Practice (Part 3)

If you’d like to catch-up with the story, here are the links to Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

Please note that this has some adult content and situations. Not safe for work. Yes, this is very different than my normal work. Trying something new. If it’s not your thing, no worries. Regular blog will commence after the next post.

 

Except, I pulled it.

I am a romance writer. Being a romance writer (usually) means writing steamy scenes. I aim for at least three solid scenes in a book. I use purplish prose, yes, but not so much that the reader doesn’t know exactly what’s going on.

I hadn’t considered that this is a “G” rated site and a steamy scene is a solid PG-13.

I can assure you there are lots of steamy scenes in my books. I actually study them in books where I think they are particularly well done to learn. Some pretty enjoyable studying, gotta say.

If anyone is interested in the last two scenes, let me know and I can see about getting them to you.

In lieu of this post (and as I race to replace Wednesday’s post), here’s a picture of the turkey that “escorted” me on my walk at lunch today. He normally has four or five female turkeys with him, but they were nowhere to be seen. He did make some turkey noises that sounded nothing like gobbling, and I heard some scrabbling in the woods beside me, so maybe he was warning them about me.

Turkeys are much bigger on the walkway in front of you than they are out the window of your car!

Four Things You Can Learn from Romance Novels Even If You Hate Them

Sadly, I’ve seen  a lot of people say they hate romance novels since joining social media. Some even proclaiming romance has no place in movies or television. When pressed for the reason why, it tends to come back to “I never get the guy/girl, so I don’t want to see someone who’s got everything get him/her.”

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A part of me says welcome to Hollywood. I can’t think of the last movie I saw where the heroine wasn’t amazingly beautiful, thin, and with perfect hair.

This is why I love romance novels. There the heroines come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The heroes, too. Depending one what you read, cowboys, bikers, and billionaires are all there. So are teachers, dragons, and knights. seriously, whatever you particular interest is, there is someone out there writing it. But, you have to look.

Here’s something I’m not sure the people saying they hate romance because it doesn’t work for them realize. Their very words are a red flag for anyone they may be interested in having a relationship with. Why? Because this hints at the fact they think they’re owed a relationship, owed love, and probably owed sex. These might not be their real thoughts, but in a world where one out of five women are victims of sexually assault, I’d wary.

Think about that for one moment. One out of five. Think of five women you know, and statistically, one of them has been hurt this way. I have no idea what a comparable situation is for a man, so I won’t try. But yeah, it’s a lotta women’s worst nightmare. I often wonder how many men walk to their car after dark with their keys between their fingers “just in case”.

The reasons are not part of this post, but it does give an insight into the world we live in today. But, it’s not the world women want. Hence, romance novels. It’s an escape. An idealization. A way to explore love and sexuality in a non-threatening way. A way for the reader to know things are going to turn out okay in the end for the heroine, even if they don’t always in real life.

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of things that can be learned from romance novels. Here are a few.

1.Get past the Trappings – this is probably harder for men who are more visually stimulated than women. Yes, the guys in the stories are usually attractive. Just like the women in the movies and on TV. But the women aren’t always, or at least not in the current accepted fashion. Either way, most romance novels don’t dwell on it. Sometimes, neither the hero or heroine is attractive in the traditional way. In one of my favorite contemporary romance novels, the hero was a somewhat dorky Princeton professor.

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2. Common Interests – Most of the characters in a story have some sort of common interest that brings them together. Horses. International spy rings. Vampire hunters. Customizing motorcycles. Pick your reason. In most novels, they don’t sort of bump into each other at a nightclub and just hit it off. This is playing to fantasy, and there are as many kinds of heroes and their interests as can be imagined. Some of the people I’ve heard complain about romance novels make me wonder if trolling in their interest. Probably not the best interest if you want to meet a significant other, but I bet there’s a romance novel out there somewhere with that in it. In the story about the Princeton professor, the thing the hero and heroine shared was a love of books. In a romance novel. Go figure.

3. Listening – It’s such a  tired cliché that men don’t listen, but it’s become cliché for a reason. In romance novels, the hero listens to the heroine. Learns she’s scared of vampires because they ate her little brother or whatever. This can have a huge impact in the story when later he later understands why she’s frozen with fear when the normally heroic vampire hunter sees a vampire about to gobble a child. If he hadn’t listened? No chance to understand. Same thing in the real world. My husband listened to me and knows I’m terrified of spiders because a brown recluse bit my sister and it necrotized the skin on her leg. (I won’t post a picture here, but here’s a link to what it looks like). So killing spiders without question and without making me feel bad has helped our relationship. In the book I referenced above, the professor listened and understood the heroine’s issues with her controlling mother. This helped bring them together.

