Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Guest author, John Catapano

Today welcome John Catapano, an author I met at Necronomicon.  Seriously, if you've never been to a con, you need to check them out.

John Catapano is an author, an artist, and an engineer. He has been a genre movie fan since his first double feature at age 3. Fifty -eight years later he has traveled extensively, consulted on feature movies and dug for Dinosaur fossils in the badlands of Montana.  His genre trivia book and short stories are available at smashwords.com. His new book, The Unusual Suspects is the follow up to his popular Dr. Sarcophagus story "Clarence." He currently is working on two novels, both with Central Florida locales.

Interview


  1. Tell us a little about yourself?

    I've just retired! I have been writing most of my life, formally writing for my high school and university papers and yearbooks. A large part of my BA was writing for all forms of media. I worked most of my life in Broadcast news and Entertainment. I drifted into the technical side of the business, travelled extensively and worked on some interesting projects. I worked for Disney entertainment for 18 years and for other national entertainment companies.  I began writing for comic books in the 90's and transitioned into prose in the early 2000's.
  2. Tell us something about how you write? i.e. are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals? 

    I 'm a planner. In University I had a lot of writing courses. I taught myself to write in a visual style while I slept so I could get up in the morning and transfer that to paper. I still work that way. I need a full story with beginning, middle, and end before I start to commit it to paper. When I'm writing it, I am open to changes, but it mostly comes to be published with the original story. I am always aware of trying to make the timeline and the characters reactions as real as possible even though I'm working in the supernatural realm.
  3. Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book?

    The Unusual Suspects is actually a follow up to my previous novella Clarence. They take place in a travelling carnival in the early 1930's run by the enigmatic Dr. Sarcophagus. He doesn't seem to age, and he seems to know a lot about the occult. In The Unusual Suspects he gets three new acts and brings them to Winter Haven to hone their acts before the next season. A young man is murdered in the woods nearby, and the local Sheriff asks the Dr and his animal trainer to examine the body. The Dr quickly realizes that it's the result of a shape-shifter and all three of his new acts have shape-shifting in their cultures. The Werewolf, the Were-tiger, and the Wendigo. All of them had access, and none of them have an alibi. It's up to the Dr. to find out who it is before the next full moon.
  4. Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

    Gerard LaChance is the Dr.'s ringmaster and best friend. He has been classically educated in Europe and is a judo master. He is also a hunchback. I wanted to go against stereotype with the character. He doesn't feel or act like it's a disability.
  5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

    For me it is sitting down and committing it to paper. Once the first draft is done I may go back and tighten (edit) it ten or twelve times.
  6. What is your favorite writing tip or quote?

    Write with the door closed and edit with it open, Stephen King
  7. Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Do you have any other books in the works?

    My next work is a novel that I started in 1995. It's called Invasive Species. I produced the first chapter as a comic book in the late 90's, but I've decided to do it a prose novel. I hope to have it out next year.

The Usual Suspects


Dr Sarcophagus returns to the winter compound with three new acts for the Carnival. A short time later a grisly murder in the woods nearby leads him to believe there is a shape-shifter in their midst. Can he figure out who the killer is before the next full moon? If he does how can he stop it?

John Catapano presents the sequel to his popular story "Clarence." The enigmatic Doctor is embroiled again in an arcane mystery.

A Dark Alley Crew story.

