New Book || July 26, 2016 || Magic has returned to Telyn’s world

Songmaker #2

Truthsong

by Elisabeth Hamill

In When Telyn’s song magic freed ancient spirits of the Wood, it also awakened a long-slumbering evil. Now she and her beloved Mithrais must battle a spreading shadow that ignites crippling fear, and deal with the unexpected consequences of magic’s return.

More danger arrives with a royal delegation to the forest realm, sweeping Telyn back into court intrigue and the sights of a murderous lord. Mithrais may be forced to choose between his service to the Wood or the obligations of his royal blood.

As Telyn’s bond with Mithrais grows, she is torn between her love for him and the freedom of a wandering bard’s life. But when dark magic plunges the Wood into chaos, she must balance the two halves of her heart—or the Fates may take Mithrais from her forever.

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Even in the quiet hour before sunset, the Wood filled with music.

One didn’t need the ears of a bard to hear it in the rhythmic jingle of Bessa’s harness, or when doves sang lullabies to each other through the branches. A heartspeaker couldn’t fail to miss the new counterpoint percussion of magic, like the steady, silent beat of a drum.

But underneath it all, only Telyn knew the song of the Wood itself.

A secret composition of chords and harmonies existed beneath the ambient sound of leaves. Sometimes it skirled with a wild and unruly air, and other times echoed with heartbreaking sweetness through the glades. It changed with the landscape, never the same melody twice. It would rush past her in waves, or sing in eloquent whispers almost beyond her scope of hearing. Even when she wasn’t listening, murmurs of song invaded her subconscious like a child humming in hushed tones.

“Seed-voice!”

And in not-so-hushed tones.

Telyn pulled back on Bessa’s reins. The grey horse snorted and slowed to a stop. One of the newer Gwaith’orn hailed her—the truly Old Ones seldom used such common means to get her attention. For those reborn in the wake of the great spell cast in the Circle, it remained a new and exciting thing to be able to speak aloud. As a result, they were impulsive and sometimes a little rude.

The resonant vibrations marked the nearby presence of the tree folk. She caught her breath in surprise when the brush on her right parted in invitation. Bessa snorted, turning the wagon from the stony road into the temptation of soft, green grass. Telyn laughed and gave the mare her head. “Well, that’s settled then. Are you ready to camp, my dear?”

The sun lowered upon the tree-broken horizon, ready to slip behind the mountains. Light and darkness balanced in equality for the moment. But shadow always lay in the deepest parts of the Wood, gray-green areas that seldom saw a shaft of sunlight. Here the Gwaith’orn held court. Once trapped by an ancient spell, her magic and life force bought their freedom. Telyn advanced without fear, for these strange creatures were now her allies.

All around her, the Wood pulsed with the promise of magic, but the Gwaith’orn remained silent. She sensed mischief, and her mouth quirked upwards in a smile.

A new tree, with bone-white upper limbs and wide green leaves, stood in the lee of the old, sprung from the roots of its ancestor. Telyn pulled the wagon into the clearing. Somewhere beyond, the sound of water announced the presence of the river she followed south from Ilparien. She dismounted the bench seat and walked into the heart of the grove, leaving Bessa content to crop the grass.

“Well, I’m here.” Her hand brushed the star-shaped leaves at head level, the tree grown to a startling twelve feet in less than two months. They all grew with unnatural speed—nearly five hundred of them at the last count. “What do you need, young-Old-One?”

The voice came from behind and made her jump, even though she thought herself prepared. “You might have passed us by and not known, Telyn.”

She whirled. The being that stood at her shoulder gave a laugh like the trill of a bird’s song, high and sweet. Its honey-colored eyes crinkled in amusement.

“Not known what?” she asked. It was still extraordinary to see the Gwaith’orn take human-like shapes in the groves. The young ones seemed to revel in it, although they could only manifest within the root-spans of the old trees. Early on, she started to call these manifestations “sprites” because of their playful nature. The name was now indelible in Tauron lore.

Slender white limbs gestured with the grace of breeze-caught branches. “Mithrais is not far away. We believe he will look for you.”

Telyn grinned in delighted surprise. “Thank you for telling me. I’ll stay here tonight.”

Mithrais and his fellow Magians were busy testing the magical knowledge bestowed upon them by the Gwaith’orn. There were also more domestic reasons her lifemate had been unable to join her. These obligations called Telyn to turn her wheels south and begin the three-day journey to the northern gate of Cerisild.

Time had passed without discernible measure in a joyful blur of music and storytelling. She brought the news of magic’s return to the people of the Wood, the shelter of the deep forest more like home by the day. But the passage of weeks meant the inevitable approach of midsummer and the arrival of a royal delegation.

She began to remove Bessa’s harness to allow the horse a well-deserved rest. “There are visitors coming to Cerisild,” she told the sprite while she worked. “Have you sensed anyone entering the Wood who might mean me harm?”

“None who seek you. There is a mind full of chaos. It is getting closer, but we sense no threat there.”

She suspected this mind belonged to Vuldur, Lord of the East. An unfortunate, deadly history lay between them. Telyn would never be able to change the fact she killed his son in an act of self-defense. She had just begun to forgive herself for the accidental spell that allowed an already charged situation to escalate. Vuldur only knew his heir was dead—and who was responsible.

“That may be the man who sent the bounty hunters.” Telyn watched the sprite as it followed the erratic flight of a moth through the grove. “I don’t think he will try to harm me himself, but I do fear him.”

“Few can harm you now, Seed-voice, unless you allow it.” It chased the moth to the edge of the root span and watched it flutter off. “We have given you the knowledge of what to do with your magic to keep yourself safe.”

“And I thank you.” There had been little opportunity to test the knowledge left imprinted in her mind, a gift of gratitude from the Gwaith’orn. She didn’t like the thought of using song magic as a weapon. It was contradictory to the self-imposed rules she held concerning her unique powers. “I hope I don’t meet anything my blade can’t turn aside.”

“Danger will not wait for a sword to be unsheathed or an arrow to be drawn. The darkness which grows may prove more challenging.” The sprite allowed a bird to light on its hand.

A frisson of fear crawled down her neck, and Telyn stopped unbuckling the harnesses. “Darkness? Tell me what you mean.”

“Another life quickened here with your spell; one we believed no longer viable.” It stroked the feathers and laughed when the little brown bird pecked at its fingers. “It is old, like we are, but less aware. It needs a vessel, whereas we may live free, thanks to you.”

“Is it dangerous?”

“All magic is dangerous. This we told you before, and this you already knew.” The strange creature trapped the bird in its fingers like a cage of wood. The bird squawked in protest and struggled. “It seeks a way out of its prison.” Wooden fingers opened and released the bird, which shook itself and took flight as feathers drifted behind it.

“Should we do something to protect against it?” Telyn asked, perplexed.

“We do not fear it. You will be safe here with us.”

“That’s not what I meant.” The Gwaith’orn were often maddeningly evasive. Unless one asked the right questions, they would never give a straight answer. “Do the Magians need to act against it to protect others?”

“The time will come when our faithful ones will need to act. But not yet.” It bent at an impossible upside-down angle to watch Bessa crop the grass and laughed when the horse whuffled at its leaf-capped head.

She blew out her breath in frustration and reminded herself this sprite truly was a child. It would remain impractical for her to ask questions with it still delirious in its new freedom.

The day’s heat waned there in the deep forest as she removed the rest of Bessa’s harness. Telyn shivered inexplicably. She glanced into the shadows. She’d never been afraid of the dark before, but the Gwaith’orn’s warning lingered in the back of her mind. Uneasiness crept into her soul.

 

New Book || May 31, 2016 || Magic & Models

"Welcome to Sortilege Falls" by Libby HeilyWelcome to Sortilege Falls

by Libby Heily

Sixteen-year-old Grape Merriweather would never have agreed to move to Sortilege Falls had she known that a group of teen models ruled the town. Their beauty is only outshone by their cruelty. Grape knows something isn’t right about the models. They are too perfect, too beautiful, and not at all natural, but even she isn’t immune to their allure. Mandy, the only “nice” model, befriends Grape.

That’s when the trouble truly begins.

Mandy’s friendship places Grape smack in the middle of a mystery that has the entire town on edge. One by one, the models fall ill from an incurable disease. Grape quickly realizes that their parents are hiding a secret, even as they watch their children die. To save her friend, Grape will have to find the truth—even if it means putting herself in danger.

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Excerpt

 

“What are you wearing?” a snotty voice asked Grape.

Grape’s entire body stiffened as she looked up from her phone. Five of the most beautiful people to ever walk the earth stood scattered around two Porsches. Did I walk into a photo shoot?

“I mean, gross.”

The words came from an impossibly beautiful girl. Loose, raven-black locks fell over her shoulders, the tips lingering above her full bosom. Grape could almost hear the sizzle and static of her electric blue eyes. The sun had kissed the girl’s skin lightly, leaving a glow that made the air around her shimmer. Her pouty, pink, full lips begged to be kissed, though the guy standing behind her, his arm draped over her shoulder protectively, warned off all who would be so bold.

The boy behind her, if anything, was even more handsome than she was beautiful. Muscle stacked upon muscle until his clothes had no choice but to hug every inch of his body. His dark eyebrows and strong jaw lent him a tough look, one that was backed up by the playful anger in his eyes.

The raven-haired goddess turned and embraced her beau, her face tucked away into the heat of his chest. He sat propped up on the hood of a yellow Porsche, the sleek lines of the car offset by the disdain on his face. They were so incredibly, delightfully gorgeous that even though he looked as if he had seen a cockroach instead of a human being, Grape’s heart still melted at the sight of them.

“I think she’s in love.”

Grape snapped her gaze away from the Adonis with the nasty temperament and turned toward the twin boys standing in front of a black Porsche. Her eyes bounced between the two, taking in every perfect feature. Flawless, rich, dark brown skin. Sparkling hazel eyes. Muscles so tight that you could bounce a quarter off their abs, or arms, or anywhere on their bodies, really. They looked as perfectly engineered as the cars they stood by. But it was their lusciously long eyelashes that sent Grape swooning. Men were not meant to be this pretty.

“Leave her alone, guys.”

Grape’s head spun. Each person she saw was more beautiful than the last, and the redheaded girl standing off to the side was no exception. The baggy jeans and generic T-shirt she wore did not detract from her creamy skin and full lips. Her large brown eyes fascinated Grape—red flakes glimmered from inside each caramel-colored orb.

The air felt charged with a million volts. Her thinking grew cloudy. Were these angels? Was she daydreaming? How did anyone get to be this beautiful? She could sense their hostility, but something inside her felt warm and gooey. Snap to, Grape, she told herself. They want to hurt you.

“Awww, look. It likes us,” the twin with the goatee said. The clean-shaven twin’s face softened. Was that pity she saw in his hazel eyes?

“Stop being mean,” the redhead said, sounding more bored than angry.

“I’m not being mean. Where’d you buy that shirt?” Goatee asked. His quiet tone was laced with thorny edges.

Grape swallowed hard. The fuzz inside her head abated. Focus, she told herself, feeling like an idiot. “I don’t know. Kohl’s maybe.” She glanced down at her blouse. The shirt was a birthday present from her mother, and she wasn’t sure where it came from, but since her mother did most of her own shopping at Kohl’s, it seemed like a pretty safe guess.

Goatee turned toward his brother and smiled. “Pay up.”

Clean-Shaven shook his head at her as if she’d named the wrong store on purpose. He pulled a thick wad of cash from his pocket, peeled off a twenty, and handed it to Goatee. “I was sure it came from Kmart.”

“Why does it matter where I bought my shirt?”

The raven-haired girl glanced out from her hiding place in her boyfriend’s embrace. “It just looked familiar. I wore the same shirt. Three years ago.” She smiled, but there was no kindness when she bared her teeth. “Before it was a knockoff.” The girl hid her face against her boyfriend’s pecs. Their chests rose and fell at the same time, breathing as one.

“Okay. Well, I don’t really buy designer clothes.” Grape wanted to have a witty comeback, but she still wasn’t sure where the insult lay. Did they or did they not like the shirt?

What the hell is wrong with me? Of course they’re making fun of me. Why aren’t I angrier?

“She means she modeled the design,” the redheaded girl said, cutting her eyes to the couple.

“You’re a model?”

The brothers snickered. “Pretending she doesn’t know who we are, that’s so cute. Is that the new fad amongst the Normals?” Clean-Shaven asked.

“I don’t understand anything you just said.” Grape felt completely out of her depth. This was the school parking lot, but she might as well have been on Jupiter.

The redhead took a step toward Grape, shooting a nasty glance to the others crowded around the cars. “Don’t worry about it. They’re just teasing.”

“I thought about modeling.” Grape hadn’t meant to say that, but no one else spoke, and she felt like she had to say something. Her skin grew hot. She knew she was blushing beyond red and into crimson mode. She’d practiced runway shows off and on in her bedroom since she was twelve, but she had never told anyone she wanted to be a model. Ever.

“Ow,” Grape cried, only then noticing that she had twisted her ring so hard it was actually cutting into her finger. A tiny drop of blood oozed out and fell to the pavement below.

“Aren’t you a little fat to be a model?” the boyfriend asked. His voice sounded like pure honey even when he spoke acid.

“You think I’m fat?” Grape stared down at her flat tummy. No one had ever called her fat before. There was still a bit of room in the waistband of her size four skirt.

“I’m just saying you could stand to lose a few pounds, unless you want the runway to collapse.”

“Ouch, Adam.” Clean-Shaven punched the boyfriend playfully on the arm.

Goatee winked at Adam. “My boy calls it like he sees it, and he sees a chunky monkey.”

“I’m well within my weight range.” She could feel her voice growing high-pitched. Damn nerves. These people were jerks.

“Of course you are, you look great,” the redhead told her. “These guys just don’t how to joke around without being completely mean.”

“We aren’t joking,” Adam said, giving his girlfriend a quick kiss on the top of her head.

Goatee pulled out his car keys. He turned his back on Grape, tired of their new toy.

“Whatever. Class is about to start. Are we skipping or staying?”

“Skipping,” the raven-haired girl peeked out to say.

Adam looked Grape over and made a face as if he’d smelled something terrible. “Yeah, I think I’m done for the day, too. I feel the need to hit the gym.”

She rubbed her hands over her stomach but it still felt flat like normal. What were they seeing that she wasn’t?

“The shirt looks nice on you,” Clean-Shaven said before climbing into the driver’s seat of the black Porsche.

“Like a muumuu on a water buffalo,” Goatee added and hopped into the driver’s seat of the yellow Porsche. The couple got into the back of his car and huddled close together.

“Mandy, you coming?” Goatee asked.

“No, I have a test,” Mandy, the redhead, said. “I’ll see you later.”

“Suit yourself.”

Grape waved stupidly at the drivers as the engines revved. You look like a goober, she told herself, but she could not stop waving.

“Move.” Mandy grabbed Grape by the arm and pulled her toward the sidewalk.

Grape tried to shake her arm free, but Mandy’s grip was surprisingly strong. “Let go of me.”

Mandy stared at her with an I-told-you-so look as the Porsches sped off, right through where Grape had been standing.

“Oh my God, were they going to run me over?”

“Not on purpose. I’m sure they just forgot you were there once they started their cars.”

“How?”

Mandy shook her head. She stared after the Porsches as they pulled into traffic and sped away. Finally, she turned back to Grape and offered her an apologetic smile. “Sorry about that.”

“Which part?”

“All of it, I guess.”

New Books || Feb 24, 2014

Welcome to the brand new Fire and Ice blog. This has been a long time coming and we hope that you’ll enjoy it and subscribe.

Watch out for brand new author interviews complete with giveaways.

For now, let’s kick things off with this weeks releases!

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"Cry of the Sea" by D. G. Driver

Cry of the Sea by D. G. Driver

Juniper Sawfeather is choosing which college to attend after graduation from West Olympia High School next year. She wants to go to San Diego to be far away from her environmental activist parents. They expect her to think the way they do, but having to be constantly fighting causes makes it difficult to be an average seventeen-year-old high school student. Why do her parents have to be so “out there?”

Her feelings on the subject are changed when she and her father rush to the beach after a reported oil spill. As they document the damage, June discovers three humans washed up on the beach, struggling to breathe through the oil coating their skin. At first she thinks they must be surfers, but as she gets closer, she finds out that these aren’t humans at all. They’re mermaids!

Now begins a complex story of intrigue, conspiracy and manipulation as June, her parents, a marine biologist and his handsome young intern, her best friend, the popular clique at school and the oil company fight over the fate of the mermaids.

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Stealing Time by Nancy Pennick
(Waiting for Dusk ~ Book 3)

Drew from the past… 
Kate from the present…

Two worlds collided.

As senior year comes to a close, a promise of new beginnings is on the horizon. Kate longs to head to Arizona and college until her former friend, Tyson, does the unimaginable forcing her to stay in Ohio. Her family has to pull together to keep their secrets safe. Anna wishes to return to the canyon in 1927 once more and Kate’s determined to make that a reality. Summer’s filled with wonderful memories and little warning of things to come. Kate’s world grows darker and she must be the one to conquer the demons and save the world that is most precious to her.

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"The Cat That Went to Homecoming" by Julie OtzelbergerThe Cat That Went to Homecoming by Julie Otzelberger

The Cat That Went To Homecoming is the coming of age story of Ellen Jones, an overweight teenage girl from a single family home. She is under constant attack by her peers, bullied because of her weight and her family’s poverty. Through volunteer work with her cat, Hershey, Ellen finds her self esteem and the courage to stand up to her bullies. Along the way, she discovers what true friendship and forgiveness are and tells us how Hershey became The Cat That Went To Homecoming.

“The Cat That Went To Homecoming addresses many serious social issues including family separation, bullying, homophobia, social isolation, and depression. The compelling story is also about fun, friendship, and forgiveness.”

—Paula Scott-Ginn, Pet Partners Marketing Coordinator

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Scarecrow on Horseback by C. S. Adler

Humiliated by an experience with her stepsister’s horse Mel refuses to become a rider, but she loves horses. When her mother gets an office job on a dude ranch, Mel is happy to scoop poop and do other scut work just to be near her favorite animals.

The trouble is every time she bonds with a horse something bad happens. It seems she is jinxed, that is until she develops a relationship with a mustang that rich Mr. Jefferies has bought. Then Mel risks everything to make that wild horse her own.