Showing posts with label book launch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book launch. Show all posts

Friday, 29 May 2020

BOOK RELEASE: SOLANGE an ebook by Linzé

Will she get the future she wants?

M/F/M Erotic vampire romance (18+ only)

  Solange knows that she is not like the average woman who frequents the bar of her two vampire lovers. When the vampire king's messenger stirs everything into a near disaster, she knew things were about to change forever.

  She knows that being human in a threesome that includes two deadly and powerful male vampires will take everything she has to keep them together. 


  Solange never lacked courage or intelligence, and demanding to see the king could result in something that she may not be prepared for: the enforcement of the centuries-old execution decision.

  The history behind the decision made her even more determined to prevent their relationship from being destroyed over a long-dead woman's mistake.


  Is her courage and commitment to this relationship enough to convince the king or is there another way to get what she wants?

Buy links

Smashwords     Apple Books    B&N    Kobo


Sunday, 3 March 2019

Pre-order and Cover reveal: REFLECT. GROW. BECOME by Linzé Brandon

Pre-order on: SMASHWORDS

Keeping a journal is a personal experience, and yet many people are reluctant to start or quick to give up the practice for various reasons.

This book is a personal reflection on the history of the author's experience of more than thirty years of journaling. But it is also an exploration of some new techniques that young or aspiring journal writers may be unfamiliar with. Exploring the various techniques will give new insight on how methods, other than writing, can assist in a journey of personal reflection and growth.


The contents is broken down into six sections:
1. Background and history of journaling;
2. Creative journaling;
3. Journal writing and mindfulness in the NOW focused journal;
4. Reflecting on the past, and the future in the FUTURE/PAST journal;
5. Other kinds of journals not reflective in themselves, but which can be used in combination with the reflective styles; and
6. Practical guidelines on using both handwritten and electronic journals.

The various techniques are explained, and exercises are given at the end of each section for the reader's own reflection and experience.
Links and references are provided for further reading.


Pre-order link: SMASHWORDS

PS: Subscribers to my newsletter will receive a discount voucher in the next newsletter out on 11 March 2019.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Book Feature: TALES FROM THE LAKE - Volume 5 (pre-order)

“If you’re a short story reader, this is an absolute must-read. Volume five is even better than the four preceding volumes, which is a very hard bar to hit. Go buy this!” — John R. Little, author of The Memory TreeMiranda, and Soul Mates

