Author Spotlight – J. S. Frankel

Today we’re welcoming author J. S. Frankel. Check out his work below.

About the Author

J.S. Frankel was born in Toronto, Canada and grew up there, receiving his tertiary education from the University of Toronto and graduating with a double major in English Literature and Political Science.

After working at Gray Coach Lines for a grand total of three years, he came to Japan at the age of twenty-six and has been there ever since, teaching English to any and all students who enter his hallowed school of learning.

In 1997, he married Akiko Koike. He, his wife and his two children, Kai and Ray, currently reside in Osaka. His hobbies include weight training, watching movies when his writing schedule allows, and listening to various kinds of music.

His novels, all for the YA set, include Twisted, Lindsay Versus the Marauders and it’s sequels, Lindsay, Jo, and the Tree of Forever, and Lindsay, Jo and the Well of Nevermore, all courtesy of Regal Crest Enterprises. He has also written the Catnip series (five novels), Mr. Taxi, The Titans of Ardana and its sequel, The Titans of Ardana 2: Battlefield, along with Picture (Im)perfect and more novels, courtesy of DevineDestinies.com.

Future projects for Devine Destinies include the final novel in the Titans trilogy, the final novel in the Just Another Quiet… trilogy, The Undernet, the re-release of Star Maps, and more. He is also the author of The Menagerie and The Nightmare Crew trilogy, all courtesy of Finch Books.

Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessSFrankel

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JS-Frankel-AUTHOR-1458667077729037/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4859674.J_S_Frankel

 

THEUNDERNET2AZRAEL

In the depths of the Undernet, finding the light is an almost impossible task.

Milt Edwards, survivor of an incident that almost claimed his life six months previously, is back. He and his girlfriend, Roberta (Robbie) Jones, suffer from PTSD, attend counseling sessions, and try to work through their mental anguish.

Nothing helps, but then a friend of Milt’s is killed by the same person who designed the Undernet–Azrael. Milt faces his fears, once again joins forces with the FBI in order to find out and stop Azrael, and he is paired with a rookie agent, Nasraana Shaksy, an American Muslim who has her own battles to fight.

Together, they stumble upon a child trafficking ring, and Milt comes face to face with monsters of the worst kind–those who walk around in everyday society. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse with Azrael begins, and Milt soon learns who the predator is, and who is the prey.

Find it on Amazon

Devine Destinies. http://www.devinedestinies.com/978-1-4874-1922-6-azrael/?search=Azrael&sub_category=1

Amazon: ISBN:978-1-4874-1922-6

 

 

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Building Your Own World

Land's EndThere’s an entire universe out there, and we’ve only explored a little bit of it. However, our imaginations are rich with other worlds, even if we can’t hop on a ship and visit them in the ‘real’ world. Below are just a few things to consider when creating your own fictional world. It isn’t an exhaustive list by any stretch, but it’s a place to get started if you’re unsure of where to begin.

 

Culture

We have a world full of various cultures and languages, and there’s nothing wrong with borrowing a bit from existing cultures to populate your world. However, your cultures need to have their own elements as well. For example, a culture based on Ancient Greece could have a king as the ruling body, or, perhaps, they have a railroad or electricity. It’s also perfectly acceptable to blend cultures to come up with something unique.

Grevared has a number of human cultures as well as cultures for other species. They’re all different in some way, but there are also similarities. Why? Because when cultures encounter each other, they share. For example, the demons of Jitradena have a strict set of civil laws and an Academe, in part because of their contact with others. Those of Pistofficle maintain a more demonic-type culture where death in the streets is common. Since visitors are at risk just by entering the city, Pistofficle has had far less contact with others, so the influence is much less.

 

Religion

Most cultures have some kind of belief system, even if that system posits that deities don’t exist. Much like with cultures, there are plenty of religions and mythologies from which to create one, or several, for your world. Do a bit of research and take what you need to create a belief structure your characters can follow. This will also give you the opportunity to explore various holidays, though not all celebrations have to stem from religion.

Grevared has several religions. In the Xaggarene Empire, the Arcana Maximus worships the snake goddess Inyokamor. As the Arcana Maximus keeps itself involved in the politics of the empire, it’s the predominant religion and plays a role in creating and enforcing government policies. While the Arcana exists in the other countries, it isn’t as powerful, and other beliefs stand equal to it.

