Where did Lazarus Go?

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A few months ago, I signed a publishing deal with LMBPN publishing. As part of that deal, the books in The Lazarus Codex got a facelift on the inside. They’re getting new edits and re-released in omnibus form. That basically means LMBPN is publishing new editions. As such, that means the old ones have to come down from Amazon.

Several books are temporarily unavailable for purchase in individual format, but everything should be available on Amazon as part of one of the two omnibus editions.

Death Rites, Organ Grind, Shallow Grave, Knight Shift, and Death Match are available in ebook format as part of Death and Deception HERE.

Death’s Door, Night Terror, Dark Reve, Dark Horse, and Casting Shadows are available in ebook format as part of Death and Darkness HERE.

Don’t want to read them in omnibus form? A number of folks have expressed they’d rather just read the individual books, a sentiment I have passed on to the publisher. Starting soon, they will be breaking the books back up for sale in individual format. They won’t be getting new covers, but they have been re-edited and re-formatted, so they will be new editions. I don’t have a solid date for when this is happening, but I expect it will happen quickly. LMBPN has been really great about listening to feedback.

As always, if you find any typos in any of the books, or have any further feedback directly for the publisher, you can email them at: readershelp@kurtherianbooks.com.

Or you can get in contact with me at eacopen@eacopen.com.

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DISCLOSURE:
*Affiliate links were used in this post, which means if you click the link and make a purchase, I get a small kickback.* 

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Why It Matters

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“I’m not homophic, but I just don’t get why people keep shoving LGBT characters in my face!”

“Does everyone have to be gay nowadays?”

“Why do I need to know a character’s sexuality? It doesn’t matter! This isn’t romance!”

 

The above statements are all things I have heard or seen in response to articles and blog posts about representation of LGBT+ characters in books, television and film. The number of people I have had lodge complaints to me about this very subject, especially concerning Hellbent Halo, has increased with the release of the third book.

As I sat down to start working on the 4th book in the series, it occurred to me that I could and should address the question. I’m in a unique position to do so as someone who is a part of the LGBT community, and as an author who does not write romance or reverse harem.

Why does genre fiction—horror, science fiction, and fantasy specifically—need one more LGBT character?

My gut response it to ask…Why do we need another cisgender straight hero? Going back, western literary tradition is chock full of straight white men falling in love with women. Every aspect of western storytelling has literally thousands of examples of cis hetero relationships, from film to books to oral traditions. As a friend of mine put it on Facebook, “Imagine if I stopped reading books about straight people. I’d never have anything to read.”

To be honest, it’s actually fairly easy to find lesbian or gay fiction outside of romance in 2019. There are lesbian and gay couples everywhere. I’ve been able to have same-sex romances in most of my video games for several years now. Gay themes and gay coming out stories are everywhere.

But what about the bisexuals?

The B in the LGBT is so often overlooked when it comes to representation in the media, but that’s especially true outside of romance. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled to see more bisexuals being represented in niche genres like reverse harem, but something about that just makes me a little uncomfortable too. It’s as if bisexual characters are only allowed to be bisexual in a sexual setting. None of these stories—at least none of the ones I’ve picked up—have talked about the bisexual experience, coming out as bi, and the unique challenges and struggles of bisexuals in a world that’s sometimes very binary.

Sadly, this is particularly true in the indie urban fantasy market, which is painfully full of toxic masculinity tropes, and where I’ve put down far too many series for making fun of anyone who doesn’t conform to the gender and sexual norms.

When I started writing Hellbent Halo, there were other authors actively discouraging me from writing in what one reviewer called “the unnecessary gay element” of Josiah’s past relationship with a man. Even the reviewer got it wrong. It’s not a gay element. It’s a bisexual element. We are invisible even to our readers, even when we put characters like us right in front of them.

But I’m not offended. I didn’t write Josiah as a homoromantic bisexual for them. I wrote it for me and people like me who didn’t grow up knowing bisexuality existed, for readers who grew up without an open dialogue, or who felt like they had to hide their attractions because they didn’t fit in a prescribed binary. Growing up, I often felt like a rectangular peg trying to fit in either a circular or square socket. If I twisted just the right way, I could fit in with one side, but that still meant being squished, contorted. Unhappy.

We need more bisexual characters in non-sexualized roles. More bisexual stories. More representation. It’s not an unnecessary element, it’s stories that haven’t been told, voices that have yet to be heard. Voices that should not be silenced because they make others uncomfortable.

Why do we need more LGBT characters in genre fiction outside of romance? Because we exist and we have all sorts of stories yet to tell.

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Josiah Quinn is the lead character in the Hellbent Halo series. You can read the books for free with Kindle Unlimited by clicking below:

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On Signing with a Publisher

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I’m excited to announce I recently signed a 21-book deal with LMBPN Publishing! That means The Judah Black Novels, Hellbent Halo, and The Lazarus Codex all have a new home.

When I first started publishing in 2016, I decided to indie publish my books for a variety of reasons. Urban fantasy was a hard sell in traditional markets, partly because a few big names were dominating the playing field, and agents/publishers just weren’t taking on new books in that area. As an indie published author, I also got to keep a much larger chunk of my book royalties and have 100% control over my publishing schedule, brand, and advertising. After talking to several authors on both sides—traditionally published and indie published—I decided that’s what I wanted to do.