Excerpt

The next night, Minnie joined them for dinner.
"Doctor, I would like to thank you for inviting me to dinner. This is so exciting!" Minnie said clapping her hands. "Gerard and I wanted to take an opportunity to say how impressed we were with your performance the other day."
"You had everyone on the edge of their seats." the Doctor said as Gerard nodded. "Well, we all have our talents, and I'm glad you were entertained, but I'm excited about these hot dogs and fried potatoes! They look yummy!" she said her eyes open wide. "No more delays then. Bon App├ętit!" the Doctor replied. The room filled with the sounds of three people enjoying a meal, one much more enthusiastically than the others. As Gerard brought more Cokes out from the ice box, Dr. Sarcophagus began to explore Minnie's past.
"Well, my father was the supervisor of the plantation and so I had full run of the place," Minnie started. "Was the jungle very close?" the Doctor probed. 
"We were surrounded by the jungle. The men constantly had to keep it at bay. Everything in that climate grows very quickly you know,"she said. 
The Doctor continued, "Being that isolated sometimes leads to a regression back to superstitions that the surrounding civilization has long put a way." 
As Gerard placed the sweating bottles on the table, Minnie exploded into raucous laughter. "Oh, Doctor! I was wondering how we would get around to the subject," she said between breaths. 
"What question is that?" the Doctor said as coyly as possible while Gerard slowly sat down. 
"That I am a witch of course! When I heard you had presented Diane with your silver topped cane and tried to feed poor Henry some raw meat...." 
Gerard interrupted, "That was Steak tar tare," he said with a straight face. 
"Yes, of course," Minnie continued, "I surmised that you believe the murder in the woods a few weeks ago was done by a shape-shifter. I assure you, Doctor, I cannot change into a were-tiger, and I did not murder any of those people."
Dr. Sarcophagus sat back in his chair and placed his utensils on the table. Gerard spoke, "Were we that obvious?" 
Minnie reached out and touched his hand. "No, no, my dear. Neither of them suspect, but I am curious. Have you vetted Andrei yet? Don't tell me; the silverware at dinner?" 
Now it was the Doctor's turn to laugh, "The silverware and wolf's bane under his chair. Gerard just got the smell out of the wagon."
"Did he turn into a wolf?" she asked. 
"No, he did not," the Doctor said, "Tell me, Minnie, why were you sneaking into the forest that night?" 
She wiped her mouth with her napkin, "So I was seen."
"There were a number of people seen entering the forest that night," Gerard said. 
It was Minnie's turn to sit back, "I may be able to clear up some of that for you. Diane came to my wagon that night.  She and Andrei had a huge fight. She asked him to come to her wagon, but he was distracted, worrying about the bear. He stomped out of the wagon, and Diane came to me in tears. I tried to console her, and as we walked back to her wagon, we saw Andrei rushing into the woods. Of course, she followed."
"Did you know that Henry was in the woods that night?" the Doctor asked. 
"I did not know that," Minnie continued, "but I may have an explanation . Henry is seeing one of the acrobats, Elizabeth I believe, and her sisters do not approve. They have been having clandestine meetings outside of camp almost since the day we arrived." 
Dr. Sarcophagus smiled, "Well that explains his faulty alibi. What were you doing in the woods that night, Minnie?" 
She giggled, "I am also having an affair I'm afraid; with Lucas. He is a wonderful man," she said with a broad grin, "We had a romantic evening under the stars that night."
"Well, I am happy that you have found a kindred spirit here," the Doctor said. 
An hour later, Minnie left and Gerard and the Doctor were clearing the table. "So, it seems everyone in the Carnival is having relations except me, Doctor," Gerard said almost as an aside.
"Yes, it seems so, perhaps it is time to move on. Penelope left the Carnival almost six months ago," the Doctor continued, "but more importantly, we are no closer to a solution than before. The bear didn't commit the murder, and none of our suspects are shape-shifters. Of course, we only have Minnie's word for herself."
"Maybe she bewitched Logan, and she really is a were- tiger! That can be the only explanation!" Gerard said with increasing hysteria, "that is why she can control Kali!" 
The Doctor raised his hands in a slowing motion, "Now, now Gerard. I don't believe Minnie has a deceptive bone in her body, but that leaves us with no suspects and the full moon approaching." 
Gerard continued clearing the plates, "Do you have a plan, Doctor?" 
"I do not, and I am much too tired to formulate a plan," Doctor Sarcophagus replied stifling a yawn, "All this socializing has worn me out."


Tell me in the comments what you think.












Monday, November 28, 2016

Release of The Ghost in Exile


The Ghost in Exile was released on Friday, but I'm still offering signed copies at the pre-order price of $13 plus $3.50 for shipping (of course, shipping cost isn't necessary if you are local) through Wednesday.If you've read my previous novels, The Ghost in Exile tells the story of Darhour--both after he leaves Korthlundia at the end of The Goddess's Choice and flashbacking to the past to show how he became the The Ghost in the first place. If you haven't read my previous novels, The Ghost in Exile can stand alone without knowledge of my other books. The blurb follows:

The Ghost is going to hell. Not even the goddess can forgive his sins: assassin, oath-breaker, traitor (an affair with the queen earned him that title). No one can ever learn the princess is his daughter. To keep this secret, he flees to the land that turned him from a simple stable groom into an infamous killer.

His mission now? To find evildoers and take them to hell with him. But when an impulsive act of heroism saddles him with a damsel who refuses to be distressed, her resilience forces him to questions why he really ran from his daughter.​


You can order it paying with paypal at the following link: http://jamie-marchant.com/ghost.htm
Or if you'd prefer to send me a check, you can do so to Jamie Marchant, 806 Tullahoma Dr., Auburn, AL 36830. Just send me an email to let me know it is coming and how many copies you would like. If you are local, just send me a message, and we can arrange delivery.

If you prefer ebooks, you can order it at the link below.


If you haven't read my previous books and would like to, links for buying autographed copies via PayPal or ecopies from Kindle can be found on my website: http://jamie-marchant.com/books.htm under the title of each book. 


