Friday, January 29, 2010

Events and new book news!

Hey gang! How is your 2010 thus far?

Before I start in on all my excitable commotion, first things first:
If you're looking for a top rated organization when it comes to $ for $ straight to the cause, with contacts on the ground and involved since before the quake, please consider Lutheran Disaster Response when making your Haiti contributions. A disaster like this isn't the way to start off the new year, but helping and praying is.


Next week I kick off what will be a jam-packed year of STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL events!

Feb. 2nd
Hey Brooklyn!
I'll be reading / signing The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker at the Clarendon Branch of the Brooklyn Public library.

Feb. 5-7
I'll be a Writer Guest of Honor at TEMPLE-CON!
TempleCon is a "Retro-Futurist" gaming / fantasy convention in Rhode Island with a focus on Steampunk and Neo-Victorianism! I'll be speaking on Saturday's Neo-Victorian panel before reading from / discussing the Strangely Beautiful series. (And giving away a tote-bag of books!) I'll have a booth where I'll be signing. There are so many great events, I can't wait! My dear friend Kelley Hensing will be there with me as an Artist Guest of Honor - check out her aweseome art. Her and I go way back to the Goth club scene in Cincinnati. It's exciting to share this with her now as we're both pursuing the artistic ventures we so dearly love. Temple-Con Details here.
Looking ahead to March in New Jersey:
March 6th!
I'll be doing a world-building workshop (and signing) at an awesome new paranormal convention
If you're interested in the physics of time travel, in ghost-hunting and a host of paranormal goodies, and you're close to New Jersey, check Velocicon out!

Book News!

Thanks to all of you, who supported The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and have gotten excited about what's coming up this year; The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker and Rebecca and Michael's Strangely Beautiful #2.5 novella in A Midwinter Fantasy anthology, all this excitment has led to Dorchester Publishing making books 3 and 4 in the Strangely Beautiful series official!
Book 3 in the series (title still TBA) is a prequel and will likely be out early spring 2011.

My agent tells me this will be announced in Publisher's Marketplace on Monday.

So thank you, thank you, for helping to keep the Strangely Beautiful series alive to complete its story arc the way I'd hoped! I'm so excited for all the Darkly Luminous events coming up!

Don't forget to enter the Valentine's Contest on my website and join the Facebook page to join in the fun for next month's Book-a-week Giveaway!


Leanna Renee

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Contests and A Midwinter Fantasy!

Hey friends! Hope your 2010 is going great! Mine so far has been filled with a lot of writing (of course) adventuring around NYC (always fun) seeing Sherlock Holmes again (swoon) watching David Tennant's run as Dr. Who in order (swoon swoon) and gearing up for a slew of Strangely Beautiful events the whole year!

How 'bout let's talk free stuff:

Contests, Contests, Contests!

I'm running THREE contests in the coming months - not to mention I'll be reincarnating the Haunted London Blog Tour!

Contest #1:
WIN A BOX OF BOOKS in the Valentine's Day Giveaway! Win great Paranormal and Fantasy Romance titles! Go HERE for details and mention your favourite Valentiny sort of thing via the Contact page to enter! (US residents only - sorry, postage costs run high for all this stuff!)

Contest #2:
Starting March 1 and running every MONDAY until just before the release of THE DARKLY LUMINOUS FIGHT FOR PERSEPHONE PARKER I'll be giving away a BOOK A WEEK! Via the Strangely Beautiful Facebook Page!

See HERE for the giveaway schedule, go HERE to join the Strangely Beautiful page - you need to be a fan to be able to "like" or comment, and that's how entries will be taken. Tell friends! Win free books!

Contest #3:
Beginning April 27th, the Website will open for entries for a chance to win Beatrice Tipton's locket featured in The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (an important item as important to Beatrice as Miss Percy's phoenix pendant was to her in Book 1) as well as a $25 dollar Barnes & Noble gift certificate! You're going to have to brush up your Shakespeare again because it will be another Strangely Beautiful pop quiz where you hunt for the Shakespeare references inside the pages!

In book news:

OCTOBER'S ANTHOLOGY has a title! - In October of this year myself, along with lovely Dorchester authors Helen Scott Taylor and L.M. McDonald are a part of a Fantasy Romance anthology where I the Strangely Beautiful series continues!