I learned very quickly that it was more involved than I expected. When book sales started picking up with the publication of Death Rites, I was quickly overwhelmed. I was putting in 16- and 18-hour days and frequently working myself sick. You see, aside from all the writing, production of a book also requires spending a lot of time talking to designers, formatters, other authors for promotion, learning ads and marketing, editors. It was being “on” all the time, which is genuinely difficult for me, even if I enjoyed it.

At the same time all that was going on, I was involved in a child custody case with one of my stepchildren. The case dredged up some repressed memories and I found myself sitting in a doctor’s office while she explained complex post-traumatic stress disorder to me. The legal battle and the c-ptsd diagnosis affected me deeply late last year and I buried myself further in my work.

The downward spiral eventually meant I hit burn-out in November of 2018. I was so sick, mentally and physically, I couldn’t get out of bed for a week. At that point, I knew something had to change.

As much as I wanted to be in total control of my publishing empire, I knew I wasn’t doing a good job. In addition to the slow down in my publishing schedule, I brought on a personal assistant who took over a lot of the background work, saving me a TON of time. Working with Grace, I discovered giving up some control wasn’t a bad thing.

When a friend introduced me virtually to Michael Anderle at LMBPN publishing, I was skeptical. I was making a decent income. Signing with a publisher meant reduced royalties for me and I had just broken into making a livable income.

But working with a publisher also means I don’t have to shoulder the burden of publishing alone. It also meant having the backing of a powerhouse like LMBPN. I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ve been able to invest very little in advertising on my own. I don’t come from means. I jokingly call myself the Cinderella of indie publishing since I literally started doing this with negatives in my bank account. I can’t always pay for the multiple passes of editing and proofreading that the books need to be their best, or get the covers I think my books really need. I’m operating on a shoestring budget that hinders my reach as an author. I hope signing with LMBPN will help change all that for the better.

I have promised my readers from the beginning that I won’t ever put my name on a book that isn’t my absolute best work. That means every book I publish must meet minimum quality standards. That will continue to be the case. I will continue to write and publish the best books I possibly can for my readers. I firmly believe that my new relationship with LMBPN publishing will further those goals, and allow me to create a better work-life balance for myself and my family.

Thank you for supporting me and my publishing journey so far!

 

If you have any questions about the changeover, feel free to post them below or email me at eacopen@eacopen.com. There will also be more posts coming on the subject. 😊

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My top 5 Favorite Urban Fantasy Novels of All Time

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    Over the last decade, urban fantasy has EXPLODED as a genre. That’s great for fans like me, but how do you sift through the thousands of available books on Amazon? Where do you start and how do you know what’s good?

   Recommendations are how most readers are finding new books these days. You can find some of my favorite books below. Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Click on the images to learn more or to purchase the books from Amazon.*

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#5 Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits

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What’s a comic book doing on this list? Well, it’s urban fantasy and it’s a book. In my mind, that means it belongs here. It was a toss up between this one and Sandman Slim, which I thoroughly enjoyed (I love my anti-heroes) but I had to go with this one since it came first.

As a rule, I don’t read comic books, but when the TV show starring Matt Ryan ended, I needed my fix like this belligerent wizard needs his next cigarette. I picked up the first comic and had to change my mind. These are AMAZING and if you haven’t read them, you’re really missing out. 

Dangerous Habits is the 5th graphic novel and tells the story of how conman and conjurer John Constantine cheats death when faced with terminal lung cancer. It’s the story arc the Keanu Reeves movie was based on too. I never thought I’d be crying over a comic book magician. I also probably threw the book across the room a few times too. 

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#4 Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs

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I didn’t choose Mercy Thompson, despite being a HUGE fan, because I actually like her other series better. The way that Anna and Charles work together makes the whole thing worth reading. I would read about those two watching paint dry. They have SUCH strong personalities!   

I chose book 2 in the series, Hunting Ground, because I feel it showcases those personalities best. Plus, it has the most beautiful cover art of the whole series. This book was so compelling, it inspired me to write Cold Spell. I read it until the paperback fell apart and then I had to go get the hard cover.  

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#3 Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

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I avoided the Kate Daniels series for far too long because I thought it would be paranormal romance rather than urban fantasy. Boy was that a mistake. I knew I was going to love Kate from the moment the first vampire came into her home. They were creepy and undead…just the way vampires are supposed to be. (I’ve never liked sexy vampires.) While there is some romance in the series, there’s far more action. Kate and Curran are one of the most badass couples in the whole genre. 

In this installment, Kate and pack leader Curran travel to Europe in search of medicine for their pack. I chose this one because of the uniqueness of its setting, and because here is where Hugh’s story really gets interesting. (Hugh is an antagonist I love to hate, and he got his own series so YESSSS!)  Any book that kicks off a good villain redemption arc is going to get a fast track to being a favorite. I love my bad guys… 

 

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#2 Changes by Jim Butcher

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It’d be impossible to talk about urban fantasy without mentioning the king of urban fantasy himself… Jim Butcher. His Dresden Files series is largely responsible for the explosion in the genre, and a huge inspiration to me personally. 

It was hard to pick just one book in the series. I was torn between Changes, Turn Coat, and Dead Beat, which are my 3 favorite entries to the series. In the end had to pick the one that made me experience such a roller coaster of emotions I had to read it twice in a row. 

If you haven’t read Dresden, he’s a wizard living in modern day Chicago. He battles vampires, werewolves, and monsters of all kinds while straining to maintain his own humanity as his powers increase. From the wicked winter queen to Navajo skinwalkers, Dresden faces all comers…and the consequences of his decisions.

