“Gilded Cage” — Excerpt from MISTRESS OF CATS (Legends of Tirum)

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Phoenix Telyn Gwndal swore to return her friend and blood sister to her proper place within the Imperial Palace of Targoth. She knows the risks of even showing her face inside the Empire’s borders, but she owes Reaphia a second chance.

When a chance encounter with an out-of-place merchant from a legendary people brings Telyn into the middle of a struggle to free a woman held captive by her own will, Telyn finds herself up against a past she’s never really outrun.

Nothing can prepare her for what comes next.

“Gilded Cage” — Excerpt from MISTRESS OF CATS (Legends of Tirum, Book 4)

“No one said this would be easy.” Maltai circled her cage, watched her stalking movements match his stride warily as she pulled against the golden chain and collar that encircled her neck. “You’re not going to get out of there, no matter what I do, unless you’re ready to quit being so damned noble.”

 

She loosed a warning growl that rumbled in the air between them as he stepped closer, her bright yellow eyes narrowing as she bared her teeth. Then, backing off, she shook herself, shedding her feline form in the process. In the space of a breath, she went from imposing lioness to a lean, proud woman with tawny skin and dark hair, wearing only the short, tattered drape of cloth that denoted her servitude, and the proud, regal tilt of her chin that told him she was far from a broken slave.

 

“If I compromise my very core, and everything I hold dear, then I might as well stay here and become a slave in truth. What reason do I have to be free, if I sacrifice my soul self in the process?”

Want to know more?  Stay tuned for details about Legends of Tirum and this book, Mistress of Cats!  Meanwhile, check out Books 1 & 2 at Desert Breeze Publishing

“Unmake the Past” – Excerpt from CHILD OF FALLEN WATERS (Legends of Tirum)

 

A friend’s quest for identity sends Telyn and her party into a land long draped in secrecy and legend. The truth they find staggers them all, because when the next Chosen is revealed, her identity will leave Telyn questioning her own fate, and the choices she’s made. And when Telyn’s life is upended by a disaster she never saw coming, she finds herself up against the most important question of her life: Is her pride and fear worth the cost, if that cost is everything she loves?

 

 

“Unmake the Past” — Excerpt from CHILD OF FALLEN WATERS (Legends of Tirum, Book 6) —

Telyn’s expression was pensive, even sad, and it tugged at Nacaris’ heart. It was an expression she wore whenever she thought about her parents. She must be thinking about her mother.

Moving to her side, Nacaris eased down beside her, hiding his wince as pain radiated up his left leg. He didn’t want to worry her more than she clearly already was.

“How are you doing?” He squeezed her knee lightly.

She glanced up at him with a wan smile, her lavender eyes so dull with sadness and guilt it twisted his heart. “Do you ever wish you could turn back time, do things differently?”

He frowned. “Not really. If I undid everything before, what would I be? Not myself. And I would run the risk of never meeting you. I wouldn’t do anything to risk what we have.”

She loosed a small sigh, and leaned her head against his shoulder. He liked that, liked knowing she felt she could still lean on him. She was silent for a long moment, only the crackle of the fire breaking the silence. Then, he heard her sigh again before, in a small voice, she murmured, “Does it make me a horrible person that I would?”

He told himself those words didn’t hurt — not much. Right now, Telyn was reeling with guilt, fear and pain. She didn’t mean it the way it sounded.

“No, balnyt.” He nuzzled her temple, wrapping an arm around her waist to snuggle her closer. “You’re facing something terrifying. Something I never had to face. I can’t imagine I’d feel any differently, if our roles were reversed.”

Find out what happened. Look for CHILD OF FALLEN WATERS, coming August 11 from Desert Breeze Publishing. Read the story from the beginning, with DAUGHTER OF ASHES, from Amazon.com or Desert Breeze Publishing.

“A Mother’s Promise” — Excerpt from VENGEFUL HEART (Underground)

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Some wounds, even time can’t bind. But vengeance, and redemption, might. Tamia Carinson is convinced of it. When she left for Tibet, Tamia vowed to never give up on her search for the Mole, and her husband’s killer. In the two years since she left, she’s uncovered Jeffrey Colbert’s vendetta against Rick, and she’s convinced Colbert killed him. Now, with a vow of vengeance burning in her aching heart, where the pain she’s never learned to move past still haunts her, Tamia’s finally come home to New York City, and her revenge.

“A Mother’s Promise” — Excerpt from VENGEFUL HEART (Underground, Book 5)

Ah-ma.”

Tamia glanced away from the screen of Rick’s datareader at the tug on her shirt tail. A smile pulled up her lips as she met innocent blue eyes, and the familiar twin tugs of love and loss gripped her.

“What is it, baby?” She scooped her son into her lap at the Command Center conference table, and swallowed down the lump of guilt that lodged in her throat. Michael didn’t understand what was happening. All her baby knew was someone plucked him from the safe, low-tech world he knew, and dropped into this world of light and sound, where she was the only familiar thing he could find. It must be terrifying.

Po-po ka-bah?”

Her eyes closed at that anxious request, and she hugged him close. How could she explain that his great-grandfather, whom he adored, wasn’t here, and she had no idea when or if they’d ever see him again? Not that Kuron’s influence on her son wouldn’t far outlast his physical presence, or anything she could teach.

Po-po isn’t here, Mikey.”

He tilted his head to the right, in a move so very Kuron Tamia smothered a laugh, as he digested her words. Oh, yeah. The old man had one hell of an influence. No surprise there. In her own way, she absorbed her grandfather’s influence, as well. She’d just been too angry to act on it. She’d been stupid — something Michael definitely wasn’t. The scary intelligence behind Michael’s every consideration — as if he processed and dissected more than mere words — was all his father’s genes. As much as those deep blue eyes were.

Pa-pha?”

Tamia’s heart froze mid-beat, as her eyes fixed on her son in disbelief. Had her son picked up more than she realized from Kuron, even at this young age? Why else would he ask the one question she still wasn’t prepared to answer? She told herself she’d been preparing for this day ever since she first learned of the explosion that took Rick away from them. But the truth was, she was far from prepared, in the face of her son’s innocent query. Michael was too young to understand death, and she did everything in her power to shield him from it. She saw enough for both of them.

“Oh, baby.” She couldn’t help the catch in her voice as she gathered him close and breathed his sweet, baby-fresh scent. She rocked him in her lap as she fought down tears at the painful twist of her gut.

“Someday,” she promised in a whisper as she kissed his forehead. “Someday, I’ll tell you all about your daddy.”

Coming Soon from Esther Mitchell and Under The Moon publishing. Find out how the story begins with the rest of the Underground series, available now at Amazon.com  

“The Hit” – Excerpt from NOWHERE TO HIDE (Project Prometheus)

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This particular piece comes from NOWHERE TO HIDE.  Meet Candace Billings, daughter of a man with connections that could get her killed.

As far as the world was concerned, debutante Candace Billings knew nothing beyond a life of privilege. But the high gates of the Billings estate housed a secret darker than any prison facility, and Candace would do anything to escape it. When her father offered her the chance to travel to South America on holiday, she eagerly accepted, determined to never return to the life she left behind. But a bag exchange in a Columbian hotel brought her back into the United States a criminal, released into her father’s unyielding custody. A stolen car and a nighttime collision brought Candace to the attention of a man who could neither abandon nor absolve her. But, just maybe, he can save her.

 

“The Hit” – Excerpted from NOWHERE TO HIDE (Project Prometheus, Book #16) –

            This is it.  I’m going to die.

The thought slipped through Candace Billings’ mind like a snake, gone in a flash as the dark sedan slammed into the side of her sports car again. Grim humor gripped her as she acknowledged it wasn’t actually her anything.  She didn’t know a damned thing about cars. This was Ben’s car, sliding out of control on the rain-slick road as she fought to break free from the shove of the other vehicle.

God, please don’t let me die here.

What she was praying for, she didn’t know.  Death would be preferable to being returned to Ben’s fancy townhouse, or worse, to her father’s sprawling mansion.  Still, Candace gritted her teeth and fought the out-of-control car, and the jarring pound of the hitman’s vehicle.

And she had no doubt he was a hitman.  One of the cartel’s thugs, no doubt, employed strictly to take care of people like her.  Candace barked a sharp laugh, but didn’t dare spare a glance for the backpack on the passenger seat beside her, or a thought for its contents.  She didn’t have time.

A guard rail loomed in the beam of her headlights, and she swore softly beneath her breath as she slammed the brake to the floor.  The screech of the expensive machinery protesting the hard use joined the chorus of squealing rubber and the splinter of crushed metal and fiberglass.  Then, there was a sickening crunch, and pain seared through her body as she flew forward, caught between the guard rail to her left and the gunning engine of the sedan to her right.  Her breath stopped in her lungs as the seat belt strangled her, then snapped, and a nauseating crack filled the compartment.  She slumped sideways with a groan as pain exploded through her, and only the tortured squeal of the windshield wipers kept her company as she tumbled into darkness.

Want to know more about Project Prometheus?  Stay tuned… And pick up your copy of the Eppie-Nominated Project Prometheus series debut, IN HER NAME, available now from Desert Breeze Publishing!

“Her Father’s Keep” — Excerpt from PHOENIX RISING

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Phoenix Telyn Gwndal gave up the love of her life for the destiny she was born to bear. As she undertakes the quest levied on her, will she uncover a secret alliance meant to destroy her, or can a shadow from her past save her from the ultimate mistake?

“Her Father’s Keep” — excerpted from PHOENIX RISING (Legends of Tirum, Book 2)

The crumbled ruin of a soaring war keep loomed on the forested horizon, bathed in the bloody streaks of Helios’ setting light.  Telyn’s breath caught in her throat as she stared at the structure, imposing in spite of its dilapidation.  Pain wrenched her heart, startling her.  She’d never been to this place, so why did the mere sight of that decaying ruin fill her with such grief?  Her eyes stung, and she blinked away the tell-tale signs of impending tears.  She didn’t have time for this foolishness.

Determination fueled her forward, toward the destroyed remnants of her father’s lineage – all that remained of her heritage, and the once-mighty Phoenix Clan.  One day, she promised herself silently, she would see it restored.  For now, she intended to search every nook and cranny of the old ruin.  The Phoenix Book was still here.  She could feel it.

Pelarius Brunnari was an evil man, driven by an insatiable desire for power that didn’t rightfully belong to him, but he wasn’t stupid.  Oh, no.  The old fox was wily, right up to the end.  He knew the legends of the Phoenix Book, and probably better than anyone left alive, at that.  It was said, she’d heard whispers once, that the removal of any of the sacred artifacts from those entrusted with their care would not only render the artifact useless, but also quite dangerous to the one who did the removing.  The Aerai Majin, it was said, made sure of that.  And those whispers confirmed Telyn’s gut feeling – the Phoenix Book never really left Phoenix Hall.

Excitement pulsed a fiery song through her veins as she urged Bloodcloud toward the forest surrounding Phoenix Hall.  She had no fear of its darkness – her Bathron eyes would grant her vision even in its darkest corners and brambles.  And, if Kishfa rode with her this night, she’d have the Phoenix Book in her hands before the morning light.

Get your copy of PHOENIX RISING from Amazon.com! Want to see how it all begins? Find Book I: DAUGHTER OF ASHES, available from Amazon.com and Desert Breeze Publishing !

“Call of Fire” — Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum)

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Telyn Gwndal has always feared Majik. When her destiny brings her back to the place her nightmares were born, Telyn must take up a sacred quest to avenge the father she never knew. Her greatest ally is a man with a secret that could reawaken a past Telyn believes dead and buried, and destroy the truth she holds sacred. Can she trust him with her heart, or will her destiny force her to let him go?

 

Nacaris Onarchar is a man without a home. He thought he left behind the past when everything he loved disappeared from his life. Resigned to his rootless life, he never imagined that a desperate Elder’s request would bring him face-to-face with his past, and a chance to change his future. Can he bring himself to destroy the only love he’s ever known, or will he sacrifice the truth to hold onto a heart he can’t be sure he ever held?

 

“Call of Fire” — Excerpted from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum, Book 1)

Telyn.

The voice whispered, light as a breath and reverent as a prayer, in her ear.

The daughter of Ashes has returned. A second voice, as ardent as the first, joined in.

We have been calling. If she is the One, why does she not come to us? This new voice hissed, dark with skepticism.

There is a new power about her. A new ally. It will take time for her to understand, the first voice explained patiently.

We must teach her to wield that power properly, agreed the second. The Phoenix must fly again.

We don’t have time for this, the third muttered impatiently. With every moment we delay, the Book slips further away. Without it, we have no protector. Send the Summoning, and let’s be done with it.

The voices continued to swirl through her, joined by more and more, all chanting in a cadence that pulsed like the Dorfaíle, and tears seeped from her closed eyelids as she fought their siren song. Her heart twisted in her chest as if she suffered diabolical torture, rather than comfortably ensconced in a lavish bed. Those voices were full of desperation that ate through the sleep she tried to cling to. Yet there was a joy in their song, reveling in the mountain’s fire.

The sense of purpose she searched a lifetime for suddenly blossomed in Telyn’s heart as flames licked at her skin from the inside, hot enough to sear flesh from bone. Yet, bizarre calm held even the thought of pain far from her mind. Instead, she tossed in her sleep, attempting to banish the seductive sound that pulled so strongly at her.

Agony grew in the flames around her, until light seared the backs of her eyelids, and pounding heat engulfed her body. With a cry of terror, Telyn sat bolt upright, her eyes flying open.

The room was dark, though shadowy flickers of light crept in around the edges of the roanwood door. A cool breeze shifted the curtains and flowered through the room. Telyn shivered as it hit her sweat-soaked, overheated skin. Her brow furrowed. Camp Houses weren’t known to be drafty — least of all this one. So where was the draft coming from?

A terrifying thought struck her. It couldn’t be!

