Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Much Later than Anticipated Check In.

       So guess what? It has been over a year since our last blog post and admittedly it's because of my lackadaisical nature that there hasn't been one. Maybe at one point it seemed like this genius idea to have a blog where we can formulate our ideas and sketch them out on this blank sheet so that you The Reader could follow our writing process and dream as we do. The truth of that is: What's more important? A consistent blog about the little ruminations of our daily lives or me sitting down with our enormous and at times unruly book to actually get words on the page? The answer is clear to me. So I let the blog suffer in favor of exactly that... I would like that this yearly check in was to tell you that of course our book is finished, and that of course it's perfect and flawless and not at all a rough draft anymore. Unfortunately, due to extenuating circumstances, a small measure of laziness, and the consistent pressure of work and school, that indeed the book isn't quite finished.

       We are extremely close to finishing the book and winding down on it. There are about eight hundred pages thus far and two-hundred thirty seven thousand words...which to those of you of a younger age that is just a tad short of Harry Potter and The Order of Phoenix, and to you who are a little older it is the size of two Return of the Kings. And for the more prolific readers among us it is basically the length of Winter's Heart, the ninth book in the massive Wheel of Time series. I could go all day with comparisons in length to books of esteemed genius, but that would bore you all to tears. The writing process is going as smoothly as can be with the business of Summer. Conventions, camps, Watersmeet drawing close, etc, all of which prove to be big distractions. In some cases these distractions are very good. That way in this effort filled construction of an imaginary world we do not lose sight of our Muse. God the Father. It has been exceptionally easy to do just that, to give my sheets of paper a crown and focus all my attention on it to the point where I live and breath Rumors of War. The fictional characters within becoming as real to me as real-life companions, but that's the way to destruction for once we have stepped away from it all, an obsession of that level is healthy for no one. A sheet of paper can burn in a fire, or be shredded by a pair of scissors. God, fortunately, is around consistently and can't fail us.

      Anyway old friends, who some have asked "So you guys done with that book yet" this is my update to you and all. Maybe when I check in another year from now the book will already be on the shelves. Lord willing;)

With hope and Prayer,

Drew Helmes

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Almost done with Part 2

     Well, it has been a very busy time for Drew and me, and writing has been slow. I must say that Drew has definitely been holding the boat together for now, as I have been very busy (and sometimes very lazy) in the past few months. Finishing up school was the worst of it, but also focusing on getting jobs and other things at this pivotal point of life took up much of our time.
     Yet here we are, almost finished with part two of our book. It is arguably the longest and most important part of the book, as it sets up the entire plot and brings the whole world setting into perspective. The writing has been rough, but it has also been some of our best writing we have ever done. There were times of joy and times of pain. In fact, the biggest problem was just how much time it took to get it done!
     At this point, to finish up this section's rough draft, Drew and I need only put together an estimated twenty pages of writing. We will do it together at one computer, rather than assigning half to one man and half to the other. This is because of the importance of this piece. Honestly, I believe the scene that we will build over the next week will be the hardest, most trying piece we will write in this book, because if we do not get it perfect, the rest of the book will be worthless.
     It is a daunting task, but we both relish the chance to take it on. We would both appreciate prayers during this time. We have a lot of writing left to do before the book is over, but at this point, we are trying to just think about this part. Almost two sections down, four more to go! And we already have about 300 pages total. It is amazing for us both to think about, and we are so thankful to God and our friends that have supported us this whole way. A huge thank you to everybody!

On a side note, we will be thinking of another scene to release to everyone pretty soon. It will probably be the first chapter, so be ready!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rumors of War - Prologue #1

After a long time of promising and procrastinating, we are proud to show you our first sneak peek of Rumors of War. We hope you enjoy it, and would love to hear your feedback!
“Amire is dead.”
Rasson’s jaw dropped. The bells still tolled, as they had for the past twenty minutes. He had come as quickly as he could, but the lower markets were far from the Palace War Room. Staring at the bald General Bain, the Standard Captain was at a loss for words.
Bain gave an understanding nod, his eyes grim and gaze lowered in shame.
“I,” the general began, then shook his head. “It was all so...  unexpected. That the gods would take such a noble king from this world...” A pained frown stretched across his features. His weight leaned on his cane, but he stood tall even still, his sword that they nicknamed “Weeper” at his side. Bain was a powerful man, or had been once, and though he had more meat on his bones and had acquired many injuries throughout his years, he was no less a fighter because of it.
Rasson felt his heart drop as the words even now began sinking in. “How...?”
General Bain’s red rimmed eyes shot up, and he replied in a soft tone, unusual for his gravelly voice, “Poison. One of the servants. We are questioning him now.” He pointed off to the right,  waving his hand in the direction of the Palace Guard rooms.
Rasson looked about him, his mind a mess of shock, anger, and confusion. Amire had been the one to raise him to Standard Captain, barely four months prior. It had been an honor few soldiers would ever receive. He pulled a chair over to him and sat down heavily, his head feeling light.  He threw his hand out and grabbed the corner of the long table so many generals and kings had used for the planning of war, foreign and domestic.
Rasson eyed the small wooden figurines that sat on the table, laid out on a map that displayed the entire army of Emyr. He looked at the many pieces scattered across different regions, tactically placed to handle the threats that often beset the land. It was a thing of beauty, the map, covered in the armies of Emyr. Such a presentation of power.
Something caught his eye. Rasson frowned. The northeastern side of the map held a great conglomeration of the figurines, positioned all the way from Northstand to Seven Pikes, the far eastern holdfast. This is new, he thought. The figures formed a great line, as if...
Standing, the Standard Captain pointed at the mass of battalions. “What is this?” The general looked troubled, and scratched his head.
“Are we going to war?” Rasson asked suddenly.
Bain stared at him and before he even spoke, Rasson knew the answer. The general opened his mouth and then closed it in mutual understanding.
Rasson spotted the third battalion of the Second army, his own battalion. The small detachment of light infantry was placed below Northstand, nestled in the wooded area that surrounded it. There was a small red block next to the figure, showing that his men were not actually there yet, but would be there shortly. Rasson would lead them there.
He felt a tingle down his spine. As much as he had prepared for this, when he saw the small wooden figurines showing him and his own men, he felt that nothing would have been enough. War is coming and all I can do is wait, like a helpless farmer watching a storm approach. Rasson thought. A storm that may leave the entire country in ruin.
Bain quietly left the room and Rasson followed him.

Helane gave General Bain a look that said nothing but told all.  Rasson watched as Bain’s shoulders slumped just slightly, but enough for Rasson to know what he was thinking as well. The Queen and the two soldiers stood in her personal reception room, it was large hall with five hearths and clusters of cushioned arm chairs nestled near them. The room by itself was cold enough to make visitors anxious, but the rumors of the queen alone would have done the job.
Rasson noticed that Bain was tired from the sleepless night where they had interrogated various servants. Rasson himself had only gotten a few hours of sleep. Still a few hours more than Bain from the looks of it.
“Have you always been so fat?” Helane asked coldly. She had long flowing hair, bound by a stunning crown with a simple, yet queen-like black dress on. The color of mourning.
Bain managed a chuckle, “Oh I’ve had more than my fair share of wine and bread in recent days, my queen.”
Helane didn’t return the laugh and instead fiddled with the wedding ring on her finger. “Should I replace you? Are you capable?”
“I fought beside the brothers and slew more men than both of them combined. I may have gained weight, but I could still slay any green boy.” Bain gritted his teeth.
“Right. You fought beside both brothers. How do I know you won’t turn over to Jora’s side if we begin to falter in battle?”
“It was Amire I said the oaths to not Jora, and are you certain we should come to conclusions so fast?” Bain said, his face impassive.
“I am not being rash. It is clear to me who is responsible. Jora has never forgiven Amire for being the one to marry me.” Not a tear fell onto her cheeks. A hard woman, thought Rasson, shifting his feet and holding his hands behind his back.
“The people will have suspicions...” Bain said slowly.
“Suspicions of what?” Helane’s eyes dared Bain to speak further.
“Nothing, your grace. I spoke in haste, without thinking.” Bain continued, “But the
questions will come. I am prepared to answer anything that you need me to answer, and in whatever way. But the people will talk. We will have to strike fast, and get the people behind us before there is any chance or rebellion. Once Jarash kills a few more of our soldiers, the people will flock behind us, but until then, we need a plan.” Helane listened to him absently, her eyes gazing at the tall vaulted ceilings, passing over each arch and gable, examining each beautiful sculpted pillar, and caressing the stained glass windows that sat at a slant, allowing shafts of morning light in to illumine the room.
A group of servants in livery passed by, shooting furtive glances at Helane and the
general. Rasson kept his face as hard as stone, showing none of the anger he felt deep down. He had never liked the queen, though he felt ashamed to admit it.
“I always loved this room,” she began, smiling, her face a painting of reminiscence. “My father used to take me here, when he would meet with Amire’s father. I would wait out here, as I was not allowed in the court, but oh how I wished to be with father. The court always intrigued me, even then.” She laughed. “There I would be, barely six years old, and I already wanted to be queen.” Then the queen paused, her eyes returning to the hardness that had been before.
“No, dear Bain, everything will be quite alright. Jora will come in full force, you know how he is, now that he has killed Amir. He will act outraged, of course. Helane paused, straightening her back and sighing, “But he won’t be the one to attack first.”
“If I may, your grace. There are only two men capable of beating Jora in the field. One is world’s away ruling Molothgar and the other died last night,” Rasson said. He fought when Jora and Amire had taken back their namesake cities, and he remembered vividly the tactical genius of Jora.
Helane stopped and looked at Rasson, “Who’s this one?”
“He’s my son-in-law. A bit ambitious to be sure, but a good man the same.” Bain shot Rasson a look, but it had warmth in it, they continued through the room.
“I won’t disagree that Jora is a great soldier, which is why we must send word to Vidar and Orath.”
Rasson knew all about Vidar Oakswood, the men in the field knew him as “The Horned Giant.” He stood more than seven feet tall and wore a helmet with horns coming out, that was made from the skull of some northern beast. Men say when he rides into battle, he looks more a demon than a man.
Bain beat Rasson to the question, “He is the most dangerous man in the world, your grace. Or have you forgotten the crimes he committed during the last war?” This morning started with me eating breakfast with my daughters and wife, and now I am going to war? Rasson thought bitterly.
“I forget nothing, Bain. But he is still my uncle and will bring with him a number of good fighters.” Fighters that act like a pack of rabid dogs.
Bain shook his head, “And Orath? Has anyone received word of Orath in the past couple years? It’s as if the city vanished off the map.”
Helane glared, “Lothar is Amire and Jora’s cousin, Jora will surely send a messenger asking his help. We must ask before Jora can.”
“Might I suggest we seek help from the Triumvirate? If we could prove-”
“Did they give us help when Amire and Jora took back the states? No. Nor did they give help to Haleth when Molothgar sacked it. We are on our own in this.” Then she gave Bain a cold embrace and  said, ”I must return to court.”
The General didn’t blink. Helane frowned slightly. “Come with me. It would be good to have your support on this issue.” Her arched eyebrows spoke volumes.
Bain bowed stiffly. “As you command, your grace.”
The queen smiled, then spinned gracefully and glided across the room towards the door. Rasson nearly cursed when he realized there were no servants in the room, and rushed to open the large wooden doors for her. She hardly seemed to notice him.
He walked just slightly behind her and to the left, as a precautionary defense against assassins. At this point, he felt strange, guarding such a dangerous woman. She didn’t seem to need  help.
They entered the courtroom, and some three dozen noblemen and women stood to hail Helane. Servants were also everywhere, but less today than usual. The Palace was taking every precaution, now. Six guards sat at each entrance to the large, pillared room, and another four guarded the throne itself.
Helane immediately went up the steps and set herself down lightly on the throne. She was a beautiful woman, but one would be a fool to do anything about it. The last man to take her hand was the King of Emyr, who now lay dead as of yesterday. Rasson tried not to think on it too much.
“All kneel for Helane, the Queen of Emyr, High Lady of the Western Wood, High Lady of the Southern Peaks, and Defender of the Realm of Emyr. All kneel for Helane, the Queen her Majesty, High Ruler of all Emyr, may her lineage reign a hundred years!” The court speaker quieted as everyone kneeled, heads bowed. Rasson realized he had forgot to kneel, and dropped down by Bain, nearly cursing again. He had never been good at playing court. Today was no exception, with everything that had been going on. My mind’s a mess.
The court speaker’s voice rang out again, and there was a shuffling sound as the Nobility, Servants, and Soldiers alike rose before their superior.
Helane stared down at them all, her eyes scanning the room. Finally, she spoke, her voice breaking slightly as she did.
“It is a sad day. Yesterday, my husband, the King of Emyr, was murdered at his meal.”
Several of the nobles murmured among themselves. Helane shot them a look of distaste.
“I know what all of you are thinking. Who did it? And what will our actions be in retaliation? You will have answers.”
“Your Majesty!” A round, bearded man stepped forward. He wore an extravagant fur coat, which hung down near his ankles. His stomach jutted out like a shelf, and his hands rested on it, fingers crossed. “What is the full extent of the story? I and many other Lords have heard no more than rumors. We know not what to tell our people.” His name was Gregory of Shauff. Rasson had been to Shauff once, a wealthy trading town, half of which was owned by Lord Gregory. Servants and slaves there called him the Lord of Cakes, as he ate voraciously and had a particular taste for cakes. Rasson could tell.
“General?” Helane said, her head turning to give the man a blank gaze.
Bain took a slow breath that only Rasson felt the weight of, and then approached the throne, his eyes lowered. “We have been searching through the night, your Majesty.”
“Searching for what, General?”
“Anything that would give us an advantage in finding who has taken our king from us.”
The queen’s flat gaze showed nothing at all, but once again, Rasson could almost touch the tension in the room, like a rope pulled taught and ready to break.
Bain continued. “From what we found, King Amire was dead before he took a bite from his supper. Poison. It looks Verysian, though we are not sure.” A few gasps were heard, but nothing more. Verys was a small village just east of the city of Orath, hidden in the Hiranian Swamps.
“The servant who did it was caught. He must not have expected the poison to work so fast. We have him in custody now, your Majesty.”
“And what did this servant, this assassin, say when you interrogated him?” said the queen. Her voice was quiet, and the entire court stilled to hear her.
Bain hesitated, his eyes shooting up to meet the queen’s eyes. It was only a split second, and he continued. “The servant broke after a few hours. He was weak. He told us that a man named Rodric was the one to give him the job. We found the man, Rodric, in his home last night.”
Another pause, and this time everyone noticed it.
“Rodric,” Bain said, “told us, after intense interrogation, that he was commissioned by Zanzar Alonan.” The court fell still. A few late gasps were heard, and Rasson was surprised.
He watched the nobles, and realized from their expressions that they were confused. This was not something they were expecting. Rasson recalled standing in this room when he was promoted, on his knee with the bearded King Amire standing over him. Helane had been there as well and Bain. It had been Bain’s idea. Now, Amire is dead, and these glorious four months are at an end. In all likelihood I will not live through this war, the bones of me and my men will litter the battlefields.
Helane wore a frown on her face, but to Rasson it almost seemed a smirk. One could never tell with this woman. She spoke again, loud and commanding, but her voice breaking now and then with feigned grief.
“Jora... Jora is behind this. It is the only answer. He will stop at nothing to bring an end to my reign, our only option is to take his head before he has a chance to take mine” she hissed, and then jumped to her feet. “General, you will assemble the armies of Emyr at once. Send word to Orath and to my Uncle Vidar, tell them I require their support. And then send a message to the murderer Jora, the head of his servant. The one that dared to poison my husband... the man I loved.” She fell back, her head in her hands, sobbing. A couple handmaidens nearly fell over themselves as they attended her.
Bain bowed, and turned as the court erupted in talk. People began moving about, and a few of the more powerful houses were called up to the front of the hall to speak with Helane. Rasson turned to Bain, who now started towards the door.
Rasson shook his head in anger as he followed Bain. The world fractures more and more everyday. Even the gods seemed to be at odds.
He caught up to Bain, walking by his side through the cold, stone corridors of the keep. These halls were old, and strong. The sounds of the court disappeared behind them, and Rasson sighed loudly.
Bain stared straight ahead as they walk, coming closer to the end of the hall, where there was a tight, winding staircase lit by torches. They entered the staircase, walking down for a couple turns, and then emerged near the officer’s quarters.
“They did not expect that turn of events.” said Bain, his hands behind his back as he slowed to a stroll, looking around to see if anyone was near. The hall they now stood in was empty. The walls were lined with doors to each Standard Captain’s and General’s quarters.
“Expect what? That Jora was responsible?” asked Rasson.
Nodding, Bain replied, “Yes. It came as quite a shock to the nobles, as I’m sure you noticed.” Rasson had noticed that the late gasps seemed forced.
“Helane did take them by surprise,” Bain said, forgetting not to let his opinions show. Rasson had known the man for years, and he wouldn’t betray his general even if his life was in danger. “They expected a great Emyran house to be blamed, which would spark a conflict within Emyr. A house war was what they were thinking would come of Amire’s death. But now, they have a war between two states that have long been close allies. Yes, Helane took them by surprise. Instead of splitting the nobility apart, she has forced them to unite.” The older man grimaced. “Under her.”
Rasson’s mouth hung slightly open. He hadn’t thought of that.
“What will come of this?” he asked, feeling a great anxiousness growing inside of him.
Bain stopped in front of his chambers, which sat at the end of the hall. The man shook his head, and then entered the room, closing the door behind him.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Uses of Journaling

      When an athlete goes for a length of time without exercise and practice, his overall performance falls a certain amount. Muscles grow weak, determination wanes, and the skills sharpened over years of experience begin to lose their edge. No matter how hard he tries, if he doesn't spend time to coax these strengths and skills back to their former height, the level he performs at will be much lower than before.
      Writing is no different. A writer must stay disciplined, making sure to write daily and maintain focus. When it comes to practices that keep a writer on the top of his or her game, a journal is one of the best tools that writer can have.
      I myself have found journaling to be the only way to keep myself sharp. Everyone is different, but if you are like me, you need your writing journal to keep you motivated and well practiced.
      Keeping a journal does two things, mainly. The first of these is it gives you a reason to write daily, which helps you exercise your skills and continually improve. Even if you aren't working on a project at a certain time, you can still pull out your journal and give yourself a writing prompt to work on.
      The second thing a journal does is it relieves the stresses of everyday life. My life has been plagued with pain for a few years, and my journal has allowed me to lock my pain within its pages. There lies some of the rawest, most true writing I have ever done. My mind is clear, because I am able to write about my pain objectively, rather than live in it.
      A journal is a useful tool, and one that is very easy to use. It doesn't require eloquent writing, nor does it require truth, even. All it needs is words. By keeping a journal, a writer can exercise his or her skills without needing a purpose to do so. The writer's mind is brought into focus, page by page, until the stresses of each day retreat into each word. To each and every writer out there like myself: use this tool. You will be better because of it.


