Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sweet Goddess, I must have more!


I recently set aside a book I had been reading, The Nameless Dwarf by D.P. Prior (fairly good series, but for a fantasy setting with a dwarf lead character, place names like New Jerusalem and London kind of threw a wrench in it for me), to read Sora's Quest, the first book of T.L. Shreffler's Cat's Eye Chronicles. I've had a free Kindle copy of the first book for a while now, kept on my phone with the Kindle app. However, upon finally getting an actual Kindle, I started reading Sora's Quest while waiting for my son's school bus after work. Before I knew it, I had fallen undeniably in love with the fast paced story laced with danger around every turn. In truth, one day I lost six hours to reading it, immediately purchasing the second book, Viper's Creed after finishing Sora's Quest. Admittedly, I also in turn bought the third installment, Volcrian's Hunt immediately upon finishing Viper's Creed. Now I must wait to read the fourth installment as Ferran's Map has not yet been released. That makes me terribly sad.


I would, very much so, recommend this series to any and all fantasy lovers. I will admit, that more than once, the characters speech patterns have seemed off for the time period setting, a bit too modern, but that's my only qualm. The storyline is very well written, rich in history and culture. And the characters! Oh the characters! Crash and Dorian are my favorites (I'll stray away from spoilers here). The more I learn about Crash, the more I love his character, often times wishing I could embrace him and tell him everything will work out, it will be fine, stop beating yourself up!

Give the series a look for yourself. You can grab Sora's Quest for free on Amazon Kindle!
http://www.amazon.com/Soras-Quest-Cats-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B007V5XND8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1413660990&sr=1-1&keywords=sora%27s+quest


"Sora Fallcrest always dreamed of adventure, but as a member of the nobility, she learned the ways of a Lady instead. Now seventeen, she is expected to choose a husband and marry. She plots to run away, but just as she is stepping out the door, she runs into a mysterious man--and is kidnapped.
Abducted from her manor, Sora is plunged into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore. She finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won't let her go--not when her Cat's Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.

But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power--or will the power wield her"

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Distractions Abound!

The one problem I always seem to face, more so that the occasional and highly irritating writer's block, is getting distracted. My laptop is pretty much always connected online. I'll find myself popping online quickly to check something out, whether its doing a quick search or checking an email, hours later I'll discover I've either found my way to Tumblr or I've gotten to some random, obscure video on YouTube after following links on the side (which I probably originally went there to listen to some music while writing).

I do try to focus, I really do. But some days, after getting home from work, making dinner for my husband and son, I really don't want to focus on writing. And when I don't get distracted online, I'm usually gaming it up either on the counsels (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii), I'm rolling the dice with Pathfinder or D&D. I don't mind the Pathfinder and D&D distractions, however, they are good for giving me ideas. In fact, a stand alone book that I'm writing, albeit a bit slowly right now, is based of a D&D 3.5 character I recently played in game DM'd by my husband. I do hope that readers will find Rogue's Dance both entertaining and enthralling. 

Part of my problem with becoming more easily distracted of late is needing to finish revisions to the final Priestess book, Eclipse, while really, really wanting to continued the next installment of the Chronicles book, Opening of Lost Doors. I do have a short story I set aside called Winterspell. It is part of a joint project that authors T.L. Shreffler, Intisar Khanani, and M.A. Bronson are also working on. I do have ideas for a new series, although I do promise to finish the Chronicles first. I can't deny Ril fans their fix, lol. I also would like to try my hand at urban fantasy. I considered Steampunk and Dystopian, but I worry I might disappoint readers with those and remain hesitant to try them at this time.

Anyway, I'm planing on Eclipse to have its revisions finished and have it back on the market late this fall. So keep an eye out for it. there is a teaser of the cover below, but you can see the full cover on my website.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Clean Sweep Review

Clean Sweep (The Innkeeper Chronicles #1)

by Ilona Andrews

"On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is...different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, "normal" is a bit of a stretch for Dina. And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night....Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything."

