Disfigured By Hatred, Redeemed By Love


Today, I’d like to offer an exclusive peek into my novel-in-progress, “Lies We Tell”. LWT is about the struggles of two women who are both scarred by their past, physically and emotionally. Here’s the tagline from the novel, ‘Disfigured by hatred, but redeemed by love…’

This is a special deleted scene between the two main characters, Honour Elliot and Bree Donovan.


Bree looked down at her boots and then directly at Honour. “On occasion, my right leg becomes nearly useless. The doctors are unable to explain why. I have resigned myself to it. However, it is increasingly difficult to hide the condition. When the weakness strikes, I am unable to do little more than shuffle to use the facilities.”

“Why do you hide it?”

Bree looked out at the mausoleum as she answered. “I am a proud woman, Miss Elliot. You must realize there are many who would exploit my weakness. I cannot be seen as weak.”

“I’m sure you wouldn’t have anyone on staff who would take advantage of you. From what I hear, they are all extremely loyal to you.”

“I believe Mrs. Vaughan suspects. When I am laid up and unable to take my meals in the dining room, she has brought trays up to me, but she never speaks of those times. Nor have I.”

“I see.” Honour nodded. “You needed someone to not only trust with your estate but also with your secret.”

“You have proven to be as astute as you are reputed to be. Discretion was also assured.”

“Your secret is as safe with me as my own, Miss Donovan.”

Bree studied Honour carefully and nodded once again. “My condition has been known to creep up on me some days, and on occasion slam into me suddenly. It’s duration is also unpredictable. I’m afraid I can tell you no more than that.”

So there’s your exclusive peek! Intrigued? Want to see more? Drop me a line at dragonquillca@gmail.com or in the comments section on this post!

3 Tips To Get Your Book Noticed By Readers

All things to think of once we finish the book and are looking to the next step.

Dan Alatorre

head shot Your humble host

I don’t know if the following graphic is true or not; let’s say it is. The sample is the biggest seller of books.


That means a reader is shopping (on Amazon, most likely) in their preferred genre. Doesn’t make sense that they’d read samples on a random basis.

So I assume they are shopping their genre (or not) but THE COVER must be catching their eye or it wouldn’t be ranked so high. That means you need a professional looking cover. Is yours professional looking? Do you know how to test that?

The next highest ranked item is the blurb – pretty much can’t read a blurb without seeing the cover first. It’s hard to scan just for blurbs. The cover makes them pause to read the blurb. The blurb causes them to want more story.


Then comes the sample, because rarely would somebody read a…

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The Ambassador-Part Two


(A work-in-progress. the first part can be found here  I hope you enjoy it. I look forward to your comments!)

And now, the continuation


I scratched the side of my nose while I considered his words, and my sanity. “Why do you need an ambassador?”

“To help pave the way for our return. Far too many think my kind are creatures of fiction and legend. We were once respected and feared.”

“Is that what you want, to be feared again?”

“Some do.” Barroth replied. “I see us in a different way. I believe we have a role to fill, as educators and keepers of knowledge.”

“Are there many of you?” I asked.

“More than you realize. We are not as numerous as we once were, we spread ourselves out in order to avoid attention. But as with any great comeback, many of us agree that we dragons need someone to smooth the way. That would be you.”

I scratched my nose again and listened to the washing machine fill. “I see. That’s a big job, what’s required of me?”

“Well, we thought that perhaps a visit with a few of my brethren might be in order, so we’ve arranged for you to speak with a few of our Elders about our return.”

“When and where? You won’t all fit down here and someone is bound to notice eventually.”

“Agreed. The oldest of us settled many years ago into a dry and warm region filled with caves. The Elders are too old to fly now, so it has been decided that I will bring you to them.”

Barroth studied me with his large blue eye that reminded me of a picture I’d seen once of Earth from space. “How much time do you need to prepare?”

“That would depend on where we’re going and how long I’ll be away.” I gestured toward the backyard. “Listen, would you like to sit out in the sun? There’s no one around and this isn’t the best place to be negotiating this sort of thing.”

Barroth began to chuckle. It sounded like large boulders were being gargled. “Negotiate…you’re a funny human. Outside would feel good, it’s been too long since my scales have been warm.” Faster than I could blink, he was gone and the book he’d been studying clattered to the floor.

