Monday, May 5, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Greetings, mortals. You stand in the glorious presence of the great…That sounds rather pretentious.  Old habits, and all. Let me start again.Hello, humans. I’m a fantasy author with a name you couldn’t pronounce. Humans often call me D. Wilder. I suppose the D must stand for dragon. I was recently invited by the wonderful Crazy Idealist herself to join a blog tour for writers to talk about their writing process. Who is the Crazy Idealist you might ask? First, slap yourself for not knowing. Go on, I’ll wait. Good. Second, let me offer you her bio:

"Charlotte Ashlock works for Berrett-Koehler Publishers, which specializes in nonfiction books about making the world a better place.  In her free time, she writes YA fantasy, rants about social justice online, and spends time with her seven roommates and twelve chickens."

I can tell you she does in fact make the world a better place just by being there. She’s a lovely person who champions the sort of causes dragons quite agree with. Do be sure to read her own blog right here: Crazy Idealism

So thank you Charlotte, for inviting me to this blog tour. Now, does please hit the jump to keep reading!

Though, I’m not quite sure why she wanted a dragon’s input on writing. What, does it surprise you that a dragon can also be a writer?

Believe it or not, we’re not all rampaging monsters intent on death, fire and destruction. Damn Hobbit movies are giving us all a bad name again. Not that I won’t shed a tear when old Smaug dies. He was the most fascinating character in that series. Just what must have happened to him in his hatchling days to make him such a twisted old bastard?

We’re not all like that, despite what fantasy media would have you believe. Dragons at not all heartless beasts, pleased only by slaughter. Any creature that has the ability to put thought to word also has the ability to make its own decisions. Just as creature with that level of sentience also experiences the same breadth of emotions that you humans do. I assure you, we have far more emotions roiling beneath our scales than simple anger and narcissistic self-satisfaction.

We dragons are just as capable of joy and fear, hope and sorrow as any other thinking creature. Dragons can feel every bit as much love as they can hate. A dragon has hopes and dreams for his own life just as any human does. Usually, we hope for a mountain of treasure, a mate to share it with, and for humans to stop trying to stick sharp things in us.

That hurts, you know.

Some of us even hope that our hatchlings may one day know a world in which we don’t have to hide ourselves away in dank caverns. A world they don’t have to fear some so-called hero putting a spear in their belly just because they were born a creature that somehow resembles some icon of evil. But I digress.

The point is, we’re not monsters. As long as we’re on the subject of what dragons are not, let me also say, a dragon is not a damn lizard. That stereotype really rattles my spines. Just because we have scales does not mean we’re lizards. You know what else has scales but is not a lizard? A pangolin. …Yes, run to your precious Wikipedia if you must. I’ll wait.

Are you back? Good. You see, Pangolins are mammals with scales.

Dragons, much like pangolins, are warm-blooded creatures that happen to have scales. We’re certainly not true reptiles. Besides the warm blood we also have six limbs. Yes, I’m counting our wings. That’s not even to mention our sentience and ability to speak. Dragons are a unique class of life combining the traits of a variety of other species. Class, is that the right word? I’m afraid I’m a bit murky on the taxonomic terms humans use to define things. No matter. We’re dragons, and we’re fantastic.

Some would even say we’ve traveled a similar evolutionary path to gryphons, as they also have six limbs and combine the traits of other species. Though, I’m not sure how I feel about being compared to those adorably, self-obsessed fluff birds. They’re nice enough creatures for the most part, but I’d never met something that can out-smug a dragon until I met a gryphon. And must they preen so much? Your feathers are fine, bird, pay attention to the dragon already.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Writing.

What am I working on?

I’m writing several character-driven fantasy novels. For now I’m sharing them for free on my blogs. Though I’m a dragon, and I do love treasure, I don’t believe in charging for incomplete products. So while I may eventually release a finalized print version for sale, until that time you can read them all for free.

The Black Collar is the novel I originally started the blog for. That beautiful cover art adorning the top of my blog is in fact, a scene from The Black Collar. Yes, spoilers, I know. Now shush.

