The Cursed Sea – Book 6 – Dark Tides – Sneak Peek at Chapter One

Chapter One (unedited)

It’d been three days since I lost Henry and the kids to the other side of the portal. Three days that I’ve wandered the grounds of Finn’s childhood home. The Artair Keep. It was beautiful there. Grassy knolls and never-ending skies. Freya’s coop of females littered the keep, tending to daily duties like cooking and cleaning, and chopping wood. They relied on no man to keep the place running and I admired them for it. 

Still…my heart ached for my family.

At least I knew they were safe and sound at home. Mom was there. And the kids had Henry. I just worried for him, for the man I loved. He had no one. I was his world as he was mine and now he was stuck three hundred years in the future without me. Without any way of knowing whether or not I was safe. I tried not to think of the lengths he’d go to in order to get back to me and could only hope that he wouldn’t try. The kids needed him.

But I knew better. Knew my pirate king would tear this earth apart in search of a way back to me. Because that’s exactly what I had done. So many years ago. When the magic of time sent me back to the future, injured and heartbroken with life growing inside of me. I did everything to get back to him and nearly killed us all in the process. I couldn’t let Henry do that. So, I was left with no choice but to get back to him before he did something stupid.

I just hoped the witches had good news for me.

I leaned against the fence made of strong and shaven logs as I watched Lottie hanging laundry out on a line in the distance. It killed me to watch her grieve so silently. Losing her baby had changed her but losing the man she loved had turned her so inward that she almost seemed robotic at times. As stubborn as she was beautiful, she had no idea how to properly process her emotions and, try as I might, she wouldn’t let me in. Instead, she lost herself in work. Keeping her hands busy so her mind didn’t have to be.

Or perhaps she was refusing to let in the dread that loomed over us all about tonight. Gus’ funeral. It’d been a rather rough three days. I’d spent some time with the witches at first, trying to find a way back, to find a loophole. While Lottie locked herself in her room and grieved. She wasn’t ready to put him to rest, so we prepared his body and secured it away in one of the outbuildings until she was ready. But three days was long enough to leave a corpse. It was time to face it, whether she wanted to or not.

So, tonight we bury a friend, and tomorrow I meet with the witches again, to find a loophole that would allow my soulless self to travel to the future. I just prayed they found something. Otherwise, my only other option was to take Benjamin up on his offer to bring me down South to meet with someone named David Jones, a soul dealer. My rational mind fought it, but part of me knew who he really was. The mythical being, the legend of the sea. Davey Jones. I mean, who else could it possibly be?

“Are ye always this much of a deep thinker?” Freya asked as she appeared by my side and leaned over the fence. Her fiery locks blew softly about her freckled face. “Ye seem lost, Dianna.”

I guffawed and turned over, resting my back against the fence so I could gaze out over the moors beyond the keep. “Aren’t I?”

Freya sighed. “I suppose ye are, in a way.”

“In many ways,” I corrected. She was silent as I gnawed at the inside of my cheek. “Serves me right for messing with time, I guess. The sirens had warned me, more than once.”

“The Keepers will help ye,” she assured me.

I shook my head and closed my eyes. “God, I hope so.”

“If nae,” she said with certainty, “I can have a ship readied in two days. To take ye wherever ye need to go.”

I tipped my head to look her square in the face. “I know. And I appreciate it, but I’m not sure Henry could stand to wait while I sail to the Caribbean on a fool’s errand.”

“Fool’s errand?”

I cringed inwardly. While Ben had offered me a solution, I just didn’t believe in it. He’d known this David Jones over a hundred years ago. Myth or not, how could I be sure we’d find him now? What if we sailed all the way down South only to meet a dead end? I couldn’t afford to waste that much time.

I just shrugged it off. “No matter. All I can do right now is focused on one moment at a time.” I tipped my chin toward Lottie in the distance.

Freya hummed in agreement. “Aye, the funeral. Poor Charlotte, my heart breaks for her. So much loss for one person to endure.”

