Sneak Peek 3 When A Kingdom Calls

There are still a lot of changes in this book as I am sketching out some details, this first chapter is likely to change actually quite a bit but I can’t resist sharing it with you. Harper is for sure one of my new favorite characters.

H
arper sat in the bouncing carriage, trying to smooth out a wrinkle that has just appeared in her dress without much success. Then opening the small bag, she carried she pulled out the small mirror that her grandfather had given to her for her sixteenth birthday a month before. She smoothed back her hair and checked her complexion and smiled at herself, before tucking it away carefully, wishing she could see the generous grandfather whom she only knew through her mother’s stories.
I do wish I could fly. The carriage couldn’t go any faster, it would completely bounce her out of the seat, and she would be late to Lady Eugenia’s tea by about ten minutes. Acceptable, but barely, by Elusian standards who arrived usually half an hour before you truly wanted them to arrive. Then they would stand about lingering and gossiping about whatever until the appointed time…no. She was going to be very late.
If the sword master would ever just listen to me. I—he….Harper sighed again. She had loved swords and sword fighting as long as she could remember. The first time she had taken up the sword was at Lady Felecia’s birthday party when some rascal lord’s son had played a nasty trick on the birthday girl, and all of the girls had ran away screaming in complete terror. She had instantly taken the sword from an unsuspecting by standing lad and had smacked the most offending boy square across the head, causing him to howl.
Everyone had told her mother that she should be soundly scolded and severely punished for such an outrageous act by a girl. Instantly, she had been taken home without a slice of cake or single chocolate bonbon that had been promised in the throwing of candy.
Her mother’s silence during the long carriage ride made Harper terrified of what might happen at home. At last they arrived, and she followed her silent mother to the armory. Where her mother turned slowly around and then smiled softly.
“How did you know to hit him on the head?”
This question baffled Harper for a long moment. “I just did,” she answered at last, seeing her mother truly expected an answer.
Slowly her mother nodded. “Instinct perhaps? The first move that any student of the sword learns is to hit someone on the head and hit them well. Though I hope you don’t use that way to settle most of your arguments in the future…Harper, why didn’t you run away when the rest of the girls did?”
“It was wrong, and something must be done about it.”
Her mother’s smile widened, “You certainly have the blood of Falway in your veins. Tell me, would you like to learn how to fight with a sword?”
Harper couldn’t find the words to answer. This was far from what she was expecting in a punishment from her mother.
“You see Harper, I was your age when I began my sword lessons, every girl in Falway has at least basic lessons and I believe you are ready, if you want them.”
“Truly?”
“Yes,” said her mother sweetly.
“I want them! I want to learn how to use a sword.”
“Good, but Harper, don’t use your sword on every boy, all right?”
Harper nodded.
And so it had begun, nearly ten years ago, she had learned the use of the blade beneath her mother’s tutelage until the accident that and still the sword master never took her lessons seriously and went on and on talking about swords and the art of fighting instead of actually showing and practicing.
At last the carriage stopped
The door opened and Harper was ushered in and announced by the footman.
“I am glad you joined us at last,” said Eugenia standing up and giving a slight curtsy in way of greeting. “Please allow me to introduce the rest of our party, her highness the crown Princess Raine, and her younger sister Princess Elaine, and as you well know Lady Felicia, Lady Gloria, and Lady Celeste”
Harper felt a warm glow of embarrassment flushing into her cheeks as she dropped a low curtsy towards the princesses. “It is a privilege to be here, I apologize for my tardiness.”
The familiar haughty laugh of Gloria broke the brief silence. “I knew you would be late, what kept you this time? Your sword lessons again?”
Harper stayed in her curtsy, it was customary for a word of a ruler to release one from the position of reverence.
“You swordfight?” asked an elegant voice, who Harper couldn’t place.It must be her highness. Harper slowly rose and looked in the princess’ direction and answered as the bright spots on her cheeks grew brighter. “Indeed, I do. I find it a healthy pastime.”
“I wish I could sword fight, it looks dreadfully fun,” put in Princess Elaine.
Her older sister looked at her with skepticism. “Do you? I do believe you doing it, would be entertaining.”
Princess Elaine made a face that she didn’t appreciate her sister’s tone of voice.
Eugenia quickly changed the subject to the ever unawkward and thankfully unobjectable topic of the weather.
After tea, they walked through the extensive gardens of Lady Eugenia’s family grounds.
As the girls walked briskly Harper had no trouble keeping up but she noticed how Princess Elaine lingered behind, and as naturally as possible paused to examine the buds of a blooming flower and waited for Princess Elaine to catch up.
“What are looking at?”
Harper looked over her shoulder and smiled. “I think this flower is rather lovely, the shade of pink is just perfection. What do you think of it?”
“It’s a simpler rose than most,” observed the princess. “But the color is very lovely.”
“I love how it’s elegant but still dainty, and yet when it fully blooms you see its origins of the wild rose.”
Princess Elaine nodded and stepped closer to examine the flower, and carefully plucked one from the thorny stem.
“Shall we walk together? It seems we have fallen behind them a little,” suggested Harper.
“I don’t mind that we have fallen behind them, if you don’t. But we should follow lest they think we’ve completely disappeared from the earth,” said Princess Elaine turning towards the path again.
“Indeed, your highness I don’t mind at all,” said Harper falling a step behind Princess Elaine.
“They do babble a lot, don’t they?”
