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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Leaves of Flame, by Joshua Palmatier

As I promised in the Boosting the Signal post for Well of Sorrows, here’s the companion post for Book 2 of the series, Leaves of Flame! And since this is Book 2 of the series, the Colin of this book has far different goals than the Colin of Book 1. As you can see in the piece Joshua has sent me for this book! Enjoy!


Leaves of Flame

Leaves of Flame

I wanted to thank Angela Korra’ti for the chance to signal boost my novel LEAVES OF FLAME, the second in the series, here at the blog. This is an epic fantasy, with the first book called WELL OF SORROWS (available now) and the third book, BREATH OF HEAVEN, written but not yet released. Here’s a little scene featuring Colin, the main character, and what’s motivating him in LEAVES OF FLAME. If it piques your interest, then check out the books, available from Baen in ebook format, and on the Kindle and Nook. Hope you enjoy!


The White Fire of Aielan’s Light burned bright and cold in the depths of the mountains of the Alvritshai. The flames licked upwards from the stone, without source, tendrils brushing the ceiling, acting exactly like a regular fire, but silent and a pure white that caused Colin’s eyes to ache as he stared at them, entranced. But if the Alvritshai knew he was here, inside their most sacred shrine—if they knew his purpose—

He shook himself, then knelt, pulling his backpack from his shoulders and setting it on the floor. From within, he drew out a bundle of cloth, which he laid on the floor, shoving the pack aside. He tugged the cloth aside, revealing a length of heartwood, gifted to him by the forest itself, as long as his arm. It had been soaking in the waters of the Lifeblood for years in preparation for today. Tonight, he intended to forge it in the white flame, in Aielan’s Light. He needed to imbue the heartwood with the fire’s protective power. He hoped that the Lifeblood would give it the wood the strength to survive the forging process.

And if he succeeded . . . if he succeeded, then the three races of the New World—human, Alvritshai, and dwarren—might have a chance against the destructive darkness of the Wraiths and the Shadows.

Reaching forward, he grasped the length of heartwood, felt a pulse of response from deep inside as it recognized him, recognized the power that flowed through him, and then he stood. Holding it before him, he closed his eyes and gathered himself before stepping into the white flames. They wrapped around him, enfolded him in their cold silence, seeping into him, judging him. He’d stepped into their fires before, been judged, so now he reached out into the fire’s presence, formed his intent in his mind and beseeched the fire to help him.

The races needed protection. The Shadows had awoken, had learned to expand their influence beyond the prison of the Well within the forest. They were a plague upon the land, led by Walter and those that had been turned by the Lifeblood to their cause—led by the Wraiths. The races were vulnerable, were being attacked on every side as the Shadows fed upon them. They and the Wraiths needed to be stopped. They needed to be destroyed. They needed to be imprisoned again. And only Colin could do it. But he needed the Lifeblood and the Fire and the permission of the forest. He needed their sanction.

And so he asked, and permission was given. The forest provided the heartwood, the vessel, and the bane to keep the Shadows and Wraiths at bay. The Lifeblood provided the healing, the strength to sustain the warding for decades, for longer if necessary. And the Fire provided the soul, the consciousness to recognize those tainted by the Well.

He felt that consciousness seeping into the heartwood. Reaching forward, he guided it with purpose, felt it take form, felt it merge with the heartwood, with the Lifeblood, combine into something more. But it needed power. It needed to last, and so he forced more and more of the flame into the wood. It surged through his body, throbbed from his fingers into the wood, until the wood was engorged. Yet it needed more. If it were to last, it needed more, and so he let the flow continue, until he felt the heartwood trembling beneath his grip, until his arms began to shake. He fell to his knees, tears streaming down his face, gasping, the Fire around him billowing higher in utter silence—

And then the heartwood split beneath his fingers with a shivering hiss and exploded.

