Monday, April 21, 2014

Virtual Book Tour ~ Becoming the Chateran by S.J. Aisling ~ EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY!



Fantasy
Date Published: February 1, 2014

When Princess Rhea’s actions inadvertently condemn two innocent knights to death, she wakes to the hard reality that not even nobility is above the law. All her attempts to remedy the situation only complicate it, however, until she finds herself a fugitive in her own kingdom, having dragged her best friend into the trouble, as well. Their only hope for pardon? To accompany Sir Paladin and Sir Zephen in their sentence:

Slay, or be slain by, the Dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen.

Travelling incognito, they meet with more malicious Phoenixes than could be coincidental, discover the mysterious disappearance of numerous citizens, and come face to face with a reawakened evil power. With the kingdom oblivious to the connection of these dangers, it’s up to Rhea and her outlaw companions to stop the rising threat and redeem their names – if they can survive their quest.

EXCERPT
~~~
 Shouting and confusion suddenly rose up from within the castle, and Julen, almost losing his footing once more, scrambled for a better hold on the window bars. He faced into the wind as it shoved him against the tower, the loud cry ringing off the walls of the castle once again, and his jaw dropped. A flashing, red thing was speeding through the air towards the castle. Its enormous wings created the gale that had suddenly burst out, followed by waves of heat. Julen couldn’t move, clinging to the tower in horror as the Dragon swept low over the castle.
Valkdrava… the rumors are true, then!
 All the brown-tinted trees far below shook and creaked, leaves scattering thick on the blast of wind. The power of the Dragon’s wingbeats pushed Julen from his window ledge, and he tumbled down, landing miraculously on the castle wall fifteen feet below. Bursts of light exploded in his view, and he couldn’t breathe, but then larger, fiercer, and redder flashes rent the air above him, and the voice of Vanna crying out his name stirred him. Somehow he found himself on his feet, swaying like a reed in the wind, and yet clutching his drawn hunting knife in his fist. The Valkdrava banked on the sweltering wind of its own creation, sending hay from the stack by the stable, torn pennants, and loosened tiles swirling through the air. Opening its mouth, it sent a stream of fire onto the wooden structures inside the bailey. The terrified shrieks and cries of the horses and other livestock in the buildings filled the air, and the shouting and screams of people joined the din as the Dragon swooped down again and again, each time sending fire into yet another spot within the castle. Within moments, Julen found himself surrounded by flames on the walls, with no way of getting down into the bailey and helping.
A troop of guards and soldiers burst from the armory and raced towards the Dragon, which had just perched on top of the great hall’s roof with a splintering of large glass windows and an avalanche of carved stone and tiles. The Dragon gave one look at the advance, and within seconds, all that remained of the soldiers lay piled in ashes and twisted metal in the courtyard. Then the Dragon, after grinding in the roof of the great hall like a kitchen maid kneads dough, turned and fixed its livid eyes on Julen. 

(from Chapter Twenty-Two)
~~~
The door swung open at Rhea’s gentle push, and she peered into a room not unlike the one her father had left her in a few minutes before: a bed in one corner, a table and a stool against the wall, and a fireplace with a couple of chairs before it. Between the chairs, standing with his face towards the fire and his back to Rhea, was Sir Paladin. His hands were clasped behind his back and his damp sleeves rolled up, and in the shifting light of the fire Rhea could see the muscles and tendons of his arms were rigid and tight. With a shaky breath, Rhea stepped into the doorway and cleared her throat. At the sound, starting as if from deep thought, Sir Paladin looked over his shoulder, eyes wide and alert. Rhea’s face flamed as he turned to face her fully, his hands now limp at his sides, and stared at her.  There was dust on his clothes, and streaks of mud and grass stains, one sleeve was torn at the shoulder, and there was the beginning of a fine bruise on the right side of his face.
“I…” Rhea fumbled, “I brought you some dinner.”
Sir Paladin’s expression did not change, and Rhea set the tray down on the floor before her trembling hands could drop it. When she straightened again, she found Sir Paladin still in the same position. She frowned.
“Sir Paladin?”
That seemed to release him, for he hurried towards her, grabbed her upper arm, and pulled her into the room, shutting the door quickly behind her.
“What… are you doing here?” he hissed.
“I came to speak with you… actually, to bring you dinner, but since I’m here I might as well talk with you,” Rhea whispered.
“What? How…?” Sir Paladin threw up his hands. “If your father or anyone else… Where did you even get the key?”
“The innkeeper’s wife thought I was a new maid and sent me up. But there isn’t much time. I’ve come to tell you I’m dreadfully sorry about what has happened. I’m mortified that your kindness to me should be repaid in such an awful way, and that my father and Prince Ohnferead think you would do anything like what they accuse you of.”
“You came up here, risking both our necks, to tell me that?”
“Aye, and tomorrow I’ll tell the prince and my father everything.”
“No, don’t!” Sir Paladin put up one hand as if to hush Rhea then and there.
“Whyever not? This is my dilemma, and I must stand up and deal with it. I can’t have my father and everyone else, especially that prince, blaming you for something I caused. I am at fault, and I must take the consequences. You don’t need to and won’t,” Rhea almost stamped her foot but stopped, fearing it would be heard elsewhere in the inn and arouse suspicion, “be blamed for any of it.”
Paladin made as if to speak, but Rhea continued, “Furthermore, I will not simply stand idly by and watch your honor, and possibly your knighthood, be taken from you on my account.”
“Listen!” Sir Paladin put his hands on her shoulders, crouching a little so his face was on a level with hers. “The honor of a princess is far more valuable than the honor of a single knight. If you went and told everyone that you had spent an entire day alone in the forest, unprotected and unescorted, your honor would be damaged, and a dishonored princess is a terrible thing.”
“But so is a miscarriage of justice!” Rhea flamed.
“Better that than an entire country put to shame at the dishonor of their princess!” Paladin’s dark blue eyes flashed. “I don’t know what you were doing in the forest, Your Highness, but as far as anything concerning the both of us goes, I know you are faultless. If it costs my honor and, if need be, my knighthood, to make the rest of Gemworthy believe that, so be it.”
(from Chapter Five)




S.J. Aisling

Stacia Joy has always loved to tell stories and invent fictional lands and characters. But she never considered becoming a writer herself until age thirteen, when, inspired by a pretend play she invented with a friend, she wrote the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has since expanded into what will become The Chateran Series. Stacia Joy also writes in several other genres, including steampunk and paranormal/science fiction, and occasionally writes poems about buffalo.
Wanting to be able to show others what her imagined universe looks like, Stacia Joy taught herself to draw by studying the work of illustrators like Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Kate Seredy, and Jan Brett. She also received training in illustration and graphic design at Madison Area Technical College, and plans to become a full-fledged freelance illustrator before long.

When not immersed in writing or art, Stacia Joy spends her time playing the piano and folk harp, composing music, Irish dancing, singing at the top of her lungs, and learning new things. She also enjoys helping with children's ministry at her church, and currently resides in the Madison, Wisconsin area with a kitten named Lord Peter Whimsey.


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