Progress report on “Gods” and other things in my life

Dreams of Fire and Gods: DreamsFirst of all, to anyone who has read Dreams and Fire, the first two novels in the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy, the third novel (Gods) is definitely on its way.

I realize it’s been dragging on a bit.  The Evil Day Job was really interfering with my writing—for the past two or three months, things got so insane there that I was coming home every night and finding myself too exhausted to write much—and that’s put me really off schedule.

The good news is that my husband and I made the decision that my writing needed to come first.  So with some trepidation, but his blessing, I’ve quit that job to write full-time.  Gods is, I’m estimating, within about 15,000 words of completion.  I’ll keep people posted, and hopefully make an announcement soon about it being finished!

So, please bear with me.  I think you’ll find it worth the wait.  The story has taken a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and I really love where it’s gone.  In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview!  This scene takes place about a third of the way in, as Master Geilin begins training a new type of mage not seen in Dasak for thousands of years—one skilled in the use of Taaweh magic!

EXCERPT — Gods by James Erich — Chapter Three

The south courtyard had become a hedge maze.  No, worse, Sael reflected.  The maze wasn’t composed merely of yew and cedar hedges, but also had stone walls that hadn’t existed in the courtyard the day before.  Apart from the hedge, and two guards posted by each entrance, the courtyard appeared to be empty.

“What is all this?” his father asked sharply, as they approached.  He didn’t raise his voice, particularly, but it could still be heard clearly in the enclosed space.

Sael thought he heard giggling—the giggling of a woman—coming from somewhere in the maze, followed by what sounded like young men snickering.  The vek looked as if he were about to boil over.

Fortunately, before that could happen, Master Geilin called out from the depths of the maze, “Your Grace!  Forgive me.  I will be with you momentarily.”

At that, the stone wall immediately before them melted into the cobblestones like warm butter, leaving no trace that there had been anything there just a moment before.  Behind it, branches of yew curled to one side, forming a direct path into the center of the maze, where Master Geilin stood with four others—three young men Sael only vaguely recognized and… Tanum.

Geilin bowed formally, his students imitating him.  “Your Grace.  Your Lordship.”

“Master Geilin,” the vek said coolly, “Might I have a word with you in private?”

Geilin walked forward calmly, a stone wall rising up out of the cobblestones behind him to prevent his students from listening in on the conversation. 

“I don’t recall giving my permission for Lady Tanum to be included in your classes,” the vek told him, when he drew near.

Geilin looked perplexed.  “I’m very sorry, Your Grace.  Lady Tanum informed me that she had permission.” 

“She did not.”

“Father,” Sael interrupted.  “Tanum and I spoke of it before Koreh and I went into the mountains.”  He hadn’t exactly agreed to let Tanum train, but he wasn’t opposed to lying in order to help Master Geilin and Tanum save face.

Fortunately, his father didn’t see fit to grill him on the subject.  Though he looked at his son with an expression like someone who’s just bitten into a lemon, he turned to Geilin and asked, “These boys….  Clearly you’ve not chosen your apprentices from among the vönan.”

“I did try, Your Grace,” the wizard replied.  “But it’s a big step for a vönan to deliberately sever himself from the power of the Stronni, even though we’ve been cut off from it for several weeks now.  None are yet willing to take it.  They are all watching me to see if I burst into flame or, worse, become powerless.”

“I suppose we can’t blame them.”

Geilin shook his head and ran a hand over the spot where his tattoo had once been.  He’d mentioned to Sael recently that it didn’t exactly hurt, but he could feel that it was missing.  “No, sir.  But although I’ve found my training as a vönan an aid to learning Taaweh magic, the Taaweh themselves insist it isn’t essential.  All men—and women—have the ability to learn it.”

Sael saw his father’s eye twitch at the obvious reference to Tanum, so he attempted to redirect the conversation.  “Those young men looked familiar,” he said.  “Who are their families?”

“They are stable boys!” his father snapped.

Sael was taken aback by this, but Geilin seemed unperturbed.  “Only Nalekh lives in the stables, Your Grace.  I believe his family resides in Tessam.  Bol and Ahvi are brothers and they live in the servants’ quarters.”

“The servants’ quarters?”  Sael was just as surprised as his father.  Master Geilin was creating a new order of mages… out of servants?

“They were the only volunteers, Your Lordship,” Geilin explained patiently. 

The vek sniffed.  Then with an air of resignation, he asked, “Have they made any progress?”

“Today is their first day.  It will take some time.”

“How much time?”

Geilin merely spread his hands to indicate he had no idea. 

The vek gave him the bored half-smile he normally reserved for servants he’d grown weary of talking to.  “Carry on, then.”

Sael had no doubt that Geilin sensed the disapproval behind that smile, but the old man merely nodded and said, “Thank you, Your Grace.  Your Lordship.”

He bowed formally and left them to return to his students, the stone wall melting away as he approached it.

The vek muttered under his breath, “I confess I’m skeptical about how useful these new ‘mages’ will prove to be,” before heading back toward to the keep.  Sael fell into step behind him.

This courtyard was somewhat smaller than the main courtyard and it was bordered with decorative wading pools in the four corners and bordering the entrance.  When Sael began to walk past one of these, something reflected in the water caught his eye and he slowed to get a better look.

It was Koreh.

Not a ghostly apparition, but a very clear view of Koreh’s face and shoulders against a bright blue sky.  The angle put his face in shadow, but there was enough light reflected up at him—rippling as though he were peering down into a moving river—that there was no mistaking it was him.  His eyes lit up with recognition, as though he could see Sael too.  Their eyes locked for just a brief moment, before something dark seemed to swim between them and the vision disappeared.

Sael staggered and made a grab for something to steady himself.  He was surprised to find his father there, though the man had been ahead of him a moment earlier.  His hand gripped the vek’s strong forearm tightly, as he fought back the wave of grief that threatened to overwhelm him.

“Are you ill?” his father asked.  “How do you summon that blasted Taaweh physician?”  He was reacting with his usual haughtiness, but Sael could hear the note of concern in his voice.

“I’m all right, father,” Sael told him, though he didn’t feel all right.  His heart felt as if it were being wrenched out of his chest.  “Just… a little lightheaded.”

It couldn’t have been Koreh.  It had to have been a trick of the light.

But it was so clear. 

“Have you eaten anything this morning?” the vek asked.  Then without bothering to wait for an answer, he said, “Let’s get you inside.  I’ll have something brought up from the kitchen.”

Status update on “Gods” – Book Three of “Dreams of Fire and Gods” (and an excerpt!)

Dreams of Fire and Gods: DreamsGods is coming along, so for those who didn’t like being left hanging at the end of Fire, I’m expecting to have the final novel finished this month!

It’s been a challenging novel to write, though.  I now have four threads weaving back and forth, following Sael, Koreh, Donegh, and a new character, Gonim.  Making sure they all arrive at the end together and everything from the previous two novels wraps up properly has proven to be difficult.  I’ve had to extend my deadline with Harmony Ink a couple times.  But I think the end result will be worth it!  I’m very excited by all the plot twists and character development and I don’t think readers will be disappointed.

So, for everyone waiting anxiously for Book Three, here’s a little taste of it—an excerpt from the beginning of the novel, in which we meet the new viewpoint character, Gonim.  Keep in mind that this isn’t a final polished draft, but I think it’s reasonably presentable.  It’s a bit PG, but I promise that there isn’t any more explicit sex than in the previous two novels.


Gonim knew he was dying and he welcomed it.  The young acolyte was burned severely over most of his body, after getting caught in one of the firestorms two days ago, and he was in agony.  A carriage had overturned in an intersection and he had rushed to aid the driver and passengers.  But he’d been too late.  A fireball caught them out in the open and only Gonim had survived—barely. 

Father Turs was the only ordained caedan left in the infirmary now, his staff reduced to a few acolytes like Gonim and a couple female nurses.  All the other priests in Worlen had evacuated—those who hadn’t been killed when the temple was incinerated.  The old caedan had done his best for Gonim, covering his burned skin in a healing ointment that relieved some of the pain, and then bandaging him.  But the burns were too severe.  A nurse had given him a potion to help him sleep, but they had little healing potion to spare for someone so far gone.  Now Gonim’s head swam in a haze, the pain still with him, but somehow seeming far away.  Father Turs had prayed over him, but eventually he’d been forced to leave Gonim to suffer in private, while the father attended to others who could be helped.

