Monday, April 25, 2016

New Release - Epic Fantasy: In the Company of the Dead by Ciara Ballintyne


NEW RELEASE Ciara Ballintyne’s Epic Fantasy ‘In the Company of the Dead’




Only a fool crosses a god, but Ellaeva and Lyram will do anything to get what they want.

InTheCompanyOfTheDead_300dpi_1842x2763 FINAL

Title: In the Company of the Dead
Author: Ciara Ballintyne
Series: The Sundered Oath #1
Genre: Epic Fantasy/Fantasy Romance
Chosen as a five-year-old orphan to be the Left Hand of Death, Ellaeva has nothing to call her own—nothing except a desire to avenge her murdered parents. Her duties leave her no time to pursue the man responsible, until both her work and revenge lead to the same place—the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris is serving out his exile for striking his prince.

Lyram is third in line for the throne, and when the castle is unexpectedly besieged, he fears his prince means to remove him from contention for the crown permanently. Ellaeva’s arrival brings hope, until she reveals she has not come for the siege, but instead she hunts the castle for a hidden necromancer dedicated to the dark god of decay.
Within their stone prison, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods. But as the siege lengthens, the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.


Chapter 1
Premonition
Only a fool would split hairs with a god, least of all the goddess of death, but Ellaeva would count herself such a fool and consider it worth it—if she could get away with it.
She leaned across the knife-scarred timber of the tavern table.
“Are you sure?” she asked, her tone even and barely loud enough to be audible over the noise of the flute and the zither. Her work on behalf of the goddess Ahura, adjudicating the small war here in Dayhl, could only be abandoned in favour of a greater threat. If she was going to chase off after the man who killed her parents, she needed to be sure her arguments stacked up. The pursuit of personal justice wouldn’t be enough.
Is it justice or revenge?
No time to worry about that now. She tugged her black hood farther down over her infamous face, even though deep shadows blanketed the common room corner. She’d chosen a table far from the tallow candles mounted in their stag-horn chandeliers. There was no point taking chances; the black hair and porcelain skin of a Tembran would be remarked here among the platinum-haired Dayhlish. Besides, someone might recognise her.
“In Ahlleyn, sure as the spring comes after winter, Holiness.” The narrow-faced man across from her grinned, baring teeth more brown than yellow. The acrid smoke from the candles didn’t cover his pungent breath.
She half-stood, making an urgent, negating gesture as she glanced around, but the hubbub of chatter from the patrons and the music covered his slip. No one even glanced their way. On the far side of the room, away from the two blazing hearths, tables were pushed aside for dancing. She dropped back into her seat, her black robes fluttering around her booted feet.
Ahlleyn lay on the other side of the continent, months of travel by horse. If her informant was right and a Rahmyrrim priest had been dispatched there, he would likely be gone long before she arrived—unless she begged a favour, but she’d not do that for a lark of her own. However, if it meant catching the man who killed her parents, well then maybe she could come up with an argument that would hold water for a god. Old grief and anger, stale from a decade or more, stirred in her gut, and her fingers curled around the edge of the table.
Releasing her grip, she reached to the inner pocket in her robes where rested the smudged charcoal drawing of a man. Hard work and luck had helped her obtain that picture of the man she believed killed her parents—a man she knew to be a priest of Rahmyr. If she decided to act against her standing orders, then she needed to be sure it was the man she was after, and that he was involved in some act heinous enough to attract her goddess’s attention.
“Did you get the name of this priest? Or his description?” An unknown number of priests served Rahmyr, but she knew six by sight—six still alive anyway.
The thin man shook his head. “Nobody mentioned. I got the impression he’s already there, or on his way leastways.”
She scowled. No way to be sure then that this was the man she wanted. Begging favours of Ahura for her personal satisfaction was a risky business, especially if she neglected her duties, and perhaps it would all be for nothing.
With one hand, she flattened the map that curled on the table between them. The patrons behind them exploded with laughter at something unheard. Ignoring the noise, she stabbed her finger at an unmarked portion of the map in the foothills of the Ahlleyn mountains. If he didn’t know who, maybe he knew the what. “There, you say? What possible interest could Rahmyr have there? There’s nothing of interest at all.”
She lowered her voice even further as she uttered the name of the goddess of decay, and glanced around again. That name spoken too loudly would bring unwanted attention. But nearly all the tavern patrons were busy whirling on the impromptu dance floor or lined up to watch the dancers, their backs to her.
The nameless man leaned forward, treating her to another stomach-clenching blast of foul breath, and touched a spot perhaps half an inch away from her finger. A tiny, unlabelled picture marked something there.
“Here, Holiness.”
She squinted at the picture, letting his lapse slide. The image represented a holy place. There was an old shrine to Ahura somewhere in the Ahlleyn Borders, wasn’t there? And a castle built over it. “Caisteal Aingeal an Bhais.”
“That sounds like the name,” he agreed. “Never could get my mouth around them Ahlleyn words. Pink castle, I heard.”
She grunted. That was the one. “There’s still nothing there.”
Nothing of interest to Rahmyr anyway. The shrine wasn’t particularly important, and the castle held no political significance.
“What’s there,” the man said, “is Lyram Aharris.”
The premonition went through her like a blast of icy wind, stiffening her in her chair as the hand of the goddess brushed against her mind. A light caress, but from a giant, and so it sent her mind reeling. She clutched the table for support. Lyram Aharris’s reputation preceded him the length of the continent: eight years ago, at the age of twenty-seven, he’d brought an end to the centuries-long conflict between Ahlleyn and Velena through a series of brilliant military manoeuvres. He’d survived the Siege of Invergahr against near-impossible odds, brought the crown prince safely clear of the conflict, and fought the Velenese to a standstill using their own guerrilla warfare tactics against them. As a novice, she’d covered the tactics thoroughly as part of her studies. The man was a military genius. That he was third in line for the throne of Ahlleyn was the least there was to know about him—at least it was, until his king dismissed him from court. The rumours on everyone’s lips said he murdered his wife, even if no one could prove it.
What did Rahmyr want with him?
Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic. She began her first attempts at the craft of writing in 1992, culminating in the publication of her debut work, Confronting the Demon, in 2013. Her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing is In the Company of the Dead. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world – how hard can it really be? If she could be anything, she’d choose a dragon, but if she is honest she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House M.D. – both the good and the bad. She is a browncoat, a saltgunner, a Whedonite, a Sherlockian, a Ringer and a Whovian... OK, most major geek fandoms. Her alignment is chaotic good. She is an INTJ. Ciara lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, her two daughters, and a growing menagerie of animals that unfortunately includes no dragons.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Write Like A Wizard April Blog Hop



