Friday, January 24, 2020

THE WITCH-QUEEN. Legends of Winatuke, Book 1


THE WITCH-QUEEN, Legends of Winatuke, Book 1
By Sarah J. McNeal
(Formerly: THE DARK ISLE)
Fire Star Press
Buy Links: Paperback   Kindle


The legend begins when love and evil collide.

Blurb:

The Dark Isle has been a refuge for evil since time began in the world of Winatuke, and the most depraved and wicked of them all is the witch-queen, Mahara, who rules over the malignant kingdom of darkness.

Mahara has taken a captive, a prince of the Nimway people, and she plans to use him for the revenge that burns in her soul. By forcing her own daughter, Isadore, into marriage with Prince Gabriel, she hopes to gain the power she craves over the Nimway—especially her ex-lover and Isadore’s father, Raven.

Her scheme goes awry when love begins to grow between Isadore and Gabriel. Isadore realizes the only way to save Gabriel is for them to escape together, but at the last minute, that plan fails. Separated from Gabriel,  Isadore is forced to continue to the Nimway kingdom of Valmora alone to seek help from her mother’s enemies.

Once Isadore gains their trust, Gabriel’s brother, Raphael, volunteers to travel to present-day Earth to get help. To save his brother, he must bring Raven back to the world of Winatuke, and ask him to risk his own life in the battle against Mahara’s evil forces.

It seems an impossible task. How can they ever defeat Mahara? With the evil forces she can summon at will, it seems Gabriel’s life will be forfeit. But Isadore refuses to allow that, risking her own life to save him. Forced to follow her heart, Isadore wonders if she can ever win her father’s trust or Gabriel’s love. She only knows she must defeat her mother’s evil vendetta for all time. No matter the consequences she must vanquish THE WITCH-QUEEN



Excerpt: (Isadore and Prince Gabriel)

Isadore reached the bottom of the stair and made her way with tentative care down the narrow passage to the prisoner's cell. She had never ventured this far before. The dungeon was an awful place. It smelled of damp stone, urine, and fear.

In the shadows of the cell, she made out the Nimway's form as he stood facing the wall beyond the iron bars with his back to her. He stood tall with a broad back that tapered to a narrow waist and hips. From his back sprang two large, yellow wings etched in black. They reminded her of the stained glass windows now falling from their frames in the abandoned chapel of the north wing. The glow from a burning torch shone through his hair and, in spite of its unkempt length and its need of washing, it gleamed like a golden halo in the flickering torchlight. There he stood, magnificent and beautiful, the Heir Apparent to the throne of Valmora, Prince Gabriel of Fionn.

He must have sensed her presence because he started to turn toward her. Her heart pounded against her ribs. She could not catch her breath. Inside her mind her thoughts ran in excited disarray. But a smart rap on her shoulder gained her immediate attention. A gasp escaped her when she turned to find her mother standing close behind her. Mahara had found her out. "What do you think you are doing, Isadore?" Her black eyes darkened and narrowed with suspicion. Without waiting for an answer she grabbed Isadore’s hand in a painful grasp and jerked her around. "Come with me NOW," Mahara commanded.

Excerpt: (Prince Raphael and Rose)

He gazed into her frightened eyes. "You must never take my world, the Nimway or the Black Blood Clan so lightly. There are battles being fought between good and evil every day of which you know nothing." He clasped her arms tightly in his hands. "So know this: Mahara wants one thing more than any other—your father. She has the blood lust. She will use any means that will get her what she wants. Raven managed to slip through her hands and, worse, he took his true love with him. If you think, she has forgotten this affront you are very much mistaken. She never forgets. Even now, she is thinking of a way to take revenge, and when she figures out how to carry out her diabolical plan, God save us all."

He loosened his grip on her arms and noticed with dismay the red marks his hands had made. Raphael bent down and kissed the marks on her arms. She sighed then leaned her head back with her eyes closed. He could not help himself as he embraced her in his arms. She dropped her head on his chest and wove her arms around his waist. His heart hammered in his chest. "I am sorry." He spoke softly in her ear. His breath caught as he removed the yellow, plastic clip from her hair and released its dazzling brilliance that fell to her waist in flowing locks of fiery copper.

