The Final Hurdle

I have just eight weeks  to go before I complete my undergraduate degree in English Literature and History. Just the matter of a dissertation on fairies, an essay on children’s literature, two essays on creative writing, a 3000 word short story plus edits and one final dreaded exam to get through and I’ll be free, to do what I want – most of the time.

In preparation I’ve been making a few plans. First and foremost is to complete the first draft of Persephone Reborn. I’ve been going through my plot notes and what has already been written and it currently stands at around 32,000 words. That’s about a third of the way through the story, so another 60-80,000 words and it will be ready for the first round of rewrites and edits. It makes the 15,000 words or so that I have left to write for university seem almost easy in comparison, but I would much rather be working on the novel than planning another essay.

Having had to put my writing career on hold for the best part of the last five years it’s been a struggle to build a readership for my books, but I’m hoping to change that by using this blog as a base from which I can share insights into my writing process and interesting (I hope) posts that relate to what I’m working on. You can probably expect things about the locations, history and myths that feature in the next novel, everything from Greek vampires to Liverpool’s sunken graveyard and I’m going to try and become more active on  instagram, facebook, twitter and pinterest. All things I’ve neglected over the last few years.  I’m not the most natural self-promoter so we’ll see what happens.

For the moment it’s back to that essay…

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

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Would You Be Tempted by Immortality?

Immortal Final Cover 5 x 8   The title character of my latest novel, Immortal, is a man who has lived for two thousand years.  Tricked into a deal with Lucifer he has spent immortality as the instigator of disaster and a cause of  chaos in the human world. Given the name Malachi, meaning messenger or prophet, he has almost  forgotten his real name or how he became Lucifer’s pet. All he knows is that he hates what he must  do, but to refuse would mean losing his soul to the eternal torments of Hell for far longer than he has  been alive.

   The inspiration for Malachi comes from a biblical character called “the rich man’s son”. When he  asks Jesus how he can enter the kingdom of Heaven and be given eternal life he is told that he must  renounce his worldly wealth, give up his possessions to the poor and follow Jesus. Only then will he  be rewarded with riches in Heaven.

   The young man cannot accept this, he doesn’t want to give up his comfortable life and I found  myself wondering what he would do if he was offered immortality under different terms. If someone, a stranger, had told him he could not only keep the wealth he already had but accrue even more, be powerful and attractive and spend the rest of time doing anything he wanted in return for nothing more than a few “little jobs” as and when necessary – would he be tempted? Would he resist and question the stranger’s motives? Or would he jump at the chance to live forever?

Once the deal is done it cannot be taken back and Malachi finds himself in an impossible situation. Forced to do Lucifer’s bidding Malachi is at first appalled, but the ever present threat of Hell’s horrors keeps him at his post. Shunned by his own kind he comes to hate humanity and vows to carry out his work with zeal, but revenge is not so sweet and overtime this hatred turns to self loathing and a desire for oblivion.

We have met Malachi once before in Blackfeather, the first book in the series, where his role was to persuade Thomas Whittle to kill an angel and win immortality for himself. Without Malachi’s interference Catherine Whittle would not have died and Ashrafel would not have been exiled from Heaven. Now, five hundred years later, he meets Ashrafel again and all Hell could break loose.

Over the next few posts I’ll explain Malachi’s involvement in some of history’s disasters.

You can get Blackfeather from: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk,

Immortal is released tonight, at midnight, click here to purchase Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

We Need To Talk! – Another Immortal Excerpt.

She had made up her mind before Brian finished speaking and was now driving towards York. The dream, coupled with what Brian had told her on the phone had not only piqued her curiosity, but had kindled the first glimmer of hope since “the incident”.

Ignoring Brian and the curious looks that James and Nathan threw her way, she hung up her coat and frowned down at the piles of work on her desk.

‘Alright, Kate?’ James said.

‘Hmm,’ she grunted.

‘Happy New Year,’ Nathan offered.

She gave him a non-committal look before grunting once more then gathered an armful of folders and moved them from one side of the table to the other. They twisted in her arms and before she could recover several files began to fall, spilling their contents across the desk and onto the floor. The boys stepped forwards to help, but she held up her hand and waved them back. With a sigh she bent to pick the papers up noticing a sealed, slim white envelope among them. It was addressed to her, beautifully handwritten in a flowing script that reminded her of the engraving on the silver casket. Her pulse quickened as she tore it open and reached inside, something silky brushed her skin and her fingers curled away from it. The colour drained from her face. She already knew what it was before pulling it out into the light – a jet black feather. Along with this unmistakable calling card was a note, written in the same hand that had addressed the envelope.

