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Monday, 2 November 2015

☀ Children of Lightning [0.5] - Annie K Wong

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for Children of Lightning, a Fantasy by (, Annie K Wong, 143 pages).

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below. Read the first two chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

Author Annie K Wong will be awarding 
1x $50, 1x $100 Amazon.ca gift card and The Hyperion Cantos (ebook or print - winner's choice) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.   Please do take part: comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other excerpts (☀), interviews (ℚ), reviews (✍) and guest blog posts (✉).

Synopsis | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

Synopsis

Secrets beget secrets. The curse that befell the Hollows clan has left them incapable of producing male offspring. To extend their bloodline, they have formed a covenant with the serpentine Ophidians, who give them children. In return, the Hollows must keep these monstrous creatures well fed, though the details of the procurement are so abominable that the truth is never revealed to the other clans. In their homeland of Matikki, they live like outcasts.

Through a series of chance discoveries, the secrets of the ancient curse unfold before a warrior named Writhren Hollow. Is her purely female clan the result of a lapse of divine providence, or are the Hollows themselves victims of an enslavement scheme?

If Writhren frees her clan from the covenant, she risks the wrath of the Ophidians and the future of her bloodline. If she keeps the truth of the curse to herself, she is a traitor to her own kind. Either way, she will suffer for what she must do.

This is not a story of redemption, but regret. This is Writhren’s story, the warrior who will become the villain in the book series following this prequel.

Teaser: Excerpt

PART I

THE SONGS AND THE COVENANT



      The last time Mother drank from Snake River was at Siamese Peaks a couple days ago. From there, she had caught a final glimpse of her village on the distant slopes of Gast Valley, hazy with smoke from hut chimneys on that first day of spring. She sank her head into the burbling stream so her milk-brown hair-snakes could soak up the cool moisture.
      After that, she filled her waterskin before putting on her weapon, a single metallic glove named Wikkenclaw that she fitted over her left hand. On her right hip, for added protection, rested her sword. With her rucksack pulling on her shoulders, she turned away from the valley. On her journey into the Shadowlands, she would neither see nor taste water.
      For two days she negotiated the slopes, sweat dripping down her scale-lined face. Still, she hadn’t found a single Ophidian.
      Above her, cawing with hunger, giant vultures circled over the desolate mountains, their summits and volcanoes feeding the molten River Rend that drained eventually into the Fiery Sea.
      The Ophidians could be skulking in any of these dark alps. But unlike when she was young and eager for adventure, Mother had no plans for a long excursion. At home and under the care of her aunts and cousins, her two young ones beckoned. She would be there now, if not for the call to seek one of the Ophidians for another potentially deadly dance.
      This third child would be her last.
      On the third evening, she trod along a ridge and arrived at the pinnacle of Lonely Mountain’s spine. Onward, the ridge dipped before rising to join the steep, magnificent wall of the summit. Westward, the path was laced with traps and deceptive trails, and next to it, Foul Mountain roared, emitting endless streams of lava.
      She needed a change of plan.
      In the sky, the full moon glowed pale, the sun setting, the dimming light darkening the caramel of her irises. Her gloved hand balled into a fist, and with her right hand gripping the sword’s hilt, she paced along the pinnacle for a clear view of the slopes below.
      After a quick drink from her waterskin, she sang,

My sisters and I, we’re one of a kind.
A special someone we shall never find…
      The evening breeze carried her tune, her velvety voice echoing across the slopes. Her hair-snakes stiffened, her ears perked. From below her came the grating of sand and the rolling of gravel.
      Mother took a deep breath and stilled her thumping heart. Which one of the Ophidians could be approaching? She only needed one. In any case, she could not act like prey lest she would be treated like prey. With calculated charm, she carried on singing,

Lonely is me with fate being so unkind
Lightning struck leaving the lone pluran behind
Who is there to love me? Oh, never mind, never mind…

