Aug 21 2015

My #WEPFF Spectacular Settings hosted by @DeniseCCovey and @YolandaRenee Entry #fantasy writing

#WEPFF Spectacular Settings hosted by @DeniseCCovey and @YolandaRenee

The first task is to share a setting that stopped my heart. This song feels like a poem set to music, and is partly about a setting:
Purple Haze lyrics by

Your Backyard album can be found at

This speaks to me because it is so vivid. I feel like I’m there, in Australia, seeing what he sees.

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The second task option is to share a scene under 1,000 words long from your current WIP.

THIS IS A DRAFT VERSION, NOT A FINAL EDIT. It is from The Dagger in the Darkrise, which is a dark, high fantasy for adults. This scene takes place near the end of the novel.

Alison leaned against the defensive wall that marked the border to her homeland. The first rays of morning light reflected off the glossier armor that covered the huge stones. A dragon roared in the distance. Her patron dragon. She took a deep breath, fooling herself into believing that she could pick up her dad’s scent. His silvery-white armor, fastened to its permanent home here on Zenika’s Bulwark, was her last connection to a stable life.

Eighty-eight suits of dragon scale armor lined this exterior part of the wall. The Fallen Generals Last Stand was what they called this section. One day her armor would be here as well. Alison ran her fingers to the only other black suit ever worn. It sucked in the light, taking it hostage without the possibility of escape, just like hers did. Touching the dark armor on the wall caused her stomach to knot and ears to ring.

“Neither of us belongs here,” she said to the suit. “We’re like the bugs that eat dead flesh. Was that how you felt, I wonder, when the armor of Darkstar was given to you? Vital to survival, but cringed at when discussed.”

“I don’t cringe.”

Alison drew her sword. She spun in a slow, tight circle, searching the area. As she returned to face the black armor, Drake’s head appeared. His calming scent of pine and moss toyed with her nose.

Those eyes, two solid black jewels, two mysterious enigmas, intoxicated her. She took his hand as he stepped out of the darkness. “Where did you, how did you?” She looked past him to the armor.

“My dear Alison, I move through spaces you cannot even conceive of,” Drake said. His light green fingers ran through her golden hair.

“That’s how you’ve been sneaking in, isn’t it? This is your entrance, this suit of armor.”

He gave a gentle laugh. “One mystery solved, a million to go. Yes, Darkstar’s scales create a sort of doorway, and my magic is a like a key.” Drake walked her toward his forest.

The untamed mass of greens invited the couple. Drips from an unrecorded drizzle cleansed them of the harshness they so recently endured. Here in this refreshing land of ancient trees, peaceful beasts, and sprawling plants and flowers lived secrets unknown to any human. Alison removed her smoky-crystal visor. This was the only outside place she knew of where her impaired eyes were protected flawlessly by the dense shade.

A tree with a trunk too large to see around rose to the center of the canopy. Leaves flourished not only on branches but on the trunk itself, disguising its base as a treacherous bush of poison. Animals and insects alike avoided this area. The light, even as filtered as it was, took on a sinister shimmering quality. Alison touched the edge of one leaf. She let out a small gasp. The leaf reddened, absorbing drops of her blood from the tiny cut it inflicted.

“Now you see why I left the door open last time.” Drake pulled her fingers to his lush, dark green lips and kissed the tiny wound. “That’s a beautiful color on your cheeks. I hope to see it more often.”

She nibbled on her lower lip as she turned her head. The tip of her boot made a semi-circle dent in the forest floor. His finger slid under her chin but did not force it up. He waited, as patient as the trees that surrounded them, for her to meet his gaze.

“Are you going to invite me inside, or will we stay out here being dripped on forever?” She wrinkled her nose. He laughed. The sound blended with the music of the forest as if he were part bird, part beast, and part rustling leaf in a breeze.

“I gave you a key. Was that not invitation enough?” He motioned to the trinket she wore. “Ah, you still can’t see the door, can you?”

His finger danced along her skin like a bee seeking pollen. There was a small sting just above her left ear. She winced, though it was almost unperceivable. He told her to blink a few times. Once she had, the whole forest shifted.

Nothing had actually changed, she assumed. But now, where before she saw only green, there was a rainbow of colors, some she couldn’t even name. An energetic indigo outline stimulated her vision and filled her with a desire to draw nearer. It hummed as she did so.

“Color that makes sound?” Alison asked.

“It gets better,” Drake replied, pressing her trinket into her hand.

She eased the tiny treasure toward the enchanting color. The smell of baked bread and her favorite eel stew wafted around her. As she inhaled, the scent changed. It was pine and moss. No, there was more. It was him. She gave him a sidelong glance.
“Will you tell me one day what you smell when unlocking my door?”

“Don’t you know?”

He laughed and shrugged. “For the longest time, I couldn’t identify it. Then I met you.” His arm wrapped around her waist. He nuzzled her hair and sniffed. “As it unlocks it gives off whatever scent the opener finds most pleasing.”

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I hope you enjoyed my selection. I find the portions of the defensive wall that are improved by armor and the forest Drake lives in to be my favorite areas in the setting. This scene happens to have both. General feedback is welcome. This is just the draft version, as I said. But I always welcome thoughts to help the story improve.

We should make a social connection.

