Rachel Griffin should be having an amazing freshman year. She has the Princess of Magical Australia and crazy orphan Sigfried the Dragonslayer for friends and a handsome sorcerer boyfriend romancing her with charms magical and otherwise.
But otherworldly forces conspire against those she loves.
While all others can be made to forget the truth, Rachel cannot. When she runs afoul of the hidden force responsible for hiding these terrible secrets, Rachel must face her most desperate hour yet.
This on top of winter fairies, missing friends, Yule gifts, flying practice, and a rampaging ogre…oh, and schoolwork.
Then there is the matter of a certain undeniably attractive older boy…
As part of the team behind the Luminous boxed set of ten Noblebright books for the low price of $2.99, I have the honor to share this delightful interview with author Lea Doue. (You can also check out the full line-up of Luminous author interviews at http://noblebright.org.)
The LUMINOUS project is running a fantastic giveaway. You can win a Lord of the Rings “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” tote bag, a Harry Potter “I Solemnly Swear I’m Up To No Good” journal, and other author stuff. Check out the details at the end of this post.
Without further ado — fantasy author Lea Doué:
What is your favourite kind of character?
I always go back to Lord of the Rings for questions like this. My favorite kind of character would be a mix of Samwise Gamgee and Aragorn. Loyal, brave, courageous, and a sense of humour doesn't hurt.
Do you have plans for a sequel to your novel included in Luminous?
Yes. The Firethorn Crown is the first in a series of fairytale-inspired fantasy stories. The plan is to have twelve in all, one for each of the princesses in book one. Book two, The Midsummer Captives, is currently available, and book three, The Red Dragon Girl, is due out in October 2017.
How would you describe Noblebright to someone who has never heard the term before?
A noblebright story is set in a fantasical world with a main character who either already has a strong moral compass or is headed in that direction. It's not all fluffy clouds and glittery unicorns, but rather light shining in darkness.
What is your least favourite trope, and why?
Insta-love! Ugh. Instant attraction, yes, but not falling in I-can't-live-a-moment-without-you love at first sight. It's less realistic than dragons and mermaids.
How do you like to write? Longhand (shorthand?), typewriter, computer, blood, nail scratches on the walls?
I plot and build characters and their back stories in notebooks. (I love notebooks! My current favorite is gold and glittery). Then I move to the computer to do a detailed outline, which can be anywhere from 60-80 pages of scenes, descriptions, and dialogue. After that, the writing goes fairly quickly.
What is your perfect writing day?
Any day I can sit down in the evening after my two boys are asleep and write. That's just about perfect. Having a cat in my lap is the cherry on top.
What is your favourite re-read book for a rainy afternoon?
Lord of the Rings for a long weekend (including the appendices) or Beauty by Robin McKinley for an afternoon.
Tea or coffee?
Coke! Cherry Coke, if I can get it. I can't handle the caffeine in coffee, and I've never been much of a tea drinker, although I do like iced sweet tea when traveling to Georgia to visit family.
A native of south Georgia, Lea currently lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband, their two boys, a rescue greyhound, and a cat. But, sadly, no dragons. Homeschooling and writing take up most of her time, but she also enjoys directing a small puppet team at her church. The Firethorn Crown, a re-imagining of Grimm's “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” is the first novel in the Firethorn Chronicles, a series inspired by fairy tales and other stories.
Dare to step into lands of myths, magic, and monsters, because there is light to be found in even the darkest of places.
Now, ten fantasy authors have come together to offer this epic boxed set of noblebright fantasy! Don't miss this fantastic opportunity to explore ten unique worlds, fall in love with gallant heroes and heroines, and discover the chinks in the darkness where the light shines through.
What is Noblebright fantasy?
Set apart by a sense of hope, noblebright fantasy includes at least one character who, although flawed, still deliberately pursues goodness. And that goodness has the power to make a difference. In a noblebright story, even villains are not without hope. Their redemption isn’t guaranteed, of course, but it is a possibility.
