October is all about my upcoming novel Alarum! I can’t wait for you to dive into this new dystopian/post-apocalyptic world! Saturday was the big reveal for the cover and I hope you love it as much as I do! My brother put both his artistic and graphic designer skills to work to create it for me and I think it turned out pretty fantastic. We looked at tons of books in similar genres and just felt that we wanted something different, a cover that didn’t quite follow the norm set by the publishing industry, and voilà! Featuring Fury holding a sawed-off double barrel shotgun and surrounded by the angry sun it captures her pretty well and actually has ties to a particular moment in the book.
To get you all a bit extra excited for the release I’ll be sharing stuff across all my media platforms so be sure to check them out for the fun! I’ll be sharing some teasers and quotes all month but for bonus teasers and exclusive excerpts be sure to join the group “Talismonium” (linked to my Facebook page)! For this week however I’ve decided to go ahead and give you all a peek at the first chapter. I hope you like it!
I fled as they destroyed my home.
I watched as they murdered my family.
I stood silent as they stole my name and threw my life in chains.
I stare coldly at my fading reflection with only one question to ask:
Them or Me?
Set in a future where the United States has fallen, a girl is ripped from her home as a child and forced to endure the harshness around her or else surrender to the dust of bones she treads on. Her life becomes simple: kill or be killed. What she didn’t count on was the heavy cost this world would drain from her soul. When she crosses paths with a curious stranger who offers to show her a place without a map, they head across the crumbling land in search of the fabled Sanctuary. Neither enemies nor elements that rip her hair and claw at her heels can stand in the way of her will to survive.
They say demons lurk in the shadows, but here they strut boldly under the angry sun.
I have many names. The name my parents gave me. The name my equals gave me. The name my masters gave me. The name I gave myself. The name scorched into the wind when my body was ripped from my soul.
A name gives something identity, and I’ve come to realize that a name doesn’t matter if you didn’t choose it yourself. I was born with the name Sofia Ramsey and I died with the names Fury and Ma thrown into the air with all the hatred and desperation a soul can muster.
I’m gonna tell you about that day but it hasn’t come yet.
It’s not today.
I breathe slowly and a cooling comfort stirs my lungs.
It’s not today.
The world once drifted aimless, clueless, hopeful. And then the slaughter began.
But that’s not today.
Hans’ homestead sprawls across a small corner of Alabama, a green patch amongst a sea of dust and consequences. Did you know that the world almost ended? It’s been maybe a decade but you still run into a person or two who couldn’t tell the difference. I could. I still remember–
“Vizsla!” Lizbeth shouts followed by a piercing whistle that ricochets off my eardrums. My shoulders flinch as her sudden call startles my bones. Lizbeth is Hans’ wife, a worn-down beauty. A brass candelabra smothered in dust, whisked from a king’s dining room and left to sputter atop a farm table. Out of place and proud and angry and so so wasted.
Pushing my glasses up my sweaty nose I stand and look down at the mud clinging to my knees. This stupid dress of cotton and cobwebs is so stained that the bold slick chocolaty brown is almost a welcome sight upon the hem. That whistle, the one used to call a dog back from a snowstorm rings through my skull again even though she can see perfectly well that I’m coming.
She just doesn’t particularly care.
She likes to see the slight jump in my shoulders that her summons cause.
I approach the side-door of the house. It stands humble but tall with two-levels and an attic. Brown wooden slats with flaking dusty robin’s egg blue paint. It has the air of neglected quaintness. A touch of forgotten southern charm. “Yes, Ms. Lizbeth?” I avert my eyes both out of inferiority and self-preservation.
A stare is a challenge. A stare defines a relationship. Do you lock eyes in respect? In equality? Or do you shoot each other with glares until one of you cowers?
My eyes do not cower.
My eyes will look any dead center until they welcome me or bow to me.
Lizbeth’s eyes also refuse to cower.
Lizbeth’s eyes will challenge mine until I kneel in defeat or until her hand smacks my eyes away from hers with her tarnished fingers of gold.
My eyes do not cower, but still I look down.
The mistress of the house says nothing but gives a disgusted snort as she thrusts a basket full of dirty clothes against my chest. Ignoring the slight ache where the heavy wicker beast strikes me I wrap my thin arms around it hugging it close so as not to drop it. My arms quiver slightly from the weight but they possess a hidden wiry strength. Self-preservation makes demands on your body and I refuse to lay down and ignore the call.
I take a step back, then another, then a third before turning my back on Lizbeth and returning to the energetic stream that runs around the back of the house. The crisp water teases me with its freedom as it dances over rocks and frolics around the bend.
I place my cargo carefully next to the basket I’d almost finished and sink my knees back into the bank of mud. Picking up a bar of loamy soap I resume my scrubbing. I always bring laundry to this spot along the stream because there’s this almost-smooth slanted rock that seems as if God Himself shaped it for the sole purpose of scrubbing clothes on. When life gives you lemons you squeeze half into a cold glass with sugar and half into your enemy’s eyes, then you take the seeds and you plant a damn orchard of lemon trees so you can do it all over again and again and again until…
So where was I before? …Oh that’s right, the world ending. I don’t know what happened, honest truth, because I was maybe five when the earth changed its tune and over the years no one’s found any need to explain it to me and really what does it matter anymore? Maybe aliens blasted everything apart, or maybe giant beasts trampled all over cities, or maybe people pushed so hard to be happy that they chucked the consequences out the window and then jumped over the edge reaching for them, begging for forgiveness, but they did it and it was too late to haul the consequences back in so they hurtled down to the smooth white pavement after them choosing the coward’s exit and leaving the rest of us to dance to the rain and dance to the sun and dance to the sound of a steel-barreled gun.
They may not have cared about the consequences but I damn well do. Whoever or whatever started this mess threw those consequences out of their high and mighty tower and they landed at my feet costing me my home, my parents, and any notion of freedom I ever had the gall to possess.
So that’s about it for today! Hopefully you enjoyed that little preview and perhaps the book’s blurb tickles your fancy haha. If so then stay tuned for more this month! The Kindle edition is already up on Amazon and available for pre-order but the paperback edition will be available for purchase on the official release date, October 30th.
I hope your week hasn’t been too stressful and if it has then hopefully you’ll find time to relax and enjoy the autumn season. If you do find a spare moment and you’ve already read Crooked Raven, the first book in my YA Fantasy trilogy, then if you could please leave a little review on Amazon and/or Goodreads I’d be incredibly grateful! I know it doesn’t seem like much but those reviews really mean so much to us authors not only to hear your feedback but also to sway our books’ statistics in a positive direction by showing that there’s any interest in them at all and this allows us to keep doing what we love which is writing stories for you all.
Remember, there will be more to come in these next few weeks leading up to Alarum‘s release! So stay tuned…
P.S. If I can reach 15 reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads for either Crooked Raven or Alarum by December I’ll post an excerpt for that book’s sequel in the December newsletter! If both books reach 15 reviews then you’ll get an excerpt for each!