Thursday, October 30, 2014

What Horrifies this Horror Scribe

It’s Halloween season again.  If you’re like me, I hope this means you’re taking this time to indulge in all your favorite horror stories, both on-screen and in print.  I thought I’d share my all-time favorite scary stories.  My criteria?  Not merely whether they kept me up for a night or two.  No, these are the tales that have haunted my dreams ever after, that have irrevocably altered the landscape of my imagination. For me, it's not the usual suspects -- it's not the vampires, werewolves, Frankensteins or zombies -- that do the trick.  From the all-too plausible (post-apocalypse scenarios) to the outre (extradimensional forces battling for the fate of mankind), I'm always fascinated with what new ways authors come up with to terrify and entertain us.   

The Road by Cormac McCarthy - One of my all-time favorite novels, period.  McCarthy is known for being a master stylist, and I found his prose in The Road to be a revelation.  It’s stark and fragmented, which perfectly reflects a stark, fragmented world.  The first time I read this book, I got about 15 pages in and had to set it aside for a day or so because it was so unrelentingly bleak.  A beautiful and devastating work, which also happens to include post-apocalyptic cannibal hordes.  Walking Dead, eat your heart out.  Ah, zombie humor.  That’s good stuff. 

"Feeders and Eaters" by Neil Gaiman - A short story from Gaiman's collection, Fragile Things.  I've long been of the opinion that Gaiman is at his best in the short story medium, and this tale sort of clinches it for me.  F&E is the tale of a man whose little old lady neighbor has a peculiar craving for raw meat.  The ending made me feel physically sick.  That, my friends, is some very effective horror. 

Insomnia by Stephen King - It was a close tie for me between this and It.  Don’t get me wrong, the Turtle and the deadlights really fuck with my head.  But it was Insomnia's little bald doctors with their scalpels and scissors that-- well, gave me insomnia.  Plan to sleep with the lights on with this one.   

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski - Much has been made over this anything-but-quaint and curious volume, and deservedly so.  Is it horror?  A love story?  A scathing send-up of academic writing?  Whatever it is, Danielewski’s minotaur of a tale features some thrillingly original horror imagery.  To this day, I still eye walls and spaces suspiciously, not entirely convinced that the rooms in my home aren’t misbehaving.  

The Entity by Frank De Filetta - I first read this one when I was about 11 years old.  (I know, I know.  Too young.  My mother didn’t censor my reading material at all, which was something of a mixed blessing.)  I remember how disturbed I was by the violence and hopelessness depicted in this book, and the leering “based on a true story” tagline.  I'm not into torture porn, but I found a woman being kept in physical agony by a demon to be viscerally affecting. 

What are your favorite horror reads?  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"Bravo, Blue Monday Poets!"

As some of you may recall, I was the featured poet at the Uptown Art Bar’s Blue Monday earlier this month, which is co-sponsored by the KC Writers Place.  I read a series of new poems—so new, in fact, that I haven’t even posted them anywhere online.  The poems were:

Garbage Pail Kids
Life Support, or Things no one tells you about dealing with a terminally-ill spouse
The Hug Barrier
No, I Don't Have a Foot Fetish

In the audience that evening was Rane Bo Cross, the force behind Paraplui Productions and the Fishnets Experiment.  She did a write-up of the event.  

I think it’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about my work:

“The night really began and ended with the featured poet of the night.  Our shaggy-haired host, Mr. Hughes, takes over the mic to proudly introduce Lauren Scharhag, and purr-growls his promise to us that we won’t be disappointed, then hands the stage off to this unassuming woman who looks so pleasant and gentle.  She briefly introduces herself and informs us of a last minute rearrangement in her poetry playlist, then proceeds to upend her 'Garbage Pail Kids' right onto the invisible table in front of us – lifting the bucket up and away so that we can see the spread up close and personal, can inspect it with our own noses.  She has me pumping my fist in silent cheers one second, then the next she gives me a good, hard elbow in the ribs to remind just how good I really had it as a child.

