DISCIPLE continues...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

THE SOUL STONE by Jaime Marchant

Back cover
The Crown Princess Samantha and Sir Robrek struggle to solidify their rule in the aftermath of the king’s murder and Duke Argblutal’s attempt to usurp the throne. They are thwarted at every turn by those who seek power for themselves and desire to prevent their marriage. Just when they think their problems are solved, a deadly curse begins to spread throughout Korthlundia and Samantha becomes pregnant.


Samantha must fight off priests, enemies, and her closest advisors while Robrek discovers the reason the goddess chose him as king, to defeat the Soul Stone, a stone capable of sucking the soul out of its victims, which threatens to obliterate all life in the joined kingdoms. Their archenemy, the Bard Alvabane, awakens the Soul Stone and plans to use its power to reclaim Korthlundia for her people (a people driven out over a thousand years ago by the hero Armunn). Armunn had to sacrifice his life and soul to contain the Soul Stone. Will Robrek have to do the same? Will the young couple have only a few short months to love each other?

Excerpt
Chapter 2
At bedtime, Alvabane sat at her dressing table brushing her long hair. It had once been a bright, rich red, but it had dulled with age and was now mostly grey with only a few strands of color to remind her of what once had been. It seemed a metaphor for her life—small flashes of color to remind her of her once bright purpose.
One of those flashes, Erick, set her nightly goblet of fortified wine next to her hand. She needed the strong alcohol to dull the pain of her joints so she could sleep. Erick had served her for ten years. When her former servant had died, he’d been sent by her people, despite the fact that she’d only been a disappointment to them. 
She turned to thank him, but the words died on her lips as she saw the reproach in his eyes. Alvabane turned back to her mirror. Tonight was the night of the new moon. She should have been preparing to perform the rites of the dark gods, not preparing for bed. “They have forgotten us,” Alvabane said. “The Soul Stone does not live.”
In the mirror, she saw Erick’s eyes narrow. He was not yet twenty and still had the optimism of youth. He still believed the Stone would come to life again when the gods willed it. He believed it would again be the weapon it had once been. Created in the far past by magic which had since been lost, it had been used by her people to protect themselves from the barbarians that now ran free over Korth and Lundia.
“I will perform the rites next month,” she promised, but so had she promised last month and the month before that. The stairs to the bottom of the East Tower were agony to her knees. Erick made a mewing sound, reminding her what he’d sacrificed to serve her and the dark gods. She herself had cut his tongue from his mouth when he came to her as a ten-year-old child. He had surrendered it stoically. Only the Bards were allowed to sing the rites of the gods. All others who heard them had to be rendered mute so they couldn’t repeat music not meant for their tongues.
“Do you think you have sacrificed more than I?” She turned to face him. “I submitted to the brutish duke’s bed for years. I gave birth to a child of rape. All so I could remain near the Stone. I performed the rites faithfully every new moon for decades. And for what, I ask you? The power of the Stone remains trapped behind the shield the demon Armunn created from his own soul. That shield can’t be destroyed. I have dedicated my life to trying, but it is impossible. The Soul Stone won’t live again!”
Erick mewed again and looked toward the tapestry on the wall. It showed the map of the desert of Sehra, to the south of Korthlundia, where her people had lived in exile since Armunn and his hordes had trapped the Stone and then driven them from their homeland. Blinking back tears of despair, she turned from him. “Do you think I have forgotten? Every generation fewer of our children are born. Only by returning to the land of our birthright can we be strong again.”
She got up and went to the tapestry, touching it lovingly. “Do you not understand? The dark gods have found me unworthy to be their messenger. I once thought I was the child of the prophecy, the one who would drive the descendants of Armunn’s hordes back across the mountains into Korth and reclaim the land they call Lundia as our own. But I was wrong. I’m an unprofitable servant, an unfit vessel.”

Author Bio

From early childhood, Jamie has been immersed in books. Her mother, an avid reader, read to her, and her older sister filled her head with fairy tales. Taking into consideration her love for literature and the challenges of supporting herself as a writer, she pursued a Ph.D. in American literature, which she received in 1998. She started teaching writing and literature at Auburn University. But in doing so, she put her true passion on the backburner and neglected her muse. Then one day, in the midst of writing a piece of literary criticism, she realized that what she wanted to be doing was writing fantasy novels. Her muse thus revived, she began the book that was to become The Goddess’s Choice, which was published in April 2012. The second volume in the series, The Soul Stone, was released this June.

