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Author Interview: Sydney Paige Richardson + Excerpt

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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 controlled by the Wicked Willow, an evil  residing in a neighboring region, 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?

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Author Interview:

What gave you the idea for The Halves of Us?

Honestly, it came from my dreams. I have suffered from night terrors since I was a little girl. I was going through a super stressful time in my early twenties, which makes the night terrors worse and come more often. I started to write them down because it felt like I could have some sort of control over the situation. Slowly, on the advice of a dear friend of mine, I started to merge them together and build a story.

I know there’s twins in the story, do you have a favorite?

Oh my goodness! I don’t think I can choose. I relate to them each so much. Adie has night terrors and loves whole heartedly, and Aura is headstrong and fights for what she wants and those that she loves. There are pieces of me in each of them. I can relate to them both so much.

When you write, do you outline or just go with the flow?

I think it’s a mixture. With book 1, it really was about just merging all these dreams into a story. And then I realized this was going to be more than one book. With book 2 and book 3, I outlined some of my ideas. But when I started writing book 2 of the series it really took off in a direction I wasn’t expecting in some areas (including the death of a character I didn’t even know was coming – and resulted in my crying in my cubicle on my lunch break). So, I think I do both.

If you could describe The Halves of Us in three words what would they be?

Sisterhood, choice, and darkness.

When did you first start writing?

When I was a child. I wrote my first ‘book’ in second grade called Girls. My second grade teacher laminated it for me! It was when I knew I wanted to write stories. I kept a diary/journal and mostly did terrible poetry in those in my teenage years. I always knew I wanted to write – but I needed time to grow into my voice and aesthetic. I think I am still growing and learning every day from myself and the writing community– but I am so excited about sharing my stories with the world! I think that is my next step in continuing to mature as a writer.

Did you always know where the story would go for The Halves of Us?

With this book (part one of the trilogy), I definitely knew where most of it was going. Many of the scenes are based on my actual dreams/night terrors. But just like when you are dreaming, you start in one place and then go to another – and forget how you got there, I had to fill in the blanks and build the story. I felt that I always knew how it had to end, but it didn’t really hit me how the end would play out until I was in my car listening to Pandora. This song came on called In Reverence by David Tolk. It has no words to it, but the entire music just filled me and I began crying in my car because I knew exactly what I had to write.

What’s the hardest part about writing?

I think that changes from day to day. Some days it’s self-doubt. Some days it’s finding time. Some days your creativity leaves you and you feel stuck. Some days it’s forgetting where you saved that last file and having a panic attack. I think my main struggle now is really just self-doubt and worrying that no one will love it as much as I do.

If you could become any book character for a day, who would it be and why?

Any book character EVER? Oh man I am giving two answers. Maybe three…ahh crap. This is a tough question! Here is two, a new one I just met and an old one I have loved for a while:

NEW character I have just met: Well, I just finished reading Blinding Night by Chantal Gadoury, and it was such as beautiful story – and I find myself still thinking about it. I would love to be Summer for a day. Mostly because Darce and Morpheus, but also because I love the story. ;]

OLD character I love so much: Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter because she’s weird and says random things, but she’s oddly smart and compassionate – and I think we have that in common, plus HOGWARTS.

What’s your favorite color?

I love black. It is a majority of my wardrobe. But I also love purple, various shades of blue, and emerald green [basically just all the jewel tones ever].

What other books do you have planned next?

Well book 2 and 3 of The Halves of Us trilogy come out next year through Parliament House! I hope everyone continues to follow Adie and Aura’s journey.

I am also working on another YA fantasy called The Chains that Bind about djinn that live in a parallel world to Earth and a girl that gets stuck there after a wish goes wrong. It has a few re-telling factors of old fairy tales, but has the story stands on its own.

I have a two other WIPs that are top secret! ;]

Do you have any advice for other writers?

To just keep at it. It’s tough. Some days suck. The best thing you can do is find like-minded writers who help build you up and also offer you constructive criticism. Take it all in, listen to their advice – it’s the only way you can grow.

 

Excerpt:

[Scene in Adie’s perspective] Twin sisters Adie and Aura, along with the other final year students, are being escorted down to the Room of Papers by their Uncle Gossamer. There, in the Room of Papers, they will each discover their Fates…

“We’re headed down to the former dungeon area. It hasn’t been used as a prison in hundreds of years. It’s more of an archive area now, deep inside the mountain connected to the Dome.”

Adie turned to speak to Aura, but she was no longer by her side. How does she always disappear like that? We were supposed to do this together. They reached a large door she’d never been through but had always made her curious. Or more, it had always made Aura curious.

Don’t tell Aura not to touch something, because then all she wants to do is touch it.

The Forbidden Door.

It remained locked at all times. Long, thick bars of brass bolted the silver door, crisscrossing at different angles, making the door impenetrable. Adie shuddered as she heard her mother’s voice in her head. Behind this door lies the Fates of our people, guarded by a creature most foul.

Years ago, when she and Aura would sneak through the Dome and find all the secret tunnels, no matter how hard they searched, they couldn’t find another way past this door. The only ones allowed to enter were those in their final year of Teachings. They’d always discussed going through this door together.

Gossamer shuffled with his keys, but Adie’s eyes caught a quick slide of his hand as he pulled a key from his pocket she’d never seen before. The pale key had a soft glow. Adie gazed around, wondering if anyone else had noticed.

As Gossamer turned the key, he took a step back, and they watched the brass bars shift around the door, clicking as they each moved to the side. The door shuddered as it eased open. Following Gossamer’s lead, the students shuffled in, forcing Adie forward without Aura. The dark tunnel had white vines trembling along the walls and creeping beside them as they walked through.

