Bring Anthony to You

Meet Anthony and get your books signed at upcoming readings, signings, and events! See below for Anthony’s current schedule of events.

Book Anthony for Your Event

Anthony is available for virtual and real-world events including book fairs, workshops, conventions, panel discussions, video chats, and more. Please contact me: with your specific requirements, as I would love to help with your next event.

Bring Anthony’s “Faddah Rucksack’s Roadsong” to You

No, you don’t have to dress like this.

Can’t make it to an event? Bring Anthony to you!

Email Anthony and ask about his Living Room Tour Performance, “Faddah Rucksack’s Roadsong”


5 lessons learned from 5 years as a full-time writer and author entrepreneur

Five years ago in June 2011, I gave up my job as a website editor at a national sales company to become a full-time professional writer and author entrepreneur.

This is the part where I should pop out the old chestnut that most small businesses in the US fail within the first five years.

But I’m still here.

I’m a full-time, self-employed author and professional writer. I write and publish both my own books, as well as articles for a range of print and online publications. I also structure my business and schedule so that I don’t work all the time, but am actively involved every day with my wife and our two small children. I work on our house. I cook (quite a bit, actually). I’m present in life, family, and work—and five years on, I’m still going strong and wake up each morning excited for a new day.

I know that you may be pondering your own journeys. Maybe there’s one you’re on, maybe there’s one you’re yearning to start. So I wanted to take a little time today to talk about 5 lessons my journey has taught me so far.

  1. Get started. Don’t quit.
  2. Big projects are actually lots of little projects added up.
  3. There is no muse. There is only process.
  4. Understand your options, make confident decisions, and follow through.
  5. Fear shows you crossroads, but love should pick the path.

1. Get started. Don’t quit.

When I started my old job in 2004, I was thinking that I could have the best of both worlds: a steady, decent income, and time on the side to write. You know what I didn’t do for seven years?

I didn’t write on the side. I put other things ahead of my writing. Writing kept being something I wanted to do instead of something I was doing. Finally, my wife and I realized that I needed to put up or shut up. I either had to write and publish stories, or I had to let it go and move on.

I chose to commit. Once I got started, I made one other important choice: I wouldn’t quit. I would keep making small steps and big steps, small decisions and big decisions, that kept moving me along where I wanted to go.

The key to a journey is to not only to start, but to keep going. There are difficulties, setbacks, and challenges. But if you keep at it, you will find little successes that keep adding up to bigger wins and better opportunities.

For me, I needed to take the big leap. I chose to go full time, but that’s not required. The important part is the commitment. Maybe it means writing a little every day, or finally sending in that manuscript, or refining your process (more on that in a bit). No matter what, it’s time to make a promise to your craft and stick with it.

2. Big projects are actually lots of little projects added up.

Whether it’s a 1,000-word article or a 100,000-word novel, a project can seem like a giant, impassable, impenetrable monolith. You stare at the bloody thing, but there’s no way through it, no way up it, and no way around it.

Until you look closely.

All writing projects are the sum of lots of little projects added up to the complete whole. Just as the human body is actually a mass of trillions of cells working together, any writing project is letters and ideas, words and paragraphs that add up to something bigger than their component parts, but which could not exist without those smaller parts working in concert.

All my writing projects get broken down into smaller steps. For an article, that’s usually first the research, second the interview, third outlining the piece, fourth writing a rough draft, and fifth revising to final draft and filing the story with my editor.

A novel is on a different scale, but the same principle holds true. Break down the novel into different smaller parts—preferably tied to some sense of word count, to give you some sort of concrete number to aim for. If you say you are going to sit down and write a book… you will wind up putting your head through the desk. But if you sit down with a goal of writing a book with 50 scenes of 1,500–2,500 words per scene (which adds us to a 75,000–125,000-word rough draft, by the way, not chump change by any means)? That is doable. You can wrap your head around that.

At least, with four books published over the last 5 years, that’s working out pretty well for me so far.

3. There is no muse. There is only process.

Anyone who asks me about writing doesn’t hear about the muse. They don’t hear about flashy spells of inspiration where I write furiously for days on end, followed by dry spells where I write nothing because, man, the muse just isn’t there, man.

Dude. I’m a parent. I’m running a business. The muse doesn’t change diapers, wash dishes, sit down at the keyboard, or meet deadlines. I do. Muses are mooches. They don’t earn their keep. I don’t write for a weekend and then do nothing for six months. I write at least a thousand words a day, six days a week. Editors like working with me not because I meet deadlines, but because I often file before deadlines.

So when people ask me about writing, they hear about process. Process is key to writing, and process is key to working toward and realizing your writing goals.

Process is how you get it done.

You’ll note that I have yet to mention my super-secret, one-size-fits-all magic pill silver bullet that cracks the code on all your writing dreams.

That’s because there isn’t any. If you want to believe there is, no offense, burn your notebooks and go do something else. You won’t be a writer. You’ll just be chasing crap that you’ve confused for gold. That search will have no end, because you’re seeking something that doesn’t exist.

There is no muse. There is only process. Every successful writer, trad or indie published, has worked out a process that works for them. So has anyone who completes projects in any field, from the arts to sales, manufacturing to real estate.

No process, no success. Know process, know success.

You’ll also note that I’m not telling you my process.

That’s because it won’t work for you. Just like your process won’t work for me.

No one’s process is a template that you can just plug in to your brain. Here’s the only thing that works: You have to figure it out for yourself.

How do you learn your process? By good ole trial and error. You can research, read articles, take courses, talk to people, yes, those are all good things that will inform your process. But ultimately you must apply that learning to your own writing, and you can’t let learning become an excuse that stops you writing. You will never know enough. You will only know enough to get you started—and if you want to finish, first you have to start.

But here’s the thing: you’re not taming tigers. Nothing is going to eat you because you wrote a crappy story. If you write that crappy story though, and figure out why it was crappy, then you can learn from it and do a better job on the next one.

The more you work at it, the more you will refine your process. It took my first two books to teach me my process. Four books in, I now have a solid idea of what works for me to get my writing done and to have a story that damn well sings on the page.

But as I start outlining my fifth book, I will still be refining my process. I will be on my fiftieth book too.

Start figuring out your process, and it will be like a treasure map to your goals. Follow your process, and you will get to where you want to go. You don’t need a muse. You just need your process. But hey, if it helps, call process a muse. Process won’t care, and you’ll get more done.

4. Understand your options, make confident decisions, and follow through.

This is the hardest thing to do… except for #5. But we’ll get to that.

