Keep Sailing

“This is what you should teach me, how to be like Odysseus–how to love my country, wife, and father, and how, even after suffering shipwreck, I might keep sailing on course to those honorable ends.”

-Seneca, Moral Letters, 88.7b

In a time when everything seems to be on fire; when there are literal biblical events like war, pestilence and plague; the lesson from the Odyssey is to keep going. In one of the earliest and greatest Epics of all time, one of the main lessons was perseverance. I strive to write epics as fantastic as the one Homer penned and I strive to live life with the courage Odysseus showed.

Cheers!

Zombies!

With Halloween coming, here’s some more of my more monster rich writing…zombies

The doors slid open as I reached them and I took stock of what I was up against. There were several people in an elevator trying to get out of the hospital, but they were blocked by over a dozen zombies. Someone in the elevator had a pistol and was shooting the zombies, but of course they didn’t know you have to shoot them in the head to kill the virus, so they were not very efficient at it.

I arrived in just the nick of time. There were a couple zombies keeping the elevator from closing and therefore the people inside, had nowhere to go. I moved quickly. They didn’t notice me until I got near enough for them to smell me. Two turned around only to catch a blast from my shotgun in the face. A few more caught some pellets and spun around in time to have another blow end their miserable existence. A few more rounds and the bulk of them had dropped to the ground. The shrills and screams from the elevator had increased, but the poor people inside didn’t know the king had arrived.

The two zombies in the door to the elevator were injured from my assault. They laid on the ground squirming and growling—their bodies broken, but brains intact. I slowly moved the shotgun to my left arm, pulled the cop’s pistol out of its holster with my right and fired a round into each of their skulls.

I sighed, pleased at the carnage around me. I was in such a state of Zen that I almost forgot about the people in the elevator. They said not a word, only stared at me in disbelief and fear.

Back to reality, I took charge, “Get up, we need to get out of here. It is going to get worse.”

So Much to Write

So much to write so little time! As summer trudges on and the inferno of Fresno heat burns my flesh and scorches my feet, I continue to forge my “writer” self into a truly respectable being. It is rewarding and painful all at once and yet I am elated to be on this path.

One of the things I didn’t anticipate but now find myself agonizing over is which projects to focus on. Obviously my pilot series is The Sureshot and I absolutely love it and it has as of yet been received well and I look forward to continuing but I have so many other ideas and even partial stories written that I could chose to focus on that it becomes a little daunting at times.

On top of that, I really embraced building a brand. It appears that branding is a huge thing in our world and successful people and companies do it very well. Say Starbucks and everyone knows exactly what you mean. Mention J K Rowling and you immediately think Harry Potter. Stephen King and you associate his work with horror. Branding.

So what do I want Brunnengraeber to mean? As a quick aside, I am actually thrilled to be named Brunnengraeber as it is not a name very many people carry and so I can work to create a brand around it without influence from anything or anyone else.

To answer my own questions; I’m not one hundred percent sure yet. I’ve decided that indeed epic fantasy is the genre for me but I have not yet created enough content to sustain much of a brand. That means that every word I write at this point could either help build a brand or erode whatever I have already built. I feel a lot of pressure as a result. But such is life and I’m embracing the challenge with enthusiasm and joy.

For now The Sureshot is my focus, but I will branch out from that soon and in ways that will likely have a significant effect on my career as a writer for whatever that is worth. The journey itself is enjoyable so I have no complaints.

Bonus Sureshot Story

Working on a small project right now. Here is the opening scene. If you have a moment, please let me know what you think. Thank you! Have a wonderful weekend readers!

In the woods surrounding the city of Harmon, nature flourished in all its beauty. While some viewed the natural world as peaceful and lovely, others saw it is wild and dangerous. In reality it was both. There was certainly much beauty in the plants, trees and creatures of the woods, but there was also a threat. For inexperienced explorers, the wild was fraught with hazards and predators, but for the rangers and woodsmen of the world, there was nothing to fear, but much to be respected. As with most things in the world, the wild always sought a balance. Sometimes, when the balance was ruined, the actions of the natural world’s defenders was required to set it right.

