Saturday, November 24, 2012

Vote for Wool

Dear Universe,

Wool is a great book. Please vote for it in the upcoming Goodreads awards!

Love to all,

Shane

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Going back to the beginning

My first novel was meant to be epic fantasy.

Somewhere along the line it changed. It stopped being the novel it was meant to be. I looked for something to blame, tried to blame the self-publishing expectation that my novel should be 60,000 odd words. I tried to tell the story in a space too small for what it was meant to be, and as a consequence it keeps falling short of the great story I believe it is.

This is not what the novel was meant to be. I have finally accept that. This book won't be 60,000 words, or even 100,000. It will be 250,000.

That means a lot more still to write, but at the end of the day its going to be epic.

This is the novel I set out to write at the start. It is fitting that in the end I am coming back to that.

And for all those that need it, a little inspiration!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cover Update: The Orc of Many Questions

The latest artwork, with a young version of the Orc of Many Questions, since he is young in the first novel ;)

Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One Apple

The apple I am eating is totally delicious.

Sorry to disappoint all those people who thought I was talking about iPhones.

That's it, I have nothing else to say.

*munch munch munch*

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Waiting and Pain and Suffering and Oh My!

Oh the waiting! It is torture!

About a week ago I gave my draft manuscript of Blood for the Dying to more than a dozen friends for feedback. Since then I have been very anxious for feedback. It is my first novel, and all I can think is "will they like it?" and "will they be honest?" and "what if they hate it?". Well that is not entirely true, I am thinking of other things as well, but those thoughts come up often.

I can only imagine what it must be like once you actually publish for real. I am certainly not looking forward to my first one star review on Amazon or Goodreads. No matter what I do I am sure that they are sure to come. At least I won't have to put up with all the rejection letters from publishers. I suppose that is one advantage to self-publishing. Traditional publishing certainly does not protect writers from one star reviews, that is for sure.

I suppose the best medicine for this is to keep writing and keep getting better. Then again, after working so hard I am also feeling to need to take a little bit of time off to recharge the creative batteries. Nanowrimo starts in November as usual, so maybe I will take it easy until then. As fun as it is, writing is still like a job in many ways. A few weeks cold turkey won't hurt. As I said in my last post, I will be putting Blood for the Dying on ice for a little bit, so Nanowrimo will be a great chance to get my orcs novel done.

In the mean time, more waiting. I am not sure whether the waiting or the getting bad reviews is worse yet, but I am sure that they are both pretty sucky.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Forcing yourself to take a break

Lets face it, we all need a break from things at some point, and writing is no different. Even while waiting for feedback from my beta readers I am still looking at my WIP over, and over, and over again. If I keep doing this I will end up hating it.

Time to take a bit of a break and work on something else. So, I officially, with all the authority of my glorious blog, decide the Blood for the Dying shall be FROZEN in space and time, to await a time at least one month from now, when it is prophesied that editing time shall begin.

Or something like that.

Anyhoo, it is about time I got back the The Orc of Many Questions. I have really enjoyed writing it so far, especially as it is a far simpler story from one point of view, and I don't need to consider a million things at once when writing it, I can simply get in the characters head and go, making up stuff as I go along. Discovering that novel has been a blast so far and it is about time I get back to it. It should time in pretty well with Nanowrimo in November.

Orcs is back baby.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Beta Draft of Blood for the Dying Done!

Dear Internet,

I have finished the rewrite of my first book, well the beta stage anyway. Today it went out to over a dozen beta readers, who have graciously offered to read it and provide me feedback. Hopefully they enjoy it!

I will leave it alone for a month now and work on my orcs novel. I will make changes based on their feedback in a month from now. Then it is off to the editor, which will take a few months I imagine. Sometime early next year I plan to publish.

Lots of love,

Shane

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sample Chapters Updated

Dear World and whoever else may be reading,

My super rewrite and merger of my first and second books is essentially done, with only minor notes to fix up before I send it to beta readers this week. As such, I have updated the sample chapters for Blood for the Dying.

