Go Into The Wind with Shira Anthony and her Mermen of Ea Book Tour (2 Contests to Enter)

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IntoWindBlog Tour Giveaway Info:
Contest starts 5/5 (release day) and ends at midnight on 5/31.
Prizes include the following
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  • Grand Prize: Handmade Merman Tail Fluke Pendant
  • 1st Prize: Mermen of Ea Goodie Basket (includes autographed copy of “Stealing the Wind” paperback, t-shirt, and lots of other fun stuff)
  • 2nd Prize: $10.00 Dreamspinner Press Gift Certificate
  • 3rd Prize: Paperback copy of “Stealing the Wind” (Mermen of Ea #1) – or for non-US winners, a $10 Dreamspinner Press Gift Certificate

Here’s the Rafflecopter link

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Shira Anthony stopping by today to talk about her inspiration for the Mermen of Ea novels and latest book, Into The Wind, the 2nd story in her Merman of Ea series.  

Shira Anthony has also brought a copy of the first story, Stealing the Wind, to give away to one person who leaves a comment at the end of this post.  Two contests, two ways to enter!  Now enjoy a look into Shira Anthony’s inspiration for this wonderful series.

The Mermen of Ea Series: Ocean Inspiration by Shira Anthony

About two years ago, I decided to write a story about pirates and sailing ships. Captor/captive, a little sexy dubious consent. Nothing too complicated. A single novel set in the age of sail. Not a single merman in sight. That single book became a story about shapeshifting mermen than spans three novels….
I’m going to backtrack a bit here and start off by saying that I’ve been a fantasy, sci fi, and sword & sorcery reader since I was old enough to read. I grew up on the original Star Trek, read every Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov book I could get my hands on (I lived in France for a few years, and they weren’t easy to find in English!), and fell in love with the Darkover universe created by Marion Zimmer Bradley (probably my most powerful writing influence). As an adult, I read the Harry Potter books to my kids and loved them as much as my children did.

My first gay romance was an erotic fairy tale called The Dream of a Thousand Nights. But in spite of my love of fantasy, the first novel I wrote was a contemporary: Blue Notes. And I learned with Blue Notes that what I write best is what I know. In the case of the Blue Notes Series, that’s music and musicians. Makes sense, right?

Somewhere between Blue Notes books and a few joint writing projects, the idea of a story set on the water hit me squarely between the eyes. I needed a break from angsty musicians, and I started playing around with a pirate novel. That’s how Taren Laxley was born. An indentured servant (a slave, really), Taren dreams of sailing on the ocean. It calls to him. So began my adventure of writing the Mermen of Ea Series. Only there were no mermen when I wrote the first few chapters, only pirates and sailing ships.

Then I spent a weekend sailing aboard our 36’ catamaran sail boat at the North Carolina coast and saw a pod of dolphins swimming nearby. I watched them play in the water and jump into the air. They love to chase boats, and I love to watch them. A few months later, my husband and I spent a week on the Caribbean island of Grenada getting our open water scuba certification. And as we were swimming around, heavy metal tanks on our backs, fins on our feet, and regulators in our mouths, I imagined what it would be like to swim and breathe underwater without all the gear. Suddenly, Taren wasn’t just a human boy who longed to sail the high seas—he was a merman.

When I wrote Stealing the Wind, the first book in the series, my scuba experiences were fresh in my mind. The feel of the water on my skin. The tiny popping noises of tiny shrimp in my ears. The colors of the coral reefs. The overwhelming beauty of the ocean surface. The feel of the wind on my face and the sun on my back. With each scene aboard the Sea Witch and later the Phantom, I tried to recreate those sensations. I knew what Taren longed for because I longed for it myself.

