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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book announcement: The Gargoyle Prophecies, Part I, The Savior Rises by Christopher C. Payne. Published by Journal Stone.

Publisher’s description:

With a tattered Raggedy Ann doll as her only companion, Stefani has spent her entire life immersed in self isolation. As a 10-year-old child she was the lone witness to her mother's murder. She vowed to find the man who robbed her of all she held dear in the world and ensure he suffers as she has before he takes his final breath.

Her childhood is consumed with training in the hopes of one day finding the scarred-face killer. But her world up-ends as her 21st birthday looms when she discovers she isn't the hunter. She is the one being hunted, and her predators are not human. Stefani finally opens herself up for the first time, allowing Dennis into her life and revealing her emotions to her hopeful protector. But her fear and confusion mount when he reveals he is a gargoyle - and she is, as well.

Dennis claims Stefani is the key to the future of the gargoyle world. She is the Chosen One, and she is in danger. Dark forces covet her imminent power and will use any means to steal it. Stefani's mind swims with peril she neither understands nor is sure she believes. She questions everything, including her grip on reality.

As Stefani battles the damned across the globe, she searches for answers about her identity. Is she truly the savior of an inhuman race or has her solitude and the trauma of her mother's death finally infected her sanity?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Return of Innocence: Cast of Characters

People: the House of Varov.

Hinter: Sasha’s father. Insol of Tekari and former general of King Traedon’s elite soldiers, the Hassekorps. A powerfully built man with green eyes and long orange braids. He is clean shaven, until late in the novel, which is unusual for a man from Jaan. It’s too hot in Tekari for beards, and most of the other men there don’t keep them either.

Raysha: Sasha’s little sister, the only member of their family born in Tekari. She’s never been to Jaan, and doesn’t really understand why they were sent away or would want to go back. Tekari is home to her, despite the harsh weather and the animal attacks. Brown, curly hair.

Rutula: Sasha’s mother. Born to the maternal lineage of Varov, a title she now shares with her spouse and her children. Her parents died when she was a child, and she’s very protective of her own family. She married Hinter, who was then general of the Hassekorps. Gray haired, green eyes, with a slight build but proud walk.

Sasha (Innocence): braided, chestnut-colored hair. Apprentice Insol of Tekari. She wants to reclaim her family’s position as nobles of Jaan. Loves sword-fighting and the theater. Of course, there’s no theater in Tekari, but she and her brother act out the scenes they remember and the scenes their father teaches them. Her marriage will carry on the maternal Varov lineage. Weapons of choice: longsword or broadsword and dagger.

Stefent: Sasha’s brother. An avid story-teller and actor. His linguistic skills have made him an obvious representative for trading at the Sordem Outpost. Orange-haired, like his father. Stefent’s height and personality are closer to his mother than his father.

People: the Rest of the Cast.

A’lyn: Beshia’s seventy-nine-year-old spouse, who went away for cooking school in Laan. It had always been a dream of hers, but it left Beshia without a cook. Beshia’s been trying to run the inn’s kitchen, while also running the rest of the inn, and is glad for Sasha’s help. A’lyn settled down from a life of adventure after meeting Beshia; she stayed at the inn one night then never left…until the cooking school. Just under six feet tall, with short white hair and dark blue eyes.

Beshia: the innkeeper, spouse to A’lyn for the past twenty-eight years. A big, imposing woman in her early seventies. Full of advice, maxims, and concern. She believes in the rebellion against the Alera system, but feels she’s too old to help. Despite her fear of getting involved, she’s unable to refuse Burshmeed or Sasha when they need refuge. Her big frame is somewhat stooped from age and a hard life, but she is happy as can be.

Burshmeed: soldier who becomes a mutant for opposing Tay-lii. He blames Somel for that curse. Though he never considered himself handsome before, he was a rather likable fellow, and a loving spouse to Zola. He had joined Tay-lii’s army for a feeling of acceptance, but turned against Tay-lii after seeing his brutality too many times. The curse turned his dark brown skin and his green eyes yellow, his black hair red and gray; it also caused a small horn to protrude just above his left eye. Weapons of choice: broadsword and crossbow.

Captain Ferik: an Easterner, captain of the ship that takes Sasha back to Jaan, a year after her battle with Wuhrlock. Brown eyes, long black hair, and light brown skin.

