Friday, 31 January 2014

So ... April it is, then

So it seems 2014 is turning into a bit of a squirmy brat for me. It started out really good. All bright and full of potential and knowing this would be the year The Rogue King Saga kicked off.

Seriously, I should know better by now.

Bumps in my path swerved me off-road for a bit. I'm not going into major details, but the dual stresses of needing new bed and my fiancĂ©'s potential surgery weighed me down. The former, of course, took every penny we had on hand. Grinding The Rogue King's publication to a halt.


But thanks to some quick-smart wrangling by my family, the potentially terrible crisis of waiting until next year has dropped to being a brief pause in the final edits. I've still got a lot of work to do ... now that I can, like getting my domain up and running. And I'll be jumping on the proof as soon as I hear from my editor. I'm fully prepared for the paperback to take a while to get here. I'm on the other side of the world, after all.

And seeing this is the first story I ever wrote, the one that's been with me for close to seventeen years now, I've long considered it as "the big one". So I'd like to give my first novel an appropriate send off into the world. To make that possible, the release date will need be moving two months to the 22nd of April 2014.




So I'm both a touch bummed and elated.
There are still some bright points: I've got all the edits done for Golden Dawn, which is coming out with MuseitUp Publishing this spring, and I've only just finished up with their cover artist. Whereas on the home front, my fiancĂ©, thankfully, won't be needing surgery (for now, anyway) and that's a load off my mind, I assure you.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Introducing...

Name: Myina
Story: Witch of Morthin
Status: Mirror-mender

In this tale, the witches are both an integrated part of the kingdom and yet still a separate community. So when something drastic happened to one of my Main Characters, the surrounding people knew exactly who to call. And enter Myina.
It's just as well, really, as my other Main Character is clueless on these matters.


I don't know if it's just me, but there really is something about an elderly woman with magic that automatically demands respect.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Love is in the Air Blogfest

Here we are. All ready for The Love is in the Air Blogfest. Hosted by the group who run Unicorn Bell who say...
"It's a celebration of that little thing called love. Be it steamy or sweet, puppy, kitty, teen, aggravating, first kiss or final goodbye, let your scene tug at our heartstrings."


In that note, here's a little something from the beginning of The Rogue King seeing as its release is likely to be delayed for at least a month, if not longer...

