Monday, February 10, 2014

Dark Prophet Cover Reveal ~ KN Lee

I'm so excited to share the Dark Prophet cover reveal and exclusive first chapter, by American fantasy and horror author, K.N. Lee. The Dark Prophet is book two of Lee's Chronicles of Koa series. Click here for book one.

The Dark Prophet ~ description

What would you do if a demon threatened your mother's life? If you're like Koa, you'd sharpen your enchanted sword and go after him.

That's just what Koa did...and what she learned will change everything.

Agent Koa Ryeo-won just had her entire life change when she discovered the truth of her past. How will she react when she finds that the prophet that she was sent to break out of a prison for supernatural creatures is the first man she loved? None of that matters when a vampire king and his demon sidekick strike out against the Netherworld division and destroy the entire Vampire Registration System. The people of the world are finally given proof that they are being targeted by the escaped creatures of a different world. Who will protect the humans from this new breed of vampire? Will Koa ever break her mother's curse?

And here, my friends, is the beautiful cover for the Dark Prophet, by K.N. Lee. Isn't she beautiful?

Exclusive, from the Dark Prophet ~ Part 1: Netherworld Memories

Chapter 1
Koa frowned down at her body. A red dress. Koa would have never chosen to wear all red, but she did not have a choice. Like the blood that Koa had spilled the night before when she had been cut with a glowing dagger, the dress was dark and rich.
Ceremonies such as this were normal in the Netherworld. Besides, the wound on her wrist healed before her eyes. Within minutes, the ceremony was complete, the tests were run, and it was confirmed that she was indeed the daughter of Alsand Vangelis, the vampire king of Elyan.
The next day Koa was awakened by a team of violet-eyed women tugging at her limbs, washing her, scrubbing her raw with oils, and slathering creams onto her snow-white skin. They straightened her thick black hair and painted her face with colors that Koa only thought older women were allowed to wear. Then, she had been dressed.
In a gaudy red wedding gown at the age of twelve.
Koa wanted to run from the black temple that she and her father had slept in. She wanted to break free from the compound and fly home. The human world seemed so far away.
She bit her lip, tasting blood. No one understood just how much she did not want to do this. This wasn’t to be a human wedding, but a Netherworld wedding…a vampire wedding.
Koa scrunched up her nose as she looked down at the billowing gown, littered with sparkling crystals and black taffeta. She looked like a gothic spin on a Disney princess.
Vampire Barbie, she thought to herself.
Even at such a young age, Koa knew she did not fit the role of such a character. She was not a doll, or a character from the books she read. She closed her eyes and tried to calm her nerves.
Like hot boiling acid, anxious feelings churned within her stomach, making her feel like she might faint or worse…vomit at any moment.
How embarrassing that would be, Koa thought as she chewed her lip. She grimaced. Her lips tasted horrible, like tar. She’d almost forgot that she was covered in makeup like a clown. Her small hands shook and she wanted to cry. It took all of her strength to keep the tears from escaping and causing an even bigger scene. With hot cheeks and holding her breath, Koa prayed for an escape.
What am I doing here, Koa kept asking herself. Koa was afraid of this dark place, where the sun, nor the moon, did not exist. Where the population was composed of creatures that would have given normal girls nightmares.
Koa was glad that at least she had her father at her side, and that he never let go of her hand. With her free hand, Koa tugged at the high collar of her gown. She frowned and groaned. The black lace made her throat itch.
Koa looked up at her father, who walked regally by her side, head held high, and face set with purpose. They walked at the head of the procession through the streets of Lyrinia, while the citizens watched in uneasy silence.
Netherworld vamps, War-Breeders, Jems, Syths, and even ghouls came out of their hiding spots to catch a glimpse of the mysterious half-blood princess.
Koa tried not to stare back at the horrific creatures all around. Like metallic giants, slim, and sleek, the Scayors patrolled the event like silent police. Their eyes cast a dim green glow over what they scanned.
            She shuddered whenever their gaze lingered on her. She feared that they were reading her thoughts and knew that she was afraid of them. That was one thing that Koa hated, the admission of fear. Even the monk-like Syths scared her. They were big, pale, creatures with bald heads and faces covered in tattoos.
            Lightning broke out and everyone looked up to the sky. Koa clutched her father’s arm and paused.
He smiled down at her. “Don’t worry, Koa. It’s not a real sky, my love. That is simply the ground of another Netherworld level. I believe they are having a battle up there.”
            Koa’s eyes narrowed as she looked at the dismal black sky. Lightning struck again, but it wasn’t the kind of lighting that she was used to. It was green and took the shape of various symbols as it faded into the dark. To think that they were only on one of the many levels of the Netherworld, and that entire civilizations and kingdoms were going about their business with little to no care about what an important day this was for Lyrinia was too much for young Koa to grasp.
