Friday, December 16, 2016

#Excerpt: TIES OF SMOKE by Claudia Herring

She brought her head up at Neszmbe’s titter of alarm bouncing off the moat, while an ungainly shape limped in their direction. It stopped, then in a burst of sudden speed glided forward, appearing to be blown by a strong wind like a boat upon the water. The cold of the serpent’s body passed through the cloth of her skirt, somehow reassuring.

“An auspicious day and night for your visit.” Ir-A sounded close, as if she had spoken directly into Mehadeh’s ear, yet the magus stood at the spiked wrought iron gate just after the bridge, some distance away. The gate opened, creaking like Ir-A’s voice. Of course, the magus was referring to the Light Solstice. Mehadeh and Neszmbe had been spirited away by the stone before they could participate.

She curled her hand around the stone. It grew warm in her palm as she and the serpent made their way onto the bridge. The moon shone on the rippling water. A large shape surfaced, sinister in the silence, and a creature the size of a calf leapt into the air. The resounding splash barely missed soaking them, as they instinctively ducked and were splattered with cold drops. Mehadeh glanced at the moat and hurried through the gate, her serpent undulating fast before her.

Ignoring the water creature, the magus hobbled up the dirt path. The dark cape she wore swirling her invisible in the night, then revealing her like a misplaced magic trick. To the side, Mehadeh glimpsed fleeting shapes in the moonlight. Were they being followed, or was it just the foliage swaying in the breeze, stirring the stagnant air?

On the wide veranda a three-tiered fountain played the water like music amidst exotic plants, the blooms fragrant in the sultry night. The arched entrance stood open to a dark interior. Without ceremony, Ir-A stepped over the threshold. They followed through a hall, turned a corner and Mehadeh held her hand above her eyes at the brightness of the richly furnished room, lit by chandeliers glowing with hundreds of candles.

The magus dropped her ultramarine cape, which shrank as small as a moth and fluttered up to the candles, blundering into one and bursting into flames. Turning his head at the sparks streaming down around him, Neszmbe switched his gaze to Ir-A, transfixed by the wrinkles that lined her face melting into a smooth dewy complexion, while her wiry white hair thickened into soft blonde tresses. Her tent-like robe grew darker and transformed into a red velvet gown clinging to her now-voluptuous figure.


Lady Lavinia Bramley is master of a Djinni.

Lavinia runs away from her husband to make a life with the djinni Yasir, but it’s not what she thought, not pearls and flying carpets and wishes come true . . .

Her desperate efforts to find happiness with Yasir are foiled by her husband’s reappearance, murder attempts by the jealous magician who cursed Yasir to the urn, and Yasir’s desire for revenge.

Lavinia finds love, and loyalty, are as ephemeral as ties of smoke.



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Claudia Herring aspired to be a baton twirler when she was five and an archaeologist at thirteen. When she became a graphic designer and an author of fantasy, she decided she'd hit upon the perfect compromise.

Along the way she worked as a gift wrapper, a server in a Mexican restaurant at an amusement park (where she rode the Black Dragon at midnight—an actual ride, not a sexual allusion) and an illustrator in medical graphics (where they featured videos on wound healing during lunch) at the Texas Medical Center.

Her novel, His Master's Bride, a historical fantasy with romantic elements set in Regency England, won first prize in the Houston Writer's Guild Novel Competition. Ties of Smoke is the second in the series The Djinn Chronicles.

When she's not delving into the world of the Djinn, Claudia is practicing yoga to go to that hushed space where she imagines and plots her next fantasy novel.

If you like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series or Carol Berg’s Soul Mirror series you'll love His Master’s Bride and Ties of Smoke.

Twitter: @claudiakherring

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