It was almost painful being in her embrace. She held on to him because she was afraid. He knew that. But the nearness of her made him drunk with joy all the same. He tangled his hand in her hair and slowly lowered his mouth to hers. She responded to his kiss and Raphael burned with desire somewhere between heaven and hell. Oh God, how I want her, how I love her. If only there was some way—

She pushed away from him. Her voice was too high when she spoke and it wavered. "No. This can't happen." Her hand flew to her mouth as if to wipe away his kiss. "This can never be. Your dream was just a dream. Dad won't believe this so called telling dream of yours or your terrifying prediction. I can tell you for a fact you need never be concerned that I would ever entertain the idea of entering the dark world of Winatuke where you live. So, you can cease your concerns." She turned on her heel and left him standing there.






QUEST FOR THE LIGHT OF VALMORA, Legends of Winatuke, book 3


Quest For The Light Of Valmora (To Release February 12)
Legends of Winatuke, Book 3
By Sarah J. McNeal
Fire Star Press
Buy Links: Pre-order


A quest for a magical light...A Gypsy’s love…And a warrior’s sacrifice



Blurb:

The evil witch-queen, Mahara, has returned to the Dark Isle after her exile, even more determined for revenge on those who have tried to thwart her evil plans—and that vengeance begins with capturing Raven McKnight!

Raven’s son, Falcon, has distanced himself from the family after the near-death of his younger brother, Peregrine, which he believes was his fault. But now, he must push his feelings aside and return to save his father and the entire realm of Winatuke. Falcon, filled with self-doubt, knows he’s not an exceptional warrior. On top of that, he’s falling for Izabelle, the beautiful Gypsy woman who is Peregrine’s love—and that, he cannot allow.

Izabelle quickly comes to understand that her heart’s desire is for Falcon’s love—not Peregrine’s—whose affection seems to be solely for his music and his violin. As the terrible meaning of the QUEST FOR THE LIGHT OF VALMORA reveals itself fully, the sacrifices that Izabelle and Falcon must make seem unimaginable, and likely, unattainable. Neither of them may survive. Can Izabelle bring the Light of Valmora in time to vanquish Mahara and her cruel vengeance?

With the witch-queen’s anger aimed directly at her old flame, Raven, Falcon understands the only way to save his father is to take his place. No matter the consequences to himself, it’s the only way to keep everyone he loves safe from Mahara’s vindictive punishment. But will Falcon be able to survive even one night in her demonic captivity?



Excerpt:

A mist crawled on phantom fingers along the forest floor as twilight threatened. Ebony trees, bereft of leaves, stood like soldiers that reached for heaven through the gloom. An unnatural silence fell upon the forest. Woodland creatures burrowed deep into the earth to seek comfort, their hearts fluttered with apprehension. A living cloud of birds darted across the darkening sky in an attempt to fly to the safety of some distant place where the light still held. Cicadas hushed their chatter and held themselves tight against the rough bark of the old oaks to become invisible. Not even the wind dared to breathe.

A few thin clouds clung to the darkening sky as the pale moon rose from the horizon. Out of the breech of trees, a horse with glowing red eyes galloped and upon its back, a rider appeared clothed in a dark cloak, its face shrouded in the depths of the darkened hood. The specter approached with urgent speed, hooves thundered on the forest floor and scattered dead leaves in its wake. Close enough now, a face appeared in the bleak light of the sunset. Its skin, unnaturally white and bloodless, glowed in the faded light. Obsidian tendrils snaked out of the hood to ride in the wake of the wind created by the swift ride.

Closer and closer she rode. Her soulless eyes filled with malice, glittered with death. Thin lips peeled back from her sharpened teeth as she croaked, "I'm coming for you and death to all who stand in my way." Upon the heels of her ominous threat, a hideous peel of laughter pierced the quiet while the shadows of night enveloped the Earth. The witch-queen of the Dark Isle rode with malignant purpose.

