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C.M. Skiera
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  • San Diego, CA
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E-book Release: Mirrors & Mist, Book II of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy

Mirrors & Mist, Book II of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy 

Jetsam fled Dwim-Halloe as a runaway orphan, escaping both a zealous bounty hunter and a dragon-obsessed fallen knight. Now, the teenager finds himself a fledgling apprentice to the infamous wizard Seryn Vardan, the Oxbow Kingdom’s most wanted fugitive. When Jetsam attempts a heroic rescue during a foray with his teacher, catastrophe strikes as Seryn is captured and slated for execution.

Jetsam vows to free Seryn from his mysterious captors before his public beheading in the city where they are both falsely accused of murder. With his canine companion, Jetsam attempts a risky homecoming by seeking aid from old friends. Can Jetsam save his beloved mentor from certain death, or will he once again be left homeless and alone with a bounty on his head?

CM Skiera has managed to write another spellbinding tale, expanding on the first adventure while also tying in Seryn's past.Shaykitteh's World of Books
A special thank you to my excellent editor R.J. Blain and my wonderful beta readers; Anne Carlson, Jennifer Thompson, Tony Jones, Lee Lyte, Gary Kacmarcik, Ray Nicholson, and Barb Skiera.
~ ~ ~
C.M. Skiera currently lives in San Diego, California, a long way from Michigan, where he grew up, graduated from Michigan State University, and started a career as an environmental engineer. He and his wife are devoted dog-lovers who share their home with two rescue Chihuahuas.

Crimson & Cream is C.M. Skiera’s debut epic fantasy novel.  He started writing Crimson & Cream in 1999, and after many twists and turns, 13 drafts, plenty of rejections, the arrival of the 21st Century and  the advent of online self-publishing, the ebook was was self-published on Smashwords and Amazon in 2012. Mirrors & Mist, Book II of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy is his latest release, and he is currently writing Warlock & Wyrm, the final book of the series.

An Excerpt from Mirrors & Mist:

Jetsam noticed Tramp’s pointy ears rotate. As the terrier charged toward the ridge crest, keening steel and battle cries reverberated on Jetsam’s eardrums. Ground-hugging foliage stopped Tramp from advancing. With tan paws planted on rusty lichens, his low growl alerted the wizard Seryn Vardan to the faraway din as well.

Jetsam stepped over his four-legged companion and stood in the deep scrub. Gloved hands pushed aside the thick brush blocking his view. Winter retreated from the Kierawaith, but the dry devil’s club branches still swayed barren of buds. Brittle flaxen spines dispersed with his touch, cascading to the mossy carpet at his feet. High in the spruce canopy above, prickly arms waltzed with the breeze.

Jetsam’s palms opened a moon-lit portal through the splintery shrub. This high in the Oxbow Mountains, early spring temperatures demanded winter clothing. Jetsam wore the too-large gloves of the late bounty hunter Yduk Thiern. Even with space in the fingertips, the well-made gauntlets were a superior alternative to cloth mittens or Dwarven ringed mail, and especially bare hands.

With a calm command, Jetsam hushed his terrier, and peered upon the frenetic scene. On this cloudless night, the waxing moon illuminated the hillside enough to discern the forms below.

“Men!” Jetsam whispered. “And . . . beasts!”

Seryn leaned in over Jetsam’s cloaked shoulder and searched down the ridge. As did Jetsam, the mage wore a fur-lined hooded cloak. Both faces were clean-shaven—Seryn’s on purpose and Jetsam’s because he grew no beard to shave.

“Too big for goblins, too small for trolls,” Jetsam continued.

Grimions,” Seryn said. “Bodes ill to see them this far south.”

Jetsam recalled fireside stories Ratboy told in the underbelly. Pitiless monsters, he’d said, head-hunters and flesh-eaters, that’s what grimions are. Jetsam envisioned Ratboy’s serious gaze as he heaped fodder for the urchins’ nightmares. The gray-skins run with humpbacks and goblins, steal orphans in the violet hour, and fashion loincloths from human hair. Though the tales frightened him as much as any of the orphans, Jetsam missed his friend’s harrowing imagery. They kidnap lasses for the Grimlord, and he breeds them to make more grimions.

Or so Ratboy said.

From what Jetsam witnessed beneath him, his former companion’s tales strayed not far from truth.

“They’re killingthem!” Jetsam said, turning to the sorcerer. Both he and Seryn saw enough to determine the caravan guards were not faring well. An aimless confusion undermined their efforts.

