Free Ebook

In August, I got the brilliant idea to write a short story. I’d heard of other indie authors giving away short stories for free in exchange for newsletter signups. With a new book scheduled to be published next year, I thought this short story could be a good promotional tool. I pitched the idea to my new publisher and they loved it. They even offered to help promote the story through their website. So I got to work.

My first story idea turned out to be a dud. Thankfully, my trusty writing buddy and best friend (my big sister), was there to save the day. She gave me an idea and I ran with it, thinking if it stuck, it stuck. If not, I’d go back to the drawing board. Well, it stuck, all right. It stuck a little too well. My “short story” turned into a novelette. During the editing phases, I thought I could shorten it but the plot’s pacing was perfect. To take anything away would cheapen the quality of the overall story. So I left it as is and submitted it to my publisher, hoping the length wouldn’t be an issue.

Unfortunately, the length was an issue. My publisher still thought it was a good idea and encouraged me to promote the story on my end. I was disappointed I wouldn’t get their help after all (I’m not the greatest at book promotion) but I wasn’t about to let my hard work go to waste. I created a cover for my novelette, and formatted its content so that it mimicked one of my professionally published ebooks. Then I found a website that could  convert my PDF file into an EPUB and a MOBI file. Now I have myself a professional-looking ebook.

Now, it’s time to promote. The real hard work begins.

Here’s the blurb:

Elvira Marques has only ever had one goal: to start her own business outside the palace walls. But leaving the servitude of the crown is not something a Marques does. Her family would like her to marry one of the other servants and remain Princess Kylee’s maid forever. Her big brother is constantly reminding Elvira of how good they have it, how great their loud, uncomfortably close family is, how hard it is to make it in the royal city by oneself.

Despite it all, Elvira has remained determined to make her dream a reality. When she falls in love with Ulfric Mistsinger, the gardener’s grandson and another palace lifer, Elvira finds herself having to choose between her heart and her dream. Then Princess Kylee comes to her, asking for a dangerous favor. In exchange, the princess is willing to do something for Elvira. Something that could potentially solve her heart versus dream dilemma.

To get caught while on this secret errand for the princess would mean getting fired. At the least. If the queen finds this offense worthy of banishment, however, Elvira could lose it all. Still, the potential rewards outweigh the risk…right?

This is meant to be a prequel of sorts to The Andromeda’s Ghost, which is a science fiction/fantasy type story. Even if science fiction isn’t your cup of tea, I encourage you to give this novelette a try. It’s really more of a fantasy set on a different planet. If it turns out you like this novelette, you might like The Andromeda Chronicles too, since they’re written similarly.

Whether or not you’re already receiving my newsletter: send me a message through Facebook with your preferred file format (EPUB, MOBI, or PDF) and your email, and I’ll send over your free novelette.

Hope you like it!

Coming up

Stay With Me Banner (1)

The editing phase of I Dare You to Stay With Me is done. And now so is the cover! I’m just waiting to get the final images from my cover designer before I do a big social media reveal. I hired Cora Graphics for this job because Cora’s the artist responsible for Asta and the Barbarian‘s cover, which came out looking amazing. She didn’t disappoint this time around either. I’m so glad I was able to work with her again!

Once I have the cover, it’s only a matter of plugging it into Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing’s template and printing a proof for myself. And, as soon as I’ve looked over that, it’ll be publishing time! Thanks to all of you for your patience. I know I said I was going to publish this book this month but it looks like I’ll be publishing it at the beginning of April. So sorry to have to push things back but I want it too look and feel perfect for you guys.

I’ll be doing a promotion the week of publication, making the I Dare You to Love Me ebook free and the I Dare You to Stay With Me ebook only 99 cents. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter to find out the details!

 

The Andromeda's Ghost banner

BHC Press is interested in publishing The Andromeda’s Ghost! I have a phone call scheduled with them this Saturday to talk about my plans of the trilogy and any other questions I might have about the company. From what I’ve read on their website, I’m liking what they have to offer. I feel like my fan base for this trilogy is smaller when compared to the amount of people interested in my other books. The fact that BHC Press has working relationships with reputable publications like Publishers Weekly gives me hope that I’ll have help building up that fan base. That and their shared-cost option (in exchange for a higher royalty rate) is very appealing to me.

So, unless I find out something unspeakably nonnegotiable about them on Saturday, I plan on signing with them. I’ve been pitching and querying The Andromeda’s Ghost for over a year. I’m so ready for my first science fiction/fantasy trilogy to have a home. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself now. More details to come!

 

AstaandtheBarbariansFACEBOOK

Asta and the Barbarians will be on sale for 99 cents April 8th through the 12th! If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, that would be the perfect time!