4. If you listen in the living room, you’re more likely to listen in the bedroom – There’s a lot of research out there that says women are just as sexual as men when the woman thinks she’s also going to get an orgasm. I have yet to read a romance novel where the woman wasn’t brought to orgasm. The path to her fulfilled desire may seem unrealistic to me, but it’s always the end result. In some novels, there will even be scenes where the hero holds off on his own pleasure to make sure she gets hers. In the real world, I know women do it for men. So, I’m not surprised in a romance novel, roles change. Shouldn’t be too surprising that women want pleasure, too.

 

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Are all romance novels good? That’s like asking are all action movies good. Are all science fiction books good. Are all TV shows good. Different people like different things, and some clearly just suck. Mystery Science 3000 made a show out of how bad some movies can be.

Also, romance novels change along with society. What sold to repressed women in the 1950s is not what sold in the 1980s or what sells now. More recent ones show more current fantasies. And as with everything, quality varies dramatically from author to author. Sometimes book to book.

But the good is out there.

 

What do you think? Think you can learn something from romance novels or am I full of bunk? Me being wrong is always an option. Is there something I’m missing? Something you’d add?

To Catch a Dragon (Part 1)

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As I’ve been working through my novels, I ocassionally take my characters on a “test drive” in different scenarios to see how they’d handle them, if there’s any chemistry, etc. I thought I’d share some of those on the blog. Let’s me do some character development, and gives you some (hopefully) fun short stories.

As always, comments are welcome.
To Catch a Dragon

Ndrek sat behind the bar, sizing up each of his mid-afternoon customers. Some had started drinking early, others had rented a room for the night and were just starting their day. Boredom itched.

Now was as good a time as any to start work on the new spell he’d discovered.

As he slid off his stool, the door to the bar opened and the man that entered had to stoop to get under the doorframe. His shoulders matched his height, and the gold dragon on his breastplate seemed to glow in the dim light.

The archetype for the Knights of Valor.

Sir Leopold grimaced at the sticky floor.

“To what do I owe this…” Ndrek paused. “Honor?”

The Knight leaned against the bar, his back to the wall as his faded blue eyes surveyed the tap room. “Don’t believe for a minute you’ve settled down as a barkeeper.”

“That is not what brought a High-Knight to my humble establishment. Perhaps you came for a Fire and Brimstone? My establishment is said to make the very best.”

Leopold looked at the pristine glasses behind the counter. “At least those are clean.”

“Too much cleanliness would scare away my best customers.”

Leopold’s eyes narrowed. “Not what I came to see you about, though I probably should.”

“What has brought you here?”

The Knight reached into his cloak and withdrew a sheaf of papers imprinted with the wax seal of the dragon church.

“A writ?”

“Interested?”

Ndrek sucked in a breath as he looked at the sealed documents. “You have an army of Knights blessed by Dracor Himself. Why would you have need of me?”

“We’ve been issuing more of them lately. Not enough Knights to oversee all of Tamryn and the eastern provinces.”

“Then you need more Knights.”

“That’s up to Dracor,” Leopold said.

Ndrek bit back his quip about fickle gods.

“Figuring you’re getting bored about now. This’ll keep you busy and out of trouble. Pay’s not bad either.”

Ndrek grinned and took the papers, but he frowned as he read them. “This is a goose chase, as you Tamarians say. Dragons have been extinct since before men walked these lands.”

“Locals of Kelleran don’t agree with that assessment.”

“A dragon.” Ndrek rocked back on his heels as he tried to wrap his brain around the thought. “Are you sure?”

“Nope, but that’s where you come in.”

“Would not the followers of the Dragon God Dracor wish to be first on the scene?”

“Already sent a contingent of Knights.”

“Let me guess. They did not return?”

“Of course they did. They didn’t see any dragons, and they didn’t find any proof that there’d ever been any.”

“Then why send me?”

“Found a few things that made some folks worry there might’ve been a dragon. Knights couldn’t tell if it was real or a hoax.”

“Would not the Knights know this best?”

“Dracor might take the form of a dragon, but dragons are magical beasts.”

“No wizard was with the team you sent?”

Sir Leopold shook his head.

“So you think I will be able to tell for sure.”

