The Gleaning, Spellspinners Series #2

Lily and Logan’s bond is put to the ultimate test as dark forces threaten to destroy them. Good and evil collide. Alliances shatter. And the Gleaning reveals just how deep betrayal runs.

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Synopsis

“Some moments are like bruises…Dark and deep and so malformed that even once the color fades back to normal, when the blood flattens and the bump erodes and you begin to recognize the skin as yours again, you remember the moment it happened. That unexpected pain. And you do your best to avoid it forevermore.”

In the second installment of the Spellspinners saga, Lily’s worldview is rocked by fear, mistrust, and heartbreak, as she deals with the fallout from the night of her enchantment.

Someone powerful is determined to keep her and Logan apart. But who? And why?

As the covens prepare to do battle in the Solstice Stones, the lines between good and evil, dark and light, begin to blur. Allegiances are called into question. Trust is broken. And all Lily knows may just be an illusion.

Will the star-crossed lovers unearth the seeds of betrayal before it’s too late? Or will the witches and warlocks of Melas County be forced to say goodbye to their magic—and any chance of reconciliation between the covens—for good?

In The Gleaning, nothing is as it seems. And Lily and Logan will have to tread carefully if they hope to uncover the truth in time to save their love and break the curse.

What’s Cool from Coliloquy:
The Gleaning is the second installment of The Spellspinners Of Melas County, an Active Fiction series from Coliloquy. Throughout the series, author Heidi R. Kling uses a unique interactive format to augment the typical reading experience.

Lily and Logan’s fate is already decided, but Heidi explores several different possible pathways for how they get there. She shares scenes that wouldn’t normally fit in a book format and gives readers more precious moments between the two young lovers. As the series progresses, you’ll see some normal narrative forms, interspersed with smaller scenes, alternate points of view, and a lot of “what if” scenarios.

And read carefully…Heidi employs high-tech trickery to let her readers experience some Spellspinners magic.

Excerpt

“I got this,” Logan said, with a cute glance that made my knees weak.

He knelt beside the brook, set his palms over the water, closed his eyes and concentrated on supplicating his energy. I couldn’t tear my eyes off his back as the muscles tensed and relaxed with the rhythm of the heating spell. His thin white tank top barely concealed the thick, weaving patterns of his ink, which conjured the image of an ancient language scrawled on a cave’s wall. Steam rose around him as the stream bubbled like a geyser.

“That ought to do it, buddy,” Chance said, grinning.

“You said heat it up.” With a shrug, he stood and walked back over to me. I sucked in a breath.

“I think I’ll leave you two alone for this part.”

I flushed.

“What do we do?” Logan asked Chance, without taking his eyes off me.

“You pour the water over her nine times, at an angle. Then toss the mixture over her opposite shoulder.” Chance handed him the pouch.

I couldn’t even meet Logan’s eyes as Chance disappeared around the corner. “You got about five minutes,” he said, a playful seriousness in his warning. Logan must’ve been making a face, because Chance added, “I mean it, bro.” Then he retreated into the woods, laughing.

Once we were alone, I dipped my toes in and yelped, “Too hot.”

“Sorry! Might have gone a little overboard.” He frowned at the boiling water.

“A little?”

His eyes looked up to my lips.

Opening my mouth, I blew cool air onto the pool until the bubbles calmed into a light sizzle, like the jets of a hot tub. I tested the temperature with my fingers.

“Better?” he asked.

“Much.”

“Let’s get to it, then.”

 

Logan

“I know it’s already thrashed, but I don’t want to get my dress wet.”

“Um, okay,” Logan said, imagining an alternative he was quite okay with. Her dress was still wet from the water they’d woken her with. But if she insisted on taking it off, who was he to stop her?

“Turn around,” she said with a little twirl of her fingers. “Logan? I mean it.”

Smiling, he turned his back to her and waited.

 

Lily

As I pulled my dress over my head, I watched his back nervously. Though he could See everything if he wanted, I could tell he wasn’t peeking.

I tossed my rag of a dress in a little heap to the side of the pool, and waded to the center of what was now an ideal-temperature hot tub. He waited, like a perfect gentleman, for me to tell him it was okay to turn around.
The stream was only waist-deep. My hair was long, but not that long, and didn’t quite cover everything. The expression on his face when he turned around let me know that part was definitely a pleasant surprise.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey,” he said, softly. He had ripped off his tank top. “Should I, um? If Jacob finds me in the dungeon with wet jeans…”

“We could magically dry them?”

“Oh, and you couldn’t your dress?” He half-grinned.

“I hadn’t thought of that.” And I hadn’t. I was having a hard time sticking to logical thought at all. He was now down to his boxer shorts and was standing there, so ridiculously gorgeous, it was as if he were ripped off my favorite CW TV show.

He blinked. It was so sweet, the way he was trying so hard to look at everything but what he wanted to look at.

My shoulders rounded, and I tipped my head to the side. “Chance said we only have five minutes, remember?”

“Right.” He blinked again. “Right.”

Approaching me slowly in the water, he stood in front of me, careful not to lean in so close that we’d touch. He cupped a handful of water in his large hands. Carefully, he poured it over my left shoulder. I shivered as it poured down my hair, over my chest, and down my stomach. “It’s not too hot?”

“It’s perfect.” You’re perfect, I wanted to say.

The next handful was over the right shoulder. Shivers.

This went on until he finished the ninth handful. I somehow managed to stay perfectly still as his hard-muscled chest, ripe with ink, shifted inches away from my naked torso. And then, when he was finished, I reached out and held the sides of his hips. Only then, did he finally pull me into him.

Author

Heidi R. Kling earned her MFA in Writing for Children from the New School, and is the author of multiple-award nominated novel Sea (Putnam/2010). She’s published short stories and essays to anthologies Truth & Dare (UK/US), The Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls (Smart Pop), and The First Time.  Heidi loves to obsess over young adult lit and pop culture, so make her day by visiting her on heidirkling.tumblr.com or on Twitter at @heidirkling. She lives with her family in Palo Alto, CA, near the real Black Mountain and coastal towns much like Melas County. She hasn’t spotted a warlock in real life. Yet.

Author Q and A

Mary: In our last interview, you told us that as a writer, it’s your job to let your characters become real and lead you where they’re meant to go—have they taken you anywhere that you didn’t expect to go?

Heidi: They do that all the time! Jude popped out of this manuscript demanding much more of my attention than I initially planned for him. And I have a feeling Lily in particular will surprise me more as this series progresses. She will face challenges and truths that are outside her realm of understanding and in doing so will venture into a darker part of herself. Even her love for Logan, which is so solid, will be tested.

Mary: The ending of The Gleaning was especially shocking—I really didn’t see that coming. I don’t want to give anything away, but it opened up a whole new set of characters and motives—it was fascinating and a little heartbreaking. Do you think you’ll go back and write about any of those characters and their points of view leading up to the final scene?

Heidi: I’m glad you were shocked! That means I did my job. :) I’d love to go back and write some of those scenes from those players POVs. Poor Lily though. I feel kind of bad about it all.

Mary: Witch’s Brew was such a love letter to Logan, but in The Gleaning, you challenge everything…including his #1 ranking on the hot boy scale. I really didn’t think I could waver, but that accent…that dream…You’ve been behaving badly, Miss Heidi!

Heidi: Sorry. *blush* Like I said above though, Jude sort of demanded more screen time…and he is quite convincing for all the reasons you list above. 😉

Mary: It’s all Emily’s fault, right? I know she likes the Brits…

Heidi: She does! My editor was like MORE JUDE MORE JUDE. How could I say no? Those scenes weren’t exactly torture to write. 😉

Mary: Are there any other characters that you particularly like and hope to explore further in the next book?

Heidi: Yes, Jonah and Daisy got a little short-changed in this one, and readers and reviewers really like them. They will both get more page time in future installments. Chance will also have a more dynamic role. And one of the main character’s parents, who readers haven’t met, will not only be introduced, but will be a key player in taking down Jacob and the Congression.

Mary: The Gleaning was the culmination of a lot of the expectations that were set up in the first two books—now that it’s finally happened, what do you envision for the next book as the story moves forward?

Heidi: The next chapter brings a huge revelation for Lily as well as a difficult decision for Lily and Logan as a couple. What do you do when your world collapses and enemies are everywhere? Do you stay and fight or do you run and seek the answers that will help your endgame?

Mary: Has the data from the first book changed your vision for the story and the characters at all from what you originally set out to write?

Heidi: So far it hasn’t. My readers seem to choose the paths (or choices) I offer them about 50-50%. I will be curious in The Gleaning, however, how many readers opt to read the entire selection of Grandma Rose’s journal off the bat vs. those who choose the teaser plus summary option. I LOVE the journal, so I’m hoping most of my readers will want to soak it all up. Anyway, that data, will let me know how much of the journal I should include in further installments. Also, I’ll be curious to hear feedback about bad boy Jude.

Mary: What’s your writing process like?

Heidi: I do my best work in the morning with my first cup of coffee. Since I have two young children at home, this isn’t always possible, but as soon as I get them off to school, I jet over to a French cafe near my house, put on my headphones, and dig in. I usually work for a few hours this way, then take a break, check social media (Twitter, Facebook), eat something and get back to it. Before I start a new chapter, I usually go back and read what I just wrote and fix sentences, add things etc. I like to revise as I go.

Mary: What themes were you most excited to explore in this installment/future episodes?

Heidi: One of the reasons I love writing this series is because I get to play with classic themes: Good vs. Evil, Trust vs. Mistrust. Choice vs. Destiny. When what you’re  taught isn’t the whole (or only) truth, what then? How do you re-write your own mythology? And if you do, who do you take along with you? Lily and Logan are irrevocably connected, but what if one of them is tempted outside their unique union? What does that do to the fate of the Spellspinners as a whole? They will meet a group of renegades called Benders, who live outside the current structure of ‘Spinners who live free and by their own choices. Lily and Logan are both tempted by this free spirited style of magical existence and are drawn to this lifestyle. Can you blame them? I can’t wait to write those scenes!

Mary: I see some foreshadowing about Hawaii…do you need an intern for a research trip?

Heidi: Definitely. Aloha!