Tunnel #Writephoto

Azalus teetered on the bluff’s edge, warded sword wheeling for balance against the brilliant sky. The mountain beneath his feet offered no reprieve, a sheet of obsidian sleek as spilled oil.

Below him, the massive dragon shot up along the mirrored wall, its neck and talons extended. Slit reptilian eyes reflected the inferno erupting from its throat. The beast blasted through its own blaze, and its maw gaped, scorched shards of the last armsman wedged between rows of serrated teeth. In a heartbeat, chances of escape had dropped from doubtful to dismal.

Gaylen’s whip coiled around the vambrace shielding Azalus’s forearm, and he clasped it as his feet slipped into the heated air. His body slammed against the rock wall, and the dragon altered its flight to pick off the newly dangling prey.

“Dragon,” Azalus shouted to his fellow fugitive and pointed the tip of his sword at the ascending beast. Jade scales glimmered like sunlight on still water, and webbed wings beat with the snap of wind-caught sails. Beautiful and deadly.

Above him Gaylen hauled. “Reavers are closing.”

Suspended on the whip, Azalus kicked against the cliff’s sheer face. Gaylen heaved, and when Azalus reached the lip, he thrust his sword arm across the rock, fighting for leverage. Movement at the forest’s rim caught his eye. “Reavers. Behind you!”

Gaylen staggered. His face morphed into a fusion of disbelief and despair as his flesh yielded to their enemy’s iron bolts. The whip’s stock eased from his hand. Azalus slipped into the air.

The monstrous dragon’s throat yawned, jaw bones split, and fangs hyperextended. Azalus straightened, arms overhead, sword in a two-handed grip. The beast’s gullet stretched open, air drawn in for another explosion of fire. He speared between the teeth, slid over the forked tongue, and descended into darkness. The welling heat and sulfurous reek burned his lungs as he glided down the blackened throat. With a vengeful howl, he thrust the blade forward and carved as he fell. Steel sliced through flesh, thudded against bone, and blood gushed, dousing the rising flame.

Azalus’s careening descent ceased, or the dragon plummeted with him. He braced himself against the blood-slick wall, sword jammed deep between the vertebrae. The creature writhed and spasmed, and Azalus swallowed his gorge as they plunged toward the vale.

He woke with a gasp, disoriented, heart pounding. His body felt trampled, but nothing of his pain foreboded death. He gulped a breath and listened, willed his nerves to stillness. The dragon lay motionless, he lodged in its throat in a pool of congealed blood. Rising to a crouch, he yanked his sword free of the flesh, and with fingers tracing the throat’s charred wall, he staggered down the tunnel toward the light.

**

Thanks to Sue Vincent of The Daily Echo for another fun #writephoto prompt. Check out her site and join in the weekly fun.

Kari’s Reckoning

She abandoned the view and walked, arm outstretched, slender fingertips leaving invisible ribbons where they glided across the smooth surface.

The unseamed gray of the floor, the cool walls, and flat ceiling held no memories of those who’d trod the halls before. They demanded no care, no cleaning, no mending, or maintenance. How long would the alien cities last unchanged, impervious to the passage of time? Another three hundred years? A millennium? Lives came and went, washing from the tiers’ petals like rainwater to the porous, wet world below. Was her life within these walls any more important, other than being hers?

Perhaps, only a world of wrinkles and grooves could capture the fragmented stories of wounded souls, hold them tight in the ashes and rubble. One required pitted stone and cracked wood, ragged bark and churned soil to heal a heart’s broken flesh. Her lover and daughter lived in that foreign world.

Her skin matched these walls, smooth and serene. Yet, the emptiness of her expression, the monotony of her smile hid a secret fire within her that would one day flare and burst forth in a conflagration of pent up desperation.

***

The final book of the Rose Shield Tetralogy is live.

Thanks to all for your kind comments and support along the way.

Start at the beginning with Catling’s Bane, Book 1 – Global Link

Dragons on the Loose

Dragons are on the loose!

My journey from traditional publishing to indie publishing is complete with the release of my last 4 books, a quartet set in a land of dragons and skyriders, mountain meadows and outland seas. The Moons mark the passage of the seasons in the books and here on my blog.

The Blurb-ish

In the distant mountains of the Mirror, exiled skyriders fly dragons in the old Way, merged in flesh, blood, and bone. Twenty years past, they fought for the freedom of the valley’s dragons … and lost.

