In honor of Short Story Month – an #excerpt of THE SEARCH

May is Short Story Month.

Short story month began back in 2007 to showcase books that could be read in one sitting. Now there isn’t an official number of words that constitutes a short story but the general consensus online is that a short story is between 1000 and 7,500 words.

Hmmm…that makes my “short” story, The Search, which is a prequel to my The Elemental trilogy, not technically a “short” story. However, I call it a short story because 12,000 words is much less than my full length novels that have 80,000+ words.

So in honor of Short Story Month, let me share with you an excerpt of my “short” story The Search.

You can get The Search for FREE from Barnes & Noble, the Kobo StoreiTunes or Smashwords where it is available in all e-book formats.

You can also purchase it for 99 cents on Amazon.

The Search: Book Description

For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

The Search: Excerpt

The horse’s hooves thundered across the ground. Tosh dug his claws into the saddle as his back legs threatened to slip off. A firm hand pressed against his side, pulling him closer toward the young man behind him. Feeling safer, Tosh leaned out to see the terrain up ahead. He blinked his eyes in disbelief at what he saw.

You can’t be serious.

“We can make it,” Nolan said, speaking directly into his mind.

Tosh looked up at him, but Nolan wasn’t looking at the ravine. He was looking over his shoulder at the three men on horseback chasing them. Tosh caught a glimpse of a hefty man with a red beard leaning forward, urging his mount to run faster. He clearly was gaining on them. Tosh looked at the ravine before them.

It is too far for her to jump.

“Ah come on, Tosh. She’ll do just fine.”

Tosh sighed. Nolan rarely listened to any advice he gave him unless it coincided with something that Nolan already wanted to do. Knowing there was no way and no time to change the young man’s mind, Tosh curled up against him. He dug his claws deeper into the saddle and wrapped his tail protectively around his body. He felt Nolan lean forward as the mare’s hooves left the ground. He closed his eyes, counting the seconds until he felt the mare land on the other side. She stumbled slightly, and Tosh opened his eyes to see a small section of ground at the ravine’s edge fall.

Nolan reined in the mare and turned to look back at the ravine and the approaching men. Tosh glanced up and saw the look of concentration on his face. Suddenly, the ground shook. The edge of the ravine crumbled. Rocks and dirt fell until the gorge was three feet wider than it had been moments earlier. The men pursuing them pulled their mounts to a halt at the edge of the gorge.

“You won’t get away from us,” the redhead yelled.

Nolan raised his hand and waved before urging the mare toward the forest. Tosh glanced back to see the men swearing as they eyed the ravine which now was clearly too wide for them to jump. As they entered the forest, Nolan slowed the mare to a walk.

“That was amazing,” he said with a chuckle.

You’re lucky the mare made it.

“Oh, Tosh, you worry too much,” he said ruffling Tosh’s fur.

Tosh turned to glare at him and then proceeded to lick the fur back into the correct direction. We wouldn’t have had to find out if she could make it if you just learn to control your temper.  

Tosh didn’t really expect Nolan ever to learn to do that. He had been trying to drill that lesson into him since he was a headstrong teenager but to no avail.

“I know. I know. And stop using my Elemental power in front of others,” Nolan said with a sigh. “Why shouldn’t I use it?”

I have never said you shouldn’t use it. You just need to decide when it is wise to do so.

“So using it to defend myself isn’t wise?”

Defending yourself is one thing. Picking fights is another. Tosh sighed. I guess this means we are moving again.

“But first we have to go pick up our belongings.”

They circled back toward the town. When they entered it an hour later, Tosh kept an eye out for the men, but the streets were nearly empty. No one paid them any attention as Nolan stopped before the boarding house where they had been staying. Tosh remained on the mare as Nolan ran upstairs to gather their things. Within minutes, the young man had returned, and they were on their way out of town.

 

Today’s Featured Author – A.V. Boyles

Today I welcome author A.V. Boyles to my blog. Her debut book, The Phazor’s Tale: Gems of the Dragons, came out in 2014. The second book in the Tales of the Four Realms series will be out later this year.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

Hi!  I love to tell stories and fantasy is just right genre for me.  My fascination with dragons started about a decade ago, with the first book I bought on dragonology.  I don’t know what possessed me to do so; maybe it was the unique embossed cover, or the impeccable illustrations.  Whatever it was that enticed me, I’ve been hooked ever since.  For me, the entire enchanted realm is completely enthralling.  Spin it all together with witches or wizards and my imagination soars with endless possibility.  I have several manuscripts started at the moment, so there is no telling what will make out of the quirky spiral of my imagination on pages of future books.  I only wish that I had more time to write.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I started writing one summer during my junior high school days, when I had to retake my English Literature class.  (Well, no one is perfect.)  I had an amazing teacher that challenged us to see our world from different perspectives as we read one classic tale after another; Mark Twain, Hemmingway, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens.  Further, we were encouraged to write our own fictional story, thus setting my mind to creating a world that would be like no other.  I recall that first story very well, because just underneath it all, I was fuming at having to spend my summer mornings in a musty school room.  As an act of rebellion, I told a tale of imagined escapades of a school room desk.  It wasn’t a far reach as the desk I occupied had been carved, etched and marked by those who sat there before.  In any event, I owe a lot to teacher “X,” whose name, has gotten lost with the passage of time.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I’m blessed to have started book two in the Four Realms series; The Wizard’s Tale: Doom of Magic, which I hope to have completed by March of this year.  Can I share a little?  Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but I can say that the plot of The Wizard’s Tale is taken directly for an incident revealed in The Phazor’s Tale, so you’re going to want to pay close attention.  The Wizard’s Tale contains new characters, diabolical challenges and strength in overcoming one’s own inner turmoil.  Also, a hint in the hunt for the location of the Four Realms island home.  Happy hunting!

