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….

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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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Dreams of Fire and Gods now available in one cheap bundle!

Dreams of Fire and Gods BundleDreams of Fire and Gods is a trilogy of high fantasy novels set in the kingdom of Dasak, which is on the brink of civil war. At the same time the emperor and his regent in the east prepare for battle, another war is brewing—a war between the gods that threatens to completely destroy the kingdom and leave no survivors.

When these novels were first published, there was a long gap between books two and three, leaving readers hanging. But now Harmony Ink has now released the entire trilogy as one low-cost bundle! Get the entire saga for just $9.99!

A thousand years ago, two factions of gods, the Stronni and the Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak by warring for the land and the frightened humans who lived there. Then suddenly the Taaweh vanished and the Stronni declared victory.

In the present day, tensions escalate between the emperor and his regent to the point of war, which will be nothing compared to the war that comes with the Taaweh’s return. Join the regent’s son and apprentice mage Sael and his vagabond lover Koreh as they dodge assassins, rescue the Taaweh queen, and take journeys through the underworld in their quest to save their world from being destroyed in another confrontation between the gods.

Buy Links: 

Harmony Ink/Dreamspinnerhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7517

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Fire-Bundle-James-Erich-ebook/dp/B01BLKYT9A/

Excerpt:

“I SAID I was sorry,” Koreh repeated, exasperated.

“And I said I don’t care.”

Sael stood facing the fire with his undertunic held out to catch the heat. It wasn’t very modest, but he didn’t think Koreh could see anything from where he was standing. Geilin had grown tired of the argument and lay down to sleep after drinking his tea. The old man lay wrapped up in his cloak, facing away from the fire.

“I don’t really think you’re slow.”

“Now that Master Geilin’s told you I’m not.”

Koreh groaned in frustration. “Look. I don’t know how much training it takes to become a vönan—”

“A lot!”

“All right,” Koreh continued, “fine. But it just seemed to me that, after ten years of training, you’d be a little further along.”

Sael glared at him. Was this Koreh’s idea of an apology?

“As Master Geilin already told you,” he responded coolly, “I’m doing as well in my studies as any other tenth-year student. Better than most. I just can’t cast when I’m rushed. I have to concentrate.”

“So, you’re not rushed now. Let’s see you throw a fireball. Just a little one.”

“We’re supposed to be hiding, remember?” Sael snapped. “It’s bad enough we had to light a fire to dry off. If I start throwing fireballs around, they’ll be seen for leagues in all directions.”

Koreh’s derisive snort was the last straw. Sael turned and stalked over to the edge of the clearing. After searching the underbrush for a moment, he found what he was looking for—a sturdy branch about the length of a walking staff.

Koreh was watching him with a smirk on his face when he returned to the fire.

Trying to ignore him, Sael lifted the branch up over his head so it lay horizontally. Then with both hands gripping it firmly, he said, “Grab hold.”

“Huh?”

“I’ll show you something not even your Taaweh could do. Now grab on!”

Koreh hesitated only a moment before accepting whatever challenge Sael was offering him. He approached the boy, looking him dead in the eye before reaching up with one hand to grab the staff.

“Both hands,” Sael insisted, “and hold on tight.”

“Yes, little lord.” Koreh’s voice was mocking.

Sael frowned. “Hold on tight, or you’ll die. I mean it.”

“Fine. I’m holding on.”

The apprentice vönan closed his eyes and began chanting under his breath. It wasn’t easy, because in order for Koreh to grasp the staff, he had to press his body against Sael’s. And he was still naked. That was incredibly distracting, even with the linen undertunic separating their bodies. But the thought of further humiliation if he failed forced Sael to focus.

In the dark, with Druma obscured by clouds, Sael knew his power would be very limited. He could feel the magical energy he’d stored up during the day like a fire burning in his chest and head, but not nearly as hot as he often felt it—the pervasive fog had prevented him from drawing much power, even at midday. Still, it should be enough.

Sael chanted under his breath, ancient words given to men by the gods that simultaneously unlocked channels in the body for the energy to flow through and protected the body from the energy it channeled. This was one of the reasons the training of a vönan was such a slow, painstaking process—it took years to learn how to channel the energy safely before a master would dare allow his pupil to experiment with powerful spells. Every apprentice at the academy had heard horror stories of overzealous pupils bursting into flames. The stories may not all have been true, but the masters never bothered to contradict them.

When the chant ended, Sael opened his eyes to find Koreh watching him with apprehension. Clearly the magic of the Stronni still made him very uncomfortable. He looked as though he were about to say something when the staff suddenly jerked upward, lifting both young men off the ground.

Sael had been prepared for it, but Koreh panicked for a second, scrambling for a tighter grip.

Sael couldn’t help laughing as the staff came to a stop about ten feet above where they’d been standing. “Don’t fall.”

“I’m fine.” Koreh’s startled expression turned to one of defiance. “Is this all you had to show me? We’re barely off the ground.”
Suddenly he gasped as the staff flew upward again, this time coming to a stop just a short distance above the treetops. Koreh hooted in delight.

“Quiet!” Sael said under his breath, though he was secretly pleased. “You’ll wake Master Geilin.”

Koreh ignored him, laughing and twisting his head this way and that to take in the unusual vantage point. “Take us higher!”

“Hang on, then—tight!”

Now that the spell had been cast, it took little effort for Sael to control it, like turning the wick up on a lantern. He felt the energy flowing from his core increase and the two of them began to soar upwards. Higher and higher they climbed, until the light from the campfire seemed far, far below. Despite the night being overcast, the Eye cast a soft blue-gray light over everything, diffused through the clouds, and the gently waving treetops stretching off into the distance all around them seemed ethereal and beautiful.

He feared for a moment he’d overdone it. If Koreh lost his grip, Sael wasn’t sure he’d be able to save him from falling. But Koreh was laughing now like a young child being spun around in his father’s arms.

He was loving this and had dropped all pretense of superiority. When his eyes met Sael’s, Sael saw admiration in them for the first time. And he knew that he would do anything for that look.

But then he glanced past Koreh, and what he saw made his blood run cold. A vast number of tiny spots of light dotted the ground in the distance, hazy in the mist but still visible. They weren’t the lights of Mat’zovya—he could see those on the far side of the lake. These were just beyond, in the fields between the old city and the new. They had to be campfires.

Hundreds of them.

“We’re being followed!” he exclaimed.

Frugal Friday Sale on all Dreams of Fire and Gods eBooks!

FrugalFridayThis Friday, Harmony Ink is having a sale on all three of the Dreams of Fire and Gods eBooks!  That’s including the first novel, Dreams, which won Best LGBT YA Novel at the Rainbow Awards last year.

Each one is just $1.99, so the entire trilogy is just about six dollars!

Here are the blurbs and buy links for each one:

  1. Dreams of Fire and Gods: Book One

    A thousand years ago, two factions of gods, the Stronni and the Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak by warring for the land and the frightened humans who lived there. Then suddenly the Taaweh vanished and the Stronni declared victory.

    Now, as tensions escalate between the emperor and his regent, Vek Worlen, the vek’s son, apprentice mage Sael dönz Menaük, finds himself allied with a homeless vagabond named Koreh. Together they flee the capital city and make their way across a hostile wilderness to the vek’s keep, mere steps ahead of the emperor’s assassins.
    But Koreh has dreams—dreams of the ancient Taaweh—and he knows the looming war between the emperor and the vek will be nothing compared to the war that is about to begin. The Taaweh are returning, and the war between the gods may destroy the kingdom once and for all.
  2. Dreams of Fire and Gods: Book Two
    A thousand years ago, two rival factions of gods, the Stronni and Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak in their war for power. Then the Taaweh vanished and the Stronni declared victory.Now, tensions between the human emperor and his regent are at an all-time high. The regent’s son, apprentice mage Sael dönz Menaük, has fled the capital with his master and united with a vagabond named Koreh, but assassins dog their footsteps. The future is more uncertain than ever.Since the Taaweh city of Gyishya reappeared, the mages of Harleh have weakened, cut off from the source of their power. Sael and his father struggle to keep their respective cities from crumbling under the strain or being destroyed by the gods. Then Koreh learns of a dangerous Taaweh plan to rescue their queen from the Stronni—a plan only Koreh and Sael can execute.But they may not get a chance. In Harleh Valley, a young man named Donegh pieces together what happened. Intent, he makes his way through an increasingly alien landscape to carry out his mission: assassinate the Dekan of Harleh, Sael dönz Menaük.
  3. Dreams of Fire and Gods: Book Three
    Long ago, two factions of gods, the Stronni and the Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak in a great war. The Taaweh vanished when their queen was imprisoned, and the Stronni declared victory. A thousand years later, a young nobleman named Sael and his lover Koreh have rescued the Taaweh queen. In the process Koreh was killed, and now an injured Sael struggles to heal from both injuries and grief. Unknown to him, Koreh embarks on a journey across the land of the dead, trying to make his way back to Sael—and to life. But time moves differently in the underworld, and decades pass while Koreh travels.In the living world, tensions between the emperor and Sael’s father, Vek Worlen, who is regent of the eastern kingdom, have soured beyond repair. Worlen conspires with the assassin Donegh to break into the imperial palace and challenge the emperor to a duel to the death. But the goddess Imen has chosen a young priest named Gonim as her champion. Through him she discovers the Taaweh have returned, and her enraged king threatens to destroy Dasak and all its human inhabitants. Sael must save his world, must confront the gods and persuade them not to destroy humankind. But it seems hopeless. If only Koreh were at his side…

