Author: D.K. Drake (page 1 of 7)

The Making of The Dragon Destroyer: Week 5

I’m fighting. I’m fighting against myself. I’m fighting against my dreams.

I say I want to write, but when the time comes to sit and put words to the page, I resist the writing process. I find something else to do, some other way to entertain my brain and engage my imagination.

And I am frustrated with myself as a result.

This past week, I intended to write at least 500 words a day six days a week. I hit my daily goal twice, made it halfway to my goal once, and didn’t even get on the board the other three days. Grrrrrrrrr.

Why is carving out time to write so difficult? Because I haven’t decided that this is my life’s purpose. I want it to be, but logically, I still believe that my dream to make a living telling and selling stories is just that. A dream.

Thriving as an employee is much easier. It’s also much safer. It makes sense. I get trained. I put my training into action. I succeed. That formula I have followed over and over again throughout my adult life.

I know how to be a great employee and am confident I can excel at any job I am hired to do. My track record proves that pattern.

But when it comes to doing the work that I WANT to do, I struggle. I struggle to believe my writing is important. I struggle to believe my stories matter. I struggle to believe that I am capable of being the focused, persistent, passionate writer I long to become.

Last night, someone asked if my current job was just a job or something I could see myself doing for a long time. That question took me by surprise, and my gut instinct was telling.

My gut wanted me to answer, “It’s just a job! I’m not really an employee. I’m simply playing the part until I can make it as a writer.”

I censored myself before I could answer with raw honesty. Would anyone in the room believe such nonsense considering I’ve been chasing this dream for twenty years and only have a handful of books that bring in a small stream of royalties to show for my efforts? Would I believe such nonsense?

My edited response included a run down of other jobs within the company I currently work for that I could do down the line once I tired of my position as a claims adjuster. What my response did not include was my desire to be able to walk away from the auto insurance business entirely by the time I am 45 to be a full-time author entrepreneur. (That deadline is less than three years away.)

I didn’t want to openly admit that goal to anyone because I have a horrible history of botching deadlines. If I didn’t admit it, it wouldn’t be real. If it wasn’t real, it wouldn’t matter if I reached my goal or not.

Only it does matter. It matters to me. It matters to God. He is the One who has entrusted me with the ability to write and instilled within me the desire to turn my stories into books and my books into a business.

So the unabashedly honest answer is NO. NO, I don’t want to spend the rest of my working years as a claims adjuster. It’s interesting work for now and serves its purpose of keeping me financially stable while I write more books and build my business, but it’s not my end goal.

Spending my days telling adventurous stories and sharing them with you is my end goal.

That is what I will begin fighting FOR as of this moment.

The Making of The Dragon Destroyer: Week 4

And then what happened?

Such is the question that propels a story forward. But I haven’t been able to answer that question yet, not in relation to The Dragon Destroyer. I haven’t even been able to answer that question in relation to Krystyn’s character story. Which frustrates me. I want to get into storytelling mode and figure out what happened in Krystyn’s life to shape her into the person she is when she makes her first appearance in The Dragon Hunter.

Instead, I have found myself asking a different question over the past few weeks: what happened before that? And what happened before that? And what happened before that?

The backwards question brought me to the beginning of the Destroyer Bloodline, and I had fun figuring out the origin of the Destroyers. When I then tried to jump ahead to Krystyn’s lifetime at the beginning of this week, I struggled to pick up her story. I couldn’t figure her out without understanding her immediate family and what kind of environment she grew up in.

So this past week, I spent time drawing a map of Tirza, the region where Krystyn grew up. I also got to know her family a bit. I learned her father was maimed by a dragon, leaving him with ugly facial scars and only one arm. Her mother was a sickly woman, and as the only girl, Krystyn was the one stuck taking care of her mother.

Krystyn is the middle of the seven. She has three older brothers and three younger brothers, one of which is her twin and younger by only two minutes.

Now that I have determined what kind of family Krystyn was born into, I can finally begin the process of discovering Krystyn’s story. So this week I will be diving into Krystyn’s life and asking one simple question over and over again: and then what happened?

The Making of The Dragon Destroyer: Week 3

I didn’t realize the Destroyer Bloodline had such an interesting history until this week. Granted, I don’t agree with a lot of the choices they made along the way, but at least I understand them better now.

Because of that, I understand the world into which Krystyn was born. And that will help me this coming week as I explore her childhood.
By exploring what she went through as a child, I’ll be able to figure out why she behaves the way she does in the present day storyline of the Bloodline Saga.

Once I know that, then I can begin developing the details of The Dragon Destroyer story.