“After the applause ends, she apologizes and warns us that she is about to take us to the dark side, where it gets deep and heavy, but she promises to reward us with something lighter and happier at the end.  I settle in for a creepy female Poe/slightly crazy Plath something or other, but what she dishes in my lap is a torturous heart squeezing list . . . The List of Things Learned while caring for a spouse-lover-friend-partner who is terminally ill.  Her list stabbed me in my scarred over wounds, dug up and into my worst fears, and let me weep for one minute after another after another in her brutally honest, yet gently forceful way.  I was unable to write more than a two word scrawl for later in my notepad, didn’t care about taking notes.  I was with her all the way down the roller coaster.

“After wringing my tear ducts into silent submission, she makes good on her word and delivers a much needed, albeit 'Awkward Hug' and the laughter bubbling up through her reading of the poem is the real reward at the end.  She truly was more hilarious and entertaining than the handful of comedians I saw doing stand-up at the next event on the same stage once the poetry time was up, and I swear her manner and method and strength of delivery has to have doubled the power of her words.  And I realize that this is exactly why poetry reading nights exist, so the Laurens of the world have a place to make their real art come to life.

“Bravo, Blue Monday Poets, and well done!  Now, if you can just find me a soft cushy chair for my bony butt to sit in, I will be there every month possible.”

I don’t even know what to say, Rane.  Thank you so, so much.  As a fellow artist, I’m sure you understand how important it is to receive this kind of feedback and encouragement.  Anytime I have doubts about what I’m doing, I’ll be able to come back to this and find the motivation to go on. 

To see the rest of the Blue Monday photos and Rane’s commentary, check out her Fishnet Experiments page on Facebook.  

Be sure to come to the next Blue Monday, every second Monday at the Uptown Arts Bar in Kansas City, MO!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

10 Questions for Indie Author Charissa Dufour

1. Congratulations on publishing your debut novel, Sucked In.  Tell us about the book-- what inspired you to write it? 

Thank you! Sucked In is the first in the series that just plain sucks. It’s a ridiculous romp through the world of vampires, fae, and werewolves. Sucked In answers the question “What would the author of sappy, vampire romance novels make of the real thing?”

Ashley Hawn, my main character, struggles to transition to her new life as a vampire. The change is made extra difficult by the fact that nearly every supernatural being is after her.

The story came to life when my husband and I were sitting on our back porch, making fun of Twilight, and one of us said “What would happen if Stephanie Meyer was suddenly turned into a vampire only to learn that vampires don’t sparkle?” A half hour later, we had the bare bones of the plot. Many years later, I had a college degree and a finished book.

2. How much of the book is pure fiction and how much is rooted in real events, or even autobiographical?

Great question. There is a surprising amount of this book that is from my real life. There’s a mention of how the main character broke her nose which I took from how I broke my nose. Other small pieces are also from my life.

Most, but not all, of the main characters are based on real people in my life. In fact, I often message the person who inspired the character and ask them what they would do, think, or wear in this particular situation. My work is really a collaboration of minds. I think it makes it the story more interesting, more rounded.

3. Which of your character(s) do you identify with the most?

The main character is based off a mix of me and a dear friend of mine, meaning I obviously connect with her. She is me, except with red hair and a vampire.

4. Why did you become a writer?

The story of how I became a writer isn’t exactly a happy one. In junior high I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I had to drop out of school and battle through a long, tough recovery. During my time out of school I spent many days completely alone. Being an extrovert made this incredibly hard. I started writing books to keep myself company.  By the time I returned to school, I had my first completed novel. It was total crap.  I spent the next six or seven years honing my skills and learning a lot more about the written word. The day I hit “publish” on Amazon was the most exciting day of my life.

5. What’s your writing routine like? 

I have my own office at home, with many corkboards full of sticky notes, drawings, and inspirational sayings. On my desk, I have duel screens (very exciting and very new), so that I can have multiple documents out and at the ready. I love listening to three different Pandora stations that are just enough to keep me energized but not enough to distract me. They include: Ella Fitzgerald, Olly Murs, and Matchbox 20.