Captain Geeja: Sherba sea captain and former slave with “harsh yet noble features.” She veils her long black hair, but never her face. Dark complexion, large frame. In her early thirties.

General Duhnahl: the younger of Tay-lii’s two generals. He’s blindly loyal to and fearful of Tay-lii. Still, like Koto’Ri, he feeds the Innocence legends with his tavern talk. A ruthless, powerful fighter, but increasingly a drunkard.

General Keln: also general to Tay-lii, but older and with his own ambitions. He trained Burshmeed. Scarred face, muscular body, and rugged voice. His very presence frightens nearly everyone.

Hedra Dyel: an elderly theater owner, and a tenuous friend to General Keln. Once a friend to Rutula Varov. Very loud voice.

Insri: the androgynous keeper of ancient ways that impact Theln and many other worlds. Blue, rail-thin. (Simply called “Instructor” in earlier version.)

King Traedon: ruler of Jaan. Gray hair and long, gray beard. Frail body, usually draped in ornate robes. The nobles of a Thelni kingdom elect someone as king or queen for life and can’t remove or vote out that elected official. The other members of that person’s immediate family hold royal titles during that person’s life, but then lose those titles and all privileges that go with them.

Koto’Ri: a rather smelly, obnoxious, and loud-mouthed soldier who served with Somel and Burshmeed in Tay-lii’s army and has served with both of Tay-lii’s generals.

The man in the maze: though Sasha never learns his name, this handsome yet scary individual manages to emulate the voices and personalities of various people from her mind.

Nalthen: an actor and director at Jaan’s most popular theater, which Noble Dyel owns.

The Sherba: nomads. Sherba is a noun (singular and plural) and adjective. The Sherba refer to everyone else disdainfully as “nonSherba” or as “landowners.” Weapons of choice: longsword, crossbow, or bow and arrow.

Somel: the linen merchant, also a former soldier of Tay-lii. Enamored with Sasha. He’s unable to grow the beard that supposedly helps him look less like his younger self; it just makes him look scruffy. He’s the one who convinced Burshmeed to shoot at Tay-lii with a crossbow. Dark, beady eyes and sandy blond hair. Somewhat muscular, but his height makes him look stronger. Weapon of choice: short sword.

Tay-lii: Wuhrlock’s brother, much more powerfully built. A fierce warlord who makes his home in Jaan, after several other kingdoms run him out. Supposedly, his soldiers agreed to help protect Jaan, but he really went there to overthrow his brother and become Alera. He is a hulking man, with callused hands and emerald eyes. Weapons of choice: two-handed sword and dagger.

Triz: Traedon’s son, nineteen-year-old prince of Jaan. Not a fan of the Alera system, but initially unwilling to challenge tradition or accept Innocence. Very loyal to his father and to Jaan; his father’s voice in the Senate of Nobles, during his sister’s absence.

Wuhrlock: Alera of Jaan, in the early part of the novel. He overstepped his advisory position by actually making laws for Jaan, including one that says no one can oppose the Alera. The Alera are highly regarded throughout most of Theln, both for their magical powers and for their deep understanding of the universal laws.

Zola: Burshmeed’s spouse. He can’t stand for her to look upon his cursed face, but she still loves him deeply and doesn’t care how he looks. Though she was happy in her own kingdom, her parents said she wasn’t allowed back as long as she was married to one of Tay-lii’s soldiers. Tay-lii had also caused problems in her kingdom, and many others. Working as a maid in the castle and the fort, she is now a spy for the Jaanian rebels who oppose Tay-lii. Weapon of choice: scimitar.

The Return of Innocence

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I want to use this blog entry, my 500th here, to congratulate Jean Paquin for winning a paperback copy of The Return of Innocence: A Fantasy Adventure through Author Island!

Check back here over the next few weeks for book news, movie reviews, and more. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 11, 2010

In the imported film The String, a gay man returns to Tunisia after his father’s death. His mother expects him to stay and marry a woman. Read my review at ThisWeekInTexas.Com. Read more of my movie reviews at ThisWeekInTexas.Com.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I updated my Reactions to Homophobia page. That resource deals with hate crimes, suicide, relationships, religion, family, anti-gay laws, internalized hatred, and many other factors affecting gays and lesbians.

Friday, October 01, 2010

I’m a featured writer at Bitsy Bling's Book Review! Read my interview there about what led to the Texas fiction collection The Acorn Stories and its fundraising spinoff, The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer. The interview also includes more about my writing.