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New Book

Lady of Eyre“, the last book in the current Minivandians story arc, went live on Amazon this morning.

Here’s the blurb:

From the young prince’s competition in the derby of wooden chargers to the tales of his family’s past come close calls, challenges, and triumph!

When the Lady of Eyre and Daddybear make it to her native land, all is not well. One lord is raiding and enslaving, and others are silenced by gold or lies. When he sets his eyes on Daddybear’s lady and her lands, though, he awakens the full cunning and fury of her barbarian!

Like I said, this completes the story of how the Minivandian and his lady make their way from the Northern Wastes to their own home.  Snippets can be found here, here, and here.

Thanks to everyone who helped out with the story and cover.  It definitely wouldn’t have been as much fun and the product wouldn’t have been quite as interesting without them.

Anyway, hope y’all enjoy.  Remember, reviews are always welcome!

Second Wash on Cover Art

OK, after many excellent suggestions both here, on other media, and in meatspace (Irish Woman leaning over my chair and pointing at my screen), I think this is how the cover art for Lady of Eyre will end up:

Lady of Eyre Ebook Cover5.png

You can read the text against both the light and dark, everything comes out in a thumbnail, and it’s not just black and silver text against a multi-colored background.

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone!

Lady of Eyre Cover Image

The third installment of the latest Minivandians arc, Lady of Eyre, is nearing completion.  I hope to have it out to you all in a couple of weeks.

Here’s a quick look at the cover image for the ebook

Lady of Eyre Ebook Cover

This is taken from a picture Irish Woman took when we visited Ireland a few years ago.  Please let me know what you think.

Work continues on the additional material I’ll be adding to the compilation of Quest to the North, Lost Children, and Lady of Eyre, and my plan is to have that out around the beginning of June.

 

Lost Children Live Now!

Just got the email that Lost Children has gone live on Amazon!  Thanks to everyone who bought it on pre-sale.  It should show up on your e-reader this morning.

Hope everyone enjoys the latest yarn.  Please remember, honest reviews are always welcome!

Announcement and Snippet

Lost Children, the next installment of The Minivandians, is up for pre-order on Amazon.

lost-children-ebook-cover-1

Here’s the blurb:

Elsked’s adventure continues! In the second of three stories, the Minivandian’s son trades tales of his pets and  their misadventures for another story from his parents past.

After escaping the frozen north, Daddybear and Ruarin find refuge with the magical kin of an old friend. Before they can make their way home, treachery will strike the city, leaving death and disappearances in its wake. In an idyllic lakeside city harboring the ancient evil that drove its people from their ancient homeland, can the Minivandian save his Lady of Eire?

Lost Children picks up where Quest to the North left off.  Ruarin and DaddyBear are still trying to make their home, but they find themselves on a little bit of a detour.

The book will go live on January 26, but you can pre-order it now.  I hope you enjoy it, and remember, the best way to compliment a writer is to leave an honest review and spread the word.

I put up a snippet for one of the short vignettes here, and here’s the first chapter of the longer portion of the book.  Enjoy!


The moon hung over the trees, full and blood red. It shone down on a young man in robes as gray as a dove’s wing as he walked up a long flight of rough-cut stone stairs. To one side of him, moonlight danced on carved scenes of ships and people, while on the other, dark trees growing from the steep hillside blocked his view of the water below. The cheeping of tree frogs, taking advantage of the last warm weather of early autumn, competed with the voice coming from the temple above him to drown out his slow steps.

He cradled a cloth-wrapped bundle in the crook of his arm. It would occasionally wriggle, and once he had to bring his free hand up to steady it as he continued his march upward. Any sound it made was drowned out by the noise of the forest and marshes surrounding him. The young priest paused when he reached an open space at the top of the stairs and looked around.

The temple was ancient, and only its main chamber had been reclaimed from the forest. The young man’s ancestors had hewn it from the living rock of the low hill upon which it sat, and he could almost sense the power of the earth running up through it. The side opposite him was open to the night air, and he could see the full moon framed above the forest. Above him, the sound of singing echoed from the high, domed ceiling, making it sound as if a chorus were serenading him as he made his way into the chamber.

An alabaster altar, polished until it shone in the torchlight, lay at its center. Fine, white linen cloths covered it. Upon them, a silver basin and pitcher reflected a red and orange glow back at him. The same light reflected from the wall behind the altar, making the ship carved in its white stone appear to be ablaze.

His mentor and teacher stood with his hands on the altar. Where the young man wore robes the color of a mourning dove, his flawlessly white garments were a stark contrast against the dark stone. A long sword hung from his belt, its golden hilt shining in the light. It contrasted with the iron chain that swung from his neck. The older man’s eyes were closed as he crooned a prayer in a high, powerful voice. His song rang from the high ceiling, and its rhythm followed the young priest’s heartbeat.

