RELEASE DAY: Throne of the Five Winds

Did you ever want to do something really, really different? So different, indeed, nobody would guess it was you?

I did. And my publisher was willing. And now you can read it.

The warlord Garan Tamuron and his general Zakkar Kai have unified Zhaon. The crown to their conquest is the neighboring country of Khir, a dagger pointed at Zhaon’s heart—now bled white and dulled, forced to send tribute to the conqueror.

Two queens, two concubines, six princes—the palace complex is full of jostling, sly gossip, and danger. A hostage for Khir’s good behavior, the lady Komor Yala has only her wits and her hidden maiden’s blade to protect herself… and her childhood friend Princess Mahara, sacrificed in marriage to bring a tenuous peace.

The Emperor is aging, and only one of his many sons may take the throne. Whether they wish to or not, all six princes are locked in a deadly battle, and a Khir princess and lady-in-waiting are merely pawns to be used. Still, it will only take a single spark to ignite fresh rebellion in Khir. If that spark is the mistreating of their cherished princess, Yala’s beloved lady, war may be closer than a maiden’s blade itself.

And then, the Emperor becomes ill, and a far more deadly game begins…

Available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores.

I’ve seen a few people saying the book takes a long time to get underway. That’s true; it’s like every first book in an epic fantasy trilogy that way. Just sit back and settle in, my friends, there’s two books left and enough heartbreak, intrigue, dazzlement, tea, and gore to suit you all. Sip your drink and let me tell you a story of an emperor, six princes, three lands, a barbarian horde, and a lady-in-waiting with secrets sharper than her blade.

Originally titled The Maiden’s Blade (which some of you will remember pieces of for my dear subscribers) this first book has had a long hard road to publication. I sort of didn’t want to tell anyone, but it’s too good a secret to keep–especially according to my publisher.

So, my dears. Enjoy. I’ll be out for most of the day, trying to take deep breaths. Even a quasi-unannounced release day is enough to give me nerves.

Very Little Brain

On Monday, I added net 8k words to The Maiden’s Blade in the process of getting the last third revised. Yesterday morning I finished a few small detail bits and sent the whole shebang off to my editor, who was no doubt relieved that I hadn’t run away with the manuscript clenched firmly in my jaws never to return.

I mean, I thought about it, but the prospect of carrying that 180k motherfucker for even a mile makes me tired. I spent the rest of yesterday doing errands and staring at a Resident Evil movie or two.

Today I am a bear of exceeding little brain, and will be folding laundry or doing other chores that don’t require much in the way of decision-making. I am all decided out, my friends. And tomorrow I move to the next thing on my list–revisions on the next Steelflower book.

No rest for the wicked or the weary, but there might be a day of little brain to perform all the minutiae of daily life that adds up when you spend weeks buried inside an epic fantasy. Things need to be dusted, hoovered, washed, dried, put away instead of just in a pile. The dogs, no doubt, will be very interested in the process, and Sir Boxnoggin in particular will want to help.

He is a dog of Very Much Help. If his nose isn’t in whatever you’re doing, just wait thirty seconds. Miss B, today, is a Dog of Very Much Herding, and she is nipping at Boxnoggin’s heels to induce him to be Even More Helpful.

…I’m already tired. Maybe I should go back to bed. Except then the dogs would pile on, and any rest I achieved short-lived indeed.

Onward and upward, my friends. Onward and upward, over and out.

Bundle of Cheer

Barn Owl
© Donfink | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Got the wind knocked out of me on Monday evening, and I suspect it won’t come back any time soon. I am beginning to hate April; it’s just one thing after another this month. Not to me–I’m doing well–but people I care about are having somewhat of a rough go, and all I can do is support. I long to take a katana to the problems, but that would require enemies one could simply dispatch with a blade.

Life is full of those, but also full of ones you can’t. Plus, swinging an edge often leads to paperwork, and nobody has time for that.

So instead it’s budgeting my energy and retracting somewhat into a social shell so I can reserve enough to be an effective support and get my writing done. It’s a good thing I deactivated Facebook; one could so easily sink into a morass there.

Today marks the beginning of Atlanta Bound, Season 4 of Roadtrip Z. There’s a lot planned for this final season, it’s a real stunner. Once the road trip is over, I’m really thinking the next serial will be Robin Hood in Space, so I’d best get that underway.

The trouble is, Hostage to Empire wants to chew up all my bandwidth. Book 1 now wants to be called The Maiden’s Blade, which should make the editor happier. It’s also hit 80K and shows no sign of stopping or even slowing down. I have to write the kidnapping, the assassination attempts, and an emperor’s death. Hopefully I can get it in at least rough zero form by July; the timeline is compressed because it’s taking the place of the dead book. *sigh*

So. It’s time to get the first two chapters of Atlanta Bound prepped for subscribers, revise another two chapters of the same for next week’s offering, and get in daily wordcount on Maiden’s Blade. Also, some yoga needs to be done, because I am pushing myself hard while running and as a result, my entire body feels like one big bruise. Oh, and I should probably leave the house to fetch milk, right?

I’ve had eight shots of espresso this morning, the therapy lamp is on, and all I want to do is go back to bed. My eyelids need toothpicks to prop them open. If I’m a very good girl and get all the things on my list accomplished today, maybe I’ll plant some beans in the garden boxes.

It’s not much, but at least it’s one small unstressful something I know how to do.

Hug the people you care about today for me, please. Tell someone you’re there for them, and do something nice for yourself, too. We’re all stuck on this rock hurtling through space, and caring for each other is the only way we’re gonna get through it. I mean, life is inevitably fatal, but at least we can do some good before going to sleep.

