Um, okay. Finally back :D I've been busy, revising and editing Mages' Exile, book 2 of Defenders of the Wildings, and writing the first draft of my next series, yet to be named, set in the Islands of the Wildings world, the home of Silas's ancestors. I've also got a few more blog posts to write about our trip to Germany, which I'll try to finish soon.
In the meantime, here's a sneak peek into Mages' Exile. (My newsletter subscribers got to see this first, and they'll also get first look at the cover, a tiny snippet of which illustrates this post.) This scene shows why you don't take the kiddos along on your fantasy quests if you can possibly help it, though if you've read Mages' Home, you'll know that Silas and Lainie didn't have a whole lot of choice in the matter. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. (Note: this is not the final version; still some edits to go.)
Half-climbing, half-crawling, Silas left the winding path and headed straight up. Another measure and a half up, he pulled himself up onto a shelf cut into the slope, a good bit wider and longer than the ledge below. At the far side of the shelf, where the canyon wall rose again, five or six swordbeaks strutted in an agitated circle, spitting out curls of flame that hissed in the rain. In their midst, Garis sat on the ground, laughing and clapping his hands.
Silas’s heart skipped a beat and he stopped short. He suppressed an urge to run right over and pull Garis away from the swordbeaks; the last thing he wanted to do was upset the critters even more and provoke them into attacking. He held silent and motionless for a moment, observing the situation. It didn't look like the swordbeaks had hurt Garis, but they were clearly unhappy at his presence. A dark cleft split the canyon wall behind where Garis was sitting. The swordbeaks' den? No wonder the beasts were angry.
"Garis," he said, fighting to keep his voice calm.
"Look, Pa, fire chickens!" Garis shouted. The swordbeaks chittered, flapped their tiny forearms, and breathed out more fire.
Fire chickens. Silas closed his eyes, overcome by one of those brief, unexpected moments of sympathy for his own parents. “Hold still, Garis. Don’t scare them.”
“They ain’t scared, Pa. They happy and dancing!”
Great gods, what was he going to do? Silas studied Garis and the surrounding flock of swordbeaks, trying to work out how to get the critters away from the boy, or the boy away from them, without provoking them. He could slip a shield between the beasts and encircle Garis with it, keeping a strand of power extended to pull Garis and the shield out with, through the ring of swordbeaks. But wielding that much power with that much precision and control, without hitting any of the swordbeaks, in this place of wild magic while he was still suffering the effects of that weapon, wouldn’t be easy.
Still, it was the best he could come up with. Ignoring the discomfort, he began to draw power, shaping in his mind the shield he meant to make.
Watch for Mages' Exile, book 2 of Defenders of the Wildings, coming (hopefully) in January 2019! And in the meantime, stay tuned for the reveal of the amazing cover! To make sure you don't miss out on the release, and for early cover reveals, sneak peeks, special offers, and more, sign up for my email newsletter.
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.
I came across this writing exercise I did for Dean Wesley Smith's Originality workshop on YouTube. The prompt was "a character standing on a bridge." (unedited, straight from my brain to the keyboard.)
She stopped in the middle of the bridge and set down her pack, catching her breath after the long walk through the rugged territory that had led to this narrow gap in the mountains. A cold wind whistled down the gorge, setting the bridge to shivering. She shivered as well, and not just from the wind. The urge to look back, just once, was more than she had will to resist, so she looked.
Nothing behind her.
Only the forest, the trees standing so close together, their branches so heavy and dense, that no moonlight could filter through to lessen the thick darkness among the trunks. Nothing else lay that way; everything that had existed for her now lay buried beneath fresh-turned earth.
She looked down, over the thin wooden rail of the thin wooden bridge that creaked beneath her feet. Far below in the gorge, moonlight glinted on the ripples in the narrow, swift-flowing river where it ran over rocks.
Nothing below, except for a burst of pain on hitting the cold water and the rocks just beneath the surface, followed by -- whatever lay beyond that. She had a hard time believing it was anything but oblivion.
Ahead lay more dark forest, as dense and lightless as its twin on the other side of the bridge. A path must lead on from the bridge, else why was the bridge here at all? But she had never heard anyone speak of an end to the forest, of any sort of destination such a path, assuming it existed, might lead to.
So, ahead of her, more nothing as well.
Nothing behind her but loss, nothing below her but oblivion, nothing ahead but the unknown.
