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.

Viruses on Mars

virus1So it occurred to me that, when two colonies separated for about fifteen years meet again, one or both might have viruses the other hasn’t encountered.  After all, something as simple as the common cold virus supposedly mutates frequently.  We already know of about 200 different viruses associated with the “common cold.”

Well, now I’m not so sure.  I’ve done some digging and it appears that these types of viruses don’t survive for more than a few weeks in the body—our immune system does a fair job of wiping them out.  And they don’t live outside the body for more than a couple weeks, either.  As far as I can surmise, the common cold viruses stay alive by hopping from person to person, so that there are always people out there harboring the viruses, keeping them alive.

So how would a population of about 20 people keep the cold incubating?  After a matter of months, any cold virus going around would effectively be obliterated.  Fifteen years later, it seems very unlikely there would be any kicking around at all.

Well, it’s a question I haven’t been able to answer with any certainty.  Maybe I’m wrong and there’s a way for the common cold to stay active in a small population.  But in the meantime, a Facebook friend supplied me with a better possibility:  the Epstein-barr virus.

This is the virus we commonly associate with “Mono” in high school or college.  It’s characterized by fatigue, possibly a sore throat, a fever, swollen lymph nodes, etc.  The fatigue can drag on for several weeks, even after the other symptoms have subsided.  It turns out, nearly 90% of humans have had the virus by the time they reach adulthood.  We don’t all notice it, however, because it doesn’t always manifest symptoms.  If you catch it as a child, it’s likely you won’t ever have symptoms, or the symptoms will be mild enough your parents might think you just have a cold.

Unfortunately, as we get older, the symptoms can be more severe.  This is why some teenagers or college students who get the virus experience “Mono,” that fatigue that goes on for weeks and weeks.  In a small percentage of cases, the symptoms can be far worse.  Epstein-barr has been linked to encephalitis and several types of lymphoma.  It would therefore be a serious concern for the colonists.

And the best part (from the perspective of my story) is that it never leaves the body, once you have it.  The virus can remain dormant for decades, until some stress on the body causes it to reactivate.  At which point, it can be passed through contact with the infected person’s saliva—something as simple as a mother kissing her child, someone taking a bite of something and sharing the rest, or a parent picking up toys that have been drooled on.

(In reality, I don’t think this is “cool.”  The person who brought all of this to my attention learned about the virus when it struck her family in a particularly tragic way.)

So after researching this, I’ve had to go back and rewrite a couple chapters.  When it was just the common cold I was dealing with, I could play it for humor.  Now it’s not going to be a horrible tragedy for the colonies—that would derail the story too much—but they’ll have to take it a bit more seriously.

An interview with Maliha from Beloved Pilgrim by Christopher Hawthorne Moss

Today we’re featuring a new novel release by author Christopher Hawthorne MossBeloved Pilgrim, from Harmony Ink Press.

The blurb for the novel is at the bottom of the post, but first, and interview with one of the main characters:  Maliha, the love interest of Elias.

Maliha is the daughter of a Turkish woman whose Greek lover had abandoned her.  She used to live in a Turkish village but married a Turkish man named Yukop in an arranged marriage.  Yukop has been away fighting alongside Kilij Arslan, and may be dead at this point.  Maliha lives with her son Taceetin and her harridan mother-in-law in the street of the laundresses outside the city gates of Constantinople.  There she is forced to work as an “entertainer” in Andronikos’ villa, serving the male guests of Andronikos.

Elias is enthralled by Maliha from the start but cannot reveal himself.  When Maliha is fired for not fitting in, Elias goes to fetch her back.   It is then that the kiss Maliha mentions below takes place.  Maliha follows Elias back to the villa she, where she persuades Elias’s squire to let her into his room while he is bathing.

The rest is, as they say, historical fiction.

Interview:

Did you realize that the man you knew as Elias had a female body?

Not until we kissed at my husband’s mother’s hut.  You see, I had raised my hands to push him back when I saw he meant to force me.  My palms pressed on his breast, or should I say breasts.  Even through his clothing I knew those were the breasts of a woman.  That’s why I kissed him back.

You prefer women?

Yes.  I discovered this when I was a younger girl and spent time with her at her home.  We got up to all sorts of mischief, including in her bed.  In my culture, such relations are overlooked, so long as we marry and have children.  I was married and knew I had not at all liked the rough handling of my husband.   When I felt Elias’s breasts it was such a wonderful memory

Then what did you think when Elias told you that he was a man in his heart and mind?  Did you believe him?

