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"Readers will be easily swept along in this fast-paced thriller, unsure whether Ryan’s narration will reveal that she is supernaturally possessed or insane." - Booklist Review for MIRAGE


"...Clark's novel is a powerful, heart-wrenching adventure."- Kirkus Review for Scintillate

​"Passion and power are the driving forces in this series that continues to deliver." - Kirkus Review for Deviate


​"Clark creates adventures for her characters that will keep teens hooked and finally gives some answers to the questions that have been arising since the first book. VERDICT YA fans of urban fantasy and paranormal such as Twilight by Stephenie Meyer or Maggie Stiefvater's "The Raven Cycle"  will enjoy this trilogy." - School Library Journal​​

   

Author


Today Chris Ledbetter and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for THE SKY THRONE which releases April 18, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!

A quick note from the author:
Since my father put the first book of mythology in my hand, I've loved myths and legends. I always favored Greek mythology. I actually think I was Greek in a past life. Beginning in 2011, I conceived a story to sit down and have Zeus tell me what his childhood was like, especially his teenage years. All I did was listen to what he told me and put it down on paper.

On to the reveal! 


Title: THE SKY THRONE
Author: Chris Ledbetter
Pub. Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 292
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Duality dwells at every turn, and an adolescent Zeus will learn that all too well when Hyperion attacks his family on Crete.

When the dust settles, his mother is unconscious and his best friend left for dead.

Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavy-hearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia.

Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus's quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of The Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back.


On his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.


Excerpt


CHAPTER ONE

Since the moment I started at Eastern Crete Lower Academy two years ago, I’d felt like such an outcast. The guys, mostly Potamoi and sons of Headmasters Okeanos and Tethys, never regarded me as an equal. I didn’t even warrant bullying. It’s like I never even existed. If only I’d known how visible I’d become in the coming days. I always got picked last for swim team and crew in physical fitness class. I actually was the third best wrestler overall in school and peerless in javelin throwing due to superior training from my guardians, the Kouretes. When Eastern Crete competed in the Mediterranean Invitational Games against academies from Phoenicia, Egypt, and Libya, I placed first in the javelin event, beating Gurzil from Libya who was the reigning champion from years past. I even won my weight class, the lightest class there was, in wrestling by beating Melqart from Phoenicia. But none of that mattered.

I was still invisible.

I loved science class. The lessons where we studied energy and matter were like fresh spring water to a parched throat. But the rest of my classes bored me to tears. We had language arts, music, and math in the mornings. Physical fitness, agriculture, and science took up our afternoons. I wouldn’t say I was intellectually ahead of them, because, hey, that’d be conceited. But my mother prepared me well, with all the goat tending and such. And she always said when I came home from classes each night that they just didn’t know how to teach me on my level.

So, I was forced to make my own fun. No one would probably notice anyway.

After the big Invitational Games win, I was posted up at the school’s entry columns with my best friend, Anytos, watching the Oceanids as they arrived for classes one morning. Sisters to the Potamoi, the Oceanids were the sea nymph daughters of our headmasters. Okeanos and Tethys, aside from being our school administrators, were also Elder Deities of the vast ocean, which is why we at Eastern Crete dominated all water sports. Swimming. Cliff diving. Crew. We bested all comers. But not me. I dove and swam exactly the same … like an anvil.

The Oceanids descended upon the campus from their barracks like a wave crashing against the shore. Telesto, the most beautiful sea nymph by several stadia, smiled at me for the first time since I’d been going to the school. Okay, it wasn’t a full smile. The corner of her lip twitched upward as she flipped her wavy, aquamarine hair over her shoulder and glanced past me. But that counts, right?

I backhanded Anytos in the chest. “You saw that. That’s my opening. If I don’t make my move, she’ll be gone to the upper school next year.”

“Pssht, she is beyond the Mediterranean beautiful. Completely unattainable.”

“Did you see that come hither stare she flashed me?”

“Looked more like indigestion.”

“You are as wrong as you are false. Cover my back. I’m moving in.”

I crossed the courtyard in a flash and caught Telesto’s arm as she reached the weather-beaten front door to the main school hall.

“Telesto, you look as if the sun radiates from you.”

She paused and leaned back against the doorframe. “You’re just saying that because I wore my yellow tunic today.”

“You shine with such brilliance; you should wear yellow every day.”

She folded a strand or two of stunning teal hair behind her ear and twirled the ends. “But what happens when I wear my purple tunic?”

“A tunic hasn’t been invented that could dampen your beauty.”

She giggled and turned away from me for a moment. “Zeus, is it?”

I nodded, surprised she even knew my name.

