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What is Needed Part 6

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Author’s Note: This is the conclusion of Part 2 of the prequel blog serial entitled “What is Needed”. Click on these links to read Part 1, Part 2 (first section)Part 2 (Conclusion), Part 3Part 4 and Part 5. This series is a companion to The Bow of Destiny (Part 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga). The events of the blog series pre-date those of The Bow of Destiny by several hundred years but include several long-lived characters who appear in the forthcoming novel. This material is copyrighted and not intended for reproduction except at the author’s consent.

What is Needed (Part 6)

by P. H. Solomon

The sun dangled between corona-rimmed clouds and the snow-capped peaks of the Grey Spires. Golden light bathed the path ahead of the three furtive shapes.

Troll-wolves howled and Hastra slipped into the shade between trees with Zelma and Howart. If only they could avoid the pursuit one last time. The Tower was just ahead if she remembered correctly. She pinched her lower lip and peeked along the old road.

Zelma’s breath puffed mist. “Is it still clear?”

Howart loomed in the shadow of the trees. “They aren’t as close as yesterday.”

“They make enough noise to scare everything for miles. But I don’t see any scouts so let’s go.” Hastra eased out of hiding onto the overgrown road and her two companions followed.

Her stomach rumbled but Hastra dared not call for a halt so she ate bread from her bag. Two weeks and the food’s still good though it was hard. She kicked a root and stumbled but Zelma steadied her.

At the head of the long rise Hastra spied the pile of weathered stone named the Old Tower. Where Withlings used to go to see and hear instruction or speak rituals. Now it was the dead end of the trap Kregen sprung around them. They staggered over the path against wind that snapped and swirled across the end of the headland that thrust into the booming sea.

Horns and Troll-wolves howled. Much closer now. “We must hurry now, sister.”

Zelma shivered as she walked, her eyes wide.

Hastra brushed hair from her face. Was she cold or afraid? The edifice loomed out of the gloom of dusk in the east. Distant lightning flashed across the Bay of Storms from the east and lit the roofless tower-top. It defied wind and weather. Gusts tugged at the low scrub-trees scattered around its feet. This isolated end of nowhere might be the end of them. If only Eloch…

The travelers hurried into the shadow of the Old Tower and took refuge from the blasts in a shallow alcove. Snippets of howling and horns broke through the roar of wind. Their pursuers were coming now. There was no escape. Hastra hugged herself but still shivered. “Now what?”

“I don’t know except go up.” Howart steadied himself with a trembling hand on the stone. He leaned against the wall, slid into a crouch and laid his head on scratched arms folded over his knees. A ragged sigh escaped from his thin lips. “Just need to rest a while.”

Hastra peered along the road. They were all spent and bound to die. She touched the death wound from which she’d risen. “What is needed is given.”

Horn blasts floated on the wind.

Zelma’s lips quivered and dark circles ringed her eyes above pale skin. Sprigs of her hair waved from beneath her gray hood. “They’re coming now.”

Hastra nodded. Even Zelma’s hair seemed faded. “They’ve found our scent. We can’t stay here long. If we are needed atop the tower then let’s climb.”

Soft sobs escaped from Zelma. “Then what?”

Hastra embraced her sister. “We’ll pray, Zelma. All will be well in the end. We’re here for a reason just because we’re still breathing when we should be weeks dead.”

Zelma forced a thin smile through her tears. “It will never be the same as it was, but perhaps we’ll see better atop the tower.”

Zelma’s hair fell across her face as she touched Howart’s head. The Grendonese man remained still. “He’s fallen asleep.”

Hastra’s head whipped around at the close sound of horns. “Trolls are near. It’s time.”

Zelma jumped and Howart started.

The gaunt man stood. “We must go and seek Eloch’s guidance.”

They scurried from the alcove and climbed the stairwell that wound around the tower’s girth. Wind flailed the surviving Withlings and the storm thundered in the bay as they fought for each ascending step. They ignored their weariness as horns sounded closer.

Hastra staggered. Surely they had time. She thrust her hands before her and pulled for the next step as rain pattered the stone.

Horns sounded closer along with hounds baying, clear and constant, as the din of pursuit carried over the wind. They grappled their way to the top and knelt with their cloaks twisting in the violent wind.

Snarls announced the arrival of trolls. The troll-wolves howled. Kregen’s voice rose in the wind. “Quickly, take them.”

