Spotlight & Excerpt: Mountain of Flame + Giveaway

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On Tour with Prism Book Tours
We’re celebrating the release of the third book in the Gems of Fire series, Mountain of Flame! Today, the author shares an excerpt from the third book Mountain of Flame. If you missed her character interview with Anna, you can read that HERE. She also shared an excerpt from the second book Valley of Bones HERE. Plus, there’s a giveaway to enter below. Enjoy!

Gems of Fire
(Gems of Fire #1)
By Diane E. Samson
Young Adult Fantasy
Paperback, ebook & audiobook, 276 Pages
November 6, 2018 by Clean Reads

Palace of Sunderland. Paradise to the peasants. Prison to sixteen-year-old Anna, daughter of the king. She can never escape the castle’s cold walls and scorning disapproval of her father and his brute royal counsel, Seamus. She’ll always live in the shadow of her late mother, the queen. Will they ever see her for who she really is?

A riding accident lands Anna in the hands of traders who sell her as a slave in distant Kasdod to none other than her father’s enemy, Lord Anwar. After overhearing a dangerous plot to conquer Sunderland and kill the royal family, Anna must escape and warn her father, even if it means facing her greatest enemy.

With the doom looming over her, Anna is approached by a dangerous man in the dark. He claims to want to help her, but can she trust him with her secrets? The perils of the journey ahead will push Anna to the limit and answer the one question that has always plagued her…

Will she ever be enough?

Praise for the Book

“What an exciting book to read. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The characters were very well developed, and it made me cheer for them all the way through. The cover is very dramatic and fits very well with the story. Great read.” – Goodreads Reviewer

“One Tough Princess…A princess who despite great suffering never gives up. I really loved Anna’s determination and heart. You’ll find adventure, high stakes and romance in the midst of such horrible circumstances. A solid plot with a story that stayed with me.” – Amazon Reviewer

“A breathtaking journey into royal courts, slavery, escape, war, and love. This book has it all…” – Amazon Reviewer

 

(Affiliate links included.)

Valley of Bones
(Gems of Fire #2)
By Diane E. Samson
Young Adult Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 370 Pages
February 13, 2021 by Diane E. Samson

 

Princess Anna is left to rule Sunderland as regent when her father, brother and her presumed fiancé Jack ride to battle devouring creatures in Jack’s home kingdom of Oclen. She must establish herself as a strong leader with the Sunderland council and a neighboring king who brings along two handsome princes to negotiate an alliance.

Trouble erupts as outlining Sunderland villages are attacked by pillaging marauders and the council loses confidence in Anna’s leadership. As Anna waits in trepidation for word from her father’s army, all she hears is silence. Her scouts never return. When the reports of a coming horror reach Anna, she forges an unlikely alliance and forgoes her father’s long-standing policies against gems of power. She trains Sunderland’s remaining soldiers to fight with gems. She’ll lead them to battle to rescue her family and the one she loves.

But first she must survive the treachery brewing in her own court.

(Affiliate links included.)


 

Mountain of Flame
(Gems of Fire #3)
By Diane E. Samson
Young Adult Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 450 Pages

August 4, 2021 by Diane E. Samson

Reeling from Jack becoming king of Oclen, Princess Anna returns home as Sunderland’s Defender. Earning her title was a hard-fought honor, but Anna can’t escape the guilt of leaving Jack alone in that cursed, starving place.

When Jack comes to Sunderland seeking aid from Anna’s father, she must decide whether to return with him and help defeat the curse plaguing the cold northern land. If she remains Sunderland’s Defender, she knows her heart would never forgive her for abandoning Jack to rebuild a crushed kingdom.

Can Anna leave what she loves to become queen of a people suspicious of her and the gems? Joining Jack would mean battling an evil greater than anything she’s ever faced, for the curse’s roots grow deep. But if she doesn’t, Oclen will likely fall and Anna will lose Jack forever.

(Affiliate links included.)

