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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Horse Charmer Chapter One


Chapter One





Her hand shading her eyes, Princess Cassia watched the bird glide over the outer walls of Castle Karah. A small shiver went down her spine when she saw it was a Royalty, a special messenger eagle used only to convey urgent messages. He swooped over her and across the stable yard to land on his perch.
The Royalty squawked and ruffled his feathers. He snapped and bit the young page who tried to take the message from him. Cassia shook her head at the boy as he backed away from the Royalty clutching his hand. The eagle would only release the letter to someone of high rank. She wondered briefly what the eagle could be carrying, but got distracted when her horse jumped underneath her. She focused on the young stallion as he bobbed his head.
“Good boy,” Cassia said in a soft voice, soothing him until he settled down.
Her brothers raced their horses around her, spinning and weaving the buckets and poles positioned throughout the corral. She’d set up the obstacle course for them early that morning. They’d all just been released from their lessons a short time ago and had raced down to the stable yard. Her brothers tackled the course with gusto. Of course, they would be doing better if they actually did the pattern she’d set up.
She sighed in exasperation. At sixteen, she was the eldest child and heir to the throne of Karah, a job she was not looking forward to. If she’d had a choice in the matter she would spend the rest of her life in the stable with the horses. It was the one place she felt at ease. Even the grouchy stable master admitted she had an uncanny gift with the horses.
Tully, her youngest brother at eight years old, raced under her stallion’s nose.
“Tully, heels!” Cassia yelled out automatically.
She was supposed to be helping them with their equitation today. She turned to look at Faolan and nearly rolled her eyes. At ten years old, he still hadn’t outgrown his clumsy and awkward phase.
“Faolan, your elbows, tuck them in!”
Gordain was the second eldest at twelve years old. The oldest boy took his job as leader seriously. He constantly tried to prove himself and often pushed his horse farther than he could control.
 “Gordain, he’s a horse, not a goat,” Cassia said. “Don’t punish him for something he can’t do.”
Her stallion shifted to look toward the outside gate and she followed his gaze. She smiled in delight as she heard it; the unmistakable sound of hoof beats racing toward Castle Karah.
Two guards ran to the gate and barely pulled it open in time. A large herd of horses, around forty, raced in. A single horse and rider followed the herd, the Horse Wrangler Luki, one of the few people she considered a real friend.
Luki pulled his horse up as the guards shut the gate behind him. Tanned and with sun-bleached blonde hair, he sat on his tall Palomino stallion naturally. Luki spotted her and waved. Cassia slid off her horse.
A stable hand climbed into the large corral and she handed the reins to him with a quick thanks. Luki rode his horse up to the corral and Cassia stood on the bottom rail of the fence next to him.
“Princess Cassia,” Luki said with a salute.
“Luki.” Cassia bowed her head in the customary greeting, but also to hide the blush creeping up her cheeks. His horse snorted at her. “Dall.” Dall sneezed on her in response. She laughed and looked back up to Luki, her momentary shyness forgotten. “Large bunch.”
The milling horses neighed and trotted about the yard. Several stable hands were trying to keep the herd contained on this side of the yard, but weren’t having a lot of luck.
“Took a while to gather them.” Luki fidgeted with his reins. She watched his fingers, surprised by the restless gesture. “I found a special one for you.”
She smiled and fought the urge to lunge forward and hug him. There were too many people around to witness it. Luki smoothed Dall’s mane as he leaned down closer to her face. She glanced over the herd.
“A present?” Cassia tried to sound nonchalant, at both the prospect of the gift and him being so close to her.
“She’s for you.” He shrugged while somehow maintaining his position. 
“Where is she?”
He pointed at a petite dark bay mare in the center of the milling herd. She was delicate in build and fluid in movement as she pivoted to look at them as if she knew they were talking about her.
“She’s beautiful,” Cassia said in awe.
She looked the mare over closely and the mare stared right back at her.
“I found her—”
The door from Castle Karah leading into the yard banged open interrupting what Luki was about to say. An escort of Royal Guards stepped out into the yard. Cassia’s mother, Queen Sarahann, followed directly behind them. Tall and elegant, she embodied everyone’s vision of what a queen should be. Her dark brown hair was swept up into intricate braids complimenting the pattern on her gown.  
The Royal Guards led Sarahann across the yard to the platform where the Royalty perched. Sarahann waved Cassia to her not even having to look to know where her daughter would be. Cassia sighed in response and climbed over the fence. Luki saluted her with a laugh and a wink. He spun Dall and headed to the main barn to meet up with the stable master.
“Gordain,” Cassia called in her sternest voice. “You’re in charge until I return. No fooling around.”
