Seasons’ Beginnings–Blurb and Cover Reveal

Coming October 2014…Seasons’ Beginnings, Book One of the fantasy Season Avatars series.

KroSeasons rgb, FINAL, med, low resn Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. When he visits the city of Vistichia, he encounters Sal-thaath, an extremely magical but dangerous child created by Salth, another magician Kron knew at the Magic Institute. Kron attempts to civilize Sal-thaath, but when his efforts lead to tragedy, Kron is forced to ally himself with a quartet of new deities and their human Avatars. Together they must defend Vistichia as Salth attempts to drain its life and magic. But Salth has Ascended halfway to godhood over Time. Will Kron’s artifacts be enough to protect the Avatars, especially the woman he loves, or will Time separate them?

Click here to add it to Goodreads!

Update: pre-order is now available on Amazon. It will be released 10/21/14. Click here to pre-order it.

 

Blurb and Call for Beta Readers: Seasons’ Beginnings

Last month, I finished the second draft of Season’s Beginnings, Book One in my fantasy Season Avatars series. I am currently looking for beta readers for this project. Here’s what I have so far for the blurb:

Kron Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. As he visits the city of Vistichia, he encounters Sal-thaath, an extremely magical but dangerous child created by Salth, another magician Kron knew at the Magic Institute. Kron attempts to civilize Sal-thaath, but when his efforts lead to tragedy, Kron is forced to ally himself with a quartet of new deities and their human Avatars. Together they must defend Vistichia as Salth attempts to drain its life and magic. But Salth has Ascended halfway to godhood over Time. Will Kron’s artifacts be enough to protect the Avatars, especially the woman he loves, or will Time separate them?

If this sounds like something you’d like to beta read, please comment below or e-mail me at ulbrichalmazanATsbcglobalDOTnet. If you have any suggestions for improving the blurb, please let me know that as well. Thanks!

Just Because I Write Urban Fantasy Doesn’t Mean It’s All I Read

Ok, I write epic fantasy as well, and I’ve published a few horror stories, though I wouldn’t call myself a horror writer. And, I definitely don’t limit myself to reading only the genres I write in.

One genre I just adore is historical fiction, and one of my all-time favorites is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Some put this title into the fantasy category due to the time travel elements, but what hooked me on this series was the amazing description of eighteenth century Scotland. And, every time Jamie calls Claire Sassenach, my heart does a little flip-flop.

BONUS: Starz is making Outlander into a TV series! I only hope they do the book justice.

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

I also enjoy a good mystery, and could curl up with an Agatha Christie novel any day of the week, even though I’ve read them all before. Other non-fantasy authors I find myself re-reading include Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, and Anne Rice. Good stories never go bad, you know.

What are some of your favorite genres?

For the Love of Romance

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to paranormal and fantasy books. So when I started writing, that’s where I began—writing paranormal. But then I branched out and read a few contemporary romances. Like …

Wild Cards by Simon Elkeles
Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1)

And Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy (Contours of the Heart, #1)

The next thing I know, I’m hooked on contemporary romance, reading that genre just as much as paranormal fantasy. Yes, I read two books at once. Oddly enough, I tend to read contemporary romance on my Kindle and paranormal in paperback or hardcover. I’m not sure why.

But now I write both genres as well. Kelly Hashway writes paranormal fantasy, and my alter ego, Ashelyn Drake, writes contemporary romance. It’s fun to branch out and try something new.

What Do Shrimp and a Group Blog Have in Common?

002They’re both things that are new for me.

Shortly before Christmas, my son got to go on a Toys-R-Us shopping spree with my father-in-law. One of the toys Alex picked out was a kit for growing triops, or prehistoric shrimp. We tried it once before, but it didn’t work very well. This time, we used a larger tank and kept a light on above it 24/7. Two shrimp hatched a couple of days later. One was thin, so I called him Needle. He unfortunately didn’t make it (he never changed, so I don’t know if he got enough to eat), but the other shrimp, which my son named after himself, is thriving. That’s a picture I took of him last night.

The other thing that’s new is a group blog I started with some other indie science fiction/fantasy writers I know. We call ourselves Indie Writers Monthly, and you can find us on our blog, on Twitter, and Facebook. Come check us out! (And don’t worry; I’ll still have time for this blog, even if I have to borrow a Time-Turner from Hermione to write all my posts!)

As for writing projects this year, I only have about two more months left of my haiku-a-day project. Each day, I write a haiku based on something that happened that day. My last day will be March 17, and afterwards I plan to publish my haiku collection. Some more conventional projects include Season’s Beginning, the first book in my fantasy Season Avatars series, and the next story in the SF Catalyst Chronicles series.

What’s new with you for 2014?

2014 and onwards

in 2013, Spencer Hill did me proud with a relaunch of The Obsidian Pebble, book 1 of the Artefact series. Obsidian Pebble front cover_120

Book 2, The Beast of Seabourne, is scheduled for October 2014. We’re already redrafting number 3 after beta readers have had their say.

In March 2014, the first of the Hipposync archives, contemporary adult fantasy, sticks its head out from under the covers. Once again, I’m really excited to see this join the growing band of Spence City authors. And once again, the awesome (and busy) Lisa Amowitz has worked with me on the cover. We’re calling it The 400Lb Gorilla.400lbGorillafinishCOVER

I will also be pondering  my previous existence as a thriller writer.  A decade ago I published 4 novels of the, ‘don’t read them if you’re alone in the dark’ type. Not horror, but psychological thrillers of the fava-beans-and-chianti type. Two were made into TV movies, so I kind of chalk them up as successful, but they weren’t really what I wanted to do and plotting them ended up sending me to places I didn’t really want to be.

However, since the publishers have decided to bring out a couple of them as ebooks, and these involve the same female lead character, I find myself drawn to the third manuscript still sitting in the drawer. There remains unfinished business there for Natalie Vine.

So, how am I going to manage 3 different personas? Well, I think it’s all about branding. Katherine Rusch says it all much better than I could here.

On that point, I’ll add one note of encouragement for everyone, again written by Ms Rusch and probably the wisest words I read in 2013.

‘The readers will buy what they like, when they find it, and when they want it. Not one moment before.
How do you find readers? Publish your work. Keep your work in print. Be patient.’

Have a great year.

The readers will buy what they like, when they find it, and when they want it. Not one moment before.

How do you find readers? Publish your work. Keep your work in print. Be patient.

– See more at: http://kriswrites.com/2013/10/09/the-business-rusch-standards/#sthash.Oowl3EBF.dpuf

The readers will buy what they like, when they find it, and when they want it. Not one moment before.

How do you find readers? Publish your work. Keep your work in print. Be patient.

– See more at: http://kriswrites.com/2013/10/09/the-business-rusch-standards/#sthash.Oowl3EBF.dpuf

Flash Fiction Challenge: Dancing with the Duke of War

This month, each Scene 13 author has been challenged to write a flash fiction piece based on the first image we find when we Google the last noun in the first sentence of the book we’re currently reading. At least we don’t have to walk uphill in the snow both ways to school while we’re doing this. (If we do, don’t tell me.) I read Moonlight & Mechanicals on September 4th, right before writing this scene, and the word I wound up with is “duke.” Here’s my image (Prince Phillip!); I attempted to link it to the original location, but you can also find it here.

For this scene, I’ve borrowed two characters, Gwen and Jenna, from Scattered Seasons, which I hope to have ready for publication next year. (I’m currently revising Seasons’ Beginning, the prequel to the Season Avatars series.) Duke Lex and this scene are new, but I may use them in the book. Technically, he isn’t “Duke of War,” but the phrase fits so well for this challenge I wanted to use it for the post title anyway.

 

The herald at the door blew a trumpet for attention. “Recently returned from his campaign in the Spice Islands, His Royal Highness Lex ro Fipt-Challen, Duke of Snolen and Avatar of War!”

The king’s younger brother marched into the room, his black jacket covered with enough medals to drown him. More impressive was his aura, a red bloodier than the Fall Avatar’s clear scarlet. Gwen schooled her expression into politeness as she curtsied, even though she wanted to usurp the Four’s justice and drain the life out of him. This man, acting for his god, thought nothing of sending thousands off to die and suffer in conflict, in direct opposition to the healing Gwen gave on behalf of her beloved goddess, Spring.

