Sunday, December 22, 2013

Michelle Franklin's Tales from Frewen, Volume 2 - Excerpt and {Giveaway}

Read-Along: The Rat, Pt. 6

The cat charged, knocking the empty dish rack over, and out skittered the rat from the shadows, its leg wounded, its countenance vicious and unseemly, its hide matted, its ears crumpled, its teeth protruding. It hastened toward the giant, divagating as it ran, its injured leg making it impossible to run straight. The cat leapt after it, biting and clawing, the rat shrieked and swiped. It tried to run into the storeroom, but the cat caught it by the tail and, with a jolt, flung it into the air. It wriggled and turned, trying to right itself, that it might land on its feet, but the black metal of Rautu's blade flashed, the sword came down, and as edge of the sword touched the ground, the body of the rat fell one way, and the head another. The terrifying and ferocious creature was no more, lying dead at Martje's feet, and she nearly danced in triumph.

"Ha, ye bastard!" Martje exclaimed, in a fever of maniacal glee. "That's you done in, and you're sure never comin' back!" and it was under this charm of a resounding victory that she turned to the giant, nodded to him, and even smiled at him.

Never a friend to the cook, Rautu was horrified by her sudden admiration. He stepped back from her, in dread of her possibly embracing him, picked up the rat's body by the tail, bid Khaasta to take the head as a prize, and said, "Your rat is dead. The Tyfferym dark, Mhojhudenri."

"Aye, aye, a'right, monster," she humphed. "I'll bring it to you. Make the cat go outside with the head if he wants it, and don't touch anythin' with what you got in your hand."

The slab of Tyfferim dark was brought, Rautu accepted it with mild complacence, and as Martje handed it over, she said, "And remember, monster: you're not tellin' anyone I asked you for help and that's that."

"I do not need to tell anyone," said the giant, plucking the chocolate from her hands. He tucked the chocolate into his belt. "Your mate already knows."

Martje's nose curled and her brow furrowed. "How's that?"

Rautu pointed toward the yeoman's quarter entrance, and there, standing at the top of the steps, was Shayne, watching his wife, smiling to himself, and shaking his head.

"There's nothin' wrong with askin' for help, Martje," said Shayne, approaching her.

"Sure there is," Martje snuffed. "You don't mind askin' Tomas for help 'cause he's your partner and all--"

"But you gotta lower yourself and condescend and that to ask your enemy for help. I know. A real terrible thing, asking people for help. Then you gotta thank 'em for doin' the job right."

Shayne raised a brow and gave Martje a wry look, and Martje pouted and turned aside.

"I ain't thankin' the monster for nothin'. He got his chocolate outta me. He don't need nothin' else."

However pleased the giant was with his prize, he was still more gratified in Martje's capitulation. Watching her struggling against herself to surrender her integrity, lay by all reservations, and entreat him to help was all his sagacious elation. He grinned in spite of himself and marched outside, calling for Khaasta to join him, and he walked into the far field, glad that someone had seen Martje's concession, and wondering where on his heap of pelts his new prize should go.

Martje glunched and stamped her foot. It was unfair that the giant had got his way, but there was nothing to be done for it now, and Shayne was coming to embrace her and console her, and she must learn to forget that she ever conceded to ask for the giant for help, though he had performed his office so well.

"'Mon," said Shayne, in a soft accent, "let's clean up and get the tea made. I'm starvin' somethin' terrible."

"Aye," Martje moped.

Shayne touched his wife's shoulder and rubbed the top of her back. "There, there, aye? Wasn't so terrible to ask him, was it? He's not the mallacht, Martje."

This was a point to be vehemently refuted, but just then, Gaumhin and Brigdan entered from the field, the former carrying his Westren osprey, and the latter with his goshawk sitting on his shoulder.

"Oh, is it caught, then?" said Brigdan, glancing round the kitchen. "We were going to let our birds have some sport with it."

"Aye," said Gaumhin. "Mah gurl's been gaggin' for a hunt these few daes, aye? Sittin' in the mews, a-botherin' everaebodae."

"Aye, it's finished," said Shayne. "Den Asaan just walked out with it."