😱 PRE-ORDER LINK: http://mybook.to/Lake5

The Legend Continues…
In the spirit of popular Dark Fiction and Horror anthologies such as Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, and the best of Stephen King’s short fiction, comes Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales from The Lake anthologies.
Where are the real horrors? Whether they be a family member returning from the dead, exploring the depths of depression or the deterioration of the mind, you’ll find them here.
This anthology contains twenty-two tales and three poems to elicit unexpected emotions, to bring you into the story. Welcome to my lake, where dreams really do come true…
As nightmares!
😱 PRE-ORDER LINK: http://mybook.to/Lake5
This fifth volume of speculative fiction contains:
Poetry:
  • “From the Mouths of Plague-Mongers” by Stephanie M. Wytovich – A wonderful look at our world and the cruel reality of it all.
  • “Malign and Chronic Recreation” by Bruce Boston – Where Internet addiction meets sexual addiction.
  • “Final Passage” by Bruce Boston – A breakdown of mental acuity as it leads to the inevitability of death.
Short stories:
  • “Always After Three” by Gemma Files – A young couple discovers that in a downtown condo you almost never know who your neighbours are, or what they might be doing.
  • “In the Family” by Lucy A. Snyder – A former child actress reveals dark family secrets to her long-lost niece.
  • “Voices Like Barbed Wire” by Tim Waggoner – Sometimes forgetting is more painful than remembering.
  • “The Flutter of Silent Wings” by Gene O’Neill – A heartbreaking tribute to a Shirley Jackson classic.
  • “Guardian” by Paul Michael Anderson – Even creatures beyond time and space need friendship.
  • “Farewell Valencia” by Craig Wallwork – When you’ve got no reason to live, there’s a hotel that can give you every reason to die. So book in, unpack, and prepare to be checked out, forever.
  • “A Dream Most Ancient and Alone” by Allison Pang – A lake mermaid with a penchant for eating children forms a tenuous friendship with an abused girl trying to escape her past.
  • “The Monster Told Me To” by Stephanie M. Wytovich – In order for Bria to deal with her past, she must confront the ghosts of her present.
  • “Dead Bodies Don’t Scream” by Michelle Ann King – If the universe won’t give her a miracle, Allie will make one for herself. But dark magic has a price, and paying it is going to hurt.
  • “The Boy” by Cory Cone – Grief-stricken from the sudden loss of her husband, a young woman fears she may lose her son as well, if she hasn’t already.
  • “Starve a Fever” by Jonah Buck – Fleeing down a bayou highway with a sick criminal in the backseat, a getaway driver must sate his passenger’s horrifying needs while evading the police.
  • “Umbilicus” by Lucy Taylor – A father becomes involved in a scheme to rescue a friend’s lost son—with terrifying results.
  • “Nonpareil” by Laura Blackwell – Maisie’s wedding cake business needs every client it can get—especially rich ones—but between the groom’s unpleasant family and the mysterious bride’s strange requests, Maisie has a tough job baking a cake that will please everyone.
  • “The Midland Hotel” by Marge Simon – If walls of a hotel could talk is one thing, but what if it happens to be a sentient collector of souls?
  • “The Weeds and the Wildness Yet” by Robert Stahl – Still reeling over the sudden death of his wife, Charlie stumbles across a mysterious object at a yard sale—a monkey’s paw, like the one in the legendary story. Despite the terrible events that befall that fictional family, he can’t help but want to give it a try.
  • “The Color of Loss and Love” by Jason Sizemore – A couple set out to rescue an unfamiliar couple, only to face an airborne disease that overtook the world.
  • “The Loudest Silence” by Meghan Arcuri – A woman is trapped by her worst enemy: her mind.
  • “The Followers” by Peter Mark May – The Followers are slow, but they never tire. Nor do they or have to stop to drink, eat or sleep like us living. They are on a relentless death march and we are only delaying the inevitable.
  • “A Bathtub at the End of the World” by Lane Waldman – A little girl plays with her toys in a locked bathroom. Everything is fine, except for the zombies outside.
  • “Twelve by Noon” by Joanna Parypinski – An old farmer goes about his routine tending to the nine scarecrows that preside over his field, when three college student show up and cause a strange disturbance.
  • “Hollow Skulls” by Samuel Marzioli – When Orson’s son is born, the memory of a tragedy creeps back into his life, threatening his very sanity.
  • “Maggie” by Andi Rawson – An intense, disturbing relationship between love and murder is exposed.
With an introduction by editor Kenneth W. Cain. Cover art by Ben Baldwin. Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing – Tales from The Darkest Depths.
😱 PRE-ORDER LINK: http://mybook.to/Lake5


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Book Feature: Provocative (White Lies Book One) by Lisa Renee Jones


Provocative (White Lies Book One) by Lisa Renee Jones Release Date: April 18th
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book one in the sexy and intense new White Lies duet by Lisa Renee Jones!

There are those moments in life that are provocative in their very existences, that embed in our minds forever, and sometimes our very souls. They change us, mold us, maybe even save us. But some are darker, dangerous. If we allow them to, they control us. Seduce us. Quite possibly even destroy us.

The moment I walked into Sonoma’s Reid Winter Winery and Vineyard and made eye contact with Faith Winter for the first time was one of those moments. Provocative because I know at least one of her secrets, of which, I suspect she has many. Provocative because she believes I was a stranger to her when we met, but I am not. Provocative because I sought her out, with no intention of touching her. But now I have. Now I want her. Now I have to have her. But that changes nothing. It doesn’t change why I came for her.

