Thursday, December 25, 2014

First Chapter Sneak Peek of Caelihn, the Next Novel of the Otherworld!

Hello Dearest Readers!  It has been a very long time since I've posted anything new here on my site, so I am hoping to make amends by offering you the first chapter of Caelihn - A Novel of the Otherworld, as a Christmas gift.  This is the next chapter in Robyn's and Devlin's story, and although it is much less action-driven than the other Otherworld books, I hope you will enjoy it regardless.  Caelihn is meant to be a reprieve of sorts between Lorehnin and the next Robyn novel (Caelihn is not the sequel!  There will be more to come in the future!).  Also, I'm hoping that those of you who were disappointed that Meghan and Cade didn't make an appearance in Lorehnin will be pleased with this next, short novel installment.  The entire manuscript still needs to make a visit to my editor, which means it isn't quite ready yet, but I will be sure to let you know when it will be available.  For now, I hope this sneak peek will suffice.  Happy reading and Happy Holidays!
-J.E. Johnson

Chapter One

Focus, Robyn.  Focus. Breathe in, breathe out . . .

My eyes were pointed straight ahead, my heartbeat steady.  Without moving an inch or taking my attention from my target, I opened up my senses and scrutinized my surroundings.  Far above me, the sunlight trickled in between the newly unfurled beech tree leaves, warming my skin and hair.  I took another deep breath, gathering in the scent of clean earth, fresh spring rain, and flower petals ready to burst free of their confines.  The subtle sounds of birds and other forest creatures going about their daily chores only added to the magic of the Weald, and this mild bustle helped ease me into my trance.

Alright, it wasn’t really a trance.  Just an exercise Enorah had taught me to help find my glamour and encourage it to work with me: to take note of everything around me, then set it off to the side so I didn’t have to worry about any outside distractions.  I’d also discovered that it came in handy while zeroing in on a target some fifty yards away.
As I calmed my mind, the index finger of my right hand pressed gently against the trigger of the crossbow held up to my shoulder.  I narrowed my gaze, focusing completely on the farthest target away, and released one final breath slowly through my nose.  Just as I was about to increase the pressure on the trigger, something came to rest on my shoulder.  I started a little, but didn’t let the bolt fly free.  That was one of the earliest lessons Enorah and the other archers had taught me: fierce control.  Never release an arrow unless you had full control of every step leading up to the exact moment it left the bowstring behind.

The tension at being surprised, however, remained.  That is, until familiar fingers brushed against the side of my neck.  The tightness in my muscles drained away and I brought the crossbow down to rest against my thigh.  Even without turning around to see who it was, I recognized Devlin’s touch.  I smiled softly and leaned into him, temporarily forgetting my practice and instead relishing the smooth caress of his hands over my skin.  He bent and pressed his mouth to my neck, whispering endearments in the language of Eilé as he worked his way up to my ear.

“How are your exercises going this morning?”

Well, there went what tiny bit of concentration I’d been clinging onto for dear life.  I released a small sigh and turned my head so that I could look up into his eyes.  Then, grinning, I returned my focus to the target and took aim once again, pulling the trigger with confidence.  The small bolt flew through the air, slamming into the painted target mere inches from the bull’s eye.

“My aim is getting better,” I chirped, patting the bow, which I had christened Venom.

The crossbow had been a gift from Devlin, as well as Enorah.

“I have a feeling you’ll take well to this,” the tall Faelorehn woman had said upon presenting me with the bow several weeks ago.

She’d been right.  I was still struggling with knife and sword fighting, having only been in Eilé for a few months, but as soon as I picked up a crossbow and took aim, I knew I’d found my calling.  And at least this way I could contribute something to the Wildren of the Weald.
I turned and laced my fingers together at the small of Devlin’s back.  Pressing my cheek against his chest, I took long, deep breaths, listening to his heartbeat and finding comfort in his scent.

“Yes, this aspect of my training is going very well, but my glamour’s still being stubborn.”
“Much like its mistress?” he murmured against my hair.

I pulled away just enough to punch him lightly in the stomach.  Ow.  Certainly that hurt me more than him.  Devlin chuckled and pulled me back into a comfortable embrace.

“I don’t appreciate your teasing,” I grumbled.

“But it is so much fun to rile you up.”  He stepped away from me and gently took my face in his hands.  “You are so adorable when you’re irritated.”

Adorable?  Me?!  I glowered at him.  “How many times have I asked you not to use that word when describing me?”

Devlin shrugged.  “I can’t remember.  Would you prefer I use the term charming?  Or cute?  Or delectable?”

Ugh, could he get any sappier?  He must have noticed the look of abject horror on my face because in the next second, Devlin ducked his head and nipped me on the nose.

“I’ll try to use more masculine words next time.  How about robust, dashing, or gallant?”

And that just slapped the exasperation right out of me.  My shoulders started to shake with withheld laughter.  “Oh, that’s enough!  Someone will hear you and report back to Enorah or Rhyne!”

Enorah, the fearless leader of the Wildren, would more than likely tease the both of us to no end about our mutual infatuation, and at the worst possible times, too.  I could only imagine what would happen if she were to fling those very terms back at me in the middle of a sparring lesson just to throw me off my guard.  I could picture her now, standing on the sidelines, her eyes gleaming with mischief, as she described my ‘delectable’ use of the sword, or the ‘robust’ way I moved around my opponent.  Ugh.  Back in the mortal world, I had been the one to embarrass my friends without the slightest hint of shame.  Enorah had a talent of using my own medicine against me, and doing so with flying colors.  And Rhyne would be just as bad.