****

Koral scratched on Cesei's tent flap. Like the unsecured canvas, his stomach fluttered. He carefully fingered the pale flower. Its fragrance wafted up through the half-open petals to greet him. Hopefully she would like it. That's what you were meant to give women, wasn't it? They liked flowers.
What if she doesn't? They'd only begun speaking to each other a week ago. A scant eight days was hardly enough time to know anyone, but if he was to try his hand at courting it might as well be now, where his failure wouldn't be quite so embarrassing. After all, he was to leave in three more weeks.
He was ready to admit to anyone he'd no idea what he was doing beyond a few glimpses of Jacob's romance films. All the kissing and ridiculous situations the people got into, especially the brainless men, hadn't interested him back then. Now he sorely wished he'd watched at least one of the movies to their conclusion.
The tent flap opened. Cesei's lithe form filled the entrance. "Koral?" She smiled and it was like greeting a new day. "Why this is a pleasant surprise."
Koral took in her delicate, clinging gown with a single heart-stopping sweep. All the moisture fled his mouth. "I—" His gaze dropped to the flower. The warmth flooding his face had little to do with the setting suns at his back. "I picked this." He thrust it towards her. The bud trembled in his grip. "F-for you," he managed to say before he lost full control of his tongue.
Laughter, deep and undoubtedly male, came from inside the tent. "A flower?" the unseen man jeered. "Is that miserable plant the best you can do?"
His heart plummeted to his talons. Of course she would have other suitors. He expected nothing less when it came to someone as beautiful as her. Tears stung his eyes and threatened to blur his vision. Koral blinked them back. He would not cry over this, wouldn't give his mocking rival the satisfaction of more ammunition to taunt him with.
Cesei's delicate nose wrinkled. She rolled her eyes. "Oh give it up, Qwir. You think picking on him is going to impress me? Here!" She threw something over her shoulder at the man. It landed with a jingle. "You can keep your cheap bracelet. Maybe that tart of a katess, Osala, would spread her legs for your dross, but I won't." Her teeth bared in a dangerously cheerful grin, she turned back to Koral. "Care to go for a walk?"
He blinked and struggled to find his voice. "S-sure."
They strolled in silence through the camp until they left the tents behind. He followed Cesei as she wandered between the mostly-vacant walfre pens. A few of the animals lifted their heads as they passed, watching whilst they chewed, only to return to grazing on the scant grasses and flowers dotting the sand. The place would be packed come the dawn when a fresh herd was expected from up north.
Finally, before they came upon the sturdier pens corralling the walfre bulls, Cesei stopped walking. "So, even you come bearing a gift to my tent." She leant against a crate and tapped the pale bud against her chin. "What do you think a flower is worth?"
Koral rubbed the back of his neck. "Worth?" he echoed, struggling to understand what she was asking. Why would she care about its value? Was she expecting jewels? But she'd tossed the bracelet away, had left Qwir's side to be with him and the man was a fit, skilled raptereon. Everything Koral wasn't. I am never going to understand women.
She waved the flower about like a knife. "A woman only gets gifts when a man is looking for a little something, be it a kiss or marriage. The more impressive the prize, the more he's looking for." She swept her hand, indicating the surrounding pens where dozens of the same flower sprinkled the sands. "Your gift clearly didn't cost you a thing." Her bright blue eyes narrowed. "So are you the type who wants something for nothing?"
Never before did he think it possible to feel the blood draining from his face. His thoughts rushed back to what she'd said about Osala. "N-no. I ... I didn't expect anything in return. I..." He swallowed, desperate to be rid of the horrible papery sensation coating his tongue. "I just thought you might appreciate the smell." He ducked his head and, with his cheeks burning, mumbled, "It reminds me of you."
She arched a brow at him. "The walfre's might go mad for these, but they don't have a scent."
That can't be right. He had smelt their fragrance from the first time he went near the pens. "They do."
Pursing her lips, Cesei buried her nose into the flower and inhaled deeply. She shrugged. "Like I said. Nothing."
Koral frowned. It didn't make sense. Why could she not smell what he did? His gaze slid back to the pens. The flowers dotted the sands like weeds, growing stronger than the grass. Was he the only one who could smell them? "But they smell amazing," he mumbled. They were the most fragrant flowers he'd ever come across, almost delicious in their appeal.
"Really?" Cesei shoved the bud under his nose. "Then describe it for me."
He gently took the flower from her and breathed in its aroma. "It's like how I imagine the summer rain smells after a drought: fresh and sweet, yet still a little bit ... hot." The longer he lingered over the flower, the surer his opinion of his comparison grew. "Do you remember the how it smelt when they stewed those bushels of freshly-picked gukoh contra last week?" Having skipped breakfast, the faint hint of the cooking fruit had set his stomach rumbling for hours.
She licked her lips, clearly remembering more than the smell, and nodded. "Does it really smell that good?"
"Better."
Her mouth curved into a smile, the tip of a fang poking out between her lips. "It sounds divine." She leant over and he felt the hot brush of her lips against his cheek. Plucking the flower from his unresisting hand, Cesei held it up to her nose. Her snout scrunched in regret. "I do wish I could smell it like you. It's so weird that you can."
He jerked back. "Weird?" So she was more fascinated by him than flattered. He should've known he couldn't compete with the other young men. She must think I'm an idiot.
"Don't pull that face, Koral. I didn't mean you, personally, were weird. I think you're sweet." She patted his other cheek, turned his head and gave him another peck. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Unable to speak, he watched her walk back towards her tent, brushing the flower against her nose. She kissed me. Koral touched his cheek. She kissed me! Twice! He let out a whoop and, his face flaming, dove behind the crate just as she turned around.
Cesei's laughter reached him, melodious without a trace of mocking. She thinks I'm sweet. He sat down and leant his head back on the crate, the planks giving a faint, protesting creak. His heart hammered so fast he expected his chest to explode at any moment. Unbidden, his hand brushed his cheek again. He could get used to this feeling.
Maybe when it became his time to leave, he could convince Cesei to come with him.

****

Don't forget to pop over to Unicorn Bell and see the other participants.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Review of The Key of Kilenya by Andrea Pearson

I bring you a Sami edition review.
In other words, it was written by my seven-year-old daughter on a book that is vaguely for her reading level...

Yes, that's her kindle
Title: The Key of the Kilenya
Author: Andrea Pearson
Rating: 5/5

It had heaps and heaps and heaps of magic! And there were special healing trees. And all the bad guys got defeated in the end and it was cool!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Introducing...

Name: Carine Kiana
Story: The Shadow Prince
Status: Lady

Doesn't she look so sweet? Does it fool you? It certainly fooled me for a good many years.
Being born the heir of her mother's estate means she has a certain snobbishness about her. Ha! Who am I kidding? She's so stuck up and self-assured when it comes to her entitlements that I'm still looking for the stick seventeen years later.


