September 23, 2019

SHIFT Cover Reveal and Launch Date Announced!

One of the most fun parts about being an indie author is working on a book’s cover. Unlike traditionally published texts, indie books allow the author to either design the cover themselves or hire a cover designer and then approve the final product.

As for me, my book cover designs would look like they’d been drawn by a two-year-old, so I work with the brilliant Devan Edwards of Nimbi Design. I absolutely <3 her! If you missed Devan’s great tips about cover design, please see my post here. All I know is that a good cover designer can take a tiny seed of an idea and make it blossom. Devan has definitely done that for me.

Her latest creation is the cover for Shift (Firstborn Trilogy #2). The book will be launched on Friday, August 24th. I’d like to take a moment to thank the following folks for participating in today’s cover reveal:

Bethany Lopez

DreamReads

I Read Indie Book Blog

IndieWritersReview

Jess’s Book Blog

Lisa M. Wood

Magnet4Books

Sarah’s Books and Life

TeamNerd Reviews

The Bibliophile’s Corner

Writing on the Sunny Side of the Street

Zoe’s Corner

Go and follow all of them if you aren’t already! They’re all amazing writers and bloggers. I’ll also mention that the wonderful team at YA Bound is working with me on a blog tour for Shift‘s release. Some of these blogs will also feature the cover reveal today, and will be participating in the tour between 8/27 and 9/1.

http://bookmarksbookshelves.blogspot.co.uk/ ~ http://Hardcoverlife.blogspot.com ~ http://bound2astound.blogspot.com ~ http://everyfreechancebookreviews.blogspot.com/ ~ http://kissedbyink.com ~ http://thebookhookup.com ~ www.fiction-freak.blogspot.com ~ http://www.lettersinsideout.net ~ http://www.angelafristoe.blogspot.com ~ http://bibliophilesthoughtsonbooks.blogspot.com/ ~ http://iheartyabooks.blogspot.com/ ~ http://www.crossroadreviews.com ~ http://adreamwithindream.blogspot.com
~ http://bookbriefs.blogspot.com ~ www.booksbesidemybed.com ~ http://edandemreviews.blogspot.com/ ~ http://adiaryofabookaddict.blogspot.com/ ~ http://stepintofiction.blogspot.com ~ http://readwriteandreadsomemore.blogspot.co.uk/ ~ http://paigebradish1996.blogspot.com/ ~ http://www.leisurereads.com ~ http://noriscloset.blogspot.com/ ~ http://read-a-holicz.blogspot.com
~ http://www.readergirlsblog.com ~ http://jessysbookends.blogspot.com ~ http://www.bengalreads.com

And now for the big reveal! First, the teaser…then, the cover:

Shift (Firstborn Trilogy #2)

Having the ability to shapeshift, Sophia is familiar with change. But even she feels the rising tension in her homeland.

A shadowy male and deadly beast reside in their midst. The births of the newest Kynzesti loom. Hostile Mercesti continue to hunt for the Elder Scroll, and a traumatized female is too afraid to use her abilities to stop them.

Topping off Sophia’s stress is Quincy, the male she’s convinced can’t stand her. She rues the loss of their friendship, but can’t figure out how to move past it. She’ll soon learn, however, that mending that rift bears more significance than she ever imagined.

The search for the Elder Scroll takes on unexpected urgency, and Sophia finds herself in a race across the mainland. To stop the Mercesti led by Eirik, she and her companions must get past their differences and unite against them. If they don’t, Eirik will acquire the immense power he seeks, and two of the beings Sophia loves most will die.

Isn’t it gorgeous? Devan has truly outdone herself. Please stay tuned over the next few weeks for more teasers from both Shift and the last book in the Firstborn Trilogy, Elder.

For now, please tell me what you think about the cover!

Teaser Tuesday: SHIFT (Book Two of the Firstborn Trilogy)

In the aftermath of my two-week blog tour for the release of Defy, I’m thrilled to say that I’ve finished the first draft of Shift. It was remarkably challenging trying to write this book while getting Defy ready for publication and then promoting it, but somehow I managed! Next on the agenda will be the first round of edits, followed by an outline for Elder.

All in a day’s work, right?

Oh…one other item of note is that my Estilorian short story, The Prophecy, is now free on Amazon. If you haven’t already read it and would like to do so, you can download it here. If you’ve already read it, thank you so much! I hope that you’ll leave a review on Amazon (for this story and any other books you’ve read, for that matter!). :) It’s the best promotion an author can get. Thanks so much to everyone who has already done so.

For now, I wanted to give my Estilorian fans a little hint of what’s to come in the next Firstborn installment. I hope you enjoy it, and I welcome your comments!

Excerpt from Chapter One of Shift (Book Two of the Firstborn Trilogy)

In the form of the panther, Sophia stalked her target. The forest provided many shaded and grassy nooks, and Domino was an admirable opponent. The three-year-old panther could remain still for hours. His spotted fur also gave him excellent camouflage. Thus, Sophia used her heightened sense of smell to find him.

When she got within springing distance, she lowered into a crouch, her back legs digging into the ground for better purchase. Then she pounced.

Domino sensed her the moment she left the ground. He shifted to accept her weight as she tackled him. Her paws wrapped around his torso. Then she opened her powerful jaw and went for the soft part of his neck.

He quickly flipped their positions, using his greater strength to dump her onto her back. Her feline instincts had her wrenching herself to right her center of gravity. This resulted in them taking a long, tangled tumble down the side of a grassy hill.