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#1: Grave Dealings by R.R. Virdi

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Virdi has been nominated for two Dragon Awards and a Nebula Award, the highest award in the industry for science fiction and fantasy. After reading this acclaimed series, it’s no wonder. 

On the surface, books in The Grave Report are heart-pounding supernatural thrillers featuring snarky soul without a body, Vincent Graves. He solves mysteries with help from a compelling cast of side characters. Delve deeper into these books and you’ll find they’re more than just an entertaining read, but also a treatise on life, humanity, and power dynamics. What does it mean to be human? Where does the human end and the monster begin? Why should we care? And why is there ectoplasm on my shoe? If you find any of these topics compelling, you’ll love The Grave Report. This third installment is the best so far, and I expect they’ll only get better as this young author gains more and more experience. 

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DISCLOSURE:
*Affiliate links were used in this post, which means if you click the link and make a purchase, I get a small kickback.* 

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Smoke & Mirrors: Chapter One

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JOSIAH

I staggered into the church after midnight, a mostly empty bottle in my hand. Thunder rumbled outside, the voice of an angry father. If you listened close enough, you could hear God’s belt snap against the raw, exposed flesh of the world. Lightning flashes of pain lit pale, shivering storm clouds. Fat raindrops pounded against the stained glass while angry wind howled.

The power was out, but it was bright inside thanks in part to hundreds of white wax candles at the front of the room. A few parishioners warmed the pews, heads bowed in silent prayer while the blessed virgin stood up front, arms open.

Rain trailed down from my wet hair, slipping under my collar. I tugged on the stained blue tie and pulled the white cotton fabric of my shirt away from where it was clinging to my chest. It’d been a hell of a walk in the rainstorm, and I was too pissed to recall the exact name of the church. It was Orthodox, and out of the way, not one of the big, fancy churches, but a small and humble place whose doors were always open. Supposed it didn’t really matter, as I wasn’t there to pray.

I drew an arm over my mouth and scanned the place, looking for the priest. It was late, too late for traditional confessional hours, so I walked up the wide aisle between pews to confront the robed man in the front of the room. Halfway up, I stumbled and caught myself on a pew, startling one of the parishioners.

She looked up at me, wide-eyed, and stood. “Are you hurt?” She reached to touch me.

I jerked away and found my feet, swaying. “Piss off.” My voice bounced off the walls, the echo punctuated by thunder and lightning. I spun a half circle, using the hand that held the bottle to point at all the others whose prayers I’d interrupted. “All of you can go get fucked! You hear me? Fuckin’ bleeding heart helpless twats. What’re you prayin’ for anyway? Health? Happiness? Fuck that. Get out. Go on, get out and go make your own damn happiness. God’s not going to do shit for you needy wankers.”

They stared at me, deer eyes in headlights.

I leaned to the side and placed the bottle in the nearest pew, barely managing to stay upright. With a firm shove, I got back to my feet and clapped my hands together, letting the sound echo a moment before pulling my hands apart. There, floating between my hands was a ball of brilliant blue flame. Angel fire, one of the few unique gifts my unusual parentage had left me. “I said get out!”

With a flourish, I clapped my hands back together and let the fire erupt into screaming sparks of light.

Several shrieks went up from the unwary prayer warriors as they abandoned their private battles and fled.

The priest at the front of the room sighed, unbothered as he snuffed out one of the low burning candles. “You don’t have a monopoly on God’s time, Josiah. Those people had every right to be here.”

I ignored his scolding and picked my bottle back up for another swig. “What for?”

“Prayer?” He put down the snuffer and turned his back on the candles to walk toward me. “Comfort. Peace. Whatever they feel they get from it.”

“You know as well as I do that no one up there gives a shit about the people down here, Father Mirren.”

“Reverend would be more correct, Josiah. This is a Greek Orthodox congregation.” Mirrien walked down the aisle toward me, moving silently, slowly, as if we had all night. “What can I do for you tonight, Josiah?”

My breath caught, throat suddenly on fire. I’d had too much to drink and there it was trying to crawl back up. I swallowed the fire and the sour taste with it. Reverend Mirrien and I didn’t know each other well. He’d been the only priest in the city willing to perform funerary rites for Danny when he passed. Manus Dei wanted to cremate Danny’s remains and probably dump them in some alley somewhere. Bunch of pricks.

But not Mirren. For all his flaws, he was a decent man as far as I could tell. That was the only reason I’d gone so far out of my way to give him a hard time.

“How about a confession, Reverend?” I spread my arms wide. “I could do with a little absolution.”

“You could do with a hot meal and some rest. When was the last time you slept?” He put a gentle hand on my back and led me to the nearest pew where he bid me to sit.

I shook my head. “What day is it again?”

The pew creaked as he sat down next to me, close enough to be intimate but still far enough away to be comfortable. For a long moment, neither of us spoke. Wasn’t much point. He was busy composing himself so he’d come off as concerned instead of condescending, and I just didn’t have anything to say.

I lifted my gaze from the floor to stare at the flickering flames. There must’ve been a hundred fires, each one dancing in some wind I could neither see nor feel. Yet it must’ve been there. What else would move them like that?

“You know I don’t give two fucks about God and all that,” I said. “I don’t know why I’m here.”

“Here in this church or in the world?”

