Chandrea Averill thinks she’s just like any other normal young woman. But, on the day of her 23rd birthday, her life changes forever. Surrounded by magical creatures, dangerous sorcery, and insidious political intrigue.
Chandrea desperately wants to return to Earth and the only life she’s ever known. But, the longer she stays, the more she realizes that she may be the only one with the power – both magical and political – to save the people of Lyrunia.
Will she find the courage to remain and fight for her home world?
~ Bewitching BT
The assassination changed everything.
On the day Crown Princess Chandrea Averill was born, the entire Kingdom of Averill celebrated. The streets of Cellia, her capital city, were overflowing with people honoring the birth of the new heir. Food and drink were plentiful and the mood of those gathered was joyous. Songs and laughter echoed gaily off the walls of the great stone buildings.
Those in the know speculated on what powers the crown princess would eventually develop, as no female born of the queen’s lineage ever had the same powers as those who came before her. The form and strength of the magic varied from female to female, but – without fail – magic was present in some form.
The merrymaking went on for hours into the night, and all at the Llireva Palace celebrated. Wrinkled old men sat in the corners, smoking their pipes and spinning grand and fanciful tales of the Averill family. Small children gathered at their feet, listening raptly to tales of magic and bravery. Gaily dressed dancers spun and swirled as the eager audience clapped to the rhythm. Jewels glittered and gleamed in the warm candlelight as they moved, dazzling the eye.
As the night eased into the early morning hours, those who should’ve retired long ago still remained. Sleepy-eyed and =yawning, they nevertheless continued with the celebration even as the moon set on the horizon and dawn approached. Drinks were handed out generously, and drunken, happy people roamed the palace. Staggering about, their laughter filled the hallways of the grand palace. Guards became lackadaisical about their duties, laughing and drinking with their friends as they came wandering by.
This made the attack on the Llireva Palace and those inside exceedingly simple.
The assault was ruthlessly calculated and seamless. Having been there for hours, posing as drunken guests, the invaders easily overtook and dispatched the inebriated guards. Thousands of the enemy swarmed over the palace, slaughtering all in sight, whether guest or staff. Swords and knives flashed in the candlelight, and terror-filled screams filled the warm night air.
Taken completely by surprise, the guests and staff were easily overcome. Some tried to fight back, but were ruthlessly cut down where they stood. Stepping carelessly over the bloodied bodies of the dead, hard-faced officers ordered their men to look for the king, queen, and the newly-born crown princess. The enemy soldiers scattered, each keen to be the one to find the royal family and draw first blood.
One loyal servant – Adelaide – was tasked with caring for the new crown princess while the queen recovered. Like the queen, Adelaide was a powerful sorceress, and served in the capacity of royal advisor and friend to the queen.
After giving birth, the queen had been exhausted and was resting peacefully in her chambers, while the king attended to her. Princess Chandrea was in the nursery, being cared for by Adelaide. So, when the assassination of the king and queen occurred, the princess was nowhere to be found. Enemy soldiers then spread out in search of the newborn.
Unknown to the intruders, in the days prior to her birth, protective spell webs had been cast by Adelaide and the queen in the hallways of the family wing. These spells prevented unauthorized access to the nursery by causing an agonizing death. The magic also alerted the creator of the spells of anyone entering the space. Unfortunately, the queen had been too wearied and depleted from giving birth to act upon the warnings that had been sent by her spells, and thus, she and the king soon perished. But Adelaide was not at such a disadvantage. As the assailants crossed her protective spells, she was alerted immediately by their piercing screams as the magic seared the flesh from their bones.
Adelaide quickly picked up the baby, and with an urgently muttered spell, opened a hidden passageway known only by the royal family and their most trusted advisors. Slipping out of the nursery, she turned and sealed the door with a wave of her hand, eliminating any chance that any marauders lucky enough to have a sorceress strong enough to penetrate the defensive spells could follow.
