The Curse of Lucia’s Opal

Jowsey in Dragons in the Dungeon is shocked when Etain, a women he is travelling with, starts picking the pockets of a dead man. He stops her and tells her it’s against the code. That she will be cursed: You’ll ignite the fire within Lucia’s Opal and kill us all.

Why the opal? Because the opal has a history of being bad luck. While it is the Queen of Gems, it’s also known as the Stone of Tears and Widow Maker. Only those born in October are safe to wear it and only if they buy it. If it is given as a gift, it spreads bad luck. If you’re ever gifted an opal, give something in trade, either money, a favour or an object, so it’s not a gift.

If an engagement ring holds an opal, the new bride will become a widow sooner rather than later. In the presence of poison, opals turn pale and lose their shine. This also happens when their owner dies, and that’s why they’re called Stone of Tears. Throughout the centuries, opals have been blamed for famine, the fall of monarchies, pestilence and the Black Plague.

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Fantasy Friday Night Write-a-thon

A lifetime ago, I gathered with friends on Friday nights at the Boys and Girls Club in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, and sat before an excellent Dungeon Master. He was a wiry fellow, tall and lanky. Throw a cloak on him and he’d have made the perfect wizard. From 1979 to about 1987, he took us on adventures with the roll-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.

We often went on certain adventures in real life inspired by the game, and we all returned safe and sound if not a little muddy and bruised. After all, I lived surrounded by forest and when we went to our camp, which we did often enough, I went deeper into the woods, where bats filled the night sky, fairies hid in bushes and the marshmallow man lurked.

In honour of those nights of D&D, each Friday I’m hold a write-a-thon and staying up until at least midnight, tea in hand, to write. Last Friday, I shut things down just before one o’clock because we had a wicked thunder and lightning storm.

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Description for “Dragons in the Dungeon”

I wrote a description for Dragons in the Dungeon. It’s a little off the cuff. Not my usual description for a book, but this is how I’m writing the book. I want it to be fun, not typical and hopefully make you smile.

The description will probably change a hundred times before the book is published, but here it is.

Dragons in the Dungeon

Goats have proven the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence even if it is barren ground and they stand in lush pasture. Humans have a similar mentality. So it is no surprise when Ryan McCormac, long-time player of Dungeons and Dragons, stumbles upon a spell that transports him into a campaign, where he believes life will be better.

Any guesses on how it turns out? You’re right. He discovers life is no better in the fantasy realm. Sure, the ex-girlfriend isn’t there but neither are the friends he gamed with every Friday night. He quickly learns this world is actually horrible. Every day he fears for his life. The people are soulless, the landscape colourless and the magic nowhere to be found. The only way home is to find another like him and sacrifice them.

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Familiar Sayings From Home

Have you ever been far from home, swimming in a sea of people you have little in common with? Then, out of the blue, you hear someone say something so familiar, your head turns. It might be a familiar accent, the same as yours, or it might be a saying from your hometown.

This is how Cormac, one of the main characters in Dragons in the Dungeon, finds Nimble, who is a prisoner in the dungeon he is thrown into.


Cursing the guards, Cormac yelled at them, “Take a long walk on a short drawbridge!”

Nimble turned to him and said, “Pier.”

He glared at her, the fire of the fight still blazing in his eyes. Giving her the once over, the fire dwindled. “What?”

“Isn’t it pier? Long walk on a short pier?”

His expression grew curious. “Yeah. But…” He considered her for longer than she’d have liked, then spoke in a calm voice. “Where’d you hear that?”

Cormac questions her further. He’s desperate to find someone from his world without letting the other prisoners know where he’s from.

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“Dragons in the Dungeon” takes place in what era?

To listen to this blog post recorded by Anchor, click here. If you want to hear it on Spotify, click here. No, this is not my voice, but he reads very well. I hope to be set up to record my own voice next week.

Prefer to read? Here it is…

The original Dungeons and Dragons game was released in 1974 as a box set of three booklets. The creators were a circle of midwestern mages named Gary Gygax, Jeff Perren and Dave Arneson. The basic set arrived on the scene in 1977. This was probably around the time my Dungeon Master discovered the game. The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons – Dungeon Masters Guide by Gygax was published in 1979.

I’ve had this book for more than 40 years.

I didn’t start playing until 1979, which means most of my experiences took place in the 1980s.

I’ve decided that’s where this fantasy novel takes place. At least when this world is referenced. The fantasy land where the adventure happens is squarely set in some archaic time similar to mediaeval times. That means horses, outhouses, dirt roads, castles, swords, daggers and wagons, and no jeans or cowboy hats.

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The title of my fantasy novel is…

Prefer to listen to this podcast?

No problem. I’m giving Anchor and Spotify a whirl.

To listen to this blog post recorded by Anchor, click here. If you want to hear it on Spotify, click here. Let me know what you think about it. No, this is not my voice, but he reads very well. I hope to be set up to record my own voice next week.

Prefer to read? Here it is…

Confession Time: I didn’t think hard about the title of my upcoming fantasy novel. One might say it landed in my brain and sat there while a story took shape. It started with a character whose name I had yet to hear. He was thrown into a dungeon rather roughly by the guards. Of course, he cursed at them. What else was a fellow to do?