This boxed set includes:
The Lord of Dreams by C. J. Brightley
When a fairy king grants a human wish, there’s more at stake than dreams.
A Threat of Shadows by JA Andrews
Haunted by his past and surrounded by companions carrying their own dark secrets, Alaric grasps at one last chance to save his dying wife.
Heir of Iron by J.S. Bangs
Family secrets. Forbidden Love. An empire on the brink of collapse.
The Hawk and His Boy by Christopher Bunn
You can run as far as you can, but you can never escape the Dark.
Chronicles of Steele: Raven: The Complete Story by Pauline Creeden
Just when Raven tries to leave the life of a Reaper, she’s pulled right back in.
The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doué
After discovering a secret underground kingdom and a mysterious sorcerer-prince, Princess Lily must free herself and her sisters from a dangerous curse or face a lifetime of darkness.
Wolfskin by W.R. Gingell
Sometimes the little girl in the red hood doesn’t get eaten, and sometimes the wolf isn’t the most frightening thing in the forest…
Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani
A street thief with a dangerous secret, Hitomi finds herself betrayed to the dark mage who killed her father.
Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter
Magic school can be a lot more dangerous—and wondrous—than expected.
The Pygmy Dragon by Marc Secchia
Now, the courage of the smallest will be tested to the utmost. For Pip is the Pygmy Dragon, and this is her tale.
And the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)
This Bible quote had been in my thoughts for a few days, so I was rather surprised to find it in our Lesson Sermon* this week, not once but twice.
First, it appeared in the quote above, which is from Revelations. This quote is from the description of the New Jerusalem, the “City Four Square”: In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Then it appeared in a quote from Science and Health: with Key to the Scriptures: The Bible contains the recipe for all healing. ‘The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Sin and sickness are both healed by the same Principle. The tree is typical of man's divine Principle, which is equal to every emergency, offering full salvation from sin, sickness, and death. Page 406
I have been thinking about why this quote had come to thoughts, and I can think of two immediate issues.
The first is Puerto Rico. The entire country is without power—in addition to the rest of the destruction. I have been trying to picture what that would be like if it happened here, all the things we do that require power. I truly feel that Puerto Rico needs our prayers.
The second is the great divide currently splitting our nation politically. Bridging this divide seems imposible, but to God, all things are possible.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to come upon the leaf that would heal our nation? Praying today for both these damaged nations. Isn’t it wonderful to think that God is equal to every emergency?
* – The Church of Christ, Scientist has a Lesson Sermon that is printed ahead of time for study during the week, and then read on Sunday. On any given Sunday, the same sermon is read at every branch church throughout the world. These lessons are planned months ahead, so when the citations turn out to be appropriate to the immediate circumstances, it is due only to the wisdom of a Higher Power.
Inflicted with amnesia, Yumiko Ume Moth has managed to discover the identity of the lost love she cannot remember. She has also learned the bitter truth of her mother's murder. And the party responsible for the absence of the one and the death of the other is the same: the Supreme Council of Anarchists.
Now Yumiko hopes to rescue the brilliant young man who may or may not be her fiance while seeking vengeance for the Grail Queen, her mother. But her only allies are a scatter-brained fairy and the Last Crusade, which despite its grand name consists of a young knight and his dog. Nevertheless, the Foxmaiden will not turn from her path, though all the dark forces of Tartarus stand in her way.
John C. Wright is one of the living grandmasters of science fiction and the author of THE GOLDEN AGE, AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND, and IRON CHAMBER OF MEMORY, to name just three of his exceptional books. He has been nominated for both the Nebula and Hugo Awards, and his novel SOMEWHITHER won the 2016 Dragon Award for Best Science Fiction Novel at Dragoncon. The first book in the Moth & Cobweb series, SWAN KNIGHT'S SON, was a finalist for the 2017 Dragon Award for Best Young Adult Novel.
What Is Fan Fiction?: How to tell it from the other stuff
Approximately where I was standing, when I described the fortress filling the horizon.
Here at the Wright Household, this article is legendary.
