One line can make any story memorable

blade-runner_55553“All those moments will be lost in time…like tears in rain. Time to die.”

That’s a line from one of my favorite sci-fi movies, Blade Runner, as said by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). The words resonate with me as do many lines from a movie or a book. You may not remember the entire story, but that one line can stick with you forever, like a song stuck in your head.

That’s the great thing about movie quotes. You may not read a book over and over again, but a movie you’ll watch time-and-time again. It’s what drives them into our psyche. Everyone remembers the obvious ones like “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” from Gone with the Wind or “There’s no place like home” from The Wizard of Oz.

But I like those obscure movie quotes. The ones with life lessons packed into a single sentence. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“The dead know only one thing, it is better to be alive.” — Full Metal Jacket (1987)

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it, always.” — Gandhi (1982)

“Never apologize, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.” — She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” — The Godfather (1972)

“There are many things my father taught me here in this room. He taught me, ‘keep your friends close, but your enemies closer’.” — The Godfather, Part II (1974)

“Anything can be great. I don’t care, bricklaying can be great, if a guy knows — if he knows what he’s doing and why, and he can make it come off.” — The Hustler (1961)

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011)

“You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.” — The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

“Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t.” — Schindler’s List (1993)

“Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.” — V for Vendetta (2005)

“ou must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God.” — True Grit (1969)

“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” — Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

There is something about movies that inspire us. Now, I’m not saying that one line can make or break a movie or novel. It’s not just one line or some scene, but the combination of writing, acting, and directing that makes it memorable. When I think about Blade Runner, I think about the striking visuals of the future, the gritty performances by Rutger Hauer and Harrison Ford, the haunting music by Vangelis and the incredible story written by author Philip K. Dick.

If you can find that one line and put it into your next book or film, who knows … It may make someone’s favorite list in the future. For now, I’ll toss mine out there for your consideration.

51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“Love has a magic all unto itself. The connection between you and your husband is undeniable and unbreakable. Not even Death could sunder the ties that bind you and the Gil-Gamesh.” — Lady Lyllodoria, Forever Avalon

Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Some may say I’m a dreamer, and they’re absolutely right

Dreaming-Quotes-93Dreams are the lifeblood of a writer, for it is in the dream that we cultivate and grow our stories. John Lennon once said, “I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”

That’s the truth about writing for in the dream, we get our inspiration, make changes to character and plot and navigate our way through the dreamscape. It was in my dreams that I found the story that is the Forever Avalon series.

I was a sailor, deployed far from home and missing his wife and newborn baby daughter. Off duty hours were spent indulging in my favorite pastime, Dungeons and Dragons. The combination of the two led to a recurring dream of being stranded on a magical island with my family. Over the years, the dream changed and expanded until I finally decided to write it all down.

Today, that dream has come full circle in the publication of the Forever Avalon series, including The Dark Tides and the third book in the series, currently under development, The Outlander War. These are the products of my dreams, my pure inspiration and fantasy.

People use to tell me to stop being a dreamer, to grow up; but Oscar Wilde declared, “Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” That’s the magic of being a dreamer.

I often try to guide my dreams as I fall asleep, so I can continue to cultivate my story each and every night. Sometimes, I just let the dream take over and see where it leads me as I sleep. More often than not, the dream escapes me and I toss and turn as I try to sleep. On more than one occasion, the most brilliant idea comes to mind and I have to get up and write it down before I forget it completely.

These are the faults of our dreams. As writers, we can’t stop creating, even when we sleep. The dream is our reality, though not in the Inception kind of way. It’s funny how the human mind works. in that sense, our dreams are our (the writer’s) way of bringing our reality into everyone else’s.

Stephen King said, “And people who don’t dream, who don’t have any kind of imaginative life, they must… they must go nuts. I can’t imagine that.” Neither can I.

SKU-000941753Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides 
is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

The worlds inside the mind of a writer


Middle Earth from “The Lord of the Rings”

Franz Kafka said in The Diaries of Franz Kafka, “This tremendous world I have inside of me. How to free myself, and this world, without tearing myself to pieces. And rather tear myself to a thousand pieces than be buried with this world within me.”

