A young girl. A diabolical gargoyle. A sacrifice to save the world. A smart young girl is unwillingly thrust into a frantic quest to save mysterious people and bizarre creatures from a deadly foe, determined to destroy everything--and everyone--she cares about. Thirteen-year-old Danielle had never thought of herself as adventurous until, alone, she must face two enormous gargoyles, Ercen and Kimar, and decide whether she trusts them. Was she kidnapped--as all the evidence indicates--or rescued from doom, like they say? Can she believe their assertion that she has a power to save the entire world from a diabolical gargoyle and his minions? How can a simple girl break the monstrous power of the key to the enemy's ghastly temple, crafted from the very soul of a broken, elderly woman? Danielle's epic journey will captivate readers as she confronts powerful threats, and finds perplexing friends along her dangerous path. With the help of a gargoyle names Lohxnahr, Danielle struggles against forces beyond her worst terrors. She must dig deep to find enough courage and resilience to challenge the rogue gargoyle commander of the renegade army, bent on seizing control of the human race. Full of wonder, suspense and adventure, this novel is a fun, page-turning fantasy that also asks serious questions about the true meaning of love, faith and friendship.
If you've followed me for a bit, you know by now that I wrote this story for an audience of one. My daughter was a teenager with a desire to read great fantasy books that didn't revolve around zombies or vampires. I'd had a fantasy story in my head for decades, but didn't have a sense of what creatures would be in it. So, quite randomly, I chose gargoyles as the primary creature in my fantasy series. This scene is where two important protagonists are introduced. It was a lot of fun to write, and my daughter fell in love with them. Two wins!
I enjoy writing fantasy. As a pantser, I'm the first person to be surprised by a scene or a witty bit of dialogue. This scene is one of those moments where I had no clue where the story was going, but as I typed...there it was! That doesn't mean, of course, that its always smooth sailing. After this story was first published, it soon became clear that everything about the cover needed to change: the title, the image, and even my name (this is when I switched to my pseudonym, Brandon King). So, just like and Paign and his friends, I had to regroup in a big, courageous, and determined way. I hope you enjoy this scene. BE BOLD. BE COURAGEOUS. #resolutions #grit #fantasy
Chances are high that you will be traveling during the holidays, if you're not already. My wish is that your journey is safe, your visits pleasant, your food is warm, your gratitude deep, your love widens...and that you don't care if things are messy when you return home. Be like Anders and Paign. #safetravel #merrychristmas #family #friends #gratitude
Some people think that courage is a characteristic of only the bravest person, someone who is utterly fearless. But courage isn't fearless. Being courageous is choosing to act from a place beyond our fear. Think of courage like an orange. An orange's tough outer surface protects the delicate fruit inside. Without the outer portion, the fruit wouldn't last. In a way, when people take a deep breath and confront whatever frightens them, they are forming a tough surface out of the desperate need for protection, of themselves or someone else. Courage is to humans what a rind is to an orange. Courage is a shield.
I've always loved stories that reveal heroic actions that come from characters "doing their best." They didn't view themselves as a hero. They simply did what came naturally to them, and their focus wasn't on themselves. Heroic actions are always taken for the benefit of someone or something else. And the best heroes are just like you and me; they're normal. Nothing particularly special about them. Yet, because of their love for another, they do something amazing...something heroic...for someone else. That's what I'm thinking about as I write scenes for my characters. It's love and care that turns them into heroes. And if they can be heroes, so can we.
Some writers seek stillness while they write. Others love hanging out in busy coffee joints, with a lot of background noise and distractions. I prefer to have music playing while I write, most often with no lyrics. When I wrote this scene a song I'd never heard from streamed onto Pandora. It's called "Snow Over Arizona," by the Stone Lions. The song became an instant favorite and actually inspired the entire chase sequence. I love this song and will always be grateful for it in forming one of my readers' favorite fight scenes. Thank you, Stone Lions!
Isn't it strange that in this age of "social platforms" dedicated to bringing people together, most people feel less connected and more isolated? When writing this story, it was important to me that I show how friends--real friends--can be found in the strangest places. Even more important was showing what real friendship looks like...and what it costs. Real friendships often begin like an uninvited guest. But eventually they become a priceless treasure.
