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Saturday, 19 September 2015

☀☄ℚ The Cutlass Trilogy [1-2] - Ashley Nixon

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for the Cutlass Trilogy, a Young Adult Pirate Fantasy by .  Two books are currently available, and today, on Talk Like a Pirate Day, you can get both for only 99 cents / pence!   The Cutlass series is FREE on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owner's Lending Library.

Check out the synopsis and the excerpt for Cutlass and Flintlock below, as well as the promo Q&A with the author and other teasers.

We also have two giveaways for you:
- one just for readers of this blog: enter to win one (1) ebook copy of Cutlass. Open internationally.
 - one for all tour participants: Author Ashley Nixon will be awarding a $10 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn winner during the tour.


The Series | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaways

The Series: Cutlass Trilogy

Click on the book cover to Look Inside the book on Amazon and read an excerpt. Both titles are FREE with Amazon Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owner Library.

Cutlass [1]

**FREE on 19 September 2015 - Talk like a pirate day!**

Notorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy’s fiancé seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

[Published by StarSeed Press, 441 pages]

Teaser: Excerpt

Barren gazed at the crowd, sifting through the faces. While he wasn’t sure who he was looking for, he could only imagine what sort of wife William would need. A woman who was slight and meek, someone who didn’t like to stand out in the crowd, or speak up—obviously—or she would not have agreed to marry William. Then again, perhaps Barren was not giving this mystery woman enough credit. Perhaps she saw William as a way out of a situation. Either way, he felt sorry for her.
      Barren heard Leaf chuckle and he looked at the Elf. “I think you have no idea who you are dealing with.”
      Leaf pointed toward a circle of people. Barren’s eyes shifted there, and his breath caught. What he had expected was a fragile girl—someone slight, doll-like, and silent. This girl was not so. The first thing he took in was her strength. It radiated from her like warmth from a hearth. She stood straight with her shoulders back, an observing eye upon everyone. Then he drank in the features composing her beauty. Almond-shaped eyes gleamed with emerald irises that shone like sun on the green sea. Her smile, while charming and beautiful, had something mischievous about it. She had high cheekbones, blushed with pink and long, dark curls decorated with white flowers falling down her back and over her shoulders. Her dress, crimson in color, was unlike the others, hugging her hourglass figure like it was made on her. Barren could not have thought up a more beautiful girl, and no one around her compared.
      A smug smirk crossed Leaf’s thin lips.
      “What am I supposed to do with her?” asked Barren. His thoughts were all muddled. He had forgotten why he was here, or how he had intended to attract this girl’s attention. Could he even do that?
     Leaf laughed. “Oh, you silly boy, we won’t make it out of this one alive, will we?”
     Barren glared at the Elf. “Don’t tell me you expected her! How could she ever agree to marry my brother?”
     ¬¬ Leaf shrugged, still smirking. “Ask her.”

Flintlock [2]

**Only 99 pence/cents on 19 September 2015 - Talk like a pirate day!**

Barren Reed hopes to protect the Orient from his tyrant uncle, but his plans to make the King’s life a living hell aren’t supported by the Elders of the pirate community.

As it stands, Barren has earned the Elders’ disdain for his carelessness, and they threaten him into exile if he makes one more mistake. Barren’s not the only one feeling the Elders’ wrath—they don’t trust Larkin either. Worse, Barren can’t comprehend Larkin’s wish to have a relationship with her father, and the secrets she’s forced to keep create a tension that may pull them apart forever.

When the Pirates of Silver Crest begin to die, bullets laced with dark magic are to blame. With more and more of these weapons infiltrating the Underground, discovering who’s behind the dissemination is no easy feat. As fear and tension mount among the people of the Orient, Barren and his crew find themselves in a race against time to stop the spread of dark magic before the world of Mariana spirals into collapse.

[Published by StarSeed Press, 459 pages]

Teaser: Excerpt

Cove saw the torchlight first, scattered across the landscape, then he heard the cries and clamor. Several people crowded into the courtyard, others looked down from their windows far above, but they all joined in to rise in discord and demand justice for the display before them. And a display it was. Five bodies hung by the neck upon the gallows that rose like a dark shadow at the very center of the yard. The bodies had been frightening when Cove first found them, but now, between their wounds and the decay, they were horrific. Before the bodies stood Ben Willow and at his feet was Dr. Newell, who rested on his knees, bent over at his waist as if he’d been hit. His thinning gray hair fell over his face, hiding it from view.
      “Stop the carriage!” Cove ordered as they came upon the mob. Cove climbed out of the carriage followed by Hollow. They stood for a moment, only a few feet from the crowd. He could feel the hostility in the air and it sprouted from one thing, fear.
      He scanned the crowd. It took a moment, but his eyes finally found the men and women he had been searching for. Jonas had succeeded; members of his crew and network stood at the brink of the throng, waiting. Ainsley, Ean, Maddox, Sayida, and Jeanna. They all nodded, and as Cove made the first break in the crowd, they followed.
      There was resistance at first, and the wave of the crowd made him dizzy. There was nothing calm or nice about how Cove moved through the bodies, elbowing, thrashing, demanding entrance. And soon there was no struggle, for the men and women began to move aside, creating a path for him. He walked forward, drawing closer to the gallows. Silence descended, and now Cove could hear Ben’s voice.
      “If you refuse to speak of what befell these men, how are we to believe you aren’t responsible for their deaths?”
      He had not yet realized why the crowd had suddenly gone so quiet. Ben bent to grab a handful of Doctor Newell’s hair, forcing his head back so that his neck was exposed. Cove saw that the old man’s face was bruised and bloodied. A dagger flashed in Ben’s hand, and panic overtook Cove. He broke through the front of the crowd.
      “This is madness!” the ambassador seethed. “Stop! I demand you stop!”
      Ben straightened, letting go of Dr. Newell, who sagged to the floor of the gallows with exhaustion.
      “Ambassador Rowell,” Ben drawled. He didn’t seem surprised to see Cove here. “You would halt the punishment of a man who has killed five men?”
      The crowd reacted, shouting and throwing garbage at the stage, intent on hitting Dr. Newell. Cove moved, holding his side. His skin felt clammy and he was dizzy, but he maintained his focus. “Has this man had a trial? Has he been convicted of murder?” the ambassador challenged.
      “This is all the jury Dr. Newell needs, and they have declared his guilt!”
      The crowd cheered and the fire of the torches in the crowd swayed with agreement.
      “What is going on here?” the voice boomed, but not in its normally cheerful manner. It was Matthew Dulcemer, the governor of Arcarum. The crowd parted even further for his large form.
      “Governor,” said Ben stepping forward.
      “Is this your crowd, Mr. Willow?”
      The man hesitated. “They’re here for answers, Governor. These men were found in Dr. Newell’s office. You will see that their wounds are…rather unnatural.”
      The governor’s eyes moved to the men for a moment, and he studied them. Then his eyes slid back to Ben. “What is to fear of a dead man?”
      Ben set his jaw. “And what of you, ambassador? Can you argue with the men behind you? Surely even you must agree that such an evil must be stopped.”
      “I do agree,” said Cove. “Which is why I brought the bodies to Dr. Newell in the first place.”
      Ben smiled, his eyes alight with pleasure. Gasps escaped from the crowd. The air around them was thick with the smell of rain, and lightning began to flash in the sky. Cove wanted it to pour and douse the sick flames that had begun this panic.
      “Say that again,” Ben demanded.
      “He said,” Matthew’s voice boomed. “That Dr. Newell was only doing what he was instructed, and you, Mr. Willow, should also know that I was aware of this agreement.”
      Cove was careful not to look surprised, but he felt it. Matthew had not been aware of such a thing.
      Ben narrowed his eyes. “Why keep this a secret? Did you not feel the people of Arcarum had a right to know about this?” Some voices rose in agreement.
      “The men were not found in Arcarum. They were found at sea,” said Cove. “Besides, we cannot infer anything from what we have here, and we should not spread fear needlessly.”
      “But this is to be feared!” Ben argued, pointing at the men. “This is fear!”
      “The only thing I see to be feared here is your disregard for what is right,” said Matthew. Ben didn’t look at Matthew. His eyes were on Cove, menacing and dark. Cove stepped forward to help Dr. Newell to his feet. He took a knife from his boot and cut the bonds from the doctor’s hands.
      “Are you okay, John?”
      “Yes,” he wheezed, leaning into Cove. “Thank you.”
      “You’re bleeding, ambassador,” Ben said. Cove didn’t look at his shirt. He still felt lightheaded from the wound.
      Matthew’s voice rose. “Go to your homes! You should all be ashamed!”
      The crowd broke away slowly, and Cove helped Dr. Newell down from the gallows. Those who had come with Cove wandered to him.
      “Take the bodies to the church. Alaster will know what to do,” he ordered. As they obeyed, Ben’s voice rose, catching the attention of those who remained in the courtyard.
      “These are the bodies of pirates, are they not, ambassador?”
      Cove paused and turned with Dr. Newell. “If they swore by the mark, we will never know,” he said. And they wouldn’t. The wound over their hearts had erased any traces of the tattoo. “We cannot make assumptions about things we do not know…that’s how people die.”
      And he meant that as a threat.
      Then he turned, moving past what remained of the crowd. He felt Matthew following close behind, like a thought he didn’t want to recall. Matthew was reminding Cove that he still wanted answers.
      As Cove helped Dr. Newell onto the carriage, he turned to face Matthew. The governor didn’t look severe, but he didn’t look jolly either. No, the look in his eyes made Cove’s chest tighten up. It was a mix of fear and sadness. This was what it was like to be on the brink of losing.
      “I expect a visit,” said Matthew. “And soon.”
      Cove nodded, and while he was indebted to Matthew for what he’d done, he knew there was a profound change between them. Tonight had ensured that a seed had been planted in Matthew, in the people of Arcarum. Cove Rowell was not to be trusted.

