Ideas for books can come from anywhere. Annabelle came from a figurine made of starched doilies. Soul Bearer came from a dream and a character floating around in my head.
But Allmother Rising sprang from the same strange well that A Heart of Salt & Silver came from.
Anxiety and an inability to fall asleep.
Basically, there’s this thing I do when I can’t sleep. I close my eyes and just picture a random character, sometimes two. Then, I just let the scene fill in around them.
It gives my mind something to focus on, drawing my attention away from the million things my anxiety is grasping at and holding my focus in one place.
That helps me relax, which helps me sleep.
If I like them or their scene, I come back to them the next night.
If I like the character but not the scene, I let them live in my brain for a while until I find a world for them.
That’s what happened with Aurisye from Soul Bearer. I liked her but the world I’d pictured wasn’t right. So I kept her until I found a world for her.
Aurisye was an outsider, so filling in the world around her took a little longer.
But Veliana of Allmother Rising is so much a part of her world that the scene that filled in around her was perfect. She is connected to all of it. The history of her world, her goddess, the animals, the trees all around… She’s connected to every last bit.
And when Tyrvahn waltzed into that scene, he fit too, connected in a different way.
After only a couple nights of thinking about their scene, I started writing. I had to tweak that initial scene, of course, once I learned about Veliana’s broken heart and Tyrvahn’s recent losses. The way they saw each other shifted, and I had to reflect that.
But the bare bones of how they met were born in anxiety and sleepless nights. And once I wrote that scene, the rest of the story followed quickly on its heels.
Now, I did have to go back a bit first. There were scenes I had to add to explain why they were both in an abandoned temple in the middle of the forest.
But only a few chapters.
So chapter (THREE OR FOUR, CHECK!) Is what started the book.
As I wrote their journey to save their Realm, we found Garle and Kivala somewhere along the way. They made the whole picture complete, filling in gaps I didn’t even realize were there until we found them.
All together, they made the book complete.
I’ll be going live on release day (Tuesday May 25th) at 3pm Eastern for a reading of the scene that inspired the whole book and for a Q&A session.
Don’t forget to order your copy while the ebook is on sale! It’ll be 99 cents until June 1st.
Hardbacks are also available, and paperbacks will be soon.
You can find it on Amazon here and add it on Goodreads here.
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I don’t normally have a lot of animals in the forefront of my books, something I’ve only realized recently. They’re there, and they play their role. But only on occasion are they major players in the plot.
Allmother Rising is one of those occasions. This book features animal companions. Specifically…
Mares and bears and wolves, oh my!
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Anyway, the book features companion animals whose energies have been tied to certain families by their goddess as both a gift and a way to further connect them to her. (See this post for more about those ties and the Allmother.)
And these aren’t just normal animals. They’re about two or three times the size of their normal cousins and have increased strength, endurance, and intelligence.
The leaders of Fahn were tied to Bears. The leaders of Jun were tied to Mares. And the leaders of Kin were tied to Dire Wolves.
But now, only Kin retains that connection to their companions.
Though to be fair, Fahn didn’t choose to sever their bond as Jun did.
The people of Jun moved beyond the sacred forest into the plains and the rocky shorelines to the north. But that took them beyond the Allmother’s reach and into the waiting arms of Aia, a greedy, jealous god.
He pushed them to crave power, to crave wealth and ‘progress’ even at the cost of the world around them. They cut down trees without replanting, severing their tie to the Allmother, and he tightened his grip on their hearts.
The Mares, companions to the royal family, were highly coveted. The common people wanted Mares of their own, wanted beasts to do the work of seven normal animals, creatures that could carry them faster, further.
And they became items used to show favor or for trade.
Slowly, the royal family whittled away their connection to the Mares until finally, they traded away the last one and the final bond broke.
But Aia already controlled their hearts, and ensured that they never felt the loss for what it truly was. They saw only the power those trades afforded them, not the connection severed with nature and more importantly, the Allmother’s realm.
After generations of intermingling with normal horses, their wondrous size and stamina diminished, and the great Mares were no more, lost to the greed of Aia and corrupted mortals.
As for the people of Fahn, they revered their bears, treated them well.
Until the Absorption.
In the middle of the night, Jun invaded Fahn lands, burning their homes and cutting down their trees. The leaders were killed, severing the connection and turning the people into refugees. They ran from the fires, from the bloodshed. They hid in Jun, painting their antlers to disguise themselves. They lived in plain sight within the borders of Kin.
