SALE: Where Oblivion Lives (ebook) on sale for $1.99

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If you’ve missed all the announcements everywhere else, here is a quick post and reminder that the first Los Nefilim novel (ebook), Where Oblivion Lives, is currently on sale for $1.99. If you’re looking to get into the series before Carved from Stone and Dream is published in February 2020, here is your chance to do it on the cheap!

For a limited time (August 30, 2019-October 1, 2019), Where Oblivion Lives (ebook) is on sale for $1.99 at all your favorite outlets: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, HarperCollins, and Kobo.

I’d also like to take this chance to thank everyone for the overwhelming response to the newsletter request to share the word about the sale. You guys are simply tremendous!

If you missed the newsletter, I published this one publicly so you may read and share at will.

Please help me keep the momentum going throughout the month. If you happen to see me tweet or talk about the sale and you have a moment, I’d greatly appreciate any RTs or mentions.

Thank you all again!

If this series becomes a success, it’s because of you!

A snippet from A SONG WITH TEETH

All I have for you this week is a snippet from my current work-in-progress, A Song with Teeth, the third Los Nefilim novel. This comes from the first page and may or may not make it through the final edit:

“I will tell you a story,” the Nazi murmurs in his captive’s ear. “About two brothers …”

He pauses and stares outside the window, seemingly lost in the thread of his thoughts. For several minutes, the only noise is the susurrations of snow, whispering across the glass.

From somewhere within the great house, a door is shut, rousing the Nazi from his dream. He shakes his head and smiles a terrible smile full of bitterness and teeth—such long teeth he has …

The captive shivers.

The Nazi’s lips widens and now he grins. “A story about two brothers under night and fog …”

CODENAME: NIGHTINGALE
30 December 1943
Mauthausen Concentration camp

Prologue

They call him the Nightingale. It is his codename and it follows him into the camps.

In the beginning days of the conflict, the Nightingale is a new member of Los Nefilim, not yet tested. His handler is known as the Violinist. They barely had time to know one another before the war came, but when it did, the Violinist gave the Nightingale the most precious of gifts: his trust.

The other members of Los Nefilim call the Violinist a fool for assigning his MACHIAVELLI line in Paris to the Nightingale, but the Violinist is an old nefil of rank—none dare do more than grumble. The Nightingale is entrusted with composing songs, the first notes designed to be the Morse code that will convey messages to the Resistance. As his music is played on German radios, the Nightingale slowly earns Los Nefilim’s respect.

When the MACHIAVELLI line is compromised by outside sources, the Violinist manages to send a message. It comes too late for the Nightingale to evade the Gestapo, but the Violinist’s instructions are clear: Hold out for forty-eight hours, then tell them what they want to know. If they take you to the camps, find the Spaniards. You are one of us. We will watch for you.

And that’s the work-in-progress. I have a lot more and this is heavily edited, but it gives you an idea of how the third book begins. All of this might stay, or it might change drastically in the final edits.

Celebrating THE SECOND DEATH with a giveaway

Yesterday was release day for the final novella in this Los Nefilim cycle, The Second Death: Los Nefilim, Part 3, and I talked a little about the novella over at Supernatural Underground. The Los Nefilim series was also mentioned yesterday on the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog: A New Golden Age of Short SF/F: How Genre’s Earliest Days Are Informing Its Future.

[EDITED TO ADD: The Amazon giveaway is over. All four of the prizes have been claimed! THANK YOU!]

If you haven't had a chance to read either of the first two novellas, I am hosting a giveaway on Amazon (U.S. only ... Amazon's rules, not mine). I'm giving away two copies each of In Midnight's Silence: Los Nefilim, Part 1 and Without Light or Guide: Los Nefilim, Part 2.

All you have to do is click on the link below to be taken to the giveaway:

In Midnight's Silence: Los Nefilim, Part 1 -- Amazon Giveaway

Without Light or Guide: Los Nefilim, Part 2 -- Amazon Giveaway

If you live outside the U.S., then I have FOUR remaining codes for Without Light or Guide: Los Nefilim, Part 2 and FOUR codes for The Second Death: Los Nefilim, Part 3 (sorry, I don't have any codes left for In Midnight's Silence). I'm sure these codes work for Canada and the U.K., because I've had folks use them successfully. If you are in any other country, you are most welcome to enter the contest. Since you download the codes from the HarperCollins U.S. website, you should be able to use it.

[EDITED TO ADD: THIS GIVEAWAY IS LIVE UNTIL APRIL 1, 2016:]

I know! I know! Right now you are asking yourself: HOW DO I WIN ONE OF THESE MYSTERIOUS CODES?

Drop me a comment and tell me your favorite, urban fantasy, historical, or alternative history fantasy. I talked about a few of my favorites over at the Harper Voyager Impulse blog this week. Lots of other folks have chimed in with their favorites in the comments, so if you're looking for ideas, you might find some there.

IN YOUR COMMENT: Specify whether you want the code for Without Light or Guide: Los Nefilim, Part 2, OR The Second Death: Los Nefilim, Part 3, OR both.

That is all that you have to do!

I will choose the winners on Friday, April 1, 2016.

Where I've been and what I've been doing ... 2015

I've been leaving you in the capable hands of some guest posts over the last few weeks, and while it seems like I've been neglecting the home front, I've had a lot going on in the background:

I finished up the third Los Nefilim novella, The Second Death: Los Nefilim, Part 3, and turned it over to my editor.

Reviews:

Without Light or Guide: Los Nefilim, Part 2 is kicking along strong. I've had some interesting reviews, my favorite of which includes a recipe. Deb at Kahakai Kitchen reviewed the novella and gave out an awesome recipe for Espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with chickpeas). I think she liked the novella, too.

No recipe, but at You Can Read Me Anything, Without Light or Guide is called "a great story; so much is packed into its brief page count that you’ll never believe that you read a little over a hundred pages and got an entire tale out of the experience."

Dreams, Etc. says that Without Light or Guide has the "perfect level of creepiness."

Blog Posts:

Over at Fantasy Book Cafe, I talk about Angels, Daimons, and Los Nefilim. I had a load of fun writing this post where I talk about skunks, guardian angels, and my somewhat warped childhood.

Auston Habershaw graciously gave me some space on his blog to talk about why I like my Super Heroes to bleed just a little.

Michael R. Fletcher gave me some space to rant on the attitude: WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' ROMANCE at his blog. The post spawned a super discussion on r/fantasy at Reddit, as well. [Let me pause here and compliment all of the moderators at r/fantasy for working so hard to make r/fantasy such a safe place for discussions like these. Give them a shout-out when you can. They have busted trollish behavior until the r/fantasy forum is an excellent place to hang out online. The romance discussion enlightened me as to how some of the fans think, because everyone stated their position with the utmost respect for one another. I appreciate any forum that exhibits that kind of dialogue. Great job, guys, carry on ...]

So what's next?

I'm working on a synopsis and the first three chapters of a new novel, which feels very Gothic in tone. I am having a great deal of fun with it.

After the holidays, I'll have more blog posts coming live at you. Some of you have specifically requested blog posts--don't let me forget you.

No matter how much I tried to dissuade him with my hearing issues and the technological obstacles we must surmount, Rob Matheny is determined that we will put together a podcast for you. So with a little luck, you might get to hear me swear at you on a future Grim Tidings Podcast. I hope so. I like swearing at you.

Meanwhile, things might get quiet around here for a few days. It's been a very hard year for me. I was on several tight deadlines--all of my own making--and I will pace myself better in the coming year. Essentially in 2015, when I wasn't writing, I was writing. It was a busy year:

I've had two novellas published by Harper Voyager Impulse (In Midnight's Silence was written at the end of 2014), and I wrote two more novellas in one year, promoting them all to the best of my ability.

I joined The Supernatural Underground this year and will post once a month on the 30th of each month. I will be talking more about writing over there rather than my usual ranting, which I will keep right here.

I updated my Bibliography page so that it includes some of my more popular non-fiction posts. I even had a post published at Tor.com this year.

It was a summer of health scares and mad travel, but everything eventually turned out all right. Our lives have finally settled back into our routines, and I am trying to remember how to relax again.

Relaxing is always difficult for me, especially when I've been going full-tilt boogie for a year straight. I have to come down off the work routine slowly and begin to integrate quiet days back into my life. My beautiful daughter helps me by inviting me over to her house for tea.

I have a stack of about fifteen to-read books, and I am looking forward to delving into some of the ones that I have saved for when I have the time to fully enjoy them. I will most likely review a few of them here on my blog when I finish them.

