#ExcerptWeek – Gateway to Magic by Annabelle Franklin @Anabel1Franklin

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Children’s Fantasy writer, Annabelle Franklin, is our guest today. Welcome to #ExcerptWeek, Annabelle. The floor is yours!

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GATEWAY TO MAGIC: The story of a gaming fanatic trapped in Fairyland where technology is banned by law!

Steven Topcliff hates Fairyland – there are no video games, no chicken nuggets and no one tells the truth. He has to deal with spiteful cousin Tracy, who goads him into activating the interdimensional gateway, Nigel the Nuisance, an out-of-control shapeshifter who insists on being his best mate, and the diva-like Fairy Queen who embroils him in some mysterious game of her own. His only chance of escape is to use magic to forge a gateway back to Earth.

There’s no controlling this dimension with a console – Steven must use his own ingenuity to survive and get himself home. But can he believe in himself enough to do it?

Excerpt

Close up, the stone looked more like solidified fungus than rock, and the red plastic button seemed out of place on top of it. The whole thing had a feeling of wrongness, as if it didn’t belong there. The smell in the clearing had got much worse; it really was a dogs’ toilet.

Steven crouched down so he could read the words on the front of the stone:

DO NOT PRESS THIS BUTTON

‘There, we’ve looked,’ he said. ‘It’s just an ordinary stone with a plastic button on it.’

Tracy rolled her eyes. ‘Do ordinary stones usually have plastic buttons on them?’

‘They do if they’re bits of scenery left over from a TV show.’

Tracy crouched next to him. ‘Press it, then.’

‘What?’

‘Press the button and see what happens.’

Steven didn’t move. He felt hot, tired and sick; all his senses were telling him to run for his life, but his feet seemed to be glued to the ground.

‘There’s no need to be scared,’ Tracy went on. ‘If it’s just a bit of old scenery, like you say, nothing will happen, will it?’

That word again. ‘You’re the one who’s scared,’ he said. ‘Otherwise you’d press it yourself. You’re scared to press it, because it tells you not to.’

‘There’s no point me pressing it. You can only go to Fairyland once, and I’ve been already.’ She stood up and brushed leaf mould off her hands. ‘Anyway, it only tells you not to press it so you will.’

‘What?’ He turned his head to look at her. ‘That doesn’t make sense.’

‘Yes it does. It’s like those signs that tell you not to walk on the grass – you just want to do it all the more.’

She had a point.

‘I wish I could go back,’ she sighed. ‘Fairyland is awesome! It’s not the girly sort of place you read about in the kiddy books; it’s so wonderful and exciting, I can’t even describe it.’

‘You can’t describe it because you haven’t been there.’

Tracy crouched down next to him again. ‘Just think, Steven,’ she said softly. ‘If you went there, you wouldn’t be around when the holidays are over. You wouldn’t have to go to that horrid big school you’re so scared of.’

Steven felt like she’d punched him in the stomach. ‘How did you – ’ he began, then caught himself. ‘I’m not scared of going to Comp!’

‘Oh yes you are,’ the soft voice went on. ‘There’s so much to be scared of, isn’t there? Strict teachers and harsh punishments. Being late for lessons because you can’t find your way around all those corridors. Tonnes of homework. And worst of all, the bullies. Big boys and girls, flushing your head down the toilet in break and waiting for you outside the gates after school. Kids with knives – ’

‘Shut up,’ hissed Steven. ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’

Tracy just kept smiling smugly, and at that moment Steven hated her more than he’d ever hated anyone in his life. He didn’t want to think about Comp; with the whole summer stretching before him, he’d managed to put it out of his mind, and that was where he wanted it to stay.

But Tracy had other ideas. ‘Let’s face it, you won’t stand a chance. You’re exactly the sort of boy that bullies love to pick on.’ She put on a mocking baby-voice. ‘A mummy’s boy who never goes out of the house, who’s too scared to press an itty-bitty little red button.’Steven felt like he was going to explode. He wanted to punch Tracy on the nose; but he wasn’t the sort of boy who hit girls, so he punched the stone instead.

