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Eep! M9B Friday Reveal: THE PALADINS (THE ARTISANS 2) Cover and Chapter One @Month9Books

Hey everybody!
Today is my reveal day for the cover and first chapter of THE PALADINS,
book 2 in THE ARTISANS Series which releases May 3, 2016!
Be sure to enter the the contest at the bottom of this post to be one of
the first readers to receive an eGalley and an eBook of THE ARTISANS!!


When Month9Books asked me how I liked my cover,
I cheered and said a lot of things like Yeeesssss, and Whoo-hoo, and  then I got it together
and said the following …

 

My respect for cover artists has grown exponentially after entering the world of publishing.

I learned the challenge of a good cover artist is to hint at the story beneath
using a single image. They must create a picture that suggests to perspective
readers what lies within those hundreds of pages—using nothing more than
specific font and a few square inches of graphic design. It seems impossible, yet most of us agree that art evokes emotion. And when I saw my cover, I was overwhelmed.

The Paladins is dark. And this cover is dark.
The story is a Gothic tale, mysterious and eerie. And while parts of this world
are beautiful, beauty is often deceptive. You’re never quite sure if something
lurks in the shadows, where the path you tread is leading, or even if what you
see is real … until it’s too late.

On to the reveal!!!

 
 
Title: THE PALADINS (The Artisans #2)
Author: Julie Reece (That’s me!)
Pub. Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback and  eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD | BAM | Kobo |
 
BLURB:
 The Artisan curse is broken. Souls trapped in a mysterious otherworld called The Void are finally released. Now, Raven Weathersby, Gideon Maddox, and Cole Wynter can finally move on with their lives…or so they thought. If the ancient magic is truly dead, then why are mystical fires plaguing Gideon at every turn? What accounts for Raven’s frightening visions of her dead mother? And who is the beautiful, tortured girl haunting Cole’s dreams?

Last year, a group of lonely teens sacrificed secrets, battled the supernatural, and faced their own demons to set one another free. Yet six months later, the heart of evil still beats within The Void. And the trio is forced to face the horrific truth: that their only way out is to go back in.

The Paladins completes this eerie YA Southern Gothic where loyalties are tested, love is challenged, and evil seeks them on the ultimate battlegrounds—in their minds, their souls, and their hearts.

 
In case you missed it, here’s the redesigned cover for THE ARTISANS!
 
 
Title: THE ARTISANS
Author: Julie Reece (Yup, me again.)
Pub. Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books
Pages: 300
Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads
 
BLURB:
They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Raven Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.

To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.

Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad’s drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.

But Raven’s stepdad’s drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she’s ever known out of jail, or worse.

Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries’ clothing line, signing over her creative rights.

Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can’t imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.
But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?
Excerpt

Prologue The Before

Cole

It’s been four years since I planted the fireworks in Gideon Maddox’s locker that burned a third of his face.

Four years since his father took revenge, trapping me with a spell that kept me prisoner in The Void.

Three months since the magic found me again.

Two months since my parents put me in therapy.

One day since my parents left for Paris on a month long business tour.

This morning, a mysterious girl no one else can see beckoned again from The Void.

Tonight, I’m standing on the balcony of my parent’s palatial home, buying an airline ticket back to the states—back to Maddox mansion—the heart of my nightmares.

People say the more things change the more they stay the same. I hate them for being right. I lived with the monsters in my prison until I thought I might go mad. Repentant of my past, I made peace with my fate, my eternity. Until the day I was freed, because a stranger had the courage to help.

This time someone needs me.

How can I doom a girl to a fate I barely escaped?

There’s only one answer.

I can’t.

Chapter One

Cole

A bottle-green fly hums, rubbing his tiny legs together as though he’s plotting something. The insect seems a dirty ornament on the shiny desk nameplate he sits upon. Gold on gold, the engraved letters read Navin Cahvan M.D. This is the third psychiatrist I’ve met in as many weeks. Part of my mother’s plan to fix me. Jumpy nerves, insomnia, nightmares about demons when I finally do fall sleep—these are her justifications. Everyone tries to shrink me like a cheap T-shirt in the dryer.

The tawny-skinned man across the desk folds his knotted fingers over his belly and stares. Dark eyes track my movements beneath two bushy white eyebrows. “Mr. Wynter?”

Right. He asked a question. The fly hums again, wings fluttering against his hairy back. My head pounds, my clothes scratch, eyes burn, and my ears are raw with the smallest sounds echoing deep inside.

When Dr. Cahvan shifts, the leather seat groans in protest. “I can help you. But you must tell me the truth.”

All I hear is Jack Nicholson screaming the line from A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!”

“Trust me, Cole. Tell me your secret thoughts.”

Trust you? Sure. I tell you what happened and you lock me away forever on meds that keep me drooling, while I play dominoes with people who see giant, pink rabbits. No thanks.

He leans forward. His fingers thread together as his hands rest on the desktop. He taps his thumbs together. “I assure you this is a safe place. I call it … the circle of trust.”

Give me a break. You want me to tell you how I was a mean, dangerous kid. Confess that because I tormented a crippled boy, his father used a magic camera to trap me in an alternate universe as punishment. Explain how I lived a half-life in the Maddox mansion for four years until Raven Weathersby rescued me. About how much I miss her and think about going back someday … Maybe I am insane.
“Let’s discuss something else.”

I find his suggestion amusing since I’ve barely said ten words in the past hour, and our time is almost up.
The good doctor shifts again. “Instead of talking about the past, why not speak of the present. How are you adjusting to life at home? I understand your parents had a welcome home party when you first arrived. How did that go?”

How do you think? “Swell.” I would have preferred stuffing my hand in a high-speed blender. A hundred people that I hadn’t seen since I was fifteen—and couldn’t care less to see again—showed up to shake my hand and recite all they’d ever read about amnesia, the lie Gideon made up to cover my absence. “I really just need some space.”

“And you got your wish, did you not? I understand your parents left town yesterday. How does being alone again so soon make you feel?”

Incredibly pissed. “They’ve always been busy people. I’m used to them traveling.” But I wasn’t. I thought with all the time apart, my parents might want to stick around a while. Be a family. Nope. Since appearances mean everything, they threw a party right away to show their friends and colleagues how fine I was. The powerful and highly regarded Mr. and Mrs. Wynter pulled out all the stops to prove their love for their long lost son: fine wine, catered dinner, china, crystal, even a string quartet. Yet, my father couldn’t keep the disappointment from his face any more than my mother could drown her misery in vodka.

Perhaps to appease their consciences, my folks hooked me up with doctors and provided for my physical needs before bailing. But a new car and an obscenely padded bank account wasn’t what I needed. So easily brushed aside again, I couldn’t help but wonder if parts of them were relieved when I’d disappeared four years ago.

Dr. Cahvan’s eyes narrow. “So, you remember your life up until your trip to the States?”

“Yes.” I’m lying about my amnesia. I know it. He knows it. So do my parents, but it’s too late to come up with a better story … like being the victim of a cult brainwashing or joining a psychedelic commune. I drank a different brand of Kool-Aid in Sales Hollow, South Carolina, and I can never tell a soul.

The fly zings to the window. I flinch as the buzzing is magnified ten times in my head. It takes all my will not to jump up and smash the bug against the glass. The doctor watches me with sharp eyes trained to interpret body language. I hold his gaze, though my skin breaks out in a sweat. A sudden wind rattles the panes, and I startle.

Cahvan’s mouth crimps at the corners. “Rather breezy today,” he says, glancing out the window at the quiet, blue sky.

Who cares about the weather? I have to give the old guy something before I start whining about magic spells, heightened senses, or worse: how my daddy never loved me.

I blow out a breath. “Look, some things seem familiar, others are confusing. I don’t need a doctor. I need time.” I only meant to throw him a bone so he’d have something to report when my parents call, but my body heats as I talk. Anger, resentment, and fear all claw their way up my throat and charge out of my mouth before I can stop them. “Time I can’t get back where I finish school, date hot girls, and grow up like normal kids do. I’m trying. Doing the best I can, but what I don’t need is to sit in rooms with smug strangers who are paid to dissect my brain over things I can’t explain, and neither of us will ever understand!” I drag my fingers through my shaggy hair. “That time is gone. I’m pissed off, and I guess I’ll be pissed off until I’m not anymore.”

Dr. Cahvan rubs his jaw. “That’s very interesting, Cole.”

My laugh is harsh. Not that any of this is funny. “Is it?”

“Yes. Thank you for your honesty today.” His bushy eyebrows push together. “Thank you for entering the circle of trust and allowing me to help you. Please see my secretary on your way out and make another appointment for next week.”

Seriously? I stand and head for the door. Oh, I’ll see your secretary, all right. I’ll nod as I walk right past her. He didn’t help me. No one can. There are a lot of things I need. But touchy-feely therapy with Doctor Eyebrows isn’t one of them.

***

After the awkward “circle of trust” episode, I can’t decide what to do with myself. I don’t want to be around people, but I don’t want to go home to an empty house either, so I wind up in the rambling cemetery a couple miles from our house.

I like it here and come pretty often just to think. Crumbling grave markers bear witness to France’s rich history, even with the chiseled dates worn and fading with time. Moss, ivy, and ancient trees lend beauty and peace to a place that soothes my soul. I’m not trying to be morbid. I never kept company with the dead. We were the undead, in a non-sparkly kind of way.

I’m not stupid enough to think I’ll discover the meaning of life. I’m just trying to find meaning in mine.

After surviving a half-death, I’ve been given a second chance. Trouble is, I don’t know what to do with it.
The sun is too hot on my back. No sooner does the thought cross my mind, when a friendly breeze tousles my hair like an old friend. I pull my cell from my pocket and stare at Raven’s number. She said to call her anytime, and I do. Gideon said to call her if I wanted my arse kicked. Typical. He’s still that insecure kid deep down. Still trying to prove himself, as he tries to control everyone and everything within his reach, just like his old man taught him.

Should have known something was wrong when I first got the invitation to visit Gideon in America all those years ago. My parents were so happy Maddox Senior wasn’t pressing charges; they actually thought the gesture was an attempt at friendship. Of course, Mum and Dad sent me packing complete with an olive branch in my mouth. That gesture of goodwill got my picture taken and a trip to The Void with a bunch of vengeful old guys from the early nineteen hundreds and a hot blond with twisted taste in men. We spent our days trying to escape that hell. The labyrinth’s ghouls, the surreal existence of consciousness without a physical body, and the constant pain of regret all earmarked a life that wasn’t.

Until her.

My fingers comb the grass at my sides. I close my eyes and feel the day’s warmth on my face, the wind threading through my thin tee. I may look like a freak, but I can’t stop touching everything around me. While I was gone, I missed the sensation of air in my lungs, the taste of coffee, the sweet sensation of a kiss …

My thumb starts dialing Rae’s number.

Cole …

Shite. Here we go again.

Come to me, Cole …

I wonder if I sounded this creepy to Raven when I begged for her help.

Veins at my temples pulse. Leaves shake and laugh in the breeze, the echo reverberating in my head. “Who are you? What do you want with me?” I want to stand, but my limbs weigh a hundred pounds each. My lungs deflate under the crushing pressure, and I struggle to breathe.

The scenery of oaks and elms surrounding the cemetery blur into a muddy gray-green wall, and I know what’s happening. Gravestones push up from the ground like gnashing teeth and recede again until the ground transforms into a smooth, stone floor. The world of pedestrians, car horns, and singing birds around the graveyard fade to a quiet worse than death. My body rejects the idea of gravity. The weightlessness of being sucked back into The Void again invades my person like a virus, spreading into my muscles and bones, my very essence.

I will the door of my mind closed to shut out the transformation. I place a mental shield before the magic so it won’t consume me, but magic has a will of its own. It snakes under the imaginary door I’ve erected in my head, enveloping me. I thrash, but it’s useless. My soundless screaming and mind-withering despair only seems to feed The Void’s strength.

When I open my eyes, the cemetery is gone. I shift on a cold, damp floor, taking in my new surroundings. I’ve seen this place before, several times. The space is a circular stone room with two tall, skinny windows allowing diffused light inside. A bed sits across from me. Downy quilts worn and faded with use cover the straw mattress. On the wall, a huge, gilt-framed mirror reflects the room where a pretty blond sits in a hardback chair. Watching me.

I’m familiar with strange, but not with sad, soul-eating eyes like hers.

When she rises, I feel like I should thank her, because light from the window shows her curves through an ultra-thin nightdress. The sight chokes my airflow for a whole different reason.

ThinkofRaventhinkofRaventhinkofRaven.

I’m so not thinking of Raven. For all my faults, I’m not the cheating type, but I am a guy, and this girl is seriously fit! I want to touch her in the worst way, but I swallow instead. Attempting to be a gentleman, I lift my gaze and focus on the far wall, yet somehow—because I’m still a guy—I end up watching the way her hair hangs in white blond waves to her thighs. Her rosebud mouth opens slightly. Pleading eyes, more silver than blue, threaten to pull me under and drown me. None of this helps curb my impulse to reach for her.

Then I think about how she brought me here against my will, and that helps tamp down the hormones.

Cole.

What do you want?

Can’t you guess?

I can. I pleaded with Raven for the same help not too long ago. Inside The Void, I thought I’d met everyone. The ones that Maddox had imprisoned, and the indigenous inhabitants of the labyrinth. I hadn’t known there were any others.

The drip-drop of a leaky faucet is the only sound as I gather my thoughts. “Who are you? Where are you? I don’t understand what’s happening. Where is this place? Did Gideon put you here?” I rattle off my questions not pausing for a response.

She doesn’t answer. Maybe she can’t.

Wind picks up, whooshing through the hollow room, though the windows are shut. The sound grows, as though someone dropped a microphone in a washing machine. I grit my teeth against the noise. My mind squeezes in the pressurized vacuum.

Cole … She extends a thin, white hand.

I remember Raven. How she fell to her knees on the floor of the mill house when we first met. Pain rips into my psyche, claws at my sanity. The same way I’m sure it did hers.

“I’m sorry. Forgive me, Raven. I didn’t know.”

… My name is Rosamond …

Stone walls smear and fade, the beautiful girl along with them. I can’t breathe. Then, the faint outline of tree tops bleed back into view.

… Rosamond Bryer …

My panting rivals an overheated Saint Bernard. Grass pokes my palms. Rough bark scrapes my spine through my T-shirt. Any trace of the castle turret is erased as the same decrepit cemetery I know solidifies, and the garden is as it was before.

