Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway: Serpent on a Cross (Book #1) by Wendy C. Garfinkle

Published: September 2nd, 2014
Cover Artist: Loretta Matson


Dennah Dubrovnika is a formidable hunter and talented healer. However, she cannot control her own powers, which have suddenly reawakened in the aftermath of her mother’s violent capture by a powerful warlord who destroyed their village in his wake. As she races to free her mother, Dennah is accompanied by Jeth, the man she loves. But she’s increasingly, inexorably drawn to the mysterious Skallon who is allied with her greatest enemy.

Will Dennah be able to gain a measure of control over her magic or will she lose everything and everyone she loves to its raging inferno?

Serpent on a Cross is Book One in a Jewish fantasy adventure series set in Medieval Eastern Europe.

The poetry (lyricism) of the Medieval Fantasy

I’m not sure what it is about combining the medieval world and fantasy that attracts other writers and readers, but for me, I think the draw is a combination of the romanticism we attach to that time period, as well as the idea that men were men, and women were women, chivalry was in bloom, and the belief in magic was a daily part of life.

Of course, I don’t like EVERYTHING about medieval times. For one, women had little to no rights, unless they were fortunate enough to have an indulgent father, husband or other male head of the family. Or unless you happened to be Jewish or Muslim. Those women enjoyed more freedom – greater education and often a choice of husband – than their Christian counterparts.

As far as magic goes, the belief, or superstition, of witchcraft wasn’t at all a romantic notion. In most cases, it was something to be feared. Even simple herbalism and midwifery were subject to suspicious scrutiny. Especially during times of plague or other endemic illness not easily curable or even contained by said herb-women, or if children were born with birthmarks, which at that time, were more often than not seen as marks of the devil, or if children died within the womb or at birth. Then midwives were under suspicion of witchcraft.

But when it comes to WRITING medieval fantasy, an author can take the norms of the medieval period and change them to suit the story, whether that means keeping true to the norms, or taking literary license with them. Like I did with Serpent on a Cross. While Jewish men who were merchants and scholars traveled a lot, their womenfolk rarely did. In a case such as Dennah’s, where someone needed to rescue her mother, it probably would have been men to take on the task. But Dennah is not just any young woman, and so with nary a thought to her own safety, forges headlong into a barely-planned rescue mission, that very quickly becomes fraught with challenges and danger.


Stomach churning, a sour taste in her mouth, Dennah hovered above the massacre from her nest in the ash tree she’d climbed at the edge of the forest.

Guilt twisted a knot in her belly as she remembered Mamen’s order to flee, but she couldn’t leave; she might be needed. So she’d climbed the tallest leafiest tree she could quickly find, its branches extending almost to the roof of their cottage. She fastened the leather bracer on her left forearm, finger guards on her drawing hand, in case she was forced to shoot the ash bow. After stringing it, she set it and the bag of arrows in the cradle of two limbs a little above her and out of easy reach so she wouldn’t be tempted to fire down upon the invaders.

From her perch she saw the soldiers enter the shtetl, thundering over the ramparts as if they were fagots; they crushed the golden fields of barley, and wheat, forcing the defenders to give way or be trampled beneath hammering hooves. Seeing the guardsmen attack the horses to unseat the soldiers, her heart raced. Get them! What right have they to attack our home?! Anger boiled just under her skin. Her gaze sharpened and the branch grew warm beneath the grip of her fingers. Though there was no breeze, the limbs of her tree swayed gently.

Almost without thought, as if her hands had a will of their own, she pulled bow and quiver within reach and nocked an arrow. With precise aim, she inhaled, drawing the cord back, hearing the soft familiar creak as it stretched. She released on the exhale. Gracefully, the arrow sped toward its target, a soldier who’d edged up behind Marek and raised his sword. The shaft caught him in the throat, sunk deep and broke through the skin at the back of his neck. He fell with a thud, blood mixing with fertile ground in a muddy pool beneath him. Relieved of its burden, the soldier’s horse veered away from the melee.

Marek, eyes narrowing, seemed to find her hidden in the ash. He nodded slightly and turned to face another foe. A surge of pleasure warmed her at his wordless approval. Then there was no more time for thought; only action. Again and again her arrows flew true; but she was careful to watch for enemy soldiers looking in her direction. Her stomach dropped when she saw first Yuri, then Selwyn, and finally Yakkov surrounded and disarmed. A quick inventory of her quiver yielded only four arrows. Not enough to free the guardsmen. I’m sorry.

About the author:
Wendy C. Garfinkle was born and raised in South Florida. She moved to Northwest Texas in her early 20s, but returned to South Florida eight years later. She holds five degrees, including MA and MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She’s a poet, reading addict, and collector of interesting clothing tags, which she recycles into bookmarks.

She has served as a copy editor and reader for Hippocampus Magazine, an online nonfiction lit journal, and as a reader for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship. Wendy is a crime analyst for a local law enforcement agency, and lives with her teenage son.


Tamara Bass said...

What an awesome looking cover....very intriguing!

Anonymous said...

Between the cover and excerpt, I definitely want to read this! ^_^

collenga said...

I love reading about Europe in Midieval times! Love the cover and excerpt, sounds like a great book!

Unknown said...

Sounds like a really unique story, and I LOVE the cover! Thanks for the giveaway :D

Unknown said...

Looks Like a great book!!

Unknown said...

I am so happy to have come across this post. I had not heard about this book before now. Cannot wait to read this one!

karin said...

the cover looks amazing !! I really like it :)
rafflecopter name Karin Shaim

Unknown said...

looks like a great book, the excerpt is really good, thank you for the giveaway as well.

Unknown said...

Wow! That cover is absolutely awesome! Sounds like an awesome read!

Betul E. said...

Sounds really good! Thanks for the giveaway

Unknown said...

Love the cover!! Thanks for the chance!

Unknown said...

Love your book excerpt and cover, thank you also for the giveaway