Cursed with forbidden knowledge, 19-year-old Dela must hide her secret from her nomadic tribe or face exile into the frozen wasteland of the Bitters...
becomes separated from her people during a blizzard, a mysterious and dangerous
wanderer named Talon promises to help her find her way back to them. She
quickly learns that nothing is what it seems, that her curse may actually be a gift,
and that the Bitters are far more dangerous than she could have imagined.
Packed with unexpected twists, Bittersouls is a mixture of survival, adventure, and slow-burn romance that is sure to get your heart pounding.
read an excerpt...
On the southern side of the Basin, the titanic peaks of the Skytooth Mountains broke the horizon from east to west. They’d all seen them before, every year on their pilgrimage, but the range never failed to invoke both awe and terror. The pass would be open for a month, at least, and beyond that, they’d find the herdlands where they tracked during the coldest part of the year.
They pitched camp in the lee of the mountains, just out of reach of the worst of a steadily rising wind. They ate their evening meal, speaking softly, each of them feeling a growing uneasiness even before the light descended. With the brilliance of the sunset to the west, it was tempting to focus on its beauty, ignoring all else. But as the Flame Above took shelter below the ice for the night, Dela found herself with the others on the eastern edge of camp, staring in horror at the horizon.
“A storm?” Dela’s eyes narrowed.
“Storm? No.” Hunter Umbar gaped at it. “That’s far too small a word. A squall like that doesn’t scour the Skytooths except for once every ten winters.”
“I remember nothing like it,” Mors said.
“We’re normally far ahead of it,” Minister Dolam muttered. “One protect us, we moved too slowly.”
“Or it came early,” the Carver suggested.
The Minister shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. That storm will close the pass. […] We must walk the night.”
about L.A. Morton-Yates...
A life-long lover of the magic of storytelling, L.A. wrote his first story at the age of 7 and has been writing ever since. Speculative fiction, particularly fantasy, has always held a special place in his heart for the uniqueness of the places and the questions it can address. Though veiled by apparent strangeness, he has always seen it as capable of revealing deeper truth about our own reality.
L.A. graduated from Montana State University in 2015 with Honors in Biochemistry and a minor in Music Composition. This helped nurture his critical thinking and research skills which continue to be instrumental to his writing. During his collegiate years, he also met the love of his life, Julie, whom he later married. At once his greatest supporter and his staunchest critic (when he is wrong, which is more often than he’d like to admit), she has been an integral part of his creative process ever since.
In February of 2018, L.A. became the father of his first son, Griffin. His second son, Tiber, was born in December of 2019 and his third son, Malachi, was born in January of 2022. Though life has become considerably busier since he became a family man, L.A. continues to work on writing in what little spare time he can find. He hopes to one day pass on his love of literature to his sons.
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more personal "stuff" about L.A.
about his writing...
inspired you to write this book?
"Set The Fire To The Third Bar" by Snow Patrol gave me my very first glance into the world of Bittersouls. It was little more than an image at first that I spun into a few worldbuilding notes. After some excitement and prompting from my wife to actually write it, I began my journey to actually figure out what the story was about.
Can you share something about the book that isn’t covered in the blurb?
Bittersouls is a journey through a mysterious and harsh land. One of the things that I think really gives the book its spark is that some of the mysteries of the world are never explained. Everything that you need to know for the plot to work is there, but the setting retains a sense of wonder and magic that I think is really compelling.
If you had to describe your protagonist(s), in three words, what would those three words be and why?
Dela: Fierce, Gentle, Inquisitive
Stoic, Experienced, Capable
What was the most challenging part about writing your book?
Revision, hands down. Drafting is a process that I find incredibly satisfying, even when it isn't strictly fun. But revision? It just kind of sucks. It's very abstract, and it is hard to know if you are making any forward progress. It is absolutely a necessary process, but definitely the one that I struggle with the most.
Was there anything that you edited out of this book that would have drastically affected the story, should it be left in?
Absolutely. In one of my early drafts, the main character had a face-to-face encounter with what basically amounts to the evil god of the setting. It was a scene that I really liked, but it changed the nature and the focus of the story overall. In the end, I decided that it subtracted more than it added and it got cut.
What are you currently working on?
Right now I am in the final stages of revising a scifi novel called The Damned Earth about a lone explorer trying to make an alien world habitable for the last remnant of humanity while the mystery and the threat of what happened to the world's original inhabitants looms overhead. Like Bittersouls, it was planned as a standalone, but I do have some ideas about other books that take place in the same scifi universe, which I am currently calling "Lost Empyrean".
What would you tell an aspiring author who had some doubts about their writing abilities?
Nobody starts out knowing how to write. Natural ability may play some small part in a writer's success, but it comes second in every way to a writer's discipline, persistence, and dedication to their craft. If you have a passion for writing—if, like me, it isn't a choice, but a compulsion—then you have to stick to it. You have to put in the time, outlast the bad days, the self-doubt, the feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. You have to learn from others and take constructive criticism, above all seeking to hone your abilities. It may be soon, it may not, but in time, you will be writing things to be proud of.
about the "real person"
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I enjoy playing video games when I have some spare time and need to blow off some steam. I especially like games with a strong narrative or provocative atmosphere. As an audiophile, games with great soundtracks are a huge draw for me. I have been known to buy games simply because I found the soundtrack on Spotify and found it so compelling.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
According to my mother, I wanted to be a "space ship driver" at the age of 5. Though becoming an astronaut wasn't in the cards for me, I am pretty happy with my second choice: to write about imaginary "space ship drivers".
What’s for dinner tonight?
Pot roast with gravy over egg noodles, It has been going in the crockpot all day and the smell has filled the entire house. Pretty excited about it.
What would you rather be eating?
I love pot roast! It’s one of my favorite comfort foods. Can’t say I’d rather have something else right now (although maybe I could have something healthier?).
What would be a perfect day?
I wake up early, but don't feel tired. It's cloudy out, but warm. Maybe it will rain later today. I put on some quiet music before sitting down for some coffee and breakfast. Inspiration strikes me partway through, and I get the chance to write for a couple of hours before the boys wake up.
They slept in for once.
I feed them breakfast and we decide that it's a Lego day. As we sit down to build, my wife comes down with the baby, who is in a giggling mood. After he eats, he’s still in a good mood and happily sits in his swing to watch the activities. The older boys and I spend the morning building together while my wife enjoys some uninterrupted reading time.
After lunch, the boys go outside and somehow manage to not hurt themselves. They play some kind of imaginary game, and I wonder if one day either of them will be writers like me. They tell me all about it at dinner, and to my surprise, the story they tell almost makes sense. We watch a movie as a family in the evening and the boys go to bed without a fuss.
What is the best part of your day?
If a day includes a quiet, unrushed cup of coffee, I count it as a good day.
Tea or coffee: Coffee
Hot or cold: Weather? Cold. Drink? Hot.
Movie or book: Book
Morning person or Night owl: Morning person
City or country: Country, forest preferably.
Social Media or book: book
Paperback or ebook: I love the feel of paperback, but the convenience of ebook is hard to match.
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