Hybrid: Isn’t that some sort of car…?

I’m not actually going to talk about cars. I mean, this is a writing blog, not a car blog, and what do I know about cars anyway?

So when I say hybrid, I am, of course, referring to hybrid authors: those who both self-publish, and traditonally-publish.

Or, more specifically, myself.

That’s right. As of today, I am a hybrid author.

Which is a very roundabout way of telling you guys that I got The Email today, informing me that Lady of Dreams had been chosen for a publication contract with Kindle Press.

Eeek! Such excite!

Stop the presses!

No, wait, don’t.

I’m a bit confused. Also, I’m still in the death throes of Blackfoot, so I’m not making much sense either way. Next week, when I’ve finished Blackfoot, collected my thoughts, and started making sure LoD is as pretty as it can possibly be, I’ll write a proper blog post.

But in the meantime, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR NOMINATING LADY OF DREAMS!

Adventures in Wattpadding

So.

As promised, the first chapter of BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU is up on Wattpad!

imageI’m having a bit of fun with this, so keep your eye out for KDrama tropes, familiar names, and other stuff. The chapter headings I’m using are all taken from the songs of one of the bands that I’m listening to as I write: if you figure out which band, email me at gingellwrites[AT]gmail.com and I’ll send you a free ebook of your choice. Bonus BONUS points to anyone who can tell me which songs the chapter headings are from!

BATEOY is in its ‘rough’ form (aka, there will be significant editing and/or changes once it’s finished, prepatory to publication) so feel free to point out my mistakes with as much glee as my mother does…

(How much glee is that? A lot. A LOT of glee.)

Here’s hoping you guys have as much fun with this one as I’m having.

TFCOA: Entering Phase Two!

THE FIRST CHILL OF AUTUMN has officially entered phase two!

3rd Shards_TheFirstChillOfAutumnWhat I mean by that, of course, is that it’s in the competent hands of a set of very lovely people who have agreed to beta read for me. I’ve already had some amazingly useful feedback, which means I’m plotting and cogitating on changes (or non-changes).

This is the first time I’ve had beta readers (apart from my wonderful Sis and Ma), so it’s been interesting and slightly nerve-wracking in terms of wondering what they’ll come back to me with (like ‘your book sucks and should be burned alive’). As I said a blog post or two ago, my MC, Dion, is fairly different from the heroines I usually have, so I was particularly interested to see what the reaction to her would be.

All in all, the publication time-line is coming along nicely, and if it keeps on going this swiftly, I might even be able to move up the publication date. Maybe. (I’m hoping so, because I really want to share this one with you all, not to mention it being the culmination of my Very First Trilogy!)

In the meantime, have a sample of TFCOA, and don’t forget to preorder!

The First Chill of Autumn

Until she reached the age of seventeen there were four certainties in the life of Dion ferch Alawn.

The first was that her parents were always wise, always right.

The second was that her life would always fall into the same orderly rhythms as it had thus far.

Thirdly, she had no doubt that she would one day be queen.

The fourth thing of which Dion ferch Alawn was absolutely certain was that the tall, ebony-skinned man she often saw in her bedroom mirror meant her no harm.

As it turned out, this was the only thing in which she was entirely correct.

***

Dion was three when the Fae arrived. She didn’t understand much about it at the time, except that these tall, graceful people with their beautifully tragic faces were exotic and exciting. She wasn’t allowed to be excited about it, of course: Crown princesses were expected to be sedate and regal at all times, and even a three year old heir couldn’t gape in excitement. Dion’s twin sister Aerwn wasn’t similarly restricted: she gaped and gasped and bounced to her heart’s content.

The Fae came in small numbers at first, fleeing from a peril in Faery that was talked about in hushed tones. They each asked for and were granted an audience with the King and Queen, and most were settled in Harlech. Dion heard, but didn’t understand the mutters around the castle when it became known that the Crown—and by proxy the people—was paying for their resettlement and daily food.

Before long there was a steady stream of Fae arriving every day. Some of them were settled in Harlech, some in other Llassarian cities, and still more of them seemed to settle right in the castle itself. Soon the maids were all Fae, swiftly and gracefully performing their duties. The footmen morphed from a group of well-trained and orderly men, into a regiment of perfectly starched, perfectly beautiful Fae.