I scowled at the priest. Damn him for twisting everything into some unanswerable question. “What about you? Why’re you here? And don’t feed me any of that seminary bullshit about God and his plans. Why’re you really here?”

Mirren leaned one arm against the back of the pew, a small smile and a memory playing on his face like an old movie. “I suppose I like the comfort of it. The certainty that there’s more to my meager existence than a constant cycle of dieting, paying my bills, and getting stuck in traffic. This profession gives me a rigid code to live by and I find peace in that.”

“Certainty.” I repeated the word like a curse. “It’s a synonym for fuckin’ monotony, is what it is.”

“We’ve all got to have some peace in our life, Josiah. Something to look forward to. Some reason to get up in the morning, to keep going.”

“Something to hunt.” I lifted the bottle in a toast to the front of the room.

He folded his hands and twisted in his seat to regard me. “Guilt and vengeance don’t have to drive you, Josiah. Those things eat away at your soul. Strong as you are, even you can’t carry that burden forever. Sooner or later, you have to give that up, or at least let someone help you carry that heavy load, or else it will crush you.”

I grunted and pulled a pack of cigarettes from my pocket. The reverend wouldn’t let me light up inside the church, but he couldn’t stop me from chewing on one at least. “Who said anything about guilt?”

Mirren heaved a heavy sigh and shook his head. “I just don’t get you. God’s given you a second chance, Josiah, whether you want to acknowledge that or not. If you would just learn to let go—”

“Do you have any work for me or don’t you?” I glanced over at the priest who’d frozen with his mouth open.

He had to have known since I showed up that I was looking or something to do. Normally, I’d have just waited for God’s Hand to call. They had jobs that needed doing every couple of weeks. But I’d just come off a job doing protection for a goddess in New Orleans that hadn’t gone so well. I was doing my best to lay low so I didn’t have to answer any questions, and that meant not informing Manus Dei that I was back in town. I needed something to keep me busy. That didn’t mean I needed to kiss the God Squad’s ass.

The priest sighed and fished a slip of paper out of his pocket. After glancing around to make sure we were still alone, he pressed the paper into my hand. I unfolded the paper and glanced down at the candid photo of a thin, dark-haired man. In the photo, he wore sunglasses and held a brown bottle. His clothing consisted of blue jeans and a short-sleeved button down that he’d left unbuttoned enough to give a glimpse of a large tattoo on his chest. I couldn’t make out what it was at that angle, only that part of it was written in Greek. I flipped the picture over and found a name printed on the back: Stefan Nikolaides.

“He’s a friend of a friend,” said the priest, folding his hands. “Went missing a few days ago.”

I looked up from the photo. “Missing or missing?”

Mirren frowned.

“Come on, Reverend. I’ve been around enough to know a made man when I see one. Nikolaides is a Greek name. I can put two and two together, even piss drunk.”

He sighed. “There was a change in leadership about a month ago. A lot of Georgie Komnosis’ people went missing.”

I snorted and tried to hand the picture back. “Went to the bottom of the East River more like. And that’s if they were lucky.”

Mirren refused it. “Keep it. And Stefan wasn’t one of them. He was indispensable to the organization. No one would dare touch him, not without drawing the attention of Athens, which isn’t a good thing. No, if Stefan has been missing this long, it’s because he doesn’t want to be found. Alexi Komnosis—that would be Georgie’s nephew—has offered a favor to anyone who can find him.”

A favor from a local crime boss was a powerful thing, and currency that wasn’t easy to get. A lot of men would be willing to kill for it. Chances were good that every Greek person in the tri-state area was on alert, searching for Stefan. “What makes you think I can find him?”

The pew creaked as he shifted his weight. “You have a reputation for completing impossible tasks. You’re also not Greek or connected to the Greeks in any way.”

“Nor the Italians, the Russians, the Serbians, the Jamaicans or anyone else. Guess that makes me a rare thing.”

He nodded. “A man with power, beholden to none. If anyone can find Stefan, it’s you.”

I stood and tucked the photo into my pocket. “And when I find him, what is it you want me to do with him? Bring him to you? What’s stopping me from taking him straight to Alexi to claim the favor for myself?”

“A sense of loyalty. Honor. And the five thousand dollars I’ll give you when you deliver him to me alive.”

I smiled. “Now we’re talking. Anything besides the picture to go on? New York is a big city.”

He tugged on his collar, but not as a sign of nervousness. His fingers hooked on something he wore beneath the collar and he lifted it for me to see. It was an amulet, a magical one that would’ve been made with a spot of blood and a spark of magic under a full moon to work. This one was shaped like an ivy wrapped rod of wood.

Used to be such amulets were everywhere to ward against what the less educated would call the Evil Eye. More like they absorbed any magic that was meant for the wearer. The pulsing blue topaz in the center dulled and lost its luster when it was hit with a spell, making the amulet good for one-time use only. This one was still glowing bright.

I knew the symbols of several gods, but this wasn’t one I knew well.

“Dionysus,” said the priest, lifting the amulet to examine it. “God of wine, fertility, and madness. It was Stefan’s. He almost never took it off, but left it in his apartment when he fled along with most of his other belongings.” He pulled the amulet off and handed it to me.

I whistled, turning it over in my hands. “Heavy duty protection spell. Why leave it behind when you’re going on the run? How certain are you that he’s still alive?”