Right on the red button.

Annabelle Franklin lives on South Wales’s stunning and magical South Gower coast, sharing her chalet home with two rescued sighthounds. As well as two children’s novels, Gateway to Magic and The Slapstyx, she has written a short story Mercy Dog which appears in Unforgotten (Accent Press), an award-winning anthology themed around WW1. Another short story Haunted by the Future will feature in Dark Gathering, a horror anthology due for publication later in 2016.

Annabelle loves humour, hates housework and believes magic should be on the school curriculum. She is currently working on a series of supernatural stories for children.

Where to Buy

Gateway to Magic on Amazon http://myBook.to/Gateway2Magic
Smashwords http://bit.ly/1j3wjfw
Apple http://apple.co/1Q3NrjX
Kobo http://bit.ly/1UW13fe
Nook http://bit.ly/1K6IkNE

Connect with Annabelle:

Blog http://annabellefranklinauthor.wordpress.com/about
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Annabelle-Franklin-Author/1474449249481609
Twitter https://twitter.com/Anabel1Franklin
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6904737.Annabelle_Franklin
Email ankhana2000@yahoo.com

 

 

#SALE #0.99c – THE PRINCE’S MAN by Deborah Jay #fantasy

ON SALE – PLEASE SHARE

In celebration of the imminent release of Book 2 in THE FIVE KINGDOMS series, Book #1, THE PRINCE’S MAN is on sale for 0.99c until Tuesday.

If you haven’t yet read it, now is your chance, and if you know any fantasy fans, please share.

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Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings – a sweeping tale of spies and deadly politics, inter-species mistrust and magic phobia, with an underlying thread of romance.

Rustam Chalice, dance tutor, gigolo and spy, loves his life, so when the kingdom he serves is threatened from within, he leaps into action. Only trouble is, the spy master teams him up with an untouchable, beautiful aristocratic assassin who despises him.

Plunged into a desperate journey over the mountains, the mismatched pair struggle to survive deadly wildlife, the machinations of a spiteful god – and each other.

They must also keep alive a sickly elf they need as a political pawn. But when the elf reveals that Rustam has magic of his own, he is forced to question his identity, his sanity and worst, his loyalty to his prince.

For in Tyr-en, all magic users are put to death

Excerpt

“Remove your hand, Chalice,” Risada hissed, “unless you want to lose it.” Continue reading

#SALE #$0.99 this week – DESPRITE MEASURES, a Caledonian Sprite novel by Deborah Jay #UrbanFantasy

Following a fabulous Excerpt Week (thanks Marcia), I have my urban fantasy DESPRITE MEASURES on sale for one week at $0.99/£0.99 (US & UK only, sorry folks) starting NOW, in case anyone would care to dip their toe into my fantastical world of elementals and magical happenings.

You can read the excerpt I shared  here and you can find the book on Amazon here

Please share!

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#ExcerptWeek – THE PRINCE’S SON by Deborah Jay

Marcia, your wish is my command…..

Here is another excerpt from the book I am currently editing – THE PRINCE’S SON, sequel to THE PRINCE’S MAN.

* * * * * *

Bay Iberian

When Rustam gave a small whistle, the bay stallion ghosted out of the early morning shadows.

Rustam ran a hand along the stallion’s muscular crest, his fingers sliding through the cascade of black mane to the warm sleekness of the silky hair beneath. “I really hate to do this, boy, but you’ll have to stay behind this time.”

A pair of huge, dark eyes regarded Rustam with reproach before Fleetfoot shook his head vigorously, long strands of mane whipping from side to side to slap Rustam sharply across the face. “Ouch! I’m sorry, really I am, but even you can’t climb a goat trail; I need you here, to keep the others safe. They can’t look after themselves the way you can.”

