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The Sun Child Chronicles—fantasy with one foot in sci-fi territory

Hello readers! Progress on the Sun Child Chronicles continues. I just returned the final round of edits on Ciarrah’s Light (book 3), to the publisher, I have the mockup of a fabulous cover from Catt Ford (which I wish I could share, but can’t), and we’re rolling on to final preparations for an October release. Since I haven’t shared here in a while, I thought I’d stop in and talk about one of my favorite things about the Sun Child Chronicles—its sci-fi roots.

Ethra, main character Lucky’s home world, has little of what we think of as technology. They still use candles for light and fires for heat, and the books are full of swords and horses, talismans and spells. But I’ve mentioned before that the core of my idea for the series came from quantum physics and string theory, which proposes the likelihood of multiple dimensions, possibly with worlds proceeding in parallel fashion on each one. In the series, Ethra and Earth are twinned worlds occupying roughly the same position in space, but with varying time streams and different environments. In book three, a third world, Terrathia, is introduced, and it could not be more different from Ethra. There, science ruled, intelligence valued above all else. That proved to be a problem in the end—for the Terrathians, but also for Earth and Ethra, after the Terrathians got desperate. Here’s one of the book’s short prologues, to give you a hint of the trouble in store for Lucky, his friends, and Ethra in Ciarrah’s Light.

Pahlanus, Ancient Prime of Terrathia, sat uncomfortably in a chair made for Earthborns in the Valley City, California boardroom of an Earth enterprise known as Allied Biotech, Incorporated. The five Earthborns present, though touted as their world’s leaders in what they called “bio-development,” seemed to Pahlanus rather dull-witted. That suited his purposes, but he wondered: if these were Earth’s best minds, how had they ever managed to uncover the secrets of DNA and gene-splitting?

In many ways, though, even the crude Earthborns had advanced their technology beyond the Ethrans. To a refined Terrathian Prime, the people of Ethra seemed farmers to a man, with no more education or insight than what was required for ploughing or woodcraft. Yet Pahlanus knew this to be deceptive. In the sciences, Ethra clearly remained a backwater. Yet it had been Ethrans who’d best learned to manipulate energy with their minds, to channel that energy work into instruments, charms, and talismans for even greater strength. This excellence could be accounted for by the sheer abundance, in Ethra, of the particular energy they employed. They called it magic, but it was life force, and it sustained their world. Perhaps because of their attunement with that deep energy, Ethrans were also the first to find the double-sided, hollow, interdimensional barrier they called Naught. And, astonishingly, they’d been the first among the triplet worlds to understand the permeable nature of that boundary and exploit its weakest sections, using them as portals to other dimensional realities—other worlds.

Pahlanus shifted the pillows stuffed between his narrow Terrathian body and the arms of the chair. They provided not-quite-enough support, and the longer he sat, the more his long spine tended to curve in ways it shouldn’t, and his tall head, with only his own stiff collar to help his undeveloped muscles, seemed very heavy. Yes, he was physically uncomfortable, and alarmingly aware of it. This was another sign of Terrathian decline, which is what had brought him to this meeting.

Life-splitting, or gene-splicing as used in Earth, had been discovered in that backwater world only forty or so years earlier, but in Terrathia time had moved differently, and many generations had passed since the appropriated science had first been used in the laboratories of great Terrathian Primes. Pahlanus himself had made the key connection, adding Ethran life-force magic as a wedge to accomplish true life-splitting. With these tools, all emotional baggage—and unnecessary physicality—had been sequestered away. The Terrathian Primes were perfected, and mining lives provided all the energy needed to keep these superior beings nourished.

After many years of progress, Pahlanus was the foremost example of the end result. He was all mind, his brain capacious, attached physically to a minimal body able to handle objects and move him from place to place. His emotional “Echo,” to use a translation of the Terrathian term, had been bundled into an ethereal, barely visible form loosely bound to him by a cord of energy. For the hundreds of years he’d lived in this state, he’d been able to ignore the presence of the Echo entirely, allowing it to feed silently from the life force he consumed in lieu of material food.
Until now.

Like other Primes, Pahlanus increasingly found himself aware of both physical and emotional discomfort, for the separation from the Echo had weakened. Terrathian life force, even supplemented as it had been by the energies of Ethra and Earth, had become scarce, for in their exuberant pursuit of perfecting themselves, his kind had failed to realize the resource did not infinitely renew itself. As Terrathia died, they’d taken emergency measures and stockpiled life-force energy, enabling them to create a small, temporary, substitute world. It could not be sustained indefinitely, but it must be maintained until the Primes of Terrathia had regained sufficient strength and physicality to colonize elsewhere.
To do that, they would need a vast amount of pure life force.

Pahlanus cleared his long, serpent-slender throat, preparing to speak in the reedy remnant of his voice. He surveyed the five heavy-featured Earthborns present, and then locked his gaze on the glowing eyes of the single Ethran attendee. In a deplorably emotional quest for vengeance and power, this woman had cooperated with an experiment of Terrathian science. That test had succeeded. Though technically dead, the Ethran woman now existed and acted in a kind of quasi-location between Naught and the living worlds.
The Earthborns at last ceased their prattle and looked toward Pahlanus expectantly. He spoke, his words barely loud enough to break the silence.

“Gentlemen, my lady Liliana. We need your children.”

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Filed under Harmony Ink, Lou Hoffmann, Sunchild Chronicles, Uncategorized, YA Fiction

Wraith Queen’s Veil Blog Tour Stops: Links are here!

Hi! This is it! Wraith Queen’s Veil is out October 6th, but the blog tour has already begun! Check out the stops below for some fun posts and ways to win some prizes. I hope to see you along the way. (I’ll post specific links to the posts as soon as they’re available for each stop. Disclaimer, the post title may change if strange inspiration strikes.)

wraithqueensveil_fbbanner_harmony

9/29
MM Good Book Reviews”: “Interview, Excerpt, and Giveaway”

10/5
Harmony Ink Press Microblog

10/6
Queer Sci-Fi: “Humans + Magic=Wonderful Mayhem”

Divine Magazine: An exclusive excerpt!

10/7
My Fiction Nook: “Meanwhile back in California, the shifter…”

Prism Book Alliance: An author interview

10/8
C. Kennedy, Author blogspot: “The Beasts in Lucky’s Worlds: A loving look at the horrible, wonderful, treacherous, loyal, extraordinary non-humanoids in Lou Hoffmann’s The Sun Child Chronicles”

10/10
The Novel Approach “Come along with us to meet Han, the warrior badass”

10/12
Drops of Ink: A different author interview.

10/15
C. Descoteaux Writes: “Mean Authors Build Strong Characters”

10/18
Emotion in Motion: “Character interview: Lucky and Rio (Yes, Virginia, there is a little romance in this fantasy)”

10/19
Rhys Ford: “How to Play the Game of Skies”

10/20
Rainbow Gold Reviews: “Blog Tour Finale: Why Magic? And Win a Signed Paperback Wraith Queen’s Veil!”

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Filed under Blog Tour, GLBTQ fiction, Harmony Ink, Lou Hoffmann, New release, Sunchild Chronicles, Uncategorized, YA Fiction

The Sun Child Chronicles—get ready for book 2! Trailer, recap, and a chance to win book 1 Key of Behliseth

Lou Hoffmann Icon-logo-squareDear Reader,

When you read Wraith Queen’s Veil, you will go with Lucky down a long, winding, treacherous path. It will take you to the Wraith Queen’s veil and through it to reach dangers and glories awaiting beyond. But a fair amount of time has passed since book one was released, so while you’re packing your travelling shoes for that trip, I’ll give you a quick “in-a-nutshell” refresher.

In Key of Behliseth, I introduced you to Lucky on his fifteenth birthday, which had not been a good-luck sort of day. In fact, his luck had been far more bad than good for three years at that point—worse than it sounds, because Lucky couldn’t remember anything before that. Not where his home was, who his parents were, or even his own name. (Okay, to be truthful, he knew his real first name was Luccan, but that was all.)

Key of Behliseth cover

One of the most important things Lucky didn’t remember happened on his twelfth birthday. He’d been banished by a curse from his home world Ethra to Earth. It was the first time he landed in a dark cave—and oh, yes, he did remember that! He’d had nothing to hold onto, nothing in his possession at all but a pocketful of strange things he knew nothing about: coins, a knife, and a key that didn’t look to him like it could possibly work in any lock. No grouchy wizard present on that go-round, but he did have his only stroke of solid luck that same night when he met up with Hank George, an old man who’d been watching that very cave for new arrivals for fifty years. Hank became his family, his teacher, his protector, and his friend, and Lucky lived with him for two years until Hank died suddenly on Lucky’s fourteenth birthday.

Reader, I’m sure you begin to see a recurring motif: Lucky’s Midsummer Day birthdays are not harbingers of cake, candles, and party hats. They seem (to him at least) to be variations on the theme of “oh crap.”

For a year after Hank died, Lucky a led a homeless life in the mid-sized metropolis, Valley City, an isolated (fictional) city in Cirque Valley (also fictional) in central California. He tried getting by panhandling and in less savory ways—the usual ways homeless teens survive on the streets but to say they didn’t work well for him would be an understatement. Eventually he found a niche—doing household chores for Valley City’s petty criminals—and moved himself and his dog Maizie into an abandoned shed located precariously on the edge of the infamous, unpopulated Black Creek Ravine, a gorge running right through the middle of town. Basically, not such a bad setup.

But then, Lucky’s fifteenth birthday rolled around and he was right back to “oh crap.”

Bad dreams, money problems, and a bump on the head were just the beginning. On that day, he met an extremely odd, very old man (Thurlock) who insisted on talking despite Lucky’s best efforts to brush him off (while being polite). The stranger kept popping up around town, and that felt sort of creepy. Creepier still was a very strange, very mean woman (Isa) whom Lucky encountered at the grocery store. And then and there Lucky started doing things he never meant to do—being rude, to say the least, which was unsettling because Lucky always tries to be polite. Really, he didn’t stop at rude, went right on to coldhearted and mean. He would have liked to have left the memory at the store and never looked back, but surprise! Isa is a witch, and Thurlock is a wizard and they fought over Lucky in the pasta aisle.

And then… well, let’s just say stuff kept happening, and one not-so-good thing kept leading to another no better. The next few days Lucky found himself (1) getting that odd and apparently useless little key stolen, (2) crossing the scary threshold into Thurlock’s house, and (3) getting attacked by (a) his own dog, (b) a storm, and (c) a horde of black-cloak-wearing people acting like zombies led by a man (Mordred) so hateful he’s mean to his own twin brother.

On the other hand, Lucky did get to sleep in a very comfy bed in his own room—luxury for a homeless teen like himself—and he had plenty food that was damn good. Also, he repeatedly got rescued by a caring, watchful, warrior type stranger named Han (who could read Lucky’s mind and who is gay like Lucky and gives advice and who works for the wizard), and he did get to feel like a hero himself when he rescued a girl named L’Aria. He got to speak to his mother (Liliana) and his aunt (Rosishan) through an awesome magical device called a M.E.R.L.I.N., and even though he didn’t remember them, it felt right.

Overall, despite the scary—no, horrifying—people and events, in the balance he had started to feel… loved! And the idea of this other-world home, Ethra, had begun to pull on him like a magnet. So, when Thurlock suggested going home to escape all the nastiness, he got ready for the trip.

Unfortunately, he quickly relapsed into “oh crap” syndrome. Han turned out to be his uncle, but as soon as Lucky remembered that (Yes remembered!), Han left him to tend to other duties. And then, the wizard’s way home involved traveling through an awful thing called a Portal of Naught. Bad enough on its own, but Lucky got confused about which way he wanted to go, and consequently got left behind, and then kidnapped by Mordred and held captive in the witch Isa’s enormous, magically hidden, blue-glass-and-steel tower. Lucky found out there he had never before had any true notion of what evil meant. Isa’s evil deserved a capital E. And not only that, but it turned out gods (yes, reader, gods) were involved: one good and all about light and balance named Behl; one unspeakably bad, a living black hole that can never be filled, called Mahl.

Stubbornly insisting magic didn’t exist failed miserably as a safety plan. Not only did Lucky have to admit the world is full of magic, but he’d met people who kept to its darker side, and they meant to do him serious harm. For one thing, they wanted to keep him from going home world. Lucky didn’t know exactly why they wanted him away from there, but it supposedly had to do with the destiny he’d been told about—he was supposed to become the Suth Chiell, which meant Sun Child and involved having the key and wearing a crown. Much worse than that, though, Isa wanted to use him for her own masterplan—to subsume both Earth and Ethra in a lightless nothingness for the sole purpose of feeding Mahl, her chosen divinity.

Lucky had to accept another truth: he had magic of his own. He didn’t know how to use it, and though he was told its the good stuff, full of light and balance, harmony and even love, he didn’t want to learn. He would have preferred just to shed it quietly and leave it laying where someone else could pick it up and do some good with it, if such a thing were possible. He didn’t want to get acquainted with it, much less use it in dire circumstances.

