Thursday, April 24, 2014

Guest Blog & Giveaway: Before the Storm by Claire Ashgrove

UFI welcomes Author Claire Ashgrove. Thanks for Joining us!!

What makes me pick up a book, and the top 10 reasons you should read Before the Storm…

Good morning, everybody! Thanks for letting me drop in today and share my new Urban Fantasy, Before the Storm, with you today!

As a reader, there are a few key things that will make me buy the book: a snappy cover, intriguing back cover copy, a promising emotional journey, be that a happily ever after or a tragedy, and intense action. But ultimately, I want a memorable read. And the way to make a book memorable for me also happens to be why you should read Before the Storm

10. Dragons. I need say no more. Except perhaps, “Here, there be dragons.” Which of course is historically known as “Dangerous territory.”
  1. Depth. There’s a deeper mystery both about the world itself and Halle’s calling that unravels page by page. It’s more than just a simple “You have a gift; here’s how you use it” story. I like layers to a story, and Before the Storm has several.
  1. Magic. Not just “poof” and the world is saved. But diverse magic that differs for each clan, that is held to rules and standards…and doesn’t always have the desired outcome. I don’t care for flash and bang, and I don’t care for generics. I tried to avoid all “poofs” as much as possible. Plus there’s a little bit of magical crayons thrown in for a surprise.
7. Intrigue. Do you really know who is on the side of “good”? Not everyone is what they seem. I don’t like to read about cut and dry characters or black and white motives. I like a little bit of twist to change things up, and I incorporated that as well.
  1. Action. I like a lot of action in the books I read, and by action I mean combat. Fights for survival. This became key as I wrote Before the Storm, and I’m proud to say there’s more action here than any of my previous books. At times it exhausted me!
  1. Strong Heroines. Weak-willed heroines turn me off. Perhaps the heroine doesn’t always make the right choices, but at the core of what she is, no matter what she experiences she doesn’t give up and wallow in pity. Halle is strong, although sometimes that strength is mere fa├žade. She’d rather die than appear weak. But one things for certain, she’s not afraid of adversity! Nor is she hesitant to embrace an impossible challenge. I mean, after all, no one has ever before attempted to capture a lich. Let alone someone who doesn’t know how to use her own powers.
  1. Supportive Heroes. An alpha hero is a must for me, but not overbearing and aggressive. I want a hero who will support the heroine, bring the fight to her if it’s warranted, and be unafraid of failure. Before the Storm has not only one of these alpha heroes, but two. Each with their own unique role to play. Question is…will Halle figure out which one she can trust?
  1. Emotion. All the action and world building won’t sell me on a book unless there’s a high level of emotion throughout. It can be romance, it can be anger, it can be gut-wrenching pain. With Before the Storm I wanted to portray a true character journey, and Halle’s road isn’t easy. There’s genuine feeling that spans the gamut.
  1. Romance. I don’t need super sexy stories for memorable reads. But I don’t enjoy a story without some romance, because romance is part and parcel of life. Before the Storm incorporates a good deal of romance, although it isn’t the primary focus of the story. And I do believe you’ll feel the sparks between the characters as well!
  1. Affordable. All factors the same, the number one reason I will choose one book over another, or take a chance on a new author is if the price is affordable. Before the Storm will be available for the first few days of release at only .99 cents. There’s no better time to give it a try!
So there you have it! I did my best to incorporate all the things that sell me on a book, and all told, I think you’ll enjoy Before the Storm a great deal! I hope you’ll take the time to check it out.

Meanwhile, To celebrate Before the Storm’s release, I’m sponsoring a giveaway of a $15.00 Amazon Gift Certificate, randomly chosen from commenters throughout the tour. And I have several opportunities over the next two weeks to win free copies and more gift certificates. To see complete tour dates, and the other release-week events, check out the Before The Storm Tour Schedule!

Building on a background of fantasy game design, a fascination with history, and a lifetime love of books, award-winning author Claire Ashgrove brings to life action-filled, passionate journeys of the heart. Her paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars, marries the history of the Knights Templar with the chilling aspirations of the most unholy--a must-read for speculative fiction fans. She also writes as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire and historical romance author Sophia Garrett.

In her non-writing time, she’s runs Finish The Story, a full-scale editing house co-founded with Bryan Thomas Schmidt. She lives in Missouri and enjoys cooking, studying ancient civilizations, and spending downtime with her two sons and too-many horses, cats, and dogs.

Find Clarie and her books

Before the Storm
Halle Rhoads has a terrifying gift--she can kill with the fury of the storm.

She should have known that kind of power wouldn't go unnoticed. Thrust into a world full of dark magic with a handsome stranger who claims he can teach her, she struggles to master her abilities and stumbles onto a dangerous truth. She's a windwalker, the chosen vessel of the ancient dragons who once ruled the world. Many will stop at nothing to possess the power in her blood, should they discover her secret. With necromancers hunting her and Halle's closest allies guarding secrets, mastering her magic becomes a matter of necessity.

But accepting her destiny is altogether different. For doing so means she must sacrifice everything.
“Halle.” Kale sighed. “We can’t have this conversation here. There’s too many ears around. Come with me, and I’ll explain in private.” 

It was all I could do to not burst out with a derisive laugh. Seven years of living on the streets taught a girl that private encounters with would-be kindly strangers usually left girls dead. “Do you think I’m stupid? I’m not going anywhere with you.” 

“I’m afraid you don’t have much choice.” He rose to his feet, his voice strangely low and hushed. 

Instinct warned me to step back as he approached. My heart kicked several beats, and I reached for the knife I usually kept in my back pocket. My fingers fumbled with the button that held the pocket closed. Before I could work it free, Kale had invaded my personal space. One large hand reached for me. 

I whirled to run. 

He caught me by the wrist. I skidded to a stop after less than a foot. Panic infused me, and I jerked on my arm. I couldn’t overpower this guy, not like the skinny, crack-addicted street thugs who gave me trouble now and then. Everything clicked into place in one, heart-stopping burst of reality. He had been chasing me. Now he had me. And I couldn’t get away. 

I was not going to die out here in the woods, damn it! 

With all my strength, I kicked my leg back, hoping to connect with some vital part of his body and he’d drop to the ground. Instead, my heel jammed into his calf, but he’d moved so close I couldn’t have possibly done him significant damage. He didn’t even let out a grunt. 

Instead, he moved into me, wound both arms around my torso, and trapped my back against his chest. “Halle, be still,” he whispered, “Look.” Releasing one arm, he pointed at the hilltop in front of us. 

I lifted my gaze and met the unblinking stare of two, glowing red eyes. I had to be imagining things.
Or the absence of light was playing tricks on my eyes. I blinked, shook my head, and looked again.
Now, two sets stared down at us. 

Kale’s hand fisted around mine. His hushed voice filled my ears. “Run!” 

I stumbled as he jerked me sideways. But two steps later, I matched his ground-covering stride, my long legs an easy pairing with his. Sapling branches snapped against my shoulders, whipped alongside my cheek. I didn’t feel them. 

For the first time in my life, I was afraid.


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  1. The plot blurb sounds good and how can you go wrong at the introductory price.

  2. What a fascinating book! Love the cover. Thanks for sharing the great excerpt.

  3. Before the Storm sounds like a fantastic read!

    elizabeth @ bookattict . com


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