This is in part because I’ve been talking about writing it for at least a year and a half. It is more, however, because of my now-famous speech—in which I laid out for two of our sons the main points I wished to cover in such an essay.
It was December of 2015, and we stood on the ramparts at Bear’s Den in the Blue Ridge Mountains, looking out upon miles of countryside. As we halted atop the rocks, where the Appalachian Trail passes, I spread my arm, gesturing toward the open valley stretching beneath us and exclaimed:
“Imagine an immense black fortress, stretching as far as the eyes can see. The vast bulk rises up over the Blue Ridges, dominating the landscape. It is made of solid basalt, and it stretches for miles and miles. It has smooth sides with no handholds, crisply-cut crenulations along the top, and looming towers, from which a lookout could spot anyone approaching from any direction.
“Now, imagine this fortress represents the personality and qualities of impressive characters, such as Dr. Doom, Spock, Snape, or Batman. Pick your favorite.
“Each ‘stone’ of the fortress wall represents a quality about that character. Each was carefully hand-placed by the creators—writers, artists, actors, etc.—who helped shape the character. Together, these blocks of character developing, backstory, speech patterns, appearance, and actions form, in the mind of the audience, the titanic, solid edifice that make up our favorite characters.
“Now imagine that in all that vast, impenetrable, solidness, there exists only one window. It is a round window, the size of a porthole.
“On one occasion, once, a candle passed by this window.
“This flicker of light, seen through the tiny window, represents the emotions displayed by our character, a brief glimpse of suffering or hope or love in an otherwise impassive character.
“Fan fiction narrows the focus of the camera to that window. Sometimes, maybe, it shows a little bit of the basalt surrounding it. Instead of one flicker of candlelight, it fills the window with flames and fireworks.
“It then relies on the fan to imagine that the fortress is still present, even though the enormous mile-long basalt bulk of the rest of it is never so much as glimpsed.”
This is the only Commandment for which I did not think of a modern behavior which our culture accepts that older cultures did not.
We have many kinds of stealing. I could speak about forfetures or pirating intellectual property, for instance. But, I think most people, in general, understand that those things are wrong. I could not think of anything that I haven't already covered that falls under stealing that we think of as acceptable or good.
So instead, here is the entire text of the article on the Eighth Commandment that I quoted in part earlier.
Next Column will be on the Seventh Commandment, upon which there is plenty to expound.
The Ten Commandments, given by God to the children of Israel through Moses, have for centuries been a basis of human conduct, and to the extent that they have been understood and obeyed, they have uplifted the race. Many people cast them aside as useless and out of date; others see in them a moral code for orderly living; while some believe man to be a mortal sinner who must struggle to live in accord with them. From any of these standpoints there seems to be difficulty in reaching the standard laid down in the commandments.
Yet God, who is divine Love, could not give commands that are incapable of being obeyed. If we find them difficult to obey, we have evidently not understood the divine facts underlying them. When we learn their true, or spiritual, meaning through the study of Christian Science, we see them to be vital, practical laws, indispensable to our everyday living. Moses received the commandments through inspiration, and we cannot understand them except through inspiration. God's statutes are not punitive and restrictive rules that limit our enjoyment. Seen in their true sense, they protect our God-given heritage of perfection and blessedness.
Reasoning from the correct, scientific basis, we see that the man of God's creating cannot break God's law but lives forever as Mind's idea; thus it is divinely natural for him to live in accord with this law. The forbidding "Thou shalt not" becomes "Thou canst not." Mrs. Eddy states, "The real man cannot depart from holiness, nor can God, by whom man is evolved, engender the capacity or freedom to sin." To accept the belief that there is a mind which can break God's laws is tantamount to admitting that God is not omnipotent and supreme. From this spiritual viewpoint, which is the true viewpoint, we realize that God's absolute laws, typified by the commandments, cannot be broken.
These grand truths are of inestimable value to mankind. They deliver us from every phase of evil. As we grasp these truths, we are given the strength and moral courage to overthrow evil suggestions. If in what seems to be a discordant situation we hold steadfastly to these truths, we find light and healing flowing into our consciousness, thereby replacing discord with harmony.
younger daughter was in tears because no one in our family could understand what she was saying. We knew that she had lost something from her pocket—something that was precious to her. I prayed with a desire to help her, something our family needed to do often when communicating with this child. We longed to have her healed of a serious speech difficulty. In my prayers for her, I realized that everyone with challenging speech difficulties could experience freedom. It was comforting to have faith that one's inclusive prayers would bless our child and others.
Ever since she had begun to talk, most of the time we could only guess at what this daughter was saying. As a Christian Scientist, I knew that the beauty and perfection of God were expressed by our child in her true being, the spiritual image of God. This divine fact had to be proved through practice of the spiritual truths that the Bible and Christian Science teach.
As I prayed to help our daughter find what she had lost, I noticed a small book with a cover that portrayed a noted author and her daughter. The child in the portrait is embracing her mother. As I thought of our daughter's words that we could not fathom, the word hugging came to me. I then asked our daughter if she was telling us that she had lost a picture of a little girl hugging her mother. She happily nodded yes. Her tears changed to smiles when she finally received the longed-for answer and the picture.
At bedtime our two daughters prayed the following prayer for children in Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy:
Guard me when I sleep;
Guide my little feet
Up to Thee.
After our younger daughter listened to her sister say the prayer, she could only say in broken English, "I pray the same, God." We knew she longed to speak as well as her sister and the other little children.
I prayed for everyone, my family and the world. Such prayer for mankind has often been for me a gateway to healing, a prayer that one knows is answered because of a silent inner assurance as powerful and as convincing as spoken words.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)
Some years ago, I read an article in one of my church’s periodicals about a woman whose care had been stolen. When praying about this issue, it came to her that the Ten Commandments were not just rules, they were God’s Laws. They were not just to be obeyed, they actually could not—in God’s Kingdom—be violated.
“Yet God, who is divine Love, could not give commands that are incapable of being obeyed. If we find them difficult to obey, we have evidently not understood the divine facts underlying them.
“A student of Christian Science is grateful for the inspiration she has derived from the Ten Commandments. At one time she found that her car, which had been parked in the town center, was missing. She made the usual inquiries of the police. The suggestion was that the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal,"5had been disobeyed. She then found herself declaring, "There is no evil mind to break the commandments." With this truth came peace of mind, a sense of assurance, and a certainty that all was well.
“The next day the student was guided to walk along a nearby street; and there was the missing car. She learned that someone had left it there during the night.”
Some time ago, I started applying this idea to the Ninth Commandment: Thou canst not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
A friend of mine was in a work situation involving a great deal of corruption. Efforts had been made to change things for years, but corruption apparently went all the way to the top.
I prayed along these lines for about a year, even though I had no expectation of change.
Those responsible were arrested and removed.
So, now I am using the same line of thought to pray about the news. In 2015, I saw with my own eyes how corrupt the news was when people and events I am familiar with were reported on entirely falsely.
While this is a work in progress, in the two years since then, much more awareness of the corruption in the news has come to light. I am still praying along these lines…to know that we cannot bear false witness against each other…and if we should try, God will reveal our falseness.
“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.” (Luke 12;2)
Today, a special book bundle comes out. I have the astonishing honor of having my Prospero Lost appear with some of the brightest luminaries of our field.
This is an unprecidented opportunity to own a great deal of quality e-fiction for a very reasonable price.
Some of the brightest luminaries of our field, and my humble self, unite to bring you an unprecedented deal on books.
Here is what Kevin Anderson, author extraordinaire and publisher of Wordfire Press, has to say about the Bump In The Night book bundle:
Books That Go Bump in the Night!
If you’re ready for summer thrills and chills (ones that don’t even require air conditioning), I’m happy to show off the brand new “Bump in the Night Thrillers” storybundle, which just launched today. Sixteen suspenseful, fun, and entertaining reads. http://storybundle.com
You name your own price, get the eBooks via instant download in your preferred format. You support indie authors, and a portion of the proceeds goes directly to charity, to support the worthy cause of the Challenger Learning Centers for Space Science Education.