Land's Zen sail boat SAThere’s nothing quite like the sensation of floating on the water. Nothing like the feeling of peaceful calm when we’re on our boat. In fact, when we bought our most recent boat, I suggested we name her the Land’s Zen, because she is just that for me—a place where I can relax and forget about the million and one things I should be doing. A place where I can just be.Land's Zen 1

Into the Wind, the second book in the Mermen of Ea Series, evokes the same deep connection to the wind and the water as the first book. In it, Taren grows by leaps and bounds, fearful of what the future may bring, but knowing that he can’t fight his destiny. Raised as a human and not knowing his true nature until he meets his soul mate, Ian, Taren sees things differently from his Ea brethren. His powerful love of the ocean drives him and will chart the course his people must follow in order for their race to survive.

I hope that when you read the Mermen of Ea books you’ll feel some of my own Zen come through. Even if you’ve never tried scuba or snorkeling, I think you can imagine what it might be like to swim through the vastness of the ocean or even live under it. The appeal of mermen for me is, at its core, the appeal of the water and the peace I find on (and in) it. I think that’s why the merfolk myths still capture our collective imagination long after the age of sail has passed and we jet around the globe in airplanes that cross the oceans in hours instead of weeks.

Stealing the Wind cover

IntoWind

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2 Contest Info:

  1. Would you like to win an ebook copy of Stealing the Wind, the first book in the Mermen of Ea Series? I’m giving one away to a lucky commenter on this blog post. Melanie will choose a winner from all the comments on 5/14. To enter to win, leave a comment below and an email address where you can be reached.
  2. I’m also running a special Into the Wind Blog Tour Giveaway with some great prizes including a gorgeous unisex pendant and a Mermen of Ea goodie basket. Here’s the link to the Rafflecopter giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cf0ba93/ The blog tour giveaway ends on May 31st at midnight!Shira

Follow Shira Anthony at:
Email  shiraanthony@hotmail.com
Shira’s Website   Shira’s Facebook
T
witter @WriterShira
Goodreads Author Page

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Follow Shira Anthony on each stop of her tour for more insight into the series and this story:
Blog Tour Participants:

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Book Buy Links:

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IntoWindBlurb: Since learning of his merman shifter heritage, Taren has begun building a life with Ian Dunaidh among the mainland Ea. But memories of his past life still haunt him, and as the threat of war with the hostile island merfolk looms ever closer, Taren fears he will lose Ian the same way he lost his beloved centuries before. Together they sail to the Gateway Islands in search of the fabled rune stone—a weapon of great power the Ea believe will protect them—and Odhrán, the pirate rumored to possess it.

After humans attack the Phantom, Taren finds himself washed up on an island, faced with a mysterious boy named Brynn who promises to lead him to Odhrán. But Taren isn’t sure if he can trust Brynn, and Odhrán is rumored to enslave Ea to protect his stronghold. Taren will have to put his life on the line to find his way back to Ian and attempt to recover the stone. Even if he does find it, his troubles are far from over: he and Ian are being stalked by an enemy who wants them dead at all costs.

There are 3 wonderful excerpts that follow, all are SFW:
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Short Slightly Sexy Excerpt:

They swam out from land as they held each other, tails beating the water in tandem as they spiraled in a dizzying dance. More than anything, Taren found the Ea mating ritual a beautiful thing. Ian’s Ea body was also beautiful. In this form, Ian’s chest was broad and the muscles of his belly and arms more powerful. As a human, Ian was strong. As an Ea, he possessed strength and surprising grace few others did. Taren loved to watch Ian swim, watch the sinews of his body ripple as he moved his tail, watch his hair twist in the current. More thrilling, perhaps, was the knowledge that Ian was his, that Ian desired him above all others, that Taren held Ian’s heart.

Ian released Taren as they glided over the sand at the bottom. Large schools of silver fish followed the contours of their bodies, calling to mind the shimmer of moon across the waves. Here, many feet below the surface, the pressure of the water created a warm cocoon around Taren and drove the warmth in his chest to his extremities, making his fingers more sensitive.

Taren flicked his tail to propel him around so that he and Ian swam toward each other, arms extended, then moved upward as they laced their fingers together and floated perpendicular to the sea floor. They kissed and their tongues entwined. Ian tasted of the ocean and of the promise of Taren’s new life. Their former incarnations, Treande and Owyn, had been equals in everything. Partners, friends, lovers. Taren both relished and feared the power of his connection to Ian and the unexpected turn of fate that had brought them together, as well as the revelations of their past.

