Castles of Dreams – Ayla Nightshade (AFE Smith)

Many of you will recall the series “Castle of Dreams” that I ran a while ago, featuring many talented authors, and their own Castle of Dreams. Some were real, some from their books, and others were completely written new for this blog.

It was a great success, but, like many other things, there are only so many other authors that are prepared to write a piece on a castle.

This week however I have reinstated it for a very important reason. My friend and fellow author AFE Smith wrote a piece for the original series, and I’m delighted to welcome her back this week.

Why, you might ask…

Well, her first novel Darkhaven, which I had the honour of reading original excerpts from on the Harper Collins author community website “Authonomy” a while ago, is released by Harper Collins on 21st July 2015, if you can’t wait that long, then you can get it in e-book form from 2nd July 2015.

Darkhaven

I’m absolutely thrilled for her, and anxiously await my pre-ordered copy through the post so I can read the final version.

So I’m honoured to welcome AFE Smith, and of course Ayla Nightshade to the Castle of Dreams:

Andrea ran a lovely series called Castle of Dreams here on her blog in 2013. In it, participating authors talked about their favourite castle – you can read my original post here. So when she suggested that I ask one of my characters to talk about what castles mean to them, I thought it was a great idea! Here’s Ayla Nightshade, one of the protagonists from my new book Darkhaven, to talk about her own castle of dreams.

I don’t live in a castle, not exactly. Darkhaven is a tower, a seven-sided tower with a central courtyard. And it’s more likely to give you nightmares than happy dreams. Blackstone has quite a sinister effect when a whole building is made out of it. I wouldn’t have thought anyone down in the city looks up at Darkhaven, here on the hill, and wishes they could live in it. In fact, I daresay they avert their eyes and thank the elements they don’t have to get too close. My father isn’t exactly known for his hospitality.

Still, castle or tower … it’s all the same, to the people outside it. They don’t realise that when I hear the word castle, I think of adventure and romance – the kind in all the stories my mother used to read me. Whereas Darkhaven … well, Darkhaven is the opposite of that. For me, Darkhaven is more like a prison than anything.

It wasn’t like that when my mother was alive. Oh, it was still dark and gloomy, with rooms that were too big for the human inhabitants and nothing of softness or comfort about it. Yet my mother filled the silences. She made even the austere walls of Darkhaven seem welcoming. I wouldn’t mind living here so much, if only she were still alive. But she’s gone, and without her, there’s no-one to talk my father out of his obsessions. He’s ashamed of me – of what I turn into – and until recently, he’s been determined to keep me hidden. Not that his new scheme is any better …

But let’s not discuss that.

The thing is, Darkhaven is my home. I don’t want to be anywhere else. I want to be here, only I want here to be different. So if you ask me to imagine my ideal castle – the one I daydream about – it is Darkhaven after all. Except it’s a Darkhaven that no longer exists. It’s a place from my past, a place that lives on only in memory, a place where my mother is still alive and my father can relate to me and my brother Myrren as people instead of a pair of disappointments. I find it sad that my dream is already in the past, because it means I have no hope of returning to it.

Still. Maybe the only perfect places are the ones we can never get to.

Thank You Ayla, that’s a wonderful piece, so evocative. If, like me, you can’t wait to know more, you can find out more aby following the links below to buy the book itself:

Darkhaven:

Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.
When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?
Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

Harper Collins  

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Google Play

ITunes

Kobo

I think it’s time we found out a little more about Ayla’s creator, the wonderful AFE Smith,
Anna
A.F.E. Smith is an editor of academic texts by day and a fantasy writer by night. So far, she hasn’t mixed up the two. She lives with her husband and their two young children in a house that someone built to be as creaky as possible – getting to bed without waking the baby is like crossing a nightingale floor. Though she doesn’t have much spare time, she makes space for reading, mainly by not getting enough sleep (she’s powered by chocolate). Her physical bookshelves were stacked two deep long ago, so now she’s busy filling up her e-reader.
What A.F.E. stands for is a closely guarded secret, but you might get it out of her if you offer her enough snacks.

and yes, I do know what that secret is 🙂

Summer Reading Challenge – Week Nine

Firstly, an apology from me, as I’ve been away so this latest blog is slightly late…

This week is Michel Prince…

Summer Reads Blog Tour – Week Nine
Michel Prince

Week nine in the Summer Blogs Tour is here and I’m hoping you’ve been enjoying meeting new faces and trying new reads. It’s time to welcome Michel to my blog tour, another friend I met through Authonomy when we were all just newbies starting out. You won’t want to miss out on her reads list and her own books. Check them out if you’re a romance junkie like me, you won’t be disappointed!

