May 11, 2016

M9B Friday Reveal Assets- ARGOS Cover & Chapter 1 by Phillip W. Simpson





Here’s a message from the author.

This was a labor of love for me. I have always loved dogs and stories of dog's courage and loyalty. Hearing or reading these never fail to make me cry. Particularly stories of dogs like Grey Friar's bobby and Hachiko. And then there's the story of Argos - probably the most famous and loyal dog of all time. In Homer's Odyssey, there's literally only one page dedicated to the death of Argos and for me, it was the most moving scene in the whole book.

I had to write this book, not only for myself but for all the dogs I've loved throughout my life. I had no choice in the matter.

I love this cover because it's evocative and moody (much like the cover to my last book, Minotaur). It also begs certain questions: why is a dog in a boat being rowed across a river by a heavily cowled boatman? Those who are familiar with the classics will know the boatman is Charon and the river is the Styx. Therefore the dog is in Hades. But why? A dog has no place in Hades so what makes Argos so special? I love covers that make the reader ask these types of questions.

ARGOS

Author: Phillip W. Simpson
Pub. Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook

Loyalty has no limits

Raised from a pup by Greek hero, Odysseus, Argos has come to learn the true meaning of love and loyalty. But when Odysseus leaves for the Trojan War, little does Argos know it will be 20 years before he sees his master again.
With Odysseus gone his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, are easy prey for neighboring kings and the Gods themselves.

But Argos was tasked to keep them safe until Odysseus returns and that is a promise he is determined to keep – whatever the cost.
Told through his eyes, Argos recounts the story of his   life – his pain, his joy, his triumphs and failures; his endurance in the face of hardships almost too great to believe.

Above all else, Argos strives to do what is right – and to remain loyal to his King when all others have given up hope. To live long enough to see his beloved master one more time.

This epic myth of love and loyalty proves that a dog really is man's best friend.

Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD |Goodreads



Excerpt

Prologue

So this is what it’s like to die?

I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly isn’t this slow humiliating descent into darkness. My body aches, bruised by the fists and feet of Penelope’s suitors and servants, joints painfully swollen by age.

Flies swarm around me, attracted by the stench of the manure pile beneath me, or perhaps sensing the death that is slowly creeping toward me. If I am honest, they don’t annoy me so much. My vision is cloudy at best, eyes misted over by the onset of time. I can barely see their dark flickering shapes and I haven’t the strength to dislodge them when they land. To try and maintain a little dignity, I make the odd attempt to flick my tail or ears but both the flies and I know my heart isn’t in it.

Two old men walk past, leading an ox and open wagon through the palace gates. I lift my head slightly in an effort to see them better, more out of habit than any great interest. I sniff the air, trying to gauge what is in the wagon. All I can smell is feces. My sense of smell, almost overcome by what lies beneath me, fails, and I silently curse my aging, traitorous senses. If I had to guess, I would say they are farmers, bringing produce for the palace kitchens, probably to feed the greedy, slovenly mouths of the suitors who buzz around Penelope much like the flies above my dying body.

The two old men spare me a glance. Although my eyes are not what they once were, I detect sympathy in their gazes. Perhaps they recognize me for who I am or who I once was. Or perhaps not. Maybe they just see an old dog dying on a steaming pile of manure.

Hours later, two other men pass by, dressed in finery that makes them anything but farm hands. I recognize their faces but I would know them regardless by their swagger. Two of Penelope’s suitors come to steal another man’s wife. I hate them with every ounce of my being. If I were even five years younger, I would launch myself at them and tear their arms and legs off with great bites of my powerful jaws. But I am not five years younger. I am old and incapable of doing anything but glare at them balefully.

Like the two older men earlier, they look in my direction. One of them says something I can’t quite catch to the other and they both laugh. The taller suitor reaches into a pouch at his side and pulls out an object that he throws in my direction. It lands off the manure pile, well out of paw reach. I suspect it is a piece of dried meat.

“Here,” he says, laughing. “Eat this. If you can.”

His companion joins in the laughter and they disappear through the palace gates knowing full well that I will not be able to reach the tasty morsel. I wouldn’t eat it in any case. I would much rather starve to death than receive salvation from the likes of them.

