Indie Author Feature: Chris Reher

Hello, all!

Today comes with an interview! Chris Reher is the author many wonderful books, all of which I encourage you to check out, and she’s here today to discuss Entropy’s End!

-M

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Entropy

Tell us a little about this release – what inspired it, which characters were your favorites, what surprised you while writing it?

Entropy’s End is another adventure for Sethran Kada, who appeared in two previous stories. He’s just too interesting to fly off into the sunset just yet and so I gave him his own story which has received enthusiastic feedback from readers. This one, like the others, is a stand-alone story but a third book will pull things together into a trilogy.

The books of the Targon Tales revolve around a hundred-year old conflict between a colonizing Commonwealth and those who rebel against it. In this story, I wanted to take a look at a rebel’s point of view. She becomes his challenge as he once again saves the day. In some ways, current conflicts on our own planet were the inspiration for this.

As always, I ask myself: are we really the good guys? Are those rebels really evil terrorists and, if not, what makes them do what they do? Are some of them just victims of circumstance? This theme runs through all of my books, but this time a rebel is one of the main characters.

What Author(s) or Works first inspired you to write? Who inspires you now?

Margaret Atwood, for her use of language. I can only wish for such talent. Hugh Howey because he’s a cool guy. Larry Niven because of Ringworld and other really neat concepts. Anne McCaffery for her wonderful characters, specifically The Rowan who, in retrospect, served as a model for my main female protagonist. This reminds me that I need to replace my very tattered copy of her Get Off The Unicorn. Right now I’m inspired by writers who step out of the genre, or take it to another place. Michael Bunker and his Amish sci-fi is one of them.
Tell us about you – what do you do to unwind and relax? What are your hobbies?

Besides trying to remember to water my tomatoes, my way to relax is to learn things. Seriously. Thank goodness for the Internet. I can pick up a story and something in it will lead me to look up more detail, starting with basic sources like Wikipedia. Before you know it, I’m reading scientific papers. Most recently, I learned a great deal about President Johnson’s administration (and I’m Canadian!).

I think if some law enforcement agency ever examined my search history I’d be in great trouble. Good thing I can tell them I’m a writer and had to look up chlorine gas, mass extinction, dirty bombs, planet-wide exfoliation schemes, and laser weapons. I wish we found a better way to teach children. Instead of making them remember the gross national product of Lithuania, we ought to just let them explore. Eventually they’ll come across Eastern Europe, I’m sure.

I list links on my web site that offer factual information about the scientific concepts and inspirations I’ve used in my stories. Invariably, I get sucked into learning about quantum physics, space elevators, panspermia and neurology when doing research, even if I don’t dwell on these concepts in my book. So I think my readers may want to learn more, too.

Where can we find your work?

All of my books are listed on my web site at www.chrisreher.com along with excerpts and where to find them online.

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Questions for Chris? Leave a comment below!

What’s Moira Up To?

…Other than ending her sentences in prepositions, of course. Sorry about that.

A lot of things are going on – projects in review, planning, or progress! Right now, I am working on…

  • Saira & the Dragon’s Egg: I have just gotten episodes 5-8 back from my editor (highly recommended, if you’re looking for one! You can find her here). If you haven’t started the series, you can find the first episode free on Amazon, iTunes, B&N, and all Smashwords affiliates!
  • A novella in the CHRONOS world, from Rysa Walker’s Time Bound. I highly recommend Time Bound, and was beyond thrilled when Rysa asked if I’d like to contribute on Kindle Worlds. Stay tuned!
  • Remnant: edits are in progress for Book II in the Novum trilogy, with Sandro working on a gorgeous new cover! If you haven’t started that, you can find Book I, Crucible, HERE.

Next up:

  • A series of short stories. A few novel ideas have kept kicking around in my head, and I’d love to bring them into the world – and it just occurred to me that perhaps they were actually shorter stories, not novels at all. Go figure!
  • Inheritance, Origins, and a 2nd edition of Mahalia for the Yeshuhain Chronicles: armed with new knowledge, I’ll be revising Mahalia and rounding out the Yeshuhain Chronicles with Inheritance, Mahalia’s ongoing adventures, and Origins, the story of Isura, another character in that universe!


Later this year:

  • Haven: closing out the Novum trilogy in epic, epic fashion
  • Joan of Arc: a young adult time travel novel!
  • The Sojourner Saga: what’s next for Miriel and Catwin? It will begin with a voyage at sea …
  • Heaven: a novella of flash-fiction from the first days of space travel in the Novum universe

Questions? Projects you’re waiting to hear on? Let me know!

-M

Happy New Year!

Dearest Readers,

Before I get consumed in nostalgia and forget, please remember to check out the Year End Giveaway over on facebook – the latest book in the series for you, and the first in the series for a friend! Fifteen books (and fifteen friend copies) are available, so hop on over to enter! Link HERE.

Giveaway

As we wrap up 2014, a few things stick out …

  • This was the year that I found a fitting way to continue Miriel & Catwin’s story, and I couldn’t be happier to bring them back!
  • This was also the year that Crucible and Remnant came to life, some of the most difficult fiction I have ever written, and some of the most rewarding
  • I have found remarkable people in this community, both readers and writers, and am so grateful for their long-distance friendships
  • This was the year depression rocked me sideways, and I recovered. I feel grateful beyond belief
  • This was the year I began an incredibly ambitious plan for next year, and I am so excited!

That last brings us to 2015, of course. So what’s HAPPENING in 2015? Well, it might be shorter to list what isn’t happening, actually… But here goes with the “happening” list ;)

  • A new Light & Shadow book will be out January 13th. The Amazon preorder is HERE.
  • A new serial novel, a series of bite-sized adventures that are about halfway between epic fantasy and steampunk, will start on January 24th. The first one is HERE.
  • Remnant should be out in mid-January. Let me know if you would like an Advance Reader Copy!
  • 2015 will, if the muses allow it, be when Haven wraps up the Novum Trilogy…
  • …and Heaven, a novella told in a series of flash-fiction stories, will show the start of space travel in the Novum ‘verse
  • Also, 2015 should see both a sequel and a prequel to Mahalia

There will be more, of course, and I couldn’t be happier!

Happy reading! Happy writing! What does this year hold for you?

-M

Novum II & Other Updates

Hello, Gentle Readers!

As summer slides away into fall, your friendly neighborhood author is cozied up with a cup of tea, writing away!

For news: the first, roughest draft of Novum II (tentatively titled Remnant) is done! Upcoming are a self-edit, replete with wailing and gnashing of teeth, and then beta reading. If you would like to be a beta reader, and think you would be able to work with a 10-day turnaround, feel free to contact me! (I will also send an email to the mailing list shortly!)

What else is in the works? Lots!

  • A co-writing project in Middle Grade fiction, centering around Joan of Arc
  • Novum Pt. 3 (of course)
  • A new book in the Light & Shadow series
  • A prequel to the Novum trilogy
  • A steampunk-y, swords-and-sorcery-ish serialized novel, out next year!
  • A short story to go in a SciFi anthology featuring lots of supercool authors
  • A sequel and prequel to Mahalia

It’s going to be quite a year, gentle readers! Thanks for following!

-M

P.S. If you’re new, I encourage you to sign up for the mailing list – I promise I don’t spam, and there are giveaways, promo codes, all sorts of wonderful things!

 

Bearing Witness

Authors, you came into this world with a spark and a talent. Yours are eyes that see the world from 3 degrees off-kilter, yours are hearts that remember tiny moments of sadness with heartbreaking clarity. Stories build up in your blood until you must write them out or go mad, and the characters you put onto the page are not untruths, but little pieces of your soul, the raw underbelly of the world. You shine a light into the dark places. You bear witness. So I tell you that now, of all times in the world, we have a chance to do so. What is happening in Syria, in Iraq, in Ferguson, in a thousand neighborhoods around the world, is streamed to you, it cannot be hidden.

But you can look away.

You, with your hearts that ache for hours over a lost earring on a sidewalk, over a chipped dish and the slow decay of a neighbor’s garden, who can weave stories of desperate human sadness – you will want to look away now. What is happening in Ferguson is too big for you. You cannot solve it. No one person can solve it. The magnitude of a life snuffed out is too great for you. Children who have seen rockets fly and advancing police with the glare of flash grenades and tear gas, that is too much to fathom. These are images you will not forget, and they will drag you down into darkness and you will wish that you had not seen them at all. You can look away. You have that choice.

