Dani Erickson’s story, DEMON DAZE, finishes in this 6th and final installment. I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Dani! (Look for information about her NEXT adventure at the end of this post :D )
by Deb Logan
I SPENT THAT EVENING trying to convince myself Warwick James was a scam artist or a serial killer. Anything to erase the exceptionally abnormal future he’d outlined for me. What did I know about demons? Why would I want to hunt them? As far as I knew, no demon had ever harmed me or mine. Wouldn’t Mom counsel me to live and let live?
And what about Mom and Dad? How were they supposed to take the news that their only daughter would never be the epitome of graceful femininity they desired? That she was instead destined to be a warrior charged with protecting the human race? They didn’t want a guard dog; they wanted a pampered Pomeranian.
I stalked from room to room of our comfortable home, unable to settle anywhere. The kitchen taunted me with visions of the girl I’d never be. If I were more like Allie, I’d be warm and welcoming like its terra cotta red walls and pale lemon curtains, nourishing like the contents of its hickory cabinets, accomplished like the woman who ruled the heart of our home: my mother.
The great room, usually my retreat of choice, repelled me tonight. My brothers and their friends had gathered to watch a pre-season football game on Dad’s awesome eighty-inch high-definition television. I could fit in with a roomful of guys, no problem. I’d been fitting in with guys since birth. But tonight I needed to think, and the guys’ rowdy antics would kill higher brain function.
The formal living room mocked me. Every piece of furniture in that room knew its place and function better than I did, same with the elegance of the rarely used dining room. One of the bathrooms? No. Unless I wanted to settle in for a soak, someone would be beating on the door in a matter of moments. Bedrooms? All were off limits except my own, and I felt like a caged animal pacing round and round my bed. I briefly considered sitting on top of the washer in the laundry room, but the white enameled metal looked cold and uncomfortable.
My restless wandering finally drove me outdoors — not far out, I remembered Wick’s warning — onto the wide, covered porch that wrapped three sides of our two-story home. I settled on a cushioned patio chair and stared across the street into the familiar shadows of Loomiller Park.
On an ordinary night, I could’ve stared for hours at the well-known tree shadows, the mirror smooth lake that was really little more than a pond, the winding walkways and seen no more than the outline of an occasional Canada goose. Heard no more than the peaceful chirping of crickets or the breeze sighing through the foliage. But tonight was no ordinary night. Tonight I possessed the senses of a demon hunter, and the normally quiet park teemed with life of a type I hadn’t known existed until yesterday.
Demons of all shapes and sizes crowded the edges of our property. They crawled across the streets, climbed on the kiddie play equipment, splashed in the shallows of the lake, and hung from branches of the evergreens. But mostly, they stared at me. Hundreds of pairs of eyes gleamed in the darkness of the still August night.
A paralyzing chill clenched my spine in an icy fist. An impulse to jump and run seized my brain, but my feet and legs refused to act. Like a rabbit charmed by a swaying snake, I stared into their eyes and drowned in fear. I was no demon hunter. I was prey. How could one untrained teenage girl hope to survive when the night teemed with such … such … filth?
Filth? I shook my head, breaking eye contact and laughed. Not a happy giggle, but a terrified, ironic chuckle. Something deep inside had challenged the thought the demon horde had tried to plant. Yes, I was young and untrained, but an unacknowledged spark in my soul recognized them for what they were, filthy vermin to be hunted from the face of the earth.
“Thanks, guys,” I murmured, rising and walking to the door with a newborn calm. “You’ve convinced me. I’m a demon hunter in need of training.” I smiled, waved a salute to the unholy creatures only I could see, and strode to the great room to join my brothers. “See you in the morning, Mr. James,” I murmured to myself as I grabbed a handful of popcorn from Jamie’s bowl.
Settling into my favorite chair, I smiled as the buttery goodness of popcorn melted on my tongue. I finally knew who I was. Never again would I see myself as a clumsy, too-tall imitation of Allie. No, I was exactly who I was meant to be. Dani Heleen Erickson: Demon Hunter Extraordinaire!
Thanks for reading DEMON DAZE!
Want to know more about Dani? Be sure to look for SCHOOL DAZE…
Dani Erickson is a hereditary demon hunter. The seventh child of a seventh child, she was born to battle the nasty monsters she sees infesting her small Colorado town. With the help of her best friend Allie and her sensei Warwick James, she’s getting into fighting trim — just in time for her first day of high school.
Demons beware. Dani’s on the prowl!
Dani Erickson’s story, DEMON DAZE, continues in this 5th of six installments. I hope you enjoy Dani’s continuing adventure and I look forward to your comments.
by Deb Logan
I WANTED TO RIP OPEN the door and run for my life, but I couldn’t. My knees wobbled, my lungs seized, my heart pounded like my brother Seth’s drums, and a series of cold chills played tag on my spine. And you don’t want to know about my stomach. Trust me. Too much information doesn’t begin to cover it.
But sooner than I would’ve expected, my racing brain calmed. A serene acceptance washed through my mind and I knew, absolutely, positively, with no question of doubt, that whoever Warwick James might be, he’d spoken the truth. I was a born and bred Demon Hunter.
I slipped sideways away from the door and leaned against the peeling paint of an interior wall. One by one my pieces parts returned to normal until I found the strength to speak.
“I’m a demon hunter.” A simple statement of fact, and once the words were out, I straightened away from the wall, stronger and more sure of myself than I’d ever been in my life. I made eye contact with Wick and nodded. “I’m a demon hunter.”
Concern fled from his face and he smiled like a proud father presented with his first-born. “Yes, Miss Erickson. You are a demon hunter, and I am your guardian.”
A small frown pulled at my eyebrows. “Why would a demon hunter need a guardian? Besides, I already have a father and six brothers.”
“True, but can they teach you to fight? Can they see demons? Can they watch your back while you learn the skills you’ll need to survive?”
I chewed my lower lip and prowled the room, keeping my new awareness centered on Wick. “You can see demons? You can train me?”
“I can and I will. That is my purpose: to find demon hunters and protect them while I train them to protect mankind.”
