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Avalon Dreams Character Interview

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“It was impossible they had met before – of that she was certain. Yet his hold on her was undisputable, an irrational pull to the utmost recesses of her soul.”

Vivienne du Lac has everything she could wish for – a normal, peaceful life, a good job, cushy nest egg, and a semi-social nightlife. The only problem? She’s clueless to being the reincarnation of the Lady of the Lake, mythical sorceress from King Arthur’s time, and Merlin’s apprentice.

Sebastien Dubois is the guy you wouldn’t take home to mom and dad. He’s the one you jump off on a motorcycle with, to ride into the sunset. The sexual chemistry between them is sizzling from the start – but there’s more to the tall, dark and handsome stranger. When a magical past tumbles into her orderly reality, he is Vivienne’s only hope at survival.

Caught between darkness and light, a battle she has no intention to fight – let alone the knowledge to win – Vivienne quickly finds out not even closest allies can be trusted.

Can she look within and access powers from long past, become the enchantress Merlin meant her to be… Or will she lose it all over love, for Sebastien’s salvation? This is a battle between good and evil you don’t want to miss.

Character interview with Vivienne from Avalon Dreams

Vivienne, what do you remember about your past life?
My memories are still a bit fuzzy, but I’d say what really sticks is the freedom I was given. My father, King Adrien, was a firm believer in supporting me through choices not necessarily allowed women my age – or stature – back then.
I also remember my vast kingdom, Elsior. The beautiful mountains, the incredible sunsets, it was pure magic.
Then there were my trainings with Merlin, and those memories are bittersweet now.
But what really sticks with me, even through the memories I only remember vaguely, is definitely the freedom I was allowed.

Continue reading

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YA Scavenger Hunt: Team Red

YA Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Red Team

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are Five contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the RED TEAM–but there is also a blue team, a green team, a gold team, and a purple team, for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the RED TEAM, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
 
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 7th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
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Today, I am hosting T.A. MACLAGAN on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
T.A. Maclagan is a born and bred Kansas girl. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in anthropology, she’s studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama and the very exotic and always elusive American farmer. It was as she was writing her ‘just the facts’ dissertation that T.A. felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing.
 
Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book here!
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
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“An intricate, debut spy thriller…readers will keep turning pages, and the surprise ending will have them anxiously awaiting a sequel.” ―Booklist 
 
“…the intersection of action, espionage, and drama makes for solid…entertainment: readers will gladly sit back and watch Alexandra navigate the obstacle course that comes with playing her role too well. It’s a strong debut for New Zealand author Maclagan.” ―Publisher’s Weekly
Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation. She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash. Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency.

For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing. But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now.

**In honor of YASH, ALEXANDRA GASTONE IS FREE on Amazon from April 2 to April 6**

Exclusive Content:

 

Prologue

Seven Years Ago

I stared at the video screen. At the girl with my eyes—one blue and one gray/green. I’d seen this video hundreds of times so I knew it by heart. It was of Alexandra Gastone walking home from school with a friend. I knew every laugh, smile and eye-roll. I knew when she would play with the locket around her neck and when she would swipe a piece of hair behind her ear, twisting it at the end of the motion. I swiped my own newly shorn hair behind my ear, once, twice, three times, always taking care to twist at the end. The action felt natural now. After months of watching the video it was ingrained. I smiled into the mirror at my side. Alexandra’s smile was crooked and mine now echoed hers, the left-side dipping down. I had to strain to keep the smile in place. Seeing a face in the mirror that was not my own jarred me every time. I let the smile fade and brought a hand up to trace my new jaw, studying the stronger angle. I ran a finger down my new nose. It was smaller now and more refined. The changes might have made me prettier, but I missed my old face. A part of me had been stolen.

I jerked as a cold hand came to rest on my shoulder.

“What is your name?” asked Mistress.

“Alexandra Gastone,” I replied, dropping my voice to match Alexandra’s deeper alto.