A Midwinter Fantasy

will include Strangely Beautiful #2.5; "A Christmas Carroll" starring Headmistress Rebecca Thompson and Vicar Michael Carroll (and including the rest of our beloved Guard as well.) I am so excited to share this - and for many fans, this is a long-awaited conclusion that I've hinted at all along, I'm so thrilled for the opportunity to give Rebecca and Michael some justly deserved time!

Miss Percy Parker and I around the interwebs:

- WOW Thanks, Fiendishly Bookish for this oh-so-delectable Miss Percy review!

- Thanks Lurv a la Mode for mentioning Miss Percy in your 2009 Blogiversary rundown!

- Thanks to The Book Whisperer for this interview! I do enjoy myself a nice interview.

- Thanks Book Nerding for this wonderful Miss Percy review!

- Thanks Annette at Annette's Daily Ramblings for this gorgeous Miss Percy review! Also check out Annette's beautiful children's books!

- Thanks Lou at The Bookpushers for your lovely words for Miss Percy!

New Media News!
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker can now be ordered in Audio CD format at Borders and in CD, download and MP3 via Audio Realms! It's so exciting to have an audio version!

Be sure to enter the contests and join the Facebook page, and I'll see you in Strangely Beautiful places!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (The Excerpts)


The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker
(Strangely Beautiful #2)


Leanna Renee Hieber


Excerpt One (of Four)
(From the Prologue):

Prologue - A most critical evening in The Year of Our Lord 1888

Beatrice Tipton knew a few things as she stood with her eyes closed at the edge of the undiscovered country: She knew that her life had been sacrificed to what she hoped would indeed prove to be a greater good. She knew her corset was laced too tight beneath the sensible layers of her dress—she should’ve thought to bring a traveling cloak, for the Whisper-world was colder than she’d expected. And she knew she was now something like what she’d once fought as the leader of The Guard. She would not be surprised when she opened her eyes and saw other ghosts; they had been something of a profession. What she hadn’t expected so soon was to hear the scream of her husband.

They had gone into the Whisper-World side by side, hand in hand, to face the next grim adventure- they couldn’t be separated so soon, not again… Her eyes shot open. She stood at one end of a long, grey corridor of stone. The ceiling was impenetrable darkness, its peak unseen—perhaps it had no rafters—with charcoal clouds heavy in periodic intervals, like trembling chandeliers of mist. These roiled with subtle, unsettling shapes, hissing with soft sighs and eternal regrets. Water lapped at the toe of her sturdy boot; an impossibly black, onyx liquid as unwelcoming and seemingly alive as the mist.

At the other end of the dripping corridor was Ibrahim, wearing the fine tunic in which he died. Once full of the rich honey-brown hues of his native Cairo, he was now fitted with the grey-scale palette of a ghost, yet even in death Beatrice was struck by his handsome, distinguished figure. She glanced down to find that the gathered folds of her linen dress and its cloth-covered buttons, once beige, were also grey. Her skin was solidly, sickly white. Death had dulled once-bright colours, replacing them with a wash of grim hues that only darkened as the corridor drove inward toward the bosom of the Whisper-world.

“Bea,” Ibrahim murmured. The water between their ghostly forms began to spread and deepen. Though it was perhaps the depth of a wide puddle, it felt like an ocean now separated them and an absurd fear gurgled in Beatrice’s ghostly veins, a fear reflected on Ibrahim’s face.

“Come back across, love,” Beatrice said brightly, swallowing sudden terror, gesturing to her side of the water. “Our Lady said the doors are to be knit here from the periphery and I’ll need your help. I cannot do without my Intuition—my second,” she said with a rallying smile. “Come take my hand, it’s only a bit of water.”

Ibrahim had no time to agree, or to join her. And it was no mere water. The Whisper-World was bent on separating, on isolating, and it would do its job. The water rose unnaturally and beat him back: horrific horse heads capping waves, fanged and red-eyed. Beatrice would close the distance, but the water whispered things. Shaking off the soul-chilling misery it wished to impart, she darted forward and flung out her hand. A trickle of blue flame, the only spot of colour in this grey purgatory, leapt forth but died quickly. She might once have been the leader of The Guard, but her power had long since gone to another. She cursed herself. The Guard had been warned they might be attacked entering the Whisper-world and made captive to Darkness; she should have been prepared. Powerless, they would likely be imprisoned someplace beyond imagining. Prophecy’s war was yet to be waged. Had the Goddess left them entirely helpless?

