Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sapphire Queen

Queen Delina of Pridonia pulled her brush through her long, raven hair. She wanted to pull all the knots from the nights sleep out of her locks before her maid arrived to help her dress. Abella was a capable servant and the love she had for her mistress had no bounds, but the woman did not have the gentlest hand when it came to applying the hairbrush. Delina sat on the low stool in front of her dressing table and pulled the ends of her hair forward to pull the brush all the way through. When she finished, she allowed the tresses to fall loosely. The ends of her hair brushed the floor, but she wasn’t worried about getting dust or dirt in it since Abella always made sure her chambers were spotless.
A row of bottles lined up in perfect order sparkled as a beam of light made its way through the opening in the tapestries covering the windows. Delina picked up the hand-blown, blue decanter and released the stopper. The bitter smell of the potion assaulted her nostrils as she poured a small measure into a glass. Taking a deep breath, she steeled herself for the taste. One quick swallow and it was gone. Shuddering at the taste, Delina put the glass on the tray near the edge of her dressing table. She held the decanter to the light to check the level of the potion and noted it was nearly empty. Tomorrow was potion making day so she knew she would need to go through her herb supply today to make sure she had what she needed.
Placing the decanter back in its proper place, she picked up the next jar. Her morning ritual never changed. Although she had survived the plague spell that had taken the lives of her parents and nearly a third of the population of Pridonia, she would be living with the aftereffects of the spell for the rest of her life. The pain in her joints would always plague her and she would carry the scars on her body for the rest of her life.
It was fortunate the plague scars barely touched her face. Delina worked the ointment in her jar into the deep scar on her jawline and the other on her forehead and then smoothed a thin layer of cream over her entire face. The salve helped ease the redness of the scars, but her skin would never be the smooth alabaster white of her childhood.
The double wooden doors of her chambers swung open and Abella marched in the room, followed by the three ladies in waiting who were assigned to Delina. Marith and Delira had barely entered their fourteenth year and were not quite ready for the duties assigned to ladies of the realm, but many of the more experienced ladies had perished during the war and Delina had few options when appointing the mistresses of the chamber. Many of the more experienced ladies who had served her mother had been assigned to care and teach the children who had been left orphaned and without teachers due to the death plagues. Salissa had been a lady in waiting to Delina’s mother and when Delina had been appointed Queen after the death of her parents she refused to leave her post. Both Salissa and Adina had helped Delina transition from Princess of the Realm to Queen Sorceress.
The title was still fresh and new. Her parents had only been dead for six months. The plague had been released by the Natherian’s when they realized they were losing the war. It was a final effort to destroy the people of the land and take over the kingdom. The plague had taken the life of her mother, father and both of her brothers, one older and one younger. Delina knew if she would have died the King of Natheria would have been sitting on the throne of her kingdom. Sometimes she wondered if it was the knowledge of the harm King Jeahan would cause her people that kept her alive through the pain of the plague.
Abella and the other ladies approached Delina as she rose from her stool. Marith placed the large tray she was carrying on the table near the window before taking her place in line. The four ladies dropped into a curtsy as their morning, “My Queen,” echoed in unison. It was the only acquisition Delina would allow to her status. Once the morning ritual was complete the ladies attended to their duties.
Marith and Delira began stripping the bedding off the bed while Salissa gathered clothing from the wardrobe. Delina returned to her stool to allow Abella to attend her hair.
“Your Majesty,” Abella said as she worked Delina’s dark tresses into an elaborate braid. “Are you going to have time to visit the training academy today? We need to prepare for the foreign dignitaries’ arrival and Duke Kaltra has requested an appointment with you.”
Delina stifled a sigh. “Duke Kaltra requests an appointment with me every day. Tell him the same thing we always say. ‘Make an appointment with my secretary.’ I will meet with Balith this afternoon to ensure the preparations are in place for our guests. And, yes, I will be visiting the training academy today. I have yet to find an apprentice worthy of being my heir and I need to be able to test the students every month. I need to name my heir soon. We can not risk another invasion from Natheria. The only way to ensure the safety of our kingdom is to have a strong Sorcerer on the throne.”
“I’m sure Kaltra wants to talk about your heir and the regency,” Abella said as she worked combs into Delina’s hair to keep it in place. “He has made it clear he desires to be your husband and wants the care of any child you choose as heir.”
It took enormous restraint for Delina to remain seated as Abella tugged and pulled her hair into place. The thought of marrying Kaltra, Duke of Ecathra sent her stomach into flurries. The man was repulsive. He rarely bathed and his skin and breath reeked of sour milk. Although he was a powerful wizard in his own rights, he lacked the patience necessary to train young children in the magical arts. He was a fair and kind man and ruled his dutchy well, but he would never do as a regent to a young ruler.
Abella placed the last comb and Delina stood to allow the women to dress her. The ladies carefully pulled her dark, sapphire colored dress over her head and adjusted the laces to strap her into it. Although she had graduated from the pale hues of her childhood into the deep, rich colors of adulthood, Delina still insisted on wearing simply cut dresses over her shifts. Wearing layers of satin and lace crafted by servants who could be working on ensuring the production of food, clothing and shelter of her subjects just didn’t feel right. She knew her people must always come first before her own desires. It was one of the many lessons she learned about ruling a kingdom. From the time she could remember she sat beside her brothers at lessons and when she turned twelve her father insisted she sit in council meetings and learn to manage the kingdom.
Marith and Delira knelt on the floor and worked on the ribbons sewn into her skirt to bustle the extra length and keep the cloth from dragging the ground while Delina went about her duties. The two girls worked quickly, gathering bits of cloth into ruffles to hide where it was tied. Marith kept her head bowed and worked in absolute silence, her fingers trembling slightly as she gathered the cloth. Delina reached down and touched the soft curls on the top of the girls head and brushed the short hair back from her face. Marith paused in her work and looked up at her queen.
“My queen?” The girl’s voice had a slight questioning sound. Delina studied the delicate features of the young girl so heavily scarred by plague marks.
“Are the joints in your fingers hurting today?” Delina asked?
Marith’s eyes sparkled with tears as she twisted her fingers together. “Your highness, it is not so much. I can still perform my duties.”
“Child, we have talked about this.” Although Delina was only a few years older than her servant, she had developed the habit of calling those younger than her child from working with the apprentices in the training academy. Marith had been an apprentice before the plague and would have still been at the academy if she hadn’t been so badly debilitated by the disease. “You are not obligated to serve me if it causes you pain. I will find you other duties.”
“My queen, you saved my life.” Tears had escaped Marith’s eyes and were rolling down her cheeks. “I can never repay you for the medicines and care you gave me. I can not fail you by shirking my duties as your lady in waiting.”
Salissa moved across the room from where she was setting up Delina’s breakfast from the tray. The older woman wrapped her arms around the girl and gently brushed her short, dark curls away from her face.
“Child, there are so many ways to serve,”  Salissa gently brushed the tears from Marith’s cheeks. “Here, you sit at the table and read to us as our Queen breakfast. You must rest your hands.”
Delina moved to the table by the window as Abella opened the drapery, flooding the chamber with light. She ate her breakfast of cheese, bread and apples as Salissa opened a book of poetry. The other ladies scurried around the room finishing the daily chores. Marith’s sweet, clear voice quivered for a moment as she read, but soon the tears cleared, and the natural rhythm of the poetry steadied her voice.
Delina lingered over her meal enjoying the sound of Marith’s voice. Finally, she decided she couldn’t delay the duties of the day any longer. She set her plate aside and signaled to her ladies.
“It is time to attend to our duties.”
Marith placed the book of poetry on the table and stood. Delina reached for her cane. The smooth polished wood shone in the brilliant sunlight. She used the edge of the table to stand and steadied herself as a sharp pain flashed through her knees. Salissa moved to her right side and offered her arm. Delina placed her hand on the older woman’s arm and leaned into her strength. It was going to be a trying day and she was sure tomorrow would be spent in bed, if her schedule would allow.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Writing Nonfiction