“Do you think the message is from father?” Gordain walked his chestnut gelding up to the fence. His dark brown eyes watched their mother as his eyebrows came together into his worried mask.
“We’ll find out soon.”
She walked through the milling horses to the platform, touching the wild horses instinctively along the way. They parted and made a pathway unafraid of her presence. Royal Guard Captain Maconhay turned with a brief smile and offered his hand. Cassia took it and he easily pulled her up onto the platform.
Once Cassia had joined her, Sarahann took the note from the Royalty. The Royalty snapped at her, but didn’t bite as she untied the scroll and unrolled it impatiently. Her face drained of color as she read. Stumbling, she leaned heavily against the perch and startled the Royalty into flight.
Royal Guard Arlen moved in to support her. “Your Highness?”
Sarahann shook her head, pulling free from his grasp.
Cassia tried to read the message that had upset her mother. Sarahann never showed her emotions in public. “What’s happened?”   
“Dear Queen Sarahann of Karah,” she said, reading the paper. “I unfortunately have the task of informing you of distressing events that have just occurred. Your husband, King Robet of Karah, was killed late last night. I am currently inquiring into the circumstances of his death. My deepest regret and sympathies go to you. Signed, King Erich of Vespera.”
The sounds of the yard faded into the background, until all Cassia could hear was her mother’s voice. She stepped back into Maconahay, shaking her head in denial. He took her arm and pulled her up against him.
“Princess?” Maconahay inquired in a concerned voice.
“No!” Cassia yelled. “That’s false. What he says is a lie.”
Sarahann opened her arms to embrace her. “Cassia.”
“No!”
She twisted out of Maconahay’s grip and leapt off the platform into the milling horses. The horses parted and made a path for her escape. Maconahay tried to follow, but the horses closed in, preventing him from reaching her. Cassia dashed through the herd toward the stable.
“Cassia!” Luki ran along the edge of the herd heading for her.
She darted aside to avoid him. The horses, she needed to be alone with the horses. She couldn’t handle seeing anyone right now. She sobbed and her vision blurred as she headed for the barn. Luki grabbed her arm and spun her around to face him.
“Cassia! What’s wrong?”
 She struggled against his grip, kicking his legs before the fight went out of her and she crumpled into him with a huge sob. The herd of horses closed around them into a protective cocoon. 
♘♘♘
Cassia jerked out of sleep. Rising up on her knees to escape the nightmare, she glanced around her room wildly as her breathing slowed and she dropped her head into her hands. She was safe and in her own bed. The nightmare tickled the back of her mind and she shoved it aside not wanting to see the few scattered images that stayed with her.  
A soft snore interrupted her and she looked up at her handmaid Yaffa sleeping in a chair.  Where was her other handmaiden? She would have expected Ula, the older and senior handmaiden, to be watching over her. Ula rarely let Yaffa do anything beyond assisting her.  But Ula was no where in her large bedchamber. It jarred her to see her room looking the way it should look. With the world ending, her room shouldn’t remain the same.
Careful not to make any noise, she slid out of bed and pulled on her robe over her sleeping gown and slipped her feet into her boots. She tiptoed across the wooden floor and around the sitting chairs to get to the door. Glancing back, she made sure Yaffa hadn’t woken up before tiptoeing past her dressing room which doubled as a small bedchamber for her two handmaidens. Ula had to be in there. 
She eased her door open. The horses beckoned to her. She glanced about her and ran down the empty hallway to a back staircase. Stopping at the large wood door at the bottom of the stairs, she cautiously opened it to peek out the crack into the stable yard. She sighed in relief when she saw it was still early and there wasn’t much activity. Just a few stable lads going about their chores. Careful to keep to the shadows, she worked her way to the main barn at the other end of the yard.
The barn was quiet and empty of people as she hurried down the long aisle of stalls. The presence of the horses worked its way through her like a soothing balm. The stallion she’d been riding earlier nickered as soon as he spotted her. Cassia patted his head and reached to unlatch his stall. She stopped. Someone was watching her. She turned to the stall across from him.
The petite mare Luki had given her looked back at her. Even in the dim light, the mare was achingly beautiful compared to the bulky mountain horses around her. Cassia slowly approached her and opened the stall door. The mare pawed and huffed at her, but stepped back as Cassia entered. She shut the door behind her and sat in the corner of the stall. The mare eyed her a moment before walking over and blowing hot air across her face. Cassia smiled slightly as she reached up to pet the mare’s soft nose.
“He picked a beauty,” she whispered. “But he usually does. Father,” her breath hitched, “always said Luki had a good eye when it came to horses.”
Resting her forehead on her knees, she cried quietly. The mare stood silently over her washing Cassia with her calm presence. A connection pulsed between her and the mare, and if she wasn’t so focused on her grief, she would have explored it. 