Yeah, I’m just a bundle of cheer and optimism today. Over and out.

Book, Bandwidth

Season 3 of Roadtrip Z goes live tomorrow, which means I’m having release-day nerves all the way down. Maybe that was why my Sunday was full of staring and not getting much done.

Thankfully I get to run today.

*time passes*

My frustration with the home warranty company still dicking me around over the dishwasher replacement reached a certain level that usually leads to stomach irritation, so I tied my shoes and hit the pavement with Miss B. Who was quite pleased, thank you very much, and is now exhausted enough to be a Very Good Dog for the rest of the day. I mean, I know she’s always a Very Good Dog, but this will make her a Very Calm Dog as well. Or at least, as calm as an Australian shepherd can get.

She’s currently sprawled in the hallway, opening an eye whenever I pass. She would like, no doubt, to be snugged up against my office chair, but she suspects I have plans of moving about, and the hall remains the place she can keep track of me without hauling herself upright to supervise my peregrinations.

Today I have release day nerves and concomitant self-care to attend to, as well as seeing if I can get this lady-in-waiting kidnapped and a pair of unlikely rescuers. I have to get through several other scenes to do so, or I could just say “to hell with it” and write the kidnapping/rescue first, then go back and fill in the piercing, the confrontation in the market, the next arranged marriage, and a couple assassination attempts.

This is going to require some thought, and more coffee. I’m hoping the book’s architecture will let me work on it non-chronologically, but that may be borrowing trouble. We’re at almost 80K words for this damn story, it’s only book one, and there’s at least a third more of the whole thing to cram into writing time over the next couple months.

I’m not sure I’ll make it.

Plus, this is something I’ve never attempted before, and the anxiety over maybe fucking it up beyond repair is…mounting. Even sweating for multiple kilometers doesn’t erase that completely. The only way out is just doing the best I can and seeing if I can hit the updated draft deadline. On the bright side, a book usually takes over all my available bandwidth like this right before it spikes towards the finish line.

It’s just that instead of having only 10K words or so to get out of this monster, I have more like 30, and that’s if I’m lucky.

I keep meaning to reserve a little energy to work on Robin Hood in Space–the first season will probably be titled Hood, Home–but when I get to the end of working on Khir’s Honor for the day, I’m worn out. I’m not sure anything else can give in order to free up energy. Dog care, child care, running–those are non-negotiable hard points, and I’d really love to keep on with Latin and piano since the latter is one of the few times my brain doesn’t eat itself during the day, and Latin makes me happy. I have so much crammed into a day, and need to cram in even more.

Well, complaining about it won’t get it done. Time to set a timer and get the fingers to working through the setup for the kidnapping scene. I may have to throw it out later, but at least it’s progress.

Over and out.

The Potential Pile

Rain. Rain, rain, rain, and I get to go running in it. Miss B is extremely excited, and doesn’t understand why I have to run the dryer before we leave. My running jacket just went through the wash, and I want to make it as dry as possible before I go out and…get rained on. I also just had to tell B to calm her multiple teats, since a neighbor is running a chainsaw in the back yard and B is Defending the Household with a bonus of Making Sure Mum Knows There Are Things Going On.

Speaking of the back yard, we’re going to have to keep the Mad Tortie in. She used to be an inside cat, but when we moved she darted out through the back door and has managed, by hook or crook, to be an outside cat ever since. She’s killing too many birds for that to continue, though, and she’s also getting older. Which means we’re going to have to get serious about blocking her escape-artist habits. Safer for her, and definitely safer for the feathered and furred denizens of Backyard.1

I got a grand total of a thousand words in yesterday, all layering in a scene that isn’t very sexy but is extremely important. I’m juggling umpty-scrump character arcs in the doorstop epic fantasy, and while I don’t personally like or get excited about all of them, they’re necessary for the book to have any depth. It’s also fun–for a certain value of fun–to stretch my narrative skills. You keep swimming or you suffocate.

So the warlord-turned-Emperor is facing his own mortality, his sons are jostling in the succession, his wives and concubines are afraid for their children and themselves, the foreign princess bartered to the Crown Prince in return for a peace deal is nervous, her lady in waiting keeps having to fend off assassins, that one prince is being a dick, the general-turned-prince-by-adoption is having tricky feelings, and then there’s the assassins and the court ladies and and and.

Man, I love this book. I’m in the slough in the middle where it feels like it’ll never get done, but I still love the shit out of it.

I also meant to do some Robin Hood in Space last night, but I got sucked into piano practice and also watching the Blade Runner sequel. I didn’t finish it–leftover exhaustion from the weekend rose up and laid me flat–and I have…thoughts about the whole thing. Like, I’m really tired of female bodies being disposable things for spec-fic “hero” characters to transact through. So tired. And the Dickensian workhouse as a hallmark of dystopia and shorthand for “here is a morally grey character running this place” is just…come on, people, stop with the shortcuts, let’s do something new or at least change up the visual shorthand.

As usual, if I want something like that, I’m going to have to create it myself. At this point I’m just adding it to the list of potential projects, and telling myself that the gods can’t take me yet, I have too much work to do.2

There’s no shortage of work, and I’ve taken on a short-term editing project as well as some comic book scripts. Because of course I’m not happy unless I’ve got a glut of work to get through. There’s also a break in the rain coming, so it’s time to lace up and drag my laundry out of the dryer.

*narrator voice* And so, Tuesday begins…