“Ibra—,” she started to cry out, steeling herself to wade through the nightmare, but a hand clamped over her mouth and she was pressed into the shadows and against a wall where insidious moisture seeped through her lace collar, past her pinned-up locks to kiss her neck. A strong man held her fast, and while Beatrice prided herself on being a spirited fighter, she struggled in vain.

Ibrahim did not again call her name as he was driven into darkening depths. As frightened as he seemed, perhaps he intended subtlety, keeping her safe by not alerting the agents of Darkness to her presence. The cresting waves of horse heads gnashed around him, nipping bits of his death-grey flesh. He ducked beneath his arms and blurted out a familiar stanza, in Arabic: “‘To us a different language has been given, and a place besides heaven and hell. Those whose hearts are free have a different soul, a pure jewel excavated from a different mine.’” Oft-used by him, her Guard’s Intuition, the ancient Sufi words ever confounded misery’s minions. The monstrous forms hesitated. “I’ll see you again, my love,” Ibrahim called. “I choose to trust in you, Our Lady and in Prophecy!” He turned and fled further into the labyrinth, leading the terrors on a desperate chase.

Beatrice sobbed against the palm of her unseen captor, her lover’s words ringing in her ears. How odd for Ibrahim to have found faith in this terrible transition. Or perhaps he said those words—once her Guard’s favourite verse—only for her, as a reminder to keep faith in the tasks to come.

“Let him go, Leader, we cannot help him here alone,” her captor said. His voice was gruff and heavily accented. Beatrice dimly recognized it as old Irish or Scots. Gaelic. “Help London’s Guard and they can help him. You know what to do.”

The man spun out into the dim light of the corridor, kept her pinned in his grasp but away from the wall. Immediately she could breathe more easily. Whisper-world moisture, it would seem, was a potent poison. Beatrice stared into the grey eyes of a rugged spirit once as handsome as a warrior god, fabric draped over his firm, bare chest, metal bands and leather thongs encircling his arms. His hair was a grey mane down his back. He took his hand from her mouth.

“Who are you and what do you know about The Guard?” Beatrice hissed. The man held up a pendant. It was a plain locket that sparked a familiar blue at the edges. His palm glowed with warm, pale light before fading, an echo of his power lingering in faint traces. Beatrice gritted her teeth. “So you were a Healer. One of us. What does that mean to me now? I gave up the Grand Work years ago—to the very London set you mention. Can’t you just leave me to aid my comrade?” She made to follow Ibrahim.

The man held her fast. “Hardly. My name is Aodhan, and Our Lady said to watch for you, Beatrice Tipton. Your work is far from done.”

Beatrice scowled. “Yes, the doors and all that. Don’t you think I knew she would be of age, don’t you think, even without powers, we sensed it was time, that our mortal coils failed and we stepped into this despicable place, sacrificed to the Work once more? Ibrahim can help—”

“He’ll be corralled with the others. For now, you must go and make sure of Prophecy. Otherwise none of us will ever be free. Take this. Our Lady saved it for you. It holds power you’ll need.”
The man clasped the plain locket around her neck. She didn’t need it opened to know its contents: some part of the ash of Phoenix, held aside from his burial chamber. Its hazy blue nimbus was indication enough. A sparkling, dancing tendril of fire snaked out from the pendant and kissed her throat. She opened her palm. An orb of cerulean flame appeared, steady, hers again to command. It was a comfort.

Beatrice furrowed her brow and looked again at Aodhan. “How is it you weren’t imprisoned like the others?”

“Impossible love opens doors and frees souls,” Aodhan murmured, and gestured behind him.
She turned and her heart seized. There was an open portal to England. Beatrice could have recognized her native country anywhere, the patchwork sounds of London’s cluttered brick lanes, the gritty smell of industry hanging thick in the grey air. She loved and hated it all at once, but it was colourful, scented and alive, and she’d had no idea how much she could yearn for it in death.

In view was a tall, modestly dressed woman in long wool skirts, a cloak and dark blonde hair tucked haphazardly beneath a plain bonnet, walking along cobblestones in Bloomsbury, turning down an unmarked street towards a Romanesque fortress of red-sandstone that Beatrice knew well: Athens Academy. The woman hesitated, her fair face troubled, before lifting her skirts and trotting up the stairs. “I’ve long been tied to Jane and her world,” Aodhan continued. “Tied more to her there than myself here.” Jane, the woman Beatrice recognized as the Healer of the modern Guard, heaved open the hefty doors of Athens and vanished within. “And so must you be tied to her world, and to Our Lady, until the vendetta ends.”

