DISCIPLE continues...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

HAWKS & RAMS on sale now!

Hawks & Rams 
by L. Blankenship
a m/m fantasy romance novella
ON SALE NOW! 
from Dreamspinner Press

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.

New goodies!
There's a map in the ebook, but chances are you're reading on a small screen and can barely see it. Here's a copy that you can embiggen and study at your leisure.

Readers of Disciple: this story takes place in a small stretch of the borderlands between Wodenberg and Suevia, about 50 years before the events in Disciple.

I also have a habit of including a character index in my self-published ebooks -- Disciple has a pretty big cast of characters, so it made sense. Hawks & Rams is much smaller, but my editor at Dreamspinner suggested an index and some pronunciation help. Here it is on Google Drive.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

TREASURES RETOLD: THE STEPMOTHER by Katharina Gerlach

Fairy tales are survivors. They've survived bowdlerizing and Disneyfication, they've been reinvented as urban fantasy and darkened into the nastiest of horrors. After all that, they still have the power to draw new writers to retool them for new readers... Katharina kindly answered some questions I had about the process.

Are you retelling these fairy tales in the same world, or in different ones?
They are all set in the same world. It is an environment where magic and science battle. Most of the time, magic loses, so there's less and less magic in the world. The kingdoms of that world are very differently developed. Some don't have much magic left at all while others have much more magic. This gives me the room to write anything from more traditional tales of magic and curses to stories with steampunkt settings.

Did you tailor the world to fit the story's needs, or vice versa? How?
The world grew as I wrote it. The first story I wrote in this series held many steampunk elements, and I loved it. Then, I began to ask myself, “How did it get like that?” That was the way the second and third story came into existence. I wrote the fourth because I wanted to handle my mother's favorite fairy tale.

Tell us about an aspect of the world that was just for the fun of it.
In the retelling of “The Beauty and the Beast” (due spring 2015), I used roses made from rubies. In the original tale, the rose is the reason Belle has to go to the Beast's castle, so I thought it a nice touch to have them show up in the retelling too. But then, they morphed into something more (you'll need to read the tale to find out). In “The Stepmother”, I couldn't resist bringing up secret passages (I love those). At first, they were only meant to be an easy way to get the siblings together, but then, they became a hiding place for something important... I think what I'm trying to say is that even if I create something “for fun” it always ends up becoming more or less important.

What's the next project that you have in the works?
I'm currently revising and translating the fourth novel in this series, a retelling of “The Hut in the Woods” by the Brothers Grimm. That's a lesser known story, and my mother's favorite. At the same time, I'm preparing my non-linear fantasy mystery for publication (but it's a long process), and plan the next novel I'm dying to write (well, not like dead dying... you know what I mean).
Somehow, each day could do with a couple more hours for me...

Back cover
Even with her powers as a witch, Isabel cannot find a trace of her stepchildren. Desperate, she crosses the Old Forest, filled with as much malignant as benevolent magic, to reach the distant mountain kingdom she left as a young girl when her magical powers manifested. She soon realizes that a sinister creature holds the unsuspecting kingdom in thrall. It will take all she's able to give to save her children and the kingdom she once loved. 

An imaginative retelling of “Little Brother, Little Sister” by the Brothers Grimm. What if they painted a wrong portrait of the stepmother?

About Katharina
Born and raised German with a generous helping of an adopted Scottish heritage, Katharina started writing at age seven (although she didn't get serious until much later) when the tomboy adventures she lived in her father's forest weren't enough for her imagination any more.

Writing about balloon people, flying hearts, giant spiders, and more was her lifeline to sanity and Real Life™ all through her education. After finishing with a PhD in science, marriage and the start of a beloved but distracting family, she returned to her life-long vocation.

These days, Katharina lives for stolen moments of writing happiness in two languages while juggling her husband, two girls in puberty, a fledgling daughter that just left the house, a dog, and … laundry.


