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I spend most of my time daydreaming and creating otherworldly tales steeped in myth, magic, and romance. All of my heroes have long hair, and my heroines are strong-willed. Prior to being a writer, I played bass guitar in an all-girl hard rock/metal band in southern California. When I'm not writing, editing, or reading, I enjoy practicing target archery.
 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Musings: The Crow Maiden--A broken hero

Balin isn’t the typical perfect hero. He is a broken man who has lost everything, including his physical perfection. When Nahla first meets him, she is appalled that Artemis would choose a lamed man for her champion. She thinks there must be some mistake, but no, they are bound together for one reason: to kill Aramon, the same man who also betrayed Nahla and destroyed Artemis’s temple.
Once a king and strong warrior, Balin is now an angry drunk living in a cave when he accidentally summons Nahla from the Shadowlands. He must work hard to heal his leg injury, but he also has mental wounds to heal. The memories of his family’s dying screams as his palace burnt to the ground haunt him. The massive defeat left the once-arrogant man crushed.
At first he doesn’t know what to make of the cold-eyed female nagging at him and pushing him to be strong. He isn’t used to a woman acting so brazenly toward him. A proud man, it is difficult for him to be viewed as a cripple. He struggles with this as Nahla uses her healing magic on him. With her help, he becomes a much better man, but not without a struggle.



Excerpt (PG-13)
Balin gaped at her and then pinched the bridge of his nose. Her startling declaration cleared his mind of the wine and rendered him clear-headed for a moment. How could he have summoned this woman, this Crow Maiden? A warrior paid no mind to such nonsense, but there were others who believed in magic and the power of the gods.
Emboldened by the wine spirits, he’d turned to Artemis for help. It was unwise to call on Poseidon, Zeus’s brother, to aid him in killing one of Zeus’s mortal allies.
He scowled at her. This female must be telling the truth. Why else would Artemis bring them together if they hadn’t asked for revenge and death to the same man?
“You want revenge on Aramon, and I need a champion,” she narrowed her eyes at his damaged leg, “a strong warrior to help free me.”
Anger rose inside. So this female with the cold bearing of one of Night’s daughters thought him weak?
“If you bring him here, I can easily take his head off.” In a quick, smooth motion, he picked up the bronze axe and swung it in a succession of swift, skilled movements he had been practicing in the hope that someday he might use it to kill his enemy. The brutal edge of an axe blade seemed a fitting end to the man who took everything from him.
“No. He cannot be killed by normal means.”
He stopped and faced her.
“It will take a magical weapon to kill him.” She watched him with raised eyebrows. Surprise or admiration? It caught him off guard.
“Why not?” According to some, Zeus’s priest-king had magical powers. Balin never believed the rumors. But then he never thought he would summon a strange female to his cave.
“Because he is a sorcerer-king, a very powerful one.”
“Of course he is.” He squeezed the axe handle so hard his knuckles cramped. Defeating Aramon seemed impossible.
“I know this is a shock to you.”
“Do you know where we can get a magical weapon?” He shrugged and twirled the heavy axe in his hand as if it were a light stick. Every day since he’d been able to move around after his injury, he’d swung the heavy axe to keep himself in fighting shape.
“You use that blade quite well despite your injury.” Her eyes glimmered with growing interest. “The weapon I speak of is a battle-axe, double-bladed, just like that one. It belongs to Artemis, but it has been lost.”
“If you are speaking of the axe Artemis lost to the centaurs, then it is hopeless. They are Aramon’s allies and a ferocious lot.”
She watched him with a mysterious glint in her eyes.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“You do not seem like a man that would be afraid of centaurs. Besides, not all centaurs are loyal to Aramon. One line is loyal to Artemis, the line from which the great King Arcas was born.”
“King Arcas was a centaur?” The remarkable Arcadian king had restored his lands after destructive battles and a terrible flood brought on by his grandfather’s recklessness, but none of the stories mentioned Arcas was a centaur.
“Yes and no. It was a secret well kept by the nymphs, but it matters not to us and what has to be done now.” One side of her mouth curved into a cold, mocking smile. “Does that make you less afraid of centaurs knowing that?”
He glowered at her. “I am not afraid of centaurs or anything else. The journey is a long one and through rough terrain.”
“You would give up so easily?” Her green eyes held a fierce, daring light.
His face grew hot beneath her unyielding gaze. No woman had ever challenged him. It was a bit unsettling…and exciting. “Never.”
In truth, he’d given up until this strange female appeared in his cave. And how much could he accomplish with a crippled leg? His mind was still muddled by too much strong, barely watered-down wine. He wasn’t even completely convinced this woman in his cave was real and not an imagined image from one of his many tormenting dreams.
“Then we have a lot of work to do.”
*

Trade Paperback Buy Link on amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1541140613/

Blurb

The Crow Maiden
Book 3: The Arcadia Series
(The Crow Maiden is a standalone story in the Arcadia Series)

She betrayed her goddess for him…
He betrayed her.
Plotting her revenge is her only solace. Until now.