The Black Collar about a dragon named Alvaranox who is enslaved to the protection of a frontier town. Alvaranox was captured in the wilderness beyond the town in his youth, dragged back in chains, and placed within the titular black collar. The collar holds a powerful magic that binds itself to the dragon heart and soul, and in turn it binds the dragon to the city of Asterryl. For the rest of his days, he must protect that city from any and all threats, even if it costs him his life.

It’s already cost him his freedom and the company of other dragons. It’s a lonely life for Alvaranox, though he’d never admit it. Poor Alv’s taken to drinking in his later years. Let’s face it, if I was enslaved to the protection of an ungrateful town, I’d be drunk too. At least Alvaranox has his friendship with Nylah and Kirra, the human women who serve as his so-called handlers. Though Nylah is technically retired, she’s still the only one Alvaranox trusts completely.

Alv also has his pet fish. Yes, Alvaranox has a pet fish. It began as a prank. One of the townspeople dumped a fat silver fish into one of the dragon’s water troughs in the middle of the night. You know how villagers can be, always pranking the poor dragons. Alv was going to just eat the damn thing, till he saw it swimming in frantic circles. The fish was desperate to live, desperate to be free, yet trapped forever in that barrel. When the dragon realized they shared an affliction, he could not bring himself to kill the stupid fish. Which is what he named it. Stupid Fish.

Just don’t expect him to admit he has a pet. A dragon would never admit caring for such a thing.

Alvaranox wraps himself in a shroud of sarcasm and bitterness, but deep down he’s lonely. He remembers the beautiful, wild land they dragged him from, he remembers the voice of his mother, the touch of a former mate. Yet it’s been ten years now since he’s even seen another dragon. Alvaranox is terrified that his life will pass as nothing more than a lonesome guard dog chained to a thankless post. He hides his pain behind bristling spines, an acid tongue and a dirty mouth, yet he never quite gives up hope of one day being free. He speaks of his hope in quiet whispers when he’s alone with Nylah, staring at the stars.

When the story begins, Alvaranox is locked an epic struggle with a monstrous hangover that’s interrupted by hallucinations. The whole world around him is swept away in an instant, replaced by an endless waste of cracked red earth and broken black rock. An ebony bell carved with the same dragons in flight that mark the collar hovers above the shattered earth. A spectral silver hammer rings the bell, Alvaranox’s call to battle. It’s the same vision the dragon sees any time any time the city faces a threat.

Though Alvaranox hates the sound of the bell that tolls in his head, the dragon has grown used to it over the years. He’s battled bandits, beasts, monsters and even the elements themselves to protect Asterryl’s citizens. He’s always come away mostly unscathed, but the threat he’s sent to deal with in the early chapters of The Black Collar alters his life in every way.

Before long, Alvaranox is clinging to life and stuck in a nose dive into crazy. He’s wrapped in fever dreams of burning cities and endless wastelands, his memories are blurring and falling apart, and his hallucinations grow until he’s seeing through the eyes of other dragons. As his newest handler Kirra becomes his primary anchor to sanity, Alvaranox finds their new friendship growing deeper and deeper. How embarrassing for a dragon. Oh, and people keep trying to kill him.

You know, the usual.

So that’s The Black Collar. I’ve already said too much, but I have done my best to leave out any major spoilers. It’s a very character-driven and mystery-laden story, told told primarily through Alvaranox’s point of view. There are currently 18 Chapters posted and available right here:

It’s being told in serialized fashion, one lengthy, multi-chapter installment at a time. The next chapters will be posted soon, so you may as well start reading now.

Another novel I’m working on and will soon be posting is called The Volunteer Maiden. Where The Black Collar is a dark, emotionally intense story, The Volunteer Maiden is more of a fun, light-hearted tale. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its own emotional impact, but it was intended from the very beginning to be something more fun and light.

It was an idea that was knocking around in my head for a while, and after tweeting funny dialogue back and forth with a friend of mine on Twitter, she talked me into writing it. I’ll be sure to point her out for blame down in the bio section below.

The Volunteer Maiden is my take on the old trope of the dragon kidnapping sacrificial maidens. As the name implies, in this story the maiden in question actually volunteers herself to the dragon’s service.