“Still a fine-looking man for his age,” Jenna muttered beside her.

“Jenna! Don’t you realize what he does?”

“Don’t you realize he’s coming straight for you?” She sounded envious.

Gwen stubbornly kept her gaze on the floor until a deep voice said, “Lady Gwendolyn lo Havil? Or do you prefer your title of Ava Spring?”

She slowly lifted her head to stare at him. A bit on the stout side, as if his love of fine food and wine was winning over his daily sword training. A high forehead, dark hair, and the hooked nose all members of the conquering Fipt family bore with pride. Not a set of features she admired, but his intense eyes made his face compelling.

“I am the Ava Spring, Your Royal Highness.” she said.

He smiled, his teeth in surprisingly good condition. “Our titles of Avi and Ava are of equal rank. Perhaps you could call me Lex.”

“That seems so…forward.” Confusion made her leave off a title. “We’re barely acquainted.”

“Then we must rectify the situation. Will you dance?”

Without waiting for an answer, he took her gloved hand and led her to the center of the ballroom. The musicians in their balcony overhead began a waltz. Jewels flashed around them as other couples took to the floor.

Gwen allowed the Avi War to lead her through the steps of the dance. The pressure on his arm around her waist both confined and thrilled her. This royal duke, this man, possessed more confidence and inner strength than all the other youths she’d danced with so far. Yet she was glad his touch didn’t trigger a telepathic link between them, the way it would between her and Jenna.  To discourage further intimacy, Gwen let the temperature of her outermost layer of skin drop to just above the point where she would develop frostbite. She could heal her skin when the dance was done.

“Are you always so … frosty, Ava–Gwen? Gwendolyn?” the Avi War–Lex– asked. He jutted his chin toward her bare forearm.  “Is that why you bear no marriage tattoo? Most women of your rank would be married by your age.”

“I have other duties, Avi.”

“Yes, of course. A pity you can’t leave Challen. I could use you on campaign.”

Gwen twitched her skirt so it wouldn’t brush against his trousers. “I would prefer not to be used that way, Avi.”

He frowned. “Please call me Lex. You would refuse to heal? Isn’t that what Avatars of the Goddess of Spring do?”

“Of course, but I prefer that there was no need for the healing in the first place.”

“War is as natural as the seasons of the Challen Gods and Goddesses.” He guided her into a turn. “War gives us reasons to improve our technology. It gives men no longer needed for farming a purpose. Why, it’s even inspired some of your former Avatars to come up with new healing methods ordinary people can use. War drives the growth and decline of nations. War may not be pretty or something a lady such as yourself would approve of, but it has its place in the world, Gwendolyn. If you were more acquainted with it, the way I am, you would understand.”

She bit back a laugh. “How does your God pick His Avatars?”

Lex arched an eyebrow. “Why, from members of the Fipt family, of course.”

The musicians began the final refrain, and Gwen spun under Lex’s arm. “But He doesn’t have a few dedicated Avatars like the Four do, those who serve Him life after life?” she asked.

“No, but it’s not the same for the Season Avatars, is it?”

“Our magic is from the soul, not the body. We retain our magic–and our memories.” Now Gwen let some of her anger shine in her eyes. “I was an old Avi Spring about to retire when your Fipt ancestors invaded Challen. I remember all too well the festering wounds, the soldiers I couldn’t save, the ones I healed physically but not inside.” I remember shielding the next Ava Spring from the conquerors who thought she was just another prize for their pleasure, not a servant of Challen’s Four. “So, don’t instruct me in the glamor of war.”

The music ended. Conscious of the other nobles observing them, Gwen sank into a curtsey and let her skin return to normal. “Your Royal Highness.”

“Ava.” He bent his head–the most respect a royal would show to anyone outside the ruling family–but he kept his gaze on her the entire time, studying her as if she were another opposing general he had to face. “We must continue our discussion later.” He turned to find another partner.

The War Avatars were master strategists. Gwen wondered what war he waged that required him to engage with her on the dance floor, but even if she had erred in speaking so bluntly, she wouldn’t withdraw her words.