Midsummer Night’s Blog Hop

Hello, Lovely Readers. It’s June 21st. Summer solstice. And to celebrate the longest day of the year, several of my writer friends and I are engaging in a blog hop. Eighteen of us have posted interviews (links to the right) of our characters, by our characters, for your reading enjoyment. And some of the authors have opted to give out PRIZES, but you’ll have to click on all the links to find them.

To kick things off, I am standing in King Hadrian’s glass-domed observatory, where I am about to turn my blog over to my favorite genius, January Black’s Matty Ducayn.

The Interviews!

The Interviews!

Gregor Caine + Circe
(Christine Ashworth & Claire Gillian)

Sydney + Poseidon
(Cindy Young-Turner & Sasha Summers)

Caleb + Arland and Kate
(Kinley Baker & Krystal Wade)

Leigh Baxton + Micah Fuller
(Lindsay Loucks & Diane M. Haynes)

Shayla Dormyr + Kara Magari
(Raven Bower & S.M. Boyce)

Kellyn O’Brien + Julianna
(Louann Carroll & Siobhan Muir)

Ivory + Sara Wiley
(Rebecca Hamilton & Sandra Bunino)

Xylia and Landon + Avant
(Avery Olive & Kary Rader)

Asar + Matty Ducayn
(Jean Murray & Wendy Russo)

“Matty.” Looking around the dim space, I find myself alone. “Matty?” He’s late.

“Please forgive him. Matty is working on a special project at the moment, I’m sure he’s…”

“How do you know about that?”

Turning around toward the boy’s voice, I see a lanky kid emerging from behind the copper clad telescope. His sandy blond hair is hanging into his eyes, and his hands are stuffed into his trouser pockets.

“I gave you that project, Matty.” The boy scrunches his eyebrows at me. “Or are you working on something else? Something you don’t want Hadrian to know about.”

He scowls at me. “You wanted me to talk to someone?”

“Mat!…I’ve left you a half-dozen messages!”

“No, Wendy, you’ve left rambles with dropped words and vague….”

“…pronouns.” I sigh. “So, my editor and husband like to tell me.”

“It’s June 21, after sundown. Here I am, in the palace observatory.” He looks around the room and sees only four of the king’s guardians. “Where’s this guy I’m supposed to talk to?”

“Not just a guy, Matty. Egyptian God of the Underworld. I know I mentioned that.”

The boy stares at me. I stare back.

“I thought you were joking! What the fu…um, I mean, why me? Why not Hadrian? Isn’t this a king kind of thing?”

“Hadrian’s not available.”

Matty’s glance turns suspicious. “Egyptian god comes to Columbia, and Hadrian’s too busy?”

“No, I sent him out of town on holiday,” I admit. “I want you to talk to Asar.”

The boy sighs in resignation. “What do you want me to ask the guy?”

“Whatever you want,” I say, taking my leave.

Matty calls after me, “Sure! I practically write your book for you and now you want me to talk to a god while you look down from your kitchen ta…”

Matty catches movement at the edge of his vision, in the shadows near the telescope. “Um, hello? Mr. Asar?

A silhouette crosses in front of the glowing lamps recessed in the base of the wall. Even though it’s dim, Asar does not disappoint the boy’s imagination. The Egyptian god is a massive column of muscle in coal-black skin. But his clothing is disarming—loose silk and sandals. It gives Matty hope that Asar and King Hadrian have some things in common. Matty looks to the guardians stationed about the room. They have noticed the visitor as well and have their weapons trained on him. Matty waves his hands for them to stand down.

Asar circles the copper clad telescope, the only thing in the room bigger than him.

“Her name is Aster,” Matty says, walking toward Asar. “She’s the king’s pride and joy.

“They are a sight to see, are they not?” Asar looks upward past the telescope. With the glass dome completely retracted, there is a full bowl of stars overhead. “The majestic stars are a source of divine power, Matty. It is no wonder man has sought to reach out to them.”

Matty points towards the sky. “The bright blue star. We call her Aster. My ancestors followed her on their journey here.”

Asar knods approvingly.

“I was just playing with Wendy,” Matty says. “I read Jean Murray’s book, so I’d know what to ask you. I’ve been counting down days!”