“They do, like birds, lovely and chattering”
Princess Elaine pressed her lips together tightly, words seemed on the tip of her tongue as she opened and then shut her mouth, then opened then closed her mouth with sigh.
“Is something on your mind your highness?”
“Hmm?” asked Princess Elaine with a backward glance.
“You seem as if there might be something…you might want to say?”
“Indeed, I am just wondering, curious…do people confide in you often?”
“A few, my mother, Eugenia, some of the servants, why your highness?”
Princess Elaine continued walking with a slight nod.
Harper watched as she walked slowly behind her. Wondering if she should bridge the silence between them as the young Princess seemed deep in meditation.
Princess Elaine halted abruptly. “Do you believe in the Bible?”
“Indeed, I do.”
“That is a comfort,” she answered and continued forward. “Do you think, that things that happened in the Bible still happen today?”
“What are you asking?”
“Like miracles, prophesies, and dreams and such?”
Harper thought for a moment. “I suppose, I’ve never given much thought to it I guess. I’ve learned about it the Bible, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across it in real life.”
“But do you think it could happen?”
“I don’t see why not.”
Princess Elaine nodded solemnly.
“Is something troubling you, your highness?”
“Just musing, I’ve been considering going into the convent you know.”
“I did not know.”
Princess Elaine laughed, Harper noticed the forced merry notes in her voice. “It is perhaps not common knowledge, but it is something I have considered.”
“And what about the holy life attracts you your highness? Do you have a fervor to serve our Lord?”
The princess smiled with a slight forcedness, “With my sister being the future, queen, I have very little taste for politics. Indeed, I should like to find a secluded life where I would not be a burden to anyone. I think being a nun, and serving the poor and needy might be a wise idea. In marriage, I would have little say, and very little power.”
“Do you wish for power?”
“No, I wish for none and I think perhaps the life of the nun would be the best way for me to ensure that I would lose none and yet gain none.”
“Very well thought your highness.”
“I am glad you agree with me. You’re a very comforting sort of person. Has anyone told you that before?”
“No, I don’t believe they have.”
“Well, you are. I hope we shall have opportunities to talk more in the future. But See, the other girls are beckoning for us to catch up. We should do so.”
Harper and Princess Elaine quickened their pace and soon arrived at the side of Princess Raine, and Ladies Euginia, Gloria, Celeste and Felicia.
“What were the two of you talking about?” questioned Princess Raine.
“The future and its unknowns and the church,” answered Princess Elaine.
Princess Raine gave her a pointed look that was looking for answers, and Harper understood the words of Princess Elaine more thoroughly. There was nothing comforting nor warm about Princess Raine, her manners were cold and austere. She smiled as she responded “Exactly so your highness. The future, and the Bible two subjects all young ladies should be concerned with.”
“Indeed so,” abruptly said Princess Raine, making a slight face before turning once again and continuing their walk, in silence.
Harper glanced down at Princess Elaine, who looked up to her with a hopeful smile. At last they returned to the house.
“Thank you for the lovely afternoon Eugenia, my sister and I had a lovely time, I am afraid it is time for us to return to the castle.”
“Thank you, your highnesses for being so gracious as to join me today. Know you are welcome at any time,” said Eugenia with a curtsy.
“Thank you,” smiled Princess Elaine and then turning to Harper she took her hand. “Thank you, we must talk again sometime.”
“Yes, I am available at any time your highness.”
Princess Elaine only smiled in response and followed her sister out of the door.
“Well, I must go it seems,” said Lady Gloria with a long sigh. “My mother has ordered the dress maker. With Princess Raine’s official coronation and engagement search commencing.”
Lady Felicia and Celeste also left in short order.
Eugunia grabbed her hand. “Please tell me you’re not running away too? I would like your company it’s been so long since we’ve chatted.”
“Nothing pressing as a dress maker or affairs of state and I left orders with the housekeeper before I left so I can stay.”
“How is your mother?”
“Doing well as expected. It’s been four years now since she’s been able to walk. It seems as if part of her has wasted away, but not her spirit. So that is good for all of us. She does what she can, and I fill in the rest.”
“You grew up faster than the rest of us I think. What were you and Princess Elaine talking about?”
“I am not exactly sure, she had some interesting questions, about the bible and then the future. She seems troubled.”
“Rumor has it that Princess Raine is very superstitious and anxious about coming to the throne. You know in so many other countries she’d be passed over and be sent away overseas to be married. I think she fears that someone will try and upset everything. You know she refused a letter of marriage from overseas. The King of Athena wanted to marry her, but of course neither of them could leave their thrones so she refused him. What a strange creature those people of Athena.”
“Athena! That barbaric country?” asked Harper surprised “I’ve heard the court is very sophisticated, but their war tactics are barbaric.”
“I’ve heard they even have a live show arena…were they go to watch people get killed!”
“I hear they only do it for criminals.”
“I would hate to be a criminal in that country, you stole a loaf of bread, we’ll feed you to a lion.”
“I don’t think they would be the cruel. How could people bear to go watch such a thing?”
“Barbarians.”
“I can’t quite believe it. You know how people tell stories.”
“I’ve heard tell of stories of their people and brutality. They are noble fighters I’ve heard tell.”
“Speaking of fighting,” said Eugenia. “Don’t you think perhaps it’s time you give you your sword fighting?”
“Why?”
“We are of age to be…considered women. And, most men…”
“Are you afraid men won’t find me desirable?”
“I don’t know, it’s just so strange for a girl, you know what I mean?”
“Perhaps but is the custom of my mother’s people.”
“But you are not in your mother’s land, and if you gave it up, it would give one less thing to Lady Gloria to prickle about, she can be such a nosy annoying gossip sometimes.”
“You want me to give it up because it nettles Lady Gloria?”
“I don’t know. If it were to have a purpose…but you’ll never need it. That is what husbands are for, unless you plan on being spinster.”
“No, I don’t wish to be a spinster.”
“Then consider giving it up?”
“Why?”
“Because I care about you, and the other girls talk about you so badly behind your back. I try to stand up for you but…”
“Do I make it difficult for you?”
“It’s just you are so lovely and accomplished, you could have so much influence but because your swordfight no one listens to you. You could do so many things, I just think it’s holding you back. Couldn’t you just be content with archery? We all do it as a pastime, but swords, they are just so…masculine.”
“Does my sword fighting make it truly awkward for you?”
“No, yes…I don’t know. We are the oldest and dearest of friends, I have always thought the sport was admirable in you, but we are nearly grown up, and is it not a bit of a childish thing? You’ve been fighting since you were eight.”
“But it is the tradition of my mother’s people…and for some reason I am very loathe to give it up.”
“Somehow I knew that would be your answer. Do you want to do some more shooting? I think I need to hit a few more targets before I get what Lady Gloria said out of my head.”
“I’d like that, I tell you though, sword fighting would be a better pastime for venting.”
“I’ll just take your word for that,” said Eugenia “Now come, let’s shoot some arrows.”
Harper lingered visiting with Lady Eugenia until it was nearly dinner, then went home and ate around the dinner table with her brothers and father, but she missed her mother’s presence.
It was twilight when she brought some of the flowers fresh from the garden to her mother’s room
“How are you my daughter? Ah! Those are lovely.”
“I am doing well,” she said sitting on the edge of her mother’s bed and laying the flowers across her mother’s lap.
“How was your afternoon.”
“Fair enough. Lady Eugenia is always kind and wonderful, but you know…some girls aren’t so nice. But I met the Princesses today.”
“Did you now? How were they?”
“I rather liked the young princess.”
“And the one to be queen?”
Harper made a face. “I suppose she’ll make a good queen. I mean…we could do worse. Perhaps it’s only the burden on her shoulders that makes her cold and distant. But the tea was lovely, Eugenia and I had a shooting competition, Eugenia won of course,”
“That is good to hear. But what is troubling you.”
“Troubling me?”
“Yes, it’s written all over your face.”
“Truly?”
“Yes, does it have to do with your sword lessons?”
“How do you know?”
“It seems you fret over it frequently, especially after a gathering like this. Do you want to give it up my darling?”
“Give it up? No…it’s just I wish…I wish the other girls would understand and not mock me for it. That and he sword master doesn’t seem too keen on his new pupil. and my brothers won’t duel with me for practice. I feel as if I am failing it all.
“Harper, are you proud of being able to use a sword?”
Harper pinched her lips together. “I think I would be prouder of it, if other girls did it, and if…I didn’t feel so odd. I love sword fighting, everything feels so lovely and right sometimes, but…”
“But what?”
Harper was silent for a long time. “It’s so different mother.”
Her mother smiled, “I understand. You want to fit in, but you also want to do what you love…and they are in conflict. Is that right?”
Harper nodded. “Life is full of choices like this my darling. I think you are learning this young. You are swimming upstream, and while all your other friends, lovely and sweet as they are, or are not, you can’t share this part of yourself with them. It makes you feel foreign, and different, and you already feel that way, because I am your mother. A woman born a merchant’s daughter, who fell in love with an Elusian noble. Some of the noble girls are very rude, right?”
Tears came to Harper’s eyes. Some of the things they had called her once upon a time. Half-blood, Merchant Maid, foreign freak, Lady money. They always had made her so angry, but her mother had told her time, and time again she could not reply to such mean children, even though she had a few names she would like to have called them if had been given the chance.
“People can be very mean sometimes, and it can be extraordinarily hard when you wish to be friends.”
“Was it hard for you mother?”
“I had it easier, you see all the girls in Falway received at least basic sword lessons.”
“Sometimes I wish to go to Falway. All the stories and books I’ve read about Falway. I think I would love it.”
Her mother smiled. “I wish you could go. The water is so blue, the mountains so tall and all the shades of green and blue and grey, capped with white snow, even in summer. It’s beautiful.”
There was a long silence as both mother and daughter thought over what they had been discussing.
“Be strong and courageous, and the Lord shall strengthen thy heart.”
“Do you really think I can be?”
“I think you already are. But there is still much to learn to grow to gather, your whole life long my dearest. Your mother loves you very much, I wish I could shelter you from all of this…but…”
“For a flower to grow it must drink from the storms of life and learn to use the heat to nourish and sustain itself even when the sun is cruel.”
Her mother smiled. “Yes, my darling. You’ve heard me say it often enough I see.”
“I grew up under your care.”
“And now you are blooming, you are a lovely young woman, and I am very proud of you. Time will be too soon for you to wed and run your own household. I wish I could have been more of a mother to you these past few years, but still you flourish.”
“You are everything and more that a daughter could wish for.”
“I am grateful to hear that.”
They chatted a little longer before her mother felt tired and Harper left her to rest.
With the rest of her evening to fill Harper went to the library and browsed the books. She selected one about animals in foreign countries and her favorite Falway tales book which her grandfather had sent one Christmas.


