NBtM & #Giveaway: The Raven and the Pig (Celwyn #2) by Lou Kemp


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#MagicalRealism,

As the music dies, the magician Celwyn is mortally wounded. His darker, immortal brother Pelaez brings him back, barely, with his magic. The party of protagonists travel on the Nautilus to the Cape Verde Islands and the healer of immortals. During the journey, Professor Kang and Bartholomew can not tell if Pelaez will keep his brother alive. Captain Nemo is ready to evict Pelaez forcibly, and keeping Celwyn alive is the only thing that restrains him.


After Celwyn is saved, the healer requests payment for his services. This sends the adventurers to the catacombs in Capuchin where their experience is one they will not forget. Before it is over, several of the protagonists question why it seems everyone from warlocks and vampires to witches, seem to be congregating in their world. Before it is over, some of them become surprising allies, and a few of their allies turn against them.


In part II, work on the new flying machine begins in earnest bringing attention from the Mafioso and a cherub-like warlock called Duncan. After a final battle with Duncan, the flying machine is destroyed and everyone at their compound is murdered by one of their own.

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Captain Nemo had joined them, watching the undersea scene as they passed by dozens more buildings. The glow of the Nautilus’ lamps illuminated the ruins, then dissipated and the inky water enveloped everything. They slowed in front of a procession of grand marble stairs leading upward and a mirroring set of steps led downward to an abyss below.


“The main temple,” Captain Nemo told them as an enormous ivory building materialized out of the dark water. “I’m not sure what that is.”


Kang tried his best to see further into the water, but failed. “I would love to use your diving apparatus to explore this, Captain.”


From beside him, Verne licked his lips and said, “What is all of this?”


Nemo hesitated and looked at the author as though deciding if he should tell him.


Pelaez had joined them, without using the door or walking across the room. He just appeared. After enjoying Bartholomew’s gasp, he had no reservations in describing the scene. “It has to be Atlantis. Nothing else would be this big, or advanced.” He leaned toward the glass. “My, my. Just as I imagined it.” He examined the landscape another moment. “Though, I do not see a great deal of destruction, considering.”


The Professor stared. He didn’t see any bones from human corpses, just from animals. How odd. Pelaez had referred to the sudden disappearance of Atlantis, one minute a thriving metropolis of culture and wonderment, the next, gone, as if it never existed. Where were the people?


Thousands of bubbles erupted from under the ship as they passed over another underground steam vent, this one much larger than the others. As the shadow of the submarine covered the vent, Bartholomew stared into the roiling water and said, “No destruction at all. Do you know what happened here, Captain?”


Nemo’s glance at the author probably included a wish that Celwyn was healthy enough to put a block on what Verne saw and heard. Pelaez might be able to do something similar, but he couldn’t be trusted.

With a shrug, Nemo said, “There are many theories. Plato wrote a great deal about Atlantis, as did Mikonisis.”


“Yet, this looks like neither one,” Bartholomew speculated. “There are differences in what we see here compared to the long-standing descriptions from Plato and others.” He pointed to the building in front of them. “Such as the sculptures depicted on the buildings. I wonder …. that last steam vent was huge. As wide as this ship. I … I think we’re passing over an active volcanic cap ….”


“Perhaps. The field of ruins here is enormous. Doesn’t it seem like this city just sank beneath the waves?” the Professor asked. “However, I see no volcanic ash or sludge on the buildings. Why? The lava would have hardened when it met the water.”


As they talked, the Nautilus had gradually ascended as the seafloor rose, and the reflection from streaks of brighter water painted their faces. Bartholomew pointed to the buildings. “Is it simple? That the sea levels rose, and covered everything?”


Pelaez had watched the last of the buildings and houses go by with a special kind of light behind his disturbing eyes. He asked a question intended to make things even more puzzling.


“Gentlemen, what if they built the city under water in the first place?”

Post a previously unreleased chapter from one of your books.


Farm Hall is the companion book to the Celwyn series featuring Celwyn’s immortal and immoral brother. Pelaez’s personality is on full display. In this sample, he is one of Hitler’s atomic scientists the Allies have installed in the manor called Farm Hall in the English countryside. The name Pelaez is masquerading under is Felix.



1945



All night armed American guards had driven us through the French countryside under darkness that seemed as hushed as a convent after the continual noise of the war.

When we reached Paris, notorious for quaint cubbyholes, the Americans had managed to deposit us in one that reeked of onions and ammonia. To complete our comfort, we had petite wooden stools to sit upon, and a single thermos of cold coffee. Outside the little room of smells, a street of boarded doors and broken windows reflected light from a dreary dawn.

“I wonder if Kant is alive. And the rest,” Gruber muttered.

In this little room, we numbered as three of Hitler’s ten pet scientists. How many of our group had survived the fall of the Reich? Whenever the guards left us alone, we discussed this question in low whispers. Berlin had only surrendered a week ago. Hitler too, in theory. But, I doubted an egomaniac of his magnitude would really commit suicide, as the Americans said.

Since then, Baba and I had been bandied about by the Americans like prizes from a carnival. Squeezed, admired, and handled carefully. Why? Because they thought we had atomic secrets they needed. Perhaps secrets our captors would kill for.

One of the guards stuck his shaved head through the doorway. Baba smiled at him and said in English, “How much longer, my friend?”

“I am not your friend, you German bastard.” The guard glared. “We're waiting for more of your lot.”

“And then?” I asked him.

“Then the brass will give you a kiss and put you on a plane.” We were treated to a view of his nicotine-stained teeth and the seething hatred in his eyes as he added, “Maybe it will go down in the Channel, just like our boys did.”