I thought of my own loss then. A much different beast than my friends’, but a painful weight, nonetheless. Losing my mother, my father, Aunt Mary, Gus, even old man Pleeman who’d given his life to save mine. Lives and souls and hearts all breaking in my hands, at my touch. It was all too much to bear at times. I didn’t want that for my friend. I wished I could take that burden for her.

I pushed off of the fence and sucked in a deep breath. “She’s stronger than you think. She just needs…time.” And I headed back toward the main house to wait for the sun to go down.

***

The fire was hypnotic. Hot and blaring with the rage it held within the flames. The heap of burning wood held up a bed of perfect logs that held Gus’ body as it became engulfed in dances of orange and yellow. After Finn had said a few words, the five of us stood evenly spaced around the pyre, encased in our own silences under the midnight sky. It was a clear night, the stars shining down on us like twinkling eyes. Watching our pain, witnessing Lottie’s agony she kept welled up inside. She stood alone in her corner, uninviting, unwanting of our condolences. She just stared unblinking at the flames.

“That’s a sight I hope to never see again,” Benjamin whispered as he sidled up next to me.

I crossed my arms tightly across my chest. “What? The sight of our friend’s body reducing to ash or the sight of our other friend keeping herself together by threads?”

He heaved a long sigh. “Neither I guess.”

“God, just look at her,” I whispered and motioned toward Lottie. She was a shell. Disjointed, cut-off, blankly staring at her beloved going up in flames as if she refused to let the pain reach her heart. I knew exactly how she felt. It was the only way I was keeping myself together after losing Henry and the kids through the portal. “I’m worried she’s going to spiral after I leave, and I won’t be here to help her.”

“So, you think the witches will have a solution for you tomorrow?” I tried to ignore the hint of reluctance in his tone. He didn’t want me to go, I knew that. But neither of us would dare admit it.

I just tilted my head to the side and gave him a warm look. “I-I have to get back to my kids, Ben.”

He let his gaze fall to the ground as he nodded slowly. “I know.” The words were barely a whisper in the night breeze.

I loosened my arms from the tight cross they held over my chest and gripped his arm, causing his muscles to tense under his shirt at my touch. Benjamin stared down at me from his towering height, his brown hair blanketing the sides of his solemn face. “If I could stay, I would. But my whole life is on the other side of that portal.”

He just nodded and his jaw gave a slight tremble as he turned his attention on Lottie. He cocked his head toward where she stood alone. “You best go over. She won’t ask, you know that, but she needs you.”

I gave his arm a reassuring squeeze and he placed a firm, calloused hand over mine. The reflection of the flames burned in those deep brown eyes as they peered down at me with a sort of longing that was hard to ignore. But I had to. Benjamin was my friend, and someone had to maintain the line that he made no secret of his yearning to cross.

I crossed the cool, damp grass and stood next to Lottie. She didn’t even so much as blink to acknowledge my presence, but she didn’t send me away, either. So, I remained and rubbed warmth into my arms where the fire didn’t touch. I was fixated on her eyes, gazing unblinkingly at the body on the pyre. Her husband. She seemed like a doll, so still and perfectly beautiful. Every inch of her face flawless under a mess of blonde waves that hung like a curtain around it. But, underneath it all was a woman writhing in agony. I could feel her pain like a wave that pulsed outward from her body.

“What was it all for?” she croaked quietly, her lips the only thing that moved.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

She gave a tight shrug. “What the hell was the point of any of it?” Wetness pooled in her blue eyes. “Of him loving me, or me loving him?” She wiped at the single tear that broke free and streamed down her cheek. “It’s always life or death. Or loss.” Lottie sniffled then and finally set her pained gaze on me. “You lose Henry and the kids–”

“They’re not lost,” I quickly amended. Surprised at the little dose of panic that punched me in the gut. “I-I didn’t lose them, they’re safe at home.”

I’m the one who’s lost, I thought to myself.

Lottie turned back to the fire. “Gus is gone. And…I loved him more than anything in this world.”

