Delay

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I don’t have a real blog post today, I’m afraid.  I spent this weekend mostly pounding out the end of Brian’s next story, which still needs a title (I’m bad at titles, what can I say?)  I can at this point say pretty confidently that it’s almost ready to start the slide through editing and so on, and I have it tentatively slated for release in April.

So while I was consumed with writing about half-demons and mafia bosses, I managed to forget about blog posts and, you know, basically everything else.  Well, Jellybeans.  I did take a couple of jellybean breaks.

At any rate, I should have a cover reveal soon for A Spirit’s Kindred and the information on that should be up soon.  Basically, it was a very working weekend that kept me from getting any work done.  I hope you’ll forgive me!  I’ll do better for Thursday.

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Demon-American

So my father is my alpha reader, meaning he’s gotten to see everything I’ve written basically as soon as I type the last period.  The popular advice is not to let your friends or family critique your writing, but my family is full of teachers and they’re basically sitting there itching to whip out their red pens and correct some foolishness.  My dad is pretty thorough in his critiques, and usually helpful, even when I disagree with him, and while he couches things in a fun sort of way (one critique was entirely composed of a conversation between his muse and mine.  They got a bit scrappy at one point…) he is never afraid to pull his punches or add his two cents.

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Recently, his two cents include a discussion of food.  We all know that Michael, being a demon, had to adjust a bit to food here in the Human Realm, but my father took it a step further and supposed that Michael like many immigrants before him, would have brought the flavors of home with him.  If we can have Italian-American food, and Sweedish-American food, and Tex-Mex and so on, why not Demon-American food?

So here.  I present to you some photos of Demon-American cuisine, as best we’ve discovered it thus far.  It’s actually been pretty delicious.  Seems a bit heavy on the meat, but I’m personally not complaining…

I can’t quite describe the spices used, but they’ve been used heavily.  There’s been dried fruit and medieval pastry and various kinds and cuts of meat involved.  If you had to guess what sort of food a migrating demon would want to bring with, what do you think it would be?  I’m pretty sure that they didn’t eat just meat…

In a Strange Land

In my marketing zeal this past week, I went to look over the reviews of all my books (have you read them?  Did you leave a review?  Would you please?)  and I noticed that Wendy identified Michael as an expat.

nobarcodeI suppose he is, in a manner of speaking, though I didn’t set out to write him like that.  He does have many of the same problems, however.  My husband is currently living in Tokyo and we have a large number of friends, acquaintances, and family that are people living in countries that are not their native land.

I asked him to do a quick and very informal of some of his friends to see what the hardest things were for them when they moved to Tokyo.  They were a mix of the very practical— finding a place to live.  Getting a phone, internet, and banking set up— and the social— missing a favorite food, or even a simply familiar one.  Missing familiar places and feeling lonely for friends and family.  Homesickness.  But on the whole, I got the sense that they were all willing to adapt and whether the few difficulties and aches that come with being an expat.

Michael has a slightly different problem, of course.  He’s probably closer to a refugee than an expatriate.  It was not his first choice, or even his only choice really, to leave his home and come to live in a different dimension altogether.  He was driven out by his brother’s ambitions and the culture of violence and ambition that the demon realm is built upon.

Still, many of his troubles are similar.  When he first arrives he must overcome the language barrier (and figure out a good disguise.  Not a lot of humans with brick-red skin.)  He must find a place to live and overcome his own anger.  Fortunately for Michael,14949202534_bacd339174_b his curiosity is what made him so odd back home, and it stands him in good stead here amongst humans as well.  He quickly decides to learn all he can about the new culture he must live in, and he dives right in.  He does enjoy his sushi, but he probably remembers the foods he ate growing up with a touch of nostalgia.  (This is how my dad and I ended up making ‘demonic meat muffins’ the other day…)

I hope that when I finally join my husband in Tokyo I can be much like Michael: adaptable, curious, interested in understanding the people around me and the culture they view as ‘just life.’  What about you?  Are you an expat?  What was the hardest thing for you?

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Saved?

Welp!  I told you to watch this space.  A Demon Saved is up for pre-order (or purchase, depending on when you read this…) thanks to the vagaries of book releases, and the level of my skills before the coffee has seeped into my brain, the paperback will be available slightly before the e-book.  Either way, my friends, you too can own a spanking new book in mere days!

The other book, Personal Demons, won’t be available for another few weeks, but I consider these two to be joined at the hip almost.  They share events, and have some overlap, though they focus on entirely new characters.

So!  To get you all excited, here’s one final excerpt from A Demon Saved for you to enjoy.  Poor Michael gets into a terrible mess in this book.

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The cave was dry, at least, and had been carved out into a series of rooms and passages at some point.  It smelled of dirt and rock and sawdust and something Michael couldn’t quite identify.  Something sweet.  He followed the main passage further into the hillside, descending into the earth.  He noted the kitchen, the smell of cave giving way to the smell of cooking and spices.  He found a storage room full of musty crates that might be left over from the mining operation, and a room full of equipment and clothing, but no weapons.  There must be an armory somewhere nearby.

He stumbled as he was leaving the dressing room, and put his hand out to the wall to catch himself.  Caution, he reminded himself, he needed to be careful here, not clumsily tripping over a loose rock or whatever it had been.  He would rather confront Milquert himself and leave the human forces to the police, and he couldn’t avoid the lackeys if he alerted them to his intrusion through carelessness.

Further in, now.  He found a small library, more like a cell for study, and a room with beds and trunks.  Clearly the barracks for the guards he’d attended to already and a few others.  Michael blinked and frowned.  His vision was significantly better than a human’s, especially in the dark, but the deeper into this fortress he got, the harder he had to work to see clearly.  A fog was rising up to obscure things.  He took a deep breath, trying to ignore the foul, sweet smell that felt almost thick in his throat.  It was getting stronger the deeper into the underground lair he got.  Perhaps there was a garbage dump near the back of the tunnels?

Michael rubbed his eyes hoping to clear them a bit, and stretched out with his other senses again.  It wasn’t just his eyes, his mind felt foggy.  That faintly sweet undertone that had followed him through his whole journey underground now clogged his nose and choked the breath in his lungs.  His throat felt like it was closing off his air.  His head snapped up, the realization hitting him like a club.  He’d long ago read about the incense that could take out armies, but had never thought it was more than a story.  Something based on some sort of dust or gas weapon that could be fired into attacking forces, but clearly he’d misjudged the truth of those ancient reports.  He had to get outside, to clear air.

He stumbled back the way he had come, being exaggeratedly careful and feeling like a drunk.  He had to keep his hand on the wall now, for balance, and still he had to concentrate on staying on his feet.  He shook his head trying to clear the heavy blanket of drugging smoke from his consciousness, but only succeeded in making himself dizzy.  Another stumble had him landing on his knees, his hand sliding across the stone of the wall and skidding onto the floor.

He knelt there, struggling for breath before trying to stand again, but his legs wouldn’t move the way he needed them to, wouldn’t support his weight.  He realized that in his struggle he had ended up sprawled in the dirt of the tunnel floor, immobile and helpless.  For the second time in as many weeks, Michael felt fear spike through his chest, then a moment later he felt nothing.

Personal Demons, available on Amazon

Introductions

 

I’ve mentioned Brian a few times now.  He makes a rather splashy entrance, I have to say, even if it does seem like Riverton could stand a bit less excitement. I hope you enjoy this wee snippet from Personal Demons, which will be available for preorder in October, along with A Demon Saved.  

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“Trucks, Owen!”  Laura reminded him and he obediently flopped back to the ground to pick up his toys.  There was some shouting down the path now.  Something was apparently going on past the trees at the soccer field, but she couldn’t see.  Something in the tone of the shouts made her nervous— they didn’t sound anything like what she was used to hearing in a park. It sounded more like there was a fight going on.  She started to turn back to her son who was grabbing the last truck and getting to his feet to dash towards her when she saw the man come pelting around the trees that hid the large grassy picnic area.  He was swinging his arm wildly at everyone in front of him, something glinting in his hand.   An older, Asian man was chasing him with a look of determined fury on his face.  Everything slowed.

Laura dropped her bag and bolted towards where Owen was starting to cross the path, but even as she left her seat she knew she wasn’t fast enough.  The soft dirt and round pebbles of the path slicked the ground under her sneaker, refusing to give her the traction she needed to move faster.  The madman with the knife was carried forward by momentum and not even her panic could overcome that.  His boots drummed up the path and he swiped his knife in a wide, silver arc and with his other hand he shoved her hard and she went spinning away in a swirling cloud of dust, barely missing the end of the bench.  Just before she hit the ground, she saw him slash out at a wide-eyed Owen.  Even as she rolled with the impact she was scrabbling to her feet and turning to reach the bloody, lifeless body of her son.

What she saw instead was indeed somewhat bloody, but it was neither lifeless nor was it Owen.  A man lay there a few feet off the path with his body wrapped protectively around the four year old, one arm cushioning the small head and the other firmly wrapped around his legs.  A line of bright red stretched from the man’s shoulder to nearly his elbow and the sleeve of his t-shirt was sliced clean into two flags that fluttered and collected the dust that drifted across the scene.  Laura dropped to her knees beside the pair, helping the stranger to sit up while he was still carefully holding the stunned child.  When he was sitting up Laura realized that he had landed on a toy bulldozer.

“Oh gods.  Are you okay?”  Laura didn’t even bother to try stopping the tears that streamed down her face.  At the sound of her voice, Owen snapped out of his shock and launched himself at his mother, kicking the stranger right in the stomach.

“Owen, baby.”  Her arms wrapped around him and they both cried together for a moment.  She sat there, rocking him and trying to breathe.

“Are you both okay?”  The man’s voice was rough with pain, but she could tell that he was at least trying to sound friendly.  Laura nodded.

“I can’t even thank you enough.  I don’t know how you moved so fast, but I will be forever grateful. Where did you even come from?”  Laura gave Owen one last squeeze and shifted to carry him her hip one-armed before scrambling over to grab her bag.  She dug through it till she found the first aid kit and hurried back.  He started speaking to Owen when she knelt again by the heroic stranger’s arm.

“You’re sure you’re okay, kiddo?”  Owen scrambled to hide behind Laura, peeking from around her shoulder.  The man just grinned.  “That’s all right.  After all that, I don’t blame you for being shy.”

“I’m Laura Butler and this is Owen,” she introduced herself while she dabbed an antiseptic wipe over his arm.

“Brian Sedge.  Nice to meet you,” he said.  He reached around behind him with his good arm and held the truck out to Owen. “I think this is yours?  It’s pretty cool, but not the softest pillow I’ve ever come across.”

“That’s not a pillow.  It’s a truck,”  Owen said without moving any further from behind the safety of his mother.

“Oh, wow.  Well that explains it then!”  Brian smiled and started to use the toy bulldozer to move some pebbles around in the dirt, making truck noises.  It only took a few moments before Owen shot over to the truck and started supervising the new building site himself.  Laura watched, trying not to start sobbing again.

She glanced around.  People all down the path were reacting to the chase.  The older man who had been doing the chasing was walking back up the path, looking thunderous at having lost his quarry, and talking on the phone.  It sounded like he was calling for an ambulance.  Laura realized that he didn’t even seem winded, which surprised her for a moment.  The way he moved, though, told her that he was a Temple trained warrior of some sort, which explained a great deal.  Sirens started wailing in the distance.  Not trusting herself to be especially stable on her feet, she just kept cleaning Brian’s arm and watching Owen.

“Thank you.”  She swallowed, and wiped her sleeve over her face.  A trio of EMTs jogged around the same curve of the path that the attacker had, and spread out to start checking with the groups of stunned onlookers.  One of the them came over and took her place, peering at Brian’s arm.  It was a long gash, but the knife had apparently been scalpel-sharp and the wound had eerily tidy edges, according to the paramedic looking at it.  Soon it was cleaned up and bandaged neatly, no need for much treatment so long as he kept it clean.  Brian also sported a large bandage over the left side of his face where he’d been scraped up when he hit the ground hard, and a warning to be gentle with what was going to be a gloriously colorful truck-shaped bruise on his side.  Brian just grinned and said he’d take a bruise over broken ribs any day.  The EMT chuckled and told him to hang out till the police had his name and contact information, and moved on down the wake of the lunatic with the knife.

“Hmm.  Contact information.”  Brian frowned slightly.

“What’s wrong?”  Laura asked.

“Well, nothing really.  I have a cell phone number, I suppose.  Just no address to give them at the moment.”  He shrugged.

“Are you moving or something?”  She looked at him, deciding that he was far too composed and tidy— dirt-stained, bloody slashed up t-shirt and bandages aside— to be entirely homeless. He wore jeans and there was a motorcycle jacket on the ground a few feet away where he had dropped it in his lunge to protect Owen, and she saw a delicate Temple charm on a chain peeking out from the collar of his shirt, a strangely feminine contrast to the athletic hero vibe he was giving off.  Then again she was pretty biased about the hero part right now.

“Well, sort of.  I’ve been touring around the east coast on my bike and just got into Riverton early this morning.  Haven’t found a motel or anything yet.  Maybe the cops can suggest one?” he said.  “Sounds like I might be here a bit longer than I thought.”

“You can stay with us.  At least for tonight.  It’s the least I can do,” Laura said.  Gods, what was she thinking, inviting a total stranger into her home like this?  Especially after her history with men.  But some instinct told her that it would be fine, that she could trust him.  Brian had risked his own life for a stranger’s child, after all.  He looked at her, curiosity on his face.

“Are you sure?  I mean, you don’t know me,” he said.  His hesitance was clear in his expression.  He looked suddenly nervous of her.  The man had risked his life to save a stranger and he was shy of her?  “What about Owen’s father, he going to be okay with it?”  Laura scowled.  Kevin would never have risked his life to save anyone, not even his own son.  The contrast just reinforced her certainty.

“Owen doesn’t have a father.  And I am definitely sure,” she said.  “Right Owen?”  The boy grinned up at both of them.

“You can help me build my skyscraper!”  He said.  Well that settled that then.

A taste

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Today is a fancy special treat for you, my dear readers!  I am spending most of today sitting on an airplane somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, so in the hopes that you’re finding more entertainment than I am, probably, I am presenting to you a small taste of A Demon Saved, which is Coming Soon.  If you check in my Facebook page then you know that I’m having a slight crisis in publication schedule, so I won’t be able to confirm when preorders will be open just yet.  I’m hoping that by the time I get back from vacation I’ll have somewhat more solid details for you.  That said…  you may get to taste the other project that is fighting for first dibs before I announce the release schedule.  So either way you win. I ‘m thinking.

I have to admit though, that I am totally in love with this cover, and I had to show it off as soon as possible.  Add to that some phenomenal notes from my award-winning teacher, top-tier fan and beta-reader Wendy, and I couldn’t help myself from posting this here for you to enjoy while I try to survive the last few hours of being trapped in a small space with my extremely energetic 6 year old.  Enjoy!

“I don’t know who you are but I can’t think of one single reason that a non-human would be anything but an enemy to you.  I will not let you touch Michael, so back the fuck off,”  May growled.

“I am a nefil, and a healer.  I merely wish to help.  If you do not allow me to help then the poison will continue to spread, and there will be no saving him.”  The woman stood quietly, waiting for May’s answer.  “As it is I am not completely sure that I can help anyway.  The poison has been working for some time, if I understand correctly.”

May’s eyes shot involuntarily to the blood-soaked bandage and the lines wiggling out from it.

“How do you know about the poison?”  She asked, not quite ready to trust this woman.  Nefil and demons were clear enemies, and that was putting it mildly.  The few hazy stories that survived in the Temple’s archives were extremely clear on that subject at least.  “You can’t really expect me to believe that you just happened to hear about this injured demon in the Human Realm and came hurrying here to help out of pure kindness.  I don’t care what the reputation of your kind is, I am not so gullible to believe that.  Nefil haven’t been seen in this realm for millennia, why would you return now?  And while the stories claim nefil helped humans, they most certainly did not help demons.”