Michel Prince is an author who graduated with a bachelor degree in History and Political Science. Michel writes new adult and adult paranormal romance as well as contemporary romance.
With characters yelling “It’s my turn damn it!!!” She tries to explain to them that alas, she can only type a hundred and twenty words a minute and they will have wait their turn. She knows eventually they find their way out of her head and to her fingertips and she looks forward to sharing them with you.
When Michel can suppress the voices in her head she can be found at a scouting event or cheering for her son in a variety of sports. She would like to thank her family for always being in her corner and especially her husband for supporting her every dream and never letting her give up.

Michel has been awarded Elite Status with Rebel Ink Press in 2013, the service award for her local RWA chapter Midwest Fiction Writers and is a Pro member of RWA. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, son, cat and new puppy.

One Last Rodeo

Betsy Flynn’s star is rising as she serves as the color sports reporter for the local CBS affiliate. Her focus, knowledge and high heels have become a staple along every sideline in Minneapolis, but a rodeo has come to Minnesota and this Texas transplant will have to go back to her roots.
Five years ago pick-up man JT Long chose his best friend’s rodeo career over the love of his life, Betsy.J As JT’s rodeo shows up in Northern Minnesota he quickly realizes his chances of winning Betsy back are getting slim as he learns he only has one last rodeo to win her heart.
*Break out the fireworks and get ready to kick off your summer with this HOT new collection of stories. One Last Rodeo is part of the Red Hot and BOOM multi-author series (stands alone for reading enjoyment).

Buy Links:
Shared Redemption
Former slave Nye ended his life in 1859 after losing his love. The angel Gabriel has offered Nye a chance at redemption by hunting demons as a member of the Frozen. With less than seven years left until his salvation, Nye is staying on the straight and narrow – until a woman gets caught in the crossfire during a demon hunt.

After receiving devastating news, Kiriana Kladshon moves across the country, only to get caught up in the world of The Frozen. Nye and Kiriana are pulled into an attraction neither can control. Will it be their ultimate demise or their greatest salvation?

Damarion, is leading a group of female demons on a mission. During his punishment on Earth, Damarion learns of dangers within his coven trying to stop him from returning to his love, still trapped in Hell and A love he was so sure was true…
Buy Links
Chrysalis
In the annals of dysfunctional families, the Chisholm’s are working their way to the top. Drug abuse, an unwed mother with multiple fathers, and the questionable cash flow for the ‘pretty one’. All this from a seemingly normal, two parent middle class family. But were the choices truly made of their free will?
Bad choices are a Chisholm family trait, one that confounds the youngest child, Ellie, who’s trying to separate herself by making smart decisions. And falling for Oscar Jeffreys, the hottest guy at school, would be number one on the list of Chisholm family disasters. Yet the crazy part is it’s not a one sided attraction. Somehow Ellie has caught Oscar Jeffreys’ eye. Sure she could see the barriers between them. Race, age, popularity. They were at opposite ends of the spectrum. But a demon set to destroy her family? She can’t see that.
Oscar provides security and acceptance Ellie never imagined she deserved. As the passion of first love grows, Ellie honestly believes she has a chance to beat the odds and live a happy, normal life. Then her world collapses around her. With the help of a guardian angel, Ellie learns of a world that has unknowingly surrounded her for years. And she’ll have to find strength buried deep inside to save not only her future, but flush out and stop the demon in her midst.
Ellie will have to learn that sometimes the hardest lesson about growing up is accepting that you’re worth more.
Buy Links
Take a look at Michel’s Goodreads book recommendations for the tour here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/7921060?shelf=summer-reading-blog-2014

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