Wednesday, September 21, 2011

At Long Last

My first book, That Hideous Slumber is now available to order in print...!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Child of Thunder (Chapter Eight)

Contrary to previous statements, I've decided to start posting chapters of Child of Thunder... so you'll be able to read it for free, all the way through, right here. Now, these are all largely unedited drafts, so they're going to be a little rough around the edges. Once I finish the story, I'll go back through and give everything a little (or a lot of) polish to get it ready for publishing.

Still waiting for the second draft proof copy of That Hideous Slumber. Longest weekend ever, possibly.

Chapter Eight: The Pale Hand of Death

In the wake of Xyd’s downfall the other vultures scattered, crowing fearfully. All became a wild confusion of feathers and dirt flying everywhere in the dimly lit nest. I could only stare at the dead bird, watching as it bled silently. The corpse seemed to be expanding, blowing up like a balloon. Gryndor appeared out of the chaos and grabbed me firmly by the arm. “Time to go!” he exclaimed.

“What… what’s happening to him?” I asked. I couldn’t help feeling a little in shock. One second ago I’d been resisting temptation to evil, now I was fleeing from something I could not understand. I stumbled a bit as I was pulled along, so intently was I staring.

“No time to explain!” Gryndor replied, huffing for breath. “We have to get out of here.” He pulled a long strip off the hem of his gray robe. He ran it back and forth between his hands for a moment, till it began to take on a life of its own, writhing like a snake. He let it go and it began to fly through the air in circles around us as Gryndor rushed us towards a wall.

And then quite suddenly we were on the ground, grass beneath our feet. We’d teleported. This I understood, this my brain could handle as I’d done it before.

What I couldn’t understand was that it was night. A bright pair of moons shone down from on high, one red, one blue. These I could understand, as I’d seen them before. But why was it night? How long had I been up there? Xyd’s magic must have altered my perception of time somehow.

But the next thing I noticed was much more difficult to handle.

Why was everyone dying?

I could hear the sounds all around me, swords clashing, blood being spilt. Black figures like shadows given life seemed to be killing everything they came across, prisoner and guard alike. Gryndor stumbled and hit his knee. “It’s happening already… I don’t believe it. And here I am having used up too much energy.”

“What?” My voice didn’t sound like my own. It was panicked, confused, and a little angry. “What is going on?”

“The Anurae are attacking…” Gryndor began. Above us, the nest exploded in a supernova of flame that lit up the night. Burning splinters of wood rained down on us, a couple of them singeing my skin. The ruined tower wasn’t the only building that had been set ablaze. The night was colored in fiery orange, the nearby forest beginning to glow as it caught fire.

Why was everything burning?

My mind was threatening to shut down, so sudden and terrifying was this change. I looked to Gryndor, hoping for some direction. He was just beginning to rise. We seemed to be in a calm spot, the eye of a hurricane that was destroying everything around us. A little brown rabbit crawled from the shadows into the circle of light created by the ravaged vulture’s nest. His hind legs were soaked with blood, his face piteous with fright. Before I could come to its aid, a slender blade plunged into his chest, stabbing the last bit of life out of the poor thing.

In the wildest of my imaginings, I thought a demon might emerge from the darkness. At the very least, surely it would be a bear or a panther, or some other mighty predator. The last thing I expected was a frog.

The frog who approached us wore simple black robes that were open at the chest. His skin was painted black, except where splotches had variously either come off or been splattered with blood. The frog’s eyes bulged almost comically, spread to either side of his face. With his giant lips and awkward gait, the creature could have looked ridiculous, were it not for the crimson droplets on that sword and the fierce expression in those wide-set eyes.

I heard a challenging roar from my right, and a bear lumbered forward with mace held high. It was the very same bear I’d nearly barreled into yesterday. His dark fur blended in with the night nearly as well as the frog’s black body paint.

