Something strange, something magical, is going on in the dusty hills behind the small town of Villaloma. Yet each time Linda Peters puts on her running shoes and sets out to find the enchanted kingdom she imagines—full of dancing elves, unicorns, and more—something stops her. And with school starting soon, she only has a few more chances to really search the hills.
While Linda’s frustration and doubt grow, her cousin, Nugu, looks for answers in his books and wonders if maybe, just maybe, Linda’s stories are for real.
The day finally arrives when Linda can run far, the day she is sure she will find her magic city. But when she and Nugu feel their goal must lie just beyond the next hill, they only find more hill.
Is it all a figment of an over-active imagination; a wistful fantasy?
Or is there truly something magical in those hills that only the strong of heart—and leg—can discover?
An Excerpt from eLF hILLS
A rustle from a bush to the side of the trail attracted his attention. He watched, expecting a rabbit or ground squirrel to pop out and hoping for a snake or something he could actually catch. Distracted from his search, he quietly picked his way down from the rocks, watching the bush. It rustled again as his foot touched down.
A wave of apprehension washed over him. Something about the moment was familiar, as if he had been in this situation before. The images were vague, so he dismissed them. His imagination got away from him sometimes.
He tiptoed toward the bush, his eyes scanning and probing, looking for a sign of the critter hidden underneath.
He reached out to grab a branch and pull it back—again the images washed over him, memories... There! It was a... a raccoon? Big round eyes, a wide face with a black, furry mask, short stubby ears, and lots of fur. It was holding something shiny in its hands—paws? The creature quickly concealed what it held and growled, showing a mouthful of teeth.
"Augh!" Nugu fell back, scrambling like a crab.
A safe ten feet away, Nugu watched the bush. It rattled again. The raccoon—it could only be a raccoon, he thought—waddled out into the open. It was walking on two feet. Do raccoons walk on two feet? Nugu tried to remember all of the animal documentaries he had seen. Maybe? And do raccoons get so big? This guy looked like he could take on Jeremiah, Nugu's four-year-old (almost five) brother. It reminded Nugu of something else entirely, some creature from a book... or a movie.
Unconsciously, feeling more nervous, Nugu took a couple steps backward.
The big, standing raccoon looked at him, and threw its arms in the air. "BaaaagahLOO!" it grunted. Nugu jumped straight up, turned, and ran.
aBOUT s.s. dUDLEY
S. S. Dudley grew up in Wyoming, USA, an avid reader and lover of the outdoors. He studied at the University of Wyoming and the University of Illinois. He started his first book (an epic fantasy hand-written in with a blue fountain pen...) when he was 13, but never finished it. At some point (as his mother recently reminded him), he decided that he needed to go do something (like get a job) for a while before he could, or should, write. He did, and spent time in Colombia, Panamá, Antarctica and the dark recesses of large science buildings on college campuses. That done, he now writes, lives and runs in Northern California with his wife and two children. He can be found at:
ssdudley.com | facebook.com/author.ssdudley | twitter at @SS_dudley | http://amzn.to/160KY4j
This book is free on Amazon from Dec 15 – 19, 2014. If you prefer print, the paperback is available through Createspace here. This is a code for a 15% discount off of the retail price ($8.99): 9DSCQ3UU
The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host. Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found at the Goddessfish Promotions Blog.
In a world where cities float, airships sail the skies and mythical creatures are summoned in a pinch, Celes Vale is distinctly average. Living in the shadow of his talented cousin and his powerful aunt and uncle, Celes is resigned to a future of soot, factories and well, more soot.
But on the night of his twelfth birthday everything changes. A blinding light, a whispered voice and in an instant Celes becomes the first ordinary child in history to develop magic, sending him on a fast-track ticket to the greatest of the floating cities, Gardarel. Boasting grand, elegant buildings wrought from shimmering white stone, the entire city appears as though it has been built from light, and so it has come to be called the Kingdom Lights.
Though some welcome Celes, others want the dirt-ridden up-start off their city preferably head first. Nowhere is this clearer than in the attitude and actions of the beautiful and haughty Lady Ban and her sneering nephew, Marcus Blackwood. But Blackwood, with his gang of goons and unimaginative one-liners, is soon the least of Celes s problems.