Having caught her breath, she stood, considering the three different kinds of nothing. Or there was a fourth kind; she could simply sit down here, in the middle of the bridge, and wait for the end that would come sooner or later. But that would inevitably lead to the same oblivion that awaited her below, less painful but dragged out unbearably slow.
Loss, oblivion, or the unknown.
Finally she shouldered her pack and took a step forward, then another, then another. Of the three nothings, only the unknown held the possibility that it might change. So that was where she would go.
This might eventually turn into something. My brain is working on it, trying it out with other scraps of ideas that aren't quite ready to go.
In the meantime, the first draft of Defenders of the Wildings is progressing nicely (finally, after two false starts), and I'm still working on the second major revision of Source-Breaker. Hoping to have some cover art to show off soon!
Since the Weird Western StoryBundle and the accompanying blogging blitz ended, I've been trying to get caught up on other work. I'm making progress on both the first draft of Defenders of the Wildings, the follow-up to the Daughter of the Wildings series, and on the revisions of my upcoming release, Source-Breaker (formerly known under the working title The Source-Fixer). I don't have a cover yet for Source-Breaker, though I've ordered one from my cover artist and I'm eagerly waiting to see what he comes up with. My next book after Source-Breaker will be Heir of Tanaris, and I do have the preliminary sketch for the cover art for that, and it's gorgeous! Anyway, to keep you entertained in the meantime, here's a sneak peek from Chapter 1 of Source-Breaker, where Kaniev, our intrepid but struggling repairman of broken magical Sources, meets Fransisa, the priestess in charge at Source Chaitrasse (remember, this is an early version; there's still a lot of editing to go on it):
Somewhere deep inside the building, a bell rang. A moment later, a girl in a white robe opened the door and blinked up at him. "Yes?" she asked in a high, sweet, barely audible voice.
As you can tell, this relationship is off to a wonderful start :P
Watch for the cover reveal and the release of Source-Breaker, a novel of Estelend, coming up later this fall. And to make sure you don't miss out on release news and special limited-time low introductory pricing, sign up for my email alerts.
Just to prove I've been hard at work, here's a sneak peek from For the Wildings (spoilers redacted):
Lainie woke up on a cold stone floor in a dark room. Moonlight streamed in through a single small window high up on the wall; more dim light shone from somewhere behind her. Memories came to her mind, the battle with Lord Astentias, and then a violent blast that had sent her flying –
She sat up, groaning at the aches and pains that flared into life all over her body, and looked around the room. The window wasn’t barred, but it was too high and too narrow for anyone to be able to climb through. Three of the walls of the small cell were solid, made of hard-baked mud brick; the fourth had a door of iron bars set into it. On the other side of the door, a barrel-chested man with the copper badge of a deputy pinned to his vest sat at a desk, feet propped up on the desktop, snoring softly. A half-empty whiskey bottle stood on the floor by his chair. Lainie and Silas’s gunbelts were piled on the desk. Lainie pushed her face against the bars to get a better look to either side of her cell; she was on the left end of a row of four cells. “Silas?” she whispered loudly.
His hand appeared from between the bars of the cell at the other end. “Over here, darlin’,” he answered, likewise keeping his voice low. “You okay over there?”
“I’m fine. I’m kind of sore.” In truth, she felt like she had fallen off her horse. Everything felt bumped and bruised and scraped, but at least nothing seemed to be broken. “How are we going to get out of here?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll have us out of here right quick. Let’s be ready to restrain the good deputy there if he wakes up.”
“I don’t think he’ll wake up; it looks like he’s got a good dose of whiskey in him.” At that moment, the man at the desk let out a loud, gasping snore. Lainie froze; the deputy mumbled to himself, then fell quiet again.
Lainie let out a long breath; still, she kept a wary eye on the deputy, a thread of power at the ready to bind him if he woke up. A soft chunking sound came from the other end of the room, then the barred door of Silas’s cell swung open. Noiselessly, he walked over to Lainie’s cell and set the forefinger of his left hand against the lock. The ring on his finger pulsed with faint light, blue streaked with amber. With a murmured word and a slight gesture of his finger, the tumblers in the lock turned and the lock came open.
“That was too easy,” Lainie whispered as she stepped out of the cell.
Silas nodded. “There was a charm on the locks that probably alerted someone when I opened them. We better hurry.”
They went quietly to the desk and buckled on their gunbelts, then left the jailhouse, managing to not wake the deputy. Outside, they stood in the shadows of the covered walkway, pressed back against the wall of the building, looking to see if the way was clear. “How come you never showed me how to do that unlocking spell?” Lainie asked quietly.
