Roll Call!

I haven’t updated here for quite some time. There are reasons for that. The 6yo daughter went through several months of treatment for Lyme Disease. I discovered I was pregnant, then immediately dove into 2 1/2 months of awful morning sickness. Then the holidays. Now the kids are passing a bug around from one to the other like a demented game of Hot Potato.

But! I’ve been writing. The sequel (hopefully standalone-ish) novella to The Half Killed is well underway, and has a title! The Death Within should have a May release, and I’ll be sure to share cover art and all of those other goodies once they’re finished.

I’ve also jumped back into writing some shorter pieces of fiction. This one that I’m posting today is… different. A bit more sci-fi, I think. It wants to spiral out into something larger in my head, but for the moment, it’s just a snippet of a story/chapter, with a touch of humor (well, *I* thought it was funny while writing it way too late at night) and some new characters. Maybe I’ll spend some more time with them in the future. But for now, meet Dave. DAVE

 

Dave

The sign was in need of a fresh coat of paint.

It wasn’t much of a sign, really. It was wood, and it was vaguely square, and some claimed to see a few indistinct words scrawled across it, but regardless of the various arguments on what was necessary for a sign to be a sign, no one could disagree that this one was due for a bit of freshening up.

The sign hung to the right of a door – a typical door: knob, window, small strip of tape where the glass had cracked – and was meant to direct potential customers through the door and into the shop within. It was not a wholly uncommon occurrence for people to take one look at the sign, and the door, and the entire street before turning around and deciding that their business wasn’t nearly important as they’d originally thought.

Randall Smith paid no attention to the street, the sign, or the door, and the last one only for a  brief moment when the keys from his pocket made an appearance to slide into the lock. The door threatened to stick in its frame, but again, only for a moment. A swift kick to the warped panel of wood, a muttered curse, and he was inside.

The darkness was expected. Randall didn’t wait for his eyes to adjust before he returned the keys to his pocket and strode into the room. The shades were still down, and the square that might have been a window if he bothered to touch it with any kind of cleanser or cloth let in only enough light for him to see his hand in front of his face. He didn’t notice the other eyes that stared at him, blank and lifeless. Or the disembodied limbs crammed onto the already full shelves. One set of fingers twitched, and then there was a hum. Another twitch, and behind the counter, a blank screen lit up with a deep blue light.

“Welcome to Obsolete Robotic Services. If this is your first visit to our location, please step up to the counter, state your name and the nature of your repair.”

Continue reading “Roll Call!”

An Update and a Short Story

I’ve had sick kids in the house for the last two weeks (one of those situations where, instead of them getting it all at once, they drag it out by only getting it one at a time) so I’m a bit brain dead at the moment. Lack of sleep, never-ending fetching of cups of juice, endless viewings of Moana and Horrible Histories…

But since I’m home with sick kids, I’ve been writing and editing and baking (so much baking…) The Bride Price is getting ready for its August 1st release (*bites nails*) and is now available for pre-order! I’m still finishing up revisions on An Unpracticed Heart as well, which is slated for a late-fall release (I’m looking at end of November-ish, to be honest.) And I’ve written another short story/scene set in the same world as my previous stories Dust and Silver, Sleet and Shadow, Pale for Weariness, and Music in its Roar. I’m posting it below for you, just to prove I’ve not been sitting around, resting on my proverbial laurels. *wiggles butt* These laurel things are prickly!

***

Upon the Brink Upon the Brink

I cannot see a thing. The rain ceased some hours before, but still a heavy mist clings to everything, clutching stubbornly to the rooftops, mingling with the smoke that belches out of every chimney and streams from every factory this near to the water.

“Stop here,” I say, and knock my fist against the ceiling of the carriage for good measure. The carriage meanders to a halt, and I drop the window and poke my face through the narrow opening. Despite the lights that should belong to the buildings I know are there, the orbs of illumination that should mark the position of each boat and ship currently trawling along the surface of the river, we are encased in a thick, stinking cloud that seems to glow from within, and all without providing any light by which George, my driver, can direct the horses.

The murk is even more impenetrable outside of the carriage. I stand still for a moment, the fingers of my right hand touching the door until I find my bearings. For there are no landmarks on which my eyes can fix, and before I can restrain it, a panic wells up inside of me, tightening around my chest like a steel band.

