Thursday, February 22, 2018

Guest post: Author Robin Patchen: From Small Seeds, Magic Grows - Giveaway

A guest post by Author Robin Patchen

From Small Seeds, Magic Grows


About this time last year, I had decided the Hidden Truth series would have three books. Convenient Lies, Twisted Lies, and Generous Lies felt like enough lies in the series, so to speak. I was telling my friends that I was ready to start working on something new when one of them said, “But you should write one and title it Innocent Lies.” I loved the title but had no idea what the story should be about.

My writers’ mind got to brainstorming that title, and by the end of the day, I had an image. A little boy alone in the snowy woods. I had no idea why the boy was all alone or what had happened to his parents, but it was the seed. And from that seed grew a story.

I added a mother on the run from her former captor, a hero who’d been waiting a decade for the love of his life to return. I added a villain who was also a victim and another who deserved much worse than I gave him. I researched human trafficking and foster kids in New Hampshire and missing persons and a lot of other weird and random facts that, coupled with all the other weird and random research I’ve done over the years, has probably landed me on a few law enforcement watch lists. A few months and a few hundred pages later, Innocent Lies was born.

Isn’t it funny how that can happen? How one tiny idea can lead to novels, or businesses, or non-profits, or any number of things? How our minds can fill in such huge blanks based on nothing but one compelling image?

I’ve had it happen before. The first book in the series, Convenient Lies, was inspired by a similar picture—a woman in her hometown with an infant. I knew the woman was alone and hiding, but I knew nothing else. Where did the rest of the details come from? The arms dealer, the ex-boyfriend, the former best friend? I don’t know, and I doubt I ever will. Creativity is a mystery I’ll never solve. (If you’d like to sample my writing, you can download Convenient Lies for free here.)

Maybe it’s good I’ll never solve the mystery of creativity. Because there’s nothing like that moment when all the gaps are filled in, when suddenly symbolic elements wave at you from the pages, elements you hadn’t even realized you’d put there. When plotlines come together in ways you never saw coming. Writing, and maybe all creativity, is magic. Sometimes, I like to pretend I’m like Harry Pottery, wielding my wand and controlling all that power. Most of the time I admit I’m just a powerless muggle benefitting from the magic all around.

I’m inspired by the magic in the world, by the amazing Creator who spins it into being, who creates the writers and the readers and all the rest of us so we can enjoy that creation. So that someone like me can take one tiny seed of a suggestion and grow it into a story readers will love.

Scroll down for excerpts from the Hidden Truth Series




Convenient Lies
Hidden Truth Book 1
by Robin Patchen
Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense
420 pages


“Of course, no matter where in the world she was, she could never have stayed hidden, not as long as he was willing to kill innocent people until he found her. The question was, had he stopped killing people, or was she next on his list?”

She married her enemy…

When investigative journalist Reagan McAdams discovers her new husband is part of an international crime family, she flees Paris with their newborn and returns to her childhood home in New Hampshire, where she’ll gather her inheritance before she disappears forever. She’ll do whatever it takes to protect her son from his criminal father.

He never quit loving her.

Detective Brady Thomas discovers Rae is back and in trouble, and he plans to protect her and her son, whether she wants his help or not.

The death toll rises.

But when Rae's husband starts killing people to smoke her out, she has to decide what—and who—she’ll have to sacrifice to save her son.




Twisted Lies
Hidden Truth Book 2
398 pages

“Marisa peered down the stairs, toward the street, at the sidewalk. Her sister and her daughter had been there just a moment before. They should have been staring back up at her, waving, smiling. But they were gone.”

She thought they’d never find her…

Marisa Vega’s life as an adoptive mom in a tiny Mexican village isn’t what she’d dreamed while growing up in New York, but as the target of a man who’s convinced she stole millions from him, Marisa believes hiding is her only way to stay alive. When her daughter is snatched and held for ransom, Marisa must discover who really stole the money in order to rescue her.
He swore he’d never play the hero again.

Months after being kidnapped, tortured, and left with PTSD, Nate Boyle is ready to live a quiet life in rural New Hampshire. When the source of his breakout newspaper article—and the woman who haunts his dreams—begs for help, he gets pulled into a riddle that’s proved unsolvable for nearly a decade. 

Can Nate and Marisa unravel the years-old mystery and bring her daughter home?

Romance, suspense, and a darling four-year-old girl you’ll fall in love with.




Generous Lies
Hidden Truth Book 3
390 pages

“A pistol pressed against his son’s temple. A dark hand came into view, then an arm. Then a man came from behind the door and lifted his finger to his lips.”

He had no idea it was so bad.

Former FBI agent Garrison Kopp suspected his teenage son was in trouble, but a midnight summons to the ER reveals the drug problem is more serious than he thought. Desperate to get his son away from negative influences, he asks a beautiful and kind new friend who owns rental properties for a place to stay.

She’ll help, as long as she doesn’t have to risk anything.

