The Dark Archer

The writing of The Dark Archer, set in the same world as The Suffering, has officially begun!

This book follows Bene, the captain who gave everything for his princess, and his quest to figure out who he is in a world that no longer accepts him as the man he once was, for he is something else now.  Last seen in the epilogue of the The Suffering, Bene’s torment has only begun, and his enemies are of the same shadow as that which created him in the first place…

I can’t wait for you to read about the man whose eternal battle rages on within himself, between that of what he wishes to be, and that of his true nature.

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A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Mirrored sunsets dance upon the waters
Within the darkening dreams of Midnight,
Where the sands lie emptied, save two lovers,
Whose common dream reflects the fading light.
But what is to be seen when nothing is?
Do we dare to look upon the unknown?
Where, for all time, there remains a lovers’ kiss.
Frozen memories, forever enthroned.
The pendulum still swings within the clock,
Suns rise and fall, the moon still greets the night.
The small hand still travels; tick-tock, tick-tock,
Still the sands falling through the hourglass write.
Quietly swaying, this, in time, will slow,
While the scene remains, beyond the window.

Valleys of Light

Shall I seek the end of the broken road?
Where journeys fall to somber, sullen cries
And hopes become her unknown lies…
As she is wont to reap what once was sown.
The River stills the quiet heart, her crow
Corrodes the future’s horror, sheer delights,
A shallow death, whose fears seek their demise,
Upon the rocks which tumble and erode.

The cosmos dances with me, a nightly waltz,
Her arms enfold me, and despairs shall cease,
Her darkened skies blend into mountains’ hold,
And suffocates the light, a struggle false,
Assaulting senses – pleasant, joyous peace,
To press against my chest, a fallen cold.

Sonnets

In a prior post, I went into relative detail explaining the difference between freeverse and form poetry, and then delved into meter.

Here, I would like to begin digging into forms, starting with the sonnet.

The two most common subsets of this form are the Petrarchan and Shakespearean, however, there are others, including the Spenserian and the Envelope sonnets.  Variations on these forms have provided artistic freedom to many poets, and still do today.  But before I go into these forms, I’d like to explain how a sonnet is defined.

Simply stated, a sonnet is a fourteen line poem, written in iambic pentameter (some of the lesser known forms of sonnets take artistic license with this stipulation), with a set rhyme scheme.

A sonnet will have a volta, or turn, in the latter part of the poem.  This ‘turn’ is meant to be a shift in thought or idea, or perhaps a shift from the build up, to the point of the piece.  The volta may be jarring or subtle, depending on the poet’s wishes, but should exist within the sonnet.

For the purpose of this post, I will only be covering the two main forms of sonnets.  For further forms and styles, feel free to ask.

Shakespearean Sonnet.

The Shakespearean sonnet is actually quite simple in nature.  Broken down to its simplest form, this form is made up of three quatrains and a couplet.  It follows a rhyme scheme of abab, cdcd, efef, gg.  The volta will most usually occur in line 12 or 13, but can occur earlier, at line 8 or 9, as well.

As an example, here is a Shakespearean sonnet of mine entitled Finding Myself –

I never held the truth within my hands,
but skies have never lied to hearts that searched;
and so I sought tomorrow’s sorrowed lands
upon the fields of hope’s eternal births…
The heavens dance upon the glass of faith,
as hosts of cherubs yearn for chords in time
with days’ unending breath within my haste,
beyond the grasp of love’s enduring rime.
Among the sounds of tears that drip like rain
she shrouds her quiet cries in fading pasts.
I drown myself within her hidden pains,
and find relief in forlorn thoughts at last…
The stars have gazed upon my soul tonight
as chances fade to thought, beyond my sight.

Petrarchan Sonnet

This form is also fairly simple, with some variations.  This would probably be best described as two quatrains (or octave) and a sestet.  The rhyme scheme is abbaabba, cdcdcd (or cdecde – the sestet is free to use various rhyme patterns).  The volta will be found in line 8 or 9.

In the following example, a poem of mine entitled Eternal, the sestet has a rhyme scheme of cddccd.