A soft crunch outside the stall was the first warning she had that she was no longer alone. The mare lifted her head in challenge to the intruder. Cassia pushed back and winced at the rustle of hay. The footsteps stopped, the unmistakable sound of a short sword sliding from a leather sheath echoed in the quiet.
“Whoever’s in the stall better step out,” Luki demanded.
She wiped the tears from her face and slowly stood up. The mare nuzzled her and she gave her a final pat before stepping out of the stall.
“Cassia.” He dropped the sword down to his thigh and turned red. “I mean, Princess Cassia, I apologize. If I’d known it was you, I wouldn’t have…I’m sorry about your father.”
 She’d been sobbing against his shoulder not too long ago. A blush crept up her cheeks at the memory. In fact, that was the last thing she remembered. She had no idea how she’d gotten from the stable yard to her room. Had he carried her? 
“Thank you for your sympathy.” Even to her own ears she sounded wooden and insincere. “I should get back.”
He nodded uncomfortably and saluted. “I won’t detain you, Your Highness.”
She hesitated a moment before walking past him. He touched her shoulder as she passed and she turned in question. Maybe he’d find a way to ease this sudden awkwardness.
“If you need anything from me, Princess.”
Tears were coming back and she was not going to bawl in front of him again. She squeezed his hand in thanks and left the stable. As soon as she stepped through the door into the castle, chaos greeted her. Dozens of servants ran about the halls in urgency. Cassia was taken aback, her tears forgotten, she grabbed at the nearest young maid running past her.
“What’s the matter?” Cassia asked.
“The Princess is missing,” the maid said, her eyes growing big as she realized whom she was talking to. “Princess? We’ve been lookin’ for you.” She looked down at her feet. “Sorry, I was told you’d disappeared and we’re to find you at once.”
“Where’s my mother?”
“She’s searchin’ for you, Your Highness.”
“Let it be known I’ve been found and have returned to my quarters.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” the maid said with a curtsy and hurried off.
Cassia went back to her room. Yaffa and Ula jumped up at her entrance. 
“Princess,” Ula scolded. “You didn’t go out in that!”
“I did indeed.” Strangely, the usual scolding was a comfort.  
“What would your parents say?” Ula asked, tsking, appearing not to notice she’d included both parents in the statement.
Cassia turned away from them to gaze out her window. Ula hadn’t meant anything by what she’d said, but it still hurt. How long had it been since they’d received the message from King Erich?
“Ula?” Cassia asked.
“Yes, Princess.”
“How long was I asleep?” She watched several stable hands lead the horses away from the barn to the grass pens. One of the horses was the mare Luki had given her. The mare paused, jerking the stable hand to a stop, and looked up at her window.
“A long time,” Ula answered quietly. “You woke in the night very upset. I gave you a tonic to help you sleep. You were up much sooner than I expected.”
Ula patted her on her back before sweeping Cassia’s robe off of her shoulders. Yaffa came out of the dressing room with a gown. Both maids stopped their preparations as the door burst open.
Sarahann stepped into the room and waved her hand to dismiss Yaffa and Ula. They curtsied and darted into the dressing room. Cassia stared at her mother in amazement. She’d never seen her look anything but perfect. Now, however, her braids hung limply to the side and her dress, which was wrinkled, appeared to be the same one she’d had on yesterday.
“I can’t believe you’d be so selfish and thoughtless as to run off and disappear without a single word to anyone.” Sarahann glared at her daughter.
She pulled herself together. “I needed some time to myself.”
“We all need time alone.” Sarahann sat on the high-backed chair at the writing desk. “That’s not an excuse. You are the Princess of Karah. You must think of those around you.”
“Those around me?” Cassia had absolutely no idea what her mother was talking about which actually wasn’t an unusual thing.
“You may have lost your father, but the people have lost their king. A king is more important than a father. With Robet’s death, Karah will fall into disorder.”
“They still have their queen.”
“I’m their queen by marriage, not blood.”
“But—” she began to protest.
“You know how things are, and if you don’t, your education has been lacking. The people need a leader. You’ll be it. You’ll calm them down.”
“I’m not ready to rule Karah,” Cassia protested. It hadn’t occurred to her to think past her father’s death to what this would mean for her.  
“Don’t worry yourself,” Sarahann said with a bitter laugh. “It’ll be in name only. The advisors and I will do the dirty work.” Sarahann sighed and stood up. “I don’t have time to discuss this with you.” She walked to the door. “I must insist that you not go anywhere without telling your handmaidens. Get dressed. The village leaders are waiting in the hall to express their sympathies.”
“What about the boys?” The guilt hit her. How had her brothers taken the news? She should have gone to them as soon as she’d woken up.
“Their nursemaid is looking after them,” Sarahann said.
She started to ask if she should go see them, but stopped herself at the set look on her mother’s face. Sarahann slammed the door behind her. Ula and Yaffa burst out of the dressing room with expectant expressions on their faces. She turned away from them trying to compose herself. The tears threatened to erupt again.  

