Unraveling the Veil, Book One: Liars and Thieves – Review, Q&A, and Book Release With D. Wallace Peach

Waaaay back in my infanblogcy, I stumbled upon D. Wallace Peach. Maybe I followed a trail of adoring fans; maybe I read an entry she did for Carrot Ranch; or maybe her reputation guided my searchings. I still recall the very first blog post I read: a snippet from a book she wrote about a girl witnessing an execution and feeling emotions where she was not supposed to. The idea was that people did not feel and the girl was an aberration.

At that point, I vowed I would purchase and read one of Diana’s books. This year, I did so. In fact, I did so twice because she released a brand-new series: Unraveling the Veil.

Liars and Thieves (Unraveling the Veil Book 1) by [D. Wallace Peach]
Buy it from Amazon!

When I asked D. Wallace about my doing a review and Q&A after reading the first book, she agreed! D. is one of the most genuine and nicest people I’ve ever corresponded with; the sort I know would invite me in with a smile and an invitation to dinner if I e-mailed her that I happened to be near her secret writing room.

Liars and Thieves, the first book in this trilogy, begins with an omniscient POV of one Kalann il Drakk, First of Chaos, who is launching psionic canons or somesuch in order to break something called The Veil. His attack is rebuffed and his damages repaired, buuuuut his efforts cause energy lapses in the lands beyond The Veil.

We’re then thrown into the perspective of a goblin -a half-goblin, actually- named Naj’ar, then that of Elanalue Windthorn the elf, then that of a changeling who mostly goes by Talin Raska.

Yep; this is a fantasy novel.

The story unfolds through these three different characters and the parts where their adventures intersect and intertwine. Each represents and reveals the good and bad of their distinct, interesting races. Each has personal powers, personalities, and flaws. Each is intriguing to read.

After I finished reading the book, Diana agreed to answer a few questions:

1. Where did your initial inspiration for the races in your world come from?

First, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog, Chelsea. And for the great questions. I love chatting about books and writing.

The inspiration for Liars and Thieves had its origin in US politics where blaming, racial bullying, and blatant lies had crept from the shadows and become unabashedly mainstream. Rather than deal honestly with the nation’s challenges, children and families became targets, sacrificed in order to instill fear and amass power.

I started thinking… what would happen if this situation occurred in a fantasy world where a god (the First of Chaos) was responsible for an inciting event—the disappearance of a group of people? And instead of working together to determine the truth and find a solution, the different races began blaming each other. And what if all this unjustified blame started magnifying existing challenges and creating new ones that subsequently grew out of control?

Now, this is a work of fantasy, so like most fiction, it developed a life of its own. The races are elves, goblins, and changelings. There are monsters and gods, and plenty of magical talents. No one is innocent, and together they almost destroy their world… all because it was easier to assign blame than take responsibility, work together, and learn the truth—which was that none of them were at fault in the first place.

2. Some fantasy authors invent languages; but, with the exception of the mountain peoples (goblins) speaking in the royal we, you’ve kept them at a universal lingo. Why?

My book Sunwielder has a made-up language. But not much of it. I love designing languages, but it’s something I do sparingly, because, quite literally, no one can read it! Sentences of “fake words” end up being skimmed, and an author needs to decide why those skimmed words are so important to the story. The author also has to take the time to translate without awkwardness and without bogging down the prose.

I think different languages can be implied through dialect, a sprinkling of made-up words, more formal dialog, or stumbling “second language” speech. Even these approaches have to be carefully applied, since too much tweaking can draw the reader’s attention to the writing and away from the story. In this series, the goblins are a collective society so they use “we” instead of “I,” and “us” instead of “me.” They also don’t use contractions in dialog. That seemed like plenty to establish that goblins had a different way of speaking.

3. Do you feel it’s important to have rules and limits to magic, and how have you applied that to your races? 

Absolutely! Some of the best magic systems I’ve read are those created by fantasy author Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn, Elantris). Sanderson distinguishes between “soft magic” and “hard magic” and suggests that they lie on a continuum. Soft magic is full of wonder and has few rules. The magic users have mysterious abilities and can do whatever they wish with little limitation.

Hard magic lies on the other end of the spectrum, and here is where the rules come into play. In the case of hard magic, it becomes an integral plot device in the story. Two critical requirements of hard magic are 1) strict limitations and 2) flaws or costs to the user. 

In most of my books, magic is centered around one magical item (a book or an amulet) or one ability (the power to manipulate emotions or swallow souls). 

In the Unraveling the Veil series, the magic system is based on the manipulation of energy, and it’s much broader, with each race possessing different kinetic talents.

