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Being a hermit, Cliffs Notes Children of Stone via teasers, Daniel Stride, New Releases.


The illustration is "Habitation of a Hermit" c. 1901 by Russian Artist Apollinary Vasnetsov

We've all had a bit of hermit living in these days of sheltering-in-place, but the life of a hermit is not a new one. Hermits are often semi-romantic figures, usually male who have chosen to live either alone or with only one or two other humans - or animals. They are often religious figures who wish to spend time contemplating the gods or the one god or nature. They are meditative souls. Many native cultures use a period of hermit-life to clarify a soul's place in the wider universe or to receive word of a path one is to undertake. The Australian Bushmen have a walkabout. Many Native American and African cultures send young males into the wilderness to prove manhood by hunting something of size or undertaking a physical and mental trial. On their return, they are considered "men". Sometimes hermits are madmen, barely tolerated by a tribe and pushed out to a distance but not entirely shunned. Other hermits go into the wild because of shame or tragedy. Some hermits in modern times are introverts who prefer the solace of their own room and books, forsaking public life. In March of 2020 many of us were forced into hermitage in fear of catching or transmitting a disease. How long the "sheltering in place" will last is up to debate: for a couple more weeks to as long as it takes. Some of us are okay with this, enjoying the quiet and the privacy. We use it to create and cleanse our souls. Some of us create and learn to reconnect with family members. Others of us become depressed or anxious without ever-changing physical contact.

In the series Children of Stone - Book One Voices in Crystal we first meet Marai, a lonely shepherd teetering on the brink of madness and lost in fantasy, He sings to his dreamed-of goddess who slightly resembles Inanna or Ashera, hoping she will forgive his selfishness that cost him a young bride and her infant daughter fifteen years earlier. Here is the opening chapter called Night Songs

“O beautiful one, Asher-ellit;

Immaculate one of the goddesses,

Torch of Heaven and earth,

Radiance of all the lands,

Goddess ‘Lady of Heaven’,

First begotten of Sin,

First-born of Ningal,

Sweet sister of Shamas.

O Asher-Anu, you rule the heavens;

Oh, Queen of Morning and Evening Sky,”

Marai’s voice rose like the drone of a horn.

Come bless me this starry night.

For one who begs to serve you;

Come bless me this starry night.

Each phrase the shepherd sang to his goddess was different from the one that came before it. He never planned his songs of worship. In each part of his song, Marai worshiped an aspect of his beloved, yet dreaded goddess.

Do you hear me sweet one? he asked the starry sky between verses. Tonight might be the last one for a long time. His hands were raised in supplication, as if they held his song aloft for her. Only the stars answered with their quiet twinkles.

Maybe there’s nothing to sing to. Maybe Sheb is right. Maybe it is time to go. He let his arms drop after a few moments, then trudged cheerlessly into the inner recesses of his cave-home to collapse in sleep. Once there, he lay on his pallet restlessly for a few minutes, then sat up and reconsidered.

I should sing some more – try one more time. On a night like this I used to sing ‘till dawn. I need to think. Tired. Too tired.

His massive shoulders sagged, making his outline look like a vulture’s.

Stepping outside again, he sat down on the stone ledge that formed a natural porch for his home, and then looked down the craggy descent to his family’s way station below.

It’s you, my bride of a summer, buried by the time of the misting snow. The shepherd mused, turning to look at the makeshift pole to Ashera and the softer spot of ground in the shadows. He couldn’t see it in the dark cave, but he knew his wife lay there. The bones of her arms embraced the baby girl born still as she herself died.

Ilara. I have been here feeding your ghost and quietly watching the sky, Marai reflected.

He usually shunned the company of the travelers who moved through his family’s way station on the Copper Road, seeking shade, water, and supplies as they headed west to Kemet and parts north. Today had been different. Marai hadn’t felt quite as bad about eating with his family and the traders. He knew he would have to change his reclusive ways if he journeyed west with his family. Tonight, the thought of leaving took his focus away from the goddess, even though he sang heartily enough to her. It was difficult to sing farewell.

