Melange Books 2015 Giveaway Extravaganza!

black                                                                                                                                                              Love to read? I know! Me too, so have some fun—visit Melange Books to enter this fantastic giveaway! Check it out, because ebooks, ARC’s, and autographed print books are up for grabs, plus one lucky winner receive a brand new Kindle Fire HD6 AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card to stock it full of books! Sounds awesome, right?

Please check out my books The Twelfth Paladin (supernatural/thriller) and Guardian 2632 (science fiction/adventure). Romance, murder/mystery, and fantasy/adventure themed books are there and accounted for as well. Take your time while scrolling to find the books that are perfect for you!

twelfthpaladin

guardian2632

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kragan

 

FindingTWBack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To enter, go HERE: http://melange-books.com/2015NYGiveaway.html
Keep in mind: A LOT of giveaways will load on that link above. Please let the page fully load everything before entering. Click the link, go check your Facebook or Twitter, then check back!

HeartExile

And for the blog comments entries, visit, and then leave a post here! http://www.melange-books.com/blog/new-years-giveaway-extravaganza/

GRAND PRIZE

One (1) Grand Prize Winner will receive a Kindle Fire HD6 and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Two (2) second place winners will each receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

SecondBest

 

 

1CovertExposureHappy New Year!

Thanks for visiting the Noracast.

 

 

ForgettingFallenwood

RETURN TO CAER LON by Claude Dancourt/Review & Giveaway!

RETURN TO CAER LON

Thirty hundred years ago, Arthur Pendragon, High King of the Ten Kingdoms, was betrayed and the royal city of Caer Lon became a myth.

Fifteen years ago, the sorcerer Wolfryth killed King William Pendragon in his quest for power and usurped the throne of Camelot. Queen Ylianor and her five year old son fled the kingdom to take refuge in Haven at Duke Geraint’s court.

Today, Prince Derek follows Geraint’s beautiful daughter Sacha into a reckless mission to save her brother from Wolfryth. He will need to embrace his heritage and to trust magic if he wants to find his way back to Caer Lon and unlock its secrets before the sorcerer kills them all.

REVIEW

In RETURN TO CAER LON, Claude Dancourt takes readers on a grand adventure with a descendant of Arthur Pendragon named Prince Derek, and he is accompanied by a feisty seer named Sacha…who will stop at nothing to save her twin brother, Elwyn, who has disappeared.

Son of King William Pendragon—killed by the wicked sorcerer Wolfryth, Prince Derek embarks on this all important and dangerous quest because not only is Elwyn’s life depending on his success, but the fate of Camelot’s people. It is time to reclaim his throne after escaping Wolfryth’s wrath fifteen years ago to survive in Haven at Duke Geraint’s court. Prince Derek has his hands full though, because Sacha, the beautiful, and headstrong daughter of Duke Geraint refuses to believe Elwyn is dead.

RETURN TO CAER LON’s characters are memorable, the dialogue is wonderful, often funny…especially between Prince Derek and Sacha. The way Dancourt allows their relationship to grow and not just “all of a sudden” happen provides many opportunities for romance lovers to be pleased. Sacha is my favorite character due to her passionate determination to save Elwyn. Who wouldn’t want her on your side?

The descriptive locations, the fight between good and evil, loyalty to family and friends, reclaiming a birthright to be king, and, of course, magic…all make this novel a very enjoyable read! It certainly allows readers to escape the humdrum of everyday life and go back in time to fight the good fight, where nothing is more important than family and friends. This is a fantasy adventure that I highly recommend. 4.5/5

Here are a few excerpts. Enjoy Dancourt’s lovely prose!

The older woman picked up the job the maid had abandoned, twisting the dark locks

together. Sacha said nothing, her eyes seeing beyond the reflection of their figures in the mirror.

The former queen caressed her head gently.

“Your father has to see to everyone’s well-being, Sacha, not just his son.”

“And what will be our well-being, if his heir dies?”

Ylianor closed her eyes briefly. Behind grief and anger, Sacha’s reasoning had its logic. She had said more or less the same thing to Derek in the morning. She tried another approach.

“Sebastian escaped, so maybe Elwyn-”

“Sebastian did not escape. He was sent back; as a warning.”

Ylianor stiffened. The young woman met her eyes in the mirror.