Fleetfoot heaved a large sigh and rubbed his forehead against Rustam’s shoulder. Leaning into the equine embrace, Rustam caught sight of one of the grooms rolling his eyes to the sky. Crazy, that’s what they thought he was. He smiled privately and kept his silence. It wasn’t their fault they couldn’t see the tiny bit of magic flowing between him and the magnificent animal. When the lads talked to their charges they communicated with tone of voice and a few easy words, achieving a level of trust and affection any human might gain with a horse. But for Rustam’s entire life it had been so much more than that. The ease with which, even as a child, he’d been able to catch the naughtiest ponies; the calmness he’d instilled in the wild black mare no one else could handle, and the way that over the years of their service together Nightstalker had always sensed where he was, and when she was needed.

It wasn’t until they journeyed into Shiva that Rustam understood it to be an attribute of his elven blood; he was a Horsemaster in more than mere words. Now, with a Shivan bred steed, that link was even closer.

“You know they think I’m soft in the head for talking to you, don’t you?” Fleetfoot snorted; horsey laughter if ever Rustam had heard it. He slapped the hard-muscled red shoulder. “It’s not funny!” He shook his head, drawing the dark thread of his thoughts back together. “No, nothing about this is funny.”

He stared into the liquid depths of eyes turned wary. “I need you to keep this lot safe, hear me? I don’t know how long we’ll be gone, or if you’ll be secure here. Watch over them, for me, yes?”

Fleetfoot snorted again, head nodding up and down. Rustam draped an arm over the stallion’s withers and bent forward to bury his face in the abundant mane. With his eyes shut, he inhaled the glorious scent of horse, and felt his muscles relax. He was leaving the caravan with the best possible guard he could arrange, in the absence of a small army.

* * * * * *

For those of you who have read THE PRINCE’S MANrsz_pm-ebook_flat_2 never fear, Nightstalker is only absent on maternity leave 😉

CIMG2427And here I am with another hobbit hole 😉

Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.

Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she can find time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many dressage horses, and her complete inability to cook.

Jay’s debut novel, epic fantasy THE PRINCE’S MAN, won a UK Arts Board award, and was an Amazon Hot 100 New Release. Second in the series, THE PRINCE’S SON is due out this summer.

Her Urban fantasy, DESPRITE MEASURES, is the opening novel of the projected five book CALEDONIAN SPRITE SERIES, and the stand alone short story SPRITE NIGHT is also now available.

In 2014 she published the multi-author SFF anthology, THE WORLD AND THE STARS, which features her SF short story PERFECT FIT.

She is also the author of several non-fiction equestrian titles published in her professional name of Debby Lush.

Find out more about Deborah at http://deborahjayauthor.com/ or follow Deborah on twitter, facebook, Pinterest  and Goodreads.

#ExcerptWeek & #giveaway – DESPRITE MEASURES, #UrbanFantasy by Deborah Jay

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DESPRITE MEASURES – a Caledonian Sprite Novel

Genre: Urban Fantasy

DESPRITE MEASURES (yes, you read that right) is the tale of a Scottish water sprite who’s quiet life is jeopardised by a magician intent on using her natural powers to fuel his dangerous experiments in energy production.

A reviewer recently described it as ‘an eco-urban fantasy’ which sums it up pretty well.

Excerpt

The drive into town seemed to take forever.

In truth, it took no longer than any other time, but I was impatient. I’d chosen the Audi Quattro this time—no point making things easy for Liam—and I was frustrated that I could not use all the power the sleek little beauty offered me. Every driver who delayed me by even a fraction of a second had me fuming at the wheel. By the time I turned into the club’s paved driveway, I was as near boiling point as it is prudent for a sprite to reach. A discreet parking attendant, whom I suspected doubled as a bouncer, pointed me to an empty bay, and then directed me to the head of the stairs leading down to the basement club. Not wanting to arrive looking flustered, I paused to gather myself.

Hair still caught in pony tail band. Check. Dress neckline showing equal expanse of skin either side of cleavage. Check. Hem straight and not quite riding high enough to show that I hadn’t wasted mass on fashioning underwear. Check.

Ready to go, I stepped one well-shod foot onto the first step down. And froze. Involuntarily, my body ceased to function. My mind blanked and a chill of fear iced my veins. I gazed numbly at the slender, dark figure lurking at the base of the stairs until he glanced away, freeing me, permitting life to return to the lifeless.

My paralysed brain shot back to working order. Recognition of the figure chilled me all over. Vampire.

Not something you see every day in downtown Inverness, but I’d encountered enough of them in the distant past to know one when I saw one. And to know the horror of being trapped by their gaze, unable to move or even to think.

This one, darkly handsome and with more than a passing resemblance to a youthful Bryan Ferry with his ever-present hint of a sneer, glanced at me again but without interest. Vampires prefer their blood more full bodied than the pseudo-stuff that runs through my counterfeit veins.

Somewhat troubled at finding his sort here, I was, however, still determined to continue with my evening’s plans. I descended, brushing past the cold figure in his immaculate Armani suit. A body-wracking shiver ran down my spine, even though I knew I was in no danger from him.

I wondered what he was doing here. Perhaps it was simply a good place for him to get a carry-out meal.

Find it on Amazon

FREE to Amazon Prime members and on Kindle Unlimited

hobbit hole Author Deborah Jay, seen here posing with her own hobbit hole, can be found at:

http://deborahjayauthor.com/

https://twitter.com/DeborahJay2

https://www.facebook.com/DeborahJay

http://www.pinterest.com/debbylush/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172608.Deborah_Jay

Amazon author page: http://viewAuthor.at/DeborahJay

For your chance to WIN an ebook copy of DESPRITE MEASURES, or one of 5 ecopies of the short story SPRITE NIGHT you can enter the contest today or tomorrow:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway
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What makes a book a bestseller?

teasersquare600After two years of pounding the keyboard and putting out indie fiction, I finally hit what I consider a bestseller. Half Wolf had 6,000 combined sales and borrows during its first three months of life, and the sequel seems to be enjoying even better reviews (and, hopefully, sales).

While my figures still don’t hold a candle to those of some authors, I thought it would be worth mentioning what I did differently in case you want to follow suit. Here’s a quick rundown in what went into my bestseller.

  1. Studied the genre harder. I read widely and often and write what I love to read. That said, I noticed repeated criticisms of my Wolf Rampant series surrounding lack of sex and action scenes. At first, I turned up my nose and said, “Hmmph! That’s what makes me an indie author — I can write what I want!” But then I decided to give it a whirl. And I have to admit I feel like the resulting book was more powerful for the inclusions (even though those component are still below average on a modern chart).
  2. Paid for an amazing cover. I have basic photoshop skills and thought I could make my own covers…and I did manage to make passable ones. Then I upgraded to hiring a cover artist…and was amazed at the difference in sales. Rebecca Frank is, unfortunately, now booked months in advance and no longer accepting new clients. However, I highly recommend shopping around and paying for a top-notch cover to match your top-notch book, hitting all of the same genre buttons to signal exactly what’s inside.
  3. Workshopped my blurb to death. Seriously, I think about ten people helped me make approximately 100 revisions on my blurb. Even before that, I studied the blurbs of the bestsellers in my genre, noting word count and other factors. Overall, I spent nearly a week on the project! But the result is tight and humming with life and it sells books.
  4. Launched with forethought. A lot more goes into a sticky launch than just telling your fans and waiting for the sales to roll in. If you haven’t read it, I recommend Chris Fox’s Launch to Market as a primer. I used a spreadsheet and every bit of social capital I’d built up in recent months on my launch and it was very much worth it.

I hope that gives you some ideas for pushing your next book into the stratosphere! And, if you’re curious, Half Wolf will be free Saturday and Lone Wolf Dawn is already marked down to 99 cents for launch week. Feel free to lurk and see whether my second launch does as well as the first.

#WednesdayPOV What’s In a Name? #wwwblogs

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Fitzchivalry Farseer
A name and a character I can love!

Having come to epic fantasy reading very late in life (like in the past two years), I probably have no right to issue complaints or requests, however, that’s never stopped me before. And I am issuing both. I’ll start with the request. You fantasy writers out there, please . . . I beseech you in the name of every god and goddess on your wonderfully creative worlds . . . have mercy on your readers. Please stop using names for your characters that can’t be pronounced by the human tongue.

I think it’s James Scott Bell who warns writers against filling their books with “speed bumps” that slow readers down, and I promise you that giving your hero a name that starts with three consequetive consonants is a speed bump of major proportions. Every single time I come to a line featuring something that Sir Hrvetrkzll is involved in, I will slam on the brakes and try to pronounce his name in my head. It pulls me right out of the story, without fail. And like a Sunday driver out for a ride in the country, enough speed bumps in a row will send me home again, too frustrated to continue the effort.

I do realize that your dragon-slaying knight of the realm would sound silly with a normal, guy next door name like Fred. And his damsel in distress probably needs something jazzier than the equally girl next door name of Sally. Sir Fred and Lady Sally just don’t cut it. But imaginative names don’t have to be unpronouncable, do they? Perhaps they could be combinations of words, like Trollslayer or Flamingaxe, or even a series of words like He Who Whistles Dixie. I can read those without slamming on brakes.

Or they could be variations of names we’re already familiar with. Peeta and Katniss come to mind. This type would be more the way Robin Hobb went in her Farseer and Liveship Traders books. Names like Wintrop, Chade, Fitzchivalry, Brashen, and Malta are easy to pronounce, yet memorable in that they aren’t likely to be the names of anyone you’ve ever met. The habit of Hobb’s royal family in Bucktown naming their children after traits they admire is fun, too, resulting in characters named Chivalry, Regal, Shrewd, and Verity, for example. You get my drift, here, I’m sure.

And now my complaint. A name that sounds more like a sneeze than a word is no fun, and I wish fantasy writers, as much as I love them all,  wouldn’t hurt my brain with such.  Kvothe the raven, “Nevermore.”

 

#ExcerptWeek & Blurb – THE PRINCE’S SON by Deborah Jay

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Those of you who follow my blog have already seen this blurb, but for those who haven’t, this is the back cover copy for my soon-to-be released sequel to THE PRINCE’S MAN (epic fantasy).

THE PRINCE’S SON

Nessa Haddo has been raised to pursue what every young noblewoman needs: a suitable husband. Unfortunately for her, as a younger twin, her prospects are limited. Things start to look up when she lays eyes on the handsome foreign envoy sent to escort her sister to an arranged marriage, but her romantic fantasies quickly entangle her in events beyond her darkest nightmares.

Compared to his last mission, ex-spy Rustam Chalice’s new assignment sounds simple: wrangle an unwieldy bridal caravan across a mountain range populated by bandits, trolls, werecats and worse, try to cajole a traumatized princess out of her self-imposed isolation, and arrive on time for the politically sensitive wedding. What could possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile, Lady Risada—the woman who haunts Rustam’s dreams—is struggling to adjust to a normal life. All her carefully honed assassin’s instincts scream warnings of foul play, yet she can find nothing obviously amiss.

And deep in the halls of a mountain clan, an old enemy plucks his victim’s strings with expert malice.

Excerpt

Something moved beyond the picket line.

Nessa froze. Her heart stopped beating, and then thudded so loudly she was certain whoever was there must hear it. Surely it had to be one of their party slipping away to relieve themselves? It could not be either Rustam or Sala unless they had circled around beyond the horses, and why would they?

She stumbled an involuntary step back, gave a little cry as metal dug into her back, then realised she was pressed up against one of the ribs of the wagon.

The shadowy figure stopped, appeared to be sniffing the air.

