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Dindi is kidnapped to be the bride of a shark... To escape she must untangle a terrible curse caused by a love and magic gone wrong.
This stand-alone novella is set in Faearth, the world of The Unfinished Song. Available here ONLY.
The Unfinished Song - This Young Adult Epic Fantasy series has sold over 70,000 copies and has 1,072 Five Star Ratings on Goodreads.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but my favorite fantasy creatures throughout my life are—without question—dragons! I know I’m supposed to like mermaids or unicorns more, and I do like them (I certainly love unicorns as much as it is humanly possible to love anything you’ve never really met) but they cannot compare to dragons. How can they? Dragons can be large or small, they can fly or swim, they can breathe fire or ice, they come in every imaginable color. They can be soft and silky, or sharp and iron-hard. Dragons can be made of rock, or steel, or clouds, or grass. They can live anywhere and eat almost everything, from sheep to diamonds. It all depends on what type of dragon you want, and it will be.
So, to share my love of dragons, I’m going to list my top five favorite dragon books—and the amazing dragons in them!Continue reading
This week I’ve been working on Mirror, Book 8 in The Unfinished Song, and also on a section of Sworn, Book 10. (There’s a reason; technically the events of the storyline from Sworn antedate the events in Mirror. That’s one of the odd things that happens when the Story Order of events differs from the Chronological Order of events.)
Meanwhile, relevant to this month’s theme about Fantasy Romance, check out this fun interview on fantasy in romance, romance in fantasy, blending genres, Beta heroes, pricing of ebooks and much more!
Here’s a snippet where Rachel discusses her appearance on a panel at the Romantic Times convention:
Rachel: Exactly, and, and it’s so funny, ‘cause, like, I was sitting, I’d be sitting on a panel, and it’d be, like, you know, really badass-looking chick in tight leather and, like, a dude with abs, and, like, a clinch cover, and then there’s me with powered armor. You know, I, I was, it was very kind of a strange situation, but I really, really loved it, because romance readers are, are some of my favorite readers, because the romance community is so welcoming of other genres, and, like, ‘cause I, when I put kissing in my military sci-fi, I got a lot of are you sure you want to do this?
Sarah: Oh, no, kissing cooties, man!
Rachel: ‘Cause there’s going to be cooties in your powered armor.
Sarah: You cannot have kissing cooties.
Rachel: And, and, but you know what, ‘cause my readership is about 50/50 male/female, and I had very few complaints about the actual romance. I had a couple of complaints from people who either didn’t think it went far enough or thought there was too much, so it was like the amount of romance was in question, but the fact that there was a legitimate romance was just kind of accepted. Like, I didn’t, I didn’t get nearly – ‘cause I was, I was girding my loins for, like, the true science fiction author brigade, but no, everyone, everyone was real happy with it.
Sarah: No, it’s, it’s a total, it’s a tonal difference, I think, between science fiction and fantasy communities –
Sarah: – and the romance community, especially at RT. I remember when John Scalzi was a guest because he was receiving an award, he came to RT – I want to say it was Kansas City, two years ago – and wrote a post on his blog about how he realized at some strange moment that he was the only dude in, like, a room of several thousand women. No one asked him for his credentials, no one wanted to quiz him on how much he knew about something. It was like, you’re here, there’s a bar, let’s hang. It’s a completely different kind of interaction from what I know of the two different communities.
Rachel: That, that is absolutely true, and, like, ‘cause I’ve done a lot of sci-fi and fantasy cons, and they are lovely, don’t get me wrong. They’re really fun, they’re really nerdy, and it’s very exciting, ‘cause I’m also a big sci-fi/fantasy fan and reader so, again, as a fan, it was very exciting, but there is definitely sort of a geekier-than-thou thing going on, where you’ve got to constantly kind of one-up your geek cred –
Rachel: – whereas at RT it was like, oh, my God, you’re a writer? I’m a writer! What do you write? That’s amazing! Oh, you read romance? I love Regencies! Let’s talk about our favorite Regencies! It was just this really, really warm, welcoming atmosphere, and every, and every interaction I’ve had with the romance community has been like that.
