(First, I don't know why the date says 3/15; I started the draft that day but I'm posting this on 3/21. Anyway, on with the post.)
When Silas met Lainie:
“You need any help?” he asked the girl.
“No, thanks.” She got to her feet, brushing dust off her pants. She also wore a gunbelt with a holstered revolver; Silas had no doubt she knew how to use the gun. “I better get on with my errands before they start shooting again. Hey, Gobby!” she shouted at the group of arguing men in the street. “The same thing from my Pa! He ever catches you on his land again, he’ll shoot you so full of holes you can piss from ten places at once!”
The bearded man’s face broke into a leering smile. “Miss Lainie, you tell your Pa for me that this land ain’t owned by no one an’ I’ll drill wherever, whenever, an’ –” he leered more broadly “– whoever I want.”
Miss Lainie responded with a rude gesture. Gobby went red above his beard, and the men from the Bootjack laughed. One corner of Silas’s mouth quirked up; he liked a woman with spirit.
He offered her his arm. “I’d be happy to escort you while you do your business, in case there’s any more trouble.”
She eyed him head to toe, her gaze lingering on the large revolver holstered at his left hip. Though firearms were considered anti-magical and were therefore forbidden in Granadaia, no mage hunter would last a nineday in the Wildings without one. Silas had specially modified this piece himself; mundane bullets alone couldn’t be depended on to take down a strong and highly skilled mage.
“My Pa don’t like me going around with strange men,” she said.
“Well, then. I’m Silas Vendine.” He added the usual name-slip charm as he spoke his name, to make it harder to remember, though it didn’t always work very well with other mages. Then he grinned at her. “I may be strange, but at least now you know my name.”
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This is posted elsewhere on the site, but just in case you never make it that far into the site, here's the first chapter of Beneath the Canyons (newly re-re-edited edition):
BITTERBUSH SPRINGS. FROM Silas’s vantage point in the rocky hills to the east, the town didn’t look like much, just a dozen or so wooden crates laid out in rows, brown and quiet in the hot summer sun. He reached out with his mage senses towards the town and the valley beyond, seeking the strange magic he had followed here.
There it was, strong, for him to have sensed it from several days’ distance, dark and alien, but at times mixed with flashes of more familiar kinds of power. A hell of a lot of magic for a place where no mage would dare show himself openly.
No doubt about it; something strange was going on in the Bitterbush Valley. And, with any luck, there would be a nice, big bounty in it for him from the Mage Council.
If not, some serious belt-tightening lay ahead of him. Five years of making a good living hunting renegade mages in the more settled eastern part of the Wildings had been shot to all the hells when a passel of greenfoot mage hunters flooded through the Gap from Granadaia, looking for quick, easy fame and fortune. Mostly what those amateurs had managed to do was chase away the smartest and most dangerous rogue mages, the ones who were worth the highest bounties.
With his money running low, Silas had come west to the more remote parts of the Wildings, hoping for better hunting. Rumors of a mining rush in the Bitterbush Valley had caught his ear, and not long after he set out to follow the rumors, he had sensed the bursts of unusual magical power coming from the area. It made sense; a mining rush was indeed just the sort of thing a rogue mage might try to horn in on, looking for quick riches. Though that darker power didn’t feel like any ordinary mage.
Silas surveyed the valley again. It looked like good cattle country, grassland bleached gold in the hot, dry weather, well-watered by seasonal washes and a handful of running streams. A number of ranch compounds and farms lay scattered the length of the valley from north to south, and herds of cattle and sheep roamed the rangeland. All signs of prosperity that might also provide tempting opportunities for a renegade mage.
Silas settled his hat firmly on his head, made sure his revolver was loaded, and checked that the shield inside him concealing his power was solidly in place and seamlessly camouflaged. It wouldn’t do to let the rogue mage, if there was one, know that another mage had arrived in town.
His Island-dark skin was another matter. It could give him away to both mages and mage-hating Plain settlers as a member of one of the elite Island mage families back in Granadaia, but there was nothing he could do to change that. Anyhow, his skin wasn’t so dark that it couldn’t be mistaken for a deep tan, and during his years in the Wildings, he had grown adept at passing himself off as a descendant of the servants and slaves the Island mages had brought with them to Granadaia.
