An update on Martian Born and other projects

yuleI was dismayed to see that my last blog post was pretty much exactly one year ago. This gives the impression that I’ve stopped writing, which is false. Martian Born is still moving along, though more slowly than I’d like. I’ve talked it over with someone who was involved in a simulation of living on Mars for NASA, which was a great experience, and I hope to get more information from her as the book progresses. Otherwise, it’s now at about 80,000 words, which is 25,000 more than the last time I updated it.

But it’s slow going. Every new bit of information I uncover in my research forces me to go back and revise what I’ve written. After that conversation I mentioned above, I “moved” the colonies to lava tubes. They’re now at the bases of Uranius Tholus and Ceraunius Tholus, and their spacesuits have been redesigned. You might not think the latter would be a big deal, but it affects the way they enter and leave the colonies, and a number of subtle details. The first month after I got back from the 25th anniversary of Viable Paradise this past October was all about rewriting. My big concern is that there just won’t be a market for it, once it’s done. There have been a ton of YA books about Mars since The Martian came out. The biggest selling point of Martian Born is probably its realism, but any day now another book could come out that would challenge that.

The other reason things have been going slowly is that I lead a double life — I publish adult MM Romance under the name Jamie Fessenden, and that’s been taking up the bulk of my writing time lately. (These books generally fit into the MM Romance genre.) That doesn’t mean I don’t want to write YA anymore. But I’m a bit ADHD when it comes to jumping back and forth between projects. Whatever’s shiniest.

One of the projects I’ve been planning is a new trilogy in the world of Dreams of Fire and Gods, which takes place centuries before the events in those novels, and details the assassination of the emperor and the formation of the samöt.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to finish up a novella called Rosem, and it follows the exploits of Sael, Koreh, Donegh, and Gonim in the months following Gods. A new character has also been introduced: Ven, one of the two soldiers Gonim dragged along to the confrontation with Imen at the barrier. When we first meet him, he is in bad shape….

———————————————————————–

moonlit-cloisterThen Gonim heard a faint sound in the darkness. It was the bell near the gate to the courtyard, which announced visitors to the Temple. Father Kosün had ordered the gate locked after dark, since there weren’t enough men to keep watch, but after the bell rang a second time, Gonim’s curiosity got the better of him. He didn’t have the key, but he could talk to the visitor through the bars. It would do no harm to see what he or she wanted.

Gonim slipped the necklace back over his neck. There was no time to bother with the loincloth, but he pulled his robe over his head. Then he hurried to the gate.

The man standing on the other side was older than Gonim, though not by much, and he was dressed in a tunic with the seal of Dekan Seffni emblazoned upon it. A soldier, then. He gasped when Gonim approached and clutched the iron bars. “It’s you!”

Gonim hesitated. This close, the soldier looked vaguely familiar, but Gonim couldn’t remember anything about him. “Have we met?”

“I saw you…. You were torn open—burned! You had no heart! But somehow… you were saved… and Imen….” He stopped talking, perhaps afraid he was making no sense.

But Gonim felt a rush of joy at his words. “You were there?”

“I was a soldier at the barrier. The day King Caednu burned the emperor’s camp. The old emperor, that is—Savön. Queen Imen ordered me away, but I saw! I saw!”

The man seemed on the edge of hysterics. Was he insane? Had what he’d witnessed driven him mad?

Instinctively, Gonim placed a hand over one of his. The soldier’s fingers were ice cold, but Gonim felt them relax their grip on the bar as his hand warmed them. “Why have you come here?”

“To find someone—anyone—who might believe me. You don’t know what it’s been like. Nobody saw… what I saw. No man can see the gods—that’s what they keep telling me.”

Gonim did know what that was like. “Surely, other soldiers witnessed King Caednu battling with the king of the Taaweh.”

“Only one,” the soldier said. He moved his other hand to cover Gonim’s. “But he refused to ever speak of it, and he has gone to gü-Khemed. If any others saw, they will not admit it. ‘Keep your mouth shut, Ven, if you don’t want the gods to strike you down where you stand!’ That’s what they tell me. But you were there! You saw everything! Please….”

“Aye,” Gonim said. “I saw everything. And more than you know. Queen Imen, King Caednu, the Taaweh king and queen….”

The man sighed and leaned forward as if to kiss Gonim’s hand, but he merely rested his forehead against the metal bar they held. Gonim could feel the warmth of the soldier’s breath on his fingers. “Thank you.”

“Your name is Ven?”

“Aye.”

“I cannot open the gate, Ven,” Gonim told him gently. “Can you come back in the morning?”

“Aye. I’m on a few days furlough.”

A thought occurred to Gonim. “Do you live in the city?”

“I have a room in the outer circle, near the smiths.”

“Do you live alone?”

“Aye.”

It was, perhaps, a bit foolhardy to meet a stranger alone in the city, far away from the monastery—especially one as disturbed as Ven seemed to be—but Gonim didn’t like the idea of having a conversation about that day where the other tadu or caedan might overhear. Perhaps when Ven had calmed down, but at the moment he sounded like a madman. His corroboration of Gonim’s claims would do nothing to persuade the other residents of the monastery.

“Then don’t come here,” Gonim told him. “Wait for me at your home, and I will come see you tomorrow.”

“When?”

“As early as I can. After the bells of Penent.”

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Sometimes you just need to wing it

marsI just spent three days trying to figure out whether a Martian pressure suit would have difficulties with a Martian night at the equator under normal circumstances, or whether I would have to contrive a malfunction in order for someone to be suffering from hypothermia after spending a couple hours lying on the ground.  I was also trying to figure out how bad off he could be without actually dying, and how he could be saved, if his rescuers couldn’t get inside his suit for a while.  Plus, I needed to know how long they would have to remain in the airlock before they could get inside his suit.

I could, of course, fake all of this.  I can make my Martian pressure suits behave any way I like, since they don’t actually exist  I can make the airlock take as long as I like, and I can fudge the details about how my character is injured and how he’s treated.

But I really hate that.

I want accuracy.  I don’t want to just make it all up.  I want to know what’s medically and scientifically possible, and I want to use that detail to make my novel feel real to the reader.

But after three days—with a lot of help from friends on Facebook, mind you, who sent me links and gave me information from the perspective of medics and EMTs—I realized I’d hardly written more than a paragraph.  That’s no way to write a novel.  They tend to be longer than a paragraph by a considerable amount.  I don’t need to be writing this thing twenty years from now.  By that time, there may very well be people walking around on Mars, at least for a visit.

So I’m using the information I collected to put together a scene that at least seems reasonable, and then I’m plowing ahead.  I’ll come back to it later, and hopefully I won’t have to do much restructuring of the chapter.  As of about an hour ago, I made it past that chapter and now I’m starting a chapter that won’t have so many nit-picky details.  I hope.

Anyway, I thought I’d post an excerpt from the chapter.  This is when the main character, Dylan, convinces his friend, Alex, to go out on the Martian surface with him before sunrise, because Timur—the guy he’s befriended at the rival colony—told him to meet him by the satellite antenna.

I’d been too fidgety to sleep and I’d called Alex a couple hours before it grew light. That had given us time to sit around in the airlock for an hour, adjusting to the lower pressure outside, while Alex complained bitterly about how tired we were going to be during our work shift at the farm. We were out at the antenna a bit before the sun was visible. Technically, it was just past sunrise for our latitude, but the crater walls still cast long shadows over us. The temperature was well below zero and we were jiggling up and down to keep ourselves warm.

“This is his idea of a joke,” Alex grumbled. “He’s probably in bed, warm and toasty right now.”

“No. He’ll be here.”

“If there was a crawler coming, we’d see the headlights by now,” Alex said.

He had a point. It was too dark out on the canyon floor to see much, apart from the slightly darker peaks of some prominent rock structures. But we sometimes caught sight of lights at Huozhing, when someone was working outside at night, just as they could probably see the lights from my headlamp and Alex’s, at this very moment. Crawler headlights should be visible for several kilometers.

There was nothing.

“Maybe we should have brought some blankets,” I said. There were blankets packed in lockers just outside the airlocks. They had outer layers of Mylar and inner layers with battery-powered heating elements built into the material. They couldn’t protect people for long in the middle of a Martian night, but they certainly helped.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have been suckered into this,” Alex replied.

“He’ll be here.”

“If you say so. But I’m going back to grab a couple blankets.”

“Okay,” I said. I didn’t like the idea of being out here on my own, but I was really starting to feel the cold. Blankets would be a good thing. “I’ll wait here for you.”

Alex took off at a trot. We were within sight of the airlocks, so it shouldn’t take him long. In the meantime, I scanned the floor of the canyon anxiously, searching for any flash or moving spot of light. Nothing. The sun gradually peeked above the east wall of the crater, illuminating a sliver of stone wall just above our colony. Supposedly, our parents had chosen to build the colony in this location in part because the sunlight reached it first thing in the morning. By building on the other side of the canyon, Huozhing had deprived itself of that benefit. But their governments insisted they be on the opposite side.