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Medium Length Slightly Sexy Excerpt:

TAREN CHASED Ian through the surf, the water flying about him as his bare feet slapped the sand. The warm autumn sun on his shoulders and the salty tang of the water made him smile.

“You’re too slow!” Ian called from halfway across the beach.

Taren laughed and dove into a wave, swam in his human form until he came upon Ian, grabbed him around the ankles, then knocked him into the water. Ian spluttered and transformed, planting his powerful tail. He paused for only an instant, then pivoted and swam against a wave that crested and broke near shore.

Taren looked around, trying to sense Ian. During the time they’d spent together at Callaecia, the powerful sensations he shared with Ian had only grown in their intensity. Even though he couldn’t see him, Taren felt Ian’s heart race as he swam, felt his pleasure, heard his lungs fill with water, and knew he was nearby. He didn’t see Ian until he surfaced in a spray of foam, took Taren’s hands, and dragged him down, forcing him to transform as well.

You cheated! Taren wriggled away from Ian and took off for one of the underwater caves near the cliffs. He flicked his tail harder when he sensed the movement of water behind him. Ian was the stronger swimmer, although in the months Taren had lived amongst the Ea at Callaecia, he’d learned to use his Ea body to its greatest advantage.

Ian caught up with Taren a moment later, swimming beneath Taren before encircling his waist with his powerful arms, capturing him in his embrace.
I yield! Taren laughed and allowed Ian to pull him closer. Besides, you’ve long ago captured my heart. He nipped at Ian’s neck, eliciting a low rumble he could feel in his belly more than hear with his ears. Taren still marveled that in his Ea form he could hear so much under the water. He’d asked Ian once why the Ea didn’t choose to spend their lives in this form, so taken was he with the joys of his Ea body and the beauty of the sea. Ian had just shrugged and told him that the Ea viewed their transformation as a gift from the goddess that set them apart from humans, but that they believed they were meant to live on land.

They swam out from land as they held each other, tails beating the water in tandem as they spiraled in a dizzying dance. More than anything, Taren found the Ea mating ritual a beautiful thing. Ian’s Ea body was also beautiful. In this form, Ian’s chest was broad and the muscles of his belly and arms more powerful. As a human, Ian was strong. As an Ea, he possessed strength and surprising grace few others did. Taren loved to watch Ian swim, watch the sinews of his body ripple as he moved his tail, watch his hair twist in the current. More thrilling, perhaps, was the knowledge that Ian was his, that Ian desired him above all others, that Taren held Ian’s heart.

Ian released Taren as they glided over the sand at the bottom. Large schools of silver fish followed the contours of their bodies, calling to mind the shimmer of moon across the waves. Here, many feet below the surface, the pressure of the water created a warm cocoon around Taren and drove the warmth in his chest to his extremities, making his fingers more sensitive.

Taren flicked his tail to propel him around so that he and Ian swam toward each other, arms extended, then moved upward as they laced their fingers together and floated perpendicular to the sea floor. They kissed and their tongues entwined. Ian tasted of the ocean and of the promise of Taren’s new life. Their former incarnations, Treande and Owyn, had been equals in everything. Partners, friends, lovers. Taren both relished and feared the power of his connection to Ian and the unexpected turn of fate that had brought them together, as well as the revelations of their past.

With a grin, Taren spun around so that he faced Ian’s tail. He rotated his arm so that the sharp tines that ran from his fingers to his wrist grazed the slick surface. He’d learned how to retract the barbs so they would not injure; he’d also learned that if used properly, the gentle scrape of the barbs was a sensual treat Ian could not resist.

“Goddess!” Ian shouted in his mind. “Is it your wish to render me completely helpless with lust?”

Taren repressed a chuckle as he continued to stroke Ian’s body. He might not be able to best Ian with his physical prowess, but he knew he held a stronger power over Ian. He relished the thought that he possessed Ian’s heart and soul, for it made his own uncontrollable hunger to be near Ian bearable.