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I wish I could write full-time; that is my heart’s desire, but no – I work a regular job for a large global construction company, currently attached to a project in Washington State.  Finding time to write is a challenge, but I’m usually up at 4:30 am to write and answer emails.  I don’t get home until sometime around six in the evening and I hit the computer with hand written notes I’ve taken all day at work.  Usually, I carry a notebook to write thoughts, plot directions, character insights, etc., then as I’m writing weave them into the story.  I suppose most of the story is very cerebral, before the tale is fully develop.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

What fuels me?  People!  My number one question to myself when I meet interesting unique people is. . . “What would you be like if you were a dragon?”  Then I go from there!  That is how the Phazor was born!  I have a very good friend whom I have known for the better part of twenty-years, he inspired the dragon over a decade ago and whenever I need an inspiration I just observe him!  It is his qualities, his virtues, and integrity that is personified in the character of the Mighty Phazor.  People are my muses for all the characters in my books.  The Dragon Witch of Airen Realm, Princess Bridget, Druid Master Garret, characters in my second book, are all real people that I interact with every day.  They are wonderful people who give me pause to jot their idiosyncrasies that are later woven into the fabric my story.  So, in a sense, my tales are about them, their hopes, there flights of fancy, and their day dreams.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Listen to that still small voice inside you, not to those around you.  I listened when my father said I couldn’t be a journalist, which is what I wanted to be.  I listened when I was told that couldn’t be anything more than a wife and mother.  I listened when I was told that it wasn’t acceptable for me to have a career and that is was incredibly selfish to think I could be anything more than beyond what I was told.  It wasn’t until I got a few decades under me that I began to believe in myself, in what I could accomplish and with the faith and love of my husband I started to write again.  Now, that passion consumes me.  About a dozen manuscripts started with a mind whirling with a dozen more!  If I could tell that young girl anything it would be to follow your heart because as I heard someone once say. . . that when that voice inside you become so loud and so profound from all the other voices around, you will have mastered your life.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Oh, yes!  I outline the ever-loving heck out of them.  I sometime even storyboard them.  It’s often easier to storyboard them, because I can control the elements of the story much better.  I often have several plots happening simultaneously, so without an outline or board my stories tend to take on a life of there own and it can take me several weeks to get it all back on track.  But then again, whatever I remove ends up a plot for another tale!  Happy accident, right?

What inspired you to write this book?

My friend Robert Frazier is the Phazor dragon, he inspires me every day.  After knowing him for several years, I came to know him as a truly generous person.  He is intelligent, articulate and can see the truth and value of any person that comes into his circle of influence.  It is these traits that are rendered in the Mighty Phazor and in watching him I too, have become an observer of people.  Seeing their life, their presence, their trials and how each person handles tribulation based on their filters.  He has a unique way of silently guarding those who come into his circle; these are the characteristics of the Mighty Phazor.

How did you come up with the title?

Well, now that’s an easy question to answer:  Frazier – Phazor!  Eight years ago, when I began writing this story, Robert had lost his father abruptly and for just that period he found himself searching for firm footing, and his place in the world.  While he withdrew into himself, he was simultaneously searching for the jewels (gems) of life.  The name evolved from these circumstances – The Phazor’s Tale:  Gems of the Dragons.

How do you select the names of your characters?

It’s very easy for me to give names to my characters, because they are inspired by people I know.  I just apply some variation of their name or sometimes it’s a mannerism that come to the forefront.  As in the case of a character called Lionette, I am she.  I view myself much like a lioness.  I have five children with whom I was very protective as they were growing up.  I’m still very protective of those in my circle, wanting them all to find their own brand of success.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

For me there are two types of scenes to write that are very challenging; one is a fight scene where characters must die, the other are love-making scenes.  Both types of scene are tragic, personal and intimate and evokes depths of emotions that for some readers is difficult to come to terms with.  Therefore, writing these types of scene must be done with their evocative sensibilities in mind.  I want to ensure that just the right note is struck for both types of scenes.  I must admit that The Phazor’s Tale ended up have more battle scenes than I anticipate, but I don’t think that I could have told the story without them.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

Growing up I was a huge Jane Austen fan!  I think my favorite book must have been Sense and Sensibility.  I have always been captivated by the fact that her first edition was published simply with the author’s name as “A Lady.”  I think I would have bought the book for that little intrigued along.  I find the Georgian era captivating.  Just think . . . only the educated knew how to read and reading aloud was a past-time . . . if one could do it well, you were in demand as a much sought-after party guest!

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Ernest Hemingway . . . most definitely!  Why?  Who wouldn’t want to have a drink with that man!  The other without question, Jane Austen.  To see the world through her eyes, while marching to the beat of her own drum . . . how great is that?

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m a huge Justin Timberlake fan!

Book Blurb

The Mighty Phazor orders the worlds dragons into hibernation, but a lone conjured dragon remains awake. Defying the Phazor’s order, Salpacha, created by Drew, the arrogant apprentice of Pūrus, Master Wizard of Aberglenn craves power over the forces he does not fully understand. Ransacking Pūrus’ home, Drew discovers the Boka di Draconis, the Book of the Dragons, which holds the key to waking the dragons. The Master Wizard having been summoned to Collin Castle is asked to accompany the Queen her children to safety of Norselan. Now that the dragons are gone King Collin fears a war with the blood thirsty Greer Family of Furran Realm. Queen Antillium is a Dragon Witch and hopes she and her sister residing Norselan can perform an enchantment to awaken the dragons and save the realms. But she soon finds out that she only possesses a fragment of the spell and they must have all the elements before the enchantment can be performed, including the Boka di Draconis.

About the Author

As a Document Management Professional in a highly regulated environment, writing fiction enables me to release my creative side. Fascinated by dragon lore, my first book, The Phazor’s Tale was inspired by a real person. I simply asked myself this question: “If he were a dragon, what would he be like?” Then wrapped the story around that! Although it took eight years for The Phazor’s Tale to become a reality. I am blessed to have such inspirational people in my life and my second book will be no exception.

In creating a world of the Four Realms, I became lost in this mythical place where dragons and magic are a way of life. Where magic prevails, there is always the temptation to use it for ones own advancement. Thus, these tales have a moral-to-the-story along with hard-won triumphs tangled amid the chronicle of a world of dragon lore.

You can purchase The Phazor’s Tale: Gems of the Dragons on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – David L. Heaney

Today I welcome author David L. Heaney to my blog. His debut novel, A Yorkie’s Tale: Lessons from a Life Well-Lived, came out in October 2017.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have had, what I think, is a really interesting life. I hope it will continue to be as interesting as it has been so far. I grew up for the most part outside New York City during the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. I look back on my life during that time and like so many others wonder how I survived. It was wonderful but crazy.

I had no idea what I wanted when I went to college so initially majored in English then discovered philosophy and loved speculative metaphysics even as the area was gradually falling out of favor with contemporary philosophers. I went to Yale Divinity School mostly to study philosophy with no intention of pursuing the ministry. I was diverted toward the ministry after working with chronically and terminally ill persons at a large New Haven Hospital. There was a clarity (and an intensity) it engendered that I loved. The literary critic, Anatole Broyard wrote about this when he was dying of prostate cancer. He said for the first time in his life he had a real deadline and it brought everything into a laser-like focus.

I spent 20 years as a parish priest (Episcopal), probably unfairly dragging my wife and four kids along.

During this time I also pursued another degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and after leaving parish work practiced and taught for a couple of years. I landed next with a large publicly traded company working on outsourced government public assistance programs and climbed up the corporate ladder. I ended up doing international business development for the company working with governments all over the world. I lived in Israel and later London as part of this job. I had a great time.

