GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Excerpt: The DeChance Chronicles Volumes 1-5 by David Niall Wilson + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Excerpt: The DeChance Chronicles Volumes 1-5 by David Niall Wilson + giveaway

by David Niall Wilson
October 3, 2014
873 pages
Donovan DeChance is a collector of ancient manuscripts and books, a practicing mage, and a private investigator. This Omnibus Collection includes books I, II, III, and IV of the series. Included are Heart of a Dragon, Vintage Soul, My Soul to Keep (The Origin story of Donovan DeChance) and Kali's Tale - book IV of the series. Also included are the bonus novellas "The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature," and "The Preacher's Marsh," both of which provide background on settings and characters that appear in Kali's Tale. If you enjoy this book, you should read Nevermore, A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe, which follows on Kali's Tale, has a cameo from Donovan DeChance, and leads into Book V - A Midnight Dreary, currently in progress.

Heart of a Dragon: When a local houngan begins meddling with powers she may not be able to control, a turf war breaks out between the Dragons motorcycle club and the Los Escorpiones street gang—a war that threatens to open portals between worlds and destroy the city in the process. With his lover, Amethyst, his familiar, Cleo – an Egyptian Mau the size of a small bobcat –the dubious aid of a Mexican sorcerer named Martinez and the budding gifts of a young artist named Salvatore, DeChance begins a race against time, magic, and almost certain death.

Vintage Soul: When, despite the finest in natural and supernatural security, a sexy and well-loved, three hundred-year-old lady vampire is kidnapped right out from under her lover's nose, Donovan is called in to investigate. There will be no ransom for the kidnap victim, and if Donovan doesn't prevent an ancient, forbidden ritual from reaching its culmination, far more than a single vampire's undead existence will be at stake.

My Soul to Keep: Donovan DeChance is a very private man, and he is in love. When he invites his partner and lover, Amethyst, for a quiet dinner, she has no idea of his true intention. Donovan has planned a sharing - a vision that will give her the keys to his early life - the origins of his power - and a lot more than she bargained for. Join young Donovan as he fights to keep his soul, save a town, and learn the roots of his teacher and guardian - and meet his familiar, Cleo.

Kali's Tale: When Donovan is asked to follow in secret as a hot-headed group of young vampires set out on a 'blood quest' to kill the ancient who created the young vampire Kali against her will, he learns that - as usual - there is a lot more to the story than meets the eye. Through the juke joints of Beale Street in Memphis, to the depths of The Great Dismal Swamp, Donovan and his lover and partner, Amethyst, find themselves drawn along on one of the strangest quests in their long, enigmatic lives as they delve into the world of the undead, the magic of The Blues, and the very heart of alchemy both to protect their young, vampiric charges - and to prevent an ancient evil from destroying the balance of power in the universe.

This novel directly crosses over to the original series O.C.L.T. - where Donovan is a sometimes consultant. It features appearances by Geoffrey Bullfinch and Rebecca York, O.C.L.T. agents, as well as Old Mill, North Carolina's own Cletus J. Diggs.

by David Niall Wilson
January 19, 2019
242 pages
A Midnight Dreary, the long-awaited fifth volume in The DeChance Chronicles, picks up outside Old Mill, NC, when Donovan, reminded that he has promised his lover, Amethyst, and Geoffrey Bullfinch of the O.C.L.T. a story, draws them back in time to a vision of the final chapter of the novel Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. At vision's end, they realize that they have to act, to free Eleanor MacReady from the trap that holds her on the banks of Lake Drummond, in the Great Dismal Swamp, and to rescue a princess who has not known freedom in at least two centuries. The rescue that ensues crosses worlds and dimensions, wandering through Poe's tales, the fables of the Brothers Grimm, and finally to a confrontation on a mountain in Germany. This novel draws upon characters and plots from many of the author's novels, including his stories of Old Mill, NC, The O.C.L.T., Nevermore, and the vampire novel Darkness Falling." It is rich with sorcery and adventure. Welcome to the world of Donovan DeChance.