Most of my animalistic characters are modelled, at least appearance-wise, on an Earthen animal. And for Carine, it was a puma. And I'm actually quite pleased with her face in this as it's the first time I've tried making a texture from scratch that looks even remotely like what I wanted.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Playlists...

School holidays + seven-year-old = no writing or critiquing for mummy.
Mmurble

-------------------------------

But it's true, I've been addicted to linking songs to my stories for many, many years. Seriously, who hasn't ever listened to a song, any song, and linked it to their novel?

Often the songs come after (sometimes well after) I've written the scenes or at least during the plotting. There are exceptions of course, like during Nanowrimo where I was humming Titanium by David Guetta & Sia for several chapters.
Then there are the songs that spark a flurry of writing. My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark by Fall Out Boy recently did that for me, having me rewrite one agonist's death.

But the most surprise I've had is the playlist I managed to get for The Rogue King whilst tinkering on Spotify. There are bits missing from it, mainly because I haven't come across the right song, but I'm quite pleased how the main points came together without me even trying...

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Introducing...

Name: Asar/Osiris
Story: Anubis' Handmaiden
Status: God

Commonly known as King of the Underworld and the first mummy. He started off as the god of agriculture and nature as well as being, in the beginning, king of Egypt. According to some text, during that time, he mistook his sister, Nephthys, for his wife, Isis ... er ... several times ... leading to children: Anubis and, later, Bata (but those two are a whole other story involving the removal of bits).
Anyway, Asar was eventually killed by his brother, Set. He was first entombed and then, when that didn't work, Set chopped him up and scattered him about Egypt (which started the whole battle between uncle and nephew).
I picture him as more of a weary father tired of his sons and their bickering by the time my story kicks off. No matter how patient you are, it's got to get on your nerves after the first thousand years. Of course, it doesn't help him that he's the agonist. Note to self: gods shouldn't meddle in your boy's love life).



I'm in love with his beard. Love, love, love it! Had to jump through quite a number of hoops to get it.
And, yes, I went with the green version rather than the black. I always think green skin when I think of Asar.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

No Kiss Blogfest

Yeah! What better way to kick off 2014 than with a blogfest?

Laccindy & Jarend
So when I participated in the No Kiss Blogfest last year, it was with a scene from Dark One's Mistress.

This year, I'm getting a little ... non-human with a piece from A Game of Cat and Horse. Basically the whole 1100 word, first-drafted chapter. It's not like there's a word limit and it is practically the only no-kissing scene in the whole novella.

So, explanations ... to keep it simple:
She has no clue about his feelings. In the previous chapter, he hauled her from the initiation she willingly participated in where most people in the community all ... get it on ... in one big group.


***


Laccindy rubbed furiously at her hair, grumbling as the towel seemed to grow damper with each scrub while her hair got no drier. Her fur was now stripped of all traces of sand and sweat. The warm water had drawn the aches from her body. All she wished to do now was seek her bed and sleep until the following afternoon.

But first, she had to get her darn hair to dry. The stuff was like a sponge.

Jarend watched her battle from the entrance, no doubt believing himself to be casually guarding her privacy. He needn't bother. No man — well, at least, no Rogue — would venture down here with the ceremony above still playing itself out. They would come later, like a mindless herd, to wash away the sand and sweat, but she would be long gone by then.

What worried her more was how he'd been silent, so heartachingly different, the whole time she bathed. Yet, she was certain he hadn't taken his eyes off her since she entered the water. Had his opinion of her diminished now she was a Roguess? If only he would say something. Anything.

Abandoning her hair, she instead turned to the task of clothing herself. Roguess or no, it wouldn't do for her to wander about naked. Yet her robe was somewhere on the mound and certainly not in one piece, while all her other clothes resided in her room.

She rummaged in the pile of freshly-washed clothing, unearthing a loincloth and a thin strip of linen she could use to bind her breasts. Such items required no more effort to don than the tying of a few knots which were completed in seconds. Clothed, or at least covered in the most basic sense, she returned to attacking her hair with a fresh towel.

Jarend stirred. His hoof-falls echoed sharply across the cavern's wide expanse as he marched into the depths of the laundry. "Come here." He rolled an empty barrel into the light, upended it and patted the base. "Sit."

Puzzled, Laccindy plonked herself on the barrel. Hot, dry air engulfed her head and he ran his fingers through her hair, carefully untangling each knot he came across. The heat rolling off his fingers ran across her ears, drying and smoothing out the ruffled fur. She closed her eyes, warmth pooling in her stomach as he continued. Such a simple, innocent pleasure should not feel this good.

