the scent of the page

There’s nothing quite like holding a real, honest to goodness book in your hands, you know? Especially when the story’s as good as Proseuche is.

So, if ebooks just ain’t  your thang — no worries — Proseuche IS available in print. Just head on over here and click your way to bookshelf happiness.

Proseuche_Print_Cover_5

It’s alive … IT’S ALIVE!!!!!

Well, it’s happened. The day I sometimes worried would never come is finally here. The release of the book a recent review called “amazing … breathtaking … creepy”.

Of course I’m talking about Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche, the sequel to Martuk … the Holy.

Got a nook? It’s here. Need it in every format under the sun? Try here.

And just for fun, here’s the cover again:

Proseuche_Cover-FINAL

 

amazing … breathtaking … creepy

A small snippet from a new review of Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche:

 

“… on a purely horror-fan level, the evil scenes in particular are amazing. Lush descriptions, beautiful detail. Not only was I reminded of illuminated manuscripts, I was reminded of oil paintings, those old and classic manuscripts that, even in their depiction of terrible things, are as breathtaking as they are creepy.”

 

Amaranthine ghosts

Excerpt from Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche (release date July 22, 2014), the sequel to my award-winning debut novel Martuk … the Holy

 

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

were the first words his assassin said.

Weeks ago he had spied the man, a stranger, lingering in the silver light of morning.

Weeks ago, the sun waking behind a canopy of grey, he had wrestled the keys that turned the locks that opened the door to this, his church.

Weeks ago, he had sat in the confessional, the dark-haired Penitent hidden by the lattice-work screen separating them.

Then,

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

The words had come, halting and thick with exhaustion. The heavily accented English breathed by a soul in torment.

The priest hadn’t known what to say.

The Church believed one thing, he another.

For years he’d closed his eyes, all those shadows sitting in the pews rising from memory to haunt him. Echoes of faces, of arms and chests and torsos and slender shoulders. Their necks long as they bowed their heads in prayer. Even still, he was haunted by the gentle warmth of phantom breath against his cheek as he worked in his office, alone. Still, the feeling of all those eyes on him persisted, like a stain or the lingering scent of cherished memory. Eyes watching him, following him. Souls eager for him to see them, to know them and remember them. To love them. Their footsteps echoing his as he walked the nave jingling the keys that would turn the locks to bolt the doors of this, his church.

“Yes,” he had finally said in English as well, his voice a whisper lest this blatant insurrection be overheard. “Yes, I do.”

“It’s amaranthine,” had come the response, the voice low, the words mumbled. The vowels and consonants lost in the advent of quiet tears.

“It’s what?”

He had lost the word. Had caught the “it” in what was said, but wasn’t sure about the rest. Knew there was a second word. An odd word. An unfamiliar word. A beautiful word. But he didn’t know what it was. It was a word he thought he might know, but hadn’t really heard.

“I’m sorry?” the young priest had said. “I didn’t hear you.”

He had grown desperate to help this stranger. To give him comfort. To offer something, anything, to ease his pain and bring a glimmer of hope to his heart.

This, this man, this agony, this need. This is why he did what he did. Why he had sacrificed so much. Why he’d given his life to Our Heavenly Father and the Church.

“I didn’t hear you,” he’d repeated, his voice sounding weak.

The stranger’s hand had rested on the screen then. The dark shadow of a palm, a thumb, four fingers, all splayed flat against the thin strips of wood. Reaching for him, perhaps. Seeking comfort, maybe even a friend. The flesh of the palm smooth. A hint of an ancestry not solely European in the skin. A discreet, subtle darkness there. Middle Eastern, perhaps.

The priest had wanted to press his palm to the screen. Return the gentle gesture. Had felt the overwhelming urge to lift his hand to that of the one who struggled, whose heart wept. This soul who was so desperate for companionship that he’d offer his touch despite the lattice-work between them.

The thought had been ludicrous, of course. He knew that. Had known that his imagination had gotten the better of him. Could hear the criticisms from years ago, those venerable Fathers and Sisters and Mother Superiors who had warned him that his too tender heart would be anything but a blessing.

“It is not your pain,” Father Bautista had urged, the old man looming like a great mountain, his voice a deep rumbling from his chest. “They come for guidance. For Penance and Reconciliation. For peace, for hope. To cleanse themselves of their sins. Remember, it is not your pain.”