More recently, I have quieted down and have created with a London-based business partner a boutique-consulting firm that offers advisory services to government services firms seeking to enter the international market. This occupies relatively little of my time so I have time now to write. I just finished A Yorkie’s Tale a few months back and am now working on several new writing projects.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I spent most of my adult life in Southern California but moved to Durham, North Carolina four years ago. I’m very happy in Durham. My wife works with Duke Medicine. The Chapel Hill/Durham area of course has a number of great universities and that enriches the quality of life.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

My writing is in many ways autobiographical even though the characters in my first book are animals. The thoughts that trouble them, what makes them laugh, and so forth are really different parts of who I am, I suppose. A Yorkie’s Tale deals with big issues of meaning and mortality, and what is really most important in life. Every character is generally a mosaic that includes parts of me as well as those who I have encountered over a lifetime.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I have started two books. The first I am well into but am struggling with whether it is heading in the right direction. The story involves an adolescent boy whose imaginary friend from childhood seeks him out for a special task. The story explores belief and unbelief. We cannot see what we refuse to believe is possible. When we believe, really believe anything is possible a whole alternate world is opened to us.

The illustrator who did the illustrations for my first book spoke to me about loving to draw foxes, so I have also started a story about foxes. It is a love story with some mystical elements.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I try to write a little bit every day but when it’s not coming easily, I’m prone to distractions. I still do a little bit of consulting, and its hard for me to lock myself away and just write and write. Annie Dillard, whose writing I have always loved, wrote about trying to just get a page written each day. You can see in her writing how she labors over every word being just right. That’s why her work is so rich.

So I write every morning until maybe noon. I may come back to it later in the afternoon. In between I try to make a little money.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

I think it’s just the act of creating that drives me to write. What keeps me writing is the relationship I form with the work I am creating. This includes developing the characters, the place where the story takes place. You get to know all these things and as the story evolves, I go back to them adding detail. I heard a writer on NPR say that you create intimacy by adding detail and that continues to inform my own writing.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

It’s not necessary to save everything you write because when you are older you are going to read some of it and think, “What the hell?!” I wouldn’t really say that. Writers need to be nurtured and how one offers counsel in such a way that it can be heard and assimilated is important. I’d tell my younger self the more you write the more you will want to write and the more you write, the better you will get.

Please tell us about your current release.

A YORKIE’S TALE; LESSONS FROM A LIFE WELL-LIVED tells the story of a nine year old Yorkie named Niles with dim vision and a chronic cough who lives comfortably with his owners, Mama and MAN. During the summer Niles would sneak into the backyard after dinner to see if any avocadoes had fallen from the neighbor’s tree. One evening he encounters Nathaniel, a fruit rat who walks along the telephone wires strung along the alley. Nathaniel wonders how Niles can be content living in his little world the size of his backyard. Nathaniel sees things and is worldly. But Nathaniel did not understand what he saw when he witnessed a family burying their cat. Indeed he was alarmed and tells Niles about this. The two of them later encounter the possum, Leach who tells them the cat was dead and then demonstrates by playing possum. The two are shaken by the news that they don’t go on forever and wonder what they should be doing with their lives. This sets in motion Niles escape to join Nathaniel on a journey to answer the question, If we all die, how should we then live? They meet a number of other creatures each with a unique set of important truths. Niles receives guidance in his dreams when visited by the cat, Deheune who speaks cryptically yet guides him to the truths he seeks. Without being preachy, the book focuses on the importance of friendship, compassion, self-awareness, and imagination.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was living in London away from home on a long-term business assignment when I started it. We had a Yorkie named Niles who, in fact, did sneak avocados. We had no idea why he was getting so fat. And of course there were fruit rat and possums that visited, as well as a flock of beautiful Conures (parrots) that would visit and chatter. All of these made it into the book. The setting is San Diego and many people will recognize this from the descriptions.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

My favorite character is the possum, Leach. He is eccentric and a little bit magical, and always disarming. My least favorite character is a little boy named Miles who snatches Niles when he is sick and has been hidden by his friends. The boy is very needy and tries to compel the Yorkie to love him, which of course, is unsuccessful.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

It is when Niles falls ill. He has a series of dreams or visions but this one is especially frightening. It’s kind of the dark night of the soul moment where he, in fact, discovers his soul. And this was difficult to write because I felt like I wanted to write for all ages and the dark night is a complicated matter. How do you talk about an existential crisis to an adolescent? So, I’m not entirely sure I was successful.

Many of the issues the book attempts to explore are complex so my hope is the reader will be able to take away something useful to them based on their unique experience and developmental stage.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

I have always loved JD Salinger’s FRANNY AND ZOOEY. I taught a class on Psychotherapy and Spirituality some years back for a graduate program in Marriage and Family Therapy and used it as one of the principal course books. Part of the reason I think I like it so much is that it explores longing and the flailing about we go through as we attempt to figure out just exactly why we are so restless.

Book Blurb

Niles, an aging Yorkie, has led a pampered life with his two loving owners and knows nothing of death. When his new friend Nathaniel, an inquisitive fruit rat, shares the puzzling tale of a family burying a sleeping cat, Niles’s life begins to really change. Another neighborhood critter, an eccentric possum called Leach, explains to the two befuddled creatures that the cat wasn’t simply sleeping it was dead.

Shaken by this revelation, Niles and Nathaniel decide they need to do something meaningful with their lives but what? They resolve to venture outside Niles s backyard, and with the help of Poppy, a friendly parrot, and guided by cryptic messages from a cat Niles encounters in his dreams, they begin to seek out answers.

Their travels take them from their own neighborhood through a canyon right to the edge of the ocean. Along the way, they encounter and benefit from the wisdom shared by others the seagulls, dolphins, and a visionary gorilla about the mysteries of life, and the grace that comes from living well unafraid of their own mortality.

About the Author

David L. Heaney has spent his career helping individuals and organizations discover and pursue their own special transformational paths. He received a bachelor s degree from State University of New York at Purchase, a master s degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of San Diego, and a master s degree from the Divinity School at Yale University.

Heaney has served as a parish minister, psychotherapist, and instructor with the University of San Diego s Marital and Family Therapy program. His work over the course of nearly twenty years as an Episcopal pastor and family systems therapist has given him great insight into the psychological, spiritual, and social factors that drive individuals, families, and communities. He is cofounder of the Social Assistance Partnership, an entity that assists health and human-service organizations.

Heaney lives with his wife, Lynda, and their three dogs in Durham, North Carolina.

You can follow David on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

You can purchase A Yorkie’s Tale: Lessons from a Life Well-Lived on Amazon.

 

 

#NewRelease BLOOD BOND by Susan Leigh Noble

Today, I am releasing my fifth full-length novel – Blood Bond. If you like fantasy, dragons, or just a good book, I recommend you check it out for just $2.99.