Her sorrows faded in my arms’ embrace
As I swept her off into the midnight sky
Carried upon the winds of Luna’s eye,
Reflecting her smile through my lover’s face.
While the stars within her eyes dance with grace
And adorn her gown with diamond-tears’ dye,
Whose cries malign hope of final goodbye,
Lain immortal on the heavens – encased
And traced by the stars’ eternal language,
Spoken unto the whisper’s breath whose fear
Fell into the oceans a lonely tear,
Holding only our love’s untold message
Embracing faith and bringing a courage
To those who would dare to hold our words dear

Why Do I Write?

This is a common question asked to writers, particularly those who are in creative writing in one form or another.  One rarely hears about the poet who is writing poetry exclusively (although many of us wouldn’t mind such a vocation), and the vast majority of novelists, or short story writers, are and remain gainfully employed in an effort to support their passions.

Those few of us who have been lucky enough to write exclusively in one way or another (I spent many years in technical writing, through creating programs, quality systems, and technical manuals – which were often written for maintenance or training) are a rarity, to put it lightly.  As I embark on a journey in the new and exciting world of publishing, I am cautious, if not entirely scared.

However, it must be said that gain never comes from idle hands.  And so, with a couple of stories completed, I have found it to be time for the next stage in my personal evolution.

I have a background in various fields, having been trained in the military in various endeavors, from engineering to multiple physics disciplines, but even through all of that, I kept writing, I kept learning and honing my craft – indeed, everything I have done in life has been toward this goal – and now here I am, standing on a precipice, ready to jump, with only hope that I will fly before I hit the bottom.

But I’ve not quite answered the question, have I?  The answer, for me, is really not all that difficult.

Why?

Because I need to.  Because whether in poetic form or story form, what was inside of me needed to be released.

I tell stories, not because I want fame, glory, and riches (although I probably won’t complain about any of those), but because the stories exist within me, and require my assistance in being released from their prisons hidden deep inside the confines of my mind.

I write because I love creating images with my words.  In the much the same way a photograph is worth a thousand words, I can create images within the minds of my readers, often with much less than a thousand words, and I can weave those together with other images, such that I can create an entire world we can visit anytime we open the pages of the story.  I can create characters my readers will believe in, feel sorrow for, or might get angry with as they drag the reader along their personal journeys.

Where else might one be able to do such a thing?

At the end of it all, I suppose I write because it’s what I am.  I’m a creator, a dreamer, a weaver of tales, or a bard, perhaps, of our current society, reflecting what my eyes see of the world around me in the words I produce, translating them into a work of fiction that is meant to highlight those aspects of life I so choose.

 

The Suffering. A blurby thought.

The centuries old war between the Satyrs and the Fae had expanded its reach. Devani, a princess whose father had sworn neutrality, was sent to live under the stewardship of their closest ally, a land whose borders had yet to feel the grip of war.

The innocence of childhood was giving way to the wonders of becoming a woman…

At the hands of her host, Devani experiences hell, the depravity of man. At long last, just as she is returning home, no more than a few leagues from the city gates, her caravan is attacked. She’ll never find out whether it was an enemy of the crown, or a host of rabid people, for an arrow pierces her shoulder, and it is here our story begins.

Devani finds herself deep in the Southlands, with the biting chill of winter all too near. No friends, an arrow embedded in her upper chest, her quest for survival leads her down a dark path, where powers begin to manifest, and with a mind of their own.

Hope remains, however, and she fights to see what future awaits. Soon, she might wish she’d never done that.

Some thoughts…

So I’ve wrapped up the storyline of my science fiction novel. Still contemplating the expansion of my fantasy short story, but not really making headway there, as I rather like the fact that the whole tale is told only through the eyes of my protagonist.

That being said, I need to go back through and add the detailing to my novel, as well as fix the inconsistencies that exist. Little things, but bothersome things, to me. I don’t even know if they’d be noticed, but they’re there.

School starts back up soon as I continue to go after my Master’s in English, and I will continue to write and edit as I further my endeavors.