The story begins with the dragon Galvarys going to collect his monthly tribute. He has a truce with the local villages. The dragon no longer burns things down, and they no longer stick sharp things in him. Furthermore, they offer him monthly treasures, and he helps keep their roads and villages safe. Everything was working fine for both parties until Galvarys arrives to find a girl awaiting him instead of treasure. After a thorough interrogation, he determines the girl hasn’t stolen his tribute. And by thorough, I mean bumbling.

Let’s just say Galvarys isn’t quite the legendary dragon as he aspires to be.

It turns out that the local mayor has in fact sent the dragon a girl as tribute, instead. The dragon wants little to do with the terrified young waif and returns her home to her village. The mayor’s heard the tales and assumes that dragons demand virgin maidens for all sorts of perverse reasons. Naturally, Galvarys finds this highly insulting. But he gets it into his head that a female human servant is a very high status symbol as would befit a legendary dragon.

Galvarys demands they find him a new maiden. Specifically, an older woman this time, with some courage to her, and none of this virgin nonsense.

Dragons prefer experienced females.

It’s not long before a woman named Elyra hears of the dragon’s demands. Elyra has spent most of her life in servitude, branded in her youth as an enemy of the people. The only life she’s ever known since she was a girl is one of her humiliation and abuse. Elyra’s used as both a maid and a whore for the group of nobles in control of the country. When she overhears them talking about the dragon’s request for a maiden, she decides on the spot to volunteer herself. After all, she’d rather serve one wicked beast than a dozen cruel men.

Though Elyra expects to have to serve the dragon’s pleasures the same way she’s been made to serve the nobles, she soon discovers that’s not what he’s interested in. Yet her courage fascinates the dragon, and the dragon’s crude bluntness and life of total freedom fascinates Elyra in turn. She also gets something from the dragon she’s never had in all her life.


It’s not long before Elyra finds herself enjoying the dragon’s lifestyle, and begins to help him grow his influence among the villagers. Elyra finds herself growing from Galvarys’ maiden to his minion, and from his minion to his friend. Beneath the dragon’s layers of armor and ego, Elyra finds a kindred soul with long-buried wounds of his own. As their feelings deepen, Elyra decides to let the dragon in on a secret the nobles would never want him to know. All the while, Galvarys has enemies of his own moving in the shadows, looking to bury steel and claw deep in the dragon’s back.

This is the basis for The Volunteer Maiden. It’s a story that began as any idea for a fun, character-driven novella for adults, possibly even with a dollop of fantasy erotica involved. It didn’t take long to blossom into a novel with an unexpected romance. It’s taken on themes such as the boundaries of love, and how people move on from trauma in different ways.  But don’t let that give you the wrong idea. Above all, it’s a fun, light-hearted, comical, character driven fantasy novel for adults. There’s nothing especially explicit in it, but like all my work it’s geared for an adult audience.

You can find its earliest chapters for free, right here: The Volunteer Maiden

What else am I actively writing? Several short stories, a few novel ideas. I’m also busy writing the 10th installment of an Adult Fantasy Novel series I post on some furry/fantasy sites. It’s a story that began as character-driven fantasy erotica, yet soon blossomed into full-on heartbreaking fantasy novels. It’s my longest piece, over all, and at this point it’s dropped the erotica element entirely. Even during the erotica installments it was all about the characters, story, and emotions. It’s evolved from fantasy erotica with a heavy emotional undercurrent into a tear-jerking saga of love, loss, the ties of family, the crumbling of empires, the cost of doing what’s right, and the idea of children forced to bear the weight of their ancestors’ sins.

It concerns a dragon named Valyrym kept prisoner beneath a castle for so long that no one can actually remember why he’s there. The first few installments concern his new warden, a woman named Alia who has been promoted to the position under mysterious circumstances. She has no idea what the dragon’s done to be imprisoned, but decides from day one to treat him with as much respect as he’s willing to treat her. Over the next few installments she and the dragon slowly come to trust one another until the dragon finally opens up to her. From there, Valyrym tells her a tale of love and heartbreak beyond her imagining. A tale of her own ancestors, from a homeland she never knew. That was the point when the story grew into full-fledged fantasy novel terrain. When the dragon’s story is finally over, that is when the echoes of past sins reach into the present and rest of the novels truly begin.