Nahla is the Crow Maiden, an Arcadian, and once a priestess of Artemis. Now she is a captive, a being who lives in the shadows until her vile master the sorcerer-king Aramon summons her. Another releases her from the Shadowlands, and while he might be the champion she has waited for, the gods must be playing a cruel joke. Her champion is crippled.

An Achaean lord who once ruled a great city, Balin is a broken man. He has lost everything—his kingdom and his family. Revenge consumes him. Although wary of the mysterious, cold-eyed female who appears and claims he summoned her, she may be his only hope to exact vengeance on the king who ruined him, the same man Nahla seeks to destroy.

They are bound by revenge, and soon, both learn they are bound by much more, but the secrets she hides might tear them apart and ruin their only opportunity for vengeance—and their chance to love again.

“Ms. Heckart draws the reader into the pages and enchants them with her words.”
Karen McGill, Coffee Time Romance


Kelley Heckart
Otherworldly tales steeped in myth, magic & romance.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Weird Word Wednesday

doraphobia
noun  do·ra·pho·bia \ˌdōr-ə-ˈfō-bē-ə, ˌdȯr-\
  
Medical Definition of doraphobia

:  a dread of touching the skin or fur of an animal

Kelley Heckart
Otherworldly tales steeped in myth, magic & romance.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Monday Musings: The Crow Maiden--Crows in Greek Mythology

Crows and ravens appear in myths from all different cultures, usually as harbingers of death because of their appearance on battlefields and their diet of carrion. They are also seen as messengers between humans and that of the supernatural realm.

In Greek mythology, the crow is associated with the god Apollo because of his role as a god of prophecy. Augury, divination using birds, was popular among Greeks and Romans. Augurs interpreted messages based on the color of the bird and the direction from which it flew. A crow flying in from the east or south was considered a favorable sign. Another myth involving the crow and Apollo reveals that the crow’s feathers were turned black because the god became enraged when the bird brought back news that Apollo’s lover Coronis had been unfaithful, and the god scorched the crow’s wings.

A French anthropologist named Claude Lévi-Strauss proposed a theory that suggests the raven (like the coyote) obtained mythic status because it was a mediator animal between life and death. As a carrion bird, ravens became associated with the dead and with lost souls. This is what I used as a basis for my heroine in The Crow Maiden. Nahla is cursed to be bound to her cruel master and to the Shadowlands, the place between life and death. She haunts battlefields and guides dying warriors’ souls to the afterlife. She can also see when someone is about to die. Despite being surrounded by death, she is also a healer and has a kind soul, not what one would expect from a female surrounded by such darkness.


