bloodstein-purple CroppedFinally, after years of work, LoE Book 10, The House of Bloodstein  is available! The HOB series consists of two books, this one, subtitled Perlamum and Book 11, subtitled Mentralysis.  Mentralysis is already written, just going through the usual editing and pre-publication process which can take a long time. It should be out in 2017.

All authors are different. Some are note-takers, scribbling down thoughts and sudden ideas for consideration later. Others outline the story from beginning to end, making the work into a full-fledged project. And then there’s me. I write on-the-fly, no notes, no outlines, nothing. I just write. It works for me most of the time. The problem with writing how I do is I tend to change my mind in mid-stream a lot. It’s never the case where the story I intended to write at the beginning is what ends up in the final product–and that is triply so for HOB.

As much as I complain about the NaNoWriMo month as a destructive stunt and waste of time, HOB started as a NaNo project I did to appease a friend about five years ago. It was a fairly straight-forward tale, but it lacked the manic imagination and strangosity I’m known for. In fact, as I finished the first draft, it reminded me of those feel-good ABC After-School Specials I used to have to watch as a kid. There’s a term in Spanish that applies here: The first draft of HOB had no tiene chiste. What that means is the story was plain, boring, had no oomph, had no pop. Love or hate my books, nobody’s ever bored, and HOB, due to the emphasis of NaNo on word-count, was full-on boring.

Cover mock-up

This cover mock-up, although beautiful, looks more like a cover one might find on a romance book, which is not the case here. We moved this image to the interior. (Carol Phillips)

So, there I was with a 50k manuscript that I, frankly, hated.

I moved on to writing the oft-mentioned but seldom-seen Shadow tech Goddess. As I wrote, the candy-coated mess that was HOB stayed in the back of my head like a doomed bug fying in a window pane. But, you know, sometimes, the addition of one or two elements can make all the difference, like that elusive missing piece of a puzzle that, once found, pulls everything else together. I’m not certain when it happened, but that missing piece for HOB hit me–hard–and I went back to the story. 50k words quickly exploded to 170k, enough for two complete books.

With this addition, all the old imagination came back in earnest, in spades. HOB went from a moribund cake-walk with no chiste, to the weirdest, most epic, most sprawling book in the LoE series yet with tons of chiste. I held nothing back… it is all out there and I am so happy to share it with the world at last.

HOB 4

The Wunderlucks, Ernst, Clara, Rusty and Aiken, are a bunch of bullies that are fun to hate. (Carol Phillips)

BLURB:

 

I usually suck at blurbing–it’s a lot harder than you might think, but, this one just sort of wrote itself for HOB

Mysterious and elusive, Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein calls from the ruins of her castle. She dwells in the dark, hiding her face, ravaged by an ancient curse. The only way to break the curse is to win a game called Perlamum. If she loses, she dies. She looks to her Vith kin in the west, begging for help acquiring the all-important pieces she needs to play the game. Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort, his Ne-Countess Sammidoran, and his cousins answer her call. However, collecting the Perlamum pieces for Lady Bloodstein is a deadly game. They must face a host of perils:

-The terrible Black Hat in the city of Waam who knows their every move.

-A hated rival on the planet Xandarr and the bewildering labyrinth of Gods Temple.

-The man from Shook who cannot be killed. -A family of vile bravos from the south.

-The diabolical Dead Men of Mare, nigh invincible creatures straight from an insane nightmare.

To even the odds, Kay and Sam turn to a forgotten graveyard deep in the Telmus Grove, and the great eminence resting there. Can Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein be helped, or, for that matter . . . . . . can she be trusted?

The House of Bloodstein  is out on Amazon–CLICK HERE to go to Amazon.com. I also have several signed copies available. If you’d like one, message me. I’ll even pay the shipping and throw in a little swag.

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

 

 

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The House of Bloodstein

June 10, 2015

This fall, the League of Elder book 10, The House of Bloodstein (HOB) will be published.  It’s the first of two HOB books, this one subtitled: Perlamum, and the second: Mentralysis. The second, already finished, will be out in 2016.

