Teaser: The Priestess and the Dragon

Just a few days left until The Priestess and the Dragon is unleashed! Check out the first chapter below. And also check out information about how to win a Signed Paperback copy!

Chapter One:

SThe Priestess and The Dragon - E-bookweat rolled down her neck, slid down her spine and pooled at the basin of her lower back. Suzume resisted the urge to itch a tickle near her nose, lest she smear the white paint that adorned her face. The high priestess chanted in a sonorous voice and the procession moved forward a half step. Suzume sighed and lowered her head. The bells hanging from the decorative pins in her hair jingled as she did so. The second to the high priestess whipped her head around, somehow hearing the insignificant sound beneath the high priestess’ chanting. The second glared at Suzume, who returned the look with a half-smile and a tilt of her head, which jangled the bells further. The pinging sound felt like a declaration. I did not choose this life and I will not obey your rules.

The second pursed her lips as she glared at Suzume. She would not dare interrupt the ceremony to chastise Suzume. But if looks could kill, Suzume would be dead three times over. She would most likely get a tongue-lashing when they were alone again. If she had learned anything since coming to the temple, it was that the Maidens of the Mountain took their ceremonies seriously.

The procession moved forward another half step and the second turned back to the head priestess. Suzume sighed as she inched towards the temple. What she wouldn’t give to rip this constricting robe and sash off. I would trade all my father’s—no, the emperor, as I must now call him—I would give up all his gold and the power of the Eight to be free of this robe!

True, she was no stranger to fine garments. Indeed, she had often donned fine silks, she had been served by ladies from the noblest families and had men fall in love with her at least once a week. That was until her mother had ruined everything. You couldn’t tell from the bitter chill rolling off the mountain peaks, but at the White Palace, the cherry blossoms would be blooming. She should be viewing the cherry blossoms with General Tsubaki, her onetime intended, and having courtiers slipping her poetic love notes. He was the perfect match, powerful and old enough not to notice when I flirted with the younger lords. She sighed again.

The second spun around, breaking rank, and said with a hiss, “Silence.”

The young priestesses that were in three lines behind her giggled. The second glowered past Suzume towards them and the giggling died away, leaving only the sound of the high priestess, who continued to chant without breaking stride. When the second turned around, Suzume rolled her eyes. The procession moved another half step.

Suzume’s thoughts returned to her own lamentable fate. When she had imagined her wedding day, it was not like this. Instead of marrying General Tsubaki as was her right and his honor, she was to become an unwilling bride of the mountain god. Which was a romanticized way of saying she had been exiled to a life of a priestess. As the emperor’s trueborn daughter, she was born of divinity and as such she could not be simply married off. Her father insisted on adding insult to injury.

They approached a group of red torii arches. Before she passed beneath the first one, the wind picked up and jangled the bells in her hair, pushing against her as if trying to keep her from entering. She hesitated for a moment. She felt a tingle along her fingertips, a slight burn as if they had come too close to a flame. The second saw her dawdling and jerked her head to the side, indicating she should cross the barrier. It’s just a gateway. She crossed the threshold, and as she did, a prickling sensation ran up and down her arms. She pressed against an invisible barrier, as if the archway wanted to keep her back. She stumbled through and nearly lost her balance. She overcorrected and heard the priestesses behind her laughing, thinking she had lost her balance.

When she looked to them to see if they experienced the same phenomenon, they passed through without resistance. At least the wind had dried the sweat that was surely streaking the white paint on her neck. She chanced a glance to her side; beyond the red columns of the arch the pathway had a sheer drop. And in the distance she could see the mountain range shrouded in clouds. The pathway leading up to the shrine was carved from the mountain, one side a flat mountain face with a few sporadic plants growing in the cracks. The shrine was wedged into a cave; four columns supported the front facade, and beyond the veranda, the latticework doors had been pulled open. She had come a long way from the White Palace to this desolate mountain temple. Suzume suppressed another sigh, lest the second’s scowl grow deeper. Let’s get this over with, she thought.

After what felt like hours, but was closer to a few minutes, they passed beneath the last of the red arches and the house of the God of the Mountain lay before them. The wood on the front had been carved with a scene depicting the mountain range. Above the mountains, the god sat upon a cloud, and with an outstretched hand he brought rain to the needy farmers down at the bottom.

The high priestess stopped the procession. She finished her chant with one last echoing note that bounced off the surrounding mountains, and the following silence was more defined. The wind howled ominously. Suzume’s skin itched and burned. She fought the urge to rub her palms against her flesh to assuage her affliction; she wanted to maintain at least the illusion of respectability. The head priestess and all the other shrine maidens bowed in unison. Suzume, distracted by her fevered skin, did not follow but instead stared into the inner sanctum of the god. A pedestal was the room’s only adornment and upon the white pillow was an obsidian stone.

“Bow, you ungrateful girl,” the high priestess scolded.

Suzume did so with reluctance. Her skin trembled and twitched like a horse trying to shake off a fly. She could not remove her eyes from the stone. It seemed familiar, as if she had seen it before. As she knelt, she lost sight of it. She lowered her head in feigned obedience. However, a sensation began to stir in her gut; she felt like she might retch. I cannot do that, not now, not here. She glanced up once more, trying to regain control of her body.

The high priestess approached the shrine while swinging a brass bowl attached to four chains, with a stick of incense in it. The white smoke swirled around her and trailed after her as she approached the pedestal.

The high priestess lit a few incense sticks that were in holders on either side of the pedestal. She knelt down with her head bowed low to the ground as the room filled with the pungent smoke. The smoke tickled Suzume’s nose. She wiggled it back and forth, the churning feeling in her gut creeping up to the back of her throat. It felt as if there were an inferno burning inside her.

“God of the Mountain, bringer of the rain, great master who parted the lands from the sea, please accept this bride as yours.” She clapped her hands together, finishing the prayer. She rose up onto the balls of her feet and turned to face the group without rising from a kneeling position. She motioned for Suzume to come forward.

She rose on shaking limbs. Only her mere stubbornness kept her moving. As she crossed the threshold, a sensation like a punch to the gut stopped her in her tracks. Whatever was inside her was coming out, now. She stopped, afraid to move for fear her very skin would melt from her bones if she went too near. Is this a part of the ceremony? If so, I refuse to be a part of it.

The high priestess frowned and once more beckoned for her to come forward with a sharp impatient movement.

Suzume shook her head and set the bells jangling. They echoed across the room and seemed to reverberate tenfold, rattling around inside her skull.

“You cannot turn back now, you will anger the god,” the second snarled, now standing beside her with a rough grip of Suzume’s elbow.

The second forced Suzume forward; then Suzume’s knees buckled beneath her. Her stomach heaved and she feared she would empty its contents in front of everyone. She grabbed her abdomen in a last effort to hold back, but something bubbled up from inside her, the burning receded from her arms and pooled in her stomach before traveling up and out of her mouth. Bright red light burst from her lips and shot out like a current that sparked and undulated as it made a direct trajectory for the pedestal and collided with the obsidian stone.

For a moment the stone vibrated, and then it began to rock back and forth on its stand. Finally it rolled and began to ricochet around the pedestal, colliding with the raised edges of the stand. Then the pedestal exploded in a shower of splintered wood. The force of the explosion threw the high priestess backwards. Suzume fell to the ground just in time to avoid a deadly piece of wood from piercing her heart.

Fragments of wood rained down on her as she covered her head with her hands. When the raining debris ceased, she looked up again. Smoke filled the chamber—she could not tell if it was just the incense or from whatever had caused the explosion. The burning sensation had left her body, but Suzume felt a new tingling warm sensation that flooded her skin like a warning bell. She could not get up, however; it felt as if an invisible hand held her down, nearly forcing the air from her body.

“High Priestess!” the second shouted somewhere in the smoke and debris. The other maidens were chattering in fear.

“I am here, and unharmed,” the high priestess said. The smoke cleared and revealed her to be lying on the ground. She sat up and bits of wood fell off of her. She looked at Suzume, her eyes wide. “What did you do?” she asked.

Before Suzume had even the chance to answer, a hollow maniacal laughter filtered through the chamber. The head priestess’ mouth dropped open as she turned her head back to where the pedestal had been. The smoke rolled away and a coiled serpentine body covered in opalescent scales dominated the room. The creature’s muzzled face looked down upon Suzume, his long whiskers brushing against the bells on her hair pieces.

“God of the Mountain and bringer of the rain, I presume?” Suzume asked.

The creature smirked, revealing rows of dagger-sharp teeth. “You awoke me?” His voice echoed and filled the room with thunder.

Had she been a cautious woman, she would have listened to the underlying threat in the creature’s stature and his words. But Suzume prided herself on the fact that she did not cower before anyone, even the God of the Mountain.

“And if I did?” she asked.

The beast exhaled; his breath, as cold as winter, froze her skin until that warm tingling sensation defrosted her.

“God of the Mountain,” the high priestess gasped.

He turned his large head towards her and looked her up and down and said, “Your voice has been in my dreams.”

Tears gathered in the old woman’s eyes. “Thank you, lord, it is a great honor. I always hoped you heard my fervent prayers. I have dedicated my life to your service. Please tell us, why now have you—”

“Silence, you speak too much, human. I did not awaken to hear your prattling. You should stick to your prayers and songs, they are much easier upon the ears.” He growled and the high priestess fell onto her knees and laid her face to the ground.

“My apologies—” she started to say, but he growled and she silenced herself.

The god turned back to Suzume. “I can sense little spiritual power in you, yet you have undone the seal,” he said while regarding Suzume. He tilted his head to the side. The shrine maidens and high priestess had moved out of the way of the god’s coiling body and were huddled outside the shrine.

She looked at them and back at the god. How had she unleashed him? As far as she could tell, it had been an accident, an involuntary action. Regardless of the how, she did not want to admit her ignorance in front of the other shrine maidens.

“It was simple, the seal was weak,” Suzume lied.

He tilted his head and barked a thundering laugh that shook the building down to its foundation. He took a few steps back and then with a puff of smoke transformed. When the smoke cleared, a young man stood in his place. A naked young man. His sleek black hair hung loose about his shoulders in an almost obscene way.

Suzume admired his lean physique and let her eyes trace his body downward. Before she could get too far, however, the high priestess forced Suzume’s head down so she could not admire the god’s other masculine assets. Suzume sighed; if this is how she was expected to act for the rest of her life, then she was not going to like living here at all.