As I waited for Alex to return, the light crept silently down the canyon wall behind me. I kept turning around to check for Alex, and eventually saw him running toward me through a pool of sunlight that now stretched to the solar array. He crossed into the shadow I still stood in and pulled up in front of me.

“Here,” he gasped, holding out one of the folded blankets.

I took it from him and unfolded it. The battery pack was a long, flexible strip along one side about a centimeter thick and a few centimeters wide. It was activated by squeezing a circular spot on one end. I did so and wrapped the blanked around me, hoping the damned thing would warm up soon.

“Thanks,” I said.

Alex and I stood together, wrapped in our blankets for a while longer, until the shadow of the canyon wall had receded enough that we were finally in the light.

I could now see into Alex’s helmet, so I saw him frown and shake his head. “This is ridiculous, Dylan. He’s not coming.”

I wasn’t far from admitting he was right. But I was stubbornly clinging to the belief that Timur wouldn’t have made me stand out there just to be mean. I was sure he’d intended to meet me, which meant that something had to have prevented him from coming. Had he been caught trying to sneak out? Or was it more serious than that? “What if he crashed the crawler?” I asked.

“I’ll bet he never left Huozhing.”

This argument was going in circles, so I let it drop. For a few more minutes, we stood in silence, watching the line of sunlight slowly inch across the crater floor. Then, about fifty meters away from us, it illuminated something that made my hair prickle on my scalp in horror. What had looked like no more than a pile of rubble on the crater floor when it was in shadow now revealed itself to be a pile of heavy-duty containers like those used to transport water or other liquids. And lying still and motionless in the midst of them was a man in a pressure suit.

Timur had been lying there the entire time we stood at the antenna arguing.

Progress report on “Gods” and other things in my life

Dreams of Fire and Gods: DreamsFirst of all, to anyone who has read Dreams and Fire, the first two novels in the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy, the third novel (Gods) is definitely on its way.

I realize it’s been dragging on a bit.  The Evil Day Job was really interfering with my writing—for the past two or three months, things got so insane there that I was coming home every night and finding myself too exhausted to write much—and that’s put me really off schedule.

The good news is that my husband and I made the decision that my writing needed to come first.  So with some trepidation, but his blessing, I’ve quit that job to write full-time.  Gods is, I’m estimating, within about 15,000 words of completion.  I’ll keep people posted, and hopefully make an announcement soon about it being finished!

So, please bear with me.  I think you’ll find it worth the wait.  The story has taken a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and I really love where it’s gone.  In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview!  This scene takes place about a third of the way in, as Master Geilin begins training a new type of mage not seen in Dasak for thousands of years—one skilled in the use of Taaweh magic!

EXCERPT — Gods by James Erich — Chapter Three

The south courtyard had become a hedge maze.  No, worse, Sael reflected.  The maze wasn’t composed merely of yew and cedar hedges, but also had stone walls that hadn’t existed in the courtyard the day before.  Apart from the hedge, and two guards posted by each entrance, the courtyard appeared to be empty.

“What is all this?” his father asked sharply, as they approached.  He didn’t raise his voice, particularly, but it could still be heard clearly in the enclosed space.

Sael thought he heard giggling—the giggling of a woman—coming from somewhere in the maze, followed by what sounded like young men snickering.  The vek looked as if he were about to boil over.

Fortunately, before that could happen, Master Geilin called out from the depths of the maze, “Your Grace!  Forgive me.  I will be with you momentarily.”

At that, the stone wall immediately before them melted into the cobblestones like warm butter, leaving no trace that there had been anything there just a moment before.  Behind it, branches of yew curled to one side, forming a direct path into the center of the maze, where Master Geilin stood with four others—three young men Sael only vaguely recognized and… Tanum.

Geilin bowed formally, his students imitating him.  “Your Grace.  Your Lordship.”

“Master Geilin,” the vek said coolly, “Might I have a word with you in private?”

Geilin walked forward calmly, a stone wall rising up out of the cobblestones behind him to prevent his students from listening in on the conversation. 

“I don’t recall giving my permission for Lady Tanum to be included in your classes,” the vek told him, when he drew near.

Geilin looked perplexed.  “I’m very sorry, Your Grace.  Lady Tanum informed me that she had permission.” 

“She did not.”

