Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Please Welcome Author Wendy Knight

Astraea Press is celebrating their first cover reveal; Wendy Knight's Fate on Fire novella, Feudlings in Sight! Available Thursday on Astraea Press, Amazon, and all other major ebook retailers!

Boys of war suck at romance.

Charity Delyle has lived in the shadow of her Prodigy cousin and his powerful Guard since the day she was born. And she doesn’t mind—really. Except that being in Hunter’s shadow means that he can’t see her. And she’d like that to change.

Hunter has one purpose in life: Protect the Prodigy, or die trying. That means a social life, school, and even Charity come last until the war is over. For the most part, he’s okay with that—he can lose everything if he has to…except his seer.

Starting at a new school should be much safer than living in a war-ravaged Carules headquarters. But this new school is different than the others. Friendships are forged and destinies are questioned, and Hunter’s decision could cost them all everything they’ve been hoping for.

“Okay, do you want to practice the ones we learned last week or just start new ones?” She had carefully color-coded the spell book with sticky tabs — spells they had mastered, spells they had practiced, spells that would come in handy one day — she was very organized. And if the Council ever found out she put sticky tabs in a book that was over three hundred years old, they would kill her completely dead.
“Learn as much as you can, Shane. Gonna be hard to find a place to practice in the mountains of Utah, surrounded by Normals.” Hunter idly traced spells in the air, letting them fizzle and die without igniting them.

“Well, alright.” Charity flipped to the red section — spells that would come in handy one day. She started at the top. “This one is called an Al-able.” The odd word rolled awkwardly off her tongue. “It’s like… it looks like it’s sort of a flat triangle of flames.”

Hunter and Shane both walked over, studying the spell in the book before tracing it slowly into the air. The spell wouldn’t actually ignite until they lit it with the flames roiling through their blood, but they both wanted to make sure they could do it correctly so as not to explode them all to pieces or something.

“No, no, Hunter. Less harsh lines. Softer.” Charity glanced down at the page and then up at Hunter’s disaster of an attempt. Sighing she laid the book on the metal next to her and pushed herself to her feet. She took Hunter’s hand, trying hard to ignore the way her own blood seemed to explode into flames. There’s no magic there, she told herself harshly. “Like this.” She led his hand through the spell until the air smoked and the image burned in front of them. She looked up, got caught in his gold eyes. He watched her, an unreadable look on his face.
It made her heart stutter in her chest.

Before he could say anything she dropped his hand. “Now try it on your own. I can’t do everything for you, you know.” Charity grinned playfully, dodging out of the way as he tried to push her over. She rescued the book from the twisted metal and perched, watching them expectantly. “Go. Do something.”

Shane rolled his eyes. “Give the girl a book and she’s suddenly the boss.” He moved away several feet so he wouldn’t accidentally ignite her. He’d done it before, and Charity didn’t relish the idea of it happening again.

BIO: Wendy Knight was born and raised in Utah by a wonderful family who spoiled her rotten because she was the baby. Now she spends her time driving her husband crazy with her many eccentricities (no water after five, terror when faced with a live phone call, etcetera, etcetera). She also enjoys chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping is also big: her family is slowly working toward a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S.
You can usually find her with at least one Pepsi nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for whatever the occasion may be. And if everything works out just right, she will also be writing.

Twitter: @wjk8099
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorWendyKnight
Blog: www.writethroughthenoise.blogspot.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7009940.Wendy_Knight

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sweet Saturday: The Legacy #3

Welcome back! This month I've been sharing pieces from my very first published fiction work, The Legacy. Last week, we saw a growing problem in Leigh's home, and she was forced to escape. This week's scene picks up where the last scene ended:

She stepped into the motel office to find Jenna sprawled in a padded chair, snoring. A tiny black and white television was tuned to the local nightly news.
“Jenna, wake up.”
The snoring stopped, and Jenna's eyes blinked. A mop of shaggy, strawberry blonde hair shook as she woke up and tried to focus on her.
“Leigh, it's you! Did you get bored and come to keep me company?”
Leigh instantly felt guilty. She and Jenna had been good friends in high school, but after graduation they had gone in different directions.
Jenna had married, and had two children in two years. Now divorced and living with her mother, she worked the third shift at the motel to make ends meet. The arrangement allowed her to be at home with her children during the day, when her mother worked.
“I guess I can stay and talk a while, Jenna,” she told her friend. “But I'm going to need a room for the night.”
Jenna frowned. “Again? Leigh, you've got to get out of there. One of these days your dad is going to force himself on you. You won't be able to get away. And it won't be pretty.”
Jenna was the only person who knew about her father's problem with alcohol and had first-hand knowledge of the way Frank took his troubles out on Leigh.
“I'm working on it, Jenna. It's just that Mom—”
“—will be able to take care of herself,” her friend insisted. “She's always gone, anyway. There are a couple of apartments open where Mom and the kids and I live. They're affordable, too. It'll be fun, Leigh. Why don't you check it out? Tomorrow.”
“I will, I promise.” She handed Jenna her credit card. “Here.”
“You want just the basic room, right?”
“Yeah, I just need a bed and four walls.”
Jenna rang up the charge and waited as Leigh signed the sales slip. She handed Leigh a card key. “Room 104. Right next door. So how are you going to get to work tomorrow?”
“I'll get up early and walk home. Dad should be sleeping by then, so I can change and go to work.”
“Grab a suitcase and a bunch of extra clothes. I don't think you should stay there anymore. I'd invite you to stay with us, but…”
“Oh, Jenna, I couldn't stay with you. I love your mom and the kids, but you've barely got enough room for the four of you. I'll find my own place. Tomorrow.”
Thanks for stopping by! The Legacy is free this month through the Astraea Press Book Club. All you have to do is email the coordinator at reviewcoordinator@att.net and specify what format you want.

You can find links to other excerpts by going to Sweet Saturday Samples!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sweet Saturday: The Legacy #2

Welcome back! I'm sharing another excerpt from The Legacy, my very first publication at Astraea Press. Leigh Becker is returning to her parents' home after a visit to the Tanaka home:

The house was dark. Hopefully, both her parents had gone to bed. Life was much simpler when she didn't have to talk to either of them. Mom was always so distracted, so focused on her career. And Dad was ... unpredictable. Sometimes he was morose, bemoaning the cards he had been dealt. The unfairness, the sadness, the impossible odds he faced. And other times he would lash out, finding fault with everyone and everything. Leigh didn’t blame her mother for immersing herself in work. But that often left Leigh alone with—
"It's about time you got home. Did you forget where you lived? Or were you practicing shacking up with that Jap kid?"
Oh no. He was awake, drunk, and mean. Not a good combination. She held on to the door handle, thankful she hadn’t come all the way in. Though Frank had never hurt her, she didn’t want to find out what he was capable of.
"Where's mom?"
"Took off on another business trip. I'll bet that 'business' includes some young dude with a fancy suit and an expense account."
Time to go. "I'll be right back, Dad."
Quickly, she scrambled out the door and tore across the lawn, around the thick hedges separating their yard from the neighbor's. She heard her father calling her from the front door. Thank goodness for the darkness. She ran along the hedge toward the neighbor's backyard.
From past experience, she knew there was an opening in the back hedge through which she could squeeze into another backyard and over to the next street. From there, she could walk over to Main Street, and then to the Shadyside Motel. Hopefully Jenna would be working the desk tonight.
Thanks for stopping by! The Legacy is one of July's choices for the Astraea Press Book Club, so you can get it FREE by joining the Book Club's through its Facebook page and then emailing the club coordinator. At the end of the month I'll be on hand to answer any questions you might have!

Check out the excerpts offered by other authors by clicking the links at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Please Welcome Author Michele Barrow-Belisle

Blurb: Adventure wasn't something Lorelei Alundra was interested in. Gifted with two otherworldly talents for singing and healing, she’s always shied away from her gifts and the spotlight, preferring quiet anonymity, over attention and fame. But when she meets the enigmatic Adrius, with his dark and dangerous mystique and eyes that could see into her soul, her uneventful life becomes irrevocably altered. 

Adrius turns up in every one of her classes and knows more about her than any newcomer should. Including the condition of her mother who is suffering from a mysterious illness. Accepting his offer to help leads her into a terrifying and thrilling world, where Elves are even hotter than Legolas, and Faeries.... are nothing like Tinkerbell. The two magical beings are fire and ice opposites. One Lorelei can’t help falling for, and the other she's compelled to be with. 

Now she’s trapped, expected to prevent a war between witches and faeries, or forfeit her mother’s life. Nothing is what it seems. Not her family. Not the Fey. Not even Adrius, whose feelings for her balance precariously between desire and danger. Despite her better judgment, she can’t say away from him. As secrets unravel and unsettling truths are revealed, Lorelei must fight to save much more than her mother’s life. One mistake could put the fate of his world, and her soul in jeop-ardy. But hey, no pressure… right.

