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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

☀ Smoke and Mirrors [1] - Helene Opocensky

Thank you for joining us for a special spotlight on Smoke and Mirrors, a young adult fantasy/science fiction novel by (, Helene Opocensky, 280 pages).

PREVIEW: Read the first five chapters with Amazon Look Inside. Smoke and Mirrors is FREE on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owner's Lending Library.

Check out the book's synopsis and the excerpt below, as well as our Q&A with author Helene Opocensky.


Synopsis | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author |

Synopsis

Tapping into her experience working with families in crisis as an Assistance Attorney General for the State of Connecticut, Opocensky wrote Smoke and Mirrors to encourage children and teens to embrace what makes them special and sets them apart from the crowd.

After Corbin’s mother dies and leaves him homeless, Maxim Moritz Grobian took him under his wing and taught him the magic that was their heritage. Grateful for everything Max did for him, Corbin feels powerless to resist the mission Max assigns him: to bring Max’s estranged daughter to him. Max insists she is the only one who can use the powerful Heartstone to keep mages safe from the Inquisitors that hunt them, so that mages could take their rightful place in the world.

A worthy goal, thinks Corbin initially, but once he meets Lorelei, all he really wants to do is run for the hills. Both afraid of hurting her and endangering himself, he begins to doubt both the mission and Max himself. How could he possibly do what Max wants him to do? He is supposed to gain her trust and even make her fall in love with him.

There is no way — absolutely no way — he was going to do that, not after what she had told him.

Teaser: Excerpt

Preview

They had him cornered. There were three of them, two guys and a pretty dark-haired girl. Corbin figured they were about his own age, sixteen, maybe a little older. He looked at the girl again – well, maybe a little younger. It didn’t really matter. What mattered was that they had him cornered and he had to do something about it.

“Oh, just leave him be, Karl Heinz,” the pretty girl said twisting her mouth into a moue of disgust. Corbin couldn’t tell if the disgust was meant for him or the “Karl Heinz” she referred to. She had the brightest blue eyes he had ever seen.

The blond boy, Karl Heinz apparently, looked over his shoulder at her. “Take it easy, Magdalene. I’m not going to hurt him. He’s new and I just want him to show proper respect.”

Corbin snorted. Somebody always wanted him to show proper respect, to know his place in the scheme of things. Somebody had wanted him to know his place at his old school, the Institute, as well, when he first went there. That was four years ago in Queens, New York. He was twelve then. He was sixteen now and had learned a lot since then. If this Karl Heinz guy thought he was going to be intimidated by him, he had another thought coming. The Institute was a school established as a detention facility for boys who had gotten into serious trouble. Those boys were all convicted criminals and were dangerous.

They meant it when they threatened. This guy was just a normal bully, one who relied on his size and the fact that his friends were standing behind him to intimidate.

Corbin wasn’t the least bit intimidated.

The other boy, the one with bronzy brown hair, put his hand on the girl’s shoulder. “It'll be alright Maggie. We just want to talk to him.”

Corbin felt the anger churning even more inside him. He scowled at the brown haired boy who claimed he only wanted to talk. If he just wanted to talk, why didn’t he talk? He hadn’t said a word. Instead he stood there looking stupid while his big imbecile of a buddy shoved Corbin up against the wall.

Corbin reacted in the only logical way he could. He shoved him back, and took off running. Karl Heinz ran after him and the brown-haired boy, who had been standing behind Karl Heinz gawking, ran after both of them. The girl, seeing them all bolt away, chased after all of them yelling, “Rolf, wait! What are you doing?”

They chased him down the street. It was rough going. This town was a lot different from New York. Corbin had never run on cobblestones before. His footing was uneven and he stumbled as he veered into a side street.

Bad move, the street was a dead-end and he was cornered again.

The blond boy grinned while the other two hung back. The brown haired boy, who Corbin figured was Rolf, was brushing off the girl’s – Magdalene’s or Maggie’s – hand with which she was angrily gripping his shoulder.

Corbin faced them all belligerently. “You want to talk to me?” he spat out. “Well, I got news for you guys. I don't want to talk to you.”

“I’m not interested in conversation any more either,” said the blond boy as he continued his advance attempting to pin Corbin in the corner, and he was pinned. He had only one way to escape – up.

Up was an option.

Corbin laughed at them all. He stretched out his arms and rose on his toes. His arms pulled in the shadows from the surrounding buildings enveloping him in darkness as it solidified around him covering his arms, head and body. He momentarily dimmed and hovered, a large and ominous shadow, spreading black and threatening within the boundaries of the dead end street. The shadow dwindled down in size again, and Corbin stretched out his wings. With one loud “caw” he took flight. Transformed into a large black crow, he rose on powerful black wings, high over the heads of his tormentors.

He watched their startled faces as he circled over their heads. He could hear the girl laughing. “I guess he showed you, Karl. He showed you both. He knows how to turn! So much for the both of you!”

Corbin circled once more and then flew off. He liked the girl. Well, that was nothing new, he always liked the girls, and this one, this one seemed very special. She was nothing like the girls he hung out with at home, his Friday night girls. That’s what he and the guys at school called them, his classmates at the Institute, the very same ones who had initially attempted to bully him. They stopped that as soon as they found out who he was, the protégé of the school’s founder Maxim Moritz Grobian, but that wasn’t going to happen here. Here no one cared about Max Grobian, regardless of all his money, and Friday night was just another night of the week.

It was nothing like home here. At home, Friday nights were special. Friday night was when he went out with his classmates to scout out the resident talent. There was a place near the school where the local teens hung out. It wasn’t much of a place, an abandoned apartment building, but it was a good place anyway, and it was sanctioned by the school. Well, maybe sanctioned was overstating it. It was more that the Institute boys weren’t prohibited from going there. It wasn’t against the rules.

Despite the fact that the Instidudes (that’s what they called each other) were basically felons, they always followed school rules. They knew better than to disobey. They knew how lucky they were that the judge who sentenced them sent them to the Institute instead of to jail. At least the ones who decided to stay at the Institute once their sentences were up realized how lucky they were. They were the only ones who had the freedom to go out on Friday nights to scope out the girls, and those girls were ready and willing to be scoped out by them. They liked the Instidudes. They were different from the neighborhood boys. They had an aura about them, a disreputable past, a sense of danger, and the girls flocked to them like flies to fries left unattended.

Those girls were all nice in Corbin’s estimation. They were all a little wild, all hot in their individual ways, all eager to – Corbin momentarily paused the flapping of his wings and drifted on the air current remembering exactly what the Friday night girls were eager to do. He started to plummet slightly. The air current had changed and he had to start flapping again. He had to forget the Friday night girls. He would not see them again. That was New York. That was the United States. Those days were done. He was in Europe now, in Czechoslovakia to be exact, or to be even more precise in Hexenheim. Corbin had looked up its meaning. Hexenheim was a German word. It meant witch’s homeland, a sanctuary for magical people. He was here because Max Grobian exiled him here.

Corbin stopped flapping his wings and drifted momentarily on the air current again. Down below he saw a small isolated valley nestled amongst rocky crags. A roaring iridescent ribbon of silver splashed between the peaks and cascaded into a clear shimmering pool of water. A trio of trees stood stark and barren next to the pool, their naked brown branches scratching the afternoon sky with long gnarled fingers.

Corbin circled down and landed in one of the trees and then hopped off it. Spreading his wings to catch the air, he descended and landed on the ground as a sixteen-year-old boy. He was proud of himself. That was something new he had just learned: how to turn when he was almost still in flight. No one had taught him how to do that. He taught himself. Not even Max could turn as quickly as he could. The next step was to figure out how to do the reverse. That is jump up into the air and turn into a bird at the point where it had just risen into flight. That would be great!

Then if someone were chasing him, someone like that a-hole Karl Heinz, Corbin would be able to turn on the run and leave him behind. He would've loved to have seen his stupid face then. Ha!

Corbin chuckled to himself as he looked around inspecting the place where he had landed. A blanket of heavy clouds cast a brooding gloominess over the stark late February bareness. The trees, tall and long limbed, stretched into the sky as if they owned it. The stream ripped through jagged rocks and fell roaring furiously into a crystal icy pool. Despite the gloomy atmosphere, Corbin liked it. It matched his mood. What a great place, he thought. Best of all, it was completely isolated. It was wholly surrounded by high rocky peaks, not exactly mountains, but they were high and jagged enough to thwart anyone from just hiking up them. It would take rope and tackle for someone to scale them and reach this valley.

Well, it would take rope and tackle if that someone couldn't fly, but Corbin could fly, and he claimed the valley as his. Lobo’s lair, yeah that was what he would call it. That was a great name. This will be his special place. Someplace only he knew about, someplace only he could go to. Corbin sat down and stretched out with his arms crossed underneath his head. Maybe now that he had this place, maybe Hexenheim would be all right – even if the kids were jerks. Actually it was a good thing that the kids were jerks, Corbin pretended. It made his mission, the real reason Max had sent him here, so much easier.

Corbin shivered from the February coldness and stood up to gather dried wood for a fire. He pulled his wand out of his sleeve and thought about what he needed to do. Did he know a spell that would work for this? He didn’t know the right word for gather but he knew the power word for stockpile, and he also knew the power word for wood. If he put the words together, maybe that would work? He gathered his intent focusing on what he wanted to accomplish, then pushed his intent through his wand while intoning the magical words. Normally, he no longer needed to say a spell out loud anymore. He prided himself on that, but when he was doing something new, it was always better to verbalize the spell instead of just thinking it. He shrugged his shoulders. It didn’t really matter. No one was here to hear.

He closed his eyes. How did he come to this? How did he wind up in magic town, alienated from everything he cared about, on a secret mission for a man he owed everything to?

Smoke and Mirrors - available NOW!

UK: purchase from Amazon.co.uk US: purchase from Amazon.com purchase from Barnes & Noble find on Goodreads

About the Author

Helene Opocensky was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States as a child.

After college graduation, she worked for an insurance company for ten years but, after filing a sex discrimination lawsuit against them, she was hired by her law firm and encouraged to attend law school.

After graduation, she worked for many years in the child support department as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Connecticut.

She has recently released her debut young adult novel, Smoke and Mirrors.

Follow Helene Opocensky:

Visit the author on their Amazon page Visit the author on GoodReads

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