And the bears still roam the woods, waiting, hoping for a new connection.
But now, a new king has claimed the throne of Jun, shedding the blood of his family and sending assassins after his nephew to do so. And his sights are set on Kin.
Veliana, the Priestess Rising, loves her dire wolf companion, Tala.
But if Jun absorbs her lands, there may be nothing left of the pack. Or Kin.
Since the grand prize winner of the Allmother Rising preorder giveaway will receive a free ebook copy of one of my other books (in addition to the swag pack), I wanted to share excerpts from each one to help you pick.
In case you found this blog before seeing the post about the giveaway, I’ll be choosing three winners on release day, May 25th, 2021.
Two winners will receive a sticker, magnet, and signature plate (all custom designed for Allmother Rising), as well as three bookmarks (one for A Heart of Salt & Silver, one for World for the Broken, and one of my special author bookmarks).
The grand prize winner will receive all of the above plus a free ebook copy of one of my previous books (their choice of which one).
All it takes to enter is to send me confirmation of your preorder. Screenshots are acceptable. (Please, crop/blur/draw over/block out all account info.) If you haven’t preordered yet, you can do so here.
Now that the official stuff is out of the way, it’s time for some excerpts to help you decide on a book.
A Heart of Salt & Silver Dark Paranormal High Fantasy Romance
Rising to my feet, I prepare to leave the tavern, ready to forsake my empty stomach. After all, we haven’t seen these beasts since the revolution, and their creation can’t bode well. We need to find them and dispatch them.
But worry creases Alina’s brow.
“Please,” she begs. “At least eat, first.”
Her words echo in Ness’ voice, reverberating in my mind, and for a second, I’m not in the dark, musty tavern. I’m in Ness’ cottage, just about to eat. My bones shiver, and I rise to the call. I don’t know if Orwen and Nissa will need me, specifically, but I can’t shrug off the possibility.
I didn’t know at the time that one of our commuter members had nearly been killed in Roarn. I didn’t know that it was part of a bigger tension between Roarn and another city-state. I just knew trouble was brewing, and I needed to help.
For me, not for anyone else. I needed to help.
“Please,” I can still hear Ness say, voice so small I could barely hear it. “At least eat, first.”
But I left.
Her face, downtrodden and misty-eyed as I held her close, kissing her goodbye, pierces my heart.
Now, in this little tavern, many years too late to fix the hurt in Ness’ heart as I rushed off to play hero for the hundredth time, I sit back down.
“Thank you,” Alina says.
But this isn’t for her.
If I’m ev’r goin’ ta get Ness back, I have ta learn ta be… present.
My eyes close, shutting out the shaking in my bones as the howls roll through me. I grit my teeth against the pain gnawing at my heart.
As if I’ll ev’r get her back…
Soul Bearer Dark High Fantasy Romance Free in KU
Spinning slowly, Aurisye looks at everything around her. Chaos rules the land as the great red beast rules the air. Another roar threatens to shatter her eardrums, quickly followed by another stream of fire as the dragon flies overhead, so close that Aurisye could count its scales if it would only hold still.
She reaches out, passes a hand through the tip of its tail as it passes her. The dragon roars so loudly that, for a moment after, the world loses all sound. A high-pitched ringing sound punctuates everything, chasing away the screams and the crashing of buildings falling in upon themselves.
Up above, the dragon executes a perfect hair-pin turn and rockets itself toward Aurisye. Yellow eyes shining in the firelight, it stares straight at her, the only being here capable of seeing her. Each flap of its wings fans the fires all around, sending them climbing even higher into the atmosphere. Jaw dropping, it prepares to launch a blazing assault on Aurisye.
In an instant, she snaps back into her body, sitting bolt upright on the roof of her cottage. Her chest heaves with choppy breaths, pulling nothing but panic into her lungs. Her heart races, and she puts a hand to her chest to calm it.
Only then does she notice the soft red light coming from the mark on her arm. Her world goes cold. She pulls the sleeve of her jacket down to cover it, hoping it didn’t draw any undue attention.
World for the Broken Dark (and I mean dark) Post-Apocalyptic Romance
“So, you’re just giving those antibiotics to me? And helping me…without expecting anything in return?” I ask, allowing some of my skepticism to show through.
“No. I’m asking for something.”
Chloe’s response unsettles me and eases my mind at the same time. After all, it is the end of the world. Everyone expects something in return. For some reason, I’d just been hoping she was better than that.