Almost …

I’m leaning against an old tree, yet my cell and sunglasses still lie next to the rose bushes where I was sitting, almost twenty feet away. I have no memory of moving. How did I get way over here?

Both hands plow through my hair with my exhale. What the bloody hell just happened? Am I imagining this? A nightmare left over from the reality of my imprisonment. Or is the girl real? Trapped like I was and waiting for someone with the courage to free her.

Is that someone me? I’ve been a lot of things, but brave isn’t one of them. To help her means going back to the mansion.

No. I definitely do not need this shite. I’m starting over, leaving that life behind. Yet, the haunted expression on the girl’s face tugs at me. Something about her seems familiar. I’m gutted over how she reached for me. Raven doubted, too, but not for long. If the blond is real, then she’s really in trouble. And if she’s really in trouble, what, if anything, are you prepared to do about it, Cole Wynter?

 

Thanks for stopping and happy YA reading!

 Find me here: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive an eBook of THE
ARTISANS and an eGalley of THE PALADINS. International.

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Release Day Giveaway: The Lingering Grace (The Looking Glass #2) by @jess_s_arnold @Month9Books

The Lingering Grace RDB

 

Happy Release Day to

The Lingering Grace (The Looking Glass #2)
by Jessica Arnold!!

Join us in celebrating this release from Month9Books!

Enter the giveaway found at the end of the post.

Happy Book Birthday, Jessica!

 

The Lingering Grace Cover new

 

All magic comes with a price.

The new school year brings with it a welcome return to normalcy after Alice’s narrow escape from a cursed hotel while on summer vacation. But when a young girl drowns in a freak accident that seems eerily similar to her own near-death experience, Alice suspects there might be something going on that not even the police can uncover.

The girl’s older sister, Eva attends Alice’s school, and Alice immediately befriends her. But things change when when Alice learns that Eva is determined to use magic to bring her sister back. She must decide whether to help Eva work the highly dangerous magic or stop her at all costs. After all, no one knows better than Alice the true price of magic.

add to goodreads

The Lingering Grace (The Looking Glass #2)
by Jessica Arnold
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books

Google Play | Chapters |Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

 

OTHER BOOK(S) IN THE SERIES:

 

The-Looking-Glass-Cover

 

Find the diary, break the curse, step through The Looking Glass!

Fifteen-year-old Alice Montgomery wakes up in the lobby of the B&B where she has been vacationing with her family to a startling discovery: no one can see or hear her. The cheap desk lights have been replaced with gas lamps and the linoleum floor with hardwood and rich Oriental carpeting. Someone has replaced the artwork with eerie paintings of Elizabeth Blackwell, the insane actress and rumored witch who killed herself at the hotel in the 1880s. Alice watches from behind the looking glass where she is haunted by Elizabeth Blackwell. Trapped in the 19th-century version of the hotel, Alice must figure out a way to break Elizabeth’s curse—with the help of Elizabeth’s old diary and Tony, the son of a ghost hunter who is investigating the haunted B&B—before she becomes the inn’s next victim.

add to goodreads

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About-the-Author2

Jessica Arnold

Jessica Arnold lives (in an apartment) and works (in a cubicle) in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a master‘s degree in publishing and writing from Emerson College.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

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Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

 

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Release Day Giveaway : Ashes in the Sky (Fire in the Woods #2) by @JenniferMEaton @Month9Books

Happy Book Birthday!!!

AshesInTheSkyRDB

 

Happy Release Day to my friend and pub sister!!

Ashes in the Sky (Fire in the Woods #2)
by Jennifer M. Eaton!!

Join us in celebrating this release from Month9Books!

Enter the giveaway found at the end of the post.

Happy Book Birthday,Jennifer!

 

AshesInTheSkyCover

 

After inadvertently saving the world, eighteen-year-old Jessica Martinez is ready to put adventure behind her and settle back into the familiar routine of high school.

Though when she’s offered an opportunity to photograph the inside of an alien space ship, Jess jumps at the chance. After all, she’d be crazy to turn something like that down, right?

Spending time with David on the ship has definite advantages and the two seem to pick up right where they left off. But when Jess discovers a plot to sabotage David’s efforts to establish a new home for his people on another planet, neither David’s advanced tech nor Jess’s smarts will be able to save them.

ASHES IN THE SKY is an action-packed, romantic Sci Fi adventure that will leave readers screaming for more.

add to goodreads

Ashes in the Sky (Fire in the Woods #2) by Jennifer M. Eaton
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books

BAM | Google Play | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

 

OTHER BOOK(S) IN THE SERIES:

 

Fire-in-the-Woods-Cover

 

When a plane crashes in the woods near Jess’s home, the boy of her dreams falls out of the sky—literally. But David’s not here to find a girlfriend. He’s from another planet, and if Jess can’t help him get back to his ship, he’ll be stuck on Earth with nothing to look forward to but the pointy end of a dissection scalpel.

But her father runs their house like an army barracks, and with an alien on the loose, Major Dad isn’t too keen on the idea of Jess going anywhere. Ever. So how the heck is she supposed to help the sweetest, strangest, and cutest guy she’s ever met?

Hiding him in her room probably isn’t the best idea. Especially since her Dad is in charge of the squadron searching for David. That doesn’t mean she won’t do it. It just means she can’t get caught.

Helping David get home while protecting her heart—that’s gonna be the hard part. After all, she can’t really fall for a guy who’s not exactly from here.

As they race through the woods with Major Dad and most of the U.S. military one breath behind them, Jess and David grow closer than either of them anticipated. But all is not what it seems. David has a genocide-sized secret, and one betrayal later, they are both in handcuffs as alien warships are positioning themselves around the globe. Time is ticking down to Armageddon, and Jess must think fast if she’s to save the boy she cares about without sacrificing Earth—and everyone on it.

add to goodreads

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About-the-Author2

Jennifer M. Eaton

Jennifer M. Eaton hails from the eastern shore of the North American Continent on planet Earth. Yes, regrettably, she is human, but please don’t hold that against her. While not traipsing through the galaxy looking for specimens for her space moth collection, she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband and three energetic offspring. (And a poodle who runs the spaceport when she’s not around.)

During infrequent excursions to her home planet of Earth, Jennifer enjoys long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but great adventures are always a short shuttle ride away.

Who knows where we’ll end up next?

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr | Goodreads | Instagram | YouTube

 

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Spotlight: Collide by @MelissaJCrispin @EvernightTeen #YA #Fantasy

Coming This Week!!!

Collide

 

Title:  Collide

Author:  Melissa J. Crispin

Publisher:  Evernight Teen

Release Date:  March 18, 2016

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy

 

Description: 
When the balance between Earth, Afterlife, and Heaven are threatened, the fate of the universe falls on a selfish girl who must sacrifice everything to save it.

 

Kayla has a plan. She’s moving to the city after graduation and Luke’s coming with her. He’ll eventually become a doctor, she’ll be a ballerina—and they’ll live happily ever after. That is, until dark forces, led by a sister she never knew existed, start hunting her down for a power she never knew she had.

 

When Kayla starts working with a boy named Alec to learn how to defend herself and to stop the evil from eliminating the worlds, she finds herself falling for him. Hard. Torn between two loves and struggling to do what’s right for Earth and Afterlife, Kayla must decide if she’s fighting to keep her life together, or letting it go to save everyone else’s.

 

Add Collide to your shelf on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29413396-collide

 

Melissa J. Crispin lives in Connecticut with her husband, two kids, and an adorable Siberian Husky. She spends her days in the corporate world, and pursues her passion for writing in the late nights and early mornings.

From micro-fiction to novels, Melissa loves to write stories in varying lengths. But, no matter the story, it’s almost always about the romance.

 

Connect with Melissa for updates:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MelissaJCrispin

Website: http://melissajcrispin.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/melissajcrispinauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelissaJCrispin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melissajcrispin/


M9B Friday Reveal: IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING Cover and Chapter 1 by J. Keller Ford

 

Whoo hooo!!!
Today J. Keller Ford and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for
IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING!
Book 1 in the Chronicles of Fallhallow Series which releases May 31,  2016!
Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to
receive an eGalley!!

Here’s a short intro from the author!

Hi there! I’m so excited to share this cover
with you. I love the stunning blue background with the silver accents, and the
dragon medallion totally captures the personality of the book. I knew I wanted
the cover to be classic, timeless, yet dark and enchanting, and boy, did the
designers deliver! I couldn’t be more thrilled. Thanks so much for stopping by!
On to the reveal! 

I lurve this cover, ya’ll!!! 


 

Title: IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING
(The Chronicles of Fallhallow #1)
Author: J. Keller Ford
Pub. Date: May 31, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD | BAM | Kobo | Google Play Books
Seventeen-year-old, Eric, is a kick-butt squire to the most revered knight in Fallhollow.
Well he would be if Sir Trogsdill allowed him to do anything even remotely awesome.
Determined to prove his worth, Eric sets out to find the mythical paladin summoned
to protect the realm from the evil lurking nearby.
Sixteen-year-old, David, spends his days collecting school honors,
winning archery tournaments, and trying not to fall in love with his
scrappy best friend, Charlotte.
Right when things start to get interesting, he is whisked away to the
magical realm of Fallhollow where everyone thinks he’s some sort of paladin
destined to fulfill a two-hundred-year-old prophecy. He’s supposed to help kill a
dragon with some sort of magic key. The same key that happens to adorn the neck
of an annoying squire who’s too wrapped up in proving himself to be much help
to anyone.
With egos as big as the dragon they need to destroy, Eric and David must get over
themselves, or watch everything they know and love, burn.
Excerpt

“War is a necessary evil. There is not a day or time when each of us does not battle some sort of enemy either within or around us. The true test of our character lies in the instant when we choose to either ignore or defeat that which seeks to destroy us. It is the same in our kingdom. Hirth has seen its share of battles and this great province has ridden the wings of freedom for many an age; however, there will come a day when an evil so immense will seek to threaten our very existence. It is then the knights of Gyllen Castle will rise to the aid of Hirth and defend all that is dear – our families, our land, and our right to survive. When such a time comes, I will fight with honor and for glory and give my life, if my forfeiture of it will allow Hirth the chance to endure in peace. And while I know that the enemy may prevail and my life be extinguished from this body, my death will not be in vain for what is more honorable than giving one’s life for love of family, country…and freedom.”Sir Trogsdill Domnall.

Chapter 1

If Eric had known what the daylight would bring after the nightmares ended, he would have remained in bed, the covers pulled over his head.

Instead, he waded through the puddles of the castle’s upper courtyard, each gong from the clock tower further coiling his stomach into knots. Sloshing along beside him, down the aisle of topiaries and statues, was his best friend, a devilish lad with unkempt hair the color of dirt and a cock-eyed grin.

“I don’t know why you’re in such a hurry,” Sestian said, polishing an apple on his sleeve. “Weapons class began fifteen minutes ago. Master Mafi won’t allow us in.” The apple crunched in his teeth.

“You don’t understand, Ses. I have to try.” Eric swatted at the spindly arms of a willow tree. “This will be the third day in a row I missed. If I don’t go, word will get back to Trog and he’ll flog me. You know how he gets.”

“You worry too much. He’d never physically hurt you, however, I do have to admit, he is quite an odd fellow. I saw him make another midnight trek to the fountain last night. He sat there all hunched over like he’d lost his best friend, then he stood, dropped a rose in the water, and left.”

Eric’s muscles bunched under his light shirt, his brow pinched. “That is bizarre, even for him.”

“Want to hear something even more bizarre?” Sestian paused, took another bite of the apple and buried the core in a potted plant. “I overheard Trog and my own headache of a master talking this morning. I believe the exact words out of Farnsworth’s mouth were, ‘Fallhollow is under attack’.”

Eric came to a stop, his eyes wide. “Attack? From who?”

Sestian shrugged. “Don’t know, but members of the Senate and the Mage’s High Council arrived an hour ago, including the Supreme Master himself. They’re meeting with the Order as we speak.”

“What?” Eric’s pulse quickened. “Jared’s here? You saw him?”

The grand mage of all magical beings never involved himself in the affairs of men. Ever.

“No, but I plan to change that.” An impish twinkle glistened in Sestian’s eyes. “Are you game?”

“What? You want to—you mean—you’re joking, right?”

The puckish grin on Sestian’s face answered his question.

Eric shook his head. “Oh, no. There is no way you’re going to get me to eavesdrop on a secret council meeting. I’d rather get hit by lightning than suffer the punishment from anyone sitting in that room.”

“Aww, come on, Eric. Must you always be so dull? Aren’t you the least bit curious?”

“That sort of curiosity will land us in the pillory at best.” Eric pushed past his friend through the carved citadel doors. Sestian darted in front of him and stopped.

“Your point?”

“My point is that I value my life.”

“And what of Fallhollow? Don’t you value our home?”

“Of course I do, but—”

“Then what are you waiting for?” Sestian punched Eric’s arm. “Let’s go.”

“Ses, no!” Eric’s protest fell on empty ears. His friend was gone.

Eric brushed past the lapis columns of the marble vestibule into the Great Hall, a wide-open space topped by a domed ceiling so high its ornate detail was almost lost in the darkness. Nobles and servants milled about, coming and going out of the many rooms, laughter echoing off the walls speckled with massive tapestries and oiled paintings. A flock of girls dressed in aristocratic finery stood upon the majestic staircase, twittering like excited canaries. One of them, Lady Emelia, a startling girl with red hair and striking features, waved at him and winked. Eric rolled his eyes and scurried down the hall past the stairs. The last thing he wanted or needed was a flighty girl choking his freedom.

He passed several lavish rooms before spotting his friend at the far end of the music room, leaning on a harp.

“What took you so long?” Sestian grinned, then pushed aside a wall tapestry and vanished through a secret door.

“Drat you, Ses. How do you find these things?” Eric glanced over his shoulder and followed.

Inside, Sestian struck a wooden match against the stone wall and lit a torch he plucked from an iron sconce. They climbed a set of narrow steps. The guttering flame of Sestian’s torch cast shadows on the walls. More than once the passageway twisted and turned as they ascended.

“Are you sure you know where you’re going?” Eric asked.

Sestian laughed. “We’re in the heart of the castle and you’re going to ask that question now?”