Find her online: Homepage, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest

Monday, December 15, 2014

THE MERATIS TRILOGY by Krista Walsh


Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 17: Meratis Trilogy
Book One: Evensong
By Krista Walsh


Author Jeff Powell wakes up to find the impossible has happened. He is within his own novel—summoned into the fictional world of Feldall’s Keep by a spell he didn’t write. One the House enchantress hasn’t figured out how to reverse.

When the villain he’s been struggling to write reveals himself, unleashing waves of terror and chaos, Jeff must use more than his imagination to save the characters he created—and the woman he loves.

Trapped within a world of his own creation, he must step outside the bounds of his narrative to help his characters defeat an evil no one anticipated, even if he must sacrifice his greatest gift. In the end, he has to ask: are novels really fiction, or windows into other worlds?

Buy it from: Amazon, Kobo, Nook, iTunes
Or add it to Goodreads





ABOUT KRISTA WALSH
Known for witty, vivid characters, Krista Walsh never has more fun than getting them into trouble and taking her time getting them out. After publishing a few short stories and novellas in various anthologies, she has now released her own anthology, the serial collection Greylands. When not writing, or working at her day job, she can be found reading, gaming, or watching a film – anything to get lost in a good story. She currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Find Krista online: Website  Facebook  Twitter



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Monday, December 8, 2014

DISCIPLE, by L. Blankenship :)


Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 16: The Disciple Series by L. Blankenship


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 is a six-part gritty fantasy romance by L. Blankenship. Part I through Part IV are on sale now at all major retailers

Download PART I for free! 
FREE at AmazonSmashwordsB&N AllRomance

Disciple, Part V is on sale now



Look for the final volume, Part VI, in 2015!

EXCERPT:

“You couldn’t sleep either?”

At the whisper, I looked up from struggling to lace my boots with trembling hands. My master stepped into my dormitory room, adding his lamp’s light to my candle.

“Why must I dress as a boy?” I whispered back. Perhaps I was not so buxom, but I doubted I’d fool anyone. “This makes little sense.”

“Patience.” Master Parselev placed his lamp on my writing-table and checked my packed bags. “They’re gathering at the chapel already. None of us got much sleep, it seems.”

The straw mattress creaked when I stood, boots laced and the woolen hose sagging between my thighs. I ran my fingers around my waist, under my layered cotes, to check the drawstring. “Are these right, Master?” I’d strung the hose and braies together as best I could guess and as memory was my Blessing I had no excuse for failing. Men’s underthings weren’t much concern to me — if I saw such, or more, it was while the man lay bleeding on the surgery table.

“If they stay up, it’s right. Good. This too.” He slung a heavy felt cloak across my shoulders and pinned it on. The hood buried my face in shadows; my blonde braid, even wrapped around my head, would give me away.

I asked, “Master, this journey will be long, won’t it?” Parselev had given me more clothes than I’d ever owned to pack in those bags. All heavy winter woolens, too. “Shouldn’t you go, then?”

He looked down at me, mouth quirking to one side. Master was a greybeard, said to be over a hundred years old, but his kir kept his eyes bright and his face lightly creased. I had only been his apprentice two years. Surely I could not be ready for this.

“It must be you, Kate,” was all he said. He carried one of my bags, and I took the other.

Wreathed in breath-clouds, we crossed the Order’s campus. Low on the horizon, the slim, waxing crescent of the Shepherd hung golden, all seven of his Flock scattered in the sky behind him. He gave the only hint that dawn was coming. The cloak kept me marvelously warm, even in the chilly breeze. No frost this morning, not yet, but it was only a few weeks off.

Master un-bolted the side gate and led me to the door of the Grand Chapel. Horses waited on the grass, many horses chewing at their bits and shaking their heads, most of them with knights in the saddles. The knights’ black tabards, worn over suits of mail, had a white horse embroidered on the right shoulder and two gold stars on the left, marking them knights and Prince’s Guard as well. Kite shields and bucket helms hung on their saddles, in easy reach.