The young priest stepped forward and bowed to his master.

“Do you bring this child to our god willingly?” the white-clad priest asked in a gentle voice.

“Yes, I do.”

“Is he a member of our people?”

“Yes, he is.

“Then prepare him.”

The young priest lifted the baby up and gently placed him on the altar. He untied the bundle of cloth enclosing the child, then poured warm water from the pitcher into the basin. As he did this, the older priest held his hands over the water and prayed.

The younger man wet one of the cloths, then washed the baby from head to toe. The child laughed as the soft cotton ran over his skin, and his toothless grin caused both priests to smile indulgently. After the little boy was cleansed thoroughly, the young priest picked him up again.

The older priest took some oil from a flask and rubbed a mark on the child’s chest with his thumb. He carefully placed his hand across the crown of the infant’s head, and bowing down, whispered a blessing into the child’s ear. The baby giggled and squirmed, then reached up and toyed with the old man’s beard.

“Present him to the god!” the elder priest ordered as he gently untangled his whiskers from chubby fingers.

The young priest bowed to him, then swaddled the baby in a thick, soft cloth. He turned and faced the idol, which dominated the wall opposite the altar.

It was wrought from iron, with two golden horns curling from the sides of its head. The throne upon which it sat was carved from the same rock as the temple, but had been polished smooth to reflect the glow coming from the huge mound of embers burning beneath it. Its eyes, crafted from flawless red jewels, glowed against the dark stone of its bearded face.

Two outstretched arms beckoned to the priest. The waves of heat rising from below the god seemed to make its fingers move before his eyes.

As he took his first step, the young priest placed his hand on the child’s head and whispered, “Etezh.” The child’s dark eyes immediately closed in slumber.

Behind him, the white-clad priest began to chant in an ancient language.
Bal Haamon!
God of our fathers!
Bal Haamon!
Father of the people!
Bal Haamon!
Protector of the city!
We bring you our offering!
Accept our sacrifice and bless your people!
Crush our enemies, end our struggles!

The younger man sang along with his master. He moved with the rhythm of his prayer as he slowly walked toward the idol. His eyes watered from the heat rising from the throne’s base, and tears ran down his smooth cheeks. The god’s red eyes glimmered in the shadow of its beard as he placed the child in its arms. Stepping back, he bowed low to the idol.

As he straightened, the idol’s arms fell to its lap, and the young priest glimpsed the cloth bundle, pale against the god’s dark throne, drop into the fire as a stone drops into water. A brief flash of light and pungent smoke overcame him for a moment, then his vision cleared to show the smiling face of his god.

Both men bowed until their foreheads touched the stone floor. After a long moment, the older priest rose and spoke to his assistant.