It still hurts my heart to go. The big shepherd rose and sang out from his porch. As he sang, he paused from time to time to see if anyone from the encampment below was annoyed by the melodious baritone he sent up beyond the heavens.

You change our fates,

Evil turns to good;

I have sought you for so long among the gods;

I have offered all to you;

Come bless me this starry night.

Jeri Torrence suggested that I should make teasers rater than long winded excerpts about my books. I tried some, and very quickly found out how much fun it is. I also realized that if I made a teaser for each shortened chapter in the revised Voices in Crystal the result was something like a Cliff's Notes version of the story. Here are the first few I've done.

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What's next? Buy the book and read...Available in print, e-book and from KU - Or contact me for an Autographed copy with bookmark.

And now a promo and an interview with Author Daniel Stride

"The blurb"

Walking corpses and black-market liquor: the quiet life. Teltö Phuul, Necromancer and Library Clerk, likes his days safe and predictable. Not for him the intrigues of the Viiminian Empire, a gothic monstrosity held together by sheer force of will. Until the Empire's dreaded secret police come knocking. Caught in a web of schemes in the diseased heart of Kuolinako, the underground Imperial capital, Teltö can trust no-one. Not the Northern theocrats who abhor Necromancy, and certainly not the Grand Chancellor, whose iron-fisted rule has kept the old order alive that little bit longer. When one false step means torture and disappearance, this journey will change our Necromancer forever. A top review 4.0 out of 5 stars

Dark but Humorous Misadventure

Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2018

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase 4.5 stars

I first discovered this book while browsing on TV Tropes (if you don't know what this website is, that's for the best - I've been browsing it for 10 years and still haven't read it all.) With new releases, it's hard to find books with a trope works page at all. So I put this book on my wishlist with the hopes of reading the article someday.

I enjoyed this book! It's a story about a chronic underachiever who gets a promotion he doesn't want and is catapulted into misadventure after misadventure, each more dangerous and daring than the last. There's a lot of terms and names that the book throws at you, but don't worry - memorization isn't necessary to enjoy the story. It just adds flavor to the world, where a long-lived empire treats walking corpses the same way we treat AI or automated machines.

There's definitely an underbelly that the protagonist doesn't want to reflect on - like, that people without necromancy or a useful skill get killed to turn into liches, or that he might've had to kill and reanimate people as part of his final exam - that peek through every now and then, as more worldbuillding.

Perhaps in the sequel, the author will touch on more of these. And, for a story about corpses, the levels of description never get too gut-churning, making it an easier read.

I also liked that the protagonist was bisexual. I always enjoy finding queer characters in genre fiction.

Overall, if you like fantasy books set in more modern fantasy worlds, or stories about hapless fools (or Phuuls as it is) you might want to check this book out!

The Interview

1. What made you want to be a writer?

I came late to writing. Or at least writing prose fiction. Prior to starting a novel in 2007 or so, I was writing poetry, fanfiction, and academic work. My interest in writing stems from my interest in reading, and, more specifically, “doing things” with words. Yeah, it's the poetry background.

2. When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.

Next novel, Old Phuul, is a work in progress (not helped by spending 2017-2019 churning out short stories). It's the follow-up to my first novel, Wise Phuul. They're both steampunk-flavoured dark fantasy.

3. How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?

It rather goes without saying that writers must be readers. I'd also suggest reading out-of-genre too, lest you end up stunting your idea of what stories can be.

4. Do you remember the first book you read?

I remember the coloured Learn To Read books of my childhood (starting with the Red Books, and working up to Green). The two earliest “real” books that I can remember with distinct titles are The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl. I loved Dahl as a child.

5. What book are you reading now?

Dracul, by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker.

6. How did you come up with the idea for the book or series, especially the title?

The idea for the book was founded on exploring a worldbuilding question: what would a society based on Necromancy look like? I pondered this question after reading The Empire of the Necromancers, by Clark Ashton Smith.