Somewhat wary, I ask, “What do you want?”
“Don’t make me regret this.”
Five very simple words, ordinary in every way and wholly within reason. But something in her eyes makes me believe she’s taking a much bigger chance on me than just helping out a stranger in the apocalypse.
The Gem of Meruna Dark High Fantasy Romance Free in KU
Dropping her pack beside the river, she washed her food in the cool water and settled down to eat. With no bowl, she used the bottom of her shirt to hold the fruit and vegetable mixture. Yet again, she found herself wishing other Leey could know such peace. She quickly ate her words, though.
In the distance, she heard the sounds of something walking through the forests. She couldn’t tell what it was, but she knew it was somewhere across the river. Dumping the remaining fruits and vegetables into a pocket of her pack, she slung it over her shoulder and scurried out of sight.
Heart pounding against her ribs, she ducked behind the bushes surrounding a young tree. She dared steal a glance across, saw only rustling underbrush, and decided to climb as far into the tree as she could. The lowest branch was barely within reach when she jumped, and she struggled to haul her light frame into the branches. She didn’t stop climbing until she was several branches higher, and still, she hesitated to peer across the river.
Much to her surprise, what emerged from the bushes on the other side wasn’t a Chalkie. Yet, her relief was minor, for she couldn’t expect this Leey to be friendly. She knew to keep her guard up, stay hidden, and wait in the tree as long as need be.
Even if it meant camping there for the night.
Annabelle Vigilante Justice Thriller (set in a Western) Free in KU
I walk along the main road of another dirty western town and sashay past the saloon, knowing my prey follows close behind. My silken yellow dress and all of its lace flows behind me, trailing in the dust.
I hear him getting closer but pretend to be so absorbed in the folds of my parasol that I don’t notice. Really, I’m checking over the mechanisms concealed within it, making sure that everything is in working order.
I turn down a bare alleyway as the sun begins to dip below the horizon. He follows. Still, I pretend not to notice that anything at all is amiss. A smile spreads across my features.
Whew. That was a lot more than I expected when I got the idea for this blog. Lol.
Every book listed is a standalone, though I’ll be writing another book in the same world as A Heart of Salt & Silver in the future, and The Gem of Meruna is in the same universe as my current WIP, The Regonia Chronicles.
Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.
Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.
Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).
There’s nothing better than discovering a new author but often we discover those new authors by recommendation. Below, in no particular order, are some authors I have recently discovered and thought you might enjoy!
Beth Linton lives in North Wales and loves books, coffee, growing things and her young ‘un. Ana is her debut paranormal romance and is the first of a series (books 2 and 3 are due out soon). If you want a romance that has passion, shapeshifters and an almost magical connection with Mother Nature then this story will hook you.
Some women are born identical – one in the human world, one in the jungle of the Other Realm. It is their fate to change places. In The Guardians’ Trust series Doubles embrace their fate with the men born for them…
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU LEARNT THERE WERE TWO OF YOU?
Dr Ana Jones learns it is her destiny to leave the human world and cross into an Amazonian realm to join the Resistance who are fighting for survival – a fate that is akin to stepping back in time… no iPads, running water or underwear! A Double, one of a pair of identical women born by Mother Nature to swap places, she must cross into an Amazonian world to join the Resistance who are fighting for survival within the Other Realm and marry a stranger to help them win the war.
HE WAS BORN FOR HER
A warrior, leading the Resistance is Brenin’s life but Ana is his fate. Brenin embraces his marriage, and the shapeshifting gift his mating brings, but will her love be enough to help both man and panther survive the war?
Carrie Pulkinen is an author of spicy, haunting romances. Like me, she is fuelled by coffee. She loves her dog and the worlds she creates in her series. We share a similar fascination with shapeshifters which is what first attracted me to her books – If you like sexy shifters and fated mates, you’ll love this thrilling paranormal romance.
Macey doesn’t know she’s hunting demons.
Luke is making sure she never discovers the truth.
Detective Macey Carpenter has been on the trail of a vicious attacker for weeks. The evidence keeps disappearing, and it seems she’ll never solve the case. Finding love is the least of her worries, but she can’t deny her attraction to a mysterious man who knows more about the crimes than he should.
A man who may be more than he seems…
When Luke falls head over tail for the feisty human detective, supernatural secrets aren’t the only things at stake.
He has to mate with another werewolf or he’ll sacrifice his position as alpha. But as heat builds between the pair, he discovers Macey has a few secrets of her own.
