Writer’s Ink: Emily June Street

ejsheadnew1If you follow me–at all–you’ll know Emily June Street and I have not only an intense and amazing working relationship, but a close friendship as well. You may or may not be aware, but we’ve never met in person. She lives on the West Coast, I live on the East Coast, and 2,800+ miles separate us. However, we will fix this little detail when we attend the Writer’s Digest Conference together in New York City in August 2017. Can you imagine how excited I am?!

Emily June Street is the author of six novels: The Gantean, The Cedna, Sterling, Mage and Source, Secret Room, and The Velocipede Races. She has degrees in psychology and library science, but she divides her time between teaching Pilates and exploring alternate worlds in writing. She founded Luminous Creatures Press with Beth Deitchman in 2013.

Look for the next installment in the Tales of Blood & Light series, Light and Shadow, in 2018!
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Thanks for stopping by my website, Emily! Now let’s dive into some questions:

TS: Mage and Source is book four in your Tales of Blood & Light series, but for those who may not have read the foregoing books, could you give us a three sentence summary of the novel?

EJS: Magic is dead. The only hope for restoring it lies in the hands of a talented ex-mage and an enemy spy thrown together by fate and unexpected love. But an eastern foe seeks to destroy them both before they can uncover the true path back to magic..

old-books-1534109TS: I’ve only written, at the longest, trilogy arcs–three books that had to make sense from page one of the first book to the last page of the third book. Tales of Blood & Light is projected to be a whopping seven-book series. For lack of better wording, how in the world did you do it–keep everything organized, not drop plot threads, and maintain a solid story structure (one George R.R. Martin could certainly learn from you!)?
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EJS: Well, Tales of Blood and Light began as one book, The Gantean, no plans for any others in a series. Then I decided I needed a Book Two to tell the “villain’s” point of view from The Gantean, so I wrote The Cedna. Then I realized I needed to resolve the cataclysmic disaster that ends The Cedna’s story, and so I planned a book three, which was going to be Tianiq, Leila’s missing daughter’s story. Then I wrote a “companion book” called Night Queen, which was sort of a prequel to the planned trilogy set in the Lethemia world. Then I decided I didn’t like book three, Tianiq’s book, and wanted to revise entirely. Fortunately this was early on, well before I ever put out The Gantean, so I was able to revise all three books to adjust for this.
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But then I decided to write Sterling’s story, which came out very easily, and felt like a natural next step after the Cedna’s book. Only after writing Sterling did I decide to sit down and formally examine what I was trying to do with this series. That was when I finally realized I was telling a story about the fall and return of magic in this world, an apocalypse and a restoration. I was able to tease out from the exiting stories that I’d set up these seven stones (the Ophirae) that were vital to the return of magic, and thus, I could have seven books, each essentially describing a romantic relationship and the re-awakening of one of the seven stones needed to restore magic to this world. So, that’s when I finally realized I needed seven books. I tore apart everything and rewrote parts of all the books, dismantled the book Night Queen and turned it into Mage and Source, and now here I am with a completely pantsed seven-book series in the works!

So the answer lurking within all those words is…there was no planning, and what someone should learn from my experience is: this is not the best approach to writing a seven-book series!

Fortunately, I have a pretty good memory, which helps me keep track of the logistics of the story arc—that and a whole bunch of slips of paper and several maps. I also try to 1) trust in my subconscious to unearth the threads of the story that need to be unearthed; 2) keep track of essential facts with lots of folders and post-its (I like to have important information and details on paper rather than on the computer, as I like spreading out my papers on the floor and getting a big overall picture every now and again); and 3) endless reworking and rewriting.

In retrospect, this is a very labor-intensive way to write books, definitely not for people who don’t like the slog of rewrites and massive amounts of editing. Be a planner if you want a streamlined process! I’ve gone the planned route for other books, and it is much easier and it involves a lot less rewriting. That said, I do enjoy the endless managed chaos of my Tales of Blood & Light process. There’s something deeply satisfying about pantsing a story. It feels organic and sometimes you surprise yourself with connections and storylines you’d never have planned.

.TS: Laith fascinates me in this book. His chemistry with Elena is undeniable. Tell me, did you use a blueprint for either character (Laith or Elena)–someone in “our world” who was your inspiration for creating either of them in Lethemia’s world? If so, who? What were the standout characteristics that you tried to translate over? If not, what famous person or character in this world might be most like Laith and/or Elena, and in what ways?
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talking-1430913EJS: I rarely model my characters after real people, honestly. I suppose my characters are creations “borged” from a multitude of people I’ve known, some I might not even remember, and also from parts of myself that don’t see the light of day. Laith does share some character features with my husband, Brady, namely being obsessed with his own interests and being fairly impervious to the negative opinions of others. Brady also tends to do what Brady wants, just like Laith. My husband, however, is a quiet man, and Laith is a huge talker. I have reams and reams of cut pages of Laith, just telling his stories. For a while he really wanted his own book all to himself, but he just rambled on and on.
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I had no particular model for Elena, although no doubt her perfectionistic tendencies and her favoring of reason over emotion come straight from me. I certainly haven’t used any famous person’s personality to shape either character; again, that’s just not my style.

I have done the Myers-Briggs Personality test for most of my characters. Laith is an ENTP and Elena is an ISTJ—very opposite types, but united by that thinking element. (Note: I am an INTJ, and I think my strongest domain is that T, that “thinking” quality. I find it very hard to write “F”s, or feeling types, because my brain just doesn’t work that way. I think so far only Sterling and Erich have been “feeling” types, and often I really had to pause and think to myself…what would someone entirely led by their feelings do in this situation? In some ways I think “F”s are easier for people to relate to, because that “T” quality can be very idiosyncratic, following a logic that isn’t always readily apparent, whereas everyone understands the basic human emotions and can relate to them immediately.

Appearance-wise Laith might look like a cross between Aiden Turner and Riz Ahmed, but taller than either of them, and Elena might look like Li Bingbing.

TS: You’ve told me that, according to many of your test readers, Costas Galatien, King of Lethemia, is not one of your more popular characters. Having read the books, though, I really dig the guy. He’s certainly a layered character with lots of depth. Where and how was he born in your mind? What went into his development? How did you pull off his tortured, wise, just, angsty, disciplined, and–dare I say it–dreamy layers? Asking for a friend. 😉
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king-1417290EJS: Costas (an ESTJ) is a favorite character of mine, too, but not for the reasons you may think. What I love about him is how we see him through the eyes of every one of my narrators, but never through his own eyes. As a king, he’s a man defined by his people and his mystique, and each character really does see him differently—most of them manage to see his complexities, too, but different complexities, with various beliefs about what is likable in him and what is not.
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I think some readers disliked how he treated Leila in The Gantean. They felt he wasn’t enough of a hero, that he was self-centered, a bit of a jerk. That is probably because they were sympathizing with Leila, the narrator, and at some points in the book, Leila and Costas were in direct conflict to one another in their actions (if not their in their emotions).
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Costas is complicated partly because his position is a complex one. He’s the King, but he is also a person with strong inner boundaries about privacy. He has his own desires that have nothing to do with his obligations as King, but he very strongly feels the duty of rule (even if he is sometimes unaware of its privilege). Sometimes he’s faced with difficult choices because of this—his personal desires (e.g., having Leila as his lover) are often in direct opposition to what is expected of him as King (e.g., marrying Stesichore Ricknagel and reuniting the Ten Houses). Costas picked duty over love at first, failing to understand the significance of the aetherlumo bind he shared with Leila. Unlike Laith, with his magical lore, Costas did not immediately comprehend that the aetherlumo is a BIND, meaning it not only joins him irrevocably with Leila, but it is forged by forces more powerful than human needs and desires. I think part of Costas’s character development is coming to understand that he cannot control everything, that there are forces to which even King Costas is subject. He is a controlling man, and he’s going to have to learn what he can and should control, and what he cannot and should not.