“Father,” Sael interrupted.  “Tanum and I spoke of it before Koreh and I went into the mountains.”  He hadn’t exactly agreed to let Tanum train, but he wasn’t opposed to lying in order to help Master Geilin and Tanum save face.

Fortunately, his father didn’t see fit to grill him on the subject.  Though he looked at his son with an expression like someone who’s just bitten into a lemon, he turned to Geilin and asked, “These boys….  Clearly you’ve not chosen your apprentices from among the vönan.”

“I did try, Your Grace,” the wizard replied.  “But it’s a big step for a vönan to deliberately sever himself from the power of the Stronni, even though we’ve been cut off from it for several weeks now.  None are yet willing to take it.  They are all watching me to see if I burst into flame or, worse, become powerless.”

“I suppose we can’t blame them.”

Geilin shook his head and ran a hand over the spot where his tattoo had once been.  He’d mentioned to Sael recently that it didn’t exactly hurt, but he could feel that it was missing.  “No, sir.  But although I’ve found my training as a vönan an aid to learning Taaweh magic, the Taaweh themselves insist it isn’t essential.  All men—and women—have the ability to learn it.”

Sael saw his father’s eye twitch at the obvious reference to Tanum, so he attempted to redirect the conversation.  “Those young men looked familiar,” he said.  “Who are their families?”

“They are stable boys!” his father snapped.

Sael was taken aback by this, but Geilin seemed unperturbed.  “Only Nalekh lives in the stables, Your Grace.  I believe his family resides in Tessam.  Bol and Ahvi are brothers and they live in the servants’ quarters.”

“The servants’ quarters?”  Sael was just as surprised as his father.  Master Geilin was creating a new order of mages… out of servants?

“They were the only volunteers, Your Lordship,” Geilin explained patiently. 

The vek sniffed.  Then with an air of resignation, he asked, “Have they made any progress?”

“Today is their first day.  It will take some time.”

“How much time?”

Geilin merely spread his hands to indicate he had no idea. 

The vek gave him the bored half-smile he normally reserved for servants he’d grown weary of talking to.  “Carry on, then.”

Sael had no doubt that Geilin sensed the disapproval behind that smile, but the old man merely nodded and said, “Thank you, Your Grace.  Your Lordship.”

He bowed formally and left them to return to his students, the stone wall melting away as he approached it.

The vek muttered under his breath, “I confess I’m skeptical about how useful these new ‘mages’ will prove to be,” before heading back toward to the keep.  Sael fell into step behind him.

This courtyard was somewhat smaller than the main courtyard and it was bordered with decorative wading pools in the four corners and bordering the entrance.  When Sael began to walk past one of these, something reflected in the water caught his eye and he slowed to get a better look.

It was Koreh.

Not a ghostly apparition, but a very clear view of Koreh’s face and shoulders against a bright blue sky.  The angle put his face in shadow, but there was enough light reflected up at him—rippling as though he were peering down into a moving river—that there was no mistaking it was him.  His eyes lit up with recognition, as though he could see Sael too.  Their eyes locked for just a brief moment, before something dark seemed to swim between them and the vision disappeared.

Sael staggered and made a grab for something to steady himself.  He was surprised to find his father there, though the man had been ahead of him a moment earlier.  His hand gripped the vek’s strong forearm tightly, as he fought back the wave of grief that threatened to overwhelm him.

“Are you ill?” his father asked.  “How do you summon that blasted Taaweh physician?”  He was reacting with his usual haughtiness, but Sael could hear the note of concern in his voice.

“I’m all right, father,” Sael told him, though he didn’t feel all right.  His heart felt as if it were being wrenched out of his chest.  “Just… a little lightheaded.”

It couldn’t have been Koreh.  It had to have been a trick of the light.

But it was so clear. 

“Have you eaten anything this morning?” the vek asked.  Then without bothering to wait for an answer, he said, “Let’s get you inside.  I’ll have something brought up from the kitchen.”

Day of Silence flash fiction

SafeMy publisher, Harmony Ink Press, began posting flash fiction from Harmony Ink authors in honor of the Day of Silence on Friday, April 19th.

If you’re not familiar with the Day of Silence, it’s an annual protest that’s been held every year since 1996, when it was started by then-student Maria Pulzetti as a protest against bullying and harassment of LGBT students.  As stated in the wikipedia article, “Students take a day-long “Vow of silence” to symbolically represent the silencing of LGBT students and their supporters.”

Harmony Ink decided it would be cool to have participating authors write a flash fiction piece symbolizing silence in some way.  Mine was a modified excerpt from the third novel in the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy (called Gods), which is still being written.  You can read it by clicking on the image above.

