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Cheesy Fantasy Movies, Part 1

bruceblake:

Great post from Steven Montano. What are your favourite cheesy fantasy movies?

Originally posted on Guild Of Dreams:

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is pretty awesome.  Game of Thrones, perhaps even better.  For fans of epic fantasy, these efforts represent the culmination of what we love about the genre, everything that pulls us in whenever we pick up a new novel or sit down to play Dungeons & Dragons with our friends — the drama, the politics, the darkness, the sense of danger and wonder and excitement and the discovery of worlds that can only exist in the imagination.

But not every effort to bring epic fantasy to the screen have been nearly so successful.  In fact, it’s safe to say that most of them were pretty awful…and yet we love them anyway.

It’s hard to say why epic fantasy translates so poorly to film, but it seems that much of what feels so sweeping and serious in the personalized experience of reading a novel comes across as a bit…

View original 679 more words

Building a Story

bruceblake:

For those of you who may not follow the Guild of Dreams blog, here’s my latest post in which I’m dabbling with a horror short story. Let me know what you think.

Originally posted on Guild Of Dreams:

by Bruce Blake

—–

A pleasant thing happened to me the other day…one of those things that all writers have experienced, but want to have happen more frequently.

A story began to form in my head.

'Prospector' by ToOliver2 courtesy of Creative Commons

‘Prospector’ by ToOliver2 courtesy of Creative Commons

It came out of no where, opening before me like a rolled carpet careening down a hill. It was only a few lines to begin with, but the more I turned them over in my head, inspecting them  with the keen eye of a prospector determining the value of a nugget, the more it stuck, grew, developed.

This is how it started in my head:

It was Friday, April 13th the day they locked the door; none of us knew when it would open again. If it ever would.

I liked it. Two quick sentences to set up some questions in the reader’s head–who was being locked…

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Urban Fantasy Sale and Giveaway!!

We’ve come to the doldrums of the year…Christmas is long done and summer is too far away. How’s an intelligent man or woman supposed to pass the time? Watch reality TV? Invent role-playing games for you and your cat?

If these and other inane activities don’t work for you, then jump into I Read Fantasy’s Urban Fantasy Sale and Giveaway! From Feb. 20-22, pick up some great reads for cheap to pass the time and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card!

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CHECK OUT THESE GREAT TITLES

OUW-FULL

ON UNFAITHFUL WINGS
by Bruce Blake
Amazon

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THE HERETIC
By Joseph Nassise
Amazon
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REST FOR THE WICKED
by Cate Dean
Amazon
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THE NECROMANCER'S GAMBIT by Nicolas Wilson Amazon Nook

THE NECROMANCER’S GAMBIT
by Nicolas Wilson
Amazon
Nook

IMMORTAL LIES by S.L Gray Amazon Nook

IMMORTAL LIES
by S.L Gray
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INSIDE EVIL by G. Wakeling Amazon Nook

INSIDE EVIL
by G. Wakeling
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TORN & SEDUCED by J.E. & M. Keep Amazon Nook

TORN & SEDUCED
by J.E. & M. Keep
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Oh…and did I mention the opportunity to score a $100 Amazon gift card? Click the link for your chance to win:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY READING!!

The Blog Tour Stops Here!

A little while back, the Guild of Dreams hosted a cover reveal for Steven Montano’s next book in his fantastic Skullborn Trilogy, and I know you’ve been  holding your breath ever since. Probably your palms have been sweaty with anticipation and you’ve been logging into your Amazon account every couple of hours to see if Path of Bones has gone live yet.

Great news…the wait is over.

Before you scroll down to the purchase links, here’s  a little something to whet your appetite!

—–

 

Path of Bones

Return to the world of Malzaria in the highly anticipated sequel to the best-selling epic fantasy adventure City of Scars.

Hunted by Empires and crime lords alike, Ijanna Taivorkan and the young warrior Kath Cardrezhej make their north through the dire Bonelands, a twisted wastelands populated by unnatural terrors. Hoping to find the answers to her dark destiny and driven by a need to escape her fate, Ijanna won’t rest until she locates the last of the Skullborn.

