Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Release: THE SIREN'S CALL (Book 3)

THE SIREN'S CALL is now released and available at the following: Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble (should be today). This is Book Three of the Forced To Serve series.

Short description: 

With her Siren mate and his mother captured by slave traders, Commander Gwen Jet is willing to do anything to get them back, even going undercover as a slave. But when she and Ania are both captured, the situation goes from bad to worse, especially when she finds that Dorian Zade no longer remembers her and is in survival mode.

While she can’t help being angry that she suffered four days of torture in answering the Siren’s call for a male who no longer knows her, their mating cord also may be the only remaining connection between them. Luckily, it seems to be enough to keep the still drugged and more aggressive version of Zade from seeing her as an enemy and trying to kill her.

Because of the cord her Siren mate now desires her as much as he did in the beginning, before her Lotharian captors stripped his energy from her. But Gwen can't help wondering which version of Zade is the one that feels that way.

And what will happen when his memories return?


Excerpt from the rescue

Gwen grabbed Jordon's arm when he went to pull away. “Don’t be a martyr. I can remove your collar as well. I don’t care what’s going on here, but we really need to leave if we’re going to. Every moment we linger is a risk.”

He looked unsure, then looked at Sarinnea, who nodded.

“I’ve worn this collar for fifteen Earth years,” he said to the brash female who still had a strong grip on him.

Gwen stepped close, took a deep breath, and put her hands on the Norblade male’s slave collar. The moment the word she spoke hit the air, the collar came unlocked. This time the reverberating pain it caused in her body sent her to her knees, which got scraped on the stony ground, along with her hands that Zade had dragged across the brick wall as they escaped.

“Damn it, Ania. It doesn’t send you to your knees. What am I doing wrong?”

She looked over and saw Zade studying her again. Was that admiration she saw in his gaze? Or condescension? It had always been hard to tell with him. At the moment, it was nearly impossible to read his expressions.

“A little help here,” she said to him, snapping her fingers and waving her hand to motion him to help her. Despite their situation, Gwen snorted as she watched Zade almost reluctantly walk to where she knelt in the dirt. Evidently he’d kill for her but didn’t want to help her up after she fell. Males were so hard to understand.

“I thought I was supposed to be the owner and you were supposed to be the slave,” he said, his tone full of sarcasm that he couldn’t explain to himself. The warrior female had done nothing but help people, yet everything about her irritated him. As did the fact that he wanted inside her more passionately than he had wanted out of his cage.

Gwen laughed despite the situation, finding Zade’s smart-ass remarks oddly reassuring since it meant he trusted her enough to know she wasn’t going to do more than verbally retaliate. It meant the real Dorian Zade was still in the damaged male somewhere.

“And here I thought maybe I was going to be spared your sarcasm now that you don’t remember anything about me,” Gwen said, smiling at his glare.

He finally offered his hand to her, pulling her to her feet, catching her as she weaved. “I’d offer to carry you, but I don’t think I can. They drugged everything I ate and drank. It’s fading a bit, but I’m still doing well just to walk.”

Gwen patted his arm before shifting her gaze to Jordon. “I’ll make it. So you coming with us or not?”

Jordon sighed and climbed over the fence. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

Gwen snorted. “I hope so too. Now let’s get the hell out of here.”

She grabbed Zade’s wrist, pushing the com link as she lifted it close to her mouth. His gaze was hot on her as her lips almost grazed his arm, but she made herself ignore the signals his body was sending.

“We’ve found Sarinnea,” she said when Synar connected.

“Good. We ran into complications, but we’re on our way in. Meet me at the shuttle. It’s in the woods just outside the city. The coordinates are in the com unit,” Synar said.

“Heading there now. Jet out,” Gwen said, ignoring the way Zade rubbed the wrist she’d held while he held her gaze. Pulling her eyes from his, she looked at the new group member that she hoped could prove himself useful. “Which way is the city gate, Jordon?”

He lifted his hand and pointed.

“Thanks. Let’s go then,” Gwen said, heading off.

