Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sassy Saturday: the Girlfriend of an Exiled Mage

Welcome to another week of Sassy Saturday at Trickster Eric Novels.  Every week will be an excerpt from one of my novels showcasing a kick-butt heroine. If you want read about the original blog hop the link is here.

The previous Sassy Saturday post can be read here:"Die by the hand of a 'gently bred lady'!"

This is the first post for the second book in the Journey to Chaos series: Looming Shadow. I chose this one because it introduces a new character. Emily Tompson was in A Mage's Power but her role was tiny. Here, she becomes more important.

__________________________________________________________


 “Hey, Eric.”

The exiled mage jumped out of his seat. Emily, his girlfriend, stood in the doorway of his apartment. Eric cursed himself silently. A debate on the website about magically applied time travel was so interesting that his finely tuned sense of awareness had dropped. Basilard would swear if he knew...

“You didn't answer, so I let myself in. You do remember we have a date today, right?” Eric looked at his computer's clock; the day had passed without his noticing. He cursed himself anew. His girlfriend had walked in wearing a cocktail dress and he was still in his pajamas.

“Oh, sorry,” Eric said, blushing. “I was so busy, I lost track of time.”

“Really? What are you working on?” Emily crossed the room before Eric could close the window. “Practical magic?”

“Oh yeah, I'm really into magic,” Eric said. “I do sleight-of-hand. Remember?” Card tricks, rabbits, coin gags – he did that sort of thing all the time in high school but lost interest until recently. They were a big hit at office parties and he even embarrassed the resident schmoozer. Sleight-of-hand was fun, but it was nothing like the real deal. Thinking about his small shows made him think of a real show, where he performed real magic, and had real friends and—

“Eric!” Emily shouted. Eric shook his head and apologized. “You've been drifting off a lot lately. Like you're in another world.”

“I’m not!” Eric said harshly.

“That's another thing,” Emily said. “You've become confident to the point of aggressive.”

“I had a lot of time to think. I didn't like who I was,” Eric replied. “I wanted to be more confident, so I did.”

“I wish I could do that,” Emily said wistfully. “Change just like that.”

“It wasn't easy. The struggle of the butterfly to escape its cocoon makes it strong enough to survive. I simply hadn't fought out of my cocoon yet.”

The cocoon was my own mind, thanks to that ancient asshole…

You should be thanking me.

Eric shook his head vigorously.

“You've become philosophical too. I didn't know that about you.”

Eric grinned. “There's a lot you don't know about me. I bet there's a lot I don't know about you. I didn't know you wanted to change yourself.”

“Well...Do you promise not to laugh?”

Eric nodded.

“I've had this dream – of flying. I've wanted to fly over the world and see everything...but I could never push myself to do it.”

“I think that's a beautiful dream.”

“Really? I always thought it was some silly, childish fantasy.”

Suddenly, Eric wasn't in his apartment anymore. He wasn't in the city anymore, nor the planet, nor even the local universe contained within the world fruit of the Great Tree, Noitearc. It all rushed by his eyes in a blur of color and light. Once again, he was back in Roalt. Standing in the dirt streets of the busy capital – looking at turtle taxis, flying griffins, and real magic and hearing the mages cast spells, the merchants haggle, artisans shouting, and the aroma of the food, and the feeling of mana all around him! Giving him power and energy and –

“Eric!”

Gone. Just like that; it was all gone. All the sights and smells and sounds of Tariatla vanished like a dream. Eric clutched his forehead as he mentally shouted at himself that it wasn't a dream and that Tariatla really did exist because he could still do magic and he was going to get back there! And –

“ERIC!”

Eric blinked and looked up. Emily stood over him with her hands on his shoulders, looking worried. Eric smiled sheepishly and his face heated up. He could only imagine how he looked to Emily just now, and how it must have worried her. A new feeling hit: guilt. All this time and effort to get somewhere when he already had something great here.

Then a second guilt appeared alongside the first. Emily was the only reason he hadn't gone completely mad during his exile. There was a reason for that. There were many great things waiting for him on Tariatla. If only I could get there!

“Eric, are you all right!? You're spacing out again.”

“I'm really sorry, Emily,” Eric said. “I'll change as quickly as I can and then we can go.”