2019 Goals

I don’t do New Years resolutions because I never keep them, but here are several things I’d like to get done in 2019:

  • Self-publish I Dare You to Stay With Me. Inkitt has made some changes to their publishing policies that I didn’t agree with so they’re giving me my rights back for the sequel to I Dare You to Love Me. I’m just waiting on that reversion of rights contract to be emailed to me so I can sign it and get this self-publishing process going! I’ll give you all updates as things change.
  • Finish writing The Andromeda Trilogy. (And come up with a cooler name for this sci-fi fantasy series…I’m open to suggestions!) The first book took me over a year to write, the second one took me all of six months to write, but I’m only about a third of the way through the last one even though it’s been five months since I started it. Grant it, I haven’t been writing as often as I used to because of work, holidays, and other family stuff. But still! The words are coming slowly, much to my frustration. I’d like to have at least the first draft completed before my baby is born in June. That way I’ll only have minor edits and revisions to make before it’s ready to be shown to the world.
  • Get The Andromeda’s Ghost published. I’ve participated in Pitch Madness and will be involved in SFFpit, (a similar Twitter pitch party for science fiction and fantasy manuscripts only) later in the month. I blame my terrible pitch-writing skills for the small number of requests I’ve gotten. This book is special! I know it! I’ll keep trying until this series finds a home. It’s been on ice for far too long.
  • Finish writing Death’s Curses. This is technically my first and only attempt at a YA romance story with some magic realism. I want to be sure it’s good enough to compete with my other work. I’m starting to realize that Esmer (one of the main characters) sounds a lot like Jael (from The Andromeda’s Ghost). Which is a big NO-NO! Each character I create is supposed to be unique. I’ll have to work on highlighting the differences between them because, although they share a similar sense of humor and both have tragic pasts, they have different goals, temperaments, and coping mechanisms. And they’re both great! It might help to finish The Andromeda Trilogy, make Jael and Taren’s arc solid and complete, before I attempt to wrap up Esmer and Charlie’s story…
  • Read more! I’ve gotten into a terrible habit of binge watching old TV shows instead of reading. I have a TBR list but I haven’t been motivated to check those books out at a library. I’ve just been waiting for Marissa Meyer and Brandon Sanderson to come out with the last books in their series, which is going to take forever of course. It’s not cool. I used to consume a book a week and I miss it! I just have to grit my teeth, pick a book, and dive on in. And ignore my wariness when it comes to new authors. Is there a possibility of disappointment or a bad fit? Sure. But that’s why we go to the library first and only buy the books we like. I have to take advantage of my time now, before I have a baby to take care of 24/7.
  • Promote more. After exploring numerous free book promotion options and seeing little to no results last year, I got really discouraged. I knew giving up wasn’t the answer but I couldn’t bring myself to keep trying things I knew wouldn’t help. So I told myself I was “taking a break” and would get back to book promotion later. Well, as you can probably imagine, “later” never came. Here I am, at the start of 2019, and my book sale numbers are only getting worse. It’s time to invest more than just time and energy into my books. If I’m truly serious about my writing career, I have to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve looked into some book promoting services that actually require me to pay something. (Thanks, Tirgearr Publishing, for providing a list of some sites that you’ve found to be the most helpful! It’s a great place to start.) My husband is on board with it. I just have to budget it in to our monthly expenses and try a few of these new avenues.
  • Get ready to be a mommy. I volunteered at my church’s nursery for almost three years before I got engaged. I was a nanny for several months. I’ve baby sat before. I have nephews. I know how to keep an infant or a toddler alive and entertained for up to four hours. But I’ve never had to take care of a newborn by myself. I don’t know everything there is to know about them. I have to do my research. Find a birthing class or a Lamaze class. Maybe both. And yet I’ve been dragging my feet on that. I want to blame my husband, whose attitude concerning the unknown has always been, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” but that’s cheating. I’ve always been the planner. It isn’t like me to put off preparing for something. They say a new mom can do all the research they want and still come up empty when they have their first kid because there’s just too much that can’t be accounted for. That’s more than likely the reason why I haven’t gotten started: there’s too much information to absorb. It’s overwhelming. But it’s still a good idea to be as informed as possible before baby comes…Again, I just have to grit my teeth and get started somewhere.

Laying it all out like that, it sounds like a lot! 2019 is going to be another busy year. Who knew? To those of you who do goals or resolutions: best of luck! To those of you who don’t, rock on!

What’s New?

Happy fall, ya’ll!

While I’m waiting for Inkitt’s editors to be available to look over I Dare You to Stay With Me and get it ready for publication, I’m still writing. I don’t think many people know this but I’ve never been able to stick to one writing project at a time. I usually jump back and forth between two manuscripts, and end up finishing both at around the same time. (The Andromeda’s Ghost has so far been the only exception; that one took me forever to write!) Anyhoo, these are the two books I’m working on now.

The Andromeda's Crew banner.jpg

The third and final installation of what I’m temporarily calling The Andromeda Trilogy is entitled The Andromeda’s Crew. Taren’s come a long way since he crash landed on the desolate planet of Cartiss. It’s been a fun ride. Not necessarily for him, but for me! This was my first attempt at the scifi/fantasy genre and I found it very refreshing. I’m still not sure if I’m “doing it right” but I’m coming to realize that my books don’t need to fall perfectly into a category in order for them to be entertaining or make an impact. Taren’s had to run for his life, fight for the people he cares about, think his way through obstacles, and grieve, things I think anyone can relate to.

The blurb and the first eleven chapters are up on my Inkitt profile page in case anyone’s interested in taking a peek. I’m trying to open myself up to more constructive criticism during my creative process so I’ll be updating the story as often as I can. Be sure to leave comments if you find any grammatical errors or things that need to be explained further. This will be super helpful. Thanks in advance for your time!

Death's Curses

Death’s Curses is a young adult magic realism manuscript my sister and I worked on together back in my high school days. It’s about a pair of twins who were cursed by Death (personified as a woman). Jasmine and Charles sense the deaths of strangers within a certain radius. They live with their uncle, a homicide detective, and help him solve murders. They’ve tried to keep a low profile and simply live with this curse, until Esmeralda moves into town. She has scars of her own, but has a thing or two to teach these twins about living.