We need to talk!

She flipped the note over. There was no signature, but the reverse had an altogether cheekier and not at all angelic message.

p.s. I wouldn’t have waited five hundred years 😉

Incredulous she raised an eyebrow, if the note hadn’t come from Ash, then who? Were her colleagues playing a joke on her? She looked quickly round at them, but neither James nor Nathan had ever known Ash and Brian no longer seemed to remember him. There was only one other possibility. The image of a tall, dark stranger standing with Ash at the bottom of her garden came to mind. Could the message be from the Watcher she had unknowingly met in Monty’s Rock Club the night she had gone to meet Brian and found Ash instead?

But Ash was gone. Wasn’t he?

Surely there was nothing more to say. Unless…

 

Behind her, the boys, who had been chatting quietly, suddenly became silent, listening instead to the sound of steady footsteps approaching the door. Kate stuffed the note and feather back into the envelope and slid it out of sight between the folders just as the handle began to turn. The sound of Brian clearing his throat caught her attention and he gestured at her to close her gawping mouth. As she slowly turned her eyes back to the door she was gripped with an uncanny sense of déjà-vu.

The man in the doorway looked round at the four silent, expectant faces before him. He was tall, blonde and pushed his wayward fringe off his face to reveal green eyes. But the resemblance to Ash ended there and Kate let out the breath she’d been holding and flopped onto her chair in disappointment. Though his eyes were green, they were pale and unremarkable, with no spark of fire in them and handsome as the young man was, Kate felt no attraction to him, no connection at all. The hope she had nurtured that Ash had found a way to return to her blew away like a paper bag in a storm.

The man stepped forward, held his hand out to Brian and said,

‘Hello, I’m looking for Peter Sharpe.’

It was enough to make Kate want to scream.

‘Sam,’ said a perfectly pleasant, but ordinary voice above her. When she looked up he was grinning at her, a puckered, thin, pale scar ran from beneath his right eye along his cheekbone and disappeared into his hairline. It was fine, but jagged and spoiled the symmetry of his face and Kate stared at it until she realised he had offered her his hand and she shook it, giving him a weak smile.

‘Kate,’ she said, her voice husky with unshed tears, grateful when he moved on to the boys.

She stood up, put on her coat, shouldered her bag and was taking the envelope with its mysterious message from between the files when Brian said,

‘Why don’t you give Sam the guided tour, Kate?’

She glared at him, why was he picking on her? Couldn’t he see all she wanted was to get out of there? He simply folded his arms and sat on the edge of his desk as though he could wait forever. Kate sighed. Brian had done a lot for her the last couple of weeks, not least arranging the rebuilding of her living room wall and replacing the French windows. He’d removed the blasted, twisted remains of the cherry tree too and planted the rhododendron bush in its place, though he didn’t seem to remember any of it. She knew she owed him a favour. So, instead of running back home to hide from the world she took off her coat, laid it over the back of her chair and turned reluctantly towards Sam.

‘Come on, I’ll show you how things work around here.’

After a couple of hours Kate had come to a disturbing conclusion about their new colleague. Sam Hale had arrived fresh from a postgraduate degree, newly accredited and completely clueless. She had spent most of the morning, not only showing him where everything was, but explaining exactly how genealogy and probate worked. She wondered exactly what it was that had persuaded Peter to employ him. In the end she had set him to work searching the censuses for one of her probate cases and left him to it. If there were any problems Brian could sort it out.

Spread across her desk was what remained of The Markham Family Tree. She stared at it for several minutes a frown of anguish on her face as she remembered the close connection she shared with the names on the list then buried her face in her hands at the futility of it all. When she emerged she was surprised to find Sam watching her. She shut the folder and flung it in the top drawer of her desk. Sam was still staring in her direction and continued to do so until she started to feel self-conscious and began to squirm beneath his gaze. At that moment the sun chose to peek out from behind a cloud and a strange shaft of light lanced the room illuminating Sam’s face. His eyes suddenly flared with incandescent green fire that sparked and glittered the way she knew only Ash’s could do. Kate, transfixed, watched in shock as Sam’s whole face seemed to metamorphose into an altogether more familiar face.