I didn’t have the right words for my friend. Nothing I could say would ease her pain or help with the grief. She had to move through the motions on her own, find herself again. However long that took. So, I continued to just stand with her, to let her know I was there. She wasn’t alone.

But Lottie gave a long sigh as she tightened her jacket around her torso and turned away from the fire. She placed a hand on my shoulder and struggled to look me in the eye. “It’s only a matter of time before you leave me, too.”

I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out as I watched my friend disappear toward the main house. The pyre behind me raged on, heating my back and soaking into my skin beneath my clothes. The burning logs shifted and what was left of Gus’ body sunk deeper into the flames. And in that moment, I realized…I couldn’t leave. Not yet. Not when my family was perfectly safe at home and my friend was here, suffering so greatly. Lottie needed me. I could afford to wait a few more days.

I just prayed Henry didn’t do something stupid in the meantime.

Continue Dianna’s tragic journey in the sixth and final book of the Dark Tides series on April 1st! Be sure to preorder your copy now and be the first to read!

Dark Tides Audiobooks are Here!

That’s right! I’ve delved into the world of audiobooks. I wanted to expand my pirates’ universe and reach even more readers with my Time Travel series and I’m so glad I did. I’ll be honest, I’m actually not an audiobook reader. I’ve tried and tried. But my brain won’t quiet down enough to retain the words. But I was determined to figure out the root of the problem and I finally did.

It’s the voices.

Particularly, the specific voice of the narrator. It has to be the right tone, pace, and have a level of emotion that I just wasn’t getting from a lot of audiobooks I listened to. So, I went on a hunt. It took me well over a year, but I finally found the PERFECT narrator who I could listen to for days. Samantha Brentmoor from Brick Shop Audio and let me tell you…she’s amazing. Not only is her natural voice exactly how I imagined Dianna in my mind, but she nails Finn’s rough and tough Scottish humor. I couldn’t ask for any better.

And I hope you guys love her, too!

Books one and two are complete and available on Amazon, Audible, and iBooks. The rest of the series is in development and will be complete sometime this Fall. So, if you want to start Dark Tides and prefer the awesomeness of audiobooks, now’s your chance! Get The Devil’s Heart and The Pirate Queen right now!

AMAZON AUDIBLE

iBOOKS

You Can Finally Read Iron & Wine Today!

What’s Iron & Wine?

It’s the first book in my Bestselling Paranormal Fantasy Romance Series, The Ironworld Trilogy. But It’s also the very first book I ever wrote…over a decade ago! Needless to say, it was time to show it some love.

Iron & Wine got a total overhaul inside and out. Editing, reworking, extra bonus scenes, plus a new cover by the amazing Majeau Designs! I’m quite proud of it, and I’m stoked to finally share it with readers because it just came out yesterday!

Want to Read a New Excerpt?

I stumbled through the thick woods, nearly falling on my face every with second step. I may have been hallucinating from fear, but it seemed like the trees were…alive. The ones closest to me hovered discreetly, extending their branches toward me and letting their silky green leaves lightly caress my skin as I passed.

When I finally came through an opening to the beach, I ran as far from the forest as I could, but as I approached the water’s edge, I remembered what my friend had warned me about kelpies. I was on high alert as I searched for Lattie, keeping a good distance from the water but also from the tree line.

“Lattie!” I shouted, hoping she would hear me. I wrapped my arms around myself and shivered. “Lattie!”

“I know where your friend is,” spoke a deep, eerie voice. I turned to find a horse sticking its head out of the water; only it seemed a little off. The creature didn’t have a beautiful mane of hair like a horse; instead, it was coated in shimmery black scales and wiry strands for its mane. The creature’s huge, diamond-shaped eyes were tar black, blacker than its scales. It was like some hellish beast, crawling up from the depths of the underworld.

“Really, where is she?” I kept a cautious distance.

“In here, in the water with me,” the creature cooed.

“Well, tell her to come out here, please,” I ordered. “You won’t be drowning me tonight, kelpie.”

The kelpie smiled and slowly floated closer to me. “You are wise to not come in here, little one,” it informed me. “But I do know where your friend is. I will make a trade with you.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t have anything worth trading,” I told it.

“I beg to differ, that bracelet of yours is very pretty.”

I glanced down at the gift Tess had made for me. I couldn’t bear to part with it. But I desperately wanted to get home.

“Okay, here,” I said, holding it out for the creature.

“Would you be so kind as to weave it into my hair for me?” it asked.

I hesitated for a moment but then thought that the kelpie wouldn’t hurt me if we were making a trade. But what if it was a trap? I felt like crying in frustration. I just wanted to go home. But I needed Lattie for that. I walked toward the water creature slowly and shakily, on the verge of tears.

“That’s it, just a little closer,” coaxed the horse monster.

I was up to my knees in the water now, reaching for the wiry mane with my trembling hands. Just as my cold and wet fingers touched the oily wires of the mane, the sharp edges cutting my fingers, someone shouted from behind me.

“Avery! What are you doing?” shouted Lattie. “Get out of there now!”

I turned and tried to run out of the water, but it was too late. I was being pulled under, into the murky depths of the pond. Cold, disgusting water filled my lungs as I struggled to get to the surface.

Just one breath of air! I thought to myself, as I sucked in more water.

I kicked and grabbed anything in my reach, hoping to get free, but all I could feel was the pressure from of the kelpie’s huge hooves holding me down along with its massive fishtail wrapped around my torso. Suddenly, my limbs began to go numb and my chest tightened.

I was drowning, and I was extremely aware of it.

My lungs burned as if they were soaked in gasoline, my limbs ached while my body clung to every last drop of oxygen in my system. Poor Lattie, I thought, she’s too tiny to save me. I hoped she got away. After one more failed attempt to free myself, the kelpie tightened its tail around my body like a snake choking the last dose of life from its prey, and I couldn’t help but close my eyes and accept what was happening.

I was dying.

Find out what happens to Avery and the kelpie in Iron & Wine! Grab it, plus 24 other full-length Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novels for just $0.99, the price goes up on Sunday! Click here to get yours!

Iron & Wine Gets a New Life with Cursed Lands

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you probably know that I’ve got a few books under my belt. I’m currently working on my 15th novel, 5th full length screenplay, and have taken the plunge into audiobooks with my International Bestselling Series Dark Tides.

But, like everything, it had to start somewhere, right? For me, that start was The Ironworld Series. I began writing the first book, Iron & Wine, right after I graduated high school. Picking away at it by hand (I know, right?) in this gorgeous leather journal I had (which I STILL have, for sentimental reasons).

Then I went off to college to study Interior Design and that journal got tucked away at the bottom of my closet, never to be seen again.

Or so I’d thought…

After college, I went off to Alberta where I met my wonderful hubby. I spent a few years perfecting my career as an Interior Designer. Won a few awards. Worked with some amazing people. But when I felt as though I’d squeezed as much joy from that venture, my mind began to wander.

What did I really want to do? What was DREAM?

Well, it was to be a writer, of course. Before I went to college for Design, I’d been accepted to three school for Creative Writing. But I was terrified to take that road. Worried I’d never get a “real job” with it.

So, years later, after I had taken a major detour, I dug through my closet, dusted off that old leather journal, and fell back in love with Iron & Wine. I immersed myself in it. It took four years, but I finally typed those delicious words that every author longs for; THE END.

But was it?

I had no idea how to publish a book, or find an agent, or any of that. I just knew I had a book and I loved it. This was right around the time that the dawn of self-publishing was emerging, so I did a little research and was sold. 100% control over everything? The obsessive control freak in me squealed. Self-publishing was for me.