At the base of the hill rested several of Domino’s siblings. They watched for only a moment before leaping into the fray.

“Sophia!”

She froze, her ear caught between Domino’s teeth. Rolling her eyes in the direction of her mother’s voice, she tried to ignore the heavy weight of Domino’s haunches where they rested on her right side. The panthers around her also grew still, hearing the maternal censuring tone and paying it heed.

Busted, Sophia thought.

It’s DEFY’s Launch Day!

Happy book birthday to Defy, Book One of the Firstborn trilogy!

While Defy is my fourth book and fifth published work in the Estilorian series, this is the first real “book birthday” celebration I’ve ever had. It’s exciting beyond words!

Nine months ago, the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy was released in its entirety. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I had less than a hundred Twitter followers, about ten Facebook friends, and no other social media platform. My only blog posts related directly to my books because I didn’t know what else to write. In short, I published the books with optimism and hope that somehow readers would discover them.

Knowing what I do now, I cringe over my naivete. Seriously…what was I thinking?? All I can say is that ignorance is bliss. Because I had no real knowledge of the statistics regarding the success and failure rates of indie-pubbed books, I had no huge expectations. As I tend to do, I held the belief that I was taking the right path and that everything would work itself out.

Boy, am I glad that it did!

Once I learned more about how book sales and marketing works, I buckled down and did what I could to expand my social media presence. My Twitter following is now more than 5,000 and I’m nearing 400 Facebook friends. I’ve joined three truly awesome writing tribes on Triberr (much love to the RAWR Kitties, Writer Warriors, and Power Writers!).  My Pinterest and Google+ accounts are growing, as well. And in the end, I surpassed my goal of 10,000 book sales by the end of last year, which made for a very happy new year.

Today, I’m delighted to usher in the next Estilorian trilogy, anticipated for months by my fans. Helping me welcome Tate and Zachariah to the “family” are a number of amazing book bloggers. Some bloggers joined on through the amazing blog tour coordinators, YA Bound, and some are bloggers I contacted directly. Across the board, each of them earns my most heartfelt thanks:

A Book-a-licious Story (4/30), A Diary of a Book Addict (4/30), A Pocket Full of Books (5/1), Always YA at Heart (5/9), Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile (5/6), Beesley Buzz (4/30), Behind a Million and One Pages (5/2), Bethany Lopez (5/10), Book Briefs (5/12), Bookmarks & Bookshelves (4/30), Bundle of Books 101 (5/5), Chapter by Chapter (5/9), Dream Reads (4/30), Ed and Em Reviews (5/4), Epilogue Review (5/3), Every Free Chance Book Reviews (5/3), Hey It’s Fishy (4/30), I Heart YA Books (5/5), Indie Writers Review (5/12), Jess’s Book Blog (5/7), Jessy’s Bookends (5/11), JJ iReads (5/12), Journey with Books (5/4), Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands (5/2), Love of Books 409 (4/30), Lover of Paranormal and Indies (5/8), Magnet 4 Books (5/10), Making the Grade (5/10), Margay Leah Justice (4/30), Melody with Words (4/30), Mr. Book Wonder (5/12), Open Book Society (5/3), Proserpine Craving Books (5/12), Rachel’s Book Reviews (5/3), Rai29 Book Read and Review (5/8), Read Between the Lines Book Club (5/10), Reading in Winter (5/11), Sarah’s Books and Life (5/1), Shadow Kisses Book Reviews (5/5), Storybook Escape (5/1), The Bibliophile’s Corner (4/30), The Book Galaxy (5/4), The Book Goddess (5/7), The Book Hookup (5/2), The Reader’s Antidote (5/11), Twimom101 Book Blog (5/8), Unreality (5/1), Winter Haven Books (5/4), YA-Aholic (5/4), and Zoey’s Uncreatively Titled Blog (5/8).

Running from April 30th through May 12th, the Defy blog tour will be filled with insights about the book and fantastic giveaways, including copies of the book, some Estilorian swag, and this gorgeous hair decoration created by Devan Edwards of Nimbi Design, inspired by Defy‘s heroine, Tate:

Please check out the above tour stops and enter for your chance to win. Once again, huge thanks to all of my Estilorian fans…you are awesome!!!

I’ll leave you with the pertinent details: Defy is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords, and will be coming soon to other eBookstores everywhere. I hope you’ll check it out!

Don’t Miss the DEFY Trailer and a Chance for Great Swag!

Ahh, swag. Just the word has my imagination leaping! Bringing to mind strapping, swashbuckling pirates stowing their ill-gotten loot in mysterious lairs, swag was simply a must-have once I became a published author.

Of course, swag costs money. Most authors just starting out don’t have hundreds (or more) dollars to dole out on promotional items, and I was no exception. Fortunately, with a few book sales now under my sword-bearing belt (okay, not really–but it could be), I can now present some lovely swag to my Estilorian fans!

With Defy‘s release just days away, I wanted to do something to capture the interest of my existing fans, and hopefully entice a few new ones. What I’d like to do is offer a giveaway. This giveaway will include some swag, some of which includes the following items:

(Did you notice the “I Want My Own Gloresti” buttons)?? I’ve also got some super-cool magnets. The other part of the giveaway is the winner’s choice of a signed paperback of Becoming or the entire Daughters of Saraqael trilogy in eBook format. If you already happen to have the entire trilogy in eBook format AND a signed copy of Becoming, I’ll offer you a signed copy of Defy instead. Read on to find out how to enter!