 

Government

Everything from a small village to a globe-covering empire needs some form of government, even if it’s only reason is to be torn down. Think about your culture and base your government on the needs and beliefs of the people. Determine if your government is benign or oppressive. How do the people fair under its rule? Are there social programs? Is there one group that’s suppressed more than others? What is allowed and forbidden within the realm? These are just a few things to consider.

In Grevared, government differs according to country and no two are exactly alike. Again, remember that cultures that interact are going to share, so there’s nothing wrong with some crossover.

 

Currency and Trade

Currency isn’t necessarily a big deal when it comes to creating a world unless you plan to use it in your story. For those who don’t want to create a currency, something like ‘coin’ works just fine. However, it does give the world a touch of realism to give the currency its own name.

Trade, on the other hand, matters a bit more. Most countries have some form of economic relationship with other countries. With differing climates and land forms, it’s almost impossible for any but the largest countries to produce everything they need themselves. Even then, there’s some benefit to trading with others. Consider the technological and agricultural traits of each country in your world to determine what a country might have that others want. This also gives the opportunity to introduce large-scale conflict in the story.

An example of this in Grevared is the country of Corleon. This country is known for its horses, and the animals are its chief commodity. They run wild through the plains, and they’re used in almost every capacity imaginable.

 

Education

We hear a lot about education in the modern world, and fictional worlds are no different. This doesn’t mean that your world must have a public education system or a string of universities, but there needs to be some way for the common people to gain the knowledge they need to survive. Is it an apprentice system? Are children taught at home by their parents? Are there village schools? Not all of your countries have to use the same system, and it will give a bit of diversity to your world if they don’t.

Magic and Technology

Some fictional worlds thrive on magic, while others are more focused on technology. A lot of worlds use both. There’s no law that says these systems must be codified, but it’s something to consider if you plan to use them in your world. Is there a magical guild or school? Is magic something common, or are there only a few who practice it? Is it accepted or shunned? Do people travel by railroad? Are there spaceships? These are some questions to get you started thinking about the magic and technology in your world.

To give an example, in Grevared, railroads are present in almost all countries. However, the Xaggarene Empire embraces technology and somewhat shuns magic, while E’ma Thalas embraces magic and shuns technology.

 

Races

Who populates your world? Are they humans, elves, aliens, talking zebras? That’s entirely up to you. Spend some time thinking about it, and if you choose to add other races to your populace, there are many legends from all over the world that can help you learn a bit about the ones you’re considering. Research into folklore can help you bring a race to life and give them that certain something that sets them apart from all others.

In Grevared, humans live along side angels, demons, elves, and dwarves among others. Each species has its own set of traditions, but they’ve interacted in many instances, so there are things among them that are shared. Take, for example, the demons of Jitradena mentioned above. While they are still very much demons, much of their violent nature is held in check until certain celebrations. Other races aren’t really welcomed to Jitradena, but they do visit, and they aren’t harmed. Mostly.

 

Flora and Fauna

Plants and animals are a large part of just about any world. Look out your window and see what kinds are right outside. They aren’t there just for our pleasure; they also provide food and materials for clothing and shelter. This is something to consider when creating your own world. Even if it’s a world that is entirely urban, the people still have to eat, and there must be some means of cleaning the air (which is the function of plants). Furniture has to be made out of something, as do homes. Consider how this is done to determine what kinds of flora and fauna are needed.

In the world of Grevared, there are some recognizable animals. Cats roam, and dogs (called n’kitas) are faithful companions. The country of Corleon is known for its horses, but a similar creature, called an elecon, is common in E’ma Thalas. Chocolate (kokolat) is known to all lands, but the assaberry has no ‘real’ world equivalent. The same is true of the spitmoller, a small creature that lives in sewers and tunnels, or the ghighet, a pest creature that can also be a pet.

Plants and animals unique to your world can give it a feel and reality of its own that separates it from our world. Even changing the colors of common animals can help to distinguish your world from ours.

Maps

One of the best ways to get to know your world is to make a map. Campaign Cartographer is a good software for mapmaking but drawing it out yourself is also rewarding. I enjoy doing both, even though my artistic skills leave a lot to be desired.

