I should have blogged about this sooner, but it did go out in my newsletter recently for those that follow it. It is T Minus 16 Hours and 54 Minutes until the Humble Book Bundle The Reaper's Daughter is currently a part of is over. For those that don't know what this is, you can "pay what you want" or donate to a charity of your choice to unlock the first tier of books, which is definitely a bundle. Following that, there are two more tiers that you can unlock by paying an average and you get so much value.
So for those of you who like thrillers, sci-fi, dystopian, and a few books that are lighter with paranormal themes (like mine), you'll want to check it out before the deal is done.
Also, don't miss the latest podcast where I wax poetic about magic in the wind, bad ass heroines, and life in general with author Jayme Beddingfield on her podcast, Too Many Words. She's a cool chica, for sure.
As part of the October Frights Blog Hop, I'm posting a short story from the world of my YA Paranormal novel, The Reaper's Daughter. You don't have to have read my book to follow this, because this story stands on its own. It's more like the beginning, a prequel, so to speak. This is the story of the Grim Reaper's banishment from the underworld.
* * *
“I dare you.” His rough, hard face creased with a taunting smirk, his narrow dark eyes flickering with challenge. From his hand hung a sword, the whistle of steel meeting air still echoing from where he’d only moments before tried to slice off her arm—the one that held the scythe.
Grim laughed, the sound bouncing off the glittering crystals and craggy rock of the caverns. They had come to the walkway of the dead, near where Styx guarded the doorway between the underworld and the land of the living. The guardian deity hadn’t intervened yet, and for that Grim was thankful. She was ready to end the death deity war Hades had set in motion.
Hefting the scythe she so easily held in her hand over her shoulder, she shook her head, gazing at him imperiously although he dwarfed her by the mass of his bulk, his shadow almost vanquishing hers. “I will not kill my brethren, and you are that, even if I find you … well, I’ll be honest, repulsive,” she said dryly, arching a dark brow.
He smiled, and Grim stared at him impassively, eyeing the sweat clinging to his long hair and glistening against the pale of his skin with an inward distaste. She had always disliked the deity and his brutish ways, never felt he carried with him the compassion for those he crossed, and she didn't respect his need for power. Now, his eyes glittered black and he held her gaze, his focus only wavering away from hers for a moment to focus on the gleam of the silver scythe she held. He gestured beyond himself. “If you are to stop me, you will have to kill me.” From the shadows stepped his army, more than she could count.
“Your devil’s spawn,” she said, inclining her head in acknowledgement.
“Oh, well I’m hurt you would refer to innocent children so,” he said calmly, a mocking thread running through his tone.
“Innocent? I could say the living are happy when they see me, but that doesn’t make it true.” She smiled humorlessly, glancing to the figures of Hades’s children standing behind him, around her, with weapons in their hands and ambition in their souls. Glancing back to Hades, she caught the gleam of his sword slicing through the air, sending her into motion, her hands folding securely around the scythe and swinging it, the clang of metal reverberating off stone pierced the night with death.
“War then,” he said.
“You and yours began this,” she said, gritting her teeth and shoving him back with the force of her weapon, making him stumble back, a grimace of surprise flashing across his face.
Grim grinned, the power from the scythe crackling within her. How could he think he’d beat—a wind slapped her, and from the corner of her eye she caught the mass that was Hades barreling toward her, his hybrid goons closing in on her.
Thought wasn’t an option, and she swiveled, instinctively putting the power of the scythe into physical action by stepping forward and slamming the blunt part of the weapon into his chest. A crack of bone shattering filled the cavern, and Hades was sent flying back into a part of the wall that jutted out, his body hitting it with a slap. A strange expression flickered across his face, his black eyes losing the steel twist of corruption for the briefest of moments, and then he slid down to the ground, his eyes closing.
That must have hurt, she thought, glancing dismissively at the deity. He was immortal, so he’d heal fast enough, and he would be punished for his crimes, she would see to it. Grim eyed the kids moving in on her and sighed softly. Indoctrinated by Hades with his hate and misdirected power grab, and as many as there were, they’d be a challenge, but ultimately, they’d be no match for her.
A moan drew her attention back to Hades, who sat up slowly from his spot on the ground and rubbed a large knuckled hand over his chest. “Feeling under the weather?” she asked, wondering when the council would show and provide her the support to bring him and his brood to justice. But when he looked at her, she was startled by the creases of pain that worried his face. “He’s quiet … I can’t hear him … You-you killed him!” he growled.
“Killed who?” she asked slowly, watching him carefully, the scythe still clutched in her hands. He couldn’t possibly mean--
“You killed my brother. Pluto’s dead.”
* * *
Stay tuned for Part II, which I'll post on Sunday.
