Working on a new Halloween book!

Okay, I know I wasn’t planning on it, but yesterday I started The Trouble with Bats and it’s already hilarious. This story takes place when Ironspell was back in college and went with a buddy to release mice and bats over in a Vampire neighborhood.  Yeah, that’s a recipe for comedy right there. Hopefully I’ll have it written in time for Halloween!

Why Shifters Fascinate Us

Werewolves and other shifters have fascinated people long before Lon Cheney Jr. appeared as Larry the Wolfman on the silver screen. Just about every culture past and present, had their version of shifters, from skinwalkers to ulfhednar and beserkers to werewolves.

Whether or not you believe the old stories that many people have relegated to myth, you have to admit that the fuzzy ones with big fangs even fascinate us today. But why is that?

Shifters: The Beast Within

Part of our fascination with shifters is the exploration of the beast within us. Each of us humans have the capability of doing evil, or at least, violent acts. It is our civilization which keeps us from turning back into the animals we evolved from. It is our civilization that keeps us from being “the wolf at the door.”

Look at the story, Beauty and the Beast–and other stories along the similar theme. The Beast demands Beauty as the price for her father stealing a rose from his garden. When the father reluctantly sends Beauty (the civilizing factor in the form of a woman), the Beast is taken with her, and only Beauty’s love can free him from his beast nature.

But obviously that’s not all of it. We see shifters in the forms of other creatures like otters (selkies) and foxes (kitsune), although these creatures are often dangerous for humans to deal with. We fear more the human side of the cute and mischievous creatures, who can possibly destroy us with their magic or lead us to our doom.

A Fascination with Metamorphosis

As humans, we’re intrigued by creatures and people who aren’t what they seem to be. The change from human to animal gives the shifter power over us puny “Normals.” They can go places us humans can’t. They can do things we can’t. They can choose which life they prefer and they hold a magical attraction that is hard for us to resist.

How many of us have at one time or another wanted to be a bird and just fly away? Or maybe you imagined you were your favorite pet, who didn’t have to worry about all the things we worry about in our lives? Or maybe you just admired an animal you saw and wished people could be more like that animal? If you have, trust me, it’s normal. Animals don’t necessarily have it great in nature, but we idealize them a lot. So, the concept of changing into one is magical, in more ways than one.

Just as the act of changing from one thing to another is magical. Whether it’s a child growing up to an adult, getting a degree in college, or becoming something you weren’t even a few years ago. We’re fascinated with butterflies, who start as lowly caterpillars.

Shifters Changed in a Variety of Ways

If you’ve been a fan of Urban Fantasy for any length of time, you know that shifters can change in a variety of ways. In myths and legends, a very common way people changed to werewolves was with magic. Someone puts a wolf skin or a belt on and they shift to a wolf. Or someone drinks a potion or casts a spell and they become a wolf. Or someone is cursed and becomes a wolf. In Norse legends, the goddess Freyja could change into a hawk by wearing a cloak of hawk feathers.

Some shifters were naturally born shifters. If you were Fae, chances are you were born with your abilities. Selkies, for example, were pretty much born into being selkies and not changed by a curse or magic.

Another popular way to become a shifter was for another shifter such as a werewolf to bite or scratch you. Then, you received the curse that the shifter had. Along those lines, a full moon could change people into werewolves, possibly related to Artemis/Diana legends and the strange behavior some people seem to show around full moons (at least anecdotally).


Why The Ironspell Chronicles are set in Denver, Colorado

Location, location, location. It’s all about location, which is why you may be wondering why I chose to locate The Ironspell Chronicles in Denver, Colorado.

Denver, The Mile-High City

I spent a good portion of my youth and adult life in Denver, Colorado, which made it a prime target for a book series such as The Ironspell Chronicles. I got my degrees from the University of Denver, met my spouse, and got married there. And I spent a good portion of my town in the Front Range and the mountains nearby.

In other words, I know the area well.