Making a map gives you a chance to get to know all the little places your characters visit and determine the best types of agriculture, culture, etc. to use for each place. It helps you see the weather patterns and how the land affects all other aspects of life. It also gives you a way to see the world in front of you, to help it become more ‘real.’

 

Building a world of your own can be a rewarding experience, whether you share it with others or not. It’s a way to explore the depths of your imagination and create a place you can visit whenever you desire. It also opens opportunities for research and learning about other cultures and beliefs.

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

 

 

Author Spotlight – Linda Strader

promo 1Today we’re shining the spotlight on author Linda Strader. Find out about her new release below.

 

 

About the Author

Originally from Syracuse, New York, Ms. Strader moved to Prescott, Arizona with her family in 1972. In 1976, she became one of the first women on a U.S. Forest Service fire crew in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson.

 Summers of Fire: A Memoir of Adventure, Love and Courage is her first book, scheduled for publication on May 1st, 2018 by Bedazzled Ink Publishing. She is currently working on a prequel.

 

SummersofFire-HiResAbout the Book

Linda Strader is one of the first women hired on a fire crew with the U.S. Forest Service. A naïve twenty-year-old in the mid 1970s, she discovers fighting wildfires is challenging—but in a man’s world, they become only one of the challenges she faces. Battling fire is exhilarating, yet exhausting; the discrimination real and sometimes in her face.

Summers of Fire is an Arizona to Alaska adventure story that honestly recounts the seven years she ventures into the heart of fires that scorch the land, vibrant friendships that fire the soul, and deep love that ends in devastating heartbreak.

In addition to writing, Ms. Strader is a landscape architect, certified arborist, and watercolor artist. She currently lives in the same area where her Forest Service career began.

Connect with the Author

Blog: https://summersoffirebook.blogspot.com/

Publisher: http://binkbooks.bedazzledink.com/

Amazon:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Summers-Fire-Memoir-Linda-Strader/dp/1945805668/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518614536&sr=1-1&keywords=Linda+Strader

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summers-Fire-Memoir-Linda-Strader/dp/1945805668/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520767588&sr=1-1&keywords=Linda+Strader

Writing Update

Ethan VintageDoes anyone know of a twelve year old boy who isn’t sometimes a pain? I raised three of them and taught sixth grade, so I know that age can be challenging. Well, Ethan is no different.

I’d intended to make all three of The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III books into one book and tell the story from start to finish, but, apparently, Ethan has other ideas. He just can’t seem to stay out of trouble long enough to make one book, so it looks like I’ll be keeping it as a trilogy and just make the three books a set inside the larger series.

All that being said, I’ve finished the first draft rewrite of book one and am in the revision process. I’m hoping to have that book out in June, if Ethan behaves himself and does what he’s supposed to.

Thanks to all those who’ve supported Ethan up until this point. I hope you’ll continue to check back and see how things are coming. For those who like to be part of the process, I’ve got a page on my website with some possible covers. I’d love some opinions on them.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

Ethan Grimley Rewrites

Land's EndI posted a couple of weeks ago that, now that life has settled down a bit, I wanted to rewrite the Ethan Grimley stories and make them into one book. I’m doing this for two reasons. 1. I think it’ll make the story better, and I’m becoming more familiar with the world. 2. I had an idea for another book that wouldn’t work in a series about one character. Rewriting opens up the possibility for others to take the spotlight.

So far, the rewrite has gone well. I think the story has a lot more depth, and I think Ethan is easier to get to know. He’s still a twelve-year-old boy with all the stuff that comes with that, but he’s more real now. There’s also a lot more about Land’s End and the world of Grevared, things I think help bring it to life.

All that being said, below is a bit of the first chapter of the rewrite. It hasn’t been edited yet, so bear that in mind. I would love feedback.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

 

Ethan Grimley Chapter One Snippet

 

The chimes of the Arcana Maximus echoed through the town of Land’s End. The sound rose and fell on the wind, a tinny, mechanical sound both soothing and painful. The large, wooden doors at the front of the school house burst open to spew forth boys and boys of all ages. Their shouts and laughter rivaled the noise of the bells as they tumbled into the open air after being cooped up in the classroom since morning.

“See you tomorrow!”

“Let’s go to the square!”