There have been many changes, typos, prose, new bits etc. so I hope you enjoy.

Lots of love to all,

Shane

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Writing Progress

Dear World,

I have finished editing the last chapter of the rewrite of my first novel, Blood for the Dying. Now just have to flick through the book and fix up a bunch of random notes of things to change / add in. The book should be ready for beta readers in about a week. A month after that I will pass it to the editor.

Progress!

- Shane

Friday, October 5, 2012

Epic Music for Writing IV

The following song reach touches me, some of my best scenes were written to it. I hope you enjoy it too.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Epic Music for Writing III

I am a massive fan of Florence and the Machine. Here is one of my favorite tunes.

Enjoy!

- Shane


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Novella Review: Magnet - Special Mission (David Adams)


*** Disclaimer ***
I am a friend of the author and was an alpha reader for this novella. That said, I was not paid for my help and in no way what so ever do I financially benefit from sales of this book.
*** /Disclaimer ***

I enjoyed this piece. The first Magnet is one of my favorite stories by Adams, and Magnet: Special Mission is a worthy follow up. After reading this in the alpha stage I was really impressed by how well it came out in the final version, especially in regards the voice of Magnet, the main character.

Setting: 3/5. The concept is based around a near future Earth that has been attacked by aliens, the Toralii, after humanity developed some new toys. Nothing about the setting really wows me, and it is reasonably generic sci-fi, but hey, have to set the story somewhere. The military side of the sci-fi in this story was done well. I enjoyed the chatter among the people on the ship, talking using real world military phrases, it helped ground me in the world.

Plot: 4/5. The plot is reasonably straight forward, but considering the length of the work that is to be expected. The main character, Magnet, and some fellow soldiers have to escort an alien male to his wedding, as it will help humanity forge an alliance with this race against the Toralii. One thing that I really liked about this plot was how it starts and ends in the same place, like coming full circle. The ending was satisfying.

Characters: 4/5. With limited page count, I think the author did a really good job of introducing the cast, and made them characters unique enough to remember despite introducing about half a dozen characters early.

Suspension of Disbelief: 5/5. I had no problem believing what was going on, despite some of the technology used. The character decisions also well justified and believable.

Pacing: 4.5/5. I didn't get bored. Even the scenes without action were interesting and carried the story well. In fact, I think the slower parts of the story, such as the opening scene and some of the chatter over coms on the ship, were actually my favorite parts.

Voice: 5/5. This is written in first person, and as with the last work the voice of Magnet really steals the show. Magnet's voice is definitely the strongest among any characters Adams has created so far. There were no head hoping POV problems that I could see.

Prose: 4/5. The prose was well written, and tied in well with the main character's voice. Some good lines in there. Not sure if it will win a poetry competition, but a few turns of phrase did catch my eye.

Typos/Bad Grammar: 5/5. No Issues here.

In summary Magnet: 4/5. Special Mission is a good read, and a must read for fans of the Magnet short story. Despite its short length it is a well paced and character driven story with a good sense of resolution at the end. For the few bucks it costs it was well worth the entertainment.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blood for the Dying: Teaser Prose

Sorrow. Loss. Regret. Solitude. All these things were felt through the song, carried by a voice ancient, words both loud and soundless, as soft as water and as hard as diamond, filled with the kind of hope and loneliness that only the dying know.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Progress Update: Blood for the Dying

Dear World,

After having mashed the original first and second books of the series together I am about 95% through a massive rewrite of the first book of the Grey Worlds. 75% done in the current editing pass, then only a few final things to add it and amend.

The rewrite is going really well, though it made me realize just how much work the editing process can be if you truly want to fix up a plot, not to mention making the world and characters layered enough to feel real and light fire to emotions.

I will be finished with this rewrite by the start of October, after that will be sending it to beta readers with a month-to-read-and-review deadline, then finally, at long last, give it back to the editor. At this stage I am looking for an early 2013 release.

The book is going really well. If you readers feel half what I feel when I read and write these scenes I am sure you will love it.

Lots of love to all,

Shane

p.s. here is more music to write and read to :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sample Chapters Available!