It is available exclusively on Amazon.

(Don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry. You can still read Blood Bond. Simply download the Kindle for PC or Kindle for MAC software for free.)

Book Blurb

Man severed the alliance with the dragons fifty years ago. But now an invading army marches north destroying everything in its path. The dragons believe only together can the invaders be defeated. They need an emissary.

Womanizer. Drunk. Failure. Soren is many things. A leader isn’t one of them. But, Dex, the dragon who saves him from a cliff, believes different. Thrust into an adventure he never wanted, Soren’s life changes forever when during a battle Dex’s dragon blood mixes with his blood creating a mystical blood bond – forever linking them.

As the bond strengthens, Soren must decide whether to return to his old life or accept the bond and embrace his role in the battle against the invading army.

Chapter One

Branches tore at his face and arms. Soren’s feet quickly crossed the uneven ground as he ran with his arm outstretched to ward off the blows of the forest underbrush. He could hear the deep voice of one of the men chasing him and the sharp bark of a dog. He didn’t dare slow down as he tried to get his mind to focus. It was hard. His mind felt as if it was in a dense sludge.

He fought to recall what had happened. Soft warm skin came to mind. His lips had traveled over the smooth white skin. The woman’s breath had been hard and fast. He recalled her hand running through his hair, but her face eluded his memory.

Slowly, images of last night drifted through his mind. He lay beside her as his eyes slid closed. He felt warm and content as sleep overcame him. A loud banging at the door jolted him awake. His mind still befuddled with sleep and the effects of the ale from the previous evening, he leapt from the bed. As he rushed to get dressed, the woman bolted for the door. She leaned against it, shrieking for him to hurry. Still her face eluded his memory, though he supposed, it didn’t matter. He would never see her again anyway.

He had been halfway out the window when the door swung open. A huge man roared through it. His eyes bulged as he stormed forward.

The loud voices behind Soren brought his mind back to the present as he ducked under a branch. His head felt ready to explode. He wondered briefly how many men chased him and how far they would take it. Usually once he was out of sight, he was safe. But that point had already come and gone, and this group was still on his trail.

He burst out of the forest, skidding to a stop a foot from the gorge’s edge. He eyed the Thane River flowing forty feet below before glancing to the other side. It was easily a hundred feet away. A crashing sound caused him to swing around. A large black dog barreled toward him. It stopped a few feet away. With his ears laid back, the dog growled. Drool dripped from its sharp teeth.

Soren took a step backwards. He heard pebbles fall and glanced back. His stomach tightened as he stared down the sheer drop. Suddenly, the ground crumbled. He gasped as it gave way. Frantically, he grabbed the cliff side as the dog lurched forward. He let go of the edge, sliding down the almost vertical incline. Rocks dug into his hands as he sought something to grab. He spotted a small tree growing on a thin ledge. Soren grabbed it, holding on for dear life. His feet dangled as the tree bowed under his weight.

Crack!

It snapped. He fell a few feet before pain exploded in his back as he hit another small tree. He twisted, grabbing it. He hung there for a moment as the rough bark dug into his hands. He swung his leg over a branch and pulled himself up until he straddled it.

“Where is he?” a deep growl came from above.

Soren inched closer to the cliff wall, thankful an indention near the tree’s base would provide him cover from the prying eyes of those above.

“Good boy, Bruno,” another voice said, and the dog stopped growling. “I bet he didn’t know the cliff was here and couldn’t stop.” The man’s voice got louder as he neared the cliff’s edge. “Look. Part of the edge has crumbled.”

“I won’t rest until I see his dead body,” the deep voiced declared.

“He couldn’t have survived the fall.”

Soren breathed a sigh of relief as the man with the deep voice was persuaded to return home and not waste their time patrolling the river bank. After a few minutes, when he was sure they would have retreated into the forest, he inched out on the branch and eyed the side of the cliff. He scanned for a way to climb it but didn’t see any hand or foot holds. His gaze fell to the turbulent water below. His hands tightened around the branch.

He heard a whooshing sound as something grabbed his shoulders and yanked him upward. Splinters dug into his hands as he tried to hold on to the branch. The force was too strong, and he was ripped from the tree. He dangled twenty feet above the rushing river. Twisting, he caught sight of a large red wing. He looked up. His eyes widened as took in the golden and red scales of the long neck and the triangular underside of the beast’s head. His mind whirled as his mouth dropped open. A dragon. It couldn’t be. He blinked. But what else could it be? He shook his head. What was a dragon doing this far from the mountains? The beast tilted its wings, gliding lower and closer to the river. Soren squirmed. He pulled at the dragon’s large claws to no avail.

Dragons don’t eat humans, he frantically reassured himself. Or at least not as far as he recalled. But with his pounding head, he could barely recall his own name let alone what history he had learned about dragons.

The claws released him. He fell onto the gravelly river bank. Tiny rocks ground into his hands and knees as the creature landed before him. Scrambling to his feet, Soren reached for his dagger only to remember he had lost the blade in a card game a few days ago. He turned to the dragon. The creature towered over him. Soren estimated it was three times as tall as he was as he craned his neck upwards to see the beast’s narrow face. Red scales gleamed in the sun as the dragon tucked its huge wings to its side. Its underbelly was golden. The dragon sat back on its hind legs and wrapped its long tail around its front legs as it regarded Soren.

He stepped back, water sloshing into his boot as he entered the river.

The dragon leaned closer. Its head was slim and nearly the size of Soren’s body. Large golden eyes stared into Soren’s as the dragon sniffed him. Its mouth fell open slightly, showing off rows of sharp teeth. Soren scrambled backwards. He tripped over a rock, falling into the river as the dragon leapt forward with more speed than Soren thought possible for a creature so large. The creature’s claws wrapped around his shoulders, and the beast took off, dragging Soren backwards. The beast flew low over the river, dunking Soren into the cold water. Sputtering, he tried to keep his head clear, but it didn’t work. Water rushed over his face and into his mouth. He coughed and gasped for breath as he was lifted out of the water. The next thing he knew he was back on the shore, a few feet from the river. He lay there, coughing. He saw something red sticking out of the sole of his boot. Reaching down, he pulled it free. It was a scale from the dragon. He clutched it as he stared at the beast. The dragon crouched down, putting his muzzle to Soren’s chest. It breathed in, ruffling his clothes.

“Better but not much.”

The voice reverberated inside Soren’s head. He scurried backwards. “W…what? Was that you?”

His mind whirled. What was the dragon doing here? And had it really just spoken to him? Wait. Could dragons even speak? He pushed that question aside. He was sure the voice had to belong to the creature, but he couldn’t concentrate. His head felt ready to split open. He pressed one hand to his forehead, regretting last night’s drinking binge.

With his other hand, he fingered the scale. Glancing up, he saw the dragon watching him with its mouth slightly open. Soren shook as he gaped at the sharp teeth. He had no desire to be anyone’s meal. He scrambled to his feet, wishing he had his dagger. He eyed the forest a good twenty paces from the river. And the dragon lay between him and his freedom. Soren decided to chance it and ran for the trees. He barely made it a few feet when the dragon slammed its tail on the ground before him.

“That’s not nice after I rescued you.”

“Rescued me?” Soren turned, his mouth gaping open. “What? You tried to drown me.”

The dragon reared back slightly, exposing the lighter golden scales of his underside. “You were dangling from that tree. I saved you.”

“And nearly drowned me in the river.”

“You stank.”

“What?”

“I didn’t mutter. You stank. Still do. Maybe all humans smell this bad.”

Soren lifted his shirt and took a whiff. The stench of his clothes turned his stomach. The dragon was right. Then the absurdity of the situation hit him. He couldn’t be here talking to a dragon. Dragons never came this far south. They stayed in their home in the northern mountains. He recalled the time he and his brother had set off to see them. Two days into the trip they had decided to return home but not before spotting the flying creatures in the distance. He recalled staring at them in awe.

The dragons had been banished before his birth. He had never known one to come this far south or to interact with any human since their banishment fifty years ago. And, he reminded himself, they didn’t eat humans. They had at one time been an ally. He felt a little braver and a bit more curious.

“How is it you can talk to me?”

“Dragons speak to whoever they chose. You don’t have to speak aloud. Just concentrate and you can send your thoughts to me.”

“You can read my mind?”

“No. It isn’t so much knowing what you are thinking as it is communicating silently. I am sorry. I am not explaining it right. Give it a try.”

“No.”

“It is easy.”

“I don’t want to try. I want to go home.” He slipped the scale in his pocket and walked around the dragon’s tail. “Thank you for saving me from the tree,” he said over his shoulder.

“Wait. You must help me.”

Soren stopped, turning to face the dragon. “What do you mean help you?”

The dragon huffed. “I am not handling this well.” The beast flipped his tail to the other side of Soren and used it to pull him closer. “My name is Reddex. You may call me Dex. And you are?”

“Ready to go home.”

The dragon’s golden eyes bore into him. The creature lowered his head until it was even with Soren’s. His warm breath ruffled Soren’s hair. He tried to step back. The dragon’s tail blocked his movement. He sighed.

“Soren. Soren Blackfist.”

“An army from the south invades Walencroft. We must alert the King.”

“No one would dare to attack the Northern Alliance.” He shook his head, unable to believe someone would attack Walencroft or either of the two neighboring countries. It had been over fifty years, right around the time when the Kings severed relations with the dragons, that there had even been a war.

“I saw this army myself.”

Soren shook his head, instantly regretting the movement as his head pounded. “King Bristol wouldn’t do that.”

“I don’t think it is Bristol of Sholar. Whoever it is has Southern dragons with them.”

“What?” Soren paced away before turning back to face Dex. “This makes no sense.” He glanced at the forest. If he moved quick enough, he might be able to use the trees to help him escape. “You saw dragons with this army?”

“Southern dragons. They attacked my squad, killing them all. I was lucky to escape and report back to Warnox. He bid me to tell your King, but you know a dragon cannot land safely at the palace.”

Soren nodded, his mind only half on what the dragon said. He took another step backward toward the forest. “And who is Warnox?”

“He is our leader.”

“This is crazy. I can’t help you.”

As the dragon settled back on his haunches, he looked briefly to the river as Soren supposed he was composing his argument for Soren’s help in his head. Soren took this momentary distraction and bolted for the forest. He held out his hand, protecting his face from the sting of the branches.

“Wait!”

Soren heard the snapping of branches behind him. He didn’t dare look back. The ground shook, and he imagined the dragon shoving his way into the forest. But he had to believe the thick trees would protect him and sure enough the crashing sounds stopped. Soren ran a little farther before stopping. He bent over, pressing his hand to his throbbing head. His mind reeled. The whole thing seemed surreal. All he wanted to do was forget everything that happened today. He knew just what to do. An hour later, he pushed open the pub’s door.

***

The dish crashed to the floor, shattering into four pieces. Soren cursed softly. That noise was sure to wake his brother. Stumbling, he made it out of the kitchen and to the stairs. His foot missed the second step, and he fell forward, whacking his knee hard on the step. He muttered a couple choice words.

He hadn’t meant to be out so late. But it had taken more than a few mugs of ale to rid him of the memory of the red dragon. And now through his muddled thoughts, he wondered if any of it had even been real.

“Soren?” The hushed voice of his brother came from the hallway above.

He shielded his eyes as the light from Jerrick’s lantern cut into them.

“You haven’t been home in two days,” his brother said as Soren climbed the last few stairs. “Ugh. You stink. I don’t need to ask what you have been doing.”

“Flying,” Soren said.

“Really?” Jerrick asked without any true curiosity.

He guided Soren up the remaining stairs and into his room. He led him to his bed. Soren tumbled onto it.

“I was.” It seemed important for Jerrick to believe him. “I was flying with a dragon.”

Jerrick sighed. “You can’t keep doing this, Soren. You haven’t shown been to the smithy in two days. I am sure Master Smith Ferin will dismiss you.” He shook his head. “I can’t keep finding you jobs if you refuse to work.”

Soren wanted to reply but sleep pulled at him. He mumbled something about the dragon as sleep over took him. It was a restlessly sleep. His dream was filled with the wind upon his face and his feet dangling above the river.

The next morning, the bright sunlight woke him. He sat up, his hands swiftly clutching his head as it reeled from the sudden movement. His eyes focused on the bucket on the table by the door. A bar of soap and a cloth lay beside it. Dimly he recalled his brother saying something about him stinking or had someone else told him that?

Moving slowly, he rose. He shed his clothes and used the tepid water and soap to clean his face and arms before running the damp cloth over the rest of him. He pulled on clean clothes, and with a glance out the window decided he should head to the smithy. He was half-way down the stairs when he heard Lyla, his brother’s wife, in the kitchen below.

“No, I mean it this time.”

Soren couldn’t hear Jerrick’s low reply. He crept closer.

“I know he is your brother, but you can’t, no, we can’t keep doing this. With the baby coming, we will need the room and…”

Soren’s mind reeled. Lyla was pregnant. He should be happy for his brother but couldn’t muster any excitement.

“I don’t trust him,” Lyla continued. “He is out half the time drinking and the other half sleeping it off. He stumbles in at all hours, can’t keep a job. I don’t want him around our child, not like that.”

“Lyla, Soren…you know how hard his life has been since Addie died.”

