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What is Needed – Part 1

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Author’s Note: This is Part 1 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 current 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. Please read this post and consider supporting the fundraiser. To learn more about The Bow of Destiny campaign click the provided link. This material is copyrighted and not intended for reproduction except at the author’s consent.

 

What is Needed (Part 1)

by P. H. Solomon

 

Withling’s Watch squatted in shadow as the dregs of sunlight dwindled behind the Gray Spires. Hastra’s head bobbed with the motion of her mare’s hoof-dragging gait. It’s good to come home. She yawned. I long to see Zelma. Hastra’s stomach rumbled. But first some food. The expansive stone building loomed out of the dusk as the horse climbed the cobblestoned incline to the walled keep where lights flickered in windows and smoke puffed from chimneys.

Cold wind gusted from the eastern flanks of the mountains and flung Hastra’s fur-lined cloak in wild contortions. She tugged the garment under control, held it one-handed against another blast and gripped the reins in her other hand. She chuckled. I’m awake now. Her teeth chattered. We’re a house of mystics and miracles but even we suffer the winter and hunger. The Withling’s stomach growled again.

Horseshoes rang on the road as lamps in the gatehouse cast a pool of light in the gloom. Hastra pulled her cloak tighter and lifted her head. It’s threatened snow all day and night comes fast below these peaks. She gasped at the gatehouse after she returned her attention to the road. The lights are out and the keep is dark. Her eyes narrowed. The wrought-iron gates stood ajar and listed like a ship in a gale. She pulled reins and the mare halted with a snort.

The wind howled and exploded past the squealing gateway. Shadow slammed into Hastra and she fell off the mare. Screams of terror and snarls of violence echoed from the courtyard. Fire belched from the darkness and roared past her. The mingled voices fell silent while gusts moaned like ghosts from the desolate square.

Boots clattered on the stone pavement.

Hastra recoiled and gasped as a figure distilled from the gloom. Her hand fumbled for her belt-knife. “Who’s there?” The Withling blinked and the spectral gloom faded.

“Hastra? It’s me, Kregen.” The Rokan Withling trotted to Hastra’s aide with light streaming behind him. He extended his arms. “You fell off your horse. Are you ill or just tired? Are you injurded?”

The Withling stammered for words. He looks like a vulture stooping over a corpse with that bald head and hooked nose. “I’ve had a…” She stifled her tongue in sudden wariness. Best not speak of a vision too soon. “I must’ve nodded off a moment. I’ve pushed hard to return before the snow.”

“Can you stand? Here, let me help you.” Kregen clasped hands with Hastra as she climbed to her feet.

“Just bruised, I think.” She rubbed her injured hip.

Kregen released Hastra. “You’re young, that’ll heal soon enough unless Eloch instructs someone to heal you.”

“Yes, perhaps.” Hastra blinked at her surroundings. Light glimmered from the gatehouse and the gates stood open and whole. Lanterns gleamed in the courtyard while lamps or candles glistened from the keep’s windows. She turned and found nothing behind her except the mare and the gathering night. That was a vision but of what? She arched an eyebrow and shifted her gaze over her surroundings again.

Kregen gathered the mare’s reins. “Come warm up in the gatehouse. I’ll have your horse taken to the stable.”

Hastra limped beside the Rokan who held her arm and led her mare. That vision came with neither instruction nor other impressions. She grimaced at her hip and stepped into the gatehouse as stray snowflakes fluttered on the night wind.

“Noe, please see that mare over to the stable. It should be curried and fed.” Kregen motioned to the door and the young student scurried out the door on the assigned errand. “Is anything wrong, Hastra?”

Hastra stood at the door. The gates leaned on the hinges in that vision. She rubbed her chin.

Kregen touched her shoulder. “Hastra?”

“Hmm? Oh, I’m fine. Just a bump.” Hastra released her frown and smiled. Those gates, the dilapidated keep in darkness. It was abandoned after the screams and fire. She shivered but not from the night chill. “I’ll go up to dinner. Can the boy bring my baggage?”

“As you wish, there should be food on the table even now. I’ll send him around later with your bag.”

Hastra nodded and hobbled into the courtyard as her brows furrowed. I’ll speak with Zelma, maybe pray and write it in the book for others to inspect. She winced as she climbed the steps to the door. The Withling turned at the top and found the courtyard dappled in light and dark. Kregen’s head drew back into the gatehouse. He was watching me. By those narrowed eyes he guessed more happened than I let on. Hastra frowned again and opened the main door of the stone keep and entered. Wind snuffed lit candles by the door.