Are you considering writing a piece of nonfiction?
Here are some things to consider before publishing nonfiction.

Writing nonfiction designed to inform:
  • Make sure you have all the facts and information from credible sources.
  • Cite your sources correctly to avoid plagiarism.


Self-help and how-to books are a way for experts to share their knowledge. These books have a specific target audience and are sometimes difficult to sell in the marketplace. If you write these types of books it’s important to be an expert in your field and not just someone who is “really good” at google. 
  • Answer the following question in the comments: What makes someone an expert?

Nonfiction designed to tell stories or describe events:

Before you decide to write a book about an event or person make sure you have the rights to tell the story.
  • Are you an Historian who has studied the event?
  • Are the events public domain?
  • If the story is about a person have you obtained the rights to tell the story?

Even if you are telling the story about yourself, you don’t always have the right to include others in the story. Make sure you have documented permission from any individual you include in your story.

Fictionalizing real events doesn’t exempt you from acquiring permission from people to tell their story. Individuals will recognize themselves from your story and you may face legal action from individuals who may not have wanted their stories told.

What questions do you have about writing nonfiction?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Writing Software

What is your preferred writing software?
I use Word because I am familiar with the program. 
I lucked into a Word template for formatting my novels early in my writing career and I am able to effectively use the template to format my work. There are also a number of instructional videos and guides available if I am stuck on a formatting issue so I can learn how to fix problems myself.
I know there are other writing programs, but the cost of the software and the sharp learning curve necessary to use the program effectively makes it difficult for me to buy into the program.
What software do you use?
Why is this your preferred software?

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Can you write?

Read the entire post and think for a few minutes before you comment. 
Can you write?
Probably not.
There are so many reasons why you can't write: Time, skill set, writer's block, anxiety.
Should you write:
Emphatically: YES!
Writing is not about doing it right, it's about doing it.
You don't have to write the Great American Novel.
It's about expressing your thoughts on paper.
Write for yourself
Keep a journal
Create a blog
Write in forums
Write in a notebook
Write on napkins
Write on scraps of paper
Write letters to your loved ones

Write because you should and eventually you will write because you can.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Why do you write?

Why do you write?
I write to release the thoughts in my head.
Sometimes the stories spring from the darkest part of my soul.
sometimes they bubble forth out of joy..
Like a pensive, I drag the thoughts from my head and allow them to swirl out on to paper.
I write for myself.
It helps writing for myself.
I don't worry about critics.
I accept critique.
I am willing to grow and change, because it makes my voice stronger, but it will always be my voice.
I've learned I can't write for other people.
I lose my voice when I worry about what others will think of my writing. My stories suffer and I end up dancing around words I'm afraid to write down.
The words stay in my head for far to long when I worry about what others will think of me.
I write for myself.
Why do you write?

Great Lines Think Alike

Every once in a while a line will pop into my head and I find myself needing to write it into a story. My most recent line: I will die a ...