The LightRider Journals by Eric Nierstedt
Joseph Hashimoto is happy with his ordinary life. A man who believes in fairness and just action, Joe’s greatest love is his family. But as he moves about his days, he is completely unaware that his actions are carefully observed. With one momentous decision, Joe’s ordinary life is about to transform into an extraordinary existence.
While attempting to save a little girl from danger, Joe is killed in a violent explosion. Instead of dying, however, his soul is brought before the elemental Architects of the Universe, who tell him he has been chosen for a sacred duty. Reborn as Lightrider, the earthly representative of Light, Joe is given leadership of the Elemental Knights, a group of half-man, half-animal beings. Charged with maintaining a delicate balance between good and evil, Joe must police both sides and destroy anyone who threatens to ruin it. As Joe struggles with his conflicting emotions and longing for home, he must face his greatest threat—the ancient Chaos Demons.
In this fantasy tale, a man inadvertently thrust into a world of cosmic forces must come to terms with change and accept what needs to be done for the good of all.
“Don’t forget the milk today,” Jeri Hashimoto said.
Huh?” Joe asked.
“Don’t forget the milk,” Jeri repeated as she poured herself a cup of the black, herbal sludge that somehow worked like coffee. “Like you did yesterday.”
“Yes dear,” Joe Hashimoto muttered. He hated to make mistakes like that. Jeri always said that it was because he was Japanese; she often hid the knives when Joe forgot or failed to do something and then made him promise not to “go kamikaze”.
Luckily, she’d forgotten this morning. Joe finished buttering his toast. Still, sometimes Joe wondered if he should add a scar or two, if only to accent his bland features—short black hair; slanted, dark Asian eyes in a slightly rounded face; moderately fit physique; average height. His plainness had made him work hard to get people to recognize him for his skills, although being able to one-up his wife wasn’t always one of them.
“Come on, you deserved it a little,” Jeri said with a laugh as she brushed back her hair.
“Believe me, dear, seeing that disappointed look on your face is motivation enough.”
“Aww, look at the little suck-up,” Jeri replied. She leaned forward and kissed Joe on the cheek.
“Well, that is why you married me, isn’t it?” Joe asked.
“Sure wasn’t the sex,” Jeri said, sipping her tea.
Joe just shook his head and began to butter his second piece of toast. As Jeri picked up the paper and started to read, he took a look at her face. Even though Jeri wasn’t wearing much makeup, Joe still thought he’d married the most eyes-popping-out-and-leaking-into-your-lap stunning woman in the world. Her red hair framed her face and still looked as fiery as ever after all the years. Still, Joe was always drawn to her eyes above all else. They were a deep shade of green, almost the color of the rain forest in the pictures Joe had seen.
That was why he waited until Jeri finished her paper before he turned her face against him. “I almost forgot; Mom called last night.”
“Oh …” Jeri said in horror-laced surprise. “Joe, please don’t tell me … not after the last time. Don’t tell me they’re …”
“Yeah. On Thursday.”
“Oh God, and you said yes?”
“I know, I know, but I think she’s coming around.”
“Dear, she will never forgive me for being your wife and a cracker. All I ever hear is, ‘in Japan we do this’ and ‘this is how we did it when I grew up.’ She spent the last visit giving me ‘suggestions’ on how to decorate the house, how to cook our food, and even how I should defend a case!” she snapped.
Joe tried to hide a smirk. “I don’t disagree with you. But Mom was never happy about having to leave home when my dad got transferred—”
“And she wanted to make sure you didn’t forget your culture.” Jeri sighed. “She barely even accepted giving you an American name. But it’s been years since all that, and I’m always going to be the ignorant cracker-Mick to her until one of us dies.”
“I know. Even my father is tired of hearing it. But she’s my mother, and I don’t want to become estranged from her. Your dad and I didn’t hit it off either, but he and I worked it out. Doesn’t that prove that maybe we can get Mom to accept you?”
Jeri was quiet then. Finally, she asked, “When are they coming over?”
“They aren’t yet,” Joe said. “I said I’d have to clear it with you first. Oh, you thought I just went ahead and booked it, didn’t you?”