“That’s the reasoning, anyway.”

Ndrek looked at the bundle of papers, including the generous payout. Far more interesting than tending bar.

Sir Leopold pushed off the bar. “I’ll send Knight Kailis over. She was on the original expedition. And Priestess Vaiya.”

“Was she on the original expedition as well?’

“No, but I figure if you find a dragon, you might want the healing skills of Priestess of Thalia on your side.”

Ndrek frowned. “You think there might actually be a dragon.”

“Doesn’t much matter what I think. It’s what you find that counts. I’ll send Knight Kailis over in the morning.”

Ndrek watched the High-Knight leave and looked down at the papers in his hands.

If Sir Leopold thought it was a goose chase, he wouldn’t be sending Ndrek, a Knight, and a Priestess of Thalia to investigate.

Sir Leopold hadn’t become a High-Knight by being wrong.

 

Loving a Mage Lord: 3

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2.

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Dryden ignored the stares as he charged into the ballroom only to find Lord Caewyn leading the red-haired woman to the dance floor.

Perhaps the young elf lord wasn’t a fool, or he recognized the benefits of Lady Escadia’s title, wealth, and connections.

The archmage doubted Caewyn could appreciate her magic.

Even now, Dryden felt the whisper of it across his flesh. More seductive than the finest courtesan and more alluring than a book of arcane secrets.

Jealousy pricked him as the red-haired elf smiled up at Caewyn. Dryden frowned. Such emotion was unworthy of an archmage, especially in response to someone he was considering as an apprentice.

Yet, there it was. Foolish to deny it, but more foolish to embrace it.

He had to tread carefully. Escadia’s mother was an archmage in her own right, and while she’d married into the Lockheart line, it was well known that she had plans for her daughter. Plans many suspected that included a royal marriage.

Dryden paid little attention to politics, but he knew the woman dancing with Caewyn deserved better than anything Melisandre had planned.

He had to learn more, to gauge if her magic was as strong as it felt.

The archmage crossed his arms and waited until the music ended before approaching Caewyn and his dance partner.

“Mage Lord Dryden,” Caewyn said and dipped his head. “My family is honored you’ve joined us this evening.”

“I thank you for the invitation.” Dryden barely glanced at Caewyn as his gaze fixed on the young woman beside the elven lord.

“Allow me to present Aenwyn Dawnsky.”

A frown creased Dryden’s brow. “Aenwyn Dawnsky? You’re not Lady Escadia?”

“She’s up there,” Aenwyn said, motioning towards a beautiful raven-haired elf that had a large circle of gentlemen around her. “Would you like me to introduce you to her?”

Caewyn stiffened, but Dryden waved away the offer. “I will leave her to Lord Caewyn and his ilk. It’s you I wish to see.”

Her hand trembled on Caewyn’s sleeve, and the young lord laid his over top of hers. “Aenwyn is needed to chaperone Lady Escadia.”

“Lady Escadia is quite capable of chaperoning herself. But if you insist, than you can introduce me to the duchess. I’m sure she’ll be less-than-pleased to spend the evening with me, but I’ll tolerate her for Aenwyn’s company.”

Aenwyn smiled up at Lord Oakenvale. “Go see Escadia, and remember what I told you.”

“I can’t leave you alone with him.”

“You can, and you will.”

“He’s an archmage.”

“I’m Escadia’s companion.” She squeezed Caewyn’s hand. “I’ve dealt with worse than him. Besides, you need to work on what we discussed.”

Caewyn frowned. “If you’re sure…”

“I am. Now please, before he draws any more attention to us.”

Caewyn glared at Dryden. “You will, of course, be a gentleman. I’ll consider it a personal offense if you’re anything less.”

Dryden’s brows winged up, but he nodded once.

Caewyn sucked in a breath, squeezed Aenwyn’s hand, then disappeared into the crowd.

Dryden stared after the elven lord a moment then up at Escadia. “Fool’s in love with her.”

“He’s not a fool,” Aenwyn said.

“I suppose she’s beautiful, wealthy, and has a modicum of magic. Not entirely a poor choice.”

“And she doesn’t care a whit what society thinks of her, can be generous to a fault, and would stand up for someone she cares about, even against an archmage.”

“Love has no place in noble marriages.”

“You sound like Escadia.”

“Perhaps she’s more intelligent than I thought.”

Aenwyn’s eyes narrowed. “Or you’re both wrong.”

“You believe in love?”

