D. Lambert, author
Enter a new world. Stay for a while.
I have just closed the Zoom window on the closing event of SiWC, and I need to unload.
This conference has been a massive help over the years, starting me on my way as an author instead of just a hobbyist. It is a strange mix of the experienced and the amateurs that fosters inclusivity and support when others would be elitist. It was the push to get me querying and taking my writing more seriously. Many workshops and talks inspired me or taught me how to improve my craft.
So it's a bit strange to say that I leave this conference with mixed feelings. Did I learn things? Absolutely! And I intend to go back over the online content available still to watch talks I could not attend. But I think my trepidation comes from looking ahead and seeing a fog. I'm not sure what I can use or what I can't. I'm at the point where I've learned enough to be on my way, but not enough to know where I am going.
I have two books self-published. The last one fell during COVID shut down, and I fumbled on the release so now I have to backtrack a bit.
I've got one book I passionately feel would work in the traditional publishing industry, and so I'm back to querying it.
So what am I doing? Honestly, I am coming to terms with the idea that I cannot do everything. I am accepting that books will continue to be my passion and outlet for stress. It will be fun. It will not be a career, but that doesn't mean I won't release good solid fun and adventure. And if I make you think a bit, excites you, or scares you a little, then good. Let's have an adventure!
I'm keen to hear from you! In these times of distancing, reach out! There's lots of good to come.
With SoulBurner (Weapons of Espar, Book 2) now in the hands of beta readers, I can finally hunker down to other things. And there's a lot going on!
I expanded my horizons and went to add the books to Goodreads, only to discover I already exist! Come follow me as an author at this LINK! I'm tickled pink that someone added the books but could use some more reviews to keep it alive. If you have a second and use Goodreads, tell me what you thought of Dragon's Voice or Dragon's Talon!
I'm starting up a Newsletter, once monthly, that will include various topics, promos, advanced reader intel, and the occasional snippet. For the first one (which will go out Dec 1st 2020 depending on baby #2 being due) I will be including a free short story in the World of Espar! Sign up HERE for free and get content!
More good stuff!
I got word that SoulBurner's cover is on its way! Stay tuned!
This week's plan:
If anyone is over at SiWC this week, look for me there as well! I will be attending the talks and social events whenever I can squeeze it in around daily life October 23rd to the 25th. Although the conference is pared down quite a bit, there's still lots of good stuff to come out of it online. I'm looking forwards to spending a few days in the world of writing! I hope to see you all there!
Of course, I will have my usual helpers... Levi and Corsair.
It's been a while…
For official news, I have accepted that I will not be making the Nov 2020 release for SoulBurner (Book 2 in Weapons of Espar). One part, that was because I lost two months when things were in lockdown. You would think I would have MORE time, but there was a sharp difference between those who had lockdown without a small child and those who went through lockdown with a small child. I have a small child.
The other part of the decision is that I am due with baby # 2 on Dec 6th, 2020. Thus, I decided SoulBurner will have to wait. Dragon's Talon is still available! Grab book one while you wait!
This blog was inspired by a sewing project and a legacy.
Legacy in a sewing box.
I am first to admit I am no expert seamstress, but one of the first things I got when I moved out was a sewing machine. I know the basics. I can put together a pattern, hem a skirt, and patch the knees of my son's torn pants. All you need for that is thread, a bit of cloth, and the machine.
However, when the kid's stuffed bunny lost his eyes, I had buttons I could sew back on (repeatedly). When I needed red thread, I had it. Elastic? Yep. Donated that to mask-making efforts. Ribbon? Sure. Even had a zipper, a pincushion with industrial pins, and a folded felt heart full of needles of all shapes and descriptions.
For a beginner, I have a ridiculous number of bits and pieces. That is because of Grandma Joan.
She was my grandmother-in-law, and I didn't get to know her for many years before she passed, but she has a legacy in my sewing box. Upon her death, my husband came home with her sewing box, an inheritance that I had never expected.
That golden tin is full, to the brim, with buttons of all shapes and sizes. I have a random assortment of coloured threads. I have more needles than I will ever need, from tiny beading needles to enormous knitting needles. They may be from 1950, but they do the job well. It is a treasure box filled with scraps of just what we need, when we need it.
Beads for an art project on a rainy day; a clasp for a bracelet made of shiny buttons; a sheet of felt for valentine hearts. These little things connect my son to his great-grandmother.
And every time I pull something out to use, I'm reminded of her too. A little bit of her effort and love goes into every project.
I hope I leave a legacy, whatever its form, as heartwarming as that sewing box.
Music is unique. It directly affects our brains, changing the release of chemicals and controlling mood, learning, behaviour. It's strangely universal.
And it makes writing better. Here are 3 ways music can be used in narration!
1. Character development:
Your favourite song tells a lot about you. Look at the huge spectrum music runs; from the hard core metal to melancholic, to classical to blues. A jazz fan might be more laid back, or more willing to improvise. An old school rock and roller might be stuck in the past. A teenager is more likely to go for hard rock, something with lots of screaming (unless he's actually head of the local marching band…)
The type of music a character prefers or listens to in the course of the story is another characteristic to expand on their personality. Don't dismiss it, or you'll miss the opportunity for depth with a few lines of text.
Consider the difference between a club filled with head-banging rock versus a country song.
Music sets the stage, lending details you now don't have to specify. Even the little details, like the elevator music being bland or the hold music being an outdated radio station no one actually voluntarily listens to, tells you about the building you are in or the company you are calling.
So, choose your music deliberately, and remember our world is filled with music. We must not forget the sense of hearing when making descriptions. But when is your world completely silent? How many songs do you hear in a day? Coffee shops, malls, dentists, car radio, at home, headphones when waiting for a bus, or riding a bus, or walking, or running, church, on websites/computer…
Even in other eras, consider the music. Folk songs, working songs, hymns…
3. Set the Mood:
Even if you're not showing a setting, music sets a mood. Who can forget the ominous organ music playing in the storm! Mystery! Intrigue! Suspense!
Don't be overt, but you can alter the mindset of your reader my choosing an appropriate song. It's more powerful if it's specific. Avoid 'a sad song'. Say George Jones singing with a harmonica background "He stopped loving her today." It gives you a kick to the gizzard!
But it's not just in the writing that music can make an appearance. I use music all the time to drive my writing as well!
Everyone is different, but if you have not tried these yet, I highly recommend them! They are great tricks to combat writer's block too!
Here are 6 ideas on how to use music to help YOU write better and more often!
1. Take a song and write new lyrics. This is a very traditional thing to do, to repurpose music to new lyrics. It's a tool for poetry, since you'll find it guiding the structure for you.
2. Listen to different things while writing: with lyrics, without, familiar, unfamiliar. If you match the music to the mood you are trying to put into the scene, you may find something that drives the scene (and the story) onwards.
3. Try to sing your work: If you think of your prose AS a song, you'll hear the beats and flow of it. If it's jarring, then find something that smooths it out.
4. Block out noise: Using music can keep focus on the page and not in the surroundings. Headphones may help make a coffee shop a prime writing environment (unless you want to listen to the people chatting nearby for inspiration too!)
5. Playlists for each story. I do this. They are in order. Since the characters develop, I will find a song that seems to match them in a moment, and I put that song there in the list. I also write out the lyrics to solidify my ideas. Sometimes the song adds depth I didn't know I had. I listen to these songs when writing, but also in between since it kick-starts my thinking about stories.
6. As a prompt: Use an instrumental piece or just use the title as a prompt, then listen, and write. Piano music is another great prompt for the emotion it evokes!
Second book blues? Maybe a little. It’s hard in COVID-19. We’re so lucky on Vancouver Island to have so little of the disease, but the precautions are still in place, and we’re still abiding by them so there will be no gathering, no library launch, no celebratory cake (not even my homemade version!) This release is going to be like a dud firework; a bit of spark, but not as much as excitement.
So let’s have a fun list of small things that changed the course of history. Many of these are just legends, but still amusing!
A crack in history
Safety glass was invented by accident; the French chemist dropped his flask containing cellulose nitrate and discovered that, while the flask did break, it didn’t shatter. Thus followed a staple of our automatic industry.
Waterloo and the pain in the a**
It’s rumoured that Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo due to acute hemorrhoids. He couldn’t ride to supervise the soldiers, and since the doctors had lost his leeches, he ended up on an overdose instead. So much for such a small (but so incredibly painful) thing!
Didn’t see it coming
A last-minute roster change meant the lookout on the Titanic ended up without binoculars as he was missing the key for the locker where they were stored! Some believe that the iceberg could have been seen at a greater distance if the lookout had had access to those binoculars. The ship might not have crashed at all!
Happy B-day… or D-Day?
Supposedly, German commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel left France to attend his wife’s birthday, smoothing the path for the Allies on D-Day. One birthday someone regretted attending!
A Mars Rover once went MIA on NASA because (as they discovered) the two teams working on it were using different units. Suddenly, the tiny difference between centimetres and inches mattered way too much.
When one door opens…
In ancient times, the Ottoman Empire was founded after the Turks took Constantinople. How? Someone left a gate open. Whoops.
On a roll…
The modern stethoscope was invented by a male physician who, because of current societal expectation, could not press his ear to a woman patient’s chest to check her heart. He rolled up paper and used it to listen, diagnosing her heart disease! Now it’s a vital tool for all physicians.
Finding the right direction
Albert Einstein was inspired by a compass he was given when ill in bed. It fascinated him and instilled in him a deep curiousity as to the working things. That worked out for the best!
So, no matter how small a thing feels, there is always great potential!
It's available now; the newest installment in the world of Espar! Join the next generation of DragonKeepers!
The ebooks are up at the below links. Thanks to the deals by Island Blue Print, I should have the print copies for locals mid-June. And as a bonus, we now have an amazing map of the World of Taint courtesy of Astra Crompton. Espar's only one corner of it, but it's exciting to see it finally put together!
If you'd like a copy directly from me, send me a note (Contact page is HERE) and I'll put one aside! Otherwise, the links are below. For a universal ebook link click HERE
A promise that brings war...
When the king was killed by his advisor, only the DragonKeeper knew the truth. She was exiled and, without her support, the Kingdom of Espar fell to the Lionian Sovereignty.
Fifty years later, Cairon Mirk is the DragonKeeper, and he has little sympathy for the Esparans who abandoned his grandmother. But an oath remains, that he will defend the line of the Kings of Espar. When he stumbles across Danoron Galanth and his sister Gensiana, helping the Heirs of Espar enrages the Sovereignty and brings a bounty onto the heads of dragons. To save his dragon family, Cairon must abandon his isolated life and do battle with the invincible Lionian Sovereignty.
But the Sovereignty does not act alone. Traitors hide among the Esparan rebels. New weapons are raised against the dragons, able to burn even a silver's scale. And an enemy of the past has come to end both Cairon's reign as Dragonkeeper and his life.
I admit; I am a bit obsessed with dragons. Right now, everyone's talking about unicorns, and I don't care. Where are the dragons? That's what interests me!
I find it fascinating that almost every culture the world-over has myths about dragons. Many are huge snakes only, but you can go back through ancient written history and find these stories all over the globe and call it a dragon. Off the top of my head, there's been Apep (Egyptian), Ladon, Python, Typhon (all Greek, plus unnamed ones…), Lindworm (Germanic), Fafnir (Scandinavian), Wyrms and Wyverns (English), Long (Chinese, possibly also Vietnamese), the Leviathan (Biblical-Jewish), Naga (Indonesian), Tiamat (Babylonian), Bahamut (Arabian), Tarasque (French)… And those are just the ones I know! There are thousands out there, named or unnamed, that share the giant reptilian /dragon style.
Why does the world have myths about dragons? Perhaps that would be a good topic for a short story. The 2002 movie 'Reign of Fire' supposed that dragons existed and hibernated between killing sprees! But the main two theories I have heard are 1. We're scared of snakes, so big snakes make a lot of sense as monsters or 2. Ancients saw fossils and drew conclusions.
I think the former is more likely. We, like monkeys, have a reasonably instinctual fear of snakes. Kids often have a fear of snakes even if they live in areas without many snakes. Monkeys who have never seen a snake before, never been exposed to another monkey's reaction to a snake, will still react with fear when they see one. It's a strange genetic memory we do not understand.
Not everyone is scared of snakes (about 40%), but it's enough to make snakes great monsters. And then imagine the thing could fly! Many eastern dragons have no wings but fly.
I'm less convinced that a dinosaur (or other) fossil would universally make dragon myths. Some parts of the world are very fossil-poor. And even if they found a bone or two, they would lack the skills to dig up enough to have any idea what the creature was. There's not enough in those bones for me to believe the whole world would create a myth.
The neatest thing about dragons is how they differ. Some have wings. Some blow fire. Some have many heads. Some have horns. Some have magic teeth or bones.
And the 'rules' for dragons are profoundly malleable. Sacrifice a damsel. Cut off its head. Steal its hoard. Brainless monster. Sophisticated riddler.
Dungeons and Dragons were best known for codifying the dragons by colour, and in doing so combined the myths of many cultures. They even have a monster called Tiamat and one Behemoth. They separated the different archetypes into different beasts, even expanding into dragonkin.
Were the dragons of Espar in the World of Taint inspired by D&D? Strangely, no. While I have played D&D, Espar was born before that, and I wanted the dragons to be more animal, less magical. I figured out how they flew and their dragon breath. And I made the colours different breeds, not species, and created an origin for the various breeds. They had more in common with dogs (if dogs had been bred by magical beings).
But that's the wonderful thing about dragons. No matter how you change a dragon, it's probably somewhere in the mythology of the world, and everyone will recognize it as a dragon. It's a myth everyone knows.
Pre-orders are up!
After Sair set up a legacy of dragonkeepers serving the Kings of Espar in "Dragon's Talon," something went very wrong…
Now conquered, Espar has no king. The War of the Pass drove the dragonkeepers into exile, believed to be enemies of the kingdom. Isolated, they devoted their lives to the dragons instead. But now the last dragonkeeper has heard the pleas of the fragmented, dying royal line and must decide if the kingdom is worth saving at all.
"Dragon's Talon" is the first book in the Weapons of Espar duology and is the product of about twenty years of work. It was one of the first stories I completed to some degree of satisfaction! Armed with a much better understanding of writing and publishing, it took its current form over the winter and is now available for pre-order ebooks.
Unfortunately, the paperback is not showing for pre-order yet (I'm working on it). If you'd like a copy, you can message me directly or wait for it to go live on May 31st, 2020 and order it then! Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, and you'll get a reminder as the date draws near!
The book was written when I was tired of the farm boys saving the kingdom because of prophecies. I decided to write my own story, where the hero is a lovable grouch, the girls can hold their own just fine, and the dragons are the ones who need saving. "Dragon's Talon" was the result. It contains some of my favourite characters I have ever written; the king's sister Gensiana, and the current dragonkeeper, Cairon. And of course, has the snarky fairy dragons and the immeasurably patient (and enormous) silver dragon MoonStone.
Their full tale concludes in SoulBurner, which is due out November 2020.
I'm making it official: Dragon's Talon, Book 1 of the Weapons of Espar, will be released on May 31st, 2020. And helping me reach that goal is the awesome work of Fantasia Frog Designs!
I'm most excited by being able to tie the style to Dragon's Voice, another Tale of Espar (although a different series), and the colour scheme suits this book so well! We've got Rodons in the picture this time, tying the two stories together, even though Dragon's Talon takes place about 200 years after Sair's adventures, fifty years after the fall of Espar. It's a story of loyalty, family, hope, and determination. It's also one of the first I ever finished! May 31st, join new characters from Espar and beyond as they come together to free the world from the control of the Lionian Sovereignty.
Considering COVID-19, this will be an online launch!
Check out the official page HERE. It will be updated as pre-orders and distributors become available!
"Did you know there was more to the Oath of the Keepers once?"
Cairon nodded, but then, realizing his grandmother may not have seen, he added, "The second part was to the kingdom and King of Espar, but we don't say that part anymore. There is no king."
Grandmother Kasha's smile seemed sad. "There is, though," she said. "He is just not on his throne. One day, Cairon, a firedrake called WhirlWind may come to you and ask you to help the king's family. I promised that the dragonkeeper would always answer that call, just as your father did. If they call, Cairon, you must help them. Promise me that."
"I promise, Grandmother," Cairon replied.
The old woman rolled onto her back, her vacant stare shifting to the ceiling. "Good boy. Now go back to your games."
*Full excerpt available HERE
It was hard to sort out what to say in this blog right now. It's been crazy recently. We're in a strange lockdown, many businesses forced to close or at least limit people coming in. My job has been deemed 'essential,' so I'm working, but we're at half strength and working restricted hours, so we don't burn out our remaining staff.
I'm looking forwards to the day this ends, and I can write about how things did, or did not, change after COVID-19.
A meme inspired this post. It went something like this: Instead of thinking of self-isolation as punishment, think of it as the greatest demonstration of love humanity has ever performed.
Because what I'm seeing right now is a lot of love out there.
In my area, the kids are hanging hearts in the windows. Our house is up a hill, so we walked down the driveway and drew hearts on the drive with chalk and hung hearts in the trees. Then we walked, husband, wife and son, through the neighbourhood and looked for the hearts.
I'm seeing people diverting their businesses to help selflessly (here's looking at you Sheringham Distillery), offering to drive and deliver (Comb and Collar Grooming!) to people trapped, and supporting the community with information (District of Sooke Emergency Operations Centre).
So this post is going to be about love.
I've been writing someone learning a fantasy-world "English" as their second language, and it's been fascinating to bring to light some lapses in the language. English is silly; we have only one word for love, despite what the thesaurus may say. "Love" and "fondness" are not the same thing. Neither does endearment, devotion, adoration, doting, idolization, or others really capture the definition of "love". Those are aspects of love, but not the whole thing. Yet, we have only one word for love.
When I check the dictionary, there are only three definitions of "love."
1. Deep affection for someone
2. Deep romantic or sexual attachment
3. Like or enjoy very much
In my mind, there are six kinds of love. I'm stealing from Rydans here (something you'll find in the world of Espar), but it ought to show what I mean.
Here are the six versions of love I wish we had words to differentiate.
1. Love for a thing, something you like or enjoy very much. It's a weak emotion, this kind of love. I love my bicycle, for instance. (Tinluv in Rydan)
2. The love of a good friend, someone you are close to and will follow. This comes with loyalty and shared trust. (Faluv in Rydan; the love between follower and leader)
3. A family's love. Close family, a love that you don't always think about, but never wavers. The love of a mother, siblings, or guardian. (Famluv in Rydan)
4. The love of a larger group, like an extended family, or a clan, or even a country. Something you don't know personally, but are bound to and care about. Patriotism. (Claluv in Rydan)
5. Foolish, desperate love. This is the love that blinds people and drives them to do crazy things in passion. It can be manipulative if one-sided (Foluv to the Rydans, and a terrible thing!)
6. Sweet love, true love. A love that is soul-binding. Absolute trust and support. A good marriage or a soul-mate. (Rydan's don't recognize this one! They think it's foluv)
Right now, I have seen so much of number 4. We've come together as a province and as a country. We're sacrificing freedoms and our own desires to protect each other. I am personally at minimal risk of being significantly ill should I get COVID-19. But I know my mother and father are at high risk. I also know my clients consist of a high proportion of elderly. And I know that if I go down, my work family suffers.
So I'm letting go of tinluv, minor things I would like to do, and talking to my family regularly to show my famluv. I'm leading my work-family with deep faluv, and staying isolated with my loving husband. That is how I demonstrate the claluv I have for my community, the province and my country.
The Rydans believe no love is greater than claluv. The greater good for the clan must prevail.
We are not alone. We are in this together. Just look at the hearts in the windows.
D. Lambert, author
Fantasy novels that entice, inspire, and entertain.