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Dark Innocence + Fierce Blessings by Rahima Warren - Book Tour + Giveaway

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DARK INNOCENCE is the story of the slave Kyr's arduous journey of healing and transformation from the evil and pain of the Soul-Drinker’s hell to redemption and love. It is a gripping, intense and yet inspiring story of mystery and intrigue, inner courage and endurance, secrets and forbidden love, set in an ancient world of blood sorcery and ritual magic.

Kyr,however, is not the usual intrepid, dragon-slaying hero of many fantasy stories. His is the hard path of the inner journey toward wholeness. Manipulated by enemy and friend alike, he struggles to recover his true essence from the darkest of ordeals, to retrieve the light of his soul from the depths of remorse, and to discover the truth of Love, as he is propelled toward his destiny by the predictions of the Star-Seer’s Prophecy.

Drawing from her extensive experience as a psychotherapist and spiritual seeker, Rahima writes with a depth of wisdom, compassion and emotional and spiritual authenticity of the inner hero in all of us.

Star-cursed, twin-souled, knowing only evil, pain and ice, the dark innocent is our salvation. -From the Star-Seer's Prophecy

Long ago an ancient, peaceful land was blessed and guided by the Goddess. Then, an all-powerful sorcerer called the Soul-Drinker conquered the land, banished the Goddess, and turned Her sacred Temple into a dark maze of suffering and evil. Keeping himself alive for six generations through orgies of human sacrifice, the Soul-Drinker has cowed the people, and is draining the very essence of life and spirit from the land.

The Circle, a dedicated group working covertly to end his horrific reign, is led by Rajani, a Warrior-Mage oath-bound to ensure that the Star-Seer's Prophecy is fulfilled. The Prophecy foretells that the only one who can destroy the Soul-Drinker, bring back the Goddess, and restore the sacred balance of the earthly and divine realms is the "twin-souled dark innocent."

But that dark innocent is an unlikely savior: Kyr, a youth born and raised as a slave of the Soul-Drinker, who blindly carries out the sorcerer's brutal commands. How can an abject slave overcome the Soul-Drinker's unbreachable sorcerous defenses? Even more impossible, how can he overcome his vicious upbringing, and become a man of courage and compassion who is willing to fulfill the demands of the Prophecy? In Book One of this trilogy: Dark Innocence, Kyr begins an astonishing and arduous journey beyond the darkness that is all he has ever known. 

Evoking a FANTASY World
by Rahima Warren

When reading a fantasy set in a different (non-historical) world or time, I find it jarring if the characters’ names are old familiar ones from our everyday reality. Why would people in a strange time/place have names like Steven or Julia? Also, why would they use the same words to refer to time or distance that we do? Convenient for the writer perhaps, but too familiar for me as a reader.
In my fantasy trilogy, The Star-Seer’s Prophecy, I tried to evoke a different world in subtle ways. For example, I avoid using our familiar measures of time. Instead of “minute,” I use “moment.” Instead of “week,” I use “quarter-moon.” Many cultures measure time by that clock in the sky, the Moon. For distance, I just referred to how many days a trip took.
And I had fun making up names and words to help evoke a different world. I used two methods for creating these new words: listening/intuition, and research.
For most of my characters’ name, I start by ‘listening’ for a name, using my intuition. Sometimes, that’s it. I get it on the first try, like Zhovanya as the name of the Goddess in my trilogy. For others, I play around with the sound of the name until it fits the character. And for some, the name evolves as I get to know the character better. For example, originally Kyr’s name was Arik (which I believe relates to an old Nordic word for eagle). Somehow, I didn’t like the hard ‘k’ as the last sound of his name, so I changed it to Kyr (“keer” like “peer”), which to me sounds like the high, lonely cry of a hawk or eagle, and suits his character.
Over time, I noticed that there was a pattern in the way I was naming men vs. women, and changed a few names to fit that pattern, though there are some exceptions. You might check out the Cast of Characters (in Book Extras) on my website, and see if you can detect the pattern. I also ‘listened’ for the magical commands used by the Warrior-Mage, Rajani; for the names of magical potions; and for the sacred chants. (See the Glossary in Book Extras.)
In the case of the evil sorcerer-king called the Soul-Drinker, I found his name through researching the roots of words in the Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto. The Soul-Drinker’s name is Dauthaz, which comes from the Old English and Germanic roots of the word ‘death.’
This is also how I created the name of the land where the story takes place, and the terms used at the Sanctuary. The land is named Khailaz, which is a prehistoric Germanic word, ancestor of our word, ‘whole.’ Adding the suffix –itha to khailaz produced khailitha, the root of our words, ‘health’ and ‘heal.’ 
From this, I made up the words kailitha (divine healing energy); Kailithana (a priestess-healer); Kailithara (healing work of the Kailithana); Kailithos (one who is undergoing the Kailithara); and Kailithama (sacred chamber in which the Kailithana works with the Kailithos).
I don’t recall exactly how I tracked down the roots from which I constructed Aithané (Listener, Confessor), Phanaithos (Speaker, Divulger), or Phanaithara (Divulgence, Confession). I believe they come from Greek roots meaning to listen, and to speak.
A few other words, I just made up. For example, I derived zhan (life force energy) from Zhovanya.
Now, admittedly, I am not Tolkien, creating whole languages, and races of fantastic creatures. My focus is more on the inner world and healing ordeal of my hero, Kyr, than on detailed world-making. However, I did do my best to evoke a different place/time by creating new words and names, and avoiding overly familiar names and terms.
As a reader, which do you prefer: familiar names and terms; or new and different ones?
As a writer, what is your approach to evoking a different world?