“I’m not,” the priest answered with a frown. “But I pray he is. There aren’t many good men left in the organization, Josiah. I don’t know if I’d call Stefan a good man, but he’s better than most.” 

“I’ll find out what happened to him,” I said, folding the photo around the amulet and dropping both into my pocket. “You have my word.”

Reverend Mirren nodded gravely.

I stood, retrieving my bottle from where it rested on the pew next to me.

“Josiah?” Mirren pulled himself to his feet using the back of the pew in front of him. “I know you don’t want to hear this, but Danny wouldn’t want this for you. Not the real Danny Monahan. He cared about you, and I know you cared about him. Mourn if you need to, Josiah. Please. Don’t bottle this and let it eat you from the inside out.”

I was about to tell the reverend to stuff it when my cell phone buzzed in my pocket. With a frown, I fished it out and watched my partner’s name dance across the screen followed by a text message. CALL ME. GOT WORK FROM THE GOD SQUAD.

Bugger all, of course they’d found out I was back in town. They had spies on every corner. Whatever the work was, it could wait. I had one more stop to make.

“Best get yourself one of these amulets, Reverend,” I advised, stuffing the phone back into my pocket. “Seems it’s a dangerous time to be Greek in this city.”

Outside, the churchyard was quiet but for the sound of rain rolling off the tombstones. The raging storm had passed, moving out over the bay, the only sign of its passing the occasional lightning strike in the distance.

Danny’s stone sat in the corner of the yard, far from all the others. It wouldn’t have been right to put him with all the rest. An exceptional man deserved an exceptional final resting place. For Danny, that meant putting him under the strong arms of a stubborn oak. The tree had defied all odds and grown up through a crack in a boulder that once served as a boundary stone. Over the years, it split the rock wide open, but rather than destroy it, the oak grew long boughs and now sheltered the broken rock from wind and snow. Even when the leaves fell and left the branches naked, they reached wide, doing the best they could.

I bought him a black granite headstone because I thought he would never have liked the white. Always did like to stand out. My palm moved over the rough edge at the top, brushing away a few wet leaves. Mirren was kind enough to sprinkle some grass seed over the dirt some months back, but it had yet to take root and grow. Too cold yet. We’d have to sow more seeds once the bitter cold was a distant memory.

I sighed and sat in the mud with my bottle, pulling my jacket closer. “Happy birthday, mate,” I said, raising the bottle. “Fine weather for it. Always did like the rain, didn’t you?”

The only answer was the distant roll of thunder, and the gentle tap of rain on granite.

I poured a libation to the dead and raised the bottle to my lips, resolved to ignore the phone still ringing in my pocket and drink until I forgot the bloody thing was there.

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You can pre-order Smoke & Mirrors today. Click on the link below to check it out on Amazon. 

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Working for Heaven can be a living hell, especially when your name is Josiah Quinn.

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DISCLOSURE:
*Affiliate links were used in this post, which means if you click the link and make a purchase, I get a small kickback.* 

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Fractured Souls: Change in Release Date

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Life is stressful. Deadlines are stressful. Having a life and writing on a deadline? Insanely stressful.

As an independently published author, I didn’t used to use deadlines. I didn’t like the idea of being boxed in by having a date to meet. It felt like added pressure and the very idea scared the hell out of me. When I started using them, however, my productivity jumped from only putting out 4 books a year to releasing 10 last year and completing two more. I tripled the number of books I completed per year with one simple tool.

Deadlines.

Basically, I started out releasing Death Rites, Organ Grind, and Shallow Grave a month apart. That meant I had to have really tight scheduling and not miss any deadlines. I was writing books in 21 days. Was it stressful? Oh, you bet. But the payoff was worth it.

Eventually, I decided I couldn’t keep that up because of some personal things going on—family stress, moving, etc—and I spaced the book releases out to one every 60 days instead of one every 30.

Right now, however, The Lazarus Codex books are coming out even slower at one every 90 days. That’s because all that wonderful productivity ground to a halt when I moved from Ohio to Kentucky. I was blindsided by a serious bout of depression. As the work piled up, the darkness around me only seemed to multiply and I found it near impossible to get out of bed every day, let alone get to the keyboard and churn out thousands of words. From the date the move was confirmed in October 2018 until halfway through February of 2019, I wrote one book, Dark Revel. It took me 4 months to complete an 80,000 word novel where it used to take me just days.

By the time Dark Revel came out, I was feeling much better. I had my depression under control, and I was settling into life in Kentucky.
However, I was hopelessly behind. Turns out writing thousands of words a day wasn’t something I can just sit down and do after not doing it for 4 months. I fell out of practice. Concentrating for long periods was even more difficult. More days crept by where I didn’t get as many words down as I wanted.

I got overwhelmed trying to play catch up, both with my writing and all the other aspects of running my own business. There were taxes to take care of, people to email back, plans to set in motion.

So when it came time to set a release date for the very first book in my new spin-off series, Hellbent Halo, I sort of just picked a date and went with it. It felt like April was a really long way away.

Then, yesterday, while I was looking at a countdown to Avengers: Endgame I realized I’d set Fractured Souls to release the same day as Endgame! Since it’s basically going to be the cinema event of the year among my geeky core fanbase, that was a BIG mistake! Rather than push it back a week, I moved the release date up to the 19th.

Sadly, I’m still not caught up and it’s leaving me scrambling a bit. No fear, however. I’ll get it done in time. It just means some 12 and 14-hour work days between now and then. But that’s the life of an independent author, isn’t it?