As they reached a spacious open room, Gossamer fumbled through his array of keys until he reached a wooden one with an elongated and bent torso. He inserted the key in the only door in the room and turned it with ease. The door creaked, and all the students watched with wide eyes.

A humpback creature unlike any Adie had seen on Thindoral, stood in the doorway, towering over Gossamer. Peachy rugged skin covered him except for the tousled hair on his large round head. A sharp beak protruded from his face, and a thin opening stretched across it, creating what Adie assumed was a smile. Sharp, silver teeth lined his grin in multiple rows, and a foul rotten smell filled the air around him as he panted breathlessly.

Gossamer faced the students. “This is Mister Dilip. He will escort you, one at a time, into the Room of Papers.”

Mister Dilip looked about the main room of the dungeon with his beady pink eyes. He clasped his hands in front of him, revealing three wrinkly fingers on each hand, and sighed with anticipation. Adie stepped forward to get a better look and listened to his gruff voice.

“You will each enter individually. It’ll seem but an instant to those who remain waiting out here, but remember, time doesn’t bind this room. There are rows. There are stacks. There are thousands of papers.” His eyes grew wider with excitement as he gazed at the students surrounding him. In a deep, raspy voice, he continued, “You’re searching for one sheet of paper. The one that’s not blank. That one will reveal your Fate. Your destiny. Welcome to the Room of Papers.”

The students peered behind him, but all they saw was darkness. “Who’s first?” he asked as one eye spun around in its socket, making his pink iris vanish. All the students stepped back in a hushed gasp, except one.

Aura.

Her distraction was obvious. Her eyes remained glued to the floor and her hands were in fists. Her gaze broke when Voke croaked loudly. An Ogre next to him grunted and hunched his shoulders, trying to disappear into the crowd.

Mister Dilip’s three fingers motioned her forward. Adie watched as Aura held her head high as she walked toward the dark room. She paused only momentarily and glanced over her shoulder. Adie forced a smile and prayed Aura would come back with a pleasing Fate. Gossamer motioned for Aura to continue, and she entered the room, disappearing into darkness as he shut the door behind her.

What seemed like only thirty seconds later, a pale-faced Aura walked out of the room. Within her trembling hands, she held a large, rectangular white sheet of paper. She walked toward Adie quickly and stood next to her sister.

“How long was I gone?”

“About thirty seconds or so,” Adie whispered.

“Seemed like an hour.” Aura said, showing Adie her paper.

“I don’t see anything.”

“And you won’t,” Mister Dilip interjected. His eye rotated again. “You alone will see the image on your own paper. You alone will see your Fate. You can’t see the Fate of others. You may only share your Fate with those it involves.” He looked around at the crowd, all the students hesitant to be next.

Adie stepped forward, nominating herself.

“Come. Come, Future Ruler.”

Adie took a deep breath and straightened her shoulders. She walked forward and into the dark room, stealing a quick glance behind her to get reassurance from Aura, but the door had disappeared. Mister Dilip, Gossamer, Aura . . . everyone was gone.

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Author bio:

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

Now all grown up, my head 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 my best friends are fairies. My characters are dark and lost individuals, but your love for them will grow when you realize not everything is black and white. I am represented by Rebecca Angus at Golden Wheat Literary.

Connect with Sydney:

Facebook: @sydneypaigeauthor

Instagram: @sydneypaigedecides

Twitter: @sydsayingthings

Website: sydneypaigerichardson.com

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Just: Excerpt + Giveaway

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Publication Date: June 14th, 2018

Genre: Romantic Thriller

On golden Mediterranean sands, maverick doctor Scott Langbrook falls recklessly in love with his team leader, Fiyori Maziq. If only that was the extent of his falling, but Scott descends into the hellish clutches of someone much more sinister.

‘Just’ is a story of love and loss, of terror and triumph. Set in idyllic Cambridge and on the shores of the Med and Cornwall, our characters fight for their very lives on land and at sea.

An unforgettable novel which goes to the heart of our catastrophic times, and seeks salvation.

Add to Goodreads

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon

Excerpt

Scott Langbrook is in love with Fiyori Maziq, his team leader at Reach (a health organisation in the Mediterranean). In this abridged scene, he declares himself. – Jenny Morton Potts

Scott bought a bag of khubzit howsh and followed Fiyori along the streets as they become narrower and the buildings changed from concrete to mud. The doctor walked very fast, her loose clothing pulled tightly across her chest, till she reached a dark alley and stood before an exquisitely painted door.

Scott called softly to Fiyori and she turned, the key not yet in the lock.

He walked up to her. “What an incredibly beautiful door. The craftsmanship is stunn—”

“You think I don’t notice someone following me? You think I’d last more than five minutes?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—”

“What do you want?”

“I want…”

“You see this door, Langbrook? All the details, the intricate carving, the hand-mixed paint colours, the care? The sheet art of it?”

“Like I said, it’s incredible.”

“My friend made it. They saw how different it was, oh yeah. And they killed him for it. They dragged him along the streets to the Ahmi Sayeed Memorial. You know it?”

“Yes, I, it’s the one with the seahorse.”

“They kissed him, by the Memorial. They hugged my friend. They put their hands on his genitals. They laughed and told him they loved him. Then they sawed his head off. In broad daylight, cars going by, children walking home from school.”