      “Lone child of lightning, your search for love has not been in vain.” A voice resonated from the rock crevices on the lee side of the mountain.
      The night was fast approaching, and the leeward slope was quickly becoming a patchwork of darkness and shadows. From shadow to shadow, a black shape slipped. With her Wikkenclaw glinting in the last rays of the sun, and her talons sharp and ready, Mother stepped back from the rim and waited for her Ophidian mate.
      According to legend, when the land was young and soft like an infant’s skull, the Ophidians emerged from the molten centre of the earth, slinking through volcanic vents. All seven of these serpentine monsters lurked in the Shadowlands, preying on living beings. They would eat anything, including a snake-haired pluran like Mother.
      Beware of The Small One, the mnemonic rhyme went, he strikes with deadly speed.
      Beware of The Fiery One whose anger is fearful indeed.
      Beware of The Cunning One. With his long forked tongue will your power be undone.
      Beware of The Beautiful One whose gaze will make you melt.
      Beware of The Hungry One who feeds to stretch his belt.
      Beware of The Mighty One who has buried many in unmarked graves.
      Beware of The Pale One also called The Undead. It’s your soul he craves.

      Like the other lucerians, the plurans had their origin on that fateful night when a strange crown of lightning, Lucerie Lightning, appeared in the sky. It struck the erupting volcanoes of Matikki and turned lava into blood. The molten blood travelled, turning stones into bones and earth into skin until the mixture congealed and a sentient being was born.
      Each stroke of the massive thunderbolts created a child of lightning, or a lucerian, as they called themselves. Physical characteristics differed between them, and these lucerians were divided into groups based on their appearance.
      According to legend, the first to emerge from the molten mixture that chaotic night was a handsome figure with an upright torso and toned arms atop a powerful lower body, supported by four hoofed legs, a hotfeet. Following him was his female counterpart. Next came a muscular bi-ped, furry as a yak, with a head that looked like one, a stoutan, who was equal in strength and size as her male partner that was created after her. One by one, the lucerians appeared, each pair different from the last. The skyriders were easily distinguishable by the wings on their backs, while the wetskins resembled upright lizards. Like the hotfeets, the tailwalkers had an erect torso and were bi-peds on land, but their feet morphed into a tail in water.
      As different as they looked, they were all begotten by lightning, created to thrive in the violent land. The last to emerge from the molten lava that night was a female snake-haired pluran, who unlike the other lucerians, was not one being but a multiplicity of beings. Each of her hair-snakes was a thinking creature, so in that sense, the pluran did not enter into the world alone. But the bolt of Lucerie Lightning that created her was the last one. After she was formed, the life-giving force disappeared, never to be seen again.
      Lonely and sorrowful, the pluran grieved in song and the Ophidians were charmed. They agreed to help the pluran conceive if she would serve them. Thus began the covenant that inspired thrill and dread for all plurans. Including Mother.
      From the dark slope, a pair of green eyes narrowed with mischief.
               Let me be your thunder, your lightning and the morning rain
               A new life we’ll create. With you tonight I shall remain…       The creature slithered up towards her. His flat head made the spiky flanges above his eyes all the more striking. With only a third of his body in the upright position, the Ophidian was already at eye level with Mother, who stood six feet tall. His pale full chest, basking in the last glimmer of light, contrasted with his sapphire coloured back. He slid his tongue outward, the forked tips trailing the reptilian plates that wound along her neck and the left side of her face, before greeting her hair-snakes with hisses. His lipless mouth had a sly, friendly tilt. Mother trembled, and in spite of her apprehension, she blushed.
      In front of her was The Cunning One, whose words were not to be trusted. What choice did she have but to dance with him to rhymes and songs, as dictated by the covenant? Continuing with this precarious dance was also the only way to avoid being eaten, so she picked up from his last line and sang,
                Mighty Ophidian of Matikki, long shall you reign.
                Promise me truly, that hope and love you shall never feign…
      The Cunning One edged up against her. He curled his tail ever so quietly behind her, but she stepped away. He paused, his smile fading, only to return with an air of calculating dismissiveness. Leaning to gaze into her eyes, he sung,
               Oh dear… Love is many a splendid thing, including pain.
               Submit to me now. As the saying goes: no pain, no gain…

      Again, he wrapped his tail around her, and lacking better options, she surrendered. His head nudged against her face and torso and she felt his drool drip onto her shoulder. He bared his iron fangs, aimed them at her neck, and by reflex, she raised her left hand. The metallic Wikkenclaw blocked his bite, sparking blue. He hissed with anger.
      “Remove your glove, pluran,” he demanded, his tail tightening around her legs. In a gentler tone, he continued, ”Let me see your hand, so fragrant with roses.”
      With her legs trapped, she could not unsheathe her sword. Her gloved hand was her only means of defence. She tore the left sleeve of her coat and that of the shirt underneath, exposing her upper left arm.
      “And I thought you wanted a dance, not a duel.” The eyes of The Cunning One turned baleful. “I said: remove your glove.”
      Jaws clenched, she threw her metallic glove to the ground, revealing a palm firm with long elegant fingers.
      He twisted himself around her wrist. “So flawless, your hand. Untainted by scars or marks. Sing with me, pluran, sing.”
      Hand quivering, she complied. “Take me now, deep into your heart…”
      “Tonight, we shall never be apart…”
      “Would you give me a son… perchance?”
      “Dear, you’re ruining our sweet romance.”
      “A daughter then, to call my own…”
      “A cure for fear of being alone.
” The Cunning One lifted her hand as he rose.
      Mother grimaced and looked away, her heart pounding.
      “Face me, pluran,” he demanded.
      “Let me see your smile, or you are not worth what I’m about to confer…”
      “Death, you mean.”
      “Life always begins with a little death.”
      He grew pale and heaved as if about to retch, then grimaced and sank his iron fangs into the back of her hand, delivering a rush of burning heat through her. Her hair-snakes trembled, their fangs dripping with venom. Her heart stopped, then pumped again with deeper, more purposeful pulses. Her eyes, heavy with bliss, blinked wide with new clarity.
      As he retracted his fangs and loosened his throttling grip around her, she inhaled and bent over, hands on her belly, the heat ricocheting and writhing in her womb like a thousand serpents.
      “Ophidian…” She gasped and grinned with excitement.
      “Wriven,” The Cunning One said. “The child’s name is Wriven.”
      “Meaning ‘fierce’. Why?”
      “For being the fruit of our feisty encounter,” he explained. “Had you been more… pliant, she might have been a… Tamerie. ” He smirked.
      “Wriven she shall be called then, and I’m ever grateful for your gift.” She kneeled before him and kissed the bite marks on her hand.
      Carefully, she stepped out of his tangled trunk and slipped away, his scent protecting her. As soon as his scent dissipated, she would once again be prey to the Ophidians, including The Cunning One.

Children of Lightning - available NOW!

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

About the Author

Annie K. Wong was born in Hong Kong and lives in Canada, in the west coast city of Vancouver, BC. She has a BA in Business Administration and Creative Writing from Houghton College as well as a Diploma in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia. Although she explored careers in advertising, television and office administration, the desire to write overtook her at the turn of the new millennium. In 2003 she earned a Post-Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College and has been crafting stories ever since.

Her current project is a fantasy series, the prequel of which is Children of Lightning. Connect with her and receive freebies and updates about her book and other upcoming projects.

Follow Annie K Wong:

Visit the author's blog Visit the author's website Visit the author on their Amazon page Visit the author on GoodReads Visit the author on Wattpad

Giveaway and Tour Stops

Children of Lightning is the origin story of Writhen Hollow, the villain in an upcoming book series. In celebration of great villains in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, Annie K. Wong is offering for the tour giveaway 1x $50, 1x $100 Amazon.ca gift card and  The Hyperion Cantos (ebook or print - winner's choice).

An award-winning series from Dan Simmons, The Hyperion Cantos features one of the greatest villains ever written and a storyline spanning hundreds of years across distant galaxies. In this epic space opera, humans are threatened by their own creations, including biologically engineered post-humans, artificial intelligence supercomputers, and their constant internal wars. Amidst the violence and chaos, the protagonists search for life’s meaning through religion, poetry, romance, not to mention strife and battle.

As of June 2015, Syfy Channel is developing the first book, Hyperion, into a TV series, with one of executive producers being Bradley Cooper.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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November 2nd
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VAMPYRELADYS FAVE BOOKS, REVIEWS & OTHER LOVES
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November 6th
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November 9th
Kelly P’s Blog
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November 10th
A British Bookworm’s Blog
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November 11th
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November 12th
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FaeBooks.co.uk

November 13th
Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’
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November 16th
Avenue Books
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A Biblioromance Book Blog

November 17th
Sunshine Book Promotions
Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
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November 18th
Bookwyrming Thoughts
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November 19th
Mom With A Kindle
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November 20th
CBY Book Club
Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions

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