Welcome to the Write Like a Wizard April Blog Hop! Visit each blog for a chance to win an ecopy of the books the characters are from, AND a Amazon GCs! See details after the interview with my character, Hannah, from The Rustler's Daugher.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I'm from Virginia.
Q: Where do you live now?
A: After my mother died, I went to live with my father and brother in Folsom, California.
Q: How old are you?
A: I'm 18 years old.
Q: What do your parents do?
A: My mother lived with family while she was raising me, and I found out that my father owned a ranch.
Q: How many children do I have?
A: None yet *blushing*, but I'd love to have children.
Q: Tell us about your closest friends.
A: Since I arrived in Folsom, I've made friends with our neighbors, the Scott brothers. I've also become friends with the Carter family in town. I'm especially close with their daughter, Lilly.
Q: Any secrets you want to share with us?
A: I think Lilly is sweet on Matthew Scott, but she hasn't told him, not directly anyway.
Q: Describe one moment that you feared for your life or your way of life?
A: There was a man in town who was very forward with me. The Scott brothers scared him off, but he followed me back to the ranch and tried to hurt me. I was terrified.
Q: Is there a love interest we should know about?
A: I've fallen deeply in love with Jackson Scott.
Q: Anything else you want people out there to know?
A: When everything in your life seems to be lost, don't give up. Love can save you.


What was your favorite part of the Q&A? Comment below, enter the giveaway, and visit the next stop posted here.

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Monday, February 29, 2016

Sucking Caulk

When my husband goes away on business trips, I usually try to take on some household project I have no business doing, in an effort to surprise him when he gets home. Now I'm a cheap bastard, and I won't pay people to do jobs I think I can do myself. The operative word here is "think." Sometimes my skill level doesn't match my confidence level. So while my husband was making plans for his business trip this last week, I was making plans for my next home project...the shower.  We have some weird combo of tile, glass, brass, and whatever that stuff is that they use for tubs and showers. Because there are so many junctions, our shower needs a butt load of caulk (which I pronounce "caulllllllk" around the hubby, since that perv is always trying to get me to say the "C" word for weenie).