“I hate you,” Jeri muttered.
“I know. But what was I gonna do? Let her come by unannounced and have you even angrier with me?”
Jeri gritted her teeth, then said, “Thank you. I’ll try to make it work then. But I’m not making any promises if she goes off the deep end.”
“Good. Now, they were talking about taking us to dinner on Thursday. Is that okay with you?”
“All right. But if she goes nuts, you owe me big-time.”
“I promise, if anything happens, I will be your slave.”
“We’re married, Joe. You already are.”
“Dad’s already what?” another voice said.
Both Jeri and Joe turned to see their twelve-year-old son standing in the doorway, his backpack slung over his shoulder. Cody Hashimoto had the open look on his face his father used so well. But physically, he was his mother’s child, with light skin, blue eyes, and an oblong face. Only Joe’s jet-black hair had managed to establish itself, along with a slightly Asian slant to Cody’s eyes.
“Nothing important,” Jeri said. “You ready for school?”
“Yes, Mom,” Cody said with a sigh.
“You have your books?”
“Mom, come on. One day I forget my books, and you don’t let it go for a year!”
“You can ask complain later; you have to catch the bus in five minutes—which is all the time I have,” Joe said, looking at the clock. Grabbing his coat from the nearby rack, Joe threw it on, put some of his toast in his coat pocket, and headed for the door.
“See you guys tonight,” he said as he worked the doorknob.
“Later, Dad,” Cody said as he headed for the front door as well.
“Have a good day,” Jeri added, moving to grab her briefcase from the countertop.
“He seems rather … quiet, don’t you think?”
“Perhaps, but he does show promise. He knows how to negotiate.”
“One argument solved is not enough. Yours is the final piece, and we cannot wait forever to determine whether or not he is acceptable.”
“Give him time, sister. I was led to this man by the One, and we both know such things do not happen without a reason.”
“Just make sure you do not misunderstand the message. I agree that this man seems to have the moral qualities we seek. But is he a leader? If he cannot end the conflict between his wife and mother, how can he face the challenges we have for him?
How can he lead anyone when he cannot lead himself?”
“Wait and see. I believe that our answer will be delivered.”
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What people are saying
“More than just the usual good versus evil theme, it focuses on good not always being right, and evil not always being bad, but there needs to be a balance between the two.” – DB ~ Amazon Reviewer
“I really felt like I was on the sidelines watching it all unfold.” – Ren @ A Little Bit of R&R
“From the first page, I found myself not wanting to stop reading. The story and characters had me completely engrossed, and I think it is a book I'd find myself reading over in years to come.” – Kristen Bapst ~ Amazon Reviewer
“The book was not only believable but spiritual as well as suspenseful. The writing is amazingly descriptive which bring the pages to life in your mind. The imagery is so clear, I could see it on the big screen as I flew through the pages.” Anonymous Barnes & Noble Reviewer
Eric Nierstedt grew up in Garwood NJ, and spent most of his life absorbing the epic tales of fantasy from Terry Brooks, Stephen King, and even the tales of comic books and video games. His writing began soon after, as he honed it through writing for the local paper, and maintaining his own blog (www.thepopculturemark.wordpress.com/). When he graduated from Kean University, his began his first novel, while also being selected for the NJ Wordsmith competition. Eric wanted to tell a story of a group of characters, anchored by one central narrator, that battled forces of destruction. And he also wanted to use his own thoughts on the nature of good and evil- how the two are defined by each other,
"When I started the Lightrider Journals, the big fantasy novels of the day were Twilight and Harry Potter. I wanted to avoid being another copy of those at all costs. So I combined all my major influences: Terry Brooks, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Stephen King's The Dark Tower. As I wrote, I wanted to explore a concept that wasn't discussed much in any popular fantasy- the idea of showing good and evil as forces both responsible for and essential to life as we know it. I also wanted to show a more natural form of magic, and show fantasy existing in the real world, which would turn out much bigger then people think. And finally, I wanted to tell a story about what I was feeling stepping out in the world for the first time- how a man can adapt to a sudden and tremendous responsibility -not just his successes, but his losses as well, and how he learns to live with them. And of course, throw in liberal amounts of magic, characters that would resonate with people, and a sprinkling of humor. I think anyone who reads it will be able to have a good time with all the characters and action, but also see a different version of the never-ending battle of good and evil. And most of all, I hope they leave the book with a better idea of how they can face that which seems insurmountable."