My Elias would never lie to me.

Could he not have been mistaken?

That is not something one makes mistakes about.  I trust him to tell the truth and also to know the truth.

So you were still attracted to him?

Oh yes, of course.  I loved his woman’s body, but I had the companionship of a man in the same person.  I have more than any woman such as I could ever hope for.  And he is a man inside, I know, but he is a wise and good man.  And he loves me and my little boy.

The Blurb for Beloved Pilgrim:

At the time of the earliest Crusades, young noblewoman Elisabeth longs to be the person she’s always known is hidden inside. When her twin brother perishes from a fever, Elisabeth takes his identity to live as a man, a knight. As Elias, he travels to the Holy Land, to adventure, passion, death, and a lesson that honor is sometimes found in unexpected places.

Elias must pass among knights and soldiers, survive furious battle, deadly privations, moral uncertainty, and treachery if he’ll have any chance of returning to his newfound love in the magnificent city of Constantinople.

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

2nd Edition

1st edition by Nan Hawthorne published by Shieldwall Books, February 2011

What I’m working on now: Martian Born

It’s been a few months since the release of Gods.  And for a short time, I had no idea what my next YA novel would be.  I had a few ideas, but nothing was really grabbing my interest.  But I’ve finally begun work on a novel called Martian Born.

541357_348120215250387_100001572338413_925791_325767953_nMartian Born is about a young man named Dylan Rivera, who has the distinction of being the first human being born on Mars.  By the time the story starts, Dylan is seventeen, and the colony has been on the planet for twenty years.  The picture I’ve linked to at the top of this post is actually a concept painting for the Mars One project, a non-profit endeavor to place a human colony on Mars within the next twenty years.  My story isn’t based on Mars One, and it isn’t about the early days of establishing the colony—a fascinating story in itself—and Dylan’s colony doesn’t look like the picture.  But the picture gives the right impression.

In Dylan’s world, there are two colonies, established by different political entities on Earth who have a very tense relationship.  Due to this, the colonies are forbidden to communicate with each other.

However, a group of teenagers from the rival colony, led by a youth named Timur Krasnov, attempt to steal equipment from Anvesaka Colony.  Dylan and his friends stop them, but this incident causes the colonies to finally come into contact.  And when Dylan uncovers the truth about conditions at Huozhing Colony, and how close they are to collapse, he convinces Timur that they need to work together to stave off disaster, despite Earth politics.

Of course, there is also a romance thread between Dylan and Timur.

iYmta2AWBJ9k3When I was a teenager, I devoured the YA novels (at the time, they were called “juveniles”) written by Robert Anson Heinlein.  They were a bit preachy by today’s standards, full of his political ideals and morality.  As an adult, I find myself questioning a lot of his assumptions, but still respecting Heinlein’s intelligence, and overall decency.  He also made an attempt—unusual for a science fiction author of his generation—to acknowledge homosexuality and not pass judgement on gays.  (In a side note, Heinlein was a proponent of nudism and polyamory, though of course these concepts didn’t appear in his young adult novels.)

The juveniles were full of adventure and the joy of scientific discovery.  I’ve been re-reading some of them: Have Spacesuit—Will Travel, Red Planet, Citizen of the Galaxy.  And also what I consider to be his most brilliant adult novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  I see Martian Born as a tribute to these novels, hearkening back to the days when science fiction depicted a hopeful future, instead of a future that gives us nightmares as it approaches.  I also find science fascinating, and hope to instill in this novel some of the wonder I found in the Heinlein novels.

So far, at about 10k words, the novel is a bit top-heavy with explanations of how the colonists go about their daily lives.  I may have to move some of this around to get the plot moving a bit faster in the beginning.  Though this has to be balanced with the fact that readers will be mostly unfamiliar with the setting.

But I’m having a great time with it!

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.

Win a free copy of “Seidman” today at 5pm EST!

SeidmanIf you follow Harmony Ink Press on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/HarmonyInkPress ), they’ll be giving away a free copy of my first YA novel about Vikings and sorcery, Seidman, tonight at 5pm EST!

Make sure to grab it quickly—the tweetaway only lasts 20 minutes!