Rushing down the stairs, holding the princess close to her bosom, she finally reached the bottom. There she entered the back of a large cave. Moving quickly forward to the front, she found herself looking out at the dark expanse of the Averill Bay, named after the royal family who ruled the bordering land. She turned and gently laid the baby in a small depression in the rock, sat beside her, and allowed herself to momentarily succumb to her grief and fear. Adelaide knew that for the invading soldiers to have gotten as far as her protective shields, they would have had to defeat the queen first— and she would have been in no condition to fight them off.
Sitting quietly for a few moments to collect herself and her thoughts, she was able to form a plan of action, and to gather the resolve for what she knew would be required from her.
Taking a deep breath, she stood and faced the now-orphaned crown princess lying on the rocks. Adelaide knew without a doubt that if this tiny child were killed, all hope for Averill, and the surrounding kingdoms and cities that made up Lyrunia, would be lost. The freedom and peace they’d known under the reign of the Averill family and the Triad would make way for a dark and violent time. Above all else, Princess Chandrea must survive not only this night, but also grow safely to adulthood so that she could take her rightful place on the throne.
Raising her hands into the air, Adelaide urgently weaved them back and forth as she cast her spells. Many hours passed as she chanted through the night, knowing that in the palace above her, an intense search for the princess was being conducted, and that she and the baby could be discovered at any time. Her voice grew hoarse and her arms weary, but still she labored on, until, finally, only one more spell needed to be cast.
Sweat-soaked and exhausted, she reached down and picked up Princess Chandrea. Expecting that this would be the last time she held this dear, tiny child, Adelaide cuddled her close for a few moments. Then, looking at the precious little wrinkled face, she gazed directly into the princess’s eyes, and cast her last spell.
Bright, white light blazed forth from the infant, transforming the cave into a dazzling, glittering chamber. Princess Chandrea slowly rose from Adelaide’s hands until she hung suspended in the air. The soft blanket covering her fell unnoticed to the floor. Adelaide’s hands moved in harmony with her voice as she chanted the final spell that would transport the crown princess from Itova—the world into which she’d been born—to another one. The only place that she would truly be safe until she reached adulthood and her powers had fully manifested.
Air swirled madly about the infant and the light grew brighter and stronger. Then, with the sound of a massive thunderclap and a final burst of brilliance, the crown princess vanished.
~ CHAPTER ONE ~
“Ladies and Gentlemen… I give you ODU’s graduating class!”
All around Chandrea, screams and whistles erupted. People jumped up and down, hugged one another, talked over each over, and, in general, created complete chaos. The large auditorium of the Ted Constant Convocation Center was packed with graduates and friends and family, and the happy noise was overwhelming.
Chandrea found herself swept up in the excitement of the group and celebrated alongside them all, handing out congratulations to all of her friends. After a while, she caught sight of her best friend and dorm roommate, Ashlyn Wiles, standing a few rows over. Chandrea worked her way through the crowd to Ashlyn’s side.
“Ashlyn, can you believe it? We did it! We graduated!” Chandrea yelled out over the noise. She grabbed Ashlyn in a fierce hug and grinned. Ashlyn returned the hug with just as much fervor.
Pulling apart, Ashlyn shouted, “Are you sure you won’t come with us to the graduation party later? It just won’t be the same without you!”
Chandrea looked at her friend, and placed a hand on her arm. “We’ve already talked about this, Ashlyn. You know I have several interviews to get ready for. These are really good opportunities for me, and I’m not gonna screw them up!” Tucking a stray strand of long brown hair behind her right ear, she said, “You go on ahead to the party. I’ll catch up with you later at the room, and we can swap stories, okay?”
Folding her arms in front of her and frowning, Ashlyn said, “I understand why you have to get ready, but I don’t know why you can’t come to the party after you get done. This is a once in a lifetime thing, and you’re gonna miss it! It’s not like you get to graduate every day, you know!”
“I know, Ashlyn, but I just have too much to do. Besides my interviews, I still have to pack up all my stuff from the room and get ready to move out.” Then, glancing around uncomfortably at the press of people around her, Chandrea said, “Besides, you know how I am around crowds. They make me nervous, and then I just sit around like a big dope waiting for an opportunity to slip out unnoticed. No thank you. I’ll just meet you back at the room when everything is done.”