Mahara!

Excerpt:

Without further comment, he scooped her up in his arms and waltzed with her to the place directly in front of the musicians. Falcon caught Peregrine's eyes and saw in them indifference. Anger swelled inside him. Peregrine could be such an ass. Didn't he care that Falcon danced with Izabelle much too close? What did Izabelle see in his apathetic brother who displayed nothing of the concern or interest he should in this astonishing woman?

Well, things are about to change.

Falcon dipped Izabelle low with only his arm to keep her from falling. He leaned over her body draped across his arm and inhaled her sweet essence floating on the night air. Her breath hitched and her eyes glittered in the dim light as she peered at him, those eyes wide and bright with surprise.

He lowered his mouth and touched his lips to hers.

CURSED, Legends of Winatuke, book 2


CURSED, Legends of Winatuke, book 2
(Formerly The Lake of Sorrows)
By Sarah J. McNeal
Fire Star Press
Buy Links:

The Legend continues with A Curse…A Quest…and Undying Love.

Blurb:
Hawk McKnight is a troubled man with a secret life. Emma Dawson is a burned out doctor weighed down by emotional baggage. Can Hawk and Emma put aside their past romantic disaster long enough to save Hawk’s brother, Peregrine, from a deadly curse? Is there a chance Hawk and Emma can find happiness again, or will the curse consume Peregrine and replace any joy between Hawk and Emma with regret and heartache under its evil enchantment?
Excerpt:
He downed another shot of Chegari whiskey as he remembered that terrible day when the demon, Inx, threw his brother into the Lake of Sorrows. It was certain death to even drink the water from the lake. It was said a man could lose his mind just by staring into the lake’s depths. Try though he did to reach into the lake to retrieve Peregrine, he couldn’t save him. The Nivasi creatures who occupied the lake’s murky depths, stole memories and created mind torture so terrible it was said the victims would pray for death to come quickly. Hawk shivered at the thought that Peregrine might have suffered in such a way before he died. No amount of alcohol could drive away the bitter loss of his brother or the terrible guilt that weighed on his heart for not being able to liberate him.
A messenger drew Hawk from his morose thoughts.  
"My liege, I do not wish to disturb you, but Domingomae has delivered a message for you from Prince Raphael." Mericet entered the tent with a sealed parchment in his hand.
Hawk took the message and noticed that the boy's hair was wet and his clothes damp. "Water's scarce out here, Mericet. Mind you don't waste it by bathing in the middle of the day."
"Yes, my liege." Mericet nodded his head obediently and waited respectfully by the opening of the tent for further instructions.
Pulling the dagger from his wide leather belt, Hawk cut the seal from the parchment and began to read. The first words grabbed his attention immediately. "My God," he gasped aloud, "Peregrine is alive." He glanced at Mericet. "My brother is alive."
Mericet nodded. "That is good, my liege. I am glad for you."
Hawk leaped from his chair and paced as he continued to read aloud. Your brother is living among the Gypsies, playing his violin, and performing his water show twice a day. But he is altered, Hawk. You must come to Vel’ka Mulano with all due haste.
He stopped pacing. "Altered? What could he mean?"


Thursday, January 02, 2020

LOVE AND NEW BEGINNINGS By Sarah J. McNeal #I-Love-Books, #Love-In-The-NewYear @PrairieRosePub


Every Day Is A New Beginning
Today is the first day of a brand new year. It’s nice to have a fresh start with a clean slate. The New Year is like a blank page only without the scary pressure of writing a New York bestselling novel. If you’ve been doing something that hasn’t worked out, now is the time to ditch it. If you’ve been doing something that seems to be working, take the New Year as a chance to take it up a notch…at least that’s what we aspire to do. 