The last time it needed to be replaced, my husband did it, so when it started to crack and mold again, I figured it was my turn. How hard can it be? I watch people do it on television all the time. First, I needed to gather my materials. I went to Lowe's and found white silicone that had a lifetime guarantee, a promise of 10 years with no mold, and a 30 minute drying time. Perfect, so I picked up a tube. Then I started think...how much would I need? So I picked up two...then three...then four. You know, just to be safe.

I already had some odd plastic hooky grabber thing used to remove old caulk, another tool to smooth it out, and the squeezy thing you put the tubes of silicone in to squish it out, so I was set.

First off, removing the old silicone was a lot harder than I thought, but I was persistent. After that, came the "more toxic that mold" mold remover, and then I was ready for the silicone. Since the shower really needed to be completely dry, I put off the caulking until the next day. I didn't figure it would take very long.

I woke up rejuvenated and ready to caulk. I cut the top off the first tube, and put it in the squeezy thing. I pushed like a freak, but nothing came out. So I stuck one of my scissor blades down the opening, and voila! I pushed again, and big blob spooged out. Unfortunately, it landed on my finger, so I grabbed the first piece of paper I saw and scraped it off. That gave me pause. It was kind of hard to get off, but since I planned on being neat and efficient, I wouldn't need gloves. After all, I had tools, but I grabbed the last paper towel I had in the bathroom, just in case I accidentally got some overgoo on the brass or tile.

The first line of silicone was perfect, even and beautiful. Since it was supposed to dry quickly, I opted to use the smoothing tool as I went along. So I put the squeezy thing down and picked up the little piece of edging plastic. I spun it around, trying to decide what would be the best side to use. I quickly realized that none of the sizes were going to work. I looked around and saw that the silicone remover tool had a curved edge that might  fit. It was exactly the right size. Disaster averted. Now, I just needed to smooth out that line and repeat as I went around the shower.

As I began to drag the curved edge of the remover tool along the line of silicone, a wad of excess caulk started to grow like a rolling snow ball barreling downhill. The increasing mass of goo started to overflow onto the tile and brass. I realized that I wasn't going to make it to the end of the line without cleaning off the tool, so I used my one paper towel to remove the blob and continued on.

Here's where things started to unravel. I wanted to clean up the excess that had spilled over onto the brass and tile, but the huge goo ball on my one paper towel wasn't going to cut it. I didn't have time to go downstairs, so I grabbed the closest thing...a roll of toilet paper.

I started trying to wipe off the excess caulk, but the toilet paper wasn't working well. I had to keep using more and more, but I was fighting a losing battle. It was drying faster than I thought. I didn't want to panic, so I told myself I would go ahead and finish the rest, and then come back with the scraper tool and scratch it off.

I picked up the squeezy thing, but I saw the giant caulk ball on the paper towel and thought, "What a waste." I paid a lot for this stuff, and it wasn't right to leave all that good caulk on a paper towel. So, I decided to use the excess before starting a new line. Unfortunately, I made the colossal error of using my finger. I figured I would just use one finger. No biggie. I went back and forth between the squeezy thing, the curved tool, and spreading the extra caulk with my finger. Before I knew it, I had silicone everywhere. It's like it started to reproduce. My lines looked like a nausea inducing roller coaster.

Eventually, I got it all done, and started with my master clean-up plan. I took the scraper and started with the first line I did because of the short drying time. It was no use. I scraped and scraped, but the silicone wouldn't budge. Then, I accidentally hit the line I had smoothed, and cut a groove it. It's ok. I can repair it. So I started to run the smoothing edge back over it, but it was already drying and my "repair" caused enough dimpling to rival my thighs. The brass edges were now opaque, and the tile looked like it had been hit with crippling snow storm. At this point, I realized that anything I did was just going to make it worse. I was going to have to let it go.

I decided to focus on the clean up instead. My one finger had turned into ten, and it looked like I was wearing white gloves. I turned on the faucet in the sink and quickly realized that I was screwed. Water rolled off my hands like a duck's back. I got the soap and started to scrub like a freak, trying not to panic. I didn't even make a dent, so I started scratching at it. That only made more caulk balls under my nails. That's when I had the bright idea to use one of my face towels. No one uses those anyway. I dug one out of the closet and scraped off the silicone. Sweet! It mostly worked. I had to get a pin to dig that crap out of my wedding ring. No one can cuss me like I can cuss me.