Looking resigned, Ashlyn hugged her friend. “All right, all right. You win. I won’t bug you anymore.” Pulling away, she grinned and said, “Knock their socks off, Chani!”
“Thanks, Ashlyn. Oh, look! There’s Denni and Alexis! You’d better get going. I’ll see you later back at the room.”
After a final, quick hug, Chandrea watched Ashlyn make her way quickly through the now-thinning crowd. She admired her friend’s small willowy frame, long honey-blond hair, and natural grace. When Ashlyn reached the other two girls, they all started squealing and hugging.
Chandrea grinned at the sight, then made her way to the auditorium doors and through the congested building. Once outside, she breathed deeply, vastly relieved to be away from the press of people.
She worked her way back to the campus, slowly angling toward her dorm. She stopped occasionally to speak with friends and make or receive congratulations. Feeling the heat of the humid Virginia air through her graduation robe, she took it off, allowing the breeze to cool her skin through the light blouse, tan slacks, and sandals she wore. Tall and lithe, with long brown hair, dark brown eyes, and tanned skin, Chandrea drew admiring stares from the men on the campus as she made her way along the sidewalks of the university.
As she walked, she felt again the heavy sorrow that her parents weren’t here to celebrate this day with her. Her mother would’ve been in the front row, taking pictures with her new digital camera she’d been so proud of. And her father would’ve thrown a huge party afterwards, inviting all their friends over to their house. Popular and well-loved, her parents had been social butterflies. Wherever a party was being held, you could be sure to find them there. Blonde haired and blue-eyed, her adoptive mother had been petite and very athletic. And, though a scientist with the NASA Langley Research Center, her adoptive father had been far from being a nerdy science geek. Tall, dark, and dashingly handsome, he’d had black hair, green eyes, deep dimples, and a belly laugh that could shake the windows. And, not to be outdone by his athletic wife, he’d been a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwan Do. Watching him fight had been like watching a deadly dance.
Chandrea had followed in his footsteps and was up to her 2nd Degree Black Belt designation. Much to the amusement of their neighbors—or dismay, depending on how involved they became—she and her father had often sparred with one another in their back yard to stay in shape and to keep their skills sharp.
Even though she’d been adopted, Chandrea was an only child, as her adoptive mother had been infertile. Desperately wanting a baby, they’d fallen head over heels in love with Chandrea at first sight and had acted quickly to make the necessary arrangements with the orphanage to make her theirs.
The only thing the orphanage had known about Chandrea had been her name, which had been on a small piece of paper tucked inside her clothing. She’d been found lying on the front porch of the orphanage, crying in the humid night air. Not wanting her to lose the only contact she had with her past, her parents had kept her name the same by not legally changing her surname to theirs. Later, when she was old enough to understand, they explained to her that they didn’t want her to lose this connection to her blood ancestors, and promised that if she ever wanted to locate her birth family, they’d help her.
Chandrea was raised in the Hampton Roads region of Southeastern Virginia, and was as local as anyone could get. Throughout her youth, she’d watched many military friends come and go as they were stationed elsewhere. Wanting Chandrea to have roots, her parents made every effort to stay in the Hampton Roads region. They’d owned a beautiful five-bedroom, three-bath home in the rural city of Suffolk, and though it was rather large for just the three of them, the spare bedrooms were frequently used by guests.
After graduating from high school, Chandrea attended Old Dominion University to work on her Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Development. Eventually, she hoped to open her own daycare center.
To ease the financial burden of being a full-time student, her parents had allowed her to continue living at home instead of moving out and living on her own or in a dorm. She’d been grateful for that, as it had made her studies that much easier. Instead of trying to hold down a job to pay for living expenses, she could just concentrate on her studies. The three of them had been blissfully happy together.
In an instant, all of that had ended. The year before graduation, her parents had been killed in a ten-car pile-up on the I-64 interchange involving an overturned tractor trailer.
Ashlyn had organized some friends and had taken over the funeral arrangements, sparing Chandrea from that painful task. But, it had been up to Chandrea to go to the city morgue to identify the battered, bloody, and ruined bodies of her parents. Afterwards, Ashlyn took Chandrea to the oceanfront, and sat and held her as she cried her grief and anguish to the sea.
