Thursday, May 29, 2014

Elsker is Here!

I've talked a little bit about S.T. Bende's ELSKER SAGA before, on the blog -- and for lovers of sweet paranormal romance with a hefty dose of Norse Myth, it's a can't miss! (There's even some Thor!) And as a fellow Norse-Myth-Lovin' Author, I am compelled to bring it to your attention for the greater good (which is of course the Norse-love-ification of the world) -- so, how about some excerpt action? And a book trailer? and... well, you'll see.

First, the basics:

B&N | Amazon | Kobo
Title: Elsker
Series: The Elsker Saga #1
Author: S.T. Bende
Genre/Age Range: Paranormal, Romance, New Adult
Release Date: May 29, 2014
Goodreads Link:

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.


“Are you sure you will be all right on the stairs?” Ull stood in the grand hall of Cardiff Castle, glancing at the four-inch, shiny death-traps Victoria called shoes. Since Ull’s eyes practically bugged out of his face when he picked me up, I had no intention of changing into the emergency flats I’d stuck in my purse. Victoria had scored another hit.
“Probably not. Walk behind me in case I fall?”
“It would be my pleasure.”
“On our right, the coats of arms,” continued the tour guide. He’d been talking for a good five minutes and I couldn’t remember a single word. That was because Ull had started stroking the small of my back when our tour began, and it took all my concentration just to stay upright.
“The castle is gorgeous.” I admired the stonework as we made our way toward the stairs. There I shifted focus to my feet, staring at each step until I’d reached the top. “Made it.”
“And I was so hoping I would get to catch you.” Ull came up next to me and skimmed my hand with the pads of his fingers.
“Well, the night is young and these shoes are high. You may still get your chance.”
“Tease.” Ull kissed my palm.
“Um.” I swayed on the heels and he chuckled.
“Come, Miss Tostenson. We are losing the group.”
We walked the long corridor framed with paintings. All of the history in these walls was kind of overwhelming. The castle was two thousand years old. The oldest thing we had back in Nehalem was probably the Homestead. Cardiff Castle had about eighteen hundred years on that farm.
“This place is huge,” I whispered when we’d caught up to the tour. “I can’t imagine living here. How could you ever get comfortable?”
“You get used to it,” Ull shrugged. “Find little corners to make your own.”
“How on earth could anyone get used to all of this?”
“When you are stuck in it every day it gets old. Trust me.”
“Right.” Like Ull was an authority on royal dwellings. “Living in a castle sounds sooo terrible.”
“Depends on the day.”
“What does that mean?”
“Just that these walls did more than keep people out -- they kept people in, too.”
I thought about my vision from Friday night -- of Ull and me in a meadow by a castle. Huh.
“Where did you say your family lived, exactly?” I probed.
But Ull bristled. I’d hit a nerve. “Come Kristia, we have lost our group again.” He gently pulled me down the hall.
“You may have noticed the Animal Wall in front of the Castle. Though William Burges designed the Wall in 1866, it was not constructed until 1890 -- nine years after Burges’s death.” The guide lifted an eyebrow as we caught up.  “Please do try to stay with the tour,” he admonished before turning down another corridor. The rest of the group followed closely.
“Sorry.” I ducked my head.
Ull raised a corner of his mouth in a smile. “Why, Kristia, you are blushing.”
“And?” I lifted my chin, and took a step back so I stood against the wall.
“It is sweet.”  Ull paused and lifted a finger to my cheek. My knees buckled and he grabbed my arm to steady me. The touch sent shockwaves straight to my head, leaving me with the unnerving sensation of being underwater. I lost my bearings again and Ull wrapped both hands around my waist to stop my fall.
“Sorry,” I mouthed. “Must be the shoes.” I couldn’t stop staring at his eyes. They almost looked nervous.
“Must be.” He ran his finger along my jaw, stopping to grasp my chin between his thumb and forefinger. His eyes focused on my mouth and my heartbeat accelerated. He ran his thumb lightly over my lips. They parted under his touch. A wave of heat shot from my lower lip straight to my abdomen, creating a slow burn that wasn’t altogether uncomfortable. I watched as his eyes slowly moved down then back up, lingering at the neckline of my dress. Victoria had been right about the push-up bra.
“Must be,” I repeated.
Ull drew his eyes away from my cleavage and took a step closer. He leaned one forearm against the wall, leaving me enveloped between the cold stone and his warm chest. I was suddenly very dizzy.
“Kristia,” he spoke in a whisper.
“Yes?” I whispered back. Ull was looking at me with an intensity I wasn’t prepared for. He stepped in, closing the last inch between us.
“Look at me.” He spoke again, lifting my chin so my lips were tilted towards his. If his body hadn’t been pressed against mine, I would have collapsed in a heap that instant. Instead, I took a shaky breath as Ull dropped his head. He ran his nose along my jaw line, pausing when he reached my ear. He breathed in, the cool air sending a shiver down my neck. With painstaking slowness he drew his nose across my cheek until our lips were almost touching. Now when I looked into his eyes I saw something entirely different. He was strong. Confident. And very much in control.
I let out a small sigh and immediately he covered my mouth with his. It wasn’t a gentle kiss -- it was commanding, almost forceful. I melted against him as he claimed my lips, moved down my jaw to consume my neck. My insides throbbed. In that moment, I would have done absolutely anything he asked me to.
“Kristia,” he whispered again.
“Mmm.” It was the best I could muster by way of response.
“I think we need to stop.”
In God’s name, why?
“Will you be joining the rest of my tour, or shall I leave the two of you here?” The guide stood at the end of the corridor, literally tapping his foot. Oops.
Ull placed his hands around my waist to right me. I smoothed my hair and straightened my dress, my cheeks burning the whole time.
“Great timing,” I muttered. Just when things were getting good.
“Do not worry Kristia.” Ull winked. “We have all the time in the world.”

