A Bond Of Venom and Magic
The Goddess and the Guardians, #1
by Karen Tomlinson
Publication date: October 14th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
The Wraith Lord is hunting; his prize, the key to unleashing darkness and Chaos upon the eight Kingdoms.
For Diamond Gillon the war raging in the south seems a remote danger until her home is brutally attacked. Having lost everything she holds dear, Diamond is catapulted into a terrifying new world in which legendary beasts arise, magic is condemned and half blood fae, like her, have no rights. Despite her growing feelings for her saviour, Commander Hugo Casimir, he remains a paradox – not only is he a heartless killer, he is owned by the cruel immortal fae queen; a queen who will murder her own people for magic.
As Diamond’s circumstances become ever more perilous she is drawn deeper into Hugo’s world and discovers the lengths to which he will go to save what he holds dear. Will Hugo become her friend, her protector, or – an enemy not worthy of her trust?
A Bond of Venom and Magic is a tale of two people bound by magic and secrets, but trapped in the complexities of love and betrayal. It is the beginning of an epic journey, one that will test Diamond’s resolve and determination to battle an evil that threatens not only her world but that of Eternity, the land of The Guardians and The Goddess.
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Fuming at his touch, Diamond rubbed her arm when he let go. With flushed cheeks, her bejewelled eyes only served to enhance her beauty. Hatefully, she cursed him under her breath. Jerking her, he shoved her down onto her chair, a bitter taste coating his tongue. He shouldn’t have expected anything else. He had practically delivered her to the Queen, then stood by whilst his subordinates beat her and then he, not them, had threatened to throw her in the dungeons.
“It’s not polite to call names,” he snapped under his breath, raising his eyebrows in warning.
“It is if you deserve it,” she shot back through gritted teeth, her back straight and her chin angled defiantly.
“Why? Because I brought you here? Diamond, I saved your life. Do you think there was another choice?” he asked bitterly. Instantly his magic flared to life, reacting to her stormy emotions. He growled. This was an unbearable situation. It was always exhausting hiding his magic when he was with others, and right now, trying to curb the angry waves of energy pouring from him was nearly impossible. “Do it again and I’ll spank you like the ungrateful child you are,” he fumed.
“Really? What, right now? I doubt that,” she sneered. “It would degrade you too much, especially in front of these small-minded morons—and those guards who, correct me if I’m wrong, are your inferiors. And what about your Queen? You wouldn’t dare demean yourself in front of her. Would you?” Challenge laced her voice. “No, you’ll wait until we are alone again and then attack me. Or perhaps, commander, you’ll let your friend Attion do it for you. Maybe you’ll let him do more than just grope me with his filthy hands while you grovel on your knees for your Queen,” she jeered, disgust and shame pulsing from her.
Hugo’s heart briefly stopped as he digested those words and her emotions slammed into him.
Attion had done what?! Rage fuelled a sudden surge of heat that seared his blood and pounded through his head. Hugo stared at her, his nostrils flaring as he fought for control, but he did not give in to his magic’s demand for release; instead, he mastered it, rolled it into a tight ball and thrust it inside a cage, not forgotten or extinguished but saved—for later.
Hugo took some deep breaths, fighting to keep his face neutral in the onslaught of his feelings and hers—confusion, hurt, fear—but even they were overshadowed by her rage at him. Suddenly, he wanted take her up on that scornful challenge. He wanted to show her that he did not care what any of these people thought. She did not understand that bringing her here had been the only way to save her.
In a flurry of twinkling gossamer material, Diamond twisted to face him and he released a large relieved breath, making it sound like an angry huff. Her defiance in the face of all that was happening to her lifted his heart. Her fear of him, and this court, wasn’t so great it had curbed her spirit; if anything, she was more defiant. Using his best dominant stare, he fixed a glare on her; then suddenly, out of nowhere, despite her taunts and the anger pulsing against him, he had an urge to laugh.