With an earnest prayer to the Provider for good hunting and a fat bounty, he nudged Abenar, his big gray speckled gelding, into a walk. Keeping to the trail marked by stakes hung with white feathers, indicating safe passage through the A’ayimat-controlled hills, they headed down the pass.
As the trail descended into the valley, it turned into a road that crossed the valley from east to west. Silas followed the road into town, where it intersected with a second road running north and south, then stopped to get his bearings.
On the north side of the crossroads, two saloons, the Bootjack and the Rusty Widow, faced each other across the street like two gunfighters squaring off. Laughter and a discordant jangling of competing hammerboxes spilled out of the saloons. The Rusty Widow and the bank both boasted tall false fronts and fancy painted signs that looked brand new. In an empty lot southeast of the intersection, a large sign proudly proclaimed, Future Site of the Bitterbush Springs Grand Music Hall and Variety Theater. Towards the north end of town stood a half-built building of imposing size.
It looked like a large amount of money had recently come to town, more evidence of the mining rush – and more bait for renegades.
Silas turned right and rode up the street in search of stabling and a place to stay. Next to the Rusty Widow Saloon stood a two-story building, also sporting a new false front with Mundy’s Boarding House painted on it in elaborate letters. A big sign in the front window read, Rooms to let. 2g per nineday.
Silas let out a low whistle. Two gildings a nineday was an enormous sum for a room in a boarding house in the Wildings, especially this far west. This was going to make a bigger dent in his funds than he’d planned on.
The saloons probably had rooms to let on their upper floors as well, but those were likely to be just as expensive as the boarding house, not to mention more distracting. Not that Silas was averse to enjoying the amenities to be found in such establishments, but for now he needed to concentrate on work. And since there didn’t appear to be a hotel in town, the boarding house it would have to be.
On the other side of the boarding house stood a stable, where a boy was tossing pebbles into a circle scratched in the dirt of the yard. Silas rode over and gave the boy a penny to watch Abenar and his belongings for a moment. He took note of the smithy behind the stable; Abenar badly needed new shoes. Silas hoped getting a horse shod in this town wasn’t as expensive as renting a room in the boarding house.
He pulled on his long brown duster, which he had shed in the heat of the day and draped over the saddle behind him, then walked back to the boarding house to inquire about a room.
A crash from inside the saloon across the street caught his attention. He turned to see a big-bellied, bushy-bearded man come flying backwards through the swinging doors of the Bootjack. The man landed on his back in the street, then leaped to his feet with surprising speed for a fellow his size. A second, much thinner, man charged out of the saloon and plowed into him, knocking him down again. The two men tussled in a cloud of dust, rolling along the street until they came to a stop in front of the boarding house, the skinny man pinning the bearded man face down with a knee in the small of his back.
“I ever catch you digging on my land again, I’ll draw an’ quarter you an’ chop you up for dog feed!” the skinny man yelled. “You hear me, Gobby?”
In a blur of motion, Gobby twisted out from under the other man and dropped him with a blow to the jaw that sounded like an axe thunking into wood. “You threatening me, Redlun? Cause if you’re gonna threaten me, you better be ready to back it up!”
“Yeah, he’s threatening you,” said a man with an extravagant mustache who stood in front of the Bootjack. His right hand dropped to the holster at his hip and came up holding a six-shooter aimed straight at Gobby. “An’ I’ll back up his threats for him.”
Bullets were about to fly. Silas’s first instinct was to throw a protective shield around himself, but he suppressed it. The bullets dropping harmlessly to the ground, slowed by their passage through the shield, would give him away to any other mages who might be around and to the Plain folk of the town. He had more important things to do than deal with a bunch of Plains trying to hang him. Instead, he stepped back into the shadows of the covered wooden sidewalk in front of the rooming house and edged out of the possible line of fire. Without knowing anything about the dispute, he would do better to not get involved.
A handful of men burst out through the swinging door of the Rusty Widow, the saloon next to the boarding house, and stood clustered on the sidewalk, watching. Gobby, now also holding a gun, got to his feet and turned to face the mustached man across the street. “Well, Winnard? You think you can beat me?”
