Tag Archives: epic fantasy

I Was Eaten By A Dragon

Eaten By A Dragon

OK, perhaps not. Not me, anyway. It was my editor. Well, not by a dragon. But certainly buried under a backlog of edits.

You recall I mentioned the release date for Stalking the Demon wouldn’t change barring a disaster on the scale of being eaten by a dragon. Well, two rounds of edits have been completed by my first editor but the third round (the first of two by my second editor) won’t even start until 16 September. I customarily do three rounds of edits, with a fourth copyedit and then a proofread. Based on my editor’s timeline, I have glumly concluded it would be unwise to try and release the book before 31 October.


So with a heavy heart I must move the release date. 🙁


For those who have signed up for the free eARC, this will also change the date the advance reader copies are available. If you haven’t signed up yet and would like a copy of the book before it hits the shelves, follow the link below to sign-up.


I must accept the blame for this debacle. I was on maternity leave when I wrote and released Confronting the Demon, and while I was working part-time from home and looking after a newborn, it’s not quite the same situation I find myself in now, and it was difficult to judge how long everything would take. In addition, I completely screwed up the first three drafts – I say that, but of course each draft was successively better than the last, it’s just that I started in a pretty rotten place that created more work for me.


To put this in context, this is what I have on my plate day to day:

  • I work full-time as a lawyer in financial services law;
  • My commute is a 3 hour round trip;
  • I have two children under 5;
  • I am married;
  • I am, of course, writing Stalking the Demon;
  • I do 2000 exercises daily to repair my abdominal separation;
  • I have a (hopefully temporary) eye condition which means I can’t currently wear my contact lenses – to attempt to fix that I must apply eye drops 4 times daily, as well as apply hot compresses and perform eyelid massage;
  • I attempt to make it to the gym 3 times weekly as I try to shed the last of my pregnancy weight;
  • I run our household.

On top of that mind-boggling list, the additional issues I am struggling with right now include:

  • Deciding if our 4 year old should go to school next year;
  • I am about to become a partner at the law practice, which has associated stresses with it such as arranging finance, managing additional budgetary and taxation issues, seeking accounting advice, plus all the additional concerns of a business owner such as managing business finance and cash flow;
  • I have been completely redoing my website, which is almost finished, but the Blogger to WordPress transition is still in front of me; and
  • I recently had minor heart surgery and I’m still kind of in the grey area where it looks like my condition is probably cured but I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. The fact my heart hasn’t gone into tachycardia given all the above stress probably means I am cured, but still it weighs on my mind.

I’m so stressed and distracted that when booking Comic-Con tickets for next Sunday, I booked them instead for Saturday. I never make such mistakes.


So all I can say is that after this year’s experience, I have learned, and I promise to do better for the next release.


If you’re as disappointed by this delay as I am, please please please do sign up to receive your free advance copy – that way you’ll get it as soon as it’s available, instead of waiting for the official release date.Fill in the form below (or follow this link if the form plays up).


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Monday Morsel: Hellcat In the Dark – An Excerpt from ‘Stalking the Demon’

Hellcat

Stalking the Demon has been coming back from beta readers and I’m working on incorporating their feedback – next step, off to the editor!

* * *

The laboratory was dark when Alloran returned. With sunrise only an hour off, Ashraque had finally gone in search of her bed. She was dedicated, if nothing else. The same couldn’t be said for Dalvor though – had he even looked at the interdimensional problem?

He pushed the door shut until the latch clicked. The windowless room was blacker than graphite. Indigo sparks ignited on his fingers. But no… Light would wake him all the way up, and maybe a few more hours sleep was better. The magic died.


A hiss issued from the depths of the room, like steam escaping a pot. Had Ashraque left some experiment unsupervised? 


The glow of two red cat eyes opened in the shadows.

* * *



Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is the fourth draft, and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment. Stalking the Demon is expected to be released in August. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out the free short stories available on this site.


If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment for Stalking the Demon.

More about Stalking the Demon:


Alloran lost his hand to thwart his renegade friend–but the world is still going to hell.

Six months after Ladanyon’s defeat, Gisayne is fading away from a baffling illness. Alloran is desperate for a cure, but he has a secret–the seven circles of hell are unstable. His worst fear is that the terrible mirror spell cast upon Gisayne has wrought some connection between her and the demon dimensions.

As everything Alloran loves races toward destruction, he does the unthinkable and refuses to obey the council of wizards. The only people who can help him are the two research assistants assigned by the council–but he knows he can’t trust them.

The answers are locked away in the last place anyone wants to go: hell.

But someone must.