Tour Notes

 This week you can grab the first book in the Star-Seer’s Prophecy Trilogy for just 99 cents. That’s right Dark Innocence is marked way, way down, giving you the chance to explore this thought-provoking fantasy series for yourself. Get your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBookstoday!

You can continue the saga with the newly released sequel Fierce Blessings.

Oh, and don’t forget to enter our giveaway for your chance to win an autographed copy of Fierce Blessings or a Star-Seer’s Prophecy t-shirt. We have a total of 4 prizes for 4 lucky winners, hooray! Enter the giveaway right here:

About Dark Innocence:  In an ancient world of blood sorcery and healing magic, the Soul-Drinker, a vicious necromancer-king, is draining the life from the souls of the people and of the earth itself. Worse yet, he has banished the land's rightful Goddess, and disrupted the Sacred Balance, sending the mortal and divine realms whirling toward destruction.

The only hope for salvation is a youth named Kyr, born and raised as one of the Soul-Drinker's blindly obedient slaves. Kyr knows only the pain, evil and cruelty of the Soul-Drinker's hell--and nothing of the Star-Seer's Prophecy that declares him to be the long-sought Liberator.

Rescued by strangers, Kyr embarks on a bewildering journey into a bizarre new life, where kindness and love are real. If he is to fulfill his destiny, he must battle his inner demons and fight to find his buried capacities for compassion and courage. Will he be able to surrender the inner ice that has been his soul's only protection in time to save the world from disaster?

Again, you can grab your copy for just 99 cents at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks as part of this special event!

Staying Safe or Surrendering:
A Dilemma of Creativity and Spirituality
Rahima Warren
Many years ago, I had an awe-inspiring glimpse of the Flow of Divine Creativity. It appeared to me as a cosmic Fountain of Creativity, endlessly flowing upward with an outrageous infinitude of vivid, colorful images: trees, cartoons, volcanoes, tulips, cars, babies, tigers, paintings, skyscrapers, movies, soldiers, roses, stars, drums—everything tumbling upward forever!
I saw that what we human creators do is tap into this infinite Fountain, and channel one little stream into manifestation, whether we are a musician or a parent, an architect or a writer, an artist or an engineer. Certainly this is my experience of writing my visionary trilogy, The Star-Seer’s Prophecy. A certain dream character had been haunting me for years. One day, I wrote a short story in my journal about this character, hoping the little story would make him stop bothering me. Ha!
I’d tapped into that Fountain and now the Flow was sweeping me away! I could have fought it and tried to get back to my life and my career as a psychotherapist. However, my spiritual path is a path of surrender. Our ego-minds are all about keeping control and staying safe, so any ego-effort to understand or get close to the Divine is doomed to failure. Only by surrendering that ego-control can we open ourselves to the Divine, and to our creativity (which are aspects of the same Flow.)
The Divine (however you name it) is not concerned with our staying safe and small, but with our blooming into our full, beautiful, creative selves. If I had ignored this flood of creative inspiration that I had tapped into, I would have stayed in my safe rut, and never discovered the wonders of allowing my creativity full rein (or in my case, reign!), or faced the “growth opportunity” of offering my book to the world. Instead, I surrendered to the passionate outpouring of this character’s story, whose name turned out to be Kyr. With no idea where his story was going, no outline, no plan, I just wrote whatever came through, no matter how dark or brilliant.
Kyr’s path is also one of surrender. At first, he has no choice but submit, since he has been born and raised as a slave of the Soul-Drinker, an evil sorcerer-king with vast powers that no one can combat. Then he is rescued and faces a choice: cling to his deathly loyalty to his master, or to take the unknown hard path toward life, love and the Light. 
Kyr’s journey toward the Light is a journey of surrender. At each step of the way, he has to surrender his old view of who he is and what he deserves, and open more and more to his true nature. I suspect that may be true for all of us, but it is rarely easy. The ego-mind wants to stay with what it knows, no matter how awful, and to stay small, with the illusion that this makes us safe. In Dark Innocence: Book One of my trilogy, there is a scene where Kyr surrenders his pain and remorse to the Goddess. After all these years of rewriting, editing, publishing and now doing my best to let the world know about Kyr’s dark, intense, yet healing and inspiring story, that scene still touches my heart.  