I'll also still be promoting Without Light or Guide and the forthcoming The Second Death. I might even think up a title for the work in progress.

And that is where I have been and what I have been doing. What about you? If you care to, drop a comment and let me know what's been going on with you. I try to keep up on Twitter and Facebook, but I still lose some of you from time to time.

If we haven't touched base lately, let me take this opportunity to wish you all happy holidays and a lovely new year.

[guest post] Childhood Programming (a not terribly sneaky way to look at themes) by Michael R. Fletcher

I'm very happy to bring you the most amazing blog post that you almost didn't see, which is another blog post for another day.

TODAY is what is important, and Michael R. Fletcher is dropping by to entertain you while I hit the deadlines. Michael is a science fiction and fantasy author, whose novel, Beyond Redemption, just blew me away. You can read my review, or just take my word for it and buy his book.

Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn’t an axiom, it’s a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.

Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to become a god. A god they can control.

But there are many who would see this would-be-god in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one can resist. Three reprobates—The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left—have their own nefarious plans for the young god.

As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one more obstacle: time is running out. When one’s delusions become more powerful, they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is: Who will rule there?

According to Michael, the next two Manifest Delusions novels, The Mirror's Truth, and The All Consuming, are currently in various stages of editing while Michael tries to be the best husband and dad he can be.

Beyond Redemption is Michael's second novel. His début novel, 88, is a cyberpunk tale about harvesting children for their brains.

Children, brains, and delusions. I hope you see where this is going ...

CHILDHOOD PROGRAMMING

(a not terribly sneaky way to look at themes)

This will ramble because that's the way I roll. I can't plan breakfast, never mind a blog post or a novel.

I have come to realize that I spend a lot more time thinking about themes than I do plot. I know what my next book's themes are long before I know what horrendous shit happens to the characters. Take Beyond Redemption for example. I had the title before I'd written the first word.

I wanted to write a book where no one learned anything. The novel starts with a host of shitty human beings and at the end of the book I wanted the few survivors to remain shitty. It didn't quite turn out that way, but I stayed true to that vision. This grew out of a suspicion that people are basically too stupid to learn or change. What can I say, I was in a bit of a dark place. If I wrote the book today it would be different. For one thing, I've managed to learn a few things myself—who I am and how I interact with people has changed in the last year.

And if I can change, anyone can.

There was a theme there I wanted to explore, a thorn in my side I wanted to worry at like a starved wombat. Can we escape the bonds of our childhood programming? Can we get beyond who we think we are? You'll see it in Beyond Redemption; virtually every character is haunted by something in their past. They are defined by their choices and actions.

As are we.

My father was brought up by uptight stiff-upper-lip parents in the UK. Religion was pushed on him from a young age. All the proper social mores were programmed into him from birth. He knew who the right kind of people were. He knew what kind of people to avoid. He knew how a proper boy acted. He knew which fork to use when, and how to eat without making a mess. He was told his father was perfect, without flaws of any kind. They tried to make my father perfect too, whatever the fuck perfect is.

They failed. And that's probably for the best.

At some point my father made a conscious decision to toss most of his childhood programming. He screwed around at school and got funky with as many women would let him. He was and is an unrepentant letch of the first degree. He had no interest in pursuing that upper-crust school and instead drove a truck around England's southern coast, drinking and playing rugby. Much to his parent's disgust he regularly consorted with exactly the wrong kind of people. In short, he had great fun.

I remember a friend once saying, it's better to be one of those people your parents warned you about than to be afraid of them.

Skip ahead some years and this is the person who was, at least in part, responsible for raising me. He tended to be somewhat distant—he's admitted he has little interest in small children and that I only became interesting in my late teens—but he was there and he definitely had an influence. Come to think of it, I think he first really noticed me when I came home drunk during high-school and threw up all over the house. My mother told me to clean it up and I, still extremely inebriated, used the vacuum cleaner.

I grew up hearing (over and over and over) how difficult it had been for him to overcome his childhood programming and how it would be different for me.

And it was. No one pushed religion on me and to this day I don't understand the fuss. I bring the same logic and reasoning to religion that I bring to everything else.

And it wasn't. But I didn't see it until I had a child of my own.

I found myself getting angry at my daughter in the same way—and over the same things—my father used to get angry at me about. I found myself reacting in the same ways and threatening the same punishments that I was threatened with. At some point I caught my wife staring at me like I was some kind of alien who'd replaced her calm and loving husband. When I finally managed to step back and question what was going on, I realized I didn't actually care about many of the things I was reacting to. I was, in fact, reacting because I thought that was what I was supposed to do.

The first step to overcoming one's childhood programming is recognizing it. And that is more difficult that one might think.

Childhood programming. It's insidious and just as we don't realize we have it, we tend to be blind to the fact we're perpetuating it with our own children. How are you reacting to your child's forays into individuality? When they test boundaries, do you react the same way your parents did? When you play games with them do you ever let them win? Do you always let them win? Are you willing to give your child a task you know they'll fail at and still stay out of their way as they try? Do you really believe in god, or are you just going through the motions? If you haven't questioned your own faith, are you sure you want to put that on your children without at least giving it some thought? How about your relationship with your partner, how much does that mirror the relationship you saw between your own parents?

All this is a lead up to another—though definitely related—theme in Beyond Redemption: Taking responsibility for one's own choices and actions. We are all victim to childhood programming of some kind, and it's not all bad. Ideas like sharing and helping and being kind could all be considered programming. But sometimes it's a little more difficult to see.

Take anger, for example. We've all heard (and said) things like, that made me angry. But is that the truth? Are you sure you didn't decide to become angry, were you truly helpless in the angry/not angry equation? Is it possible you've merely been taught to shirk responsibility for your emotions?

Our inability to accept responsibility for our choices goes deeper than how we react to stimuli. Are you overweight, an alcoholic, depressed, having trouble sleeping? Perhaps your first response shouldn't be to seek something to blame or to reach for a chemical cure. Maybe you can accept responsibility and change whatever needs changing to rectify the situation. Responsibility is scary, but what most people miss is that it's also power. If it's my responsibility, I can change it. And before you get too angry with me, I have been and sometimes still am all of those things.

We are the result of our choices and actions. The lives we live—barring tragedies beyond our control—are the lives we deserve. Getting over the events of your childhood, be they large or small, is a choice. Perhaps it's not an easy choice, but it is within your power. Or you can be a character in my next book. 

The first step is making a decision.

* * *

Want to know more about Michael and his delusions? Check out his website, or give him a follow on Facebook, or Twitter.

Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher: A Review

Damn it. I said I wasn't going to start reviewing books again, but I had to talk about this book, because like Zachary Jernigan's Shower of Stones, Michael R. Fletcher takes the themes of gods and madness and twists it all around in such a way as to intrigue me. Any similarities between the two novels ends there.

In Jernigan's world, the mortals defied a mad god.

In Fletcher's world, the mortals seek to create a god.

And what an intriguing world it is.

The old gods were broken by wars and plagues of the mind, left reeling like the most bloodied veterans. Infected with horror at the cost of their actions, they retreated into dementia ... Seeking to free themselves, they fled to a world of delusion, a world uncorrupted by jealousies and psychoses. And yet, in the end, even this they would pollute.

While Shower of Stones was a serious story that took itself seriously, there is something very tongue-in-cheek about Fletcher's Beyond Redemption. That's not to say that it's comedy, but as I read the novel, I couldn't help but envision Fletcher winking at me from behind the scenes and saying, "It's not really real, you know ... but what if ..."

Dreams became nightmares, and nightmares became reality, stalking the earth as albtraum, manifestations of man's earliest fears given flesh.

Or maybe that was just my delusion.

Let me explain ...

"Belief defines reality," said Wichtig, as if explaining to a simpleton. "I believe I will be the Greatest Swordsman in the World."

Beyond Redemption is dark--not gory, but I would slide it to the grimdark side of the ruler, borderline horror in places--I want to make that clear from the beginning. However, if you are reading this blog, my assumption is that you have already come to the dark side, so here ... have a cookie that bites:

Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn't an axiom, it's a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.

Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken--men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to become a god. A god they can control.

But there are many who would see this would-be-god in their thrall, including the High Priest's own Doppels, and a Slaver no one can resist. Three reprobates--The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left--have their own nefarious plans for the young god.

As these forces converge on the boy, there's one more obstacle: time is running out. When one's delusions become more powerful, they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is: Who will rule there?