Crying out, he stumbled back out of the flame and collapsed to his side. Lifting himself up, he roared in defiance, hands clenching into fists over the splinters of wood that remained, then sagged forward into hitching, frustrated sobs.

An hour later, he picked himself up and gathered together his pack. He stood staring at the White Fire of Aielan, jaw set, teeth clenched. He would have to try again. And again and again and again, if necessary. Because the three races still needed protection from the Shadows and the Wraiths. Because they were still dying by their hands, by Walter’s hand. And no one understood how devastating the Shadows and Wraiths could be. Would be. Because no one, other than Walter and the Wraiths, had drunk from the Well and knew its insidious power besides Colin.

And he meant to stop them, even if it meant sacrificing his own humanity to do it.


Buy the Book: Baen | Baen Bundle With Book 1, Well of Sorrows | Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Well of Sorrows, by Joshua Palmatier

I don’t often do Boosting the Signal posts for books that have been released via traditional publishing–but for Joshua Palmatier, I’m making an exception! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Joshua a couple of times, and more importantly, I’ve had the pleasure of reading his book Well of Sorrows. (You can find my review of same here.) The problem? Not enough people have had the same pleasure. When Well of Sorrows was released, his publisher had, due to prior sales numbers, asked him to release the book under a pen name, Benjamin Tate. Now that series has a new home at Baen, and the first two books of the series have been re-released under the Joshua Palmatier name. If they sell well enough, Baen will release Book 3. And I’m here to tell you: if you like epic fantasy, give this series a look. Joshua’s here today to introduce you to his character Colin! And stand by–a post is coming for Book 2, Leaves of Flame, too!


Well of Sorrows

Well of Sorrows

I wanted to thank Angela Korra’ti for the chance to signal boost my novel WELL OF SORROWS here at the blog. This is an epic fantasy series, with the sequel called LEAVES OF FLAME (also available now) and the third book, BREATH OF HEAVEN, written but not yet released. Here’s a little scene featuring Colin, the main character, and what’s motivating him at the beginning of WELL OF SORROWS. If it piques your interest, then check out the books, available from Baen in ebook format, and on the Kindle and Nook. Hope you enjoy!


Colin chucked a rock at the chunk of driftwood bobbing in the ocean waves along the strand near Portstown. It missed, plopping into the waves shushing onto the pebble beach. He reached for another, but heard Karen calling, “Colin?” from behind him.


He waved and she headed toward him, the breeze coming off the water flinging her hair behind her. He couldn’t help but smile as she settled down onto the salt-bleached log beside him, grabbing her own handful of stones.

“Have you heard?” she asked, excitement threading through her voice as she threw her first rock. “They’re going to send everyone in Lean-to out onto the plains to form a new settlement! My father’s already packing up our things. What little we have.”

“I know. My father’s the one they want to lead the expedition.” He should be more excited. They’d traveled across the Arduon Ocean to the New World, leaving Andover and the brewing Feud between the Families behind, only to discover that the feud had already spread to the newly discovered continent. The land of freedom and opportunity had been anything but, the age-old prejudices alive and thriving here.

The new expedition would give Colin’s family—and all of those in Lean-to—the chance to escape it all, to head into the unexplored plains to the west in their covered wagons and create a new beginning for themselves, one without the Families looming over them. Some of the Portstown representatives would be with them, of course, and the trading company that was funding the settlement, but it wouldn’t be like living in Portstown.

If you could call it living.

And he’d be rid of the governor’s bastard son, Walter. Colin rolled his shoulders, still aching from his stint at the pillory. His skin felt tight from the sunburn, pulsing with its own heat, but the pain was fading.

Karen lobbed another stone and they both heard it knock hard into the wood. She cried out in delight, leaping up and dancing in the sand before dropping back down beside him in laughter. It faded into gasps, then settled into steady breathing as they both stared out over the dark water sparkling with sunlight.

