Saturday, July 30, 2011

An Early Sample Sunday

Well, folks, it's been a sparse week of blogging here at Casa de Gatehouse.  I've had a lot on my plate, preparing for my week out of town.  That's right, folks, this intrepid writer is going to be chaperoning band camp for the Mount Vernon Marching Wildcats!  Someone save me!

With all that's been going on, I haven't had as much time to blog, write, or really do much of anything.  But I have managed to squeeze in a few hours of editing and proofing here and there, so The Door to Justice is still tentatively on schedule for a early to mid September release.  I'm hoping that I'll have some free time at camp while the kids are out marching to do some more work on it, as it really does need a good coat of polish before I'm ready to release it to the world!

Since I've got a lot to do tomorrow, I am going to post my Sample Sunday for this week just a tad early.  It's from one of the early chapters of The Door to Justice, but it's an exciting scene, and it shows us another side of our funny little wizard, Pomander.  It's been sparsely edited... so I apologize for any typos you may find!  The final release will, of course, be polished to a bright shine!  Enjoy, and don't forget to keep an eye out for The Door to Justice this fall!

“I must hold out the hope that this war can be won with words, not battles,” said Pomander. He sighed. “Although I’m afraid a battle or two may be in store before all this is finished.”
“So what’s our first step?” said Ryan. “What do we do right now, this second?”
“We give Fred time to gain control of herself, and then we go talk to Magus and his rebels.”
“I have control of myself,” said Fred grimly, pulling away from Ryan. Her voice sounded strange, and her eyes glowed brightly. “Let’s go.”
“Fred,” said Ryan quickly. “Are you sure? Give yourself a little time…”
“I’ve had enough time. I want to know exactly what happened to my son, and who’s responsible. And then, I want them to pay.” She clenched her fists, and the glow behind her eyes intensified. “Let’s get on with it.”
“As you wish, Fred,” said Pomander. “I want you to know, I am sorry for your loss. I will make sure his death was not meaningless.”
Fred glared at the little man in anger, but said nothing.
“Yes, well,” said Pomander quickly. “Let’s go speak with Magus.”
They found the rebel leader in the central chamber speaking with one of the technicians manning the monitoring systems. He glanced up at their approach, taking note of Fred’s determined expression.
“So are you ready to discuss strategy?” he said.
“We’re ready to discuss the problems here, and how best to resolve them,” replied Pomander.
“Then our next move is to mobilize,” said Magus. “With you here to help us, and the Gatehouse champion in our ranks, we can take this fight to the next level. We’ll be able to organize, and finally get some things accomplished!”
“Magus, there is no need for this war,” said Pomander. “The Conclave has gone down the wrong path, but they were once a force for good. I’m certain they can be so again.”
“Don’t be foolish, Pomander!” said Magus, angry once again. “This is a war, just as before! We must fight!”
“We must not fight, or we play directly into the hands of the Crowley and his minions! What would it accomplish to win this petty war, if the forces of the Unnamed come in after and destroy us all?”
The events of the next few minutes were chaotic. The main door burst open and a huge man rushed in. The man’s bare chest was covered with scars, and his face was gleeful.
“Magus!” he cried, his voice sounding like rocks grating against each other. “The scouts are back! There’s news!”
Magus rushed to the man. “Armstrong! What news?”
“It’s him!” shouted Wes. “He killed Jack!”
Fred instantly pushed past the others, her normally kind face screwed into a snarl of hatred. The wind began to whip around her, and the glow in her eyes grew to a blinding light. Flashes of electricity sprang from the electronic equipment to her outstretched fingertips, beginning to burn away her street clothes and reveal the garish costume Pomander had insisted she wear beneath. She flung out her hand, lightning flashing from her palm to strike the scarred man. The wind whipped fiercely, and he was flung against the wall. He continued to be wracked by lightning as Fred furiously attacked, a scream of rage torn from her throat.
“Wait!” shouted Magus. “Stop! He’s one of us!” When Fred didn’t react, he threw out his arm, crimson tendrils of light shooting from his palm to wrap around Fred. She cried out in anguish when they touched her bare skin, and smoke rose as her clothes were almost instantly incinerated, but the costume beneath seemed to be proof against the ropes of energy.
“No!” shouted Wes. “You’ll kill her!” Quickly chanting a spell, he cast a shield over his aunt, the blue dome severing the red beams. The shield also blocked Fred’s attacks, and the scarred man fell to the floor with a crash. He was up in an instant, springing toward Fred with a roar. He was stopped by the shield and began raining blows on it furiously. Wes pulled back his arm and cast a fireball at the man.
“You killed Jack!” he screamed. Armstrong dodged the first fireball, but the second attack grazed his leg, and he collapsed with a howl of pain. Suddenly, Wes found himself lifted into the air, his arms pinned at his sides. More ropes of energy, green this time, extended from Magus’ palm to encircle the boy.  Wes felt the magic begin to drain from him.
“Stop this!” shouted Magus. “I won’t let you harm my men!”
“He’s a murderer!” shouted Wes, struggling against his bonds. “He killed Jack!”
“ENOUGH!” thundered a booming voice, and everyone was flung backward by the sheer force of it. All eyes turned to Pomander, who was floating three feet off the floor, his eyes burning. His face had changed as well, all trace of the funny little man vanishing to be replaced by a vision of pure power.
“NO MORE!” The room fell suddenly silent, save for Armstrong’s howls of pain, and Pomander slowly settled to the floor. “We must not fight amongst ourselves!” he said forcefully. “We should not even be fighting against the Conclave! Our battle is not with one another, but with evil! We will sort this out with words, as men, not as beasts!” He strode to where Armstrong still lay writhing and laid a hand on the huge man’s shoulder. Armstrong’s anguished cries faded away. The skin around the terrible burn on his leg began to clear as the wound closed. Within moments, he was healed. Pomander then turned to Fred and Wes.
“His may have been the blow that took Jack, but this man cannot take the entire blame. The system here is at fault. We must prevail, or Jack’s death will have meant nothing, and more innocents will die.” He shook his head angrily. “If this fighting continues, this world will be ripe for conquering by the forces of the Unnamed!”
“What else would you have us do?” snarled Magus. “They take our people, our children, and brainwash them into willing, even happy, slaves! They keep the population under their heel with drugs and fear!”
“Then show them that things can be different!” said Pomander. “Show them what this world can truly become!”
“And what about the ones they’ve already captured? What about the people in the re-education camp who are tortured every day?”
Pomander frowned. “That is an atrocity,” he admitted. “But this… this disregard for innocent life does nothing to help your cause.”
“Magus,” said Armstrong suddenly. “That’s the news! The re-education camp! We have the location!”
Magus’ eyes lit up. “That’s it, then!” he said with a smile. “That’s the break we need!” He turned to Pomander. “If we can tear open this camp, we can free over a hundred metas who have been taken there for brainwashing. That will give us the advantage!”
“The advantage to do what?” asked Pomander. “To attack the Conclave directly? To escalate the war?”
“What else would you have us do?” Magus repeated in frustration. “It is the only way!”
“Why not use the extra numbers as a wedge to force the other side to negotiate?” asked Wes. “You can use the threat of force to get them to the bargaining table. I mean, even with a hundred new troops, you’re just closer to an even match-up. You won’t outnumber them.”
“Maybe not, but we’ll be stronger than we are now.”
“You don’t get it,” said Wes. “When you’re evenly matched, that’s supposed to make both sides more willing to talk. Like a cold war. Mutually assured destruction.”
Pomander turned to Magus. “Wes may have struck upon a course of action,” he said. “You will not win this war with the methods you’ve used thus far. Your best chance is for both sides to come together and reach an agreement.”
“The Conclave will never agree to negotiate,” said Magus. “They’ve had the entire world in their grip for too long.”
“The Conclave was founded on lofty ideals,” said Pomander. “Their purpose was always noble. They’ve simply lost their way.”
Magus pursed his lips thoughtfully. “We haven’t got the resources to bring them to the table,” he said. “We would need something drastic to force them to listen to us.”  He looked at Wes appraisingly.  “The boy is right.  The added numbers might be just enough to tip the scales.”
Pomander bit his lip, thinking the idea through. “All right,” he said. “I can see some merit to this. But if you want our help, your methods must undergo considerable alterations.” He glared at Magus. “Innocent lives, even those supposedly empty lives of the oppressed populace, are sacred. Everything in our power must be done to protect them.”
Magus scowled. “There is always collateral damage in any battle.”
“Not anymore. You people are supposed to be the heroes. You all have great power, and if you use it, it must be for the benefit of the people. We must do all we can to protect them.”
Magus set his jaw and nodded. “We will do what we can.”
“In that case,” said Pomander, his expression returning to that of a mischievous little man once again, “let’s start planning a jailbreak!”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