“Dreams” wins Best LGBT Young Adult at the Rainbow Awards!

WinnerMDThe Rainbow Awards winners were announced last weekend, and to my surprise and delight, the first novel of my Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy—DreamsWON in the Best LGBT Young Adult category!

I consider this novel, and the other two in the trilogy to be among my best work, so I’m thrilled by this news.  The Rainbow Awards were huge this year, with hundreds of submissions, and Dreams was up against a lot of fantastic books.

This is what some of the judges had to say about it:

Oh, this one was a pure pleasure to read. I would gladly place this book in the hands of any young person, and urge them to lay aside all else to fill their hearts, minds, and souls with the beauty of James Erich’s Dreams. (Cherie)


Dreams was absolutely an outstanding read for me. This is the first book in a trilogy and without doubt I shall buy the next two installments to this story. (Rosie)


Wow, this one came as a surprise because although I enjoyed fantasy when I was young – it isn’t my go to genre as an adult. I thought the writing and story very engaging. (Janet)

So onward and upward!  Dreams of Fire and Gods is now completely finished and available through Dreamspinner, Amazon, and other resellers.  So if you’ve heard horrible things about what I put my characters through in Fire (the second book), rest assured that it all turns out well—and unpredictably, if I do say so myself—in the final book, Gods!

DreamsThreeCovers

The cover for “Gods” has been finalized!

GodsFSHere is the cover for my new YA fantasy novel, Gods, designed by the fabulous cover artist, Paul Richmond!  (Paul designed the first two in the trilogy, as well.)  This is the third and final installment in the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy.

One of the things that jumps out immediately, if you’ve seen the first two covers in the series, is how misty and blue it looks, compared to the others.  That’s because the valley of Harleh, in which much of the story takes place, is enveloped in a mysterious bluish cloud cover.

The novel is scheduled for release on October 17th!  I also have a chat scheduled for that day.  I’ll post about that again when it rolls around.

Book three of the “Dreams of Fire and Gods” trilogy is in final edits!

Dreams of Fire and Gods: DreamsOr perhaps you’d say it’s done with the final edits.  I turned my last edits in yesterday, so all that remains is for Dreamspinner to put together the galley proof and me to go over it.  Then it will be done!  Look for a release date in about six weeks (mid October)!

I’m very excited about this!  The trilogy ended with a much bigger bang than I could have anticipated when I began writing Dreams two years ago. Each subsequent book expands upon the one before, adding more viewpoint characters (this one has four — I didn’t go completely insane) from different areas of the culture in the Kingdom of Dasak, so we now see what life is like for nobles (represented by Sael), peasants (Koreh), assassins (Donegh), and priests (Gonim).

We also finally talk directly with the gods (the Stronni and the Taaweh) and learn more about what motivates them and where they live.  We see the Great Hall!  We get more detail about life in the city of Harleh and we finally meet the emperor in the imperial palace!

I’m psyched!