Site Features

Monday, September 30, 2013

Indie Review - The Legend of Finndragon's Curse

Today begins a new phase of Ryndaria.com.  As I read various works by other independent authors, I will post reviews of the ones I enjoy here on Mondays.  Make sure to return on Friday for a short story (flash fiction) from the world of Ryndaria.

Please leave comments below.  I appreciate any and all thoughts, suggestions, and criticisms of the review.  Let me know what you enjoyed and what you think I left out of the review.


Finndragon's Curse

The Legend of Finndragon's Curse, by Richie Earl is Mr. Earl's first self published novel.  The young adult fantasy adventure is part one of a two part series.  I was introduced to Mr. Earl on Twitter, and found his book on Amazon here.  (note: I purchased the book)

After Emma, Megan, and Scott Davies' father disappeared, all they had left were memories and his tales of an ancient kingdom near their home in Wales.  The curse of the King's own wizard, Finndragon, caused the kingdom to disappear.  Legend says the lost castle and its people are locked in an eternal struggle against Finndragon and his demon horde.  After finding a clue to their father's whereabouts, the children set off to find Dad and unlock the mystery of Finndragon's Curse.


As I read Finndragon's Curse, the tale first reminded me of my own children.  As a father of three, I appreciated the individual personalities of each child.  Emma, the oldest, is strong willed and feels responsible for her sister and brother.  Megan is free spirited and quick to find joy and laughter in any situation.  Scott fears nothing, and is quick to attempt dangerous feats against his sisters' wishes.  Mr. Earl's experiences as a father are apparent in his writing.

The children drive the story forward, searching for their father.  Without spoiling too much of the story for you, they deal with magic, demons, and ancient knights as they unravel the legend behind the lost kingdom.

The book is the first of a two book series, with a satisfying ending that sets up the second concluding book of the series.  I am excited to find out what happens in the second story.

My criticisms to the book are mostly technical.  While I found no issue with the spelling, punctuation, and grammar, Mr. Earl's first book could use a professional edit to clean up the prose and pacing.  I really enjoyed the story, but at times became distracted. 

Reading a recent post of Mr. Earl's work in progress on his new blog here, it is obvious that the author is working to improve his writing style, and in my opinion he is having success.

One final nitpick is with the formatting of the eBook on Amazon Kindle.  There is no "table of contents" in the Kindle version, and I could not jump between chapters.  This is a feature I have become accustomed to as a Kindle reader, and I recommend any indie author try and implement this in their eBooks.

Nitpicks aside, the story is a fun read.  I expect Mr. Earl's writing will only continue to improve, and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.  If you have not checked it out yet, I highly recommend Mr. Earl's new website.  On it, he features the first 1000 words of books from independent fantasy and sci-fi authors, as well as reviews of independent works.  (Full disclosure, I will post reviews on his site in the future.)  If you want to "try out" some fantasy fiction before you buy, I suggest hitting up http://onethousandworlds.blogspot.com/


Score:  4 out of 5 purple dragons.



Finndragon's Curse is an enjoyable tale of magic, courage, and family.  It suffers from some technical and pacing hiccups, but I look forward to reading the conclusion in book two!  I recommend The Legend of Finndragon's Curse for anyone looking for fantasy fiction from independent authors, and at 99 cents, the book is a great value.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Three Days to Go!

I sit here this morning nervous with excitement!  I set a goal a few weeks ago to stay consistent with this new passion of writing, and Monday is the deadline.

To recap for those of you just joining (and there are growing numbers of new visitors each week), I will transition Ryndaria.com to consistent twice a week posting.  Posts will come Monday and Friday.

Mondays will be devoted to discussing what I am doing.  I will review other independent and budding authors' works, as I read them.  I will talk about painting miniature figures like the one to the right.  I will share the things I learn about writing, blogging, and social networking.  Mondays are my opportunity to share and let you know a little about me.  I also hope to learn more about you, through comments below!

To kick off the new format, this Monday I will have a review of Richie Earl's "The Legend of Finndragon's Curse."  Richie is also the founder of "1000 Worlds in 1000 Words," a great new blog that showcases the first 1000 words of independent authors' works.  I highly recommend you check it out, if looking for more great indie fiction.