“I can –”
A gunshot exploded from the group in front of the Rusty Widow. Winnard tumbled back against the wall of the Bootjack and collapsed, blood spreading across the right shoulder of his shirt. More men came pouring out from both saloons, and wild gunfire erupted. A handful of stray bullets hit the wall of the boarding house next to Silas; he dove aside, holding onto his hat, and hit the sidewalk.
From up the street came a wild burst of magical power, panicked and uncontrolled, strong enough that Silas could feel it even through the shield on his own power. It felt familiar; he recognized it from the flares of magic that had led him to Bitterbush Springs.
He started to raise his head to try to spot the mage, then a bullet split a board in the wall of the rooming house not one arm-length above him. He pressed himself even flatter against the boards of the sidewalk as the shootout went on, praying to the Defender that the gunfire would stay away from the stables and Abenar.
Then, for no reason Silas could discern, the shooting stopped. “What’s all this, boys?” a deep, resonant voice called out into the sudden silence.
Silas raised his head. Three men lay sprawled in the street. One was writhing in pain, the other two were still. The shooters who were still standing had all lowered their guns and were looking at the Rusty Widow. Silas turned his head to follow their gaze.
A tall man with a hearty build, handsome, pale face, and luxuriant black mustache was standing in front of the saloon. He wore a finely-fashioned black suit and black flat-brimmed hat. Two house ladies bedecked in lace and ruffles appeared behind him, clinging to his arms and peering around him into the street.
“Redlun an’ Winnard threatened me, Mr. Carden, sir,” Gobby said. “Me an’ the fellas was just defending ourselves.”
Silas stood up, making sure his hat was still in place, and brushed dust from his long brown coat. He kept close to the wall, in the shadow of the overhang, curious about this man who had the power to stop a gunfight just by appearing.
The black-suited man turned and put his arms around the house ladies. “Go back inside, my dears. No need to worry yourselves.”
The ladies retreated into the saloon, and Carden stepped down from the wooden walkway into the street. He stopped in front of Gobby, shaking his head. “Don’t tell me you went into the Bootjack again, Gobby,” he said in a genial tone. The crispness of an educated Granadaian accent underlay his informal Wildings speech. “You know damn well that’s rancher territory. You’re stupid enough to keep going in there, you deserve whatever you get.”
“When are you gonna start paying us for the ore that was taken off our land, Carden?” shouted Winnard, the wounded man in front of the Bootjack. The right side of his shirt was soaked with blood, but judging by the anger in his voice, he was a long way from dead.
“If you have a difference with me, Winnard, I’d be happy to discuss it peacefully,” Carden replied. “There’s no need for anyone to be shooting anyone else.”
Two men helped Winnard up, then they and several other men from the Bootjack walked over to Carden and started arguing with him. Gobby and some of the men from the Rusty Widow joined in. A whip-thin, bandy-legged man with a silver sword-shaped badge pinned to his shirt came over as well, but he stood back and remained silent.
Silas couldn’t make out what the men were saying, but their argument wasn’t what interested him the most at the moment. Taking care to avoid attracting any attention, he walked up the street towards where the burst of magic had come from.
If you want to read the rest of the story, Beneath the Canyons is available to download for free - yes, that's F-R-E-E! as part of these fabulous giveaways:
Okay, so it's been a while. After I released Heir of Tanaris, I did a re-edit of the whole Daughter of the Wildings series, fixing up a few things I wasn't quite satisfied with, and also brushed up the blurbs. And Write Dream Repeat Book Design did these nifty new title treatments on the covers!
Pretty cool, huh? :) All six books wouldn't fit on the banner she made for me; you can check them all out on the series page.
To celebrate the update, Beneath the Canyons is only 99 cents until after New Year's.