“Who’s that?” The doorkeeper stepped out of the shadows and held a covered lamp aloft. “Hastra! Welcome back to Withling’s Watch. I’m sorry to discomfort you with candles at the door but I’m still lighting lamps.”

“No bother, I just fell outside is all, Zeld.” The familial hooked nose of Kregen’s brother cast an odd shadow on his face as he lit a lamp by the door. Hastra tugged her gloves off her hands and held them folded in one hand.

“Do you need help? You look pained by the fall.”

“No, I just want food.” Hastra removed her cloak and draped it over her forewarm.

Zeld motioned across the cavernous entry-hall. “Well there are plenty of our fellow Withlings still sitting at the table. I should like to hear of your journey when you have the time.”

Hastra flashed a brief smile and nodded. “We can speak on the morrow. Good night.” Zeld bowed as she limped away across the marble floor. This vaulted ceiling leaves this place too cold. It’s too proud for our humble order. She grunted at her halting stride. All safe until the end of the journey. Candle flames fluttered as she entered the passage leading to the dining hall. Muffled murmurs transformed to tangled conversations as Hastra entered the dining hall.

She stood in the doorway as the wave of voices washed away her silent journey. The Withling shuffled among her fellow mystics. Scents of roasted meats and spiced vegetables tickled her nose and her stomach grumbled. If only I can find Zelma. She should hear of this vision. There’s frizzy, red hair down that row of tables. Hastra waved. “Zelma!”

The din of the clattering crockery and chattering mystics drowned Hastra’s call. She hobbled along the aisle and met a familiar face. “Howart, greetings!”

“Hastra? Have you returned on the wings of a night-bird?” The Grendonese switched the pitcher he carried to his left hand and offered his right in greeting. “What is needed…”

“Is given. Yes, but my owl walked the whole way.” Hastra rubbed her sore haunch as Howart laughed. This bruise was given for a reason so don’t linger. “I must speak to Zelma if you will excuse me.” The gaunt Withling nodded as she stepped away among the trestle-tables.

Hastra picked Zelma’s voice from the mingled voices. “Zelma!” Hastra waved her gloves over her head as she approached.

The freckled face with receding chin and prominent nose turned toward Hastra. A moment of arched eyebrows and thin lips parted changed into wide eyes and grinning. “Hastra!” The young woman scrambled over the bench and jostled her companions with apologies. “Sister, you’ve come with the night.” Zelma hugged Hastra, drew back and touched her cheeks. “You cold. Come warm yourself and I’ll fetch you a plate of food.”

“But I need to speak with you.”

“You can tell me all about the negotiations after you’re warm and full.”

Zelma found space for the two of them on the bench and hurried a plate to Hastra piled with steaming food and warm bread. The others eating around them welcomed the returning Withling.

“Has the snow started?” Sila, the Shildran, handed Hastra a cup of water.

“Flakes fell as I entered the gate.” Hastra drank. I’m thirstier than I knew. She smacked her lips as the dryness washed away.

“Is Last Landing at peace now?”

“Oh, you know it is. Hastra sent word with the bird weeks ago.” Zelma shouldered her way onto the bench next to Hastra with a grin and an expectant glance at her sister’s food.

“What is needed is given.” The other’s around them mumbled the saying with Hastra. My voice sounds smoother after the water. She shifted near her younger sister and lowered her voice. “I really need to speak with you, Zelma.”

“Eat first.” Zelma offered Hastra bread.

“I can take the plate with me but I must tell you fresh news.”

Zelma’s pale green eyes shifted between the food and Hastra’s furrowed brow. The young woman’s head tilted and her smile faded. “As new as when?”

Hastra leaned close again. “Now, at the gate.”

“Well, fine. We can go to our room I suppose.”

The sisters rose and excused themselves from those sitting near them. Hastra took her plate and followed Zelma among the tables with a wince. The hip’s so tight in those few moments. I’ll need someone’s prayers if healing is given. They exited into a narrow side-hall with fewer lamps shining against the darkness.

Zelma turned back and gasped. “You’re limping!”

“Now you notice.”

The younger woman’s gaze lowered to the floor. “Don’t scold me, you’ve just returned.”

“You’re right, dear, of course. I’m tired, hurting and hungry.” She patted her sister’s clasped hands.

“You could have eaten in the hall. What’s so urgent?”

They resumed walking and turned down another passage with less lights than the last. Zelma’s mass of wild hair flamed red even in the gloom.

“I fell off my horse when…”

The candles faded. A snake-faced hobgoblin stepped out of a darkened door by Hastra. The troll drew a curved sword. She uttered a wordless shout and dropped her plate. Hastra thrust her hands at the creature. She stumbled on her sore leg as shadow descended. The hobgoblin’s dark eyes glittered malevolence. A merciless grin spread wide and revealed discolored fangs.