That explains what’s inside the mind of a writer. I know I’ve touched on world building before in my blog, but I had to take another whack at it. World building can either make or break a story. You have to make the world your characters live in believable. That means, as an author, you have to be an architect, city planner, landscape artist, geologist and mapmaker, all rolled into one.

I really started last week when I started watching Terry Brooks’ The Shannara Chronicles on MTV. It really made me appreciate this new world he created from the ashes of our world today. That’s a common thread you see in world building in literature–building a new one from the old. You see that in the Four Lands in Shannara, Panem in The Hunger Games just to name a few. These are not worlds built using by redrawing the lines of states and countries but places imagined after the worst possible disaster.


Westeros from “Game of Thrones”

Then there are original worlds like Middle Earth from J.R.R. Tolkien or Westeros from George R.R. Martin. These are the works of masters in the art of world-building. Author Ace Antonio Hall said, “When you get some free time, write. When you get some lazy time, plan. When you get down time, world build. When your time comes, shine!”

This is true for those who take the challenge of creating a world from scratch. This was the problem I faced when I started writing the Forever Avalon series. Though Avalon was a place mired in legend and mythology, it was never something that was mapped out. I had to create Avalon as it would develop in my story and mine alone.

Author Patrick Rothfuss was interviewed by bloggers The Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society about world building. He said, “World building has two parts. One is the actual creation. The other is bringing the world into your story. Everything you create should not be in your story.” He called this secondary world creation.

I did a lot of this in my misspent youth playing hours upon hours of Dungeons and Dragons. As a Dungeonmaster, you create everything from the country to the towns and the dungeons, then fill it with everything under the sun from monsters to Elves, Dwarves, etc.

I took Avalon to be a lot like England was in medieval times, specifically because legend and local lore suggests Avalon was actually a part of Wales. So first, I divided up the lands, giving them out to the various Lords of Avalon to control, in the name of the King. I even used names from towns, provinces and local landmarks in England, assuming that people who were brought from England to Avalon needed that familiarity.

(FYI, here’s my self-serving pitch for those wanting to catch up on Avalon in my first two books, Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.)

I actually had to draw out the map of the island so that, when I’m writing, I make sure I’m going in the right direction when I’m moving characters around the island. I can’t begin to tell you how difficult that’s going to become after my third book, The Outlander War, is finished. So, no spoilers here … not yet at least.

For the best advice on how to reveal your world to the reader, I have to give it again to Patrick Rothfuss, who said, “My advice is to withhold information from the reader. Because if you tease with a little information early on, they’ll get curious. And if I can get them to go “How does this work?” and lean in a little bit, then I’ve won.”

He’s absolutely right about that. In Forever Avalon, I teased my readers about the dragon island Emmyr, the home of Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon. I talked about the dragons, how he built a home there, but never let on about the true nature of the island until they arrived to see the floating island in the sky, shrouded by mist and encircled by flying dragons. The surprise was worth the wait.

So create your worlds, build them as you build your story, but keep the reader guessing. It’ll help draw them in and wanting more.

A look ahead to 2016 — A preview of “The Outlander War, Book 3 of the Forever Avalon series”

year-in-review-1Well, here we are in 2016. I hope everyone had a Happy New Year and, although it’s the first Monday of the new year, let’s be positive. 2015 was not the best year. Between terrorism, political intrigue, riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, email scandals, mass shootings and unexpected deaths, it’s definitely not in my top 10. The positive things I can say about 2015 was Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the return of Bloom County on Facebook, Doctor Who season 9, great comic book TV shows and the positive reviews I received for my second novel, The Dark Tides. More bad than good, but still, just an okay year.

As I look ahead to 2016, I am happy to report that the third book in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War, is nearly finished. So I thought what better way to kick off 2016 than with a preview of the next chapter in my medieval fantasy/adventures series. Here is the prologue from The Outlander War!

* * *

The field was strewn with the dead; warriors felled by sword and axe, spear and shaft. Blood flowed across the ground, but there were no winners here … Only death triumphed this day. Camlann sat near the southern coast of England in Wales. This was the last stand by Mordred and forces loyal to his sorceress mother, Morgana le Fay, against the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

The Battle of Camlann was the final conflict between King Arthur and Mordred. The two combatants laid side-by-side on the ground, both men mortally wounded by the other.