Gonim was at peace with his life.  He had been devoted to the gods and his duties as an acolyte.  His only regret was that he would die before being ordained.  But no man knew what the Perfect Order held for him.  It was enough to revel in its beauty and accept one’s place in the pattern.

A light appeared to the young man as he contemplated this, drifting into his small room through the window, though it was nearly midnight.  Gonim’s eyes had difficulty focusing, but it seemed to him that a beautiful woman with raven-black hair was walking toward him from somewhere much farther away than the nearby plaster wall.  Her gown was made of rich silks, so sheer that they appeared to reveal much of her body, though cut in such a way as to not reveal as much as it seemed.  Precious gemstones adorned the hem and neckline.  The woman drew close and leaned down to look at him with a gentle smile, while her hand reached out to stroke his hair.  At her touch, all pain left his body.  Had she come to take him into death? Gonim wondered. 

“I am Imen,” the woman said softly, “the queen of the gods.  And you, my young acolyte, have pleased me with your self-sacrifice and devotion to us.”

The youth had no doubt that she was speaking the truth.  Never had he seen a human woman of such surpassing beauty!  Never had he been so overwhelmed by a man or woman’s mere presence!  She could be nothing other than a god.

“I wish to grant you a boon, my faithful warrior,” Imen purred, as she traced a finger along his cheek and down the side of his neck.  The flesh there was blistered and her touch should have been agonizing, yet Gonim felt nothing but pleasure at it.  “First, you must tell me… Are you willing to die for me?”

Gonim could imagine nothing nobler than to sacrifice himself for his goddess.  In a paroxysm of religious fervor, he attempted to speak, but he had breathed in some of the flame and his throat was too scorched to choke out even one word.  Imen seemed to sense this and she bent her face near his.  Then she blew gently into his mouth.  Where her sweet breath touched, his flesh was healed, and as he exhaled, Gonim found himself able to say, “Yes, Your Majesty!”

She smiled, her face seeming illuminated from within, as she straightened.  “Then you shall.  But not today.  There is much to be done.”

Imen stepped away from Gonim’s bedside and a stooped old woman Gonim hadn’t even known was in the room with them came forward.  The crone held a small rolled-up strip of leather, which she laid down on the edge of his bed and unrolled.  Fastened to the inside of the strip by small loops were the tools of a seamstress—shears, needles, rolls of thread, and measuring tape.

While Imen stood silently nearby, the old woman set about her business, humming an unfamiliar tune.  She chose a large needle and threaded it with a thread that shimmered and flickered as if on fire, and then she held it aloft in one hand, while her other slid Gonim’s blanket down to expose his naked chest.  She picked up the shears and with a motion so quick Gonim barely had time to flinch, she stabbed him in the chest with one of the blades and snipped his sternum open.

Gonim felt the cut, yet it was oddly painless.  Though he had difficulty raising his head, he was able to tilt his face so that he could watch as the old seamstress snipped open his chest cavity.  Blood welled up in the wound, but did not gush out or spray as he would have expected it to.  The woman set the sheers down on the mattress and slid her hand into the wound, where Gonim could feel her fingers groping…until a sharp, intense pain made him cry out.  He wondered if Father Turs would hear him screaming and come to investigate.  What would happen then?  Would Imen kill him for intruding?  Gonim bit down on his screams, fearing that possibility, but it was impossible for him not to grunt and whimper in agony.

Then the pain grew more and more severe, until Gonim’s vision began to grow dark and he thought he was going to pass out.  The seamstress withdrew his beating heart from his chest and held it up as if inspecting it. 

“Your Majesty,” she said in a dry, rasping voice.

Imen plucked a large ruby off the neckline of her dress and stepped forward to drop the jewel into Gonim’s open chest cavity.  Instantly, the pain ceased.  Gonim settled back onto the mattress and sighed in relief as a warmth emanated from the ruby and flooded throughout his body.  He almost didn’t notice, when the seamstress snipped the arteries of his heart and cast the organ aside. 

The old woman stitched his chest back together with the needle and fiery thread, but Gonim no longer bothered to watch.  The warmth flooding through his body spread throughout his limbs, easing all pain, energizing his exhausted muscles, and pooling pleasantly in his groin. 

When the seamstress had finished her work and left Gonim’s bedside, taking her tools with her, Imen extended her hand to the youth.  “Come.”