            When she looked back down, she saw that everyone had returned their attention to her. Vampire women and men stared at her. They were the only creatures that she wasn’t fearful of. Father had various vampires over at the manor from time to time, but none of them looked as picturesque as these Netherworld vamps.
            Painted faces stared at her. The vampire women were the most beautiful women that Koa had ever seen, and yet none compared to her mother’s simple and natural beauty. These women were like painted dolls who she imagined tipping over and watching crack into pieces of porcelain.
            Koa noticed how they seemed to be separated into groups. The red lipsticks on the left and the black lipsticks on the right. Koa didn’t know if it was simply a fashion trend or something more, but all of the women wore the most elaborate gowns and jeweled arrangements on their perfectly sculptured hairdos.
            They watched her, unblinking, unsmiling. She could see the judgment in their eyes.
            “Father,” Koa breathed. She looked away from their violet eyes and clutched her father’s arm.
            King Alsand looked down at her. His green eyes were serious today. “What is it, darling?”
            Koa looked ahead at the sparkling golden palace before them. The golden plates along the palaces walls shimmered and reflected all of the light from the Disc Moon, the artificial moon of the Netherworld. Her voice was caught in her throat. Something felt odd and yet she felt drawn to the palace. It stood out like a candle in the dark and pulled her in, as if by magic, like a moth to a porch light.
            Koa’s face paled. This was the place that would be her new home. King Greggan’s teenage son, Prince Jax, would be her new husband.
            Koa stopped. The guards that were leading them looked back and seemed ready to seize her and force her forward.
            King Alsand leaned down to her ear. “What’s wrong?”
            “I want to go home.”
            Her father patted her hand and when one of the Syth guards stepped forward, he whipped out the Lyrinian sword with lightning speed. Everyone drew in a breath and stepped back as they beheld its power. The ring of steel rang throughout the air. It pulsed, audibly, and visibly as the red glow made the air heat and crackle.
Even Koa held her breath as her eyes shot to the Lyrinian blade.
King Alsand’s raptor-like glare burned into the guards, warning them to keep their distance. He didn’t have to say a word. The red glow of the black blade was enough to make the large brutish creatures rethink their actions.
King Alsand waited a moment longer, making sure that they knew how serious he was. Koa had only trained with that sword once. The power was too great for her now, but one day it would be hers.
She flinched when her father’s glare landed on her. “Koa, this is your home.”
Koa shook her head, but avoided his eyes. She looked around. The air was stale, not like the fresh fragrant air of France. The sky was dark, lit only by the Disc Moon that cast different colors across the land whenever the hour changed.
She missed the moon of Earth. She missed the sun, the trees, and the flowers. The Netherworld felt like a nightmare that she would never awaken from. No matter what color the day was in the Netherworld, it was always too dark for her. Koa’s father didn’t understand her love for daylight, for he had never seen real daylight.
The sun’s rays would kill him just as surely as it would kill any vampire, Netherworld or New World. Koa was the only exception and she wished that he would at least try to understand.
“You are half Netherworld vamp, Koa,” her father gave her hand a squeeze. “This is where you belong, amongst your people.”
“I am also half human.”
King Alsand looked down at her and pursed his lips. His eyes hid something from her.
Koa tried to soften her voice and sound as sweet as possible. “Bring mother here, and maybe I won’t feel so homesick,” Koa reasoned, her green eyes hopeful.
King Alsand shook his head, but his features softened for her. “My darling girl. You will see that this is the place for you. You belong here with your people. The treaty has already been signed.” He leaned closer to her ear and whispered. “Your mother cannot come here Koa. She is safe in the mortal world. If we do not fulfill our side of the treaty, she will be in danger. Now, is that what you want?”
Her lips trembled. She shook her head quickly. Just the thought of someone harming her mother made her feel sick. She didn’t know what she would do if she lost that sweet, loving, woman.
She looked into her father’s eyes.
“Do you understand what I am telling you?”
Koa nodded. She understood, but she still didn’t agree with what was happening.
Alsand smiled and stroked her pale white cheek.
“But I don’t want to do this,” Koa whispered.
Alsand’s smile faded, but his eyes didn’t turn cold on her as she expected. He knelt down to her level and cupped her cheek.
“I know, my dear girl, but sometimes we have to do things that we don’t want to…to protect those that we love.”
“May I?” Faun asked of Alsand.
Alsand nodded and Faun gathered her white skirts in one hand and scampered over to fix Koa’s long black hair. Koa didn’t take her eyes from her father’s. She hoped that he would see how miserable she was.
Koa ignored Faun as she examined her face with violet eyes. She was adamant about making sure that Koa’s part was perfectly straight and that her hair fell in long ringlets.
“Smile,” she said.
Koa twisted her mouth. “I don’t want to.”