“I saw it, Ylianor. Wolves attacked and our men lost the battle. All were killed but the Swan and the Cub. Sebastian’s heraldry is a swan, with wings spread.. Elwyn…”

Sacha continued telling her dreams, so low her companion could barely hear the words.

“The wolf leader tortured and sent the black swan back to deliver a message.”

“What is that message, Sacha?”

“Hand over the son of the Dragon, before I slaughter you all.”

________________________________________________________________

“Elwyn is in Caer Lon.”

Derek stared at her in befuddlement and she calmly held his doubtful gaze.

“We have to go there.”

Irritation perked through his answer. “That is impossible. How would you know where Elwyn is anyway? We will ride northeast at dawn.”

He did not believe her. How could she explain? He would simply laugh and dismiss her

vision. Sacha took another swig of ale and immediately regretted it. The beverage was far stronger than what she was used to. She inhaled deeply to chase away the dizzying sensation.

Derek chuckled and walked to her shelter to take the jug from her hands.

“You want to be careful with that.”

She glared but her displeased glance was lost to him as he sat away from her, his attention entirely devoted to the recipient he started playing with, making it turn between his knees on the dusty floor.

Sacha took his pensive attitude for an opening and tried again.

“Derek, I know I am right. Elwyn is in Caer Lon. We need to go there…”

He continued his little game in silence, though she was sure he had heard her. Why could not he rely on her? Frustrating, stubborn, idiotic specimen of a…

“Sacha, Caer Lon is a myth. It was where the High Kings of Camelot held their court. The place was lost three hundred years ago. Elwyn cannot be there or it means he is dea-”

“He is not dead!”

She nearly screamed in anguish. He was her twin, her other half. If he had died, a part of her would have died too. He was alive. He was. She knew he was.

__________________________________________________________________________________

About the Author:

Claude Dancourt lives in Montreal, and wherever her job as an engineer takes her. She is fascinated by books and museums. To discover more about RETURN TO CAER LON, Claude Dancourt’s work or simply drop a word, visit her website: www.claudedancourt.webs.com

Author Links:

 Website

Goodreads

Buy Link

Want to WIN a copy of this amazing novel? Either head on over to Lightning Book Promotions and enter or enter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 Thanks for visiting the Noracast!

BEWITCHED by Cambria Hebert: Cover Reveal!

Do you love beautiful book covers? If so, then look no further! Cambria Hebert has revealed the cover for Bewitched, the latest edition to her Heven & Hell Series, which includes Before, Masquerade, Between, and Charade. The books are amazing! Action/adventure, mystery, and romance are what you’ll find in Hebert’s books, plus supernatural chaos inciting danger around plot twists and turns is there for your entertainment as well. Ready to read Kimber’s take on life, death, love…and hate?

A feast for your eyes…

Title: Bewitched (Heven and Hell #2.5)
Genre: YA paranormal
Publisher: Cambria Hebert
Release date: October 5, 2012
Format: Ebook only (for now)
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Bewitched Blurb

For years, I accepted that Heven was more popular than me. I never liked it but I lived with it. I walked in her shadow, I stood by her when no one else would. When I finally thought her spotlight was mine things began to change. She began to change. Now she hardly ever calls me back, she spends all her time with her hot new boyfriend and everyone at school thinks she’s back on top. She had it all. But apparently she wants more. She wants Cole – my boyfriend. What’s worse is that it looks like she got him. I’ve had enough and she’s going to be sorry. Why?

Because I am bewitched.

Check out the Book Trailer for BEWITCHED!

BEWITCHED Excerpt

Working out was for jocks. Homework was for nerds and I wasn’t a jock or a nerd. Yet, here I was, sweating through my favorite Victoria Secret yoga pants and tank with a headache the size of Macy’s. Learning about my powers was hard work. I thought it would come naturally. My brain was hurting from concentrating and my muscles were actually sore from effort. I thought longingly of the potion in the green bottle that Hecate had given me—a little sip would make it that much easier to use my powers, but she took it away. Apparently, I had all the power she wanted me to have. It kind of pissed me off.

In fact, I was feeling pretty disgruntled all around.

I was hot, I was sweaty, my head hurt and my hair was frizzy. Not to mention I had been wearing sneakers far too long. Thank goodness Hecate was gone. I actually had been glad not to be alone after the “bone incident,” but now I was ready for some alone time. I felt stronger.

