Category Archives: Shadow World

Shadowbound Excerpt and Giveaway #2!

As promised, below you’ll find a second excerpt from Chapter 1 of Shadowbound.  Just a little over a week to go!

Once you’ve read this lil’ tidbit, the first scene of the chapter in which Miranda is having Vampiric Dietary Angst, comment on this post to be entered in our second giveaway – in your comment, give me the title/artist of a song that makes you think of the Shadow World books.  Any genre, any age; it can remind you of a specific character or scene, or the series in general; maybe it’s the lyrics, or the piano, or the overall feel; it can be off one of my playlists or from anywhere.

I had intended to do a third giveaway later this week, but realized that by the time the contest ended, I got the winner’s address, and got the book in the mail, it would be much less likely to reach him or her before release day on the 25th.  Instead, I’ve decided this time to have TWO winners – two commenters chosen at random will each receive a signed copy of Shadowbound.

The giveaway ends at 7pm, Austin time, on Tuesday, March 18. 

Scroll down for the excerpt!

shadowbound

Just another night at the office.

The venue’s stage door swung open and several black-clad security staff emerged, trying to clear a path from the door to the car waiting nearby.  Dozens of cameras clicked, lights flashing.  A cacophony of voices erupted that drowned out even the sounds of nearby traffic. A moment later, a curly red head bobbed through the crowd, politely refusing interviews.

“Miss Grey!  How are you feeling since you recovered from the shooting?”

“Miss Grey, have you started work on your second album yet?”

“Miss Grey, is it true that the man who shot you was killed while in police custody?”

She kept walking, letting Minh and Stuart keep the way open, until she’d passed through the reporters and hit the small knot of fans that had managed to get to the door before her guards blocked anyone else from entering the alley.

Most of them were bright-eyed young women who reminded her so much of herself…when she was mortal…before she’d gone insane.

These were the people who had given her a career.  She made a habit of pausing with them for just a moment to sign a few CDs and give a hug captured on a phone camera–the image would be blurry, but with the chaos they would blame the phone itself.  It wasn’t much of a stretch; Miranda almost never got a decent shot with her own phone, and hers was ten-years-beyond-state-of-the-art by virtue of her being married to the Fanged Wondergeek.

Finally with a parting smile she took pity on her bodyguards and headed for the car. Harlan held the limo door open for her and she slid in, dragging her guitar along with her onto the seat.

As pretentious as she’d thought it was the first week, she had to admit the limo was a comfortable way to travel; the Lincoln had thrown a rod or something and had to go to an actual mechanic for a change.

The car pulled away from the curb, and she reached into her coat pocket for her phone.  The usual patrol status reports were coming in: situation normal.

“Straight to the rendezvous, my Lady, or did you need to stop along the way?”

She had already fed tonight, but as the high from the show began to abate, already her body was whispering pleas for more blood, and she was starting to get that itching, gritty feeling in her veins.  Just thinking of fresh blood caused her stomach to lurch painfully.

Miranda sighed.  “Stop before we leave downtown, please.”

She’d expended a lot of energy performing tonight.  That must be why she was hungry again so soon; she was just getting used to being back onstage.  Modulating her energy was different now–on the one hand she was stronger, but on the other, working her empathy through her new power was taking some adjustment.  All of that extra power could burn out quickly, leaving her exhausted, if she got it into her head that she was invincible.

But even as she told herself she was just tired and overworked, she wanted to curl up and weep…because she knew it was a lie.

A few minutes later Harlan pulled over.  “I believe this area should provide a nice selection,” he said.

“Thank you.  I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”

It was a warm, humid night at the end of July, a little cooler than average for this time of year but still growing steadily more oppressive.  She and David had both switched to lightweight coats made for rain rather than cold–there were few other ways to walk around town concealing a sword, but their usual leather was a bit much for a Texas summer.

Tonight, though, standing on the sidewalk surveying the scene, she felt a chill move through her.

It had only been ten days since the attack on Hart’s Haven, less than a month since she had become…what she was now.  Since that first night, since she had woken as this new creature and discovered she had killed someone, she had known that all of this new power had come with a price.  She could run faster, fight harder, sense things beyond the perception of even the strongest vampire.  A stake to her heart would no longer kill her.  She could track a lawbreaker across the entire city without breaking a sweat, and she knew there were other changes she hadn’t discovered yet.

But true invulnerability was impossible.  If they were now this strong, this hard to kill, there had to be an equal and opposite consequence.

She left the car and made her way down the street toward a crowded corner where a steady stream of humans crossed from one side to the other.  Drawing near, she moved back behind a building and peered around the corner at them, feeling…what, exactly?

Distant.  Alien. Hungry.

The distance between her and the mortal world had grown so much in such a short time.  She still had friends among them, but night after night she watched humans walking by, completely unaware of the creature whose eyes were sweeping over them, and she felt every inch of that distance, felt a final separation from their ordinary lives…lives that were so fragile, so easily ended.