But There Are Other Reasons for Choosing Denver

A lot of urban fantasy writers choose areas they’re comfortable with. Those cities include New York, Chicago, LA,  Palo Alto, St. Louis, Kansas City, New Orleans, the Tri-Cities, etc.  A good friend of mine, Gary Jonas, wrote his Jonathan Shade and Kelly Chan books in Denver. Although he’s enjoyed some real success with it, I wanted to place my stories in a world I was comfortable writing.

I feel that Denver isn’t used that much in Urban Fantasy–certainly it isn’t a place people think, gee, Harry Dresden has that town... In other words, I wanted to make Denver Ironspell’s home town.

That being said, yes, I know that Denver is the setting for the Kitty Norville series, but because I am writing a different type of series, I felt that Denver could be a good stomping ground for my protagonist who needed a bit more than just Denver to work in.

Lots of Plot Opportunities

Denver is just a stone’s throw away from the Rocky Mountains which gives me great places to include in my stories. I also know the history behind a lot of the places I’ve included, so it’s fun to incorporate them into my writing.

Elfshot is Now Completed!

Today I wrote “The End” on Elfshot! Elfshot is  now completed in its first draft. And imagine that, you get a sneak peek at the ending, even though it doesn’t spoil anything in the story, so you can rest easy and look at it. (Okay, there’s a minor spoiler in it, but I won’t let on because that would, like…spoil the story.)

It sits at a comfortable 54,725 words. That will change with edits.

Anyway, my plan is for Elfshot to go live in early October. (The October 14th listing on Amazon gives me a couple of weeks of slippage in case life gets in the way…)

Learning More About My Cast of Characters

One thing that is always fun is learning about my characters as I write. I’ve introduced a few more characters than I had in Alchemist Rules that are likely to become a more permanent addition to the Cast of Characters. So far, the supporting characters  in the series I have include:

  • Elryn, Light Elf Warrior
  • Li’alla, Dark Elf Warrior
  • Nana, Dark Elf Matriarch
  • Tuzren, Demon
  • Fluffy, Vicious Chicken
  • Sabine, Ironspell’s Mom
  • Johann Henrik, Ghost
  • Spaz, Werewolf Hacker
  • Jimmy, Werewolf
  • Luna, Werewolf
  • Tobias St. Claire, Vampire
  • Duncan, Idaho Springs Police Officer
  • Smog, Dragon
  • Arden, Wizard
  • Alaric, Alpha of the Denver Wolf Pack
  • Frank Winter, DWTF Wizard

Thinking About My Cast of Characters

I have other characters, but those are the ones off the top of my head. Every character, both major and minor, are unique in some fashion. It’s incredibly important, given the large cast of characters. I have to really think how to differentiate between those our hero is constantly dealing with on a day-to-day basis. They all can’t act the same or talk the same, so I have to keep that in mind when dealing with them.

Why So Many?

After looking at the list of those supporting, major, and minor characters I need to keep on hand, I gasp at the number. But then, I realize that like us, Ironspell knows a lot of people due to the nature of his work as a cop. Also, I remind myself that few people are actually hermits. We all meet plenty of people in our day-to-day lives. So, why shouldn’t Ironspell? The fun part is making them realistic and quirky.

Word Counts

With that, I leave you with my current word count for Elfshot: 47,122 words. Getting close to the end. Still have to write the big fight scene.

And Since You’re Here

Since you’re still reading, if you’ve read That Dragon Was in No Way My Fault and enjoyed it, could you leave a review on Amazon to let others know how much you enjoyed it? What? You haven’t read it yet? It’s FREE on Amazon! Get your FREE copy HERE.

Elfshot Update

Another Elfshot update.

Word Count: 42,009

Snippet from last night’s writing

The chamber looked like it had once been a guest hall or something that housed a lot of people or things. Columns flanked its sides that led into smaller alcoves which housed statues of what I guessed were famous Dark Elves. Above them, the ceiling stretched for at least three stories in a type of dome that had no opening to the outside and yet shown with a luminescent glow that lit all the way down to the floor. We could see across the great expanse toward the single door guarded by two of Vindar’s soldiers. The Ignore Me spell seemed to work as their eyes passed by us without noticing the two apparent Drow soldiers and a demon on the other side of the hall.

Painted murals extended from floor to ceiling, worn over time by dust, heat, and earthquakes. They depicted scenes I didn’t recognize. Above us looked like the Norse god Freyr handing something to what I suspected was a Dark Elven king. The god was amazingly beautiful with long blond hair and a blond beard—even to a heterosexual man such as myself—he was attractive in a manly sort of way. A large golden boar stood before him and the Dark Elf king had one hand on its flank as if giving the boar to the god. Another god with red hair like fire and beardless, presumably Loki, was standing next to the Dark Elf king.

I had seen paintings of the gods before, mostly done in sort of Romanesque-type images, but this was not in that style. They appeared life-like and in clothing that the Northern tribes would’ve worn given the period of the design. My gaze shifted lower to the images of a battle. Dark Elves and Light Elves battling each other. The king of the Dark Elves stood in the center, fighting what appeared to be the Light Elven king. Another mural depicted Dark Elves breaking their chains with hammers. And yet another one showed a battle with newer armor and Dwarves attacking the Dark Elves. I turned and saw yet another mural showing two worlds, both lush and green, colliding in a terrible cataclysm. A chunk of one world spiraled off into space, while the two suns were caught together in a slow dance of death.

Back to Word Counts

So far Elfshot now stands at 29,021 words out of a projected 60,000 words.

Still have no fucking clue where this is going exactly. I have an inkling, but since I threw out the outline, it pretty much is going forward surprising me about as much as it will surprise you. It already has a twist–and I suspect it will have more twists by the time I’m done with it.

All good!  Have you gotten your free copy of That Dragon was in No Way My Fault? It’s now free on Amazon Kindle.

Yesterday Sucked: Computer Crash

Yesterday I was diligently working on my computer on Elfshot and had taken a break when I discovered it crashed. Like froze up. Hard. So this isn’t the only computer crash I’ve dealt with in my life, having played software engineer and systems administrator, but still.  It sucked.

The Cloud Minders

This time I had my work on two clouds. Unfortunately, the One Drive cloud didn’t have anything saved from today and couldn’t restore new versions, and I hadn’t put the new version into Dropbox yet. I also have Google Drive, which is there when I remember it. But you’d think a computer crash wouldn’t wipe out a day’s work.

It did. That was major annoying.

Not That I Haven’t Had Issues with the Cloud Before During a Computer Crash

The cloud is a nice concept, given that it’s a cluster-fuck database. (The term we used was clusters when I worked as an Admin.) Long story short, the whole thing is supposed to provide redundancy. I nearly lost one novel back in the day because I failed to copy it over to Dropbox. I ended up losing about 15,000 words and had to rewrite.

Then, my latest dead computer proved Dropbox didn’t have ALL my files from some type of ongoing computer glitch. I managed to retrieve them by ripping the hard drive out of the dead laptop and using PCmover to get most of my environment back to what it was. It’s not fail-safe software, but I’ve spent plenty of money with Laplink (the parent company) to at least trust it will get most of my work back.

Lost 500 to 1000 words

So, with this computer crash, I lost somewhere around 500 to 1000 words and spent hours getting my system to a point where I could reboot. I tried rebooting normally and it froze. Dell’s semi-worthless admin software tested the hardware and pronounced it fine. Then I reboot for the umpteenth time and selected Window’s attempt to fix it.

Thank the gods for system restore. I had turned it on when I got this desktop started and it had an image from several days ago. I restored the system and got my computer back–only to discover the missing versions of Word.

Got to love it–not!

Word Count for Yesterday

Despite all that, I did do some work.  I ended up with a bit over 500 words at 25,016. Better than nothing, even though technically, I wrote more.

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