“Bring up the other one,” he ordered.

~~~~~~

The young priest sat on a ledge overlooking a moonlit beach. Below him, small blue flames winked from the surface of the marshlands at the water’s edge. Behind him, he could hear his master packing away their vestments and sacramental vessels. He breathed in the cool air, feeling its soft caress on his red face.

A gentle hand on his shoulder brought him out of his reverie. He looked up into the smiling face of the older priest, now wearing a simple, drab cloak over his clothing.

“Bal Haamon smiles on us,” he said, taking a seat next to his assistant. His tone, as well as the look on his face, was exultant.

“He demands a high price for his happiness,” the younger man said quietly.

“He provides for us, and he will bring our people back to glory.”

“Is this what the god wants?” the young priest asked morosely. “How many more children must we give to him?”

“This is how our forefathers worshipped,” the older man replied, “and we have fallen far since we neglected our god.”

“So, there’ll be more?”

“Oh, yes, there will be more,” his master said with a grave nod. “Three hundred were given to save the old city. We will sacrifice as many as it takes to elevate its replacement.”

He looked out upon the water for a moment, then clapped the younger man on the shoulder.

“Come,” he said, “let’s get back to the city. It’ll be dawn soon.”

Freedom’s Light

Liberty is a difficult concept to explain.  It’s a slippery term that means different things to different people.  It’s easy to stamp on, but to those who cherish it, it’s impossible to stamp out.  It’s a thing that must be exercised, and for that reason, anthologies like Freedom’s Light are important.

From the members and associates of the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance (CLFA) comes Freedom’s Light, a collection of short fiction that celebrates the human yearning for liberty. These stories will extol the value of human rights and the sacrifices of those who defend those rights. This collection features works from a wide variety of genres and a diverse set of authors, including Hugo Award nominee Brad R. Torgersen and 2016 Dragon Award winner Nick Cole. Freedom’s Light will entertain us and elevate the humanity we all share.

Freedom’s Light is an anthology of short fiction by members of the CLFA.  Within its pages, you’ll find works by Brad Torgerson, Nick Cole, and many other talented writers.  You’ll also a story by the hack who writes the DaddyBear’s Den blog.

I’ve read the book, and I’m honored to have my short story “Victory Garden” included with the stories by the other authors.  I’m proud of my own work, but it pales in comparison to the connection the other authors make with the reader.

Freedom’s Light is for the reader who wishes for things to be better and for people, all people, to be more free.  Proceeds from its sale will be donated to FIRE, an organization that works to support the rights of students across the nation.

If you need a good book to curl up with during a winter night, and you enjoy stories that will make you think about your freedoms and what they mean, I think you’ll like Freedom’s Light.

 

 

The War – Episode 1

Part I – Prologue

December 12, 11:28 PM Mountain
Southeastern Arizona

Lupita threw the dirty diaper under a creosote bush and rubbed her hands in the sandy soil to clean them. Tomaso, the guide her husband had paid to lead them across the border, had called a halt to rest in an arroyo, and she took the opportunity to give the children something to eat and to change the baby. There was no moon to light the cold desert night, but the clear sky was lit up with millions of stars, and she could make out the faces of the twenty or so other people who were making the journey north. They were bunched up in small groups, mainly families, but there were also several men making the journey north to seek work.

Juan, her brother-in-law, passed over a container of water, which she brought to her lips with a murmured thanks. Tomaso had told them to keep quiet, especially the children, and every time the baby whimpered, he hissed at her to shut him up.

“How much longer?” she whispered to Juan. He had made the trip several times before, and was the one who had convinced her husband that she and the little ones could make the journey to join him at his job in Arkansas.

“We’re over the border,” he answered, “It’s a few more hours into the mountains, and then we’ll rest for the day. Tomorrow night, we’ll be in Tucson.”

“Thank the Virgin Mother,” Lupita said, crossing herself, “We’ll be together for Christmas.”

The weariness of walking across the wide valley in fits and starts, all while making sure she didn’t lose one of the children, was taking its toll on her. She looked to the north and saw the bulk of the mountains blocking out the stars. Even though the thin mountain air was chilly in the December night, Lupita felt hot under the thin coating of sweat running between her shoulder blades and down her chest. The baby was heavy, and the work it took to keep the other two children moving fast enough to not get left behind was draining her.

Up into those? she thought, picking the baby up and offering it her breast, You never said anything about mountains, Juan. Lupita felt the infant latch on, then closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

A few minutes later, Tomaso stood up and looked to the south. Lupita followed his gaze down the path they had followed up from the border, but saw nothing. The coyote shook his head and hissed, “OK, let’s get moving. Keep quiet, for God’s sake!” He watched as his charges got up and started straggling back into line, then started toward the mountains.

Lupita took up the nylon cord she and Juan had tied around the children’s middles and started walking. Little Carlos took his sister by the hand as they followed their mother up the slope of the first hills.

The incline got gradually steeper as the line of migrants straggled along in the dim starlight, and Lupita and her children were soon the last in the column again. Even Juan left them a few yards behind as they climbed into the rolling foothills of the Chiracahuas.

Every so often, Lupita thought she could hear a clink or the heavy fall of a foot tripping over a rock behind her, but when she paused to gaze back down the path, she could see nothing. Every time, she would shrug, give the rope connecting her to her son a tug, and continue trudging uphill.

Finally, they crested the first ridge of the mountains, and Tomaso led them down into a small valley with stunted trees and bushes. Lupita almost fell as she sank to her knees when the rest of the group stopped to rest. Carlos lay down and immediately fell asleep next to her, while Sofia stood at his side, her thumb firmly planted in her mouth. Lupita took her hand from the sleeping form of the infant and ran it down her daughter’s long, dark hair.

