Cover Reveals: Winterdream + Blinding Night + Giveaway

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WinterDream

Publisher: Parliament House Press

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Every Christmas Eve, the Stahlbaum family hosts the most lavish Christmas party in St. Petersburg. For Clara Stahlbaum, it’s an end to a chapter of her life and a beginning of another. Her father wishes for her to marry Viscount Yakov Petryaey, a well-admired member of the Russian court.

When her Great Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives for the party, he brings his handsome, Anton Vasiliev, and Clara’s old childhood toy—the Nutcracker. The return of this relic causes her to remember the magical dream she shared with it as a child, swept away to an enchanted world of the land of sweets and meeting the delightful friends of the Nutcracker Prince. As the magic begins to unfold again, her Nutcracker comes to life and they are faced to fight the lurking Mouse King and his followers. Escaping once more into the realm of WinterDream, the Nutcracker Prince reveals that the world is under a curse, and the Mouse King is determined to have WinterDream for himself. The Prince must break his own curse to win back his kingdom, which can only be achieved by falling in love with a human girl. They travel to his castle in hopes to gain the help of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Irina, in defeating the evil coming their way.

Yet, the more time she spends in WinterDream, the more Clara discovers the Mouse King is not who he seems to be…and neither is anyone else. Clara must help take back WinterDream from the rolling darkness, and must save the Nutcracker Prince before he transforms back into his original wooden state.

 

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Blinding Night (Book One)

Publisher: Parliament House Press

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What if you were the missing piece in one of the world’s most epic legends?

Despite being an art history student, Summer isn’t thrilled to be stuck with her archeologist family all summer in Greece. While the rest of her college friends are posting a million selfies by the pool together, Summer is stuck alone, trying to entertain herself alone in a place where she doesn’t even speak the language.

Upon her arrival to Greece, strange dreams and even stranger shadows seem to haunt Summer, leaving her to ponder the meaning of pomegranate seeds and twisted, darkened faces.

Suddenly, her stay abroad leads to tragic twists, leaving Summer in the arms of a dark stranger, who claims to be the god, Hades, whom she feels like she knows from another life. In a whirlwind through the busy streets of Athens, Summer is seduced to the lowest point of Greece where Hades’ lair awaits…the Underworld. Determined to find out who she is and where she belongs in an age-old myth, Summer joins Hades to discover that the secrets about her past life are beyond anything she could have ever imagined.

Find Out About Other Books by Chantal Gadoury at https://www.chantalgadoury.com/

 

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About the Author

Amazon Best Selling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published “The Songs in Our Hearts” with 48Fourteen Publishing, and “Allerleirauh” with Parliament House Press, with future titles to follow. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. Writing novels for Chantal has become a life-long dream come true! When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of DD Iced Coffee, and watching Disney classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, Sister and furry-‘brother’ (aka, puppy) Taran.

Contact Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chantalgadouryfans/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cgadoury16

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chantalgadouryauthor/

Website: https://www.chantalgadoury.com/

 

 

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Trailer Reveal: Seducing Kaden

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Seducing Kaden, an all-new taboo romance from USA Today bestselling author Siobhan Davis is coming April 30th!

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Kaden

The woman I love will never be mine because she already belongs to another.

I’ve tried everything to forget her, but it’s impossible when she occupies a starring role in my dreams. My eyes are glued to her shapely curves whenever I see her around campus, and it doesn’t help that she looks as miserable as I feel.

I wonder if she misses me as much as I miss her.

Short of putting a bullet through the skull of that gangster she’s married to, I’m stuck in a hellhole of my own making.

Until fate intervenes, setting us on a collision course we can’t avoid.

Evelina

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of falling in love. The all-consuming sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of love I swooned over in movies.

It didn’t take long for that fairytale notion to come crashing down around me. Now I’m trapped in a marriage I despise with no way out.

The only light in the dark is Kaden Kennedy—the one true love of my life. He doesn’t know he is, because I’m forced to love him from afar, condemned to toss and turn at night, crying over everything I want and all I can never have.

Seeing him day in, day out, destroys me, but there’s no other choice; I had to push him away to keep him safe.

