The First Suitor (Clandestina)

When doctors and healers began to converge in the realm of Clandestina, learning of its natural healing magic, its blancræft, the daimons of violent illness and death were forced out. The fée, who respected violence and death as they were volatile in their own way, returned to their plane of Faery. Everything that bound and tames the spirits of death was suddenly gone.

The magic of a realm was innate. While other realms survived without these chains, Clandestina began to crumble.

Plagues descended upon realm. They infected man, beast, and vegetation, bringing famine along with it. Wars sprung up as people tried to hoard the few resources that were left. In trying to keep sickness at bay Death began to thrive.

One last daimon remained, a ker by the name of Mora. As much as she delighted in this, she knew that if it was left unchecked then everything would die, and there would be nothing left. She was the last Keeper of Death, and thus it made her a Protector of Life as well.

A kingdom had formed during this time of war, the four main factions finally brought together under one ruler. This new king, who took the title of Roi, promised to bind together all of the people of Clandestina– the humans, the fée, and even the keres.

He was without a wife. Mora showed herself to him, told him the secrets of the realm, that it not only held magic of healing, but also of violence, and death. She showed him noircræft as well as blancræft, and even nekrocræft, weaving the three together so he could do anything from heal minor injuries to return the dead to life.

The realm began to heal. A second guardian kept much at bay, but when Mora wished to show her magic to more people, to begin to fix more, the roi became possessive.

“You are mine,” he said. “You chose me, out of all men. You will not show anything to anyone else. Make me yours and we will rule together.”

She complied. She continued to teach him until there was only one last test. As she was a Lady of Death, after this, he would be a Lord.

“Take your own life,” she told him. “Kill yourself, come, enter my plane and learn what it truly means to be a ker.”

That night they went to bed together. He ingested poison chosen by her own hand and taken with his own, and as they made love he experienced both little and true death.

Mists surrounded him. He was in Akhlys, the place of judgement before ones afterlife. Before him was a throne of limbs and bone, vines growing from the flesh and binding the seat together. Mora sat on the throne in her true form– great black wings like a bat unfurled behind her, her robes stained a many colors of red, her eyes the same crimson.

“And here are you mine,” she said. “Kneel, accept me as your queen, and you too will gain all of my powers.”

And here the roi shook his head, stepping back from her. “No. I am your king. I will not kneel before you.”

Before she could protest, say anything else, he used the cræft she had taught him to return his own soul to his body and left her.

He was alone in bed that morning. Quickly he took from his drawer a small knife and cut into a finger– his blood ran black, like it had ever since he began to learn magic from Mora. So he could still perform the deeds that made him great.

Time passed. Mora did not return to him, but as he had completed her last test, it did not matter. He was a lord of death, capable of even returning himself to life after death! He continued to rule. He finally married. He could not seem to impregnate his wife, but it did not matter as he continued to live on. He aged, true, but far slower than most men, bringing rumors that he had fée blood in him.

Then rumors began to circulate that there were men and women who were beginning to cure ills that should not be curable even with blancræft. A few more even said they could return the dead to life. The roi, now older than any other living being, found himself furious that Mora had betrayed him. He called this ‘necrocræft’ vile, and unnatural, and anyone learning or practicing such magic would be put to death.

They were killed. They had not passed her last test and remained dead.

Plagues sprung up again. Illness took root.

Mora still did not return to him.

It did not take long for the roi to be overthrown, by his own great-great-grandnephew at that. He was accused of practicing the same magic he outlawed, and when his blood ran black it was confirmed. He was sentenced to death.

The day of the hanging he felt his neck snap, but he then hung there, eyes wide, unable to feel or move or breath, yet undying.

He was buried amid silent internal cries that he had not died! He was still alive! But after they shut his eyes by force he could not even open them again.

Mora finally came to him. She appeared in his coffin, pressed up against him, wrapping her arms around him. He felt her breathing, felt her skin moving against his. She stroked his cheek and for the first time in days he could intake some breath. It was ecstasy. His flexed his fingers and slowly moved his arms so that he could hold her in return.

“Please.”

“You are not mine,” she replied into his ear. “And so you shall never enter my plane, never again see my throne, or have your life judged. You chose to return to this and so you may keep it.”

He was alone again. His breath was stuck in his throat, his arms no longer feeling. His eyes were half-open, staring into darkness. He lived. He could not die.

Mora never gave her heart in the same way. She continued to teach in secret, both men and women, her cræft. If rumors amid the people gave false information she let it be. And when her last test came she continued to offer her magic at a price. She hurt when they returned their own lives, but allowed it, still being with them and letting them help her. One day one would take up her offer, but it was not to be for a very long time.

New blurbs!