“You’re the one who pulled that massive prank on my mother, Headmaster Tethys, aren’t you?”

Oh, that’s how she knew me. Not invisible after all. I bowed. “I am him. He is me. One and the same.”

“Crazy. She was so mad.” She shook her head, stifling a smile.

“As far as I can tell, language arts must be your favorite subject. Your tongue is spectacularly sharp-witted.”

“Not really. But I am feeling a little inspired right now.”

Several strands of her hair fell to cover half her face. “Are you going to the bonfire at the beach tomorrow night?”

“I wasn’t invite—”

Several of Telesto’s broad-shouldered, dark-haired brothers bumped into me from behind. “Those are uncharted waters, boy. Careful now,” One of them called over his shoulder. Those were the first words they’d ever spoken to me. Telesto rolled her eyes. “Pay them no mind. They’re harmless. You were saying?”

“Those bonfires are an Oceanids and Potamoi thing? It’s kind of a secret club that you have to be born into, right? Being brothers and sisters, children of Headmasters Okeanos and Tethys… young water deities in training… masters of rivers and streams…”

“I guess. But you should come out any way. It’s all night, under the stars. Eating, drinking, stargazing… What’s better than that?”

Gazing into her mesmerizing, iridescent eyes, my mouth fired before I could stop it. “Kissing you under the stars. That’s better.”

“Sprint much? You’re a fast mover.”

“I just go after what I want.”

“Well … ” A pink tint rose on her high cheek bones. “We shall see. But first you have to show up.” Her lips twitched gain. “I have to go to class. See you tomorrow?” She disappeared inside the school hall.

I turned to Tos with a pterodactyl-eating grin on my face. He shook his head and smiled.

The boring part of my daily routine was set to commence. School. Classes. Ugh. I wished the school day was already over so I could just go to games practice. As Tos and I walked to first period, I was struck by the overwhelming urge to liven my day up just a bit.

“Tos, I have a good one. You with me?”

“Oh heavens. Is it what I think it is?”

“I feel the need … the need to prank!”

Tos shook his head. “My pranking days are over.”

“Come on. Just one more. Promise it’s the last one.”

He glared at me.

I explained the entire idea to him. “It’ll be after language arts, all right? It’s going to be good.”

After class, Tos and I waited until all other students had left. He took his position at the door to make sure no one came in. I approached Professor Ceto at the front of the room. Tablets and scrolls decorated the top of her desk.

“Professor, do you have strong hands?”

Her intelligent eyes narrowed. “Sure, I do. Why?”

“I bet you a homework pass that you can’t balance a goblet on the back of your hand.”

Her forehead wrinkled.

“Place your hand on the desk, palm down,” I said.

She complied.

I filled her water goblet and placed it on the back of her hand.

She smiled. “See. No problem at all.”

I picked up the goblet. “Now place your other hand on top of this one.”

She sighed. “Why? Is that supposed to be harder? So, if I fail, you get a homework pass, yes? If I complete the task, what do I get?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“Go ahead, then,” she said, placing her left hand atop her right.

“Get on with it.”

Barely able to contain my giddiness, I balanced the full water goblet on the top of her two hands.

“See,” she said with triumph in her voice. “I did it. Where’s my surprise?”

“All right then, I’ll see you next week. Have a good weekend.” I walked quickly to the door.

“What? Wait, I can’t move my hands without spilling water all over my scrolls.”

Tos opened the door and we both rounded the corner in a flash. We were halfway to period two music when I heard an unholy roar across campus.

“ZEUS!”

Tos and I laughed our behinds off and slapped hands as we passed a solitary blueish post in the center of the courtyard. No one knew much about it or who designed it. But its presence was striking.

Upon reaching music class, Tos and I took our positions near the kithara and lyre. Our teacher, Professor Leucosia and several more students entered and we prepared for instruction. Leucosia had the most beautiful singing voice. Simply spellbinding. Sometimes, I felt light-headed when she’d sing along with our accompaniment. Shortly after arriving in class, Headmasters Okeanos and Tethys shadowed the doorway to our room. The expression on Tethys’ face could have killed a wild boar at forty paces.

“Zeus, Anytos, we need you to step outside right now.” Tethys said. Her eyes mirrored the Aegean during a storm.

I looked at Tos. My heart rate quickened to a pace I’d only felt after running sprints. Slowly, I rose to my feet. This couldn’t have been good.

We walked over to Okeanos. I had to crane my neck just to see the Headmaster’s eyes. His biceps were bigger than my head, despite silvery blue hair atop his head and an aged, wrinkly face.

