Victoria A. Jeffrey's authorly doings. . .

Friday, June 28, 2013

New Art Work With Book Cover Reveal

Ok. Here is the new art for the book cover. Basically, here is the new book cover. The art work is by, once again Ferdinand Ladera (you can find him on deviantArt or his website) and I put the book cover together. Check out Ferdinand's work. His stuff is AWESOME! I kid you not!
It's a bit racy looking, I know, but I think she looks lovely. I'll say no more. The finishing touches are being put on the manuscript. Cryptic Tongues should be out next week. And *I* will be having a much needed break!

Cryptic Tongues is now available for purchase on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords and Kobo!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Author Solutions: The Scamming, Lying and Hucksterism Continues!


I don't usually post author related stuff on this blog because I like to try and keep it reader-friendly. However I feel that this needs attention. Fellow indie author David Gaughran has been courageous in exposing certain "publishers" and calling them out on their baloney! If there are any readers out there that have hopes of publishing their own book one day please read his blog posts that expose these scammers!

The Bookseller Hires Author Solutions

Penguin a while ago purchased notorious vanity publisher Author Solutions. Author Solutions, on the other hand has a whole host of vanity presses under its umbrella - and all of them rip authors off! Why Penguin is in bed with a company with such a horrible reputation for fleecing writers is a mystery - unless you look at the money they probably stand to gain from it. To understand how AS rips authors off, I suggest you read the articles on these issues by David Gaughran and The Passive Voice.

Deceptive practices are par for the course with Author Solutions! The sad thing about this is that when I was a younger writer I might have been scammed by these crooks. Unfortunately many authors have been but these serious issues are swept under the rug by many trade publications int he industry who should be exposing this. Shame on Penguin for being involved with these scammers and shame on Author Solutions for ripping off authors. No one cares about authors in the industry. If you are an author or writer you have better start caring about your own work, the rights to your work and your own financial welfare because most others are only out to fleece you and laugh at you behind your back or in your face. Shame!

Listen up newbie authors! Educate yourself about what Author Solutions is really about! Do not be fooled by their association with Penguin, writer's conferences, trade journals and websites etc. Do not be fooled by their gushing and fake social media presence either. These people are sharks looking to eat authors alive! They are hucksters of the lowest kind! Stay away from them and do not ever use their services unless you actually want to be fleeced. They offer outrageous prices and poor terms, making it impossible for authors to make a living. Leave them alone if you value your work!

For those going the traditional route, continue to go to REAL publishers that have no connections with these crooks, if that is the way you really want to go. For those wanting to self-publish, to find out how to create a professional looking book, start at the KBoards Writer's Cafe! There is a whole host of great information there for you to learn how to do it yourself - for free!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sample Chapters: Cryptic Tongues - Chapter Three!

Here is the final free chapter sample I am putting up on the blog. If you want the first five chapters, sign up for the mailing list. Remember that these are not finalized versions of the story and that the first book in the trilogy, Schisms is available for purchase. Enjoy!

