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After Josephine Woods’ father dies of cancer, her mother up-roots the two of them and moves to the city. Josie hates her city life, but her teenage issues are of little consequence when they have a car accident and she wakes up in a strange land (reminiscent of Victorian Europe) alone. Lost, with her school backpack as the only connection to her world, Josie struggles to find her way home. She is found by Lucius Conrí, the son of a Marquess, who possesses royal blood and the gift to shift into a wolf’s form at will. Can the kind-hearted Lucius help her find her way while winning her love, or will she fall for Donovan Conrí his older, more serious brother and heir to the Conrí wealth?

 It runs from January 30th through February 5th on both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk as a Kindle Count Down Deal.  It starts January 30th at 12 a.m. for $0.99 (which is an 81% discount off the original price) changes to $1.99 at 12 a.m. on February 3rd and ends at 11 p.m. on Feb. 5th.
 
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EDC Johnson grew up in the Midwest, graduating from Michigan State University with her BFA in Art Education and her MA in Art Education from Western Michigan University. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in Palm Harbor, Florida. Her decade of experience as a public school art teacher has inspired her to write fiction novels that will entice young readers. You may see some of her illustrations in Renee Mallet’s: Fairies, Mermaids, and Other Mystical Creatures.

You may find more information about EDC and her book at…

 

Goodreads

Amazon

http://www.edcjohnson.com/

https://www.facebook.com/EDCJohnson

https://twitter.com/EDCJohnson

Find the link to Amazon UK here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moonflower-EDC-Johnson-ebook

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Author Interview: EDC Johnson pt II

Today, I get to continue my interview with the cool, and awesome author, EDC Johnson. The first part is here.  Her YA novel, Moonflower is available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobel.

R.w.F: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

EDC: On top of writing primarily at night from the comfort of my bed, I usually write to music. I make a playlist for the particular novel I am working on. I know that doesn’t sound quirky and lots of other writers have said they listen to music while they write. Here is where the quirk comes in. The songs I choose work like a soundtrack to the book, coordinating with scenes from the story. When I am working on a particular section/scene in my novel I will sometimes place that song on repeat. I can literally listen to one song dozens of times in a row.

R.w.F: Will you be including that soundtrack listing in e-editions of your book?

EDC: No, I hadn’t ever thought about including the playlist before. It was really just a writing tool for myself but perhaps I could do that for a blog post in the future.

R.w.F: Do you use Spotify, Pandora, or some other streaming service?

EDC: First let me say I love Pandora, like I really, really love it. I have found more great music that way. I have tried Spotify but I haven’t totally gotten into it yet but it is a nice service as well.  Though I do listen to random ambient or classical music on occasion, while writing I truly use iTunes the most. I really do listen to the same playlist again and again. It is a rather bizarre ritual I need to set the mood.

R.w.F: What’s your favorite genre of music?

EDC: I prefer alternative and indie music.  Like me, the musicians in these categories are doing their own thing, on the most part, despite what may be popular demand.  I also listen to a lot of classical, instrumental, and ambient music.  Sometimes it’s just best to have peaceful music and let your mind do the talking.

R.w.F: One food you would never eat?

 EDC:  Josie Woods, the heroine of Moonflower, doesn’t get her disdain of eggs for no reason.  I can’t do it.  I simply can’t eat eggs.  I don’t like the way they smell and the last time I ate one I vomited.  Amazingly though I do like egg-drop soup.  Go figure.

R.w.F: Reese’s Pieces, or Peanut Butter Cups?

EDC: Peanut Butter Cups, but honestly I wouldn’t pick either of them typically.  I’d go for something with caramel.

R.w.F: What was the scariest moment of your life?

EDC: I would have to say skydiving.  I was determined to do it before I turned 25.  It was one of my YOLOs.  It came about a few years later than I wanted, but my husband and I finally took the plunge.  It was totally worth it.

R.w.F: YOLO? Really? Don’t you think that is one of the most “No, duh” comments, or catch phrases, in the English language? 🙂

EDC: Aren’t you just a cheeky fellow.  I have to agree.  YOLO is used quite too liberally.  Your average Joe may tweet it at least once a week and usually for an insipid reason such as trying the new burger at a fast food chain or drinking in excess.  To me living as if this was my only turn to enjoy the splendors of the Earth involves trying things outside of my normal constraints e.g. to travel the world and see marvels, to eat exotic food (perhaps a sautéed bug), to try things that terrifies me (whether it is acting in a play or perhaps jumping out of a perfectly good plane), or dancing in the middle of a restaurant without a care as to who is watching because my favorite song came on.  YOLO shouldn’t be a phrase commonly used at all.  It should be a way of life.

R.w.F: Besides “Twilight” (barf), what is your biggest “Don’t judge me” pleasure?

EDC: Well, Rw, I wouldn’t say that I include Twilight in my guilty pleasures.  I may chuck it up to wanting to know what all the fuss is about; though I have to admit I don’t foresee myself ever reading 50 Shades of Grey no matter how popular it is.  In all honesty I enjoy animated films probably more than an adult woman should.  I truly enjoy them all claymation, Pixar, anime, you name it, I have probably seen it.  Anime probably has to be the most “don’t judge me” pleasure of them all though I am happy to see it becoming more mainstream with this up coming generation.

R.w.F: Anime is a guilty pleasure? Okay. Why do you like them?

EDC: Some are lighthearted and funny while others have amazing dramatic storylines.  Glass of wine optional!

R.w.F: Do you have a Website or Blog?

EDC: Absolutely, www.edcjohnson.com is where you can follow my updates.  I also have sites on other social media.  I’m EDC Johnson on facebook and @EDCJohnson on twitter.  I would love for my readers to follow me, and to feel free to ask me questions.

R.w.F: (laughs) Excellent. Thank you for you time, and for doing the interview.

Author Interview: EDC Johnson

Today, I get to interview the cool, and awesome author, EDC Johnson. You may remember her from last week’s guest post about the love triangle. Her YA novel, Moonflower is available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobel.

RwF: Are you willing to share what the EDC stands for, or is that part of your secret identity?

EDC: My first name is Elizabeth, I’m not trying to keep that a secret, but in an effort to protect what fragment of my identity I can I will keep the rest to myself.

(I did some digging for my fans. The other initials stand for Desire Chaistain. Or was it Donald Charles? No… Oh, yeah: Depak Chopra! No, that would be insulting. That’s right: Deborah Chinning.)

R.w.F: Okay, then. How would you prefer to be addressed by your crazed, stalkery – Wait, I mean, your adoring, polite fans?

EDC: You have to keep your stalker fans in line you know .  I prefer to be addressed as EDC Johnson or Ms. Johnson.  Some times I get asked or teased about having the three initial but in my defense there are quite a number of Johnson’s out there.  (You have no idea how badly I wanted to say “…that’s Dr. Jones, to you toots.”)

R.w.F: <chuckles> Without giving too much away, can you tell us what your book is about?

EDC: Beyond the synopsis I would have to say it is a real coming of age story.  The heroine, Josie Woods, has a lot of personal growth going on through the novel.  It addresses issues that range from coming to terms with death, falling in love and self-awareness.  Josie’s adventure isn’t limited to a journey to a strange world, but the journey of becoming a young adult.

R.w.F: How long did it take you to write this book?

EDC: I was writing the book for about 3 years in my free time. When it was complete I went through the editing process with my writing group and the publishing process for approximately another year on top of that.

R.w.F: What was your inspiration to write this book?
EDC: It may seem cliché, but it came to me in a day-dream. Right before I was about to fall asleep I imagined this scenario and it began to play like a movie in my mind. Then I incorporated my favorite necklace into the idea. It is made of moonstone. This then made me wonder if there was an actual moonflower, and, well, the rest is history.

R.w.F: Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
EDC: Moonflower is a novel that has something for readers of all ages: action, drama, romance and has debuted to positive reviews.

R.w.F: Which of the so-called rules of writing did you hear the most as you wrote?

EDC: When I began writing I had a tendency to use passive voice too often.

R.w.F: What is your opinion of it?

EDC: Passive voice isn’t totally a bad thing but when it is overused in your writing it will weaken your story.   I avoid this problem by trying to use an active voice often so when a passive phrase sneaks in it isn’t so bad.

R.w.F: Are you an outliner, or a seat-of-the-pants writer?

EDC: I am mostly a seat-of-my-pants kind of writer.  I have distinct moments plotted in my mind and I definitely know how I want the book to end. In essence I will start at moment A and the characters play out action toward their goals to reach moment B.  On occasion I will imagine a new plot point that adds action or meaning to the story and I will work that in unexpectedly.

R.w.F: Why pantsing?

EDC: As an artist, creativity tends to be a very kinetic thing.  I understand the use of an outline and can appreciate those that use them but I have never enjoyed them myself.  For some reason I find it to be busy work, yet it can be very useful.  It is simply how I work—to each their own and all that.

R.w.F: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

EDC: Well, it was really a two-part process. It started by reading Twilight with my husband at a friend’s recommendation. If I am completely honest, at the risk of upsetting Twilighters, it became a running joke with my husband how many times Stephenie Meyer used the word “dazzling.” I still enjoyed the book and read the rest of the series, but I came to the conclusion that it was a good entertaining book without Pulitzer Prize winning writing. I thought to myself I can do that!

As the Twilight craze continued I noticed a few of my students were reading the book. During discussion with a group of girls some had admitted that they would wait for the movie rather than read the thick YA novel. Later that week I saw a girl thumbing through a book she was debating to read. She decided to check it out of the library when she saw the illustrations. This made me decide that I wanted to write a book that would be appealing to young readers yet still challenge them as budding readers. As an art teacher my artistic skills would be put to good use in drawing my own chapter header illustrations. It was my hope that young readers would be less intimidated to read novels while growing their vocabulary and ability for sustained reading.

R.w.F: What is your take on the “rule” to write what you know?

EDC: There is a truth in it. Obviously fiction writers are creating their own worlds and scenarios but to bring a character to life a writer must breathe life into him. The best way to make a character is to understand his/her emotions through your own experiences. How can you write love, hate or sadness if you have never felt it yourself?

R.w.F: Good point. Do you have any writing projects you are working on?

EDC: I am working on the sequel to Moonflower of which I’m not willing to give away too many details. I’ll save the title for a future blog reveal, but I want you to relish in the idea that our characters will meet again—with a few new friends.
I have another series I am working on that will shy away from the period era setting and stretch the idea of fantasy. This project is a long way off as I work on the Moonflower series.

This interview will continue on Wednesday. 

Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C2,S3)

Previous subchapter is here.

 

Subchapter 3

 

I came to with a faint headache. I sat up and clutched my skull, trying to keep my brain from leaping for freedom. I sensed someone nearby, but didn’t say anything. I wanted them to identify themselves first.

“Good. You are awake.”

I recognized the basso profundo of Angriz. I turned to where I heard his voice coming from. I still could not see.

“It didn’t work, Angriz,” I said. I tried to keep the disappointment from my voice, but I don’t think I succeeded.

He gave a low chuckle. “I’m sorry. I forgot to light the fire.”

A familiar sound rumbled from him. When I saw a stream of fire race from his mouth to the fireplace, I recognized it. Then, “Holy crap, Angriz! I can see again!”

I leaped to my feet. In my excitement, I got my feet tangled in the blanket I’d been covered with, and slammed into the floor. I groaned in pain, and then remembered I was no longer blind. I sprang to my feet, exuberant, and made to throw my arms around my friend in my exuberance. I then spotted the blood-caked claw marks on his face.

“What happened to your face?”

“I forgot my place and Lady Soo-jau reminded me,” he said sotto voce.

“I believe I will speak with her about this,” I growled as I headed for the door. ‘Even if she did fix my eyes, no one gets away with hurting my friends.’

“She forgave me my lapse.”

I stopped. “Is this a dragon thing?”

“Indeed.”

“But, you’re only a half-dragon. Why’re you being held to the same standards as a full-blood?”

He cleared his throat. “It’s…personal, Carter.”

“Damn.” I sighed.

When Angriz didn’t reply, I looked around and discovered a log cabin style room. What appeared to be mud chinked walls stood in a pentagonal shape. Tapestries hung from the walls on my left and right as I faced the fireplace. On the left, a forest scene with a deer drinking at a brook. The right hand one looked to be of the night sky. A fan of astronomy, I walked over to learn what constellations I could come up with. When I approached, the wall-hanging seemed to become three dimensional. I smelled something like heated rose oil. It grew stronger until I was about two feet from the arras. The stars now surrounded me, to my delight. I’d never seen anything so remarkable! I reached out to try to touch one of the stars before I stopped myself. I did the same thing at the movies. As my hand approached, one of the stars grew larger until I spotted planets revolving. My jaw dropped as a grin grew on my face. ‘This is awesome! I gotta ask if I can have one of these!’ I reached for one of the planets next.

A sudden knock startled me. I blinked, and the tapestry had reverted back to its two dimensional form. I opened the door. When my eyes fell upon the gorgeous woman on the other side, I forgot all about the tapestry. Her robes were palest azure trimmed with silver thread. Her hair, a fiery dark orange, hung over her right shoulder in a braid. Her eyes were the color of grass, her lips like sun-ripened strawberries and her flawless skin like ivory. A smudge of brown paint marked her high cheek bones and a golden necklace with a small bird pendant rested just above the swell of her bosom. Most surprising, her ears were pointed and pushed out a little through her hair. ‘Lady Orwen, you are the most beautiful woman I know, but this lady; she is magnificent.’

“Are you an elf?” I asked. Then, realizing how it must have sounded, I slapped myself in the forehead.

“Nae,” she laughed. “I be a half-elf. Me father be the full-blood.”

The memory of our previous meeting surfaced just then.

“Oh, yeah. I remember now. Your mother came from Éire.”

“Aye.”

“So this is what you look like, Keeper Dearbhaile,” I said, my voice husky. “You are beautiful.”

“Thank you, Lord Blake,” she said, blushing.

Her burr was almost gone. ‘Curious. I’ll have to ask her about that.’

Angriz spoke up from over my shoulder. “Is Lady Soo-jau waiting for us?”

“Oh, aye! The Lady sent me tae learn whether Laird Blake had risen and tae invite ye both tae dinner if he had.”

She turned and hurried off. I gave into temptation and watched her hips sway as she glided away. After she was out of sight, I turned to Angriz.

“Please tell me I can bathe. I reek,” I said.

“Indeed,” he replied.

He led me to the back of the house. He opened a door and gestured me inside. I entered and saw a bathroom which wouldn’t have been out of place in a mansion back home. The hardwood floor resembled black oak. The ceiling appeared to be glass. As I watched, clouds scudded across the sky. I gathered from their swift movement a storm would hit soon. I looked back at the rest of the bathroom. The tub, hidden by a line of actual shrubs, was the size of an Olympic pool yet not artificial in form. The builders built over a natural pool. I glanced to my right. ‘And over a brook as well.’ Across from where I stood, buffalo grass grew right up to the edge of the water. The pool itself was strewn with cattails and water lilies. Bullfrogs and crickets chirred nearby. A single willow tree made up one wall. The others, marble and the white of fresh snow. ‘I’m in someone’s sacred meadow.’

I don’t know how long I stood, mesmerized by the beauty before me. A knock at the door brought me back to my senses. I shucked my clothes in a hurry as I called back to the door. “Yeah?”

“Just checking to make sure you were still alive,” responded Angriz.

I laughed as I slid into the warm water. “What would you have done if I had been under water and missed your knock?”

“Came in, and when I found you were okay, drowned you for worrying me.” He chuckled.

“I’ll be done in about ten minutes.”

“I’ll inform Lady Soo-jau.”

I finished my ablutions in a hurry and found the pile of clean clothing someone had left for me along with a four foot length of deer hide to dry myself with. I dried and dressed, then went out looking for my friends. I took in all the sights, like a starving man at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The theme I noticed in the bathroom continued throughout the house: Three walls of pure white marble with the fourth being the trunk of an enormous tree. The flooring continued to be black oak and the ceilings were all glass, or maybe crystal. The place had to have been constructed with magic.

Soon, I found my way to the dining area, appointed in a Japanese and Roman blend. ‘I wonder how they achieved this effect. Have other people come here besides me and Keeper Dearbhaile’s mom?’ The table was situated low to the ground, and at each side was a couch. An older woman with blue tinged skin reclined at the far end of the table from me. Angriz and Keeper Dearbhaile knelt at the table to the woman’s left and right sides. From this positioning, I assumed she was Soo-jau, the Weirdling. As I crossed the room, I continued to look around. The wall behind Angriz was a huge stained glass window depicting a blue dragon lying with an emerald one by a wooded glen. Behind Dearbhaile ranks of gladiator statues lined a marble wall. Behind Soo-jau stood three wooden Tiang Roman pillars that rose to the ceiling. To either side of the pillars were shoji, a sliding rice-paper partition. What appeared to be Tatami mats rested on the floor. Servants came and went: bowing, placing platters of food, removing empty ones and refilling cups and glasses. I approached the table and bowed forty-five degrees to everyone, beginning with the lady and ending with Angriz.

“Please forgive this one’s lateness,” I said, imitating something I’d seen in a samurai movie. I was inspired by the scenery.

“Nothing to forgive, Carter,” said the lady on the couch.

I recognized her soft voice. She was indeed Soo-jau. She gestured for me to sit at the table. When I began to take a position near Angriz, the Lady beckoned me closer to her.

“You shall sit at my right hand.”

I did as she bade. A servant placed a brace of rabbit on a plate before me. The rabbits were roasted to a golden brown perfection. The aroma wafting upwards into my nose had my mouth watering. With a surreptitious glance around me, I noted the others were eating. So, without further hesitation, I began to devour the rabbit. I spotted a bowl of green vegetables. I pulled them over and began to scarf them. Angriz and I had only been traveling for a couple of days, but I felt as if I hadn’t eaten any vegetables in forever. Next was a tureen of a stew with thick chunks of boar floating near islands of potato. Here and there were carrot pieces sticking up like a jagged reef. Though I’d been eating for the last twenty minutes, the scent of the herbs and spices coming from the stew caused my stomach to give a loud growl. A muffled chuckle came from my left. I glanced at the Vaush-Tauric’s apprentice, then resumed my eating. She slid a platter of fresh biscuits over to me. I murmured my thanks, grabbed a biscuit, dunked it into my bowl of stew and took a large bite, moaning with pleasure at the taste.

“Hungry, Carter?” Angriz asked.

Rather than responding with sarcasm, I grunted and continued to eat. Seeing a plate of fish had been placed within reach, I pulled it to me. A massive belch threatened to erupt from me. I did my best to stifle it, but it still managed to rumble through despite the tightness of my lips. Again, from my left, came a muffled giggle. My face heated with embarrassment.

“Compliments to the host’s kitchen!” said Lady Soo-jau.

This caused everyone else in the room to give a shout of laughter. I ducked my head and paused in my eating. I hated the shame that welled up within me. This reminded me of that time in kindergarten when my class got to visit the White House and have lunch with the President of the United States. We had won a contest by being the kindergarten class that had raised the most money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I had belched at the table, causing almost everyone to laugh. I was pulled from the table by my teacher and lectured on how “nice people didn’t do things like that at the table”.

A warm hand touched my shoulder. I glanced over to Keeper Dearbhaile. She had a look of concern on her face.

“Are ye unwell, Laird Blake?” she said in a soft voice, fingering her necklace.

“Yeah. Just reliving a bad memory. I’m okay now.”

“I apologize if me laughin’ caused ye pain.”

“No,” I lied. “It’s something else.”

I put on a big smile for her benefit. She gave me a warm smile in return, then patted my shoulder and returned to her meal. I’d been so focused on her that I hadn’t noticed that conversation had resumed around me. I resumed eating as well when Lady Soo-jau spoke to me. “I understand that Angriz has begun to teach you how to fight with a sword.”

“Correction, ma’am, he has begun to teach me the care of a sword and the various parts of a sword.”

“What are the common parts of a sword?”

“A sword is comprised of a tip, edge, fuller, tang and hilt, which is made up of the guard, grip and pommel, Lady Soo-jau.”

“Excellent. What is the best way to care for a sword?”

“First thing in the morning, the sword is removed from the scabbard, wiped down with a cloth – rabbit skin is best, but deer hide will do in a pinch – then the edge is sharpened. After sharpening, the blade is wiped down with a grit cloth and then buffed with a polishing rag. At the end, you rub a light coat of oil over the length of the blade and re-sheathe.”

“Excellent, Carter. You are taking to your lessons well.”

I smiled with pleasure at the compliment. I had heard similar words from Angriz, but they seemed different somehow when Lady Soo-jau said them.

“Carter,” boomed Angriz. “Tell the Lady what you have learned about pumice.”

I decided to add what I learned about it from my world, in addition to what he had taught me.

“Pumice is a term for a volcanic rock that is solidified frothy lava created when super-heated, pressurized rock is ejected from a volcano. It has a sulfurous odor, yet is excellent for cleaning swords. If dried blood, rust, or other undesirable element is on the blade, a light scrubbing with a pumice stone will clean it off in a matter of moments.”

“Excellent, my boy. I am a grand teacher, am I not, Lady?”

“You are indeed, Sir Angriz,” she said with a chuckle.

“Lady Soo-jau,” I asked, changing the subject, “how is it that you were able to restore my sight? I was told that the magic of this world wouldn’t affect me.”

“I used ancient draconic magic to heal your sight. Who told you that magic couldn’t heal you?”

“Lord Mordecai. He told me I was immune to magic.”

She scowled. “That is odd that Mordecai would tell you this. He is no beginner. I’d wager he knows more of magic than I.”

As I puzzled through this line of conversation, I was well aware of the gorgeous elf woman sitting to my left. Every movement, and change in breathing I noted. I know: you are wondering how I have these reactions to Lady Orwen and Keeper Dearbhaile if I have feelings for my lab partner Daphne Sinclair, right? Allow me to remind you: I am fourteen years old. According to what biology teaches us, I should be reacting like this to just about any female within ‘breeding age’.

I searched for something to say when there was a streak of gray before my eyes. I blinked and was fascinated by something familiar perched upon the table near my plate. The creature came forward and rubbed his head on my left hand like a cat. I grinned, at the same time, Keeper Dearbhaile shrieked. Somehow I knew this was the Slitter which had adopted me at Victory Keep.

Keeper Dearbhaile leaped to her feet in fright. She pointed her finger at the Slitter and electricity began to play over it. I put my right hand out and the Slitter ran up my arm and huddled on my shoulder. I looked at her and waited with a calm that wasn’t one hundred percent real. She looked at me with a sheepish expression and lowered her hand, the electricity dying away as she did.

“He’s a friend,” I said.

“I’m sorry.”

“Shocking that a Slitter can be friendly, huh?”

“Aye,” she said.

“This one was raised by Lady Orwen to help defend her home,” I explained. “For reasons I haven’t fathomed, this one has decided to adopt me.”

The Slitter clambered up to my head and curled its fingers in my hair as he sat. Seconds later, he made a series of sounds that were similar to underwater flatulence. I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help myself: it was funny. What made it even better was seeing Keeper Dearbhaile laughing as hard.

Lady Soo-jau ignored our laughter and made the same type of sounds herself. I fell from my chair, convulsed with laughter. The Slitter leaped back to the table in seeming disgust. I was soon joined on the floor

by Keeper Dearbhaile. The Slitter and Lady continued to take turns making the sounds. I laughed so long and hard, my jaw cramped and ribs began to ache.

I was hauled to my feet. “Control yourself, Carter.” said Angriz.

Having a seven foot tall half-dragon growl at you is a sobering experience, let me tell you. My desire to laugh withered. I turned to Lady Soo-jau. Out of the corner of my eye, I detected Keeper Dearbhaile returning to her feet, solemn. She brushed off her robes and sidled behind me; making me the sole focus of the Vaush-Tauric’s wrath if any came. She played with her necklace again.

Lady Soo-jau continued to make the sounds with the Slitter. I noted a rhythm to the sounds which escaped me earlier. Then, it hit me: they were conversing!

“They’re going to be a while, Carter. You should retire for the evening,” Angriz whispered.

“Why are they going to be a while?” I asked.