Excerpt from Mountain of Flame

A group of soldiers on the slope ahead halted their horses, their hands flying to their swords. Anna used her last ounce of strength to stop Farley before he ran right into them, the reins tearing through her water-softened hands. He half-reared and skidded to a stop, puffing and blowing. Anna patted his foam-flecked neck. Her arms and back trembled with exhaustion, and her side screamed in pain.

Zac launched over the hill behind her. “Anna!” He pulled up next to her. “Are you all right?”

She gave him an apologetic glance. Her breath hitched in her chest.

Twelve men in Oclen uniforms shifted their horses into a tight triangle formation. Two horses stood at the point and five horses down each side. Zac’s hand twitched to his sword as he moved his horse closer to Anna. She was faintly aware that Bart and Gavriella rode up behind them.

“Greetings,” Anna called, as she let the reins slide through her fingers. Farley strode forward a few steps before she halted him again, cringing at the pain in her hands. He chomped on the bit and tossed his head. She searched for Jack’s chestnut horse to no avail. “What news do you bring from Oclen? Is your king well?” Her heart hammered against her ribs. None of the men looked familiar.

“At ease,” the one voice Anna wanted to hear most spoke from the rear. The soldiers’ formation split as Jack’s chestnut horse, Avery, moved up the center of the triangle and halted in front of her. Farley nickered. Jack looked so different—thin with deep, purple circles under his eyes and pale, sunken cheeks. “The king is alive, at least.”

Excerpted from Mountain of Flame by Diane E. Samson, Copyright © 2021 by Diane E. Samson. Published by Diane E. Samson.


About the Author

Diane E. Samson grew up on acreage just north of Kansas City, Missouri, with horses and dogs in the backyard. She later pursued her love of words and earned a degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. After graduation she worked as a reporter, managing editor, freelance writer and in public relations. After moving around the country, she’s recently returned to the Kansas City area where she lives with her husband, children and golden retriever.

She’s written fiction off and on her whole life and is the author of the YA fantasy Gems of Fire series including Gems of Fire, Valley of Bones and Mountain of Flame. The series centers on a girl traveling a journey of self-discovery in a world of powerful gems, supernatural forces, epic battles and of course, handsome heroes.

Tour Giveaway

Print copies of Gems of Fire and Valley of Bones by Diane E. Samson, a $25 Amazon gift card, three gem necklaces, and bookmarks (US only)

Ends September 19, 2021


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Spotlight & Excerpt: Mountain of Flame + Giveaway

Banner - Mountain of Flame
On Tour with Prism Book Tours

 

We’re celebrating the release of the third book in the Gems of Fire series, Mountain of Flame! Today, the author shares an excerpt from the second book Valley of Bones. If you missed her character interview with Anna, you can read that HERE. Next, she shares an excerpt from the third book Mountain of Flame. Plus, there’s a giveaway to enter below. Enjoy!

Gems of Fire
(Gems of Fire #1)
By Diane E. Samson
Young Adult Fantasy
Paperback, ebook & audiobook, 276 Pages
November 6, 2018 by Clean Reads
*

Palace of Sunderland. Paradise to the peasants. Prison to sixteen-year-old Anna, daughter of the king. She can never escape the castle’s cold walls and scorning disapproval of her father and his brute royal counsel, Seamus. She’ll always live in the shadow of her late mother, the queen. Will they ever see her for who she really is?

A riding accident lands Anna in the hands of traders who sell her as a slave in distant Kasdod to none other than her father’s enemy, Lord Anwar. After overhearing a dangerous plot to conquer Sunderland and kill the royal family, Anna must escape and warn her father, even if it means facing her greatest enemy.

With the doom looming over her, Anna is approached by a dangerous man in the dark. He claims to want to help her, but can she trust him with her secrets? The perils of the journey ahead will push Anna to the limit and answer the one question that has always plagued her…

Will she ever be enough?


