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Preview! The Mystic: Book 4 in the Shardwell Series

Book 4 is almost here! It should be out by the middle of next week! But, for those of you who just can’t wait, here’s a little preview:

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Chapter 2: Blaze of Glory

Kyleren had just stepped off LAMIE when Gene’s panicked warning rang through the comm—something about undefined sensor readings. A second later the ground behind Lance shuddered with a wild thud, like a sixty ton Famorian whale-bird hitting the ground. The shockwave threw Esilwen and Margariete off their feet. Raeylan and Tuatha managed to keep their balance and drew their weapons. Instinctively, Kyleren lifted his BT assault rifle and yanked his core drive from the tattoo on his chest—its new permanent home since Chano repaired it back on Athalonde Prime.

In front of him, a colossal lizard with glistening olive-black scales and a wingspan wider than LAMIE clenched the brown grass with talons as thick as Kyleren’s torso. Spikes grazed its head in a thorny crest. Its eyes shone deadly sharp in the brightening dawn. A jagged scar, old and long healed, marked its armored breast. Its reptilian head reared back as it inhaled a storm of breath. The air crackled with impregnated static. Kyleren and his companions stared with numb disbelief as the gargantuan monster snapped its fanged jaw open.

It was a fragging dragon.

With a concussive explosion, the dragon vomited a stream of lightning from its mouth that caught Raeylan square in the chest. The Thyellan warrior flew backward a hundred meters before he slammed against the ground. Esilwen and Margariete screamed his name, but Raeylan didn’t get up again.

From above, another bolt of lightning struck LAMIE, its hot tip blasting a hole from her top deck to cargo hold. Her living tech skin fluctuated violently as the electricity ripped through her frame. Gene shrieked through the comm before it went suddenly dead. LAMIE fired her engines and crept into the air, but a second dragon dropped from the sky—presumably the one that had hit her with the lightning attack—and its weight forced her back down. Her hull squealed in protest. This dragon, a rusty brown, was only half the size of the first and perched on top of the ship like some kind of cat stalking its prey.

Kyleren unloaded ten rounds at the rusty dragon on LAMIE, but the lizard only grinned as the shots hit its glossy scales. The inflicted damage was almost insignificant.

A chorus of roars announced the arrival of two more of the monsters, moss green and muddy bronze. They soared out of the sky in a dive, one snatching at Esilwen with its huge claws. The thing would have got her had Tuatha not deflected the grab with her feyhammer. The crystalline weapon connected with a satisfying crunch. Moss grunted with pain and veered to the side.

The newcomers were the smallest, but their eyes glowed just as brilliantly as the other two. Kyleren glanced at Scar Lizard, but the big one just watched. Distracted, Kyleren’s leg was yanked out from under him by Mud. The dragon flipped him over in the air and tossed him to the ground. Lance hit hard, coughing dirt, but managed to roll onto his back. Before he could get up or aim his rifle, however, Mud clamped down with its foreleg, pinning Lance solidly against the grass. It sucked air, preparing to blast him with an electric bolt.

Kyleren growled and braced for the attack, helpless and unable to dodge. But—quicker than Mud—Margariete appeared, dashing between Lance and the strike. As the arc of lightning hurtled down, she extended her arms, palms upward. She hissed in pain and dropped to her knees when it hit her, though she managed to dissipate the energy in all directions.

At first Kyleren felt a wave of alarm that she might be hurt, but then he remembered she had the ability to disperse energy attacks. Without further thought he pressed his hands against Mud’s palm, heaving with all his strength. Mud’s eyes widened with shock as Kyleren’s strength overcame its own. Lance threw the claw away, making the dragon extend its wings to retain its balance.

By the time Kyleren jumped to his feet, Mud lashed out with its long tail. With super speed Kyleren pushed Margariete out of the way. Planting his feet firmly, he caught Mud’s tail as it hit him, wrapping his beefy arms around the thrashing appendage.

With a pleased grin Kyleren spun, squeezing Mud’s tail as hard as he could. The dragon squawked in protest and scratched in vain at the grass, but the effort didn’t even slow Kyleren down. He twisted a 360 twice to build momentum and then let the dragon fly. The monster smashed into Moss, who hovered in the air above Tuatha and Esilwen. The two dragons tumbled out of the air in a heap of flailing wings and clawing talons.

Tuatha offered Lance a curt nod of gratitude, but Esilwen—finding her enemies entangled and distracted—dashed recklessly to where Raeylan had fallen. Tuatha ordered her to stop, but the determined healer paid no heed. Tuatha started to pursue. From over his shoulder Kyleren heard the sharp intake of breath that came before a dragon’s lightning attack. He called out a warning.

But Scar Lizard’s breath hit Tuatha directly between the shoulder blades. Electricity surged through her body, causing her to shake uncontrollably. She emitted the high-pitched wail of the shiidh, frenzied with pain. Then the dark-skinned elf crumpled, trails of smoke wafting eerily from her wounded back.

Rusty, the dragon resting on LAMIE’s back, flexed to pounce at the exposed Esilwen. Kyleren burst forward, praying he got there first. But the dragon was closer. It dove for the healer, snatching her up in its wicked claws and zooming up into the sky. At the last moment Kyleren leapt after it, bounding fifteen meters upward. But his fingertips only grazed the bottom of Esilwen’s shoe.

In moments, Rusty would disappear in the clouds. Kyleren could follow along the ground with his super speed, but that would leave Margariete to defend two injured comrades against three enemies. LAMIE was shot to hell. Across the battlefield, Raeylan grunted and coughed for breath. Tuatha clambered to her feet, despite the blood that trickled from every orifice in her face, and stumbled toward the ship. Margariete—out in the open—stared dumbfounded at the sky where Esilwen had disappeared.

Moss and Mud had finally managed to untangle themselves. Scar Lizard hadn’t even been challenged by any of them yet. The colossal dragon just blew lightning at them any time he felt like it.

They were officially fragged.

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When Books Throw Up All Over Hollywood

Don’t get me wrong, I do love to see my favorite series actualized as a feature film. There’s a certain measure of excitement that comes with finally getting to see Hogwarts, or watching Legolas frolic unhindered through the forests of Middle Earth. But for every well done novel interpretation, there seems to be a plethora of poorly translated ones. Percy Jackson comes to mind. And the sad, sad travesty that was Eragon.

Either Hollywood has saturated its pool of plot ideas, or they’ve gripped their claws into the misguided notion that only fans of books go to the movies anymore. Where’s the innovation? The top ten movies of the past four years have almost universally been based on popular novels or sequels to the comic book franchise. What happened to movies like The Matrix and Inception—films steeped so deeply in the human psyche that your head explodes when the credits run? Where are the modern Titanics and Moulin Rouges, love stories so potent that you vow never to watch another movie again (until the next one comes around)?

Even though The Hunger Games was great, and I have high hopes for the City of Bones, it pains me a little to only see movies that I already know the ending to. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but yes, Peta and Katniss get through their relationship problems, as well as Clary and Jace. How do I know? BECAUSE I READ IT ALREADY. It’s not nearly as fun as experiencing a story you’ve never seen before.

Sneak Preview of Child of Stone

Here is a sneak preview of Child of Stone which will be available Friday at amazon! Make sure to order yours!

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Prologue

For me, things have always been simple: achieve the objective. Cost is irrelevant. That’s the drill of training. Pounding your head so full of general orders, combat maneuvers, and weapons basic that you’re quarter-decked nine times out of ten. Without fail, your life becomes the mission. So many ops I lost count by the time I reached 26 DST (Designated Stellar Time). Strikes, raids, and drops. It’s what GAEL VICs live for, why we were bred in the first place.

Few soldiers have what it takes to become a GAEL. Only first generation blendeds even have a chance, and then only a fraction meet the genetic requirement for bonding. The Round took me as an infant—I tested positive on the BCB. My parents’ names are classified. Was my mother a Sulevian and my father human? Or had it been the other way around? I’ll never know.

Blending is responsible for the state of the system worlds—the MetaGalactic War has poisoned the races for almost 1500 years DST. It was the Sulevians who first mastered the technique. Up until then, Morrigans had baby Morrigans, Danaans had Danaans, and humans had humans. Interspecies unions were physically incapable of generating children. But the Sulevian scientists shoved their pointy ears into the universe’s genetic limitations, creating the tech that circumvented the laws of natural biology.

And then all hell broke loose.