A Homeless Chapter

I wrote the following for my fantasy story, The Suffering, but quickly realized that it had far too much going on to be a subplot in a story that is not at all focused on this particular priestess…and so I’m holding onto this to see about working with it later…  Thoughts?

Untitled Chapter

Seldom does the way show itself, for the door must often be forced open.  Patience is required for those whom are chosen from among the peoples of the world.  Lord Dayal, the god of the world, shall speak for himself, and shall be the light for the path one loyal priestess must travel. 

                ~Venyri, Mother of Dayal.

The priestess, Daielle, a name given to her upon becoming priestess, sat staring at the massive tome before her.  The Book of the Gods, a collection of ancient scrolls from before The Fall, had long since been gathered and scribed.

She looked over her shoulder, casting her eyes over the bulk of the scrolls as had been collected through the long years.  Most of the scrolls in her possession were of a dialect that existed before time as she understood it to be.  The world, as she had come to learn, had been created, and recreated, possibly more times than she could count.  Possibly more than she cared to figure.

The idea of a constant cycle of rebirth throughout the ages was disconcerting, at its best, for then she would be little more than a grain of dust within a desert sandstorm.  Rendered no more than a moot irrelevance.  Arrogant though she might be, she was a servant of Dayal, and would perform her duties as such until her body was reunited with her lord.

She had been living for more than a century, yet still appeared as though a young maiden.  Of the race borne of men and elves, Daielle’s age could only be witnessed in her eyes.  Her wisdom, however, gained with age, but so, too, had her conceit.

The Fall.  A sea of change swept over the nine lands with The Fall, as what remained of elven-kind were decimated.  Daielle’s father may have been the last of them, and the race of men was sure to make him suffer before he died.  If not for the intervention of Dayal, she would have been killed alongside her father.

Even after so long, her anger remained, although she was uncertain anymore as to exactly who or what was the cause for her anger.  Perhaps she was just angry at herself.

A knock on the door of her chamber echoed.  “Enter,” she replied to the intrusive sound.

“High Priestess,” a young woman entered and bowed in reverence, “I bring news.”

“Out with it, then,” came the curt response.

As though she was completely used to the harshness of the High Priestess’ voice, the young woman, not bothering to acknowledge the outburst, said, “First, you have an unknown visitor.  Second, the Elder Mother sent word, Seӧr awaits your presence atop the temple.”

Daielle’s heart jumped to her throat at the mention of the Elder Mother and the giant eagle who undoubtedly awaited her with his impatience.  The damned bird could be kept waiting.  “Who is the visitor?”

“He is a cloaked figure who gave no mention of name, but was adamant about speaking to the High Priestess, my lady.”

She thought a moment, “A mysterious visitor.  He can wait, I shall meet with Seӧr first.  The Elder’s eagle must not be kept waiting.”  Daielle looked at the young priestess, “Is that all?”

“Yes, my lady.” She held her hands in front of her at her response.

“Very well, then.  Go see to our mystery guest, inform him I shall come see him as soon as I am able.”  The girl bowed, and quickly disappeared.

Daielle strode to the back of her chamber, and walked straight through the wall where stairs to the upper levels were hidden.  She made her way up as quickly as she could.  Reaching the top of the stairs, she closed her eyes and began to move the massive bricks with the arcane so that she might move between them.

Hearing the commotion, the great bird turned and lowered his head to see her.  With the bricks all moved, she stepped forward over small lip that remained and into the steely gaze of the eagle.  Once beyond the wall, the bricks began to replace themselves.

“High Priestess.”  His voice was deep, and Daielle was reminded of the shock of that the first time she ever met him.

“Seӧr.”  Her voice was calm, but her nerves were on edge, “To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit, my lord.”  She nodded her head low, not quite a bow, but with enough feigned respect to keep him from ripping her head off and eating it.

“I would not eat your head, Priestess.  Dispense with the false pleasantries.  You like me no more than I you.”  He smiled at her, almost mockingly, most likely due to the loss of color in her already pale cheeks as she realized he read her mind.

Attempting to regain some semblance of power or authority, she said, “What news have you?”