Because I wrote this novel with only an audience of one in mind (my daughter), I wanted to show her, with strong examples, what deep parental love can (and should) look like. In this scene it was easy for me to tap into how my wife and I would be acting if our daughter was abducted. So, even in a fantasy novel, I was unintentionally following the famous rule: "Write what you know."
Alas, we are in the season of epic storms. Hurricanes are appalling even when they're "small" Category One storms. No one asks to be in their path, yet they come. Because I love to write adventure-driven fantasy I'll often weave roaring weather into the plotline. Still, the worst storms my characters face do not come from the random vagaries of barometric pressure swings. They come from methodically crafted and executed schemes.
How do handle stress? Have you ever had a time when you had to deal with something so frightening that the hit of adrenaline makes your body feel odd, like it does not work right? In writer's parlance, your writing improves the more you "show, don't tell." In other words, try to get your reader to feel like they're in the character's shoes. That's always my aim. So, when my characters face their worst fears, my goal is that you get a small hit of the adrenaline my characters are feeling.
One of the things I enjoy the most about camping are the surprises that come in the morning. Most of us are daily cocooned in our house, then our cars and finally another building (work or school), so we don't experience much of "The Great Outdoors." Camping changes all that. The smells of morning greet you: cool, fragrant air, scented by grasses, bushes, flowers and even trees. And the colors of the morning, unfiltered by glass or windshields, can be wondrous. Danielle discovered this on an unscheduled overnight stay in the high mountains.
Parents rightfully fear for their children's safety. Because they know that there really are monsters out there. But nothing could have prepared Freida's parents for the horror of their daughter's abduction by a real monster. Now fear could become their greatest enemy.
Character development can be a tricky thing. How much detail is actually too much? I suppose that's decided in the mind of the reader. There are a few fantasy novels I've read that frankly killed my interest in finishing them because of the massive detail injected into the story, like a cream filling gone wrong. My goal is to keep the story interesting and compelling...and easy to visualize, as if it's on a movie screen in my head. Although Gahrspat is a truly frightening bad guy, I love this scene.
It's funny how stories I grew up with influence the stories I write. When I wrote this passage I wasn't particularly thinking about the conversation Peter Parker had with his uncle, but it's in there. "With great power... comes great responsibility." And, more often than not, great suffering comes with the actions of responsibility.
A new teen brings a new world of challenges to her parents. Not the least is letting up on their impulse to protect. But like all good parents do, Danielle's parents still wondered, "Is she ready to handle the responsibility of looking out for herself?" Their worry was about to be severely tested.
Bearing grudges is a common human experience. But it never ends well, especially for the grudge-bearer. Can you imagine holding a grudge for hundreds of years? What would the result of that kind of hatred look like?
The world is changing. But change isn't always positive. As adults, we sometimes forget that kids don't want or need their parents or guardians to be their friends. They need them to be strong adults: reliable, caring, predictable and nurturing. So when I wrote The Quest for the Temple Key, my goal was to include strong parents, just like strong boys and girls. Not that they'd be superheroes. But that they'd rise to the challenges life throws at them. Often they fail. But they always stand up for what they believe in. See who you relate to in this excerpt and please consider reading The Quest for the Temple Key. #strongparents
Everyone loves a hero. But have you noticed that it's often the quiet person who unexpectedly rises to face the danger? There's something greater than fear that drives them. It might be curiosity. It might be an overwhelming desire to see justice done. But more often than not, they simply wish to protect those they love. Anders is strong like that, though he doesn't see himself that way. That's why he's a hero in the making. He thinks of others first.
I wrote this novel with an audience of one: my daughter. She was a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, as well as The Chronicles of Narnia. So Hermione and Lucy were characters she was attracted to. But I wanted her to be able to identify strongly with girls more like her. That's why the protagonist in The Gargoyle Chronicles is Danielle, because she is modeled after my daughter. It worked so well that she wrote a novel of her own with...you guessed it...a strong female protagonist. Girls that face their fears. Girls that are compassionate in the face of unkindness. #stronggirls #amazingdaughters
Not all heirlooms are welcome. Not all discoveries are good. And not all keys open doors you want to go through.