This is another genre I have very little experience in. It was slow going but interesting to watch this story unfold the first time. I’m curious to see how the story changes. My sister and I are communicating via email to get this new draft ready for publication. I have the blurb and the first twenty or so chapters up on my Inkitt profile page. Come check it out!

Things, they be a’happening. Stay tuned!

The Andromeda’s Ghost update

Hey all!

I’ve been super busy with my science fiction manuscript but it’s finally finished and ready to be viewed. I queried a few agents to see if I would get any bites but, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I’m kind of bummed that this is my fourth manuscript and I still haven’t been able to land an agent or a big house publishing deal. But I don’t stay bummed for long. It’s onward and forward! I believe in this story. I love the characters and I know others will too. I’m excited to show my manuscript to the world!

I’ve decided to submit this story to Inkitt. For those of you unfamiliar with Inkitt, it’s a publishing company that offers publishing deals based on a book’s popularity. Undiscovered authors can post their finished manuscripts on Inkitt’s website. The more people read their books and vote on them, the higher their chances of getting offered a publishing deal. This is how I Dare You to Love Me was published. Although the process takes time and effort, the results speak for themselves. Out of my three published books, I Dare You to Love Me has done the best review-wise and sales-wise. I believe this was due to Inkitt’s emphasis on reader engagement and voting. They helped establish a fan-base before the book was put on the market.

Now it’s time to develop a fan-base for The Andromeda’s Ghost, and see if it has what it takes to do well as a published book. I need your honest-to-goodness opinions and your help getting the word out! I’ve had two beta readers go through it and I’ve edited it three times myself. The best possible version of this manuscript is available to read for free on Inkitt’s website. If you’re a fan of science fiction, romance, adventure, and survival-like stories with a broken but loveable cast of characters, click on the link below. Once you’re finished reading, leave a short review to tell me what needs improving. Constructive criticism is very helpful to my story crafting process and can only help the manuscript succeed! If science fiction isn’t your cup of tea but you have a friend who loves the genre, tell them about it.

If I could get this book published by sheer force of will, believe me, I would. I hate asking other people for help, especially people who have already done me huge favors by purchasing my other books and supporting my dreams. But I know my limits. I know I can’t do this by myself. And so I leave the fate my little manuscript in your hands.

I hope you guys like it!

https://www.inkitt.com/stories/scifi/229153

Asta is going on tour!

Hello everyone!

Just wanted to let you guys know that Asta and the Barbarians is going on a week-long blog tour starting today. Here is the schedule:

May 21:

1: Andi’s Book Reviews

2: BooksChatter

3: Dark Treasury

4: Jazzy Book Reviews

5: It’s Raining Books

6: Let me tell you a story

 

May 22:

1: Christine Young

2: Kit ‘N Kabookle

3: Mythical Books

4: Long and Short Reviews

5: MIxed Book Bag

6: Natural bri

 

May 23:

1: Emily Carrington

2: Sharing Links and Wisdom

3: Wake Up Your Wild Side

4: Straight From the Library

5: Readeropolis

6: Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’

 

May 24:

1: Beyond Romance

2: The Avid Reader

3: Welcome to My World of Dreams

4: Wendi zwaduk – romance to make your heart race

5: White Sky Project

6: Tina Donahue Books – Heat with Heart

 

May 25:

1: FUONLYKNEW

2: Hope. Dreams. Life… Love

3: Queen of All She Reads

4: T’s Stuff

5: books are love

6: Deal Sharing Aunt

 

Pop in any time this week to support these bloggers and show some love for Asta! There’s also going to be a raffle where I’ll be giving away more of my custom made bookmarks, coasters, and magnets. I’ll be stopping by each blog throughout the week so be sure to leave a comment to let me and the host know you’re there. Looking forward to chatting with you all!

A second look at Asta and the Barbarians

We’re a little less than two weeks away from the publication date of my new adult fantasy, Asta and the Barbarians! You’re probably not nearly as stoked as I am but that’s okay. You just need another excerpt to get you interested. *wink wink* Here’s chapter two! Links to preorder will be available at the bottom of the page for anyone who’s interested. Thanks for stopping by!

 


 

Chapter Two

They came for me at dusk. I hadn’t attended the beginners’ classes as I was instructed. I had been warned of the consequences. Now, they were going to deliver. I had cried so much that day. I didn’t have the strength to be afraid. My guards watched the two members of the academy’s security team escort me down the hall. Heads poked out of the rooms. Soon we had a group of followers, students anxious to witness the first whipping of the general’s precious miracle. Down the stairs, out of the building, across the square, to the whipping post we went. They chained my hands to the post and retreated. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the young warriors gather. Some cheered. Some sneered insults my way.

Viggo stood at the front and smirked, arms crossed. And some simply peeked out of their bedroom windows. I recognized the sensible friend of that damned Viggo, watching from a second-story window. He was lean but strong, with a bushel of curly black hair. He leaned forward with his palms against his writing desk and looked down at me, brow furrowed in anxiety.

The director walked into my line of sight, dragging a cat-of-nine-tails behind him. Nails, bits of broken glass, jagged blades, and fish hooks had been attached to the ends of each tail. I stared at the thick splintery post before me and braced myself. There was a crack and then I was struck. The impact sent me to my knees. Countless bites of pain sank into my flesh. I grunted but didn’t cry out. Shutting my eyes, I leaned my forehead against the wood and took a deep breath. Then the director jerked the whip back. The tearing of clothing, skin, and muscle was audible.

