Category Archives: YA Fiction

The Sun Child Chronicles continue in 2018—excerpts here!

Hi friends! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but one of the things I’m set on making happen in 2018 is suiting up and showing up here more often. I’d like to make this blog a little busier in support of YA authors who are unafraid to represent people from across the gender and sexual identity spectrum in their work, and in the process make it interesting and fun for readers. There’s only one of me, and at the present time I just don’t have enough news to keep it fresh all by myself. If you know of an author you’d like to see here, let me know in comments and I’ll see if I can get that done.

The Sun Child Chronicles are continuing! Book 3, Ciarrah’s Light is in editing with the publisher (Harmony Ink) right now, and it will be out in October—still a way off, but not too far. Here’s the blurb, and the graphic here has a snippet to tempt you.

Luccan, future Suth Chiell of the Ethran Sunlands, also known as Lucky, has completed one harrowing quest, but his adventures and hardships are only beginning. There’s little time to recuperate before his mother’s apparition attacks, drowning Lucky in horrible nightmares that drain his life and nearly kill him. Only through the power of his sentient obsidian blade, Ciarrah, can Lucky claw his way out of the shadowy visions and back to consciousness. But further horrors await him when he opens his eyes, and his country needs him more than ever.

Unstoppable wraiths—products of an advanced but dying alien world called Terrathia—are attacking, and swords and arrows cannot stop them. Fortunately Ciarrah’s magical light can, and with his uncle Han, the wizard Thurlock, his winged horse, and a horde of shifters from Earth at his back, Lucky faces them, determined to put an end to his mother’s destructive evil once and for all. But will stopping her end the horrors facing his world?

Meanwhile, the plan for the series has been expanded from five books total to six, and I’m busy writing book 4, Dragon’s Rise. Here’s a brief excerpt from my work-in-progress, just for fun.

Morning came cool and damp by the stream, but the music of the flowing water was sweet, and the day promised to be fine. Thurlock sat upon his bedroll and, listing to one side, flicked a lazy magical hand at the fire to light it. He clearly hadn’t been awake for long.

“Good morning, Thurlock,” Lucky said—very softly because he felt like loud words might shatter something.

Thurlock grunted and rolled onto his knees. He looked as though he was preparing to stand, though it might take some time. Lucky shot up and rushed over to offer him a hand. Thurlock accepted the help, which surprised Lucky once he thought about it.

“Thank you, young man,” Thurlock said. “Some days I do feel like I’m getting older, and this is one of them. I suppose it’s to be expected. I’ve not truly rested for days.”

“Didn’t you sleep last night, sir?”

“With one eye open, Luccan. With one eye open. Give me a few moments to wake up and drink some tea, and we’ll talk about your dreams.”

“My dreams?” How had Thurlock known?

“And some other things. How are the horses?”

Lucky recognized a dismissal when he heard one, so despite his discomfort with the idea that Thurlock had somehow known what had gone on in his head during the night, and despite his anxiety over what “other things” might be on the agenda for conversation, he left the wizard alone and went to tend the horses.

Lucky had always liked horses, though he’d been clumsy with them at first. After his stay with Morrow’s family, he’d gained confidence and come to understand them a lot better, and now he thought they liked him, too. Even the noble Sherah nuzzled him in greeting. He’d rubbed them down pretty good the night before, and they’d had access to fresh grazing and water where they were picketed, so there wasn’t a lot they needed. He looked them over, checked their hooves the way he’d been taught, and then gave them a light brushing to wake them up. He left them happily munching oats and went back to see about his and Thurlock’s breakfast.

He didn’t actually have to, though. He came back to the camp to find his plate keeping warm on one of the rocks lining the firepit, already loaded with bacon, slices of hearty bread, and a roasted apple. He smiled, and then smiled wider when he watched the water in his cup transform to hot cocoa. “Thanks, Thurlock,” he said, but he was wondering how the old man would take it if he asked for mocha from now on. He had recently developed a taste for coffee with his chocolate in the morning.