The House of Bloodstein cover.  Painting by Carol Phillips

The House of Bloodstein cover. Painting by Carol Phillips

This little epic began life three years ago. Much as I dislike and complain about NaNoWriMo month as an unproductive and potentially destructive stunt, HOB was, at first, a NaNo project my friends talked into doing.

As with all my books, the finished product is nothing like what I started out with.

My initial thought was to explore the elusive and somewhat austere House of Bloodstein mentioned in previous books and learn a little more about them. The central plot point was a Perlamum tournament between Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein and a mysterious unknown opponent, possibly someone from Xaphan space.

PERLAMUM

In case you’re wondering, Perlamum is a board game rather like chess that is often played between two ladies with a high-stakes wager of some sort placed on the outcome. In a radical departure from chess, the contestants give their game pieces to a person known as the Gamesmaster, who then hides the pieces and sets the date the game is to be played. The pieces can be hidden literally anywhere. The contestants then must recover their pieces using clues left by the Gamesmaster. On the date of the game, the contestants play with what they have collected.

So, with that in mind, the original plot of the book was the courageous House of Blanchefort featuring Lord Kabyl, Lady Sammidoran, and their cousins Sarah and Phillip questing to recover the Perlamum pieces for Lady Chrysania. She then, like a scrappy little trooper, would play her game against incredible odds and come out on top in an inspirational display of the underdog winning out.

Blah!! It read like a bad ABC After School Special, and I wasn’t going to have it like that. I went to work on the story, pouring all the odd bits of my imagination into it, completely revamping the plot and the characters eventually coming up with enough material for two complete books.

No more After School Special.

As you can see from the cover, I think I out-did myself with original story-telling on this one. We’ll meet the Bloodsteins and trouble over their many secrets. We’ll head back to the city of Waam, first seen in Book 4 and stand in the presence of Wilhella Cormand-Grande, the Mad Black Hat of Waam. We’ll trade fists with the House of Wunderluck, bullies from the south, and face the horrid fury of the Dead Men of Mare.

It should be a ton of fun.

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Ewelina Dolzycka

HoB: Waiting for #6

January 8, 2015

Nobody’s perfect.

In Book V: The Temple of the Exploding Head, the heroine of the story, Lady Sammidoran of Monama, is transformed into a homicidal Berserkacide bent on killing her love, Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort. The Berserkacide detested everything Sam loved. It hated “Kay” most of all, and he shot her dead in the ruins of the House of Bodice.

Sam waiting in the Grove at the foot of Carahil's statue (Painting by Fantasio)

Sam waiting in the Grove at the foot of Carahil’s statue (Painting by Fantasio)

Without revealing too much, Sam was returned from the dead about a year later, resuming her relationship with Kay, eventually marrying him in a grand ceremony. Certainly a happy ending.

But wait …

Though it’s not covered in the pages of the book, a lot of things happened in the year or so Sam was in her tomb on Dead Hill. Life, reluctantly, went on. Kay, though heartbroken at the loss of Sam, was an eligible young man, a sought-after prize, and many sought to take his hand. One of the prime suitors, hand selected and approved by Kay’s mother, Countess Sygillis of Blanchefort, was an ex-Black Hat and member of the Xandarr 44 Sisterhood named Domeneau of Holly, or #6 as she was designated within the Xandarr 44 sisterhood.

#6 (sketch by Carol Phillips)

#6 (sketch by Carol Phillips)

She had met Kay briefly while he was visiting the King and Queen of Xandarr. She found him handsome and suitably demure in a Vith-like manner. She made it known to Kay her door would be “unlocked” should he choose to pass through it, though he did not take her up on her offer. Several months later, #6 and a group of her adopted sisters, made the trip to Kana to pray at foot of Carahil‘s statue in the Blanchefort Telmus Grove. The Xandarr 44 had an open invitation to visit the Grove whenever they wished, as they considered Carahil, their savior during the Battle of Xandarr, to be a god. During her visit to the grove, #6 encountered Kay, he wandering alone in the tree-lined passes, lost and still grieving over Sam’s death. Before the day was out, Kay would take solace in #6’s arms. They made love, they would make love many times, #6 occupying Kay’s bed frequently. Once, they made love on Sam’s tomb.

It became a foregone conclusion, that #6 would become the next countess of Blanchefort. She even had a great number of her clothes sent to the castle.

