Have you been waiting?

The ebook version of Into the Shadow Wood has been out since August, but sometimes only a real book you can hold in your hands will do. For those who have been waiting, the paperback is finally available! Find it on Amazon, CreateSpace, and other retailers as it continues to show up on virtual bookshelves.

In the last couple of weeks, my new novella has gotten some attention on other blogs. Thanks to David Wiley at The Scholarly Scribe for writing a thoughtful review, and to Renee Scattergood for posting an excerpt and interviewing my character Alaric. Check them out, along with all the other great posts featured on both of their blogs.

 

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Sneak Peek Friday

This week I’m giving readers a brief glimpse into my soon to be released novella, Into the Shadow Wood.

Interested in having your book featured here on Sneak Peek Friday?  I’m always happy to support my fellow authors.  Just contact me through my blog or my author Facebook page.


 

Our weather-worn tents were nestled into a small clearing, like growing things that had sprung up out of the ground. There were so few of us left…so few. Remaining were the stubborn, the desperate—those who, like me, simply couldn’t let go. Something was still driving us to fight—to hope—in spite of the brutal truth that we had lost. What are we still doing here? This decision to go on is folly. Alaric’s words echoed in my mind. They rang no less true now than they had in the heart of the Shadow Wood.

Though I had escaped the confines of its borders, the Wood had not released its hold on my mind, and my nights continued to be filled with its dark torments. I slept fitfully, with a knife in my fist and my bow close at hand…just in case. The Shadow mocked my inner pain, whispering words of despair to my soul; I would never be free. Each morning I bathed in a nearby stream, scrubbing my skin nearly raw, shaving my face, and grooming my hair. No matter how vigorously I washed, I could still feel the slick residue of the Wood’s filth, and my lungs were heavy with its thick air. When I caught glimpses of my reflection in still pools, the face looking back at me seemed not my own. And it was not only my looks that startled me. At meal times, despite my best intentions, I ate like a crazed, half-starved animal. My brethren no doubt saw me as such judging by the cautious looks I caught from the corners of my eyes. So far, none of them had dared to ask about my journey into the abyss—they seemed afraid to know what could have possibly reduced me to such a state.

Sneak Peek Friday

OWS Summer Reading List

The Official Our Write Side (OWS) Summer Reading List is out, and I was so surprised to see that Journey to Aviad is on it! Fellow author Renee Scattergood also made the list with her Shadow Stalker series. Congratulations Renee!

51J6aQb160L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_So in celebration, this week I’m featuring an excerpt from Journey to Aviad, which is permafree as an ebook. If you haven’t read it yet, you can easily add it to your summer reading list.

This particular excerpt came to mind, as the horrific event it mentions also plays out in Into the Shadow Wood, but from a different perspective. Watch for my upcoming cover reveal and release date!

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The caravan was slow and cumbersome, and strangely silent. The only voices to be heard were those of the younger children playing together in the carts. There was no singing, or storytelling, or idle conversation to pass the time as one might expect on a journey of that sort. All wore a haggard look—eyes red-rimmed, and expressions numb. Elowyn thought these people looked very much like animals stunned by a predator’s venom, stumbling about in shock and confusion, slowly and unwittingly marching on towards their inevitable demise. Elowyn realized that she probably wore the same expression, exhausted from lack of sleep, and unable to forget the image of the troll and the watchman being eaten alive. That moment in time kept replaying itself over and over in her mind, until the images became so surreal and strange that she wondered if they had really happened at all. She could almost convince herself that it had been a nightmare, except there she still was, marching along with a group of complete strangers, on a road she had never traversed before. If it was only a nightmare, she was still in it, praying desperately to be wakened.

When after a long day of walking the group finally camped for the night, Elowyn lit her own fire a short distance away. She was weary of the crowd and of feeling the weighty burden of everyone’s sorrows crushing down upon her soul. But she found that Morganne’s company was equally mournful. The fire had been fed and stoked many times before she would say anything at all, and even then she spoke with a broken voice.

“I never knew such things existed before today. Even had I known … I don’t think that I would have really understood without seeing. And as horrific as the trolls were, from what Gareth told us, the Hounds are far, far worse. I know in my mind that his word is true, but I fear that without seeing, I do not truly understand their danger either, and that frightens me even more than what I have just witnessed.”

Morganne grew quiet again for a few moments, and then with great brokenness said, “I am sorry. I should never have brought us. Nothing our mother could do would ever come close to the terror I saw unleashed by a single troll, let alone a Hound. It was wrong of me to think that I could make this journey, that you and Adelin were safer away from Tyroc. What I do not understand is why you came. You have seen a Hound—you were nearly slain by one. You knew the danger in a way that I could not, and yet you came.”

Elowyn gathered her thoughts carefully for a few moments, answering truthfully, “Tyroc was not so safe as you imagined it to be. Our cottage was no stronghold, and our mother no sure protector from danger. It is around Tyroc that the Hounds gather their strength. When they have overrun the woodlands, and Braeden has darkened the skies, who there would be strong enough to protect us?”

