October 19, 2019

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.”

Teaser Tuesday: Book One of the Firstborn Trilogy

This has been a crazy (and exciting) year. On top of building a new house, moving into that house, and my daughter starting Kindergarten, I also published the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy. For anyone who thinks that publishing a book is the last stage in the world of writing, though, that’s far from true!

Since the trilogy was published at the end of July, my writing time–which was already sparse because of my full-time wedding planning career–has greatly diminished due to the time I now spend marketing the books. Before publication, I didn’t have an author presence to nurture. There wasn’t a Raine Thomas Facebook page, Twitter account or blog. I wasn’t participating in author interviews and guest posts. I wasn’t befriending wonderful authors whose books I want to read and review.

In short, when I wasn’t coordinating a wedding or spending time with my family, I was writing.

Well, things change…and I’m delighted with how things have changed over the past four months. This is everything I’ve been striving for and more (sleep deprivation aside). Despite my other obligations, I have been writing. Book one of the Firstborn trilogy is done and in the beta-reading stage, and I’m outlining book two. I’m still on track to have the entire trilogy released by early-to-mid 2012 (fingers crossed, knock on wood and all that).

In the meantime, to celebrate completing my latest round of edits, I’m doing two things: having a sale for Becoming, which is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for just 99 cents, and posting this excerpt from book one of the Firstborn trilogy. If you missed my first teaser from the book (the prologue), please check it out here.

As always, thanks so much for your support…and I look forward to your feedback!
 

Chapter 1 ~ Book One of the Firstborn Trilogy

KynzestiBeing seventeen absolutely sucked.

Tate crossed her arms over her chest and scowled at the grassy ground beneath her booted feet. The response to her request had been exactly what she’d expected, but that didn’t make her any less annoyed. She would be eighteen in about a month, for all holy sake. What difference did a few weeks make?

“You know why I’m saying no, Tate,” her father, Caleb, said in his level tone. “You’re not yet eighteen. Leaving the area of protection around our home would be very unsafe. You can’t bring forth your wings yet.”

She looked up at him, fighting against the instinctive pout that she knew wouldn’t help her cause. “Only because you won’t let me try,” she countered.

He gave her The Look. It was one he had mastered over the years, and she felt her shoulders hunching against it. Huffing out a sigh, she rolled her eyes and said, “Okay, fine. So I’ve tried. But that doesn’t mean I’d be helpless out there. I’d be with Quincy and Sophia, and they won’t be very far outside the area of protection. Don’t you trust Quincy?”

Her father gave her another look, this one telling her that she was losing her touch. “I certainly do trust Quincy. He brought you into this world and he would protect you to his death. Is that what you want?”

She pursed her lips in frustration. He knew she wasn’t going to say yes to that. Refusing to give up, she said, “What I want is for you to trust my ability to defend myself. I’ve been trained to do so since I was old enough to hold a weapon. I know very well that mom only trained for a few months after she transitioned to this plane before she helped you defeat Grolkinei. So I’m curious as to just when you’re going to consider me ready.”

Now, her father’s dark blue eyes seemed to take her measure. Then he acknowledged, “Well played.”

“Thank you.”

“But it doesn’t change my mind.”

“But, Dad—”

“No, Tate. My answer is final.” He reached out and tugged on one of her many corkscrew curls—curls that resembled his outside of their varied colors. “You offered a sound argument. But my concern for your safety won’t ease until you’re eighteen, and even then, I’m your father. I love you and I’ll always worry about you.”

Her frown softened at the words, but the disappointment was still hard to swallow. She knew that she was ready to experience more of the world. How could he not feel the same? “You’re going to have to learn to trust my abilities at some point, Dad.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You’ve lived a much more sheltered life than your mother and your aunts did, Tate. You don’t understand it yet, but you’re a much younger seventeen than they were.” His lips curved into a smile that eased the sting of his words. “When you’re really ready to leave the area of protection, you’ll understand what I’m saying. The bottom line is that you might be the oldest of all your siblings by five minutes, but you’re not the oldest of your cousins. Clara Kate and Sophia will experience certain things before you do. But that won’t make those experiences any less special for you when it’s your turn. Before you know it, we’ll be taking you and Tiege out for your first attempt at flying.”