Praise for the Book

“What an exciting book to read. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The characters were very well developed, and it made me cheer for them all the way through. The cover is very dramatic and fits very well with the story. Great read.” – Goodreads Reviewer

“One Tough Princess…A princess who despite great suffering never gives up. I really loved Anna’s determination and heart. You’ll find adventure, high stakes and romance in the midst of such horrible circumstances. A solid plot with a story that stayed with me.” – Amazon Reviewer

“A breathtaking journey into royal courts, slavery, escape, war, and love. This book has it all…” – Amazon Reviewer

(Affiliate links included.)

Valley of Bones
(Gems of Fire #2)
By Diane E. Samson
Young Adult Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 370 Pages
February 13, 2021 by Diane E. Samson

 

Princess Anna is left to rule Sunderland as regent when her father, brother and her presumed fiancé Jack ride to battle devouring creatures in Jack’s home kingdom of Oclen. She must establish herself as a strong leader with the Sunderland council and a neighboring king who brings along two handsome princes to negotiate an alliance.

Trouble erupts as outlining Sunderland villages are attacked by pillaging marauders and the council loses confidence in Anna’s leadership. As Anna waits in trepidation for word from her father’s army, all she hears is silence. Her scouts never return. When the reports of a coming horror reach Anna, she forges an unlikely alliance and forgoes her father’s long-standing policies against gems of power. She trains Sunderland’s remaining soldiers to fight with gems. She’ll lead them to battle to rescue her family and the one she loves.

But first she must survive the treachery brewing in her own court.

(Affiliate links included.)


Excerpt from Valley of Bones

“You have a kind heart, Princess.” He stared out the doorway. A shadow fell across his features. “But it will not save you from what’s coming.”

“What’s coming?” Anna whispered. He faced her. Pure horror reflected in his eyes.

“My men and I were on the North Sea. Our ship was destroyed by beasts off the north coast of Oclen.”

“Beasts?” Anna’s heart skipped.

“It’s the stuff of nightmares.” His voice was low, his tone measured. “They boarded my ship from another boat and went on a killing rampage. We had to abandon ship. A fraction of my men made it to shore in a few small boats. My beautiful ship sank in those bloody waves.”

Anna shuddered. More beasts.

He was silent a long time. He pursed his lips and studied her. “Sit down. I don’t want you fainting.”

Anna lowered herself to the fur rug. Her eyes didn’t leave his face as a slow roil churned in her gut.

“Hopefully some of the beasts went down with the ship, but many followed us to shore. They swam a mile in the cold North Sea in the dark.”

“How is that possible?”

“These things are not human.”

Anna blinked. The man from Oclen had warned them. Her head spun.

“Many of my men died. There was nothing I could do. Our swords bounced off their hides. Our arrows did not pierce their skin.” He grabbed the wine bottle and slumped down next to her.

Excerpted from Valley of Bones by Diane E. Samson, Copyright © 2021 by Diane E. Samson. Published by Diane E. Samson.


Mountain of Flame
(Gems of Fire #3)
By Diane E. Samson
Young Adult Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 450 Pages

August 4, 2021 by Diane E. Samson

Reeling from Jack becoming king of Oclen, Princess Anna returns home as Sunderland’s Defender. Earning her title was a hard-fought honor, but Anna can’t escape the guilt of leaving Jack alone in that cursed, starving place.

When Jack comes to Sunderland seeking aid from Anna’s father, she must decide whether to return with him and help defeat the curse plaguing the cold northern land. If she remains Sunderland’s Defender, she knows her heart would never forgive her for abandoning Jack to rebuild a crushed kingdom.

Can Anna leave what she loves to become queen of a people suspicious of her and the gems? Joining Jack would mean battling an evil greater than anything she’s ever faced, for the curse’s roots grow deep. But if she doesn’t, Oclen will likely fall and Anna will lose Jack forever.

(Affiliate links included.)


About the Author

Diane E. Samson grew up on acreage just north of Kansas City, Missouri, with horses and dogs in the backyard. She later pursued her love of words and earned a degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. After graduation she worked as a reporter, managing editor, freelance writer and in public relations. After moving around the country, she’s recently returned to the Kansas City area where she lives with her husband, children and golden retriever.