Feeling strong plus feeling disgruntled equaled somebody was gonna get hurt.

I was standing in my yard near the lake and I glanced up at the moon before heading inside. It was low and swollen tonight—a haunting moon. It sent a shiver up my spine. I thought briefly about going to Heven’s and treating her to a little of what she deserved. I even looked toward the driveway as I walked, but I wasn’t going anywhere looking like this.

I went into the house and began climbing the stairs. Halfway up, I heard a noise in the kitchen and I paused. My parents were still out of town. It wasn’t the maid’s day to be here… unless she came early. Another thud in the kitchen had me spinning on the stairs to see what it was.

“Mary?” I called out. “Is that you?” Maybe she switched her schedule around and I didn’t know about it. Maybe I could get her to make me a latté.

No one answered, and the noises in the kitchen fell silent. I stopped at the bottom of the stairs and listened, wondering if I had heard anything at all. “Hello?” I called again, this time more unsure. This time a fine chill raced up my back.

Suddenly being alone in this big house was scary.

Clink, clink, clink.

Okay, I wasn’t hearing things. Someone was there.

I stepped off the stairs and walked through the foyer in the direction of the kitchen. I heard the cat hiss and I paused again. Clover was too lazy to hiss at a mouse. Something in my stomach turned cold and hard.

I looked over my shoulder at the massive front doors to the alarm keypad and the distress button.

But it was too late for pressing buttons.

Clover burst around the corner with a hideous screech and barreled into me, hitting me in the knees and causing me to stumble. The cat didn’t even stop. I could hear his claws scraping frantically across the tiles. “What the…” I began as I straightened, but then something lurched around the corner after the cat.

It was hideous.

It stood about a foot taller than me with wide shoulders that were uneven looking—one was lower than the other—and a wild mane of bushy orange hair that seemed to create a cloud around its pasty, white face. Its lips were black and it had a nasty row of teeth that had seen a lot of decay. It had large purple circles around its eyes, which seemed to have no color at all.

It looked like a psychotic clown.

I screamed and took a step backward, and the thing grinned. I went running but it lunged and caught me around the wrist, pulling me back. I struggled, kicking out, but it was no use, his grip was too strong.

Without any warning it reached up and snatched my silver pendant right off my neck. “Hey!” I screamed as it shoved me away. I fell onto my butt and stared up at the glittering silver heart as it dangled from the nasty clown’s hands.

Cole had given that to me. It was the last gift he had given me before we broke up.

Anger surged into my chest, making me hot. “Give that back.”

 Freaky Clown gave me another frightening grin and ran back into the kitchen, disappearing from sight. I ran after it, running into a solid wall of… offensiveness.

***

Okay, doesn’t Bewitched sound great? I think it does, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Congrats, Cambria, on such a lovely book cover! Visit Cambria Hebert…

Website: Cambria Hebert

Goodreads

Thanks for visiting the Noracast! 🙂

Beauty by Kimber: Charade by Cambria Hebert

Today is “Charade” day! Yes, Cambria Hebert, author of “Charade” has sent Kimber, a beauty-loving character from her latest release, “Charade” to the Noracast to offer up her opinion on some beauty products, plus my review of “Charade” is yours to view as well.

“Charade” by Cambria Hebert

Dying at the hands of a psycho was a shock. Having my life returned to me by an angel was incredible. Being named a Supernatural Treasure and being given Sam as my guard was pretty darn awesome. Acquiring a debt for it all—well, I should have seen it coming.

Now here we are, fighting demons from Hell, caring for a boy that I just don’t trust, and traveling to faraway places to return a treasure to its rightful place. Nothing is as it seems. Everyone wears a mask; everyone puts on a charade. It’s up to us to separate the truth from the lies and reality from fiction. A hard task when my new reality involves fallen angels, witches and dragons… and did I mention Hell?

Anchoring me down through it all is Sam. Sam, who must face tragedies of his own and is put to the test again and again.

If we fail in our task, life as we know it—life as you know it—will end. Forever.

Take it away, Cambria and Kimber…

Hello Everyone!

In celebration of the Heven and Hell Tour: Charade we have a very special post today. I think that all the ladies out there will be especially excited. As many of you know Kimber is a big character in the novel of the series. Kimber is Heven, the main characters, BFF. Kimber is very outspoken, loves a good time and she loves fashion and beauty. So we thought that we would invite Kimber to the blog today to tell us all about her beauty must haves, must toss and products to lust after.