Fridays are all about the fiction; the stories.  In the past, I posted random short stories as they came to me, but they lacked any formula or consistency.  To correct this, I took a wonderful course offered by Holly Lisle on "flash fiction."  These stories, of 500-1000 words, have a consistent structure the course teaches.  The course also helps writers organize their thoughts in order to write a story like this.

Thanks to Holly's amazing course (which you can find here and which is free!), I will write flash fiction stories about the world of Ryndaria and post them here each Friday.  I hope to give you insight into this war-torn world through these stories.

 I have five stories nearly complete from the course.  I don't want to give too much away, but the characters of the stories are:
  • A war-weary frost giant general
  • A hungry dragon
  • A failed thief
  • A tired elf
  • A king under siege
I am excited for what is to come next week, and I hope you will join me.

One final item.  You may have noticed some minor changes to the blog setup this week.  I want to create a blog that is simple and easy to navigate.  I appreciate your comments down below if anything is not working correctly or is difficult to navigate. 

Please comment below, or say hi on Twitter (@Ryndaria).  I do my best to answer every comment and tweet that comes my way. 

Thank you, as always, for reading.

Monday, September 23, 2013

One More Week

Today's post will be a short progress update.  I am on track for my blog transition to complete next Monday!

As a reminder, my plan is to post twice a week; Mondays and Fridays.  Mondays I hope to post reviews of other works by fellow independent authors, as well as progress updates and insights into the stories I am working on.  Fridays will be "Fiction Fridays" and I will post short stories and excerpts from my work.  I will also post pictures of any miniatures I paint to go along with those stories. 

On the writing front, I mentioned in my previous blogs that I am taking a short writing course on "flash fiction."  For the class, I will write five short stories (approximately 500 words each), and those will be the first five Fiction Friday posts on the site.  I have the characters mapped out for each story, and have the beginnings of four of them complete (almost done with #5).  It will take some effort, but I believe I will have all the stories complete by next week.  Expect the first story up on October 4th!

My reading habits are still the same.  After some Bible time, I read Finndragon's Curse, by Richie Earl in the mornings.  I read ANTics, by Dakota Douglas to my children at bedtime each night.  I am enjoying both books, and look forward to sharing reviews of them with you when I finish.  I started The Black Collar, and look forward to reading it more intently once I finish Finndragon's Curse.

Painting the frost giant I showed you last week goes slower than I hoped.  Larger miniatures are much more difficult to paint.  They require a lot more paint, have more detail, and just take longer.  I'm working through it, and hope he turns out as I expect. 

Finally, a request to you.  With the transition to a more consistent format, I wonder if I should overhaul the look of the blog.  What do you think about the current color scheme?  Is it readable?  Any changes you more experienced bloggers might suggest?  I figure now's the time to make a change, if any!

Thank you, as always, for reading.  Be sure to drop me a comment below.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Transition Progress

I wrote earlier in the week on my desire to work up a consistent blogging schedule.  Today, in order to start getting into the habit of blogging every Monday and Friday, I want to give an update on my progress.

I started writing a handful of short stories this week.  I plan most Fridays to include story posts for your reading pleasure.  The class I am taking from Holly Lisle is really helping, and requires that I write five short stories (flash fiction) as a part of the class.  I will write the beginnings for all five, then the middles, then the ends.  I completed the beginnings for two of the stories, and have ideas for the other three.  I plan to finish the beginnings by early next week in order to start on the middles.

I plan to have all the stories take place in Ryndaria (though that might not be clear in the story itself due to the 500 word confines of flash fiction).  They will further flesh out the world and give me a number of new characters to build off of.  So far, writing these stories has been a lot of fun, and I am excited to show them to you when they are finished.

I plan for Monday posts to be a mix of posts like this one, where I share what is going on with my writing (and painting... more on that in a moment) and reviews of other works.  I want to support fellow indie authors out there by letting you know about them and what they are writing.  I currently have three books I am reading and hope to review when they are complete:

  • The Legend of Finndragon's Curse by Richie Earl.  He also runs a fantastic blog: 1000 Worlds in 1000 Words (http://onethousandworlds.blogspot.co.uk) where he posts the first 1000 words of fellow indie authors' books.  I highly recommend checking the blog out and I will have more thoughts on the book soon enough.
  • ANTics by Dakota Douglas.  This is a children's story set in the world of ants.  I met Dakota on twitter this week, and this book looks fun.  It is our next story time book with me and the kids, so the review will include their opinions as well.
  • The Black Collar by @OfTheWilds.  This is fantasy fiction posted on a blog about a dragon, from the dragon's point of view. 


