Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Butler Banks Book Tours today's feature author is Milton Davis


Milton Davis is the author of more than a dozen books on Speculative Fiction. He's also a publisher, MVmedia, LLC.


Woman of the woods Synopsis


The latest Sword and Soul novel by Milton Davis returns to the land of Meji, the amazing world of Uhuru. It tells the story of  Sadatina, a  girl on the brink of becoming a woman living with her family in Adamusola, the land beyond the Old Men Mountains. But tragic events transpire that change her life forever, revealing a hidden past that leads her into the midst of a war between her people and those that would see them destroyed, the Mosele. Armed with a spiritual weapon and her feline 'sisters,' Sadatina becomes a Shosa, a warrior trained to fight the terrible nyokas, demon-like creatures that aid the Mosele in their war against her people.
Woman of the Woods is an action filled, emotionally charged adventure that expands the scope of the world of Uhuru and introduces another unforgettable character to its heroic legends.


Woman of the Woods Excerpt

The Shosa followed Teshome through the village and out into the countryside. The journey was slow; Teshome walked before the Shosa, refusing to mount a horse with them. From morning to noon they traveled though farmland; after a brief rest they journeyed until they reached the fallow fields beyond the farmland. They camped in the shadow of the mounds, the Shosa posting guards to patrol the camp in shifts.  They broke camp early next day and continued their march, reaching the river that separated the hills from the fields by late afternoon.  Hazeeta and Teshome strolled to the river’s edge, the two of them gazing at the verdant and ominous knolls.
     “How long have you known the woman of the woods?” Hazeeta asked.
     “Sadatina,” he said.
     “What?” Hazeeta’s heart jumped. It was her! Her daughter was alive! She looked at Asli and her sister smiled.
     Teshome looked at her and smiled. “Her name is Sadatina. I knew her before she became a hunter. I saw her one day when she and her mother came to Wubet. I met her when I worked on her baba’s farm during the harvest season.”
     “How did she become a hunter?”
     Teshome looked away.  “You will have to ask her. If she wants you to know, she will tell you.”
     His reply angered her.  “Does our presence bother you? You didn’t have to lead us here.”
     Teshome squatted and pulled a blade of grass. “No, you are fine. I’m happy you have come. She needs help. I…we cannot fight the nyokas. We try, but they always kill more of us than we kill of them. If it weren’t for Sadatina, you would have found what you expected.”
     Teshome stood and smiled at Hazeeta. “We will have to go slow, though. Sadatina only trusts her sisters and me.”
     “Since you won’t tell me about Sadatina, can you at least tell of the other women?”
     Teshome looked confused. “Other women?”
     Hazeeta rolled her eyes. “Her sisters!”
     Teshome smiled. “It is hard to explain. You will see.” If Teshome knew anything else he was reluctant to provide it.
     “When will she arrive?” Hazeeta asked.
     Teshome stuck the grass blade between his teeth.  “Soon.”
     Hazeeta and Teshome spent most of the day beside the river, staring into the foliage. The sun began its descent behind the hills when the silence was broken by the faint roar of a shumba.    Teshome suddenly stood. “She is coming,” he whispered.  He waded into the river, Hazeeta close behind.  Asli ran to her side. Hazeeta turned and signaled for the other Shosa to stay back.
     Teshome halted a few yards away from the forest edge. Hazeeta and Asli were approaching when he waved them back. “Wait. I will tell you when to come,” he shouted.
     Hazeeta heard the shumba roar again. It was coming closer. The foliage before Teshome jostled and Sadatina emerged.
     It took everything in Hazeeta to keep from shouting for joy. There was no doubt in her mind that the woman emerging from the woods was her daughter. She was her father’s daughter, from the intense eyes to the confident walk.  The Wubetu nyoka hunter sauntered from the trees, a confident look on her young face.  She was barely dressed, a leather top covering her breasts and a kanga resting low on her swaying hips.  A sword hilt peeked over her shoulder; she carried a lance punctuated by an ornate broad leaf blade in her left hand.  But what caught Hazeeta’s attention was the ginanga head Sadatina held by its coarse hair in her right hand.
     Another sight stunned the Shosa leader as well. Two female shumbas followed Sadatina, their snouts stained with nyoka blood.  They trotted past her to Teshome, snuggling their heads against his legs and humming like docile pets. 
     Sadatina’s tough demeanor fell away as she neared Teshome. A childlike smile graced her face as she dropped the lance and nyoka head carelessly and threw her arms around his neck. They kissed long and Hazeeta smiled. She couldn’t remember the last time a man had kissed her that way.
     Sadatina pulled away from Teshome and peered over his shoulder. Her smile faded. The shumbas took notice as well and their backs stiffened. Asli raised her lance.
     “No,” Hazeeta ordered. “No threatening moves. We’ll let Teshome handle this.”
     Words passed between Teshome and the huntress. Sadatina marched up to them, the shumbas beside her. She stopped a lance thrust away. The shumbas kept their distance as they circled the duo.
     “You are Shosa?” Sadatina asked. Her voice sounded as young as she looked. “Why have you come?”
     Hazeeta wanted to reach out and hug Sadatina but she maintained her composure. Now was not the time. “We came to survey this valley and protect it if needed,” Hazeeta answered.
     “We need no protection,” Sadatina replied.
     “I see,” Hazeeta agreed. “But we are curious about you.”
     “Why?”
     “The ability to kill nyokas is not a common thing,” Hazeeta answered. “We Shosa train years to acquire the skill and still we need talismans, gris-gris, Cha’s strength and each other.  Yet you hunt alone…”
     Sadatina looked to the shumbas. “I have my sisters.”
      “Yes you do, which is another mystery.  It is now obvious to me why Cha sent us here. He sent us here to find you.”
     “You have found me. Now you can go.”
     “Wait!” Hazeeta stepped toward Sadatina and the shumbas leaped between them. They crouched and roared. Asli rushed to Hazeeta’s side, her lance leveled at the cats. The other Shosas advanced toward them, bows loaded and aimed. Sadatina turned her head and again Hazeeta was impressed. The young slayer was not intimidated by the Shosas’ threat. If anything, she looked annoyed.
     “Stand down!” Hazeeta shouted. Asli lowered her lance and raised an open hand, her signal reinforcing Hazeeta’s words. Their sisters lowered their bows.
     “Come, sisters,” Sadatina said. The shumbas roared and trotted to Sadatina. She smirked at Hazeeta and returned to Teshome's side.
     “She’s fearless,” Asli commented. “She is your daughter.”
     “Yes she is,” Hazeeta replied. She patted Asli’s shoulder. “Come, let’s leave those two alone. We’ll set up camp a few yards away. I’ll try to talk to her again tomorrow.”
     The Shosa set up camp. While her sisters tended to their needs, Hazeeta sat by her tent, watching Sadatina, Teshome and the shumbas. The child she had left behind thirteen years ago had followed in her footsteps despite not knowing anything about her. It was surely Cha’s will she survived. Any lingering doubt of her decision to have her was washed away by the sight before her. Her daughter was meant to live.
     It fascinated her at how completely the girl’s hard countenance melted away when she was with the young man. The two of them cavorted as if the danger just across the river was nonexistent. The shumbas joined in the carousing, batting at the two of them like cubs rather than the fierce predators they were. It was a strange scene of innocence that went on most of the afternoon until Sadatina and Teshome went to the river. They stripped naked and plunged into the clear waters, no modesty between them as they bathed. They began to play again, but this time the play was more suggestive of things to come. As the sun settled behind the hills they retired to their tent. The shumbas moved before the entrance, their eyes and ears suddenly attentive.
     “Hazeeta?”
     Asli’s voice startled her. She held a plate of food out to her. “Here, eat something.”
     Hazeeta accepted the plate and ate absently. “Did you see them?”
     Asli rolled her eyes. “Who couldn’t? Your child is not very modest.”
     “We’re leaving her here,” Hazeeta decided.
     Asli stepped into Hazeeta’s view, her shocked expression plain.
     “We can’t! She may be the one Cha has summoned.”
     “Then let Cha call her,” Hazeeta retorted. “She is happy here, far happier than she would be if we took her back to Wangara.”
     “How long can she continue to fight the nyokas alone without Cha’s guidance? You know what is coming. You know what Nana has seen.”
     “I know, but I cannot do this to her. If I were in her place I wouldn’t want to go, either. Here she has companionship and love. In Wangara…”
     Asli frowned. “You let your personal feelings get in the way of your duty.”
     Hazeeta dropped her plate. “Don’t lecture me! I am in command here and if I say we leave her be then we leave her be. Do you understand?”
     Asli looked more hurt than angry. “I understand.”
     She spun to walk away but Hazeeta grabbed her arm. “I’m sorry, my friend.”
     Asli grasped her hand. “I understand. I am your sister, remember? We will leave in the morning as you ordered. I will talk to the others. No one will speak of this upon our return.”
     “Thank you, sister.”
     Asli looked away from Hazeeta. “Nana will find out eventually.”
     Hazeeta nodded. “I know, but at least I’ll have no guilt when she finally comes to Wangara. At least I can say it was not my doing.”
     Hazeeta slept easy that night, assured she’d made the right choice and happy that her sisters agreed. She knew she would have to deal with her choice in the future, but that was then. Her daughter was alive. Tonight she was at peace.
That peace was shattered with a familiar sick feeling in her stomach. The ground shook beneath her as she clambered from her cot, a strange rhythmic cadence that heralded a solitary approach. She donned her leather and chain mail and draped her gris-gris about herself. When she exited her tent, her sisters were in motion as well, mounting their horses and arming themselves. Hazeeta didn’t look to them. Her attention went to the solitary tent closest to the river’s edge. Sadatina stood with her sisters, their faces turned toward the wooded hills. Teshome stood behind them. She looked so vulnerable, her only protection her swords and her shumbas.
     Asli brought her horse. “What is this?” she asked. “This does not feel right.”
     “We'll find out soon,” Hazeeta said grimly. “Come, we must hurry.”
     A garbled cry burst from the darkness, spooking the horses and sending a chill through Hazeeta. This was something different, she was sure; the confidence forged by her earlier experience against Karan’s creations diminished with the realization. The Shosa gathered at the riverbank.
     “Start a fire,” Hazeeta ordered.
     The sisters hurried to gather wood from the nearby forest and started a healthy blaze. Hazeeta did not need to give the next command. Her best archers went to the flames with arrows dipped in flammable oil, lighting the missiles in unison and loading their bows.