Maybe there will be something in her line-up that you use too!

Here ya go Kimber…the blog is all yours!

Okay, ladies, have no fear Kimber is here! I like to shop til I drop, and I like to look good. To me, I think there is nothing wrong with a girl taking pride in her appearance. So here is a list of all the products that I love, hate and lust after!

Must Haves:

#1 Luster Now Instant Whitening Toothpaste

A girl always looks best when she is smiling. And a white smile is like icing on a cupcake (white icing of course!). This toothpaste whitens teeth immediately and gets rid of stains over time (which is good because I drink a lot of lattes!) Oh! And it’s peppermint flavored! Bonus!

#2 Nail strips by Sally Hansen

Love these little gems! Talk about a no-brainer manicure! When a girl can’t get to the nail salon then this is the next best thing. They come in a ton of colors and patterns so you can change up your look with ease! They are basically like stickers for your nails but they are made out of real lacquer so they stay on and look great and there’s no dry time like with regular nail polish! Some people think the patterns are for 13 year olds. I say, live a little and rock that pattern! I’m wearing zebra print right now.

#3 Avon Anew Sunscreen

Sun damage? Ewww, gross! I am a red head. You know what that means: fair skin and major burnage if I even think about going outside without sunscreen on. Besides, sun damage causes wrinkles and who wants those? This sunscreen gets bonus points because it can actually help reduce lines and wrinkles (yeah, I’m seventeen but it’s never too early to think about prevention!) Even better? It smells like green apples and pears which is wayyy better than the regular stinky sunscreen smell!

#4 Bare Minerals Foundation and make-up

This stuff is good for everyone. It’s like magic powder in a jar. It’s lightweight, covers well and makes me look ready for a close up. It’s got sunscreen in it too! Who doesn’t want make-up that can improve your skin?

#5 Simply Smooth Xtend Keratin replenishing magic potion

This stuff is new and amazing! It can actually help smooth split ends, repair them (it won’t get rid of them, because once your ends are split they are split) and make your hair majorly healthy. It also controls frizz  (I’m a red head with curly hair so frizz is a major factor in my life). It also smooth’s your hair and hydrates it. Just put a little on wet hair and style as usual. It smells yummy too! This is a MUST have.

# 6 KMS California Hair Play Makeover Spray

Dry shampoo is awesome. I don’t always have time for a wash and blow out. Or if my style goes limp at cheer practice and there’s a party right after this stuff is a lifesaver! It instantly refreshes any style, it adds volume and body, absorbs oil and makes me look hot. I can go an extra day or two between shampoos because of this stuff. It’s that good.

To Use: Shake well. Spray onto roots and let dry for a few seconds. Then comb through to absorb oil. Layer through mid-lengths and ends to add bulk for a finished style ( I always add a little around my ears and at my crown to bump up the volume).

Beauty Products to Toss

#1 Lush Jungle Conditione

This bar is conditioner. You have to soak the bar in water, rub between palms, and then spread it into your hair and rinse out after a minute. Detangler? No. Gross? Yes.

#2 Lash Lure

Okay so this was popular before I was born wayyy back in 1938. But its so heinous I had to list it here. I mean really, who would do this? People dies from this. People went blind from this. Although there is one benefit of this  “permanent lash tint” is that it helped rally support for the passage of 1938’s Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Beauty Products to Lust After

#1 No 7’s Limited edition Sun Drenched Lip glosses

*Swoons* This lip gloss has 22 carat gold in it! Those gold flecks are real!! This takes glittering like a fairy tale to a whole new level. fairy tale to fact.

#2  A Swarovski crystal-studded delight (2553 crystals to be exact)

The limited-edition C2 Crystal Styling Iron from Corioliss, £457.98, spoils your hair and itself in expensive shine. With a digital remote control to set the ideal temperature and even heat technology expansion on the plates, it straightens without the tell-tale damage. Apart from being sleek and lightweight, it has the world’s first automatic 30-minute sleep mode. It’s truly a bejewelled luxury beauty product must-buy. Available at buyhair.co.uk. (This product and information was found: http://blog.shesaidbeauty.com/2012/01/22/the-lust-list-10-luxury-beauty-brands-and-their-best-products/)

#3 Alterna 10 luxury shampoo

Alterna Ten contains exotic ingredients including African cacao extract, caviar age-control complex, photozyme complex with “color hold,” white truffle oil, Champagne grape seed oil, Bulgarian Evening Primrose and Arabian Frankincense. The shampoo is inspired by enzyme therapy, a process that uses enzyme supplements to treat conditions from digestive problems to cancer.