Thus begins the epic adventure that stretches from the quaint village of Taran Leigh and the mountains of the Mirror to the Anghard Archipelago in the western sea. Welcome to a world where wealth and power rule, fear is the weapon of choice, and cruelty is the cost of a pocket of gold. It’s a world that forces a choice — indifference, complicity, or defiance.

The dragons of land and sea, souls of grace and beauty, hang in the balance. Will they descend into howling violence, lost to the terror and pain inflicted upon them by their tormentors? Or will they fly free, the creatures they were born to be? With each book, the stakes rise and far more than the dragon soul lies at risk.

“The chest rose above his head, long neck curving, aquamarine eyes fracturing the sunlight. This dragon’s scale gleamed blue and gray, sea-shaded with crescents of curling white waves. The webbed wings shone seafoam blue with ribbons of coral and the mottled green of seaweed. Kearney smiled. If the sea glimmered like this dragon, he’d have become a sailor.” – Mor Kearney, Clan Lord of Loughran.

Myths of the Mirror (Book 1):

Imprisoned in the stone lair, the captive dragons beat webbed wings and thrash serpentine tails. They tear their flesh and batter their bodies against the black bars of their cells, iron grating against iron. The once peaceful creatures howl, tormented by spine and spur, their fury matched only by their despair.

Treasa, the daughter of exiles, seeks the secrets of a hidden past and a father she never knew. Gifted with visions, she glimpses pieces of years long lost and a veiled future that only raises more questions. The dragons visit her dreams, laden with contradictions that tear at her heart — for one day she sails in unfettered flight, her arms thrown wide, and the next she writhes in tortured darkness, desperate to be free.

The lair’s black-garbed riders sense the dragons’ growing savagery. Yet Conall longs to grasp their power, to subdue them and soar, and he will endure the reek, filth, and terror of the lair to earn his right to fly. With a heart encased in steel, he masters the weapons of compliance to see his will done. At the cost of the woman he loves.

Then, a curved talon rends flesh and dragon scale, rattling against white ribs. Blood falls like rain and the world shifts. Treasa and Conall must decide who they are and what they stand for. Thus, the battle for the dragon soul begins again. Alliances form, old myths are revealed, and new myths are born.

Thanks again, my friends, for helping with the covers! 

Now, back to writing… 🙂

Freeing the Dragons of the Lair

The cell’s iron door swung open, heavy and groaning on tired hinges. Adaryn paused in the broad aisle, blood racing, hands slick with sweat. The reek of foul hung thick in the heat, burning his nose. At the aisle’s end, chains clanked as the winch turned. Massive stable doors rumbled open, welcoming the remaining rays of day and hot breath of summer wind. The hooded dragon swung its tufted head toward the sunlight spearing the stale air. It pulled against battered shackles, swaying with the low thrum and hum of the song that echoed in Adaryn’s chest.

Across the aisle, Hedd and his grandson, Cadan, skyriders of the old Way, stood with eyes gazing inward, calling the dragon down in Belonging. They opened their souls, beckoning the creature into their blood, bones, and heart, their breath filling the dragon’s spaces.

This was Adaryn’s dragon; at least, in his mind it was. It towered over him, lustrous scales the emerald of dragonflies, onyx wings black as midnight. This dragon once brushed the sky with beauty and flew into myth, a copper ring clutched in its talons. A creature of the unfurling world, it arced with a swallow’s grace and hovered with falcons over wildflower meadows. As a rider of the lair, he had flown on this dragon’s back, harnessed its power, and mastered its will. And he would be the rider to finally set it free.

His opportunity arrived. Adaryn wiped the sweat from his forehead with a sleeve, and drawing a breath, released the tension gripping his chest. He took an irresistible, however unwise, risk and entered the cell.

Reaching up, he unclipped all but one of the braided tethers that strapped the hood to the dragon’s head, letting them slip to the stinking foul on the floor. Smooth scale shimmered before his eyes. Sinew flexed, muscle rippling with every sway, breath steaming above his head. The desire to touch it undeniable, his hand rose to the neck’s soft scale. Cautious fingers slid down to the base of the throat where a steel spine had carved its flesh, drawing blood and scarring, not so long ago.

At his touch, the dragon’s song silenced. Muscles tensed beneath his fingertips. Talons extended and curled, scraping the stone floor. Its long tail flicked, rattling the iron bars. The skyriders shifted, and Hedd’s eyes captured his in warning. Adaryn let his hand fall and knelt by the forelegs, unchaining one, then the other. Slowly and with care, he removed pins and slid the bolts free that held the manacles tightly bound.

His body pressed to the black bars, he sidled toward the rear of the cell. He yearned to slide his fingers along the webbed wing, touch the hollow bones, the sleekness of the skin that caught the air. Yet he resisted the impulse. With one rear leg unchained, he stepped carefully over the slender tail to release the second. He slipped back toward the cell’s door and there grasped the one loose tether left hanging from the dragon’s hood. As he stepped into the aisle, he pulled, and the hood fell free.

The dragon’s fiery eyes, splinters of gold, fell on the gaping doors as if the stream of light had harnessed all the sun’s brightness. Adaryn stumbled back against the bars, an arm raised to shield his face as the dragon reared. The giant body turned into the aisle, moving beyond the two skyriders who stood as still as the gray stone.

As the dragon spread its cramped wings, Adaryn felt his own heart swell, his body vibrating. Black webbing unfurled, filling the lair like a moonless night, stretching outward into the world with the dragon’s song. Thunderous wings drummed the air, fanning the heat as the creature rose from the stable floor, casting dust and dirt to the face of the man who embraced the freedom of its flight. The dragon soared through the gaping doors into the failing light.

***

Through a fluke of timing, this poor little trilogy entered the world the same week as The Sorcerer’s Garden and is feeling neglected.  It was time for a little tender loving care. Thanks for reading!

Available on Amazon: Eye of Fire, The Dragon Soul Trilogy, Book One

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A tangled mess of a tale – The Sorcerer’s Garden.

Sorcerer's Garden 2At some point between serving my visiting parents popcorn and ice cream, chauffeuring them to the nearest casino, shooing our resident bat from their bedroom, potty-training the Overlord, and tracking down my hiding husband, The Sorcerer’s Garden went live.  I almost missed it!

So a bit of promotion is in order…In the life of an author, it’s an exciting day.

The Blurb:

Recently fired and residing with her sweetly overbearing mother, Madlyn needs a job—bad. In a moment of desperation, she accepts a part-time position reading at the bedside of adventurer and amateur writer Cody Lofton. A near-drowning accident left the young man in a vegetative state, and his chances of recovery wane with each passing day.

Cody’s older brother, Dustin, and eccentric grandmother aren’t prepared to give up on the youngest son of Portland, Oregon’s royalty.

Dustin’s a personable guy, bordering on naïve, and overwhelmed by familial corporate duties and cutthroat partners. Grandmother Lillian’s a meddler with an eye for the esoteric, dabbling in Dustin’s life and dealing out wisdom like a card shark. One innocent conversation at a time, she sucks Madlyn into the Lofton story, dubbing her the princess and bestowing on her the responsibility of both grandsons’ destinies.

And all Madlyn wanted was a simple reading job.

Uninspired by her self-imposed stack of literary selections, Madlyn opts for Cody’s work-in-progress. Fantasy isn’t her favorite, but with only four chapters completed, reading The Sorcerer’s Garden should be no sweat, right?

Little does she realize, the story will begin writing itself and, by the hand of destiny, become her own.

A collision of urban and medieval fantasy 

The Urban:

Portland, Oregon

“You’ve started reading Cody’s book?” Lillian asked as she poured tea.

“Um…yes.” Madlyn glanced at the crystal ball. Either Tristan spied at the door, which she doubted, or the woman dabbled in the dark arts. “I thought he’d prefer it over my mother’s recommendation.”

“I’m not sure he minds either way.” Lillian shared a wistful smile. “Undeniably, the book is key to completing his story, but it’s your presence and voice that will preserve him as much as the content.”

Madlyn squirmed in her seat and sipped her coffee as the conversation wandered off into the ozone again. She understood Dustin’s caution and hope regarding Cody’s level of awareness, but this business about the book “completing his story” lay beyond her comprehension. For a woman who didn’t make mistakes, Lillian was three tines short of a fork.

“Well, fantasy isn’t really my thing.” Madlyn shrugged, hoping to move on. “But he only wrote a few chapters. I’m happy to read it to him.”