I absolutely loved Clean Sweep. It was the first book I've ever read by best selling authors Ilona Andrews (a husband and wife team), suggested to me greatly by my husband, who is a big fan of her Magic Bites series. Dina is a strong female character more than capable of protecting herself. Her Inn reminds me of Heterodyne Castle from the Girl Genius webcomic, just magic fantasy and not steampunk. I’ve never been a fan of books with werewolves and vampires, but the initial interactions between Dina and the werewolf Sean were highly amusing, especially when his “welcome is withdrawn.” Clean Sweep is an intriguing blend of fantasy magic and sci-fi tech. Clean Sweep was originally posted chapter by chapter online for free reading, but I quite enjoy having a physical copy in my hands. The next book of the Innkeeper Chronicles, Sweep in Peace, can also be read for free online here: demo.ilona-andrews.com I've read the first four chapters already and look forward to also owning a printed copy of that book once it is released.


 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Save the Dates!

Save the dates for these upcoming author events!

SIGNED BOOK GIVEAWAY!

What: Signed print copies of Falls the Shadow and Melody of the Dark from the Chronicles of Midgard series; signed print copies of Defiance and Betrayal from the Priestess Trilogy.
When: August 6th - August 16th 2014
Where: Marc's in Medina  
1041 N. Court St.
Medina OH 44256
330-722-3399
Details: Enter to win signed print copies of the Chronicles of Midgard or the Priestess Trilogy at the Medina Marc's Customer Service counter. One winner will be chosen for each series. Limit one entry per person. No purchase necessary. Winners will be notified via phone or email for in store pick-up. Questions? e-mail Melissa at mmsasina@gmail.com or call Marc's at 330-722-3399

MEET THE AUTHOR!

What: Meet author Melissa Sasina
When: Saturday, August 9th, 11 am til 1 pm
Where: Marc's in Medina
1041 N. Court St.
Medina OH 44256
330-722-3399
Details: Stop by Marc's in Medina (1041 N. Court St., Medina OH 44256) on Saturday, August 9th and meet author Melissa Sasina. The event will run from 11 am til 1 pm. Get to know Melissa and her books. Grab some free bookmarks and post cards. Print copies will be on hand for purchase ($8.00 each). Questions? e-mail Melissa at mmsasina@gmail.com or call Marc's at 330-722-3399

LOCAL AUTHOR EXPO!

What: Meet local authors and learn about their books
When: Saturday, November 15th, 11 am til 2 pm
Where: Brunswick Library
3649 Center Rd.
Brunswick OH 44212
Details: Melissa Sasina will be on hand at the Local Author Expo hosted by the Brunswick Library on Saturday, November 15th from 11 am til 2 pm. Stop by, meet Melissa and learn about her books. Copies will be on hand for purchase. Grab some free bookmarks while you're there! Questions? e-mail Melissa at mmsasina@gmail.com or call the library at 330-273-415.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ah, what to write...

One problem I find myself facing as an author is want to write too many stories at once. I have the third installment of the Priestess Trilogy, Eclipse, which only needs to have it's revisions taken care of; I have the third installment of the Chronicles of Midgard series, Opening of Lost Doors, which has been put on hold since I started the Priestess revisions; and then there is Rogue's Dance, which is based off a character I played in my husband's fairly recent D&D game. I find myself want to work one all three of these at once, which is a bit bothersome. On top off all that is my horrible addiction to playing video games.

 I've always been a fan of the Final Fantasy series (VII was the first I tried my hand at and is by far my favorite), but Lightning Returns has really made me question Squenix. I'm hoping that FF15 doesn't disappoint me. Lately I've been playing Minecraft with my eight year old son more so than Diablo 3. I did restart my White Knight Chronicles game, though, after having let it sit for so long and being unable to remember what I was doing story wise.