The sound of a ship’s horn is my saving grace. My mind latches onto it like the needle of a compass, and I move forward, picking carefully over the uneven ground as I approach the river.

Behind me, George clambers down from the carriage, and I hear his soothing words to the horses before he is swallowed up by the fog behind me. My eyes have adjusted to the point that I can make out a few larger impediments on either side of me. Warehouses, no doubt. And as I pass between them, the sounds of water slapping against the bank, of metal and wooden things knocking against each other grows louder. A gentle, downward slope of the ground, and I know I’ve nearly reached the water’s edge.

The light of the lamp catches my eye before I’ve taken three more steps. Two flashes, and then it is gone. Two more flashes…

My pace quickens, and what seems like it will be a great distance to travel is proven to be another trick of the mist when I almost stumble into the bearer of the light, one arm reaching out to steady me as the shuttered lantern swings from his other hand.

“My lady?”

My gaze sketches out the edge of narrow shoulders placed somewhere beneath a head and the brim of a cap. I search for the more identifying features of a face, but the gloom is too thick and so I must make do with the familiarity of the voice instead.

“Mr. Robson.” There is no gesture I can make that he will see, and so I move closer, my eyes fixing on the thin line of light peeking out from behind the cover of his lantern. “Where is he?”

My guide says nothing, but his fingers tighten on my arm and he draws me onward, our steps kicking out stones behind us as we rush towards the river and the treasure most recently dredged out of it.

Continue reading “An Update and a Short Story”

Guest Post: Interview with Eleanor Melville, from Jude Knight’s A Raging Madness

Today, I turn my blog over to historical romance author Jude Knight, who brings us an interview with her heroine. Readers, enjoy!

My heroine is Eleanor Melville, widow of cavalry officer and baronet Captain Sir Gervase Melville. Ella was living at her husband’s country estate, nursing his elderly mother, until the dowager Lady Melville died and Ella was forced to flee the ill intentions of Gervase’s half brother and his wife. Louise de GuÈhÈneuc, duchesse de Montebello (1782-1856)

  • What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I have lost everything I have achieved. I was proud of my successes as physician-surgeon to my husband’s regiment, unacknowledged though they were since I was a woman. But Gervase sent me home to England. I took over his neglected estate and made it thrive. Gervase grumbled, but did not interfere when he found his income increased. But then he died and left the property to his brother, who is slowly ruining it. And children; the wife of a baronet has one important role. I failed, and failed again, before at last I gave birth to my little Richard. But he died while still a baby.

  • What is your idea of perfect happiness?

In my dreams, I live in the country, with friends and family around me. Children, perhaps? The world is full of children who need a home and the love of a mother. If some fairy godmother wishes to bestow on me a small competence, I will buy a house in some country village, and fill it with children.

In my dreams, I have a husband. Not one like Gervase, but a man who supports and respects me. Foolishness, of course. If such a man exists, he would not be interested in a widow well past her first youth. Besides, I lost my heart long long ago, and the man who holds it is gentry-born; the grandson of an earl. No. I do not expect perfect happiness.

I am, however, seizing the happiness I can, travelling with that very same man. That is not as scandalous as it sounds. He has been all that is proper and is, besides, too ill for dalliance. But these past weeks together have been wonderful.

  • What is your current state of mind?

I am content. As I just said, I have the best of company. I am also being useful, keeping things clean and providing meals for the menfolk. I will not think of my uncertain future, or the danger if my in-laws pursue me. I am content.

  • What is your favorite occupation?

I enjoy all the work of running an estate. I love caring for people, helping them to recover their health. If I could find a position doing either kind of work, it would be wonderful. Alex has promised that his sister will help me, and she is a great lady, with many useful contacts. I used to enjoy schooling my colt. I hope he has survived; I fear what Edwin might have done to him.

Oh. You mean a single occupation that I do for pleasure? Reading, then. I read novels, though my sister-in-law Constance assures me it is a low occupation, and one that rots the morals.

  • What is your most treasured possession?