With a little magic and a lot of detective work, Celes and his group of Scurriers and Wisps unravel the dark truth behind Lady Ban s prim, perfect smile an alliance to the villainous Wardens and the masked man who leads them. However, in his attempt to expose Lady Ban, Celes unwittingly stumbles onto an even darker conspiracy a plan that could lead to the complete destruction of Gardarel itself.
An Excerpt from the Book
Light. Beautiful, pulsing, bathing him in its emerald glow…his eyes were peering open now, his mind fumbling for thoughts and memories, a taste like metal upon his tongue.
“Are you hurt?” said a voice, faint, distant. “I didn’t want to hurt you, but I didn’t have a choice.”
“Choice?” the boy croaked. He tried to reach up, but his hands had been bound, thick ropes cutting into soft flesh. I’m back in the Gravity Rooms, he realized, though the chamber itself had been transformed entirely. The emerald light now dripped with the crimson of hundreds of Flare Crystals, as though an angry swarm had surged forth against a far larger beast.
“I know why you’re here, but I...you can’t stop this.” As his eyes began to focus, Celes saw the Warden standing before him, draped in a white cloak, his iron mask half-hidden beneath his hood. It was strange, so strange to find the spectre amongst shadows for once illuminated.
“You can’t,” said Celes his lips cracked, his thoughts dizzy. What’s…my head, I can’t think… “You can’t destroy Gardarel. Please. I know you’re working for Lady Ban. You don’t…you don’t have to do this!”
The Warden took a knee before him. “I do,” came the whispered reply, soft and sad. “They made their choice; and I, mine.”
A resident of the sleepy coastal town of Bexhill, East Sussex, England. Steven graduated in the summer of 2013 from the University of Southampton with a Bachelor of Medicine Degree and a Master’s Degree in Global Health from Sussex University – where he spent the majority of his time in Shawcross writing this novel!
In between writing and dreaming Steven is a medical doctor and has worked at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire and the Princess Royal where he fights the system with quirky lanyards.
Steven’s debut novel steampunk fantasy The Kingdom Lights is out on October 17th published by Neverland Publishing.
stevenvs.co.uk | Kingdom Lights on Amazon
During this tour, the author will be giving away:
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Disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these folks couldn't be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake in the dystopian slum, Junktown, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go...UP THE TOWER.
themes I return to again and again in my stories
One theme that is pretty consistent in my work so far is family. I find family absolutely fascinating because it basically decides everything you're going to be from a very young age.
For myself, I think I would have turned out as a much different, much worse sort of person if I hadn’t grown up in a loving, supporting environment. I think there are tons of people who don’t need that kind of environment to be awesome, but I am decidedly not one of them. By nature, I just have this huge list of flaws that can make me a pain: I’ve got a hell of a temper, I’m prone to resentment, I’m argumentative, and I’m stubborn. And let’s just say those are all things I can pretty reasonably trace down the genealogy line. But, because of my family, I also know how to apologize; I know my problems are my problems and not something to foist upon other people; I know how to see other people’s viewpoints; and, I know how to admit when I’m wrong.
So a lot of my characters are sort of spin-offs of myself with just different family backgrounds. Ward in DUST BOWL is a pretty accurate summation of what I would have been like without a family to back me. He’s lonely and feels abandoned, and is completely alcoholic, and with a loss for anywhere to turn, he joins an apocalyptic cult. Clay from THE RED COUNTRY TRILOGY is sort of what I imagine myself becoming if I ever went back to drinking and grew up another twenty years or so. Basically decent and very intelligent, but flawed all the way through and unable to cope with the presence of other people’s needs in his life.
But not all my characters come from that place. In my latest book, UP THE TOWER, it’s still very family-oriented in terms of theme, but not really any of the characters have much to do with me. I felt like a lot of my fiction was becoming about moving away from family, and so I wanted to write something where people were trying to drift back toward it. So the main thrust of Ore’s quest in the book is to find her boy-genius brother, Samson.