Excerpt (PG-13)
She glanced around at the dim cave. Cobwebs glistened from the dark corners. With some cleaning, it could be a pleasant dwelling. It was the size of a small house with round corners and smaller alcoves. She compared the cave to the unfortunate places she called home—blood-spattered battlefields, places the dead and dying gathered, and her master’s bedchamber. “No, this is much improved over the usual places I call home.”
He regarded her with a curious glint in his eyes. “What did you ask for?”
“I also asked for revenge. I wished for a champion to kill the man I hate.” This tall man wore his blond shoulder-length hair in the fashion of warriors, with war braids twisted within his unruly locks framing each side of his face. She recalled the neglected-looking war shield and armor in the back area of the cave. Had he been a warrior before his injury?
“And I suppose I do not fit your standards?” He gave her a faint sneer, his eyes hard and grim.
“Not exactly.”
He let out a scornful laugh.
She bristled. Was he mocking her? She allowed him a slight, tight smile.
“This man. What did he do to you?” His expression darkened.
“He has imprisoned me.”
“But if you are here, then you are free.” He studied her with a furrowed brow.
“I wish that were so.” The accursed bond was still there, a loosely tethered rope that could tighten at any moment, pulling her back to her master. “I am free only until he summons me, but I suppose this place is much improved over the Shadowlands.” She wandered to the cave opening. Bright sunlight temporarily blinded her. Ah, yes, warm sun and sweet, flowery scents. She took a deep breath of the intoxicating air.
He stepped to her side and regarded her with caution. “Shadowlands? What are you?”
She pressed her lips together. Should she tell him something so unbelievable? She decided she didn’t care if he believed her or not. “I have many names, but I think everyone calls me the Crow Maiden.”
He measured her with eyes that reflected doubt. “The Crow Maiden is not human. She’s an apparition, seen only by dying warriors on the battlefield.”
Most mortals cowered in the presence of a being such as she who could move between the realms of the living and the dead. Some gripped weapons in trembling hands in feeble attempts to protect themselves. Not this man. The axe he’d held to her neck lay on the ground instead of clutched in his hand, and no part of his body trembled.
He had courage. Her champion would need to have the heart of a lion. A promising sign. A warm flame of hope stirred and rekindled within.
“I am human.” She spoke the words softly, more to herself than to the stranger. As the Crow Maiden, she hadn’t felt any different, and somewhere inside, Nahla still lived, though she had acquired some preternatural abilities that placed her beyond that of a human. “And I am not an apparition. Touch me and see for yourself.”
He touched her shoulder and then considered her with a pensive expression. “Why do you think I was able to summon you? Am I about to die?” Again he showed no fear, his tone indifferent, as though he asked her about something as mundane as the weather. Another favorable sign.
“Not in the immediate future.” She pursed her lips. “I’ve been wondering why you were able to summon me…” Before he called for her, she had made a wish. “Did you ask a god for this revenge you desire?”
“I did.” He rubbed his bearded chin. “I asked Artemis.”
That hopeful flame rose higher. “So did I.”
They had been brought together for a reason, but it didn’t make sense that a crippled man would be the one chosen to defeat a powerful man like her master.
He gave her a sidelong glance. “Are you thinking what I am thinking?”
“Perhaps not,” she muttered and then said in a clear voice, “Share your thoughts with me.”
“If we both asked Artemis for help, then perhaps she’s the one who brought us together.” He shook his head and frowned. “Though I do not understand why since you are not the man I want to destroy.”
Outside the cave, a crow called to her, its harsh, ominous caw repeating the one word already echoing inside her head. Revenge. They both sought revenge. There was only one name she associated with retribution. “Who is this man you seek to destroy?”
“Aramon,” he rasped through clenched teeth.
An icy shiver touched her spine. “I know why Artemis brought us together.” She lowered her gaze to the man’s damaged leg. “Though I am not certain if she is sincere or mocking us.”
His mouth curved up in a sneer. “And why is that?”
“Because Aramon is the man who holds me captive.”
*


Trade Paperback Buy Link on amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1541140613/

The Crow Maiden
Book 3: The Arcadia Series
(The Crow Maiden is a standalone story in the Arcadia Series)

She betrayed her goddess for him…
He betrayed her.
Plotting her revenge is her only solace. Until now.

Nahla is the Crow Maiden, an Arcadian, and once a priestess of Artemis. Now she is a captive, a being who lives in the shadows until her vile master the sorcerer-king Aramon summons her. Another releases her from the Shadowlands, and while he might be the champion she has waited for, the gods must be playing a cruel joke. Her champion is crippled.

An Achaean lord who once ruled a great city, Balin is a broken man. He has lost everything—his kingdom and his family. Revenge consumes him. Although wary of the mysterious, cold-eyed female who appears and claims he summoned her, she may be his only hope to exact vengeance on the king who ruined him, the same man Nahla seeks to destroy.

They are bound by revenge, and soon, both learn they are bound by much more, but the secrets she hides might tear them apart and ruin their only opportunity for vengeance—and their chance to love again.

“Ms. Heckart draws the reader into the pages and enchants them with her words.”
Karen McGill, Coffee Time Romance

Kelley Heckart
Otherworldly tales steeped in myth, magic & romance.




Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Weird Word Wednesday

doodad
noun
  
1
a small article the actual name of which one either does not know or cannot remember
2
a small object displayed for its attractiveness or interest
3
something that decorates or beautifies


Kelley Heckart
Otherworldly tales steeped in myth, magic & romance.


Monday, February 06, 2017

Monday Musings: The Crow Maiden--A hero and heroine from very different worlds

The Crow Maiden is a story about revenge and overcoming adversity, but it is also about a romance between two very different people.



Nahla is an Arcadian priestess, and Balin is an Achaean lord. In her world, the Achaeans are the conquerors who forced their patriarchal views on her people. In Balin’s eyes, the Arcadians are barbarians who still practice human sacrifice. There are physical differences, too. She is smaller in stature than his people, with brown skin and black hair. He is tall, blonde, and fair skinned.

Sheltered in her forest temple, Nahla has only viewed the grand seaside Achaean cities from afar. To Balin, the priestesses of Artemis were a complete mystery. And now their very different worlds have collided.

Despite their cultural differences, they share a common enemy. In the ancient Greek world, the Dorians were much more of a threat than the Achaeans who at least allowed the native Arcadians to continue worshipping their own gods. The Dorians didn’t want to compromise with anyone. This unrest in the region began the downfall of the once-mighty Achaeans.

With nothing left to lose and only revenge in his thoughts, Balin forms an alliance with the mysterious priestess. Nahla’s only hope to be free of her cruel master is the champion chosen by Artemis—an Achaean. Gods work in strange ways, it seems.

Despite his dominate ways, Balin shows Nahla respect. She begins to trust him. Nahla’s boldness both enrages and excites Balin. He’s never known such a woman who would dare speak so impudently to him. They may be from very different worlds, but their attraction for one another grows.

It must be true that opposites attract.

(The Crow Maiden is a standalone story in the Arcadia Series)

Excerpt (PG-13)
“Now you know all you need to about me and about Aramon. He destroyed and captured your cities, killed and enslaved your people.” Her lovely mouth tightened into a grave smile. “Do we have an alliance or not?”
Could he trust her? “You can form an alliance with me, someone you know nothing about?”
“I know enough about you, Achaean.”
She offered him that same mysterious smile she’d given him earlier, one that enhanced her remarkable, unusual beauty, even if it was too serious. Aramon had mistreated and tormented her. Perhaps, that was all he needed to know. For now.
“Besides, what have either of us to lose? Arcadia is being destroyed.” Her tone turned bitter. “And everything and everyone we knew and loved is gone because of one man. What more is there to know or think about?”
Her words were so profound and filled with truth. He had his doubts about his ability to do what needed to be done, but he wanted revenge more than anything. Revenge was the only thing keeping him alive.
“We have an alliance.”
She nodded. “Then we must get to work. Aramon could summon me at any time.”
“What do I call you? Do you prefer the ‘Crow Maiden,’ or can I call you ‘Crow’?” He cast her a playful grin, wanting to change her rigid, cold nature. Playfulness was something he hadn’t felt since his crippling injury. He couldn’t explain it. Perhaps it was because she was a challenge, unlike any other woman he’d known.
She didn’t smile. Her eyes took on a reflective light. “Call me Nahla.”
Her name sounded soothing and fit her calm manner that lingered beneath the coldness.
“Nahla, you may call me Balin.” He reached for a clay pitcher of wine that sat on a natural shelf. Some wine might loosen the maiden up. He’d never met such a rigid and cold female. “We should celebrate our alliance.”
She put her hand on his arm to stop him from lifting the pitcher to his lips. “The first thing we must do is get you clearheaded.”
He looked down at the pitcher, his body filled with craving for the numbing drink. “But…”
She reached for the handle. “Give it to me.”
With reluctance, he handed her the pitcher. He watched with rising panic as she poured out the precious wine.
She turned toward him and pursed her lips. “The next thing is a bath, a very long one.”
Impertinent harpy! Bristling, he scowled at her. His changing emotions in regards to this female confused him. One moment, she made him want to smile, and the next, she raised his ire like no other.
Nahla may be the only one who could help him get revenge on Aramon, but Poseidon’s blasted balls! She was infuriating. He clenched his fist and glanced upward. Almighty Poseidon, please give me the strength to not strangle this insolent female.


Trade Paperback Buy Link on amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1541140613/

Blurb:
She betrayed her goddess for him…
He betrayed her.
Plotting her revenge is her only solace. Until now.

Nahla is the Crow Maiden, an Arcadian, and once a priestess of Artemis. Now she is a captive, a being who lives in the shadows until her vile master the sorcerer-king Aramon summons her. Another releases her from the Shadowlands, and while he might be the champion she has waited for, the gods must be playing a cruel joke. Her champion is crippled.

An Achaean lord who once ruled a great city, Balin is a broken man. He has lost everything—his kingdom and his family. Revenge consumes him. Although wary of the mysterious, cold-eyed female who appears and claims he summoned her, she may be his only hope to exact vengeance on the king who ruined him, the same man Nahla seeks to destroy.

They are bound by revenge, and soon, both learn they are bound by much more, but the secrets she hides might tear them apart and ruin their only opportunity for vengeance—and their chance to love again.

“Ms. Heckart draws the reader into the pages and enchants them with her words.”
Karen McGill, Coffee Time Romance




Kelley Heckart
Otherworldly tales steeped in myth, magic & romance.



Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Weird Word Wednesday

dodder
verb

to move forward while swaying from side to side


Kelley Heckart
Otherworldly tales steeped in myth, magic & romance.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Musings: Arizona backyard wildlife photos





Kelley Heckart
Otherworldly tales steeped in myth, magic & romance.