To prove to herself that she was paranoid, Telyn turned toward the west wall. Her eyes widened, and her stomach wrenched. “I don’t believe it!”

The shutters she so painstakingly made certain were bolted tight now bumped softly against the wall, wide open once again. The face of Raiador peered through the inky blackness outside, lit by over a hundred thousand flickering lights. She was in so much trouble.

Pick up your copy of DAUGHTER OF ASHES today, and continue the journey with Telyn in Legends of Tirum, available from Desert Breeze Publishing!

“No Boundaries” – Excerpt from COME WINTER’S PALE (Chronicles of a Dragon’s Realm)

image by bogglyeyes

image by bogglyeyes

Today, I thought I would share something completely different, for me. This is blast from my past, reinvented. When I was a kid, I started researching and writing a series of Arthurian Legend inspired books. My original intention was to be historically accurate, and write a series of historical novels. However, as I grew older, and my writing style became more defined, the historical novels I began in my youth began to evolve, as well. In the case of this series, I began to shift toward Steampunk, bringing together the history and details of the legend as I researched it with a Steampunk world. In essence, I recreated the Arthurian story in a Steampunk world.

“No Boundaries” – Excerpt from COME WINTER’S PALE (Chronicles of a Dragon’s Realm, Chapter III, Book 1) –

Some things just aren’t meant to be.  Kata LurAine had heard the phrase her whole life.  Sitting at the knee of her stern, proper grandmother as the old woman taught her to stitch the painstaking designs into the coverlets for her hope chest was the first time.  Or, more properly, just after she’d about turned the white silk red with her blood from pricking her fingers.  That was when Granddam Maralaese decided that Kata was a lost cause – destined to never marry.  A failure.

Kata snorted to herself as she dropped the faceplate of her welding mask back over her face and lit up the torch.  Like she needed some dainty little cross-stitch pattern to make her life whole.  Like she even needed a man.  She was content here in her workshop, surrounded by metal that hummed and whirred with a life dear Granddam would never have understood.  Never mind that metalcrafting wasn’t a woman’s world.  And, okay, so most men turned their noses up at a woman with grease smudges and soot on her face, and sporting helmet-head hair from her welding mask.  But she didn’t care.  She couldn’t pretend to be something she wasn’t.  And it wasn’t a big deal, right?

The torch lowered, and the flame clicked off as Kata rested her palms flat against the scarred steel of her workbench.  She had to quit lying to herself.  It did matter.  It mattered a lot that no one saw Kata – not the real Kata, anyway.  Not that being seen was her goal in life, she told herself stubbornly as she flipped the mask down again.  But it would be nice.

She kicked the torch back on, and let the flash of flame against metal soothe her as  the machines in her shop hummed and whirred on.  If this was her lot in life, she could live with it…

A sound startled her out of her zone, and the torch flame skipped up, searing a long line of sooty copper along the face of the steamship she was working on.  Irritated, she shoved up the mask and whirled toward the source of that sound.

“You should know better than to sneak up on a woman with a torch!”  She glared up into the face of the stunned-looking gentleman – he in his just-so waistcoat and gloves, a dark cane resting between his arm and side that she’d bet any of her machines he didn’t actually need – standing in the stable doorway that served as entrance to her workshop.

He blinked again, clearly nonplussed, and she was left to wonder if he was a little thick in the head.  Then, he opened his mouth, and she was certain he was.  “You’re a woman!”

She rolled her eyes and muttered, “Thought we’d established that, already.”

He shook his head, and stepped forward.  “No, you’d don’t understand.  I was told this was the place to go to commission an airship.  They said you’re the best around.”

She peered at him through narrowed eyes, assessing if he was pulling her leg.  She stalled on his face, again.  He had angular features with just enough smoothness to blend them together, dark hair cropped to his collar in current high fashion, and forest green eyes that were arresting in their intelligence and perception.  Something twisted in her chest, and her throat closed up for a moment.  She hated that feeling – the attraction that zinged through her – knowing there was no future for it.  There never was.

They talk a lot,” she managed gruffy, yanking the mask back down to conceal her face.  “Just who are they, anyway?  For that matter, who are you?”

“Jarath Pherson.”  He doffed his Homburg and strode further into her personal domain, raising Kata’s hackles.

“Never heard of him.”  She set her jaw, determined to ignore him.

He coughed.  “That would be me.   Tarsak Memkno recommended you.”

She froze.  Tarsak?  The little gnome was her idol, her mentor – the man who knew everything there was to know about airships and landracers.  Adrenaline rushed through her.  Tarsak really thought she was good?  A grin spread over her face, and she turned toward Jarath as she lifted the mask again and shut off her torch.  Finally, her chance to prove herself once and for all – convention, and what she should be doing, be damned.

“Well, then, what are we waiting for?”