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Long Excerpt (battle at sea from Chapter 1):
DEAFENING CANNON fire rang out from the port side of the ship. Ian braced himself against the stair railing to keep from falling backward as the ship leaned deep and heeled hard to starboard. He heaved himself upward and crested the stairwell to the deck as the ship pitched again, forcing him to grab one of the barrels lashed to the deck to remain upright. Cannon shot landed off the bow, sending water over the forecastle and cascading down the already sodden deck. The acrid smell of gunpowder stung his nostrils and burned his eyes, and the familiar scent caused his adrenaline to skyrocket and set his mind racing.

“Renda! What the hell is happening?”

“She’s fired on us with no warning shot, Captain!” Renda, the ship’s quartermaster, barely looked at him as he struggled to steer the Phantom out of the line of fire.

“What colors does she fly?” Ian shouted as he ran toward the helm and lifted a spyglass to one eye.

“None, Captain! Her crew’s human! Navy ship!” Renda shouted above the cannon fire.

Ian felt it too. There were no Ea aboard the attacking ship. An entirely human crew? Only the Derryth navy sailed brigantines. But if he and the crew of the Phantom were fair game for the king and his navy, why didn’t they fly Derryth’s colors? They’d appeared out of nowhere. Had the mist been so thick that the men on watch had missed her?

Renda ceded the helm before Ian could think much more about it. For now, he needed to focus on their attackers and on gaining the upper hand. It had been more than twenty years since Ian had taken his ship into battle, but his crew was well seasoned. He prayed silently to his goddess that the winds would favor them.

“Derryth?” he asked Renda as he steered to avoid another blast from the enemy’s cannons. “Aligned with the Council? Or is this just a coincidence?” He’d expected to face the island Ea in battle eventually, but never had he expected them to use humans to chase them down.

Renda scowled. “No coincidence. Magic, seeing as the fog cleared just in time for them to attack. They had help tracking us down. A mage, no doubt.”

Humans did not possess magic. When had the island Ea recruited the humans to their cause? The thought made Ian’s blood boil. Humans had nearly wiped out their kind hundreds of years before, looking for the fabled rune stone, a weapon more powerful than the Derryth Kingdom’s largest cannons. Had someone told the humans they were heading to the Gateway Islands to find the reclusive pirate, Odhrán, and recover the very weapon that had nearly been the cause of their destruction?

No. He mustn’t think about that now. He needed his wits about him to keep his ship safe. Then he could think more about the implications. He focused once again on the ship and her crew. The feel of the wood beneath his hands and the stiff wind against his cheek always warmed Ian’s soul, even in the midst of battle. The bright, crisp scent of the salt spray awakened his senses and mind. He’d been born for this command, although he’d paid a stiff price for it. His father before him had been a sailor, although he’d long given up the seafaring life by the time Ian had learned to sail in the Derryth navy. Sailing was in his bones and his blood. The only thing he loved more than sailing on the water was swimming in it.

Renda shouted more commands to the men manning the ropes, then turned back to Ian and scowled. “Their ship is fast. She’s shooting the sun and she has the weather beam.”

Stealing our wind! Ian cursed beneath his breath. With the enemy positioned between them and the wind, the Phantom could do little to maneuver. If he hadn’t been forced to stay within the Council’s reach, tied to the island, he’d have long before found the best clockmaker in Derryth and purchased a sextant. He was tired of others sighting guns upon the Phantom so easily. Their ancient astrolabe might have sufficed twenty years ago, during the civil war that cleaved his people in two, but it was useless against a better-equipped navy. As things stood, Ian could only guess at the angle of the enemy’s guns and what direction he might be able to steer the Phantom to avoid them.