“I wouldn’t want to corrupt your morals, Miss Lainie,” Silas said with a wink.
“It’s far too late to be worrying about that, Mr. Vendine.” Lainie looked around at the dark, deserted street. The night was cold and quiet; the moonlight shone on the snow frosting the roofs of the unburned buildings and piled along the edges of the street. “I wonder where that boy got to.”
“I didn’t see him in the jail,” Silas said.
Lainie’s heart froze. “I hope they didn’t hang him after they locked us up.”
“Mister?” a voice said from nearby. “Ma’am?”
Lainie just about jumped out of her skin. She and Silas spun towards the voice, hands instinctively going to their guns. A skinny figure stood at the opening of the narrow gap between the sheriff’s office and the neighboring building – Jimmo, the boy who’d nearly been hanged. Lainie willed her heart to stop pounding like a herd on the stampede. “Thank the gods, they didn’t hang you,” she whispered.
Wow, we're into the middle of November, and I realized I haven't been updating much. So here's what's going on: I'm planning the next big revision of For the Wildings, book 6 of Daughter of the Wildings. I do this revision to fix major issues that have come up since the first big revision, either things pointed out by the test readers or things that have changed over the course of the series, or just mistakes I missed the last time around. After this comes a few rounds of fixing up, fine-tuning, and editing before the book is ready to go. Still can't say when For the Wildings will be ready for release; sometime in February, as a rough guess. It's longer than the other books, and with the holidays coming up I won't be able to put as many hours in.
I've also been reading a lot, and sometime soon I'll be putting up a monster Reading Roundup post. Tons of great books to recommend!
Finally, being November, it's National Novel Writing Month. I've done it and "won" it (I actually prefer to think of it as completing the challenge, since everyone who validates 50,000 words written in November is a winner) every year since 2009, and this year looks like it'll be no exception. I'm writing The Healing Tree (working title), an old unfinished novel set in the same world as Chosen of Azara, that I decided to take another run at since the characters wouldn't leave me alone and I love the idea of it. I used this awesome outling guide, Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker (pants - writing term, for writing without an outline or "by the seat of your pants") to plan it all the way through, and so far it's going pretty well. As of today, I'm at 28,165 words, out of a target of 50,000. The actual novel is probably going to be much longer.
The main problem I've run into with it is that Davreos, the male main character, is a very complicated character. I made some adjustments to him from how he was in the original version, but he keeps wanting to revert back to that instead of going with my changes. If I've learned one thing in 26 years of writing, it's that the characters are almost always right, so I've finally decided to just go with it.
Anyway, to give you a little taste of this new project (which will eventually be released for sale), here's the first scene. It's unedited, straight from my brain to my fingers, but I think it came out ok:
The wizard's screams died away in Davreos's ears. How could he still have the strength to scream so loudly? Davreos wondered. Or to even still be alive. Most of the enemies of the Empire or other subjects brought to Maikarsk's cavern for interrogation were dead by this point in their questioning. But somehow, that old man, nothing more than skin and bones and thin, ropy muscles even when he had first been brought to Maikarsk, had managed to survive this long and remain conscious enough to scream.
"Stubborn," the Inquisitress said, only a faint note of frustration and displeasure coloring her impassive voice. Davreos glanced at her, waiting for her next instructions. Her black robe, covering her from head to toe, hid all signs of femininity, all signs of individual identity, but her height, slenderness, and voice were unmistakeable. The Inquisitress's veiled face remained turned and bowed slightly towards the wizard where he was strapped to the table a little longer. Though her face was always veiled while she was acting in her duties, Davreos knew what she looked like behind the veil, and he could imagine the dark, tilted eyes narrowed in disapproval, the full lips frowning. "Useless," she said. "Finish him."
"Yes, my lady," Davreos said.
"And," the Inquistress went on, "be sure to remove his Source-token before you dispose of his body. It might be useful."
"Yes, my lady," Davreos said again.
The Inquisitress left the cavern. Davreos turned back to the wizard and prepared to lower the blade that would give the killing blow. Suddenly, the wizard's hand, which should have been bound with unbreakable chains to the table, seized the opening of Davreos's ragged tunic and pulled him down so that their faces nearly touched. Fear clenched Davreos's belly; how had the wizard's hand gotten loose? Had the bonds been insufficient? The Inquisitress would punish him if the wizard somehow got loose and escaped...
