The Bow of Destiny

What is Needed – Part 2

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Author’s Note: This is Part 2 of the prequel blog serial entitled “What is Needed”. This series is a companion to The Bow of Destiny (Part 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga) as expanded writing samples for the concluded Indiegogo campaign for the novel. 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. Note: I’m releasing this part in sections so there will be more to read on Sunday.

 

What is Needed (Part 2)

by P. H. Solomon

 

Hands grasped Hastra. She screamed. It’s killing me! Her heart thudded in her ears. I’m dying. She stared into the blackness.

“Hastra!”

“Get it off me!”

Zelma’s face, ringed with light, replaced the darkness. “Sister, what’s wrong. You’ve fallen.” Tears brimmed in Zelma’s green eyes.

“It was here, a hobgoblin. It attacked me.” Broken crockery and ruined food lay strewn on the rough stone. Hastra groaned, lay back on the cold floor and grabbed her head. “Another vision?” Tears streamed on her cheeks. Breathe. Her chest heaved.

“What’s wrong?” Someone called. “Do you need help?”

Zelma helped Hastra sit up. “My sister is injured and fell.”

Someone stepped closer. “What do you need?”

“Howart? That’s Howart.” Hastra twisted and placed her back against the stone wall. The gaunt Withling stood in the pool of light at the corner.

Zelma coaxed Hastra to her feet. “Send a student to clean the mess and have another bring more food to our room. It’s second level, seventh door on the right. Hastra’s weak from her travels.”

“Can you get her to your room?”

Zelma nodded and displayed a weak smile. “What is needed is given.”

Hastra trained her voice to a low tone. “Good, I’m not ready to share visions yet.” There was no impression for action or meaning—yet. She winced when she put weight on her leg.

Howart frowned, nodded and left.

Hastra leaned on her sister as they hobbled away. They arrived at the stair and struggled at each step until they gained the next floor. Hastra hoped there was a prayer for her hip or she expectd being gimpy for a while. She sucked air through clenched teeth as her boot soles scraped on wooden stair.

“You’ve had visions?” Zelma huffed and grunted as Hastra pushed against her.

“Yes, the first knocked me off my horse and that’s how I got hurt. Thank Eloch, Kregen helped me.”

“Tell me what you’ve seen.”

Hastra shook her head. “Not here, not yet.”

They shambled to their door and Hastra hopped to her bed while Zelma closed the door.  The young woman rounded on Hastra with arms crossed and brow creased. “Tell me why this vision’s so secret in Withling’s Watch.”

Hastra rubbed her leg and related the exact details. “Darkness howled from the gate with a gust of wind and punched me from the saddle. There was fire-”

Zelma whirled at a feeble knock and snatched the door open. “Good, this is good. Is the floor cleaned?” The young Withling closed the door as the student mumbled an answer.

She handed the plate to Hastra who nibbled and waited as the student’s footsteps faded. She related the condition of the gates, the screams and everything else between mouthfuls of warm food. Zelma stood with her head cocked and the furrow between her eyebrows unwavering. She had Zelma’s attention now. Hastra paused, bit into her bread and chewed.

“And in the passage?” Zelma motioned in the direction of the stairwell.

“A second vision.” Hastra nodded with vigor. “Yes, on the heels of the first. A hobgoblin stepped out of a door and attacked me as darkness descended again.”

Zelma sat on her bed and leaned forward with her elbows braced on her knees. “That’s rather emphatic, two in one night.”

“But there’s more.”

“Ah, good you haven’t told me your impressions or inclinations. These are pivotal to interpretation.”

Hastra frowned and set her plate aside. “That’s just it. I have none.”

Zelma leaned further forward. “Nothing at all? There must be something.”

Hastra brushed crumbs from her skirt. “It’s like an empty well. It should have water but the bucket brings nothing up.”

“You need to write it in the Book of Prophecies. Someone else will know what it is for, what the interpretation is.”

An edge crept into Hastra’s tone. “Didn’t you hear me? I have nothing from Eloch instructing me what to do, not even that.”

“Then maybe it’s not real. If I didn’t know better I’d say you were…” Zelma fell silent and lowered her head.

“What, crazy?”

Zelma displayed a weak smile. “Perhaps over-worked. You said yourself you pushed to return before the winter snows.”

“I’ve only been allowed to tell you this. There is warning and likely danger but it is not to be spread, at least not yet.”

Zelma stood and opened the door.

“Where are you going? Give me something more since I’ve been allowed to share this with you.”

“I have. Enter your visions in the book or go to sleep and forget them. Either way I’m due to say prayers.”

The first snow of winter blew drifts in the courtyard for three days and Hastra’s leg ached worse each day. She left her haggard reflection in the mirror and shuffled with Zelma to prayer on the morning after the snow ended.She refrained cursing the stairs on the arduous descent to the main floor. Stray words meant to her and all Withlings.

Other Withlings milled outside the chapel. Someone in the crowd laid a hand on Hastra’s arm. She paused at an old man in a felt hat. Hastra bobbed her head for a better view of the stranger’s face but got none in the morning shadows.

Zelma kept walking. She waved at one of her friend’s and turned to Hastra. “Stay here, I’ll be right back.”

Hastra nodded with a grimace as she rounded on the other Withling. “Good morning, I don’t think I know you.” Hastra avoided putting weight on her injured leg.

“We’ve met.” The old man waved his hand.

Hastra glimpsed a twinkle in his eye just under the brim. “I just don’t remember—perhaps it’s the hat?”

“You need that hip healed. May I?” Without waiting her consent, he reached around her and touched her lower back and spoke words Hastra didn’t quite understand.

