A brilliant Ph.D. candidate, a cynical ex-SEAL, and a quirky experimental robot team up against terrorists intent on stealing America’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine. By all measures, they are an unlikely trio–one believes in brawn, another brains, and the third is all geek. What no one realizes is this trio has a secret weapon: the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago.
Preview Chapter from To Hunt a Sub
Three days before present
Ten hours and thirty-seven more minutes and the crew of the USS Hampton SSN 767 would be home. Seasoned submariners, the six-month covert intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance tour down the eastern seaboard of South America had gone flawlessly and silently. The Atlantic is a large ocean and the Los Angeles-class sub’s noise footprint small. Once the boat cleared Cuba, the crew would relax.
The Captain sipped the morning’s fourth cup of burned coffee when the hair on the back of his neck prickled. He glanced around, trying to identify what bothered him.
“Captain,” the Watchstander’s gaze bobbed from the Executive Officer to his watchstation. “Navigation is non-responsive.” Confusion tinged his words.
That was it. A change in the deck’s subtle rumble. Before the Captain could react to the impossibility that guidance controls had crashed, every monitor in the sub’s nerve center shut down.
He hadn’t seen this in twenty years of driving subs. All personnel made a hole as he rushed toward the Control Center, shadowed by the XO.
“Sonar readings?” The Captain called to Sonarman Second Class Andy Rikes in the compartment just aft of Control, barely larger than a broom closet but elbow-to-elbow with operators, fingers flying across keyboards and eyes locked onto screens that blinked a dull grey.
Rikes answered, “Negative, Sir. The hydrophones are working, but aren’t sending raw data, like someone pulled the plug and flushed everything out to sea. Trying to fix it.” His voice was hopeful.
If the screen had worked, Sonarman Rikes would have seen the ping, a final gasp before everything electrical collapsed.
The COB—Chief of Boat—interrupted, “Captain. Reactor Scram!” The sub’s nuclear power had evaporated. “Nuclear technicians isolating the problem. Battery back-up is being attempted.”
“Shift propulsion from main engines to EPM,” an auxiliary electric motor that could turn the propeller.
“Negative, Captain. Non-responsive.” Fear leaked from his voice.
The depth meter no longer worked, but the XO guessed that the sub was angled downward at 10 degrees
“Blow main ballast tanks!”
“No response, Captain.”
“How deep is the ocean floor in this sector of the Atlantic?”
The Sonarman answered, “It varies between 1,000 and 16,000”
16,000 feet was well below the sub’s crush depth.
“There are seamounts and ridges spread throughout. We could get lucky and land on one. Or not.”
“Inform US Strategic Command of our situation.”
“Sir, comms are down.”
“Release the message buoy,” though all that told the world was they were in trouble. It could quickly drift miles from their position.
The Captain continued, voice calm, face showing none of the worry that filled his thoughts, “I want all department heads and Chief Petty Officers in front of me in five minutes. I want the status on every system they own and operate. Wake up whoever you need to.” He had a bad feeling about this.
“Gentlemen, solutions.” The Captain looked first at XO, then COB and finally NAV, the Navigation Officer who turned to the senior chief of navigation.
“It’s like an electromagnetic pulse hit us, which can’t happen underwater…” then he shrugged as though to say, I have no idea, Sir.
They practiced drills for every sort of emergency, but not this one. No one considered a complete electrical shutdown possible.
“We’re checking everything, but nothing is wrong. It just won’t work.”
“Where’s CHENG?” The Chief of Engineering.
“Troubleshooting, Sir.” COB’s voice was efficient, but tense.
The Captain didn’t wait. “Condition Alpha. Full quiet—voices whispers, all silent, no movement not critical. Defcon 2,” the second-highest peacetime alert level.
No one knew who their enemy was or why they were under attack, but they had one and they were.
“XO, get lanterns up here.”
Within an hour, the massive warship had settled to the ocean floor like the carcass of a dead whale. It teetered atop an ocean ridge, listing starboard against a jagged seamount, and the gentle push of an underwater current from a cliff that plunged into a murky darkness. Every watertight door was closed. As per protocol, the oxygen level was reduced to suppress a fire hazard. Without climate controls, the interior had already reached 60 degrees. It would continue dipping as it strove to match the bone-chilling surrounding water temperature. Hypothermia would soon be a problem. For now, though, they were alive.
The hull groaned as though twisted by a giant squid.
The Captain peered into the gloomy waters that surrounded the sub. “Thoughts, XO?”
“We’re stable for the moment, barring a strong underwater current.”
Based on the creaking protests from the hull, they were at or beyond crush depth. Any deeper, the outside pressure would snap the HY-80 outer hull and sea water would roar into the living compartments. Everyone would be dead in seconds, either drowned or impaled on the ragged remains of the sub by a force in excess of a Category Five hurricane.
“We’re beyond the depth of the Steinke Hoods,” escape equipment that included full body suits, thermal protection, and a life raft. Budget cuts had eliminated funding for more advanced solutions.
XO pointed toward a darker expanse of black just yards from the sub. “No telling how deep that crevice is.”
“Gather the crew in the Forward compartment. Seal all other compartments. Ration water. Start O2 candles when levels reach 50% normal. Did the message buoy launch?”
That was a relief. The Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) deployed in emergencies from shore couldn’t assist if it didn’t know they needed help.
Quote from author:
What sets this story apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the captivating prehistoric female who unwittingly becomes the guide and mentor to Kalian Delamagente as she struggles to stop a madman from destroying her life.
Book information: Title and author: To Hunt a Sub by J. Murray Release Date: August 15, 2016 by Structured Learning Genre: Thriller Cover by: Paper and Sage
.. Available at: Kindle August 15th
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.
The United States of America has been crippled. Violently contained by a global military force and left without its leaders, the country has become shattered and chaotic. A decade has passed since the first strike and a new landscape has emerged where survival is more important than anything else. Who will uncover the truth behind the attack and revive this once great nation?
It certainly won’t be Cassidy and Lloyd since they couldn’t care less about that stuff. She is a young woman on a mission to honor her mother’s dying wish, which is to toss her ashes off the Golden Gate Bridge. He is an infamous serial killer she broke out of Rikers Island since hiring a bodyguard wasn’t working out. Not the perfect plan, but having an insane, oddly charming murder-junkie on your side is a plus in the Shattered States.
Bullets and swear words are going to fly as Cassidy and Lloyd travel coast to coast, facing one challenge after another . . . including Nebraska.
I read one or two sneak previews from Crossing Bedlam on Charles’ site, and learned about Lloyd and Cassidy through candid posts regarding his progress on the novel, so I was excited about the release. I was not disappointed.
The action starts immediately, and we find out exactly what kind of woman Cassidy is; the lengths she’ll go to complete her mission, and the impact a changing world has on her personality. The novel is full of the unexpected. When Cassidy decides to gather a dream team, protectors in a journey across the Shattered States, she chooses the unlikeliest of members – violent inmates. This introduction is hilarious, and again, gives the reader a telling first impression of Lloyd. He is a scary (funny) killer, with wit sharp enough to do the killing, and a tendency to break the fourth wall – a fact I particularly enjoyed.