The exiled mage was in such a hurry, he forgot to turn off his computer, so his homepage remained open. He dashed to his bedroom where his date clothes were...somewhere. Emily sat down in his seat, placed her purse on the desk, and looked over the page.

“You know...ever since Hanson promoted you, you've changed a lot. You're helpful and friendly and you stand up to Aaron, but what were you thinking last night?”

“Last night?”

She scanned the recent article about illusions and another about the use of martial arts to increase mana supply and control.

 “Yes, when you dropped that criminal at the convenience store. I read about it on someone's blog. Did you 'emerge from your cocoon' as a butterfly or a wasp?”

Eric emerged from his bedroom in dress pants and a nice collared shirt. “I had frozens,” he protested.

Emily laughed. “And here I thought you were trying to be a hero!”

Eric shook his head. “I'm no hero; just a mercenary.”

He froze.

“A what?”

“I want my money's worth,” Eric said quickly. “I don't want to give a month's salary to a punk with a gun, you know?”

“Yeah,” Emily said slowly. “Where'd you learn to do that anyway?”

“I go to a training hall every week,” Eric answered. “At first, it was to stay in shape but –”

“Not that; the other thing,” Emily said. “The blogger said the criminal paused. You ranted about your day, but he didn't shoot you. Why not?”

Eric shrugged. “I guess he didn't have the guts. The gun might have been for intimidation.”

Emily stood up angrily. “Eric, do you think I was born yesterday? You did something!”

“Do you think I have magic powers? That's ridiculous!”

Emily pointed at his computer. For the third time that day, Eric silently cursed himself. He didn't want anyone to know that he had real magic. If that happened, he would be constantly bothered for demonstrations. Then he would run out of juice, be labeled a fraud, and never reach Tariatla. If he had met that punk any other day, then he might have been able to show more restraint. “You wouldn't believe me if I told you!” Eric snapped. “You'd think I was crazy and never speak to me again!”

“You don't know that!” Emily insisted. “I wish you would tell me the truth!”
_____________________________________________________________________________

Looming Shadow, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, is available for purchase at: http://smile.amazon.com/A-Mages-Power-Journey-Chaos-ebook/dp/B00AVMAISG

A Mage's Power will be free on Amazon until May 3rd.


To learn more about the heroines of Journey to Chaos, visit Tvtropes at: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/AMagesPower.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Answering Review Request: The End


Clint Morey asked me to read his book "The End". It is a commentary on certain passages of the Christian Bible with a focus on Judgement Day. This is not a novel and the author is quite insistent that it is not fiction either so I will not use my normal grading methods. Instead, I will treat this as an argument presented in a persuasive debate. The criteria will be: Evidence, Reasoning, and Polish

THE ARGUMENT

What I see here is an attempt at proving that ideas about Apocalypse and End of Times etc. are still relevant in the 21st century, not something just for "ancient" people, and that it could happen any time now. Mr.Morey presents several possible forms this world ending event could take as they would appear in such a time, and then presents counters against skeptics of the event and its source.


After reading the book and thinking about it for a week, I've come to the conclusion that this book is not truly interested about the Christian idea of the End of the World. Instead it is more of a collection of counter arguments against things the author religiously disagrees with while hanging the end of the world above the reader's head.

 EVIDENCE

Naturally, all the evidence comes from Christian Bible. Mr.Morey doesn't consider any other source because he doesn't think it necessary. By that I mean, he doesn't consider any other source to have value on this subject.
By the same token, he dismisses the evidence used by others against his argument. This is both scientific evidence and that from other religions. The following is an excerpt from the book's fifth chapter:
"When you stand before God He's not going to buy the ex-cuse that you saw this neat National Geographic video that showed evolution to be a fact. It had great visual effects and even included quotes from famous scientists. And on top of that, evolution was in your high school Biology book."


 It's hard to argue with someone who doesn't respect any source of evidence but his own.

He really does not like any belief system other than his own, be it secular or another religion. He believes them to be wrong, therefore useless and thus not worthy of respect. Political Correctness is more than a waste of time; it is oppression of The One True Faith. That is the message I get from this his book.
 Being Christian myself, I don't believe in other religions but I still respect those religions and the people that practice them.