The pain was excruciating. I screamed loud enough to sear my throat. Blood poured
down my backside and splashed against my calves. It was not so dissimilar from the blood that ran while the general tortured me. Instead of imagining I was in a different place as I did back then, I allowed the pain to rob me of my will to live. There was a second crack of the whip. Now that my nerves were exposed, the sharp ends sank in and took hold. I couldn’t breathe. The director tugged three times before the whip came free.

I trembled and let out a sob. The shouts and laughter of the spectators were blotted out by my heartbeat, pounding loudly in my sensitive ears. My vision began to fade. The third time those tails bit into my flesh, a sharp piece of something embedded itself at the nape of my neck. When the whip was pulled back, I felt the piece scrape against bone. I leaned heavily against the post, the splinters biting into my face. It didn’t matter. My back…

I’m coming, Mother, Father, Sylvi…

But death didn’t come. The whip didn’t strike a fourth time. The director shouted at the crowd to go back inside. My guards were given permission to unchain me. They carried me to my room and tossed me onto the bed, jarring every bone in my back. I pressed my face into the pillow and screamed.

“Let that be a lesson to you,” one of my guards said over my yells. “The number of lashes will increase if you decide to skip your classes a second time—and don’t think we’ve forgotten to tell the director about your death wish. He has half of the security team watching this building, your window especially.”

The door slammed shut and I was left to bleed alone.

“Father,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

My father seethed. “Sorry? The groundskeeper caught you in the cemetery with the stable boy, and you’re sorry?”

I rolled my eyes. “It was just a dare. Nothing happened.”

“You know it hasn’t been easy to arrange a suitable marriage for you,” my father growled as he paced the length of his study. “And now that I’ve finally found an honorable man who is willing to take you…” He rounded on me, dark eyes narrowed. “Do you think Kustaav will still want you after this story gets out?”

I leapt from the chair. “I don’t care if Kustaav still wants me! I’m not property to be signed and shaken hands over. I should have an opinion as to who I spend the rest of my life with.”

My father rose to his full height. “Your mother was married to me on her father’s command. Your friend Irma was married to that blacksmith one town over. Your sister is to be married to Torsten in three weeks. Every woman in this county marries who their fathers choose. What is so special about you that you alone are allowed an opinion in this matter?”

I opened my mouth to speak, but he continued before I could reply.

“Is it because your foolish father overlooked tradition and allowed you to attend school after the age of sixteen? Is it because your father looked the other way when you secretly began taking fencing lessons? Could it be that, by ignoring your lack of propriety, I made you believe you would be exempt from every rule of society?” My father snorted. “Well, I’m sorry but you are gravely mistaken.”

I clenched my jaw when my world grew misty.

My father ran a hand through his thinning hair and took a deep breath. “I’m going to speak to the stable boy tomorrow. He will no longer be a member of our household staff. He is never to talk to you again and you are never to seek him out.”

“His name is Fiske,” I said. “And he’s my friend.”

“I will smother any rumors that spread because of your thoughtlessness and beg Kustaav to take you,” my father said as if I hadn’t spoken. “You will personally apologize and assure him that you are still a virgin. You two will be married by next spring and you will no longer be my burden.”

I reared back as if I’d been slapped. “Is that all I am to you? A burden?”

The church bells tolled. My innards tightened. My father walked around his desk, eyes dark with worry. He yanked the curtains of the window aside and looked out. The study door burst open to reveal Sylvi and my mother.

“It’s happened, Canute,” my mother said, her voice choked by fear. “Heaven help
us!”

My father ambled toward them. “You know the plan. Pack only the essentials and head for the capitol.” My mother and sister made way for him to pass. He fetched the crossbow from its hooks on the wall and turned to give us a grim look. “Ride hard.”

Mother threw her arms around him. “Take care of yourself!”

“I will. I love you, Aulin.” He gave Sylvi a kiss on the forehead. “Be strong and take care of your mother.”

“Yes, Father,” she whimpered.

He turned to me but I refused to meet his gaze. “We will meet again.” Then he was gone.

 

My mother sobbed in the seat across from mine, red-brown curls bouncing over her shoulder slightly with every hiccup. Sylvi patted her back and murmured that Father would be all right. I leaned against the carriage’s small window, hoping to catch a glimpse of our home. I could hear the screams of panic as we thundered down the street. Our coachmen shouted at the horses. My town…I wanted to look away, but all I could do was gawk. Kenshore was being pillaged and burned. My people fled, taking only what they could carry with them. Some galloped beside us on horses. Some clutched their children to their chests and ran. And still the barbarian raiders gained on them.

The men of our town had been training since word of the crusade reached us five years ago. Traps had been set, weapons had been distributed, plans had been made. How were these foreign warriors already running rampant through our streets? Could it be that the rumors of their invincibility were true? Buildings burned. Swords sliced the air. Men were slaughtered in the streets. Women were dragged by their hair behind houses and into dark corners. Children were cut down where they stood without hesitation. I slapped a hand over my mouth to keep from vomiting.

Something struck the side of our carriage. The door I leaned against was thrown open and I was ejected into the horde of people with a shout. 

 

Men with eyes that glowed like liquid copper surrounded me when I woke. Men dressed in strange, form-fitting armor and carrying all manner of sharp weapons. I scrambled to my feet, tripping on the frayed trim of my dress and hastily brushing the hair out of my face. Their looks of hunger and vicious glee were replaced by shock and surprise.