As Sir Percival ran to his monarch’s aid, Mordred crawled away, not wanting to wait for the last of the Knights of the Round Table to finish him off.

Percival dropped his sword and lifted Arthur’s head on his lap. “My liege,” he cried. “I am here Your Majesty.”

“Percival … Listen to me,” King Arthur groaned. “Take Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake; it must not fall into the wrong hands!” He handed his sword to Percival, placing the hilt firmly in his hands. “You must do this for me.”

Percival nodded his head as tears began to roll down his face. “I will sire! I will” he assured his King. Arthur smiled, his mind at ease. He coughed violently, blood spewing from his lips.

“Find Mordred, Percival,” he choked out. “He must not be allowed to take the throne of Camelot. You must …” King Arthur coughed again as he gasped for each breath. Percival did his best to comfort the dying monarch.

“Do not fear, milord. As long as there is breath in my body, he will never sit on the throne. This I swear!”

King Arthur took one last breath before his body went rigid, his eyes stared into the stars above. His arms went limp as the King fell back and died. Percival cried as he closed the King’s eyes and set him gently down on the ground.

He looked over to Excalibur and knew he had a promise to keep. He reached for the sword but it was quickly scooped up by the hands of Merlin the Magician. The sorcerer and advisor to King Arthur took the sword without a word to Sir Percival, walking up toward the top of the hill.

“Merlin, what are you doing?” Percival screamed as he leaped to his feet. “I must return Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake. It was the King’s final command.”

Merlin said nothing. He quickened his pace to the reach the top of the hill. He walked past the bodies of the dead knights, laying where they fell in battle. Percival became irritated at the wizard. He ran up and grabbed him by the arm.

“Dammit Merlin, answer me!” he commanded. Merlin pointed his staff at Percival to ward him off. The twisted shaft of Wych Elm had three branches at the top, looking like a trident, with crystals of rose, smoky and white quartz embedded in those branches. The crystals glowed, as magical energy hovered between them, threatening the knight to stay away.

“We don’t have time Sir Percival,” Merlin exclaimed. “I must act quickly to save us all.”

Merlin turned away to continue climbing up the hill. Percival was confused by Merlin’s statement. “Time for what? Merlin, what do you mean?” he shouted as he chased after the wizard.

“The age of magic is coming to an end, and so is our world,” he explained. “With Arthur’s death, the magic that fills our realm is already starting to fade. I must act quickly if I am to stem the tide.”

“But how?” Percival asked. “How can you do that?”

“There is a spell, one of the first ever written,” Merlin began to explain. “If I focus that spell through Excalibur, it will bring all magic together in one place.”

“Where Merlin? Where are you sending it?”

Merlin stopped as he reached the summit. “To Avalon, my boy! To Avalon! There, I will summon all the magic, magical creatures and beings into one place, hidden from the rest of the world.”

The wizard rammed his staff into the ground in front of him. He took Excalibur and placed the hilt between the branches, allowing the sword to hang down from the staff. Merlin stood behind them and started chanting. It was an ancient language, unknown to this day and age. He repeated the spell until he got into a rhythm, chanting as magic began to erupt from the ground around him.

Percival stood back as watched the ritual unfold before him. The energy around Merlin grew brighter and brighter as the spell reached its zenith.

“No!” shouted a voice from behind. Percival drew his sword as he turned to see who was shouting at them.

Mordred, bloodied and wounded from his fight with King Arthur, charged up the hill. His blonde hair was dirty and matted, but his golden armor—a gift from his mother to protect him from harm—still shined brightly in the glow of the magic that surrounded Merlin.

“I will have Excalibur,” he shouted. “By birthright, I am now King!”

Percival stepped between Mordred and Merlin. “You will never be King, Mordred. My descendants and I will always stand between you and the throne.”

“You will not stop me Percival,” Mordred chastised as he drew his sword. “No matter where you go, I will take Excalibur in my hands, I will sit on Arthur’s throne … I will be King!”

Percival leaped at Mordred, bringing his sword down at him as Mordred raised his to counter his attack. As steel clashed together, the magic around Merlin exploded in brilliant flash of light. In an instant, they were all gone. Across England and around the world, anything and everything touched by magic just disappeared; faded into myth and legend, never to be seen again, or so they thought.

* * *

In case you want to catch up on the first two books, Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.