Tag Archives: Nala’s Story

Nala’s Story audiobook now available!


I’ve already posted this first chapter of Nala’s Story when Edo and I were working on it. The audiobook is now available at Amazon, Audible and iTunes. If you want Nala’s Story for free, and you don’t have an Audible account, then sign up for the free trial. They pay me a bounty when someone does the free trial, and one of my audiobooks is the first one “purchased.”

If you’re into audiobooks, be sure to check out Body Rentals and Forlorn Hope.

Nala’s Story audiobook preview


“Get back in line!”

The young woman frowned and turned her head toward the command. She scowled and stared at the old man, his robe barely concealing his enormous pot belly. His face wrinkled and lined, gleamed in the mid-day sun. I hope you die of heat stroke, she thought before gathering herself, disregarding her chains, and replying: “No man has power over me, yī qiào bù tōng.”

Her scowl changed to a smile, and she fluttered her eyelashes as the old man processed her insult and her use of the modern Han Chengyu. His face darkened, and the wrinkles that were so pronounced began to flush a deep crimson, as he translated the words: to lack the most basic knowledge.

Her victory and the accompanying smile were short lived. He gathered the chains binding her wrists and pulled down hard. The force spun her around, and she stumbled backward. The slave-trader grabbed at her, clasping his large hands tight on her arms. She was compelled to stare up, her back arched over his pot belly, the sweat-soaked clothing unwelcome against her bare skin.

He looked into her wide eyes and whispered. “Watch your tone, slave. Or I’ll sell you to the Magistrate at a discount.” His eyes roamed her supine figure, his perpetual frown forming a lecherous leer. “You know what happens to girls joining his harem…”

He let the threat linger, unclarified. She cringed, not at his threat, but at his affront on her olfactory. He stunk with a stench of fermented wine, onions, and urine. The odor was all the more evident as he leaned closer and tugged at her bindings. As the metal dug into her wrists, all she could do was close her eyes and will the cretin to have his fun humiliating her and return her to the line.

Before he could further her humiliation, an ebony hand waved between his roving eyes. “Please, honorable sir, forgive Nala, it won’t happen again.”

The old man looked into Hazina’s face. Her soft features and skin the color of wet river rocks elicited a leer. He spun Nala around, grabbing a handful of her hair in his meaty hand. She saw the gleam in the old man’s eyes. It was a dangerous gleam. A gleam born years of getting what he wanted. When the gleam was aimed at Nala, she did not fear it. He could wear out his eyes, staring at me like that; Nala had told Hazina once, he has no hold over me.

This time, however, the look was aimed at the only thing that made Nala endure his advances: Hazina.

Hazina’s soft eyes pleaded with him. She repeated her earlier plea: “Please, honorable sir, forgive my sister’s rude behavior.”

The old man’s eyes flittered back and forth between Hazina in her pastoral dress and Nala in her slightly parted ruqun. He erupted in a spattering of Han dialect, too fast for Nala to comprehend. The tirade ended with him turning his head and spitting into the dirt. He released Nala, and she collapsed to the ground. He glared at Hazina a final time before stalking away.

Off to harass some other girl, Nala thought as she gathered herself up and worked to loosen the chains that bound her to her sister. She pressed her knuckles into her back at the strain the altercation had caused her.

Nala’s Story Audiobook Progress


Edoardo Camponeschi sent me the last chapters yesterday, along with this studio photo. I’ve listened to all the Nala’s Story audio. I have to say, it’s like Edo could see into my head and knew exactly what emotion and/or emphasis I wanted in each chapter. We discovered a typo or two, so I’ll be updating the ebook as well. The total running time is an hour and forty minutes. We need to tweak about three chapters, and Edo still needs to record the opening and closing credits, as well as, the “end matter.” I expect to finalize the audiobook in the next few days. It should be up on Amazon and Audible by the end of next week. Stop by tomorrow, and I’ll post the first chapter for you all to listen to.

Time’s Running Out

Hello super-fans, lurkers, and those that meant to click on the link above mine on your google search. Time is running out. Nala’s Story will be free only through the 24th. I’m still hoping to get ten reviews before the weekend is devoured by the work week.

Please head over to Amazon and download Nala’s Story so your review has the “verified purchase” tag. I’m not demanding five-star reviews either, if you feel the story deserves a lower star rating, then by all means, do so. I’ve been a writer long enough that low-star reviews only make me cry for a few hours…

Thanks to all you who’ve already downloaded, read, and reviewed – You’re my heroes! This should be my last begging post on Nala’s Story. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming on Monday.


Call to Action

Hello fans! This is a call to action to run Nala’s Story up the charts. I’m hoping to have at least ten reviews by week’s end. I’m not talking all glowing five-star reviews either. If you have a qualm with the story, and don’t think it should be five-star, then by all means tell me in the form of a review.

For a hybrid author like myself, reviews are more valuable than sales. If you really want to read Nala’s Story (or any of my other works) but you are unable to afford to purchase it, email me, and I’ll happily send you a copy for review purposes. My email is over there. *points to the right, just below my photo from ten years ago when I wasn’t so fat.*

If any of you run your own blog or podcast, and would like to interview me, I can do audio and text, just email me for the deets, yo.

I hafta remand you all again that reviews are so important, and please leave one for Nala’s Story at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B012M1S5UG/

While you’re at it, feel free to follow me on Amazon. I don’t know if it actually means anything, but my author page is at: http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Gardner/e/B008LHJVAY/

And for those of you who enjoy my book reviews and author interviews, do me a solid and head over to Amazon and “like” my reviews: http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2XXGH990W3MR8 I think you have to click on the permalink, then click yes or something. I’m hoping to get invited to the Amazon Vine program, so I’ll have even more books to read and recommend, and reviewer ranking is the way to score such an invite.

