

He has a terrible childhood wound—a devastating accident of birth no one in the world of Adalta has ever faced. He is independent and self-reliant, decisive, sophisticated and socially polished. His powers of persuasion, both magically augmented and inborn are powerful. He moves toward his goal with relentless, patience, and resolution. He can be playful, flirtatious, and amusing (although with a bite). 

His Could-Go-Either-Way Side

Passionate, out-going, intelligent, imaginative, disciplined, responsible, efficient. Humor belongs on this list, too. He uses it both ways.

Most of the traits on these lists are in The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus. Just working out these lists has made my character more real to me, and I look forward to seeing how I can us them as I rewrite. I think I need to do the same thing for my two main protagonists.

There’s another evil being in the Adalta Series: The Itza Larrak. This is my list for it. 

Evil Side: He is not human. Humans are tools. Wound: He is the only being of his kind on Adalta. Good: Not so much.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, so comment below. please.

Just an idea about magic

What if?

The first time it happened I was five years old and just learning to write more than my name and dog and cat. Writing fascinated me. Even before that, as soon as I could hold a pencil, I would sneak one of my daddy's yellow legal tablets and scribble lines across the page, pretending to write. A blank page is a siren call to me. I can’t help but put something on it, scribbles, doodles, whatever. Stories are best, of course. I love stories, telling, writing, reading.

And my stories always start with a character—of course, what else? For my first story, the character was a dog. I wanted a dog. I begged and begged my mother. Pleaded with my father. But we moved a lot, and they wouldn’t hear of it. Too much trouble. No place for it to live. Costs too much to feed. Dogs are noisy. The excuses were unlimited. Dog hair all over the place. That was mother’s favorite. I’m allergic. That was daddy's. Then he’d sneeze not very convincingly. We really did move a lot. And lived in little apartments and sometimes motels.

So I decided to write myself a dog. I carefully sharpened a pencil with the little knife on daddy's key ring. When mommy wasn’t looking. She’d have had a fit. I pulled a chair up to the desk in the motel room we were staying in. Turned on the desk light. Sat down. Got up to get a pillow from the bed for the chair. I was pretty short even for my age. And started writing.

‘My dog is black, with short kerly hare.’ That didn’t look right, so I asked mommy to look at it. I started over on a new page. ‘My dog is black, with short, curly hair. He is about…’ I thought for a minute, erased that last part and wrote ‘He is halfway to my knees tall. He has little white teeth and he smiles a lot and loves me more than anything. He doesn’t eat anything much and he doesn’t leave dog hair on anything. When we have to move he will sit on my lap in the car and won’t take up too much space. He will only bark when I am in danger because he is my guard and best friend. He has little pointy ears that stand up. And blue eyes.” I had to ask my mother to spell some words. I forgot about my father's allergies.

Every night before I went to bed for the next three days, I read the words in a whisper so they wouldn’t hear. Every night I dreamed about my little black dog. I wrote more each morning. ‘His name is Tiger.’ ‘He has one white foot.’ ‘His eyelashes are very long.’  ‘He loves to play catch with a little red ball.’  ‘His water dish is yellow with blue flowers around the edges and his food bowl is pink.’  ‘He doesn’t like for me to tie bows around his neck and paws them off when I try.’  ‘He has a collar with a tag that has his name on it.’  ‘His tail is short and he wiggles all over when he wags it.’

For three days I wrote my dog. The night of the third day I finally wrote ‘The End’ and went to bed.

The next morning when my dad went out to McDonald’s for our breakfast Tiger was sitting just outside the door to our room, his yellow water bowl with blue flowers, his pink food bowl were right there. He had a ragged red ribbon around his neck and a red ball in his mouth. The tag on his collar said, Tiger.

That was the first time it happened.

The dog went straight to the pound.

That night I started writing again. "My mother and father love dogs. They love my dog Tiger." I wrote for three days and whispered the words for three nights. 

Daddy went back to the pound and got Tiger.

That was the second time it happened.





Scene One

It seems appropriate for my first blog on writing that I use the opening paragraphs of Austringer, the book I am currently writing. I’d actually like your input. Some like it, some think I should start with the actual fight scene. I did write one, actually two. But after getting input from my sister, the best writing partner ever, I think I like this best. (They are good fight scenes. I may use them later. I really like writing fight scenes. Latent aggression, I guess.)


Tessa stood, shaking. The sounds of the battle outside her door receded. Her vision darkened around the edges. She stumbled to the spindly chair beside the table littered with the remains of her breakfast and sat, resting her head on her knees. Her hand gripped the sword like it was glued. Gradually her breathing slowed and her head cleared. She forced her fingers away from the sword and laid it on the table. The blood stained the white cloth blending into the red juice from the spilled cherry apple preserves. Horrified she stared at it for a moment and then, refusing to look toward the man sprawled by the small fireplace, she stumbled toward the bath and splashed cold water on her face. She leaned over the water bowl for a long time, trying to control her shaking.

She’d watched people die. Her mother…

Her mind veered away from that. Urgent need sent her whirling to the commode and she retched until her stomach muscles could force nothing more out and she sank to the floor. The cold stone soothed her face. She wanted to lie there forever, not thinking.