blogging, writer's life

A New Direction

Heather headshotI mentioned last week that I’ve been searching for a new design for my website. We worked on ideas for ages, it seemed, sketching out new headers and debating the overall direction of my website. The more we worked on it, the more we discovered that I needed a clearer picture of what I want readers to know about me and my work. It’s hard to look at yourself and try to sum up your entire persona in one image or phrase. That’s called personal branding, and I’m not sure I’m quite there yet. Still, I feel that we’re getting closer. Here’s how we came up with my new theme:

1. Each of my books (so far) includes a big forest scene and to me a forest is always full of mystery and adventures lurk just around the next tree. I wanted to capture that air of mystery and excitement. Also, my lovely assistant suggested that I reminded her of a tree. So, there’s that…

2. We looked at illustrations and clipart of trees, but none of them seemed to capture the mood we were going for. So, in the end we opted for a stock photo. This was when we knew we were getting closer to our goal. The dark forest with it’s rugged pathway bathed in light and beckoning seemed to fit perfectly with the image we had in mind. It would’ve been easier to brand with an illustrated logo of a tree/forest, but we’ll have to find some way to work out that dilemma in the future. (If you’ve got any ideas, PLEASE share them in the comments below!)

3. Next for the tag line. How on earth do I narrow my work down to one short sentence? I’m basically summing up my entire mission as a writer. Yikes! We played with a lot of ideas, but most of them leaned toward one story line or another. I needed something that would work whether I was writing YA fantasy or contemporary romance (hey! It could happen!) Finally we decided on “Escape to another world” because it seemed to sum up what I hope readers will feel as they read my books. Some readers want to experience reality in a deeper way, but I write for those of you who want to escape reality altogether.

In the last week I’ve been reminded once again that I have no natural aptitude for graphic design, no matter how much I wish it weren’t true. I love images and the idea of creating just the right picture to illustrate a thought or a concept to the world. I deeply wish I could design my own covers and all of my own branding material, but it is a TON of work and in the end I”m not very good at it. After fighting with graphics for the last week we’ve decided to start learning Photoshop, so that should be an adventure! I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

We have a lot more to reveal in the next few weeks. I think it’s time you met my incredible assistant, LA. She has been working hard to give me young reader’s perspective and I’ve put her to work researching the best of the best. I can hardly wait to show you all that we’ve been working on lately. I’ve invited her to introduce herself to all of you tomorrow and she’s getting her own weekly spot on this blog so that you can see a little more of the behind-the-scenes work that goes on in this indie life. So, come back tomorrow and say hi to my sidekick.

What do you think of my new website header? What else do you hope to find here on HeatherSutherlin.com? Leave your suggestions in the comments below and maybe you’ll find your wish is granted the next time you stop by to visit.

Happy reading!

~Heather

Indie Authors, YA Author Club

Author Spotlight: Rachel Coles

Here’s another fabulous writer from the YA Author Club, Rachel Coles.
Rachel colesRachel Coles lives in Denver with her family in Denver, Colorado. She works in public health disaster preparedness. She enjoys researching mythology to incorporate into story-telling. Her family and friends share her enthusiasm for fantasy and science fiction, she is the proud mom of one of the youngest Trekkies in the state.
Social Media Sites:
Spotlight Author Questions
1. What is your all-time favorite book, and why?
I’m not sure I could pick a single one. One of my favorite series is Dan Simmons’ Hyperion series: Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, Rise of Endymion. I loved those books because they were complex, and when I put the last one down, it felt like my brain had changed after reading them. Mind-blowing. The series explored human evolution, not just physical, but religious and cultural, in the kind of time-span covered by Dune. It also explored artificial intelligence, in a different way than anything I’d read before. I also loved reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I always enjoy reading that because Discworld really picks you up and carries you away in the story. And that world is hilarious. Terry Pratchett takes typical tropes like vampires, dwarves, werewolves, etc, and turns everything on its head. He’s a really fun read, great for escaping. But I would say that the book whose phrases stayed with me for decades was either Something Wicked This Way Comes, or The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. He was one of the most poetic writers I’d ever seen, and really impressed upon me the power of words.
2. Is there an author you could be compared to or a popular fictional character you could relate to and why?
 I have been compared to Neil Gaiman once or twice, because of the mythological content of some of my stories. That absolutely makes me feel honored. He is another one of my favorite authors, and I have to admit that I’ve emulated him in a lot of ways. As for characters I could relate to, I guess I would have to say Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit. I come from a family of Hobbits, pretty much. We’re mostly little people who love to eat and talk, and eat and talk, and eat and talk. I’m mostly not exaggerating. When I went to my aunt’s retirement party, we stopped at a deli and got pounds of meat, knishes, whitefish salad, bagels etc, on the way to her place from the airplane. Two hours later, we went to her party at which we didn’t stop eating, talking, and dancing for five hours. And when we got home, we cracked open the leftovers and ate again, chatting around the kitchen table. And that was just the beginning of the weekend. Elevensies/luncheon/afternoon tea/dinner/supper, they all ran together. Somehow I’m not 800 pounds. That’s why I think we’re secretly Hobbits. I am specifically a bit like Bilbo Baggins because I like telling stories, I am a creature of habit, and don’t normally go for anything unexpected, but every once in a while, I throw my hands up, give in to my wild side, and get into trouble.
3. Can you give us your favorite quote from your book and explain it?
 My favorite quote, spoken by Pazuzu, is “I will do whatever I have to do to protect you, even if I do it poorly in your eyes. You are young and angry and nothing is as simple as you imagine.” I like it because Pazuzu’s Girl is partly about what it means to be a parent. Whatever his other flaws are, he loves his daughter, and insists on being a dad, even if it means Morpho is mad at him. It reminds me of what I have heard some parents say, ‘It’s not my job to be your friend, it’s my job to be your mom/dad.’ I’m sure that I will someday have this conversation with my daughter when she is a teenager, because I had it with my parents at some point.
4. What types of things/people/music inspires you and makes you want to keep on writing?
 Everything. I’m a space cadet and cannot stop daydreaming, and every experience I have somehow wends its way into a story. But specifically, I’m a child of the 80’s. I mostly listen to 80’s music because even though it’s corny often, there was an optimism then, and now a nostalgia. It’s energetic, bittersweet, and just kind of grabs my emotions. I write best when I’m caught up in some emotion or other. People who inspire me to keep writing are my family and friends. My daughter was the reason I started writing. She loves to hear bedtime stories, particularly scary stories. And when we had burned through all of the remotely age-appropriate scary stories we could find, we started making them up together. I started writing them down, and kept going. My husband who is my best friend is really supportive and beta-reads my stories. The writing group I’m part of, we critique each others material, and have peer-pressure writing nights and get each other to write (pssst, just a few words, you know you want to, all the cool kids are doing it…)
5. Describe your typical writing day or week.
 My writing can be kind of scattershot. I have weeks where I’ll sit up until midnight after my daughter goes to bed, and write every night. Other times, it’ll be only on peer-pressure writing night, when I take my daughter with me to Panera and she plays Minecraft, while we all write, though I often have her write me a story on her iPad too.
6. Is there a typical food/drink you have to have when you write?
 Well, I don’t know if I have a particular food or drink, whatever I’m in the mood for at the time. Usually iced tea of some kind. I’ve gotten into the habit of eating a Panera sandwich and soup, and one of their brownies. I love eating their brownies when I’m writing, and am sad when they’re all out by the time I get there. Their chocolate chip cookies are nice, gooey, and chewy too. But I can’t eat those every time I write, or I’d need a forklift to get me to the restaurant.
7. Can you tell us what you’re working on now, possibly an excerpt?
 I’m working on a sequel to Pazuzu’s Girl. For now the working title is Iron Butterfly. But I will probably change it, because there are really four main characters: Morpho– the demon Pazuzu’s daughter who is also part Sidhe, Ereshkigal–ruler of the Underworld, Ninhab Agresti–Morpho and JD’s high school principal and future consort of Ereshkigal, and Marduk–ancient god-king of Babylon now a CEO.
From ‘Iron Butterfly’
The tunnel went on in darkness for a ways. Morpho couldn’t tell how long. She had the feeling of rough walls on either side and above. The ground felt like loose dirt underneath her sneakers. But light grew ahead, and slowly they emerged out of the tunnel. There was sky overhead, but it wasn’t like any sky she’d ever seen. There was a moon like the moon outside in the regular world, except bigger, and brighter. It was clearer, and looked somehow like a bowl of molten silver dripping little pearls into the rest of the sky. The sky around the moon was deep emerald green shading into black velvet, which was littered with rainbow swaths of stars.

