BENEATH A WANING MOON now available in audio format

I’ve been chomping at the bit waiting for it to go live, and it’s finally up. BENEATH A WANING MOON in audio format and narrated by her awesomeoness Gabrielle Baker of Gabrielle Voices is now available over at Audible.

If you’re unfamiliar with this title, BENEATH A WANING MOON is collaboration between Elizabeth Hunter and me (our second one) that was released in October 2015 in digital and print format. It contains two novellas, one from Elizabeth’s Elemental Mysteries series called A VERY PROPER MONSTER and a stand-alone by me called GASLIGHT HADES. That story is now actually a gateway story into more books, with the second tentatively titled GASLIGHT VIDUUS.

Anyway, if you like audio books and narrators with buttery voices, then I believe you’ll like listening to BENEATH A WANING MOON.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Beneath-a-Waning-Moon-Audiobook/B01BHB1M48/

 

EIDOLON – delayed

Okay, so when folks first asked me when EIDOLON was coming out, I told them very end of 2015 or very beginning of 2016. Then I got a little more specific and said very end of January 2016.

Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to meet that date (and believe me,much celebrating goes on in this house when I write “End”), it isn’t happening. Here’s why.

-poor planning
-bronchitis
-holidays
-self publishing
-fear
-life

The temptation is to go into details and give a lengthy explanation that expands the above reasons, but I figure you aren’t too interested in all the baggage. I’ll just reiterate what I said in my previous end of year blog post: I don’t want to f*ck this book up, so I’m taking my time (and probably being overly cautious). I figure you’ll forgive me faster for putting out a good book late than putting out a crappy book by a deadline that I self-imposed and honestly guesstimated.

I will tell you that I have a concrete deadline to complete the draft by January 27th. That’s an outside deadline to meet the requirements of another party. However, that still means additional weeks for edits and revisions. While my editors tell me I write clean copy and edits and revisions have been fairly quick in the past, I’m not my editors’ only client, so I’ll need to reschedule time with them to go over my manuscript since I missed the date I was originally planning to turn it in to them.

This is getting too long. So to sum up, I haven’t yet made a complete liar out of myself yet. I originally said very beginning of 2016, and I’m still on target for that, just not January 31st.

My apologies and thanks for your patience.

WHY ALL MY FB POSTS HEAD STRAIGHT TO HELL IN THEIR BASKETS – an end-of-year post

So, the obligatory Year-in-Review post.

Unlike the great end-of-year post Elizabeth Hunter posted on her blog (and if you haven’t read it, you really should), with its insight, information and organized construction, this post will be a meandering mess of things that strike up my brain spark as I write this.

I recently posted on my personal FB page, asking for suggestions on what to write for this kind of post.  Responses were interesting to say the least.  Everything from:

  • Favorite creatures from various cultures
  • Writing sex scenes vs. battle scenes
  • My New Year’s resolutions (shortest article ever consisting of one word – none)
  • Unladen swallow air speed velocity
  • How do I plan out a story arc

to:

  • Ways to combat writer’s block
  • How the romance novel has evolved over the past 100 years
  • Are publishing houses doing away with Urban Fantasy
  • Merkins (let me save you the trouble of Googling this term if you don’t already know it.  A merkin is a pubic wig.  That set off a huge thread of commentary which inspired one of my editors, Evil Editor Mel, to say I should title this post WHY ALL MY FB POSTS HEAD STRAIGHT TO HELL IN THEIR BASKETS.)  Winner, winner, chicken dinner – hence the title of this post.

Believe me when I tell you that the folks who visit my pages and blog and interact with me are a lot more interesting than I am.  :)

Honestly, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m a fairly dull person.  I write books while sitting in an old desk chair with my smelly dog stretched out under my feet.  Unless I have errands to run or am expecting visitors, I tend to write while comfortably dressed in 20+ year-old concert shirts, lavender pajama pants with the fashionable pattern of cartoon cats and fish skeletons on them, and my favorite pair of Vans which have holes in the toes and look like they’ve been gnawed on by a shark.  Glamorous, eh?

