Saturday, January 26, 2013

Temple of the Life-Giver excerpt

An excerpt from my story "Temple of the Life-Giver":

Frank shouted, “I said settle down!” He studied their faces in the torchlight. “Now, the one thing we’re not going to do is panic. You got me? Any man loses it, and I’ll kill him myself.” He pulled out his knife and swiped the air a few times, for good measure.

They stared back at him, but remained silent.

He continued, “Now, we can’t get back out the way we came in. So, we find another way. Meanwhile, we keep looking for the treasure. No sense in wasting time or what may be our limited supply of air. Although, I just have to believe that there is some ventilation built into this place.” He moved down the darkened hall, and then reached up with the torch in his hand. When he pulled it away, a growing light remained. Frank explained, “This place is too dark to conduct a proper ritual. So there are lamps installed all along the halls. Spread out and let’s shed a little light on the subject.”

Reluctantly they moved about, lighting lamps until the surrounding area began to glow with reflected radiance. There was enough light to see by, but the temple still had a gloomy appearance.

Jesse whispered to his brother, “How long do you think the oil will last?”

Frank replied, “Long enough, I hope.”
My story "Temple of the Life-Giver" has been accepted for the Grave Robbers anthology edited by James Ward Kirk.

"Temple of the Life-Giver"  is about a quest for ancient treasure, and the inevitable perils of greed.

Setting the pace

A story is not a race, although it can seem like you are desperately struggling to get to the end. Nor is it a leisurely stroll, stopping to sniff every flower along the way. You must keep the reader engaged, and that requires good pacing.

Pacing is like the tempo in music: sometimes you move faster and other times slower. The story itself will determine this, and you must write accordingly. A fast pace will wear you out, so I usually reserve it for a shorter work, which is by its nature more of a sprint than a run. Move too slow, and it becomes frustrating, like walking through water that is up to your chest. Every step is a labor.

In longer works, the pace will vary: sometimes it will move slower and then pick up suddenly. This is akin to long distance running. If you move too fast, you will exhaust yourself and not be able to finish. If you move too slow, you will lose the race. In writing, you determine the ebb and flow of the story, moving swiftly without being in a rush.

But just as in a race, once the finish line is near, the story speeds up to the climax. It takes a lot of energy to get there, and you pour it all out to give the reader a satisfying finish. Afterwards, the story goes on just long enough for your breathing to return to normal. You soak it in, like a bottle of cool water, knowing the thrill of accomplishment, having given your all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Thing in the Shadows excerpt

An excerpt from my story "The Thing in the Shadows":

Something struck him in the arm and his weapon tumbled to the floor, rolling out of his grasp.

The soft tones demanded, “Show me where she is.”

Trayson strained to see where his cudgel lay. He could leap for it, but the goblin would be on him before he could react. For a goblin, it was. The portrait in his mind’s eye was not utterly false. The voice had been so like hers. And no other creature could so deftly evade detection. Things became clear to him. The last few nights he had merely been observed. The goblin was watching him, to find out where she was. Somehow, it knew. Perhaps, it had tracked her; for these creatures had a widespread reputation for such. It was believed they could follow any trail, no matter how slight; and regardless of any attempt to conceal it. But he had not obscured the path. She would have suspected, then. And he had not expected her to be missed. After all, she was a goblin. He smirked, and then replied, “I could show you. But you would not like what you see.”
Cover art for my story "The Thing in the Shadows."

In the vein of Edgar Allan Poe, it is a tale of monstrous vengeance with a touch of the fantastic made real.

Cover art by Jeffrey Kosh.

Ideas: the vagaries of my muse

Ideas come and go, and sometimes they do not come back. We commonly refer to this as 'writer's block.' Often, the well has not run completely dry, but we are still thirsty for inspiration.

I find this phenomenon occurs to a certain extent when I finish a work of any appreciable length. I have poured myself out: I am exhausted. I must wait to renew my strength. Even if I want to write something, I lack the energy.

This is not a time to be lazy, but rather to rest. Instead, I indulge in the works of others: literature is fertile ground for the imagination. When I finish reading a story, and my enjoyment is high, I do not take in hand to write. Just like a good meal, a fine tale takes time to digest.

I will immerse myself in all manner of media: books, movies, television, poetry, etc. I rarely get ideas from these things directly. Rather, they give birth to my own creative notions. If I like a story, I have no desire to tell it again: I enjoy what they did.

During this time, my own ideas are growing and will soon bear fruit. This is not to say that I will come up with something new. In the thousands of years that people have been writing, it would be hubris to think that I could imagine something that has not already been entertained in the mind of another. The raw materials are the same, but it is how you prepare them, mix them, cook and serve them that provides the true culinary experience.

My ideas have been nurtured and will mature on their own. Often, I will take a stroll through my mental garden to seek out anything that is ripe for harvest. When the time is right, I will not need to tear the fruit from the vine: it will come off easily and fall into my hand. And then I smile, for I have some cooking to do...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vengeance and Valor excerpt

An excerpt from my ebook "Vengeance and Valor":

Vorim swore under his breath, staring towards the mouth of the cave. Out there, the enemy waited, the fading light of day illuminating slanted green eyes peering back at him. Up until recently, Vorim had never been the prey for such as these: dark elves. They were olive-skinned, but without the regal poise and stature of the larger ones. These were diminutive and scrawny in comparison. But their reduced size lent them nimbleness and their disposition provided a cold determination. Though male, they were almost pretty, like the little nymphs whose form and grace had so enthralled the hearts of men. And there was murder in their eyes.
The cover for my ebook "Vengeance and Valor" now available on

"Vengeance and Valor" by Donald White is a gritty tale of battle between elf and man, in which the bravery is uncommon and the heroes unexpected. Seven men await their fate in the depths of a cave. Slanted green eyes menace them from outer darkness. The stage is set for a final confrontation. Who will stand and who will fall?