Dire circumstances, reader, truly! Outside Isa’s tower, Han leads an odd assortment of allies eventually including the wizard’s horse, mighty Ethran birds called flame eagles, and a California condor shifter named Henry George, nephew of old man Hank. They wage a battle against Mordred, whose powers have been up-scaled and who leads enthralled Earthborns, huge Ethran beasts called glacier wolves and their handlers—thin, pale, humanoids called Cairnwights. Greatest among the foe and not bowing even to Mordred’s wishes, Sahlamahn, an ice-breathing blue dragon, flies aloft looking for her next meal.

Inside, Lucky faced off with the witch Isa.

Umm… Well, maybe I’d better leave this here. I mean, if you read the book, surely you remember the end. It’s kind of big. If you haven’t read it, I don’t want to spoil it. Comment here to be in the drawing for a free copy of Key of Behliseth, and if you don’t win, watch for special deals coming soon. A good place to keep an eye on things is The Sun Child Chronicles Facebook group.

Sun Child new banner with CF logo

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Wake up, blog! We’ve got a post! Wraith Queen’s Veil is coming this fall from Harmony Ink

Hello! I let the blog sit undisturbed for so long, it fell asleep—at least that’s how it seems. But there are things coming up, particularly, book 2 in the Sun Child Chronicles series will be out this fall. It’s called Wraith Queen’s Veil, and today I’ve got a (not official) blurb for you, and a short excerpt. Also, I started a facebook group (click here) for announcements and various fun (hopefully) things related to the series. I’m officially inviting you, and if you know anyone else who might be interested, they’re invited too!
WQV title graphic

Here’s that blurb:

When Lucky arrives in Ethra, the world of his birth and destiny, he expects a joyful reunion, but the first thing he notices when he reaches the Sisterhold—his home—is something false behind his mother’s smile. In a matter of weeks, the Sisterhold becomes agitated with worries and war plans. People he trusts—like the wizard Thurlock—frequently can’t be found. His mother seems angry, especially with Lucky. Even Han, the warrior uncle he has come to rely on and love above all others, maintains a sullen silence toward him.

When Lucky’s resentment builds to the breaking point, his bad decisions put him and his friends, L’Aria and Zhevi, in unthinkable danger. Han Shieth arrives to help, but he can’t claim invulnerability to the hazards and evils that threaten at every turn. Events launch Lucky, alone, on a quest for he-knows-not what, but every step brings him closer to his identity and full strength. Self-knowledge, trust, and strength lead to smarter choices, but even his best efforts can’t render his world truly safe, now or for the future.

… and the excerpt!

Shoulder to shoulder, Lucky and Zhevi crept out from the cover of the thicket and into a night of inky shadows, starless and with no hint of the moon. The only light seemed to be coming from all the eyes. Glowing eyes—in pairs, of course—studding the rim of the shallow bowl in which they had made their camp.

“I knew this camp was too easy,” Zhevi whispered.

Lucky gulped in response.

“Get your sword.”

“What do I do with it?”

“Anything except hurt yourself, the horses, or me. Just get it!”

“What about arrows?”

“Luccan, it’s too dark and they’re too close. Sword. They’re coming!”

The eyes slowly closed in on them, followed by shadows blacker than the rest of the night. They hadn’t tied their mounts, and now as the predators drew close, the horses began to whinny nervously. Soon at least one of them let out a blood-chilling scream and bolted, scattering some of the creatures on the way out.

“Cats,” Zhevi said. “Damn! They’re dawn cats! Luccan, listen to me. These cats are really, really vicious. Deadly. But they’re called dawn cats because that’s when they kill. They close in on their prey—”

“Like they’re doing to us, right now?”

“—in the hours before dawn, and then just as day breaks, they strike. And it’s almost impossible to survive. Or so I’ve heard. That’s why their other name is death kittens.”

Frightened beyond clear thinking and appalled at the image that nickname conjured, Lucky pushed his hair out of his face, and asked, in a hoarse whisper, “Kittens?”

“Um, yeah. Also thrall-gazers, because if you look at their eyes long enough… well just don’t do it, okay? Oh, and also they’re sometimes called venom cats.”

“Just guessing here, but maybe they bite?”

dawn cat from pixabay cougar-718092_1280

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