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
Hi everyone!
I’m so excited that PROVOCATIVE is available now! Just a few notes: if you order PROVOCATIVE this week only you will get $1 off and it will only be $2.99 - I will be increasing this price at the end of the week! You’ll also receive the FREE novella Rebecca’s Forgotten Journals (these are NEW journal entries) in the back of your copy!

PS - if you missed your chance to receive any of my bonus scenes from Amy & Liam, Chris & Sara, or Ella & Kayden, this is your last chance to get them! Register your order of PROVOCATIVE here - http://bit.ly/2pkQ49b and you’ll receive them early next week!

Check out the Trailer: http://bit.ly/ProvocativeTrailer

READ CHAPTER ONE ➜ http://lisareneejones.com/duet

Read PROVOCATIVE Today!
Amazon US:
Amazon UK:

Book two: SHAMELESS will be out on July 11th!

GIVEAWAY
Prize: $100 Amazon gift card


About the Author:
author. Lisa Renee Jones
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series. Suzanne Todd (producer of Alice in Wonderland) on the INSIDE OUT series: Lisa has created a beautiful, complicated, and sensual world that is filled with intrigue and suspense. Sara’s character is strong, flawed, complex, and sexy - a modern girl we all can identify with.
In addition to the success of Lisa's INSIDE OUT series, Lisa has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa is presently working on a dark, edgy new series, Dirty Money, for St. Martin's Press.
Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by the Dallas Women's Magazine. In 1998 Lisa was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.
Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at www.lisareneejones.com and she is active on Twitter and Facebook daily.

Connect with the Author:
Twitter: @LisaReneeJones
Stay in touch with Lisa by joining her mailing list:

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Cover Reveal: UNSURPASSED by Charity Parkerson


Charity Parkerson, Unsurpassed, award winning author, erotic romance, cover reveal, No Rival series

Book 1 in the No Rival series

For months, Aubree has been obsessed with two men—best friends, Max and Ryan. She’s resigned herself to having her desires be nothing more than a late night fantasy. When the pair invites her to a weekend party hosted by a famous MMA champion, Drew Alexander, she accepts without a qualm. She never expects the two men plan to make her secret longings into reality. Unfortunately, that’s only half their agenda. When Aubree learns the men’s true intentions, she turns to Drew for help.

Drew is unlike anyone she’s ever met. He’s fun and playful. Dark and brooding. He’s everything she’s been searching for rolled up in a delicious package. Unfortunately, Max and Ryan aren’t finished with her yet. Aubree has to choose—does she cling to the friendship she’s had with Max and Ryan, or risk everything on one man who could make all her dreams come true?

Amazon universal buy link: http://mybook.to/Unsurpassed

Author Bio

Charity Parkerson, authorCharity Parkerson is an award winning and multi-published author with several companies. Born with no filter from her brain to her mouth, she decided to take this odd quirk and insert it in her characters. 

*2015 Readers' Favorite Award Winner
*Winner of 2, 2014 Readers' Favorite Awards
*2015 Passionate Plume Award Finalist
 
*2013 Readers' Favorite Award Winner
*2013 Reviewers' Choice Award Winner
*2012 ARRA Finalist for Favorite Paranormal Romance
*Five-time winner of The Mistress of the Darkpath

Connect with her online:

--Website: charityparkerson.com
--Facebook: facebook.com/authorCharityParkerson
--facebook.com/TheMenofSin
--Twitter: twitter.com/CharityParkerso

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Thursday, 1 September 2016

Book Release: METRO DIARIES - 2 by Namrata

About the Book:

Give life another chance. Laugh a little longer. let go of your past. Hold onto what you love. In short LIVE rather than just exist!



Some told, some untold, some heard and some unheard - this collection of stories will make you look at life in a different light and make you ponder over its definition of it till now.


Goodreads I Amazon






Reviews for Metro Diaries 1:

After touching your hearts with 'Metro Diaries - Love Classics' she is back now with stories that will redefine life for you!