For now, I have not yet made those publically available because of the erotica scenes present early on. I’m considering a second blog for my works with erotica, and I could post it there for those interested. I’m also considering editing out the sex scenes, and releasing those versions here on my usual blog. I do plan to post an edited version of at least one of the stories in the future, though it won’t be totally sex-free. And really, you don’t want to tell a dragon you’re cutting their sex scene. That makes them angry. I should know.  

The novel from that series I’ll be posting first, though, is actually the 4th installment. It was the first in the series to go full-on novel, and the first to make the vast majority of its readers cry. A lot. It’s also one of the most self-contained. I need to edit it a bit so that it reads well outside the context of the larger series, but that should not be too hard to do.

When its ready, you can find it here: Silver Rain, Crimson Blood

I’m already offering an excerpt chapter from the 8th installment, which takes place well after it had become a series of fantasy novels. This chapter is told entirely from a dragon hatchling’s POV, and needless to say, it’s so adorable it nearly melts my scales.

Read it here: A Hatchling's Day  Life’s more fun for a hatchling.

There. I think I’ve rambled on long enough about what I write. By all means, please leave a comment if you have one, or you’ve any questions to ask me. Or you can reach me on Twitter, of course.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The dragons. The dragons, and the character-driven nature, and the powerful emotions. But especially the dragons.

A lot of authors write about dragons. A lot of books have dragons in them. Yet most of the dragons in fantasy literature, films, and games are psychotic murderers at beast, and generic monsters at worst. Smaug is a wonderful creation, but let’s be honest. I’ve seen better developed characters in an erectile dysfunction commercial. Yes, he’s greedy and evil, I get it. But he’s also a sentient creature, so something must have made him that way. Of course, the average author doesn’t seem interested in exploring that.

But why not? Do we not praise a fully-developed human villain? Do we not enjoy shows and books in which the villain gets a point of view, gets fleshed out, gets developed as an actual character? A fully-developed villain makes for a far better story, don’t you think? Then why is it so often that when a dragon is used as a villain, he’s little more than a fiery cardboard cutout. A metaphor for some dark part of humanity.

Need monster for hero to slay? Insert dragon here.

I think not!

I like my characters to be fully-developed, including my villains. That goes double for  dragons.

I take pride in the fact that in all my work, my dragons are very well-realized characters. They’re as fully-developed and fleshed out as any of the human characters in my stories. I’ve been told that my dragons seem so real, so complete, that it’s as if I crawl around inside my dragon’s skin. Actually, I crawl around inside my own, but that’s beside the point.

In my novels, the dragon is often the main character. Alvaranox is the main character of The Black Collar, and most of the story is seen through his point of view. In The Volunteer Maiden, Galvarys may take second billing to Elyra, but he’s certainly a main character in his own right. At least one third of the point of view in that story is dragon point-of-view.

Even the gryphon villain of Volunteer Maiden gets plenty of POV. No, I’m not picking on gryphons, and I don’t consider him evil. He’s just…well, let’s say he has reasons to despise and oppose Galvarys. I’m hoping he’ll be as fleshed out a character as the Galvarys and Elyra are.

I feel that showing your world through the eyes and experiences of a non-human character such as a dragon can better illuminate that world. It works both ways, seeing dragons and humans through each other’s eyes helps shed light on new facets of both characters. Obviously many stories use multiple points of view, yet so often even if there is a dragon, or non-human character, their viewpoint is utterly ignored. Or worse, they’re mere animals. How boring. I hate seeing dragons reduced to nothing more than a plot device.

Beyond the fact that I put great effort into developing them as characters, my dragons themselves differ from those often portrayed in fantasy. They are very much flesh-and-blood beings. They’re not magical, they’re biological. There’s nothing mystical about them, they’re not pre-destined for good or evil. They’re just creatures trying to survive like anyone else. Any wisdom they have is accrued from their own experiences in life. My dragons are primal, some would say crude. I prefer to think of them as “alive.” They breathe and bleed, they hope and dream, they love and hate, they hurt and fear, they laugh and swear, they hunger and they lust.