#SampleSunday The Door to Canellin - A Little Action At The Start

Got a lot to do today, folks, so going to rush the intro here.  This is a scene from the early parts of the book.  It sets the stage for things to come, and helps you get inside Wes' head a little bit to see what he's like as a character.  And there's even a little bit of action in this one! ;)


Wes sat slouched at the lunch table, barely playing with his food as he doodled in his notebook.  He was still trying to shake his fury at Mr. Drummond, and this sketch he was working on was frustrating.  Drawing the sextant from memory was harder than he’d thought it would be.  He couldn’t seem to get the mirrors on the upper arm quite right, and the irritation wasn’t helping his mood.

“Gimme your pizza, putz.”

Wes turned at the sound of Cameron’s voice. The big ox was at the next table over, his two cronies Darren and Jimmy at his side as he snatched the pizza off Doug Boerner’s tray and used his other hand to shove the freshman trombone player aside.  Wes sighed. 

“Hey, come on, Cameron,” said Doug.  “That’s mine!”

“Not anymore,” said Cameron. He gave Doug another rough shove and laughed.  “Fries look good too.” He reached out and snatched a handful of French fries from the tray.  “You got my algebra homework done yet?”

“Yo, Cameron,” said Wes, rising slowly. He’d had more than enough.  He walked deliberately around the table and moved face to face with the bully.  “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?”

“Find me someone, I will,” replied Cameron, and Darren and Jimmy laughed uproariously.

“Seriously, can’t you ever lay off? Leave Doug alone.”

“Why don’t you get lost?” Cameron grabbed Doug by the back of the neck.  “So what if I decide to make Doogie here my slave? What’s it to you?”

“Brass section’s gotta’ stick together.  Besides, I don’t really like you all that much, so whatever I can do to screw with your day, I’m up for it.”

Cameron let go of Doug and poked his finger into Wes’ chest.

“You think you bug me, Bellamy?  You don’t sweat me even a little.”

“Knock it off, Cameron.  You’re gonna’ get us in trouble.”  Wes’ tone was sharp.

The bully grabbed Wes by the shirt and pulled him close. “You’re the only one that’s in trouble, Bellamy.  I’m tired of your crap, and I’m doing something about it.”

Wes jerked free from the larger boy, his contempt plain.  “Yeah, sure, what are you gonna’ do, ugly me to death?”

Cameron’s face clouded, and he pulled Wes close again, his hot breath making Wes wince.

“No, you little turd.  I’m kicking your butt.  Show up or shut up.  Right after school, behind the gym.  You better be there.”  He shoved Wes aside, turning his attention back to Doug.

“Yeah, whatever.  You coming alone, or you bringing your two girlfriends along?”  Wes gestured toward Darren and Jimmy.  He held his forefinger and thumb about half an inch apart, showing Cameron.  “Your cojones are about this big, and it takes all three of you to make one tough guy.”  With every word, Wes could see Cameron getting more and more angry, but he couldn’t stop himself.  “Bad enough it takes three of you to think up a comeback, but now it takes three of you to beat up somebody half your size?”  He waved Cameron away dismissively.  “You aren’t worth the time.”