Directly overhead, the sun beats mercilessly down. Waves of heat wash over me and warms the manure pile even more. The pile of droppings from mules and oxen are a mixed blessing. For the last two nights, my bed of filth has kept me warm and soothed my aching joints. During the day, however, things are altogether different. The heat is stifling, unbearable, and even I, well accustomed to the most repulsive of scents, am sickened.

My tongue lolls slackly from my open mouth. It is almost too much effort to pant but I know that if I do not, I will die from the relentless heat. I am no longer hungry but would give almost anything for a bowl of cool water with which to quench my thirst. Perhaps even a tub that I could plunge my whole body into—something I would never have done as a young pup. All my life, I have avoided baths, but now I am driven almost crazy by the thought of indulging in something I once hated.

A bath would have an additional benefit. The fleas and ticks that infest my body would probably decide that my scrawny carcass isn’t worth the effort and depart for more luxurious quarters. I would not miss them. The flies I can tolerate, but the incessant biting of these degenerate little creatures is almost more than I can bear. If I had the strength, I would obliterate them with mighty paw strokes.

When I was younger, Penelope or Telemachus would sometimes gently comb them from my body while I lay before the fire in the great hall of Odysseus. Just the thought of such times sends a pleasurable tremor coursing through my body.

I daydream about what they would do if they knew I was lying here, dying and surrounded by filth and decay. Penelope would gather my head into her soft hands and gently kiss my forehead. Telemachus, my human brother, would hug me and rub salves into my open wounds. Together, they would ease my pain and comfort me like they have many times throughout my life.

But those times are long gone. Penelope is locked in her rooms in the palace of Ithaca, besieged by unwelcome suitors. Telemachus left the island months ago to seek out his father, my master, the great hero Odysseus. It is probably a futile quest. Odysseus has been gone for twenty years and, if the words of the palace staff are to be believed, long dead. But neither I nor Telemachus believe it, cannot bring ourselves to believe it. I have heard from the gods themselves that he lives, and whilst they like to play with the lives of mortals, I want to believe them. A man like Odysseus does not simply just die. He is destined for more than death.

It is he that keeps my soul harnessed to my body. The loyalty toward my master and a forlorn hope that he will return to me before I am claimed by death. All of my contemporaries have been in the grave for years already. Not me. It is this loyalty and hope that has kept me going for twenty years.

What I would give to see him one last time.

Chapter One


I awake only to discover that I have died. I am surrounded by gloomy silence. The landscape is devoid of features—or color for that matter. Mist washes over me, tendrils swirling together to form almost recognizable shapes and figures. I can hear whispered voices but from which direction they come, I’m not sure.

I know where I am of course. Hades. The Underworld. The halls of the dead. It makes sense that I am here and yet it does not. The last thing I remembered was lying dying on the manure pile outside the palace gates. Clearly, my body had given up its futile quest for life and so here I am.

But that doesn’t ring true. As far as I know, the Underworld is the place where the souls of the dead dwell. The human dead. The souls of other creatures do not find their rest here. Dogs certainly aren’t allowed in—at least I had never heard of any dogs being granted the privilege. I had heard the stories of the heroes who had ventured into the Underworld before their time: Aeneas, Cupid and Psyche, Heracles, Pirithous and Theseus. Not one of them mentioned encountering any dogs.

Perhaps I am going to be the first. But why single me out for this singular honor, if honor is indeed what it is? I have done nothing special. Like most dogs, I have devoted myself and my life to my master. I don’t believe that is so unusual.

A thought occurs to me: maybe I’m not in the Underworld after all. Perhaps I’m dreaming. As dreams go, it’s pretty bland. I console myself in the knowledge that it is still better than reality, where I have to face endless torment from fleas and ticks.

I choose a direction at random and start walking. I have no destination in mind and no goal. It is simply something to do. Padding along comfortably, it is then that I notice something unusual about my body. When I had last seen my own scrawny flesh, it looked nothing like this. My fur is healthy and clean. Clean! My muscles feel strong, nothing like the wasted bag of old bones I had been moments before. I am young again! What joy!