As Lloyd and Cassidy embark on their crazy adventure, they meet a cast of memorable and certainly colourful characters along the way. The action is non stop – kidnappings, snipers with itchy trigger fingers, a few serious mind trips, and a negotiation or two – if it can happen it does.
One of the things I enjoyed most about the adventure is the friendship that builds between Lloyd and Cassidy, and the fact they balance each other out – give the other a purpose. They make great partners. Both are complex, and develop during the story. Both are hilarious in their own way, which provides comic relief in intense circumstances.
I don’t know if it has anything to do with Lloyd’s tendency to break the fourth wall, but it is so easy to imagine them living out their next adventure, travelling together and facing the next challenge. I hope we haven’t seen the last of them.
I have been a fan of Joshua’s work for a while now, so it is with absolute pleasure that I share with you his newest release – Dyndaer. Below you will find information about the book, the all important purchase links, and an excerpt to enjoy. I’ve also added details of the first book in the series, Melkorka, including my review.
Branimir emerges from the Netherworld as a living legend and learns the Ash Tree is still in danger from the cursed dagger, kaelandur. An old friend compels Branimir to finish what they started at Melkorka. Once again, the former slave must keep kaelandur out of uncertain hands, while struggling to separate heroes from villains and friends from foes. Some evils never lessen.
Joshua currently lives in Alaska with his wife and children. In 1999, he began crafting the world for Thrice Nine Legends, including Melkorka and Anaerfell. He is also the author of the A Midwinter Sellsword and Gladiators and Thieves in the Hawkhurst Saga. His short story, Grimsdalr, is inspired by the tale of Beowulf.
The demons of the Netherworld chased him. Four-legged, wolf-like creatures, known as Dreka, rammed their goat horns at Branimir. The gray, wrinkled skin clung to their gaunt frames. Thin lips were stretched back giving sight to the rows of teeth on the tops and bottoms of their bloodied gums.
Branimir tumbled, swinging his weapon and feeling it tear through flesh as easily as a hot blade through frost. For a moment, he may have heard Dorofej’s riddlesome voice—no, his cry—but Branimir had not the time to listen. Bran had to scramble, and sneak, and stab.
And stab. And stab. And stab.
The urgency of the battle and the demons thumped inside of his head.
“Stop!” A familiar voice, again, cried in desperation.
Crimson splattered his vision as his dagger cut through skin once more. His blade loved the taste of blood; he felt the need to drench it again.
Pain stung his leg, but it was quickly forgotten as demon after demon lunged for him. The Dreka were ever persistent in their attack. He spun, and twisted, and disappeared to avoid every demonic beast soaring through the air, vicious teeth aimed for his throat. They would not reach him. For a moment, he thought he saw a flash of Hanna’s wide eyes, but they looked unfamiliar. Treacherous. Evil. Besides, his dagger was already cocked behind his ear and he felt incapable of restraining himself.
Melkorka Review by Melissa Barker-Simpson
Robertson has created a fantasy world readers will be able to return to time and time again. It is a world of magic and adventure, of epic quests, and arduous journeys into the unknown. In this debut novel of the series, we are introduced to a cast of characters as their world is turned upside down.
The Highborn, a magical race consumed by duty and honour, throw us headlong into all-out war when they condemn one of their own. Their magic comes with a price, and this humanises them, draws us in to the politics of the land and offers a better understanding of their world. Their superiority is evidenced by the way they live, and unsurprisingly, this leads to an event which seals the fate of their people.
I particularly enjoyed the symbolism of creating Kaelandur, the first corporal weapon to be used among the Highborn in history. The existence of the dagger causes a shift in the balance of power, blurring the lines between good and evil.
The story is told from the point of view of Branimir Baran, a member of the Kras who has served the Highborn at Melkorka for over five decades. It is through his eyes we see the great battle between the Highborn and the Bukavac, demons of the Netherworld. Branimir has the gift of invisibility, creating a window for readers to observe the action and witness the destruction of Melkorka. This battle was wonderfully crafted, with beautiful imagery which added to the illusion of being part of the scene.
By killing one of their own, the Highborn unwittingly create a monster; a powerful adversary hell bent on destroying the world. Those who remain after the battle at Melkorka must embark on a journey to protect that which gives life – the legendary Ash Tree. Sitting within the Waters of Life, it stretches across all worlds, its location guarded by secrecy and, of course, magic.
Robertson’s world building skills are immense, so although I was surrounded by the unfamiliar, especially the names, I was drawn into the adventure immediately. The action didn’t let up for a second; with unexpected deaths, fantastical creatures, cannibalism and heroic battles which stole my breath – I couldn’t put it down.
Lost to his tribe in the Yagervan Plains, fear and shame have kept the former Mercenary Prince away from his homeland. With his confidence crumbling, he has decided to return and bring closure to his past. Reuniting with his old friends, Delvin’s timing could not be worse as a deadly campaign is brewing within Yagervan’s borders. Dawn Fangs are on the march and these powerful vampires are determined to turn the entire region into a graveyard.
To protect his family, friends, and two homelands, Delvin will have to push his doubt away and become the cunning Mercenary Prince once again.
Please feel free to put this on your ‘To Read’ list on Goodreads by clicking below:
With the hint of a smirk, Selenia quickens her pace and unleashes a barrage of blows on her former student. Each strike and stab is deflected by the sweat-covered champion, his speed increasing to match her every time. At one point, the half-elf leaps forward and is struck in her stomach by his shield, which forces her to flip over his head. The headmistress lands in a crouch and whirls around to block the counterattack, the point of Delvin’s sword gently running along the leather patch over her stomach. Realizing that he is still holding back, Selenia bats his next attack away and delivers a painful kick to his exposed side. The blow knocks him against the fountain and he comes dangerously close to falling into the water.
While rubbing his bruised side, Delvin circles the headmistress who turns to continue facing him. He makes a few feints that she refuses to acknowledge because they are clumsy and pathetically amateurish. The gathered students and teachers shout for more action, all of them believing the brown-haired warrior to be afraid of the legendary woman. None of them realize that his circles have been getting tighter and his fake attacks have caused Selenia to misjudge his distance. It is something she realizes when Delvin makes a quick swing for her hip and their weapons strike closer to their hilts than she expects. The moment the half-elf steps back to gain some space, her former student pushes forward with precise strikes that mirror the onslaught she previously unleashed. Without a shield, the headmistress finds it more difficult to block every attack and has to twist her body away from several attacks. The movements prevent her from throwing a kick or punch, which would probably hit the shield that he has yet to include in his advance.
Selenia eventually catches Delvin’s blade and slides her weapon along its edge to step within his swinging range. The pair push against each other, their muscles straining to gain the upper hand. Every time one of them is about to gain ground, their opponent shifts enough to continue the frustrating stalemate. With a grunt of exertion, Delvin moves his shield in front of the headmistress’s face and blocks her view. Knowing she is expecting him to push forward, the warrior falls onto his back and lets the surprised half-elf’s momentum slam her face into the wooden disc. The back of his head bounces off the ground as he flicks his wrist to deliver an extra shot to Selenia’s chin. She rolls away from him to recover her senses, but Delvin scrambles to keep her in reach and continue his attack as they stand.
“You actually hit me,” Selenia states when she notices that her nose is bleeding. She ducks under her opponent’s swing and aims her hilt for his stomach, the blow only grazing his shirt. “I think you’ve achieved two firsts for this academy, Delvin. Nobody has ever drawn my blood or made me dizzy during a match.”
Want to Dive into the Adventure from the Beginning?
So charge up your Kindle and end 2015 with an adventure full of action, humor, old friends, new enemies, grudge matches, tears, ale, and vampires.
About the Author:
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.
One of my writing friends, Louise Findlay, recently released a short story, Imprisoning a Duel Discord. Click here for more details. It is my great pleasure to be able to share a sneak preview with you today.
Imprisoning a Duel Discord Description
The world is in musical order. To maintain balance, a team of Government Agents, named Harmony, track down, experiment on and sometimes kill those who express the music of dissonance. Those like Psycha, a duel Discord of Vyla and Sios; a prime lab rat to Harmony.
Being able to disrupt harmony by voice and hands alone makes Psycha far more dangerous than the usual Discord. Will she run into trouble trying to protect her boyfriend, Caleb? Will her desire to destroy Harmony prove fatal for her? What will be left of her if she ever gets captured?
Imprisoning a Duel Discord Excerpt
What had Caleb gotten himself into this time? We were discords for music’s sake. We couldn’t strike back against Harmony if we ran, and be damned if he got caught. He was a Tara Discord not a Vyla like me. He was more vulnerable and I knew for a fact he left his Tara back at camp. Careless. That was so unlike him. He was usually methodical and paranoid. He couldn’t afford to throw his life away on a whim. I was the reckless one.
I hummed a tune to try and find his wavelength. Discords stuck out like a sore thumb, and he was a Tara. He was invisible without it, but I knew his musical signature like the back of my hand. I was almost certain I could pick something up, and I did. The three note discordant hum that was uniquely Caleb was faintly ringing in the air. I rushed to try and catch up to him. There was no way he would get captured on my watch. Cinder would kill me.
No. I caught sight of a man with the Harmony symbol on the back of his black suit. The tell-tale sign of a sharp, with two notes at the bottom and a treble clef in the middle, made him the enemy. I’d seen what happened to Discords when Harmony got a hold of them. They were mere husks of their former selves; dead and despondent inside. Their life cruelly ripped away. I would not let that happen to Caleb.
I screamed out notes at the man’s back, notes which clashed horribly. It was music to me, but the assailant recoiled, clutching his head in pain. How dare he try and take away the thing that made Caleb who he was. Being Discords defined us.
My enemy retaliated by taking out his Ko and trying to play me into submission. The harmony was excruciating to me. I was a duel Vyla/Sios Discord. Normal Discords were three parts discord and one-part harmony. I was fully Discord. I could control music with my voice and by touch alone. I hated Harmony for what they did to us, and I knew I’d be their prime lab rat.
“Caleb, run” I shouted.
I was bombarding him with musical assaults, but I had to be careful not to hit Caleb. He was powerless without his Tara. Why did he not bring it with him?
“I’m not leaving you,” he said.
Ah. Blood ran down my cheek when a note hit. Harmony and dissonance were opposites. One could hurt the other. Harmony were the government and Dissonance were the outcasts. I would make them pay for condemning us to a lifetime of running. Harmony agents lived to capture us.
“Go, you idiot. Get back to camp. You’re defenceless,” I ordered.
At last, he managed to see sense and fled. I couldn’t protect him if he was in the way. I waved a shield to protect against the agent’s next attack. Now Caleb was safe I could really let loose without fear of hurting him. I used my voice and hands in tandem to unleash a barrage of musical weapons at him. Streams of note swords and arrows flew at the enemy. He was pretty quick to keep up with me, but he couldn’t deflect everything I threw at him.
I started to hum a dissonant melody designed to sweep into his soul. I would poison his harmony with dissonance. He let out a hiss, which told me I was successful. I screamed as more musical implements of doom attacked me. I used the blood trickling down my arm in a note. Blood notes packed a mean punch. Judging by the look on his face, it did.
“Just die, Harmony bastard,” I said.
“Bring it, Discord cur,” he replied.
I screamed like a banshee. When he was distracted, I flung a spear at him. I turned his cries into a gag with a wave of my hand. His voice was grating to my ears.
Ah. A melody hit me straight in the neck and continued to constrain my throat. I tried to catch my breath, but it was impossible. I flailed around, trying to swipe him off me, but to no avail. I couldn’t let him get me. I couldn’t be captured. I finally managed to get him to relent, but my vision turned hazy as I gasped for breath.
About the Author
Louise Findlay writes fantasy (general short stories) and inspirational poetry. She enjoys reading and writing about mythological creatures, such as angels and demons, but has a soft spot for vampires. Louise is currently in the midst of writing a vampire novella about two vampire clans whose deputy’s clash in a big way, entitled A Spy in the Sagax Vampires.
She general writes ebooks, but she is a part of a few anthologies which are in print, and is working on a special secret project this year.
It’s my pleasure to introduce PS Bartlett and her series – The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales. Below you will find details on the series, more information about Peggy, and a sneak peak of Chapter One from Jaded Tides. Enjoy!
The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales: The Series to Date
IVORY DAWN: Prequel Novella
Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.
After a Spanish raid in Charles Towne left them with nothing, Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Believing they were out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.
Unfortunately for the pirates, these handy young women were ready, and they weren’t going anywhere without a fight.
DEMONS & PEARLS: Book One
Had I known the repercussions of murdering the captain of a pirate ship, I may have taken the time necessary to rethink the act. As if I’ve ever had a choice that didn’t involve a fight or at the very least, defending myself against some man, hell bent on destroying me or my kin.
All we wanted was our freedom. All we found were demons disguised as men.
A woman pirate needs friends, big strong male friends, to survive in this unforgiving land of thieves and murderers—at least until she gets on her feet. Of course, trying to find one person you can trust is like finding an oyster with a perfect pearl in it—you have to break a few shells and get your hands dirty. We were lucky. I found the biggest, baddest and most honorable man in the Caribbean and he just happened to be in the pearl business.
JADED TIDES: Book Two
After finding love in the most unlikely of places, Ivory’s life appears to at last be falling into place. Having proven herself a force to be reckoned with, she has at last set sail for the first time as a pirate. The only problem is she’s a woman and must disguise herself in order to set foot on a ship. Being in love with her captain isn’t helping matters either and whole new set of obstacles are presenting themselves at every turn. Her brash style and tenacity, however, could prove to make her, her own worst enemy.
With a sword in her hand and her new found love at her side, Ivory Shepard is about to embark on a mission to rescue and return every young woman she can who has fallen prey to the jaded tides of the Caribbean sex trade. Armed with a secret log book she acquired from a pirate captain—who also happened to be an evil smuggler, she believes herself well prepared for the task. As she’s already learned the hard way, pirates always prove to be unpredictable and ruthless. Unfortunately for them, so is she.
THE BLUE DIAMOND – THE RAZOR’S EDGE: Ten years in the future…if you like to read ahead.
Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.
After a Spanish raid in Charles Towne left them with nothing, Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.
Setting foot on that first pirate ship was nothing compared to the life of freedom and adventure awaiting them, once Ivory and the girls were through playing nice. Only one man believes he can stop her and he won’t need a ship full of guns to do it.
