Anyone curious about what I’m working on this year? Here are the chosen books below plus descriptions and excerpts. In mostly alphabetical order.
As to which order I’ll finish them in, I’m not sure, but probably: In this Ruined City (Cascade’s story) will be out first (maybe August?), then the next four The Ever Spirits, Somewhere in the Dark, Heiress of Shadow, and Heiress of Rebellion sometime between August and November, and then About that Happy Ending.
About that Happy Ending
A flippant fairy tale about a princess cursed to be a cat because her parents didn’t invite the proper fairy to her christening, and then she’s ‘disenchanted’ by Prince Blandsome of Engbland, who doesn’t quite undo her curse, leaving her prone to clawing people and eyeing rats, and fascinated with pearls in any queen’s hair because–balls to play with! She ends up with the pied piper’s son on a quest to figure out where things went wrong…
My father ignored my words completely and considered Pyper again. “Why is he with you?” he asked me. “He doesn’t look like he’s a very capable bodyguard… a bit on the lanky side, isn’t he?”
“He has a very capable pipe that puts brawn to shame,” I remarked in Pyper’s defense. “Pyper, do the pipe thing and show him.”
“Cecily! I’m not going to do that to your parents!”
“Why not? A good dunking would only benefit them.”
“Now see, here, Cecy. You’re our daughter…”
“Whom you let be cursed! Why shouldn’t I give you a good dunking when you deserve it!”
“Stop it, Cecy,” my mother ordered me sternly. “We invited everyone, including your fairy non-godmother!”
“Ooh! That’s a load of rat-crap! You didn’t! If you had, she wouldn’t have cursed me! I wouldn’t still want to eat rats and bat at your hairballs!”
“Let’s all just stay calm,” Pyper cut in smoothly. “We’ve only come to find out the non-godmother’s name, then we can get out of your hair.”
“Why are we talking of hair all of a sudden?” my bewildered father asked.
“It was just an expression,” Pyper defended.
“It’s the balls,” I said.
“What balls?” my mother asked.
“Your balls,” I answered. How could humans be so obtuse?
“Your hair-balls,” I offered helpfully.
“Your pearls,” Pyper clarified, exasperated. “Look, can we get back to the matter at hand?”
“That’s not hair?” My father couldn’t seem to get past that.
“We’ve gone on to hair-balls,” I pointed out.
“Forget the hair-balls,” Pyper said, as if it were really just that easy. “We just need the name of Cecily’s fairy non-godmother, the woman who cursed her, then we can leave and stop bothering you.”
“You’re not bothering us,” my father hastened to assure him, “just confusing us. You sure we’re not talking about hair?”
The Ever Spirits
A dark fantasy about a decoy captured by the enemy and having to pretend to be the cruel princess she’s posing as to keep them from discovering she’s a sham.
His stance altered. He pulled his hand completely away from my captive strand of hair. The movement was somehow decisive, and his next words emerged on a set path now, too, and I thought—I did something wrong.
“Do you want your subjects to be happy?” he asked flatly.
“I don’t care one way or the other.” I am all things cold and heartless, my stony stare and severe lips told him, even though I felt the glaring unevenness of my steps now, the blindness of navigating through a thicket he’d snared me in. “As long as they don’t get in my way.”
“And if they do get in your way?”
I curled my lip in a sneer. “A whip is long and my hand is fast.”
“Is it?” One step later, Kirian repossessed my hand and positioned it palm upward. He traced the mesh of lines there as if outlining my fate, designing his own destiny for me. His tone light but edged. “I could ruin its quickness.”
Every nerve within me thrummed in anticipation of danger. “I could ruin yours.”
His voice lowered. “We could ruin each other.”
Spirits, I wasn’t up to this—this game he played.
“But,” he remarked neutrally, his fingertips still resting on my palm, “you do realize that a dagger’s surer than a whip, don’t you? For killing commoners.”
I leveled him with a look reserved for idiots and Deminians. “I prefer whips,” I dripped acidly, “because a dead commoner’s even more useless than a live one. I’m sure you’ve noticed.”
“I’ve noticed only that you purport to revile peasants, but you scheme to save the lady’s maid you’ve barely known for three weeks and you’ve been screwing a baseborn general for the past two years.”
“So I’m a hypocrite.”
“You blush like an innocent when you speak of him.”
“So I’m ashamed.”
“Are you?” His thumb rested on my pulse. “Your heart is racing.”
“What’s that mean?” I whispered.
He dropped my hand, his face going cold. “It means you’re wasting my time because you’re lying to me.”
Heiress of Shadow
Heiress of Shadow mainly follows Ara’s story after she’s exiled from the First Demesne and must traverse the rich and vivid world outside the walls to challenge her father, a quest put to her by her mother, whose soul he still holds captive. The book will also follow a new character, Char, a weir abducted by the shadow-hungry along with other women to breed their army, and Zara, Ara’s mother whose spirit is held captive by the shadow-hungry leader. And, partly, it will also follow Flair, Char’s twin sister.
The word ended in a slash, as if her mother’s hand had jerked violently over the page.
The rest of the letter descended into a mad, nearly illegible scrawl.
You have three months. In one month, leave for the shadowlands. Don’t leave for his stronghold Grimfell until the day you turn twenty. His power will be wrapped up in preparing the portal then, so he’ll spare less to attack you, meaning less for you to fight and more chance you’ll survive. Don’t take an army, don’t start a war—it would kill us all. Stop him—and your brother, too.
“What the jag?!” Ara fought the urge to incinerate the parchment. “I have a brother to fight now, too? In addition to the demon father and the undead hordes? With crippled fricking magic? You really kind of jagged this up the butt, didn’t you?”
Leave the First Demesne a month before your twentieth birthday—there’s an exiled family named Elvarion—their son Xeir will meet you. Take him with you. He’s—
It stopped there. Ara flipped the paper over, hoping to find more, but there was nothing, not a single word.
She stared blankly at the next-to-useless letter, then scream-growled and really did try to incinerate it, forgetting her magic was wrapped up in the magic-suppressing chains. Tricks and spells demanding she play assailed her magic, at which she snarled and crumpled the parchment up instead, tossed it on the hay, and stomped on it. Repeatedly. Shouting expletives. Maybe growling and snarling some more in between.
A guard pacing the hall in his rounds caught sight of her and promptly turned the other way.
Heiress of Rebellion
This book follows Seriah and Iminique’s stories, Seriah as the apparent heiress to the Seven Demesnes and Iminique as the healer caught up with the wizard who is working against it.
He smiled that sharp-toothed grin again. “Very good. That’s more like it. Now then.” Briskly, he plucked the cane from her grip and slipped into the chair beside her without being invited. Angling himself to face her, he leaned his elbow on the table, crossed his legs, and draped the cane across his lap with dapper care.
Seriah inwardly groaned. He’d adopted the manner of one planning to settle in for a while.
“Now then. You realize you’re never going to rule if you crumble at the first volley your enemies lob at you, don’t you, you petulant thing?”
Seriah barely suppressed the urge to subject him to some choice invectives. She settled for a glower.
He smacked his palm on the table. “Stop assaulting me with your frowns. Enough of this sulky shit already! You’ve moped around the past week enough to make my teeth rot just looking at you. You can’t change the past; you can’t prove it didn’t happen, nor even that you didn’t cause what happened. It’s time you got off your lazy rump and moved on.”
Her jaw worked, then she clamped it shut and stood up. “I don’t have to listen to this.”
“You also don’t have to be a good ruler.” Drumming his fingertips on the table, he leaned back in his chair, making it creak, and smiled up at her. Glint, glint, went his incisors.
Seriah swept an imperious gaze over him. “What would you know of being a good ruler?”
“More than a spoiled girl who’s never read a thing about it, I’m sure.” He held his infuriating smile in place over a languid twirl of his finger. “Your father gave you no tutors, lets you attend no councils, and does naught to educate you with his ambassadors. One might say you poor thing; you’ve never had the chance to learn. But—” he swept out an arm, indicating the library “—you have a world of knowledge here at your behest, and you retreat into this petty sulkiness. Call me cruel, call me callous, but simply said, your father is going to die sometime, Princess, then you will be heiress to seven cities you’ve no notion of what to do with. The Demesnes’ fate will rest in the hands of a girl—yes, a girl, not a woman, note the difference—who doesn’t know a jagged thing. Your uncles and their spawn will swoop in like vultures. The ambassadors will mutiny. The poor will raid the castle. Everything will be chaos.”
Seriah bristled. “I’ve—”
“You’ve trained in combat.” He flapped his hands and bowed his head. “Oh, yea, let me grovel at your feet, O Mighty Sword-Wielder! Do you plan to stab anyone who disagrees with you?”
In this Ruined City
This is sci fi comic-book style (meaning sci fi with wing powers and mutants rather than technology and space odysseys), centering around a dark love story between a messed-up girl and a guy with wings of knives. My alpha reader really hates this book right now. Almost threw his computer across the room yesterday because I think he described it as an “unfulfilled lust story” about “an a**hole and a thoroughly unsalvageable and inexcusable wreck who let herself be made as such by a sick f*ck”. So, yeah, this one definitely won’t be for everyone! Also, lots of f*cking cussing in this one!
“Survival is a choice made in blind hope. It isn’t living. It’s crawling. It’s fucking keeping yourself barely breathing day by day, stepping from one worthless second to the next, hoping one day your existence won’t prove as futile as every other hollow fucking hour you’ve dragged yourself through.” He looks at me so abruptly the lack of judgment in him is shocking. “You ever think that maybe survival isn’t worth it, because it will never lead to living again?”
“I think…” What can I say? Promise streamers and dances in meadows right around the corner? Or just a good fuck and a short life in hiding? “I think maybe you should ask that of someone who didn’t survive but wanted to.”
His eyes hold mine, his skin still pale even flushed with my wing light. “Maybe I am asking someone who didn’t.”
“Maybe you are someone who didn’t.”
“Maybe I am. And maybe I want an answer.”
Somewhere in the Dark
This is my utterly unapologetically gothic Gothic romance! The heroine of this one starts out washed ashore a Cornish beach while she’s trussed up hand and foot in a rowboat with a corpse. I wrote the first draft in the space of three months several years ago and penned the climax while at my boyfriend’s country house in an uber-tiny village in the Czech countryside. I was astounded by how high the body count got there (in my story, not in the Czech village); I think it got up to like fifteen murdered in the final chase scene around the castle. Then I proceeded to revise and rewrite it for nine years…
Silhouetted against sunlight sifting through the yellow, diamond-cut window panes, he embodied the image of a vengeful seraph eclipsing the stained glass of some archaic church. A few strands of black hair curtained his darkening eyes.
“Tell me.” One hand sluiced through the gold-tinged air, snagged her elbow, and hauled her to her feet. “Do you fear nothing?”
Seryph shook her hair back out of her eyes and strove to free herself from where she dangled in his unrelenting grip—although her fingers seemed somehow indecent clawing at his slim forearm. “I’ve survived hunger,” she panted. “Disease. Attempted abduction. Being adrift at sea. What more have I to fear?”
“Must you ask?” His scurrilous smile widened.
“Fear you?” Scorn rode the wings of her ensuing laughter. “You flatter yourself if you think you compare!”
“Fortune befriends the brave.”
“Fortune is a fickle whore.”
“I make friends with whores.”
He maneuvered her slightly closer. “You haven’t the money to pay a whore for a kiss, much less for a fairy tale with your father.”
“You would pay her for a kiss and she would give you a disease.”
Mirth sparked in his eyes, doused almost instantly. “Why would I pay her for a kiss when Fortune gifted me with you? Delivered to my private shore. Wanting the estate she was born in that I now own. What other way to make her belong here than…”
Seryph flushed at the flagrant insinuation and the overt attempt at intimidation. “This gift would bite your wicked hand off.”
“And maybe taste the sweetness of downfall.”