“Whoa.” JD stared around him at the thick bushes and trees. Their leaves were bronze and teardrop-shaped, with an iridescent sheen. Other bushes looked periwinkle blue in the glow from dozens of insectile motes that flitted away through the trees. The forest went dark, and she had somehow gotten the impression that they hadn’t been alone when they had come out. “Okay, then.” JD whispered. He kept going along a faint trail. “That was cool. Like Tinkerbell’s family.”
She looked back at the tunnel, but there was only foliage behind them. “Tunnel’s gone…Of course.” She muttered. “Okay.” She followed him until the trees thinned out to a broad plain of rolling grass-covered hills. The trail widened into a road that threaded through the swells of land. They had been walking for about five minutes, cresting the first hill when the baying started in the distance to the left. It got louder quickly as whatever made that sound came closer, but as she stared out at the hills, she couldn’t see anything, at first. Then a form took shape in the low mist that cloaked the valleys. As it got closer, it looked like a woman riding a chariot, that was drawn by the largest dogs she had ever seen. They were the size of horses, so black the light of the moon just sunk into their fur. Their ringed yellow and red eyes shone from their heads like lamps, and their sharp teeth were as black as obsidian. She didn’t get as far as noticing what the woman looked like.
“Oh hell!” Morpho and JD turned and ran.
“Change, Babe, change!” JD yelled to her. “They won’t be able to chase all of you!” he panted. “Or maybe you could test your Cuisinart wings move!”
She changed into a cloud of butterflies with razor wings and flew up into the sky above the chariot to get a vantage point, but the chariot had gained on JD. Then just when she thought that it couldn’t get worse, the chariot split into three. Three chariots, three sets of hellish dogs, and three women. They circled JD.
Leave him alone! She thought, as she dived at them. But the woman in the middle raised her hand, and suddenly, Morpho was human again as she slammed down onto the ground in front of the figure, whose hand was still outstretched toward her. Morpho couldn’t move, not even to turn her head, so she had a moment to see the women who had captured them. The tallest one had blazing red hair, not just Irish red, but so red it was almost like flames drifting around her head, barely restrained in long braids that were bound by delicate chains ending in tiny golden balls. She wore a gold circlet with swirls across the band. Her eyes were blood red. The woman to her left had a face very much like the red-haired woman, enough to be sisters. Her hair was as black as the messenger Raven’s wings, almost as black as the hell-hounds’ fur, absorbing light. Her black irises were like two holes in her eyeballs. Her nose was long and slightly curved, and her lips were thinner than her sister’s. The last woman was as pale as her sister was dark, the shortest of the three. She had pure white hair, as long as the other two. Her skin was the color of bone, and the eeriest part was her eyes. They were completely white. There were no pupils or irises, just milky white all the way across. They were terrible to look at, and oddly beautiful.
The red-haired one spoke. “You certainly are curious little creatures, aren’t you? Lugh told us you were coming. I warned your mother that you would be too curious for your own good at some point. I told her you would be your father’s child.”
“Who are you?” Morpho choked and strained against the force that held her head down. It released suddenly, and she sat up, spitting soil.
“I am Nemain. We are the Morrigan. We rule here. You would do well to show us some respect. Especially since you are trespassing.”
“Lugh is here? He told you about…us?” She glanced at JD. The dogs stood in front of him, a low rumbling growl issuing from their throats.
“Yes, though Macha saw that you would come.” She nodded at the white sister.
“Uh, sorry, we didn’t mean to trespass.” JD gulped, looking at the length of the dogs’ teeth.
The black-haired sister turned to her sibling, opened her mouth and a caw bordering on a shriek came out. It wasn’t amiable, like Raven’s caw. It was sharp and dangerous. Her nose seemed longer and her lips and white teeth seemed sharper.
Nemain studied JD. “Badb says you are young and…cute, like a lapdog. She wants to let you live, for now. Very well.” She reached over Morpho, as if her arm simply stretched and grew. Her long-fingered white hand grasped the back of Morpho’s shirt and hauled her up as if she were a kitten, into the chariot and dumped her at her slippered feet. Badb took JD. His face was frozen somewhere between terror and the goofy look he got when he stared at his busty guitar girl posters. If Morpho had been closer to him, she would have smacked him. But then, the chariots took off with a lurch and they were moving so swiftly she didn’t have a chance to do anything but slit her eyes against the wind as they flew. Everything turned grey and when she looked down at her hands, they seemed insubstantial, like mist. The dogs, JD, Badb and Macha, all of them seemed to blend into the grey so their edges blurred. She didn’t want to turn and see the red-haired queen behind her. And then, they slowed to a halt. Now, they were in a circle of grey stones so tall, the shadows they cast from the moon must have spread across the plain they were on for a mile. And across the shadows, filling up the plain behind them were hosts of fairies of all kinds. At least that’s what Morpho thought they were when the chariots pulled around. There were some very powerful looking fairies around a semicircle of thrones in the center of the stone circle. Their thrones were all different too. One of them was made of what looked like carved amber, inlaid with gold in the same swirling designs as the red-haired queen’s circlet. Another was made entirely of silver, another of pure gold, shining in the moonlight. Another appeared to be made of woven branches and soft emerald moss. Lounging in the amber throne, was Lugh, their erstwhile legal guardian. He had a gold circlet around his forehead, the only thing controlling his wild tawny locks. He wore what looked like a fine red linen tunic with gold embroidery and woolen plaid leggings.
“Hi, luv! Took you long enough.”
“You knew we were coming.” Morpho said.
“I’ve been livin’ with you for almost a year. And I know your mama.”
“So…you’re not mad? That we, uh, poked around and, uh, followed you?”
“I didn’t say that.” His pale eyes flickered for a moment with golden light. “But you’re my cousin’s girl. I’m under a geas that I’d look after you if something happened to…the other side o’ yer family.”
“Under a what?”
He smiled grimly. “Geas. An oath.”
“Oh.” She swallowed, somehow deflated.
“Relax, I like you. I like yer boy too,” he nodded at JD, “or we’d be havin’ a very different conversation right now.”
 “Do you vouch for them, Lugh Lamfada?” The man who sat in the golden throne boomed. Though he was seated, he was obviously tall and powerfully built. His hair was silver. He had none of the other marks of advanced age, but Morpho could tell he was old. Really old. Not crusty though. He radiated power. He had the bearing most jocks took steroids to try to look like, with half the brains.
“I do, your Highness.” Lugh inclined his head.
The Morrigan hauled her and JD out of their chariots in front of the King. Then the chariots collapsed into a single throne made of black sharp rock and padded with what Morpho seriously hoped wasn’t human skin. There were six heads tied by the hair onto the sides of the throne. And instead of three women, there was only Nemain now. She stared at Morpho. Her expression was somewhere between contempt and curiosity. Either way, it was unsettling. She said nothing.
 
 Books by Rachel Coles
Pazuzu's girlPazuzu’s Girl – Morpho Wilson thought her life was difficult enough. Her father is Pazuzu, the Mesopotamian demon of plague and the Southwest wind. As a teenager Morpho struggles against her father, while trying to adjust to high school in a new neighborhood. The family is constantly moving in an attempt to elude Pazuzu’s murderous ex-wife, a demoness known for killing children.Then something unique happens. A socially-impaired classmate becomes so intrigued by Morpho that he pursues her, despite the mystery surrounding her family and the danger that accompanies it.

But before their romance can grow the demoness tracks Morpho down, and now only needs an ancient artifact called the Tablet of Destiny to complete the destruction of the world. The tablet confers on its owner the ability to control the fate of everything and everyone on earth.

Once the tablet is discovered in the Middle East, the oldest and most powerful gods begin a battle for its possession, with the human population caught in the middle. Morpho, her family, and her new friend must decide, do they escape from the horrifying demoness or fight for their own destiny. How far will Pazuzu go to save his daughter from a hellish fate? Will his banishment from Heaven so many millennia ago end up being a curse…or a blessing?

Into the RuinsInto The Ruins is an urban fantasy anthology featuring life-changing or world-changing events. They feature everything from comic horror, as in Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie, horror, as in Mushrooms, historical fantasy, as in Plagues, science fiction, as in Whistles, and finally a fun animal story, as in Beergarden.In Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie, Detective Nate Mallon investigated vice, when he was alive. Being a police officer was his life. Even dying didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for solving his last case. However, there are others who aren’t ready to be dead yet, and they aren’t trying to solve cases. They are at the center of them.

In Mushrooms, Kallie and Mark Sangiovi didn’t live complicated lives. They enjoyed their humble home in Denver, fresh food, and most of all: each other’s company. But one strange summer in 2011, everything changed. What begins with an invasion of ants, and summer colds, brings them to the brink of death, in a few days. And they aren’t the only ones. During this time, Denver becomes an eerie city, populated by the sick, whose imperative is to bite the people closest to them. The city grows still as the epidemic progresses, and Kallie and Mark leave the human race behind.

In Plagues, Miryam, humble daughter of Hebrews, doesn’t have many aspirations as a slave in the city of Ra’amses. It might not be much, but the stability of her husband, child, and home are enough for her to live her life as it is. Her brother, Moses, raised in the Pharaoh’s palace and ‘touched by God’, has grander aspirations for their entire people. But there are many sides to the growing conflicts. The political situation deteriorates in Mitzrayim with the rising power of Ramses, and the advent of terrible environmental disasters. And Miryam finds that her friendship with her Egyptian neighbor, Acenath, means as much to her as her religion.

Beyond the VeilBeyond The Veil is an anthology of ghost and spirit stories that encompass everything from vengeance, closure, or justice from beyond the grave, to portals from which sinister things can enter our world. Take a ride through these stories and explore some of the possibilities of existence beyond life.Bees of St. John:
Shana Latray needs a vacation. Her life as a telecommunications service provider feels like a dead end. St. John of the Virgin Islands seems like paradise, but behind the frozen drinks, and the beaches, is a complicated history of invasion and ancient predators. Shana Latray realizes quickly that nothing, from the warm, friendly locals, to the ever-present bees among the profuse tropical flowers, are at all what they seem.

Kisses:
Terry Cooper always hated Valentine’s Day, more so since losing her husband. In fact, she hated it so much, she inadvertently put a curse on it. Now, dreadful things are happening on this romantic holiday, as anyone who is kissed will die. And in the midst of this crisis, is a strange ancient ghost warning Terry that only she can revoke the curse. But she doesn’t know how. What she does know is that if she doesn’t find a way, for hundreds of people across the city, their Valentine’s Day kisses will be their last.

Tribulations of a Jewish Vampire:
Becoming a vampire was not on Leah Horowitz’s list of life goals. Contrary to all the romantic and dark hype about the sexy life of vampires in the movies and books, Leah’s life, when she was turned after her fatal motorcycle accident was anything but glamorous. With no guidance but her still human wedding-happy cousin, her orthodox Jewish aunt, and skeptical mother, she almost dies as her culture and her needs as a vampire clash.

Full Circle:
Life for Jim Red Eagle and his family is unfair. He is an auto-mechanic in his Lakota community, who runs a simple honest business. When his son is involved in an accident that leaves him paralyzed, and he can’t seem to find anyone who can help them, he starts falling apart. As he sits in the hospital chapel, wondering what to do, a mysterious Irishman shows up. As the two men get to know each other, and the man’s shocking history are revealed, Jim finds that good deeds in the past can return in forms he never expected.

The Muse:
Do you ever feel like statues can hear you, see you, feel your presence? Eliza Shourd is a sometime sculptor, filling credits with an art class while she works through another degree. But after falling asleep by the Platte River in the middle of the night, and waking up to a disturbing drawing she didn’t remember doing, her life, and her art takes a turn for the dark. When people in her life begin disappearing, she returns to the river to find out why.