Starting today, The Reaper's Daughter is on sale for 99 cents until Sept. 30. Get it while it's hot. <3
"I feel like teen stories have exhausted every original paranormal thought ... until this one. KM Randall takes the concept of the Grim Reaper and adds a really interesting and energetic teen flair to it. The result is quite clever, and I enjoyed reading further into the story to see how Blake grows and responds to her new-found abilities."
Here's a the synopsis:
The Reaper needs her and the dead want her ...
I’ve always felt like an average girl ... except for my strange relationship with death. You could say I like to court it. Whether I’m soaring through the air as a flyer for Specter University’s cheer squad, or speeding down the steepest mountain with only grace and balance keeping me from an icy end, I’ve always needed to feel a rush. But now Death is courting me―in more ways than one. First, there’s Rishi, a rogue death deity who has a penchant for annoying me nearly to my grave and whose intense gaze has the power to see right through me. Then there’s Hades, who I’d rather had stayed just a myth. Now that he knows I exist, he’s not going to leave me alone until I meet the same end as my mother.
Oh yeah, did I forget to mention her? I spent my whole life thinking she had died when I was a baby, but now I’ve found out she’s much more than dead. Fifty years ago, Hades banished my mother from the underworld and took away her ability to cross over souls―souls that have wandered lost through the world ever since. Now she wants me to clean up the mess. You may have heard of her before ...
They call her the Grim Reaper.
Since my latest book, The Reaper's Daughter, was released, I've noticed a theme among reviewers who enjoyed it. They seem to like the friendship between the main character, Blake, and her best friend, Shelby. I noticed this in Fractured Dream as well. Many reviewers and readers have commented that they wished they had those amazing friends, or they really just enjoyed the healthy relationships between the characters. It's made me pause at times as somewhat ironically, since I've come to an age in my life when friendships have begun to fade or wear out, while making truly deep connections is harder for some reason.
I first noticed the fading after I gave birth to my son. A couple of friends of mine without children no longer seemed as interested in me as I was in them. I'd become a mom, a worrier, a helicopter buzzing around my baby. Perhaps because my free spirit was now connected to the precious life of my child, my soul's anchor, I was no longer as fun, I worried. As a singleton, I'd been accessible, as a married woman with a child, not as much. I was hurt. So I grieved for the dear friends who suddenly became acquaintances. There were others, of course, those who faded because of time away, years spent missing calls or not having time to make them, on both sides. Carrying on the friendships once had in youth no longer seems possible, and it isn't, because dynamics have changed.
Friendships change and warp, sometimes we lose those we loved, sometimes we're brought together again years later, maybe sometimes never. There's many reasons why, and sometimes I think there's no reason at all except time and growth. And I've come to accept this. I saw a quote on Facebook the other day that was rather poignant: "If you have to force it. Leave it. Relationships. Friendships. Yoga Poses. Perfect Pony Tails. Let That Shit Go." We can't hold onto them all for forever, nor do we always want to, I've learned.
It's the friendships that have braved the test of time, the ones who show up to your book signing on a rainy day with kids in tow, the one you can sit and have as much fun over a cup of coffee with as over a bottle of wine. And I have that. And I'm thankful.
So perhaps those friendships my readers love so much in my books is reminiscent of my youth, I do write YA/NA after all, so my characters are young, but I think it's also a reflection of what I've learned being a good friend truly means in the years since. Mutual respect, love, and laughter, and a willingness and desire to keep room in your heart and life for that person. <3
“Growing apart doesn't change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I'm glad for that.”
― Ally Condie, Matched
We're just two days away from the launch of The Reaper's Daughter this Saturday and my marketing manager wants me to dress up as the Grim Reaper and make a video for my book launch party on Facebook. Will I do it? We shall see. But until then, I'm so stoked about my launch I'm giving stuff away. Books, that is. Beautiful, tangible, paperback books. But there's only a couple of days left to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for one signed copy of The Reaper's Daughter or one signed copy of Fractured Dream.
To join said Facebook launch party for lots of other goodies and giveaways from myself and a number of other YA authors, click here: The Reaper's Daughter Facebook Launch Party, Enter Here ... Goes from 2-9 pm this Saturday.
When I was in middle school the most risky, scintillating book we read covertly in the hallways and during study halls was Go Ask Alice. This book about a teenage girl who spirals into drug addiction was about much deeper issues, obviously. But I can remember reading alongside my friends passages filled with cursing and sex. It was horrifying and yet at the same time, exciting to read such gritty, dark stuff. A cursory look at Amazon shows me it's still a bestseller. But I wonder if teens have the same reaction me and my peers had back in the day, or do they possibly read it now for it's true content? Because I've noticed a shift in YA that's more mature and sexual in nature.