I admit I get blocked, a lot. I think all writers who are honest would admit to it. I often time stare at my screen morosely. Then I get up and play with my kittens. Sometimes I switch up the music and other times I get more coffee. Caffeine is a huge help to the ol’ blockage, of the mind that is.
And of course, sometimes I just give up.

6. Do you stick to just one genre, or do you write in multiple genres?  Why?

At present, I write two different genres, urban fantasy and medieval fantasy. I write what I want to read. It gives me a passion for what I write and makes it fun. If you don’t love it, it won’t be loved by your readers.

7. What’s your favorite medium—novels, short stories, flash fic, etc.?  Why?

I love novels. I like stories that get it all out. I feel short stories always leave me wanting WAY more. Short stories are great, though, when they introduce a new series by an established author. A great example is Patricia Brigg’s Alpha and Omega series. It started with a short story in a book called On the Prowl. Great introduction to characters, leaving you desperate for more!

8. What are your favorite books/authors?

I’m sure everyone who has ever tried to answer this question will say it is nearly impossible to answer. There are just too many amazing books out there. I guess, if I have to choose just one, I would pick Dragonsong by Anne McCaffery. Such a good story with a character you just can’t help but love. Her whole series is amazing, really.

9. What are you reading right now?

I’m reading The Only Good Roman by Christine Elaine Black, another indie author. After this I will be reading A Chronetic Memory by Kim K. O’Hara.

10. Do you have a work-in-progress you’d like to tell us about?

My next book to be released is currently called Torn. It’s the story of a princess who, through a series of accidents, ends up the slave of her family’s enemies. She must hide her identity, as she tries to ruin them from the inside. Eventually though, they discover who she is and find the one way they could make her life worse—marry her to the heir to the throne. Will she do it? Will she turn into her own family’s enemy to save her life? 

Thanks for reading!  As always, please feel free to leave questions or comments in the section below.  To learn more about Charissa and Sucked In, read on.   

Author Bio

My journey to become a writer began in 8th grade, when I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and pulled from school to recover. During this time, I was left alone for hours on end and it was then that I discovered new friends within the pages of books. I also learned the blessing of creating my own friends within my writing—as demented as that sounds. Therefore, at the ripe age of fourteen, I wrote my first novel. It sucked! But I kept going. Now, I am finalizing my first indie novel, with sequels to come; two other series, and a fiction-based blog. I never imagined the first horrible novel about a man who crash-landed on his long-lost home would turn into a lifelong passion.

About Sucked In

Ashley Hawn writes novels where the dark, handsome, brooding anti-hero always gets the attractive mortal girl... that is, until her out-of-her-league boyfriend turns her into a creature of the night. The only problem is, real life vampires are nothing like the creatures of her imagination. Suddenly, she is trapped in in the middle of a supernatural war that challenges everything she thought she understood about the world of fiction, leaving her with the realization that being a vampire actually sucks.

Purchase on Amazon.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

This is what 14 years of marriage gets you.

My husband and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary this month.  I don't mind telling you we're in a very good place right now.

Recently, we were watching this Louis C.K. stand-up, in which he talks about jerking off to twenty-two-year-olds:

Me: I don't thnk I was jerkoff material, even when I was in my twenties.
Patrick: (without missing a beat-- er, so to speak.)  Yes, you were.
Me:  Really?
Patrick: Still are.

Happy 14th, honey.

For everybody else out there-- if you're looking for love right now, I hope you find it.

If you're lucky enough to already be in love, I hope you find your significant other jerkoff-worthy, now and forever.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Interview with author Kathleen Pooler: emotional abuse and the power of memoir

I am always pleased to host WOW: Women on Writing authors.  Today, Kathleen Pooler, the author of Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse, has shared some thoughts on memoir writing and the insidious effects of emotional abuse in our society.  