     “Fire!” She commanded. Her sisters responded seconds later, blazing bolts streaking overhead like falling stars and peppering both sides of the bank. Another bellow shook the night and their adversary emerged from the woods. It was huge, much larger that the biggest washaka, a grotesque amalgamation of beasts built by malicious hands. Its massive body suggested the mountain primates but its stance was more human than beast. A jackal-like snout protruded from its face, its head crowned by a pair of thick, curved horns. Hazeeta had no idea about the meaning behind the beast’s demeanor, but its size alone signaled caution. A volley of poison arrows followed by a gris lance charge would have been her command, but she had no time to call out the orders. Sadatina and her shumbas leaped through the flames no sooner than the arrows illuminated their way. The larger shumba leaped onto the beast’s shoulder, digging in with teeth and claws. As the beast cried out and reached for her, the other shumba lunged at its left leg, biting into its hamstring. Sadatina ran at the beast and leaped into the air, her sword raised over her head.
     But the beast was swifter that its size suggested. It grasped the shumba at its leg, ripped it free and threw it away like debris. The shumba crashed into Sadatina and they both tumbled into the river. It grasped the other feline with both hands and pulled it away, but before it could fling it free the shumba gripped the hand and bit into the wrist. A piercing howl caused Hazeeta and her sisters to cringe as they reached the flaming perimeter. The Shosa raised their bows ready to fire but Hazeeta stopped them.
     Sadatina and the other shumba emerged from the river and renewed their attack. As her companion worried the beast’s arms, the other climbed its torso. Sadatina worked her way behind it and hacked at its hamstrings like a woodsman, gritty determination warping her face. Again the creature managed to free itself.  It twisted, throwing both shumbas from its body. Sadatina barely dodged a swipe from its clawed hand, jumping away to join her returning cohorts.
     “Now!” Hazeeta shouted. A volley of bolts sprang from the Shosa bows. The beast crouched and they sailed over it, peppering the trees across the river.
     “Reload!” she shouted. “Lancers advance!” The sisters split into two groups. Half replenished their bows and gathered behind Asli. The others slung their bows on their backs and freed their gris lances, the double tipped spears laced with gris-gris. They lined up behind Hazeeta. She raised her saber, preparing to signal the charge when a horrifying sight stopped her. Sadatina leaped before the creature again. She sliced at its neck but the creature ducked. It raised its head, slamming its crown into her. The girl warrior sailed backwards through the flame barrier, landing hard on her back.
     Teshome ran toward her, a machete in his hand. “Sadatina!” he yelled as he approached the flame.
     “Teshome, no!” Sadatina yelled back. “Get away!”
     “Shossssa!” the creature hissed.
     Hazeeta jerked with morbid shock. “It speaks?”
     The creature charged through the fire on all fours. Teshome stood before it like a statue. Hazeeta had seen this scenario too many times before.  A warrior too terrified to flee bolted in place by indecision.
     The creature turned its head to the right and jerked it left. The left horn impaled Teshome’s chest. For a brief moment he rode the horn until he slipped away and tumbled from the nyoka’s path. Sadatina scrambled to her feet and ran to him. Hazeeta followed her with her eyes until she was clear. It was time for her sisters to act.
     “Fire!” she yelled. Arrows swarmed the creature's face like bees, some penetrating into its head while others caromed off its horns. The creature collapsed, grabbing at the poison bolts protruding from its bleeding face.
     “Second volley, fire!” Asli shouted. The second volley struck with such impact the nyoka staggered back, its arms flung wide. The second volley was no random fusillade; each sister aimed her shot at a point on the beast where the veins should be close, thus speeding the entry of the poison into its blood.  The creature continued to stagger, though with the amount of poison coursing through its bulk it should have been dead.
     Hazeeta said nothing to instigate the charge. She lifted her lance, spurred her horse and galloped forward, lowering the weapon as she neared the wounded beast. Her sisters spread out beside her, keeping pace as they neared the nyoka. It tottered, absently pulling at the projectiles in its flesh. The Shosa could have waited for the poison to take effect but Hazeeta would not let this thing die a peaceful death. She raised her lance to her shoulder and flung it with all her strength. The double edged projectile hit the nyoka full in its throat. It grabbed the lance’s shaft and tugged at it weakly. Her sisters threw their lances as well, peppering the beast’s body. The beast shuddered, falling onto its back.
     Hazeeta veered away while her sisters drew their sabers and advanced on the dying beast. She searched the darkness and found what she was looking for. Sadatina knelt beside Teshome, cradling his head in her lap. She rocked back and forth, her sobbing loud in Hazeeta’s ears. An old pain resurfaced in the Shosa’s heart and her own eyes began to water. By the time she reined her horse and dismounted she was crying as well.
     “Why, Teshome? Why?” Sadatina said between sobs.
     Hazeeta approached slowly, wary of the shumbas which paced nervously, occasionally looking at Sadatina and the lifeless Teshome. When she reached Sadatina’s side, she knelt beside her but said nothing.
     “You always wanted to protect me,” Sadatina said. “I didn’t need your protection. All I needed was your love.”
     Hazeeta reached out and gingerly touched Sadatina’s shoulder. When she was sure Sadatina wouldn’t reject her she moved closer, holding her within her arms. This was not a time for words.
     “Hazeeta?” Asli came up beside her, her face grim.
     “Harvest the body for gris-gris and burn the rest,” Hazeeta said automatically.
     Asli lingered, glancing at Hazeeta and back to her sisters. Hazeeta looked at her again, her face stern. “Go. I’ll be here with Sadatina.”


Link to Amazon where you find many of his books: Milton Davis

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Butler Banks Book Tours today's feature author is Kai Leakes


Author Bio:


From Iowa, but later relocating to Alton, IL and St. Louis, MO, Kai Leakes was a multifaceted Midwestern child, who gained an addiction to books at an early age. Sharing stories with her cousins as a teen, writing books didn’t seem like something she would pursue until one day in college. Storytelling continues to be a major part of her very DNA, with the goal of sharing tales that entertain and add color to a gray literary world.

In her spare time, she likes to cook, dabble in photography, and assists with an internet/social networking group online. Loving to feed her book addiction, romance, fantasy and fiction novels are her world. Reading those particular genres help guide her as she finds the time to write and study for school.

Kai is the author of Sineaters: Devotion book one and the soon-to-be-released Sin Eaters: Retribution: Devotion book two, coming in June.

You can find her at her website: kwhp5f.wix.com/kai-leakes.

“The Light Will Always Prevail, but when the Light and Dark are at war, sometimes the Grey can only be your salvation.”  ~ Kai Leakes

                                     





Eaters: Devotion Book One Synopsis:

Khamun Cross was born to do one thing and that was to watch Sanna Steele, a woman so unique and special he would risk his all to have her. So what, that in his job of watching her, he happens to prowl the streets, hunting the very things that go bump in the night. Even monsters or everyday looking people that steal humans' souls become Khamun's victims, and he brings with him a power, a vampirism, that would send one straight to the dark.

Khamun craves the darkness in his victims as if it were his own personal dinner, but not as much as he craves the very woman he has been ordained to watch over as her Guardian Angel. Sanna Steele is just your average twenty-seven year old, with your everyday hopes, dreams and insecurities. She is clueless about the war that is secretly raging around her in the streets of St. Louis. A war she will soon become a part of. But what is so special about Sanna that the very things that go bump in the night, seeks to snatch her from her very existence in life?

Get your copy of Kai Leakes Sin Eaters: Devotion Book One now at Amazon! http://goo.gl/xrSEkn



buy SE at Barnes and Noble: http://goo.gl/K9OvLg

Sin Eaters 2: Retribution (Devotion Book Two) Synopsis:

Darkness is swallowing the streets of Chicago, and a key may have been found. Khamun and Sanna's epic journey together has led them to this, their mission to save Nephilim Society from themselves. Still trying to open the secrets of the first book, Khamun and Sanna's fight has resulted in a travesty that may change their lives. Now with Khamun at the cusp of a life and death decision, it's up to his team to close ranks and protect their Oracle.

Calvin Freeman is surrounded by death. Not only has his cousin fallen in battle, but he's now being stalked by ghosts from his past lives and a familiar lethal foe, The Medusa. What is deathly has become alluring, and what is toxic has become bittersweet. His dreams are betraying him, and war is coming as society turns a blind eye. It's up to him and his family to bring their retribution, and it's up to him to find out why the woman known for bringing nightmares has suddenly knocked at his door.

Take a final walk in the chilling world of Kai Leakes in Sin Eaters 2: Retribution Devotion Book Two.

And if you're already #Teamsineaters keep a look out for the action pact continuation coming soon June 24, 2014.

Sin Eaters 2: Retribution Pre-order now on Amazon! http://goo.gl/YtqkOu
Or Pre-order SE2 at BN: http://goo.gl/MEKt6H


Sin Eaters – Devotion Book One Excerpt:

Today…

Metallic, sweet and mind intense flavor filled the air. The quiet that floated around made the hairs on passerby’s in the night to stand up as if the already chill filled wind wasn’t enough to have them shivering. Rich, black ebon swallowed the alleyway keeping the individuals who occupied it secured and sequestered away from all who dared peek down the tight tunnel. Water idly sliding down the asphalted street, mixed with oil and idle trash skating against the cracked surface, cushioned midnight colored Timberland’s as the flash of twinkling light cascaded in a flash like a pulse near the booted body.

Inhaling even shallow breaths, the individual listened as all sound seemed to be absorbed away as if in a tornado. This silence triggered the timed attack, which had the anticipation in the individual’s body expand with power, velocity, speed and well checked strength.

If one was to be one of the many idle flies which hovered in the nearby dumpster, they would be amazed at the sight of the super human individual running in an almost flying position and landing on the second hulking form in the alley.
The rise of a scent that had cats meowing and arched in defense on the railings of a window and under a parked car filled the air again as the crisp white flash of light slashed in the night air, landing against the second balked individual as the attacker hissed.

In a fraction of a blink, claws the size of an oversized lion slashed in the air as tentacles dipped out near the blind spot of the attacker, making the being jump in the air. Bringing down a flashing light of metal unto the second balked former human looking being but now entity of horrendous looks, the precise slash against the entities flesh caused the now familiar smell to fill the air once more.

The attacker crouched low in a resting battle position, taking in shallow calm breaths as the thing turn to attack again, running full speed. Its Italian leather wing tipped shoes creating a rhythm of tapping song on the alleyway floor, causing the attacker to hum, throwing the entity off its thoughts.
Light sheen of perspiration kissed the attacker’s forehead with each calm inhale. The attacker lived for this, loved it and desired the hunt of creatures such as this.

Strategizing the next move, the attacker thought back to how this prey was hunted. A quiet smile flashed across the attackers lips. It wasn’t hard to get to the sick bastard, the attacker posed as the entities preferred targets, an angry teenager, who wanted nothing but to get away from their parent. It made the attacker clutch the blade that nestled comfortably against his palm, in anger at the obscene and pornographic discussions that would occur with the demon.
It made it even easier to identify that this monster wasn’t the shrewd Italian entrepreneur he portrayed to be, but was in fact a succubae level soul polluter demon. These breed of evil were the most degenerate of demons, they enjoyed feasting off the pain of the victims through lewd sexual means, physical decapitating torture and flesh eating.
Knowing this, it silently pleased the attacker to stalk and mentally threaten the demon’s territory by baiting it, since these demons were known for their territorial nature.

Allowing the demon to believe they were to meet up outside of a popular artist’s concert, the attacker led the demon to the alleyway through simple mind manipulation and the rest is history. Shuddering with a lethal dose of pleasure and battle tactics, the attacker’s body tightened with the wait as the breeze in the alley lightly brushed against skin.
Side stepping within the low crouch, the attacker pivoted and flipped forward with the lithe agility of a panther producing a silver gun. Suddenly as if time stopped, bullets exploded in the air as the glimmering and glowing objects penetrated the thrown back body of the beast, causing it to howl in pain.

The attacker ran full speed, watching the bullets hit each expertly calculated point on the beast’s body. Landing a blow to the entities ribcage; the muscles in the attacker’s bicep tightening with the impact of breaking bones and tearing flesh.
Seething in anger, contempt, disbelief and hate, the monster attempted to slash at the attacker with its claws, its teeth dripping with a mixture of its own blood and a liquid miasma. The beast successfully slammed the attacker into the side of a building, breaking bricks and creating a crater in the wall, rushing like a bull to launch another attack of teeth and claws. Pivoting out of the way with a deep guttural grunt, the attacker let another round of bullets to release and absorb into the slashing and bleeding beast, watching him fall.

High pitched human screams burst from the beast as it lay on the cold glistening wet pavement, its twisted and contorted body writhing as the attacker casually walked over it kneeling down and grabbing it by its neck.
Watching slowly as the entity howled, hissing and fighting back, its eyes begged to be left alone as its tentacles and claws melted away into a very human hand. As the once beastly thing revealed itself during its cries, a disheveled looking handsome muscular man, dressed in an Italian designed straight from the runway suit, coughed up spewing blood and wheezed in agony. The clawing man, murmured in unintelligible sentences, his sun kissed olive skin, slowly fading into a murky grey.

Wrinkles of decay and diseases, emitting from his once handsome frame, seemed to slosh away with every scream of pain and anger. Flowing oak colored hair, drifted away as if it was dust in the wind. The man reached out attempting to tear at the attacker’s throat as flashes of the demon’s past life of darkness flowed into his vision through the eyes and briefly flashed smile of the attacker’s photogenic face.

Hunching over in a swift movement that would rival and shame a snake, if a snake could be shamed, the attacker hissed, claw palmed the man in the chest clutching at his engorged heart to pull it to its surface, beating against rapidly thinning skin, as the man screamed in garbled terror.

“Ashes to ashes…”, was whispered in the air as the attacker pulled the heart from the man’s cavity and ferociously bit into the side of the screaming man’s neck tearing and cavernously biting until the attacker’s mouth seemed to fuse with the writhing man’s jugular, as rivers of blood fluidly glided everywhere.

Sin Eaters 2 - Retribution (Book Two) Excerpt:

Prelude

The past . . .

 

“Where are you going to go, boy? You’re surrounded!” Like hell, woulda ever let ya take me down, boss, rushed into his mind as he ran. More like sprinted through the thick, grasping trees that surrounded him. Rigged branches reached out to him as if they had a mind of their own. Their thick almost-black rooted stems twisted in their uprooting from the bowels of the earth to make him trip, but he was smarter than the trees. He leaped and veered out of their menacing way and his arms jolted outward to part through bushes.

With all of the trees that surrounded him, he would not have believed that he was back in Harlem, had he known any better; but for those who don’t know it by that name, New York was where he was. The bustling city lights covered the sky like fireflies splashed across the sky’s black canvas. The noisy zipping of various buckets and hacks driving carelessly pass tourists and city folk gave him a sense of how close he exactly was to civilization. It also gave him a sense of purpose.
Twigs snapped suddenly and the rustling of leaves tussling against each other let him know they were still hot on his trail. His mind was racing as he looked for an out. All of this was too familiar to him. Beady red eyes flickered at him in the darkness of the wilderness—no, of the park. He was in Central Park. He should have realized that. Those piercing eyes stared at him in delight, ready to seize the opportunity to hogtie him so that he could be their little plaything but he would not give them that satisfaction. Not yet.

Beads of midnight dew kissed his face the moment he stepped through the thicket. His wingtip shoes abruptly skidded as they made contact with wet, slick grass. He jumped. Then he lifted in the air, almost floating for a mere second. Both of his large feet clacked against pebbled stone the moment they met the ground.

He could hear the enemy. He could feel them breathing against the back of his neck. Each hair on his body stood in salute, coming alive in electric awareness. In this life at least, he knew he could die on his terms and die giving them a fight. In seven minutes, his time would be up soon anyway, so what could he really do about not being bumped off?

Seven . . .
A whizzing sound sizzled past his ear and he felt the hot trickle of blood mixing with his sweat and the quick pop of the gun after the fact. They wanted to play dirty. They wanted to make him appear to be a patsy and a hood. He had to laugh; he was better than a hood. Sure, at one time, he had to fill that slot but now he was his own man, a bruno to a well-known trouble boy who protected the meek of Harlem. They worked together with his gang to find those who were kidnapped or were bumping gums to the wrong people. They worked to regain money lost in predatory loans and schemes and wrongful repositions. They worked to build up their people and to protect all who walked the streets of Harlem from the highbinders that made it their mission to tear down the community. But these men who were after him, the very scum and thugs themselves, were no normal men.

Corrupted monsters in the flesh of coppers more like it. Oh, what he wouldn’t give to go out between the gams of a looker for a change.

Six . . .

The menacing snarl of dogs in the distance made him grimly chuckle before closing his eyes with the feel of his body vibrating with his gift. His gift allowed him to use the sound waves around him to channel it into music. With a slight part of his lips, he let out a low hum. Whistling he changed the pitched and dropped into a low crouch. Both hands extended outward and he observed his skin lighting up in swirling patterns against its burnished surface. That was his clue to project that vibrating power out in waves toward the hunting dogs. A change in his vision instantly allowed him to see through their glittering eyes. He then knew where to run next. With a quick shift of the pitch of his song, he caused the dogs to halt their barks, whimper, and then stopped in their tracks to turn. Attack, was his simple mental command and he watched the dogs attack their owners before sprinting away in retreat.

His sweat dripped down his face like rain on the ground before him. His ragged breath came out in sharp bursts and he pushed up to start his run again. They wouldn’t get what he had been given a vision to find. That he was sure he had hidden well; he had taken something priceless, something rare, and something they wanted destroyed but couldn’t. Something they had to hide from his people because he had learned it could kill the leader of their kind.

Five . . .




(Find out what the countdown is about when Sin Eaters 2: Retribution drops June 24th 2014)

Additional places to follow Kai Leakes:

FB – Kai Leakes on Facebook

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Sin Eaters Devotion Book One is out now! 
Sin Eaters 2: Devotion Book Two will be released June 24, 2014! 
Contest also coming soon!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Butler Banks Book Tours today's feature author is Carole McDonnell





CAROLE MCDONNELL INTERVIEW ON FANTASY DEBUT ABOUT WIND FOLLOWER

An Interview With Carole McDonnell

Carole was kind enough to answer some questions for Fantasy Debut. As you will surmise, Carole and I have been swapping lots of emails and it has been a lot of fun, at least for me and hopefully for her!

Please tell us what inspired you to write WIND FOLLOWER.

So many things. Books come from so many parts of a writer. The spiritual part, the social-racial part, the psycho-emotional part, the intellectual-creative part, etc. I can say that creatively I wanted to challenge myself to write a book which contained high fantasy, honored folklore, and primeval Christianity and that was a kind of emotionally-healing romance.

You call WIND FOLLOWER a Christian fantasy, yet the writer's guidelines at Juno Books specifies that they don't publish Christian fantasy. Was it difficult to find a home for WIND FOLLOWER?

The Christian publishing world is pretty rigid and I knew Wind Follower wouldn't fall easily into their world. I wanted to deal with sexuality, racial issues, interracial-intercultural romances, imperialism, and "pagan" cultures. And I knew they wouldn't want to touch any of those things because the CBA publishers didn't consider those issues "safe" for their audience. I got rejected by CBA gatekeepers with interesting lines like: "I like this book but I would be fired if I published it." Or "It was going along well but then you delved into certain areas..." Or "this is the best speculative christian book I have ever read but our readers would not like it."

On the other hand, I wanted the book to be Biblical in some places and I figured that would be a problem with secular publishers. It turned out not to be. Juno really doesn't publish Christian fantasy but my friend, Nick Woods, a white South African writer, says I "walk the borderlands." And that is true. I'm black and I can easily talk to white folks about race. I'm Christian and I have close friends who are non-religious or who belong to many different religions. I'm staunchly myself, yet I seem to have a kind of ambassadorial quality and ease with talking to folks who would not like any of my "labels." Black, Christian, whatever. In a conversation with a white gay writer friend the topic came up in which we wondered who our audiences would be. She figured her readers would probably be straight. Well, I tend to think my primary audience will be non-Christians. I'll have black readers and Christian fans, of course. So it wasn't hard for Juno to accept me. I'm not preachy, and the story's world is like any other fantasy world...except it comes from a Black American pentecostal worldview. But my readers will probably be pretty much anyone who likes speculative fiction.

During our correspondence, you specified that your novel should appear in the Fantasy section, not the African-American section. Recently, I featured David Anthony Durham's Acacia, and he had the same sort of battle. How difficult is it for a Black author to avoid being pigeonholed in the African-American sections of American bookstores?

I don't know much about the publishing world, really. I know that many Black folks have bookstore sections they tend to visit. But white folks also do that. My black online writing groups tend to question: "Do blacks read speculative fiction? How do we get more black folks to read black speculative fiction?" Honestly, I don't know the answer to those questions. Many of my black friends only go to the religious sections of bookstores. Many only go to the romance sections. Many read anything. One can't really judge what the black reading audience is going to do. The thing is to make the black and minority audience know that there are books out there that speak to their experience.

For instance, I really do not read much fantasy or science fiction. I don't read Christian novels. I don't read romances. Yet I love all these genres...and will waste a couple of hours watching genre movies. But films are different from books. A book is a large commitment of time and I groan whenever I have to deal with high fantasy, or Christian romance, or any kind of literature that doesn't connect to me. There's a high fantasy book I'm supposed to be reviewing. I still can't get past the first seven pages. As a black person who loves speculative literature, there are just so many high-born lords and ladies one can endure....no matter how magical the world. As a black Christian, one can endure just so many white pioneer or country types taming the frontier. For me, European-based high fantasy literature is often as offensive as Anglo-based Christian romance. I want to shout, "There are other ethnic groups in the world and why should I always have to be awashed with Euro-culture?" Christianity, for instance, is not a white religion. Most of the world's Christians are non-white. Yet, most of the world's Christian religious books are written by white people.

If a black person wants to read any kind of book -- religious, romance, speculative fiction -- he/she has to accept the fact that the white culture is the one he/she will be immersed in. Some black readers are tired of that and they know that if they go to the African-American section of the bookstore, they won't have to deal with the stories of the larger culture. The same can be said of the Christian population. Christians don't want to deal with books in which their faith is slammed, or which there is something they consider offensive or "unsafe." (Unfortunately, in this country, the definition of unsafe has gotten a bit out of hand...as I mentioned before.) But, clearly, the white culture doesn't have to deal with the minority cultures' stories. They have a choice. The non-religious segment of the population doesn't have to deal with the literature of the religious segment. They have a choice. The result is that there is all this segmentation and segregation. Unfortunately, I've never really been able to be solidly one thing or primarily one aspect of myself. There is no solid Christian minority culture in this country. The Christian culture in the United States is primarily a white one. I hope to be a multicultural Christian writer...and I hope to be "found" by those who would be interested in reading my books.

Did you have any historical sources for WIND FOLLOWER or did you make up this fantastically detailed world on your own?

Totally made up. When I first thought of it, I wanted to create an alternate Africa that had been invaded by Native Americans or by folks from Asia. There would also be a sojourning peoples who would be a third tribe. But I knew zip about African history, nada about Asian history, zilch about Native American history. Not really zip, nada, or zilch, but you know what I mean. Not enough to actually create a full-fledged respectable alternate Africa. So I decided to just make it some unknown continent on some unspecifiec planet in some unnamed universe. Most reviewers have been assuming Wind Follower's setting is in Africa. It seems that my original thought -- and my lack of specific description regarding the setting-- worked its way into the zeitgeist of the novel anyway.

What is your favorite scene in WIND FOLLOWER?

As a writer, I'm pretty proud of the fall into Gebelda. I like descriptions of hell in novels. It's part of the oldest high fantasy tradition --Parzival, Gawain and the Green Knicht-- to have the hero get into a spiritual eye-opening experiences. Hell or some semblance of the dark place of the soul. And it's part of folklore to have some descent into hell. Plus hell is such an important part of Christian doctrine. Actually, most religions and folklore have some kind of hell, even Tibetan Buddhism...but Christianity focuses on it.

As a person of faith, I like the scene where Loic wakes from sleep and aims his shuwa into the sky....and later Satha's response to the shuwa. Faith is such an odd little thing. One does a thing because one feels it is the right thing to do, and one doesn't question an impression placed in one's soul by the Creator. The fact that Loic would wake from a dream and do something simply because in a dream he was told to do it! And to not question the Creator about the action he is called to do! That's an act of faith. And Satha's reaction to the shuwa is also an act of interpretation of that faith.

As a woman, I liked the scene when Loic first meets Satha. To have someone want me like that. I've been married for 23 years. My husband loves me dearly and I adore him. But we're laid-back folks. Even when we first met there wasn't that passionate overwhelming desire. We're not ultra-passionate folks. But hey, it's the stuff of romance...and I like romance.

I also like certain chapters where "scenes" per se don't happen but where Satha tells about her heart and the existential grief she endures. My soul is in those scenes. I wrote those sections from the depth of my heart.

What scene gave you the most trouble?

The rape scene. Technically it had to be done in such a way that Satha didn't seem stupid. It had to be foreshadowed to the cynical readers who know enough not to trust anyone. But it also had to come as a surprise to the innocent readers who believed in the goodness of people. So it had to be predictable to those who are thinkers and unpredictable to those readers who feel.

In addition, I had to figure out what kind of person the rapist was. This was one of the few times where Paula almost lost her patience with me. (Okay, she really did lose her patience!) She kept telling me: stop being in love with your villain. He's a villain for heaven's sake! So I had to really find evil in him...really really really stop excusing his behavior. That was hard 'cause I was kinda in love with him. I suspect that I will only see how evil he is in about twenty years when I re-read the book from a distance. Paula kept telling me that the character I thought I had written was not the one I had actually written. So I had to trust her on that.

Emotionally, it was a tough scene also because when I was in college about twenty seven years ago, a white guy -- a friend who was very troubled-- attacked me and beat me up because he wanted to sleep with me and I didn't want to sleep with him. He was very handsome, very troubled, and had issues up the wazoo. So it was hard to hate him although he had left me beaten up on the floor with a face and ribs that ached for a whole month. I tend to be one of those people who belittles her own pain because she understands those who are wounding her. Not a sane way to be in life. So it was hard to fully hate the villain.

Did you finish any other novels before you wrote WIND FOLLOWER, or is this your first novel? If so, can we expect to see them in print?

I finished Daughters of Men. That was the one I sent to Paula at fist, cause it was finished. She said, very kindly, "It needs a lot of work." It does. I'm revising it now. And I really mean revising. Not just rewriting. It was originally third person narration, now it's first person. I've also changed the main character. And, best thing of all, I've finally learned how to write a novel. So I am busily cutting off tentacles from this 20-legged octopi and cutting off episodic suction cups that threaten to suck me into some stupid sub-plot that doesn't matter to the greater, larger story.

Can you give us a teaser about your next novel?

I have yet to know if it'll be a religious novel. My faith is in everything I write but some stories aren't so blatantly about religion. It's been said (I forgot by who) that a novel is a conversation between the soul and the spirit. The question in Wind Follower was: Which would you choose faith or family? Faith-committment versus Race-commitment. The question in Daughters of Men is What would you do to become a queen? Friendship versus Personal Expedience.

The main character is the Chimeran Queen. Her name is Medusa. She is a mutant...biologically created like all the human chimeras....worms coming from all her orifices and through her skin. She is a telepath and a mind-reader. She is being raised by an Overseer Prince. The Overseers are also biological creations but they are the height of perfection and beauty. They are also telepaths and mindreaders. She hasn't told them that she is a telepath, however. Instinctively, she knows not to do this. When the story begins she is living in a house on the prince's compound and she gets news of the outside world through conversations with the Overseers. She also sees what they aren't telling her. While they don't lie to her, they do avoid telling her a few important things...like the fact that the other Chimeric people who have been exiled to the terraformed asteroid Otaura, don't want her to reign over them. She also sees their love troubles....specifically the triangle between the prince, a scarred woman whom the prince loves, and the prince's best friend a rebel who helps the standard-issue humans (although he, like all the other Overseers, doesn't really like human men.) She's in love with the prince but she has a special bond with the prince's best friend and so she helps to "cover his mind" and protect the guilty lovers in their love affair.... Well, until....

Right now it begins like this:

I don't quite remember when I fully understood that I could hide my mind from the probing of the Young Men. Nor do I remember when I first understood the extent of my loneliness. But these –memory, comprehension, the passing from youth to adulthood– are small matters and should not make you doubt my narrative. I am the Chimeran Queen, after all, your queen, one of the daughters of men...and I would not lie to you.

Many of my readers are writers. Do you have any advice for them?

Be honest. You never know who might accept your honesty. And what is the use of writing -- of getting published and expecting folks to spend their hard-earned $12.95 on your book-- if you aren't going to tell them about the world as you see it? Editors can be brave and accept some odd stuff. At least, in my case, I found an editor who didn't mind the religious stuff in Wind Follower. Write from your pain and write from your joy. Join critique circles. Learn to take criticism. Even if it's from someone who doesn't seem too bright or too kind. Don't be arrogant, but don't be too hard on yourself either. Try to write everyday. Keep healthy.

And finally, is there anything else you'd like to share?

Just how grateful and happy I am that you chose to read Wind Follower. And that I'm happy to be a published author. Just how happy I am to be loved by God and Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Hey, I had to put that in. I owe God more than I can ever say or describe.


Further email conversations led to another question: I understand that your husband is an artist. What's it like having an artist and writer together in the same house?

Yes, the beloved is an artist. Luke McDonnell www.lukemcdonnell.com He's a graphic artist, cartoonist, illustrator, and comic book artist. His paintings and drawings hang all over the house. He works for Yoe studios www.yoe.comHe also used to work for DC and Marvel. He did Iron Man, Spiderman, Suicide Squad, a whole bunch of stuff. If you do a google search for him, you'll see he's pretty respected. And it's quite good being married to an artist. Artists understand each other. He doesn't expect me to be a perfect housewife for instance. If I totally forget to cook dinner for a week or so because I'm in the throes of creativity, the world won't end. And if we starve for a couple of years, that's okay by me also. As I said, we understand each other. If I had married a regular person who expected a typical wife, I'd have been in super-trouble, i think. We've been pretty happy together. However, when we first married he was an atheist, a son of Irish Roman-Catholic atheists. It was tough being married to an "unbeliever" for fifteen years. But he finally came on over to the side of light.

Blog: www.carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com

Author page at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Carole-McDonnell/e/B0034Q3BWG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Page at Barnes and Noble online:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/carole-mcdonnell

Examiner Bible studies:

http://www.examiner.com/bible-verse-of-the-day-in-new-york/carole-mcdonnell

Wattpad:

http://www.wattpad.com/user/CaroleMcDonnell