“I’m missing something here. If you can see demons and already know how to fight, why do you need me?”
He pivoted slowly on the spot, keeping me squarely in the center of his vision despite my pacing. “I’m not a demon hunter, Miss Erickson. I don’t have your, shall we say built-in radar? I can fight them and make a nuisance of myself, but I cannot kill them. That power is reserved for your kind.” He bowed his head in acknowledgement of my superior abilities.
“I will be your mentor and trainer, but you, Miss Erickson, are the demon hunter.”
I stopped pacing, faced him, and planted my fists on my hips. “What is this place? Why did you bring me here?”
He held out his arms and completed a slow circle. “This is my new business, a martial arts academy. I will teach Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Judo, and Kendo. You will learn a blend of all of them while developing your own unique style.”
“Doesn’t look like much,” I muttered.
He threw back his head and laughed so loud the room echoed with his mirth. When the explosion of sound died back, he wiped his eyes and said, “Give me a chance, Miss Erickson. Madame Simone and I have barely had time to set our plans in motion. She only confirmed your burgeoning power on Saturday night. I think I’ve done well to find a Main Street location on such short notice.”
My eyes widened and my jaw dropped. “Madame Simone? Do you mean that wacko fortune teller from the carnival?”
“Language, Miss Erickson. Madame Simone is a gifted psychic. She and I have been with the carnival for years. The perfect cover for traveling around the country checking up on families that might possibly produce a demon hunter. Now that we’ve found you, we will settle in Longmont and other members of our clan will make the rounds.” He shook his head. “Possibles are far too few these days.”
I filed that comment away for future consideration and wandered back to the door. “Okay. So let’s assume I buy this crazy story,” I said, all too aware of the lie implied. I believed him and he knew it. How could I not? Even now I sensed three demonic entities roaming Longmont’s peaceful streets … and they were just the ones in range of my newly awakened weird-o-meter. “What do you expect me to do?”
He strode to the door, reached for the knob and opened it for me with a small bow. “I expect you to assimilate your new knowledge. Rest tonight. Think about what you’ve learned, and come back tomorrow ready to begin your training.”
I stared at him for a moment and then stepped out into the late August sunshine. “I’ve got to meet my brother.”
“I’ll look for you around ten,” he said, joining me on the sidewalk. He glanced up and down the street before continuing, “I’ll shadow you back to your brother. For your own safety, go straight home and stay there. The home of a hunter is sacrosanct. You will always be safe there, as will anyone else within its walls. Be vigilant, Miss Erickson. You are now aware of demons; they are also aware of you.”
With that cheery thought, I headed north to meet Jamie, Warwick James following at a discreet distance.
Thanks for reading! The 6th and final scene will be posted on 7/27/15.
Posted by Cat-Gerlach
I worked like mad to set up the full omnibus of William L. Hahn’s “Judgement’s Tale” in time for July 4th. Unfortunately I didn’t get it done due to some unforeseen difficulties with font sizes and POD-supliers. It might take another week before the book will finally be available in stores all over the world since we’re trying a new printing service: Ingram Spark.
So what are my impressions when I compare Ingram Spark and Createspace (keeping in mind that I haven’t even finished setting up the first title yet)?
+ With IngramSpark the price for printing a book is very low which means it will be possible to keep the selling price as low as POD allows.
+ Also, in contrast to Createspace, it is possible to set up hardcover books which I will need to do for an Early Reader story I’ve planned.
+ Regular bookshops prefer buying books from Ingram for their customers since Amazon is such a big competitor.
+ With Ingram Spark, it is possible to decide how big a margin the bookshops will get which directly influences the final selling price (naturally, the higher the margin the more likely bookshops will stock the book).
+ Ingram Sparks distributes to places where Createspace doesn’t get to, although I’ve read that CS’s expanded distribution is the same as Ingram Sparks. If I find confirmation, this point gets cancelled. :D
– Setting up a title costs $49 in Ingram and if I need to make changes, it will be an additional $25 per file (cover or book block). So I need to be extra vigilant with spotting mistakes and errors. It can become costly easily if I’d have to change things often. Createspace is completely free.
– From the second year on, distributing your books will cost an additional $12 per title per year. Depending on the margin I calculate for my imprint (usually $1 per title sold), I will need to sell at least 12 copies every year to make this worthwhile. With Createspace this doesn’t cost a thing.
o Both setup processes are simple and straightforward. It’s fairly easy to understand what needs to be done next.
So all in all, using Ingram is as easy as using Createspace. Whether we’ll sell more printed books that way remains to be seen. I’ll keep you posted.
Posted in or browse all books
Dani Erickson’s story, DEMON DAZE, continues in this 4th of six installments. I hope you enjoy Dani’s continuing adventure and I look forward to your comments.
by Deb Logan
THE NEXT MORNING I hitched a ride downtown with Jamie. That sounds a lot more exciting than it was. Downtown Longmont was a nicely renovated street of Mom and Pop stores, but most of the action was on the west edge of town at the mall. However, the piece of paper Warwick James had slipped me the day before specified a Main Street address, so that’s where I headed.
“Are you sure you’re all right?” Jamie asked for about the forty-fourth time. “Maybe I should stay with you.”
“Jamie, please. Do you think Mom would’ve let me out of the house if there was anything to worry about?” That stopped him. Mom was one of those old-fashioned women whose career was home and family. Nothing slipped past her where her children were concerned.
“Okay. You win. I’ll pick you up in front of Perks A Plenty at noon. Don’t be late.”
I slammed the car door, leaned back in the open window, and blew him a kiss. “Not to worry. I’ll be there.”
He shook his head, waved me off the car, and pulled away from the curb.
I glanced at the slip of paper and strode south down the wide sidewalk. The address was about a block south of the renovated portion of Main Street. Not yet to the train tracks, but beyond the well-groomed shopping district. I halted in front of what appeared to be an abandoned storefront. Wide display windows covered with brown paper stared back at me. Chipped white paint above and below the windows shouted the building’s need for repair. A small, hand-lettered placard announced a budding business:
Longmont’s Own Martial Arts Academy.