Was that a gasp I heard? Dragons that lust? Grow up. Do you know who else lusts? Humans. All of them. Every single one. And so does every other living being.

Why should dragons be any different?

All too often a fantasy novel will spend time with the sexuality of its human characters. A knight may ogle barmaids in a tavern, a prince may sneak out into the city to have himself a wench. Their wandering thoughts may drift to sex. Often times that sex is even detailed in the story itself. There’s certainly a famous fantasy novel series with enough sex in it to satisfy an entire clan of dragons. Readers don’t bat an eye because that sort of behavior comes naturally to humans.

Believe it or not, it comes naturally to dragons as well. Really, where did you think dragons came from in the first place? We’re not spawned from the nightmares of children, you know. So why is it that a book may go to great lengths to tell the reader all about its human character’s desires and sexual appetites, yet if it has a sentient dragon character, that dragon might as well be a totally asexual being? By the same token, when dragons do express their sexuality, why should that surprise people?

It shouldn’t.

My dragons are flesh and blood beings, with flesh and blood desires. Now, I’m not saying my stories go out of their way to detail my dragon’s various mating adventures, but don’t be surprised if the subject comes up. Or if the dragon thinks about it.

I write dragons for adults. Sex is a normal part of most adult’s lives and thoughts, even if you don’t want to admit it. Especially an adult dragon. That’s enough on that subject, though I feel a future blog post coming up that may delve a little deeper into that idea.

Yes, I said delve deeper. Now stop snickering. Feel like I’m herding a bunch of hatchlings who just heard a dirty word.

You’ll also find that my stories tend to be more intensely-character driven than some. Now, that’s not so say that there aren’t action scenes, shocking plot twists, or grand machinations at work behind the scenes. What it means is as a writer and a reader, I’m more interested in the characters’ lives, and how the greater plot affects them than I am which of the three secret bastard princes might actually be pulling which hidden string at which moment. A string of gory, death-filled action sequences, an event-skimming one-chapter trek across the entire realm, and shocking reveal that the bastard prince is actually just a toad in disguise doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t care about any of the characters themselves.

A good example from my own work would be the larger plot taking place across the span of The Black Collar. There’s a much larger plot at work that’s wrapped up in the history of the world. That plot is also entwined the greatest mysteries in the story, and it’s carefully unveiled as the story goes on. It’s not the sort of novel that hurries you through the plot without giving you a chance to get to know and care about the characters. The reader learns most of the larger story as Alvaranox himself does. I’d like to think that by the time Alvaranox starts to learn just what’s really going on, the reader has become quite invested in the dragon and his human friends.

 With that emphasis on character comes what I hope is an increased depth of emotion in my stories. I’ve been told that is the case, at least, and it makes me a very proud dragon every time someone tells me they cried or jumped out of their chair to cheer while reading my work.

I feel that once you know the characters very well, once you’ve spent a lot of time with them, all the triumphs and tragedies they suffer are that much more magnified for the reader. Yes, a short story about someone losing their losing a loved one can make you cry. But getting to know a character for two hundred pages, and then seeing their suffering when they lose someone they loved? That can make you sob. Conversely, a short story can make you happy, but seeing someone you’ve grown to love over an entire novel finally succeed? That can make you cheer.

Why do I write what I do?

I write the stories I want to read.

I want to read character-focused fantasy novels with fully fleshed-out dragon characters. I want to read books that touch my heart with well-developed fantasy creatures. I want to see dragons developed as more biological, less mystical. I want to read about dragons taken seriously as creatures and characters. I don’t want to see them used as plot devices and I don’t want to see a story all about killing some “evil dragon.” Those stories have their place, and they can be very good, but they are not for me.

I want to read about dragons written for adults. There are wonderful books with dragons out there for children and teenagers and I certainly recommend them. I’ve got quite a stack of them myself. After all if they have dragon characters that aren’t not heartless villains, I’d like to read them. But in the end, I want to read dragons written by adults, for adults. I want my dragons taken seriously in every way.

To use the obvious, currently-popular comparison, I want to read a Game Of Thrones with…Oh, I’m sorry, should I use the book series title instead? Fine. I want to read something with the feel of Song Of Ice and Fire, with some dragon characters. Yes, I know there are dragons in it, but I said dragon characters, not dragon plot devices. I want to read novels like that, that happen to have dragon/gryphon/etc characters in it that are as fully fleshed out and developed as the human characters.

Now I don’t mean it needs to have an epically complex plot with so many characters you need seven charts just to keep track of them. Nor do I mean that everyone you love has to die before the series is even finished. But I want something with that lived-in feel, a real, difficult world, where the characters are rarely simply black or white. A book where the sex and violence are not always pleasant to read but they damn sure feel like a natural part of that world. Given my choice, it would have both dragon and human main characters, because I love watching that sort of bond and friendship develop among species that are often antagonistic.

So, I started writing it myself.

Now, I don’t want people to get the wrong idea. I don’t believe all dragons must be heroic. My dragons are just as capable of evil as they are of good. I don’t believe in the concept of an “evil race”, that’s a trope that drives me mad. My dragons can be heroes, or villains, or anything in between. Most of the time they’re somewhere in the middle.

There are so many fantastic fantasy novels out there, and yet those with truly well-developed dragon characters are few and far between. There are some out there, of course. The Temeraire books, the Age Of Fire series, The Dragon Delasangre, Song In The Silence, Elvenblood, and so on. I especially like Song In The Silence, as it had not only dragon/human friendship, but even dragon/human love. Awww, so cute it makes my frills flush.

…Stop laughing.

Even if you took all those books together, they’re but a drop in the ocean that is fantasy with evil, monstrous, or animalistic dragons. There’s a niche out there just waiting to be filled, and that is the niche I always find myself searching for at the book store.

Once again, I write the stories I want to read.  

How does your writing process work?

Ah, well, you see I scratch my claws against a stone tablet.

Alright, so that’s nonsense. I’m a modern dragon. I use a keyboard and a computer like everyone else. Yes, I know, a dragon using a computer, and typing on a keyboard. I’ll give you a moment to scoop up as much of your melted brain as you can. It should keep for a little while if you’ve got some Tupperware.

My forepaws, just like those of my dragon characters, serve just as well as hands. Though we walk upon them, our fingers are quite agile. We also have fully opposable thumb digits. Though our hands may not be quite as dexterous as you bipeds, they certainly do the trick for us. We can hold things, manipulate tools, write, carve, paint, and in my case, type. It also helps that our claws are fully retractable.

Yes, yes, go ahead and make your feline comparison. My readers know that we also purr, so you may as well get it all out of your system.

I don’t use a standard human keyboard. They’re far too small and fragile for a dragon’s paws. Instead, I have a customized dragon-appropriate keyboard. All the keys are quadruple-size, and crafted in sturdy, scratch-resistant materials. They’re also spill resistant, because I’m a dragon who cannot write without having some kind of beverage to habitually gulp down as I write. Usually it’s either caffeinated or alcoholic.

Usually I just sprawl out upon my belly while I write, but my keyboards also have adjustable pedestals so I can raise them when I want to sit upon my haunches. I also have a newer, touch-screen keyboard. All the symbols glow, and it illuminates my paws as I type. I’m hesitant to use it often though, because I feel like I’m going to break the damn thing. Plus I miss that old clacking sound. As for my monitor, I’ve just re-purposed a large flat screen TV.

I know another dragon who uses a Bluetooth headset and a speech-to-type program, but that wouldn’t work for me. I find that while I often mutter the story to myself as I write it, I prefer the way the story flows through me when I type it.
I also require music at all times during my writing process. I’ve got myself a few pairs of headphones tailored for a dragon. Of course they’re much larger than yours, but they are also designed to accommodate my head spines and frills. They have an extra-deep arch over the top to fit across my head, and the ear cups are a little more oblong to accommodate my frilled ears. They also have a specialized volume reduction and sound mixing capability to avoid damaging my hearing. Dragons have very sensitive ears, you know, and though we may love music, our hearing range is a little different than yours is.

