I have been overwhelmed by the positive response for my short story, The Ivory Tower. It seems that a lot of people want to know more about Simone and her world at camp. Who am I to deny a story that has been waiting to be written... so as soon as I have finished Dreamscape: Saving Alex, I will start Pale Bricks (working title for now), a full length novel surrounding Simone.
In anticipation, I thought I would offer The Ivory Tower as a FREE story for one more day. Grab it today, Friday the 7th while you can. Get the first glimpse of what the new book will be about and why I am so excited.
I won't give away many details now, but I guarantee that there will be moments of heartbreaking sadness, overwhelming grief, intermixed with glimmers of hope. Not all stories have a happy ending, but I will see what I can do to bring a satisfying closure to this story and this dark world that Simone lives in.
This is a picture from the Waitamo Caves in New Zealand, home of real glow worms. Not the cute toy from your childhood, but real, actual glow worms.
I was in 4th grade when we traveled here, and I can vividly remember our black water rafting trip through these caves. The water was freezing cold, even through the wet suit, the caves were dark, and the glow worms were amazing. It was a moment of wonder that even in 4th grade I recognized as something special.
So, take a moment to let your mind wander. See where this creative inspiration takes you.
Think it... Dream it... Write it...
I have to admit, I recently went on a binge. Yes, you know what I am talking about, when you over obsess and spend your time and energy on one activity... It can be done with drinking, eating, watching tv and movies (thanks netflix), and in this case - reading. This is when you pick up one book with the idea to read only one chapter, then two more, until finally you find yourself up way too late to find out how it ends, or in my case, stay up all night to read the entire trilogy ;)
I will readily admit that when it comes to books, I have a rough time putting them down- especially when they are good ones. The Station Series by Trish Marie Dawson is the most recent focus of my obsessive reading.
The Station Series
Dying to Forget takes you on a ride you will not easily forget. You know that little voice in your head, guiding you in the right direction? Do you listen to it? Not everyone does , but after reading this book, you may listen a bit more...
This is a story built around strong characters and serious situations, mainly suicide. Due to that, I would recommend this series for YA and older. Dawson impressed me with the way she handled the seriousness of the actions with consequences and options. The issues were handled seriously, in a comfortable and no-nonsense manner.
Piper Willow is a strong character, driven by her strong will, heart, and intelligence. She is quick thinking, and has a way of connecting with others. She is a protagonist that you route for as she discovers the ins and outs of the station.
The book moves quickly and the writing is effortless. But if the book itself doesn't get you, the ending will. Wow... All I can say is that's was glad I already had the next in the series because I started it right after.
Dying to Remember picks up where the first leaves off. There is no recap, and is a continuation rather than a separate story. Which was nice. The first story is free, so there's no reason to pick it up and read first... (links are at the bottom)
That said, I loved it. This book moved fluidly, with satisfaction in the character development, new twists and turns and deeper philosophical undertones. And again, the ending had me...
Dawson creates just the right amount of story closure and bittersweet longing for the next.
Dying to Return takes you on a new adventure, with a new set of dynamic characters and philosophies. I'll be honest... I wasn't sure where the series was going when she introduced the character of Rush, but I heartily approve.
This is a series that I highly recommend. The stories are original and dynamic, with characters that truly become your friends. This is a series that you can read over and over, and find the same enjoyment, escapism, and entertainment.
5 Stars for all three
My favorite new way to start the week... a teaser from one of my stories. Stay tuned for an exclusive look into my new YA Fantasy, Dreamscape: Saving Alex. But, until then, enjoy a piece from my original fairy tale, The Escape of Princess Madeline.
King Theodore jumped from his bed. Beads of sweat slid down his temples, as his heart threatened to beat out of his chest. Howling wind forced its way into the king’s chamber, extinguishing the dim candlelight.
Braving the cool stones of the castle floor, he walked to the windows at the far end of his chamber, where a soft tendril of smoke danced above the blown-out candles. Relighting them, he watched the soft orange flames flicker in the wind.
