Excerpt – The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III (C) A. L. Butcher
“So, you are the Heart of the Mountain. What can you show me, I wonder?” Kherak muttered, pulling her thoughts back to the task in hand. She settled back in her armchair with the crimson embroidered and beaded Shamanic Shawl across her shoulders. The item was old, far older than the Shaman herself, and imbued with magic, for it had passed down from Shaman to Shaman, and each woman had added to it. To all appearances it was simply the shawl of an old woman, but there was nothing simple about the garment. It was a symbol of status, an heirloom with much Power and, of course, it kept her warm.
A pearlescent glow rose in the Opal, which hovered above the Circle adorning the table. Colours shifted and, as she placed the Heart of the Mountain over the large stone, the red and black pattern began to move, swirling like a whirlpool. “I am Kherak Var, Shaman, as my kin have been before me. Show me your secrets; guide me in seeking my kin.”
This was strong and wild magic, flowing in a torrent which was close to sweeping the ailing woman away with its force. Suddenly a voice rumbled around, timbre low like thunder, drawing her in and making the old Shaman tingle in ways she had not experienced for many years. The language was strange, ancient and arcane, the very language of the earth. Such words Kherak had seldom heard; the sound held Power, the very essence of magic and rose like a song. She had not expected this, even with all her foretelling. Peering into the depths of the Opal, the images swirled like mist on the mountain and the shifting vision would not yield further. “You will reveal, my eyesight fades but my Sight is clear. You will reveal to me, as is my right and my Power.”
The humming Opal whined with a painful shrill, and tired Kherak fought the errant vision to do her bidding. The Shaman’s Focus shifted— partly in the Realm of Dreams and partly remaining in the mundane world. In Astral Sight the Opal loomed large and bright, a globe of dancing images woven in mist; before her rose a peak of reddish stone, run through with black veins arising from a lake of greenish water, and high in the peak an arch looked out across the lake, weathered but dark and foreboding. As she watched, the lake filled with blood, and screams echoed in her head. As quickly as it had appeared Kherak saw the half-dream flicker away to be replaced by a high-roofed chamber of rock, lit with crystal, and in the centre a red and black stone statue, circled by molten rock, runes glowing like fire about it. The strange words roared as the rolling of waves against stone, echoing in the Realm of Dreams as it did in her parlour, rattling the shelves from which items tumbled. Then the vision was gone.
The Stolen Tower – the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book III
What stalks the land cannot be but is.
Where magic is outlawed a troll Shaman calls from her deathbed to her heiress, Mirandra Var, daughter of the storm. Mirandra vows to find her missing kin, sort friend from foe, and claim the dangerous secrets guarded by unthinkable creatures. If she succeeds she will become the leader of her tribe. If she fails, there will be no tribe to lead.
Welcome to a little excerpt from The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I
Excerpt 1 – Dii
Dii walked through the day, stopping only to refill her water-skin from a spring. The day had turned out to be overcast and the air was heavy with the tension of a storm hanging over the land. Heavyset big-horned sheep populated the surrounding countryside; hardy and excellent providers of meat, cheese and wool that was surprisingly soft to have come from such tough, belligerent beasts. Trees covered the land to the east, not quite fertile enough for grain or barley but ideal for the orchards and forests that provided for these lands. As she walked, the hills began to roll steeper. The horizon boded storm clouds and any canny folk, Witch or not, could foresee the storm approaching. Every mile she walked was further from her Keeper’s land.
As evening approached, the road forked, and the rain began to fall in huge, cold drops that chilled the blood and saturated a person to the skin. She was aware some mages could control the weather, calling and dismissing storms and remaining dry in the rain. Dii, however, was young and inexperienced, and did not know such useful spells. She hesitated, unsure; she could try to camp, although she had little food remaining in her bag and knew her tent would not protect her from a storm or high winds. She had passed a farmhouse some way back and contemplated returning to shelter in the barn, yet she did not wish to be caught stealing apples or eggs and, not knowing the sympathies of the farm folk, she was reluctant to beg for food. The other choice was the elf could risk the village she could see on the horizon, which would provide her at least with a hot meal, a warm fire and a bed more comfortable than a hayloft or bedroll. Being a healer, Dii knew the risks of such weather, and of prolonged exposure to cold and damp. She knew also the danger of one such as her seeking accommodation, but at this moment, she was too cold and wet to care; weather such as this could kill. It was worth the risk for a night or two. Hopefully, if she was cautious, the village should be safe enough.
The storm began to rumble and roll, the symphony of the gods beginning to boil like a cauldron. Quickening her pace, the young elf hoped no other souls were out in the storm. Looking around she saw the pear, apple and plum orchards to the east of the village. Much of the fruit had gone but a few trees still bore laden branches amongst the brown and red leaves. The storm would bring death for some of them and possibly ruin the last fruiting for the rest. Resisting the temptation to fill her pockets with the fruit, she simply plucked a couple of the juiciest ones to quiet her rumbling belly.
Dii smiled sadly when she remembered her foster mother’s fruit pie. Dii had learned much from Malana, not just some of her magical training, unofficially of course as that was forbidden. Malana was the best cook and best herbalist in the area and although she was the lord’s mistress, she was also a midwife. Often the villagers appealed to her when the other midwives had failed or were unavailable. A few times, Dii had been given permission to attend, escorted of course. The first time she had marvelled at the sight of new life arriving in such a fashion, the joy, the pain, often the blood. She had watched and then assisted, pleased to be able to help with bringing new life into the light. She remembered Joset had not been pleased she had attended, feeling it unsuitable for her, but Malana had somehow persuaded him. Perhaps it had simply been another use of her skills for which she would receive payment to fill the lord’s coffers. The ability to be an excellent cook and a well-trained herbalist, not to mention his favourite bed warmer, were solid reasons why Joset kept her foster mother around. Nasty and manipulative he may be, foolish he was not. Dii knew to her cost that he would not waste a good source of income and entertainment. Malana also believed herself, as a bound concubine and Kept, to be in no position to be elsewhere. In her way, she loved him, although Dii had never understood why. Perhaps he had once been a different man; as a mage, Malana would have been bound in the prison beyond the Enclave, unless she was very clever or very lucky. A mage would be bound with the feared Shackles: cruel, draining of magic and often fatal. Standing at the fork of the road, Dii was afraid and unsure, then a rumble of thunder reminded her of why she must risk her new-found freedom, and perhaps her life.
Adult rated #fantasy (contains violence and sexy scenes). Universal Link – ebook, audiobook, hardback, audiobook, large print.
For years, Castre has governed itself apart from the Republic. But Vaxon’s War has left the land and its people weakened and in desperate need of aid. Now, many people feel it’s too late and don’t want the Republic involved. Kyren’s lost everything, but he’ll have to push aside his grief to be the king Castre needs him to be. Kyren’s forced to make a decision that will change his life forever, but he’s been shoved into a corner with no other way to keep his daughter safe.
Meanwhile, the Republic and the Magi are spread all across the galaxy, protecting people from men who crave power, just like Vaxon did. They’re on the brink of war and on top of that, one of the Magi Order’s own guilds has betrayed them.They’re now a Dark Guild, doing assassination contracts to kill innocent people. One of their targets is Ayka, one of the few Diplomats left in the Republic who still believes in the Father and who helps people more than she wants political power. Ayka’s life is now in the hands of the Magi, who place her in the protection of one of the most skilled Metal Mages in the galaxy. Falling for him and trying to get him out of his shell is difficult enough without adding in surviving the attempts on her life. Not to mention the people on Castre want the Republic to stay out of their affairs, but it’s Ayka’s job to represent them in the Republic Court.
While the best Guild in the entire Magi Order investigate an underground slave market, putting Zei Lin and his brother’s lives at risk, the Republic tries to avoid going to war with a race who wants nothing more than to see the Republic fall. A dark power is growing in the distant corners of the galaxy… with enough power to change the fate of the Republic and the Magi Order forever.
***Immerse yourself into this epic fantasy adventure, perfect for fans of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and the Chronicles of Narnia.***
Joanna White is a Christian Author and fangirl. Hunter and Shifter are the first two books in her debut series, called the Valiant Series. In December 2019, one of her short stories was featured in Once Upon A Yuletide, a Christmas fairy tale anthology by Divination Publishing. Dark Magi, Book One of the Republic Chronicles came out in November 2019. Glimpses of Time and Magic, a historical fantasy anthology, also featured one of her stories. The Crystal Heist is a standalone fantasy that came out in August of 2020. Princess of Beasts is Joanna’s first Children of Chaos novel, released in January 2021. Volcano is Book One of the Calamity’s Hope Series, released in March of 2021.
She graduated from Full Sail University with a BFA in Creative Writing For Entertainment. Ever since she was ten years old, she’s been writing stories and has a deep passion for writing and creating stories, worlds, characters, and plots that readers can immerse themselves in. In 2020, she reached her personal goal of writing a million words in a year. Most of all, Joanna loves God, her family, staying at home, and being a total nerd.
In a dark world where magic is illegal, and elves are enslaved a young elven sorceress runs for her life from the house of her evil Keeper. Pursued by his men and the corrupt Order of Witch-Hunters she must find sanctuary. As the slavers roll across the lands stealing elves from what remains of their ancestral home the Witch-Hunters turn a blind eye to the tragedy and a story of power, love and a terrible revenge unfolds.
Δώδεκα ταραχώδη χρόνια, μετά τα δραματικά γεγονότα στην Όπερα των Παρισίων, τον Ραούλ, Κόμη Ντε Σανί, εξακολουθεί να στοιχειώνει το μυστηριώδες Φάντασμα της Όπερας – το θρυλικό πλάσμα που είχε θέσει υπό τον έλεγχό του το προσωπικό της Όπερας, είχε απαγάγει την ερωμένη και είχε δολοφονήσει τον αδελφό του Ραούλ.
Μέσα στην ταραχώδη φαντασία του Ραούλ, τα φαντάσματα του παρελθόντος είναι παντού, και μία παράξενη και συγκλονιστική μουσική εξακολουθεί να έρχεται στα όνειρά του.
Τρέλα, εμμονή και τα βάρη του παρελθόντος υφαίνουν τη μαγεία τους σε αυτήν τη σύντομη, τραγική ιστορία που είναι βασισμένη στο «Φάντασμα της Όπερας».
Αναδείχτηκε καλύτερο βιβλίο φαντασίας από την ιστοσελίδα βιβλιοκρισίας NN Light Book Heaven!
A fantasy epic adventure of heartbreak, hope and rebirth — Birth of Fae: Locked Out of Heaven. The book was born from my time working as a nurse and treating a patient who needed some distraction during long I.V. treatment sessions. I jump into the realm of angels, fairies, dragons and mermaids retelling their origins from a new perspective .
How did you become involved with bundles? (For Bundle Authors)
Stephanie Rabell my PR rep.
Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom? Yes it levels the playing field and gives people a voice.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? so much, there are scammers just waiting to pounce, don’t doubt yourself. The whole “if you write it they will come.” line doesn’t work. YOU have to work at it. The publishing world is a game like anything else and you need to learn it.
What’s your greatest networking tip? Book clubs, and the bookstagram community are phenomenal be appreciative of them.
If you could have dinner with any literary character or author who would you choose, and what would you eat. Shannon Mayer or Laurel K. Hamilton. I have to know how Laurel writes her sex scenes and how Shannon can write so many different characters and tie her universe together she is truly prolific. A food old fashion Italian family style dinner.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I have done a lot of religious text research and looked at tons of conspiracy theories for book four. So probably the shadow government stuff dealing with the supernatural was pretty weird.
How influential is storytelling to our culture? It’s ingrained in our culture when you think about it, storytelling was our first real source of verbal entertainment.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Be yourself.
What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Change for your audience.
If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? A Fae.