If you’re not familiar with the novel, here’s the blurb and an excerpt:

BLURB:

In Viking Age Iceland, where boys are expected to grow into strong farmers and skilled warriors, there is little place for a sickly twelve-year-old boy like Kol until he catches the eye of a seið-woman—a sorceress—and becomes her apprentice. Kol travels to the sorceress’s home, where her grandson, Thorbrand, takes Kol under his wing. Before long Kol discovers something else about himself that is different—something else that sets him apart as unmanly: Kol has fallen in love with another boy. 

But the world is changing in ways that threaten those who practice the ancient arts. As Kol’s new life takes him across the Norse lands, he finds that a new religion is sweeping through them, and King Olaf Tryggvason is hunting down and executing sorcerers. When a decades-old feud forces Thorbrand to choose between Kol and his duty to his kinsman, Kol finds himself cast adrift with only the cryptic messages of an ancient goddess to guide him to his destiny—and possibly to his death.

EXCERPT:

After more than a week of this isolation, Kol finally reached the point where he couldn’t stand it anymore. So, late in the night when he was certain everyone in the hall was sleeping, he got up and crept to Thorbrand’s bed. He thought his friend was asleep and reached out to touch him gently, but then he heard the young man whisper, “What are you doing?”

Startled, Kol pulled his hand back. “I just wanted to see you,” he said, his voice sounding pathetic even to his own ears.

“I know what you want,” Thorbrand said harshly. “But you’re out of your mind if you think I’m going to….” They had never given a word to what they’d done together in the bathhouse, and he balked at naming it now.

“Not in my father’s bed.”

“I just wanted—”

“Go back to your own bed, Kol.”

Stung, Kol turned and slipped away. But he didn’t return to his bed—he couldn’t. He wasn’t sure what to do, but his throat was constricted and his eyes threatened to brim over. The last thing he needed was for the others to wake up and catch him sobbing. He grabbed his cloak and threw it over his naked shoulders. Then, trying not to make any noise, he opened the door of the longhouse just a crack and slipped outside.

The night air was bitter cold and the ground nearly frozen. He hadn’t thought to put his boots on, and it wasn’t long before his bare feet grew numb. He clutched the cloak to his body, shivering as an icy drizzle fell upon him.

But it was too late to turn back. The tears had overflowed and he couldn’t stop them from streaming down his face.

The sensible thing might be to go to the bathhouse. At least it would be warm there. But it would just remind him of Alfdis’s death and the fact that Thorbrand wasn’t with him. So instead, he climbed a small hill not far from the longhouse and sat down on the damp grass. At least this way he could tuck his feet into the folds of his cloak while he tried to make sense of things.

Thorbrand was chieftain now. And he was being forced to take on immense responsibilities. Kol understood that. But it seemed more had changed than he’d realized. He’d thought Thorbrand might be missing him, needing him. That he would welcome Kol holding him, if just for a short time. But….

“You idiot,” Thorbrand’s irritated voice cut through his gloomy thoughts.

Startled, Kol looked up to see a shadowy figure climbing the hill toward him. Unlike Kol, Thorbrand had had the sense to at least throw on a tunic and some boots, though he’d left his cloak behind.

“What in Hel are you doing out here?” Thorbrand growled. “It’s freezing!”

“Nothing,” Kol replied, struggling to keep his voice even.

Thorbrand snorted as he plopped down on the grass beside him, reminding Kol for a moment of Alfdis. “Nothing. Just sitting on cold, wet grass in the dark, crying like a girl. Some great sorcerer you are!”

This was too much. It was bad enough for Thorbrand to shove him away, but to come after Kol just to make fun of him!

Kol wanted to lash out at him, but before he could do or say anything, Thorbrand had pulled him close and was kissing him hard on the mouth. And it was all there, in that kiss—everything Kol feared had gone away. All the longing; all the tenderness.

When Thorbrand finally broke the kiss, keeping their foreheads touching so that Kol could still feel his hot breath against his lips, Thorbrand said, “Do you think I haven’t been going out of my mind too? I hate sleeping alone, not being able to hold you. But what am I supposed to do about it?”

“I don’t know….”

“I’m a chieftain now,” Thorbrand went on. “Or at least I’m trying to be. We’re not kids anymore, Kol.”

“What does that mean?”

Thorbrand gritted his teeth in frustration, unable to pull away. “Men don’t… want this.”

Kol looked back at him defiantly, watching while the stern resolution in Thorbrand’s eyes gradually gave way to desire. At last, Thorbrand pulled him close again, brushing Kol’s ear with his lips as he said, “Come on, then.”