But then, there was Sam, laughing, smiling, back from the dead, ready to resume her life with Kay as if nothing had happened. Sam was in, #6 was out, and she wasn’t happy about it.

As Sam discovered what had transpired while she was dead, she became rather put-off. Sam has quite a possessive and jealous streak and, in her private discussions with Kay’s sister, Lady Kilos of Blanchefort, revealed that she would have hoped that Kay would have grieved over her for the rest of his life. She considered #6 a home-wrecker and a rootless usurping slut. She even thought that forgiving Kay for “cheating” on her while she was dead was a great display of character and charity on her part. Sam found the trunk full of #6’s clothes and sent them back to Xandarr in tatters.

Conversely, #6 developed an intense hatred of Sam, the woman to wouldn’t stay dead. She had been warned in Gods Temple that the spirit of Sam was nearby and would attempt to re-enter the realm of the living. Fearing Sam’s “recorporation”, she snared her tomb with StT’s, intending to re-kill her should Sam rise from her grave. Obviously, her efforts failed terribly.

Sam developed an intense desire to confront and kill #6. She wasn’t proud of those feelings and kept them to herself. She took to creeping out to Carahil’s statue in the Grove to wait and see if #6 showed up to pray. Sometimes she would sit out there all night, waiting in the dark with her claws sharpened.

Sam’s strained relationship with #6 is further explored in LoE Book 10: the House of Bloodstein, coming soon from Loconeal publishing.

copyright 2015: Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Fantasio

The nefarious Black Hats, the scourges of Xaphan Space, have been in an on-going disagreement with their hated rivals of the League, the Sisterhood of Light for ages. In the older days of the AX Time Epoch, the Black Hats regularly met the Sisters on the battlefield like two great armies, the Black Hat slinging their Shadow tech and the Sisters countering with TK.

Eventually, after many defeats and a bit of internal strife, the Black Hats began shying away from direct engagements with the Sisters and commenced a campaign of smaller “harassing actions” against the League. The Black Hats became known and feared for “Snaring” certain places across the League, overrunning them with painted illusions and Shadow tech. However, the Sisters, ever vigilant, became adept at detecting Black Hat snares and eliminating them. The Black Hats were again frustrated.

Going back to the drawing board, the Black Hats finally came up with two forms of Shadow tech that the Sisters could not easily detect of be rid of: Shadow tech Traps and Whamic.

StT Pots were invented by Lady Poe of Blanchefort (Ewelina Dolzycka)

StT Pots were invented by Lady Poe of Blanchefort (Ewelina Dolzycka)

Shadow tech Traps (StT’s) were invented by Ethylrelda of Waam, a Black Hat of immense power. StT’s are tiny, undetectable, and can do virtually anything and go anywhere. StT’s can take on any number of shapes and forms, however the most common appears to be a tiny six-legged “cockroach”-like creature that latches onto a victim and will not let go until it has either run its course or is dispelled by the Sisterhood of Light. StT’s can be left in an given area and there they will wait until they are “triggered”. They can be instantly deadly (sometimes exploding, catching fire, lashing out and cutting) or they can perform “harassing” activities like latching onto a victim and causing misfortune at a measured rate. As they are most often Cloaked into invisibility, a person may carry an StT for a long period of time and not know it. StT’s may also infect devices and machinery and cause them to either malfunction, operate on their own, or provide false information. Persons suffering from extreme bouts of misfortune or bad luck often present themselves to the Sisters to determine if they have been “StT’ed”. They can also self-replicate, making them extremely difficult to be rid of. The Bilson-Gorman are of Bazz was declared “uninhabitable” by the Sisterhood of Light due to the high number of devious and self-replicating StTs placed there by the nortorious Ethyrelda of Waam. Use of StT’s became a Black Hat favorite and became a usual weapon of most of them.

StT POTS:
Lady Poe of Blanchefort, a great innovator in the use of Silver tech, invented a variation of standard StT’s called an StT Pot, which can create vast amounts of programmable StT’s from a small space in a very short amount of time. StT Pots resemble a decorative vase with tiny Silver tech bugs wandering out to the rim. Highly effective, one or two StT Pots can eliminate an entire army in a matter of moments.