I sure hoped so.

Book Trailer:

About the Author:
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 the musical Cats. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the ELSKER series. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day pastries will be considered a health food.

You can follow ST Bende on Twitter @stbende, or send an e-mail to
Website + Facebook + Twitter + Goodreads

And don't forget to party with us at the Facebook Elsker Book Birthday Bash, tomorrow night, where I'll be giving away some Fate of the Gods and Orc Saga e-books along with a bunch of other rockin' authors! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thor's Day is the Happening Place.

It's my wedding anniversary today! And in honor of that, I am taking the day off! Come back Thursday, when I will be taking part in the re-release day extravaganza for Elsker! Because #ThorLove!

I'll also be taking part in the release birthday party on facebook on the 30th, and giving away an e-copy of HONOR AMONG ORCS, FORGED BY FATE and TEMPTING FATE, and a 5 dollar Amazon gift card. So. Be there or be square/Mark it on your calendars/RSVP now!

and lookee! Here's a banner!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cover Reveal for the Fae Anthology

Long time readers of the blog will know Fae and Fairy Tales aren't always my cuppa -- I mean, I love Beauty and the Beast and all things which retell THAT tale, but the reading of the complete brothers Grimm in two weeks in high school has left a lasting impression of "please make it stop" which I haven't yet quite been able to overcome.

HOWEVER. Fairy tales are not something that anyone interested in mythology can overlook completely. They're important packages of cultural insight on their own, and certainly an evolution of myth in some cases. And that makes their retellings important too. Just as retellings keep Mythology alive and healthy, I think the same is true for Fairy Tales and their ilk. Which is why I'm taking part in this cover reveal for the FAE anthology, which releases July 22, 2014!

Here's some more info:

Meet Robin Goodfellow as you’ve never seen him before, watch damsels in distress rescue themselves, get swept away with the selkies and enjoy tales of hobs, green men, pixies and phookas. One thing is for certain, these are not your grandmother’s fairy tales. Fairies have been both mischievous and malignant creatures throughout history. They’ve dwelt in forests, collected teeth or crafted shoes. Fae is full of stories that honor that rich history while exploring new and interesting takes on the fair folk from castles to computer technologies and modern midwifing, the Old World to Indianapolis. Fae covers a vast swath of the fairy story spectrum, making the old new and exploring lush settings with beautiful prose and complex characters. Enjoy the familiar feeling of a good old-fashioned fairy tale alongside urban fantasy and horror with a fae twist.

With an introduction by Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman, and new stories from Sidney Blaylock Jr., Amanda Block, Kari Castor, Beth Cato, Liz Colter, Rhonda Eikamp, Lor Graham, Alexis A. Hunter, L.S. Johnson, Jon Arthur Kitson, Adria Laycraft, Lauren Liebowitz, Christine Morgan, Shannon Phillips, Sara Puls, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Kristina Wojtaszek.

