18 Days and Counting...
Readers and Friends,
Priorities differ from person to person, and they change with the passage of time. Many of the things that were once important to me as a child, as a teenager, and even into early adulthood no longer hold as much significance to me. This is not an indictment of my younger self, or of anyone who still finds value in those things. It is merely a reflection of personal change prompted by life experience and the passage of time.
The closer I get to the release of STORMSEND, the more I have been focusing upon setting goals and time management, guided by my current short-term and long-term priorities. Becoming an author is a lot more work than I ever anticipated when I set out to write my first book, but I am determined to give myself the best chance I can to succeed.
A few weeks back, I came across an interesting article on the blog of Amna Sadaf, a fellow freelance writer, that inspired me to write about priorities in this issue of the Freewilds Gazette. The article is called “Avoid 5 Types of People to Detoxify Your Life.” After I read that article, I recognized that as my priorities have realigned to accommodate the pursuit of my dreams of being a successful independent author, the more discerning I should become in the voices I embrace, the advice I accept, and the people I associate with.
Too much of my energy has been given to the wrong people, and not enough of an effort had been placed upon ensuring that the influences I invite into my life are positive, sincere, and pure of intent. I have learned a few lessons over several years, and some of those lessons have come at a great cost, but I do not regret anything I have endured to arrive at this moment.
Being a pushover does not make you a good person.
Setting boundaries does not make you a bad person.
If you are endeavoring to achieve a dream, you owe it to yourself to place that dream… to place you… at the top of your list of priorities. That might mean rubbing some people the wrong way, at times, and you need to be okay with that. It might mean having to weather the stings and barbs of a few casually spoken, passively aggressive judgmental remarks. That would be an example of a toxin in your life… a voice that serves no purpose but to sow doubt and breed shame in you… and that drops those people right to the bottom of your list of priorities.
You will eventually find that the people that stay high up on that list are your team.
This isn’t about building an echo chamber, mind you. You need exposure to alternative viewpoints, but remember, always, that this is your dream. You get to assess which critiques to embrace as constructive and which to dismiss as toxic to the realization of your dream.
Do for you… and do so with as much conviction as you do for others. Believe in your own value not out of ego or pride, but because this is the only life you are ever going to live in this world… because your dreams are worth chasing, and if anyone is going to have your back, it should be you.
For whatever it is worth, whatever your dream may be, I believe in it… and I believe in you.
And now... a character profile and interview with the main protagonist of STORMSEND, Lukarde Alfans
“Conspiracy,” Lukarde grumbled, shaking his head as he stared into the face of his corrupt former colleague. “There is certainly a conspiracy, Ed . . . and I am going to bring every last one of those treacherous butchers into the light of day. I swear . . . I will.”
- Stormsend, Chapter 3: Buying Time
Name: Lukarde Remonde Alfans
Physical Description: 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and weighing just over 200 lbs, Lukarde was once quite fit and physically impressive, especially for a man well into his forties. His recent troubles have left him in a sorry physical state. He has been in exile and on the run for several months, leading him to neglect his overall health. His slightly curly dark auburn hair has begun to thin a bit and gray at his temples and wiry beard. His eyes are a deep almond brown and while most would still consider him quite handsome, few who knew the man Lukarde Alfans once was would recognize him, anymore.
Birthplace: Lac Ouesforte
Ethnicity: Half Nohrlander (father), Half Muhari (mother)
(Author's note: Nohrlanders are roughly similar to those of North-Eastern European/Scandinavian origin, and Muhari are akin to people of Northern-African/Arabic descent)
Species: Human (he may be at least partly Aurekish, as the men in his family tend to have unusually large hands and feet, which is an indicator of having Aurek blood lineage)
(Author's note: Aurek are to Aelves what Neanderthal were to Humans in our world. They are like the Orcs in other works of fantasy fiction, but with a more distinctive link to this world's version of Elves)
Occupation: Former Detective Constable in service to the gentry of Ollgarten, Borough of Viridia, Capital City of the Eminent Empire. Since he was framed for murder, he has been in exile and a fugitive from the law.
Lukarde, where did you grow up? What was it like, there?
I was raised by my father's aunt and uncle at their pear orchard in Sylverton, a hamlet south of Viridia. It was... better than I gave it credit for. The older I got, after moving to the city and leaving the countryside behind, the more I came to appreciate the life my great aunt and great uncle provided me. Sylverton is a sleepy farm community, and most of the folks who are born there never leave, nor do they ever feel the need to. Perhaps if I hadn't been born in Lac Ouesforte and left there in Sylverton by my parents, I would have been content to grow onions or garlic... or pigs, maybe. Always did like pigs. Loyal as they come.
What do you do, now?
That's a story, my friend, and not one for the faint-hearted. I was a constable by trade... a servant of the public trust and protector of the gentry. Life was good, despite the fact that most of the time my vocation had me dealing with some of the worst sorts imaginable. True monsters needn't have horns, fangs, or claws. Not in my experience. True monsters look just like you or I. It is how they think... how they act... that is what sets them apart. I just realized I didn't really answer your question. In short, I am focusing on survival and hoping to set right some horrid wrongs before my time on this world is over.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
Hah... adventure, you say? I hesitate to call it that, but... I have been spending the majority of my time wallowing in self-pity and licking my wounded pride. No, no... it's true. Better to admit it and face it than to deny it and let myself fester and rot from the inside-out, right? I had an encounter with a lawman... a man who I believed may have been intent upon my arrest and incarceration. Meeting with this man could well have led me to the gallows, but I chose to take the risk and hold fast to hope... which was something I had thought to have all but lost. As it turned out, the man was carrying a missive, a letter written by a stranger far to the south... a knight of the Castillands in the heart of the bloody Freewilds, of all places! That letter... well, if there's still adventure to be found in my life, it will be because of the words writ upon that scrip of vellum parchment.
What was the scariest thing you have ever encountered?
...I... I would rather not talk about it.
What is the worst thing about your recent experiences?
Learning how easily the people I have long known could be turned against me... convinced that I would be capable of the most heinous and despicable of crimes. ...Okay, I was hesitant to answer your last question, about the scariest thing I have ever encountered, but I will say this much. I called upon every inch and whit of my knowledge and experience as an investigator to try to bring to light a cabal of dangerous women and men... the Cult of Ebon... and the closer I came to victory, the more desperate and deadly these insidious, savage devils proved to be. I lost someone. Deandra. I cannot say how... for to describe the state they left her in would be to spread to you the same nightmares that haunt my every waking moment. They framed me for her murder... a woman I had begun to... I cannot say more. Please forgive me. Some wounds... they do not scar over but remain fresh and raw.
What is the best thing about your recent experiences?
...One of the locals who frequents the tavern I have been spending a lot of my time in... she told me I looked like hell. Bought the mead in my mug and the next round to come. Pitied me. She made me look in the mirror for the first time in... Divines, months... and see for myself. She was right. I left that last round of mead on the bar counter and haven't touched a drop since... hard as it has been to avoid. I think they call that hitting rock bottom. Sad, ey? Best thing about my recent experiences has been the bounce at the bottom.
Whom, or what, do you really hate?
They call themselves the Cult of Ebon. They are responsible for at least seven deaths and twice again as many dismemberments and vicious assaults. They are a sect of demon-worshippers. Witches and warlocks, the lot... and they have destroyed my life. I always thought myself above hatred, but no more. I despise them.
What is your favorite pastime?
I love to draw. I'm not particularly talented, mind you... but that isn't the point for me. There is something rather peaceful about a blank piece of paper or parchment... seeing that something amid the nothing and bringing it into the light of day.
What does the future hold for you?
Vindication. Justice. Only then can I ever be at peace. If I'm to have a future at all... the Cult of Ebon must pay for what they have taken from me... for the lives they have destroyed.
Can you share a secret with us? Something you have never told anyone else?
Despite a twenty-year career in law enforcement, and many deadly encounters with a dangerous, all-too-often violent criminal element, I have never taken a person's life. I may have been the only constable in Ollgarten who hadn't. I had cause to, several times, but I always managed to prevent myself from crossing that line. I pray that when all is said and done, I can hold to that.
This is part of a series of newsletters that I will be providing both as an e-mail to readers who subscribe and as posts to the blog on my website: freewilds.net
By now, you've had a chance to check out the free Special Preview eBook of Stormsend (but if not, here's one last chance to do so!)
Now, here's a chance to get the whole book for free! Sign up to be an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) Reader and I will give you the complete STORMSEND in Digital eBook format (PDF, ePub, or Mobi). All I ask is that after you read the book, consider giving me an honest (and hopefully positive!) review. Follow the link, below, to grab STORMSEND for free! This offer expires on March 31st, the day the book launches.
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A killer from his past threatens his future.
Will a decade-long chase end in justice or disaster?
Special Agent Aidan O’Reilly is haunted by the one that got away. And even after another year of silence, he still can’t shake his failure to nail the sociopathic madman responsible for over fifty shocking murders. But his guilt becomes a shot at redemption when the murderer returns, naming the detective in a personal note pinned to a fresh kill.
With meticulously clean crime scenes and a nosy reporter on the loose, O’Reilly and his new partner scramble to uncover the next target’s location. But when the psychotic fiend strikes close to the embattled FBI man’s home, O’Reilly is up against a clock counting down to a very intimate death.
Can he catch the infamous butcher before the body count rises?
A Killer's Mark is the pulse-pounding first novel in the O’Reilly Files serial killer thriller series. If you like strong protagonists, wild twists and turns, and powerful reveals, then you’ll love Angela Kay’s adrenaline-laced story.
Breaking News: A spooky black dog is eating Londoners
A bite size story on the origins of Jameson Parker.
Jameson Parker is a turncoat and a coward, at least as far as his fellow wizards think. As his very first case for the government that oppresses his people, he's about to find out that magic is dangerous and sometimes practitioners need to be held to account by those in the know.
And few people know more than the Dark Lord of Hampshire.
Dragged out of a life of megalomania, rehabilitated and put to work on the mean streets of London to track down a mythological killer, this is Jameson Parker at his youngest and, some would say, his best. As far as Whitehall itself thinks, however, this is just giving him the rope he needs to hang himself. Unless he can prove them wrong.
Jameson Parker returns in Hair of the Dog, a bitesize way to dip your toes in the Warlocks of Whitehall series, a world of magic and politics perfect for fans of Hellblazer, The Dresden Files, The Laundry, and other urban fantasy mainstays.
The Warlocks of Whitehall series starts with LORE AND ORDER, takes a sidestep into the past for HAIR OF THE DOG and continues in RED PEACE.
Michael Paul Scott - Author