Starting this Monday, April 30th (Defy‘s release date) and running until May 12th, there’s going to be a big Defy blog tour hosted by YA Bound that will involve lots of other great prizes and giveaways. Tune back into my blog on Monday for more details on that.

If you haven’t already seen the amazing Defy book trailer created by FLATLINE FILMS, I hope you’ll check it out now:

Isn’t it awesome? And now…how to enter the swag-and-free-book giveaway! The only thing you have to do to qualify is comment on this blog post with the reason you want to win. Do you love the Estilorians? What do you love about them? Have you never read my books but find yourself interested in doing so? What captured your interest?

For extra entries in the giveaway, you can review Becoming, Central and/or Foretold on Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble (assuming you’ve read them, of course) and let me know that you did so. Each (hopefully positive!) review will count as a separate entry in the giveaway. I’ll select the winner on Monday the 30th.

Thanks so much to everyone for the unbelievable support! I’m so excited about Defy‘s launch, and I can’t tell my fans often enough how much your encouragement means to me. Good luck to everyone who enters!

Turn Your Speakers Up: the FORETOLD #Trailer is Here!

The usefulness of book trailers for promotional purposes is a subject of great debate in the writing community. Personally, I’m of the mindset that as long as they’re done at least marginally well, they certainly don’t hurt!

My book trailers were created by a friend of mine, Erin, who dabbles in video and has a remarkably creative mind. Especially considering the price (read: free), she’s done such a spectacular job! Truly, so much better than anything I could have done. I’ll be forever grateful to her for her time and effort.

Adding to the success of the trailers is the custom music done by Erin’s brother, Austin, owner of NME Studios. Every time I see a trailer for the first time and I hear the music he created, it gives me goosebumps. He’s a cinematic genius!

In particular, Erin and Austin outdid themselves on the trailer for Foretold: Book Three of the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy. I was so excited when they were able to get the trailer done before Defy releases! Although Defy was written with the intent that new readers could pick up the story and read it without having read the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy first, I think that reading the stories in order does add to the experience.

If you haven’t yet read the first trilogy, here is the blurb about Foretold to pique your interest:

Centuries before she was born, Skye Tomaganuk was a subject of the most important prophecy in Estilorian history. As one of three half-human daughters born of the Corgloresti, Saraqael, she is part of the fulfillment of Knorbis’ Great Foretelling. What she doesn’t know is just what the Foretelling entails for her and her sisters.

As Skye and her sisters continue their training and visit each of the Estilorian class homelands, they soon learn how much impact their human emotions have on their father’s kind. Skye is particularly interested in the effect of emotions on her Gloresti, Caleb. Although she wants their relationship to progress beyond just that of protector and assignment, he proves particularly resistant to the idea.

She’ll soon have much more to worry about than a lack of romance, however. With the help of a traitor, Grolkinei infiltrates the Estilorian stronghold, imprisoning Skye’s mind and putting all Estilorians at risk. It leads them all toward the greatest battle of their kind, and puts Skye’s faith to the ultimate test.

If you haven’t yet read Becoming, Central and Foretold, perhaps watching this amazing trailer will convince you. Be sure to turn your speakers up…and please let me know what you think!

Defying the Odds: One #Indie Author’s Perspective

Today I’d like to share with you the dedication from my upcoming book, Defy. For those of you who don’t know, Defy was a book that just about made me give up writing.  It seems silly to say that now, but there you have it.

I’ve never revised a book as much as I did this one, and I spend a lot of time editing my books. At one point, I chopped 20,000 words and rewrote them. Then I chopped and rewrote some more. It felt like every time I was “done,” yet another change had to be made. My husband eventually took pity on me and shipped me off to a local hotel for a long weekend just so I could sit in peace and revise.

And still, I wasn’t done.

But whenever my frustration took hold and I wanted to throw the proverbial pen across the room, I’d receive some kind of positive feedback…a great review of one of my books, an unbelievably appreciated shoutout by a fellow author to an interested literary agent, or (most especially) contact from a new fan. It was messages like the one saying, “Thank you so much for your hard work and talent, and for putting forth such an intelligent story and beautiful imagery!” that got me through the rough spots.

Someone I don’t even know thanked me for all of my pain and suffering? How could I not go on?

What I’ve also learned in the process of finishing Defy is that I’m not alone. Many authors feel this way at some point. I’m contacted periodically by writers who express frustration, depression, feelings of inferiority, and/or the sentiment that they don’t feel like continuing on with their writing. And the advice I give them is the same advice I followed: never, ever give up.

Before I share the Defy dedication, I’ll offer a few tips for writers that I’ve recently picked up in hopes they’ll help someone out there. If you missed my first post featuring tips for writers, you can check it out here. As for my latest tips:

1. Don’t give up. Okay, I just said that…but it can’t be said enough!

2. Socialize like you’ve never socialized before. On a surprising number of occasions, I’ve observed other writers saying things like, “Pinterest is just a passing fad,” “I’m not going to waste time beefing up my Facebook presence,” or “I don’t get Twitter, so I just use it occasionally.” Um…seriously? I won’t even touch the Facebook and Twitter comments because, quite frankly, if you don’t see the value in those hundreds of millions of followers by now, I probably won’t be able to reason with you.

But, people–have we learned nothing from the past? There was a time when Facebook and Twitter were thought to be “passing fads.” There’s a quote by Steve Jobs (you might’ve heard of him) that says, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Pinterest is the most visual site there is. On top of that, it can link to your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Get on there and start pinning your books, your blogs, pictures that resemble your characters, images that inspire your settings, amazing wardrobe photos, and anything else that you think might draw interested readers into your world. This is the hottest social media site out there right now. Don’t miss out because you think it has no bearing on the writing world!

And, yes…I’ve made book sales via Pinterest.

3. Support other writers. I believe in the power of karma. There has been some negativity in different segments of the writing community, and a lot of it stems from whether or not an author is traditionally published. In my mind, we should look beyond that. We should acknowledge that we’re all working exceedingly hard at our craft. We should support each other. We should read each other’s books, tweet about them, like them, pin them, blog about them and refer them to all of our friends and relatives. This is a hard enough industry to succeed in without having unnecessary obstacles caused by narrow viewpoints.

If you work hard on your writing, keep your mind open to creative ways to sell and market your books, and never stop developing your social media platform, you can defy the odds and have a successful writing career. Believe it.

And with that, I leave you with the dedication to Defy, which releases on April 30th. I hope you all enjoy Tate and Zachariah’s story as much as I enjoyed completing it!

This book is dedicated with sincerest gratitude to all indie authors and everyone who supports us.

It never ceases to amaze me what an inspiring and supportive community this is. Here’s to defying the odds, pursuing our dreams and reaching for the stars!

Cover Reveal: #Defy (Firstborn Trilogy Book One)

I’ve never considered myself challenged when it comes to keeping surprises, but having to wait over a month before releasing the cover of Defy has definitely tested my willpower! It has helped to have the involvement of wonderful book bloggers and fellow writers participating in the release. They’ve all seen the cover and gushed appropriately, which has curbed my desire to share it with the world…a little.

I’d love to give a huge thank you to Trisha Wolfe over at YA Bound for helping me with not only the cover reveal tour, but the upcoming book launch tour for Defy (4/30-5/12).  And another round of thanks goes out to all of these wonderful cover reveal participants. Thank you for helping me generate all the Defy fanfare we can muster!

A Book-a-licious Story, A Diary of a Book Addict, A Pocket Full of Books, Always YA at Heart, Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile, Behind a Million and One Pages, Bethany Lopez, Book Briefs, Bookmarks & Bookshelves, BookSpark, Bundle of Books 101, Chapter by Chapter, Dream Reads, Ed and Em Reviews, Epilogue Review, Every Free Chance Book Reviews, Fiktshun, Hackaroos Reviews, Hey It’s Fishy, I Heart YA Books, Ivy Reads, Jess’s Book Blog, Jessy’s Bookends, JJ iReads, Journey with Books, Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands, Love of Books 409, Lover of Paranormal and Indies, Making the Grade, Melody with Words, Mr. Book Wonder, Open Book Society, Paranormal Book Fan, Proserpine Craving Books, Rai29 Book Read and Review, Sarah’s Books and Life, Shadow Kisses Book Reviews, Storybook Escape, Stuck in Books, The Bibliophile’s Corner, The Book Galaxy, The Book Hookup, The Reader’s Antidote, Twimom101 Book Blog, Unreality, We Fancy Books, Winter Haven Books, Writing on the Sunny Side of the Street, YA-Aholic, and Zoey’s Uncreatively Titled Blog.

And now the big day is here! What better way to honor the cover reveal of Defy than with an interview with my remarkably talented cover designer, Devan Edwards of Nimbi Design? Here are more juicy details about this person you absolutely have to get to know:

Bio: I’m Devan Edwards. I started up Nimbi Design a few years ago, as a way to have a fun creative outlet for all the different things I enjoy. Nimbi is plural for Nimbus Cloud. The name felt appropriate for living in the NW, where it rains about 7-8 months out of the year–plus, clouds are so cute. I graduated from PNCA in Portland, OR in 2008, and have worked as a Graphic Designer for Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, and am currently a UX/UI Designer for eBay Mobile in Portland.

Nimbi is a fun way for me to be more “crafty” and less technical with the skills I’ve learned through the years, and a way for me to explore other creative outlets using my hands and tools and not just a computer. I do an array of different things and sell them on my online Etsy shop. I make custom letterpress stationery, invitations (digital and layered), glass and metal jewelry, feather and flower hairpieces, greeting cards, needle felt, plushies and more. I do some sewing and just love to mess around with different things that I have in my “Tiffany” colored craft room. My latest and busiest freelance work has become book cover design. I have to say, I absolutely love it and am so grateful for falling upon it!

Now tell us something about you that your bio doesn’t include. Feel free to make us laugh!

I love the outdoors and fly-fishing. It’s my happy place, being on the river with my fly rod, something I’ve done since I was little. Other than that, I am completely obsessed with my Boston Terrier, Mac. I named him after two things I’m obsessed with: Apple and Mac makeup. I thought it might be a good idea to get a girl French Bulldog one day too, to be his friend. I discussed names with my Mom, and thought Tosh would be funny, so that I had Mac ‘n Tosh. (Get it?). Then my mom suggested I name her Fromage. Which is French for “Cheese.” My mom is witty. :)

How did you get into book cover design?

A friend of mine that worked with me at Walt Disney World contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in taking on a freelance job designing a book cover for an author. I said “Yes!” Met Raine, and created her first trilogy, The Daughters of Saraqael. I enjoyed it so much, and felt like the design just came together like clockwork. From that and Raine’s fabulous networking skills and my blog, I quickly started getting contacted by other authors wanting to get me to do their next books. Since the first trilogy, I’ve finished eight book covers, and have five currently in progress with talk of more in the next couple of months.

Tell us about some of the challenges you face in designing book covers. What can your clients do to make it a little easier on you?

The hardest part is that typically my only interaction with the author is via e-mail. Most of my clients are in another city or state. I think the fact that I’m able to produce what they want says a lot about my communication, but sometimes it gets difficult to really know what someone is wanting or envisioning when they aren’t there to physically describe something to you. I enjoy working with authors on Skype, sending them files through Skype while I’m working, and being in constant communication. It’s also hard if someone doesn’t realize that book design isn’t my first and only job (hasn’t been too much of a problem yet, thankfully). I work full time 40+ hours a week, and am running my own business at home that also requires my time, not to mention my furbabies and family time. I think as long as authors give me plenty of time to work with them, and don’t expect a cover in just a couple weeks, they’ll be happy and I’ll be stress free. I really enjoy doing this work, and it’s extremely gratifying to me to give an author their vision as an image, and something they and I can both be proud to share.

Which has been your favorite book cover to design and why?

All of them (obviously). I think they all have had unique things brought to the table that challenged me in one way or another. The trickiest and most gratifying so far probably has to be Defy. That hair and model were tricky to work with, and I honestly didn’t know how I was going to pull off the look of her hair, and then…it just worked, and it was pretty awesome! I really enjoy doing scenery too, and I really enjoyed designing the cover for Blood Oath by T.L. Clarke. Creating the mist and having all the details of the girl and the background were really fun to create.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received regarding your cover design work?

I love seeing the feedback on sites like Amazon, or reading tweets to authors tagging me. One of the best compliments I had was when someone commented on Raine’s first book, Becoming, and said that the cover is what drew her in, to want to look into the book and read, then once they read they were hooked. That let me know that I did my job for Raine. I was able to draw someone in by first glance, to make her think “Ooh what’s this?”, letting Raine’s words take it from there. I also absolutely love the “Eeek!” and “OH MY GOODNESS!” and “This is PERFECT!” that I get from my authors…it makes me happy that they are so happy.

Some authors design their own book covers for monetary reasons.  Can you offer them a word of advice to help them achieve the best cover possible outside of hiring a (totally amazing) professional like you?

Keep it simple. The worst thing you can do is use too much imagery on a cover, especially if you aren’t as savvy with programs like Photoshop to manipulate images in a good, crisp way. So, doing things like finding a great photo on a website like iStockphoto.com or something similar can make a huge difference. Also, pay attention to colors and lighting. Reference other books you like and take cues from them. Sometimes black and white imagery can instantly create drama, where a lot of bright colors can show fun and adventure.

Where can we stalk find you?

I am everywhere. On Twitter you can find me @devanescence, Facebook at Nimbi Design, and my blog, which has links to a lot of what I do, including book covers. I try to keep it fun and interesting! I’d also love more followers and comments on my blog/posts, to make it a bigger and more interactive blog. You can also shop on my Etsy shop. I have all kinds of fun things on there and LOVE taking on custom orders. There isn’t a whole lot I can’t try to create and work with, so always feel free to contact me or message me for advice or questions, etc.

Thanks so much, Devan! You know how much I <3 you, gal. You’ve made the self-publishing journey wonderfully fun!

And now, I’d love to present the cover that proved to be such a challenge for my brilliant cover designer…Defy!

Seventeen-year-old Tate is about to make her parents’ dreams come true. Unfortunately for her, their dreams foretell her death.

Eager to explore more of the Estilorian plane and prove her abilities, Tate goes against her parents’ wishes and leaves the area of protection surrounding her home. Her choice puts her on a deadly path…one that leaves her alone, severely injured and battling for her life.

Her possible savior arrives in the form of Zachariah, a male who has removed himself from Estilorian society for more than fifty years. Fighting an unexpected connection to Tate, he must decide whether saving her life is worth destroying his.

As Tate struggles to find a way home, she ends up drawn into a dark Mercesti plot involving multiple murders and a powerful ancient artifact. With the unpredictable Zachariah as her only source for aid, she’ll soon find out if her abilities are strong enough to help her defy her Fate.

Don’t forget to add Defy to your Goodreads To-Read list!

#TeaserTuesday and a #FabulouslyFree Short Story!

Today begins the promotion for my Estilorian short story, The Prophecy, on Amazon.com! From today until Friday the 16th, The Prophecy is free! For those of you who don’t know, this story serves as a prequel to my Daughters of Saraqael trilogy. Thus, it’s a great way to get your feet wet if you’re not yet familiar with the Estilorian world.

Here’s the story blurb for a little more enticement:

“Saraqael hadn’t intended to fall in love with Kate. It shouldn’t have even been possible. His kind didn’t experience emotion, and they certainly weren’t supposed to become attached to humans.

When he discovers that Kate’s dying and there’s nothing he or her human doctors can do for her, Saraqael realizes how deep his feelings for her run. And he understands just how far he’s willing to go to save her.

He vows to search until he finds a way to save her life. With the help of his best friend, Quincy, he embarks on a quest spanning the Estilorian plane…a quest that will forever change the future of his kind.”

Now, on to the teaser!

The first book in my upcoming Firstborn trilogy, Defy, releases on April 30th. I’m organizing a cover reveal blog tour on March 29th, so be on the lookout for that. Today, I thought I’d post another new excerpt from Defy to tide my Estilorian fans over for a while. Visit these posts to check out the prologue, chapter one, and part of chapter two. And now we’ll continue Tate’s story…

Defy (Book One of the Firstborn Trilogy)

Part of Chapter Two

Quincy walked with her out to the training paddock with his packed satchel. Tate realized that all of her family members were nearby, despite the early hour. A number of them were stretching or completing their cardio warm-ups before the weapons training ahead.

Tiege stood with Aunt Amber and some of their cousins performing tai chi. Her dad and Uncle Gabriel spotted for her brothers, Nick and Alex, as they lifted weights. Her mom glided around the side yard with her younger sisters and cousins, instructing them in dance. Aunt Olivia and Uncle James watched the littlest of the children as they played with the family of panthers before beginning school for the day.

Sophia sat on a large rock about twenty yards from the paddock, looking quite glum as she awaited the day’s flight efforts. Tate’s heart went out to her. She knew how discouraged Sophia had been to fail again and again at bringing forth her wings during the lessons her parents started after her eighteenth birthday several weeks ago.

Plastering an encouraging smile on her face as she and Quincy approached, Tate said, “Hey, Sophia! You’re looking particularly pretty today.”

She heard Quincy mumble something under his breath and fought a giggle even as Sophia gave her a baleful look. The comment was true enough, though. Sophia’s turquoise sundress flattered her petite frame. The long skirt of the dress, pooled around her slim legs, made her look very delicate. She had secured her golden hair at the nape of her slender neck in an intricate knot, drawing attention to her wide blue-green eyes and the blue-green butterfly wing patterns around her eyes, indicating her second power. Although her small size and fair coloring differed from the rest of the Kynzesti, Sophia managed to outshine them all, in Tate’s opinion.

“Thanks, Tate,” Sophia said, barely glancing at Quincy. She looked irritated about something and Tate wondered if one of the scientific experiments her cousin so enjoyed was giving her trouble. That always tended to spoil her mood. Of course, she could have just been nervous. With Sophia, it was a little hard to tell.

“I can’t wait to hear how everything goes today,” Tate ventured, keeping her tone light.

“Hmm,” Sophia responded, shifting and getting to her feet. Now, she spared Quincy a glance. “Well, let’s get this over with.”

“Ah…” Quincy said when she caught his gaze. He didn’t manage anything more.

“Your parents are coming to send you off,” Tate threw in, trying to help. Quincy gave her a grateful look.

Uncle James and Aunt Olivia approached, trailed by a group of giggling and bouncing children. Tate smiled as her aunt pulled Sophia into a hug, then passed her over to her uncle so he could repeat the gesture.

“We’re proud of you, honey,” Aunt Olivia said, her light green eyes damp. “I wish we could be there, but…I’m sure Quincy’s right. We were inadvertently restricting you in our lessons. Without us there, you’ll have the faith in yourself that you need to extend your wings.”

Sophia shifted uncomfortably and looked at the ground. Her father gave her a gentle smile.

“We look forward to hearing all about it when you get back,” he said.

She looked up and nodded. Quincy adjusted the satchel he wore across his body. It rattled as the items inside shifted. Although Uncle James raised an eyebrow over the obviously full bag, he didn’t comment. He did, however, catch Quincy’s gaze.

“Take care of her,” he said.

Quincy nodded. Then he looked down at Sophia. “Ready?” he asked.

“Sure,” she said.

Tate saw the lie resonate in the word. Sophia caught her gaze in warning, not that Tate was going to call her on it. She smiled and stepped forward to give her cousin a hug.

“Try to have fun, Soph. I know you’ll do great.”

As she watched Quincy lead her cousin into the forest toward adventure, Tate felt the desire to go with them like an ache in her chest. Instead, she turned with her aunt and uncle and headed to the training paddock. And the mundane.

The tai chi session came to a finish as she neared. Aunt Olivia led the children to their lessons as Uncle James joined her father and Uncle Gabriel near the weights. Aunt Amber watched her approach as she wiped her face with a towel.

“You need to stretch?” her aunt asked. She was never one for idle chit-chat.

“Nah,” Tate replied. “I did my warm-up routines earlier.”

“Cool. Why don’t you and Tiege pair up? I’ll get everyone else set up with their weapons and then we’ll see how you’re coming along with your new form.”

“Okay.” She glanced at her brother as he finished drinking some water and strode toward her. “Ready for some hand-to-hand?” she asked.

“You mean am I ready to kick your ass?” he returned with a grin. “You bet.” When she didn’t return his smile or give a snarky rejoinder, his grin faded. “You’re still upset that Mom and Dad said no?”

She shrugged. He already knew the answer. They knew each other as well as any two individuals possibly could.

“You know it’s a lousy idea, Tate,” he pointed out pragmatically. “We have no idea what things are really like away from home.”

That was exactly her point, she thought in growing frustration as she glanced at the break in the trees where Quincy and her cousin disappeared. She didn’t have any idea what it was like out there. And she very much wanted to.

“You’d only get yourself into trouble,” Tiege continued as he twisted sideways in another stretch. “Your skills aren’t sharp enough.”

That set her temper to a fiery pitch. She was sick and tired of the lack of faith in her abilities. How on the entire Estilorian plane could anyone know she would fail to protect herself if she’d never been given the chance to prove it?

Valentine’s #TeaserTuesday: Five Times the Estilorian Love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As I sit here admiring the flowers that my husband probably paid waaay too much for and eagerly anticipating enjoying a caramel-filled chocolate or two (okay, five), it occurred to me that I needed to put up a Valentine’s Day blog. Say what you want about this being a “Hallmark Holiday,” as a YA romance author, I couldn’t let February 14th go without a post and a set of romantic teasers for my readers!