I take some time to experience the true thrill of youth, to leap and bound, and spring lightly. It is a heady sensation. The gods only know how long I do this for. It’s hard to keep track of time in this place but I don’t care—I’m too busy enjoying myself. After some time however, I gradually become aware that someone or something is watching me. Unbidden, my hackles and the fur on the back of my neck rise. A growl rumbles deep in my chest and emerges through barred teeth.

The mist clears and a boat materializes before me, bobbing calmly on a river as black as night. A figure stands on the boat, shrouded in a black cowl, taller than any human. He carries a long pole which he uses to halt his progress against the swift current.

A long finger emerges from the black sleeves and beckons toward me. I don’t move. I can’t move, frozen as I am in fear. I know who this is and I dare not approach.

The figure cocks his head at me as if considering. Then he whistles. It is the same two-tone whistle used by countless dog owners. Against my will, my traitorous tail wags and I take first one hesitant step forward and then another. Before I know it, I am standing on the shore next to the boat and the boatman.

“Pay your fare,” demands a sepulchral voice drifting out of the black cowl. A hand emerges again from the sleeve. This time I get a good look at it. It is twice as large as any human’s, but with six fingers. The flesh enclosing the bones appears to be rotting.

I don’t bother trying to respond. It’s not like I can speak and tell him I have no fare. I believe it is customary to pay a coin to cross the river Acheron—because this of course is what it is. One of the legendary rivers of the Underworld, it marks the boundary of Hades. The only way in or out is across the river and the only way to cross the river is in the boat controlled by Charon, the boatman.

To gain passage, relatives of the recently deceased have to place a coin in the mouths of the dead. I have seen this done many times before, but I have no coin myself. Just to be sure, I open my mouth to check. Sure enough, I feel nothing on my tongue.

Charon cocks his head again. He seems to be listening to something, but even I, with my magnificent hearing, can detect nothing.

“Very well,” he says, seeming to talk to himself. He indicates that I am to enter the boat and obediently, I do exactly that, even though every part of my body screams at me to flee. I have always struggled to resist going for a ride in any form of moving vehicle, be it chariot, cart or boat.

Charon says nothing as he poles us slowly across the river. The Acheron flows into another river, which I assume is the Styx. Unable to resist the impulse, I sit perched in the bow, my tongue wagging, sniffing the warm breeze. I detect nothing I recognize.

Eventually, we reach the far shore. I don’t have to be told to get out. I leap out as soon as I am able which is just as well because no sooner have I done so, Charon turns the boat and heads back the way he had come.

There is a darker line of shadow on the horizon before me, and with no better prospects, I make for it. As I get closer, I recognize it for what it is. A huge inky black gate made of some material I am not familiar with. Two huge doors are set within but it is not these objects that command my attention.

Sitting calmly before the doors is a creature the likes of which I have never seen before. It is a massive dog. It isn’t just size that marks it as unusual. This dog has three heads, a serpent’s tail, and a mane of snakes that weave angrily in and out of the coarse black hair that covers the rest of the creature. Each huge paw is tipped with long claws that bear no resemblance to my own. These claws look like they could shred tree trunks.

I know immediately who it is. Cerberus. The great guardian of the gates of Hell. It is his job to ensure that none of the denizens of this place ever leave.

One of the heads swivels in my direction. I meet the gaze of those blood red eyes with rising panic.

“Be calm, Argos,” says Cerberus in a voice like smoke and thunder. “You have nothing to fear from me.”

“Your appearance certainly belies that,” I say in my head. When I was younger, I had tried to speak but quickly realized that I didn’t possess the clever tongue or vocal apparatus possessed by humans. My habit then had been to reply to rhetorical questions in my own mind. You can imagine my surprise when Cerberus gives every appearance of not only hearing me, but understanding me, too.

The central head of the huge Hellhound nods. “I realize that I appear quite fearsome, but it is mostly for show. Those who dwell here must stay. I could hardly stop them if I had the appearance and abilities of say, a common dog.”

I swear to the gods that the speaking head seems to be smiling slightly. That’s if dogs can smile. I confess I have tried to smile many times, but all I have succeeded in doing is lolling my tongue.

“I don’t think I’d risk a confrontation with you,” I say.

“Really, Argos? I have heard tales of your bravery. I think there are many things you would risk. Especially for your master.” I notice that only one head speaks while the two heads flanking the central one move constantly, their baleful eyes seeking out any who would dare escape.

