#SPFBO 6 – Saturday Snapshots : Excerpt – Calico Thunder Rides Again by T.A. Hernandez

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  Whilst the competition is taking part I’d like to post excerpts from some of the books that have entered the contest.  If you’d like to make use of this space to post a teaser to entice readers then let me know in the comments (and, if you’ve made contact but I’ve not replied, please try me again, I missed a whole bunch of comments that went into spam).

Today’s teaser comes from one of the books in my fourth batch : Calico Thunder Rides Again by T.A. Hernandez:

** Excerpt **

The spotlight fell on the announcer in the center ring. His magically-amplified voice boomed through the tent like thunder. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, for our final performance this evening, Strickland’s Circus is proud to present a thrilling spectacle unlike any you’ve seen before.” He paused for a few moments as if to let the audience soak in his words. “Everyone give a warm welcome to the fearless queen of the center ring and her extraordinary winged beasts. I present to you, Grace Hawkins!”

He dragged out the vowels of the name as the crowd broke into applause. A young woman in a short red dress with glittering gold accents entered the ring. Contrary to the popular bobbed style of the times, her long hair flowed free behind her like a dark cape. She flashed a radiant smile at the audience and raised both hands in a wave, then turned around and signaled to the four black-clad men standing just at the edge of the lit area. They stepped forward into the light, and a wave of gasps rippled through the crowd.

Harvey sucked in a breath of his own and watched in awe as two griffins and a dragon were led into the ring. An actual dragon! He hadn’t seen a dragon in any circus for decades, much less one as magnificent as this. The beast’s body was roughly the size of one of the elephants that had performed earlier in the night, though with her tail and long neck, she was considerably longer and not quite as bulky. Orange, brown, and cream-colored scales covered her entire body, and each of her toes ended in a giant, hooked claw that could tear a man open in seconds. Thick ropes—presumably enchanted—bound her wings at her sides to keep her from flying off, but Harvey could imagine how powerful and majestic they might be spread out to their full span.

He looked down at his companion. The boy was equally mesmerized, if perhaps for other reasons besides sheer enjoyment of the spectacle. Harvey could practically see the cogs turning in his mind, plotting, scheming. It made him nauseous, but he shook the feeling off as he again turned his attention to the center ring.

The trainer ran the beautiful creatures through a series of increasingly-complex tricks. The griffins leapfrogged over each other in an almost complete circle around the ring, then took turns flying through a metal hoop the dragon held in its jaws. When they weren’t performing some trick, they stood regally, eagle eyes surveying the crowd like predators considering their next meal. Their cat-like tails lashed back and forth, and occasionally, they tucked their heads to preen the feathers on their chests and wings.

The trainer placed three metal stools in the center of the ring and directed each beast to stand on one. The center stool looked much too small for the dragon to perch on, but she somehow managed to balance there with ease. All three animals then stood up on their hind legs and clawed at the air before them as if to catch the applause of the delighted crowd.

Harvey smiled in spite of himself. Such magnificent creatures. Seeing a dragon this close made the whole night worthwhile. Or it would have, were it not for his unfortunate part in the events that were sure to come.

***ends***

Here’s a link to the book’s Amazon page

A link to the author’s page is here.

And, finally, here’s the description for the book plus the cover:

CalicoLadies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the Most Fantastic Show on Earth…

Three years ago, the Ban changed everything, outlawing certain forms of magic and bringing about the rise of powerful crime syndicates. Now, speakeasies in every city sell illegal charms and jinxes, and bootleggers traffic restricted potion ingredients across the country. But even in this changing world, the magic of the circus still acts as a wondrous escape and provides entertainment for all.​

Jake Strickland owns one such circus, inherited after an accident ended his career as a rodeo dragon rider. He also inherited the circus’ financial troubles, but since the show became his, he’s slowly managed to turn it into a profitable business once more. Or at least, that’s what he thought.

When a dangerous mobster comes to collect an old debt, Jake resorts to desperate measures to get the money before a strict deadline. With lives and livelihoods at stake, he battles the clock, his responsibilities to the circus, and a longstanding personal grudge that has festered for years. Can he pay back the mob before it’s too late?

 

My thanks to the author for submitting an excerpt.

If any other entrants would like to post an excerpt let me know in the comments 😀

 

#SPFBO 6 – Saturday Snapshots : Excerpt -The Hammer Of The Gods: So You Want To Be A Star (The Druid Trilogy #1) by Andrew Marc Rowe

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  Whilst the competition is taking part I’d like to post excerpts from some of the books that have entered the contest.  If you’d like to make use of this space to post a teaser to entice readers then let me know in the comments.

