The Magic Starts Here

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows that I am an author. I know we all got gobsmacked by the results of our national election last November, and we’ll be dealing with the fallout from that for years, maybe for the rest of my life given the speed at which the world I know is being dismantled right before my eyes.

Anyway, for that reason, I’ve decided to write this blog post about writing.

I am now (trumpets blaring) at 92,000 words and nearing completion of the third book in my fantasy trilogy-that-may-not-stop-at-three-books.

RisingFTAshesfinal

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For any of you who haven’t read Rising From the Ashes and The Portal, what in the world is wrong with you? For those who have, thank you!

So, for the uninitiated, this trilogy (we’ll stick with that for now) is set in ancient Ireland, about 700-800 CE. This era in Éire’s history is fascinating. Christianity had been introduced only about 300-400 years previously. We really don’t know how stubbornly people clung to the old ways because the monks who wrote the histories had their own agenda. (And we thought fake news was a new thing…)

In my world, the old ways and magic aren’t giving up that easily. Mages and keepers of the old ways are still finding children born with magic, training them and teaching them the old traditions.

We know the Romans never bothered to cross the Irish Sea to conquer Ireland. Too much trouble, I guess. So the Irish Celts were left to the rival clans fighting things out amongst themselves although they had a High King… sometimes. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of agreement on just how widespread the High King’s influence was, and there’s a lot of evidence that the rival clans continued to war with one another.

I took a bit (or more than a bit) of liberty with the political environment of Éire in my stories in terms of which clans were Christianized versus which still straddled the line between the old ways and the new.

And then, just to make things interesting, enter… the Vikings! These seafarers from the north countries – modern-day Norway, Denmark, Sweden – were expanding their territories, either for trading, raiding and/or settling. The Viking invasions of Ireland began in this same era that my stories are taking place. The invasions were sometimes successful, sometimes thwarted. The Irish gave as good as they got, and the fighting was by all accounts pretty brutal. We know monasteries throughout Éire and Britannia were sacked repeatedly. Eventually, the Vikings did manage to conquer enough territory in Ireland, that they had their own settlements, such as Dubhlinn, now the capital city of Dublin, as well as Cork, Waterford – mostly coastal settlements.

So the factual part of the history was all stuff I needed to research. See the folder in this photo?

Folder 1

This is where the magic begins!

This is my treasure trove of most of the research I’ve done for this trilogy. There are tons of bookmarked websites as well, but this folder has traveled with me daily for well over a year and a half. It has all kinds of scribbled notes, lists of Irish names, tons of maps of which clans ruled where in which era.

Folder 3

It even has a page detailing the sexual habits of badgers. They are horny little critters and apparently quite loud while doing it. They love sex almost as much as they love digging! And female badgers can hold their embryos in a kind of suspended animation so that they implant in the uterus when conditions are favorable for the cubs to survive. They really are fascinating. As we all know. Broc and Cuán were two of my favorite characters in this trilogy.

Folder 2

Anyone who writes historical fiction can tell you how much research goes into tracking down authentic details. You really have to get it right, because someone out there knows more about everything than you do, and if you mess with the details, they will let you know about it (hopefully kindly).

Not everyone enjoys doing research, but I do. I’ve learned so much in the historical novels I’ve written. Only a tiny bit of the research actually makes it into the stories, but hopefully, the knowledge base that is there comes through in a feeling of authenticity when you read the books.

The magic comes when  readers say they felt transported into the world you created. When that happens, it all comes together.

Soon, you’ll be able to delve into The Standing Stones, the third book in The Dragonmage Saga! I’ll reveal a cover and blurb soon.

Remember That Wolf?

Back in November, the day our world changed with the results of our national election, I blogged HERE about feeding the right wolf – about not giving in to the bad, the ugly, the hateful.

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                                     (source: youtube.com)

Today are the Women’s marches around the country to protest the new regime – and I use that word in every negative sense it has. The incoming president has already used and abused his power to punish people and government services who dared point out how small the crowds were at his unauguration; moves have already been taken to make it harder for low and middle income people to get mortgages; the republicans have already taken steps to undo so much of the progress that has been made over the past eight years.