Hastra raised her eyebrows to Howart and Zelma. There was fear on their faces. If only they could meditate in all the din. “Pretend it’s the Hall of Silence.”

Hastra shut her eyes and raised her hands. What is needed is given and she needed focus. She ignored the troll boots scraping on the steps. She breathed and reached for practiced calm. “Move in me, O Eloch.” She exhaled. Welcome warmth bloomed at the edge of her awareness and she waited rather than reach for it in conscious thought. Warmth swallowed her fear and grief.

Hastra’s eyes blinked open and shut as her usual trembling at the presence of Eloch took hold. Her arms shook and her body quaked. Zelma and Howart undulated like grass in the wind.

The clouds spun into a whirlwind that detached from main storm and churned toward the tower. Hastra closed her eyes. Calm as a sleeping babe. Indecipherable words erupted from her mouth.

The wind rumbled and drowned the clamor of troll horns and hounds. Hastra’s body stilled with the wind and her eyes opened. Light glowed in the spinning gust. They were protected from our enemy. Her arms dropped to her sides. She fell over and stared at the shape moving amid the light and whirlwind.

Beyond the silence within the whirlwind, Kregen cringed at the stairwell. He stretched out his arms and shouted unheard words. He shook his fist with a grimace and fled.

“You have come as children in need. Will you serve on?” The voice suffused Hastra with the rich whisper of peace and inexorable power.

Kregen’s offer rose with the flash of the knife. Hastra smiled as tears spilled from her eyes. “I will serve.” Zelma and Howart answered the same.

“Zelma Vorcinni, should you choose to follow, to you shall be given the task of protecting for long years that which shall come to you in time. You shall want for nothing, not even companionship in desolate places.”

“Howart Balto, should you choose to follow, to you shall be given the task of hiding against chaos what shall come to you after a while. No power of time or change shall pierce the bulwark about you in the midst of confusion.”

“Hastra Vorcinni, should you choose to go, to you shall be given the task of labor against innumerable foes, yet you shall find rest and plenty in the midst of want and danger.”

“And now, my children reach to me if you will come and be comforted and healed…”

At Eloch’s urging, the three Withlings stretched out their hands as one.

The whirlwind fell away.

Hastra rose on one elbow amid a grass covered field at dusk. “Zelma? Howart?” She sat alone with her bag that held her food and the Book of Prophecies.

End of Part 6

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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12 Things I Learned About Blogging This Year

Calendar1. Be consistent – most veteran bloggers advise new bloggers to be consistent and post regularly. I’ve learned this lesson well. I was inconsistent with my content but when I committed to the blog it started growing. Part of the reason is that the more content you have the more visits you get.

2. Work ahead – I’ve found that the more I work ahead the less stressful blogging is. If I’ve got several posts scheduled then I seem to churn out more content ahead of time. Also, in working ahead you may have several ideas in the works but you may find that the content just doesn’t work for some reason and you have time to replace it with something else.

3. Write your ideas down – if you are working ahead then you can keep writing your new ideas down. I use Scrivener to plan and write my posts. This way my ideas – good or bad – are in a central location where I can write them as necessary.

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

4. Double-check your schedule – several times I’ve found my posts weren’t published as I planned. I use the scheduler in WordPress but a few times I’ve left a post in draft mode by accident. Verify your scheduled posts are actually in the hopper and not waiting in line for publication. There’s nothing worse than losing several hours of a day for the post – or worse yet having tweeted something that hasn’t been released.

5. Make sure you’re using correct forms – I thought I was using a good “Follow this site” form but it wasn’t correct for my needs. I had much greater success getting email followers with my current form.

6. Anything can be a topic – I learned to keep my eyes open for any stray thought, headline or other piece of information for blog post ideas. A stormy topic may be just the thing for your blog as well as something many people use. If you learned something you can bet other people may be informed by it. Just don’t think it’s been written about and doesn’t need to be re-hashed. Your followers may not have read that information so your new learning curve may be helpful. Also, you can link to other sources as a way of sharing additional information. Look for ways to give you opinion about an issue and you may find that you have more followers – even if they disagree.