As they are made of Shadow tech, StT’s are very difficult to dispel. The Sisterhood of Light is adept at detecting and removing them. Also, a branch of Xaphan Cabalism and certain wavelengths of light have recently been discovered to dissolve or kill StT’s as well

WHAMIC:

Wilhella Cormand-Grande and her ex-husband, Scrib tiffin, Portator of Shook. (Eve Ventrue)

Wilhella Cormand-Grande and her ex-husband, Scrib Tiffin, Portator of Shook. (Eve Ventrue)

Whamic is another Black Hat scourge that is rapidly growing in League space. Whamic is a form of viral spam holo-mail that does not attack your terminal or hardware, instead, it attacks the person viewing it. The “Mad Black Hat of Waam” Wilhella Cormand-Grande of Waam is the known inventor of Whamic in 0003002AX. Whamic is enfused with an altered form of Shadow tech and is capable of being transported holographically. When opened, Whamic may do virtually anything. Monsters may jump out of of holo cones or terminals and attack, invisible demons might take up residence and cause no end of grief, or one might be hopelessly mesmerized into performing activities not of one’s own making. The Black Hats’ usual antagonists, the Sisterhood of Light, were completely unprepared for these holo-attacks and had to turn to the Science Ministry for assistance. The Science Ministry was largely successful in purging most bits of Whamic from the holoways, however, some of it still gets through. As a counter-measure, the Sisters threatened to assassinate Wilhella, and, being somewhat of a coward, she greatly abated her Whamic attacks. Unlike StT’s, mastery of creating Whamics was held exclusively by Wilhella.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue and Ewelina Dolzycka

Shadow tech

August 21, 2011

Sygillis of Metatron attempts to save the life of Captain Davage using Silver tech (Carol Phillips)

Shadow tech is a common feature in all of the League of Elder books. Long declared illegal by the Sisterhood of Light, it is a poorly understood thing in the League, subject of much speculation and, in some quarters, dread.

Shadow tech is an arcane substance. It is said to be material from another universe or dimension, filling that dimension like ether. A fairly common substance, it appears as a black, brown or silver semi-solid material, known variously as Implosser (brown), Shadow tech (black) and Silver tech (silver). In all forms it is thick and malleable rather like hot tar. It reacts to the touch of living things. In its brown Implosser form, it is a harmless, inert substance. The black form of Shadow tech is very dangerous due to its toxicity and should not be touched if at all possible. The Silver form is quite lively and beneficial, feeling “fizzy” to the touch.

The Implosser form is its basic, most common state. Strong emotion, such as anger, hatred and pain turn the Implosser to black. Likewise positive emotions such as love and happiness turn it silver.

In all its forms, Shadow tech is very versatile. It can be cast as pure energy, Black Hats have been known to knock down buildings, destroy high-flying vessels and kill whole armies with a mere sweep of their hand. It can also be formed into shapes, into complex machines and into the forms of living beings. Once formed, Shadow tech is very difficult to dispel, with only the Sisterhood of Light able to dispel it with any certainty.

Lady Poe of Blanchefort--a well known Shadow tech Female surrounded by her Silver tech familiars (Carol Phillips)

Certain people of the correct genetic disposition, both male and female, are able to harness and manipulate Shadow tech. A Shadow tech Female is a woman who may manipulate and cast Shadow tech, bending it to her will. No male has ever been known to be able to manipulate Shadow tech, though Shadow tech Males may use its energy in various ways and pass on the trait to their daughters. Shadow tech grows within Shadow tech Females at a constant rate and will eventually kill her if it is not released in a timely fashion. Shadow tech Females are extremely rare and all spring from the Vith line of Subra of the Mark, the first recorded Shadow tech female is history. They are always marked with the Shadowmark, a tatoo-like intersection of lines wrapping around their right eye.

Most Shadow tech females are located in Xaphan Space. Countess Sygillis of Blanchefort, Lady Poe of Blanchefort, Bethrael of Moane and Duchess Torrijayne of Oyln are known Shadow tech Females in the League.

USES OF SHADOW TECH: Shadow tech Females can manipulate Shadow tech with great skill, using it to perform any number of desired functions.