Today’s teaser comes from one of the books in my allocated batch : The Hammer Of The Gods: So You Want To Be A Star (The Druid Trilogy #1) by Andrew Marc Rowe:

** Excerpt **

What the King had not known until his conversation with that unknown goblin earlier was who exactly it was the goblins had to blame for their ineptitude with arms. Because the goblins did bear them, and with great panache. They put swords on their belts, axes on their backs, bows in their hands. But these were more akin to decoration than anything of practical value. Goblins thought they could scare off humans with a mere fierce appearance. Which worked only some of the time. The other times, the green humanoids were slaughtered where they stood. All for the delight of Gluttor, Lord of Pain.

Their beloved god: the very reason why they could not master their weapons. It was Gluttor who had been undermining the goblins in their efforts to defend themselves from the humans of Albion. He loved to see his flock suffer (which, truth be told, most of the goblins rather enjoyed as well). But after what had happened with King Arthur and his knights on Cambria, it had become clear to the Goblin King that the very survival of the Horde depended on something fundamental changing. Which meant adoption of one of these human gods.

But they were all so focused on human ideals of beauty and love… which was absolutely anathema to the green-skinned bunch. There was no god of gambling, no god of suffering. All of the things the goblins held dear were not represented among these humans of the Blessed Isles. The monks who worshiped this One True God, the ones who self-flagellated and screeched doom and burned down buildings seemed an alright sort at first, until the King realized that their agenda included pushing every living thing towards a life of celibacy, whereas the goblins reveled in their sexuality. Cernunnos, the Horned One, seemed like he might be a good candidate to align themselves with, or perhaps The Morrigan, goddess of war. But Cernunnos cared for little else aside from sex and The Morrigan, also a beauty deity, could not abide the ugliness of the goblins. The King had almost struck a deal with Clapperleg, god of death, until the pale-skinned monstrosity told him exactly what the cost of his blessing was.

This new god, the one who had sent that goblin to the castle earlier that day, perhaps this god was the one. It was not of these lands, this deity. It had come from somewhere far to the south, an arid desert where nothing grew. According to the envoy, this god was the enemy to all things fair, a patron of the ugly, the monstrous, the sinful. It could give the Horde power over magic, make them warriors, turn them into a self-sufficient force of nature which would no longer be pushed around by these humans. By swearing the blood oath to Dagon, the Goblin King could finally get his revenge against Arthur of Camelot.

The King picked up the knife for the umpteenth time that night. The scratchings on the metal of the black blade were unfamiliar, but there was a sensation that accompanied putting it into his hand that simply sung to the goblin regent. He felt intimately familiar with the implement, as if he had been using it to cut his morning pork since he was a boy. He opened his palm to regard the wrapping of the handle. Grey and fraying, the cloth looked as if it had been around since the dawn of time. On the pommel, a piece of bone had been carved into the image of some strange tentacled amorphous thing. Jelly-like and without hard edges, it looked as though it were some kind of gelatinous creature that washed up on the beaches of Albion from time to time.

The King made a grimace of determination, closed his hand, stood, and swayed for a moment. Then he looked down at the mug, picked it up, and downed the dregs. He was in uncharted territory now, the King mused to himself as he set the mug down. He was about to go where no goblin had gone before. Aside for, perhaps, the goblin who had given him the dagger in the first place, though he might not have actually been a goblin. He disappeared into a puff of orange smoke after he gave his speech and delivered the thing. The Queen had made him promise that he would not use the dagger before she went to sleep, that, no matter the danger to the Horde from the humans, he would stay true to the traditions of goblinkind.

The King had gripped the blade and the lie had come to him so easily. He promised he would throw the thing into the lake in the morning. He might yet, the King acknowledged to himself. But not before he completed the ritual.

The Goblin King looked on the snoring form of his wife once more. What was it the envoy had said to him, some title in a foreign language that slipped off the tongue like rendered pig fat? He was the Goblin King, but with Dagon, he could become… El Goblerino. The King liked that.

The King liked that very much.

***ends***

Here’s a link to the book’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Hammer-Gods-Want-Druid-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B088TWL8TX/

A link to the author’s page is here.

And, finally, here’s the description for the book plus the cover:

hammerIt’s Hammer Time!

Pitted against a perverse pantheon of warring deities, Gudleik Sigbjornsson and Rosmerta O’Ceallaigh are two dreamers living worlds apart, hoping to create a better life for themselves by following their dreams. It won’t be easy: Gudleik’s soul is the battleground between two gods of Asgard. And Rosmerta is supposed to do as her parents have done: offer her life to the service of an ancient Celtic fertility god. But the gods are only half of it… the biggest foes the two will face are to be found within their own minds.

Can Gudleik overcome the ugly blessing of a trickster god and prevent Ragnarok? Will Rosmerta find the courage to forge a new path? Will there be a whole load of dirty jokes and comments on the human condition?

Yes, yes, there will be… to that one, the third question.

Also, check dis out: there is a bunch about Merlyn and King Arthur of Camelot, a Goblin King, an ancient fell jellyfish god, encroaching Christian zealots, characters whose proclivities are too crude to mention here, because, well, gotta make the advertising copy pop, you know?

An epic fantasy comedy as blue as the cover art, get your copy of The Hammer Of The Gods today!

My thanks to the author for submitting an excerpt.

If any other entrants would like to post an excerpt let me know in the comments 😀

#SPFBO 6 – Saturday Snapshots : Excerpt – Curse of the Jenri by Stephanie Barr

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The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  Whilst the competition is taking part I’d like to post excerpts from some of the books that have entered the contest.  If you’d like to make use of this space to post a teaser to entice readers then let me know in the comments.

Today’s teaser comes from one of the books in my first batch (for which I will be posting an update soon) : Curse of the Jenri by Stephanie Barr:

** Excerpt **

“Everything points to you having unnoticed, but apparently significant, magical abilities, as yet untapped.”

“Significant? Does it have to be significant? Couldn’t I just have a smidge, a tiny-tiny taste? And we don’t have to tap it, do we?”

“I fear your talents must be great. The greatest magic wielders tend to be somewhat resistant to others’ spells, but rarely to the extent you are. Still, there are select bloodlines without talent who are naturally difficult to ensorcel. I knew nothing of your home province, so I had just assumed you to be of one of these bloodlines.”

Put me on your shoulder, please. I like to be up high, asked the only totally black kitten, pawing at his leg.

Absently, Tander complied. “Well, that must be it. Magic resistance must just run in my family.”

“Magical talent also runs in bloodlines, which is why the Jenri are universally gifted, although to varying degrees.”

“The people in my family were always warriors. There are no spell-slingers in my family, none, I tell you. There aren’t but a handful in the whole of Amerland.”

“How far back in your family have you history?”

“Well, we’ve held kingship of Amerland for three gen—well, it doesn’t matter how far back we go. What I’m telling you is that no one in our family is magical.”

Glendana smiled indulgently as a silver tabby kitten peeked out from Tander’s tunic. “How do you know? You didn’t know you were talented.”

“I’m not! Weren’t you listening? I can’t weave spells. Never could.” Tander grabbed a fluffy gray kitten that was crawling up his leg, underneath his tunic. “Will you be still? Why don’t you all take a catnap or something?”

“Ever try?” Glendana asked calmly as Wanting sleepily curled up on her own shoulder.
The purring black kitten on his shoulder said, I’m sleepy, but I’m cold. Bring someone else to sleep up here.

“Ever try what?” Tander demanded, distracted, as he dumped the gray kitten next to the black.

“Casting spells,” Glendana continued patiently, not letting her amusement touch more than her eyes.

Put me up there, too, demanded a tan-and-black striped kitten.

Tander picked the striped kitten up and regarded it sternly. “I don’t need a bunch of kittens giving me orders. Besides, you can’t all fit up there.” With that, Tander tossed the kitten onto his wide shoulder, where it immediately curled up with its two siblings and began purring.

I can sleep right here. It’s warm, said the kitten in his tunic, purring against his chest.

“Oh, well, if you’re comfortable, I am overjoyed,” Tander said. “Where are the last two?”

Asleep in the pouch, the tortoiseshell thought sleepily.

“Well, that’s something, anyway. Now, if you all don’t mind, I’m trying to talk to Glendana.” Tander took a deep breath. “Now, Glendana, what were you asking?”

“Have you ever tried to use magic?”

“No! Alright? No! I’m a warrior. All I ever wanted to be was a warrior, and not a warrior like you Jenri, a swordsman, plain and simple. You ever seen me with a sword?”

“Yes. You are a gifted swordsman.”

“Thank Bastor for small favors! That’s what I do, all I want to do. I don’t have magic blood. I don’t want magic blood. I just want to kill people with my sword. Is that so wrong?”