Sounds awesome right? Here’s the cost of this awesome: $60 for an 8.5 oz bottle.

(shampoo details and price courtesy of http://most-expensive.net/shampoo )

So that is my list of beauty must haves, products to toss and to lust after! Now go forth and get beautiful. I have to go, I have an appointment to get my hair done. Laters!

Kimber knows her beauty products, right? Did you see any you want to try? How about leaving a comment with your favorite beauty product suggestion?

Nora’s review of “Charade”

Would you risk everything, even your life if need be—to save the one you love?

For Sam and Heven, the main characters in Cambria Hebert’s thrilling Heven and Hell series, life means nothing if they can’t spend it together. In “Masquerade,” the stage is set for these two characters to plunge into danger and despair so they can eventually find happiness together, and then things escalate as good and evil vie for their souls in Hebert’s latest release, “Charade.” Sam’s younger brother, Logan, adds quite a bit of drama to the “Charade” storyline, but Kimber, Cole, and Gemma certainly have their fair share of new developments as well.

Twists and turns, betrayals that have a most wicked bite, plus angels offering heavenly intervention and demons…naturally raising a little hell, all make this novel hard to resist and easy to enjoy. Although, “Charade” is not just about the battle between good and evil since it hits upon other facets of being human that, at times, affect us all. For instance, Heven matures in this follow-up to “Masquerade” as she comes to accept her unique abilities and use them to fight against what’s been unleashed from Hell. I was pleased to see her growth and loved that Heven could take care of herself, but Hebert made sure to keep Heven a compassionate character, one who thinks about others.  This book targets YA readers, so if they can relate to Heven (Sam and Cole) who are all young but trying to make a positive difference in the world, then all the better!

Another huge part of this book follows the heavy emotions Heven and Sam must deal with as they constantly become positioned between right and wrong, between letting truth shine or allowing lies to temporarily cover their tracks. The choices we make, good and bad, affect the people in our lives, and the way Hebert showcases this is fantastic. Her characters pay a price for the choices they make, and some of these consequences come handed to them with a supernatural fist, yet again…lessons are gained by the characters and readers.

You’ll have to read “Charade” to meet my favorite new addition to Hebert’s Heven and Hell series, and that would be the Supernal Beings. Believe me—they are as cool as they sound! I’ve known a few people like them, and they are mysterious and seem as though they’ve been sent from above. If fallen angels, young adults with supernatural abilities, the age-old battle between good and evil, plus a marvelous amount of mystery wrapped up in a fantasy novel, sounds good to you, then do check out this wonderful series. I can hardly wait for the next book! 5/5 stars

Cambria Hebert bio: 

Author. Blogger. Latte Sipper.
Cambria Hebert is an author who wrote her first book at the age of fifteen. It was terrible. But the passion for writing never went away so years later when she opened her laptop and started typing she worked until she wrote a book that she hopes everyone will be as excited about as she is.

Cambria is obsessed with werewolves and is terrified of chickens (they are creepy!)She is an animal lover that would choose coffee over food and her favorite TV show is the Vampire Diaries (Hell-O Damon!)

Please visit her blog and her author website:
http://www.cambriahebert.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/cambriahebert

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cambria-Hebert/128278117253138

“Between” By Cambria Hebert

Spring is in the air…somewhere. Here, in Michigan, in my neck of the woods it is still a bit too chilly for me. It snowed last week! However, that means drinking lots of scorching hot tea, munching on Twizzlers, writing, and, of course…reading is a must do since I refuse to weed while it is snowing. So, I finished up “Between” by Cambria Hebert, and I loved it. Take a look at what is soon coming your way…

Between by Cambria Hebert

Between (Heven and Hell #1.5)

Between is a Heven and Hell novella available in Ebook only. It details the life of Logan, Sam’s little brother, and what life was like after Sam left the place he grew up.

