Ichabod Brooks: A Character with a Long and Mysterious Past

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Ichabod Brooks has had a long and exciting life that could fill many books with adventures.  His youthful years were reckless, but he survived and gained the skills that would make him a legend.  The middle of his career showed that he had no fear and he developed his reputation with a little help from bards.  Now, he’s a seasoned veteran who is mellow and hard to truly surprise.

And it was only that third stage that I bothered writing about because I liked the idea of a protagonist with a history.  The only problem was I didn’t know how much of it I should plan out beforehand.  Too much detail would take away from the current story and I didn’t want to have him start at the beginning of his career.  It would undo the desire to have a hero who had a family life.  Not to mention the amount of time I’d be putting into crafting stories that I didn’t plan on writing.  Those days/weeks could have been better spent writing the things I planned on publishing.  So, what did I do?

Dug right into the third stage of life stories and crafted pieces of a history as I went along with outlining and writing.  Every character he works with brings their own tales to share with Ichabod.  Just reminiscing about the old times as they add more adventures under their belts.  I like how you get to piece his experience together and it doesn’t take away from what he’s doing.  Just like with his wife, Ichabod’s past is a puzzle that you get to discover as you read along.  It helps fill out a character who has already lived a good portion of his life too.  You don’t so much see him evolve, but see how he did it to become to person you see now.

Maybe I’ve spent so much time writing stories about heroes starting out in their careers, so this still throws me.  The champions are all met at the beginning of their grandest adventure.  Cassidy and Lloyd are introduced to each other at the same time the readers meet them.  Clyde will be met when he becomes the first Dawn Fang and kicks off that event.  Ichabod Brooks doesn’t fit with these characters because he’s not on an epic adventure and is older.  I don’t need to bother with him training or learning the ropes of adventuring.  It’s a little disorienting at times too because it means he keeps a cool head and can connect to a previous experience.  As much as I can have Ichabod be surprised, it isn’t the same as someone who is new to the life.

This mystery past of Ichabod is another thing that keeps me coming back to him for more adventures.  What I write about him now will reveal where he’s been.  It’s almost like two adventures in one, which I hope the readers feel at times too.

Learn more about this hero in THE LIFE & TIMES OF ICHABOD BROOKS!

Cover Art by Circecorp

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Swift Six Character Interview – Ser Colin

Library of Erana

Character Name: I am Ser Colin i’Nola, of the Order of the Morning

Which book/world do you live in? I was born and raised in the kingdom of Kholast, and I fight in the service of King Boris III. (In the novella, With a Broken Sword)

Tell us about yourself: I am the newest, and youngest, Knight of the Morning, which none of my fellows will let me forget. I squired for Ser Jane i’Julia for four years. First blooded at the Battle of Winter Creek. Knighted for valor at the Stone Hills Betrayal.

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Ser Jane would say my greatest weakness was “exuberance.” Usually, she meant impatience to prove myself.

As for my greatest strength, it feels boastful to answer such a question myself. If I must answer, then determination. Though I am the last knight between the Berledthi invaders and…

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Protecting Bedlam: How To Preserve Your Relics Part 1

Previously on the latest tale of Cassidy & Lloyd.

(If you want, buy their previous rampages for $2 by clicking on the covers below.)

Cover by Jon Hunsinger

Cover by Jon Hunsinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The world spins as Lloyd scrambles for his canteen, the cap feeling like it has been welded shut. Ignoring the twisting of his stomach and the desire to vomit, he gets the container open and gulps down every drop. His head continues to ache, so he crawls toward the jeep in the hopes of finding medicine. A belch nearly costs him the battle, the only thing saving him being a strong swallow to keep everything down. Reaching the vehicle, Lloyd stretches for the door with a quivering hand. With as tight a grip as he can muster, the serial killer yanks on the handle and finds that the jeep is locked. The man whimpers and slumps to the ground, his face falling into a pool of mud. He can only turn his head to the side and gasps for air, bits of muck dripping into his mouth and immediately getting spit out. A surge of pain roils in his stomach and he curls into a ball, his watering eyes searching for the person who poisoned him.