One week later


The Dakota dipped a wing toward the English countryside, revealing a red-brick manor sitting amidst hundreds of acres of lush landscape. A river twisted through the surrounding woods like a silver ribbon.

“Our new prison reminds me of a park in Münster where the deviants used to play.” Otto Bothe’s pointed beard twitched as the gnome peered out the window of the plane.

“It will be a long time until you see Münster again, or consume a strudel worthy of the name,” Maxwell Kant rumbled. He turned to me, “You agree, Felix?”

I nodded as I studied the chess board beside me. Though unlike Kant, I did not feel homesick. The Fatherland meant nothing to me anymore.

As the Dakota circled the fields for another pass over the manor, I felt hope for the first time in years. A new world awaited me.

Pairs of guards and dogs patrolled the perimeter of the estate and a gaggle of gardeners scurried among the shrubbery. No matter how pretty the scenery, we would be treated as enemies. Knowing some of my fellow scientists as I did, that would be very good idea.

Bothe stammered, “I …w-wonder what they’ll do with us?”

I patted his hand with as much assurance as I could as he peeked over my shoulder at the English soldiers sitting behind us.

“Cheer up, chaps!” A freshly pressed British uniform halted beside my right elbow. Bars and medals attached to the man’s chest sparkled as sunlight slanted in from the portholes. The sun felt like a caress after the dreariness of Paris.

The owner of the uniform, Major T. A. Oliver, spoke in clipped and precise German. “Fortunately, the Nazis missed bombing this little spot of paradise.”

Johann Fromm winced at Oliver’s words and buried his face in his book, but his hands shook so badly, he probably couldn’t read anything. Perhaps he hoped to escape to where there was no war, no torture, and no bombs. Heil Hitler!

Oliver assessed us each in turn, from Altmann’s proud face to Eichen’s rodent eyes that bounced like hail on a roof. His assessment was not merely a glance, but deep eye contact intended to intimidate. When he came to me, I returned the stare, unblinking as a snake.

As the English Major settled into his seat, his mouth fell open and he stared out the window of the plane. For some reason, his attention seemed to be centered on the tip of the right wing. He swallowed hard, and checked the left wing, and then looked out the right side of the plane once more. I smiled. His expression reminded me of a man that I'd seen attempting to eat a fistful of sardines at a fair in Marseilles: the major couldn't swallow what he had just seen.

No one else reacted to what the Englishman saw, not even a belch from Baba’s over-stuffed belly. Hoffman started an argument with Van Dorn who argued back in his high-pitched tenor. They resorted to whispered insults as Hoffman looked down his bulbous nose at the man he considered inferior in so many ways.

Oliver looked out the porthole again and tried to shake the image of what he saw out of his head. When he tried to observe the rest of us out of the corner of his eye, likely to determine if we'd noticed anything, I made sure not to return his glance.


Several minutes passed. When he regained his composure, the major stood and addressed us in English. “The ten of you are our guests. England is honored to have you here, gentlemen.”

Eichen buttoned and unbuttoned his coat, seeming lost in thought. But, knowing the man as I did, it was probably a lull before an obnoxious storm of ranting.

Gruber pretended to read, but he never turned any pages. With his bespectacled and round face he reminded me of a studious tow-headed toddler. The rest of my fellow scientists nodded or attempted a response---and some of us found it so very hard to act as if everything was normal; as if we'd accepted an invitation to summer in the countryside, instead of being dragged away from our homes against our will. A single tear escaped from Bothe's eye as he stared out the window, along with Hoffman.

Baba Messinger pushed his knight forward, smiled a smile that said he'd just cut off my balls, and rasped, “Your turn, Felix.”





1 mistake you made while self-publishing your book.


Do not use the free cover at the Kindle app when loading your book. Pay someone for a good one. Contrary to what you might think, studies show lots of readers choose a new author by the cover of their book. When I learned my lesson, I had to reload everything with a new cover.


How to Write by the Seat of Your Pants: Outline or No?


I do not outline and believe it stifles your creativity to do so. There are lots of small notes for the plot I think of as I go, but the plot itself unfolds at the direction of the characters. The downside? I have written myself into a corner twice and had trouble getting out again the last time it happened.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found HERE

Early work was horror and suspense, later work morphed into a combination of magical realism, mystery and adventure painted with a horrific element as needed.


I’m one of those writers who doesn’t plan ahead, no outlines, no clue, and I sometimes write myself into a corner. Atmospheric music in the background helps. Black by Pearl Jam especially.


More information is available at LouKemp.com. I'd love to hear from you and what you think of Celwyn, Bartholomew, and Professor Xiau Kang.


Milestones:

2009 The anthology story Sherlock’s Opera appeared in Seattle Noir, edited by Curt Colbert, Akashic Books. Available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble online. Booklist published a favorable review of my contribution to the anthology.

2010 My story, In Memory of the Sibylline, was accepted into the best-selling MWA anthology Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris. The immortal magician Celwyn makes his first appearance in print.

2018 The story, The Violins Played before Junstan is published in the MWA anthology Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. The Celwyn series begins.

Present The full length prequel, The Violins Played before Junstan, to the Celwyn book series is published on Kindle. The companion book, Farm Hall is also published where Pelaez, another immortal magician and Celwyn's brother, makes his first appearance. The remaining books in the series: Music Shall Untune the Sky, The Raven and the Pig, The Pirate Danced and the Automat Died, will be available beginning in August 2021.


Twitter: https://twitter.com/LouKempBooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Lou-Kemp/100070730154592/

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