If it were only that easy…
COMING DECEMBER 2015: AMBER WAKE: GABRIEL FALLING
Where do I begin? That’s a difficult question in and of itself but when your life is transformed in a matter of minutes into something else, do you begin when you’re born or when your life truly began?
I was born in London as Gabriel Wallace, a child of high society; although I was raised to appreciate everything that softly landed in my hand. I followed all the rules. I worked hard, studied hard and ended up a captain in the Royal Navy before my twenty-fifth birthday. Unfortunately, I saw the world through my own eyes, not the eyes of the crown and my vision was clear. I knew my duty. I knew my job. I also knew deep down, regardless of the loyalty my commission required, my stance was in opposition and it was but a matter of time before I’d be forced to stand alone.
Fortunately for me, my crew was loyal too and I had the full support of my closest friend and confidant as well. I didn’t know where I’d end up but I knew one thing for sure; I needed to get the hell out of England and thanks to them, I was taking my ship with me.
I suppose it would be easy for me to just give the canned speech about myself in third person ( aka inside the backs of my books) but tonight, I’m actually in the mood to ramble on about myself…LUCKY YOU!
First, the canned speech:
P.S. (Peggy) has always had a love of books and writing. She also paints and draws and although writing takes up the majority of her free time by choice, she loves spending time with her friends and family.
Her first novel “Fireflies” was published in March of 2013 with GMTA Publishing and her second, “Hope From the Ocean” was published in March of 2014, also with GMTA.
As of March 2015, Peggy now independently publishes her own novels.
Peggy’s goal is to become a full time writer and spend the remainder of her days creating worlds, characters and stories that will carry on long after she’s written her last word.
Her motto is:
“I’m taking a fantastic voyage. Won’t you join me?”
A- Age: Seriously? Um…no.
B- Biggest Fear: Losing my loved ones.
C- Current Time: 8:29pm EST
D- Drink you last had: Coffee
E- Easiest Person To Talk to: My sister in law, Kim. We ride to work together every morning and ponder the universe.
F- Favorite Song: Right now, Go All the Way by the Raspberries. Something about that tune just makes me swoon.
G- Ghosts, are they real: Absolutely. Ask me sometime and I’ll elaborate.
H- Hometown: Baltimore, MD born and raised in the inner city.
I- In love with: My granddaughters.
K- Killed Someone: Only in my novels.
L- Last time you cried: Watching a video on Facebook. Sometimes those puppies and kittens are so damn cute!
M- Middle Name: Sue.
N- Number of siblings: 10. I’m number 11…yes, I’m serious. Unfortunately, there are only 5 of us left.
O- One Wish: To live long enough to see my grandchildren grow up.
P- Person who you last called: I just checked and it was my husband the other day.
Q- Question you’re always asked: How are you doing with the book thing?
R- Reason to smile: My grandbabies!
S- Song last sang: Fixer Upper from Frozen
T- Time you woke up: 6:50am
U- Underwear Color: Today? Beige
V- Vacation Destination: St Thomas.
W- Worst Habit: Grinding my teeth
X- X-Rays you’ve had: Recently, my right foot.
Y- Your favorite food: Japanese stir fry.
Z- Zodiac Sign: Aquariuuuuuuusssss….
CHAPTER ONE – THRESHOLDS
When one finds themselves in a predicament where something they’ve longed for is finally in their grasp, it is customary for them to be grateful, thankful, and every other joyful emotion a living creature can feel. However, success itself is a predicament when you are standing with your arms full, without a free hand. That is precisely what I was feeling as I watched the Thunder Cay dipping forward until her bow was completely underwater. Within minutes, her stern rose up and it, too, vanished from view.
As I stood on the deck of the Demon Sea, surrounded by death, I was holding a life of my own in my hands for the first time, and I hadn’t stopped for a second to consider it. I wasn’t foolish enough to believe I was at the summit of anything but the first of a hundred mountains I’d yet to scale. As I bathed and dressed my crewmen’s injuries and drew that burning needle through wound after wound, a numbness from my newly acquired familiarity with the blood of battle grew within me. With every scream and shriek of agony, a cold shudder would shake me and keep me in motion. The inertia of constant stillness within me declared I’d crossed a threshold from which I could never go back.
I wanted to feel. I wanted to care. I wanted to cry or shout or perhaps even vomit, but there was nothing. Once my clothes were splattered and soaked with the blood of men I hardly knew for maybe the third or even the fifth time that morning, I reached a point where I could neither see it nor feel its sticky chill against my skin. My face went flat, and my voice was silenced, and somewhere a compartment in my brain opened up and collected it all until I was through. When the last man was laid in his hammock by late afternoon, I stood on the deck and washed all of them away with a bucket of water and soap, snuck away to the girls’ cabin, and changed my clothes as if nothing had happened.
They were visibly shaken, but silent as well. Yet I knew their silence was far different from mine. Theirs was sadness and regret. Theirs was exhaustion, disgust, and sympathy. I hadn’t seen them this way since the night of the pirate raid in Charles Towne, and as with that night, my next thought was that there had to be something on this ship in a bottle that would soothe me again and help me find my voice, as well as my spirit.
I found one alright, and it found me. I carried it close as I drug myself along the gangway in the shadows to my swaying bed. I stood there, looking at the two empty hammocks, and swallowed a long drink. Almost immediately, my insides felt warm and sweet, and I rushed it to my mouth again. I strained to hold my eyes steady and leaned against the beam that kept my bed suspended above the floor. I stared at the vacant place where hours before I’d smiled to myself while listening to River Watts’s voice. I was glad we took down Thunder Cay for what they did to River, and I’d have murdered every last one of them myself had we not.
My heavy eyes and vacant soul longed for sleep, and my hunger for revenge, sated with the peace of sweet vengeance, afforded me the right to rest my head. Then, all at once, a sadness came over me, and I slid myself into his hammock while clutching my cozy glass rum filled blanket and fell into a deep sleep.
We’d reached Port Royal by nightfall as Captain Rasmus Bergman predicted, and he found us a charming inn a few miles from the McCormack estate. It was all white and sat quietly on a hill, surrounded by a lovely garden. A stone pathway wrapped around from the front to a spacious courtyard. The house was home to a minister and his wife, who rented out the rooms to support their small parish on the estate.
Rasmus insisted that I stay there with the girls at night, but I spent the majority of my days on the Demon Sea with him, helping with the repairs to the ship and plotting our course to take down the filthy business of smuggling girls. When I’d been able to get a peek inside that book of Barclay’s, I was shocked at the number of young women, some as young as fourteen, whom these men were ferrying to islands throughout the Caribbean from as far away as America and even England. What they’d been doing was no different than a slave trade, and I was hell-bent on putting a stop to it, aside the man I loved.
Spending all of my time with Rasmus had turned my life from fear and uncertainty into a reason to breathe. Throughout our unorthodox courtship of swinging mallets and sanding deck boards, we’d grown to know everything about each other that two people who were planning a future together could, or should, know—at least, that’s what we believed. That comforting numbness the bloody battle had left me with had completely settled into its compartment in my mind, and I was able to keep it locked away most of the time, but in those hours I shared with him, I found the most peace.