  • Goblins are terrakinetic and can manipulate earth-matter.
  • Changelings are biokinetic and can alter their biological patterns.
  • Elves have various kinetic abilities, singularly or in combination: photokinetic (light), pyrokinetic (fire), and hydrokinetic (water), to name a few.

As I designed the magic system, it became apparent that changelings had the most powerful talent, and therefore they needed the most challenges when using it. I imposed these limitations/costs: 

  • Shifting is physically agonizing
  • Shifting leaves the user temporarily weak and vulnerable
  • Too long in a foreign shape makes the shift permanent
  • And a significant change in mass requires the absorption or release of energy. This generates temperature changes in the atmosphere, which, at worst, can start disastrous fires. In other words, don’t shift from a man into a bug in the middle of the forest!

4. What is the best dessert ever invented?

Oooh. This is the hardest question of all!  Lol. Can I pick 3?  In summer, I love strawberry shortcake. In winter, I want warm berry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. And I won’t turn down a creamy cheesecake any time of year! They all have to be sugar-free and low-calorie though. 

Thanks again for the invite, Chelsea. This was great fun. Happy Reading!

Author Bio:

D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Author Links:

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Myths-of-the-Mirror/187264861398982

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dwallacepeach

©2020 Chel Owens. Responses ©2020 D. Wallace Peach

As a side note, this book is clean enough that I promptly handed it to my twelve-year-old to read. He’s burned through all my fantasy series and needed a wonderful, new book to read.
-This is also why I couldn’t flip through the book to remember specific character names and references.

The Terror in the Suburbs, THREE

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Better late than never (I hope!), this story moved from Joanne the Geek’s Part I to H.R.R. Gorman’s Part II. Both are included, then continued, below:

ONE (Joanne’s Part)

One sunny afternoon Jennifer was happily walking along the footpath only to find a crowd of people suddenly run past her in abject terror. Mystified, she managed to stop one of them. They were pale and seemed terrified.

“What’s happened?” she asked him.

“This portal opened up and these creatures from another world appeared. They were huge with long tentacles and large legs like leathery tree stumps.” he exclaimed. Jennifer let him go, and he ran off in terror following the others.

“Right.” she said. Someone had to do something about this, she thought. She strode off home. She went into her bedroom closet and fished out her old battered cricket bat. “I’m going to hit those freaks for six!” She stomped out of the house.

Jennifer walked down the road until she could see a glimmering portal that pulsed with a bright light. Before it were either two or three creatures that were as tall as small office blocks. They had dark leathery skin, massive tree stump legs (as already mentioned), long protruding arms, and their heads were a mass of long writhing tentacles. Jennifer watched them, and instead of feeling scared, she felt angry. She walked towards them until she was sure she had gained their attention.

“Look I don’t know where you freaks are from, but I’m not letting monsters like you take over our world. We’re already have enough monsters here to deal with.” she told them while thinking of the current assortment of world leaders. “So be warned. I have my cricket bat!” She held her cricket bat aloft in front of them. The monsters stopped in their tracks, as if unsure with what they were dealing with.

Ge dthrth dltyz fkywfhg sdhtu!” the one closest to Jennifer said. As it spoke, from what Jennifer assumed was it’s mouth, the ground shook around them.

“Nope. Didn’t catch a word of that! Go back through your portal now, or I will take drastic steps!” she warned them. The ground shook around her again, as they all seemed to be laughing at her now. “Well I did warn you!” She gripped the handle of her bat with both hands and began running at them. As she ran the cricket bat began to glow…

TWO (H.R.R. Gorman’s Part)

The earth, which had shaken as the monster spoke, began to crack beneath her feet. Roots split and shivered as something beneath the ground pushed itself up.

Jennifer rolled to the side and held her cricket bat at the ready. The bat glowed even brighter now and tingled in her grip.

Once the earth had sufficiently broken up and the thing beneath the surface was visible, the monster pointed at it. Its tentacles writhed in a flurry as it said, “Ue kthgyn wysdht dhutyk!

Up from the earth rose a transparent sphere glowing a faint blue. Two humanoid figures stood inside the bubble, and one flicked his fingers to cause the bubble to dissipate. The man, robed in a smooth, blue cloth and a rosy sash, raised a slim hand against the monsters. The hand glowed brightly.

Wkusdth grnsthyk pyblsdth, shtrydk sythyd,” the monster said, somewhat morose and pleading. Some of the creepy eyes on the ends of tentacles looked to Jennifer as if begging. The monsters retreated into the portal once more, and the fantastical apparition disappeared.