The weeks after her adoptive parents’ deaths were still a vague blur to Chandrea. Devastated, she’d dropped out of the classes she’d been enrolled in, and had rarely come out of her house. Wandering like a ghost from room to room, recalling every moment spent with her parents, the pain of their loss was almost more than she could bear.
Her parents’ will specified that everything was to be left to Chandrea. As her parents had also been only children, and her grandparents had passed when she was young, there were no aunts, uncles, or cousins involved in the inheritance process. Along with her inheritance, she’d received a sizeable life insurance policy payout that would keep her financially secure for years to come.
She continued to live at home, but after a while realized that trying to be a full-time student and maintain the house by herself was just too much for her. Plus, the memory of her parents haunted her, making it difficult for her to move on. After agonizing over her options, she decided to put the majority of the household items into storage, donate the remainder to charity, and put the house up for rent.
Again, Ashlyn stepped up to assist her in the organization and mobilization of their friends. Sorting through her parent’s bedroom had been one of the hardest things Chandrea had ever done, and though it had caused her many tears, it had also been a catharsis.
Now, a year later, she lived on campus in a dorm room with Ashlyn, and paid a company to manage the rental of her parents’ home. And, even though she was surrounded by many friends, she’d never felt more alone, especially on this day that she and her parents had been looking forward to for so long.
Feeling the suffocating anguish beginning to build again, Chandrea took a deep breath and mentally pushed back the painful memories. Now was not a good time to reminisce. Not with an important job interview coming up.
Once inside her dorm room, she shut the door on the noise and excitement beyond. She sighed and leaned gratefully against the wall, savoring the peace and quiet of her room. Opening a bottle of water, she drank deeply of its cool contents.
Placing the bottle on her small desk, she moved to her closet. There, she pulled out the suit she’d bought the day before. Deep indigo blue silk, the suit was trimmed with delicate cream lace at the neck and wrist’s. Along with an iolite necklace and bracelet set that had been her mother’s, and shiny blue shoes, the outfit was sure to make a good impression at her interviews.
Realizing that precious time had gotten away from her now, she moved quickly. Walking over to the dresser, she got out a pair of nylons and laid them on the bed with her suit. Holding the shoes she was going to wear up to the light, she checked them for smudges. Not seeing any, she laid them on a chair by the bed. Then, going over to her desk, she picked up her bag and pulled out her folder to double-check her resume and references. When she’d satisfied herself that all was as it should be, she put the folder back in the bag and made her way toward the bathroom. Walking in all that humidity called for a quick refresher before she put her suit on!
As she walked through the threshold of the bathroom, a deep, roaring noise filled the small room, echoing painfully off the hard tile walls and floor. Dazzling, vibrant light flared before her, causing her to cry out and cover her eyes in reflex. She fell to the cold, unforgiving floor in horror, certain she was about to die.
~ CHAPTER TWO ~
A rush of hot air caused Chandrea to flinch and try to duck, but she soon discovered that she couldn’t move her body. She strained with all her might to break free of her sudden immobilization, but to no avail. Terror streaked through her. She was paralyzed! Dear God, what was happening?
She tried to scream, to alert the people out in the dorm’s hallway to her sudden plight, but her voice was locked in her throat.
She could no longer see the bathroom she’d entered just moments before. The light was so bright and the rushing air so loud that they completely engulfed her. Tears streamed down her cheeks as her fear overwhelmed her.
After what seemed an eternity, the light began to dim, and the air to subside. Slowly, she became aware of her surroundings, but they were not at all what she expected. Instead of the small dorm bathroom that should’ve been there, she found herself looking out at a large body of water. It was bright and sunny over the water, but cool and dark where she stood. Realizing that she could finally move, she glanced around. What she saw dumfounded her.
She was standing at the entrance of a cave high above sparkling water! She jerked her head around, taking in the dark walls of rock, the pitch-black of the rear tunnels, and the debris that surrounded the front of the cave.
Standing in shock, her breath coming in panting gasps, she could feel her heart pounding painfully. This was not real! This had to be a dream, or a reaction to food, or dehydration from the heat, or something! It wasn’t real. It simply couldn’t be!