Samson’s main thrust for his whole life, pretty much, was to enhance the safety of the man who became his father figure. Unfortunately, his father figure is a gang lord, and so by doing this, Samson has created this immensely powerful bad person, which is sort of an allegory for the ways in which we can give the father figures in our lives too much power over ourselves.
Victor is a really interesting character in this vein because he’s a clone, and has never had any family. The nature of his clone-dom is that he's been killed and brought back to life a lot of times, so his brain isn't firing in all the ways it's supposed to be. When he's presented with the presence of Ana, who reminds him of his mother, he goes sort of crazy even though he's been designed to be this ultra-smooth secret operative.
All told, I think family is a great source for looking at what makes us tick.
An Excerpt from the Book
Samson ignored the jeer, focusing carefully on opening the box. He was twelve years old and he did not want to screw this up; being twelve was important, and people took the things you did seriously so long as you did them well.
“Smellson, hey!” The Crowboy banged his crowbar on the dusty ruins of the factory line where they had set up the six crates from their haul that morning. “Don’t blow us up, okay? I don’t want to die with your stench clogging me up, yeah?”
Again, Samson ignored the other boy, trying to concentrate as he eased his longtool through the gap in the crate before him. He very well could blow himself up; he could blow them all up. Inside the GuaranTech crate he tinkered with was a copbot.
Copbots blew up all the time. If their main processors or power source were damaged, they blew up. If they were being captured, they blew up. If they ran out of ammo and couldn’t refill within about ten minutes, they blew up. When they blew up, they incinerated everything in about a hundred foot radius. The warehouse was not big enough for the Crowboys to keep their distance and still work in the role of protection as they had been hired. So they were in the blast zone as well as Samson.
The copbots, deactivated, were precious and valuable. Strangely, they were valuable precisely because they were so hard to deactivate. A copbot was made almost entirely out of self-healing nanotech, and with enough time, it could repair from almost any wound to its metal shell. So, to keep this sort of power out of the hands of the gangster conglomerate that ran Junktown, the Five Faces, and any other sort of competitor, the copbots had a very liberal self-destruct mechanism.
This is what Samson worked against.
The author will be awarding a backlist ebook copy to a randomly drawn winner at every stop during the tour and a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour.
The only thing harder than lying about your life? Facing it.
Marissa tells lies.
To herself, about the fact that her brother abandoned her.
To her grandmother, when she says “everything’s fine.”
To the world when she pretends her mother is at home or working late. When she doesn’t tell them her mother is dead.
She doesn’t even question the wisdom of living in a world built on lies anymore—until she meets Brandon. Unlike Marissa, Brandon faces his grief head-on. As their relationship sweetens, Marissa realizes the value of letting someone in and not letting her grief destroy her. But when her past filled with denial catches up with her, Marissa is forced to tell Brandon her darkest secrets, or risk losing him.
The only thing harder than lying about her life? Facing it.
Themes I return to in my stories
One theme I gravitate towards is loss. There is something so intense about loss. Bringing loss to the extreme of death is the ultimate state to write about. Greif is an extremely complex beast, and one that is different for everyone. The way the mind handles loss, the way the soul continues on, the way an individuals energy shifts, the way the world keeps moving on, it’s all related to the loss. This comes from a very deep and personal place for me. I’ve experienced loss on the very deepest level, and I use that grief to connect to my characters, my readers, and myself.
Loss is also relatable. At some point or another you are going to lose someone. Whether it be your best friend, your boyfriend, a family member, a pet even, it’s a universal understanding that within life there is death. This is a fragile fiber that connects us all. Having a support system to deal with your loss is essential to one’s own fight.
I find it fascinating how two totally different people can react to a similar loss. Having come from such a place I’m happy to say that I use my creativity to help me cope with my loss. And I hope others can find peace in their passions.
Read An Excerpt from Susan's New Book!
I held my breath as I ran past the cemetery. Stupid, I know. Regardless, it’s one of those idiotic things that stick with you from your childhood. Like fragments of your being that imprint themselves on your chemical makeup. It was my older brother, Marc, who had told me that once when we were in the backseat of Mom’s old hatchback and were driving past the Sacred Path Cemetery.