Then Jetsam’s blue eyes spotted a girl, cowering beneath a woven basket in the rear of a breached wagon. The plunderers ripped open the canvas cover, exposing the lass to the onslaught. Jetsam swore on his life that this caravan girl would not carry a half-grimion child.

Before Seryn voiced an objection, Jetsam scrambled through the thicket, thorny brambles raking his long locks. Tramp barked in dismay and balanced on his hind legs, craning and ears erect, searching for a passage to follow. Only moments ago, Jetsam had contemplated setting camp and bedding down for the night. Now dinner would wait.

Adrenaline overrode Jetsam’s rational thought as he descended the slope. His leatherwork boots kicked up dust from the landscape and sent stones and pebbles bouncing beneath him. He step-slid down the gravelly hillside, his left hand feathering the loose earth for balance. In his right hand, he held Enthran Ashvar’s old staff, poking it into the ground as he worked down the bank.

Jetsam learned a plethora of spells from Seryn this past winter, and his mind reeled to select the most appropriate one for the current situation. A hundred paces below him, the caravan idled on the trail, its dozen guards battling the attackers.

Jetsam counted six covered wagons scattered in a crooked line along the trail. The raiders struck quickly, disabling the caravan before the wagons circled. Jetsam realized the grimions crippled at least one wheel or horse on each wagon. The war party overturned one of the smaller four-wheeled carriages—its well-oiled wooden wheels still spun in vain. The coachman and a pair of road horses lay dead. One sumpter bay bolted, its cargo strewn in its fleeing wake.

Horses neighed, stamped, and tangled in their harnesses as swords, clubs, and claws flew in a frenzied dance. The beleaguered guards made their stand beside the largest six-wheeled wagon; a beached whale in the mountain valley. Jetsam noticed an unfortunate passenger had been dragged out and gutted, but predominantly, the wily ravagers focused on the over-matched guards.

Halfway down the slope, Jetsam halted to scrutinize the vicious assailants. The grimions outnumber them. The war band wore a haphazard selection of what could most accurately be described as armor. A variety of cobbled materials fashioned breastplates, bucklers, greaves, and helms. The grimions brandished clubs and cudgels along with dirks for jugular slashes and scalping.

Jetsam contemplated turning around and racing back to higher ground. Glancing back, he saw Seryn hacking through the brush as it bit and grabbed at his cloak. Tramp hopped behind him, picking his way over the mage’s hasty trail of crushed branches. Their rapid breath frosted in the cool mountain air.

Jetsam returned his gaze to the battle field and found the terrified girl. Upon spying a slavering monster turning toward the cowering lass, he dismissed the idea of retreat. It spotted her! The abomination released a banshee wail and bee-lined for the girl. Gore ran from its toothy maw and bloody claws. My spell must be deadly.

Jetsam focused and set upon an incantation. His outstretched right arm grasped his staff, leaving his left hand free to cast. As the Elven words fled his lips and his fingers danced . . . nothing happened. 

Bugger!
~ ~ ~
Interested in reading Mirrors & Mist, but haven't yet read Crimson & Cream? Get a free copy of Book I of the Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy at Smashwords for a limited time with this code: HB78A

Mirrors & Mist Cover Reveal

Mirrors & Mist, Book II of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy releases March 15. Today, I'm revealing the cover, which I made primarily using Corel Photo Paint 9 (a 15-year-old software that works amazingly well on my Windows 7 machine). I used the same font and title layout as the Crimson & Cream cover, and tried to keep a consistent look and style between the books. Since Mirrors & Mist will be released as an e-book, the cover will be viewed primarily in thumbnail size, so I focused on large, distinct title and author font size to be readable even at small scale. Ideally, by the release of the third volume of the trilogy, I will have professionally-designed covers for all three books, but for now, I'm still flying in the face of popular wisdom and doing it myself.

Mirrors & Mist is a coming-of-age epic fantasy adventure that continues the tale of Jetsam, a runaway orphan who fled Dwim-Halloe as a fugitive, escaping both a zealous bounty hunter and a dragon-obsessed fallen knight. Now, the teenager finds himself a fledgling apprentice to the infamous wizard Seryn Vardan, the Oxbow Kingdom’s most wanted criminal. When Jetsam attempts a heroic rescue during a foray with his teacher, catastrophe strikes as Seryn is captured and slated for execution.

Jetsam vows to free Seryn from his mysterious captors before his public beheading in the city where they are both falsely accused of murder. With his canine companion, Jetsam attempts a risky homecoming by seeking aid from old friends. Can Jetsam save his beloved mentor from certain death, or will he once again be left homeless and alone with a bounty on his head?

Below is an excerpt from Mirrors & Mist that inspired the scene depicted on the cover:
Jetsam opened his eyes to darkness; the torch burned out. Curled in a ball, Tramp snored beneath the blanket, wedged between Jetsam’s shivering thighs and rumbling stomach. In his sleep, Jetsam coiled his lanky frame, mimicking the canine. 
Groggy and chilled, Jetsam unwound and sat up. He ached everywhere—especially his damp neck. His throat burned raw and his head sloshed full of snot, while the inside of his skull pounded. He sneezed and woke Tramp. The dog poked his head out from under the blanket and stretched, his front paws reaching in front of him with his bottom in the air. Jetsam scratched the terrier’s backside as he tried to clear his head. 
“Feel like dung, buddy boy.” 
Jetsam fumbled to retrieve a fresh torch. Hope that was enough rest to let me cast. With a few Elven words and a finger dance, the brand burned bright. Jetsam stood, his muscles screaming, and replaced the dead torch in the nook. He surveyed the cramped alcove. His clothes remained damp, but no longer drenched. “Must have slept longer than I thought,” he told Tramp. “Think I can cast another spell.” 
Still wrapped in a moist blanket, Jetsam focused. Foremost, the practical Seryn taught him survival spells. Jetsam concentrated, remembering the words, and moved his hands, creating a pulsing cerulean light that grew to pumpkin size. The energy gave off heat, and Tramp backed away, growling. Warmth radiated from the conjuration, heating Jetsam’s chilled flesh and damp clothes. He maintained the spell, letting the warmth spread. Beads of sweat coalesced on his brow. This’ll be the last spell I cast for a while. The warmth felt so good, he fueled the cyan sphere until he was spent. I’m sure I’ll regret that later, but sod it, I’m not shivering.

Corpses Rarely Wander: How I Became a Loveless, Trailer Park Nomad

Today, I'm featuring an indie book I read and reviewed in 2013. Why so late? Well, Corpses Rarely Wander: How I Became a Loveless, Trailer Park Nomad by Cynthia Polutanovich has been revisited, revised, and relaunched (as of this Valentine's Day, no less). As you can see from my 2013 review below, I enjoyed the memoir upon first read, and am looking forward to a re-read to discover the new content:
Corpses Rarely Wander is a compelling read. In this chronological memoir, the author bares her soul to the reader, detailing the specifics of her difficult life with honesty and candor. The painful, sad, and sometimes harrowing events are not sugar-coated, nor is the author fishing for sympathy or casting blame. She reveals her inner demons while chronicling her efforts to rise above the adversity that haunts her like a stubborn ghost. Simultaneously poignant and humorous, the coming-of-age-style story kept me intrigued to the finish. The somewhat abrupt ending left me wanting to know more, which is a good thing.
Why now for a revision, you may ask? Ms. Polutanovich explained her rationale on Facebook:
The reason why I did this revision was because I realized the memoir, since I started writing it 8 years ago, had an internal view and a world view that was pretty hardened. It was all tribulation and no healings, no process, and no lessons learned. I've done so much inner work, softening and healing over the past 4 years and I wanted that to be reflected here. It was simple. I wanted there to be more love and vulnerability. Also, there were a few more stories I wanted to share. There were also a few more risks I needed to take that I hadn't managed to take in the first version. There were a few more truths that I wanted to tell. Additionally, since I am a truly overzealous reviser, I wanted to go back in and refine the writing even more. But mostly, I wanted to make sure that what I was putting out into the world was good magic. As a writer, I'm responsible for what I put out into the hearts of other humans. And so I toiled for these reasons. It was worth it. I'm finally totally and completely proud of this memoir. This wasn't a little revision. It was a major one. To me, this feels like a whole different book.
If you'd like to hear more about the book, right from the author's mouth, check out these audio interview links: Interview Part I: http://fccdl.in/5IvJwD13U and Interview Part II: http://fccdl.in/zNM1i0u4d

The New York Times Called Cynthia Polutanovich’s Writing, “Eloquently Steamy.”
At the age of eight, in 1982, Cynthia Polutanovich, the quirky narrator of this 1980s and 90s coming-of-age memoir, moves with her mother and sister into a trailer park in small town Maryland. After she leaves home at age fifteen, you will journey with her to West Virginia, Nebraska, and South Carolina, taking a break for a long car camping trip along the East Coast, finally ending up in the northern mountains of New Mexico. Circulating through 1990s grunge bars, coffee houses, and living in trailers, shacks and school busses, she deals with issues of fundamentalist religion, relationship troubles, poverty, personal trauma, and a sudden addition to her sexual identity. Told with an unconventional wit, warmth, humor and moments of radical candidness, Corpses Rarely Wander captures the search of a young woman to find love in the world around her, meaning in this brief life, and a home inside her own skin.