It goes beyond a refusal to be respectful or "political correct" and becomes rude and abrasive. For example, he speaks of Pro-Choice advocates "vociferously" advocating their beliefs. At that point I had to think, "pot calling the kettle black" because he can be quite obnoxious himself. At one point, he went 1984 Big Brother style conspiracy theorist by claiming that "the government" removes images that paint abortion in a bad light from the internet (page 52 in chapter 2).

 LOGIC and REASONING

The modern day threats are all plausible. I watched a documentary on the Discovery Channel, so I'm pretty sure it's accurate. Seriously though, I believe the purpose here is to present "real life" ways that the world could end in order to make an idea such as Judgement Day seem more realistic and credible.

Some of his arguments do not make sense but this is not always his fault. One example is when he points to a line that says God's "invisible qualities" are "clearly seen". I believe his faith in his evidence is such that he doesn't realize the contradiction there. Another one that I don't know if he realized is placing ideas such as "God is Love" next to "God's gonna cause a horrific apocalypse". That's a contrasting juxtaposition of statements. 


Then there are occasions where he defeats his own argument. For instance, when he sets about discrediting the Theory of Evolution, he says that "If anyone tells you what happened in the universe a few billion years ago, it doesn’t matter what they say next. Whatever they tell you happened isn’t truth -- it’s a story" (in my PDF, this is page 69 and it is found in the fifth chapter). What does he call the Biblical Genesis if not a story of something that happened a really long time ago? I can only assume that "Unprovable. Untestable. Unrepeatable. A story." doesn't apply to his holy book.


 Another example of faulty logic is his reckoning that Judgement Day is near by way of the signs. I don't think he realizes that some of them have always been around and others are too vague and subjective to be of any use.

-->For instance, he says "wars and rumors of wars" are a sign; sure there are and have been a lot of wars in the last hundred years. The previous hundred years had wars and rumors of them too as did the century before that and so on. I doubt there has been an era of human history that could not quality.  
-->For the "increases in wickedness", his first example of such is a misinterpretation of Sex Ed in public schools in Chicago. He combines this with the ban of teaching Christianity in an American public school as an increase of wickedness. He mentions things like torture and drug abuse (again things that have been around for a while) but focuses on the Sex Ed, prostitution, abortion and sexual slavery, which have also been around for a while.  It's a puritanical focus.

 POLISH

The book looks good; no grammar or spelling errors that I recall.  There are jokes and they're kind of funny at first but then it devolves into spiteful ridicule before going away entirely.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "The End" a D

This is a free review request. I received nothing in exchange except a free copy of the book.

P.S. I wonder if the author thinks I'm persecuting him for being Christian because I didn't like his book.

Click here for the next review request: Sky Ghosts


Click here for the previous review request: Hooded Destiny

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sassy Saturday: "Die by the hand of a 'gently bred lady'!"

Welcome to another week of Sassy Saturday at Trickster Eric Novels.  Every week will be an excerpt from one of my novels showcasing a kick-butt heroine. If you want read about the original blog hop the link is here.

The previous Sassy Saturday post can be read here: A Survivor of the Siduban Chaos Explosion

This post will be the last excerpt from A Mage's Power. Next week will be the start of Journey to Chaos book 2: Looming Shadow.

Specifically, this excerpt comes in three parts. This is necessary for three of Kasile's highlights in the climax. They're spread out because of a second battle taking place at the same time. Also, I deleted ten words from this except because of a spoiler.
________________________________________________


For a moment, Kasile looked ready to smack Dengel. She inhaled, exhaled, and said, “You're right. This is a palace coup. Time is of the essence.”

She said no more on the subject. Instead, she looked for her goal. She found a leather vest reinforced with metal plates that spilled into a short skirt. She pulled it on and strapped a camail around her neck. For her legs, she found a pair of knee-length leather boots and, for her arms, a pair of leather gloves and a buckler. She twisted her long hair into a tight bun behind her head and covered it with a metal helmet. As a final touch, she attached a short sword to her waist. All of it had seen better days, but the effect was impressive: Kasile had transformed from a prison wretch into a warrior.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Fine! You think that's impossible? Me defeating all these guards by myself is impossible!

Exactly! So we should just gi . . .