The boy’s enthusiasm surprises Asar. Had human apathy for Ancient Egypt changed?

Matty continues, “And then I went through every book Hadrian has about the Egypt. The dynasties, art, architecture, political turmoil in the 20th and 21st cen…”

Asar interrupts, “You read the entire book? How old are you, Matty?”

“Zombies, and girls with black snakes in their backs, and gods whose skin turns cold and black in the human realm.”

“Sex. Sex. And more sex.”

“In a romance novel. Shocking.”

“Not quite appropriate for a boy of…how old are you?”

“Not really all that interesting either,” Matty says dismissively, still evading the question of his age. “I’d rather talk about the Pantheon? Where do you fit in with the gods?”

“There are two pantheons, one of life and one of death. As God of Death and the Afterlife, I am the Principle of the Underworld. Unlike so many religions today who look to the heavens for peace, in my world paradise is in the Underworld, a plain of existence where the Sun meets the horizon.”

Asar places a gentle hand on the telescope. “This is why astronomy was so revered by Ancient Egyptians. Both the sun and lunar shadows are spiritual destinations for souls in the human and underworld realms. Only one path can take you to Duat, where the soul must past the final test before I will grant eternal life in Aaru, my home–the Paradise Isle of the Underworld. A soul which resides in the heart must weigh less than Ma’at’s feather in order for me to let it pass on beyond the gates. If a soul is burdened with many misdeeds and self-righteousness then it must be fed to the beast.

“So many humans fear death these days, they have no faith in what awaits them on the other side.”

“So…” the boy drags out the word, “…when I die, you comb through my whole life and decide whether or not I’m worthy to actually enter the Underworld?

Asar nods his head. With his hands clasped at the small of his back, he paces the space in front of the telescope to formulate his answer. The boy must think him a hypocrite. If the boy truly read Soul Reborn, Matty knows of Asar’s misdeeds. Asar’s only defense is that he was soulless at the time.

“I’d like to apologize now. It’s incredibly likely that I will say something stupid before this conversation is over,” Matty says self-consciously.

“Not to worry,” Asar replies with a smile, relieved at the boy’s concern. “Your soul is safe with me.

“Mistakes can and will be made. My judgment is based on what you do with the knowledge you gain from these mistakes. It is part of discovering your spirit. Gods know I have made many errors of my own, but what is important, Matty, is the legacy you leave behind. There are those who knowingly choose the path of darkness. It stains their souls black until nothing good is left. You are nothing if you have no soul, trust me when I say this.”

“Can we talk about your powers? You surprised the Kitsune—” the boy stops and looks around at the guardians. “Them, I mean. They’re paid to never be surprised. I think Wendy’s readers would like to know how you got in here?”

“All gods have these powers to dematerialize into our celestial forms and then solidify back to our physical forms. It allows us to travel between the realms.”

“That’s fantastic!” Matty giggles. “I’d love to be able to do that!”

“All humans have these powers, but only in death. You do not need your physical form to exist in my world. In fact, the body is but a vessel for your life force. In death, you too will be able to travel great distances, but only in the form of your spirit.”

“What other special powers do you have?” Matty asked.

“As in anything, there is a balance between life and death. The gods that belong to the Creation Pantheon of the human realm create life. I, and other gods of the Underworld, absorb the energy. It feeds my powers of fire, lightening and kinetic force.”

“What’s the Old World like? The human realm I mean?”

“The human realm?” Asar moves closer to Matty, scratching his temple. He is curious the boy has not asked about Aaru.

“The Old World is lost to us…buried under ruin,” the boy says sadly. “All we have are the writings and artifacts of our ancestors. But…you’ve been there.”

Asar understands now. The human realm that he knows is just as mythical to the boy as Aaru is. “It had been over three thousand years since I had been there to observe the humans that cared for the earthly realm. So much had changed. Instead of stone houses and temples, large metal buildings pierced the sky to house the humans while they worked, slept and raised their families. Gone were our followers and only temples raised to one god not many.

“We have saved much of the history in my archive. Perhaps, Wendy would allow you to visit.”

A sparkle lit up the boy’s eyes. “Oh, she’ll say yes.” The brightness fades. “Can I ask you something personal?

Here it comes, Asar thinks. Based on the boy’s stare, he guesses his question. “Yes.”