“You know of my master Odysseus then?” I ask.

The central head nods. “Of course. Odysseus is beloved of the gods—especially by the gray-eyed Goddess Athena. I have even heard my own master, Hades, speak highly of him. His deeds are legendary.”

“They are?” I ask, silently cursing myself for doubting this fact. Of course his deeds are legendary. The actions of my master could not be anything else. I just hadn’t heard of any of them. “So my master lives then?”

“It is not for me to say, Argos. I am sorry. Come closer. Do not be afraid.”

Tentatively, I do as Cerberus asks and trot toward him, stopping a few spear lengths away. My sense of perspective immediately changes and I sit down on my haunches in order to take in the enormity of it. The gate is taller than any structure I have ever seen. As for Cerberus, he towers over me, larger than any creature I have ever encountered. Larger even than a rhinoceros. A visitor to Ithaca once told Odysseus about a mythical creature called an elephant that he had seen in his travels. From his description, Cerberus must be at least equal in size.

As nervous as I am, curiosity gets the better of me. “Can I at least hear about these legendary deeds then?” I ask, wagging my tail hopefully.

“Perhaps another time,” says Cerberus. Eddies of smoke are slowly rising from his speaking mouth. “I have brought you here for another reason.”

“Other than the fact that I’m dead?” I ask.

“Are you?” counters Cerberus.

“Why else would I be here then?” I retort. A niggling doubt is starting to form. Maybe this is a dream after all.

“Let me ask you something, Argos. I have served my master, Hades, for millennia and will continue to do so for all of existence. Why do I do that?”

“For loyalty,” I say immediately. “For love.”

This time, Cerberus nods all three heads. “Indeed. I love my master. He is everything to me and he has repaid my loyalty countless times. I would do anything for him.”

“As would I for my master,” I say.

“And that is why you are here, Argos. You are an exceptional dog. You may not think so but I have watched you and I know. Your loyalty and your love for your master is exceptional. It compares even to my o

wn.”

“So why am I here?” I ask, slightly confused.

“Because, I want to hear your story. I want to hear it told in your own words, to experience it from your perspective. I want to hear about everything you and Odysseus experienced together and what made your bond so strong. I want to know why you have waited twenty years for him. In short, I want to hear the story of your life.”

“Why?” I ask.

“Because,” says Cerberus, “I want to know that I’m not the only one. That I’m not the only one whose loyalty exceeds all expectation and belief.”

“And why should I do this for you?” I venture.

“You might be surprised if I told you,” says Cerberus.

The words send a shiver running down my spine.

Phillip W. Simpson is the author of many novels, chapter books and other stories for children. His publishers include Month9books, Macmillan, Penguin, Pearson, Cengage, Raintree and Oxford University Press.

He received his undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Archaeology and both his Masters (Hons) degree in Archaeology and his Masters (Hons) degree in Creative Writing from the University of Auckland. Before embarking on his writing career, he joined the army as an officer cadet, owned a comic shop and worked in recruitment in both the UK and Australia. His first young adult novel, Rapture (Rapture Trilogy #1), was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for best Youth novel in 2012. When not writing, he works as a school teacher.

Phillip lives and writes in Auckland, New Zealand, with his wife Rose, their son, Jack, and their two border terriers, Whiskey and Raffles. He loves fishing, reading, movies, football (soccer) and single malt Whiskeys. www.phillipwsimpson.com


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5 winners will receive an eGalley of ARGOS.
International.


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May 1, 2016

Today we’re having an Chapter Reveal for Karma: Nadine Nightingale!


Karma Cover
Title: Karma

Author: Nadine Nightingale

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Day Date: May 4th

About Karma:

People call me all sorts of names—bad girl, black sheep, and my all-time favorite...Satan’s bride. I could blame the fact I’m a witch for my behavior, but the truth is I’m infuriating, arrogant, and stab-worthy.

Alex Remington is a hunter and everything I’m not—righteous, honest, caring. We used to have a thing, but that was before he learned I’m a witch and tried to kill me.