You might ask, “Why did you wait until the 24th to post this, if the Day of Silence was on the 19th?”  Basically, I didn’t post until today because I was at a workshop with my publisher in Chicago over the weekend and between that and traveling, things have just been too chaotic for me.  Also, due to the large number of submissions Harmony Ink received, my story wasn’t put on the website until this afternoon.

I’ll close this post with a picture snapped at the workshop of some of the Harmony Ink authors in attendance:  Me (James Erich, looking like I just stepped out of the shower, because I had), Robbie Michaels, Madison Parker, Nessa Warrin (YA Coordinator), Jamie Mayfield, and Geoff Laughton.

Status update on “Gods” – Book Three of “Dreams of Fire and Gods” (and an excerpt!)

Dreams of Fire and Gods: DreamsGods is coming along, so for those who didn’t like being left hanging at the end of Fire, I’m expecting to have the final novel finished this month!

It’s been a challenging novel to write, though.  I now have four threads weaving back and forth, following Sael, Koreh, Donegh, and a new character, Gonim.  Making sure they all arrive at the end together and everything from the previous two novels wraps up properly has proven to be difficult.  I’ve had to extend my deadline with Harmony Ink a couple times.  But I think the end result will be worth it!  I’m very excited by all the plot twists and character development and I don’t think readers will be disappointed.

So, for everyone waiting anxiously for Book Three, here’s a little taste of it—an excerpt from the beginning of the novel, in which we meet the new viewpoint character, Gonim.  Keep in mind that this isn’t a final polished draft, but I think it’s reasonably presentable.  It’s a bit PG, but I promise that there isn’t any more explicit sex than in the previous two novels.

Prologue

Gonim knew he was dying and he welcomed it.  The young acolyte was burned severely over most of his body, after getting caught in one of the firestorms two days ago, and he was in agony.  A carriage had overturned in an intersection and he had rushed to aid the driver and passengers.  But he’d been too late.  A fireball caught them out in the open and only Gonim had survived—barely. 

Father Turs was the only ordained caedan left in the infirmary now, his staff reduced to a few acolytes like Gonim and a couple female nurses.  All the other priests in Worlen had evacuated—those who hadn’t been killed when the temple was incinerated.  The old caedan had done his best for Gonim, covering his burned skin in a healing ointment that relieved some of the pain, and then bandaging him.  But the burns were too severe.  A nurse had given him a potion to help him sleep, but they had little healing potion to spare for someone so far gone.  Now Gonim’s head swam in a haze, the pain still with him, but somehow seeming far away.  Father Turs had prayed over him, but eventually he’d been forced to leave Gonim to suffer in private, while the father attended to others who could be helped.

Gonim was at peace with his life.  He had been devoted to the gods and his duties as an acolyte.  His only regret was that he would die before being ordained.  But no man knew what the Perfect Order held for him.  It was enough to revel in its beauty and accept one’s place in the pattern.

A light appeared to the young man as he contemplated this, drifting into his small room through the window, though it was nearly midnight.  Gonim’s eyes had difficulty focusing, but it seemed to him that a beautiful woman with raven-black hair was walking toward him from somewhere much farther away than the nearby plaster wall.  Her gown was made of rich silks, so sheer that they appeared to reveal much of her body, though cut in such a way as to not reveal as much as it seemed.  Precious gemstones adorned the hem and neckline.  The woman drew close and leaned down to look at him with a gentle smile, while her hand reached out to stroke his hair.  At her touch, all pain left his body.  Had she come to take him into death? Gonim wondered. 

“I am Imen,” the woman said softly, “the queen of the gods.  And you, my young acolyte, have pleased me with your self-sacrifice and devotion to us.”

The youth had no doubt that she was speaking the truth.  Never had he seen a human woman of such surpassing beauty!  Never had he been so overwhelmed by a man or woman’s mere presence!  She could be nothing other than a god.

“I wish to grant you a boon, my faithful warrior,” Imen purred, as she traced a finger along his cheek and down the side of his neck.  The flesh there was blistered and her touch should have been agonizing, yet Gonim felt nothing but pleasure at it.  “First, you must tell me… Are you willing to die for me?”

Gonim could imagine nothing nobler than to sacrifice himself for his goddess.  In a paroxysm of religious fervor, he attempted to speak, but he had breathed in some of the flame and his throat was too scorched to choke out even one word.  Imen seemed to sense this and she bent her face near his.  Then she blew gently into his mouth.  Where her sweet breath touched, his flesh was healed, and as he exhaled, Gonim found himself able to say, “Yes, Your Majesty!”

