The Drowned Tower, on Lisa Burton Radio

Don’t touch that dial. You’ve found Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that interviews the characters you love to read about. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my special guest today is Jacques Dace. He’s currently locked in a tower under the sea. “Welcome to the show, Jacques.”

“Just Jack actually, and it’s a pleasure.”

“Alright, Jack. Tell our listeners how you came to be locked up in, I believe it’s called the Drowned Tower.”

“Oh, that wonderful place. If you must know, my parents are both… important people I suppose is the word, though busy works just as well. Regardless, that doesn’t change the fact that there are so many capable of using magic in this world—or practitioners as we call them. But with so many greenhorns, there aren’t enough Masters to properly teach them all. So, my parents had the brilliant idea of sending me to the Drowned Tower for better private training. There are a ton of Masters there that would kill for the chance to personally mentor the son of Leonas Dace.”

“Learning things is good. Locking you up sounds a bit extreme though. Is this for your own safety, because it’s under water?”

“Ha, I wish! Those old codgers in the Drowned Tower’s Assembly are just so afraid of us deserting and doing something awful that they decided to restrict our freedom. It’s baseless fear of the unknown. Nothing more, everything less. You should see the rest of the practitioners in the Tower! All pale-skinned and petrified by the sun.

“Though we are allowed out sometimes… some of us anyway. Mostly those specifically chosen by the Assembly to help deal with their… problems. I’d love to elaborate on this, but—I can’t. Confidentiality and all. The Assembly will have my neck if I do, and I’m already shoulder-deep in the wrong side with them.

“But really, of all the places my parents could send me, they choose the Drowned Tower! Was the Weeping Grove not an option? Or the Red Veld? At least they allow some semblance of freedom.

“Creator, those two have more than a few screws loose. I swear I’ll change my world as soon as I get the chance to return to the Diamond Alps. That’s the only place you can get anything done in this godforsaken world.”

“Why don’t you just sneak out and go to one of the other schools?”

“If only it was that easy. A long time ago this practitioner named… well, let’s just call him, ‘Old Bag A,’ so I’m not reprimanded for directly slandering his name. Anyway, he made this nifty little curse called, the Demar Spell. It’s a dream for all stalkers out there. Let’s the caster know where the casted is at all times. It’s used by all the schools, though some use it more often than others.

“I won’t go into the specifics about how the spell works, but I’ll tell you this—in the Tower, running off without one is enough to warrant a call to the Hunters. They round you up and send you down to the lower floors where the old dungeons are. I hate that place. It smells like old fear and iron. There are rats there the size of my head. They like to gnaw on your clothes while you sleep.

“Run off enough times and you’ll get sent away to a… <swallows>… special place.”

“It can’t be all that bad. Maybe the Drowned Tower is a really good school, too. Surely you graduate eventually and get to leave. Think of it more like a stint in the Army, or in the Tower’s case, Navy.”

“It’s a good school alright—for a certain kind of practitioner that is. The only escape from the Drowned Tower is by becoming a Master or receiving an invitation to the Diamond Alps up north. Trust me when I say that there are those that have spent their lives trying and failing to even be noticed by the Elders in the Alps. Those demented old bags can’t even stop squabbling long enough to notice the rest of the world around them. All they do is sit, smile, and lie to each other. I’ve vowed to never be like that. I don’t lie.”

“Never?”

“Never.”

“Not even a tiny kind of joke lie?”

“Never.”

“Let’s test that, shall we? Do you think I’m cute?”

“Ye—Wait, what? For the love of… what kind of question is… how did we even get here? <cough> Okay, fine, just to prove that I never lie… yes. Yes, I do.”

“My bio says you have a very close relationship with someone named Sylvie. What do you think she’d say about that?”

Vaklas in an den! Those rumors again! Where’d you hear that one from? That turkey, Tiv? Or no… I bet it was from those new practitioners they brought in yesterday. Gossip travels faster than light.