Marc poked me in my side. “Quick, hold your breath,” he said before taking in a puff of air and holding it in.
“What? Why?” I looked around from side to side.
He didn’t answer me. Instead he just kept motioning with his hands, pointing out the window, putting his hands around his neck like he was choking or something. Finally, when we turned left onto Harper Street he let out a big exhale.
“Oh man, now you’re toast.” He pointed at me and laughed. That maniacal laugh only older brothers know how to do. I was seven at the time, and Marc was ten. “You probably have a ghost inside you now.” He grinned like a devious villain.
“A ghost?” I said.
“You didn’t hold your breath while we drove past the cemetery. Again I state — you’re toast.” He began drumming on his lap with his hands.
I didn’t comprehend what he was telling me, but I knew I didn’t like it. Tears started forming in my eyes, and I knew I had to rely on my failsafe. “Mooommm,” I cried out, and immediately I felt Marc’s sweaty hand over my mouth.
“Yes, Marissa?” Mom’s sweet voice carried from the front of the car to the backseat.
“She’s fine, Mom. I got it.” Marc’s tone was of the dutiful son. He unclamped his hand from my face. “Listen,” he began, talking kind of slow. “You’ve got to remember this. I’m going to give you a life lesson here. Are you ready?”
His green eyes were sparkling, and I nodded my head in agreement.
“Okay.” He crouched down a bit so he was eye-level with me. “You must always, and I mean always, hold your breath when you drive past a cemetery. And if you’re walking past one, you must run — run and hold your breath until you’re clear. Otherwise, the spirits of the undead could invade your body. And you don’t want that to happen. Do you?” I almost couldn’t tell if the last part was a question or a statement.
“But I didn’t hold my breath back there, and all the times before. What if one’s in me right now?” I began pawing at my body.
Marc threw his head back and laughed. “Nah, you’re fine. Just be careful. Now that you know you have to do it, always do it. Understand?”
Again I shook my head. Marc gave me a thumbs-up, and I begged Mom to take Chester Street instead of Maple because I knew there was a big cemetery on Maple. Luckily she agreed.
So now, here I was ten years later, holding my breath as I ran past Sacred Path Cemetery. While I ran, my new sneakers — the ones I had to work double shifts on Saturdays for three weeks to get — started rubbing the back of my left heel, and I knew I’d have a blister the size of a quarter later on. It’s hard to keep your pace when you’re holding your breath. Luckily Sacred Path Cemetery isn’t that big. Just big enough. It’s just big enough. That’s what my grandmother said anyway. I was almost halfway through when I heard the clicking of the tips of my shoelace on the ground. My thoughts concentrated on what those tip things were called, anything to get my mind off the cemetery. Aglets, I remembered! My aglets were hitting the pavement, and I knew if I didn’t stop and retie that lace, then I would land flat on my face. Grace has never been a character trait of mine. My mother, yes, but not me. Marissa No-Grace McDonald should have been my legal name. How my mother came up with Scranton for my middle name I’ll never know.
Links: Twitter | YouTube | www.susansoares.com | Blog | Goodreads | Wattpad
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Susan will be awarding a Life is all Good LOVE Tote to a randomly drawn winner (Life is all good tote on Zappos), a multi-heart turquoise charm bracelet (Western multi-heart turquoise bracelet on Zappos) to another randomly drawn winner, a signed copy of Heart on a String to one more randomly drawn winner and finally, a signed bookmark of Heart on a String to three randomly drawn winners. All prizes will be awarded via rafflecopter during the tour.
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: Goddessfish Promotions Blog
Today I'm helping friends over at Patchwork Press celebrate their new anthology and the super-secret announcement of an upcoming anthology!
But, here's the catch: we're not going to just tell you what it is, we're gonna make you hunt down the letters of the upcoming anthology's theme. And guess.