She smiled, her face seeming illuminated from within, as she straightened.  “Then you shall.  But not today.  There is much to be done.”

Imen stepped away from Gonim’s bedside and a stooped old woman Gonim hadn’t even known was in the room with them came forward.  The crone held a small rolled-up strip of leather, which she laid down on the edge of his bed and unrolled.  Fastened to the inside of the strip by small loops were the tools of a seamstress—shears, needles, rolls of thread, and measuring tape.

While Imen stood silently nearby, the old woman set about her business, humming an unfamiliar tune.  She chose a large needle and threaded it with a thread that shimmered and flickered as if on fire, and then she held it aloft in one hand, while her other slid Gonim’s blanket down to expose his naked chest.  She picked up the shears and with a motion so quick Gonim barely had time to flinch, she stabbed him in the chest with one of the blades and snipped his sternum open.

Gonim felt the cut, yet it was oddly painless.  Though he had difficulty raising his head, he was able to tilt his face so that he could watch as the old seamstress snipped open his chest cavity.  Blood welled up in the wound, but did not gush out or spray as he would have expected it to.  The woman set the sheers down on the mattress and slid her hand into the wound, where Gonim could feel her fingers groping…until a sharp, intense pain made him cry out.  He wondered if Father Turs would hear him screaming and come to investigate.  What would happen then?  Would Imen kill him for intruding?  Gonim bit down on his screams, fearing that possibility, but it was impossible for him not to grunt and whimper in agony.

Then the pain grew more and more severe, until Gonim’s vision began to grow dark and he thought he was going to pass out.  The seamstress withdrew his beating heart from his chest and held it up as if inspecting it. 

“Your Majesty,” she said in a dry, rasping voice.

Imen plucked a large ruby off the neckline of her dress and stepped forward to drop the jewel into Gonim’s open chest cavity.  Instantly, the pain ceased.  Gonim settled back onto the mattress and sighed in relief as a warmth emanated from the ruby and flooded throughout his body.  He almost didn’t notice, when the seamstress snipped the arteries of his heart and cast the organ aside. 

The old woman stitched his chest back together with the needle and fiery thread, but Gonim no longer bothered to watch.  The warmth flooding through his body spread throughout his limbs, easing all pain, energizing his exhausted muscles, and pooling pleasantly in his groin. 

When the seamstress had finished her work and left Gonim’s bedside, taking her tools with her, Imen extended her hand to the youth.  “Come.”

Hesitantly, Gonim raised his head off the pillow.  He felt no pain and, looking down at his chest and stomach, he could see no trace of the severe burns that were killing him just a short time ago.  Indeed, there was also no trace of what had just transpired—no blood, no cut on the skin of his chest, not even a scar.  Gonim sat up and put his bare feet on the stone floor.  Not only were there no traces of his injuries, but he felt stronger and healthier than he’d ever felt before. 

He stood and faced the goddess, who regarded him with a triumphant smile. 

“You are very beautiful,” Imen said, looking him over as she circled around him.

Gonim had been wearing nothing at all under the blankets, his kilt having been burned beyond saving, and he had stiffened a bit when the warmth flooded his groin.  This embarrassed him, but the goddess did not seem concerned about it. 

“The magics of Harleh Valley cannot prevent me from entering, if I choose,” Imen continued in a voice as smooth as warm honey, “but there are times when a subtle approach is best.”

She stopped in front of Gonim and placed her hand lightly upon his breast.  It felt hot against the young man’s skin and caused him to become even more aroused.  “This body is now my vessel and I will safeguard it.  Go to Harleh!  Be my eyes and ears, where others are now useless.”

Gonim was beyond being confused by what was happening to him.  He didn’t know whether to be elated or terrified by the goddess’s charge.  “Y-Your Majesty,” he stammered, “what shall I do in Harleh?”

Her laugh was the first unpleasant sound to come from her mouth since appearing to Gonim.  “That, my warrior, will depend upon what you find there.”

Free giveaway of “Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams” on Boys On The Brink Blog!

Dreams of Fire and Gods: DreamsThe Boys On The Brink Blog is hosting a free giveaway of Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams this week, so hop on over there and put your name in the hat for a free copy!

You can read an excerpt of the novel here.

And for those who missed it, Jamie Deacon’s terrific review of Dreams can be read here!