A voice spoke behind him, and he turned to see a woman sitting on the stone floor wearing only a thin dress. Her matted hair hung in front of her face. I didn’t know who she was or why she was there. I knew only that he’d rescue her when he escaped.

For about three weeks, mumblings came and went in my head. Then one night, I saw the woman in my dreams. She was reaching for the steel handle of a door at a modern-day shop. The door wouldn’t open, and then I knew from where she came.

I feared the story would soon leave me and find someone else to write it, so I began. With the title. It was perfect. It spoke of the game I played in the 1980s, the game this story is based on: Dungeons and Dragons.

The title of the stand-alone fantasy novel I’m writing is…

Dragons in the Dungeon.

Currently, I have 37,559 words written.

LAUNCH DATE: Thursday March 23, 2023.

Publishing Deadline for New Fantasy Novel

Prefer to listen to this podcast?

No problem. I’m giving Anchor and Spotify a whirl.

To listen to this blog post recorded by Anchor, click here. If you want to hear it on Spotify, click here. Let me know what you think about it. No, that is not my voice, but he reads very well.

Prefer to read? Here it is…

Before I go any further writing this fantasy novel, I’ve set myself a deadline. I love deadlines. They commit me. They inspire me. They light a fire under me. I hate missing them, and I’ll do whatever I can to keep them.

On a scrap piece of paper, I scribbled down realistic deadlines for the process of getting this fantasy novel launched. I discussed it with my publishing team, and they are on board. My goal is to have the first draft completed by July 19, 2022. I’ll complete the revisions over summer and get it to the editor by September 15th. The Advanced Reading Copies will go out in November. In January, the book will go out to reviewers. That leaves two months until…

LAUNCH DATE: Thursday March 23, 2023.

Currently, I have 35,264 words written for the fantasy novel that will receive a title soon.

What inspired my latest story?

Prefer to listen to this post?

No problem. I’m giving Anchor and Spotify a whirl.

To listen to this blog post recorded by Anchor, click here. If you want to hear it on Spotify, click here. Let me know what you think about it. No, that is not my voice, but he does read very well.

Prefer to read? Here it is…

Inspiration for stories comes from every direction for me. The inspiration for the current fantasy novel I’m writing came from having discussions with others, who, like me, played the original Dungeons and Dragons roll-playing game in the early 1980s. Instead of roaming the streets of our community and possibly getting into trouble on a Friday night when I was a teenager, I gathered with friends at our Boys and Girls Club. There, the director Peter Mortimer played Dungeon Master and sent us on quests and adventures.

From the age of 13 until about 18 or 19, we played every Friday night. Friendships were formed, skills were mastered and we walked away better for the experience.

While my first fantasy novel Shadows in the Stone was inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, it’s firmly set in a fantasy world of its own. The story I’m currently writing straddles both: this world and the fantasy world. It’s something I’ve always thought about doing but never did.

I want to have a blast writing it, and I’m going to share this journey with you. If you’ve ever played Dungeons and Dragons, I hope these posts and the eventual novel rekindles fond memories.

Currently, I have 33,079 words written for my current fantasy novel that will receive a title shortly.

Writing 750 Words a Day Inspires

There have been spans over the past 25 years when I’ve not written a thing. They usually don’t last long. A month or two. For some reason, I lack the inspiration to write. It has nothing to do with the story. It has more to do with the energy surrounding me.

One way I boot that negative energy out of my life is by forcing myself to write 750 words a day regardless of the story. That’s not words for a blog post or an email. That’s of a story. Period. I can’t sink into a blog post like I can a story. There’s always solid ground to find. With a story, however, once I wade far enough into the quicksand, I’m captured, and I can’t escape. That leaves me inspired to write, and I easily reach 750 words, often more.

That’s how I’m feeling right now. While I’ve written a lot of words between January 1st and May, most were not in story form. That changed May 7th when I wrote the first few words to a new novel.

What is this novel about? Adventure. Quests. Magic. Friends. Dragons.

I’ll leave it there. I’ll share more in my next post. Right now, I’ve got to get back to the story. There’s only 31,436 words written, and I’m aiming for 100,000.

To listen to this recorded by Anchor, click here. If you want to hear it on Spotify, click here. This is something new I’m trying. Let me know what you think about it. No, that is not my voice, but he does read very well.

Dungeons and Dragons Inspired “Shadows in the Stone”

My love for fantasy started when I was a child. I had always loved magical things, fairies and worlds of wonder. While I may not have understood this when I was really young, by the time I was 13 years old, I knew I wanted to learn more and if I could, experience some of the magic.

My path to better understanding magical worlds began at that age because I started playing a role-playing game called Dungeons and Dragons. A leader in our neighbourhood had played and became our dungeon master. He was perfect for the role.

Stumbling my way through my first campaigns, I learned about different races (human, dwarf, elf, hauflin [halfling in this game] ) and their attributes and shortcomings. I learned about casting spells, magical items and magic in general. At first, I read the dungeon master’s copy of Dungeon Masters Guide, then I bought my own to keep as a reference and so I could read it at home. I studied this book and what went into this game as much if not more than the subjects at school. In fact, I recall one day when our dungeon master walked into the Lounge of the Boys and Girls club, found me and few other members studying his books, and said, “If you guys put this much effort into studying for school, you’d all get 100s.”

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