I also have a lovely reading list I am working on. Currently I'm reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Once I'm done with that, I have The Nameless Dwarf complete chronicles by D.P. Prior to read and after that Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews and well as Intisar Khanani's books Sunbolt and Thorn. I'll post my thoughts on each as I complete them. :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Upcoming Events

There are two upcoming events to save the date for:
 

Signed Copy Giveaway

When: July 25-August 6th 2014
 Where: Marc's, in Medina Ohio (1041 North Court Street, Medina, OH 44256)
What: You can enter to win a signed copy of both books from either series (The Priestess Trilogy and Chronicles of Midgard) at the Customer Service counter at Marc's in Medina. Entries will be accepted through the period, and two winners (one for each series) will be chosen on August 6. For further details, please head on over to the Facebook page or call Marc's directly at (330) 722-3399.

Local Author Expo

When: Saturday, November 15th, 2014
I will be on hand at the local author expo hosted by Brunswick Library (located at 3649 Center Road, Brunswick, OH 44212) from 11am-2pm. This is a great time to meet other local authors as well as myself. i will have print copies of some of my books on hand for anyone interested in purchasing copies.
Questions about the event can be directed to the library itself at (440) 273-4150.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Easton, Maryland

I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Easton, Maryland for the wedding of my husband's cousin. It is a beautiful little town, truly, although very very pricey. We arrived an hour and half later then we had planned due to a severe backup at the bridge crossing the Chesapeake Bay. Due to the rain and wind, the path across the bridge had been taken down by the number of lanes accessible, which is understandable. What we found irritable, however, was the fact that eleven lanes from the toll booths, were trying to merge into only two lanes. Hardly anyone in the inner two lanes were allowing others to merge, causing a major back-up and several annoyed drivers from the sounds of car horns that we heard. Upon arriving to Easton, we found our hotel in the middle of the town, which was lovely. Unfortunately, everything in town, save for the bars, all seemed to close at 5:30, even though it was a Friday, which left my husband and myself, who are not drinkers, with nothing to do except walk around the closed town.
 We stayed at the Tidewater Inn, a historic hotel which was by far the most beautiful hotel I have ever seen. The staff was friendly and the rooms, although rather small, were quite quaint. They gave off a wonderful old feeling, but the old, heavy doors were quite loud when closing them and more than once I was awoken in the night by other guests entering and leaving their rooms. Originally built in 1891 as a wood-framed building known as the Hotel Avon, the inn suffered destruction by fire in 1944. In 1947 a local businessman broke ground on a state of the art, world class hotel and on September 3, 1949 the Tidewater Inn opened. A lovely sheet containing the brief history of the hotel was given to me upon arrival, which stated that many famous faces have been welcome to the hotel, such as: Bing Crosby, the Williams sisters, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor among others.

Our stay was very enjoyable. Our only complaint, however, was the prices. The hotel itself, although stunningly beautiful, was far too pricy. There was no free breakfast, only coffee and a newspaper (although they did offer a buffet, but it cost around $16 a person), no pool, and no workout room. Everything in town, pricey as well, opened late and closed early, leaving those visiting with nothing to do for a good chunk of the day. Channels available to watch on the televisions in the rooms were limited (ours actually wasn't working and maintenance had to fix it), the room was horribly cold from a non-adjustable AC, no mini fridges in the basic rooms, they had an ice machine however the only place to get water from aside from the bathroom since was the main lobby of the vending machine.

All in all, if I had to rate them, I would give them 4 stars out of 5 because although the hotel was lovely and historic, it really didn't offer much for the price. And now for some pictures!
Hotel courtyard (This angle of picture doesn't really do it justice)

Hotel Loby

Beautiful Staircase in the Lobby (they only go up to the second floor, then you have to take the elevator to the third and fourth floors)

View of the Courtyard from our room

Our room (my son took the bed on the right and enjoyed it greatly)

Hand napkins to dry hands off with. Very thick :)

Street signs nearby the hotel

Front entrance of the hotel

Looking down the stairs

Banquet room or ballroom, I'm not too sure.

