Thank you for giving me the opportunity to provide a guest blog for your website. My name if Kim Luke and I am the author of the Circle of Sun fantasy series. I just published the second book in the series Black Inferno.
Before the days of Pinterest, I was a collector of photographs. When an image made a deep impression, for whatever reason I would save it in a file folder. This was way before I was writing books. I am amazed how many of these pictures have crept out of my imagination and into my storylines.
What is it about the feeling I get from the space that surrounds me? Ideas spill out from these pictures and my fingers struggle to keep up. Although my storylines are grounded in reality, their mystical aspects build action and drama in a realm parallel to it.
In the book Black Inferno, my character finds herself dreaming, and from this photo I wrote about her dream.
“Her spirit flies high above the grounds of Royce Estate. With powerful wings spread, she glides through blue skies. Each downward thrust lifts her higher. She leaves her fears struggling for breath on the earth and soars up to towering crystal arches atop pillows of clouds. Without hesitation, Sapphire steps upon the fluffy white and enters a new dimension. The crystal structure towering above her glistens in the golden sun, sending shimmering droplets exploding delicately around her. With infinity for a ceiling she enters the fortress called the Tower of Living Stones.”
Technology has paved a superhighway of access to pictures providing an endless source of inspiration. On my Pinterest page “Circle of Sun” I have a board with these wonderful types of images. Each of them are waiting for me to find their story and that is what I intend to do.
Circle of Sun
Circle of Sun Series
Cover Artist: Anne and Marshal Tezon at Personal Chapters
Something is wrong in White Oak, MO After a deadly climbing accident, 30-year-old Quinn Clarke loses her job and retreats to the sleepy Missouri riverside town of White Oak to heal her fractured body and rebuild her life. But the tourist village, with its wineries, quaint shops and rich history, turns out to be anything but sleepy.
Something is wrong with the water in White Oak. Birds are dying and bizarre weather conditions threaten the town’s future. Quinn is sucked into the chaos, beginning with a mystery woman who delivers a message suggesting her climbing tragedy was no accident. Quinn meets handsome detective Keefe Remington, then visits nearby Royce Estate. She loses her way and her peace of mind on that visit and is confused and unprepared for what lies behind the massive stone walls and how she is somehow connected to the Royce family.
The first book of the Circle of Sun series takes Quinn from main street bookstore owner to unlikely heroine and straight into a darkness that could turn White Oak into a battlefield . . . and into her destiny.
Book Trailer https://youtu.be/0k3GDE87Ud8
Available at www.kimlukeauthor.com
Circle of Sun Prologue
No one will visit his final resting place. In death, as in life, his name had long been associated with broken promises, broken rules and broken lives. He embraced nothing, and was embraced by nothing. His only lasting impression was darkness, keeping even the most forgiving souls from speaking a kind word about him, even in death. A brisk October wind forces a tighter clenching of the scarf covering her throat. The only sound heard is the crunch and swish of fallen leaves as she walks to the pauper's section of the cemetery. She pauses, and kneels with devotion to the memory of Colton LaMont. Melanie clears debris and places a few flowers upon the site. Sorrowful tears fall for her undeclared love, and the parched and thirsty soil drinks.
Brilliant sunlight floods the rock face we climb. The quartz veins in the limestone shimmer near my gloved hand. The two of us scale the forty-five foot challenge with ease. We take pictures of one another.
Alec teases me about my pink camera, and my sloppy climbing technique. We gather our gear and walk across to the next plateau, passing crevices and brush. He leads, and I follow. His sandy hair dances with every September gust. Alec's shoulders are broad and he is tall compared to my petite frame. His body is fit and the bronze of his skin reveals seasons of living to the fullest. Alec is beautiful. The adage might be true that opposites attract. He is dark, and I am fair. Alec thrives on adventures while I find adventure in books and history. I am not glamorous like the women I would pair with his kind, but his love for me is pure. I don't have to be anything more than what I am, making me love him even more, if it were possible.
The azure sky is a breathtaking backdrop for puffy white clouds to sail by. This day is magical only because I am alone with him.
Alec jogs back in the direction of our last climb when I realize my camera is missing, and I continue on the trek to set up for our next climb. I grow uneasy; does he need my help? He's been gone too long, and I try to stay calm as I make my way back to the top of the ledge.
"Alec...Alec!" I say, but no answer comes.
Eyeing the ledge, my fear mounts and can no longer be ignored. Panic grips me and without hesitation I make my way to the drop off. I slowly peek over. His voice behind me says my name.
Turning, I am blinded by the searing rays of the afternoon sun. I see only a tall shadow before large hands violently shove my shoulders with such force I am thrust over the rock wall. My scream fills the canyon. I am free falling down, down. My lungs ache for a breath in this deep darkness. I am suffocating. I experience excruciating pain and ultimate despair. All hope escapes my consciousness.