She may hold the key to ridding New Orleans of its demons…
But his feelings for her will tear his pack apart.
Mae Harden is an author of contemporary romances and, talented lady that she is, she also co-hosts a podcast. Harden started her love of romance by reading Harlequin just as I did and she shares my enjoyment of writing strong female characters. Her novel, Stripped Down is definitely going into my TBR pile. Hot!
Contractor. Loner. Stripper? Not usually, but I’ll do anything to get the Bachelorette party in the room next door to settle down. All I want is a good nights sleep so I can focus on work. I never expected my entire world to shift when she opens the hotel door with her wide green eyes and sweet vanilla scent.
She’s just in town for the party, there’s no way I can have her. I certainly shouldn’t have pinned her against the wall and kissed her on my way out. After all, it’s not like I’ll ever see her again, right?
Baking is my thing. Running a successful, expanding business is my thing. Bachelorette parties are not. Surprise strippers even less so. But I’m pretty sure this guy isn’t really a stripper and if he is, he’s pretty bad at it.
On the other hand, he’s very very good at kissing. I’ll never see him again but at least I’ll have something to fantasize about when I’m baking muffins tomorrow morning.
A. R. Grosjean is an author of multiple genres including Fantasy, Romance, Suspense, and more. She describes herself as ‘a head in the clouds kind of author’. I have chosen this book as not only is it the first in this series but you can also get the e-book for free when you sign up for her newsletter. Her new novel Stolen is out in October and sounds like a great read. Read an excerpt here.
Sadira Stone writes contemporary romance set in the Pacific Northwest and this novel is book 3 of her Nirvana series. Stone is a star because she not only writes great romance stories but she also promotes fellow writers as well.
She’s a free spirit. He’s a one-woman man.
Rejected by her family for her bisexuality, graphic artist Margot DuPont yearns for a life with no fences, no limits, and no family ties. Between college, work at Book Nirvana, and an art competition, she barely has time for her part-time girlfriend much less a flirtation with her competitor.
Dumped into the foster system at a young age, ceramics artist Elmer Byrne craves a big, loving family of the heart. His artist tribe almost fills that need, but something is missing…until Margot. But when he offers his heart, her thorny defences shatter him.
Thrown together in an art competition that could jump-start one artist’s career, but not both, their irresistible attraction forces them to reconsider the meaning of success.
Mckenna Dean’s Instagram profile hooked me from the start: she loves putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are – like tea bags, she says, only sexier. Romance, heat and humour all promised within one sentence! Her style is slow burn, crockpot paranormal.
Redclaw Origins: The year is 1955. Rebel without a Cause and The Seven Year Itch are playing in the movie theatres. The Chevy Bel Air is the most popular car in America. Gas is 25 cents a gallon and you can get a hotel room for $4 bucks. This flirty, fun series takes us back to the beginning and shows us how Redclaw Security got started.
Bishop Takes Knight (Redclaw Origins Book 1)
New York, 1955. Former socialite Henrietta (“Rhett”) Bishop, desperately seeking work, gets hired by Redclaw Security. But Redclaw is no ordinary operation. Part detective firm and part enforcement agency, Redclaw regulates matters involving the growing population of shifters who have emerged since the onset of the nuclear age.
Peter Knight is a nuclear scientist shattered by the death of his wife. Blacklisted by the government and scientific organizations, he drowns his sorrows while searching for the people behind his wife’s murder.
Together they form an unlikely partnership to search for a missing cache of mysterious technology stolen from Redclaw. But when a dangerous person from the past turns up to start a bidding war on the artifacts, Bishop and Knight wind up in a fight for their very lives.
Elexis Bell writes books that sweep you off your feet, and tie you to the chair. Her style is romance sprinkled across high fantasy, sci-fi and post-apocalyptic novels. Whatever you chose to read of hers, they are always dark. Fans of gritty fiction, compelling romance, and imaginative takes on magic and the afterlife will love this dark paranormal high fantasy romance. A Heart of Salt and Silver (out November 3rd) is available for pre-order.
Ness, a demi-demon with a conscience, just wanted a peaceful afternoon in the Forest of Immortals. But Elias, a reckless mortal, went and spoiled it. Not that he wanted to be chased by psychotic vampires.
After saving his life, Ness agrees to help him find his estranged father and his Pack. But that means facing Nolan, the werewolf ex that holds her heart.
Now, Ness must decide. Use Elias to forget Nolan at the cost of his soul or crawl back to her ex and hope he still wants her even though she broke his heart.