Hesitantly, Gonim raised his head off the pillow.  He felt no pain and, looking down at his chest and stomach, he could see no trace of the severe burns that were killing him just a short time ago.  Indeed, there was also no trace of what had just transpired—no blood, no cut on the skin of his chest, not even a scar.  Gonim sat up and put his bare feet on the stone floor.  Not only were there no traces of his injuries, but he felt stronger and healthier than he’d ever felt before. 

He stood and faced the goddess, who regarded him with a triumphant smile. 

“You are very beautiful,” Imen said, looking him over as she circled around him.

Gonim had been wearing nothing at all under the blankets, his kilt having been burned beyond saving, and he had stiffened a bit when the warmth flooded his groin.  This embarrassed him, but the goddess did not seem concerned about it. 

“The magics of Harleh Valley cannot prevent me from entering, if I choose,” Imen continued in a voice as smooth as warm honey, “but there are times when a subtle approach is best.”

She stopped in front of Gonim and placed her hand lightly upon his breast.  It felt hot against the young man’s skin and caused him to become even more aroused.  “This body is now my vessel and I will safeguard it.  Go to Harleh!  Be my eyes and ears, where others are now useless.”

Gonim was beyond being confused by what was happening to him.  He didn’t know whether to be elated or terrified by the goddess’s charge.  “Y-Your Majesty,” he stammered, “what shall I do in Harleh?”

Her laugh was the first unpleasant sound to come from her mouth since appearing to Gonim.  “That, my warrior, will depend upon what you find there.”

Amazon frustrations

Dreams of Fire and Gods - FireSo right after my novel Dreams of Fire and Gods: Fire was released, last Friday, a problem cropped up in the Amazon listing.

Apparently, Amazon was confused by the fact that both Dreams and Fire were called Dreams of Fire and Gods.  Understandable, and I think the confusion stemmed from the way Dreams was first listed.  It was simply called Dreams of Fire and Gods, without mentioning the actual title, Dreams.

What ended up happening was that the new novel (Fire) replaced the first (Dreams), except that they kept the blurb for Dreams and replaced the cover with the cover for Fire.  They also moved the reviews for Dreams (or perhaps just kept them in place), so that they now looked like reviews of Fire.

My publisher stepped in and tried to sort it out and things seemed to improve… but not really.  Currently, it looks like you can buy Dreams for Kindle and Fire as a paperback, but they’re both connected, so they might still be the same book.

I’ve talked to my publisher again and they’ve talked to Amazon and we’re hoping the listings will be straightened out over the next 72 hours.  I certainly hope so.  I dread someone getting angry because they purchased the sequel to Dreams and ended up with the same book!

So please, if this happens to anybody, get in touch with me!  I promise we’ll get it straightened out!

“Fire” coming soon and some reviews of “Seidman” and “Dreams”!

Dreams of Fire and Gods - FireI received the final release versions of Dreams of Fire and Gods: Fire yesterday.  I think it came out great and I’m very excited to have it hit the shelves next Friday, March 1st!  I also can’t wait to get a paperback copy of it to hold and caress and put on my bookshelves next to Dreams and Seidman.

Speaking of Dreams and Seidman, I was also notified of two new reviews—one for each of them.

Rya at Hearts on Fire Reviews gave Seidman 4.5 stars, saying that “The stages of Kol and Thorbrand’s friendship are beautifully presented. I enjoyed their together-scenes a lot. There is so much innocence in their actions and the transition between hugs and kisses was cute, if I may say so.”

Dreams likewise received a 4.5 star rating from CrossroadReview on NightOwlReviews, saying “And let me tell you it is good! He build such a great fantasy world that you just couldn’t stop reading it! I just can’t get over how good this book was! I’m looking forward to more from this author.”

Free giveaway of “Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams” on Boys On The Brink Blog!

Dreams of Fire and Gods: DreamsThe Boys On The Brink Blog is hosting a free giveaway of Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams this week, so hop on over there and put your name in the hat for a free copy!

You can read an excerpt of the novel here.

And for those who missed it, Jamie Deacon’s terrific review of Dreams can be read here!