Forcing herself to stand still, she closed her eyes and took deep breaths to calm herself. I’m not standing in a dark cave, she told herself. I’m in the bathroom in my dorm room. I’m getting ready to go on my interview. When I open my eyes, I’ll be in the bathroom.
Steadier now, she slowly opened her eyes, hoping desperately that she would be looking at herself in the mirror in the bathroom. But, as she opened her eyes, it became clear that it was simply wishful thinking, for she was still inside the cave.
Panic overtook her again as she realized that something was seriously wrong. Backing up with quick little steps, she slammed painfully up against the rocky wall of the cave.
Glancing around again for any sign of the reality she’d left, she only saw rocks, debris, and small bones. Hyperventilating and dizzy, she slid down the wall and to the floor. There, she huddled into a small ball, overwhelmed by her surroundings.
However, paralyzing fear can only last for so long. After what seemed like forever to Chandrea but was actually only a few minutes, her breathing calmed and her mind started functioning again.
“What’s going on here?” she asked to the cave at large.
Shakily, she attempted to rise to her feet, using the cool, rocky walls as support. The adrenaline rush hadn’t worn off, and dizziness and nausea overtook her again. Fighting for control, swallowing and breathing deeply, Chandrea fought off the feelings, until, at last, she was able to stand.
“Okay, Chandrea, there’s got to be a logical explanation to all of this. You just have to find it,” she said to herself. She began to search for something, anything, that would lead her back to normalcy.
She walked to the front of the cave and took her first good look at the water beyond. It stretched as far as the eye could see. To her right, there were sharp, jagged cliffs towering upward, and the water crashed upon the rocks below. Directly beneath her and heading away towards her left was a long, white beach.
Moving forward as far as she dared, Chandrea craned her head and neck upward, trying to see the top of the cliff the cave was set into, but could see nothing but rocks and sky.
She frowned and moved back into the cool interior of the cave and wandered toward the back. Looking at the walls to see if there might be a hidden door or some kind of writing on them, she almost missed the small, dirty blanket lying on the floor.
She bent, and, picking it up in her hands, gently shook out the dirt and leaves that had collected on it. Turning it this way and that, she peered at it, wondering if it might somehow be of use to her. To her surprise, she saw writing on it and squinted at it, trying to determine what the letters were. However, the light was too poor where she stood and she moved to the front of the cave again. Once there, she held out the blanket to the bright sunshine and suffered her next big shock.
There, written on the blanket, in a language she’d never seen, but could nonetheless somehow read, was her name: Chandrea Sariah Averill.
“What the—” Chandrea began, but didn’t have time to finish the thought, for she heard a noise behind her. Her breath caught in her throat, her heart sped up, and panic threatened to overtake her again.
Spinning around to meet whatever threat was there, she was met instead with a startling sight. An older woman, perhaps in her sixties, was quietly standing there looking at her.
Short and plump, she had short, curly graying hair and faded blue eyes. She was dressed in a short-sleeved green top, loose tan pants, and sturdy black boots. There was an air of authority and power around her, but also, strangely enough, the look of a kindly grandmother who would, at any moment, hand out cookies and milk.
“Who are you?” Chandrea demanded. “Where am I? How did I get in this cave?” she said, gesturing agitatedly about with her hands.
The woman stared at Chandrea, appearing awestruck. “Oh. Oh, my dear— is it really you— after all this time?” breathed the woman.
The woman shook her head in wonder as she moved slowly toward Chandrea. “Look at you! You are fully grown, and the spitting image of your mother.” Upon reaching Chandrea, the woman raised her hand to gently caress her face.
“The last time I saw you, child, you were just a babe. And now, you stand before me a woman! And my queen.” Defying her age, the woman dropped to her knees and bent her body forward until she touched Chandrea’s feet. “Welcome home, Your Majesty! Welcome home,” she said reverently.
Chandrea looked down at the woman in amazement. “Your Majesty? What on earth are you talking about?” she demanded. Then, the words of the woman began to sink in: “the spitting image of your mother”, “the last time I saw you, child, you were just a babe.” This woman knew her birth family! She knew her real history!