Here's what Eric had to say about writing.
If you want to write, there are many different options open to you. You can sit and write for six hours a day. You can pick a subject, do as much research as you deem necessary, and then write a meticulous outline detailing everything your story needs to get done. You can have an idea and just write. Or if you really want, you can live in a one room cabin in the woods and do nothing but write, eat, sleep, and do your business. Granted that last is a bit extreme, but it has been done and it might work for you.
For me, I can honestly say that I have taken a little bit of each approach in my writing (minus the cabin). I have never believed in writing a full outline, or writing something where I needed to do heavy research. I feel that takes the fun out of the process, so I tend to write about a subject I’m familiar with, or that I would enjoy researching. As for my outline, I really don’t make one. If I have an idea, I hold onto it and mull on it for some time. Ideas then start to drift in about the story- the conflict, the major events, and the characters. Eventually, I have enough pieced together to form a loose story thread. It’s at the point I actually sit down at the computer and start to type.
This part is probably the trickiest one to do. At this point, I know how the story starts and ends, but not how the two are connected. So I have to start thinking of ways to connect the two, which means that the small details don’t really start to form until I start the process. For some, this sounds daunting and a process that leaves too much to chance. But for me, it also the right amount of looseness to the process. With a fully developed outline, I would feel that everything had already been thought out, and I was just copying down information. But by having the process open, it feels like a more creative process. I learn things about my world and my characters as I write. For example, in writing Lightrider, I initially wrote the character of Sandshifter as an angry, combative person. But as I wrote the story, I started to understand why- she was alone in a strange world, with a form and powers she didn’t understand, and forced to serve something she initially didn’t believe in. It was a lot for anyone to take in, and it helped me to humanize her character. Parts of the story also evolved that way- the section in which Joe Hashimoto, my main character, is trained in using his powers, came from first realizing he needed the training, and then thinking of all the ways his power (light) could be utilized. It gave the scene the sense of discovery I wanted readers to feel when they saw just what Joe was capable of. And finally, I did set a goal for myself each time I sat down- no matter what the scene was, no matter how long, I had to finish it.
As I said, everyone has a different approach, and while mine is more of a hodgepodge, it’s certainly not the only way to do things. But I say to anyone that asks me, try it. Even if it doesn’t work for you, it will bring you one step closer to what does, and you may even find parts of it that do work. And if all else fails, the cabin is always waiting.
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April 16 - Kick off - A Little Bit of R&R www.alittlebitofrnrreviews.com
The Lightrider Journals - http://lightriderjournals.wordpress.com/
Intertwined - http://intertwinedbmgm.blogspot.com
April 17 - Guest post - Booky Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom - http://bookyramblings.wordpress.com
April 18 - Interview - Curling Up With A Good Book http://curling-up-with-a-good-book.blogspot.com
April 19 excerpt Books, Reviews, Wine and Cheese http://booksreviewswineandcheese.blogspot.com
April 20 - spotlight - BookEnd 2 BookEnd www.bookend2bookend.blogspot.com
April 21 - spotlight - Confessions of the Paranormal - http://confessionsoftheparanormal.blogspot.com
April 22 - spotlight - Kristina's Books and More ww.kristinasbooksandmore.blogspot.com
April 23 - excerpt - Contagious Reads - www.contagiousreads.blogspot.com
April 24 - spotlight and excerpt - Bex 'n' Books www.bexnbooks.blogspot.com
April 25 - Review - Pamela Foreman - http://www.pamelaforeman.com
April 26 - spotlight - Girls Heart Books - http://lissalynnsreviews.blogspot.com
April 27 guest post - Chelsea Starling - http://chelseastarling.com
April 29 - Guest Post - Library at the END of the Universe - http://www.libraryendofuniverse.blogspot.com
April 30 Author Spotlight - Read Between the Lines - http://www.rbtlreviews.com