“Hey, Ethan!” Corbin Clearwater called.

Ethan Grimley, a boy of average height with shaggy brown hair and brilliant green eyes, stopped in mid-run and turned to face his friend. He waited while Corbin jogged to where he stood, school books in hand.

“Let’s go to the park with the others,” Corbin puffed. He was shorter than Ethan and had a pudgy face and curly black hair. His eyes glowed golden behind a pair of spectacles that had been mended too many times. “They’re getting a kickball game together.”

“They play every afternoon,” Ethan replied with a sigh. “And every day Boron’s team stomps us.” Ethan shook his head. “I don’t wanna play today.” He turned away then looked back at Corbin. “Besides, I promised Ma I’d help her with deliveries this evening.”

Corbin pushed his spectacles up on his nose and shifted his school books to the other hand. “Aw, come on, Ethan. Just for a little bit.” The boy’s round face brightened. “Besides, today may be the day we beat Boron.”

Ethan laughed and shook his head. “You’re dreaming, Corb. It ain’t gonna happen.”

Corbin fell into step beside Ethan as the two headed down the long path from the school house. The Arcana Maximus, with its pointed spires behind an impenetrable stone wall, loomed behind them, and gravel crunched under their feet. Birds twitted, and a breeze brought the smell of growing things to their noses.

Barracks for the guards and city constabulary lined the curving road, while the large estates of the well-to-do stretched toward the town wall. Ethan and Corbin stepped off the road to let a horse drawn cart pass, then they continued on their way toward the center of town.

“You coming to the festival this Sixthday?” Corbin asked, his voice full of anticipation.

Ethan shrugged. “Probably. My Pa works for the town government, so we have to attend all town festivals.”

“Is your Ma gonna have a booth?” Corbin gave a little hop at the thought. “She makes the best cookies of anyone in town.”

Ethan laughed. “I’m sure she will.” His shoulders slumped. “And she’ll probably have me manning it all day while she and Pa do other stuff.”

“I’d love for my Ma to have a bakery.”

Ethan shook his head. “Naw, you’d spend all your time making deliveries instead of playing kickball.” As they neared the park, Ethan stopped and turned to face his friend. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ve gotta go.”

They said their good-byes, and Ethan took off at a trot. He reached the town square and slowed to a walk. Stalls lined the area around the fountain, and their owners hawked everything from fabric from the Xaggarene Empire to books printed by the Academe in Jitradena. People milled here and there, some simply enjoying the day while others perused the wares being sold.

The smell of people and horses floated on the air, and the scent of people clogged Ethan’s nose. It was always like this on market day, the middle day of the week, and Ethan was anxious to get through the crowd and away from the commotion. He was restless, like too much energy had built up in his muscles, and he wondered if maybe a game of kickball would bleed some of it away. Still, though, he had promised his mother he’d help her out, and she didn’t take kindly to him breaking his promises. Besides, once he’d hauled a heavy basket or pushed a cart all over Land’s End, he’d be plenty tired.

Ethan paused as he passed the fountain. A crowd had gathered there, some looking angry while others appeared frightened. They were talking among themselves, and Ethan moved closer to see what was going on.

“I tell you, I saw it,” an old man said. “It was coming up the lane just as pretty as you please.”

“Oh, Goddard, give it a rest.” This from the old woman by his side. “You didn’t see anything but yer own imagination.”

Ethan stood, puzzled, as another man spoke up. “Then what’s killing the n’kitas? Tell me that. All three of mine were found dead this morning, the life sucked right outta them.”

“Mine, too,” a woman replied. Ethan knew her from his mother’s bakery and rolled his eyes. She was always going on about something, and his mother had said more than once that the woman needed a good physician.

“All of you, that’s enough.”

Ethan backed away as the constable pushed his way through the crowd to stand beside the fountain. As much as he wanted to know what was going on, he didn’t want to be caught in a crowd that could turn into a mob at any moment, and he didn’t want to think about what his Ma would do if he were caught in the middle of some bru-ha-ha.

“Listen to me,” the constable continued. “Several of you have reported that your n’kitas were found dead. Now, before you all go off thinkin’ it’s something strange, give us a little time to look into it. It only happened this morning, and we’ve all been working all day to get to the bottom of it.”