“Slitters are used to conversing with treebeards which are the only race with the patience to chat at length with them. Introductions will last several hours.”

I had heard that somewhere before, but couldn’t remember where.

“Got it,” I said. I looked over my shoulder to the half-elf woman standing behind me. “Keeper Dearbhaile, would you show me back to my room? I’m worried I’ll get lost.”

“O’ course, me laird,” she replied.

I burst out laughing.

“What is funny?”

“Sorry. Private thoughts caused me to laugh.”

“Fair enough.”

I had read the same thing about characters in a book by J.R.R. Tolkien a while ago. I stretched out in my bed after Keeper Dearbhaile left me to enter my room, and closed my eyes.

Continues here.

Guest Post from E.D.C. Johnson

Today, I have a guest post for y’all from the wonderful E.D.C. Johnson. She’s the author of the excellent YA story called Moonflower. It’s available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

A brief blurb about the story: After Josephine Wood’s father dies of cancer, her mother up-roots the two of them and moves to the city. Josie hates her city life, but her teenage issues are of little consequence when they have a car accident and she wakes up in a strange land (reminiscent of Victorian Europe) alone. Lost, with her school backpack as the only connection to her world, Josie struggles to find her way home. She is found by Lucius Conrí, the son of a Marquess, who possesses royal blood and the gift to shift into a wolf’s form at will. Can the kind-hearted Lucius help her find her way while winning her love, or will she fall for Donovan Conrí his older, more serious brother and heir to the Conrí wealth?

And now, Ms. Johnson, it’s all yours.

***

Three Main Aspects That Make a Good Love-Triangle

There are three main aspects that make a good love-triangle:  both of the potential romantic leads need to have contrast, there must be both pros and cons for the protagonist to be involved with either choice and finally the protagonist must be riddled with indecision.

In my novel Moonflower, the two love interests, Lucius Conrí and Donovan Conrí, are brothers with very different personalities.  Not only is Donovan the older brother, he was raised to be the next heir as Marquess.  He serves in the military and takes his future very seriously.  In great contrast Lucius, as the younger brother, knows that he is not destined for greatness like his brother.  He did not have the luxury of countless tutors preparing him for his future.  Konrad, an old alchemist, was his only teacher but also became a mentor and friend.  He is a hard worker but focuses his energy in the here-and-now.  These qualities present two distinct choices, no Ménage à trois in this YA book.

For a love triangle to truly sizzle the characters need flawed realism.  If any character is too good to be true then it gets annoying and pointless.  Donovan has some in-your-face pros and cons.  At first the reader may not be sold on him as a possible love interest.  Although he is smokin’ hot, Donovan’s demeanor is judgmental, exclusive and self-important.  Our heroine, Josephine Woods, has to peel away his layers to discover his inner self.  His confidence, maturity and passion make him a total babe.

Lucius is the younger energetic brother with a bit of growing up to do.  He wears his heart on his sleeve and acts impulsively.  Despite his weaknesses he has lots of love to give and a kind heart.  He wants the best for all the people in his land.  Lucius is crazy about Josie and, hey, what girl doesn’t like that?!

These amazing qualities and intriguing flaws makes it difficult for Josie to decide which brother is the one for her.  Throw in her desire to return home, away from them altogether, and she becomes apprehensive to invest too much into either of the two boys.  The inner struggle Josie has debating between Donovan and Lucius is the crown to this royal affair.  The suspense and the process excites the reader and allows them to develop a favorite brother to root for.  Team Donovan or team Lucius, which will you be?

You can find more information about EDC Johnson and her novel Moonflower at:

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Moonflower-EDC-...

Website:  http://www.edcjohnson.com/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/EDCJohnson

Into the Realm, The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C2,S2)

Previous subchapter is here.

Subchapter 2

I found myself looking at everything, my head swiveling like a metronome, only a lot slower. Victory Keep took my breath away. I estimated the outer walls, constructed of a dark blue-green stone, rose to maybe fifteen point twenty four meters. The crenelated top allowed archers to rain arrows on enemy armies. Scattered through the battlements, gargoyles leered down at all who dared trespass upon the road. Towers at each corner soared about fifty meters higher than the wall. The thoroughfare terminated at an immense coppery-gold gate. Above the gateway, a high relief of a colossal silver dragon clutching a dozen spears in one fist and the throat of a vampire in its other sat embedded in the fortification. The drake gave the impression of roaring at us as we passed beneath.

Angriz seeing me staring up at the relief, leaned down and whispered, “The herald of the Orwen family.”

I nodded in acknowledgment without looking at him. When my companions and I approached, the gate creaked up, sliding into a disguised recess. We trekked through a torch lit corridor. I noticed arrow slits at various levels in the walls and caught sporadic glints of light reflecting off sharp tips. ‘Are they all pointed at me?’ I swallowed hard, praying no one’s finger slipped. Moments later, the passageway ended at another odd metal door which glided without sound to the left, at our approach before disappearing into the wall. We exited in time to see the draw bridge lower. An acrid stench filled my nostrils as we crossed the expansive moat, causing my eyes to water and burn.

“The channel contains acid and Slitters,” Angriz said sotto voce, pointing.

“What are Slitters?” I inquired.

Before he could answer, Lady Orwen halted the party. She tugged on a shiny ebony gauntlet and gave a sharp whistle. Seconds later, I heard a low hiss, then glimpsed a flash of gray. I blinked, fascinated by something strange perched upon her hand. A bipedal creature the size of a toad crouched in her palm. Long and ungainly arms descending from beside the animal’s chest. Reverse articulated legs settled into big, toad-like feet complete with a trio of toes, from the ends of which protruded razor-sharp claws. On its large hands were four digits. These, too, ended in wicked talons. Its hide was rubbery and gray. The thick, ropy hair quivered with its own dark energy. My jaw dropped when a greenish-black fluid dripped from its maw and hissed as it touched the gauntlet.

“This is a Slitter,” said Lady Orwen, staring at the beast, “so named for their preference of making hundreds of slits in their prey.”

“What do they hunt?” I asked with some trepidation.

“Everything,” came the swift, yet ominous, response.

“The ones here in the fosse were raised and trained by Her Highness,” Angriz said. “They only allow her to handle them. You’ll want to stay away from them.”

The Slitter poised on her hand surprised all of us, me in particular, when it vaulted to my right shoulder, placed its hands on my ear and peered in. The creature then brought its face up to my eye and stared for several seconds. I stopped breathing, waiting for it to decide to make slits in me. Instead, the Slitter crouched on its perch and seemed to be comfortable doing so. I worried about the green goo escaping from its maw, but the other-worldly drooling appeared to have stopped. I looked at the others and spotted the Lady staring slack-jawed.

“Seems you have made a friend,” said Mordecai.

I grinned as Angriz nodded and showing surprising gentleness, shut Lady Orwen’s mouth with his left hand. Without uttering another word, she turned on her heels and continued towards her family’s home. We walked across the sturdy wood and stone drawbridge and approached a second tremendous fortification. The portal here was protected by crisscrossed thick iron bars. The vertical pieces disappeared down into the ground, the horizontal ones shifted left, into the wall. The striated adamant door spiraled open. ‘Cool.’ We passed through, entering the outer bailey.

The clash of steel had me peering about, attempting to locate the source. When I did not, I continued my examination. I discerned the grounds were well cared for; flourishing flora and fauna of myriad varieties. Off to the right was an abbreviated thicket of trees, their lush and green branches neatly trimmed. To my astonishment, one got up and walked further in towards the castle!

“Whoa, is that a treebeard?” I wondered out loud.

Mordecai answered, “Yes. That one is called Caretaker.”

I took in the tree man’s movements and marveled how he was able to stroll about and yet keep in full contact with the earth. ‘I wonder if the guys would think this is as amazing as I do.’

Angriz tapped my shoulder. I glanced back, he motioned to our left. I rocked to a halt when I spotted what was there, which I thought to be a corral for horses. I grinned as I realized the ring’s purpose: a training area for infantry. I asked if we could go closer, and when Lady Orwen smiled with a nod, I raced to the oak log walls of the ring.

Two soldiers, wearing only leather pants and boots danced around each other, swinging dull, heavy swords. One brandished a longsword and shield. The shorter dual wielded with a short sword. The metal of the weapons clashed in rhythm. I recognized it as the clanging from before. The only additional sounds were grunts of effort, the scrape of feet on dirt and an occasional curse as one would score a hit. The dust they kicked up would obscure the view on occasion. I was annoyed by the dirt cloud as I enjoyed watching their expert use of weaponry.

A gentle shower began to fall. Within moments, the precipitation was a heavy downpour. I failed to notice, mesmerized by the conflict. Soon the rain was more obfuscating than the dust had been. Still the two battled on, ignoring the elements. Angriz tapped my shoulder and indicated we head inside.

“May we stay a while longer?” I asked

He shook his head. Concentration broken, I felt the chill through my sodden clothes. I saw for the first time that everything seemed grey and washed out. I followed the half-dragon at a brisk jog into the castle proper. My soaked clothing clung to me like another layer of skin, making me shiver. The tower walls muted the pounding rain to a gentle thrum. Angriz led me into a tower up the spiraling stairs, past several landings. At the top, he swung open a six foot pine plank door. He gestured for me to enter first. I found myself in a large, beautiful room. The stone floor was covered by a hand woven rug, depicting a hunt. An antique, hand-carved armoire stood across from me, doors wide open, outfits swinging from the rods and others folded upon its shelves. No telling what was in the drawers. More garments, I assumed.

