Monday, December 15, 2014

When Worlds Collide: A Makeup Look Inspired by The Alazne Series

Even though writing is my first love, another art I enjoy is dabbling in is makeup. I even did a skeleton look for a friend's Halloween costume this year. When I was asked to write a guest blog for Fang-Tastic Books in honor of The Prophets' Guild, I decided to use my loves of writing and fantasy to create fun makeup looks inspired by my characters. Below is a fiery look inspired by Alazne herself.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Prophets' Guild Extended Preview

The Prophets' Guild (The Alazne Series #2) will be released on November 20, 2014 and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle, but here is an extended preview!

Garaile was due to arrive with a group of armed knights and guards as his escorts, so when a solitary knight approached the castle on horseback, I knew something was terribly amiss. The carmine-haired knight, Sir Ion, had accompanied Garaile to Euria, and seeing the blood dripping from his usually immaculate armor made my anxiety rise.
“Give me your sword and make sure the doctor examines Ion,” I ordered the guard beside me.
As soon as I held the obedient protector’s weapon in my hands, I ran to meet Sir Ion, whose handsome bronze face was twisted in pain.
“What happened,” I asked once he entered hearing range.
“We were ambushed just up the road,” the young knight revealed as he clumsily dismounted. “A group of—”
Instead of waiting for the rest of Ion’s explanation, I quickly mounted his horse and directed the uninjured steed down the road to the ambush site, begging the gods to watch over the man I adored with each passing second.
♦             ♦             ♦
As I approached the impromptu battlefield minutes later, the sounds of the mêlée began to reach my ears. The cacophony of steel hitting steel, flesh meeting flesh, and men screaming in primal rage or wailing in desperation echoed throughout in the forest and I prayed that my men had the upper hand. The instant I laid eyes on Garaile, who stood knee deep in a nearby pond fighting two bald fey, I dismounted and ran to his aid.
The closer I drew to the unsettlingly familiar pond, the more the air surrounding me changed. The atmosphere felt oppressively heavy and the water I waded through became increasingly thick until its texture rivaled the consistency of mud. By the time the water reached my knees, I could no longer lift my feet. I quickly realized the severity of my predicament and silently cursed my rash decision to join the fray without enlisting help and analyzing the situation at hand. When I raised my hand to use my powers on one of Garaile’s attackers, no flames leapt forth and dread washed over me as I watched smoke pour from my palms.
What in Hesta’s name is happening?
I redirected my attention to Garaile and followed his azure glare to my left, where I caught sight of an odious bald assailant rapidly approaching me. I lifted my sword to strike my opponent, but I couldn’t lower my blade from its raised position. The weapon had been rendered completely immobile by the unnaturally dense air, so my frantic efforts to move it were futile. When I attempted to release the sword so I could engage in hand-to-hand combat, I realized my hands had become irreversibly fastened to my maddeningly stationary blade’s hilt.
“Someone help me,” I yelled, struggling not to surrender to the panic that seized me.
Alas, the few Hestian combatants who were able to peel away from their fights and come to my aid were also rendered motionless the moment their feet met the water. Even Garaile, who had been surrounded by four hairless foes, was similarly immobilized mid-lunge. Is this how our lives are going to end, I wondered while the cleanly shaven assailant closed the distance between us. Are Garaile and I to be cut down in the prime of our lives without even having the chance to say goodbye?
When the attacker reached me, he pulled a knife from his pocket and I briefly changed my focus to Garaile, who was desperately attempting to shake his own invisible restraints. Then, as my enemy’s lustrous blade moved in my direction, I closed my eyes and braced myself for the seemingly inevitable pain would surely ensue. However, instead of feeling his knife plunge into my chest or slice across my throat, I winced in pain as the bald fey used the blade to open a shallow cut on my upper thigh.

I opened my eyes and glared at the man in puzzlement, but my attention shifted away from him as my pulse quickened and a burning sensation radiated from the wound. Turning my gaze downward, I watched my blood soak through my dress, causing the fabric to smoke and catch on fire as it ran down my leg and soiled my dress. When my blood and the fire it fueled touched the pond’s still waters, a searing, icy sting shot up my injured leg to the freshly-dealt wound and then permeated every inch of my body. The excruciating sensation completely devastated me and cast out all of the confusion, fear, and anger I felt by replacing it with pure agony. As my pain overrode all of my senses, an anguished cry poured from my lips and I abandoned the sunlit Hestian woodland in favor of oblivion

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Kings' Council - FREE Kindle eBook

Are you looking for a free fantasy read for the weekend? For today only (Aug. 1, 2014), The Kings' Council (The Alazne Series #1) is free in the Kindle Store!

"If a lioness spends her hours pacing back and forth in a cage of gold with the finest meats at her disposal, does that make her any less of a prisoner? If that same feline’s fangs are filed down to blunt, un-tearing teeth and her roar is silenced, can she still be called a lioness?" 

These are the thoughts that begin Alazne's tale of love, triumph, and woe in The Kings' Council, the first book in The Alazne Series.

When a rebellious thief frees the fire-wielding princess from the castle that has served as her prison since birth, she is forced to decide between taking the crown that is rightfully hers and living the life of a normal woman.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Diversity in Faerie

Humanity is a very diverse species. Our skin tones range from immaculate ivory to exquisite ebony and our eye and hair colors are equally varied. When I began to write the first book in The Alazne Series, I wanted the men and women of the land of Faerie to be similarly diverse… but with a twist.

Each of the fey ethnicities featured in The Alazne Series has an attraction to the element commanded by their respective creators (Hesta, Haizea, Irati, and Euria), but I wanted to make that variation both magical/spiritual and physical.

Alazne, the princess of the fire fey, has flaming red hair, bronzed skin, and molten gold eyes—coloring that most people would associate with fire, and common Hestians have a more subdued version of her coloring (deep red tresses and amber eyes), but all of the fire fey have varying shades of tanned skin that contribute to their unique brand of beauty. The principal Eurian characters, Luken and Nikola, both share the same oceanic coloring as Water King and heir with cerulean locks, light skin, and sapphire eyes while the common Eurians have midnight blue hair and matching eyes.

The only wind fey (Haizean) and earth fey (Iratian) characters introduced in The Kings’ Council are the kings, Kemen and Unai respectively. The Wind King’s complexion is more pallid than that of his Eurian counterparts, and with stark white hair and silver eyes, no one would mistake him for one of the water fey. One important feature that sets Kemen and his gray-haired, stormy-eyed subjects apart from the other fey is that they all have the “almond-shaped” eyes that most of us associate with people of East Asian descent. Unai, on the other hand, has features that mimic people of African descent—deep brown skin and eyes with coarse, dark hair. However, as with humans, there are variations in skin tone within the Iratian fey as well as the other fey ethnicities thanks to various factors such as lifestyle-related sun exposure.

Since the fey have such distinct appearances, it’s not difficult to spot a halfling (someone who is the result of an interracial union), and Garaile is a great example of that. The thief/inn-keeper was born with the carmine locks that non-royal Hestians possess, but his deep blue eyes tell the story of his mixed parentage before he even introduces himself to new acquaintances. The two captains who appear in The Prophets’ Guild also are the products of interracial relationships between Haizean and Eurian parents. With elemental affinities for wind and water, it’s no wonder that they chose careers in sailing! Despite the existence of those three characters, halflings are still quite rare in the land of Faerie, and Luken mentions the scarcity of mixed fey in Hesta specifically when he first notices Garaile’s blue eyes. In terms of how well halflings are received by the fey, that’s a topic I’ll discuss in a later blog.

Now it’s your turn to write a little bit! If you were a fey man or woman in the land of Faerie, what fey ethnicity would you be, and do you already have a fondness for your chosen element?

As an African American, I would fall into the Iratian category based on skin tone alone, and I wouldn't look terribly different as a fey woman, but what about you? Can you picture yourself with flaming red hair, cool cerulean locks, or stark white tresses?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Faith & Fantasy

***WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers***

When I first dreamed up the world of Faerie that’s featured in The Alazne Series, the word “faith” to me was synonymous with the gutsy gal played by Eliza Dushku on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the only divine beings I contended with were the ones who existed in my book. Then, in early 2013, everything changed.

After I wrote the first draft of The Prophets’ Guild (The Alazne Series Book 2), God gave me what my friends and I like to call a “grace slap.” He stepped into my life, changing my heart and healing damage from my past in an unmistakably divine way through Jesus Christ.

On several occasions, new friends who I’d met through attending and serving at my church regularly over the past year discovered that I had written a book. Every time I explained the plot and characters, I had to preface my explanation with the disclaimer that I’d written The Kings’ Council before I became a believer. I would jokingly discourage them from reading my book because it had three shades of gray in it (instead of fifty) and wasn't fit for Christian consumption. After using that colorful, tongue-in-cheek reference repeatedly, I decided to do something a little crazy: Release a “clean” second edition.

In the months that followed, I pored over The Kings’ Council and removed pages of passion while making other improvements to the text. Eventually, I had a finished product that I could hand over to my Christian comrades without humorous warnings and a fear of causing someone to stumble. Despite the new “cleanliness” of the book, I realized that there was still a bit of a problem. The characters had sinned time and time again during the story, and the protagonists still managed to find some semblance of happiness and decided to (gasp) live together without being married at the conclusion of the book.

Sure, Alazne and Garaile exist in a fictional land with four gods instead of one God and no Jesus, but I didn’t feel right letting them ride into the sunset without contending with the fallout of their transgressions. After all, in the real world, we have salvation through Jesus Christ because he cleanses us and justifies us through his death and resurrection, but we still have to deal with the earthly consequences for our sins, and I didn’t want my characters to be any different.

For that reason, I sat down with the untouched printed proof of The Prophets’ Guild and made some drastic changes to the plot and the characters’ relationships to show the effects of their actions in the first book. My renewed fervor for the land of Faerie and my faith-stoked passion for writing also inspired me to write the third book in the series, The Valley of Eternity. In this in-progress book, all of the characters’ transgressions as well as the insufficiency and iniquity of the gods themselves cause a calamity that forces the characters to form unlikely alliances and to take steps toward reconciliation and peace that are oftentimes uncomfortable.

Readers who stick with the series and read all three books once they are released will have the opportunity to see the characters face the consequences of their innate brokenness and find new hope in the same way that I have during my transition from a “check the box” Christian-by-default to a true Christ-follower.

If you’re interested in reading my story of transformation, check out the blog I wrote for The Porch, and if you haven’t heard the gospel before, e-mail me at It’s a (true) story with a joyful ending better than anything I could ever hope to write, and I’d love to share it with you.