SHADOW TECH TEMPLES: Shadow tech temples are structures, and sometimes whole cities made of Shadow tech usually found in Xaphan Space. Such places are often covered in illusion and cannot be detected. Being inside a Shadow tech temple can affect one’s well-being and sanity very quickly.

A one-mile tall Shadow tech Monster terrorizes Xandarr (Carol Phillips)

SHADOW TECH MONSTERS/FAMILIARS: Shadow tech monsters are very powerful and nearly impossible to destroy. The best way to defeat a Shadow tech monster is either with more Shadow tech, or by the Sisterhood of Light. Being very complex, it can take a very long time to create a Shadow tech monster. Most practitioners have in their repertoire a monster that they have practiced creating to the point where they may summon one in a matter of seconds, these are known as Shadow tech Familiars.

SHADOW TECH TRAPS (StT’s): Shadow tech Traps are very dangerous and persistent menaces. They are very small undetectable bits of Shadow tech that have been pre-programmed to perform any number of nefarious functions. Like a flea or tick, they lie in wait and latch on when an unsuspecting person happens by. An StT can remain attached to a person for years, causing them all manner of grief, or they can simply slay that person at a pre-determined time. The Sisterhood of Light is always on the lookout for StT’s, and never failing to find them in abundance. The island of Bilson-Gorman on Bazz was declared uninhabitable by the Sisters due to the persistence of StTs left there.

RUMBOB: Rumbob is a quantity of Shadow tech mixed with clay or straw or some other type of common material. Rumbob is easily infused with emotions and can influence the emotions of those coming into contact with it.

WHAMIC: Whamic is a form of Shadow tech that may be attached to holomail messages and sent across the skyways. Any person opening the Whamic could find themselves facing sudden death.

copyright 2011 Ren Garcia

OF ALL THE DOUR AND RATHER DANGEROUS RANKS OF BLACK HATS, WILHELLA CORMAND-GRANDE OF WAAM IS TRULY UNIQUE.

"Wilhella Cormand-Grande and her first husband Scrib Tiffin" by Eve Ventrue

Black Hats can usually be counted on to be rather quiet and unobtrusive, rarely straying from their Shadow tech temples unless called by the Black Abbess. They live in various Xaphan cities, but are never a part of them, like a nest of dangerous wasps that is generally left alone. Such, however, is not the case with Wilhella Cormand-Grande. Known as the “Mad Black Hat of Waam”, she has a definite personality and way about her, she often contradicts the edicts of the Black Abbess and has been known to talk her way out of a fight with the Sisterhood of Light on many occasions. She is a scoundrel, a coward, a hedonist and a harlot-supreme.

A lover of the bright lights and social scenes of Waam, Wilhella forces her way into the light of day and demands the people there pay her heed. She contributes frequent editorials and other writings to the local media. When she chooses to exit her temple and walk the streets with her Shadow tech entourage she often leaves a trail of dead chefs and mutilated tailors in her wake. She loves good food and fine clothes … and she loves killing people too.

She inhabits a high-rise temple in Waam-Core. Her temple sits squarely in the center of a busy highway, forcing traffic to go around. She often throws lavish parties at her temple and invites guests from all over to attend. It is not wise to refuse an invitation from the Mad Black Hat of Waam.

Wilhella invented a new type of Shadow tech known as a Whamic. A Whamic is a type of Shadow tech that may be transmitted along the skywaves. It is most often associated with junk e-mail messages that come to life, jump out of the holo screen and attack the opener. She eventually refined Whamic to the point where she could send them via hand-written letters as well, where the ink on the page could come to life and kill.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Eve Ventrue

IN THEIR MANY YEARS OF UNRESOLVED CONFLICT, the League’s Sisterhood of Light has generally had its way with their greatest rivals, the Xaphan sect of Black Hats. The Sisters have won most of the set-piece battles with the Black Hats over the centuries, leading them to shun open warfare with the Sisters when at all possible.

"Ethylrelda of Waam" by Carol Phillips

One notable exception is the great Black Hat known as Ethylrelda of Waam. Stalwart on the battlefield and somewhat innovative in her tactics, Ethylrelda has not only survived her many direct encounters with the Sisters, she has won many of the engagements as well.