Beatrice held up a hand. She hated being reminded of duty. “I know I’ve no choice in this, so I’ll not fight you. I’ll fight for Ibrahim, and for the hope that Our Lady of Perpetual Trouble will have found her destined love.” Muttering, she took a step towards London. She turned back, her hard face softening. “But how is she? Our Lady? Is she with the good professor, well and happy, as they both should be?”

Aodhan’s chiseled face darkened. “You’ve not seen her?”

“Foundations in place, our Guard returned to Cairo, retired until in death our services would be once more called upon. Our Lady didn’t want us to interfere once the course was set; we were to leave them to it. Isn’t the girl at the Academy?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think the Guard has found her. All I see is a darkening sky, and if they fail”—he gestured behind him, toward the terrible labyrinth of darkness—“misery will bleed with no suture to stop it. The pins loosened, the veil thin…we’re about to split open. Not just London, but everywhere. And you know we can’t part the veil until we’re ready, when the doors belong to Light and—”

Beatrice sighed. “Indeed. It seems Our Lady left me all the responsibility. Keep an eye on Ibrahim, will you?” She choked, her emotions getting the better of her. “We fought too hard for too long to be separated again-”

Aodhan interjected with sincere empathy, “The Grand Work has never been easy for anyone.”
Beatrice nodded a curt goodbye and turned toward England.

(End of Excerpt One)

Excerpt Two: (From Chapter Three)

Chapter Three

Miss Persephone Parker lay deep in the honeyed thick of dreams, shifting between terrible vision and wonderful memory. The terrible vision began beautiful but ended in horror, she recalled.

She was young and powerful, standing in an endless field of perfumed flowers. The sky was what she imagined of Heaven. Eternal and wondrous, a beautiful raven-haired man held her tightly in his arms, and his great wings encircled their clinch, grazing her satin skin that ached for his touch. Phoenix was more than man or angel; he was a God, a being of sense and light, reason and truth. He was the perfect complement to her life-force of beauty, kindness, sensibility and love. Their mutual fellowship of light was blinding. Never had two beings been so suited. They loved one another not because it was destined but merely because it was right and mutually joyous. Their respective divine forces fit together as a puzzle, interlocked and stronger for it.

But jealousy set the God aflame—literally. Darkness set Phoenix on fire, and her lover died before her heavenly eyes. Screams shook the Earth. Tears enough to drown the world flooded the ground. His great form crumbled to dust, and the vendetta was born.

She turned back to the cave from whence came murder. Red eyes burned from the shadows. Vengeance flared in her heretofore peaceful breast, fueling a hallowed blue fire forged from the remnants of her one true love—and somehow the girl that was now Miss Parker knew that what she viewed here was a score she would unfortunately have to settle herself.

The scene shifted from nightmare to memory.
Here she recognized herself, her queer white skin, and remembered that friends called her Percy. A distinguished professor held her in his arms. Her body was corseted, swathed in satin, wreathed in heather. He wore a fine frock coat and waltzed with her by moonlight. His black hair lustrous in shafts of silver light, his dark eyes bright and compelling, this was her one true love. Acutely aware of the press of his hand and the curve of his lips, here was her destiny, the man who understood her, who unlocked her eerie visions and made everything strange about her beautiful.

The handsome, stoic face of Professor Alexi Rychman suddenly shifted, and in its place flashed red, angry eyes—fiery, terrible eyes—and she heard the all too familiar hissing of snakes. She bolted upright, launching herself toward consciousness before those eyes could seek her out.

Percy awoke in a large room she did not know.

Upright in a strange bed, thin nightgown askew upon her shoulders, a black cloak that had been wrapped around her body was cast back against the sheets. Tiny flecks of ash remained lodged in the cuffs of her meagre sleeves. She squinted, her pale, sensitive eyes straining against bright light. French doors covered in lace curtains led onto a terrace. Beyond, a few trees and chimneys were visible in the dense morning fog. The room was full of rich furnishings, fresh flowers and finery. Percy had never set foot in a room so regal. All that she recognized in the moment was her own colourless flesh. That, she was sure, was uniquely of her own time and peculiar existence in the year she knew to be 1888.

A tall clock near the bed chimed eight in echoing tones. Works of gilt-framed art on the walls seemed illuminated by their own paint, the distinct style of Miss Josephine Belledoux, a friend of her dear Prof— Her heart seized. Where was he? “Alexi!” Percy gasped, batting locks of ivory-white hair out of her eyes.

“Percy,” came a rich voice from behind her.

With a rustle, the thick velvet duvet was tossed aside. Percy turned to behold a formidable man who was older than she, singularly breathtaking, and…sharing her bed. Her veins flooded with incapacitating heat.

Alexi groggily rose to a seated position at her side. His striking figure, ever clad in various fabrics of black and the occasional grey, was in a state of uncommon disarray. A delectable sound escaped him as he reached for her hand and brought it to his lips, kissing the ring that had so recently betrothed her to him. It wasn’t a dream. True, they’d just survived a nightmare, but she’d emerged from the other side victorious—and his.

The line of his sternum, the graceful curve of his collarbone, was glimpsed through the open neck of his clothing. This previously hidden treasure heightened her feverish temperature. The hem of his signature scarlet cravat clung limply to his collar like a stream of stage blood. The purpling bruise around his neck reminded her of the night’s horrific events. She’d never seen him so disheveled, and she’d never allowed herself such an intense flood of emotion at the sight of him.

She choked, overcome. Mere months ago, she could never have imagined this strange fairy tale: to have gone from an awkward student, trembling in this man’s presence, to waking beside him as his intended. She found her awkwardness now layered with smoldering heat, making her feel all the more constrained and breathless; delicious torture.

“Do forgive the bold act of lying next to you, Percy,” her beloved murmured. “But after last night I was too exhausted to keep watch and, dare I say, too covetous to be out of reach.”

“If I’d awoken alone, Alexi, I’d have screamed for you something terrible.” She glanced about the room. “Where are we?”

“The grand estate of Lord Elijah Withersby.”

“Ah. Are the others here? Your…Guard?”


“Oh, goodness.” Percy felt her face flush a mottled pink. “They don’t suppose you and I have…?”

“No dear,” Alexi could not hold back a smirk. “They do not imagine your modesty in jeopardy, if that’s what concerns you.”

“Ah. I…well, I wasn’t sure if I ought to be embarrassed before your friends.” She gave a nervous laugh.

“No, but… As the pleasures of holding you close are such a recent revelation, might your fiancĂ© indulge his newfound heaven again?” What started as a polite request finished as a demand.

Percy bit her lip, hard. “Please,” she breathed, and collapsed against him clumsily. He wrapped his arms around her, breathing slowly in as she relished his nearness. She dared to press her pale lips to the bared portion of his breast.

He shuddered in response, murmuring, “My love. As much as I’d like to forget recent terrible events, I must say it is The Guard who are embarrassed for having so courted danger. I did insist that Prophecy meant you. Please believe me. But they wanted none of it; instead, that horrid woman—”

Percy eased back to look up at him, stilling his mouth with her fingertips. “It’s done, Alexi. While I barely survived the heartbreak, and wouldn’t if it were to ever happen again”—Alexi started to make protest, but Percy continued—“we must move forward, you and I, and your Guard. Together.” She grimaced and added, “You may apologize, however, for having been very cruel.”

“I’m so sorry,” he declared, cupping her white cheeks in his hands and staring unflinchingly into her eyes.

She was not inclined to doubt his sincerity. “Apology accepted,” she murmured. He drew her in, greedy. Her body thrilled everywhere, trembling deliciously in the throes of this foreign intimacy after so many years of thorough loneliness, an odd orphan hardly touched. Newfound heaven, indeed. But then her eyes clouded suddenly in the familiar onset of a vision: A large, black, open door. A long, stone corridor shimmered in the dim beyond. Beckoning. Demanding. The sound of a river… The vision blinked away. “Damn,” Percy muttered, rousing from it. More doors.

Alexi brought her eyes up to meet his. “You curse at my embrace?”

Percy shook her head, laughing nervously. “No, a vision. I assure you, I’ll never tire of your embrace.”

“Visions. I was hoping you’d be done with those. Unless it was a vision of us entwined…? For I assure you, that’s in your future,” he purred, dragging a finger down her cheek and tracing the hollow of her throat.

“Alas,” she sighed after a momentary shiver of anticipation. “It was a door.”

Alexi pursed his lips. “I was hoping you’d be done with those too.”