Which authors have influenced you the most? Ann Rice, Laurel K. Hamilton, for their fearlessness. Jim Henson and Walt Disney for their ways of showing how to craft a story.
What is your writing space like? I handwrite all my books first so my space is anywhere.
Tell us about your latest piece? I am editing book four, but we are getting ready to release Book two in which the Fae will see what happens when you can’t remember why you started a war and how it has affected their kin and their human worshippers. We will see the Fae in the end of Tudor England and the beginnings of Queen Mary the first.
What’s your next writing adventure? In book Four the Fae will be in the 21st century and I am currently editing book four and about 25 chapters into book five.
What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work? NO I think the more people who read the better, price and money should never be an obstacle, reading is not a privilege it is a right that everyone has.
What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Depends. if the review is inaccurate and coming from a nasty place and the author feels they are being demeaned it is up to them same if it’s a touching review and they want to say thank you they should.
How do you deal with bad reviews? I am working on dealing with the reviews. I negate the best and the worst, together. Each review has merit. The ones that bother me are when its clear the person has a bias because I am a female author. An example is the subject of romance; I have had reviews about people wanting more romance. I have said book one has no romance. But because I am a female author they feel I should have romance. The reviews are bad because it is someone else’s opinion about me as a female author and their assumption. The book does not really get a fair shot. I have also had a few people have issues with the religious subject matter so I have warned people of the religious undertones some are offended by that and the violence which once again coming from a woman colours their view and the book. The reviews usually say something like “the religious stuff doesn’t bother me but…” and they go one to pan the book. It is clear the religious subject matter was an issue or “The violence is not appropriate for YA readers.” but my book is not listed for YA, I had someone write “for a woman she is angry and violent.” I am a world-class martial artist of course I write great fight scenes! Those are the types of reviews which bother me but, I am learning to deal with them. Everyone in entitled to their opinion and I respect it.
Sort these into order of importance:
With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling? I hope so, I think the big publishing machine has controlled and limited the voices long enough it is time for a change.
Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? no I don’t think physical books are in decline but the way we shop is changing, the versatility of e-books can’t be denied. I think to each their own, I love the way a book feels in my hand and the magic of opening it.
Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? I believe there is still a stigma and lack of validation that a big publisher did not “chose” you to publish so readers are still unsure to spend their hard earned money on you as an author which is unfair, many indie publishers have educated themselves on the ins and outs of the publishing world and do not want to be anchored to the contracts and want control of their works.
What is your greatest success? Sitting down to write and having the guts to introduce my version of the Fae to the world.
How important is writing/art to you? it has become like air.
What are your hopes for the coming year? To have more readers enter into the Veil and perhaps forget their reality for a little while. The greatest joy for an author is to be someone’s tour guide into the world they have created.
Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I dressed up as Wonder Woman every year for the first 10 years of my life every Halloween. Then I went to see Lynda Carter perform a few years ago in concert and I dressed up as Wonder Woman because it was a few days before Halloween. Guess what I was the only one dressed up.
What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’? Wonder Woman I wrote essays about it
In the magical world of Windemere, Clyde was your average vampire thief who ran a gang of criminals. Then, the Great Cataclysm struck in the middle of his execution and transformed him into a new breed of monster. Able to retain his strength in the sun and possessing a heartbeat, Clyde realized he could pass as mortal. He also learned that he could turn old-world vampires into what would come to be known as Dawn Fangs. For years, he has defended the hidden kingdom of Nytefall as he waits for the day vampires and mortals can coexist. It doesn’t help that he really enjoys fighting and keeps looking for trouble.
After years of defending Nytefall and the Dawn Fangs from all enemies, Clyde may have met his ultimate challenge. Matching the destructive vampire in power and ferocity, Alastyre the hunter is the first to make him feel fear. Before he knows what is happening, Clyde has been driven from his home while his friends remain trapped with this new threat. His only hope is to find a way to become stronger and return to reclaim his kingdom. Yet, how can a monster who splits mountains with a single blow become more powerful?
The instant the longbow clatters on the floor, Clyde and Alastyre vanish for a moment and reappear on opposite sides of the courtyard. The force from their failed strikes create matching blasts of air and they whirl around in unison to face each other once more. Another charge results in the combatants crashing together, the shockwave sending a circular wall of sand billowing away from them. Palms pressing against each other, they appear to be evenly matched until Clyde is struck by a swift headbutt. Having been caught by surprise, his back-leg bends and he loses the leverage that was preventing him from being forced away. With his knee on the ground, he is bent backwards and left open for another shot to the face. It is only by increasing his Lord’s Rage that he avoids falling and musters the strength to shove Alastyre to the side. He dislocates his wrists to free his hands from the hunter’s grip and creates four illusions of himself to gain time to heal. With his own body masked to blend into the nearest boulder, the Dawn Fang crouches in order to pounce on the first opportunity. Instead, he has to leap away when his enemy ignores the decoys and punches exactly where he is lurking.
“I’ve studied your tactics, so your tricks are pointless,” Alastyre says as he throws the cracked boulder over his shoulder.
“Guess I’ll have to take you seriously then,” the Dawn Fang retorts with a grin.
Why should readers buy this book?
The only reason to buy this book is because it’s a fun adventure. I write to entertain with humour, exciting action scenes, and colourful characters. Like my other books, War of Nytefall: Savagery is pure, relaxing escapism.
*Please tell us about your publications, specifically the story in this bundle:
I write wonder (sci-fi/fantasy), horror, and humor. The Witching License came out of a self-imposed challenge I did back in February 2019—I wanted to write one short story a week for a month, using a different prompt each week. From that challenge, I got The Witching License, plus an upbeat goat-intensive fantasy adventure called The Capramancer Next Door, and the sole short story to actually come out of the exercise: the dark fantasy Hello, Wizard.
The prompt that produced The Witching License was “regret.” But even though it’s a bittersweet story, I don’t think it’s too dark–I was playing Just Dance for exercise around this time, so the song Land of 1,000 Dances worked its way into the story, along with my (admittedly faded) memories of Venice.
What first prompted you to publish your work?
It was November 2016. I’d finally finished my ginormous science fantasy epic Steel City, Veiled Kingdom.
So I’m sitting there with this manuscript that’s just as long as The Lord of the Rings or The Name of the Wind, and realizing I now have to try and sell it to an agent, who will probably make me chop it up into little pieces and rewrite it to be more “marketable”, even though I’m happy with it as-is, and know it’s meant to be one big book.
And all this would probably take years.
I didn’t want to do that, but I didn’t know what else to do with it! I went a little ways into the traditional publishing process—I even wrote a chapter-by-chapter synopsis and a query letter, intending to submit them to agents.
Then I discovered the posts on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog, Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing and Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing. They completely changed my life!
Reading those, I realized I didn’t need a publisher to get Steel City out to readers. I came to the table with years of experience in HTML, CSS, illustration, and graphic design–a perfectly solid talent stack for going into indie publishing with a $0 budget.
Fast-forward to 2021: the Steel City, Veiled Kingdom ebook has been out for over a year now. The print volumes are being released this year. And while it was in production, I’ve had a whale of a time writing and publishing three other novels, plus other shorter stories!
If writing is a thing you want to do, don’t let anyone stop you!!
How did you become involved in book bundles? Would you recommend it?
I discovered the practice of book bundling through Chuck Heintzelman’s ebook The Author’s Guide to Ebook Bundling. I think bundles are a huge win-win for both authors and readers!
Bundling is like…anthologizing for the digital age: a bundle curator gathers stories from various authors and sells the collection online. Readers who buy the bundle get to sample a variety of authors who are already writing stories about things they like—and at a discount, to boot.
Meanwhile, authors split the profits from the bundle and gain exposure to new readers. And since bundling is relatively easy for authors on the back end, they can spend more time writing new stuff for their readers! Like I said, win-win.
What other bundles are you involved with?
I have stories in Cat Tales Issue #2, Cat Tales Issue #3, Cat Tales Issue #4, Thirteen Stakes, (all curated by Steve Vernon) and now Here Be More Magic. Hooray!
If you had to pick 5 books to take to a desert island which 5 would it be?
Harry Potter (all 7 books count as one unit don’t @ me)
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick
…and a blank book to write and draw in.
If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat.
This is not very literary at all…but I think it’d be fascinating to have dinner with Artemis Fowl’s bodyguard, Butler (from the Artemis Fowl series). Being a military man, I’m sure he’d have a ton of entertaining stories on tap (even just training stories, man!), PLUS all the Butlers are trained chefs so whatever he fixed, you can bet it’d be delicious!
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?
I tend to randomly come across interesting things, and then those interesting things make it into my work…If I don’t know a fact, I Ducky it (use Duck Duck Go search engine).
The wildest subject I’ve researched so far was on body decomposition times for my noir love story Out Where the Sun Always Shines. But one of the most interesting things I’ve researched into is the effect of lightning strikes on living creatures for a scene in Steel City, Veiled Kingdom.
How influential is storytelling to our culture?
Sometimes storytelling reflects culture, but storytelling also shapes culture, there’s no doubt in my mind! It’s been the primary way to transmit information, social mores, histories, etc. throughout time. And storytelling can be so deep!
Look at “The Good Samaritan”–on the one hand, there’s the surface level of the parable, about helping a man on a road, but there’s also deeper meanings and emotions and instructions there that can reach differing people based on their own knowledge and life experiences.
I also subscribe to acting teacher Ed Hooks’ notion that artists are shamans; at our highest level, we tell stories our tribe needs to hear. Or, as he puts it:
If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why?
Dragon, hands-down. Flying + flaming + I could be tall. It would be epic.
Tell us about your latest piece?
The last novel I published was The Capramancer Next Door. In it, a down-to-earth mage and her magical goats protect their new neighbor when he crosses an angry fairy. The lead goat’s name is Elvis, which should give you an idea of the book’s tone.
Also, GoatsLive.com called it “a wonderful read!”, and if that endorsement doesn’t convince you that I have written the Great American Fantasy Goat Novel, nothing ever will.
What’s your next writing adventure?
I’m currently finishing The Guests of Crooked Neck, a direct follow-up to Steel City, Veiled Kingdom…but they’re almost reversals of each other. Where Steel City had a single hero’s viewpoint and spanned four worlds of adventure, Crooked Neck’s events are seen through the eyes of multiple characters in a single small town.
What is the last book you’ve read?
The last book I completed was A Horse and His Boy, by CS Lewis. I would’ve reread the rest of the Narnia series, except I want to read them in paperback and I only own two or three. Sometimes reading on a screen is the last thing I want to do!
I’m currently reading The Heist, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, because a friend lent the hardcover to me. I’m enjoying it, even if I hear everything Nick says in the voice of Lupin the Third!
Danielle Williams is the author of (so far) four novels and nearly a dozen other tales of wonder, horror and humor, including science-fantasy epic Steel City, Veiled Kingdom, creepy apartment caper The Girlfriend Who Wasn’t from Delaware, and the beloved children’s Christmas novel A Gingersnap Cat Christmas.
One night while waiting for her father to get home, ten year old Emi wanders around her home when she accidentally drops her teddy bear into a mysterious chest. Anxiously going in after it, Emi falls into the chest and is teleported to a strange new world. Not long after waking up in this new world she is saved by her teddy bear who has come to life and grown several times her size. During her journey to find a way back home Emi meets several new friends including a royal guard, a scientist, and many others. Her focus changes from looking for a way home once she begins uncovering clues that her father may actually be in the strange land also! With the help of her new friends Emi embarks on a journey that will change her life forever.
Ian Primeaux is a new independent author from a small town in Louisiana. His first book “Emi” is the beginning of a new fantasy series reminiscent of adventures like “Alice in Wonderland” or “Wizard of Oz” with a few components inspired by classic role playing games. Apart from working a full-time management job, Ian spends most of his free time writing and crafting extensions of the world created in “Emi” to ensure that there will always be a new story ready to be told.