A local YA author is releasing her new book on 21st March, which will be free via Kindle Unlimited. Michelle Conner is a published poet and painter, as well as a writer of YA fantasy and she designs e-book covers for other authors. She is married with three children and a dog, and writes around her family life.
Her author Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/Authormichelleconnor.
Her website is: michelleconnorauthor.co.uk
Her cover design page is: www.facebook.com/michelle.ebookcoversonline/
The website for this is: http://ebookcovers.online/
She is also a personal friend; the first time we met, in December 2015, we talked for four hours almost constantly about books. I read some of the early drafts, so naturally I am biased.
‘The Bound: Hers to save Part One’ is the tale of a young girl pulled into intrigue when she runs away from home. Meeting a dragon, a prince and an assassin, she joins the fight to save their land from a coming terror.
Michelle has given me permission to share an extract from the book. So I present to you, chapter one of ‘The Bound’.
Sunlight streamed through the tree tops as Aveline walked through the forest, she shuddered. The cold autumn breeze blew under her worn, grey shawl and she pulled it tighter around her shoulders. I really should make myself a new one. The shawl barely covered her shoulders anymore. But she could not bear to replace it; her mother had made it for her the winter before she died and it was almost like being held in her embrace once more. Every time she put it on, she closed her eyes and imagined her mother’s eyes shining down at her.
Tall, thin, silver birch trees, with mighty oaks scattered among them, surrounded Aveline as she carried a hessian sack filled with firewood slung over her shoulder. Occasionally she bent down to collect some sweet chestnuts, with their gleaming brown shells, which she would roast when her family had little else to eat.
Though she stood in a place of beauty, where the fallen leaves shone as if they were forged of gold, her thoughts turned dark. Why does this world have to be such a cruel place? She did not know if it had always been that way, being only sixteen summers old. She had yet to venture far from her village; the furthest she had been was the surrounding forest where she collected the firewood and when she could find them, berries and other edible things. She did know, the small lonely world she occupied certainly had no kindness in it.
Most people in the village found the woods creepy and were wary of venturing too far, but to Aveline, they were peaceful. Perhaps old superstitions kept them away. She loved the sweet perfume of the wild flowers she often saw among the tall trees. They came in so many different colours, but the tiny purple flowers were, by far, her favourites.
The best part about the forest, though, was the sound of the small creatures and birds that called the place their home. Even the scratching of little rodents against the tree trunks or their scurrying around searching for food, added to the other sounds to make a tune that was like a peaceful song to her. She often saw deer running or grazing among the trees, but even though her family often had little to eat, only the Lord of their village was allowed to hunt.
The time she got to spend there was a balm to her soul, although she rarely stayed longer than needed to collect the wood for that day; she had learned her lesson the hard way. The threat of a firm whack across her face from her father for taking too much time ensured she did not dare enjoy the peace for long. Remembering the sting from his hand, she automatically put hers to her cheek, wincing. It was not the worst Aveline had ever experienced, but she still remembered the pain.
She was almost sure her father had not always been so cruel; she remembered a time when he would laugh and often smile. But she was very young then, and the memories had faded over the years; almost to the point she sometimes believed she made them up. Now all she got to see was his anger and disappointment. Am I still his daughter, or just another mouth to feed?
He always liked to remind her about the hours he put in working the corn fields, and how ungrateful she seemed to be; he never even considered the work she did each day. She had been doing the work of a mother since she was six, raising her younger brother, as best she could. He took after their father in many ways, but lately, especially in his attitude toward her.
As she drew nearer to the outskirts of her village and the trees began to thin out, letting in more light, she started to shake slightly. It always happened like this. It would take her a few minutes to remember she was strong and then the shaking would slowly stop.
A majestic white butterfly landed on a nearby branch, reminding Aveline of her dreams of
one day being free and leaving the darkness behind. She still had a spark of light she held onto tightly, and her father could not touch it. She hid it deep among her mother’s memories and kept them both safe.
Aveline’s home huddled almost in the center of their small village. Their meagre, cobblestone house was surrounded by other equally small dwellings. The farmers’ homes and fields, in which her father laboured daily lay on the outskirts of the village. A few of the farmers even had the luxury of owning some livestock, but her family could very rarely afford the luxury of fresh meat or cheese.
The walk gave her the time she needed to brace herself, but she always had to pass many other houses and the haughty stares of her neighbours before she came upon her own home.
As her home came into view she saw her father waiting in their doorway; he was large enough that he took up the whole space. He was looking at her with his dark brown eyes, which almost looked black with anger. She tried not to shy away from him as he moved to let her pass through the old, red door, which barely held on. She did not know if that was from the age and how ill-repaired their home had become or, from the many times her father had slammed it.
Aveline’s younger brother, Ethan, sat on the bare floor of their small living space. He was carving into a piece of oak, bringing to life a little rabbit from within the wood. He had a natural gift and she treasured the collection of small animals he had given her in the past. Hearing her approach, he turned and gave her an indignant look as her father had; with the same dark eyes.
She bent down to place the firewood in front of their small fireplace, “Where is supper? I work all day and come back to see my ungrateful daughter absent, with no food prepared,” her father bellowed.
The wood tumbled out of her clammy hands, scrambling to pick up the scattered twigs; she noticed the large muscles in her father’s arms flex and his eyebrows lower. Aveline felt even more perturbed; it was always a sign his displeasure was reaching its peak.
“It will not be long, Father,” she scurried off to heat up the vegetable soup she had prepared earlier. They had run out of the dried meat she usually used in the soup, and Aveline very much hoped it would not start yet another altercation.
Another day in this living hell. She did not know whether to miss her mother or envy her the peace she must have found. This will not always be my life