Remember Christmas is coming. If you have anyone in your life who enjoys fantasy fiction, books make 
great gifts.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Who's Reality is this Any Way? Blog Tour


Whose Reality Is This Anyway? 
by David Luddington 
Genre : Humor, Satire, Fantasy

Reading David Luddington is like “Like reading your favourite sitcom.”
– Nigel Planer


The funniest book of the year.”

– Claire Ashton, Editor the Book Reviewer.



Retired stage magician turned professional mystic debunker, John Barker, finds his sceptical beliefs under fire when he encounters a strange man who claims to be Merlin. After several unsuccessful attempts to rid himself of his increasingly unpredictable companion, John finally relents and agrees to assist in the man’s crazy mission, to find the true grave of the mythical King Arthur.
Following a hidden code contained within the text of a soft porn novel, they gather a growing entourage of hippies, mystic seekers and alien hunters as they leave a trail of chaos across the south west of England. When the group comes to the attention of a TV Reality Show producer looking to make a fast profit out of harmless eccentrics and fading celebrities, John decides it’s time to take charge and prove one way or the other, the identity of this mysterious person who claims to be a fictional wizard.
Whose reality is this anyway?” is a warm-hearted tale of what it means to be an individual and to follow one’s dreams. With his trademark cast of oddball characters and absurd situations, David Luddington once more transports us into a world where who you are is more important than what you are. 


David Luddington epitomizes the elusive quality of writing that he perpetuates - the British Comedy.” – Grady Harp




In case you don't know, I write comedy. Gentle British comedy. Having grown up with P.G. Wodehouse, the Ealing Comedies and the Carry On movies I like to think I've captured the essence of traditional British Humour but brought it firmly into the... where are we now? No... Not going to think about that.
I also write to a theme. I write about identity, the personae we use to identify ourselves in the world and what happens when that's suddenly taken from us. Who are we when the wave we've been riding all these years dumps us on the shores of Couldn't-Care-Less and moves on? Having been dumped by two big waves I do feel somewhat of an authority.
Primarily I write comedy because I want people to laugh a bit more. I believe in Hope and Second Chances and like to bring a positive feel to my writing. And it doesn't matter if the glass is half empty or half full as long as it's still got at least some beer in it. Although if you're looking for cruel, biting satire then please buy my books anyway. You'll be disappointed but I need the money.
So, about me. I currently live in the Alpujarras in Southern Spain. I'm here on a fact finding mission for my next book. At least that's what's going on my tax return. I am fortunate enough to have been given a second chance at life. Having spent most of my working life in Sales and Marketing, at all levels and many different industries, I was finally dumped one last time when the industry I was in found it could no longer survive so much government help and finally collapsed.

I now live in a funny little house in a strange little valley with my wife and soulmate (Just hope they never bump into each other), one dog and an indeterminate number of cats.







The Executioner Trilogy Blog Tour


Follow the Ashes 
Book 1 of the Executioner Trilogy
by Kindra Sowder 

Genre: Urban Fantasy

What does it mean to be the Executioner? Is it the struggle between good and evil, and the fulfillment of a Gypsy legend?
For Robin, it’s simply another day in the park in downtown LA. It’s killing the undead as she attempts to juggle life and love the same as any other ordinary woman would. That is until she meets Gordon, a crazed demon with a conscience. Now she must battle an ancient evil far more powerful then she’s ever faced before, or risk losing the world to Lilith, the mother of all vampires.
Will she save mankind? Or will we all follow the ashes of destruction as we burn in Hell?


Follow the Screams 
The Executioner Trilogy Book 2

Robin had made the ultimate sacrifice; losing life, love and fate in the process.
Or so it seemed.
When all hope was lost her destiny was finally made clear.
What would you do if you were trapped in a prison where most were put there by you?

You rise…




Follow the Bloodshed 
The Executioner Trilogy Book 3

Robin had gone toe-to-toe with Lilith, losing everything. Now she is back in the explosive final chapter of the Executioner Trilogy for revenge. After emerging from Hell, lying in her cold and dark grave, she is thrust into a world that she would’ve never thought possible; filled with creatures she never imagined. And her power is growing. Los Angeles is a ghost town, with the world following close behind. It is up to her to stop Lilith and bring humanity back from the brink of extinction.



Kindra Sowder was born and raised in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA until the age of 12, when her family moved to Spartanburg, SC. She graduated from high school in 2006 with full honors and as a member of her high school Literary Club and the Spanish Honor Society. In January 2014, she graduated with her second degree in Psychology, earning her an AA and BA in the field. She began to write long before this though, forming the basis for the Executioner Trilogy (being released in January 2015) at the age of 15. She got married to her husband Edd Sowder in May 2014 and still lives in Spartanburg, SC where she is basing Burning Willow Press. She dissolved her contract with another company, deciding to form her own. She based the company around the idea that she would be fair to all of its authors and not just a select few. She has decided to show that she has complete faith and trust in her own press by publishing her own works with her own company.