Azander Dane, fallen Dawn Knight, pursues Ijanna in order to help her as a way for making amends for the crimes of his past. Aided by an exiled giant and gripped by a magical disease that is slowly driving him mad, Dane must brave the dangers of the Phage-controlled city of Kaldrak Iyresin order to reach the Dream Witch in time.

Beset at every turn by evil magic, powerful assassins and dark revelations, Dane and Ijanna will ultimately find themselves in the ruined city of Corinth, where ancient artifacts may hold the key to the world’s salavation…or to its untimely doom.

path_of_bones (1) (1)

FROM CHAPTER 6

They made their journey in near silence.

Ijanna had never beheld a place so tainted and foul. The wind-blasted ruins of Gallador were dead lands, a black waste of dust and pestilence.

Steel clouds filled the sky like lost ships. Ijanna and Kath moved away from the River Black to avoid pirate vessels sailing out of Kaldrak Iyres, and traveled north along the eastern edge of the Razortooth. Dense black forests covered the mountains like fields of shadow.

Memory of what she’d lost turned her blood to ice, but Ijanna buried her fear and carried on.

The land was rough and bleak, all jagged hills and fields of razored thorns. They saw the ruined remnants of burned out buildings, and the few inhabited structures they came across were old forts or shanties used by refugees or slavers. They were deep in lawless territory, and Ijanna made clear to Kath there was only one rule in the Bonelands – stay alive, no matter the cost.

It was near dusk. The sky was muted orange and filled with ribbons of cloud. Everything glowed red as the sun set behind the knife-like peaks. There were few trails, but at least there was cover. Ijanna’s legs had started to cramp, but she wanted to make more progress before they had to camp for the night. The air smelled of something dead, and the black wind whistled like the voice of a dying man.

Kath, for his part, had been stoic and tight-lipped for the duration of their week-long journey across the unpleasant steppes, hacking his way through brambles that twisted like blades across the foothills. They’d be able to see Kaldrak Iyres within another day or two, but Ijanna had no intention of actually going there. She had enemies in the city, even more there than in Ebonmark, but avoiding it presented them with a problem, which Kath pointed out on those few occasions when he spoke to her: food in the region was scarce, and they’d soon need more of it. Bloodspeakers didn’t have the ability to conjure nourishment the way a Veilwarden could, and since there was little game to be found Ijanna couldn’t even use charms of beguiling to slow a deer or hawk down long enough for them to hunt game.

Voicing concern over their provisions was really the only conversation Kath had offered since leaving Ebonmark. Ijanna didn’t blame him – she’d taken him from his world and his family, all for a purpose he didn’t believe in and couldn’t understand.

How can he, when I hardly understand it myself?

She wanted to talk to him, to try and comfort him, but she didn’t know where to start. His mother had been stolen away from his family in much the same way that Ijanna had stolen him, and though she hated herself for it there was little she could do. The Veil had bonded them the moment Ijanna used her magic to heal Kath of the magical plague Serpentheart, and to deny him his Veil-driven purpose to protect her would kill him.

But it doesn’t have to be a death sentence, she thought. Talk to him. But every time she tried he just grunted and made clear he wasn’t interested in what she had to say.

So they pressed on, awkward and silent. They walked and camped and scanned their surroundings for any sign of enemies or pursuit, but there was rarely anything living in sight. The few pirates or scavengers they’d viewed had all been from afar, and aside from an occasional hawk or vole they hadn’t even seen any wildlife. Even insects seemed to avoid the Bonelands.