“Maybe this is what my father needs,” Karen finally said, her previous exuberance tainted with faint sorrow. “You know, to get over my mother’s and sister’s deaths on the ship.”

He twined his fingers in hers. “It will help. I’m certain of it.”

She smiled and squeezed his hand, then abruptly stood, pulling him up after her. She was taller than he was, and half the time he didn’t know what to say to her, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except getting her, her father, and his mother and father away from this gods-forsaken town and its bitter governor. Even if it meant heading onto the plains, where anything could be waiting for them.

“There’s so much we need to do,” Karen said, dragging him toward the blade-grass that lined the beach, toward the ramshackle Lean-to built by the refugees from Andover that the governor wanted nothing to do with. “So much to plan, to pack.”

She pulled him up the dune and stood tall at the top, staring out over the rumpled land that spread out to the horizon, her face lit from within by a desperate hope. Colin saw that hope and felt his chest filling with a hard determination. This was their chance. This was what they’d been waiting for. The governor had tried to beat it out of them, had tried to force them to leave Portstown, but they’d held on. And now…

Now he’d been forced to give them what they wanted. And there, at the top of that dune, Colin vowed to himself that he’d do everything he could to keep Karen and his own family safe, that he’d protect them as they forged out onto those plains and started fresh. He’d protect them no matter what.

Even with his life.


Buy the Book: Baen | Baen Bundle With Book 2, Leaves of Flame | Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo |

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: The Wrong Way Down, by Jake Elliot

Jake Elliot is a fellow member of NIWA, and he gets today’s second Boosting the Signal post so he can tell you about his ‘mock-epic’ fantasy The Wrong Way Down. What’s a mock-epic fantasy? I’ll let him explain! Take it away, Jake!


The Wrong Way Down

The Wrong Way Down

Thank you, Angela, for giving me a place to talk about my ‘mock-epic’ fantasy, The Wrong Way Down. What is ‘mock-epic?’ Many characteristics of this series hold true to the fantasy genre, however, it reads with a different spin. My heroes could be heroic and have the right stuff, but they can’t quite become heroes. In fact, their mission is so dire, and the world needs them to win, but every foot forward is one step closer to their graves. So therefore, this tale is ‘mock-epic.’

In chapter three of The Wrong Way Down, the story’s heroes receive two scrolls to be delivered to the nearest military garrison. The first scroll is read, but the second one is never opened. These are the words written upon the unopened scroll—

Dear Priest Betrum, my old friend,

I don’t know how to begin this letter, for it tells the worst of misfortune. Without easy words, High Priest Marcel was murdered this morning before dawn. I know this information is staggering by its own weight, but the ‘why’ of his death is far worse.

We are in deep trouble out here. I don’t know anyone else within the Church who I can turn to with this, so I’m turning to you, my most trusted brother in faith. I entrust you to invite whichever Superior you feel can adequately respond to the gravity of our situation. I am at a loss as to who to contact. The holy scepter we’ve been entrusted to keep secure is gone. LeSalle’s Grace was stolen this morning.

It is a delicate line we stand on, protecting Grace while continuing to display the divine relic has been a tradition provided at our temple for over 400 years—now broken. This morning, thieves using a hook and rope climbed into Grace’s display room, where subsequently, they murdered Marcel as he prayed. Marcel—our friend and teacher for twenty-four years—cut down in cold blood.

We are still at a loss to figure out how this crime transpired. We were awakened at the time of occurrence. The room to LeSalle’s Grace had been barred from the inside. It took Priest Horace several attempts, but on the third thrust he broke the door-jam with his shoulder. There, through a window no bigger than a crawlspace, at least one burglar escaped down a rope tied to a grapple. Now Marcel is dead and Grace is gone.

Truly, by the blessing of the divine, we found one thief lying unconscious in the middle of the room. My best guess is she—the unconscious thief—touched LeSalle’s Grace. As you know, holy power of that magnitude will sunder the ‘misaligned.’