The pain dispelled in a moment.

Hastra sighed. “That’s a relief. Thank you.”

The old Withling nodded with a wisp of a smile.

Hastra didn’t find Zelma close. Where’s Zelma? There’s a message in that injury and the timing. She wheeled back to ask her healer’s name again. And he’s gone. Hastra brushed past the three smiling sisters from Grendon. What are their names? Zelma’s hair blazed in the crowd where it thrust from beneath her head scarf.

“There you are, sister. I’ve gotten a healing this morning.” Hastra flexed her painless leg.

“Who?” Zelma’s head swayed as she searched the crowd.

“I didn’t recognize him but he’s wearing an old, wide-brimmed hat.” Hastra sat on a wooden bench beside Zelma.

“In here?”

“Oh, he’s probably left it outside.” Someone cleared their voice as the morning cantor started prayers.

Halfway through the intonation Hastra’s head rose before she remembered herself and bowed again. She’d serve in the Hall of Silence until she had more direction. Her smile grew throughout the end of the prayer as the dour mood of several, painful days crumbled from her face like melting ice.

 ***

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 on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading.

P. H. Solomon

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What Changed My Writing – For The Better

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

When I started writing again after a number of years hiatus, I was unsure what I had to say let alone how much I could get done. Years ago, when I started writing there was no computer explosion and all the software. When I first finished the original version of my book there was more computerized tools but not much and the internet was certainly not so big and filled with so many resources. I needed to find out what I could do and find out what I had to say.

What did I do? I joined a writing email list to observe what people were doing about getting words written. I followed without a commitment and used a journal for a month to see how many words I could write. I believe I wrote over thirty thousand which was an eye-opener. Now it wasn’t anything specific but it gave me an idea of what I could do strictly using a computer. So journaling gave me a benchmark for what I could do.

But I still didn’t fully commit to writing like I needed.

When I finally did commit and started building my author platform my writing productivity began to change again. Why? Short answer: blogging. With blogging I needed to regularly create content. The problem wasn’t how many words I needed to write but ideas.

After a shaky start with ideas, I began to string together ideas. Then I was able to start churning out blog posts more regularly.

But how has this affected my fiction writing? As I began to generate ideas for blogging I was also jogging my creativity. As a result, I began to come up with ideas for short stories, novel and non-fiction books. What a big plus!

With blogging there was an added bonus. I got that much faster at developing and writing content. The less complex posts I can finish in about an hour. More complex blogs really don’t take that long to write instead it’s the research and other ideas that take up time.

WritingHere are a few tips from what I’ve learned:

1. Write regularly – this is a tip that is frequently used but often has little elaboration. In my opinion, write often whether it is for publication or not.

2. Use a journal – it grows your confidence about expression in a low pressure format and it also contributes to idea generation.

3. Try blogging more regularly if you don’t already – it hones your creativity and productivity so you become more proficient as a writer.

4. Make a commitment to your writing – if you are reluctant to push yourself to increase your content productivity you aren’t likely to publish much.

I don’t know where I’ll end up with my writing. However, I have made strides that I never imagined I would even six months ago.

If you blog, has it helped your writing? What commitments could you make to improve your writing? 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 yesterday so take a look.

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

Complete DIY Self-Publishing Pt. 4: The Cover

This is the third part of a series about self-publishing a short e-book as a completely DIY project. Part 1 introduced why you should consider trying to self-publish on your own at least once. Part 2 dealt with some of the tools you will need to gather at some point to accomplish the project. Part 3 addressed the importance of formatting and using the tool of a style guide.

ToolboxVisual Affect and the Cover

The cover of a book may be one of the most important elements in the digital world. A weak cover can dull sales. However, with a smaller project the cover presents some difficulty since the project may not have the budget for a top-end cover. It’s at this point you may consider spending some money on a photo which you can use to develop into a cover. Personally, I went with a photo from iStockPhoto.com but I’ve also written about more sites too (this post was about using free photos for blog posts but these sites should have terms for buying photos for re-use as a cover).

Making the Cover

Once you’ve chosen a suitable photo as the basis of your cover, you’re ready to being working it. Here’s how my process went for The Black Bag.

1. I got in my toolbox and pulled out PowerPoint and created a slide with the photo.

2. Next I create text boxes and added my Title, by-line and additional information.

3. Save the file as a PowerPoint file (.pptx file extension).

4. Next re-save it with “Save As” and choose the .jpg (IMPORTANT: when prompt whether to save all slides or just the current one, choose just the current one).

That’s it for the basic cover.

HammerThe Final Touch

At this point, I had cover ready. However, my original was the incorrect size to up load so it needed some work. This required some photo editing to change the size of the photo. To handle this job, I went to another tool to handle the photo-editing: Gimp. I’m not an expert on this task so this article better explains how to re-size a photo using Gimp. It’s not a very hard process and when you’ve completed this your cover is ready unless you need to make some changes to the cover such as text size (make sure you can see this in thumbnail view of the file on your computer).

More Cover Resources

Need a little more information about covers before tackling this part of the project?

Rayne Hall discusses best practices with covers in her book: Why Does My Book Not Sell?

Here’s an article that shows in detail the process of using PowerPoint to create a cover.

Don’t have PowerPoint and want to use only free software for making your cover? This article shows how to use Gimp exclusively.

Not interested in using Gimp? Try free online Photoshop and watch this video.

My own cover is just below.

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

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

Have you tried making your own cover? Please share your thoughts 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 anew 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 on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading.

P. H. Solomon

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

Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.