View from our window at night.

Waking up the first morning. We forgot to close the blinds.

The Hunters' Tavern. Very delicious food.

More of the Hunters' Tavern

Bannings Tavern across the street from the hotel. I wanted to try their food so much, but never got the chance.

Fountain in the courtyard
Courtyard the morning we were leaving.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Books, books, books!

With LeVar Burton's kickstarter to bring back Reading Rainbow, I decided I would like to talk about some of my favorite books. I shall start with the most recent I've read:

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Genre: Dystopia

"Jonas' world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back."

Recently my husband and I were at the movie theater and saw a preview for The Giver. For years he's been commenting upon and quoting this book, a book that he read back in middle school and still remembers. Interested, I picked up the book and gave it a read. I was not disappointed. Although it is aimed at young adults, the first of it genre to target children and teens, it was an engrossing read. I would have finished it the first night if I hadn't needed to go to work the next day. The future we are presented with, how normal it is to Jonas and how much you begin to question alongside him, makes you hope that one day this book does not speak true. I highly recommend reading this book.


Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Genre: Urban Fantasy

"Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks. Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere."

Another book suggested by my husband and one that inspired me to want to try my hand at urban fantasy instead of flat out fantasy. Upon opening this book, I quickly found that I was drawn in, following Richard and Door's ever move, wondering what would happen next, absolutely hating Mr. Vandemar and Mr. Croup, and curious of lie around the corner. You can imagine the great sadness I faced when I loaned the book out to a friend never to see it again. I really wished I could learn more about Door and her family, wished she could have a book all her own. All in all, it was a highly intriguing read.


Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling
Genre: Dystopia

"Michael Havel was flying over Idaho en route to the holiday home of his passengers when the plane's engines inexplicably died, forcing a less than perfect landing in the wilderness. And, as Michael leads his charges to safety, he begins to realize that the engine failure was not an isolated incident.Juniper Mackenzie was singing and playing guitar in a pub when her small Oregon town was thrust into darkness. Cars refused to start. Phones were silent. And when an airliner crashed, no sirens sounded and no fire trucks arrived. Now, taking refuge in her family's cabin with her daughter and a growing circle of friends, Juniper is determined to create a farming community to benefit the survivors of this crisis.But even as people band together to help one another, others are building armies for conquest…"

Dies the Fire is a book that really makes you wonder "what if." Suggested to me by a friend, I decided to give it a try. It was the first book I ever read in the dystopia genre and it had me hooked. It brought to question if I was faced with a similar situation, what would I do? How would I survive. It was the first book to interest me in the genre and made me want to try me hand at it. I was not entirely fond of Juniper's character, but I did enjoy reading Mike's (oddly enough my friend who suggested Dies the Fire is also named Mike). If technology as we know it was to suddenly stop working with no means to fix it, what would you do? My only main complaint is how fire and other burnable matter, such as gun powder, as well as hydraulic pressure was also affected.


The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Genre: Fantasy

"Taran dreams of adventure, but nothing exciting ever happens to an Assistant Pig-Keeper—until his pig runs away. A chase through the woods leads Taran far from home and into great danger, for evil prowls the land of Prydain. With a collection of strange and wonderful friends whom he meets on his journey, Taran finds himself fighting so that good may triumph over evil, and so that his beloved home will not fall to a diabolical fiend."

This book series, The Chronicles of Prydain, is the reason I write fantasy. One day years ago while at the local library, I borrowed this book. Before I knew it, I was hooked. I ended up borrowing the following four books in the series, reading them all in a span of a few days. And it didn't end there. I began borrowing several fantasy books by various authors and found my home. It was then that my love of fantasy and the desire to write that genre was born. Disney made a movie based loosely (and I use that term generously) of this book and the following book, The Black Cauldron. That movie by no means does this books justice, especially the Princess Eilonwy of the red-gold hair. Although aimed at a younger audience, it is a wonderful read--if you don't mind stumbling over the Welsh character and place names.