Maybe thirty minutes ago she regained consciousness, but her only response to our questions is a mouthful of obscenities. As if she were spawned from a devil, she tempts us to break our vows of pacifism. My subordinates are on a slippery edge—I’ve had to call them back twice. By the gods, Betrum, I saw the animal rise within my own clergy—our compassion is but a shallow well.

Since this woman refuses to cooperate in any fashion, I’ve decided to have her escorted to Blackmire Garrison. By the time you’ve received this letter, the woman will have been broken by the garrison inquisitor. I’ll send instructions to the fort commander to forward the interrogation report directly to you. She’ll act tough for a bunch of priests, but I doubt she’ll last a minute under an inquisitor’s blade. God, please forgive my betraying thoughts. However, it is quite possible you’ll receive the inquisitor’s report at the same time this note arrives.

Call upon me as needed, I am in ever-loving service to our God and Church. I will tend to the spiritual injuries of my staff, and as any new information arises, I will keep you informed.

My prayers keep you in mind,
Ellund Saiwel,
High Priest at the Temple of Dawn’s Mystery

Popalia is a young priestess. She is the unlucky girl to be assigned the mission of delivering two letters and a rebellious thief to the local military outpost. Assisted by a servant at the temple, Popalia’s mission is a long-shot that goes horribly wrong—and after that, it gets worse. They’ll be waylaid by a backward group of wild elves, chased through the woods by a relentless bear, surviving all of this only to be duped by a gang of shifty thieves, finally seeking uncertain protection with the unscrupulous Ascolan Brothers’ Mercenary Team. This fun story begins when the heroes fail—over and over.

Welcome to The Wrong Way Down.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: The Blackwell Family Secret: The Guardians of Sin, by Jonathan L. Ferrara

Dragonwell Publishing has had a few titles featured here before, and they’re back now with another: Jonathan L. Ferrara’s new offering, The Blackwell Family Secret: The Guardians of Sin. If you like some angels and demons in your reading, you might want to check this one out. And as villains go, you don’t get much more old-school than the original fallen angel himself.


The Blackwell Family Secret

The Blackwell Family Secret

Thousands of years gone since I fell from grace, condemned for eternity in the City of Demons. Humans fear me, demons worship me, but Nicholas Blackwell threatens me? The orphaned brat with nothing but his family’s dark secret to haunt him thinks he can stand a chance against the first fallen angel? Protected at his school by my noble brother, Gabriel; these days blending within humanity as a janitor of a Catholic boarding school. He is more pathetic than I remember him to be. Never fear. I have a plan to lure Nicholas to me. An ancient trick I’ve used before: the forbidden fruit. One bite and he will unleash the Seven Deadly Sins, sending him on his journey through Demonio. I wonder how he will handle himself against my Princes of Hell while hunted by demons, and terrorized by evil. But if he succeeds, perhaps he is more valuable to me groomed as my appreciate rather than another soul trapped in the Valley of Death. Let’s see if Gabriel can protect him now.

But the girl who accompanies him on his quest against sin… She troubles me in so many ways. She knows more than she leads on. Amy—a teenage girl, or perhaps something more? Either way, my true concern lies with Nicholas’s affection for her. She teaches him the virtue of humility when it is the sin of Pride that must conquer him if he is to embrace his family’s legacy.

It’s not just Amy, it’s those betrayers hidden in my city. They call themselves the “Risen”. Stupid fools who think they’re clever. I was the one who devised defiance! It was I who began the rebellion! Yet these “Risen” believe they can do what I did to my Father? They had better pray they find their inner divinity before I pick them off one by one.

Nicholas Blackwell, what foolish lies his parents led him to believe. So naive it was to trust them. They kept so many secrets from their precious boy; a secret that has fooled the entire world for centuries and has the power to change life itself. Nicholas, make rightful your sin from indulging in the forbidden fruit. Find me and I will reveal to you the secret your parents took to their graves. All it takes is just one bite. I, Lucifer, await you.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: The Guild of Assassins, by Anna Kashina

Y’all may remember Anna Kashina from one of Boosting the Signal’s two inaugural posts, when I featured her book Blades of the Old Empire. Now Book 2 has been released from Angry Robot, and I promised Anna I’d get her post up this past Friday. But I’ve been swamped working on Victory of the Hawk. So here it is today instead! More regularly scheduled posts will resume once I finish getting Victory out of my brain.

In Anna’s first post you met Nimos of the Kadim Brotherhood. Now meet Kara, and what she seeks to do following the events of Book 1!


The Guild of Assassins

The Guild of Assassins

My name is Kara. I am a Majat warrior of the Diamond rank. Very few in existence are capable of matching me in a one-on one fight, and they all are my fellows in rank. Diamonds.

My skill makes me a spearhead of the Majat force, and one of the most cherished guild members. People in the Majat fortress treat me like royalty. I can have anything I want. All in exchange for one thing—obedience. No matter what, I must obey the Code of my Guild.

I have no memory of my parents, or of any other life. The Majat Guild is my home, my family that trained me to fight, kill, and obey, ever since I was five. I’ve never had a problem with this life. Being a Diamond Majat is in my blood, and I fit my role well. Or so I’ve thought.

I am not permitted to love, even though the Majat Guild encourages us to explore our sexuality during our training. When I felt an attraction toward the man I was hired to protect—Prince Kythar Dorn—I was prepared to suppress these feelings. But when an enemy hired me by name to kidnap Prince Kythar and deliver him to his murderers, I found, for the first time in my life, that I was unable to follow my orders. Instead, I secretly escaped from my Guild and delivered Prince Kythar to his friends and protectors.

I knew the price I must pay of this. My life. I knew exactly what awaits me. A Majat assassin would be sent to execute me. He would be specially trained to target my secret weakness, known only to my trainers and the people who raised me. He would strike me down, and there would be nothing whatsoever I could do about it.

And then, the impossible happened. The man my Guild had sent after me, Mai, chose to spare my life. He had disabled me and made it seem as if I was dead. He had me in his power, but he let me live.

Now, I am the first Majat warrior in the history of my Guild free of my obligations. The Majat have no Code to cover my situation, which had been considered to be impossible before. But sooner or later my Guild will find out what happened. They will send another killer. This time, after Mai.

I owe him my life. I will not abandon him to pay for his actions that gave me my freedom. I will follow him and fight by his side till the end.

Mai is my destiny now. I will not betray him.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Bad-Ass Faeries: It’s Elemental, feat. Kimberley Long-Ewing

This is the final Boosting the Signal post for Friday the 23rd/Saturday the 24th! Heading into a long weekend in the States means y’all get THREE posts. And I’m putting this one up on Saturday morning just to help make sure people see it.

And this one’s a special one too, since it’s actually about an anthology! Bad-Ass Faeries is a title you may have seen in the post I put up about Danielle Ackley-McPhail. It’s an ongoing anthology series, and this post is featuring Kimberley Long-Ewing, who’ll be one of the authors in the forthcoming fourth volume, It’s Elemental, due in September of this year. I call the entire concept of badass faeries entirely acceptable.

Kimberley’s story in the anthology is “Spin, Weave, and Measure”, and her character Yarrow’s goal? Well. If you’ve got a bad-ass faerie loose among humankind, what do you think she’s out to do?

ETA 6/6/2014: Correcting the spelling of Kimberley’s name! My bad!


Bad-Ass Faeries 4

Bad-Ass Faeries 4

My sisters and I have watched you for millennia. You were, for the most part, quite boring. Then you invented weaving and spinning. We learned. We watch the patterns of eternity in the weft and weave of our cloth. We wove our own patterns, subtly nudging and shaping the world.

All the world’s a stage and the gianes work in the shadows, behind the scenes. Rose, Thorn, and I moved to Britain in the pockets of a sweet girl from Sicily. We set up shop and, on our whim, would draw in a creative soul to loan a little token of our esteem. Later, we followed a snippet of our cloth across the ocean to America. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of our clients —Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Thomas J. Watson, Nolan Bushnell, and…well, perhaps I shouldn’t list too many of them. The agreement is that we will bestow our blessings by weaving reality in the clients favor. We will hold that pattern for seven years. Then they are on their own. Yet you’d think we were the oath breakers when we call for our token. We had to become quite adept at recovering them. We are of shadow, shape shifters and master trackers. The few who succeeded in thwarting us learned the error of their ways. We are, after all, on good terms with the Furies. What fools these mortals be.

Oh what a tangled web we weave and none greater than the world wide web. I love spinning bits into threads that Rose then shapes into, well, all sorts of things. Poor Thorn spends so much time snipping away at stray information strewn across the Internet. Rumors of our existence irk her most. Rose just smirks and says that Thorn actually loves playing whack-a-mole. I think Rose just enjoys tormenting Thorn. It’s not just Thorn she taunts with her cloth of data. Upon my tongue so many slanders ride. So many rumors, so little time.

It passes the time anyway. You try spending millennia with your sisters. I think we ran out of novel topics of conversation after about year twenty. Oh, there are new toys you develop which hold our interest but awhile. But I can already tell you what Rose and Thorn will have to say about them. So predictable. At least Rose explores new poets. Not that any of them compare with Shakespeare. I appreciate her efforts and perhaps one day she will find one worthy of my attention. Thorn, on the other hand, never moved past Sappho. Imagine having the same poetry quoted at you for centuries. It is so tiresome.

Now Thorn is giving me one of her looks—the one that says it’s time to work. We’re spinning a web to bring in our next victim client. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble and all that. You know. Off to spin thread. Let’s see who we attract today.



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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Philosophy and Fairy Tales, by Fraser Sherman

Fraser Sherman is another of my fellow Drollerie Press alums, and he’d like to tell you all about his collection of four fantasy short stories, including “Original Synergy”, “Red Moon Rising”, “Jack Be Nimble” and “Learning Curve”. This post features Serena Dean, protagonist of the story “Original Synergy”.

And did I just hear several thousand Browncoats cry “WHAT DOES SERENA KNOW?”


Philosophy and Fairy Tales

Philosophy and Fairy Tales

If you’re wondering why I joined the Knights Templar, you can blame my mother.

“Serena,” she told me, “a new business owner needs to network. And becoming a Templar will get you much further than the Lions Club.”

I wish. Sure, it sounded sensible. The Templars covertly manipulate the world economy, they could certainly help my new business MeetSmart (“When you fail to plan your conference, you plan your conference to fail. Call MeetSmart today!”). And it’s been eye-opening learning how the world really works: why the Buffalo Bills must never win the Super Bowl and the real reason Fox had to cancel Firefly.

But what I didn’t realize is that every time the Templars launch some bold new venture, we cross paths with another conspiracy—the Illuminati, the Trilateral Commission, the Men in Black—operating at cross-purposes. The end result is that nothing gets accomplished on either side.

So now the Templar Grandmaster has a solution: Synergy 21, the conference that will bring together every secret conspiracy, from Skull and Bones to They (as in “That’s what They say.”), to work out some sort of common ground for us all. And my tight-ass superior, Master Reginald, just told me I’m going to handle all the arrangements. A great break for me, right?
Except that I have two weeks to pull it all together. In Florida. At the height of the tourist season. No conference rooms booked, no suites reserved, nothing.

Of course, as a Templar, I have resources and methods no ordinary meeting planner does—and the help of a very sexy Illuminati—but still, that’s not much time. And if I fail, Master Reginald has told me, my head will roll.

He’s not using a metaphor.


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