MEET JOURNEY TO AVIAD’S CHARACTERS

What’s on your #summer #reading list? Here’s our top 25! #ourwriteside #amreading

Sneak Peek Friday

Coming SoonThis week I’m featuring a brief glimpse into my work in progress, Into the Shadow Wood. Watch for my cover reveal in June, and an announcement with the final release date.

Interested in having your book featured here on Sneak Peek Friday?  I’m always happy to support my fellow authors.  Just contact me through my blog or my author Facebook page.


Surrounding the central room were darkened cells secured with iron bars and locks. We could not yet tell if anyone was inside, but there was no sound or movement save our own footfalls and rapid breaths. My commander brought his torch over to one of the cells so that he could peer in. The first was empty. There were no comforts to be found. Just a hard, cold stone floor scattered with dirty straw, a small basin for water, and chains firmly anchored into the wall. I shuddered at the thought of being kept prisoner in such a place.

We checked the next cell, ready to liberate any unfortunate soul we might find. But what the next cell contained made us quickly step back. Lying on the floor was something the size of a man, yet it was not a man. It had sickly blotched skin and a strange mark branded onto its forehead. I instantly recognized it as the beast I had mistaken Alaric for the night he wandered away from our camp. How had my mind conjured up the image of such a beast I never could have imagined on my own? This one was apparently dead. Its large red eyes were opened and vacant. The smell coming from within the cell left us gagging and gasping for air. I had to cover my face with my sleeve just to bear it.

But someone had been working on the beast, either before or after it died. Its body sported multiple bandages and one arm was immobilized against a wooden splint.
“Why would one bother to bandage the dead?” Alaric asked.

“More importantly, why would one keep a dead body shut away in a locked cell?” our commander asked.

“Because according to his journals, this necromancer has found a way to resurrect the dead,” I said. I did not doubt that it was true. Though the beast gave off a rank odor, it was not the smell of decaying flesh, nor did the body seem to be decomposing.

We stepped back from the cell. Clearly there was no need for a rescue attempt.

 

Sneak Peek Friday

JTA BC 150Every Friday on my author Facebook page I will be featuring a sneak peek from one of my books.  Read it on my blog to get a longer version!  This week’s excerpt is from Ancient Voices: Into the Depths, which was released in November.

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The melody of the monks’ song was simple, but strong and haunting, with harmonies building slowly, layer upon layer, until they were so tightly woven together that no one voice could be distinguished from the others. They passed beneath Morganne and Elowyn’s window early in the afternoon, and through the open shutters, their strong, clear voices filled the room.

Elowyn thought their song seemed to belong more to the heavenly realm of Aviad than to the earth, its captivating power making her scalp tingle and her arms break out in goose bumps.  Morganne at first sunk to her knees in awed silence, then ran out to follow the procession through the village. Never had Minhaven been so still and quiet. No one dared to break the flow of the monks’ music, which cried out like an anguished prayer from their lips directly to the listening ear of Aviad.

No one worked, including Wyman, who closed the tavern. Fasting was the order of the day. They ate only vegetable broth with salted fish that Idna had made the day before, dry bread, and raw vegetables. People drifted in and out of the chapel, where the monks continued a litany of musical prayers. Their songs, dedicated to Immar, would not cease until the next sunrise. They rotated in and out so seamlessly that there was never a break in the music, not even for a moment. Morganne spent a great many hours huddled in the dank chapel, enrapt and seemingly lost in her own unspoken prayers.

Elowyn stayed for a while, but had difficulty sitting still for very long on the hard wooden seats. She found herself drifting away from the village, seeking out the Ancients in her own solitary way. She walked across the open field behind Morganne’s shop, where she had first met Cailean, and down the well-worn path that led to the sea. Tyroc’s coastline had been flat and sandy, crammed full of docks, boats, and smelly fishmonger’s stalls. Minhaven’s shoreline was very different—rocky and treacherous, with only a few small docks and no harbor. Getting supplies and people back and forth by boat was difficult, even when the weather was calm.

But the sea’s fearsome beauty was captivating. Powerful waves continuously crashed against the rocks, sending plumes of spray far up into the air. When the tide went out, it left shallow pools behind, full of glistening seaweed, twists of driftwood, shells, and sometimes fish. Those who dared to brave the frigid waters would sometimes wade out and catch them with nets. One had to be careful not to get caught too far from shore when the tide returned, for fear of getting stranded and swept out to sea.

Elowyn came here when she most needed time for quiet reflection. The rhythmic pulse of the waves and the lonely calls of the sea birds were mesmerizing. When she allowed her churning thoughts to ebb away with the retreating sea, she usually found treasures in the calm that was left behind; moments of clarity that she gathered as speedily as she could before the dark waters of uncertainty reclaimed them.

MEET ANCIENT VOICES: INTO THE DEPTHS’ CHARACTERS

Sneak Peek Friday

JourneytoAviadThis week’s “sneak peek” is actually a “meet the characters” post that was featured on the Read Tuesday blog.  The voice is Morganne’s from Journey to Aviad as she both reflects back, and looks forward into an uncertain future.  Enjoy!