“Really though, us… close? That’s rich. Sylvie has the talent to change things, yet decides to remain as languid as a fish that never goes against the current. It’s… infuriating. She has a good head on her shoulders though, knows when to draw near and when to back down, and when she is interested in something, her focus tunnels into the immedi—anyway, I’m just helping her figure something out about this Heartstone she found topside a few days ago.

“She didn’t even know what it was at first. I don’t blame her though. The one she found is creepy. There’s… something strange inside it. A woman? Or just her conscience? I can’t exactly describe what it is, but then again I don’t want to. It makes Her seem more… real. She knows things though. Old, ancient truths that could spin the world on its head.”

“Do you think you can trust Her, meaning the spirit in the stone?”

“I don’t know. But it’s not really something I want to put my trust in. I mean, a spirit trapped in some common stone, promising me knowledge and power in exchange for—it just sounds too good to be true.

“Besides, what’s the point of achieving something if I don’t do it with my own strength? I’ve been training for a long time now, and it’s finally time for me to put those skills to the test. The Drowned Tower’s been alive with talk about the Elder from the north that arrived in a few ticks back. They say it’s for a Choosing. Those that get chosen will accompany him back to the Diamond Alps. I’m not going to miss this chance.

“So you kids are going to butter up this Elder, in hopes that he’ll take you away as the champion of this Choosing. I think you have a math problem. There’s two of you and only one winner. How are you going to get around that?”

“Well, the number of people that gets chosen actually depends on the Elder and the Drowned Tower’s Assembly. It can range anywhere between all of us to none of us. In any case, I’ve already told Sylvie about my plans, and honestly, I have no idea what’s running through that head of hers. She claims to be uninterested in the whole affair, yet she plans to run anyway. Granted, she was ordered to by—ugh! Never mind. I don’t even want to think about him.

“All I can say for now is that I’m helping Sylvie figure out the secret behind that stone and waiting endlessly for the Elder to call those he thinks capable of fulfilling his task. Patience isn’t exactly my… strongest quality. And I think that damn Elder is stalling on purpose. I can only guess the kind of job he’ll give. Hopefully nothing too… bloody. Thelarius knows we’ve got enough of that on our hands.

“Personally, I’m rooting for a simple face-off against the others or something that’ll allow us to go topside. This place is suffocating.”

“I wish you guys the best of luck. Maybe a new school would change your perspective of the world. Any closing thoughts for our listeners today?”

“If any of you can hear that thing in the Heartstone, give me or Sylvie a shout, will you? Spirits are apparently selective with their audience, and just for the record, I… or rather we aren’t insane. It’s really there! And it’s awfully annoying. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it a thousand more times: I don’t lie.”

“You can find out whether Jack and Sylvie actually manage to change their world by picking up a copy of Heartstone, The Drowned Tower. I’ll include all the pertinents on the website.

“Don’t forget to use those sharing buttons after the show. I’m sure Jack and Nicholas would appreciate it, and they’d do the same for you.

“If you’d like one of your characters to appear on Lisa Burton Radio, drop me a line. I always need guests. For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

Book Blurb:

“If the future was bared before you, would it still be yours?

If the past could chase you, would you run from it?
If the world crumbled tonight, would you carve your own?”

Freedom is out of the question for practitioners of the Institute, and any supporters otherwise are dealt with violently. A system Sylvie Sirx neither refutes, nor endorses—born from an enviable family, talented in her skills, and entirely too content with her position, her path has always been a straight one… until now.

Her qualifications backfire when an elder from the north descends upon her home for a Choosing. He calls upon the Drowned Tower’s most sought after practitioners for a simple job that ends in blood, and then Sylvie’s blissful world erupts. She finds herself in the company of the Elementalist, Jacques Dace, an insufferable but deadly enthusiast of personal reform. Together, they’re swept into a spiral of powerful magic and ancient grudges. Where truth bends, stones whisper secrets of the past, and their home lies at the heart of what could very well be Ferus Terria’s next recorded war.