Beyond Redemption begins with three thieves: Bedeckt, an old grizzled warrior, who prides himself on his sanity; Wichtig, a minor Gefahrgeist (Sociopath), who is determined to become the Greatest Swordsman in the World; and Stehlen, a Kleptic with some serious anger management issues.

If I ever take up cosplaying, I'm coming as Stehlen. Beware.

When faced with a Gefahrgeist, set aside your honesty. Truth will be turned against you. Today's truth will be tomorrow's lie and you will be left questioning your own sanity. This too is manipulation ... Gefahrgeist often wear the mask of sanity. This makes them dangerous. This makes them successful ...

Bedeckt, who believes he is the brains behind the operation, decides he needs one last scam to take him into retirement. It turns out that Konig, Theocrat of the Geborene Damonen and an extremely powerful Gefahrgeist (remember they're sociopaths--Konig means king in German ... see how this works?), is busy creating a god.

Konig's plan is to cultivate the populace's beliefs so that his god-child becomes reality. This god-child is being raised to be subservient to Konig, who will help the boy ascend into the Afterdeath where the god-child will serve Konig in order to prevent Konig's delusions from taking over his body.

Konig knows his time is short. Three of his emotions have taken corporeal form as the Doppels Acceptance, Trepidation, and Abandonment (think: doppelgänger and you're on track). The stronger a person's delusions, the more difficult they are to control. As Konig's power over the populace grows, so do his delusions, which become more dangerous to him and to one another.

I heard a knock, and when I answered the door, there I was. Luckily I think much faster on my feet than I do and soon had myself tied in the fruit cellar. I'd kill myself but I'm so damned useful. Sometimes, when the High Priest has texts he wants copied, I'll unchain one of my hands and get me to do some of the work. Of course I do it! I'm so damned bored down there, chained to the wall.

Bedeckt's plan is to kidnap the god-child, Morgen, and ransom him back to Konig, thereby procuring enough gold to retire. This scheme sets off a chain of events that are simultaneously hilarious and dire.

Sanity, Insanity, Genius. Rampant stupidity. Frankly, I can no longer tell them apart.

All the while, Fletcher cleverly pulls and picks at our preconceived notions of religion and belief systems, slyly winking at us from behind the scenes with selected quotes from the historians, philosophers, and kings who inhabit this twisted world. He treats the story with a light hand so that his very irreverence prevents the novel from spiraling into soullessness.

I don't see what I want to see, I see what I need to see. If you don't like it, see something else.

Fletcher's characters--Bedeckt with his desire to retire; Wichtig, who is determined to be the Greatest Swordsman in the World; Stehlen, who isn't exactly as she seems; and Konig, who is racing against his own madness in search of wholeness--are the very thing that redeems Beyond Redemption. Fletcher brings them all to vivid life and shows us their doubts and dreams and foibles with unflinching prose. Simultaneously poetic and brutal, Fletcher executes a deft balancing act between the surreal and the real and yet he never loses sight of his characters' humanity.

The novel is grimdark, and I mean very, very dark, so if you normally avoid this kind of novel, then I wouldn't recommend it to you. However if you're like me, and you enjoy looking under psychological rocks in order to see what breeds there, come along where you will see that ...

The tales are only as dark as the teller.

Highly recommended.

Read Chapter 1 of Without Light or Guide

Read Chapter 1 of Without Light or Guide

Chapter 1 of Without Light or Guide is now live. No password necessary.

Have a nibble before taking a bite. If you enjoyed In Midnight's Silence, then the adventure continues in Without Light or Guide. Diago Alvarez is now working hard to prove his loyalty to Los Nefilim, but there are many who do not trust his daimonic nature. All around him, events conspire that only fuel the other Nefilim’s suspicions--including the fact that every mortal Diago has known in Barcelona is being brutally murdered.

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hey ho, here we go ... just a spot of updates ...

hey ho, here we go ... just a spot of updates ...

Just a few things going on behind the scenes:

First up I join several other authors for a Mind Meld at the most excellent SF Signal on The Most Memorable Deaths in Science Fiction and Fantasy. That was a fun Mind Meld.

The next piece of news concerns the ebook Miserere, which is still on sale for $1.99 at most online retailers. How long this will last, I do not know, so if you haven't read it, and you want to read it, go out and get it, BUT ...

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