She grabbed the woman’s arm and hauled her to her feet. “Who are you?” she asked again. “How do you know me?” she whispered harshly.
The woman took a deep breath and let out a sigh. “I have planned all these long years how to tell you what you need to know, and yet, I now I stand here speechless. How could that have happened?”
She shook her head and closed her eyes for a few moments. Then, taking Chandrea’s hand, she led her over to some large boulders at the side of the cave, and there, gestured for her to sit. Once Chandrea did so, the woman joined her.
“My name is Adelaide Dyana Lahey. I was a sorceress, and an advisor to your mother, Queen Kelaya Nia Averill. The day you were born, the palace that sits above us—your home—came under attack and your parents were assassinated. You had been placed in my care, and I was able to sneak you down into this very cave to safety. But that safety was only temporary, for there was an intense search going on for you and it could only be a matter of time before we were found. I could take no chances on the enemy finding you, so I made the hardest decision I have ever made in my life: I sent you away. Away from Itova. Your birth world. I created a portal between worlds and sent you to the world that you have been living in for the past twenty-three years.” Obviously miserable, tears rolled down Adelaide’s cheeks and dripped down upon her hands.
Absolute astonishment reflected on Chandrea’s face and her body felt numb. Her stunned mind sorted through all the things Adelaide had told her.
None of it could be true, of course. There were no such things as sorceresses or magic portals, or enemies attacking palaces and killing the king and queen. The woman was surely mad and spouting stories of fairytale happenings. Glancing around uneasily, realizing that she was alone with what appeared to be a crazy woman, Chandrea wondered how she was going to get out of there.
But that was a problem, because she still didn’t know where “there” was.
Adelaide glanced back up. Upon seeing the distrustful skepticism on Chandrea’s face, she frowned. She gently sucked her lower lip as she rubbed the material on her pants with her fingers. Then, looking more determined, she started to speak. “My Queen, you are no doubt full of questions, and I am the only source to answer them for you. So, allow me explain things in more detail, and then perhaps the picture will become more clear.”
At Chandrea’s hesitant nod, Adelaide continued. “You come from a long line of sorceresses on your mother’s side. Your mother was a strong and talented sorceress who was well loved by her people. The match between her and your father, King Braedon Ramir Gairdon Averill, started out as a politically arranged one, but evolved into one of love.
“When she discovered she was pregnant with you, her first child, she positively glowed with happiness.” Sitting quietly, with her hands folded in her lap, Adelaide’s eyes grew distant as her memories took her far away into the past. “The order was given to prepare the nursery for your upcoming birth. Bedding, clothing, toys…all the things that a baby would need were moved in and then arranged just so by the queen. When all in the nursery was ready, Queen Kelaya summoned me. Together, she and I cast protective spell webs around the nursery and all the hallways leading to it to ensure your safety. These webs were powerful spells meant to sear the flesh right off of the bones of any person who dared to enter them without royal permission. The webs were also designed to warn she and I if this were to occur.
“When the palace was taken by the enemy, your mother and father were resting in their chamber. I was in the nursery caring for you. When the webs warned me that there was danger, I grabbed you and escaped through a secret passageway leading down to this very cave. That night I cast many spells to ensure your safety during the time that you would be gone from our world, and to assist in your return.”
Chandrea broke in at this point of the story, too overwhelmed to restrain herself any longer. “Are you trying to tell me that I’m in some kind of fantasy fairy world now? There are a couple of holes in your story already that I can see. First, if I was sent to another world and grew up speaking English, then why are you speaking English to me here in this world? Wouldn’t you be speaking a language that would be foreign to me?
“And second, if I’m a sorceress, wouldn’t I know that by now? Don’t you think my ‘powers’ would’ve…manifested or something?” Frustrated, Chandrea stood, folded her arms, and started to pace.
“Your Majesty, I am not speaking English to you,” Adelaide replied.
Chandrea turned her head sharply and stared at Adelaide in disbelief. She opened her mouth to argue the point, but Adelaide held up her hand to stop her. “The reason you can speak, read, and understand this language is due to one of the spells that I placed on you the night I sent you away. I tried to think of all the transitions you would need to make once the spell brought you back, and thus tried to counter them.
“For your second question, had you grown up here, your powers would have normally manifested as you matured through your youth. You would have had training to learn how to control them. But, not knowing the world I was sending you into, I did not know if your powers would make you an outcast or not. So, I cast a spell to block them. Now that you are safely back in your own world, you have access to them. But, be warned, Your Majesty, you are a novice still and have a long way to go to learn control.”
“So, what, if I just wave my hand and say ‘Hocus Pocus,’ fire will shoot out of it?” Chandrea demanded angrily. “This is ridiculous! You expect me to actually believe this?”
Moving closer to Adelaide, almost face to face now, she said, “Enough is enough! We’re not in some magic fairy tale world; we’re not great and powerful sorceresses; I don’t have super-natural powers that will just happen to appear.
“You want to know what I think has happened? I think somehow you drugged me and brought me here to this cave out on the beach. You see the water out there? I bet that’s the Chesapeake Bay. Lady, you are one seriously messed up person, and I’m getting out of here before you really go over the deep end!”
Turning, Chandrea went to the front of the cavern. There had to be a way out of this stupid cave! Craning her neck, she discovered a cleverly made, partially hidden staircase. The steps had been carved from the face of the rock itself, and were slick from the spray of the water below.
Chandrea took a bracing breath then slowly eased herself off of the ledge and onto the stairway. With her back against the wall, she carefully made her way down step by step. Looking down at the beach below, she grimaced with anxiety, for she was several stories up. A fall from this height would not end well.
Chandrea heard Adelaide’s voice over the roar of the water – barely. She glanced up to see Adelaide’s face creased with concern. “My Lady! Please! Do not go down that way! It is too dangerous! There is another way. Please, come back up and I will show it to you.”
Aggravated, Chandrea muttered to herself, “Yeah, right. There’s another way. I’ll just bet there is. She just wants me to come back up there so she can have a captive audience to her delusions!”
Ignoring Adelaide, stair by stair, Chandrea made her way closer to the beach below. Her hands scratched painfully against the rock as she slid her way along. So much for my manicure, she thought to herself in disgust. Her clothes were now smeared with heaven only knew what and she didn’t even want to contemplate what she would smell like when she was finished with this ordeal.
As she neared the mid point of the stairway, she suddenly stopped, stunned. Adelaide was standing on the beach below!
Heaving a great sigh and laying her head back on the rock, Chandrea looked skyward. Okay, fine. There was another way down. And now she’s down there, and I’m stuck on this stupid wall, Chandrea thought. Rolling her eyes, she got back to the task at hand: getting down to the beach.
It took her another ten minutes to work her way down the stairway. When she finally made it to the sand, she sat down gratefully, panting from her exertion. Eagerly, she glanced around, looking for familiar landmarks. Would she see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the distance? The Boardwalk and hotels? Carriers at the Naval Base? Jets flying overhead from the Oceana Naval Air Station?
She saw none of those things. Not one. What she did see, however, brought her to her feet with a gasp.
1. What would you say inspired you to write it?
Its strange…Initially, I wasn’t inspired to write the story so much as I felt challenged to simply write. Not to brag, but I’ve always known that I am fairly decent with the written and spoken word. But, when I attempted to draft documents for work, my bosses always red-lined 90% of what I wrote before I was allowed to send things out. It was extremely frustrating to me, as I knew that there was nothing wrong with what I’d written…it was just too long and had too much extraneous detail for them. One day I found myself at my computer just wishing I could write something for pleasure instead of business. Something where length and extraneous detail were not only accepted but encouraged! And, from that, Chandrea was born.
2. What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist?
There really wasn’t a source of inspiration for my protagonist, Chandrea. However, my antagonist, Leilah, was based off of a woman I knew whose mercurial mood swings could leave your head spinning. One minute she was your best friend, chatting you up, smiling and laughing. The next minute, she could turn on you and verbally cut you to shreds without hesitation. And, while she was always right (why wouldn’t she be…after all the universe did revolve around her, didn’t it?), she was never at fault. Needless to say, I was very happy to leave her company.
3. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
Writers block will definitely sneak up and smack me upside the head every now and again. Usually, I will try to work things out on my own, and often, I can do so. However, when I need outside assistance or opinions, I will reach out for help. First I will go to my son or my best friend, who are both devilishly smart and can come up with really great ideas for plot twists. Second, I will go to www.fantasywriters.org and post my questions in their forums. I’ve gotten some amazing help there!
4. Your all time favorite book?
My favorite book isn’t a book…it’s a series. I dearly love Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series.
5. What made you pick that one above all others?
I’ve read and re-read them countless times, and always walk away with something new. He is an outstanding author and storyteller.
6. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
I feel that can be answered two ways: (1) It took me about four years to complete my first book. (2) If real life doesn’t get in the way, I can sit all day and into the night working on a project I enjoy.
7. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Absolutely. I have learned so much in the last few years…writing, editing, graphics, formatting…it makes you really pay attention to what goes on behind the scenes for the person who wrote the book. It really is a labor of love…not only for the author, but for those who have to put up with the author! 😀
8. Was there ever a time, during your work for the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
It wasn’t a matter of giving up so much as “where the heck does the story go now???”. At one point, I had writers block for months. 🙂
9. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?
Against his will, Chandrea’s new love turns on her, kidnapping Chandra and Ayden and delivering them to Leilah in faraway Svara. As all three are prisoners, they must find a way to escape Leilah before time runs out for all of them!
10. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?
Yes! I have already completed the 2nd book in the Averill Series and it is being edited now! I am working on the outline of the 3rd book and will dive in to the writing of it soon
11. What made you decide to go the self-pub way?
Lets see…ask 10,000 times for an agent to represent you, another 10,000 times for a publishing house to take you on, possibly wait for years for anything to happen, then get maybe 10% of your royalties for all your hard work and keep little to none of your rights to your book? OR…work really hard as an indie, learn how to do things yourself, publish when you want, how you want, earn 50% and up of your royalties, and keep ALL the rights to your work. Not much of a choice for me.
12. What would you say was the toughest part?
Learning everything from scratch…though you can find almost ANYTHING on YouTube!
13. Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
Heck yes, and I was very happy I did. I’m good, but I’m not that good.
14. How did you decide who to hire, if you worked with pros?
I lucked into my editor, John C. McClain, through Linked-In, who was a blessing from the start. My formatter, Karen Phillips, was recommended to me, and I researched and found my cover-artist, Fiona Jayde. All of them have been highly professional and personable.
15. How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to self-pub to when you hit ‘Publish’?
The writing portion of my 1st novel took about four years. The research was ongoing during that time, and became very pronounced at the end when I was ready to publish. The publishing process took several weeks, mostly because I am a new author and had to set up numerous accounts and ensure they worked correctly. I expect the publishing process for any future novels to be much quicker.
16. Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
I am out on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble Nook, iBooks, and Kobo. All of those are distributors through Smashwords.
1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
The money to allow my disabled mother to live more comfortably.
2. Name your favorite fruit.
Mmmmm…fat, ripe cherries.
3. Coffee or tea?
4. Favorite season?
Summer! I love the smells and colors!
5. Favorite food for breakfast?
Scrambled eggs with chopped ham, onions, mushrooms and green peppers. Yum!
6. Latest book you’ve bought and read?
Dean Koontz – His Odd Tomas Series
7. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
Green…the color of life.
8. Drama or comedy?
Probably drama. Nowadays, comedies are usually ridiculously stupid and crude instead of clever and funny.
9. Have a fav quote or personal motto?
If you don’t like it, fix it.
10. Cats or dogs?
Cats. Though I love dogs, I need the more mellow personalities of cats.
11. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
Dinner with a good book. LOL
About the Author & Links:
Marlene Wynn is a Utah native – fondly referred to as “Utonian” by a friend. She transplanted herself in 1992 from the majestic Rocky Mountains to the beachy shores of sunny Virginia Beach, Virginia and has been there ever since. Though she has worked in the benefits field for several years, she finally worked up the courage to chase her dream as an author