Category Archives: dragon

Guilt: Dragon Bait (Part 3) – Free Fantasy Story




Welcome back to Part 3 of Dragon Bait. If you missed Burning: Dragon Bait (Part 1) or Dragonflame: Dragon Bait (Part 2), make sure you check them out first!

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Varik lost her somewhere in the raging inferno of the monastery. An opportune group of unfortunate priests, their bodies still smoldering, provided cover. Varik dropped to his face in the grass and lay motionless, holding his breath. Light footsteps pattered past. When the dragon flew over in pursuit, Varik bolted in the opposite direction.


Outside the burning building, the cold night air prickled his skin. Varik clutched the tattered remains of his cloak about himself, and switched the heavy satchel from one shoulder to the other as he trudged up the steep mountain path. A patch of stars blinked out briefly as a great shadow flew past.


Nothing but darkness met his gaze as he chewed on a thumbnail. He couldn’t spot the dragon. Reflexively, he checked if his presence was still cloaked. The thief would search for him. The dragon would search for her. Fear gnawed at him, even as he gnawed on the nail. The tang of blood touched his tongue, and he snatched the ruined nail from his teeth.


Two days to Athelstone, and the protection of the Sirens and Furies. Thumb halfway to his mouth, he balled the hand into a fist, and forced it to his side.


When did everything go wrong? His job was to find, secure or retrieve rare and unusual items for the Sirens and Furies of Athelstone, and he did it well. This should have been just another job.


Except it had never been just another job.


Keeping the box out of Ishafal hands might assuage some of his guilt; some, but not all. If he’d been in Athelstone, maybe he could have stopped the theft, and all this would never have happened. Instead, his sister and her two daughters were dead, and why? Because he couldn’t stop treasure-hunting. 


The sun broke over the horizon as he found the cave. Eyelids heavy, he crawled into the blessed darkness. Water trickled somewhere in the gloom. The discordantly merry sound made him aware of his parched throat, and the satchel fell from his shoulder. It thudded when it struck the stone floor. A tiny spring bubbled near the rear wall, and he dropped to his knees, thrusting his cupped hands into the trickle of water.


Thirst quenched, Varik settled back on his heels, guilt and exhaustion warring against each other. Damned Ishafal, stealing what wasn’t theirs, playing with forces they couldn’t control. For that matter, damned demons, and their damned war. Damned dragons. Why him? Why couldn’t the dragons choose someone else to follow around, and why were they able to sense him and no one else? The Ishafal and Ridwan were the sole source of human magic, but he’d not inherited even a shred from his damned demon father. Was this his legacy from his demon blood, to be forever haunted by dragons? A poor cousin to the wizard’s power some halfblood men inherited.


The anger fizzled and died beneath bone deep weariness. With one hand, he scrubbed at his eyes. Dare he sleep?


I don’t have a choice.


He dragged the satchel back near the spring. Opening the drawstrings revealed a rectangular iron box, heavier than it appeared. Heavy as lead. He scanned its surface for signs of damage, and relaxed when he found none. As ordered by his Fury, he made no attempt to lift the lid.


Varik didn’t need the warning. A whole village a day’s ride from Athelstone had been wiped out. Contaminated water, his Fury said, from whatever lay hidden within the box. Accident or intentional; it didn’t matter. The villagers died. Vomiting, bleeding from open sores, from the nose and ears, fever and seizures. They died slow, but they died all the same. Not even magic saved them.


His sister lived in that village. His sister, and her two daughters, aged eight and five.


He clenched his jaw against the tears.


Varik carefully tucked the box back into the satchel and then lay down, offering a prayer up to any god that might be listening.


Please, don’t let the dragon find me.


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Follow the link to read Ishafal: Dragon Bait (Part 4)!

**AUTHOR’S NOTE: This fiction piece is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and has not been to an editor.**

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WANTED: An Editor Who Wants Me – Guest Post by Kelly Stone Gamble

Today I am hosting the fantastic Kelly Stone Gamble, bringing us an excellent rant on editors. Let’s not get started on the debate about whether writers need an editor. For the sake of argument, let us assume they do. But I’ve met my share of people who don’t like editors or, even, *gasp* think they are the spawn of evil, and Kelly may have hit on a few points which led to the scarring of said individuals…
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Every writer needs an editor. No matter how good you think your work is, how engaging your neighbor found the plot or how interesting and complex your mother finds the protagonist, a second (or third, or fourth) set of eyes to go over it is necessary.  I get it. I agree with it. As a person who spends a lot of time editing for others, I would never claim that I don’t need one myself; and I’ve been looking.  

In my quest to find that perfect freelancer who is going to ‘take my work to the next level’, I’ve discovered something very important.  Yes, writers need editors.  But, guess what? Editors need writers, too.  And because you need me (that is ME-as in Self Appointed Representative of Writers Seeking Editors), I am going to tell you a few things that you have to do to gain my business.  Oh, yes, freelance editing is a business, and I, SARWSE, am a customer.  

1. Have a website.I know, it requires that you actually spend a few hours to get it going, but, look at it this way.  Amazon has a website. Billy Bob’s Discount Books does not.  I do not shop at Billy Bob’s.  I know nothing about him.  I’m not really sure he isn’t some guy in Arkansas selling me books from the local library.  I’m going to trust you with my baby, one that took me years to produce.  The least you can do is have a storefront for me to look at.  If you don’t have a website, go no further in this reading, because trust me, I have gone no further in considering forking over my money and my manuscript. 

2. Make your prices public.  I realize that until you actually see someone’s work, you have no idea the amount of time it will take to make it sing.  However, we, as shoppers, need to know what we ‘may’ be looking at.  “Send me a few page and then we’ll discuss the price” doesn’t work for me.  That is the equivalent of going into a store and trying on that perfect dress without knowing what you are going to pay for it until you check out.  I look at the price before I even try it on.  That’s just me. Here’s a suggestion: three (or four) tiered pricing.  If I decide to send it to you for a critique only at price A, feel free to tell me that you ‘highly suggest’ I let you line edit the entire manuscript at price C.  I can live with that.

3. Prices – Part Two.  Hourly rate versus price per page or word.  Think about this for a minute. I know how many pages and how many words are in my manuscript. I do not know how slow or how fast you are at doing your work.  

4. Give me a timeframe. I visited a website today that said: It will take at least six weeks to edit your manuscript, longer depending on the length, starting on the date that your work comes up in our queue. We cannot estimate when that will be. Okay. So I send you my money, and whenever my turn comes up, you will let me know, and then at a minimum, six more weeks.  Can I count on seeing it, let’s say, by the year 2016?  You’ve got to do a little better than that.  Here’s an idea.  On the website (smiley face) put a statement like this: Due to the high demand of our services, we are currently running at an eight to ten week turnaround time.  Oh, I like that. You are in high demand and I have another book to write, so go ahead, put me in the queue. 

5. Back to the website. If you have several spelling and/or grammar errors on your website, chances are, you aren’t going to make my list of people to trust my work to.  I can make those errors all by myself, I need someone who will find them, not make them.  Professional presentation, remember, this is a business. 

6. Be yourself.  I have to say, I saw a freelance editor’s blog the other day that made me laugh, in a good way.  She made some snarky remark about cats, and I thought, “this is someone I could talk to.”  

7. Be honest about your interests.  If you don’t like historical fiction or erotica or dragons or zombies, that is fine, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you will get scratched from the list.  Maybe I am convinced that my Victorian era, sex-starved, zombie dragon is so awesome that I can win you over.  “I will edit anything” is fine, but I would like to know what makes you tick.  We are, however, going to be entering into a relationship.  Sometimes opposites attract. Who knows. 

8. Tell me about your work. Preferably let your clients tell me.  I called Billy Bob’s the other day, and his mother told me that he’s sold a truckload of books to people as far north as Sioux City, Iowa.  She didn’t know how many actual books he has sold, how long it took him to deliver those books and had no contact information for any of his customers. You may have over a thousand clients, but how many were manuscripts? Blog posts? Journal articles?  Can you get some references or blurbs from some of those customers? Are they willing to let me contact them?  A great place for me to see these is, of course, your website. (Insert happy face)

Okay, I know, this is a lot to ask.  Or is it?  I want an editor that I can form a relationship with because I don’t want to have to go looking again.  You, I would assume, would love to have clients that return to you time after time.  

But, in the end, it is your business, and you are free to run it any way you see fit.  

However, I am the one with the check in my hand. 

~

Was that free to run it, or ruin it, any way you see fit? Thanks, Kelly, for your insights and saying the things that somebody has to say – but all too often, nobody will! I’ve heard some real horror stories about editors, and if those editors had just followed Kelly’s advice, the experience wouldn’t have turned out so bad for either party. 

Writers are forever being told writing is a business, but hey, guess what? So is editing. Remember, for every customer who is complaining to your face, nine are bitching behind your back! Word of mouth is a powerful thing. 
 
Kelly Stone Gamble is a freelance writer and author of the historical novel Ragtown.  

You can find Kelly here:



Now I know this is not Flight of the Dragon, where I post a picture of a dragon on every entry, but since Kelly mentioned zombie dragons…


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

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