I am beginning to embrace the fact that I write romance. I’m getting an author logo made and decided that my tagline was going to be ‘Macabre Fantasy Romance’ or (when I’m being haughty) Macabre Fantaisie Romantique, as is now in the header 😉

I tended to shy away from this before, insisting it was fantasy *with* romance, and I still think so– but many of my readers go into it and then find there’s more romance than they were prepared for. A lot of reviews mention that this kind of book is not their thing. I was marketing to the usual fantasy peeps, not thinking to aim for the ‘romance’ specific group.

That said, I’m honestly not sure how to feel about this yet. ‘Romance’ seems like such a, well, women’s exclusive genre. I want my stories to be enjoyed by all. I think there’s enough adventure in it to be interesting to guys (I was quite the tomboy growing up and some of that has never left), and Pierre is the main character. His story is his love with Lizzy, but also his cræft and his being the duc. There’s more than just getting those two together.

I can’t deny that I love a romance, though. I love couples. I love couples who are awesome together and not just take the whole damn book to get together. Worse, if there are sequels, need to have stupid issues because of drama. But that’s a rant for another time…

Larkspur was probably too short to really expand on the adventure (even if I managed to get in two murders). Delphinium is much longer (still keeps getting bigger!), and there is a lot more going on. New characters, subplots, more magic…

So I have gone ahead and changed up the blurbs for Larkspur and Delphinium as well to emphases that there is a romance, but also hints to more going on.

Larkspur:

Pierre Salvador is a surgeon and the heir to a duchy, returning to court after years away at University. Now the childhood friend he left behind has grown-up–and is still not wed. But she does not know of his dealings with Mora, the Lady of Death, or what the jealous goddess wants him to do in return for her dark magic.

Note: This series began as a serial, so this book is quite short and does end abruptly with a cliffhanger. The second book grew and before I knew it became a whole novel. This series is therefor no longer a serial, but the first story remains as is.

I also added in the note that Larkspur is short and ends fast. I hope that will at least warn people and cut down on the reviews that take a star or two off for it :/

Delphinium:

Lady Elizabeth Anne does not know about the dark magic her beloved practices, and he has no intent to tell her. As they travel to his childhood home for the summer, Pierre Salvador attempts to balance his newfound love with his murderous cræft.

After they arrive the future Duc de Piques finds there is much to be done, and duties cannot be put off any longer. A fatal illness is spreading throughout his land, he is being claimed by those of Faery, and someone has already tried to take his life.

But it will take much more to kill a lord of death.

So yes, that assassination attempt in Larkspur will be looked into.

And as I mentioned before, I am still writing the second part of Delphinium. My betas have looked over the first part, mostly I’m just total shite at commas, but a few things may need to be tweaked or moved. The second part still keeps getting longer- I’m splitting chapters, then combining them, and running into new sub-plots.

The first ‘half’ was 46.6K  and the second ‘half’ is going to clock in at around 80K or so. Delphinium will therefore be about 126K! (To put this in perspective, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is 107K).

Larkspur was only 15K. So the second book will be about eight and a half times as long as the first one ❤

The Delphinium Pre-order is up! (Again!)

I am slightly behind schedule for Delphinium. But only slightly! I’ve had one Beta finish up Part 1, and another is almost finished. I’m working on Part 2, which is now 25 chapters long, but everything is settled and in the right place. A few chapters have been split up, a few moved over to Book 3, other chapters combined… but it all feels right and in sync now.

So I went ahead and set up the pre-order. Again.

I gave myself a bit of extra time, and factored in how long it’s taking my betas, and chose the release for December 1st. It gives me a month and a half to finish, a month for my betas, and then a few weeks to sew it all together. If I somehow finish early I can always move it up anyway.

I know I did this last year and things fell apart, but I am in a much better space both mentally, with my day-job, and with how I feel as a writer. And I needed a solid date because it wouldn’t put my ass in gear otherwise.

And so without further ado!:

Delphinium, or A Necromancer’s Home is now up to pre-order for the special price of 99¢! It goes up to $2.99 at release, so grab it while you can.

Personal goal: 102 pre-orders to match with Larkspur’s 102 reviews on Amazon.com. If the reviews go up, I’d hope the pre-orders do as well.


~Victoria

By any other name

Usually I dislike how short Larkspur is. It is the main issue most have with the story if you look at the reviews. Today, though I’m quite glad because the more I work on Delphinium, the more history and information there is to deal with. And I cannot stand needing to rewrite and tweak so that everything fits continuity. This way  I am mostly allowed to insert all of this information into the second book and have it make more sense (I think all of my Scenes from Clandestina can stay as they are, but I’ll look into those right after I post this).

Now let me try and explain why I am now dealing with all of this extra stuff:
I named Félicien’s parents. Not his adoptive parents, who raise him after he is in Faery (they already have names), but his birth-parents. I had written a Scene a few days ago (it didn’t turn out very well so it isn’t up) but I only mentioned ‘The Duchesse’ because Félicien’s mother did not have a name. Without a name she was a figment, a reference, something to mention but not expand upon.

The moment I name a character they become infinitely more important and real. They gain an appearance and a temperament and a history–all from a name. And changing the name can change appearance and temperament and history, so sometimes I go through several names and iterations before everything clicks into place (I had that happen a few weeks ago actually).

The Duchesse could just be an old woman who lost her son, who stepped aside from governing and let the steward run things because of her grief. Duchesse Cunégonde of Piques, though, forced the fée Margrave to return to Faery and demanded her son’s return, and banished him when that did not happen. She stepped aside from governing out of grief yet did not shut herself away, but planned revenge. She is the reason the fée are no longer trusted or liked in Piques, the reason for the fine cutlery being cold iron, the reason that ironically her own son and then grandson have problems when they return to Piques and are seen as fay.

Now to find out how Félicien’s father acted…

(For a story where the fairies were supposed to be a minor reference they have almost overtaken the necromancy in which fantastical aspect is the most prominent in the realm).

So, overall, I am happy Larkspur is short and sweet and dark. It lets me work on Delphinium and make plans for a whole new set of books. I do believe Félicien’s life will eventually be chronicled as well, and feature both sets of his parents.

Delphinium beta

I’m almost finished with Part 1 of Delphinium’s Beta Copy! I’ll need to stay up tonight to get it all like I want it, but I’ll be sending it to my betas before I go to sleep. I’ll finish Part 2 in the upcoming two or three weeks and then edit part 1 again as they look over part 2. Finally I’ll wrap that up and put it all together as the final manuscript on Amazon
 
It’s going to end up being around 100,000 words in length (Larkspur is only about 15,000 words. For another comparison it’ll be about the length of Prisoner of Azkaban). I was hoping for a bit more, but scenes got cut or rearranged, and I’m sure more of that will happen with even more editing. But I think it’s going to end up as a great sequel. We’re at 38 pre-orders and think that that we still have time to hit 50.
After release I’ll return to posting here more often, Scenes and worldbuilding stuff included. I’ll also start working on Book 3 and the first book in another series.

Working on Delphinium

We’re up to 19 pre-orders on Delphinium, yay!

And I am working on it every spare moment I can get (and given that I have two other jobs, that can be quite random). Putting it up for pre-order was a great way to get my ass in gear (I think I’ll be doing it with future books from now on), even though a good half of me is still terrified about the release. But I have myself on a tight schedule, with plenty of days set aside for editing and polishing.

So far it’s been fun and good to be writing under this deadline. Delphinium keeps expanding- getting new characters even this late in the game, new points-of-view, more backstory. This is not how Delphinium would have been written even several months ago, much less two-and-a-half years ago when I first wanted to finish it asap after Larkspur. I know it sucks waiting for books, sequels especially, but I truly think this is worth it.

In similar news- I put Larkspur and Delphinium in new categories on Amazon! It seems to be a new category on the site in general, but Gaslamp Fantasy is now something you can find both books in. That’s the 19th century-ish ‘ghosts and spirits’ version of steampunk where it’s more about the supernatural than the tech. It fits perfectly (and is what I tried to evoke when I use the term ‘gothic’ for it).

They also have their own series page now too:

 

You’ll notice the series is “Stories of Clandestina” and not “Larkspur” (it was actually Larkspur for a little bit until I contacted Amazon). I did this on purpose since after ‘The Larkspur Series” there are more books that will be coming out about this realm and really they will all be connected. There are stand-alones set in the past and then future series that move forward. I have two ‘past’ novellas in mind, and two more series set in the future- making it 14 books total.

But right now I’m furiously working on book 2 and we’ll work on books 3-14 after.

 

So much politics, so little time

I’m working on the structure of Triumphe’s political system (what did you think I meant real life politics?). There is a lot  going on in Delphinium, and a lot more planned for the future, so I want to have things set up in a way that makes sense.

So far I have the one kingdom, Triumphe, that does not cover the entire realm of Clandestina, but a good 3/4ths of it. The remaining unclaimed land is just that- unclaimed, with far more fée influence and magic than the mostly human kingdom. Said kingdom has 4 duchies, named after the French card suits (Piques, Trèfles, Carreaux, Cœurs). Each of those duchies has several of their own counties, from two to four. There’s also the Margrave’s territory, which is less a piece of land and more the border between their plane and Faery.

I have a great new mapping software that is helping me figure it all out (Other World Mapper). Once I get it all done I’ll show it off, here and on the wiki (which I am still working on).