(End of Excerpt Two)

Excerpt Three (From Chapter Ten)

Headmistress Rebecca Thompson went to her office. It was an hour past when anyone should work, but there was paperwork to attend, for which she was grateful. There was a budget to be balanced, a staff to compensate, a board to please, sponsors to court, supplies to order. The work was solid, dependable; there was a science to running an institution, and Rebecca was master of it, grateful that some part of her life made sense. Her occupation was like running a household, only magnified exponentially. This partly filled the ache of not having an estate of her own, partly made up for a lack of a husband and progeny. Partly. Her students were her children and the Guard her family. The Grand Work was her husband. An ache remained.

She was deep into the ledgers when a sensation hit her so sharply it knocked her forward, her fountain pen scratching out and bleeding darkly over the corner of the lined book and onto the blotter. Her breath was swiftly cut from her, as if by a knife. Her gift was sounding a raucous alarm. Miss Parker—Mrs. Rychman, she amended bitterly—would be compromised. Endangered. Before there was even a chance for Beatrice’s predicted war, somehow, by someone, she would be cut to the quick. And it would be someone close to her.

Rebecca’s blood chilled. Never before had the pique of her gift felt so violent or so raw. She placed her fountain pen to the side, having held it clutched tightly in her fist, and she saw her hand was smeared black. She slid her elbows onto the desk, hoping that the action would still the sudden trembles coursing up and down her spine. But, no. Rebecca shook her head. “No, none of us. It cannot be. We wouldn’t.” None of them wished ill upon the girl, and so—

A cool and thorough moisture broke over her flesh. She stared up at the ceiling of her office—a beautifully crafted, wooden-paneled affair, with its centre scalloped fixture emitting soft gaslight and needing, to Rebecca’s chagrin, a bit of dusting—and she prayed. “I don’t know what it means,” she said, wrestling with her gift, hoping that it would clarify itself once it heard her soft plea. “If I don’t know who or what will harm her, how am I to prevent it?”

The gift would not see reason. Only one thing remained clear: the dread certainty that Percy would be severely endangered by someone she knew. Rebecca steepled her ink-stained fingertips and slid her forehead down onto their point. She heard a small choking sound come from her throat, something strangled and defiant. The words that broke free were half a plea, half a refusal:

“Not me. It shall not be me.”

(End of Excerpt Three)

Fourth and final Excerpt: (From Chapter Eleven)

The ladies of The Guard were engrossed in a pleasant discussion of what was to be done with the rear garden of the Rychman estate and other improvements when Rebecca shot from her perch upon the divan and strode towards the closed glass doors, a hand at her forehead. In the room far opposite, Alexi had done the same. He and Rebecca each flung wide the doors across the long hall at the precise instant. All eyes were on the two severe figures, locked and intent.

"Highgate,” Alexi and Rebecca chorused.

"Again?” Josephine pouted. “Why always in my finest dresses?”

Tips of obelisks and angels in the distance heralded their approach to Highgate cemetery, where the most fashionable dead of London were sure to inter. Alexi’s hand was pressed firmly over Percy’s as he stared ahead with fastidious concentration. The gate fast approaching, a dreadful sing-song tune accosted Percy’s ears and the glow of a whirling dervish of ghosts could be seen just beyond the spiked height of the gate. Swirling unrest awaited them.

“Lucy-Ducy wore a nice dress… Lucy-Ducy made a great mess…” Spectral children’s voices filled the air. Percy felt the pit of her own stomach and wondered if the head of a cavalry felt the same as she, riding forward towards a mass of enemy troops.

Alexi helped Percy down once they’d reached the formidable cemetery gate. Ahead of them, Michael held out his hand and the vast, locked gate swung open. Visiting hours had long since passed.

“You hear something, don’t you?” Alexi asked, seeing it on her face.

With the ring of dead children at the centre, there was an additional flank of unrest. Spirits lined the perimeter of Highgate Cemetery, waiting. Swaying. And speaking. For Percy, there was no bugle call to arms, there was only a torrent of whispers. "They're all speaking," she replied. "The children in some sickening rhyme and the others… Well the others think you have brought me as an offering. As one of them. But I don’t know what they want.”

"My attention. I’ve been away. These students of eternal haunting require a firm schoolmaster’s hand.”

Alexi gestured to the Guard and they darted in among the grand monuments, graceful angels, ornately carved mausoleums and fine crosses, a bright full moon enlivening the scene lit with the eerie light unique to a necropolis; the luminosity of eternal crossroads.

Alexi lifted a hand beneath the swirling children who were quite curious about Percy. Tendrils of blue flame snaked forth like ivy from his palm and he again became the great conductor of hallowed fire.