I have uploaded sample chapters for my two works in progress, Blood for the Dying, and The Orc of Many Questions.

They are still in early draft stages, so please forgive me for any typos.

I have also uploaded a recently commissioned map of the Grey Worlds by Jared Blando @ TheRedEpic.

Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Title for Book One of the Grey Worlds Announced!

Happy days indeed, after having to combine books 1 and 2 of the Grey Worlds novels I have finally settled on a title!

Hurray!

Ahem.

Anyway, the first book in the Grey Worlds series will be titled "Blood for the Dying".

It is 95% written, though I have to connect some of the material from books 1 and 2 and also need to polish as much as possible before sending it back to the editor. At this stage I am planning to send a solid second draft to the editor at the end of 2012.

I had hoped to publish by Christmas 2012, but I am focused on quality more than I am focused on spaming out books as quickly as possible. Considering this is my first novel, it is probably a pretty good idea to spend a long time editing.

Sample chapters (Act 1 of 5) will be up by the end of the month.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

There is no spoon

In the matrix, lack of a spoon was cool, good even.

In a book though, lack a plot is certainly not cool, and definitely not good.

So my editor gets back to me and basically tells me that 80,000/90,000 words in my first book is back-story. There is no plot. Even though my editor said the back-story was interesting, a series of interesting events in chronological order do not constitute a plot (though the second book in the best selling Kingkiller Chronicles would beg to differ).

Anyway, I am back to the drawing board. Looks like I am going to keep you all waiting for a little bit longer, but a much better book is going to come out of this process. No more eating with my hands.

Time to reach for that spoon again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

24 Hours of Self-Loathing

We all have doubts sometime, but as long as we don't let them consume us there is nothing to worry about. Sometimes we fail. To err is human, wise men and women have said as much, right?

Doesn't mean we have to like it, but it does mean that we have to expect it and be ready for it. That was we can make its stay as brief as possible.

Time to suck up this little mess and move on.

Time to get back to writing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Time to give up?

Sometimes you build things up so much in your own mind, so much so that you start you believe in yourself and what you can achieve.

Then someone comes and tears your castle of playing cards down. They show you the truth. They reveal just how feeble, weak, and pathetic your creation is.

At these times you cannot help but wonder it perhaps it might just be better to burn the deck.

Maybe cards just ain't for me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Elantris (Brandon Sanderson)

This book was solid. Besides the main concept of Elantris there was nothing about it that was truly mind blowing. There was never really a scene that made me go "wow" or a dialogue which really stuck in my mind, but throughout the whole thing the pacing, plot, characters, and dialogue were good, not amazing, but good none the less.

Strengths
- Stand alone fantasy, wrapped up nicely.
- The bad guys are not so black and white, and get a lot of attention. Often stories only focus on the heroes, which can be great, though seeing things through the bad guys eyes can be refreshing.
- Solid pacing, with a great build up of tension throughout the whole novel.
- The main character, the prince, is well done. I enjoyed every single one of his chapters.
- Low magic, and magic feels special. I like this because it makes the dangers that the characters face challenging, they cannot simply teleport out of danger.
- Smaller scope, it is nice to see a story that does not have the fate of the world hanging in the balance. The author creates tension without having to resort to nuclear weapons.
- Lots of small threads and foreshadowing, all of which seem to be wrapped up rather nicely by the end, giving a good sense of conclusion.