Because if my husband ever finds out I’m in love with another man, I won’t be the only one in danger.

While you don’t need to read the earlier books in this series to enjoy Seducing Kaden, it is highly recommended. This book is a contemporary new adult romance, and it is only suitable for readers aged eighteen and older due to mature content, sexual situations, and language.

This story includes details of an extramarital affair, so if you don’t like cheating or controversial storylines, then this book isn’t for you.

Preorder Today!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2pulBUW

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/SeducingKaden

Goodreads link: http://smarturl.it/SeducingKadenGR

Watch the Trailer Today!

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USA Today bestselling author Siobhan Davis writes emotionally intense young adult and new adult romantic fiction with swoon-worthy romance, complex characters, and tons of unexpected plot twists and turns that will have you flipping the pages beyond bedtime! She is the author of the international bestselling Kennedy Boys, Saven, and True Calling series’.

Siobhan’s family will tell you she’s a little bit obsessive when it comes to reading and writing, and they aren’t wrong. She can rarely be found without her trusty Kindle, a paperback book, or her laptop somewhere close at hand.

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Siobhan forged a successful corporate career in human resource management.

She resides in the Garden County of Ireland with her husband and two sons.

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Connect with Siobhan:

Subscribe to romance newsletter: http://smarturl.it/KennedyBoysList

Amazon Author Page: http://smarturl.it/SiobhanDavisAmazon

Author website: http://smarturl.it/SiobhanDavisWebsite

Goodreads profile: http://smarturl.it/SiobhanGoodreads

Facebook page: http://smarturl.it/SiobhanDavisFacebook

Twitter profile: http://smarturl.it/SiobhanDavisTwitter

Author Blog: http://smarturl.it/SiobhanDavisBlog

BookBub Author Page: http://smarturl.it/SiobhanDavisBookbub

 

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Cover Reveal: Garden of Ashes + Cursed: The Hunter Inside + Giveaway

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Garden of Ashes (Snow Spark Saga #2)

Publisher: Parliament House Press

It’s the one place no rustler ever wants to end up.

Having survived Rondo’s destruction, sixteen-year-old Rags has been taken captive by the Kingdom and sentenced to ‘rehabilitation’ at the Kingdom’s Threshing Floor, a notorious prison camp for hardened criminals.Those who refuse to serve the Kingdom go in…no one comes out.

Faced with this nightmarish reality, Rags is forced to use everything she knows as a rustler to survive against starvation, a cruel ward master, and torture at the hands of the Kingdom’s ruler, Hyperion. Given only two options—death, or conformation to the Kingdom’s ways—she’s forced to play the Kingdom’s twisted game.

With the help of the Kingdom’s second-in-command, Henrick Oreson, and its charismatic luresman, Colton Caelan Fieldson, Rags must find a way to play a convincingly false role she was never meant to play and show the Kingdom she can be ‘rehabilitated’ to its standards. But with the deciding evaluation rigged in the Kingdom’s favor, failure is imminent…unless she can find a way to turn lies into truth and achieve the impossible: actually, escape the Threshing Floor.

Find Out About Other Books by Kathryn Lee Martin at https://www.rynleewrites.com/

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About the Author

Kathryn Lee Martin, known as ‘Ryn’ by friends and colleagues, spends her days saddling up the literary horse and hitting the “what if” trails on a quest to tell the outlaws’ and underdogs’ stories. Not one to shy away from the darker side of stories for the older young adult audience, her works often explore impossible odds and dire futures, falling into a fusion of post-apocalyptic science fiction meets the gritty lawlessness of the old west with a dash of fantasy and steampunk. Putting her unfortunate characters in situations where faith and fighting often go hand in hand, she’s not afraid to make things difficult for them and when she’s not corrupting society on paper, she’s usually leading the rebellion to save it.

An avid outdoors woman at heart, Kathryn spends her days living a quiet, faith-filled life on her family’s small farmstead where she can usually be found working in her vegetable garden, spending time with her family, and playing the role of ‘critter mom’ to a border collie, several cats, three goats, and a donkey. Prior to choosing to follow her dream of becoming an author, she spent almost a decade joyfully working at a small town, local gourd farm as a parts maker, part of the finishing department, and a proud member of its seasonal field crew.