“What is your age? Who were your parents? Where are you from?”

Unlike many kids who liked to mumble, Alexandra spoke with great elocution, the movements of her mouth a lip reader’s dream. “I’m eleven years old,” I said, molding my mouth to each word.  At Compound Perun, Oline, my native language, had been forbidden within a few months of my arrival. I now spoke with a perfect American accent.  “My parents were Gregory and Tabitha Gastone. I live in Topeka, Kansas.”

“Who is your guardian?”

The video screen before me went black for a second and then a different face appeared. It was a new video I hadn’t seen although I recognized the silver hair, weathered face, and intelligent blue eyes. I glanced at my friend Varos who was controlling the feed. He offered me a smile, his chubby face pinched. I could tell that Varos was equally as nervous. I wasn’t the only one about to embark on a new assignment.

“My grandfather, Albert Gastone,” I said, turning back to the video. Back to the man whose life I was about to infiltrate.

“Where does Gastone work? What are his hobbies?”

“He works at the CIA. He’s one of the CIA’s public liaisons and is an analyst specializing in the Southern Caucasus. Albert likes to read, travel, and play strategic games like Chess. He has a gun collection.”

“When was the last time you saw your grandfather?”

“I was five years old. He was at my birthday party and gave me a chess set.”

Mistress squeezed my shoulder. I stifled a shiver as she kissed the top of my head. “Very good, my little silver fox,” said Mistress, bringing her icy hands to my cheeks. She turned me to the mirror, her face coming to within millimeters of my own. I could feel the wetness of her breath, smell the vodka. My skin crawled, but I remained still. We gazed at the mirror’s reflection. “You must think strategically at all times. Gastone has lived alone for years. It may be hard for him to accept you. Show an interest in his hobbies and do not disturb his quiet lifestyle. Position yourself as a protégé. Outside of your life with Gastone, you are to assess the strategic value of all those you meet. Befriend those of worth and discard the rest.”

“Yes, Mistress.”

“Milena Rokva is dead. You are now Alexandra Gastone. Remember that, every second of every day. Albert Gastone may not have seen Alexandra in years but he will inherit all the photos and videos that have ever been taken of her.”

I studied Mistress’s cold blue eyes. They were daring me to prove myself. I smiled Alexandra’s crooked smile. From deep within I pulled out a laugh, letting my breath catch almost immediately on it as Alexandra always did, as if shocked by her own amusement.     “I’m Alexandra Gastone, the girl next door. I like to play soccer, swim and read. I like school and my favorite subject is math.” I brushed my hair behind my ear, twisting it at the end of the motion. “I have a crush on a boy named Peter.”

Mistress nodded at me while flicking a hand toward Varos. In response, new images flooded the screen. They were a visual torrent, a deluge to which I’d become well accustomed. The American flag, mansions, fancy cars, fat people living fat lives, money, money, money…the inundation continued driving deep into my psyche… American soldiers in Olissa, their tanks on our streets, their army base on our land. The images flew by…a reel of horrors…and then… without warning, they stopped. The image that remained would echo in my bones, forever and always. My mother—dead, a shot to the head.

In the photo, she lies on ground muddy with blood and I’m next to her, streaked in crimson, hugging a body that life left long ago. My eyes are hollow. Haunted.

I can feel it rush back to me, the crack of the gun, the sound of my mother’s body dropping, the warmth of her life seeping away as night fell. One bullet, less than a second, and everything changed. I was broken and she was gone. A week later, I was at Perun.

The image was a knife carving my insides, but I couldn’t look away. It slowly began to dissolve into the next slide, and I wished the memory of that day would fade as easily. A map of Olissa replaced the shattering photo of my mother.

A small country of ten million, Olissa had suffered centuries of oppression because it was nestled in between world titans. On the animated screen, the great country of Olissa began to shrink as it was devoured by powerful neighbors.  The video said it all. I served so that Olissa would not disappear. So that it would not be forgotten. Entranced, I actually flinched when the image vanished, replaced again by the picture of Albert Gastone.