They continued upward. After what seemed an eternity, the steps emptied onto the landing of a dark corridor filled with cobwebs. Sestian stopped and thrust the torch at Eric. “Hold this.” He spun a wall sconce in a combination of left and right turns until a latch popped, and a hidden door opened inward, exposing a small room filled with wooden crates.

“What the—?” Eric stepped inside, his mouth open.

Sestian placed his finger to his lips and motioned to a jagged hole the size of a man’s fist in the wall.

Curious, Eric squatted and peered through a banner of delicate silk.

“Dragon’s breath,” he whispered. “That’s the king’s arbitration room!” He flicked a sideways glance at Sestian. “How did you find this?”

“I don’t sleep much, remember?”

“Good heavens, you are crazy.”

A chair scraped across the wood floor below. Four mages, recognizable by their golden skin, turquoise eyes, and sapphire–blue garments, sat on one side of an immense oval table. Four senators clad in similar garments of purple and gold sat across from them. At one head of the table sat Trog and Farnsworth. At the other, a sojourner shrouded in black with silver rings upon his fingers and tattoos etched upon his hands. And at one of the five arched windows stood the sorceress, Slavandria, her thick lavender hair plaited in a single braid to the floor.

“Jared,” Eric said under his breath.

“Yep,” Sestian said. “That’d be my guess.”

Below, Trog leaned forward, his massive hands clasped together, and addressed the cloaked figure opposite him. “We will heed your warnings, Master Jared, and dispatch a legion to His Majesty’s entourage. I also think it wise to notify our neighbors to the north of the encroaching threat. If this enemy’s intentions are to see Hirth fall, he will attack our allies first to render our kingdom helpless.”

“Agreed.” Jared’s voice resonated deep within the chambers, and into Eric’s core. “Master Camden, see to it the kingdoms of Trent and Banning are informed of the possible threat. Also, instruct the shime to dispatch regiments and secure the borders of Hirth.”

“Do you feel that necessary?” replied the bald man clad in blue. “There is no proof the kingdom of Hirth or the realm of Fallhollow, for that matter, is under attack. There have only been a few isolated incidents of bloodshed, nothing that could be construed as acts of war.”

“Master Camden,” Jared said, “several families of barbegazis, nine unicorns, and over a hundred humans are dead all in the course of four days. This morning, patrols rescued a herd of pixies from a crow’s cage in the Elmwithian Marsh. They were swathed in dragon’s blood. Might I remind you a single act of brutality, especially one steeped in black magic as these incidences are, is one violation too many. Our job is to protect this world, and more so this kingdom, from any dark sorcery that may threaten it. If this directive is in any way unclear, I will be more than happy to personally instruct you in the importance of upholding your defensive role.”

A chill crept up Eric’s spine.

“Oh, come on. Instruct him,” Sestian said, a grin stretched across his face.

A palpable silence fell over the room. Master Camden shifted in his seat and wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead. “Personal instruction is not necessary, Supreme Master.”

“I find that to be a wise decision.”

Eric exhaled. “Yes, so do I.”

Jared stood and pulled the hood of his cloak forward. “Since we are in agreement, I believe we can dismiss. Sir Trogsdill, if I may, I’d like to speak with my daughter alone.”

“Of course,” Trog said, standing. “The rest of you, follow me to the dining hall where you can feast before your journey home.”

“I don’t believe this, Sestian whispered as Trog ushered the last of the visitors out and closed the door behind him.

“Shh,” Eric said.

Down below, Slavandria, said “What is on your mind, Father?”

Jared strolled past her, his hands tucked into his voluminous sleeves. “I have given this a great deal of thought and I have reached a decision. Considering all that has happened, I am left with no other choice. As queen of the Southern Forest and protector of this realm, you must summon the paladin.”

Her gasp could have ripped leaves from their stems.

“Father, no! I can’t! The paladin is only to be summoned in the direst of circumstances. While these attacks are horrid, they are far from extreme.”

“Daughter—”

“Father, please. The ramifications will be devastating to all those involved. Together with the shime, we’ll find this enemy and bring him into the light. I beg you. Please do not do this.”

“If that were true, they would have done so by now. As such, your arguing is futile. My decision is made. By sunset within three days, you must fulfill your duties. I will have the document drawn and sealed. Have Mangus deliver it. So it is said?”

Slavandria’s jaw tightened. “You’re being unreasonable.”

“And you are bordering the line of punishment.”

Eric shuddered at the menacing tone.

“Do I have your word?” Jared said.

Slavandria straightened her back and steadied her voice. “Yes, Father. So it is said. So it shall be done, but don’t think for one-minute I won’t improvise when the time presents itself.”

“You have always been my challenge child. I would expect nothing less from you. Now, if you will forgive me, I must go.”

“Where this time?”

“Home, to Felindil for a day. Afterwards, I will be in seclusion, communing with the heavens before taking to the sea.”

“What? And leave me here to set the world right once the paladin arrives?”

Jared’s full-bodied laughter filled the room. “You sound as if the demon of the underworld will rise, spewing fire and ash.”

“And how do you know he won’t?” She paused, her fingers steepled to her lips before continuing. “Father, please. All I ask is for once, in your long, stubborn life, you listen to me. The people of this kingdom and all of Fallhollow are innocent. They need our protection. I fear what the paladin’s presence will do. You can’t bring such devastation upon Fallhollow and then leave me to salvage whatever is left.”

“I bring nothing upon this realm; therefore, I leave you with nothing to clean up. The course of the world is set. Events will unfold as they will. The paladin will not change that which is set in motion.”

“You’re wrong, Father.” Slavandria brushed past him.

“Disagree if you must. You always do. For now, go home. Wait for my summoning papers and prepare the traveler. I will come to you in Chalisdawn three days hence.”

Jared snapped his fingers. White shards of light crackled and zapped around him, and he was gone.

Slavandria shook her head. “You have no idea what you’ve done, Father.” She gathered her cloak from the back of a chair and incanted some strange words. A swift pale-blue mist rose from the floor, swirling, engulfing her in a vortex. The air sizzled and splintered, and she, too, disappeared.

“Whoa,” Sestian said. “This is worse than bad.”

“No kidding,” Eric stood and brushed the dust from his breeches, “and I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot worse.”

Sestian withdrew the torch as they left the room and shut the door. “You do realize we’re going to have to find out who this paladin is, right?”

Eric walked down the steps. “Why is that?”

“Come on. Are you that daft? How else are we going to prove to Trog and Farnsworth that we’re deserving of becoming knights? Right now they think we’re nothing but a pair of imbeciles worthy of nothing more than polishing armor and performing duties of a valet.”

“We’re squires, Ses. That’s what we do.”

“And it’s all we’ll ever do if we don’t prove ourselves. Don’t you get it? When was the last time Gyllen Castle or Hirth saw battle, hmm?”

“You sound as if you want war.”

“No, but I haven’t trained all my life to become a knight only to end up as a fat, lazy, well-paid manservant.”

Eric turned a corner and continued downward, his voice hollow in the muted dark. “I don’t think you’ll ever be fat or lazy.”

“Eric, come on. Why must you be so difficult? Without a skirmish or two, acts of heroism for us are limited to rescuing girls from over-zealous drunkards and protecting the royal dinner from the palace dogs. I want more than that. When I die, I don’t want to be remembered for how well I polished a sword, but for something grand and heroic. Don’t you want the same?”