Excerpt: I’d die for him. When all was said and done, that’s what it came down to. I would give my life in exchange for his. Only he was immortal, blessed with eternal life. —And I was the one who was dying. Even after everything we’d been through I still wasn’t sure what he’d be willing to give in exchange for my life.

Climbing out of bed, I wandered out to the courtyard, towards the south border of the Wyldewood Forest. Apparently, I’d been granted one last night to sleep in my room. Adrius had given the guards posted outside my door his assurance that I wouldn’t try to escape, although there was the unmistakable click of a lock when he closed the door. Even if it had occurred to me to use magic to free myself, I wouldn’t have known how. The powers I’d somehow summoned with Octăhvia had receded to some inaccessible place deep inside me.

The message that had arrived hours earlier was as short and curt as the messenger who’d delivered it. Golden scrawled parchment simply read ‘Meet me in the glen bordering the south forest before daybreak.’ I’d been awake ever since, too anxious to sleep.

Sunrise dragged. I wanted to see Adrius again; see that he was past the worst of whatever he was thinking. I wanted everything to go back to normal. Normal; that was funny. Nothing had ever been normal here. In truth, nothing in my life ever had been.

I waited for what seemed like an eternity, pacing an uneven groove in the dew-soaked grass. It wasn’t yet daybreak and the sky was still laced with Mediterranean hues. A soft breeze carried the fragrance of wild herbs. It caressed my skin and the tiny hairs on my arm stood on end. I didn’t have to turn around to know who was behind me.

Adrius. I would recognize the electricity of his presence blindfolded. He was surreally gorgeous. Even now as he regarded me with distant, unreadable eyes. He was aloof; not as angry as he’d been last night, but still not himself. He had sent for me and so of course, I came. And now here we were in the very place we’d been when I first arrived in Mythlandria so many weeks ago. There was a familiarity but also an unnerving strangeness. I didn’t like not knowing what to expect. Or what he was thinking. I attempted to use the Inner Eye necklace to access his thoughts, but a seerer can see when he’s being read. And his mind was completely closed to me, leaving me in the dark.

“Follow me,” he said with a fleeting gaze.

I took a deep breath and I followed him, to what could possibly be my end. He was an Elven knight bound to his father’s will. And right now his will equaled me dead.

The thickness of the forest encircled us, swallowing us in its mist. Twigs snapped and crunched beneath our steps and occasionally his arm brushed mine, but he made no attempt to take my hand. Given the circumstances, it was pretty insane for me to hope that he might.

By the time the sunrise peeked through the trees, the silence had become deafening. It was clear I would have to be the one to break it if I wanted any answers. I didn’t like feeling so unsure about him. I knew what the curse could do, but I’d always felt comfortable. Safe. It was different now and I hated it.

“Where are we going?” I asked a little breathless from the quick pace he’d been keeping.

“Not much further.” He looked back at me. “Are you cold?”

I was doubly puzzled by his cryptic behavior. Wintry and detached one minute, worried about my comfort in the next.

I shook my head, suddenly aware I was shivering.

That was all he said before dropping into another uncomfortable stretch of silence. I realized he didn’t answer my question. It made me cringe to consider why.

Light dappled through the leaves. Something in the way the beam hit the ground reminded me of my mother. She’d always loved the play of sunlight. That was one of the reasons our house had been designed with so many large windows. My stomach twisted. I missed my mother. My house. My life. I had to go home... but, he could come with me. That was the best solution. We’d be far from his father, and Venus and the spell that bound his soul to hers and his mind to his father. Far from Zanthiel. We could pretend to be normal. Human. Finish school and then head off to college. Together. That was the plan. It could still work. We just had to get past this. If he could find the strength to spare my life, we’d be halfway there.

He glanced at me, his lips pressed in a thin line, and for a moment I wondered if he had been listening to my thoughts. Then I remembered the chain hanging from my neck, and the protective pendant blocking his access to my mind, tucked safely inside my dress.

We climbed uphill over thick coiled roots still sleeping on the forest floor, which confirmed how early it was; the trees weren’t even awake yet. Then he stopped so abruptly I nearly slammed into him. High above the forest below, we stood, still enclosed by the thickness of trees.

He’ll get over this. We can get over this. He needs some time, I told myself. The words weren’t very convincing. I could feel something burning a hole in my chest. Panic maybe.