“Oh my God, Dr Maziq. I’m sorry. I… really, I’m so sorry I followed you. I only wanted—”

“You wanted, you wanted, you wanted. To what? To fuck me?”

Scott took a deep breath. “I’ve made my apologies. Now I’ll say goodnight.”

Fiyori wrenched open the door. “Get in here, Langbrook.”

Inside there was just a bed with a crumpled white sheet on top and a rudimentary fireplace with a cast iron tripod. Beside that there was a pot on a trivet with an airline magazine covering the contents. Electric cable was gaffer taped to palm beams in the low ceiling. In the corner, there were a couple of small suitcases at various levels of packing or unpacking and an enormous wooden sideboard whose surface accommodated ablutions and food preparation.

“I’ve got cognac. Well, cooking brandy.” Fiyori switched on a light.

“Ideal.”

Scott found himself holding his breath as he watched her move around this dark, perfect, little hovel. Fiyori pulled her shirt off and wore nothing beneath. Scott’s lips were sticking together. Fiyori shook her dark hair around her shoulders. She poured water from a terracotta jug into a bowl and began soaping her body and splashing. Scott watched her intently and she showed no signs of objecting. Within seconds, she’d done enough and walked over to a suitcase and pulled out a white t-shirt to put on.

Fiyori poured brandy into two china cups. “I keep thinking I’m about to die.”

“Me too. Be strange to think anything else, round here.” Scott sat down next to her and took his cup.

Fiyori threw back her brandy and took off her socks. “Should I wash these?” She nodded at her feet.

Scott leaned towards her feet, taking a sniff. “There’s much worse feet than these. For instance.” He took off his own shoes and socks and wiggled his toes. As he watched her move her legs languidly on the bed, he was concerned that his erection would pop the buttons of his cargo pants.

“Listen, Langbrook, I’m quite tired and there is just an outside chance that I’ll fall asleep. Don’t take it personally. Condoms in the zippy bit of the suitcase. Could you? No, not that zip, one on the front pouch.”

“What’s this?” Scott held up – as if his opposable thumb and index finger were tweezers – a semi-automatic pistol.

“It’s known in common parlance as a gun.”

“You never got this through airport security.”

“Correct.”

“So… you bought it here?”

“I’ve had it for a very long time, Langbrook. I have it posted to me, kind of. Shipped. Place to place. Not through a letterbox, you understand. What do you carry?”

“Me? I don’t carry anything. What sort is it?”

“It’s a point two two Beretta. Hopeless in a crowd, but ideal for something intimate, like a close range head shot. I should get something new, but we’ve been together for many years and it would be disloyal to replace her. You know?”

Scott knew nothing, nothing at all, he was well aware of that. He set the Beretta down in the case and backed away. Now then, where was he. Completely nude, he let her have a good, long look and said, “I will take it very personally, if you fall asleep.”

“God, but you are lovely, aren’t you. Can we do it really quickly please. I know that’s not something you’ll hear from women generally, but you and I know how short life is.”

“And what is expected of us tomorrow.”

He stood in front of her and she came to the edge of the bed, reaching out very slowly to caress him; so intricate, like she was blind, and doing the exact lingering opposite of what she’d just said.

“Do you think of me, Langbrook? Do you close your eyes in the shower? You don’t have to close them now. Look at me. Do you wait for the others to wash first, so that you can be alone? So that you can imagine this?” Fiyori ran her tongue along the ridge of vein on his hard cock, back and forth, her hands tenderly cupping his balls, until her mouth finally took him in. She looked up into his face and he gathered her hair in his fingers as she gripped his buttock in one hand. When he felt the mildest graze of her teeth, he came, and she held him gently then, finally returning his smile.

About the Author

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Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realized she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with the family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Jenny Morton Potts | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Jenny is giving away 5 digital copies of Just in your preferred format, so be sure to enter the giveaway!

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What’s your favorite thriller?

Blood Ties, Love Binds: Cover Reveal + Excerpt

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Blood Ties, Love Binds

A standalone romance suspense

First love never dies… And neither does revenge.

Cassandra

Of all the things that could go wrong, he had to come back! Ten years ago he leaves me with a broken heart, and now he’s acting like he cares. And let’s not forget how infuriatingly macho he’s become. Damon may think he can boss me around, but he’s got another thing coming. I’m no longer the starry-eyed girl he knew.

Damon

Leaving her was the worst decision I’ve ever made, but I thought it was for the best. I was listening to her father, after all. And now I’m back because of him – and his shady side-dealings. Cassandra thinks she’s got it all figured out, but she doesn’t even know the half of it. With my connections, I know I can keep her safe. If only she’d stop trying to kung fu my ass, maybe we’d get somewhere.

They say opposites attract, but these two will have sparks flying with every page. Hop on a thrilling tale of love, hate, and everything in between as Damon tries to save Cassandra from a heritage that could cost her life – and his.

LINK FOR BOOK:

http://mybook.to/LoveBinds

Free on KU and anyone can contact Alexa for a review copy until Sept 15th 🙂

Excerpt:

Damon watched in slight satisfaction as realization dawned on Cass. Playing the dashing stranger had its appeal, but nothing compared to the recognition drifting in her eyes, even as her lips parted in surprise.

His delight turned to growing frustration when it seemed like she would bolt any minute. He understood the knee-jerk reaction, especially considering their history, but before he could speak Cassandra drew her hand back and slapped him.