Martje's stared at her husband, her lips pursed, her expression furious, and Shayne looked repentant and made a nervous laugh.

"I suppose it is to be a secret as to who killed the rat," said Brigdan, smiling. "Very well. Gaumhin and I will promise not to say anything," but the damage had been done, for someone now knew that the giant had been allowed to kill it, and Martje sulked and went to the tea board, grumbling about how careless and useless husbands were.

"Think I'm sleepin' in the stables th'night," said Shayne.

"They are not so uncomfortable, master smith," said Brigdan. "You might find the hay loft very pleasant indeed. Vyrdin used to sleep there himself betimes when he was just training his horse. You might make a friend or two while there."

Shayne glanced at Martje, and then behind a raised hand, he whispered, "Don't mean no offense by it, but sleeping beside the nags'll be more peaceful than sleepin' beside the nagger."

"What's that, Shayne?" said Martje, in a sharp tone.

"Oh," Shayne hemmed, "nothin', Martje."

"Aye, sure thought so."

Brigdan and Gaumhin stifled a laugh, and Shayne stepped toward the basin and away from his wife.

"Does His Majesty know that the rat been killed?" Brigdan asked.

"Don't think so," said Shayne.

"I will gladly inform him, My Lord Regent," said Dobhin, who was passing in the hallway behind them.

Dobhin was on his way to the tailor and was walking beside Pastaddams, who was looking rather displeased, for the tailor had undergone a most frightful time with the baize that Her Majesty wanted, had seen some very horrible costumes at the Royal Theatre, and was very ready to sit at his sewing table and grumble to himself about the wrongs of the fashionable world.

"Absolute frights, every one of them," said Pastaddams, marching toward the tailor, speaking more to himself than he was to Dobhin. "How can they possibly think it acceptable to put that much frill at the bottom of so short a dress? What a job they have done, making themselves look ridiculous."

"Quite right, sir," said Dobhin, as they came to the tailor door. "I don't know what they would be at. Some of those colours were atrocious--"

"No, don't talk of it," Pastaddams cried, suddenly overcome, sinking under the power of his disgust. "Don't talk of it, Commander, I beg you." He passed a hand over his eyes and looked vexed. "It is too painful to consider that someone would dare sew puce next to evergreen."

"Indeed, sir. Quite a horror."

"Indeed it is. Such a mockery of hues, such a waste of fabrics--" The tailor stopped, closed his eyes, and inhaled. "I must stop thinking about it or I shall go mad. My needle and patterns will calm me."

He opened the door to the tailor, and where Dobhin entertained a hope of their catching the Majesties in the throes of violent passion, the king and queen were standing at the centre of the room, Alasdair adjusting his new jerkin, and Carrigh standing behind him.

"Oh, Your Majesty," said Pastaddams, with a polite bow to the king. "I see Her Majesty has finished the alterations. What an exquisite design it is, isn't it, Your Majesty?"

"It is a beautiful piece," Alasdair heartily agreed, looking down at his chest and passing his hand over the embroidery. "Did you see Carrigh's matching bodice? Here, my darling, show him."

He stood aside, brought Carrigh forward, and drew her to his side to show how their matching pieces fit together, the pattern at Alasdair's waist continuing at his wife's.

"It is uncommonly lovely, Your Majesty. And such a welcome sight after what I've seen just now. Puce and evergreen together. Would you believe it? I should not, if I were you, for I never thought any tailor in Frewyn capable of making such a blemish, a stain, a disgrace. Such scandalous pieces as never I saw..."

Pastaddams went on in the same style, drawing Carrigh's attention and leaving Alasdair to sidle Dobhin and say, in a whisper, "Were you hoping to catch us again?"

"Of course, Brennin," said Dobhin, with a wry smile. "I should have knocked if I didn't mean to catch you."

Alasdair gave him a flat look, and Dobhin was all sagacious self-assurance.

"I thought you should know, Brennin," said Dobhin presently, "that the rat has been caught and killed."