7. Don’t worry about what you don’t know – I hesitated about blogging because I was uncertain about the whole activity. I didn’t know that much and couldn’t gage how well I could do it. If you are a writer, it’s a great way to consistently produce words and an opportunity to…

8. Keep learning – by blogging you will learn more about blogging. You will learn more about SEO, attracting visitors with relevant topics and linking to other blogs. Likewise, you will learn about sharing ideas through interviews, hosting guest posts and book tours. Also you find…

Businessman Speaking Through Megaphone9. It builds creativity – by blogging often you will find that it sparks your creativity. You begin to write frequently so your mind generates ideas with greater frequency which also…

10. It enhances writing confidence – those old newspaper writers never had trouble with writer’s block. They churned out their content and went to the next story. Over time, they developed consummate confidence in their writing ability such that they wrote without much thought. If they chose to write a book, they did it. Start blogging and you’ll find there’s little time to tolerate a block. This very blog is one such example. I was looking for an idea for this day and it just popped into my head. I’ve written the content to this point in less than twenty minutes.

11. Link your site to as many social media channels as you can – I’ve linked my blog to send tweets and Google+ announcements. I also have my blog linked to my Author Page on Goodreads. There are any number of ways to do this with apps depending on how your hosted. I’m currently limited by being free hosted on WordPress but you can bet when I grow my site into self-hosting or more customized on WordPress I will link my blog in as many ways as I can find. The word of mouth is incredible. I have readers who link my posts over various forms of curation like Rebel Mouse or topical sites built on writer.ly.

12. Schedule social media communication – I use Hootsuite.com for scheduling my tweets about my blog as well as other announcements. Since I use a free account at the moment I’m limited with how many social media channels I use but do make use of them. I also schedule my posts to my Facebook page. I tweet my posts numerous times a day. Why? With a growing number of followers all over the world people won’t see just one or two tweets due to varying schedules so I must tweet multiple times a day. Likewise, I tweet some of my most popular posts regularly as well as keep my newer posts in my feeds for up to a week. People are busy so give them a chance to find your content.

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

What lessons have you learned from blogging? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

A New Author’s Year in Review Pt. 3

This is a continuation from Monday’s blog, The Serendipity of Christmas Generosity. It took time to get to the place where I was ready to commit to writing after the events described in my previous post. But that bit of serendipity certainly affected what I’ve done this past year as well as where I’m going next year. In Part 1 of this series I’ll revealed how I’ve progressed this year in several ways but now I want to get more specific starting with my email decisions. Part 2 covers my choices with email.

HammerAfter I obtained my domain registration and email address hosting, I then launched my website. I knew the site would be a work in progress which didn’t bother me too much. The one thing that gave me pause was blogging. I’d never blogged though I knew a little about it. I was hesitant to proceed with the activity.

But why would blogging leave me hesitant? After all, I am a writer. What left me with qualms was the amount of regular content I needed to produce. I didn’t think that I had what I needed to develop content frequently. What would I write about? What about the time commitment? My main concern was starting a blog and then doing nothing with it when it’s supposed to be an enhancement to my longer content.

I started with infrequent post but researched how to blog and what kind of topics I could share . Here’s where I made a mistake. I committed to that crowd-funding campaign too soon. I needed to build my blog with regular posts. True I could have blogged more during my campaign but because of the campaign I lacked focus for the task.

Once I completed the campaign, I took a look at my blog analytics. They were abysmal. Clearly I needed to address this. I made a commitment to myself to blog more frequently and try a variety of different types of posts. I started hosting blog tours more as Typingwell as engaging in a guest post. Re-blogging is now a regular element of my blog. I write more related to what I am doing and how. Along the way the blog grew by a great deal. It’s not a huge thing but growing is good.

Looking back on the last seven months, I’ve come to enjoy blogging and I’ve learned a great deal too. Now I post a blog Monday through Friday and have a Newsletter. I may not keep up this pace next year but I certainly have fewer concerns about blogging now that I’ve committed to it. I look forward to learning more about the activity this coming year. I’m also going to expand the types of posts to author interviews while continuing to host more blog tours and guest posts.

I plan to share more about the details of how I started, what I used and the reasons for my decisions – good and bad – in the coming weeks. I’ll also use another series to discuss my plans for the upcoming years and why I’m setting such goals. Along the way, I’m also planning to reveal what I hope will be a helpful Scrivener template related to all these issues and how I plan to move forward. Again, I’m sharing this for other new or floundering would-be authors so if you know someone giving a it a go as a writer please share my posts with them.

The Bow of DestinyHow did you start your blog? Do you struggle to produce content? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.