The basement door squealed in protest as I shut it and went up the old, uneven basement steps. My backyard was really an open field bordered by tall pine trees. My neighbors had moved recently, leaving me the last house before the end of the road, so no one was likely to see Barroth sunning himself. I plucked a camp chair from beside the house and sat facing his head. He stretched out his wings on the grass, extended his neck and rumbled deep in his chest. He reminded me very much of a happy cat. I stretched out in my chair, closed my eyes and tilted my face toward the sun. We stayed like that for some time before he spoke again.


“I have missed this. I will be glad to return to the warm sand.”

“Is it true that some of your kind prefer forests and water?”

“It is. Much like your people, my kind are adapted differently for their living environments. How long will you need to prepare for our flight?”

“Flight?” I squeaked. “Like, flying?”

Barroth spread his wings and beat them against the warm air. “Indeed. That is why I have these.”

“Oh no, I can’t do heights. I’ll pass out and fall off.” I insisted, shaking my head.

He sighed a mighty gust of air against my legs. “Very well. There is another way to get there. It is faster, but cold. You will need to dress for it just before we leave.”

“Thank you. How long will we be gone?”

“That is unknowable. The Elders have a  love of knowledge and information. I am sure they have as many questions for you as you will have for them. It would be safe to assume many days, but you may take only what fits in your back bag.”

“Backpack?”I asked.

“Yes, that.” He gave another mighty sigh, as if frustrated with the human in front of him.

I closed my eyes again. “Can you breathe fire?”

“I can, when I choose to. It is primarily a defense mechanism. I would have expected you to know that already, with all the knowledge humans seem to collect. You are my first, you know.”

That made me sit up. “Really?”

“Indeed. When I was young, one of the Elders would tell the hatchlings tales of a strange type of beast that walked upright without scales and wings. She said they were weak at first, but cunning as they aged. She told us that if we should ever encounter one, to avoid them at all costs because what they knew best was torture and death. But I have been curious ever since.”

“What brought you to my basement then?”

“As I said, I was seeking shelter. You did not smell like a threat and I was curious. I have left on occasion, to report back to the Elders. They agree we need someone who is unafraid, and willing to help us come out of the shadows.”

“Well, I’m not sure I’m the right human for the task, but we aren’t all torturous and deadly. Some are I suppose. But just as many are inquisitive.”

“Hmm.” Barroth hummed and fell silent.

We sat there sunning ourselves until late afternoon. Then Barroth stretched his wings and said, “I must hunt. Rodents will not fuel me for the journey back. I will wait for you here at sunrise.”


I made sure my laundry was done that evening and prepared to be away for weeks.

Just in case I wasn’t insane and really was going to confer with Dragon Elders.


I woke before the sun appeared over the tree-tops. Curiosity nibbled at me most of the night and kept sleep at bay. There was no logic in laying there wondering, so I got up and peeked out the window at the backyard. Sure enough, a large dark form waited there.  I dressed in layers as I ate a hearty breakfast. By the time my oatmeal was gone, I had decided to bring along a large bag of coffee. I was a bear without it first thing in the morning and it was doubtful the dragons would have any. It was buried deep among the clothes in my pack and I closed the house up.


Barroth lifted his head as I came around the corner of the house. “Are you ready?”

“As I’ll ever be, I suppose. I am coming back, right?”

“Yes.” He replied.

I stopped and studied him, slightly suspicious. “There’s more to your answer, isn’t there?”

He sighed and a tendril of smoke came from his nostrils. “In the past there have been humans that came to share information. Although they returned to your world, in the end, they decided to return to my kind. I have no way of knowing if you will do the same, so I cannot give you a proper answer.”

“Fair enough.” I nodded. “If we won’t be flying, how will we get to where we’re going?”

“Dragon-kind has always had the ability to telekinetically relocate themselves. I prefer to fly, but since you are uncomfortable with heights, we will travel this way.” He replied.

“How does it work?” I asked.

“I am unsure how to describe it properly. I will fix a vision of the Meeting Place in my mind, we will be surrounded by darkness and a deep cold for a short time. But when we arrive at the Meeting Place, we will be warm soon enough. You need to empty your mind if you can, think of nothing or your thoughts may interfere and send us to a most unpleasant place.”

I swallowed nervously.

“If you settle just behind my wings, you will be able to fit in front of my first back-ridge. If you hold firmly, you will not fall off.”

I put my thick leather mitts on and sat where he directed. I tried not to think of the things that could go wrong as I held on to the muscular shoulders of his wings. Just a bit of cold and then everything would be okay.

Barroth turned his head toward me and rumbled, “Remember, empty your mind. Brace yourself.”