Vacation homeowner Samantha Messenger is happy to provide Garrison and his son a lake cabin where they can regroup. She helps him search for a good rehab facility and tries not to hope for more than friendship. After what she’s been through, more isn’t an option, no matter what her heart wants.

Big trouble comes in tiny packages.

Sparks fly between them as Sam and Garrison work together to help the resistant teen.

But that becomes the least of their problems when a package planted in Garrison’s car lures enemies to the idyllic cabin on the lake. With their lives—and love—on the line, can they protect all they hold dear?




Innocent Lies 
Hidden Truth Book 4

"Kelsey didn’t want to reach for Carlos. Didn’t want to willingly walk to him. But she had to do what she could for Eric. Maybe Carlos would let her see him one last time. She took Carlos’s hand, swallowed a sob, and stepped into the house."

A lost little boy steals his heart.

When Eric finds eight-year-old Daniel alone in the woods, he has no idea where the boy came from or how he's survived the wintery New Hampshire weather. He figures once he hands the boy off to child services, his part in Daniel's drama will be over. He couldn't be more wrong.
She’ll do anything to keep her son safe.

Kelsey sneaks into Nutfield with a goal and a secret, but when she's arrested and sees Eric, her first and only love, all her plans to expose her enemy fall apart.
The past catches up with them.

Together, Eric and Kelsey fight to protect Daniel, an innocent child caught in a dangerous game. Can Eric help Kelsey bring down her enemies without risking his heart...again? Will Kelsey have to walk away from the only man she's ever loved...again?




Hidden Truth Series Excerpts

Convenient Lies

Rae was turning the page when a creak startled her. She set the album on the bed beside her, then listened.

A whispered word. “Hurry.”

Rae’s pulse raced. Had Julien found her? Had she waited a day too long?

She slid off the bed and tiptoed down the hall and into the bedroom where her phone was charging. She closed the door behind her, then grabbed the cell and dialed 9-1-1.

“What’s your emergen—”

“There someone in my house,” she whispered. “At least two people.” She stepped in front of the cradle, stared at the door, and recited her address.

After the operator had asked all the required questions, Rae dropped the phone on the bed. She flipped on the closet light. The baby snored gently while Rae searched her old closet for something, anything... She grabbed an award she’d won for an article in the local paper—an oversize brass pen on a stone stand. That might do some damage. She returned to her place between the door and her child, lifted the award in her right hand, and prepared to swing it.

Seconds ticked by. She heard nothing. No voices. No footsteps. No doors opening or closing. Minutes passed. Years. She pleaded with the silence. Protect Johnny, please. Just keep him safe.


Twisted Lies

She thought they’d never find her, and then her daughter vanished…

Someone grabbed Marisa from behind. She turned to look, but a man pulled her close, wrapped his arms around her, and covered her head with a heavy coat. He yanked her toward him, and she lost her footing and crashed against his chest. Her nose filled with the scent of body odor and raw power.

She fought to get away, but his arms squeezed her like a vice. He pulled her with him, and she stumbled along, trying to fight, unable to do anything.

She screamed. The sound was muffled inside his heavy coat. They’d gone just a few feet when she heard Nate’s voice. “Let her go!”

The man did, yanking his heavy coat with him.

Marisa gasped in fresh air, stumbled, and banged her shoulder into the stone face of the market. She turned just as Nate reached her.

The pounding of the man’s footsteps faded as he rounded a corner in the market and disappeared.

Nate gripped her arms and looked into her eyes. “Are you okay?”

Marisa nodded and turned to check if Ana had seen. She hoped she hadn’t. How it would scare her to watch her mother accosted.

But her daughter wasn’t there.

“Leslie and Ana.” Marisa peered down the stairs, across the street, at the sidewalk. Her sister and her daughter had been there just a moment before. They should have been staring back up at her, waving, smiling.

But they were gone.



Generous Lies

A single father determined to save his son. A teenage boy who doesn’t think he needs saving. A damaged woman afraid to risk her heart. And a tiny package that could destroy them all.



Aiden pushed the door open and froze.

The place had been tossed.

Garrison grabbed his son’s arm to pull him back out, but it was too late.

A pistol pressed against Aiden’s temple. A dark hand, an arm. A man came from behind the door and lifted his finger to his lips.

Garrison wanted to shout, to warn Sam. But he didn’t dare.

The man yanked Aiden, who stumbled into the room and nearly tripped over a lamp lying broken on the hardwood. The man gestured for Garrison to follow.

He took in the space. A huge bald man stood beside the television set, a pistol aimed at Garrison.

There were two figures on the couch, their backs to him so he only saw the tops of their heads. By the way they were sitting, still and facing forward, Garrison assumed they, too, were captives.

Captives. Garrison and Aiden had, somehow, in the time it takes to unlock the door and step inside, become captives.



Innocent Lies
A little boy alone in the wintery woods. A detective determined to find the child's mother. A woman who'll sacrifice everything to protect the ones she loves.