I glanced at Mistress.

“A reminder,” said Mistress. “Of why you serve. What you are about to do won’t be without its trials. Everyday you must remember why you do this. Why you fight. It is for Olissa and her people.”

“I will remember. For Olissa. Always.”

For my mother. Always.

Mistress kissed my cheek and stepped away. “Very good. Now it’s time to prepare you for the accident.”

Despite my anxiety, I wanted to laugh at Mistress’s words. They sounded so casual. Like I was simply going to take a bath or pack a bag. I wanted, with all my heart, to serve and honor my mother, but was still frozen with fear. I’d only just healed from the plastic surgery and now there would be far more pain. I had to look like a girl who barely survived a car crash. Two men waited outside the door for Mistress’s orders. Trying to see past the pain that was looming, I glanced at the video screen and the man named Albert who would soon believe he was my grandfather. He looked like a good man. His face was gentle and his smile warm. I wondered briefly if he would come to love me, but then pushed the idea from my thoughts. His love didn’t matter, only his name. It was a name that would get me into a good college and then into the CIA, the very agency where he worked. One day, I would be positioned to pass strategic intel back to Perun.

Varos stood and cleared his throat, drawing our attention. “May I have a word in private with—” Varos looked to me. “With Alexandra. As I am her handler, I have a few final things to discuss.”

“Of course,” said Mistress, her words of agreement not matching the scowl on her face. Mistress liked Varos as much as she liked me, which was to say not at all. Seven years my senior, Varos was a chubby asthmatic. Mistress despised physical weakness and given the opportunity, would have loved to crush Varos into shape or watch him perish in the attempt. Fortunately for Varos, he was exceedingly smart and had high-ranking parents within the movement. Because of this, he was groomed for an advisory role at Perun instead of an operative position and was kept out of Mistress’s clutches. Only eighteen years old, he was about to become the youngest handler and operations leader in the field.

Mistress turned to me before leaving, “For the blood of the fallen, for the blood of the living. For Olissa we fight.”

I stood, bringing my hand up in a salute. “For Olissa we fight.”

Mistress left without further word, her hard-soled boots tapping out a steady rhythm on the floor.

I turned to Varos as he began to walk over and our eyes locked. I could feel myself shaking and was trying to regain control. All I wanted to do was race across the room and throw myself into his arms for one last moment of comfort, but I made myself stay rooted in place. I thought of Varos as my friend and would have once shared my fears with him. Now that he was my handler, however, that relationship had to end. Varos had told me so himself. He would have to keep his distance in order to remain objective about my performance.

Varos reached me after what seemed an eternity, time moving slowly but also coming too quickly. Behind the door, a beating awaited. I ran my fingers over the bell-shaped burn on my wrist—one of Mistress’s punishments. At Perun, I was no stranger to pain, but I knew those instances were nothing compared to what was only moments away.

Varos put a hand on my shoulder. Unlike Mistress’s, his hand was warm. Inviting. He pulled me to him and wrapped me in a hug. I felt a surge of relief that he could be my friend for just a few more seconds. “Albert Gastone is a kind man, Little O,” said Varos, using my nickname. “And I’ll be there to guide you. You were made for this. You have all the skills you’ll need.”

The door hinges whined as two of Perun’s enforcers entered the room—Negar and Raykom. Raykom had been one of my Sambo instructors, Negar weaponry. They carried several props with them to aid in their work—straps, a glass window, a two-by-four. My injuries needed to mirror those of a car accident. There were no shortcuts.

Varos pulled away after kissing my forehead.  “For Olissa we fight. For your mother,” he said, offering his own salute.

Unable to speak or coordinate my actions, I only nodded in response. The pain was for a greater cause and because of that I would bear it with pride and dignity. I would do anything for the cause and for my country. It was an honor. Varos smiled weakly. “See you on the other side, Little O.”

I watched each step Varos took in leaving the room. Fifteen in all.

It took Raykom ten steps to reach me. Negar only eight.

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And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Candace Robinson, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 13. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the RED TEAM and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author! AUSTIN ASLAN
Note: some authors will offer an additional, individual giveaway. If you want to do this, please feel free to do so.
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Are you joining in on YASH today to try and win the giveaway?

April Reads 2019

I only have one for sure read this month and it’s Defy Me. The Shatter Me series is my favorite ever so please don’t let the two remainder books fail me!

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Some April 2019 releases!

 

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What are you reading this month?

#WriteMentor Wishlist

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Hello possible mentees! I’m so ecstatic that you came to visit me!

Some hopefully interesting things about me:

I’ve lived in Texas my whole life and the weather is ridiculous! I’m married with a nine-year-old daughter, a cat, and a bearded dragon. Anyone who gifts me with avocados or white chocolate has my forever gratitude. I’m an 80s fanatic, but don’t worry because 70s and 90s are equally pleasing! Goonies never say die!

Books I’ve written:

Hearts Are Like Balloons, Bacon Pie, Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, The Bride of Glass, Clouded by Envy, and Veiled by Desire

If you still have any questions after reading this post, you can contact me on Twitter @literarydust or email me at literarydust@gmail.com

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

My Wishlist!

First, I’m only taking on YA. MG is great, but I feel like I wouldn’t be very helpful in that field! Here’s what I’m hoping to see!

1) Urban Fantasy/Fantasy/Paranormal/Horror/Gothic

I absolutely love monsters, fae, and weird. Think Holly Black, Sarah J. Maas, or Brenna Yovanoff. It can be set during any time frame—1800s, present day, fantasy world, you name it. I also really love things that have a gothic spin on it, like books by A.G. Howard. Let’s just say dark = good. If it’s something like vampires, let the book be dark. Example: The Lost Boys. One of the main things I looks for besides plot is the characters personalities! They can be morally gray, they can be weak, they can be strong, but the main thing is that they need to shine!

2) Contemporary

Quirky and romantic is my jam. Think Jenn Bennett! If it’s a super serious contemporary, I can’t do those. It has to be fun and cute and give me lots of heart eyes! With contemporary, I seriously love character driven books—those ones have my entire soul!

3) Must haves

There has to be some form of romance in the book. Doesn’t have to be the focus, just something minuscule at least. Witty banter gets bonus points!

What can you expect from me as a mentor?

I’m here to be part of YOUR team and help you to my best ability. Anytime you need to email me with questions, I’m here, and I can schedule phone calls as well!

First round, I’ll hit you up with big picture notes and inline notes inside the Word document. From there, we’ll see what other work needs to be done. Most importantly, this is your story! You aren’t going to agree with every single suggestion I make, but as a team we’ll collaborate and talk out our ideas until we get there together!

I’m not a cheerleader, but I’ll be cheering for you the whole way!

Good luck! I can’t wait to see what your manuscript brings!

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Are you submitting a manuscript to #WriteMentor?

The Onyx Crown: Excerpt + Giveaway

The OnyxCrownBlitz

To celebrate the release of Alan Hurst’s debut novel, The Onyx Crown, we are having a week-long book blitz! There will be an exclusive excerpt reveal, and a chance to win a digital copy of the book at the bottom!

Front CoverThe Onyx Crown #1

Publication Date: January 27th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

Add to Goodreads

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Excerpt

For the next few days, the three of them did virtually everything together, including games, horse riding, and spear training with the First Knight, who seemed to be getting sterner and tougher on them with every lesson. The First Knight, whose given name was Jorell Boro, was famed throughout the fourteen provinces as one of the best living warriors of all time. He’d made his name fighting for the upstart Regent Okon in his war of usurpation against the High King Toloron.

After Toloron was defeated, the regent rewarded Boro with the titles of First Knight of the Crown, Protector of the House of the First Prince, and the moniker “the Bloodless Death,” because supposedly his bladed spear could kill a person so quickly and with such precision that they would be dead before any blood was even visible.

Okon, along with the ruling conclave, also granted a treaty to Pala Jorell’s home kingdom of East Rhydor, including a guarantee that no Numerian troops would invade as long as the East Rhydor king or his son, the prince, were in power.

The First Prince had asked Pala Jorell to begin instructing Zadeemo in the ways of knighthood, and also Gesemni himself, most likely reasoning that Zadeemo would need a sparring partner when the First Prince was absent.

The First Knight had been reluctant to train a “commoner” in the higher arts of warfare but, at the insistence of both the First Prince and Zadeemo, had relented. Still, one could tell he took The Onyx Crown -26- great pains to make sure that Zadeemo understood some of the finer points of the moves he instructed, while not deigning to help Gesi.

Luckily for Gesi, he had tremendous aptitude and seemingly a womb-borne comprehension of instinctual combat. As such, he rarely needed the extra tutoring that Zadeemo couldn’t seem to do without. On this day, the two of them were instructed for quite some time on hand-spear counters, an ancient method of grappling that involved an unarmed warrior wresting the control of spears and other long objects away from their adversary. It was an extremely rough and unpolished method of fighting, and the First Knight took the better part of the morning explaining it to them.

Finally, the paladin suggested they work the puzzling elements out with a few rounds of sparring. Boro handed him a bladed spear and marked out a circle four en-yawo in diameter with his carving knife. Zadeemo was given a pair of lyocell gloves, which felt like silk but were made from the toughest fibers in existence. These were to be used to protect his hands from blade cuts.

Gesi shifted nervously. Always when they’d fought before they’d both been armed. Oddly, there’s a certain amount of safety involved when two weapons compete against each other. But with Zadeemo being unarmed, Gesi felt he’d have to be very careful. He was also very conscious of Zoe sitting on her tilbury, watching them both amusedly.

“Engage!” The First Knight’s voice rang out through the square as the boys stepped into the circle. Zadeemo immediately lowered his stance, thrusting the heel of his boot inside Gesi’s left calf to disrupt his balance, simultaneously snatching at the bladed spear handle.

Shuffle-stepping to counter, Gesi twisted the blade ninety degrees, forcing Zadeemo to withdraw his hands. He knew he was supposed to be nothing more than a punching target for Zadeemo, but in situations like this, his stubborn, competitive imoya always got in the way of things, and yes…he also wanted to show off a bit in front of Zoe.

Surprisingly, Zadeemo must’ve anticipated his counter because he nimbly moved to his left, crashing his knee into Gesi’s right thigh and causing him to grimace. Ducking underneath the spear, Zadeemo swung his right elbow fiercely into Gesi’s solar plexus. The few servants and townspeople who were looking on cheered loudly, including Zoe.

At that second, he felt like he was going to black out. Zadeemo may have been slower than a stuck rhino, but he had strength far beyond what most twelve-year-olds could muster.

Instinctively, he twisted his bladed spear to block the next grasping move he felt was coming, slid his left knee under Zadeemo’s right, and reverse-swung the spear in a sweeping arc toward Zadeemo’s chest. The cheering stopped, followed by a deathly silence as Zadeemo crashed down to the dirt awkwardly. Everyone was staring at Gesi. Some looked angry, some fearful, some puzzled. Even he didn’t know how he’d won.

*Available Now*

Amazon | Nook

For your chance to win a digital copy of this exciting new fantasy, click the link below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

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Alan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard. Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker. When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

Alan Hurst | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Book Blitz Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours

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Cover Contest Second Round!

Hey guys! Clouded by Envy as well as my friend’s, Amber R. Duell’s, Dream Keeper has made it to the second round for cover of the month! If you would like to vote for them both, that would be so awesome!

Vote Here

Clouded by Envy

Dream Keeper

 

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