But remember who you are. You were not made to cower away in fear, to try to forget and cover your shame at forgetting with apathy and jaded eyes. You were made to stand tall and look, and feel, and spit injustice back at the world. You are not stepping between protesters and rifles, you are not making laws – though you are free to do both, though both are worthwhile, though now is the moment for such courage. Your task, now, is to open your eyes. Do not turn away, but instead remember what you saw. Feel the fury and the injustice and drown in it, see it as you were meant to with those watchful eyes that raw soul, and write it down in words that lash out, so that we do not forget what happened here. So that fifty years from now, we do not say, but we fought this fight before. We thought it was ended. So that we do not say, that cannot happen here.

Authors, you were made to bear witness. Now is the time.

Depression

Dear Readers,

This is a very difficult post to write. I do not often share this part of my life with the world, but I think it is something that needs to be shared just now. You have heard by now that Robin Williams has passed away, and that he struggled with depression – most likely for all of his life. Many of you reading this have struggled with depression, or will struggle with it at some point in your adult lives. You would think that because so many people experience depression, we would be more aware of it as a society, but we don’t seem to talk about it very much, or understand it. Depression can come from many places, often from stress or overwork, poverty, illness, abuse, or traumatic events. It can also come from inside your mind, for no reason you can see. Whatever the case, there is one truth that you need to remember:

Depression lies.

Depression can come into your life so quietly that you don’t even notice it, and use your own voice to lie to you. It steals away all of the happy memories you have and colors them and gives them back, until you are sure that not only does everything hurt now, everything has always hurt, and you are tired, desperately so, and you are very sure that everything will continue to hurt, forever, and nothing will get better. Waking up is hard. Eating is exhausting. You’re not sure you have it in you to keep going.

Depression lies.

Depression is shame. It is feeling like the parts of yourself that might make you happy, that are open and wonderful and creative, are shameful and raw, and need to be hidden away from the world. Depression makes you so desperately ashamed of everything you are that you can’t bear to create anything. You don’t want to speak, because you are so ashamed that someone might hear you. You don’t want to write, because you are so desperately low and base and inadequate that anything you create will be an embarrassment.

Depression lies.

Depression hurts you in little ways you wouldn’t expect. Your joints hurt, your head hurts. You feel like a stranger in your own body, able to feel pain and disconnected from it at the same time. Depression creates intrusive thoughts that show you horrifying things.

But depression lies. It speaks with your voice, but it is not you. It tells you that it is a part of you and you can never get rid of it, but you are free to tell it that it is not welcome. It tells you that you aren’t worth the effort, but it is okay to take care of yourself. It tells you that you should be ashamed to be depressed, but there is no shame in it. If you can trust me, just for long enough to pick up the phone or open a website, please believe this: the depression is wrong about you, and it is wrong about your future, and you don’t have to go through this without help. If you want to talk to someone on the phone, you can find a list of resources here. If you prefer to seek help online, you can go here. If you’re looking for some resources just to make you smile, here’s a good list. If you want to read one of the most accurate descriptions of depression I have ever seen and laugh at the same time because this woman is so amazingly good and unflinching in her descriptions, read Hyperbole and a Half’s Adventures in Depression and Depression Part Two.

-M

Indie Author Feature: Tammy Salyer

Gentle Readers -

I have a very exciting feature for you today: today is release day for the Spetras Arise trilogy by Tammy Salyer! I have a little bit about the book below, and hope you will head over to Amazon to check it out!

-M

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Tammy Salyer

About Tammy

Tammy writes a bit, reads a bit, and frequently races cars across intersections from the saddle of her bike. Consequently, you could probably crack walnuts shells on her thighs, but she hopes no one ever tries, because … awkward. Find her on her blog (www.tammysalyer.com) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/tammysalyer), or sign up for her newsletter (http://eepurl.com/Trzh1) to be the first to know of contests, new releases, and special events you might enjoy. She’s currently working on a prequel to the trilogy and another project that has something to do with space Vikings. She hopes you enjoy reading her works and welcomes your reviews.

