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text 2018-12-13 11:00
Release Blitz & Giveaway with Excerpt! Two Thousand Years (The Empire Saga #1) M. Dalto!

 

 

http://www.rockstarbooktours.com

 


Hello, Readers! Everyone say hello to M. Dalto and congratulate her on new release – The first book in The Empire Saga – Two Thousand Years.

 

CONGRATULATIONS, M. DALTO!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

 


Title: TWO THOUSAND YEARS
Author: M. Dalto
Pub. Date: December 11, 2018
Publisher: Parliament House Publishing
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 310

 

 
Two thousand years ago, the Prophecy of Fire and Light foretold the coming of the Queen Empress who would lead the Empire into a time of peace and tranquility. But instead of the coming of a prosperous world, a forbidden love for the Empress waged a war that ravaged the land, creating a chasm between the factions, raising the death toll of innocent lives until the final, bloody battle.

 

Centuries later, Alexandra, a twenty-two-year-old barista living in Boston, is taken to an unfamiliar realm of mystery and magic where her life is threatened by Reylor, its banished Lord Steward. She crosses paths with Treyan, the arrogant and seductive Crown Prince of the Empire, and together they discover how their lives, and their love, are so intricately intertwined by a Prophecy set in motion so many years ago.

 

Alex, now the predestined Queen Empress Alexstrayna, whose arrival was foretold by the Annals of the Empire, controls the fate of her new home as war rages between the Crown Prince and Lord Steward. Either choice could tear her world apart as she attempts to keep the Empire's torrid history from repeating itself. In a realm where betrayal and revenge will be as crucial to her survival as love and honor, Alex must discover whether it is her choice - or her fate - that determines how she survives the Empire's rising conflicts.


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AVAILABLE in print or ebook

 

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1
The streets were quiet for a Friday night in the city. Alexandra Ross clenched her collar tighter around her neck as the wind began to pick up, unseasonably cool for so early in Boston’s September. Her heels clicked along the damp cobblestones of the old sidewalks as she headed towards her apartment. She had to take extra care while walking in her four-inch heels.

 

Especially when she knew she was being followed.

 

The city had been her home for three years now, so the late-night trek home remained familiar, almost a comfort. In the now twenty-two years of her life, maintaining her independence was as much of a priority as the switchblade in her jacket pocket was a security. There was a part of her that truly enjoyed the peaceful solitude these walks could bring, but she wasn’t stupid enough to do it without protection.


She was aware he remained a short distance behind her ever since she left Faneuil Hall.

 

This evening was no different, except that she was celebrating her twenty-second birthday, which also may have involved too much alcohol. Perhaps it was the intoxicated appreciation of her city within the quiet of the early morning hours that distracted her from her surroundings.

 

Even the reflections in the familiar storefront windows she passed by reminded her of the fact she that wasn’t alone.

 

Either way, her attention was focused anywhere but where it belonged. It wasn’t until her heel caught in the sidewalk, and a hand grabbed her arm to keep her upright, that she realized she tripped and started to fall.

 

And that the one she believed to be a stalker turned out to actually be a rescuer.

His grip remained firm as his other arm wrapped around her waist to steady her on her feet. As she composed herself, trying to clear her head, her hand went towards the knife in her pocket while she glanced towards the individual who just saved her from needing a nose job.

 

The stranger’s hair was dark under the streetlights, side swept and held loosely in a ponytail at the nape of his neck. He was dressed casually: wearing a dark, button-down shirt over clean denim jeans and sensible dress shoes as if he, too, had just emerged from the bustling social atmosphere that brought so many to Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

 

His features were thin with chiseled cheekbones beneath skin too tanned to be local, but then she looked into his eyes. They were the most piercing blue she had ever seen—almost too blue, especially without the sunlight’s shining assistance.

They radiated with their own luminescence; which was odd at first, but the color was as though they were refractions off of the ocean’s waves. As she continued to stare, the more familiar they seemed. Looking up and into his eyes felt as if she had stared into those eyes before—been lost within them too many times to count.

 

The feeling was almost nostalgic, though she was certain she’d never met him before. She would have remembered those eyes, regardless of how many cosmopolitans she may have drank.

 

By the time she realized she was staring, he had already released her from his grasp.

 

“I—” She blinked, struggling for words as her grip tightened around her knife.

 

“A simple ‘thank you’ would suffice.” His words purred with a foreign accent—familiar, but she couldn’t place it. Irish? Scottish? Perhaps Welsh, she thought to herself, though she wasn’t even certain if it was European at all.

 

“Oh,” she spoke, clearing her throat. “Thank you.” She moved to smooth out the short, black dress she wore, awkwardly running her hands over her legs, her ass—anything she could do to avoid his gaze. “I didn’t even hear you behind me.”

 

“I know.” He smirked. Again, that sense of nostalgia clenched at her chest, her stomach, lower. Before she could inquire further, or at least find out where he came from, he had already moved past her, continuing on his way down the street.

 

“Happy birthday, Alex.” He waved back to her without another glance.

 

How did he know?

 

“Hey, wait!” she called after him, her voice laced with panic, but he disappeared out of sight as quickly as he arrived.

 

Deciding she had had enough excitement for one birthday, Alex slowly, and far more cautiously, finished her walk home. Occasionally, she would chance a glance behind her to ensure she wasn’t followed again. He was just some creep who must have been too close for comfort while they were drinking the bar, she convinced herself as she turned the corner onto the street that led to her apartment. Or merely a lonely someone who overheard her saying her goodbyes to her friends on the way out and thought he’d get lucky.

 

She came to the gate that barred the walkway leading to her apartment, the skin on her neck prickled and the hairs on her arms stood on end. Something was off. The familiarity of home felt wrong, like a lost memory, just within reach moments ago, now nowhere to be found. Her hand had been stuffed into her jacket pocket ever since her encounter with the dark-haired stranger, and she continued to grip the knife tightly as she opened the gate and she headed down the final stretch.