The final update for today is on miniature painting.  I hope to paint a mini for each short story I post on the blog, but I will not hold stories back waiting for time to paint.  I am currently working on this frost giant general for one of the flash fiction stories I am working on.

 
As you can see, he is still very much a work in progress.  First, he is a much larger mini than the others.  He's a giant!  The figure is at least four times the size of the others I painted.  This means a lot more paint, and a lot more potential detail.  So painting him is slower than I expected.
 
Second, I wanted him to have blue skin, as frost giants tend to have.  This meant mixing colors to try and get the right tone for his skin.  I think it turned out pretty well, but it is a little uneven as I had to mix several separate times to make enough paint to cover his skin.  I should be able to clean that up with the final coat.

 

Since he lives in the frozen mountains of the north, I hope to be able to add an icy look to him in the end.  I expect I will do that with a lot of dry brush at the end after I complete the base coat and give him a good coat of wash.

Any suggestions on what colors to use for his clothes and weapons?  Please feel free to comment below.  I am open to suggestions on how to finish him!

Oh, before I forget, I have one more item on my painting.  I hope to convince my wife to help me out with pictures of the minis in the future.  She is an amateur photographer (gaining experience and taking classes herself), and I would love to feature some of her talent on the blog.  Those of you that know her, maybe you could put in an encouraging word for me?  :-)

Thanks again for reading.  I am excited for what's to come with Ryndaria.com and I hope you are as well.  Please, leave a comment or two down below.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Blog Plans

I want to make sure I post regularly and give you readers insight on my writing progress.

After writing Kurssix' story and posting it last week, I found myself a bit tired from the experience.  I set a deadline and goal: finish painting the miniature and get the 1000 word story posted by Monday morning.  I met my goal, and I'm pretty happy with the results.  I had a good number of hits last week, and even several retweets on Twitter, which is great!

I did not make much progress in writing Asa's story last week.  I'm probably half way through the first chapter.  I know what chapter two is (I even wrote it once in the past, though I will re-write it), and chapter two is where the story starts moving forward.  For chapter one, I hope to give enough background that the reader cares about Asa and what he goes through.  I admit, I am struggling writing it down.  I'm pushing through though.

In the meantime, I also realize I need practice writing short stories.  I like Kurssix' story, but I recognize there are some issues with it that could be cleaned up to help the story flow a little better.  You may have seen a couple tweets from me over the weekend asking for resources to improve my short story writing.

To help me in this endeavor, I am taking a course by Holly Lisle (http://howtothinksideways.com) on writing "flash fiction" - short stories of 500 words.  The course is three lessons, and I am working through lesson one now.

The course will have me write five flash fiction stories as I go.  I plan to share them all with you (many with painted minis) on the blog when they are finished.  The basics of each story are already written down (according to Holly's lesson one rules, which you can find at her site).  Now I am writing the stories themselves as a part of the course.  I am excited to see how they turn out.  I hope you will enjoy them also.

Over the next few weeks, as I learn the ins and outs of writing flash fiction, I probably will not have new stories to post on the blog.  I will continue to update you on my progress as I finish the flash fiction course.  Once that is done, expect one new short story a week.  I expect most of them to take place in Ryndaria, but a couple may not at this point.

Finally, I try and spend part of my morning (remember, I get up early now!) reading new fiction by independent authors.  I will post reviews of these works when I finish.  I expect these reviews will help you find other great indie authors.  There are lots of unique, wonderful stories out there.

Thank you for reading!  As always, find me on twitter (https://twitter.com/Ryndaria).  I hit the 400 follower mark today, doubling my followers in the last 2 weeks!  I participate much more on twitter now, so feel free to tweet me!

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Kurssix, Knight of Death, Lich, Godslayer

Far from the nation of Greystone in the world of Ryndaria, across the eastern ocean, live a society long descended from ancient dragons.  These draconic humanoids built the sizeable Saurane Empire radiating from their ancestral home, Mount Yrlandist. 

The Saurians worshiped the dragon-god Yrlan, who dwelt within the mountain.  The ancient dragon slept for decades, and even centuries at a time, usually waking long enough to prophecy to his worshipers.  Only chosen Saurians visited the lair of the ancient beast, seeking the chance to hear his wisdom.