He turned to face me. The air was thinner here and I shivered, but not from cold. I felt sick and a little dizzy, like I was teetering on the edge of a precipice, about to fall. I tried to steady my breathing. I kept telling myself it was all going to work out. That everything would be fine. But the look on his face made it impossible to believe that was true. I twirled a lock of hair around my finger. His eyes followed my hand, and for a split second his gaze softened. A half smile touched his lips; that same slightly crooked smile that melted my heart. Only it didn’t have time to reach his eyes before it faded. Then it was gone, as quickly as it had come leaving his emotions carefully shielded behind expressionless eyes. They were still beautiful....they were always beautiful, but the chill had returned. More than anything I missed their warmth.

I stood motionless, unable to breathe. Barely noticing the coiling mist that had risen and was swirling knee high.

Being alone in the forest with him used to be my favorite place to be. Now I was chocking from the dread rising in my throat. For an agonizing length of time he stared at me with those eyes that once lit up when he looked at me. His jaw tightened, and his hands clenched and unclenched at his sides. He shifted his weight, and frowned. A vein in his temples pulsed. Gritting his teeth, his hand reached for his sword. But then fell away. Raking a hand through his hair once, he finally broke the throbbing silence.

Get this book at  Astraea Press or AMAZON

Friday, July 5, 2013

Sweet Saturday: The Legacy

Welcome back! I had intended to share another excerpt from my upcoming regency, Love's Refrain, but I changed my mind when I got the honor of having my very first published novella The Legacy, as one of the Astraea Press Book Club's monthly free read. The Legacy holds a special place in my heart, because in addition to being my first publication and my first association with Astraea Press, it was a part of a fund raising effort for victims of the northern Japan earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster. At the time Astraea Press put out the call for charity novellas, I was working on The Samurai's Garden. Since that story was much longer than the novella length requested, I chose to write a shorter tale about the samurai's great-great-great grandson.
In this excerpt, Andy Tanaka has found an old trunk in a shed on his family's flower farm. In it are some Japanese swords, clothing, and a scroll. He and his friend Leigh, along with Andy's grandfather Kenjiro, ask a family friend to help translate:

"This is a letter from a man named Hiromasa Tanaka—I’m assuming he's an ancestor of yours—to his son, Yasahiro. It is a moving letter. I'm not sure of some of the characters, since the letter is faded from age, and it's written in an old style of the language. You may have to check with a linguist to get the exact meaning of some phrases. But I will tell you what I know."
Kenjiro sat in an upholstered chair. Andy and Leigh settled on the floor in front of the old man and waited eagerly for his story. Mr. Kimura regarded each of them solemnly, and then focused his attention on Kenjiro.
"Hiromasa Tanaka was a samurai soldier. He came from a family of samurai. It says here he always knew he disliked fighting, and at the end of the samurai age, he was actually relieved, even though he didn't know what he would do. It wasn't until he met his wife in the far north, that he knew what he wanted to do with his life. He became a farmer, and established a successful flower farm.
"He had been raised with the samurai code of honor known as the bushido, and he believed it was this code that helped him to prosper as a farmer and a businessman. He raised his sons with the same ethics. Apparently his eldest son, Yasahiro, came to live in America. He must have been the Tanaka who established Tanaka Farms in California."
Kenjiro nodded in agreement. "Yes, Yasahiro was my grandfather."
Kimura-san continued the story. "Hiromasa was, of course, sad to see his son leave the country, but on the other hand was proud of him for his bravery in going to a new land. Hiromasa had other sons who continued Tanaka Farms in Japan, but he observed the accomplishments of his son in America with great pride.
"The letter says Hiromasa realized he was growing old, and feared he wouldn't have much longer to live. He wanted to give his eldest son his swords and other treasures of his life as a samurai, which Yasahiro was to pass down to his sons when they proved they were true keepers of the samurai code, or the bushido."
Leigh's breath caught. What a beautiful legacy!  But she saw Andy's grandfather frown. Was something wrong?
"So this would have been passed down from Yasahiro to his son Ichiro, my father,” Kenjiro mused. “And Father would have passed it down to my older brother, Michio. But Michio was killed in World War II. I was in college then, and my family was in the relocation center at Camp Amache in Colorado. I wonder when it was put away in the storage shed?"
"It is hard to say,” Kimura-san replied. “Perhaps it was stored there before the family went to the camp, and later, in his sorrow, Ichiro didn't think to pass the legacy to you, his second son. It is rightfully yours now."
Kenjiro nodded. "It would seem so."
Thanks for stopping! I'd love to read your comments. During the month of July, you can get The Legacy FREE by joining the AP Book Club and emailing the coordinator with your choice of book and format.