I don’t know if other writers spend this much time in their character’s backstories, but I’ve discovered that the more I know about my characters, the better books I am able to write. So as painstaking as it is and as anxious as I am to tell the final story of the saga, I will continue on this character discovery journey.

The Making of The Dragon Destroyer: Week 2

I struggled to write this week. It wasn’t just that my schedule got out of whack Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday due to three doctor appointments three days in a row. (Fortunately they were all regular checkups and I have been declared healthy by my dermatologist, my primary care physician, and my gynecologist.) It was also that I didn’t know what to write, and I wasn’t excited about the story I was trying to figure out.

The lack of passion is what bothers me. To know I want to write but not feel a burning desire to write is frustrating. I miss that undercurrent of emotion that was once always churning and driving me forward. I know it’s still in here. Somewhere. Buried beneath the practicalities of life that I have used as an excuse to stop pursing my big dream.

My big dream is to make a living telling and selling stories.

My current reality is that I am good at telling stories but not so good at selling them. As a result, I make a living as a claims adjuster, so I have a hard time convincing myself that chasing my storytelling dream is important. Since I don’t deem it important, I am devoid of any emotional drive to keep at it.

Nevertheless, I wrote something every day this week related to the origin of the Destroyer Bloodline. Most of it wasn’t any good, but by Friday, I felt a twinge of joy in the story I was telling.

Whether I feel like it or not, I will keep at it this coming week. And the next. And the one after that. By developing the habit of writing every day regardless of how I feel and trusting God all along the way, I believe I’ll resurrect that burning desire to write for the sheer joy of writing. Then I won’t write because I have to. I’ll write because I want to.

Furthermore, I’ll write with the understanding that dreams are important and ought to be pursued with the expectation that they will come true in the best possible way.

The Making of The Dragon Destroyer: Week 1

I grudgingly began work on The Dragon Destroyer this week.

It’s not that I don’t want to write the story. I do. The story I foresee is filled with amazing action sequences and sweeping adventure as the characters I’ve come to know and love chase the elusive and formidable Midnight Stalker. The problem lies with Krystyn, the Dragon Destroyer herself.

I. Don’t. Like. Her.

You shouldn’t either! She’s loyal to the evil king Omri and wants all dragons to die. She also tried to kill Micah, beat up Taliya, and plans to sabotage Javan’s quest to win the throne. How are any of those things redeeming qualities?

They aren’t, so I don’t want to write her story. Writing her story means I have to get inside her head, understand how she thinks, and feel the darkness lurking in her soul. I prefer to identify with the hero, not the villain.

But this story isn’t about me or what I want. It’s about the characters and what they want. And the more I understand the characters, the better story I’ll be able to tell.

So before I can begin the actual storytelling of The Dragon Destroyer, I have to first do a deep dive into Krystyn’s character in order to grasp how she thinks and why she does what she does
As I tried to do that, though, I realized I first need to understand the philosophy of the Destroyer Bloodline. What has Krystyn been taught about dragons during her formative years, and why does this Bloodline despise the Dragon Stalkers? (In writing the previous books, I made sure I had a clear understanding of each of the Bloodlines…except for the Destroyers. I didn’t agree with their philosophy, so I didn’t give them much attention!)

To answer those questions, I realized I have to go back to the beginning of the Bloodlines and meet the very first Destroyer.
I did that. I discovered her name was Shebar, and her hatred for dragons began when a Dawn Stalker killed her son Kame.

And that’s as far as I got this week. My plan for next week is thus to flesh out the origin story of the Destroyer Bloodline and trace how their philosophy grew and developed over the centuries leading up to the time Krystyn was born.

While you wait for next week’s update, go do something fun and adventurous!

Giveaway Time!

Enter now for your chance to win!

Not sure about where you are, but here in North Carolina, the summer heat is upon us.  And I love soaking up as much sun as I can…with a good book in my hands. 

So whether you find yourself chilling in the shade, hiding in the air conditioning, or sitting in the sand on the beach, my guess is you need some good books to read.  With that in mind, I have you covered! 

From now until July 31, you can enter to win a Summer Book Bundle (that includes The Dragon Collector) with more than 50 books spanning multiple genres.  But that’s not all.  You also have a chance to win a KINDLE! 

All you have to do is click here, then find the book bundle image.  Click on that to get to the entry page.  Once you enter your information, you are in the running to win a Kindle and a ton of books! 

Now with some more fun news.  In two weeks, the revised and expanded anniversary edition of The Dragon Collector will be available on Amazon…for FREE.  It will only be free from June 18-20, so be sure to snag your revised copy on those dates. 