Anyway, *checks notes*. Follow me, helpful me, and Nala’s Story is out Tuesday, so please review it. Oh, here’s the cover, so you know what to get/review/hate/boycott:


Exclusivity, and Web Fiction

*EDIT* Some of you got here because the link to part four of Nala’s Story was redirected to this post. The rest of the story is now password protected due to exclusivity arrangements with Amazon. Keep reading to find out more.

Hey, gang! I figured with Nala’s Story coming out in two days, I’d let you all know what’s going on. First, the story will see about a week or so where it’ll be available for sale on Amazon, but still be readable here on the blog. (So if you want to read an earlier version, click on projects, then Nala’s Story.) Next weekend, it’ll be an Amazon exclusive, which means I’ll need to password-protect a bunch of the posts. The amount of posts that have to be hidden away will depend on the length of the excerpt. For those of you visiting from the HarperCollins board, I’ll need to change it from the full story to the excerpt.

But don’t worry, I need reviews more than I need royalty payments, so anyone who wants a copy for review purposes needs only to shoot me an email telling me what version is best for them to read. I’m hoping to have at least ten reviews by week’s end.

I finished coloring the Joel Cotejar art, so check this out:
I had some weirdness with inks that didn’t quite line up properly, but hey, I’m an amateur, ya know?

I’ll bother you some more about Nala’s Story tomorrow.

Nala’s Story Art Progress

I’m almost done coloring Joel’s line art for Nala’s Story. Click on it to embiggin.

I need to finish the slave-trader’s tents (obviously), and then cell shade the sky, sand and mountains. I should have it done for the launch on Tuesday the 18th.

Nala’s Story Almost Published


Hey all, you’ve likely already read my novelette, Nala’s Story from the posts here on the blog. I was feeling strong about the story based on feedback from my alpha readers, so I committed to a KDP release date. (Like anyone’s going to preorder it anyway!) I got some recent feedback from some beta readers, and I’m getting anxious about the story. So, I’m in dire need of beta readers who can turn around their reads by Friday. I know it’s short notice, but I need to have the final manuscript turned in the following Monday (the 10th.) I’m looking for full reads, partial reads, chapter reads, and blurb assistance.

I’m looking for plot issues, grammar, and spelling. I ad a few readers respond that they were confused as to what was happening. and they weren’t hooked by the fifth or sixth chapters.

I can send a docx with track changes, a PDF, or an electronic book (epub, mobi, etc) You can also email me directly. The email link should be to your right under a photo of a devilishly handsome guy who got fat and doesn’t look like that any more. Please only request a copy if you can turn around 14,500 words by Friday. I’m also hoping that you readers will be able to leave feedback on Amazon on the day of release.

Help me followers! (I’m visualizing the scene from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back – “Avenge me, Hemp Knight!”)

Nala’s Story Cover Concept


Joel Cotejar, who did the 16Sunsets cover, has sent me his penciled drawing for the Nala’s Story cover. All that’s left is for him to ink the entire thing. I still need to decide what color I want the background to be. I’m excited because I totally geek out on cool art – especially art I’ve commissioned. The cover mockup above is based on the art below. I’m still looking at an August release for Nala’s Story. Once the text is finalized, I’ll add the hidden messages like the ones in Champion Standing. Click on the art below to embiggen.


Nala’s Story, Conclusion


[505 words – Word-A-Week]Nala watched Shui’s chest rise and fall a few times before she placed her free hand gently on it. “Shui?” She whispered.

His eyes opened, and she witnessed a sliver of surprise before he grinned. “Yes?” He replied.

Nala took a breath and held it. She looked away from his eyes and bowed at the waist.

“What are you doing?” He asked, not bothering to conceal his surprise.

“I am sorry, Mi’Lord.”

The words felt strange in her mouth, but she knew they were the right ones. They were words she should’ve said before, but even without seeing the murderabilia, she had been blinded by rumor and conjecture. She had allowed hearsay to taint her perception of a man she had suspected of being pure of heart.

“I am sorry for my assassination attempts. I am sorry for the cruel things I have said. I am sorry for the misery I subjected you to…” Her voice faded and was caught in her throat. “I will understand if you do not wish to see me again,” she finally said, “but I will atone for my behavior.”

Shui responded with silence. Nala wanted to meet his gaze, but the knowledge of her wrongdoing sapped her courage.

Her courage might have faded, but her mind was sharp. Shui had never shown malice. He couldn’t have been capable of the worst humanity had to offer. Nala hoped he would forgive her.

She knew he would forgive her.

It was present from their first encounter: kindness.

She saw it each time they met. She heard his kind words. She felt his kind presence.

“Look at me, Nala,” he finally said.

“No, Mi’Lord, I can not.” Her protest was barely audible, but she couldn’t come so far and not follow through.

Nala slowly lifted her head and met Shui’s eyes.

His eyes locked with hers. He searched her, his eyes conveyed something Nala couldn’t quite place. She felt self conscious. He read her soul she finally bared to him. He could see the turmoil of emotions: guilt, shame, loss, fear and confusion.

At that moment, she was at her most vulnerable. The honesty of the moment eroded her mask of strength. Shui’s pull on her intensified. Nala was incapable of escape.

Why do I feel this way? she asked herself.

She knew why. She had felt it for some time. Only in this intimate moment with him could she start to admit it.

“I understand,” he replied and squeezed the hand intertwined with his.

She looked into his eyes, and she knew.
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