The sudden thought of Devlin’s little brother quickly brought my mirth to an end.  I had been nervous about meeting Rhyne, but he had been everything I’d expected him to be: a mischievous younger version of Devlin who not only ribbed his older brother every chance he got, but adored him above everyone else.  To him, Devlin was the father he never had, his only family in the world.  I had liked him immediately.

Although he had been very accepting of our relationship in the beginning, I had been getting a strange vibe from Rhyne of late, as if he was afraid I’d take his big brother away from him.  After all, I was the reason Devlin failed to capture the Daramorr, and the reason the two of them had lost their chance at having their own home.  Diarnan Castle was to be Devlin’s reward from the high queen Danua for capturing the Morrigan’s devotee, Mikael, but because of my interference, he had fallen short of his goal.

Biting my lip, I removed myself from Devlin’s embrace and stepped back.  Sometimes I worried about Rhyne.  I suspected that even though he was clearly happy for Devlin and me, something about seeing us together dampened a bit of his spark.  There was a subtle sadness to the looks he cast our way when he thought I wasn’t paying attention, but I didn’t dare bring it up.  I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate his brother’s girlfriend asking him about the emotions he clearly wanted to keep to himself.

I couldn’t let any of it bother me now, however, and I really needn’t worry about him or Enorah.  Both of them were gone from the Weald for the time being, anyway.  Ten days ago, Enorah had received a summons from Queen Danua, and Rhyne had offered to go with her.  I tried to tell myself it wasn’t because of me and Devlin, but I had a feeling that our relationship had something to do with it.

“Is your glamour at least showing itself to you?” Devlin asked, breaking into my thoughts.
I sighed heavily and gathered up Venom and my spare bolts.  Devlin walked with me to the target to retrieve the rest, and I shrugged.

“In all honesty?  I don’t know,” I admitted.  “Sometimes I’ll get these strange tingling sensations, in my fingers and toes.  But sometimes the prickling shows up in the most random places, like behind my knee or in the middle of my back.  I think it’s my glamour trying to work itself free, but then it disappears as quickly as it arrives.”

Devlin pursed his lips and nodded.  “Enorah told me that when Meghan first came to the Otherworld it was the same for her.”

I smiled at the mention of Meghan’s name.  Meghan was my best friend from back home, and about four years ago, she discovered she was Faelorehn and the daughter of Eilé’s high queen.  Now she was married to Cade MacRoich, a Faelorehn man who had been the hottest guy I’d ever seen (until I’d met Devlin, of course), and the two of them lived in a castle like a fairy prince and princess.  Except this fairy princess wielded her wealth of magic like a great battle axe and had obliterated the Morrigan in a battle worthy of any Celtic legend.

We reached the moldering hay bale and Devlin and I started plucking the bolts free of the straw.  They were fashioned of rowan, the most effective wood against the faelah, the reanimated nightmares the Morrigan liked to use as her minions.  Fortunately, the goddess was no longer around to create more, but that didn’t mean some hadn’t been left behind after her demise.

“So I should stop worrying about my absent magic, then?” I asked Devlin as we headed back toward the trail that would lead us to the small village of the Wildren.

He nodded and the corner of his mouth quirked up in a half grin.  He reached out an arm and pulled me closer to his side.  I accepted his partial embrace and together we strolled along, soaking up the warmth of the late morning sun and breathing in the fresh, clean air of the Weald.  It was early April and the green of the forest was finally starting to emerge after winter’s long visit.  Small birds, chattering cheerfully and keeping busy with nest building, darted from one twig to another.  The many brooks and streams of the forest flowed free, the icy edges of their banks beginning to thaw.  And finally, the sun was beginning to cut through the constant chill that often lingered in the air.  Despite the overall joy and peace of the bright, sunny day, and being nestled close to Devlin, I could feel my frustration building up again.  My Lorehnin glamour was a mystery to all of us, and that fact alone had me on edge more often than not.

Once, I had managed to get my magic to crackle invisibly along my skin, but that was only when Devlin had fed some of his own glamour to me.  When I had made the decision to overturn my life and give up everything I’d worked for in the mortal world in exchange for a new beginning in the Otherworld, I was counting on my glamour being there for me in case any more Daramorr decided to carve me up like a pumpkin.

I shuddered as memories I would just as soon forget surfaced to my mind.  At the very beginning of the year, I had been kidnapped by a devotee to the Morrigan and brought to Eilé.  The Daramorr, Mikael, and his sister Moira had tried to kill me and steal my magic.  They had been very close to succeeding, but Devlin had arrived just in time to thwart them.  Too bad they managed to scurry off with a rather sizeable portion of my Lorehnin magic.  Now I was starting to wonder if they’d taken all of it and left nothing behind.

“Don’t fret,” Devlin told me, rubbing his hand up my side.  “Your magic just needs time to heal, and time to get used to being back in Eilé.”

Oh.  I must have been thinking out loud again.  Or he had grown far too good at reading my emotions.

Devlin took my hand and lifted it to his mouth to press a kiss there.  His unwavering support and affection was a balm to my tattered soul.  Not only had I discovered I was Lorehnin (someone of mortal and Faelorehn blood) in the worst possible way, but four months ago my foster parents had severed the last connection I’d had with them, making me an orphan once again.  Okay, technically I was an adult, but it still hurt to have the only parents I’d ever known declare they couldn’t accept me for who I was.  And this had happened before they knew I was Lorehnin.  All in all, it had been a very trying year and having Devlin, and now Enorah, Rhyne, and all the Wildren of the Weald, willing to welcome me into their home had been a blessing.

And tomorrow morning, I reminded myself, you will be leaving to go to the Amsihr Mountains where you may or may not find your blood relatives.

I was incredibly nervous about the prospect of tracking down my family, but Devlin had promised we would stop by Luathara Castle on the way and visit with Meghan and Cade.  I could not wait see Meghan again.  I had written her a letter about a month after moving to the Weald with Devlin, and her response had been such fun to read.  She’d stated enthusiastically that she didn’t believe me, and that she would murder me if I was playing a prank on her.  The rest of the letter was a long list of questions: how could I be half Faelorehn?  What was Devlin like?  Where was I living?  How did I like Eilé?  And, most importantly of all, she wanted to know why I hadn’t come to visit her yet.  The letter I’d sent out after that one assured her that Devlin and I would be making a trip to Luathara very soon.  And that day had finally come.

Shaking my head, I returned my thoughts to the conversation Devlin and I had been having earlier.

“I can feel my glamour, I just can’t picture it too well,” I admitted with a shrug.  “It’s almost as if the magic in me is trapped inside an egg.  I can detect it inside its shell, but I have no idea what it looks like.”

Devlin nodded and pursed his lips, his hands resting casually on his hips.  “Glamour can be like that, especially with someone who grew up in the mortal world.”

I narrowed my eyes and released a sharp breath through my nose.  If my glamour was as stubborn as I was, it might be a century before it graced us with its presence.  Or, a less optimistic part of me whispered into my mind, your suspicions could be right after all and Mikael and his horrid sister are now basking in the glow of magic that was once yours.

An image of the two of them, in all their resplendent Faelorehn beauty, dancing around in a cave as my electric violet magic rained down on them, flashed through my mind.  Fierce anger pierced my heart and I gritted my teeth.  The stupid scene lingered, so I used my skills of imagination to envision a giant scorpion emerging from the depths of the cave to slice them in half with its pincers.  As horrific as the image was, it made me feel a little bit better.

Devlin caught sight of my face and gave me one of his disarming smiles and said, “Don’t give up on it just yet.”

He reached out a hand and I accepted it, reveling in the feel of his warm, long fingers lacing with mine.  I shut my eyes and took a deep breath, the worry melting away under the warmth of the early spring sunlight.  We walked in silence the rest of the way back to the small village of the Wildren, neither one of us needing to talk as we let the natural beauty of Eilé occupy our senses.

Before long, the trail broke away from the crowded trees and blooming underbrush, and spilled out into a spacious meadow of sorts with a few large beech trees standing here and there like living watch towers.  The village of the Wildren itself was composed of several rustic cabins consisting of natural stone or logs topped with tightly-woven, thatched roofs.  Many of the roofs were dotted with green patches of sod or moss.  Some of the houses were single-storied units, a few others standing a bit taller, suggesting a lofted bedroom above the first floor.  They all sported chimneys, for the Otherworld grew very cold in the winter.  I hadn’t lived in the Weald for very long, but since arriving in mid-February, I had woken to find the ground dusted with snow at least three times.

Today, although still somewhat chilly with winter’s remnants, held a brightness to it that promised warmer days ahead.  Devlin and I made our way between the clusters of cabins, pausing every now and then to make space for those moving a lot quicker than us.  A variety of children, ranging in age from early toddler years to late teens, scurried about doing their daily chores or hurrying off to their mid-morning lessons.  I smiled, despite the nagging worry about my magic.  One thing I’d learned for certain in the past several weeks was that Enorah was a gift from the Celtic gods.  Not only did she take all these stray children in, no questions asked, but she insisted on giving each child that came into her care an education in both academics and defense.  The Otherworld was a dangerous place and she wanted to make sure they were prepared should they choose to leave the Weald when they reached adulthood.

Some of the youngest ones, not much older than five if that, sat around in a circle as an adult read to them from an ancient, leather-bound book.  In one open patch of land, the leaves had been swept clean and some more children, these ones a little older, were busily scratching numbers into the dirt as their teacher called out instructions.  Around the communal fire pit a great cauldron hung suspended over a pile of dry wood.  An older woman, probably Lorehnin like Devlin and me, was showing five teenagers how to properly prepare the midday meal, while two others worked diligently to get the fire lit.  Down by the creek, another group was casting lines into the rushing water in the hopes of catching a fish or two.  Beyond the edge of the village, where a large clearing stretched beyond the other side of the stream, several older children were trying their luck with archery.

I grimaced when I watched one misfire and receive a rope burn on his arm.  I knew how he felt.  The longbow and I were not on good terms.  I had received my fair share of rope burns, and being as short as I was, the longbow wasn’t the best weapon for me.  After my fifth attempt at the sport, Enorah had taken pity on me and given me the crossbow to try out.  It had been love at first sight, and anytime I wasn’t studying about the history and social structure of Eilé, or learning how to defend myself against the magical beasts and beings of the Otherworld, I was over at one of the archery ranges, practicing with Venom.

“Are you all packed for tomorrow?” I asked Devlin as we took a left and headed toward our own cabin, leaving the activity in the village center behind.

There were only a handful of cottages that weren’t clustered together with the others.  Enorah and a few of the other adults had their own, private lodges, and when Devlin had returned with me, she had been kind enough to gift us our own place.  Nestled against the small, rocky hillside that sat on the other side of a shallow creek, and spaced a comfortable distance from its neighbors, the cottage I shared with Devlin was a step up from my apartment in San Luis Obispo.  The floor plan was an open one, with the common room, kitchen, pantry, and a small bathroom downstairs.  The bathroom was tiny, but functioned almost the same as those in the mortal world did, so I couldn’t complain.  A lofted bedroom upstairs completed our cozy space, and the many windows let in plenty of outside light.  The furnishings were simple as well, and even though it wasn’t the best place for entertaining, I absolutely loved it.

“Yes, but I noticed you still haven’t packed.”

Devlin’s voice interrupted my thoughts once again, and I smiled with sweet wickedness up at him, fluttering my eyelashes demurely.  I was by no means a damsel in distress, but it was fun to play with Devlin.  To my slight dismay, however, he knew better than to fall for my attempts at innocent seduction.  Curse him.

“Are my charms not working on you?” I queried meekly when he studied me with an unaffected air.

“Not in the least,” he quipped, the brightness in his blue eyes suggesting otherwise.

I sighed dramatically and took several steps forward, moving closer to our cabin.  Over my shoulder I said, “I guess I’ll have to practice some more on Keirney and Donnel, then.   They seemed very eager to help me the last time.”

The smug look on Devlin’s face disappeared in a flash.  Without warning, he struck, his hand shooting out to grab me.  Fortunately, I had put enough distance between us to dart out of reach just in time.  Laughing, I bolted for the door to our cabin, throwing it open and sprinting inside before Devlin could stop me.

I placed Venom and the extra crossbow bolts in the corner as gently as possible, but that moment of pause gave Devlin enough time to catch up.  The air whooshed from my lungs in a startled gasp as he wrapped both arms around me, scooping me up against his chest.  I kicked my feet, not intending to hurt him but hoping to encourage him to put me down.  I squealed in horrified surprise as the two of us began falling backward.  Expecting Devlin to hit the floor, I shut my eyes and waited for the impact.  Instead, I felt him bounce against something soft.  I stilled when I realized he had collapsed into the love seat.  His grip, which had been as unyielding as a vice, melted slowly into a fierce embrace.  Both of us were breathing harder than we should have been, and soon Devlin’s hands were seeking out the skin beneath my shirt.  Oh no.  None of that.

I squirmed away and Devlin let me go.  I ended up sitting across his lap, my hands pressed against his chest.  I wasn’t trying to escape, not really, but I couldn’t have him taking advantage of my momentary weakness, either.  Not if I wanted to keep my wits about me.  I made myself comfortable, sinking further into his essence and pressing my cheek against his chest so that his chin rested on the top of my head.  There.  Hopefully sitting here for a while would cool both of us down.

“Now, are you satisfied?  Or do I have to have words with Keirney and Donnel?” he asked, his voice rumbling in his chest.

I smiled, and even though he couldn’t see it, I was certain it rang clear in my voice.  “Oh, no.  You don’t have to worry about them.”

Tilting my head so that I could get a better look at him, I continued, “You do realize that Donnel is ten, and Keirney is eight, don’t you?”

Devlin’s eyes narrowed, but the humor remained.  “They may be young now, but in ten years or so it will be an entirely different story.”

I sat up and shoved a hand against Devlin’s shoulder.  “Don’t be ridiculous,” I snorted. 
 “They’re like my little adopted cousins.  And besides, I’ve got you. Why would I want anybody else?”

The look Devlin gave me made my heart melt.  Biting my bottom lip, I snuggled up against him once again.  Although I had always portrayed myself as being rough around the edges and wholly independent, it wasn’t entirely true.  My relationship with my foster parents had always been touch and go, and when my father had written to me in college to inform me that he and my mother no longer wanted anything to do with me, I had kind of let that fierce façade crumble a little.  I didn’t want to admit it, but part of me was still pretty emotionally disturbed from their rejection, and Devlin had been there to fill that hole.  I didn’t know what terrified me more: knowing that I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was, or wondering if maybe the reason I loved Devlin so much was because he had been there, in the right place at the right time, when I really needed a friend.

I gritted my teeth at that last thought.  What I felt for Devlin was genuine.  He was fierce and passionate in his own right, and even if my life hadn’t taken such a rocky turn; even if my foster parents had loved me as much as any parent should, I still would have fallen for him.  And I was strong, despite my weaknesses.  I had survived a botched sacrifice, and despite my fears and misgivings, I had embraced my feelings toward Devlin and had come to live in Eilé with him.  Every day that passed, I grew stronger and better at being a young Lorehnin woman in the Otherworld, despite my mortal world upbringing.  And I could have done it with or without Devlin by my side.  But it was oh-so-nice to have his love and support.

“Hey now,” Devlin murmured, shifting me on his lap so that he could look into my eyes.  “No dark thoughts.”

My smile was weaker this time, but I shook my head.  The fact that he could read me so well was proof we made a great team.  Time to snap out of my melancholy.

“Dark thoughts gone,” I promised, holding up my right hand.

“Good,” he said.  “We don’t want Meghan and Cade to think you hate it here.”

That made me laugh and reminded me that I still had to finish packing.  Groaning, I reluctantly pushed away from Devlin and headed toward the stairs to our bedroom.
Upstairs, several articles of clothing, both from home and from Eilé, lay strewn across the bed like discarded corn husks.  The wooden steps creaked and soon I felt Devlin’s presence behind me.  My arms were crossed loosely over my chest and I turned to glance back at him.

“I’m still not sure what to bring.  Will it be cold at Luathara?”

The nights in the Weald had been exceptionally chilly, and winter still hung in the air for most days, but I had no idea if Meghan’s castle would be the same.

“It shouldn’t be too different from the climate here in the Weald, but the mountains will most likely be snowcapped and cold,” he admitted as he stepped forward to help me pick out the appropriate attire.