“That’s not keeping our animals safe,” a woman shouted.

“And I need mine for hunting.” This from the man who’d first spoken, a rotund fellow with a long, gray mustache and a balding head.

The constable held up his hands. “I hear you, I do. And I already said we were looking into it. But the best thing you can do right now is head on home for dinner and lock your n’kitas inside. We’ll be patrolling the streets double tonight in case there’s an animal loose in town.”

The crowd grumbled, but most of them turned away and headed toward their homes. Ethan, too, moved away from the fountain and wove his way between the buildings on the eastern side of the square toward his own home. A chill slithered up his spine at the thought of some unknown creature roaming the town, and he was less than happy at the thought of having to carry food along empty lanes alone. If there was an animal, wouldn’t it be attracted to the smell of the bread and desserts? And what could it be? He didn’t know of any animals that ‘sucked the life’ out of something. Even spitmollers, who could spit poison almost two feet, used their teeth to tear. He’d heard tales about demons who could do that, of course—this was Moirena—but demons hadn’t come to Land’s End in years. Even the travelers from the port tended to be more human.

These thoughts tumbled through Ethan’s mind as he opened the door to the bakery. The aroma of bread and cookies assailed his nose, and he paused in the doorway to simply breathe them in.

“Ethan, is that you?” Eva Grimley called from the kitchen.

“Yeah, Ma. It’s me.” Ethan bounded up the stairs that led to the family’s flat. He quickly dropped his school books on his bed and headed back downstairs. Eva was just coming from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron, when he stepped off the last stair.

“I just pulled some butternut cookies from the oven if you want to get a snack before you head out.”

Ethan’s heart leapt. Butternut cookies were his favorite, and there was nothing like having a hot one. “Sure, Ma. Thanks.” For a moment, he considered telling his mother what he had heard in the square, then he thought better of it. As much as he didn’t want to cross whatever might be out there, he feared his mother’s overprotectiveness more. If she thought he might be in danger, she’d never let him leave the house. Better to keep quiet, he decided. He was fast, after all. Maybe faster than whatever had killed the n’kitas.

 

 

Starting Over

 

ethan-vintage-300I love Ethan Grimley.

I can’t say what drew me to him in the beginning, but he’s one who likes to speak. In looking back over his stories–The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III–I’ve noticed that there’s much more to tell with Ethan. I think the three books in the series would work better as one story, so I’m working on rewriting the three books into one. At this point, there are already six additional chapters, and I haven’t gotten to the beginning of A Walker is Born yet. I think the end result will be a story that has much more depth and explores more of Ethan’s life, both in Land’s End and beyond.

Ethan isn’t the only reason to rewrite the story. The other characters, particularly Kayne and Faylen, both have their own stories, and I don’t think they work for a series centered primarily on Ethan. With that in mind, I’ve decided to rename and expand the series. (If anyone has a title suggestion, sing out.)

Life over the past few years has been a bit hectic, but things have settled down now. The kids are beginning their adult lives, and I finally have a set work schedule that allows more time other activities. On top of that, Grevared itself is coming to life and showing me more and more of her grandeur with each passing day. The little details, the things that make a world real, are becoming clearer, so I think now is a good time to revisit the existing books and see if I can improve upon them. Not only will this make those books better, but I believe it will improve future books as well. (And, let’s face it, who doesn’t like to play in their own world?)

So, onward and upward. I’ll keep progress posted, a maybe a few snippets of the new stuff here and there.

For those who’ve supported me to this point, thank you. It means a lot. I hope you’ll continue to come along on this journey.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

 

 

Author Spotlight-Deborah Burnside

23319229_10155727922650102_7205406075011842319_nToday we’re welcoming author Deborah Burnside. Let’s kick back and see what she has to share with us.

Prodigal Hearts had its beginning as a work of fan fiction in 1973, while Deborah Burnside was still in high school. Many years and countless revisions later, it is her first published novel. Firefighters are her heroes now as they were then, and will always be.

 When Deborah was in the second grade, a short essay she wrote as a class assignment was selected for publication in the Whittier Daily News, and she was instantly enamored with the power of the written word. She went on to write numerous creative stories, stage plays, and poetry while still going through school. She worked as a reporter and as the entertainment editor for her high school newspaper, and as a reporter for her college newspaper.