"That is a relief," Alasdair sighed. "Now we might all eat in peace again knowing that nothing has been gnawed on or walked over. And," colouring and looking demure, "I suppose I should thank you for detaining Pastaddams."

"No need to thank me, Brennin. It was frightfully easy. The man talks on forever about fabric and thread count. When I told him that the Frewyn Players just received their new costumes from a rival tailor, he demanded that we visit the theatre directly, that he might tell them all how shabby they look and see how shoddily the costumes were done. He was there above an hour, decrying the poor seams and slatternly hems and contemptible materials. I do believe he enjoyed it, despite how heated he is about it now, and I think he means to make them all new costumes. He says it would be an outrage to allow them to perform in such a scandalous wreck."

Alasdair smiled and studied Pastaddams in the height of his passion, raving about mismatched colours and the excessive use of sequins, which was always an unforgiveable offense, and wondered that the poor tailor did not contrive to have the creator of such unpardonable horrors assassinated at once. "I think he might be at this for some time," Alasdair smiled.

"Perhaps we should leave them to themselves and see how the Den Asaan is getting on with his new ornament."

Alasdair looked bemused. "Rautu killed it?"

"I saw him walking with its body slung over his shoulder as we came in from the theatre. He was looking rather pleased with himself."

"He must have done something to make Martje angry if you saw him smiling."

This was eagerly agreed to, and as Dobhin excused himself and turned into the hallway, the call for afternoon tea was made. Searle came, in all his anxious solicitation, to tell the king that the rat was gone, that the kitchen cleaned, and that toast on table.

"We'll be there shortly. Thank you, Searle," said Alasdair, and as everyone began to congregate in the kitchen, Alasdair thought to himself that he never had a morning more agreeably spent, and wondered if another rat could not be found, that he might be prevailed upon to suspend proceedings for the afternoon session in favour of spending a few more hours locked away in the tailor with his lovely wife.

About the book
Featuring appearances from thirty of the Haanta series' most beloved characters, Tales from Frewyn Volume Two pays tribute to the animals that inhabit the world of the Two Continents. From Mr Cluck, the rooster that refuses to crow, to Tuatha, the stubborn Westren longhorn, the series boasts a multitude of strange and wonderful creatures, including traveling mice, mischievous mares, vicious rats, and eloquent gulls. Join everyone in Khantara Ghaasta, the Diras Castle keep, and the far reaches of Westren and Haantaledhran in honouring their feathered companions and furred friends with this collection of their most daring and delightful episodes.

Buy the book at: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Smashwords

About the author 
Michelle Franklin is a small woman of moderate consequence who writes many, many books about giants, romance, and chocolate.

Follow the author at: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway is open internationally and ends on December 25, 2013. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter and announced on the widget as well as emailed; they will have 48 hours to respond. Failure to respond will result in a new winner being selected. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter, or any other entity unless otherwise specified. Number of eligible entries received determines odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Paper Crane Books and sponsored by both the press and the author. Void where prohibited by law.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Amy Lignor's The Sapphire Storm -- Interview and {Contest}

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in an extremely small town in Northwest Connecticut. One of those towns where watching the leaves change was really the only big event to look forward to every year. (LOL) I grew up writing and researching. My mother is a career librarian, so books were definitely my thing. I love being inside a library; the smell of the books is as addictive to me as the smell of the ice is to a hockey player. I love history, I am a movie fanatic, and I am Mom to the most amazingly smart and beautiful girl on the planet. I love humour (sarcasm, but in a nice way), and I basically just get a real kick out of life.

Where did you come up with the idea for your new book?

I worked in a somewhat dull industry for a few years to pay the bills, and a co-worker and I were sitting in the office one day during the holiday season. No one was there; no phones were ringing, so we had coffee and chatted, and she began talking about her horoscope. She looked up this site to see what was coming up for her and I spotted a strange notation about the 13thsign. That night, literally, a monumental puzzle formed inside my mind. That was the night Leah Tallent and Gareth Lowery were born. ‘The Sapphire Storm’ came to me in a dream, if you can believe that, about a very famous cave.

How did you come up with your characters?