Release Date: April 20, 2012

Publisher: Otherworld Publications

Format: Ebook Only

Synopsis…

I grew up in a comfortable house with two parents and a white-picket fence. My brother, Sam, and I used to play with sticks in the backyard and pretend they were swords. There were always cookies on the table and milk in the fridge. Then, one day, things changed.

Sam changed.

Life was never the same again. Sam left. My parents abandoned him when he needed them most, and I was left to survive in a house that was merely a shell of what it used to be. Mom cried all the time and Dad expected me to fill the void my brother left behind. But mostly, all we did was pretend. We pretended that things weren’t messed up. We pretended that Sam never existed.

Until I changed, too.

Now, everything’s a mess and I’m so confused. It’s like there are two different people trapped inside one body—my body—and one of them wants out. I do things. Bad things and I don’t know how to stop. I’m not sure I want to. The only way I can be normal again is if I find Sam. He’ll know what to do.

He has too.

Here’s my review…

 “Between,” the new teaser to “Charade” by Cambria Hebert, allows Logan, (Sam’s younger brother) to add his frightful experiences to the “Heven and Hell Series,” which also includes “Before” and “Masquerade.” This novella transports readers to Logan’s hellish world where supernatural events lead to murder, and a beautiful—but deadly creature, pits Logan against Sam’s beloved Heven. A peek into Logan’s past makes it possible to understand why he sees the world as he does and why Sam’s sad departure from his family changed them all. A sense of doom found in Logan’s dark dreams, that are all too real, tell the tale of a boy who cannot stay home, but has nowhere to go…except to find Sam.

Although some questions are answered in this novella, more arise as I wonder how Logan will react to the lovely Heven, and will Sam be able to tell that Logan’s been poisoned by jealousy? Will Logan be smart enough to see Sam will not exist without Heven, or will Logan merely compete for Sam’s affection not realizing enough love dwells within Sam for them all? I’m hoping Heven is ready for a fight, because it will not only be Logan who is gearing up to destroy her.

Yes! “Between” is an exciting, fast-paced teaser that certainly fuels my curiosity about all of the characters involved in Hebert’s “Heven and Hell Series.” In “Before” and “Masquerade,” Sam was the character who most intrigued me, but Logan is a determined character to watch as well. I’m looking forward to reading “Charade,” and now that I’m acquainted with this series, I expect lots of excitement from dangerous situations, plus Sam and Heven’s romance will (hopefully!) explode in a realm of fantasy that manages to stay hidden in the world as we know it. 5/5 Stars

________________________________________________________________

If it must snow in April, so be it. My TBR list and hot tea are awaiting me! Off I go to choose another literary treasure. 🙂

Thanks for visiting the Noracast!

A Ranger’s Tale by Mysti Parker

It’s my pleasure to welcome the lovely Mysti Parker, author of A Ranger’s Tale, to the Noracast. A Ranger’s Tale has received fantastic reviews, and it’s next on my reading list, so pick up your copy today at Melange Books!

Enjoy Mysti’s guest post, and then scroll down into the fantasy realm of A Ranger’s Tale. Set in the fantasy world of Tallenmere, the high elf Caliphany Aranea longs to explore the world and escape from her controlling father. Her dreams are fulfilled when she meets ranger and ship captain Galadin Trudeaux. But, when secrets from the past bring tragedy to those she loves, Caliphany must fight to hold on to the life she’s always wanted.

Encouragement

Let me start by saying thank you Nora for having me here today. I hope you all enjoy my post today. Feel free to leave comments, and remember to comment with your email addy if you’d like a chance to win a free copy of A Ranger’s Tale!

In 2 Corinthians 13:11, St. Paul instructs us to “encourage one another”.  In fact, the Bible mentions encouragement several times. You probably hear the word often, but what does it mean, really?

Dictionary.com defines encourage as: to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.

In a world where the majority is constantly seeking to look out for “number one”, encouragement is sometimes hard to come by. There are people out there, sadly, whose greatest joy seems to be tearing down someone else for their own gain instead of building them up, let alone inspiring them with anything. It’s common in the writing business and everywhere else.

My mom was perhaps my greatest encourager. From an early age, she told me I could do anything I put my mind to. I don’t know how many careers I went through on my list of “what I want to be when I grow up”, but mom would just smile and repeat that phrase. She passed away in 2003, and I really miss her special brand of encouragement. I hope my own children see me as an encourager and hear my praise on a daily basis, more-so than my reprimands. I want to guide them to keep improving, keep practicing in their studies and hobbies, and instill in them the desire to never give up.