I’m hoping to settle back into a routine soon that allows me to get back to writing more impressive word counts like I used to, and completing a book in 3 weeks or less. That’s going to take time. It also means there won’t be another Lazarus book out until June, since Dark Horse was actually supposed to be done in February. As of April 10th, it’s not even half done, but getting there in record time.

After Dark Horse, I’ll be starting work on the second Hellbent Halo book, due out in July. That should put me back on schedule to get a book out every month the second half of this year.

I want to thank my readers for their patience and understanding. I know it’s not easy to wait on books. I just finished a book (Grave Destiny by Kalayna Price) and now have to wait a good while until book 7 is out, so I know the feeling! But I love the Grave Witch books and I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait, as I hope the rest of The Lazarus Codex books will be for my readers.

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A rogue wizard. A reckless mission. Who knew rescuing the devil’s daughter would raise holy hell?

Click the cover below to reserve your copy of Fractured Souls for release day!

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Meet The Devil’s Daughter

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     As soon as I finished writing Shallow Grave, I knew I wanted to tell Khaleda Morningstar’s story. I mean, she’s the Devil’s daughter. You don’t get to be a much more interesting character than that in my book. Plus, the only side of her story I was ever able to tell in The Lazarus Codex got filtered through Lazarus’s cis-het white male POV. While he tries to be a progressive male, he’s still himself. I knew Khaleda deserved her own story, but was never sure exactly how to weave it into the complex world of gods, monsters, angels and demons.

     Until Death’s Door. After the events of Death Match where she convinces Lazarus to help her in her (failed) assassination attempt against her father, dear old dad decides she’s in need of some parental guidance. Of course, being the Devil, his version of punishment is twisted and monstrous. Death’s Door only lightly touches on some of the torture that Khaleda undergoes.

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While Fractured Souls doesn’t unpack all of it, it does go further into showing her cope with PTSD, finding her identity as a person and not just a weapon, and reclaiming control over her own future.

Fractured Souls is very much a story about overcoming PTSD, both for Khaleda and Josiah, a topic I’m intimately familiar with. I’ve battled my own complex PTSD hard over the last two years, coping with traumatic events from my childhood. Coming out on the other side of such a fight is disorienting. Once you’ve come to terms with past abuse, and left behind your abusers, there’s a moment where you’re not quite sure who you are without that painful past to define you, something I tried to showcase in Khaleda’s narrative in Fractured Souls. Childhood trauma often goes on for years and leaves PTSD sufferers without a strong sense of identity. The challenge for adult survivors of PTSD is to re-define themselves and their purpose.

Raised by Lucifer to be an assassin for Hell, Khaleda’s identity was formed early on, not by her choices, but by the choices her father made for her. He sent her all over the world where she seduced and killed whomever she was ordered to, or helped Lucifer cement alliances and favorable business deals.

By the opening of Fractured Souls, she’s left this life behind. The perpetrator of her abuse—her father—is dead at the hands of the Pale Horseman and Josiah, who helped rescue her. While she’s also dealing with a sense of loss (her father is dead and she feels the need to mourn him, despite all that’s happened) she’s also confused by the sadness that overtakes her. After all, why would she want to mourn the man who handed her to demons to torture?   

All these things are parts of Khaleda that Lazarus never gets to see, as he’s generally too concerned with his own safety and wellbeing. He views Khaleda as an uneasy ally at best, and a free-will sucking monster at worst. Since free will is one of Lazarus’ most important ideologies, he can never fully trust someone who can take it away from the innocent with something as innocuous as a kiss.

In Fractured Souls, however, I hope Khaleda was able to prove that her most dangerous weapon wasn’t her succubus powers, or her connection to Hell, but her tenacity. Even when the going gets tough, and the monsters seem unbeatable, she won’t walk away. Maybe it’s out of spite. Or maybe there’s something deeper going on.

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You can pre-order Fractured Souls today. Click on the link below to check it out on Amazon. 

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A reformed succubus. A devilish old flame. This rescue mission just went off the deep end…

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DISCLOSURE:
*Affiliate links were used in this post, which means if you click the link and make a purchase, I get a small kickback.* 

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What’s Your Favorite Christmas Movie? Vote here!

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I’m going to tell you a secret. I’m not a big fan of Christmas. Maybe it comes from my ten years in retail sales. Maybe I watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas one too many times as a kid. Who knows? I’m just not a fan of all the rushing around! I prefer a much more low-key Christmas. 

Movies are one of my favorite holiday activities. A cup of hot coacoa, a cozy blanket, and a good movie are the best way to spend a chilly December evening!

So, I polled some friends on Facebook about their favorite Christmas movies and took some of their entries, mixed them with my own, and came up with this bracket of 16 Christmas movies. Which one is the best?

For me, it came down to Star Wars and The Grinch. I won’t tell you which one I voted for, but it was a difficult choice. 

Once you’ve voted, feel free to share your results with the rest of the Wizards in E.A. Copen’s Book Wizards on Facebook!

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And so the adventure begins

Sic enim censent, oportunitatis esse beate vivere.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Videsne quam sit magna dissensio? Ergo, si semel tristior effectus est, hilara vita amissa est?

Quam illa ardentis amores excitaret sui! Cur tandem?

