17 January 2013

Excerpt Thursday: INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders by L.Leander

This week, we're welcoming author L. Leander, whose latest title is INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders. Join us on Sunday, when the author will offer a free copy of the book to a lucky blog visitor. Here's the blurb: 

Sometimes life isn't what we wish for.  A Gypsy circus comes to a small Appalachian community in 1843.  A naïve, misunderstood farm girl is entranced by the sights, sounds and costumes and is persuaded to join the troupe.  Late one night she leaves the only home she has ever known and follows the Gypsy wagon circus.  She learns to ride the main act - an elephant named Cecil and she and the elephant form an instant bond.  She is given the stage name of INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders and is delighted. 

But all is not as it seems.  There are undertones of danger and sadness lurking in the shadows, as foretold by the old fortune-teller Vadoma.  Inzared finds true love and works hard to gain acceptance into the Gypsy world.  Someone is sabotaging the circus - but whom?  Inzared and Paytre (the boss handler) search for clues.  What of the family Inzared left behind?  Will they ever forgive her?  Does she miss them?

This book is for anyone who has ever had a dream so big, so overwhelming that it consumed his or her every waking minute.  Sometimes you just might get more than you bargained for and maybe it’s not what you really wanted after all. 

An Excerpt from INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders

By now I was experiencing severe first-night jitters.  Not realizing how much Udo’s accident had unnerved me, I waited with Cecil for our cue. Nervously, I fingered the elephant-hair bracelet Paytre had given me.  My palms were sweaty and I felt sick to my stomach.  “Ladies and Gentlemen,” called Shandor.  “We have come to the end of the show and our most-loved act.  I present to you Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders and Cecil.” 
 “Paytre, I can’t,” I implored him as he motioned Cecil forward.  In fact, I was shaking so hard that I thought I would fall because my knees felt like jelly.
“Too late now,” he replied gruffly, guiding Cecil into the main tent to a cacophony of applause.
The wrinkled gray elephant plodded into the ring, Paytre at his head, dressed in black.  Cecil’s harness glittered with red rhinestones and silver mirrors as Paytre led him to the center of the ring and commanded him to kneel.  He got down on one knee and I came skipping in from the other side of the Big Top, panting heavily from the stage fright I was experiencing.  I wore a bright red costume with black trim and a black and red headdress. 
The crowd screamed and clapped as I approached Cecil’s huge frame.  I stood to one side of the elephant and Paytre looked at me reassuringly, giving him a circular motion with his hand while he called out.  Cecil reached down for me with his trunk and picked me up, to delight of the onlookers.  He held me aloft for all to see while I waved and smiled, then set me gently back on the floor.  Numbly, I climbed up the elephant’s foreleg, posing, one hand on Cecil’s halter and one foot on his leg.  My head lay close to the elephant’s face and his ears fanned me.  I jumped down again and at Paytre’s instruction, the pachyderm picked me up in his trunk, swinging me over his shoulder to his neck.  Cecil began walking around the ring while I quickly rose from a sitting position to a stand. 
My first trick was a half-somersault, near his rump, ending in a handstand.  I got through the ordeal, surprising myself as my reflexes kicked in, and I managed to perform a whole act devised of tricks I had practiced and learned with the bareback riders and had redesigned to work on Cecil.  Children in the front row sat spellbound, watching me and the gray pachyderm work as one.  As a grand finale, Cecil stood with his front feet on the huge drum.  I made my way to his head and stood upright. 
As Cecil got off the drum his trunk came up and he snatched me off his back, returning me to the floor to stand next to Paytre.  The crowd clapped and catcalled, stamping their feet.  Amidst the deafening roar, I realized our act was over and heard the audience screaming “more, more,” until I agreed to do another trick.  This time Cecil wrapped me in his trunk, lifting me into the air, where I waved to the crowd before being set on both feet on the hard-packed dirt arena.  Paytre led us triumphantly out of the ring as I threw kisses.
The euphoria I felt at that moment, after my first performance on Cecil, was never to be repeated again for as long as I rode him in the circus.  “You were fantastic, Inzared,” Paytre beamed as he hugged me backstage.  “You are truly a good performer.  I am so proud of you.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” shouted Shandor.  “That concludes tonight’s circus.  Thank you for coming.  Be sure to stop by and watch Big Joe and Besnik the bear in the menagerie tent on your way out.  For only one nickel you can watch Besnik perform tricks you have never seen before, I guarantee.  Tomorrow night is our final performance in Stone Creek.  Good night.”
With these last words, Shandor turned sharply on his heel and walked out of the ring.  Cheering, clapping, and yelling ensued, swelling to a crescendo like an offshore ocean wave before subsiding, as people formed a single file line and made their way out of the stands.  

L.Leander is an e-book author, freelancer and songwriter.  She writes for Yahoo! Content and does guest posts on author blogs and groups.  As a child L.Leander dreamed of running away to join the circus.  Instead, she grew up to write about it, bringing the magic alive for all who read her work. 

Ms. Leander currently resides between Wisconsin and Mexico.  INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders is the first book in a series about a Gypsy wagon circus in pre-Civil War America.


L.Leander’s Reviews and Interviews: http://lleandersreviewsandinterviews.wordpress.com/

Twitter:  @lleander11


Video Trailer:  http://youtu.be/lQHtsFQGAP0

Amazon UK Link: http://tinyurl.com/by8xlwk