The moment the transparent phantoms along Highgate walls saw the flame they squealed and giggled or wailed like banshees. Percy clapped her hands over her ears and one by one they realized she was indeed living flesh. Before they could comment further, Alexi wrapped glowing cords of binding light around wrists, waists and necks. The fiery shackles remained as a circle formed around him.

The seven of them, Alexi insisting Percy join them in the circle, lifted their voices in the cantus that focused their power and whipped a wind around them, coalescing their ancient force.
Alexi cried out the ancient Guard tongue; a simple call to peace she’d heard before. The spectres understood, as if it were routine. Some drifted on, some simply faded, some sunk into the ground perhaps still too attached to their rotting mortal coil to abandon it fully. The hovering children watched the spirits around them fade and pouted, their fun cut short. They again took up their nursery rhyme. “Lucy-ducy wore a nice dress… Lucy-ducy made a great mess…”

The Guard’s power rose in the air, the blue fire crackling forth from their circular conduit, reaching upwards in tall flames that tickled the feet of the bobbing young spirits. They sobered and their small eyes were angry.

“Beware the wrath!” One little girl in a white nightgown said, wagging a warning finger at Alexi. “He’ll lock you away he will!” The children picked up the new taunt. “He’ll lock you all away, he’ll lock you all away!”

The girl in the nightgown floated close, getting louder. “She’s coming. She’s coming. She is coming!!”

Long ago Percy realized the calls of the lingering deceased often meant nothing at all. Or so she hoped.

“What?” Alexi urged Percy to relate what she heard.

“‘She is coming’, the girl screams.” Percy winced.

Rebecca turned to Alexi sharply. “Remember little Emily, the Luminous case months prior-”

“I don’t think this one means Prophecy this time,” Alexi retorted. “Someone else.”

Percy shuddered. The Guard turned again to the remaining ghosts.

Rebecca took the schoolmaster’s tone. “Children, I demand that you go to bed this instant!” she cried, Alexi following her admonishment with a renewed smack of blue fire, like the swat of a switch.

The spirits screwed up their faces and sunk again into the earth, beneath small stones with lambs and flowers, floating to a place Percy could not know. It saddened her.

Gazing at the lush expanse of the garden cemetery; its resplendence by the bright moon, the setting called to her, begging her solitary, eerie-kissed soul to stay awhile in that shadowy beauty, to languorously explore its subtle magic… Perhaps another day.

As they returned to their carriages, Rebecca addressed only Alexi, but made no effort to hide her words from Percy who he instinctively kept locked by his side. “Athens?” she asked, anxiety hanging on her tone.

Alexi raised an eyebrow. “Now?”

“I don’t mean to alarm you, Alexi, but what’s happening on the grounds is so… strange. Oughtn’t you come now? There are matters-”

“Rebecca dear, it’s near midnight. New apparitions can wait until dawn.”

“Indeed,” Rebecca said, her mouth thinning. She straightened her shoulders and marched off.

Percy watched her a moment. A few paces after her, there was Michael, attempting to be noticed. Rebecca deigned to allow him to ride back with her and they vanished into the cab. A thought occurred to her. “You would have gone, wouldn’t you? Before?”

“What do you mean?” Alexi replied.

“Before our marriage. You would have gone to Athens, absorbed in your work. The Headmistress seemed surprised, disappointed. I’m all right, if you should go, please don’t hold back on my account.”

“I’m taking you home,” he said. The look in his eyes made Percy’s body thrill, aware of the delights that awaited her. “And that’s final. We must dole out your supernatural excitement in pieces, I’ll not subject you to more, no matter what may lie in wait at Athens.”


Within the deep, grey, wet shadows of the Whisper-world, her reconstruction was nearly complete. The Groundskeeper hummed as he peered over the coffin lid into her resting place, searching for the places where she remained unfinished. There in his gardening shed of bones he had catalogued her requisite parts and mostly put them together. There were a few pieces missing, to his great dismay, and he wasn’t sure she’d come together exactly whole. Or what the effect would be.

But something still lived, and stirred, angry, in those ashes.

The shape of a female body lay in the coffin. Not much could be said for her condition, being that she was entirely ash; a headless body of grey soot that registered tiny, hitching breaths from a quivering sternum.