Sunday, March 3, 2013


         Creativity is the natural process in which we play the role of God and create universes. We don't know exactly where it comes from. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat. Pray. Love., says that Ancient Civilizations believe it was drawn from a powerful secondary source. The more modern belief is that it comes from within one's self. I don't think we as humans are supposed to know where creativity comes from. It's just something you have, it's your imagination at work. When God created the universe, it required a great deal of creativity. Maybe that's why we have it. Its all about the journey. We could write a particularly boring tale, where it addresses all the points and ideas but it isn't a fun read. The cliff notes version. That's why we write everything that lies between these points.
          Free writing is letting whatever pops in your head to be jotted down on paper, this allows us to open the dams we have created within our own minds. These dams stop creativity like one stops a river. We are constantly coming up with great ideas. But always when it comes to placing it on paper, there is a block. Good writers know how to destroy these blocks using free writing. Writing towards a specific goal, but how you reach the goal is whatever your mind or the creativity inside your walls puts there for you. There would be thousands more best sellers if people knew the quality of free writing. It is beautiful. Writing comes from within, and there is no perfect formula for writing. Just like you can't change someone else. No one can tell you how to write, they give suggestions, but what works is completely determined by you.
          The connections won't be there immediately, lets say you were writing a book and two characters started out unrelated, but upon rewrite you discover that it would make more sense if you connected those and dots and made them brother and sister. You connect those dots and then a world forms. It may be the thoughts on the World that already exists or your fictional universe created in your head as part of fantasy. You take that being that resides within your walls. Creativity. Then you channel it through your hands into words contained on a page. It is like a leaking faucet, creativity, it drips constantly, but it doesn't come at a pace you can set your watch to. You wish it would come at a steady pace, but it just drops and drops until it forms a puddle or in the sense of creativity "an idea" and then we link those ideas together into a chain like connecting the dots.

           What I am trying to get across here is that everyone has creativity. It's about sitting down, not putting it off till tomorrow, not waiting for inspiration to come. Writing isn't like that. It's about opening the floodgates and just writing.
            Thanks for reading.

            ~Drew Helmes


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Rumors of a Book

     Every day I see literature, read literature, write literature. I study literature, I imitate literature, and I love literature. All throughout my experience with literature, and more specifically with science fiction/fantasy novels, I have always found that the important thing that a story portrays is not the beginning, nor the ending, but rather the way in which the story brings itself from the beginning to the end and the way in which the characters evolve and change along the way. The beauty of this genre is that the characters are quite often very human, with flaws and vices, virtues and characteristics, but with a twist of the fantastic. In essence, what a science fiction/fantasy book can do is take the reader and place him or her in the shoes of a character or characters in any given plot line, and let them live an extraordinary life, where anything is possible. 

I, as a fantasy writer, am drawn to the genre because I personally love putting a reader in a spot where he can understand the character, and get to know them throughout a story that tumbles through a world the reader has never yet experienced. The journey the reader takes is much like a roller coaster: you don't get on one because you love the beginning, and you don't get on one just so you can get off again. It is the ride that you love. It is the ups, and indeed even the downs that get your heart pumping. It is the mountains and valleys, and the people you meet along the way. It is the way you see the character change dramatically over the course of the story. And it is the way the story changes you, either ever so slightly, or so powerfully that you can never be the same.

That, my friends, is the beauty of writing. This blog is our gift to you, before we present you all with our finished product. We want to share our journey, our ups and downs, and our trials and successes. We will post updates on how the book is coming, release sneak peaks, and hopefully show you how the process has been for both of us! 

Thank you, and God bless,

~Denton Holmgren