“For fucks sake, I didn’t screw up dinner that badly,” Cassidy says from the nearby campsite. Stirring the large cauldron, she takes a tiny taste and shudders at the powerful taste that hits her tongue. “One of the ingredients must have gone bad, but wasn’t stinking yet. That or I added too much cayenne pepper. The jalapenos and ghost peppers might have been over the top too. You never complained about me cooking spicy food before.”

“That shit isn’t food! It’s culinary napalm!” Lloyd cries from where he is sprawled on the ground. No longer able to hold back, he scrambles to the nearest bush to vomit and pray for relief. “Might as well bottle it and use it as a weapon. I’m seeing colors that no human has seen before. Oh god, my skin is either melting or trying to leap off my bones. Don’t even get me started on my teeth. Actually, I will bring them up. They hurt in a way that I didn’t think, teeth could hurt. My tongue might have dissolved since I can’t feel it. You’re lucky none of that went down the wrong pipe or my lungs would have exploded.”

“Big baby,” the mercenary mutters while settling for a granola bar. She tosses their last ice cream bar to her friend, who greedily tears the package open and devours the cold snack. “If you eat too fast, you’ll . . . Not on my baby! Do you know how hard it is to find a working water hose around here?”

Lloyd spits and coughs before crawling back to an abandoned lawn chair. “Easier than finding a replacement colon. Seriously, it can’t be that hard. Kentucky seems to have a few farms nearby and we saw a sprinkler when we went through a town. Almost feels like parts of this place didn’t get the memo about the collapse. Then again, we haven’t seen any people. Weird that we found an abandoned campsite too. Maybe there’s a mad killer in the woods and we’ll be his next victims.”

“You are the mad killer in the woods.”

“I don’t have a monopoly on the role, kid.”

“Uh, your eyes are blinking out of sync.”

“Sweet death, I welcome thee into my ample . . . high A or low B-cup bosom.”

“Something’s coming.”

“I know. I just called for sweet death. Pay attention.”

Hearing footsteps crashing through the nearby bushes, the pair go for their weapons and prepare for a fight. They relax at the sight of a seven-year-old child pushing her way out of the underbrush. Her crimson dress is torn and missing one sleeve, the exposed arm dotted with thorns. There are twigs sticking out of her sneakers, both of which are missing the fronts to show off her mud-caked socks. Seeing the strangers, she moves her long, black hair in front of her face instead of talking or trying to run away. The girl cries without making any noise, the only signs being her convulsing body and the drops falling to the ground. It is only when Lloyd abruptly lets out an echoing burp and rushes by the child to throw up in the bushes that she stops. Peeking out through her tresses, she watches the once scary man double over and make the strangest noises she has ever heard.

“Well, there is a nearby dot on our map,” Cassidy whispers to herself. Putting the weapon away, she approaches the girl and hands her a partially melted chocolate bar. “Sorry if it’s mushy, but I had to keep it in my back pocket. Otherwise, Lloyd would eat it when I wasn’t looking. What’s your name?”

“Mommy called me Eleri,” the girl timidly responds. She jumps at the sound of a footstep in the distance and darts behind Cassidy. “Please help me. The Lawmakers took me to clean their tubes. I got scared and ran away to find my family. They live in Radcliff and they miss me. I can lead the way. Hurry before growling lady shows up. Is that food?”

“That’s a war crime on the digestive system,” Lloyd announces while he goes in search of a drink. Finding two juice boxes, he claims one and gives the other to Eleri. “Maybe you can help us out with something first. We’re supposed to find a place connected to Johnathan Custer and kick it over like a sandcastle. I’d bet my superhero ring collection that our path heads to these Lawmakers. Why else would we run into you? I mean, coincidences and happenstance makes many a plot go ‘round.”

The girl remains behind Cassidy, but peeks out to smile at the serial killer. “I can do that, but you have to promise to take me home. Adults lie too much. I bring you to Fort Knox and then we leave. The Lawmakers are-”

Eleri screams when a snarling woman leaps out of the forest and lands a few feet in front of Cassidy. Drawing two curved blades, the stranger takes a step back while keeping an eye on the gun that is aimed at her face. What they previously mistook as the woman’s brown hair turns out to be a furry ruffle that mimics a lion’s mane. Her shirt is orange and black-striped, which clashes with her dark brown pants. Yellow paws have been painted on her combat boots, the designs having dribbled down the sides. Rising out of her crouch, the woman clears her throat and rolls her shoulders in an attempt to appear more majestic. Instead, her back crackles and she winces at a mild burst of pain that quickly subsides.

“Give that runaway slave to me,” she sternly demands, pointing her weapons at Cassidy and Lloyd. The woman grins at Eleri and licks her lips at the look of fear on the child’s face. “There is a lot of work for her to do. She can go home when the debt of her family is paid. You know the rules, child. All who stay in Kentucky must send a representative to work in Fort Knox or their entire clan shall be exiled. These are unbreakable rules like death for those who kick turtles and a fine for those who bring a knife to a gunfight. This situation doesn’t count since he has a knife too. So says The Lioness, great hunter and enforcer of the Lawmakers.”

“But the male lions are the ones with manes,” Lloyd mentions while he puts his machete down. He pulls out a smaller knife to juggle, the blade rusty from being used to cut fruit. “I feel obligated to point out that your entire outfit is wrong. You have five toes on the paw symbol, which is closer to a bear than a lion. One big pad and four little ones would be correct. That could be forgiven, but the tiger stripes are idiotic. Show some effort into your motif. Don’t just pick a cool name and screw up the visual.”

“I look terrible in tawny!” the woman shouts before tearing off her fake mane. Her stringy hair is a tangled mess, which she desperately tries to fix. “Names and appearances don’t matter here. Just give me the slave and be on your way. There’s no need for you to incur the wrath of the Lawmakers. Only God is above them.”

Cassidy groans and is about to shoot when a disappointing thought occurs to her. “As much as I’d love to put you down for terrorizing this child, we probably need you for information on Fort Knox. Be nice to know the defenses and any secret ways in. A person like you would know such things.”

“Uh, so would a slave who works there,” Lloyd interjects while pointing at Eleri. He pats the girl on the head when she sticks her tongue out at The Lioness. “Less chance of this one turning on us or giving these Lawmakers a warning. Especially since we have candy in the jeep, which sounds a lot creepier than I expected. You’d think that phrase would lose some of its cringe worthiness in a chaotic wasteland, but it actually feels worse. My real point here is that we don’t need two guides, so I vote for the one that can be won over with chocolate.”

The Lioness growls and is about to pounce when Cassidy fires her handgun and Lloyd throws his knife. Both projectiles hit the woman in the face, the impacts sending her stumbling back into the bushes. She trips over her own foot and falls, leaving only her twitching feet exposed. Not wanting to upset Eleri any further, Lloyd goes to drag the body into the forest while Cassidy hands the girl another candy bar. They patiently wait for the serial killer to return, but he can be heard groaning near the trees to their right. Realizing that he might be a while, the mercenary stretches out on the grass and tries to enjoy the stars in spite of the sounds of agony from her friend.

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Buster and Moo, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Entertaining Stories

Welcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and with me in the studio today is a beautiful Jack Russel, Stafforshire cross known alternately as Buster and Moo. “Welcome to the show, and how would you like me to refer to you?”

“Is it okay to lick you, Lisa? I kind of have this thing about holding out my paw all the time and shaking it. Then if you don’t give me a treat I’m probably going to slobber into the microphone. What was the question? Oh, my name. Currently Moo.”

“How did you come to have two different names? Is one an alias of some kind?”

“Ha! Two names? I’ve had, let me see? Six? Maybe seven. There was the one my mother gave me, the one the guy who brought my dad to meet mum that time – she said…

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Smorgasbord Guest Post – The Power of Positive Affirmations by Julie Lawford

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Julie Lawford continues the series of guest posts on health and weight loss through the summer with the benefits of positive affirmations. I found how useful this was at the start of my own weight loss journey. And it is interesting that Julie too was influenced by Anthony Robbins. David and I completed his Life Mastery series between 1996 and 1998.

In late 2001 a redundancy on top of a hideously damaging relationship caused me to stop and take stock of my life. Self-improvement guru Anthony Robbins was all over the place at the time and his book Awaken the Giant Within made a big impression on me. I invested hours in his audio programmes too – he’s a little OTT in places, but for me, it was a case of right concepts, right attitudes, right time.