But when the vampires come calling, broken hearts might be the least of their worries.
Lynsay Sands is a New York Times Best Selling author. Her stories are packed with not only romance but wit and humour. For both steam and a good laugh, her books are gold. Sands says that this story is much sexier than many of her others. Enjoy!
Lady Dwyn Innes feels utterly out of place among the eligible women who’ve descended on Buchanan Keep, vying for the attention of the last unmarried brothers. She isn’t long-legged and slender like her sisters, or flirtatious and wily like other lasses. Since her betrothed died, Dwyn has resigned herself to becoming an old maid. Yet a chance encounter with a stranger in the orchard awakens her to a new world of sensation and possibility…
After weeks away, Geordie Buchanan returns to find his home swarming with potential brides, thanks to his loving but interfering family. But one lass in particular draws his attention from the moment he spies her climbing a tree. Lady Dwyn is not nearly as plain as she thinks. Her lush figure and eager kisses delight him, as does her honesty. But the real test lies ahead: eliminating a hidden enemy, so that he and Dwyn can seal their Highland passion with a vow.
Monica McCarthy is a lawer and a hugely succesful author. Many of her books are historical and based in Scotland and, believe it or not, it was writing a legal paper on the Scottish Clan System that led to her love of Scotland.
At eighteen, Annie MacGregor thought the worst thing that could happen to her was a broken heart. But she was wrong. Caught in the crossfire of warring clans, Annie’s ravaging at the hands of the hated Campbells has nearly destroyed her. But she is determined to put her life back together, and that life doesn’t include Niall Lamont, the man who broke her heart two years before and has now appointed himself her unwanted avenger and sentinel.
Niall made the biggest mistake of his life when he told Annie that he couldn’t marry her. By the time he realizes his mistake, however, it’s too late. His clan is nearly destroyed by the Campbells for harbouring her kinsmen, he is outlawed, and the woman he loves has been brutalized. With time running out, and the king’s men closing in, Niall will do whatever he must to earn Annie’s forgiveness—even if it means teaching the stubborn lass to defend herself. But Annie is a MacGregor, and if there is one thing the persecuted clan knows how to do, it is fight. Forgiveness, however, is another matter, and Niall begins to wonder if some wounds just might be too deep to heal.
Penny Jordan is the queen of romance. Writing for Mills & Boon, she writes around four books a year and is, arguably, the jewel of M&B’s crown. Jordan prefers to write about virginal heroines as a shorthand to convey her character’s attraction to the hero, so if this is your preferred trope then have look at her huge collection!
Could she exorcise her dreams of love?
Looking back, Christy realised that Simon hadn’t wanted to fall in love six years ago – while she’d had no other choice. Still, she shouldn’t have assumed he’d want to marry her.
She’d naively planned their future together until the day Simon accused her of trying to trap him into marriage. Apparently, unlike her, he hadn’t needed to be in love to experience desire.
Now he was determined to have her accompany him to the Caribbean to research his new book. Did he really expect her to put the past behind her?
Here are a couple of excerpts to give you a sneak peak at the book!
“Unhand us, witch!” the vampire shouts.
The mortals, apparently far smarter than this vampire, remain silent. Even the vampire’s own pledge seals his lips shut. A wave of Nether wafts off him, marking him as a Nether witch.
But fury sparks within me, and a dark grin overtakes me. I lower my arm, setting the blades down gently in the middle of the clearing.
“What was that?” I ask, daring the vampire to repeat himself.
Stupidly enough, he does. “I said, ‘unhand us, witch!’ Let us go quickly, and I might not kill you.”
I laugh quietly, and all the birds fly away, deserting their treetop perches. A dangerous glint shines in my eyes as I saunter within arm’s reach.
“Witch? You think me a witch?”
“How else could a pitiful, puny little woman like you do all this?” He jerks his head at the other two men, unable to move his arms. Cheeks flushed with anger, he draws back and spits in my face, dark eyes flashing, all the while.
Nearby animals sense my anger reverberating on the Nether, and the woods fall completely silent. Fury roils within me, and visions of blood fill my mind. Everything in me demands his evisceration.
Or perhaps the removal of some limbs…
With eyes narrowed, I lift one hand. He flinches, and I smile, baring my teeth. His spit floats into the air, leaping happily from my skin. My spine shivers with disgust and hatred as I force the spit to smear itself over the vampire’s face, over his eyes.