Want to know what happens next? :-) 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Coming Soon - Spectors


Spectors is an adult space opera about a space pirate who almost loses everything she cares about when she’s blackmailed into running a dangerous mission for the military. 

Space pirate, Captain Kristy Ryan, is blackmailed by the Military Space Alliance into running a dangerous mission with her crew to discover what is infiltrating the planets in the Border Zone. Crucial information is withheld by the MSA and the alien tries to take over her ship. When her pilot and lover is possessed by the alien presence, Kristy risks everything to save him by taking her ship into the heart of the aliens’ stronghold.

Spectors by Angelia Almos is coming mid-December.

Friday, November 25, 2011

30% Off The Beast's Redemption

The Wild Rose Press is offering a 30% discount on Black Friday. Enter the code e8f302ffef at checkout on November 25 to get 30% off your entire order. If you haven't gotten The Beast's Redemption yet, here's your chance to get it for only $2.63 (normally, $3.75).


The Beast's Redemption by Angie Derek

Cursed shape shifter, Alexander Léandre, is resigned to his fate, but that doesn’t stop him from hunting down the descendants of the sorceress who bewitched him in hopes of obtaining a cure.

Belle Beaumont is used to men never looking past her curvy figure and pretty face. She dutifully agrees to befriend Alexander in order to protect her father’s herbal company.

A single touch changes all. Passions flare. When Belle discovers what Alexander is truly after and why, will she accept him for what he is? And will her love and family knowledge be enough to break a hundred-year-old curse?

Excerpt:


The secret smile affected him much more than the practiced ones she’d already given him.

“When are you going to start asking me questions?” he asked.

Belle cocked her head and pursed her lips. His blood spiked, the talisman warmed, and he pulled back from his baser instincts. This was getting ridiculous.

“What am I supposed to be interrogating you on, Mr. Léandre?” Belle’s voice was slightly breathless.

His blood responded even while his brain told him she did it on purpose. “Why did you agree to have dinner with me?”