Traditionally, many people have made their resolutions for the New Year or have made their intentions, but a study conducted by the University of Scranton revealed that only 8 percent the people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions. So what’s the point to all this new beginnings fuss and bother? I’d like to suggest that maybe the driving force behind all these New Year’s resolutions, or whatever you want to call them, is hope; the hope that this year our desires and dreams might just come true. Hope is a powerful force.
We who write romance stories are the proliferators of hope. We give our readers characters who fall in love, but have a hard time getting to their happily ever after. But those readers hope that somehow, some way that couple is going to find happiness. They march through the pages with that hope in their hearts and the silent promise we gave them at the beginning of each story because hope is eternal and love conquers all.
   
And as luck would have it, my new book, CURSED, Legends of Winatuke, book 2 releases January 8th and is ready to pre-order right now.




CURSED, Legends of Winatuke, book 2
(Formerly The Lake of Sorrows)
By Sarah J. McNeal
Fire Star Press
Pre-order Link:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0833DG588

The legend begins when love and evil collide.


Blurb:


Hawk McKnight is a troubled man with a secret life. Emma Dawson is a burned out doctor weighed down by emotional baggage. Can Hawk and Emma put aside their past long enough to save Hawk’s brother, Peregrine, from a deadly curse? Is there a chance Hawk and Emma can find happiness again, or will the curse consume Peregrine and replace any joy between Hawk and Emma with regret and heartache under its evil enchantment?

Excerpt: 

He downed another shot of Chegari whiskey as he remembered that terrible day when the demon, Inx, threw his brother into the Lake of Sorrows. It was certain death to even drink the water from the lake. It was said a man could lose his mind just by staring into the lake’s depths. Try though he did to reach into the lake to retrieve Peregrine, he couldn’t save him. The Nivasi creatures who occupied the lake’s murky depths, stole memories and created mind torture so terrible it was said the victims would pray for death to come quickly. Hawk shivered at the thought that Peregrine might have suffered in such a way before he died. No amount of alcohol could drive away the bitter loss of his brother or the terrible guilt that weighed on his heart for not being able to liberate him.
A messenger drew Hawk from his morose thoughts. 
  
"My liege, I do not wish to disturb you, but Domingomae has delivered a message for you from Prince Raphael." Mericet entered the tent with a sealed parchment in his hand.

Hawk took the message and noticed that the boy's hair was wet and his clothes damp. "Water's scarce out here, Mericet. Mind you don't waste it by bathing in the middle of the day."

"Yes, my liege." Mericet nodded his head obediently and waited respectfully by the opening of the tent for further instructions.

Pulling the dagger from his wide leather belt, Hawk cut the seal from the parchment and began to read. The first words grabbed his attention immediately. "My God," he gasped aloud, "Peregrine is alive." He glanced at Mericet. "My brother is alive."

Mericet nodded. "That is good, my liege. I am glad for you."

Hawk leaped from his chair and paced as he continued to read aloud. Your brother is living among the Gypsies, playing his violin, and performing his water show twice a day. But he is altered, Hawk. You must come to Vel’ka Mulano with all due haste.

He stopped pacing. "Altered? What could he mean?"

Excerpt:

Emma held her breath. Something is wrong. Her heart began to pound against the confines of her ribs. Is someone in the apartment? She didn't have a gun or mace, or even a sharp object like a pencil nearby to protect herself. Maybe if she could quietly move across the kitchen she could grab a butcher knife from the drawer beside the sink. Every nerve in her body became electrified. Her muscles tensed with dread.
Out of the darkness, a big hand grabbed her by the shoulder. She took in a ragged breath. Her heart pounded in her ears. What to do now? Her vocal cords froze in her throat as the intruder turned her around to face him. She heard herself whimper and hated her weakness.
"Please don't hurt me," she whispered in a shaky voice.

She heard gruff laughter. "Why would I want to hurt you, Emma?" A light switched on and there, in the glow of a forty-watt incandescent bulb, stood the tall figure of Hawk McKnight. He appeared wild and dangerous, as if he'd walked out of a medieval movie scene. Dressed in a loose, white shirt open halfway down his broad chest and a short leather jacket with sleeves attached by strips of rawhide graced with buttons carved from what looked like horn or bone down the front he grinned at her. Around his slim waist was a wide, leather belt with a dagger tucked in it and a leather bag hanging from his left hip. In a scabbard across his back rested a heavy broadsword which looked as perilous as the man. Emma knew by his attire he must have recently come from that other place where his family and friends originated…Winatuke.



Diverse stories filled with heart

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

FOR MY FRIENDS IN THE SNOWSTORMS #StaySafeAndWarm by Sarah J. McNeal





WINTER WEATHER HAS ARRIVED



I saw on the weather news that a huge winter storm has come to the north Midwest with inches to feet of snow. It’s headed to the northeast as well. Of course, it couldn’t happen at a worse time as travelers are headed to their families and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. I can just imagine the airports filled with travelers who may end up stuck in the air terminals for the holiday. My sympathies go out to y’all while you did your way out of the mess. I hope you will all stay safe out there.





There are some stalwart souls who take harsh winter storms with a light heart and make the most of a tough situation. They go out and play in the snow. Bbrrrr, the very thought of it makes me shiver. I thought I would cheer up my friends out there who have to deal with winter’s wrath by posting some amusing ans amazing snow art. So here goes…

The Peeping Snowman

Fish Snow Sculpture

Creepy Snowman


Here is a winter story from my Wildings series.


Buy Links:   Amazon

Excerpt:
Once he took a sip or two of the coffee she poured for him, Banjo studied her for a moment. “You’ve got dark circles under your eyes like you haven’t slept and you’re running around like a maniac. What’s troubling you? Wait. Let me guess. You thinking about Gil Thoroughgood by some chance?”
“Are you mocking me?”

“Certainly not. The two of you are about to make me crazy. Gil came to see me the other night after he left your place—the night we put up the clothesline and the Christmas tree. He wanted to know my intentions.” Banjo grinned. “Maybe I ought to marry you, but he’d kill me for sure then.”

“Stop kidding around, Banjo. He suspects something is between you and me and he probably hates me.” She buried her face in her hands. “I don’t know what to do. I haven’t seen him since that night.”

“Penelope, darlin’, it’s not like you to sit back and do nothing. Where’s the woman I know you to be? What do you want from Gil? What does he mean to you? What do you really want?”


Have Fun, but stay safe and warm, y'all.


Friday, November 08, 2019

Let’s Build Some Monsters by Sarah J. McNeal #BuildingMonsters



The Niamso in The Witch-Queen




I love fantasy writing, creating worlds, beings, and, oh yeah, monsters. Even as a kid I was fascinated by monsters. Lord knows, I experienced enough nightmares about them. Most kids have had the belief that a monster is lurking under the bed ready to bite if a foot or hand many dangle down past the mattress into their lair. It is my understanding that every self-respecting closet has its monster.


Myths and Legends are crammed full of monsters, wild things, and creatures of another realm—usually one invisible to humans. From these myths and legends writers can pull up a monster and add or subtract from its original creation and form a completely new being with the magic of imagination.

The Demon, INX in Witch-Queen


I looked up a few of these creatures from “The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference” from Writer’s Digest Books. Here are just a few of these monsters and fantasy creatures:


Kraken: a sea creature big enough to be mistaken for an island


Leprechauns: the little people of Irish lore who love to trick people

The Minotaur: a creature half man-half bull who lived in a labyrinth and devoured 7 sacrificial maidens ever so often


Nemean Lion: a gigantic lion that devoured people but could not be killed because its impenetrable hide.


Sasquatch (Bigfoot): Well here’s one of my favorites. This creature is known throughout Native American lore as a big, hairy, humanoid creature who lives in the deep woods. Some honor the creature, but never speak of it while others believe it steals and eats children.


Vampires: Humans who have died but have revived due to a bite from another vampire. They continue to “live” only by consuming human blood.


Zombies: the undead who must consume human brains in order to continue “living”


Medusa the Gorgon: A monstrous woman with snakes for hair who can turn humans to stone by a mere glance at thus hideous specter.