Before he finished the thought, two guards collapsed, their chests punctured by mana claws. That's two! Kasile's next target was the guards holding her arms. She retracted her claws, re-aimed, and extended them a second time. That's four! Severed chains flailing, she dove at the guards who were restraining Siron. That's six! The two remaining guards drew their swords. Siron head butted one and Kasile pounced on the second. Seven! The princess cut her knight's chains and together they killed the last escort. Eight! They stood back-to-back as the soldiers regrouped.
 
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Kasile and Siron were surrounded. After the element of surprise wore off the soldiers became hard to kill. They enclosed the teenagers and parried all of their attacks. Siron tried to break their circle and get his back to a wall, but they easily thwarted his attempt. The only reason he and Kasile were not yet dead was their restraint. Like the others, they hesitated to seriously harm their country's princess (spoiler!). A big man with a hammer knocked Siron over and a skinny one with a lance struck Kasile in the rib cage with its shaft. Their loyalty didn't preclude simple incapacitation.

The knight leaped to his feet. Despite full armor, his stamina held steady, but the same could not be said of his princess. After the eighth soldier, Kasile's claws wavered and bounced off the ninth. She shut them off and stole a sword from a dead man, but the professional soldiers disarmed her easily and Siron had to save her. She dropped behind him and fired mana bolts, but even those were useless against her enemy's armor. By now, her breath came in gasps and sweat soaked her gauntlets.

“Your Highness, I will finish them. You may rest now.”

Kasile stood up straight and said, “Whatever happened to 'ladies first'?”

“Your Highness,” Siron said drily, “I doubt whoever created that had battle in mind.”

"(Spoiler!)“ (Spoiler!) called over the clamor. "Though some women may bear arms, the same cannot be said of gently bred ladies such as yourself. Your body is exhausted, that much is obvious, but your spirit is weak as well, isn't it? Those spirit claws take more out of you than you thought, don't they? Surrender and I will switch your cell from the dungeon to your bedroom.”

He ducked a mana bolt. “Come on! Die by the hand of a 'gently bred lady'!”

______________________________________________________________
A Mage's Power, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, are available for purchase at: http://smile.amazon.com/A-Mages-Power-Journey-Chaos-ebook/dp/B00AVMAISG

To learn more about the heroines of Journey to Chaos, visit Tvtropes at: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/AMagesPower.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Answering Review Request: Hooded Destiny

Zackery Hines asked me to read his novel "Hooded Destiny". It is a fantasy staring gods creating their own world and other stuff that happens. I will examine plot, character and polish and then assign a grade.

PLOT

The first thing I noticed about this story is that it is heavily modeled after the Book of Genesis. There are distinctions and differences but it starts with "in the beginning there was darkness" and moves into a world creation in a seven day span by an omnipotent deity and from there humans are given dominion over the earth and the first female is created from a rib of the first male. I don't know if this was to provide gravitas or make a homage but it is definitely there.  


This book is structured into three storylines. 1.) Sapienti proving his maturity and responsibility by creating a stable world and populating it with mortal creatures. 2.) The initial problem caused by the Casadire Jewel. 3.) The search for guardians for this jewel. It is this third one that is the "hooded destiny" from the title.

These are all good ideas, but that's all they are; ideas. None of them are developed. There is no process, no progression, no conflict. Stuff happens without rhyme or reason for it and then it ends without resolution because there is nothing to resolve. 

 The first plotline is resolved quickly and without trouble.  In fact, Sapienti finishes the task in half the time needed.  Not only that, but in that span of time he goes from wanting to have the same status as his brothers to changing his mind seconds before his father grants it. It's character development that happened off-screen; why the change of mind? What makes this more inexplicable is that he needs that status later on, and he would already have it if not for his strange turnabout. It feels like the author thought it was some unwritten rule for protagonists to turn down their quest rewards at the end. However, this is not the end. I can't even call this paragraph a spoiler because it's only 1/3 through the story's length.

The second plotline is about a thing called the "Casadire Jewel". According to the book, it "harvested usable power that the tribes could use productively". I compare it to a mystical solar cell. Why the tribes needed this or what they could even use it for I don't know. Given what happens as a result,
I'm like "what's the point?"

The third plotline is finding "the two purest people in the world" to guard the Casadire Jewel. However, the reader doesn't know this at first. Sapienti just starts looking for them without knowing if they exist. I got the sense that he was a bird watcher, but as a god watching humans.
 