Rachel: It’s, it’s just been fantastic, and I, I hang out on romance blogs just ‘cause they’re freaking fun places to be. I, that’s how I found you! I was a giant reader of Smart Bitches. Back when I had my day job, y’all were, like, my favorite thing to read at work –
Rachel: – and, and I got a bunch of book recommendations from you when I was first getting into romance, ‘cause I didn’t even read romance until I was out of college. I’d never even –
Sarah: Oh, no kidding!
Rachel: Yeah, well, I’d never, I’d – my parents were big sci-fi/fantasy nerds, and they didn’t read a lot of romance, and I’d read, like, some Anne McCaffrey, which kind of blurs the line, ‘cause she’s got a lot of romance in her sci-fi, but I’d never read, like, a Regency, and then one day, I’m like, that sounds really cool, and I picked up, I can’t even remember what the first one was now, but it was, like, a free book, and I just kind of picked it up, and oh, that was the rabbit hole –
Rachel: – let me tell you. Like, couple hundred books later, and, and I love it. I do.
Sarah: Cool! So you mentioned earlier that you were working on dragons –
Sarah: – which of course is the thing that I like most.
Sarah: What are, what are you working on, book two?
Rachel: I’m working on, I just, I finished the, the second book about a month ago, which is called One Good Dragon Deserves Another, and – ‘cause we got a theme here –
Rachel: Nice Dragons Finish Last, One Good Dragon Deserves Another –
Sarah: Of course.
Rachel: Dragon theme, and this book is really fun. It was kind of a bear for me to write because I, I would just, I just had a, I just had a wrong-headed idea about the series and I kept trying to make it work, and it didn’t work, and I can be very stubborn. I kept trying to make it work, and eventually I just had to say, okay, this plot is clearly not working. Let’s back it up and try something totally different –
Rachel: – and that’s when I fixed it, but it took me a lot longer than it should have because of that. But we’re on, we’re on track now, and I’m very excited about the book. It’s all about sort of – you know, in the first book, it was all about Julius gets kicked out – Julius is my nice dragon – gets kicked out in the middle of Detroit, in the DFZ, which is the Detroit Free Zone, which is ruled by a, by a spirit who has ordered all dragons kill on sight, and his dragon form has been sealed, so he’s stuck as a human without all his powers, and he’s really just –he spends the whole book just desperately trying to survive and keep his head above water –
Rachel: – and in the second book, he’s really got his feet under him more, and you really start seeing him kind of come into his own, and it’s, the books are, you know, Julius is twenty-four, so he’s, he’s definitely an adult in these books, but they’re really almost a coming-of-age story, ‘cause Julius was this big slacker. He was, you know, he lived in his, he lived in his mom’s basement of her mountain, basically, and hiding from all of his more powerful siblings, and it’s the story of how this dragon whose motto used to be keep your head down, don’t draw attention, shut up, and hope they go away, started, becomes, starts really coming into his own and standing up for what he believes in, and he is a very nice, nice dragon. He’s a very good person in a world where niceness and goodness are seen as unforgivable weaknesses to be exploited, and so he has to kind of be almost, almost aggressively nice, if that makes sense, and I have a lot of fun with that, ‘cause I really love, I really love the idea of compassion as a, compassion as a strength, because it gets shown as a weakness so much.
Rachel: And so I loved, I love working with that. And also in this book, the secondary character, Marci, who’s the love interest, ‘cause there’s a little romance between Julius and Marci, and she’s a mage, she really comes into her own in this book. Marci is just amazing, and she is so too short for this ride, but makes it work. Oh, it was so fun. Her stuff is so fun to write, but this, I mean, it just goes crazy, and, yeah. I don’t believe in, like, small stories. All my stories always get enormous, and, like, not in terms of word count, but in, just in terms of the scale and the scope. I like to go big or go home, and that definitely happened in this novel, Sarah. It’s going to be really fun.
Chained to a rock and tossed off a cliff by her boyfriend, Aranya is executed for high treason against the Sylakian Empire. Falling a league into the deadly Cloudlands is not a fate she ever envisaged. But what if she did not die? What if she could spread her wings and fly?
Long ago, Dragons ruled the Island-World above the Cloudlands. But their Human slaves cast off the chains of Dragonish tyranny. Humans spread across the Islands in their flying Dragonships, colonising, building and warring. Now, the all-conquering Sylakians have defeated the last bastion of freedom–the Island-Kingdom of Immadia.
