Thanks to Ms. T for allowing me space on her blog today. I'm excited to announce the coming release of White Heart, Lakota Spirit from Moongypsy Press in April. If that seems far off, just take a minute and consider it feels like yesterday that we took down our holiday decorations. Some people still have up their lights. *smile*
Here's a short blurb to help you understand the story before I post the excerpt:
A normal morning turns to disaster when a small war party attacks Grace Cummings’ family and slaughters everyone but her. She's dragged to the Indian's camp filled with hatred, anger and fear, but through the help of another white woman in camp, learns the Lakota way. When white soldiers invade the camp and presume to rescue Grace, she must decide where her heart lies.
Papa scraped the last speck of egg from his plate and set it aside. “I s’pect Kev and me’ll find gold any day now. People are discoverin’ it all around us. When we make our strike, we can find some land and build a real house. It’s sure to happen soon… afore summer is past and the weather turns cold. In fact, Sassy, you and yer ma might want to start gatherin’ fair-sized stones and rocks for our fireplace.”
He pointed to the lean-to, still in progress. “In the meantime, Kev and I will finish our temporary shelter, so we can spread out a bit.”
No more climbing in and out of a wagon to sleep. Grace clapped. “Oh, Papa, that sounds so good.”
She sobered and flashed the look that always won him over…the half-pout, wistful gaze. “When we finally settle in our real house, it will be near a town, won’t it? Otherwise, how do you expect me to be courted out here in the middle of nowhere?”
“I’m not so sure I want you to be cour...” He jerked around and looked over his shoulder. “Do you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Kevin asked.
“I hear it, Papa,” Grace chimed in. “Sounds like yelling.”
Her father stood and scanned the horizon. He pointed. “Look. There!”
A group of riders emerged from a dust cloud in the distance. The yelling grew louder as they came closer.
The furrows in her father’s brow frightened Grace. “What is it, Papa?”
He darted for the wagon. “It’s Injuns! Hurry! You two women get inside and keep low. Kevin, get yer rifle!”
Grace’s heartbeat quickened and fear clutched her chest, making it hard to breathe. She’d heard about savages, but never saw one up close. She didn’t want to.
Her mother stood frozen in place. Grace grabbed her hand and pulled. “C’mon, Mama, we’d better do as Papa says.”
They ran around to the back of the wagon, and her mother boosted her up and over the closed tailgate. Grace dove inside, her mind filled with horrible thoughts. Would she get scalped or worse…were they all going to die? All the while, piercing yells sliced the air while thundering hooves pounded the ground.
Realizing her mother hadn’t followed, Grace rose up on her knees and peeked outside. A pack of whooping Indians rode round and round the wagon, their voices creating a din of eerie screams while bullets exploded. The hair on Grace’s arms stood on end. She covered her ears, crouched against the sidewall and prayed the savages would go away.
Shots rang out from beneath the wagon when Papa and Kevin returned fire. Fretting over her mother, Grace peeked out again. Mama shrieked and grabbed for the gate, but a mounted marauder pumped a bullet into her shoulder. She fell, silenced for the moment, but tried to struggle to her feet. The Indian shot her again.
Grace’s screams echoed in her own head. “No! Oh God, Mama,” she yelled at the top of her lungs. “Mamaaaa...”
Overpowered by hopelessness, Grace looked on as the painted rider stopped next to Mama’s fallen body and emptied another round into her. A stream of bright red trickled through the dry dirt, and her beloved mother lay motionless. Bile rose in Grace’s throat. She collapsed into a cowering heap, silenced her sobs with her hands, and clenched her teeth to keep from screaming. God hadn’t intervened so maybe the ordeal was all a bad dream and Mama wasn’t really dead. But, the shooting and whooping continued. Pounding hooves sent dust seeping into the wagon and Grace sputtered. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t awaken from the terror.
The gunfire suddenly ceased. She listened for the awful war cries but heard nothing but stony silence. Terror brought her breathing in ragged gasps. Were her brother and father still alive? And what about Mama?
Grace wanted to look, but feared what she’d see. Were the Indians gone? Summoning courage, she forced her eyes open and lifted her gaze even with the edge of the tailgate. Her heart seized when she found herself nose to nose with a scarred face covered with paint. Hate-filled eyes glared at her, and in his hand, a wooden club with dangling feathers loomed directly over her head. In fear for her life, she recoiled and covered her mouth to stop the scream rising in her throat.
A second face, not as old or menacing, peered in at her. The younger Indian grabbed the arm of the other and said something indistinguishable. They both stared at her.
Tears stung her eyes then drizzled down her cheeks. “Please, don’t kill me, please.”
The angry one grabbed her arm and dragged her over the splintered tailgate. A piece of wood pierced her side. She grimaced, scrunched her eyes closed, then hit the ground with a painful thud. Was this the end for her?
The savage stood over her, burning her with his hateful glare. Why? She didn’t know, although she’d heard stories about the Indians’ anger over the miners being in the Black Hills. But to kill over gold? That couldn’t be why. It just couldn’t.
Looking past him, she noticed others still mounted; beyond them the body of her mother. Through blurred eyes, she glanced back to the younger man then scanned beneath the wagon, searching for her papa and brother. Their lifeless bodies lay sprawled next to one another. Her heart ached at the needless loss. She no longer had a family.
She glared up at the Indian whose bright, lightning-bolt markings did little to hide the evidence of his encounter with a sharp blade—a jagged scar ran from his ear to his chin. Well-deserved, she supposed. Despite her grief and trembling legs, rage overcame her. She jumped to her feet and pummeled the chest of the one she believed responsible. He reeked of death.
“You...you savage. I hate you, I hate you,” she yelled.
The younger man grabbed her wrists; the look in his eyes warned her to stop. She lowered her head and stared at the ground. Her falling tears sprinkled the sparse grass and glistened in the sun.
Again, in a language she didn’t comprehend, the two men spoke in raised voices. The older one shoved the younger one away, grabbed Grace’s hands and trussed them together with a long piece of rawhide. Yanking hard on her tether, he pulled her toward his horse. Once mounted, he glowered at her with piercing eyes beneath a brow creased from years of frowning. He nudged his horse forward and led her like a pack mule, slow and steady at first.
She flashed a pleading look back at the younger one, but he mounted his horse and averted his gaze. Why didn’t they just kill her and get it over?
She quickened her pace to keep from falling. Her bare toes struck an occasional rock, and she winced in pain. Now she wished she’d listened to Mama and worn her shoes. Mama! Her wonderful, beautiful Mama. Through tears, Grace forced herself to glance back for one last look at the loved ones she’d never see again.
Again, thanks to my hostess for allowing me to post here today, and consider yourself invited to drop over to my blog. Tiranth is a welcome guest there, along with a wide array of authors writing in all genres. We're "Dishin' it Out."
Monday, February 22, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Today I have the pleasure of hosting Cate Masters. Everyone give her a warm welcome!
1. Tell us a little about yourself. Do you have a "day job?"
Though I now live in a gorgeous rural area of central Pennsylvania, I’m a Jersey girl, originally and at heart. My hometown of Lambertville is a very artsy town, across the Delaware River from New Hope, Pa. Not until I moved to central Pennsylvania did I appreciate how incredibly lucky I was to grow up surrounded in such a rich cultural environment. All my friends loved music, poetry and books, so I took it for granted that everyone’s life was that way. So I used Lambertville/New Hope as the setting in two of my releases – Seventh Heaven and an upcoming release, The Bridge Between. You can see how gorgeous the area is in the trailer for Seventh Heaven, featuring photos from my hometown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Rqe63e63FU
I have a part-time day job, but my fulltime job is writing. I treat it as my real day job.
2. What made you want to become a writer and how long have you been writing?
I was a very shy, quiet kid. Because my family lived out in the country with no nearby neighbors (and my mom didn’t drive!), I was also a bit lonely. Maybe that’s what led me to writing. As I said, I was also lucky to have incredibly talented friends who loved to write poetry too, although at the time I fantasized they were song lyrics. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in my own head (and still do!) and had a very overactive imagination (and still do!). Writing took a long breather while I raised my kids, but when I went back to it, it felt great. And I was more determined than ever – I took any classes or workshops I could squeeze into my schedule, bought many books on craft, joined writers’ groups and critique groups. In 2009, my hard work finally began to pay off in a string of acceptances, and I’ve been writing feverishly since.
3. What is your favorite genre to write?
I write across a range of genres and don’t have a favorite (don’t believe in them, actually). I need a lot of room for my wild imagination to roam around! So my stories are contemporary, fantasy/dark fantasy, paranormal, historical, speculative, across women’s fiction, mainstream and romance.
4. Do you have any particular writing rituals? Any snacks you must have while writing?
First thing in the morning, I turn on the computer. If it’s a workday, I catch up on emails and blogging and social networking, then head on out. If it’s my day off or a weekend, I start off the same but then get down to work. I don’t associate writing with food (probably a good thing!) but hot tea sustains me throughout the day. Sometimes it’s tough to get in the flow, but when I am, I block everything out, including taste and sound, so I never put music on. It would be a waste of electricity.
5. What's up next for you in the writing world?
Design for Life was released as part of The Wild Rose Press’ Flower Basket series on Feb. 10, 2010. A historical novel, Angels Sinners and Madmen, will be released by Freya’s Bower soon. Surfacing is a contemporary fantasy novel that Whiskey Creek Press will release. They also contracted a contemporary women’s fiction, The Bridge Between. Fever Dreams is a contemporary novel with fantasy elements to be released by Eternal Press in mid-2010. Three novels are circulating with publishers, so I’m hoping to have good news on those soon. And I entered another historical novel in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, so on Feb. 25th I’ll learn whether it made it through the first round cuts.
6. Do you have any advice for the writers/readers?
My best advice for writers is: go with your gut. Don’t try to write to the market, don’t let rejection prevent you from putting your work out there. Never never never give up. For readers, I beg you not to share your ebooks with any other readers. If you love what you read, great – leave a positive review, send the author an email, but respect the hard work that goes into producing the story. Piracy threatens to put hardworking authors out of work, which doesn’t benefit anyone. But finally, thanks to readers for your support!
Design for Life is available now from The Wild Rose Press:
Becca Lyndon puts her dreams on hold by leaving art school to care for her ailing mom. Working full time at The Flower Basket leaves precious little time, but she squeezes in night classes at the local college. When Mike Hunter fills in as a substitute teacher, she worries about a repeat of the critical reviews he gave her work when he substituted at her high school three years earlier. His reason comes as a complete surprise, but can she trust him? Or will he disappear like her father? When that possibility looms all too real, she’s determined never to let the design for her life unravel again. Following her bliss requires work, but pays off in more ways than she ever imagined. She also learns that one door might close, but another can open—and lead to unexpected opportunities.
Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at www.catemasters.com, www.catemasters.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Yeah...its that bad LOL The snow started on Friday, went until Saturday and has pretty much shut down a lot of things here in Baltimore. I didn't go to the lab Monday but walked up to the bus stop and went in today for a couple hours. Now as I type this, its snowing again and isn't supposed to stop until tomorrow night. So what have I been doing while snowed in? Have a look :
The pounding in my head was worse then any pain I'd ever experienced. I felt hands brushing my cheeks, vaguely registered that someone was talking to me but I couldn't focus because of the pain. Through the fog, I knew there was someone else in my mind with me. Who are you?
Don't. The voice, distinctly male and angry broke through the pain and then was gone. Retreating but not gone. A little of the pain subsided and I could make sense of the words I was hearing.
"Come on, honey, open your eyes." This voice was female, light and sweet.
Did I have to? Light would only make a headache like this worse. Wake up. Now. Grudgingly I cracked open one eye and found the room blessedly dim. I could make out a face, hovering over mine. "Where am I?" I managed to croak.
"We call it The Bunker. Can you sit up?"
Whether or not I could, obviously this woman meant to make me. Her arm snaked under my shoulders and lifted me to a sitting position. The room spun, making my head hurt that much worse.
"Here drink this."
She held a cup to my lips and I was struck by a foul smelling odor. Grimacing, I pressed my lips together. There was no way I was drinking that. The other woman laughed softly. "I know it smells terrible honey and it tastes worse but I promise it will take the pain away."