And the Art!

So check it out, mark it to-read, and hey, there's a giveaway on goodreads, too!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Today's post will post Tomorrow! But here's a Postcard!

Tune back in on the 21st for a Cover reveal woo!

and in the meantime, here's a peek at what I've been doing when I haven't been writing (sometimes photoshop soothes my writerly nerves.)

Call it a mystery. or a Teaser. Or you know, both.

And come back tomorrow for the cover reveal for the Fae Anthology!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Diversity in Fiction and Media Matters

It isn’t just about representation. It’s about normalization. It’s about allowing people to realize that their sheltered life of limited experiences is not all that exists in the world. That there are others besides themselves, who maybe don’t look the same, and maybe don’t love the same, and maybe don’t believe the same things, but all the things they are, are just as valid as all the things you are, or I am.

It isn’t just about making sure that little girl grows up knowing she can be on TV, too, it’s also about teaching all the little girls and boys who have never doubted that they can be on television, that being on television isn’t just THEIRS to dream. That more than just people who look like them and talk like them and believe like them EXIST, and they have as much a right to that future job/life/dream/fantasy/world as anyone else.

Why do we have a skewed perception of what the “Average woman” looks like? Because the media and the entertainment industry has normalized a small subset of body types. But wouldn’t it be awesome if we could use that same TREMENDOUS power to normalize diversity? Race, creed, sexuality, form, substance, you name it.

As a writer, I know this is a weakness of mine. That I need to include more diversity in my works. As a writer, I’m trying to change, to be better about it, to do more. to do my part. I want to be part of normalizing, not abnormalizing. I want to open minds with my fiction, not close them.

Don’t you?

(reposted from here.)

And More:

I will never 100% get what it is like to be a man, because I'm a woman. But it doesn't stop me from writing male characters. I mean, it isn't a perfect parallel, because we're inundated with the male experience, the male gaze, the male-as-default through media, but I think it's valid.

I will never 100% know what it is to be British, but I wrote British characters. I will never 100% know what it is to grow up and be raised French-nobility, but I wrote French Noblemen. I will never 100% know what it is to be a Bronze Age Greek, but I definitely don't let that stop me from exploring what might have been, what was, and creating characters who might have lived that life.

Writing diversity requires the same skill set. The same desire to research and learn and imagine, and I think there is nothing inauthentic in making the genuine attempt to include them. Including diverse characters and culture as window dressing is something else altogether, but I know that isn't the writer you are, and the writers who genuinely care about fighting this battle to normalize diversity aren't those kinds of writers, either, I would imagine. Will people critique my attempts at diversity? Sure. While some people find it problematic? I would imagine so. But since some people are bound to find my writing of a character with all the same advantages and upbringing and cultural everything as myself problematic, I don't see why we should let that concern stop us from trying, and, hopefully, learning from those critiques so that we can do better next time.

The other thing to consider, too, is that if you're writing a fantasy book set in another world, in another time, there isn't any reason why you can't include diverse characters, and because that is a fantasy world, and those people would not have been in our world, experiencing what people here experience, maybe it would be less of a target, while still accomplishing something toward normalization and representation, superficially at the least! It isn't perfect, but it still helps.

(reposted from here.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

An Interlude of Cats (II)

No mythology here, unless you count Family Lore and pet ownership. I just need to record some Cat-Love for posterity. So if you don't care about my history of cat-ownership, I won't be offended if you want to skip these next couple of posts! 

Cat II
My second cat was a black domestic short hair. She was a year old when my parents brought her home from the shelter while I was away at college, and she had lived the previous nine months in a cage, waiting to be adopted. We were given the impression that she was near the end of her time with them, one way or another. My mother chose her, and named her Sophie, for Sophia, for Wisdom.

Sophie was maybe the exact opposite of what you might hope from a cat named for the divine feminine aspect of God. She was clumsy and dopey and utterly ridiculously adorable, in her own goofy exasperating way. She started out as my mother's cat, then through a series of circumstances, became more my father's, and finally, ultimately, eight years later, mine. Well, mine and El Husband's.

Sophie moved in with us in the fall of 2012, because my parents were moving and worried she might make an escape in all the excitement, and we desperately needed a cat to keep the mouse population under control in our house. Somehow, I had forgotten how much joy having a pet could bring. How much joy a cat could give. Sophie became my little black shadow. Where I went, Sophie followed. Upstairs, downstairs, from office to living room, through the dining room to the kitchen, while I ate. While I wrote, Sophie would sit anywhere from near me, to next to me, to on me -- depending on the season. She was very well-mannered, only getting into a little bit of trouble, now and again, and having the courtesy to wait until we'd left the room before jumping on any tables or counters to lick the olive oil bottle, or bask in the warmth of an accidentally left on burner. When she wanted attention, she asked politely. A gentle tap on the arm with one paw. Of course, if you didn't respond appropriately, she would impose herself on your lap, crawl down onto your shoulder, or stuff herself under your chin, depending on the season and the degree by which you had reclined.

Sophie the Cat Scarf
She was a very timid cat. Easily startled by people and loud or sudden noises and/or movements. The arrival of guests, or the ringing of the doorbell, often sent her fleeing into the basement. Even when it was someone she knew. But in the time she spent with us, she started to find some courage. Coming upstairs while my nephew was visiting, for a few brief moments, to sniff at him or bump her head against his hand before disappearing again to safety. She loved to sit in her cat tower and watch the birds at the birdfeeder, and stare down the chipmunks on the back step. She even learned to mouse, a little, though she was just as likely to get bored and fall asleep if one hid long enough.

Sophie ran to greet us in the morning when we got up, and when we came home from shopping trips, and frequently engaged in anticipatory purring. All it took was a glance in her direction, and she'd purr away, loud and long and happy. Even when she was too sick to walk straight, she was determined to jump up into my lap and sit with me.

We said goodbye to Sophie at the end of March, this year. She was maybe 10 years old, and it was by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life -- making that decision to let her go. Making all the smaller decisions regarding what was best for her, and how to handle her condition. Spending my days taking care of her, and coaxing her to eat, or even to come out of hiding at all.

She was such a small cat -- only 7 lbs at her weightiest -- but she left a monstrously large hole in our lives, in our hearts.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

An Interlude of Cats (I)

No mythology here, unless you count Family Lore and pet ownership. I just need to record some Cat-Love for posterity. So if you don't care about my history of cat-ownership, I won't be offended if you want to skip these next couple of posts! 

Cat the First
yes that is a lot of star wars in the background
Before I was born, according to family lore, my oldest brother's best friend moved away. My brother took it kind of hard, so my parents decided he should have a pet, to help. He got a kitten, I'm not sure where from. She was a calico, and he named her Patches.

Four Years Later, I was born.

Some of my earliest memories are running down stairs first thing Saturday morning and throwing open the cellar door to let Patches up from the basement, where she had spent the night, and then rushing to beat her to the living room and tuck myself in under a blanket on the couch so I could call to her and she'd jump in my lap. Patches belonged to my brother, technically, and he fed her and cleaned her litter box, and took care of her, but at some undefined point in my childhood and her adolescence, it became fairly well acknowledged that Patches was my cat. And I was her person. The older we both got, the more steadfast our relationship grew. She would wait for me on the corner of our block when I walked home from school, and follow me back to the house. She would stealthily stow away to sleep on my bed, then hide under it until my parents had given up on retrieving her, wait for the house to go quiet, and sneak back out to curl up near my feet at night. She sat on my homework, sometimes even ate it, like every most excellent pet will, and was pretty much just awesome.

I have other, better pictures of Patches SOMEWHERE
but they appear to be MIA right now unfortunately.
And how loud she was! The loudest meow of any cat I've ever met. A yowl you could hear through the floorboards, across phone lines, through the whole house. And she'd yowl when she was doing something wrong, getting herself into trouble every time in the most adorable fashion. She wasn't easily frightened, either, though she knew when she was outmatch, and was wise enough to make herself scarce when an excess of company arrived. (Of course, as a child, my friends were terrified of her. Visiting children were warned not to pet her anywhere but on the head, and she had a habit of kind of just giving them a narrow-eyed golden glower of disdain. I never understood it. But then, she was my cat, and I'd practically been learning her moods and her language since birth.)

When I was a junior in high school, Patches died. She was at least 19, if not 20, and had lived a very, very long life. Losing her broke my heart, all the same, of course. She was my best friend, my first friend, the most loyal cat of all cats, and during the last year and a half or so, I had kind of taken her for granted. Those regrets still weigh heavy, even all these years later.