Faun put her hands on her hips. She scrunched up the space between her thin borws as she narrowed her eyes at Koa. “Just do it. It’s only for a second.”
Koa rolled her eyes and faked a quick smile.
“That wasn’t so hard, now was it?” Snickering, she gathered her skirts in her hand. “You have red lipstick on your teeth,” she said and returned to her place in the procession behind Koa and her father.
Frustrated, Koa rubbed her teeth with her finger. She knew just how ridiculous she looked. Black liner, red lips, and rosy cheeks.
Alsand locked arms with Koa. He leaned close and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He lowered his voice into a whisper. “Remember, never mention that you can walk in the sun. Never.”
Koa swallowed and squeezed her eyes shut. “I know, father. You don’t have to keep reminding me.”
“Good,” he stood back to his full height. His eyes widened and he leaned down again. “Or that you can fly.”
Koa nodded, her head down. “Yes, I know.”
He pinched her cheek. “Good. Shall we continue, darling?”
“I don’t know, father.” Koa couldn’t bring herself to look at her father again. “Is there anything else that you want to remind me not to say or do?” Her eyes were burning from the tears that threatened to gush forth.
Alsand noticed and simply shook his head. He patted her hand.
She hung her head. Once again, they were walking down the black stone walkway that led to the gate and stone doors of the Lyrinian palace.
Koa’s heart pattered against her ribcage. She felt like she might have an anxiety attack. So many eyes staring. So much anticipation in the air.
Those golden gates that she’d been staring at for the past hour, as they walked through the entire kingdom, were held open for them and heavily guarded.
When Koa stepped through the gates and entered a massive courtyard of stone. Their path was lit for them. On either side of the carpet were artificial trees of stone and black clay. They weren’t real, but they were beautiful. Art.
Even Koa could appreciate the mastery. She examined the sculptures as they followed their escort through the courtyard and to the stone doors that led into the palace. Once inside, light seemed to fill every dark space. Chandeliers, torches, candles, mirrors reflecting the light and light discs were positioned all over the wide corridor.
It was then that Koa contemplated flying away. She’d thought of it often. It would be her last chance. She took a peek over her shoulder. She could still see the door. She’d just promised her father that she would keep her abilities a secret. She wasn’t sure why such things were so important.
She could simply lift herself into the air, and head for the Gate, but visions of her mother being harmed kept her firmly planted to the purple carpeted floor.
Koa felt numb, like she was walking to her prison cell.
Each corridor led to another corridor of a different theme. From one of light and mirrors they stepped through grand archers to a corridor of dim candles and artificial flowers in vases painted with paint that seemed to have a light of its own. There was a corridor with walls filled with paintings and soft music played by a small creature that resembled the one at the Gate. Tunes was what her father called him, but all Koa remembered was how creepy he was.
Koa watched it buzz around with short black wings as it blew eerie melodies out of its flute. She tapped her chin and furrowed her brows as she tried to remember what kind of creature it was.
“An imp!” Koa shouted triumphantly. She covered her mouth with her hand and looked around in horror. She hadn’t meant to say that aloud. Everyone glanced at her with disapproval, but the imp continued playing its flute until they went into the next corridor.
Koa was relieved to find that the maze of corridors had finally ended, and that they were finally in the main ballroom where the prince and the royal family awaited them.
She stepped into the room, from carpet to shiny granite floors and a flood of light and decorations overwhelmed her senses. She didn’t want to admit how beautiful it was, but her eyes widened at the spectacle. Hundreds of chairs draped with gold silk lined either side of the alleyway that led to the platform where the thrones were held.
Her heart thumped. She felt something she hadn’t expected. Koa’s face flooded with blood as her eyes met those of the prince.
No one else mattered. Nothing else existed as Koa’s eyes cut through the crowd and down to the set of five thrones as Koa and her father stopped before the platform.
“Princess Evina, 1st Queen Katya, 2nd Queen Lera, your highness, King Greggan, and Prince Jax, behold King Alsand of Elyan and Princess Koa.”
Koa heard the introductions but something odd was happening. She stared at Prince Jax with her mouth agape.
He was the most attractive person she had ever seen in her life. Piercing dark blue eyes, dark blood red hair and a perfectly sculpted chin and nose. Koa felt her face flush as he looked her up and down. Then, he did something that made her grin, despite her previous fears and doubts.
Prince Jax winked at her.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. Here is the trailer for book one, The Chronicles of Koa. And you can find out more about author K.N. Lee and get important book updates through: Web site | Facebook | Twitter.
Coming soon I'll also be posting a guest blog by K.N. Lee about her experience pitching agents! Let us know how you like this gorgeous cover, too! Happy reading, friends!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Meet K.N. Lee ~ Rising Fantasy & Horror Writing Goddess