Weakness
- Fight scenes not done very well, nothing like some of the fights you get in a Robert Jordan novel, or Ian Irvine (lesser known but highly recommended fantasy author). The were not terrible, but they do not ring of someone who has had fighting experience. At one point someone takes a step back and kicks a sword out of someones hand, the someone who is supposed to be a renown warrior. This was kind of silly. The guy had a sword pointed at his throat, just getting reach and not losing a leg is hard enough, but actually hitting with enough force to dislodge the sword from someones grip is very, very difficult. In martial arts training I have seen people kick someones hand away if they carried a knife or something, but only moving their hand, not making them drop the weapon, not to mention the fact that a sword at your throat is going to be at least three foot of reach to get through. This might have been forgivable if the warrior was a newbie, but the author built the warrior up all through the book, only to have them disarmed so simply and easily. It was a little bit annoying.
- The strongest scenes were from the prince's POV. I feel like the novel might have been stronger overall written from his POV entirely. I got a little bored with some of the other people. Then again, the author only had one book to develop a lot of characters, so I do not consider this a big problem. Like I said in the strengths section, I liked the view from the bad guys perspective.
- The author "tells" instead of "shows" a little too much sometimes. Still, this was his first book.
- A little low on the action (explosions and blood etc.) until right at the end. This did not bother me, but some people might get bored.

Summary: The book is great, I feel warm and fuzzy writing about it, which is a good sign. The strengths easily outweigh the weaknesses, so I would recommend picking it up if you don't mind a story that takes a while to build. I am looking forward to reading more Sanderson. 4/5 stars.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Grey Worlds: Red Claws - Teaser Prose

Sorrow. Loss. Regret. Solitude. All these things were felt through the song, carried by a voice ancient, words both loud and soundless, as soft as water and as hard as diamond, filled with the kind of hope and loneliness that only the dying know.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: On Writing (Stephen King)

Stephen follows the K.I.S.S. principle here, Keep It Simple Stupid, and it serves the book well.

The first part of this book talks about how he became an author. This section was not only interesting, but also gives the reader an example of Stephen's writing in general as he explains his past.

The on writing and what writing is sections are fun to read and easy to understand. There is not a terrible amount of detail or examples, which may annoy some readers, but if you are just looking for general concepts it is more than adequate.

The On Writing / What Writing Is section of this book can be summarized pretty simply:
Being a drunk/addict does not help make you a better writer.
Art is a support system for life, not the other way around.
Writing is telepathy.
Read a lot and write a lot. This will help build a toolbox of skills, grammar, vocab, etc. Need to write a lot to be good.
Kill the passive voice.
Kill adverbs.
Situation trumps plot (i.e. stuck in a car, big crazy dog outside, what now?).
Don't force the plot, have the characters react and adapt the plot accordingly. Make it believable.
Use simple words and make the characters speak like real people, swearing etc.
Don't make strange connections for descriptions (google Fifty Shades Generator for examples)
Let the dialogue speak for itself, the old show don't tell.
Write with the door close, no distractions
Second draft = first draft - 10%
Take 6 weeks off between first and second draft, don't touch it. Everyone has their own editing process, but time away is a must.
Again, show don't tell.

I am sure there are many more, but that is a decent summary.

If you consider yourself a writer or a writer-to-be then read this. Even if you know it all hearing it again won't hurt.

Waiting

Waiting for the bus. 
The crickets are loud. 
The people silent. 
Cars roll by. 

Time to go.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book Review: Wool Ombibus (Hugh Howey)


Wool (link) is one of the best works of fiction of recent times. I would recommend it to anyone, especially anyone who calls themselves a fan of science fiction.
Concept: 5/5. The idea of humans living underground to survive an end of the world scenario is not new (I immediately thought of the Fallout video games), but the idea behind the cleaning concept here is definitely one I have not seen before. I love how it delves into the psychology of the cleanings, why they do it, and how people deal emotionally with the cleaning. The scenario of the cleaning drives the plot and it is well justified and explained. I had no problem accepting what happened.
Plot: 4.5/5. After the initial concept, which is wrapped up in wool 1, wool 2-5 link together a very strong plot. I found wool 2 a little weak on the plot side as not much happened and there was little character continuity carrying on from wool 2 to wool 3-5 (except Juliette who they meet at the end of wool 2). That said the characters in wool 2 were great. I would treat wool 1 as an extended prologue to wool 2-5, and perhaps wool 2 could have been better connected to the main plot in wool 3-5. There were lots of twists throughout the series, and with the exception of wool 2 I did not see them coming, which made them very satisfying. Overall, I found the plot the strongest once the main character Juliette became the main focus, i.e. wool 3-5.
Character Decisions: 5/5. Often unbelievable character decisions let books down for me, not with Wool. As with the concept justifying the plot, I never felt like the actions of the characters were "out of character". The actions of the characters were always believable. What the characters did was well explained and justified.
Pacing: 4.5/5. I found the pacing on wool 2 a little slow, and wool 1 was set up as a short, so it is hard to gather much momentum in it (Wool 1 was all about the twist really). Wool 3-5 was fantastic however, and I flicked through the pages very quickly!
Voice: 5/5. I would give this more than five stars if I could. All on the primary characters in this book had very strong, distinct voices and thoughts throughout the entire omnibus. It was easy to get emotionally connected with these characters as they usually felt distinct and complex, with more than just one side to them.
Prose: 5/5. The quality of prose in this book is fantastic, as good as any book published by a traditional publisher (recently I reviewed The Name of the Wind, which has great prose, I would put this on par with that book).
Typos/Bad Grammar: 5/5. Non-existent (that I could find). Wool does the self-publishing world proud.
I really enjoyed reading Wool and I am very much looking forward to future works from the Author.