“When you found out Lilly freed Kepi, you lost your head.” Matty shrugged. “And then…nothing.”

Asar frowns, remembering the time gone by. The emptiness and hatred that had eating a hole within his chest. ‘Nothing’ is not a word he would have used to describe it. He hurt someone he loved with his anger. “Lilly might disagree with you on that.”

“You swore to make everyone pay, but just like that, you forgave the person who actually freed your mortal enemy. I guess I’m wondering…how?”

It is a fair, but tough question, Asar thinks. The boy’s soul flickered like a torch within his chest. It was vibrant and iridescent, very much like Lilly’s. Would he understand what it would mean to be without it?

Asar sat down on the steps behind the telescope’s observation chair and leaned his arms on his knees. Matty sat down next to him.

“Souls harbor all that is good within us. It is our compass. Without mine, I could see only my hatred. My vengeance was all consuming when I first met Lilly. I had vowed to kill all responsible, something someone soulless would do, take a life of another out of revenge. I did not realize it at the time but she was my salvation. When I found out Lilly was the one who released Kepi…” Asar shakes his head. “I jumped to a conclusion that was not true. By the graces of gods, Lilly had filled that part of me that was missing, even without me realizing it. It was because of her special gift that I could judge the moment and chose love over vengeance. Had she not given me my compass, the outcome could have been much different.”

“Kepi,” the boy says. Asar’s mood sours instantly. “She isn’t mentioned in our databases or any of Hadrian’s books. Who is she?”

Asar stood up to pace the floor, needing an avenue to burn off the energy. “Her name means wicked…I should have heeded the warning. She leaves a trail of pain and suffering wherever she goes.”

Matty gazes at him, expecting more. Asar continues, “There are many minor gods in my world that have not been recorded in historical texts or the texts have been lost. She isn’t worth the paper it would be written upon.” He stalked over to the telescope and peered in the lens at the bright blue star that Matty spoke of minutes earlier. He is surprised to see two stars instead of one, floating in a cloud of dust. “Kepi has never been satisfied with her station amongst the gods. So, she obtained what she wanted through manipulation and subversion, destroying from the inside out. Her history will never be written.”

“Our records do mention you, though,” the boy says. “They call you Osirus.” Asar scowls as the word rolls off the boy’s tongue. “Are our files wrong?”

“Not wrong,” Asar says. “To find my name you must go farther back in history before the rise of Greek influence. Osirus based on Greek nomenclature…I am not Greek.”

The boy nodded, as if a puzzle piece had fallen into place. “The Old World had many languages. We have only one. Our ancestors adopted English. It was the most common of all passengers on the January Black when they set sail. I assume that they called you Osirus.”

“Remember what is in your library has been written by humans. Much of the human documentation from this early age has been lost. As our worshipers evolved, so did their religion of us. Humans identify me by several names, but I much prefer my proper Egyptian name. I am a primordial god, one of the first in ancient Egypt’s rich history. Mut, the Mother Goddess, is my mother. She is mother to all things.”

Matty, still sitting on the steps that go up to the telescope, leans back on his hands with disturbed look on his face. Asar asks, “Have I said something wrong?”

“Mut is Lilly’s mother.” The boy points out. “She’s your sister!”

Asar laughs at the startled look on the boy’s face. He no doubt defines family, as the humans do by genetic codes and blood relationships. “We all share a common origin, Matty. I guess the best way to describe my connection to Mut is like seeing her as Mother Earth. She ensures life has a continuation. She is my mother, Lilly’s mother, and in reality your mother. We are all family. Gods are not created or defined by DNA or a genetic code, unlike humans. We are formed by the energy and cosmic elements of the universe. DNA only has a finite life expectancy, whereas gods are eternal without end. We do not have the same marital or genetic constraints, as humans. It is more existential. Does that make sense?”

The boy nodded, but still seemed unsure.

“I guess I could explain this further. The warriors in my service are my creation. They are formed by the blood and soul of a fire demon and the black waters of the Underworld. They are my children, created by my power and energy, but they are also children of Mut. I could not create them without her divine grace and power of life.”

“I see,” Matty says. “Back to your ability to dematerialize, what’s your favorite place in the human realm?”