Several of the horses stood with empty saddles, collectively held by a couple of pageboys, and that gave me pause. I’d never been on a horse; I was only a peasant girl. But it could not be so awful, I told myself, so I gripped my cloak a little tighter and followed Master Parselev inside.

My new boots rang too loudly in the empty chapel, and when I slowed to lighten my step I fell behind. Only one lamp burned on the high table before the icons, and its light was mostly blocked by those gathered below the two steps. Faces were cast in shadow as they turned toward us — all looming in the dim light, some cloaked like me, others not — and I knew none of them. I kept my head down as I joined my master before them, glad the hood hid my face.

“Not ready, Elect?” one asked, his voice low but strong. “Who’s this?”

“My apprentice will safeguard the travelers,” my master answered. “She has —”

“What?” The man stepped closer, his shoulders blocking out the light.

“Majesty, she’s my finest student.” Parselev put up a hand when the stranger reached for my hood.

My knees trembled as the word echoed in my head. Majesty. I stood before the king of Wodenberg. Wobbling a bit, I dropped to one knee in obeisance, fist pressed to my heart. The king yanked off my hood while I stared at the flagstone floor, pulse pounding.

“This girl?” the king demanded. “You trust a mere disciple with this mission?”



ABOUT L. BLANKENSHIP
L. Blankenship started writing animal stories as a kid and it's just gotten completely out of hand since then. Now she's out publishing her gritty fantasy and hard science fiction adventures. L grew up in New Hampshire but currently lives near Washington, DC.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

THE DECEMBER PEOPLE by Sharon Bayliss


Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 15: The December People series
Book 1: Destruction
Book 2: Watch Me Burn
By Sharon Bayliss



Introducing a new dark wizard family drama, Destruction by Sharon Bayliss, Book One in The December People Series.
BUY NOW--99 CENTS FOR A LIMITED TIME!

An independent family-owned bookstore. The ONLY place to buy signed copies!

A locally owned book store in Austin, Texas.



David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without. 

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.  

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.


Destruction (Book One of The December People Series)



Cover Reveal!!
Watch Me Burn
The December People Series 
Book Two

David Vandergraff lost his home, his job, and contact with his oldest son, but remains determined to be a good husband and father despite being a dark winter wizard.

His resolve is tested when a flyer for a missing girl--who happens to be a summer witch--begins to haunt him. David believes a spell needs to use him to save her, so he follows the magic's command and looks into her disappearance. His teenage daughter Emmy resents him for caring so much about a random stranger. But when she uncovers some disturbing evidence close to home, she begins an investigation of her own.

David and Emmy quickly learn that the mystery is not only about a missing girl they barely know, but a deeply personal story that impacts everyone they care about. As their world crumbles, they fear the warning may be true—never mess with summer wizards, because the good guys always win.

Coming January 2015 from Curiosity Quills Press!




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sharon Bayliss is the author of The December People Series and The Charge. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.


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Sunday, November 30, 2014

BEGGAR MAGIC by H.L. Burke

Beggar Magic
A New Young Adult Fantasy from author H. L. Burke!
available December 9th, 2014

In Gelia City, magic is music: a constant ever-changing melody known as the Strains. Hereditary ability to use the Strains divides the city into two classes: the wealthy Highmost, who can access the full potential of the Strains, and the Common tradesmen, who are limited to mundane spells, known as beggar magic.

With the help of the Strains, Common teen Leilani rescues and befriends a gifted Highmost girl, Zebedy. The girls’ friendship opens Leilani’s eyes to the world of the Highmost. She’s intrigued by Zeb’s close relationship with the Strains, and longs to know them as she does. Zeb, in turn, comes to depend on Leilani’s strength and intelligence, making them an inseparable team, ready to take on anything with the Strains at their back.

As their unlikely friendship strengthens and endures, Zeb draws Leilani further into the Highmosts’ intrigues. Beneath the polished, academic facade of the Highmost manors lurks a threat to the Strains. An unknown force consumes their music, leaving only heart-rending silence behind.