At the mention of her twin brother, she shifted her gaze to the training paddock. Located within equal walking distance of the home she shared with her parents and her seven siblings, her Aunt Olivia and Uncle James’ home, and her Aunt Amber and Uncle Gabriel’s home, the paddock was used by all three families. Tiege was even now training with Uncle James in the use of the blessed kamas he had been given by the elders. The sickle-like weapons gleamed white in the sun as he worked through his weapon forms under their uncle’s careful eye. A number of their older siblings and cousins were also in various stages of training with her Uncle Gabriel and Aunt Amber. The younger children would be in the classroom with Aunt Olivia at this time of day.

When she opened her mouth as a thought struck her, her father said, “And no, I won’t let you go even if Tiege is with you.”

Deflated, she now did allow her face to fall into a pout. “Fine,” she huffed. She turned to stride down the slope leading to the paddock, figuring she’d work off her irritation in a contest with her brother.

“Tate.”

She stopped and glanced back at her father. Even if he hadn’t been standing higher on the slope than she was, he was a very tall being. His sculpted Gloresti musculature combined with that height made him a very imposing figure. She had always found that comforting, however. And when he now gave her a knowing look and waved her back up the slope, she felt a layer of her irritation slide away.

Giving up, she walked over to him and allowed him to draw her into a consoling hug. He had never allowed one of his children to walk away on a harsh or angry word. Since she knew she pressed him more than any of her siblings did, she could only appreciate that.

Even if she did think he was being ridiculous and overprotective.

“I’m eager for you to find your wings, too,” he said, the sound of the words a rumble in her ear where it rested against his chest. “You’re my firstborn. I can’t wait for you to experience what it is to fly…to achieve another milestone of your existence. But it’s only a few more weeks.”

More composed now, she pulled away from the hug and caught his gaze. “I know, Dad. You’re just trying to look out for me. And I love you, too.”

This time, when she pulled away and headed toward the training paddock, he let her go.

* * *

“How did our babies suddenly get to be approaching their eighteenth birthdays?”

Caleb kept his gaze on his daughter’s retreating figure as his wife, Skye, walked up beside him and took his hand. He watched the sparkling, fluffy, knee-length skirt that Tate wore over her cargo-style pants spring up with every step, just as her multi-colored, beaded curls bounced in their high ponytail. She had the tall and curvy build of a grown female, but there were many things about her that were still achingly young.

In response to his wife’s question, he just shook his head and gave her hand a squeeze, having no answer. It did seem just yesterday that he was a neurotic mass of nerves awaiting the births of Tate and Tiege, and now here the twins were, mere weeks from learning to fly. The time had passed much too quickly, even for a being who didn’t physically age.

Tate, in particular, was growing up more quickly than he was ready for. As his firstborn child, she certainly held a special place in his heart. And her free, uninhibited spirit was so similar to her mother’s that he couldn’t help but love her all the more for it. But she worried him, too. Where her twin was content to follow the rules, she consistently bent them.

“I had the dream again.”

Now he looked down at Skye. Her light blue gaze was focused on the paddock. As usual, she wore her long, softly curling brown hair down, and it caught in the breeze, allowing the sunlight to reflect on its beautiful red and gold highlights. Her fitted, knee-length sundress was a rainbow of bright hues that formed a swirl centered right over her round belly. Their next set of twins was due in about three months. Unlike her sisters, Skye was prone to multiple births. This would be their third set of twins.

I know, he thought, knowing she would hear him with her mind since they were avowed. I had the same dream.