About the Spectras Arise Trilogy

Contract of Defiance, Contract of Betrayal, and Contract of War follow heroine Aly Erikson and her crew of anti-Admin smugglers through an ever-escalating glut of life-and-death adventures and trials of a living on the side of liberty and freedom—whether they agree with the law or not—in the far future of the Algol star system. As former Corps members, most are no strangers to fighting and dissent, but more than anything, they want to spend their lives flying under the radar without control or interference from the system’s central government, The Political and Capital Administration of the Advanced Worlds. But the Admin’s greed-drenched dualism of power and corruption has other plans, and throughout the series, Aly and her crew are reminded of one lesson time and again: when all other options run out, never let go of your gun.

Contract of War begins in the aftermath of the system-wide war between the Admin and Corp Loyalists and the non-citizen population of the Algols, where everything once resembling order has been leveled. Scattered enclaves of survivors dot the worlds, living, however they can, in snarled lawlessness. Aly and her crew have carved out a niche of relative peace, doing their best to go on with their lives through salvaging, scavenging, and stealing. But with no force left to keep the lid on the pot, the pressures of chaos and discord soon cause conflicts to boil over. As enemies close in from all directions, even, sometimes, from within, the crew once again must fight—not just for survival, not just for their way of life, but this time for a future that can finally lay to rest the system’s bloody and savage past.

To learn more about the series and her other projects, visit former 82nd Airborne paratrooper and author Tammy Salyer at www.tammysalyer.com.

Where to Find the Books

Grab all three novels in the trilogy while they’re on sale for 99 cents each through August at Amazon {amazon.com/author/tammysalyer}, Apple {http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/tammy-salyer/id519481023?mt=11}, Barnes and Noble {http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tammy-salyer}, Kobo [http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/Search?query=Spectras%20Arise%20Trilogy&fcsearchfield=Series}, Libiro {http://www.libiro.com/}, and PayHip {http://payhip.com/TammySalyer}.

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Comments? Congratulations to Tammy? Leave a comment below!

If you have another author you’d like to see featured, email me at moirakatson at gmail dot com to let me know!

-M

 

Amazon vs. Hachette

Gentle Readers,

You may be aware that there is an ongoing dispute between Amazon and a publisher named Hachette. There is much speculation over the terms of the dispute, and proponents of both sides are claiming that the other is hurting authors.

I want to state my own stance up front:

Hachette Amazon

This means authors, and it also means editors, copy editors, publicists, agents, IP lawyers, cover artists, and many, many more people. If you keep buying books, I promise that the future of publishing is very bright, whether or not it includes either of the two companies involved.

Now, a few points that I don’t see coming up much:

  • Battle lines were already drawn before this dispute, so the waters are not only muddied with preexisting loyalties and dislike, but also with preexisting disputes (treatment of authors, diversity in publishing, quality of books, anything and everything). Publishing today is a web of allegiances, generally with traditionally published authors siding with Hachette and self-published authors siding with Amazon, although there are exceptions.
  • No one knows what this dispute is over except Hachette and Amazon – and both are bound by a confidentiality agreement during this time. While it seems fairly likely that the dispute is at least partially over book pricing, no one who is writing articles has the full details.
  • I personally believe that inefficient distribution channels and outdated stocking methods, among other things, have created a system in which ebook prices are kept artificially high to compensate for other losses – the largest component of a print book price is the cost of printing the book, so ebook prices on par with print prices are a bit weird
  • All evidence is anecdotal (there are a few studies about whether self pubbed or trad pubbed authors are happier with their situation, but nothing definitive), so all I have is my own experience: the disruptive publishing technology harnessed by Amazon and other companies has allowed me to make a budding career doing something I love. Amazon, in particular, has been easy to work with: clear in its terms of agreement, with easy-to-use technology, and comfortable providing me with stats on how my books are selling. (Some of the other systems are a real pain in the butt to use.) If you’re looking for an example of an author who has enjoyed traditional publishing, I would suggest reading John Scalzi’s blog, as he’s quite well-spoken and explains why he feels he’s gotten a good deal.
  • You will see a lot of bandying about royalty rates – some trad publishers arguing that Amazon can’t or won’t continue their high royalty rates, self publishers arguing that traditional publishers don’t give authors enough. The problem is that the dispute over royalty rates is not an exact parallel:
    • Authors who publish via traditional routes are given editing, cover art, distribution, formatting, etc., and the reduced royalty rate reflects the fact that many people are involved in the process
    • Costs for self-published authors are accrued through different channels and are taken outside the mechanism of royalties
    • It seems unlikely to me that traditional publishers set out to screw their authors, and it also seems unlikely that a bargain struck between a new author and a publishing company will be made with both parties on equal footing – generally speaking, the party with hundreds of lawyers has a leg up ;)  The truth is probably somewhere in the middle between “screw over” and “idyllic communal happy times,” just as it is with Amazon. Neither Hachette nor Amazon is in the business solely because they love books or because they want nothing more than to pay authors, but I don’t think the employees of either companies sit about rubbing their hands and cackling over how much they can extort their authors, either.
    • It is highly unlikely that Amazon will ever have the market power to establish itself as the sole publishing vector in the world and then screw over every author and reader – they’ll topple and fall before that happens. I mean, to do that you’d have to control the internet, and the FCC would never allow a company to … hmmm …
    • Seriously, though, Amazon has competitors waiting in the wings, willing and able to take it out at the knees if it becomes some crazy monolith
  • Following from the last point, if you enjoy books by a certain author and are comfortable with the price set on purchasing their work, do so. You are the only person who can make that calculation, and if you enjoy the books produced by Hachette and find the finished product worth the price, then please by all means DO compensate the author, editors, cover artists, formatters, secretaries, interns, and all other involved parties. Likewise with self-published authors and their helpers.
  • Likewise, if you think the price ISN’T worth it, well, don’t spend your money and DO speak up so that the publisher knows why you aren’t buying.