Silver and Jade Teaser Song


Euvaris signaled for the flute and harp to start, letting the crowd settle for a few moments before starting to sing once again.

Oh! I’ve been around the world once or twice, 

Kissed a fair lady and held her thrice, 

But in all my time, 

The one who makes my heart chime, 

It’s her… 

Euvaris pointed to the blonde barmaid and paused, letting the audience join in.

“THE EASY LASS!” roared the crowd.

Gars stepped up and began his solo, his rhythm light and easy, many a patron’s foot tapping along. He went on for nearly a half a minute, before stepping back to allow Euvaris to continue the next verse.

Oh there have been ones who speak sweetly, 

And ones who fill my stomach a completely, 

But in all my time, 

The one whose bed I’d like to climb, 

It’s her… 

Again Euvaris paused, this time pointing at the brunette - who couldn’t help but smile despite the crude lyrics. The crowd responded with vigour as he singled her out, clapping and singing along with him.

“THE EASY LASS!”

Euvaris leapt from the stage and spun on his boots, Gars and Kaes joining in a flute and harp duo behind him. Unlike his youngest brother he had no trouble dancing, and he quickly tapped his way over to the brown haired barmaid who was struggling to start her first day at work. To the cheers of the crowd he took her hand and pulled her to towards the stage, leading her through a routine with ease despite the fact that she had little feel for rhythm.

She certainly would not do. Euvaris could see she as pretty but there was no way he could marry a woman who couldn’t dance. He released the young woman and jumped back onto the stage, settling in for the final verse.

Oh they have come pretty and they have come lame, 

But to me they are all one and the same, 

For in the end, 

The only one who makes my heart bend, 

It’s her, it has to be her… 

He dragged the final note on, waiting for the crowd one last time.

“THE EASY LASS!” they finished as one, the music cutting off just as the crowd burst out in a thunderous round of applause, the sound only broken by the occasional soft thud as a few iron squares skidded along the stage.

Writing Progress


Oh you didn't know? I am writing novels!

Writing Progress as of July 31st, 2012.

Grey Worlds: Silver and Jade - Awaiting editorial analysis, found cover artist, found map artist (Est. October 1st 2012 Release)

Grey Worlds: Red Claws - Awaiting Editor (Est. December 1st 2012 Release)
Orc of Many Questions - 45% (Est. January 2013 Release)

Grey Worlds: Fading Memories - 20% (Est. February 2013 Release)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Blurb "Grey Worlds: Silver and Jade"


I had once believed that that the crusade was just. Only now do I begin to doubt, to wonder if I have been played the fool.

The war against the Suei, my war, shattered tenuous balance of power that had existed in the world. It was all for naught, even with the destruction of my enemies their curse remains, eating away at our borders, leaving death and madness in its wake.

