Monday, April 28, 2014

Before the Storm by Claire Ashgrove--Blog Tour

She held no faith in magic.  Now, fate is calling her…

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.  

Designing Evil

Good morning, readers! Thanks for letting me drop in today and talk about Before the Storm, my new Urban Fantasy release.

One of the crucial things in any fantasy is the dark threat, the villain, the tangible (or sometimes intangible) evil. It’s the reason we have a journey for the main character(s), nine times out of ten, and it gives us lots of spine-tingling conflict. But there’s something far more than just stating there’s a threat that gives us that wonderful tension.

Designing evil – be that in the form of an intangible power that’s guiding others’ actions, or an actual serial killer on the hunt for innocent victims – is a process of adding layers. In most fantasy why the threat is prevalent isn’t disclosed until closer to the end of the journey. It’s something the main character must discover, and the reader usually discovers right along with the character. This lack of knowing often adds tension and a sense of foreboding.

At the same time, an author can’t just randomly off characters and not tie those deaths into the motivation of the rising dark threat. Doing so is simply writing out a character, not adding depth to the plot. Which means that for each “dark action” the resulting events, dialogue exchanges, or internal narratives have to allude to something more sinister than stumbling across a decapitated caravan driver.

Another layer comes with a global feel to the rising darkness: IE: The dastardly event isn’t just a random act of crime. A quick and easy way to do this is to have interacting characters reference similar events globally, or the main character is already aware of a similar instance elsewhere. Such as his sister stumbled onto a decapitated caravan driver three cities to the south, and there were rumors the north road wasn’t safe for travel as caravan drivers were losing their heads regularly.

At the root of it all though, the dark power, the waiting evil needs to be tangible and have solid motivations. A story will fall flat if the stereotypical villain lets out a maniacal laugh and says, “I just wanted to see what it felt like to kill a man.” Characters can be born evil, can be evil inhuman beings, and can even be controlled by something more evil than themselves. But even then, their actions need to be grounded well to avoid a Charlie Chaplin bad guy.

The rising evil in Before the Storm was
 great fun to write. After all, there’s nothing quite as vile as an archlich who has a whole army of undead at his beck and call. Things can really get dicey for a heroine who’s magic is somehow blocked. I hope you’ll check it out! Now’s a great time as it’s available at the introductory price of only .99 cents.

Meanwhile, leave a comment and let me know what sells you on villains or evil threats. As part of Before the Storm’s release celebration, 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 

Rustling in the trees lifted the fine hairs on the back of my neck. I told myself not to listen, that it was probably a deer or some other woodland creature. Probably seeking the same creek I was looking for.
The sounds grew louder. My pulse jumped several beats. Now I could see branches moving with the lumbering footsteps. Footsteps that were too clunky to belong to a graceful deer. Too heavy to belong to a smaller animal like a squirrel.
Please, please don’t let it be one of those things.
Chills broke over my skin, and my heart felt like it might pound right through my ribs. Instinct demanded I run. And yet, I forced myself to move at an even pace, knowing that bolting ahead blindly would only accomplish getting me further lost.
Damn that Kale. If he hadn’t shown up tonight, I wouldn’t be in this dark, creepy place, stumbling around like a drunk in a carnival house.
Scanning the overhead trees again, I muttered beneath my breath. Where in the hell were the radio tower lights? I had to find them, before whatever was following found me.
A brittle, high-pitched screech broke over the snap and crackle of twigs and dried leaves.
Before my brain logically connected the chilling call with an owl, I was already running hell-bent for leather in the opposite direction, back to where I’d left Kale behind. “Kale! Wait!”
He stepped out from behind a tree, right into my path. I dug my heels in to keep from jamming my nose into his chest. But momentum shoved me forward, denying me any small shred of dignity.
Kale caught me by both elbows, bringing me to a stop even as he drew me closer into his body. Enticing spice, blended with something distinctly outdoorsy filled my nose. His body heat warmed my cheek.
Oh wow. How had I failed to notice he smelled so good? I could fall into him…
None of that, Halle. I jerked upright with a slight cough.
But upright wasn’t far enough. The top of my head fell level with his chin, and as I lifted my eyes, his gaze connected with mine. For the span of one prolonged heartbeat, I looked up at a man who outclassed every male I had ever met. He was bigger than me. Stronger in physical strength, magical ability, and maybe even his will. Nothing I had done all night had intimidated him. Yet there was a softness in his expression, a tenderness I couldn’t quite define that seemed both out of place and wholly natural all at once.
Until a slow smirk took up residence on his gorgeous mouth.

Author Bio:

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.

As part of Before the Storm’s release celebration, Claire’s sponsoring a giveaway of a $15.00 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Certificate. All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below. In addition, she have several other opportunities over the next two weeks to win more prizes. To see complete tour dates, and the other release-week events, check out the

(please be patient it takes the rafflecopter a minute to load)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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