The mechanics of functional magic in this book are an exemplary case of this book's development problem. There is detailed and intricate exposition on how magic works. It is the subject of its own scene. It was interesting and an author could use it to generate both intriguing magical dilemma plots in addition to magical combat scenes. However, this scene takes place 2/3 of the way into the book. The students only have two scenes where they use it and one of them is the climax.
 
The ending is dreadful. It tries to sound tragic and epic but the build up isn't there. It's like a grand finale that shots off immediately. It feels more like the prologue of a story than its ending. All this stands on the strength of a macguffin whose creation is inexplicable to start with. Furthermore, the conflict centered on this macguffin is forced and unnecessary because of an arbitrary rule. This removes any remaining gravitas it may have had.
 
To re-iterate, this is nothing inherently wrong with this story's plot. The problem is that it is underdeveloped and squished together. Separate them into three books and give each one a couple hundred pages instead of all of them sharing less than 150 (my PDF copy is 128 pages total) and it could become something great. As it is, it is nothing but squandered potential.

CHARACTERS

"squandered potential" is also the case with the characters. There is a large cast here, from the Top God of the multiverse to lesser cosmic gods, planetary gods, spirits, mages, and common mortals. None of them receive substantial enough development to be considered a true character. The two siblings with the "hooded destiny" receive nothing but a basic Cain and Abel distinction. All the many spirits and lesser gods have only a physical description and a job description, and that's it. These characters lack motivation, they lack dimensions, and they lack screentime.
 
 Not even the protagonist, Sapienti, is developed. He starts out as this class clown eager to prove himself at the start but then he peters out into a plot device. The most it can be called is bland benevolence.
 
 
 
POLISH

This book reads like a first draft. The brief events, unconnected plot threads, shallow characters, and general lack of refinement all remind me of a first draft. In regards to spelling and grammar, there are many cases where thespaces are not includedbetween twowords. That's what it looks like.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Hooded Destiny" a F+

For reference "F+" means "I like this book but its quality is extremely low"

This has been a free review request. I received nothing in exchange for it except a free copy of the book.

Click here for the next review request: The End

Click here for the previous review request: Dragonfly

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Writing Update - Why there's no Sassy Saturday this week

Hello everyone,

There was no Sassy Saturday excerpt yesterday because I spend the whole day revising Journey to Chaos book 4 chapter 15. I am speaking literally; from about 11:30 AM to about 12:30 PM I did nothing other than revise this chapter with a couple exceptions (heat up dinner, drive my Mom somewhere, and watch two clips from Star Wars Rebels). I basically rewrote the thing by pulling together parts from different chapters mixed with new stuff. So now I have a chapter 15 in its technically first draft.

This is a transitional chapter; the first chapter in the book's final arc. Making that shift from the previous arc's aftermath to the ground work for the new arc was tricky. This isn't the first draft where I can just throw things at the wall and make sense of it later. This is "later". Now that I know the characters and the general flow of events, I had to make something that would work. The next draft is for filling out and tweaking, not modifying.

I'll look the chapter over again and then the last two chapters and then I'll start Draft Number 3. After that it will go to the beta readers. Draft Number 4 comes after that and then it goes to my editor. Once she's done, then Draft Number 5 will be the one that is published.

By the way, I have a question for everyone who has read the preview for book 4 that I put at the end of Mana Mutation Menace. The tentative title is "Clerics at War" but I'm not satisfied with this title. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Answering Review Request: "Dragonfly"

Resa Nelson asked me to read her novel "Dragonfly". It is the first book of her "Dragonfly" series. It is also a historical fantasy involving Vikings and native Americans. I will examine Plot, Characters, and Polish, and then assign a grade.

PLOT


The book has a good starting place. It quickly and skillfully establishes Greeta's outsider status, dream of her own family, and feelings of inadequacy, and then transitions into the introduction of The Herald who will start the adventure proper. Then there's this long tangent whose payoff is to confirm what has already been established, including lines being recapped. After that is another scene like the second which can be boiled down to Greeta insisting on being told a secret regarding herself and everyone in her family saying "No" over and over again. It's dull.