“Just a little further tonight,” she whispered, “then we can stop and rest.”

From the hillside they had just descended, she heard a series of clinks, then thought she saw dim lights bobbing in the darkness. Juan heard it too, and hissed to Tomaso. The guide stood up, drawing the gun he carried in a holster on his wide leather belt.

“Who’s that?” he demanded loudly, pulling back the hammer on the big revolver.

Lupita clasped her children to her and turned her back as she heard several metallic clicks coming from the hillside.


 

Other episodes can be found here.  The rest of the story can be found in Escort Duty, available now at Amazon.

A Little Gift

Just to mix things up a bit, I’m going to publish the segments of my sort-of short story, “The War”, on the dates included in the story.  This started out as a series of blog posts a few years ago, which I expanded on and polished a bit to include in Escort Duty.

There will be quite a few posts in the first few days and weeks, then maybe one every few months until next Christmas, when the story will end.  If you’re so inclined, please feel free to grab a copy of Escort Duty for yourself and see how it ends before next December, but please don’t ruin it for the rest.

One warning – This isn’t a kid’s story.  I don’t go into all the gory details, but some of the language and images in the story might be upsetting.

The first installment will go live in a few minutes.  Enjoy!

 

Begging a Favor

It’s been a little over a week since Quest to the North went live, and I’m glad to see that people are either buying it or reading it through the Kindle Unlimited program.  In addition, Tales of the Minivandians and my other books have picked up a bit as well, which is more gratifying than you all can know.

But I have another favor to ask:  Can you please leave me a review?

Amazon uses the number and quality of reviews as a factor in deciding how much exposure a book gets on their website.  If you’ve read my books, no matter what you thought of them, I’d really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to leave a quick review on Amazon.  It will let me know what I’m doing right, what I need to improve, and help other people see the books and decide if they’re worth the price.

Links to all of my books can be found here, and it only take a few minutes to leave a review for any of them.

If you’ve already done this for me, thank you.  Feedback makes this much easier and helps me improve as a writer.

And if you’ve read any of the books, with or without a review, thank you.  It’s good to know I’m not just bouncing my voice off of a wall when I’m writing.

Announcement and Snippet

Quest to the North goes live today on Amazon.  Like I said the other day, this is the next book in the Minivandians series and it picks up where Tales ended. A snippet from the more serious story can be found here.

There are also a few of the shorter stories that are inspired by real life, and I thought I’d let you all have a taste of one of those.


They continued to wend their way down the hall, then heard loud cheering from one of the doorways.

“Is there a game going on?” asked Elsked, peering through into the chamber.

“Ah, the merfolk are having an afternoon match,” Weerdington said as he caught up to the boy. “Would you like to watch for a moment?”

Elsked did not answer, but instead walked through the door into a large room which smelled of salt water. In its center was a large, open tank, in which swam several merfolk, both male and female. Across its middle someone had stretched a net, and the merfolk were batting a leather ball back and forth over it. As one made an acrobatic strike at the ball, another on the other side hit it with her long tail. This raised a cry of hoots and cheers from the small crowd of merfolk in a nearby pool, who were relaxing and watching the sport.

On the other side, a well-muscled merman with long, blonde hair tracked the approaching ball and used his head to send it arcing high over the net and out the back of the tank. Derisive boos and catcalls came from both the other players and the spectators. Elsked ran to catch the ball, which had bounced across the floor and come to rest next to the wall. He picked it up and walked back to the edge of the tank, holding it out to the mermaid waiting there for him. His pale blue eyes were transfixed on the creature, who sported a head of wavy dark hair and twinkling eyes the color of waves after a storm.

She took the ball from him, saying “Thank you, sweet child!” in a breathily melodic voice, then paused. She looked from the boy to his father, then back again. After a moment, a knowing smile came to her lips and she looked back to the Minivandian.

“Hello, DaddyBear! It’s been such a long time since I saw you last!” she cried out in a sultry tone, waving a shapely arm at the Northerner. Ruarin looked up to her husband in surprise, then her lips grew thin as she saw his face blush a deep red under his beard.

“Uh, hello, Cichlidia. Indeed, it has been quite a while,” he called back, looking as if he wanted to melt into the floor. The other merfolk saw his discomfort and began to laugh and call out to him.

“Join us!”

“I know he can swim! I’ve seen it!”

“But not with those heavy clothes on!”

“Yes, he’ll have to strip down like last time!”

Ruarin, her head held high and a serene expression on her face, walked to the tank and took Elsked’s hand. She looked up at Cichlidia, still floating in front of the boy and rolling the ball between her hands, with a glare which should have set her dark hair alight. The mermaid laughed as she splashed back to her position in the game.

“Come, son, let us leave these… lovely creatures to their relaxation,” she said gently, her eyes never leaving those of the mermaid.

With a regal air, and without looking at her husband, she walked across the room and out the door. As he followed his mother, Elsked looked back for one more glance at Cichlidia, returning her wave as he went.

The Minivandian motioned to Master Weerdington to go before him, and turned to leave the hoots and cries of the merfolk behind. The deepening redness of the back of his neck was the only sign he gave of emotion as he followed his wife and child.

Once they were a few feet down the corridor and out of earshot of the merfolk, Ruarin wrapped her arm around her husband and pulled him close. “I love you,” she whispered in his ear, “but I want to know how she knew you.”

DaddyBear, for his part, mumbled a quiet “Yes, my lady,” and continued his escape from the merfolk.


The rest of the story, along with much more, can be found in Quest to the North, available now at Amazon.  Hope you enjoy it, and if you do, please leave a review!

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