To keep up with Kindra Sowder:






Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Kentucky Thanksgiving


I'm going to my sister's for Thanksgiving this week, so I won't be keeping my normal blog schedule. But there will be two blog tours on Friday, both of which have contests you can enter. Check them out on Black Friday, and remember that books make great presents. But most of all have a fantastic Turkey Day.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Ghost in Exile Release Day Coming

The Ghost in Exile is due to be released this Friday. In anticipation of its release, I have published Chapter 2 below, in which he meet The Ghost as a youth when he used the name Ahearn. Remember autographed copies are available on my website for the pre-release price of $13 through Friday. Ebooks are available on Amazon.



Chapter Two

Ahearn sat at a table in the back of the king’s stable eating porridge with his fellow stable grooms, Gille and Jowan. The three of them had grown up together, first as stable boys, now as grooms. The king’s stable was huge, housing more than a hundred horses.  A cool morning breeze was blowing in through the open door, so it wasn’t as unbearably hot as it would be at midday. He struggled not to smile. Today it was his turn to accompany the queen on her ride. He couldn’t let his friends suspect that he no longer dreaded his turn as they did theirs.
“I’m glad I got two more days until I have to do it again,” Gille said, scratching at his sorry excuse for a beard. “You better pray she’s in a better mood than she was yesterday, and make sure you clean her saddle, her horse, everything until they sparkle, and I mean shiny. You know how prissy she is. Yesterday she found a speck of dirt on her saddle and yelled about me to Eamon for nearly fifteen minutes. I thought she was going to order me flogged.”
Ahearn rubbed his much fuller beard, which Fenella said made him look manly. She also said its auburn color enhanced his masculinity further. Ahearn wasn’t sure why, but who was he to question the queen?
The Master of the Horse came up behind them. “See that you do, Ahearn,” Eamon said. “I do not want to get another earful today. If it’d been you that left the speck, I have no doubt she would have ordered at least ten lashes. Not that she likes any of us, but she especially seems to have it in for you.”
“Yes, sir,” Ahearn answered, struggling to keep his smile suppressed. Their plan was working. No one seemed to have the slightest suspicion of what they were up to.
“Can’t you talk to the king, sir?” Jowan asked. “Get her bodyguards back on her at least. Then there’d be witnesses if she said we did anything wrong. I don’t want to hang because she got her monthlies or something.”
“I tried, boys, but His Majesty says the queen is insistent in not wanting bodyguards following her around, and he still won’t allow her to ride unaccompanied. Someone needs to be near in case of an accident.” Ahearn couldn’t tell them about the tantrum Fenella had had to throw to get His Majesty to dismiss her bodyguards or her reason for wanting them gone. “Just keep at a respectful distance, and you needn’t worry overly much. The king knows what she’s like, and he’d never order you hanged on her word alone. A thorough flogging is probably the worse you have to fear.”
“A flogging’s the worst?” Gille said. “I saw Calder’s back after he was flogged. I might rather hang.”
Eamon put his hands on Ahearn’s shoulders and squeezed them in a manner that reminded Ahearn of his dead uncle, who had been Eamon’s best friend. “You know I’ll always do my best for you boys, and it might well be that your fear of the queen is exaggerated. She’s only a girl, after all.” Jowan and Gille both scoffed loudly. Eamon patted Ahearn’s shoulder. “All the same, do make sure everything is perfect. You better get a move on it, so you have plenty of time.”
“Yes, sir.” Ahearn jumped to his feet.
Ahearn grabbed an apple from the barrel and headed for Alita’s stall near the front of the stables, next to the king’s own gelding. The queen’s white mare nickered at the sight of him. He held out the apple and scratched her neck in the way she liked. “You like me almost as much as your mistress does, don’t you?” he whispered, as he began brushing the coat she always managed to dirty. “She could have had almost anybody, but she chose me. For a bastard son of a whore, I don’t think I’ve done too badly for myself.” The truth was he never would have gotten this job if it hadn’t been for his uncle. He almost started whistling, but he heard someone coming and stopped himself. He shouldn’t seem happy.
Gille stopped in front of Alita’s stall. “I have just the thing to cheer you up. Jowan just found out from Dewin who found out from Laoch that there’s going to be a dance tonight at the weaver’s guild hall. You remember how fine the girls were last time.”
A few months ago Ahearn wouldn’t have hesitated, but Fenella would throw a fit if he danced with another girl. “I’m a little worn out. Go without me.”
“Not that excuse again!” Jowan joined them. “You need a new girl. Stop moaning over Sorcha. You know she’s doing it with Gradh now.”