(Ella’s smile turns wistful, and she gazes into the distance.) I possess neither of them. I had to leave them behind when I fled. The colt Falcon’s Storm and the medical kit I had from my father. Storm is all I have left of my mare, Hawk of May, and my only inheritance from Gervase. His horse Lightning was Storm’s sire.

  • What or who is the greatest love of your life?

(In a whisper.) Alex. But he must never know how I feel, for I am sure he would be kind and his kindness would break my heart. He is such a kind man. When I travelled with the regiment, it was always Alex who protected me from danger and saw to my comfort, while Gervase thought only of himself. And when I turned to him for help after escaping Edwin and Constance, he put his own wellbeing at risk to save me.

  • What is your favorite journey?

The one I am on. Travelling the canals from Cheshire to London is both peaceful and fascinating. But the best part has been getting to know Alex again.

  • What is your most marked characteristic?

Once I have given my loyalty, I stay true. At least in my actions, though my thoughts may rebel. But my thoughts are my own.

  • When and where were you the happiest?

Now, this canal journey, is the happiest I have ever been. After Richard was born, I was filled with a joy such as I’ve never known. But I was very ill, and my mother-in-law was confined to bed with her first attack of apoplexy. Edwin and Constance arrived with news of Gervase’s death and every criticism under the sun. My joy in my child was a glorious bright light, but it shone in the darkness. This happiness pales by comparison, but my fears and worries are small and not worth dwelling on.

  • What is it that you most dislike?

Two-faced liars. People who pretend to piety and charity, but who tear other people’s characters to shreds behind their backs and who will do a bad turn if they can without consequence.

  • What is your greatest fear?

I fear being forced to go back to Edwin and Constance. What they have planned for me… (she trails off and shudders).

  • What is your greatest extravagance?

Books. When I was mistress of the income from the estate, I used to have the latest novels sent from London. Even now, when my only money comes from Alex’s pocket, I cannot resist picking over the second-hand book stalls at every market we visit. Alex is worse than I, mind you, loading up young Pat like a pack-mule.

  • Which living person do you most despise?

Beyond a doubt, Constance Braxton. She is married to my husband’s half-brother, Edwin Braxton, and I had the misfortune to live with them both. He is a mean bully, and she is worse. Part of the reason I stayed after my husband died, instead of seeking a position as a companion somewhere, is that I would not leave my mother-in-law to Constance’s nagging, neglect, and nasty remarks. She was a sweet gentle lady, and did not deserve her sons, let alone the witch that Edwin married.

  • What is your greatest regret?

If only I had kept Richard with me. I tell myself it would not have mattered. He was born early, and he was frail. But he had been better. He was feeding well. He was putting on weight. The doctor said I should let him sleep in another room so I could regain my own strength, and Miller and Constance promised they would take turns to sit with him. Miller went to sleep, and when she woke, he was gone. If only he had been with me, I might have heard him. I might have been able to do something.

  • Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be able to draw and paint. Alex can, and I watch with awe as the scenery we pass comes to life under his hands.  

  • Where would you like to live?

As I said before, I’d like to live in the country. I have been in London, and in Liverpool. Large, noisy, and smelly. I don’t mind where, but a cottage with a garden where I could grow herbs for the kitchen and for medicines, and flowers to heal the soul.

  • What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Losing someone I love, and feeling that I could have done more to save them. I never want to feel that way again.

A Raging Madness a raging madness new style small

Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.

Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him. 

In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.

***

Jude KnightJude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.

She writes historical novels, novellas, and short stories, mostly set in the early 19th Century. She writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

Website and blog: http://judeknightauthor.com/

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Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Jude-Knight/e/B00RG3SG7I

Email: jude@judeknightauthor.com

Buy Links: 

Jude Knight’s book page: http://judeknightauthor.com/books/a-raging-madness/

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iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/book/a-raging-madness/

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Read on for an excerpt from A Raging Madness!

The operation would be performed in the outdoors, where the light was better. They were only a few yards from where the Maggie Belle was moored, and all going well, they would return there after the operation. Big Dan had agreed that they could travel on with the narrowboat if Ella was prepared to guarantee Alex was on the mend.

“I don’t wish to disoblige, Mrs Sedgewick, especially when you and himself have been so good to my Pat, but I don’t want a gentleman dying on my boat, and that’s a fact.”

