DISCIPLE continues...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CALLISTO'S GHOST now on sale

Now on sale! 



Back Cover
Shen took the long way home to Jupiter's moons. He got lost in a dark world of slavery for years and it left scars on his soul. In earning his freedom, he picked up an assortment skills useful in certain parts of society and became a ghost in the machine. Shen gave his loyalty to those who showed him kindness and now he has to take on his toughest job yet to keep them safe: breaking into the powerful surveillance corporation that’s already looking for him.

Lena cut a deal with that same corporation to escape court-ordered mental reprogramming. The deal brought her out to Jupiter’s Callisto colony and put her to work tracking ghosts, but no hacker fits into cubicle life well. As she's chafing under the terms, she's handed a new hunt: someone who’s been eluding them for years.

But he’s worth more to her as an escape from slavery — if they both survive.

This is #1 of 3. #2 coming later this year!
Join my mailing list for reminders!

Also by L. Blankenship... 
Disciple
a gritty fantasy series
available everywhere in six volumes or one Omnibus
Email me for a free copy if you can't find it.

 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cover reveal and sample scene for CALLISTO'S GHOST


a hard science fiction adventure novella
#1 of 3
preorder now at Amazon!

on sale March 15, 2016
only through Amazon & Kindle Unlimited

Back Cover
Shen took the long way home to Jupiter's moons. He got lost in a dark world of slavery for years and it left scars on his soul. In earning his freedom, he picked up an assortment skills useful in certain parts of society and became a ghost in the machine. Shen gave his loyalty to those who showed him kindness and now he has to take on his toughest job yet to keep them safe: breaking into the powerful surveillance corporation that’s already looking for him.

Lena cut a deal with that same corporation to escape court-ordered mental reprogramming. The deal brought her out to Jupiter’s Callisto colony and put her to work tracking ghosts, but no hacker fits into cubicle life well. As she's chafing under the terms, she's handed a new hunt: someone who’s been eluding them for years.

But he’s worth more to her as an escape from slavery — if they both survive.

Sample Scene
Shen didn’t mind Jezebel’s fetish parties, so long as he was only part of the scenery. The favorite band for the Victorian-costume bondage ones was a local dark-ambient trio whose stage costumes blended right in with the bustled skirts and leather. Half the audience was local to Callisto Station and the other half was tele-presence holograms from across the colonized system.

The black, blood-red, and indigo costumes all ran together, if one’s eyes lost focus from boredom.

Jezebel herself held court from a regal chair on a low dais, two steps above the dance floor. A Victorian corset tightly laced with silver cords dished up her generous cleavage and left her shoulders bare. Her hair, swept into a rising spiral, made a wooly nest for a small top hat and a starched, glittering veil. Her newest submissive, Charles, knelt by her feet in a collar and tight shorts. He leaned against the piled yards of her black vinyl skirt and kept his cheek glued to her thigh in devotion. Jez stroked his hair with one hand as she watched the slow waltz below.

Shen stood on her other side, hands clasped behind his back. Latecomers, whether real or hologram, were escorted to the dais by Estevan and announced in singles or couples. Familiar faces, all. Jez only dealt in well-established fetish societies with a taste for costumes — she had established several of them herself.

“Your fans are out tonight,” Jezebel told Shen, sidelong. She wore an earpiece with a retina projector on a slender wire, though it was half lost in the veil. “They want you here more often, with more harness.”

In the attendance list, he was tagged only as Indenture #23. Which was his official designation at Jezebel’s club, even though he’d paid off his indenture last year. Estevan had dressed him in a snug, long-sleeved shirt with a tall Victorian collar and dark, pleated pants. He knew better than to try putting shoes on Shen. Jezebel had roped him up with dark blue silk to match his hair, in a tight array of knots and cross-lacing that looked like some beaded breastplate the native chucks back on the blue mudball used to wear. Nice weight, but it didn’t even have a crotch line to secure it. This was only a party, though. Easy.

Movement in the upper corner of the room caught Shen’s eye. The small status window that Colin kept open flashed white and red: TROUBLE. Jez straightened in her chair, ear cocking as Colin told her details. The status window changed to: MEI-XING.
Holograms winked out, on the dance floor. The band faltered and so did the remaining waltzers.

The double doors opened, as the bouncers knew better than to get in the way of Mr. Chen’s daughter. Estevan took one look at her and moved to gather up the guests. Mei-xing plowed across the dance floor with arms crossed, scattering genteel doms and subs as much with her slouchy neon shirt as with her frown. Wasn’t wearing even one of the frilly, modern corsets that were in fashion now. Her bodyguard kept pace.

“You broke the deal,” Mei-xing fired off in Chinese. “He broke the deal.” She pointed at Shen.

His teeth clenched on reflex. “You got what you wanted.”

Mei-xing took the first step up to the dais and Shen slid in front of Jez. He’d never sparred with Mei but Chen must’ve had her taught something. The bodyguard behind her was low-gee, a Chinese booter. Lower gee than Shen, by his light build.

He’d be fast. She’d hit hard. Radovan better be ready as backup.

Jezebel, working from Colin’s translation in her ear, answered in calm English. “My indenture acted honorably within the bounds of the agreement.”

“He defied me,” Mei stated flatly, pointing at Shen. “Your indenture. Defied me.”
He clenched his fists tight, lip curling, but felt his harness on the first deep breath he took.