He glanced skyward and was momentarily blinded by the sun’s brilliant reflection in the lookout’s spyglass. He moved his gaze to the mainsail and the seagulls that rode thermals alongside it. It had been a calm day until the enemy appeared. Now the wind raced the heavens. The telltales on the sails fluttered frantically with each powerful gust of the wind, making it difficult for Ian to determine the wind’s direction. He fought the helm in an effort to maintain their course as the sea swelled and the ship bucked. Worse yet, the Phantom was poorly situated in the wind on a close reach that placed the ship at a crucial disadvantage.

The enemy’s guns belched again and cannonballs spun past, spitting fiery tar and narrowly missing the main mast. The flames that licked from the metal nearly set the mainsail afire.

“They’re using pitch!” Renda shouted as the pungent smell of burning pine reached Ian’s nostrils.

Ian heard his father’s words echo in his mind. “There is nothing as deadly as fire at sea.” If one of those cannon blasts hit the Phantom, she’d go up in flames.

Heeling starboard as the Phantom was, her portside guns aimed high above the waterline. Each cannon shot fired was nothing more than wasted ammunition. They were outmanned, outgunned, and out-positioned in the wind. Damn. Ian considered his options quickly, mulling their position relative to the enemy and eyeing the wind in the sails. He had no choice but to bring the ship about and take aim with the starboard cannons. Yet if he turned and lost the wind, they’d end up in irons and stalled in the water.

“Are the starboard gun ports open?” Ian shouted.

Another blast from the enemy ship’s cannons landed within a yard of the Phantom. The ship shook with the impact, and several crewmembers scrambled to better tie down some of the supplies on deck.

“Aye, Captain! Ports open, guns loaded!”

A quick glance around the deck told Ian that his beloved Taren was not there. He reached out first with his innate senses and was relieved to feel Taren’s strong heartbeat as if it beat within his own chest. Their connection had continued to grow stronger over the past few months. Among Ea, a bond like theirs—what their people called soulbound—was rare. Where most Ea could only sense that one of their brethren was near, Ian and Taren could sense each other’s presence in particular. Sometimes Taren’s fear became Ian’s, and although Taren had not spoken of it, Ian guessed his own anger and frustration sometimes became Taren’s.

Ian looked up, searching the mastheads and rigging with his eyes, and found Taren atop the main mast. He worked furiously, tying Turk’s heads in the rigging as fast as he could and adjusting the sails to compensate for the heeling Phantom.

“Trim the sails! Man the starboard cannons and tell the gunners to fire when I come about!” Ian knew it would do little good. If they headed farther into the wind, they’d lose speed and stall. “Tell the gunners to fire when they can!”

“Aye, sir!” Renda barked commands and the boatswains flew into action with whistles and hand signals. When Ian saw that Taren had acknowledged his orders, he brought the Phantom hard about. She bucked the squall and swell as Ian fought the wheel to turn her, and she listed her worst yet, her masts lying but thirty degrees off the water.

Damn.

At midturn, a volley of cannon fire caught the Phantom’s bow, causing her to shudder angrily as wood splintered and flew, mortally wounding one of the crew in the chest. Bright red blood splashed the deck to mingle with salt water and run past the smoldering pitch.

Crian! Renda ran to help the injured sailor. Perhaps he could help the man long enough that he might transform and heal his wounds. But Renda’s slight shake of his head and icy expression told Ian there was nothing to be done. Crian was dead.

Ian’s gut clenched when he thought of Crian’s family. Why was he so surprised that he’d lost a man? Had he really believed this voyage would be anything but risky? He’d naively hoped their mission would be a simple one: find Odhrán, retrieve the rune stone, and return it to Vurin, the leader of Ea’s mainland colony, so he might better protect their people.

He searched the rigging for Taren again and couldn’t find him. He’d felt Taren’s steady presence only moments ago, but he’d been too preoccupied with the battle to keep track of him. At least he could still feel the steady beat of Taren’s heart. He finally spotted Taren aft, now atop the mizzenmast, clinging to guy ropes and swinging wildly with each turn of the helm.

Taren had left their cabin at dawn to work on the sails with the intention of increasing the ship’s speed. He loved to toil on the rigging, and Ian knew how his spirits soared with the feel of the wind on his face. Taren’s acrobatics never ceased to amaze Ian, but they nonetheless left him cold with fear. Taren was nothing short of a long-tailed monkey in the rigging.

“Taren! Taren!”

Ian’s shouts went unheeded—Taren couldn’t hear him over the chaos of the battle. Ian only hoped Taren had guessed what his next maneuver might be, and had good purchase on the ropes to keep him from falling.

The navy ship tacked in tandem with the Phantom and now aimed its sights at her stern. Ian couldn’t risk a blow to the most vulnerable part of the ship and had no choice but to adjust course again to avoid a hit. He spun the wheel the hardest yet to starboard.

Hold on, Taren!

The ship protested the quick maneuver, her teak wood groaning and creaking under the strain as she stalled in irons. In his quick decision to turn hard, he’d been reckless. They were headed directly into the wind now and were dead in the water.

Ian looked up and found Taren as he kicked out like lightning and baffled the aft sail to back the ship. An eerie silence descended, and they waited to see if the Phantom would catch her wind speed. Not a whisper of wind touched the sail. Taren reached for the rigging and swung out hard, kicking angrily at the sail once again. The sail billowed once, twice, and Ian’s breath stuttered, his warning shout lodged in his throat. He knew precisely what the aft sail would do. With a whoosh and an earsplitting snap, she filled and the Phantom regained her air once again, leaping to top speed.

Ian watched in admiration as Taren swung down on the ropes just in time to avoid the snap of the sail. He landed gracefully on the deck a dozen feet away.

“Ian!” Taren shouted as he ran over to the wheel. Another shot from their attackers landed close to the Phantom, causing Taren to grab a hold of one of the nearby rails.

“Excellent work,” Ian said as he adjusted the ship’s heading. “Now if we can only make some headway—”

“Why don’t you send a few men down?” Taren panted hard, clearly winded. Ian sensed his excitement and his fear. No. Sensing wasn’t quite right. Ian felt Taren’s emotions as if they were his own.

“Down?”

“Send them down with axes. Crowbars. Something. Anything. Have them transform and attack from below.”

Ian frowned. “It won’t work.”

“Why not?” Taren demanded. “If we could—”

Taren’s words were cut short by a volley that landed even closer to the ship. Ian fought to maintain his course. “It doesn’t work that way,” he shouted over the din of the waves crashing over the bow. “It’s far more—”

But Taren was already halfway toward the bow before Ian could finish. “No! Taren! You don’t understand! You can’t just—” Ian had no one to
blame but himself for Taren’s lack of knowledge of Ea battle tactics. He glanced around, hoping to find someone to take the wheel. He needed to stop Taren before he did something dangerous, but before he could call out to Barra, the Phantom’s guns fired and missed. The navy ship returned fire, and a loud crack sounded from overhead as the shot hit the mizzenmast and the aft sail caught fire. The mast shattered, sending beam and splinter out at light speed. The sound of the mast breaking into smithereens was the last thing Ian remembered before his world grayed, then faded to black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shira Anthony

28 thoughts on “Go Into The Wind with Shira Anthony and her Mermen of Ea Book Tour (2 Contests to Enter)

  1. OH i so want to win this I started reading it when my first kindle broke and as It was a borrowed book I couldn’t finish it before I revceived my replacement.

    rojoroaors(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Like

  2. This series sounds so amazing! These are going on my wishlist. I’m going to the beach this summer for vacation, and I’m looking forward to the peace of being on the water.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haven’t read this series yet, only the Blue Notes series which I really like.

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

    Like

  4. I love hearing the lightning-striking tales of inspiration like that!

    vitajex(at)Aol(dot)com

    Like

  5. Just finished the first one last night – my merman cherry has been popped and I loved it! Great series 🙂

    Like

  6. Hi, can’t wait to read this book. Really loved the interview you did with Tali Spencer about the world building for the Mermen of Ea series. 🙂

    Like

  7. Hi, can’t wait to read this book. Really loved the interview with Tali Spencer on the world building for the Mermen of Ea series. 🙂

    Like

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