And for once, she is forced to choose a side, learning for herself what it means to master fate.

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Author Bio:

NICHOLAS RINTH lives lakeside in the southern graces of Savannah, Georgia. Where he spends his time fantasizing about other worlds and working on his next novel.

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Hello, Writing Cabin

I tromped into the writing cabin and caught Lisa unprepared.

“I thought you were reading and stuff. Let me just tidy up real fast.”

The office looked emaculate and I told her so. “What kind of mess can one robot girl make while I'm out? You don't even have to cook.”

“Dust, there's still dust even if I'm completely gone.”

“Suit yourself. I finished my backlog of projects, and decided to try a bit of writing today. You know, just to see if I remember how.”

Lisa broke into action, making coffee with one hand while she took out the Swiffer and went over the floor with the other one. She took a dust cloth and ran ahead of me to my writing desk.

The raven of Doubt glared at me from his perch. He bobbed up and down a few times in excitement.

“Not yet, dude. I'm not doing any editing today. It's time to move the Yak Guy ahead.” He knows The Enhanced League is ready to start editing, but I don't feel rushed to dive in yet.

I started by rereading my last few chapters. I made a small correction or two, and Doubt gave me the stink eye. Lisa showed up with coffee about the time I started writing.

I wrote one short chapter and it was kind of draining. It came in slightly over 3000 words. I don't know if it's because I hadn't written in a while, or because of the content. This chapter involved the end of the yak. He's been such a central character to the story it was hard to see him go.

“I'm really going to miss him,” Lisa said. “He's been at the cabin for a long time.”

“He has, and the next go round maybe we'll see the end of yak guy, Ted.”

“Then what?”

“Then, you probably have to pose for more posters and plan for a worldwide blog tour – or two.”

“That's always fun, then I'm going to use some vacation time.” She opened the window and let in some fresh air. Doubt took the opportunity to stretch his wings at the same time. She sighed as the yak crossed the meadow and headed for the snowy peaks. “He played a mean game of chess, you know.”

“Really, how did he move the pieces?”

“He told me the moves, and I moved them for him.”

“Kind of like he was playing against the computer then?”

“Not kind of, he was playing against me, my processors, and memory. He won more than a few too.”

“Maybe you can get him to come back for your radio show someday. Did you put his data in your Rolodex?”

Please, I'm completely electronic, you should know that by now, and yeah, I have his contact data.”

I checked email, and answered blog comments while she stared out the window.

“So what happens next?”

“Yak guy has to finish his journey. After that, I have a couple of novellas I want to try. That's how it will work out in a perfect world. They could be long short stories or short novels depending on the experiment.”

“What are we talking here? I might need to buy some new outfits for these stories.”

“One is a kind of paranormal superhero origin story.”

“Is that the one with all the hats?”

“Yes, ma'am.”

“So you'll want the paranormal office then.”

“Absolutely. The other one is a spin on the lifeboat story. It has a science fiction background, but they're stuck in an underground bunker for a specific amount of time. The problem is they can't leave, and the antagonist is in there with them.”

“Got it, I already earmarked a bunch of hats and can get them ordered. I wonder what scream queens are wearing this season?”

“I'm sure you'll figure it out before we start. We have to give yak guy some closure first.”

The enchanted beer horns sounded off and came running. They curled around my ankles like a pair of cats.

“Hi guys, I missed you too.”

Lisa said, “I got a nice doppelbock from McCall Brewing for you to try. It's called Dunce Cap.”

“Huh! Did you pick that specifically for me?”

“Of course, I know doppelbock is your favorite.”

Woosh!”

“Don't woosh me, I know what you meant. Do you want the beer or not?”

“Of course, besides, these guys won't stop honking unless we fill them up.”