Anyone who wants to make a big life change often hits what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance. This is not the Resistance of the kickass song by the band Muse. It’s not a group of revolutionaries. Resistance is the scared part of you that wants to preserve your current state of being at all costs, out of terrified concern that any change will destroy you.

Resistance, though, can be repurposed. That fear can become the energy that drives you. The key to making it as a writer, or pretty much anything, is very simple. It’s not easy. But it is simple:

Understand your options.

Make confident decisions.

Follow through.

Understanding your options means educating yourself. For example, do you want to publish through a traditional publisher, or do you set up your own publishing operation? Each option has positives and negatives. One option may be perfect for one project, but not the next. Learn about the options and how they apply to your situation, your dreams, your project. Know what you’re getting into, what the pitfalls are, what you give and gain.

Then decide. Indecision is the enemy of completion. Anyone who does anything has to make choices. Those choices will likely be flawed. You likely will be plagued by doubt. You still must choose.

And you must follow through. Following through means sticking to what you chose. But it also means learning. If you made a mistake, following through also means changing course, making amends, or using the mistake to springboard to a better decision.

My son is sometimes terrified of making mistakes. He’s a lot like me in that regard. And I tell him the same thing I keep telling myself: mistakes are opportunities to learn, but in order to learn, we first must choose, do, and keep at it.

Understand your options. Make confident decisions. Follow through.

5. Fear shows you crossroads, but love should pick the path.

We all know what it is to be afraid. I’ve been afraid many times, and I’ll be afraid many times more. And I’ll tell you a secret: I’m not afraid right now… I’m terrified.

Whenever I have felt trapped, or when I have felt overwhelmed, or when I have felt like I can’t make a decision, it has always been because I am at a crossroads. Fear usually shows me these crossroads—it’s very good at sniffing them out.

Over my five years so far as a full-time author and professional writer, I’ve been afraid lots of times. And like I said, I’m terrified right now. I’m working hard on improving my marketing. Talking more. Being more personal and open. I’m a very private, closed, quiet, prefer-to-listen-instead-of-talk kind of person. Being more open online scares the hell out of me.

But I’m doing it anyway.

Because here’s the thing: I have to. The next phase of my business’s growth depends on my being willing to improve how I do outreach and awareness for me and my work. My fear of this has shown me that I’m at a crossroads.

I can keep being afraid, and I’ll eke on, doing okay, but not really breaking out.

Or I can work past the fear, and skyrocket.

So here’s what I’m trying to do: Thank the fear for being there, for showing me this choice.

Then I will tell it to step back. That I’m in charge, and that we’ve got things to do. Because I love what I do, and because I can do better, if I am more open and trusting, then my business will grow. I will write more stories. I will sell more books. I will get where I want to go.

In every decision that has been worthwhile in my life so far, love has led the way. In every decision where I wish I’d made a better choice, fear did the choosing.

So now, even though I’m terrified, even though I have screenfright like some people have stagefright, I’m working through the fear and working on the fear. Yes, I’m at a crossroads.

Fear showed me the choice.

But love will do the choosing.

I know my choice. So I’m committing.

So I can keep going for another five years and beyond.

These past five years have been an amazing ride. I’ve written dozens of articles. Published four books. All while bringing two kids into the world. Thank you for being part of this journey. I can’t do this without your support. You’re part of the love that guides me. You’re part of why I do this.

I hope these lessons from my experience are helpful to whatever journey you’re on or wanting to take.

I can’t wait to see where you are in five years.

Let’s get to it.


What I’m doing now, July 2016

Me in a nutshell

I live in Eugene, Oregon, and have been a full-time self-employed professional writer for 5 years. I’m the author of 4 travel fantasy books in my Rucksack Universe series. I write about craft beer. I help other people with their online content and marketing. Outside of my home office, I spend lots of time with my wife, son, and daughter. And I love to cook.

This month I’m…

Celebrating.

Why? 3 main reasons:

1. New book is here!

web-TheLotusandtheBarley-AnthonyStClair

The Lotus and the Barley came out June 16, and so far response and reviews have been positive. Here’s a taste of what people are saying about this latest Rucksack Universe adventure:

  • “Strong female characters, strong story, intrigue, humor, and beer, what more could you ask for?”
  • “St Clair has built a universe that’s realistic and yet has provided just enough of that magical fantasy to take me away from the mundane world I know.”
  • “I instantly connected with the characters of Branwen and Zara. I hope there are going to be more stories with the sisters. I loved the book and am totally blown away.”

You can get the e-book or paperback today from anywhere that sells books. Here are some quick links: Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and more.

Any way you buy the book supports me, and I thank you for that—your support is part of what makes it possible for me to do the work I do. The best way to support me, though, is to buy your e-books and signed paperbacks from my author store. It’s also the only place to get bundles of all 4 books currently in the series.

2. 5 years in business

Thank you for 5 years

July marks 5 years in business for me. I can hardly believe it. When I resigned from my old job in 2011, I knew the road ahead would be both amazing and challenging—and it certainly has been. In the US, we often hear that most small businesses fail during the first 5 years. I’m so happy to be here, and be growing.

So, thank you for my first 5 years. I couldn’t do this without you, and every day I work hard and am so, so grateful for the work and life I have.

3. New kitchen!

You know something that’s fun to do after you launch a book? You know, something that takes your mind off all the stress and work of a book release?

Redoing your kitchen.

My wife and I use our kitchen a lot. We’ve been in our home for a little over 10 years, but other than a spot of paint and new appliances, we haven’t done much to the kitchen. This year we decided to fully repaint, put in a new counter and sink, and do some other sprucing up. We’re most of the way through it, and it’s been quite a project. We’ve pushed ourselves, learned lots, and done some pretty darn cool work. If I could move my office to the kitchen, I just might… Hmmm…

In other news

I’ll be doing another update with some additional items soon. There’s also been lots of articles and other content, plus a few other projects I’m working on—especially a marketing campaign for my books. Later this month my wife and I are taking the kids on a wee road trip to Portland and Seattle—lots of friends to catch up with.

Yoga once a week and walking over 10,000 steps (about 5 miles) each day, aiming for 13,000-15,000 steps (up to about 7 miles) at least a couple of days each week.

Reading 5 books:

Always intrigued by other people’s stories, so feel free to email me: writer@anthonystclair.com


10 ways you can support this indie author & THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

web-TheLotusandtheBarley-AnthonyStClairA quick favor for The Lotus and the Barley? By now, you’ve likely heard about my latest Rucksack Universe novel, The Lotus and the Barley. There’s good momentum building, but the more momentum the better for my books, especially this fourth installment in the series. It’s also an exciting time because this book comes out as I’m passing the 5-year milestone of being a full-time author and professional writer. Your support is part of what makes that possible.