The title is a punning allusion to the surname of my protagonists: Teltö Phuul and his sister Rhea Phuul. Phuul in itself is a reference to an old mnemonic I remembered for the Periodic Table: “Harry – He Likes Beer. Brown, Cool, Not On Fridays. Nelly's Nanny Might. Although Silly Phool,

She Climbs Around Kinky Caves.” So Phuul is Phool/Fool... which makes them Phosphorus, I suppose...

7. Which character do you identify with most in your novel?

Rhea is closer to me than Teltö, but she has definitely been diverging recently.

8. How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No comment. :)

9. To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

I go for regular walks. I am, sadly, not in a position to travel very often right now

10. Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.

I like to write with zero distractions, but it really depends on my mood. Sometimes the words just come, regardless of what is going on. Other times...

11. Which part of the publishing process do you dislike the most? Which aspect do you love?

I hate First Drafts, because they require so much effort, just to produce something that you end up feeling embarrassed by. However, they're important, and you have no story without them.

I actually love editing, and cutting drafts down to size. It feels rather like a game at times

.

12. What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel?

That haunting feeling that my work is terrible. All writers know that one.

13. When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?

The calendar. Aiming for deadlines provides motivation.

14. How do you market your book?

Mostly blogging. Curiously, I am better known as a Tolkien blogger than as an author in my own right.

15. Have readers ever contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.

I've interacted with readers on online forums, if that counts. There has been quite a lot of kind words about my short stories in particular.

16. Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?

Anyone I know in person who asks me. Feedback is useful.

17. Tell us all about your very first book signing.

I haven't had a book signing as such, but I have signed books for people who bought them from me.

18. Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?

Death of the Author. The meaning of a book is discerned by the reader, not the writer.

19. Is there one writer, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

I'd love to meet a (living) J.R.R. Tolkien, due to the sheer number of questions I'd have for him. Given my blog, that's a rather predictable answer.

20. What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I've recently binge-watched the Witcher TV series, which I really enjoyed. I'll also confess a fondness for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, at least the earlier seasons (later ones are a bit weaker, and start to run out of ideas).

Mussorgsky's A Night on Bald Mountain.

(As an aside, the more highbrow the book I'm reading, the more crass the music I like to play in the background. I've worked my way through Homer and Virgil, while listening to a ten hour YouTube loop of 'They're Taking The Hobbits To Isengard').

21. Do you have hobbies other than writing?

Obviously reading. I also enjoy following politics (yes, I'm a bit of a politics junkie), and doing stuff with foreign languages. I have acted in the University of Otago's German Language Production for the past seven years.

22. Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

Presumably I can still read. :)

23. You only have 24 hours to live - how would you spend that time?

The classic answer is 'spend time with my family'. Bit boring though.

24. What’s the biggest thing you learned during writing and publishing your first book?

Writing ain't easy, and neither is rejection. But you've got to keep going

There's a lovely quote attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “Everyone's First Draft is shit.” Remember to keep going, even if you think your work is horrible, and the absolute key is finishing your First Draft.

Tell us how we may get a copy of your book. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, paperback etc.) Social media links and websites?

A list of purchase sites may be found here:

https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/wise-phuul/

I can be found blogging here:

https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.c

Visions and Nightmares: Ten Stories of Dark Fantasy and Horror Kindle Edition by A. F. Stewart (Author) 3-13-20 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0854BMQLG/

Shattering the Stigma: 10 Inspiring Stories from Female Entrepreneurs who are Breaking the Barriers around the Mental Health Stigma [Print Replica] Kindle Edition by Amanda Rose 3-15-20 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0845S2L1T/

Claimed by Temptation: A Paranormal Romance Limited Edition Collection Kindle Edition by Ariel Marie (Author), Erin St. Charles (Author), LeeSha McCoy (Author), 3/17/20 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B083ZCTQLN/

And now ... back into our caves and shelters to READ and to WRITE


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© Mary R. Woldering and http://www.MaryRWoldering.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary R. Woldering and http://www.MaryRWoldering.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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