“My lady, the Elder Venyri, wishes to remind you of the fact that your life is not your own.”

Angered, Daielle retorted, “You can tell Venyri ‘my thoughts are my own.’  Whatever she is, whoever she might be, gives her no right into my mind.”

“Your pride will be your undoing, Daielle.”

Her eyes glowed purple, increasing in intensity in direct proportion to her rising anger.  The smug grin on the eagle’s face was enough for her to wish Seӧr a quick death and eternal suffering.  He said nothing, but his smile grew, and she knew he was in her mind again.  “Get out of here, before I end you.”

“My poor, idiot-child, Daielle.  I am immune to the arcane.”  Before she could react, she was laying down with her back on the floor, his claws outspread as he literally pressed upon her the fact she could do nothing to him.  After both an instant and a lifetime of glaring at each other, Seӧr took off, the downforce of his huge wings enough to hold her pinned to the cold stone upon which she had been standing before his show of force.

“Cursed bird,” she muttered under her breath.  Daielle got up, rubbing the back of her head where it met with the flat rock beneath her.  She sauntered along the length of the upper level and descended the stairs on the opposite end of the concourse from where she had first arrived.  With one last look back toward the ascending eagle, she wondered what the message meant, and at the same time longed to be the one to drive a knife into its throat.

The anger still very clear on her face, Daielle entered the grand chamber, stepped up to the throne, and sat herself upon it, looking down on the figure.  His figure was covered by a dark cloak, his hood obscuring any view of his face.

“It is far too dark in here,” Daielle said to the shadowy figure.  She waved her hand, flooding the chamber in a bright light with the faintest purple hue.  There was no discernable source of light, yet it seemed to emanate throughout.  “We are very remote, so you must have a purpose,” she growled at the intruder, “Now, remove your hood and tell me, what is it that you seek?”

In direct defiance of the High Priestess he kept his face hidden.  With a gravelly voice, one she imagined came only from the dead, he replied, “We seek the return of my heart.  We seek the return of my eye.  We seek the return of my hand.  We seek the return of my tongue.  We seek recompense, High Priestess.  Our appetite is insatiable, we require no less than your soul as payment for your crimes of cruelty and injustice.”

“My soul is not my own.  All actions are the will of the gods.”  With those words, Daielle opened her right hand, creating a bubble around the entity, and collapsed the bubble instantly, thinking to make it disappear into oblivion.  Instead, her eyes grew wide as the purple bubble, having no effect on the entity, disappeared and the unknown being stepped forward.

“Look upon your creation and despair.”  It removed the cloak to reveal an amalgamation of what could have only been varied persons combined into one, or perhaps many apparitions all vying to be seen at once.  One had a missing eye, another’s chest was burst open, and more than one without their hands, while a last ghastly thing opened its mouth to a chasm.

Disgusted, Daielle spread her arms wide, creating a barrier of arcane energy.  She looked on at the entity, ever shifting, as a blackness began to emanate from it.  The priestess-guards all began to move in on the ghosts, each weaving their own spells.  Suddenly, the blackness began to burst out toward each priestess, and Daielle heard only screaming as the cloud of pitch was held in check beyond her barrier, but the screams reaching her ears were enough to know the ghosts were reclaiming what had been taken.

She looked around the chamber, trying to see anything of what was happening beyond her protective shell, but could not.  From what must have been mere moments, Daielle was positive she had suffered an eternity of screams, and in the next instant, a solitary face made it through her arcane wall, a steely glare and subtle smile filling her with dread.  She yelped then, as the chamber was cleared and she could see.  It all happened so quickly, she would have thought it a dream if not for the suffering underlings.  In the center of the chamber lay a priestess with her chest splayed open, a cavity only where there had been a heart.  The rest of them were now useless, a mix of missing hands and tongues and eyes.

