Friday, February 7, 2014

"Dissension" - Available Very Soon!

[Cross-posted at Coffee-Fueled Erotica]

Howdy folks. Willsin here.

I asked Katie if it would be okay with her if I made the announcement about her book being released on February 11th. She looked at me funny (okay, so I asked her over the interwebz, but I could sense her looking at me funny), but she agreed when I explained why.

Essentially, this is my take on the whole shebang. All writers seem to think of their books as their "children". Having been fairly heavily involved in the behind-the-scenes nitty-gritty for this book, this one feels like my niece, at least.

"Dissension", marks a stylistic departure for both of us. New ground, of sorts. For me as a cover artist, it allowed me to explore a grittier side of graphic design. Only once or twice had I worked so "dirty", and never had I worked on a paranormal dystopian fantasy cover before!

But the bigger departure was Katie's. With a hugely successful series already behind her (the Immortalis series...if you haven't read it yet, folks, get on that train!), it would have been the easier path for her to stick with those characters, that situation, that world, and keep on weaving those tales. Hey, perhaps more books in the series will end up happening.

Katie, though, chose to listen to her muse. A new world, and new characters, unfolded itself - one still involving vampires, but that's really the only factor that Dissension has in common with Immortalis. This world, the world of Iron Gate, is uncompromising and—here's that word again—gritty as hell.

So I say "hats off" to my buddy and sometimes-co-author. Any writer will tell you of the fear they feel when deviating from that which they're truly known for. No, it's not life-threatening, or even truly dangerous...but it's a real fear, nonetheless. Not to mention that a whole lot of the work Katie put in was while she was either heavily pregnant, or dealing with a brand new baby and a suddenly-jealous toddler!

But that's enough waffle from me. I'm keeping you from the juicy bits!

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Dissension – Chronicles of the Uprising: Book 1

The great cataclysm wiped almost all life from the face of planet Earth, but tiny pockets of survivors crawled from the ashes, with only one thought: survival, at any cost. 
But not all survivors were human. 
In the dark, militant society that has risen in the aftermath, vampires, once thought to be mythical, have been assimilated and enslaved. Used for blood sport their lives are allowed to continue only for the entertainment of the masses. Reviled as savages, they are destined to serve out their immortal lives in the arena, as gladiators. 
And there is no greater gladiator than Mira: undefeated, uncompromising...and seemingly unbreakable. When an escape attempt leads Mira into the path of Lucian Stavros, the city’s Regent, her destiny is changed forever. 
Lucian, raised in a culture which both reviles and celebrates the savagery and inhumanity of vampires, finds Mira as intriguing as she is brash. An impulsive decision - to become Mira’s patron – changes more than just Lucian’s perception about vampire kind.  The course of his life is altered in ways he could never have predicted – a life that is suddenly as expendable as hers. 
Can Mira prove to Lucian that all is not as it seems? Can Lucian escape centuries of lies, bloodshed, and propaganda to see the truth? Or will the supreme power of the human overlords destroy them both?

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* * * *

Dissension – Excerpt
©Katie Salidas 2014
Rising Sign Books LLC

The roar of the crowd, all twenty-five-thousand people in attendance, rose to a thundering crescendo when Mira delivered a bone-crunching blow to her opponent’s ribs. Standing only five feet tall, she might not have appeared a formidable warrior, but the thin, spiky-haired waif of a vampire could hold her weight and more when put to the test. Amplified by the superb acoustics, the sound of bones cracking echoed through the Superdome arena. The defeated, a red-headed male vampire staggered, punch-drunk, and then dropped to his knees. Dirt and sweat coated his face but could not mask the fear in his icy blue eyes. His was a look Mira had seen so many times before. Her opponent’s immortal life had finally come to an end, and he was ready to take the final deadly blow.
Above her, Mira knew the fifty-foot mega screen showed her hapless victim in brilliant resolution, ensuring that all who were attending, and those watching from the comfort of their homes, could see these last gruesome moments in crystal clear high-definition. 
Mira gazed down at her opponent’s blood-soaked face. Though he was her enemy for the moment, she did not relish having to end him. No one should be forced into the arena and told to kill or be killed. It wasn’t right. But it was what was demanded of her, and given the choice between her life and someone else’s… well, there really was no choice. No matter the cost, Mira was a survivor.
She glanced up to the large private box overlooking the arena. A well-dressed man in deep-purple robes sat, enjoying what appeared to be a dinner of filet mignon and roast potatoes. Even here, in the dusty arena below, Mira’s enhanced senses picked up the tantalizing scent of very rare, bloody steak. She could hardly believe that a human could not only watch the murder about to take place, but also sit and eat the dead flesh of a once-living being while doing it. From the smell of it, the poor beast was practically still bleeding on his plate. Who was truly the more savage creature? 
Over the crowd’s roar, an announcer introduced the well-dressed man, Lucian Stavros, Regent of the Iron Gate. Lucian gently and purposefully slowly set down his knife and fork. He took another moment to wipe his face clean and then smiled, acknowledging the roaring crowd. 
Chants of “Death, death, death,” rang out from the throng as a single unified demand. 
The Regent listened for a moment, making a show of putting his hands to his ears to hear screaming hoard’s request, and then held a hand out, with his thumb pointed to the side.
As if the next moment were the most important, the anticipating mass hushed. Eerie silence filled the arena as everyone watched for the Regent to make his decision.
From her vantage point below, Mira saw the steely look of determination cross the Regent’s face. If she didn’t know better, she might have thought he took this decision seriously; but then, he was human, and they never cared much if her kind lived or died. Lucian Stavros took a cursory glance down at Mira. Their eyes met. It was only a brief moment, but in that short time, Mira saw him waver. 
Could it be true, she wondered, or was it just a trick of the light? No human actually cared about the lives of vampires. The moment faded, and the fleeting thought left. 
Mira saw the Regent’s decision. He turned his thumb down. Death!  
The crowd went wild. 
The last hope for her defeated opponent had vanished; Mira had to finish him. “Sorry,” she whispered to the half-dead vampire on his knees before her. Though her fangs tingled at the prospect of tasting his final dying moments—her reward, if you could call it that, for living through another battle— she did not enjoy what she was about to do. Like her, he was a slave, forced into servitude to the humans as they saw fit. He had not asked for this, and neither had she. But, despite what either of them wanted, it was the will of the crowd, the humans, that had to be served.
Aiming to sever the carotid artery with her fangs, Mira dove at her opponent’s neck. His death would be quick. At least she could afford him that luxury.

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