Back in my day when I was reading the likes of RL Stine, Christopher Pike, Richie Tankersley Cusick, and LJ Smith, the teens in those books stayed pretty clean. There were no sex scenes, nor were they ever really implied. Pike bordered a little bit more on the risky side of sex, but it was still fairly chaste. Flash forward and as a woman in my thirties, I've read a number of YA books that have sex. Take the House of Night series by Kristin and PC Cast, which even goes so far as to portray oral sex in scenes. I recently read the Goddess Test series by Aimee Carter, and while there's no sex scenes, sex is definitely happening and is heavily implied.
When I wrote Fractured Dream, the first in my epic fantasy series, I did not write directly for any age group. My intention was to just write a high fantasy adventure novel, much like the ones I'd read growing up found in the Fantasy/Sci-fi section of the book store. So when I put one sex scene in it, I assumed it would be marketed for more adult audiences even though I'd increasingly been reading YA books with sex in them.
Once it was out in the market, however, Fractured Dream began to get slotted into the YA category by readers and bloggers. And while there have been a couple of readers I've noticed who thought perhaps the sexual content was more adult than it should be in the YA genre, sex seems to be a more accepted element in YA books overall.
And yet, had I been writing with a strictly teen audience in mind, I would have left that scene out, truthfully. Even despite knowing that I read all sorts of graphic sex scenes as a young reader from books outside the YA genre. When I started writing The Reaper's Daughter I always had a YA audience in mind for it and like the books of my day, it's more Christopher Pike-ish in the sex department.
I do think the change going on in YA of today, however, is an attempt to be realistic. Teens do have sex. They deal in all sorts of situations and to portray them all as virgins or never really addressing sex between young characters is not based in reality. This shift in YA makes writing it a bit more exciting, because there can be a more gritty factor, and that's what I like to do best, write fantasy and paranormal around relationships based in a real context.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS YA GROWING UP?
It's a sad state that I seem to have become a once-a-month blogger. But I have been busy, I promise, and right now I just wanted to post a few updates. Although I was hoping to release The Reaper's Daughter earlier in 2015, I think the later release date is well-worth it. The official launch for The Reaper's Daughter is May 9. I will most likely be hosting a big giveaway right here on that day. More to come on that soon!
Next, for Fractured Dream readers, I'm currently rolling out the prequel to the saga on Wattpad, called Fairytale Lost. Currently, the update is every Wednesday. I'll also occasionally be updating with new short stories coming form the land of Tressla. Take a look if you're interested: http://www.wattpad.com/106534307-fairytale-lost-chapter-one
Meanwhile, I'm in the midst of working on Shattered World, the second in the Dreamer Saga trilogy. While I'd love to release it later this year, I'm thinking realistically it will probably be early next year again. But I'll update here as I get closer to finishing it.
Finally, we're also looking for advance readers, so if you're interested in getting an ARC of The Reaper's Daughter in exchange for an honest review, please feel free to email me: KMRANDAL@GMAIL.COM.
I'll leave you with a small excerpt from The Reaper's Daughter. Here's one for all you romance lovers:
Rishi rolled the car into a parking spot and put it in park. I was turning to wake Shelby when a warm hand slid down my arm and over my hand tugging on it in a way that insisted I look back at him.
He was suddenly so close I felt trapped in my seat, his gaze intent, but not on my eyes—on my lips. He smiled slowly, finally raising his eyes to meet mine, a slow, golden burn igniting my blood with heat. “Yes?” I managed to say, arching my brow in that way I’d practiced.
“Do that thing again,” he said, his voice low and smooth, invading my senses as I never thought a voice could. My heart lurched in a way that hadn’t happened even when we were in a high-speed chase. I swallowed thickly, trying to find my voice around his desire that smelled like musk and car leather.
“What thing?” I finally managed to murmur, sipping in a deep breath of air as my breathless voice gave away my weakness for him.
His smile widened, as if he knew he had me, his high cheekbones and loose, shiny black hair lending him a certain primal male beauty that made me retreat until I could feel the door handle pressing into my back. “That thing with your tongue. When you chastised me,” he said, mimicking my tsking of him from only moments earlier. “I found it interesting.”
I couldn’t help it, my eyes fell to his own lips while I tried to wrangle my cutting wit and Artemis-like spirit. I shook my head, so lightly I was surprised he saw it.
“Let’s go get rooms, we could all use the sleep,” I finally managed to say, nearly choking on the words that sounded liked a sordid invitation. “I mean separate rooms,” I amended, inwardly bringing back the defense he’d torn down, but only by avoiding his gaze.
He brought me back to him by clasping one hand under my chin and bringing my eyes up to meet his. “First, do that thing,” he insisted, his dark eyes glowing with amusement.