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So now it's on to updating the paperback versions and also doing the paperback of Heir of Tanaris, and the revision of Defenders of the Wildings. Yes, this is a thing, even though it's been delayed a while. The whole thing is written, I just need to beat it into shape. As part of that process, I made a Story Grid of the entire series. It's pretty long, so I couldn't fit it all into one picture. Here's the left side, from the start to the first part of Book 5 (Books 5 and 6 are a lot longer than books 1-4), partly because I forgot in the first draft to put the plot in book 1; what's in the grid is a skeleton plot that will need to be fleshed out a little more):
And here's the right side:
As you can see, I had fun with my colored gel pens :) The pacing and flow, the ups and downs of the different storylines, actually came out pretty good. I don't have to make a lot of adjustments to the story structure. The actual writing... That's another story (lol). At this moment, I'm well on the way through typing up the final revision outline and notes, and I should be ready to start marking that puppy up with the red pen this week. This revision method takes a lot of planning, but saves a lot of time and trouble later on. If I think of something I need to add, delete, or change, it's just a matter of making the changes in my revision outline, rather than having to go back and rewrite something I've already rewritten once. I'll probably have to do some of that anyway, but planning it all out ahead of time will keep it to a minimum.
So this should keep me busy for a while. I'll post updates whenever I have something interesting to report. In the meantime, I've got a stockpile of short stories waiting to be edited and posted or released for sale, when I get a chance, so watch for those.
You may or may not notice a slight difference in the site banner and the cover gallery over to the side - I've done a slight refresh of the cover of Beneath the Canyons, and also got a shiny new cover for the Daughter of the Wildings boxed set! Here it is in all its glory:
Write, Dream, Repeat Book Design put that beauty together for me :D
And here's my refresh of the Canyons cover:
Same awesome art by Mominur Rahman, but I adjusted the color and lighting a bit and changed the color on the lettering to bring out that magical glow thing happening around the edges of Silas and Lainie, coming off of the ore they're holding, and also cropped in a little closer on the characters so that the magic is a more prominent element.
Anyway, as for actual books, I'm still chugging along. I've been slightly less exhausted this week than I was last week, but my brain is very unfocused. I'm mainly concentrating my efforts on the second big revision of Heir of Tanaris right now; I want to get that done and edited and released. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say end of September, but I can't make any guarantees this far out.
Once Heir of Tanaris is out, I'll turn my full focus (such as it is) to Defenders of the Wildings. I've got another story/series idea I want to work on, that I think I can set in the Islands of the Wildings world, but first I'll just work on the big edit on Defenders. It's almost scary how much work it's going to need, but I'm trying out a process that I hope will let me cut my two major revisions down to one. I also have a bunch of short stories I've been meaning to get to in the evenings on days when I get my full quota of work done during the day, but that never happens. At least I'm making progress, slow though it may be.
Checking in with a quick update on how my current projects are coming along. I'm finishing up the second major revision on Source-Breaker, the next novel I'll be releasing. After that comes the last few rounds of edits; hopefully, this will be ready to release by mid-December. I feel like it's been going really slow, partly because I've had a lot of disruptions and the CFS is really kicking me in the backside right now, and also because there's been a fair amount of work with adjusting characterizations and things like that. But one I get through the bottleneck of those big changes, it should go a lot faster.
The other major project I'm working on right now is the first draft of Defenders of the Wildings, the follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings. I'm writing it all at once, like one big book; it doesn't divide up neatly into separate novels like Daughter did. It's more episodic, like a TV serial, and I'll probably end up releasing it that way. Like with Daughter, what I thought would be the end of Defenders actually wasn't and I needed to add a whole other part, bringing the action back to where it started to finish everything off. But now, after a couple of false starts and more than 150,000 words, I'm within 10,000 - 15,000 words of the end, I think. Lot of work still to go, to get it revised and cleaned up and ready to release, but Daughter of the Wildings has been picking up a whole bunch of new readers lately and I'm eager to offer more Silas and Lainie sixguns and sorcery to the world.
And just to prove that yes, this thing really does exist, here's the prologue from Defenders (unedited, straight from my brain to the keyboard):
Amber Bay shone gold, the color of its name, in the lengthening light of the late afternoon sun as three men disembarked from the Sea Dragon, the large sailing ship that had docked just a short time ago. All three of them strode down the gangplank with an air of authority -- they knew they were where they were supposed to be, and they knew what they were supposed to do. One was a tall, portly man in a long, richly-embroidered robe tied with a broad blue sash. His fair skin was burned red by the sun and wind of weeks at sea; a round, flat-topped cap sat atop his white-blond hair. The second man was nearly as tall, thin, with amber skin and curling red hair cropped close to his head. He wore a well-tailored dark suit, in the manner of wealthy businessmen on this continent, as did the third man. This man was short and powerfully muscled, ebony-skinned with a long black braid trailing down his back.
