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Archive for May, 2015

Daniel-de-Lorne PhotoI’m really pleased to have Daniel DeLorne back to guest here today. After working with Dan on the RWA committee (he is my VP and one of our Hearts Talk Editors) I have come to call him SuperDan. He can pretty much do anything I throw at him and do it better than I expected. I’m not quite certain why I keep being surprised – maybe I just like to be surprised.

Anyway, Dan is here to talk to us today about his new novel, Burning Blood, the sequel to his dark and tortured (and amazing) first novel, Beckoning Blood. Take it away Dan.

Burning Blood, Sisters and Sequels.

Thanks for having me as a guest again, Leisl.

For those of you who haven’t read the first book in the series, Beckoning Blood is a gruesome romantic horror that focuses on the lives of gay twin vampires, Olivier and Thierry, as they slash and burn their way through the centuries.

The sequel, however, was my chance to explore the other side of the d’Arjou family. After people read Beckoning Blood, I heard them say they wanted to know about Aurelia as she played an important part in the plot of the first book, without getting much air-time.

I always knew she’d have a big role in the overall story arc but when I began writing Burning Blood, Burning-Blood-Cover-600I didn’t realise how much was going on with her.

Initially I was trying to wrap everything up in the second book but as my first and second attempt at this story broke beneath the enormity of what I was trying to do (this is a good advertisement for plotting over pantsing), I realised I had to give her the space to tell her story. And that’s what Burning Blood is.

The book goes through the same three timeframes that Olivier and Thierry went through in the first book, that is, Carcassonne in the Middle Ages, Saxony in the late 1700s, and the present day. While the brothers make brief appearances, this isn’t their book. This might be a relief for some readers who want a break from the blood and violence of Beckoning Blood.

We watch Aurelia’s struggle through the centuries, her battle with Henri, the head of the d’Arjou family. We see her trauma and experience her attempt to find some happiness while under extreme pressure. Thankfully, she has a friend in Hame, a red-haired oracle who helps relieve some of the burdens she has to bear…until Carn enters the scene.

I don’t want to give too much a way but readers can expect an epic story where what we want and what we get aren’t always the same thing, and how family traumas leave deep scars. But as always, there’s hope for a better life.

To celebrate the launch of Burning Blood, Im running a giveaway where you can win a Wild Wood Tarot Deck and both of my books. Just visit my website to enter.

Beckoning Blood Cover 1000Burning Blood (Bonds of Blood: Book 2)

No one gets to choose who they spend eternity with.

Aurelia d’Arjou has vampires for brothers, but it is as a witch that she comes into her own power, keeping balance and control, using her strength to mitigate the death and pain that her brothers bring. When she is forced to take on the centuries long task of keeping the world safe from the brutal demon that wore her father’s skin, duty dominates her life. But rare happiness comes in the form of a beguiling, flame-haired oracle who makes the perfect companion…but for one thing.

Hame doesn’t want to be an oracle, but when a demon destroys the closest thing to a father he has, he has little choice but to aid Aurelia with his visions. Unable to love her as she would wish, their centuries-old friendship comes under attack when a handsome Welsh witch enters his life – and his heart.

As treachery and betrayal push Hame to choose between his closest friend and his lover, it becomes clear that when it comes to war, love doesn’t always conquer all, and happy endings are never guaranteed.

Read an excerpt or order now from Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | GooglePlay.

Daniel de Lorne writes dark tales of ruin, romance and redemption. His debut novel, Beckoning Blood, came out in May 2014. You can find out more about him on his website (you can also get a free short story), Facebook and Twitter.

20150312_124815We woke up on our third day to mist over the Howqua and the air clearer than it had been for days. It hadn’t been as cold during the night as it was up near Craig’s Hut and we’d actually managed to get a reasonable night’s sleep. The back burning smoke had blown over to the other side of the mountains and there was a light blue sky above. We were in for another lovely day.

After another hearty breakfast with hot water poured out of billy cans set over the fire for tea or instant coffee, we packed up our tent, fed and brushed the horses, saddled them and after walking them around to warm up their backs, we set off.

P1020758The riding over the last few days had been hard with lots of steep hills, but today we were promised mostly flats – so we thought that we were in for an easy day of it. How wrong we were. We were riding on an old cattle trail looking down at the Howqua. It was narrow and the ground rose on our left too steep to ride up, and fell away on our right down to the river. It wasn’t quite a cliff, but steep enough that if you and your horse went down, you wouldn’t be stopped by anything but the trees and bracken growing out of the rocky side of the mountain. It was beautiful country, but I found I really had to keep my wits about me and really had to work as a team with my horse, Chelsea.

Some of the path had been softened a lot by recent rain, and our trail leader, Shelley, was rather annoyed at how damaged portions of it were. They’d been assured, after having had an accident along that trail where one of their helpers had slipped off the trail with her horse and slid down the hillside a few months before (nobody was hurt, luckily), that the Parks had been through the trail and done work on it to make it safe for riders. There were sections that were decidedly not safe and we stopped a few times so she could take photos of various sections. Unfortunately, we couldn’t turn around, because the path was too narrow, so we just had to keep going forward.

