Many of you may have noticed I’ve been MIA for days, weeks…
ERK! Nearly a month.
[For those who did not notice or care. Thank you, and why the hell not?]
But, guess what! I’m still not back. I have this thing called the Golden Heart that rips at my innards. Why? At this time last year, I sat in this chair on this patio, laptop at the ready, determined to make the deadline for Golden Heart.
[Pause for pathetic sigh.]
My manuscript was not ready last year.
My manuscript will be ready this year, or I will relocate to the State of Denial — near the wilds of Denali, and I will claim a Polar Bear ate my manuscript.
Truth be told, I’d rather throw myself in the path of a polar bear than fail this year.
Today is not about what I have not done.
It’s about what Jessica Aspen has accomplished.
Wickedly talented and prolific, Jessica Aspen.
Wickedly talented and prolific and multi-published Jessica Aspen, who has honored me with hosting a cover reveal, a blurb, and an excerpt from her next release, The Dark Huntsman.
I met Jessica near The Continental Divide in the Colorado Rockies in the fall of 2010
I was toasting marshmallows over a campfire. Jessica was gathering crumbs and hooks and images for her novellas and novels.
No? I have to tell the truth?
Okay. I was toasting wienies. Jessica was writing about them. This chick can write STEAM!
Jessica was writing steam. Jessica does write serious steam. She also creates compelling characters, writes lies better than I tell them, pulls her readers into suspended reality, and entertains with twisted fairy tales.
The truth, then.
Jessica and I met at a Margie Lawson Immersion Master Class, and have remained friends since the sad day Margie pried my fingers from her front porch rail and toted me to Denver International Airport.
[The non-truth is the bit about toasting wienies. We were a cast of six female writers. With the exception of Margie (with her ever-patient, awesome cook, hubby), we had no wienies to toast.]
THE BIG COVER REVEAL
The Dark Huntsman, Book one in Tales of the Black Court Series by Jessica Aspen. Published by Abracadabra Press.
The genre? Spicy, Fantasy Romance, Twisted Fairy Tales [WOOT!]
An evil queen, a dangerous man, and a witch, tangled together in a tale of Snow White…
THE BACK COVER BLURB
Desperate to save the last of her family from the murderous Faery Queen, Trina Mac Elvy weaves a spell of entrapment. But instead of a common soldier, the queen has released the Dark Huntsman, a full blooded fae with lethal powers.
Caged for treason, Logan Ni Brennan, is ready to do anything to win free of the manipulative queen, even if it includes running a last errand for her…murdering a witch. The sight of Trina, ready to fight despite the odds, gives him another option: use the witch as a chess piece, put the queen’s son on the throne, and bring down the queen forever.
As the queen slides into insanity and her closest advisor makes plans to succeed to the throne, Logan secrets Trina away in the enchanted forest and makes a decisive move in his dangerous game of manipulation. But the gaming tables of fate turn on him, and when Trina’s life is threatened he discovers he risks more than his freedom…he risks his heart.
THE WICKEDLY GENEROUS GIVEAWAY by the WICKEDLY TALENTED JESSICA
To celebrate the release of her first in Tales of the Black Court series, Jessica is giving away ten (Yes! One-Zero! Ten!) free eCopies of The Dark Huntsman.
Click here to enter, and please — be sure to leave a comment below. Both Jessica and I love to play in comments.
OH! OH! AN EXCERPT!
Trina raced out the door, forgetting again about the broken bottom porch step. The rotting wood gave under her foot. She hit hard on her hands and knees. The heavy duffle bag swung down and slammed into her arm, tipping open, the sacred ritual tools scattering into the dirt.
Her throat swelled tight. She swallowed back forbidden tears, sat up, and brushed off the tiny rocks embedded in her flesh.
She didn’t have time for this.
Scrambling around in the dirt and weeds, she grabbed the precious tools, tossing them like discarded toys into the duffle. Why hadn’t the Goddess Gifted her with time manipulation? Then she wouldn’t have to worry about all this crap.
Ignoring the gorgeous dusty golds and ambers of fall in rural Wyoming, she hauled the loaded duffle up the rapidly darkening hill. Something was coming to the peaceful valley. Cassie had dreamed it, and even if her dreams were subject to interpretation the meaning had been clear. Tonight at sunset, the queen’s dog would descend.