Chapter Ten
Amethyst rolled into Old Mill slowly. There was a bridge across the Perquiman's river, a very old one, and then you swung around slowly to get a view of the one main "downtown" street. There were a number of antique shops, a barber shop with an honest-to-god whirling peppermint-stick sign out front, and even a drugstore with a soda fountain. If you found yourself there without any context, you might start believing in time travel. Driving in, after recent events, it felt oddly comforting to hit such a wall of apparent normality.

She knew it was a fa├žade, for the most part. Too many strange things had happened in Old Mill in recent years, most of them involving the man she was coming to meet, Cletus J. Diggs, for anyone to believe the lie. Everything from elder gods, to vampires, to living breathing dinosaurs had turned up in or around the sleepy little town, and she remembered hearing Donovan say once that Mack, the Internet scanning computer genius behind the O.C.L.T. data network, claimed the Great Dismal Swamp, and this town in particular, came up on his oddball searches more often than almost any other spot on the globe. Bullfinch said it was a massive crossing point for the Earth's ley lines.

Whatever it was, she felt the energy of the place. It tingled through the soft hairs on her arms and warmed the many crystals she wore. She felt like a battery, and the world was recharging her. She wondered where Donovan was, and what he was doing, but shook it off. Cleo, seated in the passenger seat, caught her thought and let loose a soft meow of commiseration. It was never easy for a bonded familiar to be away from their companion. Thankfully, the bond that Amethyst and Donovan shared had gone beyond emotion, so she was a suitable surrogate. She was also happy for the companionship.

There was a small coffee shop on the right, The Daily Grind. Amethyst pulled over and parked behind a beat up old Ford Bronco. She was early, and she took a moment to get a better look at her surroundings. Down the street, standing on the corner, a tall black man in camouflage pants and shirt stood, a ball cap tilted down over one eye.

"You'd better wait here, for now," Amethyst said to Cleo. "Not sure what they'd think of someone walking in with you, and I'm likely to stand out enough here without any help."

Cleo returned her gaze. She couldn't tell if the cat was miffed, or just accepting. But without complaint, the cat dropped to the floor, out of sight from the street, and curled into a small, furry ball.

Amethyst climbed out of the dark, nondescript SUV, closed the door behind her, and clicked the door lock button on the key fob. She left window on the passenger side was cracked only slightly. She wasn't worried so much about anyone breaking in as she was about what Cleo might do to them if they were stupid enough to try.

Inside, four men and one old woman with gray hair and a cowboy hat tilted back on her head sat at the counter. They were all nursing coffee and nibbling at an assortment of donuts, bagels, and toast. The air was thick with the scents of fried bacon and stale tobacco. Either modern no-smoking laws had not quite taken hold in Old Mill or the walls, floor, and ceiling were so permeated with the stench that it could not be excised by any combination of elbow grease and cleaning compounds.

In a booth along the left wall, beneath a string of black and white photos depicting a variety of vintage photos, baseball teams, local businesses, autographed shots of visiting celebrities and framed, yellowed and faded newspaper headlines, a man sat reading a newspaper and sipping black coffee.

As Amethyst came through the door, he glanced up, smiled, folded his paper and stood, offering his hand.

"You must be Amethyst," he said. “I’m Cletus Diggs.”

She smiled and took his hand.

"Am I that obvious? What gave me away?"

"Well, I've haven't seen so many crystals in one place since the last flea market," he said. "But to be honest, everyone in Old Mill knows everyone else, and most of their relatives. If you go as far as Hertford, Winfall, or Elizabeth City you might find someone not related, or who is the center of some sort of local gossip, but nothing like you. Besides," he added, "Donovan talked about you. A lot."

"He'd better," Amethyst said.

She slid into the booth across from where he'd been sitting, and Cletus waved at the tall, thin woman behind the counter, who grabbed another cup and a pot of coffee and hurried over. Apparently, Cletus wasn't the only person who'd noticed something interesting.

"That's Iris," Cletus said, returning to his seat. "If we let her get started, she's going to ask you a thousand questions. Let me handle this."