Welcome to the fascinating and intelligent mind of K.N. Lee, where dark fantasies and poetic musings dwell.

With her new book coming out later this month, and the big cover reveal happening here on Monday, I wanted to take a minute to talk to Lee about writing, stretching genres, and traveling internationally. I also wanted to get a feel for what we can expect next from Lee, because it's always something fun!

Welcome to my blog, and thank you so much for sharing some insight with my readers today. Let's jump right in!

CMA: You write in a variety of genres: fantasy, poetry, and recently romance. Do you have a favorite so far? Any genres you've wanted to tackle but haven't tried yet?

KNL: Fantasy is my favorite, and I doubt that will ever change. Fantasy was what started my obsession with books and writing, and it is where I am most creative and comfortable. I’ve always wanted to venture out and try a little mystery. Once things die down with my current projects, I’m going to give it a shot!

CMA: You have two poetry books published. What inspires your poetry?

KNL: My poetry is inspired by dreams and the emotions we experience throughout life. Somehow my poems end up being kind of dark. Which is odd…because I’m such a bubbly and happy person. I suppose it’s my darker side trying to come out!

CMA: You recently participated in a writing collective, creating an online novella with seven other writers. Was this the first time you wrote in a "collective?" What was the experience like? What was your favorite part of writing in the romance genre (or was it difficult)?

KNL: I’ve written for a few anthologies, but this was my first collective, where we each had a chapter that created a cohesive story. It was so much fun! I was certainly challenged by this collective, because it entailed writing romance and got a little fiery during my chapter with the main couple of the story. I have to tell you, I blushed the entire time I wrote their ‘hot scenes.’ It was liberating though, and actually helped me write a steamy scene in Dark Prophet, my latest fantasy novel.