“Of course I do, but I don’t sit around thinking about what legacy I want to leave behind when I die.”

“Liar. All you ever talk about is how much you want to be a knight like Trog.” Sestian shoved past Eric and blocked his descent. “Think about it. You know as well as I we’ll be relegated to the stables to saddle horses and pack rations and bedrolls if there is the slightest hint of a conflict. They won’t let us anywhere near a battlefield, especially you. It’s like you’re some kind of poster boy for squire school.”

“I know, but—”

“No, there are no buts. Don’t you see? Now is our chance to show our mettle. If we team up with this paladin, we have a chance to prove ourselves. Trog and Farnsworth will have to take notice.”

“Yeah, after they flog, tar and feather us. Besides, what makes you think this paladin will want us, huh? He’s probably some powerful sorcerer like Jared.”

“No one is as powerful as Jared, but I’ll bet you a rooster against a duck this savior dabbles not only in white, but black magic, too. That’s why Jared needs him.”

“Which is all the more reason for us to keep our distance.”

“No! It’s all the more reason for us to find him. He’ll need guides to help him maneuver through our lands. We’ll be heroes for saving Fallhollow from a murderous foe. King Gildore will praise us. Songs will be written about us.”

Eric rolled his eyes.

Sestian snorted. “Don’t think I can’t hear your eyes flipping around in their sockets. You know I’m right. We know every crack in the earth Fallhollow possesses. We’ve been trained by the very best knights in the world. On top of that, I have a knack for getting us in and out of places unseen. You’re extraordinary with a blade. Together, we’re dangerous. We can be his eyes and ears. And when we defeat whatever is out there, Trog and Farnsworth will have no choice but to admit our accomplishments and recommend us for knighthood.”

Sestian’s stance and the set of his eyes conveyed an intensity Eric admired and feared. He sighed aloud. “All right. You win, but we say nothing. If Trog and Farnsworth found out, they’d roll us in dragon dung and set us on fire.”

Sestian punched Eric playfully on the arm and smiled, wide. “Ha! I knew I could break you.”

They hurried from the music room and fell in with other students leaving classrooms. In the sunlit courtyard, Eric stopped short. Sestian plowed into him from behind.

“What’s wrong?”

Eric gritted his teeth. “Do you not see who is standing in front of us?”

Sestian turned his gaze to their masters leaning against the balustrade, their arms folded to their chests, waiting. “Great. Let me handle this.”

Trog stood upright and adjusted the sword on his hip, flexing the intersecting scars on his arms—reminders of dozens of battles fought. He took a step forward, and a gust of wind blew his dark hair back from his weathered, sun-darkened face, exposing a high forehead, square jaw, and intense peridot eyes. Eric gulped as a childhood tale about a sly mouse captured by a blind owl scampered through his brain.

“You’re late,” Trog said, tossing Eric a suede satchel weighed down with sheathed knives. “Where have you been?” He spoke softly, but his voice reverberated through the crisp morning air.

“Listening to Magister Timan’s lecture on ceremonial magic,” Sestian replied. “Did you know there are magical portals that allow us to travel between realms?”

“Did you know I have a magical foot that can disappear up your backside if you don’t get down to the stables right now?” Farnsworth asked. His brow furrowed beneath a curtain of wavy straw-colored hair. He walked toward Sestian, the seams of his green tunic strained over his wide shoulders, his eyes as brown and penetrating as a wolf’s.

“So I’ve heard. Several times.” Sestian grinned and tapped Eric on the arm. “We’ll get together later and go over what we learned today, eh?”

Eric nodded and shuffled his feet under the weight of Trog’s stare. He waited for Sestian and Farnsworth to get far enough away before lifting his head and meeting Trog’s gaze. The knight lifted a brow.

“Are you going to tell me where you really were, or are you going to hold to your story that you were listening to a lecture that ended this time yesterday?”

“Which one will get me in the least amount of trouble?”

Trog placed his hand on Eric’s back and edged him down the stone steps to the lower courtyard. “The truth, Eric. Always the truth.”

“What if I promised not to tell?”

“Secrets are grave burdens to bear.”

“I can’t betray his confidence, sir. I promised.”

Trog nodded. “Then you’ll sleep in the stables tonight as punishment.”

“What? How is that fair?”

“You know the rules as my squire, and you still choose to withhold the truth. Therefore, you shall be punished accordingly.”

“But the rules of knighthood require I not reveal confidences or secrets under any circumstance to anyone at any time, even under pain of death.”

“Nice try, lad, but the last time I looked, you have not been captured nor are you under pain of death.” Trog placed a heavy hand on Eric’s shoulder. “I’m going to give you one more chance. What will it be?”

Eric clenched and unclenched his fists at his sides. “With all due respect, sir, I cannot and will not betray my friend.”

Trog removed his hand. “I commend you on your loyalty, son, but you have made your choice. Therefore, you will suffer the consequences of it. Now go on and get busy with your chores. I want each of those blades in your hand sharpened and polished by morning—”

“But, sir—”

“And for protesting when you should not, you will also sharpen and polish Sir Farnsworth’s blades. I’ll see to it they are dropped off.” Eric opened his mouth to speak, but changed his mind when Trog dipped his brow in warning. “Would you like me to add Sir Gowran’s and Sir Crohn’s weapons to your load?”

Eric bit back the irritation boiling below the surface. “No, sir.”

“Very well. Bring the blades to the farrier’s stall in the morning around eight. It will be a dual-fold meeting as you can visit your father at the same time.”

Trog paused for a moment, his expression thoughtful, then turned and strolled across the courtyard. He hoisted a young page from a game of marbles and lectured him on the pitfalls of wasting time. Eric snorted at the boy’s bewildered expression and the speed at which he ran once set down upon his feet. Been there, boy. He cursed beneath his breath. What am I talking about? I’m still there.

Eric’s boots clicked on the cobblestones as he plodded toward Crafter’s Row. He passed beneath the archway connecting the cathedral to the knights’ quarters and turned left down the tree-shaded lane toward the royal stables. After informing the stablemaster of his upcoming sleeping arrangements, Eric returned the way he came. At the crossroad, he turned and made his way toward the smithy. Horses clomped and wagons rattled over the pavers while thick clouds gathered overhead, suffocating the sun. A light drizzle set in as he entered a stone building marked by a metal plate engraved with a hammer and anvil. The blacksmith wiped the sweat from his brow and motioned Eric to a table set with vials of oils, and various whetstones.

Eric sighed. Lovely.

He settled into the monotonous task of sharpening and polishing, taking on Farnsworth’s load a few hours later. He finished his arduous task just after dusk. Cursing his sore muscles, he packed up the satchels and shuffled to the stables where a plate of bread, cheese and a pint of goat’s milk waited for him.

Great. Is he trying to starve me, too?

He ate what was given and settled into the hayloft, his stomach a knot of protests. He sighed. Who was this paladin, and from who or what was he destined to save the realm? There was only one way to find out. Tomorrow he and Sestian would devise a plan, and it would be worthy of a knight’s tale. When all was said and done, Trog would have no other choice than to see him as a worthy knight instead of an incompetent fool. An image of Trog groveling for forgiveness appeared in his mind. Eric snuggled into a bed of hay and fell into a blissful dream, a wide grin on his face.

 

 

About J. Keller Ford 

J. (Jenny) Keller Ford grew up as an Army brat, traveling the world and
wandering the halls of some of Germany’s most extraordinary castles.
From the time she was old enough to hold a crayon, she wove fantasy tales of dragons,
warriors, and princesses.  A former paralegal, she’s the author of several short stories
including The Amulet of Ormisez, Dragon Flight, and The Passing of Millie Hudson. 
When not at her keyboard breathing new life into fantasy worlds, Jenny spends time
overloading on coffee, collecting seashells, bowling, swimming, riding roller coasters and
talking plotlines with anyone who will listen.  She lives on the west coast of Florida with
her husband, two sons, two dogs, and a pretentious orange cat.  Her two daughters and
grand-daughter make their homes in Seattle, WA.

 

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive an eGalley of IN
THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING. International.

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M9B Reveal: THE UNDERTAKERS: END OF THE WORLD Chapter 1 by Ty Drago #Month9Squad #Month9Books

 

Today Ty Drago and Month9Books are revealing
the first chapter for THE UNDERTAKERS: THE END OF THE WORLD!
Book 5 in the Undertakers Series which releases March 29, 2016!
Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley!!

 

Title: THE UNDERTAKERS: THE END OF THE WORLD
Author: Ty Drago
Pub. Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD | Kobo | Google Play Books | iBooks |  Goodreads

 

Think the Corpse War was over?
So did Will Ritter until he was led through a doorway in time and finds himself in a
future where the Earth has been all but destroyed.
The Corpses, alien invaders who wear the dead like suits of clothing, have returned in
horrific numbers. In the wake of their destructive onslaught, a rag-tag group of survivors
with some of Will’s now grownup friends among them is all that’s left of mankind.
Will must take part in a desperate, last ditch effort to rewrite history, prevent the
Second Corpse War from ever happening, and defeat this evil that has consumed
mankind once and for all.
But victory, if such a thing is even possible, carries a heavy cost. 
Excerpt

Chapter 1Dreamer

Folks don’t sweat in dreams, do they?

“Ready?” the dude in the broken glasses asked.

The dreamer nodded, readying her javelin, feeling the familiar cold steel of its shaft in her strong fists. This wasn’t the “real” javelin, of course. The dude in the broken glasses, the one who kept bringing her to this strange place while she slept, had told her that the “real” javelin was too unique and important to risk in a training exercise. But he assured her that this one was the same length and weight as the genuine article.

 

 

Whatever. It worked well enough. And she was getting good with it.

But then, she’d always had a knack with pointy things like this.

This was her fifth simulation tonight and the sweat of the last four stung her eyes.

Even in her scariest nightmares, and Heaven knew she’d had her share of those, in which she was either running from Corpses or defending the people she cared about from those undead invaders, she never sweated. Oh sure, when she woke up with a gasp of alarm or even a terrified cry, she was often soaked in cold, sticky perspiration.

But never during the actual dream.

Until now.

Her eyes looked everywhere at once as she turned in a slow circle, surveying the dimly lit room. This place had a high ceiling, with walls and a floor all covered in white tile. It was big too, maybe sixty feet by thirty.

But with the lights off, it seemed even bigger.

And more menacing.

That’s ’cause I know what hides in this darkness.

There!

The first mechanical monster charged her left flank, just a flash of movement, a shadow against other shadows. She got the impression of something large, with ten legs and a single piercing red eye.

No time to parry. So she dove, rolled, and felt the charging thing rush past her. Then, finding one knee, she thrust one of the javelin’s two pointed ends up and out. It was one of the dozen moves that she’d been painstakingly mastering.

In these dreams, that is.

Her thrust struck home, the javelin’s point jabbing deeply into the ten-legged monster’s flank, knocking it over. The dreamer, still holding the weapon’s other end, went with it, using its weight to leverage her to her feet before yanking the javelin free and spinning around, poised for the next assault.

Two of them came at her this time, ten o’clock and one o’clock. Their maws were wide open, rows of teeth shimmering in the darkness.

She went left, running straight at her nearest attacker, only to leap at the last second, putting one bare foot atop the monster’s bulbous head and vaulting over it. As she did, she let her body tumble rearward, executing a backflip that allowed her to drive the javelin viciously into the creature’s steel spine. As the weapon’s point sliced through the thick armor, the dreamer’s momentum pulled the javelin along, slicing open the creature’s metal plating, exposing rent gears, severed cables and electronic circuitry that sputtered in its death throes.

The monster collapsed.

The dreamer landed smoothly on her feet behind it.

And that’s when the other one struck her.

As quick as she’d been, she hadn’t been quick enough. She’d stupidly allowed the last monster to anticipate her, and now she was paying for it, her body a mass of pain as she was slammed against the floor and sent sliding along its tiled surface.

Somewhere in the surrounding darkness, she heard the dude with the broken glasses gasp in alarm.

Wincing, the dreamer rolled with the blow, controlled it, and managed to get her feet under her and the javelin up just as the ten-legged thing pounced at her for the killing blow.

This time, the weapon’s point rammed straight up under the creature’s chin, if you could call that place under its mouth a “chin.” Bracing herself, and ignoring the sharp agony that lanced up her left arm—wrenched, but not broken—the dreamer pushed harder, and harder still, until the javelin exploded out the top of the monster’s head.

It toppled over as the other had.

“The crystal!” the man in the broken glasses cried. “There’s the crystal!”

The dreamer looked up and saw it.

It shone brightly, high overhead, an enormous construct of glowing glass. It hung there, supported by nothing, pulsing with strange, unnatural energy.

Pure evil.

Pushing away her pain and ignoring the sweat stinging her eyes, the dreamer planted one foot on the last monster’s broken, lifeless body and yanked the javelin free. Then she spun, reared back, and hurled the shining shaft of pointed metal upward.

She watched it fly, cutting the air like a laser beam, almost seeming to glow itself.

It slammed into the hateful, malevolent crystal, piercing it deeply, and sending a splintering web of cracks running along the face of it.

“Yes!” the dude in the broken glasses exclaimed. As had often happened before, something in the sound of his voice struck the dreamer as familiar.

I almost get who he is …

“It didn’t break!” the dreamer exclaimed.

“It will,” the dude said, emerging from the shadows to her right. “It’ll take a little over four minutes for the harmonic resonance to build up, but then it’ll shatter spectacularly. You’ll need to be gone by then.”

“Gone from where?” she asked.

He didn’t reply.

Abruptly, the crystal vanished. The javelin, she now saw, was buried in the room’s high ceiling, having pierced one of the white tiles.

An illusion, as always. “Hologram” was what the dude called it.

But illusion or not, after something like two dozen tries, I finally crushed it!

The lights came on, which was freaky, since there were no visible lamps.

The dreamer regarded the three broken creatures around her. Robots. Just metal and computer chips and what she supposed had to be some pretty hardcore programming. But the dude in the broken glasses had assured her that they were as close to the real thing as he could make them.

And the dreamer, who’d seen the real thing up close and personal, agreed.

The dude in the broken glasses wore a broad, toothy smile. The dreamer was certain that she knew that smile, and not just from her nocturnal visits to this strange place. She knew it from somewhere else, somewhere in the waking world.