His somber and deliberate voice rumbled. “You are hereby expelled from Eastern Crete Lower Academy. This infraction and expulsion will go on your master record. You may apply again next term.”

“Why? What did I do to deserve this?”

Professor Tethys stepped forward to grab my arm. “Your little pranks have gotten you in deeper water than you can swim in, young man. You obviously need some time to think about how you can be a better contributor to the educational system.”

“No. You can’t expel me. Please!” I clasped my hands in front of my face. “My mother will kill me!”

“Not our concern.” Okeanos folded his gigantic arms. His voice rumbled again. “You must learn to be a better student. A better citizen.”

“But they were just pranks,” I pleaded.

“Yes. And this is the seventh such prank we’ve endured at your hands. And since Anytos helped you, he shall accompany you home.”

Tethys pointed east toward Mount Ida, the highest peak on Crete.

“You have until the sun chariot reaches its zenith to leave campus.”

She gazed upward. “By the looks of things, your time’s nearly at an end.”




Chris Ledbetter grew up in Durham, NC before moving to Charlottesville, VA in 11th grade. After high school, he attended Hampton University where he promptly “walked-on” to the best drum line in the conference without any prior percussion experience. He carried the bass drum for four years, something his back is not very happy about now.

After a change of heart and major, he enrolled in Old Dominion University and earned his degree in Business Administration. He’s worked in various managerial and marketing capacities throughout his life. He taught high school for six years in Culpeper, VA, and also coached football.

He has walked the streets of Los Angeles and New York City, waded in the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and climbed Diamond Head crater on Hawaii and rang in the New Year in Tokyo, Japan. But he dreams of one day visiting Greece and Italy.




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#OneVoice Against Bullying

by Tracy Clark on 10/15/14


I have a rather unpopular stance about bullying. I’m definitely an unconventional mom when it comes to this. Prepare yourselves… this is anything but P.C. My stance is that if you are being bullied, go crazy ass, apeshit, nutcase, ninja geek warrior on them. The first time you feel the knee-buckling fear of being truly bullied—the kind of bullied where you fear for your physical safety—go out swinging.

Here are two reasons why I feel absolutely justified in giving this advice.

Reason #1: BEARS. Bears are big. Bears are wild, ferocious smelly creatures (much like most bullies.) Bears can absolutely kick human ass. Begs the question, why will the bears do an about-face when most dinky wee humans are around? Because their survival depends on it. They instinctively know that easy prey equals live another day. A simple paw wound can take out a bear for a whole hunting season. Bullies are like that bear. They want the easy prey. They want the easy victim.

I tell you—hinder their hunting. Let them know that YOU are not a Twinkie on a stick. You are not the easy prey. YOU are the species to be avoided. Apeshit ninja geek warriors might get their asses handed to them like a slice of ass cake. But not without first inflicting two kinds of injuries to the bear. One, to their ego. The second (hopefully) to their big mouth.

The other reason I feel justified in giving this advice is that I’ve been bullied. Hardcore bullied. I’ve been sick and walking to the local store with a high fever, just hours away from my first job interview at a clothing store at the mall, and have had a van pull up, a pile of crazy bitches from my neighborhood file out, and proceed to hand me my ass along with handfuls of my hair.

I’ve had a “she-male” (my name for her because she used to beat up the guys in high-school) hold me up to my locker by my throat and threaten to beat me down every day after school until I habitually carried a roll of nickels and wore big rings at all times for a semester. I was ready. I was waiting. I was sick to my stomach at school every day for six months.

In tenth grade, at the homecoming dance, I was jumped by a gang. I lived in L.A. in the San Fernando Valley, to be exact. When I say “gang” I do not say it as a figure of speech. When I say jumped, I mean eight girls, kicking, swinging, pulling, scratching, all that the same time.

Here’s the funny thing. To look at me, you would never guess my past. If you read my previous Dear Teen Me post  you were probably surprised by what I revealed. I know now that I was bullied for lots of reasons; most of which had NOTHING to do with me. That’s the thing about bullying. It’s more about the weaknesses of the bully. Once you know their secret, their power vaporizes. Secret=They are frightened little human beings.

I’d like to tell you that bullying stops. That you grow up, they grow up, and everyone always plays nice in the sandbox of life. Not true. Bullies, if not checked, bully as adults. They become “anonymous” bullies making inane comments online. They bully their employees. They bully their spouses. They bully their kids.

Bullies need to be checked.

They need to be stood up to or you have the seeds of monsters like Hitler who ran amok with their unchecked psychopathy and terrorized a generation. Little fucking bully. What’s worse than Hitler? The little fucking scared people who didn’t fight back in his early bullying career and put him in his place before he bullied entire countries.