What would you do if faced with confusing information and frightening prospects? When dealing with difficult choices, are you the kind of person who goes with your gut, or do you need to seek all the data possible before making a decision? Most importantly, if you're with a small group of threatened people, either someone needs to take charge or the group must come to an agreement. But time is against you all. Waiting to make a decision is still a decision. But it could spell doom.
When I began writing this first chapter (in my first novel), my goal was to create a world--and a girl--that my teenage daughter could relate to. A regular girl. A normal girl. Nothing special about her. Nothing glittering. No vampires. No zombies. Since she was (and is) a hardcore fan of Harry, Hermione and Ron, plus the Pevensie kids and Aslan, it was important to kick the novel off with someone very relatable to her, but also humming with mystery and the promise of epic fantasy adventures. It worked! She loved it. Which required that I write a second chapter. Then a third. Now I’m working on the 5th novel in the series. Cooler still, seeing her dad dare to write a novel inspired her to write her own. She was 17 when it was published. Now, she’s editing the 2nd in her fantasy series.
You know those dreams you wish you could remember when you wake up? How about the ones you wish you could forget? Or the worst ones--those you can't seem to get out of? Those kind of dreams can take more than one shape.
When you're leaving childhood to enter the realm of the teenager, it's always good to have at least one close friend. Even when they're a pain most of the time.
Have you ever discovered something that bent your understanding of "how things should be"? How about discovering something that can't be explained? And what if the best theory that can be made changes the world as you know it?
Have you ever felt like someone was watching you? Then, you spin around and you see no one. Danielle was so excited going around her neighborhood, collecting her paper route money. But in her haste to get done, she went to the wrong house. Only when she knocked on the door did she realize it was the creepy abandoned house she and her friends avoided. By then, it was too late.
The Menace Returns. Friends Are Threatened. Trust Is Challenged. A year older and cleverer, Danielle distrusts the growing sense of dread that haunts her. She knows nothing of what hunts her friends. They know nothing of her foreboding. Soon they are all thrust back together in a relentless series of hunting or being hunted by an unholy foe, a mutant possessing horrifying powers and schemes. Or is there more than one? All His Wrath is a fast-paced story layered with complex twists and revelations. The adventures of Danielle and her friends take them deeper into the fantastical gargoyle kingdom than they would have ever chosen to go.
It's tough to be a kid these days. There are so many streams of worldviews coming at them, constantly, that it's far too easy for them to feel disconnected to the world around them. And too many of them could use an extra caring adult in their lives. That's why I include "grownups" in my stories. I love The Chronicles of Narnia, in part, because Lewis mashed up 2-3 generations into his plotlines. Kids need mature adults to guide them along. If they don't have access to them at home, maybe my grownup characters (some of the, anyway) can be a beacon for them, if even in a small way. [Apologies that italics are missing in the formatting of this section, for some reason.]
Did you know that ~80% of the human face feels like they have a book inside of them that needs writing, but only ~1% of us write that book? One reason for that huge gap is that writing is hard work. And once you write your story, then you discover a load of other challenges. Some days are harder than others. I'm sharing this scene with you because I like it. BUT I'M FRUSTRATED that after all the work that went into publishing it, none of the formatting came along for the ride. So, you'll need to sort out when Peter is thinking to himself, because the italicized text that instantly gives you a clue...isn't there. *sigh* #publishingproblems #writing #persistence #grit
As we head into Christmas week, are you excited to spend time with friends and family? For me, growing up was a special time full of seasonal events. Most of those I recall with warmth and gratitude. I hope that's true for you. In this scene from All His Wrath, we catch up with the Wheelens (who are remarkably similar to my own family). They've just discovered that something very magical had lain secret within their home. #happyholidays #merrychristmas #family #magical
When I was a teenager, my favorite stories were full of characters rising to face the challenges they were forced to contend with. I'd thrill to vicariously meet their challenge, hoping that I could bring those characters' daring into my real world. In other words, if they could overcome in a make-believe world, perhaps I could overcome, too. Our ancient ancestors relied on sharing timeless truths through spoken stories. Truths like bravery, loyalty and faithfulness. My goal is to do that, at least a little, using written stories.