Now awake, he leaned over the windowsill, peering into the courtyard below. Nothing stirred in the darkness. Small flecks of glittering light reflected off the garden’s fountains. Around it, dark cobblestones curved and disappeared into the growing shadows.
Looking past the courtyard, beyond the castle walls towards the eastern mountains, he watched the rolling hills disappear under a wave of fog. He let out a great sigh, wishing memories could fade the same way.
King Theodore wrapped his velvet robe tighter as the wind blew against his face. As his eyes sought clarity from the outside, his mind wandered back to the nightmare that plagued him. Every year on the eve of his children’s birthday, King Theodore relived the same dream.
The warm summer breeze and the horn’s song greeted him as he stood at the window. A line of royal visitors and merchants lined the rolling hillsides on their journey to Soron. In anticipation of the summer tournaments and royal births, attendance doubled, bursting the seams of the small kingdom. Peering into the courtyard below, he watched the frenzy with a smile. Under colorful banners, people ran back and forth, carrying bundles of fabric, bouquets of wildflowers, and piles of farm produce. The smells of freshly-baked breads and pastries wafted up, mixing with the spicy blend of the wizard’s incense.
A soft tap on the shoulder brought him back to the room.
“My King,” the wizard Elias whispered. “There’s nothing more we can do for her. The queen has passed beyond the grasping hands of our magic.” King Theodore’s heart dropped. The room filled with sage and sandalwood spun as he looked at the group of wizards surrounding the bed. Stumbling forward, he dropped to his knees, cradling Eleanor’s pale hand in his.
“My life, my love, I am lost without you!” The king wept, burying his tear-stained face in his hands.
“We knew this day was coming, my lord,” Elias said, sharing a look of concern with the other wizards. “The mirror warned that a sacrifice was necessary to protect and save the kingdom. She died for you. Giving her life to bring you these wonderful children and save…” Elias stopped, as his eyes connected with the kings.
The tears froze on King Theodore’s face. His jaw clenched at the wizard’s words. “She did this for me?” the king bellowed, heat rising in his cheeks. “She sacrificed herself and left me alone for my benefit? How dare you! This was not a sacrifice she needed to make!”
King Theodore stood, and looked the older wizard in the eyes. His face deepened in anger until it matched the red in his velvet robe. “Hear my words, great wizard. This will not go unpunished.”
Waving his arms abruptly, he ushered them out, shutting the door in haste behind them. He approached the queen. His body shook as new tears rolled down. He wept quietly until the golden light from the windows faded. Standing quietly, his fingers lingered on the Eleanor’s silk gown.
The morning sun rose over the horizon, streaking the countryside with an orange and red wave. King Theodore did not notice this beauty—or any beauty. Sitting calmly in his throne, he watched as the room slowly filled. His face, like stone, refused to give way, noticing but not reacting to the growing crowd, or their sympathies.
With weary eyes, and a tight jaw, he looked over the room. Faces painted with anticipation, fear, and curiosity stared back at him. No one had expected him this morning. He barked an order to the nearby steward, breaking the silence.
The steward’s eyes bulged as King Theodore delivered his message. With a curt nod of approval, the steward lifted his horn to his lips, announcing the royal decree.
The horn echoed off the stained glass windows crowning the throne room. The gathered crowd quieted, looking at the steward expectedly. The knights stood straight against the side wall, and the wizards folded their arms inside their robes.
“By royal decree,” the steward’s voice croaked, “the services of the wizards are no longer needed or approved of in this kingdom.” The uproar of the room overpowered the weak voice. The other wizards leaned in towards their leader, Elias, with questioning looks. Elias refused to break eye contact with the king.
With another nod, the king encouraged the steward to continue. A small smile broke the severity of the king’s face as he heard his orders proclaimed. “By order of treason, you are to be punished with death.” The steward hung his head with the last words.
A shocked gasp ran through the hall. With a wave of his arm, the king directed the knights into position around the unarmed men.
Elias tightened his lips, and kneeled before the throne. “My Lord, please reconsider these actions. It is not our fault. You must know that.”
Every head turned to the king.
King Theodore stood, amplifying his authority. “I thought the proclamation was simple to understand. You said it yourself. That you knew of the tragedy before it happened.” Taking slow steps towards Elias, he continued. “You saw this coming—the death of my wife, your queen—and you did nothing. With all your power and foresight, you did nothing to stop this atrocity. That alone is punishable by death.”
The king hesitated at the depth of grief in Elias’s eyes. “However, you are my beloved’s kinsmen, and so I shall save you. Death may be too extreme, but exile is generous. You are to leave by day’s end. Be warned, if you so as much enter the kingdom, or whisper its name, your protection will be gone and I will not stop my men from killing you.”
King Theodore stormed out, amidst a confused uproar of questions.
The next sound King Theodore heard pulled at his heart. Outside the royal nursery, his hands stayed on the steel handle.
The nurse opened the door, bouncing a baby on each shoulder. “Your Majesty,” she cried exasperated. “The children, they cry for you.”
“No,” he answered, looking down at the woman, “they cry for their mother.”
The wind shrieked through, blowing out the candles once more. King Theodore let the darkness hide his tears.
“My Eleanor, sixteen years have passed, and the children and I still grieve for you as if it were yesterday,” King Theodore quietly cried into the night.
Take a moment to let your mind wander. See where the creative inspiration takes you.
Think it... Dream it... Write it...
About the Book
About the Author
There’s just something about looking at a cardboard box. You know what’s inside, but there’s still that jolt of excitement, energy that licks your nerve endings. Maybe it’s just the anticipation, I don’t know, but I definitely felt something. It could be that this was the last box I needed to account for. All the others, my boxes of books, movies, and knickknacks were checked out and were okay. This…this was the box that mattered the most.
The box was in front of me on the bed. I’d carried it into the house myself, not trusting the moving guys to carry it up our new, wicked-cool, wooden staircase. The new house was split between two levels with a landing in the middle that held a beautiful stained glass window. Last thing I needed was for the guy to trip, my box go flying through the air, and taking out that window. So, to eliminate that possibility, I’d carried the box up myself.
The last time I’d seen it was when I handed it to the moving guy. I’d carefully explained to the guy that this was a box to be careful with. Did he heed my warning? Probably not. It’s not like you can really expect anyone to be careful with your stuff except you. At 5’ 6”, I don’t exactly look fierce or anything.
I remembered wrapping everything in it in bubble wrap, taping up the box. I really wanted to carry it to Boston myself, but we were going by plane, and there just wasn’t enough room. I had to hope for a miracle.
So, I did the best I could and I hoped that it wouldn’t come open in transit. I’d even written, “Fragile” and “This Side Up” on the sides with a permanent marker. Now, if they paid attention, which I kind of doubted, nothing should be damaged. If my equipment was broken, I would not be happy. Granted, Dad would probably replace anything that was broken, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Memories rushed forward, pushing everything aside. I remembered Florida. I remembered the heat and the bugs. I thought I’d never miss it, but apparently, I did. No more exotic plants to watch out for, no more lizards poking around in the grass of the backyard. It felt dark here, like an expanse of nothingness that I couldn’t cross no matter how hard I tried to walk across the fog. I felt frozen and sedentary.
If the electronics were broken, the new stuff wouldn’t be from Florida, wouldn’t have been in ghost hunts with my friends. We’d called ourselves “The Ghost Chicks.” We’d run around Tallahassee trying to get people let us into their homes so we could investigate possible hauntings; no one ever really let us. Mostly, we’d gotten a lot of pictures of dust. I was really going to miss it.
I stared out the window. It was sunny and looked entirely too chipper. I didn’t feel chipper. I felt scared and uneasy. The unknown was something I dreaded, and this was a huge honking unknown. I opened the box with a pair of scissors and set them down on the bed. It was time. There was no sense in putting it off any longer. I had to do it.