As they stepped off the gangplank, followed by a knot of half a dozen retainers and assistants, a man on shore came forward from the crowd to meet them. He was tall, dark-skinned as though deeply tanned and dark-haired, also wearing a well-made dark suit. His right forefinger sported a broad gold ring set with a dark red stone. He bowed to the three men who had just come off the ship. "Underministers. Welcome to Amber Bay and the Wildings."
The three men nodded to him. "You are Mr. Desavias?" the tall, fair-haired man asked.
He nodded. "I am. At your service, Underministers."
"You have the items that were discussed?" the red-haired man asked.
"I do, Underministers. That is, I have constructed a prototype according to your instructions, and we have procured more of the substance to fuel it." He nodded to his side, and a fifth man stepped forward. This man was of middling height, lean and muscular, with skin a pale lavender bordering on gray and long dark red hair twisted into thick, ropy locks. He wore tanned leather leggings and no shirt, and was carrying a metal-bound wooden box, with sides about the length of his forearms.
"That is the substance?" the fair-haired man asked Desavias.
But it was the lavender-skinned man who answered them, speaking the tongue they spoke in with surprising fluency. "It is. A gift from the P'wagimet people in exchange for the Continental Alliance's considerations in the past and in the future. This is only a sample. Greater quantities are being safely stored in the place where the weapons will be made."
"Excellent," the fair-haired man said, though he still addressed his words to Desavias rather than the P'wagimet man. "And this... material works as promised?"
"It has been extensively tested, Underminister. I think you three gentlemen and your leaders will be more than pleased," Desavias answered.
"Good," the red-haired underminister said, but the third foreigner's brow creased in concern.
"Are we certain that this is absolutely necessary?" he asked his companions. "It seems to me that the cost is far greater than any benefit this tactic might provide. Even considering the generous donation of the key material by this man's people." He nodded to the P'wagimet man.
The other two men looked at him. "If you are having doubts, Mr. Cajali," the fair-haired one said, "please feel free to express your doubts to the Commissioner and ask to be removed from this mission."
Cajali's dark face blanched grayish. "I... of course I'm not having doubts, Mr. Dorbich. If you and Mr. Semov are convinced that this measure is necessary in proportion to its cost to the success of the mission, then I will not argue with that. Expansion and Regulation are your realms of expertise, not mine; I will continue to concern myself only with affairs of business."
"When you gentlemen have rested from your journey, we will discuss preparations for the journey to the outpost," Desavias said. "Of course, because of the difficulties in transporting the devices, they must be manufactured much closer to the Wildings -- what you call the Middle Lands. And it is more convenient to have headquarters there, as well."
Lut Dorbich, Underminister of Expansion for the Continental Alliance's foray into this new continent, looked at his companions. "Thank you. I believe we will be ready to depart Amber Bay in the morning. We have been forced into inactivity during the long journey; it is time to begin moving forward. Are we agreed on that?"
Yugalis Semov, Underminister of Regulation, nodded in agreement. After a brief hesitation, Gidejoni Cajali, Underminister of Enterprise, nodded as well.
"Very good," Desavias said. "I have a carriage waiting right over here, to take you to your hotel. Follow me, please."
Following the mage and the P'wagimet man, the three Underministers walked to a carriage waiting near the busy, crowded pier and climbed in.
Hey, it rhymes! Anyway, in honor of Halloween, here's a spooky scene from For the Wildings, book 6 of Daughter of the Wildings (spoilers redacted).
He walked back out beyond the edge of the town to where Lainie was waiting with Mala and Abenar, who were grazing on some dead grass sticking up through the thin layer of snow. The gloomy sky was darkening to what would be a moonless night, Darknight. The dark of the moon was not a night for lingering in a place of death. Silas shivered, and not just from the cold.
“You done?” Lainie asked, her face still wan. “See anything?”
“Nothing but death,” he answered.
Her eyes strayed back to the town. “I don’t want to sleep this close to… that. Not with all those ghosts around and tonight being Darknight.”
