Ian’s Realm

Our movie

Don’t forget to give Ian’s Realm on Indie Short Fest a thumbs up! The film is making the circuit, gathering fans like a snowman so we can film the feature film titled Deception Peak…and then go on to do Dragon Shield and Rubies and Robbers…and then Layla…oh yes! Please like, share on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!

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In Defense of Dylan

As some of you may have heard the screenplay I wrote adapted from my novel concerning a young autistic man who has magical abilities just won two “Best Screenplay” awards in two separate film festivals. I’m thrilled, of course. I have to admit I don’t post the festivals which reject the screenplay. I like to focus on my successes, but I do take into account where I can do better and one such festival offered an extensive critique on the story.

I’ve had others critique the story as well and I have made changes, of course. Editing is a continual process and where my work is weak I want very much to make it stronger. But we must always consider the critique, and use our own judgment sometimes. That’s why I’m writing in defense of Dylan.

For those of you who have read the story, thank you. For those who haven’t there might be a few spoilers here for you, but I don’t think it will ruin the story. This will be more of a character analysis self-review.

Most of the criticism I’ve had concerns the antagonists in the story. Aunt Agnes, and Dylan’s mother Emma. I did not ‘stereotype’ these people. Dylan is a young man whose character I modeled after many passengers I drove while working for our local ACCESS bus service. I purposefully set Dylan in a hostile family environment. Why? The reason is part of the story’s message.

We, as a passionate people, would like to think that the entire world is sympathetic to autistic children. That is a misnomer. As far advanced as our society has come, and as aware as counselors, schools, teachers, and parents have become, there are still children and adults that are mistreated for their weaknesses. I have seen it with my own eyes, and have written this problem into the novel. I was quite conscious of how my passengers were treated at home, and the way they responded. Those from good homes were well cared for, working, and functioning as well, or better than many people who don’t have challenges. But the people who are not in healthy homes, who are institutionalized, are mistreated, had fears, anxieties, and outbreaks unaddressed.

Dylan borders the two. He lived until 12 years old with his mother in an abusive environment until the social workers discovered him, took him away and his loving uncle (brother to Dylan’s mother) adopted him. Those 12 years gave him enough trauma that kept him from functioning as he could have. While living with his kindly Uncle Jim, Dylan was able to come out of his shell somewhat, finish school, help his wheelchair-bound uncle, and learn how to cope with daily life.

Aunt Agnes tries to be kind, but she’s overloaded with responsibilities taking care of her drug addicted sister, her spoiled daughter, and then her brother’s death slaps the responsibility of  Dylan in her lap. She’s not ready for it and so she looks for an easy answer. A boarding home. It’s an adult boarding home because Dylan is an adult. There is nothing legally binding Dylan to this home. His aunt pays rent, that’s the only thing keeping him there.

Dylan’s mother, on the other hand, is angry, bitter and a meth addict. She may look like the worse villain any story could have, but I have lived around meth addicts. What she does is nothing out of the ordinary for someone whose mind is imprisoned by street drugs.

There are many issues I wanted to address in this story, and for those who understand I think I’ve succeeded. I inserted magic, because it’s the magic that Dylan hangs on to in order to stay sane, until Liona comes into his life.

Thanks for bearing with me. I’m thrilled about the awards and I’m equally thrilled about the audio that talented Jeff Stillwell is making for me. Take a peek at this little sample I made up. It takes place when Dylan is at his wits end, missing his beach home with Uncle Jim where he used to take solace in nature. You can pre order the audio here.

For those who have read my other works, you’ll know I always have characters that are flawed. I don’t care if they are supposed to be a role model. Ian’s dad in Ian’s Realm is one character some people disliked, and disliked the story because of him. But not all people are perfect and not all parents are perfect parents. I refuse to paint a golden picture to boys whose fathers skipped out on them because those boys won’t believe a word I say if I do.

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OWSCyCon Fantasy Blog Tour on Worlds

About The OWSCyCon Fantasy Blog Tour

As part of the OWS CyCon 2019, we asked our fantasy authors to write about what makes their world, or the world of another author unique. Each of them has come up with very different answers which reflect their writing processes, their research methods, and their views on world building.
We hope you find these insights interesting, and that they maybe give you some new things to think about when you pick up a new book, or even start writing your own.