But first, more about this cool locket:
Forged with magic, the locket's mission is to find it's family. The anthology follows the locket from 1630s India to Spiritualist 1890s America, then to the roaring 20s in New York. Ever seeking it's roots--the family of the old jewelcrafter who forged it--the locket resurfaces in 1945 Manila, present day, then the 2020s.
Released this week by Patchwork Press, the Lost Locket of Lahari features authors Erica Crouch, Terra Harmony, Janna Jennings, Ruth Silver, and Kellie Sheridan. Pick up a copy here!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks
Without further ado, the authors of the locket:
Erica Crouch, The Empath
Erica's novella The Empath in the Lost Locket anthology surrounds the spiritualist movement of the 1890s in America. Seances, ghost hunts, and more!
What did you enjoy most about writing this story?
Some of my favorite scenes to write of The Empath were the creepy scenes. I did a lot of research into spiritualism — looking into both the skeptics and those claiming to have supernatural abilities. I learned how to read palms, which is really cool, and I also learned a lot about tarot. I really enjoyed writing the scenes where Odessa reads someone’s fates, either in the cards or on their palm, and of course the séance scenes were fun to write. Anything that’s a bit dark is right up my alley.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
Too many. For this story in particular, I found myself writing and editing on the ground more than normal. (Is there a normal amount of time to be writing/editing on the ground?) Sometimes sitting at a desk or on the couch just doesn’t do it for me, so I’ll set my laptop on its side, lie down next to it, and start working. I don’t know if it works because it gives me a new perspective of what I’ve written, or if it shakes something loose in my brain, but it works. It looks weird (and is weird), but it works!
Do you have any themes that you return to again and again in your stories? Why?
I hadn’t even thought about it until now, but I think I continue to return to themes about fate and destiny in my writing. Some of my stories and characters assert that there is no such thing as fate and that we write our own path, while others are all about embracing what we are meant to do and become. I’ve always been interested in the idea of fate, and I guess I just like debating it out with myself across multiple books.
Terra Harmony, The Dreamer
Terra's story of the Locket, called The Dreamer, is in the exciting world of 1920s New York. Yet it shows us both extremes of those living at the time--poverty and excess.
What was the hardest part of writing this story?
The hardest part about writing 'The Dreamer' was the time period – the 1920's. I have never written in this era before, and haven't read very many books from this era. To get in the mood, I watched The Great Gatsby (twice – because, well – Leonardo DiCaprio). I also watched plenty of 'Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries' (on Netflix – I highly recommend).
I definitely fell in love with the roaring '20s and look forward to writing more in this era!
What book do you wish you could have written?
My gosh – The Outlander series for sure! What I admire about Diana Gabaldon's books is the research effort that is evident within them. Military history and medical know-how combined with romance, action, and a touch of fantasy – these books are my all time favorites!
Three things I learned by writing from character Olivia's point of view.
Janna Jennings, The Confidant
In Janna's novella, the locket takes us to 1945 Manilla and into some deep, rich history.
How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your story?
I’ve always had a fascination for the time period that Emma’s story takes place. World War II touched so many peoples lives in so many ways, the stories that come from those years seem endless. So the era of the story was easy. The only other requirement I had was a strong female character. I started looking at what kind of young women would have those characteristics under the circumstances of war, and found a surprising number of woman spies operating in a time where women were barely allowed to wear pants. Emma’s story began to take shape from there.
What were your goals and intentions in this story, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
I wanted a story that would work well within the structure of the anthology, but with a distinct voice and flavor. A story that illuminate an important but little-known bit of history. I was very excited with how the short story turned out, especially since it was a point of view and genera I hadn’t worked in before.
Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book?
I think there is a lot written about the extermination of the Jewish people and the Nazi occupation during this time period. And that is how it should be, the atrocities should be brought to light.
Less is known about the war in the Pacific, in particular about the liberation of Manila, and the deplorable conditions the people and POW’s endured during the long years of occupation.
Even less is brought to light about women and their role in world wide conflict, from the Rosie’s that riveted their way through the war to Virginia Hall, the American spy who parachuted behind enemy lines in France to organize the resistance there, all with only one leg.
What book do you wish you could have written?