Throughout the whole extraordinary episode he simply gazed back at her as though nothing out of the ordinary was taking place, and then he smiled at her, that warm, loving, lopsided grin that she missed so very much and before she knew it Kate was on her feet, her chair toppling over behind her. The clatter it made seemed to break the spell and as quickly as it had come, the light faded. Sam was just Sam again and Ash’s face was just a memory.

You can buy Immortal here

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

 

Immortal – Extract From Chapter Five

She was dreaming again. The same dream she’d had every night since “the incident” -whether he’d ascended to Heaven or not she’d had to kill him for him to do so, but she couldn’t bring herself to say Ash’s death. She was standing in the church with the dagger in her hand.

The Angel Killer flashed silver as it caught the light from the moon that streamed through the stained glass windows, drenching it and her arm in red like an omen of what was to come. Before her, Ash hung, Christ like, from the chains that kept him weak and immobile. He watched her, calmly waiting for her to come to him and smiled in encouragement. She took a step forward looking up into his eyes so full of love for her that it broke her heart.

‘Please, don’t make me do this,’ she begged.

‘It’s alright, Kate,’ he said, softly. ‘I’ll always be with you.’

She placed the point of the dagger against his chest then plunged it into the heart of the man she loved. The blood pumped out of the wound, flowing over her hands and across the floor of the church, chasing her as she danced backwards before it could reach her feet.

Every night, she would back away until she could go no further. Ash would be gone, but the blood kept coming. It would soak into her shoes, filling up the church like flood water, then rise to her ankles, her knees, her waist. When it reached her chin she would throw back her head, taking one last gulp of air as it covered her head. When she screamed, it rushed down her throat, choking her, filling her lungs, drowning her, until she woke coughing, spluttering and sobbing. But this time the dream changed. Just as the blood touched her shoes Ash called to her.

‘Kate,’ he cried.

She looked up startled to see him standing there, free of the chains, his eyes fading from a brilliant viridian to the dull green of a stormy sea. The knife wound she had made in his chest had disappeared, but there were others now and he was badly beaten as though he’d been outnumbered in a violent fight. He was dying and reached out to her, but she couldn’t move towards him, the blood, thick and viscous was already rising up her legs. She felt about her, expecting to feel the cold, hard stone of the wall behind her, but it wasn’t there and she caught herself teetering on the edge of a massive canyon while the blood rushed over the edge like a waterfall and curled away into the black void below.

‘KATE!’ Ashrafel screamed her name again and she tore her gaze away from the gaping hole behind her, cringing at the desperation in his voice.

His frightened eyes searched this way and that and she realised he couldn’t see her. She would have to move forward, against the flow of blood if she was to stop herself from being swept over the edge. The floor was slippery underfoot and it was beginning to crumble. Her fingers groped for the edge of a nearby church pew, but it was too far away and she knew there was nothing she could do. She threw one last look towards the angel. His massive black wings extended out on either side of him, in his hand he held the blue sword he had once fought demons with. She’d never seen him look so angry. The intensity of his rage made her gasp then he raised his hand and slammed his fist into some invisible barrier.

There was just time to raise her hands protectively in front of her face before the whole scene burst outwards, showering her in shards of glass. And she fell.

Kate plummeted through the darkness like Alice down the rabbit hole, except she knew at the bottom there would be no wondrous world of talking animals and magic potions. She closed her eyes and waited for the jolt.

Didn’t people who dreamed they were falling usually wake up before they hit the bottom? she thought. She had read once that those who didn’t died in their sleep. But did they know they were dreaming before their hearts stopped? she wondered.

She opened her eyes. She was still falling through space, but she was slowing and had somehow turned in mid-air until she was falling feet first, floating downwards, coming to rest in the chair at her desk at work.

James, Nathan and Brian stood behind her, all of them looking eagerly towards the door, waiting for something or someone. As she watched, the doorknob began to turn and all of them held their breath. It opened so slowly that she began to give it some impatient encouragement.