 

Her apartment was situated in one of the older colonial row houses within Boston’s North End that later converted into apartments and condominiums as the years went on and the economy grew. She rented out the bottom floor of the building, with her ground-level entrance beneath the building’s main stairway barred behind a wrought-iron gate. Taking another look around her surroundings, she approached her door as her other hand managed to find her keys, but nearly dropped them as she stopped to survey the scene before her.

 

The light from a nearby street lamp shone on the damage that had been done. The gate was bent in a fashion that looked as though a gorilla took a bar in each hand and spread them apart. Through the warped iron, she could see the lock to her apartment had been destroyed, the surrounding door blown apart with it, shattered beyond easy repair.

 

“Fuck,” she whispered, taking a step back to as she glanced to see if there was anyone around, but not a soul was in sight. With a shaking hand, she reached for her phone. Did she call the police on the off-chance her father’s colleagues would report back to him and have to hear another lecture from her about the horrors of living in the city? Or hell, ensure the potential of seeing any of them the next morning while she was at work, having them remind her of her over-exaggerations while she served them their overpriced coffee?

 

No. No, she did not. So, she rang her best friend instead.

 

“Hello?” Crystal answered on the third ring.

 

“Crystal!” Alex whispered harshly into her phone. “Someone’s broken into my apartment!”

 

“So, call the police,” Crystal reminded her lazily, her tone muddled by the evening’s inebriation.

 

“You know I can’t do that,” she snapped. “Besides, what if they’re already gone? It would be a waste of time and effort.”

 

“And your pride?”

 

“That too.”

 

“What if they’re not?” Crystal queried. “Your father will be pissed, and your mother—”

 

“You are no help; do you know that?”

 

“You’re the one calling me, thinking someone broke into her house!”

 

Before Alex could continue to interrogate her friend, the slightest sound of movement from the other side of the door caught her attention, and her knife was out of her pocket and at the ready, her heart pounding.

 

“Crystal, I’ve got to go,” she murmured into the phone.

 

“What? Wait—” Alex hung up before Crystal could finish her sentence.

 

Reaching the warped gate, she slowly pushed open the ruined door that led into her apartment. She listened again, waiting for a repeat of movement, and quietly stepped through and into the mudroom once she decided it was safe to do so.

Everything was dark and quiet, just as she left it, which gave her even more cause for concern. Whoever was there, whether they remained or not, they weren’t there with robbery as their intention…not that she had much to steal, anyway, beyond an expansive collection of epic fantasy books and Harlequin romance novels.

 

Liquid courage—that was stupidity. At least that’s what she convinced herself as she tiptoed through the kitchen, her ears still perked when she heard a subtle creak of a floorboard and she tightened her grip on the knife. Peeking around the corner, she noticed a dull light emitted from her living room, appearing as though a flame flickered in the darkness.

 

Except Alex’s fireplace was only decoration and never once actually contained a fire.

Despite the nauseating curiosity that gripped her and tightened her stomach into knots, she approached the living room, lingering just outside the entryway. The flickering light made it difficult to adjust her eyes to the darkness, but she was certain she could hear bits and pieces of a conversation within an unknown language between two individuals whose voices she didn’t recognize.

 

Holding her breath, Alex glanced into the living room. Crouched before the fireplace was a figure in black with its back turned to her. Male in appearance, he was too focused on an orb floating before him to notice her. The swirling red flames neither burned nor emanated heat as they hovered over the ground, and her attention was caught upon their pulsating beat as it communicated with her apartment’s intruder, like the blood flowing through her veins.

 

And the foreign language, unfamiliar to her in every possible manner, resounded through her like a jolt—as though a part of her memory had been previously locked away, and hearing it again was the key. No different to her mind than English, she could understand every word they were saying as if it was her native tongue.

 

“You are certain you’ve secured the perimeter?”

 

“Yes, my Lord,” the figure spoke into the flame-less conflagration. “There’s been no sign of the Empress.


She will be none the wiser that the Key is in place.”

 

“You best hope so, for where she will be, the Prince will follow. The Empress must be in my possession before he can make his next move.”

 

“Of course, my Lord, but what shall I do in the meantime?”

 

“Be patient. Be vigilant. And so help me, when the Empress returns, do not allow her to leave that apartment.”

 

“And the Key?”

 

“You will wait until it activates within the next moon cycle. Until then, remember that she will be your only way home. Do you understand me?”

 

The figure bowed his head. “Understood, my Lord. And should the Prince interfere?”

 

Alex could almost feel the simmer through whatever allowed such a floating object to exist, and a shiver trickled down her spin as she watched the dark figure finally stand and turn in her direction.

 

Red eyes glowed in the darkness, like dying embers fighting to remain lit. Being distracted by the earlier conversation, she hadn’t noticed how far she stepped into the room. Whatever courage she may have had before entering her apartment dissipated as those red eyed focused on her. She tried to take a step back, but hit the wall, jarring her elbow in the process and hissing of pain at the impact.

“Well, it appears my job just became a hell of a lot easier,” he slurred in English, though drawling with an accent both foreign and familiar.

 

Not unlike her would-be stalker-savior’s.

 

“Sorry to interrupt,” she announced as she pushed off from her spot against the wall, remembering the knife in her hand and willing her fingers to steady themselves as she pointed it at the head of the intruder.

 

“But I think it’s time you removed yourself from my apartment.”

 

“The Empress?” The voice from the flames sounded pleased, and the orb’s size and power intensified as it emitted an almost demonic chuckle.

 

At the words of whatever master presided on the other side of that communication device, the intruder rose to his full height as he turned around to face her fully.

The amplified light from the orb finally displayed his features. Other than his eyes, there was nothing extraordinary about him. Pale in the pulsating red light, with a shock of black hair and thin lips. He wore unremarkable clothing—a black shirt over black pants that could have come from anywhere—but still it was his eyes that held her attention, creating an otherworldly presence about him.

 

He paused his approach, however, when he saw the knife, cocking his head to the side as though in silent challenge. Instinctively, she sliced it through the air in his general direction, and the unexpected action seemed to surprise him as much as it had her. Taking a reflexive step back, his legs hit a side table next to her couch, knocking a lamp to the floor.

 

The orb ceased its laughter at the commotion.