Although Deborah would later forego a career in journalism in favor of marriage and motherhood, the need to write has always remained strong. She finds writing to be highly therapeutic, crediting both it and the Lord for her ability to survive some very difficult years and situations. She continues to devote her creative efforts to fiction novels and poetry, with a few short stories and a couple of worship songs thrown in. Several of her poems have been published in anthologies.

 She is also an amateur volcanologist, having been bitten by that bug in 2004, when Mt. St. Helens was once more in an eruptive phase. She spent eleven days at the Coldwater Ridge observatory with her then-husband, who rests now in the arms of Jesus. Her experiences while on the mountain will surely find their way into some not-yet-written story.

Deborah lives in rural Shasta County, California, with her new husband, Patrick. The couple currently has six cats, but the number is subject to change at any given time. When not writing, she rescues stray, abandoned, and abused animals – primarily cats, but occasionally dogs as well.

You can connect with Deborah at the following links:

FB author page: facebook.com/authordeborahburnside

Website: http://www.authordeborahburnside.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/deborahlyn

 

Prodigal Hearts book coverProdigal Hearts

Stephanie Williams and Sam Kendrick may be neighbors, but neither is sure they want any kind of relationship with each other – or with God.

Stephanie is angry at God over His failure to protect her from an assault that almost killed her. Where was the divine protection she had been told was hers as a child of God? Where exactly was He that night?

Sam has turned away from God in the aftermath of a tragic accident that took the life of his best friend. And he wants to know why the Almighty left him alive to suffer the nightmares and flashbacks.

Stephanie’s sister, a teenager with pronounced matchmaking tendencies, is determined to see them heal – together. As these two wounded souls begin to find their way into each others’ hearts, can they also learn to trust again in the One who loves them both?

 

51ZRcIiXYVLA Cousin Scorned

Other than their looks, cousins Connie Sherman and Shellie Cochrane have nothing in common. They don’t like each other. They don’t try to get along. And they never, ever like the same boys.

Until Dave Barbour – and he has eyes for only one of them. Now their unfriendly rivalry is about to crash head-first into the California high desert town of Yucca Valley.

Because hell has no fury like a cousin scorned.

Hallowed Ground-Prologue

Thunderfish Lake MoirenaI’ve been working on a longer work tentatively titled Hallowed Ground. I’m not sure exactly what I’m planning with it at this time, but below is a prologue I was using to get my thoughts in order. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

 

Prologue

 

Sister Gabrielle Corcoran awoke with a start. She had been dozing in the straight-backed chair that was one of the few pieces of furniture her cell at the Arcana Maximus contained. She stretched, her body aching, and trembled with a chill she couldn’t explain. She moved to the door on tiptoes and cracked it just enough to see if any of the other Sisters were walking the halls.

The stone corridor was empty. Gabby waited for a moment, just to be sure, for if she was caught sneaking out of the Arcana in the middle of the night, she would be beaten and imprisoned.

With the way clear, Gabby took several deep breaths to steady herself, the she slipped from her cell and out into the night.

 

Detective Timothy Hawkins trudged through the Warren in the city of Freywater. All around him rose buildings of several stories, made of wood and metal, that, though tall, managed to look squat. His feet missed holes in the cobblestones streets out of habit, for the Warren had been his beat for more than twenty-five years. Though he had risen through the ranks of the Enforcers, he had never been able to secure one of the coveted positions outside of the Warren.

“Once a Warren rat, always a Warren rat,” Timothy muttered as he shivered in a sudden icy breeze, one that cut through his cloak and pierced his bones.

Though Timothy had been with the Enforcers for more than twenty years, his role as a Shadow Walker, one of the champions of the gods, had taken him away from his post too many times for true advancement. He cursed to himself again as he realized just how much he had lost by being a Shadow Walker. It wasn’t a secret; the Shadow Walkers were a recognized force in Grevared, but it wasn’t something he flaunted. And his captain took a dim view of those who had commitments outside the Enforcers.

 

Northward, in Sangeron, the capital city of the Xaggarene Empire, Daniel Klesko, too, shivered in a breeze that threated to freeze him where he stood. He trembled, his mind desperately trying to grasp what his instinct already knew.