‘Come on Come on,’ she whispered through gritted teeth

Eventually a figure stepped through, still obscured by shadow until they were suddenly caught in a weird shaft of light, as though someone had turned a spotlight on them. At the last moment she had closed her eyes, afraid to see who had entered, but forced herself to raise her eyes, at last, to the face of the stranger. The shock made her jaw drop. Brian gestured at her to close her mouth, but her heart soared.

The man that stood in the office doorway was tall, blonde, with flashing green eyes and an adorable lopsided grin. It was Ash! He pushed the flop of fringe from off his face and said,

‘Hello, I’m looking for Peter Sharpe.’

 

You can purchase Immortal here

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

Immortal Book Extract Chapter One

The figure, perched on the highest point of York Minster, had his eyes closed and his arms outstretched as though he was about to take a swan dive off the building. If the tiny figures below, intent on checking their texts and posting morning selfies, had looked skywards he would have drawn quite a crowd, but humans rarely bother to look up.

“Where are you little brother?” the figure said, sending the thought out far and wide in all directions.

He crouched, looking out over the city and waited for an answer. He had been searching for more than two weeks now, asking the same question over and over with only silence in return. No one knew where Ashrafel was. No one had seen him, sensed him, or even heard a rumour. The only word from above was that Ash had not returned home, but they could not tell him where he had gone instead. Could not or would not? The Watcher thought the latter. How could they not know where he was? He got the distinct impression he was being fobbed off.

Careful not to tell him an outright lie but evasive enough that he learned nothing, he had pestered them to the point that they no longer bothered to answer him at all.

Well, he could play games too, he knew better than anyone how to bend the rules and he had no intention of leaving his investigations there. There were other ways to find out what he wanted to know. He would just have to get creative.

You can purchase Immortal here

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

Immortal Release Date and Cover Reveal

Killing two birds with one stone today. I’m happy to tell you that Immortal will be released on the 4th April 2015 though I’m hoping to have it available for pre-order a few weeks before that.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting extracts from the book and some other extras. And, finally, here is the front cover image…

Immortal Final Cover 5 x 8

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

Your Guardian Angel and You – A Guide

The Blackfeather universe contains several mythological and religious themes including angels, demons and The Watchers. The abilities and appearance of these supernatural beings in the Blackfeather Series of books may not have any bearing on similar themes in the real world. To that end, I felt I should explain a few of the concepts as they appear in the books.

We’ll take a look at several attributes of angelic beings over the next few posts. Let’s start with the connection between guardian angel and ward. 

The Bond Between Guardian Angel And Ward 

797b9-angelstatueWhat Is A Guardian Angel? 
A guardian angel is an invisible companion, appointed by Heaven, to watch over a human. They are assigned to a soul at the birth of their first human incarnation and stay with them through all lifetimes lived by that one particular soul.

What Do They Do? 
Their duties include gentle encouragement and nudges in the right direction along a soul’s chosen life path. They can whisper suggestions into the mind of their charge, making them believe they are their own thoughts, but they must not make decisions for them or interfere in a human being’s free will. Ultimately, the choice to take one path over another belongs to the human whose decision it is to make.
They may keep their charges safe from harm in small ways, by making them change direction or delaying them in some way in order to avoid a dangerous situation. In the same vein they can manipulate events to bring about fortuitous occurrences, e.g. being in the right place at the right time. Most people put this kind of thing down to coincidence, but in reality there are no coincidences.
This is not the same as the miraculous escapes from death that some people experience, walking away from major accidents and crashes without a scratch on them for example, or like those tales that we’ve all heard of, where a mysterious stranger has appeared to warn against certain dangerous, life threatening courses of action. These are the domain of The Watchers and will be explained in another post.
In most cases, humans are never aware of their guardian angels and blunder through life after life oblivious of the divine help they receive. Guardian angels are careful not to reveal their presence and believe falling in love with their human charges is forbidden because of the enormous risks involved, but as Ashrafel says to Kate:

“I didn’t fall because I loved you. I fell because of the consequences that came about through that love.”

The connection between Ashrafel and Kate in the Blackfeather books is far deeper than that of any other guardian and ward. They are soul-mates, in every sense of the word. Ashrafel has and would continue to spend lifetimes searching for Kate’s reincarnated soul, and without him by her side, Kate feels lost and alone.
Whether they can overcome those consequences, battle the evil that has stalked them through five centuries and find a happy ever after remains to be seen…

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter