Thursday, February 27, 2014

Does "The Mask of God" go with "In Heaven's Shadow?" No, not really. As in, not at all, save that they are both new books out this month, and both written by me. Apart from that, there couldn't be two more different books. Which, I suppose, is still another problem for any writer who likes to write whatever occurs to them to write.  See, it's like this:
In Heaven's Shadow, which came out February 6 and I talk about here, is an historically accurate Civil War fantasy, a ghost story with magic thrown in for an offbeat and (if I do say so myself) rather beautiful love story. One reader has called it "one of the most beautiful and touching books" she's read in a long time. I cherish that comment and hope it makes it into a review somewhere because I want this one to touch the heart. I was a bit baffled by the reviewer who called it "fun," but what the hey, I did strive for some humor (and getting caught by the neighbor kid when your ghost husband is swinging you around really is funny). Perhaps that's what most caught her fancy about it. Be that as it may, this book is way off my usual beaten track. And I love it. 
The Mask of God by S. A. Bolich
The Mask of God, on the completely other hand, is another genre mix, but of a different type. It is both soft SF (being set on a long-lost colony world), and epic fantasy. The civilization has fallen from starships to swords but they have not forgotten their roots, oh no. Because their roots haunt them every single day in the shape of conflicts that ripped their society asunder, and alien tech (or is aliens themselves?) is forcing everyone onto paths they would not otherwise have chosen. Artificial gods who know they aren't real--but can't act in any way but how they were made to act--have gone to war and dragged the mortals in. And as Fate tries to bring about some vast and frightening web of destiny, Chaos her husband feels a fatal itch to toss his dice, Chance and Destiny, into the maze and watch what happens. And Death...what does he want? What Death always wants. Blood.
Now, do those sound like they came from the same author? Does it matter? All you want is a great read, right? I hope these give it to you, whatever your tastes may be.

And the really, REALLY good news? There are horses in "The Mask of God"! Yes, yes, real live horses who are never quite characters in themselves, but individuals important to the story nevertheless. So go read it and tell me if I'm practicing what I preach, all those of you who enjoy the Horses in Fiction posts. I look forward to your reaction!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

And...In Heaven's Shadow is out!

What really lies in heaven's shadow? What's in that place between life and the afterlife, where the ghosts of the dead can still yearn for the living, and the living still have choices? Does love end there? Should it?

Lilith and Joab came late to love but they were happy as larks until the Civil War came along and smashed everything apart. Joab went off to fight Yankees and Lilith spent two years trying to keep their farm in the Shenandoah Valley going by herself. And then Gettysburg came along and killed Joab--but he didn't want Heaven. He wanted Lilith. So he bargained with God and came home to her...and that's when things get interesting.

Aside from scandalized neighbors and magic that pops out of Lilith at the most inconvenient times, her determination to make a life with her husband's ghost has a few bumps neither one of them counted on:
Joab's hand stole out, hesitated, and closed around hers. It felt like a moth had landed on her hand, so light it could have been just a passing breeze, but somehow Lilith knew she would have known the difference even if she hadn’t been watching.
“There,” she said in satisfaction. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
He didn’t say anything. After a bit, she dared to look at him. He had his head down, but even so, she could see he was crying. Shocked, Lilith reached to turn his head toward her, but he pulled away before her hand connected.
“Now what? Joab? What’d I do?”
“Nothing.” His voice came thick and low. He reached up and swiped at his face. “I just—I guess I didn’t think it was going to be like this.”
“Like what?”
“I—I want to touch you, Lil. Hold you. Take you up to bed and love you. This—” He flapped his hand around at nothing in particular. “This is almost as bad as layin’ curled up under a blanket up north, wishing I was here. I got through many a night dreaming about home. Now it just ain’t like I imagined, is all.”
Her throat got tight. “Joab—”
He jerked a hand up to shush her. Lilith shushed, reaching for his hand. She held on when he tried to pull away. It made her throat ache again because she remembered his hands as being so strong, but she kept quiet, cradling a thin piece of life between her hands. Just a little slice, a whisper of nothing, Pa used to say, but when nothing quit whispering, you didn’t have anything left at all. So she fought for her piece, and her man, and all that the war had left them.
"In Heaven's Shadow" isn't your typical ghost story, nor your typical love story, nor your typical fantasy, which is why I love it so much. Lilith is magical, funny, at times clueless, but very wise in her way of looking at life and death. Joab may be dead but he sees no reason to let it stop him from loving, honoring, and cherishing her for the rest of eternity.

Can they make it work? Better yet, will the neighbors let them?

Now you can find out, because In Heaven's Shadow is now available! Buy it in ebook here:

Barnes and Noble
Taliesin Publishing