The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
Genre: Horror

"This selection of stories ranges from early tales of nightmares and insanity such as 'The Outsider' and 'The Rats in the Walls', through the grotesquely comic 'Herbert West – Reanimator' and 'The Hound', to the extra-terrestrial terror of 'The Call of Cthulhu', which fuses traditional supernaturalism with science fiction. Including the definitive corrected texts, this collection reveals the development of Lovecraft's mesmerizing narrative style and establishes him as a hugely influential – and visionary – American writer."

In all honesty, I am not a fan of horror, but my husband suggested this book and one story within in particular: The Call of Cthulhu. Lovecraft's play with words allowed me to step in the main characters shoes and he searches from answers that he really doesn't want answers to. However short it may be, The Call of Cthulhu gained a major fan base with plush toys, YouTube videos, and even songs, my favorite being Hey There Chtuhulhu. Fans of horror, if you have not read this short story or the others in the collection, please check them out. 

Have a favorite book you suggest or would like to share? comment below and let me know! I'm always looking to add to my to read list!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Beginnings

As this blog transitions from being a makeshift website into an actual blog, I thought I would share some thoughts. (I plan on using this blog, once the website is up and running, as a way to express the challenges face by a "part-time" author, as well as sharing random artwork and other musings).

Being a part-time author as well as part-time retail worker and full time wife and mother, I often find myself getting into writing slumps pretty often. I don't have a proper writing space, just a chair in the living room beside a table in which all my book notes are kept. Although I know I should go to another room in the house for at least an hour for some uninterrupted writing time, I feel as if I would in turn be ignoring my husband and son. And so I find myself easily distracted. Lately my distractions center around Minecraft, which we bough our son not too long ago. It is a curse because I will lose hours to it building stuff, but in a sense I can see where it could possibly be beneficial. I can essentially build a house or even entire town that my characters could visit. It could serve as a visual to aid in describing where they are. All in all, I will need to figure out a happy medium, I suppose.

Sitting down today, I realized that I have far too many projects that I want to work on. I have an entire journal dedicated to new novel ideas that I want to write. However, I realize that I have two important projects that require my attention foremost. The third Priestess Trilogy book still needs to have its revisions made so that it can be re-released and the third installment of the Chronicles of Midgard really needs to be worked on. I started it on December 24, 2011 and now, two and a half years later, it continues to sit on the second chapter awaiting completion.

Upon realizing this, I opened the file to work on, although I have been interrupted numerous times in my thought process by my husband and son. I would like fans of the series (and of Ril in particular, lol), to know that I will be working on it again intermittently alongside Eclipse, book three of The Priestess Trilogy. The series has not been forgotten, but will also not be ready for release this year as I had previously hoped. 

Once my new website is up and running, the tabs at the top of the page for the books will disappear, but I will have a link to the website itself for easy access to my books. I hope everyone looks forward to the blog post that come soon and enjoy that little bit of randomness that may ensue!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sunny Days

Warmer days are upon us here in Ohio and with them come some changes! This blog has served a a makeshift website for my books over the past few years, however that will soon be changing. I will be launching a website strictly for my books and turning this blog into just what it was meant to be: a blog. I hope you all look forward to my ramblings and glimpses into my life! Until then, let's take a look at the races from the Chronicles of Midgard series!





Álfar: These are basically your elves. Their height ranges from 5' 5" to 6' 5" for both men and women. They tend to wear clothing the mimics things found in nature, such as leaves and butterfly wings (a staple to Amena Evenwood's clothing). They try to maintain true neutrality.












 Dökkálfar: The dark elves of the series. Their height is similar to that of the Álfar. They have a fondness for bright colors and expensive cloths, such as silk. They often dye their hair with streaks or tips of bright colors as well. They tend to run along the neutral evil alignment.








  




Vættir: They are a race of nature creatures who stand on an average of between 3' to 4' tall with tanned skin, green eyes, and brown hair with green streaks. They have a fondness of decorating their hair and clothing with beads, vines, and feathers. They are a bit mischievous and highly welcoming.










 


Dvergar: Basically your dwarves. They are stout, around 4' in height, love their ales, and master smiths of armor and weapons. They wear earthen tones that are often highly embellished with geometrical designs. Their most trusted allies are the Álfar.








  





Human: I would hope this doesn't need explaining.










 
 




Rhine Maiden: They are the spirits of the forest and rivers, which is reflected in their coloring with their skin and hair matching those of the forests and streams they call home. They are a female only race, although they can give birth to males. They are neutral good in alignment and guard Yggdrasil.







 
 



Jötunn: They are descendants of the giants of old from before the events of Ragnarök. There are four sub-races of Jötunn: storm (pictured), fire, frost, and rock. Their height averages 6' 5" to 8'5". They have become rather tribal in their means of living and try to keep to themselves in the Lithui Plains.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Farran's Map Cover Reveal



Title: Ferran's Map (Book 4 of The Cat's Eye Chronicles)
Release Date: August 31st, 2014

Series Website: www.catseyechronicles.com

Author: T. L. Shreffler (www.tlshreffler.com)
Author Facebook: www.facebook.com/tlshreffler




The bloodmage Volcrian is dead, but a new enemy lurks in the shadows. The Shade, a fanatical cult of demonic assassins, is trying to resurrect the Dark God and unleash His power back into the world. In their wake, a deadly plague spreads across the land.
Sora and her companions are the only ones who know of the plague’s true source. As the disease spreads, Sora must journey to the City of Crowns to retrieve The Book of the Named, her only hope of stopping The Shade. She and her companions arrive just in time for the winter solstice festival, a notorious two-weeks of fine wines, grand parties and legendary debauchery. Sora must don the guise of a noblewoman and infiltrate the First Tier nobility to stop The Shade before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, the assassin Crash is confronted by ghosts of his past. As he uncovers more of the Shade’s plot, he finds himself face-to-face with his old Grandmaster, the one who trained him—and who he betrayed. Can Crash lay to rest his past, or will he succumb to his inner demon and rejoin the man who once made him a killer?


Excerpt: 
Prologue


Grandmaster Natrix stood at the top of a sandy ridge, the iron-gray ocean to her back. Heavy clouds covered the sky, sending down flurries of snow. Below her, dozens of Named assassins littered the training ground, practicing hand-to-hand combat. The assassins worked tirelessly despite the weather, bracing themselves against gusts of wind, using the ice to their advantage. At this distance, they looked like black crickets darting amongst the gray slush of the dunes.
As she watched the Named assassins, a second figure appeared on the ridge beside her, materializing through the storm.
Her lip curled. Her eyes remained focused on the training ground. “Again, you’ve returned.” She spoke idly, as though musing about the weather. “I wonder where you’ve been—he, who once dedicated his life to this village.”
Grandmaster Cerastes raised a thin eyebrow. He looked weary, his pale skin sallow. Gaunt cheekbones protruded from an intelligent, angular face, matured in age. His deep-set eyes gleamed with a poisonous light.
Are you reprimanding me?” he said, a touch amused, but mostly hostile.
Grandmaster Natrix gazed at him. She noted the ragged wear of his black robes, the discouraging tilt of his lips. His hair was sleek and perfectly black, falling to his waist, dusted in snow. A strange scent tainted his clothes—the gritty musk of a city, the vague stench of humans and horses.
Then she nodded to the dunes below them, to one assassin in particular.
Your Viper has become quite good,” she said, shifting her weight to her hip, crossing her arms. She wore a close-fitting black shirt, clasped with a vest. The Sixth Race were born of Fire and Darkness, and resistant to cold weather. Her tall black boots were made of toughened hide, no soles, allowing the foot to move freely. A series of chakrams hung from her waist, steel rings with edges as sharp as blades, varying in size. They could be thrown with deadly accuracy, slicing off heads and limbs with the force of her throw. Tight, braided rows of black hair covered her head. Her eyes were the bright green hue of aloe.
Cerastes followed her gaze without comment.
A smirk touched her thin lips. “In your absence, he has trained with Lachesis. Another few years, and he might just become a Grandmaster himself.”
Cerastes appeared impassive, but Natrix knew the statement rankled him. Grandmasters did not like sharing students—especially talented ones. “He has unlocked the fifth gate?” he asked quietly.
No,” Natrix said, her eyes following the figure of the Viper. “But he is close.”
It had been eight years since the Naming of the Viper. In that time, she had watched Cerastes’ student progress rapidly and tirelessly. He was far better than her own savants—even the Named Adder, her best student, who wielded his saber with dexterous speed.
Assassins, especially Grandmasters, kept their emotions under tight control. Yet bitterness had crept in over the years. Perhaps even jealousy. She wished she could work with such a motivated student, one who took his training into his own hands, compelled by his own inner drive. Even without a Grandmaster, even if the Hive did not exist, even if Viper were the very first of the assassin race—she had little doubt he would be able to unlock the seven gates. He harbored a talent that founded tradition. He proved to her the assassin ways were not just fabrication, but a true part of their nature.
And because of that realization, she eventually lost her envy of Cerastes. The Viper's skill was not one of superior instruction. Some assassins were simply born to the task, gifted by the Dark God with clever hands and a sharp mind. He moved like water, using his opponent's energy to his advantage, pulling his assailant forward and off-balance, then striking with his entire body—foot, knee, hip, forearm, open palm. The Adder twisted, and the Viper turned with him, able to anticipate his opponent’s next move. He knocked the Adder to his knees. As she watched, her own student was forced to the ground, prostrated in surrender.
You owe him an explanation,” Natrix said casually, noticing Cerastes turn away. He walked across the top of the ridge, moments away from vanishing again.
The Grandmaster paused. He spoke over his shoulder. “I owe him nothing. He has made his way.”
You broke your oath.” Natrix watched his back carefully, his long hair listing in the wind. “You swore to mentor him until he reached the fifth gate. The boy relied on your instruction. For the last four years, you’ve rarely set foot in our hive. You’ve forsaken your duty to the Viper...he was your best. He still is.”
Grandmaster Cerastes turned fully and glared at her. “What I do with my time is not the Hive's concern. I’ve turned my attention to greater matters.”
I don't care,” Natrix murmured. “Leave the Hive for good if you wish. But you broke the oath of a mentor. In the eyes of the Viper, you are truly a snake. It is well-known that our best students shall some day become our greatest rivals—are you willing to let this seed grow wild? Did you not kill your own Grandmaster, so many years ago?”
Cerastes remained silent. They watched the Viper sheathe his dagger and turn away from his defeated opponent. The young assassin quickly walked back across the training ground to a fringe of trees on its opposite side, toward the direction of the colony.
Natrix grinned cunningly. “You should keep good relations with him. Some day he will be a Grandmaster, and you will be old, and then you'll be that fool bleeding out in the snow.” She indicated the training field again, where the Adder now sat holding his rib cage, blood staining the ground.
The hint of a frown passed over Cerastes' brow as he considered her words. He cast her one last look, then turned and strode away, vanishing into the ever-thickening flurries of snow.

Continue the story… Read first two chapters of Ferran’s Map!

T. L. SHREFFLER is a noblewoman living in the sunny acres of San Fernando Valley, California, a mere block from Warner Bros. Studios. She enjoys frolicking through meadows, sipping iced tea, exploring the unknown reaches of her homeland and unearthing rare artifacts in thrift stores. She holds a Bachelors in Eloquence (English) and writes Epic Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and poetry. She has previously been published in Eclipse: A Literary Anthology and The Northridge Review.

Feel free to connect online! She loves hearing from readers, reviewers, orcs, elves, assassins, villains, figments of her imagination and extraterrestrials looking to make contact. Her online accounts are as follows:


Email: therunawaypen@gmail.com
Twitter: @catseyeauthor


Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win an advance copy of Ferran's Map closer to the release date! 

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Art Contest!

CALLING ALL ARTISTS!

Want to win a signed print copies of Falls the Shadow and Melody of the Dark? Join the contest!

Rules: Draw Ril's airship, the Sacred Hart, based off the following decription found in book one, Falls the Shadow (grab yourself a free ebook copy off Smashwords!):
"The Sacred Hart was by far one of the most impressive airships in all of Midgard. Sleek in design with smoothed edges, she bore a heartwarming resemblance to the long ships of old that once sailed the ocean waters. Built for speed, it wasn’t overly large in size. The Sacred Hart did not bear heavy masts with sails flapping in the wind, but instead had sails that would extend out from the sides of the airship like great wings, adding to her speed, and would fold in for maneuverability. Made primarily from the wood of an ash tree, runes were carved into the hull and keel, following a winding path that was laid with slivers of lumini stones which shimmered and glowed in the dark of night. A dragon head served as the prow and with each air current that caught the sails, the Sacred Hart creaked and groaned as one would expect of a sea-faring ship. Unlike ships of old, the steering of the Sacred Hart lay in the forecastle of the ship, encased within a room of curved glass walls and rich, polished wood floor. It did, indeed, offer the most spectacular view. Plain in design, the steering wheel was made of unflawed ash and stood upon an elevated platform. Stairs led down from the steering room, giving passage to the captain’s quarters and bunks for passengers, while a door in the back lead to the deck."
All art mediums are allowed, including photo-manipulations, but must resemble the description as close as possible. Signatures or website addresses are welcome, but keep it along an edge so that it doesn't interfere with your art. Limit two entries per person. All art must be new and original!

To enter: Send all entries to mmsasina@gmail.com by June 30,2014 (members of deviantART can send submit enty via comment or note to the finished entry: http://shiovra.deviantart.com/). All entries will be judged on a basis of creativity and likeliness. All skill levels welcome! Please be sure to include your e-mail address so you can be notified upon winning.

Deadline: June 30, 2014

Winner shall be chosen by how closely the airship drawing resembles the Scared Hart description.

Prizes!

First Place:
1 signed print copy of Falls the Shadow 
1 signed print copy of Melody of the Dark
1 signed 8x10 print of your choice from my art gallery: [link to deviantART]
Signed bookmarks for The Chronicles of Midgard and The Priestess Trilogy
1 feature on my website, my facebook author page, Tumblr account and on The Runaway Pen

Second Place
1 free ebook copy of Melody of the Dark
1 signed 8x10 print of your choice from my art gallery: [link to deviantART]
Signed bookmarks for The Chronicles of Midgard and The Priestess Trilogy
1 feature on my website, my facebook author page, Tumblr account and on The Runaway Pen

Third Place
1 free ebook copy of Melody of the Dark
Signed bookmarks for The Chronicles of Midgard and The Priestess Trilogy
1 feature on my website, my facebook author page, Tumblr account and on The Runaway Pen

Honorable Mentions:
25% off Melody of the Dark on Smashwords
Signed bookmarks for The Chronicles of Midgard and The Priestess Trilogy1 feature on my website, my facebook author page, Tumblr account and on The Runaway Pen

Very old concept art of the Sacred Hart
  See artwork of The Chronicles of Midgard characters drawn by others here: [link to deviantART]