About the Author: 
Cynthia Polutanovich is a writer and wanderer. In 2010, she earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Hunter College in New York City. Her poems have been performed to by the critically acclaimed Dusan Tynek Dance Theatre all over the U.S. and Europe. The New York Times described those poems as, "eloquently steamy." For the Sins I Can Remember, a play she co-wrote, played in New York City in 2013, garnering the featured listing in Time Out New York and was produced again at the New Orleans Fringe Theatre Festival in New Orleans. She's still roaming, writing zealously, meditating, and drinking crazy amounts of tea.  You can follow her on Facebook at: http://on.fb.me/17iTpYU and on Twitter: @CynthiaNomad

An Excerpt from Corpses Rarely Wander:
I looked at my car parked at a restless angle and walked toward it.
I got into the driver’s seat out of habit and reclined the seat. I dozed for a while, and when the sun got closer to the center of the sky, I woke up and looked around, disconcerted for a second to wake up in a car with the door wide open. I grabbed the Tom Robbins that I was then almost done with, stuck my legs out the side of the car and propped my sandaled feet on the door. I had nowhere to hang my proverbial hat, and I felt desolate and yet acutely alive. I was living life on my own terms — reading, writing, experiencing a la the beats or Henry Miller and Anais Nin (I didn’t know at the time that they both had spouses that more or less took care of them by working or conning during those years). About an hour later, I finished the book and put it down on the seat beside me. The small, wispy clouds looked like Cyrillic script. I felt certain that everything in existence was trying to communicate with me. It didn’t occur to me at the time that maybe everything everywhere is always trying to communicate with every other thing. I felt I was on the verge of a huge change, and then my stomach sank as I remembered every other time of change I’d experienced and the period of hardship and alone-ness that preceded each of them.
In the brief moments I had seen Jessie, she told me that Moona was living in a little shack just a short walk behind Claire’s trailer, but I hadn’t seen her around. I decided to look for her and set out on a dirt path that curled around the trailer through competing stands of pine trees. I passed a couple shacks and investigated them to find they were empty. I kept walking around a little circle of trees, which was harboring a tiny outhouse, and there, on the other side of it, was a leaning wooden structure. The door was open, and I peered in. There were two rooms. When I walked in, I was standing in a room about 8 ft. by 8ft. It contained a bed and a nightstand. I looked to the left, and Moona was in the kitchen, which measured about 6 ft. by 6 ft., digging through a student-sized fridge. Those two nooks constituted the alpha and omega. The floors were dirt, and it smelled like standing in a tilled garden.
She hadn’t noticed me. I said, “Hey.”
She popped her head out of the fridge, startled, her red dreads swinging and then saw me and said, “Oh, hey man. What are you doing back in town?”
“My car broke down.”
“You staying?”
I shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. I’m living in my car as of today.”
This was a totally acceptable response. “Oh, cool. You got any cigarettes?”
“Yeah.”
“Cool man. You want a beer?”
“Sure.” She passed me a Corona.
“No limes though, man. Sorry.”
“No problem.”
We passed the afternoon sitting in two busted up lawn chairs as the two rooms of the shack reclined onto each other behind us. When evening came, she said, “Let’s go borrow my landlord’s truck to go to the Tesuque Market.” So I followed her back past the shacks to a house by the road. Moona knocked, and a tiny, elderly Latino man appeared at the door. He was stooped with age, wrinkled, and had a mischievous smile. He was wearing a short-sleeved button up shirt with a white t-shirt under it and khaki pants that were falling off him. Moona asked for the truck, and they bickered for a minute. I could tell this was a replay of many earlier conversations by the way they both seemed so comfortable in their roles.
Finally, he said, “Tomorrow you drive me to the Flea Market, and you can have the car now.”
“Fine.”
He added. “And I want to go to the Casino.”
She countered, “ I just took you there two days ago.”
He pressed. “I want to play some slots.”
Moona sighed.
He challenged her. “Do you want to go to the store or not?”
“Fine, I’ll take you to the Flea Market and the casino.” She held out her hand, and he fished his keys out of his pocket and put them in her palm. He was the winning team, and he looked happy.
So we took the truck to Tesuque market. I bought apples, carrots, bread and cheese, and we bought some more beer. When we got back, we dropped the truck at Jose’s, and walked back to her shack. We made cheese sandwiches and were about to adjourn to our disintegrating lawn chairs when she said, “I just want to do something first really quick.” She took out a needle and a lighter.
“What the fuck, Moona?” I felt sick to my stomach. My only solace in the whole world was preparing to shoot up.
“Just take a second.” She turned and pulled out her stash.
I grabbed two beers and said, “I’ll be in my car.”
As I was leaving, she called after me, “Don’t be mad.”
I called back, “I’m not,” as I was walking past the outhouses.
I climbed into the driver’s seat again. The sun had just disappeared and left in its place streaks of color, as though it were a warrior and had painted itself for battle. I became hopeful for a second, dug out my key and tried it in the ignition. Silence. I had to admit, there was no plan coming to me. Even if I could get a ride into the city, I had no significant funds and no way to get around. There, I didn’t even have a dead car to sleep in. I lingered on a fanciful idea of earnestly endeavoring to live in my car. I imagined learning about plants and living off roots and berries. I would write books and hitchhike around. I’d make jewelry out of found objects and fashion my old clothes into loincloths. Sometimes, I could get rides to the library and stockpile books. I’d be like Malcolm X in prison when he used his time to read every book he could. It would be an incubating period. The car would become my chrysalis/ prison. I would emerge a scholar and a seasoned radical.
But I imagined the summer coming and me sleeping in that little vehicular oven. I remembered it was the desert and that the plants weren’t overly edible, especially to a novice herbalist like myself. My interest was piqued, but with even a slight nod to realism, I had to admit that life would be Very. Very. Hard. I hoped for an option to make life hard in a more reasonably endurable way.
I sat like that for a couple hours with my feet out the window smoking, and finally fell asleep curled up in the back seat.