Leilani and Zeb will do anything to save their beloved Strains, but as the silence grows, they face danger their previously sheltered lives could never prepare them for. Whoever is behind the death of the Strains is willing to kill to keep their secret safe. To preserve the Strains, the girls may have to sacrifice their friendship, or even their lives.

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Pre-order on Amazon 
Find H. L. Burke on 

Excerpt From Beggar Magic
From Chapter Two: Common girl Leilani is far from home, having stumbled upon lost Highmost girl, Zebedy, and gone out of the way to see her safely back to her boarding school. Leilani prepares to spend the night wrapped in the luxuries of the Highmost world.

Zebedy stopped by a door, identical to the others except for the number “9” carved into the top panel. She put her hand to the latch and pushed it open. Orange firelight surrounded them, and Leilani inhaled the comforting smell of woodsmoke. They stepped inside, and Zeb closed the door behind them.

“This is your room?” Leilani asked. She swallowed uncomfortably. Her entire family shared a living space not much bigger than this over her father’s shop. A great bed covered in fluffy looking quilts and four puffy pillows stood against the wall across from the fire. Along the wall opposite the door, a desk rested in the moonlight. Leilani’s feet sank into a thick rug. Someone had set up a cot in the middle of the floor, near enough to the fire to be bathed in light, but far enough away to be out of the reach of sparks.

Zeb crossed over and touched the wick of a lantern with her fingertips, setting it alight with the Strains. She replaced the glass shade over the flickering flame and turned up the wick so that the light fell over the desk.

Leilani watched in amazement. It seemed Zeb didn't even need to speak to the Strains to get them to do her bidding. They anticipated her desires. Could they read her thoughts? Was her connection to them that strong? What was it like to be Highmost?

Leilani cast her eyes from one luxury to another, letting out a long breath. Finally her eyes settled on the wooden bookshelf. She knelt in awe before this abundance of volumes and scanned the embossed titles.

“Do these books belong to Mistress Clavia?” she asked, concerned that the Mistress would entrust such treasures to the girl who had lost her shoe in the woods that day.

“Oh, no, all Mistress’s books are in the library downstairs. These are just the ones I brought from home, about the Strains mostly, though some are my favorite novels.”

“Novels?” Leilani exhaled. Mrs. Weaver had seen to it that all her children could read both Rynaran and Gelian, but books were considered too precious for children. Their family owned two: an ancient tome of Rynaran homeopathic medicine, which had seen their family through many bouts of fever and flu, and the Sanctified Texts, a collection of spiritual works the Sanctified Brothers liked to distribute, even to the poorest families. Leilani had read them both multiple times, though the spines spanned from her little finger to her thumb.

“Yes, novels.” Zeb sat beside Leilani with her legs crossed beneath her. She eased one of the thinner volumes off the shelf. “This is my absolute favorite: The Venture of Sir Marcel. It has a dragon and a Highmost who sings the dragon into submission and flies him to rescue a princess. There are some ‘kissy bits’ at the end, but the best parts are all the fighting and flying and magic. Have you read it?”

“No.”

“You should. Here, you can borrow it.” Zeb held the book out to Leilani who instinctively drew back.

She stared at the red leather cover with fancy golden letters proclaiming the title and author. What did such a book cost?

Zeb’s face fell and her freckled nose reddened. “I'm sorry. Do you not like to read?”

“No, it's just . . . if I borrow it, how will I get it back to you?” Leilani dropped her eyes, unwilling to admit that taking responsibility for something as wonderful as that book frightened her.

“I visit my parents once a month in the city. Maybe you can come visit me then.” Zeb pushed the novel at her. “Besides, I know the story front to back. I don’t suppose I will need to read it again. Maybe when I'm old. Old people can be forgetful, and I would hate to forget how to sing to a dragon with the Strains.”

This knowledge, while amusing, didn’t strike Leilani as particularly useful, dragons being fictional, but she relented and took the book.

Zeb meandered across the room and sat upon the bed. She gazed at Leilani, opened her mouth, shut it again, then averted her eyes.