Drink it. The presence in my mind surfaced again briefly, commanding and then disappearing again. I figured neither would leave me alone until I drank the stuff and if it made this pain go away, I supposed I could drink it.
I swallowed quickly, wincing at the burn as it slid down my throat. "Yuck."
The woman looked at me with sympathy in her dark eyes and patted my hand. "I know, honey. Just give that a minute to work, k?"
I nodded and leaned my head against the back of the bed, glancing around at my surroundings. The room was rather large but only had one other bed. "Where did you say I am?"
"The Bunker. This will be where you are staying for quite awhile. I'm Miri."
Miri smiled. "Welcome to the Program, Kellan. Let me guess, Dr. Hutchins didn't tell you much of anything right?"
I laughed and realized the pain was starting to go away. "Yeah, she was pretty vague on the details."
"Typical. The military guards us closely. Only a very few not directly involved in the Program know about us. You want the insanely detailed version or the short version?"
"I think I'll take the short version," I replied.
"Basically you've become a glorified message transmitter for a dragon."
I remembered vaguely something about dragons...and something about a Link. I looked around, other than Miri and I, there was no one else in The Bunker. "So where is it?"
"Outside. Even the little ones are too big to fit in here, honey. Think you can stand up? I'm sure you're curious to see who they paired you with."
As Miri helped me across the empty room, I wondered if the presence in my mind was the dragon. I tried to focus on him again but was pushed away. I could feel his anger. Whoever they paired me with wasn't happy about it. We passed out of the dim interior and into the sunlight. There was a large stone space and then it dropped off. Before I could see how far up we were, I was knocked back a few steps by a gust of wind. A dragon was landing in front of us. He was about a little larger than a draft horse, his underside was dull black but the rest of his scales were dark green. Ridges ran down his back to a spiked tail. He lifted his head and let out a strange warbling cry. For a minute I thought maybe this was my dragon but the voice I had heard didn't match. My dragon was bigger. Much bigger. I glanced at Miri out of the corner of my eye and saw her smiling. "Friend of yours?" I asked, hesitantly.
"Yes, that's my Enoch," she said proudly. She strode forward to stand beside the dragon, rubbing his snout. "Go ahead, call yours."
"How?" I asked.
Enoch and Miri moved away from the edge and the woman gestured. "Step up to the edge. You can feel him in your mind can't you?"
I nodded. He was there but he was most certainly doing his best to ignore me. I did as Miri suggested and stepped to the edge, looking down. We were pretty high up. I could see now a stairway off to the side, leading down to lower levels. There were many other such plateaus and I could see other dragons laying about on the cliffs. The range of colors was amazing. For a moment I was captivated just watching them.
"Well, what are you waiting for honey? I'm busting a gut here to see your dragon."
"You and me both," I muttered. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes to concentrate better, focusing on that other presence. Well...are you going to come say hi?
Run away, little girl. Run away.
I'm not going anywhere.
We'll see about that, he snarled. A tremendous roar shook the ground and something red streaked by from below. The wind of his passing knocked me to the ground, my elbow striking the hard rock painfully. I heard Enoch bellow behind me in surprise. A dark shadow blotted out the sun and Miri pulled me back just in time or the dragon would have landed on me. He was huge. Bigger than a house. He barely fit on the platform as he stood on two legs, his wings spread. His back scales were red but the sun glinted off his gold undersides. Two viscious horns curved from above his eyes like a rams to point forward. He roared again, revealing his rows of jagged pointy teeth. "Oh good god, they gave you Jericho," I heard Miri breath in my ear.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Posted by Antonia at 11:22 AM
Monday, February 1, 2010
So some exciting things! Firstly, The Quickening has been nominated for two awards!! First the CAPA - Cupid and Pyche Award at The Romance Studio. I'm up there with some pretty big names so its very cool. The second award is LASR's Best Book of 2009, so go vote for me!
I submitted King of Cups, just waiting to hear back about that one and I'm working on a new story called Jericho. More on that another time.
I'll be guesting at Cindy Jack's blog for her Love Blog-abration, as well as be over at Miss Gingers.
Off I go to write!