Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"White Heart of Justice" by Jill Archer

White Heart of Justice:
Noon Onyx Book 3
by Jill Archer

White Heart of Justice, the third book in the Noon Onyx series, has just been released. Also available: Dark Light of Day and Fiery Edge of Steel.

White Heart of Justice is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an interview with the author and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Since Lucifer claimed victory at Armageddon, demons, angels, and humans have coexisted in uneasy harmony. Those with waning magic are trained to maintain peace and order. But hostilities are never far from erupting…
After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race - an event that will not only earn her the respect of her peers but also, if she wins, the right to control her future.
However, Noon’s task is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse - and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

I can’t be with you anymore. That’s what she’d said. Six words that had become sixty then six hundred then six thousand ... sixty thousand ... six million ... reverberating in his head, bouncing around inside his brain, driving him absolutely mad. There were no other words. No other memories. Only that last one of her. Standing at the edge of the oozy stew of the destroyed keep’s moat, flanked by two Angels, one preternaturally beautiful, the other full of purpose. The same purpose he’d had until those six words stripped him of it.
Flying out, he’d barely cleared the wreckage of the keep. His heart beat against the walls of his massive chest, and his monstrous wings beat against the infinite, empty sky, but the beats were slow and grew slower still. Slower. Until finally ...
He made it across the river and then dropped like a ten-ton stone, crashing into the brush, breaking tree limbs and a wing. He lay there amongst the blackening scrub refusing to shift back into human form.
Man’s thoughts were unwelcome.
In time, the rogares came. Water wraiths. He killed them all. And then sickened by the smell of blood and meat he couldn’t—wouldn’t—consume, he left his nesting place. By then, the wing had healed, but unnaturally, so that flying straight was impossible. For days, he traveled in circles, never getting far. It wasn’t just the wing. The yearning to return to her was nearly unbearable. The emptiness inside of him an abyss.
Was she still in the Shallows? If he could just ...
But then he remembered the Angels. And the look on her face when she’d said the six words. And the feelings in her signature. She’d need more than mere weeks for them to abate. She might need months. Hopefully, not years. Years meant nothing to him, but they did to her. And then the reminder that her time was more precious than his drove his yearning to a new level of ferocity. Ruthlessly, he tamped it down. He realized then that it might be best to return to man’s thoughts. After all, she was a woman.
And he wanted her back.

Chapter 1
“Glashia calls Noon the ballista.” Waldron Seknecus’ low voice rumbled through the Gridiron, a deep, cavernous underground space used by the upper years at St. Lucifer’s for sparring. “Because of how she fights now. Watch.”
He was speaking to three other spectators: my father, Karanos Onyx, executive of the Demon Council and the man who would ultimately employ all of the magic users who trained here at St. Luck’s; Friedrich Vanderlin, an Archangel who was the dean of Guardians over at the Joshua School, the Angel academy we shared a campus with; and a woman who looked unsettlingly familiar to me, though I couldn’t remember when we’d met or who she was. I cleared my mind and concentrated on my opponent, Ludovicus Mischmetal, who preferred the moniker “Vicious” for short. He was a second year Maegester-in-Training at Euryale University. We were competing against one another in the New Babylon MIT rank matches, which St. Luck’s was hosting this year.
All second-year MITs were required to compete. The top-ranked MITs from each school would then be eligible to compete in the Laurel Crown Race. The object of the race was to bring back an assigned target. Targets were either rogare demons or priceless artifacts that needed to be recovered. Participation in the Laurel Crown Race was voluntary, but the MIT who returned to New Babylon with his (or in my case, her) target before any of the others, won the coveted Laurel Crown. Winning the Laurel Crown often set a future Maegester up for life because winners could choose where they wanted to spend their fourth-semester residency. And ofttimes, those residencies turned into permanent positions. Everyone else would receive offers, but it would be the Council that decided which of those residency positions they accepted.
Last semester, we’d been given our first field assignment. It was an assignment that had been full of rogare demon attacks and other lethal situations. That assignment had lasted a mere three months and I’d barely survived it. My residency would last for twice as long, so I was well aware of how important the residency venue would be. Winning the right to choose where I spent next semester, not to mention who I would be working for, would go far in preserving not just my happiness, but also my life. The Maegester who was judging the match, a middle-aged man with thinning, ginger-colored hair and a near permanent frown, called out for us to begin.
I’d watched Vicious spar with other MITs. He was smart. His infliction of pain would be very calculated, very precise. There was nothing personal about his desire to beat me. He just wanted to win the match so that he could retain his current Primoris ranking at Euryale and compete for the Laurel Crown. Of course, I was similarly motivated.
Vicious gave me a curt bow, his long, black, razor-cut bangs briefly falling forward before he shook them back and used his waning magic to fire up a weapon, a flaming broadsword. It hissed and spit with fury in the damp air of the Gridiron as Vicious raised it toward me in an opening invitation to spar.
As a sparring partner, Vicious looked fairly intimidating. His front teeth were shiny, silver, and sharply pointed (likely, his real ones had been knocked out in fights) and he was much larger than me. He wore the usual black leather training pants and vest, but he’d elected to go shirtless underneath the vest. I guessed it was an intentional show of muscle, literally. He flexed his forearms and grinned at me, his message clear: I might be a woman playing a man’s game, but he wasn’t going to spare me any blows.
That suited me fine. Sparing me blows wouldn’t win me the match.

Praise for the Noon Onyx series
"A original and clever urban fantasy… Excitement and action leap from the pages as Archer’s skill with description pulls readers fully into her magical world." ~ Publishers Weekly
"An astounding adventure tale. Archer’s unique world, where Lucifer’s army triumphed at Armageddon, is filled with adherence to strict laws that keep an uneasy peace between races… A really fresh and fascinating series!" ~ RT Book Reviews
"Spectacular." ~ Faith Hunter, USA Today bestselling author
"[A] coming of age/New Adult set in a dark world where demons have won… A lively and engaging fantasy which twisted some elements in a refreshing way." ~ Book Pushers
“Archer has created a dark world that will grab your attention from the very start.” ~ The Reading Café

Interview with the Author
Hi Jill, thanks for joining me today to discuss the Noon Onyx series and your new book, White Heart of Justice.
Thanks for having me here, Lynda.
What sparked the idea for the Noon Onyx series?
Noon was very loosely inspired by the Egyptologist Evelyn “Evie” Carnahan from the movie The Mummy. I was having lunch with a bunch of writers during the time when I was seeking inspiration for a new project. I was still practicing law and I sat next to a librarian. We each shared with the other that we felt our day jobs were fairly pedestrian and not necessarily something that could be tapped into to create a dynamic, otherworldly character. I then mentioned Evie as an example of a wonderful librarian character, who found love while battling the undead, despite her bookish ways. So that conversation got me thinking… If Evie could do it, maybe another similarly bookish lawyer character could do it too.
What’s the recommended reading age for the series?
The recommended reading age is 18 and above. There are some mild curse words, detailed romantic scenes, a dark premise, and deep worldbuilding. That said, the books are written in a youthful tone that would appeal to upper YA readers and adults who read YA. The books will also appeal to fantasy readers who are looking for a new series set in a unique world.
What was the hardest part to write?
The ending. I felt enormous pressure to wrap up the series in an emotionally satisfying way for those readers who have been following Noon’s story since the beginning. And yet… it’s hard to say goodbye to the character and her world. It’s such an interesting, fascinating place. And Noon is such a fun, complicated character with a strong voice. She’s come a long way since Dark Light of Day, but in some ways, I feel like her story is just beginning.
How do you hope White Heart of Justice affects its readers?
The biggest feeling I hope to provoke in readers is a sense of potential: that all things are possible.
What is your writing routine?
I have two young kids so I tend to write, blog, catch up on industry news, answer emails, research, etc. during the first part of the day and then again late at night. If I’m on a deadline, I pretty much lock myself in my office. And when I’m on vacation, I try to completely disconnect.
How did you get your books published?
Before I finished the first book in the series, Dark Light of Day, I took a submission class. Through that class, I connected with my current agent, who encouraged me to submit the book to her once the manuscript was complete. I queried a handful of other agents as well. My queries generated immediate interest but I ultimately signed with the agent who first encouraged me to submit.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Read in the genre you want to write in – and outside of it. Read nonfiction. Sign up for workshops, take classes, and get involved with a writer’s group. Keep writing! Don’t be afraid to submit your work, but make sure it’s truly ready to submit (or as ready as you can make it at the time). Explore self-publishing as an option, but make sure you’re prepared to publish high quality work. Don’t give up or get frustrated. Learn from constructive criticism, mistakes, and rejection. Celebrate small accomplishments and enjoy the process as much as the product.
Great advice, Jill. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Of course, I love to read! And watch movies. I also love day tripping and outdoor adventuring. I hike, bike, and go boating with my family. My husband’s passion is recreational aviation so I spend some of my weekends flying around the Chesapeake Bay area and up and down the Atlantic coast.
What does your family think of your writing?
Everyone has been incredibly supportive. My husband’s not a reader, but he’s probably told more people about my books than I have. My dad’s amazingly proud. He is a reader (albeit fantasy and romance are not his usual genres). He and I have spent many hours together visiting bookstores and discussing characters, authors, and books. And if I had a street team, my mother-in-law would gladly head it up. She carries a stack of my business cards and bookmarks and has shamelessly pitched the series to strangers sitting next to her on the bus to the beach.
Fantastic. Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I spent the school year with my mom in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and summers and winter break with my dad and step-mom in a small town west of New Orleans.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Loved it. As a kid, I was always reading. Once I got old enough to walk to the library, life was grand.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Not until my mid-thirties during my first maternity leave.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Not specifically, although my memories of the Louisiana swamps, the Mississippi River, and lush, earthly, decadent neighborhoods like the Garden District and the French Quarter have influenced some of my settings.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do! Readers reach out via the usual ways: Facebook, Twitter, and email. Readers who contact me usually love Noon, the world of Halja, or both. I’m always flattered when the character and/or her world has entertained, moved, or interested a reader enough for them to write me about it.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I have a short story called “Dream, Interrupted” coming out in the Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance in the fall. The story features another singularly unique heroine, Corelei Neverest. Set in Moonlight, Georgia or thereabouts, the story is full of all the things I adore: dark, creepy hallways; bright, sunlit gardens; mysterious happenings; stories-within-stories; supernatural threats; and swoon-worthy kisses.
Sounds great! Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Jill. Best of luck with your future projects.
Thanks for interviewing me, Lynda. Best wishes to everyone here at Books Direct!

About the Author
Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels about a post-grad magic user and her off-campus adventures. Dark Light of Day and Fiery Edge of Steel, the first two books in the series are available now. The third book, White Heart of Justice, will be released May 2014. Jill lives in Maryland with her husband and two children. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win some great prizes.

Dark Light of Day Prize Pack (US only):
Signed print copy of Dark Light of Day
Handmade bookmark with charm
Natural Face Paint Kit
Orange Silk Flower Hair Clip
Atomic Fireball Candies
Signed copy of galley pages of scene that inspired prize pack

Fiery Edge of Steel Prize Pack (US only):
Signed print copy of Fiery Edge of Steel
Handmade bookmark with charm
“The Queen of Flowers” T-shirt Tank Top
Set of three Silver Glass Mercury Votive Holders
Petite Pear Candies
Signed copy of galley pages of scene that inspired prize pack

White Heart of Justice Prize Pack (US only):
Signed print copy of White Heart of Justice
Handmade bookmark with charm
White Crystal Headband
Vintage Star Pin
White Chocolate Meltaways
Signed copy of galley pages of scene that inspired prize pack

Bonus Fun Promo Tweets and Twitter Contest: Anyone who tweets one of these will be entered to win ANY fantasy book of their choice (up to the value of $10) from The Book Depository (as long as The Book Depository ships to their address). Ends 3 June.
Finally! I’m looking forward to seeing Noon embrace her fiery magic. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE
Ari Carmine is smokin’ hot. I wanna see if Noon can forgive him for that nasty surprise at the end of B2. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE
I heard a rumor that Rafe Sinclair makes a wish and I wanna know if it’s granted. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE
Nocturo. Tall dark handsome. Heard his scalpel’s put to good use. Is he gonna threaten Brunus w it again? @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE
I love the characters, but I’m really just in it for the monsters and magic. Bring on the ice demons! @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE
Armageddon is over. The demons won. But it’s not as dark as all that. Parts of it are romantic and sweet. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE