excerpt

Teardrop Moons Weekend Teaser

Hi, everyone! It’s been a while since I posted, so I thought I’d share something fun. Here’s an excerpt from my latest work in progress, Teardrop Moons. If you’re familiar with the characters in The Call to Search Everywhen and The Song of Everywhen series, you’ll recognize this guy.

This is still a rough draft, but I’d love to read what you think in the comments below. 🙂

Still on his knees, Valcas smoothed his hands across the sand, wondering whether he’d found himself in a strange sort of nowhere.

Grains of rainbow glass had seemed to absorb all of the impact of his arrival. They formed a carpet of beauty that vaguely reminded him of the flowers covering the surface of Edgar.

The vast emptiness suggested he was not at the bottom of a world, but at its top. That, he could feel as a World Builder.

He rose from his grounding position and studied the horizon, marveling at how there was no line where the sand met the sky. His dark boots crunched through the sand.

“There is no sky,” he murmured. “No horizon.”

He considered whether he’d need to travel again to get beneath this ceiling of a world, to get inside.

The crunching of sand increased in volume and frequency as he ran in an attempt to gain momentum for traveling. This time, while forming a search for the space below him.

He ran until he was swallowed by white light.

“Impossible,” he said, waiting for the sprays of sand to clear.

He’d barely moved at all.

Bewildered, but not discouraged, he tried again. And, again. Until, finally, his foot landed in a soft pocket of sand.

Valcas roared with frustration as he fell into the world he’d tried so hard to enter.

His body made contact with the world’s springy, spongy bottom, causing him to bounce twice before stopping. Wiping grains of sand from his face, he caught his breath, and opened his eyes.

A filled-in world spread out before him. A city of pathways and buildings, molded of the same multi-colored grains. Several pyramids stood at a distance, sparkling beneath a sky that shone white and gold.

The sight would have dazzled someone not wearing dark shades.

He pulled himself from the sandpit he’d fallen into, and looked above. The hole he’d fallen through was growing back together. Wrapping and stretching until it healed like a wound.

“Silvie?” he called out. “What have you gotten yourself into this time?”

Read more about Valcas Hall’s travel talents on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and more!

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3 Days Until #DarkerStars—Excerpt!

Three. More. Days.

I can’t believe it.

Scroll down for an excerpt of the new book! I would love to hear what you think of it. Please let me know by leaving a comment.

Darker Stars Excerpt

I removed the travel glasses from my face to better see our surroundings. I couldn’t decipher any noise over the rumblings that announced our arrival. But by the time we’d finished grounding, a shriek erupted that made my skin crawl and tingle all over.

My gut reaction was to help someone who was in pain.

Javis held me back. “Silvie, no. Remember what the man in the tunic said about no one coming to visit him.”

“I know, but—”

“Let’s check it out, carefully. Maybe he’s out for a walk…” He frowned. “In the dark, with his creepy dog.”

“Then why would he be screaming?”

My question was answered a moment later when Javis and I stumbled upon the man and his dog. We’d been circling backward, staying covered behind trees and looking through them, instead of behind us. When we backed up, something caught my foot and I flew backward, landing on my butt.

The shrieking started again, only now it was directly in front of me.

Javis ran to my side and pulled me up and away from the man in the tunic who was lying on his back. He rocked back and forth and pushed at the ground with his arms, struggling to get up. His feet wobbled up and down in front of him, without bending at the knees.

Eurig, his dog, sat at his side. She turned to Javis and me, catching both of us with her glowing eyes, and whimpered.

Your earthquake made him fall. You should not have returned.

She broke eye contact with us more quickly than she had during our last visit. As soon as I regained my wits, I pulled Javis out to an open space where we could run.

“Our earthquake?” I mumbled. “She must mean the impact of our arrival.”

“Yup, let’s bail. We’ll come back at a better time, if such a thing exists.”

“Call for help, Eurig!” the man yelled. “Make sure someone catches them!”

I shuddered at the wolfish howl that followed—a deep growl that swelled an octave higher before scooping back down again.

“Okay, here,” I said, indicating an open space before us with plenty of room to gain momentum for travel.

I slipped on the travel glasses and squeezed Javis’s hand.

We made it three steps before a half dozen men wearing tunics closed in on us and pulled us to the ground. I clawed at them with my fingernails, kicking at them as they tied my hands behind my back. Pain flashed behind my eyes. They’d nearly dislocated my shoulders in the process.

Three of the men dragged me and three dragged Javis through the gate and into the house. Without the brightness of the world’s moon, it took me a moment to adjust to the lack of lighting inside the house. Flames from torches flickered along the walls, mingling with the light from above—chandeliers filled with lit candles.

The men said nothing to us the entire time, even when they dropped us on the floor in front of a chaise lounge. I wriggled my shoulders to relieve the stiffness that had set in since my hands had been tied. I looked up and scowled. The man in the tunic lifted his head from a pillow and rolled to his side, resting his weight on a propped up arm.

Eurig sat next to him, curled up in a sleeping position, her eyes closed.

Two more guards wearing tunics stood on either side of the chaise lounge. Their breath was labored. I wondered whether they’d carried the man in the tunic here while the other men dragged Javis and me.

“Thank you,” said the man in the tunic. “I have something to say to our visitors, and then you will move them to a cell.”

The men surrounding me and Javis grunted and stepped backward in a single file behind us, blocking the only exit I could find in the room.

A cell? I pulled at the binding around my hands, a material that had the silkiness of ribbon and the strength of metal.

The man in the tunic grinned at us. “My home has experienced unlikely weather conditions as of late. I felt the rumblings of an earthquake yesterday evening. Eurig and I went out for a walk this evening to be nearer, should the phenomenon repeat itself.” He grinned widely, showing us his full set of teeth. “And, sure enough, it did.”

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The Solid Rock—Blog Tour and Excerpt!

TSR Release Banner FB and Blog

I am excited to be part of this blog tour for a new Christian Western! Faith Blum joins us today to talk about her new release, The Solid Rock. It is about a talented detective with a mission to find his kidnapped colleague who finds himself working undercover with a heinous outlaw who has more plans than first meet the eye.

About the Book

3D The Solid RockJoshua woke with a quiet groan. As his senses woke up one at a time, he cracked his eyelids open. Sure enough, there was a silhouetted form standing at the foot of the bed. From the smell, the person was either from the brothel down the street or had recently left one.

He forced himself to breathe evenly and reached for the knife in his thigh holster. With as tough and evil a voice as he could imitate, he spoke, “State your intentions.”

Pinkerton detective, Joshua Brookings, is sent on a job that seems simple on the surface. His fellow detective has been kidnapped and his boss, William Pinkerton senses foul play. Joshua is sent to investigate Edward’s case in hopes of finding the kidnapped detective and helping solve the case that has taken over ten years to investigate.

Arriving in Cheyenne, Joshua finds much more than a simple kidnapping. Yet again, he must go undercover, something he made his boss promise never to make him do again. The only Christian in the outlaw group, Joshua falters and almost loses faith in God’s providence. Will he stand on the solid Rock or drown in the sinking sand? (more…)

Cora and the Nurse Dragon

Today I get to share an excerpt from a new book, as well as a giveaway, by author H. L. Burke. If that’s not enticing enough, guess what? She writes about dragons!

Cora and the Nurse Dragon is a new middle grade fantasy adventure by author H. L. Burke. It follows the adventures of Cora Harrison in a world where Dragons no longer live in nature but are a resource exploited by humans.
Ages 9 and Up.

The book releases January 31st and is available for pre-order at the special price of 99 cents.

Cora’s a young girl with two dreams: to be a dragon jockey when she grows up and to own a pet dragon now. She constantly buys “egg packs” at the dragon emporium in hopes that one will hatch into a rare pet-sized dragon, but only gets short-lived mayflies. However, when an unexpected egg does develop into something new, Cora may be over her head.

Read on to learn how to enter to win a paperback copy of the book!

Chapter Two

The Dragon Emporium

The girls stopped outside the shining windows of the Dragon Emporium. A line of little children had their faces pressed against the glass.

“Do you think they got something new in?” Abry whispered.

Cora eased forward. She was small for her age, an advantage if she did manage to become a jockey. The little kids wouldn’t move out of her way like they would for a full-sized kid, so Abry, all arms and legs, slipped through them, pulling Cora along.

On the other side of the window were cages of hatched dragons, mostly butterfly-sized mayflies. They darted about, fluttering their green wings and hovering over the fresh flowers the shop keepers gave them to feast on. A kid could buy five mayflies for a penny, making them the most popular purchases, even though they only lived for a couple of months.

Cora caught sight of what had drawn the kids’ attention: a red-scaled striker, in a tin-wire cage. It perched on a balance beam, tearing chunks of meat from a chicken leg clutched in its tiny front talons.

“Oh, he’s a beauty.” Abry’s eyes twinkled. “Imagine if you got him, then he and Neptune could play together. A striker and a steamer? So much fun.”

Cora nodded absently. Neptune was a steamer: a blue, cat-sized dragon who breathed hot water vapor. Abry’s parents had saved for months to get it for her on her tenth birthday. Cora’s dad would never be able to afford a steamer or a striker or anything but silly mayflies. Still, Abry was always coming up with schemes to save or make money so Cora could purchase her own pet. Their lemonade stand and dragon walking businesses, though, had both been dismal failures. She’d have to be satisfied with her mayflies and her father’s cat for now.

She stuck her hand in her pocket. She had a few pennies. Maybe she could buy some mayflies.