***

For those of you so inclined, I opened a Pinterest account earlier this year. I started a couple of boards called The Hat and Estivation that relate to my upcoming projects. You can check them out here.

 

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Look What I Won! @stacitroilo @virgilante #books #amreading

So glad Teri likes her prizes. I’m giving away more stuff on the 21st, so make sure you stop over.

Books and Such

If you read my latest Downsizing the TBR Pile post (here), you know that because of the Story Empire Roadshow, I’m probably changing the title of that feature to How Many Books Can I Buy Before My TBR Crushes Me – only shorter.  I’m open to suggestions.  But not only did I acquire some fantastic reads, I also won some goodies!

I won this notepad from Staci Troilo’s newest collection, Medici Protectorate series.  Although I haven’t started those books yet, I’ve read the first book in her Cathedral Lake series and have the other two in the TBR.  If you’re a fan of romance/paranormal/suspense, check out Medici Protectorate.  Swing by Staci’sblog and say hi – and maybe add to your own TBR while you’re there.

If you’re a frequent flyer over at Craig Boyack’s blog, a certain robot lady depicted on this mug needs no introduction.  If…

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April 19, 2017 · 9:50 AM

Ready for the work week

My last day at the office was Wednesday. I have to go back tomorrow. Admittedly, I took this time off to pay my debt as an author. This might come as a surprise to many of you readers, but it will make sense to the authors out there. I'll try to give the rest of you a glimpse into the secret club today.

I need proofreaders, critique groups, beta readers, blog hosts, and reviews to make my books a success. There isn't a kind of shop where you can go get all of that. Being self published is often a matter of supporting your hobby without going too far into the hole. The big dream is to turn a profit someday.

The truth is you can pay for many of those services, but it gets kind of expensive after a while. This is why we all tend to help each other. At a bare minimum, we are a fresh set of eyes who can spot the difference between hear and here in a manuscript. It's hard to spot these kind of things in your own work. There are also times when we know exactly what we're describing, but readers aren't getting that vision. Different eyes will raise a red flag at these points.

I take advantage of this kind of help, so it's important to provide it in turn. We don't typically share project for project. It's more like a pool of authors who will do what they can – when they can. I rarely get the same people from project to project, but in the long run – they are the same group.

Most of my time off was spent paying my authorly debts. The rest was spent on other duties, just like at the workplace. I'm proud to say I finished my last authorly project at about 1:30 today. Then I hauled off all the fruit tree branches, and declared myself done.

I feel a bit like that guy at the top of the post, but I also feel pretty darned good about it. I got to read some awesome stories, some for a review, some as a beta reader.

The good news is that my metaphorical office is clear. On my next day off I can return to my own novel. I'm kind of excited about it to tell you the truth.

I'll spend the rest of the evening catching up with most of the blogs I neglected to read. After that, it's off to bed early enough to go to my workplace all fresh and ready for work.

One of these days I'll have to take some time off for the sake of time off. It could happen, someday.

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A small chores update

Honestly, I'm starting to wear out on chores. I've been away from the paycheck job since Wednesday at quitting time, and don't have to go back until Tuesday. During that time, I've hit the chore list hard.

I'm not embarrassed to say I didn't get as much accomplished today. I managed to get my critique work done for our meeting on Thursday night. I put it in my truck, because that's my insurance policy against forgetting it when I need it.

What I didn't post about was pruning fruit trees. The sap is up now, so I stopped at about 2/3 to 3/4 of what I want to remove. After the trees adjust, I can trim the rest. They're all in a big pile in the back yard, and my son and I are hauling them to the dump tomorrow. Part of the peach tree must weigh 400 pounds, so I'm glad to have an extra back involved. This stuff takes time too, but it didn't do much to advance my author agenda.

Today, I worked on my beta reading project. I'm about 2/3 of the way finished now. If everything works out well, I may finish and deliver my notes tomorrow. (Maybe)

I also assembled and scheduled Thursday's Lisa Burton Radio. I have two other interviews out there in cyberspace, but it's Sunday night and the first guy finished became the first guy scheduled.