Si enim ad populum me vocas, eum. Et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. Quodsi vultum tibi, si incessum fingeres, quo gravior viderere, non esses tui similis; Cum id fugiunt, re eadem defendunt, quae Peripatetici, verba. Qui igitur convenit ab alia voluptate dicere naturam proficisci, in alia summum bonum ponere? Non modo carum sibi quemque, verum etiam vehementer carum esse? Nonne videmus quanta perturbatio rerum omnium consequatur, quanta confusio? Haec quo modo conveniant, non sane intellego.

Duarum enim vitarum nobis erunt instituta capienda.

Sequitur disserendi ratio cognitioque naturae; Ad eos igitur converte te, quaeso. Ne in odium veniam, si amicum destitero tueri. Dempta enim aeternitate nihilo beatior Iuppiter quam Epicurus; His enim rebus detractis negat se reperire in asotorum vita quod reprehendat. Philosophi autem in suis lectulis plerumque moriuntur. Itaque his sapiens semper vacabit. Quod non faceret, si in voluptate summum bonum poneret. Etsi qui potest intellegi aut cogitari esse aliquod animal, quod se oderit? Quaesita enim virtus est, non quae relinqueret naturam, sed quae tueretur. Quid est enim aliud esse versutum?

Et certamen honestum et disputatio splendida! omnis est enim de virtutis dignitate contentio. Quippe: habes enim a rhetoribus; Idem etiam dolorem saepe perpetiuntur, ne, si id non faciant, incidant in maiorem. Expectoque quid ad id, quod quaerebam, respondeas. Quo plebiscito decreta a senatu est consuli quaestio Cn.

Quis suae urbis conservatorem Codrum?

Certe, nisi voluptatem tanti aestimaretis. Quod autem principium officii quaerunt, melius quam Pyrrho; Nunc haec primum fortasse audientis servire debemus. Quia dolori non voluptas contraria est, sed doloris privatio. Quid, si non sensus modo ei sit datus, verum etiam animus hominis? Quod cum ille dixisset et satis disputatum videretur, in oppidum ad Pomponium perreximus omnes. Sed ad rem redeamus; Nec vero sum nescius esse utilitatem in historia, non modo voluptatem. Tu vero, inquam, ducas licet, si sequetur;

  1. Aeque enim contingit omnibus fidibus, ut incontentae sint.
  2. Certe nihil nisi quod possit ipsum propter se iure laudari.
  3. Te enim iudicem aequum puto, modo quae dicat ille bene noris.

Aliter enim nosmet ipsos nosse non possumus. Certe non potest. Et non ex maxima parte de tota iudicabis? Hoc non est positum in nostra actione.

An vero quisquam potest probare, quod perceptfum, quod.

Non modo carum sibi quemque, verum etiam vehementer carum esse? Apparet statim, quae sint officia, quae actiones. Sed potestne rerum maior esse dissensio? Egone non intellego, quid sit don Graece, Latine voluptas? Cupit enim dícere nihil posse ad beatam vitam deesse sapienti. Sapientem locupletat ipsa natura, cuius divitias Epicurus parabiles esse docuit. Idem adhuc; Nam, ut sint illa vendibiliora, haec uberiora certe sunt.

An est aliquid per se ipsum flagitiosum, etiamsi nulla comitetur infamia? Nihil ad rem! Ne sit sane; Saepe ab Aristotele, a Theophrasto mirabiliter est laudata per se ipsa rerum scientia;

Duarum enim vitarum nobis erunt instituta capienda.

Duo Reges: constructio interrete. In qua quid est boni praeter summam voluptatem, et eam sempiternam? Ut placet, inquit, etsi enim illud erat aptius, aequum cuique concedere. Satis est tibi in te, satis in legibus, satis in mediocribus amicitiis praesidii. In qua quid est boni praeter summam voluptatem, et eam sempiternam? Illi enim inter se dissentiunt. Quid autem habent admirationis, cum prope accesseris? In quibus doctissimi illi veteres inesse quiddam caeleste et divinum putaverunt.

Tum ille timide vel potius verecunde: Facio, inquit. Sin laboramus, quis est, qui alienae modum statuat industriae? Servari enim iustitia nisi a forti viro, nisi a sapiente non potest. Itaque his sapiens semper vacabit. Legimus tamen Diogenem, Antipatrum, Mnesarchum, Panaetium, multos alios in primisque familiarem nostrum Posidonium. Non igitur potestis voluptate omnia dirigentes aut tueri aut retinere virtutem. Ergo adhuc, quantum equidem intellego, causa non videtur fuisse mutandi nominis. Neque solum ea communia, verum etiam paria esse dixerunt. Sed ad haec, nisi molestum est, habeo quae velim. Isto modo, ne si avia quidem eius nata non esset. Atqui haec patefactio quasi rerum opertarum, cum quid quidque sit aperitur, definitio est. Beatus sibi videtur esse moriens.

  1. Inquit, dasne adolescenti veniam?
  2. Scripta sane et multa et polita, sed nescio quo pacto auctoritatem oratio non habet.
  3. Sed vos squalidius, illorum vides quam niteat oratio.
  4. Haec mihi videtur delicatior, ut ita dicam, molliorque ratio, quam virtutis vis gravitasque postulat.
  5. De maximma autem re eodem modo, divina mente atque natura mundum universum et eius maxima partis administrari.