Eighteen months later, he’s back in my life and we have a deal; I’ll help him save his brother and he’ll disappear from my life for good. But karma can be a real bitch…



Exclusive Excerpt:
Karma Teaser
An electric hum charges the chilly air. The ghostly light of a bulb flickers. Seconds later, I gaze into Baphomet’s onyx eyes. He lingers over a naked couple chained to his harpy feet, guarding them like a sphinx, imprisoning them like a warden.
“Oh my freakin’ gosh! Is that...Is that the devil?” Redhead screams. The look on her high-school-queen- bee face is priceless.

I take a deep breath. “Yes,” I say, swallowing the laughter that crawls up my throat. “It’s the devil.”

Redhead presses a palm against her chest. “Sweet baby Jesus. Does that mean I’m...I’m going to hell?” Her otherwise brown aura, indicating self-absorption, is gray. In other words, she’s petrified.

The chick is obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed, and I doubt hell recruits stupid cheerleaders. I fake a smile and wave her question off. “Nah, don’t worry. In the tarot, the devil represents desire and passion.” I point to the card deck. “Draw another one.”

Her delicate fingers fly over the cards, and she pulls the sixth major arcana card out of the pile. The lovers.

Redhead’s sapphire eyes gleam. “I know what that means. He loves me, right?”

The devil and the lovers? That’s as bad as a relationship can get. When her fingers accidently brush mine, I get a glimpse of how bad it’ll be.
****
The fluorescent lights of the ER blinded Redhead. Closing her eyes, she reminded herself this was her fault. She should have never asked him about the other girl. She’d gotten a taste of his temper before and knew better than to challenge him. But that damn jealousy had gotten the best of her.

“Can you hear me?” the doctor asked, worried.

She wanted to answer, wanted to tell him she was fine, but she could hardly breathe. It felt like the air hit an invisible wall inside her bleeding nose. Parting her bruised lips, she gasped for oxygen, but the taste of sanitizer made her sick.

“Miss Rosewood, can you hear me?” The doctor’s rich voice hammered through her brain.

She swallowed the pins and needles in her throat. “Yes.”

“How did this happen?”
Every muscle in her body tensed. “I...I...fell.”
****
I shake the brutal vision off. Every fortune-teller with a conscience would tell Redhead to stay the hell away from this guy. The thing is, if I tell her the truth, she’ll accuse me of lying, and being called a liar is the doom of a clairvoyant. Luckily, I don’t have a conscience.

“You guys are star-crossed lovers.”

“Really?” she squeaks, like the dumb cheerleader she is.

“Yeah, course. Even Romeo and Juliet would envy you guys.” If she doesn’t hear the sarcasm in my voice, she totally deserves someone who’ll beat the crap out of her. Besides, the whole Romeo and Juliet reference should put her on high alert. Yeah, I know, people think of them as the ultimate couple. But did they actually read the play? Let’s summarize their fate: first Romeo wants Rosalind. Why? Because she’s a nun, and guys dig things they can’t have. Then Juliet, another forbidden fruit, comes along. Unfortunately, she’s dumb enough to fall for his shit, and bada bing, bada boom, they both end up dead. Some call that romantic. I prefer stupid.

Her aura radiates fifty shades of red. Making an educated guess, I’d say she didn’t get the hint. Hey, at least I tried.

Pleased, she pulls a hundred-dollar bill from her bag and puts it on the table. “You’re amazing.”

“I know,” I reply flatly before shoving the money in my black lace bra. “Now get out and send the next one in.”

The chick doesn’t even mind my rudeness. “Thanks. Thank you so much.” She sounds like a broken record, and I breathe a sigh of relief when the door slams shut behind her.

Waiting for my next client, I gather the cards. The foulness of the air bugs me a little. I hate rundown motel rooms, but they add to the mystery, and in my business, it’s all about being mysterious. Harpers Ferry is my third stop in the last two weeks. Small town folk are good clients. They hunger for the perfect house, perfect husband, perfect kids. If they could, they’d even try to breed the perfect dog. No need to say this makes me perfectly sick. But beggars can’t be choosers, and all I need is another five hundred bucks, and then I can kiss my old life goodbye.

A faint knock, then the door swings open. My next client is a middle-aged woman accompanied by her daughter. What kind of a mother drags her kid to a fortune-teller? I straighten and wave them over. The little girl is about ten, but she still sucks her thumb.

