Monday, August 12, 2013
Susanne Lakin - The Crystal Scepter is featured in the HBS Mystery Reader's Circle today.
Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Website: C. S. Lakin - a novel life
Author's Blog: C. S. Lakin - a novel life
Blog: Live Write Thrive
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C. S. Lakin is a novelist and professional copyeditor who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, dog, and three cats. The first four books in her seven-book fantasy series, The Gates of Heaven, have been released: The Wolf of Tebron, The Map across Time, The Land of Darkness, and The Unraveling of Wentwater (July 2012), allegorical fairy tales drawing from classic tales we all read in our childhood.
Lakin's relational drama/mystery, Someone to Blame, won the 2009 Zondervan First Novel award, released October 2010. She just completed writing her eleventh novel, a modern-day take on the biblical story of Jacob called Intended for Harm and her twelfth: The Crystal Scepter (book five in The Gates of Heaven series). Also available on eBook are two mystery/psychological dramas: Innocent Little Crimes (top 100 in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest) and Conundrum. Don't miss Time Sniffers: a wild young adult sci-fi romance that will entangle you in time!
Lakin has two websites for writers: www.livewritethrive.com with deep writing instruction and posts on industry trends. Her site www.CritiqueMyMaunscript.com features her critique services.
The Crystal Scepter
The Gates of Heaven Series
Author: Susanne Lakin
Barnes and Noble
When Pythius, the wicked young king of Paladya, learns of the hidden realm of Elysiel and the crystal scepter that protects that northern land, he journeys to kill the Keeper and steal the scepter. But his defiant act unleashes a terrible curse, and the Seer foretells his death one day at the hand of his son, now a newborn babe. To thwart the prophecy, he attempts to murder his child, but the queen escapes and sends the babe off in a trunk across the sea, where he is found and raised by a humble fisherman.
Years later, Perthin, the cast-off babe now grown, hears his call of destiny, and is visited by a specter who tells him of the land of Elysiel and of the Gorgon—the evil creature fomenting war in the Northern Wastes. Perthin’s village of Tolpuddle is being ravaged by a monstrous sea beast sent by this enemy, and Perthin accepts the challenge to kill the creature by cutting off its head—although anyone who looks upon it turns to stone. Armed with magical shoes and a legendary sword, Perthin arrives in Elysiel, where the trolls lead him to the ice cavern where the sacred site made of crystal slabs awaits him to show him his future. Perthin feels a strange connection to this land, unaware that he is the heir to Elysiel’s throne.
With the help of heaven’s army, Perthin bests the enemy and returns to stop the sea monster as the beast is ravaging the kingdom of Paladya. He rescues the princess, who has been set out in the harbor as a sacrifice for the beast, and then stops the sea monster by exposing it to the Gorgon’s head, yet through his heroic efforts he unknowingly fulfills the prophecy foretold by the Seer. He returns to Tolpuddle a hero, where many surprising revelations await him as to his heritage and legacy, for he learns he is not truly a fisherman’s son but a king foretold. The Crystal Scepter is an adventurous retelling of the classic story of Perseus and Medusa with a twist, as the heart of the story involves the gates of heaven—the sacred sites erected by heaven to prevent evil from taking over the world of mankind. It also has parallels to the story or Oedipus Rex, the 17th-century play by Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca entitled Life is a Dream, and Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors.
Review for The Crystal Scepter: “C.S. Lakin delivers yet another brilliant, earthy, complex "fairy tale for adults" in The Crystal Scepter, the latest in her series The Gates of Heaven. Lakin weaves qualities of Shakespearean drama, historical fiction, fairy-tale adventure, mythical magic, and a fantasy style not unlike C.S. Lewis yet wholly her own. Reading it on a Sunday afternoon was delightful, enlightening, and such a fantastic ride that even knowing the Greek mythology (the story of Perseus and Medusa) that is the heart of the tale, there was so much else woven in that I could not anticipate the ending. I had goose bumps with the last sentence, left with an overall sensation of appreciation, peace, musing, and hope.” –Seattle Post-Intellegencer
Yet, he had to ask. “Why me? Why did you come to me—a lad of fifteen—instead of someone big and strong, with years of battle under his skin?”
“Because, Perthin Quay, a matter of the heart is at the heart of the matter. Man judges by the outer appearance, but God sees the heart, and yours is true. Guard your heart, lad, for it is the wellspring of life. If your heart is true, you cannot fail.” He added, “I have heard your prayers in the night, all of them.”
“How?” Perth mouthed.
“That is the way it has always been. The way of Elysiel.”
Perth stared into the king’s moonstruck eyes that radiated with a shimmering light. He then looked across the dune to his cottage, where his pa lay in pain, needing his help. How could he up and leave on the morrow? He surely couldn’t tell his pa his plans. He knew just what his pa would say if he recounted his conversation with a ghost—one claiming to be a dead king come to fetch him—Perthin Quay—to save not just Tolpuddle but perhaps the known world. He would say he was daft and threaten to punish him for such foolish talk. And then—when his pa discovered him gone, what grief would fall upon him? Would he fear he had lost yet another son? How could he inflict such grief upon his pa? Doubts assailed him, making him wonder if he’d been foolhardy to make that vow. His divided loyalties rent his heart in two.