Chapter Three

Over the years Ilim had endured every conceivable trouble and misfortune there was and yet, here he was again among his people. No matter the hardships and dangers he endured, it was worth the price he paid for not marrying, for not seeking wealth, position or fame or anything a man his age would have achieved ten times over. It was in a tiny crowded two-room house where he spoke. Most of those gathered would eventually make their way to the temple for Night Prayer but for them, going to the local temple had become a mere ritual so as not to draw the attention of the traditionalists.Strange, he thought, how those who seek to go back to the elementary things of the Law are the apostates. Gathering for public prayers and offering animal sacrifices were still the right of all the Aishanna-La but these ones, the shismatics some now called them, gathered in small homes in Gamina and Hevan. They did not go to the temples for the festivals or to hear public oratories on the Holy Writings any longer. They knew that God was no longer with the Ainash. God was with his prophets, one who was now expounding the way of the Book of Laws and warning them of the signs to come and what to look for when the king would rise again. It was dangerous work. The palace sought to stamp out this hope, this new challenge to their divine authority, the Ainash, who were concerned with temporal riches and status saw them as a constant thorn in their sides - a constant reproach and most of the kingdom's subjects saw it as an uncomfortable accusation against culture and long-standing tradition. Thus, it was now dangerous to be a true Aishanna-La of the old ways. Most schismatics stayed away from the public games, sports and other public entertainments so as not to encounter the question of the queen's divinity. Around the land some had paid the price of impalement but Ilim had warned beforehand in letters to the small groups around the land to stay away from things that they had no business attending would protect them from the question and subsequent trials. If only he could convince Rapheth, the very one spoken of in the prophecies, to do the same. Ilim was in constant exasperation and fear for the boy. He glanced at Rapheth and caught the boy intently watching him. He seemed true at heart but he had a wild spirit in him from his father and a deceptive quality in him, from his mother and this worried Ilim. Would he really be the one? Had he failed in training up the boy? He and Zigal had many conversations on the matter. Zigal stuck by her opinion that the boy was strong-willed but had a good heart.
Finishing his teachings he rolled up the scroll and handed it to Rapheth. They were in the home of a man named Dalet, an old man, and his Rurrian wife Rusudan, who had no children. Ilim sat down as the younger families were readying themselves to leave. It was late evening. Rapheth carefully rolled up the scrolls and leaves of papers, carefully placing them into the leather sack.
"Here, my brother Ilim. A cup of quass. I am sorry I have nothing else to offer you."
"You have offered your home as a sacred space. That is enough, Dalet and I am thankful for it." Ilim drank it down, grateful. Compared to the quass of the tribal peoples it was weak but his throat responded to it in the same fashion. Satisfaction of thirst.
"It is a hot one today. It may be even worse tomorrow and it is not even summer yet. This much heat too early in the year signals trouble." Said Ilim.
"When it gets hot like this the vermin come out in droves. They found three dead men a few weeks ago in one of the backstreets not too far from here. Some say they might have been Hatchet Men. Have you heard anything?" Asked Dalet. Ilim glanced sharply at Rapheth who was concentrating on the scrolls. The youth looked up suddenly at hearing about the dead men and then quickly looked away and continued putting the scrolls away.
"I have heard. A little too close to home I would say. Murderously hot weather seems to encourage murder itself." Said Ilim.
"You know, things have gotten so bad these days. I am tired Ilim. Worn out from this life. I know I cannot hurry things but I just wish it would all be over now."
"I know. Sometimes I am tired too. Just remember that things are happening in our lifetime. We are in the midst of it but it must become dark before we see the light again."
"But how dark, I wonder? How many people must be impaled alive over her whims? How many children must be sacrificed on the alters of her gods? Even Hec is not so cruel as this Nimnet. I see no difference between this one and the patron goddess of Yallas-of-the-Valley."
"Only in the darkest day do we see the true light. Until then we must endure it. Most of those of our people who had the good sense to leave Jhis when the king married this monster have saved themselves from the worst of it. Remember that. The warning went out long ago to leave Jhis because of its coming destruction. Those who are truly loyal followed that counsel. We will not be shielded from troubles but it has been born out that when we follow holy counsel we do not suffer as much as those who ignore it."
"You are right. It is just that times are so uncertain and frightening now."
"Rest assured, I know this, most of all. But I also know other things." Ilim's eyes grew bright. "He is coming, my brother." There were a precious few Ainash priests who had left the Golden Temple either literally or in a spiritual sense, and followed Ilim. He kept in contact with the ones who were not in Jhis, ministering to them, traveling undercover to speak with them and encourage them when he could. They were scattered throughout the land. It was this tiny group who knew Rapheth was the chosen one of God and of this they said nothing to anyone outside of their group. Any knowledge hidden from the authorities pertaining to the boy meant death.
"Come Rapheth, it is time, unless you will go to Night Prayers?" Rapheth shook his head.
"Well Dalet, I thank you for opening your home each week for the readings. May God bless you and your dear wife."