“Me either.” He had said the rites, but on Darknight, the one night of the month with no moon and given to no god, when the gods hid their faces from the earth, it was harder for spirits to find their way to the Afterworld.
They mounted up and rode another league or so away from the town, far enough away that the smells and restless spirits were much less noticeable. There was no sign of livestock on the range out here; neither had there been any in town, unusual for a ranching town. Maybe the cattle let out to range in the area knew better than to come near this haunted place.
Silas pitched the tent. Using dead branches from a small copse of scrub oak, he dredged up a spark of power and lit a campfire. It might attract attention, but the midwinter Darknight was no time to be outside without a fire. He spread out his old coat and blanket by the fire, and practiced using a drying spell to extract most of the water. It was clumsy and difficult, like trying to saddle a horse with just one hand and that hand missing most of its fingers.
He and Lainie ate and then sat together at the fire for a while, deliberately speaking only of ordinary, comforting things – the horses, Mrs. Murrison’s cooking, how much money they still had. Lainie’s face was haggard with exhaustion, and before long her eyes started drifting shut. Though Silas had little desire to face the night watch alone, he kissed her hand and said, “You get some sleep. I’ll sit watch.”
She returned the kiss on his own hand. “Get me up later. Don’t stay awake all night. You need your sleep too.”
“I’ll do that.” He would let her get plenty of sleep before then, though. He could make do with only a couple of hours. He kissed her mouth, a lingering kiss as he both sought and offered comfort, then she crawled into the tent.
Silas settled himself for the watch. He left his mage senses – what there was of them – partly exposed to detect any hint of trouble, and cleared his mind, letting his thoughts flow freely around each other. The anguish of the dead still teased at the edges of his senses, and he sent up another prayer to the Gatherer and the Sunderer to help them find their way on this moonless, gods-forsaken night.
A scuffling in the dirt some distance behind Silas caught his attention. Instantly, he was on his feet, his revolver in hand. Guns wouldn’t do any good against restless, vengeful spirits, but they were still useful against bandits, renegade mages, and angry blueskins. “Who’s there?” he called out.
Time for another monthly progress report, one week into August.
July was busy with family reunion/vacation and some other stuff, so I didn't get as much writing done as I hoped I would. I did finally figure out the follow-up Wildings series, which now also has a name, Defenders of the Wildings. I solved the story problems (I think); the events of book 1 make the most sense coming in the middle of book 2, which means I'm splitting book 2 in half and putting book 1 in the middle, with much attendant reworking of the two books. The story seems to be working better now, but what it means for the series is that this series won't be structured in nice, neat novel-length episodes like Daughter of the Wildings. I can't tell yet if it's going to be one large, disjointed book (my least favorite option), two short and somewhat less disjointed books, or a series of shorter serial-style episodes. Right now I've got book 1 (now the second episode) rewritten and I'm constructing episode 1 out of the first part of the old book 2. The whole thing is roughly outlined, and I added a concluding episode which wasn't in the original plan, to tie up the story in a more satisfactory fashion. (I also had to do this with Daughter of the Wildings, which first I thought would be five books, then I realized I needed a sixth book.) I'm also getting ideas for another follow-up set of books, called Children of the Wildings, starring, well, I'll let you guess!
I've also been working on edits of Tales of Azara, now titled The Brilliant Career of Sajur Golu and Other Tales of Azara. See my hopefully-not-too-lame cover I made for it above. If you've read Chosen of Azara, you may remember Sajur Golu as the evil, corrupt priest. This collection of short stories contains the story of his rise to the position of High Priest of Source Dar and of the Madrinan Empire, along with other background stories, character vignettes, and alternate points of view of scenes in the book. I'm looking at releasing it sometime before the end of August, in conjunction with the debut of a new cover for Chosen of Azara. Getting a new cover for Chosen of Azara was a very difficult decision; I love the current cover but it just isn't quite right for the genre and while it represents the characters of Sevry and Lucie very well, it doesn't really convey a sense of the story. None of this is the fault of the artist; I love Design by Katt's work and highly recommend her for beautiful photomanipulation covers. Rather, it's the difficulty in finding base photos to work with that are right for the book. Also, with two more novels in the Estelend world scheduled to come out later this year and early next year, I wanted to re-brand the Chosen cover to fit with the others and with The Warrior and the Holy Man, which is also set in Estelend. So I commissioned Mominur Rahman, the artist who did the amazing Daughter of the Wildings covers and also the new covers for Urdaisunia and Warrior and the Holy Man, to do these next three covers. I got the final art for Chosen today, and it's gorgeous. Watch for the cover reveal, coming soon!