I’ll also mention that Becoming is presently on sale for 99 cents as a Valentine’s promotion. If you have a “valentine” with an e-reader, you can hook them up with some romance in the form of a book through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever e-books are sold!

For your reading pleasure today, I’ve decided to include excerpts of a romantic nature from Becoming, Central, Foretold, Defy and Shift.  I thought this would offer something fun for new and existing Estilorian fans alike. I hope you enjoy them…let me know if you have a favorite!

Without another thought, she leaned forward while using her hand to guide him toward her lips. She sensed his hesitation, knew she had caught him off-guard and his brain was trying to catch up, but she didn’t let it deter her. As though they had practiced it a hundred times, her mouth found his.

His response astounded her. There wasn’t so much a spark as a lightning strike when they connected. If she had thought the feeling of his hands on her back earlier that day had been amazing, the touch of his lips against hers now had rockets firing in her synapses. He kissed her with such intensity she wondered how she could stand it.

In that moment, she knew all that he held in his heart for her and wondered how he had kept it from her all this time. Even more, she understood her own heart in glorious, almost painful clarity.

She moved her lips against his, teaching him without words what he needed to know. Ever the ardent student, he lifted his hands to cradle her face, slowly moving his mouth against hers. Once. Twice. Then again, and yet again, varying the positions and the amount of pressure exerted.

When she opened her mouth beneath his, he followed her lead without a thought. Somehow, although he probably should have found it at least mildly shocking, he was unsurprised when she gently touched her tongue to his. It just seemed to him as though that was a perfectly logical transition for this amazing experience, and he responded in kind.

He savored the taste of her. It absolutely defied description. She made soft sounds indicating her pleasure as her hands caressed his back and shoulders. His body felt as though it was going to erupt in a rapturous flare of pleasure.

He had been prepared for the entire experience to be awkward. He had even been prepared for it to be mildly repulsive.

He had not been prepared for it to feel so good.

Everywhere she touched started tingling. Pulsing sensation coursed through him at the touch of her fingers as well as where he felt her warm breath against the side of his neck. He felt her body pressed against him, felt the heat from her skin warming him through their clothes, and instinctively reached up to hold her at her waist, enjoying the feel of the feminine curves of her hips beneath his hands.

Then he felt her lips move along the outer edge of his ear, taking his sensitive earlobe gently between her teeth for one teasing, incredible moment before she slowly rained tender kisses along the side of his neck and jaw. He realized when his brain finally kicked in that her particular position exposed the slender line of her neck to him. He didn’t have to move at all to breathe in the scent of her. He registered that she smelled like jasmine, sweet and bit mysterious.

Of course she did.

~ DEFY ~

“When you want to kiss someone,” he said, making her realize she had been speaking her thoughts again, “do not talk it to damn death.”

And then he pulled her against him and captured her mouth with his.

He didn’t kiss her. No, that was far too sedate a term for it. He claimed her.

This was no gentle brushing of lips against lips. This was an undiluted assault of the senses. This was lips and tongue and heat and urgent, roaming hands. This was erratic breathing, bodies pressed together, skin touching skin, bursts of unbelievable and unexpected pleasure. This was beyond her wildest imaginings.

~ SHIFT ~

At first, he stiffened in shock. But he quickly sank into the kiss, making her realize just how little she knew about this particular activity.

His warm lips moved tenderly against hers, telling her that her urgent pressing of her mouth against his wasn’t quite right. She deliberately relaxed, focusing on every sensation as his hands moved to cradle her, one hand against the small of her back and the other at the base of her neck beneath her hair. Every touch sent waves of heady sensation pouring through her. It was even more potent than the charge of energy she experienced when she shifted.

A soft moan built in her throat as his lips moved against hers. She felt his hand move from around her neck to the side of her jaw. When he traced the delicate skin there, it sent another shiver through her.

Teaser Tuesday: Excerpt, Title Release and a Totally-Free Download

Along with a new teaser, I have some exciting news to share with my Estilorian fans: The Prophecy is FREE today on Amazon (more about this below), and the titles of the books of the upcoming Firstborn trilogy have been set! Deciding on book titles is a challenge, but a fun one. After much deliberation, the final titles will be (drum roll please…):

Defy, Shift and Elder.

What do you think? Do the titles succeed at capturing your attention?

I’m having so much fun writing this trilogy! Defy introduces Zachariah, a complex character that I suspect will reluctantly grumble his way into the hearts of many. Shift brings back Quincy, a beloved character we met in Foretold whose story I felt needed to be told. And Elder ultimately concludes Ini-herit’s story, begun in the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy.

Want to know more about the Firstborn trilogy? You got it! Here are three brief synopses for you:

Defy
As her eighteenth birthday approaches, Tate knows she’s ready to experience more of the world outside of her protected homeland. Her parents, Skye and Caleb, however, refuse to allow it. When Tate takes her future into her own hands, she’ll learn that defying them will lead to disastrous and deadly consequences.

Shift
Being different from her Kynzesti kin has never sat well with Sophia, even if she does enjoy the unique ability to shapeshift. When she discovers just why she’s so different, she feels like an even bigger freak. Only if she changes her mindset about herself and her abilities will she have a chance to help stop a Mercesti plot involving a powerful artifact called the Elder Scroll.

Elder
The daughter of the Gloresti elder and firstborn of the Kynzesti class, Clara Kate knows she has a lot of responsibility to shoulder at her young age. As the situation with the Mercesti hunting the Elder Scroll grows more dire, C.K.’s abilities are put to the test. She’ll find out if she has what it takes to be a leader…and whether she can help another elder finally learn to love.