“As if I care who that kitchen slut fucks,” Ahearn scowled. A few months ago he’d cared a great deal. He’d lost his virginity to Sorcha, but it hadn’t taken her long to decide she preferred the uniform of the Royal Guard to the stink of the stables. Gille and Jowan looked at each other with raised eyebrows. Gille shook his head, and Jowan shrugged. If they thought he wasn’t over Sorcha, they’d never guess what he was really up to.
“I’ll go get Hellfire ready for you,” Jowan said, as Ahearn got down Alita’s saddle. Hellfire was a jet-black gelding with a personality that matched his name. The queen always insisted whoever accompanied her ride him because he provided the perfect contrast for her mare.
When the horses were groomed and saddled, Ahearn and Jowan led them toward the stable door. Eamon stopped them and looked the horses over. “Just want to be sure the queen has nothing to complain about.”
When Eamon was satisfied, they led the horses out to the mounting blocks. Ahearn handed Alita’s reins to Gille, so he could be ready to assist the queen in mounting.
The side palace door opened, and a woman emerged. Ahearn couldn’t see her well from this distance, but he had no doubt it was the queen. Jowan let out a whistle as she got close enough for them to see the way her riding dress clung to her curves. Her long blond hair was tied back in a braid. “Her Majesty is certainly easy on the eyes,” Gille said. “If she weren’t such a bitch, I’d almost pity her for being married to a man old enough to be her grandfather.”
“Try great-grandfather,” Jowan said. “His Majesty is over seventy, and the queen just turned fifteen.”
“Maybe that’s why she acts the way she does,” Ahearn said, before he could stop himself. They didn’t understand how awful it had been for her when her father sold her to the king.
Gille nodded. “You have a point. But I hear His Majesty’s tiring of her. He spends far more time with his mistress.”
The queen was getting close enough she might overhear, so they stopped talking and waited at respectful attention. They all bowed when she reached the mounting blocks.
“You again?” The queen looked at Ahearn like he was a piece of horse shit.
“If you’d prefer, Your Majesty, someone else could accompany you.”
“What I prefer is to ride alone.” She accepted Ahearn’s assistance in mounting. It was hard to make his body behave when she was close.
“I’m sorry, Your Majesty, but His Majesty’s orders are that you are to be accompanied.”
“Just keep your distance,” she said, and took off.
As he hurriedly mounted Hellfire, Ahearn rolled his eyes, and his friends gave him sympathetic looks.
From behind, he watched the queen riding sidesaddle and couldn’t believe he’d soon hold those buttocks in his hands. As soon as they were out of sight of the stables, he caught up with her. She gave him her most radiant smile. “They still don’t suspect anything, do they?”
 “No, Your Majesty, but could you maybe be a little nicer to them? I don’t like the things they say about you.” 
“I told you not to call me ‘Your Majesty’ when no one’s around. You know why I have to act like I do. We can’t afford anyone getting the slightest suspicion about us. I couldn’t bear it if His Sulis-cursed Majesty hurt you in any way.”
Ahearn grinned at her continued demonstration of how much she cared about him.
“I promise I’ll make up for my rudeness,” she said in that throaty voice that drove him wild. “Race you to the stream!” She touched her heels to her horse, leaving him behind.
As Ahearn took off after her, he felt a tightening in his groin. Holy Sulis, how did I get so lucky that a woman like her wants a nobody like me? Even though Hellfire could easily outdistance her mare, he stayed behind her, enjoying the view. Besides, she got huffy when she lost, and he definitely didn’t want that.
Fenella laughed as her horse’s feet splashed into the edge of the stream. Ahearn had never heard anything quite so musical. He jumped off Hellfire, looped the reins around a branch, took a blanket off the saddle, and laid it on the ground. He hurried to help Fenella dismount. She slid down the full length of his body as he lowered her into the stream. She turned her face up to his, and he kissed her deeply. Without warning, she wrapped her leg around his and jerked him off balance, falling on top of him into the stream. They came up together, laughing and dripping wet. Her dress clung to her body, leaving little to the imagination. He grabbed the dress around her waist and pulled it up over her head; she wore nothing underneath. He cupped her ivory breasts and found her lips again. He moved his hands down her body until they found the smooth firmness of her buttocks. She was so small he had no difficulty boosting her against him and carrying her to the shore. He lay her on the blanket, quickly tore off his own clothes, and lay down beside her.
“Oh, Hearn,” she whispered. “Make love to me.”
He readied her as quickly as he could and slipped himself slowly inside her. He hadn’t gotten deep yet when he heard the crunch of a footstep behind him and felt the cold sharp point of a sword on his back.
“I think you’ve done enough, you rutting swine,” a harsh voice commanded. “Stand up and turn around. Slowly.” Certain he was about to die, Ahearn eased himself out of the queen and stood.
He turned to find Lord Caedmon holding the sword on him. Behind Caedmon, Duke Connor, the king’s chancellor, approached, accompanied by two vicious dogs. “You should have let him finish, son,” Duke Connor said. “It isn’t good for a man’s health to be left in that condition.”
“His health is of little concern now that he’s completed his service to his country,” Caedmon grunted.
Ahearn didn’t understand what they were talking about. He wanted to fall to his knees and beg for mercy. But why humiliate himself when he had no hope for leniency? He licked his lips and looked at Fenella, who’d wrapped the blanket around herself. She looked far more angry than frightened. Maybe she didn’t understand the consequences of what they’d just been caught doing. “Don’t hurt her, please,” he whispered.
Duke Connor laughed. “Hurt Her Majesty? I wouldn’t think of it. She is carrying Korthlundia’s future—His Majesty’s long-awaited heir.”
“Like hell I am.” Fenella jumped to her feet. “Solar is a wrinkled old man. He hasn’t been able to do it in months. This baby,”—she touched her stomach, still smooth and flat—“isn’t his.”
Ahearn stared at the queen. “You’re pregnant, Fen?”
Duke Connor smiled nastily. “The continued stability of the joined kingdoms requires that Solar have an heir. Since he’s unable to beget his own, he needed someone to do it for him. I’ve informed His Majesty of your vigorous efforts on his behalf.” Ahearn stared at the duke, mortified at the thought of the fifty-year-old pervert looking on and evaluating his performance. “Now that you’ve done your part, I’ve been ordered to ‘take care’ of you.”
Ahearn dropped to his knees, afraid he was either going to faint or vomit. His Majesty set me up! Holy Sulis, how could I have been so stupid to think no one knew?
 “No!” Fenella screamed, seeming to understand for the first time how bad the situation was. “Don’t hurt him! It’s all my fault! I just wanted . . . I just wanted . . .”
“Wanted what, Your Majesty?” Duke Connor asked, as if what she wanted was of no concern.
Fenella’s words cut like the sharpest sword. “You smug bastard! No one knows better than you what I wanted! I told you I wouldn’t be given to an old man to be used as a brood mare! But nobody listened! Not you! Not my father! And not His Sulis-damned Majesty! But I’ve had my revenge! I got a stable groom with shit on his boots to do what the great Solar couldn’t!”
Ahearn felt like he’d been kicked in the gut. “Fen, you can’t mean that. I thought . . .”
 “I’m afraid thinking played little part in your activities,” the duke sneered. He nodded, and Ahearn felt something smash into the back of his head. He fell to the ground, his skull erupting in pain. He tried to move, but was struck again. As if from a great distance, he heard the noblemen talking.
“This is a waste of effort and money,” Caedmon complained. “We should just kill him here and dump him in the harbor. The rutting swine’s only a stable groom, and he’ll be a liability as long as he’s alive. We both know what His Majesty meant by taking care of him.”
 “Enough!” the duke snapped. “We’ve been over this. He’s just a lad. I’m chancellor, and you’d do well to remember that. Now, take him as we’ve arranged.”
“Fine,” Caedmon snapped, and Ahearn was kicked in the head.
* * *
When Ahearn woke, he found himself, still naked, in a small, dark place, lying on bare boards. From the way the floor moved under him, he knew he was on a ship. His head pounded abominably. He curled up into a ball, shaking with cold and fear. Holy Sulis, Mother of us all, what are they going to do to me? He thought he knew the answer. They couldn’t hang him if they wanted the affair to remain a secret, so they were going to take him out to sea and throw him overboard. He couldn’t swim, and the thought of drowning terrified him more than the thought of a noose. Maybe he could fight them and make them kill him before they threw him over.
For a long time, no one came, and over and over again he replayed the scene by the river and heard Fenella’s mocking voice. It isn’t true. She couldn’t have just been using me. She told me she loved me. He remembered the first time they’d made love. It had been just after her bodyguards had been dismissed, and it had been his turn to accompany her riding. She stopped at the edge of the stream. She’d said she wanted to watch the fish for a while, so he’d helped her dismount. She sat at the edge of the stream while he stood at a respectful distance. 
After a few minutes, he noticed her shoulders shaking and heard her sobbing, her head buried in her arms. At first this surprised him. He’d never consider royalty to be like real people with real emotions. Still, as a servant, he knew he should pretend not to notice. But she sounded so sad he couldn’t just stand there. He’d knelt near her. “Can I fetch someone for you, Your Majesty?”
She shook her head without looking up. “Nobody here cares about me. They all think I’m just a foolish girl.”
“I’m sure that’s not true, Your Majesty,” he said, even though he knew it was. Most of the nobility never seemed to see stable hands, so they talked freely in front of them. “Foolish” was one of the nicer words they used to describe her.
“Of course it is,” she sobbed. “They see me as nothing but the great Solar’s brood mare. I hate him. I wish he’d just die.”
Ahearn froze. He couldn’t begin to count the number of things wrong with her talking to him like this. Queens didn’t talk to servants, except to give orders, and what she was saying was close to treason. He tried to tell himself to just walk back to the horses and remain properly oblivious to the actions of his betters. But her sorrow tugged at him, and instead, he found himself asking, “Can I do anything for you, Your Majesty?”
“I feel so alone, Ahearn.” The queen met his eyes, her face streaked with tears. He was surprised she knew his name; she’d never used it before. He couldn’t remember any of the nobility ever doing so. “Could you . . . could you hold me? Just for a little while?” The sane part of his brain told him to run away as fast as possible. This was the queen! If anyone saw, he’d hang. She noticed his hesitation, and her eyes welled up with tears. She looked so young and vulnerable. “Please. Nobody will ever know, and I need someone.”
He swallowed the lump in his throat and sat next to her. “If you want me to, Your Majesty.” She threw herself against his chest. He put his arms around her, his heart pounding in terror. She clung to him and sobbed on his shoulder. Her hands started wandering, and she nibbled slowly up his neck, searching for his lips. Before he could think about it, he was kissing her. It felt so right, so natural that it wasn’t long before kissing wasn’t all they were doing.
“I love you,” she’d whispered, as they lay together afterward. “You’re always so kind, so gentle with the horses despite how strong you are.” She caressed the muscles in his arms. He’d believed her love then, and the hundred other times she’d told him since. Because of that love, he’d been willing to risk his life to comfort her.
But as he heard her voice again, shouting at the nobleman about the shit on his boots, he knew it had all been a lie. She’d chosen him because his place at the bottom of the social ladder would amplify the insult to the king. He also realized her revenge would be meaningless if the king was ignorant of the affair. Holy Sulis, she’d wanted us caught. She threw my life away. How could I have been so stupid?
Now, he sat in the darkness, waiting to die. At last he heard footsteps. Two men opened the door. One of them held a sword while the other brought in food, water, and a bucket. They said nothing to him, met all of his questions with silence, and left him in darkness again.
* * *
The darkness allowed Ahearn no way to keep track of the days and nights. Food and water were brought at regular intervals, and the contents of his bucket emptied. But no one explained what was being done to him. If they were going to kill him, he could see no reason for them to wait this long. His best guess now was that he was to be sold as a slave.
After what seemed like months, Ahearn felt the ship stop moving and heard the bustle of noise that told him they’d made port. Still, it was hours before anyone came for him. When they did, it was the same two men he’d always seen. One of them threw him a pile of clothes and finally spoke, “Get dressed.”
Ahearn did as ordered. They directed him up the ladder onto the deck. Ahearn blinked as his eyes adjusted to the light after so long in darkness. He was indeed in a harbor, one nearly three times the size of Murtaghan’s. Hundreds of ships were lined up on either side of his, flying flags of all nations, some Ahearn had never seen before. A huge city crawled up from the edge of the water into the surrounding hills. It gleamed white and pink in the late afternoon sun.
The men led him to the gangway where others were unloading the cargo. “You’re free to go,” one of them said. “Don’t come back.”
Ahearn started down the gangway, not quite believing he’d be allowed to simply walk away. He expected a knife in the back at any moment. But he reached the dock without incident, and when he looked back at the ship, he couldn’t see either of the two men. No one paid any attention to him as he blended with the people that thronged the busy harbor. Where am I? As he moved away from the docks, olive-skinned, thin-nosed people filled the city’s streets. He’d seen Saloynan ambassadors and envoys at the palace, so he knew what they looked like, but he knew next to nothing about the country.
His stomach rumbled, and he stopped abruptly as he came to fully realize his predicament. He couldn’t speak the language. He had no money, no food, nothing at all but the clothes he was wearing. Holy Sulis, what in the seven hells am I supposed to do now?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Goddess's Choice audio, Chapter 8