I know it seems hopelessly naive to cry, “but can’t we all just get along?” But, honestly…we’re all here because we love books: writing them, reading them, editing or advertising them, making art for them. Hachette and Amazon are locked in a battle of wills on a grand scale, but the rest of us have two options:

  1. Make dramatic posts siding with one or the other and decry the future of publishing if the opponent wins
  2. Continue to make rational decisions regarding price and value of books, and consume media accordingly

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got, I’m off to read Ancillary Justice.

-M

P.S. Happy 4th, American readers!

 

Stories from Guan-Yu: Finale!

audiomachine PHENOMENA - Final Large

Welcome to the final day of the Stories from Guan-Yu event – winners will be announced Monday! Today’s track, “Ice of Phoenix” is off Audiomachine’s most recent public release, Phenomena. Composed by Paul Dinletir, Phenomena was brought to life by 180 musicians in the heart of Air Lyndhurst Studio in London, with the powerful beat of 10 concurrent percussionists, a compelling choir of 80 voices and the commanding force of a 90 piece orchestra. Charged with emotional depth, Phenomena will capture the imagination and complement the core of every story.

I did not hear “Ice of Phoenix” until I was done with the edits of Crucible—but as you listen, I’m sure you will understand how it became one of my favorites at once. This is a track of the beautiful things in ourselves we fight to protect, and the aspects of our souls that we most fear—and the inevitable collision of the two. Vasiliy, a Lieutenant Commander within the human fleet, struggles to make sense of the fact that fellow soldiers carried out a massacre on civilians they had sworn to protect. Still unsure of their motivations, he must come to terms with the devastation wreaked on a human colony, by humans, and he will also come face to face with the most terrifying enemy humanity has yet seen.

Vasiliy is a man who will hold the future of the human race in his hands, who will know what it is to fear humanity and yet give up everything to save it…

Vasiliy Crop

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“There’s never a weapon that makes warfare better!” Rossi slammed her hand down on the table. “There are only ones that make it worse.”

“Does it matter how terrible this war is, if we win it?” Finally, Vasiliy shouted back. “Because that is the only way we are going to survive as a species.”

“Yes! Think a moment. What happens after we win? Do you think those experiments, on the very slim chance that they have survived, will be left to their own devices with a thank you and a medal, and we’ll never try to make weapons like that again? No. They’ll be unleashed on us, one way or another.”

“The League would never do that.”

“They would. It would be stupid not to. You take the best weapon the world has ever seen, a weapon that ends wars quickly, and it would be foolish to cast it away. Think of what would have happened in the Atollan War if we’d had soldiers like this, think of the lives that could have been saved by quicker battles, blockades taken out. And in any case, it would be wrong to kill them all once they were made. Immoral, don’t you think? So think a little farther, Commander Chagaev. How do you keep a race of very smart, very savage humans so loyal to you that they walk into danger on your orders without question, but sit quietly and do not interfere with the populace when there’s no enemy to fight? Do we keep them in pens when they’re not savaging our enemies? Do you truly think we can make any cage or argument that will hold them back?”