"And may you always be blessed, Ilim." Said Dalet. They gathered their bags and filed out behind the others, hugging their brethren and saying greetings of love before going their own way.
On the way back to the house Ilim finally broached the subject.
"So, you and your friends went down to that rathole again, even though I told you not to! Now three men are dead because of your foolishness!" Rapheth was shocked. Ilim snorted derisively.
"Really? You think because I am old that I am senile as well? You thought that I would not know?"
The boy's face fell. He knew better than to ask how Ilim knew. The old man just seemed to know things.
"Your mother told me. She keeps her ear to the street when I am preaching and while you are apparently widdling your life away, Rapheth!" They climbed the steps and went inside.
"Listen to me! I do not tell you not to do this or that for my own good but for yours. Wicked people frequent taverns and alehouses for no-good things. Now, more than ever. I am surprised you have not come down with some strange ailment of sores on your goah yet, boy." Rapheth drew himself up in a huff.
"Do not act proudly now that you have been found out."
"I would never do something to get a shriveled, sore-ridden goah, father!"
"Well what else am I to expect? You hang around prostitutes, drunks and gamblers and thieves, you and your friends! I have a mind to tell their families what Ephron and Shukala have been up to!" He softened his voice. "Look. There is another reason, Rapheth. Come sit down. It is time I explained this in full to you. You are of age now." He motioned towards the table. Rapheth put the bag down on the table and sat down. Ilim removed the many books and scrolls piled there.
"You are nearly a man grown now. In some places in this world you would be married with a child on the way. Or conducting military campaigns." Ilim grew pensive as he gazed at Rapheth.
"When you were younger Zigal and I only told you bits and pieces about your true heritage for your own safety. Your father was once king of this land."
"King! Mother told me that he was a powerful man who ruled many, but she refused to say any more."
"For your safety and hers. Your father was King Khalit, who died in battle fifteen years ago." Rapheth blew in a sharp breath. His eyes, lit with that ever strange fire, grew bright. Ilim had always found them intense, powerful and odd. Nothing like Khalit's eyes. In fact, he did not look very much like Khalit in his looks or coloring except his hair, which was a riot of loose black and brown curls. And he had a wild streak. That was Khalit in him. Ilim went on.
"Your mother. . . " he began, slowly.
". . is the queen," finished Rapheth. Ilim jerked his head in astonishment.
"But how did you know this?" Rapheth looked solemn, far beyond his fifteen years.
"I saw her once when she was here in the city to inaugurate a new college. I felt something stir in me, as if I knew her. It was a strange feeling. I look just like her. As if I sprang from her, solely."
"Did anyone notice you?" Rapheth shook his head.
"No. When I am outside of our neighborhood. . .or underground" he added sheepishly, "I cover my head and my face with a scarf or rag, like the Gilphaens or the Karig. Some people here think I am a Gilphaen." Ilim heaved a great sigh.
"Did she see you?"
"No. She was so. . .serene and beautiful, like the carved statues of Rhuctium by the artists at the art school."
"Yes. I know. She holds many enthrall to her. Be careful for she is wicked beyond reasoning. Zigal can tell you of her own experiences, like when she ordered all of the king's offspring and concubines to be killed. You would have been murdered too. The only reason why you are here today is because of Zigal and Queen Diti's belief in holy prophecy. Those faithful women. Poor Queen Diti. . " Ilim began, his face fell. His eyes filled with tears.
"What happened to Queen Diti?"
"Well, it is said officially that she fell from her balcony window one morning after having had too much drink. But many believe she was murdered. In fact, we know it in our souls. She was a holy woman. Devout. She rarely drank wine or spirits. But she had visions of you, child and she made a way to preserve you alive. If only she had fled Jhis sooner. She loved the city and the palace life too much, I think. Even so, may she come to be in paradise in the end." Ilim wiped his face, got up and went to his writing desk and pulled out a stack of leaf pages in wide cream colored paper.
"I have been working on this for some time now. It may seem strange to you that Zigal and I have you writing and reading the holy book and history and even law but you are meant for great things."
"I do not feel that way. I just feel lost sometimes."
"You are humble enough and that is a good thing. It is fine for one to feel afraid at times. It is normal but always remember even in your darkest hours God will turn to you when you call to Him in prayer. He will be there for you, youespecially. One day I will not be here to teach and instruct you in the law. One day neither me or Zigal will be here to guide you. You will have to know it for yourself and you know many things well enough but you must take this most seriously Rapheth. One day it will be up to you to lead many peoples back to the Red Path. In order to do that you must know the path and believe in it." He handed Rapheth the papers. They were his writings of his book, The Book of Ilim the prophet.
"You will have this added to the holy writings?"
"I do not know. All I know is that I must write down these prophecies God has given me. The tide of world history rises and falls, reaches an apex and rolls down again and future peoples may take comfort in these words during their own times of distress and learn from them. One never knows the future in its completeness but this is a great work I have been given. It must be written down and I have written down as much as I can remember. Please read them. You are the first to read them. I shall go, once again, on a mission. Airend-Ur has commanded and this time I may not come back. Someone else, a friend of mine is coming here in my stead to instruct you and help Zigal care for the household."