The god approached her and loomed over her. “You are my newest servant?”

She bristled at the servant distinction and was preparing to correct his misconception when the high priestess chose that moment to interrupt.

“She is your newest tribute, my lord, your pure bride.”

He raked Suzume up and down and she met his gaze with an out-jutted chin and only took a quick peek at his manhood. Not bad, she thought. He laughed again.

“I don’t know how pure she is.”

Suzume glared at him. How dare he insinuate she was anything but chaste! She had been attempting to get a sneak peek at his godly assets but nothing more than that. It didn’t make her impure to be curious.

“My lord!” the priestess proclaimed. He turned to her and looked her up and down.

“You keep calling me that, but I am not your mountain god. I am a dragon, and before I was trapped inside that stone, I ruled this realm. And you”—he knelt before Suzume. Now she did avert her gaze; she did not need to be that familiar with his manhood—”shall help me exact my revenge.”

 

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Kitsune Chapter One: Part 2

This is the second part of the Kitsune Chapter One. Read part 1 here. There’s just a few days left until the release!

 

Kitsune Chapter One: Part 2 Kitsune - E-book

Once again in fox form, she flew through the forest undergrowth. She could smell blood in the air; the boar had not been completely unsuccessful. I thought humans of this region knew to stay away from this forest. I wonder what madness drove them in here. She leapt over a fallen tree. It does not concern me, I suppose. Though I would have liked to learn more about that human. He was interesting. She laughed at her own curiosity. That is the first time I’ve ever thought that of a human.

As she ran, she spread out her senses. She had felt nothing since the boar, and then as she approached her destination, she noticed an overhead shadow, which leapt from branch to branch, keeping pace with her. If it was a Yokai, they had cloaked their spiritual energy, making them invisible to her probes. And if it was a Yokai, it also meant they were more powerful than her. She reached a clearing in the woods; the trees circled a grassy area open on all sides. It was a convenient spot to confront her stalker, one where she could escape from if need be.

She transformed back into a woman and said, “Come out, I know you’re there.”

It dropped out of the tree to her right. She tilted her head to look at him, as if she were merely curious and not on the defensive. His tunic and split pants were black and he wore a white mask over his face. The mask had only two dark holes for the eyes, no space for a mouth or nose.

“Can I safely assume you are here to welcome me?” Rin asked.

The messenger did not appear to be amused. “What business do you have in the guardian’s forest?” was his monotone reply.

“I am the Dragon’s messenger.”

The warrior’s hand hovered over his sword. “And what message might the Dragon have for Akio?”

“Are you Akio?” Rin asked, though she already knew the answer.

“No.”

She laughed. “Then I am not inclined to answer your questions, now am I?”

“You saved that human, why? You know I must report this to the guardian.”

She shrugged. How could she explain such a whim when she did not even understand it herself?

“Do you plan on taking me as a prisoner to Akio, then?” She held out her hands as if she expected him to bind them together.

“No, but I will escort you to his palace.”

She waved her hand. “Lead the way, then.”

Rin followed after the warrior. He walked with an upright rigid air that one would expect from Akio’s guard. He did not turn to make sure she followed. Not that it was necessary, he could stop her in an instant if she tried to flee. The guardian’s palace was hidden in the middle of the forest, the entrance guarded by a long rope bridge over a canyon. They crossed the bridge, which swung back and forth. Rin glanced over the edge at the chasm below. Low-hanging clouds blocked the bottom from view. The palace building itself was hidden amongst the trees, some twined with the building, as if it had been here since the dawn of time and the trees merely grew through the structure. The verandas and covered walkways were shaded by the canopies of trees to the point where Rin could not see where the building started and the trees ended.

Once they crossed the bridge, they climbed up a narrow set of stairs, which ended at a double door. There were two guards; both of them had the head of deer and the body of men. They wore armor, painted red, over black gathered pants and tunic. They stared straight forward, ignoring the warrior who had come to fetch Rin. The warrior moved silent as a ghost into the courtyard beyond. It was slated in marble, twisted with black and gold flecks. The roots of a large tree grew in cracks of the marble, like veins. She followed after the warrior, who gave her no instruction but seemed to expect compliance.

They climbed a smaller set of steps into the main building. Here the floors were covered in tatami, bamboo mats, and at the far end of the room on a raised platform sat the forest guardian, Akio. He was a massive creature who dominated the space. He had the head of a boar and instead of hands he had hooves. He wore several layers of bright silk robes. The sleeves draped over his arms and pooled on the ground near his thick meaty thighs. Yokai attended him, all of them animal hybrids like the guards at the door, a few monkeys, and a few more deer women served him platters of dumplings and fish cooked in a thick dark sauce. The warrior who had come to fetch her knelt down before the boar and laid his head down to the ground.

“My lord, I found this Kitsune wandering the forest,” he said in a formal clipped tone.

The boar ate messily; dark sauce dribbled off his snout and onto his bright yellow kimono. He glanced over at Rin like one does a buzzing fly. He had small beady eyes like the creature who had attacked the young lord. But unlike the dumb animal, there was cunning staring back at her.

“You are a messenger of the Dragon,” he said. His voice rumbled and shook his massive gut.

“Is it that obvious?” Rin replied. She could not help but taunt him. Her position as a messenger gave her immunity.

Akio did not seem amused. “Does your master forget that I have forbidden any of his court in my domain?”

“Ah. As the Dragon has often reminded you, your domain is within his kingdom and therefore you are his subject.”

The boar laughed. “You are brash for someone with such a low status.”

He thinks to humiliate me. Well… “That jibe might sting more if it were not coming from a mouth full of food.”

He jumped to his feet, knocking over platters and spilling a jug of sake in the process. Rin grinned, not backing down an inch.

“How dare you insult me in my own palace!” he roared.

“I would chastise you for being rude as well, but I feel it would be a futile effort.”

“You insolent worm. I should have you locked away to rot.”

“And then you would have a real war on your hands,” Rin replied.

The boar narrowed his eyes. “Who are you really?”

“Just the Dragon’s messenger, nothing more.”

“I find that suspect.” He sat back down on his cushion. And then he leaned forward, his hooves folded in front of him.

“The Dragon asks that you attend a feast,” Rin said.

“Does he now? Is this his way of distracting us from his human lover?”

Human lover? She had expected tricks from Akio, but this was too farfetched even for her to imagine. The servants that sat beside him leaned in and whispered to one another, giving her furtive looks. A doe towards the front gave her a slow smile. Rin smiled back, full of honey laced with poison. They cannot possibly know me. I am just being paranoid.

The boar grinned, revealing crooked yellow teeth. “You know about it, I am sure. They say the Dragon has become ensorcelled by a human woman. There are rumors he has even abandoned his palace in favor of dancing to the human’s whims.”

She tried to picture the Dragon with a human. She had spent so much time avoiding him she could not recall where she had last seen him. He leaves from time to time and he’s been known to take human lovers but never for long and never serious. “That’s the problem with rumors, they are often misleading. Don’t you agree?” she said.

The boar shook his head. He waved his hoof and the servants rose as one and filed out of the room. Rin watched them go with a growing sense of dread. She may have bitten off more than she could chew with Akio.

“I have no time for your games. I know the Dragon wants to lure me out of my palace, but I am no fool. You thought to trick me, but you’re not nearly clever enough to play this game.”

“I never intended to enter a game of wits with you. There’s no competition where you are involved.” She examined her pointed nails.

He grinned at her, revealing yellow teeth. Perhaps he missed the insult. “You would have done better to come groveling if you wanted to play a spy, Rin.”

Her mouth dropped open as her stomach sank. How could he possibly guess her motives? She had told no one of her intentions, not even Shin. “You—”

“Yes, I know who you are, and I know you are no mere messenger. You would have been better served to not break my laws as well; I might have let you go otherwise.” He waved his hoof and guards approached from all sides. “Take her prisoner.”

 

Find out what happens next by reading, Kitsune.

Available Friday August 14th at these retailers:

Amazon, Nook, Google Books, iBooks, and Kobo

 

Excerpt Songbird by Colleen Helme

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I try to keep my ear to the ground and if I ever find interesting books coming up, I like to share them with everyone. I discovered this gem recently and I cannot wait to read my copy. I’m helping out the author by sharing an excerpt and the cover as part of her book tour. It looks really interesting, be sure to check it you.

 

 

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Excerpt: Songbird by Colleen Helme

 

Her eyelids drooped. Half asleep, she didn’t hear the door to her room open. It shut with a soft click, startling her. She jerked to her feet and found a cloaked man standing inside her room. In the dim light, she recognized the Ambassador from Braemar, and gasped.

“Shh.” He held a gloved finger to his lips and waited like a coiled spring for several seconds.

Teya’s heart beat furiously. “What are you doing here?”

“It’s all right. I’ve come to get you out.”

“Are you crazy? It’s impossible. You’ll only get yourself killed. Believe me, it’s happened before. You should leave now before you get caught.”

His eyes widened in surprise. “You don’t want to be rescued?”

“Of course I do. But…it won’t work.”

He frowned. “I’m sorry you have so little faith in me, but I assure you, I can get you out.”

“Why would you do that?”

“I have my reasons, and I’ll tell you once we’re away.” He stepped further into the room and pushed his dark cloak back, revealing several tools and a long rope.

As he moved to the window, she stepped in front of him. “It won’t work. The king has guards everywhere, and I’m watched all the time. We’ll never get out of the palace, let alone the city. They’ll kill you.”

He considered her for a moment. “I have everything planned to the minute. I can get you out. Do you want to leave?”

His boldness shocked her, but he waited patiently while she gathered her wits. There was kindness in his eyes, and it was hard not to believe him. “Do you mean to keep me enslaved? Or can you take this off?” She lifted the kundar from her skin, hardly believing that she had the gall to challenge him.

Here was someone willing to get her out of this hell, and she was bargaining over the kundar? If she went with him, she would be out of her prison with a better chance of getting it off than she had now. She swallowed, regretting that she’d asked, but wouldn’t take it back now.

He stared at her with surprise. After a pause, he came to a decision. “I can’t guarantee anything. But even with it on, I can promise you more freedom than you have now.”

“So you can own me?” Defiance laced through her tone.

 

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About the Book

 

Title: Songbird

Author: Colleen Helme

Genre: Romance Fantasy

As the ambassador from Braemar, Bran is sent on a diplomatic mission to the Old Country to establish trade relations. But the real reason for his mission is to uncover the secrets of a potent elixir that can give magic to anyone who drinks it.

While there he encounters the Songbird, a beautiful, exotic woman, and the king’s most prized possession. Her song is full of magic, and he determines that her people must be connected to the deadly elixir. In exchange for her help, he is willing to risk his life to set her free. What he doesn’t expect, is to fall under her spell…

 

Author Bio

As the author of the Shelby Nichols Adventure Series, Colleen is often asked if Shelby Nichols is her alter-ego. “Definitely,” she says. “Shelby is the epitome of everything I wish I dared to be.” Known for her laugh since she was a kid, Colleen has always tried to find the humor in every situation and continues to enjoy writing about Shelby’s adventures. “I love getting Shelby into trouble… I just don’t always know how to get her out of it!” Colleen lives in the Rocky Mountains with her family. Besides writing, she loves a good book, biking, hiking, and playing board and card games with family and friends. She loves to connect with readers and admits that fans of the series keep her writing.

 

Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Songbird-Colleen-Helme-ebook/dp/B00ZYVF3YI/ref=tmm_kin_title_0&tag=collhelm
Website: http://colleenhelme.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColleenHelmeAuthor
Author Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Colleen-Helme/e/B004JP9RWO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Review: The Earl of Brass by Kara Jorgensen

51h1A-1fCbL._UY250_Steam punk is one of those genres, I thoroughly enjoy but so rarely indulge in. I had the pleasure of reading The Earl of Brass recently and absolutely fell in love with the genre all over again. I’m going to try and keep this review concise, because I want to gush about everything all at once. Let me start by saying, I adored the main characters Hadley and Eilian. Two very different characters, who broke the mold on gender sterotypes in a classically rigid time period. Hadley is everything I look for in a female lead, strong indipendent and out to change the world. Hadley is a mechanical genuis who learned about autotomics from her older, when her older brother dies from a disease, she is determined to keep her business afloat, even if it means impersonating a man. The secret feminist in me, gets a little giddy when women in the Victorian era are going against the patriarchy. And Hadley definitely fights the good fight.

While Eilian, is not classically masculine, he is the right mix of intelligent, insightful and with perhaps a dash of awkward, but that might be my imagination since that’s my weakness. He has a serious case of wander lust, and rejects the antiquated notions of earldom, which he is destined to inherit. After a derigible accident (which is tragic but also awesome, come on a derigible crash!) he loses his arms from the burns. In comes Hadley. She and her brother make prostethesis and after a humiliating dinner party, Eilian agrees to be the guinea pig for a new experimental prostetic arm, which will move and function like a real arm, but made of metal (this is freaking amazing, I cannot tell you how much I fangirled over this one concept).

I have to talk about the arm, because I can tell Jorgenson spent a lot of time researhcing biology and mechanics. But if any of you are a fan of the Manga/Anime Full Metal Alchemist, you’ll remember Edward Elrich had a metal arm, and Eilian’s puts it to shame. It was a forgone conclusion from there that I was going to love this book after that.

 

I wont spoil what happens from there, but lets say there’s a bit of gender bending, some interesting philosophical questions posed, bad guys with guns and the pressures of gentry. This is an absolute must read! But if you still need convincing here’s some of the book details:

 

Summary:

When Eilian Sorrell, a promising archaeologist and the eldest son of the Earl of Dorset, loses his arm in a dirigible crash, he fears he will face a bleak future among London’s aristocracy. On a quest for normalcy, Lord Sorrell commissions a prosthetic arm but finds the craftsman is not what he seems.
After the death of her brother, Hadley Fenice takes over his prosthesis business but knows it will be an uphill battle as women are discouraged from doing man’s work. In return for building Lord Sorrell an automaton arm, he offers her a chance at freedom by following him to the Negev Desert under the guise of a man.
But what lies beneath the desert is more precious than potshards or bones. As they venture deeper, they discover a society where the path of life is not governed by gain but by passion. When imperialistic invaders come in search of a new colony to pillage, Eilian and Hadley are forced to defend their fleeting glimpse of paradise.

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More about Kara Jorgensen:

 

Kara Jorgensen is an author and professional student from New Jersey who will probably die slumped over a Victorian novel. An anachronistic oddball from birth, she has always had an obsession with the Victorian era, especially the 1890s. Midway through a dissection in a college anatomy class, Kara realized her true passion was writing and decided to marry her love of literature and science through science fiction or, more specifically, steampunk. When she is not writing, she is watching period dramas, going to museums, or babying her beloved dogs.

 

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Princess Teaser

Princess - Ebook - PNGPrincess is the second novella I’ve written in the world of Diviner’s. I found while I was writing the Diviner’s Trilogy I was drawn to the tragic story of Princess Edalene. Born a product of rape and half Neaux, she never fit in at court. I could not stop wondering, who is she? What would her story be and so PRINCESS came to life. Here is an excerpt from the book. Enjoy!