Contemplation Questions
Have you experienced that dilemma between safety and surrender?
Does surrender play a role in your spirituality and/or creativity?
Have you been “haunted” by an inner character in your dreams or imagination? How have you dealt with him/her? Have you tried letting them tell you their story?
I’d love to hear your answers! Please leave a comment, if you are so inspired.

The Banished Goddess saved his soul. Now he must restore Her sovereignty.
But how can he, when his worst enemy drags him back into hell?
No longer the dark innocent, Kyr hassurvived the first hell of the Star-Seer’s prophecy. After his deeply sacred and transformative year at the Goddess's Sanctuary, he has become a man of compassion, courage, and integrity. However, the terrible crimes he committed as the unwitting slave of the Soul-Drinker still weigh heavily on his soul. To atone, he plans to help his slave brothers find the same blessings he received from the Goddess: healing, forgiveness and love.
But before he can begin, his worst enemy tears him from the safety of the Sanctuary, and away from all the goodness and beauty he has come to know. Now Kyr must face the second hell foretold by the prophecy. Left chained outdoors like a dog for months, Kyr is subjected to beatings and derision by his captors. When the rains come, he is taken inside as servant and whore by their leader, who subjects Kyr to sorcerous torture, aiming to turn him into his will-less, mind-bonded slave. Far from any help, Kyr struggles to protect his soul from the seductive pull of all-too-familiar depravity, fight the temptations of hatred and despair, and to continue on the hard path to forgiveness.
Will Kyr be able to keep faith with the Goddess Who saved his soulin time to renew the Sacred Balance and restore Her sovereignty? Or will he return to the foul slavery he has known most of his life? The fate of the land and the Goddess Herself depends on his choice.
Fierce Blessings is a deep, rich story that explores the ferocious challenges of life as a human being… takes you on a transformational journey… and portrays the kind of courage needed to endure and transcend the worst of experiences.  

Interview with Rahima Warren,
Author of The Star-Seer’s Prophecy, a fantasy trilogy
How did this story come to you?
I am still puzzled by where this story and its hero came from. It certainly did not come from my life experience. All I know is that I had a character similar to the protagonist of The Star-Seer’s Prophecy in my dreams and fantasies since I was a child. I have no idea where he came from, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept showing up, over and over.
Partly inspired by my curiosity about him, I studied dreamwork, and became a psychotherapist. I found that Carl Jung’s work with dreams and archetypes most helpful. I did dreamwork and wrote dialogs with this inner character, and tried to analyze what part of my psyche he is, or what archetype he represents. No matter what I did, he kept on lurking around.
Finally, one day, I wrote a short story in my journal, hoping that he would be satisfied and go away. Big mistake! That little story opened the floodgates. This character, whose name turned out to be Kyr, had quite a journey to go on. The only way he could do it was to take over my life and turn me into a writer.
When those floodgates opened, a rush of intense, exciting creative energy poured forth. I surrendered to the current and it swept me along. I had no plan. I just went with the flow and wrote what Kyr showed me. His story started out so dark that I was sure I would never show it to anyone, ever! But writing his story was my secret passion— and it was the only way I could find out what happened next.
After decades of personal growth work; after becoming a transpersonal counselor and working with clients for twenty years; and becoming an Expressive Arts therapist, I’d learned to trust the creative process and my soul’s hidden wisdom, and so I was able to allow Kyr’s story to pour forth without censoring or editing.
After the first draft of the entire trilogy was on paper, I realized it is a powerful story worth sharing. So I studied how to write fiction, hired an editor, and revised, revised, revised. 