On one calm and warm afternoon, a herd of deer was grazing in the shade of the forest canopy; sheltered from fear and danger. This particular herd was composed of 5 males. The dominant male was large and strong and commanded the respect of the others through yearly battles for mates. With mating season still months away, the males were able to coexist and get along well enough though they recognized the superiority of the alpha. They had no cares in the world as they nibbled at bushes and leaves from low trees. The herd did not have the faintest warning that the peaceful balance was about to be upset.

Nearby, an ancient creature sniffed the air and caught scent of the herd. The beast growled low and looked about for sign of the animals but did not find them. Instead, he sniffed again and turned to the direction of the unsuspecting bucks. He squinted his eyes and sniffed some more, confident he had found the source of the smell. He slobbered and groaned thinking about how delicious and tasty the bucks would be. His eyes focused as his hand gripped a rudimentary club in his giant hand tightly.

The deer perked their heads up, hearing a commotion nearby. Their ears twitched back and forth as they tried to determine the direction and nature of the disturbance in the otherwise peaceful and calm woods. Nerves shot down their spines and told their legs to run but they did not know in which direct to flee. They were frozen, hearts pounding, eyes bulging and ears desperate to find the danger.

Then a crash nearby gave the bucks the confirmation they needed. They broke into a dash for safety, leaping over fallen trees and crooked bushes. Their pursuer was not about to let his meal escape however. The beast was so large that it bullled through trees and smashed through brush growing hungrier each leap.

The bucks dashed as fast as they could, quick and lithe they fled for their lives but they were not getting further from the creature.

Like thunder rolling across the forest floor, the monster reached the herd and swallowed them up. Growls and snarls were the last sounds they would hear as the savage creature smashed one buck with a forehand swing of the massive tree trunk it used as a club snapping its body as if it were clay, then a back hand caught another and crushed it as well. Three bucks still raced for their salvation from the demon born monster that sought them. Another swing of the club shattered a leg of one and hobbled him though he tried desperately to rise once more and flee. Not satisfied with three bucks, the monster dove after the remaining two, landing atop one and pinning it helplessly to the dirt and clawing at the last. The young buck was racked across the back. It cried out as searing pain shot through its body but it only stumbled and blind to anything but holding on to life and escaping the drooling maw of the hideous beast it blocked the fire in its flesh and willed its legs to continue on in flight.

The beast glared at the buck that dashed through trees towards freedom and was intent on chasing it further but then the buck under it wailed and the creature looked to it, annoyed that it protested its fate and snapped its gnarled and twisted teeth into the poor animal’s neck ending the torture. The taste of blood and flesh in its mouth was enough to break the trance of reckless pursuit and the monster paused to savor the meal, leaving a huge gape in the innocent prey’s neck.

The monster climbed to its feet, gripping its club in one claw and the dead buck in the other. It looked longingly towards the direction the sole survivor escaped and then a cry from behind turned its attention to its other victims. One lay dead beside a tree that rose like a gravestone above it. Another laid, body broken, only able to plead for mercy with feeble cries. The last crawled away with the only strength that remained in its badly damaged bones.

The beast dragged the gnawed buck along as it approached its dying friend. A quick smash with the club was the only release it would receive but it was preferable to the only sensation that remained; suffering. The creature then turned to the noble buck that continued to cling to the hope that it may yet survive. A trail of blood lead from the spot where it endured the powerful blow of the club for several yards into thicker brush. The monster stomped on the foliage and immediately found the animal toiling to put distance between it and its predator. It turned to view its executioner before the sweet release of death and saw the an enormous monstrosity it had never seen before but knew that there was no escaping its greedy appetite.

In a deliberate and slow motion, the beast reached out for the buck, which did little to resist except call out once more. It took the buck in its claw and effortlessly lifted it to its dark maw and in one bite ended the torment.

