Big News Times Two, an Update, and a Prologue

Alright, all you beautiful readers out there, I’ve got some big bits of news for you, fit to blow the tail off a whale. Ready?

First up, an exciting new ebook release by the marvelous duo, Emily and Amanda Bradburn. These remarkable young ladies – both wonderful friends of mine whom you may recognize as the antagonists of my character interviews, with their endless questions – have just released the first short story in a series by the name of The Underthieves. This first story, Little Red Robin Hood, explores the life of young Robin Hood and his adventures. Though aimed at a younger crowd, it’s sure to be thrilling for any audience.

Next, the amazing Mirriam Neal has just set the release date for her debut novel, Monster, for June 15th. I’ve had the pleasure of acting as one of her BETA readers on this project, and let me tell you: this book is a ground shaker. It is a beautiful work of heart, and I can’t wait to get my paper and ink copy. It will hold a place of honor upon my bookshelf, even when it’s old and worn thin. I don’t pick favorites when it comes to books, but if I did… this one would be quite high on the list. It inspired my own writing to new heights, and I’m honored to have taken any part in it.

For more information on these releases and a sneak peek at Monster, check out Mirriam’s post about them here.

As for the update promised in the title of this post, I have begun my final round of rewrites, revisions, and edits on the first book in my Breaking Shadows series, Bold. It needs a lot of work still, but I’m very excited with how it’s turning out. I hope to have this finished and published by the end of summer, so keep your eyes open for further announcements here and on the Breaking Shadows Project blog!

And finally, as this is a writing blog, I’ve decided to share with you the prologue to my other work in progress, Outspoken. I do hope you enjoy it.

We’d always known it could happen. We knew the protocols; we’d performed all the drills. But when the time came, we discovered we weren’t ready – not in slightest.

The night was dark, the moon nowhere to be found. There was a chill in the air that not even the numerous blazing fireplaces of the palace could quench. The sharp buzzing of an oncoming storm was heavy on the wind, and everyone could feel the ominous tension of something about to happen. Maybe that’s why we weren’t on guard – we were so preoccupied with our dread of what was coming that we didn’t see it right under our noses. The kingdom had been at peace for so long, we assumed any danger would come from beyond our borders. We never considered it could be lurking within the very palace walls.

I was guarding the prince’s quarters that night. Never one to stand still long, I was at the end of the hall when it began. An ear-splitting scream shook the walls of the royal wing, and guards rushed to the king and queen’s chamber from every direction. Something compelled me to return to the prince – maybe fate, or destiny, or just lucky cowardice – and praise be to Elyon I did. The scream was naught but a decoy. By the time I reached his door a gang of assassins in servants’ clothes was there, ready to enter. They were caught off guard, shocked I hadn’t followed the others. In their split moment of hesitation, I managed to break between them and the door, driving them back. Somehow, I made it inside and threw the dresser down before it, effectively barring their passage. The clamor woke the young prince in a panic, and I urged him forward. We made for the secret tunnels with haste, and I was exceedingly glad for the torch I bore into their dark, endless abyss.

The prince, though shaken, kept cool. We made it out of the palace walls and into the safe house in the city beyond, where we fully expected his family to converge with us. But as minutes turned to hours and the black of night began to fade into a dark morning grey, hope was slipping through our nervous fingers. More than once, he tried to go back. He was certain the danger had passed and the precautious escape had been called off, deemed unnecessary. But I kept him back, begging him to wait just a little longer.

When he finally snapped, letting his mask of diplomacy slip to reveal that pure fear of a child and refusing to wait for word to come any longer, I calmed him down and went myself. It was hardly two steps beyond the doorpost that I caught wind of the disastrous news.

“The entire royal family? None of them made it out alive?” A nobleman’s wife whispered in the street.

“None, m’lady.” Her driver responded darkly, with a crestfallen air.

“They’re certain?”

“We can’t be certain of anything in times like this. Rumor has it the knights are sweeping the area, but you know as well as I how worthless rumors can be.”

The prince refused to believe it at first. Scared out of his mind, he was. But I knew the traitor had his men on our tail, and I was responsible for his safety. Beneath the filthy guise of beggars, I snuck him to my meager household. My wife and firstborn son were at their wits end when we arrived, having heard the guards had all been sentenced to death for their loyalty. Without another word, I sent them packing hurriedly, only the essentials that could be gathered quickly. We planned to make for the border, help the prince flee the country. My eldest son kept watch out on the street, the babe crying helplessly in the crib.

But the knights came all too quickly. Some guard had squealed, told them I was missing. My boy came running back with the news of their arrival, but the ring of hooves could already be heard clopping through the town square. The prince, clothed in my oldest cloak and tunic, was unrecognizable beneath the shadows of his dark hood. My son knew the way and lead them out down the backstreets while they fled as inconspicuously as possible away from there. I promised to catch up with them, staying behind to throw the soldiers off his scent – but I knew that in doing so, my fate was sealed.

Moments later, the door was knocked from its hinges. They tore the place to pieces and took me into custody, but I made sure they had nothing at all to aid them in finding the fugitives. In the palace prison, they did all they could to make me talk. But my own family was at stake, and I would never break. Even then, they kept me strong.

“Last chance, Casey. Have you anything to tell m’lord?” Comes the sinister hist to my ear. I glare up at the traitor from my knees, hands bound behind me, the light of my soul’s dying embers ablaze in my eyes.

“Long live the one true king of Éirigh!” I spit hoarsely, and the axe falls.

Outspoken (c) 2013

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