Costas is forever a work in progress, as you know. Each book shows a different side of him. In Mage and Source, we see a friend and subject’s view of him through Laith’s eyes. We also see an enemy’s view of him, as Elena has been sent to assassinate him at the behest of her Emperor. But Elena quickly complicates things, since her animosity isn’t based in her own emotions, only on her loyalty to her nation. Later in the series we’ll have a narrator who holds great personal animosity towards Costas. That’s been a tricky storyline to negotiate!

TS: I love the colors so prevalent in this series. Was there any order in your plans as you assigned a particular color of magestone with a particular mage? How did you plan who got what stone? Is the aetherlight–the colorful strands that appear INSIDE the stones–in any way connected to the owners, and if so, how did you decide on those colors? Are they representative at all of personality or background?
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EJS: I really love that you seem to think I planned anything about these books. Sadly, no, my strategy has been entirely “on the fly.” If I had planned, I would have planned better and followed some kind of recognizable color theory. But no, it’s all completely idiosyncratic. In this world, people have auras of aetherlight, and (in my mind, at least) the color of their aura does say something about their personality. But it’s one hundred percent based on my own personal feelings about colors and personality, not any existing color theory.
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So Leila’s colors are watery and cool, and her personality is cool and unemotional, but resilient and adaptable, like water.

The Cedna’s color was black, since she was embodying the absence and darkness of the world. Her elemental themes were fire and ash, so her color was the char that was left after the fire.

Sterling’s color was sunshine yellow, since her basic temperament is optimistic and bright, despite her sufferings. Her elemental theme was air, and I see the air around her being shot through with sunlight.

Laith is opal, shiny and shimmering, full of hidden colors. His elemental theme was aether, the stuff of magic, so I wanted his aetherlight to reflect the power and complexity of magic. He is also cool, like Leila. He explained in The Gantean that cool aetherlight people are draw to warm aetherlight people, and vice versa. Elena’s elemental theme is earth, so her aetherlight is green and rich and warm, like healthy leaves.

color-1186259I have tried to reflect the aetherlight colors of my narrators on the covers of the books. The elemental themes of the narrators are indicated on the back covers, in the taglines: flow like water; fall like ash; rise on air; bright as aether, strong as earth.

As far as the colors of the Ophirae magestones and whether they match those of the couples who ignite them, unfortunately, not really. It’s been more about which stone was available given the storyline, and given the fact that these plotlines are completely pantsed, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for applying any logical color theory after the fact. I have to work with what I’ve already set up and written into “the canon.” For the Ophirae colors, I literally just picked colors I liked way back when and those are the colors, end of story. No planning at all.

TS: Stepping outside the series: do you have other books you’re working on, or is Tales of Blood and Light your sole focus for now? If so, can we get a peek at what we can expect to hit the shelves at some future point?
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EJS: Well, Tales of Blood and Light still has three books to go. All are at least partially drafted. I’m working hard on Book Five, Light and Shadow, right now, with a massive rewrite/revision inspired by a certain brilliant editor.
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TS: Who is this nefarious creature!?
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I have also co-written two all new fantasy books with a certain fellow author who greatly resembles my brilliant editor, as you might know.

TS: Apparently, there are doppelgangers.

charleston-mansion-1204334These books are: River Running (elemental magic and romance in quasi-American South Reconstruction Era) and The Eighth Octave (music, magic, and mystery in a fairytale 18th-century world). We’ll be pitching these books to agents at an upcoming conference in New York City. *gulp*

I’m working on a new fantasy series with a first book tentatively titled “Midnight Oil,” too. Similar to Tales of Blood & Light, it involves culture clashes, empire, and magic, but the world and the magic system are quite different.

TS: Time for some fun! Quick Answers (don’t think longer than a second for these):
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Song of Ice and Fire or Lord of the Rings? EJS: Apples and oranges. I pick fruit salad.
Piano or Cello? EJS: That’s just mean and wrong. Why, Tamara, why?
TS: Because… Westley
Phantom of the Opera or Les Mis? EJS: Finally, one I can answer! Phantom of the Opera.
Coffee or Hot Chocolate? EJS: Thank goodness for some easy ones. Coffee.
Yoga or Pilates? EJS: Pilates 4 evah
Editing or Writing? EJS: Both, always.
Spring or Fall? EJS: Spring.
Archery or Sword Play? EJS: Archery.
Dragons or Phoenixes? EJS: Phoenixes.
Legolas or Robin Hood? EJS: Legolas.
Co-Writing or Writing Alone? 😉 EJS: Piano or cello?
Facebook or Twitter? EJS: Facebook, mostly, but sometimes it annoys me.
London or Paris? EJS: Cello?
Travel choices: Europe or the Caribbean? EJS: Piano?
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And finally…
Heart of a Dragon or Guardian of the Vale? 😉 EJS: Heart of a Dragon!
HOAD Box Set
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Justification for any of the above? 😉 EJS: Emily does what Emily wants.
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Thanks, Emily! Check out Mage and Source, available now on Amazon!
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Mage and Source Cover

The next world arrives in a shattering fall.

The Cedna is dead, and magic is broken. Laith Amar, a famous mage, must learn to live without his skill as all of Lethemia reels from the Fall. Fighting despair and skeptical colleagues, Laith seeks any solution that can return his talents.

From hidden sources, hope emerges.

Angered by losing the war against Lethemia, the Eastern Emperor dispatches Elena Rith, a trained potion-mistress, to assassinate the Lethemian King Costas Galatien and to learn what she can of the West’s fallen magic. Alone in a foreign country, Elena battles new hazards and old fears as an Eastern hunter tracks her.

A new alchemy ignites an old power.

After fate throws them together, Laith and Elena discover an intriguing method to revive magic that depends on them both. But when Elena’s foe finds her, can Laith save her from a past of pain and violation?

Only love can resurrect Laith’s faith and Elena’s hope, but darkness surrounds them as their enemies close in.

Magic’s restoration hangs in the balance.

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Unleash the Inferno Release and Giveaway!!!

Today, my second completed trilogy hits the virtual shelves at the ‘Zon, and I am so, so thrilled about that! Unleash the Inferno, while arguably the hardest-to-write book I’ve released yet, is probably the most satisfying as well. I love how all the loose ends wrapped up, and in a trilogy with an enormous ensemble cast, that was a difficult thing.

Anyway, if you love epic fantasies and medieval settings and dragons and political intrigue and romance and Lord of the Rings-esque battles, you’ll enjoy this one! I hope it occupies a space on your Kindle shelf (or, if you’re like me, your REAL shelf that you have to dust every now and then).

Once you’ve read it, tell your friends! Hop on Amazon and leave a review, even a one-liner! I depend on those reviews for sales, and they’re super hard to get (because who has time to leave a review?). But I hope, if I ask pretty please with a fruit-or-candy-of-your-choice on top, that you’ll at least consider it. 🙂

In other news, I have TWO giveaway winners of this book! For those of you who signed up for my newsletter, you get access to discounts and giveaways that aren’t necessarily available to other venues, and two of you have been selected as winners! Congratulations to Rebecca Cooper and Shirley Cochran! I’ll have my editor send your free e-copies to you in short order. Thanks for entering!

For the rest of you, hop over to Amazon to pick up your copy! Only $3.99 (roughly equivalent to a chai tea latte at Starbucks, and instead of just an amazing drink, you get a whole amazing book with a little more staying power than a delicious beverage!)! Thanks in advance for reading!

After the Battle at ClarenVale, Kinna Andrachen unites those who spurn King Sebastian’s tyrannical reign, mustering a rag-tag army of soldiers and creatures to face Sebastian’s far larger Lismarian army. Victory is elusive and allies are scarce, but Kinna’s tenacious spirit cannot succumb to injustice. Her fiery heart must learn to lead.

At last mastering control of the four Touches of the powerful Amulet, Ayden finds himself at the center of an epic struggle to destroy the corruption that has tainted the throne of Lismaria for centuries. As time runs out, his options for survival fade, surrendering him to a dark destiny.

Tied to a fate he does not want, Cedric Andrachen resists his inheritance, fleeing the lust for power it sparks in him. As war looms, Cedric faces his choices: will he turn his back on his throne and his kingdom? Or will he enter the struggle against tyranny, bringing the freedom his people have so long sought?

Sebastian sits, at last, on the Lismarian throne, stolen from him twenty years prior. But now the Rebellion, led against him by his niece and nephew, threatens his security from across the Channel, and the Amulet’s promise of power tempts him into even darker shadows. Ghosts of the past brutalize Sebastian’s present until the lines of reality blur with nightmare.

Flames of war ignite between nations. Peril threatens the Andrachen line.
Who will survive the inferno?

Embrace the Fire is Liiiiiiiivve!

I had no clue when I started Embrace the Fire that I would want to throw in my writerly towel before it was finished. Of all my books, this story was the most complicated, hard-to-craft, frustrating, eye-bleeding, hair-tearing piece of fiction I have ever created, and that’s saying something.

Because of that, I think it’s also the best book I’ve written yet. Complicated and action-filled, the plot, characters, structure, and themes of the book are something I’m quite proud of. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I do (the reading is a completely different story from the writing of the book).

Enjoy fantasy? Give this book a read-through. Don’t necessarily enjoy fantasy but do enjoy stories of relationship, struggle, overcoming, romance, adventure, and action? Buy this book and another one to give to a friend. Want to see something cool? Check out the book trailer for Kindle the Flame… and then buy Embrace the Fire. 😉

And if you think about it, please post a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads when you finish! It can be as simple as “I liked this book,” but even that one review will make a huge difference in the career of this author. Thanks in advance!

Be sure and watch social media later this month. Emily June Street and I will be hosting a flash fiction contest and book giveaway to celebrate our June new releases. Even if you’re not a writer, this is still a fun contest you won’t want to miss!

Purchase Link

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Wanted by King Sebastian, Kinna, the long-hidden daughter of the assassinated King Liam, flees for her life, determined to seek out her twin brother and free him from Sebastian’s dungeons. Meanwhile, the King holds Kinna’s adopted father as collateral to ensure she keeps her betrothal to a man she does not love.

Once cursed by King Sebastian to turn everything he touched to ash, Ayden suffers from new, searing pain that heats his flesh in a different way. Searching for answers, he digs into the histories of West Ashwynd’s Clans, and his discoveries lead him to the Amulet he’d thought had rid him of his curse. When he finds a rare Mirage Dragon, hope for vengeance upon Sebastian fills him again.

Captured and stripped of his power as Dragon-Master, Cedric resists using his Dragon-speak to advance Sebastian’s political aims. When he escapes the King’s clutches, he resolves to find his twin sister, Kinna. But the enemy has a long reach, and Cedric’s chains are unrelenting.

Ice and agony torment Sebastian, King of West Ashwynd. His fury rages unabated as he prepares for war. When treachery leeches into his ranks, he turns against everyone he trusts. Sebastian believes he cannot be outwitted, but…

Kingdoms rise and fall; wars transform nations—Who can survive the fires of Dragons?

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For release day, a peek at the prologue:

Dark of Dusk and Magic

Time lost its steady cadence in the caverns where the woman crouched next to a guttering candle. The art of the heavens remained unseen here; she could not trace the tracks of time across the sky. The only marking of a day’s passage was the time it took for the daily candle to burn into nothingness, extinguishing at last with a silent puff of smoke, plunging her into deep blackness.

And then she would sleep. When she woke, another candle would rest in the holder, another day would pass in the weak flicker of warmth. The tallow pooled around the candle’s flame that cast shadows upon the cave walls where moisture dripped and moss crept. A quill shivered in her fingers, scratching across the creased parchment on the cavern floor.

Hash marks covered the wall, one mark for every lifeless candle, a representation of the elusive time. Somewhere, out there, a king sought her son, who, with others, had fled The Crossings, West Ashwynd’s capital city, after the Tournament. Death awaited him if he were caught, but a life on the run presented its own cage.

The woman raised a hand to her mouth, blowing a warm breath over her chilled skin, and returned to her script. The words, she thought, might never escape the cave, but the relief from their release kept her cold fingers at their task.

Dearest son,

I hear the Dragons in my dreams, but even waking brings no end to their fury. It troubles me greatly.

I hope you are well, and that you continue in the path set before you. My captors have yet to free me or to deliver messages; however, they allow me to scribble my thoughts onto parchment. I hope, someday, that you may receive this.

The Amulet calls to me, even from its hiding place. At times, the urge to take it and use it overwhelms me, and it is then that I am glad for the safeguards I’ve placed around it. It is powerful, son, and evil at times, drawing upon the darkness of the Seer Fey who chose power over peace. The Amulet, carrying traces of the Fey who have left the path of the just, draws all darkness into itself.

It is well that Sebastian no longer possesses it. The Amulet would ignite like dry grass beneath such a volatile temperament as his.

No longer is the Amulet the pure gift of the Stars. No longer is its power clean and self-contained. Both it and our peace were shattered when the Seer Fey divided.

The Amulet was meant for good, and some goodness remains within, but deep blackness tarnishes its power now. It has separated our people, my son, creating a rift that will never be healed. Those Fey who remain loyal to the tenets of our agreement with Aarkan are far fewer than those who deny them.

The opposition refuse to listen to me; they vastly outnumber the ones who remain faithful to the Bond of Blood and Fire. They did not listen to me when I told them my discovery—that the Amulet does not break curses, only redirects them. Instead, they enclosed me in their prison, and I am a captive of their greed. Guilt pierces me, my son. As you know, I gave the Amulet to one in order to break his curse, but instead, I have unknowingly only redirected it.

The greed of the Seer Fey Council holds sway at present, and I fear, the end of peace.

Stay strong, my son. May we never stumble from the course the Stars have set before us.

She set the quill on the stone floor and rubbed her aching knuckles. The tallow dipped lower in the holder, hardly illuminating the parchment, though the glow of her pink hair shivered in the flickering light.

She picked up the quill once more and signed her name with a flourish.

Lovingly,

Helga

The Dragons are Coming!

Nearly a year ago, I released my first fantasy ever, Kindle the Flame. I had intended to put the second one in the trilogy on the market within six months, but various things got in the way (namely this book and this book), and I’m only just getting the sequel ready now.

But it’s here, y’all! June 1, 2016, exactly one year from the date Kindle the Flame came out, Embrace the Fire will be available on Amazon!

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If you’d like to pre-order the book (which is great for kick-starting my book into the higher echelons of Amazon’s ranking systems), check out this link here!

Need a reminder what Kindle the Flame was about? Check out the book trailer! You all invested in this series when you voted for me to win the trailer contest, and Dalitopia Media came through with a fantastic one. Seriously, check it out!

Now I’ll stop rambling so you can head over to that link and buy the book. 🙂 Don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon when you’re done. I can’t stress enough how crucial reviews are for indie authors to get anywhere in the publishing business, and even a one-liner is quite sufficient.

Enjoy!

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Wanted by King Sebastian, Kinna, the long-hidden daughter of the assassinated King Liam, flees for her life, determined to seek out her twin brother and free him from Sebastian’s dungeons. Meanwhile, the King holds Kinna’s adopted father as collateral to ensure she keeps her betrothal to a man she does not love.

Once cursed by King Sebastian to turn everything he touched to ash, Ayden suffers from new, searing pain that heats his flesh in a different way. Searching for answers, he digs into the histories of West Ashwynd’s Clans, and his discoveries lead him to the Amulet he’d thought had rid him of his curse. When he finds a rare Mirage Dragon, hope for vengeance upon Sebastian fills him again.

Captured and stripped of his power as Dragon-Master, Cedric resists using his Dragon-speak to advance Sebastian’s political aims. When he escapes the King’s clutches, he resolves to find his twin sister, Kinna. But the enemy has a long reach, and Cedric’s chains are unrelenting.

Ice and agony torment Sebastian, King of West Ashwynd. His fury rages unabated as he prepares for war. When treachery leeches into his ranks, he turns against everyone he trusts. Sebastian believes he cannot be outwitted, but…

Kingdoms rise and fall; wars transform nations—but who can survive the fires of Dragons?

Bond of Blood and Fire: The Beginning of Kindle the Flame’s Journey

From “Once upon a time” to “The End”, KINDLE THE FLAME is now available for sale on Amazon at $4.99 per ebook or $12.99 for paperback. Let me hear a resounding WOOHOOOOOO  from the ranks! *cups ear* Okay, I did hear a loud one, but that may have just been me.

My first fantasy!

No, I did not really start the book with “Once upon a time.”

Yes, I did end the book with “The End.”

Yes, there will be a sequel. In fact, there will be TWO more books, because trilogies kind of rock. Yes, I’m writing as fast as I can, and no, I can’t WAIT to share the next book with you.

But I will wait.

Because I want you to read Kinna and Ayden and Cedric and Sebastian’s story from the beginning. The feedback I’ve gotten from advanced-copy-readers has been phenomenal. Can I brag on the group of people who dropped everything to read my story? They’re amazing, y’all! Check out what they have to say on Amazon and Goodreads!

And then, don’t forget to move your cursor up to that little button that says, “Add to Cart.” Because I’m not too proud to beg–or at least ask very nicely. 😉 Want to leave a review? That would be awesome, too. I count on feedback from my readers to help make my books the very best they can be (and reviews don’t hurt sales either).

And now, because I’m so excited that today is release day and my book is now for sale, for your own pleasure, I’m including a sneak peek from the book–the dramatic beginning that sets up the rest of the story 450 years later.

Drums rolled deeply across the valley, each shuddering BOOM underscored by an answering glance from the surrounding craggy cliffs. Dragonfire flickered in spurts from the mouths of the four Great Dragons, while their kind paced in the background. The bonfire in the center of the valley glinted off of their metallic scales like a thousand eyes that glared in silence.

King Aarkan bowed to the gathered Seer Fey on the far side of the bonfire, whose delicate faces were painted with grim expressions. Their matriarch, with her ankle length green plaits, bowed low in return.

“My lord King,” she greeted him.

“Wendren,” he acknowledged. He turned and bowed to the four Dragons. “Dragon Council.” Their smoky eyes flickered in the firelight, steam arching from their nostrils as they in turn dropped their heads before him.

King Aarkan glanced at his men. At his gesture they melted silently back into the darkness that blanketed the valley. The King raised his voice above the crackling flames. “We meet here, Dragons and Fey, out of mutual need. The rebel forces gather power on the borders of my kingdom and wreak havoc among my outlying counties. Civilians flee their homes seeking aid, aid that I can give, but not without help.” He motioned toward the huge beasts who watched him with unreadable expressions.

“Dragons, you too have been slaughtered by the thousands, poached for the value of your scales in providing mail and plate for the rebels.”

A resounding hiss rose from the ranks of Dragons the valley over; flames shot into the air as angry roars ruptured the darkness.

“Seer Fey, these same rebels attack your homes and level your dwellings as they drive you from the western mountains, seeking the gold that streaks your lands. They strike not only your hale and strong, but your children and your elderly. As King and Master of the people and the creatures of this land, I say that this cannot continue!”

His words thundered in the air. Dragons’ roars mixed with the shouts of Seer Fey. Behind Aarkan, his men began a rhythmic stamp on the earth, their greaves clanking in tempo with the drums that accompanied their treaty.