After another hour spent walking across uneven stones and climbing through brush Ijanna was thoroughly exhausted. Since Kath always followed her lead she tried to make good time, rising early and marching for as long as they could. She didn’t know what else to do. Direction had been burned into her mind since she was young, and her desire to find the other Skullborn – and possibly the answers to her questions about avoiding her suicidal destiny – had been reinforced by the thar’koon, those bizarre twin blades which guided her into the heart of the Bonelands. She felt close, so close, to escaping the fate foreseen by the mystics of Allaj Mohrter. They told her she’d heal the world through her sacrifice, and that the only way to prevent a terrible cataclysm was to end her own life and resurrect the Blood Queen. It was a well-guarded secret she imagined would be enough to bring the Empires of Jlantria and Den’nar to the walls of Allaj Mohrter looking for war if it ever got out.

Ijanna couldn’t accept that fate.

Who could?

And yet that path felt right. It was difficult to doubt its validity, what with all of the signs, the prophecies and portents that had been shown to her time and again, the evidence of her power, the dreams, and the many forces who wanted to get their hands on her. She felt guilty for wanting to find another path for herself, guilty that many had already died in her attempts to elude her destiny, but she’d come too far to stop now.

She had to believe there was some way to be free of her curse. She was one of the most powerful Bloodspeakers to have ever lived, and unlike others of her kind she had a limitless reservoir of power. She would never wonder how many minutes of her life she’d just burned away creating some charm or illusion, never regret those spent seconds as she grew older, wondering what piece of magic she could have avoided just to give herself more time.

I have my own prison, she thought bitterly. I have a freedom no Bloodspeaker will ever know, yet it doesn’t matter, because in the end I’ll die just like the rest.

A sense of dread weighed heavy on her soul even now that she finally had the means to track down the last of her kind. What if Kala had no more information than she herself did? In many ways this gambit felt like it was her last hope. Ijanna had already tracked down the other Skullborn, and as a reward for her diligence she’d made a deadly enemy. If Kala couldn’t help her, all of Ijanna’s efforts would have been in vain.

But would that be so horrible? she asked herself. There are worse deaths than sacrificing yourself for the greater good. People die by the hundreds every day, murdered, starving, diseased. Your death would have purpose. Meaning.

It didn’t make her feel any better. Ijanna went to sleep every night in the grip of fear. Her nerves were frayed, and it wasn’t just because of the dangers of their surroundings or her desperate hope that Kath would survive his servitude.

Before long she’d finally have to accept the inevitable. She’d have to accept her fate.

I can’t. I’m not ready.

—–

E-Book: $4.99

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I8XK7K4

Print Edition: $13.99

Check out the page on Goodreads!

And in case you missed the first book in the trilogy…

City of Scars (Skullborn Trilogy #1)

It’s been three decades since the Blood Queen led her legions on a brutal campaign of conquest and destruction, and the Empires are still struggling to rebuild. Now, in the distant aftermath of the war, the real battle is about to begin.

Haunted by the crimes of his past, fallen knight Azander Dane ekes out a mercenary existence as he drifts from one city to the next. His latest job is to hunt down Ijanna Taivorkan, a powerful outlaw witch desperate to escape her destiny. 

Dane and Ijanna find themselves in Ebonmark, the City of Scars, where deadly crime guilds and shadowy agents of the White Dragon Empire prepare for a brutal confrontation. Pursued by apocalypse cults, mad alchemists, exiled giants and werewolf gangs, Dane and Ijanna soon learn a deadly lesson – in Ebonmark, only the cruelest and most cunning can survive. 

City of Scars is the first volume of The Skullborn Trilogy, an all new epic fantasy adventure from the author of BloodSkies .

Check out bloodskies.com for more!

Helpful Links: Goodreads | Smashwords | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

city_of_scars —–

The Mug O UglyAbout the Author~

Steven Montano is an author, accountant, and blogger, part human and part…well, we’re not entirely sure, but he sure does write a lot of books.

Steven is the author of the Skullborn novels (City of Scars, Path of Bones), the Blood Skies series (Blood Skies, Black Scars, Soulrazor, Crown of Ash, The Witch’s Eye and Chain of Shadows), Tales of a Blood Earth 1 and 2, SteveCrucifix Point, and something black…. He’s currently hard at work on Blood Angel Rising, a paranormal action/horror/thriller; Vampire Down, the next installment of the Blood Skies series; and The Black Tower, the conclusion to The Skullborn trilogy.