Leilani frowned. “What?”

Zeb cleared her throat. “There's a question I like to ask people, but . . . I've never asked a Common person before, and I don't want you to take it the wrong way. I promise I ask everybody. Well, everybody I like, anyway.”

Leilani narrowed her eyes. “What is it?”

“What do the Strains sound like to you?”

Leilani bit the inside of her bottom lip. “You ask everybody that? It seems kind of personal.”

“I just like to know. Everyone I've ever asked hears them a little differently. My parents, for instance, Father says they sound like a man's voice, and they are very stern at times, never musical, but Mother, they talk to her like a child and giggle and sing all the time. Do Common people talk about them?”

Leilani nodded. “Sometimes. We don't hear them alike either. I mean, often they have the same mood, like if the Strains sound happy to me, they probably sound happy to everyone else in the room too.”

“I've noticed that! I think they talk to each other.”

“They don't have a constant sound to me. I guess that's kind of odd. My other family members talk about whistling or flutes or birdsong even, but it's consistent for them. For me, it changes moment to moment. Sometimes they are instruments, other times voices, never with words, but just sort of humming.”

Zeb's face lit up. “That's kind of like me! I mean, most Highmost I've talked to hear only one voice, but I swear I sometimes hear five or six all talking together.”

Leilani reached up and pulled a few hairpins out of her bun, freeing her hair. “Have they ever told you what they are?”

Zeb's brow furrowed.

Leilani cleared her throat. “I mean . . . the Sanctified Texts say they are messengers from the Maker, you know, sent to guide and protect us, but sometimes . . . I can always hear the Strains, but sometimes they don't seem to hear me.”

Zeb lowered her eyes. “No, they always hear me.”

“Forget it.” Leilani turned away. What had possessed her to compare her Strains experience with a Highmost? Of course Zeb never felt like the Strains couldn't hear her.

“They don't like to talk about what they are, exactly,” Zeb said. “It's frustrating how they dodge questions sometimes, but I can tell when they like people, and they really seem to like you.”

Leilani whirled around and eyed the other girl, half thinking Zeb was making fun of her. However, Zeb's eyes looked sincere, apologetic even.

“I didn't mean to . . . I mean, I've never had a Common friend before. We don't have to talk about the Strains anymore, if you don't want to.”

“It's fine. I'm tired, though.” Leilani rubbed at her eyes, which itched and watered. Her gaze fell longingly onto the cot. The skin of her forehead tightened. It had been an impossible day, in both length and content. The Strains hummed in what could almost be considered a lullaby.

Monday, November 24, 2014

THE BOUND TRILOGY by Kate Sparkes


Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 14: The Bound Trilogy
Book One: Bound
By Kate Sparkes


Welcome to Darmid, where magic is a sin, fairy tales are contraband, and the people live in fear of the Sorcerers on the other side of the mountains.

Rowan Greenwood has everything she's supposed to want from life—a good family, a bright future, and a proposal from a handsome and wealthy magic hunter. She knows she should be content with what she has. If only she could banish the idea that there's more to life than marriage and children, or let go of the fascination with magic she's been forced to suppress since childhood.

When Rowan unknowingly saves the life of one of her people’s most feared enemies, that simple act of compassion rips her from her sheltered life and throws her into a world of magic that’s more beautiful, more seductive, and more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.

Rowan might get everything she ever dreamed of—that is, if the one thing she's always wanted doesn't kill her first.

Buy it from: Amazon  Kobo  Barnes & Noble  iBooks
Or add it to Goodreads

ABOUT KATE SPARKES
Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, three cats with more personality than most people she meets, and the saddest-looking dog on the planet. Depression has almost consumed her more times than she likes to admit, but writing Fantasy (be it epic or urban, fairy tales or superhero cat stories) keeps her afloat… most of the time. She released her debut novel Bound (Ya Fantasy) in June 2014. The second book in the trilogy is due out in the winter.

Find Kate online: Blog  Sparrowcat Press  Facebook  Twitter


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