And it WAS progress. Don’t they remember how fast the economy was imploding? How many people were losing jobs by the thousands, along with their benefits like health insurance and retirement? President Obama wasn’t perfect, nor were his all of his policies, but holy cow! Look at what he inherited! Where in the world was he supposed to start?

Now, unemployment is lower than it’s been in decades, jobs are on the rise – and hwwnbn CANNOT take credit for those things as they were in the works for the past few years. Millions of people have health insurance who didn’t have it before. We’ve pulled out of one war we were mired in eight years ago. The economy is stable – or at least it was.

Dan Rather has become a voice of reason and hope for me. If you’re on Facebook (and sometimes I wish I weren’t), you might want to check his page out. Yesterday, he wrote this: “Our democracy demands debate and dissent – fierce, sustained, and unflinching when necessary. I sense that tide is rising amongst an opposition eager to toss aside passivity for action. We are already seeing a more emboldened Democratic party than I have witnessed in ages. It is being fueled by a fervent energy bubbling from the grassroots up, rather than the top down.” To read the rest of his post, go HERE.

The groundswell has begun. We are feeding the right wolf. To the women marching, here in the US and around the world, be safe. Be strong. Here are the pink hats my partner and her friend made for my sister and niece and friends who will be in DC today.

pink-hats

We really have to find ways now of holding those in power accountable for their actions – or inactions. We need to begin now working to change thing with our next election in two years. We need to keep feeding the right wolf.

Pax

Pax Tecum 2016

I recently read a blog post by another author about how those “our wonderful year in review” letters drive her crazy. I promise never to do that to you, but this past year has felt like such  mix of good and bad that I find myself feeling really ambivalent about 2016.

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Source: earthsky.org

Of course, the year ended on such a despairing note with our election here in the US, and all of the ugliness that has bubbled to the surface since. On a global scale, it seems the world has gone crazy – from the horrors in Syria and Aleppo to the rise of isolationist, far-right extremism in many different countries.

The flip side of the ugly is that there has been a groundswell of determination from those of us who don’t support the incoming regime and all it represents, who are sharing their stories of standing up to the bullies and the bigots. It seems the spirit of the holidays – whatever holidays you celebrate – are best represented by stories of kindness and respect.

As we were in the car today, driving to spend Christmas with family, we listened to hours of Christmas music, and I wondered what in the world I could write about for this holiday blog. Then Josh Groban’s “Thankful” played. That song summed up just about all I’d been thinking about.

There is so much yet to do, but there is so much to be thankful for.  Do what takes care of you. Hold your loved ones near if you’re fortunate enough to have people you love. I know for many, family time is stressful, not loving or kind. Renew or find a purpose to pull you outside yourself – there are so many organizations that need help. Read, pray, ponder the beauty of a winter night.

I wish for all of us a 2017 in which love and good overcome all.

Pax tecum,

Caren

 

Meet the Men of Lesbian Fiction

If you follow lesbian fiction at all, you’ve probably seen many names that have become synonymous with the genre. What you may also have noticed is that a couple of those names belong to men. I thought it would be interesting to find out a bit more about two of the men who have become successful lesbian fiction authors, Erik Schubach and Geonn Cannon. (Yes, I had to ask to make sure, Geonn=John, which will be explained in a bit!)

On to the good stuff:

So, guys, tell us a little about yourselves! Where did you grow up? Where are you among your siblings in birth order? What’s your favorite junk food?

Geonn: My name is Geonn Cannon, I’m from Oklahoma and I’m the youngest son. I have an older brother whose name is Geoff, so you can kind of see where my parents got the name from. My favorite junk food… does soda count? I drink a ton of soda. But I go through junk food phases. I’ll like something for a few months and then it switches to something else. Right now I’m in a tiny glazed donut phase. (Smart-aleck comment from interviewer: Oh… a “youngest” – though I notice you didn’t say “the youngest”, just “youngest son”. Nevertheless, speaking as an eldest, I am assuming that means you got away with murder!)

Erik: Well, I was found under a rock in England and was whisked over to the States when I was two. I’m the 2nd youngest of four in our litter. My favorite Junkfood? Chocolate éclairs of course. I share them with my imaginary pet platypus, Frank.

Me: that probably explains a lot, Erik, both the rock and the imaginary platypus. Lots of time to think up stories under a rock…

 

A lot of people would be surprised to find men writing lesbian fiction. How did you first get into writing and what made you decide to write about women loving women?