CMA: I know you have a new book coming out, and we'll get to more on that soon. But I've been privileged to watch the organic creation of your book cover: from model, to backgrounds, to final version. What's your favorite part of the cover design process? When do you know you're "done?"

KNL: The cover design process is so much fun! It can also be stressful, especially if you are determined to produce ‘the perfect cover’ that will stand out from the rest. My favorite part of the process is finding the model and transforming them into my character! I actually found my latest model at a party…and she’s a physician assistant! Something about her eyes told me that she was Koa. On photo shoot day, once she was in hair and makeup, it was a stunning result! I’m very pleased. The moment you look at the cover and feel emotionally attached to it, and it encompasses your vision, that’s when I know I’m done!

CMA: You released your first full length fiction novel last year, The Chronicles of Koa. What's the biggest thing you learned from your first fiction release?

KNL: The biggest thing I learned from my first release was that you cannot please everyone. Some people want things to be super descriptive, while others like more action and less exposition. Nonetheless, the positive reviews brought validation that the story I’d produced was as cool as I thought it was! I’m pleased with the result.

CMA: You have the second book in the series coming out SOON, later this month, correct? What's its title, and what was your favorite part about writing book two?

KNL: Yes! Dark Prophet, The Chronicles of Koa Book Two, will be released on February 26. How exciting! I really enjoyed watching my characters grow, and building upon their stories. I also loved showing off my darker side in this installment of the series. I gave myself nightmares after writing some of the scenes. All in all, I think the fans will be very pleased.

CMA: I know you also have another completed novel or two up your sleeve and are holding out for an agent or publisher for those. I love the flexibility we have these days to mix & match! For you, what drives self-pubbing some, and going the traditional route with others?

KNL: Well, for me, I wanted to self-publish at first in order to add some credits to my author platform and develop a fan base. Also, I knew that the search for an agent or publisher would be a time consuming one…and I can be a bit impatient. So, while I queried agents and submitted Rise of the Flame to publishers, I figured The Chronicles of Koa would keep my impatience at bay. So far it’s worked out quite well.

I think some authors like to have the creative control over their titles. Not only that, but you get to keep most of your profits. Others want to have the support and marketing that comes from traditional publication.

CMA: You've become very well-traveled after the release of Koa, hitting the World Fantasy Con and doing global book signings. What was your favorite destination? Did any of these locales inspire your writing and creative bug?

KNL: My biggest travels last year were San Diego, California, London, England, and Morocco. London was easily my favorite destination! I look forward to moving there someday. Soon I hope! Visiting London was not only a lot of fun, but The Chronicles of Koa is set in London. Now that I’ve actually walked its streets, drank in its pubs, and viewed its castles, I can use that experience to enrich my story.

CMA: After this newest book release (Dark Prophet), what can readers expect to see from K.N. Lee?

KNL: You can expect to see Rise of the Flame, my high-fantasy trilogy, this summer! I’ll be working on a dystopian/sci-fi novel named Freya’s Bridge as well. I’m excited to work on something new, but rest assured, the third book of The Chronicles of Koa series will be completed as well!

CMA: Where do you see yourself in five years with your writing career?

KNL: I see myself with a book deal and traveling the world. I have too many ideas for cool stories in my head that I know I’ll be producing a lot of titles within that time frame. Oh, and I’d like to add that I plan to have a quaint cottage like Koa’s in the countryside of England.

CMA: What's one piece of advice you'd like to give aspiring authors?

KNL: Never give up!

Thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing some of your experience with us. I can't wait to watch your career grow over the years. I know your writing will soar even further in the future, because every time I read a piece, I am blown away by your creativity, and also love your willingness to go "dark" and not have everything be perfect. It adds just the right amount of tension to your stories that I think my readers will love! 

Stay tuned for a guest blog post from Lee, on her experience with pitching agents, both in person and while following up via e-mail. She'll share some of her lessons learned, and tips to (hopefully) get it right!

Also, come back on Monday for the big cover reveal of the Dark Prophet! I'll be giving away an e-Book of The Chronicles of Koa, so be on the look out for how you can win!

Find K.N. Lee: Web site | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon