2 Replies Latest reply on Feb 10, 2011 9:35 PM by purplepen79

    The Witch Awakening $0.99   Tapestry Lion $2.99

      I recently released the second novel Tapestry Lion in my gothic fantasy series about the House of Landers.  The first novel in the series The Witch Awakening begins the story of Safire, a young psychic who struggles to control her abilities in a skewed Renaissance world that burns witches at the stake.  Below is a short excerpt from the beginning of The Witch Awakening:

       

       

      The sky had cracks in it.  Then the wind rose, and I blinked, startled, as the cracks moved and transformed into the writhing bare branches of the old oak.  Shivering, I sat up and pulled my cloak around my shoulders.  Dusk had crept across the fields with shadow feet while I lay here, half in a doze as I watched the clouds.  I should have been home an hour ago.

       

      I stumbled up and shook the dust from my clothes.  The blood stirred in my veins, stinging my numb skin as I began to walk along the rutted wagon track.  The moon hung low and huge over the smudged shapes of the trees.  "Go away," I told it.  "I'm already late enough as it is."

                 

      The house wasn't far.  The track wound through two fields, stubby with wheat stalks, and then through a tangle of trees before it stopped at the edge of the cobbled courtyard.  My breath made fog as I stared at the light spilling from the large front windows on the first story of the house.  Father and my sister Dagmar were there now, eating.  Grimacing from the cold, I plucked up my skirt and headed for the side door.

       

      As I went across the courtyard, a horse whickered.  I glanced toward the stable and froze.  My father couldn't have done this to me.  I had told him, insisted that he never invite that man again, at least when I was around.  But did he listen?  No.  There stood the evidence, eating out of its feed bag, oblivious:  Peregrine of Bara's horse. 

                 

      Even in this light, no one could mistake that silver gray coat with the black stripe down the back.  The biggest scoundrel on the coast had the loveliest horse.  Peregrine.  If I had known he was here for dinner, I would have stayed out in the field all night.  I threw open the front door and slammed it as I tossed my cloak on a bench. 

                 

      Dagmar hurried through a doorway, her blond hair piled on her head in an explosion of ringlets.  She stopped and stared at me.  I glanced down at myself, holding out my skirt.  I wasn't dressed for dinner--I wore my oldest frock and my slippers were covered with dirt.

                 

       "Where have you been?" she demanded.  "Dinner started a quarter hour ago, Safire."

                 

      "I forgot."

                 

      "You forgot!  You're always forgetting--and look at you!  Get upstairs and put on a decent frock.  Father's going to throttle you.  And do something about your hair .  .  ." her words trailed off as I sauntered to the mirror over the hall table. 

                 

      I had to stand on tiptoe and lean over the table to get a good look at myself.  Someone tall must have hung this mirror.  I poked my tongue in my cheek.  There was a long smudge of dirt running down the side of my face, and my freckles stood out worse than usual.  My red curls, my best feature, were stringy.  I turned and looked at her. 

                 

      She stood there, hands fluttering limply at her sides. "Safire .  .  ."

                 

       

      "I like the way I look.  It's fitting for our company."  I tossed my hair and strode towards the banquet hall.

                 

      "Stop it."  She reached for me.  But I was already through the door.

                 

      Father glanced up from his place at the head of the table, a vein standing out under the wisps of fading gingery hair that drifted over his forehead.  He usually had a ruddy complexion, but his skin looked positively crimson tonight, his orange aura aflame.  I faltered, taking a half step back.  Then my gaze drifted to Peregrine.  Bold blue eyes met mine in a look that could only be described as a leer.  Lustful toad.  I had never been able to see his aura, only smell it--he kept it hidden from sight like an ace up his sleeve. 

                 

      My head high, I slid into my accustomed chair.  "My apologies for my lateness.  I was unavoidably detained."

                 

      "Obviously not by your lady's maid," Father retorted, stabbing a piece of pheasant with his fork.  "You look like you've been digging in the potato patch."

                 

      He must be really angry, to let Peregrine see his displeasure.  "Father .  .  ." I began.

                 

      "Up to your chamber, Safire."

                 

      Biting my lip, I rose as Dagmar crept into the hall and silently took her seat. 

                 

      "Now, Avernal," Peregrine said, his voice slippery as oiled silk, "Don't tell me I'm to be deprived of your daughter's presence thrice in a fortnight.  Last time I called she had a headache, and the time before that she had a fever."

                 

      "That's because you make me ill." 

                 

      Father's face went purple.  "Safire, you headstrong .  .  ." he choked.

                 

      I put my hands to my mouth.  He was going to have apoplexy right here, just like Dagmar and I had always feared.  And it was my fault.  I stumbled around the table, reaching for him.