You can follow Rachel at her blog and find out more about the authors of the YA Indie Carnival at our website where we just posted a cover reveal of Witch Hearts by Liz Long. Tomorrow, meet KC Blake, author of books filled with vampires, werewolves and witches. Oh my!

Happy reading!
~ Heather

Indie Authors

Author Spotlight: Bryna Butler

Happy Friday! Today I’m introducing you to another fabulous author from the Indie YA Author Club, Bryna Butler. Bryna’s young adult paranormal novels feature strong female leads and are woven from elements of horror, suspense, comedy, and mystery, all in a modern, small town setting. Here’s what Bryna had to say when we gave her the YA Indie Carnival quiz:

What is your all-time favorite book and why?
I adore The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Its style is like nothing else I’ve ever read. I found it to be almost hypnotic with its imagery and near poetic cadence.

Is there an author you could be compared to or popular fictional characters your book’s characters could relate to and why? 
Because I tend to write about strong female characters, I think that one could draw a comparison with Charlaine Harris.  I had the opportunity to meet her this summer and, to my surprise, she is a down-to-earth hillbilly just like me.
Can you give us your favorite quote from one of your books and explain it?
 One of my favorite quotes comes from my newest book, Shadows Rising. In this scene, Keira faces off against the leader of a group of extremists that believe her charge is keeping her from her destiny. I think this quote is a great mix of Keira’s courage and her youth.
 “You keep yapping about my charge being a distraction, but here I am dealing with you again. Leave us and my charge alone or die tonight at my hand. I mean it, jerk wad.”
What types of things/people/music inspires you and makes you want to keep writing?
 I’m very inspired by my favorite authors. I often name characters, places and things in my stories in homage to these authors and their work. For instance, in the Midnight Guardian series there is a goth girl named Mikayla Collins whom everyone calls Mikey. Mikey is clearly named in honor of Michael Glass and Shane Collins, two of my favorite characters from Rachel Caine’s Morganville series. Her goth look comes from another beloved character in that series. Also, I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan (who isn’t?). If you look hard enough, you will find several subtle references to Buffy and Firefly sprinkled throughout my books.
Describe your typical writing day or week.
 Just call me the “Night Writer”, not because it sounds like an insanely cool superhero, but because it is true. For me, writing typically begins after the kids are tucked into bed somewhere around 9 p.m. I grab a soda from the fridge and settle in with my laptop. Typically, I first re-read and edit the last thing I wrote before I start writing anything new. That refreshes it in my mind and allows me to move forward.
Is there a food or drink do you have to have when you’re writing?
 I can’t eat while I write. Sounds good in theory, but it never works in practical application. BBQ sauce on the keys…melted cheese on the screen…a whole chapter about brownies.
Can you tell us what you’re working on right now (& possibly provide an excerpt & cover)?
 Shadows Rising was released on January 18th. In this 4th installment in the Midnight Guardian series, Keira and her friends race to rescue her charge before The Harvest and the rise of a new form of evil, the shadows.
Book 5 is well underway with the working title of Book of the Lost and an anticipated late spring release. I’ve also begun work on a young adult werewolf trilogy set in Alaska. The story centers on a girl that walks the line between two feuding werewolf packs.
 OF SUN & MOON (Midnight Guardian #1)
Teens are disappearing in a small river town in southern Ohio as Keira Ryan begins her freshman year. Kidnappings aside, her worries mount as she crushes on an older guy, her best friend starts dating a spoiled cheerleader, and the parents that abandoned her at birth arrive at her doorstep. And, oh yeah, she’s a tooth fairy destined to kick some butt and bring about the end of a royal line of vicious, blood-sucking tyrants. Over the years, humans have pieced together sightings and assumptions to create the myth of the tooth fairy. As it turns out, they were pretty much wrong.
WHISPERING EVIL (Midnight Guardian #2)
Keira Ryan has moved on. It’s the start of her sophomore year at Valley View High School. This means big changes like a new guardian mentor, taking (and passing) her driver’s test, dating her best friend, and figuring out how to stop the new Empress Gammen and her reign of terror. Will she survive it all or will she fall victim to the whispering evil that surrounds her?