He knew the answer she wanted, and he knew she was right. He remembered Anatu’s voice: You don’t make any sense. How long until they decided, and perhaps rightly, that the rest of humanity did not have the right to rule themselves? How far—his blood chilled—could one of them get in the halls of parliament, alone, against all of the guards? What would Anatu be capable of when she was old enough to fight?

What would she be capable of now?

“No matter how bad things get now,” Rossi said quietly, “we are still human against human. The world is not just and it is not fair, but we have the chance to make it so. We can still topple unjust governments. We can free political prisoners. We have made the world over in our own image a dozen times, when politics and judges have failed us. If we unleash this on our world, no matter how good the intentions, we will destroy our society. They don’t fit, they rewrite the rules. Society functions as it is because we are who we are. They are not that. They are different.”

“I can’t believe that they are only that.”

“Then let me tell you what I believe, Commander—I believe that if we cannot defeat the Henth without making a mockery of humanity, then we should be proud to lay down our lives and die as we are, for there will be no benefit to us in winning—humanity will already be lost. We are not toys, and we are not machines. You cannot tinker with life and have no harm come of it. I know you cannot look me in the eye and say those children are normal, you know there is something wrong with them.

“I fear their brutality because I fear even the brutality of other humans. My father went away to war and his body returned to us, but his soul never came back. And that was humans like us, Chagaev! Humans who feel. What horrors do you think we will make with humans that cannot empathize? They won’t even understand what they’re doing—you’re giving guns to children, who cannot understand life and death, and you tell me how that will end. You do not breed a weapon with a human face. It is wrong. And it is wrong to make a human with a twisted mind and no soul. It cannot be, I will not allow it. It has been given into my hands to decide, and if it is my lot to go to my grave with the deaths of two children on my hands, then so be it. I will do it. Because the alternative is immeasurably worse. It is a light burden after the one Sandoval took.

“So do you want me to fight the Henth? I will. I will sacrifice myself for it, I will sacrifice any person on this ship, but I will not—I will not—sacrifice what we are! It showed me the depths of my own darkness and I will never let it turn me into that! I believe that we can defeat it without taking innocent children and turning them into soldiers, and I believe we can do it without creating a monster that we cannot control. That is no more a weapon than a wild dog.

“I believe that the time is long past for you to believe in fairy tales, and so help me God, if you do not agree with me, you have two choices: turn me in and let me hang for it when we reach port, or keep your peace, for I swear to you, if you try to keep me from doing what I must, I will airlock you with them. Do you understand me?”

Vasiliy stumbled out of the room, leaned against the wall, and shook. The blackness was there. It was waiting for him.

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Author’s note:

I hope you enjoyed this peek into the world of Crucible, and enjoyed Audiomachine’s beautiful track! To enter for a chance to win a signed copy of the album, as well as a signed copy of Crucible, leave a comment below! Today is your last day to enter, and winners will be announced Monday, June 16!

You can find Phenomena HERE on iTunes, and Crucible HERE on Amazon.

Juuuuust in case you missed the free download from kickoff day, click HERE to download Solace and Brain Mismatch, two of Audiomachine’s industry releases, for free!

-M

A Rafflecopter giveaway!

Stories from Guan-Yu: Day 5

Existence_CDBaby_art_1400x1400

Welcome to Day 5 of the Stories from Guan-Yu event! Today we are featuring music from Existence, pairing the track “100 Years War” with a character named Daniya. A royal servant, Daniya alone knows the truth of the experiments on the colonists, and she has been tasked with protecting those secrets. Grieving and angry, Daniya makes desperate choices to save humanity’s greatest weapon—and hide the truth from the ones who must give their lives in its defense.

Existence is a sweepingly epic album, calling to the greatness living in all of us–the seed of every story planted firmly in the soul of the notes. Of the album, composer Kevin Rix has says, “When I first started composing EXISTENCE, my goal was to tell a story with music. After almost two years in the making, I’m excited to share EXISTENCE with you.  I hope you experience as much enjoyment immersing yourself in the music as I did in creating it.”