She sighed. “You are a good man, Jerrick, but you can’t make excuses for him forever. One day, he needs to grow up. Both of you can’t keep using Addie as an excuse.”

Soren crept down the stairs. Instead of using the back door that would take him by Jerrick and Lyla, he stumbled out the front door and onto the cobblestone street. His eyes traveled over the nearby houses lining the narrow road. Clean. Neat. Perfect for families. He didn’t belong here.

The thought of family caused Lyla’s last words to echo in his mind. Her mention of Addie brought the image of her face, so happy and eager, to the forefront of his mind. He pushed away those thoughts, but the image of her bright brown eyes didn’t fade.

With a glance at the sky, he realized the sun was higher than he originally thought. He was late. Again. His feet turned toward the path that led from his village to the city of Ballinger. He covered the distance to the city without even thinking. He barely noticed as the city guard half-heartedly waved at him as he entered the city gates and headed to the royal stables.

As he pushed open the stable door, the smell of hay and manure washed over him. A long row of stalls ran the length of the stable. The first few doors were open, and he knew the horses had been moved outside for grooming. He cut across the paddock to the smithy.

The loud clang of the blacksmiths working made his head hurt. He slipped into the darkened area, his eyes immediately checking the piles of wood and coal the blacksmiths and their apprentices used on the fires. Deciding the piles were significantly stocked, he went to his worktable. He picked up a dagger he had been working on last.

“Soren!” Ferin, the head blacksmith, hurried toward him. “You’re late! Again.”

“I’m sorry, Master Smith,” he began, holding up one hand as if to ward off the blacksmith.

“No. No excuses. You are done.”

Soren put down the dagger. “Master Smith, I need this job. Jerrick will kill me if I lose it.”

“Then start praying to the Gods. It is because of Jerrick, I hired you. Let him find someone else willing to take you.”

The way he spat out the last word, Soren had no problem understanding Ferin didn’t think anyone would be willing to offer him a job. He glanced at his worktable. He didn’t dare take anything with the Master Smith standing beside him. The blacksmith’s apprentices had stopped working and now watched as he left. He stood in the street for a moment wondering what to do. He couldn’t go home. Losing this latest job would only prove Lyla correct. He was a louse and needed to be away from their precious family. He couldn’t face her or Jerrick right now.

Without another thought, he ambled into the closest tavern. It was nearly deserted except for a few royal guards having a drink after the night shift. He leaned against the bar, pulling out a coin from his pocket. Setting it on the counter, he ordered an ale. The grizzled old man behind the bar grunted as he dipped a mug into the open barrel.

“Little early even for you.” He banged down the mug. The contents sloshed, almost spilling.

“Careful!” Soren lifted the mug and gulped the warm ale.

He heard the door behind him open and close.

The old man frowned. “Nina, I told you not to come here anymore.”

Soren swung around to face the door. Nina wore a low-cut dress that hugged her ample curves. Her blonde hair was pulled away from her face. Her half-hearted smile didn’t reach her blue eyes.

“I’m not working, Milton.” Her eyes settled on Soren. “I was on my way to the market and thought I saw you come in.”

He lifted his mug in greeting and took a sip. “Nina,” he said as his eyes traveled over her body. “You are looking as fine as ever.”

She crossed the room, her hips swaying seductively. She leaned a hip against the bar. “I thought you might be interested in having a little fun.” She ran her finger down his forearm. “And I’m bored.” She grabbed his hand, squeezing it. “For old time’s sake.”

His eyes traveled from her bosom to her soft lips. Even after all these years he could remember the first time he kissed them. He and Nina had been thirteen. It was his first kiss. Two years later, he would lose his virginity to her. Their hot, passionate relationship had died after two months but still on occasion they would take a tumble for old time’s sake as Nina called it.

She leaned forward, her hand slipping to his inner thigh. His body tightened. He never liked Nina’s chosen line of work. But at the moment, he didn’t care. He wanted to forget about facing Jerrick for a while, and he knew Nina could accomplish that. He grabbed her hand and led her out of the tavern.

Click here buy and read the rest…

 

 

BLOOD BOND now available for Pre-order #NewRelease #fantasy

In just one week, my latest fantasy novel will be released. If you want to be one of the first to own a copy, pre-order the book today!

Available exclusively on Amazon. (Don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry. You can still read Blood Bond. Simply download the Kindle for PC or Kindle for MAC software for free.)

Man severed the alliance with the dragons fifty years ago. But now an invading army marches north destroying everything in its path. The dragons believe only together can the invaders be defeated. They need an emissary.

Womanizer. Drunk. Failure. Soren is many things. A leader isn’t one of them. But, Dex, the dragon who saves him from a cliff, believes different. Thrust into an adventure he never wanted, Soren’s life changes forever when during a battle Dex’s dragon blood mixes with his blood creating a mystical blood bond – forever linking them.

As the bond strengthens, Soren must decide whether to return to his old life or accept the bond and embrace his role in the battle against the invading army.

BUY your copy TODAY!

 

 

Today’s Featured Author – J. D. Horn

Today I welcome my first author of 2018 – J.D. Horn – to my blog. His latest book, The King of Bones and Ashes, will be released Tuesday, January 23. Be sure to check out the excerpt after his author interview.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a Wall Street Journal bestselling author. My first published book, The Line, came out in February 2014, and earned me a spot as as an official nominee in the category of best debut author in the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards. Three other titles (The Source, The Void, and Jilo) have been published as part of the Witching Savannah series. The Witching Savannah series has now been/is being translated into eight languages (Russian, Polish, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Turkish, Romanian). I have also had one standalone novel (Shivaree) published. Shivaree is kind of my ugly baby. Not nearly as popular as the other books, but in my opinion either ties with or comes in second to Jilo as my best published novel to date. Fingers crossed that The King of Bones and Ashes outdoes both.

I’m married, have two step-daughters who both graduate from law school in 2018, and I’m the proud pet father of the world’s most wonderful Chihuahua. He was a rescue boy who rescued me. (Adopt, don’t shop.)

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

I’m going to use a quote from the great television writer, Agnes Nixon, to answer this one. “The Great and the Least, The Rich and the Poor, The Weak and the Strong, In Joy and Sorrow, In Tragedy and Triumph, You are ALL MY CHILDREN.” (sic)

My characters are all on some level reflections of me, even if the relationship is limited to my aspiration to share a character’s better qualities, or my battle to keep from giving in to their worst.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I’m currently working on the final round of edits on The Book of the Unwinding, second book of the Witches of New Orleans series, and writing the first draft of The Final Days of Magic, the third in the (so far) trilogy. Writing a trilogy is a bit like juggling. In the first you hope to catch attention by throwing the balls high into the air. The second, you’re keeping them in motion, and the third you have to catch them all without dropping any. The Book of the Unwinding feels like a good “bridge” book between the other two, progressing the story, but taking it in hopefully unexpected directions. Three minor characters from the first book become huge players in the second.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Dreams can come true, but it may not feel the way you expected it would when they do.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

No. At least hardly ever. I get critiques from a team of trusted professionals, and I do the best work I can. I know I am neither the best nor the worst writer ever, regardless of what a five or one-star review might say. That being said, my publisher forwarded me Publishers Weekly’s and Booklist’s reviews. You darn well know I read those.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Rarely. The character most solidly based on a real person appears in the new Witches of New Orleans series,  Nathalie Boudreau rises from a minor character in the first book to a lead in the second. I’ve borrowed several characteristics from a woman I used to know way back in the 1990s. Nathalie’s inspiration was, and hopefully continues to be, as tough as nails, but as sweet as sugar.