That made up her mind. No human scented like that. She did not know what it was, but it wasn’t one of them. Continue reading

#MidWeekPOV #wwwblogs Recharging Creativity

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Ever sit down to write and discover your creativity has closed up shop for the day? Oh, I don’t mean the so-called writer’s block, wherein you don’t know what to write next. I’m thinking more in terms of knowing exactly what you want to write, but the words showing up in front of you are looking really tired and uninspired. Maybe that IS a type of writer’s block, but whatever you call it, it’s darn annoying. Especially when you’re on a deadline, and you’re already running behind.

What do you do? How do you recharge and forge ahead, happy with your day’s writing again?

I have several old standbys that usually seem to work. I find great comfort in my garden. My backyard was a large, empty canvas when we moved into this house twelve years ago. Thanks to my husband’s beautiful brick pathways, it is now a series of patios and beds, with nary a blade of boring (to me) green grass anywhere.  Two years ago, before I started to spend every waking minute writing, it was really very pretty. Roses, salvias, honeysuckle, jasmine, and hanging baskets full of color were everywhere. Now, it’s a disaster, but I find cleaning it up and restoring it still works wonders for my creative renewal.

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My garden, BEFORE I decided to become a writer!

Getting out on the St.  Johns River is always good for my soul, too, and restores some equilibrium when my days have gotten out of control, and my brain feels fried. These days, I’m more apt to go out on the Naiad, the eco-tour boat that was my inspiration for the Undine, in Swamp Ghosts, rather than in my own canoe. (Old back, new pains.) But a boat ride with Captain Jeanne Bell, and her photographer husband, Doug Little, goes a long way towards sorting out my head.

boat on tourThe Naiad, plying the waters of the St. Johns River

And last, but by NO means least, I read. Losing myself in someone else’s fictional world is still my very best escape, and always will be, I expect. And the more complicated the real world gets, the more fantasy I lose myself in. For the first time in my life, I find myself moving past even URBAN fantasy, and into the epic stuff. I’ve been reading Brandon Sanderson and Robin Hobb for the last year, having decided magic in other worlds is just what my heart needs at the moment. And dragons, of course. Who knew how much I’d love them? I’m currently in the midst of reading our own Deborah Jay’s The Prince’s Man. Yep, fantasy is a great way to think about things far removed from the day’s headlines.

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Escaping into fantasy, and loving it!

I’m leaving shortly to do lunch with a new friend, which is in itself, another way to restore humor and sanity to my life. But, before I go, I wanted to ask what you folks do when your creativity gets sluggish? How do you recharge? Your turn! Come on, tell us. Inquiring minds wanna know.

#Excerpt week – USURPER’S LEGACY (The Prince’s Son) – Deborah Jay #Fantasy

USURPER’S LEGACY (The Prince’s Son)

A little longer than my usual excerpts, this is the prologue from my nearly complete (yay!) sequel to THE PRINCE’S MAN, and tells the climax of the first book from a very different viewpoint…

* * * * * * * *

Hungry flames invaded the garlands festooning the roof beams of the palace’s Great Hall. Tiny specks of gold darted in and out of the greenery, setting new fires wherever they touched; miniature dragons with flickering wings—salamanders.

Forbidden magic.

Another cluster of berries exploded, raining hot juices down upon the heads of the panicked crowd. Mykel Dench braced himself as a horde of finely-dressed nobles stampeded towards him. On the raised dais at the front of the hall he could see his master, Hensar, the pretender to the throne, grappling with the loyalist spy, Lady Risada Delgano vas Domn. The stench of burning greenery, the cacophony of screams and clatter of tumbling chairs all faded into insignificance for Mykel when Lady Risada slit Hensar’s throat.

Mykel shrieked his fury but his voice vanished into the crowd. Rage lent him strength and he ploughed into the oncoming mob, swinging the pommel of his sword like a club, not caring if he cracked a bone or three, or sliced the odd gobbet of flesh. He’d worked too hard for this moment; for the downfall of the royal family and their spymaster, Prince Halnashead.

His master might be dead, but Mykel would see Prince Halnashead dead too. And that bitch Risada. Continue reading