The cost of the war was too high. In the years to come I doubt that we will have the strength to hold back the storm gathering in the Federated Kingdoms, lands that have fallen under the sway of wretched men and the golden god of the sun. Even the children of the moon have forsaken us, leaving only a pair of silver eyed babes behind, hands too tiny to hold the cloak of shadows that shields us from the light.

An end is approaching.

I am afraid.

The Diary of Emperor Delmaius Onstradii.
Winter, Day of Coins, Sixth Day of the First Month, 1128 A.E.

***

A fantasy epic set in the Grey World of Erenarc, a land born of light and shadow. Two princes, one striving for perfection, one just to survive, will begin a quest to uncover the mystery behind an ancient curse, a touch of violet crystal that threatens all.

Yet even more sinister threats lie waiting, masked in the guise of the faceless... and before long the princes shall learn that not even in their heart of power are they safe.

They shall learn that even the mighty can fall.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Music for Writing

I am an engineer by profession, and I approach it very logically, but writing is definitely one of those things that I do by feel. It I cannot engage my emotions in my writing it comes of dry, and even if someone might enjoy reading it I certainly get little satisfaction from writing it.

Music helps sometimes. Sometimes it gives you that shiver down your spine, enough to forget the real world and escape into the story that you want to tell.

Here is one of my favorite music channels:

Grey Worlds Book 1 Sent to the Editor

Grey Worlds: Silver and Jade has been sent to the editor. Scheduled for release October 1st!

More previews to come!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


The Grey Worlds

In the beginning there was nothing. No time, no darkness, no light, no sound, or air, or water or anything else. Nothing but nothingness.
Then, by chance or perhaps a hand divine, the nothingness began to break. From the wound came two eternal beings, one of pure light and one of pure darkness, their passage carried by the wings of time. They were the two halves of the nothingness that had been, opposites born only to destroy one another. For a millennium they fought, the battle raging like a tempestuous ocean, its aftermath etching out the cosmos.
Then, something odd and profoundly impossible occurred, the light and darkness began to merge, creating the first ‘Grey Worlds’, giving life to mortals and immortals.
Among the abundance of life one being rose up and laid claim to the power of light. Armed with this weapon the creature, Old Evil, destroyed the balance of the Grey Worlds and consumed the gods of all things great and small, forever stealing a part of all things. Never again shall we laugh or cry or love like we did in the days of old. Under the tyranny of Old Evil we were nothing but slaves, left to burn under the eternal sun, never to rest, bound by fear and chains of gold.
Then one day group of powerful beings came from beyond the stars to fight Old Evil, drawing on the power of darkness to balance the power of light. The called themselves the Alarest, and with their help we finally found back, a long war that drove us to the edge of extinction before we were able to banish Old Evil to the Cala’lae, The World Between Worlds.
The battle won, the Alarest created the moon to balance the sun, blessing us with the night as a ward against the ever encroaching light. With humanity safe the Alarest withdrew deep in the mountains of the Silver Peaks. They have watched over us ever since, forever vigilant.
However all things change, such is the way of grey things. Old Evil still remains, as cruel and powerful as it ever was, waiting for glimpse of light in the cloak of shadows that hides us. We are not yet free. We are still slaves to fear.
Be brave, children of the Grey Worlds.
- The Grey Book

Happy Birthday Shane

It is the first of August, my birthday. I am now 28 years old.

Wow...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Orc of Many Questions - Teaser Prologue


Prologue  

- Why Orcs Don’t Ask Many Questions -


I looked up at my father. His face was dark green, spotted with black, he had no hair, and his eyes were a fierce red, the colour of a white rabbit. I laughed at the thought and continued to stare, my eyes trailing along his white...

“Father, what do you call those things?”

“Tusks, and stop staring. A male might kill you for staring. A female would kill you for less.”

I lowered my head, looking to the pebbles beneath my bare feet for answers, scratching at them with my toe claws. They had none, so I looked back to my father.

“Why?” I asked, looking back to my father.

“Boy, you ask too many questions.” He swatted at me as you would an insect. I ducked under his big hand and he continued. “Thinking is not good for a child; makes your muscles weak.”

“But why?”