The stories in Metro Diaries - Love Classics are free from any trappings of youthful slang and fashionable language stunts. These young adults are speaking to the readers with Namrata’s maturity shining through, and Namrata’s ideas of love. - Sakshi Nanda 

The language is fairly pleasant to read and the elaborate discussions between characters in each story must have taken a lot of work – because the most difficult job of all authors is to bring out human emotions in proper words. Thankfully, Namrata has concentrated upon it very well! - Dhivya Balaji

About the Author:

Namrata is A Lost Wanderer who loves travelling the length and breadth of the world. A published author in various anthologies and magazines she enjoys capturing the magic of life in her words. She is forever in pursuit of a new country and a new story.

Contact the Author:

Website * Facebook * Twitter



Monday, 1 August 2016

Pre-order your copy: NEGOTIATING THE MAZE by Linzé Brandon


Pre-order your signed paperback copy @ R100

~ Delivery options ~
(postage R84 South Africa only)
(Postnet to Postnet R99 anywhere in South Africa)
(courier to your door starting at R185 South Africa only)

Live in or around Pretoria?
Collect your copy from the author (ask for the details)

Why not attend the 2-day course and learn more first-hand?
Details coming soon!

Monday, 6 June 2016

Book Review: THE KNOW PRESERVATION by Ed Kurst

The Kindle edition
It has been a while since I read a sci-fi novel, so it was with some uncertainty that I volunteered to read and review THE KNOW PRESERVATION.

Quantum physics, nuclear reactors, particle accelerators, the past, the present and the future all rolled into one heck of a ride.
The start of the story will leave you confused and wondering what is going to happen with all the characters and their agendas. I quickly realised that to keep track of what is going on, and it was a good idea to read as much of the beginning as possible. There are many characters in this story and keeping track of them had been a challenge. Often authors assign names, and therefore identities, to unimportant characters, and it creates havoc for the reader in trying to keep them straight.
In The Know Preservation, there are nineteen characters of which seventeen play a major role in the story. The other two are not featured so prominently, but they are important to the backstory to understand the history. It wasn't always clear who was who since the author sometimes used only their first names or last names during introductory chapters. It took a chapter or three to start connecting the names to figure out which characters were in the scene or dialogue.
I liked John Preston, the main character. He is an engineer and was portrayed in ways that could only be described as typical of engineers. His character always acted within the constraints set upon him by the author. His physical limitations resulting from his health issues were offset against his intellect - his biggest asset being employed in the plot. He wasn't a soldier, and neither was his character ever changed into one even in the combat scenes.
I also liked Stacey Hanson. Her determination and will to win were portrayed in every action and decision in the story. You understand her motivation and drive soon, and you have to take your hat off to her in the way she manages to do what is required.
You also get to meet the great Albert Einstein. His character flows seamlessly into the plot and his contribution to it is quite believable. Some of his travels with John delivered amusing scenes.
John and Stacey's journeys into the past and future are fraught with problems as they start to unravel secrets that have been kept from them. They learn about the real reasons two particle accelerators were built on opposite sides of the globe. They uncover the role-players, the double agents, the undercover agents, the horrors of the past, and the decisions that were in the distant past made to set generations of people on a path towards averting a catastrophe.
As soon as the action starts, the story becomes easier to read and yet the tension proportionally ramps up to throat tightening levels. What are they going to do? Will they take the risks to change the outcome? Will the risks be worth the price they could pay?
The action in the story is handled with aplomb and an exceptional eye for detail. The resulting one-on-one combat scenes are graphic, and you will feel the pain, the suspense and in some case the helplessness the characters are struggling with as they try to fulfill their mission.
Some of the other characters will gain your sympathy, yet others will make you cringe in horror at the things they do or have done. The good guys are not perfect people, which makes their characters so much more likable.
As an engineer myself, I love the humour and have a huge appreciation for the author's handling of the science in the story. It might not be easy for every reader to get the science (fiction) in the story, but I suggest that you battle on as the story will unfold in more palatable scenes.
The writing was well executed, and the story moves forward at a good pace. Despite the complications of the scientific terminology in the story, it was a terrific read and a thrill ride from the first page.
The first chapters are short, and it will help the reader to read them in one sitting to get a feel for the story and the multiple plot lines. My notes were detailed for the first twenty chapters to try and keep track, but after that the storyline flowed, and the different plot lines started to flow together or made more sense as the story unfolded.
The ending was written to leave a well-defined start for the next book, and yet not so open-ended that you feel dissatisfied with the result. It is the first book in a trilogy, and I look forward to the next book. I can safely say that Ed Kurst has at least one fan.

My rating of The Know Preservation by Ed Kurst:

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Book Launch: Mosaics: A Collection of Independent Women Vol 1

Today's the day, all the excitement, all the anticipation, and now it's finally here. And don't forget to enter the mega giveaway, including a Kindle Fire, a $50 gift card, and a paperback library, at the end of this post!
A project focused on bringing women's voices to readers and celebrating the stories they have to tell. Including stories by Keyan BowesCarol CaoChelo Diaz-LuddenSarina DorieNaomi ElsterJordanne FullerAri Harradine​Karen HeulerL.S. Johnson, Tonya LiburdKelsey MakiJulia RayPatty SomloP.K. TylerDeborah WalkerKeira Michelle Telford​Kim WellsElizabeth Wolf, and Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

Mosaics: A Collection of Independent Women Vol 1

Buy Your Copy Now! Amazon.com

Mosaic CoverMosaics: A Collection of Independent Women will inspire and shock you with its multi-faceted look at the history and culture surrounding femininity. If gender is a construct, this anthology is the house it built. Look through its many rooms, some bright and airy, some terrifying- with monsters lurking in the shadows.

Mosaics Volume One features twenty self-identified female authors writing about Intersectionality, including women of color, and members of the disability, trans, and GLB/ GSD* (Gender and Sexual Diversities) communities. We have curated amazing short fiction, flash fiction, poetry, essays, and art. It’s personal, political, and a great read.

This collection includes Hugo Award Nominees, Tiptree Shortlists, Pushcart Prize Winners, USA Today Bestsellers, indie superstars and traditionally published talents alike. The anthology combines leading and new voices all proclaiming their identity as Women, and their ability to Roar.

Buy Your Copy Now! Amazon.com


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 Buy Your Copy Now! Amazon.com

Friday, 6 November 2015

Book Release: FAITH OF THE NINE by Sachin Dev


About the Book:

The Third Yuga is slowly drawing to a close. Nam – the greatest Empire on Janani – is going to face some fierce winds of change. Seers foresee omens of death and destruction in the return of the Banished One – A God who will claim the ashes of this world as revenge. While out in the streets, rumours abound - of older forgotten powers stirring.
Caught in this maelstrom of a power struggle between Gods are three ordinary lives: General Fateh, the most celebrated soldier in Nam who starts to question his faith, Ishan – a gifted orphan who struggles to comprehend his destiny and Abhaya – a young monk in search of truths about this world. Their choices and actions will shape the destiny of this scarred world that becomes the playground for vindictive Gods.
In a world where Rakshasas arise out of left-over traces of Maaya and twilight forms the portal to countless worlds around us for Daityas and Yakshis to dance through, a God is only as powerful as those who believe.And when Gods rise, faith of men will be tested…And broken.

Buy Links:

eBook: Newshunt * Google Play



Fantasy for Adults
When you usually ask around for recommendations for Fantasy for adults, you end with Game of Thrones at the top of the list. Followed perhaps by scores of Shannara books. (Which by the way
are still coming out! Terry Brooks is a phenomenal author!)

Because for most of us ( especially more so in a country like India) we are wary of being found reading a book whose cover looks like Chandrakanta the old Doordarshan series we used to watch as kids. So we still get by with the Harry Potter series and sometimes don’t think much beyond.
So I’ve been reading only fantasy (or broadly speculative fiction that counts Fantasy as one of the main streams – Sci-fi & Horror being the other mainstay besides countless sub-genres) for the last fifteen years now. Ever since I picked up LOTR & Dune ( by Frank Herbert. Masterpiece! ) in college. I’ve suffered looks of disdain by colleagues/ fellow travellers as I was nose-deep in some fantasy western (Namely – Dark Tower Series by Stephen King. Yes. He writes stuff outside of horror too!) But I cared less than the backside of a rodent for such. I was living in a different world and I was loving it.
So this, is an attempt to list down some fantastic gems I discovered during this journey of mine and to let the broader world be aware that Fantasy has come a long way from the tales of a young farm boy setting out to find his destiny (which involved throwing a beautiful ring into the volcanic fires of Mordor!) I will also try and slot them into different sub genres as I know them. Makes it easier for recommending, right?

Epic fantasy.  Magic that will leave you spell bound. Political manoeuvrings. Tricky backstabbing. Adventure. Kingdoms or worlds at stake. All this and more!
Mistborn Trilogy & the on-going Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson. The on-going series is a massive ten part magnum opus and it reflects all things great and fun about the genre. Cannot recommend enough of this guy. He is prolific when it comes to writing. Churning out at least 1-2 books every year. Year after year.
Promise of Blood ( Powder Mage trilogy # 1) by Brian McClellan. Sometimes called Flintlock fantasy This guy is setting the fire to the keg with this explosive debut novel in this series that deserves to be read more.
Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch – Chronicling the life and adventures of a thief and petty crook, Lock Lamora and his friends, this is also one stunning piece of work that any lover of mayhem and adventure should definitely be getting his hands on.
Lies of Lock Lamora sets up the rollicking pace of this series and it’s on book-3 now – with the rest of the books eagerly awaited. You should jump onto this ship. 

Grim Dark Fantasy. This is modern fantasy with a lot of writers jumping into bandwagon. Brutal, gritty, splashed with blood and gore – and darker themes explored.
Malazan Book of the Fallen – 10 book series that is COMPLETE and mind blowing by Steven Eriksen.
Any book by Joe Abercrombie. This guy is truly the emperor of this sub-genre with his brilliant books setting out to explore darker spaces within a man’s mind.
Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence. Be warned, this books may be a bit too intense but are shining example of what a writer can do to twist the readers into his dark worlds. It features a 11-year old sociopath who sets out to conquer the world.
Prince of Nothing trilogy by R Scott Bakker. If you like your fantasy philosophical, dark and heavy this is your one stop. His second trilogy is incomplete and eagerly awaited.

Military fantasy.  Yes, there is something like this. And Myke Cole’s first trilogy starting off with Control Point is a wonderfully accessible entry point into such worlds. Combining the best of military fiction with fantasy worlds.

Silk Road Fantasy. Again a recent phenomenon of readers getting bored of medieval European settings for their fantasy tales. Notable books are Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay,  Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed, The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu.
There are multiple other books that are genre-benders mashing up the good things in one genre with another. It’s a gold mine out there and I would urge all readers who ultimately like a good story to
keep exploring beyond the walls and gates of Hogwarts. 
  
About the Author:

Sachin discovered Tolkien in his teens, alternative rock as a new adult and digital marketing in pretty much his late twenties. These still form a large wedge in his circle of life. Travel, radio and theatre have also figured in that ever-expanding and diminishing circle.
On perhaps a more prosaic note, he is an engineer from BITS Pilani and holds an MBA from Indian School of Business. Attribute the love for numbers and pie-charts to this. He is currently based in Bangalore and happily married to Harini. He spends an inordinately large amount of time chasing after his two dogs (who love the free life a bit too much) when he is not busy dreaming up fantasy worlds full of monsters. And beautiful Yakshis, of course.
He can usually be found ranting on twitter under the handle @xenosach, devouring books and talking about them on his blog. You can always stalk him online at his official website.


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Book Release: SOUL WARRIOR by Falguni Kothari

About the Book:

Twisted myths. Discretion advised. 

Fight fate, or succumb to destiny?
In the dark Age of Kali, the Soul Warrior alone stands guard over the Human Realm, protecting its denizens from evil-willed asuras or demons. When a trick of fate appoints him guru to a motley crew of godlings, he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment. Suddenly, Lord Karna is not only battling the usual asuras with sinister agendas, but also rebellious students and a fault-ridden past.
Spanning the cosmic realms of mythic India, here is a tale of a band of supernatural warriors who come together over a singular purpose: the salvation of Karna’s secret child.


Book Links:

Kobo * iBooks * Amazon US * Amazon UK * Amazon Canada

Read an Excerpt:

CHAPTER ZERO
DWANDA-YUDDHA: THE DUEL

The Himalayan Mountains.
Five thousand years ago.

Absolute darkness shrouded the Human Realm, and had for three days and three nights. Some believed the occurrence was prophetic, like the prolonged amavasya or new moon night that had heralded the Great Kuru War two thousand years ago. The war had given birth to the dark Age of Kali, the age of asura. In contrast, hope was ripe that this event would trigger the Age of Light. But the Bard wasn’t here to succumb to superstition. 
The first day without the sun’s light had spread confusion and chaos across the realm. The second day had brought desperation in the breasts of humans and fear in the belly of Celestials. The third day—today—was a feast for the asuras. Death lay everywhere. 
The human world burned without its sun. How soon before the Heavens went up in flames?
The Bard’s troubled eyes reread the last line. Then he deliberately scratched it off, lifting his long, pointed talon from the parchment made of dry palm leaf. With a sigh, he rested his aching hand on his trembling thigh. He would spare a moment to ease his body, and his mind from the strain of observation and due recordkeeping. If he didn’t, he’d forget his duty as Witness of the Cosmos, and begin to question fate. 
Despite the fire that crackled close to his right knee, and the feathered form of his upper body, he was cold. An icy wind had settled around the Pinnacle of Pinnacles, where he sat cross-legged on a seat made of rock and snow. He’d chosen this perch because it gave him an impartial view of the events happening in the world. He was the Bard, entrusted with keeping the Canons of the Age of Kali, just as the Soul Warrior was entrusted with keeping the Human Realm safe from asuras. Would they both fail in their duty today?
The Bard shook off the heavy despair the darkness had brought into the world. He mustn’t judge. He shouldn’t question. He would sharpen the talon on his forefinger, dip it into the vessel of ink kept warm by the fire, and write this tale. That was all he could do. Be the witness to history.
So he raised his feathered hand and began to write again while his eyes, sparked with power, knowledge and magic, saw clearly events unfolding from great distances. A thousand kilometers to his right, Indra, the God of War and Thunder, fought the Dragon. Indra did not fare well. But that didn’t concern the Bard as much as the clash between the Soul Warrior and the Stone Demon. Over and over, his eagle eyes were drawn to the duel taking place in the heart of the world, not only because it was a magnificent battle to behold, for it was, but because its outcome would decide mankind’s destiny.
The Soul Warrior was more than a great warrior. Karna was a great soul. Fair, honorable, brave and resilient, he was the perfect protector of the Human Realm. Of course, there were other reasons he’d been chosen to fill the office of Soul Warrior—there always were when Gods and demons were involved. But Karna’s existence was a testament to righteous action and if anyone could bring back the day, it would be him. 
But how did one vanquish stone, the Bard wondered?
Avarice and cruelty, two nefarious desires, had made Vrtra and Vala attack the Human Realm. Three days ago the Dragon had swallowed the Seven Rivers in the north, and the Stone Demon had imprisoned the Sun God, his daughter, and all the cattle of the region in his cave.
The Bard paused his writing as a thin vein of lightning winked across the skies, but without the accompanying roar. Indra’s strength waned. His thunderbolt hadn’t left Vrtra screaming in pain this time. The Bard spared a moment’s attention on the duel, just enough to note that the Maruts, the Celestial Storm-gods, waited in the clouds to rescue their god-king in case of a calamity. Indra would survive even in defeat. Of that, the Bard was sure.
But Karna had no one at his back. His might and god-powers had depleted without the sun’s healing warmth and light. His divine astras, weapons, had not slowed the Stone Demon down, at all. Only the conviction that he could not fail his godsire, his sister, and the innocents under his protection drove him now. His birth family had once abandoned him to his fate, but he would not abandon them to theirs—such was the greatness of Karna.
The Bard crossed out the last observation. No questions. No judgment. No praise, either. The canons would be free of all emotion. He wasn’t here to embellish history or glorify the history-makers, as some bards were wont to do. 
It wasn’t embellishment to write that the foothills of Cedi were drenched in the Soul Warrior’s blood. Or observe the gushing wounds on his body, despite his armor, that would make the hardiest of warriors bellow in agony, but not him. It wasn’t embellishment to write that the Heavens were empty for the Celestials had come to Earth to watch the battle, firelight cupped in their palms to light the warrior’s way. 
The Naga, the Serpent People, also looked on, hissing from the mouth of the portal that led to their underground realm beneath the hills. The Serpent King will not choose a side. Vrtra and Vala were half Naga, after all. All across the Human Realm, demons roamed free, taking advantage of the darkness and preying on human flesh and human souls. It was a terrible moment in history. The asuras had the upper hand in the eponymous age of Demon Kali.
Vala did not have arms and half a leg, but still he came at Karna. He had an ace up his sleeve. There were plenty of creatures about, an entire mountain close at hand. He began to chant the spell of soul transference. It was the darkest of all magic, the possession of another’s soul. Soon, he would be whole again and stronger than before.
Battered and bleeding, the Soul Warrior veered away from the Stone Demon. He leapt over boulders and charred vegetation. The onlookers called him a coward. Had he forfeit the duel? Has he forsaken mankind? 
Karna dove for Manav-astra, the spear of mankind, he’d thrown aside yesterday after his bow, Vijaya, had shattered under repeated use. In one smooth motion, he rolled, picked up the astra, coming up in the spear-thrower’s stretch. His tattered lower garment billowed about him as a gust of wind shot through the air. His muscled torso glistened with blood and sweat, tightened as he pulled the arm holding the spear back. 
He meant to throw Manav-astra at Vala. A futile attempt, to be sure? As long as Vala was made of stone, broken or not, his body was impregnable. Karna should have waited for Vala to transfer his soul to an onlooker. Then Karna should have vanquished the possessed creature. 
Taunting laughter reverberated through the foothills of Cedi. Vala had reached the same conclusion. The Celestials looked at each other in angry silence, unable to interfere. A dwanda-yuddha duel was fought between two opponents of equal size and strength alone. The humans hadn’t stopped screaming in three days, the din simply background noise now. 
The Bard scribbled the observations onto the parchment in no particular order. He wished he was a painter, for surely this was a picture worth a thousand words.
The demon hobbled toward the warrior, who stood still as stone with his arm drawn taught behind him. Then finally, with a roaring chant the Soul Warrior shifted his weight from his back leg to his front and let fly Manav-astra at the Stone Demon with all his remaining might. 
Karna didn’t wait to see the ramifications of his action. And there were plenty to come. He ran into the mountain cave to free Vala’s hostages. Within moments the rock face rent in half, and bright streams of light speared through the terrible darkness. A new day had dawned on the Human Realm after three days of perpetual night.
The sun’s power was too bright, too full of hope. Yet, the Bard looked on pensively, wondering if the Soul Warrior knew this wasn’t a victory. It was merely a reprieve.

About the Author:

Falguni Kothari is a New York-based South Asian author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She’s published in India in contemporary romance with global e-book availability; Bootie and the Beast (Harlequin Mills and Boon) and It’s Your Move, Wordfreak! (Rupa & Co.), and launches a mythic fantasy series with Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali, #1)

I’m embarrassed to admit how many social media accounts I own:
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