The two of us were only bringing one pack each, since we planned on walking for most of the trip.  The idea was both thrilling and horrifying to me.  It felt like we were going on some grand adventure found only in the epic fantasy novels I’d read over the years.  Part of me couldn’t wait to discover the Otherworld in this way, but another part was extremely cautious.  I had seen what monstrosities Eilé could produce, and knowing that I’d be traipsing around in the land of faelah and evil wizards who employed the Morrigan’s dark magic made me want to curl up in a ball and hide under our bed for a week or two.

But I couldn’t let myself dwell on that.  The world I lived in now was dangerous, and although I was still very much a novice with regards to my crossbow and self-defense lessons, I’d picked up a lot of new skills since leaving my old life behind.  The visit with Meghan and Cade would be well worth the risk of a possible faelah encounter, and the anticipation of seeing my best friend again, in her new home in Eilé, was enough to burn away the last of my apprehension.

“Well in that case, I’ll pack a few pairs of jeans, some T-shirts and a few sweatshirts.”

I gently shoved Devlin out of the way and started picking from my pile of clothes.  I was able to fit five T-shirts, two of them with long sleeves, three pairs of jeans and a pair of shorts, along with a set of pajamas, into the pack with my spare underwear and socks underneath.  On the very top I placed a heavy hooded sweatshirt, just barely getting the straps buckled to keep it all in place.

When I turned around I found Devlin grinning.

“Will you ever wear any of our clothing?” he wondered aloud.

I crossed my arms and wrinkled my nose at him.  “I do wear your clothing.  But my old clothes will take up less room in my bag.”

He only shook his head, his lips curving into that lopsided grin I loved so much, then stepped forward and pulled me into his arms again.  This time I tilted my head up to his, silently asking for his kiss.  He didn’t disappoint me and I responded back just as enthusiastically.

“We’ll never be ready to leave in the morning if you keep this up,” he murmured, his voice rough and low.  The very sound of it sent shivers down my spine.

“Oh, what’s the rush anyway?” I returned, kissing him again, this time much more thoroughly.

Somehow, Devlin was able to escape my attempts at seduction and slipped away to help the others with some chores he’d promised to attend to before our departure in the morning.
Once alone, I got back to the dismal task of filling all the pockets on my pack with the little things we’d need for our journey.  Just to please Devlin, I added a skirt, blouse, and the bodice Enorah had given me when I had first arrived in Eilé to the lot, squeezing it into the large pocket on the front of the pack.  After checking, and double-checking that I had everything I would need, I carefully folded the remaining clothes and returned them to the large chest on my side of the bed.

Downstairs, the cabin was empty and growing brighter as the sun crested the sky.  Since Devlin would be busy the rest of the day helping with patching roofs, mending fences, and other such chores, I decided to make use of the time by tidying the cabin and getting dinner started.  We would be gone for the gods knew how long, and I didn’t want to tempt any vermin into breaking in while we were away.

Once the kitchen and living room were free of crumbs and clutter, and the stew was bubbling on a pot suspended over the small fire place in the kitchen, I curled up in one of the stuffed chairs beside the window and picked up the book I had started reading a few days before.  The tome was a collection of children’s tales of Eilé, miraculously written in English, and despite their simple plots, I found myself enjoying them.  As my eyes traveled over the pages, reading about fantastical creatures, both evil and benign, I wondered how many of them were real and living in this magical world I had been introduced to.  Perhaps tomorrow, and the days to come, I’d get to see some of these dangerous and benevolent things.  To my delight, the thought left me smiling and eager to begin our journey.   

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Questions for Meghan, Cade, Fergus, and the Morrigan from Teshelle Combs' SOLE Release Bash

Hello Readers!  Oh, it has been far too long since I've posted anything here, and I do apologize for that.  In the upcoming months, I hope to share the first chapters of The Legend of Oescienne - The Ascending and Caelihn (when they are ready to go), so for now I offer you this.  These are the four questions I chose to answer for Teshelle Combs' SOLE Release Bash on Facebook.  I'm posting them here, in case you didn't get a chance to join the event and read them the other day.  I'd also like to thank Teshelle for including me, and I encourage you to go check her out on Facebook, or to take a look at her Amazon Page.  Hope these responses brighten your day a little and I'd love to hear what you think of them (or which of my characters you'd most likely behave like in these situations ;)).  Feel free to comment below, and let me know if you'd like to hear answers to these questions from some of the other characters from the Otherworld Trilogy or the Oescienne Series (again. let me know in the contacts section and I'll see if they are willing to sit down for an interview ;)).
-J.E. Johnson

1. Finally, a break! How do your characters blow off steam?

A) Meghan Elam – I like to relax in my room (the basement apartment in my parents’ house, usually blissfully free of my five little brothers) by kicking back on my bed and either reading a favorite book or listening to some soothing music and just letting my mind relax.

B) Cade MacRoich – I prefer long walks through the countryside of Eile, preferably around Luathara Castle or through the Weald.  If I’ve just gone through my riastrad (my battle fury), then holing up in Luathara and sleeping for several hours, and sometimes days, is even better.

C) Fergus (Cade’s spirit guide wolfhound) – I like to join my spirit ward, Cade, on his long walks.  Sometimes, I’ll go by myself and hunt for renegade faelah, the Morrigan’s demented creations.  It is so thrilling to run them to ground and crush them between my teeth.  Unfortunately, not too many of them are good to eat.

D) The Morrigan – being the Celtic goddess of war and strife, my rage is unfathomable and I find the need to blow off steam an everyday occurrence.  My favorite way to work out my frustration is by tormenting Cade, the Faelorehn Ehriad who is geis-bound to serve me, or by finding some stray Faelorehn or Otherworldly creature to sacrifice.  When I’m not plotting or resting, I’m working on building up my vast reserves of dark magic.

2. A stranger walks up to your characters and slaps them in the face. What do they do/say?

A) Meghan Elam – In all honesty, I would probably be too shocked to say anything.  Who would go up to someone and slap them in the face?  I would probably just grumble and curse them under my breath, and hope that my untrained glamour didn’t do anything crazy.  That happened once before, and I didn’t like it.  A mean boy at school said horrible things about me and I got so upset that I unwittingly hurled a pinecone at his head.

B) Cade MacRoich – Usually if I detect any menace pouring off of anyone, I give them a look that makes them change their mind very quickly.  If someone was unwise enough to slap me, it might just be enough to push my glamour over the edge.  I have pretty good control of my riastrad, but if I’m in a dangerous mood, and someone provokes me, the monster might just burst forth and severely injure them.

C) Fergus (Cade’s spirit guide wolfhound) – If someone slaps me in the face, I would bite them.  No question about it.

D) The Morrigan – The imbecile’s hand would never make contact.  I would use my glamour to stop the blow, then make them believe their arm was on fire as I ripped what pitifully miniscule amount of magic resided in their soul, before finally reducing their body to ash.

3. Surprise! Your characters somehow end up stuck babysitting a bunny for the weekend. What ensues?

A) Meghan Elam – I wouldn’t mind babysitting a bunny at all!  I’d just have to figure out a way to keep my brothers from tormenting it.

B) Cade MacRoich – I suppose babysitting a bunny would be far easier than my usual job of tracking down and exterminating the Morrigan’s faelah.  It might be a nice, relaxing weekend.

C) Fergus – Fantastic!  Will I be permitted to chase it and eat it when the weekend is through?

D) The Morrigan – Bunnies have very little glamour to harvest.  Thank you, ignorant mortal, for the donation of live game.  My hellhounds, the Cumorrig, need a little fresh meat mixed in with their mostly carrion diet.

4. Your characters are stranded on an island. What five things do they bring?!

A) Meghan Elam – One, my spirit guide Meridian, to keep me company.  Two, a journal to write my dreams in.  Three, the mistletoe charm Cade gave to me.  Four, can I count Cade as something to bring along?  Hmm, maybe he should be in the number one slot …  Five, a picture of my family.

B) Cade MacRoich – I would want Meghan to come with me, but just so I can make sure the Morrigan can’t hurt her.  Fergus would be a wonderful companion as well.  One of my daggers, for protection and to use as a tool.  My long bow and arrows for hunting what game might live on the island.  Finally, my good cloak in case the weather turns foul.

C) Fergus (Cade’s spirit guide wolfhound) – Cade would be my first choice (what sort of spirit guide wouldn’t want his spirit ward with him?).  Next, I would say Meghan Elam, since Cade would worry about her and miss her (he won’t admit it, but he pines after the girl).  Meridian, Meghan’s spirit guide merlin, would be a fun addition.  She likes to chase after faelah with me and is helpful in spotting things from the sky.  I would like Cade’s horse, Speirling, to come, too.  That way Meridian and I would have someone else to play with when Cade and Meghan get distracted by one another.  Finally, I think I’d like to bring along a long piece of knotted rope.  Maybe Cade or Meghan will play tug-of-war with me every now and then.  I love that game!

D) The Morrigan – I would never get stuck on an island because I would simply transform into a raven and fly away, but let’s say, for the sake of arguing, I somehow get stranded with no way to escape.  I would need my sacrificial knife, just in case I found something with glamour.  No warrior goddess can go anywhere without her spirit guide, so my white raven would be coming with me as well.  The island might be overrun by upstart peons who are beneath me, so I must bring my Cumorrig to fight off any annoying pests.  I’ll need to establish a new fortress on this island, so I’ll need the throne from my cave.  Finally, I’ll want to bring along my best dress made of black and red leather, the skirts an intricate weave of gossamer, glamour and death.  The best way to garner supplicants is through terror and intimidation, and boy do I look something fierce in that dress.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Special Interview with Michael Ferraiuolo, the Voice of Cade MacRoich

As some of you already know, I have finally decided to venture into the world of audio books.  With the release of the audio edition of Ehriad, I wanted to introduce you to the narrator, Michael Ferraiuolo.  He has done such a wonderful job bringing Cade (and Fergus!) to life so I invited him to answer some questions about his work.  I hope you enjoy this interview and that you'll check out Ehriad on Audible, Amazon, or iTunes. 

1.  What got you started in the audio book production business?

As a singer and a voice actor I find myself constantly finding new ways to utilize my voice. During a recording session I met a gentleman who narrates audio books and he suggested that I might be good at. Let’s hope he was right!

2.  You work for Iron Works Studios.  Tell us a little bit about what goes on there.

I am proud to say that I am the owner of Iron Works Studios. We specialize in the audio production of music and audio books. We also coach singers, songwriters and voice artists in their craft. It is our mission to advocate for the artist in everyone!

3.  Do you enjoy reading outside of narrating books?  If so, what genres do you like the best and do you have an all-time favorite novel?

I am a voracious reader! I enjoy all fiction though I do have a particular love of fantasy, sci-fi, and mythology.

4.  Are there any other narrators or book producers who have inspired you?

Yes! Voice actors and narrators alike have inspired me with their work.  Namely, the great Michael Bell, Jim Dale, Simon Templeman, the late Tony Jay, and Mark Bramhall. 

5.  Do you do anything else besides produce audio books?

I do indeed! I am a professional singer, songwriter, producer, and vocal coach.

6.  Have you produced any other audio books besides Ehriad?  If so, which ones?

I have had the pleasure of narrating the trilogy “The Chronicle of Benjamin Knight”

7.  You use an Irish accent for the character Cade in Ehriad, but do you have a favorite accent you enjoy using while narrating?

Accents are always fun and challenging (especially Cade’s)! One’s natural voice is always the easiest but I can’t truly say I have a favorite. 

8.  In your opinion, what’s the best part about being an audio book producer?

The best part of this job is being able to collaborate with authors and help bring their characters to a new kind of life. As artists we can live in our own creative vacuums and being able to work together to create something new is always exciting.

Thank you so much Michael for taking the time to speak a little bit about your work!  If you would like to learn more about Michael and Iron Works Studios, you can visit the website here:
Ehriad is now available as an audio book from Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.  You can listen to a sample on each of those sites.  Be sure to check out my NEW Audio Books page here on this website too!
Audio Books

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Faery Realms Guest Author: India Drummond

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

Blood Faerie is an urban fantasy that takes place in Perth, Scotland, where I lived at the time I wrote the Caledonia Fae series.

When police discover a mutilated body outside the abandoned church where exiled faerie Eilidh lives, she must choose: flee…or tap into the forbidden magic that cost her everything.

2. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

The Caledonia Fae series is something of a mashup of genre. When asked, I usually refer to Blood Faerie as a “supernatural serial killer” book. I hope that readers who enjoy either crime novels or fantasy will find something about the story they enjoy and possibly a new twist on the themes they haven’t seen before.

3. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

Caledonia is the old name for Scotland, where many of the characters in the series are from and where much of the inspiration arose for me. So it seemed natural to call it Caledonia Fae. “Blood Faerie” refers to the antagonist of the book, a dark, twisted faerie who uses blood magic to kill.

4. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

I design all my own cover art. When I first released the books, I had a picture of a character on the front. When I tested out this new style, my sales jumped dramatically and I noticed a lot more male readers subscribing to my mailing list all of a sudden. The symbology reflects the darkness of the themes, but I also liked the inclusion of the greenery, because not all is darkness. There’s growth, change, discovery, and even love.

5. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Probably the antagonist, Cridhe. It’s really fun to create a character who is completely mad!

6. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

The entire story was first inspired by an abandoned church in Perth. Everything flowed once I asked myself what was really going on inside that forbidden, dilapidated old building.

7. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

Unique? I’m not sure. I think I like what a lot of people like: good food, new places, sunshine, meeting new people. I’m currently staying in Italy and learning to speak Italian. It’s not a talent, though! I find it really difficult to get beyond the basics, but I do enjoy it.

8. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Readers can find me on my Facebook author page and on my blog. For more about my books, check out my Amazon author page.

9. What can we expect from you in the future?

My latest book is an epic fantasy called Spirits of Light and Shadow. It’s the first in a planned trilogy and a bit of a departure from the faerie books in that it’s got a darker tone to it. Still, I hope readers who enjoyed the Caledonia Fae books will like this one too. I’m also in the process of co-writing a book called The Lies Dragons Tell with fantasy author K.C. May. I’m very excited about that project. I’ve never written with someone else before. It’s both challenging and inspiring!

10. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Tell a friend! (Or share the link on social media.) Word of mouth is the best advertising. I know when a friend recommends a book to me, I trust that way more than reviews from strangers or blurbs from the author.

11. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks for hosting me today! It’s been a pleasure!

16. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

Eilidh detected the greasy scent of evil moments before she heard the scream below. She perched in St Paul’s steeple, watching Perth’s late night pub-crawlers through rotting slats. The scurrying footfalls of humans did not hold her interest, nor did the seeping ruby blood that spread quickly over the flat, grey paving stones. Instead, her eyes turned north along Methven Street, seeking the source of that familiar smell.

Evil smelled like nothing else, worse than a rotting corpse, worse than sewage and disease, more vile than the fumes that billowed from modern machinery, more cloying than the shame of drunken whores. This particular evil was fresh, but not quite pure. It mixed with rage but was contained, refined, as though gestated in the belly of ancient hatred. This evil held promise, and for the first time in decades, Eilidh hesitated, slightly afraid.

Thank you India for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Faery Realms Guest Author: Dana Michelle Burnett

Hello Readers!

In celebration of the release of Faery Realms, I will be hosting some of the authors of this fabulous book bundle in the coming weeks and months.

The first author who has been so kind to share her time and thoughts is Dana Michelle Burnett.  Dana is the author of the novel Gypsy Faery Tale Book One.  Instead of doing a traditional interview, Dana thought it would be fun to put together a playlist she uses to inspire her work.  Music is such a wonderful way to feed the creative mind, and I'm glad Dana is willing to share her inspiration with all of us.  Enjoy!

To learn more about Dana Michelle Burnett and her books, visit her website at:

Play List for Once (Gypsy Fairy Tale Book One)

While I was writing my novella Once, I really wanted to surround myself with the look and feel of the world and culture that I was trying to create. To do so, I found music to be the perfect porthole.

The Celts by Enya

I Will Find You by Clannad

The Old Ways by Loreena McKennitt

Galaway Bay by Celtic Woman

Danny Boy by The Irish Tenors

Do you have a favorite Irish song or Ballad?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Faery Realms - Ten Magical Titles *AVAILABLE SOON*


A New Book Bundle Available Soon where Ebooks are Sold!

Hello Readers!
It has been so very long since I've posted on my blog, and I must apologize for that.  These past several months have been busier than ever, and I've been working on two major projects that have taken up much of my time.  The first project, of course, was finishing up Lorehnin, the latest novel in the Otherworld series.  Lorehnin is now available where ebooks are sold and I'm working on getting the paperback ready to go.  You can read an excerpt on my Otherworld Trilogy page and the links to where you can purchase Lorehnin can be found on my Reading Guide

My next announcement is about my latest collaboration project. I have teamed up with nine other fae-themed writers to put together a brand-new, mega bundle of faery books!  Faery Realms will be available next week and includes authors Tara Maya, Terry Spear, Alexia Purdy, Anthea Sharp, Rachel Morgan, India Drummond, Dana Michelle Burnett, Julia Crane, Talia Jagar.
Ehriad will be part of this bundle, so if you've been meaning to get around to reading those scenes from Faelorehn told from Cade's perspective, now's your chance to do so and get nine other titles for just $0.99!  Faery Realms will be on sale for a limited time only, so be sure to look for it this weekend and early into next week.
 FAERY REALMS: TEN MAGICAL TITLES (Multi-Author Boxed Set, novels & novellas)
*Purchased individually, these books cost over $15 – List price $9.99 – Save 90% – Now on sale for only .99 cents!*
Enter the magical realms of Faery with these ten award-winning, bestselling fantasy authors. Each title in this sampler collection offers a new and different world full of mystery, love, and most of all, fae enchantment~
Over 1400 pages of stories, with *exclusive* titles from Alexia Purdy, Tara Maya, and Anthea Sharp! Together, these books have over 250 5-star reviews on Amazon and 150 5-star reviews on B&N
~Best for ages 13 and up~

Kickbutt faerie Violet is about to graduate as the top guardian trainee of her class, but when an assignment goes wrong and the human boy she’s meant to be protecting follows her back into the fae realm, a dangerous plot is set in motion. (298 pages)

THE WITHERING PALACE (A Dark Faerie Tale 0.1) – ALEXIA PURDY *Exclusive Content*
Untold darkness rules the Unseelie realm of the Land of Faerie. Hidden in this vast area, Aveta, the future queen of the Unseelie Army, perfects her gifts over lifetimes. Learning that magic isn't the only way to manipulate the world around her, this naive girl grows into a woman of strength and cunning, ultimately becoming one of the most feared leaders in Faerie.

Rylie’s life is turned upside down when a stranger knocks on the door, claiming to be her real mother. Soon she will have to face the terrifying fact that not only is she a faery, but one that has been promised to the dark prince. (240 pages)

High-tech gaming and ancient magic collide when a computer game opens a gateway to the treacherous Realm of Faerie. Jennet Carter never thought hacking into her dad's new epic-fantasy sim-game would be so exciting... or dangerous. But behind the interface, dark forces lie in wait, leading her toward a battle that will test her to her limits and cost her more than she ever imagined. (65 pages)

Unjustly sentenced to death, Eilidh ran—away from faerie lands to the streets of Perth, Scotland. When she discovers a human murdered by one of her own kind, she must choose: flee, or learn to tap into the forbidden magic that cost her everything. (264 pages)

HOOD & FAE (Daughters of Red Riding Hood) – TARA MAYA *Exclusive Content*
Roxy Hood is just trying to make ends meet to pay her mom’s medical bills. Sure, Roxy takes on some jobs of, ahem, dubious integrity, like pretending that she can speak to the dead. But hey, that’s harmless. It's not like a malignant ghoul is going to attack her. Or a sexy billionaire will show up trying to buy her red jacket. Or a werewolf will attack Granny Rose. Because that would be whacked.

THE DARK FAETERRY SPEAR  USA Today Bestselling AuthorAlicia can recognize the mischievous fae when they show up to "play" with the humans. Only now she's faced with one highly annoyed dark fae and she's certain he knows the truth about her. She can see him, which means her life is forfeit. (184 pages)

Cade MacRoich is Ehríad, an outcast of Eile. While hunting Otherworldly monsters in the mortal world, he discovers Meghan, a young woman whose magic seems very familiar …

Three scenes from Faelorehn – Book One of the Otherworld Trilogy, told from Cade’s perspective. (84 pages)

Harmony's life will never be the same... Every day is just as normal, and just as boring, as the one before it... And then the Carnival comes to town. Suddenly, Harmony’s small town world is overtaken by the handsome Kieran and she discovers that not all fairy tales are pretend. (140 pages)

FAE HORSE: A Faery Tale – ANTHEA SHARP *Exclusive content*
Accused as witch, Eileen flees for her life. When a strange black horse appears, her only hope of escape, she mounts it—to discover the cost of her ride may be more than any mortal could bear. (20 pages)


“It was fast paced, entertaining, witty, and even swoon-worthy at times. Rachel’s characters were fun to follow, and Violet is sarcastic and strong and a force to be reckoned with—everything I love in a female lead.” –Cover2CoverBlog review of The Faerie Guardian

“Turmoil, heartache and unexpected romance - all three are immersed into this tale of the Fae.”— Craving YA Reads review of Dark Promise

“The plot was fast paced and interesting … I can’t recommend the rest of the trilogy enough.” –The Mad Reviewer on Feyland: The First Adventure

"All in all, this is hands down one of the most unique Fae stories I have ever read before- India Drummond has truly created a beautiful world." –Avery’s  Book Nook review of Blood Faerie

“Enter the World of the Fae: Magical worlds aren't just for young adults, I enjoyed this tale and look forward to reading the other books in this series.” –ParaNormal Romance Reviews  of The Dark Fae

“I thought this was a great, quick summer read! Great story combined with bits of mythology and Irish folklore. I read the entire trilogy in a few days.” –Kristin David on Ehriad

"Once I started this book I could not put it down, I had to know what happened next." ~ Amazing Book Come To Life review of Once (Gypsy Fairy Tale)