The otherwise majestic and beautiful forest bore a deep and hideous scar that day that would not heal easily.

The Sureshot Rises

Join the Adventure and read The Sureshot Rises today!

The boy asked Durbar if he would like something to drink, and Durbar asked him for some cider. He then sat quietly all alone at the front table while trying to keep calm and avoid eye contact with anyone. Klaud returned and filled his goblet. At least he now had a place to put his hands, and he clutched the drink with both of them as he sipped it. He kept his eyes down so as to not make eye contact with anyone in the room. At first all was well, but his strategy of avoidance was soon tested.

A woman at the party noticed Durbar sitting nervously by himself. She immediately found him interesting because he was obviously not used to formal situations, and she had never seen him before. She herself was an attractive woman, a little taller than most with flowing brown hair and deep blue eyes that were like two dark pools of water. She was a fair lady, but not meek or fragile. She decided to approach Durbar after studying him from a distance for a time like a hawk tracking a squirrel.

She walked over to where Durbar was seated, but he did not notice her because he was staring into his goblet. She paused for a moment to give him a chance to notice her, but the young bowman did not waver from his strategy. Soon she abandoned the subtle approach and addressed him directly.

“Hello,” she began, distracting him from his drink. Durbar heard her and even suspected that she was talking to him, but really hoped that she was not. He waited a moment to see if anyone else answered her, but when no one did, he concluded that she had in fact spoke to him. He looked up to make sure, even though it betrayed his plan and saw the woman standing only a couple of feet from him. She was staring directly at him. He froze when he knew that she was talking to him. She was socially experienced and so she sensed his fear and tried to put him at ease.

“I haven’t seen you here before? Are you new to Harmon?” she asked.

“No. I mean yes,” he stammered and then cursed under his breath. She smiled at his shyness.

“My name is Verayzija, but most people call me Vera. I am a merchant here in Harmon and elsewere. What is your name?” she asked.

“I am Durbar,” he mumbled breaking eye contact. Verayzija knew that he was unused to social situations and so dismissed his rudeness for not standing up and sat down in the seat next to his instead.

“What brings you here?” she asked.

“I came here to compete in the games.”

“Ah, yes, of course. And you must have won something because you are sitting at the head table. Am I correct?”

“I won the archery competition.”

“Oh my. You are the Sureshot then, aren’t you?” Durbar smiled when she mentioned his nickname. It appeared everyone knew it by now.

“Yes, that is what Prince Rothan calls me.”

“I heard about you obviously,” she continued, now fully understanding his unrefined manners. “You beat Tarbon. He is very good I understand. I think he usually wins the archery match. I missed the games this year myself. I didn’t make it back from Golak until late last night. Still, you did very well I hear and congratulations are in order.”

“Thank you,” he murmured, wishing the conversation would end. However, Durbar continued to talk to Verayzija until it was time to serve dinner. She talked about her travels around Dirka and some of the people she knew. Durbar learned that her father was a merchant, and she learned everything she knows from him. She talked a little about some robbers that were harassing caravans in Dirka and what they were doing to try and stop them. She said that she was trying to convince someone to send some troops to capture the bandits but so far was unsuccessful.

Durbar actually began to relax around her. She had a way of making people feel more comfortable, and it helped him to open up a little. He told her about how he was living in the woods by himself and how he met Rothan there. Then he told her about the tournament and how he found out that his father was in the garrison, but was careful not to tell her too much about his father, even though it was difficult to avoid. The revelation was still fresh in his mind so he could not help himself. It felt good to talk to someone who didn’t know more about him than he did. She in turn gave him some etiquette tips for dining and what to do when the royal party was announced. She was just explaining this very thing when someone came out and blew a horn announcing that the duke and his family would be entering. Verayzija thanked him for the conversation and took her seat at one of the side tables.

My Readers

Who will like my stories? The question matters. Few stories or styles appeal to everyone. Just had a conversation with my daughter today who reads a ton and we were discussing the books we read during school, me from 20 years ago, her from a single year ago, and we were drawn to different ones. I loved Red Badge of Courage. She didn’t care for it. She liked A Separate Peace. I can’t stand that story. Point is. People like different authors and different stories. So, who will like my stories? What is my style?

I’m new at this and have no commercial success yet so I’m still developing as a writer, but I can tell you what I believe my style is and who will like my work.

I love characters. I believe we are very much both good and bad. We can be heroes or villains depending on the situation and motivation. Most cultures and most religions have the same concept. Ying and Yang. Sin nature. It doesn’t matter where you go, people are capable of both good and bad. As a result, I tend to create flawed characters. I try to make my characters very real and very relatable. I want my readers to see themselves or people they know in them. My characters are going to struggle. Even when life is going well for them, there is going to be a social or emotional challenge underneath. They will have to deal with conflict and crisis. And many times, they may make the wrong decisions. They will fail but they will grow. If you like that. Then you’re my type of reader.

I also lean towards fantasy. Why? It’s way more fun. When I can create a world in which obvious evil and clear monster exist, then it is more fun to see my characters attempt to thrive. Dragons are super cool, but a dragon in my story probably represents something real in our world. We face real life dragons all the time. That terrible boss? Dragon. The abusive partner? Dragon. Maybe you grew up in an environment filled with disloyal and dishonest people. Sounds like you lived among goblins. So while I enjoy fantasy as my genre, I write about real conflicts using fantasy as the backdrop. So if you like fantasy, fighting, magic and mythology which will probably still have relevance, you’re my type of reader.

Life is an adventure. I know I’m a bit dramatic, but I tend to see things in terms of adventure. Work can be an adventure. Marriage and relationships can be an adventure. Having and raising kids can be an adventure. Everything can be an adventure. So I write adventure stories and if you’re into adventure, you’re my type of reader.

So I tend to write adventure fantasy stories with complex characters who are capable of both good and evil, being strong and also being weak. If that sounds awesome to you, you are my type of reader and I hope you will go on this journey with me and let’s enjoy stories together.

TBT: Meet Biggs and Smalls

The two dwarf brothers meandered through the deep caves with one purpose in mind—treasure. The taller one, Biggs as his brother called him, was stout but a bit taller than most dwarves, though that is not saying much as most dwarves pride themselves on roundness rather than height. He had a blondish beard though it was difficult to tell through its thickness. It was braided into two longer pieces that stuck out from his chin more than ran down. They appeared as horns or tusks coming from his mouth from afar which often gave strangers pause. He wore the typical chainmail shirt of his kind, a tough helmet on his head and carried a large shield on his arm with a picture of a hammer decorating it. Indeed a silver colored hammer hung from his belt as did a crossbow and bolts.

His brother Smalls was squatter than most, but far from a runt. Thick as a tree trunk he had surprising mobility bounding through the cave with a quickness that would stun any who did not know him. He too had a thick beard, though his was darker than his counterpart and he did not bother braiding it but let it flow down to his chest like a waterfall. He covered his head with a steel helmet that had a spike on the top that was mainly for show in spite of the fact that he swore it would deflect a blade lessening the impact on his head and neck. He carried no shield but had a torch in his hands and a massively wide double bladed ax on his back. The head was nearly as wide as the shaft of the weapon was long, and it looked unwieldy. Any who had ever seen Smalls in action however, knew that he wielded the ax with deadly force.

As usual they were in search of precious treasure. It was a task they had devoted their lives too, but rarely had they managed to collect anything of real worth. This day would be different however. As they rounded a curve in the tunnel that was dug by beings long forgotten, they heard noises. Both dwarves froze in their tracks and listened.

“Miners,” Biggs whispered.

“Of course it’s miners you twit,” Smalls retorted in a harsh voice.

“How many?”

“How should I know?”

“Let’s turn back. Could be a lot of em.”

“No chance. Could have gems, gold, even mithrill.”

“Not likely, most likely minin’ iron.”