Amethyst nodded and grinned. After the adventures of the past week or so, she was ready for something a little calmer. This was beginning to feel like it fit the bill. She leaned back and watched as Cletus rose once more, cutting the waitress off about two feet short of the booth. He took the coffee pot from her hand before she knew it was happening.

"Thank you darlin'," he said with a bright smile. "I was going to call you for a refill, but you beat me to it."

Iris tried to sidestep him and make for the table, but Cletus shifted casually, making the motion seem almost accidental. She bumped into him and glanced up in irritation.

"It's a personal thing," he said, leaning close. "She an old family friend, and there are problems. Man problems."

Iris' eyes widened.

"He's gone off and left her alone—it's work, but there are issues. You would not believe. Let me get some coffee into her and see what I can do? I promise I will come back and tell you everything when it's just you and me. I know can trust you to keep secrets, but them?" he nodded toward the counter, and the other patrons, all of whom had turned slightly but were pretending not to be watching the confrontation.

Iris' expression shifted instantly. She nodded, gave Amethyst a sympathetic glance, and patted Cletus on the shoulder. She handed him the empty cup, and he leaned in, giving her a quick hug, while somehow managing not to spill the pot of coffee. Iris made her way slowly back toward the counter, and Cletus slid back into the booth, poured Amethyst a cup of coffee, and topped off his own, setting the pot aside.

"We won't stay long," he said. "Something tells me privacy is going to be an issue."

"I'll have to get to the bed and breakfast before long," Amethyst said. "I have a package coming in. I'm hoping it will be here in time. I didn't really plan on this extra side-trip when we left San Valencez, and there are a few things I might need. Also, since I have a little insight on your friend Nettie, I ordered in something special."

"I hope it's not some weird, California small batch or something," Cletus said. "Her tastes are a little simpler."

"Never fear," Amethyst said. "The bottle I will have is small, and it's filled—mostly—with Old Crow. I had it shipped from an old friend, a man—I suppose he's still a man—named Johndrow. He had a lot in common with some others you know—Kali and Vein?"

Cletus raised an eyebrow.

"Johndrow has a wine cellar you would not believe, every vintage known to history, I think, in some variation or other. He also has a number of fine liquors, some cognacs, and a variety of other things picked up over the years and tucked away for the odd occasion. This small bottle is one. Johndrow owed me a favor."

"I've heard Donovan talk about that," Cletus said. "I don't think Nettie would appreciate blood-infused whiskey very much, no matter whose it was."

Amethyst laughed.

"Nothing like that," she said. "Did you know that the whiskey that became Old Crow was brewed first in Kentucky in the 1830s? When James C. Crow died, they continued to distill bourbon using his recipe, but the process? That died with the creator. There was a great deal of that whiskey left at the time—1848—but over the years, it became scarce. It's now one of the holy grails of bourbon, created using that lost recipe and distilled near the earth, by hand."

"Are you telling me you have some of that coming?"

"I am. Enough for three glasses, if you'd care to join me? I don't really need an introduction, but something tells me you should be part of this. Intuition, I suppose. I have flashes of it, and they are very seldom wrong. There is something that has to be played out in that swamp, and in some way, we are both tied to it."

"I know the tree," Cletus said. "Been there many times. Used to fish there, before they put in the State Park and fenced it off. That's likely to be a bit of a problem, getting in."

"I doubt if there is anywhere in the swamp Nettie can't get us to," Amethyst said. "Also, Donovan may have told you that I am not exactly helpless."

"He might have mentioned that," Cletus said. "What do you say we finish this coffee and get out of here then. We won't want to go out to that shack much before sunset, but it will give you a chance to unpack and settle in."

"I hope they aren't going to mind Cleo, Donovan’s cat," Amethyst said. "I don't know if Donovan mentioned it when he booked the room, but she's with me. He took Asmodeus."

"That crow?" Cletus said.

"He's actually a raven, and quite a bit older than either of us. Probably even older than Donovan, and let me tell you, that's a rabbit hole you don't want to go down without a stiff drink."

"I'll take your word on that, though t it might make an interesting bet if he's in the same league with Nettie."

"He's not," Amethyst said, draining her coffee and standing. "I have heard the story. He could have bought that Old Crow from James C. Crow himself, but Nettie? How old is your swamp, Cletus?"

Cletus took that in, shook his head, and dropped five-dollar bill on the table next to the coffee pot.

"You know," he said, "things like this happen to me way too often. Most times, it seems as if the universe is just desperate to keep me from going fishing. I know I'm going to regret it, but I'm in. I've been drinking Old Crow for years, but something tells me I've never seen anything like what you're talking about."

"Probably never will again," Amethyst said. "But that's what makes it special."

Cletus laughed. "You follow me in to the bed and breakfast. I'm gonna have to sweet talk Lila to get that cat into your room."

"I wouldn't call Cleo 'that cat' where she can hear," Amethyst said.

"Duly noted, and no offense intended," Cletus said. "I've had my ass saved by a double-D-Goddamned Cockatiel, run afoul of a freaking dinosaur, communed with some sort of holy deer—and you haven't even met Dog. In my life, the borders between humans and animals? They barely exist. Remind me to tell you about the albino twins who tried to transplant a deer's head on a man's body and resurrect the "Great Horned God."

"Now that sounds like a story."

Waving at Iris, they turned toward the door and the street beyond.

It took very little convincing for Lila to agree to let Cleo stay in the room. Cleo, her own best ambassador, leaped out of Amethyst's arms and onto the counter, butting her head into Lila's arm with a loud purr. Things went very smoothly from that point on. The expected package was waiting behind the counter.

"Never seen that delivery man before," Lila told them. "Strangest thing. The truck was the same as always, and he was so nice, but then, an hour later, the regular guy, Earl, from over to Edenton? He pulled into the driveway and brought in three more packages. When I asked him about the first driver, he just stared at me like I was crazy."

"Probably breaking in a new guy," Cletus said. "Maybe ol' Earl's worried about the competition."

"He ought to be," Lila sniffed. "That new guy was handsome! Blonde hair and looked like he could have run all the way from Edenton carrying that package. And do you know what he did?"

She waited, and with a chuckle, Cletus shrugged. "What?" he asked.

"Why, he fixed my dang printer!" she said. "Took one look at the lights on the front, tapped some stuff into my terminal, and away it went. It had been giving me heck for three days!"

Amethyst glanced at Cletus, who shrugged again.

"I'd say that's going above and beyond," he said. "Wish he'd deliver something to my trailer. My fax machine has been on the fritz for weeks."

After a few moments longer, and with a printout of her receipt in hand, she and Cletus were headed upstairs to her room. Cleo had hopped up onto her shoulder and curled around her neck like some sort of living stole, content and purring. When they were out of Lila's earshot, Amethyst let out a short laugh.

"I sent my request for supplies through Bullfinch," she said. "I didn't think he'd have Mack deliver the package in person."

"That one is unpredictable," Cletus said. "Guy has his face buried in a computer more than anyone I've ever known, but damned if he couldn't run here from Edenton, and keep going. Wonder why he didn't stay?"

"He's tracking Geoffrey and the others," she said. "He is always connected, but to really keep track of things, he needs to be in Denver. He's probably halfway back there by now. They have some seriously buffed-up private jets."

Cletus shook his head again. "Bought my laptop at Walmart about five years ago. That guy scares me. I'll tell you though, you spend much time around those folks, you begin to see the serious advantage of a team."

"Yeah, but I'm not really much of a team player. Donovan feels the same. He has been around a long time and has serious issues with organized leadership."

"Can't fault him for that," Cletus said. "You could spend a week of Sundays looking for an honest local politician in Old Mill. Closest you'd come is ol' Bob, the Sheriff, but he has to get riled up to show it. So, what else you go in that box?"

"A girl has to have her secrets," Amethyst said. "I expect you'll know before we're done with this. Come on, you can watch TV or something while I get cleaned up and ready for this evening. Just in case we end up stomping through the swamp, I'd better get dressed for the occasion."

"Tell you what," Cletus said. "You go ahead and get ready. I'm going to run into town and pick up a couple of things myself. I can be back here in, say, two hours? That puts us about half an hour before sunset. We don't want to arrive too soon, or too late. The Great Dismal—sometimes it's just a swamp. Other times? Best not to think about that. I'll feel better if Nettie is there, but at the same time—that lady gives me the willies."

"I know you have a history," Amethyst said. "I hope before I leave I'll have time to get some of those stories. Especially the one with the albino twins."

"It's a deal," Cletus said. "You can tell me what it's like living with that Magic Man out in California. He dragged double-D goddamned vampires here—but you know that. If I hadn't seen all the things I've seen…"

"I know the drill," Amethyst said. "I have other stories too. I haven't always lived in California, and I haven't always known Donovan. I learned what I know from my mother, who dragged me on some adventures that would curl every hair on your body. I had to learn young and fast how to take care of myself, and there was more to worry about than teenaged boys and a drunken father. In my world, the Boogey men were all-too real."

"Well, see if you can keep them out of your room," Cletus said. "And, if you don't mind, keep them as far away from me as you can. I'm on the kind of serious run of good luck with things like that that only ends in snake eyes and all your money going to the house, if you keep betting on it."

Amethyst laughed.

"Get back as soon as you can, I'll tell you one of those stories while you drive us out to that shack."

Cletus tipped the brim of his ball cap and turned back toward the parking lot. He wanted to pick up his gun, not that it ever did him any good, and to make sure Dog had plenty of food. His life had taken a lot of odd turns. If he could ever get enough time and courage together, he thought Willow over at the Cotton Gin might agree to the beginnings of a relationship. He had a dog—another long story involving decapitated animals and crazy people—and now? Now he was fixing to wander back out into that damned swamp again with not one, but two confirmed witches, or whatever they were—and likely a third he had failed to mention to Amethyst.

Cletus' first encounter with Nettie had led down a very strange, surreal trail that had ended with some very intimate memories that might, or might not, have happened with a younger woman who might, or might not, have been Nettie. (At the time, Cletus had been channeling parts of his own father.) Ever since that night, when he got close enough to meet with the old woman, a younger girl was there as well. She was young, but still seemed too old to be in any way connected to that dark night, but then, nothing in the swamp, or Old Mill, for that matter, was ever exactly what it seemed to be.

He pulled back out onto Hwy 17 and headed toward home. The One-Stop in Hertford was open, and he figured he could stop by there for beer and some kind of snacks. Nettie might show up right away, or she might take her time. He might get that story he'd been promised, and he thought, just once, hearing about someone else's weird-ass life might be just the ticket.

About the Author:
David Niall Wilson has been writing and publishing horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction since the mid-eighties.  An ordained minister, once President of the Horror Writer’s Association and multiple recipient of the Bram Stoker Award, his novels include Maelstrom, The Mote in Andrea’s Eye, Deep Blue, the Grails Covenant Trilogy, Star Trek Voyager: Chrysalis, Except You Go Through Shadow, This is My Blood, Ancient Eyes, On the Third Day, The Orffyreus Wheel, and Vintage Soul – Book One of the DeChance Chronicles. The Stargate Atlantis novel “Brimstone,” written with Patricia Lee Macomber is his most recent. He has over 150 short stories published in anthologies, magazines, and five collections, the most recent of which were “Defining Moments” published in 2007 by WFC Award-winning Sarob Press, and the currently available “Ennui & Other States of Madness,” from Dark Regions Press.   His work has appeared in and is due out in various anthologies and magazines.  David lives and loves with Patricia Lee Macomber in the historic William R. White House in Hertford, NC with their children, Billy, Zach, Zane, and Katie, and occasionally their genius college daughter Stephanie.

David is CEO and founder of Crossroad Press, a cutting edge digital publishing company specializing in electronic novels, collections, and non-fiction, as well as unabridged audiobooks.

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