 

Princess Excerpt

Celia knocked on my door for what felt like an eternity.
“Edalene, what’s wrong? Talk to me,” she said in a coaxing tone.
In that moment, I hated her too. She’s just like the rest of them. She only pretends to care because she’s supposed to, because that is her job. They chose Celia because like me, she was half-Neaux. I knew that from the moment she arrived, but it was easy to forget that she was appointed to be my companion. In that moment I felt the separation like a canyon gaping between us. Celia would agree to an arranged marriage if it advanced her station. Her father was some well-to-do spice merchant. Her mother was a daughter of a lesser branch of House Sixton. She was considered a lady but only just barely. Her family had money but no station. That was why they had agreed to let her be my lady-in-waiting in the hopes she would find a good match. Most girls dream of a wealthy suitor. Goddess knows I’ve heard them babble on about it enough times through the walls.
After a while, Celia gave up on her knocking and went away. I rolled over, feeling miserable. She probably went to tell Aunt Idella. If she has not heard about the council meeting already, she’ll bring her here, and Aunt Idella will scold me. I sighed and rolled back onto my back. I stared at the canopy over my head. The plush velvet curtains met in the center of the canopy where a button tied them together. I could hear the crash of waves muted and distant just outside my window. There was no secret passageway from my room, unfortunately, but I desperately wanted to get out of the palace. I would escape and never look back if it were my choice. I balled the fabric of my coverlet in my hand hard enough to rip. I don’t get a choice. Princesses don’t have that luxury.
I got up, padded over to the door, and pressed my ear up against it, listening. There was no sound on the other side. Celia was indeed gone. That was her mistake. I slid out of my chamber and down the hall to the sitting room. I glanced over my shoulder a few times, checking for Celia, but she was nowhere to be seen. She had gone to get Aunt Idella as I suspected. I squeezed through the crawl space for the second time that day. My gown ripped in my haste, but I did not stop to examine it. I did not care if I tore a hundred gowns if I could snatch one moment of freedom. This time instead of turning right, I went left. This was a longer stretch of tunnel with much less of interest in it. It sloped upward for a while, and the ceiling was so low I had to crouch down to get through. It was brighter here as well, stones had fallen away from the outer wall, and I could hear the ocean thundering. A gull cried, singing a sad lament as it reeled through the sky. At the end of the tunnel there was a gap where the stone had tumbled away.
It opened up on a ledge that overlooked the sea. When I crawled out and onto it, the wind tore at my dress and tangled in my hair. The scent of the sea and the feel of the wind helped to cool my temper. Up above I heard guards walking along the walls, calling out to one another as they passed by on their rounds. I scooted along, careful not to look down. A pebble broke free and clattered downward, the sound swallowed up by the roar of the ocean below.
It ended at a narrow stretch of sandstone. From there was a sloping hill that led up to the palace gardens. I climbed up the hill, clinging to scraggly grass, the ground shifting beneath my feet. I slipped and skidded backwards. My heart leapt into my throat. I clutched at the roots of a large tuft of grass, one foot wedged into a boulder. I knew it was not wise to do so, but I looked over my shoulder. The ocean swirled beneath me, and my head spun for a moment looking down at the drop. One wrong move and I would fall to my death, a sad crumpled doll smashed among the rocks. I looked away and resumed my climb. The hill crested at the edge of the forest. I slipped through a hedge and out into the maze. I could hear a fountain burbling nearby. Dusk had begun to fall; the garden was washed in pinkish light. Except for the sound of the ocean, everything was hushed. I navigated the maze quickly. I had learned it by heart at a young age; my brother taught me the trick to it. There was a pattern to the turns: two lefts, one right, one left and three rights. Coming through here always made me think of him. He would never have forced me to marry, I know it.
At the end of the maze, I shed my slippers and wriggled my feet in the grass. And oh, it felt so good to feel the earth beneath my feet and the sky gray above, streaked with pink and purple as the sun set. I took off at a run. They were bound to discover me missing at any moment, and I wanted to indulge in every moment of my freedom. The grass ended, and my feet slapped against the sandstone that skirted the overlook facing the ocean. I came to an abrupt stop at the cliff edge. The wind howled, pulling at my gown and drawing me closer.
I let the wind breathe through me. I held up my arms as if I could take flight like a gull. I am going to tell King Layton I refuse to marry anyone he chooses for me. I will remain an old maid if that’s what it takes. There has to be someone else who can give birth to his heir. I will not let them dictate how my life is to be lived.
“I am not anyone’s tool!” I shouted to the wind.
The crash of the waves and the hollowing of the wind swallowed up my words. It felt good to speak my mind, to have my voice heard even if it was only by the wind. Night had fallen at last, and the wind brushed against my skin like icy daggers and my feet were starting to turn numb. I should head back. I turned to leave when I spotted someone standing at the edge of the clearing. I froze, realizing I had been caught. They stood in the shadows near the entrance to the maze entrance. They were petite and thin.
“My little bird in a little cage sings, sings, sings.”
I knew that voice. Just the sound of it brought me crashing back to earth.
“Momma, what are you doing out here?” I hated how small and vulnerable I sounded.
“The ocean calls to me, come, come, darling. It’s time to dance down below,” my mother said in a singsong voice.
For a moment when she said her little bird, I thought she was talking about me. But she never knew I existed other than as a nightmare creature to remind her of what had been done to her. You don’t know me, I am not your daughter, and I should stop considering you as my mother. You only gave birth to me. I was a parasite that grew in your womb and slithered out, leaving you an empty shell.
“How did you get out?” I asked instead. It was dangerous for her out here. She could easily slip and fall over the cliff. Who let her out? Her garden should have been locked, and someone should have been watching her. Even when I tried to distance myself from her, I could not stop caring.
“The starfish king wanted me to dance with him, but I told him no, no, no, but then…” Her eyes were wide and fearful. “I told him no, I screamed and he said, ‘Hush, hush, this will only hurt a bit.’”
I swallowed hard. She was having one of her fits again. “Momma, come to me. We need to go back inside.” I held out my hand to coax her to me. It never worked, but I kept on trying no matter how many times she spit in my face, clawed at me or called me a demon.
“No, no, they broke me. I am a hundred different pieces as sharp as daggers. Do not touch!” She rocked back and forth for a moment.
I took a hesitant step towards her, and her head shot up. Her gaze fixed on me. “You!” She pointed at me.
I expected her to attack me as she had done in the past. I braced for it and closed my eyes.
“The dark one has chosen you, but you will be the mother of kings!” she said.
My eyes flew open as I looked at her. Her expression was one I had never seen before. It was focused. Her eyes were boring into me.
“Momma?” I asked.
“You are the one who binds nations yet to be born, but without sacrifice there is no future.”
She looked away from me and to the cliff. I saw her line of sight, and though I stood between her and the cliff, I hesitated, not certain she would do what I thought she meant to do. She ran past me towards the edge. I lunged forward to grab her hand. I brushed against her skin as she slid past me, slippery as an eel.
I ran after her. Despite her haggard appearance, she was quick. My feet slammed on the ground in my haste to try to capture her. My hands reached for her. The cliff loomed large before her, the sky an endless black tunnel behind her. The first few stars twinkled in the twilight like distant candles. My mother had always seemed small and fragile. She had tiny bird bones and dark hair in a wild tangle that was turning grayer all the time. Her cheeks were sunken in and her arms frail. She stopped at the edge, her heels pressed against the precipice. “I have to fly, child of mine, or you will never be free.”
I hesitated. She had never called me that, never acknowledged the fact that she was my mother. As she looked at me, for a moment I saw past her madness. I saw the hints of the beautiful woman she had been, the curve of her lips and the high regal cheekbones. I saw the woman who would have been a mother to me had life been different, if the goddess had been fair. The moment was over in a blink. She smiled a wild crazed smile from behind cracked lips. I took a few steps forward, hand outstretched. If I could only move my legs faster, I could grab onto her wrist. She opened her arms wide, a cruel parody of what I had done before, as if she could take flight. And then she fell over the edge, her hair flying around her like black and gray wings in the wind.
I screamed some inarticulate sound as if my words could reach out and cradle her, hold her back and keep her from going over. I reached the edge seconds too late, my hand closing in on emptiness. Nothing I could do could save her. She fell out of sight. I looked over the edge of the cliff and saw her body tumbled on the ground at the base of the cliff. Her salt-and-pepper hair splayed out on the ground, her body bent at odd angles and blood, blood, blood.
My mother is dead.
For a moment shock was greater than reason. I stared at her body broken on the ground at the base of the cliff, the water lapping over her body, making pink rivulets of the dark blood.
My mother is dead.
I turned and walked back to the palace. My mother is dead. It had turned into a sick chant inside my head. I placed one foot in front of the other. The world had lost color. I couldn’t smell the jasmine bushes. I couldn’t feel the bite of the wind or the tingling of my feet on the grass.
I found a palace guard who was making his rounds about the palace. He stopped me and said something I could not process.
“My mother jumped over the cliff,” I said. My own voice sounded empty and hollow. Shouldn’t I be crying? Shouldn’t I be screaming? The woman who brought me into this world is dead.
“Where? How did this happen?” he asked.
I pointed in the direction I had come. “By the exit to the garden maze,” I said.
The palace guard shouted to another guard, and he ran to find help. Someone grabbed me by the shoulders, shaking me and asking questions. I was too numb to respond. I remember shouting, a blur of movement and nothing else. I came back to myself outside my chamber door. I had wandered away without realizing it. I knocked on the chamber door, and Celia answered with a frown. I never came through the front door when I snuck out. I just didn’t have the forethought to go back through the tunnel.
“Edalene, where have you…?” Celia’s frown transformed into a look of concern. She knew me well enough not to ask any questions. “You’re not wearing any shoes. Get inside. I’ll bring you a blanket and something warm to drink.” She put her arm around my shoulder and brought me into the apartment. She led me into my chamber and sat me down on the edge of my bed.
She scurried off to tend to her tasks. I stared at the wall opposite my bed. I watched my mother fall over and over in an endless loop. I should have stopped her. Why did I not move faster? Celia returned with a cup of spice wine. She handed it to me, and I held it without drinking. She hovered over me, biting her lip. She wanted to ask me what happened, I knew, but I was not ready to talk.
After a few moments she cracked. “Edalene, you’re scaring me. What is wrong?” Celia was peering at me, her dark brows pulled together.
“I killed my mother,” I said. It was not today, but the moment she became pregnant with me, she had been marked for death. My mother was raped by a Neaux man and conceived me. The rape and my birth broke her. I had not pushed her off that cliff, but I might as well have.

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Win a Paperback Copy of the Diviner’s Trilogy

To celebrate the release of the Diviner’s Trilogy Bundle, I am giving away a ton of paperbacks. There’s four different winners. Each with a different prize, the grand prize is a copy of the Complete Diviner’s Trilogy in paperback plus copies of Duchess and Princess in paperback.

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Good Luck!

Featured Writer of February

This week, I am omitting the usual weekly feature in favor of a new month long spot highlighting some great Author’s on Wattpad. My first feature is one of my Wattpad BFFs but that is not the reason she won this feature. My choice for the month of February has consistently produced amazing stories that I fall in love with over and over again no matter what the story line! And what better writer to showcase  in the month of love than the goddess of romance:

W.O. Nelson

Her works will be featured on the side bar and you can read a review of her story ‘Catch Curse and Release‘ that I feature previously!

Check out her stories, what are you waiting for?

Bad CompanyBad Influence (Sequel to Bad Company)I Only Date SuperheroesCatch, Curse, Release

Wattpad Wednesday #5

Today’s post is a bit different than my usual features, while still in the ‘fantasy’ genre we’re going to take a trip into a Young Adult fantasy that has recently completed and is one of my all time favorites on Wattpad. This week’s feature is:

Horizon Falls 

By NightRose154

Horizon Falls

 

From the Author’s Summary: 

Avery is just a normal sixteen-year-old girl who spends her summers hanging out with her best friend Dan, attending parties, and wandering through the grey city streets. That is, until her family suffers a vicious and deadly attack that she can’t even remember happening, and she doesn’t understand how she escaped unscathed. She is then forced to live with her grandmother in a beautiful, seemingly perfect village in the middle of the English countryside. But things aren’t what they seem… and she’s drawn into another life by the sexy, but mysterious village kids. Does she except her new life, or fight to uncover the truth, so she can return to her old life?

My thoughts:

This story had a perfect blending of action and mystery. Avery is relatable as the heroine and NightRose154 did a perfect job of getting inside her thoughts and feelings. What I love most about this story was the uncommon blending of so many different fantasy elements. From vampires to angels, Werewovles to fairies and just heaps of sexual appeal from James, Avery’s love interest and just great plot development. It just completed recently and I knew once I finished it would be this weeks feature.

 

 

Wattpad Wednesday #4

As I review my favorites on Wattpad I often times find myself with a difficult choice. I have quite a few authors that I enjoy everything they write and yet I don’t want to just bombard everyone with a billion stories from one author. So here I sit staring at my favorites list on Wattpad making the difficult choice. And in the end I went with a story I have been literally addicted to for the past week or so. Today’s feature is:

Catch, Curse, Release

By wonelson

Love Bites

Author’s Summary:  Lori Mayer is a failing law student whose latest boyfriend just ran off with her study partner (she was really going to miss Karl, he took the best notes). However bleak everything seems now, Lori soon discovers that life and love can get a whole lot crazier when a psychotic love god named Des sends her back in time to meet her true love; A time and place where immortal warriors run rampant and her iPad is about as useful as a frisbee. Can Lori resist her attraction to Eric, the ridiculously tasty leader of the immortals, and return to her own time? Not if Des has anything to do with it. He may be cursed to help mortal women find their true loves but it’s his game, and in this game only one thing matters: sealing the deal. Unfortunately for him, Lori has her own rulebook and she isn’t about to give in without a fight. Can a modern-day woman really outplay him at his own love game? Not bloody likely!

My Thoughts:

Never before have I found the combination of comedy and sex appeal that Mrs. Nelson brings to a story. Her characters practically jump off the page, pick you up in their well oiled arms and ride with you off into the sunset. (I may have a slight crush on her heroes).  I enjoy everything she writes but after devouring some 10 chapters over the course of a couple days and one very steamy scene, this story won this round. Her plots are clever and never cliched and her heroes… well just read and you’ll see what I mean.

Wattpad Wednesdays #2

Wattpad Wednesday #2:

Shadowfall

I love a good epic fantasy, and anyone who knows me—or is familiar with my writing—knows I adore romantic fantasy, more specifically, Historical Romantic Fantasy (try saying that five times fast!) This weeks feature is the perfect combination of my favorites in fantasy.

Shadowfall

By Onepieceoftherainbow

439765-256-256186

From the Author’s Summary:

Leia Illyria, Duchess of Amareth, and her family have kept away from court since she was little, for reasons she doesn’t fully understand – in Myaengaer, where magic has been banned for two hundred years, Leia possesses extraordinary power. When a mysterious and evil threat that has lain dormant for two centuries begins to rise again, Leia learns a secret which forces her to confront her hidden self, with the help of Prince Caleth, heir to the throne of Myaengaer and leader of the Myaen Guard. Working together, they must face down the evil that threatens to destroy the kingdom, the land and their lives.

My thoughts:

I have been following this story for a long time and it continues to keep me on my toes! I adore Onepieceoftherainbows mystical style of writing and the way she describes a scene just draws me into the action and I can imagine the action unfolding before me as if it is happening. The story is set in a pseudo European country where magic is outlawed, when evil threatens the land it’s left up to Leia and Prince Caleth to find the answers, and master her powers, in time to save the kingdom. It’s an exciting epic fantasy with a dash of romance and you should run out and read it right this moment!