“Perthin Quay,” the king said, “I know your heart aches for your father. But he will be well tended to. Should you undertake this quest, you must leave this life behind and set your sights on the task before you. Will you do this?”
Resolve settled in Perth’s heart, ushering in a calmness and certainty. He knew now there was no turning back. “Yes. Yes, I will go. I will meet you here on the morrow at night.”
The ghost nodded once, his ephemeral shape fading until nothing but mist swirled around Perth’s feet.
Author: Susanne Lakin
A happily married man with three small children decides one day he no longer wants to live. He gives himself leukemia and nine months later is dead. This is the conundrum Lisa Sitteroff is determined to solve regarding her dead father—the tale her mother, Ruth, told Lisa and her two brothers, Rafferty and Neal, throughout their childhood. But Lisa, now thirty and watching Raff suffer from the ravages of bipolar illness, believes if she can solve this puzzle, she might somehow save her brother. For Raff’s pain is intrinsically tied up with feelings of parental abandonment. What starts as a noble goal for Lisa soon grows into a vicious family war, wreaking destruction on Lisa’s marriage. Lisa discovers details of her parents’ relationship that her mother has long hidden.
Shocking clues appear as Lisa reads a letter her father, Nathan, wrote before he died, prompting her to visit Nathan’s former boss, Ed Hutchinson. From him, Lisa learns that her engineer father helped design a generator run by radioactive materials. Ed lets slip that Nathan participated in a dangerous secret experiment, a fact her mother discounts as Nathan’s cause of death. Accusations and excuses fly. Yet, how much of what Lisa uncovers is true? Is truth solely subjective? Lisa sifts through layers of lies as she journeys into her father’s story, seeking to understand this man she never knew.
Meanwhile, her mother responds in fury and tries to destroy Lisa’s life, determined to keep Lisa from uncovering her dark secrets.
Conundrum explores the rocky landscape of betrayal and truth, asking whether a search for truth is worth the price, and showing how separating from toxic family members might sometimes be the only recourse for survival. Lisa pays a high price for truth, but in the end finds it worthwhile.
Excerpt: My hand shook as I held the paper to read it. Just the imposing letterhead with its official businesslike appearance set my gut wrenching. I had to read the scant three paragraphs four times before the words strung together in some sort of coherence. Nouns linked to verbs, triggering the synapses in my brain, but I grasped for some sense of it as if I were translating Latin. Yet, the words were simple and void of legalese. They stated quite plainly that Ruth Sitteroff, out of financial necessity, had sold the property located at 328 Rural Route C to Blake Enterprises. The occupants were to consider this document their thirty-day notice to vacate the premises.
Blake Enterprises. Harv Blake—my mother’s business manager. The occupants were listed by name: Jeremy and Lisa Bolton. They sounded like strangers to me. Thirty days—how long was that?
Vacate. Leave. Move.
My head reeled in denial. This was a joke, right? My mother’s attempt to rattle us into submission, to one-up me for trumping her two days ago. My eyes asked these questions, but when I directed them unspoken to Jeremy, his expression gave me the answer I dreaded. I shook my head almost spastically.
“No. This is wrong. She would never—she can’t do this, can she?” My voice cracked, coming out in broken pieces from a broken heart. I never expected anything like this—never in a million years. There had to a mistake. The letter was sent to the wrong people. The property listed was in error.
Thirty days? To leave?
My mind flashed over the years of labor we had put into our home—the hours compiled beyond my ability to guess. I thought about my dozen residents in the barn. Where would we go? Would I have to find homes for my animals? Visions of packing up boxes and hauling furniture into a big U-Haul truck barraged my mind. I batted each image away as it attacked. They flew at me from all directions, these horrible fractals of my home, my haven and retreat, being dismantled. And then I pictured some people—faceless, shapeless—being handed the key to my front door, a handshake, a smile. A voice saying, “Oh, look, honey, what beautiful roses, and a pond! And I hear frogs—isn’t that quaint?”
I wanted to scream and shatter the pictures, but my voice was gone. Some sudden illness had ripped it from my throat—the same malady that had struck Jeremy. We were in a nightmare, that moment when you have to cry out but can’t. Where you need to flee, but your feet are frozen to the ground. Where you are naked and exposed and everyone can see you and they laugh and you can’t do a damned thing about it.
I heard my mother’s laughter and I covered my ears. I squeezed my eyes shut and found myself falling, falling off a cliff, my feet pedaling for purchase but finding none. I collapsed to the kitchen floor, needing Jeremy to hold me, to gather me up, to tell me he had a plan, had worked it all out. Would make it go away, this madness.
Jeremy’s voice made its way through my gloom. His tone was even. I expected to hear much more—defeat, anger, panic. The sound of his voice chilled my heart, its lack of emotion, something beyond resignation.
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Susanne Lakin is in the HBS Mystery Book Reader's Circle.
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