Evil has a new enemy. Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Dragon Shapeshifter.
When Aranya’s eyes cracked open, it was to light upon the stars nestled between Jade’s crescent arms. A night bird flew by overhead. She saw that she wore the remains of her dress, and a mountain of chains.
For the first time in her life, she felt cold.
Torchlight flickered nearby. Drawn by the light, she turned her head on the cold stone. A grim throng rolled into view. Mostly Sylakians, they wore heavy red robes against the pre-dawn cold. She realised where she lay.
The Last Walk.
“We await the hour of judgement.”
Her eyes flicked to Yolathion. He stood ramrod-straight nearby; it was he who had spoken, but his voice had never sounded so devoid of life, Aranya thought. She could not speak. Her mouth was stuffed full of cloth. A rope tied it in place, pulling her lips back cruelly. They would not care for the comfort of a proven enchantress.
All she could do was watch and wait.
She would fly.
Now there was an irony.
Slowly, a perversely exquisite dawn fired the eastern sky. The stars became indistinct. The crowd stirred slightly to allow Beri, Zuziana and Nelthion through to the front. Aranya could not bear what she saw in their faces. She closed her eyes.
Her thoughts were choked with regrets. The dawn, her last dawn, had never seemed so evocative. She feared to watch it.
But when boots tapped the flagstones, approaching her, Aranya opened her eyes. From a distance of twenty feet or more, the Supreme Commander glared at her. It was a cold comfort that he kept such a distance for his safety. Aranya could not have summoned so much as a puff of smoke. Her inner fires were mute.
“My son lives,” he announced.
The crowd murmured. Aranya let out a breath she had not known she was holding.
The Sylakian spat, “But you burned him, Immadian enchantress. You cast the fires of your magic into his face and burned his sight from him. You killed four Sylakian Hammers.” The Supreme Commander addressed the crowd. “The penalty for an enchantress is death. The penalty for burning my son is death. Accordingly, I sentence you, Aranya, Princess of Immadia, to walk the Last Walk until your body is seen to fall into the Cloudlands. May there be nothing left for the vultures to pick over.”
Silently, Yolathion limped to her side. Aranya wondered how badly he was hurt. She had tried to protect him; trying to direct the fire outward while shielding him with her own person. Yolathion untied the rope and pulled the wadding of cloth out of her mouth. He helped her stand up. But he immediately put his dagger to her throat.
Yolathion proclaimed, “Let the last words of the condemned be heard.”
What could she say?
Aranya’s mouth was terribly dry. She rasped, “I regret not killing the Butcher of Jeradia as he so richly deserves.” Well, that certainly captured their attention. “Beri, you were a mother to me when I had none. Zip, a beautiful friend, when I had none. Take care of each other. Please tell my family–” she choked up. What could she tell them? “Tell them how much I love them, and how much I wished I could fly.”
She turned to face the Last Walk.
Yolathion put his hand on her shoulder. At the end of the walkway, Aranya saw a block of stone with a chain attached to it. They really wanted to be sure she’d drop straight into the Cloudlands, she thought. The old stories still held weight. No graceful dive off the edge for her. No enchantress transforming herself into a bird and flying away.
It should have been called the longest walk.
Ten Crimson Hammers processed with her and Yolathion. Perhaps they thought she’d make a break for the rajal pit. Her feet brought her alongside the block of stone. Her body and her mind seemed to belong on different Islands.
Yolathion knelt, clearly in some discomfort, to fit the manacle depending from the stone about her ankles, locking them together. “I’m sorry, Aranya,” he said, unexpectedly.
“Me too. I think I could have loved you, Yolathion. But your loyalty and your heart lie with Sylakia. I could never love that.”
Her words hurt him; she read it in his eyes. Just another regret she would shortly leave behind.
Yolathion lifted her in his arms. Two of his fellows hefted the block.
“On the count of three,” he said. “One … two … three.”
He tossed Aranya over the edge.
Bronwyn and Blayke are two strangers being drawn into the same war. Their world is facing invasion from the Third Realm. While they move unknowingly toward each other, they are watched, hunted, and sabotaged. When the Dragon God interferes, it seems their world, Talia, will succumb to the threat. Can they learn enough of the tricks of the Realms before it’s too late, or will everything they love be destroyed?
The young Realmists’ journey pushes them away from all they’ve known, to walk in the shadows toward Vellonia, city of the dragons, where an even darker shadow awaits.
In a lonely brick farmhouse a child named Blayke slept under cosy blankets. He dreamt of splashing in warm summer puddles. His nostrils filled with the scents of grass and earth.
He reached dirty fingers into a puddle at his feet and tried to grab a slimy frog. The touch of his fingers on the water sent the frog dashing away, chased by the black clouds racing across the surface of the water, mirroring the sky.
Thunder boomed again and again. Thick clouds marched to its beat, effortlessly smothering the sun. Blayke’s fingers sank further into the darkening puddle until his fingers touched something rough and icy — too large to close his hand around. Blayke tried to let go of the object but his hand was stuck. Adrenalin flooded his body. He tried to shake the object loose, but to no avail.
Fat pellets of water erupted from the sky, soaking him in seconds. He looked up, squinting his eyes against the pouring rain. He bit his lip against the urge to cry. Every instinct told him to run. Thunder closed around him; lightning struck meters from the quickly expanding puddle. Blayke leaned back, twisting his whole body in a vain attempt to break free. Sweat from his exertion mixed with the rain on his face.
His palm peeled away from its anchor, leaving layers of skin behind. Blayke fell back, landing with a splash on the sodden earth. He stared at his bleeding hand, what had happened?
The ground vibrated beneath him, the tremors matching the slow and powerful rhythm of the thunder. The puddle boiled, bubbles of mud bursting to the surface, contaminating the balmy air with stagnant wafts. Blayke scurried away from the deepening water on hands and knees. He scrambled to rise but the jerking earth toppled him.
He was now at the edge of the seething pool. He watched the water drain away into the ever-growing cracks forming around its edges – the unseen depths hungrily sucked the liquid, draining it as quickly as the sky could dump it there.
The earth gave a final, violent tremor. An ebony creature surged forth amid the cacophony of trembling earth and breaking sky. It towered menacingly over small boy and tall trees alike.
The giant creature’s bellowing screams assaulted Blayke. He huddled on the ground, gasping for breath. His bleeding hand throbbed, and the beating rain stung the back of his neck. Blayke scrunched his eyes tight, and prayed to every god he had ever heard of to make everything disappear; the rain, the thunder, and the monster. Fear of impending death made him cry.
Rain battered him, but the earth ceased shaking. The creature’s commanding voice replaced the primal screams that made the downpour seem a whisper. “I have come to take you. Look at me and behold your destiny.”
Blayke lifted his head against all will and instinct, compelled by immense power within the voice. A colossal black dragon stood close, too close, dwarfing the small human as an ancient oak does an ant. The creature stared at Blayke with penetrating silver orbs.
The boy’s eyes, once fixed on the nightmare, could not move. So this was it, his death was here, so soon. How could that be? Tears flowed again as he realized his short life had existed just to fill the belly of this dragon, a special dragon no doubt, but still a dragon. Blayke took comfort in the warmth of tears that mixed with the rain on his face, as the giant creature reached toward him with massive claws.
It snatched Blayke, with one swift and powerful gesture, and thrust him into a mouth full of sword-sharp teeth.
Blayke woke screaming, feeling as if he were choking on his own blood. Arcon ran to Blayke’s room, arms raised, ready to fell any intruder who would dare harm his boy. Relief at the absence of an attacker was short-lived as he tried to sooth his terrified nephew. Blayke sobbed in his arms as he described the nightmare in vivid detail. Arcon knew this was a prophetic dream, marked by the Dragon God no less.
The dangerous and terrifying times foretold by the First Circle were nearing, and his nephew’s nightmare confirmed the worst. Arcon, one of the most powerful Realmists ever to have lived, and member of The Circle, prayed they would be given more time to prepare; their lives, and all life on Talia, depended on it.
Blayke eventually fell asleep and his uncle retired quietly to his study, where a hot cup of tea and mesmerizing flames in the hearth could not dilute his fears — the evil they had banished over a thousand years ago would return; it was already on its way.