"I pity you," the wizard breathed against his face, his voice a nearly soundless tatter after all his screaming. "You could be so much more, so much better than this..."
Davreos froze. His heart nearly stopped. How did the wizard know of his most secret thoughts? Desires and ambitions that would see him tortured and killed this same way if the High Priest or the Inquisitress or, worst of all, Maikarsk itself became aware of them. He was a slave; that was his ordained role in life, and to hope for anything more was utterly impossible and forbidden.
"Silence," he said to the wizard, and pulled himself out of the old man's grip.
The wizard seized him again, this time grabbing his arm. He placed Davreos's hand on the small carved wooden pendant that hung from a chain around his neck, and folded Davreos's fingers around it. "Take this," he whispered.
Davreos had been ordered to take the Source-token anyway, which would contain power from whatever Source the wizard drew his power from, to sustain his magic while he was away from that Source. He pulled on it, intending to snap the chain, but instead, at his touch on the wooden pendant, power shocked up into him through his arm, warm and bright, with a golden-green glow that was more a feeling than a color. It filled him, the warmth and light almost unbearable in comparison to the power of Maikarsk he bore within him. It filled him until he thought he would burst; his jaw ached as his teeth gritted against the agony of it, biting back his own cries. He didn't dare make a sound; if he was weak against the subjects, he would be deemed useless and sent back to the worst jobs at the temple of Maikarsk. Finally the power seemed to gather itself and bury itself deep within him until it was no more than a faint glimmer.
He opened his eyes, which he had squeezed shut against the pain, and unclenched his hand from around the Source-token. Nothing but dust filled his hand. A cold bolt of horror pierced his chest; the Inquisitress had commanded him to take the token. But she was gone; perhaps he could tell her that the wizard had destroyed it himself.
Time to finish the job. He placed his hand on the blade again, then looked at the wizard. The old man's cloudy eyes stared sightlessly upward into the shadowy heights of the cavern, and his gnarled hand had fallen to lie limply at his side. He was dead, almost as though he had given up his life of his own volition. Davreos looked at the broken chain that had held the wizard's hand bound to the table. The wizard had had enough strength to break that chain and to hold on to his life until he chose to give it up. Why had he allowed himself to be taken prisoner at all, if he was that strong? Why had he surrendered his life instead of escaping? What had he hoped to accomplish with the useless sacrifice?
Stupid, he thought. The man had allowed himself to be defeated. Stupid and weak. Anyone that weak was worthy only of death.
I'm getting near the end of this major revision of City of Mages. Today I'll be working on the big climax and battle scene, which in this book seems to need a lot less work than in previous books, even though it's still quite complex. In the meantime, here's a little snippet from yesterday's work, in which Lainie meets her mother-in-law for the first time:
The servant stepped aside, then Lainie went into the room. This was a pretty room, about the size of the front parlor, kitchen, and dining room in her Pa's house, done up in blue and white and gold. To the right stood a group of three chairs of white and gilt-gold wood cushioned in light blue, placed to form three sides of a square. On the center chair, facing Lainie, sat a woman dressed in a flowing, deep blue gown made of a rich, shimmering fabric, trimmed with clouds of black lace. Her figure was matronly but firm and trim. Her rusty-black hair, the same color as Silas's, darker than brown but not true black, cascaded in thick curls down one shoulder nearly to her waist. A large white flower was tucked into her hair above her other ear. Her eyes and skin were also dark like Silas's, and she was wearing cosmetics -- not as much as the house ladies wore, that made their faces look painted on, but enough to make her natural beauty stand out even more. She hardly looked old enough to be Silas's mother, Lainie thought. Jewels glittered at her ears, throat, and fingers, including an enormous dark blue gem on her left forefinger.
"Come closer, girl," Lady Venedias said in a cool, commanding tone.
Lainie walked forward. Though the chairs on either side of Lady Venedias were empty, Silas's mother did not invite her to sit. Closer in, Lainie could now see fine lines on the woman's face and a bit of slack skin beneath her chin. Maybe she was in her early fifties; old enough to be Silas's mother but not old enough to have another child several years older, the sister Silas had mentioned, unless she had started very young.
"I wanted to see this person who claims to be married to that son of mine," Lady Venedias said. She gave Lainie a slow, cool, assessing look up and down. Lainie's cheeks burned; she felt even shabbier under that look, her pretty dress poor and plain compared to Lady Venedias's elegance, but she forced herself not to look down or away.
"I find myself skeptical that Siyavas married you of his own free will," Lady Venedias finally said. "You don't look like the sort of girl for whom he would throw everything away."