Slowly twirling one finger, I tighten his bonds. Air rushes from his lungs, and his soft face goes red as he struggles to breathe.
“You underestimate me. I don’t know a single witch who can do everything I’ve done without at least three days of spell and potion preparation. Not to mention the difficulty of lugging all those ingredients out here.”
Lifting one average looking fingernail to his face, I trace one of his cheekbones, then the other, splitting the skin wide. A line drawn down the center of his nose, from bridge to tip, releases still more blood.
My eyes flutter as the darkest parts of me savor the sight.
“As for spitting on me,” I whisper, knowing my voice will carry to the others, echoing in their bones despite its low volume, “that was a grave mistake. Most of my kind would have killed you on the spot, simply for the disturbance.”
Voice suddenly a hiss, I say, “You’re lucky I’ve learned patience.”
My soul riots for revenge, and my blood boils in my veins. I fight the damnable words, hating my own weakness before my rage, but still, I say, “But ignorance must not go to seed. Your family line will end with you. You will never again create, or prolong, life.”
And I shift the Nether to make it so.
“Your kind? What are you talking about? What makes you think you can curse me?” All bluff and bluster, the vampire tries to appear brave and defiant.
But I feel the fear leaking off him. I smell it in his blood, acrid and spoiled. I hear it in his sputtering heartbeat, slightly more erratic than those of the others.
Again, I say nothing. Drawing a deep breath, I close my eyes slowly.
Thunder roars through the clearing, rumbling in all our chests. I open my eyes, glittering gold sending light reflecting back at the vampire, and my skin grows paler. Fingernails become golden talons, embedded in black skin which reveals hues of purple as it fades to white just above my wrist. My eyelids are colored similarly, pulsing with the Nether that reaches out through my skin.
Black horns burst from my skull, sticking through locks of deepest red. My horns twist as they taper off, curling back over the top of my head.
The color drains from the vampire’s face, concealed as it is by his blood. Sick glee spikes through me.
“Did you know you would feel my revelation in your blood? Did you know the very air would tremble with it?” I ask, knowing the answer to be a resounding “no.”
“You’re a…” he trails off, unable to speak for lack of air.
“Demi-demon is, I believe, the word you’re looking for,” I say, smiling malevolently. “Now, I’m going to untether you, and you’re going to run. Before I change my mind.”
Can I just say that Ness is pretty OP? Lol. She has her flaws, don’t get me wrong. She isn’t perfect. But she’s powerful as hell.
And because I just can’t help myself, here’s another excerpt:
With my good arm, I pull my leg up to bend the knee. Hiking the hem of my dress up, I reveal torn muscle and shredded skin. I wince as the fabric moves over it, tugging flaps of skin in directions they aren’t meant to go.
Elias’ hands set to work, scooping water up, and pouring it over my thigh. Each drop, gentle as the administration of them may be, pulls a moan of pain from my lips. Wrapping fingers tightly around a stone, I do what I can to bear the pain without making Elias feel worse.
The blood washes away, revealing the true devastation wrought by the dead wolf’s jaws. My leg hangs open, dark muscle showing itself to the sky as it was never meant to do.
“Itand have mercy,” he whispers, calling on the goddess of fortitude.
But she’ll spare no blessings for the likes of me.
“What do I need to do?” he asks. His eyes roam over me, and one hand finds its way to my cheek. Brows knitted together, he clearly longs for something to do, some reassurance that I’ll be ok.
Does he want me to be alright for the sake of spending more time together? Or merely for the sake of having an escort for the rest of the trek?
I hope for his sake that it’s the latter. But the well of loneliness within me wishes for the former.
Either way, there’s nothing he can do.
“My body will mend itself,” I tell him. “It’ll hurt, but it’ll mend. It’s already started.”
His eyes drop to my arm, my leg. The bleeding has stopped, and the cuts aren’t as deep as they were mere seconds ago. Had he seen it when the wounds were first inflicted, he likely would’ve been sick.
“I wish you would’ve let me help,” he murmurs, sliding his hand along my jaw until his thumb finds my earlobe.
Exhaustion pulls my inhibitions low. Despite myself, despite the guilt churning within me, I lean into his caress.
Nolan won’t want me back, anyway.
My heart shrinks from the thought, and I close my eyes, nuzzling my cheek into Elias’ palm.
“Letting you help would’ve been a terrible idea. They could never kill me. They had no salt, no silver. They couldn’t say any incantations.”