“Shut up, you little…,” began Cameron as he lunged for Wes.  His voice was raised just a bit too much, though.

“All right, you two, that’s it!”  Mrs. Schultz stormed over angrily.  “Out in the hall, now!”  She took both boys by the arm and walked them into the hallway.

“Now, what exactly is the problem here, gentlemen?”

“He was insulting me, Mrs. Schultz,” said Cameron.  “He turned around and started talking nasty about my mom.”  Cameron smirked as he pointed his finger at Wes.

“Whatever!” said Wes indignantly.  “He was picking on Doug Boerner, and I told him to back off, that was it!”

“Doogie and I were just having a little chat!” protested Cameron with mock sincerity.  “What gives you the right to stick your nose in?”

“What gives you the right to pick on a little kid?” shouted Wes, his finger in Cameron’s face.  “He shouldn’t have to take that crap!”

“Mr. Bellamy, you’re right, no one should have to take threats from anyone, but that doesn’t give you the right to make trouble in my lunch room!  If someone is bothering you, you’re supposed to come to me.”

“Oh, sure, that’s gonna’ work great.”  Wes’ voice still held the disdain it had when insulting Cameron.  He couldn’t seem to help it.  He liked Mrs. Schultz, but she was blaming it all on him!

“Cameron, I’ve had enough of your bullying.  You have detention today and tomorrow for threats and intimidation.”  She rounded on Wes as he chuckled.  “Wes, you can’t behave like this, and you know it.  We’ve had this conversation too many times.  You get a detention this afternoon.  I’ll be having a word with your parents, both of you.”  Mrs. Schultz looked at them sternly, but the boys seemed cowed.  “For now, I want you in the office.  I’ve had enough of this for the day.  Finish out the lunch period there and then go to your next class.”

“But I didn’t do anything wrong!”  Wes couldn’t believe that she was sending him to the office, and worse, was going to call his father.  Again!

“Not another word, Mr. Bellamy!  To the office, now!  You too, Mr. Jacobs!”

With that she went back into the lunch room and closed the door.

“I can’t believe this crap,” muttered Wes as he started down the hall.  “She’s so stupid!  And you’re worse than she is, Cameron! I can’t believe you got me a detention!”

Suddenly Wes felt a shove from behind and was slammed face first into the wall, bumping his forehead so hard that his head jerked back.  A heavy arm settled on the back of his neck, forcing his face up against the rough bricks.

“Who’s stupid now, you little freak?” a whispered voice said directly in his ear.  “I’m gonna’ beat you so bad you won’t be able to walk for a week.  I’m gonna’ make you hurt.”  He shoved harder against Wes.  “I’m gonna’ make you wish you hadn’t got out of bed today.”

Something inside Wes snapped.  The weight of everything that had happened today, losing the challenge, Mr. Drummond’s lecture, Cameron’s bullying, Mrs. Schultz’s unfair treatment.  It was all too much.  He shoved against Cameron, hard, with strength he didn’t know he possessed.  He flung his head back and felt a satisfying crunch as it made contact with the brute’s nose.  Turning, he felt satisfaction as Cameron staggered.
Wes looked at Cameron, seeing the blood starting to run down from the boy’s suddenly crooked nose, seeing his eyes start to water, and a cold fury came over him.  It didn’t matter in the slightest that Cameron was ten inches taller than Wes, and outweighed him by a hundred pounds.  Wes’ blood boiled as he looked at the bully, and he was gratified to see astonishment growing in the bigger boy’s eyes.  When Wes charged forward, his fists flying, Cameron staggered backward in surprise.  The sheer ferocity of the attack even surprised Wes.  He landed a couple of solid blows, one to Cameron’s jaw, another to his midsection, before Cameron reached out and took him into a bear hug, squeezing the breath out of him.

“What do you two think you’re doing?”  Mr. Jarvis, the gym teacher, ran toward them from the other end of the hall, but the two boys were oblivious.  They both fell to the floor, struggling, each trying to gain advantage over the other.  Mr. Jarvis grabbed Cameron by the shoulder as Mrs. Schultz emerged from the lunch room at a dead run.  She got there just in time to grab Wes and hold him back from trying to get at Cameron, who was straining against Mr. Jarvis’ grip.

“That’s enough!”  Mr. Jarvis bellowed at the two boys.  “Both of you, come with me, now!”  He grabbed both of the boys by the back of the neck and propelled them down the hall and toward the principal’s office.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A personal note

A note outside of writing for today.  I just spent the past three days in Indianapolis.  My older sister had open heart surgery on Monday to repair a birth defect that was only recently diagnosed.  They treated her at Riley's Children's Hospital, because they're the folks that know and understand this condition... apparently, less than 1% of 1% of people with this defect live to adulthood without surgery.

The surgery went well, and the prognosis is good. She is in good spirits and recovering well.  And while I'm not the type to get emotional, or at least not to show it, you can't imagine my relief.  I don't think I've ever been more terrified in my life than I was yesterday while she was in surgery.

So this is my post thanking whatever powers may control this universe.  Thank you for helping my sister get through this.  Thank you for helping my whole family get through it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Price Drop

For a limited time, The Door to Canellin has been dropped to $1.49 to match up with the Smashwords Summer Sale price!  Just thought I'd drop in a mention here.  If anyone's interested in samples of The Door to Canellin (rather than today's Door to Justice sample), you can find them on previous #SampleSunday posts, or for a larger selection, you can get them from the quasi-official, terribly neglected Door to Canellin homepage!