Fairies: magical human-like beings with wings. Some are kind and good, while others are evil


Dragons: huge lizard-like creatures that breathe fire. They are often assigned to guard some type of treasure.


Clowns: thought to be human and humorous except, every once in a while, an evil clown comes around with diabolical intentions.


Well that’s just a few of the many creatures from myth and legend. There are so many to choose from to build an original monster to delight readers.

In my new release, THE WITCH-QUEEN, Legends of Winatuke, book 1 (completely revised from the previous DARK ISLE), I used several monsters. 

I named the creatures the Niamso, creatures who were part human and part Dark Blood Clan who were evil beings from the Dark Isle ruled by a particularly wicked queen named Mahara. The Niamso look somewhat like Big Foot with thick, hairy bodies, huge teeth and a rapacious appetite for human flesh. They have an uncanny sense of hearing, which is also their weakness. All in all, they are formidable creatures. 
The Evil Dragon OBYOS from The Witch-Queen



Do you write about monsters? How do you build them? Do you give them both a strength and a weakness? What is your favorite monster?






THE WITCH-QUEEN, Legends of Winatuke, book 1

The legend begins when love and evil collide.

Blurb:

The Dark Isle has been a refuge for evil since time began in the world of Winatuke, and the most depraved and wicked of them all is the witch-queen, Mahara, who rules over the malignant kingdom of darkness.

Mahara has taken a captive, a prince of the Nimway people, and she plans to use him for the revenge that burns in her soul. By forcing her own daughter, Isadore, into marriage with Prince Gabriel, she hopes to gain the power she craves over the Nimway—especially her ex-lover and Isadore’s father, Raven.

Her scheme goes awry when love begins to grow between Isadore and Gabriel. Isadore realizes the only way to save Gabriel is for them to escape together, but at the last minute, that plan fails. Separated from Gabriel,  Isadore is forced to continue to the Nimway kingdom of Valmora alone to seek help from her mother’s enemies.

Once Isadore gains their trust, Gabriel’s brother, Raphael, volunteers to travel to present-day Earth to get help. To save his brother, he must bring Raven back to the world of Winatuke, and ask him to risk his own life in the battle against Mahara’s evil forces.

It seems an impossible task. How can they ever defeat Mahara? With the evil forces she can summon at will, it seems Gabriel’s life will be forfeit. But Isadore refuses to allow that, risking her own life to save him. Forced to follow her heart, Isadore wonders if she can ever win her father’s trust or Gabriel’s love. She only knows she must defeat her mother’s evil vendetta for all time. No matter the consequences she must vanquish THE WITCH-QUEEN



Excerpt:

 "You think you can fool me, Isadore, but you should know by now that is impossible." Mahara's eyes glowed like two red hot coals of anger as she faced her daughter. "What were you doing with my prisoner yesterday, that arrogant Nimway brat?"

     "Nothing, Mother, I swear it. I only wanted to see what the filthy Nimway looked like." Isadore could not quite look her mother in the eyes. She bent her head to avoid facing her, and stared at the floor. "I did talk to him just a little." She whispered her confession.

     Mahara whirled around, her black gown whispering and swirling around her as if it had a life of its own. She lifted Isadore's chin with her long, thin finger so Isadore would have to look at her. "And what did you two converse about? Be very careful that you tell me the whole truth," she warned, "I shall know if you lie, or omit anything." There was a nasty tone in her voice.

     Isadore shook visibly in her fear. She knew her mother's powers. There was reason to be afraid…very, very afraid. She swallowed the lump in her throat. "We talked about my father."

     Mahara's eyes grew black with rage. "How could you talk with a child of my enemies about the very thing for which I hate them?" She dug her fingers into Isadore's shoulders and shook her. "Why? Why would you do such a thing?"

     Isadore could barely look at her mother so great was her fear. She didn't want Mahara to see this weakness in her. Her words stumbled from her lips, "I...I wanted to know if...if..."



Buy Links:  Paperback   Kindle





Sarah J. McNeal

Diverse stories filled with heart



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