So I'm sitting here from the Rochester Comic-Con. I've sold some books, met met some cool people, creeped on Alaina Huffman (Supernatural's Abbadon) since she's one of the panelists and I love her, and had a podcast interview this morning with TNX Bombsquad here. Since I've finished The Reaper's Daughter and the cover has already been completed I debuted the cover on my table to entice would-be readers. You can't see it too well in this pic, but this is my table at Roc-Con. The lovely lady in the back is my sister getting some work done.
So this is the big announcement of the day, I want to reveal The Reaper's Daughter cover. I'm so excited about it. Author, designer and also my friend, Shari Ryan, is responsible for the awesomeness of this cover. She came up with the concept and went with it and she captured the essence of it. Death is a dark thing, but the pink catches the humor and lightness that also threads through this book. Here's a picture you can really take a look at:
And to accompany the lovely cover, here's the blurb, newly minted:
I’ve always felt like an average girl . . . except for my strange relationship with death. You could say I like to court it. Whether I’m soaring through the air as a flyer for Specter University’s cheer squad, or speeding down the steepest mountain with only grace and balance keeping me from an icy end, I’ve always needed to feel a rush. But now Death is courting me―in more ways than one. First, there’s Rishi, a rogue death deity who has a penchant for annoying me nearly to my grave and whose intense gaze has the power to see right through me. Then there’s Hades, who I’d rather had stayed just a myth. Now that he knows I exist, he’s never going to leave me alone until he can do the same to me as he’s done to my mother.
Oh yeah, did I forget to mention her? I spent my whole life thinking she had died when I was a baby, but now I’ve found out she’s much more than dead. Fifty years ago, Hades banished my mother from the underworld and along with the Council of Death Deities, took away her ability to cross over souls―souls that have wandered lost through the world ever since. Now she wants me to clean up the mess. You may have heard of her before: they call her the Grim Reaper.
You know what that makes me? The Reaper’s Daughter.
Look for it February 15, 2015 !! You can also add it to your Goodreads list now:
The picture to the right is a little abstract, but the pale blue eyes match Blake's, my main character in my work in progress, called The Reaper's Daughter. I also liked the wings because they also symbolize to me the Grim Reaper's wings of death. Anyway, the excerpt below is from Chapter 1. I'm hoping to have this book finished later this summer/early fall.
The Reaper's Daughter by KM Randall
Excerpt from Ch. 1
The Specters are black
The Specters are white
The Specters will haunt you and fight, fight, fight!
My breath fogged in the air as I shouted the cheer, while my fingerless gloves muffled my claps in the early autumn afternoon. I marched and clapped my way into formation and prepped myself for the lift. I felt my base, Brandon, wrap his strong hands around my calves and ankles and then I was soaring up, the wind whooshing around me, my feet instinctively planting onto his shoulders and my muscles working to keep myself balanced. The adrenalin kicked in, giving me that rush, the one that made it seem as if my blood sparkled within me and my heart danced in symphony to the head thrashing of eighties hair bands. The only reason I was on the squad was to be a flyer. It was like a death wish, sailing through the air like that, propelling my body in a way most sane people wouldn't dare. Plus, I got to satisfy both my physical need to be propelled through space and my dad’s need for me to do it in a structured environment while furthering my school career.
Just as I got my balance atop Brandon's shoulders, I noticed the crows. Their big, black bodies were littered all over the field like a bad omen—just sitting there, not doing anything but staring. Or maybe they were watching. I don't know why in those moments I was so focused on the birds, but they had always creeped me out. Maybe because they tended to hang out in my backyard like they were waiting to pick someone off. And that's when I saw him.
He had light brown skin that made me think of caramel and his silky black hair was pulled back into a ponytail. But it was his intense dark eyes that looked as if they’d been lined with kohl that made me pause, because there was no way to look away. He was sitting amidst the crowded stands, but he was the only person I saw. Everything around me fell away aside from the thundering of my heart and his slow, cocksure grin that split his mouth as he winked a dazzling golden brown eye my way. It was the grin that did it, making me shudder so hard I felt my balance slip. I tried to recover, my arms wind-milling around me, but I heard the audience in the bleachers gasp and knew it wasn't good. And then there was just air around me.
Copyright by Katrina M. Mendolera
K.M. Randall writes fantasy and paranormal for both a general and young adult audience. Her debut novel, an epic fantasy called Fractured Dream, launched in June 2014, and her second book, The Reaper's Daughter, launched May 2015. Randall also published Fairytale Lost, a prequel to Fractured Dream, as an exclusive on Wattpad. She blogs about dreams, female heroines, and activism and its relevancy to the literary and fictional world. And when in the season, sometimes she just likes to talk about Halloween. She is currently hard at work on the second book in the Dreamer Saga series, Shattered World.