Hopefully this gives you more of an idea of what to expect in the new trilogy. Now…the teaser! Below is the beginning of Chapter Two of Defy. You’ll learn a bit more about Quincy and his relationship with the Kynzesti—the children of the Daughters of Saraqael. If you missed my earlier teasers, you might want to read the prologue and Chapter One first.

And speaking of Quincy, if you haven’t already checked out my Estilorian short story, The Prophecy, it’s currently FREE on Amazon for today only! This is the story of Saraqael’s quest to save the human woman he loves…and his best friend, Quincy, is right in the middle of it. Please download it if you’d like a taste of the Estilorians! In the meantime, I leave you with this teaser, and look forward to your comments.

 

Kynzesti DEFY: Book One of the Firstborn Trilogy
Chapter 2

The following day, Tate visited Quincy in the clinic attached to the cottage he kept not far from the training paddock. Although each of the families had gladly offered him room in one of their homes, he insisted that he didn’t want to impose. Plus, although the homes were relatively close to each other, the cottage was a nice central location that made it easier for him to get to any of the expecting mothers he was assisting. And since it was a fully stocked clinic, the fact that it was located near the training paddock was helpful, too. Aunt Amber and Uncle Gabriel weren’t always around when someone needed healing.

Tate privately thought that Quincy preferred the solitude over trying to get any peace in a houseful of other beings, something she could well understand.

Right now, she wandered around the clinic while Quincy stocked a satchel with every conceivable kind of medical implement. The sunlight coming in through the two windows in the room glinted on his blond hair as he leaned intently over the satchel resting on one of the examination tables in the center of the room. Although he usually wore his hair short, it was presently long enough that there was a noticeable curl to it. It nearly touched the neckline of his black tank top. She personally liked the way the longer hairstyle complemented the lines of his handsome face, though she knew he’d be changing back to the shorter style before too long.

When he turned again to one of the many cabinets lining the walls, the sun also gleamed on the silver markings lining his broad shoulders and the backs of his muscular arms. The markings were a result of his transitions to the human plane. As a Corgloresti, he was a harvester of human souls, the only way full Estilorians had to reproduce, since Estilorian females didn’t have the same reproductive systems as humans. As far as Tate knew, Quincy was the most successful Corgloresti in history at bringing souls over through the very complicated Corgloresti Embrace.

He’d never failed.

As he pulled a glass container from the cabinet and started unscrewing the lid, Tate let out a snort of laughter. “Do you really think you’ll need tongue depressors to teach Sophia to fly?”

His silver eyes narrowed and shifted briefly to her. “Don’t give me a hard time right now. You already know how stressed I am about this.”

She did know. Over the years, Quincy had become a very dear friend. And she had long ago reasoned out how he felt about her cousin. She knew he was quite nervous over the prospect of being alone with her for an extended period of time. Even if she hadn’t had a second power that allowed her to see the truth of any matter, his uncommonly jerky mannerisms as he packed his satchel and the more pronounced accent in his words certainly would have tipped her off.

“You know,” she casually pointed out, “if I went with you, I’m sure it would be less stressful for you.”

He replaced the tongue depressors and lifted a container of cotton balls, giving it a thoughtful study. Tate bit her lip against another laugh even as he shook out a few fluffy balls and absently replied, “Nice try.”

“It’s true,” she insisted. “I could serve as a buffer for you so you wouldn’t be forced to try and make conversation with Sophia.” She paused to watch him fumble with the lid as he tried to screw it back on the container. Then she pointed out, “I’m sure she’ll look especially pretty today.”

“Sophia isn’t pretty,” he said in an affronted tone. He was so flustered that he dropped the jar. Fortunately, it hit an area rug and didn’t shatter, though it did roll across the floor toward the open window where Tate stood. Quincy cursed and shook his head at himself as he hurried after the container.

Tate laughed again and bent to help him pick up the displaced cotton balls. “Okay, okay. I’m sure she’ll look gorgeous, breathtaking and heart-stopping, then.”

He caught her gaze and some of the tension in his shoulders eased. One corner of his mouth rose. “Well, that’s a slightly more accurate description, at least. Though you did leave out spectacular and magnificent.”

“I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Sighing, he walked to the trash can to throw away the cotton balls that had escaped the jar. Then he secured the lid and put the container away. “I’m pathetic.”

“A completely lost cause.”

He ran a hand through his hair. “Why did I suggest this again?”

“Because you’re hopelessly in love with my cousin and don’t want to see her fail at this,” she answered, running her finger idly along the frame of the painting hanging on the wall between the windows. The painting had been done by Sophia’s twelve-year-old sister, Leigh, and depicted the family of panthers that lived within the area of protection.

“Oh. Right.”

Empathizing with him, she walked over and rubbed his upper arm. “Are you sure you don’t want me to come along?”

“Well, that would certainly make things easier for me in one respect,” he admitted, giving her an appreciative grin. “But it would get me into all kinds of trouble with your father. You know him, right? Big guy? Handy with a sword? Deadly glare when he’s angry?”

Her lips twitched despite the fact that she knew her attempts to convince Quincy to take her along with him and Sophia weren’t going to succeed. “Yeah, yeah. Well, I believe in you, Quincy. I know that if anyone can help Sophia discover the faith she needs to learn to extend her wings, it’ll be you.”

He sighed again. “Thanks, Tate. No pressure, though.”