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After the Alarm: a sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

The Lotus and the Barley, a Rucksack Universe travel fantasy novel by Anthony St. ClairWant a sneak peek of THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY? Over the next few days I’m pulling back the cover so you can have an exclusive taste of the 4th Rucksack Universe adventure.

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

Buy now from

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 another sneak peek!


Sneak Peek: After the Alarm

NO ONE KNEW ABOUT the problem until the alarm rang, but Feckniss imagined the man in the orange suit at the top of the world was the only one who smiled about it.

From Feckniss’s cubicle much lower down the world on the third floor of the Lotus, the phone line clicked, then droned. Guru Deep had ended the conference call. A few minutes later, Feckniss’s gray-suited manager Blanders stepped into the cubicle. He stood next to the “ILLUSION IS REALITY” poster, which some said was the true mission statement of Deep Inc.

“What’s going on, sir?” Feckniss knew they could speak freely. At this late hour, no one else was in the Lotus except for Blanders, the assistant Nia Fox, and Guru Deep himself, the man in the orange suit at the top of the Lotus, London’s highest skyscraper and currently the world’s tallest building. Despite the third floor being empty, for a moment Feckniss thought he heard a snicker, brief yet packed with cruelty and condescension. Then he thought of Guru Deep, and Feckniss shuddered with awe and relief.

Guru Deep hadn’t said a word during the briefing call. He never did, but anytime Feckniss and Blanders were in a meeting, the line was open to Guru Deep’s office. Only Blanders and Feckniss did the talking, but Guru Deep’s silences resounded more than any words, a presence like a stalking tiger or a thunderhead filling the horizon. But Feckniss could imagine him standing there: Guru Deep. The Great Leader, He Whose Third Eye Saw All The World That Was And Could Be, was the President and CEO of Deep Inc. Dealing in finance, self-help seminars, travel guidebooks, breweries, and other initiatives—that Blanders hinted at but never explained—over the last few decades Deep Inc. had become of the world’s largest and most powerful companies.

On this call too Feckniss could feel the brilliant gravity of the leader’s presence as they discussed the enemy’s latest disruptions—and their effects on quarterly profits—of less-than-public Deep Inc. operations in Marrakech, Mexico City, and Moscow. “Guru Deep sees all and hears all,” Blanders said, “even if you don’t see or hear him. Guru knows. These developments trouble him. The enemy hasn’t been such a problem for Guru Deep since Kyoto, and that was decades ago.”

“What happened there?”

“At the rate you’re progressing,” said Blanders, “perhaps you’ll get to visit his office someday and ask him about the two curved swords behind his desk. It is quite a story.”

Feckniss could picture it as clearly as if he were beside the Great Leader himself. Guru Deep would be staring out over the dark London night from the north window, forty-two stories above the city that had rebuilt itself after being burned to the ground by The Blast a hundred and thirty years ago. The Lotus had recently opened as the bright, brand-new, orange glass-and-steel world headquarters of Deep Inc. In the black of the evening, Guru Deep’s trademark orange suit, a deep saffron like the flag of India, would shine like the sun against his brown skin and eyes. And there, somewhere near his massive desk, where he led his empire, two curved swords would shimmer with the power of the story they had to tell.

Feckniss shuddered at the mere idea of being there, in that office, with the man whose empire spanned businesses and industries around the globe. And one of those industries, what was about to happen, had been the subject of their call—

“Of course I can’t say for certain,” Blanders said, his voice flat as a coffin bottom and returning Feckniss’s mind to the third floor. The pale taut skin over his skull always reminded Feckniss of a balloon about to pop. Smoothing the impeccable gray wool of his lapel, Blanders smiled, which meant the corners of his mouth briefly twitched upward, then fell back down as if embarrassed to be caught trying. “But I believe we can safely surmise that the enemy has taken it.”

“Just as Guru Deep expected,” Feckniss replied. “Though wasn’t the Lotus designed to keep out that individual?”

Again the near smile. Blanders tapped the side of his nose. “Guru knows. Though I’m sure he’ll have Ms. Fox order a full security audit to find and remedy whatever lapse or flaw led to this breach. Damn new building and new protocols—of course the enemy managed to find some weakness, no matter how small, that he could exploit.”

Feckniss nodded. “Of course. We are so close now. Guru Deep knew the enemy would come, didn’t he?” Again the brief grin. “I see. Guru Deep wanted him to come. Will it affect the plans? Will it disrupt our progress toward Operation—”

“Only in ensuring our success,” Blanders replied. “All endeavors are easier when your enemies complete your work for you.”

“Does he know the secret?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Blanders said. “What we have long ago set in motion, his actions cannot stop. All that matters, Feckniss, is that through our teamwork and Guru Deep’s guidance, the time has come. Tomorrow proceeds as planned.”