“The mother land of Egypt. Even though the temples are but sand and dust, the spirits of old still live among the columns and along the Nile. The same waters ferry the souls to my doorstep. My second favorite is on the beach with my Lilly staring at the stars.”

“Could Lilly beat you in a sword fight?”

Asar laughs. “Now, there would be a sight. Lilly is very skilled swordsman and she knows my weaknesses.” He winks at Matty. “She might very well beat me.”

“I was right,” Matty says with a smile, as Asar sits down again on the steps. “You are a lot like King Hadrian.”

“I do not know of who you speak, but I would love for you to tell me about your King. Perhaps in Aaru? It would be a rare trip I assure you. Lilly and her sisters are the only living beings in the Underworld realm. You would be the fourth. It would be my honor to show you the archive. It may answer so many of the questions you seek.”

Click here to continue to the archive in Aaru.


Midsummer Night’s Blog Hop UPDATE #2 — The Pairings!

I promised a drawing on June 1st. I believe I mentioned something about a bicycle helmet and letting my son pick the names, which I did. But first thing’s first.

I have some sad news to share. One of our entrants has had to remove herself from the list. Life can take strange turns at inconvenient moments, and hers has diverted off the trail and way off into the woods. May the Force be with you, dear. Message me!

The Pairings*

Christine Ashworth + Claire Gillian

Gregor Caine, whom Ashworth describes as tall, dark, and executive, is a man who exercises control out of belief the world will fall apart if he doesn’t. Circe, then, might be the last person who whom he’d choose to have beer. First, she’s a siren with a proven track record of sinking ships. Second, she uses sign language when speaking to humans.

Cindy Young-Turner + Sasha Summers

Sydney has survived on the streets of Last Hope most of her life through pickpocketing and prostitution. Nineteen now, she’s a resistance fighter supporting a bastard prince. Whatever will she think of Poseidon, the sexy-and-he-knows-it God of the Seas? Hmm….

Krystal Wade + Kinley Baker

Caleb and Arland  will find they have a lot to talk about. Both have witnessed the slaughter of women and children, and both are leaders of people pushed to the brink of extinction. Caleb’s a bit old fashioned when it comes to women though. Kate Wilde’s invited to the conversation, but she might choose to catch up with her sister while the men compare scars.

Lindsay Loucks + Diane Hayes

Goth chic Leigh Baxton, 15, is the type to hit first and ask questions later. I wonder which she’ll find cuter: Micah Fuller’s admirable restraint with his Gift of Suggestion? Or his crush on Haley Miller (who’s Leigh’s age.)

Raven Bower + S.M. Boyce

As women living in dangerous worlds, Kara Magari and Shayla Dormyr may have a lot to talk about…friends, enemies, magic, bladed weapons, hot guys….

Louann Carroll + Siobhan Muir

Julianna is so new to the werewolf world, her nomination for Alpha may have come with a vocabulary quiz. The abrupt upheaval of her life may give her something to talk about with pregnant mother Kellyn O’Brien, a woman who has never known quite where she belongs.

Rebecca Hamilton + Sandra Bunino

Sara Wiley, 24, is an architect who restores neglected structures, but her personal life is ruin she can’t quite fix. Ivory’s not much different, but as she’s been a Cruor since the Salem witch trials, she’s been dragging her baggage around a few centuries longer. I see them getting along, if Sara can keep up with Ivory’s snark, and Ivory can resist snacking on Sara.

Avery Olive + Kary Rader

The next pairing is odd, to be sure. Avant, lord of Domentus Ventium, is a student of the classics…history, philosophy, war. Those who know him mistake his intensity for severity, so the very sight of him may scare the pants off Xylia and Landon. The teens and their relationship with death may interest the scholar. This conversation has great potential.

Jean Murray + Wendy Russo

Asar, Egyptian God of the Underworld, desires vengeance at all costs against a malevolent goddess that stole his soul. Meanwhile, he serves as judge, jury, and executioner for the souls seeking refuge in Aaru, Paradise Isle of the Underworld. Seventeen-year-old Matty Ducayn, an unruly math-minded genius and occasional smart ass, may offend Asar in three seconds flat. Or maybe not.

Alrighty ladies, we are T-minus 20 days and counting!

*Note: Posted conversations may or may not resemble the descriptions above.

