Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Melissa Eskue Ousley. She is a Young Adult writer. Dreams do come true…and so do nightmares.
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Sign of the Throne
Author: Melissa Eskue Ousley
Sign of the Throne
Abby is an ordinary girl haunted by dreams of an ivory castle, blood-thirsty monsters, and a striking stranger. Working as a babysitter for a family of mythology lovers in wealthy Newcastle Beach, California, she struggles to define herself among the elite class while trying to make sense of her strange visions. Upon meeting David, the doppelgänger of the mysterious young man in her dreams, Abby’s life is changed forever.
Encountering the queen of Cai Terenmare, a magical kingdom in a parallel world, Abby learns of an evil lord hell-bent on usurping the throne, the murder of Cai Terenmare’s king, the Solas Beir, and the kidnapping of the Solas Beir’s infant son.
As the kingdom struggles to endure, the queen shows Abby the full extent of her destiny. She must convince her mysterious crush, David, that he is the lost heir. While braving attacks from the dark lord’s sadistic minions, David must realize his true identity and return to Cai Terenmare to claim his throne before time runs out, lest the evil that was temporarily locked away be unleashed, threatening to destroy both the kingdom and all of humanity.
Excerpt from Chapter 3 of Sign of the Throne, Faery Godmothers:
After school, Abby decided to take a walk through Newcastle Beach. She told herself she needed to clear her head, and thought walking along the beach might be a good remedy. But the truth was she was hoping to run into David again. No matter how much she tried to convince herself otherwise, she was more drawn to him than ever.
Halfway between the old mansion and the beach, she noticed a commotion. Several large alley cats were harassing a raven. The bird was putting up a good fight, but was outnumbered and being overpowered.
“Hey!” Abby shouted. She ran toward the feline predators, waving her arms wildly. An oversized, bob-tailed black cat bared its teeth and hissed at her. She kicked at it and it got the message, slinking away. Is it my imagination, Abby thought, or are housecats bigger than they used to be? That black cat had to have been the size of a cocker spaniel.
Gently, Abby scooped up the raven, inspecting him for wounds. Nothing looked broken, but when she ran her fingertip along the edge of one wing, the bird winced and pecked at her hand as a warning. “All right,” she said. “No more touching that spot. Let’s get you home.” Cradling the raven in her arms, she slipped through the mansion’s gate.
Once inside, the bird wriggled free from her grasp and took flight, gliding low over a tangle of green bushes that looked oddly familiar to Abby. I’ve been here before, she thought. In my dream.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a flash of white. The doe? Noticing an opening in the knotted snarl of green, she entered an overgrown maze, dark with branches crossed overhead. Trying to remember the pattern of the labyrinth from her dream, she stepped further into the darkness, her arms stretched out to guide her. She turned corner after corner and came to a circular clearing in the center of the emerald maze, with passages leading in three directions.
Which way now? As if in answer to her unspoken question, she heard a rustle above her. Looking up, she saw two golden eyes staring down. Her raven friend cocked his head and then dived into the labyrinth, flying low in front of her. He landed in front of the middle passage a few feet away and hopped impatiently, waiting for her to catch up. “Right behind you,” Abby said. “Show me.”
She followed the raven through a twisting passage, which was becoming increasingly familiar. Soon, she knew, she would reach the opening to the beach. Would David be waiting for her, like in the dream?
As she turned the last corner, she held her breath in anticipation, fully expecting to see him. Instead, the labyrinth halted abruptly in a solid green dead end.
Then, Abby gasped in horror. A haunting figure appeared before her. Facing the wall, the hag wore a ragged dress that might have been white long ago, but was now dirty grey. Stringy white hair hung down her back and a withered arm hung limply at her side. The hag turned, revealing a ruined face and a hideous milk-white eye.
Abby spent the next evening babysitting for Cassandra and Riordan. She putthe kids to bed and laid out her homework on the coffee table downstairs. She was immersed in her work when she realized—the house was quiet. Eerily quiet.
She was used to the familiar creaks and groans of the old house, and night ushered in the occasional chirp of a cricket or flutter of moth wings around theantique sconces lighting the room. Tonight she heard nothing—there was only dead silence. She felt a prickle at the back of her neck and realized she was shivering. The room had gone unnaturally cold, and she had the distinct sense that she was not alone.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a shadowy presence, someone standing still, watching her. She turned to look, but there was no one there. She felt a terrible unease twisting in her gut. Something was wrong.
Responding to her intuition, she got up and climbed the stairs to check on thechildren. Ciaran was snoring, perfectly at peace. He had wriggled out of his covers in his sleep. Abby tucked him back in.
Leaving his room, she walked down the hall to the twins’ room. The nightlight in the hallway began blinking erratically. She entered the room and froze. Perched monkey-like on the corner of Rowan’s crib was a shadowed figure thesize of a small boy, leaning over the sleeping child. Sensing Abby, it turned its head, blood-red eyes meeting hers.
Abby gasped with horror as the creature leapt with unnatural agility from thecrib and crouched like a spider high on the wall, staring down at her. Slowly, it smiled, revealing rows of pointed narrow teeth, sharp as razors.
And then…it pounced.
Abby raised her arms to shield herself, scrunched her eyes shut, and screamed. But there was nothing. She heard a low chuckle behind her and saw the creature near the door. The shadow boy laughed and ran out. Thesmoky form changed into a large black housecat before disappearing throughthe hallway wall.