Sound and sight are extinct now. My world is black.
Warmth surrounds my feet and travels slowly up my body. My afflictions are gone. My eyelids are open, to a foreign place. I rise and begin to walk, but my feet don't touch the sand. I float along a quiet shoreline. The sterling sea is calm. Without sun or moon this place is neither day nor night, but dusk-like. Through the mist a figure approaches.
Her body glides towards me. She is draped in shimmering silver, her face expressionless. Her gaze is not at me, but beyond me.
Curious, I turn, only infinite shoreline. My quivering hands cover my racing heart.
She seems to sense my fear as she studies me. Large round eyes peer into mine, into my soul. Her blank expression is replaced with tender mercy. Her friendly eyes promise no harm. I am no longer afraid. I can't see, but I feel her smile. She is blissful; her immense joy radiates around her like sparkling crystals.
My face is now wet from the mist, yet her ivory skin is smooth and dry. Before I can form words, she does.
"No one can prepare for a time as this. The sun itself fades in brilliance a bit with each passing day. Eyes look but do not see. Purity drains from the hearts of good men. Find the Circle of Sun. A tender seed must push through bitter soil to survive," she says and points behind me. "Let the prints lead you."
The footprints behind me are mine.
She interrupts my thoughts.
"Follow their path to your sun."
I bask in her radiant warmth as her graceful hand touches my face.
Her gaze never leaves me as she glides away.
I watch as she melts into the distance. I want to follow, but she is gone. Few and unclear were her words. All I can do is begin. I turn and take the first step.
My heavy eyelids open to blurred edges of brilliant color, strange bouquets cover the ceiling. I blink to focus and the scene becomes clear. Taped to the ceiling are vivid crayon-filled pictures, children's artwork thoughtfully placed for those waking up.
Suddenly a face casts a smile down at me.
"Dr. Crenshaw is here to check in on you," says a nurse.
"Quinn, how are you feeling? Your surgical procedure went very well, and with your recent progress, we can begin to discuss getting you out of here after all of these months. I am sure you are ready," the doctor says.
I am completely baffled by this conversation and I struggle to communicate. My confusion is obvious to him and he pats my hand. Me? In the hospital for months? I am disconnected to reality, free falling again.
"You are still groggy, I will be back in the afternoon to check in on you," he says kindly.
My drowsy state can only mean I am still dreaming. The memory of the misty grey ocean beckons and I remember the mystical place. Desperate to return to the silver shoreline, I fall into sleep hoping to see her again.
During the next week reality rolls in like an unwelcomed storm. Added to confusion is loss. Alec is gone. Pain permeates every fiber of my being, and the waves of grief crest and ebb. Hikers found us at the bottom of the rock face, Alec dead and me clinging to life. In death, Alec saved my life, his body breaking my fall. I am horrified at the picture this paints in my mind. Alec is gone, and even though I survived the accident, I will need months of recovery. Investigators did not seriously consider what I told them about being pushed. My pink camera was never found, perhaps it never existed. Trauma can produce false memories, they explained. The only logical theory of what happened on the cliff has been difficult to accept. Alec fell and my shock at seeing him dead, caused me to fall too. Although I could not identify who the shadowy figure was, I know it was Alec's voice making me to turn. How is it possible? If he pushed me, how could his body break my fall? I can't put the pieces together. As my body heals, answers elude me. I recall the panic as I approached the edge. I heard Alec's voice behind me saying my name. I was blinded by the sun. I remember hands forcefully pushing me. It's not possible. Alec would never hurt me. I reluctantly accept their version of the accident as reality. Logically it makes sense, so I struggle to recapture my confidence and stabilize my mental state.
Circle of Sun Series
Genre: Fiction Fantasy
Date of Publication: March 28, 2015
Number of pages: 218
Word Count: 79,999
Cover Artist: Anne and Marshall Tezon
The second installment in the Circle of Sun series finds the Guardians on a quest to save a city of innocent souls from potential decimation by illness and some seemingly innocuous chocolates.
As some of the Guardians are battling unseen evil away from home, their former leader and patriarch is falsely imprisoned and his daughter disappears. What does it take to recover another Fidesorb?
The discovery of a secret society of Guardians has created a new reality for Quinn Clarke and her friends in the little riverside town of White Oak. The first Quest with Quinn as the Polaris to the Circle of Sun transports our Guardians to a suspended season in time. Wearing the armor of faith, will they be able to rescue a city of innocent souls spellbound by a faceless enemy? Is the return of tranquility to White Oak after the defeat of the River People only the calm before the storm?