Oh, but that may not be quite true. It all depends on whether you count cats as people. If you do, then Sugar Caissy wins. I based the character on our beloved, departed Sugar. I know it may sound goofy, but trust me, Sugar Caissy is one of the major characters and helps drive the plot. It’s actually been wonderful writing her as a dramatic heroine, as it’s made me feel like I have her back on some level. Got to give her a tenth life, if you will.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

I’m going to borrow from the answer I gave when we were discussing Jilo. I start out with a broad summary—basically what I’ve promised my editor I’m going to write—and then sit at the keyboard until the characters tell me what’s really going to happen. As I tell my publisher whenever I present them with a proposal, my writing process resembles what happens when you store your carry-on luggage in a plane’s overhead bin. At the other end of the journey you find pretty much what you expect, but the contents may have shifted during flight.

One of the characters, actually the first POV character we encounter, came out nothing like I’d intended. Alice Marin had secrets, and she made me dig deep until I discovered them.

Excerpt

Lisette Perrault

Just over the blonde’s shoulder, through the window, Lisette caught sight of a familiar head of closely cropped gray hair. Her father, Alcide Simeon, came weaving down the sidewalk, threading his way through the throng of tourists, stopping and bowing theatrically before a young girl, stepping into the street and ceding the sidewalk to her and her parents. The girl’s father reached down and swooped the girl up into his arms as a car horn blared a warning at Alcide. The driver swerved around him, and he stepped backward onto the uneven sidewalk, stum­bling but righting himself. The glint of something silver in his hands caught Lisette’s eye.

Lisette’s father did not take drugs. He did not touch drink. Always said he’d watched too many of his buddies lose it all down those roads. But here he was, stumbling toward the shop. Still, seeing her teetotalling father drunk was a lesser shock than the sight of the strange instrument he carried. Bessie was his “brass belle,” the horn such a familiar sight that it seemed an extension of her father’s hand. Seeing him with this new horn cradled in his hands made her feel like she’d caught him car­rying on with a strange woman.

“You’ll excuse me for a moment,” she said without looking at the women. “You all just keep on looking around as much as you would like.” She stepped around the counter and brushed past the blonde. She grasped the door handle, and, walking through the bell’s protest, slipped out to the street.

She strode up to her father, whose lips tipped into a smile as he threw his arms wide to welcome her.

“There’s my baby girl,” he said. “I was just coming by to see you.”

She stopped just beyond his reach, and his stupid, drunk glee faded—but only a touch. For the first time in her life, she felt ashamed of him. “Why are you all lit up?” she said, her hands on her hips, unin­tentionally mimicking her mother. “And what are you doing with that horn? That isn’t yours.”

“Oh, it’s mine all right. I bought it special this morning.” He raised it to his lips and ran up a quick scale, ending with a flourish.

She held her stance and narrowed her eyes. “Special for what?”

His head jerked and his eyes widened in genuine surprise. “You haven’t heard?” He turned to a passing stranger. “She hasn’t heard!”

She stepped forward and grabbed his forearm. “No, she has not heard,” Lisette said, her words breathless, angry, “but she is standing right here in front of you, so maybe you should get busy with the telling.”

He looked at her, his lips drawing into a thin line. Then his face loosened, and he began to laugh. “Celestin Marin,” he said, his eyes twinkling, “is finally dead. Funeral’s day after tomorrow.” He winked at her. “Gonna be a band and all. This tin horn and I are gonna join in right before they cut the bastard’s body loose,” he said and laughed. “May end up a devil of a second line.”

“Celestin wasn’t a musician. Why would anyone throw him a jazz funeral?”

Her father didn’t respond with words, but a wide smile crept across his lips.

“You did not . . .”

“I sure did. I arranged the whole thing. How the hell else do you think it could happen?” He wagged the offending horn at her. “Just rang up a few friends. Charles Delinois made up a little white lie for me about how Marin was a secret donor for years to a charity to keep music in schools, and how it’s the least we can . . .”

“You lied to Vincent,” Lisette cut him off, regretting it before she could draw her next breath. It was ridiculous. Even after twenty-five years, the mere thought of Vincent darn near took her breath away . . . like someone had kicked her hard in the gut. She loved her husband. She loved the family they’d made together. Still, it hurt to speak Vincent’s name. It hurt like hell.

“Yeah. I reckon I did a bit,” her father said, sobering, Lisette could only surmise, from having witnessed the expression on her face. “The boy ate the story right up. Seemed kind of hungry for any kind words about his defan papa.”

“Vincent’s a good man. You’ve got no reason . . .”

“Vincent’s a Marin.” Her father’s jaw stiffened, the mirth in his eyes turning to hatred. “Reason enough.”

“You were friends once, all of you. Mama and you and the Marins.” She hoped her words would summon a happy memory for him, but he remained stock-still and silent. “All right,” Lisette said. “So how about you tell me why. What do you get out of this parade?”

The smile returned to his face, but it had come back cold and cruel, making him look less like the father she knew and loved. He held the horn to his lips and blew a few bars of the “Cross Road Blues” before lowering the horn. “I’m gonna play that son of a bitch’s soul right into hell.”

Lisette felt her jaw drop. It took her a moment to find words. “What kind of fool nonsense are you talking?”

“It isn’t nonsense,” he said, clutching the trumpet to his chest. “You aren’t the only one who learned a thing or two from your mother. Gonna use this horn to blow his soul straight to the lowest pit of hell, then I’m gonna toss it in the river. Make sure it never gets played again. Would be too dangerous to let it fall into innocent hands afterward.”

Lisette raised her hands to her temples. She shook her head. This could not be happening. Her father really couldn’t think himself capable of speeding another man’s descent into the fiery pit. She’d come so close, so many times, to telling her father that she no longer believed. That she knew none of this, not the vèvès, not the candles, not the gris-gris bags—especially not the table of premade ones at the shop now marked down to $19.99 each—was real. She’d only held her tongue out of respect for him and her mother’s memory.