“I offered clearly defined services,” Jez replied. “My indenture acted on discretion to best fulfill them.”

“My father faces a court. He will remember forever who acted on his behalf and whose underlings let a chance to aid him slip by. And so will I.” She fixed Jez with a hard stare. “You run this whorehouse too lax to turn the profit you could. It hasn’t been the investment we hoped for. All we need to do is say we’re withdrawing our support. Think the Russians you jilted would take you back?”

Shen shot a glance at Jez. The switch from Russian affiliation to the triad had left a body count.

“You will do no such thing,” Jezebel replied, raising her chin.

“Free job, my choosing,” Mei said.

“Your father had more honor than to complain about a job well done.”

That curled Mei’s lip back into a snarl. “My father will walk out of that court free or this place will be gutted in an hour.” Mei gestured sketchily around herself. Then she fixed her gaze on Shen. “I can offer Station Security one of the chucks at the top of their wanted list.”

That plunged his temper into a deep freeze. Jezebel straightened in her ornate chair and shot him a sidelong glare. He felt the shame burn on his face. Shen had sworn to never keep secrets from her. Didn’t know that Mei knew he’d been involved in the brief booter uprising, though. A dozen old arguments from three years ago flooded back into his chest, flailing against his ribs in panic. A decorative little harness was barely enough to hold them. Which made his fists clench, nails digging into his palms. Containment. Focus.

Jez’s voice was spring-steel tight when she answered Mei. “Name your job.”

Mei smiled. “Oh, I will. Sorry, was that a surprise?”

“It’s a matter between me and my indenture. He’ll be chastised.”

That got a laugh. Shen swallowed hard to be sure his throat was clear. He could barely breathe. Needed to punch that smirk off Mei’s face. Fuck that booter beside her, he was a fly at worst. Shen could feel the attack in his muscles, itching to be unleashed.

“No wonder Shen didn’t have the balls to fuck me. You keep them tied up?” Mei’s head tipped and her voice turned syrupy-sweet. “Jezebel, don’t you share your toys?”

Jez took a bored sigh. “I collar my toys, dear girl.” At a nudge, Charles ventured out of hiding behind her skirts far enough to show his badge of ownership. “And don’t mock Shen’s harness — it’s what’s keeping him from killing you.”

Jez set her chin on one hand and waited as that stole Mei’s smirk away. Her bodyguard shifted closer, tensed to defend her. That took the edge off Shen’s anger. He almost smiled, but he was clenched too tight.

After a long minute, Mei-xing said, “We’ll be in touch.” She turned and walked away, bodyguard in tow. When the doors opened for her, Radovan stood outside to see her out.

Estevan had herded the guests close to the stage, and the band had taken up a surprisingly gentle and romantic tune to distract them. He tracked Mei’s leaving and looked to Jez for the nod. She gave it. He invited the guests to spread out for a slow dance.

“I’m sorry,” Shen said quietly.

Jez raised one finger. “No.”

He pressed his mouth shut. Silence followed. After a moment, Charles sat up to rest his chin on Jez’s thigh. “Mistress? How can I help?”

She considered and gestured toward a side door. “Fetch whatever toys you’d like.” When Charles had trotted off eagerly, Jez turned to Shen.

“Chen’s lackeys turned us away,” he said. Had to. It burst out of him. “Never knew word got higher than that.”

Jez gave his apology a slight nod. “Do what they ask. Don’t let her goad you past your boundaries. There was a time what that wouldn’t’ve stopped you.” She indicated the brief harness. “You’ve come too far to slip now.”

preorder now at Amazon!

Also available...
Disciple, my six-part gritty fantasy series!


Disciple, Part I is always free! 
Amazon • B&N 

email me if you can't get Part I for free and I will send it to you:


blankenship.louise at gmail dot com

Friday, December 25, 2015

Back from the void

So I kinda fell off the blogosphere. Ran out of things to say, lots of distractions, insert list of excuses here.

But now there's news.

Announcing...
a hard science fiction adventure novella
#1 of 3
on sale March 15, 2016
only through Amazon & Kindle Unlimited

Cover Reveal & Preorders Begin
February 15, 2016

Back Cover
Shen took the long way home to Jupiter's moons. He got lost in a dark world of slavery for years and it left scars on his soul. In earning his freedom, he picked up an assortment skills useful in certain parts of society and became a ghost in the machine. Shen gave his loyalty to those who showed him kindness and now he has to take on his toughest job yet to keep them safe: breaking into the powerful surveillance corporation that’s already looking for him.

Lena cut a deal with that same corporation to escape court-ordered mental reprogramming. The deal brought her out to Jupiter’s Callisto colony and put her to work tracking ghosts, but no hacker fits into cubicle life well. As she's chafing under the terms, she's handed a new hunt: someone who’s been eluding them for years.  

But he’s worth more to her as an escape from slavery — if they both survive.

Where've I been?
After I finished publishing my Disciple series back in the spring of 2015, I skipped my traditional autumn release. My writing has been erratic over the year (if you follow my Twitter updates, you've seen that) but I've been hacking away at it.

I hope you'll join me on this foray into hard science fiction. This is a set of three stories that have been patiently waiting for their turn in the spotlight.

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.

Buy Links


Contact Links

Website • Blog • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads

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


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