By the time Dion and Aerwn were five, their tutors were all Fae. Aerwn, naturally graceful and quick to learn, blossomed beautifully under their tutelage. Dion, who always felt clumsy and awkward around the Fae, became stiff, careful, and silent. The Fae had a great deal to teach, however; and though Dion grew neither more graceful nor more silver-tongued, she did gain a remarkable proficiency in magic.

 

 

Dion had become so used to the constant presence of the Fae in her life that when the tall, black Fae first appeared in her oval dressing mirror, she didn’t think more of it than to feel in a vaguely embarrassed way that she was intruding. She had only recently turned seven, and her Fae instructors had taught her so well that she knew not to question or challenge the Fae rudely.

Fae thoughts are high and wise, she knew. A Fae always has a reason for what the Fae does. It is not for mortals to question or upbraid.

And so Dion hurried past her mirror whenever she was in her suite, hastily averting her eyes whenever she saw that the tall Fae was back. She was so used to being observed and tested by then that being watched even in her suite didn’t seem unusual. And the Fae, apart from the fact of his actual presence, wasn’t intrusive. He didn’t do much more than stand there, though sometimes he seemed to be talking. Since no sound came through the mirror, Dion assumed that he was talking to the Fae on his side of the mirror, and still abashedly avoided the mirror as much as she could.

They would quite possibly have continued in this way for the next few years if Dion hadn’t sprained her ankle a few months after her seventh birthday. If it came right down to it, as with most things in the twins’ young lives, it wasn’t so much that Dion had sprained her ankle, but that Aerwn had sprained it for her. It was Aerwn who bullied a terrified Dion into climbing into the saddle of their father’s horse; Aerwn who confidently asserted that she could and would climb on right after you, you scardy!; Aerwn who had opened the stable door for them both; Aerwn who seized upon Dion’s foot when their father’s horse charged grimly for freedom, dashing herself and her sister to the unforgiving paving-stones of the stable.

Be that as it may, it was Dion who finished the day in bed, her face whiter than usual and her foot very carefully elevated. The Fae were too sensible to heal human injuries quickly without reason—Dion herself had been taught how dangerous it was for the human immune or reparative systems to be brought to rely upon magic for its healing—and the young princess was put to bed for the afternoon with the promise that she would be better tomorrow.

From the bed it was impossible not to see the dressing mirror, and Dion was in an agony of embarrassment in her attempts not to look at it. First she gazed at the gauzy sweeps of her canopy, then toward the window; now at her bedposts and then at her toes. Looking at her toes had the unfortunate result of bringing her into direct eye contact with the man in the mirror, however, and Dion looked away awkwardly. At last she settled on pretending to read a book, her face carefully shielded from the mirror; and began to feel the stiffness in her cheeks relax a little. Dion liked reading, though if poetry were excluded, there weren’t really many books to read for pleasure. Previously popular books, with their old prejudices and ancient enmity, were frowned upon by the king and queen. The castle had once had such books, Dion knew, but with the Fae had come the Cleansing: the washing away of all previous conflicts and anything that could be used to incite unrest. It was necessary. But Dion remembered some of the tales that had been read to her when she was younger, and the new, correct books didn’t hold quite the same sense of wonder or adventure.

By and by, Dion began to notice a golden glow to the edges of her book. It haloed the wrist and the hand that were holding the book aloft: a soft, magical luminosity that made her reach out to touch it with her other hand. It was ethereal but somehow heavy in the air. Dion caught a breath in her throat and dropped her book, her eyes flying at once to the man in the mirror. He was looking right at her, and on the mirror was an embossing in the same gold that formed curlicues up and down the glass. Dion, her mouth as wide open as her eyes, watched in fascination as the curlicues gained form and structure, and became words.

The words in the mirror said: Don’t they teach you about sound?

“Sound is vibration,” said Dion doubtfully. She wasn’t unsure about what sound was: she was unsure why it mattered. She had been right at first: this was a test. “I haven’t seen– that is, the magic is beautiful. How do you– do you mind telling me how you’re doing that?” He waited so long to respond that she had flushed and added hurriedly: “I’m sorry! Of course, you can’t hear me. How silly of me,” before the golden curlicues reformed to add: What does that tell you?