Midsummer Night’s Blog Hop UPDATE!

Response to invites have been great so far. We have 16 (not including me) authors volunteering their darlings for interviews with other characters with whom they likely have nothing in common. I’m really wondering what’s going to happen if my unruly genius Matty has to sit down with Poseidon. Oh, boy. Imagine the delightful sorts of wrong that could go!

Or, Matty could find himself paired with Ivory, a Cruor with a gift for snark. I wonder if he’d believe she was immortal. He’d probably geek out over the biology involved with tissue regeneration, photo sensitivity, and blood…on second thought, I hope he doesn’t get paired with Ivory. He might not survive that conversation. *wink*

Here’s a list of participants so far. I’ll update the Blog Hop page (link at right) as more authors join.

Sandra Bunino
Sara Wiley (Sara’s Smile)

Siobhan Muir
Julianna Morris (Queen Bitch)

Jean Murray
Asar, Egyptian God of the Underworld (Key to the Cursed)

Sasha Summers
Poseidon (Loves of Olympus)

Raven Bower
Shayla Dormyr (Weeping Dark: Bleeding Edge)

Avery Olive
Xylia Morana & Landon Phoenix (A Stiff Kiss)

Krystal Wade
Kate Wilde & Arland Maher (Darkness Fall Series)

Rebecca Hamilton
Ivory (The Forever Girl)

Kary Rader
Avant (The Implanting)

Kinley Baker
Caleb (Denied, Book Two in the Shadowed Love Series)

Diane Haynes
Micah Fuller (Rift Healer)

Christine Ashworth
Gregor Caine (Blood Dreams & Demon Hunt)

Louann Carroll
Kellyn (Shadow of Time)

Kelly Seguin
Liz Covias and Nate Catriona (Ashes, Ashes – Secrets of the Heavens Series)

Lindsay Loucks
Leigh Baxton (The Grave Winner)

S.M. Boyce
Kara Magari (The Grimoire Trilogy)

Cindy Young-Turner
Sydney (Thief of Hope)

Claire Gillian
Circe (Tidal Whispers)

Wendy Russo
Matty Ducayn (January Black)

Interview with The Grimoire Trilogy’s Braeden Drakonin

Good morning friends. Today, I have a treat for you. Braeden Drakonin is here. Party hats!

Oh, sorry, you might not know who that is. Rest assured, he likes it better that way. Where he comes from, he’s a wanted man. One king needs him taken alive, another king would really like to put a poisoned blade through him, and then there’s Deirdre, the plucky soul thief ready to sell him to whoever offers her more. No wonder he was so anxious to cross over and do this interview.

Braeden: You summed that up really well, actually. So you’re 100% certain that no one can trace this, right? I can’t have anyone from my world reading this.

WSR: I can say with 100% certainty that I’ve never had a page viewed from Ourea, but I am still building my audience.

Braeden: Ah. You’re a sarcastic one.

WSR: Braeden, you mentioned to Kara that you’ve spent a lot of time in the human world. How long have you been coming here? Do you have any favorite places?

Braeden: I’ve been coming here since I was fifteen, so that’s, what…nine years? Yes, nine. As for my favorite places, I love to sit in bars and just watch humans do their thing. You want entertainment? Go to a bar. Plus, there’s whiskey. Magical stuff.

WSR: Your world is called Ourea, which is on Earth, but in a parallel dimension to ours, and you can cross between them using Lichgates. Kara Magari walked through one to find herself in your world. What can you tell us about the lichgates?

Braeden: No one knows who made the first lichgates, or who founded Ourea, but we have figured out how to create new lichgates. My home, Hillside, is protected by several that we created, so no one can even see the city unless they know where these lichgates are and how to open them.

Lichgates are wonderful defenses because they can be anywhere and appear as anything. I even saw one disguised as a mural on the side of a brick wall in the human world, once. In plain view! I couldn’t believe it, but no one else seemed to know what it was.

WSR: Huh. I’ve seen murals that looked like you could walk right through them. I’ve often been tempted to try it.

Braeden: Careful. They aren’t all lichgates.

WSR: Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind. Now, magic is commonplace in your world. Your people use for everything from heating bath water to forming weapons out of air. How does your magic work? When do children begin learning?