MIDNIGHT CHILD (Midnight Guardian #3)
Join Keira Ryan as she chases her destiny in this exciting third installment in the Midnight Guardian Series. While Keira searches, her enemies draw closer. A history of trust is tested. A promise of passion turns deadly. A surviving evil creates doubt and there’s only one way to stop it…Find the Gift. Just what do you get the spoiled gremlin queen that has everything?
SHADOWS RISING (Midnight Guardian #4)
Senior year has begun. Keira Ryan should be worrying about the two boys that are vying for her heart. She should be worrying about Prom. She should be worrying about graduation. But instead of a dress, she’s choosing which dagger to carry. In this fourth installment in the series, Keira and her friends race against time to rescue her charge before The Harvest. They must hurry. Their enemies are bringing forth a new evil to sway the balance. The shadows are rising.
Exclusive Shadows Rising Excerpt that you will only see on YA Indie Carnival author sites…
The night was warm, even though a slight breeze stirred. Keira made her way through the soybean field. She knew the way over the uneven path, even if she couldn’t see. That was nearly the case as clouds worked to block out the moon and stars. The air was thick; the kind that always preceded the summer rain.
As the dirt started to dimple here and there, her steps came quicker. Cool drops chilled her shoulders left bare by her tank top. Steps turned into a jog as the two-story farmhouse came into sight. If she ran hard enough, she could reach his porch before the downpour.
In seconds, she covered the yard. Just a few strides more would land her on the steps where she could wait out the rain on the porch.
Maybe that’s why it happened. Keira was so focused on escaping the rain. Her sneaker slid on the wet grass. Arms circled wildly over her head, eager to find balance or support. They landed on clean, soft cloth. Her feet skittered beneath her as the man under the white robe grabbed her hair and pulled her head back.
“The guardian,” a whisper rose and echoed among the small group. “The guardian,” their murmurs above the tumbles of the strengthening rain. “The guardian.”
Hands flew to her sides and held her arms out. She pulled against them, but there were too many. “Let me go,” she screamed.
Immediately, they let go. She hadn’t expected it and fell on her knees.
“We wish you no harm, guardian. We have come for the midnight child. Trust that this is for the best,” a tall man said. His mouth barely moved, unmarked by expression or emotion of any kind.
Rain began to pour over them. Keira scanned the group to etch every face into her memory; two eager young men, perhaps twins, with strong chins and light coloring; a plump, young woman with red curls falling out of her hooded cloak; a buxom brunette with a permanent sneer; and a mustached brute with a nasty scar through his left eyebrow.
Then, her eyes flickered back to the leader, a bald man with soulless black eyes. Him she knew. It had taken her only a moment to realize he was the one that crashed Jumper’s last Halloween party. He had come for her charge that night too.
“You know that I will never allow you to take him.”
“Your loyalty is misplaced with the Hayes family,” the bald man answered with a voice that chilled her to the bone. “Allow us to remove the distraction so that you may fulfill your true destiny.”
“He is not a midnight child. He is my charge.”
“He is of no consequence.”
A crack sounded, causing everyone to look up. A dark figure stood on the edge of the roof. He stepped forward and landed softly on the ground. He stood tall beside Keira.
Brun’s voice was heavy with anger. “You heard her. The child is not to be touched.”
“But…” the leader of the group started.
His dispute was not heard because Brun was behind him in the next second. The shine of Brun’s short sword glistened at the man’s ear.
“If you will not listen, perhaps you do not need this ear,” Brun growled. “From this day forward, let it be known that the guardian and I both protect this child. Whoever dares to approach him will succumb to the full wrath of the Empire and Elsted. You will leave now…ahhh!”
The leader wrenched his dagger out of Brun’s side. Blood dripped from the dagger’s edge. Brun stumbled back, his face a mixture of disbelief and horror.
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Next week on the YA Indie Carnival we’ll be discussing Barnes & Noble and Nook apps. All the YA author club members will weigh in on how we feel about working with B&N, so stop by and check it out. Happy reading!