So, I polished up the manuscript to the best of my ability, had my Graphic Designer hubby create a cover for it, and was on my way. But little did I know…I was a guppy in an ocean of dolphins. I didn’t have an editor, I had zero technical training, and my husband was a specialist in logo designs…not book covers (at the time. Now he’s a multi award-nominated cover designer *proud smile*)

Check out the very first attempt at the Iron & Wine cover! Wow, this sucker brings back memories LOL

But, still, despite my nativity, readers embraced Iron & Wine with open arms. They loved the quirky characters and the majestic storyline of a magical hidden world of Faerie right at your fingertips. Book two, Blood & Bone was birthed from that very same love of readers and the conclusion soon followed; Love & Magic. This series holds a special place in my heart because it taught me A LOT. I learned to follow my dreams, hone my craft, absorb as much knowledge as I could fit into my brain.

Now, almost a decade later, I’m a #1 International Bestselling Author, Award-Winning Screenplay Writer, and about to publish my 15th novel. It was a long road, I put A TON into my craft, built my readership, and took some marketing courses.

Now, here I am once again brushing the dust off Iron & Wine. My ticket that got me into the world of publishing. The platform I built everything on. The book deserves a fresh breath of air. It spent months in editing, both line and developmental. It got a shiny new cover. And what better way to launch this overhauled baby of mine?

With an epic collection of other YA Fantasy books with 20+ other kick-ass authors in my genre! That’s right, the Special Edition of Iron & Wine will be found exclusively in the Cursed Lands box set on May 7th for a VERY limited time. The entire 23 book collection of full-length novels is just A DOLLAR! And you get the Special Edition version of Iron & Wine. After that, when it’s released solo, Iron & Wine will be full price…so make sure to reserve yours now while you can!

CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOURS!

So, for those who’ve never read The Ironworld Series, you’re probably asking, “Well, what the heck is Iron & Wine about, anyway, Candace?”. It’s a YA Fantasy Romance about a human girl accidentally stumbling upon a hidden magical world of mythical creatures. Fairies, mermaids, trolls, vampires, shapeshifters…you name it. Here’s the run down for book one.

Three mythical races. Decades of ancient war. And the love of one girl to save them all.

Going to college was supposed to open new doors for art student Avery Quinn. She just didn’t think one of those doors would be the gateway to another world, a hidden universe full of mythical creatures beyond the realm of belief, cloaked by modern day.

With an evil fairy Hell-bent on her demise and decades of a mythical war coming to fruition…Avery must find a way to help her magical friends end the ancient feud before the effects spill over into her own world.

But when the love of a gorgeous Australian vampire turns her life upside down, Avery finds her heart hanging in the balance…as well as her humanity.

Fans of HOLLY BLACK and MELISSA MARR Will Fall in Love with The Ironworld Series!

And here’s a little snippet from the book!

I nearly drowned. But, as much as the fear was still fresh in my veins, the thought was already beginning to wash away. Replaced by a new feeling. An obsession. I was utterly enthralled with the world of Faerie and wanted nothing more than to explore it again.

Even if it killed me.

So, that’s it. That’s the history of Iron & Wine, the very first book I ever created. It had a long road to get where it is today, and I love it like a first-born child. But you know what the best part of this journey is? The Cursed Lands collection is aiming to hit the USA TODAY list during release week (May 7th-14th). That’s right, if we make our goal, if we hit that sweet coveted list, I’ll become a USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR with the VERY FIRST book I ever wrote! Insane and amazing!

Reserve your $.99 copy now and help us attain that goal. We’ve been working for almost a year towards this and we’re sooooo close. Not only will you be helping us with this dream, you’ll also be getting 23 full-length YA Fantasy novels.

RESERVE YOUR COPY HERE!

PLUS! That’s not all! We have presents!

When you preorder Cursed Lands, head to our website and snag your free gift!! 15 other amazing books! AND, be sure to enter our weekly giveaway! A brand spankin’ new gift card to hand out each and every week.

GRAB YOUR FREE GIFT HERE!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAYS HERE!

Anyhoo, that’s enough ranting from me haha I just wanted to share my decade-long journey with this book. Be sure to check in during May 7th-14th to see how we’re doing with Cursed Lands. Fingers crossed we make our goal! We’ve put our blood, sweat, and tears into this endeavour for almost a year! =)

Have an awesome weekend, readers! *kiss*

The Cursed Lands ‘I Love YA Scavenger Hunt’ is On!