She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband, son, and four cats, which (or so she’s been told) officially makes her a cat lady. She still teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. Her short fiction has been published on Short-Story.Me, and my story was chosen for inclusion in their annual anthology. It has also appeared in the anthologies—Urban Fantasy (KY Story, 2013) and Of Dragon and Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds (Witty Bard Publishing, 2014)—The World of Myth, A Writer’s Haven, and Bards & Sages.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

HIGH MAGA by Karin Rita Gastreich

The Accidental Trilogy
By Karin Rita Gastreich
This month I’m celebrating the release of the audio edition of High Maga, book two in a trilogy that chronicles the struggle of one woman, Eolyn, to restore a millennial tradition of magic. Before we wrap up the tour, I want to talk a little about the third book in the series, Daughter of Aithne, which I completed this spring and plan to release by early 2016.

Daughter of Aithne brings Eolyn’s journey full-circle in a way I didn’t foresee when I wrote the first book. Indeed, “book one” wasn’t intended to be the first of a series. But about a month after I signed the contract for Eolyn, ideas began to come together for a sequel. High Maga was born and painstakingly developed over months and years to come. Decidedly darker than its predecessor, High Maga captures a period of Eolyn’s life when her journey becomes exceedingly painful, her choices complicated and accompanied by loss.

You can read High Maga, understand it and enjoy it, without having seen book one or going on to book three, but I’m going to be honest: you won’t understand the full meaning of the events in High Maga unless you complete the series. I’ve often said it’s unfair to hold a reader hostage in this fashion, but as an author I’ve come to realize that certain themes are too complex to receive due treatment in just one novel.

Eolyn is a story of hope; High Maga of destruction. In Daughter of Aithne, we see the building of a new future as circumstances at last come together to allow Eolyn and her cohorts to imagine a world different from the one they inherited.

This is something we don’t see often in fantasy. Most fantasy characters must accept the world as given. They may have the strength and courage to overcome the challenges of that world, but they are rarely allowed to implement real changes in the fabric of the society to which they were born.
So in order to introduce women warriors, fantasy authors create societies in which women-at-arms are acceptable, at the very least as an exception to the rule. To make a woman part of a matriarchal power line, we imagine worlds where matriarchy has existed for centuries, with no real or effective challenge to that status quo.

These are a couple examples of wonderful fantasy worlds where our women characters have been able to flourish. But what about the other possibility? What about the struggle for change that breaks open opportunities never before available to women? And not only for that exceptional character who proves she can do it just like the guys, but for all women everywhere?

I didn’t realize it when I started Eolyn, but these were some of the questions that motivated the series. What if women – key women, of a particular character – were given the opportunity to change the world? Would they imagine it differently from the men before them? Or would they subscribe to the same power structures, the same intrigues, the same tools for resolving conflict?

There are many possible answers to these questions; and a thousand stories waiting to be written to address them. Eolyn, High Maga, and most of all, Daughter of Aithne are just three examples.
Looking back, it’s hard for me to imagine how I ever wrote that first book without envisioning the second and third installment. It’s taken two novels to set up Daughter of Aithne correctly, but soon it too will be on the shelves, and Eolyn’s journey will be complete. On some level, Daughter of Aithne is the book I’ve always wanted to write. I’m very much looking forward to its debut.

In the meantime, I hope you will read Eolyn and High Maga. As with all true change, the triumph of Daughter of Aithne can only be fully appreciated in the context of the struggles that came before. To help you get started, all ebook editions of Eolyn are on sale this month for just $2.99. And as part of this blog tour, we’re running a giveaway for free copies of High Maga. It’s easy to register; just click the Rafflecopter link below.

Thanks so much for your interest in Eolyn’s journey. I hope you enjoy her adventures just as much as I have.

HIGH MAGA [audio edition]
Karin Rita Gastreich (author)
Darla Middlebrook (narrator)

Sisters in magic, Eolyn and Adiana seek to revive a craft once forbidden to women. When war strikes at the heart of the kingdom, their fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.

In hopes of defending her people, Eolyn tries to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. Trapped by the invading army, Adiana is taken prisoner and placed at the mercy of the ruthless Prince Mechnes.

