Tag Archives: #ITCOTD

Monday Morsel: Clan Blade – an excerpt from IN THE COMPANY OF THE DEAD

Clan Blade
Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature, where I share short excerpts from the first draft of whatever I’m working on – currently my adult epic fantasy, In the Company of the Dead.

* * *

Relief filled her as she lifted the sword into her lap, and she ran her hands up and down the length of it.

No, wait. She probed the hilt with her fingers, making out the shape of the dragon coiled around the hilt. This wasn’t her holy blade, but Lyram’s clan blade.

The relief died, and not only because she still didn’t have her own sword back. Lyram was fiercely protective of the clan sword, and she’d never seen him without it, saving the time they had fought in the practice yard. Even then it had been within eyeshot and relatively easy reach.

Why would he abandon it now?

* * *

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect – while the bones of the story are there, enough to give you a glimpse into the tale of these characters, I typically do at least eight drafts so you can expect the final version to bear little resemblance to what I post here.

If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site, or subscribe to the newsletter to receive my novella, Confronting the Demon, and short story, A Magical Melody, free.

More about In the Company of the Dead

Man Leaving castle MM

Lyram already crossed a prince – now he finds himself on the brink of crossing a god.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she’s pursuing a priest of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the priest is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

Against the backdrop of clashing gods, Lyram must fight to save himself from the political machinations of his prince, and the dread plans of an evil priest. But as the siege lengthens, he realises the greatest threat may come from another quarter — a woman sworn body and soul to a god tempts him to pay a terrible price.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this. Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

Bioluminescent Fungi: Crazy Things I’ve Researched For Books

Bioluminscent Fungi

Surprisingly, there are quite a few forms of mushroom that glow in the dark. The Brazilian ‘flor-de-coco’ was discovered in 1840 and reportedly glows bright enough you can read with it. A glowing mushroom is totally my next bedroom accessory. Although I’m not sure how to care for it… will I have to feed it?

The jack-o-lantern fungus in the United States is a poisonous mushroom easily mistaken for delicious chanterelles. I recommend you always mushroom pick at night – if it glows green, don’t eat it. As for how you are going to find the non-glowing, edible mushrooms in the dark…. That’s not my problem. I don’t eat mushrooms. But at least you won’t be dead of poisoning, right?

Honey mushrooms don’t glow entirely, but apparently only have glowing filaments. They grow in rotting wood, and these are the mushrooms that often (but not exclusively) make foxfire – the phenomenon where rotting logs seem to glow blue-green after dark! Now that’s neat. Maybe I could use one of these as a feature bench seat in my garden. It’d go well with the pool lights. In other parts of the world foxfire is also known as will-o’-the-wisp and faerie fire. Well we all know how often those plot points crop up in fantasy novels.

Fungus glows for the same reason that fireflies do – by burning luciferin (sounds deliciously hellish). Fireflies, however, only burn it in bursts, while mushrooms do it all the time. Show offs. They even do it during the day – we just can’t see it. Now that’s downright wasteful.

The real puzzle is why do mushrooms glow at all? There are three usual reasons for bioluminescence:

  • To attract a mate;
  • To frighten off predators
  • To attract potential meals.

Now mushrooms are not mating, and when it comes to predators, many are already poisonous. So far as we know, mushrooms also aren’t eating anyone else.

Glowing Mushrooms

So what is the glowing mushroom trying to do? In some species it appears glowing is linked to metabolism – but not in others! Curiouser and curiouser.

Now you might be wondering why I cared about glow-in-the-dark fungus at all – and I promise I am not writing will-o’-the-wisps into my book.

If you haven’t been following the ITCOTD Monday Morsel series, you might not be aware there are catacombs under the castle that serves as the main setting for my next book. Essentially our hero is underground here without a light source and I suddenly needed him to be able to see something. Glowing fungus seemed like a solution, but I didn’t know if there was in fact any such thing. Apparently there is even a species in Australia that glows but that was news to me – certainly I have never seen it. And you can get these fungi in caves. I also didn’t know how bright such a mushroom might glow and if it would be bright enough for what I needed.

So off I trotted to ask Google. Who said you never learn anything real in fantasy?

Monday Morsel: I Am Dying – An Excerpt from IN THE COMPANY OF THE DEAD

Monday Morsel: I Am Dying

Hello 2015! With the start of the new year we return to our regular blogging schedule, with one exception – instead of two posts about Scotland per month, I’ll be swapping one out to share with you instead some of the weird and wonderful things I’ve learned during my research for my books.

In other news, the first draft of In the Company of the Dead is almost done, and I’ve just finished polishing a sequel short story to A Magical Melody.