He eventually stopped, leaving her strangely bereft. "There we go," he whispered. "Now you don't look as if you got caught out in the rain."

Smiling, she scooted around atop the barrel to face him and found herself speechless. There was something about his eyes which pulled at her. Their smoky-golden depths seemed to burn with an unquenchable inner fire.

An unexpected flush of longing hit her as she continued to stare into those molten pools held fast by a desire to be one of the few who had lain with him, the need growing stronger with each passing second. Her hand lifted from her thigh, itching to touch him. Heat radiated off his skin. His chest heaved with each rasping breath.

Jarend grew still. His gaze dropped to her hand, then flicked back up.

She licked her lips, unable to take her eyes off his face, framed as it was by his mostly white hair. Much of his shoulders and head were swathed in red fur, the only exception being a tiny patch of white adorning his left cheek, which encroached upon his lips, not quite touching the corner. Laccindy shuffled to the edge of the barrel. Such a spot begged to be kissed. Perhaps if she was quick enough she could—

You could ... what? a part of her grumbled. Her hand fell back to grip the barrel's rim. Do you really think he'd let you just because you want to try? He was more likely to be appalled at the thought rather than flattered. The notion was unlikely to have crossed his mind. Jarend probably still saw her as a child. Except he knows I'm anything but.

It was possible he hadn't been ready to see her go through such a change as the step she'd taken tonight. Or even her choice to lie with Buven in the week prior to her initiation. That would explain why he'd suddenly grown so distant and irritable. She didn't want to hurt him, to lose his company just because she was no longer a little girl.

Then why did the thought of him being bothered by her new status seem so wickedly delightful?

Desperately trying to quell the rising heat in her face that threatened to singe all the fur from her skin, she sought to stand. "I—" Believing the ground to be nearer, she misjudged her footing and fell into his arms. Laccindy clung to him, her chest close to bursting. Her legs were going to give out entirely, she was certain of it.

One corner of his mouth twitched into a smile. His breath danced upon her throat. The hands holding her upright tightened about her waist, drawing her closer. "Yes?" The husky way he spoke tingled along her spine.

She cleared her throat. What was wrong with her? She'd been with four other men since Buven, not including the three who'd taken her tonight. Being in Jarend's arms — his strong and deliciously sure arms — should not have this effect on her. She was a katess, not some dainty equinean woman who could be swayed by a powerful man. They should be on equal footing.

With great reluctance, Laccindy relinquished her hold on him. He was not her equal. Had her mother not said that a woman, any woman, was stronger than a man? Then why do I feel so weak? If she didn't regain her senses soon, she was going to require being carried to her chambers. By him. Like how he'd cradled her back on the initiation mound, acting as if she weighed nothing to him. "I ... I am going back to my room now."

He nodded slowly and she was certain his smile had taken on a smug edge. Could he sense her weakening? "I'll escort you there. Just in case you chance upon a Rogue."

Laccindy stiffened. She'd walked these tunnels many times without being accosted. Should it not be easier now she was a Roguess? But Jarend had forcefully withdrawn her from the festivities outside. By rights, she should still be out on the sand being ... taken. Those men who'd pounced on her after Buven had not been gentle. Had they known of her relative inexperience? As if they would care.

She shuddered, doing her best to banish the chill lifting her fur, and smiled up at Jarend. "Escort away." At least she could trust him. Even in her weakest moments.


***

If you haven't already, be sure to drop by Amalia Dillin's blog to check out the scenes from the other participants (I know I am).

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Come at me 2014!

So the New Year ticked around, heralding my father's birthday ... I'm suffering from major overeating as I type this. As we tend to celebrate his birthday more than the arrival of a new year, things like resolutions and goals and thinking about the past year isn't top of our family list.

That being said, there are a few highlights in last year...

On the literary side of things, there was the two contracts: one for Dark One's Mistress, the other for Golden Dawn. And, of course, there was the release of Dark One's Mistress itself, which has prompted my other half to read it. I also participated in Nanowrimo for the first time and won, even as I fought off the worst cold I've ever had.

But it wasn't all words and books. Most of the good memories in the real life are filled with my daughter, who is now seven, and her delighted face. Like when she discovered her cat had won tenth place throughout the whole country and would be in this years magazine.
More recently, she asked Santa for "just three things": an eReader, an Applejack My Little Pony (to replace the one the dog chewed), and anything with a horse on it. I'll never forget the look of amazement on my daughter's face as she unwrapped her presents and everything was there.


What am I hoping for in this new year?
Not much. Maybe less powercuts and no colds. That would be nice.
Oh, and not too many bumps in releasing Golden Dawn and The Rogue King.