Dropping her hands, Lisette glanced back over her shoulder at the shop. She almost gasped, sure she caught the image of her mother mov­ing behind the vèvès painted on the windows. No, that could not be. It was just a creation of her mind—more fodder for her next therapy appointment. Blinking the apparition away, she turned back to her father. “Listen, Daddy, even if you could . . .” She stopped herself, choosing her words more carefully. “Even if you do know how to do what you’re planning, what good would it do? What happened with Mama and Mrs. Marin was so long ago.”

“Maybe to you, but not to me. To me, it still seems like yesterday.”

“But, Daddy, Celestin didn’t have anything more to do with it than you or I . . .”

“Oh, he had something to do with it all right. I know it.” Tears brimmed in his eyes, and he pounded on his chest with his free hand. “I know it in here.”

What harm can it do? Lisette thought. Might even do him some good. Do all of us some good. Bury this damned animosity between the families once and for all. Lisette looked up at him. Patted his chest. “All right, Daddy. You do what you need to do.” She leaned in and kissed his cheek.

As she pulled back, she noticed his eyes were reddening. His bot­tom lip began to quiver. For a moment, she wondered if the storm had passed, but then he raised his chin, his expression hardening, defiance growing in his eyes. “You could help, you know.”

She traced her hand down his arm. “No, Daddy,” she said, turning, heading back toward the shop. “I really couldn’t.”

Book Blurb

Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.

Author Bio

J.D. Horn, the highly praised and bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series, now debuts a new contemporary fantasy series, Witches of New Orleans. A world traveler and student of French and Russian literature, Horn also has an MBA in international business and formerly held a career as a financial analyst before turning his talent to crafting chilling stories and unforgettable characters. His novels have received global attention and have been translated in more than half a dozen languages. Originally from Tennessee, he currently splits his time between Central Oregon, San Francisco and Palm Springs with his spouse, Rich.

You can find out more about J.D. on his website or Facebook.

You can check out a trailer for The King of Bones and Ashes here and pre-order it on Amazon. (The book comes out Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.)

Today’s Featured Author – Diana Rubino

Today, I welcome author Diana Rubino to my blog. Her time-traveling novel, Dark Brew, was released in July 2016.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my books, and short stories, set in Medieval and Renaisance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. I live on Cape Cod with my husband Chris. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano and devour books of any genre.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

Born in Jersey City, NJ, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, and now call Cape Cod home with my husband.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I am now writing bio novels with no fictional characters, and have written 4 so far. I just began my next, which will be about Susan B. Anthony. I enjoy writing about strong women who shook things up, and call my books The Sassy Ladies Series.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I outline very thoroughly. I still use Donald Maass’s Writing The Breakout Novel Workbook, because it makes me explore every aspect of the storyline and characters, getting right down to minute details.

Please tell us about your current release.

My last book to be released is Dark Brew, a time travel romance.

What inspired you to write this book?

The story took 12 years from start to finish. I’m a longtime member of the Richard III Society, and in the spring of 2004, I read an article in The Ricardian Register by Pamela Butler, about Alice Kyteler, who lived in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1324, and faced witchcraft charges. After her trial and acquittal, she vanished from the annals of history. I couldn’t resist writing a book about her.

How did you come up with the title?

I originally called it Strange Brew, but thought Dark Brew was more dramatic and compelling. It refers to the herbal brews Kylah, the modern heroine, mixes and drinks to transport her to 14th century Ireland, to solve the mystery that consumes her life today, and her past life then.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I thoroughly researched Druids, because Kylah is a practicing Druid. I also researched Alice Kyteler…I found a book about her trial that explained all the details about how the church influenced the court in 14th century Ireland.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Alice actually lived, along with the judge, her lawyer, her husband and stepsons who lived in 14th century Ireland, but all my characters in modern times are fictional, not based on anyone.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I’d say Kylah is my favorite, as she’s determined to travel to her past life to right an injustice, and she’s very brave to attempt living in those times, which were very dangerous.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

The black moment occurs when Kylah is accused of murdering her husband Ted and arrested. I don’t want to give anything else away.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

Time travels (I’ve written 3) are difficult in general, and since Kylah is the reincarnation of Alice, I found it difficult to describe what she experienced emotionally and physically as she traveled back in time. I also found it difficult to write the scenes in which she’s accused of murdering her husband, because she was innocent. It made me realize how much injustice is in the world.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I would like to be Eliza Jumel Burr, who became the richest woman in New York City, a very astute businesswoman, and solved two murders. She led a fascinating life.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

I’ve always wanted to spend a few days in the court of Richard III, and see what life was like in 1483-5.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

I always have a jar of nuts at my side to munch when I get peckish. And always a glass of water in reach.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Oh, so many….but one of my faves is THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HENRY VIII by Margaret George. She puts you right there in Henry’s world. A CROWN FOR ELIZABETH, which I read in high school, is also another favorite.
I read a trilogy of novels when I lived in London, which are set in London, the first is THE L-SHAPED ROOM by Lynne Reid Banks. I read these over and over, never grow tired of them.

What book are you reading right now?

I usually read two or three at the same time, so I’m reading THE ROGUE LAWYER by John Grisham and
George Washington A Life in Books by Kevin Hayes, about the books Washington had, combined with a timeline of what was going on in his life as he acquired each book.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Neither are alive–Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m a big believer in the paranormal and have gone on many paranormal investigations, though I have no psychic ability.

Book Blurb

DARK BREW

A time travel romance
Learn from the past or forever be doomed to repeat it.


Accused of her husband’s murder, Kylah McKinley, a practicing Druid, travels back through time to her past life in 1324 Ireland and brings the true killer to justice.

Two months of hell change Kylah’s life forever. On her many past life regressions, she returns to 14th century Ireland as Alice Kyteler, a druid moneylender falsely accused of murdering her husband. Kylah’s life mirrors Alice’s in one tragic event after another­ she finds her husband sprawled on the floor, cold, blue, with no pulse. Evidence points to her, and police arrest her for his murder. Kylah and Alice shared another twist of fate­ they fell in love with the man who believed in them. As Kylah prepares for her trial and fights to maintain her innocence, she must learn from her past or forever be doomed to repeat it.

About the Author

My passion for history has taken me to every setting of my historicals. The “Yorkist Saga” and two time travels are set in England. My contemporary fantasy “Fakin’ It”, set in Manhattan, won a Romantic Times Top Pick award. My Italian vampire romance “A Bloody Good Cruise” is set on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

When I’m not writing, I’m running my engineering business, CostPro Inc., with my husband Chris. I’m a golfer, racquetballer, work out with weights, enjoy bicycling and playing my piano.

I spend as much time as possible just livin’ the dream on my beloved Cape Cod.

You can find out more about Diana on her website or her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Dark Brew for the Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.