As a direct result of the approach I learned and the self-improvement tools…

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It Takes a Village to Launch a Book…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

by, Joel Pitney  , on The Book Designer site:

Some of us are natural born networkers. You know the type . . . they never lunch alone, they seem to specialize in connecting people in ways that benefit both parties, they have no problem promoting themselves or their projects or ideas in ways that aren’t off-putting.

In my experience, most authors aren’t natural born networkers (if you’re an exception, my apologies). We tend to be more of the wallflower types, happy to write and create and let others do the talking and promoting.

But in this day and age, most authors can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and more and more is being demanded of us to actively promote our own work. In fact, when it comes to launching a book, networking—or learning how to best leverage your networks—is perhaps the single most important factor driving your success. As…

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The Friends and Allies of Ichabod Brooks

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In each story of The Life & Times of Ichabod Brooks, he has a friend, ally, or partner of some kind.  Well, almost each story because I can think of one or two that don’t really have a friend.  Traveling companion might work for one and another is a surprise for those that haven’t read the collection yet.  Actually, there’s a really short one that he’s solo on, so I’ve officially ruined my opening line.  Anyway, I wanted to highlight a few of them and maybe explain the relationship/partnership.

Dex Guzbern

This Dwarven mountaineer is one of my favorites because he just flowed out of my fingers as I wrote Ichabod Brooks & the Starwind Egg.  I wasn’t sure how he would come out, but he had this interesting combination of friendliness and gruffness.  He developed the same sarcasm as Ichabod, which quickly established them as best friends with a long history.  Oddly enough, he never really locked himself in as a fighter and seems more likely to hold his own.  Dwarves are naturally tough, so he depends on that and is more at home in a bar fight than a battlefield.  Hoping to give him a little more story time down the road.

Morgan

She probably should have come first since she was the sidekick in Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts.  She is a young monster hunter and a calico, which is a type of cat-person in Windemere.  Morgan looks human, but has ear tufts, a cat-like tail, retractable claws, and the natural agility of cats.  Also, a few of the cleaning habits.  I like using her because she’s both tough and takes on the role of Ichabod Brooks fangirl.  She can hold her own and he trusts her, but she still has a case of idol worship, which makes for some interesting interactions.  There’s a sense that she’s always trying to prove herself to him and occasionally emulating since she’s now sporting magical equipment.  Morgan is a character who might branch out from Ichabod and get something of her own.  The problem is that the only monster hunter story I have involves the main character being cursed by an unknown creature to share a body with a partner of the opposite gender.  I did consider having her and Ichabod’s grown up son being the two, who switch control when certain things happen.  Too much rambling?

Corso Felgrass and Pepper

Corso is the elf who trained Ichabod in archery and Pepper is a retired calico thief who went from enemy to friend.  I put these two together because they have a similar role in the stories that they appear in.  Like Dex, they have a history with Ichabod and help to flush that out.  The difference is that they aren’t active any more, so they take on a more casual relationship with him.  Almost like the two kind of show the life that Ichabod can achieve or wants to achieve.

Jet Orphanmaker

 I don’t want to reveal too much about Jet because he grew a lot in the story.  He’s more rival than friend, which made for fun exchanges.  In fact, the only reason I’m bringing him up is because I wanted to reveal his last name.  For the life of me, I couldn’t find a way to get that into the story.  Nobody was in a position to say it.

Tevy

This is a halfling priestess of Neberith the Healing Goddess and a woman who has a connection to Ichabod’s non-work life.  She’s a tough one to explain because she isn’t an adventurer.  More the person that Ichabod, and his wife, go to when they need to get patched up or have an undead problem.  There’s an almost sisterly relationship that they have, but it’s hard to tell who is in the role of older sibling.  I like writing her because she’s very blunt to her friends and kind to her patients.  It’s something that she can transition from in the middle of a conversation too, which was fun to write.

Meg Velringer

I have to be honest, I don’t know much about Meg’s past with Ichabod.  They know each other and have worked together.  She is a gnome inventor who specializes in the ocean, so she can’t come up too often.  I don’t think she has the same relationship with him that Dex does, so it’s more of a working connection than friendship.  This might change if I have her turn up again.  Right now, I don’t know if I have any more ocean adventures, but I’d like to do something.  Be interesting if her real connection is with his wife.

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