Damon stood still for a moment, processing the hit. Her hazel eyes sparked outrage, and a delightful flush stained her cheeks. He forced himself to look past that. “What was that for?”
It was the wrong question to ask, judging by the way she clenched her jaw. When she spoke, Cassandra’s voice was tight with reined-in emotion. “You dare ask me that, after ten years? Ten freaking years!”
“Cassie, I –” Damon tried to take a step closer, but Cassandra moved back, holding her palms up.
(…)
Viktor will pay for this, one way or another.
 
Damon met Cassandra’s gaze once more, and held it. Something in her expression shifted, but she wasn’t running away. Yet. He pounced on the chance while he still could. “That’s not the full story, actually it’s not even a story. I left, yes, but not for the reasons you think.”
“Sure you did.” Cassandra’s eyes shifted from his, avoiding the truth.
Before she could stop him, Damon reached for her chin and forced her to look him at him. “You used to be able to tell when I was lying. Tell me, am I now?”
Flashes of the girl he’d known crossed her expression, though Cassandra did a good job trying to hide it. He could still see the girl he’d helped out with homework, the tougher yet vulnerable side of her he’d fallen in love with…
How can she think I’d leave her? It stung to think that all she recalled of him was his ambitious streak.
It took Damon a second to realize Cassandra had frozen at his touch, and the look in her eyes had changed. When he tuned in to the change in her, he picked up on her quicker breathing, nostrils flaring as if inhaling his scent. Up close, he could now smell the vanilla perfume emanating from her skin, and he wanted nothing more than to sample her lips.
Cassandra’s eyes widened, the anger set aside by the pure chemical reaction they had to one another. The blazing glare, so eager to put him in his place, dimmed now to a sense of assessment.
Damon had been used to girls throwing themselves at him in the military, but he’d never been interested in more than a night. Only one woman had occupied his thoughts, and she was now so close every instinct in him screamed to make her his.
My little spitfire.

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Renegade: Release Day Blitz + Excerpt + Giveaway

I am so excited that RENEGADE by Mallory McCartney is available now and that I get to
share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful
book by Author Mallory McCartney, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a copy
of the eBook courtesy of Mallory and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a
chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

Title: RENEGADE (Black
Dawn 0.5)

Author: Mallory McCartney
Pub. Date: July 3, 2018
Publisher: Clean Reads Publishing
Formats: eBook
Pages: 250
Find it: GoodreadsAmazon
“The time for Kiero’s reign in prosperity is
over.”
Six years before the Black Dawn Rebellion, Adair
Stratton and Emory Fae are following in their parent’s footsteps and living at
The Academy, a home for those who are gifted.  The pressure to uphold the
future of their parent’s dream falls on them. An outcast and feared by most,
Adair longs to break away from the expectations dictating his future. Even if
Emory tries to make him see differently. An unexpected group of friends keep
him there, but as whispers of unexplained disappearances start reaching from the
capital, Adair starts to doubt The Academy is all it seems.
An unexpected visit ignites new tensions as the
roguish king from across the Black Sea, Tadeas Maher of the Shattered Isles,
and his heir, Marquis Maher sail to Kiero. Notorious for their pirating and
wrath- for the first time in years, they demand the Fae’s listen to their
proposition for a new treaty, holding the news of Nei’s father’s abrupt death
over them. Caught in the middle of politics- Adair and Emory, with the help of
their best friends Brokk and Memphis search for the one thing that matters
most- finding out the truth.
In this gripping prequel to Black Dawn, their
world is tipped upside down as unlikely alliances are made. War ravages through
Kiero and is torn apart by acclaimed Kings. Through the throes of betrayal,
lies, hidden magic and love, Adair is faced with a life changing decision- to
fight or to bow to the darkness within him.

Title: BLACK DAWN (Black Dawn #1)

Author: Mallory McCartney
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Clean Reads Publishing
Pages: 352
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads
Emory Fae enjoys
leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome
soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked
away. Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster come from the magical and war ridden world
of Kiero, and bringing Emory back she will discover she is the long lost heir
to the Royal Line and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic
role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne.
With both men being
darkly woven in her past Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long
dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans,
love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.
Some things are better
left in the shadows.
Exclusive Excerpt!

Exhaling, the prince took him off guard as he lifted his eyebrow. “What I
don’t understand is how the Faes have achieved such loyalty. What did they do?”

He chewed his bottom lip as he hopped over a fallen tree
trunk. He looked to Marquis. “They were the dreamers in a time when culture,
creativity, and equality were being butchered. The Academy was the foundation
of that dream, for desolates, for the people with weaker abilities. For
everyone. The people of Kiero followed Roque because they can’t fear him, they
can only admire him. How brave he was for standing up to his father, for
breaking free of his reign to start his own.”

Marquis chewed his lip. “It sounds like you have a different
opinion of him.”

He threw out his hands. “I was born at the Academy. Raised
in the Academy. Who am I to doubt the intentions of the Faes? They are
practically family.”

Shrugging, Marquis cooed, “Sometimes it is the ones closest
to us that betray us first.”

About Mallory:

 

Mallory
McCartney currently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband and their three
dachshunds Link, Lola and Leonard. When she isn’t working on her next novel or
reading, she can be found day dreaming about fantasy worlds and hiking. Other
favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and
seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.






Giveaway Details:

One lucky winner will receive an eBook
of RENEGADE, International.

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Have you started this series yet?

Star-Touched Stories: Author Q&A + Excerpt

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Excerpt:

  • » 1 «•

DEATH

I

I stood outside the home, watching as the light beaded and dripped down the length of the Tapestry thread. I waited. There was never any rush. Not for me at least.