Whatever the hell “queen’s dog” meant.
Sometimes it took more talent than a whole family of witches to figure out the symbolism of Cassie’s visions. Whatever creature the Faerie Queen sent tonight didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was that the last of her family was safe, speeding away in the ancient avocado van.
Doubt quivered low in her belly. The trap spell required more knowledge and power than she possessed, but she had to try. She didn’t know if they’d have another opportunity to grab one of the queen’s scouts before the reinforcements arrived. It was all up to her. They needed information and they needed it soon, before they ran out of places to run.
She reached the point where the rocks began near the old cottonwood at the entrance to the sage labyrinth. An exact eighteen feet across, the sacred three-times-three-times-three, and barely hitting two and-a-half feet tall, it had taken much of her green talent to get it to grow into the classic winding spiral walk used for meditation and spells. No longer the place where she and her cousins had come for spiritual practice, now the stubby double spiral of green and its small center circle would have to change gears from sacred meditation spot to the place she made her stand.
Trina swallowed her fear and reluctance down deep in her gut, dumped her duffle, and stripped off her clothes. A hard gust of the ever-present Wyoming wind shook her. The newly bared skin of her belly shivered and dread trailed chilly fingers down her spine.
She caught herself checking over her shoulder, finding nothing but the empty landscape. If there were any other way to do this besides bare-assed-naked, she would. But cotton was a downer, it dampened magical fields almost as much as wool. And tonight she had to be unfettered, able to draw as much power as she possibly could. She would need it all.
As soon as the goblin, halfling, or whatever, was in her trap, her clothes could go back on. Then she’d tackle the interrogation and be gone before the big guns arrived. Trolls, ogres, a horde of goblins, no, she’d be long gone before any of those arrived to do the actual killing.
Trying not to rush her steps, the wind lashing dirt against her bare skin, she walked the perimeter of the small labyrinth heading sunwise.
North, East, South, West. She set candles into lanterns at the four corners and lit each one with a prayer to Danu. With each step, apprehension uncoiled in her stomach, radiating out and shaking her hands until it was near impossible for her to light the last candle.
She shoved her anxiety back into her aching stomach and pulled her white handled athame out of the duffle. Breathing deep, she moved the ritual knife, sharp double-blade point up, between her breasts. Energy skidded across her skin. Small hairs on her body rose and her nipples puckered tight.
Time to begin.
Earth magic throbbing under her feet, Trina took the first step into the labyrinth to walk the outer circle and set the wards. Her Gift opened wide. The darkening valley glowed magical colors as the earth’s swirling energies, the soft green of growth and the rich brown of decay, flowed up her legs and into her solar plexus.
She used her body, her anger, and her fear. Anger at the Faery Queen for the constant harassment and extermination of her family and her tribe. Fear of what came next, what might be riding on the coattails of the sunset.
Pulsing with power, she paced deeper and deeper into the labyrinth, static lifting her long black hair into a crackling wild nimbus. She pulled and twisted the vibrant orange and red of her anxiety into the alchemy of the earth’s brown and green energy, weaving them together into an invisible net.
Each measured step layered power into the fabric of her spell. Each movement of the athame directed the energy where it needed to go. Just as darkness dipped its toes into the valley, she turned the last curve into the double spiral’s center.
Her rage and fear coalesced into the final strands of the spell leaving her shaking and exhausted as the last of the afterglow faded from the sky, a stunning show of deep purple on grey. A sonorous quiet descended. No birds, no coyotes. Just the wind sending small trails of skittering leaves through the labyrinth. Prickles of anticipation trembled on her bare spine.
It would be here soon. It was coming fast. And it was coming for her.
ABOUT JESSICA ASPEN
Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s new release email please click here.
FOLLOW JESSICA OR STALK HER OR BOP AROUND HER SITES AT:
GOODREADS (ADD THE DARK HUNTSMAN TO YOUR TBR STACK WHEN YOU VISIT!)
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. PROOF, ONCE AGAIN, THAT I AM BLESSED WITH A PLETHORA OF TALENTED, PROLIFIC WRITERS WHO I’M HONORED TO CALL MY FRIENDS.
Leave a comment. Please! You know how I love to play around in comments. And, don’t forget to click the Linky-Love to enter the giveaway for one of ten free copies.