Yrlan's children spread amongst the great continent over the centuries.  The Saurians believed themselves descended from Yrlan's offspring.  The great dragons, known by the silvery shine of their scales, lived throughout the land.  To meet one was considered a great honor among the Saurians.

There lived a young Saurian knight by the name of Kurssix.  When his younger brother (a fellow Saurian knight and Kurssix' closest confidant) was killed in battle by the errant arrow of a comrade, Kurssix obsessed over bringing his lost brother back from the dead.


Kurssix' obsession led him to the necromantic arts.  In secret, he searched out the magic of the undead.  He hoped to find a way to bend this dark magic to his will, that he might bring his brother back to life.  He learned to control undead minions and speak to the spirits of the dead, coaxing the secrets of the spirit world from them.

He understood he delved into magic long forbidden to his people.  The Saurians honored the dead, even those of their enemies and the other races of the world, and to defile the dead's rest was itself punishable by death.  Kurssix hid his secrets well.

Over the years, his obsession led to paranoia, corrupting the knight's mind.  Kurssix became drunk on his growing necromantic power.  The death knight believed the power to raise his brother existed, but he feared he would meet his end either in battle or through Saurian justice.  He concentrated his efforts to seek out ways to protect himself from death.

Kurssix convinced himself the answer lay in immortality.  He could continue his search if only he assured his longevity.  He found his answer in the ultimate display of necromantic power:  become a lich.
 
As a lich, the Saurian death knight understood he would himself become undead, retaining his mind and growing his necromantic powers.  A phylactery, an item created to hold and protect Kurssix' soul, needed to be created.
 
Creation of a phylactery required the death of a living being.  The older and more powerful the victim, the more difficult it would be to destroy the phylactery.  The magic imprisoned the soul of the murdered creature and forced it to protect the phylactery for eternity.  Only destroying the phylactery destroys the lich and frees the soul of the protector.
 
In Kurssix' mad mind, only a dragon's soul was worthy and strong enough to protect his phylactery.  He set out to destroy the most powerful dragon in existence, Yrlan the dragon god.
 
Kurssix spent months in seclusion, formulating his plan.  He found the spirits of two of Yrlan's dragon children, long dead, and forced them to reveal the secrets of their father's lair.  The necromancer raised an army of undead to prepare for battle at his command.
 
Kurssix timed his attack carefully, sending his undead minions into the countryside near the capital during the Festival of the Ancestors.  During this annual festival, no Saurians visited the lair of the ancient dragon.
 
Kurssix only needed to deal with the magic that protected Yrlan from intruder.  Kurssix coerced the details of these traps from the ghosts of Yrlan's children.  He hoped Yrlan did not change them in the many decades since those offspring died.
 
Kurssix found the secret entrance to the base of Yrlan's lair, and crept along the maze of tunnels.  He brought two powerful undead minions with him, a vampire and a slain bear he raised from the forest.  They would protect him from any other creatures that might be in the tunnels, and Kurssix would use them as fodder for any unforeseen traps.
 
Kurssix' confidence grew as he traversed the path to the dragon.  He dispelled the powerful magical wards and traps, recognizing they remained unchanged.  Within an hour, the Saurian and his minions reached the lair of the ancient god.
 
Upon entering the dragon's chamber, Kurssix gasped at the size of the creature.  The ancient dragon, his silver scales dulled with age to look more like iron, filled the massive chamber in all directions. 
 
Kurssix crept along the edge of the chamber, attempting to reach the dragon's head without disturbing its deep sleep.  He commanded his vampire minion to take on bat form and fly above the dragon while his bear guarded the exit.
 
The dragon's head rested upon the floor of the chamber, nearly 20 feet in length.  Two horns jutted from the top of its head, each twice the size of Kurssix.  The mad necromancer stared in awe at the great beast and thought to retreat, but his ambition and obsession overwhelmed him.
 
He cast the spell he prepared and practiced over the previous months.  If it worked, he would know power beyond anything imaginable.  If it did not, he would join his brother in death.
 
Kurssix spell drained the life force of the sleeping dragon.  The spell awoke Yrlan from his slumber, but too late for the ancient god to change his fate.  In a fit of rage, the dragon breathed its last, sending sparks of flaming acid out at his assailant.
 