I swallowed my nervousness and nodded.

To be continued

The Ambassador


(This is an excerpt from a larger work in progress.)

When I went downstairs with a load of laundry, the last thing I expected to find was a dragon with a book between it’s front feet. It was startling to say the least.

“Listen, do you think you could fix that door so it doesn’t squeal so much?” The dragon asked in a rumbling voice.

“Um, sure.” I replied eloquently as I stood and gawked.

“What are you staring for?” It asked me before gesturing to the piles of boxes marked ‘books’. “You have all this knowledge on my kind, I would think you’d be thrilled to see me.”

“I never expected to actually meet one of you, let alone have a conversation with you.” I stammered. “I’m…”

“I know who you are,” he interrupted me in a deep voice. “I’ve been down here long enough that I know all about you.”

“Why have I never seen you before today?” I asked.

“I didn’t want you to.” He replied. “Your clothes won’t get clean if you stand there holding them. But leave the door open, will you? It hurts my ears every time you open and close it. My name is Barroth.” He said as I stood there a moment longer. He was a classic example of a western dragon. He was the size of a large SUV, with back ridges, large head, dark red scales and a long tail. He was laying on the floor with a book clasped in the claws of his front feet.

I finally remembered my manners. “I’m honored to meet you, Barroth.” I gestured toward the washing machine. “Will that bother you?”

“No, it’s just the door, really.”

With some difficulty, I turned away from him and loaded the machine, added detergent and gently closed the lid.

“You must have questions.” He said from the other side of the room.


“Quite a few in fact, but I didn’t want to be rude.” I turned toward him and leaned on the washing machine.

“I suppose I can answer a few.”

“Obviously this is a bit of a shock to me, but I’m thrilled to find you. I thought the only living things down here were rodents.” A shudder raced through me.

“You don’t like them?”

“They terrify me.” I admitted.

“But you’re fine with talking to a large fire-breathing creature.” There was an undercurrent of humor in his statement.

“Yeah, ironic, I know. Can I ask, why my basement?”

“At first, when I was smaller, I needed shelter and the door had been left open. I got bored waiting for the storm to pass and started reading. Long after the storm moved on, I stayed. I read, ate the occasional rodent and got to know you. You intrigued me. I’ve decided you’ll do.”


“An ambassador, of course.”

(As I said, this is but an excerpt. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! You can either leave a comment here or email me at dragonquillca@gmail.com)


Branding and the Brain—What We Post On-Line Matters

Wise words and wonderful advice for all authors, no matter what stage of their career they’re at.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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We’ve been talking about social media and building a platform the past couple of posts. I know this is a topic that makes most of us break out in hives, especially when you don’t yet have a book for sale. Been there, done that. Got the t-shirt. It’s sort of like credit. You can’t get any credit because you don’t yet have any credit but you don’t yet have any credit because no one will give you credit because you don’t have credit.

My head hurts.

Thus, today is for all levels of authors. Yes, even Jane Newbie who hasn’t yet finished the first book. We are going to talk about the bare essence of branding.

In my book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World I go into a lot more detail about the science behind branding, but today we are going to talk about why our…

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Are There Other Worlds?

Are There Other Worlds?



There is a theory that every time we make a decision, we create another universe. Personally, I love the idea. Not sure it only takes a decision to create another world, but let’s not nitpick here.

My enthusiasm for the concept is fanned by what-if.

What if alternate worlds, with their own alternate histories and cultures, were real?

There is potential there for more stories than the human mind could possibly make up. One of the many appeals is that what we perceive to be our rules could be turned completely on their heads in that other world. Think about it…in this other world, their skies have different stars, which creates weather radically different from our own. As a result, their terrain is more desert-like, harsh and more likely to kill than ours. Their architecture has evolved as a response to the afore-mentioned weather, they rely on the technology of smart-homes to provide their sustenance, but wait…what does that look like?

What if someone on that world has discovered their planet is turning against its people and they have to find another planet that will support life within two generations? Taking that one step further…what if the brightest of their people have no idea how to make that a reality? What if a space exploration ship crashes on their home-world, and the pilot has knowledge that jump-starts the push those folks need to get off their planet?

See? The possibilities are exciting!

The example I gave above is actually the premise for a story I’m working on. At first, it was a tease in a piece of fan fiction I wrote. But the more I wrote, the more I realized I had the foundation of a potentially intriguing tale. So my tease has evolved. Whether it will end up being a novella or a full novel is yet to be determined. If it takes life as a self-published or traditionally published work shopped from publisher to publisher…we’ll see.


For now, I’m having a lot of fun exploring my world. Their smart homes, and their inability to figure out how to get their people off the planet before it goes boom. Their culture, their myths and how do they play into their reality that they’ve not always lived on that particular planet. How did they get there? And how could they have lost the knowledge that got them there in the first place?


Is my story speculative fiction, eco-fiction or science fiction? I’ll worry about that at three in the morning when I can’t sleep. Will I market this to spec fic readers? While that does take planning and forethought, I’m not going to worry about it right now. Today, I have to figure out how these folks got to their planet two hundred years ago, and why no one preserved the knowledge.



Flash Fiction Challenge!

Over on Dan Alatorre’s wonderful blog, I found a flash fiction challenge that intrigued me. The premise is to take a line and use it as the basis for  a story of a thousand words. so from a list, I picked one that caught my eye and ran with it. Here’s what happened.

Violence, as shocking as it can be, holds a certain charm for me. Most especially when I face the scum of our city. Those that think they are above the law, those that prey on the weak and confused and afraid.

I have learned that to wait for law-abiding justice is to give the lawless time. Time to live, to appeal, to believe they do not have blackened husks for souls.

So I no longer wait. While I play my part in the light of day, nodding over court transcriptions, at night, I watch over the darkened city. I watch the evil among you. I make sure the old lady gets on the bus safely. I take out the guy who has silently broken that lock, just before he climbs into the house where a single mother and child sleep. I interrupt the conversation between the man and the child he is attempting to lure away with his dog.

Someone who broke into a Mom & Pop store to steal food so their kids can eat the next day do not deserve justice, but help. I do not tell the police about them. And when they wake up the next day to find an envelope with a couple hundred dollars in it, that is how things should be. When the sun rises, the police find a few particular practitioners of evil waiting for them, bound and angry. Some seem to have met with violence along the way, and I’m fine with that. Some never see the light of another day. Some do not deserve that gift. That special brand of justice is reserved for the darker souls, the ones who would hurt children or animals, or little old ladies afraid of their own shadows.

Yes, violence is charming, quick and leaves no room for argument. And if a child molester happens to slip in a puddle and fall on a knife?


Another child safe, thousands of dollars saved the justice system.

So stop staring at his body, and hurry on home to your warm bed. You can thank me later.


Change And Growth

There are many reasons why I’ve been away from the blog so long, and I don’t see any of them as excuses, per say. None of our lives are simple and uncomplicated, and sometimes, priorities rear their heads and something has to give.

In my case, that was the blog.

But for the past few weeks, I’ve felt a nagging feeling drawing me back…so here I am.

I don’t make resolutions so much as set goals, and the beginning of this year was no exception. I’m determined to sell two short stories this year. This sounds simple, and I only wish it were. But it seems that what I write cannot be easily classified. At first, I thought it was lesbian fiction. But what I write is more than that. My favoured pieces of my own creation seem to lean toward the ‘speculative fiction’ genre, but upon careful study of the markets, what I write is not dark enough for the paying spec fic markets. Apparently dark and demented sells.

Something else that I’ve been working on is building my platform. The non-writers among you are likely scratching your heads in puzzlement. Essentially, platform is a way of getting an author’s name out into the world and building a following in a (hopefully) authentic way. This takes time. Even more so when the novel isn’t finished yet! So I’ve been learning, researching and trying to build my platform one brick at a time.

At the same time, I’ve been knitting. Some of you may remember that I enjoy knitting socks. I enjoy the peaceful repetition of the cuff and leg, and the challenge of turning the heel. The whole process allows me some sort of creative space to mentally work out plot lines and character flaws. So no matter what my writing is doing, I’m still being creative. And even if I don’t write a word for days, my characters are never far from my thoughts.

I’ve also been dealing with a medical issue. It’s not life-threatening, but it will be life-changing, if only for a little while. I’ll talk more about it another time, but I will tell you that pain is far more crippling than I thought. Honestly, pain is a bitch. The good part of this medical stuff though, is that it’s made me aware of my own limitations, which has in turn, prompted growth and change in our youngest. In a good way.

I guess the take away of this post is that everything in life can either hinder us, or help us. It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn over the past few weeks, and while I used to say I hated change, I can honestly say that the Universe doesn’t care what I like or not.

Change is inevitable, and all we can do is react to it in a way that we hopefully come out the other side as better people.