The other three watched her stride off not even glancing back. They looked at each other and then followed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Contest Winners: Naming the ship (Update June 19)

I'm a little later than I thought, but I have picked winning names. I wanted to run my choices by my editor to see if he agreed they would work in the series. Here are the final decisions. I ended up working in several suggestions.

Current rescue ship from Books 1-4 has been christened the "Liberator".  I let Gwen have her way about it because it fit the smaller, stealthy rescue ship. However, she now loses her vote for future ships which is where I am choosing to apply the names.

Those who read the series know the crews keeps expanding. The mission in Book 3 highlights to Captain Synar and his crew that a larger, more technically advanced ship would be a good idea. So Liam is going to ask the Peace Alliance for an upgrade to a "Guardian" level vessel. If it gets to happen, and I feel 100% sure it will, the new rescue ship coming in Book 4 and/or 5 will be called the "Guardian". Thanks to Cassie from FB for that name!

At the end of Book 3, the crew will be preparing for the next mission in Book 4 which will have help from two more ships. So I have chosen the names "Paladin" and "Dreadnought" for those two ships. Thanks to Michelle for those names!

Winners will be contacted by email or private message to receive a code for a free copy of THE SIREN'S CALL which will be published in a few days.



 Star Trek has the Enterprise. Star Wars has the Millennium Falcon. And Firefly has the Serenity. However, in the FORCED TO SERVE series, no one has named the ship.

In the back story, the ship's name is only initials and a number. I called it the FTS-13. Boring--yes I know--so I'm turning the dilemma into a contest. I purposely did not mention the ship's name in Books One and Two, but would like to officially name it in THE SIREN'S CALL (Book Three) which will be coming out soon, hopefully later this month.

Want to help name the ship? You can see a small version of it in the Book One cover. From now until Sunday June 17, I will accept name suggestions in the comments of this blog.

The winner will receive acknowledgement and win a free ebook copy of THE SIREN'S CALL when it is released.

Commander Gwen Jet wanted me to make sure participants remembered that English is the common language on the ship. Translation: the ship gets an Earth English name. She is suggesting we call it the Liberator. I thought Demon Runner sounded good, but Captain Synar is not keen on my choice for obvious reasons.

So pick something better or we'll have to use Gwen's suggestion. She's so aggressive, it's hard to tell her no. Dorian said he's not fighting over the ship's name. Ania is just shrugging. No one else cared. But I'm tired of writing "back to the ship". I'd rather write "back to the Liberator" or. . .whatever.

Rules: 1) Ship's name has to be cool and appropriate in the eyes of the author. 2) Participants can enter a suggestion if they want to win, or vote on one already made to help someone else win, but only the person who suggests the chosen name wins the prize. 3) The name has to be something Captain Synar would approve of because the ship is his life, and he is the author's life, and. . .well you can see where I'm going with this one.

Winner will be announced on this blog Monday, June 18. Announcement of selected name will be sent out via social media, but you'll need to come back to the blog post to see the winner. I will also email or contact the winner to let them know.

Please remember to bookmark, sign up to follow the site, have the blog emailed, or add it to your RSS feed so you will be sure and see the winner when it's announced.

Thanks for the entering the contest!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Excerpt from THE SIREN'S CALL

This book will be released sometime next week. The contest to name the ship ends on Sunday, June 17. In the meantime, here is Chapter 1 for those of you who are looking forward to the next adventure.



“Did you let me do that?” Gwen demanded, glaring down at the woman splayed out on the mat at her feet.

“We’ve been fighting for weeks. Have I not thrown you down enough for you to know I would never willing let you best me?” Ania demanded back, reaching up a hand. “Stop glaring and help me up.”

Gwen snorted, still unable to believe she’d truly put the new and now more robust version of Ania down. She yanked the female to her feet, barely exerting any effort. Her strength was growing, and it wasn’t just her imagination, Gwen decided. Getting stronger was just one of many changes she discovered happening to her body since the mating cord to Dorian had been completed.

“You know damn well I’m not that good yet. If you didn’t let me toss your ass, then how the hell did it happen?” Gwen demanded. Her promise to talk more respectfully to her trainer, teacher, and friend was temporarily forgotten in her struggle to understand her new skills.

“I’m not quite sure,” Ania replied calmly, retrieving her fighting stick and leaning on it. “You were in some kind of zone that I couldn’t penetrate. It was much like the way Dorian fights. Perhaps he gave that to you with your mating. Sirens share all they are with their chosen mates, though I have never seen it take this form.”

Gwen shrugged. “It was like I saw everything you were going to do in my head. One minute I was contemplating whether or not to trust what I was sensing, and the next—you were on the mat. Hell, I didn’t even know I had moved until I saw you at my feet.”

“What you did in besting me was most impressive for a Khalsa warrior with your limited training,” Ania praised, bowing her head. “Do you think your intuition is growing as well?”

“Yes. It’s just one more thing you were right about I guess. Though it’s more like I’m reading minds than predicting the future like Zade and Synar do,” Gwen said, seeing Jurek walk through the door and give Ania an assessing look, which Ania missed with her back turned.

“I still don’t see the benefit of intuition. For example, I certainly don’t need to read my old trainer’s mind to know Jurek has a crush on you. And frankly, I’d just as soon not see what form he wishes that admiration could take. Sheesh—he needs a female,” Gwen said, tossing her fighting stick from hand to hand for something to do. She had a hard time being still lately and was reading minds a lot more than she was comfortable admitting.

Ania laughed, unaffected by the passing desires of other males for her. Jurek was a fine male, but there was only one in her life that counted, a fact she was grateful for because he was enough of a distraction. Her mate, Captain Liam Synar, had been talking about having children for the last two days, and she couldn’t get him to cease his dreaming of her carrying his child.

He had already made her confess that she had dreamed of their children when they were still new to each other. But Ania hadn’t yet figured out how to tell her mate that dream had died completely after Malachi had informed her they would be demon babies too. It was bad enough she shared a demon’s fate. The last thing she wanted was to force it on innocent children.

“Odd that you are able to read Jurek so well. I would say that in addition to your enhanced fighting skills, you have also acquired Dorian’s ability to read personal energy. Combined with what you already biologically inherited from your Thelorian father, your intuitive skills should be more than equal to Synar’s now,” Ania said, nodding in approval. “Of course, learning to control those abilities and exercise sound judgment on what they provide will still prove a great challenge for the irrational Earthling you mostly still are.”

Gwen settled for a glare. Ignoring Ania’s teasing to focus on the bigger picture was becoming second nature. Her Khalsa trainer was teaching her to keep her mind calm even when her emotions got out of control. It was more than being calm under pressure. It was the ability to calm herself when she wanted to be calm—something she’d thought she’d mastered until she took on a Siren and ended up bound to him.

“This mating deal with Zade just keeps getting worse,” Gwen complained. “I got married to an invisible groom who made me perceptive to other people’s sexual needs when I’m personally unable to do anything except wish for him. Not a very good wedding gift if you ask me. I like being physically stronger, but Zade could have kept the voyeurism stuff to himself.”

“The Creators sometimes use circumstances like your unusual mating to bestow what they wish a being to have as gifts. I doubt Dorian had that much control over what you received,” Ania said with a shrug, not needing to be schooled in Earth mating customs to hear the disappointment in Gwen’s voice.

“Are you telling me you believe your deities are partly responsible for the Klageldon dung I’m going through?” Gwen asked, rolling her eyes at how ridiculous it sounded to her. “Why? Do they hate me?”

“It took Dorian three years of training to put me on the mat. You managed to do it less than a week after your Siren mating cord was completed. Doesn’t that make you feel better about some of your new skills?”

Gwen laughed but finally nodded. “Yes. I suppose being capable of putting a real Khalsa warrior on the mat makes up for the rest of it a little.”

“Good to hear. Of course I was a lot younger when I trained Dorian. Maybe after several hundred years I’ve slowed down enough to be bested by an Earthling,” Ania said, grinning at the flash of irritation in Gwen’s eyes. “Perhaps I should even be ashamed.”

Ania saw the punch in the arm coming but figured she deserved it when it landed harder than she’d anticipated. Laughing, she danced away from Gwen to rub the mock wound. The young warrior definitely was getting stronger. She hit like a man lately.

“You just had to ruin the moment for me, didn’t you?” Gwen demanded.

“You make it too easy wearing your mixed feelings for Dorian all over your attitude that way. Why don’t we try meditating again? I know you say you can’t quiet your mind enough, but I think we should practice each day regardless,” Ania said. “Visions come during meditation much like they do through dreams.”

“If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have said no yesterday. Let’s go then,” Gwen said, jogging off the mat and putting the fighting stick back on the wall. “I haven’t seen him in my head in several days. I’m ready to send Malachi to try again. Anything is better than waiting for something to happen.”

Ania shook her head. “No. Malachi said it would do no good because there’s an energy block on Dorian’s end of the cord. Malachi can’t break through it without harming him. He said Dorian probably blocked it off to keep his captors from knowing it was there. When the demon has nothing to personally gain from being less than truthful about the situation, I find I can believe him completely.”

Gwen sighed, hoping whatever Zade was doing wasn’t hurting him. She didn’t need more worry. She was already worrying enough. In fact, worrying about him and Sarinnea seemed like all she did when she wasn’t working or training.

Ania hung up her fighting stick and went to retrieve her shoes, stalling while Gwen mentally wrestled with her concerns. She was all too aware of the turmoil in her pupil and friend but had said little about it. She didn’t want to throw Gwen into a depression. So far Gwen had managed to hold up best when she managed to push away the worry on her own.

“Have you seen Dorian’s meditation room?” Ania asked at last, not questioning Gwen’s quiet frown or the single shake of her head the question brought. “It’s very comforting. A lot of his energy is there. I think you’ll like it. We’ll try that today instead of his quarters.”

“If it makes me cry, I’ll put you on your ass again. All I do is worry and cry. Both are nothing but a waste of energy and time,” Gwen said.

“Do not be so prideful. Besides—if you cry, who will see or care?” Ania said with shrug. “Your tears are not a sign of weakness, but rather evidence of the depth of your feelings for your mate. They break down your physical and mental walls. They might even make the meditation easier for you.”

Gwen sighed as they headed out the door and down the hall to the room she’d purposely never visited. Even just walking by the closed door, she could tell the man’s energy was there. But he wasn’t, and she knew it would only make her miss Zade more to expose herself to it. Being already full up on the torture of missing her mate, she had intentionally stayed away.

When Ania held the door wide, Gwen took a deep breath and reluctantly stepped across the threshold. Inside there was blessed peace and the same calm Dorian exuded. Unable to stop them, Gwen let the tears roll unchecked down her face. She had never fully appreciated the calming affect he had on her until he was gone. Now it was one of the things she missed the most.

“Here—wear this,” Ania said, holding a robe up for Gwen as they both slipped off their shoes. She was pleased when Gwen just slipped her arms into it without debate. “Use the sleeves to dry the tears you shed for him. Dorian would hate that. He’s very particular about his clothes.”

Gwen snickered at Ania’s teasing even as she sniffed. “It almost feels like he’s here,” she said. “I expect him any moment to come through the door frowning and complaining.”

Ania nodded and smiled. “Yes. Dorian has embedded his energy into everything in this space. It stands in defiance of any energy coming through the door that might disrupt the peace. No holy place has ever been guarded better. Dorian is more than just strong in body. His spirit is immense.”

“I don’t know how I stayed away from him for as long as I did. I also can’t let myself believe that it ends like this—with him abducted and us not able to find him,” Gwen said.

She lifted her arms and saw the long sleeves hanging over her fingertips. She was tall enough to handle the length of the robe, but having been made to fit a tall Siren male, the arms were too long for her. It was like wearing a boyfriend’s sweater in school, she supposed. And why did Zade always make her think of the sentimental aspects of her mother’s culture?

“I swear Zade has turned me into some damn wimpy Earth female. All I want to do is wrap myself in this robe, lie down, and cry myself to sleep. Only sheer willpower, and the knowledge of how stupid that would be, keeps me from doing it,” Gwen confessed.

“I can feel your distress, but I do not think it is necessarily a negative. It validates how close in spirit you are with your missing mate. Kneel down on the pillow over there,” Ania said, pointing to the braided rug and pillow that Dorian brought from Rylen.

“Must I do the kneeling thing?” Gwen asked, hating that she sounded like child begging its mother not to have to do a chore. She was a commander—damn it. Where was her pride?

“Yes, you must do as I ask. Kneeling grounds you to the ship. It is not as good as grounding to planetary soil, but out here it is all we can do. While you kneel, allow yourself to experience your weaknesses for your mate and try making peace with your feelings. I assure you doing so will only make you more fierce as a warrior. Vulnerability is the other side of great strength in battle,” Ania instructed.

“But what if I fail? What if nothing I do helps us find him?” Gwen asked, all the questions and concerns a swirl of pain inside her.

“Gwen Shenu Jet, you made your mate proud the moment you stepped into this room where so much of his energy and power is invested. Now do as I request,” Ania ordered, turning her pupil to face where she wanted her to go before stepping back.

Gwen sighed and walked to the pillow, doing as Ania asked as she knelt. She pulled Dorian’s robe tighter around her body, reveling in the scent of him that still clung to it. It was tempting to take it back to his quarters where she had been sleeping every night he’d been gone.

As she took a deep breath, the pain of not spending those last nights with him when she could have done so filled her heart.

Then suddenly her mind went back to the day they had gone to rescue Ania. She had been so resentful of Zade that day and had acted hatefully when he offered her comfort, as was typical of her usual interaction with him. Zade had sent calming vibrations into her despite her bad attitude and her insistence of not needing his help.

As she brought that moment to mind, she could actually feel his calming vibrations settle over her again. Maybe they had been stored in the robe and she was draining them off. Maybe none of his energy would be left in the robe afterwards and this moment was the last time she was ever going to feel his energy again. The pain of that possibility was nearly unbearable to her, and she had to bite her lip to keep from saying it out loud.

Hot tears ran unchecked down her face as Gwen wished for nothing more than to wrap her arms around Dorian again and tell him how much she appreciated all that he was. She might never be an easy female to live with, but she for sure would not be so cold and hateful to him when he came back. Instead, she would thank him for caring for her.

Ania padded silently across the back of the room in bare feet, careful to not disrupt the energy Gwen was calling into herself. It was as if the very room and all the objects in it were trying to comfort Dorian’s mate in his absence. Energy was seeping from things and going into Gwen. She had not seen anything like it happen before and feared disrupting it before it had become all that it was meant to be. Her trust in the Creators allowed her to see that they were working through Gwen to set them all on the right path.

While Ania paced and waited, she chanted the names of the Creators under her breath, hoping they would hear her prayer and aid them. Feeling the resonation of her chant inside her gut, her head whipped toward Gwen, who suddenly groaned and fell forward.

Ania ran across the floor and rug to the now unconscious female, positioning her carefully with the pillow under her head. Gwen was tangled in Dorian’s meditation robe, but Ania only tucked it more tightly around her.

Then, knowing that vision trances were unpredictable in length, Ania found a comfortable position on the floor where she could best guard Gwen’s body until her spirit returned from wherever it had gone to look for Dorian.


When Gwen finally became aware of herself and her surroundings, she feared the worst. Looking down at her clothes had her swearing because she was just as sparsely clothed as she had been in the first vision she’d ever had about where Zade was being held.

Again she had no weapon and no shoes as she crept along the sides of buildings and across rough ground that hurt her bare feet. Relieved to see an end to the torture of her feet, Gwen finally saw the larger building she recalled contained Zade, but this time she made herself look around before rushing inside.

Finding it hard to turn her head as easily as she wished, Gwen raised hands to her neck. She was wearing a collar. Even without a mirror to check, she would bet a year’s wages it was the same type she had seen on Zade before.

Dropping her hands, Gwen looked around, finally noticing a single female wearing a collar who was working in what appeared to be a small garden outside one of the residences. Walking within hearing distance, Gwen stopped far enough away not to alarm her.

“Are you here to free me?” the female asked.

Gwen noted her tone was hopeful even though she never raised her head from her task to even look at who she addressed. She pondered briefly whether or not a lie would serve her goals best, but in the end opted for bald truth. “I’m not sure what I’m here to do other than find my abducted mate.”

“If you are not here to save me, then I cannot help you,” the female said, turning away.

“Look, I’m Commander Gwen Jet. I work on a Peace Alliance rescue ship. If you help me, I’ll make sure the Peace Alliance knows you’re being held here as a slave against your will. That’s all I can do.”

Gwen waited, but the female just continued to ignore her.

“Shades of Kellnor—I’m here only because I’m having a vision. They don’t seem to last long so please tell me what the name of this planet is before I wake up,” she demanded, running a restless hand through her short hair. She noticed the female had short hair as well. What did their captors have against long hair?

“I cannot be a slave,” the female said firmly.

“I know. No one is meant to be a slave,” Gwen agreed. “Now please—I’m begging you. Tell me where I am—where you are.”

The female finally stopped working and looked Gwen full in the face. Startled awareness grew in Gwen as she recognized her, but she said nothing because the female seemed finally ready to talk.

“My name is Sarinnea. This is the planet Terris Rein. I cannot become a bonding slave again. You must rescue me,” she demanded.

Gwen nodded. “Yes, I see that now. When I come to get Dorian Zade, I will rescue you as well. You have my word.”

“Dorian Zade? You’re coming for Dorian? Hurry then because his owner is very unhappy with him,” Sarinnea said, beginning to cry. “He—he is damaged and cannot perform his duties to his mistress. I fear she will tire of trying to fix him. I hear talk of his mistress selling him to someone else.”

“Would this matter to you?” Gwen asked, testing the female and her vision.

The female sniffled and nodded, going back to her tasks. “Dorian is my child. Of course I would care.”

“Sarinnea,” Gwen said, reaching out only to see her hand was transparent. “The vision is ending, but we’re on our way. I swear it. We’re coming to get you both.”

“What can you do, Gwen Jet? You’re just another slave,” Sarinnea said sadly, sniffling as she went back to her work.

“Trust me,” Gwen said fiercely, her voice fading. “I’m not a slave.”

“When you wear the collar, you have to be a slave,” Sarinnea said. “Dorian has been rendered unconscious by his several times, yet he still resists his fate.”

“We’re coming, Sarinnea. Tell him we’re coming. This is not just a dream,” Gwen said.

Then the world she’d been in receded and Gwen heard herself moaning with a headache far worse than any she’d ever known.

“Raging fires of Helios—having visions hurts,” she said, bringing both hands to her head. “I can’t keep doing this shit.”

Yet ironically, as badly as she hurt, Gwen was still wishing she’d been able to control the vision long enough to check on Zade again. Instead, she’d spent too long talking to Zade’s mother, but at least she knew where they were now.

Trying to fight her way out of the darkness, Gwen wanted to ask Ania for help, but the words seemed to be frozen on her tongue. Or her tongue seemed to be frozen and unable to form the words. It was hard to tell the difference, but whatever was happening, it was only making her madder.

Meanwhile, her mind continued to churn with what needed to be done.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Origin of Malachi in THE DEMON OF SYNAR

Most demons have their origins in complete evil and some kind of eternal Earthly damnation/hell. Those kind of demons--tortured human or angelic souls--can certainly be interesting. But I learned in research that "demon" is just a newer form of the word "daemon". The definition of "daemon" is "an inner or attendant spirit or inspiring force". To me that definition doesn't necessarily imply evil, but rather just something supernatural. Evil is a value judgement about the possessed entity's use of the "attendant spirit or inspiring force". Right?

So is Malachi an evil demon or a inspiring daemon? Good question, but I don't know.

In the FORCED TO SERVE series, the back story of the character of Malachi is that he wasn't always a demon. Once upon a time he had a corporeal body. He was an accomplished, albeit wicked by Earth standards, ruling leader among his people, not to mention a very aggressive one. It was easy for me to envision him as being a Genghis Khan type of conqueror.

Buy links
Like your typical power mad leader, Malachi fully enjoyed using everyone he came into contact with for his own self-serving purposes. And he did so with no remorse. Knowing Malachi's full history because his family has controlled him for centuries, Captain Liam Synar, Malachi's current, and very reluctant master in Book 1, isn't buying the possibility that the demon can ever be anything but pure evil. He fears him and fears linking himself to that kind of power. That contemplative gaze on the cover of Book 1 is pretty accurate for the amount of soul-searching the good captain does about it.

But back to Malachi, everyone knows that when any one being gains too much control, it tends to put everything around that being out of balance. This is not a rule I made up for the FORCED TO SERVE stories. It's more like a universal truth that is often philosophically discussed in science fiction. Chaos and rebellion naturally ensue against those beings seeking ultimate control until something happens to create a balance again. Earth human history is full of real-life examples. Comics and fiction are full of stories about those who seek to restore the balance again.

Don't all quests for power ultimately hit a wall at the point of time where there are simply no more people to conquer or control? Otherwise why would space travel even exist? (Just kidding. Hard core science fiction readers: please do not set your weapons higher than stun when commenting. Thank you.)

Okay--back to Malachi's story. This is the good part. It's where he ran into trouble. . .

The Creators of All, a set of deities who crave balance, gave Malachi and his people an ultimatum. They could either suffer complete annihilation as a people or each major offender could enter into a sacred contract which would grant them all the power they could ever want. While on the surface, the offer seemed like a no-brainer compared to the one about annihilation, but it came with a very high price. Malachi lost his corporeality and had to watch the empty shell of his physical body die and turn to dust without his spirit within it. Afterwards existing only in "demon mist" form, Malachi quickly learned that he could not experience much enjoyment of anything. Instead, he became dependent upon any person willing to "host" him and let him share their life, even if it was just in a second-hand manner.

Buy links
Used to controlling others, rather than being controlled, even in his spiritual punishment Malachi quickly learned to become a skilled manipulator of the situation and his hosts. When the Creators figured out Malachi was still wrecking havoc in their universe, they amended the sacred contract, doubling the penalty for the worst of the demons by linking their fate to a "master". This essentially was a person whose family the demon would forever have a sacred obligation to serve. Liam is just the latest Synar in a long line to be serving as Malachi's master.

In the FORCED TO SERVE series, one of the big questions is whether or not Malachi can be redeemed. His current master certainly doesn't think so because it's no secret in the Synar family that Malachi has spent at least a 1000 years of his existence not caring about anyone but himself. In fact, the first tiny bit of growth Malachi has is in the book is when he finds himself having even mild concerns for Ania. He admits to us all, as well as her, that even though he tried to always be "good" to his hosts, he simply does not remember having such feelings for anyone else before her.

Also, you don't get very far into the books before you find out that Malachi has done some extremely evil things during the course of his existence. But as a college English instructor pointed out to me many years ago, even the worst of bad guys are usually good to their mothers, a thought which pops into my head every time Malachi does something nice for someone else in the story. When he does something funny and makes Ania laugh, I don't know what to think of him. I mean, how completely bad can a demon be that makes his host laugh? I'm not really sure.

The Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu said "He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still."  

It is my hope Malachi reads some Lao Tzu one day because I have put him on the journey of mastering himself in this series. However, even an author gets surprised sometimes. If Malachi can be redeemed, the question probably is "What will it take?" I have not found the answer in three books. Maybe that's a big part of why I'm still writing.