“It will be no more?”

This time the smile remained. Bloodless lips curved into an upside-down scythe. “Its end,” he said, “is only the beginning.”

Want more?

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

Buy now from

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

Tune in tomorrow for another sneak peek!

Release Date for New Rucksack Universe Travel Fantasy Novel

Available June 16, 2016: THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY

Pre-order THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY, available June 16

Buy now from
Get it on iBooks
Buy now from Kobo

This is a special day at St. Clair World HQ. It’s my wife’s birthday (happy birthday, my love!). And, it’s also 10 years ago to the day that we found our house. In 2006, when we first saw the room that is now my office, it was covered in horrid wallpaper and 70s shag carpet that was, I swear, the same color red as Elmo from Sesame Street.

Today is special for another reason: I’m announcing when my fourth book, THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY, will be available!

Before we get to that, some of you may be coming to the Rucksack Universe for the first time. Just to set the stage, the Rucksack Universe is an ongoing fantasy series of globetrotting intrigue, myth, and adventure, set in an alternate version of our world. It has a diverse cast with stories set all over the globe, with action that ranges from global peril to the deeply personal. There are travelers, lots of beer, an evil company, bartenders who influence the course of all existence, and, above all, Faddah Rucksack, the world’s only Himalayan-Irish sage, the wanderer of wanderers, the hero of old, the hero who fell, and the hero of now. You will get all this and more in THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY.

In a nutshell, here’s what the book is about:

In a rebuilt London, trouble is brewing.

In a world where a bottle of stout can change destinies, all Branwen Porter and her sister Zara want is to become brewers of the world’s oldest and most popular beer, Galway Pradesh Stout. But the brewmaster won’t give them a second glance, much less try their homebrew. A chance encounter with a man in black and a stolen briefcase changes everything. Zara and Branwen find themselves on a collision course with the most dangerous man in the world and his terrible plans for the beer. Two ancient enemies will renew a bitter vendetta, and the sisters will discover their new destiny—but only if they can choose between their dreams and each other.

THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY will be available worldwide in e-book and trade paperback on June 16, 2016.

Starting today, you can pre-order the e-book and it will be auto-magically sent to you the day the book comes out.

Pre-order today

The regular e-book price is US$4.99, but prior to release you can get it for the special pre-order price of $2.99. THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY is available at these major online retailers:

Buy now from
Get it on iBooks
Buy now from Kobo

If you need to catch up on the series, you can also get the other 3 books: The Martini of Destiny, Home Sweet Road, and Forever the Road, all available in e-book and trade paperback.

You can also get these 3 books direct from me at my author store. When ordering direct you also get exclusive box set savings and autographed paperbacks:

Buy now from Selz

So that’s the news! THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY will be available June 16 and you can pre-order it beginning today.

Please check it out, pre-order the e-book, and tell your friends. Thank you for being part of this journey!

What’s the first line of my next book?

As you might’ve seen, I’m now underway on my final proof and out-loud read-through of my fourth Rucksack Universe book, THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY. And if you were wondering, here’s the first line:

The Lotus and the Barley - first line

And if you want that in good ole text:

No one knew about the problem until the alarm rang, but Feckniss imagined the man in the orange suit at the top of the world was the only one who smiled about it.

Now back to work. The sooner I finish the proofing and read-through, the sooner you and I both will know when this book is coming out.

Fantasy novels: LOTUS update

Image: Dale

Image: Dale

Editing continues on the fourth Rucksack Universe book. My Chief Reader and I are almost done with the manuscript and notes. From there the text goes to my copy editor so he can fix all remaining things I have wrong. (Well, not all of them—I can only ask but so much 🙂

2 other things to tell you…

1. I’m no longer planning the release for Nov. 3.

The changes I’m making in the book are making a stronger, compelling story, but it’s also taking me longer than I planned. This is also something I can chalk up to experience: from now on, I will only set a release date once the manuscript is polished, final, and set in stone. Once LOTUS is to that point, I will tell you the new release date. Thanks for being patient with me.

2. The title!

It’s also time to retire the codename. A while back, I showed people online a list of 5 titles and asked which one they thought the most intriguing.

Across the board, in every instance, one title not only won out, it blew all the others away. I’ve decided that people’s choice title is the title of the fourth Rucksack Universe novel.

So here it is…

The next Rucksack Universe book is…


More about the book coming soon!

NEW: Get Rucksack Universe e-books from your library with Library Journal, BiblioBoard & SELF-e

A new library-focused partnership from Library Journal and Biblioboard

Get Anthony St. Clair e-books from your library with Library Journal SELF-e Select

Some good news came in to the Rucksack Press world headquarters this week. A while back I submitted all 3 of my books—The Martini of Destiny, Home Sweet Road, and Forever the Road—to a new e-book service for libraries, SELF-e, from Library Journal and BiblioBoard.

SELF-e - e-books for libraries, powered by Library JournalI love libraries, and my family and I are big supporters of our local Eugene Public Library. (We were even part of an early literacy public awareness video campaign.) Making my e-books  widely available in libraries is a big deal to me. I use my library to find books I want to buy, as well as for research for my stories. Having my e-books available for free to readers through libraries is part of giving back to the public and to the library.

My books are part of SELF-e curated collections. They’ll be featured selections shared with subscribing libraries all over the US on BiblioBoard Library. The first Library Journal SELF-e Select collections are expected to be available to libraries this month, making them available to readers nationwide.

Oregon readers and Oregon libraries looking for Oregon authors can also find my books in SELF-e’s Indie State module as a “highlighted selection.” SELF-e is also updating their GoodReads group with selections.

See you at the library!

Birthday Sale! 99¢ Martinis & Win a Book

Happy Birthday to The Martini of Destiny!

The Martini of Destiny

Two years ago this month, The Martini of Destiny came into the world. Since then the original e-book has been joined by a paperback edition, two more books, and a new cover.

Sometimes I can still hardly believe that after so many years of hand-wringing and paralysis by analysis, I published my first book.

$0.99 Martini E-books thru June 30

To celebrate Martini’s second birthday, through June 30 the e-book is only US$0.99 (usually US$2.99) at all your favorite stores, including:

My Selz author store:

Get it on iBooks

Buy now from the Amazon Kindle Store

Buy now from Kobo

Buy now from Barnes and Noble

And more. Full list here.

Win a Signed Paperback

You could also win one of 3 signed paperbacks. Enter the Goodreads Giveaway:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Martini of Destiny by Anthony St. Clair

The Martini of Destiny

by Anthony St. Clair

Giveaway ends June 30, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

Spread the word

I cannot say enough how much your support and enthusiasm means to me and how much it always will mean to me.

Please spread the word about the Rucksack Universe—tell your friends, share it on social media, review one of my books—and thank you for all your support and for reading.

May News for Rucksack Universe Fantasy Books: Lotus, Roadsong & Wet

April was a recharging month. With the rough draft of Lotus stuck in a virtual desk drawer for a few weeks, I devoted extra attention to some other articles, Rucksack Universe ideas, and other things for my writing and publishing business. It was really refreshing.

Lotus. But now it’s May, and that means it’s time to come to full focus on Lotus. Over these next few weeks I’ll be going through the manuscript to fix everything I can fix, redo, and otherwise improve, before handing it off to my Chief Reader and Beta Readers.

Wet. The fifth Rucksack Universe book, codenamed Wet, is also in progress. I’ve done some outlining on Wet, but for now that’s as much as I’m doing with that project. I can tell you this though: Wet will be the biggest, most expansive globetrotting craziness of a Rucksack Universe book that we’ve seen yet.

Roadsong. One of the things I worked on during April is a little something I’m calling Faddah Rucksack’s Roadsong. The Roadsong is going to be many things: different views of the Rucksack Universe that can be done at events, video fodder, and… a book. Roadsong will be a sort of prequel to the series, but it is going to be far, far more than that. I’ll keep telling you more as the year goes along and I develop more of the material.

Folks who attended recent events got a taste of the Roadsong, and here’s a wee taste for you too:

“Have you ever wanted to go Somewhere Else? Maybe Everywhere Else? Or at least Anywhere Else, just as long as it wasn’t here? I did. Wanted to be anywhere as long as it wasn’t where I was. In this ole world of ours, I’ve been all over here and there. Saw what was and what wasn’t. Saw how others got through the day—or didn’t. I got to know what we share that makes us one, and how we differ that makes us want to tear each other apart. But above all, I saw the cracks. In everything that seems so solid, there are cracks. Then one day… One day I got more than I bargained for. I went somewhere I definitely didn’t need a visa or a passport to visit.”

Rucksack Universe E-books Now Available from Google Play

Get it on Google Play Books

All Rucksack Universe e-books now available on Google Play!

Fan of Google Play? Now you can get all Rucksack Universe e-books from Google Play »

‘Nuff said.

Teaser Tuesday: What is the secret?


You know what sucks? When it’s 20ºF on a Sunday evening—and your heat goes kaput.

We heat our home with a pellet stove. It’s awesome and pumps out a lot of heat. That is, until it makes clunky noises and stops working. Also sucky? When your service guys are so swamped they can’t even get back to you till Tuesday morning—and that’s after playing the “my wife is about to go into labor” card.