I must listen to music while writing because it helps me drown out the outside world. It helps me reach that special moment when everything else around me falls away, and the only world there in existence is that of my story. I know I’ve found myself in the zone when I stop hearing the music at all. Suddenly the album is finished and I’ve got to pause to put in a new one. And yes, I still listen to CDs more often than anything digital. I prefer the experience of listening to an entire work start to finish rather than jump around song to song, artist to artist.

As for the writing itself, there are those who would call me a “pantser.” I don’t like that term, because I’m a dragon, and I don’t wear pants. Pants are for creatures who are ashamed of their own anatomy. Dragons are anything but ashamed of themselves. Oh, don’t mutter and shake your head. If you don’t like the fact that creatures have certain anatomical features, then here’s an idea. Don’t look there.

Beyond that, the whole term “pantser” comes from an expression that makes no sense whatsoever to a dragon. I was told it means that you fly by the seat of your pants. Forgoing the fact that we don’t wear pants, what the hell does that even mean? Here’s a bit of information you might interesting.

Pants can’t fly. Not by their seats or anywhere else. As a creature that can fly, I assure you pants cannot. If your pants appear to be flying, I’m afraid you’ve likely fallen from a very high altitude. I suspect you’ll spend your last moments wishing your trousers were in fact capable of more than simply hiding your genitals. Or perhaps you’ve simply taken them off and they’ve blown away. That’s not really flying though, is it? They certainly haven’t taken you with them. Do you hear that sound as you chase them across the meadow? That’s the sound of a dragon laughing at the pants-less idiot chasing his coverings through the wind.

Whatever term you use, I discover much of my story as I write it. I always have general ideas for the plot, and I usually have some kind of ending in mind, but it’s rarely long before I’ve thrown that ending out. It only takes a couple chapters before my characters start to develop in unexpected ways, and start making choices and decisions I never anticipated. The long and winding roads my stories travel are never the same pathway I first anticipated, yet I think they’re always better tales for it.

Some authors can plot out everything in advance. They outline every chapter and stick to every detail. Some of them can spin fascinating stories in such a fashion, but I cannot. If I force myself to stick to some pre-ordained path, I feel it robs my story of spontaneity, of life. A story that develops and changes as it grows has an organic nature, a fluid sense of the unknown, a spark of life that can be harder to replicate when following a rigid outline note by note. I want a story to maintain a sense of mystery. Life never goes according to plan, so why should a story?

I often find my favorite scenes, moments and twists are those which I never saw coming. Quite often these completely alter the very nature of my entire tale. I end up throwing out whatever ideas I had because they no longer apply. Yet, inevitably, I find that makes the story stronger. I’ve been told my stories rarely seem to go the way people expect, and I tell them that’s because they didn’t go the way I expected, either.

Of course that adds a new set of challenges. For one, I never really know how close I am to finishing the tale until I’m actually at the end. It also means extra editing time, and often extra re-writes. Sometimes I’ve got to go back and totally change a scene to reflect the new direction the story took. Other times I may have to go back in order to add new chapters to showcase a new and important POV that I didn’t originally anticipate.

Such is the case with Volunteer Maiden. I won’t share any more than 5 chapters or so just yet because I’m about to go back and add in a third POV early on. As I’d mentioned, there is a gryphon character in it, but I hadn’t quite realized the importance and scope of his involvement until much later in the story. So, I’ll be adding chapters with his POV earlier on than originally anticipated. I’m looking forward to it.

As much extra work as that may add, I always find it improves the story in the end.

That’s the most important thing, after all. To write the best story I can, regardless of how long it takes me.

I’ve been writing for my own enjoyment for a long time now. I used to struggle and struggle to hit a daily goal of 2,000 words. It’s a goal that Stephen King recommended in his memoir, and I decided to start working towards it. It was very difficult at first, but now I can crank out 2,000 words in an hour or so on a good day. The most important thing is practice, practice, practice.

I think that’s about it for this dragon, actually. If I had any parting words, I would tell you to write every day, even if you’ve only got a few minutes to do so.

Every word you write will make you a better writer, and a faster writer.

Oh. I’d also tell you to respect dragons, damn it.

Now, onto my friends! I’ve selected four wonderful…well, three wonderful people, plus a gryphon. I kid of course. The gryphon is wonderful as well. Just don’t tell her I said that, I’ll never live it down. Dragons and gryphons have habit of antagonizing one another, but it’s all in good fun. We’re united in the fact that we never receive enough respect as characters.

Do please click their names to find your way to their respective blogs where next week, they’ll each be continuing this blog tour.

First up is my dear friend Theresa Snyder. Theresa is in some ways directly responsible for this very blog. Back when I posted just to the furry sites, she contacted me on twitter and expressed an interest in reading the first installment of The Black Collar. So I emailed it to her, and she immediately fell in love with Alvaranox and his story. She encouraged me…no, urged me to share it with more people, and so I started the Black Collar blog. So thank you, Theresa, for that encouragement.

Theresa is the author of a wide variety of fiction, not the least of which is her middle grade fantasy series, The Farloft Chronicles. Do you know why it’s fantastic series? Because it has dragon characters. In fact, the title character is a dragon. They’re charming books, and Farloft is a dragon for the ages. Also he’s green, and green dragons are spectacular. Read them. Right now. Then give them to your children to read as well, let the next generation grow up knowing dragons as something more than heartless beasts. Theresa is currently hard at work with a few other authors on the second book in the Twin Cities series, a paranormal/shifter series. You can find the first book in that series right here: Shifting In The Realms

Next we have J Elizabeth Hill. She, much like Theresa, is soon to be responsible for people reading more of my writing. In this case, she’s the one who talked me into writing The Volunteer Maiden in the first place. J and I chat on Twitter, usually about dragons, story ideas, and humorous dialogue. One day I was bouncing comical dragon/human banter off of her, based on my ideas for Volunteer Maiden. She liked it so much that she grasped my head by my horns and wouldn’t stop shaking me until I agreed to write it. At least, that’s how I remember it happening. At the time I thought Volunteer Maiden would be a short story…then it became a novella…then a short novel…and so on. But thank you for pushing me to write it, I’ve quite fallen in love with Galvarys and Elyra’s tale.

J is the author of the Mirrors Of Bershan series, and in addition to being a fantasy author she’s also an avid fan of dragons. That alone makes her fantastic. She’s got three books in that series available now, the first of which you can find right here: Bound

Up next is Cheryl Matthynssens. Cheryl is a self-proclaimed draconologist, and her blog reflects that. That means she studies dragons. Which, obviously, is as noble a study as one could possibly have. It also means she knows understands we’re not all monsters. Better yet, her own writing reflects that. Her series is entitled The Blue Dragon’s Geas, and involves a blue dragon named Renamaum seeking to restore an age-old pact between man and dragon. What’s that, you say? A dragon who actually wants to improve relations with humans? Yes, now you see why I want you to read her work.

You can find her first book, entitled Outcast, right here: Outcast

Finally, we have the lovely gryphon Jess. E. Owen. Though she might be a bit too clever for her own good and enjoys hurling playful insults at dragons before darting way, she’s still a wonderfully talented gryphon. She does for gryphons what I do for dragons. That is, she takes a creature often maligned to the sidelines or treated as little more than an animal or plot device, and makes them main characters. Her gryphons are the stars of her books, along with sentient wolves, and they’re as fleshed out as characters can be.

You can find the first book in her Summer King chronicles right here: Song Of The Summer King Plus, beautiful cover art by Jennifer Miller. If you’re lucky, she may still have some limited edition hardcovers available on her website!

So, that’s it. I hope I haven’t bored you too badly with my ramblings. Thank you for taking the time to read the thoughts that tumble out of a dragon’s mind. Do follow the links in their names to the next four author’s blogs. Monday, the 12th, they’ll each by posting their own blog to continue this tour. Next Monday I’ll be update my blog with direct links as I get them.

If you’ve enjoyed my mutterings, feel free to leave me a comment, or say something on Twitter.


  1. Amazing blog my new friend! From Keensight.

    1. Thank you! Very glad you enjoyed it. I thought this blog tour could use a dragon's voice! All those humans were getting awfully pompous.