But, try as she might, she couldn’t—

“That was very well done,” he said.

“Thanks,” the dreamer replied. “Does that mean I graduated? Am I done comin’ back here?”

The man’s smile faded and he shook his head. “Not yet. You did get hit, after all. We need to practice until you don’t. We need to get you to the point where those things don’t lay a claw on you. Even so, you’re doing wonderfully. Well beyond projections!”

“Thanks,” she said again. “But it’d help if I could practice with the javelin on my own time. These dream sessions are cool and all, but they ain’t really enough to let me master a new weapon.”

The dude in the broken glasses shrugged. “They’re all we’ve got.”

“Ain’t you ever gonna tell me who you are?” the dreamer asked.

“Probably not,” he replied. “But you’ll likely figure it out one day. For now, we should call it a night. Time’s short for me this evening. He’s coming.”

“Who’s coming?”

The dude considered before answering. Then, with a shrug, he replied, “Will Ritter.”

The dreamer blinked in surprise. “Red’s coming here?”

“Well, not to this exact room. But he’s coming to this place and time.”

“And what place and time is that?” the dreamer demanded, bothered by the fact that poor Will was somehow being dragged into—whatever this was. Though, she supposed it shouldn’t surprise her. Will Ritter was always in the thick of things, especially where the Corpse War was concerned.

But, as usual, the dude in the broken glasses didn’t reply.

She’d been coming to this strange room for close to a month now, night after night, repeating the same exercise over and over. Each time she would fight the ten-legged monsters and then try to destroy the crystal. She didn’t know what it was all for. She didn’t know why it was happening, and had never been able to coax a straight answer from the man in the broken glasses, not even to the most obvious question:

Where am I?

Then, suddenly, an alarm sounded.

It rang somewhere outside the room, not blaring but loud enough to be easily heard. The dude in the broken glasses spun around with a startled gasp.

“What’s that?” the dreamer asked.

“They’ve found us!” he replied, and the panic in his voice sent a sharp chill racing down the dreamer’s spine. “No! It’s too soon!”

“Too soon?” she begged. “For what?”

He looked at her, a little desperately, she thought. But then he steadied himself and said, “You’ve done great work, but it looks like this is our last session after all. Thank you for your efforts and your patience during this past month. You’re as strong as I remember you being. I’ll send you home now.”

“Wait!” the dreamer exclaimed as the dude in the broken glasses took a gadget from inside the threadbare white lab coat he wore. Some kind of flashlight. “What’s goin’ down? What is all this?”

And, for once, her mystery man gave her an answer.

Sort of.

“It’s the end of the world, Sharyn.”

Then he pointed the flashlight thingy at her, and she knew what was coming. For an instant, white light filled her vision. And an instant after that, Sharyn Jefferson, Co-Chief of the Undertakers, awoke on her cot in Haven, and remembered that Hot Dog was dead.

 

About Ty:
Ty Drago does his writing just across the river from Philadelphia,
where the Undertakers novels take place. In addition to The Undertakers:
Rise of the Corpses, The Undertakers: Queen of the Dead, and The Undertakers:
Secret of the Corpse Eater, he is the author of The Franklin Affair and Phobos,
as well as short stories and articles that have appeared in numerous publications,
including Writer’s Digest. 
He currently lives in southern New Jersey with his wife and best friend, the real
Helene Drago née Boettcher.

 


 

Giveaway Details:

 

1 winner will receive an eBook of all 3
of Ty Drago’s Undertakers books.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js


Book Tour Guest Post: Triumph of Chaos (Red Magic #3) by @Jen_McConnel @chapterxchapter @Month9Books

 

Triumph of Chaos (Red Magic #3) 

Triumph of Chaos (Red Magic, #3)

by Jen McConnel

Publication Date:  March 8, 2016

Publisher:  Month9Books

Blurb:

After the disaster in Europe, Darlena’s starting to get desperate. She knows the only way to
defeat Hecate and the other crazy Red Gods is by banding together with other Witches, but is it any wonder she has a hard time trusting them?

With Izzy’s support, Darlena begins making fragile strides toward repairing the mess she made,
but she just can’t catch a break. As chaos runs rampant around her, Darlena begins to think that things would be better if she’d never become a Red Witch in the first place. But there’s no way to change the past…is there?

The final book in the Red Magic series brings Darlena face to face with impossible odds, and a
terrifying choice.

Welcome Jen McConnel!

Jen was nice enough to talk to us today about the lure of fantasy in Young Adult Literature right now, and what drew her to the genre …
Before I became an author, I never really thought about the cycles of literature, but now, between my writing career and my work as an MFA student, I’m suddenly much more aware of the ebb and flow of various genres. YA Fantasy was in a bit of a lull when I started writing the Red Magic series back in 2011, and it’s kind of fun to see how much of a resurgence the genre has enjoyed in just five short years.
With new titles like The Red Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn (two of my recent favorites) coupled with the Shadowhunters T.V. series, readers (and viewers) seem ready for all kinds of magic (and that’s not even considering the crazy amount of popularity enjoyed by Game of Thrones). Why is fantasy so hot right now? There are tons of reasons, but I think one driving factor that continues to fuel the popularity of the genre is the appeal of magic. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to live in a world where people had access to earth-shaking magical powers. When I was growing up, I gobbled up books about time travel and the supernatural, so it seemed a natural thing for me to write speculative fiction.
It’s fun to read and write fantasy; the normal rules don’t apply, and the situations that arise often force characters to become the best (and worst) versions of themselves on a regular basis. I love the volatility of the genre, and I think it’s incredibly cool to see YA Fantasy enjoying so much popularity right now. What’s even cooler, though, is the fact that there’s really something for everyone, even non-fantasy fans; I love the diversity of genres and styles of contemporary literature, and it’s an awesome time to be a writer and be able to contribute to the wide range of reading choices out there. That’s one of my favorite things about being an author; knowing I’m part of something bigger than I can ever imagine.
Although I wouldn’t necessarily want to live in any of the fantasy worlds I’ve read or watched (even the ones I’ve created!), there’s something deeply escapist and totally satisfying about falling into a story where, for a short time at least, anything is possible.

Link to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25946850-triumph-of-chaos

Red Magic Series:

https://www.goodreads.com/series/123621

Purchase Links:

Daughter of Chaos (Red Magic #1):

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

Gods of Chaos (Red Magic #2):

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

Triumph of Chaos (Red Magic #3):

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

 

Link to Tour Schedule:

http://www.chapter-by-chapter.com/blog-tour-schedule-triumph-of-chaos-red-magic-3-by-jen-mcconnel/

– See more at: http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/2016/03/triumph-of-chaos-red-magic-3-by-jen.html#sthash.rGkUoivl.dpuf

About the Author:

Jen McConnel

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”).

She is also a former reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), and a proud member of SCBWI, NCWN, and SCWW.

A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. She’s a graduate of Western Michigan University, and she also earned her MS in Library Science at Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.

Follow Jen on Twitter @Jen_McConnel, or visit www.jenmcconnel.com

Giveaway:  Contest ends March 25, 2016

  • Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Triumph of Chaos (Red Magic #3) by Jen McConnel (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

– See more at: http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/2016/03/triumph-of-chaos-red-magic-3-by-jen.html#sthash.rGkUoivl.dpuf

 

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