But they rang first thing this morning, and it turned out the problem at hand was one I could actually fix. After a couple hours, a lost wingnut, some sawdust vacuuming, attempts not to swear with the toddler in the room, and realigning a chain that had come off its gears, we have fire again!

All that to say, even with cold hands, a busted stove, and a wife soon not to be pregnant, I’m still cranking along on Lotus, the fourth Rucksack Universe travel fantasy book. As I write this post, I am one scene away from the end of Act I! So far I’ve written 20,851 words, or about 80 pages. Here’s a wee teasery snippet from the past week’s rough drafts:

“Now, Feckniss,” said Blanders, “what is your assessment of this morning’s chatter?”

Feckniss began outlining his analysis. Together they conferred on the likely fallout from the announcement, and various ways the company could respond.

At ten minutes to ten, Blanders nodded. “We’re ready,” he said. “But Feckniss, you must remember something crucial. This is the end. But it’s only the beginning.”

“Of what?”

“Of everything. Of nothing.” Blanders smiled. “Guru knows.”

“Is that the secret, sir?”

Blanders shook his head.

“What is the secret?”

With a smile, Blanders leaned forward until his mouth was next to Feckniss’s ear. “It’s simple, my dear boy.” Feckniss felt the smile grow wider. “The secret is that there is no secret.”

Feckniss tried to understand or think of a reply. Blanders rose and stepped out of the cubicle. “I’ll come back after the announcement, and then we’ll debrief.” Alone, Feckniss tried to think of what his manager meant. He thought and thought, and almost had it, but then the clock struck ten. On the radio, in the office, all over the world, the voice of Guru Deep began to speak.

Lotus is the codename for the fourth Rucksack Universe travel fantasy book, coming 2015. Join the adventure with the first 3 books, available now »

Teaser Tuesday: How to Transform Sunshine into Joy

Chief Reader's purple folder

Just delivered the first half of Act I to my Chief Reader.

Yesterday I loaded pages into a purple folder and delivered the first half of Act I to my Chief Reader. Lotus is cranking along! As I dig in to the last few scenes of the first act, I’ll do my best to share things that aren’t too spoilery 🙂

Here’s a teaser from the past week’s rough drafts…

Arthur stared deep into Gabsir’s eyes, showing him a deep sadness—but something else Gabsir couldn’t yet recognize or understand. With a sigh and a shake of his head, Arthur replied, “Nothing could make this easier.”

As the brewmaster and his second walked through the brewery, a dry, thick, bitter sweetness took over the air. From Arthur’s office, you could still notice it, but the scent was weaker there, back near the accounting offices, the marketing and publicity folks, the sales offices. But through the hallways connecting the administration offices to the heart of the brewery, the scent grew stronger, becoming not so much an aroma but another state of matter: solid, liquid, gas, plasma—and brewing.

At its heart, Gabsir reflected, brewing was a practical alchemy that transformed sunshine into joy. The sun helped the barley grow, and the hearty grass could grow all over the world, in places where wheat withered, from the fields of the USA to the high valleys of Tibet. Once harvested and the grains separated out, the barley began a process called malting. First the barley was wet enough so that the seeds were tricked into germinating. Then the grains were dried, stopping the sprouting process and redirecting them from one destiny—more stalks of barley—to another: beer.

Some of the barley for GPS had an even different fate. Instead of being malted, it was roasted. Browned and blackened, the bitter notes and dark color made it the heart of GPS. But in the beer, what could have been astringent and harsh became something else: refreshing, strengthening, emboldening.

Roasted barley. It was part of the heart of GPS, Gabsir knew, but it wasn’t the secret.

The narrow hallway ended at a choice: left, right, or across. Opening on to an open space, the floor ended and down below, the heart of the brewery bustled. To either side, catwalks went around the space, gleaming white from the tile walls. But Gabsir followed his leader’s choice: the catwalk that crossed the dozens of meters between where Arthur and Gabsir now stood, and the opposite side of the space.

As they crossed, Arthur stared at the men and equipment below. Large gleaming tanks shone silver-gray and rose from the floor like mountains. The two-meter wide cylinders rose to a height of ten meters, then tapered to a point at the bottom. Flowing across, between, and all around, pipes connected the tanks and kettles like arteries and veins. Steam hissed from a pipe as a brewer adjusted a temperature setting on the mash tun, an open pot large enough to be a small swimming pot. Inside, malted and roasted barley was soaking in hot water like the world’s largest cup of tea, converting the barley’s starches into sugars that yeast could eventually eat and create alcohol. In another part of the room, Gabsir could see where the the thick, dark, sugary liquid from an earlier mash had been separated from the grains and transferred into a large pot for boiling. The transformation of barley to liquid wort, then wort to beer, was underway.

Lotus is the codename for the fourth Rucksack Universe travel fantasy book, coming 2015. Join the adventure with the first 3 books, available now »


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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