So I've hinted at some exciting things coming up, and new cover art is one of them. The others I still can't talk about, but they're really cool. Stay tuned for news!
And finally, since it's Music Monday, here's a video for you. This is "My Therapy" from the album Haven by Kamelot, which is the theme song for my character Davreos from Heir of Tanaris, one of my upcoming Estelend books.
I haven't done a character interview in a while, so here's one with Elspetya Lorentius from Daughter of the Wildings. I don't have a picture of her, so here are Silas and Lainie's first encounters with her in City of Mages:
1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
My name is Elspetya Lorentius. I chose that name myself to represent the life I aspired to among the highest levels of mage society. It is modeled after Island names, since mages of Island descent are the elite of the elite among mages.
2. How old are you?
It's bad manners to ask a woman her age. But I will admit to having achieved a certain maturity of years, and that I am old enough to have adult grandchildren.
3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
My father was a mage of high standing and considerable power. Unfortunately, my mother was a Plain servant girl, and because of the undesirable circumstances of my birth, I was raised and lived my earlier life as a Plain. I married a Plain man and had five children before my power developed when I was around thirty years old. Of course, I left my Plain life and family behind when I went to be trained as a mage, and ever since then I have taken my proper place in mage society. Shortly after I began training in magic, I entered into a close connection with a gentleman from the highest levels of mage society, a member of the Mage Council. Our connection is highly gratifying to both of us, though, for various reasons, we have never seen the need to marry.
4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
That's really none of your business, as well as being something I don't care to remember. My life before I was acknowledged as a mage means nothing to me.
5. What is your occupation?
At the moment, I am pursuing certain plans regarding the Wildings, the large, sparsely-settled region west of Granadaia. I am discontent with the Mage Council's hands-off approach to the Wildings and its resources, and have decided it is necessary to take control of the situation myself.
6. What are your best and worst qualities?
I am highly intelligent, and gifted in magic, and very focused on achieving my goals. I have the ability to organize and lead. I have a large number of men working for me on my current project, and none of them have ever objected to taking commands from a woman.
Some might say I am cold and selfish. But I see those as being merely offshoots of my drive and ambition. One cannot achieve great things if one is easily overcome by emotion and sentimentality.
7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
Ah. [smiles] My gentleman companion embodies all those qualities I require. He is intelligent, talented, and ambitious, and willing to place all of those at the service of my plans. As well, he is extremely wealthy and has placed a large portion of his funds at my disposal. He is also handsome, and has the vigor of a man one-third his age. And he is quite devoted to me, although from time to time circumstances have required him to keep his devotion a secret from society.
8. What is your favorite thing to do?
I wish to do everything I can to raise the wealth, status, and influence of mages in the world. I enjoy making plans to do so and carrying them out.
9. What is your greatest fear?
I've worked hard to secure my place in mage society. It has not been easy, as the bastard child of a Plain servant girl. My greatest fear is that something, whether it be foreign interference or Plains not keeping to their proper place, or any other catastrophe, will undermine all I've worked for, both my own position and the high status that mages enjoy in this world.
10. What is your most treasured possession?
[holds out her right hand to display a gold ring set with a deep purple stone] My mage ring. It represents everything I've hoped and worked for, the things I've achieved since leaving behind the degraded circumstances of my earlier life.
Finally surfacing for air after recovering from getting For the Wildings ready to release and diving into the next projects on the list. It's still hard to believe that Daughter of the Wildings is complete and published (except for the paperback; I've just started working on that). It started as just an experiment about 4 1/2 years ago, then that one book turned into a 5-book series, then 6 books, and turned into a story that I felt absolutely compelled, driven, to publish. There was a time, a little over two years ago, when I was honestly afraid I might not live to finish it, but the problem turned out to be relatively mild and self-correcting and *knock on wood* I hope I won't have any more similar problems for the foreseeable future. I do need to try to get back to the better health habits I was working on before.
Anyway. So, yeah, Daughter of the Wildings, the project of my heart, my obsession for the last few years, is out there now, and it's time to move on to other things. Next up is The Source-Fixer (still trying to think of a different title, and not having much luck). I'm nearly done with the triage phase of the first big revision. This book started out as a project I abandoned many years ago, then I figured out how to finish it and wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo in 2014. Now that I'm reading through it, I'm seeing things I love about it and also some major issues. Nothing unfixable, though.
I've also initiated the process of getting cover art for Source-Fixer and Heir of Tanaris, and a new cover for Chosen of Azara. Since these are all set in the same world, I want to re-brand Chosen with a cover to match the other two books. I love getting new cover art, and I'm so excited to see how these are going to look!
In other news, as a result of my commitment to write 1000 words a day/250,000 words this year, I have a bunch of short stories waiting to be published. I'll be releasing the first collection of five soon (finishing up the final edits on them). Email subscribers will have the opportunity to get the collection for free :)
And also, as part of writing 1000 words a day, I now find myself nearly 7500 words into book 2 of the follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings. I finished the draft of book 1, then was wondering how to get to the next major plot point in the series story arc, and realized what I needed was a range war! So I did some reading up on range wars in the Old West, and book 2 just kind of came together. Daughter of the Wildings may be finished, but I'm not done with the world or the characters quite yet.
Last month I planted some vegetables in my new raised gardening box. Let's check in on how my little green things are doing:
A reminder: if you read For the Wildings, don't forget to go to the link at the end of the book to download a free Silas and Lainie short story, "A Good Example"! The story has major spoilers for the book, so don't read it before you finish For the Wildings :)
Finally, since it's Music Monday, I'll leave you with the video of Insomnia from Kamelot's album Haven.
We're 2/3 of the way through March, so I guess it's time for a mid-month progress report (which started out as a look back/look ahead at the start of each month. Schedules are not really my thing.). I've mainly been working on edits to For the Wildings, the 6th and last book of Daughter of the Wildings, and now, finally, I'm on to the final proofreads. Looking at a release date the week of March 28. To make sure you don't miss the announcement (and the special limited-time introductory price), go on over to the sidebar or to my email signup page and sign up for my email alerts. No spam, and I won't share your info, and you can get information about new releases and special offers, and maybe even a freebie once in a while!
I'm also working on edits to a Silas and Lainie short story, "A Good Example", set the summer after the events of For the Wildings. It'll be available as a free bonus for people who read For the Wildings. You don't want to read it without reading book 6, since it contains major spoilers for the book!
Being up to my eyeballs in edits for this book I really want to get out, I've slacked off a little on writing new words every day. I'm going to have to work a little harder to meet my word count goal for this month, but I did finish the first draft of the first book of the follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings! It's going to be a while before any of this sees the light of day, though.
Coming up next, I'll be starting on revision of The Source-Fixer (working title, though I might end up keeping it since I'm having trouble thinking of something better). This novel is a return to Estelend, the world of Chosen of Azara, where magic comes from Sources, which are natural features like caves, trees, springs, and so on. Kaniev, the main character, has the job of repairing them when things go wrong, but some problems are harder to fix than others!
I've also got a new collection of short stories just about ready to release, probably in April (they're all done and edited, but the final proofread and putting the book together got shuffled to the side while I finish For the Wildings). Email subscribers will have the opportunity to get this for free.
As for reading, again, that's been taking second place to getting the book finished, though I'm still on track for my goal of 30 books for the year. I'll get caught up with the reading roundups again soon.
And, finally, a new project: we got a raised gardening box put in our back yard, and I planted some seeds! Snow peas, mixed lettuce, and broccoli. I'm terrible at growing things, but there's good soil in this box and it's on the watering system so I don't even have to remember to water the plants, so we'll see if this works. Hopefully stuff will start to grow (besides weeds; it seems like weeds are the only things that like to grow around here!), and I'll post photos of the progress. Here's the first one, of my garden right after I planted the seeds:
So, watch for For the Wildings coming soon, and with any luck my next garden picture will have little green sprouty things in it!
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