Even as their world is torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where the Daughters of Aithne will flourish in a world set free from the violence of men.

“War propels the book forward, and the characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst.” –Publishers Weekly

Purchase Links

About the Author:
KARIN RITA GASTREICH writes tales of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. Inspired by a lifetime of exploring lush forests and breathtaking landscapes, Karin’s stories blend elements of epic fantasy, historical fiction, and romance. The worlds she creates are a strange amalgamation of medieval Europe and colonial Central America, with misty forests, vast savannas, and steamy jungles. They are populated by brave heroines, noble heroes, and twisted villains. From ancient woodlands to uncharted seas, readers will experience gripping battle scenes, heart wrenching loss, hard-won triumphs, and the ultimate magic of love. Karin’s fantasy novels Eolyn and High Maga are available from Hadley Rille Books. Her short stories have appeared in Zahir, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and World Jumping. She runs an on-line discussion forum about women in genre fiction at Heroines of Fantasy. Follow Karin’s adventures into fantastic worlds, both real and imagined, at krgastreich.com.

Author web links
Karin’s website • Heroines of FantasyFacebook • Twitter: @EolynChronicles

About the Narrator:
Darla’s voice is a versatile instrument used with skill. It is a voice filled with intelligence and warmth. Her sound can range from mature to youthful female, and she can also produce convincing male timbres. Narrative is presented in a conversational, down to earth, matter-of-fact manner and also displays a broad emotional range across a large repertoire of characters (female, male, young, old and "creature"). All of that while still conveying a sense of wonder when telling the story.

With experience of 34+ years as a Speech-Language Pathologist, more than 20 years as a stage & film actor and over 20 years as a trained singer with knowledge and insight into the mechanics of the voice and speech, Darla Middlebrook brings a wealth of experience to bear to develop character voices (male, female, mature, extremely elderly, creepy, bright exotic, etc) with an impressive emotional range.

Currently, Darla is one of many voice actors who narrate podcasts for AIRS-LA (an audio internet service for individuals with visual challenges) in addition to narrating audio books.

Narrator Web Links
WebsiteFacebook • Twitter: @GypsyCatVoice

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

After DISCIPLE...


If you're working your way through my gritty fantasy series, Disciple, did you know that there's a prologue?

I wrote Fire's First Kiss as an exclusive gift to my Kickstarter supporters waaaaay back when I was publishing Part I. It's a novella covering the events leading up to that secret mission across the mountains.

It's only $1.99 but you'll never see this on Amazon or for sale anyplace else. You can only get it through my newsletter because it's only for Disciple fans. Sign up now and get the link!

Back cover
Before Kate was sent on the secret mission across the mountains, she faced her first big challenge as an apprentice healer at the original battle of Ansehen. Kiefan was there too, champing at the bit to prove himself to his father. And Anders was skating the edge of giving up and seeking is fortune elsewhere.

Want more from the "Saints of War" universe?
Dreamspinner Press published the m/m romance that I wrote after finishing Disciple. It's set in the borderlands, fifty years before the events of the series.

Back cover
Heathric Felahóf never wanted to be a thief, but his cousinʼs scheme is the only option to keep the town's children from being taken as slaves to cover the year's taxes. So a few men slip over the border into the neighboring kingdom, steal a flock of sheep, and escape before the magically gifted Rangers learn of them. The second time, they're not so lucky, and trouble follows the bandits home.

Adal Sperling has given up on finding a lover who truly wants him. One of the Rangers charged with protecting his people, he pursues the sheep thieves over the border and stumbles across Heathric, a gentle shepherd who only wants to take care of his family. But opposite sides of border incursions is a rough way to fall in love, and the laws of Adalʼs kingdom are clear: the border must remain closed to Heathricʼs people.


Stay tuned for announcements of what's coming in the fall!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

DISCIPLE OMNIBUS now on sale!

Now that the six part Disciple series is finished...

Disciple Omnibus
collecting all six parts, 
all the appendices,
all the cover art, all the maps, 
all the character indexes...

one ebook, 
only $9.99!
Read just Part I for free - see below!

one paperback! 
(for all your fantasy doorstop needs...) 
CreatespaceAmazon

Blurb
War is coming. Kate Carpenter is only a peasant girl, but she’s determined to help defend the kingdom and its bound saints against the invading empire. Her healing magic earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the master healer; now she must prove herself ready to stand in the front lines and save lives.