 

“It’s a pleasure, Empress Alexstrayna," the voice said while the intruder continued his retreat, falling into the fireplace as if the orb would give him protection or a quick escape out of the room.

 

Alex rolled her eyes at the intruder’s pathetic attempts to escape through a brick wall, though her attention was caught at the greeting from the orb. It wasn’t her name, but it was close, and she didn’t want to know how or why. Before she could inquire, the voice behind the floating ball of flame seemed to realize he was losing his local support, and the fire erupted once again. “Where the hell do you think you’re going? The Prince is following her. Find him before he finds you first! Do not let the Empress out of your sight!”

 

The flaming orb allowed his threat to linger as its flames continued to rant and rave, all while the intruder composed himself and again began to approach her. The orb’s light now reflected off of claw-like talons extending from each finger on both hands of the intruder, and his teeth grew into a predator’s fangs. Every bit of his deadly intention was focused solely on her.

 

Alex felt the sweat form on her brow as her heart beat with a terrified fury. Even as she held the knife up to defend herself, it shook between her fingers. The intruder merely gave her a knowing smirk before he reared back on his legs and leaped into the air with feline grace, lunging across the room with his claws extended, aiming directly for her over-exposed chest.

 

Frozen in the spot where she stood, Alex’s eyes were wide as she watched death approach. She remained where she was even as a sudden bolt of cold, blue flame shot over her shoulder, knocking the attacker hard against the wall next to the fireplace. The plaster splintered on impact, causing the intruder to crumple to the floor, unmoving once he hit the ground.

 

Alex thought her heart was going to pound through her ribcage; she made herself take one deep breath, and then another before she looked over her shoulder toward the direction of the flash. In the lingering blue glow stood the stranger who helped her in the street. Those same cold flames appeared to grow from his right hand as he was poised in a battle-ready position, preparing for another strike as his attention focused deeper within the room.

 

Following his glance, she saw that the intruder remained still and motionless, remnants of the blast that sent him there the only movement coming from his body. She wanted to say something—perhaps she should thank him? Too many questions began to cross her mind as she shifted towards him, needing to know more, that same pull of nostalgia almost drawing her in. No sooner had she opened her mouth than did the red orb cease its ranting to greet the new arrival.

 

“I was wondering when you were going to show your face, Treyan. Unfortunately, you’re too late. My Key is in place, and come the next moon cycle, the Empress will rightfully be mine.”

 

“Sorry to disappoint you, Reylor, but my Key has been in place for years.” Treyan walked forward, outstretched his right hand where again blue flames sprung from it, this time engulfing the red orb. Not a moment later, it was extinguished. Without delay, he turned towards her and began to approach her. “I am sorry about all of this, Alex—”

 

“You!” She raised her knife between them, the point hitting his chest before he could move another inch. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

 

Sighing, he brought his hand to the blade, his blue flames warming the metal to the point of nearly burning Alex’s hand, forcing her to drop the knife. She moved to run, but he grabbed hold of her forearm and he pulled her face to him.

 

Alex caught herself getting lost in his blue eyes again and he watched her with an enthusiasm that was unwarranted given their sudden meeting. It was a feeling of intense warmth throughout her body, akin to the comfort of a lover’s embrace. A feeling she had met him before but knew their paths had never crossed before in her life. And yet, some part of her knew him, or knew of him, and that terrified her.

 

Who are you?

 

Unfortunately, the question never left her. Before she could break his intense stare and begin to protest further, he brought a hand to her face, gently cupping her cheek, and after a few murmured words, Alex’s world fell to darkness.


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1 winner will win a $15 Amazon Gift Card, INTERNATIONAL.

 

The giveaway will be open until December 26th at 12:00 a.m. Eastern.

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2867/

 

 
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M. Dalto is a Young Adult / New Adult fiction writer of adventurous romantic fantasy stories, and her debut, TWO THOUSAND YEARS, won one of Wattpad.com’s coveted Watty Awards in 2016. She continues to volunteer her time as a Wattpad Ambassador, where she engages and hopes to inspire new writers, and also mentors authors through the #WriteMentor program.
 
As a mentor, MB is on the lookout for YA and NA novels heavy in plot with the ability to make her fall in love with its characters. Her favorite tropes include love triangles of all kinds, enemies to lovers, dream sequences, and prophecies. She always wants villains you can’t help but be attracted to, redemption arcs or otherwise. She loves novels with deep character development, a setting where she can get lost, and plot twists that make her want to throw the book across the room. Give her main characters you love to hate, but can’t help but hate to love.
 
She spends her days as a full-time residential real estate paralegal, using her evenings to hone her craft. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, playing video games, and drinking coffee. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband, their daughter, and their corgi named Loki.

 

 

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 


http://www.rockstarbooktours.com

 


THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY & TELLING US ABOUT TWO THOUSAND YEARS, M!

 


READERS I HOPE YOU FOUND A GREAT NEW BOOK TO ADD TO YOUR SHELVES!

 

 

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review 2018-12-13 07:22
The Light Fantastic
The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett

The first thing that comes into my mind thinking about this book is "meh". I liked The Light Fantastic even less as The Colour of Magic. The story is quite similar in both books with its "the protagonist is going from point a to b to reach point c" approach, but what The Light Fantastic lacked was Pratchett´s wit. I didn´t chuckle once while reading this book and whenever that is the case with a Discworld novel, I´m really struggling with them.

 

But I know it´s one of his first books and he hasn´t hit his stride yet and I´m glad that I already have read some of his later works. Would I have started with the very three first books, I´m not sure I would have continued on with Pratchett´s work. And that would definitely be a shame.

 

I´ve read this for the 24 tasks as a book that has the word "light" in the title.

 

 

 

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text 2018-12-13 04:30
Reading progress update: I've listened 230 out of 585 minutes.
Hogfather - Terry Pratchett,Nigel Planer

I'm at the part where the store manager is complaining to the Watch that a fake Hogfather is giving away gifts in his shop.

 

Unfortunately, Mr Crumley wasn’t in the right receptive frame of mind. He stood up and waved a shaking finger towards the top of the stairs.
‘I want you to go up there,’ he said, ‘and arrest him!’
‘Arrest who, sir?’ said Corporal Nobbs.
‘The Hogfather!’
‘What for, sir?’
‘Because he’s sitting up there as bold as brass in his Grotto, giving away presents!’
Corporal Nobbs thought about this.
‘You haven’t been having a festive drink, have you, sir?’ he said hopefully.
‘I do not drink!’
‘Very wise, sir,’ said Constable Visit. ‘Alcohol is the tarnish of the soul. Ossory, Book Two, Verse Twenty-four.’
‘Not quite up to speed here, sir,’ said Corporal Nobbs, looking perplexed. ‘I thought the Hogfather is s’posed to give away stuff, isn’t he?’
This time Mr Crumley had to stop and think. Up until now he hadn’t quite sorted things out in his head, other than recognizing their essential wrongness.
‘This one is an Impostor!’ he declared. ‘Yes, that’s right! He smashed his way into here!’
‘Y’know, I always thought that,’ said Nobby. ‘I thought, every year, the Hogfather spends a fortnight sitting in a wooden grotto in a shop in Ankh-Morpork? At his busy time, too? Hah! Not likely! Probably just some old man in a beard, I thought.’
‘I meant . . . he’s not the Hogfather we usually have,’ said Crumley, struggling for firmer ground. ‘He just barged in here!’
‘Oh, a different impostor? Not the real impostor at all?’
‘Well . . . yes . . . no . . .’
‘And started giving stuff away?’ said Corporal Nobbs.
‘That’s what I said! That’s got to be a Crime, hasn’t it?’

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review 2018-12-12 15:01
Review: "His Holy Bones" (The Rifter, #10) by Ginn Hale
His Holy Bones - Ginn Hale

 

~ 4.5 stars ~

 

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text 2018-12-12 11:00
Book Tour & Giveaway with Excerpts & Guest Post! A Choice of Secrets (Dark Glass #4) Barb Hendee!

 

 

https://www.silverdaggertours.com/

 

 


Hello READERS! Thanks for joining me today! I would like to welcome Barb Hendee as she shares the news of her newest book – A Choice of Secrets – which is the fourth book in her historical fantasy Dark Glass series! She’s going to share an excerpt from each of the four books and she’s going to tell us about her writing process! Don’t forget to enter the Giveaway!

 


ABOUT THE BOOKS

 

 

A Choice of Secrets
A Dark Glass Novel Book 4
by Barb Hendee
Genre: Historical Fantasy


Ever since raiders from the north began attacking villages, Lady Nicole Montagna has known that defending her people would come at a cost. The betrothal of her sister Chloe to a neighboring lord seems the perfect solution, forging a powerful alliance. But shortly before the wedding, Nicole is shocked to discover that her sister is with child—and not by her husband-to-be. Now she must make a choice.

She has just hours to decide . . .

 

~Should she tell her soldier brother—who will take swift, ruthless action to ensure the family’s safety?

 

~Should she hold her tongue, let her sister deceive her husband into believing the child is his—and then hope Chloe can get away with the lie?

 

~Should she tell her family, hoping they will know the right thing to do?

With the help of a magic mirror, Nicole lives out each path, fighting to protect herself and those she loves with the weapons she has: wits, herbs, and fortitude.

But no matter her cleverness, neither she nor her family can escape unscathed—for there are repercussions she could never have foreseen, involving her own heart . . .

 

 

A CHOICE OF SECRETS

 

New York Times bestselling author Barb Hendee spins a tale of intrigue, integrity, and the bonds of love and loyalty as one young woman finds her place in a turbulent world . . .


**********

 

 

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39664006-a-choice-of-secrets

 

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/books/a-choice-of-secrets-by-barb-hendee

 

 

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 


A Girl of White Winter
A Dark Glass Novel Book #3

 

 

Kara, as a ward with no parentage and no future, has been raised knowing nothing outside her lady’s chambers. Until Royce Capello, a visiting nobleman, is struck by her ice-pale looks, and demands her as payment for the land the family needs.


With barely time to protest, Kara is sold and packed off for a life as a concubine—until a raiding party descends on Royce’s company and she’s kidnapped for the second time in as many days.


Whatever happens, Kara will be alone in the world, inexperienced and fearing even the vast unfamiliar sky. But one raider gives her a choice—and a magic mirror appears to show her where each path will lead…


She can leave with her protector Raven and journey with his performing troupe, competing for his mercurial affections.


She can flee the raiders’ settlement, and return to Royce’s manor, chattel among devious nobility.


Or she can stay in the settlement, bound to firm, silent Caine, who is as gentle as he is staid and inscrutable.


Her fates twist and turn to affect far more than she could have guessed, tangling the bitter with the sweet—and Kara must choose which consequences she can live with…


**********

 

 

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37934247-a-girl-of-white-winter

 

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/books/a-girl-of-white-winter-by-barb-hendee

 

 

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


A Choice of Crowns
A Dark Glass Novel Book #2

 

 


Olivia Geroux knew her king was reluctant to marry her, whatever the negotiations had arranged. But she never expected to find handsome, arrogant King Rowan obsessed with his stepsister instead. And before she can determine what course to take, she overhears her greatest ally plotting to murder the princess.


Olivia must act quickly—and live with whatever chaos results. As the assassin hunts his prey, a magic mirror appears to show Olivia the three paths that open before her . . .


If she hesitates only a moment, the princess will die—and she will become queen.
If she calls for help, she will gain great power—but she must also thrust away her own happiness.


If she runs to stop the murder herself, she will know love and contentment—but her whole country will suffer.


As she lives out each path, her wits and courage will be tested as she fights to protect her people, her friends, and her heart. And deciding which to follow will be far from easy . . .

 

 

**********

 


Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35117460-a-choice-of-crowns

 

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/books/a-choice-of-crowns-by-barb-hendee

 

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Through a Dark Glass
A Dark Glass Novel Book 1

 

 


On her seventeenth birthday, Megan of Chaumont discovers she’ll be sold as a bride to the brutish Volodane family—within hours. Her father grants only that she may choose which one of the ruthless, grasping lord's three sons she weds:


Rolf, the eldest: stern, ambitious, and loyal?


Sebastian, the second son: sympathetic, sly, and rebellious?


Or Kai, the youngest: bitter, brooding, and proud?


As shy, horrified Megan flees the welcome dinner for her in-laws-to-be, she finds an enchanted mirror that will display how her life unrolls with each man, as if she were living it out in a breath. But there is no smooth “happily ever after” in her choices.


Deaths and honors, joys and agonies, intrigues and escapes await her in a remote, ramshackle keep, where these rough but complex men reveal one side and then another of their jagged characters—and bring forth new aspects of Megan, too.

But the decisions of one teenaged marriage-pawn reverberate much farther than any of them have guessed . . .


*********


Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34913650-through-a-dark-glass

 

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/books/through-a-dark-glass-by-barb-hendee

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 


AVAILABLE in print or ebook


~A Choice of Secrets~

 

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07B79P1F2

 

iBooks - https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-choice-of-secrets/id1363601739

 

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Kobo - https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-choice-of-secrets

 


**********


~A Girl of White Winter~

 

Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/s/?field-keywords=9781635730326

 

iBooks - http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781635730326?uo=8

 

B&N - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/9781635730326

 

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Kobo - http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=9781635730326

 


**********


~A Choice of Crowns~

 

Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/s/?field-keywords=9781635730029

 

iBooks - http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781635730029?uo=8

 

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**********


~Through a Dark Glass~


Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Through-Dark-Glass-Novel-ebook/dp/B071DCWW7G/

 

iBooks - http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781635730005?uo=8

 

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 


Chapter 1

 

At the age of seventeen, I had no real understanding of the danger of secrets…of keeping them, of sharing them, of telling the wrong person for the right reasons.

But I was soon to learn the depths of my own ignorance.

 

One afternoon, in mid-summer, I was in the vast kitchen of my family home, with six other women, rolling dough for both peach and strawberry tarts. One of our housemaids, Jenny, stuck her head in the back door. “Lady Nicole,” she said to me. “Lord Erik and Lord Christophe have arrived. They’re in the hunting hall.”

 

This news made me smile. “Does Lady Chloe know? Or my mother and father?”

 

“Not yet. I’ll go and find them.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Not bothering to even take off my apron or shake the flour from my hair, I hurried out the door and into the open-air center of what was known as White Deer Lodge.

All around me, ten large log buildings had been constructed in a circle. Small paths connected each building to the next. Two of the constructions functioned as our family’s residence. Others housed guests or servants or our guards. One was designated for storage. The largest construction was called the gathering hall for communal events. On the outside of this circle, a village thrived, with dwellings, shops, stables, and a smithy.

 

A stone wall surrounded the village, and heavy forests surrounded three sides of the wall, but not far beyond the west side, the ocean stretched down the coast of the nation of Samourè. This lodge was my home and my father, Gideon Montagna, was lord of these lands.

 

In that moment, though, I gave little thought to my home or my father, and instead, I continued in my quick pace to the smallest of the log buildings—known as the hunting hall. I’d never cared much for this hall, as it was decorated with spears, longbows, and the heads of animals. But nonetheless, once inside the front door, I looked toward the unlit great hearth with a flood of happiness rising inside me.

 

*********

 


Crouched in a corner, in the darkness, I sat with my arms wrapped around my knees, longing for someone to come and fearing someone would come. The night was cold, and even in my cloak, I’d begun to shiver when a familiar voice sounded out back.


“Put down the tray and unbolt the door. I’ll take it in myself.”


Raven.


Relief flooded through me. I didn’t know him any more than I knew Caine, but he had talked to me more, and last night, he’d made me a private bed up on the wagon.


The door opened, and moonlight filtered in. Raven stood there with an armload of firewood. I never saw who was with him because he turned his head and said, “Go home. I can manage from here.”


Striding in, he glanced at me once before walking to the hearth and arranging the logs. A flint appeared in his hand, and he used it to build a fire. I was even more grateful for the light than the heat.


Once the flames had taken, he went back to the door and returned with a wooden tray. A savory scent wafted upward as he knelt in front of me.


The tray contained a bowl, a spoon, and a tin cup.


“Vegetable stew with gravy,” he said. “Go ahead and eat. I know you’re hungry.”


I was famished, but Lady Giselle had always impressed the importance not showing any rush when eating. It was the height of poor manners.


“Thank you,” I whispered, reaching slowly and picking up the bowl, taking a small bite of potato. Then I took a sip of water from the cup.


He watched me.


“I’m sorry,” he said.


His unexpected apology made me brave. “What does Caine want with me?”


“I don’t know. I’ve asked him, but he won’t tell me. He’s speaking to our grandfather now.”


I’d heard the word “grandfather” from one or both of them before. “Is Caine your brother?”


Raven nodded. “So is Logan. He’s the eldest. I’m the youngest.”


Absorbing this news, I took another small bite and swallowed it. “Caine called me his property.”


“I know he did. I heard him.” He studied my face. “But you don’t need to worry. He won’t sell you, and he won’t hurt you. I promise.”


“Why did he bring me here?”


Raven hesitated. “I told you I don’t know…but Caine is a man who believes in fate and in prophecies.”


“And you don’t?”


“I believe in choices.” He stood up. “And I don’t like this. I don’t like you being locked in here, and I don’t like you losing control over your own decisions.”


His words washed over me. I’d never heard anyone talk like this before. I’d never thought about having choices.


He crouched again. “My people all used to be travelers. We traveled the kingdoms as we pleased, never settling anywhere, but that life grew hard for some of us, and my grandfather founded this place. The location makes it safe, and some of us, like Logan and Caine, prefer to grow food and live here year-round.” Tilting his head, he added, “But some of us don’t.”


“What do you mean?”


“I have a troupe who travels with me from village to town, putting on shows to earn money, living as we please. We come back here in autumn so I can help with some of the raiding parties. Then we leave for a few months and come here again for the hard part of winter.”


I wanted to ask more about the term “raiding parties” but had a feeling he was trying to convey something more important.


“My troupe leaves in the morning,” he said.


For some reason, this news brought a fresh wave of fear. He was the only one who really talked to me. And he was leaving in the morning? Standing up again, he walked to the door.


“But for now, I’m going to head back to the common house and see how Grandfather is faring with Caine.” He paused. “I’m not going to lock the door.”
Setting down the bowl, I stood as well. Firelight reflected off the side of his face.
“The way I see it,” he went on, “you have three options. While everyone is distracted, you could slip out of here tonight. No one guards the mouth of the chute. On foot, in the dark, you could press close to the near wall of the chute and make your way down with no one up above on watch seeing you.”


My breaths quickened in fear at the thought of trying to flee this place and make it back to de Marco lands, to my lady, on my own.


“Or,” he said. “You can stay here and take your chances and find out what Caine wants.”


“Or?” I whispered.


“Or…you could come on the road with me.” He amended quickly. “I mean with us, with my troupe. You’d belong to yourself, but you could travel with us.”


A wild rush of hope rose up. “Could you take me home, to the de Marco manor?”


“No. Only small raiding groups of men ever go north into those estate lands. I won’t risk any of my people. We’re heading east. If you want to go back, you’re on your own.”


Despair replaced hope. His refusal had been swift and final.
But another thought occurred. “I couldn’t go with you if I wished to. Caine would never allow it.”


“He would if I asked him. He owes me…or thinks he does. I’ve never asked him for anything, but I’d ask him for this, and he wouldn’t refuse.”


I was moved that Raven would use up a favor to help me, but I also feared the prospect of joining a troupe of strangers traveling east, farther from my home.


He watched me a few moments longer.


“Choices are all that matter in this life,” he said. “And we have to be free to make our own. You think on this, and I’ll be back before dawn. If you’re gone, I’ll know you chose to run. If you’re here, you can tell me what you’ve decided.” He walked out. “I won’t lock the door.”


But he closed it.


I was alone again.

 

 

**********

 


I’ve heard it said the most important moments in one’s life pass more swiftly than others. Perhaps it’s true.


I only know that all my senses were on alert as soon as my father sent for me, asking me to come to his private rooms. Eighteen years old, I’d never once been invited to his rooms. In the past several weeks, he’d been closeted away much of the time, sending and receiving messages, but I had no idea what this was about—as he didn’t see fit to share such intelligence with me.


Now…he wanted to see me, in his rooms?


I could hardly refuse, nor in fact did I want to. I was curious.


Gathering my long green skirt, I nodded curtly to the servant who’d delivered the message and made my way to the base of the east tower of our family keep. I knew exactly where his rooms were located, even if I’d never been inside.


Upon arriving, I stood with my back straight and knocked on the door.


“Father? You sent for me.”


“Come,” he said from the other side.


With my hand shaking only slightly, I opened the door. Inside, I found a somewhat austere main room that appeared to be a study, with a large desk and chair. There were tapestries of forest scenes on the walls, and an interior door led to a bedroom.


My father, Hugh Géroux, sat behind his desk working on what appeared to be a letter, but he stood as I entered. In his early fifties, he still cut a striking figure, with a smooth-shaven face, dark hair with a sprinkling of gray, and dark eyes.


“Olivia,” he said, as if meeting me for the first time.


We didn’t know each other well, as I was the fifth and youngest of his children. I had two older brothers and two older sisters, and my father had used all four of them carefully to enhance his own wealth and prestige. My mother died of a fever when I was only seven, so my father raised us alone in a manner that was both distant and overbearing at the same time.


My family, the line of Géroux, was among the old nobility of the kingdom. While past famines and civil wars had destroyed several of the ancient families, ours survived. We were survivors. My father respected strength and nothing else.


His eyes moved dispassionately from my feet to my face, as if assessing me. I knew only too well what he saw. I was tall for a woman. He was tall, and I could almost look him directly in the eyes. Unfortunately, the current fashion for women was petite and fragile. My hair was long and thick, but it was a shade of burnished red, and again, red hair was not currently in fashion.


Still, I’d been raised to remain sharply aware of everything going on around me, and it was no secret that most men found me desirable. My face had often been called pretty, with clear skin and slanted eyes of green. I looked best in green velvet.


Though I was not vain, I had also been raised to understand that survival was based on value, and at some point, I’d be given a chance to prove myself valuable.

Had that chance finally come?


“You’ll need to pack tonight,” he said. “You leave for Partheney in the morning.”


In spite of my careful awareness of self-control, I nearly gasped. “Partheney?”


This was the king’s city. My family’s lands were in the southeast corner of the kingdom. Partheney was in the northwest, near the coast of the sea. I had never been there.


“You’re to marry King Rowan,” my father said flatly. “His mother, the dowager queen, and I have arranged it.”


I stood still as his words began to sink in, but I still couldn’t quite follow what he was trying to convey. “King Rowan…the dowager queen…is this why you’ve been receiving so many messages?”


His eyes flashed, and I dropped my gaze, cursing myself. Father did not brook questions from his children. He expected only two things from us: strength and obedience. But the slight shaking in my hands grew to a tremble. Had I heard him correctly? I was to marry the king?


Stepping around the desk, he approached me. “Do you know anything of the rumors surrounding King Rowan?”


Unfortunately, I did, hence the reason my hands trembled. Even here, in the isolated southeast, rumors still reached us. In his late twenties, Rowan de Blaise was a young king and had held the throne for only two years. But over those two years, four betrothals with foreign princesses had been arranged via proxy.

 

Envoys had been sent to Partheney to finalize negotiations. In all four cases, when the envoys arrived, Rowan refused to even see them. He’d sent them away.


“I know some of the stories,” I answered my father. “I know betrothals have been arranged, and he’s sent the envoys packing.”


“Yes.” My father nodded. “His mother, the dowager, was the one who arranged the betrothals. She is anxious to see him married and founding a line of heirs.”


“Why will he not marry?”


My father waved one hand in the air. “That is of no matter. What matters is, the dowager has decided to stop seeking a foreign princess and marry him into one of our own noble families. She’s wise and has chosen the line of Géroux. We’ll be linked to royalty, and I’ll be the grandfather of kings.”


The truth of all this hit me, and my hands ceased trembling. I would be queen.


Clearly there were obstacles, but I allowed my initial worries to vanish and let my mind flow. Father expected complete success from himself and would expect nothing less of me. This thought made me brave. “If Rowan has refused to even see the envoys,” I began, “what makes you and the dowager think he will agree to entertain negotiations this time?”


My question was bold, but instead of growing angry, Father only looked at me as if I were simple—which I was not.


“Because as I said, you will leave in the morning,” he answered. “I’m not sending envoys. I have no faith in envoys. I’m sending you. You’ll go to the castle, meet the king, and handle negotiations yourself. You are a daughter of the Géroux. He cannot turn you away.”


“You’ll not come with me?”


“No. That was my first instinct, but the dowager believes it best if the king is given no choice in facing you directly. It will force him to be…polite.” His expression darkened. “And you will not fail to secure him. Do you understand? You will not fail.”


I met his eyes without flinching.


“I understand.”

 


**********

 

 

I looked nothing like myself. Miriam had arranged my hair even more elaborately and used a small round iron on the curls around my face. Then she’d put touches of black kohl at the corners of my eyes. I wore an amber silk gown with a low, square-cut neckline that showed the tops of my breasts. I don’t know where she’d found the gown. It wasn’t mine, and it was much too small to have fit Helena. I supposed my mother must have had it made at some point while anticipating its need.


However, at the sight of me, my father beamed. I couldn’t meet his eyes. Seating at dinner was equally awkward with my father at the head of the table, my mother and I seated on one side, and all four of the Volodanes seated on the other—so I had no choice but to look at one of them when I raised my eyes from my plate of roasted pheasant.


None of them had changed for dinner, and with the exception of Sebastian, they all wore armor and swords. Jarrod hadn’t bothered to shave his face and sported a dark stubble. I could almost feel my mother’s discomfort, but she smiled and made attempts at polite conversation.


Only Sebastian responded to her questions about weather and wild flowers in the northern provinces. Rolf spoke only to his father or mine. Occasionally, he glanced at me as if I already belonged to him. I wasn’t listening to any of them. My heart pounded too loudly in my ears. But then I did hear Rolf say something about heading back north as soon as he and I were married.


A long pause followed, and for the first time, I paid attention.


“It is not settled yet that she will marry you,” my father finally responded. “Per our agreement, Megan will choose for herself.”


Rolf’s face clouded. “I never agreed to that. I am the eldest. She will join with me.”
Jarrod turned in his chair. “You’ll do as I tell you! Nothing less and nothing more!”


Mother, Father, and I all flinched at his tone and his unthinkable manner at the table. Rolf’s face went red, and Sebastian leaned back his chair, smiling.

Something about him was beginning to strike me as sly. He clearly enjoyed his older brother’s chastisement and discomfort.


“Now, now,” he said, dryly. “We mustn’t seem uncouth.”


Kai ignored all this. He ignored everything but his surroundings. His eyes were light brown like mine, and they moved from the opulent tapestries on our walls to the peach roses in silver vases on the table to the porcelain plates and pewter goblets.


Then for the first time, he looked directly at me.


“I fear you’ll find the furnishings at Volodane Hall somewhat lacking,” he said.


His voice dripped with resentment, and I knew I’d not been wrong in my first assessment. He was angry.


His tone was not lost on my mother, who answered him with a strained smile. “Of course, we’ll be sending some household things with her, and Megan will give your hall a woman’s touch.”


These words made me wonder what had happened to Kai’s mother. I’d never asked and no one had mentioned this, but it seemed I would be the lady of their house. The very thought ensured I would not manage to eat another bite of dinner.


Kai studied my mother evenly and breathed out through his teeth. “Our hall won’t be good enough for her. Nothing of us or ours will be good enough.”


Then I realized the source of his anger. He resented the need for this bargain as much as we did. He knew that we—and most of the noble houses—looked down upon the Volodanes, and the last thing he probably wanted was a permanent reminder in his home of their lowly state in comparison to ours.


“Quit!” Jarrod ordered him, pounding one hand on the table. In obedience, Kai stopped talking and withdrew back inside himself, ignoring everyone again.
Sebastian looked at me and raised one eyebrow in amusement. I glanced away.
Somehow—and I never quite knew how—we made it through the rest of dinner.
By the time my mother rose, signifying the meal was over, my heart pounded in my ears again. I felt the edge of my self-control slipping away and knew that I had to gain a few moments to myself or I might possibly do or say something I’d later regret.


“Please make my excuses,” I said quietly to Mother. “I will return quickly.” She frowned briefly, but then her face smoothed in annoyed understanding, and I realized she most likely thought I needed to relieve myself. I didn’t care what she thought.


Turning, I fled the dining hall as fast as I could without running. Upon reaching the passage that led toward the kitchens, I couldn’t stop myself and broke into a run, racing in my heavy silk skirts until I reached an open archway in one side of the passage, just a few doors from the entrance to our kitchens.


There, I took refuge in an old, familiar hiding place.


As a child, I’d come to this storage room whenever I didn’t wish to be found. It was filled with crates, casks, and places to hide. No one ever entered except servants from the kitchens, and none of them ever noticed me secreted away behind a stack of crates.


I hadn’t come here in years, but now, I breathed in relief at the respite of solitude and the illusion of safety.


Slowly, I sank to my knees.


As we were expecting a delivery of goods any day now, the storage room was nearly half-empty. I didn’t even attempt to hide behind crates or casks, as I knew I’d have to return to the hall long before anyone came looking me. A dismal prospect.


What was I going to do? I couldn’t face the thought of my life married to any of those men. Until this afternoon, I’d never faced the prospect of marriage at all . . .

but to one of them? I was not a weeper. My parents had never allowed such an indulgence, and I honestly wasn’t aware I knew how to cry, but tears came to my eyes and one dripped down my cheek. The water in my eyes made the following moment even more uncertain than it might have been.


The air in the storage room appeared to waver. Alarmed, I wiped away my tears, but the motion of the wavering air grew more rapid, and then...something solid began taking shape.


Jumping up to my feet, I gasped.