The bundle books include compelling urban fantasy reads with some of the strangest detectives you’ve ever met, including Dan Shamble Zombie P.I. in my own Unnatural Acts, as well as ghosts, elves, vampires, sorceresses, modern-day dragon slayers, immortal Shakespearean characters, and more in Dean Wesley Smith’s The Deep Sunset, R.R. Virdi’s Grave Beginnings, Patrick Hester’s Into the Fire, Susan Sizemore’s Living Dead Girl, J.A. Pitt’s Night Terrors, L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Prospero Lost, Alex Berg’s Red Hot Steele and Cold Hard Steele.
For thrilling adventures in other times and places, there’s Death Wind by Travis Heermann and Jim Pinto and Lady Sherlock by Brooks Wachtel. For straight suspense with a high-tech or a darker edge, you’ll enjoy the Daredevils Club novel Artifact written by me, F. Paul Wilson, Matthew J. Costello, and Janet Berliner, and The Demon in Business Class by Anthony Dobranski, Whack Job by Mike Baron, and The Devil’s Churn by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. If you like all kinds of fast-paced fiction, there’s the new anthology Pulse Pounders 2: Adrenaline.
The bundle is only available through August 16. Get a huge bundle of reading material, help support indie authors, as well as the Challenger Center.
"Do you like Law & Order? Do you like ogres and elves and swords? Do you like snarky dialogue? Then read this book."
– Amazon Revews
Cold Hard Steele by Alex P. Berg
"An absolutely thrilling and fun noir urban fantasy read."
– Amazon Review
The Demon in Business Class by Anthony Dobranski
"A captivating tale crafted by a true wordsmith. The author Anthony Dobranski exhibits rare talent. This is a wonderful literary achievement as well as an intriguing story."
– Amazon Review
Grave Beginnings by R.R. Virdi
"I believe R.R. Virdi belongs with other Urban Fantasy greats like Jim Butcher. The Grave Report is sure to go far and only pick up more fans with each successful novel. I can't wait to see where R.R. Virdi will take us next."
– A Drop Of Ink Reviews
The Deep Sunset by Dean Wesley Smith
"[The Poker Boy] series is unlike anything else out there. It's quirky and a lot of fun."
– Amazing Stories
The Devil's Churn by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
[Rusch’s horror novels are] horror in the same way that Robert Bloch's Psycho is—horror of the soul.
Lady Sherlock – Circle of the Smiling Dead by Brooks Arthur Wachtel
"A terrific tale of sleuthing in post-Victorian England with Tasha Dorrington, a daring female detective who takes on a mysterious murder of a government official. The characters are fresh and come alive, and the prose evokes sights and sounds from elite clubs to remote islands. Brooks Arthur Wachtel has written many action adventure shows for TV and combines that with fascinating knowledge of the British Empire to craft a rousing story. A real page turner."
– Amazon Review
Unnatural Acts by Kevin J. Anderson
"Kevin Anderson sure knows how to write an "unnatural" adventure. The characters are lovable, in spite of their unnatural existence. And the cases are fun to unravel. Great series, looking forward to reading the next one."
– Amazon Review
Prospero Lost by L. Jagi Lamplighter
"Intelligent and eminently enjoyable, this series opener by a first-time author is a first-rate choice for fans of mythic urban fantasy."
– Publishers Weekly, starred review
Pulse Pounders: Adrenaline by Fiction River
"… fans of the unconventional will be well satisfied."
– Publishers Weekly on Fiction River: Pulse Pounders
Death Wind by Travis Heerman and Jim Pinto
"Death Wind is a story that will keep you up well into the night. Highly recommend this title."
– Amazon Review
Night Terrors by J.A. Pitts
"The heartbreak. The action. The drama. This is just pure awesomeness. The plot kept thickening. I can't wait for the next installment."
– Amazon Review
Whack Job by Mike Baron
"Mike Baron's Whack Job is pretty freaking brilliant."
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)
This is the next instalment in my series of articles investigating how we might view morality differently than it was viewed 150 years ago. To this end, I am examining each of the Ten Commandments to see if our views about what they represent has changed—if we might be accidentally accepting as normal concepts that those who came before us knew to be wrong.
As with Commandment Ten, when I first sat down to consider the Ninth Commandment, I thought: well, that’s pretty obvious. We all know it’s not good to lie about each other, right? I don’t think anything has changed.
Fake news came to mind, as fake news is bearing false witness against our neighbor. But, while we might argue about which news is fake and which is real, I don’t think any of us believes fake news is a good thing.
As I prayed more, however, one thing did come to me—a way in which we regularly bear false witness against each other, and even ourselves, without perhaps realizing it.
A deliberate lie is false witness, but misrepresentation is also false witness. One way of misrepresenting people is to label them.
What is a label?
A label on a can tells us what it in it. A can of corn says: Corn. That is an accurate label, and nothing is missing.
But if labels help us identify things, why should we avoid them?
Well, if you had a can of corn, and you called it Starch, the label would express only part of what the can contained.
A great deal of the labels we put on people today are like Starch or far, far worse than Starch.
They bear false witness against the “Image and likeness of God.”
Currently, there are three such labels: Political, medical, and personality.
The first kind of label is when you cut off conversation with a person who does not agree with you by calling them a name. Common names for this include: racist, homophobe, cuck, islomophobic, Churcian, bigot, etc.
In reality, there may be people whose actual words and behaviors merit such objections. But that is seldom how these words are being used on social media. More often, these labels are used preemptively, not to correct a real error in thinking but to cut off conversation before it can begin.
“I believe X…”
“YOU ARE A [insert favorite derisive label here].”
This extremely common use of labels isn’t helpful. It does not produce less racists, cucks, or bigots. Instead, it is a power play. It is designed to make one’s opponent quail and go on the defensive. It results either in groveling or in rejection and anger.
Calling names in this manner bears false witness against one’s neighbor.
Medical labels are very popular. All sorts of things that used to be merely a quirk or “well, that’s how he is” now have a name and a ism to go with them.
It used to be that when old Uncle Tad was a bit loony because he did X, he may have been odd, but he was an individual. But nowadays, Uncle Tad is an ism. Instead of looking at people and getting to know their personal quirks, we assign a label. He’s autistic. She’s OCD. He’s ADHD.
The problem with these kind of labels? Two things:
1) Labels of these sorts are meant to help identify problems for the sake of helping the person. But, in reality, often they become short cuts for not paying attention.
When we think we know, we stop noticing. We stop seeing. We assume.
So the label tends to have the result of making those who are suffering less visible.
2) In my church, we make a point of trying not to label people. I have read many testimonies in our periodicals that follow this pattern:
A teacher takes over a class. There is a student with label X. The teacher refuses to see the student as X but rather works to see the student as the “image and likeness of God” as defined in Genesis 1. By the end of the year, the student’s behavior had entirely changed. There was no vestiges left of behavior X.
A human being is not autistic or OCD or AHDH.
Those qualities are not what defines them. A human being is not an illness. A human being is the image and likeness of the One Altogether Lovely—who are merely currently suffering from the condition of…pick your label.
If we speak or think otherwise, we are bearing false witness against our neighbor.
The third type of popular labeling is often self-inflicted. These are personality labels. She’s a Capricorn. He’s INTJ.
Grouping people into personality types in order to help produce more harmonious work groups may have legitimate value.
But when we go beyond that we venture into dangerous territory.
We begin to limit our expectations of what we can do and excuse our shortcomings by explaining that we are an X-type personality, so said shortcoming is part of our package, because X-type people do that.
At this point, we have become like the can of corn labeled Starch.
The many glorious aspects of our being, bestowed upon us by our Creator, are being reduced to a few limited ideas.
Buying into personality labels is bearing false witness against ourselves.
Next week: The Ninth Commandment – a spiritual perspective: How I Pray With The Ninth Commandment.