1. What is the role of memoir in your life?

I have always enjoyed writing. For years I kept a journal and it became my best friend as I struck out into the world and faced life’s challenges. And you know that old saying” there’s a book inside me”?  I’ve had that feeling for as long as I can remember. In 1999, I signed up for my first formal writing course through Writer’s Digest, The Getting Started in Writing Workshop. Author Arline Chase was my mentor and she was wonderful in encouraging me to keep writing. I submitted one of my memoir pieces to the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition and received honorable mention under the Inspirational category. That spurred me on to keep pursuing my dreams and in March of 2010, I attended my first national writer’s conference through Harvard Medical School in Boston where I stood before an auditorium of over 200 MDs, PhD’s and pitched my story. I have been writing with intention ever since and have found self-forgiveness, and healing in the process. I love memoir, both reading and writing and now want to share my passion with others. 

2. Tell us about Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse.
I started out writing a different story about the simultaneous battles of a cancer diagnosis and a beloved son’s spiral downward into substance abuse. I didn’t find my current story, Ever Faithful to His Lead, until I had written three years worth of vignettes while taking memoir writing workshops through The National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW) with Linda Joy Myers.

As I kept writing, the story that needed to be told revealed itself to me. When a developmental editor told me I had two memoirs, I realized I could not write the story of my simultaneous battle with a cancer diagnosis and a young son’s descent into substance abuse until I wrote about getting into and out of two abusive marriages. It took on a life of its own and I became connected to its purpose—to share hope with others. It is possible to climb out of the abyss of poor decisions and go on to live life on your own terms.

3. In the book, you say “a loving family, a solid career and a strong faith cannot rescue her until she decides to rescue herself.” Can you expand on that?

One of the lessons I learned when I wrote this book is that I already had everything I needed within. I only needed to claim and honor my own inner strength. I was the only one who could do it for myself. It sounds so simple, but it took me years to realize this. If I can help one person connect with their own inner strength and leave an abusive relationship sooner rather than later or better yet, not even get involved in one to begin with, then my mission in writing this book will be fulfilled.
4. What do you want readers to take away from Ever Faithful to His Lead?

Three things come to mind:

One, one does not have to sustain broken bones or bruises to be abused. Emotional abuse is harmful and the impact on the children of mothers who are in abusive relationships is far-reaching and damaging.

Two, abuse impacts all socioeconomic groups. I was a masters-prepared nurse from a loving family and yet I got into two emotionally abusive marriages.

Three, denial and magical thinking can keep one from recognizing abusive behavior and taking action. Emotional abuse can lead to physical abuse. According to the National Coalition for Awareness of Domestic Violence, “One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime; 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year; most cases of domestic violence are never reported to police.” These are staggering statistics of epidemic proportion.

5. People who have experienced abuse often struggle with guilt and shame. What's your advice on how they can deal with that?
First, awareness and acknowledgement that you are indeed in an abusive situation—denial can play a big role as it did for me-- and need to get out and second develop a support system and an escape plan. Have your bags packed. This can only happen when you admit you’ve made a mistake and need to act on your fears.

You need to love yourself enough to want something better for yourself. Listen to, honor and embrace your inner voice.

6. What advice do you have for people on memoir writing? 
I’d say find what works best for you. We all have to find own way through the process. That being said, a book does not get finished unless one develops a writing schedule and makes a commitment to stick to that schedule. Some people swear by setting daily word counts. Others write a few times per week. Whatever the schedule, there has to be a commitment to write on a regular basis and to keep writing.

This is a good time to reinforce the importance of making a commitment to learn the art and craft of writing. If you want to write purely for pleasure and aren’t interested in publishing your writing, that’s fine. But if you want to write for mainstream publication, you must commit to learning all you can about writing—courses, conferences, critique groups.

For me, if I don’t write, I feel it, meaning I don’t sleep well as story ideas are swirling in my head and keep me awake. So I make a point of getting my writing in during the day so I can sleep at night. I also make a point of scheduling in non-writing time. 