"Tell me father, what is this commission before you go? And who is this man that is coming?" Rapheth felt a desperate feeling rise in him. Ilim was the only father he knew.
"A broken vessel the land has become and especially Jhis, the seat of power. A vessel, worthless and good for nothing."
"Of course a broken vessel must be ground down and destroyed and put to better use." Said Rapheth. Ilim nodded.
"Shattered to pieces, and this is like the land of Hybron and the city of Jhis, especially. Its end is drawing near. It has been found worthless and there is hardly anyone left doing good. It will be shattered like a worthless vessel. This is my message. That no one wants to hear. But hear it, they must. Remember Raptheth, you are the crest of the prophecy's fulfillment. But watch those you bring close to you. Your father did not watch carefully and he brought serpents into his bosom and he was killed for it. Beware you do not do the same and if you do reject the law of God, He will find another, for His purpose will never be thwarted, only re-routed."
"If my true mother is so evil, why did He allow me to come from her?"
"Why not? God can use anyone at will to bring about His own will. Wicked though she is, she is of the blood of the Rephaim, like your father. The Rephaim served a very unique purpose, Rapheth. God promised that a king would rise from their blood again and He will keep that promise and find a way to work through whatever means exists."
"Why did they exist in the first place? Everything about them is hidden or swaddled in mystery."
"During the Age of Creation there was a great rebellion lead by the unnamed one in heaven. You know the account. The Rephaim was the reason for the rebellion, to bring those among mankind who would choose the Father back to Him. Among other things. But the most important reason for their existence was to provide a solution for the mess created after the rebellion, to bring us back in harmony with the original order of things, back to the First Pillar. Strabs were one of the original Mother Tribes and I perceive that not all of them are evil, though I do not know any that are not, personally. The blood of the Red King must be sacred royal blood, Rephaim blood. That Rephaim line was preserved through the Dark Age, the Age of the Twilight Kingdoms, to our present day. We are still under the Age of the Twilight Kingdoms. That Khalit happened to meet and marry another tribeswoman of the blood seems incidental to the eye of man but served the grand Purpose set long ago. One can be evil and still give birth to something good. Sometimes. Why should you be thrown away because of your mother or your father?" Rapheth looked thoughtful for a while. They were silent for a long time, then the boy turned to the papers and started reading them as Ilim prepared his bag to leave.
"Send letters to the ones holding the small gatherings, Rapheth and let them know about about my current mission. I shall be gone for a long time."
"Yes, father."
"Much depends upon your own will in this, son. I cannot make you do a single thing anymore. When you were younger I would give you a good beating for this sort of disobedience but I am too old to render such punishment and you are old enough to know better now. You laze about too often and you disobey me and you are sneaky and deceptive. I see these qualities in you and it disturbs me. You must decide for yourself if you are guided by law or by principle. Must you have a literal rule hanging about your neck everywhere you go? Or can you live by principle, as I have tried to teach you? Perhaps I have failed."
"Do not say that father!" Rapheth cried.
"Aich! Remember what I have taught you, for one day you too, like Anet the prophetess, will not have the protective arms and bands of a city or a book of laws to tell you what to do. You must know it in your heart and only then will the true man in the heart become apparent." Said Ilim. He then left the room.
Rapheth did not know what to say. He had been found out. Again. Perhaps he was a failure and they put too much trust in him. Too many hopes. He went back to his reading. He heard Zigal in the back courtyard by the new, enlarged brick oven built for her, cooking dinner and talking with someone. A voice he did not recognize. These noises receded into the noise of the background as he read on. He decided to read some of the words in a soft undertone and he felt a stirring within him as if they awakened a power long asleep. His hands trembled slightly and then he quickly put the papers down.
"Oh yes," called Ilim from an interior room, "you will be trained with a proper king's weapon soon. Zigal has informed me."
"When?" Called Rapheth excitedly. Now this was something he could handle. The memory of the stranger in the alley rushed back to him. He heard footsteps walk in from the courtyard in the back of the house. The footsteps were heavier than he knew Zigal's or Ilim's to be. Alert, he turned in his chair towards the sound. The words from the powerfully timbre'd voice immediately caught his attention.
"Now. Get up and face me, boy." It was the stranger, Rhajit. "Catch!" He said casually and Rapheth, too late, saw something go sailing by his head. It was one of his own daggers. Rapheth's face flushed and he grew hot with anger.
"Why did you do that? You could have killed me! That is not a toy!" He said indignantly. He'd missed the dagger and it went clattering to the floor behind him. The man shook his head slowly and regarded him coolly.
"You can't even throw a dagger properly." Said Rapheth. Yet he was excited that the stranger showed up again. Something different for a change.
"I wasn't trying to kill you, boy. I thought you were supposed to be so quick and skilled in a fight? I see you missed that surprise by a league. I gave you warning enough by clomping across the floor like an auroch. Whether it is a street fight with assassins, which you may encounter again, or in the heat of a great battle, you will not have time to react or behave imperiously. Calm your spirit. Your first lesson: "A man who drops his weapon or his attention is a dead man."