The city was quiet, at least as quiet as Sangeron ever got, for Sangeron was a city that never truly slept. Ladies of the evening plied their trade in corsets laced far too tightly, while others stumbled from myst dens, taverns, and dark alleys to make their way home with unsteady steps.

Daniel, too, was a Shadow Walker, though he had lost the Stone of Destiny five years before. Now he did nothing but wander the streets of Sangeron, getting food and shelter where he could, his mind nothing more than a kaleidoscope of past and present that swirled in un-graspable images that defied comprehension.

 

Ymla in Corleon darkIn the forests of E’ma Thalas, north of the Xaggarene Empire, Illythor, captain of Oberon’s guard, paced back and forth. His elven ears strained for any sound that would explain the disquiet that seeped through his blood, but the only sounds were those of the night creatures moving about the forest. He knew the rumors as well as the next elf; more and more elves were succumbing to the gealtachta na déithe, the madness of the gods. Oberon himself had mentioned the rise, and it had devastated Titania to send away their only child.

A rustle to his left brought Illythor’s sword to his hands.

“It’s only me.”

Illythor cursed and huffed out a relieved breath as Ivlisar, his boon companion, joined him on the wall of Oberon’s palace. “What are you doing out here in the middle of the night? Did you piss someone off?”

Ivlisar smiled and shook his head. “Couldn’t sleep.” He stared out over the tops of the trees, their purples, greens, and yellows hidden by darkness. “There’s a fell wind blowing, brother. One that bodes evil for all of us.”

Illythor returned his sword to his sheath and sighed. “Then we’d best be ready.”

 

Far to the south, across the void, on the edge of the Shizzuria Wasteland, Morgan Harper came awake with a cry. The mechanical owl that sometimes housed the spirit of Abraham chittered softly on her beside table. She cursed and climbed from the bed, her eyes gritty from lack of sleep.

She grabbed her coat from its place by the door and pulled it around her slight frame. With another curse, she opened the door to her small cottage and peered out into the night. Before her lay the streets of Grenvor and the edge of the ice sheets that marked the wasteland. Nothing moved. She searched with both her eyes and her mind for the cause of the disturbance, but she could find nothing.

“What the hell?”

Morgan returned to her home and returned her coat to its hook. She grabbed several lumps of coal from the bucket by the brazier and stoked the fire. She stood in her nightclothes and rubbed her arms to dispel the chill, while her heart ached and longed for something that would never be again. After several moments, she shook off her unease and returned to sleep.

 

In the untamed chaos of the void, Arianna Henderson leaned against the rail of the Greydawn Spirit. Her feet shifted, one to the other, with a restlessness she couldn’t quite put her finger on, while her eyes scanned the gray nothing before her. Something was coming, she was sure, and she knew she needed to be ready.

“What’s up?” asked Charity Chance, another of the Shadow Walkers aboard the ship.

“Don’t know.” Arianna raised herself and turned to face Charity. “Something’s in the air. I’m restless.”

Charity laughed, her voice deep and rich. “You’re always restless.”

Arianna bit the edge of her thumb and turned to face the void. “This is different.”

Charity shrugged. “I guess we’ll know when it gets here.” Charity motioned to the hatch behind her. “Get some sleep. It’s my watch.”

Arianna nodded and headed below decks to her cabin. Though she tried, she never did fall asleep.

 

Crowerest Serpent AttackOn the other end of Grevared in the land of Moirena, Justin Harper shifted in his sleep. He opened bleary eyes to the stone walls of his cell. The chain that bound him to the wall rattled in the quiet of the night, and it took him a moment to realize that he wasn’t in Lemoreal’s bed.

He’d been a slave to the demon Lemoreal for five years now, a slavery he’d entered willingly. Now, he would give his soul, what little was left of it, for his freedom, to regain what he’d thrown away.

He raised himself to a sitting position and reached for the small water skin that was his only sustenance. He took a tiny sip, for he would not be allowed more until Lemoreal chose to reclaim him, and leaned his head against the wall. Something prickled his skin, though he had no idea what it meant. He reached outward with his mind in an attempt to discover what had disturbed him, but all he could find was the demon.