 The Call to Adventure is drawn out. In the PDF I was reading from, there are 332 pages total and Greeta does not agree to go with Shadow the Shaman until page 79. In other words, a little less than 1/4 of the total length 
After this delay, there is a fumble. Shadow the Shaman has a single scene for introducing "dreamtime" and then disappears. Greeta is alone again and a new narrative plot, separate and different from it, takes over.  The "extinguishing darkness" stuff doesn't turn up again.  Much of this feels like a waste.
 
From there the plot goes off on an angle 50% unrecognizable from the premise given on the amazon page. I say "50%" because it is halfway recognizable. It is good. It is solid. It connects with the feelings of isolation and children desperation that Greeta is introduced with. It also gets around to introducing Greeta's gift in a surprising manner. It just takes a while to get there.
 
The ending, in my opinion, is confused and unsatisfying. It's like Mis.Nelson wanted to slip in a few more poofs of conflict to startle the readers. Finally, that secret that Greeta wanted to know about at the start of the book? She asks again and that's the end. I don't even know if her family consented to answer this time. It is the most annoying and jagged of Unreveals I have ever read in a review book.
 
CHARACTERS

Greeta is the protagonist. She has feelings of outsider isolation because she looks different from the rest of her village (outside of her father and aunt). She has the makings of a Guile Heroine but is otherwise immature and slow on the uptake. I'm not sure on her age. She acts like a child because of this immaturity but she talks of herself as being "a grown woman". Given the setting, I'm assuming that she's a teenager (15 give or take) because girls were generally considered women once they had their first period.
 
Red Feather. Now this is a boy that I believe is old enough to be considered a man. He is brave, compassionate, and wise enough to be a teacher for two of his younger brothers. In this way he is a foil for Greeta because his confidence and maturity underscore her insecurity and he also reflects her love problem; he is rejected by her just as she is by his third brother.
 
Finehurst is the Big Bad. He is responsible for the plot's immediate conflict and physical danger while also providing a tantalizing temptation to resolving Greeta's personal conflict.
As for himself, he's arrogant and makes himself out to be a bigger deal than he really is. For instance, he goes into a dragon fight full of bravado but is quickly subdued. Greeta herself notices the disparity. 
His intelligence and charm flip like a light switch. It's so sudden and blatant that I consider it a Villain Ball. Immediately after he has successfully charmed Greeta into staying with him and possibly becoming his wife, he does a 180 and starts acting like a chauvinist pig, which colors his earlier charm into manipulation.

POLISH

One or two typos; nothing bad.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Dragonfly book 1" a C-

This has been a free review request. I received nothing in exchange except for a free copy of the book.

Click here for the next review request: Hooded Destiny
 
Click here for the previous review request: Tiny House Living

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sassy Saturday: Mushu Mystery

Welcome to another week of Sassy Saturday at Trickster Eric Novels.  Every week will be an excerpt from one of my novels showcasing a kick-butt heroine. If you want read about the original blog hop the link is here.

The previous Sassy Saturday post, "A Survivor of the Siduban Chaos Explosion", can be read here.

In this excerpt, Eric tries to get a straight answer out of Kallen but only gets more frustrated as the conversation progresses.
_______________________________________________



Right now, he was hungry and it was the perfect excuse to visit Annala. Maybe she's forgiven me by now. He stopped running when he reached Across the Sea and pushed the doors open.

Annala smiled from the waiting desk and said, “Hi, and wel-oh.” She pointedly looked away.

“Annala, I'm sorry. I said I was sorry fifty times. What do I have to do to make it up to you?”

Adorably put out, she said, “Eat a carton of wasabi. In one swallow.”

“If that's what it takes, bring it on!”

“An impossible task for a lady's favor.”

Annala jumped slightly. Kallen leaned on the bench to her left. “Knock it off, Kallen . . .” Annala said softly. “Eric's my friend.”

“Then do you mind if he joins me?” Kallen asked cattily.

“I . . . uh . . .” Annala pulled on an ear.

Eric stood a little straighter and said, “Kallen, did you come here to tease Annala or eat?”

“Eat, of course.” She showed him a menu. “Have you had the mushu? They say they have good mushu. I've had real mushu, so I'm curious as to what they think is mushu. Do you like mushu?”

Eric gritted his teeth. “Stop saying 'mushu'!”

“Mushu!”