‘Tallent & Lowery’ came from that original puzzle. I could see Leah Tallent extremely clearly. She works in the building I desperately want to live in (NYPL). She’s on the sarcastic side, and she has this card catalogue of a mind that I so admire about librarians. Gareth Lowery was created to be her opposite. I needed to create a man that was strong, courageous and intelligent, but did not have that overwhelming ego you see so much in literature. Leah needed to meet someone who she could banter with, teach, yet learn from all at the same time. So his strength and his back story formed in my mind after Leah’s was already complete. I get a kick out of fans who ask if he’s real because they want to marry him. I completely understand; I want to marry him too. But, alas, not real. If there is one that charming out there, please let me know. (LOL)

Who did you show your first draft to and why?

My mother reads all of my first drafts. She is a career librarian and she cannot lie—seriously. You can tell by her expression if she can’t stand something. And seeing as that she’s read everything (this is a woman who reads about ten books a week minimum), she can always tell me if something’s already been over-explored, or changes need to be made, or something essential is required to enhance a story. So when she read ‘Tallent & Lowery’ for the first time and she literally couldn’t put it down, I knew I was on to something.

Do you have plans for a follow-up?

There have been three adventures for ‘Tallent and Lowery’ thus far: ‘13’, ‘The Sapphire Storm’, and now ‘The Hero’s Companion’, and there are seven scheduled for the series. I am now working on Book 4: ‘The Charlatan’s Crown’.

Open your book to a random page and tell us the first paragraph…

“The humming stopped. The jewels in the weapon blinked softly, looking like a million blue eyes just watching and waiting for the only one in this world who was permitted to hold it in their steady hands. As the snowflakes around him turned blue in the ancient light, the chamber once again grew peaceful . . . reverent . . . quiet—what it must feel like right before someone dies. And as sleep overtook him, Emmanuel begged the ‘powers that be’ to lead Leah Tallent safely through the sapphire storm.”

What is your favourite movie?

This is so difficult. Like my mother is with books, I have to see every movie that comes out. I am a nut about movies. I have a favourite for each and every genre, and even Top Ten lists for each genre are almost impossible for me to make up. The movie I’ve watched the most over the years, however, is the ‘Indiana Jones’ series.

What do you like to read?

Good books. (LOL) Reviewing for so many magazines and companies, I get a great deal; but my favourite author is Dean Koontz. He is the only writer I’ve seen who can scare me to death and in the middle of the scene throw in a dry joke that has me cracking up while still looking around to see if something or someone is watching me. The man is unbelievably gifted. Runner-up I give to Preston & Child and their amazingly addictive character, Aloysius Pendergast.

Where do you go to escape?

Directly into my books. I work out of a den with emerald-green walls and I walk in, boot up, get the coffee on, and travel into such amazing worlds with my characters that writing becomes not only my passion but my escape.

Do you have any pets?

A huge behemoth of a dog named Rueben, who’s both my critic and friend. He sits in that den with me and if I read something out loud he doesn’t like I receive sighs and snorts. If he likes where I’m going, his ears remain up and he looks truly happy. The only other time he looks happy is when ‘Sleepy Hollow’ is on TV – so...not quite sure what’s going on in my best friend’s brain. He could be as crazy as me. (LOL)

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

So clichĂ©, but this is an extremely tough industry. There are sharks in the water, there are hero’s who are so supportive they will be the best, most amazing friends you will ever make, and it’s a true roller-coaster ride. Just like life, writing can be a rough road. So, please make sure when you create your books, you are not thinking about agents or publishers while you write. If you love writing it has to come directly from your soul. Then the book will be published and the reader will know you gave it your all!

Would you recommend self-publishing or main stream publishing for first time novelists?

I have always stuck to traditional publishing. In this day and age it’s much easier because you can self-publish, but if you want to reach the masses or make this into a career one day, traditional publishers (although far more difficult to land), are the people who can help you do just that.

Where can we find you online?

I love talking to readers and writers. You can find me at:

Twitter: @HelloWritersAmy

Or send a letter to amylignor(at) with ‘Reader Question’ in the Subject Line. I’d love to hear from you!