“You’re interrogating me, now?” She shrugged. Her jacket shifted, revealing the curves he’d been trying to see earlier.

He wasn’t sure he could make it to the restaurant before he ravished her and that pissed him off. There had to be magic at work here. He shouldn’t be reacting to her as deeply as he was.

“I’m here, because you asked,” Belle answered.

He had to touch her even if it was a mistake. Alexander shook his head and reached out to slide a finger along her thigh. He noted with satisfaction her heart speeding up at the contact. “I didn’t ask.”

“Okay, you threw down a challenge. Why did you?”

http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=4632

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Coming Soon - Whitelighter

Whitelighter is a steamy contemporary paranormal novella about a young witch whose special powers make her a target of any vampire who catches sight of her.

Lily Conner is a witch with an unusual side affect to her powers – she glows like a neon white light to all supernatural creatures. A vampire who kills her will absorb her light gaining the ability to use magic. Two years ago her family was killed when a pack of vampires followed her home. She barely escaped with her toddler sister in tow. Now she lives on the run with her four-year-old sister and a vampire bodyguard.

Reyes Vega lost his whitelighter sister to vampires several years ago. When he meets Lily and her sister, he knows he can’t let another whitelighter fall victim to the vampires and sets out to protect her from the same fate as his sister. Together they go on the run to visit his whitelighter mother for help. But they might be running to danger instead of away from it. 

Whitelighter by Angie Derek is coming mid-December.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sprinkling Retellings With A Touch of Original

I love adaptations and retellings. There's something about the challenge of taking something classic and making it your own. My first attempt was The Beast's Redemption my Beauty and the Beast story. I'm currently toying with the idea of another retelling and was thinking about how to pay homage to the original. This got me to thinking about what elements I included from the original fairy tale and other adaptations in The Beast's Redemption

If you haven't read The Beast's Redemption beware the spoilers below. I wanted to talk about the elements I included from the original fairy tale as well as other adaptations.

Names
My heroine is named Belle - the original name of Beauty (and the Disney version). Her surname and the hero's name are also French. My little nod to the fairy tale's origin.

Rose
I wanted the rose as a symbol in the story. It makes three appearances. 1) As a single red rose Alexander gives to Belle. 2) The rose emblem on the amulet Alexander wears. 3) The rose journal which has the answer to breaking the curse.

Gold Dress
I had fun inserting the gold ball gown from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. It isn't the same style, but it is gold and sets up a scene for Alexander to offer his assistance to Belle and show his kindness.

Curse
The curse is the core of the fairy tale and I tried to keep it at the core of The Beast's Redemption.

Lion
In Disney's Beauty and The Beast, The Beast looks similar to a lion. This gave me the inspiration for Alexander to be a mountain lion shape shifter.  

Father
In the original story, the father trades his lovely daughter to the Beast to save himself (it's a little more complicated than that as she does volunteer to go). I wanted to keep this idea of the father sending his daughter to the Beast which is why Mercer asks Belle to keep Alexander occupied after Alexander calls in a loan Mercer can not repay.

So now I get to think about my new retelling and how I'll include small and large elements from the original and other adaptations into my own story.

Speaking of adaptations, I can't wait for the latest big screen fairy tale adaptation:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Too Little, Too Much, Just Enough - Adult Content Warning

Content Warning on the Post.

I wish there was a way to set an adult content warning on individual posts instead of the entire blog. Anyone know a way?

Back to the content warning. I'm going to discuss the steamy/sexy side of my Angie Derek pen name. So if you're under 18 please skip this post.
A steamy Angie Derek title.
Okay, on to the actual post. My first paranormal novella The Beast's Redemption came out in September. Since then I've gotten some excellent feedback - can we say how much a writer loves hearing a reader enjoyed their book. But I've also gotten feedback which was luke warm - writers don't love that quite as much.

But the luke warm feedback also makes me laugh because it had to do with the level of sex in the book. Some of you might already know I wrote The Beast's Redemption as a Beauty and the Beast adaption for a publisher's submission call. I loved writing the book and taking the challenge up - the challenge being to write very sexy, cough, translate to lots of sex in the book. This was a new one for me.

