What I’m doing now, August 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…

Going going going.

Coming up on 2 months since the launch of The Lotus and the Barley, it’s been a busier time than ever at my Author World HQ. Readers have been telling me it’s the best Rucksack Universe story yet, so that’s quite encouraging!

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.

Outlining Roadsong

What am I working on? Oh, ya know, just outlining the next #rucksackuniverse #adventure. #authorlife #indieauthor #wip

A photo posted by Anthony St. Clair (@rucksackpress) on

Now that The Lotus and the Barley is out, I’m working on the next book in the Rucksack Universe. Roadsong will be a prequel of sorts, a good entry point to people who want a more solid starting point in the series.

I’ve been working on different facets of outlining and planning, and here are a few things from behind the scenes:

Roadsong in one line

A wounded hero wakes. A wanderer falls between worlds. A growing shadow will cover all in darkness.

Ominous enough fer ya?

Current summary

Follow the black road.

From the west coast of Ireland to England’s Black Cliffs of Dover, the mile-wide line of ash is known as the black road. In the hundred years since The Blast scarred the world, none have traveled this road… until now. A wounded hero, a wanderer who fell between worlds, and a mysterious sage undertake a quest: for home, for purpose, for a light to stop the shadow covering the world. Pursued by a hunter of strange souls, the trio must overcome many trials—and their own mistakes—if they are to find answers to their questions… and if they are to survive the unwelcome surprise that also awaits at the end of the road.

Part of my process is also coming up with about 20 words to sum up the journey for each main character. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • A wanderer falls to a different world and goes on a quest to get back home—then something changes.
  • A fallen hero confronts his worst failure, but the challenges of the heart soon outweigh the dangers of a quest.
  • When the light of Ireland senses a growing shadow, she must prepare a fallen hero to face new challenges.
  • Find the key that will make the universe bleed.
  • The shadow covering the world will stop at nothing to realize a terrible purpose.

Bwah-ha-ha-ha.

Traveling & camping

The past few weeks have had lots of travels. At the end of July, my family and I visited friends in Portland and Seattle. The following weekend we went camping with some of our best friends (and we’re about to do a big group camping trip too).

Celebrating 5 years of being a full-time author and professional writer

And thank you for that. Readers. Editors. Fans. All of you make it possible for me to live a cool life doing what I love, and getting paid for it to boot. Thank you thank you thank you.

Writing about beer and more

To-date for 2016, I’ve filed 44 articles, and just about all of those are already published (a few are over the next couple of months). Here are some recent published articles:

Giving away books

In the midst of my 5-year business anniversary, I’m doing various giveaways and such. Here’s one going right now (thru Aug. 20):

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Martini of Destiny by Anthony St. Clair

The Martini of Destiny

by Anthony St. Clair

Giveaway ends August 20, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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.

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




Read Local! Book launch party Aug. 25, 2016, Tsunami Books, Eugene

Read Local - 4-author book launch party, Aug. 25, Tsunami Books, Eugene, OR

4 books… 4 authors… 1 party!

Celebrate the release of 4 books from 4 local authors:

There’s no obligation to buy books, we just want to pack one of Eugene’s best independent bookstores with support! There will also be…

  • Readings
  • Live music from Willamette String Collective
  • Giveaways
  • Author Q&A
  • Refreshments and more!

Cost: Free

Where: Tsunami Books,

2585 Willamette St, Eugene, OR

When: Thursday, August 25, 6:30–8:30 p.m.

See you there and spread the word!

Tell us you’re going and tell your friends




Night Attack and Scott Sigler praise the Rucksack Universe

One of my readers, known as Bishma in most spots online, got me and the Rucksack Universe a mention on Night Attack… while they were chatting with bestselling author Scott Sigler.

I gotta admit, I was terrified when I first pulled up this video… but here’s what they had to say:

“This is my sweet spot. If this gentleman can write multiple books in a series and you can jump into any book at any point in the series and not be confused or have to go back and re-read, that’s a pretty stellar accomplishment right there. That’s a ballsy choice. That’s impressive…. And an indie author with GOOD cover art? You ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie there.”

Wow. Thanks guys!

You can find Scott Sigler and his books here.

Want to check out Night Attack? Here’s their website and YouTube channel.

By the way

If you’re curious about my Rucksack Universe series, right now I’m celebrating 5 years of being a full-time author and professional writer. I just kicked off a Goodreads Giveaway of 5 copies of Forever the Road:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Forever the Road by Anthony St. Clair

Forever the Road

by Anthony St. Clair

Giveaway ends August 06, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway




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.

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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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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!




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.

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