The Time Traveler’s Wife. I envy Audrey Niffeneger’s ability to not only keep the back and forth of time travel straight, but to write it in a way the reader can follow it too.
Three things I learned from writing a story set in 1945 Manilla:
Ruth Silver, The Adventurer
Ruth's story takes us into a present day adventure where the locket reemerges! Now for some insight into Ruth's writing and dreams:
Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
Well I’ve never tried standing on my head to write! I do however find myself thinking up new ideas before I fall asleep. I keep a notebook handy and jot them down so I don’t forget it.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?
I would love to travel to Paris. The closest I’ve been is Paris in Las Vegas and it’s not quite the same thing.
What secret talents do you have?
Well, it’s not a huge secret but I used to be a professional photographer. I’d photograph weddings and ran my own business for a few years.
And finally, a Clue:
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon Gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Enjoy an excerpt:
Colby woke on the cold floor. Only one of his eyes worked. The other was sealed shut. He pulled himself to sitting, feeling every inch of his body bruised and sore. An ache radiated inside of him like his ribs were broken. Blood dripped from a cut on his lip. He smeared it away with the back of his hand, then looked down at his arms and saw burn marks seared across his flesh. The same red marks covered his legs. Colby struggled to his feet and looked around to orientate himself.
He wasn’t in the room he had been brought to when he first arrived to Velcron. This room was a laboratory—a dimly lit one. The floor was smooth and polished, with a metal table was in the middle of the room. Silver chutes lined one wall, a metal door on the other. He hobbled to the door and tried the handle not really thinking it would work, but determined to escape. He had to get out.
He remembered the last thing Dr. Wang had said. Take him to the vaporization room. Colby turned around again and saw a shower on the far end of the room—the vaporization shower. He had heard about it before. It was used in prisons to execute criminals. A prisoner would be forced into the chamber and ultrasonic lasers would shoot out of the showerhead, vaporizing the victim into oblivion. Now, they were going to try to execute him without any just cause. He hadn’t even had a trial. There was no jury, no witnesses called forth to testify, no judge to hear his version of the truth. All of it was a set-up, to annihilate him and keep him quiet, but why?
About the Author:
She graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Master’s in Education and the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor's in English. She is currently working towards her MFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University.
Her work includes "The Portrait" (Gypsy Shadow Publishing), "Summer of Winged Creatures" (Saturday's Child Press) and EXTENSION (6/15/14, Crescent Moon Press).
Follow her at lisavpires.com.
Twitter at @lisavpires
Buy the book at Amazon.
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In a dusty, dilapidated stall tucked away in an alcove of a bustling Bazaar in India, a man with a rickety spine and a spindly beard bends over his work bench, forging a locket with accidental magic. There’s power in a wish, and there’s nothing he wants more than for his children to return home. The locket was intricately crafted, adorned with one dragonfly for each of his children—and the power to find them.
With the guidance of fate, the locket skips through time and journeys across oceans, traveling from person to person in a constant search for the souls whispered into its vessel. Centuries after the magical old man in the Bazaar became near-forgotten myth and whispered legend, the locket has fallen into the hands of those with echoes of the six dragonflies: the empath, the dreamer, the confidant, the adventurer, the dancer, and the mystery.
In the hands of its new owners, the power of the locket adapts, bending and remaking itself to answer need. While the locket never found the children of Lahari, it found the next best thing… Their spirits.
The five novellas of the Lost Locket of Lahari anthology pause a moment in time when the locket finds the ripples of its ancestry. From the Victorian-era to the Roaring Twenties, the 1940s to modern day and beyond, this anthology is a collection of stories as dynamic as the authors themselves.
Authors: Erica Crouch, Terra Harmony, Janna Jennings, Ruth Silver, Kellie Sheridan
Release Date: September 9th, 2014
An Excerpt from the Book
“So I heard you got a corpse the other day,” Brock said as he drove his large pick-up truck. “Old man? He’ll likely be one of the last, huh?”
Paige twiddled her fingers and tried to figure out how to answer the question. “Yeah, some old man. Not sure how he died....he just sort of...”
Keep your cool.
She held her breath and looked at Brock.
