"The Missing Alchemist" by Caldric Blackwell is a wonderful middle-grade book about an adventure to save Cornelius, the town alchemist [...] The characters, plot, dialogue, and creative elements in the scenes make for a really enjoyable foray into the magical world of Harpsworth and beyond...Looking forward to book 2 in this series that is definitely appropriate for middle-grade students, but also appeals to individuals of all ages who enjoy a good dip into a fantasy world." - Goodreads
Publication date: January 20th, 2015
Having grown up in an orphanage, Craig Pike appreciates his comfortable life as a student of Cornelius, a famous alchemist. But when Cornelius is kidnapped, Craig leaves comfort behind to search for him. Craig teams up with Audrey Clife, a clever archer, and together they travel across mysterious lands and battle otherworldly creatures. Their journey reveals that Cornelius's kidnapping is only a small part of an evil alchemist's elaborate grab for power, and the only people standing in his way are Craig and Audrey...
The Value of the Short Story for Writers
Sometime during elementary school most of us were introduced to the short story. By the time high school rolled around, we were poring through truncated yarns like editors at a 19th century monthly magazine. In our worn, hardback anthologies, laden with pencil graffiti reminiscent of the bathroom stall’s, we’d analyze “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” “The Most Dangerous Game,” and “The Cask of Amontillado.”
Given this level of indoctrination, it’s surprising that few adults can name a single short story released during the last year. Some people believe the short story is making a comeback, however. For instance, New York Times writer Leslie Kaufman argued, in “Good Fit for Today’s Little Screens: Short Stories,” that short stories have experienced a resurgence in popularity because of modern technology. Salon writer Laura Miller disagrees, though, citing lack of evidence in her article titled “Sorry, the short story boom is bogus.”
Regardless of the marketability of short stories, there is no denying that they are an important tool for writers. One way writing short stories helps writers is by allowing them to test out new ideas with minimal time investment. For instance, let’s say a writer wants to write a steampunk story about a seventy-year-old mechanic who falls in love with a robotic nurse. The writer could spend a year working on a novel only to realize the idea doesn’t work. Alternatively, the writer could explore the characters in a short story, and in the event the idea is rubbish, the writer can toss the story having not invested much time in it.
Writing short stories can also help writers hone specific aspects of their writing. If a writer is looking to improve his or her dialogue, the writer can practice writing dialogue with a variety of characters in a variety of settings through writing short stories. In contrast, if the writer were to practice by writing a novel, he or she would be more limited in terms of the number of characters and settings to work with.
Now that you have some good reasons to write a short story, there’s nothing left to do but get started!
The Field Dragon
“Sounds like you’re dealing with a field dragon,” said Cornelius. “Those can be tricky to deal with. Fortunately, I have a plan, but it might destroy your corn field.”
“That’s fine,” said Friar Baisley. “Do what you have to do to keep us safe.”
“Good,” said Cornelius. “I’m going to enter the field and flush out the dragon. With a little luck, it’ll come out into the open. At that point, Craig, I need you to distract the beast with whatever spells you feel comfortable with. While the beast is distracted, I will get in position to deliver a finishing blow. Understand?”
After adjusting his cloak, Cornelius strolled out to the field, disappearing among the rows of corn.
The only sounds were the rustle of corn stalks shifting as Cornelius walked deeper into the field.
Minutes later, a loud snarl echoed across the field, followed by a yell from Cornelius.
The sound of corn stalks snapping grew louder and louder until Cornelius burst out of the corn field, a carriage-sized dragon right behind him.
Determined to distract the dragon, Craig ran toward it and shouted, “Incedium!”
A fireball erupted from his staff, bouncing harmlessly off the dragon’s chest.
As Craig contemplated another plan of attack, Cornelius held his staff over his head as a large granite slab grew out of the ground.
“Keep distracting the dragon!” shouted Cornelius. “I just need a few more seconds!”
Craig shouted “Incedium” again, this time aiming his staff at the dragon’s eyes.
A fireball rocketed out of Craig’s staff in a straight line toward the dragon’s face. The dragon batted the fireball away with his paw, but Craig sent another that hit the dragon in the right eye.
The dragon roared, rearing up on its hind legs, fire spurting from its nostrils and mouth.
Capitalizing on the dragon’s distraction, Cornelius finished the slab and used his staff to hover it in the air above his head. He made a whipping motion with his staff, and the slab flew through the air, hitting the dragon square in the head.
The slab burst into pieces, and the dragon fell to the ground unconscious.
About the author:
Caldric Blackwell realized he loved reading when he read about a bunch of people (with single-syllable names) and their pets (also with single-syllable names) in kindergarten.
Exposure to a host of great authors while studying at the University of California, Santa Barbara inspired him to begin writing fiction. Although he began writing short stories for adults, he eventually migrated to writing children's books. His debut work is an early chapter book titled The Enchanted River Race. His second release is a picture book titled The Boy Who Couldn't Cry Wolf.
Outside of writing, Caldric enjoys hiking and playing the mandolin, banjo, and guitar. Caldric currently resides in California.
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