Her head was the last of the large jars to be uncorked. He lifted it gently from the jar’s wide lip, ashes inevitably flaking off for him to sweep up and return to her scalp. The fragile head made rattling, hissing sounds as he soothed it, its mask of an open mouth frozen in a moment of rage and defeat.

The body trembled as the Groundskeeper poised the head above the crumbling neck and laid it gently down. “That’s it, my Dussa-do, soon my pretty girl lives again…” Setting the head atop the neck he massaged the ash together. Some semblance of structure and tough skin latched hold and began to fuse, sinews rebuilding...

The body hitched and seized, ash flaking off as a hideous growl sounded in the darkness like a growing storm, finding it’s throat in the ashen body as it sat up, slamming it’s peeling hands on the side of the coffin. Its open mouth roared and the whole of the Whisper-world shuddered the echo:


(End of Excerpts)
The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker
(Strangely Beautiful #2) by Leanna Renee Hieber ©2010

Pre-Order The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (Strangely Beautiful #2) – Release date: April 27, 2010
Buy The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful #1)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (Official Book Trailer)

Pre-Order from Barnes & Noble
Pre-Order from Amazon

Read The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (Strangely Beautiful #2) Excerpts

Buy The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful #1)

In Which Miss Percy Makes Lists and Leanna partakes of worldly things (Updated)...

Not like grocery lists, but in which Miss Percy Parker's name is listed in the "Favourites of 2009" and such about the interwebs.

I've listed the many places in which my dear Miss Parker has appeared as a 2009 favourite (and I'm grateful for each and every one of them) thus far, and added to this list we now have:

1. The Discriminating Fangirl has listed Miss Percy in her favourites!

2. And Smexy Books lists Miss Percy in her favourites!

3. So does author and blogger Katie Lovett, as she lists Miss Percy as the best debut of 2009!

4. Amy of Romance Book Wyrm lists Miss Percy as a favourite of 2009, and The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker as a great anticipation in 2010!

5. Kate at Babbling about Books and More includes Miss Percy in the top 20 of the year - as well as an honourable mention for best debut! Thanks Kate!!

6. Anna's Book Blog has listed Miss Percy in her 2009 favourites by genre!

7. And Smokin' Hot Books has this most lovely, lovely review of the book - and then K.C. included it as a favourite of 2009!!

8. And Brooke Reviews lists Miss Percy as her #1 of 2009!!! Thanks Brooke!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday and are gearing up for the New Year! I certainly enjoyed time with family and friends, religious services and singing in choir. That's always a sacred treat.

In having-a-life-outside-of-writing news, I have seen a few movies and actually finished books I started reading. *gasp* Note: almost all of these have a Victorian bent, so you can see I'm justifying it all as research.

In the book world, I'd forgotten how much I love Elizabeth Peters and her Amelia Peabody series. These books are so outrageously fun. The bombastic Miss Peabody and the irascible Emerson never fail to delight me. Next up, another favourite author, Anne Perry's Execution Dock.

The movie The Young Victoria (happily seen in attendance with fellow authors / Victorian mavens Elizabeth and Hope) was dreamy. I loved it. I thought Emily Blunt was charming, disarming and engaging, the film as a whole was flawlessly cast, and the romance between her and Prince Albert (as it was a true romance) was delicate and passionate, something to cheer for. God Save the Queen indeed.

And continuing, of course, in my Victorianaphile vein, Sherlock Holmes was beyond lovely - it was clever and deeeeeeeelicious! YUM! Yum, I say. I saw it with the boyfriend and with my dear friend and Scandalous Women expert Elizabeth. My beloved is such a good sport, he even tolerated my rhaposizing about how delectable the film was (He's letting his hair grow, was a bit scruffy, so he looks a bit like Mr. Holmes these days and I can't say I mind. I should put him back in that frock coat I bought him. And then I'll swoon.)

And outside of the 19th Century (to indulge my prominent paranormal / sci-fi side) I watched my favourite X-Files episode, Bad Blood (the two-sides to the vampire story) and was reminded why that's one of my favourite shows ever. Next to Dr. Who. And Battlestar Galactica. And Star Trek TGN. And the geek alarm proudly sounds its siren call - blares, in fact.

In other pop-culture outside of the 1800's - the significant other and I finished the Bourne movies - wow they're good! I hope they make more. Now I need to read the Bourne books.

Stay tuned! In the new year I reveal The Darkly Luminous book trailer, excerpts, and launch a new contest!

Did I mention The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker is available for Pre-Order?!!

Happy New Year!