Long post to follow, so here’s the too-long-didn’t-read (TL;DR) version. Please… tell someone about my books; or come to the July 15 Facebook launch; or come to the Aug. 25 community launch at Tsunami Books Eugene; or buy a copy; or request from your library; or read it with your book club; or review it online. Or all of the above. Buy links and book info: anthonystclair.com/lotus

About the book

This latest book is about two sisters who have to choose between their dreams and each other—and it’s about two enemies (Faddah Rucksack and the often-mentioned, now-to-be-introduced Guru Deep) who renew a bitter vendetta. Set in a rebuilt, post-Blast London, the story is also my most “beerpunk” yet. Readers are saying they love not only the characters (especially the sisters, plus some have said Guru Deep is a new favorite villain) and a few bits with some swords, but also all the insights into the process and poetry of brewing—and enjoying—fantastic beer.

How you can help

Are you willing to help this book? Here are 10 things you can do, some of them in 5 minutes or less, most of them for free. I’d be so grateful if you’d pick just one and let me know how I can return the favor.

1. Tell someone about the Rucksack Universe.

If you know someone who is interested in… travel… fantasy… beer… complicated fascinating characters… alternate worlds… themes of decision, destiny, transformation, and identity… then that’s someone who would really enjoy my books. Spread the word.

2. Come to the online book launch on Facebook on Friday, July 15.

I’ll be on Facebook all day, answering questions, doing live video chats, talking books and beer and travel and such, and offering 5-year-anniversary specials on the Rucksack Universe.
 Here’s the event page so you can put it on your calendar.

3. Come to the community book launch at Tsunami Books in Eugene on Aug. 25.

There’s absolutely no obligation to buy a copy of the book—we just want to pack the store with support for The Lotus and the Barley, as well as for my 3 fellow authors who are also launching new books:

  • Valerie Ihsan, The Scent of Apple Tea
  • Tanya J. Peterson, Twenty-Four Shadows
  • Gina Oschner, The Hidden Letters of Velta B.

Here’s the event page so you can put it on your calendar.

4. Purchase a copy of the book for a friend or loved one.

The book is available from any online or physical bookstore. You can also purchase e-books and signed paperbacks directly from me—e-books bought from my store include versions for all devices, and signed paperbacks are available only when buying direct.

5. Request a copy from your local library.

That goes for e-books too: nowadays many libraries lend both printed books and e-books. (You can also mention that Forever the Road was a top fantasy pick for 2015 in the American Library Association’s SELF-e program.)

6. Consider reading a Rucksack Universe title with your book club.

Each title in the series is interconnected yet stands alone, so it’s easy to try out one or many. Special book club discounts are available, as are discussion materials. I’m also available for online and in-person chats. If you’d like Rucksack Universe books for your club, just get in touch with me directly.

7. Keep an eye on my Facebook author page and new YouTube channel.

I’m realizing that some people probably think I just bake bread all day. Now that I’ve (finally) gotten a post-book launch, post-kitchen renovation haircut, I’m doing more online video to talk about The Lotus and the Barley, answer reader questions, as well as to discuss my work, why I use fantasy for my stories, and lots of other things that I think you’ll find worth watching and sharing. Keep an eye on my Facebook author page and new YouTube channel for more videos, and please send me your questions too.

8. Review it on Goodreads

If you read The Lotus and the Barley and like it, post a review on Goodreads at this link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30126014-the-lotus-and-the-barley and share on social media. Heck, feel free to post if you don’t like the novel. I can take it. 🙂

9. Or post a review at your favorite bookstore.

Bookstore websites let you post reviews, so please post a review to one of these: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iBooks (or whichever is your favorite). Please share your review on social media too. Reviews sell books, and yours will help so much.

10. Follow my email list or social media for the latest Rucksack Universe news.

Sign up for my author email list, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter @anthonystclair.

Thank you for all your help. And please do let me know when I can return the favor!


5 years

5

5 years. 5 years ago in 2011—and after lots of husband-and-wife planning and deliberating—I resigned from my old job and became a full-time author and professional writer.

I’ve now been in business for myself for 5 years.

I’ve published 4 books and dozens of articles, as well as helped various organizations with their content goals. And in the midst of this, I still get to spend lots of time with my kids, wife, and kitchen.

All this is due in no small part to you—so THANK YOU for reading and talking about my books, sharing my articles, being clients, and being part of this journey.

Here’s to the next 5 years… because the thing is, I’m just getting started.

P.S.: Stay tuned… In July, after the US Independence Day holiday weekend, I’ve got some special celebration discounts and giveaways for you 🙂


It’s here! THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY, out now

The Lotus and the Barley, Anthony St. Clair

It’s been an amazing journey, and I’m so, so thrilled to tell you that, at long last, The Lotus and the Barley, the fourth Rucksack Universe adventure, is out now in e-book and paperback!

Readers are saying they were “totally blown away” and were “surprised and delighted at every page.”

You can get your copy now, or gift a copy to someone you know, all direct from me or from your favorite bookstore. And if you prefer to shop in a physical bookstore, you can request the book and they can order it in, easy-peasy.

Buying my books and telling others about the Rucksack Universe makes it possible for me to continue creating and sharing these stories. Thank you again for all your support, and enjoy The Lotus and the Barley!

The old man: the final sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

The Lotus and the Barley, a Rucksack Universe travel fantasy novel by Anthony St. ClairToday is the final sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY! I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride—and remember, we’re only a few days away from the release of the fourth Rucksack Universe adventure…

THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY comes out June 16. Preorder today from:

Buy now from Amazon.com

Get it on iBooks

Buy now from Kobo

The book will also be available in trade paperback. Through June 11, you can enter for a chance to win 1 of 10 signed copies! (US only)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Lotus and the Barley by Anthony St. Clair

The Lotus and the Barley

by Anthony St. Clair

Giveaway ends June 11, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

Sneak Peek: The old man

THE OLD MAN HADN’T noticed the man in black before, but if he had, he didn’t know what he could’ve done differently. Picking at loose threads on his ragged gray coveralls, he drank the rest of his sample and stared at the man in black while making sure he couldn’t be seen.

The man in black drank the women’s homebrew as if it were GPS itself.

Staring down at his empty cup, Gabsir Abrigs hated to admit it, but it damn near was.

It was missing one thing though—only he didn’t know what. Not even the brewmaster knew anymore.

Before he could look away, the smaller of the two women, the quiet one, caught his eye. Before the man in black could turn around and see him too, the old man left the pub.

He had to get back to First Call. It was infuriating enough that Faddah Rucksack was back in London and sure to meddle. The brewmaster would be angry too—angrier even than about having to hear about the Malt and Hops sisters again. But he really needed to change his mind and try some of their homebrew.

Want more?

Pre-order THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY e-book from:

Buy now from Amazon.com

Get it on iBooks

Buy now from Kobo

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway from a chance to win 1 of 10 signed paperbacks (US only):

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Lotus and the Barley by Anthony St. Clair

The Lotus and the Barley

by Anthony St. Clair

Giveaway ends June 11, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


The taste-off: the next-to-last sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

The Lotus and the Barley, a Rucksack Universe travel fantasy novel by Anthony St. ClairIt’s the next-to-last sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY! I hope you’ve enjoyed these wee tastes of the fourth Rucksack Universe adventure.

THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY comes out June 16. Preorder today from:

Buy now from Amazon.com

Get it on iBooks

Buy now from Kobo

The book will also be available in trade paperback. Through June 11, you can enter for a chance to win 1 of 10 signed copies! (US only)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Lotus and the Barley by Anthony St. Clair

The Lotus and the Barley

by Anthony St. Clair

Giveaway ends June 11, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Tune in tomorrow for the final sneak peek!

THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

Sneak Peek: The taste-off

“ZARA KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT tasting beer,” said Branwen. “She can taste a hop substitution while stuffed up with a head cold.”

Rucksack and Zara locked eyes and grinned. Then they each took a long draw of their pints.

“You bottled this ten days ago,” Rucksack said. “And since you did the boil on your stove, there’s some caramelization.” He took a smaller sip, moving it around his palate before swallowing. “But you anticipated that and compensated by adding more hops to increase the bitterness.”

“Is that all you notice?” Zara asked.

“The New Galway Gold hops have been less bitter this year,” Rucksack replied. “All that damn rain in Ireland. Ah, o’ course. So you also bumped up the roasted barley and used a hotter roast,” he added. “That was risky. Easily could have come out too astringent, out of balance.”

It’s like he was there with us, Branwen thought. It’s like he’s reading my notes.

“But it didn’t,” Rucksack continued, and Zara’s eyes brightened as he said, “Because you lowered the temperature while steeping the malted barley, to enhance the sweetness of the sugars being drawn out!”

They all clinked glasses and drank more stout. “It’s been ages since I could talk that level o’ detail,” Rucksack said. “Thank you.”

“Same to you,” Zara replied. “I’m… impressed. You really know your beer.”

“I didn’t know we had a brother,” Branwen said, nudging her sister.

“Oh, saying I was long lost would be putting it mildly,” Rucksack said.

“You’re not going to hit on us, are you?” Zara asked. “Because to put it mildly, you’re wasting your time.”

“Thank goodness,” Rucksack replied. “For a moment I thought you were going to hit on me.” He drank more of his pint, which was now almost empty. Then he stared at a spot over Zara’s head, then Branwen’s, almost as if he were reading something?

“You two really know your stuff,” Rucksack said. “This homebrew is amazing… but it’s not a clone o’ GPS.”

The smile fell off Zara’s face. Branwen’s breath paused.

“It’s the closest I’ve ever encountered,” Rucksack continued. “It’s a damn sight better than the swill passing off for it here tonight. It’s certainly making me feel more myself. But it doesn’t have the secret.”

“So we’ve kind of made GPS,” said Branwen, “only not GPS as it’s supposed to be, but as it is right now.”

“I suppose you could put it that way,” said Rucksack.

“How are we supposed to figure out what na Grúdairí themselves don’t know anymore?” Branwen asked. “That magic, that secret—it’s gone.”

Zara snorted.

Branwen stared at her sister. Before she knew it she said, “You don’t believe in the secret, but something can be real without anyone else believing it. Existence is truth, and it doesn’t give a damn about being believed in. You don’t believe in the secret, that’s your deal, but don’t mock me for what I think.”

Eyes wide, Zara sat back and said nothing.

Rucksack stared from one sister to the other. Again he stared above their heads. Then he was silent, as if he had traveled deep inside his self, into some private world that even from the outside felt as big as the universe. “You said you had studied the lore o’ GPS,” he said slowly. “What have you learned about what it was, and what it is now?”

“For eons there has been the beer,” said Branwen, “and some have said that without the beer the eons wouldn’t have happened. Wherever there has been joy or grief, a hard day or a good day, a lonely drink or a lively party, there has been Galway Pradesh Stout. All around the world, from taps and bottles, the beer has poured. No beer has been as popular or long lived as GPS.”

“Exactly. Today should be like any other day,” replied Rucksack. “People went to the pub after work. Couples opened bottles at dinner. Friends clinked glasses as they watched the match. Some savored their last pint, some their first. Solitary drinkers ordered another GPS, thick and black, with a pillowy-white head like a snowdrift. The stout brings it all into focus, the boldness o’ life, the black and white, the grays and bright colors. It’s said that a pint o’ GPS can make the world make sense, if only for a while. So dry and bitter on the tongue, GPS snaps people back to life, but what really brings them back, time after time and pint after pint, is what’s hidden inside.”

Branwen nodded. “Something was different that day. The beer wasn’t right, but that wasn’t all of it. People realized the beer hadn’t been right for a while.”

“That’s exactly the thing,” said Rucksack, “and it’s been happening all over the world.”

“Where have you been to notice?” Branwen asked.

“Last place I stayed a while was India. I had to deal with some nasty business, but that’s another story for another time. I just got to England a couple o’ days ago. Crossing Asia and Europe I kept encountering dodgy pints, and I realized there was more afoot than dirty lines or a keg left in the sun.”

“And now you’re really noticing that something is wrong with GPS,” Branwen said. “Because this is where First Call Brewing is headquartered?”

“That’s it in one,” Rucksack said. “All this time, people have turned to GPS because it brings them a sense o’ the universe filling them up. It gives a moment when the world makes sense. That moment hasn’t been happening for a while, but people are malleable, forgiving, forgetful. They ignored it, figured it must be them. But it’s happened too many times, and what’s more, the beer is getting worse. Something’s wrong with GPS, and people know it now. But more than that. Something’s rotten in the brewery o’ London. I’ve tried and tried over the years to appeal to the brewmaster. His second-in-command, Gabsir, and I go way back, though not necessarily as best mates. They don’t want my help.”