Anyway, as this is a Year-End post about 2015, I’ll focus on some of the things for the year and what to expect in 2016.

2015:  What a helluva ride.  I started serializing RADIANCE on my blog in 2014 as a way to drum up some interest in my brand-spanking new website put together by the lovely Ilona Gordon.  RADIANCE was supposed to be a short story of 12k words or less–a straightforward tale of a marriage of convenience between two people of different species with different ideas of what constituted physical beauty.

That remains the core of the tale, but at some point RADIANCE grew beyond the constrictive confines of a short story, hit puberty in novella-length and shot right on past that mark to become a full blown novel.  While I wish I could say I was surprised that happened, I’m not.  When I first told my editors, Lora and Mel, that RADIANCE would be a short story, Mel replied with “Are you suuuuurrre?”  She knows me well.  :)

When the story went live in January 2015, it had some legs on it thanks to the serialization, word of mouth from readers, reviewers and fellow authors (thank you Elizabeth Hunter and Ilona Andrews!), and a support structure from a very small back catalogue of previous works like MASTER OF CROWS and ENTREAT ME.  Thanks to Jill Smith, reviewer at Romantic Times, who reviewed ENTREAT ME in 2014, my name went in front of a wider national audience.

A lot of good stuff had positioned RADIANCE for a healthy start.  But dayum!  That little book shot out of the gate, all thrusters burning, and is still running the track at a healthy speed.  What started as a little tale to show off my new website became the novel-length gateway book to a 6-book series.  Now THAT did surprise me.

My books wouldn’t come together the way they have in their various formats without a ton of support from an awesome team of folks, so shoutouts and hearts to my editors Lora Gasway and Mel Sanders, my artists Louisa Gallie of The Art of Louisa Gallie and Isis de Sousa of Helheimen Designs, my narrator Gabrielle Baker of Gabrielle Voices and future narrator Jay Britton of Voice of Jay Britton, my cover model avatars Nora, Jeffrey and Emma, my personal assistant Kimberly, and my website guru Kathryn of Overmountain Studios.

I’m crossing my fingers that 2016 will be as breathtaking and as fun as 2015 was.  It will be a hell of a workload, with more books planned in the Wraith Kings series, a revamping and expansion of an earlier short story of mine, THE KING OF HEL, which will go into a duology with a story by the fabulous Jeffe Kennedy called CROWN OF THE QUEEN, a story (not yet sure of the length) about the Bonekeeper named Gideon whom you met briefly if you read GASLIGHT HADES, and who knows what else on the roster for 2016.

And while I thought it might never happen, it looks like MASTER OF CROWS will go out in audio format by spring of 2016.  I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am about this project.  Jay Britton of Voice of Jay Britton is spearheading the narration for this book, and what a golden voice he has, perfect for this book.  Other audio stuff:  EIDOLON will be available in 2016 in audio format (not yet sure of the exact date) as will BENEATH A WANING MOON (duology with Elizabeth Hunter). Both are narrated by Gabrielle Baker of Gabrielle Voices.

While I have you here, a quick note about EIDOLON:  I’m working fast and furious on it to meet my self-scheduled January 31st go-live deadline.  However…I’m not giving a guarantee.  This is why I don’t put up pre-orders.  This has been a difficult book to write for various reasons, not the least, the fact it has a high bar to reach.  I never expected RADIANCE to be as popular as it has been or for EIDOLON to be anticipated to the level that it is.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m thrilled.  But I’m also scared shitless I’ll screw up Book 2.  With that being said, I’m taking my time and being careful.  If I feel the story isn’t where it should be by the deadline date, I’m moving it (the beauty of being a self publisher).  I’d rather put out a good story late than a crap story on time.  I owe that to myself, the book and to you, the reader.

So, that’s a wrap.  My sincerest thanks to you all for reading my flights of fancy.  I hope they’ve given you a few hours of entertainment.  Raising a toast to each of you for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016.  Be kind to each other.  Slainte!