He’d sworn not to lay a hand on me again until he made me his bride, which was extremely disappointing to me at first, but I trusted that he knew what was best. I put all of those swirling emotions to use through the sweat of hard work. I envied his restraint and thanked God for it, because at the time, I had none at all. Just watching him working on that ship shirtless, glistening in the sunlight or the rain, sent deep feelings of desire to places within me I longed for him to find. I wondered, though, if the idea of him making love to me only excited me until the realization that it would inevitably happen scared me to death.
Day in and day out, I’d rise before the sun, saddle my sweet horse, Peppi, and start off down the road to the wharf to meet Rasmus and the crew. My first job as a real sailor was sewing sails. I hated it. My fingertips were raw and had more holes in them than a sponge. I tried to use the leather gloves Rasmus had given me out of pity, but my hands swam in them, and they made things even worse. I never complained. I never even so much as winced as I drew that needle through and through. When I was finally done, the callouses had hardened until I knew I was pricked only when I saw the droplets of blood.
I was a young man named Razor in the eyes of the crew, and so far no one suspected otherwise. I was questioned once by one of the old crew we called Fin, as to why I didn’t sleep aboard the ship. He was one of Barclay’s old crew, and although he seemed decent enough, I still harbored doubts of any man who’d sailed with a captain like that. I wove a story that I had three sisters I had to watch over at night. He simply nodded and went on about his work. Since he liked to talk most of the time, I just listened.
On one occasion, he told me of how he missed his home back in Ireland, and his light brown eyes sparkled as he spoke. Lying became a way of life for me, and as long as I made the stories simple, they were easily recalled and repeated. Not speaking much at all, however, was much easier.
“Razor, if you’re finished with those sails, we can use some help sandin’ down these new starboard gunnels!” Captain Bergman shouted to me… but I was starving.
“Have we any time to eat, Captain?” I asked, shielding my eyes from the midday sun until he approached me and blocked it with his big silhouette.
He checked his pocket watch and turned his head to the sun and said, “Look at the hour. Your stomach must be set like a watch, Razor. Okay mates, take a break. Hawk’s got some grub for ye all below.”
“Thank ye, Captain,” I muttered and stood as I straightened my ragged clothes and started off to eat.
“Razor, I’d have a word with ye,” Rasmus said as he stepped in front of me.
He waited a few moments until the deck was clear and then patted me firmly on the back. “I have to give ye credit, little Razor, you’ve really pulled your weight getting her seaworthy.”
“Oh, she’s more than seaworthy, sir, she’s a real gem. I’ll be proud to sail her with ye, Captain,” I said with a smile and a wink.
“She’s all but finished. Just a few more nails and a bit of paint, and she’ll be ready. I just want ye to know I saw ye and everything you’ve done to help. Now, get ye some grub before those sea dogs finish it off.” He looked down and that curl grew at the corner of his mouth. I could barely see it anymore since he’d grown his beard. His amber mustache draped almost completely over both his lips, but I always saw his smile in his eyes.
“That means the world to me, Captain.” I was beaming at him, and I nodded and started to go when I felt his palm press lightly against my chest through my vest and binding.
“Tonight, our cove?” he whispered aside to me from the corner of his mouth.
“Yes, or I’ll feed ye to the fish,” I said with a laugh. After months of strenuous labor, my body was hard and strong. I knew every inch of this vessel and could climb the ratlines faster than any other lad on the crew. Yes, it’s true, I raced them all. Of course, they cited my youth and wiry stature as an advantage, but to me, they could use any excuse they had and I’d still be the fastest. I was, however, so ready for her to be finished. I couldn’t wait to get to sea and start hunting, but I also wanted to get on with spending as much time as I possibly could with Rasmus before we sailed. The knowing that by dusk I’d be draped in his waiting arms made those long hot days worthwhile.
With every evening we spent watching the sun set and the moon rise, I could see his desire for me deepen. His touch was determined and less fearful of exploring me, and his kisses were wet and seething with hunger. Somehow though, he always managed to find his head and stop before shattering that vow he’d made to bits.
He spoke of how well I’d sewn his wound and encouraged me to learn the ways of doctoring, in hopes that would be my place aboard ship. Yet he always wandered back to his true wish, which was that I’d just set those thoughts aside and be his wife and the mother of his children.
“Razz,” I said as I peeled myself away from him and sat up from the blanket in the sand to breathe. “Sometimes, I wish we never had to leave this beach.”
He laid there for a few moments, finding his own breath, and then leaned upon an elbow. His blank expression worried me until at last he spoke, “What would you say if I told ye you’d never have to leave this cove if ye didn’t want to?”
“Well, what will we do, pitch a tent?” I sniped at him and folded my arms.
He rolled up and sat facing me and chuckled. “Do you honestly think for one moment I’d allow my wife to live in a tent?” He mimicked my actions and sat straight-backed and folded his arms as well. “What sort of man do ye think I am, lass?”
“Well, I…” I stammered and looked into his light blue eyes, and I knew what kind of man he was. I pressed my lips together to hold in a laugh and gave him a smirk.
“I was going to surprise ye, but there’s no surprising ye. Now that the repairs and such are close to being finished on the ship, I’ll be building ye a house of yer very own right here.”
“You’re going to do it, Razz?” I said, sitting up from where moments before I had laid back in his arms, as he spoke of our own little home.
“How can I not? I can’t keep carrying on this way with you forever. It isn’t healthy for a man to get all stirred up night after night and have to jump in the sea to cool off. Besides, I can’t be bringing my bride to a ship, now can I?” He laughed and pulled me back into his arms. “Our own little love nest, aye?” He pumped his bushy red eyebrows and winked with a devilish grin.
“How long will it take?” I asked him as I pushed a long lock of that glowing fire away from his face and behind his ear.
“I figure I’ll round up a bunch of the lads from the Demon, and with a little gold and rum…the rum at the end of the day of course…we could have it put together in a couple of weeks. Which reminds me, by the way,” he said as he sat forward and reached into the pouch on his belt. “Stand up for me now, lass. If I’m going to take this leap, I’m going to need your hand.”
“What is it?” I said as I climbed to my feet.
I watched as he stood up in front of me and took my hand. “I’ve never even come close to doing anything this brave, Ivory Shepard. So, if I promise to give ye my love, my loyalty, and my big body to take care of ye, all I ask is your promise not to steal my heart and run off with it.” He knelt down on one knee in the sand before me and slid onto my finger a simple, but beautiful, gold band with one small, perfect white pearl. The pearl was laid into the band as part of the ring, not set on top as most rings were.
“Wait, does this mean…” I paused.
“It means I must have lost my mind, but there’s not another woman alive I’d rather lose it for. Will ye be my wife today, tomorrow, and for as long as ye can stand me?” he asked as he raised his eyes to meet mine and then reached again into that pouch and slipped the most beautiful jade bracelet on my wrist and tied it closed. Between the smooth stones of my favorite color, which were each about a half an inch in diameter, were small seashells. I knew before he even told me that they were shells he himself had collected and hand-picked.
“I’m frightened. What if I’m a terrible wife and won’t make you happy? There’s no chance I’ll run away with your heart, but I’m afraid I’ll not handle it well. You know how I am, Razz,” I said as my eyes beamed at his beautiful gifts for only a second before I reached out and took his splendid face in my hands and waited for one of us to say something—anything.