“Old people just die. Happens all the time.” He chuckled. “Just not around here much anymore.”
“Yeah, he just died,” Paige said.
That was easy. No need for explanation. He just died. Why didn’t I think of that? It’s not like I killed him or anything. I just...helped him. Yeah, I helped him. There’s nothing wrong with helping people, right?
“Any more ideas on how to make the cash?”
Paige shook her head, “Your dad’s giving me a scholarship.”
“Oh is he?”
“Well, the town is. And it’s not official, so don’t quote me or anything; but he said he would. Three thousand dollars.”
Still not enough.
“That’s a good start.”
Paige nodded, still lost in her own thoughts. She was trying to avoid letting the guilt of what she had helped the kind old man do get to her.
“I really wish I could pay for school for you--”
“But my rookie salary is barely enough to cover the bills and put a couple bucks away for you know, ‘someday.’”
“Brock...” She couldn’t help but smile. His sincerity was sweet. He would do anything for her and she knew that. But she didn’t want him to. She wanted to do this on her own, the best she could that is.
About the Author
After several years of writing and editing for producers and other screenwriters her curiosity led her into writing novels. As a huge fan of Young Adult and New Adult literature this is where her pen tends to lead her. However, she does have plans to release a few middle grade fiction and adult novels in the future.
Jennifer attributes her love of reading and writing to her mother who always reminded her of the power of literacy. Besides telling her and her siblings that they could do anything they wanted if they knew how to read and write, she said, “You can go anywhere in a book. You can be anyone.”
Links: Jennifer's Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Barnes and Noble
In today's post, I asked author Michael John Grist to tell us about the themes he returns to again and again in his stories, and why. Because theme is the heart of a story. It's where authors become philosophers, where we battle for our own existential stakes. What Michael John Grist said is good, really good. It'll make you want to read his book.
The fate of the world is written in scars. In a bleak industrial city where marks in skin are a sentence to death, Sen is a child condemned. Cursed with mysterious scars carved by his own mother's hand, he leads a fearful hidden life in the city's last abbey.
Then the King's brutal Adjunc attack, and Sen barely escapes with his life. Lost and alone in the city's dark hinterlands, he begins an exhilarating race to find the truth behind his scars. In stinking black sewers and the lava-buried ruins of an ancient civilization, he uncovers a truth far stranger than he ever imagined, laid out by his long-dead mother: an apocalypse god is rising, and only the legendary hero Saint Ignifer can stop it.
But Saint Ignifer is dead.
Revolution rocks the city. The blood of all castes runs in the streets. With a storm of new faith raging out from the barricades, Sen must embrace the terrible fate his mother wrote in his scars- in the volcano's caldera, at the end of the world- before the black jaws of the apocalypse descend. For the Rot is coming, and the Saint must rise.
Self-sacrifice is the BIG ONE (for me, at least)
If I ask you to think of the greatest story ever told, what comes to mind? Perhaps the epic of Gilgamesh? The labors of Hercules? Maybe something by Shakespeare even...
One that may certainly come to mind is the story of Jesus. Now, I'm not talking about this in a religious way, because I'm not really religious and have no agenda. Neither am I saying it is the greatest story ever, in the whole of the world. But I do think it is a truly great story, that has changed the world. And at it's core is the theme of self-sacrifice.
I cannot escape this theme in my fiction. It endlessly engages me, probably because it burrows deep down to something wonderful in our genetic code (uh, soul?). That of the desire to help others, to see others as an extension of the self.
In the story of Jesus, he did that for people he didn't even know. People that were different from him, people that hated him, even the people that were killing him. There is something deeply beautiful and powerful about that. This man (in the story at least) was able to see through all the differences between himself and others, and overcome them with forgiveness.
Wow. This kind of fellow-man/womanship has got to be one of the most laudable things about us humans. what drives someone to leap into the road and push someone out of the way of an oncoming bus, only to die themselves, even if they don't know the person they've just saved.
I'm talking about heroes/heroines. I love to explore what makes up these people's minds. I want to dig down to it and put it on display, blow it up and out so people will get to see it more, be moved (and maybe even influenced) by it more.