“No.” Hastra’s senses failed as the sword whistled at her. Darkness snuffed her thoughts.

End of Part 1 (Part 2 will be posted within a week)

Comments are welcome so please leave them below. See my Contact page for information on how to connect with me or follow the blog by email. Visit my Indiegogo campaign for more information and help support the novel’s publication.

Thanks for reading!

PHS

Quick Tip: YouTube for Authors

Need to get more use out of YouTubeLogo

When I was preparing my video for The Bow of Destiny campaign on Indiegogo several weeks ago I haphazardly uploaded my material without thinking too much about YouTube and the channel I was presenting. Since I don’t intend to post large amounts of video I just didn’t see the value. But like most social media this it is a fallacy to underestimate the value of any service. I was focused on the project and thought little of what I could do.

Tip #1: Even if you are working on a project and getting into a new social media platform stop and learn a few things.

Tip #2: Link as much as you can to your channel. I recently went back to my channel and linked as much of my other social media channels into YouTube so people can see what I’m up to easily. Many people are not on every type of social media or they don’t visit their accounts everyday so the information is beneficial to them and you to better connect.

Youtube Links

How do you add all your information? On your channel click on the About tab and there you can add all the links you want so you can make it easy for all those high-visual folks to find and connect with you elsewhere.

Youtube_About

Tip #3: I found it best to link my channel with my Google+ account even though I don’t use it that often (though I’m working that more now too).

What tips do you have for YouTube usage? How are you leveraging the this channel for writing? Share your thoughts below.

Remember blog followers via email receive a FREE copy of my ebook short story, The Black Bag – just click to sign-up! See my Contact & News pages to connect with me on other social media venues.

8 Crowdfunding Tips

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

The crowdfunding campaign for The Bow of Destiny began this week on Indiegogo. This led me to some tips I wanted to share since this blog is largely about my ongoing growth as an author. So here’s some of what I’ve learned so far. Please read and visit the campaign site to provide your support!

1. Make sure you are ready to receive funds.

In my case I created a new PayPal account but did not complete setting it up. Likewise, Indiegogo had requirements for campaigns that I didn’t know about. Both of these issues delayed me some and it’s possible limits what I can receive (which I am confirming and working out on both sides). Read carefully about the instructions and explore the site.

Perks2. Make affordable funding levels.

I received a lot of views and referrals the first day but no contributions. Now this may be due to some PayPal-Indiegogo issues but I added a few funding levels that are low impact on wallets which is important these days.

3. Continue growing your social media platform.

Don’t let the number of your followers become stagnant. If anything you need to be more aggressive in pursuing followers to increase your reach. Always encourage others to share your campaign with their followers too.

4. Have some automated social media messages ready.

You don’t want to be writing social media messages all the time and you need to get your message out often because on busy feeds people just miss your announcements without knowing it. Use an automation service since you may be busy with any number of inquiries, changes or problems that may arise – and you want to do something else sometimes.

Campaign5. Don’t panic if it starts slowly.

See above – there may be problems so just keep on moving in the same direction and if anything tweak your overall message, keep growing your following and keep getting the message out.

6. Keep posting updates regularly.

The more you get your message out the more likely you are to be featured. Include services like Indiegogo in your tweets and other posts because they track these types of activity in addition to your funding level. Everything helps and if your are featured that means more reach for your campaign.

7. If receiving private messages to offer resources & services check them out well.

When receiving offers of service, interviews or other offers of assistance check them out. They may be legit and they may not but some due diligence will go a long way to avoiding any trouble or overspending your budget. Make sure you know the terms of anything and don’t give out private information thinking that someone is helping when they may not be. Someone may take advantage of any initial euphoria from conributions or from desperation over no contributions. Think clearly and remember to keep going ahead.

8. Don’t hover & don’t walk away.

You cannot just stay in front of the screen watching – it will drive you crazy. You get excited and wonder what will happen or nothing happens and you watch and wait for anything. If nothing is happening don’t abandon hope, keep working, be willing to be fluid in your approach – just don’t sit watching the paint dry. Do not give up and stop all work. Stay in it to the end – bitter or sweet.

Do you have tips or comments regarding crowdfunding? Do you have questions about the subject? Please leave comments below and see my campaign and help make my project a success with your support.

Share a comment below and also consider following this blog via email for a FREE copy of The Black Bag. I’m on Facebook, Twitter (@ph_Solomon), Pinterest & Google+ (ph@phsolomon.com).

Thanks for reading!

PHS