7. What, in your opinion, constitutes a successful memoir?

Good storytelling. The same techniques that make a novel good, make a memoir good—the hook, the narrative arc, the characters, sensory details, the stakes, resolution and redemption. The memoir is unique in that the narrator offers reflections and introspections on their life story and lessons learned. I have heard that a good memoir is not about you. It’s about the universal theme of your personal story that will help readers connect to their own stories.

Thanks to Kathleen for stopping by and doing this interview.  Please feel free to leave any additional questions or comments you might have for her in the section below.  In the meantime, please look up her memoir on Amazon, and keep an eye out for her upcoming work, another memoir entitled, Hope Matters.

Author Bio
Kathleen Pooler is an author and a retired family nurse practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse, published on July 28, 2014 and work-in-progress sequel, Hope Matters: A Memoir, are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments:  domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.

Connect with Kathleen:
Author blog:

About Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse

Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse is a memoir, a true life tears-to-triumph story of self-defeating detours and dreams lost and found.

A young woman who loses sight of the faith she has been brought up with attempts to find her way in the world, rejecting her stable roots in lieu of finding adventure and romance. Despite periods of spiritual renewal in which she receives a prophecy, she slides back, taking several self-defeating detours that take her through a series of heartbreaking events. 
When Kathy's second husband, Dan's verbal abuse escalates, Kathy finally realizes she must move on before she and her children become a statistic.

How does a young woman who came from a stable, loving family make so many wise choices when it came to career, but so many wrong choices when it came to love, so that she ended up sacrificing career and having to flee in broad daylight with her children from an abusive marriage? What is getting in her way and why does she keep taking so many self-defeating detours?

The story opens up the day Kathy feels physically threatened for the first time in her three-year marriage to her second husband. This sends her on a journey to make sense of her life and discern what part she has played in the vulnerable circumstance she finds herself in.

She must make a decision--face her self-defeating patterns that have led to this situation and move on or repeat her mistakes. Her life and the lives of her two children are dependent upon the choices she makes and the chances she takes from this point forward.

Available for purchase on Amazon
Paperback: 242 pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Open Books Press (July 22, 2014)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wizard of Ends Book Trailer

As part of the continuing blog tour for Vanessa Finaughty's new series, Wizard of Ends, I have a book trailer to share with you:


To see more about Wizard of Ends or Vanessa Finaughty, check out the guest post from earlier this month, which included a character interview with Lashlor Leaflin.

Wizard of Ends, Book 1 is now available for purchase.  Get your copy now on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and other retailers.

Wizard of Ends, Book 2: Dark Creature will be available on 23 October.

Connect with Vanessa at any of these links:

Barnes & Noble

As always, please feel free to leave questions or comments for Vanessa below.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Memoirist Tara Meissner on the stigma of bipolar disorder

Tara Meissner has just released her first book, Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis.  

As part of her release tour, she has shared some additional insights on the stigma attached to mental illness.  Please don't be shy about leaving questions or comments for Tara below!  

I was shopping the other day. I came across a wall hanging that said, "Your crazy is showing. You better tuck that shit in." As someone with a mental illness, should I laugh at the joke?

Taken literally, the word art could be taken to insinuate that one should hide their symptoms of mental illness. Less kindly, the sign can imply that one can flippantly "tuck in" a mental illness without having serious medical intervention.

In general we hide things that are unflattering or embarrassing. Gray hair? Hide with with dye. Wide hips? Try an empire-waist skirt.

The word stigma is tied to things that shame or disgrace us. It remains socially unacceptable to reveal a mental illness. We should "tuck that shit in."

However, just because society still attaches a disgrace to mental illness, seeking treatment is the best option. And receiving treatment does not have to involve exposing one's entire self. Outside of my family, the only people who have to know that I have bipolar are my pharmacists and doctors. I don't have to experience the stigma to live well with bipolar disease. I chose to reveal it freely, because I don't want embarrassment to continue to prevent people from getting proper treatment.

There is no inherent shame in having a biological medical need to treat a mental illness. Society needs to change. It is happening, progress is slow to recognize, but some day we might be aghast to recall a time in history when people went without mental health treatment because of stigma. Yet, it is a true reality today.