I pause, squeezing my eyes tight against the horrid images which flash before them. I don’t want to see the ways they could’ve hurt him. I don’t want to watch them tear him to shreds. I don’t want to see his blood on the ground.
“They could’ve killed you, though,” I whisper.
Suddenly desperate to see him alive and healthy, to ease my conscience just a bit, I open my eyes. Sure enough, he’s there, face inches from mine. The moonlight glows in his magnificent eyes, but the blood of the Howlers still adorns his face.
Reaching for his sodden shirt, I lift a corner of it to his face. Wiping away the dried blood, I memorize the strength in his jaw, the kindness in his eyes. I trace the small kink in his nose, a remnant from a previous fight.
From a distance, it’s almost impossible to notice, but this close…
My eyes drop to his lips, full and soft. They part, but only to speak.
Confusion wrinkles his brow. “If they couldn’t kill you, why were they sent after us? To maim you and kill me?”
“No,” I say, shaking my head. I stifle a groan as my thigh stitches itself together. “They sent them to find us. They know where we are, now. They know which way we were headed. They’ll find us.”
Those words sew our lips shut, for we both know. This won’t be the last of the vampire and his pledge. And if this was just the search party, what awaits us down the path?
The things awaiting them down the path are pretty intense. Just so you know.
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But first, I want to talk a little bit about what brought me to this point.
I’ve talked before about the reason I’m rereleasing The Gem of Meruna (vanity press, not understanding anything anout the publishing world, etc.). Today, I want to talk about the inspiration for the story and the process of fleshing it out from there.
So, this story started out as a dream. I woke one day with visions of a girl with vivid purple eyes venturing through a dangerous forest and riding a massive (several stories tall) pure-white stag. In my dream, she was after a magical Gem that perfectly matched the color of her eyes.
But I didn’t know why.
That part wasn’t in the dream.
Now, since I tend toward the macabre, my conscious mind filled in corrupted animals controlled by a vicious dictator, slaughtering people left and right. That’s enough to motivate someone to want change.
But I needed a reason for Kiluna, specifically, to try to change things.
And that’s where her grandmother’s part of the story came in, with tales of the world before they lived in fear, tales of a magical Gem that could right their world…tales that no one else dared speak.
But Kiluna’s grandmother told her all these beautiful stories, told her that things could be better.
And thus, our heroine and her quest were born.
Of course, the story has blood and action, because my stories always have that. And romance, because I fucking love romance in my books.
This has been a hell of a journey. From start to finish, this book took about 4 months to write, but it’s been years coming back from the nightmare of the vanity press. For so long, I contemplated just shoving it in a dark corner and forgetting that it existed, mainly out of frustration and not knowing my options.
But I’m so glad to finally have this book out on the market in a state that doesn’t embarrass me. The original was woefully under-edited, but now that’s fixed.
It was so difficult to restrain myself during edits though. My style has changed a lot since the original release, and the temptation to make it conform to my new style was definitely there.
But that would have required a near-total rewrite.
Which felt a bit like cheating.
For the sake of not making it so that everyone who bought the original would feel the need to buy the new one to know the new story, I did no story edits. Only grammar/spelling stuff. I cut redundancies and tightened up sentences, but left the story as it was originally intended.
And now, with all the irritations of the vanity press finally behind me, I can move into the new decade with confidence.
And let me tell you, 2020 will be a big year, if I have anything to say about it. Lol.
I’ll be releasing World for the Broken and at least one (maybe two) high fantasy romances.
But for now, the thing that brought you here…
The giveaway winners…
The winner from Facebook is Erin Brown and from Instagram, we have Taryn Chester. Both will receive a signed hardback copy of The Gem of Meruna along with all the accompanying book swag!
The grand prize winner, receiving swag, a signed hardback copy of The Gem of Meruna, and a signed copy of Annabelle, drawn from my email subscribers, is Rae Watson!
Congratulations to all of you!
I’ll message the winners individually later today (it’s fairly late, I just got off a 12 hour shift, and have to get up early), and I’ll need addresses to ship the prizes to. If I don’t receive a response within three days, I’ll have to choose a different winner.
For everyone else, pre-orders are still open until tomorrow.
Because holy freaking crap, release day is tomorrow!
So, with Soul Bearer’s release date coming up (freaking tomorrow!), I thought I’d talk about the creation of the story. I’ve talked about my writing process (or lack thereof) before, but I’ve never really gone into specifics for this story in, particular.