“Gosta,” one murmured to his neighbor. “Look at her eyes.”

“You can still have her, Gosta,” another jeered. “The general need not know.”

My heart hammered painfully against my ribs. Were brown eyes special on their island? Could my eyes somehow save me?

The one called Gosta grimaced in disappointment. “The general always knows. Grab her.”

“It’s called medicine,” said a sarcastic voice from the other side of my door. “It will help dull the pain. It might even help her heal faster. I’m sure my father wants her in class as soon as possible. How do you think he’ll react when he hears you turned me away?”

“She’ll heal quickly enough,” one of my guards grunted. “She doesn’t need your medicine.”

“And if she has broken bones? If there has been lasting damage done to her spine? If an infection has spread? We’re impervious to most illnesses, but we aren’t completely immune. A physician has never set foot on the academy grounds. My father isn’t going to call one now, not even for Dotharr’s Miracle. I’ve helped numerous other warriors-in-training who have faced the whipping post. I’m the closest thing to a doctor she’s ever going to see.”

There was a moment of silence while the guards deliberated.

“The director already gave us permission,” another voice muttered.

The door opened.

I bolted upright in bed only to crumple back against the bloody sheets with a cry of agony.

Viggo and his sensible friend entered the room. I didn’t have the energy to be surprised, much less speak.

“I was handling it,” the young man whose name I didn’t know said under his breath.

“You were taking too long,” Viggo retorted.

I writhed in pain for a moment and curled up in a ball. “Go away.”

“As you wish,” Viggo said, stepping back.

His friend gave him a look of disapproval before smiling at me. “My name is Bryn. I’m an aspiring doctor, despite my glowing eyes. I can help you if you let me.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I sobbed. “I just want to die.”

Viggo rolled his eyes, but received an elbow to the gut before he could comment.

“Nobody is dying,” Bryn said. “At least not today.”

“It reeks in here,” Viggo grumbled. He stalked over to the window and yanked it open.

Bryn sat beside me on the bed and opened his satchel. “If it bothers you so much, why don’t you track down someone from Housekeeping and request some fresh bed sheets?”

“I’m not your errand boy!” Viggo snapped.

Bryn produced a rag, then continued rummaging through his bag. “Or you can stay here and breathe in the lovely smell of blood and oozing wounds. Do what you wish.”

Viggo simmered while Bryn selected a bottle and set his satchel aside. The aspiring doctor poured green liquid from the bottle over the rag before turning to me. “I need you to turn onto your stomach if you’re able.”

“It hurts to move,” I said with a sniffle.

Viggo threw his hands in the air and marched out of the room, grumbling under his breath.

“I’ll do what I can from this angle then,” Bryn said, then gently pressed the damp rag into my shoulder.

I bit my lips but still let out a whimper.

“I’m sorry. This will sting initially, but it will kick in after a few minutes.”

I shut my eyes and let the darkness take me.

 

I woke to an exasperated grunt. “You think your father will let you become a doctor after all our hard work?”

“All of my hard work, you mean?” It sounded as if Bryn were fighting a smile.

“Yes, of course, your hard work. You could graduate in six months’ time if you did as you were told and dedicated yourself to your courses. Is that not what you want? To be rid of this place?” Viggo asked.

There was no more pain. I opened my eyes to find myself facing the legs of my writing desk. I lay on my stomach on the floor, in nothing but my undergarments. My cheek was pressed against a blanket. Bryn worked somewhere behind me. I could feel the warmth of him against my sensitive back.

“I want the freedom to make my own future.” A substance of some kind crinkled like paper pinched or rubbed between two fingers. Something clinked against glass. Maybe a spoon stirring a liquid mixture in a bottle? “Once the stamp of this academy is added to my record, the only occupation I will ever be considered for is that of a soldier,” Bryn continued. “I can’t be admitted into Ishem’s School of Science until my father expels me.”

“So the past month of training was for nothing?”

“It appears that way, yes.”

Viggo sighed in frustration, but there was sadness in his voice when he spoke. “Why are you so intent on ending our friendship?”

Bryn laughed. “Your friendship I will keep until death, but this isn’t my calling. I know where I truly belong.”

“Blasphemer,” Viggo said, although the insult sounded half-hearted.

“Puritan,” Bryn shot back.

Viggo chuckled, but it was cut off. “What was Dotharr thinking, sending a woman to the general? Warriors are always men.”

Liquid was poured out of something. I could hear the rush of water as it slid through a funnel. Then the squishing of wet fabric and the dripping of excess water. The smell of herbs drifted through the air. “Now who is the blasphemer? Maybe that’s why Dotharr chose her. The best warrior is the one no one expects.”

Viggo scoffed. “She won’t last three days here.”

“I’ll take that bet,” Bryn said. “A day on the grounds and she’s already broken the rules. She has more spirit than you give her credit for.”

“Says the man tending so dutifully to her wounds,” Viggo said. “Having spirit does not mean she’s capable of completing the courses.”

“We’ll see.” A shuffle of movement, a shadow on the floor beside me, drawing
near.

I lifted my head and turned to face him.

“Hello,” he said, perking up in surprise. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m awake.”

“Yes,” he said with a nod. “That’s something. You slept through the night and most of today. Your wounds have sealed. You should be developing scabs by tomorrow evening.”

“Why did you help me?” I asked. “I have nothing to give in return. You must have known that.”

Bryn smiled softly. “A very wise woman once said, ‘A world without kindness is a dark and hopeless place.’ And that isn’t the kind of world I wish to live in.”