She’s written fiction off and on her whole life and is the author of the YA fantasy Gems of Fire series including Gems of Fire, Valley of Bones and Mountain of Flame. The series centers on a girl traveling a journey of self-discovery in a world of powerful gems, supernatural forces, epic battles and of course, handsome heroes.

Tour Giveaway

Print copies of Gems of Fire and Valley of Bones by Diane E. Samson, a $25 Amazon gift card, three gem necklaces, and bookmarks (US only)

Ends September 19, 2021


Grab Our Button!

Spotlight & Author Interview: Charm Wars + Excerpt

Charm Wars

Charm Wars Book Cover

Charm Wars
By Dan Lutts
Genre: Young Adult–Fantasy, Dystopian

Welcome to Caldon, a land of mages and magic, where the noblesse possess massive political and magical power and destroy anyone who threatens the noblesse way of life—especially the commoners.

Rill Larkin, the son of a commoner blacksmith, has high ambitions. To be a mage, join the exalted ranks of the ruling noblesse, and establish his own noblesse family. Defying both the system and his family, Rill becomes the apprentice of Deuth Estati, a powerful archmage. But appearances deceive. As training progresses, Rill learns of decades-long secrets and manipulations that threaten his dream. And Deuth might not be as benevolent as Rill thought.

Alyse Dejune despises magic, even if she does belong to one of the oldest and most powerful noblesse families in Caldon. The deceits and treacheries of noblesse life and the loveless marriage alliances among the noblesse families disgust her. Her family however has high expectations: that she fulfill her role as a noblesse girl by marrying Troy Estati, an arrogant, selfish noblesse boy she does not love. And Alyse harbors a secret—the potential to become one of the most powerful mages in generations and wield forbidden magic—that, if revealed, could mean her death.

In this deadly game of ever-shifting alliances, where the state wages perpetual war against an ancient enemy, Rill and Alyse are thrown together in a land where magic is failing. And as greedy noblesse families raid surrounding family compounds for powerful charms, Rill and Alyse are left standing at a terrible crossroads.

Goodreads / Amazon


Excerpt:

“If a charm seeker did open this tomb, why did she take the charm from that one Old Mage but not his staff? And why did she leave all the other charms and staffs behind? I wonder—”
“How fortunate for me she did,” a voice said behind them. “And how unfortunate for you.”
Rill and Jedd whirled around.
Just inside the entrance stood a skinny, middle-aged man of medium height. His gray tunic and tan pants were dirty and patched and his boots old and scuffed. Oily, unkempt hair framed his pockmarked face. In his right hand, he held a staff. The light from Rill’s and Jedd’s torches danced shadows across his face, making his malevolent grin appear even more evil.
A blacksmith’s vise clamped Rill’s chest making it hard for him to breathe. A rohan! A backwatcher or protector—either a mage or a bladeswoman or bladesman—who had been expelled by a noblesse matriarch for breaking her oath to serve and protect the matriarch’s family. An outcast from society no other noblesse First or Lesser Family would touch. A woman or man who was lower even than the criminals, dagger women, and prostitutes living in Caldon’s most dangerous neighborhood, The Slums.
Rill’s gaze fastened on the rohan’s left hand that clutched something beneath his grimy tunic.
A charm.
“Actus,” the rohan mage said, his sinister smile showing he’d deliberately spoken the word loud enough for Rill and Jedd to hear.
Rill eyed the staff, his stomach paining him. The rohan had activated his charm. All he had to do now was point the staff at a target and cast a spell. Rill’s gaze slid to Jedd, who appeared as rigid as a marble statue.
With exaggerated slowness, the rohan aimed the staff at the gap between Rill and Jedd, then deliberately moved it from one to the other. His lips drew up into a cruel smile, making Rill feel like a mouse being toyed with by a cat.
Rill choked on a lump of regret. Why didn’t I listen to Jedd and leave the coffins alone? We could of been partway home by now. I could of been a mage. But now I never will be.
Slowly and deliberately, the rohan inhaled a mouthful of air and said, “Luco!”
Rill’s frightened breath blended with Jedd’s when the crystal burst into life, and white mage light flooded the tomb.
The rohan laughed as if he’d just watched a first-rate comedy routine as he stepped several paces forward. “Scared of a little light, boys?”
Rill’s gaze jumped to Jedd. His cousin was glowering at the man, his hands balled into fists.
The rohan smirked at Jedd.
Slowly, keeping his eyes on the rohan, Rill moved his hand toward his sword’s brown leather grip.
The rohan must have had invisible eyes in the side of his head. With a chuckle, he casually pointed the staff at Rill. “Foolish boy. I can kill you before your sword’s half out of its scabbard.”
Rill let his hand drop to his side.
“Tsk-tsk,” the rohan said, drawing closer. “Naughty boys charm seeking. That’s a death offense. Unless you’re mages, of course. Are you mages, naughty boys?”
“You know we ain’t,” Rill said through clenched teeth.
The rohan stepped forward a few more paces until only a staff’s length separated them. “When I came across your well-fed and groomed horses a while ago, I thought that maybe their owners came from good families. Families with money. So I went looking for you. My goodness, you weren’t hard to find. Not with all that racket you made in here with the cougar. Boys with horses and swords. And purses hanging from their belts.” His gaze riveted itself to Rill. “And with such interesting things inside.”
Rill’s heart froze into a lump of ice as he forced himself to return the rohan’s stare. He saw me take the charm.
The rohan flashed them both an evil smile. “So I said to myself, ‘Self, I bet those naughty little boys are carrying some nice shiny gildas in their purses. Or maybe even a goldie.’ You got any?”
“Why don’t you come closer and find out?” Rill said. He’d tried to sound cocky, but his voice broke halfway through the question.
The rohan grinned, obviously enjoying himself. He pointed the staff at Rill. “Naughty boy. I hope you don’t melt.”
Terror ripped through Rill like a barbed arrowhead.
He had only moments to live.


Author Interview:

Question 1:
What inspired you to write this book? OR Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?

Answer:
The inspiration for Charm Wars came one day when I thought up the ending of the book. (You’ll have to wait until Book 4 in the series to read that.) I don’t recall what sparked the thought, but I immediately began thinking about the characters, their world, and a rough plot.

I love YA fantasy and dystopian novels. But most of the ones I’ve read, even when they have strong female characters, take place in mostly male-centered worlds. So I developed a female-centered world: Caldon. (Hence the saying, “The men receive the honors, but the women have the power.”) I even went a bit further by using female-centered phrases and words, such as “women and men” instead of “men and women,” “she and he” instead of “he and she,” and “woman made” instead of “manmade.” (In Book 2, Revenge of the Estati,” Caldonians won’t say “humanity,” but “huwomanity.”) When I first met the woman who would become my wife, she was heavily involved in the Goddess movement. She inspired me to have the Caldonian religion center around goddesses instead of gods. The world of Charm Wars continues to be a work in progress, and I’ll be interested to see what other ideas my mind comes up with.

Question 2:
What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?

Answer:
Phew! I learned a lot of things, and am still learning. I’m a self-published author. I revised Charm Wars five or six times before publishing it. That was a challenge in itself. But I also faced a host of other challenges, some of which were quite frustrating until I successfully learned them. I already knew editing is important, and part of my regular job involves editing. But I never realized how crucial editing was until I received my marked-up content edit from my main editor, along with a few books on writing she recommended I read before revising the manuscript. Her suggestions, content edit, and line edits made a huge difference in the book’s quality. The line edits and proofreading by yet another editor did too. I also had to learn how to put the manuscript into a book template, which filled me with frustration for weeks and weeks until I finally figured out how to do it properly. Now that I have all that experience and knowledge under my belt, dealing with Book 2, Revenge of the Estati will be easier.