My father took a long, deep breath like as if he was starved for air, then opened his mouth and roared, covering me with spittle. He took a few short, fast breaths then straightened, the green blood slowly fading from the whites of his eyes.

“That is why,” my father said, giving me nod that said the reason should be perfectly clear.

I did not understand, but I nodded.

Then I decided that I had a better question anyway.

“...why do you have to go?” I asked, wiping the spittle of my last answer from my face.

“By the raging dead those jaws of yours never stop, do they?" My father sighed, a sound practically indistinguishable from his usual grunts, except that he lowered his head as he did so.

I smiled, sure that I would be getting a more favourable answer this time.

“Because, its autumn,” he said, throwing his hands in the air and gesturing around him as if the cool air would attest to his words.

I grumbled quietly for a moment. As ever, my father's answers only left me with more questions. Still, my father and the other adults had been gone from the village for nearly three months and I was not going to pass up this chance so easily.

I opened my mouth to speak, then, noticing the irritated scowl beginning to form on his face, decided to rephrase a little.

“How come you have to fight?”

This time my father smiled, and when he answered I could feel the hard edge of truth in his words.

“What is this?” he asked, pointing a fat, pointed nail at my stomach.

“My belly?”

“And what is in it?”

“Food.”

“That's right. Now, where did that food come from?”

“You?” I offered, grinning like a fool that knew he was inviting trouble.

My father swung again and again I ducked. This time I was a little too slow, or he was a little faster, and he managed to cuff me around the back or the head.

“Humans. The food came from the humans. Where do you think I have been all summer?! Fool boy.”

He reached down, grabbing at the once fine, now worn and dirty red silk of my shirt. “And this,” he said rubbing the thin fabric between his fingers. “Where did this come from?"

I rubbed the back of my head. I knew what he wanted to hear. “Elves, you brought me this last autumn.”

My father nodded, looking to the sky and letting out a sigh that said he was relieved to receive a straight answer. He reached down to his leather belt, easing his hand over a finely crafted steel battleaxe, its edge chipped and scarred from dozens of battles. “And how about this, my boy?” He drew the weapon, holding it still in front of his face as he examined the runes on the side of the axe head, as if he somehow understood them. It was a heavy axe, solid steel, though despite the weight his thick, knotted muscles easily kept it steady. “Where did this come from?”

I stared at the axe for a moment, my mind asking it to divulge its secrets. It soon became apparent that the axe was of this silent kind. “I don't know.”

“Ha! Not so smart after all, eh? That's good, I would not want all that thinking to hurt the rest of you.” He gave me a satisfied nod, as if I had was finally started behaving properly. “This axe comes from the dwarves. The dwarves make the strongest steel, and the strongest steel makes the best weapons.”

I nodded. “Then the elves make the best clothing? And the humans the best food?”

My father growled and swung again, luckily I was a bit further back this time and managed duck. “Again with the thinking! A young blunc like you should be using his energy to grow strong not-” He paused, his face growing a lighter shade of green as a flush of rage hit, his axe arm jerking the weapon around erratically. “-to think! Gah! I swear you will be dead before your even receive your breeding rights!”

I stepped back, eying the axe and readying to dodge or flee. Then the bright green glow in my father’s face started to fade and I relaxed.

“But yes you are correct...” he admitted. “The stubby fingers and thick heads of the dwarves make it hard for them to create anything delicate. They make good heavy weapons - maces and axes - and thick armour, just don't try to move in it. The humans have good harvests and make more practical armour, swords, and crossbows. The elves like speed and soft things, their weak fingers make the best for clothes, bows, and fine blades -”

“- so... what do we make?” I asked excitedly, interrupting my father.

I immediately realised my mistake, taking several steps back in anticipation of the erupting volcano. My legs were tensed and ready, waiting for the slightest hint of movement.

Instead my father grinned widely, an excited look creeping into his eyes. “War... we make war.”

I narrowed my eyes, then looked up as I do when I got curious. “So we don't make anything? I mean like you know, stuff.”

“Why make when we can take? We are not a race of makers.”