As a kid I read the British writer of heroic fiction, David Gemmell. The first book I read by him, and his best, is called simply 'Legend'. It tells the story of Druss, a famous aging axeman in a fantasy land, where a horde of barbarian tribesmen called the Nadir are sweeping down to attack a legendary fortress, on their way to destroy a civilization.
Druss goes to the fortress and he fights. He holds the line though he's old and in pain every step of the way. He leads even when he's dying, and excruciating poison seeps through his veins. Then in one of the most moving scenes, he comes back after he dies and fights again, as a ghost at the entrance to the fortress, because nothing will stop him from doing what he can to save who he can.
That is a hero. It's also what I've tried to put into my fantasy book, Ignifer's Rise. A boy named Sen is set on a path where he must raise an ancient hero, Saint Ignifer, to life, to fight off a coming apocalypse god. The Saint is just like Druss, a legend who laid down his life to save his city. Sen is just a boy, but he too must make self-sacrifices, and sacrifice even more than himself, to save the whole.
I wanted to ask difficult questions in this. Self-sacrifice is good, but is it ever alright to sacrifice others to save even more? How far is it possible to go before it stops being heroism and starts being villainy, reviled and hated? And even if it is reviled and hated, is it not still heroism if it worked? Is it not heroism to take on that massive burden of guilt, to save the world?
I love Ender's Game for this same reason. the only problem with Ender's Game is Ender takes on his built
without knowing it. If he'd known it, then the choice to do so becomes much more powerful- in my view at least.
Self-sacrifice of heroes runs through many of my books and stories. I can't help but return to it, like some wannabe story geneticist, trying to get to the root of these acts and find out just what they are, and why they might be done. Does that fascinate you too? Then join me for the ride, and we'll explore these dizzy depths together.
An Excerpt from Ignifer's Rise
Avia fled through the ash-smothered streets of Aradabar, and the Rot's fiery black tongue swept close behind.
Moths and Butterflies thudded to ground around her, bursting on cobbled stone, their broad wings seared away by the Rot's ashen touch. Avia ran on, down burnlit streets through rushes of mounding dust, as agonized screams rang out from behind.
They were all going to die.
Through breaks in the city's skyline of library towers she glimpsed the column of flame rising from the horizon, like a brilliant orange flower painted on the sky. The mountain was erupting; one last defense against the Rot, and soon Aradabar would be gone.
She sped down the narrow alleys of the outer bookyards, striding over bodies already half-buried in volcanic dust, holding her newborn son close. The wounds in his face were scabbing now, lines she had carved with her own hand that would save or damn them all.
"Help us, please!" voices called from a burning hut.
She glimpsed children trapped inside, hay-stuffed pillows tamped over their heads against falling rock. She couldn't help them, and ran on.
At a canal she came upon a thronging exodus of carriages and barges, filled with frantic denizens shouting to one another through the scalding ash. She slipped between their carriage wheels and ran across their jumbled barge decks.
"Lady Avia!" a Man of Quartz called out, but she only pulled her hood tight about her head and continued, leaving them behind.
"Where is King Seem?" he called after her. "Where is our King?"
Moments later, his cries joined the eruption's cacophony as the Rot found him.
About the Author
Michael John Grist is a 34-year old British writer and ruins photographer who lives in Tokyo, Japan. He writes dark and surreal science fiction and fantasy, inspired by authors such as David Gemmell and Orson Scott Card.
In his free time he explores and photographs abandoned places around the world, such as ruined theme parks, military bases, underground bunkers, and ghost towns. These explores have drawn millions of visitors to his website: michaeljohngrist.com, and often provide inspiration for his fiction.
You can buy Ignifer's Rise here on amazon.com or amazon.co.uk. Sign up for his releases newsletterhere and, friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/mjgwrites.
Michael will be awarding an autographed print copy of Ignifer's Rise to a randomly drawn winner. Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: Goddessfish Promotions Blog
It's a tad late. (Only about a year.) But I had a lot of fun making it, and future trailers are forthcoming!
Angela Shelley, herself.
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