Thursday, July 17, 2014

Endre is Here (with a Giveaway!)


We're celebrating the release of Endre (Elsker Saga #2)
by S.T. Bende!
Kindle | Paperback | Nook | Kobo
Endre (Elsker Saga #2) by S.T. Bende
Upper YA/NA Paranormal Romance

Blurb:

Sometimes, finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what The Fates have planned.

Winning the heart of an immortal assassin was a dream come true for Kristia Tostenson. Now she’s knee deep in wedding plans, goddess lessons, and stolen kisses. But her decision to become immortal could end in heartbreak -- not only for Kristia, but for the god who loves her. Because while Ull would do anything to protect his bride, even the God of Winter is powerless against the Norse apocalypse. Ragnarok is coming.

And the gods aren’t even close to ready.

Excerpt

When I came to, my chest heaved with sobs. Cold sweat cloaked my body from my forehead to the backs of my knees. My hair was damp, my pulse was racing, and my fingers gripped the sheets so tightly my knuckles ached. I was in my room at Ýdalir, the one place I had always felt safe. Only now I was absolutely terrified.

I ripped the covers off and wrapped my arms around my legs. My nose twitched at an unfamiliar smell. I pulled the cord on the bedside lamp, and looked around to see what might be burning. There was no smoke in the room; all of the furniture seemed to be intact. But when I glanced down, I saw the hems of my pajamas. They were black, singed from the fire I’d desperately hoped had been part of a dream.

This time things had gone too far. If my smoldering pant legs were any indication, being injured in a vision could have far-reaching worldly consequences. And if Elfie had come that close to killing me . . .

Ull had his rules, but I no longer cared. I jumped out of bed and raced down the hallway. When I reached his door I pounded on the distressed wood. Tears streamed down my face but I didn’t bother to wipe them away. The downpour was too intense; it wouldn’t have done any good anyway.

The door flew open and Ull stood on the other side. He wore a loose pair of grey sweatpants and nothing else. Oh hot bejeebus. There was no way this guy was for real. It just wasn’t humanly possible to look that good.

Oh, right. Ull wasn’t human.

Despite the agony coursing through my awakening consciousness, this was a moment of glory I’d remember forever—the first time I saw Ull’s naked torso. His sweats hung low on his hips, affording me a view of the cut just above the bone.

Holy Lord.

“Kristia?” Ull rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He took in my matted hair, tear-streaked face, and shaking hands. “Great Odin. What happened?”

He pulled me to him, crushing my face against the muscles of his chest. The knot in my stomach loosened infinitesimally. Just being near Ull gave me peace, but being this near Ull was like taking a sedative. Breathing in his woodsy smell made my panic subside. And when he pressed his hands against me—one to my hair, the other against the small of my back—my gut knew I was safe. Nothing bad could happen to me so long as I was in Ull’s arms. I inhaled again, letting his familiar scent fill me from the inside until my shaking stilled. Then I pressed my lips against his skin. Hard.

“Sweetheart?” he asked again.

“I had another vision and it freaked me out. Can I stay with you?” I didn’t take my lips off his chest as I spoke. I couldn’t. He tasted divine—like spruce and soap and home. There was a very real possibility my mouth might be permanently adhered to his flesh, like a kid who’d tried to lick a frozen railing.

Only this was far less unpleasant.




GIVEAWAY:



The Amazon bestselling Upper YA Paranormal Romance series inspired by Norse mythology and featured in USA Today.

What reviewers are saying about The Elsker Saga:

"The characters will leave an imprint on your heart and mind for a long time to come." -Lisa (Bound by Books) 
"Bende takes classic bits of Norse mythology and throws in original elements to create her own tasty Nordic blend... I'll definitely be checking out the sequel!" -Bookalicious Reviews 
"One of my favorite books of the year." -White Zin Bookends 
"Action packed with a heart pounding romance!" -Curse of the Bibliophile 
"This book was nearly impossible to put down and I'm dying for the sequel!" -Brittany and Bianca Blab Books (now BiblioBelles)

Tur: An Elsker Saga Novella (Prequel)


Inga Andersson is the envy of every girl in Asgard. On the surface she has it all -- great friends, a job as Odin’s personal fight choreographer, and a happy ever after with her realm’s hottest assassin. But when evil invades Asgard, her perfect world comes crashing down. Someone is planning to kill off the gods, and Inga’s best friend Ull is first on their list. With the Norse apocalypse a nanosecond away, Inga has to decide how she’ll spend her final moments of freedom. Because from the moment this battle begins, Inga’s happily ever after will be nothing more than a memory.