20150314_153250

Our reaction to the trail

Our reaction to the trail

All of us rode carefully and with very little talking as the concentration levels were high. All you could hear was the sound of hooves on the dusty trail, the sound of the Howqua burbling away below us and the sound of birds in the trees, occasionally cut off by the distant sound of an electric saw in the distance as the back burning continued and the call that went down the line as we warned each other of dangerous sections of track.

About half an hour from the stockman’s hut we were heading toward for our first break of the day, we passed a very sandy section of track where the edge had broken away. We all went high on the track to try to avoid breaking away any more of the track, calling back to tell everyone to do the same. Then just as we all thought we were safely through that section, Uncle Richard’s call went from the usual volume to a loud shout as we heard the sound of scrabbling hooves and a desperate cry and then a kind of rumbling, snapping sound.

“Man down. Man down,” Uncle Richard cried out.

We stopped, hearts in our mouths, and heard more snapping, rumbling sounds and then “Oh fuck! Why me?” come from the back of the line.

It was so shocking, it was funny, and we all laughed, relieved that if Karen (who was the ‘man’ who’d gone down the side of the hill with her horse) was able to swear and say something in such a disgruntled, pissed off tone, it meant she was reasonably okay. P1020760

Shelley was amazing. She kept absolutely cool, slipped off her horse, got my sister to hold the reins and then scrambled back along the path to the back of the line. Uncle Richard said later when telling the story of what happened, that Karen’s horse – a newer, young acquisition that didn’t have enough trail sense not to try to prance along the dangerous track – had slipped on the soft, broken away bit of trail, it’s back legs going down. He’d heard Karen try to urge the horse forward and up, but the edge was too soft and they both went down. Thankfully, the bracken was so thick, it caught them and didn’t let them slip too far down. By the time Uncle Richard had managed to hop down and get behind his horse, it was to see Karen’s horse come back up over the edge, a little scratched and shaken, but incredibly nothing more. Uncle Richard managed to grab its reins and keep it calm and then Shelley arrived to see what had happened.

Safe on open ground at another stockman's hut

Safe on open ground at another stockman’s hut

In trying to get off the horse, Karen had gone a little further down. Shelley edged her way down to her and together, they managed, using the trees and plants, to pull themselves back over the side. Karen was a little scratched and bruised, swearing a blue streak and laughing that it was her again – she’d been the one who’d gone down on that other ride too, both times because she was the last in the line and the ground had been softened too much by the horses that had gone through before her. She was okay. IMG_0346

She didn’t want to get back on her horse though and not because she was ‘gun shy’. They couldn’t check out the horse properly and didn’t know if there was a more serious injury until we got on more stable ground, so she led her horse over the last section.

My admiration for her rose even higher at this point. The ground was rough and there were steep rises that were tough on the horses, but even tougher on a person on 2 legs. But she just kept going, her concern for her horse apparent.

Then we entered a clearing and all of us breathed a sigh of relief as we saw the stockman’s shack. We hopped off our horses, checked that Karen was truly okay, with her and Uncle Richard enjoying the retelling of the story while Shelley and Karen made sure her horse was okay. We rested for about twenty minutes, had a much needed snack (apples and snakes) and then headed off.

20150314_153338The next section of riding was much easier. We were now right on the Howqua and were riding a curling path that led us over it and back a dozen times. We were able to canter for small sections and got a little wet in others – which given the warm day, was quite welcome. We had lunch at a lovely spot and stopped for an afternoon break at another stockman’s hut – they are scattered throughout the mountains and all cut along similar lines, usually in a lovely clearing near water of some kind. Some of them are privately owned, some are kept up by Parks Victoria and all of them are still used in one way or another. And the isolation of every single one of them made me marvel at how tough and stubborn those early settlers and stockman must have been to ride the mountains and high plains like they did and building these huts in the middle of nowhere.

We had some fun in late afternoon cantering through a section of the river, true Man from Snowy River style and then cantered along the final section of flats to our camp – a quiet section of the river where someone has built a simple house overlooking the river just near Sheep Yard Flats. The man whose house it was came down to greet us as we set up camp, happy for the company. He had a gorgeous sheepdog, called Melbourne, who had speaking eyes and loved the attention he got from all of us. P1020764

IMG_0349When the horses were washed down, fed and settled in for the night, my sister and I set up our tent, I had another shower – glorious to get rid of the day’s trail dust – and we settled in for the night around the campfire, telling stories (well, we mostly listened to Uncle Richard tell his stories – he’s got lots and is really entertaining and had us all laughing), shared the story of Karen’s fall with the others who weren’t on the trail with us, laughed over her ‘Oh Fuck! Why me?’ comment and had another wonderful, home cooked meal from Kay.

Uncle Richard managed to talk me into singing for everyone and so I agreed to one song which ended up turning into half a dozen when they kept asking me for another – I was tired and struggling to remember the words of songs I normally know off by heart. Then we all turned in for the night, having had a very exciting, hard day of riding and feeling a little sad that the next day was going to be the last of this wonderful adventure.

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