Lucky was still eating when Thurlock put his plate aside, refreshed his tea, and sat back, settling his gaze on Lucky. Which felt a little creepy and made Lucky wonder if he had a chocolate moustache or something. Of course that wouldn’t be what was on Thurlock’s mind, though. More likely he was about to treat Lucky to a serious wizardly conversation.

“Of course you know I can’t enter your mind like Han can, Luccan, but I set a spell—for your safety of course—to catch your dreams, and this morning it was quivering like a spider’s web when a giant fly lands in it. It’s a marvelous little spell, really, one I worked up when Han was young and his grief for his family was fresh. It catches the worst of the things that enter through our dreams and prevents them from getting deep into the mind.”

Flabbergasted that Thurlock had this remedy at hand and hadn’t used it to save him from his mother’s awful shade, Lucky blurted, “Why didn’t you use it to get me out when my mom had me trapped in the dark?”

“Oh,” Thurlock said. “I wish I could have, but it doesn’t work after the fact. Only if it’s set up ahead of time. But let me tell you more about it. It siphons off some of the more troubling aspects of the dream that are internal, coming from inside a person, and if one examines the web of the spell, they can see hints of the dream’s material. In this case, I saw mists and colors—that lovely electric blue we’ve both come to associate with evil things, and violet. The colors of darkness.”

“But you didn’t wake me?”

“I started to, but I saw your face, and you weren’t afraid, or hurt, or sick—not at all the way you looked during those other dreams. Instead you looked alert, interested, and maybe a little sneaky. Do you remember your dream, this time?”

“Yes,” Lucky said, noticing with surprise that it was true.

“Want to tell me what you saw?”

Lucky told him about his spying in the dream, and then, in conclusion, insisted, “Thurlock, I know the place I saw is a real place. It wasn’t like where my mother took me when she had me… my mind… captive. I don’t know where it is, but it’s part of the real world. This world. They… the enemy, I guess… they’re planning something big—bigger than the battle of Hoenholm. I’m sure of it, and that place I saw is where it’s going to happen.”

Thurlock spent a few minutes torturing his beard and sipping his tea, making a rude noise once when he shifted on his rock, followed by a muttered “oops.” Finally he looked once again at Lucky and said. “Could be just a dream, Luccan.”

Lucky wasn’t fooled. “You don’t believe that.”

“No. But it could be. Do you remember the features of this place you saw? Landmarks and such?”

“I… think so. Maybe.”

“Could you draw a picture of it?”

Lucky laughed out loud. “Thurlock, I can’t draw a stick figure so’s anybody’d recognize it as human.”

“Oh yes, I recall your runes were pretty sloppy. We’ll have to work on that—runes are important. But as to this other, perhaps, would you recognize the place if you saw a picture of it?”

“Um… probably?”

“Are you asking me?”

“Probably, sir.”

“All right then. That could be useful. Saddle up. We’ve got to get moving. Wait, though.” He picked up a pile of metal bits from a rock next to him and held it out to Lucky. “Put this on.”

When Lucky shook it out, he discovered it was a hooded shirt made out of disks of sun metal linked together—leaf mail, he supposed. “I’ll bake,” he said, letting it show that he also thought it was ridiculous. They weren’t being shot at, for the gods’ sakes.

“Would you rather wear full, stiff armor like Gimli the Dwarf?”

“How did you know I read Lord or the Rings?”

“I know you read it twice.”

“Three times.”

“I know lots of things. Answer the question?”

“No.”

“Put it on then.”

“Why?”

“Because I said so.”

This was not the sort of argument Lucky was likely to cave in to, generally speaking. However when the person saying it was an obscenely powerful wizard who was currently causing sparks of irritation to stream from his magical staff…. Well, Lucky put the mail shirt on.

“Can I leave the hood down.”

“Of course you can—for now. I’m not unreasonable.”

That’s it for this time. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope to see you soon.

Click here to go to find the first two books at the Harmony Ink Press store.

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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.)

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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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Key of Behliseth characters: these are a few of their favorite things

Key of Behliseth coverHi everyone! I’m having a little fun with my characters today! Someone asked me for a list of five things my characters could not do without, so I tracked down Lucky, Thurlock, and Han, and asked them to remember where they were and what they needed on the day Lucky turned fifteen. That’s the day Chapter One (Pale Blue, Wicked Cold) of Key of Behliseth begins. They each named a few things, and I figure I know them well enough to add a couple. If your interest is piqued and you’d like to know more about the book, a good place to start is here, at Dreamspinner Press online, which has description (aka blurb) and the first chapter. You can also find the info and purchase links at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Oh! Almost forgot… You may have noticed I started a contest with my first blog post here on Queerly YA, but I haven’t announced a winner. That’s because I want to include anyone who comments on this blog and answers this question: What is one ingredient you can’t do without in a book?. Could be a character thing, a plot thing, beautiful cover, whatever!
Colorful Heart With

Now, here are those lists.
First

Five things Lucky can’t live without:

  • Maizie—his canine best friend.
  • Ramen noodles—he doesn’t have much money, and a boy’s gotta eat!
  • Man With Dog

  • The strange belongings he had in his pockets when he landed in a world called Earth three years earlier—they are the only remnant of a childhood he doesn’t remember.
  • Honest work—he is genetically unable to lie without pain, so petty crime is out of the question.
  • The petty criminals of Valley City—they make up most of the clientele he does chores for to earn enough money for his and Maizie’s necessities.

Next

Five things the wizard Thurlock can’t live without:

  • Sweets—maple bars, candy, lots of jam on his toast. He’s a thousand years old and still has all his teeth, but I’m guessing he’s used magic to keep them.
  • Instant hot chocolate—one of the things he’s found in the world of Earth that he thinks is far more wonderful than magic.
  • Image of zen balance still life, abstract peaceful background, s

  • The M.E.R.L.I.N. device. Sorry, no explanation here, but it’s in the book.
  • Help keeping his blood pressure down—mainly with tea, aspirin, and reminders to “breathe.”
  • His umbrella, which may or may not really be an umbrella.

Last, but not at all least

Five things the gorgeous hunk of a warrior, Han, can’t live without

  • Order and simplicity.
  • His weapons, dragon’s hide shield and sun metal sword, bow and arrows (especially flame arrows, throwing knife, fists and feet.
  • Loyalty and honor.
  • han sword rain from -for wallpaper-

  • His industrial lawnmower, the refrigerator and range, washing machine, and the microwave, which are the only pieces of Earth technology the wizard will let him have.
  • Valley city rapid transit (see above—the wizard won’t let him buy a truck).

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Comment to enter the drawing for an ebook of Key of Behliseth.

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Key of Behliseth releases tomorrow! (And I’ve got a brand new blog)

Key of Behliseth cover
I’m celebrating the beginning of my new blog, and to share the joy, I’m giving away a ebook copy of Key of Behliseth, the first book of the Sunchild Chronicle, which is out September 11th from Harmony Ink Press. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment that has something to do with YA books.

I’ll be doing another giveaway on release day (9/11) when I hi-jack the Harmony Ink Press blog for a release day party. You can find the blog at http://www.harmonyinkpress.com. Come by and chat about books, fantasy fiction, sci-fi, or whatever comes up. I’m looking forward to seeing you. I’ll be there 12:30 to 5:30 Pacific time (3:30 to 8:30 Eastern). Please join me!

Key of Behliseth Blurb

On his way to meet a fate he’d rather avoid, homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door and is caught up in a whirlwind quest and an ancient war. He tries to convince himself that his involvement with sword fights, magic, and interworld travel is a fluke, and that ice-breathing dragons and fire-breathing eagles don’t really exist. But with each passing hour, he remembers more about who he is and where he’s from, and with help, he begins to claim his power.

Lucky might someday rule a nation, but before he can do that, he must remember his true name, accept his destiny, and master his extraordinary abilities. Only then can he help to banish the evil that has invaded earth and find his way home—through a gateway to another world.

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harmony ink

Colorful fashion makeup with rainbow magic color

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