I also learned that, besides writing Charm Wars, I also have to promote the book, as I’m doing now on this blog tour. Promotion can be a full-time job in itself. I had to research best ways to promote the book and then identify promoters I wanted to work with. All that costs money, and I had to determine how best to use it.

In short, I had to learn four basic things: how to create a compelling book, how to market it, how to finance it, and how to track expenses. That’s an awful lot to learn. A friend of mine has been successfully self publishing books for four or five years. I mentioned to her that doing all this was, from my own experience, a steep learning curve. She responded, “Yes it is. And I’m still learning.”

Question 3:
What surprised you the most in writing it?

Answer:
What surprised me the most in writing Charm Wars was how heavily involved I became with the characters. I actually found myself crying when I was proofing some of the scenes. I mean, I’ve done that with some books other authors have written. But my own?

Question 4:
If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?

It’s not a spoiler, but part of the Charm Wars world. From the very beginning of Caldon’s founding, there has been a huge shortage of charms and staffs. The reason is simple. During the Great Destruction, the refugees from Euloria could bring only a limited supply of charms and staffs when they fled across the Rocky Strait to the territory that became Caldonia, and the city of Caldon. The continent they fled from is now called the Forbidden Lands, and Caldonians who went there to gather more charms and staffs never returned. But charms and staffs are vital to the survival, prestige, and power of Caldon’s First and Lesser Families. They strive to amass as many of them as they can. To do that, they stage charm raids on enemy First and Lesser Families’ fortress-like compounds.

Question 5:
Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?

Answer:
No. Real people didn’t inspire any of my characters. I determined what each major—and some minor—characters wanted, which was a job in itself. I wrote biographies of each one.

Question 6:
Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?

Answer:
While the big moral lesson will come in Book 4, Charm Wars has at least three moral lessons. First, wanting something badly enough can lead to moral corruption. Second, stick up for what you think is right, despite the consequences. Third, strong friendships are important.

Question 7:
What is your favorite part of the book?

Answer:
I have several favorite parts of the book. One of them is the bond of friendship that slowly develops between Livia and Rill.

Question 8
Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

Answer:
I think creating Rill Larkin was extremely challenging. He has a lot of good qualities, but his overpowering ambition to become a mage at any cost often overwhelms them. He hurts a lot of people, including his family, in trying to achieve his goal of becoming a noblesse and starting his own commoner-noblesse family. But I didn’t want to make him into a bad or evil person, just a misguided one. I hope I succeeded.

Question 9
What are your immediate and future plans?

Answer:
My immediate plans: I want to complete Revenge of the Estati and have it ready for release by the end of 2022. I also am fleshing out the third book in the series. Plus, I need to continue marketing Charm Wars.

My future plans: Write the third and fourth books in the Charm Wars series. I also want to come up with ideas for YA fantasy and dystopian novels after the Charm Wars series. I already have some themes in mind. Plus I also want to work on an adult book that I started some years ago that deals with the son of a Nazi war criminal and his relationship with a female Mossad agent.


About the Author:

Dan Lutts, the author of Charm Wars, was brought up in Quincy, Massachusetts, and began addictively reading Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman comic books at an early age, much to his mother’s distress. In junior high school, he switched to reading science fiction novels. While in high school and college, he wrote science fiction short stories.

Dan taught history and archaeology in high school for ten years. After being laid off because of budget cuts, he used his love of writing to retrain and became a software technical editor and writer. He worked for several computer companies, taught technical writing at the college level, and worked as a freelance writer. Now, combining his love of history and writing, he works at a World War II museum doing research and writing.

Dan loves to read and has varied tastes, including Young Adult, historical fiction, mysteries, 18th-century sea epics, and history. He especially enjoys Young Adult fiction and decided to try his hand at it. Charm Wars, Dan’s first novel, is the result.

Dan lives in rural Maine with his wife, Lisa. When he’s not working or writing, Dan can be found reading, making and shooting medieval arrows with his longbow, or playing with his two dogs and two cats—all rescue animals.

Dan Lutts Head Shot

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