Thursday, February 22, 2024

Storm's Convergence by Valerie Storm Virtual Book Tour


Bewitching Guest Blog:


Your journey to becoming a writer


My writing journey started when I was ten with a “book” written by hand on lined paper and stapled together, complete with a cover! At its core, that book was a fanfic of Kingdom Hearts: two friends and I lived regular lives (on a beach!) until one day, we were separated and given magical swords (though ours were elemental and actual swords, not keyblades). Mine was electric!

I don’t the specifics about those books now (they became a series) except that, like Kingdom Hearts, I used villains from other media, particularly other video games I was playing at the time. Raziel from Soul Reaver was a main player. All in all, I don’t even know what I intended with those books, but I remember I had so much fun creating something just for me.

As I grew a little older, I got into anime and other games, like the SRPG Disgaea. I learned to love demons and from a curious mix of Disgaea and Inuyasha, I created Kari, my wolf demon who violently hated love. She cemented herself into my mind as my original character, the person who would be me and grow with me over the years.

In high school, I stopped writing for various reasons. With some prodding from my brother (who had been a big source of inspiration for my writing and Kari’s world), I returned to it and realized Kari had changed a lot—just as I had. We had to reacquaint ourselves, but we learned and I realized how deeply rooted Kari was in me. She wasn’t just a character, she was me, living a different life and carrying out my hardships at my side.

I started seriously writing Kari’s whole series in my junior year, then carried those tales (eventually) into college. When friendships fell apart and life got hard, Kari and I forged a new path. In college I remembered my childhood wish of being published someday, and started the long journey of being a serious writer—and eventually, an author.

College writing classes were where I learned to share my work with new people and accept (and reject) criticism. I recognized my intent and found new ways to reach for my goals. Social media was important, especially if I wanted to join traditional publishing under Harper Collins (my first, original dream), so I joined Twitter. I found other writers, made friends and connections. I met people who were interested in Kari and her story, and that lit an absolute fire in my soul.

Eventually I dropped the long-term dream of trad publishing. Years of rejection letters, only for the chance to get an agent who MIGHT net me a deal of a few grand? Nah. I happened upon indie publishing, particularly Shadow Spark, and felt a calling. After all, Shadow Spark—the two sides of me, Kari and Raven—was where I was meant to be. Now, twenty years later, I have published half of Kari’s story and we’ve both grown immeasurably.



Storm's Convergence
Demon Storm 
Book 5
Valerie Storm

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing
Date of Publication: 2/13/24
Cover Artist: @Ginkahederling
ASIN: B0CRYQJRN1
Number of pages: 313
Word Count: 78962

Tagline: The Fire Witch ruined Kari's life once before
                Now she's back
                And she's not alone

Book Description: 

The calm can only last so long.

Now a member of Freehaven's Council, Kari tries to put her past behind her and settle down in her new home with her ever-present Lord and love, Ari.

Cracks in her mind, parting gifts from the heart eater, make planning the upcoming Spring Festival a struggle, but Kari is determined to do her best, even after Guine departs the town.

When a mysterious child appears at the festival and marks Kari, all semblance of normalcy is banished.

A triple threat from her past awaits beyond the walls of Freehaven and options are thin. Not willing to spill any more blood, Kari takes it upon herself to stop them—with Ari by her side.


Excerpt:

The girl grabbed the neckline of her shirt and jerked her closer with too much ease. Kari stiffened as the girl’s cheek touched hers.

“Funny wolf demon, hiding in this wretched town.” Her voice was low and cruelly amused. Kari tensed, prepared to jerk free and throw a fist, but the girl hissed, “Ah, no, don’t move. There are many innocents here, though I would not call demons innocent. I know you would not want them hurt.”

She suddenly realized the closeness of so many villagers, as if she’d been ripped out of reality and dropped harshly back into it again.

Kari bit back a growl. “Who are you?”

She knew, though, before the small girl laughed. The boastful yet righteous arrogance of someone who believed truly and wholly in her cause—it could be no one else.

“I feel your defeat. You’ve answered your own question.”

Kari’s throat was dry. “Ri…Riniko. What are you doing here? Why—”

“Since you’ve yet to heed our warning, I’m here to play a little game.”

“Kari!” Ari called.

Riniko’s small hands tightened. “Tell him to leave. We’re busy.”

She hesitated. Ari yelled for her again, and now she envisioned him pushing through the crowds, looking for where she’d gone.

“It’s fine,” she yelled back. “I…I’m helping someone. I’ll catch up!”

Riniko’s grip didn’t loosen. “Your boy is insistent.”

Kari turned her head with some difficulty, given Riniko’s grip. The little witch traded, wrapping her arms around Kari’s neck with a giggle that cracked against her eardrums.

Visible between passersby, Ari made his way to them. His brows raised at the sight of the girl around her neck.

“Who is…”

Kari smiled, big and wide, and prayed he didn’t notice her trembling lips. “She’s lost. I’m part of the Council, so she came to me. Go back to Rathik and Essie, I’ll catch up.”

Ari saw something in her face; his eyes constricted, his jaw pulsing, uncertain of what to do.
Please walk away, Ari. It’ll be okay this time. I promise.

When she did not say anything more, he relented. “Alright. Meet us over there, okay?”

Kari nodded, jostling Riniko. Ari glanced between them, then jogged off.

Riniko giggled again, quieter this time. “Good.”

Kari grabbed her around the waist and yanked her off. There was something insanely surreal about holding a small child in her hands, a child whose eyes burned with unmatched cruelty and fire.

“What do you want?” she snarled.

Riniko wrapped too-small fingers around Kari’s wrists and met her eye with a cool, even gaze.

“You know what we want. I’m only here to set the fire of action a little higher for you.”
Her palms, pressed against Kari’s skin, warmed. Kari’s eyes widened, and she struggled with the instinct to fling the small child away.

“We do not want to burn this entire village to the ground. Despite the way these villagers associate with demons, they are still good, innocent people. The demons can be excused as long as they remain thusly. But you cannot. You must come and face your fate.”

Her arms were burning; Kari bit back a scream. “I keep telling you, I don’t want to hurt anyone! Why can’t you just leave me alone?”

“Tell that to those poor people in the east. They probably thought you didn’t want to kill them. But now they’re very, very dead.”

Kari staggered back. There were fewer villagers out now, less to see this odd pair, but Kari dreaded what Riniko would do if even one was drawn to them. She inched away from the square, edging toward an alley between two buildings.

“Isn’t it enough that I died once? What more can you want?”

Riniko laughed. “Oh, yes, but Zina got cold feet. Superstition, I guess. She couldn’t let it die with you. No, she believed it would go on, despite having no body. So here you are, her little pet wolf demon, but she won’t be here to save you a second time.”

Cold feet? Let it die with her?

The burning on her arms increased, snapping her attention back to Riniko’s young-girl face.
“I’ll come to you,” Kari croaked. “Does that make you happy? I’ll leave and find you.”

Riniko’s eyes lit up, though she did not remove her hands. The heat continued to rise until Kari thought she could smell her flesh cooking.

“Oh, do you promise?” Riniko asked, her voice girlish, sickeningly sweet. “Pretty please?”

“Please stop,” Kari whispered between her teeth.

Little hands lifted, releasing her from the agony of fire. Kari trembled, then froze as those hands touched her cheeks.

“It was easy to infiltrate this place, Kari. It would be even easier, now, to set it all ablaze. You remember my previous work.”

Kari’s hands around Riniko’s waist shook with the effort to not squeeze her into pieces. “You’re the monster, witch,” she snarled.

“It takes a monster to slay one,” Riniko responded. “Remember that if you decide to hesitate any longer. I’m tired of waiting for this final show. My sisters have both seen that I was right and now it’s time to end this.” Riniko raised her hands. “Put me down.”

Shaking profusely, Kari set Riniko on the ground, where the little witch-girl brushed off her plain, brown dress. She fluffed her hair, then raised a finger to her lips.

“Remember your promise,” she said, then spun and skipped away into the darkness.



About the Author:

Valerie Storm was raised in Tucson, Arizona. Growing up, she fell in love with everything fantasy. When she wasn’t playing video games, she was writing. By age ten, she began to write her own stories as a way to escape reality. When these stories became a full-length series, she considered the path to sharing with other children & children-at/heart looking for a place to call home.












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