Monday, August 22, 2016

Second Chances series: Tour the book locations in Icarus Rising - Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh sits at the bottom of the Royal Mile at the opposite end from Edinburgh Castle. Icarus and Eve visit the Palace in search of clues for the quest that Zeus has assigned them.
The Palace was originally a monastery in the 12th century and the ruins of that structure still remain on the back side of the Palace. Queen Elizabeth and the royal family maintain apartments still in the Palace, but the older part of the structure is open to the public.

The apartments that Mary Stuart used are still in existence. A blood-stained mark shows on the floor, supposedly left by David Rizzio who was stabbed 56 times by her Mary's husband, Lord Darnley, who was jealous of the Italian secretary's influence on her.
My favorite room is the Great Gallery. The Gallery is the largest room in the Palace, and is best known for the extensive series of portraits of the Scottish monarchs that line the walls. These were commissioned by Charles II from the Dutch painter, Jacob de Wet, and delivered between 1684 and 1686. They feature every king of Scotland, real and legendary, back to the supposed founder of Scotland, Fergus I, in 330BC, and were a clear message about the lineage of the Stuart kings, mostly that they all had large noses as did Charles II.

Cover Reveal: Dragon Moon by Julie Nicholls

Hi!

Thank you very much for letting me take over your blog today to reveal the cover for my latest novel, Dragon Moon. 

This is a Teen & Young Adult Fantasy, and I hope to publish with Amazon’s Kindle Scout program.

The story concerns Scarlett, an almost nineteen year old who is undecided about her future. Throughout her school life she has been the subject of ridicule and bullying because of her flame, red hair. While college was easier, because she stood up for herself, she can’t make up her mind if University is the place she wants to be, and is taking some time out from studying to decide. She visits the Nottingham Goose Fair, and meets Dizelli, a psychic, who gives her a gold pendant and instructs her to wear it to bed. Scarlett wakes up the next morning but she’s not in her bed, or her home. She’s in a field. In her pajama’s. Her adventure begins and she’s thrown into a world of dragons and magic. She’s the Dragon Mage, and it’s her responsibility to save the dragons from slaughter, and also bring two warring tribes together. There are just a few days left before the Dragon Moon arrives. All the dragons currently asleep, protecting their eggs could die unless Scarlett finds a way to unite the silver haired, and black haired races together and to stop Lord Ithel from killing the elder dragon who knows the secret location of the dragon eggs.

Here’s a sneaky peek!

No matter what Elyan’s surprise is, at least it’s another lovely day out. The sun is shining and despite the cool breeze, it’s perfect for riding. We set off at a walk but once outside the city walls, Elyan kicks his horse and he’s off. I have a hard time keeping up on Sootli; bless her. Once he reaches the foothills, he slows and when I catch up to him, he pulls off to the left instead of the path through the mountain.