#SampleSunday Door to Justice Opening Sequence, Revised

Continuing with samples of the work in progress, The Door to Justice, I thought I'd give my readers a glance at the opening of Chapter 2!  If you'd like to leave some feedback, I'd love to hear what folks think.  The Door to Justice hasn't seen any work or revisions in, oh, 3 years now... I'm working hard to polish it, and I think my efforts are both worthwhile and needed!  I love this book, and in fact I think in many ways it is superior to Book 1, but I can tell during this process that it hasn't received nearly the amount of loving attention that The Door to Canellin has received over the years.  But it's getting there!

Without further ado... The Door to Justice!

Chapter 2

“Wes! Jack!” Winifred’s calls echoed back to her through the woods. “Where are you two?” She listened for a reply, and when none came, she started walking again. “This isn’t like Jack at all,” she said to Ryan.
“I’m sure they’re fine, Fred” said Ryan, not sounding sure at all. He had also expected the boys back some time ago.  The last time Wes was out in these woods late… He shook his head at the thought.  Well, it wasn’t a simple case of losing track of time.  “It’s the last day of school,” he said, trying to sound certain. “They were probably just out here screwing around and lost track of time.”  He grimaced, his words a contradicting echo to his thoughts.  Somehow he knew it was more than that.  He could feel a pull, somewhere in the back of his mind, and was almost certain he knew where to find the boys.
“If they’re fine, why aren’t they answering?”
“Fred, listen to yourself!”  Ryan couldn’t help but snicker, despite his own misgivings.  “Jack’s going to be eighteen in a month, and Wes is going to be sixteen this fall! It’s not like they’re little kids!”
Fred looked slightly abashed, but still worried.  “Listen, I know you and Wes have your own way of looking at the world, but Jack’s a little more responsible than that,” she said, although her tone wasn’t harsh.  Ryan frowned, and opened his mouth to speak, but Fred saw his expression and went on.  “Not that I’m saying Wes isn’t responsible,” she began, and then trailed off with a grimace.  “Okay, open mouth, insert foot.  You know what I mean, though.  I know you and Wes have worked out your issues lately, but he still pretty much comes and goes on his own.  When Jack says he’s going to be somewhere, he’s there.”
“He just finished his senior year of high school.  Give him a chance to goof off!”
For a moment, Fred seemed to consider Ryan’s suggestion, but then she started off through the woods again, calling for the boys.
Ryan debated telling Fred the whole story right then, but decided against it. Fred might be his big sister, but there was no way she’d believe him. She’d been protective of Ryan when they were growing up, being the closest in age of his three siblings, and Ryan knew that she still thought of him as her baby brother. Of everyone in their tight-knit family, Fred would be the least likely to believe his story. There was no way he could make her understand.
“Listen,” Ryan replied, “why don’t you go on back up to the house? I’ll go find them. I think I know where they might be.”
“Then I’ll come with you,” she said in a determined voice. “They were supposed to be back for dinner over an hour ago. I don’t know about Wes lately, but you know Jack’s not the type to do something like this.”
Fred, listen, it’s no big deal,” said Ryan. “They’re just out here blowing off some steam.” He hoped that was what they were doing. The alternative was unthinkable. If Wes had gotten Jack mixed up in anything, how was Ryan ever going to explain it to Fred?
“Oh, come on,” said Fred, exasperated. “I know they’re just out here blowing off steam. I’m not going to chew Jack out on the last day of school, not on his big day! I’m just worried because Jack’s not usually careless about the time.”
Ryan sighed. “Okay,” he said. “Come on, then. I think I know where they might be.” He led the way through the woods, up and down the slopes, hoping that they’d find Jack and Wes somewhere along the way rather than where he expected them to be. It had been weeks since their encounter with the crazy little house that shouldn’t be there.  But he couldn’t dismiss the strange feeling that they were about to encounter it again.
They crested a familiar rise, and he groaned inwardly when he looked out over the shady hollow below. Fred climbed up behind him and gasped.
“Okay,” she said quietly, staring at the run-down shack in the center of the hollow. “Where did that come from?”
“Long story,” said Ryan.  He thought for a moment about lying to his sister.  But as a father, he knew that wouldn’t be fair.  It was starting to look like a strong possibility that Jack was involved in this now.  Damn Pomander! “To make it short, no, it wasn’t there when we were growing up, yes, it’s weird, and yes, I was afraid we’d find the boys here.”
“But… that house looks like it’s been there for…”
“I know,” interrupted Ryan. “Are you sure you don’t want to go back home and let me go get the kids?”
Fred looked at Ryan, her eyes narrowed. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“Nothing! I…” Ryan stopped, and then sighed heavily.  “A lot, actually,” he said finally. “Come on, it’s a long story. I’m pretty sure the boys are in there, and it’ll be easier to explain once we go in and get them.” He cleared his throat. “But you won’t believe it.”
He started down the slope into the hollow and marched toward the house, Fred trailing behind him spouting questions. Ryan didn’t pause at the rickety stairs, just marched up to the porch. As he reached the top, the door opened by itself, and Fred froze.
“Ryan, what’s going on?” she said, her voice strained.  “You’re scaring me.”
“There’s nothing to be scared of,” he said. I hope, he thought to himself. He walked through the doorway, Fred slowly following.
“Wes! Jack! Are you in here?” Ryan called.
“Ryan! You've arrived!” came a voice from the sitting room beyond, and Fred jumped. Ryan walked into the sitting room to see Pomander rushing about, tossing things into a small suitcase. Ryan was surprised at the little man’s appearance. He wore blue jeans and a dark t-shirt. His long hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and his normally straggly beard was neatly brushed.  His appearance was completely at odds with all that Ryan knew about the little man.
“What’s going on?” asked Ryan, alarmed at the wizard’s behavior. “Are Wes and Jack here?” After a moment, he added, “And why are you dressed like that?”
“Yes,” replied the little man quickly. “That is, no. They were here, but they’re not now. And I’m dressed like this to blend in.”  He looked his clothing with distaste.  “Were I certain what we would find, I would not be so concerned with appearances.  But I fear at this point, a bit of subterfuge is in order.”
Ryan shook his head, failing to make sense of Pomander’s words.  “Where did they go?” Ryan asked, seizing on what was important and afraid he knew the answer already.
“They went through a doorway,” replied Pomander, and he noticed Fred for the first time. “Who is this?” he asked, halting his rapid packing.
“This is my sister, Fred,” said Ryan. “Jack’s mother. Now what’s going on?”
Pomander took a deep breath. “It was supposed to be a safe, quiet trip,” he said miserably. “I was going to show Wes that not every world is like Canellin, that some of them could be very enjoyable.”
“What are you talking about?” said Fred, her confusion and impatience clear. “Ryan, what’s going on? Who is he? Where’s Jack?” She looked around wonderingly. “This house is… I mean, why is… it’s bigger in here than I thought it would be.”
“It’s okay, Fred,” said Ryan soothingly. “It is okay, right?” he said, addressing Pomander.
Pomander turned to Fred. “Madam, I’m certain everything will be fine. Your son… Jack, is it?  I wasn’t formally introduced.”  He took Fred’s hand and looked at her earnestly.  “Madam, your son is not here.  However, if you will allow us, your brother and I wil go and retrieve both the boys. Please, excuse us.” He bowed slightly and gestured toward the door.
Fred looked at the little man, her eyes narrowed and her expression dangerous. “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about,” she said. “What have you done with Jack?”
“There’s little time to explain now,” he said. “Ryan and I must go. Please, return to your home, and do not concern yourself.”
“I’m not leaving here without Jack,” said Fred firmly.
“Madam, I must insist…”
“Enough,” Ryan said gruffly. “She’s Jack’s mother, and she deserves to know what’s going on. Why did Jack go with Wes? And why did Wes go at all? Hasn’t he done enough?”
“I will explain when we arrive,” the little man replied curtly, picking up his suitcase. “Now come along, you and I must be going.”  He bowed again to Fred and took Ryan by the arm, leading him toward the staircase.
“Wait just a minute!” said Fred. “You haven’t told me what’s going on here! You’re not going anywhere without me!”
Pomander stopped and took a deep breath. “You do not understand what you’re asking, madam,” he said. “I’m not certain of what went wrong, and I have no wish to put you in danger.”
“Danger? But it’s all right for my son to be in danger?”  Fred put her hands on her hips, glaring at the little man. “No way. I already told you, I’m not leaving here without my son.”
Pomander sighed and rubbed his eyes with one hand.  “As you wish, madam,” he replied. “I will explain everything when we arrive. Come along.” He turned and mounted the staircase. Ryan looked helplessly at Fred, and then turned to go after the little man. Fred had no option but to follow.
They entered the long hallway and walked a short way down its length before Pomander stopped. He reached out and opened the door, and Fred gasped as it swung outward.
“What… what is that?” she asked, pointing at the swirling mass of nothingness beyond the threshold.
“It is a gateway to another world,” said Pomander. “Your son and Wes passed through it. Unfortunately, it was blocked to me specifically. I’ve delved the spell that was used, and I cannot counter it from this side.”  He placed his hands on the frame of the door.  The doorway seemed to twist in on itself, and then returned to its original appearance. Pomander opened his eyes and nodded in satisfaction. “However, I have certain advantages.  I have tuned myself to the vibrational and magical resonance frequency of the doorway.  I can transport us without need of a doorway.” He turned and motioned for Fred and Ryan to take his hands.  “Be warned… this will not be a smooth journey.”
Fred hesitated, taking a step back from the doorway.
“I’m not so sure about this,” she said. Pomander shrugged by way of reply and took Ryan’s hand.
“Then we will see you on our return, madam.”
“I’m sorry, Fred,” said Ryan. “Believe it or not, I know exactly what you’re going through right now.”
Fred gasped as Ryan and Pomander began to fade from sight.  Without thinking, she grabbed her disappearing brother’s hand, and felt a gut-wrenching dislocation.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A New Take on Giveaways

Okay, I've decided to give away some books once again, but this time I'm going to be doing it a little differently.  The only way to get the freebie is to go to Smashwords and use the freebie coupon code.  I posted the full info on Goodreads, and I've duplicated that post below.  So if you want a freebie, check it out!

Well, here it is again, a giveaway for The Door to Canellin, the debut YA Fantasy novel by E.H. Jones. But this time I'm doing it a little differently! I'm giving away UNLIMITED free ebook copies through Smashwords now through July 16! Smashwords provides formats for Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, PDF, RTF, and just about every digital reading format you can come up with! 

Take a chance, get a free ebook, and see what you think! 

What others are saying about The Door to Canellin: 

" original story, well written and reasonably compelling... I enjoyed the novel and believe others will too." -Piers Anthony, best-selling author of the Xanth series and the Incarnations of Immortality

"...Jones' well-plotted story has wonderful twists and turns to catch and hold a reader's interest... The battles and confrontations are as riveting as they are page-turning..." -ForeWord Clarion Reviews 

Follow this link, and use coupon code US99Z at checkout for your 100% FREE ebook copy of The Door to Canellin! Coupon expires July 16, so get your copy now!

And for those of you who prefer to purchase a paperback, or just want to support indie authors, you can find The Door to Canellin in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon! 

#SampleSunday, and another good review!

It's time for another Sample Sunday, but first, I wanted to share another bit of review news.  The Door to Canellin has garnered a very nice, 5-star review from ForeWord Clarion Reviews, part of ForeWord Magazine.    Unfortunately, from an exposure standpoint, the book was reviewed post-publication, so it will not be printed in the magazine... but it will be posted on the website at in a couple of days, and it will also be forwarded for inclusion in the major wholesalers' publications, like Bowker, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and others, meaning that a 5-star professional review will be right there, visible to bookstores, in the very catalogs where they choose books to purchase... and where The Door to Canellin is already listed for wholesale!  Here's a little of what ForeWord Clarion Reviews had to say about The Door to Canellin:

"...masterful young-adult novel...It’s high adventure, great entertainment, and a highly recommended introduction to the Gatehouse series... a classic clash between good and evil, Jones’ well-plotted story has wonderful twists and turns to catch and hold a reader’s interest... The battles and confrontations are as riveting as they are page-turning..."

Okay, that's enough patting myself on the back... it's time for today's #SampleSunday entry!  And today, for the first time, I'm posting a revised, final version of an excerpt from Book 2, The Door to Justice.  (Please let there be no typos!  LOL)  So for your appreciation, here it is... Gatehouse: The Door to Justice, the prologue!



Beamer panted with exertion as she skidded around the corner into the shadowed alcove. Without pausing, she squeezed herself between a pair of drainage pipes and huddled back into the darkness. The sound of booted feet was loud on the street behind her.
She cringed as the squad rounded the corner, and held her breath as the squad leader divided his men into two groups. The man gestured silently, the light from the single streetlamp reflecting from his visored helmet. And then the men were gone, off in search of the so-called “dangerous runaway”. With a gasp of pure relief, Beamer pushed her way back into the alley and started toward the street.
Breaking curfew was stupid, and she knew it. But what choice did she have? The Conclave had her scans; she was on the grid now. She’d hidden her abilities for as long as she could, but the sixteen year examination couldn’t be avoided. Her only choice now was flight, or being sent off to the Conclave satellite for training. And she’d made the only choice she could, skipping her indoctrination meeting and going to ground.
But a ray of hope had finally come. The message had been very explicit. This was her one and only chance to escape. The rebels wanted her, and despite what most people thought, she knew that the only safety to be had lay with them. And the only chance to fight back. The only chance to get a little bit of payback for her family…
They’d taken her sister two years ago. Her abilities had been minor, they said, but it didn’t matter… metas joined the Conclave. Period. And then, just six months later, the letter came explaining that Dierdre had died in a training accident.
No apologies, no condolences. Just a note, and a reminder that Beamer must submit to her sixteen year examination to determine if she had also inherited a meta ability.
Beamer’s mind raced as she made her way through the back alleys of New Utopia. What kind of idiot would join the Conclave willingly? There were some, of course. People who thought it would be some kind of adventure to become a state-sponsored hero. People who were overjoyed to discover some hidden talent that would get them into the Conclave, get them a better life than all the normals in the world. But they were the blind ones, the ones who didn’t really understand what was going on.
They were the ones who hadn’t heard the rumors…
Beamer halted and pressed herself against the wall. Had she heard a footstep off to her left? Were they narrowing the search, about to corner her? She waited for what seemed an eternity, but the sound didn’t come again. She glanced left and right, getting her bearings. Unless she was mistaken, she was about two blocks from the rendezvous.
She had to be there, and on time, or else the rebels would disappear. She’d never get a second chance. Moving away from the wall, Beamer trotted toward the end of the alley, planning a circuitous route to her meeting.
Jessica Bemen,” said a deep voice from above and behind her, and Beamer whirled in surprise. “You failed to appear for your indoctrination. Stay where you are, and this will go much easier for you.”
Beamer’s gaze rose slowly to the figure hovering above the grimy alley. Her heart beat a stuttering rhythm in her chest as she realized this was no mere Home Guard thug. It wasn’t even a simple Enforcer, bad as that would have been. As recognition dawned, she found herself unable to think, unable to control herself, as she unconsciously backed away from the hovering form. For his own part, the man calmly began to descend to ground level, a stern look on his face, his arms crossed over his chest.
“I… I won’t go,” squeaked Beamer, and was instantly ashamed of her fear. She squared her shoulders, summoning up all her courage. “I don’t want to go!”
“You have no choice, Jessica,” said the man. His uniform fit snugly, the leather padding tight across the chest, the shining silver buttons up one side of the breast sparkling in the dim light. Unlike most of the Conclave, he wore no mask. He didn’t need one. Overlord had no need to hide his true identity. Overlord was his true identity.  He kept his voice soft and level, approaching Beamer slowly. “It’s for the best, you know. You’ll be happier once you have a chance to think about it. And you’ll be useful, Jessica. You’ll be important.” He held out his hand to her.
“It’s Beamer,” she replied, unable to keep her voice from trembling. She cleared her throat, straightening to her full height, and started again. “I don’t know why you came after me yourself, why you’re here and not some Enforcer. But you people killed my sister. You don't get to call me Jessica! I’m Beamer, and I won’t go with you!” With that, Beamer turned and leaped for the light of the nearest streetlamp. As soon as she crossed the threshold, her body seemed to transform, becoming a part of the light itself, and then a brilliant streak shot off toward the east like a laser.
Her escape had taken only seconds. She came to rest, kneeling, and let the glow fade away around her. She hoped that she’d been fast enough, and that she’d been able to get far enough away. She couldn’t suppress a thrill of triumph. She’d escaped from Overlord! He was… he was… well, he was the greatest of the Conclave, the most powerful. He was Overlord!
But even he couldn’t follow her at the speed of light, halfway around the world. There was no way he could! Rising to her feet, she began to run quickly down the street from where she’d landed, trying to judge her surroundings. She wasn’t sure where she was, but she knew it was farther than she’d ever gone before. She had landed between two buildings in a city she didn't recognize. Many of the structures looked very old fashioned and… what was the word her mother used so often? Quaint, that was it. Some of the buildings looked quaint, but there was a strange sense of ultra-modern to others. Her best guess was that she’d left New Utopia far behind. For all she knew, her panicked flight had taken her to another country, maybe even overseas! She glanced at her watch, and realized that her rendezvous was already past. She’d missed it.
It didn’t matter. She’d have to do without the rebels, at least for now. The important thing was not to be found, not to be taken away. The important thing was simply to escape.
And she’d gotten away from Overlord!
Without warning, a hand shot out of the shadows and grabbed her wrist.
“It’s no use, Jessica,” said Overlord, his voice soft, almost kind. “You know you’ve got to come with me. You can’t escape. I’ll always find you. We have to teach you how to use your powers, and how not to. You’re going to be a hero.”
Overlord pulled her closer to him, forcing her to look into his eyes. “Be calm,” he said, forcing his way into her thoughts. “Be calm. Don’t resist.” Beamer’s struggles weakened as his eyes bored into hers. “Sleep, Jessica. When you wake, all that came before this will have been a bad dream, and everything will finally make sense to you.” Beamer’s struggles finally ceased, and her body went limp. Overlord gently lifted her into his arms, stepping out into the open.
“Skywatch,” he said, thumbing the communications toggle in his glove. “One for transport, my current coordinates. Immediate stasis upon arrival.” He laid Beamer’s limp form at his feet, and then stepped away as her body began to glow. With a shimmer, she faded from sight.  “Get her registered in the system  Code name…” He hesitated.  “Code name Beamer.  She picked it, let’s at least give her that much respect.”
“Target retrieved,” said a rasping voice in Overlord’s ear. “Want me to beam you up too?”
“Negative,” Overlord replied. “I want to take a patrol lap before I head back. I haven’t put in enough live appearances lately, and I think it’s best if I’m seen every once in a while. Besides," he said, glancing at his surroundings with a smile, "I haven't been to Europe in ages. I’ll fly up in half an hour or so. For now, just make sure her stasis is secure, and that she’s not exposed to light. I really don’t want to have to catch her again.” And with a quick leap, Overlord sped off through the air, the roar of his passage rattling the windows of Cardiff as he flew.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Piers Anthony reviews The Door to Canellin!!

I've been bursting at the seams to spread this news, but I felt I should hold off until it was officially posted.  And as of today, it's officially posted!

I got a good review from best-selling author Piers Anthony, author of the Xanth series and the Incarnations of Immortality!

First, let me tell you how this came about.  I've been a huge fan of Piers Anthony my entire life.  His books were a big influence on my writing and storytelling style.  When I decided to publish The Door to Canellin, I decided that I wanted to send Piers Anthony a limited edition hardcover copy.  I didn't expect him to read it, but I really wanted to make that gift to him.  To me, just the idea that he would have it on his personal bookshelf meant a lot to me.  So, I e-mailed him asking if he would accept the gift.  He graciously accepted, although he cautioned me that he might not read the book.  I was ecstatic just that he'd have it!

Shortly after I sent the book, I received another e-mail.  Piers had decided that he would read The Door to Canellin after all, and that he'd let me know what he thought of it when he finished.  I was blown away!  I hadn't dared hope he'd actually read it, much less that he would provide feedback!

Well, he provided more than feedback, he provided a full review for his monthly newsletter!

So thank you, Piers Anthony!  You've made this author's day, week, month, and year!  You're a fine author, and your support of the indie publishing community is inspiring!

Here's a little bit of what Piers Anthony had to say about The Door to Canellin:

" original story, well written and reasonably compelling... There are powerful forces gathering to conquer the kingdom, loyal friends, dangerous spies... I enjoyed the novel and believe others will too."

Check out the full review here!

#SampleSunday July 3 The Door to Justice

It's been an entire week without posts!  Sorry about that... life sometimes intrudes.  But here we are, back with another edition of #SampleSunday!  I'm trudging along, revising and re-working The Door to Justice feverishly.  My plan is to have the book completed and released by early-mid August.  But you know me... I can't just release it.  I have to proofread, I have to revise, I have to be satisfied that it's the best book I can make it before I ask anyone to pay money for it!  But I'll tell you, folks... it's going to be fun, surprising, and entertaining, and I hope you enjoy it when it's finally released.

In the meantime, here's a sample of the revising process.  This is the opening of chapter 1 of The Door to Justice.  It still needs a little polish, but it's coming along!  Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Wes wandered the woods behind his grandparents’ house, a stout limb serving as a walking stick. He felt at peace out here, wandering in the silence. He walked without a care in the world, just enjoying the day. It had surprised him how easily he had slipped back into his life. After what he’d been through, the daily monotony of school had been a welcome break.
He still hated homework, of course, but it didn’t seem quite so horrible lately. It had only taken him three days to catch up on all of his late homework assignments, once he’d put his mind to it. What had seemed an impossible task before had turned out to be a minor obstacle, in comparison to… well, in comparison to fighting a dragon.
He’d managed to keep up with the rest of his homework for the semester, too. Mrs. Jensen in particular had been surprised by his report on the sextant, especially when he’d brought his own in for demonstration. What had she called it? ‘An articulate and well-documented explanation on the art of celestial navigation.’ An A+! He still had barely squeaked by with a C+ for the class, but it was a passing grade. Passing grades in all his classes, as a matter of fact. His Dad had been so surprised when he handed him the report card!
Not everything was better, of course. Three months without playing the trumpet had taken its toll. He’d been challenged twice, and dropped down all the way to fourth chair. Somehow, though, that didn’t seem like such a devastating thing. He’d practiced a lot, and was already back to his former skill level, maybe even surpassing it.  He hadn't bothered challenging for position, though.  It just didn't really seem all that important.
Wes looked up to see Jack walking up the slope opposite him.  Wes was amused to see his cousin with a silly grin on his face, lost in his own thoughts.  Jack was kind of a space cadet sometimes, but Wes had to chuckle at the look on his face.  He must be excited about graduation tomorrow.  Jack was eighteen, tall and skinny, but he and Wes still had a lot in common despite their age difference.  Jack was also an athlete, where Wes was most certainly not.  But with Wes spending so much time with his grandparents, and Jack living just down the road, it was only natural they'd hang out. They used to get on each others’ nerves a lot, but that had changed as Wes got older.  Especially these last few weeks.  Wes waved his arm in the air to get the other boy’s attention.
“Hey, Wes,” called Jack, working his way toward him.
“Hey, Jack, what’s up?” Wes stopped and waited patiently for his cousin to struggle up the steep slope.
“Grandma said you were down here. She said to tell you to get your butt back up there for dinner, it'll be ready in an hour.”
“That’s cool. What are we having?”
Jack made a sour face. “Stroganoff. Mom’s cooking.”
Wes smiled. “Sounds tasty. I’ll be up in a little while.”
“You want to go up and play some video games? I got the new Duty Calls map pack last week.”
Wes thought about it for a moment, but shook his head.  “Nah,” he said. “I think I’ll just walk around for a while. It’s nice out today.”
Jack fell in beside him. “Yeah, it is. Where we headed?”
“Nowhere in particular,” Wes replied. Jack seemed to have something on his mind, but Wes figured he’d let the older boy get around to it on his own. They walked along side by side through the dense woods, in silence at first. It wasn’t long, though, before Jack finally spoke.
“You know,” he said, “you’ve changed some lately. You used to be kind of a punk.”
Wes laughed out loud. “Yeah, I suppose I was.”
“See, that’s what I mean,” said Jack. “You’d have thrown a fit if I said something like that a few weeks ago.”
“I guess I’m growing up.”
“About time,” Jack said, chuckling. “Heard you picked your grades up. Mom said you passed all your classes, even made it out of a couple of them with B’s. You haven’t gotten in any trouble lately, and I never hear about you and your dad fighting anymore.”
“Dad and I… things have changed. We have an understanding.” Wes smiled. “Things are good between us now.”
“Well, I’m glad,” Jack looked uncomfortable. “I’m not trying to tick you off or anything, or get in your business, but Mom was kind of worried about you guys. I used to hear her and Dad talking about it a lot.”
“I know. It’s okay. Some stuff happened, and Dad and I worked a lot of things out.”
“That’s good. You know, you’re almost tolerable lately.” Jack gave Wes a grin.
“Thanks,” Wes replied sarcastically, but with a good natured smile, and they continued on for a while without conversation.
As they trudged up a hill, Wes felt a peculiar sensation and came to a halt. There was a pulling in his mind, as if he were being led somewhere.  It was a familiar feeling somehow, and he shivered.
"What's wrong?" asked Jack.
And then it was gone, and Wes shrugged. "Nothing.  Just a chill down my spine."  He glanced around, but the feeling was gone.  "Just déjà vu, I guess."  He began walking again, and Jack again fell in beside him.
Jack looked around with a melodramatic look on his face.  "Maybe it’s the ghost of the woods," he said, his voice trembling for effect, and Wes laughed.
And then they crested the top of the hill, and Jack stopped dead in his tracks.
“Um… where did that come from?” he asked, looking around as if to reassure himself of his location. “That wasn’t there yesterday.”
Wes stood looking down into the hollow below, his expression grim.
“Go home, Jack,” he said.
Jack ignored his cousin, totally engrossed in the view below.
“How did a house get out in the middle of the woods without us knowing?” He looked around for a moment. “Wait… where are we? This doesn’t look right.” He turned and looked back the way they’d come. “There should be another hill here. It leads up to the clearing, and then down to the pond.”
Wes let out a long sigh. “I can’t explain it. You won’t believe me. Just go on up and tell everybody I’ll be a little late for dinner.” Wes considered for a moment. “And tell my dad to come out here. He’ll know what you’re talking about.” He turned and started toward the shack, and Jack quickly reached out to grab his arm.
“You know something,” he said accusingly. “What’s going on? Where are we? Where did that house come from?”
Wes jerked his arm away. “You wouldn’t understand,” he said. “Just go get my Dad. Please, just do it.” He quickly trotted into the hollow and up the rickety steps before Jack could stop him. Jack started to follow, but stopped in shock when the door to the old house opened of its own accord.
“No way,” he said. “You’re not going in there! Are you crazy?” Wes ignored him and disappeared inside the house as the door clicked firmly shut.
The house shuddered slightly as it felt the boy enter.
The other boy remained outside, the one that wasn’t supposed to be there, but he didn’t leave. Only a moment after the chosen boy entered, the second rushed to the porch and began pounding on the door.
This could be a problem. The house’s intellect was limited in its understanding of human interactions, but it knew that the second boy shouldn’t be there. It’s thought processes were far different from anything a normal person could fathom, but its overriding motivation was duty and responsibility, and it had a duty to keep its confines secure. That duty could be circumvented by sentiment, of course, such as the house’s decision to return the memory of the father of the chosen boy. But in this case, there was no doubt. The second boy should not be allowed inside.
The house turned its attention to other matters. While its intelligence and sentience were unfathomable in the conventional sense, its mind was incredibly vast and powerful. It maintained the doorways and kept them free of the influence of the Unnamed. It also controlled, at the Gatekeeper’s direction, when and where the house was accessible in the real world. It had failed in these duties before, but those had been isolated incidents, and they had worked out for the best in the end.
A sense of wrongness suddenly intruded on the house’s introspection. It slid its thoughts along the lines of force that controlled the doorways, moving down the endless hallways, trying to find the irregularity. In just moments, it discovered the source of its unease.
The house reached out to the Gatekeeper in order to alert him to the situation, but something blocked it from connecting with the Gatekeeper’s mind. The Gatekeeper was occupied in conversation with the chosen boy, but that would hardly keep the house from getting his attention. It tried again. The Gatekeeper remained frustratingly oblivious.
What to do? This was different than the last incursion by the forces of the Unnamed. There was no sinister presence, no intrusion into the house itself. But the fact that the Gatekeeper was walled off from the house was disturbing.
Something must be done, or it could be disastrous. Even now, the Gatekeeper was leading the chosen boy up the stairs and into the endless hallway. Time was growing short!
Perhaps… perhaps the second boy. The boy outside, who shouldn’t be there. Perhaps…