The bell gave a cheerful ding as she stepped in. The shopkeeper wore a pinstriped vest and crisp white sleeves with red garters. He leaned over the counter, showing a collection of egg boxes to a young man with greased back brown hair wearing a blue sailor suit. Cora winced.

Xavian.

Though close to her age, Xavian didn’t go to her school. Most of the year he was traveling with his mother, private tutors, piano instructors, and bootlickers–all the entourage of a tycoon’s only son. When he was home, however, he loved to follow her around and point out that his father was her father’s boss. She ducked behind a display of dragon eggs and pretended not to see him.

The shop bell rang again. Cora dared to peek out and wave Abry over.

Abry’s nose wrinkled. “What’s Xavian doing here? His daddy buys him everything he wants.”

“Who knows?” Cora shrugged. Do kids like Xavian even have pocket money? Or do they just take what they want and tell people to send the bill to their mansions?

Abry picked a box off the display. Like all the others, it was made of balsa wood with a window on top allowing customers a glimpse of the eggs. All dragon eggs were essentially the same, pearly white and perfectly round, about the size of marbles, the bowler type, not the little ones. However, in these packages they came wrapped in shiny, colored foil, like a box of bonbons. It was both pretty and functional, because it kept the eggs from hatching prematurely. Eggs wouldn’t hatch until exposed to light. In darkness, they could be stored for months.

Cora fingered the price tag: 15 cents. She bit her lip. It was reachable, if she saved up for a month or so, but in her experience, eggs only hatched into mayflies. Every so often, someone found a striker or a sparker egg in their kit, but it was pretty rare. She could buy seventy-five mayflies for the same price as this kit of two dozen eggs.

Slipping the kit back onto the shelf, Cora retreated to the window. A child and his mother were the only observers on this side of the glass. Another salesman lingered at her elbow. The mother had a cameo necklace and glittering rhinestone earrings. Her t-strapped shoes gleamed in the store lights.

For fear of attracting attention, either from Xavian or a salesman, Cora hung back.

“I’m not really sure Geoffrey is old enough for such a demanding pet.” The mother tilted her head to one side. “Do they make much of a mess?”

“Not at all. Less so than birds or puppies. Would you like to hold him, Geoffrey?” The salesman reached for the cage door, and Cora’s stomach tightened in jealousy.

She turned away. Maybe she would buy a kit. The six egg kits were only a nickel. Fishing in her pocket, she found four cents. A penny short.

“If you need a little more, I have a dime.” Abry held up the shiny coin. “I was going to save up for a big kit, but if we raise a small kit together, it’ll be much more fun.”

Cora shook her head. She couldn’t let Abry do that. “I have enough mayflies for now. That’s all they ever hatch into anyway.”

She wandered down the back aisle to where the various dragon-care items were kept: large glass terrariums for mayflies, wire-cages for cat-sized ones, and even harnesses for those lucky kids whose parents could afford to buy them racers–like Xavian.

Abry fingered a leather collar. “I don’t think Neptune likes collars. I used to walk him on a ribbon; he always twisted it and made a fuss.”

Cora eyed the door. “Do you think we can slip out without Xavian noticing?”

“He seems pretty wrapped up in whatever he’s buying … probably the whole store.” Abry sniffed. The girls started forward.

“That’ll be all, Master Algernon?” the clerk asked, handing a white paper package to Xavian. Cora couldn’t help it, she paused to see what he’d bought.

“Yes. Just the collar.” The boy tucked it under his arm and turned. His eyes met Cora’s, and her face burned.

Great, he caught me looking. Next thing he’ll think I’m jealous of his stupid money.

He smirked, taking a step towards her. She made for the door.

“Wait!” the clerk called out.

The girls froze and glanced back.

The clerk stepped around the counter and held out a small box to Xavian. “Free with every purchase. A starter pack of dragon eggs.”

Xavian crossed his arms and sneered. “I don’t need a silly starter pack.”

The clerk cleared his throat then glanced up at the girls. “Well, it’s free. If you don’t want it, maybe the young ladies will.”

Cora’s heart quickened. She tried not to look too eager, not to look at the tiny box in the clerk’s hand at all. How many eggs in a starter pack? Six? Probably all mayflies but always a chance, however small, at something more.

Xavian snatched the pack from the clerk’s hand and pushed his way past the girls. The door clanged shut behind him.

Abry huffed. “Didn’t the little beast’s mother teach him to hold the door for ladies?”

“Who needs manners when you have money?” the clerk said. He returned to his place behind the counter.

Abry sniffed. “Come on, Cor. Let’s get home.”

***

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

She is the author of a four part fantasy/romance series entitled “The Scholar and the Dragon”, featuring the books Dragon’s Curse, Dragon’s Debt, Dragon’s Rival, and Dragon’s Bride as well as the YA/Fantasy Beggar Magic. Her current projects are a young adult steampunk fantasy and an epic fantasy trilogy.

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