Classes Enrolling Now!
I shivered, but reached for the doorknob. What choice did I have? Warwick James had promised to explain things, and I desperately wanted information. I hadn’t seen any more monsters, but my newly acquired weird-o-meter told me they were still there, lurking just beyond my field of vision. I wanted them gone. I didn’t want to know that the monster under the bed was real or that his cousin really was hiding in the closet.
Pushing open the door, I stepped into a large, dimly lit room. My footsteps rang against ancient linoleum floors and echoed off walls in need of a fresh coat of paint. The paper-covered windows washed the room with a diffused amber glow, causing the glare of an electric bulb from a half-open door in the back wall to stand out like a flashing neon sign.
“Hello. Is anyone here? Mr. James?” I listened as the echoes of my voice died away. No response. Much as I wanted answers, my sense of self-preservation refused to allow me to walk to the back of the room and step into that well-lit doorway. I turned toward the front door. Warwick James had found me once; he could find me again.
“I’m glad you came, Miss Erickson.”
I nearly gave myself whiplash, jumping and turning in a less than smooth movement. Warwick James stood just a few feet from me. How had he gotten so close so fast? I frowned and studied the strange man who had appeared out of nowhere to release me from yesterday’s spasm. Tall, trim, with good muscle tone. Definitely not a guy who lived on pizza and beer. Short brown hair and neatly trimmed mustache and beard, his blue-green eyes sparkled with humor. All in all, a good-looking guy, if you’re interested in middle-aged men. I’m not.
“How do you know my name?”
“I know your family well, Miss Erickson.” He raised an eyebrow and waved an arm in the direction of the back room. “Would you join me in the back? We can sit down and discuss this in more comfort there.”
“No thanks. I’d prefer to stay near the door.” I glanced over my shoulder, gauging the distance to the sidewalk outside. Not far. I could sprint it easily. Exit plan decided, I turned back to Mr. James. “How do you know my family? I’ve never seen you before.”
“As you wish,” he said with a shrug, thrusting his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “You misunderstand. I said I know your family well. I didn’t say I was a family friend or even an acquaintance. You see, Miss Erickson, yesterday was the first time I’ve ever spoken to a member of your family, though I’ve been studying them for years.”
A shiver ran down my spine and I backed a step closer to the front door.
“Please don’t run away. You need to understand what’s happening to you and why.”
“So get to the point,” I said continuing back until the doorknob was within easy reach. To my immense relief, Warwick James remained in the middle of the room.
“You had, shall we say, visions, yesterday. You saw things that can’t possibly exist. Things no one else in your family saw. Am I correct?”
“That ability is the reason I’ve been observing your family. I’ve been watching, waiting for your power to manifest.”
Silence descended on the room. A heartbeat, two … fifteen or twenty passed. Neither of us spoke. Finally, when the pressure of words waiting to be released was palpable, I caved.
“You were watching … me?”
“Not at first. Your father’s family first drew our attention. Thirteen children is uncommon in this day and age. The stage was set, the potential for your ability to manifest existed. So we waited, checking back each year. Noting new members, new births. Updating the genealogical records. Do you know what we were waiting for?”
My shoulders relaxed, the knot in my stomach eased, and I snorted. “Don’t tell me. You’re one of those ‘seventh son of a seventh son’ fanatics. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint, but one: I’m a girl; two: you’ve got the wrong branch of the family. Uncle Gus is the seventh son, and unfortunately for you, he and Aunt Ellen can’t have kids.”
The jerk had the nerve to smile.
“I’m not disappointed Miss Erickson, not in the least. Your family’s understanding of the ability is incomplete. Yes, a seventh-seventh is required, but gender is not an issue. We were never interested in your Uncle Gus — though we were amused by your family’s delight in producing a seventh son. Your father was always the object of our study.”
I jumped and grabbed the doorknob for support. “My father?”
“Yes. Your father. The seventh child in his family. Only the fifth son, but the seventh child. And you, Miss Erickson, what does that make you?”
I swallowed and tried to speak, but my tongue felt swollen and the inside of my mouth was too dry to function.
He nodded. “That’s right. You, Dani Heleen Erickson, are the seventh child of a seventh child. You are the hereditary Demon Hunter.”
Thanks for reading! Part 5 will be posted on 7/13/15.
Dani Erickson’s story, DEMON DAZE, continues in this 3rd of six installments. I hope you enjoy Dani’s continuing adventure and I look forward to your comments.
by Deb Logan
BOULDER RESERVOIR SPARKLED in the afternoon sun, inviting the people on shore to step into its cool water. Our extended family’s annual end of the summer bash was underway. Partly my birthday party, partly an excuse to barbecue, swim, and laze in the sun before everyone went back to school. And I do mean everyone. Several of Dad’s brothers and sisters were teachers, everything from preschool to university professors, but not Dad. My dad was an architect, a partner at one of Boulder’s most prestigious firms. Mountain lodges designed to withstand Rocky Mountain snow loads were his specialty. Too bad we lived down on the flats.
One of the great things about family gatherings was that they grounded me in reality. Sometimes being the youngest of seven weighed on me. I mean, none of my friends came from such humongous families. Two, three, even four kids, that was normal, but seven? What were Mom and Dad thinking? Then we’d have a family gathering and I’d realize that in Dad’s world, a family of seven kids was kind of minimalistic. Dad fell right smack in the middle of thirteen — seven boys and six girls. Now that’s a family!
Anyhow, I was lazing under a tree with a couple of my cousins, having had enough sugar and exercise for my lifetime, when my vision went wonky. Everything kind of twisted and blurred. I rubbed my forehead, blinked a few times, and focused on Jamie. My youngest brother — who was still three years my senior — was entertaining some of the younger boys by walking on his hands. I could see him, right down to the goofy grin on his face, but he was encased in a deep purple haze.
I blinked again and shifted my gaze to Mike. The doctor-in-training sprawled in a lawn chair a few yards away, a cell phone held to his ear and surrounded by a pale blue fog. Though the hand touching the phone glowed lime green. I closed my eyes and stretched out on the tartan picnic blanket.