Illa argumenta propria videamus, cur omnia sint paria peccata. Quarum ambarum rerum cum medicinam pollicetur, luxuriae licentiam pollicetur. Illa sunt similia: hebes acies est cuipiam oculorum, corpore alius senescit; Scisse enim te quis coarguere possit? Negat enim summo bono afferre incrementum diem.

We rise by lifting others

Duo Reges: constructio interrete

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cur id non ita fit? Cupiditates non Epicuri divisione finiebat, sed sua satietate. Scaevola tribunus plebis ferret ad plebem vellentne de ea re quaeri. Ita ne hoc quidem modo paria peccata sunt.

Si qua in iis corrigere voluit, deteriora fecit. Quamquam non negatis nos intellegere quid sit voluptas, sed quid ille dicat. Qui autem voluptate vitam effici beatam putabit, qui sibi is conveniet, si negabit voluptatem crescere longinquitate? Tu autem negas fortem esse quemquam posse, qui dolorem malum putet. Magni enim aestimabat pecuniam non modo non contra leges, sed etiam legibus partam. Quicquid porro animo cernimus, id omne oritur a sensibus;

  1. Nisi enim id faceret, cur Plato Aegyptum peragravit, ut a sacerdotibus barbaris numeros et caelestia acciperet?
  2. Et quidem illud ipsum non nimium probo et tantum patior, philosophum loqui de cupiditatibus finiendis.
  3. Quamquam in hac divisione rem ipsam prorsus probo, elegantiam desidero.
  4. Semper enim ex eo, quod maximas partes continet latissimeque funditur, tota res appellatur.

Varietates autem iniurasque fortunae facile veteres philosophorum praeceptis instituta vita superabat. Bonum integritas corporis: misera debilitas. Ergo id est convenienter naturae vivere, a natura discedere. Expectoque quid ad id, quod quaerebam, respondeas. Sine ea igitur iucunde negat posse se vivere? Nam quid possumus facere melius? Bonum negas esse divitias, praeposìtum esse dicis? Non minor, inquit, voluptas percipitur ex vilissimis rebus quam ex pretiosissimis. Fortitudinis quaedam praecepta sunt ac paene leges, quae effeminari virum vetant in dolore. Vide, quantum, inquam, fallare, Torquate.

Qua tu etiam inprudens utebare non numquam. Nec vero sum nescius esse utilitatem in historia, non modo voluptatem. Quae hic rei publicae vulnera inponebat, eadem ille sanabat. Nec enim, dum metuit, iustus est, et certe, si metuere destiterit, non erit; Haec para/doca illi, nos admirabilia dicamus. Mihi vero, inquit, placet agi subtilius et, ut ipse dixisti, pressius.

Ab his oratores publicarum principes extiterunt.

Huius ego nunc auctoritatem sequens idem faciam. Inde sermone vario sex illa a Dipylo stadia confecimus.

Ut proverbia non nulla veriora sint quam vestra dogmata. Itaque si aut requietem natura non quaereret aut eam posset alia quadam ratione consequi. Expectoque quid ad id, quod quaerebam, respondeas. Ergo, inquit, tibi Q. Itaque e contrario moderati aequabilesque habitus, affectiones ususque corporis apti esse ad naturam videntur. Quibus ego vehementer assentior.

Si alia sentit, inquam, alia loquitur, numquam intellegam quid sentiat; Quid est enim aliud esse versutum? Esse enim quam vellet iniquus iustus poterat inpune. Placet igitur tibi, Cato, cum res sumpseris non concessas, ex illis efficere, quod velis? Itaque rursus eadem ratione, qua sum paulo ante usus, haerebitis. Polemoni et iam ante Aristoteli ea prima visa sunt, quae paulo ante dixi. Profectus in exilium Tubulus statim nec respondere ausus;

Ergo id est convenienter naturae vivere, a natura discedere. Si enim, ut mihi quidem videtur, non explet bona naturae voluptas, iure praetermissa est; Scio enim esse quosdam, qui quavis lingua philosophari possint; Quamquam haec quidem praeposita recte et reiecta dicere licebit. Itaque primos congressus copulationesque et consuetudinum instituendarum voluntates fieri propter voluptatem; Si stante, hoc natura videlicet vult, salvam esse se, quod concedimus; Quamvis enim depravatae non sint, pravae tamen esse possunt. Si enim ad populum me vocas, eum.

Qua tu etiam inprudens utebare non numquam. Heri, inquam, ludis commissis ex urbe profectus veni ad vesperum. Si verbum sequimur, primum longius verbum praepositum quam bonum. Non igitur bene.

  1. At vero illa, quae Peripatetici, quae Stoici dicunt, semper tibi in ore sunt in iudiciis, in senatu.
  2. Si de re disceptari oportet, nulla mihi tecum, Cato, potest esse dissensio.
  3. Varietates autem iniurasque fortunae facile veteres philosophorum praeceptis instituta vita superabat.
  4. Habent enim et bene longam et satis litigiosam disputationem.

Semper enim ex eo, quod maximas partes continet latissimeque funditur, tota res appellatur. Verum tamen cum de rebus grandioribus dicas, ipsae res verba rapiunt; Profectus in exilium Tubulus statim nec respondere ausus; Ita fit cum gravior, tum etiam splendidior oratio. Nunc de hominis summo bono quaeritur; Verum hoc loco sumo verbis his eandem certe vim voluptatis Epicurum nosse quam ceteros. Nummus in Croesi divitiis obscuratur, pars est tamen divitiarum.