Cover art by William Cook

Plotting and scheming

Writing a story requires a strategy. First you must decide what the story is about. I usually have a basic idea and then I set about the task of creating characters. After all, it is their story.

Since I know them as people, I am aware of what they will do in a given situation. Thus, it requires only a simple scenario and the tale launches itself! A framework develops, based on the characters' decisions. And everything gets deeper.

The friction that is born serves to move the story along. Especially, when the villain makes their move. Choices are made and consequences ensue. The work builds toward a climax.

It is always difficult to decide what to reveal and what to withhold. But it is my preference to let things come out naturally. I do not determine what my characters will say: I let them speak for themselves. Likewise, I leave them to their own thoughts and feelings.

Will they do things that I would not? Yes. Will they take liberties with my idea? Yes. And the tale moves in new and unexpected directions. It is up to me to adapt to the potent mix of personalities: I bring order to chaos.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Face in the Mirror excerpt

An excerpt from my ebook "The Face in the Mirror":

David grew still, feeling a chill. You saw something, man. You know you did. He doubted, I didn't see anything.

From right beside him, a light, feminine voice spoke. "David? David?"

He turned, but there was no one there.

The voice spoke again. "David? Daaavid?"

Her tone was soft and sweet, but it sent shivers up his spine. David could feel someone staring at him… but from where? He trembled: the mirror.

"Daaavid? Please look at me, David."

He didn't want to. Every fiber in his being, told him not to. This isn't real, man. You're just having a bad dream. But slowly, he turned his head to the side, and looked into the mirror. Even in the darkness of the room, he could make out the face of a woman in the reflection behind him!
The cover for my ebook "The Face in the Mirror." Now available on

From the author of the international sensation "Lady Killer" comes "The Face in the Mirror": a short story of a ghostly seduction which drives a man to madness. David is a struggling writer, struggling to write erotica. But in the darkness of his room one night, a vision of beauty appears behind him in the mirror. Her name is Melanie and with her appearance comes a series of changes in David's life. But who is she? And why can she only be seen in the mirror? Is she a lover, or a dangerous apparition? Stare into the glass, and you will see the truth standing right behind you.

Cover Art by Agustin Loya

Characters: The life's blood of a story

Stories are about people. I cannot imagine a story with no people in it. They are the life's blood of a work. If you like the people, you will be interested in what happens to them. If you don't, then you won't.

You do not always have to agree with a character to like them. That is where villains come in: those people with fatal flaws which provide dissonance to the assonance of the heroes. And just as in music, the story flows from the interaction of these elements. For there must be a resolution.

If the ending is predictable, it feels as if you are listening to a song that sounds like so many others. Then, there are the resolutions which are not satisfying. And they are like musical arrangements that leave much to be desired. But a good ending, is like the song that you cannot help but hear over and over again in your head.

Just as music can be flat and uninspiring, so characters can be shallow and undeveloped. The best characters are those you come to know as people: they think and move and feel. They will not always agree with the author. Rather, they will have their own opinions.

These unruly creations give life to the work. For they draw attention to themselves: some providing the melody, while others the harmony of the tale. And when they are finished, you sit back and let out a contented sigh. For you have just experienced a true symphony of dark and light; of death and life. And the mighty crescendo stays with you for days, as the song of your soul.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lady Killer excerpt

An excerpt from my ebook "Lady Killer":

The first thing he noticed was her neck. It was the first thing Rick Smith ever saw. Her name was Lisa Montgomery and she was the next victim. He scowled, because the sweater she wore partly obscured the object of his attention. So, he contented himself with observing the underside of her chin, and how it proceeded down to her throat. “Hello, Lisa.”
The cover for my ebook "Lady Killer" available on

The short story "Lady Killer" by Donald White is a tale of foul murder frustrated by forces beyond the mortal ken. Rick Smith is a killer, who has chosen his next victim: Lisa Montgomery. But all is not as it seems, and Rick will soon learn the insatiable appetite of a true predator.

Cover art by William Cook

Words: The tools of the trade

My father indulged in what he termed to be "wood playing." This is because it was not "work" to him: it was his time to relax, and construct beautiful things. He would spend hours out there in his shop, creating wooden works of art. And he always made sure to have the right materials and tools to work with.

To follow his example, I would describe what I do as "playing with words." This is not to say that writing is not work. It is a LOT of work, and the outcome is never certain. However, it is an accomplishment, and provides a thrill that cannot be surpassed.

Words are rarely beautiful by themselves. They are tools used to construct sentences, which in turn are used to build paragraphs. A story is technically a collection of paragraphs designed for a specific purpose. But it is the care with which the words are arranged, and the energy behind them that makes the magic.

In your mind, a story starts out as a base concept, not unlike a piece of wood. The choice of words serve to mold and shape the idea. You trim off the excess and sand the story down to make it smooth and appealing. Sometimes you paint it with italics and underlines or the skillful use of punctuation. But it is the workmanship which gives the tale its luster and transforms a simple idea into a work of art.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Of life and death and everything in between

I write. It is my deepest passion. In writing, I can express my innermost desires, give voice to my fears and journey to worlds that only exist within.

Writers weave with all the colors of the rainbow. Some of the images are dark and ghastly, while others can be almost cheerful. But make no mistake about it, writers have visions and then write about them.

Often your muse will tantalize with an image that is hard to put into words. Yet, the writer will look deeper, pursuing its prey until all is fully rendered. There is a glorious madness in the sublime imagery of words. And that is what I bring to page after page, until the image moves and breathes. And then it speaks, not just for me; but for the multitudes just waiting for a song.