My eyes stung with the coming of new tears.

Viggo rolled his eyes and turned to leave. “I’ll see you at dinner, Bryn.”

“Until then,” Bryn said over his shoulder. His glowing eyes fell on my face again. “What’s your name?”

“Asta.”

“I would like to hear your story, if you are willing and able to tell it, Asta.”

I rubbed my face against the blanket. “You won’t like it.”

“We are rarely fond of the truth,” Bryn said with a shrug. “Tell me anyway.”

 

To Preorder:

Amazon: getBook.at/barbarians

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/803680

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/asta-and-the-barbarians 

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/asta-and-the-barbarians/id1359718982?mt=11

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/asta-and-the-barbarians-becca-fox/1128197571

A second look at In the Dark

It’s been one week since my paranormal fantasy novel, In the Dark, was published. The first chapter is available on the book’s page here on my blog and also as a preview on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Nook. So I thought I’d give you guys the chance to read chapter two.

If, after reading, you realize this is the best thing since sliced bread and you simply have to purchase the rest of the book immediately lest you spontaneously combust, there will be links at the end of the post. Thanks for reading!

 


 

Chapter Two

Considering the tornado cellar was a place a family would come to for safety in a catastrophe, there wasn’t anything useful. Avery found a few thin blankets, a rotting wooden table and chair, an old oil lamp, and a few bottles of water.

He cheerfully distributed the water. “Good to know our kidnappers don’t plan to kill us by dehydration.”

Lindsay propped the unconscious woman’s head up with a folded blanket and wrapped her up in another, hoping to make her more comfortable on the earthy floor. The woman stirred a little at being moved but otherwise remained unconscious. After the oil lamp had been lit by Avery’s handy lighter, the hostages emptied out their pockets and piled the contents before the light.

“These guys haven’t come to check up on us,” Bailey muttered, throwing a reproachful look up at the ceiling. “Either they’re too busy to make sure we’re still alive, or they don’t care if we all starve.”

Kyle’s stomach growled when he caught sight of the smashed Baby Ruth bar Bailey had added to their pile of supplies. Avery swore he had a stomachache from all the junk he’d eaten before being captured and Lindsay promised she wasn’t hungry, so Bailey and Kyle shared it.

“All right,” Avery said when the kids finished eating their meager midnight snack.
“Let’s see what we’ve got. Three cell phones—one dead, one broken and one having
no signal whatsoever—fifty bucks and forty-three cents, two pieces of squished gum,
a receipt for the Baby Ruth bar that has already been eaten, a small box of matches,
a pack of cigarettes. . .” He gave Lindsay a sideways smirk. “Now, Jules, really. A nursing student should know better.”

“Those are yours,” Lindsay said with a flat look.

Avery tried to smother a smile that was both adorable and infuriating. “You can’t prove that.”

“I’ve never smoked a day in my life and you know it.” Lindsay batted her brother’s hand away from the switchblade in their midst. “Don’t touch that.”

“But I’ve always wanted one of these.” Kyle sent a worshipful look Avery’s way. “Where’d you get it?”

“Now, that’s just stereotypical, little man. Not all BMX bikers carry switchblades. That could be Bailey’s for all we know.”

“Is everything a joke to you?” Bailey asked, her mouth twisting in annoyance.

“Pretty much.”

“What else do we have?” Lindsay asked, trying to be patient.

“We’ve got a comb and a piece of string, an MP3 player, two empty wallets, a driver’s license, and a note from a secret admirer.” Avery opened up the folded piece of paper. “Bailey, this is so junior high. How old are the people you hang out with?”

Bailey huffed. “Wrong again, biker boy. That MP3 player, the receipt, the comb, and the pieces of gum are the only things that I had in my pockets when I was taken.”

Avery turned to Kyle. “Sandy wants to know if you ‘heart’ her and asks you to circle yes or no.”

Kyle snatched the note and shoved it into his pocket. “I wasn’t going to circle anything. I didn’t even know I still had it.”

“Uh-huh,” Avery said. “Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pooped.”

“How can you think about sleeping at a time like this?” Bailey asked. “We could’ve been snatched by sex traffickers!”

Kyle shuddered and wrapped his arms around his knees.

Avery threw the boy a worried glance before he cleared his throat and summoned a lazy smile. “Believe whatever you want, Bails, but don’t go spreading your fear around. It’ll only make things worse.”

“Everyone else is thinking it,” Bailey said, crossing her arms.

“We don’t know that for sure.” Lindsay scooted closer to her brother and wrapped an arm around him. “They could just be desperate lowlifes looking for a pay
day.”

Kyle was too quick to smile. “Yeah. I’m sure you’re right.”

“Kind of gullible, aren’t you?” Bailey muttered.

The boy flushed.

“Let’s not turn on each other now,” Lindsay said, wrestling with her motherly indignation. What’s this girl’s problem? Why pick on Kyle?

Bailey snatched the MP3 player before crawling away. “Whatever.”

“Well, that was dramatic.” Avery stood. “I’m going to find a quiet corner to sleep. Peace out, homies.”

Lindsay rolled her eyes at him and pulled her brother closer to her side. “I’m sorry you have to be here, munchkin.”

“I’m sorry you have to be here with him,” Kyle said, scowling at Avery’s retreating back.

“I’m an adult, hon. I’m perfectly capable of handling my ex.”

“Does it hurt a lot?” Kyle asked. “Seeing him again?”