As new ties of friendship are laced, they quickly become restrictive and threatening. A tragic turn of events puts Romulus in danger of losing his freedom, and Sapphire is missing, leaving the Circle of Sun fractured and vulnerable.
Will a victorious Quest cost lives on the home front? What secrets lie within the lush rolling vineyards, hidden oak barrels, the Grand Royce Estate and even Fireside Books?
In the second installment of the Circle of Sun, our characters must grow into courageous defenders of light, if they are to break free of the vast and sticky web of deceit that threatens them. Their goal is to recover another precious Fidesorb so it can be returned to its rightful place in the angelic realms.
Book Video https://youtu.be/NkJvzjpZcpk
Black Inferno Prologue
Quinn can't sleep. She takes in the view of the rolling Missouri hills from her window at Royce Estate. At first glance she could be any woman, but Quinn Clarke Royce is no ordinary woman, not any more. Since discovering her family and being chosen as the new Polaris to the Circle of Sun, there is little remaining of her former life. Quinn and those she loves navigate in a new world as Guardians. The lack of sleep is a fraction of the price she will pay while growing into a leadership role that defies reality. Few days remain before the announcement of the Quest. A selected Guardian must accept before knowing any details about the Quest, and only Quinn knows a Quest can take them to a place untouched by the passage of time.
Her past days of collecting and selling books, merchandizing and marketing, are replaced by a crash course in the angelic realms. She's learned the various ranks of Guardians, Sleepers, Pathfinders and Knights and the existence of Living Stones and how they are used to measure the balance of goodness. Like opening the cover of a book and reading a fantastic tale of the battle between light and dark, her journey now spans the ages.
Quinn's homeland, identified in the angelic realm as Nadellawick is peaceful this night, but only a short time ago the battle raged, destroying the evil Petulah and her River People. The victory over the darkness and recovery of a missing Fidesorb in Nadellawick was celebrated by everyone except one. A storm brews and bubbles and a thick fog moves in from the river.
White Oak, Missouri
There is nothing good about a bad dream, except waking up. His new reality is a walking nightmare. The initial shock faded but his hopelessness remains. The emptiness is constant, his existence black like this moonless night.
The windshield wipers cannot compete with the driving storm. Wheels careen around a sharp curve high on the bluff. The lost soul pushes harder on the accelerator, inching closer to the white line. Air fills his lungs as he inhales for the last time. A loud and deafening crack of lightening jolts the senses of this broken man and illuminates the road and a figure before him. Thud! A sudden impact thrusts the car into a spin, ripping a path into the opposite ditch. He lies motionless, sprawled across the seat. Regardless of his intent, consciousness returns in fuzzy lined scenes. The engine is dead, but he is not. Headlights show nothing but pellets of rain cutting through the darkness. For a moment he forgets the incident that put him there. Nothing happens when he turns the key. The driver side door can't be opened so he slides to the passenger side for exit. With the vehicle at a steep angle, the weight of the door flies open and dumps him into the saturated roadside.
Attempts to stand are thwarted by the relentless wind. Not wearing boots his shoes fill with water as he sloshes through the tall grasses. Relieved when his feet reach pavement, he scans the perimeter for a victim. The gusts whip drops that sting, making the search difficult. A flickering light between boulders at the bluffs edge captures his attention. Could it be a signal for help? The massive rock is slippery, but his second attempt finds a small foothold to boost himself up. The boulder places him even higher above the dangerous rim. Unsteady against the punishing winds he crouches down. The source of the mysterious flashing illuminates his wide-eyed gaze and nature muffles his terrified gasp. The empty man searches for signs of life amidst the blood and bits of fur. Motionless, he stands as the familiar moves and reveals itself to him. On this night, seconds before his life should have ended, he finds the reason to go on.
About the Author:
Author Kim Luke once had to help a customer at her family Christmas tree farm chop down a fresh tree in a business suit and heels. She was comfortable in that attire, the “uniform” of her marketing profession. She was not as comfortable as a Christmas tree farmer, but she’s learned to be supportive in this family endeavor.
The tree farm is located in Missouri, the setting for both of Kim’s two novels in her Circle of Sun series. A literature major in college, Luke has always enjoyed a good story and loves using her imagination. Of her many passions, writing has been with her the longest.
The cornerstones in her life are her faith and family. Kim and husband Bob are blessed with three children, incredible in-laws and three grandchildren. The Lukes live with their Alaskan Malamute dog on a beautiful 20 acre farm, where Kim indulges her love of books, coffee, wine and positive thinkers.
You can connect with Kim at www.kimlukeauthor.com, on Facebook at Circle of Sun or on Twitter, @kimluke. She is also a Goodreads author.