@JLenniDorner on Twitter WhatAreThey on Facebook pages Author J Lenni Dorner on G+ JLenniDorner on Pinterest Author page of J Lenni Dorner on Amazon friend J Lenni Dorner on Goodreads 

The current Smashwords coupon code for Preparing to Write Settings That Feel Like Characters is: KU89T


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  1. Hello J Lenni. I’m so glad you posted for WEP. Welcome!

    Of course I see this was cheating. I just followed you everywhere I could, including Goodreads as I’m also doing the Reading challenge. There I saw you’ve written a book on setting and character. I want to read it now.

    With your first share you took me down south (I live in Queensland) to the Blue Mountains of NSW where I had visions of ‘purple haze’ and ‘skyline pink and grey’ mirroring the colour of the galahs. Thank you. I can see why you love it so!

    Your story extract took me to a world ‘peopled’ with dragons and a kick-butt Alison. Your story enchanted me with the dragon scales, with the hint of romance…’ His finger danced along her skin like a bee seeking pollen’, then the sting. What’s going to happen next? We all want to know.

    Thank you for sharing with us. I hope you enjoy the experience and make lots of new bloggie friends. I can’t figure out how I haven’t met you considering I follow most of your regular commenters in your sidebar.

    Still, I’m glad you signed up! Your entry certainly fulfilled the brief. You didn’t say what critique level you wanted, so I left general impressions only.

    Denise 🙂
    Denise Covey has this post to share Spectacular Settings: WEP challenge – Part A – Pat Conroy. Part B – My flash fiction, The Child. #wepffMy Profile
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    1. That’s so funny that we share the same circle of friends and haven’t met before. That’s what I love about blog hops– you get to come together with people. It’s all “six strings of Kevin Bacon.”
      I tossed in the code at the end of this post for my settings book. I hope you do get to read it. A tiny little niche which I happen to know well.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt. I look forward to publishing the novel.

  2. J Lenni:

    Love that you choose a song and the poetry behind it as your Spectacular Setting. I have Australia on my places to visit, and this did speak to a vison of mountains that always inspire.

    The Dagger in the Darkrise felt magical. I could see the dragon scale armor, and the untamed forest Drake led Alison to, but so many questions come to mind. Who is Alison? Who is Drake, with his dark eyes and green skin, and magical touch? A romance that bubbles and entices, and last but not least, Dragons!

    This is a wonderful introduction to your dark fantasy novel, very evocative, and splendidly written, I can’t wait to read more.

    Thanks for joining the WEP Spectacular Settings Challenge, this is a first rate contribution, and I hope you’ll be back in October for the Halloween challenge!
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    1. Thank you so much. I’m glad I was able to intrigue you. Throwing in a scene from the resolution of a book is always a dangerous gamble, but I think it works well here. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I can’t wait to be able to share more.

  3. Purple Haze sang to me. Here in Oz’s capital I have often commented that our dawns are galah coloured. Thank you.
    And dragons!!! Mysterious, magical, wonderful. I would really, really love to read more.
    Elephant’s Child has this post to share WEP Challenge – Spectacular SettingsMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much. I look forward to being able to share more of the story with you. At the moment, this link to my query is the best I can offer up. I’m hoping to have the book out in a year from now.

  4. I love your fragment. Dragons and magic steeped in mystery, it must be a fascinating book.

    1. Thank you so much. I hope you’ll read it one day. (Probably another year from now.)

    • Trisha on August 22, 2015 at 8:34 AM

    I’ve never heard of that song / artist, and I am Australian. I spent some of my earliest years living in the Blue Mountains – Katoomba to be precise. I now live on the west coast but I have happy memories of living in the mountains. We actually got snow up there!
    Trisha has this post to share Write … Edit … Publish ~ SPECTACULAR SETTINGSMy Profile
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    1. Really? Wow. They are in the Rock and Roll hall of fame. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Guilie on August 22, 2015 at 1:44 PM

    Great pick for the third-party setting, J Lenni! You’re the first I visit that’s done a song for that — and it’s an awesome song, an awesome setting, and very nifty description of said setting. Loved it.

    I enjoyed your piece; even though, as you say, it’s a rough draft, the setting and the characters come through cleanly. I liked how Drake gives Alison the power to see beyond the green; we’ve all met people like that, haven’t we, who open our eyes to more, who not just change but deepen our perspective. And yes, maybe “nothing has actually changed”, but the world will never be the same.
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter
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    1. Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

  5. Loved the poem. I had a little difficulty orienting myself in this scene because I’m missing some pieces about the characters and the fantasy.

    1. Yes. Hard to pick up on a story at the end.

  6. Loved the song at the start. Your flash is riveting with its magical setting and characters.
    Nilanjana Bose has this post to share Write…Edit…Publish…August 2015 : Spectacular SettingsMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much.

  7. Enjoyed your tale. I loved that poem. Really magical.
    RasmaSandra has this post to share Early Morning RainMy Profile
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    1. Thank you.

  8. Great lyrics! I especially like the repetition of the words “Purple haze on the Blue Mountains”…

    I enjoyed your snippet.
    Synesthetic magic properties? To me, that’s super-high fantasy. (I don’t know much about fantasy…)
    Michelle Wallace has this post to share Write… Edit… Publish: Spectacular Settings – August 2015My Profile
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    1. Thanks so much. I’m glad you enjoyed.

  9. So many intriguing elements–I could’ve read the entire book based on that excerpt alone. Fantastical settings are right up my alley, and this one pulled me in!

    The Weight of Wonder
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    1. Thank you so much!

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