However, I maintain the sign was funny. Tuck that shit in if you want. Keep it private. But don't let the ignorant let you believe the disease is false. If a qualified medical professional has suggested a course of treatment, don't let fear of embarrassment stop you from following it.

Many friends lost their hair as part of a cancer battle. Some wore wigs closely resembling their hairstyle before chemo, some wore beautiful scarves, some baseball caps, and some just walked around completed exposed. Where ever your personality lies, respect that. I think I'd be in the beautiful scarf category.

Stigma exists. It shouldn't, but it does. I believe it will one day change. Don't let stigma stand in the way of you or a loved one receiving treatment to try to get healthy. Not all my friends won their battle with cancer, but they all followed the advice of their doctors and accepted the prescribed treatment. Not everyone with mental illness is going to survive either, but hopefully stigma or not, those afflicted with fight the disease with treatment. Health is worth it! Put on some make-up concealer if you like to hide from the stigma, but fight the fight!  

About the Author
Tara Meissner is a former journalist and a lifelong creative writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and works part-time at her local library. Tara lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Mike, and their three sons. She writes longhand in composition notebooks. Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is her first book. 

Connect with Tara

About Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis
Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is a moving and honest psychology memoir about the things that break us and how we heal. It offers a raw view a 33-year-old wife and mother swallowed by psychosis. The psychotic episode includes meeting Jesus Christ, dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, and narrowly escaping eternity in the underworld. 

Casually called a nervous breakdown, psychosis is an entrapment outside of self where hallucinations and delusions anchor. Family, doctors, and fellow patients witnessed a nonverbal, confused, distraught shell of a woman. In the security of a psychiatric care center, the week-long psychosis broke and spit out a bipolar patient in the cushioned place of middle class medicine.
Outpatient recovery consumed the better part of a year with psychiatric treatment and spiritual contemplation. Left scarred and damaged, health returned allowing her to tentatively embrace a grace and peace earned through acceptance of bipolar disorder. 

Paperback: 224 Pages
ASIN: B00L8G6C66

Monday, October 6, 2014

Come see me at the Uptown!

Hey, folks!  I'm going to be the featured poet at this month's Blue Monday Poetry Night at the Uptown Arts Bar in Kansas City, MO.

That's Monday, Oct. 13.  Poetry starts at 8 p.m.  

I have new work to share, so come have a drink and a listen!  Also, I'll have copies of my poetry book, West Side Girl & Other Poems.  

Blue Mondays are emceed by KC poets David Arnold Hughes and Sharon Eiker.  There's no cover.

The Uptown is at 3611 Broadway, KCMO 64111.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wizard of Ends book tour: abuse power at your peril!

"Magic should only be used when there is no other means of achieving your goal.  To use it for frivolous things is to abuse it." -Wizard of Ends, Book I

As some of you may recall, I have hosted guest posts by indie author Vanessa Finaughty before.  I'm pleased to work with her again to help introduce her new fantasy series, Wizard of Ends.  The first two books are releasing this month, and Vanessa has a lot of awesome stuff planned, some of which she's been good enough to share with me-- check out the author's blog today for a cover reveal, and later this month, I'll be posting a book trailer.  

Today, we're doing an interview with Wizard of Ends character Lashlor Leaflin.  If you have any questions/comments for Lashlor or Vanessa, don't be shy about leaving 'em below!   

And now, Lashlor:

Morning Lauren. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts on the abuse of magical power. It’s not often that someone is interested in my take on the subject – usually, they roll their eyes and accuse me of being a fake wizard. Sadly, most magic users crave more power, but are not interested in gaining the wisdom that must come first, for, without wisdom, power is dangerous.

I put up with the taunts rather than showing people they’re wrong because I believe that one should never use magic just because one can. If there is another way of achieving your goal, use it. Magic should only be used when there is no other way and if the goal is worth achieving. For example, while it is impossible for humans to fly, what point would there be to spelling yourself some ethereal wings? Unless you’re in the process of falling to your death, of course.

I’m not going to go into detail about the dreadful experiences that brought me to my conclusions. However, I will share the consequences of the abuse of power. The first thing I learnt is that, when one uses one’s magical powers too frequently for trivial things like sweeping one’s floor, the power is depleted much faster. This means that you might not have enough left to save your life or that of someone else should the need arise. Too many magic users think there is an infinite supply of magical energy at their disposal. There really isn’t. There’s infinite energy, of course, but most of it is inaccessible to humans.

If you’re young and have only just come into your power, you should never try to do too much too fast. It’s like trying to put a whole pig into your mouth at once – if you’re amazing enough to get it right, it will probably kill you. Do not become obsessed with your power either. It could lead to egotism, which has ended the life of many a magic user. Do not let magic dominate your life – remember, it is only a part of who you are, not the whole.

If aggressive magical power is used too often, it will eventually boomerang back to attack the wielder instead of whomever it was aimed at. If a magic user uses power to drain others, the user, too, will be drained unless his or her life force is extraordinarily strong. Of course, this doesn’t mean that magic users can’t use our power to kill, maim or curse – and often. If the wielder doesn’t go on a killing spree and is wise enough to leave at least a few weeks between using magic aggressively, it’s quite possible to be a ‘dark’ magic user and still live to a ripe old age. Also, very powerful magic users can use dark magic more often than others, but be warned… at some point, if you abuse your power, it will scorch your soul, and the you that once was will be no more.

Just know this: if you abuse your magical power, even if it is for good and not evil, the goddess will not grant you access to a pleasant afterlife. She may, however, speed you on your way.

About Lashlor

Lashlor Leaflin is the central character in the fantasy adventure series, Wizard of Ends. For a living, Lashlor uses herbs and other plants to make ointments and other medicines, and has yet to come across a natural ailment his concoctions cannot cure. He is currently out of work while he settles into his new home in Ends.

As a wizard, there isn’t much Lashlor can’t manipulate with the power of his mind. Those who have seen him use magic, however, are few and far between, for he believes that to use it for frivolous things would be to earn the ire of the goddess.

Lashlor is a master archer – probably because he loves to practice his skills – and, in his free time, he enjoys mountain climbing, swimming and long walks in nature.

To learn more about Lashlor’s story in Wizard of Ends, follow the author’s blog and be notified of the books’ publication dates in October.

Publication Dates

Wizard of Ends, Book 1: 9 October 2014
Wizard of Ends, Book 2: Dark Creature: 23 October 2014 

All coupons below offer a 100% discount.

11 – 13 October
Smashwords coupon code: ZU52B
Valid: 11 – 13 October

16 October
Sorcery & Subterfuge by Vanessa Finaughty
Smashwords coupon code: HA38K
Valid: 16 October

18 – 20 October
The Angel’s Voice, Books 1 & 2 by Michelle Louring
Smashwords coupon code for Book 1: FH27E
Smashwords coupon code for Book 2: EN84L
Valid: 18 – 20 October

21 October
Royal Wizard by Alianne Donnelly
Smashwords coupon code: XV26R 
Valid: 21 October

24 October
Legends of Origin, Books 1 – 3 by Vanessa Finaughty
Book 1 is permanently free.
Smashwords coupon code for Book 2: BP37Q
Smashwords coupon code for Book 3: YC54A
Valid: 24 October

27 October
The Accidental Wizard by Simon Ludgate
Smashwords coupon code: FM47Z
Valid: 27 October

Author Biography

Vanessa Finaughty is an author of many genres who now focuses on fantasy and science fiction. She’s published 15 books, of which 6 are fantasy. Vanessa grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and still lives there with her husband of fifteen years, her baby daughter and plenty of furry, four-legged ‘children.’  

Vanessa has always been passionate about books, and knew from a young age that she wanted to write them one day. She loves animals, coffee and the smell of wet grass, and hates liars, sweltering weather and long queues. Her interests include reading, photography, the supernatural, mythology, aliens and outer space, ancient history, life’s mysteries and martial arts, of which she has five years’ experience.