The Fantasy Genre: Why I Fell in Love

dragons-1514416_1920I’ve been an avid reader of fantasy for more than thirty years. I remember the first book I read in the genre was Raymond E. Feist’s Magician Apprentice, but it wasn’t the main character, Pug, who captured my attention in the beginning, though I would fall head-over-heels in love with him later. It was the magician, Kulgan.

A rotund man with a long beard and wisdom beyond what was normally possible, Kulgan could reach out into the world and accomplish things no one else could. I was hooked. I wanted that magic in my own life, the ability to see things others missed and the knowledge and wisdom to guide others. I wanted to know about things unseen by normal folks and to understand the mysteries of the universe.

Granted, that’s putting a lot of pressure on a fictional character and a world that was beginning to embrace home computers, but that’s what I wanted, and I wasn’t about to settle for anything less.

As the characters in the series grew into some of my best friends, I branched out and read other authors. I was captivated by these worlds of mystery and magic, of hidden realms and dark secrets. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be there, to walk the roads of Midkemia, or to stroll the paths of the Four Realms, or to climb the mountains of Middle Earth. I wanted to see nature unharmed by human progress, to wander the wilds where creatures from our darkest fears roamed free. I wanted to see dragons and speak with elves, and I wanted to burrow into the earth in the dwarven mines.

And nothing’s changed.

Aradia's Secret Cover with BookI still have that longing, but the chances of being able to experience them in reality is slim without some serious advances in science. A bit ironic, I suppose, that the discipline that prevents the existence of the things I most want to see in our world would be the only chance of seeing them in another, but that’s the way it is. Instead, I opt for studying mythology and ancient cultures, those who believed that magic was possible and that the gods affected the world they lived in.

And I write.

I create worlds that contain all the elements I wish were in this one–the mystery and magic, the creatures that are more than human, even the evil that no one wants to confront. Wizards reach out and grab hold of the matrix of the universe, while elves travel through primeval forests. Dwarfs dig deep into the mountains to bring forth hidden treasures, and demons roam with humans. They aren’t perfect worlds by any stretch, they’re places to go on a rainy Sunday, places where magic is real.

 

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

Getting Started in the New Year

IMG_20171208_162057We’ve completed the first week of the new year, and I have to say I can’t complain. I hope everyone else is having a wonderful start.

Those who’ve been around a while know that I’m a folklore and mythology junkie, and I did a post a couple of weeks ago about my reading traditions for the holiday season.

We have a lot of traditions for the holiday season, and many of them originated from our ancestors’ desire to ward off the cold of winter and revitalize the world, particularly crops and animals, come spring. There are also a good many traditions whose original purpose was to protect against the creatures that roamed the darkness. A plethora of gods and demons were active during the dark, winter months, and any of these could cause difficulty for those who lived during that time.

In our modern world, we look at a lot of the superstitions of old as silly and ridiculous, beliefs of those who simply weren’t smart enough to know better, but I’ve found myself realizing that there is value in these beliefs–they offer us mystery and magic in a world where none seems to exist.

monster-773309_1920Think about it… We have TV shows like Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, and many others that offer us a glimpse into a world that our science tells us isn’t real. Yet, even though we may scoff at the possibility of monsters, ghosts, and demons, we still watch the shows. Why?

Because, at the end of the day, the possibility of these beings touches something within us that we’ve lost with our modern world. We’ve lost the ability to wonder and to be amazed. Most of us can’t even look up at the stars and wonder anymore because of city glow. We can’t walk in the wilderness because there’s little of it left. Our amazement comes from the capabilities of the newest electronic and not from the possibility of what may exist beyond our five-sense perception. We no longer connect to the parts of ourselves that lurk just beneath the surface of everyday life, the part that makes us one with the world around us.

I really started thinking about all this during the holidays when I realized that, while the decorations were pretty, there wasn’t any sense of anticipation about the holidays, it was just another day of things to do that really didn’t have much meaning beyond cooking and buying presents. Reading about older holiday traditions helped to bring meaning to this year’s series of special days.

IMG_20171201_230859So, out of all the resolutions I could make for the new year, I think what I’d like to do more than anything else is to slow down a bit, spend more time in nature, and do my best to remember why the days we celebrate matter. I resolve to find the mystery and magic again, both in the world around me and within myself.

What do you resolve to do for this year?

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com