Buy Corpses Rarely Wander on Amazon or Gumroads (Pay What You Want)

 

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Cryptonomicon
About Me:
I’m a middle-aged married man from Michigan who now lives in California with his wife and two rescue dogs. I work as a professional environmental engineer to pay the bills. I've been writing as a hobby since the mid 1990s.

I started writing Crimson & Cream in 1999, and after lots of twists and turns, 13 drafts, plenty of rejections, the arrival of the 21st Century and the advent of online self-publishing, it's finally here. Whew!
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At 8:51pm on January 3, 2013,
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Hi, I came across your blog, and I thought you would be the perfect person to contact.

My name is Jay Siva, the founder of EZBuyButton.com, an easy 'buy book' widget for authors. I'm contacting you today because I think you and your readers would love to know about the EZBuyButton widget I've created.

It is the most advanced 'buy now' widget for selling books. I make it free for authors and publishers, worldwide, to quickly and easily create and use our EZBuyButton widget to place on their website or blog to immediately increase the sales of their books, especially if their books are listed for sale in more than one retail store. I made it super easy, with just a few clicks they just copy & paste a piece of code onto their website/blog, and they're done.

The widget allows website visitors to select which device they'd like to use to read the author's book, and then select their preferred retail store that they'd like to purchase the book from. It also geolocates the visitor's location and will send the visitor to the correct country specific retail store so that they can buy the author's book. The widget is also fully customizable, and the author will have access to detailed real-time statistics of the use of their widget.

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My website is http://www.ezbuybutton.com.

If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them for you. Thank you for your time.

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Hi There!
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Like our Facebook page www.facebook.com/UncleBook1 for a chance to win a signed copy of Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain.
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Cheyenne Williams
said…

Hi, and welcome to Book Blogs! If there's anything you want to know, feel free to ask me! (:

Anyway, I have two blogs: {This Girl Reads} and [Cover to Cover], and I'd love it if you'd check them out. Leave me a link to your blog so we can follow each other!

At 12:56pm on August 26, 2012,
Blogger
Cynthia White
said…

Welcome,

Book Blogs is a great resource to develop your blogging network.

My blog is http://thethingsyoucanread.blogspot.com/, I would love for you to take a peek and consider following. If you do follow http://thethingsyoucanread.blogspot.com/ let me know, so I can follow you as well. Please include a link to your blog.  Good Luck with your blog!

Cynthia

http://thethingsyoucanread.blogspot.com/

At 1:35am on August 25, 2012,
Blogger
Sally
said…

Thanks for the follow..! I am following you back now..! :)

B/w I am now your first follower via GFC ! Congratulations !

At 1:52pm on August 24, 2012,
Blogger
Sally
said…

Hey there..! :)

I am new here..! I just stumbled upon your profile..! 

 I would really appreciate it if you'd follow my blog @ http://readingwithanacrasia.blogspot.in

P.S: Please do leave a link to your blog so I can follow you back :)

thanks <3

 
 
 

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