On the right, two comfortable chairs sat in front of a big fireplace. A blaze roared within, warming the entire room. To the left, perched at the top of four steps, was an immense canopied bed ringed by emerald curtains. They were drawn, allowing a view of numerous bright colored silk pillows stacked at the head, pulling my eye upwards to the family herald hanging above. A stoic cedar chest resided at the foot of the bed. To the left, was a well-worn mahogany roll-top desk. The long forgotten Slitter reminded me of its presence when it leaped from my shoulder to the desk and began cleaning itself like a hamster. I made a mental note to ask Lady Orwen why this one had adopted me and why it stopped drooling while sitting on my shoulder.

“Please make yourself comfortable, Carter. His Majesty Redigar will return from his hunt soon,” Angriz informed me. “You might wish to bathe and dress in proper attire for your audience with him. I must attend to Lord Mordecai. Pull the rope by the bed if you have need of anything.”

I nodded, too overwhelmed for words. He then exited, pulling the door shut after him. I noticed a large book shelf that had been hidden by the angle of the open door. Over a thousand volumes must have rested on the shelves.

Continues here.

Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C2,S1)

Previous subchapter is here.

Chapter 2

 

Subchapter 1

I turned to discover who’d welcomed me. I felt my jaw drop as I beheld a ripped man covered in  Aureate scales. He was about 183 centimeters tall, had what looked like the whiskers of a cat near his mouth, and a white mane of hair on his head. His eyes orbs of molten gold. He wore chain mail greaves and cuirass, boots and gloves. At his waist hung a long sword in a baroque jeweled sheath. Pulling off a glove, he extended his hand. “I’m Angriz, one of Lord Mordecai’s bodyguards.”
 “You’re a dragon,” I said. I gave myself a mental forehead slap. ‘Smooth, genius.’
 Angriz surprised me by chuckling. “I’m a half-dragon,” he corrected. “Father was full-blooded. Mother was human.”
 “Did they die?”
He paused, his eyes now seeming argent. “Indeed. Drago and his filthy followers killed them five years ago.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. They’re in Vashara. Know this though, I will toss Drago on a sacrificial pyre while he still lives. That shall please them.”
I blanched at his casual tone. I couldn’t believe it. “Wait a minute,” I protested. “Drago is a good guy.”
Angriz’ eyes flashed. His body tensed and he pulled himself up to his full height. I backed up in a hurry. In what I could only consider exceptional timing, Mordecai arrived, sparing me Angriz’ wrath.
“As I said in your world, you are incorrect,” the big guy rumbled. “He’s the most ruthless of the dark dwarves. He rose to power some twenty years ago. As soon as he consolidated his hold over his people, Drago launched a campaign of terror against the High Elves of Meryth Drangor. There peaceful cities used to lie in the forest below us. Over the last several years, he wiped out almost all of them in a systematic fashion. Not quite genocide.” He paused a moment as if calculating something. “There are maybe five hundred left. He did more than kill them, though. The bastard delighted in torturing them as well. He terminated any who opposed him, whatever the race. Among those Aurora and Rhynskald, Angriz’ parents.”
“And also Reitha, Lord Mordecai’s wife,” interjected the half-dragon.
“Damn,” was all I could think to contribute. I straightened. “So, why do you say you need me? I have no knowledge of war, or of fighting for that matter.” I shook my head and stepped back. “Get someone else.”
Mordecai folded his arms. “Morgrid tasked me with bringing you to the Realm.”
“Wait a minute. You mean to tell me the god of the dwarves asked you to bring me here?”
“This is indeed so, Carter Blake,” said a different, feminine voice.
I turned and was struck dumb. ‘Daphne, you are the most beautiful woman I know, but this lady; she is magnificent,’ I thought.
The female striding towards us was statuesque and a couple of centimeters shorter than me with hair the shade of a raven’s wing draping her shoulders. A fringe over her almond-shaped eyes brought attention to their piercing blue color. Her well-defined muscles rippled as she moved, reminding me of a panther: sleek, intelligent and powerful. She wore a simple white shift belted at her hips with a braided gold rope. As she strode up to us,  the dress rose enough to show she was bronzed by the sun. Leather boots went past her ankles. She came to a stop before us. Mordecai and Angriz bowed with deference.
“Lady Orwen,” Angriz acknowledged in a soft voice.
“Milady,” said Mordecai.
“Greetings, Gentles,” she responded. Then to me, “Carter Blake, welcome to Victory Keep, capital of Dragon’s Land. I am Adora Orwen, Warpriest of Kellün.”
I nodded in recognition. “He’s the God of the Elves and woodlands.”
“You are well-informed.” She glanced at the others. “Are you planning on keeping our guest out here?” she teased.
“Milady,” protested Angriz, “Lord Mordecai was informing him of our situation. He wasn’t intending—”
“Thank you, Angriz,” interrupted Mordecai. “Lady Orwen spoke in jest. It is evident we have no intention of being rude.”
“Yes,” she said. “Angriz, you watched me grow up, why would you doubt that?”
Wow. I liked the way he forced her to admit the joke or else accept the rebuke. ‘Note to self: remember how he did so,’  I thought. She turned with alacrity, her dark hair, smelling of strawberries, swung wide, brushing my cheek, and beckoned for us to follow her.

Continues here.