She’s not ready for the attentions of a ne’er-do-well knight and the kingdom’s only prince, though. This is no time to be distracted by romance — the empire’s monstrous army will tear through anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical founts. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.


Disciple, Part I is always free! 
AmazonB&N 

email me if you can't find it for free:
blankenship.louise at gmail dot com


Sunday, March 1, 2015

DISCIPLE, PART VI now on sale!


I started writing Disciple, Part I in August of 2011. Finished the first draft of Part VI in December of 2012. Published Part I September 2012. As of March, 2015, my series is complete...

Back cover
Two years ago, Kate was a peasant girl who only wanted to serve the saints of her kingdom as a healer during the war. Her gifts led her to cross paths with the crown prince and a ne’er-do-well knight — they shifted the path of her life and of the entire war.

All three of them paid a steep price for having met.

Kate spent a cold winter alone, re-forging her strength out of a deeply broken heart. She’s ready, as an elect, to stand beside her saints and go to war in ways no peasant girl could have dreamed.

She needs answers, she needs absolution, and she needs to discover what she’s truly capable of.

On sale at
Amazon • B&N • AllRomance
Paperbacks at Createspace

And announcing...
Disciple Omnibus
collecting all six books into one handy door-stop
on sale March 15, 2015!
in paperback and ebook


Hey, you also said that Disciple's prologue would be available at some point
Yup! I'm looking at how to put it on sale in late March.
Fire's First Kiss has only been available to Kickstarter supporters up to now -- never on sale through the usual channels -- and that will not change. I'll be selling it here on the blog for only a limited time!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Announcing DISCIPLE, PART VI

Back in October 2012, I clicked "Publish" on Disciple, Part I. I had only just started writing Part VI at the time. I knew there's be highs and lows in publishing the whole six part series -- and it's definitely had both. From my reviews at Amazon:

"Even though the story kept me delightfully entertained I kept banging my head wanting more explanation of why everything was happening."

"I definitely struggled at first to pick up and follow the complex names, places and religious system. However, after catching on I was drawn in. I rarely pay for digital books. I got part 1 free, and immediately after finishing I bought part 2 and will now be buying part 3. Worth it."

"This isn't the land of unicorns and fairy castles - characters die, nations war and spy and betray, and everything has a price to be paid. More than that, it's thoughtful, a fantasy that gets down to the nitty-gritty of figuring out the if/then that the premise implies, making for crunchy, satisfying fantasy fare."

"I loved the drama that kept me turning pages. Great book and I can't wait to read the next one."

I ran two Kickstarters. I had to find a new editor halfway through the series. Over 1500 Part I's got sold through Storybundle -- and none of them came back for Part II, near as I can tell. Five of the covers were done by the same artist and I wish he'd done the sixth (it's #2 actually) as well.

It's been two years since I've spoken to the main characters and now I'm trying to work on final revisions to Part VI.

Because it's time to finish this.

Disciple, Part VI
on sale 
March 1, 2015

to be followed by the
Disciple Omnibus
March 15, 2015

Get reminders, sneak peeks, 
and other special stuff

Back cover
Two years ago, Kate was a peasant girl who only wanted to serve the saints of her kingdom as a healer during the war. Her gifts led her to cross paths with the crown prince and a ne’er-do-well knight — they shifted the path of her life and of the entire war.

All three of them paid a steep price for having met.

Kate spent a cold winter alone, re-forging her strength out of a deeply broken heart. She’s ready, as an elect, to stand beside her saints and go to war in ways no peasant girl could have dreamed.

She needs answers, she needs absolution, and she needs to discover what she’s truly capable of.

Also announcing! 
I will be selling Disciple's prologue novella, Fire's First Kiss, for a limited time!

This story has only been available to Kickstarter supporters up to now. It will never be on sale through the usual online channels. Who knows when it'll be available again? Watch this space for more news!

Monday, February 2, 2015

FADE INTO ME by Charity Bradford

Back Cover
Caeden Frey doesn’t believe humans will evolve to see the magic, much less control it. Even so, he has two months to marry a human or face the wrath of the High Council. Bitter about a responsibility he thinks prevents him marrying for love, he figures any human girl will do. He’s ready to propose when his soul mate stumbles into—and right out of—his arms.