“You c– can hear me!” said Dion foolishly. “Well, vibrations. You speak, which makes the air vibrate, and then those vibrations play against– oh! Oh, I know!” The glass in the mirror was stopping the vibrations from coming through and getting to her ears. That’s why he seemed not to make any sound though his mouth moved.

Dion wriggled painfully toward the edge of her bed, a pale reflection of herself grimacing and haltingly stumbling forward in the mirror. The Fae, who somehow seemed more real than she did in that reflection, simply waited. Dion’s ankle ached and throbbed, but she continued doggedly on until she could place her palm on the mirror. She wasn’t yet proficient enough with magic to affect things she wasn’t touching, and she regretted it more than ever now.

The Fae waited for her, impassively. He didn’t seem to be concerned with her pain, though Dion thought that he watched her very carefully; and when she at last laid her palm against the mirror, damp with sweat, he gave her a single, short nod. It said well done, though the mirror didn’t.

Vibrations, thought Dion, and sent a tracery of raw magic into the mirror. In the mirror, the Fae spoke, and she felt the vibration of it against her veinwork of magic. The mirror was too thick to allow the vibrations through, and Dion was wary of softening it: Fae though he might be, she wasn’t sure she wanted him stepping through the mirror along with his voice. She left her tracery of magic where it was, and ran a small thread of it through to her side, where it was easy enough to transmit the vibrations again.

It wasn’t until a deep, rough voice said: “Good technique,” that Dion was sure it had worked. The curlicues disappeared, and for the first time she got a really good look at the Fae, unfestooned by gold or seen as a flicker in the corner of her eyes. He was very tall and broad in the shoulders, with a scarred face and a huge broadsword that was bigger than Dion was. It occurred to her, belatedly, that despite the colour of his skin, he didn’t at all look like a Fae. She’d thought of him as Fae by default, for what could an ordinary man be doing in her mirror, after all?

“Your magic is strong,” he said.

Dion, both embarrassed and hot with pain, said: “Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me,” he said. “You’ll regret it, in time.”

Dion didn’t like to contradict him, but she was quite certain she would always be glad for her skill in magic. Since that thought verged on rebellion, she quickly pushed it away and said: “Are you here to protect me?”

“Yes,” he said. “And no.”

“Are you here to teach me?”

“Yes. And no.”

That was certainly very Fae-like. Dion, daring one more question, asked: “What will you teach me?”

“Two things,” said the Fae. “How to use your magic. And how to die.”

All About Wolfskin

Just a quick note to let you all know that Wolfskin is Finished, Done, Kaputt, Uploaded, etc, etc. It will be available May 1st, and if any of you out there on the interwebs are interested in getting your hot little hands on a review copy of Wolfskin, send me a note via the comments, the Contact tab, or email (gingellwrites AT gmail.com). Reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Blogs, and Kobo are very greatly appreciated 🙂

Wolfskin will be going on blog tour from July 6th, so reviews are welcome any time from May 1st through to July 26th. Later is fine, too, but I’d love to co-ordinate everything together if possible. If you’re interested in having me as a guest on your blog during this time (guest post, interview, excerpt, etc) feel free to contact me by the above methods.

I will also be setting up a Goodreads Giveaway mid-May.

See below for a blurb of Wolfskin, and if you’d like to check out an excerpt, click on the Excerpts tab.

Have a lovely week, all!

“If you want adventure, you have to march right up to it and kick it in the shins . . .”

At fourteen, barefoot and running wild, Rose is delighted to be apprenticed to Akiva, the witch of the forest.  She thinks it will be all enchantment and excitement, and not so much fuss about baths.  The reality is much more sober and practical- that is, until she meets a mysterious wolf in the forest and is tricked into stepping off the path . . .

In young, naive Rose, Bastian sees a way of escape.  Cursed to remain in the shape of a wolf after running afoul of a powerful enchantress, he has lived many decades under a spell, and now he is both desperate and ruthless.  But by breaking part of Bastian’s curse, Rose has caught the attention of Cassandra, the enchantress who cursed him: and Cassandra is by no means ready to forgive and forget.

Meanwhile, wardens have been disappearing from the forest, one by one.  Rose is certain that Cassandra is behind the disappearances, but can she and Bastian get to the bottom of the matter before Akiva disappears as well?  And are Bastian’s motives entirely to be trusted?

Sometimes the little girl in the red hood doesn’t get eaten, and sometimes the wolf isn’t the most frightening thing in the forest.

WOLFSKIN - 2000

Busy, Busy, Busy

It’s been a busy week. And now that I’ve written the word ‘busy’ five times, it’s looking really weird to me. Maybe I need a nap.

But I digress.

It’s been a busy week. My proofs for Wolfskin came in (finally!) but since they’re late arriving I have only a week and a half to check and correct. So there’s that. Then there’s the last 5000-odd words of Spindle that need to be done by next week if I want to keep on target with that particular deadline. And then there’s Memento Mori (the second volume in the Time-Traveller’s Best Friend series). I’ve only just begun it, and though I know roughly what the story arc for the collection will be, and have a few titles and ideas for a few of the stories, I still need to write the thing. By August at the latest.

With all these deadlines, you’d think I’d be madly at work on one or all of them. No such thing. I also got a new idea for a Short Thing for Weekly Fiction’s Open Call For Submissions. Naturally, I started work on that, with a little bit of editing and proof-reading around the edges. Fortunately, Wolfskin is proving much less complicated than Masque was. I seem to have caught most of the errors and inconsistencies and missed words before this point (does that mean I’ve advanced a level? New Power! Error-Free Gained!) and it’s really mostly a matter of a tiny change here and there.

Added to all the above is a busier-than-usual week at work, coupled with an annoying surge of my favourite companion, Meniere’s Disease.

I may just quietly go mad for a while. Don’t mind me. It’s a self-chosen madness after all.

What about you guys? Who else has a murder of deadlines? (Well, what is the group word for many deadlines, anyway?) And are you actually working on them?

Housekeeping

Did you guys know that printed books should always be odd-numbered on the right page? Or that text should be right and left justified? Or, for a matter of fact, that when you shorten the front of a word with an apostrophe (ex. ‘leave ’em alone’) that the apostrophe must face the same way as one that shortens the end of a word (ex. ‘doin’ what comes naturally’).

I didn’t until I started self-publishing. Got any idea how long it takes to go over 300-odd pages of text, looking at every flamin’ apostrophe? Oh yeah, and MS Word just puts ’em through as regular apostrophes. You gotta think about every shortened word as you type it. (Well, there’s probably a function I can turn on somewhere in the recesses of the program, but beggared if I know where it is.)

Also on today’s housekeeping: both Masque and A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend: Volume One are on a Goodreads giveaway at the moment, until about mid-April. I’ve got three signed copies of each to give away, so if you’re interested, click through the link on either above, and enter to win. A handy little feature of Goodreads that I found out about just a few days ago, and that I’m very happy to make use of!

And as I announced on my Facebook and Twitter pages, Wolfskin is at present being sent out to bloggers and reviewers. If you’re interested in getting a free copy (either ecopy or paperback) for the purposes of a review, contact me at gingellwrites [AT] gmail.com, through the comment section, or from the form on my Contact page.

Fourthly and lastly, I’ve been bingewatching On The Up with the wonderful Dennis Waterman, delightful Sam Kelly, inimitable Joan Sims, and pot-stirring Jenna Russell. SO MUCH FUN. So many glorious one-liners. And I’m completely in love with the ending.

Well, that and the equally wonderful live-action version of Black Butler. I’ve watched it three times now. It’s become one of my all-time favourites along with Alice (mini-series version with Andrew-Lee Potts), The Fall (Lee Pace), and City of the Lost Children (Ron Perlman).

Seriously. Watch any of these.

Over and out.

(What? You didn’t think my housekeeping would include actual work, did you? Well, apart from all the apostrophes.)

Let The Games Begin! (Aka, Masque Is On Tour, And So Am I)

Let the games begin! The book blog tour for Masque has kicked off at The Indy Book Fairy, where you can read an excerpt and enter to win a paperback copy of Masque. Come on along and say Hi!