Did you always want to be an author?
I began reading fantasy and Sci-Fi as soon as I could read, thanks to my parents. (They left F&SF magazines with fascinating cover art lying around the house.) I always wondered how the authors could create alternate worlds and write such fascinating stories, but I never imagined becoming one of them. I thought authors were these odd creatures who lived in flats in New York City.
At one point in the late 1980s, I felt I needed to observe a ‘fast’ from unnecessary words for a month as a spiritual practice. I stopped reading, watching TV, etc. And I got my first laptop. One night, when I couldn’t sleep, I turned on my laptop and started writing whatever imagery showed up in my mind. I found myself writing stories. Still, it was just for fun. I didn’t think about becoming an author until after I had written the first draft of The Star-Seer’s Prophecy.
They say life imitates art, but were there any events or people in your life that became inspiration for your work?
My psychotherapy clients revealed to me the amazing ability we humans have to overcome terrible trauma and abuse, to move toward healing our wounds and recovering our innate beauty, integrity and wholeness. To do this, we need to face what harm was done to us, and eventually, to begin to see beyond our pain to the brokenness of our abusers. Many people were able to move past their anger and vengefulness, and to forgive the person who harmed them, without forgiving their harmful actions. This is a major theme of The Star-Seer’s Prophecy, but it is not based on any particular person’s story.
What were some of your inspirations when you were creating your world?
I’m sure I have been subliminally influenced by reading fairy tales, and many of my favorite authors, such as Ursula LeGuin, Carol Berg, Charles De Lint, Patricia McKillip, and Sherri S. Tepper, to name a few. However, I did not consciously copy anyone. My process was to sort of “listen-see” and write whatever I “heard-saw.” Kyr’s world turned out to be semi-medieval, with black sorcery, healing magic, and magical rituals, but no dragons, unicorns, or goblins.
Magic is always an integral part of fantasy novels, how did you create your magic?
Again, I followed the flow of the story. Ideas for the magic just seemed to arise as needed. In hindsight, I can see that for the healing magic, I drew upon my experience with energy work such as Reiki. For the rituals, I was influenced by my experience of the sacred rituals of Celtic and Native American traditions, but only in a general way. I did not copy any particular culture’s rituals.
What's the one thing you want people to take away from reading the Star Seer's Prophecy?
That the real magic is forgiveness – forgiving those who have harmed you, instead of obsessing endlessly about your wounds, and/or seeking revenge. This only perpetuates the pain. Equally important is forgiving yourself for making mistakes, for not being perfect, for being human. Often, one of the hardest things is to forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know at the time. For example, in the story, Kyr begins as an obedient slave to the evil sorcerer-king called the Soul-Drinker. Later, Kyr learns what atrocities he committed as a slave, and feels deep remorse. He painfully learns to forgive himself for not knowing at the time that what he had done was wrong.
Without giving away too much, what's next for Kyr?
In the first book, Dark Innocence, Kyr chose the hard path of healing, forgiveness and love. With the help of friends and healers, he overcame his terrible upbringing as a Slave of the Soul-Drinker, and became a man capable of kindness, courage and integrity at the Sanctuary of the Goddess Zhovanya.
In Book Two, Fierce Blessings, Kyr faces the familiar nightmare of cruelty and evil that he knew as a boy, in the second hell foretold by the Prophecy. As hostage for the safety of the Sanctuary, his friends, and his beloved Jolanya, he struggles to protect his soul from succumbing to the depravity he has known for most of his life, and fights to keep hold of the blessings he received from Zhovanya. 
In the final volume of the trilogy, Perilous Bliss (forthcoming), Kyr is plunged into the third hell of the Star-Seer’s Prophecy. A most intimate and harrowing betrayal throws him into a storm of rage and despair. Alienated from his friends, himself, and, worst of all, the Goddess, he flees to a mysterious tower, where he finds the solitude that is all he can bear.

But the time has come, at last: the stars are moving into the pattern foreseen long ago by the Star-Seer. Will Kyr be able to keep faith with the Goddess Who saved his soul in time to renew the Sacred Balance and restore Her sovereignty? Or will he return to the foul slavery he has known most of his life? The fate of the land and the Goddess Herself depends on his choice.

Author Bio
Rahima is the author of Dark Innocence and Fierce Blessings, Books One and Two of The Star-Seer's Prophecy trilogy. She is a third-generation native of California and resides with her husband in Northern California, where she periodically chases squirrels off the wild bird feeders, and deer away from her roses. Her life-long love of fantasy is her parents’ fault: they left sci-fi & fantasy magazines with fascinating cover art lying around the house, and they were the first thing she picked up to read.

Rahima is a retired psychotherapist. Her depth of experience with her own healing journey, and with her clients, merged with her love of imaginative literature and resulted in The Star-Seer's Prophecy, an fantasy trilogy about the healing journey from evil and suffering to love and enlightenment.

In her work with clients, she was awed by the human capacity to heal from horrendous abuse, and to reach new levels of forgiveness, wholeness and happiness. This is the transformational journey she portrays in fictional form in The Star-Seer's Prophecy.

Book 1: Dark Innocence, and Book 2: Fierce Blessings have been published. She is currently editing Book 3: Perilous Bliss.  

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