The canal was the gentlest way to transport Alex to London, and Ella trusted Big Dan and didn’t want to start again with another boat. She paid his costs to stable Bess for another day, and a bit over for his trouble. If she was able to save Alex’s leg, they would be ready to travel on tomorrow. Not saving Alex was an intolerable thought, and she would not entertain it for a moment.

It was a cool day in late autumn, but fine and still. Alex was carried from the boat across the bridle path to the field where they had set up trestles on a borrowed door they had pressed into service to act as stretcher and operating table.

Barlow and Whitlock had returned to watch, and Mrs Manning had bullied them into washing so they could help hold Alex during the operation. Mrs Manning’s husband had also been an advocate of Alexander Gordon’s theories that contagion was minimised by cleanliness, something Ella’s father had taught her. She had seen the benefit many times when his patients and hers survived in greater numbers than those of other doctors.

With that in mind, she had boiled the lancets and probes Mrs Manning provided. The cloths they would use, too, had been freshly laundered in boiling water, and the door had been scoured with strong soap and then draped with a clean sheet.

They strapped Alex to the door to stop him moving, gave him a wooden block to bite on, washed his naked thigh and draped cloths around it to catch the fluids that would spill.

“I will be as quick as I can, Alex,” Ella said, and Alex smiled and told her, “I trust you, Ella.”

She could not think of that: could not consider she was about to cut into her nemesis, her saviour, her dear friend; could not remember the consequences if she failed. She said a quick prayer, and then, as her father had taught her, she took a deep breath and let it go, releasing with it all consciousness of the small crowd of watchers, of the still smaller crowd of helpers, of Alex as a person.

Before her was a leg. A thing of meat and bone and blood, and within it the enemy, the death-bringer. Finding the abscess, releasing the poison, that was her entire focus. The muscle of the thigh was simply something to be damaged as little as possible as she sliced into it to reach the poison beneath.

She had chosen the sharpest and most slender of the lancets, and with it she cut quickly and deeply. On another plane, someone gave a smothered, strangled scream and the thigh twitched, but not enough to deflect her blade from its path. There. Pus, a thick yellowy cream springing up the channel she had made mixed with the blood that tried to drown her view.

Of a sudden, her detachment deserted her, and she braced herself against the table, tightening her suddenly weak knees so she didn’t fall. Rotting flesh had an odour all its own; once smelled never forgotten. This was infection, but not rot. She was in time.

And time was of the essence. No indulging in vapours.

The Perils of Travel in Historical Fiction: A Guest Post by Caroline Warfield

18009085_10155113596020833_1125127663_nTravel presents a challenge to any writer of historical fiction. I once asked my brother, a navy veteran, how long it would take to sail from Ostia to Genoa and he said, “That would depend on the ship, the tides, the winds, and the weather.” Not much help! Luckily there are sources that can give approximate times for frequently used routes. 

In writing The Reluctant Wife I discovered that a typical trip home to England from Calcutta took six months by sail. SIX MONTHS?! What on earth was I going to do with characters shipboard for that long, and/or how could I handle a big time gap? I discovered another option. In 1835 the India Mail instituted steamship and overland service from Bombay. Steamers would travel up the Red Sea to Suez. Passengers then disembarked and went overland to Cairo, sail up the Nile and then across on the Mahmoudiyah Canal to Alexandria. From there they embarked on a second steamer to England. It took four months off the journey.

That left me with two teeny-weeny problems. #1 The steamer and overland service from Calcutta didn’t begin until 1841 and #2 My story was set in 1835. There is a reason why they call it fiction. I took the liberty of moving Calcutta service forward six years and apologized afterward. My characters were much happier, particularly a small girl who was dee-lighted to go the way that involved camels. 

 

 18009198_10155113595015833_1116346867_nThe Reluctant Wife

Children of Empire, Book 2

Genre: Pre Victorian, Historical Romance Heat rating: 3 of 5 (two brief -mild- sexual encounters)

ISBN: 978-1-61935-349-9 ASIN: B06Y4BGMX1 Page count: 275 pages

Pub date: April 26, 2017

When all else fails, love succeeds…

Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.