Sneak Peek 2: She Who Would Be Queen Book One Chapter One

Sneak Peek into She Who Would Be Queen.
This is a fun, yet different story…we’ll see where it takes me, I stopped writing this story for a little while simply because it was getting rather large and unmanageable, however, as I started looking it over, I realized that I might have the making of a trilogy underway.
This also introduces a new country: Corliander.
Book One: She Who Would Be Queen
Book Two: (Title to be determined but something along the lines of Test of Royalty)
Book Three: Janus Maze (Tentative title)

Chapter 1

The whir of the spinning wheels filled the room Laecilia eyed the wool fiber in her hands as it twisted together making the thin yarn that would be dyed and then woven on the looms, or knitted into warm things for the winter.
Glancing up, she saw her mother’s serene face spinning almost without looking as she studied the scripture she had attached to her wheel.
Soon the thump of her father’s loom joined the soft creak and whirl of the wheels with a loud thump, and then a creek as he pressed the pedals to shift the threads, the shuttle made a soft scuttling sound as it whisked over the weaving threads.
The clatter of dishes briskly shoved into the metal basin said that Elisia was upset. Laecilia tried to hide the smile of being released from dish duty and directly back to spinning afternoonfamily meal.
She’d always envied mother’s ability to not have to do dishes, but sit and look so comfortable at the wheel while she spun wool or linen at her wheel. Much to her chagrin,she discovered that sitting at her wheel wasn’t as comfortable nor as easy as her mother had made it look. How her mother could sit there spinning hour after hour without complaining or the cramping feeling in her back and legs made her wonder. But the fact that her spinning was becoming valuable to the family, valuable enough to keep spinning most of the day, made her secretly gleeful.
Somewhere, she was making a difference…and her difference was making a profit for her family to ease things. In a year maybe she could be making enough spun yarn that her mother could spend more time weaving, and she and Elisia would be spinning most of the day.
Then when things slowed down, perhaps she could learn more about weaving…
Or perhaps…in a year or two, she would be going to her own home, and bringing her own spinning wheel into her home and watch her husband weave…unless she married a tailor.
Biting her lower lip, Laecilia focused on her spinning wheel, it wouldn’t be any good if she couldn’t stop day dreaming.
After the King’s Calling, she would be free to marry who she pleased, though it would take several months, possibly years before that happened…but still, it would happen. In the little-whitewashed church, in her very best dress on a Sunday afternoon after church with their family and friends around them.
There I go again! I really must stop daydreaming.
For several moments she focused on the thread that was before her twisting as she put a gentle rhythm to her wheel with her bare foot pressing the pedal back and forth. The wood was smooth beneath her foot, someday it would be smooth and hold the pattern of her foot’s wear as her mothers did.
She was glad to be spinning wool and not flax the flax needed your fingers to be dipped in water to keep it together as it spun along.
Wool, washed and carted was mostly free from oils but it was soft and fluffy. This must be how clouds feel. She nearly laughed at the thought of their being sky sheep. But really, where did clouds come from? They provided fleeting shade, produced rain and lightning and thunder. It almost seems as if they are made of water…but how could water produce fire and thunder?
Her mind wandered away from subjects that she could not solve back to the thrumming thought of the King’s Call.
The King’s Call is tomorrow…in some ways, it wouldn’t be so much different from a wedding. I’ll put on my best dress, it will be a holiday, Charisa and I will put flowers in each other’s hair, and we’ll go to town and sit in the large assembly with all of the other girls our age in the province. All who will be free to marry whom they please after tomorrow…
“Laecilia,” her mother’s voice broke into her reverie and she jumped slightly, pulling too suddenly on the fiber of the yarn she was creating, it snapped. “Laecilia, your wheel was going too fast.”
“I am sorrymother, I was distracted.”
“You seem very distracted today,” said her mother as her wheel continued to move steadily on. “Are you thinking about tomorrow?”
“I am afraid so, it’s going to make a lovely holiday I think,” she answered rubbing the fibers of the broken end of her yarn to her bit of unspun wool trying to fuse them together.
“Don’t keep any hopes, it’s all rigged you know. People with money, pay for their daughters to get positions in the King’s Call. Besides, you know that isn’t the kind of life we’d want for you. The palace…” her mother’s voice trailed off trying not to say things that weren’t good for young ears…and the rumors she probably shouldn’t have heard.
Laecilia nodded. “I know, I don’t want to be in the King’s calling. But it will be fun just the same, all of the pomp and pretty things, and it will be fun to be with Charisa for a day. It will be like we are little children again.”
Her mother’s mouth moved somehow suggesting that she was still a child, and Laecilia fidgeted uncomfortably. She knew she was still young, but something inside of her hoped that she was growing up, that she was coming into her own, that she could please her family.
“Well, perhaps until instead of focusing on that and breaking your yarn, you could meditate on your verse?”
Laecilia tried not to chafe under the words. Meditation on scripture was all good and right, but it didn’t keep pace with her thoughts—though perhaps it did keep pace with her spinning wheel. Trying to tuck away her thoughts Laecilia tried to focus on the verses that her mother had copied out and placed on the wall beside her spinning wheel. They were words from the prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel.
Laecilia chose verse three, “Perfect peace….perfect peace…I need perfect peace. I will have perfect peace if I focus on Him.
Her thoughts started to formulate more quietly, but even as she said her verse over and over and over again, they still bounced with thoughts of tomorrow.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace—there will be all kinds of people to see tomorrow. Whose mind is stayed on thee—I wonder if any of the prince’s will come? Because he trusteth in thee—I am glad the King’s calling is on Saturday, it means I can talk with Charisa about it after church on Sunday. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace—I wonder what the girls who are chosen feel like. Whose mind is stayed on thee—Do they know before hand? Because he trusethin thee—or are they surprised like everyone else, except for the officials?
The spinning hours had ceased, the light in the windows had faded, it would be too dark to spin good wool, at least for her—who still relied much on eyesight to spin well. Her mother could easily spin—Laecilia though probably even in her sleep.
Tucking away her wheel, and setting things in order she started to help Elisia with dinner preparation. Steam was fairly rolling out of her ears.
“Was it a hard day for you?” Laecilia asked quietly.
“You have it so easy sitting primly at your spinning wheel. It’s not fair!” Elisia whispered. “You get to go to the King’s calling, and you get to spin…meanwhile,I have to mind babies and make meals.”
Laecilia wanted to put in that she had bided her time, and that being two years Elisia’ssenior she had earned the ability to sit at a spinning wheel, and that it wasn’t all easy prim work, but the look in Elisia’seyes—she knew that isn’t what she needed to hear. Elisia had just missed the King’s calling day by two weeks, the date was decided by the birth of the youngest “prince”. The cutoff date was two years after the prince’s birthday. Like her—it wasn’t that she wanted to be chosen, but she’d never have the opportunity to go to a King’s calling. To see the grand ceremony and the only glimpse into royal life that people of their station were allowed.
“I am sorry Elisia.”
Elisia looked up wondering if she meant it.
“I’ll do my best to try and remember everything so I can tell you tomorrow night. I wish you were coming…it would be fun if you were coming along.” And she meant it. As much as it would be fun to have Charisa by her side—she realized she’d miss having Elisia there too. Elisia who had always tagged along with them everywhere…she had always been a tagalong but she had always been there and a part of her life, and the sudden realization she had stepped over a threshold that Elisia hasn’t been able to step over as well struck her. It was staggering.
A small smiled crept onto Elisia’s face.
“Soon you’ll have your own spinning wheel and we can spin together.”
“If you don’t get married soon.”
Laecilia smiled. “I am probably a little ways from that yet.”
Elisia’s nose wrinkled. “Haven’t you noticed the way Peter has been looking at you.”
A soft blush crept up her neck and into her cheeks…she had just credited those few glances to her active imagination…but if Elisia had noted them.
Elisia giggled slightly and whispered. “I am not blind.”
“Oh, be quiet,” Laecilia buffeted.
Elisia smiled like an amused cat, and Laecilia had to refrain from tapping Elisia on the head with the spoon in her hand.
“Lia, will you really tell me about tomorrow?”
“Every detail I can remember, and I’ll do my best to bring you something home if I can.”
Elisia’s smile was more than reward enough.
I have to think of others more—Elisia…is nota child anymore and neither am I. It’s not her fault she was born two years and two weeks after the last prince…insipid prince was born too early.
Dinner preparations moved more smoothly than they had in weeks, and Laecilia smiled. She really was growing up.

Sisters Giveaway

There is nothing like sisters.

I prayed for mine for quite a few years, and God gave me a golden baby sister who through the ups and downs of the years has grown to become one of my dearest friends.

My sister and I enjoy westerns, horses and the good adventure that can be found in tales from Little House on the Prarie, the Lone Ranger, Zorro and alike, so when my sister found these delightful books by Susan K. Marlow, she shared all of the grand adventures she had with Andi Carter, and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey along the way.
So in this giveaway, I want to feature one of my sister’s favorite authors. I feel like I’ve read almost all of her books as my sister shared all of Andi’s adventures with me as she has read them. 
This past spring when I met Susan K. Marlow in person, I thought it would be fun to pair one of my sister’s favorite books with one of my own for some good classic sister adventure and reading time.
In this giveaway, we have two book sleeves, two books and two necklaces that each define a little bit of who Andi (Susan K. Marlow’s character) and Grace (my character) are.
So grab your sister (or a friend that is like a sister) and get her to sign up too so you have double entries, saddle up for a good time, drink some lemonade or sasparilla and enter to win. Yeehaw!

Grace Necklace and Booksleeve

Andi Carter Booksleeve and Horse Necklace

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Birthday Giveaway

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

TO YOU ALL
I don’t know when all of your birthdays are…but we can celebrate them all together…with mine.
this year, I am doing something that I have never ever done before. Giveaway a complete set of my books! Yes! A complete signed set of books, with some cool little extras for each of my novels.
If you win, you’ll receive!

Annabeth’s War + Annabeth’s War Charm Bracelet
Captive of Raven Castle + Captive of Raven Charm Bookmark
Sufficient Grace + Mitch’s Deputy Badge
Tracking Ruby + Sophie’s Gun Necklace & Ruby Charm
Waiting for Isaac
Enemy Born

I am so excited to be offering this to you all! I hope you’ll join in the giveaway and share with your friends. (Honestly, you sharing my stories with your friends is what help me in my books survive.)
Also through this Party/Giveaway, I’ll be doing my first #novelmoments contest, as well as sharing pieces from novels that I haven’t published yet. Look two posts down for the first chapter of a tie in novella featuring Eliot from Annabeth’s War!

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Novel Moment Contest #novelmoment

Hello Dearest Readers.

Today, I am flooding the blog with posts and I hope you’ll join me in celebrating my birthday and being an author for nearly 7 years! I can hardly believe how time has flown and all that has happened over these past few years.
However, I wanted to do something new this year (that I hope, will become annual?) We will see what happens.

What is this Novel Moment’s contest?

I don’t know about you, but I love creating moments that I’ve lived through history, books, and movies…and I wanted to give you the opportunity to do the same. This is the time to make YOUR novel moment…taken from the pages of one of my books.

What are Novel moments?
Well, instead of trying to explain maybe I should…
*opens up a deep corner of my heart*
Here I am in Colonial Williamsburg…with one of my historical heroes the Marquis de Lafayette played by an incredible reenactor.
Lafayette and I share the same birthday, so this man went out of the way to make this day extra special for me and of course, the historical figure himself is incredible. This was a real highlight moment for me in my life.

I could go on and on about Colonial Williamsburg, historical dress etc….but that would be beside the point of what I am trying to talk about here.
Here is a “Jane Austen Moment”
If you’ve watched regency and other historical BBC dramas, you might know the urge to at least climb this…
No, you don’t get a picture of me climbing it. I am not a beautiful, gracious Jane Austen heroine, also there was no Capt. Wentworth to catch me…

In London, England, this is a tower where they kept prisoners, the most important one to me was Gilford Dudley husband to Lady Jane Grey my favorite British Queen. If you look in the stone behind the plastic, you can see her name that he carved while in his prision chamber. I sat there for a full minute that morning realizing I was sitting where, I am sure many men have sat prisoners who lost their heads, but specifically Gilford Dudley, and thought about Lady Jane Grey. Looking out the window, I could see what  he could see, the tower, the scaffold they were building where they would kill his wife, where so many other “private” executions were held….

Here are a few of my other favorites moments from England…

Another one of these moments in England was visiting Hartfield’s Ashford Forest, aka the home of Winnie the Pooh! (Also very close to Emma for my fellow Jane Austen Fans). While I am obviously not Christopher Robin, that didn’t stop me from purchasing a large Winnie the Pooh, and walking with him all over Ashford Forest, to take photos.

When I went to Korea, I purchased a Hanbok in theme with one of my favorite outfits from my first Korean drama (which also happened to be my favorite colors), and proceeded to run around South Korea, imitating scenes from dramas, and creating memories that will last a lifetime.
This summer I sat on the banks of Plum Creek where Laura Ingalls used to play. Feeling rather like Mary, as I sat on the banks of Plum Creek, watching my younger sister play, she has brown hair like Laura and I have blonde hair like Mary…I might have also screamed like Nellie Oleson, when I tried to enter the water and some small creature insisted on nibbling at my toes…seriously…it might have been okay if the water hadn’t been so murky, and I could have seen what was going on, but when I’ve moved my foot three times and the same feeling returns. I am a no go, admittedly, it was probably just a small fish, but I really didn’t want to find out.
But, I am digressing sort of, this is why I am holding this contest.
I love creating, capturing, living in little moments like these, and I hoping to afford you the opportunity to create a moment like this for yourself, from my characters and my books.
I am hoping, that there is a scene (or even a book cover,) that you’d like to recreate for yourself, to take a moment and own it.
It doesn’t have to be fancy…you don’t have to travel, or sew up a brand new costume, use your creativity and create with what you have. I don’t care if you borrow your brother’s nerf sword, and a red blanket to recreate an Annabeth scene, or something, like that.
This summer, I took the time to create a “Grace” scene myself…
I was wearing my Anne puffed sleeve shirt, my Laura skirt…and the shawl I wrote Sufficient Grace in. My hair was up in a “teacher bun” with an Asian hair stick through it-because it part of who I am, and I wanted to make it mine…

 So finally after that longwinded bit here are the details.

It’s a photo contest.
1. Please take and submit your photo by September 30th. (Voting will begin October 1st.)
2. Imitate a scene or a cover from any of my novels or short stories. Waiting for Isacc, and A Look in the Mirror are excluded from this contest. (I am also willing to accept partials, maybe a hand and a sword and a quote from the book etc. Make it yours, and see where it will go.)
3. Post it where I can see it, and share it on my blog when it comes time to vote.
4.  Please keep your entries friendly, submissions may be refused at the discretion of the author.

PRIZES
One $10 gift card will be awarded to the winner. They can choose their $10 from one of the following places: Amazon, iTunes, Hobby Lobby, Barnes & Noble, ThriftBooks, Starbucks, or Caribou Coffee.
If we get over 10 entries I will introduce a second-place winner and a $5 dollar gift card.

The Nitty Gritty Details
There must be a minimum of three entries for there to be a giveaway.
Your submissions will be voted on by the general public.
Open Internationally
If you are under 18 you must have your parents permission to enter.
This is not done in affiliation with anything or anyone but my books.

Thank you! I can hardly wait for your submissions!
Blessings,
Jessica Greyson

Sneak Peek 1: To Take a Throne ~ Eliot’s story

I know, we all love Annabeth.
I do too.
However, I knew when I finished that there was another character in the book that wanted to tell his story.
Eliot.
I kind of held a grudge against the man…
I mean can you blame me? (If you’ve read Annabeth’s War, you’ll know what I am talking about.)
He was also super difficult to deal with, so for years I put off telling his story, and then this year, I finally sat down and wrote his story.
It took a few weeks, it’s only a short story, but it tells the final chapters of Eliot, it also gives a brief look at a few of our favorite characters, and is the first book that actually let me into Falway! SERIOUSLY I KNEW THAT COUNTRY WAS AWESOME, but seeing it through Eliot’s eyes was really special.

This book, is actually ready for beta readers after I make a few more changes, then it’s off to the editor, and into your hands.

Also, this book is Eliot, so it’s a little more violent because let’s be honest, that is what Eliot does well….we all know this.

Chapter One

“I can’t believe you’re abandoning me for a pretty maid,” chided Eliot following Ransom to collect his things from the tent.
Ransom laughed lightly. “Just wait for your turn Eliot.”
“What? You think a maid will turn my head? You’ve got the only interesting maid I’ve seen in two or three kingdoms.”
“And she’s mine,” said Ransom with a smile.
“I do think I would have gotten the job done a little faster than you have.”
“Well,” smiled Ransom. “Good thing you didn’t have this job.”
“Really? I was too busy and then I had to come in and clean up your mess as always.”
“My mess? I am not the one who dragged her to that horrible villain and…”
“I see we shall never agree on the whole matter. Perhaps you’re right,” sighed Eliot. “Besides if we keep talking this over you’ll never be ready, and I’d hate to be the reason that Annabeth is kept waiting.”
Ransom smiled, and swinging his pack on his shoulder. “We’ve had a good run, we had each other’s backs and we had plenty of adventures together, but now our paths turn, so until we meet again ol’ friend Godspeed to you and may you find a wife who makes you feel like a king.”
“Is that what Annabeth’ makes you feel like?”
There was no wiping the smile off of Ransom’s face. “Better.”
“Ransom,” it was Annabeth’s voice outside of the tent flap.
“I am coming my love.”
Eliot rolled his eyes. As Ransom left the tent, his arm slipped around Annabeth, dropping a kiss on the face that was upturned to look at him, a blush came to her cheeks—that were still pale from time to time. She had been battered by life, but was now beginning a new one with Ransom to be at her side, to be her protector and love.
In a moment they were gone, and Eliot flopped himself back down on his cot. When one was on a mission sleep wasn’t always the easiest to come by, and there was no knowing when his king would need him again, so he would sleep, eat, and practice with his sword until he was needed again, and right now seemed the perfect time for a nap.
“Eliot sir?” it was the sound of a page at the tent flap—a young page at the sound of it. Eliot sir indeed.
“Yes,” he yawned with a stretch.
“The king has sent for you.”
Rollin to his feet Eliot looked down at the page with a lifted eyebrow, “Yes?”
“Oh?” the page looked up at him in wonder and he held back the corner of his mouth from smiling at the boy’s wide-eyed awe.
“Lead on then,” he commanded.
“Yes!” said the boy leaping into motion and charging in the direction of the King’s tent. He very well could have gone their himself, but a page in training was something to be handled carefully, the boy needed to learn how to take responsibility, and next time it might not be him—but perhaps an overbearing lord or a foreign ambassador he was sent to fetch.
Reaching the King Fredric’s tent, the small page, stopped at the tent flap. “Just a moment if you please, I’ll make sure the king isn’t occupied.”
He nodded and tucked his hand behind his back waiting.
A moment later the boy appeared. “He will see you now.”
Eliot entered the tent and bowed low to his king.
“Eliot, I am sorry to be sending you out again so soon, but I’ve received word that Chambria is in need of help and I am sending you.”
“But we have no treaty with Chambria my king.”
“Not at this moment, but we soon will, it seems that Lord Raburn was in league with the Lord Chancellor of Chambria, and set up a coup. The king and queen were slain, along with their second son, but the heir and his younger sisters escaped to Raven Castle. I cannot send my men to war very easily after bringing them home. However, I am sending you to fetch Princess Regina, my son is in need of a wife and eventually an heir.”
“A marriage alliance, for our fighting men?”
“I wouldn’t interfere but I knew the king of Chambria, and he was nothing but a kind man. The Lord Chancellor is quite a different story. If even half the stories I’ve heard are true. I do not wish for such a neighbor. Power hungry monsters never do anyone any good.”
“At once your majesty?”
“I’ve sent for them to have your horse saddled and ready. I’ll see you at home in less than a week. We’ll give the soldiers a day to toast my son and his new bride and have a force sent across the way. Once it’s put down, they can go home to their families once again. I hate to keep my men fighting more than I have to.”
“At once your majesty.”
“Thank you.”
King Fredric dismissed him with a wave of his hand.
“Oh! The king of Beltera knows what is going on, You of course have full freedom to circle into Belterra on your way to and from Raven Castle—not that we needed it but considering the situation.”
“Thank you, your majesty.”
The king nodded and Eliot stepped out of the tent, the page was standing there holding onto his black horse’s bridle.
“He’s ready sir, provisions and all.”
“Thank you,” said Eliot leaping into the saddle and taking the reins, He nodded the young page and kicked the horse into a loping canter.
Crossing the stream where they had defeated Lord Raburn and his men a few days before,
Speeding across the forest and plains, he at last reached the mountain pass that led up to legendary, Raven Castle.