Even the shadow of his Queen and the sadistic Lord Commander Ream could not prevent the corners of his mouth twitching up at the thought of throwing her over his knee and spanking her perfect rear until she squealed. He cracked a wider smile when she snorted her irritation and crossed her arms over her chest, giving him the cold shoulder.
“Go to hell!” she hissed, clearly furious. “None of this is funny!” He coughed, bringing his amusement under control. His voice softened and he gently touched
her arm. “No, it isn’t,” he agreed. “But I’m not laughing at you, Diamond. I’m just happy you can still find it in you to tell me to go to hell after everything that has happened today.”
Those amazing violet eyes flicked to his and he saw her hesitant smile, then felt her desperate need to believe him. ”Are you?” she asked softly.
“I’m sorry if I hurt your arm,” he said sincerely, sitting down on the chair next to her and leaning in close enough only she could hear him now. “And I am sorry for bringing you to this palace. It truly was to save your life. I am also sorrier than you will ever know that I am sworn to serve the Queen,” he said quietly, and although he had no idea why he uttered those words out loud to her, he found he meant them with all his heart. Apologising for his Queen could get him executed on the spot. Yet it was true. Hurting Diamond was the last thing he wanted, and it was suddenly important she knew that.
Diamond’s dress sparkled like it was peppered with bejewelled raindrops when she turned toward him and held his gaze. Captivated, he could not look away. For a few seconds they stared at each other, lost to the people around them. Her head tilted to one side as she scrutinised him. Without thinking he pushed his magic against her, caressing her and willing her to feel the truth of his words. Her cheeks flushed and her throat bobbed.
“I believe you are, Hugo. In which case I forgive you,” she declared with quiet dignity, then smirked coyly at him. “But only if you promise not to throw me over your knee and spank me in front of all these lords and ladies.”
“Alright,” he breathed, swallowing his relief. “But only for tonight and only if you behave.” Eyes glittering, he cocked his head and released a throaty chuckle. “Otherwise I will whisk you away where we are alone, throw you across my knee and spank you until you beg me to stop,” he drawled, delighting in her flustered reaction.
Seconds ticked by as he pinned her with a meaningful stare. His heart pounded as her emotions raced from doubt, to embarrassment, to anticipation before her face lit with a dazzling smile. His heart stopped. What a strange sensation to make someone happy, to make them smile.... Hugo caught his breath and tucked that beautiful image away in his heart.
“Fine,” she agreed breathily. “I’ll behave—for now.”
Still flushed, she dropped her eyes and gave him one last shy look through her lashes before turning away to talk to Tom, who sat next to her.
No longer distracted by Diamond’s flushed cheeks, Hugo blew out a breath and, still smiling, glanced up. Then froze. Jack glared at him and the Queen’s green eyes regarded him with cold speculation.
Hugo had not smiled or relaxed like that in front of anyone since he had been a child, and never in front of his Queen. Jack’s glare said it all. How could I have been so heedless of where I was? Kicking himself he forced his blank gaze to briefly meet his monarch’s. With his heart thumping fearfully in his chest, he bowed his head in respect. Did I just condemn Diamond? Shapely, full lips twitched in the merest smile but it was that icy immortal gaze, fixed upon Diamond, that sickened Hugo. Predatory and utterly focused, it was the look a cat gave a mouse before stalking it, pinning it and devouring it until nothing but a pile of bloodied bones remained.
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1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I’ve always been a massive reader, and would make up stories in my head as a child as I fell asleep, (usually involving princes, and big battles) I tried writing romance stories in my early twenties but as I worked shifts and had to carry an old word processor around with me, I found it impossible to complete anything.
2. What is your work schedule like when you're writing? I have a very busy life. I work full time and have two children, a dog (and a husband) to care for, so I write whenever and wherever I can. I have learnt to block out the outside world and immerse my mind in my fantasy world.
3. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? Oh my goodness, I love, love love, words…far too much! So far ABOVAM has started at 260,000 words, book two was 264,000 words (now 143,000) and so far, book 3 is at 125,000 words. My quirk is, I write far too much…!!
4. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? In my head…got loads of ideas in there! But I also take note of the world around me, and I mean everything. I love to visit old castles and houses, I listen to the news and the tragedies that befall people. I also really love to people watch. I have met a great many people in the course of my work and take note of personalities that annoy me or that I find endearing and try and incorporate them somewhere.
5. When did you write your first book and how old were you? When I was in my early twenties I wrote a romance. I didn’t finish it but I found the manuscript years later at the bottom of a drawer. It was terribly corny!!
6. What do you like to do when you're not writing? There are never enough hours in the day for me, so I make time for things as well as writing. I am a very active person and like to keep fit. I love to walk in the hills with my dog but I also swim and go to the gym at least once a week and I run if I can find the time. I am a karate instructor but I cannot find the time at present to take a class. I practise pad work and fighting skills with a friend of mine at the gym as often as I can. I also make time to read too… I don’t watch TV much anymore as I simply can’t fit it in.
7. What does your family think of your writing? My daughters love the idea. My oldest twin is a big reader. They were the reason I started writing again. ABOVAM started life as their bedtime story and evolved from there. My husband does his best to understand my obsession with books, not to mention all the time I’ve dedicated to ABOVAM. He’s getting there…. My parents and sisters have been extremely supportive and encouraging, which is great, and I could not have done this wihtout the support of a few close friends who have held me up when I have been down, and told me that the book was good enough for other people to read.
8. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? I’ve always been someone who likes to achieve my goals but I never thought I’d get to achieve writing one book, let alone have the ideas in my head for a complete series. I learned that I am a damn sight more determined than I ever thought I was and the more people told me I wouldn’t manage it, the more I knew I would!
9. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? A Bond of Venom and Magic is my first full novel. I have completed and am editing book 2 and have more or less writen book 3. I have also started a prequel about the Queen of Avalonia that I would like to use as a free gift for mailing list sign ups in the future.
10. Speaking of favorites which is your favorite character, couple or thing to write about? Hugo is by far my favourite character, followed by Attion. I think it’s because they seem so strong physically but inside they have lots of issues that make them interesting. I also love writing about relationships…its so exciting to see where things go with characters.
11. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they? Honestly I think writing is such a personal thing. The bits of advice that have stuck in my head the most are: ‘finish your story’, even if you only write a small amout each day. If you don’t finish you can’t progress; and ‘stay true to your own story.’ I fell foul of trying to ‘fit in’ to what an agent or readers might want, and ended up deleting and changing my story to suit others until it didn’t feel right for me and I lost my way. I had not deleted the files completely and when I became tired of trying to conform to traditional publishing ideas,agents and trying to second guess what people want, I went back to my own ideas and story… and it felt goood!
12. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? At the moment I don’t have a huge following as my book is not released, but I love to hear from readers. It can be random things people talk about, but the feedback and reviews from the Advanced Reader Copies has been fantastic! I will chat with anyone on my Facebook group or twitter https://twitter.com/kytomlinson It’s also fantastic to meet some very lovely people. I talk with my readers about ABOVAM but I also chat with them about everyday things too, family, writing, work; that sort of thing…whatever happens to come up.
13. What do you think makes a good story? Tension, angst, love, hate, a beginning, an exciting action-packed middle and a cliffhanger ending…(or a satisfying ending for a stand alone or series conclusion) I love some sexual tension and competition between the protagonists. I also think every story needs a few wonderfully evil villains…, plot twists are good but not always necessary and can sometimes be distracting, as can too much description and complicated political systems…too much brain ache!
14. What have you found most helpful in marketing your book? What have you found least helpful? Is there anything you want to warn authors to stay far, far away from? The most helpful thing in marketing for me has been real people! Some people are just genuinely nice and want to help. I love people like that. They have been generous and supportive and willing to share my work. I have spent hours and hours learning about marketing and attending webinars and reading advice, but at the end of the day no-one really knows what will work. I don’t have a massive budget for marketing at the present time as funding the publishing process can be expensive. But I am lucky enough to have a job that I can work over-time in. I have asked other authors what has worked, and joined writers groups and monitored what works for authors in those groups. I would advise researching any sites you are going to give money to for services. Get feedback and testimonials before you part with your cash. There is a lot of rubbish out there.