“The twin goddesses of love are just real as Ionex or Dracor. Perhaps if more elves believed in Them, we wouldn’t be faced with a rapidly declining population.”

Dryden arched a brow at her, and a smile curved his lips, one that reached his eyes. “Walk with me in the gardens. We need to discuss your apprenticeship.”

 

Loving a Mage Lord: 2

It’s Friday!  As promised, here’s the next post of the story started here.

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Dryden cursed as he pushed through the crush of silk-clad guests. What had convinced him to study Duchess Escadia Lockheart in her “natural” environment?

While possession by a demon of Rashallee seemed the most logical reason, the truth was he didn’t believe Escadia was nearly as gifted in magic as the Mage Council thought. Before he accepted her as an apprentice, he needed to see her true capabilities when she didn’t know he was looking for them.

He wasn’t about to be saddled with another politically connected but unskilled apprentice. Not when the Night of Ursius was within two solar cycles.

The archmage couldn’t waste any more time with idiots and dabblers. He had to find a true wizard. Not just capable, but gifted. Someone that could help him channel and mold the raw power they’d need to complete the spell. And he had to find them soon.

Two nobles pranced past wearing ridiculous mage robes strewn with jewels and embroidery. He doubted either could cast more than a rudimentary spell, and their personal wards were lackadaisical.

Snorting in disgust, Dryden had no doubt why the Elven empire was crumbling. They were too busy playing wizard to train as one. They spent their time longing for what was lost rather than doing the hard things that were needed.

Might be heresy to even think such a thing, but Dryden knew the humans could teach his people a lot about getting things done.

He sucked in a breath, and the archmage grimaced and buried his nose in his sleeve. The thick scent of too much perfume, poorly crafted magical wards, and sweet wine was amplified by the heat of a thousand bodies.

At least Lord Oakenvale’s cavernous ballroom accommodated the crowd. From the gilded crystal chandeliers, to the rare orchids in jeweled vases, and the heavy marble floors, it was designed for ostentation and massive gatherings.

Good thing, as it appeared half the elven nobility was at the ball.

Dryden reinforced his personal wards. Even at the edge of gathering, he felt exposed.

By Ionex’s third eye, how he longed for the quiet of his tower. The birdsong. The wind. The rising and setting of the sun and moon. He couldn’t even see the stars from within the ballroom.

Elven homes looked more and more like dwarven dwellings, or even human ones, as they walled themselves off with brick and stone.

Perhaps that’s why wizards were increasingly rare. The elves were losing their connection to the flow of magic and replacing it with false promises of security after the Great Cataclysm.

A giggle to his left focused him on a debutante and her mother. One scowl had them backing away, but several other elves stared at him and started to approach. A quick teleportation spell saw him across the room and beside the wide doors that led out to the expansive gardens.

Such a raw display of magical power was gouache, perhaps, but he no longer cared. He was there for one thing, and being married off to a nitwit wasn’t it. Dryden was again reminded why he hadn’t attended a social function in decades.

Glancing back towards the receiving line, he didn’t yet see the duchess. Escadia Lockheart was known for many things, but punctuality wasn’t one of them. She was proving the rumors correct on that account, at least.

Having enough of the heat and crowds, Dryden excused himself to the gardens. None were foolish enough to stand in an archmage’s way, and he was left alone to prowl the pathways.

As he rounded an exotic tree heavy with crystalline flowers, he caught sight of the line of carriages waiting to drop off yet more guests. Dryden almost turned and walked away when he saw two women disembark from an especially elaborate conveyance. Looking closer, he realized it bore the Lockheart crest.

Pausing, he studied the young women. Their magical wards were impeccable, but even through them, he felt the thrum of her magic. It’s faint whisper a heady concoction that had his own heart beating faster.

His derision at her tardiness fell away. She was everything the Mage Council had said. Everything and more.

Loving a Mage Lord: 1

I received some feedback on the blog that people wanted to see little more of my fiction writing, so I thought I’d give it a try. This is supposed to be an author’s website, and I really do write. A lot, actually.

I figure I’ll post a little fiction on Fridays. Something fun before the weekend.

Let me kow what you think in the comments section. Figure if the experiment doesn’t work, it’s easy enough to return to my previous ramblings and ruminations.

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Loving a Mage Lord: 1

Aenwyn focused on her magical tome as a maid tugged on her hair. Wincing, Aenwyn tried to ignore the maid and concentrate on the arcane symbols. The young wizard didn’t much care what she looked like for the Oakenvale ball, but figuring out the nuanced spell dancing across the pages captured her complete attention as she tried to learn it.