I’d obviously had too much sun. A few minutes’ rest would put me right as rain.
I could say something to Mom, but who wanted to be treated like an invalid on her birthday? Certainly not me! Sure, fourteen wasn’t a big deal. I wouldn’t be getting my driver’s license or even a learner’s permit, but still … a birthday is a birthday. You take your celebrations where you find them. Especially when you’re the youngest of seven, and the only girl.
“What’s wrong, squirt? You look a little green.”
I squinted up to find Jamie peering at me. He knelt beside me, looking all buff and tan from a summer of lifeguarding at the local pool, but he was still covered in that weird purple haze which was quickly modifying to a rich blue. Actually looked quite good with his ice-blue eyes and sun-bleached chestnut hair.
“Gee, thanks!” the corners of my mouth twitched, but it was hard to smile when your brother looked like he’d been cocooned in blue silk. “It’s nothing. Something’s weird with my eyes. Stuff is … hazy.”
Jamie scowled. He turned to Mike. “Hey, lover-boy! Get off the phone and come over here. Something’s wrong with Dani.”
Mike turned, eyes dark and irritable, ready to yell at Jamie … and stopped. His jaw slackened and his eyes widened. He mumbled a few words, snapped the phone shut, and sprinted to my side.
“What’s wrong, Dani? Did you eat something bad?” Mike scrutinized my face, his eyes narrowing. Cool fingers encircled my wrist as the physician-to-be assessed his little sister. He dropped my hand and scowled. “Tell me you’re not stupid enough to be messing with drugs!”
“Wha-” That was the extent of my snappy comeback. My jaw locked and no further sound passed my lips.
My heart slammed against my ribcage like a passenger in a speeding car that had braked too suddenly. Panic clawed at my throat, but not a sound escaped. I was locked inside my own skull looking at everyone through silky gauze layers. Could Mike be right? Had someone drugged my potato salad?
“MOM!” Jamie scrambled to his feet and fled to the pavilion on the other side of the park.
Mike moved into Jamie’s position, a worried frown replacing the scowl. His pale blue fog deepened to purple and pulsed in a rapid beat. The visual assault dizzied me, so I closed my eyes again. At least my eyelids still obeyed.
A flurry of voices rode the wind off the reservoir, alerting me to the imminent arrival of my parents, buoyed by a wave of aunts and uncles. With the familiar chatter of family came a decidedly unfamiliar sensation: awareness. Each person who approached was heralded by a distinct bubble pushing against the boundary of my conscious mind. Though my eyes remained closed, I could identify each and every person in our quadrant of the park. I knew exactly where they stood in relation to me, could judge their level of agitation by the color of the bubble. Worse yet, other blips appeared on my psychedelic radar. Not the comfortable, concerned, well-rounded bubbles of my extended family, but twisted, dark blips that oozed like malignant wounds.
My eyes popped open. Each family member stood right where I expected, but the blips weren’t visible. No. That wasn’t true. The air shimmered where the blips should be.
“What is it, Dani?” asked Mom, her voice soft and soothing. She slipped to the ground beside me and searched my face with a concerned gaze. “Tell me where it hurts.”
A shimmer intensified and I shifted my gaze from Mom to the anomaly. Maybe if I squinted…
A creature sprang into existence and eyed me with curiosity.
I recoiled, horrified by its scaly maroon skin, long filthy claws, and sharp, protruding teeth. The vaguely humanoid being stood erect and wore a torn, brown tunic. Its eyes, black and dangerous, glittered with intelligence, and something else — some dark amusement.
I shuddered and closed my eyes, but my awareness only heightened. More blips accumulated, surrounding my family. Drawn like sharks to blood. But what drew them? And why could I see them when my family obviously couldn’t?
“She started to say something,” Mike explained, “then, I don’t know. It’s like she seized. I think we should call an ambulance. I don’t want to move her, but she needs help.”
Mom stroked my hair and murmured reassurances while my brain scrambled to make sense of the unbelievable. What was happening to me?
A new bubble converged upon my family and drifted to my side, a shining white beacon tinged with radiant gold. Warmth and comfort emanated from the newcomer.
“Excuse me,” the being said in a voice filled with authority. “May I have a look at her?”
My family drew back, except for Mom. The stranger laid cool hands on my head, one covering my forehead, the other supporting the nape of my neck. “Relax, child. Don’t fight it,” he murmured. “Acceptance is the key. I can and will explain, but not now. Right now, you must accept the unacceptable.”
He continued to cradle my head and energy poured through my mind. I haven’t got a clue how to explain what happened, but synapses fired, my emotions sorted, my understanding cleared, and my body relaxed. I opened my eyes and stared into the face of the man who had promised to explain my destiny to me. Blue-green eyes stared back at me from a hard, chiseled face. A mustache and short, well-trimmed beard provided the only softening to the planes of his face.
He released me, extended his hand, and helped me sit up. I shivered in the late afternoon heat and glanced from family member to family member. “I’m okay now.”
A collective sigh of relief whispered through the ranks, but I knew the next indrawn breath would release a barrage of questions. My self-proclaimed mentor forestalled them.
“Nothing to worry about,” he said, rubbing his hands together and backing away from the tartan blanket. “Just a bit too much sun and exercise. Happens all the time around here.”
Jamie frowned and glanced at me, eyebrows lifted. My lifeguard brother knew something was up.
I shook my head, and he shrugged. We’d talk later.
Dad was shaking the man’s hand. “I don’t know what you did, but thank you, Mister…”
“James. Warwick James, but everyone calls me Wick. Don’t think a thing of it, sir. I’m just glad I could be of service.” He looked at me, and our gazes locked. He smiled, and I nodded and closed my fist around the slip of paper he’d palmed me when he helped me sit up.
I was still aware of creatures that shouldn’t exist, but the members of my family were no longer shrouded in colored fog. Whatever was happening, I could deal with the remnants for the rest of the day, but tomorrow Mr. Warwick James and I were going to have a come-to-Jesus meeting.
Thanks for reading! Part 4 will be posted on 6/29/15.