Deep breath, calm down . . . “Mushu isn't why you ran off earlier. What is?”

“That act made me hungry.”

“Stop evading! You know wha—”

Annala grabbed them both by the arm and dragged them away from the entrance. Their bickering was driving away customers. Kallen chuckled as the girl, shy and blushing moments ago, hauled them both to her table.

“So you don't mind after all?”

“I'm not his girlfriend, but I am his friend. Don't put your claws in him.”

Kallen raised one hand and said with the utmost solemnity, “Trickster's honor.”

Annala groaned heavily and returned to her post. Her long ponytail swished and caught the light from the windows. Kallen watched as Eric watched it sway, as if in a trance.

“That's what I asked her about.”

Eric blinked. “Huh?”

“Her hair. I asked about her hair. I wanted to know how she kept it such a rich golden color.”

Eric stared at her incredulously. “You know why; she's an elf. Tell me the truth.”

Kallen smirked. It was as if she was pleased with his answer and expected it. She's playing with me . . . Kallen's smirk widened; she knew that he knew, that she was playing with him and it seemed to make her all the more amused.

“I asked her what it was like to be an elf in a human city. I'm interested in elfish culture; you do know that, right? I'm the first human since the Conversion War to be allowed inside Dnaac Ledo.”

“Dnaac Ledo?”

“Annala's hometown. Her dad was at the opening joust. He's their diplomat, you know.”

A light shined in Eric's eyes as he realized the answer to an important personal question. So that's why she was wearing a dress!

“. . .and then went home,” Kallen continued. “Eric, are you listening?”

“Something about a gnome?”

“No, home; Annala's home. I paid it a visit last week.”

“Is that why you're in this contest? Politics?”

“Why do you think that?”

“Why did you help me during my act?”

“Why do you think I helped you?”

“Why do you keep dodging questions?”

“Why do you keep aiming them?”

Eric rubbed his forehead. “I'm a curious person. You had nothing to gain from helping me. I know I'm not competition to someone like you—” Kallen blushed. It surprised Eric so much, he lost his train of thought. Dengel reminded him. “But there was still no reason to help me.”

“I wouldn't be so sure . . . you think I'm in the contest to win.”

“You're not?”

Kallen munched a cracker. “I didn't say that.”

“Yes, you—” Talking with this girl was giving him a headache. “Why are you in the contest?”

“I want you in the contest. You're fun.”

“What does th—” Eric stopped again, but this time it wasn't of his own will. Kallen leaned over the table and kissed him.

A ripple in his mind; stones skipping across water. Light and warm; deeper; sinking. Puzzle pieces tentatively approaching, connecting. Deeper and deeper until a surface. It was gone.

 Kallen was back in her seat and smiling. There was not a hint of smug amusement; this smile was true happiness. It was meant for a dear friend she hadn't seen for years. Eric felt the same and it made him all the more confused. Then, Kallen pulled out a camera.

“You make the funniest expression when startled!” She spun to the kitchen and yelled, “Can I get a waiter over here?” She looked back at Eric. “You want anything?”
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A Mage's Power, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, are available for purchase at: http://smile.amazon.com/A-Mages-Power-Journey-Chaos-ebook/dp/B00AVMAISG

To learn more about the heroines of A Mage's Power, visit Tvtropes at: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/AMagesPower.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Answering Review Request: "Tiny House Living"

Justin  Edwards asked me to read his book "tiny house living". It is a small book about living in a tiny house. This is not a novel and so my review scale will not be used. The grade at the end is the same.
This is outside my usual boundaries because I was interested in moving into a small place at the time and so I was eager for advice. This is a disappointment.

This books is basically "interior decorating for small houses". Most of it is about decorating the place. There's a lot about kind of paint to use in different rooms, which I couldn't care less about. There are many visual tricks to make the tiny place appear bigger, which contradicts the point he makes about the merits of tiny houses in another part of the book. There's this sense of the importance of aesthetics that I summarize as "even if you live in a tiny house, you can pretend that you live in a big one!". I put the exclamation point in there because that is part of the book's tone.

This is not to say there are no practical tips at all. On the contrary, the book starts out on the merits of small houses: less property tax, less maintenance, incentive to "clear out the clutter" and focus on what is truly important, and less hassle with zoning laws. My complaint is that this sort of talk disappears after the introduction.