Human, Ryanne Killian might be Caedan’s one shot at happiness while still fulfilling his duty. Unfortunately, she guards a dark secret. She’s determined to push Caedan away to protect him from her past.

Caedan must convince her she’s worthy of his love before a rival family puts an end to his wedding plans. If she can see her own worth, she just might save herself and his people.

Excerpt
He walked to a desk near the back wall that I had completely overlooked. It was covered in paperwork and what appeared to be several glass cubes with bugs inside. Caedan found an old school rotary phone attached to the wall by the cord. It wouldn’t reach the couch so I joined him across the room.

“I haven’t seen one of those in forever.” I giggled as my emotions flipped switches again. Something was definitely wrong.

“Phillips is a bit old fashioned I guess.” He held the base while I dialed Heather’s number.

“Heather?”

“Ry? What’s up?” The radio played in the background, and I knew she was in her room.

“I was in an accident, but I’m okay.” Why did I tell her that? Now she would worry.

“What? What happened?” The radio clicked off.

“Nothing, I’m fine. I just wanted to let you know I’m waiting on the bus so I’ll be later than I thought.”

“No, I’ll come get you! Where are you?”

“I’m—” A wave of dizziness washed over me. Whatever I’d caught was making me see things. The colors were gone, but the room had gone fuzzy around the edges and started rolling like water lapping the sides of a pool.

“Ryanne?” Caedan’s arm shot out and his steadying hand gripped my elbow. “Are you all right?”

His deep voice rumbled in my ear. The vibrations toured my body and landed in my toes. Or maybe my toes were just going numb? Whatever it was, I decided I liked the way I felt.

“Who’s that?” Heather’s voice shot up an octave. “Ry?”

“I like how you say my name.” The giggles escaped again. I clamped a hand over my mouth.

“Ry!” Heather was shouting now. “Who’s with you? Are you alone with him?”

“I think you need a doctor.” Caedan took the phone from my hand and cradled it against his ear. “Hello?”

The room stilled and quieted enough that I could hear the buzz of Heather’s angry voice over the line.

“Look, my name is Caedan Frey. I’ll make sure she’s taken care of. Don’t worry about anything.”

“What?” Something was wrong with my ears. Everything came in muffled waves. Did he say Caedan Frey, multi-millionaire and Life magazine’s number one bachelor of the year?

Caedan talked to Heather and eased us toward the desk. He set the clunky phone down, keeping contact with me the entire time. My body followed in spite of my growing distress.

The feel of money at the wedding made sense.

“Was that your sister?” My voice came out in a croak. “At the wedding?”

Caedan hesitated before answering me. “Yes, Sedonia’s my sister.”

“I’m so sorry! I really didn’t know. I never would have—” My mouth snapped shut. The last half hour had only been his way of avoiding a lawsuit. Nothing more. If I hadn’t stepped in front of his motorcycle he never would have noticed me.

“Ryanne?” Caedan reached for my hand. “Heather, she’ll call you soon.”

He hung up and caught me as I swayed. My stomach fluttered as a jolt ran through me. Learning how unobtainable he really was had not removed the attraction I felt. I pressed my fist to my temple. A dull humming joined the ringing in my ears. I couldn’t think, but my mouth worked on autopilot.

“You don’t have to worry about the accident. I won’t sue or anything, you know. That’s not who I am.”

“Let me take you to the doctor.” He reached up and stroked my face. “Did you hit your head when you fell?”

“I don’t know.” I mumbled. What’s wrong with my lips?

My hand moved to touch them, but I couldn’t feel anything. Dark shadows gathered around the edges of my sight. A strange floating feeling overtook me. Somehow I knew Caedan was carrying me again.

“Do you know I’m in love with you?” I gasped then giggled as Caedan Frey, the supremely unattainable, set me in a waiting limo. “I’m not in love with you. I’m never going to fall in love.”

I rested my face against his neck and sobbed. For a brief moment I’d let myself pretend Prince Charming was real. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

My eyes were too heavy to keep open. Before falling asleep, I heard Caedan talking to someone.

“I’ve found her, but something’s wrong.”

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