** Ends **

 

The world of the Jenri is a dangerous, primitive world, where women are prized as chattel, but the Jenri women, every one from the eldest archivist to the smallest babe, strike fear into battle-hardened mercenary hearts. It is a world where battle steeds are mythical beasts and magic is as deadly a weapon as a sword. Those who wield both are doubly dangerous and those who cross them are thrice damned. The Jenri are mistresses of all these things. If you love one of these marvelous women, you must best her in a contest of her choosing to win her love in return.

These were women who needed no one to take care of them. Until now.

Curse

#SPFBO 6 – Saturday Snapshots : Excerpt from The Five Furies of Heaven by Ashley Capes

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The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  Whilst the competition is taking part I’d like to post excerpts from some of the books that have entered the contest.  If you’d like to make use of this space to post a teaser to entice readers then let me know in the comments.

The first teaser that I’ll be posting is from one of the books from my own batch: The Five Furies of Heaven (The Five Furies #1) by Ashley Capes.  This book is one of my next reads as it was drawn in the first batch of books and this teaser has certainly made me very curious.  Please find below, generously provided by the author, an excerpt from The Five Furies:

** Excerpt **

Here, moss covered the earth, spreading between clumps of grass like an expensive velvet blanket – like the one Father Bastiem kept hidden away in his old chest. It climbed the fallen logs and surviving, broad trunks, darkening in the shade. Leaves of blue-green had fallen yet did not seem to be decomposing and little white blooms filled the hilltop with a sweet scent.

“Look,” Alira said.

In the centre of the hilltop glade something shimmered in the air.

A silvery cloud, quite large… indistinct yet clearly present in the world too, as though it resisted the eye, as though it had a purpose and that was to remain hidden.

“What is it?” Kilek asked.

“I believe what the Goddess wanted us to see,” she said as she approached, stretching out her hand. “We just have to remove the cloak.”

She pulled.

The shimmering disturbance spun away beneath her grip but Kilek did not see where or if the fluttering shape landed.

An enormous skull now sat upon the earth.

Moss covered the base but the open jaws and their forearm-length fangs were white and smooth, as though they had been well cared for. Heavy brows covered the eye-sockets; these were dark despite bone visible within. How large had the creature once been? He could have stood within the mouth and not reached the roof at a stretch.

A dragon.

An actual dragon-skull, here, concealed within the very hill. Kilek shivered, his voice disappeared in the awe that held him but he was smiling too.

“Is this…” Tyar trailed off as he stepped forward.

Mathi’s eyes were a little wide. “I thought dragons had been gone a long time – centuries.”

“Me too,” Tyar said.

“So who’s been cleaning the teeth? Who hid it?”

“The Goddess, surely,” Alira said, but she did not seem sure as she crept forward.

Kilek finally joined her with Mathi and Pax too, neither of whom seemed willing to draw too near but by their expressions, it seemed a similar awe urged them forward, almost against a certain tension in their bodies.

Up close, runes covered the bone. Somehow, they did not seem man or magic made. More… a rightness about the symbols implied they were a natural part of the dragon’s skull. Which hardly made sense, yet who was a mere villager to argue with the evidence? Simply because he’d never read anything like it in all the stories about dragons didn’t mean much. Most of the symbols bore a purposeful look, as though the swirls, slashes and dots held some clear meaning.

“What are they for?” he asked.

Alira shook her head, tears in her eyes. “I do not know.”

Silence fell across the glade.

A sense of vast age, of centuries-old power and majesty now both lost and still somehow lingering, fell over them; it was enough to give everyone pause. For Kilek, it seemed his entire body was trembling ever-so-slightly, in anticipation, in reverence of even such a beautiful creature’s memory.

Finally, Paxoph spoke. “As wonderful as this moment is, I cannot help but worry. How will the skull of a dragon aid us?”

“There must be a message, must be something,” Alira said as she wiped at her eyes. “Why would she send us here otherwise?”

“At last, I have found you all,” said a new voice.

Kilek whirled.

A tall man stood at the top of the stair. A sword hung from his belt, his dark leather pants and boots seeming to suck in the fading afternoon light; yet more unusual, the man wore no shirt or tunic, leaving a muscled torso bare. A white collar covered his neck and Kilek noticed fingerless leather gloves when the man drew his weapon.

** Ends **

 

Fighting the insect hordes of a malevolent God isn’t easy when you’re a young man with no special talents.

And it’s even harder when a Goddess makes your friends older and stronger – but gives you nothing.

Are you not entertained?  Intrigued aplenty?

For more information about the book and the author click on this link.  And for the cover lovers amongst you here’s something to whet your appetite further:

The Five