A thin woman, her ears long and pointed like the man’s, stepped from the bubble she’s appeared in and put her hands in a prayerful position. She bowed to Jennifer, smiled, and said, “Chosen one, we have protected you now, for you will soon do much to save us from those creatures.”

The man stepped off after her and licked his lips. Though he possessed an otherworldly beauty, Jennifer noticed his teeth were all small and sharp. Or was she just imagining things?

“And just who do you think you are?” Jennifer asked. She still held up her bat, noticing it retained its glow…

THREE (Chelsea Owens’ Part)

In fact, the bat glowed the same faint blue as the slender beings’ orb. Jennifer wondered, briefly, at the connection between her beloved bat, the tentacled invaders, and these new, Vulcan-like humanoids.

“There won’t be a need for that,” the male’s voice said from a much closer position.

Her heart jumped and she looked up. His odd teeth appeared sharper and more menacing from less than a meter away. Of course, the menacing part might have been his hungry mien and continued advancement toward her.

Jennifer stepped back, once. She raised the pulsing bat. “Rack off, ya Smurf!” She swung at his face like an American gangster. *Thwack!*

The being stopped, shocked. A bat-shaped indent took up the entire side of his head.

“Chosen One?” the female asked. Jennifer heard the surprise in her voice. “What do you do?”

Jennifer glared, raising her only weapon again. “I’m not going to let you EAT ME!” she yelled.

A rippling sound of smothered grinding came from the female. It may have been laughter. “But, Chosen One,” she began, “Intraoral adherence is vital to defeating our enemies. It’s just one bite… ”