There, near the far wall across the storage room, a great three-paneled mirror now stood where there had been only empty air an instant before. The thick frames around each panel were of solid pewter, engraved in the image of climbing ivy vines. The glass of the panels was smooth and perfect, and yet I didn’t see myself looking back.


Instead, I found myself staring into the eyes of a lovely dark-haired woman in a black dress. Her face was pale and narrow, and she bore no expression at all. But there she was, inside the right panel gazing out me. Was I going mad? Had my parents driven me mad?


“There is nothing to fear,” the woman said in a hollow voice.


I doubted that statement. I feared for my sanity, but as yet, I’d not found my voice to answer her.


“You are at a crossroad,” she continued, “with three paths.” As she raised her arms, material from her long black sleeves hung down. “I am bidden to give you a gift.”


Here, sadness leaked into her voice, especially at the word “bidden,” and my mind began to race. Was this truly happening?


“You will live out three outcomes . . . to three different choices,” she said. “Lives with men . . . connected by blood. Then you will have the knowledge to know . . . to choose.”


I shook my head. “Wait! What are you saying?”


Lowering both hands to her sides, she said, “The first choice.”


Before I could speak again, the storage room vanished. Wild fear coursed through me as the world went black for the span of a breath, and then suddenly I found myself back in my family’s dining hall, only everything was different.


Chairs had been set up in rows, and guests were seated in them. I wore a gown of pale ivory and held my father’s arm as he walked me past the guests toward the far end of the hall. Flowers in tall vases graced that same end, and a local magistrate stood there with a book in his hands.


Beside the magistrate stood Rolf, wearing his armor and his sword.
Turning, he looked at me in grim determination.
He was waiting.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

What’s Your Writing Process?

 

Normally, I avoid doing any type of “writerly” blog posts because for most people, they’re a good substitute for sleeping pills.

 

But . . . chatting about the human writing process is a little different. Nearly all of us write, whether it’s fiction, poetry, essays, letters, reports for work, etc. And everyone has a different process.

 

When I chose my major in college, people were shocked when I did not wish to go into teaching creative writing. Seriously. I’ve never taught a creative writing course. I did my master’s degree in composition theory, and I teach essay writing.

The reason behind this is that I don’t have the first clue how to teach someone else to write fiction. It’s something that I “do,” but I don’t really understand it. I have a firm grasp of how to teach someone how to write an essay. I also spent years studying what goes on inside our minds as we attempt to write.

 

When you hear the phrase “writing process,” it can mean several different things. For one, we all have a personal writing process—meaning in reference to the way our brains and habits function. There are perfect drafters, binge writers, over-planners . . . procrastinators, etc. The list goes on.

 

I’m a firm believer that deadlines play into this process.

 

For example, my husband and writing partner, J.C. suffers from being a perfect drafter. He'll write a sentence and then stare at it. Something isn't quite right with that sentence. He'll change a few words--or maybe the order of the words--and then stare at the sentence again. Sometimes thirty minutes will go by, and he hasn't moved on to the next sentence. This is a stressful way to write, and these folks tend to start projects early if they are to meet a deadline.

 

Then there are procrastinators. These writers let the ideas churn and swirl inside their heads. They have been given two to three weeks to write a six-page project, and the ideas are still swirling twenty-four hours before the project is due, but not a word has been written. Ten hours before the project is due, they start drinking coffee like it's going out of style, and then they sit down and start hammering out words. They do get the project done, but they are often unhappy with it because it really needs to "cool" for a few days before quality revision can take place. But it's due and needs to be submitted.

 

Then, there are the over-planners. These writers love to do research and outlining. They will come up with a grand idea that excites them, and they will begin research. They also have two to three weeks for a project, but they spend most of that time doing research, taking notes, and outlining. They are having a fabulous time until they realize the project is due, and they haven't actually started writing yet.


I'm a "binge writer." I have a friend, another fiction writer named James Van Pelt, who is the complete opposite of me. He’s capable of getting up every day and writing three pages of a novel or story and then saving his work, closing the file, and going to work (he's also a teacher).

 

I am sooooooo jealous of him. I can't do that. With fiction, I have to become completely immersed (meaning “lost”) in a project. As a result, I only write fiction on breaks between college terms. But within a few days of starting a novel, I do nothing besides write from dawn to dark. This is a little hard J.C. because I'm also the cook in our house, and during those writing binges, we eat a lot of cereal, tuna sandwiches, and pizza.

 

But a few days into starting a novel, I'm getting up at 4:30 in the morning, making coffee, and pounding on keys. A Girl of White Winter is just over 80,000 words, and I wrote it in three and a half weeks. What’s more, I don’t remember writing it. I read it afterward, and I was very caught up in the story. It’s heart wrenching. Hah! But I don’t remember writing it.

 

This is not unusual. I’ve woken up to emails from students that read, “Barb, I finished the first draft of my essay last night at midnight. It’s on why Orca whales should not be kept in captivity. I got caught up in the topic, and I don’t remember writing it. But I just read it, and I think it’s pretty good. I’ve attached it here. Will you read it for me early and tell me what you think?”

 

I’m always glad to read projects early and give feedback, and I really understand what a student means when he or she says, “I don’t remember writing this.”

But the processes I list above are just several examples. What is your typical process? Think about this. Do you like your process? Or would you prefer to change it?
 


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$20 Amazon

 

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

 

http://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/a-choice-of-secrets-book-tour-and-giveaway

 

 

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Barb Hendee is the New York Times bestselling author of The Mist-Torn Witches series. She is the co-author (with husband J.C.) of the Noble Dead Saga. She holds a master’s degree in composition/rhetoric from the University of Idaho and currently teaches writing for Umpqua Community College. She and J.C. live in a quirky two-level townhouse just south of Portland, Oregon.

 

 

Website - http://www.barbhendee.org/

 

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THANKS FOR SHARING THE NEWS OF YOUR GREAT NEW BOOK, BARB HENDEE & TELLING US HOW YOU GO ABOUT WRITING SUCH GREAT WORKS!

 

 

 

THANKS FOR VISITING, READERS!
HOPE YOU FOUND A GREAT BOOK TO ADD TO YOUR SHELVES!

 

 

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