I’ll post a reminder as well as a preview of the revised prologue and opening chapter on June 18. 

In the meantime, enter the Summer Reading Hamper for your chance to WIN.

A New Look for the Books

Big changes are coming to The Dragon Stalker Bloodlines Saga, and they start with revamped book covers. Check out the new covers below!

The next big change has to do with The Dragon Collector as the five year anniversary of its debut approaches. Stay tuned for details!

The Dragon Protector is Finally Here!

The book three years in the making is at last available on Amazon. And to make the release date extra special, today is my foster daughter’s fifth birthday. We don’t know if she will still be living with us on her next birthday, so I wanted to do something to make this day as memorable as possible for her.

Now about the story.

This epic fantasy adventure takes you deep into the heart of the Dragon Dimension, through the portal to modern-day Earth, and back again for a grand battle over the dragons that roam the Land of Zandador.

It’s now available on Amazon, so click the cover below to order your copy.

3: First Team Meeting

The following is chapter three of The Dragon Protector.  (Need to start at the beginning?  Click here to go to chapter one.)

“That’s your plan?”  Taliya’s stunned words echoed off the walls of a vacant, musty house amidst the ruins in Nahat.  A splintered, dusty table propped up on its final leg near the door was the only furniture in the small room.  Light streamed in through two windows, one on either side of the door.  A torn, moth-eaten blanket hung from the ceiling in the far corner, separating the kitchen and living space from the bedroom area.

She, Javan, and Micah had retreated to the privacy of the house on the side of the river across from the portal to hear Javan’s idea.  She had always embraced bold, daring adventures, but Javan’s plan seemed too risky even for her.  “That is ambitious, but I don’t think you realize how long it will take to–”

“That’s the problem,” Micah said, cutting her off.  “It will take time.  Lots of time.  Javan, you know you only have three months left to collect two more dragons, right?”

“That’s plenty of time,” Javan said.  “It took me less than a month to collect my first two.  I would already have three if you hadn’t gotten in my way.”

“How did you get in his way?”  Taliya had always sensed tension between the two guys and wondered about their history.

“I did what I do; I beat him in a sword fight and captured Mertzer.”  Micah shrugged his cockiness away.  “But that doesn’t matter anymore.  What matters is that Javan has access to a Dusk Stalker right now, the same one I kept him from collecting before.”

“No, I don’t,” Javan said.  “Mertzer is yours.”

“He doesn’t have to be.  My offer still stands.  Kill me and take him.  Then you can focus your attention on collecting a Midnight Stalker for the remainder of the year.  It’s your best chance at winning the throne.”

“No.”  Javan crossed his arms over his chest and stuck his chin in the air.  “That’s my easiest chance.  My best chance is to do what I’ve proposed.”

“What you’ve ‘proposed’ is madness.”  Micah’s dark skin flushed with anger.  He stood more than a head above Javan and about three heads higher than her.  His solid, muscular frame and long dreadlocks added to the intimidation factor when he turned his attention to her.  “Taliya, talk some sense into the boy.  Have you ever even activated the portal before?”

“I am perfectly capable of activating the portal.”  Taliya kept her voice cool, showing she wasn’t going to let herself be intimidated by him.  What she lacked in height, she made up for with attitude.  “I am a Protector, after all.  It just so happens that I have not yet had an opportunity to use those particular skills.”

“That doesn’t mean she couldn’t do it.”  Javan put his hands on her shoulders and looked down into her eyes.  He was shorter and leaner than Micah, but he was also younger, quicker, and more agile.  “You know you want to try.  Why else would you have taken that book from Tulkar?”

Javan always unnerved her when he stared at her with those unusual emerald eyes.  Even after traipsing all through Keckrick with him, she still had a hard time grasping the fact this grown up guy with his wavy black hair, stubble-covered cheeks, and strong arms was the baby she had helped get through the portal.  She had told him about that night, but she hadn’t told him she remembered those glowing green eyes he was so sensitive about.

“Well…”  Taliya stalled.  She did take that book so she could learn how to activate the portal.  Only it was more about fulfilling her curiosity than it was about actually putting that knowledge into practice.  Many Protectors had died trying to operate the portal.  “It is an intriguing idea, but your plan could use a little tweaking.”

“Such as?  I’m open to suggestions.”

She wasn’t sure what recommendations to make and was thus relieved when the door opened before she could respond.  A tall man with bushy black hair, wide shoulders, and tan skin charged in and slammed the door behind him, causing the final leg of the broken table to collapse.  His black uniform and long sword that draped from his hip marked him as one of King Omri’s soldiers.

She didn’t trust any soldiers.  Taliya quietly took a step back and prepared to load her slingshot with one of her sleeping darts.

 

◊          ◊          ◊

 

“Hello, Vince.”  Javan hadn’t expected Vince to burst in.  The two had only met briefly for the first time earlier that day.  This man was his great-grandfather.  The family traitor.  The reason his father was banished to the Land of No Return and his mother was imprisoned by the Dark King when she was pregnant with him.

But he was also the one who orchestrated his mother’s escape eight months ago and sent her to earth to find him.  Something had caused Vince to betray Omri and fight for Javan to win the throne; Javan just wasn’t sure what the something was that caused his change of heart.

“What happened up there on that roof?”  Vince’s deep voice filled the small room, and he focused his hazel eyes on Javan.  “One minute you look ready to chop Micah’s head off, and the next minute you’re shaking his hand and walking over the bridge together like you are best buddies.”

“We’re not best buddies, but–”

“Why are you befriending a Dragon Hunter?”  Vince carried on as if Javan hadn’t said a word.  “How am I supposed to explain that to the soldiers who witnessed it all?  Their crazy speculations are already flying through the ranks.  What do you think they are going to tell Omri?”

“They’re not going to tell Omri anything because they won’t be returning to Zandador,” Micah said.

“Whoa, Micah.”  His ominous tone made Javan nervous.  “We can’t kill them just because they saw us shake hands.”

“I’m not talking about murder,” Micah said, rolling his eyes.

“What exactly are you talking about?” Javan asked.

“I’m simply suggesting that we capture the soldiers and give them a new home here in Keckrick.  All my father wants are the humminglos.  He won’t miss a few soldiers.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Vince said.  “He’ll order them straight to his throne room and demand to know what transpired here.  When they don’t show up, he’ll send one of his Justice Units to investigate.”

“Or the Dragon Destroyer,” Javan said.

“The what?”  Micah sounded confused.

“When I was in Zandador,” Javan said, “I learned that your father hired a Dragon Destroyer to discreetly execute you after you killed me.”

 

The story continues with Keep Keckrick Safe.

2: The Bloodlines Unite

The following is chapter two of The Dragon Protector.  (Need to start at the beginning?  Click here to go to chapter one.)

Taliya studied the gap between the tips of her fingers and the roof.  If she jumped, she was sure she could grab the raised edge and pull herself up the way Javan had.  He had made it look easy.  Then again, he was a good five inches taller than her.

The crowd had grown quiet.  What could they see that she couldn’t?  Had Javan drawn his stalker swords?  Were the two men about to duel?  She had to get up there to keep them from killing each other.  But how?

“Just go for it, Taliya.”  At her own prompting, she bent her knees as low as she could from her perch on the railing and vaulted straight up.  Her fingers latched onto the wood, but that was as far as she could get.  She dangled from the corner, unable to tug herself up or swing her legs high enough to snag the roof and use them to take some of the pressure off her arms.

“Psst.  Mertzer.  A little help?”  Her words sounded soft and strained to her own ears and failed to get Mertzer’s attention.  She began contemplating the best way to contort her body to cause the least amount of damage upon colliding with the ground when the dragon peeked his head around the building.

“Hey, buddy.”  Her muscles burned, and her sweaty fingers started to slip.  “I know Micah hasn’t given you an official order, but—”  She lost her grip and braced herself for the inevitable impact with the ground.  But the dragon’s head broke her fall, and she landed flat on her belly between Mertzer’s eyes.

“Good thing you can move quickly.”  His scales were warmer than she expected them to be.  He needed to get out of the city and back under the protective canopy of the rain forest.  He would be able to if he was free like all dragons should be.

“Thanks for catching me.”  She rubbed behind his soft ears to show her appreciation as he lifted her to the roof.  She slid down his snout and landed discreetly behind Javan just as Micah was placing his sword in Javan’s hands.

“If I kill you, my father wins,” Micah said, dropping to his knees and putting his hands behind his back.  “That is why you must kill me.”

Taliya watched in disbelief as Micah lowered his head and Javan stared at him like a confused statue.  When nothing happened, Micah looked up.

“Go ahead,” Micah said.  “Kill me.  Take Mertzer.  Win the throne.”

Javan stuttered his reply.  “I…I don’t understand.”

Neither did Taliya.  What had happened in Zandador that made Michah want to turn on his father and die?