The terms, they all understood. A blood pact between Dragons and men would seal the fiery line of inheritance; the pact would grant kinship of the King and all his lineage to the Dragons forever. The Seer Fey would set themselves and their magic as guardians of Aarkan’s blood, and so, together, form an unbreakable bond to protect the kingdom for all generations.

The King approached the bonfire, flanked by two of his men. Sliding the cooled end of an iron rod from the embers, he pulled it out, held it high. Its sharpened point glowed fiery orange in the air.

The four Dragons stalked nearer the blaze, shuddering deep growls from their throats. Together they lowered their muzzles to the ground as Aarkan moved toward them.

“For Peace!” he shouted, bringing the searing tip down to his forearm, ripping into the sensitive skin above his wrist. His flesh hissed and smoked, but Aarkan made no sound. His blood roiled, black in the firelight, coating his arm and dripping into the dirt.

He moved to the line of Dragons. “For Prosperity!”

The first, a Poison-Quill, huffed smoke around Aarkan’s frame as the King drove the iron blade into the Dragon’s exposed snout. Dark blood rolled across the beast’s nose, flowing over the side and onto the ground. Aarkan laid his own dripping arm onto the snout and then moved to the Nine-Tail.

“For Trust!”

Into the Nine-Tail’s snout went the blade. The Dragon did not move, though a low rumble shook his throat. The King rolled his blood-soaked arm across the wound and moved to the Ember.

“For Amity!”

The Ember roared. His flaming head arched toward the sky, towering over Aarkan before pride pulled him to the ground, stilling him when the blade sliced his hide. Again, King and Dragon completed the blood connection.

Aarkan moved to the Mirage whose mirrored scales refracted the bonfire into a million blazing images.

“For enduring lineage!”

The blade came down, and the blood mixed. Lightning forked the sky and thunder rolled in time to the drums’ deep BOOM, BOOM that had picked up in intensity as the ceremony drew to an end.

Aarkan turned, holding his bloody fist to the sky. Wendren raised both arms and faced the heavens.

The drums stopped. Dead silence fell. “Great Star, Light of all lands, it is completed.” Wendren’s voice was milky with age, but the words still rang clear across the valley. “The Seer Fey prove themselves faithful.”

Once more lightning rent the heavens. A single forked bolt split the bonfire; a searing cloud of ash and flame arced hundreds of lengths into the air. The resounding crack of thunder hurled man, Fey, and Dragon to the ground.

In the silence that followed the thunder, Wendren stepped toward the brilliant embers. Mindless of the heat, she pulled an object from the flame bed, holding it high, her green-eyed gaze meeting Aarkan’s across the flames.

“Our vow to you, oh King. With all the power of our taibe, our ancient magic, we bestow upon you this amulet, to ward off evil, to restore good. It is a sign of our oath to you. The Seer Fey will guard you and your lineage forever. Your children and your children’s children will hold the heat of flames in their fingers.”

And one more time, because the cover is soooo pretty:

Kindle the FlameA girl who never fit in, a young man forced into an outcast’s life, a boy raised without a community, and a ruler who holds the key to their destinies…

Kinna has a Pixie she can’t train and a head full of doubts. Her worst fears come true when she fails the Tournament entrance test. She flees her Clan in disgrace, inexplicably drawn to a Mirage, a rare Dragon she has no business training.

Ayden is cursed—anyone he touches turns to ash before his eyes. He hides amongst the Dragon Clan with the only creatures he cannot hurt. When Kinna frees his favorite Dragon, his world turns upside down.

Cedric grows up in isolation, fostered by an outcast Centaur. When tragedy strikes, he ventures into a strange new world of Dragons, political intrigue, and magic.

Sebastian’s country hovers on the brink of war. Chased from his rightful throne, he schemes to retake his kingdom by any means possible, even if it threatens an ancient agreement that underpins the foundation of his realm.

Only by examining their pasts will these four find their futures. But will they survive the fires of discovery?

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