Purchase Links for the print & digital versions of Tallent & Lowery:



Barnes & Noble



About the book

Title: The Sapphire Storm
Series: Tallent & Lowery
Author: Amy Lignor
Publisher: Suspense Publishing 
Formats Available In: Digital and Print
Release Date: March 5, 2013

After going up against a man who believed he was the Devil, himself, the beloved characters from 13 - Leah Tallent and Gareth Lowery - are beyond exhausted. Now they are about to embark on the most terrifying journey imaginable…a trip to meet Leah’s parents. When Leah arrives where the ‘home fires burn,’ her sarcasm burns even brighter, while Gareth Lowery - the handsome adventurer - uses his charm to sway the ‘odd’ Tallent clan. But when a frightening call from Gareth’s sister arrives telling him that her love has disappeared, the daring duo is soon running away from one horrific situation directly into another. A new puzzle from the past has come to life. Following clues left behind, the courageous couple becomes embedded in a world filled with liars, killers and greed.

And when the riddle of a famous ‘Bard’ is solved, a strange woman appears who has far more in common with Leah than she can possibly imagine! The heart-stopping suspense of this new quest takes them from Coptic Cairo to the magical world of Petra, in search of a cave deep underground that once housed a true ‘Illuminator.’

Yet again, they must find the answers and stay one step ahead of true villains who are determined to make sure that – this time – Tallent & Lowery do not survive.


Nothing mattered now except getting to the end of his journey…

A thunderous crash from up above sent Emmanuel’s heart into overdrive. The harsh winds had apparently slammed shut the door of rock that’d been built to protect the Treasury.

As he reached through the barrier of sapphire light to grab the object in front of him, Emmanuel screamed in pain as his flesh began to sizzle. Immediately, he ripped his hand from the ball of pulsating light and watched the steam rise off his now blackened fingers. A pair of cold blue eyes appeared and sent an evil hiss into the room.

Emmanuel found himself in a state of shock as the illusion simply disappeared. Holding his breath as pinpricks of yellow light appeared through the sapphire glow, he was mesmerized; they looked like tiny suns trapped in an intense blue sky. The excruciating pain of his burned flesh was forgotten when words appeared before his eyes. On and off like a light switch, the golden names materialized and danced along the shaft of the ancient weapon.

“I need Gareth Lowery,” Emmanuel whispered; his voice sounded foreign to him in the suddenly terrifying room.

Harsh winds raced down the staircase and pelted Emmanuel with shards of ice. He covered his face, trying to stop the sleet from blinding him, as the large weapon suddenly sliced through the air and knocked Emmanuel to his knees.

The golden names flashed brighter and brighter—faster and faster—familiar names from an ancient world. A shrill bell pealed through the room and Emmanuel covered his ears, as the chamber began to shake and mounds of snow cascaded down the narrow staircase like a white waterfall; an avalanche that successfully cut off any chance he had of escape . . . or rescue.

The rod hit the ceiling of the chamber and then plummeted to the floor. Emmanuel winced, praying it wouldn’t snap in two as it crashed to the ground. But the object simply stopped its descent, taking its original place between the two famous men. The sapphire light immediately dimmed and Emmanuel raised his gaze to stare through the now soft, blue beam, recognizing the one and only name that was now etched in golden script at the top of the shaft.

Emmanuel gasped. “It’s her?”

Crawling over to the staircase that was now buried by snow, he peered into the small pipe that stuck out from the wall. Emmanuel felt the pulse of the sapphire light coming from the center of the room; it felt as if the object was breathing. And once again he stared at her name, woven like a golden signature into the sapphire rod.

Closing his eyes, Emmanuel shoved his burned, raw hand into the snow bank that now barred his way to freedom. As his fingers went numb, he thought about the woman with eyes the exact same color of the magical artifact, and hope beat inside Emmanuel’s chest. She was brilliant. After all, she was the one who found Gareth the missing pieces of the puzzle that’d led him straight to the gate. It had been her strength, courage and wisdom that’d carried them through the darkness of a maniac’s mind in order to survive the first time . . . Her!