CHECK THE BULLIES.

I told you this was not P.C. I warned you at the door. And so now I’m going to give my most profane, crazy advice ever: IF YOU KNOW YOU’RE A BULLY, CHECK YOURSELF. Stop thinking that power over others equals personal power. You crave respect. Guess what, you don’t’ have respect. You’ve only succeeded in roping fear by the neck. Fear from others is not respect. You know this, too. You know that if you let up and stop creating fear, you will lose your underlings. Poor little bully.

You have to say a lot of loving things to yourself to break a bully’s curses. That leads me to the most insidious kind of bullying on this planet—self-bullying. No one, not even the girls that jumped me, or the people who wanted to keep me down, have ever said worse things to me than I’ve said to myself. You want to hold your head up? Then don’t let the scared little bully inside you have a bullhorn to your brain anymore. Don’t feed the bear. Check that damn bully.

LOVE YOU. Whether you’re a bully, or the one being bullied, it all begins with how you feel about yourself. Work on that. Erode the sharp edges with love and compassion toward yourself and toward others.

I pledge to take a stand against bullying each and every day. #OneVoice



Fogging Up: A Mari and Dun Moment

by Tracy Clark on 10/29/14


In SCINTILLATE, book 1 of The Light Key Trilogy, Cora Sandoval discovers a pivotalclue in the California redwoods. Meanwhile, her best friends, Mari and Dun, are alone in the car as they wait for her. These precious moments alone might be the opportunity to act on feelings they’ve harbored for each other for too long. Enjoy this steamy bonus scene inspired by SCINTILLATE.

Fogging Up A Mari & Dun Moment

​“I don’t know if I agree with what you said to Cora...” Dun said, as he opened the back door of the car and stepped out into the rain-drenched afternoon. Mari waited impatiently for the rest of his dissenting thought for the whole five seconds it took for him to open the shotgun door and slide back in the car. “...about love being like lightning that strikes sudden and hot. Not always, anyway.”

​Mari flipped down the visor to see how badly the rain had smudged her kohl eyeliner. “Do tell,” she said in that open-mouthed way that girls did when they were messing with their makeup but that only made it hard for Dun not to think about the soft bit of tongue he could see against the pad of her bottom lip.

​“It’s not a well thought-out theory,” he murmured, suddenly shy and taking the opportunity to stare out the window at the redwood forest, soaked in rain. Cora was out there, for a reason that perplexed both of them, but not enough to tramp out into the wet forest to find out what it was. 

This was a golden opportunity to be alone.

​Mari snapped the visor shut and fixed her dark eyes on Dun. “Tell me something scandalous.”

​“When people ask questions like that, it means they want to tell something scandalous. It’s purely psychological,” he said, tapping his temple. When Mari raised her eyebrow in a very ‘I mean business’ way, he surrendered. He’d always surrender to Mari. Except when he wouldn’t. 

​A girl like Mari needed both. 

​“The first time I ever,” Dun suddenly made a show of tracing the trajectory of raindrops on the window. “The first time I—um—gave myself over to the decadent art that is self-pleasure,” he felt the heat rising up his neck. “I was thinking about you.”

​She grinned and turned sideways in her seat. Her knee bent over Dun’s thigh, sealing heat against his skin. “Excellent,” she said. “And the second time?”

​“To that Pixies, Surfer Rose album cover you showed me.”

​“Right? It was totally hot. Did it for me, too.” She reveled in the surprise in Dun’s eyes. “Hey,” she shrugged. “Sexy is sexy.”

​“Tell me something else,” she said. “Something PG.” 

​“I want to live on my grandma’s property someday, and fix up her old house, and I want to keep bees.”

​Mari’s chin dipped and her eyes darkened with an emotion that was a blend of mischief and delight. “I’d like to have some of your honey,” she said in a voice that dripped with it.

​Dun curled and uncurled his hands on his thighs, trying to think of a way to initiate the first of what he hoped would be thousands of kisses. Every kind. The soft, slow, exploratory ones. The quick pecks on the way to and from class. The kiss on the temple while watching a movie. The surprise kiss to shut her up when she was being mouthy. There would be lots of those. The kiss that lights a fuse burning to every part of your body—some parts more than others. 

​While he was busy thinking of the menu of kisses he’d like to have, Mari turned up the radio, blasting whatever was on, and reached into his hair. She was forever touching his hair. But this time, she wound it tightly in her fist and his fuse was lit before he knew what she’d do next.

​She tugged on the clump in her hand and pulled his head forward. 