“You are my pearl. I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you. My heart is as big as my fist, and that’s a lot of heart to handle. I believe it can take any punishment you might put it through. But the point is, it’s a risk I’m willing to take,” he finally said.
I fell to my knees in front of him and shouted, “Yes!” again and again as he kissed my face from cheek to cheek, then my forehead to my chin, and then he swept me on top of him on the blanket. His hands pulled me so tightly against him that I began to fear what our first time together might be like. I was afraid the passion he’d suppressed for so long would leave me as no more than a sail battered by a hurricane. I panicked when I felt his hands sliding inside the back of my breeches and gathering my shirt between his fingers. I gasped and jumped off of him.
“What are you doing?”
He leaned upon one elbow and smiled at me. “I believed we’d crossed a threshold tonight, lass. I suppose I should have asked for your permission before I tried to remove your clothes.” He laughed.
“I don’t want to ruin this perfect evening, but I’m not ready yet. I thought I was, but I’m not. I promise, when I am, you’ll be the first to know.”
I knew immediately by the time I was back at the Chandler’s estate and tucked away in my bed, I’d regret this decision. In the end, waiting until I knew the time was right far outweighed a momentary leap over a line in the sand that I could never cross back over. Making love had now become a decision I wanted to make with the greatest of care. Having thrown myself at him before, only to be rejected, I didn’t want to ever rush things with him again.
Rasmus, the ever-patient, ever-strong and constant, wouldn’t be shaken by this rejection. I’d seen him at his best and at his worst and every way in between, and never once did I see any mood or emotion concealed. He’d have never tried to manipulate me through false sentiment or behavior to make me feel I’d disappointed him. I’d thought for a moment I had when he sat up and fell silent, staring at the lagoon but almost instantly, I knew the guilt was mine to bear. He carried on as usual, snuffing out the fire and gathering our things to head for home. I turned and looked back at this beautiful setting and imagined our little cottage. It didn’t take long before I could walk through the door.
Within a week, our quaint home near the beach was well under construction. All of the repairs to the Demon were complete, and she was like a shiny piece of gold. Rasmus had made some modifications, but for the most part, after having been careened, cleaned, and all signs of battle now nothing more than a memory, she was the finest lady in the harbor and looking for a capable crew.
After the battle with the Thunder Cay, some of the younger hands moved on to find work on land. They weren’t pirates as we knew pirates to be, and they certainly weren’t looking for a fight. Rasmus was a captain, not a jailer, and he still to this day refused to name himself as such. Piracy wasn’t in his blood; it came by him through an injection of betrayal and fate, and a man this mighty and absolute wasn’t going to be defined by his circumstances forever.
Unfortunately, I believed he loved me too much to deny me anything I wanted…I wanted the sea. I wanted to explore every aspect of discovering where it would take me, and most of all, I wanted to bring down every name in Barclay’s secret catalog of shame, and I wanted to do it with the man I loved.
Rasmus held tightly to the book and kept it hidden away. I believed he was afraid I’d go running off alone after them, but that wasn’t going to happen. I struggled each day aboard the Demon not to seek it out and memorize every last ship and captain, as well as the young women. Nearly three months had passed since we took down Thunder Cay, and I was aching to sail and get on with our mission. Rasmus wanted us married as soon as possible and refused to set sail with me again until I agreed to the doctoring and keeping what was now my short, scruffy blond head and every other part of me concealed. He also reminded me that I was never to enter his cabin alone. Having not yet felt the man’s love upon my body, I easily agreed.
Thanks for stopping by, and to Peggy for sharing her work with us.
I had the pleasure of reading Cadence of Consequences early, given that I was lucky enough to beta read the second novel in The Chronicles of Xannia series. To be completely honest, after reading the first, I jumped at the chance. You can read my review of Time’s Tempest here.
So, before I share my review of this great adventure, here’s a little more about the book itself.
She risks losing her life above-ground, in the city she loves, and for what? Possibly harming the innocent if she remains hidden below…
Trapped in a foreign Underground world, Taya battles inner demons and alienation as the man she promised to protect… to love… remains firmly planted in the government’s cross-hairs; hell bent on fulfilling his destiny to change the world. Constantly accosted by a fanatic sect of the Followers of Light, praising her as a false goddess in a religion she never truly believed in, Taya searches for something to return a sense of meaning and purpose in her life. As her skepticism for the impending coup grows so too does Gerrund’s lack of trust, undermining not only her sense of self-worth but their ability to overthrow a corrupt government.
Even as Taya desperately works to establish a communication network spanning the Deserts in an effort to keep a promise she never should have made, her past interferes causing any sense of the future to spiral out of control. It is up to Taya to fix herself and her fractured relationships in order to embrace her destiny and help two very different men attempt to alter the course of history.
Cadence of Consequences – Review
In the first book of the series we were introduced to Xannia, and got a real feel for this new and exciting world. We joined Taya on an epic adventure as she led Dezmind and a group of his followers across the Deserts. We saw Taya use her expertise as a guide to keep the group alive, and learned the origins of Dezmind’s prophecy. These revelations led to a different fight for survival and culminated in an explosive finale – one which made Taya a target.
In Cadence of Consequences we journey with Taya below ground. Separated from Dezmind, lost and determined to return to her duties topside, Taya faces a multitude of challenges. This chapter in the series packs an emotional punch, which cements a reader’s loyalty to Taya and her friends. Not only does she suffer a crisis of identity, this sense of loss is exacerbated by a group of fanatics known as the Followers of Light. They plague Taya mercilessly, delaying her journey into a renewed sense of self.
Despite the turmoil, Taya’s true personality shines through and her skills are as admirable as ever. I particularly enjoyed the differing points of view within Cadence of Consequences; both the scenes in the Deserts, where a group remains, and of Dezmind’s own struggles in a changing world.
It is a story of unrest, fear and mistrust. But it is also a tale of love, discovery and Taya’s interminable strength. As a reader I was rooting for her. I’m drawn to the connection she has with Dezmind, and though the two are apart in this particular adventure, the author managed to show us the link they share in a variety of ways.
The pacing of the story is one which allows a reader to settle in and appreciate the journey. It’s a definite page turner, a book you’ll find hard to put down. As with the first in the series, Cadence of Consequences is a rollercoaster ride, and it is one which will stay with you. I can’t wait to join Taya and Dezmind for their next adventure.
I float under a clear lid, in a sealed grey metal box filled with red-tinged water. Holding my breath, wanting desperately to feel the pain of my marks release, but my gills refuse to open. I heave my body around in circles as the metallic cuffs rip into the tender flesh of my wrists and ankles. A thick, muffled, tick-tick-tick ebbs through the water. I try kicking out with my bound feet to free myself. My heart pounds in my ears, even as the ticking echoes through my brain. My lungs burn.
A faint pin-point of light flashes somewhere above me. Help me! I scream in my mind. My neck goes limp; my chin drifts to my chest. Help me – Four bubbles of air escape from my nose. The light disappears as the metal walls push in toward me…
Gasping for air, I jerked backwards. The island stool fell away and I smacked my head on the edge of the breakfast bar as I crashed to the floor, cracking my hip against the stone floor.