This book is short; I read it in less than 30 minutes. Considering this length and (what I consider) a lack of valuable, and practical, information, I think this should be a 99 cent ebook. I wouldn't buy it for more than that.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Tiny House Living" a D

This has been a free review request. I received nothing in exchange for it except a free copy of the book.

Click here for the next review request: Dragonfly

Click here for the previous review request: Heart of Stone

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Sassy Saturday: A Survivor of the Siduban Chaos Explosion

Welcome to another week of Sassy Saturday at Trickster Eric Novels.  Every week will be an excerpt from one of my novels showcasing a kick-butt heroine. If you want read about the original blog hop the link is here.

The previous Sassy Saturday post, Princess meets Warrior, can be read here

This post here is another special one because it introduces a new heroine: Kallen Selios.
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The source was a girl standing by the banquet. She wore a sky blue dress that fell to a scalloped hem at her knees. Beneath were long socks and leather boots. An attached hood concealed her face. All four articles possessed hand-sewn runes. Thanks to Basilard's test, he knew this girl was prepared for every possible status aliment, but it couldn't explain her effect on him personally.

Ever since entering this room, he felt peculiar; a nagging anxiety and fragile hope mixed together that felt different from pre-contest jitters. The sight of this girl and her laughter amplified it. He felt a clicking deep inside him; the same “unknowingly parched” sensation from his first drink of mana-rich water. Warm and euphoric, but it paled in comparison to this.

“And you! You're no academy student!”

The girl chugged a drink. “Thank The Trickster for that. I never liked wearing all that pink. It would look good on you, though.”

The silver-haired snob boiled with anger. “Where is our honor if they're letting dropouts enter our prestigious contest!? Next, they'll be letting demons in!”

The girl slammed her cup on the table. “You're free to think what you want about demons, but allow me to correct you on my credentials.” She threw back her hood and forest green hair fell to her shoulders. Mixed with the green were irregular strands of golden-brown; they looked like Annala's, but reminded him of Tiza's grime streaks.

Silver Hair stepped back as if from a monster. “I know you . . . you're Kallen Selios.”

Kallen held her head proudly. “Satisfied?”

“I am,” he replied coldly. “I, Getis of Darwoss, heir to the county of Darwoss, have been forced to compete with a lab rat.

“I am a field agent,” Kallen hissed. “Not a lab rat.”

Getis sneered. “Not anymore, apparently.”

“Not ever!”

“Then what do you call it?”

Kallen crossed her arms. “I was a voluntary participant in theoretical therapy. I single-handedly delivered Proof of Concept! I changed the world just by existing!”

“It is my sincere hope that my change will be a positive one.”

“Why you!”

The academy mages clustered to Getis' side and glowered. She froze. The ones behind her shoved her as they passed. She death-glared each of them in turn before focusing on Getis. Smirking obnoxiously, he shrugged as if to say, “I gained this popularity just by existing.”

What's the story with Kallen Selios? Eric asked Kasile.

She works for the International Community Dedicated to Mana Mutation: collecting data, testing equipment, bringing in specimens, etc. In short, she does grunt work so professional scientists don't have to, but she's proud of it.

“I hear elves administered your 'therapy.' Even took you to their village for it.” Getis pointed to his natural silver hair. “Do you think you're one of them now? Or are you just desperate for attention?”

Kallen picked up a clump of golden-brown hair. “I was collecting data from a mana storm. There was this hole in my suit and Fog leaked in. I can—”

“So the lab rat mutated again?”

“I'm NOT a lab rat!”

Eric frowned. What about the “lab rat” thing?

She's a victim of the Siduban Chaos Explosion; one of many. The treatment for mana mutation back then was . . . still in the experimental stage.

From a patient to a grunt in eight years . . . All because of a chaos explosion.

Lady Chaos works in mysterious ways . . . or maybe she makes it up as she goes along. No one knows. We can discuss it later. Right now, I have to introduce the contest.
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A Mage's Power, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, are available for purchase at: http://smile.amazon.com/A-Mages-Power-Journey-Chaos-ebook/dp/B00AVMAISG

To learn more about the heroines of A Mage's Power, visit Tvtropes at: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/AMagesPower.