“But the stuff of the other races... what do we do when it doesn't fit?”

“Well the Mend-Ars and the Shape-Ars fix it. They make it fit.”

I grinned, my mind connecting the dots. “So... we are a race of fixers?”

My father's face turned bright green, a shade so so light that that his skin almost seemed to glow. I let out a chuckle, though my laughter was short-lived as my father came charging towards me, as mad and as dangerous as a raging bull.

I did not think that my father would intentionally kill me, but considering that he was running with an axe in hand I decided to err on the side of caution.

I shot off, like a hare or a fox or a sparrow, something agile and quick. My father wasn't the only one that the got irritated by my questions. I was good at running.

“Why don't we make anything?”

My father roared and continued to chase. I dodged to the left, catching my father flat footed, managing to avoid his hand and running axe, though as usual I failed to avoid all the spittle of his crazed shouting.

“Why do you take? Why not make? Why?” I asked calmly, facing down my furious father.

My calmness only infuriated him further and he charged again, dwarven steel in hand.

I knew I was playing with fire. I was smart, I knew that, I also knew that my curiosity made me stupid. I didn't care.

I should have.

I turned to turn to flee and my foot hit a stone. I began falling backwards, looking fearfully at the ground below me as if it the blades of grass were made of metal, my arms flailing wildly as they tried to fly me back upright.

My body righted itself and I turned my head back, just in time to see my father with his axe held high, the whites of his eyes bloodshot green and his muscles swollen with rage-blood.

This is why orcs don't ask too many questions. For all my brains I sometimes have a very short memory...

At the last moment a flicker of recognition cross my father's face and he pivoted, hitting instead with a massive backhand that sent me into the air and spinning. I hit the ground hard, my mind and body too stunned by the blow to do anything to lessen the fall.

My father reached down, picking me up by the hair, leaving my feet kicking in the air. His face only a few inches from mine he roared, once again bathing my face in saliva. “You want to know why we take, my wise little son?” He paused, bringing me in so close I could feel the heat of his breath on my face. “Or maybe you want to know why we kill?”

I quickly shook my head. No I didn't need that information. The truth is that I am pretty fond of life, my own in particular.

My father stretched his arm out, leaving me three foot away, too far to fight back. He turned his eyes to his axe and my eyes followed, then he dropped it and I let out a sigh, only then realising that I had been holding my breath.

Then he slapped me. Once, twice, then over again until me cheeks burned. I felt something explode inside of me, roaring from my stomach and spreading through my veins. I shot open my mouth and roared at my father, returning some of his earlier spittle as my sight was filled with a green haze. I kicked and scratched and clawed at him, screaming, cursing without words for my mind was empty, made void by the storm of rage.  

My father reached back and flung me by my hair. I flew through the air and hit the ground with a thud, landing as gracefully as a heavy stone. I struggled to my feet. I would kill him. I would bite out his throat and feast upon him. I would-

My father kicked me in the stomach hard, knocking the wind completely out of me.  Slowly my anger started to fade, as if my lungs no longer had the air to sustain its furious winds. I remained on the ground, closed my eyes and tried to focus on breathing.

“That is why we fight. Now you understand.”

I nodded feebly. “Yes, I- thank you... for your,” I paused, searching for the right word “for your wisdom, father,” I said, coughing between words as I tried to suck in air. It was a lie though. Despite my father's words of wisdom I was still confused. As usual my father’s answers only left me with more questions.

My father began nodding and folded his arms across his chest. He smiled down at me, his pointed tusks framing the edges of a toothy smile, obviously satisfied with the quality of his instruction.

This was a typical lesson from my father.

Writing Progress

Oh you didn't know? I am writing novels!

Writing Progress as of July 31st, 2012.

Grey Worlds: Silver and Jade - Sent to the Editor (Est. October 1st Release)
Grey Worlds: Red Claws - Awaiting Editor (Est. November 1st Release)
Grey Worlds: Fading Memories - 15% (Est. December Release)
Orc of Many Questions - 45% (Est. December Release)