And be sure to visit other author blogs for more excerpts. Find their links at Sweet Saturday Samples. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New Release by AP's own Stephanie Taylor

A-list actress Deb Atkins hasn’t allowed her glamorous lifestyle to go to her head. She owes this to her wonderful family, who keeps her grounded. So, for Deb, not just any man will do, especially if he’s part of the Hollywood elite. Most actors have one thing on their mind, and happily ever after isn’t it. Until she meets Zach Sparks, her new co-star. Zach Sparks is famous not just for his acting skills, but his quick wit and good looks. One glance at Deb, and he's smitten. After a drunken night at a Vegas premiere after-party, one thing leads to another. The result: marriage. Deb is appalled by her actions. So much so, she and Zach can't get along on the set. Their producer demands they spend Christmas holidays together to work out their differences or they're both fired. Driven by selfish motivations, they don't expect to fall in love over Christmas or for their marriage to turn into a real one. But can their tenuous relationship withstand a bigger test than either of them ever imagined?
“It doesn’t have to end,” she said, stepping into his embrace. “Hold me,” she demanded and looked as his full lips curled into a satisfied smile.

 “What…” He cleared his throat. “What are you doing?”

 “I’m saying the photographers don’t exist. I want you to kiss me.”

 Zach’s eyes narrowed, although she detected a hint of a smile in their depths. She could feel the evidence against her stomach that he, indeed, wanted her. But photographs were being taken too rapidly at this point to think clearly. “You think they don’t already have a juicy story just by the way we’re standing and looking at each other, wearing our wedding rings?”

“Probably.” But he still didn’t move to kiss her.

“Then let’s give ’em a show,” she said Zach cracked one of those disbelieving smiles and glanced toward the cameras.

“You guys want us to give you what you’re after?”

A chorus of “yeahs” erupted and Zach smiled, twirling her around so the majority of the crowd could get a good view. Deb grinned up at him, loving this fun side.

“Hey, you!” Zach said as he pointed to a particular photographer. “What kind of shot will get you the most money?”

 “Kiss her!” The others chimed in.

 “Feel her up!” the photographer called with a grin.

 Zach looked down at her, pure mischief dancing in the depths of his eyes. “You’re giving me permission to do this?”

 She shrugged. “Why not? We can always claim later it was a set up.”

He frowned. “Why? No reason for us to be ashamed. I’ve felt you up plenty before. And we are married.” Winking, he pulled her flush against him. “Everybody ready?” he called without taking his eyes off her.

 “I’m ready,” Deb whispered. Her body throbbed for his touch. With cameras perched, Zach kissed her. His tongue danced, mocking his mood, and she tried to catch him. Each time she thought he would settle in for a melting kiss, he withdrew and started all over again. The crowd voiced their displeasure. Silently, Deb booed too.

Tearing away, Zach held his hand up. “Hold on, guys. We’re just getting warmed up.” Deb grinned and shook her head. Zach’s mouth settled over hers quietly. The photographers melted away. His hands were at the base of her spine, holding her close. Without much effort, she rubbed discreetly against him and he responded accordingly. His kiss turned hot and fervent.

When each breath came quicker than the last and she felt out of control, the cheering brought her back to the present. Since Zach appeared to be more engrossed in other matters — like making her knees go weak — she reached around him and squeezed his butt. The crowd called out loudly and flashes were like strobe lights behind her lids.

Zach pulled away, throwing his head back and laughing heartily. “You amaze me, Deb. That’s what I love about you.” Deb smiled back at him as he kissed her once more before they waved to the crowd and left.

**Special Note** Tinseltown was previously released through another publisher. Astraea Press is re-releasing it in July 2013. Tinseltown will be exclusively available on Amazon. Purchase Link: AMAZON
STEPHANIE TAYLOR is a freelance editor, author and business owner. She spends her time making other authors’ dreams come true at Astraea Press as Editor in Chief and Owner. Stephanie opened Astraea Press because of the lack of non-erotic book publishers and has finally found a home for her books. Stephanie has a doctorate in multi-tasking and can actually walk a tightrope while balancing a dinner plate on her head and typing her next novel with the other. She lives in Alabama with her three children and her wonderful husband of eleven years.