Journey to Aviad is now permafree as an ebook. So if you haven’t read it yet, what’s holding you back?
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It was a hard beginning, growing up in Tyroc. The city covers evils of all types, as a fresh snow covers a dung heap; pungent and waiting to trap the unsuspecting foot. Only its exterior is shrouded in white, the pretense of innocence. In the city, none care to look beyond the surface, for the hidden darkness is too overwhelming for one soul to carry. The city trapped me, trapped all of us…and my mother knew it. I lost the innocence of my youth at the sharp edge of her cruelty before I finally made my escape, while those who knew my suffering simply looked away.

Some memories fade slowly, until they are only wisps of smoke that dissipate into nothing when you try to catch hold of them. Others stay with you, like the details of a recurring nightmare. A smell, a sound, a flash of light can catch you off guard and take you back to that place you wish you could forget. There are nights when I close my eyes and I can see the tiny one room cottage my mother, my younger sisters, and I once lived in. So many years have passed that it is probably long gone now. But in my mind it continues to stand, just as it was when I was a girl; the smooth, cold gray stones of the floor…the wood beams of the roof, stained black from the hearth fire. A trestle table, some stools, and my mother’s loom were the only furniture.

My mother would sit there for hours on end, her light brown hair swept up away from her face, her fingers working with forceful precision. The curve of her back shut us out as she embraced a world of her own design, carefully constructed of hand-spun threads. Anyone who pulled her away from it was met with a ferocity that betrayed the seething anger consuming her soul. And so my sisters and I spent our days treading carefully around her, trying not to break the dreadful silence.

I remember, too, the small fingerprints that dotted the walls. Most of them belonged to my sister, Elowyn, who only seemed happy when she was covered in dirt from the surrounding woodlands. She often disappeared for days out there. Mother barely noticed, but my stomach always churned with worry over what might become of her. Somehow she always returned, carrying one small treasure or another. Her whole being glowed with a peaceful contentment that I envied at times. There was certainly none to be found at home.

Then one day Elowyn returned with an unusual object—a coin it seemed. But it was old, with markings that made me wonder about its origins. Our lives changed that day, though I had yet to realize it. It was a change that brought adventure into our dreary existence; and with it both danger and the joys of freedom. More than just our lives, the whole world began to change. History, legend, and prophecy were becoming real before our eyes, leaving us at the mercy of an impending storm no one could stop. We had a choice; to believe in Aviad’s truth and join in the fight to save our world, or to do nothing and let the growing darkness swallow us whole.

I will not tell you what we chose, though you can probably guess. Our story is not here on this page—it has been written elsewhere, and by a more masterful scholar and scribe than I shall ever be. But I hope that through those writings you will join us as we make our journey of hope, of courage…sometimes of pain and despair…but always with faith. Where it shall end, even I do not yet know.

– Morganne

 

MEET JOURNEY TO AVIAD’S CHARACTERS

Sneak Peek Friday

JTA BC 150Every Friday on my author Facebook page I will be featuring a sneak peek from one of my books.  This week’s excerpt is from Ancient Voices: Into the Depths, which was just released in November.

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Morganne still marveled each day at how her fortunes had changed in such a short time. But in the face of her fears, none of that seemed to matter anymore. And as much as she loved Elowyn and Adelin with all the ferocity their true mother should have, carrying the burden of their well-being alone was wearing on her. She was painfully aware that if anything bad befell either of them, the fault was her own for bringing them with her.

In that moment, Morganne felt more like a frightened child than an adult, and wished, as she often had when she was very small, to know the shelter of a loving father’s protective arms. All her life she had clung to a faint memory that she believed was of her father. It was so fragile that trying to hold it in her mind was like grasping at a wisp of smoke. The harder she peered into its shifting haze, the more it dissipated, until she could do nothing but let it slowly gather itself together again in the back of her mind.

There was blinding sun, warm against her face, and a salty, ocean smell. She was playfully lifted up high in the air by two strong hands, then embraced tightly. She could not see who had picked her up, however hard she tried. But the vibration of a man’s booming voice resonated through her as she pressed herself against his chest. In that moment, she had felt loved, and secure, more so than at any other time in her life since. She could remember nothing more.

The memory was one that had often comforted her in her darkest moments of despair. Yet it had also tormented her to the point of tears. Somehow, she had lost him. Why had he left her? Where had he gone? And why hadn’t he come back? Perhaps her mother’s anger had driven him away, unless it was his absence that had left her so bitter that she could no longer feel any love in her heart. Like Elowyn, Morganne had pressed her mother many times for answers without success, and she had always hated her mother for her stubborn silence. Morganne would have given anything to feel that embrace again, brief though it might have been.

Morganne sobbed silently into her night clothes, trying not to wake Elowyn and Adelin, for she had no desire to reveal her innermost sorrows to them. She was resolved that they would never witness her moments of weakness. She would hold her younger sisters in the protective arms that she had always longed for, even when her outward strength was only an illusion she created by sheer will alone.

MEET ANCIENT VOICES: INTO THE DEPTHS’ CHARACTERS