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I is for Ishafal: Dragon Bait (Part 4) – Free Fantasy Story

Ishafal

Welcome back to Part 4 of Dragon Bait. If you missed Burning: Dragon Bait (Part 1), Dragonflame: Dragon Bait (Part 2), or Guilt: Dragon Bait (Part 3), make sure you check them out first!

* * *

 The soft sound of a foot scraping on stone woke him. Too many years treasure-hunting on behalf of Athelstone had honed his sense of hearing. His hand closed on his sword, and he climbed to his feet, automatically cloaking his presence from dragons. He jammed the satchel hard into a crevice he found in the cavern wall. A shadow appeared at the cave mouth.

Framed against the light of midday, the black, feathered wings rose stark above her shoulders.

Varik’s hand tightened on the leather-wrapped hilt. Useless.

The Ishafal stepped inside, laughing. The waterfall sound of her amusement mesmerised him. Raven-black hair framed a face set with deep, dark eyes, and her flawless skin showed the tell-tale pearlescent sheen every Ishafal and Siren possessed. Blue and violet robes trailed across the stone.

Varik’s mouth fell open. His hand released the blade, and the weapon clanged to the rocky floor. Focus, fool. He tried to gather wits scattered by the unearthly beauty approaching him.

‘So, thief, cornered like the rat you are.’

The power in her voice stirred him, and a foolish smile spread across his face. Stop thinking with your dick.

But he wasn’t; the magic in her voice beckoned, seducing and tempting, and no man could resist. Varik stepped towards her, unable to control his expression of adulation. He shook his head. Fight her!

Varik’s step faltered, and he wiped the stupid grin away with effort, forcing words from a constricted throat. ‘Thief? You’re the thief.’

The Ishafal’s marvelous face darkened with anger for the barest moment before a charming smile curved her luscious lips, smoothing the anger away. ‘You stole from me what is rightfully mine.’

Lassitude stole over him again. The corners of his mouth began to turn up in a beatific smile. Before the magic claimed him completely, he forced words through clenched teeth. ‘You stole it from Athelstone.’


‘It was mine first, before the Fall.’


Her words possessed a hypnotic rhythm, and Varik smiled, happiness and contentment suffusing him. Somewhere inside his head a voice protested she wasn’t alive at the time of the Fall, more than three thousand years ago. Nevertheless, he nodded, head bobbing loose on his neck. ‘If you say so.’


Inside, he railed at his compliance, and rattled the bars of the cage she wove with her magic voice, to no effect. Tension drained from the Ishafal’s frame. She turned her back on him to rake the cavern with her gaze. Despite himself, he didn’t move, the foolish grin still plastered on his face.
 

‘Where is it?’ The Ishafal turned back and walked across to stand before him.

Varik screamed at himself from the prison of his own head. His mouth started to open. Somehow, he made himself bite his tongue, mangling the words before they emerged. A metallic taste filled his mouth.

Blood. Blood and weeping sores. He latched on to the taste of it, the look of it, feeding his guilt at his failure, his anger at the Ishafal. His body tensed against the magic, and a fixed, defiant grin writhed onto his lips. Painful image after painful image, he forced himself to remember the last days of Mesalina and his nieces; the terrible, prolonged agony of their dying.

The compulsion of the Ishafal’s voice eased. He imagined his fingers wrapped about her throat, crushing the fragile bones. His grin widened, lips drawing away from his teeth in a wild snarl.
 

‘I take it back.’ He forced the words out despite her. ‘I don’t believe you. It’s not yours. You weren’t alive during the Fall.’

The Ishafal hissed, and her wings spread wide in a rustle of feathers. The allure dropped away. ‘You question me? You, a mongrel son of a demon? An agent of Athelstone?’

Varik ignored the insults. He knew her magic to be dangerous in other ways than just the glamour of her voice. The hidden box remained his advantage. Once she had the box, she’d kill him.

Varik sidled along the wall towards the entrance. The light in the cavern dimmed momentarily as something outside blocked the sun and moved on. A shadow skimmed across the ledge, but the Ishafal didn’t turn. An idea took root in a flash. The dagger was gone, crumbled to ash, but here was something better. The only thing as old as Ishafal and demon was a dragon’s hatred for Ishafal. Might he lure her outside? If she trapped him in the cave, he was dead. If he lured her out… he still might be dead. Reckless, to play with a power as wild and mighty as a thunderstorm. He’d pay that price if she went with him.

He shrugged. ‘What else am I going to do to pass the time? Besides, it’s pretty easu to question a claim that is so obviously a load of -‘


The Ishafal shrieked. ‘You dare? You ignorant demon bastard! The box contains cesium, which we used before the Fall for things you can’t even conceive in that tiny, egocentric brain of yours! Technology beyond anything your pathetic human race can even dream.’
 

She seemed to recall herself, and settled her wings behind her. A charming smile lit her face. Not the full force of her glamour, but an attempt to soothe him.

Cesium? It must be what lay inside the box. What was technology? ‘You can say whatever you like about what’s in the box, what you say it does. It proves nothing.’ Varik stumbled over the unfamiliar word, and shuffled closer to the cave entrance. If he told her where to find the satchel, it might buy him enough time to slip outside. A gamble, by any measure. ‘And I don’t care anyway.’

The Ishafal hissed again, and her ebony wings snapped wide in ire. He jumped back, colliding with the rock wall hard enough to smart. She stalked deeper into the cavern, farther away from the entrance.

‘Don’t care? I was there when humanity crawled bleeding and raw from the toxic wasteland the fallen world became. Humanity would have died in the Fall, had we not saved some of them, changed some of them, so they might tolerate the poisons in the atmosphere until the world healed itself. We created you, and -‘

‘You know what I care about?’ He didn’t care that he interrupted her, ignored the way her eyes widened in fury. ‘You killed my sister and her daughters.’


I killed them. Failed them.

The Ishafal’s eyes widened and she lunged at him, almost tripping on her trailing robes. A shrill screech issued from her throat as she spread her wings for balance.

Varik’s back already pressed hard against the wall. ‘It’s over there!’


The winged woman spun, following the direction of his pointing finger.
 

‘Dragon’s blood!’ Now he was committed to his half-formed, foolhardy plan.

An orb of magic lit her way as the Ishafal darted toward the back of the cavern. Varik didn’t wait for her to find the box. He dropped the protections hiding him from the dragon, and bolted for the cave mouth. From behind, the Ishafal shouted in triumph. 


* * *



**AUTHOR’S NOTE: This fiction piece is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and has not been to an editor.**

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my March Newsletter if you missed it.

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Floor Plans of Caisteal Aingeal an Bhais: The Castle from In the Company of the Dead

Caisteal is Gaelic for castle and ‘Aingeal an Bhais’ is Gaelic for the angel of death, or more simply, Death. I’m not sure that putting them together like that produces an end result of castle of the angel of death, but it doesn’t really matter – the people who named the castle are not Gaelic, more… inspired by the Gaelic, and the castle’s name isn’t necessarily intended to translate literally in Gaelic.veroxybd.com

Whatever it means in this world, in the (as yet unnamed) story world it definitely means Castle of the Angel of Death.

I’ve been working on the floor plans for some time, and now here they are. There is a sub-basement which I’ve not bothered to draw, it mostly consisting of subterranean caves used as a midden which must be periodically emptied. I’ve drawn the basement, but not included it here, and the second floor consists only of the gatehouse.

Caerlaverock has a moat, as well as what is believed to be a second outer moat which is now dry. For the purposes of Caisteal Aingeal, I’ve changed this dry outer moat to protected pasture inside a second larger wall. At the time of In the Company of the Dead, this second outer wall has fallen into disrepair and is indefensible. However, it still provides significant protection to the castle because, although it cannot be defended, it is in good enough repair that it would need to be scaled. This outer wall is within bowshot of the inner wall, which means any force attempting to climb it would be easily picked off as they climbed. This also means any attacking force can’t camp within the outer wall.

A force well-protected by shields can still enter via the ruined gateway, but of course this narrow approach bottlenecks the enemy, and essentially limits assaults to the front wall of the castle. Trying to circle around to attack the rear wall, or indeed even the back half of the side walls, would be an exercise in futility, merely exposing soldiers to continued rains of arrows, and lengthening the lines of retreat.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, Ellaeva, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she is in pursuit of a necromancer of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the necromancer is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

Against the backdrop of clashing gods, Lyram must fight to save himself from the political machinations of his prince, and the dread plans of a necromancer. But as the siege lengthens, he realises the greatest threat may come from another quarter — a woman sworn body and soul to a god tempts him to pay a terrible price.

Monday Morsel: Kiss in the Night – An Extract from In the Company of the Dead


Блоки погреба

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget, this is a first draft, and as such won’t be perfect. If you like what you read, and are so inclined, show your support by leaving a comment, and In the Company of the Dead will be available in the future. I aim to have the first draft finished by the end of March. If you’d like to sample more of my writing, check out my novella Confronting the Demon.

If this is your first visit to Monday Morsels, find others in the series by clicking on the ‘Monday morsel’ tag, or go to the first installment.

Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, Ellaeva, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she is in pursuit of a necromancer of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the necromancer is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.