 

~~~~~

Don’t kill me, but I nominate Ruth to have fun continuing this story.

 

©2020 Joanne Fisher, H.R.R. Gorman, and Chelsea Owens

The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square

War! Adventure! Boring desk jobs! Drinking! Compulsions! Evil paranormal enemies?

A week ago Monday, I got a very long-anticipated book in the mail.

I met Stephen Black way back when he followed my blog as part of growing his. He’s moved on to securing 11,000+ followers, finishing his manuscript, and finally (FINALLY!) publishing.

Even though I’m deathly envious of his success, I’m also freakin’ proud. Great job, Stephen!

But what about the book??

Skelly’s Square is only my second or third experience with reading a newbie author’s work. Plus, I’ve known Stephen through his blog’s awkward teenage years. Plus, I’m a …bit of a spelling and grammar fiend.

-Which didn’t matter in the slightest. To me, an excellent book is one I get lost in. Somewhere along the way I’m part of the characters and story; we’re seamless and it’s beautiful. Skelly’s Square became just such an experience for me.

Colonel Augustus Skelly is the name of a man the main character, Kirkwood Scott, sees in very realistic visions. Skelly is a demon of sorts. He preys on Scott’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by making him follow a series of routines determined by dice rolls. These routines are called The 49. Scott knows storms, tempests, abductions, and death around the world will happen should he refuse The 49.

In the midst of a life ruled by this and periods of blackout drinking to avoid it, Scott stumbles across a homeless young woman, Meredith Starc. Starc also practices alcoholic numbing because of a depressive event in her past.

The two, and cosmic forces interested in keeping them down, cross paths. Why? What is their importance? How can they possibly mean anything toward …the fate of the world?

Stephen Black’s delivered a doozy of a first novel. Skelly’s Square is a creation to be proud of. Plus, it’s an engaging fantasy adventure to boot!

Go, visit Amazon and pick up your own.

Do it!!

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©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-One

“Wil!” the crew chief said. “We’re here.”

Wil Power frowned in confusion and looked up from her idling IndyCar. Four hundred laps of looping, blackened tarmac still beckoned beyond the pit crew’s hunched shoulders. The hasty *bzzt* *bzzt* of impact wrenches played background music to the ever-present hum of the waiting track and its racers.

“Wil!” her father repeated. “Get out. I gotta go to work.”

“Oh!” Wil scrabbled at the straps of her backpack as cheering fans and roaring asphalt dissolved into a silent, gray schoolyard. She blinked. She turned to her father, noted his impatient expression, blushed, and stole a quick peck on his cheek. “‘Bye, Dad!”

Rob watched his impulsive daughter successfully exit the car and take off running toward the dim, dark building up the dim, dark hill. He hadn’t the time to reminisce after her waving scarf and hair, however. Leaning over the console and passenger seat, he sighed and stretched to pull her door closed.

Wil heard the telltale just-made-it clunking of her father’s engine as he accelerated out and away from the curb. A long, low *bonnng* sounded from the school. Huddled, rushing teenage bodies scurried around and before her as her scrambling boots slipped up the winter-dew grass.

She caught the shadow of someone slipping past; had the idea that it may have been HopeMan, she’s sneaky, was all Wil could think as she grabbed at a front door of the school building. Once inside, she rushed down rapidly-emptying hallways to her first class. Intermittent *bam* sounds echoed to her right and left as a few tardy people slammed locker doors shut.

She could hear Dr. L.‘s droning voice before she reached the hall of his classroom. “…We’ll see *mumble* *mumble* acidic *mumble*.” Wil turned a corner and saw the door near the end. “*Mumble* *mumble* bases and *mum*-acids are fairly inert at the midline, where you see water, blood, and urine.”

Wil walked in right when everyone snickered, yet also right when Dr. L. turned to his diagram to see what they all thought was so funny.

 

Continued from Eighty.
Keep reading to Eighty-Two.

Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty

Wil checked the posted starting positions in a cool, passing fashion. As a race day wind whipped her long, dark curls, she donned her sunglasses with a dramatic flair and looked bored. She heard an increase in volume from the three hundred thousand cheering fans just a tarmac away; they loved her unaffected demeanor and professional detachment.

“You ready?” her crew chief asked.

She nodded. Once.

He nodded. Half of once.

Her team swarmed around her tracksuit body; taming the hair, gloving the hands, booting the feet, and even glossing the lips. They stepped away to reveal Wil Power: race car driver, today’s favorite to win.

Wil turned to the thousand-person section nearest her and blew them a red-lipped kiss. The resultant screams and foot-pounding shook the ground, even where she stood. Accepting her helmet from the last waiting crew member; she raised it, donned it, straightened it, tucked her hair in it. Spinning on a heel, she strutted the asphalt catwalk to her waiting car.

She loved her car almost as much as herself: sleek, fast, sexy; sporting the top sponsor every other driver envied her for.

Let them envy.

Her chief’s instructions droned in her ear as her hands and eyes ran their automatic checks over instruments, seat, steering, and panel. Properly fueled, newly tired, she could feel her IndyCar just waiting to fly.

Not soon enough, the officials were finally ready. Non-drivers began moving away. “Not yet, Baby,” she told her ride.

“Not yet,” echoed in her ear.

Crews scattered, engines started, the customary celebrity car inched forward to lead them.

Not yet, she felt in the impatient rumble through her seat.

The trio in front of her moved out and hers followed after a pause. She was on the inside of the track, seventh position. She was ready. In a clouded haze of pre-race meditation, Wil saw the race from a distance: thirty-three cars all weaving patiently; thirty-three drivers scratching, adjusting, rubbing visors, quadruple-checking screens.

“Two corners, then green flag,” her crew chief intoned.

“Almost,” she purred.

Almost.

Another celebrity stood poised atop the tower, his green flag already waving like mad. Wil Power did not even grant him a glance as her red baby zoomed across the start and hungrily revved to reach lap speed.

“Now!” they all chorused. Beneath the helmet, she smiled.

 

Continued from Seventy-Nine.
Keep reading to Eighty-One.

 

Want to start at the very beginning? It’s a very good place to start.

A Different Sort of Parade

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Oogdiblok the Fiercely Flatulent surveyed the plodding masses, scowling. Urgdup, his counselor, knew this meant nothing since the stinky leader always scowled unless he was angry.

“Fmouglisk oog digump,” Urgdup warned.

Sighing, Oogdiblok replied, “Gurdonk.” He blew a raspberry with his fat lips, dismissing his counselor. His expression did not lighten until Fmouglisk oozed in.

She was upset. Oogdiblok knew this by the radiant smile she wore. “Eekdi homespank murgle!” she screeched.

He smiled and winked. He knew he’d started without her. Next time, he resolved, she wouldn’t be allowed to watch The Parade of Ogre Nations at all.

 

Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt

Sanctuary in the Sands

The days without wind had been impossible. The days with, however, proved impassible. Hot desert breath pulled and pushed at his shaking, stalking frame in confused bursts of sand. He squinted every few steps for a bearing, yet was always rewarded with another hill.

He stood and breathed heavily through his makeshift scarf. Moving air whipped more gritty dust across his face, obligingly. He blinked, then couldn’t believe his eyes. Surely the wavering green upon the horizon was another imagination-induced reprieve, an apparition of his thirst-starved mind. Blearily, he licked the moist dirt from his lips again and again.

Step by sliding step he mounted the dune before him. Why not, since he had nowhere else to go but a forever dust-sleep? No one would ever find him as the sand piled over his prone form. He would become a sand hill himself, upon which other wanderers might slowly stumble to a dehydrated death.

I am the Sandman, he thought.

Taker of dreams…

Then his worn boot found footing more solid than dune. Then his other. And his ears realized a silence in the days-long howling of wind. He breathed simply air. He squinted, rubbed a gritty hand beneath each brow, fully opened his eyes.

Oasis. The word flitted across his mind as it tried to accept the picturesque glen his dust-crusted eyes could see.

He fell to a kneel and his swollen tongue slurred thanks to Heaven. His filthy hands dipped forward to the ready pool and scooped liquid manna into his parched and gasping mouth. Lovely, wet, clear water ran everywhere in his fumbling haste.

Nearly a full ten minutes of bliss passed before he noticed he was not alone. Large, beautiful eyes stared at him from beneath the rippling surface. Feminine eyes.

She smiled.

 

Written in response to Carrot Ranch’s 24-Hour Free-Write contest.

What do YOU Wish For?

“I wish to be a famous dancer!”

“I wanna be a millionaire!”

“I want to build the world’s first robotic house!”

They all turned to their silent friend.

“What do you wish for, Chelsea?”

“I can’t tell.”

Shrugging, they watched the comet pass, carrying their wishes. It would return in ten years’ time, granting them what they had asked.

Carly would be a dancer.

Tanner would be rich.

Edward would be building robots.

And Chelsea? She didn’t know. How could the comet possibly turn her into a cosmic fairy able to soar through the night sky as it did?

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Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt

Wilhelmina Winters, Fifty-Two

(One full year of Wil! Click here for the very first one.)

The dame sat stiffly on the old couch, holding onto her man’s hand like a woman holds onto her man’s hand. They looked expectant, wary. Inspector Winters nodded to them, curtly. She hoped the gesture would get them talking. She needed them to talk, or she’d never get anywhere in the case of Yesterday’s Letter.
Her informants did not relax. Or talk. The clock ticked forward. Winters would have to break the ice, or they’d be frozen up like last week’s informant: permanently. She shuddered a bit at the memory.

But, that was all that was left of the Legend of Wilhelmina: a memory. Some folks liked to think they knew the true story, regardless. You’d think a person would know what could happen or not after living, but many seemed to believe the longest yarns a body ever told no matter how old they were. It didn’t take much for a new person to come through with some new-fangled doodad, telling some heap of story about something or other -and you’d have every body in town talking about it by sundown.
Never you mind the circumstances. It didn’t even matter if the person was a flaming green dragon. If he talked real smooth and pretty, they’d lap up the lies like Farmer Brown’s poor thirsty dog on a hot Tuesday.

This was not a Tuesday. To be precise, there were no longer days measured by irrelevant identifiers like names. If the current intelligent species had persisted in archaic traditions, the day would be Friday. Once the Governing Council of Stars had reasonably determined more accurate methods of counting time, proving the system to be based on unfair emphasis on only one ancient group of peoples, further proving to be based on ancient supernatural beliefs, the current method of a ten time cycle was enacted. This we know.
These facts were known to Family Unit W1NT3R as well, and yet they still felt tired at some times during Waking and felt awake at some times during Sleeping. As precise as travel, time, and other measurements were, their bodies were still organic and subject to faulty behaviors. Perhaps the beeping machine was the better species. Of course, it needed to be built and maintained by intelligent creatures. They were not obsolete yet.

Soon, Cynthia would be obsolete. The long, twisting plastic coil ran down the couch until it stabbed into the flesh of her left hand. Its contents ran smoothly, inexorably, into her unresisting blood stream. It healed for now, but some day it would be useless. Everyone had his end.

Wil gulped and hoped this was not the end. She had long wanted to be entrusted with the Scroll of Truth-telling. With it, she could complete her level of training and move on to working directly under Grandwizard Grinzdle. With it, she, too, would know the secrets of the land, and join her parents at Couch City.
Together, they would bring peace, happiness, and light to the world. Unified and powerful, they would fight this battle to its end. Secrets would be banished. Fear would have no place. Truth and love would triumph.

“Wil,” Rob said. “I have a letter I need to show you.”

In the hand that was not holding his wife, he held a small paper rectangle. It was the envelope he had taken so quickly to his room the day before, the one Wil had entered his room to search for.

She could see that it had been forwarded by the post office, that it had been written on with cursive, and that it bent a bit over her father’s grip. After she moved closer, Wil also saw that it was addressed to her.

Rob lifted his hand, holding the letter out to her.

 

Continued from Fifty-One.
Keep reading to Fifty-Three.