He led Kol to the bathhouse, where they stayed until the lightening sky forced them to return to the longhouse. Fortunately, nobody had awoken yet, and they were able to sneak back to their separate beds without being discovered.

Guest blog: Eli Easton – Inspiring “Superhero”

Today, we welcome guest blogger Eli Easton, talking about the inspiration for her new YA novella, Superhero!

“Superhero” is my new YA novella from Harmony Ink.  It’s a story about two best friends, Jordan and Owen, growing up in a small town in Wisconsin, and the way their relationship changes as each character comes to terms with his sexual orientation.  Jordan realizes in sixth grade that he’s gay.  For Owen, it’s a much longer and more difficult road to find his own truth, one that strongly tests the nature of he and Jordy’s friendship. “Superhero” is primarily a m/m romance with lots of heart, a little angst, and some sexual tension!

So where did the idea for the book come from?  There were a few inspirations.  I began the story as an entry for a sports-themed anthology (Owen is a high school star wrestler).  But it soon became clear to me that I was going to go WAY over the word count limit so I decided to write it as a stand-alone novella instead.

The inspiration for the high school setting for this love story was Fer and David, characters on a Spanish TV show who play two high school boys who fall in love.  The show is called Física o Química (English: Physics or Chemistry).  I discovered the show while browsing around youtube and trolled the web until I found videos with English subtitles.

image2

Fer (in back) and David, played by Javier Calvo and Adrian Rodriguez

What I particularly like about Fer and David is the fact that the show is a soap opera about a high school, and Fer and David are just one plotline among many and are treated much like any other romance.  They have a loving and public relationship, including PDA in the halls, and neither the teachers nor the others students have a problem with it.  That was very refreshing to me.

Fer was an inspiration for Jordan.  He was the model for what Jordan looks like (a tall and very lean cute brunette) and for Jordan’s self-confident attitude.  Like Fer, Jordan is completely comfortable being gay and he’s really very emotionally mature.

Of course, I don’t live in Spain. I grew up in Ohio so I set my YA story in the American Midwest where things are not quite so progressive.  Being gay is definitely not widely accepted at Jordan and Owen’s school and so that figured into the plotline of “Superhero” in a big way.  And Jordan, unlike Fer, is a very talented artist who is obsessed with comic books and in love with his best friend.  Owen is not really anything like David in the show.  He’s an athlete, a wrestler from a family of wrestlers, who ends up being good enough to be ranked number one in the state.  At his core Owen is a big-hearted, very responsible guy. But the really important thing about these two is not so much who they are as individuals, but the beauty and strength of their friendship.  They’ve been best friends since second grade and nothing can come between them.

As a writer, I love it when I find something that excites me and makes me feel intensely.  I want to channel those emotions and direct them into my work.  Because if I can feel passionately about something, I know my audience can too.  So whether the inspiration is a friend, a beautiful painting, a song, a movie, a biography, or a TV show, I’m happy to let that emotion churn up inside me and get poured into a new work that will then, perhaps, inspire others.

If you want to check out Fer and David’s story, here’s a link to videos with English subtitles:

http://foqmylife.tumblr.com/Playlist

And here’s a lovely screen grab of Fer and David from a FoQ fan on tumblr:

image3

Eli Easton

Read an excerpt from “Superhero” here:  http://elieaston.com/books-by-eli-easton/superhero/

Peekaboo, Spooky & Brimstone Slot Canyons hike, Escalante, UtahAbout Eli Easton

Eli Easton is a new nom de plume for an author who has primarily published mystery thrillers in the past.  As an addict of m/m romance novels, she decided to tip her size-nine toe in the water and write in the genre herself.  “Superhero” is her first YA novella.  She has various other m/m titles out or soon releasing from Dreamspinner Press.  She lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, three cows, and six chickens.  You can get news about her books at the links below:

Eli on goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7020231.Eli_Easton

Eli’s blog:  www. elieaston.com

Eli’s Tumblr:   http://elieaston.tumblr.com/

Eli’s Twitter:  EliEaston

Superhero links:

Buy at Dreamspinner here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4081

On Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17855574-the-lion-and-the-crow

Eli Easton’s website:  www.elieaston.com

GIVE AWAY:

Check out True Colorz for an interview with Eli and a chance to win a free ebook of “Superhero” (just leave a comment). http://true-colorz.blogspot.com/search/label/featured%20author