“What is your ‘thing,’ Madlyn?”

“Aside from reading material?” She met the old woman’s eyes. Why am I having this conversation? “I don’t know, Lillian. Maybe getting by, day by day, true love, a fabulous career, two angelic children, a self-cleaning house, a cat without fleas.”

“Ah,” Lillian chuckled, “fantasy after all.”

“Probably.” Madlyn sighed, the list depressing. “But I’ve learned that it’s a waste of time to wish for what isn’t real. I don’t believe in fairy tales. There aren’t any dragons or ogres. There isn’t a magical life waiting for me in your crystal ball. Terrible things happen to us, Lillian. Magic would be helpful, but it’s not any more real than Cody’s book.”

“How do you define what’s real?”

The question unanswerable, Madlyn said nothing. The temptation to scrub her face in her hands and groan was unbearable. She didn’t know. Science and matter? What she perceived with her senses? Could the experience of cool to her, be warm to another? What about feelings and intuition? Was the fear that her father abandoned her real because she felt it, even though, in fact, it may not be fact? Were her dreams and wishes real if she could name them or only when they came true? Was her mother a cracked nut and Lillian a fruitcake, simply because she believed they were?

“I have no idea,” she admitted, her brain numb. She sipped her coffee, reduced to the intelligence of a slug. “As far as I know, coffee is real. I’m not sure of much beyond that.”

“It’s all perception, Madlyn, yes? Layers and filters and veils shape the paradigms of our lives. Our beliefs create our reality; that’s where all possibility lies, where magic finds its spark.”

The Medieval:

amazingpict.com

image by amazingpict.com

A bat-webbed wing scraped over the boulders, hooks gouging the rough stone. A vast wave of fire engulfed the air. Cody curled into a ball behind the huge slab, buried his head in his arms, and held his breath, his body over the bow. When the inferno’s roar receded, he raised his head, caught a whiff of sizzled hair, and heard Dustin bellowing at the dragon, attempting to draw it away.

Every inch of his skin screamed as he scrambled to his feet, yanked the rope pull, and loaded his last bolt. With a laugh at the absurdity of his situation, he staggered out from between the boulders, slightly rear of the beast’s flank. No need to aim, he raised the bow and pulled the trigger. The bolt flew, dragging the second rope. Cody’s ankle tangled in the twisting coil. It flipped him from his feet to his back, his breath punched from his lungs.

The bolt’s barbed point nicked the dragon’s rear leg, skidded beneath the scale, and plunged into the tender belly up to its steel fletching. The beast roared, flung its horned head, and streamed fire toward the boulders where Cody would have stood if not for the tangled rope. His crossbow, pitched to the ground when he fell, flashed into blackened char.

There, the requisite promotion is done.

Click HERE for the fateful Amazon Link.

It’s lovely to be back. 

thankyou

Cover Reveal: The Sorcerer’s Garden

Sorcerer's Garden 2

Scheduled for Release August 20, 2015

Interested in a ARC copy? Please let me know ❤
Also available now as a Preorder on Amazon.

The Sorcerer’s Garden

Recently fired and residing with her sweetly overbearing mother, Madlyn needs a job—bad. In a moment of desperation, she accepts a part-time position reading at the bedside of adventurer and amateur writer Cody Lofton. A near-drowning accident left the young man in a vegetative state, and his chances of recovery wane with each passing day.

Cody’s older brother, Dustin, and eccentric grandmother aren’t prepared to give up on the youngest son of Portland, Oregon’s royalty.

Dustin’s a personable guy, bordering on naïve, and overwhelmed by familial corporate duties and cutthroat partners. Grandmother Lillian’s a meddler with an eye for the esoteric, dabbling in Dustin’s life and dealing out wisdom like a card shark. One innocent conversation at a time, she sucks Madlyn into the Lofton story, dubbing her the princess and bestowing on her the responsibility of both grandsons’ destinies.

And all Madlyn wanted was a simple reading job.

Uninspired by her self-imposed stack of literary selections, Madlyn opts for Cody’s work-in-progress. Fantasy isn’t her favorite, but with only four chapters completed, reading The Sorcerer’s Garden should be no sweat, right?

Little does she realize, the story will begin writing itself and, by the hand of destiny, become her own.

thankyou