Episode 63: Delilah S. Dawson

Photo by Shane LeonardI am excited to share this week’s episode with you. Delilah is one of my favorite author’s to read  and it was a blast chatting with her!

Delilah S. Dawson is the New York Times bestselling writer of Star Wars: PHASMA, Servants of the Storm, the HIT series, Wake of Vultures and the Shadow series (as Lila Bowen), and many others. She has written a variety of short stories and comics. Delilah is on the show talking her books and comics, inspiration, and a love of Star Wars. She goes into what it’s like writing Rhett Walker of her Shadow series, and the history of other characters. Delilah also talks her journey to writing comics.
Find more about Delilah: https://www.whimsydark.com/

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Jason Sizemore on Too Many Words

This week I talk with Jason Sizemore about what Apex Publications has in store for the future, what it’s like working from home, and the importance of animal companions.
 Photo by Shane Leonard
Raised in the Appalachian hills of southeastern Kentucky, Jason Sizemore is a three-time Hugo Award-nominated editor, writer, and publisher who operates the science fiction, fantasy, and horror press Apex Book Company. He is the author of the collection of dark science fiction and horror shorts Irredeemable and the tell-all creative non-fiction For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher. He currently lives in Lexington, KY.
Apex Publications – Strange. Beautiful. Shocking. Surreal
Website:http://www.apexbookcompany.com
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Book Review: An Unkindness of Magicians

UNKINDNESSfrontcover_final-740x1118.jpgEvery so often a book comes around that is much more than a good read, or an engaging story. Certain books feel more like a portal, like the pages are kissed with magic and anytime you pick it up you are a hundred percent a part of the world as if you were inside the pages yourself. It’s those books that keep us digging through shelves. “An Unkindness of Magicians” by Kat Howard was all of that. “Unkindness” caused a similar stir in my mind that I experienced when I was read Harry Potter and Narnia as a child but I felt it as an adult. Magic is right there under our noses. Anything is possible. But, much like adult life, everything costs something and sometimes that cost is great.
Kat Howard threads an enchanting, mysterious, and dangerous world of social-climbing magicians with the familiar New York City, weaving a world both comforting and exciting and terrifying. The Fortune’s Wheel turned earlier than it should have. Powerful magical houses must get ready to hire their champions and battle to be the head of the Unseen World.
Hands down my favorite aspect of this book is Sydney, an unhoused magician with incredible magical talent and a fantastic backstory. I like to keep my reviews spoiler-free so this will remain no different BUT I will say that Sydney’s character arc is a raw and relatable thing of beauty. Every character in the story is complex and stands on their feet in their way. All of them kept my interest as the expertly woven story unfolded. Sydney is strong, brave, and full of faults and fear. I was rooting for from the moment I met her. Character-wise she’s one of greats.
I love the magic in this book. The magic is a character of its own. Many fantasy books have magic in them but so seldom does the magic come across on the page as having feelings, obstacles and faults. The visuals Howard painted of the magic casted were beautiful and never once slowed the story down but she also gave the magic a personality. This personality changes depending on who is using the magic and that is just fantastic.
I’m going to call out one more awesome aspect of this book and then you just have to go grab a copy because this is so worth reading. The relationships in this story (and there are many) are so organic and varied and real. Howard juggles multiple family dynamics and she does this with such a natural rhythm. I was invested in every one whether they were relationships built long before the story started or new ones we got to witness.
“An Unkindness of Magicians” is by far my favorite book I’ve read in 2017. Like I said in the beginning I felt the adult version of what I felt as kid when I read Harry Potter. That is awesome. So yeah, if you haven’t read it, grab a copy! You won’t regret it.

 

updates and high hopes

Hey, everyone!

I want to start by saying thank you so much to everyone who has pre-ordered a copy of The Shadow Bearers. Rebecca and I really appreciate it!

Today on my podcast, Too Many Words, I talk with Rebecca all about The Shadow Bearers. What inspired us, how much fun it is building a fantasy world with a friend, and quite a bit more. You’ll get to learn more about us as well.