Some things are worth fighting for.

Elsker: The Elsker Saga Book One

You don't win the heart of an immortal assassin without making a few enemies along the way. Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs, but when she transfers from her one-stoplight town to Cardiff University in Wales she falls in love with Ull Myhr. Her new boyfriend isn't exactly what she was expecting. He's an honest to goodness Norse God - an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth. Kristia's crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms.

Her orderly life just got very messy.


About ST Bende:
Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of McVities cookies. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the books of The Elsker Saga. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day, pastries will be considered a health food.

Find ST on Twitter @stbende or her blog (http://stbende.blogspot.com). While you’re at it, introduce yourself to @UllMyhr -- when he’s not saving the cosmos from dark elves, he loves meeting new friends. Especially the human kind.






(Yes, I'm still on Hiatus, I swear! But you can't expect me not to support my fellow Norse Myth Author and #ThorLove friend! Elsker is a lot of fun if you haven't read it -- start with the (Free!) prequel, Tur, and go from there--if you like sweet romance with supernatural heroes, it's definitely worth checking out The Elsker Saga!)

Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5)
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Hiatus and the Editing Cave

All right friends and followers, I'm neck deep in editing this week, and then summer hits hard with Family Invasion (followed by and then following my birthday)! So I'm going to be away from the blog for the next few weeks, and I hope you'll hang in there with me because BEYOND FATE is coming in September and I can't wait for you to experience the magic (and the #ThorLove, of course!), but I've got a lot to do before it gets here.

Hopefully I'll have some other most excellently awesome news to share with you soon, too -- I may or may not have a paranormal romance novella up my sleeve, and there might be goats involved, but that's all I won't confirm for the moment!

In the meantime, we're halfway through July, and there's never been a better time to start reading Fate of the Gods, if you haven't already given it a shot!

I'll see you on the flip!


Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5)
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Publishing is Hard (I)

One thing I've noticed since I started this journey of writing with the intent to publish is that the whole entire experience is kind of designed to drive authors and writers crazy. The journey to publication is like a crucible, burning out the impurities -- those authors who shouldn't be making the trip, and ANY idea or sense of entitlement in an author. There is truth in the expression "If you can quit writing, you should." Save yourself the heartache. Seriously.

For myself, something I've noticed, is that before something good can come of it, I must be beaten and broken into the dirt. I must be seriously reassessing my life choices to seek publication at all. I must be giving up on writing entirely in a serious, bone-weary way. I must be wallowing in my despair of ever finding any (further, more,) success. And not only because I've been on submission for an eon, or because I was in the query trenches for an even longer age, but because everything in my life around me is blowing up, too. Financial woes. Personal woes. Business woes. Family woes.

But ultimately, it is always darkest before the dawn. Because once I reach the bottom of that pit of despair where I am verging on surety that I have made a terrible decision and it is time to just give up on chasing this dream, because it is just never going to happen, and it is not fair to the people around me that I keep investing so much into it at their expense, that is when I get an email or a phone call that changes everything.

The first time this happened, it was after my Grandfather had suffered his first stroke, and things were looking pretty grim. The house was a revolving door for guests -- family members coming and going to help my grandfather with his recovery -- and it was very likely, as unsuited as I was to the whole of it, that I, too, would be burdened with some portion of his care. My life was rapidly spiraling out of my control, and I felt very much as if I was being crushed under the weight of family obligation and expectation, with a heaping side of crippling guilt.

I remember one night, I had sunk to the cool, blue linoleum of the kitchen floor in front of the refrigerator, and I looked up at my cousin standing by the door and said: "I can't do this. I think I'm going to quit writing. I have to." Without hesitation or consideration, she said immediately: "No, you're not."

Within days, World Weaver Press contacted me about my Fate of the Gods books. And I flew through the house, sprinting to the guest room/living room/office where my aunt from California was staying, and that same cousin was ensconced, ready and waiting for me to "just check my email quick" before we started watching the summer Olympics, and the news burst out of me in a rush. I had an offer of publication. Someone wanted my books. Someone believed in my books. Someone believed in me. It was a lifeline. A sign, so close on the heels of my late night confession of doubt and despair.

