The Adventure of Creation: out now!

The Adventure of Creation anthology is now out!

The Adventure of Creation cover

Get it now at Amazon (in either print or e-book versions)

(I’ll update this page as it goes live in other stores)

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Also, you can now get print copies of both Rainbird and Mourning Cloak via Createspace (or from Amazon itself). They’ve been available for a while, but–ahem–I haven’t been too good about mentioning that.

And for the record? They both look AWESOME in real life.

proofs! and a release!

My proofs for Rainbird and Mourning Cloak arrived earlier this week.

Aren’t they pretty?

Proofs

They look EVEN BETTER in real life.

There really is nothing like seeing your name on the cover of a physical book. I had an ear-to-ear grin on my face for about an hour after they came.

Right now, David’s checking them for errors (I know, I know, I’m spoiled). They should be ready to go in a week or so. Keep an eye on this space!

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One Small Step

One Small Step: an anthology of discoveries launched last weekend at Conflux. Jo Anderton and I have a story in there. “Sand and Seawater” has already gotten some nice shout-outs on Goodreads, and the anthology as a whole has been favorably reviewed in places like Publisher’s Weekly.

Next week, I’ll post about our experience collaborating on this story.

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I’ve been busily working away on some short stories for the past couple of weeks, including some broken fairy tales for a follow-up to Shattered. I’m hoping to get that out in June and then buckle down to Ironhand and release that a couple months later.

What are your writing plans? Do you have any new or upcoming releases? Let us know in the comments!

saturday, with links

mourning cloak tour banner

A couple last links from the Mourning Cloak blog tour:

A review and a guest post–Making Genre Soup–at Kaidan’s Seduction

An extract at Feeling Fictional

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Thank you to all the bloggers, reviewers, writers, and readers who helped spread the word about Mourning Cloak’s release. You made my launch week the best ever!

And now, we will return to our regularly-scheduled blogging here, with links to pretty covers, discussions about movies and books, updates on my other creative endeavors, and–oh, why not?–some thoughts about the educamation of children.

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Tabs open on browser:

The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

The 100 best movies challenge, at Catherine, Caffeinated

Journey North starts its 2013 Mystery Class! (This is a GREAT geography project for upper elementary/middle school).

And there’s a recipe for halwa, as well, but I won’t link to it since I ended up modifying it (plus it forgets to tell one when to add the sugar, a rather important step! and I had to use vegetable oil instead of clarified butter, which might’ve also affected the taste–it was close to what I’m used to, but not quite)

Mourning Cloak’s here!

Mourning Cloak

Kato Vorsok is a man deserted by his god. A failed hero living in exile, he wants nothing to do with his old life.

Until the night he encounters a wounded mourning cloak—a demon that can walk through walls, dissolve into mist, and spear a man’s heart with a fingernail.

She calls him by name. She knows his past. She needs his help.

And she is his key to redemption.

Mourning Cloak is a science fantasy novella of about 22,000 words.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

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To celebrate the release, a number of bloggers are going to be talking about Mourning Cloak for the next week!

Today, I’m at Snarky Bird Book Reviews, talking about the cover design process.

3 Reasons Why You Should Subscribe To My Newsletter

You guys! I was just working on my first. ever. newsletter which is going out on Monday. And yes, I’m going to encourage you to sign up for it.

Why? Three reasons:

1. Never miss out. If you enjoy my work, make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming releases. Let’s face it. Sometimes life gets busy; we drop out of Twitter and nuke our RSS feed readers and disappear from the Internet. My low-frequency newsletter delivers news of my published fiction right to your Inbox. Your time is valuable, and so is mine. My newsletters will be short, sweet, and come out no more than once a month (realistically, more like once a quarter–a fast writer I am not!).

2. Coupons! I love to thank my readers with coupons for my work, which you can use at Smashwords.

3. Exclusive content. This will mostly be short fiction, though I’m open to other suggestions (character interviews, for instance). The newsletter exclusive for this month? A short story set in Highwind, featuring a girl who sets off into Deep Night to rescue her sister from wither women.

Convinced? Sign up below! I respect your privacy, and will never sell or share your email address.

    Sign up for one or both!

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Speaking of Highwind and Mourning Cloak, my early reviews are all asking for more stories set in this world. My muse has obligingly handed me about four more Highwind stories, including a direct sequel to Mourning Cloak. I guess I’d better get cracking!

Mourning Cloak, second excerpt

One more week until Release Day!

Mourning CloakKato Vorsok is a man deserted by his god. A failed hero living in exile, he wants nothing to do with his old life.

Until the night he encounters a wounded mourning cloak—a demon that can walk through walls, dissolve into mist, and spear a man’s heart with a fingernail.

She calls him by name. She knows his past. She needs his help.

And she is his key to redemption.

Mourning Cloak is a science fantasy novella of about 22,000 words.

 

Excerpt

(Read the first excerpt here)

I snap awake in the dark. Pressure on my chest, pressure against my ears, pressure on my eyelids, squeezing them shut. I can’t see, I can’t hear, I can’t breathe.

My limbs won’t obey me.

Pop! Ears clear, chest heaves, eyelids fly open. The room takes a deep breath. I swear the walls expand outward in relief.

Then it hits me.

Magic. Someone’s worked magic.

Right next to my shop. My rooms. My bed.

I erupt from the sheets. Jab feet into slippers, grab the loaded bolt gun from the side table. A bedpost trips me up; I stumble and swear in the darkness. I find the doorknob—or it finds me when I run into the door. I wrestle with it and burst from the room, shambling and hairy-chested, muttering threats in a sleep-deep voice.

Sera used to say I was part bear. For a moment, she flits at the edge of my memory, her voice teasing at my ears, her hair in shades of bronze and gold sliding into view. I push her away.

But because I thought of her, I step into the small room that serves as my office and take the sword. I hold it by the sheath and manage to buckle it at my waist without touching its hilt.

That sword cost me more than money or blood. Every time I use it, it drains me even more.

But I need it. Just in case I have to kill the cloak.

I step over my powder line—oh so carefully, so it can ward my empty bed and financial papers and beverage bottles —and thrust open the outer door.

I was always a fool.

But no one –no one–worked magic that close to my shop and got away with it.

***

The banish light is off, the alley clothed in shadows. The residue of magic—cinnamon and burning—lingers. I taste it on the tip of my tongue.  Too herbal for kana rats, not flowery enough for wither women. Not the ozone taste of eerie men, nor the sickly-sweet rot of the smaller demons.

But there is a taint of something dark in there—the hint of rain on the wind, the foreboding of a storm. Earth smells, like that of eilendi magic, but with an electric zing.

At least three kinds of magic happened here. I can be sure that only one of those was from my wards.

If Toro or one of his do-gooders has been here, if this is one of their maggoty notions of helping me… My fists clench, I half-raise the bolt gun as if an eilendi were about to jump out at me, spouting prayers and pious exhortations to return to the fold.

I had needed eilendi help before. I had vowed never to ask for it again.

Static raises my hair.

I growl out a pass code, then jab the button on the wall to force more current into the banish light. It stirs, flickers, settles into a sullen glow that oozes into the street.

There. Darkness within darkness. A shape, huddled against the wall.

I put my hand on a sword-hilt molded for my grip. A hum of recognition and pleasure threads from it and into me, but I ignore it. It’s not time for those games.

I walk over to the shape, turn it over with my foot.

The mourning cloak’s face is pale amidst midnight hair and black wing-cloak. Her hands are reddened, crooked into claws, one of her wings ripped to shreds. Pale amber blood seeps from the slash at her throat.

Good. She’s dead then.

Let the scavengers deal with her body. I shift my feet, ready to go back to my interrupted sleep.

Her eyes open. The black has receded, showing hints of white.

In fact, her eyes are not black at all, but a deep brown. A warm, human brown.

She keeps her burnt hands cradled against her abdomen. She cannot move, not like this, but her eyes say, Help me.

My hand tightens on the hilt, and the sword sings into eager, bloodthirsty life. Use me, wield me… together… red tides of blood… Warmth blazes down its length, draws a line against my thigh.

I should not have kept it.

But like I said, I am a fool. I’ll keep the sword, if only to show that it is no longer master of me.

“Call your own kind to take care of you, mourning cloak,” I say. My voice is rough with sleep and anger. Can she understand me, this demon in humanoid form? I could kill her now, but it would be a crueler end to leave her to the predators of the night.

Let the cloak suffer, as Sera had suffered.

Her lips move, shape themselves into impossible words. I stiffen, then stoop closer to her face. Her breath smells sickly-sweet, a mix of honey and blood.

“Kato Vorsok,” she says. “Kato Vorsok.” She repeats it like a litany, as if my almost-forgotten name, my deep dark secret, were no more than a nursery rhyme. “Kato Vorsok.”

Kill her,whispers the sword—or the part of me the sword brings to the fore. Be rid of the evidence. I glance around, as though passersby lurked in the alley to hear that Kettan the drink-mixer was once Kato Vorsok, Taurin’s Chosen.

No more. It is past. It is behind me. I am no longer a hero.   

The mourning cloak suddenly arches her back, hisses in pain. Her eyes are almost normal, almost intelligent, almost aware. “Kato Vorsok,” she insists. The blurry buzz in her voice is gone, and she’s looking right at me.

She’s nearly human. She knows my name.

I growl, low and tortured in my throat, drop my hand from the hilt, cutting off the sword’s bloody croon from my head. I bend, swing the mourning cloak into my arms. She is light, as if made from cloth and skin, and her thin gold blood is sticky on my hands.

“Kato Vorsok?” A question. Hope in her eyes.

One cannot run from the past. It always finds you. Catches you up. Trips you in places you least expect it to.

“Yes,” I say, and carry her into my house.

 

Mourning Cloak excerpt

Two more weeks until Mourning Cloak comes out! In the meantime, here’s an excerpt. Enjoy!

Mourning CloakKato Vorsok is a man deserted by his god. A failed hero living in exile, he wants nothing to do with his old life.

Until the night he encounters a wounded mourning cloak—a demon that can walk through walls, dissolve into mist, and spear a man’s heart with a fingernail.

She calls him by name. She knows his past. She needs his help.

And she is his key to redemption.

Mourning Cloak is a science fantasy novella of about 22,000 words.

 

Excerpt

The mourning cloak flutters against my shop window, eyes dark and wide, mouth open in soundless desire. Her pale hands scrabble against the glass that separates her from my bottles—the opaque green of the darkly bitter clava, the translucent pinks and peaches of fruit mixes, the speckled earth tones of the nutty milks, all frosted from the alchemical ice vaporizing around them. She’s been here every night this week.

It’s the smell, I tell myself. The drinks, the pastries. She’s attracted by their smell.

And then her eyes, grey lurking on the edge of black, with no pupils or irises or whites, just dozens of hexagonal facets, look at me.

She looks at me. Sees me.

My hands and feet go cold. The glass I’m polishing slips from my fingers, falls on to the granite counter. Cracks.

She knows. Somehow, even after two years of keeping my head down and staying home at nights, she’s found me.

I’m a dead man.

The warding bells on my door jangle. A party of bright young things, cheeks red from the cold, sweep in with a dance of colored ribbons and sparkles at their throats. Lights flicker in the square behind them. Across the street, shadowy figures bubble out of the double doorway of the rhyme house. The taste of night is as bitter as sorrow on my lips. The smoky caress of death lingers on my face.

The bells clang together, the door crashes shut. And there is no more cold or night or death, but the warm honeyed scent of my shop and the tramp of shoes and the rustle of fabric and rhyme house bills as the young things throw off their coats and call out to each other and to me.

“…piss-poor performance…”

“… you having?”

“Peach paradise… could use it…”

“… cold as Gamina’s tits…”

The mourning cloak can’t have come for me.It’s been too long. I throw the cracked goblet in the trash, rim glasses with salt and sugar, uncork bottles, top with berries and sliced citrus, put on the affable smile of the drink-mixer.

But then, who knows why the cloaks come at all?

***

She’s still there when they leave for the trams, those young ones with the aliveness of milk in their skin and the future bright in their eyes. They don’t see the mourning cloak, thanks to the protection of their baubles and the embroidered ribbons woven into their hair. When they brush past her, she shrinks away from their vitality, paper-thin and chalk-white in comparison.

I’m not fooled. I’ve seen a mourning cloak slide through a wall and spear a man’s heart with a fingernail.

In all my nights of hunting, fueled by red rage and corrosive vengeance, I’d only ever managed to kill one of them.

My wards are all that keep me safe from this cloak.

***

She follows me from window to window as I stash bottles in the icebox, wipe tables, put up chairs and stools, mop the floor. She’s there when I turn the sign from OPEN to CLOSED, lock the door, twist the valves shut on my flow bottles and turn off the overhead lights.

She’s there, at the mouth of the alley, when I take out the trash under the yellow glare of the banish light. The last trolley of the evening sounds a low, mournful note on its horn as I slam the dumpster lid. I have wards all around my shop and my rooms at the back, but she doesn’t test them.

I’m a little disappointed. I pay good money and a monthly vial of blood for my wards. I’d like to see if the mourning cloak will flame and burn like the ward woman promised.

No such luck. She stands at the end of the alley, her cloak shivering all around her. She stretches her neck, stands on tiptoe, holds out those weak-looking fingers to me, as if pleading.

That helpless damsel routine may have worked for other men.

You know, the ones found with their bellies ripped open and their organs turned to ooze.

The trolley clanks away in the distance, the sound of metal on metal soon swallowed by the night.  I take the trash can inside and lock the door. I get my jar—the precious jar whose contents cost me half again as much as the wards did—and lay out a thin unbroken trail of white powder all along the inner walls of my shop and rooms.

And then I go to bed, and listen to the howls of eerie men and the snaps of cobble crunchers as I fall asleep.

Mourning cloaks are not the only reason I live behind my shop.

mourning cloak: cover reveal and giveaway

Ta-da!

Mourning Cloak

(Isn’t she stunning?)

Kato Vorsok is a man deserted by his god. A failed hero living in exile, he wants nothing to do with his old life.

Until the night he encounters a wounded mourning cloak—a demon that can walk through walls, dissolve into mist, and spear a man’s heart with a fingernail.

She calls him by name. She knows his past. She needs his help.

 And she is his key to redemption.

Mourning Cloak is a science fantasy novella.

Expected Publication: January 21st, 2013
Formats: ebook

Mourning Cloak on Goodreads

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And, wait, there’s more! You can enter to win a grand prize of ALL 5 of my e-books, or one of 10 eARCS of Mourning Cloak.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Many thanks go out to Ravven, who created this awesome cover, to Kellie Sheridan for setting up the cover reveal on multiple blogs and organizing the giveaway, to my husband David for doing the e-book formatting, and to Jo Anderton and Robin Cornett for beta-reading.

weekend this and that

1. FableCroft Publishing announced the Table of Contents for their anthology, One Small Step: an anthology of discoveries. I am very excited that “Sand and Seawater”, co-written by Jo Anderton and me, is part of the lineup. This is our first collaboration and we’re so pleased it found a home.

2. The e-ARCs of Mourning Cloak are now available! If you’re a reviewer and would like a copy, go here to request one. Many thanks to Kellie Sheridan for setting this up. (Also, keep an eye out for a cover reveal coming up soon!)

Mourning Cloak

Kato Vorsok is a man deserted by his god. A failed hero living in exile, he wants nothing to do with his old life.

Until the night he encounters a wounded mourning cloak—a demon that can walk through walls, dissolve into mist, and spear a man’s heart with a fingernail.

She calls him by name. She knows his past. She needs his help.

 And she is his key to redemption.

Mourning Cloak is a 22,000-word science fantasy novella.

3. We got a tree yesterday, and it’s filling up the entire house with the spicy scent of fir. Now it really does feel like Christmas!

The Next Big Thing

Many of you have seen the Next Big Thing meme going around, in which we writers hold forth on our latest books (either works-in-progress or newly-released). Thanks to Jo Anderton, who tagged me, you can find out more about (one of) my newest project(s)!

1. What is the working title of your next book?

The working—and final—title of my novella is Mourning Cloak. 

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was on a family hike over Memorial Day weekend in 2011 when I saw dozens of gorgeous dark butterflies, with blue spots and cream edging along the wings. Being the kind of nerd I am, I pulled out my Audubon field guide to New England and identified the butterflies as mourning cloaks. My muse instantly pounced on the name and insisted that mourning cloaks would make great fantasy characters (and it was right!).

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Since there’s both magic and nanotechnology–but no steam-powered anything–I guess I’ll have to call it science fantasy.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I have no clue. Isn’t that the director’s job, anyway?

Actually, I think this world and story would work better as a video game than a movie. It has strange races like mourning cloaks, eerie men, and wind swifts; battle-suits and mecha; prayer magic and blood-formed wards; passion and faith and betrayal and clashing armies. Definitely video game material.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A failed hero deserted by his God and living in exile encounters a wounded demon who offers him a chance to regain what he lost. 

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published, and coming out in January 2013! (Not 2012, like I’d originally said. Thanks for the catch, Alina!)

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Um, I have no idea. I did it in bits and pieces over the course of a really busy year in which my husband got a new job, we sold our house in Vermont and moved to Virginia. 

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I beta-read Suited by Jo Anderton around the same time I wrote the first draft of Mourning Cloak, so I know similarities abound. (Battle suits, anyone?)

But really, I think this story is more like role playing games of the Final Fantasy bent than any novel I can think of at the top of my head. Amnesiac characters? Check. Strange races? Check. Fantastical magic swords alongside science-fictional bots? Check. Transformation? Check check check!

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

You mean besides the butterflies? *wry smile*

I wanted very much to write a story about faith. My failed hero has lost his. My altered assassin clings to hers. What they have faith in. How the faith helps–or doesn’t help–in the face of adversity.

I also wanted to write about older characters weighed down by their past. As I grow older, I’m less interested in the blank-slate, youthful protagonists and more intrigued by characters who have been worn by life, who have seen darkness both inside and outside their own souls.

 10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

A man transformed from within to become a battle machine. A woman so altered that she can dissolve into mist and drip through the ground. A cold, mountain city of steel and electricity, warding bells and safe roads. A hot land of deserts and plains, of bronze arcana and prayer magic. Nano-tech and string theory in fantasy trappings.

 

I tag Liana Mir, Lisa Ahn, and Miquela Faure. And if anyone else would like to play along, just leave a comment below and I’ll add you to this list!