The acid and flame engulfed Kurssix, destroying his armor and him with it.  Yet the spell completed, and Kurssix found himself reappearing next to his phylactery, a young dragon's claw, naked but alive.
 
He was a lich.  Kurssix felt the coldness of undeath and the power that came with it.  He felt the presence of his undead minions around him, and summoned them to his side with a thought.  Drunk on power, and angry at the dead dragon for causing him pain, Kurssix took a piece of the dragon's horn and one of its scales as trophies.
 
Kurssix strode from the mountain, confidant he could now complete his work.  As he exited the mountain tunnels he heard the distant sound of battle as his undead army continued to distract the Saurians.
 
Knowing they would come for him and disturb his work, Kurssix fled his homeland for the west, across the great ocean.  He found himself in Greystone, where he created a great magical lair to continue his dark work.
 
 
 
Kurssix the lich was a recent adversary of the Dungeons and Dragons group I occasionally run.  The party never fought the lich, but instead attempted to destroy his phylactery before he could be revived after a centuries long banishment.  They were successful in destroying the phylactery (or were they??).
 
I enjoyed writing this story as I painted this latest mini.  I used all the techniques I have been practicing, and I think the paint turned out really well.  I especially like the leathery look to the wings covering his shield.  I hope the pictures bring out the details well enough.  I think I need to have my wife take pictures of my minis in the future, as she's the one with the photography training!
 
I hope you enjoyed it as well.
 
Thanks for reading!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Editting the Story

I saw a story over at Comingsoon.net recently that stirred some thoughts on how to approach my story once I finish writing it and prepare to edit it.

Here are the videos.  If you have not seen them (and don't mind potential minor spoilers if you haven't seen the movies yet) watch them.




>



The first video, of a scene near the end of The Avengers, shows how much a scene can change in the editing process.

The start and end are similar enough to the movie.  Tony gets to Start Tower ahead of the rest of The Avengers and enters without the Mark VI armor.  It ends with Loki throwing him off the building and Mark VII saving him.  The Avengers arrive as the portal opens.

But the scene is quite different in between.  There are several distinct differences, like Thor and Banner flying to New York in the Quinjet.  This tells me many other story elements changed, if Thor and Hulk were not originally thrown from the ship as in the final movie.

The largest difference I noticed deals with Loki's power to manipulate and control people.  In this video, Loki uses illusion and suggestion to attempt to control Tony Stark.  As in the final movie, Loki's plan is to force The Avengers to fight Iron Man, but this early version is a much more elaborate ruse.  Loki imitates Jarvis and tries to get inside Tony's mind.  Tony plays along the entire scene in hopes to get the drop on Loki. 

This is all purely conjecture, but I guess Loki's powers of persuasion and manipulation were difficult to show on screen, especially in an action movie.  I imagine a lot of time was needed to properly explain his abilities.  What would take minutes of screen time, and might confuse viewers if done poorly, only took seconds with one minor change:  the staff.

By giving Loki his staff, he now has the power to control people in a simple and effective way.  It is obvious when watching the opening scene of Avengers that Loki is controlling the minds of Hawkeye and Selvik with the staff.  Adding the staff even works with this scene, as you get the funny moment where the staff cannot reach Tony's heart and therefore Loki's plan to control Iron Man fails.

The other two videos show other scenes that changed in the final movie.  I assume the Iron Man 3 scene wasn't as funny or useful an end for Trevor, so it was modified.  The final clip, of the Avengers, shows some minor tweaks to the final movie with one major difference.  There is a whole extra character in the scene!  I remember reading that Joss Whedon wanted to use The Wasp in The Avengers, and here is a little proof of that. 

I feel I learned a lot from these videos about the editing process.  As creators, we have to be willing to modify our creations.  We need to understand our stories well enough to fight for what is essential (Loki attempts to manipulate Iron Man and fails) while also understanding what details can change to make the story flow better (add a staff, remove an entire character!). 

I still have a ways to go before I edit Asa's or Trezl's stories, but this knowledge actually helps me write.  I do not have to get the details correct on the first draft.  I need to tell the story and understand the essentials as I push forward.  There will be more drafts (with the help of a good editor, I plan) where I can fix and tweak and change the story to make it enjoyable.

Thanks for reading.