Posted by petercruikshank
I couldn’t imagine how it took George R.R. Martin SEVEN years, after the fourth book in his Song of Ice & Fire series (Game of Thrones), before he published the fifth one. It was inconceivable to me that, if you were a professional author, it would take SEVEN years to publish the next book in the series. I know he was busy with all the success of his books and the HBO series, but seriously SEVEN years.
I remember thinking this when the fifth book had come out in 2013. I had just published the first book in my series and thought myself so superior. After all, for my series I had produced the first book, Fire of the Covenant, in just over 18 months… and I was a rookie. My thoughts went something like, “Evidently Martin was no longer dedicated to his writing. He was probably spending all his time speaking at conventions, making the rounds of talk shows, partying in Hollywood, and all the other stuff that was non-writing.”
With this egotistical knowledge I charged full-speed ahead writing the next book in my series, Betrayal of the Covenant. I was so cocky that after a couple of months I started another series, the first book The Dragon Whisperer. It would only be about 80,000 words, half that of Betrayal, so no problem. I cruised along thinking I could get both books out by year end.
Everything was progressing better than I expected. I was writing over 10,000 words a week. Then my high-speed race toward completing both books, by the end of 2014, ran smack into a wall called Life Interruptus. Moving twice and sorting through 19 years of stuff, family illnesses, and a few other normal daily life issues brought my writing to a halt.
I have heard from many of my author friends how they have also suffered from Life Interruptus. We all had good intentions, we diligently kept to our daily writing schedule, we attacked our novels with all the passion and dedication we could muster. Yet, all this good will means little to the monster called Life Interruptus.
I know this sounds depressing, but have faith. For most people Life Interruptus is only a temporary condition. Yes, it may be a condition that can linger for a year or two or longer, but there is hope. In the meantime, as an author, I wrote here and there, even if only for a few moments and days apart. It helped me to remember the joy that writing always brought me. And the memory of this joy can kept the fire burning long enough for Life Interruptus to fade. After more than a year, I find myself writing more each day and getting back into the beginning of a writing routine. With any luck I will get Betrayal out by year end and can also start shopping The Dragon Whisperer around to an agent or publisher.
Given what I know now, I would apologize to Mr. Martin… If I could get past his secretary, publicist, agent, and bodyguards. I would tell him that I can easily understand how it took him seven years to write, revise, edit, and then publish the fifth book.
I have weathered my experience with Life Interruptus and realize that regardless of what comes, I will continue to write my books and feel the joy that it brings. No matter what happens I will survive this condition in the future.
How do I know I will encounter this condition again? I recently found out that the doctors are going to remove one of my kidneys. How do I know I will survive this new bout of Life Interruptus? Because I did it once, and know I can do it again.
What has been your Life Interruptus?
Posted in or browse all books
Dani Erickson’s story, DEMON DAZE, continues in this 2nd of six installments. (Part One is here, if you need to catch up :D ) I hope you enjoy Dani’s continuing adventure and I look forward to your comments.
by Deb Logan
The Big Day Begins
FISTS POUNDING ON MY BEDROOM DOOR startled me awake. I lunged upright, glanced wildly around the room, and managed to comprehend the chorus of, “Wake up, Birthday Girl!” that echoed from the hall.
Brothers! You gotta love ‘em. It’s the law; at least it is in my family. From the sound reverberating through my skull all six of them must have come home for the big celebration. Flattering…except it meant I’d have to spend my big day pretending I was Allie.
I grabbed a shoe from the floor and hurled it at the already besieged door. “All right, already. I’m up! Give it a rest.”
Chortles sounded on the far side of the barrier, followed by a deeper bass shushing.
“Get a move on, Kitten,” Mike commanded. The eldest of seven and a medical student to boot, Mike was accustomed to seizing control of a situation. “Mom’s making French toast for breakfast. If these guys devour it all before you make it downstairs, she’ll be in a mood all day.”
I sprang from bed, leaped the intervening distance, and jerked the door open. Half a dozen boys in various states of early morning dishevelment blocked my path, while the sweet scent of maple syrup and frying bacon wafted through the air. “Outta my way!” I bellowed, elbowing my way into the hall. “No one’s eating my birthday breakfast.”
A race for the sugar erupted. We scrambled across the hall and down the stairs, barely making it to the kitchen with everyone still on their feet.
“Halt!” Dad’s shout brought us all to attention, a ragged line of teens and twenty-somethings with straight backs and squared shoulders.
“Happy birthday, Dani,” said Mom, turning from the griddle with a spatula in her hand. “Now, if all of you would be so kind as to march back up the stairs, wash faces and hands, and comb your hair, we’ll have a civilized breakfast in a few minutes.”
As one, the Ericksons deflated. We turned and my brothers tromped back up the stairs.
“Dani,” called Dad, halting me in mid-step. “A moment, please.”
I turned around wondering what I could’ve done. I couldn’t be in trouble yet, I’d just woken up. Besides, it was my birthday.
Dad crossed the sunlit kitchen and wrapped me in a bear hug. He ruffled my still messy hair and smiled down at me. “Happy birthday, kiddo. Take your time in the bathroom. Nobody’s eating ’til you get back.”
I grinned, wriggled out of his arms and raced back upstairs. French toast! And the guys had to wait for me. Maybe I should take my time. Get dressed. Fix my hair. Would make-up be too over the top? I sniffed again, savoring the delicious aromas of non-store-bought delicacies. Nah. Not worth the wait. My mouth watered for French toast NOW!
Thanks for reading! Part 3 will be posted on 6/15/15.
Posted by Will
I am honestly quite proud of the author interviews we’ve done on this site, because they’re much more like conversations, the Q and the A are just formalities when things get really good. I’m very pleased indeed to welcome back Karin Gastreich this week, whose cycle of works in the world of High Maga is in audio as well as print. Karin and I had a marvelous chat about audiobooks the last time she was here. If that was a cozy tea-party, this one might be more of a mud-pie fight because the subject is a theme that figures highly in the novel, Women in War.
As an ancient history teacher by trade, the demographics of any preindustrial society with women in the battle lines always troubled me. I drooled over Red Sonja in the comics as much as the next barely-pubescent male, though of course part of the point was that she was, ahm, exceptional. But as much as I like to rant about the whole ten-women-one-man versus the reverse thing, Karin was quick to point out that war sometimes leaves no escape whether soldier or civilian. Think about the consequences of war in your world’s history– sure, it’s all on the line NOW, but how has it been in the past? And were women a part of it? Lend us a minute, I found Karin’s answers most interesting and I think you will too.
Q: You’ve written before about the effect of war on women, along with all those caught in the war-zone. Is the world of High Maga one where civilians are commonly threatened? Is no one safe, no place respected? Or have your current crop of villains just stepped it up a notch, and broken with previous customs in this war?
A: We live under a modern myth that with sufficient technology, civilians can be spared during warfare, but I’d say the bulk of the evidence suggests otherwise. Civilians are always at risk in a war zone, and this was especially true in medieval times. High Maga is firmly grounded in a medieval-style world, so yes, no one is safe when war breaks out. For the most part, it doesn’t matter how noble or villainous the current rulers are.
Q: I agree, there’s always risk to civilians in war, especially after defeat in ancient times. I find more exceptions in history than you did! But no question you have strong female characters on both sides of right here. Are they fighters, though? Are there strictures against women taking up big edged weapons and getting close enough to cause trouble? Or is soldiering an equal-opportunity field in your world?
A: Oddly enough, of the novels in this trilogy High Maga is the one most steeped in war, and yet no women adept at weaponry appear. This is in part an artifact of history and circumstance. I do have women fighters in the first book, Eolyn, and they will return for the third book, Daughter of Aithne.
Women and weaponry have a complicated history in Eolyn’s world. Mainstream society is fairly misogynistic, and there are strong cultural barriers to women taking up the sword. The subculture of the magas, however, is different. Before Eolyn was born, there was a centuries-long tradition of maga warriors. Like their male counterparts, the mage warriors, these women considered themselves spiritual descendants of Caradoc, a legendary figure who was the first to use magic on the battlefield.
Now, not all magas are swordswomen, and many magas – including Eolyn’s tutor Ghemena – are firmly opposed to the use of magic in war. Still, throughout history, the maga warriors have played an important part in the military might of Moisehén. They were well respected and feared by many, and they served the kingdom faithfully.
Q: Right, so we seem to be looking at battle-mages; a man or woman can be on the battlefield if they wield spells, and such a soldier might also use weapons. But otherwise, women are pressured not to fight, is that right?
A: That’s correct, but again, this wasn’t always the case. A generation or so before Eolyn was born, the maga warriors were still a strong force in Moisehén. Then they rose up in rebellion against Kedehen, their King. They objected to Kedehen assuming the crown because as a prince he had studied magic, defying a centuries-old prohibition against members of the royal family learning the craft.
Incensed by Kedehen’s decision to claim the throne, the magas rebelled. Kedehen, as you can imagine, chose to defend his inheritance. A brutal civil war followed, and Kedehen emerged victorious. Concerned about future uprisings, he promptly forbade all women from practicing magic or taking up weaponry. The kingdom was purged of women practitioners. During this period Eolyn’s own mother, who was a maga warrior, was burned at the stake.
For reasons developed in my first novel, Kedehen’s son Akmael eventually lifts the prohibition on women practicing magic. However, the new Mage King upholds the laws against women learning weaponry, as a matter of public safety.
I suppose I should point out that the use of magic in battle kind of changes the playing field. You might consider it akin to the advent of firearms in modern warfare, which some would argue has made the military much more accessible to women. Victory no longer depends on being able to physically hack your opponent apart. The maga warriors are physically adept at fighting, but what gives them the edge against some of their brawnier opponents are all those magic tricks, such as being able to sear your opponent with flame, shapeshift into a tiger, cast curses that enhance fear, and so forth.
Q: You mean there’s no referee to call foul? Oh right, it’s war… so is Eolyn, your main heroine, going to be a woman warrior?
A: I can’t answer that question, Will. It’d be a spoiler!
I will say that Eolyn is ambivalent toward the idea of the maga warrior. She strongly believes all women should be free to practice magic, but her own experience and upbringing have given her a rather conflictive relationship with the sword. Magic, from her perspective, should not be used in warfare. Indeed, if it were up to Eolyn, everyone, mages and magas alike, would lay down their weapons and live in peace. Unfortunately, this is not the way of the world that Eolyn lives in. Whether or not she wields a sword, war will come for her. When it does, Eolyn must find a way to defend herself. Will her magic be enough? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Q: I can see that Rishona is a summoner, a mage of sorts. Is it just as common for her to cast spells or summon daemons as a man? Or is this a case of only women having the special ability?
A: In Eolyn’s world, you don’t need to be a woman to summon demons. All you need is willingness and determination to use your magic toward this end.
Q: But is she a warrior-mage? Is it typical to summon demons to do your fighting?
A: So, first I should point out that in this world “mage” and “maga” refer to a very specific tradition of magic with unique origins in the Kingdom of Moisehén. Rishona did not grow up in Moisehén and was never trained in this craft. She does have an unusual brand of magic based on her heritage. Her mother was a Syrnte princess, her father a prince of Moisehén. As a result, Rishona is spiritually linked to both traditions. This is important because in the world of High Maga, magic has a cultural context.
The mages and magas of Moisehén draw their power from the earth and practice a craft grounded in knowledge of the natural world. They have no faith in prophecy or fortune telling. The Syrnte draw their power from the air. They cannot shapeshift, but they do have the ability to perceive time differently. Prophecy is second nature to them. They can hear thoughts of other individuals, even see the world through their eyes. Unlike the nobility of Moisehén, Syrnte royalty has, for pretty much all of history, embraced magic and used it with impunity to serve their ambitions. Rishona’s uncle, Prince Mechnes, is a master at using Syrnte sight to control everyone around him.
Q: So not to put too fine a point on it, Rishona can, and I assume she does. But does what, exactly?
A: Rishona’s connection to past, present, and future is coupled with a heightened awareness of other worlds. She is able to “hear” the voices of the Underworld and make contact with the Naether Demons. She has some sympathy for the plight of the Naether Demons (as do I), and it’s not entirely evil on her part to want to bring them back. But in doing so, Rishona unleashes a dark magic that proves a little beyond her ability to control.
Oh! I almost forgot – Rishona does know how to wield a sword.
Q: Hah, small detail! Penalty box for you, now cough up the details, who let her get away with it.
A: She was trained by Mechnes, who took on the project when she was a little girl, more out of a sense of fatherly indulgence than from any real conviction that a woman can or should fight. Rishona acquired some skill and even respect in the training ring, but she’s never actually been in battle. Nor is Mechnes interested in having her fight; and since he makes all the tactical decisions, it is very unlikely Rishona will ever ride into battle. From Mechnes’s point of view, Rishona’s greatest value is in her ability to summon Naether Demons. This gives him a new and very formidable weapon against the Mage King. Oh, and Rishona has a claim to the throne of Moisehén as well, superior to Akmael’s by some accounts. This serves as a convenient excuse for Mechnes to embark upon the conquest in the first place.
Q: So he’ll be taking one potential woman warrior-mage with him, and the heroine awaits with her own decision to make. Fabulous! Thanks for the fascinating explanations, Karin, you really showed how something as crucial as the active participation of women in war has to be considered in light of history and culture. And magic of course! Fabulous talking with you as always. Here’s to the great success of High Maga, and hopefully a nice manhole cover to drop on Mechnes soon.
HIGH MAGA http://edition
Karin Rita Gastreich (author)
Darla Middlebrook (narrator)
Sisters in magic, Eolyn and Adiana seek to revive a craft once forbidden to women. When war strikes at the heart of the kingdom, their fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.
In hopes of defending her people, Eolyn tries to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. Trapped by the invading army, Adiana is taken prisoner and placed at the mercy of the ruthless Prince Mechnes.
Even as their world is torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where the Daughters of Aithne will flourish in a world set free from the violence of men.
“War propels the book forward, and the characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst.” –Publishers Weekly
Amazon (audio book): http://www.amazon.com/High-Maga/dp/B00QMQLA3W/
About the Author:
KARIN RITA GASTREICH writes tales of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. Inspired by a lifetime of exploring lush forests and breathtaking landscapes, Karin’s stories blend elements of epic fantasy, historical fiction, and romance. The worlds she creates are a strange amalgamation of medieval Europe and colonial Central America, with misty forests, vast savannas, and steamy jungles. They are populated by brave heroines, noble heroes, and twisted villains. From ancient woodlands to uncharted seas, readers will experience gripping battle scenes, heart wrenching loss, hard-won triumphs, and the ultimate magic of love. Karin’s fantasy novels Eolyn and High Maga are available from Hadley Rille Books. Her short stories have appeared in Zahir, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and World Jumping. She runs an on-line discussion forum about women in genre fiction at Heroines of Fantasy. Follow Karin’s adventures into fantastic worlds, both real and imagined, at krgastreich.com.
Author web links:
Karin’s web site: http://krgastreich.com
Heroines of Fantasy: http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com
About the Narrator:
Darla’s voice is a versatile instrument used with skill. It is a voice filled with intelligence and warmth. Her sound can range from mature to youthful female, and she can also produce convincing male timbres. Narrative is presented in a conversational, down to earth, matter-of-fact manner and also displays a broad emotional range across a large repertoire of characters (female, male, young, old and “creature”). All of that while still conveying a sense of wonder when telling the story.
With experience of 34+ years as a Speech-Language Pathologist, more than 20 years as a stage & film actor and over 20 years as a trained singer with knowledge and insight into the mechanics of the voice and speech, Darla Middlebrook brings a wealth of experience to bear to develop character voices (male, female, mature, extremely elderly, creepy, bright exotic, etc) with an impressive emotional range.
Currently, Darla is one of many voice actors who narrate podcasts for AIRS-LA (an audio internet service for individuals with visual challenges) in addition to narrating audio books.
Narrator Web Links:
Don’t Miss a Chance at Great Loot from the High Maga Series!
I’d like to introduce you to Dani Erickson, a normal teenage girl with a not-so-normal heritage. I’ll be posting Dani’s initial story, DEMON DAZE, in six installments to be posted on Mondays of every other week until the story is complete. I hope you enjoy meeting Dani and I look forward to your comments.
by Deb Logan
A SHIVER OF ANTICIPATION raced along my spine as Allie and I ducked inside the fortune-teller’s tent. My parents didn’t approve of psychic nonsense, but they’d allowed me to come to the carnival with Allie’s family as a pre-birthday treat. The even bigger treat? Not a single one of my older brothers was tailing me. If the Erickson boys were at the carnival, they were enjoying their own night out, not watching over their baby sister.
Turning fourteen had its advantages!
The inside of the tent lived up to all my expectations. A thick Turkish rug covered the brittle, brown August grass and swags of colorful silk festooned the sidewalls and ceiling, ropes of twinkling LED lights camouflaged within the folds. A small table draped in blood-red velvet sat in the center of the small enclosure. A single intricately carved high-backed chair occupied the far side, while two folding chairs waited for us.
Allie glanced at me as if seeking reassurance. The corners of her lips curved in a timid smile and her eyes widened. “Are you sure we want to do this?”
I grabbed her hand and pulled her to the folding chairs. “This was your idea, remember? We’re here. We’re not backing out.” I plopped onto a chair and waited. Allie lit on the very edge of hers, muscles tensed for flight.
A figure disengaged from the draping silk and approached the carved chair.
“I am Madame Simone. Welcome to my den of enlightenment. This place is hallowed, serving as a threshold to the great beyond.”
The olive-skinned woman was swathed from head to toe in a rainbow of silk. Small golden discs dangled from her headdress, gracing her forehead and calling attention to dark, liquid eyes. She studied my best friend for a moment and then turned her attention to me.