Grace Draven – December 31, 2015

EIDOLON book trailer

First off – a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to Isis Sousa of Helheimendesign Vuttudal for creating the illustrations and putting together this book trailer. Had I put it together in Power Point, it would have been excruciatingly simplistic. She went above and beyond and far exceeded my expectations for this trailer, including adding additional music and sound effects that I didn’t even consider. Magic doesn’t just exist in fantasy worlds. It lives among us, residing in people like Isis.

See the link below for the book trailer to EIDOLON. You’ll see on the page the playbox for the video under Author Updates. I hope you like it as much as I do. If so, please let Isis know here in the comments. She busted her ass on this book trailer.

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005E9VYRK

Best regards,

Grace

Check out an awesome new book and get a chance to win a MASTER OF CROWS ornament – giveaway now CLOSED.

ETA (Monday, 12/21/2015) – CONTEST NOW CLOSED

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveway/contest I posted about earlier for a chance to win a MASTER OF CROWS ornament. Mel Sterling randomized the selection via Randomizer.org. The two winners have been notified.

Again, thank you all very much for participating!

———————————————————————————————-

So I’m really jazzed about Mel Stirling’s book TRUEHEART coming out in January (it’s currently available at Amz, B&N & Nook for preorder). I was chatting with her yesterday, and she was all calm and collected about it being out there, and I was the exact opposite—chatty and hyper and jumping up and down. You’d think it was MY book out there.  Anyway, on to the subject at hand.

Here’s a picture of an ornament I had made a couple of years ago with the MASTER OF CROWS artwork by Louisa Gallie on it (I have full unrestricted licensing and authorization from Lou to do this).  The ornament is porcelain or ceramic (I can’t remember which) with a glossy finish and is 2.75″ in diameter. 

MoC ornament

 

Today, I’m giving away two of them—one to a domestic (U.S.) winner and one to an international winner. If you’d like a chance to win the ornament, here’s whatcha gotta do:

Head on over to Mel’s website (points down to link), leave a comment for her (say hi, ask a question about the book, send her congrats for taking the plunge into self publishing, ask her about her neighbor’s alpacas visiting her garage, etc.) and let her know what country you’re hailing from. Mel will randomly pick a winner from the domestic group and one from the international group and let me know who the winner is. I’ll mail out both ornaments then. Contest ends Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. U.S. pacific standard time (PST). You don’t have to pre-order her book to enter, but we’ll be high-fiving and cheering if you do.

Here’s the important part–You must comment on Mel’s site for a chance to win. You’re more than welcome to comment here too, but if you only comment here, you won’t be in the running for the ornament.

http://melsterling.com/?p=239

 

Best,

Grace

 

A cover reveal for a fellow author and an outtake called CROW AWAKENED

Friend, editor, and fellow author Mel Sterling (fondly called Evil Editor Mel by me) has a new book coming out in January 2016. TRUEHEART is a fantasy romance that centers around a couple who challenge the malevolent Unseelie faery court. These aren’t Disney fairies of sparkly wings and magic that can make you fly. This is Faery, red of tooth and claw, complete with a goblin market, kelpies who drown people and eat their livers, redcaps who dye their haberdashery in blood, and the primal Wild Hunt with its powerful deer-headed Huntsman and hounds that are more demon than dog. I loved this tale so much and can’t wait for the book to go live next month. Until then, I’ll leave you with a cover reveal of TRUEHEART. In addition, when my newsletter comes out (hopefully by next week. My hardworking assistant Kimberly is putting it together), I will include the first chapter of TRUEHEART (with Mel’s permission) for you to read. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.

Trueheart-frontdraft81

 

Cover design by Skyla Dawn Cameron of Indigo Chick Designs

Here’s the back-cover copy for the print version (coming spring, 2016).

Loyalty. Desperation. Grief.

Eight months ago a mysterious drug killed Tess Gordon’s brother, and now it’s spreading through her rehab counseling clients. They all claim they’re not addicted, the drug leaves no trace except its drained victims, and the cops aren’t interested. Aching with loss, Tess vows to find the source. What she finds instead is Thomas.

Slavery. Duty. Enchantment.

Thomas, the half-fae guardian of the goblin market, has plenty of problems—and just got another one. Pressed into the service of the Unseelie Queen, all he wants is his freedom. But Tess won’t go away, and the human girl is in way over her head.

One perilous late-autumn night, the fae and human worlds collide. Tess’s and Thomas’s separate tasks are inextricably tangled. Now, a half-fae and a human rehab counselor must walk the knife-edge of obligation, love, death and transformation–with the entire Unseelie Court, including the malevolent Wild Hunt, out for their blood.

Welcome to Portland, After Dark…

http://melsterling.com/?p=229

————-

And now for something I promised in October but couldn’t deliver until now due to being sick and overloaded with real life’s demands on my schedule. I’ll have my awesome webmaster Kathryn put in a separate tab for this later, complete with a nifty faux cover. But for now, here is an outtake from THE BRUSH OF BLACK WINGS. For those who read this novella-length sequel to MASTER OF CROWS, you know that Martise is oddly exhausted at the end of that story, enough so, that Silhara is concerned. CROW AWAKENED is an explanation for that fatigue.

CROW AWAKENED
by Grace Draven
Copyright 2015 by Grace Draven
All rights reserved

———————————

Silhara drew hard on the huqqah’s hose and held in the smoke and the panic until he thought his lungs might burst. His wife was dying; he was sure of it.

He stood at the window and stared at the fledgling orange grove that grew from the ashes of the one destroyed by the god called Corruption. Winter held a firm grip on Neith and all the surrounding plains. The saplings, shrouded in a layer of snow, stood sentinel in regimented lines to the far stone wall that surrounded them. Unlike Silhara, they shivered in the brittle wind that whipped snow flurries into small whirlwinds.

The Master of Crows ignored the cold bite of winter as it swirled into the open window and battled with the meager heat put out by the lit hearth in his study. The wind whispered and teased, keeping time with the burbling dance of water in the huqqah’s water jar each time Silhara drew in smoke from the mouthpiece, shredding his exhalations to ghostly wisps.

For now, he was an exile in his own home, sent off to a chamber far from his bedroom where a beautiful prostitute named Anya tended Martise, and a silent Gurn guarded the door against him. He refused to leave at first, lightning sizzling in threatening arcs across his fingertips when a scowling Anya pointed to the door and ordered him to get out. He’d been a hair’s breath away from turning Gurn’s favorite bed partner into a scorch mark on the floor, stopped only by Martise’s gentler request.

Ashen and hollow-eyed, she huddled in their bed and gave him a wan smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “Please, Silhara,” she said in a soft voice. “Pacing and snarling at everyone isn’t helping. Just give me a few moments alone with Anya. You called her here for a reason. Surely you trust her?”

Silhara had capitulated without further argument. He knelt at their bedside and clasped her hand. Her fingers were icicles in his grip. In the weeks since their return to Neith from a half-life world populated by a demon king and a captive woman, she had faded. It was the most accurate description.

He kissed her cold palm and twitched the blankets more snuggly around her shoulders before standing to glare at Anya who returned the glare with one of her own. “Why did I even summon you?” he snapped.

A delicate black eyebrow arched, and Anya’s challenging expression softened. “Because you trust me. And as you said so yourself in your note, a woman would understand the health of another woman far more than a man ever could. Give me a little time. I’m no healer, and if I can’t determine why she’s sick—though I have my suspicions—I’ll tell you to summon one. Until then, go away. You’re doing neither of us any good hovering over her bed like a storm cloud waiting to burst.”

He’d stomped down the rickety stairs to the first floor and the chilly isolation of his study. Throwing open the window’s shutters and letting in a blast of frigid air had cleared his head a little from the suffocating fear that clogged his thoughts. The arcane knowledge in the books and scrolls scattered about the study offered no succor, and he doubted he could focus long enough to remember whatever they might reveal if he read them. He turned, instead, to the familiar comfort of a slow smoke.

While the scent of matal in his nose blunted the sharp edges of terror, it did nothing to slow his racing thoughts. Whatever sickness was turning Martise into a wraith of a woman, he was powerless to stop it. Spells had no effect, nor did the potions he brewed for her—if she managed to hold them down for more than a second.

Her own Gift, more a curse than a blessing in his opinion, had deserted her. Normally responsive to his coaxing, it had withdrawn deep inside her, an unyielding knot that refused to answer him now.

“What is this foul thing that sickens you?” he muttered amidst an exhalation of gauzy smoke. “Why can I not break its grip on you, love?” He balled one hand into a fist and slammed it against one of the shutters. Wooden slats splintered under the blow and clattered to his feet. He hated this sense of helplessness!

He mentally catalogued the initial signs of its manifestation. Exhaustion first. Not just a bad night’s sleep or a day of yawns but bone-deep torpor, as if some invisible parasite slowly sucked the life out of her. Normally a cheery dawn riser, Martise had staggered out of bed each morning, listless and yawning. Both Silhara and Gurn had caught her asleep on her feet numerous times, asleep as she leaned against the bailey wall with the snow drifting around her and the goat she was milking chewing enthusiastically on her skirt hem, asleep at the table while she waited for Gurn to brew tea or serve supper—it didn’t matter where she was or what she did, if she stopped moving, she slept. She even fell asleep on him during a bout of lovemaking, an event he’d at first found crushingly humiliating.

Sickness followed on the heels of exhaustion. Martise vomited up everything that passed her lips, from buttered bread to warm tea. The sounds of retching grew commonplace, provoked not only by eating food but also smelling it. Pale as milk and growing thinner by the day, the only colors that touched her face were the dark circles under her eyes and the sickly greenish tinge that signaled a frantic scrabble for the bowl Gurn now made sure always remained close by to catch what little she managed to heave up from her shrunken stomach.

Anya didn’t tell him anything he hadn’t already known. She wasn’t a healer, but she possessed something no healer did: his trust. He’d sent her a note, one he hoped she might be able to read despite the frantic scrawl across parchment punctured by a jabbing quill and splattered with ink. She’d arrived so quickly, he suspected she was still reading his message as she hitched the pony to the small cart she owned.

Neith’s quiet, a thing he usually treasured and vigilantly guarded against outsiders, pressed down on him now, a heavy yoke that bowed his shoulders. “You cannot die, Martise,” he growled under his breath. “I forbid it.”

Those gossamer-thin threads of compassion or honor he possessed were strengthened by his soft-spoken, scholarly wife. She made him remember his humanity, seek that better part of himself always vulnerable to the ruthless darkness inherent to his nature. If he lost her…

A hard shudder rattled every bone in his body, and his teeth chattered until he clenched his jaw tight enough to make his ears ache. He wouldn’t lose her. He had vanquished a god and challenged a demon king. He would defeat whatever tried to take Martise from him now.

He spun when the study door creaked open. Gurn’s guarded expression didn’t offer any clue as to what Anya might have discovered. He simply motioned to Silhara and stepped out of the way as the mage bolted through the door toward the stairs.

Anya greeted him at the door with a knowing smirk and kohl-lined eyes filled with laughter. That brought him up short, and he scowled at her, perplexed. “What sickens her?” he said.

Her smirk intensified as she eased passed him toward the threshold. “In a way, you do.” His eyebrows arched, and Anya laughed. “I’ll let her explain. I’ll return soon with tea.” She closed the door behind her, leaving him and Martise alone in the chamber.

His wife offered him a beatific smile with lips leached of all color. Silhara’s heart catapulted into his throat. She looked as ill now as when he left her to Anya’s care. His face must have revealed some of his thoughts, because she scooted across the bed and patted the space next to her in invitation for him to sit. “I’m not dying, Silhara.”

The surety in her voice eased his fear a little and only for a moment. He sat on the bed and stretched across her, bracing an arm on either side of her head. Martise’s lips were parchment-dry against his, and he dampened them with a stroke of his tongue. “Of course you aren’t,” he murmured. “I won’t allow it.”

Her mouth curved into another smile. She pressed a cold hand to his chest, and he straightened away from her. He followed her orders to lift so she could slide the bedcovers down. He protested at first. “What are you doing? Even with the fire going, it’s colder than a crypt in here.”

Martise hushed him and shoved the covers to her knees, revealing the shift she wore. She captured one of his hands and pressed it to her belly, once flat and now concave from lack of nourishment. “I’m pregnant,” she said.

The simple statement, uttered in a matter-of-fact tone might as well been the edict of a god bellowed from a mountain top. Silhara snatched his hand away and leapt to his feet as if Martise had suddenly burst into flame.

She chortled as he stood there gawking at her and then at the spot where his hand had rested. “I told Anya you’d react this way.”

Silhara opened his mouth to reply and closed it again when no words hit his tongue. No thoughts crowded his mind either, only the two words she’d spoken that bounced inside his skull like stones skipped across a lake’s surface. I’m pregnant. He glanced at her belly, then back to her face.

The fear bubbling just under the surface transformed into unmitigated terror, unlike any he had known since his childhood when an executioner wrapped a silk scarf around his neck in a lethal embrace and pulled tight.  “How did this happen?” he asked in a voice hardly above a whisper and forced out between lips pressed so hard against his teeth they tingled.

Her soft laughter died, replaced by shock and uncertainty. “The way such things usually happen,” she said in a voice reminiscent of someone cautiously approaching a wounded animal and hoping to avoid an attack.

All the strength bled out of his legs, and his knees wobbled. He shook his head, his gaze frozen on her slight form supine on the bed. It didn’t seem possible, but she’d grown even paler. Her copper eyes were bright with tears. He’d hurt her, cut her to the bone with his response.

He wanted to apologize, to fall to his knees and beg her forgiveness, but the words were frozen on his tongue. One thought circled endlessly in his mind: this shouldn’t have happened.

The blessing of magic bestowed on the Gifted didn’t come without a price. Most mages, male and female, did not sire or conceive children. The Gift didn’t run in a bloodline, a natural precautionary measure that seemed to insure no one family bred for power and hoarded it to themselves. The Gift was an arbitrary thing, manifesting in generations where no Gifted had ever been born or in generations where several were. Silhara and his maternal uncle possessed it; his mother had not, nor had his Kurman father. Martise was Gifted, but to her knowledge, none of her siblings and neither of her parents had the Gift.

A child born of a Gifted father or mother was unique. One born to parents who were both Gifted was exceedingly rare. Such knowledge made the brewing of potions that killed a man’s seed or closed a woman’s womb to it an unnecessary thing for him and his wife, or so he’d thought. He’d been wrong, horribly, frightfully wrong.

Everything he’d done to protect her from corrupt gods to meddlesome priests and imprisoned demon kings had been for naught. He had become the thing most deadly to her.

He spoke past the invisible scarf tightening around his throat. “Women die in childbirth.” His voice, already a damaged rasp, scraped the words across the space between them. “Often.”

While the tears still shimmered in her eyes, Martise’s forlorn expression cleared. She held out her hand. “Come back to me,” she said. He grasped her fingers and let her pull him down to the bed once more. He dragged the blankets over her body, shielding her from the cold. She laid the back of his hand against her cool cheek. “Silhara, people die from many things. Often. And many more women live through childbirth than die from it. Ours would be a sparsely peopled world were that not so.” She offered him a reassuring smile. “You’ve seen yourself the many large families that abound. Those women bore several children without mishap.”

“You aren’t just some nameless woman. You’re Martise; you’re my wife.” You are the reason I greet the day. He held that last behind his teeth and tried, for her sake, to choke back his fear.

“And I will be the healthy, doting mother of your child.” Her eyes lightened from copper to amber, and she grinned. “I will be happy for both of us until you adjust to the idea and rid yourself of the certainty of my untimely end.”

Silhara scowled. “This isn’t funny, Martise.” He glanced at her midriff, covered by the blankets. Behind her smooth skin and delicate navel lurked not a child created from the passionate devotion between a man and his wife but a threat.

Martise squeezed his hand. “I’m sorry to tease, but I cannot fear what I consider wonderful news.”

She didn’t say it, but Silhara heard the unspoken plea in her voice. Be happy with me. He couldn’t, not yet, not while gripped in the throes of dread over a possible future without her.

The door opened and Anya swanned in, bearing a tray with a teapot and single cup. The scent of mint filled the room. Gurn followed behind her, carrying a bottle of Dragon’s Piss. He hadn’t bothered with the niceties of a goblet.

The houri placed the tray on a nearby table and poured tea into the cup. She passed it to Martise. “This should calm your stomach. As I’m sure Silhara knows, mint is good for belly sickness.” She turned her gaze to Silhara. “Gurn knows you well. He said you’d need something a lot stronger than tea when Martise gave you the news. By the look of you at this moment, he was right.”

Silhara gratefully accepted the bottle Gurn handed to him, uncorked it and took a healthy swig. The drink smoked its way down his throat to settle in his gut in a pool of liquid fire. It did a fine job of clearing his head of the suffocating fear.

“Are you certain she’s with child?”

Anya nodded. “Absolutely. Had you another woman in the house, one who had borne a child herself, you would have known sooner. She bears all the signs of increasing, except for that wasted belly. You can remedy that with bland food she can keep down. And make sure she drinks enough. Tea, water. Always with mint until the sickness fades.”

Part of him understood and was grateful that what plagued Martise plagued all women who quickened. It could have been worse, infinitely so. There were wasting illnesses with no name and no cure. She didn’t suffer one of those at least. He just had to hope and pray (now there was a thought that brought him up short) she would survive childbirth.

A large hand landed on his shoulder and squeezed. Gurn’s blue eyes shone with both sympathy and gladness. He understood Silhara’s concerns but rejoiced with Martise in the news of another addition to their family.

Anya ran an affectionate hand down the servant’s arm. “Come, Gurn. We’ll leave them to it. I suspect your master might need another bottle of Peleta’s Fire before his nerves calm.” She laughed when Silhara glared at her. “Congratulations, Até,” she trilled, using the Kurman word for “papa.”

When they were alone again, Martise captured a lock of Silhara’s hair and twined it through her fingers. “Até. I like that. I would be Amé, yes?”

He nodded. Almost of its own volition, his hand slid across the blankets to rest over her abdomen. Martise stilled, waiting. Her Gift, both volatile and protective, had deserted Martise when the demon king Megiddo abducted her. Or so Silhara thought at the time. But it had never left, never faded, only retreated to guard something weaker and more vulnerable than Martise herself—this new life sheltered inside her.

Despite himself, his curiosity grew. He concentrated, murmuring a spell he hadn’t used before to lure Martise’s Gift into responding to him. It hadn’t done so in previous attempts. Silhara focused, eyes closed, offering up a silent reassurance that he meant no harm, that this being he helped create was part of the woman he valued most and therefore under his protection.

Her Gift, different from his, almost sentient and independent, reached out. He sensed its touch, like a ghostly fingertip that slid across his spirit in a tentative caress. It was different this time, its amber light edged in glowing silver. He saw it in his mind’s eye. Within those colors, a bright spark danced and capered before rushing toward him.

Silhara inhaled sharply, inundated by the sensation of newness, of fragility, of…recognition. The feeling worked like both blade and torch, lancing the boil of his fear and cauterizing the wound left behind. He laughed low in his throat, eyes still closed, lost in the connection between him and this child he had sired on the woman for whom he’d sacrifice all.

“Hello, small crow,” he said softly.

—————————-

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Driveby post – How a book cover comes together

My artist Louisa Gallie has posted an interesting piece on how she pulled together the cover for THE BRUSH OF BLACK WINGS. It’s really cool to see how the artist works behind the scenes, and she’s provided early mockup sketches as we hammered out details together.

http://www.louisagallie.com/blog/2015/11/19/brush-of-black-wings-cover-art-process