Extremist cultures like the Sylph and the Vartal believed the new tech went against the dogma of their goddess, that bringing people like me into existence was a sin against nature. The Danaan System crashed into civil war, and the Sulevian homeworld was obliterated. The survivors fled to the human sectors. Soon, religious fanatics across the galaxy merged into the Agrona-Morrigan Concord—we soldiers call them the Agromors—and pushed their military into the free planets of the Blended Coalition, demanding the cessation of interracial marriage and the destruction of all “tainted” offspring.

Knowing the Agromors would never surrender, the Round created a top military soldier, the GraEL Attached Elite Level Vanguard Infiltration Commando. The GAEL VICs were the Coalition’s answer to the gromm crap infesting the extremists’ genocidal campaign. Two hundred years of combat skirmishes and we finally jacked them back into their own space. For once, the right side is winning the MetaGalactic War. Peace teeters on the brink, though I wonder if anyone still remembers the meaning of the word.

My training shaped me into an expert warrior, a soldier who could waste anyone or anything my commander set me against. But nothing since the Bang could have prepared me for her. She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.

And I hated her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Makes A Hero?

Have you ever run into a blog or review that compares Harry Potter to Star Wars or argued that Star Trek stole all of its good points from Lord of the Rings?

Well, what most of these surface scratching critics don’t realize, is that fabulous, timeless adventures follow the same pattern by design. Ingenious authors realize that in order to  withstand the shifts in culture, their characters must be accessible to the human race at large or risk become outdated within five years or so.

This pattern has a name. Its called the Journey of the Hero.

It doesn’t matter if your watching Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, or Batman. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading about Clary Fray, Katniss Everdeen, or Ender Wiggins. If a hero stands the test of time, she must become the archetype.

The Journey of the Hero transcends human culture. Its found in the stories of old: Hercules, Thor, the heroes of Japan and China. It was first described in western literature by Joseph Campbell in A Hero With A Thousand Faces.

Step One: The hero must have a divine, magical or royal lineage. Something makes the hero special, sets him apart from the millions of people in his universe. Harry is a wizard–he’s The Boy Who Lived. Luke is destined to be a Jedi. Batman is the owner of a billion dollar corporation!

Step Two: The hero is hidden away until he is ready to face his destiny. Most of the time he is given a protector or mentor to help him train. Katniss has her father. Clary has her mother. Frodo gets Gandalf. ’nuff said.

Step Three: The Childhood Test. This is the moment the hero is changed forever. He cannot sit back an let evil wreak havok around the world. He is told of his lineage and he can never go back to what he thought he was before. Peter Parker looses Uncle Ben. Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games. Ender goes to Battle School. The hero is changed forever.

Step Four: The quest. The hero embarks on his journey to save…something. Usually he doesn’t want his calling. Do you think Buffy Summers wants to be “the Slayer?” No, she just wants to be normal! Doesn’t Harry just want to be a regular wizard, without Reeta Skeeter nosing in his business all the time? But alas, the hero cannot fight against the call forever. Frodo decides to go to Mordor to destroy the Ring. Harry must finally face Voldemort. Batman must stop the Joker.

Step Five: The hero must face death and return stronger. This step is actually quite tricky. In mythology, the hero literally had to die and come back, or visit the underworld and return to the regular world. In modern times “facing death” can have a symbolic meaning. The loss of a loved one, the loss of self-confidence, or the loss of a hero’s superpowers are just some examples. The hero must face these “deaths,” something that all humans fear, and overcome them in order to successfully complete his quest. If the hero fails–well then he’s not a hero.

Step Six: The hero lives unhappily ever after. Yes, we know. This is the most controversial step. But think about it. The hero has sacrificed everything for his quest. He may have saved the world, but he has lost something along the way. Another way to explain this step is “the hero lives as happily as can be reasonably expected.” Sure, Harry married Ginny, but did he get his parents back? Will he ever see Sirius or Dumbledore again? Frodo Baggins said it best at the end of Lord of the Rings. Sam said to him: “We saved the Shire!” and Frodo answers “Not for me.”

So, there you have it. Don’t believe me? Analyze your favorite book. Take your favorite character through the steps.

Hot off the Press!

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So here is the preview of our new cover for book 3 in the Shardwell Series! Its coming out August 2nd on amazon so mark your calenders!