Honestly, I could have hit it hard and finished everything else, but I'm wearing a bit thin. I caught up with recordings of S.H.I.E.L.D., and don't regret it a bit. ABC scheduled this beyond reality for a working man, so I have to record the episodes and watch them later.

My other son and I also stayed up late every night playing Diablo III, and we had a great time. I think my wife is wearing out on us, but she's the one who surprised me with an X-Box. (So there.)

My so called vacation was a lot of work, mixed in with a bit of fun. We even worked two date nights into the mix. The good news is my path is cleared, or will be very soon, and my next day off may let me work on my novel.

Hope all of you had a Happy Easter.

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Ah, Spring…

Ah Spring, the grass is green and we've even cut it once. The birds are singing, my fruit trees are all in bloom with honeybees visiting the blossoms. And the, what the f—?

Must be Idaho. Nice time to burn some vacation leave and enjoy Spring.

Seriously, I took some time off to work on projects. I've been fairly productive so far. I finished reading a book and posted a review. I worked on three different shticks for Lisa Burton Radio and sent all those out. I even managed to start my beta reading project. I seriously believe that if you want the benefit of beta readers, you have to provide the benefit of beta reading to others.

I'm feeling pretty comfortable with my reading at this point, but I also promised another friend an ARC read. I don't have to return to work until Tuesday, so I could get more done than I originally hoped.

Between these projects, I pecked away at my own post for the Rave Reviews Book Club party, and managed to get it scheduled too. I also got my next Story Empire post scheduled. That should buy me a bit of time.

If I get back to my own writing, The Yak Guy Project will be front and center. I want to finish that manuscript so I can park it for a few weeks. During that time, I can do my edits of The Enhanced League. Doubt the raven is waiting to tear my soul apart over that book, and he's been patient this time.

Enhanced League has a cover, and I'm waiting to finish the promotional art so I can take it on tour. That's at least a month down the road, but I'm planning ahead. I need to get it to beta readers before I can tour it around. Beta readers need time to deliver their mark-ups, and you can't rush this part.

After all that, I'll think about a cover for Yak Guy and start the process all over again.

I've been adding the occasional note to my storyboards for two novellas and my next novel. These are mostly organized chaos right now. Plenty of time to polish them up after my books are published.

I may just turn a corner and blog ahead this weekend. I'd like to have a couple of things ready for Chris Graham, I can hold them in case I get one of the books published. When the time gets closer, I can either say something about the new book, or send one of the prewritten pieces. I also have several new ideas for Story Empire that I may rough out.

Tonight, I'm kind of pooped out. If I do anything else, I'll go back to beta reading. That's highest in priority right now.

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Guest Blogger Sue Coletta Acknowledges the Experts Who Help with Research

How much research goes into a crime novel. Check out Sue Coletta’s acknowledgment post over at Mae Clair’s blog today. Ask her about the oil drum research.

From the Pen of Mae Clair

Hey, gang, I’ve got crime writer, Sue Coletta as my guest today. She’s got a brand new release ready to roll out with Cleaved and it’s up for pre-order at only .99c. I was lucky enough to get an ARC copy of this book. Trust me, it’s one you’ll want to grab—then curl up and be thankful you’re safely inside, tucked away from the killers who populate Sue’s fictional worlds.

Banner image for Cleaved by Sue Coletta

Acknowledging the Experts Who Help with Research
by Sue Coletta

In the past I’ve been guilty of not acknowledging the numerous experts who’d helped my stories ring true. That’s a mistake. A short line in the acknowledgements of our books is the least we can do.

Since I have a new release, I’ll share the acknowledgment page from CLEAVED, Book 2 in the Grafton County Series (MARRED is Book 1).

Acknowledgement Page

A special thank you to all…

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