“You have come at an auspicious moment,” she said, and lowered herself gracefully into the high-backed chair. Leaning forward, she placed long-fingered hands upon the velvet tablecloth. “Tell me what you seek.”
Allie uttered a nervous squeak and huddled back in her chair, moving as far from the fortune-teller as possible without jumping and running.
I glanced at Allie and then faced the psychic. “Aren’t you supposed to tell us what we need to know?” I don’t like people intimidating my friends.
“What you need to know,” the woman murmured, holding my gaze and refusing to allow my escape. “Are you sure you’re ready for that? Wouldn’t you rather I told you silly tidbits about boys and kisses and who to dance with at homecoming?”
I straightened my shoulders, but didn’t look away. Her sarcastic tone bugged me. Allie and I might be young, but we were paying for this woman’s time.
“Look, just do your thing, okay? We paid for a reading, so read.”
Madame Simone’s smile could’ve frozen Boulder Reservoir. “As you wish.” She inclined her head, breaking our eye-lock, and turned to Allie, “Your hand, my dear.”
Allie placed her right hand in Madame Simone’s left and shuddered slightly when the woman traced the lines in Allie’s palm with a perfectly manicured nail.
“I see a long life if you sever your relationship with dangerous friends,” the psychic said, spearing me with a pointed glance. “You will dance on the stage to the acclaim of millions. Beware the company of demons.”
Allie snatched her hand back the moment Madame Simone released it and cradled it to her chest.
The fortune-teller cocked an eyebrow at me and held out her hand.
Time slowed. My heart thumped wildly, but the air had thickened, making it hard to breathe. Something moved just beyond my peripheral vision, and a desperate desire to flee seized my soul.
And then the moment passed and everything snapped back to normal. I sat in a stuffy little tent with too many silk drapes and a middle-aged woman who looked at me expectantly.
“Sure. Whatever.” I placed my hand in hers…and a jolt like electricity convinced me I’d made a huge mistake. My hand jerked reflexively, but she held on tight and smiled an enigmatic little grin.
“As I suspected,” she murmured, drawing her index finger along my palm and studying the lines like they spelled minuscule words. “You are the seventh … the child of a seventh … and you stand at the cusp.”
She closed her eyes and held my hand open between both of hers. A sharp intake of breath and her eyes widened and sought mine. Fear glazed her eyes.
“Tomorrow a great burden will descend upon you. Have a care lest it crush you…and all who care for you.”
With that happy thought she released my hand, sprang from her chair and melted back into the shadows.
“That’s it?” I yelled after her. “Whatever happened to you’re going to meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger?”
Anger mixed with a heavy helping of fear and roiled in my stomach. I wanted to hit someone. Instead, I grabbed Allie’s hand and the two of us sprinted from the tent.
“What a load of …”
“Hush, Dani,” Allie said, glancing over her shoulder. “Let’s go find my folks.”
I huffed, but allowed my pretty little ballerina of a buddy to drag me into the throng of people wandering the midway. Alejandra Chavez had been my best friend since preschool. She was everything I’d ever wanted to be; everything my whole family still hoped I’d become. Dainty, graceful, feminine to the core, Allie was a lady, in all the best senses of the word. She played the piano with finesse and danced like a rose petal on a summer breeze. Of course, grace came more easily to her five-feet-two-inch frame than it did to my towering five-feet-ten-inches. At least, that’s how I consoled myself. Whatever my talents were, I’d yet to discover them. I just kind of bobbed along in Allie’s wake, never quite measuring up to her shining example.
She pulled to a stop when we spotted her parents tossing rings over bottles at a nearby booth. “Okay. Listen, we don’t want to upset Mom and Dad, so let’s pretend we never went in that psycho’s tent.”
I inhaled lungfuls of crisp night air, doing my best to calm my breathing and make my sprinting heart slow to a peaceful crawl. Alarmed parents would only ensure a quick trip home. Besides, there were still plenty of rides and games to explore that didn’t involve weird middle-aged women wrapped in silk.
“Gotcha.” I nodded. “Everything is peachy. We’re having a grand time.”
Allie stared at me, a small frown creasing her flawless brow. “Are you alright, Dani? She didn’t scare you, did she?”
“Of course not,” I scoffed, wishing my stomach agreed. “Tomorrow’s my birthday. What kind of great burden hits someone on her fourteenth birthday? I mean, it’s not like I’m turning sixteen and Dad’s gonna give me a car I could crash. Get real.”
Allie smiled a knowing little smile, one that said she saw right through my bravado. She patted my arm and said, “I knew you’d be okay with it. Let’s see if we can help Dad win that stuffed tiger for Mom.”
I grinned and we joined Mr. and Mrs. Chavez, but I had to force myself not to turn around and study the crowd. Someone was watching us. I could feel their focus … and my skin tingled in response.
Thanks for reading! Part 2 will be posted on 6/1/15.
Posted by Cat-Gerlach
I’m hijacking this week. Originally, Peter meant to post something about his progress, his kidneys, and the rest of the universe, but I thought you might be interested that Will Hahn’s final volume of Judgement’s Tale, Clash of Wills, is now available for sale as an eBook. The print book will follow soon, and the second print book bundle (containing volume 3&4) will come out by the end of the month.
About the Book:
As the heavenly portents align, a mystic portal to the Hopeward opens again, letting a few goodly souls enter the prison where a comrade was marooned and evil beyond measure has laid a trap. For the heroes, it is not enough to uncover danger—wit and skill can carry them to its presence, but resolve and sacrifice are needed to defeat it. If it can be defeated. The challenge is often to choose one wrong over another, to accept the consequences when only the one prize most dear can be saved.
Treaman and his adventuring party discover just how quickly fame and fortune evaporate, once back in the clutches of the Percentalion; three miserable refugees of that chaos-cursed land will die unless the star-gazing preacher Alaetar can beat back the monsters at their heels.
And Solemn Judgement, the Man in Grey, faces an undead thane of ancient times; he must decide whether the only friends he has ever found will live, or if the Lands will again suffer the curse of Despair when facing the… [i]Clash of Wills[/i]
You can get it on Amazon. Other retailers will follow.