Braedon: Mastering magic is all about controlling the energy in all things around you. You tap into that power and manipulate it to make even inanimate objects move. Or, if you’re controlling the elements, you pull what you need from the world around you. To make a flame, for instance, you tap into the energy in the wood and the air to ignite a fire in your hand.

Children begin learning as soon as they start to walk, really. Small things here and there, like warming the dish water with a flame technique or chasing away weeds from the garden with a root-breaking spell.

WSR: Magic allows you to change forms. You appear as four separate races of yakona during Kara’s adventure. You spend most of your time as Hillsidian, but…the Kirelm can fly; The Losse can breathe underwater. What’s your favorite?

Braeden: That’s tough. I’ve spent a solid twelve years pretending to be Hillsidian, so I can hold that form without even thinking about it. It’s comfortable. But the Kirelm form is incredible! Enhanced eyesight, excellent sense of smell, tuned hearing…there’s nothing like it. So it’s a toss-up for me.

Oh, but don’t tell Kara that. She and the Kirelms aren’t on the best terms right now and I don’t want her to get mad.

WSR: But, in truth, you are Stelian.

Braeden: *Sighs* Unfortunately.

WSR: When you were 12, your mother and Blood Aislynn of Ayavel smuggled you out of Stele. Your father’s not exactly the merciful sort, so why would either take the risk?

Braeden: Blood Aislynn was half-unconscious from being tortured, so she didn’t have much say in what was happening. Mother, though…I think she realized how my father was training me to be like him. I didn’t want that, and fought it as much as I could, but I wouldn’t have been able to overcome it if I’d stayed. I guess she thought giving me a second chance at life was worth risking death, or worse.

WSR: And until recently, Carden, your father, thought you were dead. What gave your secret away?

Braeden: A king—we call kings “Bloods,” but the term is interchangeable—he draws his power from the royal bloodline, which gives him and a single heir incredible power. When he couldn’t conceive another son with the bloodline, he realized I wasn’t dead like he had previously assumed.

WSR: While we’re still on the subject of Bloods, heirs, and bloodlines, what is the daru?

Braeden: Bloods, Wendy! You ask hard questions.

WSR: You wouldn’t want Kara to think I soft-balled you, would you?

Braeden: Fine, I’ll answer.

The daru is, according to legend, the physical embodiment of a royal’s soul. It’s the manifestation of absolute and unimaginable power, and it can rarely be stopped once the royal calls it forward. It’s a frightening thing to behold. I hate mine.

WSR: Kara Magari. When you were trapped together in a cage and drug back to Stele, what did you think of her?

Braeden: Oh man. Now you have me worried that she’ll read this, too. This is between you and me, but I thought she wouldn’t last long. Pretty thing like that? No way. Especially not if she was going to my father’s kingdom. It wasn’t until I realized that she had the Grimoire that I thought she stood a chance, and even then, it was a small one. She really proved me wrong.

WSR: The Grimoire? What is it?

Braeden: The Grimoire is a thousand-year-old book that can answer any question asked of it. It’s powerful, and its secrets are coveted by everyone who knows that the book exists. It was hidden for the last millennia, and now that it’s back, everyone wants it. Including me.

WSR: Me too! Now, the Vagabond plays a very important role to the story. Who is The Vagabond? What does it mean to be a Vagabond? Why is having one important?

Braeden: The Vagabond is the Grimoire’s master. It’s a title handed down from the first Vagabond, who created the book a thousand years ago. Only the Vagabond can read the Grimoire, so he or she is crucial to interpreting and using the book’s magic.

WSR: One last thing, before we go. Your home is Hillside, but with your “brother” Gavin promising to kill off the Stelian bloodline…which is you…where does that leave you? What’s next for you and Kara?

Braeden: Gavin’s parents adopted me without knowing what I am, or who my real father is. I have no idea what I would do if Gavin figured me out, so I have to lay low, play it safe, and hope for the best. I don’t have the best track record with that sort of thing, though.

WSR: I wish you luck. Thank you for coming and indulging my curiosity. I will be picking up the next book to find out how you do.

Braeden: I appreciate that. Thanks for having me.

Everyone, please check out The Grimoire: Lichgates. And click on the banner below for more contest details! There’s one just for people who visited my blog today!