​Mari kissed like she lived—razor tipped feathers. Heart and blade. 

​She softened his bottom lip, taking it into her mouth with a gentle draw before biting it. Her hands held both sides of his face and he knew she was the wave he’d slip under if he didn’t come up for air and start kicking. He slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her off balance, tipping her toward him. Not one to be outdone, she slung her leg over his, straddled his lap, and with a tug at something next to his right hip, his seat flew back and suddenly Mari Sandoval was looking down on him. Victory was raspberry lips, pressed together in a smile as she rolled her hips forward to press against his and bent over to kiss his mouth. Over and over again, she crashed on his shores.

​“I think Cora’s coming back,” she said, swiping a bit of fog from the window and peering through. She scooted off Dun’s lap and smoothed her hair.

​Dun couldn’t stop looking at her and wondering if nothing changed or, if everything had. “I’m yours. You know that, right?”

​She answered with soft eyes and a soft voice he hadn’t often heard from her. “Yes. You’re my best friend and I love you and if I were going to be anybody’s, I’d be yours. I think the way it works is, I’ve gotta be mine first.”

​The rear door opened swirling cool, wet air into the car as Cora got back in looking muddy, crazed, and furtive, like she was holding a secret as big as the towering redwoods surrounding them. A secret so powerful, that it seemed to them, it’d be better off kept because their best friend looked like she was already half swallowed up by it. 

​Anyway, they had their own secret.
Inspiration & Motivation - How To Make Friends With These Two Forces
by Tracy Clark on 03/26/14

At a recent author visit at a local high school, I found myself giving the students this answer after I was asked this question: At what age did I know that I wanted to be a writer? It was 8th grade when I knew, but unfortunately, I didn't begin following my dream until much later. I wasn't yet friends with motivation and inspiration. I explained:

"I wasn't a great student. Not because I wasn't intelligent but because I was waiting for the world, teachers, parents, someone "out there" to inspire me. I finally realized that I had to inspire me."

This seemed to resonate with the students, as it's likely some are waiting to feel that spark of creative fire before they act on whatever dreams they have. I'm hoping it resonates with my fellow writers because I think we often wait for the magic of feeling inspired before we're motivated to proceed in our creative endeavors.

I learned something in my psychology class last year that has really stuck with me. Not only has it helped me with motivating myself, but with parenting, and even with determining character motivations in my stories. Get a load of this: Psychologically, intrinsic (internal/self) motivation is much stronger than extrinsic (external) motivation.

Think about that; we are the captains of our own motivational and inspirational ships.

Duuuude. Once that whopper sunk in, I realized that I held all the power. -insert evil power laugh-

Oh, what a wily power it is, too. Makes excuses impossible. The lighting bolt of inspiration can and does sometimes strike out of the blue. It's exhilarating when it does. It sends signals of excitement and purpose through our mind and bodies. It moves us to action. But what do we do when the skies are clear, too clear, and there's no inspiration storm in sight?

We get to work.

Studies have shown that we can actually prime our brains for creativity. This is great news because it tells us that we don't have to be immobilized by a lack of inspiration. Our brains are designed to make connections. If you want creativity to be a part of your every day experience, you need to train your brain to believe that's what supposed to happen. Our brains must make the connection between intention and creative flow. How can we do this?

Work the pump every day. Establish a creative routine. I don't think it matters if it's 100 words or 5,000. If you have a daily routine of "creative time" your brain will eventually make the "Oh, THIS is what we're supposed to be doing now!" connection.

Put on your headlamp and go mining.Notice, I never said that you couldn't be inspired by outside sources, but they aren't always going to airmail themselves to your door with a big ribbon. You can control whether you're mining for inspiration or not. You have to be ever curious. Read new things. Watch something different. Listen to a different kind of music.

Have fun! Part of intrinsic motivation is that it's usually fueled by things that make us happy, that give us pleasure. Writing can be damned hard work. The business of publishing can make you want to go screaming into a bear den covered in marshmallow fluff. But if you're a creator at heart, then nothing gives you more pleasure and satisfaction than being creative. Find ways to make it pleasant. Even if it's lighting candles in your workspace. Even if it's a bowl of marshmallow fluff. Reward your own efforts in ways that are meaningful to you.

Motivation and inspiration don't have to be the writer's fair-weathered friends who only show up when times are good. We can fling open the door and invite them in no matter the weather. At least wave some marshmallow fluff under their noses.

Thank you to the lovely Martina Boone tagged me in the My Writing Process Blog Tour. You can read her awesome post here: http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2014/03/writing-factions-divergence-and.html

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