My insights will be posted on Debbie Manber Kupfer’s site “Paws4Thought”

After reading this interview, be sure to check out the responses from our other fantastic writers:

Spiritualism, Odic Force, and No Rest for the Wicked
By Phoebe Darqueling

Anyone who spends time honing the craft of writing knows that there really are only a handful of types of plots. The creativity of an author and uniqueness of a book really comes through in the details, and we all draw from different inspiration. I for one just adore the “bad science” of the 19th century and often use it as a jumping-off point in a lot of my work, but especially in the Mistress of None series. The people who came up with the things we think of now as quackery were completely convinced of the validity of their findings (or at least were really good at convincing others), which means there is some kind of logical framework in place.

I often describe No Rest for the Wicked as historical fiction with a paranormal twist. All of the historical facts are true, but ghosts are real, and unfortunately for the main character, they are also very chatty. Spiritualism was all the rage in the 1870s, especially in America following the Civil War. People were extremely worried about the outcome of the souls of the departed soldiers, who usually died far from home. In those days, a “good death” meant to be surrounded by family members. Many soldiers carried photos of their loved ones and made promises to each other to spread them around the bodies of the fallen.

Spiritualist beliefs are at the root of much of ghost lore, though many of the “facts” about how ghosts operate have evolved since then. For instance, a popular trope in contemporary ghost stories involve a haunted house. Ghosts in popular literature and movies today are usually angry or sad, and most often tied to a particular place. And while Victorian era homes were also a popular backdrop, spirits to them were much more mobile. Mediums potentially acted as conduits to any deceased person, even those who were resting comfortably beyond the grave. A séance may have been conducted in the home of someone who died, but often they were done in the medium’s parlor.

In the Mistress of None series, I wanted to blend these sets of beliefs. My ghosts can go anywhere they want, but they are limited to traveling at the same speed as the living. They may still be among us because of a surprising or tragic death, or because they have some kind of business that needs finishing before they can let go of existence. The cohesion of the ghost is determined by a number of factors, such as time since death and strength of their resolve.

Which brings us to our second piece of 19th century “science.” Though you have likely heard of hypnotism and Mesmer’s “animal magnetism,” you’ve probably never heard of Baron Carl von Reichenbach. He was a German industrialist who became enthralled with the study of sleepwalking and night terrors. He went from town to town around his mining holdings around the Danube to talk to families about these afflictions, and came up a theory about the ways sunlight and moonlight affected the brain. As his study evolved, he proposed what he called Odic Force (named for Odin, the “all father”), a type of energy on par with electricity and magnetism. But unlike the other energies, Odic Force permeated everything. Different substances acted as conduits and dampeners, and only specific people could sense its presence and see the different colors it would manifest.
This is where we got the term “sensitive” for people like mediums who could communicate with the dead, though Reichenbach himself didn’t use it in this way. For him, it was all about energy exchange and invisible forces, but I was immediately struck by the possible connection to how ghosts might work. In the world of Mistress of None, my ghosts are made up of residual Odic Force, which they use to draw in aether (another wonderful 19th century invention) and form a body. Through concentration, or more often very strong feelings like rage and despair, they can pull in additional energy from things around them and become more solid. This is why the temperature can drop in a ghost’s presence and it feels cold to walk through them.
I decided to take von Reichenbach’s ideas one step further and apply it to mediums. Even if you’ve never participated in a séance yourself, you’ve probably seen them portrayed in movies and tv. Inevitably, the people seated at the table take each other’s hands before the ghost will appear. So in No Rest for the Wicked, Vi has to be very careful of making skin to skin contact with people, and the energy can pass through anyone she is touching to anyone they are touching. She has an abundance of Odic Force coursing through her, which can attract ghosts and make them more solid as they draw from her. There are also certain substances that can inhibit the transfer of energy and reduce a ghost to a puddle of mist until they can pull themselves back together. Vi’s troubles all begin with ghosts, but as the series progresses she discovers many different facets of her relationship with Odic Force.