If you've ever had a terrible fever (say, 103-104 degrees) for any length of time, you feel absolutely wretched. There are the aches and pain, so bad that it's hard to even want to move. Actual moving instantly brings regret. Then there's the difficulty of focusing on anything, so you'd just rather keep your eyes shut. Everything is surreal and awful, like a horrible dream you can't get out of. Yep, I used my experience of that kind of fever to write this scene, even though Paign's suffering comes from an entirely different source than mine did.
Can you remember a conversation where the primary means of communicating was through volume? Yeah, me too. In my experience (and I bet yours, too), the greater the volume the less understanding takes place. Which pretty much defeats the purpose, right? Silence is often the best communicator. Especially when we really want to understand... and be understood.
When i was a teen I first read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (in 3 days). My favorite character was Samwise Gamgee. And my favorite quote from Sam is this one: "It's like the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered." It was clear to me, even then, that the "great stories" have great conflicts, terrible odds, and frightening enemies. But more importantly, they have courage, grit, resolve and faith.
As a fantasy writer, I want my characters to feel like real people, like people you know. Maybe even like yourself. And the truth is, real people are generally doing their best to be their best. In other words, they have the best intentions at heart. But what matters most in our interactions with others is what we do when their "best intentions" fail miserably. Because that's when our best intentions are tested.
Long ago, a mystic wrote a poem about the dark night of the soul. In my story, I infuse this poem into the life of my character, Paign. Why do you suppose that's his name? There are seasons each of us must face that lack consolation. They require faith from us. And courage. A great deal of courage.
By the time I was writing Book 2 in my series, a primary goal was to show normal people facing down great threats by working together. We all need help to get through the regular challenges life brings, right? How much more so, then, when the threats are very real and extremely dangerous? A strong defense isn't found in a party of one.
As a fantasy fiction author, you do a lot of "world building." Which is great fun, of course. But its also great fun when I can weave real places into my stories (which I do a lot). Some years ago, a family trip took us through the wonderful town of Colton, WA. While we drove by the school, I instantly knew that something in my fantasy series would happen there. Eventually it did. Instead of a gargoyle protecting a gothic church, Kimar settles down on the roof of Colton's school because he needs a quiet place to think. See a little of what happens in this excerpt. Please consider reading the award-winning All His Wrath. #quietrooftops
President Franklin D. Roosevelt said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." But isn't that exactly what the enemy wants? Most importantly, what if the terror isn't unjustified? What people do when they're terrified reveals a lot about how they deal with fear.
I'm a "dog guy." That's why I integrate them into my stories (even non-fiction). Because when a dog bonds with their human, they'll protect them against anything. Even gargoyles.
In my experience of dreaming, the worst ones come during a fever. Nothing makes sense. Everything seems to be "off." Unbalanced. Bizarre. Be happy if you've never had one of these dreams born in smoldering synapses. But if you have had this kind of dream, you know what I'm talking about and you have my pity. Here's the thing, though. How would you react if you discovered that your fevered dream, oozing weirdness and dismay, wasn't a dream? What if it morphed into an unimaginable nightmare?
I suppose we all have them. You know, those dreams where you realize you're dreaming? Once in a great while, I've even been able to take a dream in the direction I wanted it to go. But a bad dream? Nope. A strange dream? Again, nope. The problem here is that Danielle can't determine if the dream she is aware of dreaming is one she wants to stay in, or if it is starting to go wrong in a hurry. And the gargoyle she's talking to in her dream isn't helping.
It often seems like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, that your neighbor has it better than you. But that's not true. In fact, sometimes it couldn't be less true.
Now, I like my morning coffee. But I also like it in the quiet hours. At least to begin the day. In the Wheelen home, coffee and quiet rarely go together.
Danielle's life changed for the darker when she was thrust into the bitter conflict between two factions of the gargoyle kingdom.
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