“Are you a witch?” the blonde angel asks, precariously.

I totally prefer the term Wise Independent Tremendously Charismatic Human, but before I get a chance to clarify, her mother interferes. “They said you could help us.”

They? Who the heck are they? And did she just say help them? Who the hell does she think I am, Mother Theresa? “You want to know if your daughter will become the next Miss America, am I right?” A little sarcasm never hurts.

The woman steps closer. The flames of the black candles shed light on her wrinkled face. “Please kill my husband,” she says, throwing a bundle of hundreds on the table. My guess is about ten thousand dollars.

“Lady, I’m a fortune-teller, not an assassin,” I say, never taking my eyes off the money.

“You’re a witch.”
I cock a brow. “Still not an assassin.”
“He hurts her,” she whispers, pointing to the kid.
I know he does. I’d sensed her heartache the

moment they walked in. I might tell lies for a living, but I tend to see the truth when no one else does. The aura of the little girl is a dark, muddy gray, evidence of a broken soul.

“Call the cops and get a divorce.”

The woman pushes the little girl in my lap. “Please, I’m begging you. Help her.”

Hazel eyes, clouded with misery and sorrow, look right through me. That son of a bitch robbed her of her innocence and left her drowning in self-hatred. Shivers run down my spine. Shit. I have no intention of bearing witness to the bastard’s barbaric crime. It’s a real shame visions don’t ask for permission.
****
She stared at the gleaming stars on her ceiling. Her mother had put them there to keep the darkness at bay, but it didn’t work. The room was gloomy. She knew the monster would come for her. It would look like her dad, but that was just a disguise. Her real dad would never do such things to her. He loved her. She thought of the puppy he’d once bought for her and the places he had taken her. A monster could never be so kind.

The creaking of the wooden door stopped her heart. She pulled the blanket over her head and started to count.

One, two, three. The blanket pulled back. Four, five six.
A wet kiss. Seven, eight, nine.
“I love you, princess.”
****
I push the fragile body of the girl away. Her pain. Her destiny. I don’t give a shit about any of it. “Take your money and get the hell outta here.”

The woman’s jaw drops. “But—”
I hold my hand up. “Out! Now.”
The little girl’s gaze drops to her pink ballerina

flats. Her disappointment floats through the dark room, leaving traces of hate and sadness in the air.
“You said she’d make him stop,” she says as her

mother hauls her to the door.
Don’t. This is none of your business. Let them go. Shit!
I heave a sigh. “Wait.”
They spin around. Hope flickers across the

mother’s face. The woman makes me sick. How dare she call herself a mother? She knows what her husband is up to. Why on earth did she never try to stop him? I remind myself this isn’t about her. It’s about the little girl.

“What’s your name?” I ask the kid.
“Jamie,” she replies, voice weak and broken.
I wave her over. When she doesn’t move, her

mother grabs her by the wrist and pulls her toward me. Ruthless bitch. Can’t she see her daughter is terrified?

Mother of the Year is probably expecting me to cast a spell or torment a voodoo doll. Yeah, you kinda get the wrong idea about magic when you’ve watched too many Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. But real magic doesn’t come cheap. I wonder if the ruthless bitch is ready to pay the price.

I pull Jamie’s rigid body closer and put my forefinger on her third eye. The kid is already damaged beyond repair, but what I’m about to do will kill a piece of her soul forever.

“Close your eyes, Jamie.”

About the Author:

Author Photo
Nadine aka Dini is a traveler at heart. She considers the world her home and practically lives out of her suitcases. When she’s not glaring at a blank page or abusing her poor keyboard, she spends her time reading, watching movies (preferably horror), pretends to work out, and hangs out with friends and family. Poor girl also suffers from a serious Marvel superhero addiction. So, if you run into her at night, wearing black, know she’s secretly dreaming of being the infamous Black Widow.

Her love for writing started in the sixth grade where she annoyed her classmates with a short story featuring Sailor Moon characters, a cemetery, and creepy ghosts. Yes, she’s always been addicted to the dark side. Nadine writes paranormal romance. Her debut novel “Karma” the first book in her paranormal romance series Drag.Me.To.Hell. is published by the Wild Rose Press and will be out in May 2016. She has a serious girl crush on her protagonist Amanda Bishop.