Even though more recent research has poked holes in the beliefs and findings of the people in the past, it’s a wonderful resource for inspiring fiction. If you are interested in different beliefs and studies done surrounding the spiritual world, I highly recommend Spook by Mary Roach. She has a wonderfully accessible writing style and covers a huge range of topics.

And if you want to read about a 19th century con woman who can speak to the dead, you should check out No Rest for the Wicked. There are reviews, excerpts, and more guest posts over on my website, where you can also grab a free copy of The Steampunk Handbook by subscribing to my email list. It’s designed to be a resource for readers and writers who love the steam era as much as yours truly, and it’s full of chapters on history, culture, and recommendations for books and movies.


About Phoebe Darqueling
Phoebe Darqueling is the pen name of a globe trotting vagabond who currently hangs her hat in Freiburg, Germany. In her “real life” she writes curriculum for a creativity competition for kids in MN and edits academic texts for non-native English speakers. She loves all things Steampunk and writes about her obsession on SteampunkJournal.org. During 2017, she coordinated a Steampunk novel through the Collaborative Writing Challenge called Army of Brass, and also loves working with authors as an editor. You can also find her short stories in the Chasing Magic and The Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales anthologies so far, with three more short stories coming out before the end of 2019. Her novels, Riftmaker and No Rest for the Wicked, are available now. She’s an equal opportunity Star Trek, Star Wars, and Firefly fan, but her favorite pastime is riffing on terrible old movies like in Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Meet Phoebe Online
OWSCyCon2019 Author Booth: https://owscycon.ourwriteside.com/forums/topic/phoebe-darqueling-fantasy-booth/
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Author Website: https://www.phoebedarqueling.com
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Tolkien 5 Star Review

I just came back from watching the movie Tolkien. On the way to the theater my husband and I were listening to the radio. Someone came on air with a review that pretty much knocked the movie out of the water. I was ready to say to my husband “Well that’s it then,” and suggest we turn around and go home.

That radio review was not the first negative review I’ve heard or read about the movie either. Unfortunately, I’m assuming many people will listen to those reviews and not bother to see the movie.

How sad.


Being a filmmaker, I have a differing opinion. I like to approach a movie with an open mind because nine times out of ten, I differ in opinion from the critics. Well, it happened again.
I found this movie expertly produced. The casting, the costuming, the sets were just beautiful. The reenactment of life in the trenches during WWI was emotive. From what I’ve read about Tolkien, and how the war affected him and his writing, the story was spot on. There was much more to the man than an hour and 12 minutes can cover. But for an introduction, Tolkien did a really good job of allowing us to see a part of his life.

As a fantasy author, the movie touched home. I think that perhaps, judging from the critics, one must almost be a fantasy author to understand.

We see J.R.R. Tolkien’s childhood and the heartbreaks he experienced, all a part of who he was and how he let himself slip into another world.

The movie dramatizes the creation of the languages he invented which he used in his fantasy novels later in life.

In the appendices to Lord of the Rings Extended Version there is a documentary on J.R.R. Tolkien which tells of his deep depression during one of the most brutal wars in history, and how after the war he coped with the death of his close friends through his writing and the magic of a fantasy world.

J.R.R. Tolkien was a passionate man who saw the world in more than one dimension, something that science fiction and fantasy authors do on a daily basis, but which is uncommon for those who don’t appreciate or understand the genre.

If I were to sum up the movie in one word, that word would be “sensitive”.
I was brought to tears in a few places and I think those who have the sensitivity of an artist will enjoy the film. It’s no Lord of the Rings, no. Do not expect it to be. This is a story about a compassionate man with revolutionary ideas concerning the world around him, and his journey to tell the tale of evil and the fight for survival which often can only be heard through parables.

Perhaps the motion picture world of glamor, glitter and superheroes cannot slow itself down enough to breathe in a quiet and compassionate telling of a man who addressed so many wrongs in this world. But I would hope others would take the time.