Zara sat forward. “Because of Guru Deep, I bet.” Bitterness cut through her voice. “Branwen and I can’t stand him.”

Rucksack smiled a thin, sharp smile. “That makes three o’ us. I’m going to sort this out. From the brew kettles o’ First Call, all the way up to Guru Deep’s office at the top o’ the feckin Lotus if I have to.”

“But Deep Inc. took over First Call decades ago,” Branwen said. “What with Galway being destroyed in The Blast, First Call was weakened, had lots of problems, and eventually Deep Inc. took advantage of that. Brewmaster Samara was still in charge when it happened, before she passed leadership to the current brewmaster, Arthur Celbridge. Now Deep Inc. owns two breweries. First Call makes Galway Pradesh Stout, and Deep Brewing brews Deep’s Special Lager. Are you thinking Guru Deep is trying to do something to First Call and GPS?”

“Yes,” said Rucksack, “because it will do what he seeks: hurt me and hurt the world.” A darkness had fallen over Rucksack’s eyes. Long-simmering hostility radiated from him like heat from a boiling brew pot.

“Sounds like you two go way back,” said Zara.

“I’m a thorn he can never quite get out o’ his side, though I try harder.” Rucksack grinned. “I’ve been opposing Deep Inc. since the company’s early days, back when it was run by his grandfather. I’ve always considered the Deeps a pack o’ shysters at best.”

“Deep Inc. began about fifty years after The Blast,” said Branwen, glaring at him. “You look pretty young for a hundred and thirty.”

“It’s not nice to ask a fella his age,” replied Rucksack. “Deep Inc. was mostly fake medical cures then, and tent-revival sermons about the illusion of the world, but always accompanied by the reality o’ the collection plate.” Finishing his pint, Rucksack leaned forward. The clamminess had left his skin and the sweat had dried. His eyes were clear. Behind the darkness, a fire burned. “A few decades ago, Guru Deep came up in the company, doing inspirational talks and self-help books, got famous for his ‘Find Your Third Eye In Half The Time!’ feel-good enlightentainment shite. Today he’s got that, the breweries, his travel guidebooks, and various complicated financial dealings. Over the past few decades he’s built a global empire. Now we’re at a culmination. I’d bet a year’s pints that Guru Deep took over First Call precisely so he could eventually destroy the brewery and the beer.”

“He’s just a big business blowhard,” said Zara.

“Some say Guru Deep is ridiculous, a sparkling nothing with a big smile and a bright suit,” said Rucksack, lowering his voice. He looked over his shoulder and scanned the pub, then turned back to the sisters. “He’s a showman for sure. But make no mistake. He does far more than all the things we just said. For months I’ve been disrupting Guru Deep’s operations. At three in particular—in Marrakech, Mexico City, and Moscow—I saw things that made me wish I was having a nightmare: experiment pits. I shut them down, but the people there… those who had survived… I did what I could, but I can only hope they’ll find a way to live again without screaming. Guru Deep had huge labs where shady and discredited scientists were using people as lab rats. It’s not fake cures anymore. He’s experimenting with reality. Poking at it. Trying to tear it. And seeing what happens to people when you do.”

The sisters leaned back. The air in the pub and the blood in Branwen’s veins felt cold. “Why… Why would he do that?”

“Some people want to rule the world,” said Rucksack. “Guru Deep considers that a lack o’ ambition. He has his sights set far higher. There are those who say the world is an illusion, the dream o’ a sleeping god.”

“That would figure,” said Zara. “Let me guess: Guru Deep doesn’t want to wake the god. He wants to take its place.”

Rucksack nodded. “He hides it well, but everything he does conceals his true self and his true purpose. Guru Deep is one o’ the most dangerous people in the world. Whatever his ultimate plans are, he’s setting them in motion.”

“What can you do about it?” Branwen asked.

“Luckily,” said Rucksack with a smile, “I’m one o’ the most dangerous people in the world too.”

“Who are you, anyway?” Zara asked.

“I’m Faddah Rucksack,” he replied. “The world’s only Himalayan-Irish sage. The hero o’ old and the hero o’ now. He who flew and he who fell. He who lost and he who is trying to regain and restore. I am ten thousand years old. I am the fire o’ life, the tiger’s roar. Time and again in history, I have been the one who kept this world not only turning but thriving, saving lives and ensuring tomorrows. And I am the one who, yet again, will stand against Guru Deep.”

Branwen grinned. I’ve been searching for the secret, she thought. I think I might have found it… And now I have also found someone who can tell me I’m on the right path. She looked at her sister—and even Zara had a brightness in her eyes beyond her usual smoldering hardness and skepticism.

Rucksack’s smile fell away. “I’ve a horrible feeling that I can’t stop him though.”

“What?” said both sisters.

“You are amazing brewers,” said Rucksack, “and I believe we’re meeting for a reason. I trust you—it’s in the beer, who you are, how you make it. You know something I don’t. Something Guru Deep doesn’t. Something even na Grúdairí and the brewmaster don’t know anymore. I can’t stop Guru Deep.” He looked from Branwen to Zara and back to Branwen. “But I reckon we can.”

“How?” Zara asked.

Rucksack nodded at the briefcase. “How about I show you?”

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Irish voice with a Tibetan face: a sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

The Lotus and the Barley, a Rucksack Universe travel fantasy novel by Anthony St. ClairWe’re almost to the end of our sneak peek adventures with THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY. Here’s today’s.

THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY comes out June 16. Preorder today from:

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by Anthony St. Clair

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THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

Sneak Peek: Irish voice with a Tibetan face

TAKING HIS BRIEFCASE, the man got up and Jade the bartender followed. When she came out from behind the bar, the two walked side by side, and she carried an empty pint glass. They seemed to know and respect each other, yet a wariness lay between them. As they approached, Branwen thought she heard the bartender say “ghost,” and the man shook his head and tapped the top of his skull. The bartender only shrugged in reply, as if acknowledging good effort to avoid saying it wasn’t quite enough.

“Good evening,” said Jade. “Zara Porter and Branwen Porter, meet my friend Faddah Rucksack. He is finding our current GPS stock a bit… disappointing.”

“You think my opinion o’ it is merely disappointed?” Rucksack’s accent clipped the “th” sound into a mere “t.”

What’s his story? Branwen thought. Irish voice with a Tibetan face. Even here you don’t come across that every day.

“I’ve drunk horse piss that tasted better than that sour swill. I’d bet my two old swords there isn’t a worse keg in all the world.”

“What a safe bet,” Jade replied, “since you don’t have those swords anymore.”

“And how I wish I could find them and get them back.” Rucksack waved his hand. “Details, details. But off the point. How in the world could you put that keg on, Jade-bloody-London?”

Jade’s elbow moved so quickly Branwen almost missed the dig into Rucksack’s ribs.

Zara stared hard at the man. Then she smiled. “I hated to tell you, Jade,” she said, “since you were so nice to let us have our homebrew tasting here. But there is something off about the GPS. It’s not just the Mirror & Phoenix, though, and we know you’re the best in the city about storage and cleaning. At least the past year, every pint of GPS we’ve had hasn’t been right. But lately, and especially today, it’s just been terrible. The balance is off. The sourness isn’t just a note; it’s a whole damn out-of-tune band. And what’s up with the bitterness? There’s hardly any lately. It’s like they’re not getting enough hops for the brew.”

“I’ll talk to my supplier,” Jade said, coolness in her dark eyes. “In the meantime, I thought if my beer was unacceptable, Rucksack might be interested in your homebrew.”

Rucksack grimaced. “Now, come on, Jade, you know I only drink GPS.”

“Not at the moment you don’t,” Jade replied. “Though if you’re going to be so damn stroppy, I suppose I could always give you a Deep’s Special Lager on the house. Not like you pay for anything anyway.”

“The source o’ my credit always compensates you,” Rucksack replied. “Just because I have drunk horse piss doesn’t mean I want to repeat the experience.”

Zara laughed. “That would be preferable. At least horse piss would taste like something. Deep’s Special Lager is like eating snow. About all you can say for it is it’s cold.”

Rucksack stared hard at the sisters, then he smiled too. “All right, all right, Jade,” he said. “You’re trying to do me a kindness. Please forgive my rudeness. I’m not exactly at my best right now.”

For a moment Branwen thought Jade was going to smile. “Given the circumstances,” Jade replied, “I’ll give you a pass. But remember, you even being here is still… tentative, as far as The Management goes.” Branwen could hear the capital letters, as well as a lot unsaid in the silence that followed. “No one has forgotten Hong Kong,” Jade added. “And what just happened in India will be remembered for many years to come.”

“As, I hope, will be the fact that there continue to be years to come,” replied Rucksack. “But I promise I’ll be a nice lad.”

Jade chuckled. The lights of the pub danced on the dark skin of her high cheekbones. “Sure. And I’ll just go fall off the beer truck.”

“And what do you have to do with this beer?” Rucksack asked.

Jade smiled. “It’s all the sisters,” she replied. “It’s out of my influence.”

Rucksack said nothing, but his eyes widened. He and Jade stepped back as some men came to the table. “Ah,” Zara said, “your timing is perfect. We were just closing up.”

Branwen looked at her sister. “I thought we were—”

Zara poked her in the ribs, then handed over homebrew samples.

Branwen glanced back at Jade and Rucksack, who were talking about something, but too low for Branwen to hear anything except Rucksack saying he would leave the briefcase with her later. Then Jade and Rucksack stared hard at each other, as if reading something.

Zara and I have been coming to the Mirror & Phoenix for years. I’ve never seen Jade act like this before. Who is this guy?

Then Jade went back to the bar, and Rucksack walked up to the table. Closer to the man in black now, Branwen could see the pain and weariness in his face, an agony in the brown-black eyes like a dying fire begging for more fuel. “Are you okay?” Branwen asked.

“You’re kind to ask,” Rucksack replied, pulling up a chair, sitting down, and setting the briefcase on the table. “Suffice to say that I’ve had a rather busy day and it took more out o’ me than I expected.” He smiled. “Sometimes I forget I’m not as young as I was. That… sometimes things are different.”

Zara removed the empty sample cups and pulled off the tablecloth, revealing an ordinary pub table. “Well, it’s not GPS,” Zara said, “but we think it’s pretty darn close.” She picked up the empty glass Jade had left. Reaching under the table, Zara pulled out a large plain brown glass bottle and another empty pint glass. “The little keg is empty. Fresh one for you, sir.” She popped the cap and a hiss made Rucksack smile. Then Zara began to pour stout into both glasses.

“You pour it like GPS,” Rucksack said.

Branwen nodded. “My sister and I clone it at home.”

“That’s quite a challenge. I’ve encountered, shall we say, attempts at it, both commercial cons and homebrew hopefuls. No one has ever been able to clone GPS.”

Zara paused to let the initial pour settle. “And how would you know that?”

“GPS is a… passion of mine.” Rucksack nodded his approval at her pour.

“There’s a line between passion and obsession,” said Zara. “When it comes to GPS, which side are you on?”

“Never was much for lines,” Rucksack replied. “I’ve had my share o’ other beers, for what they’re worth, which combined doesn’t add up to one perfect pint o’ GPS. If you name a pub anywhere in the world, I can tell you how the GPS tastes there. Who pours it best, who rushes, who needs to clean their lines. I can tell you which brewery the keg came from. I’ve drunk GPS in just about every place in this world there is to drink it, for longer years that you’d care to count. It’s been quite a while since I was in London, and I’ve had a… difficult day. Let’s just say you have no idea how ready I am for that pint.”

“It’s almost ready,” Zara replied, topping up the pints. “You should know the pour can’t be rushed.”

Rucksack smiled, but he still trembled. “GPS has a secret,” he said, “something special that makes it unlike any other beer. Trouble is, no one knows.”

Zara let the full glasses settle again as the rich foamy head collected on top. “Don’t get all mythical and mystical on me. There is no secret to GPS. We just make damn good homebrew, and First Call makes GPS. They’re the biggest brewery in the world, and they know what they’re doing. Brewing GPS is all just impeccable ingredients, perfectly designed and fabricated equipment, and flawless brewing technique. That’s all you need to make a perfect GPS.”

“The First Brewer invented GPS thousands of years ago,” said Branwen, glaring at her sister. “There’s lots no one knows, but we’ve learned as much of the lore as we could. It’s hard to separate fact from myth.”

“That line is far blurrier than most people realize,” said Rucksack.

“So you think you know GPS?” Zara asked.

Rucksack nodded.

Zara handed over one pint of homebrew and raised her own. “Okay,” she said, “then tell me about this beer.”