“100 Years War” captures Daniya’s resolve, and the bitter knowledge that her life is no longer her own. Daniya, as all of the characters in Crucible, must choose how much she can sacrifice for her people, and must struggle to find the path of right action. Daniya, a character who has tried very hard to forget how to feel, finds herself struggling with her own moral awakening, and with a quest for redemption…

Daniya crop

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The ground seemed to have disappeared from under her feet—she could feel nothing at all. Where there should be anger, or perhaps horror, there was only silence and emptiness. The bodies lay before her on tables, faces she knew, but lifeless—not people at all. They had heartbeats, but what did that mean? She really should feel something. She clenched her fingers on the railing, trying to feel something, anything, but there was nothing at all. It was strange, how the tables seemed to be sliding in and out of focus. She heard an exclamation from Efthalum.

“Daniya! Are you well?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Do you need medicine?” At last—emotion, in a wave so savage that Daniya shook with. She felt the cry of no freeze in her throat. Medicine: syringes and droplets of chemicals, things in her blood—as if she would ever trust Efthalum to break her skin with metal, as if what was wrong with Daniya in this moment was a sickness.

Oh, gods, what if there was something in her blood already? What if there was a copy of her? Her hands were moving, sliding over her neck, trying to push her sleeves out of the way. She had to see if her skin was broken, her blood felt like it was burning, her fingers wouldn’t work to lift her sleeves.

“Daniya!”

“I can’t breathe,” Daniya choked out. What did you do to me? She did not feel her knees strike the floor, but she knew her arms did not come up in time. The world was sideways now.

At least she couldn’t see the tables.

“You must listen to me.” Efthalum’s face was close, its fingers reaching out and halting when Daniya scrambled away. “It is not safe here, you have to take the documents and go.”

“What—“ Her words broke off, but the question was enough.

“The genetic information,” Efthalum said. “It will tell others how we bred the royals, and how to breed future generations. Mind-scans, read-outs from their panels, everything. We were so close…” It stood and went to the edge of the platform, to the documents, and Daniya saw that it was limping. She thought how easy it would be if she had a gun, a bow. Hadn’t she watched enough of the training? You should never turn your back on an enemy.

Efthalum did not think Daniya was an enemy. What did that mean?

There was a crash from above, a rumbling noise. Then silence; at last, a faint creak in the walls.

“You must go.” Efthalum coughed, and its hand went to its side. “Take the cask, quickly.”

“Is the Great Evil real?” Daniya had pushed herself up. She had isolated the one question that mattered. “Can you swear to that?”

“It is real. I promise you that it is real. Do you want to know where the lie is, Daniya?”

“Yes.” The word came to her lips at once.

“We did not defeat it.” Efthalum stared at her steadily. “We ran from it.”

“You ran? You wanted us to fight your battle for you?” You told us that every race must defeat the Great Evil themselves.

“Not just for us. For every race. Daniya, it was not only the Aireni who failed to stand against the Great Evil. No race ever has. We first knew them as the Henth, and the race that gave them the name is gone now, and a dozen more with it. We watched it destroy everything in its path and we ran, and that was when we found you. We lied to give you hope.”

“If you could not defeat it…” How can we? Efthalum smiled at that, finally. She thought she could see blood at its lips, a strange bluish color.

“Do not be afraid,” it told her. “We believe—“ Another crash, this one directly above. “Run,” Efthalum told her. It shoved the cask into her hands. “Go! They’re coming.” Daniya did not question this time. She took the box and sprinted between the tables, trying not to look, making for the back of the room and safety. The door was open, a portal she only had to reach before they came. Bullets could cross any distance faster than she could.

She heard an explosion behind her just as she reached the door, and flung herself to the ground. Pushing the box ahead of her, she crawled around the corner, and paused. Was it an enemy? There were shouts of alarm behind her, and the chatter of gunfire. Efthalum did not even cry out. A woman said something, crisp and harsh, a voice responded, disbelieving. And then another, and Daniya did not need to know the words to know that this was an order for destruction.

 *******

Author’s note:

I hope you enjoyed this peek into the world of Crucible, and enjoyed Audiomachine’s beautiful track! To enter for a chance to win a signed copy of the album, as well as a signed copy of Crucible, leave a comment below! You can enter once a day!

You can find Existence HERE on iTunes, and Crucible HERE on Amazon.

Juuuuust in case you missed the free download from kickoff day, click HERE to download Solace and Brain Mismatch, two of Audiomachine’s industry releases, for free!

-M

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