* * *

Ellaeva struggled to open her eyes, but the lids seemed too heavy. Sluggish lassitude wrapped her in soft cotton, drawing her back down into sleep, but the furtive sounds of someone moving penetrated her stupor.

Fingers touched her throat. Fear rose up in her, and she fought to open her eyes, to fight back. Then the touch dropped away, leaving her wrapped in haze and cold, so cold… Sleep fought to reclaim her, but the fear and doubt lingered.

Why was she so cold? Someone had checked her heart. Why? Was she dying?

The thoughts came with the same slow stateliness of the stars wheeling through the sky. She started to slip back into sleep.

She didn’t feel exhausted. Why was she so sleepy? The fading fear resurged, its fingers sharp and prodding, worming their way into her mind, tightening into panic.

I am dying.

* * *

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect – while the bones of the story are there, enough to give you a glimpse into the tale of these characters, I typically do at least eight drafts so you can expect the final version to bear little resemblance to what I post here.

If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site, or subscribe to the newsletter to receive my novella, Confronting the Demon, and short story, A Magical Melody, free.

More about In the Company of the Dead

Mysterious Woman MM

Lyram already crossed a prince – now he finds himself on the brink of crossing a god.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she’s pursuing a priest of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the priest is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

Against the backdrop of clashing gods, Lyram must fight to save himself from the political machinations of his prince, and the dread plans of an evil priest. But as the siege lengthens, he realises the greatest threat may come from another quarter — a woman sworn body and soul to a god tempts him to pay a terrible price.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this. Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

Monday Morsel: Failed Prayers – An Excerpt from ‘In the Company of the Dead’

Failed Prayers

Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature, where I share short excerpts from the first draft of whatever I’m working on – currently my adult epic fantasy, In the Company of the Dead.

* * *

‘Jump to!’ Lyram hefted the bridge as the last of it slid off the support timber. On the far side of the moat, lit by the torches abandoned along the water’s edge, riders burst out of the night. Thwarted by the water, they nocked arrows and fired straight at them. They shuffled into the barbican, and Ellaeva followed, her murmured prayer faltering a moment. As Lyram jogged down the tunnel, still carrying the bridge with the two soldiers, she swung the gate shut.

In the last of the dying light, the lean, black shadow of an arrow sliced across the threshold.

Ellaeva crumpled.

The bridge fell from his hands.

* * *

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect – while the bones of the story are there, enough to give you a glimpse into the tale of these characters, I typically do at least eight drafts so you can expect the final version to bear little resemblance to what I post here.

If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site, or subscribe to the newsletter to receive my novella, Confronting the Demon, and short story, A Magical Melody, free.

Knight and castle Edited 1 (1)

More about In the Company of the Dead

Lyram already crossed a prince – now he finds himself on the brink of crossing a god.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she’s pursuing a priest of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the priest is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

Against the backdrop of clashing gods, Lyram must fight to save himself from the political machinations of his prince, and the dread plans of an evil priest. But as the siege lengthens, he realises the greatest threat may come from another quarter — a woman sworn body and soul to a god tempts him to pay a terrible price.

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 sign up to the blog through RSS or subscribe to my newsletter. Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

Monday Morsel: I Am Going To Hell – an excerpt from ‘In the Company of the Dead’

Gping To Hell

Welcome to the Monday Morsel feature, where I share short excerpts from the first draft of whatever I’m working on – currently my adult epic fantasy, In the Company of the Dead.

* * *

Ellaeva nudged Lyram. ‘Move over.’

Awkwardly, he shuffled to the middle of the seat to allow her to climb over him and the reins clutched in his fist. Her shirt gaped as she bent towards him to hang on to the wagon seat for balance, and he closed his eyes against the sight of her rounded breasts.

I am going to hell.

She made it to the left side of the seat and swung out from the edge of the wagon. Her blade sliced a glittering arc through the night, and the rider cut away hard. He dropped back, and Lyram risked a glance over his shoulder.

The rider was trying to climb onto the back of the wagon.

* * *

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect – while the bones of the story are there, enough to give you a glimpse into the story of these characters, I typically do at least eight drafts and you can expect the final version to bear little resemblance to what you read here.

If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.

More about In the Company of the Dead

Mysterious Woman MM

Lyram already crossed a prince – now he finds himself on the brink of crossing a god.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess arrives. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she is in pursuit of a necromancer of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the necromancer is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

Against the backdrop of clashing gods, Lyram must fight to save himself from the political machinations of his prince, and the dread plans of a necromancer. But as the siege lengthens, he realises the greatest threat may come from another quarter — a woman sworn body and soul to a god tempts him to pay a terrible price.

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 sign up to the blog through RSS or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!