Welcome to my tour stop on the I ❤️ YA Scavenger Hunt, sponsored by the authors of Cursed Lands! This is the FINAL stop on the hunt! So, be sure to look for the secret word below to complete the entry and enter to win!

All the hunt rules are on the main website: http://cursedlandsboxedset.com/scavengerhunt/. But a quick reminder: Find the secret word in BOLD in my blog post below and string it together with the words from all the other hunt stops to win the grand prize $100 Amazon Gift card!

*OPTIONAL: I’m also hosting another giveaway, so make sure you read all the way to the bottom of my post for your chance to win!

This massive scavenger hunt will be your chance to meet some new YA and NA authors, grab a bunch of free books, and sign up to win a whole bunch of epic prizes! In addition to a $100 grand prize, many of the authors will be offering free books and other prizes!

HOW TO PLAY

Each author will be given a special keyword, which will be bolded and all caps like this: CURSED.

All you have to do is visit all the author’s sites in the correct order (laid out below), write down the special keywords in their blog post to discover the short story, then enter the giveaway with the completed secret story on the Cursed Lands website.

There will be one main giveaway for the Grand Prize, but most of the participating authors will also have smaller giveaways for free books, gift cards, or author swag, so make sure you read their post carefully to see what else they’re offering while you’re on their site for the keyword!!!

TIMELINE

Participating authors will have their post up with their secret keyword, giveaway, and behind the scenes info about their Cursed Lands story by February 1! Readers just need to go through the list, find the words, and use the story to enter for the grand prize. The last day to complete the hunt and enter to win the Grand Prize is February 14!

SCAVENGER HUNT MAP

  1. Kim Cresswell
  2. M.K. Chester
  3. Emma Hamm
  4. Claire Luana
  5. Dorothy Dreyer
  6. Elle Scott
  7. A.J. Flowers
  8. Krista Street
  9. Alison Ingleby
  10. Angela Kulig
  11. B. Kristin McMichael
  12. Jenna Lee
  13. Char Webster
  14. K.A. Parkinson
  15. J.L. Myers
  16. Steven Whibley
  17. Michael J. Allen
  18. Lee French
  19. Candace Osmond
  20. Cursed Lands site-ENTER FOR GRAND PRIZE!

First, a little bit about my title in the Cursed Lands box set, Iron & Wine!

Three mythical races. Decades of ancient war. And the love of one girl to save them all.

Going to college was supposed to open new doors for art student Avery Quinn. She just didn’t think one of those doors would be the gateway to another world, a hidden universe full of mythical creatures beyond the realm of belief, cloaked by modern day.

With an evil fairy Hell-bent on her demise and decades of a mythical war coming to fruition…Avery must find a way to help her magical friends end the ancient feud before the effects spill over into her own world.

But when the love of a gorgeous Australian vampire turns her life upside down, Avery finds her heart hanging in the balance…as well as her humanity.

Fans of HOLLY BLACK and MELISSA MARR Will Fall in Love with The Iron World Series!

About the Cursed Lands Box Set

Mysterious strangers. Hidden abilities. Inescapable darkness…

Join our courageous heroines and heroes as they battle demons, governments, and secret organizations in worlds where fae, vampires, angels, witches, humans, and even A PRINCE fight for survival.

Cursed Lands will lead you through one doomed world after another in this haunting dystopian, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance boxed set. Inside, you’ll find 22 exclusive, page-turning tales from today’s bestselling and award-winning authors.

Do you dare venture into Cursed Lands, where magic, danger, and romance lurk between the shadows and the light?

One-click today to indulge in over 100 hours of bewitching young adult and new adult reads in this epic limited time collection.

Reserve your copy for the special pre-order price of only $0.99 right here!

Did you catch my secret word for the scavenger hunt?? If not, scroll back up and search again! Have fun and I hope you win!