Caught between two terrible enemies, I was readying myself for a brutal fight when a long red rope shot from the frog. It passed right over where Gryndor lay crouched and flicked against the black bear’s skin. When blood splashed to the ground and spattered my chest, I realized there was a knife attached to that rope. When it was whipped back towards the frog, and I felt the wet droplets of saliva, I realized it was the creature’s tongue.

The frog let the dagger sway at chin level for a moment, then opened its mouth and let the knife slide back into hiding. The bear lay on the ground, stone dead from the terrible neck wound he’d received. The swordsman frog studied me for a moment, then opened his mouth to yell.

“I’ve found the mark!” it screamed, its voice was a high pitched croak. Gryndor swore under his breath and stood. I stepped close to his side. “I’ve found the…” the frog began to yell again but it was cut off as Daale cut the beast down from behind. The bear had a wild look in his eyes, exhausted but determined.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” Daale said breathlessly. “This place is going to hell pretty quick.”

“Really?” Gryndor replied calmly. “Hadn’t noticed.”

“We have to find Needha! I’m not leaving without her!” I interjected, jumping into the conversation.

“I’m sorry lad,” Daale told me. “I haven’t seen her.” He was leaning on his blade now, the weariness plain to see in his face and body language. What sort of day had I missed?

“Escape needs to be our priority.” Gryndor said firmly. The sounds of carnage echoed around us, seeming to ratify his point.

“NEEDHA!” I roared, letting my voice bellow as loud and deep as I could manage.

Gryndor reached for my hand, ready to pull me along, but I resisted. “We have to find her! And the other prisoners? What about Hayfinch?”

“He’s got a point.” Daale said. The bear glanced around, seemingly taking stock of our surroundings.

“It’s too dangerous!” Gryndor answered. “We have to GO.

Daale let his blade drop to the earth and stood close to Gryndor, their faces inches apart. He poked the deer in the chest. “If it was you… would you want to be left to die, or would you want to be rescued?”

Gryndor turned to walk away then. He seemed to be headed to the northern edge of the valley, where the chaos seemed greatest, the fires tallest. “Where are you going?” I asked.

“I suppose I’d want to be rescued,” he replied impatiently. “Now let’s get on with this. I really do not like this place.”



In the end we saved six, Needha among them. In was a small victory, infinitesimal against the backdrop of all the suffering we’d befallen, but it was just that all the same.

A victory.

Even the emperor himself couldn’t take that away from us. We stood in a pass north of the valley that led deeper into the mountains. It was our way out, perhaps the only way out, since we knew the road by which we’d entered was well guarded. Every one of the animals around me was fire blackened, their fur matted with soot. I knew I could not look much different. I could see patches of darkness on my bare skin as well.

We’d gathered here to wait for Gryndor. Daale had wanted to do a final sweep of the area for survivors, but Gryndor had insisted. It was only prudent, after all, since the deer was far stealthier and more agile than the mighty bear.

I stood at Needha’s side, a hand buried in her thick brown fur, feeling a little afraid she’d vanish on me. The bison had not been treated well, but fortunately had not been stuck here long. The other five we’d rescued, however, had not had the same luck.

Hayfinch we’d found under a cart, one of his ears lopped off. The old soldier had gotten hold of a sword, and managed to kill a few of the frogs before a number of wounds had forced him into hiding to bandage himself.

The rest were an elderly llama, a little deer girl, a rat-like creature with an eyepatch over one eye, and a one armed panther. These four had been holed up in a barn that had caught fire. We’d had to fight off several Anurae closing in on them.

Our new army.

The frogs, I’d learned, were the hirelings of Daale’s father. They were here for Daale, Gryndor, and I. Once the Anurae were hired, they killed everything they came into contact with until they found their mark, or marks, and eliminated them. The emperor had willingly unleashed them upon his own people, caring little for the consequences.

Less still was the care he bestowed on his son, a supposed heir to his very throne.

As we waited, we watched the valley burn. There was a slope before us that ran down from the edge of the pass where we stood. It was a bit vulnerable, rising from the floor of the valley up into the hidden folds of the rock where we were. It was this slope Gryndor would race up any moment now, with or without more victims of the labor camp, and the Emperor’s cruelty.

“How did you escape?” I asked Daale as we waited. I was curious as to how he and Gryndor had been able to get free. Gryndor had been able to sneak into Xyd’s lair and dispatch him long before the chaos that had overcome the labor camp should have allowed.

“We bribed the guard. I knew him from long ago, knew his family could use a little extra money. He in turn trusted me not to cause too much trouble. Trouble, as you noticed, found us instead. We were working on your rescue when the frogs arrived. I had no idea he planned on killing that vulture. Didn’t even know it was possible.” As I recall Daale’s tone was incredulous, as if he couldn’t believe some of the words coming out of his own mouth.

I had a hard time believing them myself, admittedly.

But that was all I had to hold onto just then. Words. My direction in this new life I led depended entirely on whose words I trusted and whose I rejected. So far, I’d chosen Daale, Needha, and Gryndor. Their words I trusted.

It wasn’t long before Gryndor came walking up that path. Lit up against burning vegetation and shadowy in the dead of night, I couldn’t help seeing a bit of a demon in the horned creature. The tinsel was still in his antlers. The gold caught a spark of light as he walked, making them glow a little. As he grew closer, I shook my head, and the comparison fled. This was no demon, only my friend.

In evading the flames the frogs had brought with them, he’d been forced to shed his gray robes. I saw he was clad now in slacks and a plain white shirt. The deer’d lost an aspect of mystery that had hung around him. It was more plain now than ever that the creature was younger than he let on.

Though at first I assumed his rescue efforts were entirely without success, I was surprised to see a squirrel clutching to his back. All bets were off as I was concerned when it came to guessing ages here, but I had the feeling it was another child. A two foot tall squirrel. There was a time when such a sight would have surprised me. Now, I just took it in stride.

“Well?” He asked with typical impatience. Let’s get a move on.” Daale nodded. Our sense of duty satisfied, it was certainly time to go. The only thing staying could accomplish was the level of danger increasing still further.

And so six became seven, and our “army” gained yet another child. We turned our faces from the valley, ready to flee. Though we’d filled many, I was certain that even more still remained, fully enough to slaughter us all if they came upon us.

As we climbed, the smoke followed us. Fumes rose in black waves, all of us covering our noses (or snouts, where applicable) with strips of cloth. The incline continued, drawing us up and out.

And so it was that I did not see the foe at hand until it was too late. A single frog stuck to the stone to our right, climbing silently along. Slipping out of the smoke, his knife had darted out and struck me in the chest before anyone even knew he was there. That long, red tongue slid back, and suddenly my blood had been set free. All of it seemed to be rushing to escape.

But if all my blood is running around loose, where does that leave me?

It seemed an insane thought, perhaps the last idea my brain could form. I had no memory of falling to the ground, but that was where I found myself. I could hear sounds of a scuffle, possibly. I also might have heard someone or something being dispatched, but it’s entirely possible I imagined the whole thing, out of the hope that my killer would be brought to Lady Justice something swift like.

Furred hands that felt icy against my skin propped me up and bandaged my wounds, but what good was locking the cage when the lions were already roaming free? All my blood was on the outside, soaking into the earth. Would it well up and overwhelm me?

Could I drown in my own blood? I had to consider the possibility.

Daale and Gryndor seemed to fall to arguing sometime after I was tended to. I heard snippets only, snippets of voices raised in anger.

“…can’t take him to your homeland! How could I go there?” I heard the bear prince exclaim. “I’m certain that…”

“…not quite the issue here.” Gryndor answered. “Herons? The healers live in lawless country. He wouldn’t survive that kind of trek.”

“…what then? He can’t have much time… if he dies, our hope could…” Daale’s voice sounded desperate, possibly even panicked. I wanted to ask him what was the matter, but I couldn’t speak. My voice was hiding from me.

I tried to rise, but my limbs wouldn’t obey me any more than my wayward voice. I felt cold. Ten thousand winters settling into my bones, as if to fill the void my vacating fluids were opening up.

Meanwhile, those angry tones rattled on, so full of life and warmth. “…to the rams.” Gryndor was insisting. “Yes, it is far I agree, but if we can revive him, just for… could buy enough time.

I didn’t hear Daale’s response well enough to comprehend it. His words sounded dark, low, and infuriated.

“It’ll be a special sort of spell. Only my master…” Gryndor sounded earnest now as he explained. “…necessary to reverse it. The damned herons won’t be able to help by then!”

“…suppose it’s settled then. Do what you must.” Daale’s voice was brittle enough to snap. Perhaps I wasn’t the only one touched by the cold.

I felt myself being propped up again. Heard paper rustling.

“Riley…” the words seemed to echo, stretched out by a tunnel or a canyon. Surely the speaker was far, far away, not someone close enough to touch. I was delirious, unsure of anything. But someone was definitely touching me. It wasn’t too much of a stretch to imagine they were talking to me too. But whoever they were, their clutch was nowhere near as firm as that of the pale hand of death that gripped me so tightly.

“Riley. Listen to me.” I was being summoned. They would say my name three times, and I would appear. That meant I had to wait for the third, otherwise the people summoning me would get confused about how it worked. “I know it hurts, but we need you to be strong, just for a few more seconds. Come on Riley, stay with us.”

That was it.

Third time.

I had to answer now. I fought hard against the cold, but it was too strong. I couldn’t move anymore. I managed to jerk my arms and legs, but little else. “Ok, you have to sign this contract. It’s the only way you’ll be able to survive.” I felt an ink quill being pressed against my fingers. Paper rustled again. Somewhere near my limp arm was that paper I’d heard rustling.

My eyes were desperate to roll back into my head and stay there, but I forced myself up for one, two, three seconds and scribbled out something that could have said Jolly King of England for all I knew but was meant to say “Riley M. Rennington.” The contract was signed. Whatever that meant.

And then my eyes retreated to their hiding place

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Child of Thunder (Chapter Seven)

Chapter Seven: An Invitation to Breakfast

There are but two things you need to know about the night we passed as captives.

First, that despite several hours of discussion, we’d come up with no feasible plan. We were trapped in a room with only one exit, which was heavily guarded. We had no weapons, and Gryndor could think of no tricks that could get us out. Apparently, whatever stone the building around us was born of, it made magic very difficult.

Secondly, Gryndor had taught me a new spell. It was the art of being “difficult to notice”. The deer had told me that it would make me mentally slippery to others, and difficult to focus on. Essentially, it was the power of invisibility without the pesky issue of not being able to see my feet. If I could master it. He had stressed that that would take a little time.

Passing the night on bare, cold rock is one life experience I could have done without. Even with my cloak laid out beneath me, it was still terribly uncomfortable. I woke up stiff and hungry, my toes freezing. As I idly looked at my surroundings as I awoke, it took me a moment to notice that Daale and Gryndor were bound again, along with Hayfinch the rabbit.

I alone was free, not counting the timid beasts who’d been watching us from the corner. I was certain after some observation they were mostly rabbits, along with a few squirrels and a fox. What the poor things had done to deserve being trapped here, I could not say. I alone was free. A thin brown bear stood near the door, one I didn’t think I’d seen before. He seemed to have been waiting for something. When he stepped forward as I stirred, I realized he’d been waiting for me to wake up.

“Good morning sir. The mighty wizard Xyd, overseer of Ursyne labor camp number seven wishes to extend to you an invitation to breakfast. Immediately upon your awakening, you are to make haste and meet with him at your earliest convenience.” When I did not respond, the bear added. “Your earliest convenience… is now, if I’m not mistaken. Let’s be moving along, sir.”

There was no sign of any chains or ropes. They weren’t going to bind me. I could hardly believe it. I didn’t think Gryndor could have anticipated things going this way, but he couldn’t have possibly picked a better skill to teach me.

I followed the bear out of the room I’d passed such uncomfortable time in. We moved into a long hall. Two bears stood on either side of us, guarding the exit, each wielding an enormous mace with wicked spikes sprouting from the business end. One of them glanced at me and snarled, as if he were reluctant to let me leave.

Immediately I went to work on making myself invisible. I concentrated on making my presence shrink. In my minds’ eye I pictured myself growing smaller and smaller. I imagined people looking for me and looking straight through me. There were magic words to this spell just like the others, but I was afraid if I uttered anything strange, it would alert the bear to my intentions. I was also afraid it wouldn’t work at all… if Gryndor had difficulties here, why should I be any different? But the deer had also told me that the rules would not always apply to me, perhaps one of the most significant things anyone had told me since my arrival.

We walked down the hall and through several twisting corridors. At first, the bear chatted with me, telling me about bear things I didn’t entirely understand. Most of them seemed to have to do with happenings in the city.

After a few minutes of attempting to make my existence as thin as a shadow, he spoke less. The bear grew confused, twice stopping midsentence. He seemed to have gotten the feeling he’d been talking to himself, then remembered I was there. Finally when we reached a crossroads with corridors stretching away in either direction, I fled.

I didn’t know where I was going. I ran just to run. The spell I was working had its limitations, however. The guard was confused, but he wasn’t going to forget about me or fail to see which way I’d gone. I was pretty sure it was possible to achieve true invisibility, but not without practice. Indeed, it wasn’t long before I heard the creature giving chase, nails scraping against stone.

The hallway curved and I nearly ran right into a large bear with fur as dark as a moonless night sky. I skidded to a stop mere seconds from running into him. He looked downward with a frown, probably as confused as the bear barreling down the hallway on all fours after me.

I did an about face and ran another way. This time, I didn’t run for long before I burst outside. Daylight dazzled my eyes as early morning cold bit into my bare chest. There was dew on the ground, I could feel it on the blades of grass beneath my feet. I cast an eye back towards the building I’d left. Both bears were in pursuit now.

I woozily dropped to my knees with sudden exhaustion and was forced to let the spell drop. Hiding in plain sight was no longer an option. Not that it had gone particularly well for me in the first place. Ahead of me I saw nothing but fields, beasts already toiling despite the youth of the day. Was that our fate if we stayed here? If we failed somehow to escape? My heart burned with a passion to see everyone here free, and to see every one of these awful slapdash buildings fall to the ground in heaps of ashes, their embers the only life left.

That’s all this valley was to me. A place of hatred and fear.

The skinny brown bear caught up to me in the same instance that a black vulture swooped out of the sky. It looked just like the one I’d seen yesterday, except it had an eyepatch over one eye. “We knew you would not be able to handle the child,” the vulture slurred mockingly, voice strangely thick.

“I had it under control!” The bear cried, his patience long spent. “The second bear watched everything passively. “How dare you run away from me!” Brown Fur cried, striking me across the chest, raking his sharp claws into my flesh.

I cried out as I fell backward, the blow knocking me off my feet. I was ready to expend the last of my energy incinerating the bear, but the vulture intervened, stepping between us. “Do not think your actions will go unpunished, foolish one.” The bird hissed. The bird stretched out a gloved hand and helped me to my feet. “I was to deliver him unharmed. What shall I tell Xyd now, hmm?”

This statement seemed to turn the bear’s heart to liquid and his legs to jelly. He caved fearfully, all but dropping to his knees and begging.

“Please, Xynder, I’m sorry. I was frustrated. He just gave me the slip, that’s all.” But his cries fell on deaf ears, the vulture ignored him, stretching out a long black wing and ushering me away.

“Your time in this camp does not have to be unpleasant. As long as you do as Xyd askes, you will probably survive alright. Your friends however… will not live long much longer, I can promise you that.” It was the bird’s turn to have words fall to someone unwilling to hear. “Have a little care in the company you keep, or your doom is most assuredly near.”

I held my tongue, knowing nothing I had to say would please him. The bird walked me to the tower that stood at the center of the settlement. It was frighteningly unstable in appearance, perhaps the worst of all the structures in the camp. Just a skeletal frame of wooden beams capped by a building that looked too large for its stilts. It seemed to be completely closed off to the outside world. The only openings I saw seemed to be little slits, a few of which seemed to have little twigs sticking out of them.

"You're a lucky child to have caught Xyd's eye. Fleeing was unwise, as I'm sure you'll soon learn." I was pushed towards a ladder than looked as though it would collapse with a touch. Yet I didn't feel I had much choice, the way that bird stared with its single eye.

My limbs felt heavy as I began my ascent. This magic business was a frustrating endeavor. I was tired of feeling exhausted all the time. It made it hard to think. It felt crucial that I have all my faculties but there wasn't much I could do about that now, was there?

A slender square of black soon gobbled me up. I emerged into a dimly lit sort of nest. Twigs and such lined all the walls. At the center of the room there was a layer of forest debris that lay like a carpet. I stood in between, a layer of sticks behind, the heart of the vulture's lair ahead.

The bird sat on a soiled pillow, a little gaggle of his awful friends hunching around him. Thin slats of light slithered in through slots that probably afforded a view of the whole camp. Somebody could easily cast their glance through one without alerting anyone down below they were being spied upon.

“Come closer, little boy…” Xyd crowed. His feathers were a patchwork of black and white. It seemed Gryndor’s magic had had a lasting effect. The vultures stared silently at me as I approached, feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable. Blood from the scratches on my chest ran down in long red lines. They were shallow cuts, but they still stung. I crossed my arms and walked forward, wondering what the awful beast could what from me.

If I hadn’t already worn myself a little too thin, I might have tried to kill the bird right there. I couldn’t help feeling it would save us a little trouble. As it was, I just stood there hunched a bit. It was colder up here, even colder than the morning air had been. In the shadows I probably almost looked like another vulture, shoulders stiff.

“You may be wondering why you are here, but the wise and powerful Xyd is not without his mercies. This place may seem like squalor, but I can give you anything you desire, I assure you.” As if on cue, my stomach began to rumble. A steaming bowl of what looked like rice suddenly appeared before me, hovering just within reach. An appetizing scent filled the air, enticing me to reach forward. My hand however grasped nothing but empty air. The image wavered and vanished.

The smell clung to my nostrils for a moment, its lingering only serving to make me hungrier than ever. What sort of devilry was this? “You invite me to breakfast, then offer me teasing parlor tricks?” I replied petulantly. “No thank you sir.”

“I can show you more than tricks, foolish child.” Xyd answered, his calm cracking like a dam under strain. “Believe you me.” The room lit up suddenly as if from a thousand torches, and yet I saw no source of light. Tables all around us groaned under the weight of the food they bore. Feast upon feast, a banquet for an army, all of it filling the bird’s nest with pleasing aromas.

But I felt certain that, as before, it was all a ruse.

I shook my head, unimpressed.

Xyd sighed and spoke slowly, as if dealing with an unruly child. “Do you not understand what I’m offering you?” The vulture stamped his foot against the ground, and the room went dark again. In the shadow I could tell all the tantalizing food had vanished. “The emperor is a powerful beast. This whole world is going to be in his control sooner or later…” Xyd intoned.

Suddenly I saw before me a square like a window. It floated in the air between the vultures and I, showing a landscape of green. It rolled across fields and hills, terrain that looked exactly like the place I’d traversed with Gryndor and Daale. Soon enough misty mountainside appeared within. The window grew, encompassing my full field of view. It swooped through a cloud, and I felt cold air brush against my cheeks. A lungful of rainy air filled my lungs.

And then it was gone. I was flying high over the mountains, over everything, till the whole earth seemed to be there beneath me. The sight of it was breathtaking.

To the south, jungle.

To the north, an ocean. The whorl of a large island chain lay there like a great eye, staring at the world around it.

To the west, a smattering of immense forests. The rapidly shrinking realm of the deer.

And to the east… desert. For reasons I could not fathom, my heart began to pound when I caught side of that sandy expanse. Something of my destiny lay in that place.

After seeming to hang there up high for a long time, I suddenly began to feel as though I was falling. The mountains grew closer again, but we didn’t narrow in on the labor camp like I expected. Instead, Uryn grew near, that city born from the husk of a dead mountain. The streets flew by. I saw bears going about their day, guards patrolling the streets, even a skinny little thing balancing on a ball. He was snuffing out the light in a lantern with a long pole.

After a few minutes spent flying low through the streets of the city, the doors of the palace appeared before me. I’d seen them from a distance before, when I’d been clambering up to the tower, but never so close up. They were enormous silver things, shimmering with images and effigies. My perspective moved right towards the door as if to crash through it but I passed through immaterially. On the other side a courtyard sprawled, layered with gardens and bush mazes.

Then it was on through another set of gleaming double doors, into a cavernous hall. A great bear, larger than any I’d ever seen, sat at court there. His throne was the size of a wagon, with cushions that would have surely swallowed me up.

Basson knelt before him. “My spies report Daale has arrived at camp seven to the north.”

Suddenly it all disappeared. I nearly hit the floor, feeling jarred. It was as though I’d been picked up and then dropped without warning. Or perhaps more accurately, it was like climbing stairs in the dark, suddenly you reach out, and there’s one less stair than you expect, and you nearly lose your footing. I’d lost my awareness of myself in the strange forced vision I’d just experienced, and hadn’t been expecting to gain it back so suddenly.

“So you see, such is the strength and splendor of your emperor. I even in all my power serve him. Think on that before you resist me.” The sorcerer had an awestruck quality to his voice. I wondered if everyone had seen things as I’d seen them.

My convictions were firm.

“There is nothing to think about,” I replied a bit haughtily. “I would never help you, nor join your cause. I would sooner die.”

“Do not think that cannot be all too easily arranged,” Xyd replied. The rage was less veiled this time. I was angering him. It was clear his strange tricks were meant to impress me. My unfeeling dismissal of what the vulture had shown me infuriated him.

As it turned out, however, I would never have to worry about my next move. Gryndor made it for me.

“I am sorry,” The wizard said, “but the only death on the docket for the day is your own.” With that I saw the bird suddenly fall forward, collapsing to the floor. Gryndor pulled a bloody knife from Xyd’s back and began to wipe it clean with a rag produced from somewhere within the folds of his robe.

Just like that, the mighty wizard Xyd, overseer of Ursyne labor camp number seven was…


Monday, September 5, 2011

Publishing will probably take a week longer than I thought. I'm just going to stop trying to pin down a date, because it's failing miserably. Sorry! I'll keep you posted!

"Like" this post, and I'll throw chapter seven of COT up. :D

P.S. A copy of That Hideous Slumber is on its way to me in the mail. A hard copy. Eeeeeee!!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Adventures in Publishing

So... slight delay in the release of the print version of That Hideous Slumber. I guess there's a review period before they send it through. This shouldn't have caught me off guard, since the digital version had a wait period on it too, but it did. So I was planning on releasing the book today, but now we're looking at a Monday launch date. All the other issues seem to be worked out, however, so hopefully that will be the end of it.

Right now the book will run you a fairly reasonable $7.99, which is the standard price of a mass market paperback. It'll only be available through Amazon and Createspace for now, but apparently it will eventually be possible to reach a broader market more easily than I anticipated (It looks like THS could even wind up libraries soonish). The problem is, that will cost more money, so for now to keep prices down I'm going to keep things simple.

While talk has largely centered around That Hideous Slumber, I've not been neglecting my next book by any means. I'm crossing the threshold from chapter 15 to 16 now and liking the way things have come together. I'm really excited to finish this story, and I'm also looking forward to my next book (number three for those keeping score) which will be called "The Spring Life". My first(ish) book with a modern setting.

Later llamas!