He and his family live in Michigan, where even zombies fear to tread.

IMGP0990Stalk Him: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Visit Steven’s official website at http://www.stevenmontano.com

Steven Montano as the cyclops

Steven Montano as the cyclops

The Stealthy Novel Release

First off…happy holidays to one and all. I hope you all got to spend time with loved ones, enjoying all the things that are most important to you.

Sometime during these couple of days of holidays, I published The Darkness Comes (The Second Book of the Small Gods). Contrary to everything we indie authors are taught about releasing a novel, I did it quietly with no fanfare. To be honest, I wasn’t sure it was going to make it out, so I didn’t make too much of a deal out of it. I thought it would be worse to tell everyone to expect the tales of Horace, Ailyssa, Teryk, Danya, et al were about to continue and disappoint them than to go to market without the usual hoopla.

I guess we’ll find out soon if it was a mistake.

In the meantime, have a look at the cover, take a read of the blurb, then follow the link to your local Amazon store and pick up your copy. See you in the New Year!

—–

THE DARKNESS COMES (The Second Book of the Small Gods)

DC_LARGEWhen shadows fall, the darkness comes…

A disgraced Goddess Mother wanders blind and alone, praying for her agony to end. When a helpful apostle finds her, could it truly be salvation, or does worse torment lie ahead?

A sister struggles to understand a prophecy that may not be meant for her while her brother fights for his life. If the firstborn child of the rightful king dies, will it spell the end for everyone?

Darkness and shadow creep across the land in the form of a fierce clay golem animated by his sculptor’s blood. It seeks a mythical creature whose sacrifice portends the return of ancient evil banished from the world long ago. With its return will come the fall of man.

As the game unfolds, the Small Gods watch from the sky, waiting for their time to come and for their chance to rise again. They wait for the fall of shadows, the coming of the darkness.

They wait for night to descend.

—–

Get it on Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Been A While…Time for an Update

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve had to do an ‘I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post’ post. I had a pretty good run for a while but dropped the ball…time to get back on the horse (did you see that? Two cliches for the price of one).

We’ll get back to it with a straight forward update.

 

WHEN SHADOWS FALL (The First Book of the Small Gods)

WHEN SHADOWS FALL (The First Book of the Small Gods)

WHEN SHADOWS FALL (The First Book of the Small Gods) came out the beginning of October and has received some great reviews, including this one from Ms. Nose in a Book.

The second book, tentatively titled THE NIGHT DESCENDS, (though that may change a little), is with my editor. Have I ever mentioned my editor, Ella Medler? She’s amazing…great at what she does, a great writer, and an all-around good person. Check out her blog and give her some props.

The Third Book of the Small Gods (And Darkness Comes?) will begin spilling out of my fingertips in the next week or two after I finish part five of the romantic pirate erotica adventure I’m co-writing with my wife. I’m looking forward to it…let’s just say things aren’t going to get any better for any of the characters.

On top of that, a new Icarus story is starting to brew in my head. Not sure where that’s going to go yet, but the opening seen is becoming clearer day by day. To keep up with the way that series has come out, I’d be aiming to have that fourth book out for summer.

That’s it for now. Keep coming back and I promise I’ll reward you with more frequent blog posts about potentially interesting subjects. In the meantime, enjoy your Chrismas/holiday parties and stay safe.

Bruce

New Release! CHAIN OF SHADOWS by Steven Montano

If you’re not reading Steven Montano’s BLOOD SKIES series, you’re missing out. Part fantasy, part dystopian sci-fi, part horror, and all good, the BLOOD SKIES series has something for all fans of speculative fiction, and today marks the release of part six of the series: CHAIN OF SHADOWS.

Do yourself a favor and work your way through the entire series, then try out this great new release from one of my favourite authors.

chainofshadows_finalNOW AVAILABLE!

CHAIN OF SHADOWS (Blood Skies, Book 6)

The barrier between worlds has been broken, and the invasion is about to begin.

Eric Cross, burdened by the loss of those who’ve died under his command, must lead his recently reunited mercenary team against the shadow wolf sorcerers known as the Maloj.  Bound to dire artifact blades and charged with protecting the Kindred, Cross seeks help from the enigmatic White Mother, leader of the Southern Claw.

But sinister forces bring his vessel down in a strange and distant land, and soon Cross and his allies are beset by undead armies vying for control of the deadly region called the Chain of Shadows.  Trapped in a desert waste where wielding magic is dangerous and nothing is as it seems, Cross’s team will pay the ultimate price in their battle to finally get home…

Return to the world After the Black in this pivotal 6th book of the BLOOD SKIES saga!

—–

The big day is here – CHAIN OF SHADOWS is now available!cup

And for a limited time, if you buy a copy of the book you can also enter to win a free coffee cup! That’s right, sip your java in your very own Cup O’ Darkness!

To enter, just e-mail your receipt/purchase confirmation to daezarkian@bloodskies.com. I’ll enter your name into a giant spreadsheet, and on November 8th, using sophisticated technology (most likely consisting of one or more 20-sided dice), I’ll select 1 winner who’ll get a complimentary CHAIN OF SHADOWS coffee cup mailed directly to their home.

To qualify, your CHAIN OF SHADOWS purchase must be made and the receipt submitted no later than November 1st! I’ll announce the winners the following week and get your cup right out to you!

Purchase Links:

Amazon US (Kindle)

Amazon UK (Kindle)

Amazon (Paperback)

Barnes & Noble (EPUB)

Smashwords (all Ebook formats)

—–

The Mug O UglySteven Montano keeps writing novels in the hopes that one day he’ll wake up and actually feel like a real author. Maybe it’ll happen tomorrow.

Steven is the author of City of Scars, the Blood Skies novels (Blood Skies, Black Scars, Soulrazor, Crown of Ash, The Witch’s Eye and Chain of Shadows), Tales of a Blood Earth 1 and 2, and something black…. He’s currently hard at work on Blood Angel Rising, a horror novel; Vampire Down, the next installment of the Blood Skies series; and Path of Bones and The Black Tower, the conclusion to The Skullborn trilogy.

He’ll soon be marooned in Michigan with his wife and children, wondering how he got there.

Visit Steven’s official website, bloodskies.com

Meet the Cast: Thorn

The final character to be introduced in WHEN SHADOWS FALL is Thorn. In writing this character, I wanted to go for a more whimsical voice to counter balance the melancholy of N’th Ailyssa Ra and the over-the-top nature of Horace Seaman’s

WHEN SHADOWS FALL (The First Book of the Small Gods)

WHEN SHADOWS FALL (The First Book of the Small Gods)

sections. As a result, Thorn is a character who has spent his life with nothing to worry about and living as though the world was his play place. Unfortunately, he’s turned up in on of my books, so that idyllic lifestyle may end up in jeopardy. I can’t say too much more without giving stuff away so, without further ado, say hello to Thorn.

—–

 

VII Thorn and Stormbird

 

 

The branch bounced gently under the stormbird’s weight, but the bird itself sat still as stone. Though it couldn’t see him, Thorn understood the feathered animal sensed his presence; birds knew things, and there was nothing to be done about it.

 

He shifted his loose grip on the spear. He wouldn’t use the weapon, intended no harm to this bird or any other living thing. The necessary traps were set and the bird would soon be his; he simply liked the feel of the smooth shaft in his hand, it comforted him. He’d never thrown a spear, except in practice, but he preferred having it with him nonetheless.

 

Thorn took another step, moving from the leafy cover of a merry bush to stand in front of the wide trunk of a cedar. His skin shifted smoothly from green to striated brown, the color flowing across his flesh the way a liquid might flow across a flat surface, the change keeping him invisible in his surroundings. The bird’s head tilted and Thorn held his ground.

 

The stormbird’s eye fell on him and, though he appeared to the bird as no more than a tree trunk, he tensed, readying to spring if need be. A breeze ruffled the bird’s feathers and touched Thorn’s cheek, wafting the scent of magic along with it. He inhaled quietly, examining this odor in case another of his tribe might be near, but concluded that which he scented to be merely the magic which kept the bird from flying high enough to clear the veil.

 

With a cluck, the black, red and yellow bird returned to feeding on tender buds, and Thorn took another step. The loam beneath his bare foot sprang up to meet his sole, cushioning it, quieting it. Three lengths of his spear separated him from the stormbird, and he sensed the power contained within its feathers, its beak, its talons. Energy danced through the air.

 

Two more silent steps and Thorn had himself in position. He crouched, eyes narrowing and a satisfied smile creeping across his lips; the muscles in his slender legs tensed, coiled beneath him in preparation to pounce. The bird hopped forward; Thorn sprang.

 

Awawawah!” he yelled, waving his arms and dragging his feet through the creepers and moss, stirring fallen leaves and sticks.

 

The bird squawked at the noise and flapped its wings, the gust of wind buffeting Thorn’s face as it rose into the air, out of his reach. It looked back, as though to taunt the creature who startled it from its lunch, and then flew into the net.

 

Ha!” Thorn exclaimed leaping over the log on which the bird had perched before attempting to flee. “Thorn got you.”

 

The open end of the trap cinched closed, the stormbird struggling and grousing within, and the gusts of wind stirred by its flapping wings diminished as the net limited its movements. The bird’s gaze flickered across the forest floor, searching out its captor, and Thorn allowed his flesh to fade from the greens and browns of the forest around him to its normal shade of gray.

 

He reached over his shoulder and stowed the spear in the sling on his back, then leapt for the tree, his fingers and toes grasping the rough bark as he hauled himself up to perch on the first branch. Dangling from the branch above his head, the stormbird writhed inside the net, twisting itself to regard him.

 

Thorn didn’t hurt you, did he, my friend?”

 

Grawwkk!”

 

Didn’t think so.”

 

Thorn jumped up and caught the higher branch, swung himself around to sit on it and peer down at his captive.

 

Thorn won’t hurt you, pretty bird. Thorn will free you.”

 

He grasped the woven vine rope securing the trap to the branch and pulled. The bird weighed more than he guessed it would, so he waved his hand, calling on the fibers to aid him. The net’s weight eased in his grip and he pulled the bird up onto the branch beside him; it swiped at him with a taloned foot, missing his ribs by less than the length of its beak.

 

Oh, you are a playful one.” He sprang up to perch on his toes, not a leaf shaking with the movement, and crouched so his eyes found the same level as the bird’s.

 

Here’s what’s going to happen,” Thorn said, unwrapping the thin leather strap from around his wrist as he spoke. “Thorn will free you from the binding and in return, you will carry Thorn.”

 

Grawwkk!”

 

He leaned close, lowered his voice. “Thorn is going to fly with you.”

——

Read the prologue and first seven chapters of WHEN SHADOWS FALL free on WattPad.

Get a copy for yourself:

Kindle

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Paperback

Meet the Cast: N’th Ailyssa Ra

In my ‘Meet the Cast’ post about Horace Seaman, I mentioned one of the things I tried to do when writing WHEN SHADOWS FALL was to give each of the characters their own unique voice. Part of the reason I wanted to do this was also because I wanted to write characters who were not only easily differentiated from each other, but also from me. You see, I am part of that group of lazy writers who tends to inject a great deal of themselves into their characters rather than

WHEN SHADOWS FALL (The First Book of the Small Gods)

WHEN SHADOWS FALL (The First Book of the Small Gods)

doing the work to think up something new (I like to think it’s the good parts that come from me, but that’s still up for debate). No where in the book is this more apparent than with N’th Ailyssa Ra.

Ailyssa is a woman in her mid-fifties…I am not. She is a Mother in an order of the Goddess…I am not. You see the differences? I actually did research with my mother-in-law to make sure I got some of the details correct. I don’t know about everyone else, but I found it just a little awkward discussing the ins and outs of menopause with her, as wonderful and open a woman as she is. Something about me, I guess.

More than any other character, Ailyssa grew out of my planning of the world. As I delved into the Goddess religion, I realized I needed to have a character who could help me put across some of the ideas without having to do the hated info dump, and Ailyssa was born. She came to me like an actress I couldn’t bear not to put in the movie, so it’s almost like I wrote the part for her. When I started, I didn’t realize how important her role would be.

Ladies and gentleman…N’th Ailyssa Ra.

—–

III Lines of Chalk

The chalk quivered in N’th Ailyssa Ra’s fingers as she raised her hand toward the wall, preparing to inscribe the ninety-eighth line. Never had she drawn more than thirty-two, except when a child grew within her, and most times never exceeded the twenty-eight chalk lines expected between bleeds.

She closed her eyes and expelled a shuddering breath, reminded herself she’d been aware this day would come, as it did for all Mothers, all women. But she’d imagined it differently, thinking she’d move from Mother to Matron and be an elder of the church, like had happened for N’th Adesi Ra no more than four moons ago.

N’th Adesi Re, she corrected herself.

Ailyssa opened her eyes and took the last step toward the wall, pressed the flat end of the chalk against the stone. With a final sigh, she drew it downward, marking the ninety-eighth rising of the sun since her last bleed.

More than three complete turns of the moon.

With her last coupling five moons gone, far too much time had passed to be carrying a child and not showing signs. Sometimes the blood might fool you and continue to flow for moons after conception but, at her age, the belly couldn’t conceal its secret for long. The times she’d been with child, her heart had been aware of the little soul’s presence before her body announced it to the world.

N’th Ailyssa Ra set the nub of chalk on the ledge beneath the marks, wiped its dust from her fingers on the front of her smock, and tilted her head back to observe the scores on the wall above the chalk lines. These ones had been scratched into the stone, meant to be permanent, not erased every twenty-eight sunrises—give or take—as were the spotty white smudges she drew each morn.

It took her a moment to count them, though she knew how many she’d find: fifty-four. She’d been counting them often of late. The more chalk lines she drew on the wall, the more she counted the carved marks, it seemed.

The twelfth line was wider and deeper than the others, indicating her first bleed, the day she earned the title N’th. She recalled it as though there were not more than forty other lines drawn in between it and the last. Her joy at waking to find her bed sheets spotted with the Goddess’ will that morning had been nearly enough to overshadow it also being the last day she lived with the woman who brought her into this world. The next day of her birth—her thirteenth—marked the first time she carved a line in the wall herself.

She traced the mark with the tip of her finger, remembering N’th Pedra Ra who gave Ailyssa life. They’d followed the Goddess’ wishes, and Mother and Daughter were separated after Ailyssa’s first bleeding, and she often wondered what became of the woman who birthed her. Did she go on to become N’th Pedra Re? Or did Ailyssa’s lack of Daughters, and her Daughter’s lack of Daughters, lead to her expulsion?

Perhaps Pedra bore other Daughters who brought honor to the order and the Goddess.

Ailyssa moved her hand away from the deep wound in the stone and blinked back a tear. Her fingers hovered over the next row, where circles ringed three of the marks, the first crossed out by two lines. She kept her touch and her gaze away from this one, knowing tears came easily at its sight, but she rested her fingertip on the second. This one recorded the birth of her Daughter, Claris, when the Goddess had seen fit to bestow upon her the title of Ra—Mother.

Thirty-four marks had been carved in the wall between that circle and the last line, and still N’th Claris hadn’t been blessed to become Ra. Ailyssa heard word of her now and again when one of the Matrons traveled and brought back news, and they’d told her that the Goddess did not yet judge her Daughter fit to give birth to a Daughter of her own.

Her hand moved to the final circled scar, one separated by thirty-two similar lines from the most current mark carved fewer than two moons ago. No other circles disturbed the rows between, and this last one represented Ailyssa’s greatest pain. When she’d given birth to her first son—her first child and the first circle on the wall—it seemed natural he be taken from her, and she knew no different. She’d drawn the line through his birth circle without second thought; it wasn’t until she held her second child in her arms that she understood what she missed with his absence. Before then, she’d never thought to wonder what became of him, it simply was what was: the will of the Goddess.

The last circle represented her second son, also taken away as a babe; a child she’d not seen since and never expected to see again. His birth had been the most difficult for her and, at times, she’d wondered if the struggle was the reason she’d birthed no more children in honor of the Goddess. Though it may be, she realized the circumstances of his birth were also why she mourned him so. Unlike when her first baby came into the world, her young daughter still nursed at her breast when the third came, and she knew what it was like to love a child.

The pain of his loss wounded her, leaving a scar on her heart far deeper than the one on the wall—a pathetic representation of a child whose fate she’d never learn. She’d been unable to bring herself to inscribe the mark of ‘son’ across it as she’d done the first, unable to act as though the birth and the child it brought never happened.

Ailyssa had memorized the writings as did every Daughter before they became N’th: do not mourn a son, for they are worthless. But, even after carving thirty-two lines in the stone, sleep eluded her some nights, leaving her to lay awake, wondering…wondering. She couldn’t even bring herself to look upon the first circle.

Her hand dropped to her side and she counted marks again.

Ninety-eight since her last bleed.

Thirty-two since her last child.

Forty-two since her first drops upon the sheets.

That meant near forty-two times thirteen moons she’d wiped the chalk markers from the wall and began anew. She hung her head, wishing for her blood to come and allow her to erase their menacing implication one more time.

—–

Read the prologue and chapters one to three for free on Wattpad.

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Steven Montano Keeps Writing Books

I’ve had a few people act impressed by my productivity, but I guess they haven’t met Steven Montano. It seems like every time I blink, Steven has a new book ready to hit the electronic shelves. I swear, the guy writes them so fast, he must leave blank paper on the workbench for the elves when he goes to bed at night.

The good news is that Steven writes great books, so you really should pick them up. The great news is, there’s another one coming soon. Check out the blurb and the great cover!

—–

Coming October 25th

CHAIN OF SHADOWS (Blood Skies, Book 6)

The barrier between worlds has been broken, and the invasion is about to begin.

Eric Cross, burdened by the loss of those who’ve died under his command, must lead his recently reunited mercenary team against the shadow wolf sorcerers known as the Maloj.  Bound to dire artifact blades and charged with protecting the Kindred, Cross seeks help from the enigmatic White Mother, leader of the Southern Claw.

But sinister forces bring his vessel down in a strange and distant land, and soon Cross and his allies are beset by undead armies vying for control of the deadly region called the Chain of Shadows.  Trapped in a desert waste where wielding magic is dangerous and nothing is as it seems, Cross’s team will pay the ultimate price in their battle to finally get home…

Return to the world After the Black in this pivotal 6th book of the BLOOD SKIES saga!

chainofshadows_final

—–

The Mug O UglyABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven Montano keeps writing novels in the hopes that one day he’ll wake up and actually feel like a real author. Maybe it’ll happen tomorrow.

Steven is the author of City of Scars, the Blood Skies novels (Blood Skies, Black Scars, Soulrazor, Crown of Ash, The Witch’s Eye and Chain of Shadows), Tales of a Blood Earth 1 and 2, and something black…. He’s currently hard at work on Blood Angel Rising, a horror novel; Vampire Down, the next installment of the Blood Skies series; and Path of Bones and The Black Tower, the sequels to City of Scars.

He lives in Washington State with his beautiful and intelligent wife, two beautiful and talented children, and a backyard badly in need of some love.

Visit Steven’s official website http://bloodskies.com/

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Chain of Shadows by Steven Montano

Chain of Shadows

by Steven Montano

Giveaway ends November 01, 2013.

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at Goodreads.

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