Contact Links

Website: https://www.rynleewrites.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rynsagequill/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/RynSageQuill/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RynSageQuill

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RynSageQuill/

 

Cursed New Cover

Cursed: The Hunger Inside

Publisher: Parliament House Press

A war rages between kings and clans for centuries, nations split and kingdoms fallen. Caught in the midst of poverty and bedlam, twenty-year-old Aldor faces a choice: leave home and start anew, or stay and protect what little he has?

Aldor has only made one friend in his life and has never seen a legendary creature before. As soon as he steps beyond his door, he finds himself an outlaw, hunted by ghosts, dragons, and bandits. Forced into joining a team of misfits in a race to recover a sacred, lost artifact—Haran’s Stone—Aldor finds unexpected friendships and adventure with a huntsman, a smuggler, a scientist, and a princess. Just when their quest begins to appear promising, disaster strikes, wielding the unexpected—and the terrifying!

Aldor’s life will never be the same as he struggles with fear, loss, love for the very first time. As the roots of his world crumble to dust, Aldor and company mustn`t lose themselves in a fury of cannibals, monsters, and illusions; their greatest challenge yet.

Find Out About Other Books by Casey Millette at http://www.caseymillette.com

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About the Author

Casey M. Millette, sixteen, has been into writing since she was five. Her love of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia has inspired her to write the Cursed series. Casey lives just outside Atlanta, Georgia with her family and cat, Hudson. You can follow her on the Casey M. Millette Facebook page, Instagram, and her website: http://www.caseymmillette.com.

Contact Links
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/warriorcasey5/

 

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Cover Reveal: The Halves of Us + Giveaway

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The Halves of Us – Book One

Publisher: Parliament House Press

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Twin Sisters: one destined to rule, one cursed to destroy.

Some say blood is thicker than water. But for twin sisters, Adie and Aura, their connection runs even deeper than blood.

After investigating a surprise attack carried out by dark souls, Aura uncovers a family secret: she is the fulfillment of a curse placed upon her family centuries ago.

While Aura is destined to destroy their planet, Thindoral, Adie is fated to follow in their mother’s footsteps and become Ruler, but even Adie’s path comes with revelations. Dangerous premonitions plague her dreams, all depicting Thindoral’s demise at the hand of her sister.

As darkness takes control of her mind, Aura must determine whether defying fate and time is the choice that will seal her destruction, or if self-sacrifice will save all she holds dear. Meanwhile, Adie is faced with an impossible decision: save her sister, or protect their world?

Find Out About Other Books by Sydney Paige Richardson at http://sydneypaigerichardson.com

 

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About the Author

Even before Sydney could hold a pencil in her hand, she was making up stories in her head. Sydney wrote her first book in the second grade, Girls [sorry Lena Dunham], about her and her best friends in college [because college was super cool when you were 8] who went on treasure hunts and fought bad guys with their super powers. Her second grade teacher was so impressed, she laminated a cover and bound it. That will forever be the moment Sydney dreamed of holding a copy of her own book and placing it on a shelf.

Now all grown up, Sydney still stays in the fantasy world, fashioning worlds where the power of a star can be harnessed and used for time travel, flying is just as easy as walking here on earth – and her best friends are fairies. Sydney represented by Rebecca Angus at Golden Wheat Literary. The Halves of Us, Book 1 is her first novel. Sydney resides in Austin, Texas with her nerdy husband, Cody, and three fat cats, Vincent Van Gogh, Mufasa, and Bella.

 

Contact Links

Website: http://sydneypaigerichardson.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sydneypaigeauthor/

 

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Book Cover Reveal: Soul Seekers Series #2, #3, and #4 + Giveaway

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The Room of Arches (Soul Seekers Series)- Book Two

Publisher: Parliament House Press

Peyton is beginning a new chapter in her life. Abstinent and coming to accept herself, she is finally conceding to her ability.