15. Who created your cover art? If you did it yourself, could you explain how you did it? If someone else did it, how did you hear about their services? What was it like working with them? I absolutely love my cover art. I was initially torn between two cover artists, but I am glad I went with Jonas. He is young and self-taught and is thoroughly amazing! He has built up a massive on line following and is so fabulous with fantasy art. Initially Jonas produced a cover that I felt was too dark for a fantasy aimed at the YA market but before I could tell him he had already sent the sketch of the cover we have now. I fell in love with it immediately. I had an idea of what I wanted and he nailed it without me even having to vocalise it. I found Jonas on Deviant art and emailed him. He is most active on Instagram
16. Do you have an editor? Did you edit your own manuscript? Do you have advice for other authors editing it themselves or hiring someone else? Editing your own manuscript is an absolute must! You have to be honest and brutal with cutting bits you don’t really need. If you are like me and love your words this is an extremely painful process! And no matter how many times you go through your manuscript you need to get it Beta read. This is also very painful. Only give it to people you know will be honest but also constructive in their criticism. Editing is a very expensive process but a very necessary one. I chose an editor from another book series I read that wasn’t unaffordable but I still needed to do more corrections after ARC feedback and they are still coming in, so don’t rely completely on someone else.
17. Where have you decided to publish your books? (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc.) All of the above for e-books and I am giving Amazon Create Space a go for my print books…we’ll see how it goes.
18. Did you format your own book? Did you run into any trouble formatting it? Do you have any advice to fellow authors about formatting their books? I am super busy doing eveything else for the booklaunch and did not want to even try and figure out formatting, so I have paid for a formatter for the ebooks and have just approached a formatter for the print books.
19. Do you have a current work in progress or a book coming out soon? Tell us about them: Like I have mentioned I am currently deep in the throws of editing book 2 of The Goddess and the Guardians series. This series will be 4/5 books long. In Book 2 Diamond and Hugo have to figure out their magical issues nad much much more in order to survive. Diamond learns many new skills with weapons and magic, and Hugo learns much about himself. We also get to see Diamond singlehandedly battle the wraith lord…..Yay! I have many more books in my head, one in particular that keeps creeping into my thoughts; but that’s way down the line and the characters will just have to wait their turn!!
Karen Tomlinson is the author of The Goddess and the Guardians series of Young Adult fantasy books. Book one A Bond of Venom and Magic will be released October 14th 2016.
Karen has always been an avid reader. Her taste in books is eclectic but she likes nothing better than an exciting fantasy, set in a new and magical world. She lives in Derbyshire, England, with her husband, twin girls and her dalmatian, Poppy. Karen trained as a nurse and currently works as a resuscitation and clinical skills trainer, this involves training a wide variety of health care professionals and medical students in acute patient care. In addition to writing, and reading whenever she can, Karen likes to keep active. She has been training at Shotokan karate since being thirteen, likes walking, mountain biking and (for something completely different) cake decorating. She is currently working on book two in The Goddess and the Guardians series.
As soon as I could read I spent hours getting lost in the new worlds books could give me. Spending my pocket money had to be done (obviously) but not on sweets, well, not many…I spent my money on books. Back then it was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five which sparked my young mind. I didn’t rest until I had the whole set, then I migrated to the secret seven…(there was no Harry Potter then) As a teenager I would trawl through all my mum and dad’s discarded books. It was probably highly inappropriate for a thirteen year old to be reading swoony Mills and Boon romances followed by Ian Flemming, Alistair Maclean and Wilbur Smith!
Because I read anything and everything I could get my hands on back then, I now have an eclectic taste in books. I will read anything that catches my eye and absolutely love illustrated book covers! In my late teens I discovered fantasy and that genre has stayed my firm favourite. I am and will always remain a complete sucker for a fantasy with kick ass characters and worlds steeped in magic and romance!