Abby ran to the twins’ light switch and turned on the lights. She checked to make sure Rowan and Siobhan were unharmed, and then hurried to Ciaran’s room, flicking on lights as she ran. Ciaran was still fast asleep—her scream had not disturbed him at all.
She jerked open his closet door and found his aluminum baseball bat. Then, scooping him and the quilt up from his bed, she ran back to Rowan and Siobhan’s room. She shut the door and nestled the five year old into a make-shift bed on the floor. Sitting against the dresser next to him, she hummed, trying to reassure herself. Armed with the bat and the adrenaline coursing through her body, she waited.
Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Melissa Eskue Ousley
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Melissa Eskue Ousley is the author of The Solas Beir Trilogy. “Sign of the Throne,” the first book of this young adult fantasy series, will be released on September 14. She is currently working on the second and third novels in the trilogy, “The Rabbit and the Raven” and “The Sower Comes.”
Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and their Kelpie, Gryphon. When she’s not writing, Melissa can be found swimming, hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, or walking along the beach, poking dead things with a stick.
Before she became a writer, she had a number of educational jobs, ranging from a summer spent scraping roadkill off a molten desert highway to years spent conducting research with an amazing team of educators at the University of Arizona.
SHOWCASE Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. Congratulations on your book: Sign of the Throne.
Rumor has it that you have two more books on the horizon called “The Rabbit and the Raven” and “The Sower Comes.” Can you tell us the timeline for their release and give us a little tease?
Thank you! I hope people enjoy reading “Sign of the Throne” as much as I enjoyed writing it. “The Rabbit and the Raven” comes out spring 2014, and “The Sower Comes” will be released fall 2014. In the second book, we’ll travel throughout Cai Terenmare, learning more about Tynan Tierney and the Oracles.
David will discover that power comes with a price, and Abby will find out why Lucia fell for the dark side. Being seduced by darkness may be easier than she imagined. In the third book, the fate of Cai Terenmare will be decided.
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How are you developing your social media contacts?
As a writer, networking on Goodreads has been extremely important, and I’m finding that my experiences there are enhanced by social media like Twitter. I’ve enjoyed meeting readers, bloggers, and other authors (although that precariously balanced tower of books next to my nightstand is growing ever taller as I discover new books I want to read).
I’m learning about new ways to promote my books and I’m spreading the word about other authors as well. I’ve found that Twitter, Facebook, and Red Room are helpful tools for sharing about my writing, posting reviews, and connecting with people.
I see you are going to do book signing, interviews, and personal appearances? When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
Great question. On my web site, MelissaEskueOusley.com, I’ll be posting events:
I have a signing coming up in October in Portland, Oregon, but we’re still finalizing details on the location and time.
You have a great cover. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach?
Thanks! One nice thing about working with a smaller press is that designing the cover is a collaborative process. I made an initial sketch, and discussed it with the publisher. Since we are working on a trilogy, we wanted to use similar design elements for all three books. We passed the sketch on to the artist, who translated our ideas into a beautiful cover. He is currently working on covers for the other two books, and they look gorgeous. I can’t wait to share them.
You have a great book trailer. (See link below.) It looks very professional. Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailers? Do you use the trailer in your character development? Are the pictures and background the way you see your characters and scenes?
Thank you! I’m really happy with how the trailer turned out. I made ink and watercolor sketches, photographed them, and then enhanced the dream-like feel of the artwork using Snapseed. Then I used iMovie to create the trailer. My brilliant brother composed the song for me, and I think he did a great job matching the mood of the visuals. The trailer is a little different from how I see my characters. It is more symbolic and surreal—when I see the characters in my head while writing, the scenes play out more like a movie.
What writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
Goodreads has been a great resource for me in connecting with other writers. I don’t belong to a writer support group, but I do ask other writers and my editor for advice. I have some first readers as well that I trust for candid feedback.
Are you planning a book tour? If so, where can readers join in?
I’ll be posting events in several places: my web site
(MelissaEskueOusley.com), on my author page on Goodreads, and on Redroom.com. The schedule for the blog tour is posted on my web site.
How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?
I’m definitely more of a “pantser” and less of a plotter, but as I listen to my characters and learn more about them, I keep a lot of notes. I have a journal for this, but sometimes said notes are scribbled on whatever is on hand—a hastily grabbed piece of paper, or more often post-its—and then I transcribe the notes and include them at the end of the manuscript file. I know it doesn’t sound like it, but there is a method to my madness.
What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews or did you send out pre-releases?
I sent out pre-releases to professional reviewers and bloggers, as well as to readers who were interested in reading for review. Goodreads is a great place for connecting with reviewers.
So you have a Wildcat background. I won‘t hold that against you. (I’m a Sun Devil.) How much of the process of writing, editing, marketing and the whole thing do you do yourself? Is there any advice that you can give other authors that are just starting their writing careers?
Ha ha! Fair enough. I won’t hold your Sun Devil background against you either. Go Cats! Bear down, Arizona… (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) As far as advice though, I highly recommend working with a professional editor. I absolutely adore my editor—she specializes in the young adult genre, and in addition to correcting my shoddy grammar, she is very skilled in developmental editing, asking me brilliant questions to strengthen the manuscript.
She understands what I’m trying to do with the story and offers great advice. My publisher also helps with editing and advice. As far as marketing, I work very closely with my publisher to find publicity resources, and then pursue them. I think writers really have to be active in marketing their books and using social media. I view it as my own business where I get to be creative. It’s a different kind of creativity than writing, but I enjoy it.
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