After taking one last deep breath, I popped the cardboard flaps away from the tape and looked inside. Everything had shifted around. I reached inside, pulling out newspaper. At least nothing was missing, now if all of it worked…
Of course the heat might mess with the equipment too. I’m sure I had to be more careful about that in Florida than Boston, but still, it was hot. I wiped the sweat off my brow. The air conditioning wasn’t on high enough. Mom got too cold if the air was on too high. But then, Mom wore sweaters when it was seventy-five degrees. Mom was always cold.
Who knew it would be this hot is Boston?
Connect with Danielle
I recently had the pleasure of reading Inito, which is the second in the Irador series. This is a fantastic fantasy sereis with characters, great adventure, and sweet romance. I read the first book, Lunula over the summer and enjoyed it. You can read that review here. Once I finished, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the seqeul... and when I did, it was hard to put down. Here are my thoughts on Inito.
This is a delightful sequel to Lunula. I LOVED Lunula and was anxiously awaiting this release... and I was not disappointed. There was so much to love about this book.
Auch's writing is a great combination between description and action. While reading the story, it was easy to fall into Wynn's character and struggle with her. And struggle she did. Although she always had her faithful love beside her, she faced many more obstacles and hurdles than before, and many that I did not expect or anticipate.
Once again, the characters were written perfectly. I personally loved how this book showed more vulnerability in Wynn, and focused more on combining skills and strengths to defeat an enemy. I also appreciated how her love in Gethin only grew stronger. It was refreshing to see two characters have a relationship that was strengthened by their challenges rather than pulled apart.
The only slightly negative, and the reason this dropped form a 5 to 4.5 was that I did feel the ending was rushed. We went from the beginning of a war, to the end in less than 2 chapters... But, it did not take away from my overall enjoyment or recommendation of this story. Maybe because racing through the war only brought me to the *perfect* ending so much quicker. ***the epilogue really pulled everything together and made me smile.
I can't wait to read more form this talented author. Solid 4.5 stars for this book.
Speaking of, you can find out more about Alyssa Auch here:
And you can buy your copy on Amazon for only $0.99.
Simone jumped down, half expecting to be ambushed. Nothing happened. She tilted her head, questioning the silence. “Christine?” she asked, poking her from behind.
Christine slowly twisted around, her blue eyes wide in terror.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Simone creaked.
Christine’s jaw trembled. Pushing herself up, she pointed into the woods.
Nothing seemed odd. She took a quick inventory of her surroundings- the grayish brown bark of the old cedar trees, spindly trunks of the maples, bright berries, and a white trunk. Her eyes immediately jumped back to the white. They didn’t have birch trees in their forest.
She looked up slowly, following the white trunk until the details grew, and the recognition unfurled. “The ivory tower,” she breathed.
“We have to go,” Christine whispered behind her.
Now it was her turn to freeze. She barely felt the insistent tugging on her shirt.
She had never been this close to the edge before. They had run this small stretch of woods in the back of the camp for years, but never ventured to the outer boundaries. She focused on the barbed wire camouflaged into the stacked brambles and woody debris. Rust and moss grew around the sharp teeth of the corroded metal. And beyond it, what she’d taken for a white trunk revealed itself as the brick base of a tower.
The skillful, tidy stacks of bricks had worn over the years. White paint flecked off the sides. The dilapidated mortar left exposed gaps and piles at the base. At the top, the tower widened. A row of shattered windows looked out behind them, toward the camp. Squinting, Simone glimpsed writing on the dangling threshold marker. The soft charcoal letters described the tower with one word.
“Restricted,” she whispered, her breath clouding the air. Christine’s cold fingers pulled her hand from behind.
“This isn’t safe. We shouldn’t be this close to the edge.” Christine’s words fell on deaf ears.
She tugged again, drawing Simone away from their discovery. Twisting around, she brushed her bangs out of her eyes, searing the image into her mind.
A new sensation gripped her, a curious blend between fear and curiosity. Simone smiled, liking the way it felt.
-The Ivory Tower 2013