The sound of a car door outside slamming woke Kelsey from her nap.

She hobbled to the window, saw the police car in the driveway, another car behind it.

No, no, no!

She dropped to the floor, crawled to the sofa, and pulled the blankets off. She hooked her arm through the backpack straps and backed herself and all the stuff against the wall, out of view of the front windows and the back door.

With her eyes squeezed shut, she prayed to the God who’d only ever let her down that this time, this time he would help her.

The banging on the front door sent jolts of fear down her spine.

Anything but this. Please.

A moment later, she heard more banging, this time from the back. Not that she could have made a run for it, but the cops had cut off the possibility.

The question was, would they enter? Would they give up and leave? Surely, they didn’t have keys to the cabin.

Her gun! She yanked it out of her bag, scooted to the sofa, and shoved it beneath the cushions. As she scooted back to the corner, she cursed her stupidity.

A muffled voice, a shout, and the pounding of footsteps on the porch.

Then, the unmistakable jingle of keys. The sound had her blood running cold.

The lock turned.

The door opened.

And her last chance for escape melted like snow.



About the Author

Robin Patchen writes contemporary Christian suspense, romance, and romantic suspense. Her books are often set in New England, where she grew up. She creates strong, protective heroes and intelligent, courageous heroines.

Aside from her family and her Savior, Robin Patchen has two loves—writing and traveling. If she could combine them, she’d spend a lot of time sitting in front of her laptop at sidewalk cafes and ski lodges and beachside burger joints. She’d visit every place in the entire world—twice, if possible—and craft stories and tell people about her Savior. Alas, time is too short and money is too scarce for Robin to traipse all over the globe, even if her husband and kids wanted to go with her. So she stays in Oklahoma, shares the Good News when she can, and writes to illustrate the unending grace of God through the power and magic of story.



Website * Newsletter * Facebook * Twitter * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads



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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Web of Frost by Author Lindsay Smith - A too-young queen must learn to control her powers in order to save her empire, but can she trust the man who’s taught her to use her gift? Excerpt - Giveaway


Title: Web of Frost
Author: Lindsay Smith
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Eventide Press
Series: The Saints of Russalka
Page Count: 402 pages
Format: Digitial 
ASIN: B078X1K8VP
ISBN-13: 9781370549054


Web of Frost by Lindsay Smith 


A too-young queen must learn to control her powers in order to save her empire, but can she trust the man who’s taught her to use her gift?

Grab your copy of WEB OF FROST and add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! Then keep reading to get an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek at WEB OF FROST!


The saints of Russalka work their blessings in mysterious ways, allowing the royal family to perform miracles for their people. But the young princess Katza fears her powers. She’s seen grave visions of her bloodied hands destroying her family’s empire. When her older brother succumbs to illness, leaving her next in line for the throne, Katza turns to a young rebellious prophet named Ravin who promises to teach her how to control her gift. As unrest grows in Russalka and a foreign monarchy threatens, Ravin understands Katza's fears and helps her find confidence in her gift, and her own heart. Under Ravin’s unorthodox training, Katza learns to hear the saints once more—until revolutionaries claim her father’s life.

Reeling and desperate, Katza draws upon darker and darker powers to stop the revolutionaries, the foreign invaders, and the members of her own court who would see her fail. But the more Ravin whispers in her ear, the more Katza questions whether he—and the saints—have her best interests at heart. She must choose between her love of Ravin and her love of Russalka itself—and decide whether her empire might not be better off without her.

Available at:
Amazon ** B&N  ** iBooks **  Kobo 




Web of Frost Excerpt
Copyright © 2018 Lindsay Smith

Ravin stood silent in the doorway, his clasped hands a speck of pale flesh against the black velvet of his coat and trousers. Her thoughts soared at the sight of him. She needed his counsel to make sense of her latest vision. She needed his guidance. She needed—him.

She tangled her fingers in the bedsheets and twisted them, uncomfortable with the sudden yearning that pricked at her skin.

“Prophet.” Katza’s voice cracked. She turned toward the physicker. “Please, allow us to speak privately.”

The physicker exchanged looks with Nadika, who hovered in the corner of the bedchamber. Nadika nodded, and the physicker gathered his bag and left.

Ravin moved inside, quiet as snow, and closed the door. Nadika posted herself in the doorway as he sat in the physicker’s chair at Katza’s side. Dark crescents lurked under his eyes, and his skin looked more pallid than usual. Katza felt a sudden urge to brush those crescents with her thumbs, as if they were smudges she could wipe away.

“Are you all right?” Ravin asked softly. “I’ve been worried for you. I prayed for you all evening.”

Embers flared on Katza’s cheeks as she imagined him kneeling in the chapel . . . imagined her name on his lips. “I—I’m fine now. But I had a vision.” She pitched her voice low. “A new one. There was gunfire, or cannons perhaps, in the distance. And I was bleeding.” She gripped her stomach instinctively. “I think in the vision I’d been shot.”