All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, that what she needs is a husband. She certainly doesn’t need a great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.

Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly isn’t ashamed of his aristocratic heritage, but he doesn’t need his family and they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?

Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Reluctant-Wife-Children-Empire-Book-ebook/dp/B06Y4BGMX1/

About Caroline Warfield

18009773_10155113597720833_1894483266_n

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Caroline is a RONE award winner with five star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, Night Owl Reviews, and InD’Tale and an Amazon best-seller. She is also a member of the writers’ co-operative, the Bluestocking Belles. With partners she manages and regularly writes for both The Teatime Tattler and History Imagined.

Website http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

Amazon Author http://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/

Good Reads http://bit.ly/1C5blTm

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7

Twitter @CaroWarfield

Email warfieldcaro@gmail.com

Children of Empire

Three cousins, torn apart by lies and deceit and driven to the far reaches of the empire, struggle to find their way home.

Giveaway

Caroline will give a kindle copy of The Renegade Wife, Book 1 in the series, to one person who comments. She is also sponsoring a grand prize in celebration of her release. You can enter it here: http://www.carolinewarfield.com/2017blogtourpackage/

The prequel to this book, A Dangerous Nativity, is always **FREE**. You can get a copy here: http://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/a-dangerous-nativity-1815/

Excerpt 18034863_10155113596610833_468827986_n

I want to take the steamship and camel,” Meghal interrupted.

Ah yes, the camel. Do you plan to ride north along the Silk Road to Istanbul, or merely cross the Punjab into the Kingdom of Kabul and beyond?” Fred asked, unwittingly echoing Clare’s reaction to the shipping agent.

Where is that?” Meghal demanded.

To the west,” he responded.

Meghal turned to Clare. “Is the Nile in the Kingdom of Kabul?”

No. Egypt. It is also west, but farther south”—Clare waved a hand back and forth—“but we’re not taking the steamer route.”

Tell me about this route you aren’t taking. The Nile?” The workings of his daughter’s mind mystified him; Clare’s fascinated him.

Clare briefly explained what she had learned about the inaugural run of a mail steamer to the Suez.

What is the advantage?” he asked.

It cuts four months off the time we would spend cooped up on a ship,” Clare answered.

Camels,” Meghal declared. Her eyes widened as a new idea struck. “And crocodiles.”

The disadvantage?” he asked, barely controlling his laughter.

Goodness, Fred. I would have to disembark with two children, travel overland to Cairo, travel by river barge down the Nile and the Mahmoudiyah Canal to Alexandria before embarking on yet another steamer for Falmouth or Southampton while managing luggage and keeping your daughter from wandering off with the first interesting band of Bedouins she encountered.”

But Papa can help with the luggage, and I promise not to follow any—what are Bead-oh-ans?”

Clare’s face registered the shock he felt. Neither one of them had mentioned his plans to his daughters. Clare raised a brow and shrugged, obviously unwilling to rescue him.

You’re on your own, Wheatly, he thought as he tried to put words together while Meghal smiled hopefully at him.

I thought you knew, Meghal. I’m not going with you. You will have to take care of Miss Armbruster for me.” She will like the idea of caring for everyone, he thought, pleased with himself for coming up with that.

His daughter’s instant response disabused him of that notion. “Why?” she demanded, the universal challenge of children everywhere. Before he could think, she stabbed him in the heart and twisted the knife. “Don’t you care for us?”

Of course, I do! Never think that.”

Where will we go? Who will take care of us? Do we have to live with Miss Armbruster?” Meghal colored and turned to Clare. “I’m sorry, Miss Armbruster. Ananya and I like you, but you aren’t family,” she said. “We need family.”

Fred seized on her words. “That’s just it. I’m sending you to family. Your Aunt Catherine and your cousins will be happy to have you come and stay with them while I”—he clenched his teeth—“while I find work so I can send her money for your care.”

Meghal sank back in the chair, outrage still rampant on her face.

Music in its Roar – A Short Story

I intended to have this finished nearly two weeks ago. I also intended this to be a short-short story, maybe 2k words or less. And then it grew, and grew, and grew, and finally just tipped its toe past 6k words and here we are.

If you’ve read any of my earlier short stories (Dust and Silver, Sleet and Shadow, Pale for Weariness) set in this world of werewolves and corsets and proper speech, then this is a prequel to those (though there’s no particular order in which any of them needs to be read). And if you’ve been curious as to how Mr. Callum Muir took on the curse of a werewolf, well then this is the tale for you…

Music in its Roar

Music in its Roar 

He wasn’t entirely certain of the day. Morning, perhaps. But, no. The light was all wrong. Despite the mist that clung to everything, mingling with the fog that hovered several feet above the ground, there was a quality to it; a glow that spoke of a sun completing its journey towards the horizon, of stars springing back to light in an unseen sky.

He could’ve moved if he’d wanted, away from the questionable puddle by his right hand. The stench would still be there, but at least he would find a safe remove from its source. Instead, he flexed the fingers of that same hand, one at a time, wincing as he reached the third finger, the one he suspected was broken. The pain was fresh and raw, still throbbing as he took to turning his wrist once, and then again. Another thing broken. He recognized that feeling, along with the ache in his ribs, the grinding of fractured bone every time he drew in another breath of the foul, cloying air.

There were windows, though less resembling their namesake than existing as mere apertures in a crumbling wall. Even the door was gone, ripped free of its hinges some time before, enough years passed since its removal that ivy grew thick around the frame, as if it would reclaim the building along with himself, should he lie there much longer. And if he could roll onto his side, or at least turn his head, he knew that she would be there, too.

Continue reading “Music in its Roar – A Short Story”

Rooting for the Bad Guy

Generally, my heroes are good guys, in the sense that they’ve always been good. They may be a bit stuck up when I pick up their story, or have made a few poor choices here and there (because no one in the real world ever does that… *shifty eyes*…) but for the most part, they’re good. You know they’re the hero within the first few scenes they have on the page. And so you dig out your pom-poms and you cheer for them. Edmund_Blair_Leighton_-_Courtship

But sometimes… Well, sometimes I like to give the bad guy a chance. I know that’s not always something that sits well with prospective readers. We (and I do include myself in this group, sometimes) want to see things in black and white. Frodo, good. Sauron, bad. Ring must be thrown into the fire. (Isildur! NOOOOO!!!) And yet, doesn’t the “bad guy” get to have his shot at redemption?

It’s a thread I’ve noticed running through some of my stories more and more. Someone screws up. Someone screws up badly. And yet, they get their second chance (or maybe it’s their third or fourth or seventeenth chance by the time we run into them.) One of my future releases, The Bride Price, features an antagonist who early readers dislike. Vehemently. Give him a moustache and he’d be twirling it. But down the road, I still plan on giving him his own story, his own shot at fixing his life and trying to make up for past mistakes.

Some people who know I plan on giving him his own redemption story are NOT PLEASED about this. Well, okay. That’s your thing. But it’s interesting how people see villains, how they want to keep them tucked into their little box of evil and not let them out to make something better of themselves.

Is it because we like to keep things clearly delineated? Good is good and bad is bad and never the twain shall meet?

Does the young woman who gives up her child for her sister to raise and takes a large sum of money in return always have to be portrayed as bad, or do we get to revisit her some years down the line, when age and acquired wisdom have perhaps changed her views and made her regret some of her previous choices? (Yes, that character will have her own story down the line, too. Believe me, I have a lot of stories in the planning stage. Probably more than I should.)

Maybe because I’ve grown older (well, slightly older… middle-age older) I like to write characters who are not perfect, who might fit the role of antagonist in one story but work their way to hero or heroine in the next. Maybe because I’ve seen people change over the course of years (and years) that I’m more inclined to reflect those alterations in personality in the fiction I produce. Or maybe I just like messing with people. That could be it, too.

 

 

Taking the Plunge

Years ago (Ten? Eleven? I should know this, but my husband will be the first to tell you that I am terrible with dates) I made some friends. We met on an online forum that had been created to discuss our shared criticisms of a certain fantasy novel/series. But we didn’t really do much in the way of criticism. That gets old. So instead we chatted. About everything. And I mean, everything. And the weeks, and the months, and the years went by. The website and the forum and all of the other things that went with it fell by the wayside. But a tight group of us remained, sharing our life experiences. Marriages, deaths, births, moves, jobs lost and gained, just life and all of its angles.

And some of us write. We wrote back then, but we were baby writers, still figuring out the ins and outs of storytelling (well, we still are…) still trying to figure out the rules before we learned that they’re really only guidelines. That writing is passion and bleeding out onto the page and realizing that each of those words is a tiny piece of your soul. (Horcruxes, man. Horcruxes EVERYWHERE.) And now some of us are published. Now some of us are doing this full-time, because we can’t see ourselves doing anything else.

So after that intro, I’m really just leading up to the announcement that one of those dear friends, someone with whom I talk about cooking and marriage and kids and, again, everything in-between, has taken a huge step.

Today, K.S. Villoso (I call her Kay) is releasing the second two books in her first fantasy trilogy. This is big for her. This is make it or break it big. And I am sitting over here, cheering and praying and hoping that everything goes well. Because she is an amazing writer. I’m not simply saying that because she is a friend. I have friends who aren’t good at things, and I don’t write blog posts talking about things they’re really not good at just to give them a poof of self-esteem. She is an excellent writer. The proverbial diamond in the rough. And she has worked HARD at this. Because writing (like almost everything one is passionate about) can be hard, exhausting, draining work.

So here is her first book. It’s currently free on Amazon (don’t ping me if you find this post some time in the future and it’s back up to full price!)

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It has been years since his brother’s accident. Kefier was only just beginning to live a normal life–at least, as normal as it could get for a mercenary from a run-down town. And then an errand goes wrong and he finds himself holding his friend’s bloody corpse.

Already once branded a murderer, he is pursued by men he once considered friends and stumbles into the midst of a war between two mages. One bears a name long forgotten in legend; the other is young, arrogant Ylir, who takes special interest in making sure Kefier is not killed by his associates. The apex of their rivalry: a terrible creature with one eye, cast from the womb of a witch, with powers so immense whoever possesses it holds the power to bring the continent to its knees.

Now begins a tale with roots reaching beyond the end of another. Here, a father swears vengeance for his slain children; there, a peasant girl struggles to feed her family. A wayward prince finds his way home and a continent is about to be torn asunder. And Kefier is only beginning to understand how it all began the moment he stood on that cliff and watched his brother fall… (Amazon link)

Here is the second book in the trilogy:

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Enosh, apprentice to one of the richest merchants in the Kag, is secretly heir to a broken line of mages. Because of The Empire of Dageis’ quest for sources of the agan–the life-source that mages use for power–his people have been reduced to scavengers, his culture diminished to a speck in the wind. For more than ten years, he has helped raise a conjured beast to use as a weapon against the Dageians. But Enosh’s plans are falling apart. A powerful enemy has escaped and Enosh needs to capture him before he reaches Dageis. His quest is further complicated after he finds himself used as a pawn by Gasparian nobles.

On the other end of the continent, Sume, daughter to a Jin-Sayeng hero, must return to her roots to save her country and bring honour to her father’s name. To do this, she must befriend a prince and understand the terrible, corrupting nature of power and the reason her father was driven to walk away from it all those years ago…

Meanwhile, Kefier, Enosh’s agan-blind brother, is forced back into a life of violence. As he struggles with the notion that hands, once bloodied, never stay clean for long, he finds himself occupied with an unexpected burden: his own brother’s daughter. (Amazon Link)

And, finally, the third:

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The battle at Shi-uin has left scars. The rise of Gorrhen yn Garr to power seems unstoppable. As nations fall, the lines between love and duty become blurred and Kefier, Sume, and Enosh must learn to live with the choices they have made.

The stunning conclusion to the epic fantasy trilogy that crosses champion and spectator, friends and enemies, and hero and foe in a tale of conflict, revenge, and lost kingdoms. Highly-praised for character development and rich worldbuilding, The Agartes Epilogues is a must-read for the discerning epic fantasy fan. (Amazon Link)

So, there you are. The first two are free for a limited time. The third is on sale (again, limited time, so no resting on your laurels). They are good books. Kay is a fantastic author. Grab them. Read them. Review them. Tell others about them. Go on, now. I have to go tell my kids to stop playing in the bathroom (again).