I wasn't quitting writing after all.

At least not yet.



Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5)
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Taming Fate Blog Tour Round-Up

In case you missed it, here's the guest post round-up! Filled with fascinating topics related to TAMING FATE and writer-me, generally.



and


If you've already finished reading TAMING FATE (or any of the other books in the Fate of the Gods series), please head on over to Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, and leave a review -- they really do a book and an author-body good!



Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5)
Buy Now:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

15th Century Music to Celebrate TAMING FATE! Released Today!

Taming Fate is here! In paperback and ebook, and available for your reading pleasure -- and in case you missed the memo, I've got cover copy below, and! an excerpt!

But first, since this Fate of the Gods installment is set in the 1400s, I thought some 15th Century music might be in order to set the mood. A little taste of what Eve might have heard in church or at a banquet, or maybe even danced to with the Marquis DeLeon. (As an added bonus, there's a lot of great 15th Century art in the accompanying video -- to check out when you're not too busy binge reading Taming Fate to these fantastic tunes, of course.)



Taming Fate
Fate of the Gods: Book 2.5


For the first time in her many lives, Eve would rather be anywhere but home.

In 15th Century France, Eve would have burned as a witch if it hadn’t been for the too-timely arrival of the Marquis DeLeon to save her skin. But Eve didn’t ask to be rescued, and their hasty marriage is off to anything but a smooth start. As tensions in the town grow and plague threatens, Ryam DeLeon knows if he and Eve cannot find common ground, their first Christmas may be their last.

Previously published in the anthology A Winter’s Enchantment.


Chapter One (Excerpt)

The man who sat across the table was a stranger. Dark hair, dark eyes, his face so familiar, and yet so different. The Marquis DeLeon showed more affection to his dogs and his horses than he did to his wife. It wasn’t that he hadn’t tried, Eve reminded herself. That he didn’t still try. But from the moment she had not thrown herself into his arms, weeping with gratitude and relief, he had been at a loss as to what to do with her, how to move forward.

Oh, they’d married, of course. And even consummated their vows, not that the Church had not been known to ignore such evidence when it suited them. Which was why the Marquis wished to have children, as quickly as possible.

And he believed simply by saying so, by announcing this desire to her, for the security of their marriage and her own personal safety, she would welcome him unreservedly to her bed. And why shouldn’t she? Weren’t children the entire point of her existence? Shouldn’t she wish to carry on her line, expand her family? She pressed her lips together to keep them from curling at the memory of his words. His entire attitude.

Arrogant, pig-headed, insufferable man. From someone else, she might have expected it, but from a DeLeon—from her husband, when he knew her for what she was, knew she was more than just Anessa, daughter of some minor nobleman from Avignon—it was all the more frustrating.

“Will you go riding today?” he asked politely, tossing a bit of bread to the dog at his feet. A lean hound, tall and fast and elegant. She’d watched the Marquis working with it, sending it running after balls and sticks and the occasional servant, equipped with some sort of lure.

“I ride every day,” she answered, just as polite. A servant placed a plate of cheese between them, on the table. The last of the breakfast offerings, and more than she would have had elsewhere after St. Martin’s day. “Thank you, Robert. You needn’t serve us further.”

Her husband sat up, his eyes narrowing at her dismissal of the servant. But of course he didn’t contradict her. He wouldn’t, for appearances. She was, after all, the lady of the manor as his wife. And his dislike of her methods would not stop her from employing them. Not as long as he treated her with the same consideration he showed a brood mare.

“Anessa,” he began, after the room had cleared of servants. “You cannot truly mean to go on this way. Not permitting the servants to do their work, taking so much upon yourself. It is all well and good to give them some small holiday during Christmastide, but—”

“Christmastide is nearly here,” she interrupted. “And the running of this manor is mine, as your wife.”

“And what do you intend for Christmas itself? That we return from the mass and make ourselves some cold plate? It’s hardly a fitting way to end forty days of fasting!”

“The servants and maids have fasted too, all this time, and why shouldn’t they have some relief from their burdens?” The cheese was soft enough to spread, but she missed the butter they’d given up as an extravagance. For a religion neither one of them believed in. “I’ll cook the Christmas feast myself. For all of us.”

The Marquis opened his mouth, then shut it with an audible snap, his jaw tight. “And I suppose you insist upon this? That your mind is made up? You’ll not attend the mass yourself, then, either, I suppose.”

“Not if it can be avoided.” It wasn’t as if Christmas day was anything more than the church’s attempt to appease the pagans who would have celebrated solstice, even after their conversion. Jesus hadn’t been born in winter, and she should know. It had been her body which had brought him to term and birthed him, so long ago.

“Had I known you were such a stubborn thing—”

“What, my lord?” she demanded, the last thread of control over her temper snapping. “You would have left me to the inquisitor’s justice? Let me burn alive? Had it come to that, I would have survived, and it would have served as proof enough of my innocence. I never asked you to come for me. I never asked for this marriage. For any of this!”

“Nor will you ever need to ask for our protection, the protection of your own family,” he said tightly. “Why you insist on punishing me for doing my duty to you, I cannot understand in the slightest.”

“If you did not wish to marry me, you need not have bothered. You might have let the whole of it be a farce and left me to my own devices. I would have drawn no attention to myself as your ward. I have no need for position or power, you must know that.”

“And yet I chose to give it to you, all the same. To give you the respect you deserve beneath my roof. Oh, how I have wronged you!”

“Don’t be snide, my lord Marquis. It does not suit such a noble name.”

“And the lady of the manor roasting venison for le Réveillon does?” he mocked. “Or avoiding Christ’s mass, for that matter? I cannot protect you if you will make no effort to keep appearances.”

And this was what her family had become? Slaves to the Church, slaves to the King, when she had given up her innocence in the Garden, at the dawn of Creation, to make them free. The Church was as bad as Adam, crushing its people beneath its heels, and she refused to fear it. No matter how many times the priests threatened to burn her as a witch.

“This is my family, my lands, if I cannot be true to myself here, where might I find any whisper of freedom?”

He dragged his fingers through his hair as if he wished to tear it from his head altogether. “I do not mean to tell you that you cannot be free,” he bit out. “Only that some sacrifices must be made to avoid further difficulties. Turning the manor upside down with these strange customs of yours serves nothing but to draw attention to yourself and me. And once the Church notices, if your escape here is realized and the inquisitors are sent once more, there is little I might do to stop them from doing you harm, my lady.”

“They were bought once,” she mumbled, looking away. He was right, of course. Priests talked, and the absence of the Marquis’ wife from the midnight mass was not something that would be overlooked for any excuse. If word reached Avignon, the inquisitors would come.

All the more reason why they never should have been married.

“I did not buy an inquisitor,” he said gently. “I bought only a lesser priest, and it cost me a goodly fortune. The repairs to the palace in Avignon will not come cheap, nor does his silence on the matter.”

“Repairs to the palace?” She stared. “You can’t be serious, surely. I thought it was only some small stipend…”

His lips pressed together, forming a grim line.

“You are serious.” It was hardly believable, the expense, and for what? To prevent the inconvenience of her trial, the trauma of the result?

One of the blessings of being Eve was that she could not be killed. Not before her time. Not even by an inquisitor, invoking God. And even if by some miracle they managed it, she would be born again, live again for another life.

“Why, Ryam? It was hardly worth so much.”

“You are worth more, still,” he said. “Your safety is bound to my honor.”

“Ah,” she breathed. It all made so much more sense when he put it that way. He was sworn to protect her, and if he did not, he would be dishonored. Perhaps not in the eyes of any others but himself, his own family, but it did not matter. Any stain was too great. And in the end, it wasn’t about her at all.

“The estate can well afford it,” he went on. “I would not have you worry on that account. There is gold enough for three palaces, were it needed, I promise you. And better spent upon your safety than in any other pursuit.”

Better spent upon his honor. That was what he meant, whether he realized it or not.

Arrogant, insufferable, impossible man.

“Sadly, the fortune we’ve amassed is not near enough to buy Rome itself,” he was saying. “And even if they burn you and you survive, that will only bring you even more beneath her eye. You would have no peace, after. No peace until they had you crushed beneath their heel. Anything less only threatens them, and with all that has happened so recently—the popes and the renegades who claimed the title for themselves, the division of the Church in these last years—they can hardly risk another rallying cry. Surely you see that.”

