July 4, 2011

Insight sample #1 (Prologue)

Shalán shielded her eyes with her free hand and peered over the river. “What’s happening over there?”

“I don’t know,” Theiss replied. He yanked his arm free from her grasp and fled across the stout wooden bridge. A gust of wind tore through their small village. Theiss stumbled and fell sideways, nearly toppling into the deep current of the West River.

“Be careful,” Shalán shouted, but her voice blew away only inches from her mouth.

Theiss regained his feet and, eight strides later, reached the safety of the opposite bank. He joined a large crowd of villagers who had gathered at the edge of a clearing. Shalán followed after him, anxious to see what held their attention. Her linen dress whipped sideways in the wind, and her braids fell apart. Black clouds had darkened the sky over Roseiri, and tiny spheres of frozen raindrops stung her careworn face.

The closer Shalán drew, the more animated the villagers became. They huddled together as they watched the northern pasture. Some were speaking emphatically and pointing at the large oak tree, where Shalán’s children always played.

Shalán forced her way through the crowd, fearing a cyclone had carried her children away. What she saw instead was just as unnerving. Her ten-year-old twins were kneeling under the tree playing stick-stack. Despite the howling wind and torrential hailstorm, they had managed to stack a narrow column of twigs over two feet high. The long grass surrounding them stood straight, while the reeds across the rest of the pasture bowed flat against the ground.

As Shalán marveled over what she saw, stranger things caught her eye. Her children’s clothes hung loose on their bodies. Their hair didn’t even twitch. The falling leaves and branches from the trembling tree stopped a few feet above the twins’ heads and rolled away in different directions.

The villagers began questioning her. “What are they doing, Shalán? What sort of trick is this?” Despite how long they had trusted the Marcs family, some of the villagers suspected sorcery or witchcraft. Others argued fell spirits and demons.

Shalán ignored them all, for at that moment the wind hoisted a large bale of hay off the ground farther up the pasture and sent it tumbling across the field.

“Lon! Mellai!” Shalán screamed, sprinting desperately toward her children, knowing she would be too late. “Get out of the way! Hide behind the tree!”

Neither child responded. Shalán watched in horror, the wind driving her tears across her face, as the bale rolled forward. Just as it should have crushed the children, the bale blew apart, as though it had smashed into an invisible wall. Hay flew forward, forming a perfect dome of undisturbed space where the twins knelt.

Shalán stopped midstride, dumbfounded.

Lon and Mellai continued playing their game as if nothing was happening, until Lon knocked over the pile. Mellai laughed and Lon pounded his fists on the ground. Just then the wind penetrated the barrier. The grass surrounding them dropped flat. Their hair and clothes flapped and whipped wildly.

Shalán rushed forward again. Clutching her twins’ arms, she turned and hurried home, ignoring her children’s complaints and the villagers’ wide-eyed stares.

“Aron?” she shouted as she burst into their quaint plank house. “Aron?”

“Right here,” her husband replied from a chair next to the hearth. He looked up from his half-carved wooden bear, startled by her urgency. “What happened?”

Shalán glanced around the single-story cabin. “Where are my parents?”

“They’re still eating dinner with the Arbogasts. With this weather, I wouldn’t expect them home anytime soon. Why? What’s the matter?”

Shalán sat her children in front of the fire, then took Aron’s hand and led him into their bedroom. After closing the door, she relayed what she had seen.

Aron's lips and muscles tightened. Without a word, he grabbed a bag from the corner of the room and threw it on the bed. “Start packing, Shalán. We’re leaving. Now.” He opened the door and disappeared from the room.

Shalán pulled an armful of clothes from a nearby shelf and stuffed them into the bag. Tears of fear and confusion tumbled down her already soaked face.

Aron returned a few seconds later with a poker. Using it as a pry bar, he removed a floorboard on the far side of their room. Reaching down, he pulled out a sword. After setting it on the bed next to the bag of clothes, he took hold of his wife’s shoulders.

“Look at me, Shalán.” She lifted her gaze to his brown eyes. His expression was kind, but urgency poured through his scarred face. “There’s only one explanation for what you saw tonight. We have to run.”

July 1, 2011

June's Contest Results

June's Contest for a free paperback copy of BEHOLDERS: INSIGHT has ended. All entries been entered into a random generator and congratulations to Mandie! You are the winner of a free paperback copy of BEHOLDERS: INSIGHT! As soon as the books have been printed, I will ship one out to you! You will most likely get your copy before everyone else on July 30!

Thanks to everyone who entered for this giveaway! Don't forget, you can still pre-order your copy in the Store.

Check back soon for July's contest!