Listen to Robbie argue with a horse who refuses to make sense in the next installment of The Goddess's Choice on audio. Please tell me what you think.




If you can't wait for the next chapter, you can always buy it on Amazon.



Thursday, November 17, 2016

Valerie Willis and Celtic Mythology



I've signed up with the book touring company to occasionally host blog tours. The benefit of this to you, my readers, is not only to you hear about new books, but also each of the tours comes with a giveaway in which you can win prices. Do not miss the rafflecopter link near the end of today's post, and enter to win prices. In the comments, tell me how you feel about this addition to my blog. Your feedback will determine how many tours I sign up to host. This week's tour starts with a guest post on the Celtic influences on Valerie Willis's novels. This interested me because my novels also have a Celtic touch, and I hope it will interest you. After the guest post, you can read more about Willis's novels and enter the contest.



Before I even completed one outline on any of the books and plots (Released and still to write) for The Cedric Series, I dove hard into mythology sources from all over the world. Naturally, I started with Celtic and Norse Mythology, lores, and legends. Some characters are more obvious with their Celtic inspirations than others. For example, in Cedric the Demonic Knight we are introduced to the Sorceress Sisters, Morrighan, Nemaine and Badbh. Most assume my Morrighan is the Goddess, but in fact, she and her sisters are inspired by Goddesses within Celtic lore.
Nemaine was harder to tie down, unlike Morrighan and Badbh whose lore wasn’t as broken apart, “Forgotten” or faded into her sister’s stories. These three are also known for being the Fate Trinity in Celtic lore as Morrigan, Badb, and Macha, the three daughter of Ernmas. The harder I dug into their story, scouring the mythology and stories of old for their starting point, the more scarce and confusing the three daughters became. Most of my solid sources came from the books I purchased in an effort to build a more solid and traceable path of research.
The rate of one time found stories, versions, and starting points only added to my want to have them in The Cedric Series as three different entities who are different from one another but still reflect all the different aspects I found. Many may wonder why I didn’t go with Macha, but my goal in the series was to bring attention to lesser known entities, and Nemain seemed to be used in the older versions more so than Macha. Plus, a lot of what I found on Macha was redundant or split off with Badbh or Morrigan, so her essence is still there, mixed between these two. Some of the lesser known, hard to find on the internet information involved them being sent out by their father to lure or distract the hero Cuchulainn. There was even one story of how they were punished for their father’s crimes by losing their left eyes (Other tales just say Morrigan was alone and Cuchulainn shot her eye out)… perhaps something to come in a future book!
Now, in regards to Cuchulainn, I drew inspiration from The Cattle Raid of Cooley. It gave me the perfect starting point for my second novel in the series, Romasanta: Father of Werewolves. This whole fight starts with a prized Bull being stolen from the hero and then leads to even a fight with a wolf. Granted in the original variants that wolf was Morrighan, but in my story I use it as a way to pull together Mythology involving Japanese Forest Gods meets Norse God Fenrir! You can read the first chapter of Romasanta on my site, www.willisauthor.com.

This is only scratching the surface of the Celtic inspiration that peeks through my characters and plot. As the series unfolds, readers can look forward to more glimpses of Celtic, Norse, Greek, and even superstitions!



Cedric: The Demon Knight


The Cedric Series Book 2



Lord Cedric du Romulus may be a powerful knight, but he’s no human nor does he like masquerading as one. He is a mixed blood demon made by Sorceress Morrighan in her quest to create an army of powerful underlings. Seeking out ever-stronger enemies, he devours them for their power; nothing is safe from his fangs whether they are beasts, demons, or magic wielders. When he finds himself staring at Morrighan’s castle, will he be able to follow through with his life’s ambition and leave behind his lover and wife, Lady Angeline who herself is an heir to a legacy of unknown magic.



Romasanta: Father of Werewolves 

The Cedric Series Book 2




Romasanta finds himself a cursed man and struggles with his internal demon, literally. All his troubles start with a stone and after that he will be losing everything he's ever loved. Faced with clinging on to what little humanity he has, he will lose it many times before reaching the end of his journey. His life's tale will take you through time to see how every lore, every moment in history tied in with wolves all come back to him. They call him the Ancient One, others simply refer to him as the Father of Werewolves, but we know him by his name, Romasanta. Many battles will be fought before he gets closer to his goals, but will he be ready to finish what was asked of him at the very beginning of his horrible fate. Will he be able to return the Eye of Gaea and free the love of his life from the laurel tree in the Black Forest?


The Oracle 

The Cedric Series Book 3










With Angeline back in Cedric's arms and the Eye of Gaea in Romasanta's grip, the next step in their journey begins. Knowing they will be facing the mother of dragons, Delphyne, at the top of Mt. Parnassus, they assemble a group to traverse the barrier which dissolves any technology and renders gunpowder useless. The question weighing on their minds is if two werewolves, the incubus King, and a demonized sorceress is enough to fight their way to see the Oracle?


Valerie Willis, a sixth generation Floridian, launched her first book, Cedric the Demonic Knight, at the start of 2014 on Amazon.com. Since then, she has launched the second book to The Cedric Series, Romasanta: Father of Werewolves (2015), with several installments to come in this high rated Fantasy Romance Series. She pulls in a melting pot of mythology, folklores, history and more into her work with a remarkable amount of foreshadowing that makes reading her books a second time exciting. Also she recently published Rebirth the first book in her Teen Urban Fantasy, the Tattooed Angels Trilogy. Currently on the table to be completed is book two for the Tattooed Angels Trilogy, Judgment and book three in The Cedric Series, The Oracle.




5 Free ebook copies of any of my books of their choice & 1 Paperback of choice signed with signed bookmarks to share with friends! Click the link below to enter and good luck!