The light dangled from the end of the string, clinging and re- luctant. A passing wind stirred the ends of the thread, teasing out strands of memory. The memories plumed into the air, releasing the scent of a life lived in love. One by one, the memories unraveled— a pillow shared by two heads bent close in secrecy, a frayed blanket kept inside an eternally empty cradle, a table that sagged from the weight of uncertain feasts. Happiness stolen from the edges of sorrow.

I stepped over the threshold.

The lights in the hut extinguished. Shadows slipped off the walls to gather around my feet. Inside the hut, someone had propped up a stingy fire. Cinnamon scented the air. Past the dusty vestibule, rows

upon rows of bay leaves hung from the ceiling. Strange runes scratched into small animal bones and ivory hairpins lay in carefully constructed patterns. I laughed. Someone had tried to ward me away. But there was no door that didn’t open to me.

At the far corner of the house huddled two people. A man in the arms of a woman. Old age had blessed him, yet for all his gnarled veins and silver-streaked hair, the woman cradled him as if he were a child. He murmured softly into the crook of her neck. I watched them. She wasn’t crying.

The woman looked up . . . and saw me. How refreshing.

“Greetings, Dharma Raja,” said the woman in a clear voice.

I took in the bay leaves and bone pins. “You were expecting me, I take it.”

“Yes,” she said, hanging her head. “I regret that I cannot serve you any food or drink or treat you as a guest in our home.”

“Don’t let it trouble you,” I said, waving my hand. “I am rarely a guest. Merely an inevitable occurrence.”

Her husband did not stir in her arms. His breath had grown soft. While the woman had kept her eyes trained on me, I had taken away his pain, siphoned it bit by bit. I was in a generous mood.

“You have come for him.”

“As I will for you, one day. I could tell you the hour, if you wish it.”

“No.”

I shrugged. “Very well.”

She clutched him tighter. Her hands trembled. I knew she could feel his life unspooling. She may have seen me, but she did not see his life pooling beneath him.

“May I ask something of you, Dharma Raja?” “You may.”

But I need not honor it.

“We always wished to leave this life together.”

“I cannot change your appointed time, even if I wished.”

She closed her eyes. “Then may I request, instead, that you not let him pass to the next life until I may join him there?”

Now this was interesting. I sank backward into the air, and an onyx throne swirled up to meet me. I tilted my head, watching her. “Why? I haven’t weighed your life yet. What if you were far more honorable than your husband in this life? I could pour your soul into the mold of a princess blessed with beauty and intellect, riches and wonders. I could add silver to your heart and fortify you from any

heartbreak. I could give you a life worthy of legends.” She shook her head. “I would rather have him.”

“You’d rather have him, and whatever life that entails?” I leaned forward, eyeing the dingy room.

Her eyes flashed. “Yes.”

“He may not even come back as a human. Believe me. I’ve remade emperors into cockroaches and cockroaches into kings. You seem like a reasonably intelligent woman. Would you truly like to keep house for a bug?”

She lifted her chin. “I would be his mate in any form.”

A curious emotion prickled my skin, nudging the back of my thoughts. My hands tightened on the shadow throne. Before I could stop myself, the question flew from me:

“Why? ”

“Because I love him,” said the woman. “I would prefer any life with him than any life without him. Even the deities know love to

the point that they will chase their counterpart through thousands of lifetimes. Surely you, oh Dharma Raja, understand how extraor- dinary love can be?”

I knew very well what could come of love. I had seen it. Been cursed by it. Even now, I thought of her. The way she ran away and left a shadow in her place. Love was extraordinary.

Extraordinarily spiteful. Extraordinarily blind. Extraordinarily misleading. “Bold words,” I said.

“They do not move you?”

I shrugged. “You may appeal and supplicate and wheedle as you wish, but I have heard every excuse and plea and sputter, and my heart has never been moved.”

The woman bowed her head. She gathered her husband to her chest. Her wedding bangles clanked together, breaking the silence. When I left, custom dictated that she must remove those wedding ornaments. Widows did not wear such bracelets. I had not consid- ered until now that the sound itself was a thing near death. And that chime—gold against gold—struck me far louder than any keening. In the echoes, I heard something hollow. And lonely.

I dropped the noose. It slid through the man’s skin, noiseless as silk. Life had left him. All that was left was his soul.

You never forget what it’s like to withdraw a soul. It is an un- clasping. Sometimes a soul is tough and hard, surrounded by sin- ews of memories gone brittle with age. Sometimes a soul is soft and bursting like wind-fallen fruit, all bruised tenderness and stale hope. And sometimes a soul is an ethereal shard of light. As if the force of its life is a scorching thing.

This soul belonged to light.

When the woman looked down, she knew that her husband was gone. The thing she cradled was nothing more than meat soon to spoil. Tears slid down her wrinkled cheeks.

“Come now,” I said, standing from the throne. “I have taken hus- bands when their wives still wore the henna from their wedding. I consider you lucky.”

“I beg of you,” she said. “Don’t let him move on without me. He would have asked the same.”

I swung the soul into a satchel and the light faded. I headed for the door, more out of formality than anything else. If I wanted, I could’ve disappeared right then and there.

“Please. What would you do for someone you loved?”

I stopped short. “I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure of that provo- cation.”

“You love no one?” she asked, her eyebrows rising in disbelief. “I love myself. Does that count?”

And then I left.

Roshani Chokshi CREDIT Aman Sharma

Author Q&A

Out of all the characters in your novels, which one did you have the most fun writing about and who do you relate to the most personally? What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?