“No.  You are right.”  The woman put her box down on the chair May had leapt from and opened it with a gusty sigh, carefully placing what looked like surgical tools on the rolling metal stand from the corner.  “I was already here, in this very building when I heard; I was telling one of your Elders about why I am in the Human Realm when the news came and I could not stand idle.  This is, unfortunately, more than likely related to my mission.  As a result of that, I feel that I must take some responsibility for the situation and help this man if I can, no matter what realm he is from.  I believe I know the one who created that poison.  I am not the only nefil in this Human Realm at this moment,” the woman closed her eyes for a moment, pausing in her setup.  She looked up at May, her blue eyes filled with regret meeting the human’s wary hazel ones.  May could feel the weight of the guilt this woman carried as it settled over the room.  “Long, long ago there was a war.  It was brutal and violent and laid waste to all three realms as nefil and demon tried to exterminate each other.  My people’s leaders long ago realized that the war we waged was never going to end, our people are far too well matched by the demon forces.  So they decided to teach humans what they could to be able to defend themselves against the demon realm and closed off the most accessible gateways to our own realm.  It sealed us off, mostly, from the conflict and after a few centuries we had all moved on.  Now not even the oldest of our race remembers the Great Wars, it has been relegated to the histories and is held as a reminder of the evils that violence and aggression hold.  My… associate Milquert, however, became obsessed with the histories.  He seemed to think that we had abandoned humanity to be ravaged and fall to demonic forces.  He travelled through a Gate to…” she shook her head slowly.  “I don’t even know what he plans, but to me this looks like his work. I am afraid of what he may unwittingly start.  I came to prevent him from doing something foolish.  Like attacking the Temple.”

May wavered.  If what this woman said was true, the ramifications…  Michael would know better what to do, he was the strategist of their team.  Things like this were far more political than May was comfortable with, but it was like bread to him.  She looked back at him on the bed and her stomach lurched again.  Michael lay on the bed, so still she almost thought it was too late already.  It was only her sense of him through their bond of Guardianship that assured her he still lived.  The woman was right about one thing, anyway.  There was nothing that the human doctors could do.

“Why do you think you can help?  What do you know about healing demons that we don’t?”  May asked.

“Probably nothing,” the woman admitted, turning to frown at the wound.  “I have never seen one of his kind before, nor until just a few days past had I ever seen a human.  But I do know a great deal about what Milquert knows, and how he works.  If I can draw this poison out of the wound, or neutralize it somehow, your friend will have a better chance to fight the effects.  If I can’t, then it will continue seeping through his body and he will die.”  She stood, finished laying out her tools and a few bottles.  “First I must identify what sort of poison he used.  I have a few suspicions, but I must test them.  Just trying antidotes at random could make things worse.”

May looked over the tray, then over at Michael’s pale form, his demon’s face looking even more alien than usual, even with his huge, seemingly bottomless eyes closed.  A sheen of sweat covered him, but when she reached out to take his hand it was ice cold.

“Priestess, he is dying,” the nefil said, her voice gentle and sad.  May’s lip quivered and her vision swam for a moment before she blinked then met the woman’s gaze.  May nodded.

“What do we do?”

Proof

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Guest bunny not pictured.

What better way is there to spend an afternoon than with a hot cup of coffee, a spot in the garden, and a good adventure?

Okay, okay, so I’ve read this one before about a thousand times.  Still, it’s an odd feeling to hold a physical copy of my ebook in my hands.  It’s just a proof copy in this photo, but it’s nevertheless a surreal moment.  Maybe surreal isn’t the right word.  Unreal, maybe?

So there is the first Big Announcement.  There will be physical copies available of A Demon’s Duty available to order in the next day or so depending on the vagaries of updating a listing for those who prefer that lovely pulp-and-glue scent of a paper version, and soon there will be a printed version of A Demon’s Sanction available as well.  I know I’m actually enjoying it myself, which is a pit of a surprise.  The whole experience of a story is different when you have to actually turn the page rather than tap or click the edge of a screen.

Naturally, that’s not all that there is going on behind the pages over here, but it’s more than enough for this week, I think.  Summer vacation approaches faster than I can prepare for it, so expect to hear about some real life adventures as well as some excitement for your favorite demon and his growing circle of friends and allies.

I think that even Michael would have a tough time keeping up with an excited kindergartner on summer vacation… maybe.