Author Q&A

Where did you get the idea of the Cutlass Trilogy?
"This is a hard question, only because the Cutlass Trilogy has been with me for so long.  I began writing it as a Freshman in High School.  I actually think I thought it would be a cool play for my drama class, but I just kept writing.

As I changed, the story took on various forms until I settled on the one you are reading now.  

I might be able to satisfy this question a little better by also saying that I approached the rewrite with a focus on the characters.  I wanted to see how I could make readers empathize with Barren, and I wanted to ensure that Larkin was a strong female character.  I knew approaching a pirate series, I couldn’t have a pirate who was really a ‘saint.’.  To me, that wasn’t realistic. So Barren had to have baggage.

I suppose that’s where Larkin comes in—she was the saint, but even she learns that not everything is as it seems.  And not everything is black and white.  There are always two sides to every story, and people on both sides that believe they are fighting for what’s most right. "
What made you want to write about Barren and Larkin?
"I love the dynamic of Barren and Larkin.  They are both really strong characters.  Together they are passionate and proud.  They have very strong belief systems, they don’t like to be wrong, and they are very loyal. They also surprise me.

Barren is my troubled soul.  I think it was hard to know he was so young and that he had killed, but I also think that’s just the reality of the life he leads.  But Barren isn’t happy about it, and he’s not happy with himself.  He struggles with his decisions—they are irrational, though really, he does seem to be motivated by goodness (goodness from his perspective).  I think he’s desperate to feel like he has an identity.  While he wants to be like his father, he’s also seeking that thing he’s going to be best at.

Larkin is like me—she is very truthful and open, and she hates this idea that people would consider her an object.  She wants to prove herself so badly, and she has to learn how to do that, just as I have.  I wanted her to be a feminist, and someone you had to listen to because she doesn’t sit aside and let you speak over her, or share your ideas without hearing hers.  She makes mistakes, but she’s learning and she is spectacular."
How did you come up with character names?
"My characters tell me their names.  It can take a long time.  Barren is the best example.  He was a lot of names before he agreed that Barren was his name.  I came by the name Barren from history class.  I’d learned about the Red Baron, a German fighter pilot in WWI. I liked the name, changed the spelling, and there you have it.   Reed was always going to be his last name.

Larkin’s name I happened upon while searching for possible names.  I wanted something that was pretty, but also strong.  The website I found her name on said it was masculine, but I couldn’t let it go, and neither could she.  Lee was always going to be her last name.

Leaf got his name from Leif Erikson, the Norse explorer who is considered to have come to America before Christopher Columbus. His last name, Tinavin, was just words I randomly strung together on a piece of paper."
What is your new series, Nacoma Knight, about?
"Nacoma Knight is a series about souls.  There are no angels or demons in this book because there just aren’t.  Basically, there’s the good guys (Shadow Knights) and there’s the bad guys (Cercatore).  The Shadow Knights fight to protect humans from having their souls taken.  A girl named Anora Silby gets pulled into the middle after losing her mother.  So, it’s a story of grief and a story of empowerment."
How would you describe your writing style?
"It is haphazard.  It’s a combination of outlining and just writing random dialogue.  I feel I am best at dialogue, so once I have a set of words I want someone to say, I add scenes to it.  Sometimes, however, I know exactly how I want a scene to go—I can see it like a movie in my head—and I write that.  There are several large scenes in Flintlock I knew had to be in the book that I wrote months and month (some are years) ago."

The Cutlass Trilogy 
On 19 Sep 2015 ONLY
get Cutlass FREE and Flinlock for 99 pence / cents.

UK: purchase from Amazon.co.uk US: purchase from Amazon.com find on Goodreads purchase from Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren't used as much as she'd like.

When she's not writing, she's hard at work on her Master's degree in Library Science and Information Technology, working out, or pretending she's Sherlock Holmes.

Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she's loved everything Fantasy--resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the 'geek' tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go.

Follow Ashley Nixon:

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