Yes, she saw. She’d seen for some time that her very existence, were it known, threatened everything the fools had built. They pointed to their gospels and their letters, but she had lived it all. From the Garden, to the birth of Moses, to Jesus’ crucifixion. She knew the truth, and it had little to do with popes and palaces and midnight mass. But it would hardly have mattered if he had not insisted upon marrying her.

“You don’t believe any of it, and still you serve them.”

He stopped, hand half-way to his mouth with more bread, and met her eyes. He set the bread aside. “Unlike you, I will not survive if I am punished for heresy. And worse, I destroy the legacy you made for us. I am a Lion, my lady. Nothing matters more than that. If we ally ourselves with the powers of the land to ease our passage through time and maintain our heritage, at least we yet live.”

“Those powers are corrupt,” she said, lifting her chin. “And as long as you support them, you are painted with the same brush, stained by the same filth. If your honor is so dear to you, perhaps you ought to reconsider.”

His jaw worked, the muscles twitching beneath the skin as he struggled with his own self-control, and then he rose. “If you’ll excuse me.”

She watched him leave, but for some reason, it didn’t feel anything like victory.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

15th Century Fashion was Awful (And Eve Totally Agrees)

A (re)post of illustrated evidence, because really, I'm not sure the 15th century was a good look for anyone. Here are a few examples of why:
From Wiki Commons and it has ANNOTATIONS! GO LOOK!
The woman in red is the queen consort of France, I guess, Queen Isabeau, who I am told is, herself, Bavarian. The sleeves are pretty wicked but seriously the rest. I may be put off in part by the shaved gleaming white pasty forehead look and the crazy horned headdresses also, if I am being honest here. But I do kind of love the patterning on the red fabric so. There's that? I would so trip over those skirts all the time, guys. all the time. And speaking of tripping over things...


Another of the Queen (from wiki commons, natch). Talk about fancypants. How did they keep dresses like that clean? I mean really. I had a train on my wedding dress, and my white skirt was scuffed and dirty within 40 minutes of putting it on, even though I tried to keep it draped over my arm for 30 of those minutes. I'm just saying. Impossible. 

So maybe not everyone was as crazy as the French, hm? Maybe there were better looks! BEHOLD THE SPANISH! 

(from wiki commons)

These dudes, dudes. Those robe-like things! But I have to admit, that woman in the background with the black and blue and white dress is pretty sharp-looking, and if I had to pick one of those dresses to look kind of pregnant in (because seriously they all look like they are a little bit pregnant), it would be that one. 

And only that one. 

Lest you believe the lower classes had any kind of better deal in fashion, let me just give you a glimpse of what every man was wearing under those super long and ornate robes.

wiki commons
And now you know.

There are days I curse myself for including this particular period in the history of my novels. Thank goodness Eve can defy convention and skip the headdresses of doom when she's at home. And if you're curious how I made this all work when it came time to take the clothes OFF for some romancing, be sure to grab a copy of TAMING FATE, which is releasing as its own novella in paperback and ebook on June 24th, and tells the story of Eve's marriage to the Marquis DeLeon in 15th Century France! With some divine guest stars, of course. Mark it to-read on Goodreads today!

There also might have been something to do with rats and fleas involved in the production of this novella, too, just in case that's more interesting to you...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

TAMING FATE, now with Cover Art and Pre-orders!

As some of you may be aware, TAMING FATE is coming out on June 24th as a stand alone novella in ebook AND Paperback!! This means, of course, Cover Art, and I am happy to share it with you, today! First, a little refresher on the SUBJECT of Taming Fate (which is maybe one of my favorite didn't-make-it-into-the-books side stories, P.S.):

In 15th Century France, Eve would have burned as a witch if it hadn’t been for the too-timely arrival of the Marquis DeLeon to save her skin. But Eve didn’t ask to be rescued, and their hasty marriage is off to anything but a smooth start. As tensions in the town grow and plague threatens, Ryam DeLeon knows if he and Eve cannot find common ground, their first Christmas may be their last.


Previously published in the anthology A Winter’s Enchantment.

And the cherry on top about this release? You can pre-order it via World Weaver Press! Huzzah!! (And of course you can mark it to-read on goodreads, too!)

And tune in next week for some 15th century Fashion talk on the blog!