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The sisters, the bartender & the beer: a sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

The Lotus and the Barley, a Rucksack Universe travel fantasy novel by Anthony St. ClairOnly a few more sneak peeks to go! THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY comes out June 16. Preorder today from:

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The Lotus and the Barley

by Anthony St. Clair

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THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

Sneak Peek: The sisters, the bartender & the beer

WHILE HER SISTER ZARA handed another small cup of beer across the small table to the old man in gray, Branwen watched a trembling man in black enter the Mirror & Phoenix and take a seat at the bar. A small briefcase, black with chromed steel edges and corners, clattered when he set it on the polished mahogany. He wiped sweat from his bald head. His skin was brown as Tibetan dirt, but nonetheless he looked pale, clammy, like a thin shell left after the insides had been hollowed out.

“I’d drink this every day,” said a woman Zara had given beer to earlier. “Na Grúdairí must be so proud.” She carefully pronounced the Irish word for “beer brewers” as “gruh-duh-ree.”

From their little table at the far end of the pub, Branwen could feel the tightness in the air around her sister, like the moment after a lightning strike before the forest catches fire. Zara’s short purple-and-yellow hair didn’t stand on end and her black combat-booted legs didn’t lash out in one of her vicious kicks or knee strikes, but her dark brown eyes, the same as Branwen’s, widened. The two women had been enjoying pints at this pub for as long as they could legally drink, but drinking those pints wasn’t what Zara ultimately wanted. The bartender, Jade London, had reminded Zara of that as they set up their homebrew sample table that evening. The people were just trying beer, Jade had said, not making pronouncements on Zara’s personal destiny.

Zara stared at the woman and said nothing, only gave a thin smile as the woman disappeared into the crowd that filled the pub. “I’m going to pour more samples,” she said, her face a little pale as she leaned over to move the white tablecloth and pull tasting cups from a box under the table. She set a cup under the brass spout of a squat black cylinder on the table. Brass piping gleamed in the pub lights. A thin glass vial running up the side told Branwen the pressurized miniature keg was getting low, but they could still pour a few more samples. Zara turned a four-point black handle above the brass spout, and dark beer flowed into the tasting cup, foaming as it landed.

Branwen tucked a wayward lock of black hair behind her ear. She tried not to stare at Jade the bartender, but it was always hard to look away. Jade was medium height, slender yet solid—Branwen had seen what one punch could do to a man twice as tall and three times as broad. Jade’s rich dark brown skin gleamed beneath the overhead lights. Her hair was cropped close, except for a long section near her forehead that flowed down her cheek to her jawline.

Wearing her usual white button-down shirt, black pants, and a blue bow tie, Jade the bartender didn’t take the man in black’s order, but moments later she set a pint of Galway Pradesh Stout in front of him, as if she had been expecting him. The black beer was the night sky poured into a pint glass; the thick white foam on top always made Branwen think of new snow. Relief passed over the man’s face. The tension in his body eased. Beer slopped on the bar as his shaking right hand lifted the pint. Even from where she sat, at her and Zara’s white covered table at the end of the pub, she could see that his left hand, clad in a black leather glove, was smaller than his right.

The man took a long, deep swallow of the stout. For eons Galway Pradesh Stout had been the world’s most popular beer. Today GPS was brewed on every continent except Antarctica—though many said it was drunk enough there to compensate.

For a moment he paused. Branwen knew he was savoring the stout’s smoothness, the interplay of roasted barley with a sharp bitterness of hops, underlaid by a tang that was a counterpoint to both flavors yet also a connecting thread. Branwen recognized the moment well, given all the times she and her sister had spent tasting GPS, examining every nuance of flavor, texture, aroma, and finish.

Sometimes I wonder if we should get some sort of best customer status, Branwen thought. But it’s all for one purpose, one goal—

A horizontal fountain of beer blasted out of the man’s mouth and showered the bar below.

Jade the bartender went over. Branwen couldn’t hear their words, but she had an idea of what was going on.

I thought Zara and I were the only ones who’d noticed.

After a heated exchange, Jade did something Branwen did not expect. She took away the pint. Then Jade the bartender pointed at the sisters.

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The man in black: a sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

The Lotus and the Barley, a Rucksack Universe travel fantasy novel by Anthony St. ClairIt’s time for today’s sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY!

THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY comes out June 16. Preorder today from:

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The book will also be available in trade paperback. Through June 11, you can enter for a chance to win 1 of 10 signed copies! (US only)

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The Lotus and the Barley by Anthony St. Clair

The Lotus and the Barley

by Anthony St. Clair

Giveaway ends June 11, 2016.

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Enter Giveaway

Tune in tomorrow for another sneak peek!

THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

Sneak Peek: The man in black

THE MAN IN BLACK ran across the plaza, and the guards followed. After all, that’s what guards do. Especially if they want to continue doing things like receiving paychecks and having a pulse.

Outside the massive building, the clanging of the alarms faded in the distance, dominated by the sounds of a vibrant city at night, and stopped cold by glass that, it was rumored, could stand up to a grenade blast. Now the sounds of pounding feet and fast breathing were all that could be heard. That, and the usual cries of things like, “Stop, Faddah Rucksack, stop!” and “We will shoot!” and “Who the hell would’ve thought he could run so fast?”

The first cry made Rucksack chuckle. Did anyone ever follow such ridiculous commands?

The second cry was something he had known going in, but it still concerned him. Ever since the incident in Hong Kong years back—the memory still made Rucksack shudder—the world had decided it was tired of guns. It was rare you saw firearms, other than with specialized military units or certain hunters. But he couldn’t allow himself the luxury of surprise. Of course Guru Deep’s guards would be armed. Rucksack thought of the small briefcase he held by the handle in his gloved left hand. Given what he’d taken, he was surprised they weren’t shooting already.

At least he could find comfort and humor in the third remark. Despite the humid summer evening making sweat bead on his bald brown head and dampen his black silk clothes, Rucksack couldn’t help but smile. Not that he liked running, but you didn’t survive as long as he had without being able to leg it faster than the people trying to kill you. Rucksack believed the world was best experienced at a rambling walking pace, though briskness was acceptable if you found yourself late for happy hour. But at his age it was nice to know he could still outpace the young guards, despite how they kept fit both by Guru Deep’s PEFFER program, the Personal Everyday Fulfilling Fitness & Empowerment Regimen, and a soul-deep fear of what would happen if their physical conditioning was found not to be up to snuff.

He couldn’t let such thoughts distract him though. The smile faded to a line as firm as the horizon. The timing now was everything, and if it was off even by a few seconds…

Rucksack ran faster.

The Maya Plaza fanned out from the Lotus in all directions. In the daytime the park was serene and lovely, a bright public square with a dark private heart. Now the shrubs and trees were black. He’d planned the escape route to keep well away from the lighted paths, but now the trees were working against him. Dark branches snagged at Rucksack’s clothes, plucking at the knotwork buttons that ran down the center of his long untucked black shirt, scraping his neck above the mandarin collar, and pressing like tripwires over his shins where long ties wrapped the bottoms of his pants for extra silence.

The shouting voices were closer.

He ducked around a tree, pausing a moment to evaluate where the guards were. By now they were converging from all sides, with some surely heading to the edge of the park to trap him inside. But if he made one slight change to his course…

Rucksack started running again, leaping a row of shrubbery and dodging more trees.

A high root grabbed the toe of his boot.

Instead of resisting the change, Rucksack followed the new direction. He launched forward, tucking his body and holding the briefcase more tightly.

He winced. The damn left hand had been all but useless ever since The Blast. He would have preferred to hold the briefcase in his other hand, but he had to keep the right free, no matter what.

Soft grass cushioned his back as he somersaulted. With the momentum came a memory, an old power, an old trick that had always worked well. Momentum to energy, energy to force. The focus was everything, and he focused now, pulling the energy from the grass, the ground, and his body, compressing it, targeting it. When his feet hit the ground, as he stood from the roll, he unleashed the force inside. A tremor like an earthquake passed through the park. Men yelled. Some stumbled and fell.

Rucksack grinned. It was almost like the old days. More importantly, it bought him time—but he knew he’d pay for it later. Assuming there was a later.

He passed through the last row of trees. Beyond the green of the Maya Plaza, the steel, glass, and concrete of London surrounded the park. Night muted the colors, but come dawn the reds and oranges, the blues and greens of the city’s bright buildings would make the park seem dim and monochrome, as if it should try harder to enjoy itself.

The voices of the guards were so near now.

Rucksack listened more closely.

So was another sound—a low, deep rumble—the difference between escape and capture, or worse.

There was still time.

The first shot rang out. Behind him, bark exploded.

The guards closed in on him. Fifteen men, all taller and broader than he was. All with guns out. It had been decades since Rucksack had seen one, let alone fifteen.

Rucksack’s boots hit the sidewalk that ringed the Maya Plaza. A few meters of concrete were now all that separated him from escape. At the far edge of the sidewalk, a low metal railing marked the edge of one of London’s busiest roads.

The guards still yelled. Another shot ruptured the air. This one passed by his shoulder blades, ending in a loud ping-bop when it hit the lamppost nearby.

But Rucksack ignored the guards and the guns. He focused only on the sound, focused only on making the timing, the angle, the momentum just right. The approach, the moment, had to be perfect. He was nearly there, and from the sound, so was it.

Then, from behind a mailbox, a sixteenth man stood and blocked Rucksack’s path. He stood taller and broader than the others. Rucksack couldn’t see his face, only a smile, only a motion that could be anything—

The tremor had been taxing. Using so much energy now was risky, potentially too risky. But it was the only thing he could do if he wanted to escape.

He swung. His left hand roared with agony as the metal briefcase hit the man’s outstretched hand. Something clattered on the pavement, out of sight, but Rucksack kept hold of the briefcase. It was still latched. Everything depended on what was inside. But he was out of time. He didn’t stop, couldn’t stop—it was everything or nothing. Rucksack hadn’t survived what he had survived only to die now, hadn’t regained what he had lost just to lose it all now, on a dark sidewalk south of the River Thames, to some patsy guard who had no idea what he was really doing or what it really meant for him, or for London, or, for that matter, all the world—perhaps all of existence itself.

Rucksack’s swinging hand led his body into a spiral. As he turned he planted his left foot. He spun his body and his right leg rose, bent—and then one kick showed the sixteen men with guns what real firepower was.

The guard flew backward, but the power behind the kick had only begun to strike. As Rucksack lowered his foot to the ground, a flat smacking sound rolled past his ears as the man bounced off the low metal railing. But the sound was more than sound.

Behind him, guns clattered on pavement as the shockwave made the other fifteen guards double over or stumble back. The guard at the railing fell to his knees and his forehead thudded on the pavement. Rucksack ran forward. The other guards recovered quickly, some running toward him while others scrabbled in the shadows for their weapons. Men lunged. A hand slid off his shoulder. Fingernails grazed his wrist.

But that could not matter. He listened to the rumble again. It was here.

One guard’s fingertips glanced off a boot and smacked the concrete. One foot braced on the back of the hunched-over guard, Rucksack’s brown-black eyes winced at the blinding gaze that stared into his very soul. The railing clanged under the next step.

With a roar, Rucksack leaped toward a red wall.

Like a charging tiger, the terrible sound paused all hearts and breath. Then Rucksack was in midair, hanging over the pavement, flying toward a street teeming with speeding traffic.

The driver of the bright-red double-decker bus shifted gears and sped up, aiming to beat the stoplight before it changed. The engine’s rumbling was the sweetest sound Rucksack had ever heard. He reached out his right hand, grabbed the handrail just inside the open doorway at the back of the bus, and stepped on as lightly as a sunbeam, swinging the briefcase to his side.

The guards stood open-mouthed and watched the bus rumble away.

Grinning, Rucksack waved to them until the Maya Plaza and the Lotus were out of sight at last.

Then, unable to stand anymore, he collapsed on a seat and began to shake.

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The Lotus and the Barley by Anthony St. Clair

The Lotus and the Barley

by Anthony St. Clair

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Hi.

Anthony St. Clair - Travel Fantasy Author / Craft Beer Writer / Business Copywriter
Author and copywriter Anthony St. Clair has specialized in online content since 2000, blogged since 2004 and is the author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series.

FREE Sample

Check out this free sample of FOREVER THE ROAD

Anthony's third book, FOREVER THE ROAD, is a Best Books 2015 Fantasy pick from Library Journal's SELF-e, and a 2015 Oregon Book Award nominee.

Download your free sample to find out why Nth Degree's reviewer said this "high-stakes story, told with wit and compassion," left him "completely gobsmacked."

Rucksack Universe

Travel fantasy tales
of wit, adventure & beer

Forever the Road by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novel - learn more and buy now

Home Sweet Road by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novella - learn more and buy now

The Martini of Destiny by Anthony St. Clair, a Rucksack Universe Fantasy Novella - learn more and buy now

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