And yet …

“Listen well, my boy,” had come the voice of the Mother Superior whose name was lost though her doughy face and thick hips and those stubby fingers laced together so tight the knuckles turned white would never leave him.

“This is not good, what you create in your head,” she’d said, her voice cutting and sometimes cruel. “Listen to their words, and only their words. Do what is needed of you. Trust Our Heavenly Father to do the rest. Do not create a world of loneliness and need for these Penitents that may not exist.

“This world, it is not yours.”

But if those who’d teased his tear-stained cheeks, those Fathers and Sisters and Mother Superiors, if they could hear this stranger, hear the voice thick with loneliness, see the palm, patient and waiting against the ancient wood, wouldn’t these ghosts from his past feel what he felt now?

He smiled.

Yes, he believed in ghosts.

The priest’s hand had left his lap, the fingers flexing as they stretched and slowly, tentatively, rose.

There had been a sigh then from this soul in torment waiting on the other side. A glimpse of a head bowing. Of shoulders slumping. Of the hand still smooth against the slats of woven wood.

But a sigh, yes, deep and heavy.

A sigh of someone who had not known sleep for many moons.

Of someone who waited, alone, his patience ebbing, his fear growing.

The priest’s hand had stopped, hovering near the shadow of the stranger’s palm, and then retreated. Scurried to the safety of his cassock, the fingers instead choosing to wind ’round the slender cloth of the stole falling from his neck to rest against his chest.

Their voices had been too strong, his ghosts. Their belligerence had clouded his mind. Their admonitions too great. His shame at being too kind, too loving, of weeping too easily, too onerous to bear.

He had cleared his throat, shaking away the past as he blinked once, twice, a finger swiping away a tear and then wiping his nose as he cleared his throat again.

The sudden banging of the door had startled him.

He had left, this man, this stranger. The hand gone as his footsteps echoed through the nave and rushed down the aisle to push past the heavy wooden doors and disappear into the crowds navigating Boulevard Saint-Germaine.

The priest had sat back, the stench of failure, of regret, catching in his throat and stealing his breath.

“Père, pardonne-moi …” he’d prayed, willing away the image of that bowed head and thick dark hair. Of the hand resting, lonely and alone and friendless, against the screen.

“Forgive me.”

That night the dreams started.

a darkness with teeth

With the July 22nd release of Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche drawing closer by the day, I thought you guys would appreciate a bit of a back cover blurb. Yeah? Yeah.

Enjoy.  :)

 

And cradled in her kindness, I dove back into the blood soaked memories of this, my life.

With those words, the immortal Maruk’s tale continues.

From modern Paris, he speaks of his life in the religious chaos and pagan magic of 3rd century Antioch. Of his friends, a man haunted by grief and regret, and a woman with secrets as thick as the woolen of her constant cloak. Of days marked by the greed of Rome and the ambitions of those driven by dangerous delusion.

He remembers wandering souls who returned with their own stories to tell. Who shared their own memories of blazing deserts and a darkness with teeth. Of being imprisoned in a myth built by the lies of others. And then Martuk recalls a magic so dark it summons demons from a cloudless sky and rips the sleeping dead from their slumber.

The past revisited, Martuk ends his tale with a confession. A modern-day betrayal so cruel, the rest of his life everlasting threatens to be one of searing regret and never-ending shame.

This sequel to Jonathan Winn’s Martuk … the Holy is a tale of stumbling humanity and shocking brutality. Forgiveness and release. Death. Immortality. And the tenuous hope for blessed redemption.

This is Martuk … the Holy … Proseuche.

What secrets … what mysteries …

“What need have they of their bodies, the dead?” Her hand rested on her throat, the fingers caressing her voice before it traveled to her mouth and rolled from her tongue. “If our pleas, our words, our demands can coax them from their slumber and they can rise and join us, then, of course, they can be of use.”

“How? How could the dead be of any use?”

She watched me. “What can they bring back from the dark?” Her hands were clasped in her lap, her shoulders suddenly square and tense. “What secrets can they share? What mysteries? What answers can they drag with them from that netherworld of shadow and fog and the dreams you dream in the deepest of sleeps?

“That’s why we would dig them up and lay them in front of the fire. That’s why we would carve words into their flesh. Sacred, secret words. Words which can only live on the tongue of a blade and in the slicing of skin. That’s why we would then raise them up and hope beyond hope that there would be something to learn. Something more. Something wonderful and mysterious. Something wise that we could use.