I opened my eyes, but they refused to adjust; the room remained black. Grasping at the smooth floor, I pulled myself forward on my stomach until the glow from the timer on the coffee pot became visible through the pulsating ache above my right eye. My chest constricted against my lungs before I managed another gasp, taking in oceans of air. Great sobs wracked my over-taxed body. In the pool of dim light illuminating the kitchen floor, I curled into a ball and wept.
That feeling of helplessness and confinement clung to my skin like cobwebs. The nightmares were evolving and coming more often now. What hurt even more was the reminder of Gerrund’s words after leaving me alone in my new apartment for the first time: They found you once, they’ll find you again. No amount of body art is going to change that. They know you.
He’d claimed that the Kronik’s Special Agents evolved from the CTF just as I had. That my employer’s knowledge of my actions, reactions, body language and vocal patterns made me easy prey in the wrong company.
Being abducted and tortured in the Warehouse showed that I wasn’t invincible after all… that maybe Gerrund and Dez had a point about it being safer for me to remain Underground – but the only things this cage reinforced were failure and susceptibility to the whims of others. The truth serum had been in my veins… if Gerrund’s team hadn’t saved me, could I have held out against it?
Sitting on the cold floor, against the half-wall of the kitchen island, I leaned my head back as the last remnants of tears dried in salty streaks along my cheeks. I sat there, in the dark, afraid to move and ignite an electric shock-wave in my head. My arms hung limp beside me, my legs at odd angles on the floor, as my breath came in shallow, uneven wisps.
I had no idea how long I’d been there. It was obviously still twilight, so I hadn’t slept for long – just long enough. The more time that passed, the steadier my breathing became. The longer I waited, the clearer my mind got; until a plan formed.
As my brain eagerly welcomed the onslaught of budding thoughts, the feeling slowely returned to my fingers and toes. This was what I was trained to do: identify the situation, analyse it, deconstruct it, and plan for the offensive.
I had to stop the dreams. If I didn’t, they’d kill me. I couldn’t go on like this. It’s time to get mobile again – gain some semblance of control. Reaching forward, I rested on my hands and knees before crawling into my bedroom.
I sat beside the nightstand with my back against the bed. Yanking the drawer out, I spilled the contents on the floor in front of me. My eyes finally adjusted to the dark. This simple function took three times longer than usual, and had never really worked since the nightmares started. My half-Talian abilities were rendered useless.
I sifted through the mess on the floor: pens, paper, a book, some loose hair clips, and a couple of small plastic containers… until my wrist bumped the empty bottle I searched for.
M.J. Moores began her career as an English teacher in Ontario, Canada. Her love of storytelling and passion for writing has stayed with her since the age of nine. M. J. relishes tales of adventure and journeys of self-realization. She enjoys writing in a variety of genres but speculative fiction remains her all time favourite. M.J. is a regular contributor to Authors Publish Magazine and she runs an Emerging Writers website called Infinite Pathways where she offers editing services and platform building opportunities. Her debut novel Time’s Tempest is currently available in print and e-book with Book 2 launching September 28th, 2015.
It is my absolute pleasure to welcome Geoff Le Pard to the blog today. I met Geoff in person earlier this year, and he is as genuine as his blogging personality would suggest. If you caught my earlier post you’ll know that Geoff is running a blog book tour at the moment. The more I learn about My Father and Other Liars, the more I look forward to reading it.
The treatment of the adult orphan.
When I started writing My Father and Other Liars I had been thinking about the grieving process. My own father died in 2005 and, while his death came naturally as the end of a process the family lived through, I was intrigued by how the impact of grief worked. I vividly recall the moment I was told he had been diagnosed with cancer. I was sitting in my office, about 3.30 in the afternoon when the phone rang. Mum. She never rang me at work. I knew Dad was in for tests but her news hit me like a set of punches. It wasn’t a long call and by the end of it the initial shock became numbness. I sat staring at the conference table at the other end of my room and realised I couldn’t talk, not without breaking down. I was 47, head of this that and what have you and breaking down would have been embarrassing, humiliating. I got up, walked to the toilets and shut myself in a cubicle.
And that was it. An hour later I was off home to pick up the car and drive to my parents. From there on until well past his actual death a year later and well past the funeral I shed not a tear, felt rather divorced from all the emotion around me. He died in March 2005. In August I cried for the first time. I’ve had those tearing up moments since, never when I expect them and always difficult to deal with.
I talked to a friend about this, about how no one really seemed to understand this late flowering grief. He said something to the effect that being an adult orphan isn’t taken seriously. It’s expected, parents dying before their children. When that occurs at an expected age, people understand your loss, are sympathetic. But they expect you to be ‘grown up’ and ‘get over it’. Why? That’s what I asked myself. I read an excellent book ‘The Orphaned Adult’ by Alexander Levy. In it he takes a series of case studies to examine how grief impacts us as adults when we lose one or more parents.
I wanted to incorporate this theme into my book, since it was about fathers and my father’s death was still quite raw. My main character, Maurice Oldham is in his thirties and has lost his mother, blaming himself for her death. His father is also lost to him, but emotionally not because he’s dead. The book begins very shortly after Maurice finds his father – he believed him dead for many years – and he is angry and, in many senses, grieving for both parents. Finding his father alive robs him of his grief and that causes anger and a different grief in its own right. One of the themes throughout the book is how Maurice tries to come to terms with his father’s continued existence and the betrayals he feels at his father’s hands.
When Mum died five years later, the process was as erratic and difficult. I stood at the graveside and felt an awful heavy lump. This was truly it. Both parents had gone and the tangible connection to my past, my youth, my ancestry gone with it. I tried to bring out some of that in My Father and Other Liars, that linkage and to see in Maurice’s stuttering steps towards a reconciliation with his father the attempt to postpone that loss of one’s own living history.
My Father and Other Liars is the second book by Geoff Le Pard. Published in August it is available as an ebook and paperback here:
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls.
I’m going to try out a new idea, and hopefully some of you scribblers will be willing to come on board. The Absolute Indie is not only for self-publishing newbies, but also for Indies who have limited or zero budgets. Proofreading, cover design, formatting for Kindle or CreateSpace or any of the other bits that go into the publishing of a book can be expensive, and although all of these things are covered in the book, not everyone is keen to try. This is where swopsies can come into play. I’ve made a dedicated page for this here, and if any of you would like to participate or have any suggestions for the format that will be fabulous.
I suggest that you say what services you would be interested in swopping, and what services you would swop them for. I reckon you can never have too many proofreaders, so I’ll…
I recently had the pleasure of reading Doubling Back – A Story of Synn (The Foxes of Synn, Book 3) by Rose Fischer. Needless to say I loved the story, and fell for the charming and talented fox, Aldra Malimore. So imagine my excitement when I got to interview Aldra! Now I get to share that with you.
Aldra Malimore’s hope for a career as a sorcery scholar is over. Now, she’s working as waitress in the capital city of Arcanion and trying to resist the strange pull she feels toward Sorrell DeGray. When she stumbles on a thief with advanced technology that mimics the behavior of Synn’s color magic, it’s Sorrell she must turn to. But will trusting Sorrell be a mistake or a new beginning?
Interview with Aldra Malimore (The Foxes of Synn)
Mel: You trained for several years as a sorceress, can you tell us about your experience?
Aldra: In the Northern Realms, you have to apply to one of the schools. There are seven. If you’re wealthy, a teacher or mentor affiliated with one of the schools comes to you, or if you’re poor but really lucky, you can get a scholarship to live at the schools. I was fortunate because two of my parents are already sorcerers, so I had a mentor. He taught me some things and helped me design a personal curriculum taking different classes at various schools. I was also allowed to incorporate classes from Earth. Sorcery is an interdisciplinary field. You study magic and a variety of other things. We know how the weather works, and chemical processes, and geology, and things like that. We can combine that knowledge with Colored magic to do things. Lifespans are longer, especially among people who know magic, and that puts a different perspective on continuing education. You have to be able to do a little bit of everything, including employable trade skills. Magic doesn’t make money, though some well-known magicians have noble patrons. Most sorcerers have more learned skills than innate powers and abilities.
I guess we’re more “the people with special knowledge” than “the people with special powers” although we have powers that others don’t. Witches have inborn powers to manipulate nature, so they don’t always need as much technical knowledge.
Magicians work in groups and there’s more of an academic emphasis than a standard “adventurer” one like your readers would probably expect. The degree I have, called an Intermediate Holdership, typically takes between 8-10 years to acquire. It’s worth about as much career wise as an Associate’s Degree on Earth, and once you get it, you need a research grant and approval from one of the schools to go to the next level.
Mel: That’s quite an educational system. It has me all the more intrigued by the magic in Synn and the commitment to your craft. In Doubling Back you mentioned a few spells and, I’m curious, what’s your favourite?
Aldra: Synn has several different magic systems, so “spell” can mean a lot of different things. The main type of magic that’s really widespread is Color magic. That’s what you saw in Doubling Back. I have a hard time picking favorites, but in Color magic there are styles of spell more than stock phrases or rituals to perform. A spell is like a painting or sculpture. You learn the technical skills and history; you study memorable ones, but when you’re working with magic, you make your own. I do have a few of my father’s spells that he let me modify for practice when I was younger. I still use those because I’m sentimental, I guess. Usually that’s frowned upon, like plagiarism. I like experimenting with combinations and incorporating woodworking. One of my nephews does magic with words and runes. It’s really interesting, older magic than the Color practices.
Mel: It does sound fascinating, but then, mastering Color magic must certainly have its challenges. You shared a little about the different ways to travel across worlds, one being by magic mirror. How does this work exactly, can you share anything about the fairies without giving too much away?
Aldra: Sure. The mirror fairies live in a transitional dimension that exists between Synn and other places. You can go in and out of Mirrorveld through a magic mirror, and once you’re there, you need to pay a guide to lead you to the right exit. They don’t let very many humans in, and even foxes have to be vetted before we’re allowed to come and go freely. My father, Thad, is friends with Nyx and Eos, the Queens of the Skies there, so we’re allowed more leeway, but the queens are not people you’d want to cross, so we’re always careful there.
Mel: In that case, I’d want you at my back if venturing to Mirrorveld! You’ve had various experiences in the past few years. What is the most memorable?
Aldra: Ummmmmmm…Honestly, the most memorable was getting mugged, because I didn’t even know I was being mugged until I was halfway on the ground. But that’s probably not what you’re asking about. I lived with a merchant family in the city for a while and learned their trade. Worked on a riverboat. I’ll go back to that someday. Semi-dated a princess, memorable because it was horrid…
Mel: I get the feeling the less said about that the better! I’m sure those experiences influenced you, and it’s clear you feel a great deal of responsibility – especially when it comes to protecting people. Did your fathers influence this desire to make the world a better place?
Aldra: *laughs* The less said the better, though I’m sure someone will decide to write that story eventually. Did my fathers influence my social concerns? Indirectly, maybe. My fathers are thousands of years old. They were all victims of exploitation when they were younger, and I think they feel like they’ve paid their dues and done their time getting involved in world affairs. For most of my life, we just lived on our mountain, visited the city once in a while, went shopping on Earth, and didn’t get involved in causes, because that’s how my parents want to live. Micah used to be involved in the world-literacy movement in the more recent past, but he retired from it to build their magic greenhouse and help manage the Rangers who keep the family forests safe. Diana represents us in the Royal court during the summer and fall months, but that’s just a game to her. The only goal is to keep the family in a position where we have leverage with minimum involvement in any conflicts. It’s all about maintaining equilibrium so we can be as non-involved as possible, and I think it’s boring. Everybody else says “it’s not important as long as the family’s safe.” I can accept it from my parents. They’ve all lost their families before. Their priorities are different. From my sisters, it’s harder to relate to. Anyway, that’s not how I feel about it. I don’t want anybody to suffer the way my parents suffered. I want to be involved. I grew up with all these priveliges. If I can help somebody, why shouldn’t I? I want to contribue something meaningful to the world.
Mel: You’re right. Why shouldn’t you. I agree with that philosophy, and admire your commitment. The ability to absorb energy is a wonderful gift. I know you battle against the draw of shadow magic – is this a unqiue gift within the family?
Aldra: Thank you. Yes and no. Foxes are… Well, the only way I can think of to explain it is “energy vampires,” but that’s an oversimplification. We gain sustenance from intimate relationships and contact. The energy most foxes need isn’t just the color magic you saw me absorb; it has to be personal energy from another being. Young kits get what they need from cuddling with their parents, but as we get older, most of us can only get it from sex. Micah is part of a plant species that absorbs ambient energy of all kinds. Sunlight, colors, whatever’s there. Its autonomic, similar to photosynthesis; he can’t pick and choose. On Thad’s side, there’s a family gift for being able to draw shadow magic out of people who’ve been possessed, or release ghosts, but I’m the only one who can ingest the shadows or pick what magic I take in.
Mel: That sounds like a great deal of responsibility, and dangerous too. You’re all unique, which is a good thing, but it must be difficult not being able to change into a fox as your father and some of your siblings do. Do you gain support from your family?
Aldra: Some foxes can change and some can’t. Some only have two forms; some have three. Some have the upper body of a werefox and a fish tail like mermaids. I shouldn’t let it upset me as much as I do. It’s really not a big deal if I’m thinking clearly. The problem is, once I get upset, I’m upset about everything, and I think the reason it bothers me is that I have so little in common with my family. That is one of the most obvious things, but it’s a lot more about how we think differently and have different interests and values. I feel like an alien speaking some strange dialect that only has minor similarities to whatever language they’re speaking. They’re wonderful people and great about practical help if you want to learn something or there’s a problem. There’s always someone to spy for your back you up in an emergency, but for anything emotional, I’m more likely to go to my wife — I mean, my girlfriend — I mean…okay, spoiler. Sorry. >.<
Mel: Oops, let’s skip over that part! I can relate to those feelings, even if I’m not a fox; all families are challenging! But I’m glad to hear you have someone to rely on for emotional support.
Thank you for talking to me today, Aldra. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning more about you, your family, and how things work in Synn. Taking the journey with you (in a manner of speaking) in Doubling Back was a pleasure.
So now it’s over to my readers, who I’m sure are as charmed by you as I am.
If you have any questions for Aldra, or indeed the talented Rose Fischer, please leave them in the comments below.