Afterwards, I was looking at the three left over tubes in the Lowe's bag, thinking. "Well, at least I can get some money back." I just needed the receipt. That's when I realized that piece of paper I grabbed to wipe off that first glop of silicone was my Lowe's receipt. Oddly enough, it had dried on everything but the receipt.  


Now I'm waiting for hubby to come home. I have prepared myself for the inevitable teasing I'm going to get. Of course, he's going to want to score since he's been out of town, so he'll give me lots of praise tonight. Hell will come with his morning shower. At least, I can comfort myself with the fact that the shower is completely waterproof...and so are my hands, my rings, a paper towel, one half of my scissors, some of my hair, a roll of toilet paper, the bathroom garbage can, the squeezy caulk thing, both silicone tools, my t-shirt, a chuck of my upper left thigh...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Trying a New Diet

A few years ago, I was planning a trip to Dallas to meet with some author friends I'd met online. It was a huge incentive to lose weight. I was eating healthy and exercising (see my Insanity blog). I lost a ton of weight, bought new clothes, and was feeling good.

After the trip, I went back to my old ways, and here I am several years later, right back where I started, only heavier. Like most people, I hate dieting and exercising. That whole B.S. about "think of it as a lifestyle change, not a diet" doesn't work for me. I've tried a million different diets. I lose weight, then I go right back to how I was eating before. I happen to love healthy foods. I just love junk food more.

Having recently celebrated a milestone birthday, I figured I'd better get back on track. The latest thing is eating foods that are good for the bacteria in your intestines. The idea being that they help with weight loss and stabilize your digestive system or some such nonsense. So I decided to give it a go. Here's where I put in the disclaimer that I'm not a medical professional, and please consult your physician before trying any diet or exercise routine. I never do, but I have to say it.

Anyway, the basics are this - no sugar, artificial sweeteners, wheat, corn or dairy. You can eat all the veggies you want and pure veggie juice along with limited servings of lean protein (including eggs), beans (including hummus), sweet potatoes, nuts and nut butters (saying nut butter always makes me giggle), fruit (no fruit juice), unsweetened almond or coconut milk, olive or coconut oil, oats, quinoa, and brown rice. You can use a little raw, organic honey as a sweetener.


So I started yesterday. My biggest hurdle besides chocolate is artificial sweeteners. I eat low carb chocolate and use Sweet n Low in my tea and coffee. I also like the occasional Diet Dr. Pepper. I had a ruthless headache yesterday, and I wanted to bite people, so I went to Trader Joe's looking for healthy crap to eat. I bought dates. Dates are sweet right? Who eats dates? I even bought a papaya. I hate papaya. Then I found some unholy frozen concoction of quinoa, kale and sweet potatoes that I bought for dinner. Today I went to the grocery store to try to buy some more appetizing foods. My intestines may be happy, but my sugar monster is definitely not. I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day was yesterday (9/8/15). Grammarly is working to raise awareness of the importance of reading and writing this week. Please see their graphic on literacy rates below and consider donating to the following charities. If you have time, check out your local libraries or schools and volunteer to help with their literacy programs. Thank you and happy reading!!




Literacy Day

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Rustler's Daughter Gets a Facelift

Hi all! Sorry I've been away so long. Life has been a little crazy lately - some good, some bad. On the good side, I've signed up with Booktrope. They are going to re-release my books with a fresh new look and some updates. First up is my historical western romance, The Rustler's Daughter. It's going to be re-released in August 2015, and I'm happy to share a sneak peek of the cover with you! Thanks to the talented Scott Deyett for this fabulous new look!




When Hannah Miller’s mother dies unexpectedly, she is forced to go live with her father, who she thought was dead. Hannah has high hopes that her father will be happy to finally meet her, but Roy Miller quickly puts Hannah in her place. She is a burden, just another mouth to feed, and an ugly reminder of the wife who left him.

Her father's act of desperation puts Hannah at the mercy of his enemies, the neighboring Scott family. Despite the bad blood between their families, Hannah is immediately attracted to Jackson Scott, but he has his own secrets and feels Hannah would be better off with someone else. When someone else does offer Hannah a way out of her predicament, will Jackson be able put aside his past and fight for the woman he loves?

Excerpt:
          Hannah took a deep breath and wished she had waited in the store. The heat was already making her uncomfortable after only a few minutes in the sun.
          "Well, well, aren't you a pretty thing?" slurred a voice.
          The smell of whiskey and sweat was overpowering, and Hannah wrinkled her nose before turning to see who was talking. She hoped the words were not meant for her. No such luck.
          The man on her left was dirty and smelled as if he lived in a saloon. He hadn't shaved in days or changed his clothes by the looks of them. He leered at Hannah looking her up and down, making her stomach turn. She hoped Mr. Carter would show up soon.
          "Whassa matter girlie? Cat got yer tongue?" He reached out to grab Hannah, but she easily dodged him.
          She looked over her shoulder nervously, expecting Mr. Carter to show up any second, but he wasn't there. Hannah decided it would be best if she ran back into the store for her own safety.
          Before she could make her move, the man suddenly disappeared from her view and was flying backwards. He landed on his back in the street with a loud thump. His face was replaced by a handsome young man who was smiling broadly.
          "Hi!" he said excitedly, tipping his hat. "I'm Lucas Scott. We haven't formally met yet."
          Hannah returned his smile with a beauty of her own. She was both relieved and amused by his obvious appreciation of her. He was every bit as handsome as his brothers, but he still had some growing to do.
          "Why Mr. Scott, I do believe your timing is impeccable." She giggled nervously, still shaken by the drunken man's advances.
          "Hey!" The man yelled from his position in the street.
          Lucas turned around. "Sorry Travis. Didn't see you there."
          Before the man could respond, Matthew Scott came around her wagon and stepped right in the middle of the man's chest before feigning surprise.
          "Travis? What are you doing in the street? I didn't even see you." Matthew winked at Hannah and smiled. "Miss Hannah."
          He tipped his hat. She covered her mouth to stifle her laughter. Both brothers ignored Travis and started to load Hannah's supplies into her wagon.
          Travis got up and fixed his angry gaze on Hannah. "You think that's funny?" he hissed, causing Lucas and Matthew to move in his direction.
          "Enough." That one word sent chills down her spine. Even filled with anger, Jackson's voice made her heart race. He was standing right behind her, so close she could feel the heat from his body over the warmth of the sun.

***

          "I believe you owe the lady an apology, Travis." Jackson was trying hard to keep his anger contained. Right now, he wanted nothing more than to tear Travis apart with his bare hands.
          Seeing Travis leering and grabbing at Hannah had him seeing red. He was almost glad his brothers had reached the man first. Almost.
          Travis looked at the Scott brothers with disgust. Even in his inebriated state, he knew he was outnumbered.
          "Fine. I'm sorry," he spat out, bowing awkwardly in Hannah's direction before stumbling off down the street.
          Hannah nodded gratefully to Matthew and Lucas who both smiled at her before loading the rest of her supplies.
          She turned around to face Jackson. He fought the urge to touch her.
          "Thank you. It seems I owe you and your brothers yet again." Jackson noticed the color heating her cheeks. They were standing closer than was proper, but neither made a move to back up.
          "Are you okay?" Jackson asked, concern filling his eyes.
          Hannah tried to focus. "Yes. I'm okay," she said softly. "I'm glad you showed up when you did though."
          "One of us should go with you when you come to town next time." He said it in a way that didn't invite opposition.
          "Are you offering to come yourself?" Hannah wasn't used to being so bold, but with Mr. Harding's proposal fresh in her mind, she wanted to know where Jackson stood.
          Jackson looked at his brothers who seemed to be just as interested in his answer as Hannah was.
          "I'm sure we'll be able to work something out." Jackson dodged the direct question. He knew he had hurt her, but better he let her down now than break her heart later.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Indie Music Station 92.6 The Blitz!



My friend and DJ, Tom Slick, runs a radio station called 92.6 The Blitz. He plays indie music from around the world. As with most indie projects, he needs a little help to keep the station going. But he can tell you about it better than I can. 

I would love to show you the awesome video he made for this Indie GoGo campaign, but blogspot isn't cooperating. Click on this link to see what the station is all about!

Or you can check out the video on their Indie GoGo page

If you love indie music, be sure to check out the station! Tom also promotes other indie artists including authors and filmmakers.


Say hello and give them a Like on Facebook!