Do it up!

iTunes: http://goo.gl/0yXoZN

Stitcher: http://goo.gl/GlYWRa

More exciting news is that original artwork of Athea, Tag, Mayhem, and the locketts is in the works! So definitely keep your eyes out for that.

We are having fun getting new chapters ready for you to read. Both Rebecca and I are having so much fun working together. We are excited but also anxious to get in the Top 10 soon. We are in September, which means The Shadow Bearers is now in the second month of the Geek & Sundry Fantasy contest. There are a lot of great books, and we are excited to be a part of it.

10 more pre-orders unlocks Chapter 5: Drawn to Darkness

25 more pre-orders unlocks Chapter 6: Evil Alliances

Please pre-order your copy and tell a friend!

https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-shadow-bearers

Thank you so much for all your support and continued support. We can’t do it without your help!

excited to share!

Chapter Three: Lost Locketts is now up! Really, really proud of this one folks! Tiny tunnels ran beneath the darkest of places. Narrow walkways bored through thick earth allowing access to all the lands. The scent of wet grass and mud filled the little holes. The creatures that lived there carried the same scent, leaving traces of it behind on pillows after turning through thoughts and gathering what they needed. Most of the time they went unnoticed in the rest of the realm. Occasionally a

Tiny tunnels ran beneath the darkest of places. Narrow walkways bored through thick earth allowing access to all the lands. The scent of wet grass and mud filled the little holes. The creatures that lived there carried the same scent, leaving traces of it behind on pillows after turning through thoughts and gathering what they needed. Most of the time they went unnoticed in the rest of the realm. Occasionally a lockett would slip up and get discovered. Those poor locketts didn’t usually get to return home.

The locketts lived like most Huditrain natives. They had places to eat and shop, families to care for, and their individual jobs and skills that kept the days full. Their customs, of course, different from most. The tiny bark-skinned creatures cared to wear worms for warmth and snack on the dampest of soil. The routine little roots they were, undoubtedly made the lockett’s work ethic more fierce than other beings.

For more visit Inkshares: https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-shadow-bearers

The Beginning

In my next attempt to lure you into preordering a copy of The Shadow Bearers and help my friend and I win the Geek & Sundry fantasy contest, you will find the first part of Chapter One below. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Chapter One:

Athea’s footsteps matched her wolf’s. Gangly trees framed the sky. The further she got into the dark wood the more her impending future faded into the midsts. She preferred hunting

Athea’s footsteps matched her wolf’s. Gangly trees framed the sky. The further she got into the dark wood the more her impending future faded into the midsts. She preferred hunting hairlings to receiving congratulations for an event that hadn’t happened yet. Wishing hail for what was expected enticed her to draw her weapons.

The walls of duty closed in around her. Night was near. The usual signs of the dimming sky was Athea’s favorite time to hunt despite the risks involved. She went further than advised. Dreams of what the dark lands looked like forced her awake when everyone else could sleep. Whispers of the dead tugged at her toes under the fur blanket. She wondered if it was a warning, but couldn’t be sure. Paranoia often blurred the lines of reality and illusions of fear. Now in the deep woods the idea faded. It would be a challenge to convince herself back to the village. The large mountains stood fierce behind the trees adding to how trapped she felt—living for a destiny she never wanted, something she would have never chosen for herself. Athea believed in a soul’s journey. Her father often asked her what she thought she was chosen for. Athea didn’t know what it was, just what it wasn’t. The power could have gone to any of her siblings, but it went to her. A curse.

A soft rustle brought Athea’s eyes to the sound’s source. A small gray hairling stood frozen between two hailberry bushes. She fanned out her hand signaling to her wolf. Mayhem stood dead his tracks. His wise eyes set on his master awaiting her cue. Athea pulled out her bow, then slid an arrow from her quiver. She nocked an arrow as she locked the prey in her sights. Her fingers tightened around the string. She arched her shoulder back as she pulled back the tension. Her eyes narrowed and focused. The fletching twisted in the wind as the arrow soared through a clearing in the brush. The moist soil soft under her hide boots. The cutting through the flesh was faint but a sound Athea would recognize anywhere.

“Mayhem, laana!” Athea extended her finger toward the rodent’s small carcass. “Gentle this time,” she warned.

Mayhem nodded before trotting into the wood. Athea slid her crossbow back into the gearpack. She leaned against a tree trunk. Her fingers danced across the dozen dead hairlings hanging from her belt. Dread of tomorrow’s ceremony whispered for her to run. She wouldn’t. Athea was stubborn and angry but she was always loyal. Something she called a fault but her father called a trait. The thought of her father brought a smile to her face. Lately the smile was tainted with sadness. He was ill. His time was ending. Fear and selfishness followed these thoughts. Her village’s safety would be up to her. Her father, Chief Meshvar, lead the Dagee, in The War From Nowhere, despite the loss of their allies the Nari. He fought them long enough to get his people to safety behind the great mountains. How could she follow that? Another war was certain, it was the when unclear. Mayhem sauntered back. His jaw loose around the tiny corpse.

Athea hung the limp hairling on her belt next to the others. A gust of wind rushed her way. The smell of smoke inescapable. It didn’t carry the scent of a campfire nor did it hold any resemblance of a spice or fat that indicated cooking. Her tribe had their faults but their survival skills wouldn’t lead any of them to cook past nightfall. Death loomed heavy in the air. She turned to her wolf, Mayhem. His gray eyes fixed on forces she could not see. Athea brought the tips of her fingers to her mouth.

She spoke the words, “Vine to vane. Ash to spine.”

Athea lay her fingers over the root-rich soil. Green and blue orbs hovered in the space between. All the energy kept coming back to her. There were no connections to receive her message. Usually, her community rushed in, roots connected all of them, but there was only silence. A desperate plea of panic rushed around in her gut. Mayhem whined. His eyes narrowed. He studied a distant cluster of sap weed trees.

“What is that?” Athena whispered to her wolf, both her hands grasped her rapiers—an extension of her after years of training.

Mayhem inched closer to the invisible threat. The bushes tousled. He growled and snapped his enormous jaw in warning. Athea pulled her weapons from their sheaths. Her words only audible inside her head. Broken twigs and crushed leaves sang in peril though there were no visible signs of anything.

Maybe conjurers, Athea wondered then dismissed thought. Conjurers wouldn’t be this far north. Her grasp around her weapons tightened.

A large part formed in the trees as a body collapsed from the underbrush. His large frame hit the dirt ground with a thud. A leather cord strung through a copper medal hung from his bloody hand. He was from her village. She raced toward him ignoring Mayhem’s warning.

Bent at the knees she turned the burned body to face her. The familiar glazed eyes of Kolton, the butcher, stared back at her. He held no acknowledgment that he knew Athea, the future chief, the one whose power skipped her first three siblings–a legend before she was born.

“What happened to you?”  

“It found us,” he muttered through gasps. Blood pooled at both corners of his mouth. His body fell limp in her arms. Mayhem howled. His eyes waiting for Athea’s cue.

Her mind came to no other options. Athea stood up. “Let’s head home,” she slapped her leg as she glanced once more at the still body. She would come back for the Kolton’s body once she understood the situation.

Athea and Mayhem trudged through the thicket, following the path they took to the hunting ground.

I sensed something before I geared up. I should have listened. I wouldn’t, she thought as she positioned her weapons to block her chest. I was too angry.

The smoke grew thicker the closer they got to camp. The dead hairlings thumped against her side as she ran closer. She ignored any fear warning her to slow down. Her eyes burned around the edges; her lungs struggling to work past the smoke. She cupped her hand over her eyes as one does to block the sun but the act served as no help, but her effort eased the panicked despair climbing her spine.

    Mayhem’s side brushed against her leather protected thigh. Wind rippled through her braids; the same breeze pushing soot-laden air into her face. The roar of the fire reached her ears now. Mayhem whined for their family. The stench of burnt flesh threatened to swallow them as the approaching flames grew near. Devastation flooded Athea. Charred bodies littered the cursed ground. Her village engulfed in angry flames. The fire that swallowed the council huts formed a distant circle. Silhouettes of the others staggered around the tortured corpses. A sense of dark magic lingered near the devastation. Athea collapsed to the ground. Pain goaded to eat her alive. Her father and everyone she knew, gone. Ruin ran rapid in her newly broken soul. An ominous fog stamped through the forsaken grounds. A force resembling nothing human. Dark shadows hastened around the bodies whose souls will never get the opportunity to grow properly with the earth.

Her daggers glowed green—an enchantment indicating dark magic only used by those consumed by hate.

We weren’t hidden well enough. It was foolish to think the great mountains would be adequate.

Athea’s emotion escalated in her, creating thousands of fissures.

She cursed herself.

All that time I wasted wishing my fate was anything but leading the village.

Athea never considered the idea of everything being taken from her. Her chosen legacy stripped away.

Her mind spiraled. Concrete thoughts were no longer coming together, only fragments of darkness and loss. Mayhem nuzzled her hand. His eyes set on the horizon past the village. He took two careful strides toward the cliff side. Her companion was right; the distance was the first step.

You can read the rest of Chapter One and Chapter Two on Inkshares: https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-shadow-bearers 

 

this is where I beg

I tweeted yesterday, “Riding a fine line between delusions of grandeur and crippling self-doubt is part of my process.” It’s so true. Especially recently. Making a big jump to make my dreams come true leaves me unsettled. Probably because it makes me vulnerable. As some of you may know fantasy author, Rebecca Clark and I have entered our novel ‘The Shadow Bearers’ into the Geek and Sundry contest. My stomach is in knots and my hopes are high.

 

will

I want it so bad. The thing I am realizing is producing good content I can do, but selling units I have a lot to learn. It’s all part of it. I got so close with several agents with the YA contemporary I have been shopping. They have all come back and said contemporary isn’t selling the way it was. People want to see more fantasy. I’m glad I love writing and consuming fantasy but the realization Not Without Sunshine is farther from finding a home is difficult to swallow. Part of my makeup in romanticizing and dreaming big. Sometimes it is hard not to bend, to feel frustrated.
gg
I feel weird asking people to support my work, but it’s something I have to do to help my dreams come true.
We need a hand. Geek & Sundry pick the top three books and publish them, distribute them to bookstores, and shop the book around for other media possibilities as well.
We are making a big push to get 50 pre-orders by 50 new readers by the weekend. That puts us in the top ten, on the front page of the contest, and is a great way to reach our goals.
Here is the link to The Shadow Bearer Page https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-shadow-bearers
Rebecca and I are having a blast writing this together. Thank you for your help!
thank you
 
 
I included the prologue of The Shadow Bearers. I’d love to hear what you think. Chapter one and two are on Inkshares and Chapter three and four will be posted next week.
Athea brought the tips of her fingers to her mouth. She spoke the words, -Vine to vane. Ash to spine.- 1.jpg
Prologue

Chrysthe swallowed the urge to cry out as she dropped to her knees. The bodies of their tribe members’ lifeless spirits were strewn throughout the center of the village. “The darkness took it all while we were hunting, Emon. We need to run!” The urgency in her voice surprised her. They knew this day was coming why now the attempt at salvation?

Neilos wanted more power. Needed more power. Neilos’s hunger to be a legend led him into the arms of Kala, The Goddess of the Cipher Land. When he abandoned his people the Dagee, he sacrificed their lives. His thirst to rule all Hudtira far outweighed what he had right in front of him. His followers one of the many costs. His own sister, Chrysthe, left to fend for herself.

Emon pulled Chrysthe off the ground and cradled her face between his warm hands. “Unfortunately, my love, there is nowhere we can go. The Darkness will find us. We were all warned years ago.” Emon sighed heavily with the realization this could have been avoided.

“I don’t want to give up Emon.” Chrysthe pulled away from his grasp. She headed for the trail leading to the mountain’s summit. Emon knew she might find comfort in a place they’ve cherished through the years. The only place they could truly be together. Pine needle covered branches reached out to them as they hurried away from the settlement. A hollow sensation followed close behind. An emptiness so vast they could almost smell the cipher edging closer.

Both were silent as they tread up the mountain one last time. The undeniable realization sunk into Chrysthe’s gut as they ascended. Nothing could spare their lives.  Blood dripped from her balled up fists. She realized she was digging her nails into her palms soft skin as they reached the trail’s end. Defeat encased her bones.

Chrysthe leaned against the mountain’s vertical slate peak admiring the view of the land. Her head turned toward the river. She joined her fingertips. A blueish hue glowed in the space between her hands, “Vine to vane. Ash to spine.”

“I wasn’t aware that you cared enough about the Nari to protect them,” Emon stated. “After all they’re half the reason we’ve lost our tribe.”

“Yes, but our tribe is the other half of the reason. We started this too.” Chrysthe let out an exaggerated sigh. “No one should have to lose everything. It may be too late but any help I can grant is better than nothing.” Chrysthe’s cheeks burned as her palms tingled. The chant cast.

Emon paced back and forth debating what to do next. “I don’t foresee a way out of this, do you?”

“No. Not now. It’s not time.”

A flash of movement appeared in the corner of her eye.

“It’s too late for us, Emon.”

The Darkness hurtled toward them on the mountain top. Nowhere left to go.

“I love you with all of me, Chrysthe.” A single tear rolled down his face.

“Me, too.” Emon pulled Chrysthe toward him and held her.

This was their end.

They both knew it was pointless to fight the shadows, no one was ready for the change necessary to restore the peace. Without a sound the Darkness rolled in. When the shadows subsided both Emon and Chrysthe were gone.

Beneath the fallen dominion of the Dagee, Neilos stood in his chambers. His stretched hands folded at the waist.  Ferena, once a vibrant and prosperous nation is nothing but crumbled buildings cast in the purple clouds. The perimeter of the enchantment guarded by shadows—a benefit of following Kala’s orders. Bulging veins the color of wild violets weaved up his neck like vines strangling a green giant. A deep shadow resembling a human stood beside him—something only few could see. Neilos focused his stare on the mist rising from a stone pillar standing in the center of his rock-walled cavern. The only light source was the glow from his powers and a candle resting on the bone alter.

“Pascentium vitia, spiritus et carbones,” Neilos spoke in a melodic song. His long

chestnut hair shaved to the skin. An outline of a spider reached to each ear, then trailed down his neck. He hasn’t yet earned the right to mark his back.

“Send them back, not further,” an icy gust thrashed past his drawn face.

“They aren’t finished,” he snapped before reconsidering his audience. “They should do more before returning to their hosts.”

“What took thousands of years to build costs more than a week’s work,” the voice sounded closer to a woman’s. The blurry outlines grew more defined. The tip of a pointed nose quickly followed her flushed cheeks. He waited for more details of her to reveal themselves though Neilios never saw her lips. Her brief clarity faded back to an obscurity.  

“More can be done.” His voice rushed and frustrated.

“You need rest. Creatures will always have fear and hate. There is no concern of loss here.”  Each word the shadow spoke grew louder. Then just like a breeze past the flame of a candle, the voice went out. Nelios now stood alone in his tomb of worship. He nodded at the carved stone reaching from the ground to the curved planchement.

He pressed his fingertips together. “Quaerere nihil magis, sequor domum.”  

The purple light coursed from his hands surrounding the stone. His eyes rolled back into his head leaving only vast white orbs framing his nose. The small room’s air grew thinner. Neilos lungs gasped before the air became thin again. Silence filled his mind. He extinguished the candle’s flame with one heavy breath.

Everything grew quiet.

The whispers of failure nagged at the corners of his desperate mind. He chose to focus on the smell of muck permeating from the slop between the stone walls. His mind slowed as he began to pick at each detail of the smell. The lands he stole weighed heavier in the quiet.