“And then one day it went wrong. Horribly wrong.”

There was a sudden quiet. I let Cecilia have this brief moment of peace, knowing the pain one finds when stumbling through the jagged rocks of memory.

I gave her a quick glance.

Her eyes had found me.

She reached forward and took my hand.

Her eyes closed and she breathed deep. “A man appeared in the fire.”

She then opened her eyes as she continued.

“A man appeared, wrapped in flames, and, with a look, stole our breath, stole our life, our knowledge and power. With a look, this stranger in the flames brought it all to an end.”

— excerpt from Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche (July 2015)

Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche

Proseuche, the long awaited sequel to Martuk … the Holy, is slated for a mid-July 2014 release date.

So, between now and then, you can expect news on upcoming interviews and blog stops, excerpts, peeks at the cover and back cover synopsis, and perhaps even a few blurbs from some of the best authors working today.

Real excited about this one, guys. :)

Sexy beast (deux) … toujours en français

A Conversation with Syndra K Shaw (part two)

Feb 2013

We continue to chat, Syndra and I. We’ve both popped open a yogurt — she in Paris, me in the States — and, at one point, I could clearly hear the telltale glug glug glug of her beloved wine being poured followed by her ubiquitous small sigh after her first sip.

But make no mistake: Miss Shaw is anything but a lush. Like most of the French, that one glass of wine will be coddled and cradled and sniffed and sipped over the course of an hour or more.

I also notice she’s loosened up. Has apparently forgotten she’s being taped and this will be transcribed. I’m getting more of her and less of her natural reticence and shyness.

Welcome to Part Two –

Jonathan: So, without giving too much away (for those who’ve yet to read it), tell me about writing the final chapters of Mikalo’s Flame.

Syndra: Oh my goodness, I was a mess. Seriously, I had to stop several times and take really big deep breaths to calm myself down. And I was crying so hard I just gave up wiping the tears away, you know?

I know. You called me and sounded like you were really losing it.

I was! I’ve never had a reaction like that.

Why is that? I mean, why now? With those chapters?

I think it’s because I so totally identify with Mikalo and Ronan and what was happening was so immense that I felt everything they were feeling.

But that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

I guess so. I’m just happy the house cleaner had left for the day or she would’ve thought I was nuts.

She already thinks your nuts, what with you asking her to pick up “penis” for you at the grocery store.

(laughs) She knows I meant peanuts! She still teases me about that, asking if I want the jumbos.

Well, do you?

No comment.

Hey, you’re out of those!

(Syndra laughs)

What I loved about the ending of Mikalo’s Flame was how you took something so simple, in this case, making an omelette, and completely turned it into something so unforgettable. Almost magical.

Thank you. What’s funny about that is that I’m not quite sure I intended for the ending to play out the way it did. Or for that to necessarily happen. In fact, I know I didn’t.

Which is where having a map is good –

Yes.

But it’s even better when you let it guide you instead of letting it tell you what to write.

Exactly. I knew what the ending was. What I didn’t know was, just by listening to those two and trusting them when they took me off into something different, something I didn’t plan, what I didn’t know was how we’d get to that ending.

And Ronan’s inability to speak?

I didn’t plan that either. But she just couldn’t say it!

Why?

(Syndra sighs dramatically)

I’m writing that you sighed dramatically.

Oh you –

Well, you did!

A couple of reasons. First, she’s really uncomfortable with change. She’s grown so used to things being just so, you know? And the introduction of Mikalo and her love for him has really been enough. But now this? It’s a lot to take on all at once. Secondly, if she had opened her mouth, the floodgates would have opened. She’d have been a crying, hysterical, ridiculous mess. And she just wanted to keep it together. She just wanted to savor the moment and not get too lost in the emotion.

But would have Mikalo minded her crying?

Of course not. But she, I don’t know, she just didn’t want to ruin, if that’s the word, she just didn’t want to ruin the moment by going on some huge ugly cry fit.

Ugly cry.

Yeah, ugly cry. It isn’t pretty.

And that’s where we are at the end of Mikalo’s Flame.

A crying mess.

(Syndra laughs)

Can you talk about Mikalo’s Fate?

Should I?

Um, yes. Give me an exclusive, here.

As if you’re Barbra Walters or something.

We’ve established I’m not. So … ?

