Hey folks! Today I’m happy to introduce you to CJ Perry and his story Dark Communion!
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My deep and abiding love of fantasy began when I was six when I first saw the 1981 film Dragonslayer on VHS with my father. He loved fantasy movies too, but didn’t have the courage to be a dork about it like I did. That movie was a gateway drug that led me straight to the hard stuff – CS Lewis. I was far too young for such potency but by the time I was ten I had read the whole series. That’s when I found my first Dungeons and Dragons group. When I started playing, my friends and I used pre-made campaign settings and published adventures, but I quickly grew restless with their limitations and trite story lines. I needed my own persistent world: something adaptable to my whim and that no one else owned.
Back in my day, there was no internet, so I took out every book about castles and medieval history from the school library and read them in Math class (I’m still terrible at math as a result). I came up with an entire world and brand new history. I read books on cartography and hand drew maps of my new world. I created a cosmology, a hierarchy of gods, and the tenets of their religions. I read the Dungeon Master’s guide a dozen times, and every fantasy novel I could get my hands on.
Then, one day, I sat down and told my friends, “Hey guys, wanna try my story instead?”
Even 15 years after the original D&D campaigns ended, former players tell me that they share our incredible stories with their children. I’m honored to say that most of those players still have their original character sheets 16-20 years later, and a couple have even named their children after them.
Now, I’m 39 years old and a loving father of 2 girls, and I still play those games on occasion. My passion has evolved into putting those ideas and amazing stories on paper for the whole world to enjoy. My first novel took me and co-author DC Fergerson 10 years to write and topped out at 180,000 words. Being too long and too complex, I finally ended the project and took its lessons to heart.
I learned that Dungeons & Dragons did not translate well into a novel. D&D made for great times, but also for some meandering plot lines, pointless encounters, and poor character motivations. No matter how memorable some of the moments were, if I wanted anyone to read my story, I needed to learn a lot more about writing.
I threw myself into being a full time student of novel crafting. I read every book on writing by Dwight Swain I could find. I paid Chuck Sambuchino (Editor for Writer’s Digest) to critique and edit my older work. I took James Patterson’s Masterclass, went to college, and joined online writing communities. All the while, I read my favorite fantasy novels again, only this time with a mental highlighter. I reworked my stories, outlined them, and decided to start from the beginning.
Many, many years later, I am in the final edit and proofreading stage of Dark Communion, the first installment of the Shadowalker Chronicles. My role as a father of two girls heavily influenced the characters I’d known for over 20 years, shaping them into women that my own daughters could respect. My characters took on a depth and quality that brings them off the page and into the minds of readers, because they have become all too real. I was privileged enough to work on two careers at the same time to accomplish this feat – a fun-loving and involved stay-at-home dad, and a full time writer.
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~ * ~ TOPIC du JOUR ~ * ~
I asked CJ Perry, “What is the best and most rewarding thing you find about being a writer? Want to share what you think is the worst and most frustrating thing you find about being a writer?” and here is the response.
I grew up in a housing development in upstate NY named “Valley Forge.” If you’re up on your American History trivia, that’s the name of the encampment in PA where the Washington and his men got snowed-in during the American Revolutionary War. From my Valley Forge home I had to do a solo two mile, all uphill, tour-de-leg-cramps on my bike to get to the deli in Central Valley, NY for cigarettes. (Sensing a pattern? Spoiler: Hills.) The way back was no better, all uphill.
The first time I told that story to my oldest daughter, Elizabeth, she said, “That’s impossible. It cant be uphill both ways.” Well, sure it can. I lived in a valley within a valley in the Catskills. Nothing was flat; not your living room, countertops, and certainly not the roads. Thing is, you only remember riding uphill. It’s what you spend most of the time doing, and it’s the part that sucks. Downhill: all you do is coast, and it’s over in a few seconds. Downhill is easy to forget.
Oh, what’s so great about being a WRITER? I don’t know, but writer’s block sucks.
Kidding, (mostly) but there is an answer in there: The best things about being a writer are the fleeting downhill moments where the words just flow, unimpeded by over-thinking or distraction. Characters, places and worlds just come together as my fingers dance over the keyboard, words and sentences in perfect harmony with the story. It feels like Im just sitting back, watching the story unfold, as much a new reader or spectator as anyone else that picks it up later. Those are the moments that I live for. They’re just harder to remember than the tedious days of writer’s block, grinding out a few hundred words that Im just going to throw away the next day. But it’s those moments of pedaling as hard as I can uphill that are both the most frustrating, and the most rewarding. Because, sure it was hard and I cursed and fought every inch up that mountain, but when I get to the top and look down the smile returns and the story flies beneath me as I cruise to the base of the next hill.
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The minotaurs have kept Ayla and Deetra’s people in chains for 200 years. With nothing left to live for, and a death sentence in her womb, Ayla trades her soul for a chance to break the curse which holds her people in slavery. Armed only with her faith, she and Deetra start a revolution, and bring about the return of the Goddess of Darkness.
~ * ~ EXCERPT ~ * ~
The woman’s lips curved up in a smile but no lines formed in her cheeks. She looked like a living statue, and not one bit like her mother.
“Who are you?” Ayla asked.
The stranger leaned over Ayla, resting her palms on the altar. Her voice took on a hollow yet resonant quality. Her breath suffused the air with a heady fragrance like scented oils.
“I am the dark corner that hides those in need. The eternal ruler of the Abyss.”
“You’re a God?”
“I was once their Queen.”
“Am I dead?”
The Goddess kissed Ayla on the forehead with cold lips. “You are at His doorstep.”
“Where’s my mom?”
“The dead cannot hear your pleas. I have come in her stead, my child.”
Ayla never believed in the Gods. And if they did exist, she wanted nothing to do with any who would leave their people in chains.
“I’m not your child.”
The woman grabbed Ayla under the jaw, fingers digging into her cheeks. Her icy eyes remained impassive but her voice lowered threateningly.
“You are the daughter of Steelhorn, the grandson of Tor, who is my son. I am not just your mother, but the mother of every woman born from a breeding cabin.” The Night Goddess let go of Ayla’s jaw. The closest brazier’s flame shone blue in the Her black tresses. “I have waded through the River of Dreams to answer your call, and this is how you thank me?”
“I’m dreaming?” Ayla asked.
~ * ~ BUY ~ * ~
~ * ~ GIVEAWAY ~ * ~
CJ Perry will be awarding a $10 and a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to two randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. CLICK HERE to enter to Win! Readers, follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates and places can be found here: Tour Schedule
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CJ Perry, thank you for stopping by today!
Love & blessings to all! ❤