“Where are you going?” I ask.
He doesn’t answer and just waves at me as he trots ahead. He’s in charge again; he can’t help it.
We ride for only a little way, and then the smell hits me.
Vanillian.
Soon we’re looking at a blanket of white flowers. They stretch along the side of the track as far as the eye can see, and the smell is amazing. Elyan dismounts and wraps the reins around a fallen tree. He helps me down and leads me to the huge log where we both sit.
I can’t stop sniffing the air and notice he’s staring. “What?”
He smiles and I notice for the first time how charming he looks when he’s not scowling.
“I know how much you like Vanillium and thought you would like to see where it grows. Am I right?”
“Yes! Thanks.”
I’m smiling as I look at him and see him in a different light. He can be thoughtful when he puts his mind to it. He stares at me for several moments, his gaze unfathomable. Do I want to know what he’s thinking?
“I am sorry for my behavior yesterday with Mostyn,” he says.
Wow! Didn’t see that coming.
“I expect learning he and your sister were an item was a bit of a shock.”
“I learned something else too. From my father.”
“What was it?” I ask as if I don’t know.
“That there was someone else he loved before mother. I am not angry about that. He expected me to be, though. I have a reputation, it seems.”
I can see a hint of a grin forming.
“My father relies on me to protect the town. While I have my warriors to aid, I am constantly on my guard. My responsibility to our people is foremost on my mind.”
“That’s why you’re so wound up, Elyan. You’re stressed out.”
I know how he feels. In my last year of college I was worrying over my exams, the bullying, and concerns about my life after college. My dad said when someone is stressed, they are short-tempered, have trouble sleeping and are unable to see the positive side of things. Elyan ticks all of the above. People don’t realize they are stressed, but once it’s pointed out to them, it becomes clearer.
“What am I to do? This is my life. I am responsible for our people.”
“I understand you have an important role, but you don’t have to do it on your own. You have warriors who follow your lead. They are just as capable as you are. Let them take some of the pressure.”
Elyan narrows his eyes as he looks at me. He’s listening to what I’m saying rather than spouting off. That’s a good sign.
“But will they then act as I do? Become ‘snippety’ as you say?” He grins.
“No, I don’t believe they will. If you divide the tasks between yourselves, it will be less of a burden. Do you see that?”
“Yes, I do.”
It could be my imagination, but I swear he looks less stressed already. He’s a smart cookie and I know I whined about him plenty of times, but he isn’t a bad person. Actually, as he is now--calm and thoughtful--he’s very attractive. He was already ranking high on my “hot men” chart, but it was his attitude that stopped him reaching a higher position.
Oh, I know you think I’m mean, but I bet I’m not the only one who has a score card.
“When we return home after the meeting today, you can gather your warriors and delegate your duties. Start enjoying your life, Elyan.”
“I like the way you think. You are as smart as my father said.”
“Did he say that?”
“Yes, last night after you left. I spoke with him for a while, and he believes you are too wise for your age.” He chuckles.
Ha! I think what the Earl said probably went something along the lines of “she’s too big for her boots.” But I’ll accept it as a compliment anyway.
Elyan is looking at me again. Not quite a stare but his gaze is lingering and I know I’m blushing. My cheeks are on fire. I’d like to know what he’s thinking. Wait...maybe that’s not a good idea. There’s a glint in his eye, which isn’t a bad thing, but I’ve got too much to think about at the moment.
Extremely bad timing.
“Are all the women in your town like you?” he asks.
“No. They are much nicer.” I laugh. “Women are equal to men, though. They share responsibility, work and some earn such a good wage that the man plays househusband and takes care of the children.”
“That is a story you have made up.” He laughs. “It is a woman’s responsibility to tend the children.”
I’m surprisingly calm after that misogynistic statement. In all fairness, he lives in a world where men are chivalrous and women are skivvies, and that’s not entirely his fault. However, I will nevertheless attempt to enlighten him of why a role doesn’t need to be filled by only one sex.
Here goes.
“Elyan, I’m going to explain something to you which you may find surprising. Women are quite capable of fulfilling any job a man is tasked with. The only difference is that some women might struggle depending on the physical strength required, but that does not mean that some women are not a strong as some men. There are some who are stronger.”
He’s shaking his head, so I continue.
“Women are in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Where I’m from, we are ruled by a Queen, as are many other countries. So you see... there’s nothing a man can do that a woman cannot. As for taking care of children, why shouldn’t a man look after his child? There’s no rule that says a woman should be the only person to wipe a baby’s bottom!”
He laughs and shakes his head. “You are making this up, surely?”
“No, I’m not.” 
I look at him and wonder how he would cope if he were to visit my world. Not only because of the women’s issue but all the technology we have as well. I don’t think he could take it all in, although he might have fun playing my X box.
“I should like to see this for myself. Your world sounds interesting. Do you think I would like it?”
“There are some wonders that would impress you, Elyan, but just as you have problems here, we also have them. Countries fight one another and man has built horrendous machines and created poisons that could kill us all. People starving to death live side by side with people who are so rich, they will never be able to spend their money before they die.”
He’s listening closely.
“Our world is full of different races and we are not all the same color. Whole nations have been targeted because of the color of their skin or religious beliefs. So you see it’s important that we try and resolve the issues here before they escalate.”
Elyan narrows his eyes. He’s thinking hard, I can see from his expression. He will be the Earl once his father passes and he could help implement changes now that would stop future warring.
“This makes you sad, does it not?”
“Yes, very much.”
“We are from different worlds and yet, we are not so different.”
He takes my hand in his and smiles softly. He’s capable of becoming a great leader, I feel it. He has already made changes to the way he acts based on information he’s acquired. He is a smart cookie.
“We have a saying—‘there’s nothing new under the sun’--and this is so true. Wherever we are in the world, whether we’re black-skinned or white, if we have black or white hair, or we worship the sun or the moon, we are all human beings and we have a right to be free and to live.”
“We shall have that here, Scarlett. I promise. I will do everything within my power to make Lord Ithel understand we must live together in peace.”

Elyan pushes up and pulls me with him. “You will show us how to make a start. Will you not?”


Thank you for taking the time to read the sneaky peek... you can read another on my official website www.julienicholls.com to the page, Dragon Moon where a link will be added once the book is available for purchase.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Book Review: Beckoning Darkness by J.D. Stonebridge




Beckoning Darkness is an interesting concept. Ariel, an angel who has been imprisoned in Heaven for her misdeeds, is given a second chance. She is sent to Chicago to help the new prophet ordained by Heaven.
Meanwhile, Caelum, a demon, uses Chicago as his territory, not liking Hell. By accident, he comes across Ariel and the prophet and is fascinated by the angel while wanting to cause trouble with the prophet. Eventually, the two must team together to ferret out the schemes of both Heaven and Hell.
The book starts out slow. It needs a bit of editing to do more showing and engage the reader right away. There are also POV changes and some headhopping that can make parts of this hard to follow.
Once I got about a third of the way in, I really started to enjoy the story. Ariel can be a little too prim sometimes, but Caelum is a great character with a good sense of humor. The fight scenes are terrific, too. Book 1 ends on a cliff-hanger, but I'll go on to read Book 2 based on the story so far,

You can get Beckoning Darkness FREE right now!  Link to Amazon

Friday, August 19, 2016

Icarus as performed by the Paul Winter Consort



This has long been a favorite piece of music. I've seen the Paul Winter Consort many times and love this song. It is very easy to picture Icarus flying too near the sun, then falling to Earth as the music rises and falls.
The amount of instruments that the Consort plays from around the world is staggering. Every winter they play a holiday concert in St John the Divine's Cathedral in New York City that is truly lovely to see and hear.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Now on PreOrder: Icarus Rising by N.W. Moors

Icarus Rising is now on PreOrder at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords. You can find the link to them all here:


After his fall to Earth, Icarus has been in Hell, punished for his hubris. When he wins a chance at parole, he's thrilled - except for the set of wings attached to his body. 

Eve Gregory runs a small bookstore in northern Connecticut. When she hires the handsome stranger to work for her, she doesn't know the secrets he's hiding. Or that becoming involved with him will embroil her with the Greek gods and goddesses. 

Icarus and Eve must perform a quest set down for them by Zeus. If they are successful, will that be end of their relationship? Or will love teach them a new way to soar?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Trad Tuesday: Bitter the Parting by John Doyle



John Doyle is an Irish singer/guitarist who also writes songs in traditional modes. He played with Solas for several years and is now on his own. Bitter the Parting is one of his songs, here sung with Kate Rusby, the great English folksinger.

With a red rose in summer, the leaves often green
You walked without speaking, your arm held in mine
And the lon dubh was singing as we passed on by
And bitter the parting of lovers entwined

[Kate Rusby]
You said that you loved me, you said that you cared
You told me you would never go and leave me behind
The one that I love has altered his mind
And bitter the parting of lovers entwined

[John]
I have to leave now this place I adored
No more can I wander the wild glens and the shores
For the tyrants have robbed me of house, lands, and pride
And it's bitter the parting of lovers entwined

[Kate]
The dew from the morning still hung from the leaves
The dogs they were barking from over the fields
[both]When you sighed and I cried for what we had done
And it's bitter the parting of the wounded in love

[John]
So we kissed and we parted and from her I didn't steer
I sat by the river and watched it flow by
[both] Like time in a bottle, it weaves and it glides
And bitter the parting of lovers entwined

Monday, August 15, 2016

New Release: Grey by Kade Cook

All the truths of her life were born from the promise of a lie.

A lie that could change everything.

Gabrian Shadwell studied hard and kept her nose to the grindstone in order to live the successful full-life most humans strive for. The problem is, she isn’t exactly human; she can see auras…and she yearns to devour them—she is comprised of the things nightmares are made of.

With her eyes opened to the truth of her Borrower heritage, her chaotic journey of self-discovery takes her down a dangerous road when the tainted eyes of the self-righteous Elders in the Realm turn against her. With good and evil before her, she must choose which path she will walk upon and learn the biggest truth of her life.

The only difference between a Borrower and a Vampire is hope.