Nadine has a BA in Comparative Religions and studied Creative Writing at the University of Oxford.


Connect with Nadine:

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M9B Reveal Assets- SCEPTER OF FIRE Cover by Vicki L. Weavil


Vicki L. Weavil and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for SCEPTER OF FIRE, a companion novel in the CROWN OF ICE Series! Which releases October 18, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley!!

Here’s a message from the author.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” SCEPTER OF FIRE is a companion book to CROWN OF ICE, my retelling of “The Snow Queen.” It takes place a few years later, in the midst of an invasion by a power-mad foreign emperor, and includes most of the characters from CROWN OF ICE.

However the protagonist in SCEPTER OF FIRE is someone new—17yo Varna Lund, an ugly duckling among swans, who’s certain her destiny lies in taking on the mantle of village healer after the death of her aged mentor. But when a young soldier enlists her aid to care for his injured friend, Varna and her sister, Gerda, are catapulted into the war that has engulfed their country.
Forced to flee enemy troops with her sister and the two soldiers, Varna must also evade her mentor, Sten Rask—revealed to be a powerful mage seeking the enchanted mirror hidden by a former Snow Queen.

To protect the mirror, and their country, Varna, Gerda, and the soldiers join forces with a sorceress, an enchanted reindeer, a brilliant scholar, and a young woman traveling with a wolf. But Varna faces a terrible temptation. Promised beauty and power by the devilishly handsome Rask, she must choose—achieve her own desires, or protect a society that has never embraced her.

The Cover:

I love how this cover matches the cover of CROWN OF ICE, and yet is different enough to set the books apart. Both feature striking young women, but whereas CROWN is glazed with icy blue tones, SCEPTER
is saturated with reds, golds and other fiery hues. If you look closely, you can even see flames reflected in the girl’s eyes—very appropriate for a book that deals with sorcerers who wield fire. Although the cover model is not an “ugly duckling,” she does accurately reflect the protagonist during one portion of the book, which I will not reveal at this point due to “spoilers”! 
SCEPTER OF FIRE

Author: Vicki L. Weavil

Pub. Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook


Sharp as pine needles, and twice as bitter, seventeen-year-old Varna Lund’s determined to become a healer. At least patients don’t care about her looks, unlike the young men who spurn her for eighteen-year-old Gerda or even her younger sisters. An ugly duckling among swans, Varna hopes to bury her passionate nature in useful work.

Her healing skills are put to the test when Varna encounters Erik Stahl, a young soldier who’s deserted the battlefield to carry his injured friend, Anders Nygaard, to safety. Varna, enlisting the aid of Gerda, cares for Anders in secret.

But a brutal betrayal catapults the four young people into life on the run, where Varna discovers her old mentor is actually a powerful wizard. Seeking the enchanted mirror hidden by a former Snow Queen, the wizard hopes to use Gerda as a pawn in his plan to aid the invading emperor.

Other forces ally against the wizard, including an auburn-haired sorceress, an enchanted reindeer, a brilliant scholar, and a young woman traveling with a wolf. Along with the soldiers and Gerda, they vow to prevent the mirror from falling into enemy hands. But tempted with promises of beauty and power from her now devilishly handsome mentor, Varna must choose between her own desires and the good of a society that’s never embraced her.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”, SCEPTER OF FIRE is a companion book to CROWN OF ICE.
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Vicki L. Weavil was raised in a farming community in Virginia, where her life was shaped by a wonderful family, the culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and an obsession with reading. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Virginia, a Masters in Library Science from Indiana University, and a Masters in Liberal Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After working as a librarian at the NY Public Library at Lincoln Center, and the Museum of Television & Radio (now the Paley Center for Media) in NYC, she is currently the Director for Library Services at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Vicki loves good writing in any genre, and has been known to read seven books in as many days. She enjoys travel, gardening, and the arts. Vicki lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats. A member of SCBWI, Vicki is represented by Fran Black at Literary Counsel, NY, NY.
Where you can find Vicki: 


1 winner will receive an eBook of CROWN
OF ICE & an eGalley of SCEPTER OF FIRE (when available), International.



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