“High Priestess Daielle, he gave us a warning.”  The tremble in the young girl’s voice was all too palpable as she stood, covering an opened and bleeding eye socket.  Daielle could not help but notice how the quivering nature of the maiden’s voice echoed throughout her own body, including the hesitation.  “He…uhhh, they…said, ‘everything carries a price,’ and something about your soul being forfeit.”  A once strong woman broke down in that moment, falling to her knees, burying her face in her hands, bawling.  Daielle remained quiet, and heard the girl say one last thing, “He still speaks from within me.”  Looking up at the High Priestess one last time, the girl screamed in the finality of it all, and disintegrated into a black pool of blood on the floor.  The pool spread, quickly consuming the other maidens around the chamber, each one offering nothing more than an ear-splitting scream before they, too, disintegrated before Daielle’s eyes.  Horrified, the High Priestess continued to watch, unable to avert her gaze, and the blood moved to the center where the last priestess still lay without a heart, and slowly the blood congealed and began to form a heart within the open cavity.  Through the barrier’s purple haze she could see it as it began to beat, the open wound healing itself, and finally, the first breath of a dead woman.

Daielle looked as pale as the light within the room, which now fluctuated with her emotions as the once-priestess stood up and looked at her through her barrier.  She swallowed hard, hearing her own heartbeat as her breath hastened, eyes fixated on the undead woman who was now waving its hands and weaving its own spells.  The arcane barrier began to get pulled away from Daielle, and she struggled to keep hold on it.  All too soon, the power of the entity proved too much, and pulled the barrier from her, along with the power it already had summoned, casting a swirling vortex around itself and then, using the arcane, it transported itself to gods know where.

Her eyes closed, she wanted to relax, but Daielle shook like a thunder through the heavens.  She was done.  Both the entity and the undead priestess were gone, but could return at any moment.

Poetry – A Beginner’s Guide

Poetry.

As I write this, I am considering doing a series on poetry.  As it so happens, a friend of mine and I were discussing poetry this morning; specifically, she was asking for help in writing poetry, and how one might approach and learn it from the aspect of one whose experience is very limited.

In this, I am going to be thorough, but will be avoiding some of the more intricate details that really don’t matter unless there is a desire to understand at a high level.

Freeverse vs Form

First, let’s separate freeverse poetry from form poetry.  Simply explained, freeverse is loose, and follows no set parameters – whereas form poetry is structured, following a certain set of rules, which vary from form to form.  In the world of modern poetry, many poets have a tendency to consider anything rhyming as form poetry, but this is not the case.

Form poetry is often built around ‘meter’ which we will delve into shortly.

Freeverse poetry is simple, but incredibly difficult to do well.  There are a great many ways to say something, and what has come to be the popularized ‘slam’ poetry, and any type of freeverse that even remotely resembles such “poetry” is something that I shy away from (indeed, you might hear my disdain for it more than once if ever sat in a discussion with me regarding poetry).

Form poetry follows a set of rules.  Sonnets are fourteen line poems that are written in iambic pentameter.  Within this set of poems are subsets, including but not limited to, Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets, both with their own rhyming scheme.

Common measure is written in iambic tetrameter/trimeter, alternating in quatrain sets.

Meter

But, I am going to save specific forms for their own post.  Here, I want to go into meter, and why it matters.

The beauty of the English language is how easily it is find that melody, that lilt, which serves to make meter easier to master than in other languages, as it is almost natural, even if we never notice it.

The following are some rules to remember when writing form poetry:

  1. Poetry, and especially form poetry, is as much meant to be spoken as it is to be written. This means that it is vital to speak it out loud in order to hear the cadence of the words as the poet might read or speak it.
  2. The message is more important than the form itself. This isn’t to say that a 16 line poem can be called a sonnet, nor can a poem that is written more like prose.  With this said, however, my favorite poet, William Wordsworth, gained some notoriety in his form poetry for not sticking strictly to iambic meter, instead choosing to keep his message, even if that meant adding a spondee or a trochee (both of which I will go into soon in discussing meter).
  3. What is the message? This is different from the above in that different forms offer different services to the poet’s voice.  A limerick is often a single quatrain written in common measure, and has most often been used for short little quips, and often meant for humor.  A sonnet has more range, because of its length, and a rondel might be in between these two, as it focuses on a very particular message.

Meter –

Simply defined, meter is based on what is called a ‘foot’.  It is important to remember that the end of a line is most often considered on the last stressed syllable.  A ‘foot’ is most often two syllables as seen in the following:

  1. Iamb – one ‘foot’ of an unstressed and stressed syllable, in that order.
    • Think of the word ‘unstressed’ and say it out loud.  Do you hear how the ‘un’ feels short, and ‘stressed’ feels long?  This is an example of an iamb.
  2. Trochee – one ‘foot’ of a stressed and unstressed syllable, in that order.
    • Let’s use ‘garden’ as an example.  Again, say it out loud and listen to the lilt.  ‘gar’ is stressed (long), and ‘den’ is unstressed (short).
  3. Spondee – one ‘foot’ of two stressed syllables.
    • Spondees are almost never found in single words, and in a poem are often two stressed single syllable words strung together, as in ‘swift sweet’.
  4. Pyrrhic – one ‘foot’ of two unstressed syllables (although it is commonly taught that a ‘foot’ requires a stressed syllable to be considered a foot).
    • I found this example, although this is a tricky one, because when speaking it out loud, while technically pyrrhic, we will still have a tendency to stress the first or second syllable, depending on the other stressed syllables in the line.
    • This is important when writing form.  In the following, the bold words are the pyrrhic feet, “To a green thought in a green shade.”

The above are the most common, but there are also three others to keep in mind.  Because those feet already aforementioned can easily fall into any of the following, and vice versa, depending on what the poet wishes to achieve, I will not give any examples.  These are more than two syllables:

  1. Dactyl – Because a ‘foot’ requires at least one stressed syllable in order to be a foot, this is an instance where the stressed syllable comes first and is then followed by two unstressed syllables. Because of the way the above ‘feet’ are defined, this could very easily be overlooked, and often is.
  2. Anapest – Similar to a dactyl, but the other way around. This is two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable.  Same thoughts which apply to the dactyl apply here.
  3. There is also the Amphibrach, which is an unstressed syllable, followed by a stressed, followed by an unstressed.

Next is how these are used in a line.  As you saw above, I had mentioned some of these, such as trimeter, or pentameter.  So I’m just going to break these down, at least for the most common uses of lines:

  1. Monometer – Just as the name implies. One ‘foot’ line.
  2. Dimeter – Two ‘feet’ line
  3. Trimeter – Three ‘feet’ line
  4. Tetrameter – Four ‘feet’ line
  5. Pentameter – Five ‘feet’ line
  6. Hexameter – Six ‘feet’ line

And I’m sure you get the point.  It is rare that forms really go beyond pentameter, although they do exist.

In Practice

And so, I’m going to place here both a common measure poem and a sonnet to help understand the line length and the meter.

Here is the link to my sonnet, Falling Castles.  Tear it apart, line by line, and let me know what you see?  Is it written in perfect iambic pentameter?  Or did I take some liberties with it?

https://shadowyembrace.com/portfolio/falling-castles-2/

The following poem is Tale of the Whippoorwill’s Sorrow, a poem written in common measure, but instead of a limerick, I instead decided to use the common measure help tell a story in a much more melodic way, as this form lends itself to such a sway.

https://shadowyembrace.com/portfolio/tale-of-the-whippoorwills-sorrow/

With all of this said, there are so many forms.  Villanelles, Rondeaus, Rondels, Quaterns, Haiku, Trijan Refrain, Rubaiyat, etc, etc…each with their own rules to follow.  Understanding meter is simply the first step to gaining a firm foothold into form poetry.

Here is the first poem I ever wrote.  A freeverse poem, written from the eyes of love, as I understood it at the time.

Through Love’s Eyes

But of love, which if a mouth it had
from whence it was born,
Would speak, painfully clad,
only in scorn
Except to that which is beautifully adorned
And to think of all this
Is to make the heart miss
what only mattered most
As though it were a splendid kiss
long forgotten, a shadowy ghost
But lo! Behold!
Love, for love to no longer run cold –
must dream,
Dreaming dreams of heavenly beings
Then a smile doth appear across love’s face
For joyous is the thought in love’s embrace