You who read my blog know that I’m a fantasy story advocate. Not only do I read and write fantasy, I encourage the indulgence of it. Why? Because we were given imaginations to cushion us from the cruelties of this world. Not an escape, my friends, but an open window that lets us breath in some fresh air!

(FYI…for Christians who complain that not enough of Tolkien’s Christianity came through in the film, if you look closely you will see a crucified Jesus on the battlefield. I don’t think much more than that needs to be said.)





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Why Fantasy?

Why love fantasy stories?


I have heard many times from people I know that they just don’t read fantasy and sometimes I wonder why not.

Perhaps to concentrate on matters at hand, the political arena, or science, or some form of ‘reality’. Perhaps a hesitation to release the imagination, fearful that some insane journey would take them far away from the here and now when their time is best utilized for matters at hand.

Those who know me know I am an advocate for the creative, for the far fetched. For lands and times beyond. I do not disguise my eagerness to day dream any more. Yes I was told at a young age it was wrong. But now I understand perfectly what C.S. Lewis meant when he said “someday  you will be old enough to read fairy tales again.”

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” ― Michael Scott, The Warlock

I appreciate the dedication to the gaining of knowledge. History, science, and other academics are certainly subjects we all should pursue.

But in the defense of science fiction and fantasy, I have to stand for the reality that seeps its way into fictional stories. Those golden nuggets that seal themselves into our soul and shape us into the people we are.

“Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end.” ― George R.R. Martin


Often there are truths hidden in a good piece of fictional literature that just cannot be told any other way. Ancient culture used spiritual truths in parables or fables which were meant to impart wisdom.

It wasn’t just about the story, but more about what the story told.

When I was little, we were always taught to ‘look for the moral of the story’ which may or may not be so obvious, which may prompt the reader to think beyond the words.

A fantasy tale, such as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, or Jordan’s Wheel of Time, or C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, leave heartfelt truths the reader can chew on and digest long after the book is set back on the shelf. I think that is why true science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts love the genre.

So much wealth to ponder!


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Official Trailer for Ian’s Realm

Filming was such fun and we have such a dynamite team. Four days in the mountains with actors Robert Miano, Jeff Stillwell, Manny Colin, Bruce Weech, John Henry Whitaker, Kandace Caine. Our fantastic director Chris Love and our camera crew with Tylor Jones. Couldn’t ask for better company! Here’s a teaser. More to come!


When Ian Wilson travels through a portal to another world looking for his father he is caught in a cross fire between dragon worshipers and those warring to rid their world of evil. To learn more about our upcoming short film Ian’s Realm Proof of Concept, visit http://iansrealm.com
Adapted from the novels Ian’s Realm Saga by D.L. Gardner
Screenplay by D.L. Gardner
Directed by Chris Love
Cinematography by Tylor Jones

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Abbi’s Turn

October 27, 2018
D.L. Gardner
I’ve been listening to you, my fans, concerning Ian’s Realm. you’ve read the trilogy and many of you have commented on wanting to know more about Ian’s adventures in the Realm. Sadly, Diary of a Conjurer happens 8 years later. What was going on with Ian and Abbi before that?

Well, it’s writing time again.

Having filmed a short proof of concept film for Ian’s Realm this month, putting faces to the characters has inspired me to continue Ian and Abbi’s story. So I’ve already begun the premise of the next adventure they take.


Kandace Caine (Abbi) and Jeff Stillwell (Ian) on set of Ian’s Realm Oct 2018

All is not well in the Realm, nor in the real world for any of them. Abbi’s begun a difficult nursing career. Elisa gets some tragic news that is difficult for a girl her age to handle, and Ian struggles with fitting into reality. It’s no wonder that the magic of Ian’s shield alters their course. But what a course it turns into!
I’ll be writing as often as possible, juggling my time with getting this fundraiser to completion (please take a look at our page. We need funds for post production and would really appreciate your help even if it’s the $20 you’ll need for the password to view the completed short film).

While you wait for this story (and I hope it doesn’t take too long. Walks in the woods are again shaping the tale) take a look at all the neat little behind the scenes videos we have on our FB page and on the updates of our Seed and Spark fundraiser page! We want to include you in all that we do!

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