                 

      "Father, breathe.  Just breathe."  My fingers curled around his arm, and I felt the tight ropes of his muscles through his shirt.  As I had done many times before, I concentrated on the tension, drawing it away from him and into me.  Tonight, it was like swallowing a swarm of hornets.  His shoulders jerked with the effort to exhale and inhale, a motion that gradually subsided to an even rhythm.  But I backed away only when he raised his palm from the table.

                 

      "Enough," he said gruffly.  "Sit down, daughter." 

       

        • Re: The Witch Awakening $0.99   Tapestry Lion $2.99

          I was thinking of posting part of Cauley Bennett's review in Rapid River Arts & Culture Magazine (the first few sentences of this review are quoted under the editorial review tab on The Witch Awakening page).  However, I'm a firm believer in letting the writing speak for itself--as a reader, I am sometimes swayed by a good review to take a look at a book, but ultimately a review, even from the New York Times or Publisher's Weekly, is someone's opinion and may not reflect my reading tastes at all.  I always sample a book before I buy to see if it's something I will like.  So on that note, here's an excerpt from Chapter 22 of The Witch Awakening:

           

          A cold wind whistled through the hallway.  The candle on the side table winked out, and the hall instantly became a maze of muted gray and black shapes.  The front door banged shut as Dagmar crossed the threshold.  She shrieked and cringed in the corner, her hands clutched over her bowed head. 

           

                      I grabbed the banister at the bottom of the main staircase to steady myself.  Still shaking violently, I closed my eyes and once again began to count my breaths.  This time I spoke the numbers aloud--it helped drown out the laughter.  I squeezed my eyelids tightly closed like a desperate child making a wish.  With each breath, I pictured my lungs expanding, heard the numbers more clearly as I regained my inner equilibrium.

           

                      Suddenly, I opened my eyes, my voice faltering.  The air I inhaled had turned frigid, tiny bits of ice that sliced at my throat.  I coughed, choked as I sagged against the banister.  No, the air wasn't ice--it was just air.  I couldn't let her play with my mind again and make me sense things the way they were in her warped reality, for when I did, they became real to me too.  And when I believed something was real, it could hurt me. 

           

                      I raised my head, saw the stairs rising into the dusty shadows above.  The second story landing was only the vague outline of the railing, a black square in the wall behind it indicating the passageway to the east wing and the private family chambers.

           

                      I began to climb up the stairs, all the while watching the doorway to the east wing.  There was a faint wavering glow in the doorway, as if someone far down the hall had lit a candle.  The glow grew steadily stronger, and I realized it wasn't candlelight.  Candlelight was yellow.  This light was bluish-white, the color of snow under moonlight. 

           

                      I backed down the steps.  The weird glow lit the entire second landing now, the polished railings glimmering coldly.  My breath hung like smoke in the chilly air, and I found my teeth chattering, my arms clenched tightly together over my middle. 

           

                      Suddenly, she was there, a white face peering at me over the railing, her long beautiful fingers pale as a corpse's against the dark wood.  All that was distinct about her was her head and her hands and her snake hair--all the rest was a nebulous, vaguely human figure.  She doesn't want to use her strength to materialize completely.  Evidently she needed her strength to deal with me.  For the first time, I realized that if she could hurt me, I could likely hurt her as well, not just fight her off but damage her, much as a priest damaged a spirit by exorcism.  But how?  I wasn't a priest, and I didn't even know one I could trust enough to help me.

           

                      Fool witch came her hiss in my mind.  I'll kill you this time.  She started over the railing, her translucent fingers outstretched, claws ready to rip my skin.

           

                      "Why?" 

           

                      She paused, hovering in the stairwell.  Then she laughed, a low, contemptuous cackle.  She circled the railing before she suddenly swooped up and then dove down straight for me, quick as a hawk in sight of prey.  Instinctively, I threw my hands out.

           

                      She grabbed my hair.  She's nothing but air--she can't hurt me.  That was what my rational mind said, but my irrational body hurt.  A fire spread over my scalp, and tears sprang to my eyes.  Her icy nails were at my throat.  A drop of hot blood trickled down my neck, my blood.  She was real, and she could kill me.

          • The Witch Awakening $2.99   Tapestry Lion $2.99

            Sorry, I'm trying to change this thread title to reflect Witch Awakening's new price.  I didn't want to bump the thread, but it won't let me edit my original post or the thread title.  I don't know what I'm doing wrong.  All right, back to the drawing board . . . Does anyone know how I can change the thread title without bumping the thread again?  It would seem like it should be pretty easy since I made the OP, but I'm having issues.  Thanks~