Ravin pressed his palms together and tapped the tips of his fingers to his mouth. “It was similar to other visions of yours, was it not?”

Katza’s jaw clenched. For a moment, she was afraid to speak, so she nodded instead. She still wasn’t prepared to tell him about her recurring vision—the one she’d first feared this might be, too. He’d hinted before that he knew of it already, but how was that possible? Had the saints warned him as well? Better to keep it to herself until she could be sure.

“Yes. I sense this is a common theme for you.” He glanced down. “I believe that Boj is warning you—warning that great strife is coming to Russalka. That if you are not prepared to confront it, you will not survive.”

A horrifying possibility, to be sure. Yet it was better than the vision she’d been plagued with before. If she couldn’t find a way to stop the strife, though, would Russalka still perish? Whether it was at her hands or not, it had to be stopped.

“And if I am prepared?” Katza asked.

“Then it can be avoided.” The angles of his face softened by a fraction. Katza’s gaze traced the delicate swoop from his cheek toward his mouth and lips, the hollows beneath his cheekbones. “You have been chosen by Boj to do great things. Greater even than most Silovs are capable of.” He looked right at her, something gleaming in his eyes. Something like awe. “But your training has been stunted.”

Katza squeezed her eyes shut to guard against a rush of despair. “It’s my fault. My visions—I thought they were warning me not to step above my place.”

“You thought they warned you not to act?” he asked. “And yet they continued? Tsarechka . . . I think perhaps they were warning you of the cost of inaction.”

Katza choked back a sour laugh. When she opened her eyes again, Ravin was watching her, his face warm despite that leeching cold in his eyes. She wanted to believe him. Desperately. She couldn’t put into words, though, the vision’s warning—the certainty she’d felt of its message. That she was doomed to be Russalka’s death.

But maybe she was wrong. She yearned to be wrong. Maybe, with Ravin’s aid, she could avoid its grim outcome.

“You are unprepared now, but you will learn. With the right training, you can save Russalka.”

Her gaze drifted down his face and along the long, stern line of his arms. His hands, so like a sculptor’s, dexterous and slim. This close to him, she smelled incense on his clothes, spiced like cinnamon and cloves. She wanted to wrap herself in that scent. Throat tight, she reached out for his hand. At first he tensed, but then his shoulders softened, and a smile teased his mouth. Their fingers knitted together, and she let the weight of her hand sink into his.





Other Books by Lindsay Smith



About the Author


Lindsay is the author of the young adult novels Sekret, Dreamstrider, and A Darkly Beating Heart, and is the showrunner and lead writer for Serial Box's The Witch Who Came In From the Cold. Her work has appeared on Tor.com and in the anthologies A Tyranny of Petticoats, Strange Romance Vol. 3, and Toil & Trouble, and she has written for Green Ronin Publishing's RPG properties. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and dog. 





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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Fire and Bone by Rachel A Marks - Excerpt - Giveaway

 
Fire and Bone 
Rachel A. Marks
(Otherborn #1)
Publication date: February 20th 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult



“Gossip Girl meets Percy Jackson in the glitz and grit of L.A….”

In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future.

Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap.

Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she is of age, she’s asked to pledge her service to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means possible. She has to admit that she’s tempted—especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glam, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could boost her rank in the Otherworld.

As loyalties shift, and as the two men vie for her attention, Sage tries to figure out who to trust in a realm she doesn’t understand. One thing’s for sure: the trap she’s in has bigger claws than she thought. And it’s going to take a lot more than magic for this Celtic demigoddess to make it out alive.



Excerpt


LILY

I try to hide my shivering as I wait before the altar, in my position as the Bonding begins. Around me, shadows dance over the cairn walls from the restless flames licking up the ram’s body—the sacrifice on the pyre behind me—and the smell of sweat and burnt flesh smother the smoky air.

The King of Ravens paints an alarming image, standing almost naked across from me on the other side of the blood circle. He wears the corona radiata, the golden laurel-leafed crown, on his head of onyx hair. His short beard is neatly trimmed, combed with lavender oil for the ceremony. His sharp silver eyes study me beneath a heavy brow.

I try not to think about the past. Or future. I try not to think about what those hard hands will feel like on my skin when he seals this Bond.

I study the stone floor rather than look in those metallic eyes. I feel them on me, though, the same way they have been for the fortnight I’ve been here preparing for the ceremony. He hasn’t touched me; he’s only brought me gifts and insisted I sit with him beside the greatfire in the evening before he goes out for his hunt. Sometimes I smell him in the hallway outside my rooms. But he never comes in, thank the goddess. The scent of blood is heavy on him in those moments. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if he’d attempted anything.

After this is done, it won’t matter. My bed will be his. As will my life.

A druid walks back and forth behind me, tossing rosemary and lavender onto the pyre after each stanza of his spell. He calls to the wind from the east, he calls to the waters in the west, and he pulls the spirit of flame and earth into the cairn with us, asking the Penta to approve the Bond set to be made between the two most powerful Houses, as he pleads for a blessing from our mothers, Brighid and Morrígan, and thanks the Cast for their permission to seal the Bond between the two very different powers.

A female druid comes to my side with bowl and brush, beginning to paint my skin in blue woad, tracing patterns of knots and runes across my back, then baring my chest and continuing.

The king’s gaze follows the woman’s strokes, and when she’s finished, he raises his chin at me in approval but says nothing. What does he see when he looks at me? My wild copper hair? My simple features? The awkward birthmark just above my heart? I’m round of cheek and hips and not much of a beauty. But however I look to him, I will belong to him.

Determination is set in hard lines on his face, and I wonder if the torque on his neck is working properly. I can see his dark energy lifting in silver and black curls over his shoulders now. It should be tight inside his skin, as mine is. The iron shackle should be holding it in place so that we don’t harm each other in the first merging, before we can get used to the feel of each other’s powers.

The female druid moves to the king next and begins painting the woad in circles over his torso. The druid chanting behind me recites the final section of his spell, walking the ram’s-blood circle painted on the floor. He holds a rowan stick aloft, flicking rosewater over the king and then me as he passes by, mumbling, “A price paid, a covenant sealed, in earth and blood and ash, in spirit and flesh and fire.”

The price is my will, my soul, in payment for the life of the human prince that I took.

In the center of the circle, between the king and me, is an altar with two bowls set atop, one full of salt, one full of rye.

The iron union dagger rests between them.

I stare at it, imagining the blade cutting into my flesh. And I can’t help when my gaze moves to the king. I want to blink and make this moment a dream, perhaps find myself in the thicket with Lailoken, among the bluebells in the Caledonian wood.

I should run from this son of Morrígan, deny him, deny our mothers, and let the world burn. But my heart twists at the thought. I was running from duty when fate took my heart from me, when the prince succumbed to my fire’s will. It was the childish notion of freedom that tore him from me.

Now it’s time to accept my punishment for allowing the humans to glimpse our world. Time to atone.

The druid’s voice fills the room again. “When moon gives birth to stars,” he says, in a droning hum, flicking more rosewater over us with the rowan stick, “let this Bond be sealed in blood.”

My skin prickles with fear as the king takes the cue, reaching out to pick up the ceremonial dagger by the leather-wrapped hilt. I focus on not moving, not making a sound, as I watch him bring the blade to his chest, tip pricking his left breast. A drop of crimson pearls up at the spot.

With a slow hiss of breath, he cuts across.

Dark blood slides down his abdomen in a thick swath of red. “My blood with yours,” he says. And he turns the knife, holding out the hilt for me.

My hands clench into fists at my side, and I force my shaking limbs to still.

I breathe in slowly again. Then I reach out, taking the ceremonial dagger from him, careful not to touch his fingers.

I pretend not to care about the cage I’m about to be locked in. About the pain in my soul from loss, from the goddess Brighid abandoning me to this darkness, pain from the reality of everything in front of me.

I press the tip of the blade to the center of my chest, the point breaking the skin. I look into the silver eyes of the king in front of me. And consider my fate.

One deep plunge to the heart and the pain will end. One plunge.

One.





About the Author


Rachel A. Marks is a cancer survivor, a writer and artist, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. Her four kids and amazing hubby put up with her nerdiness with tremendous grace, even when she makes them watch Buffy or Smallville re-runs for days on end. She was voted: Most Likely To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she'll never have to test the theory.








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Monday, February 19, 2018

The Witches of Andar by Author Ashlie Harris. Excerpts - Giveaway


The Witches of Andar
by Ashlie Harris
Genre: Fantasy



A trio of An-Kishar witches has unwittingly become involved in a royal coup. After saving the murdered king's son, the foursome takes shelter with a traveling theater troupe, hoping to stay in hiding until the Prince is able to reclaim his throne.

Fight alongside Malinda, Alice, and Justine to rid the kingdom of the dark magic that threatens to run rampant. Venture into the Hanging Ferns Forest, travel with the Thespian Connection, and help unravel the mysteries that lie within the realm of Andar!

"Alice!... You can't slap a Prince!" -Justine; The Witches of Andar- Book 1







Excerpt


Sweeping her graying hair out of her eyes for the hundredth

time, Malinda looked longingly out of the small kitchen

window as she slowly and steadily stirred the small bubbling

cauldron on the fire. Being the castle's head witch did have its

perks- this wasn't one of them.

Being the perfectionist she is, Malinda insisted on making all

of her concoctions herself. She couldn't abide having anyone

else tinkering with her precious ingredients and recipes, not

even Alice or Justine, her two closest friends. Alice didn't

seem to mind her finicky ways, though Justine's curious

demeanor had landed her on Malinda's ugly side on more

than one occasion.