Now that Peyton has chosen to see her powers as a gift, she is open to the possibility of change all around her.

Peyton knows she can’t stick to working her part-time job at the solicitor’s for much longer, so when an opportunity presents itself, despite being warned to stay away, she can’t resist who she is meant to be…

 

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The Beginning (Soul Seekers Series) – Book Three

Publisher: Parliament House Press

Peyton is considering using her gift to help others. She realizes she’s already helped so many people, both alive and dead, that perhaps it can continue. But can she do it alone?

While Peyton tries to persuade Olivia to join her in a new business venture, she battles the particularly brusque owners of a haunted hotel in her first paying ghost-hunting job.

Peyton seeks the help of Sylvia, the psychic, to hone her skills, all the while trying to coax the spirit out of The Grand Hotel before it’s too late…

 

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Dead Drunk (Soul Seekers Series)- Book Four

Publisher: Parliament House Press

Peyton has found sobriety and launched her ghost-hunting business, Soul Seekers, only to discover things aren’t as easy as they might have seemed. The stress between her and her best friend and business partner, Olivia, is beginning to take its toll when they land their first official case.

Peyton comes face to face with not only a spirit, but her own personal demons in her assignment to clear a house. Will she manage to ward them both off before they destroy her?

Find Out About Other Books by Alice J. Black at https://www.facebook.com/alice.j.black.doors/  & www.writers.com

 

About the Author

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Alice lives and works in the North East of England with her partner and slightly ferocious cats! Alice has always enjoyed writing from being a child when she used to carry notebooks and write stories no matter where she went. Nothing much has changed and she writes all manner of fiction with a tendency to lean towards the dark side. Most of her work is rooted in darkness, her inspiration coming from a macabre selection of reads as well as the dreams that frequent her sleep.

Her debut novel, The Doors, was released three years ago and her next novel release, A Shadowed Beginning, the first part in a series of seven, was released in autumn. Several of her short stories have been included in anthologies with various presses and she is always working on more. When she’s not writing, she always has a book in her hand and will read from whatever genre suits her that day.

Contact Links
Facebook: www.facebook.com/alice.j.black.doors

Twitter: @alicejblack

Blog: https://alicejblack.wordpress.com/

Instagram: alicejblack

To sign up to Alice’s newsletter follow this link:

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Two Free Books + One New Book!

 

In honor of our book release, Bacon Pie, which you can purchase at these spots….

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Ibooks * Kobo

Me and Gerardo are offering our other contemporary books for free on Amazon for the next few days!

You can download Summerlypse by Gerardo Delgadillo for free here on Amazon

You can download Hearts Are Like Balloons by ME for free here on Amazon

 

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Photo Credit

 

Have you purchased Bacon Pie yet?

 

Sky in the Deep: Excerpt + Author Q & A

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Summary:

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

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Excerpt:

“I saw him. I saw Iri.”

He wrapped the torn cloth around my arm, tying it tight. “What are you talking about?”

I pushed his hands from me, crying. “Listen to me! Iri was

here! I saw him!”

His hands finally stilled, confusion lighting in his eyes. “I was fighting a man. He was about to . . .” I shuddered,

remembering how close to death I’d come—closer than I’d ever been. “Iri came out of the fog and saved me. He was with the Riki.” I stood, taking his hand and pulling him toward the tree line. “We have to find him!”

But my father stood like a stone tucked into the earth. His face turned up toward the sky, his eyes blinking against the sunlight.

“Do you hear me? Iri’s alive!” I shouted, holding my arm against my body to calm the violent throbbing around the gash.

His eyes landed on me again, tears gathered at the cor- ners like little white flames. “Sigr. He sent Iri’s soul to save you, Eelyn.”

“What? No.”

“Iri’s made it to Sólbjǫrg.” His words were frightening and delicate, betraying a tenderness my father never showed. He stepped forward, looking down into my eyes with a smile. “Sigr has favored you, Eelyn.”

Mýra stood behind him, her green eyes wide beneath her unraveling auburn braids.

“But—” I choked. “I saw him.”

“You did.” A single tear rolled down my father’s rough cheek and disappeared into his beard. He pulled me into him, wrapping his arms around me, and I closed my eyes, the pain in my arm so great now that I could hardly feel my hand.

I blinked, trying to understand. I had seen him. He was

there.

“We will make a sacrifice tonight.” He let me go before he pressed his hands to my face again. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you scream for me like that. You scared me, sváss.” A laugh was buried deep in his chest.

“I’m sorry,” I murmured. “I just . . . I thought . . .”

He waited for me to meet his eyes again. “His soul is at peace. Your brother saved your life today. Be happy.” He clapped a hand against my good arm, nearly knocking me down.

I wiped at my wet cheeks with the palm of my hand, turn- ing from the faces that were still watching me. There were very few times I’d cried in front of my clansmen. It made me feel small. Weak, like the early winter grass beneath our boots.

I sniffed back the tears, piecing my face back together as my father nodded in approval. It was what he had taught me—to be strong. To steel myself. He turned back to the field, getting to work, and I followed with Mýra, trying to smooth my ragged breath. To hush the waves crashing in my head. We walked toward our camp, collecting the weapons of fallen Aska warriors along the way. I watched my father

from the corner of my eye, still unable to shake Iri’s face from my mind.

My feet stopped at the edge of a puddle and I looked at my reflection. Dirt spattered across my angled face and neck. Blood dried in long, golden braids. Eyes a frozen blue, like Iri’s. I sucked in a breath, looking up to the thin white clouds brushed across the sky to keep another tear from falling.

“Here,” Mýra called to me from where she was crouched over an Aska woman. She was lying on her side, eyes open and arms extended like she was reaching for us.

I carefully unbuckled her belt and scabbard, piling them with the others before I started on the armor vest. “Did you know her?”

“A little.” Mýra reached down to close the woman’s eyes with her fingertips. She gently brushed the hair back from her face before she began, the words coming softly. “Aska, you have reached your journey’s end.”

In the next breath, I joined with her, saying the ritual words we knew by heart. “We ask Sigr to accept your soul into Sólbjǫrg, where the long line of our people hold torches on the shadowed path.”

My voice faded, letting Mýra speak first. “Take my love to my father and my sister. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.”

I closed my eyes as the prayer found a familiar place on my tongue. “Take my love to my mother and my brother. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.”

I swallowed down the lump in my throat before I opened my eyes and looked down into the woman’s peaceful face one more time. I hadn’t been able to say the words over Iri’s body the way I had when my mother died, but Sigr had taken him anyway.

“Have you ever seen something like that before?” I whis- pered. “Something that wasn’t real?”

Mýra blinked. “It was real. Iri’s soul is real.”

“But he was older—a man. He spoke to me. He touched

me, Mýra.”

She stood, shifting an armful of axes up onto her shoul- der. “I was there that day, Eelyn. Iri died. I saw it with my own eyes. That was real.” It was the same battle that took Mýra’s sister. We’d been friends before that day, but we hadn’t really needed each other until then.

I remembered it so clearly—the picture of him like a re- flection on ice. Iri’s lifeless body at the bottom of the trench. Lying across the perfect white snow, blood seeping out around him in a melted pool. I could still see his blond hair fanned out around his head, his empty eyes wide open and staring into nothing.

“I know.”

Mýra reached up, squeezing my shoulder. “Then you know it wasn’t Iri—not his flesh.”

I nodded, swallowing hard. I prayed for Iri’s soul every day. If Sigr had sent him to protect me, he really was in Sólbjǫrg—our people’s final sunset. “I knew he would make it.” I breathed through the tightness in my throat.

“We all did.” A small smile lifted on her lips.

I looked back down to the woman lying between us. We would leave her as she was—as she died—with honor. Like we did with all our fallen warriors.

Like we’d left Iri.

“Was he as handsome as he was before?” Mýra’s smile turned wry as her eyes flickered back up to meet mine.

“He was beautiful,” I whispered.

Final_Young, Adrienne_NO CREDIT

Author Q&A:

What inspired SKY IN THE DEEP? How did the idea and Eelyn come to you? Do you have any favorite Viking stories?

The sibling betrayal was definitely the first inspiration for this story. I was driving in the pouring rain on this country road and that first scene just hit me – Eelyn, seeing her brother on the battlefield after thinking that he was dead for five years. I pulled over on the side of the road and scribbled a million notes on an old envelope. I was immediately hooked to the idea and I wanted to know what had happened. I started writing that first chapter and I just never stopped.

What type of research did you do for your characters and world-building? What languages did you study to implement the languages that the Aska and the Riki speak? What was the strangest thing you had to research for this book?

I did a ton of research for this story. I actually really love to research things so it was a lot of fun. A lot of it was stuff like clothing, landscape, weapons, food, etc. But I did a lot of research into Norse mythology as well to build a foundation for this world. The language used is Old Norse, but it’s a dead language so studying it was really difficult. There is a lot of controversy about it among scholars and there’s no real way to fully understand it, so I just did my best based on my own investigation. I’m definitely not an expert! The weirdest thing I had to research was how to tear out someone’s eyeball. Yuck.

What was your writing process like for SKY IN THE DEEP?

Complete and utter obsession. When I draft, I get really buried in the world and I don’t really come up for air until I get to the end. I write as much as I can and limit my intake of other influencers that could mess with my mindset. I don’t watch TV or movies or listen to music that’s not on my playlist, and I kind of don’t have a social life until it’s done.

What was your hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?

I really didn’t struggle to get this story on the page the way I have with other books so I really don’t know what the hardest scene to write was. But the easiest was the first chapter. I wrote it so fast and it just clicked in so perfectly.

Which of your characters are you the most like? Who was your favorite to write?

Eelyn! We have so much in common and she really inspires me. But I think Halvard was the most fun to write. I really, really love him.

Do you have a soundtrack for SKY IN THE DEEP? Can you share a couple songs? What would Eelyn’s favorite song be?

Yes! Music plays a HUGE role in my writing process and I have a playlist for every project. The ones I probably listened to the most while drafting SKY are To the Hills by Laurel, Bare by Wildes, and Rise Up – Reprise by Foxes. But a link to the whole playlist is on my site!

What books have inspired you to write? What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

The ones that inspired me to write are nothing like my books. One of the most influential ones for me was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, because the human element is so beautiful and the author explores so many things in that book that really took my breath away. I wanted to write stories that went deep like that, but I love fantasy so I try to it within that realm.

Any advice on querying? Or writing advice for aspiring writers?

Querying – do not just sign with any agent who will take you. Make a dream agent list of qualified agents who have good reputations and make consistent sales. Query them. If they don’t bite, then write another book that they might want. Believe me when I say it is worth waiting for the right agent!

Any details about the companion novel?

I can’t say anything about the companion novel yet! But I’m hoping that we can start talking about it soon because I am really excited about it!

Copy of Sky in the Deep_Whim 1 (1)

Excerpt:

“I saw him. I saw Iri.”

He wrapped the torn cloth around my arm, tying it tight. “What are you talking about?”

I pushed his hands from me, crying. “Listen to me! Iri was

here! I saw him!”

His hands finally stilled, confusion lighting in his eyes. “I was fighting a man. He was about to . . .” I shuddered,

remembering how close to death I’d come—closer than I’d ever been. “Iri came out of the fog and saved me. He was with the Riki.” I stood, taking his hand and pulling him toward the tree line. “We have to find him!”

But my father stood like a stone tucked into the earth. His face turned up toward the sky, his eyes blinking against the sunlight.

“Do you hear me? Iri’s alive!” I shouted, holding my arm against my body to calm the violent throbbing around the gash.

His eyes landed on me again, tears gathered at the cor- ners like little white flames. “Sigr. He sent Iri’s soul to save you, Eelyn.”

“What? No.”

“Iri’s made it to Sólbjǫrg.” His words were frightening and delicate, betraying a tenderness my father never showed. He stepped forward, looking down into my eyes with a smile. “Sigr has favored you, Eelyn.”

Mýra stood behind him, her green eyes wide beneath her unraveling auburn braids.

“But—” I choked. “I saw him.”

“You did.” A single tear rolled down my father’s rough cheek and disappeared into his beard. He pulled me into him, wrapping his arms around me, and I closed my eyes, the pain in my arm so great now that I could hardly feel my hand.

I blinked, trying to understand. I had seen him. He was

there.

“We will make a sacrifice tonight.” He let me go before he pressed his hands to my face again. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you scream for me like that. You scared me, sváss.” A laugh was buried deep in his chest.

“I’m sorry,” I murmured. “I just . . . I thought . . .”

He waited for me to meet his eyes again. “His soul is at peace. Your brother saved your life today. Be happy.” He clapped a hand against my good arm, nearly knocking me down.

I wiped at my wet cheeks with the palm of my hand, turn- ing from the faces that were still watching me. There were very few times I’d cried in front of my clansmen. It made me feel small. Weak, like the early winter grass beneath our boots.

I sniffed back the tears, piecing my face back together as my father nodded in approval. It was what he had taught me—to be strong. To steel myself. He turned back to the field, getting to work, and I followed with Mýra, trying to smooth my ragged breath. To hush the waves crashing in my head. We walked toward our camp, collecting the weapons of fallen Aska warriors along the way. I watched my father

from the corner of my eye, still unable to shake Iri’s face from my mind.

My feet stopped at the edge of a puddle and I looked at my reflection. Dirt spattered across my angled face and neck. Blood dried in long, golden braids. Eyes a frozen blue, like Iri’s. I sucked in a breath, looking up to the thin white clouds brushed across the sky to keep another tear from falling.

“Here,” Mýra called to me from where she was crouched over an Aska woman. She was lying on her side, eyes open and arms extended like she was reaching for us.

I carefully unbuckled her belt and scabbard, piling them with the others before I started on the armor vest. “Did you know her?”

“A little.” Mýra reached down to close the woman’s eyes with her fingertips. She gently brushed the hair back from her face before she began, the words coming softly. “Aska, you have reached your journey’s end.”

In the next breath, I joined with her, saying the ritual words we knew by heart. “We ask Sigr to accept your soul into Sólbjǫrg, where the long line of our people hold torches on the shadowed path.”

My voice faded, letting Mýra speak first. “Take my love to my father and my sister. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.”

I closed my eyes as the prayer found a familiar place on my tongue. “Take my love to my mother and my brother. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.”

I swallowed down the lump in my throat before I opened my eyes and looked down into the woman’s peaceful face one more time. I hadn’t been able to say the words over Iri’s body the way I had when my mother died, but Sigr had taken him anyway.

“Have you ever seen something like that before?” I whis- pered. “Something that wasn’t real?”

Mýra blinked. “It was real. Iri’s soul is real.”

“But he was older—a man. He spoke to me. He touched

me, Mýra.”

She stood, shifting an armful of axes up onto her shoul- der. “I was there that day, Eelyn. Iri died. I saw it with my own eyes. That was real.” It was the same battle that took Mýra’s sister. We’d been friends before that day, but we hadn’t really needed each other until then.

I remembered it so clearly—the picture of him like a re- flection on ice. Iri’s lifeless body at the bottom of the trench. Lying across the perfect white snow, blood seeping out around him in a melted pool. I could still see his blond hair fanned out around his head, his empty eyes wide open and staring into nothing.

“I know.”

Mýra reached up, squeezing my shoulder. “Then you know it wasn’t Iri—not his flesh.”

I nodded, swallowing hard. I prayed for Iri’s soul every day. If Sigr had sent him to protect me, he really was in Sólbjǫrg—our people’s final sunset. “I knew he would make it.” I breathed through the tightness in my throat.

“We all did.” A small smile lifted on her lips.

I looked back down to the woman lying between us. We would leave her as she was—as she died—with honor. Like we did with all our fallen warriors.

Like we’d left Iri.

“Was he as handsome as he was before?” Mýra’s smile turned wry as her eyes flickered back up to meet mine.

“He was beautiful,” I whispered.

 

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