As it stands now, Mikalo and Ronan are off to Greece to meet his family. So we’ll get our first look at Mikalo’s brother Silvestro and Silvestro’s wife Caugina. We’ll met Mikalo’s lifelong friend Damen and his beloved Nonna, his elderly grandmother. The Byzans will be there as well.

So far, so good.

I do think Ronan will end up in Paris at one point.

Nice.

Maybe not. But her experience there leads to what I hope will be a beautiful moment later with Mikalo in Greece. And Radek Byzan, Mara’s father, reappears in a very important way as well.

I do like how you bring back characters from earlier books.

I just fall in love with them and want to spend more time with them. And he is someone I really adore.

And Mara?

She’s there, but I’m not sure she’s as obnoxious as she had been. She’s starting to crack a little bit and her life is becoming a bit, I don’t know, out of control, I guess.

So no bitch in Mikalo’s Fate?

Um, there is Caugina. And she could give seminars on how to be a nasty piece of work.

Gotcha.

No, there’ll definitely be a bitch in this book. They’re too much fun to write! And Abbie and Marcus aren’t done yet.

You’re kidding.

No, I’m not. I mean, it might change. But so far they have a place in the next book.

Well, except for Caugina and Abbie and Marcus, so far it sounds like a very “up” book.

But you’re assuming they actually walk down the aisle.

Who? Mikalo and Ronan?

Yes.

Of course they walk down the aisle.

I don’t know –

What? Oh, that’s just mean.

I’m not saying they don’t — and I’m pretty sure they do –, but life has a habit of throwing curve balls and sometimes things change.

And the curve ball here would be?

That’s something I’m not saying yet. But it’s a huge one and completely derails everything, everything, they’ve planned. But I promise, I PROMISE, that Mikalo’s Fate will have a wonderful ending. I can’t write a book that doesn’t.

Okay, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of your genre –

I know –

But having read the first two books, if Mikalo and Ronan don’t get married I will personally come to Paris to bitch slap you.

Come to Paris anyway. She misses you.

I’m not joking here.

Neither am I.

What’s the one thing that you don’t like about writing?

Seriously?

Yeah, why not? It’s not all perfect, is it?

No, it’s not. I really find it rude when people return books. Unless it’s horrible formatting –

Which yours aren’t –

Right. I’m too obsessed to have them go out with mistakes. Or if they don’t like the writing –

But there’s a sample to read beforehand –

Exactly. If it isn’t one of those two things, I just find it rude to buy a book, read it quickly, and then return it quickly just to save a small amount of money. I could never do that.

And you spoke with Amazon about this.

Yes, but she didn’t care.

Did you make her cry?

I wish. (laughs)

Has this interview made any sense?

I hope so. It’s been a lot of fun.

I’m curious about something.

Uh oh.

What?

Whenever you say that, either you’re going to ask a tough question or you’re going to say something horribly inappropriate.

Really?

Really.

I was just wondering if you ever dream of being a bestselling author.

No.

No? Really?

Really. I have absolutely no control over something like that. My goal is to write a good book. Something people look forward to and get excited about reading and race through in one day and then want to read again. That is what I can control. Whether or not people buy it or, in that case, a lot of people buy it and I end up with a high ranking on Amazon or something, well, that’s just something I have nothing to do with. It’s a waste of energy. I focus on what I can: writing as good a book as I can. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. And if ONE person buys it, I get excited.

That’s true! When you sold your first copy of Mikalo’s Grace you called me in tears.

I know. Silly of me, but it was so touching to think someone actually spent their money on a book I wrote. I still celebrate each sale. I think I always will. And when people on Facebook write to tell me how much they like what I write, I just love that. I don’t think they realize how hard this is and how much work goes into it and how greatly we appreciate knowing that, at least with someone, our words are making some kind of mark. Are being enjoyed and savored and read again and again. There aren’t enough words to thank these people, those who read my books. There really aren’t.

Have I told you I adore you, my friend?

And I you.

We have to do this again.

Yes. I love these private chats.

Is that another dig at the lack of visitors to my blog.

Bises. (Kisses)

Bitch.

(Syndra laughs)

Mais je t’aime toujours et pour toujours (But I love you always and forever)

Moi aussi, mon cour. (Me too, my dear)

So, there you have it. A funny, sometimes confusing, utterly enchanting conversation with a woman I am completely in love with.

If you haven’t already, go NOW and get her new book, Mikalo’s Flame.