As a picture of the lovely lady appeared in his mind, Emmanuel smiled. She’d figure it out. After all, there was no better choice than a brilliant librarian who never took the facts at face value to follow in the footsteps of Shakespeare.

Emmanuel put his mouth against the pipe and screamed, “Leah!”

The shout echoed through the ancient pipes, and Emmanuel closed his eyes. His insides grew numb as the air inside the chamber began to freeze his soul.

“Leah,” his voice cracked. “Please help me.”

As the snowflakes around him turned blue, the chamber one again turned peaceful . . . reverent . . . quiet—what it must feel like right before someone dies. And as sleep overtook him, Emmanuel begged any and all ‘powers that be’ to help lead Leah Tallent safely through the sapphire storm.


Ms. Lignor penned another great novel that grabs you immediately and takes you on the ride of your life. In this sequel to the novel, 13, we find Leah Tallent and Gareth Lowery heading to Leah’s parents’ house in Connecticut for the Christmas holiday.

This is the last place that Leah really wants to be right now, but Gareth is trying to convince her that it’ll only be for a few days. While kicking off the festivities, Gareth receives an unexpected call from his sister, Kathryn, and finds her hysterical on the other end of the phone. She says that her fiancĂ©, Emmanuel, has gone off on some exhibition and he hasn’t called to check in with her. She feels that something is seriously wrong and fears that he could even be dead. Gareth explains his situation to the Tallent family and tells them that it’s a matter of life or death and unfortunately, he must leave. It’s at this moment Tallent & Lowery’s adventure truly begins. I loved this second story in the series and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next adventure.

Ms. Lignor has a way of interweaving historical facts with legends and she adds just enough magic to make you devour the pages in record time. This sequel is a fantastic addition to this amazing series. I highly recommend it! – Night Owl Reviews “TOP PICK”


“A flat-out, slam-dunk, no-questions-asked-terrific-adventure. Try not to turn the pages too fast because the wonderfully complex characters deserve your time! This is truly a magical story that had me in its thrall from the very first page. It’s so exciting to discover a new talent like Lignor and have more books to look forward to.”—International Bestseller, M.J. Rose


“Full of mystery, wrapped up in just enough historical fact to make it all seem so real, and with plenty of sizzle between the two main characters, “The Sapphire Storm” is a definite winner!” —Ellen Feld, The Feathered Quill


“This masterfully told page turner is fresh, innovative, descriptive, and intense but I must warn you, prepare to stay up late because it’s not a story you can easily put down. I was blown away by Ms. Lignor’s knowledge and imagination and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. I want more!!!!” —Cat Kalen, author of the RT’s ‘Top Pick’ Pride Series


“After the brilliance of “13,” book one in the series, it would take a jewel to outshine it. Amy Lignor finds that jewel with “The Sapphire Storm.” It is a storm of brilliant writing and amazing characters. I cannot wait for the next installment of the Tallent & Lowery series. Encore!” —J.M. LeDuc, author of “Cursed Days”

The Big Thrill Magazine Feature (November Issue)

Purchase Links:

Amazon EBook
Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Paperback

About the author
The daughter of a career librarian, Amy Lignor’s first love has always been books. She began her career in publishing as the Editor-in-Chief of Grey House Publishing. Working in the industry for twenty years, she is now the Owner/Operator of ‘The Write Companion’, an editorial house offering authors a range of services.

Appointed the Editor-in-Chief of a brand new traditional publisher–Hallowed Ink Press–Amy somehow finds the time to do it all while still putting out the most amazing series that has received every ‘Top Pick’ readers can think of!

Her popular YA Series: The Angel Chronicles (Until Next Time, Gilded Wings & A Privilege), introduced her to fans who now wait with bated breath for the next ‘Tallent & Lowery’ suspense/thriller to arrive.

Inducted into the International Thriller Writers Organization, Amy is also a writer/contributor for various magazines, companies, and review organizations; Authorlink, The Feathered Quill, Suspense Magazine and more.



Check Out Amy Lignor’s HIT YA Series at:

The Angel Chronicles website
The Angel Chronicles Facebook page

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