After the awkward beginning, it really doesn't go all that badly. This is actually one of my favorite scenes in the book.
Back to work now :-)
It's time again for the Friday 5! This week, five-sentence (more or less) snippets from the fifth chapter of five of my books.
In Urdaisunia, Rashali has been elected to take her village's thanks to a Sazar nobleman who did them a favor:
Rashali looked across the road at Moon Bend, which she had never left in all her life. She had never traveled to Tigun’s native village on the Tabra to meet his parents, or even to the next village downriver. Zir, the great city, was very far away, four days’ walk or more.
And may she be damned to Araskagan’s darkest pits if she ever chased after a Sazar in order to grovel to him.
“You have to go, Rashali,” a woman said. “He’ll be angry if he thinks we’re ungrateful.”
From Chosen of Azara, Juzeva, traveling through the desert in search of a mysterious Source, has an unwelcome encounter:
Hours later, when the sun was sinking low in the sky, she rounded a bend in a narrow gap between two hills and found her path blocked by a red-gold cat the size of a horse. She froze as the animal looked at her through gold eyes and growled softly in its throat.
She fought back a panicked urge to flee. If she tried to run away, the beast would easily chase her down, and she couldn’t climb up the steep, rocky hillsides to escape from it. But if she held still, maybe it would lose interest in her.
The huge cat growled again, then let out a loud roar.
In The Lost Book of Anggird, Professor Rossony is anxiously waiting for a decision vital to his research:
“Sir Baril!” Professor Rossony called out as he caught up with the Lord Regent just outside the doors of the Lectorium.
The white-haired, aristocratic-looking Regent stepped aside so that they wouldn’t block the doorway. “Your application is still under consideration, Rossony,” he said with an air of impatience, as though they had had this conversation too many times already. “You do understand that this is a decision which cannot be reached in haste.”
“Of course, Sir Baril. But —”
“Be assured, Professor Rossony, we will inform you of our decision the moment we make it. Good day.”
In Sarya's Song, Sarya is undergoing a Penance lashing from a Master who has taken a dislike to her:
Sarya counted the strokes, wincing with each sharp smack of the leather thongs on her back. This whipping was harder than the other one had been, just within the bounds of what was permitted. After the fifth lash, she started to stand up, then a sixth stroke came down hard across her back. Pain ripped from her shoulder to her waist, and a warm wetness began spreading from where the lash had struck her.
She stumbled to her feet and spun to face Master Uldo. “Damn you, that was six! And you drew blood!”
From Beneath the Canyons, Silas and Lainie are investigating the strange ore that Carden's miners are digging up:
Mr. Vendine took a bandana out of one of his duster pockets, folded it and covered her hand with it, then dropped a few of the black lumps into her palm.
Icy pain shot up through her arm, seizing her heart and her lungs in freezing agony. Dark terror wrapped around her mind, cutting off sight, hearing, and even thought. Cold ran through her veins, spreading through her arms, her back and legs, her belly and loins. It was like the night terrors, only a hundred times – a thousand times – worse.
Alliterative weekday themes seem to be the thing now, so in the constant quest for blog post ideas, I came up with the idea of the Friday Five. Five what? Well, anything. Today, here are five snippets from To the Gap, book 4 of Daughter of the Wildings, currently under revision and slated for release in, oh, I'm gonna say July. (Note: this is not the final polished, edited, proofread version.)
1. Silas is signing himself and Lainie up to work on the cattle drive, and the boss, Landstrom, recognizes Lainie's name:
"Well, well, well. I'd heard tell she'd been carried off by some gods-damned wizard and forced to become a wizard herself. Glad to see that's not true and that she landed herself a fine strapping husband instead."
2. Silas and Lainie getting their supplies as the drive is getting ready to leave:
Silas thanked Landstrom, and they headed off to the temporary booths that sellers of the various supplies had set up to cater to the gathering drive hands and other workers.
3. Lainie, who is working as an assistant cook, has an awkward conversation with her boss, Mrs. Bington, while seasoning the beans for that day's supper:
"I still say you're ruining it," Mrs. Bington grumbled.
4. A special moment:
"Silas?" she murmured.
5. Lainie tries to tell Silas she's concerned that his fear for her safety is beginning to cloud his judgment:
"I want you safe too. If something happened to you, I don't know what I would do. I'll do anything to protect you -- except ask you to be less than the man you are. So don't you make yourself into less than the man you are for my sake."
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