Erik: My two nieces are both gay, and so is my son. One of my nieces mentioned how there was a lack of stories that had just regular women who just happened to be gay, without the book focusing on the fact they were lesbian. That if the book didn’t have a focus on the lesbian aspect, then the characters were just the quirky gay best friend stereotype. I happen to love strong female leads in the books I read, like Honor Harrington, or Mercy Thompson, so I sat down one morning with an idea to merge that and my niece’s concerns. Two days later, Music of the Soul was born. The series became a hit and grew a huge following. So I didn’t stop there. I figured that if I could offer the types of characters people wanted to read and identify with in romance, why not other genres as well? So I expanded into scifi, paranormal, urban fantasy, and fairytales. All of my books feature strong female leads who just happen to be lesbians, just like some are right handed and some left, or blond or brunette. The fact that they are gay isn’t the focus of the book at all. Character development and emotion are the main focus. My Urban Fairytales series is quickly overtaking my Music of the Soul series for reader enthusiasm. The toughest question I am asked, being a male author writing about women in love is, “What would you know about being a lesbian?” The answer is quite simple… absolutely nothing. But I am human, and I understand emotion. People are people, and love is love; it shouldn’t matter if it is a man and a women, or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, or any other combination. We all share the same emotions and that is what I write and it translates across the rainbow.

Geonn: It wasn’t exactly a plan. I was trying to write Stargate SG-1 fanfiction (side note, I’m now a paid short story writer for the official Stargate novel company, with two stories and a novel to my credit). It wasn’t working, and I wasn’t figuring out how to make it work, so I just focused on the female characters. Sam and Janet were my favorites, so I thought I’d write about them and let everything else come later. That seemed to work, so I just kept focusing on them and, when I switched to original stories, I had enough of an audience that I decided to stick with a predominantly female cast.

 

If you’re comfortable answering this, are you married? And to whom? Any little ones?

Geonn: Nope, sadly single. Not even dating anyone. #available 

Erik: I have been married to the woman my fans affectionately know as Super Edit-y Person, for the past 26 years or so. Two spawn… one boy, one girl, and both are now adults and joyously evil and sarcastic like their parental units.

Me: Geonn, who knows? Maybe this interview will help you find the woman of your dreams, and Erik… I love that you call your kids spawn. And sarcastic. Your house must be a fun place.

 

Do you write full-time, or do you still have to keep a day job?

Erik: I had a full-time job as a web services manager (Fancy speak for webmaster) for 15 years when I started writing. By the time I had 12 books out at the end of the first year, I was able to quit my full time job to be a professional author. I write 2 hours a day and promote my books on social media for 2 hours a day, five days a week. Writing 2,000 words a day I am able to keep a one book a month release schedule with my books.

Geonn: I can just barely manage it on my writing. I do have a Patreon that helps out (https://www.patreon.com/GeonnCannon) and occasionally I’ll open up commissioned stories to help pad the bank account just a little bit.

Me: I’m envious of both of you. I’m still writing part-time and working a day job to pay bills and such.

 

Do you have any pets who help you write?

Geonn: I used to have a cat named Sahara, but she passed a few years ago. There’s now a stray named Smoky who was abandoned by the neighbors when they moved who seems to have adopted me.

Erik: I have too many of those kitten-shaped creatures who find it a joy to stomp all over the mouse and keyboard as I write. My dogs are more respectful and only stomp on my keyboard and send emails to my mom in the middle of the night when I am not working.

But my biggest helper is my imaginary pet platypus, Frank, who interacts with my fans and creates general mayhem and mischief as he steals my chocolate éclairs or give my books away to readers at random.

 

I have to confess, I’ve not yet read books by either of you. What’s your favorite genre to write – Romance? Paranormal? Mystery? For those who aren’t familiar with your work, which of your books would you recommend they start with?

Erik: My heavy hitters in both popularity and emotion are my lesbian romance books like the Music of the Soul, and London Harmony series, but my favorite genre to write in is urban fantasy or dystopian. My Urban Fairytales have had half of the seven books so far become number one international bestsellers online, and the rest hit the top five bestseller rank. So if you like a modern twist on old myths, then that is the series for you. My favorite labor of love hands down is my Techromancy Scrolls series which is a dystopian fantasy series that has a little of everything, knights, magic, Gypsies, and steampunkish tech being slowly developed. It is my most successful series… and the third book, Masquerade should be out in mid December, 2016. 

Geonn: I like telling people that I write novels about women who just happen to be lesbians. There is usually a romantic element – girl meets girl, falls in love – but the main focus is on what the situation is. A cop who is battling demons, a fugitive on the run for a crime she didn’t commit, a contract killer training a protégé. There aren’t enough stories out there featuring women in the lead role, so I like adding to those numbers. It just so happens that they tend to fall in love with each other at the same time.

I would recommend The Rise and Fall of Radiation Canary. It’s the one novel I feel strongest about, and the one that came out feeling completely and wholly like what I wanted it to be when I started writing. I’ve written over thirty novels but, if there was some cataclysm and history was changed so I’d only written one, I’d want it to be that one.

Me: Those sound like great reads, guys!

 

There has been some controversy in the past about men writing lesbian fiction, but that was mostly because those men hid their true identities from readers, something neither of you has done. Have you had any negative reaction from readers?

Geonn: I won’t say “never.” There have been a few times where people say they moved my book to the bottom of their to-read pile or put off reading it because they knew it was written by a man. I absolutely understand that instinct. But for the most part I hear from people who took a chance and said they were pleasantly surprised. A lot of those comments come in the form of reviews, which helps a lot. And winning the Goldie on my second novel was a huge stepping-stone for me. It gave my name a bit of an asterisk (in the good way) so people know this isn’t just some guy who decided to write some smut.

Erik: I have not had a negative reaction yet from anyone in the LGBTQ community who has actually taken the time to read my books. I have many reviews stating that a reader was hesitant to try my books because I was a male but then after reading one, were pleasantly surprised and went on to buy all the books in the series they tried. I have seen negative responses on various LGBTQ boards who assume that because I am male that I am writing smut bordering on porn to satisfy my own sick fantasies. Obviously those people have never read one of my books or they would know that none of my books have anything even bordering on erotica as I write about romance, emotions, and character reactions, and leave any of the other stuff to their imaginations. I always fade to black at intimate scenes. I have no intention of ever trying to hide who I am, so I write under my own name and let people know up front who and what I am. 🙂

Do you have lesbian friends or beta readers to tell you that you “got it right?”

Erik: YES! Wooo! **runs around super fast in tiny circles** I heart my beta readers and LGBTQ friends so much! I am constantly running things by them to make sure I have things right. I have found out that even in each arena, whether it be gay, lesbian, straight, bi, trans, or whatever, that there is a huge spectrum in each segment. So where five people may say I hit the nail on the head, there will be one or two who say I don’t understand. That is to be expected no matter what I write, so I go with what the majority tells me since no writer can please everyone.

Geonn: This is a hard question to answer without sounding like a brag! But yes, there have been a lot of comments from fans along these lines. There have even been reviews that say I write lesbian sex better than some women, which is very humbling. I do my best to make it erotic without slipping into porn.

Geonn, I know you’ve entered your books for the Goldies (Golden Crown Literary Awards), and have won, but I’m not sure I’ve seen yours entered, Erik. Have either of you ever attended one of the conferences? Any plans to attend in the future?

Geonn: I haven’t attended! Part of it is the funds to travel, taking the whole week off from writing to attend, etc, which doesn’t make it feasible. Plus I feel the GCLS Conference is a place for LGBT men and women to celebrate each other and, as a straight man, I would feel like I’m intruding on their space. I want to note that NO ONE has ever implied this or made me feel this way. I’ve been invited, I’ve been assured I would be welcome, but I need to get there myself before I would feel comfortable.

Erik: I’m still relatively new at this writing thing to be honest, I haven’t even been writing for 4 years yet, and I don’t even know how to enter books for any awards or if people have to nominate you. I have submitted to contests for inclusion into anthologies and have won quite a few of those. I haven’t been able to travel to any of the events as I am in the middle of nowhere, Spokane, WA, so there are never any near me. And until recently haven’t been able to afford to travel. That may change soon as my sales keep trending upward the deeper my backlist gets. I would simply love to attend events and conferences.

Me: As a relatively new attendee of the GCLS conference myself, I would like to extend an open invitation to both of you to attend if you ever can. The literature is the thing we focus on, and you would both be most welcome! And Erik, I e-mailed you the GCLS Awards criteria link.

 

Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

Erik: From absolutely everywhere. I may say something to my wife, or hear a song lyric, or hear a line from a movie or TV episode which sparks a single scene in my mind and I will write an entire book just to incorporate that one key scene into it. One of my latest inspirations came from me saying one single solitary word while being silly, and my mind latched onto it like a platypus gobbling a chocolate éclair. I formed a whole book series idea around the word. So really… anywhere my sarcastic mind can pull inspiration from, my imagination will run with it.

Geonn: A few weeks ago, my neighbors left a pair of sneakers on their front porch. I got a story idea from that. Radiation Canary grew out of a Brandi Carlile song called “The Story,” which was sent to me by a fan who said I should write a book about a rock star. Bits and pieces come from everywhere. I think there was a Neil Gaiman quote about how being able to take that inspiration and form it into stories was what separated writers from productive human beings. 😉

Me: Geonn, I love that quote from Neil Gaiman. Erik… we need to have a talk about the chocolate éclairs. You’re making me hungry!

 

What are you working on currently?

Geonn: I’m working on NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. Every November, people sign up to write a 50,000 word manuscript. I wrote my first novel-length story and my first published novel for them, so I like joining in every year. This year I’m writing the third installment of my Trafalgar & Boone series, Trafalgar & Boone and the Books of Breathing.

Erik: Right now I am working on the third book in my Techromancey Scrolls series, Masquerade. Knights, magic, and technology. I am also just finished a short story, Fixit, which just released last week, to feed my hungry fans since my Techromancey books take longer to write than my normal novels since they are twice as long. I am also working on a presentation for the free workshops I run to help out local aspiring authors and help them to self publish their books. The workshop is called, “Ok, I wrote a book… now what?” I hold them at the public libraries in the area.

 

Is there anything readers don’t know about you that you’d like to share?

Erik: My primary language is sarcasm, my secondary is English so don’t expect me to follow all the rules of writing. I’m a storyteller not an English major. I also have a full wood shop where I build wooden sleds and toys. I run triathlons with my friends, our team name is “Please Resuscitate”. And my imaginary platypus, Frank, is currently holding my éclairs hostage until I finish my next book, so please smuggle me chocolate pastries when he isn’t looking.

Geonn: A lot of readers seem to think authors don’t want to hear from them, or they don’t need to leave reviews. Reviews are vital! Amazon, Goodreads, wherever you want to leave an honest review to help other people find our books is so important. And if you happen to see me on Facebook or Twitter, don’t be shy about leaving a comment. I love to hear from my readers.

 

Erik & Geonn, thank you both so much for participating in this little interview. It was great getting to know a bit more about both of you!

Folks, to contact Erik, you find him on Facebook, or on his web site: http://www.erikschubach.com

You can find his books HERE

And Geonn can be reached at:  geonncannon@gmail.com

Or Facebook

And his books can be found HERE

Grab Your Halo

I don’t mean the cute little oranges.

Today, I had a BookBub promo start for She Sings of Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things.

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I love a lot of things about this story, and I hope new readers will love it, too! But I don’t just want them to love this story.

I’ve blogged before about the seeming weirdness of paying to give your book away for free to folks who’ve never heard of you. But that’s the point. Because they’ve never heard of me, maybe they’ll take a chance on a free book, discover they like it, and then buy my other books. Francis Guenette called it “the halo effect”, and it’s real. Book sales do blossom under its effect.

But there’s another reason to buy my other books – the ones that aren’t free. It’s time for my fall/winter fundraiser. For several years, I’ve donated all or part of my royalties spring and fall to The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, with some matching donations from friends. To date, I’ve donated over $1500 to them.

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Last year, I discovered another charity, Pets of the Homeless. I researched this because one of my novels, Cast Me Gently, released October 2015, featured a homeless man with a dog. Last year, thanks to a matching donation from a friend, we were able to send a check for $700 to Pets of the Homeless.

Around the holidays, a lot of people remember food banks and food pantries. Churches host Thanksgiving dinners and make up food baskets for needy families. I know there’s never enough to go around, but they get way more help now than they do in the spring when schools are letting out for the summer.