Escadia closed Aenwyn’s book. “How do you expect to marry an earl when you won’t hold still to get your hair done?”

Aenwyn glanced up at the duchess. “I was studying that, Your Grace.”

“You’re getting ready for a ball.”

Sitting up straight, Aenwyn sucked in a breath and her lungs filled with the tang of magic and beeswax. She glanced up toward the towering ceiling with its swooping curves and large windows as massive crystal chandeliers illuminated the room with magelight so bright it made evening feel like afternoon.

Aenwyn grimaced as the maid coiled her hair. “I’m not interested in marrying an earl.”

“You should be,” Escadia said. “Then you wouldn’t have to hide from my mother.”

“Are the rumors true?”

“Don’t know, and I’m smart enough not to find out.”

Aenwyn stroked the cover of the tome. “I don’t want to marry. I want to study magic.”

Escadia took both of Aenwyn’s hands in her own, the duchess looked unusually serious. “The Empire needs more wizards like you, and I know you love spending time with those dusty old books. Caewyn Oakenvale can give you unimaginable opportunities, and his family has one of the best, one of the oldest, libraries in the Empire.”

“So do you.”

“Mine comes complete with my mother.”

Aenwyn pressed her lips together. “I don’t know him.”

“We’re going to fix that.”

“What if I don’t like him? What if I don’t fall in love with him?”

Escadia squeezed her fingers. “Marriage is not about love.”

“It should be.”

“Caewyn is smart, wealthy and capable,” Escadia said. “He’s also a decent elf, and there’s few enough of those.”

“If he’s all that, why would he want me?”

“Because you’re amazing, and you’re a mage. His family needs him to make a match with magic. That’ll smooth over any issues with you not being nobility.”

“You have a strong magical talent, Your Grace” Aenwyn said. “You’d be even better at magic if you tried a little more.”

“And you’d be better at dancing. Now stop all that ‘your grace’ nonsense. You only do it when you’re mad at me, and you should be happy I’m helping you.”

Aenwyn resisted rolling her eyes. “If Lord Caewyn is so wonderful, why don’t you marry him?”

“Because I would never give my mother the satisfaction of me making a suitable match, much less a desirable one.”

Aenwyn glanced up at her reflection as the maid twined her thick red hair into an elegant coif. She reached a hand toward a brilliant white orchid woven into a braid, but the maid stopped her.

“Miss mustn’t touch,” the maid said.

Aenwyn sighed and endured the rest of the torture the maid inflicted on her, including cinching her into one of Escadia’s silk gowns. The fine silk slid over Aenwyn’s lithe curves and made a soft shushing noise as she moved.

“How do you breathe in these?”

Escadia smiled and liked arms with Aenwyn then spun her around the room. While the duchess’s steps were graceful and fluid, Aenwyn stumbled after her. The wizard mumbled something about the cold marble floors on her slippered feet then yanked back her hands and let herself fall onto the over-stuffed silk cushions of a white chaise.

“Remember to let Caewyn lead,” Escadia said. “And ease into sitting. Think of yourself as a haughty cat rather than a farmer’s hound.”

Color crept over Aenwyn’s cheeks, and she pressed her lips together. Even after years of taking dance lessons with Escadia, Aenwyn moved like a human rather than one of her own kind. But then, she’d never much liked dancing and had only done the minimum the tutors required. Like Escadia and magic.

“You look stunning,” Escadia said as she pulled Aenwyn back to her feet and turned her towards a mirror.

Aenwyn smoothed out the emerald silk of her borrowed gown and peered into the silvered glass. While Escadia looked as stunning and regal as she always did, Aenwyn barely recognized the woman standing beside the duchess.

Her over-sized mage robes had been replaced by a gown of the latest fashion that bared her neck, shoulders, and a generous amount of décolletage. The dress made her eyes look greener, and the maid had tamed her unruly red hair into an elaborate and elegant coif.

Aenwyn could pass as one of the noble ladies that moved in Escadia’s rarified circles. As long as she remembered to say little, smile often, and ignore the servants.

Escadia dropped an ermine cloak over Aenwyn’s shoulders. “Caewyn is going to be smitten.”

“I think he already is.” Aenwyn raised a brow at the duchess.

“Stop being silly and come along. We’re already fashionably late.”

Aenwyn shook her head but followed Escadia down to the waiting carriage.