Ethylrelda is also well-known for facing and killing the Grand Abbess of Kentaro on the plains of Gallia on Bazz. The 25 Grand Abbesses of the Sisterhood are often considered to be invincible, and for one to be killed is a testament to Ethylrelda’s power.

She is one of the oldest Black Hats known to exist, with her history going back nearly 500 years. She has made the city of Waam on the planet Gothan her home for her entire history. Her temple is a gigantic sphere rising three thousand feet high–it is often referred to as the Black Pearl of Waam. It also rolls at a slow but steady rate southward, across the eastern side of Waam-Core into the outlying municipalities, destroying everything in its path. The city of Waam withers around it as it moves. The temple is windowless and has only one point of entry or exit–a large archway that always remains at the bottom of the sphere no matter how it rolls. The smooth exterior of the temple reflects the surroundings like a crystal ball. It is said one’s true self can be seen in its reflection.

Over 100 Black Hats lives in and around Waam, each commanding a hoard of Hulgismen as personal guards and warriors and an order of Spectre henchmen to do their legwork. The Order of the Yard serve Ethylrelda directly.

Occasionally the lesser and younger Black Hats emerge from their temples and create chaos on the streets, all except Ethylrelda who is rarely seen outside of her temple. Those who have had the occasion to see her indicate that she is a tiny woman, not even five feet tall, slender, wrapped up in black cloth and wearing a tattered scarlet robe and the usual featureless mask. She is sometimes said to stand at the entrance to her temple gazing out at the city beyond, at all the things she as a Black Hat can never have.

copyright 2011 Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

The Xandarr 44 are a sorority of ex-Black Hats first introduced in Book II of the LoE series, The Hazards of the Old Ones.

"King Balor I and the Xandarr 44" by Carol Phillips

Twenty years prior, they were part of a massive contingent of Black Hats sent to Xandarr with the intention of destroying the planet. They were mostly low-level or cast-offs specifically trained and sent there with the probable notion that they would be killed in battle. They were given minimal training as Hammers and stationed under Cloak in Xandarr Keep and awaited the signal to attack.

When Captain Davage, Countess Sygillis and his contingent arrived to investigate Xandarr Keep, the Black Hats sprung their trap and attacked, engaging them is a heated battle in the Great Hall of the Keep. They wore special goggles meant to protect them from the power of Captain Davage’s Sight, the only thing known at the time that could break the Black Abbess’ control over them.

As it turned out, forty-four of the Black Hats, instead of being killed, were carried out of the battle area and freed of the Black Hat’s clutch by Carahil, a Silver tech Nargal entity on his way to becoming a god. Lost and confused, many of them wounded, they huddled in the northern area of the Keep, danger closing in all around them. At the last moment, they were rescued and brought underground by King Balor I of Xandarr, who was hiding in the tunnels beneath the Keep.

In the aftermath of the battle, Balor nurtured and sheltered the forty-four lost Black Hats, helping them assimilate to life beyond the Black Abbess’ reaches. He fell in love with one of their number and made her his queen, Zoladerra I. The rest soon grew to love their adopted home. They were given a large villa in the center of Xandarr Core, and there they took up residence, growing their hair out and wearing the light, veil-like garments usual for Xandarr.

Charm of the Xandarr 44, by Justine Marie Hedman

They formed a Sisterhood, calling themselves the Xandarr 44, and began wearing silver charms about their necks in the shape of a seal in tribute to Carahil, the little god who saved them.

In the days following the attack on Xandarr, the power of the 44 was greatly needed, as many Xaphan factions sought to subjugate Xandarr and enslave it. Baroness Camilla of Sorrander and her on-again, off-again lover Chole of Zoran, were the most frequent and determined antagonists. Xandarr, trying to rebuild, was extremely vulnerable to attack and destabilization, yet, time and time again, the 44 thwarted Camilla’s plans and kept Xandarr safe.

The 44 fully embrace the exotic and rather uninhibited ways of the adopted home, occasionally creating stirs when visiting other worlds. Though a few married off and left Xandarr, most remained loyal to their sisterhood and live in their villa. They often visit Castle Blanchefort on Kana to pay tribute at the birthsite of Carahil, their patron god. Each mamber has a number embossed on their charm. It is not understood outside of the sisterhood how they determined who got which number.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips