There’s An Epilogue In This Freaking Book

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When I started writing about Serengard six years ago, I would have laughed if you told me it would lead here: to a four-book series, the last of which is 430 pages long, and the launch of an audiobook.

It started as a dare. At 22, I’d been writing for most of my life, but kept every one of those writings under lock and key. Friends and family would glimpse an abstract chapter here or there, but read a whole draft? Nope.

I blurted out Coldness of Marek during NaNoWriMo 2011 with the intention of finally letting people read something I had written. I wasn’t sure if I’d be posting it on WattPad, a blog, or letting a dog-eared printout circulate at Thanksgiving, but I decided I would be emotionally uninvested in the outcome enough to not care who on the planet got their hands on it.

What could possibly go wrong, if I didn’t care? Well…a local press-for-hire told me it was one of the most well-written manuscripts they’d ever had submitted, and it went to my head a bit. Cool, I can churn out good writing in my sleep? Okie dokie. Self-publish that thing, make it a paperback, I don’t care. Let everyone in the fam have a copy, I don’t care. Good reviews and bad didn’t dent me much, because I’d seen the whole investment as merely a fun jaunt.

But something happened. I was asked about the sequel. There definitely was a sequel just screaming to be written. Hey, I had fun with NaNoWriMo last year, let’s do it again!

Problem: I got invested. Almost as invested as I had been in my lock and key stories. Dammit. Now I owed myself something. Now I owed my readers something. Now I had to let the whole world in on the little secret that, yes, I can write passionately…I just like to hide it. Knights of Rilch wasn’t a story that I could relate to, or that anyone else could likely relate to, but it came from deep in my soul and carried themes dear to me. Loyalty. The friendship between a brother and sister. Tough love. Mentors. Things I couldn’t just shrug a shoulder at.

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Darci Cole, Narrator

Then came the weird and awkward task of revising Coldness of Marek to actually work within a series — a series I cared about, with a debut that I didn’t? Fun fun. The only thing to be done was to pepper in bits of story that I did care about. Deepen the villains. Hint at the many layers of the washed-up, bitter characters. Weave the two books together so they shared a bit of a bond. Saving Coldness was tricky, and it felt like making a patchwork quilt, but this was also the point in the game where I had several amazing critique partners and beta readers giving me invaluable feedback. I also found an awesome editor who helped it flow and make a bit of sense. Its second release in 2013 garnered a positive response that rather shocked me (is still shocking me!), and eventually led to the creation of the audiobook, narrated by the incredible Darci Cole.

The release of Knights of Rilch was one of the most exhilarating events of my writer life. The year it came out, 2014, I had two kids, and two books. I was doing the two things I loved the most: hugging my babies and writing. (I was also knee-deep in the online book world, which was already felt like it was changing too fast for me to keep up.)

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Knights of Rilch Review Copies

The trouble with Knights of Rilch was that it was too long. I had to split it in two, into another book. (That other book became Rise of Orion and took on a life of its own.) I poured so much effort into getting Rise out there the same year so that Knights wouldn’t be left dangling, I burned right out. I’m not sure why I pushed so hard. It wasn’t smart. I didn’t even have the morale to properly promote it.

What floored me, though, was that Rise sold even better than Knights did. (And Knights did well, for the modest expectations of the amateur self-publisher I was.) I mean, I didn’t even email my friends to tell them I had a book coming out. I forgot to inform my local bookstores that Knights had a buddy. (The day I found Rise of Orion chilling on the shelf of Bull Moose anyway made me cry. I mean…they had my author name on auto-order?) I still run into people who say, “Wait, there’s a third one?” Yeah. And…the other trouble was…I had ended the third one on a cliffhanger. There wasn’t enough space in that book, either.

At this point, I realized I’d finally dug in and created a story with characters that had long, slow arcs. I’d put a fast pace on the plot and a slow burn on the timeline. I liked it that way…maybe even loved it that way. Rise of Orion certainly didn’t contain any neat little bows. The story must go on.

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(Aside: who likes neat little bows, though?)

Blood of Ashlin was gnawing gently at my consciousness for all of 2014, while I was releasing two books and chasing two toddlers and wondering if I’d ever go to the beach again. I drafted it, revised it for a couple of years, and really, really took my time. The amount of frustration that went into it is hard to even quantify. It’s a story that’s a little too complex for me to summarize. (It’s supposed to be a summary in and of itself, actually.) It doesn’t explain everything — I don’t know that there is a way to explain what Serengard is or has become — but there’s a lot more paint on that canvas than I’ve flung at my past canvas’. And there might even be a neat little bow or two. I mean, this series is done, done. There’s an actual epilogue in that freaking book.

That brings me to today. A completed project. A series under my belt. Blood of Ashlin on the shelf next to the other three, where it belongs. Coldness of Marek beginning a new life on Audible and iTunes. I don’t know what this means for my writing career going forward, but I know I loved making this art, and I enjoyed sharing it way more than that lock-and-key-writer in me would have ever imagined.


BloodOfAshlinCoverAfter the death of notorious Seren king Altrun, Izannah Orion ascends the throne in Serengard under less than traditional circumstances. Ten years younger than she should be, and with questionable parentage, she is merely a stand-in for an heir that murdered his siblings and threatened to eclipse the kingdom in dark chaos. Against bad odds, Izannah quells unrest, forges treaties, and engenders trust where it is least expected…even in the thick-skinned, deeply scarred Captain of the Guard. more

Blood of Ashlin (Serengard, Book 4) Paperback/eBook
Amazon | Barnes & Noble |Books-A-MillionKindleKobo | iBooks | Nook


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Coldness of Marek Audiobook

Serengard has been under Orion rule for centuries – centuries of insufferable adherence to laws and traditions that its people no longer believe in. Raised by her scholarly grandfather in the fiery southern city of Neroi, Trzl is dedicated to turning the monarchy into a free society where knowledge is king and no one has to be subject to the whims of an Orion. more

Coldness of Marek (Serengard, Book 1) Audiobook
Amazon | AudibleiTunes

 

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Three Announcements

At last. I have things to tell you, me hearties.

I do realize this blog, my Twitter feed, and newsletter have been silent for…a long time. If you’ve left off following, I blame you not. But if you’re still reading, stay tuned, for there’s much to hear.

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FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT: New shiny thing (already announced on Twitter, but in case you missed it)… Coldness of Marek is going to be an audio book!

Darci Cole has done a masterful job reading it. If you know Darci, you may know that this is her first audiobook performance ever, and PEOPLE, YOU HAVE TO HEAR THIS. She has a silky smooth voice that truly does the story more justice than my clunky words ever did. Watch Instagram and Twitter for some teaser clips in the coming month. It will release February 26, 2018, and will be available for Audible and iTunes.

Now, since I’ve been writing it for three years, I’m sure you’re a bit tired of hearing about the fourth and final book in the Serengard series, Blood of Ashlin, but since the cover reveal is really, truly happening tomorrow (January 31st) on IceyBooks.com, it’s about time I tell you there’s an actual release date!

SECOND ANNOUNCEMENT: On February 26, 2018, the last of the Serengard Series will hit shelves.

(Same day as the audiobook of Coldness of Marek. Cool, right? You really should tune in to the cover reveal tomorrow, too, because we’ll be giving away an audiobook over there.) Blood Of Ashlin will be available at bookstores, and you can totally order it in at your local indie. Also available online at Amazon, B&N, Powell’s, etc, of course.

So basically, the entire five-year chapter of my life known as Serengard will be done. [Unless I miss it too much and have to release a collection of short stories.] OKAY, it will be over, I just had to put a caveat in there in case I have to eat my words in like ten years and write some random dark chronicle of Ric’s wanderings, you know.

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THIRD ANNOUNCEMENT: the Street Team will be officially closing.

I’ll be sending out a batch of Blood of Ashlin Trading Cards as soon as they’re available, and new bookmarks, and then it’s over. I have SO MUCH heartfelt thanks for you all, I don’t even know how to put it into words. I’ll try to, when I send out the last Street Team packages. Until then, do stay tuned. There will be a lot happening in February, including some audiobook giveaways.

Thank you for sticking with me! <3

Serengard: Book Four Title Announcement + Dream Cast

Last week I finished the first draft of the fourth Serengard novel. It was a really hard book to write (what book isn’t, right?), partially because I was exhausted from pushing so hard to launch Rise of Orion, but also because it’s the final novel in the series. There’s so much resolution that absolutely has to take place, and it’s tricky. A finished draft is still a rough and ragged thing, but while this novel definitely has a lot of evolving and wrangling and rewriting in store, I finally feel I’m to the point I can start treating it like a real book.

SO.

I’m pleased to announce that there will be one more Serengard novel, and one more only; Blood of Ashlin will release in Summer 2016, and will be the final book in the series.

I’m now going to be entirely indulgent and post my dream cast for the entire series. A lot of these actors were a toss up between two or three possibilities, and I’m still not entirely decided (what else is new, lol), but here is the best cast I could conjure and it was ridiculously fun.

P.S. Even though it’s going to be a whole year before you can read this book, I intend to make it up to you by holding some epic giveaways this summer. Because you’re awesome.

           Kierstaz  :  Alona Tal    |     Mikel  :  Tahmoh Penikett    |    Trzl  :  Amy Acker

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 Malcom : Colin Ford  |  Colstadt: Manish Dayal   |   Gernan: Daniel Henney  

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   Sark: Sendhil Ramamurthy      |       Aura: Erica Tazel        |       Pier: Khaled El Nabawy

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Izannah: Molly C. Quinn   |   Rendl: Eric Bana  |  Andrei : Steven R. McQueen

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Sunn: Jamie Chung  |  Gavriel : Djimon Hounsou  |  Hodran : Daniel Gillies

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Otreya : Kevin Costner   |   Riyev/Tanya: Gemma Arterton   |   Tierrof : Chadwick Boseman

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Nerri : Kat Graham   |    Ric: Timothy Olyphant  |   Natalya: Mackenzie Aladjem

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Sophomore Baby: Knights of Rilch (Serengard #2)

Today on the Knights of Rilch Release Day Blitz:
Interview on E.M. Castellan
Deleted Scene on Young Adult Guy
“Darth Vader and the Knights of Rilch” Review at My Random Muse
Review at Darci Cole’s Blog
Review at Amanda Shayne’s Sort-Of-Blog
Review at The Bearded Scribe 

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Today my second book baby goes out into the world to become its own grown-up self!

Throughout all of the excitement of this day, I was overcome with one major feeling: I am so very, very grateful. Being able to publish and share my stories has always been my dream, and to do it well takes a huge amount of hard work. I’ve been blessed to have the best critique partners and editor a person could ask for, as well as supportive friends, betas, and proofreaders who were always willing to read when I needed them.

The Serengard Series started as a sort of fling with fantasy for me, and then it became much more than that. I’ve had my writer fingertips bleed with angst over these novels, the pages hacked up time and again, and finally produced something I’m truly proud of. With Coldness of Marek, it was a heavy, frightening leap. I was scared out of my wits, but I did it. With Knights of Rilch, I’m ecstatic. I know this book is the strongest thing I can write at this point in my life, and that makes me confident and pleased to put it out there.

Everyone who helped produce it, everyone who buys it, everyone who reads it, thank you. Truly.

Available from these booksellers:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

{ Order signed from Author (US) }
{ Order signed from Author (International) }

{ Add to Goodreads }

Nearly a decade ago…Final_WebVersion

When Serengard rebelled and the Orion monarchy fell, former crown princess Kierstaz Orion’s love for her people became a burning desire to set things right. With a price on their heads, Kierstaz and her brother Mikel led a handful of men against the new army, fighting skirmishes all along the border of Dreibourge. But months of heavy bloodshed forced her small band of knights to abandon the border—and all of Serengard—to the rebels.

Nine years and a thousand betrayals later…

Kierstaz and Mikel again find themselves on the run—only this time, they’ve a boy in tow: Malcom, the son of two of the Seren rebellion’s strongest leaders. The new regime wants him dead, Mikel wants him alive, and it’s all Kierstaz can do to keep their tracks covered. Desperate to preserve the innocent life she swore to protect and the brother who has always stood by her, Kierstaz must gamble the last thing in the world she owns: her identity. Secrets are a staple of the Orion family, and those Kierstaz keeps are as dangerous as the ones kept from her.

KNIGHTS OF RILCH is the sequel to COLDNESS OF MAREK, and the second book in the SERENGARD Series.

Mood Board for Knights of Rilch

Today on the Knights of Rilch Blog Tour:
The Playlist Reveal on Darci Cole’s Blog
Writing Craft Guest Post on The Great Noveling Adventure
Review at Madwoman with a Writing Box
{ Full Blog Tour Schedule Here}

I know I haven’t ever done one of these, but with the second Serengard novel coming out tomorrow, I’m kind of crazy pumped and excited and it all just turned into a feels binge. Behold, a Knights of Rilch mood board.

Though she be but little, she is fierce. –Shakespeare





Image credits:
 Beebichu at womenfighters.tumblr.com
iloveeddieredmayne.com
le-petit-francais.blogspot.com
mintysushi.tumblr.com
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One Week Until Release! First Chapter Teaser

To celebrate the release of Knights of Rilch next Tuesday, I’m putting up the first chapter a week in advance. (Warning! First chapter contains major spoilers if you have not read Coldness of Marek!) AND, the giveaway for four sets of Serengard Trading Cards ends on release day, so if you haven’t entered yet, check it out!

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Serengard: Book Two
KNIGHTS OF RILCH

Chapter One

TEV DIDN’T RECOGNIZE THE MAN’S face from this distance. He was a Seren, like many who came through the port towns, but he stopped Malcom in the street and said more than a word to him. That made the hair on her arms prickle, and the instant Malcom turned toward her, the pallor of his skin set her on edge. He hadn’t looked like that since the day they left the cliffs.

“He asked me which month I came here, and I couldn’t remember.” Malcom jerked his nose toward the short little man. “I made one up, but…” He shrugged, petrified fright still stamped on his face.

Tev kept her voice calm. “Have you noticed him anywhere before?”

“No. Wait… Where’d he go?”

“I see him.” Tev slipped around the corner of their tiny flat into the market square—if you could call the sorry mess a market. The man led her through a confusing maze of alleys and stacks of barreled fish, his footsteps fast for someone of his stature. As were hers. Even before she reached him, she knew what was wrong by the few glimpses she caught. His hair was cut close to his head. His fingernails were clean. He was not the kind of man who came here in search of refuge, but he was no slave trader either.

That made him a spy. A hunter.

Tev followed him all the way to the docks, into a narrow passageway between buildings, and grabbed his arm. She was stronger than him and tossed him against the wall without difficulty. He pulled a knife, but she already had one against his throat. She took his with a smile that she hoped gave him chills.

Tev tucked his blade inside her waistband. “Who are you working for?”

He didn’t blink. “Aren’t you forgetting to ask my name?”

“I know your type. I know you’re looking for someone. You can look elsewhere.”

One of his eyebrows raised slowly. “No need to get unpleasant. I can’t think what I did to upset you.”

“You were talking to my son. A man such as you might want to ship him off for the army. He’s too young. Keep your petty fingers off.”

“How old is he?” He was skilled, turning the conversation back on her.

Tev tried a different approach. “You know there’s reward money on most of the people in these parts, but you also know most of us are vicious enough to kill you before you collect, so there’s no reason to be this far west unless you’re looking for family. True?”

A slow grin split his features. “I’m not falling into your little traps, lady.”

Tev let the ghost of a smile drift across her own lips. “Your loss, sir.”

She stabbed him quickly, just below the knee. He cried out in surprise and pain and reached down to grasp at it.

“Should have answered me the first time,” she hissed at him through her teeth.

“You’re a cold woman.”

“You’re not the first to tell me that.” Tev smiled and flicked her long, dusty-auburn hair behind her. She slid an arm under his shoulder. “Not to worry. I’ll have you fixed up by evening, in time for the man to get home. He’ll want to talk to you.”

“Who’s the man?”

“He’s the nicer of the two of us. But he can be mean, too, I promise. Don’t make a sound. Smile and nod. I’ll keep this knife close to your gut all the way.”

No one noticed her limping companion. There were a lot of injured in the moor towns. The only sufficient work was in the mountains, cutting granite, laying road in the cuts, or—if you were lucky—hauling out the scrap. When people were too hurt to work anymore, they came to the moors. Tev had avoided them at first because there were ports nearby—too much access to the world—but she’d soon learned inland was far worse. The Drei had gravitated toward the Four Cities of the former kingdom of Serengard, and those left in the foothills were bitter and suspicious, especially of Serens. And while Tev was slim enough to fit in amongst the slender Drei, her brother had the stocky Seren build and hair far too blond.

Here, there were plenty of drifters and criminals. No one asked, no one told, and no one expected justice for any wrongs done.

She dropped the body of the man on the floor of their tiny dwelling. Malcom’s eyes went wide, and she put a finger to her lips. He had seen a lot in his thirteen years, but he hadn’t seen her let blood the way she was trained to. Not up close, anyway.

“The cellar,” she told him.

He swung open the hatch and helped her lower the man down.

“Are you going to kill him?” Malcom asked.

“Shh.” Tev let the light glint off of her blade. The rest of her was hidden in shadow. She knew she didn’t look all that menacing. She had a tiny frame and a face covered in freckles. They kept her looking younger than her thirty-four years. “I’ll probably have to. He refuses to tell me why he’s here, and we can’t take risks.”

“Can’t you at least wait until he gets home?”

“I might.” She didn’t want to ask Mikel. He came home late every few nights, his deep sword scars well-hidden by a mixture of dried sweat and marble dust. He slipped out with Malcom, and they played at weaponry behind bawdy houses full of patrons too drunk to notice. He didn’t sleep. He didn’t even eat that much. But he seemed happy enough. She didn’t like to disturb his calm.

Besides, it wasn’t his job to protect Malcom. It was hers.

“Did you like the feel of that blade in your leg, Seren?” Tev snapped at the man.

He bit his own lip hard enough to make it white. “I don’t care what you do to me, woman. I’m not here for you.”

“You’re here for the boy.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Tell me who wants him?”

“No.”

Tev looked up at Malcom. “Go check the windows.”

It was a good distraction for him. She tore the man’s sleeve, stuffed the fabric in his mouth, and made a long, shallow cut up his arm. He didn’t even scream. Not a good sign.

“Did Otreya send you? Are you here to steal him away for the old man? Or have you a more sinister purpose?”

He just shook his head.

“You probably find it quite convenient that you’re in my cellar. If you know who the boy is, you know who had him last. Is it his guardian you seek?”

The flash of recognition was unmistakable. Yes. He was looking for Mikel. And he knew who she was: Kierstaz Orion, alive and well in the slums of Dreibourge. Dermed. Well, she hadn’t meant to let him live anyway.

Tev removed the fabric, leaned close to his mouth, her blade playing on his throat. “Who sent you?”

He smiled, a hideous smirk, and she felt the ripple of instinct run up her spine. “Princess. He’s going to be so happy that you’re still living. We all thought you long dead.”

She gouged his throat quickly, but it still took him a minute to die—a minute in which Malcom completed his task and came back. He saw her hands, wet with fresh blood, and gulped. She couldn’t blame him. His true mother had protected him from the desperate side of life, and his father had been a horrid bastard whom he needed to be protected from.

“We’ll wait until dark to get rid of him,” Tev told him. She climbed out of the cellar and replaced the trap door. It took a few minutes to wash her arms and change her dress. She rinsed the fine dagger as well. It was long and thin with a hitch on each side of the blade, an inch from the hilt. She would have loved to keep it, but it could be recognized.

Malcom stood by the door when she came out of the washroom. He already wore a slight smile on his face. “We should go to the tavern. Blend in. He likely has companions.”

Goblins, the boy was smart.

“He most certainly has companions. Not to worry,” she told him.

It wasn’t quite dark yet, but they had to move. Tev opened the door slowly and slipped out. She reached for Malcom. He took her hand but shook her free as soon as he was in the street.

He was growing tall. It was getting harder to pretend she was his mother. Thank Allel he hadn’t inherited his father’s solid, square jaw or clear, dark eyes, but he did have nicely shaped hands and a swarthy chin that made him look more man than youth. Striking. Everything about Tev was half-tinted—soft freckles, auburn lashes, sandy skin, and a turned-up nose—the look of a girl who would never grow up. Then again, she didn’t look much like her true brother either.

The tavern was filled to brimming with senseless chatter and the tinkling of unskilled musicians, but Tev liked that. It would be easier to hide, and she wouldn’t have to listen to Malcom talk to his friends tonight. The other boys here liked him, and the girls liked him more. The sight of him flirting was always enough to make her stomach turn over. It was the one thing about him that reminded her of his father—his power over people. The boy should be too young to know how to incite that kind of worship from others.

Tonight she tipped her head and led him to a dark corner of the room. Mikel would know to look for them here when he came home. If he did come home tonight. The chance that he might not made her shiver. They might need to run again. Mikel was tired of running, but she didn’t want to leave him here.

“Tell me if you see anyone,” she told Malcom.

He knew how this went. They’d done it in many a village. He was taller, so he watched. She was stronger, so she fought. The hilt of her mid-sized Desert dagger—one she’d taken from an assassin many years ago—slipped into her fingers. She used to think it meant something to her, but like most things she held onto, it failed her much of the time.

“You are sure he would come here?” Malcom said.

“Shh.” Tev frowned at him. She wasn’t sure. She wasn’t even sure Mikel would come back at all this week. He sometimes stayed in the cuts until his food ran out. She didn’t need him; she only needed to know he was safe, and the cuts were as safe a place as any. She suspected that he only came back for Malcom now anyway.

“There,” Malcom said quietly.

“How many?”

“Three.”

“By the Derm.”

“They followed us?”

“Or they were here all along.”

“Who do you think…”

Tev scowled and led the way to one of the back doors. As soon as they were through it, she whirled against a wall. Malcom did not have to be told to do the same on the opposite side. Her heart thrummed. How long had the hunters been searching? These past three years? Would killing all of them force Otreya to start over at the beginning?

The door burst open, and a couple of drunks staggered through. Malcom jumped, threw himself back. He’d almost tackled one of them. Steady, Mal. Tev glanced intentionally away, into the alley, to remind him to watch his back. Malcom was skilled, but he was green, like a man of the long dead and forgotten Guard who hadn’t been blooded.

Another minute dragged past. Waiting was no good. Tev cocked her head to one side and slunk across the alley into the shadows. Malcom followed, his footsteps quiet on the soft mud of the street. Now she had to decide: go north up to the cape, where the shanties were; go west to the sea; or go east, inland—toward the border, the Four Cities, tyranny, and certain death.

East. The only place they wouldn’t expect Malcom to be.

She didn’t have a chance. Twenty feet ahead of her, dressed in black and clothed in shadow. Not three, but five. She turned, and there were two behind them to block the alley

“Tev,” Malcom rasped.

“I see them.”

But there was someone else—a prisoner they pulled out into the road. Mikel. These men weren’t half as tall as him, yet somehow they had him tied with heavy cord and his face shoved into the dirt.

Tev’s hands filled with a rush of blood and her arms throbbed with the new heat.

“Give us the boy and we free him,” one of the dark figures said.

“Don’t do it, Tev,” Mikel said. His head rolled as if he had been drugged.

By the Treacher. Tev blew air through her teeth. She knew how to get out of this. She’d done it before. But people always got hurt. Best plan was to be the one doing the hurting. “I don’t care about the boy. Take him if you like.”

“He’s nothing to you?”

“He’s just a slave boy, has to fight his own battles, same as anyone else.” She spit in the dirt, not sparing a glance for Malcom. “That all you want from me?”

“Yes, that’s all.”

Good. They didn’t know who she was. Her first kill had been fortunate—that one must have been the leader. She sauntered close enough to take in the height and build of each man in front of her, walked up to Mikel, kicked at the dirt under his nose. “Where’d you find this one? Is he drunk? He’s supposed to come home sober.”

“He—”

Tev used the moment to draw her daggers from inside her waist. If the men closest to her saw her move, they realized her intent a moment too late. She drove a weapon through each of their ribs before they could meet her offensive. Those behind had enough time to ready themselves. Three of them were on her in a moment before she’d drawn her sword. Instead she took a knee and turned about in a circle. Her arms twisted and turned fast enough that they couldn’t follow her movements.

Was Mikel up yet?

She heard another moan and knew Mikel was out of the dirt and taking one of them on. Good because there were the two behind Malcom that she hadn’t looked twice at. A haze formed in her vision and helped her focus as she kept her mind on the end of her sword. It was over in a moment, and she whirled to find Mikel standing in the street next to Malcom.

“Is that all of them?” she asked, her voice low. The block was silent, but it wouldn’t be for long.

Mikel nodded and held an arm out. He staggered slightly, but there were two corpses next to where he’d knelt. Another was in the midst of crumpling. Malcom held out a sword, his own. It dripped with blood, as did hers.

Tev slid her arm under her brother. “Can you walk? What did they use on you?”

“I don’t know. Knocked me out. I didn’t even see them.” He shook her free, rolled his head around on his neck. “I can walk, Tev.”

Malcom stood stock-still. The sword in his hand dangled, and then he dropped it. Mikel caught him in his arms just before Tev got to him and took his face between her palms.

“Mal? Speak to me. Malcom.”

His eyes rolled back in his head. She tore open his shirt as his breath grew shallow.

Excerpt Copyright © 2014 by Rachel O’Laughlin.

Annnnnnd BLOG TOUR!!!

Today begins two weeks of blogging fun in which I spam all of your Facebook and Twitter feeds with links to my latest interviews, guest posts, excerpts and giveaways. Yep, you read that right, there shall be loads of GIVEAWAYS!

First, let me explain the banner above. I was recently interviewed for the first time by Serena Lawless (who is sweet and awesome and just simply amazing) for her Future Shelves feature on her blog, So Lawless. Anyway, when this interview went up on her blog, and I saw this gorgeous, gorgeous banner of hers, it all kind of hit home for me. This publishing thing is real, y’know? And it scared me in a lot of ways, because this is my first time doing EVERYTHING. This is my first blog tour, my first novel, my first release date — and I’m so nervous.

But I’m also excited and grateful. I’m grateful for all the help I’ve received, all the support I’ve been given, all the opportunities that have tossed into my path. I’m grateful for all the lovely people who’ve hosted my cover reveal and blog tour, all the sweet folks who’ve retweeted and congratulated me and pre-ordered my book. AHHH!! I just want to send cyber hugs to all of you, because you’re amazing.

To avoid also spamming your blog feeds, I’m posting this handy list of all my blog tour stops now, and I’ll probably post a list of all the exact posts after the tour is complete. You don’t have to follow along, I’ll still know you’re my friend. <3

ALL THE CYBER HUGS!!!

-Rachel

blogtourbanner2

August 5
Let’s Get Nerdy – Musical Mondays: Coldness of Marek Playlist
Mara Valderran – Excerpt
My Random Muse – Interview

August 6
E.M. Castellan – Interview
Read, Write, Repeat – Release Day Blitz

August 7
A Shortcut to Shrums – Antiheroes: Good Guys With Issues & Giveaway

August 8
Paranormal Book Club – The Gray Mists of Fantasy & Giveaway

August 9
IceyBooks – Interview & Giveaway

August 10
Darci Cole – Review & Giveaway

August 12
Mara Valderran – Guest Post: Writing Many Points of View
YA Guy – Interview & Giveaway

August 13
Literary Escapism – Guest Post: Scary
Reese’s Reviews – Author Interview

August 14
Dyadic Echoes – Serengard: The World and its Quirks & Giveaway
Tall Thoughts From a Short Girl – Interview

August 15
The Bearded Scribe – Interview, Review & Giveaway
Lauren Garafalo – Kiss Me, Kill Me: Review

August 16
So Lawless – Excerpt & Giveaway

It’s cover reveal day, and I’m freaking out with happiness.

Today is the day I get to reveal the cover to COLDNESS OF MAREK all over the internet, with the help of my wonderful Street Team. Are you ready? Are you READY??!! Follow the links…

The first post went live at 9am UK time on the blog of my good friend EM Castellan. There are nine blogs participating in the reveal at different times today, featuring special content and all of their usual goodness, so check them out!

  • Darci Cole, my friend and critique partner. I can’t say enough good things about her, you just have to meet her to know.
  • Serena Lawless, the first writer I followed on Twitter. She’s basically all-out amazing. Also check out her tumblr.
  • There and Draft Again, a fellowship of fantasy writers. They are all awesomesauce and are including an excerpt from COLDNESS OF MAREK.
  • M. Andrew Patterson, fellow fantasy writer who is a super good friend. Also writes young adult and is Mr. Cool on twitter.
  • Lauren Garafalo, who is always running a writing sprint and never ceases to make my day brighter.
  • Joshua David Bell, also known as Young Adult Guy. He blogs seriously good stuff.
  • Mara Valderran, a gal who writes awesome epic fantasy herself (I’ve read her words!) and is totally sweet.
  • K.L. Schwengel, self-published fantasy author. She’s included an excerpt on her blog!

Thanks also to all of my friends who are tweeting and pinning the cover all over social media today, everyone who retweets, repins, shares and likes on Facebook. I love you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The Next Big Thing

I got tagged for this blog hop by Autumn Birt, and then totally spaced on getting my post up on time! Three weeks late… here are my answers for the Next Big Thing Blog Hop interview questions. Check out Autumn’s Blog as well, The Weifarer’s Wanderings, because she is awesome!

Ten  Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
What is the working title of your book?
Knights of Rilch. Not so sure I want to keep the title, especially as it is the prequel to Coldness of Marek… which is a way cooler title, methinks.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
After I finished Coldness of Marek, it was obvious that it needed a sequel. Yet I could not get the backstory out of my head. Decided to write that before the sequel, to fill in a lot of questions readers had, and also to better setup the finale to the series.
What genre does your book fall under?
I believe it falls under New Adult Epic Fantasy. Apparently New Adult is the next big thing… I had no idea!
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a  movie rendition?
Ooooh that’s a tough one. I actually know a girl in real life who could easily be Kierstaz. An actress? Umm… a shorter version of Scarlett Johansson? Or maybe I just love her, so I would cast her for my female protagonist all the time, haha! I think Mikel could possibly be Liam Hemsworth, if he dyed his hair blonde… maybe. Oh wait! Tom Hardy would actually be a pretty good choice. Yep! Hodran would definitely be one of those annoyingly perfect-faced guys, an Armani model or something. Sheezum, I can’t even name someone at the moment, that’s bad.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In the kingdom of Serengard, over-thrown and exhiled ex-monarchy siblings start a fruitless effort to save the last few knights loyal to their family… and find their life expectations change drastically in the midst of the conflict.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an  agency?
Excellent question, and I’m not sure yet. I self-published Coldness of Marek, and it was certainly a learning experience. There were downsides and upsides. It was great to get my work out there and into the hands of readers. However, once I released it as an eBook, I started to have second thoughts about wanting to be involved in the influx of online fiction. True, it’s great that the indie movement is so vibrant, and I am thrilled that there is an outlet for these artists to get their work out there. But I can’t help but realize that a lot of what readers will have to sift through is total crap, and they’ll have to do it staring at a glowing screen. Call me old-fashioned, but I think there is something beautiful about the actual written/printed word, and I think that’s a value we need to hold onto. And the big publishing houses are enforcing that value.
So. That said, I may pursue an agent with this book, revise the first book, pitch the series just to see if there is any interest in the “real” publishing world. I don’t look down on self-publishers (let’s face it, I am one!), but I think authors should do all they can to try to be a part of the old style system. It’s worth keeping.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your  manuscript?
I tried to write the whole thing in the 30 days of November, but I have to admit I went 8 days over. I reached my goal of 70,000 words during NaNoWriMo, which was great, but I had more story to wrap up, bringing it in at 80,000 words in the first draft. I expect that to expand to around 90,000 with polishing and edits.
What other books would you compare this story to within your  genre?
Hard to say. I am not as well read in my genre as I should be! There’s Tolkien and George R. R. Martin and that’s it, right? <winks> I can’t claim to be either of them, so…
I have seen a number of other pitches on the blogosphere that sound similar to my story, all on works in progress. And there is a series out by Sarah J. Maas (“Throne of Glass” and its sequels) that sounds comparable, but I have not yet read them. I need to get on that.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Mostly it was the amazingly positive reaction I got from my first book. Being a short, almost novella-like 54k YA fantasy, I really had no idea what to expect. I was surprised to find a wide age range reading it, liking it, and demanding a sequel. I had so much story already in my head that it was easy to imagine the sequel, but a book that short really needed a prequel as well to fill in the backstory. As I started sketching ideas I realized I had created a complex world with Serengard, and that I was going to LOVE writing this. As soon as I got the first chapter written on November 1st, I was in head over heels.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s  interest?

Oh, I don’t know. The blood? There’s lots of conflict, lots of it emotional, but always encased in action. I don’t care for people sitting around in a room having feelings. I like them to be worked raw and pushed to the edge of their limits, even if that means going outside of realism a little bit. I mean, who doesn’t want to see queens and princes forced to turn into lowly knights and battle mobs of angry citizens and evil usurpers who’ve stolen their lives and their loves? Needless to say, this is basically my own fantasy story… I just hope a few others will enjoy it as well.

Thanks, Autumn, for getting me involved in this blog hop! And I have one person to tag, even though I don’t know if she is actually going to do the blog hop or not… <sheepish grin>
Check out Jami’s blog: Scripts, Music & Smileys

November is coming!

I am so gosh-darned excited for NOVEMBER this year! No, not turkeys and stuffing or the cold nippy air. No, I am speaking of a singular, beautiful, month-long event, after which I will emerge victorious with a bright and crsip manuscript in hand! My stomach is bubbling with excitement, my mouth fairly gurgling and my mind dashing about wildly. I have ideas pouring over and going through pen and into notebook and it takes all the self-control I can muster not to boot up Scrivener and hammer out that first scene to Knights of Rilch

… that bloody and somber and deathly dangerous prequel to the plight of Marek and Trzl. Oh I’ll share as I write and hope to hold the interest of you, my readers. However small your number, know that you are ever dear and beloved by me and, yes, loved by the people of Serengard, though they cannot thank you in person. ;) AND if there are any of you who have never joined in our number, the Viking-obsessed novel writers of November, give it a good perusal and a few moments of intense consideration. Who knows? Perhaps you, too, will write a novel.

Visit: NaNoWriMo.org