You might not know that the book was rejected by the publisher because it didn't have enough sex in it. I shook off the rejection and sent it to TWRP who loved it. Yay! It found a home within the paranormal Black Rose line though I later learned we had to change a few words to keep it in the paranormal line. If I had wanted those words to remain, it would have been published within their Scarlet Rose (erotic) line.

Now to what makes me laugh. The complaint was. The sex happened too soon and might have been too much of it. My first thought is, but it originally got rejected because the sex didn't happen soon enough and there wasn't enough.

I know not everyone is going to like my books or the style in which I'm writing for the Angie Derek name and that's okay. But it still makes me laugh when I consider The Beast's Redemption's road to publication.

My upcoming paranormal novella, Whitelighter, is just as steamy (meaning the sex happens early). I do take more time building the sexual tension in Mafia Secret, but it is also novel length which allows me more time to do that. Yet, I would rate Mafia Secret even steamier when it comes to the sex scenes due to the hero's fondness for bondage.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Love What You Do

When I first start writing and learning, cough, craft. I hated writing. Seriously. I can remember hating the act of writing, but loving the stories. The characters lived in my head and wanted their stories told. I used to say I hated the act of writing, but loved having written.

I realized recently I hadn't thought or said that phrase in a very long time. Why I wondered? What had changed?

The change, I believe, is I became more comfortable with my skill level. Not that I'm not still learning. I fully realize I will never stop learning and improving. But I'm comfortable with my level of craft and know I can improve in particular areas when I set my mind to it.

Now the act of writing (or revising) is no longer torturous. I love writing. I love revising. Are there parts I don't like? Of course, but it's different with different books. Perhaps, a particular scene is just nagging at me and I can't seem to get it right. That's frustrating and doesn't make the process a lot of fun in that moment. But that scene will resolve itself one way or another. Then I get back to writing the good stuff. 

Because I love what I do.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Withdrawal

Something I should have factored in, but completely failed to consider with my bubble experiment was withdrawal. I am going through social media withdrawal big time.

I go to my blogger feed - no new blogs. Go to Twitter - only five new tweets since the last time I checked. Facebook - I can actually find people in the feeds - wow.

What it amounts to is I now have way more time to work, but I don't want to (insert whine). How can I feel like I'm doing something when I'm procrastinating and no one is talking? LOL

I know this is what I wanted. Less noise. More time to focus on my own stuff. But, shoot, I should have factored in the withdrawal period. I'm being good, well mostly good, I did add back a few people to twitter, though promptly removed two when they filled up my tweet stream. But I have not reloaded my blog feed. It's not that I really read those blogs, but I spent time scrolling through the feed to find what I did want to read. Now it's right in front of me. No hunting and wasting time looking for the blog posts I actually read.

A class is being offered at one of my chapters which I will probably at least lurk in - going against the bubble again. But it's on the business side of writing and I would like to learn more about LLCs and whether it would be a good idea for me to form one.

How do you balance your social media?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What's In A Name

Southern Belle and Me.
A reader recently pointed out that I tend to include the names of my pets in my books. Obviously a reader who knows me personally to make the observation, but it made me think. Do I?

Horse Charmer - Kali isn't a name of a pet, but she was inspired by my horse Kristy. I also had a pony named Cassie as a kid which is pretty close to Cassia. There also was in a previous draft long ago a character named Bear - we had a horse named Bear when I was a kid. Bear might reappear in a sequel.
The Beast's Redemption - Belle is actually the original name of Beauty in Beauty and the Beast so I didn't consciously choose to name her after a pet, but I can't deny that I did have a horse named Southern Belle (picture on the left). 
Spectors (upcoming space opera) - Yeah, my heroine is named after my horse Kristy and it was on purpose. :-)
Whitelighter (upcoming steamy paranormal) - Nope, not a single name, but it did original have a horse in it before I had to edit her out due to plausibility issues.
Unicorn Keep (upcoming young adult fantasy) - I did name her pony after one of my ponies, Ginger.

Sometimes names come to me and other times I do a lot of research and searching to find just the right name. What about you? Any recurring themes or names popping up in your manuscripts?