Tzalaran's favorite hangout, hence it is the name of my blog on the web. Here i'll talk about the writing of "Scales of the Assassin", working title of the start of Tzalaran's saga, and give background information on the world Tzal lives in.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A night with Finntroll, Blackguard, and Metsatoll

Some time ago, a buddy of mine introduced me to the house band at the Horned Devil.  He pulled up this, and my appreciation (read: crazy fandom) for Finntroll was born.  Found out that they were playing December 1st in Lawrence, KS, and was looking forward seeing them live.  so 7 of us set out on a four hour drive, and arrived for the second act, Metsatoll.  (apparently one of the other 2 bands that were supposed to open didn't show up, and the other completed their set before we got in the door).

i'd never heard Metsatoll before, but will be checking out their albums as the show was very entertaining.  Great blend of folk rhythms and chunky metal.  The bassist for Metsatoll is underrated, and the folk instrument specialist was worth seeing.  i particularly liked the different chants they used, and could definitely see them being performed at some of the other taverns in Karat-Si'Zan and Tillia.

BlackGuard was a mixed bag to our group.  Drummer is amazing, guitarists and bassist are good, but the majority of my friends that went didn't like the vocalist.  i have to concede the fact that he's a one trick pony, but he fits with the sound of the band well, and i've never seen a frontman with more energy and unabashed love of what he's doing.  if they come around my hometown, i won't hesitate to go hear them again, but won't be driving hours to do so.

Finntroll came on quickly (time for a smoke and restroom break and that was about it.  have to say that the road crew for these bands is highly efficient and gets things done with a swiftness).  The only disappointment for me was not seeing all 7 members on stage (one member, Trollhorn, doesn't tour at all, and we were told before the encore that Skrymer was unable to make it for legal reasons.  Skrymer is the artist for the band as well, and i was really looking forward to having him sign my Blodsvept inlay card as i love his work).  They also didn't play 'Aldhissla', which is my favorite Finntroll song.  Those are the only negatives.

The tapestry behind the stage was an expansion of some of the Blodsvept album art, and i commented how i'd love to have that hanging in my living room.  Starting with Blodsvept, first and title track of the recent album, i knew this was going to be everything i'd hoped for in the months waiting for the show.  i was supremely impressed by the performance, including the fill in guitarist.  They played all but two or three songs from Blodsvept, and played for well over 90 minutes (started around 10:15 and finished a little before midnight).  They played everything that my friends wanted to hear, and it was nice to hear a band that sounds no different live than on their albums.

Wish that there were more dates on the tour that i could go to.  show was that good.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Horned Devil Special, with picture

Here are the ingredients

in 17 to 20 oz glass
chunk of pineapple (or 2.  fresh cut is better than canned)
1-2 cherries
add ice
1 oz kraken (without this shot, the overall drink is significantly less potent.  drop this on subsequent drinks)
1 oz cherry UV
1/2 oz amaretto
1 oz lime twisted gin
1 oz torched cherry Bacardi

2-3 oz pineapple juice (If you like pineapple juice and it doesn't hurt your stomach, 3 oz.  Otherwise 2)
generous splash of grenadine
fill with squirt (i use diet, but don't really matter)

The result is a very tasty beverage, but best drank in moderation.  (If planning on drinking more than 1, i recommend leaving the kraken out of subsequent drinks. Kraken is what makes the drink dangerous, because you don't feel anything and then BOOM!  hit by a freight train...  enjoy )

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Drafting is going well.  i'm able to pick up and go, and the previous post's recipe for the Horned Devil special has contributed to some very productive butt in chair fingers at keyboard.  i've tweaked and edited the opening chapter, and i'm almost through the 2nd.  If i keep at the current pace, the draft could come in way larger than my expected 90k words.  maybe over a third more.

what i'm most pleased with is that this time my narrator is coming off much more like i envision.  Time will tell, as well as revisions, but i'm fairly pleased with the dialog that has come up during the second chapter.  i'm hoping that i've crested a hill in the writing learning curve, but i'm sure another hill comes over the horizon eventually.

(On a personal note, for the first time in the ten years i've worked on this project, my wife liked my draft...  progress, as she is a voracious reader.  My youngest son takes after her, and he liked it too)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

SotF progress & a treat: the Horned Devil special

i've gotten the first chapter (out of 13) drafted to the point i'm happy.  i've always felt i was an adequate storyteller, but my writing skills were not up to par.  With this, i feel that i've done my best work to date, and tonight feels good.  The rest is plotted out and some drafted.  i'm ready to move forward and think i've found the angle i was working for.

It has been 10 years since i first started working on this project, and it has been a brutal but enlightening learning curve.   writing is one of the very rare pursuits where the blood, sweat, and tears is all validated in an instant when you revise the rough draft and realize that you need some polish and clarity, but the essence of what you envision is there.

For the first time my wife was excited when reading, and i was not overly criticized (one of her suggestions, on the first sentence i might add, did have to take place and made the opening much stronger...  prodigious readers anyway...)

and for the treat after my rambling...

The Horned Devil Special has been minted, tested, and approved.  For those who may be interested in the recipe, here it is.

in a 17 or 20 oz glass filled with ice
1 oz Kraken spiced rum
1 oz Torched cherry baccardi rum (substitute clear rum)
1 oz Cherry UV vodke (any vodka)
1 oz Seagrams lime twisted gin (substitute regular gin)
1/2 oz ameretto

3 oz pineapple juice
2-4 pineapple chunks
2-4 cherries
splash of grenadine
top off with diet squirt (that is what i use, but regular squirt, 7 up, sprite should all work.  limeade is a tasty option imo as well...)

stir well.

Inspired by the Long Island Iced Tea, this is a better tasting, and more potent alternative (Kraken is 94 proof, and is the addition to the rum, vodka, gin core of the long island, amaretto for triple sec is win to me).

enjoy!  From the happy staff at the Horned Devil, to you!
Feel free to use the recipe, just be respectful enough to give credit please.  Thanks!