You see, encouragement is more than just heaping unearned praise and false flattery on someone. As the definition states, it’s inspiring them with the courage, spirit, or confidence to keep going. It’s lifting up, offering that hand when they stumble, and giving advice when it’s requested. Consequently, by encouraging others, we feel the blessing ourselves. We can be happy and proud when someone we’ve lifted up really succeeds.

An encourager doesn’t say “You’ll never make it.” An encourager says, “I’ll help you get there.”

In A Ranger’s Tale, Caliphany needs encouragement from time to time.

When she wanted to give up her training as a ranger in Chapter 7, Galadin said, “You’re doing well. And you’re not wasting my time. Don’t give up—not yet anyway. I won’t if you won’t.”

Sometimes just being there is enough to encourage. In Chapter 39, Caliphany’s friend Juliana is there for her during a really difficult time: Juliana joined me in my walk to nowhere. Though she offered no words, her presence alone gave me support.

Who are your encouragers in life? What do they do to keep you going when the going gets rough? Who have you encouraged today?

A Ranger’s Tale

by Mysti Parker

Prologue

 North Leogard, the Aranea Estate, 15 Xaviel, LV 259 (The 259th year of King Leopold Vaeloria’s reign)

Fresh hay tickles Caliphany’s nose, and she stifles a sneeze. Hide-and-seek is her favorite game, except Aelendyl is allergic to hay, and she knows it. Below the loft, he runs and calls for her. He starts to climb the ladder and breaks into a sneezing fit. Caliphany giggles and picks a ladybug off her pointed ear. She watches it crawl along her finger and catches her breath when it opens its wings and flies away.

“Come on, Caliphany, I know you’re up there!”

A spark of fire springs to life in Caliphany’s hand. She knows she shouldn’t, but Aelendyl’s been making her play Mage Academy for three hours. If he wants to see magic, she’ll show him magic. She crawls to the edge of the loft and peeks over. Aelendyl’s headed for the stable door. She flicks the flame down toward him, and it lands at his feet with a loud pop.

He screams, “I’m telling!” Then, he runs from the stable.

“No. Please!” Caliphany hurries down the ladder, but trips on the hem of her dress. She lands with a thud on the dirt floor. A spark flies from her hand when she lands, straight into the dry hay at the rear of the stable.

The fire spreads like a plague, and smoke fills the stable. Coughing, she hurries to the stalls, opens them, and shoos their three horses out. By the time she escapes, flames have engulfed the structure, and the heat has scorched her skin like a too-hot bath. Her mother, father, and Aelendyl come running from the manor.

Father’s voice booms, “Caliphany! What have you done?”

Mother rushes to her side. “Oh, my darling, are you hurt?”

“We were playing hide-and-seek. I just…I’m sorry!”

She looks at the little high-elf boy. He trembles and rubs his nose on his sleeve. Her parents keep talking of their future marriage. She’d sooner marry a goat, but she never wanted to hurt him.

Father grabs her by the shoulder. “You could have killed Aelendyl, or our horses, or yourself. Stand back!”

The great wizard lifts his hands, chants a familiar spell, and the wind whips above the stable, spinning the fire into a cyclone. A dark gray cloud materializes, heavy laden with rain. One more chant, and the cloud releases its torrent over the inferno. A few minutes later, the burned-out shell of the stable smolders in front of them.

Aelendyl nods and bows to them. “I should go home now.”

When he leaves, father bends toward Caliphany. “Your behavior was inexcusable.” He yanks Caliphany up, tucks her under his arm, and heads for the manor. She screams and kicks.

Mother runs behind them. “Sirius, what are you doing?”

“We’ve coddled her too long, Ellawen. It’s time she learns her place before we lose another child.”

Inside the manor, he puts Caliphany down, grasps her arm, and drags her downstairs. He opens a storage room door. She wails and pulls against him, nearly knocking them both down. With one last burst of strength and a blast of wind from his wizard hands, Father hurls her into the small room, and shuts the door.

The wooden bar slams down, the sound of it sealing her fate. She runs to the door, pounds on it, tiptoes to peek out the window.

Father turns Mother around leads her up the stairs. “Stop crying. I won’t leave her in there forever.”

Caliphany turns, rubs her arms, slides down the door. Lamplight from the hallway makes flickering shadows in the room. Behind the crates, jars, bags, and stored furniture, she imagines ghosts lurking, hairy spiders, and unimaginable things with mouths watering at the thought of feasting on her flesh. She buries her face in her hands and cries, wishing she had never been born.

* * * *

The Southern Sea, 23 Kersh, LV 312

Sunset transforms the plain gray vessel into an amber dream ship. Innessa lies to the north, Tyronia to the south, and the Trudeaux family sails southeast toward Tilliya Island. Young Galadin can almost taste the stone-baked fish and evynfruit pie—Yura Juntay’s specialty. He’s not seen them for a year or more and can’t wait to arrive on the island to hear Keevo play his lute as they eat, and go spear-fishing with Kando.

He tugs at his mother’s skirt. “When will we get there?”

Mama smiles down at him and ruffles his hair. She is the most beautiful woman Galadin has ever seen—a high elf, with long golden hair, bright blue eyes, and freckles on her nose from her time on the sea with his father.

She laughs a sound he’s sure only angels can make. “Soon, my darling, by morning.”

“Where are Bob and Shyler?”

“They are taking a shore leave. I’m sure they will be with us next trip.”

Galadin frowns. He’s come to love young Bob and Shyler, barely more than boys themselves. The other crewmen brush him off, but when he grows bored, the two young men sometimes play checkers or pretend to be pirates with him.

Papa walks by and pinches his cheek. “Quit pestering your mother and get ready for bed. You’ll be fishing with Kando before you know it.”

Galadin chases after Papa, a human man with curly brown hair and a kind-hearted smile. He knows his mother will outlive his father by centuries, but even at his young age, he senses a love between them that defies the boundaries of time.

He reaches Papa and pummels his back in a mock attack. Papa feigns injury and falls to the deck. Galadin is quick to pounce, but is soon pinned down and tickled until he can hardly catch a breath.

Papa pauses just long enough to ask amidst his own laughter, “Do you yield?”

Galadin squeals, “Yes, Papa, I yield!”

“Come on then,” Papa says, offering his hand to help him up. “Off to bed.”

They stand, still smiling and breathless from their tickle match. Smiles are lost when the sun’s last rays are blacked out. A dark form has suddenly appeared on the sea right beside their ship. Mama screams.

It happens in a blur. Papa throws Galadin and his mother into the cabin, tells them not to come out no matter what. They crouch behind the bed, but the screams and shouts and flashes of fire grow so loud, Mama begins to cry. He cries too, and clings to her tightly. The door bursts open, she screams, and shoves him under the bed. He crawls on his belly just far enough to see.

Mama’s feet are planted firmly in front of him. She begs the pirates to take whatever they want and leave them alone.

Galadin hears a horrible laugh. It will haunt his dreams for the rest of his life. The man’s feet step forward and Mama stumbles. He pushes her down on the bed.

“Quit yer fightin’, and do what you women do best. Lie there and take it!”

She kicks him away, gets to her feet again. “Never! I’ll die first.”

“Have it your way.”

The next sound reminds Galadin of his father splitting logs back at their cottage in Wildewood. And then he sees Mama’s eyes once more, as her limp body and severed head drop to the floor in different directions. Her lips are moving as if she’s trying to comfort him with silent words. Her blue eyes lock on his and her blood runs under the bed until it coats his arms and chest.

He reaches out a helpless hand. “No!”

The pirates rip him from under the bed, drag him out, and throw him on their ship. He looks up to see his father’s ship in flames and Papa’s body tied high to the mast. The fire has reached his legs, and he’s screaming like nothing Galadin’s ever heard before. Bile rises in Galadin’s throat, and he hunches over to vomit. A loud crack at the back of his head knocks him flat to the pirate ship’s deck. The last thing he’s aware of is a rancid, metallic smell; a mixture of vomit and his mother’s blood.

Author Bio: Mysti Parker is a full-time wife, mom of three, and a writer. Born and raised in Kentucky, writing has always been her first love. After many years of pursuing other things, she began her writing career in earnest in 2009. Look for more romantic tales from her fantasy world of Tallenmere, where magic, passion, murder, and mayhem are a part of everyday life.

Purchase A Ranger’s Tale at Melange Books.

Visit Mysti Parker at her blog.  Unwritten  

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