Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bleeding Hearts: Book One of the Demimonde by Ash Krafton: Excerpt

'A meet-cute at an Egyptian antiquities exhibit draws self-confessed bleeding-heart advice columnist Sophie Galen into the orbit of Marek Thurzo, a moody mystery man with “Paul Newman lips” and an intense interest in Sophie from the moment they meet. In short order, Marek introduces Sophie to a secret underworld of vampires, werewolves, and demivampires—his own kind, vampire precursors who can still walk in daylight and have not yet lost their souls.

Design elements from Fairytale Forest Kit by Twin Mom Scraps
Sophie herself has a destiny among “the DV,” as she learns to her considerable peril. Krafton’s paranormal romance will appeal most to readers who have outgrown Twilight but think the Anita Blake books are too salacious. It’s competently written and deft with wish-fulfillment, though the serviceable plot is largely constructed to ensure that the heroine remains devoted to her dangerous lover, no matter how great the risk to her own life and sanity.'- Publishers Weekly

ISBN-13: 9780982991367             
Publisher: Pink Narcissus Press
Publication date: 3/28/2012
Pages: 370

As I shook the last proffered hand and returned the last polite hello, I turned back to Marek to show him my can-do smile. However, Marek was no longer at my side.

No one was. I stood alone on the tiled circle. The room fell silent and it all happened so quickly I didn’t even have time to react. By the time my brain told my adrenal glands to sound the alarm, Dunkan commenced the proceedings. Faces fell to impassiveness. Even Marek wore his neutral game face.

Dunkan stood at the center of the half-circle, his back to me as he addressed the council. “By the gods, our witnesses: we, the One Hundred and Fifty-First Conclave, do congress on this date for the purpose of hearing the petition of one citizen, by right and true Name of Marek Thurzo. Rise, Citizen Thurzo. Do you wish to address the Conclave?”

Marek stood, hands folded in front like a pall bearer, and answered in baritone. “I do.”

I succeeded in wrestling my eyebrows down to their usual place on my forehead. Citizen Thurzo would get an earful from me later when I petitioned his behind six ways to next Sunday. We’re going to talk is all... yeah, right.

“Members of Conclave, my thanks for your time and attention.” Several heads tipped in his direction. I did my best to keep from frowning at him. “The American Demivampire have been without the guidance of the Sophia Oracle for several hundred years. Few possess substantial information regarding the nature of this elusive muse. Several Conclave members may remember my role in previous examinations of Sophia candidates, none of whom have been deemed true Oracles.”

He paused, making eye contact with one or two people. “For the first time I bring forth a candidate of my own. To the Conclave I present Ms. Sophia Galen, her right and true Name.”

Every pair of eyes found me, some flashing a brief light, others scrutinizing me intently. Dunkan gestured, indicating I should step forward, and addressed me. “Ms. Sophia Galen...”

“Sophie.” I interrupted without thinking. “Just Sophie.”

“Ms. Galen.” The amendment was accompanied by an expression that implied he’d prefer not to be interrupted again. “What do you know of the Sophia Oracle?”

“Only what Marek has told me,” I admitted. “The DV are subject to the process of evolution, which marks both physical and spiritual changes. I have to say, I still don’t understand it well but the gist of it seems pretty simple.”

I took a deep breath and strangle-held my composure. Public speaking sucks at best but this was infinitely worse. This crowd might eat me if they didn’t like what I said.

“Evolution is like every little sin brings you one step closer to being damned. Thing is, even if you’re sorry, you can never be forgiven. No absolution. No starting over. No second chances. God must have realized how terrible a fate it was so He created the Sophia to compensate. You might not get a second chance but, with a Sophia’s help, you might not ever need one.”

I clasped my hands and rocked back on my heels, more confident now. My gut told me I was spot on and, when I peeked at Marek, he didn’t have his head buried in his hands. Good sign, right there.

Dunkan, however, didn’t hand me a gold star. “A passable, if rudimentary, definition. Your choice of words likens it to a children’s story rather than the sacred ideology of our people. However, you speak honestly and with sensitivity and we detect no malice in your intent.”

I didn’t think he wanted a response, which was good because I wasn’t sure I had a polite one. Silence seemed the prudent way to go at the moment.

“Based, therefore, on your interpretation of the Sophia, tell us why you have come forth as a candidate.”

Technically, I didn’t come forth—Marek dragged me in here—but I had a funny feeling it was probably an unacceptable response. “Marek thought some my qualities are Sophia-like in nature. He trusts the combined experience and knowledge of the Conclave will be able to make a determination.”

A woman spoke from her seat in the rings of benches. “What do you seek to gain?”