The spark, the catalyst, was a dream, which I know sounds corny. But that’s what the prologue was. I woke up with a dream of a princess and a burning necklace and the return of dragons.
So I wrote down the bare bones of that scene and ran with it.
The princess in that scene just happened to fall into a trope I don’t particularly like writing. She’s prissy and overly concerned with her looks. She’s led an easy, privileged life and as such, follows whims even when they’re definitely a bad idea because well…what are consequences?
She doesn’t really know because she’s never faced them.
I hate that trope, that stereotypical princess type.
And she certainly wasn’t going to be the one fighting the dragon.
So her part ended, sort of, in the prologue. I can’t say how her part continued because spoilers.
But that meant I had to come up with someone else to sort out the problem of the dragon and a means for them to do so.
And therein lies the problem with writing something from a dream. It takes a lot of work to make it work. I know, writing a book takes work, in general, but dreams have a tendency to make little to no sense.
And fiction has to make sense.
You have to have a reason for everything. Anything you put in the story has to be justified by a fully built world and three dimensional characters whose backgrounds support the information you’re giving.
Everything has to line up.
Because if it doesn’t line up, you end up with plot holes and angry readers.
And no one wants that.
Now, I tend to have these little…half imagined bits of story floating around in my head, pretty much constantly. A character here, an encounter there. There’s always an assortment to choose from.
I just have to find the world, and the story, they fit into.
Well, Visan (the world of Soul Bearer) turned out to be the home I’d been lacking for Aurisye. I hadn’t named her yet,and her story ended up changing drastically by the time it was all said and done. I didn’t know she’d be so powerful before I found her home in this story. But the core of her, the basis of who she was before the dragons rose, was already in my head and it belonged in this world.
There was another little tidbit, a chance encounter, that eventually became her mother’s story. I had no idea it belonged in Soul Bearer until I got to close to the scene, though. Lol.
As for Rafnor, he was always a part of this world. He developed with it, grew with it. He was never separate from the world of Soul Bearers.
Now, there was something I was asked about by a couple of ARC readers: the names. They wanted to know how I came up with them.
So, in case any of you are curious, this is what I did.
I chose a few languages that I don’t speak, picked words that I associated with the characters, and then looked them up in those other languages. When I found a translation or translated synonym that I liked the sound of, I altered it to fit the sounds of the cultures in the book.
For the Elves, I mostly translated stuff to French. I wanted it to have a soft, seductive feel. It just seems like something that would whisper through the leaves of their wooded kingdom.
The Elves in this story (dark elves, btw) are intelligent and witty, but also conniving. Having such smooth sounds set up a nice contrast.
I wanted the Orcish names to be the exact opposite. I wanted their names to embody the harsh, rough culture (and climate) they live in. So I translated to German and roughed the words up a bit more, smashing consonants together.
For the Humans, I went with variations on old English and Nordic words and names.
No matter what word I chose, I always…massaged the spelling to make it sound how I wanted, though.
It took about 6 months to write the first draft of this one. Then, after many edits, I started submitting it to traditional publishers. Before it got accepted anywhere though, I decided traditional wasn’t the way for me to go.
I’ve been heading down the Indie road ever since.
Now, I’ll be posting a video on release day, aka October 22nd. (Freaking tomorrow!)
*gasp* A video?
I know, I almost never show my face. It’s almost like I don’t like being in pictures or videos…
But, for you guys, I’m going to get over it, and do something that I always dreaded back in school. I’m going to read aloud for the group.
I’ll be doing a reading of the prologue of Soul Bearer!
It’ll be posted here for sure. Possibly on FB or IG, if I can figure out how to get around the time limit on IG. It’ll be at 3:00 p.m. central time. I’ll post about it on social media when it’s up, and I’ll send out an email to all my subscribers to let you know.
Then, I’ll be going live for the first time EVER on Instagram at 4:00 p.m. central time to answer questions and….*drum roll* announce the winners of the giveaway!
Don’t worry. If you can’t tune in, it doesn’t null your winnings. I’ll message each winner directly to let them know.
It’s going to be an exciting week.
And I finally get all three of my days off this week! No overtime, just my actual 40 hour schedule. That hasn’t happened in a while.
Now, normally I would do a full-on update on how my week went, but this time, I think I’ll just say that I got a lot of editing done on one story, some formatting done on another, and managed to get through all of my days.
I might do a full blog about this past week…next week. I’m not sure yet. It’s been an absolute train wreck.
These three days off could not have been better timed.