So, I’m going to make Pets of the Homeless my fall/winter recipient again. I will donate all of my royalties from now until the end of December to Pets of the Homeless.

halo-effect

(Source: people2people.com.au)

So now, grab your halo! Do something great for a terrific organization. Buy any of my books, give them as gifts (did you know you can gift e-books with just an e-mail address?), build up your To Be Read pile a bit more, and help me help homeless folks who aren’t just taking care of themselves, but a four-legged companion as well.

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(Source: Pets of the Homeless)

Pets of the Homeless helps with food donations, emergency veterinarian care and surgeries. Some of the stories are heartbreaking.

Your support is really very much appreciated.

Peace and full bellies to all.

UPDATE: For those of you who have already purchased all of my books (thank you so much!) but still want to help, you can donate directly to Pets of the Homeless HERE. They also have a list of donation sites around the country where you can drop off pet food, leashes, beds, etc.

Feed the Right Wolf

Like the rest of the country, I woke this morning to the news of the 2016 election results. To say we were devastated is a complete understatement. The feelings of despair are so raw, it’s impossible to put into words.

It’s beyond comprehension that Hillary’s opponent was elected (he who will not be named – not out of fear, but because I don’t ever want his name to issue from my mouth). It’s partly disappointment and disillusionment that this country is still so sexist that it will not elect a woman who was eminently more qualified than her opponent; it’s partly the blatant lies the orange one told, but even more so, that so many were willing to buy into the lies wholeheartedly without questioning them; but it’s mostly that so many bigoted, ignorant white people were willing to ignore or excuse his boorish behavior, his meanness, his mean-spiritedness, his littleness. He will never be my president. He is undeserving of any respect. I cannot imagine what the future will look like these next four years.

That’s my anger and bitterness talking. It’s going to be a long time before that goes away, if it ever does. But if I do nothing with that anger, that bitterness, then what good is it? What good will come from it?

We recently watched the movie “Tomorrowland”, a film that did not get nearly enough attention in my opinion. It had a fantastic message. Near the beginning of the movie, the main character, Casey, reminds her father of a parable he had told her many times:

“There are two wolves, and they’re always fighting. One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope. Which wolf wins?”

wolves

(source: youtube.com)

Whichever wolf we feed wins.

My sister has texted me today about her own sadness and despair at having to explain to her young sons how America has come to this – how we could have elected someone like the orange one, someone who is exactly opposite all the values she and my brother-in-law have tried instill in their boys.

Which wolf will we feed? What kind of America will we get?

When people watch reality television and obsessively follow celebrities who contribute nothing positive to society (sex videos don’t count as acting), they are feeding the wrong wolf.

When people bully and harangue each other, hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet, they are feeding the wrong wolf.

When people refuse to call our politicians on lies and half-truths, when they rally behind bigots and racists and misogynists because it makes them feel entitled to spew their own hatred, they are feeding the wrong wolf.

If any of us contributes in any way to the darkness and the despair, we are feeding the wrong wolf.

How do we feed the right wolf – the one of light and hope?

Fellow author Cindy Rizzo wrote a beautiful post earlier today urging people to work for all of the things that we hold dear: hold your loved ones close; embrace your faith, if you have one; work to support the elderly and the homeless; work to save the environment; do what you can with whatever resources you can.

Every single social justice and environmental cause is going to need our energy and  support more than ever before.

Together, we can feed the right wolf. We can bring light and hope to a world that is desperately going to need it over the next four years.

The Portal

One of the absolute coolest things about writing a fantasy is getting to create a world and make up the rules for that world. I had no idea when I sat down and started my fantasy trilogy, The Dragonmage Saga, how far this story arc would take me and how it would stretch my writing muscles.

I have now completed the second book in the trilogy, The Portal. It is scheduled for release December 1st, but I can’t wait to show off the gorgeous cover for this book! A HUGE thank-you to Jane Morrison for the use of her wonderful photo and Patty G. Henderson for her cover work.

Drum roll…

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The blurb:

“The Dragonmage Saga continues as Caymin and Péist return to Ireland. Together, mage and dragon seek allies to try and stop a pending war with a fanatical monk determined to rid Éire of magic. But the spreading tide of Christianity isn’t the only threat. An ancient evil—one that dates back to the last dragon war a thousand winters ago—threatens the present.

The Portal into the otherworld is the only way to the past, but the otherworld is the realm of the gods and goddesses and other creatures of the old stories, and it is unforgiving to those who do not belong. Caymin and Péist soon learn that, in the otherworld, the deepest desires of their hearts become traps. While there, the young dragonmage and her dragon realize they are pawns in a struggle for power that was set in motion long before they were born. Even those they trust have been using them. Only through their bond with each other can they hope to survive the trials awaiting them and find their way back through the Portal to this realm. But returning may not be an option if they have to sacrifice all to bring peace to a world that no longer holds a place for dragons and mages.

Book Two of The Dragonmage Saga”

For any of you who haven’t yet read the first book in the trilogy, Rising From the Ashes: The Chronicles of Caymin, what are you waiting for?

RisingFTAshes_Smashwords

I know not everyone likes to read excerpts, but for those who do, here’s the Prologue:

Prologue

Shadows

Deep in a cave, a slender woman rose from her bed. Rubbing her arm, she neared the fire and flicked a hand to bring the flames to life. The dancing light threw shadows against the rock walls. Nearby, nestled in a depression in the cave floor padded with many skins, a solid black shape lay. One eyelid opened, revealing a yellow eye.

“What is it, Ailill?”

The woman shook her head. “I do not know. I am restless.”

An enormous black head rose on a sinuous neck, and the edges of scales gleamed in the firelight. “Your old wound pains you. I can feel it.”

“Yes.” Ailill rubbed her shoulder again, kneading the muscles. Her eyes and mouth were marked by fine lines and her dark hair glinted silver in places. She sighed a sigh that was weary with age and time. “Do you feel it, Ríona? The weight of all we have seen and done?”

“We did what we had to do. It was war.”

Ailill turned to look at her companion. “And it is coming again.”

The great black dragon laid her head on the rock floor of the cave next to Ailill. “What have you seen?”

Ailill shook her head. “It is not clear.” She unfurled a scroll, holding the parchment so that she could read by firelight. “He wrote of a girl and a white dragon. The time is drawing near. Somehow, they will meet.”

She rested a hand on the dragon’s jaw. “All is shadows. I can see that they have left Inishbreith, but beyond that, nothing. What I can see is that they will be hunted and tested in ways they are not prepared for. I wish they were not alone. They are but cubs themselves.”

The dragon sighed, and sparks flew from her nostrils. “What choice did we have? Whom would we ally with if we were there? Our presence would only put them in more danger.”

“You are right,” Ailill said. “They are the only ones who can do what must be done.”

“They are strong and true. They will not fail.”

They sat looking into the fire for long heartbeats. Ailill fingered a crystal hanging from a leather cord around her neck.

“It is out there, somewhere. I feel it calling to me in the deep places of the night.” Ailill’s voice was heavy with trepidation. “If it is found, all we fought for will have been for naught.”

“No,” said Ríona. “We bought the world a thousand winters of peace. That was not for naught. But… you are right. I, too, have felt it. If it calls to us, it must to others as well. If it is found, the world will be torn asunder.”

“What if we helped them to find it first?” Ailill tilted her head as she considered. “If it is to be found, mayhap we can assure it is found by Caymin and Péist.”

“But how? Even we do not know where it was hidden.”

“There may be clues to be found in the scrolls here.” Ailill frowned. “Have we been neglectful? Content to retreat to this land to lick our wounds and forget the world we left? Or were we just blind to think that our part in it had ended, and we would never need be troubled with that world again? Either way, we must try to help.”

“It may be that we can guide them from here.” Ríona nudged her head closer and Ailill obliged with a scratch on the ridge above her eyes. “We will call to them and pull them to us in spiritwalks. In the spirit realm, we may be able to teach them what they must know.”

Ailill leaned against the dragon, drawing comfort from her nearness. “I fear the days of dragons and mages are coming to an end, even here.”

A low rumble came from Ríona, echoing within the cave. “Two-legs will reap what they sow. If they permit a world with no magic, no connection to the earth, no balance among the life forces, they will have to live with the consequences.”

“Those are the shadows I cannot see past. If humans do not act now to restore balance in the world, it will be too late.”

Ríona closed her eyes. “It may already be too late.”

© 2016 Caren J. Werlinger