“Me? I don’t seek to gain anything.”

“Ms. Galen, everybody wants something. Are we to believe you are simply being generous in seeking the title of Sophia?”

I surveyed the strange faces, at a complete loss for a response. Something in Marek’s eyes encouraged me to continue. He purposefully refrained from reaching out to me with his power so it wouldn’t appear he coerced me.

I knew holding back was a strain on him. I wore his essence the way I wore his jacket. His presence was always there, keeping us in constant contact, reassuring and comforting. His willingness to endure this separation was a big indication of how important this was.

“I understand your reservations. Marek said it’s been lifetimes since the last Sophia. I understand why it’s important, even if I don’t yet understand the details. I don’t seek a title, or honor, or...” I faltered, unsure of the right words. “Please. I’m just Sophie. I care for people. I try to better this world the only way I know how: one person at a time. Marek knows this and believes this is what the Sophia must be. I want him to know for sure, to follow this to the end, so he doesn’t spend the rest of his life wondering.”

 Marek watched me, unmoving, eyes gleaming. No one had ever held me in their gaze with such love, such acceptance. My heart swelled, almost too big for me to stand without running to him.

“I’m not here for me. I’m here for him. If I am what he thinks, fine. I’ll do whatever it is I’m meant to do. If I’m not...” I shrugged. “Who cares? I’ll still do what I’ve always done. I can’t change. If I can help, all you need to do is ask. It’s what everyone else does.”

Their eyes weighed me, silent and cold, and I lost some of my resolve. Rather than look at the emotionless statues, I studied my feet, waiting.

Look at me.

Someone’s power called to me. It wasn’t Marek. Someone in the conclave.
My head snapped up and I scanned row after row of blank faces. No one spoke or moved or gave any indication they knew someone had used their power to touch me.
Look at me, girl. Seek me out.
I took a step, then two, closer to the rows of benches. The words carried on a ribbon-thin hum of power, one I could track back to its source. I paced along the edge of the orchestra as I played a game of hot and cold.

When I followed the touch up one of the aisles, halfway up it snapped off. I bit my lip, stretching my awareness out, reaching around for it like I searched for something in a darkened room. When I detected it again, I seized it, tracing it to an iron-haired woman. She didn’t acknowledge me but I knew the power was hers. Everyone in the room sat motionless, staring at the circle as if I remained below.

Placing my hand on her shoulder, I whispered. “You?”

She turned her lined face to me, the creases between her pale blue eyes deepening. For a moment I doubted myself. I hastily looked toward Marek, who hid his mouth behind his hand.

When she spoke, her voice shocked me and I almost left the ground. “She has the gift of empathy, as proven by this trial.”

What? A test? Son of a... Wait. I passed. Woo-hoo me!

Dunkan stood. “Ms. Galen, please resume your place.”

“What happens now?” I could have skipped down the steps.

“Why, my dear.” The older woman smiled thinly. “It’s the inquisition.”

Pushcart Prize nominee Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer whose work has appeared in several journals, including Expanded Horizons, Bete Noire, and Silver Blade. She resides in the heart of the Pennsylvania coal region, where she keeps the dust jacket for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" in a frame over her desk because of its sheer awesomeness. Bleeding Hearts: Book One Of The Demimonde is her first novel. For news and updates on the series, visit Ash at
Thanks for having me, Laurie! I'd like to remind everyone that the Bleeding Hearts Blog Tour will continue until April 14, 2012. I'm being hosted by a wonderful group of bloggers and authors and I'm sharing loads of excerpts, fun guest posts, and mini-contests. Be sure to check out the other stops along the tour for other posts about Bleeding Hearts and be sure to enter the huge end-of-tour prize package!

Blog  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Publisher

I'd also like to give one of our readers a chance to win an ebook copy of Bleeding Hearts. Just leave a comment for us and you're on your way! Please be sure to include your email addy. This giveaway will end April 14th at 11:59PM Central Time.
Good luck to everyone who enters and thanks for celebrating my new book with me.

*Paper and elements for the feature collage are part of the Fairytale Forest  Kit by Twinmom Designs..
Custom created by Laurie Jenkins
Using powerful, but inexpensive My Memories Software.
Use my coupon STMMMS76293 and get $10 off and another $10 worth of Free kits. 




SusanD1408 Crochet Addict said...

Wow I would love the chance to win and read your book!
susand1408 at googlemail dot com

Sophia Rose said...

That was an intriguing excerpt and I'd love to read the rest of the story.

Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

donnas said...

Sounds good. Thanks for sharing

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Sue said...

Wonderful article

Laurie said...

The giveaway winner for this blog post is Sophia Rose! Congrats!!