A pert young Indian-American woman in a business suit caught her eye, and she bent her will against the girl’s, pulling her from the river of mortals and into the darkness, away from her kind, away from everything alive and familiar.

Miranda took the girl’s arm and steered her back against the wall, careful not to hurt her or get her tripped up on the human’s insanely impractical heels.  The girl’s face was a vacant neutral, her consciousness wrapped in shadow so it would never occur to her to struggle.

But if she did struggle…if she tried to run…

Miranda’s teeth dug into her lip.  She imagined the girl bolting, shedding those stupid shoes and running as hard and fast as she could…running for her life…she imagined giving her a head start, holding on to the wisp of her scent, and then running after her…chasing her. 

All of this worrying about injury and tending to their prey’s memories was nothing but a conceit to civility–what her body craved as much as blood was to hunt, to bring the girl down and tear open her throat under the open sky and feel her heart shudder to a stop as her blood soaked into the…ground…

Miranda cried out and stumbled away from the girl, nearly losing her hold over the human’s mind.  She wanted to tell the girl to run away as fast as she could, but was that to save her, or to revel in the bright salt-sweet adrenaline that would infuse the girl’s blood?

Before she could panic at her own thoughts, she pinned the girl back and roughly turned her head to the side to take what she had come for.

She understood, though she tried not to think about, why her teeth had changed.  The second pair enabled her to get a harder grip on a human’s throat, and caused more damage, four punctures instead of only two.  More blood would flow faster…she could finish in half the time.  Lions and wolves had more than two pointed teeth.  Their teeth were designed to tear flesh; a human’s were comparatively flat and dull.  This new design made her a more efficient predator.

It had been tricky but she’d figured out how to change the angle of her head so that she wouldn’t dig in with the second set.  The girl gasped and struggled feebly, but Miranda tightened her hold over the girl’s mind and froze her in place.  Don’t fight.  Please don’t fight. You’ll only make it harder to stop.

The girl tasted so young and innocent…and as she wandered back into the teeming masses of humanity, her hand reaching up to touch her neck, then running absently through her disheveled hair, the Queen watched her from her hiding place, letting the blood run through her and satisfy her…for now…and wondering, with an aching heart, how much longer she would be able to let them walk away.

 

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And the winner is…

Laura!

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 3.12.54 PM

Laura, please email me at diannesylvan at gmail dot com with your address and who you’d like the book signed to, and I’ll get it in the mail ASAP!

Don’t worry, those who didn’t win – I’ll have another giveaway on Monday when I post the next excerpt (I was going to wait until Wednesday but I think it’s a better prize if you get it earlier).  Thank you to everyone who entered!

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Shadowbound Giveaway #1!

shadowboundAs promised – the prize is one signed copy of Shadowbound before you can buy it in stores. 

This giveaway ends Thursday, March 13, at noon (Central – Austin, TX time), so you’ll have about 24 hours to enter.  I’ll announce the winner Thursday afternoon/evening.  The winner will be chosen at random from all entrants.

To enter, leave a comment ON THIS POST – not on Facebook or Twitter, but on this actual blog post – answering this question:

Who is your favorite Shadow World character?  Why?  (The why is optional.)

Good luck guys!

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Shadowbound: Excerpt #1

As promised, here’s an excerpt from the fifth novel in the Shadow World series, Shadowbound, due out on March 25.  There will be another next Monday, so stick around!

From Chapter One:

shadowbound

Every weekend in Austin, families gathered beneath the metal shelters of city park pavilions and held barbecues, birthday parties–piles of gifts, balloons, piñatas, a cooler of beer for the adults.  Laughter and the shrieks of young children would fill the air; the little ones would run back and forth from the tables to the playground.  By the time they went home everyone would be sweaty and tired on a hot, humid July night, but they would be smiling after a day with their friends and family.

They would have no idea that, only two nights before, a corpse had lain on its back atop the same table where the children would sit with their feet swinging and their faces sticky with ice cream.

The pavilion’s lights were all on, and the whole park was swarming with police uniforms.  A pair of overworked homicide detectives oversaw the scene.

One of the detectives, a red-headed, freckled man whose face looked like it would be far more comfortable in riotous laughter than grim determination, looked up from his notepad at the officer who had called for his attention.  “What?”

“Um, Detective Maguire, there are some…people…here to see you.  They said you called?”

Maguire nodded.  Here we go.  “Right, let them through.”

Once upon a time, six years ago, Maguire had caught a murder case that baffled APD. A chance encounter in a strange, dark part of town where the victim had been seen the night of her death brought Maguire into the sights of a vampire…lucky for him, a vampire whose help would get him promoted to detective and help him solve half a dozen cases since, when cause of death was more Halloween than Homicide.  The prince of the city, ruler of the entire South, genius, warrior, and diplomat…and somehow Maguire…and his daughter…had come to call his people their friends.

The officers within the vicinity, to a one, froze in the middle of whatever they were doing as someone rolled back the yellow tape to let in the strangest people most of them would ever see in this city–and that was saying something in a place like Austin.

Four black-clad individuals surrounded a central figure, a man in a long black coat, wildly out of place this time of year. They were all pale–even the black guy looked like he hadn’t had any sun in a while.

They stuck close to their fifth member, who walked like a man who was used to getting his way; in fact, when one of the officers started to protest their presence, the man fixed her with his deep, shadowed blue eyes, and she went stark white, stammered, and moved out of the way.

Maguire held back a smile.

“Detective,” David Solomon, Prime of the Southern United States, gave him a nod of acknowledgment.  “You called?”

Maguire was a decorated military man, had been a beat cop for ten years, a detective for six, and as good as he was at being intimidating, he would never understand what it was about the Prime that commanded attention so completely.  Other vampires were plenty scary, but they didn’t make everyone stop and stare like God had just walked into the room.

“I need you to have a look at this,” Maguire said.  He gestured at the table where the ME had already arrived and was preparing to take the body back to the morgue.

“Is it an Alpha-Seven?” Solomon asked, following him over.

“I don’t think so–it’s a little weird.”

A raised eyebrow.  “Coming from you, Detective, that’s disturbing.”

“Yeah, tell me about it.”

When they reached the table, the Prime drew up short. “Son of a bitch.”

“What is it?” Maguire asked.

Solomon stood over the body, his face unreadable, looking down at the man who had been left there–a white-blond young man in his mid to late 20s.  The body was badly beaten, and one wrist looked to have been slashed, but there was no obvious cause of death unless it was exsanguination; odder still, the ME hadn’t been able to estimate a time of death, because it appeared to her that the body had been kept in cold storage that delayed the onset of decay.  The wounds suggested a battle or crime of passion, but keeping a corpse in a fridge suggested something else altogether.

But what had caused Maguire to call the Haven, what gave him a feeling of unease he couldn’t shake, was what lay on the man’s chest:  a heavy chain, an amulet, set with the shattered remains of some kind of stone.

“This is definitely out of your jurisdiction,” the Prime said.

“I was afraid you’d say that.  What do you need me to do?”

Solomon reached down and picked up the broken amulet.  The ME and several of the Crime Scene Unit people started to dive toward him, each probably ready to yell something about disturbing the evidence, but Solomon merely held up his other hand, and they all fell silent.

He ignored the police completely and stared at the amulet for a minute, troubled.

Maguire moved closer so they wouldn’t be as easy to overhear.  “Is that what I think it is?”

“A Signet, yes.”

Something in his face made Maguire ask, “Did you know this man?”

The Prime looked at Maguire.  “He killed me.”

“Holy shit–that’s the guy?  Well, do you know who killed him?”

Solomon made a slow circuit around the table, eyes narrowed.  “I know exactly who killed him,” he said.  “I just don’t know what they gained from it.”

“Is there any point in an autopsy?” Maguire asked quietly.

“Do not let them do an autopsy,” Solomon said firmly, pitching his voice just loudly enough for Maguire to hear.  “Do whatever you have to do to make this body disappear–get it out in the sunlight and have the paperwork misplaced.  I don’t want the medical examiner running tests.  I would take it but I fear that would create more questions than a clerical error.  You should have called me before the rest of them got here.”

“I would have, but I wasn’t the first one on the scene,” Maguire replied.  “Somebody called it in to 911.  They sent one unit and the officers called the cavalry.  Trust me, I would have left it to you.”

“Someone called it in,” the Prime repeated thoughtfully.  “Someone made sure the body was found before dawn burned it away.”

“Huh.  You’re right.  And that means–“

“They wanted me to see it.”  Solomon nodded to himself, then said, tucking the Signet in his coat, “This is all I need, Detective.  I leave the rest to you.”

“Great.  This should be easy.”  Maguire gave him a wry grin.  “Glad to have you back in the world, Solomon.”

He smiled at Maguire–the sort of smile that made Maguire doubly glad the Prime was on his side.  “I am glad to be back.  Good night, Detective.”

He nodded to his Elite, who fell back into step on all sides of him, and the five vampires walked away, leaving a scene full of detectives, officers, and medical examiners staring at each other with wide eyes.

 

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Shadow World Extra: One Night in Sacramento

At long last, a new Extra! I’ve been holding this one in reserve since Shadow’s Fall, but I think it’s more poignant now that more of the series has unfolded.  It’s a watershed moment in the lives of our heroes, not just emotionally, but for the fate of the entire Shadow World.  I think the best word for it is “bittersweet.”  Enjoy!

In case you ever thought precognition would be a fun gift…

One Night in Sacramento

(Downloads as a .pdf)

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