“It’s not hard,” Micah said.  “You need a Dusk Stalker.  Mertzer is the last Dusk Stalker alive.  The only way you can collect him is if you kill me.”

“I get that,” Javan said.  “What I don’t get is why.  The deal you made with Omri involved my execution in exchange for letting the people of Keckrick live.”

“No one else was in that room.  How did you know about that?”

“That’s irrelevant.  What matters is that I know the real deal.  So why are you changing the terms?”

“Because I found out what my father is doing with the humminglo plants.”

 

◊          ◊          ◊

 

Micah noticed Taliya take a step toward them at the mention of the humminglo plants.  Taliya?  What was she doing up here?  How did she get on the roof, and how long had she been standing there?

“What Omri is doing with the plants changed your mind?”  Javan sounded baffled.  “So it had nothing to do with the Destroyer?”

“What Destroyer?”  The sudden appearance of Taliya already had Micah distracted, so he wasn’t sure he heard Javan right.  Most of the Destroyer Bloodline had died out centuries before Micah was even born.  Why would Javan be talking about a Destroyer?

“Nevermind.”  Javan shook his head, tossed Micah’s sword aside, and pulled Micah to his feet.  “What’s Omri using the humminglo flowers for?”

Micah took a deep breath to regain his focus and explained what he had learned.  “When the liquid from inside the web of the flower is consumed, it somehow cuts off a person’s ability to think for themselves.  My father plans to use this substance to control the Land of Zandador.  He won’t need an army to enforce his laws, and he won’t need dragons to inflict punishment.  He’ll gain complete and total power over everyone.”

“Mind control?”  Taliya interrupted and walked over to stand beside Javan.  “Are you sure?”

“I wouldn’t be willing to die if I wasn’t sure,” Micah said.  “And I am sure my father won’t bother destroying the people of Keckrick once he gets his hands on their entire supply of super humminglos.  The flowers are more important to him than anything else.”

“This doesn’t make sense,” Javan said.  “You like having control over people.  You should be trying to harness the power of the humminglos for yourself, not be asking me to usurp your father.”

Micah cringed at Javan’s assessment of his character.  That is who he used to be; it wasn’t who he wanted to be anymore.  He was willing to sacrifice his own life to prove it.  “My father is wrong.  People matter.  You taught me that.”

Determining that Javan would prefer to use his own weapon, Micah drew the stalker sword from the scabbard hanging on Javan’s right hip, pointed the tip at his chest, and forced Javan to hold the handle by smothering Javan’s hands with his own.  “But my father thought I was dead and didn’t care.  My death should bother him.  It will if you kill me and take Mertzer.”

Micah could tell by the way Javan’s chest heaved up and down that he was considering pushing that sword in a few inches.  He needed to.  It was the only way his father could be defeated.

“Don’t do it, Javan.”  Taliya put her hand on Javan’s shoulder.  “You’re not a murderer.”

“What other choice do I have?”  Javan kept his glowing green eyes glued on Micah’s for a long moment before shifting his gaze to Taliya.  They seemed to speak a silent language Micah didn’t understand, and he knew Javan would never act without Taliya’s approval.

“Javan, stop stalling.”  Tears dripped down Micah’s cheeks.  He needed this to be over.  He needed to die.  “Put an end to my agony.  Please.”

“I will.  But not by killing you.”  Javan yanked his hands away from Micah, put his sword away, and offered his hand to Micah to shake.  “Join me.  Be part of my team.  Fight with me and Taliya to overthrow your father.”

 

◊          ◊          ◊

 

Javan’s words reminded Taliya that she had already agreed to go with him to Zandador.  She was not thrilled with the agreement.  She had spent the first seven years of her life in that place and didn’t want to return.  The only reason she had said yes was so that she could continue to protect Kisa even though the Dawn Stalker now technically belonged to Javan.

“No.”  Micah refused Javan’s suggestion.  “Mertzer can never be a part of your collection as long as I am alive.  You need him.”

“No.  I need you on my side.”  Javan smiled.  “I know of another way to collect a Dusk Stalker.”

“There is no other way.  You have to–”

“You have to shut up and trust me.”

Micah cocked his head and narrowed his eyes.  “All right,” Micah said after a long pause.  “I’ll trust you.”  He stuck out his hand, grasped Javan’s, and shook.

“Fantastic.”  Taliya put both of her hands on top of theirs and lowered her voice as she looked at Javan.  “Now that we have this team thing established, let’s go somewhere with a little more privacy to discuss how you intend to collect a Dusk Stalker that doesn’t exist.”

 

The story continues with First Team Meeting.

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