Further stops will be:

15th- I Heart Reading (Starter Party)

17th- Nat’s Book Nook (Promo Post)

18th- Books, Books, and More Books (Promo + Excerpt)

20th- Howling Turtle (Promo Post)

22nd- Mystical Books (Guest Post)

24th-100 Pages a Day (Book Review)

25th- Tea Talks (Promo Post)

26th- Jooniel Obsesses Over Stories (Book Review)

28th- Literary Musings (Book Excerpt)

28th- Dreams Come True Through Reading (Promo + Excerpt)

29th- C.J. Anaya’s Blog (Book Review and Character Interview)

So follow along with me as I traipse merrily across the blogosphere: and don’t forget to enter into the rafflecopter draw to win a paperback copy of Masque!

(I’ll even sign it for you. Hmm, draw or put-off . . . ?)

masqueblogtourbanner

Wolfskin Excerpt

Wolfskin is on its final edits and will be published May 1st, 2015! It’s set in the same world as Masque but is a standalone novel with separate characters. I will hopefully be doing a blog tour a month or two after publication, but in the mean-time, here’s a short excerpt for you to get a feel for the book.

Enjoy!

 

When I stepped from the thread to the path leading to Akiva’s front gate, there was a woman between me and it.

She was so beautiful. I’m not sure why I expected her to be otherwise. Her hair was black and glossy, and hung loose to her waist in a sleek, rippling sheet that mingled with royal purple satins and silks that were as sleek as her hair. Her eyes, framed by impossibly long, dusky eyelashes, were of an equally impossible shade of violet. I saw them and my herbs scattered themselves on the path, dropping heedlessly from my nerveless fingers. Those twin violets gleamed with the same darkness I had seen in Bastian’s eyes the first time I met him.  

Horned hedgepigs! I thought, swallowing. It could only be Cassandra.

She looked me up and down with those brilliant, purple eyes while I regretted fervently that I hadn’t been a moment quicker, and then said: “You’re not pretty.”

Her voice was bell-like in consideration; and, like every other part of her, breathtakingly beautiful.

“I know,” I said. Even if I had been as beautiful as Gwendolen, I couldn’t have hoped to compare with Cassandra. I eyed her unblinkingly, wondering why it mattered to her.

“You’re not pretty,” she repeated; a statement, not a question. “I didn’t expect that. He must be desperate.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” I said, scowling. I was coldly frightened, and that made me angry. Black, tarry magic was stirring around her, creating nasty pockets of corruption in the air that made me feel ill: it was vastly more powerful than anything I had ever seen.

She looked at me contemptuously through the haze. “Beauty is all that matters to him, stupid child. You can only lose.”

“Bastian isn’t here,” said Akiva’s voice suddenly and startlingly. I tore my eyes away from Cassandra’s and saw her, knobbly and infinitely welcome, leaning on a stick behind the enchantress. For a horrible moment it had felt like I was drowning in the brilliant lavender of Cassandra’s eyes.

Akiva hobbled past her and put a hand on my shoulder. I felt a sense of her power, welling up deep inside her, warm and comforting. I think I was still looking up at her with wide eyes when she said quietly: “Go into the house, Rose.”

As I closed the gate with cold fingers, I heard Akiva reiterate: “The wolf isn’t here.”

“I can smell him all over her!” hissed Cassandra.

There was a silence suggesting that Akiva was shrugging; then her old, firm voice said: “I sent him away: he knows what I think about him. Today was goodbye.”

Their voices faded with distance, but as I loitered on the garden path I saw the warm glow of an astonishing and formidable power rising to meet and match Cassandra’s. I recognized it as Akiva’s, hale and hearty, and stronger than I could ever have imagined. After that I hurried to get into the safety of the cottage, feeling the hairs prickle on the back of my neck, because I knew that it was no longer safe for me to be out in the open. Once inside, I plumped myself down in Akiva’s chair, absently staring into the fire and contemplating the extraordinary power I had just witnessed. For the first time in the excitement of my new magical prowess, I felt thoroughly humbled and weak. My own power, puny in comparison to that shown so effortlessly by both Cassandra and Akiva, was pitiful past thinking about. I was suddenly very thankful for Akiva’s protection. In the coldness of the moment, I knew there was no chance that I could ever hope to fight against Cassandra and win.

Wolfskin is available for preorder on Amazon and Kobo, due for release May 1st, 2015.