The Kingdom of Dasak – Food, Drink, Holidays & Culture

Despite the long title, I plan on keeping this blog post fairly short, to make up for the epic post I put up yesterday.  🙂

The challenge for Day Four of Sharon Bayliss‘s worldbuilding bloghop was to describe some aspects of the culture, such as foods, music, and how holidays are celebrated.  I was unable to complete the week of challenges, because my week suddenly got very busy.  But I’d like to post them anyway, for readers of the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy to refer back to.

The culture in Dasak is basically similar to medieval Europe and many of the of foods and drinks are the same: breads, sausages, ham, bacon, ales, etc.  Sael and Koreh share a pork pie in one scene and have kikid eggs for breakfast.  The kikid was described earlier—it’s a brown and white spotted game bird.

One common drink is stosum, which is an ale spiced with herbs that are are steeped in it after the majority of fermentation has completed.  It is a very popular drink and each tondekan (a city-keep and it’s surrounding lands) has their own characteristic flavors.

The people of Dasak are fond of ballads and one of the popular ones making its way around the kingdom at the time of the story is called The Farmer of Dussikh.  It’s described in book three:

Tanum sang a beautiful, tragic ballad that had been popular in the royal court about a year ago—one about a simple farmer who loved a nobleman.  Every day, the nobleman’s carriage passed by the farm, on its way between the man’s estate and the city, and the farmer saw the handsome face of the nobleman in the carriage window.  The farmer tried everything to get the attention of the nobleman, standing by the side of the road or riding alongside the carriage for a short distance on horseback.  But the nobleman was always preoccupied with his day’s business affairs and never looked up to see him.  Then one day, bandits attacked the nobleman’s carriage and killed his guards.  They dragged him into the road and were about to slash his throat and steal all of his gold and jewels, when the farmer charged out of the forest brandishing nothing more than a hunting knife.  He fought valiantly for the man he loved, killing all of the bandits, but he was mortally wounded in the battle.  As he lay dying, the nobleman saw him clearly for the first time and was struck by how handsome he was.  He held the farmer’s head in his lap and bent weeping to give him one tender kiss before he died.

Dancing is of course popular in the kingdom, with the peasants tending toward noisy, energetic group dances, with both men and women dancing together in lines or circles, while the nobles separate the men from the women.  Court dances are also much more staid and “dignified.”  Or, as the peasants like to say, “boring.”

There are a number of other cultural things I could go into, but I’ll just mention one more:  the game of gönd.  This is a popular gambling game with playing pieces of little wooden disks (known as “shields”) and little sticks (“swords”).  Bets are placed and the playing pieces are tossed onto a table or the floor, at which point the score is calculated from the way the swords and shields touch each other.  Someday, perhaps, I’ll write up the rules of the game.  🙂

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New cover art for “Dreams of Fire and Gods: Fire!”

Dreams of Fire and Gods - FireI’ve just received the finalized version of the cover for book two of the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy (called Fire).  I absolutely love it!

Of course, it had already been decided that the artist (Paul Richmond, who also did the cover for Dreams) would try to keep the basic thematic elements of the first novel, but he did a terrific job and I’m very happy.

For Dreams, Paul symbolized the overall theme of a battle between gods of fire/light and gods of darkness (though, I should point out, not exactly “good” and “evil”) by giving us the striking image of a sun and moon merged together.  Since we see the gods of darkness much more in Dreams than we do the gods of light, the color scheme of the cover is still largely blue and dark, with clouds to symbolize the idea of dreaming.

In this novel, the gods of fire make an appearance, so Paul gave us a sense of the sun rising over the barren mountains where these gods dwell.

I can’t wait to see what the final novel cover looks like!

“Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams” has been released today!

My new YA fantasy novel, Dreams of Fire and Gods: Dreams, is now available for Kindle on Amazon!


A thousand years ago, two factions of gods, the Stronni and the Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak by warring for the land and the frightened humans who lived there. Then suddenly the Taaweh vanished and the Stronni declared victory.

Now, as tensions escalate between the emperor and his regent, Vek Worlen, the vek’s son, apprentice mage Sael dönz Menaük, finds himself allied with a homeless vagabond named Koreh. Together they flee the capital city and make their way across a hostile wilderness to the vek’s keep, mere steps ahead of the emperor’s assassins.

But Koreh has dreams—dreams of the ancient Taaweh—and he knows the looming war between the emperor and the vek will be nothing compared to the war that is about to begin. The Taaweh are returning, and the war between the gods may destroy the kingdom once and for all.