“A little.” She fidgeted with a loose string on her frayed jean shorts. “But I expected that. I didn’t expect to. . .miss him, though. Not like this.”

“Did you love him?”

Lindsay watched Avery’s silhouette settle back into the adjacent corner of the room. “I did once.”

“Is that why you came back home? Because it was too painful to stay in Laguna?”

Lindsay sighed. “Yes and no. You deserved to know why I ran away to nursing school so suddenly, why I didn’t visit, why I hardly ever called.”

“It was Dad’s cheating, wasn’t it?”

Lindsay gave him an incredulous look. “You knew?”

Her little brother shrugged, staring intently at the dancing flame. “Not right away. After you left, Mom and Dad started arguing a lot. They stopped whenever I walked into the room, but I listened at the door once and heard everything.”

“I caught him having lunch with the other woman,” Lindsay said. “I saw the way he smiled at her. I knew they weren’t coworkers or friends. I confronted him about it later that day, told him to break it off or I’d tell Mom. He begged me to keep his secret. He wanted me to lie to you guys and I just couldn’t do that.”

Kyle nodded. “I understand.”

Her grip around him tightened momentarily. “You okay?”

He scoffed. “Our parents are going to get divorced. Are you okay?”

“No. . .but I’m glad it’s out in the open. Maybe I’ll be able to stay with you and Mom once this is all over.”

If this is ever over,” Kyle said miserably.

“Hey, don’t say that. Mom and Dad will pay the ransom. We’ll be out of here in no time.”
I hope. 
When she woke up, there was light in the cellar and not just the glow from the lamp.

Two men with masks crouched by the fifth hostage, murmuring to each other as they wrapped a clean bandage around her knee and gave her some medicine. A third man stood directly below the opened trap door in the ceiling, guarding the rope ladder. A fourth man stocked a small cooler with ice not too far away from the corner Avery had retreated to. A fifth man tossed a few rolled up sleeping bags onto the floor and eyed Bailey, who slept in another corner. A sixth man pointed the barrel of a gun at Lindsay’s face.

She went cross-eyed looking at it. Then her gaze slid up to meet the bright blue eyes barely visible through the holes in the mask. The heat of anger spread down the length of Lindsay’s body. The beast within reacted. It wanted to kill this man, to tear him apart with its teeth.

The stranger put a finger to his lips and gestured to the gun.

“We could use some hot food and a couple of pillows,” she said. “A little light would be nice too. I get it; you’re trying to scare us senseless by having us wake up to darkness. You’ve accomplished your goal already. Now let’s be adults.”

“Shut up! This isn’t a hotel service,” the man said with only a hint of an accent. He turned to his lackeys. “Hurry the hell up.”

They rushed to do as they were told.

“Leave some extra bandages and painkillers. I’ll make sure your injured hostage doesn’t get an infection and die before her family pays the ransom,” Lindsay said. “I’m a nurse.”

“Didn’t I tell you to shut up?” He hit her across the face with the butt of his gun.

Her head jerked to the side, her neck popping painfully and her whole face throbbing. She slowly turned to look at him, pulling her lips back to expose her fangs. A growl filled the space between them, low and menacing.

The man stepped back. “Holy shit.”

“Jules?” Avery murmured groggily.

Lindsay reined in her anger and shut her mouth, willing the beast to retreat. It wasn’t easy. She was one day closer to the full moon. Pretty soon, she would have no control over it whatsoever. The thought made her stomach clench in fear. I have to get out of here!

Avery sat up, going from sleepy to nonchalant. “Morning, gents.”

The men pulled out their weapons.

Avery held his hands up. “Whoa, calm down.”

Kyle woke with a start and huddled closer to Lindsay. She gripped his hand, heart skipping in her chest. Everything will be fine. Everything will be fine.

“You just scared us, that’s all,” Avery said.

None of the men in masks said a word. They backed away from their hostages, guns raised. It wasn’t until all the men had climbed up the ladder and had closed the trap door behind them that Bailey started crying. Lindsay hadn’t noticed the teen had awakened until Bailey sucked in a long ragged breath and sobbed.

Lindsay reached up to wipe the fresh blood from her face.

“Lindsay, you’re hurt!” Kyle gasped.

Avery scrambled to his feet and ran to her. “Those bastards!” When he was close enough, he reached out to tentatively touch the cut across her cheekbone. There was nowhere else to look but at his face, not crinkled in amusement, not lazy and indifferent, but open and vulnerable and real. It was like turning back the clock to four months ago, when they were still together, when she believed he’d never do anything to hurt her. Pressure built around her throat. The world blurred around his face and then tears cascaded down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” Avery whispered.

She could almost believe he wasn’t talking about her cheek. From the way he was looking at her, he could’ve been reading her mind and apologizing for breaking her heart. She turned away and hurriedly dabbed at her tears.

Avery let his hand fall back to his side, adopting a hollow expression. Before anyone could say a word, the unconscious hostage sat up and screamed. Avery dashed over to her. Bailey yelped. Kyle jumped with a girlish shriek. Lindsay stumbled to her feet, ignoring the pain that raced up her shin. It wasn’t sharp enough to send her sprawling but it did slow her down.

“Calm down. It’s okay, it’s okay,” Avery said soothingly.

Her face was frantic with pain. “My knee! Oh, God, my knee! Wait a sec…” She looked around, short hair bouncing. “Where’s Dev? Who are you? What’s going on?”

“D-Dev as in Deveron Bo, the actor?” Bailey raced over to join them. “You’re his girlfriend, aren’t you? Cordelia Ridge.”

“Whoa, Cordi Ridge the model? It’s very nice to meet you!” Avery said.

“Yeah, I’m Cordi. Who the hell are you?” She moved her hands as if to grip her knee, but then paused. Her teary eyes widened. “Oh, God, my knee’s killing me.”

“Just take it easy,” Lindsay said, kneeling beside her and holding out placating hands. “We’re not going to hurt you. Kyle, can you get me some ice?”

Her brother raced to the cooler to obey.

“I want you to breathe deeply and listen very carefully to what I’m going to tell you, okay?” Lindsay said.

The grimacing woman nodded and leaned back against the wall, biting her lip.

“My name is Lindsay Whittaker. I’m a nurse. I’m going to take care of you. We’re pretty sure we’re being held for ransom. Thanks, Kyle.” She took the ice cubes and placed them on the thin blanket lying next to Cordelia. “We should be all right if we keep our heads. Once the kidnappers have what they want, they’ll let us go. I’m willing to bet we’ll be home by tomorrow night at the latest.” Lindsay tore out the section of the blanket around the ice cubes and twisted the ends together. “Hold still. This might hurt.”

Cordelia recoiled from the ice. “Are you sure that’ll help?”

“It’ll make the swelling go down. I promise. ” Lindsay applied little pressure but kept the ice over the model’s knee. “Can you remember anything that happened before you were taken?”

Cordelia nodded. “I was with Dev. We had lunch and then he drove me home. Men in masks jumped out of the bushes as soon as he drove away. They. . .They grabbed me.” Tears streamed down her face. “I struggled. A neighbor tried to intervene, but they shot my knee and threw me over their shoulders before he could reach us. They shoved me into the backseat of a van, where a guy was waiting with a syringe. Whatever they gave me knocked me out and. . .well, now I’m here. What kind of monsters would—?” She noticed the kids and made a strange little sound of outrage. “You poor things! What’re you doing here?”

“Paying for our rich parents’ success, apparently,” Bailey said with an odd chuckle.

“But you’re. . .Kelly Dune’s daughter, right? How did you get kidnapped? Don’t you have your own security guards?”

Bailey sighed. “I have a boyfriend. My mom doesn’t know and neither do the guards. I go to Zumba three times a week and sneak away from the guards before the class is over to visit him. I was leaving his house when those guys with masks took me.” She scowled at her fellow hostages, suddenly defensive. “I wouldn’t have had to sneak around if my mom would trust me more.”

“Parents. They think they know what’s best, but just end up choking the life out of you.” Avery must’ve seen the questions on their faces because he adopted a tired smile. “Not a story you would want to hear.”

“Were your parents abusive?” Kyle asked, serious and curious all at once.

“Not unless you consider abandonment abuse.”

Kyle lowered his gaze. “Oh. Sorry. . .”

Avery forced a smile and stood. “Don’t sweat it, little man. It’s not a big deal. I’m going to go see what’s in the ice chest. Anybody want anything?”

Kyle and Bailey jumped at the opportunity to get some food.

“Bring something for me and Cordi, won’t you?” Lindsay asked, gently rubbing her shin.

Kyle nodded and jogged after Bailey.

Cordelia threw Lindsay a quizzical look. “Why do you think he’s here? I mean, if he doesn’t have a rich family. . .”

Lindsay had no answer for her.


 

To prevent spontaneous combustion:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077XYDGKS/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=tirgeapubli09-20&linkId=cb1f31cb67d0f46d8068e258f8860c5c

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B077XYDGKS/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=kemberleeshor-21&linkId=2ddb60b7420ede928c9322fd1d39b5b6

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/764629

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/in-the-dark/id1321654138?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/in-the-dark-94

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-the-dark-daniel-fox/1123728398?ean=2940154642689

My second novel

For all of you who aren’t following me on Facebook or Twitter, my second novel is available for preorder for 99 cents! This offer will be valid through January 22nd, although the book will be officially published on January 17th.

minions-celebrating.jpg

In the Dark is a new adult paranormal fantasy that just so happens to have some romance in it. It’s about a big sister who would do just about anything to save her little brother, even if that includes embracing the beast within and working with the alpha she rejected ten years ago. Yes, it’s a werewolf story, but it’s not what you think! I worked really hard to avoid werewolf cliches in this manuscript.

Funnily enough, this story started off as a fictional hostage situation without any paranormal or fantasy elements. I thought, What if I was kidnapped and held for ransom, forced to wait in a tornado cellar with an ex? How awful would that be? Once I figured out the hows and whys, it seemed like this story was going to be a piece of cake to write. About a quarter of the way through the first draft, however, I was bored. It needed a little extra umph. I thought, Why not add some werewolves into the mix? And the rest is history!

This was the first manuscript I wrote with an older audience in mind. Before this, I’d only ever written for high schoolers. That being said, I think this book would be enjoyable for both teenage and college-aged individuals. Pretty much anyone who has a younger sibling, anyone who has struggled with letting go of past dreams and traumas, anyone who has experienced unrequited love, or anyone who has been bullied will be able to relate to the characters. And anyone who likes action, love triangles, mafia bosses, and travel will find it interesting too.

Here is a link to the book’s page on Tirgearr Publishing’s website. There is a blurb and an excerpt for anyone who is interested in learning more about the story. Under the book’s cover picture is a list of all the different sites where people can preorder the book. Check it out! http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Fox_Becca/in-the-dark.htm