In the world of the Star – Touched Queen, I think the one who I related to the most was also the one that I had the most fun writing: Kamala! There’s just something about the demon horse that resonated a lot with me. I think it’s because she does everything that I would do in a fantasy story, which is frantically derail the plot and whine to her friends about how hungry she is all the time.

What inspired you to create this fictional world? Were there anyRomo mythologies that particularly inspired you?

I was really inspired by the childhood stories that my grandmother told me. To me, they were so rich with details and texture that it really shocked me how these worlds and mythologies were never explored in mainstream literature. I was particularly inspired by Greek and Hindu mythology.

Why did you feel it was important to add Star-Touched Stories to this world you’ve created?  What do you want readers to gain from the stories? Do you think there are any more stories to tell from the Star-Touched world, and if so, who you most like to write about next?

For me, this collection of stories is my farewell to the world that I created. It was extremely cathartic to write these three stories. I want readers to gain a sense of closure. I want readers to feel as much as I did when I with the stories. Who can say whether or not there are more stories left to tell in this world? 😉

Will you miss writing this world and characters?

Absolutely! They lived in my head for so long that I feel strangely weightless to be without them.

What was your favorite scene to write from Star-Touched Stories, and what was your favorite scene to write from the whole series?

Honestly, my favorite scene that I wrote was the last scene the last story. I think you’ll see why. As for my favorite scene that I wrote from the whole series, I think it would have to be the moment when Maya first enters the Night Bazaar.

Is there a scene or character from one of your stories that you’ve had to cut which you really wish you could share with readers?

There once was a speaking monkey character… But I had to let go of him. Maybe he’ll reappear some other time.

How is writing short stories different than writing a full-length book? How different is it to write YA and MG? How has your writing evolved?

Writing short stories is really different from writing a full-length book because you’re ultimately writing to a punchline in a shorter amount of space. There is less space to explore so the language must be very deliberate. I think my writing has evolved to become a lot more character focused than I once was. I still love gorgeous, decadent prose, but I believe that the best kind of language is that which is emotionally filtered through the feelings of a character.

What is the best advice you would give to inspiring writers?

Read often. I realize that sounds trite, but so many people retread the same path with stories out of comfort or nostalgia. I totally understand this and I’m one of those people who loves to reread my favorite books but I never found a sense of my own writing voice or writing style without reading a wide variety of works.

What sort of music do you listen to when you write?

I mostly listen to music to get me in the mood for writing rather than listening to music to get me through a scene. I think the only times I listen to music when I’m writing is if I’m in a third or fourth round of revisions. Otherwise I get distracted.

If any of your books were given an adaptation, would you rather it be a movie, TV show, web series, or stage musical?

For The Gilded Wolves, I would rather see that as a miniseries. For both books in the Star-Touched universe, I’d rather see those as movies.

Favorite myth and how has it inspired your writing? What was your inspiration for these stories?

I think my favorite myth is Hades and Persephone. I love the atmosphere, the goth undercurrent, the power dynamic. I love the movement of princess to Queen.

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Have you started this series yet?

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault: Release Day + Excerpt + Giveaway

I am so
excited that QUINSEY WOLFE’S GLASS VAULT
by Candace Robinson is available now and that I get to share the news!
 
If you
haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author
Candace Robinson, be sure to check
out all the details below.
 
This blitz
also includes a giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of
Candace Robinson and Rockstar Book
Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the
bottom of this post.
About The Book:

Title: QUINSEY
WOLFE’S GLASS VAULT
Author: Candace
Robinson
Pub. Date: June
26, 2018
Publisher: The
Parliament House
Formats: Paperback,
eBook
Pages: 242
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksTBD
Some see
it… Some don’t…

People in the town of Deer Park, Texas are vanishing. There is a strange
museum, known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, that appears overnight. Perrie
Madeline’s best friend and ex-boyfriend are among the missing. Perrie and her
friend August go on a pursuit for them in the mysterious museum. Could the
elusive Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault have anything to do with the
disappearances?

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault is the start of a thrilling duology full of magic,
danger, and romance.

 
 
 
 
Book Trailer:

 

Excerpt:
Maisie
takes Oak Street, which I have always found ironic. The street is lined on both
sides with tall trees, each one reaching toward the other as if longing for
their touch. For a town called Deer Park, I have seen more trees on a street
corner than actual deer. Not. One. Single. Deer.


Suddenly,
Maisie slams on the brakes and my chest strikes hard against the seat belt.
Then I smash back into the seat just as hard. The only thing I can think is,
are my organs still intact? Seriously, they feel like they’re bleeding
profusely.
“What the
hell?” August and I say at the exact same time. Maisie is staring across the
street to the left.
“Look!” she
exclaims.
Now I see
what Maisie is pointing at. Across from us stands an enormous stone building,
unbelievably tall, and its walls are lined with huge rocks all along the base.
Among the rocks, it appears there are absolutely no windows of any kind. The
entrance has an archway that frames one of the tallest wooden doors I have ever
seen. It’s creepily unusual.
“Impossible,”
I breathe.
“This has
never been here before.” August appears flabbergasted.
He’s right.
He’s beyond right. There’s no way this place was just magically built
overnight. Even if it were possible, it’s obviously old. It has to be over a
hundred years old.
 “Maybe we never really noticed it before.”
Maisie unbuckles herself and opens the car door, completely taken by the sight
of this building.
I throw my
hands up hysterically and wave my hands around like a lunatic. “Never noticed
it before? This giant stone mansion?”
“Perrie has
a point, Maisie.” August stares up at the building in shock.
Hesitantly,
I step out of the car and August follows. We walk around to stand beside
Maisie,
completely
speechless as we continue our staring marathon at the place. It’s really an
unusual structure to be sitting in the middle of our town. One would think
something like this would have drawn major attention from the locals.
“We should
investigate!” Maisie is moving before either of us can protest.
“Just a
quick look,” I say, falling into step beside her, fingers itching with
curiosity.
We walk to
the door at a leisurely pace, as if we have all night to see what’s going on.
As we inch closer to the arched doorway, where overgrown grass meets a block of
cement, two things pop into my line of sight. First, there’s a plaque on the
door that reads:
Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault
It’s
written in an elegant, yet outdated script.
Maisie
tilts her head to the side, skeptical of the plaque. “Not sure what a glass
vault is.”
I point at
a sign to the right of the door. Moving closer to see what it says, I read it
aloud:
The illustrious Quinsey Wolfe presents a wonder of the world, a true
sight to behold in his infamous glass museum. A forewarning to onlookers and
wonderers, beware of your imagination and curiosity. This is not for the faint
of heart.
About Candace:

 

My name is Candace Robinson. I’m just your average
hemiplegic migraine sufferer. My days are spent writing, book reviewing and
traveling through books for my blog, Literary Dust. I live just outside of
Houston, Texas, where it feels like the hottest place on Earth with the crazy
weather. No, seriously, one day it’s 30 degrees and the next it’s 70 degrees! I
live with my husband and awesome daughter!
 
You can also
follow me on my review blog Literary Dust
 
 
 
Giveaway Details: All International

 

1 winner will receive an Amazon Gift
Card, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Did you check out the book trailer?

Stuck on Vacation with Ryan Rupert: Excerpt + Giveaway

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Goodreads Summary:

Aubany Winters’ life soon becomes a nightmare when her Mom gets cancer and has to leave for California with her Dad. Left with her neighbours, the Ruperts, and to her displeasure, their son Ryan, she finds herself forced to tag along on their family vacation to Nula Island. There’s just a few problems, like her fear of the ocean, her and Ryan’s mutual hatred for each other, and the psycho girl who is trying to kill them.

Will Aubany overcome her fears? Will she and Ryan ever stop hating each other? Or will their flaws and disagreements lead them right into the enemy’s hands?

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Excerpt:

Chapter One

A Holiday From Hell

Summer vacations are supposed to be fun. They’re supposed to be filled with memories of friends and first loves and the relief of being completely free of schoolwork. But clearly someone or something (I personally blamed the Fates) had decided to ruin mine by sticking me on an island for six weeks.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: what is wrong with this girl? It’s summer, and islands are the perfect place to enjoy the sunny days and clear skies that summer brings! They’re filled with surf, sand, exploring, and activities. And that’s all great if you’re someone else.

But not if you’re me.

For me, an island is the equivalent of hell. I have a colossal fear of the ocean, and the thing about islands is, well, they’re kind of surrounded by water. And if you aren’t up for ocean-related activities then, well, what good is being on an island? What good is summer vacation if it means leaving all my wonderful friends and spending six weeks trapped with my sworn enemy?

Who’s my sworn enemy, you ask? Maybe I should start at the beginning.

It was a beautiful, early summer morning in Tallahassee, Florida. I was very happily skipping through the morning television programs in the family room, lazing around, and preparing myself for a day of chillaxing. But that all changed as soon as my parents entered the room.

“Aubany, we need to talk to you,” my father said. He turned the television off, and faced me. His expression was grim; his eyes lacked their usual twinkle, and his mouth was pulled into a thin line. That made me realise it was serious. They sat down with me and proceeded to tell me the worst news of my life.

“Your mother has cancer,” Dad said. That sentence alone took me a few moments to process.

“What?” I said weakly. My Mom had cancer? My beautiful, kind and caring Mom? These kinds of things, they didn’t happen to people like her . . . right?

Looking at her now, she looked anything but sick. Her fair skin had a healthy glow, her red hair cascaded over her shoulders, and her green eyes sparkled even though, right now, they seemed sad.

My grandmother told me that Mom had looked the mirror image of me in her youth.

“I don’t understand,” I said slowly, trying to get my bearings. “What kind of cancer? How did this even happen?”

“Sweetie,” Mom said gently, putting her hand over mine, “Everything is going to be okay. It’s stage two breast cancer, and I’m going to be flying to California to see a specialist.”

“A specialist?” I repeated, feeling numb. That sounded daunting.

“I’ve been getting regular check-ups, but this came on so suddenly, and the doctor here referred us to a professional who has more experience with this kind of thing. We do have a history of cancer in the family, but it’s been quite rare and unpredictable along our generations. So, the specialist is going to try and figure out exactly what genes in our family history might be triggering it.”

I swallowed hard, blinking back tears. She had to fly all the way to California just for that? And since when did we have a family history of cancer? I’d never heard either of my parents mention it. Did that mean I was going to get cancer too?

I had so many questions, but before I could ask any more, Dad chimed in,

“I’ll be going with her.”

The way he said it implied that I wasn’t coming.

“What about me?” I asked, frowning. Did they plan on leaving me behind?

“We don’t have the money to pay for all of us to go, Honey,” Dad said. “We know you want to be there, but your mother and I need to do this on our own.”

“Then what am I going to do?” I asked, and I could feel the hysterics building. Not only were they leaving me behind, but I felt like I was being excluded, information wise.

“Well, your Aunt Celeste is busy. She can’t take you in. And the cousins are a bit too far away. We can’t afford to send you to them either. So we’ve asked the Ruperts for a favour.”

“The Ruperts?” I repeated. They were our neighbours. Josh and Renee were nice enough people, and they had always been very kind to me. Their son, however, was a different story altogether.

Their son was Ryan Rupert. He was a jerk, an ass, and pretty much every other bad thing under the sun. He was a nightmare to be around, and he hated me. Lucky for him, the feeling was mutual.

“The Ruperts have kindly agreed to look after you while we’re gone,” Dad said.

“Oh, great. I don’t have to live in their house, do I?” I asked. I really didn’t want to have to see Ryan every day. “I mean, I can just stay here – right? They can just pop in from time to time and check on me. I can cook my own meals, and buy my own food. I can get a summer job.”

I’d been trying to convince my parents to let me get a job for years now. I’d not long turned 17, and I was eager to start earning some money of my own. Melissa had been working at the record store in town for the past year, and she seemed way more mature because of it. But my parents had insisted that school should come first, and had worried that my grades would suffer with the addition of a job.

“No, Honey, it’s more complicated than that,” Mom said. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving you on your own. What if something happened? And besides, the Ruperts won’t be able to check in on you every day because they aren’t going to be here.”

“What do you mean?” I asked slowly.

“The Ruperts already have a vacation planned,” Dad said. “And you’ll be going with them.”

“A vacation?” I exclaimed, horror stricken. “Where?”

“To an island. Nula Island,” Dad said.

This could not be happening. I had to give up my summer vacation, miss out on all the parties my friends were going to throw, to be on some island with my sworn enemy?

This was so unfair, and not just because of that reason. My Mom was sick with cancer. Cancer! Of all the things she could be sick with, and my parents were forcing me to tag along on the Ruperts’ family vacation rather than be at her side?

No way. I wasn’t going to go.

“You can’t make me do that. Come on, you know how I feel about Ryan!” I protested. “And besides, I’m terrified of the ocean. How will I survive on an island?”

“Aubany, please,” my Dad said softly. “Don’t argue. It’ll upset your mother.”

I ignored his words. “Upset Mom? What about me? Aren’t I allowed to be upset? You do realise what you’re asking me, right? You think this is easy for me? To accept that Mom has cancer? To accept that I can’t be with her for the next six weeks? To accept that I’m going to be stuck with Ryan Rupert? You want me to just nod and say it’s all okay?”

“This isn’t easy for us either, Aubany,” Mom said, looking hurt now. She seemed to understand me completely, and I realised they really had no choice but to do this.

“But . . . isn’t there another way?” I said, my voice wavering. Maybe I couldn’t stay with my parents, but surely the Ruperts weren’t the only other option. “Can’t I stay with someone else? What about Melissa?” I asked, desperate to dig my way out of this. Melissa was my best friend. Surely I could stay with her, right?

“We’ve known the Ruperts since you were very little. They are more than happy to look after you. But to ask that of someone else’s parents would be too much. We’re going to be gone for a long time, and we don’t know when we’ll be back. It would be unfair to put this on Melissa’s parents,” Dad said.

I was out of ideas. I felt sort of surreal. I couldn’t believe this was happening.

I knew it seemed so stupid to whine about a six-week vacation when my Mom was sitting beside me gravely ill with a disease she could possibly die from. But it wasn’t fair, and I just couldn’t stop thinking of all the horrible ways this summer could go wrong. I hated Ryan Rupert with every fibre of my being, and having to be stranded on an island with him for six weeks was a nightmare in every sense of the word. Being his neighbour was bad enough. He had already found plenty of ways to annoy and taunt me just by living next to me. On an island there would be no escape. I’d have nowhere to run.

“We’re sorry, but this is the only way. We’ll call you all the time to tell you how things are going,” Dad promised. Mom got up and left, and Dad began to follow her. He stopped before leaving the room and said, “Try not to let this get to you. The Ruperts had a room available so they are kindly paying for you. Try and make the best of it. It’s summer, and you get to spend it on an island for free!”

I really wished I could look at this from an optimistic point of view, but nothing was optimistic where Ryan Rupert was involved.

To make matters worse, I hardly had any time to prepare myself emotionally for the trauma this whole experience was going to bring me.

Amazon Pre-order: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07CT3SD43

Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30167247-stuck-on-vacation-with-ryan-rupert

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About the Author:

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P.S.Malcolm (Pagan) grew up in Proserpine, Queensland— a small, Australian country town on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. She was a storyteller from a young age and spent years perfecting her craft. 

For two years, she juggled waitressing in tourist-filled coffee shops while undertaking two degrees in Creative Writing online— one specializing in children’s fiction and publishing. She has always had an interest in writing, but never saw herself working in the industry until she made the choice to self-publish her debut novel, Stuck On Vacation With Ryan Rupert. Realizing that she loved the process of publishing her book, she pursued an internship at a publishing house and snagged a spot as Pen Name Publishing’s Marketing Assistant. 

In between interning and writing, Pagan opened her first business working as a freelance Marketing Strategist for Paperback Kingdom— which helps indie authors with all aspects of their author careers.

Pagan also enjoys reading— particularly fantasy and paranormal— and is a passionate blogger. She reviews books that she has read on her personal website. Some of her favourite and most influential authors include Amanda Gernentz Hanson, A.G. Howard, Marissa Meyer and Michele Jaffe.

Social Media Links:

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p.s.malcolm/

Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPM/

Giveaway!

Giveaway info + entry: https://psmalcolm.com/stuck-on-vacation-with-ryan-rupert-re-release-giveaway/

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How does this book sound to you?