Upon assuming her powers on the Estilorian plane nineteen years ago, Skye had been able to dream of the future. Not everything she dreamed actually occurred, but she was accurate more often than not. After exchanging the eternally binding vows with her that avowed them, Caleb had inherited the same ability. He found it more a curse than a blessing.

Tate asked you if she could go with Quincy and Sophia, didn’t she? Skye thought.

He nodded.

Quincy was a long-time friend of their family and the Estilorian who had attended the births of the twenty children born to Skye and her sisters, Amber and Olivia. He was planning to take Olivia and James’ firstborn daughter, Sophia, outside the area of protection the following day. Because the levels of protection surrounding the three family homes had been strengthened over time as the families grew and the different powers of the children began to emerge, one of the resulting side effects was that wings could no longer be extended while within the enchanted area. Thus, when a child came of age, he or she had to be taken outside the area of protection to learn to fly.

Amber and Gabriel’s firstborn daughter, Clara Kate, had been able to bring forth her wings with ease after her eighteenth birthday four months ago. Caleb, Skye, James and Olivia had all been in attendance on that memorable day. It had been emotional for all of them.

Unfortunately, things hadn’t gone quite so well for Sophia.

The firstborn daughter of Olivia and James was…well, different. As a class, the Kynzesti—as the children of the daughters of Saraqael had come to be known—were tall and brunette with deep blue-green eyes and markings, tanned skin and well-defined musculature. While Sophia had the deep blue-green eyes and markings of her class, she was blonde and petite with an ivory skin tone, and was distinctly disinterested in physical exertion. Because, like her parents, she was highly intelligent and applied herself with diligence to anything required of her, she could certainly hold her own in combat if required. But she avoided it as much as possible and had to be forced to train.

So they probably shouldn’t have been surprised that her first attempt at flight went differently than Clara Kate’s. Unlike Clara Kate, who had extended her wings immediately with minimal guidance from her parents, Sophia had struggled. James and Olivia had shown their characteristic patience in trying to teach her, but Sophia just couldn’t do it. She had turned eighteen two months ago, and despite numerous ventures outside the area of protection, her flight efforts were thus far unsuccessful.

Quincy, who provided the prenatal care for Amber, Olivia and Skye whenever they were pregnant, proposed a solution to the problem. Since Skye and her sisters were all currently expecting again, Quincy was staying within the protected area in case any problems arose, so he was aware of the situation. And since he was a Corgloresti, he had particular insights into flight, something that required faith to accomplish. The Corgloresti class specialized in matters of faith.

He had suggested that Sophia’s ties to her family were preventing her from believing in her own abilities, a core element to successful flight. After quite a bit of debate, they had all finally decided to have Quincy take Sophia by herself outside the area of enchantment to see if it would provide her the right environment to fly.

Because secrets were all but impossible within such a close-knit family, word had quickly spread about the intent. Thus, Caleb hadn’t been very surprised when Tate approached him about going along with her cousin.

“I told her no, of course,” he said now in response to Skye’s question.

“And we’ll keep an eye on her tomorrow?”

“Of course. As always.”

Such concern when expressed by other parents might have seemed overprotective, he supposed, watching Tate join Tiege’s training session. Her blessed nunchucks whirled and winked in the light as the twins sparred. But then, most parents didn’t dream of the future.

The dream he shared with Skye had been recurring more and more regularly ever since Clara Kate had transitioned to the human plane not long after her eighteenth birthday. In the dream, Tate was alone and outside the area of protection. She was taken off-guard by an unseen attacker, grasped in a brutal grip while she was disoriented, and when she finally realized what was happening, her terror was devastating.

But it was the end of the dream that caused Caleb to wake up in a cold sweat with an agonized cry in his throat. It was what had his normally positive and cheerful wife looking sad and worried. And it was why they absolutely couldn’t let Tate have her way when it came to her request to venture out with Quincy and Sophia.

For they had both foreseen their firstborn daughter’s death.