“Only one way to find out,” gasped Smalls as he push his brother aside to buy himself a moment, pulled his ax from his back and jumped into the tunnel from where the noise originated.

“You fool!” Biggs shouted pulling his hammer from his belt and following his companion.

Smalls came around a sharp corner to find himself faced with grey dwarves, the underground nemesis of all other dwarves. Five of them stared at the pair in shock and considered them for a moment with dark eyes and tightly drawn faces. Before a word could be spoken the greys lifted their picks and hammers in anger.

The nearest had a thick pick in his hands and he charged Smalls with it raised high above his head. He bellowed a war cry that echoed off the rock walls and dazed the brothers for a moment. Smalls lowered his ax, gripped his head with one hand and closed his eyes to focus on blocking out the sound. In that moment the grey saw his opportunity and raised his pick to kill the intruder.

He snarled and dropped his pick but just when it would have landed on Smalls’ head a shield parried the blow. Biggs kicked Smalls to the side as he swung his hammer over his head and down on the attacking grey. The weapon fell heavy on the enemy’s shoulder, snapping bones and sending him to the ground in a shrieking mass.

The other greys were formed up into a tight line with one at the head. Three held picks, but the one in front had whip in one hand and a dirk in the other. He cracked the whip in front of him and growled in the brothers’ dwarven dialect, “You should not have come here. This is our territory and ours to mine. You are trespassing surface dweller and we will deal with you.”

Smalls recovered from the initial attack to stand shoulder to shoulder with Biggs. They looked at each other with eyes wide and faces otherwise surprised.

Biggs snorted, “You always get us into trouble.”

“But I always get us out too!” laughed Smalls as he lifted his ax and charged into the group of grey dwarves.

The leader cracked his whip at the wild dwarf, but he shifted to one side so the sting of the leather would miss him and then swung his ax into the group at no one target specifically. They all dodged and dove to avoid the heavy blade, but one was caught in the torso. Not wearing any heavy armor, the blade cut straight through his clothes and opened his belly. He cried on the cold stone floor holding his wound in vain.

The other three recovered and sought to counter attack the flailing Smalls, but before they could get an attack off Biggs crashed into them with his shield leading the way and sent them back to the ground shrieking and grunting as they tumbled in a chaotic mass.

Smalls wasted no time as he quickly began hacking down on the enemies, hitting sometimes with the flat of his blade and other times with the deadly edge. In a few short moments they were dispatched of and laid in a hideously bloody heap. Biggs sighed, “I didn’t want to kill anyone.”

Smalls was breathing deeply to catch his breath but replied, “Nor I, but they left us no choice.” Biggs just turned his back and moved back up the site to where the first dwarf fell from his hammer. The grey enemy was still alive though he was badly injured and whimpering from the pain. Biggs knelt down and offered him a sip from one of the water skins he carried. The grey refused but Biggs looked at the wounds again before placing his hands on the shoulder and chanting a few words. The bones snapped back into place and the grey breathed easier. Biggs nodded and smiled as the grey stood up and began to move away. He sat on the ground and wondered about the life he and Smalls were living until he heard the sickening sound of snapping bone and tearing flesh. He quickly spun with his shield raised. Frozen in mid strike the grey dwarf he had just healed stood mouth agape and eyes wide, pick raised in his hands and appeared to be in mid swing—a swing that would have landed a blow on Biggs. Blood trickled from his mouth as Smalls tore his ax from the being’s back allowing him to fall to the floor dead.

“You never learn. Can’t trust anyone,” mocked Smalls. Biggs just sighed and sat back down next to the fallen foe.

1000 Readers!

There’s a convent I absolutely love in a book I’m reading Write. Publish. Repeat. Ok there are a few concepts that I love and so far the book is fantastic, but the one I’m clinging to at the moment is the idea that a writer will be successful and have a fantastic career if the writer has 1000 readers who love them! So I’m looking for a few more readers! Be one and let’s have a fantastic relationship. I have a ton of stories in me. You’ll love them!