A quiet, respectable witch, Alice Seawall was the matriarch of

the Scotsea tribe. Though it was Malinda who was the head

of the entire coven, the Anu Scotts, Alice acted as executor,

carrying out her many requests. Justine was Alice's protégé,

though a naïve and fanciful one at best.

The Anu Scotts were known as An-Kishar witches (An-Kishar

meaning "the joining of Heaven and Earth") and were widely

sought out over other branches of witchcraft, due to their

peaceful nature and ancient knowledge. Malinda, Alice, and

Justine served King Randir and the entire domain of Andar in

all matters from the trivial to the crucial.

With a few more deft turns of her enchanted ladle, Malinda's

remedy for the King's cousin, the Duke of St. Clair, was finally

ready to bottle. Why he'd asked for a hair enhancement tonic

was beyond her, though. He had locks even some women

were jealous of. But, she had learned early on not to question

royalty. She was especially reluctant to even deal with St.

Clair, but she really had no choice; he was the king's closest

living relative, after all. Corking the intricately inscribed glass

vial, Malinda sent it floating into the next room to land on

Alice's desk.

Looking up from her books and scrolls, Alice eyed Malinda.

"You know," she said, "you could just walk it over here. I'm

only five feet away. Or better yet, take it to him yourself, this

time. I'm not even close to being done transcribing these

spells."

Souring, Malinda replied, "Oh, fine. I'll do it. That

pompous Duke had better just take the bottle and let me on

my way, or so help me, I'll turn him into a... a..."

"A cat-dog?" supplied Alice, not even bothering to hide her

grin.

"Yes, Alice. A cat-dog, so he'll always be at war with himself."

With that, Malinda wrapped her woolen green cloak tighter

around herself and went off in search of the handsome, yet

devilish, Duke of St. Clair.



Excerpt


Raising their hands, they shouted in unison, “Scuto socio!" A

great, golden flash erupted from their palms, drawing

everyone's attention from the drama unfolding between

Justine, Prince Gregdan, and the Duke/King. The crowd

dispersed upon seeing the witches in action. Most feared the

unknown forces behind their magic and others could simply

sense the impending doom.

The shimmering shield spread it’s translucent tendrils until it

was completely encircling all three women. The Prince,

however, seemed to be just out of the spell’s reach. Muttering

another incantation, Malinda nodded her head and the

remaining guards dropped to the ground, completely

paralyzed. Justine, now free of the guards, made a break for

the Prince.

“Stop!” shouted the Duke, red-faced and veins bulging. He

stepped closer to Prince Gregdan so that he was within arms’

reach, and pointed to Justine. “You foolish girl! Do you not

know a losing battle when you’re in the middle of one?”

“The only loser here is you, King Ebrius,” retorted Justine,

filling the title with as much disgust and contempt as she

could muster.

“You would be wise to address me more respectfully, child,”

warned Ebrius. “I may take pity on you yet. I do tend to

prefer a feisty redhead,” he winked and Justine could feel her

stomach churning in response. “Just think,” he said, “like it or

not, I am King. You could be my Queen.”

Being an An-Kishar limited Justine’s knowledge of harmful

spells, but she’d always been good at improvising. She

recalled the incantations she’d been helping Alice transcribe

before their world had been shattered into a million pieces.

Remembering a partial spell, and with more confidence than

she felt, Justine summoned every ounce of her love and anger

and bellowed, “Konfleur aphida!”

Nothing happened and, for a moment, Justine thought she’d

done the spell incorrectly and she feared the consequences if

she had. Just as she began to lose heart, they heard a great

roar. Ebrius, fearing an attack from a large and fearsome

creature, drew his sword, ready to fight. His foe, however,

was not a great beast, but a massive swarm of insects. Every

sort of insect found in the kingdom was present it seemedfrom

the minuscule, crawling Opaci to the intimidating

Vespuns, their black wings, shining in the evening sun. And

their sole intent was to lay siege to the false King.





About the Author

Ashlie Harris is 30 years old and a Stay-at-Home mother of four homeschooled children. She and her husband live in the heart of the Midwest, USA, in a place Ashlie likes to call, "The Land of Corn and Beans". She has lived there all her life but may plan to move North in the near future. A unique childhood and a passion for the written word have served as motivation and inspiration throughout the years. Always the writer, Ashlie can often be found asking inappropriate questions, staring at seemingly nothing for hours on end, and generally being completely socially awkward. Her biggest wish is for people to look past their differences and start treating each other as the one, single race we are- HUMAN.






Giveaway
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Truth Stone by Author Mike Shelton. One little lie won't hurt. Excerpt - Giveaway


TruthStone
Book 1 of the Truthseer Archives
by Mike Shelton
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy



One little lie won’t hurt.


When fifteen year old Shaeleen unexpectedly is given a TruthStone, every lie she hears or tells causes her immense physical pain. As she struggles to control her new power and curb the pain, she learns a powerful truth that could thrust an entire continent into civil war. She must choose: reveal the truth and stop the pain – or sacrifice her own well-being to protect her kingdom.

For two hundred years the five kingdoms of Wayland have been protected by the stones of power. Now those stones are failing and a darker power is trying to take control. With the help of her brother, Cole and a newfound friend, Orin, Shaeleen sets out to gather and restore the power of all the stones.

But will she succeed before the endless lies destroy her?




Excerpt

As Shaeleen reached the edge of the crowd, an old, wrinkled woman with a gray hood over her hair almost knocked Shaeleen down. The woman fell to the dirt in front of her, and as she leaned down to help the woman, Shaeleen glanced around, trying to figure out where the woman had come from.

“Are you hurt?” Shaeleen asked, kneeling beside the elderly woman.

The woman shook her head and peered up at Shaeleen, her hood sliding back off her hair. Shaeleen gasped and put her hand over her mouth.

“Don’t be afraid,” the woman said in a quiet voice. Her long, white hair hung straight around her slender face, and she peered hard at Shaeleen. But it was the woman’s upswept ears and pale blue eyes—a similar eye color to her own and her brother’s—that clued Shaeleen in on the woman’s heritage. A heritage that Shaeleen had always wondered if she and her brother shared with those from Verlyn—though mixed and weak it would have to have been. Only her eye color was similar to the woman’s, but that was enough to stick out in a nation with predominately brown and green eyes.

The woman was obviously not from the kingdom of Gelena but from Verlyn, an island off the southeast coast of the continent of Wayland. An island where the descendants of elves lived and, if believed, where the magic in Wayland had originated.

Shaeleen’s heart pounded. She’d seen the people of Verlyn from a distance before, but they were usually aloof. The woman’s face held wrinkles that had been chiseled into her delicate features over many years. She lifted up a gnarled hand toward Shaeleen’s cheek, and it took all Shaeleen’s will to not move away.

“What are you doing in the market today, my dear?” the old woman asked, stopping her hand just short from actually touching Shaeleen.

“Buying cloth for my mother, ma’am,” Shaeleen said.

As a man came running up next to them, the woman cleared her voice loudly and seemed annoyed. He moved more quickly than Shaeleen had thought should be possible. The power of speed came from Antioch, but the man didn’t look like he was from there.

“Keeper,” the man said to the woman. His long, brown hair hung down loosely over his brown leather vest and dark green shirt. Next to his leather pants hung a silver sword, on which his hand rested. His blue eyes continued to roam the marketplace.

“We need to leave,” he added. “They have followed us here.”

The woman looked up at the man then returned her attention to Shaeleen. “I do not see any cloth with you, child. Are you sure that is where you were going?”

Shaeleen blushed and felt guilty at lying, something that had lately become easy to do to her father and mother. Without admitting her guilt, she changed the subject by saying, “Let me help you up.”

The woman brought her other hand out from behind her back and placed it in Shaeleen’s outstretched hand to accept the help. As she did so, the woman pushed something into Shaeleen’s palm.

Once standing, the woman brought Shaeleen’s hands together, wrapping both of her own wrinkled hands around Shaeleen’s, squeezing them tight around the object. A soft, green light appeared around the edges of their hands, and something strange and peculiar raced through Shaeleen’s body, increasing her heart rate and stimulating her mind.

“What are you doing?” Shaeleen said as she tried to pull her hands free. But the woman held strong and looked Shaeleen in the eye.

“Take it,” she said, her voice hoarse and low. “You are the one to save all the stones. Their magic is fading. You have been prophesied.”

The man with the sword moved to grab the old woman’s elbow. “Keeper Melindra, we must leave!”

Melindra turned to the man. “We have a few more moments, Galen. You just watch out for trouble.”

Shaeleen couldn’t follow what was going on. What had the man called the woman again?

A keeper!

The only keeper Shaeleen knew about was the keeper of stones from her history books. Shaking her head, she couldn’t believe this crazy woman was one of those keepers. But the woman was from Verlyn, so something was going on that Shaeleen couldn’t quite figure out.

A sound in the crowd alerted Shaeleen, and she turned to look. Through the swarming shoppers in the marketplace, she saw three men approaching. They had the same slender builds and facial features as Melindra and Galen. Shaeleen had never seen so many from Verlyn traveling together before.

The three men were turning their heads from left to right, glancing down each row of vendors, searching for something—or someone. Shaeleen took a step back as she realized they must be searching for Melindra.

The old woman followed Shaeleen’s eyes and then seemed to stiffen. “Go,” she croaked. “Don’t let them see you.”

“But…” Shaeleen tried to speak. Then she felt something in her hand. She had almost forgotten that the woman had given her something. She slowly opened her fingers and found herself looking at a small, green stone. It was beautiful and sparkled in the sunlight, holding her transfixed for a moment. This couldn’t be what she thought it was. That wasn’t possible.

She turned, to give it back to the woman, for she couldn’t accept such a gift, especially from a stranger. But, by the size of it—a little smaller than a chicken egg—she’d guess that her entire family could live forever on its worth, and its value was worth much more than gold or silver if it was indeed what she thought it was. Shaeleen’s mind raced momentarily with the possibilities of wealth it would bring if she could sell it.

But she finally shoved the stone back toward the woman. The old woman pushed Shaeleen’s hand away.

“It is yours now, but not for the riches.”

How could the woman know what I had been thinking?

“I…” Shaeleen tried to speak but felt a tightening of her chest.

“Don’t deny it, child,” Melindra said sternly. “Those types of thoughts will only cause you pain.”

This is crazy. Why did she give me this gemstone? This is…

“Moldavite, a TruthStone,” Shaeleen whispered.

“Hush, child. You don’t want people hearing that, do you?”




About the Author

Mike was born in California and has lived in multiple states from the west coast to the east coast. He cannot remember a time when he wasn't reading a book. At school, home, on vacation, at work at lunch time, and yes even a few pages in the car (at times when he just couldn't put that great book down). Though he has read all sorts of genres he has always been drawn to fantasy. It is his way of escaping to a simpler time filled with magic, wonders and heroics of young men and women.

Other than reading, Mike has always enjoyed the outdoors. From the beaches in Southern California to the warm waters of North Carolina. From the waterfalls in the Northwest to the Rocky Mountains in Utah. Mike has appreciated the beauty that God provides for us. He also enjoys hiking, discovering nature, playing a little basketball or volleyball, and most recently disc golf. He has a lovely wife who has always supported him, and three beautiful children who have been the center of his life.

Mike began writing stories in elementary school and moved on to larger novels in his early adult years. He has worked in corporate finance for most of his career. That, along with spending time with his wonderful family and obligations at church has made it difficult to find the time to truly dedicate to writing. In the last few years as his children have become older he has returned to doing what he truly enjoys - writing!





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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine Bride: A Shanna Hatfield Freebie - Excerpt - Giveaway



Title: Valentine Bride
Author: Shanna Hatfield
Genre: Sweet Romance, RomCom
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR



Two unlikely matchmakers set the stage for love…

Fynlee Dale returns to Holiday to take care of her wacky grandmother. Although it means giving up her dreams of a career and husband, she needs to be there for Grams.
Carson Ford vows to take care of his elderly aunt after buying her ranch. Comfortable with all aspects of his life, his world turns upside down when he meets a woman who's impossible to forget.

They find themselves in the midst of a plot by two scheming old women determined to make them fall in love.
Valentine Bride is a funny, sweet romance given a liberal dose of humor through a cast of colorful characters intertwined around a heartwarming love story.

Buy Link 


Excerpt

Fynlee held back a sigh as she watched the older women, wondering how many calls from the staff loomed in her immediate future. Matilda got into enough mischief on her own, but now she’d be dragging poor Mrs. Beaumont into the fray.

A clearing throat drew her gaze to the brawny man standing beside her, staring at the underwear in her arms.

“Is that a welcoming gift?” he asked with a lopsided smirk.

Heat flamed into Fynlee’s cheeks, making her freckles stand out even more as she hastily looked for somewhere to dump the briefs. With nothing readily available, she wadded them into a lumpy ball and clutched them against her side.

“No, it certainly is not. I don’t think anyone would want these old things, anyway.” Humiliated, she studied the burly, unreasonably attractive stranger. At her five-ten height, it wasn’t often she encountered a man tall enough to make her look up to fully see his face.

A tanned forefinger tipped back the brim of his straw Stetson and Fynlee swallowed hard. Blue eyes sparkled with humor behind thick lashes and a boyish smile added to his considerable appeal. Hints of golden brown hair peeked out from beneath the hat brim.

“I’m Carson Ford. Aunt Ruth asked me to help her get settled.” He held out a work-roughened hand to her.

Fynlee glanced at it, noting a cut across the back of his knuckles and a jagged scar near his thumb. Those hands looked every bit as rugged as the man to which they belonged.

With only a slight hesitation, she reached out and shook his hand, unprepared for the electrical current that sizzled from her fingertips up her arm.

From the way Ruth spoke of her nephew who purchased the ranch, Fynlee assumed he’d be in his fifties. A picture of a pot-bellied, balding man had fit her image of him. She certainly never envisioned the nephew as a young, incredibly attractive cowboy.

Gathering her rapidly scattering wits, she smiled at him. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Ford. I’m Fynlee Dale. That loony woman with your aunt is my grandmother.”

The sound of his deep chuckle made something softly pluck at her heartstrings. For a brief, fleeting moment, Fynlee toyed with the idea that she’d finally met the man she would one day marry.

Stunned by the preposterous notions swirling through her mind, she took a step back and turned toward her grandmother’s apartment. In her twenty-seven years of living, she’d never seen a man as virile and entirely appealing as Ruth’s nephew, but that was no reason to lose her head.




About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Romance Writers of America, Sweet Romance Reads, Cowboy Kisses, and Pioneer Hearts.

Author Links

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