The price of revenge may be her sanity…and the lives of those she loves.
No longer haunted by memories of her life—and death—as the Meer of Rhyman, Ra looks forward to a quiet existence with her lover Jak in the Haethfalt highlands. Having made peace with Ahr, her consort from her former life, Ra can finally explore her new relationship, free of the ghosts of the past—until she unwittingly unearths Jak’s own.
Out of instinct, she uses her Meeric power to heal the pain of Jak’s childhood trauma. But all magic has a price, and Ra’s bill has come due.
Succumbing to the affliction inherent in her race, Ra flees to the mountain ruins where her mother’s temple once stood. As the madness takes hold, she resurrects the ancient city of AhlZel in a tremendous act of magic that seals her fate—and threatens to destroy those who would give up everything to save her from herself.
Warning: Contains dark themes, violence, gender-bending sex, and recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse.
~ Bewitching BT
Guest Post: Taking the Long Way There
by Jane Kindred
Most authors are painfully aware of how difficult it is to get published. It’s a bit easier now than it used to be, but much harder to get your book noticed.
When I began writing the epic fantasy novel that would become the Looking Glass Gods series, there was no Twitter, and no Facebook pages, blogs, or agents online offering helpful information about what they liked and disliked. (Yep, I’m from the Dark Ages.)
Ebooks actually did exist, but no one was taking them seriously yet. Self-publishing meant paying some unscrupulous company a large sum of money for the privilege of having your book printed on demand. And finding a critique group—particularly for romantic epic fantasy? Forget about it. So I wrote what was then titled Anamnesis in a dark void, with the exception of a few close friends willing to read the original draft.
With the only source for publishers and agents at the time being a giant book that cost a fair chunk of money and was already out of date by the time it went to print, I was also shooting in the dark when I began to send out query letters. The agents listed in the book all insisted on “no simultaneous submissions,” and everything had to be sent by snail mail. Then you waited. And waited. They might respond with a Xeroxed rejection letter or they might never respond at all. After 3-6 months, one could assume it was a pass, and only then was it acceptable to send query letter number two.
Needless to say, I spent years on my first round of queries after compiling my small list, and received only a tiny handful of generic rejection letters. After work-shopping the novel and some major revisions, I tried again. By this time, a few databases had popped up online with lists of agents—mostly just names and addresses, but wonder of wonders, many were now willing to accept simultaneous submissions. I sent out my next round of queries and got my first two requests for a partial. I was overjoyed. Several months later, they came back with form letter rejections. By the third round of queries, I was running out of names. (QueryTracker didn’t exist yet.)
That was when I decided to write a novella set in the same world, thinking I could submit it to fantasy magazines to be published in serial format. Little did I know, no one was publishing novellas anymore (remember, ebooks weren’t really a thing), and when I finished and began to query The Devil’s Garden, I discovered that fantasy with romantic elements was universally derided by the speculative fiction world. They were the dreaded “kissing books,” full of Girl Cooties.
I’m happy to say that I finally made it through those dark times. The Devil’s Garden was published in 2011, and the sequels that had originally been one massive epic became three books: Idol of Bone, released in February of this year, followed this week by Idol of Blood, and in October by Idol of Glass.
There were plenty of times over the years when I thought about giving up, but my advice to the not-yet-published is to just keep going even when continuing seems absurd. (Or, if you like eating and having a roof over your head, do something—anything—else.) 😉
Excerpt from Idol of Bone
Three years in the settlement of Haethfalt had made him no more welcome, and little wiser. Most thought him mad for building his homemound nearly half above ground. Jak had advised strongly against it. There was no practical need for a “view”. “A view of what?” He could hear the words in Jak’s dry tone. “Three stunted trees and an endless sea of hills?” There were more than three trees, he’d argued, knowing Jak was baiting him, as always. But view or no view, the absurd Deltan window was the one thing he loved.
It wasn’t that it reminded him of home, he insisted to himself. Ahr simply needed the light. He hadn’t reconciled himself to a life beneath the ground. He understood the necessity; the winds from Munt Zelfaal—Mt. Winter, he amended—could be brutal in the spring and summer, and winter was as long as it was cold.
The mounds were beautiful in their own way: stone spirals rising in clusters from the earth, covered in the green of moss in the months without snow, revealing just the suggestion of their size and purpose. But light, as everything in the highlands, was different here from that of the Delta. The sky seemed subdued, its color an uncertain blue, and the sun paler and more distant, even when the weather was warm—and it was never as warm as Rhyman.
The fiery hues of late-autumn trees were the most intense the highlands had to offer—for a few brief moments, making his humble window a temple glass of orange and red, etched in light and shadow with the esoteric ciphers of distant gods. But the snow had ended that. And gods, in any event, did not bear thinking on. They were buried in the rivers and the sand, decayed blossoms crushed under the weight of their own majesty. They belonged to the suffocating fragrance of the past.
Ahr sighed and squared his shoulders. He was being self-indulgently morose, and he had work to do. Dusk was beginning to make ghosts of trees in the copse as he lingered at the window. The thought must have prompted his eyes to play tricks on him, for it seemed from the corner of his vision as he turned away that there were ghosts moving among the trees. Or one ghost, at any rate. Jak would have said he was seeing the Hidden Folk—elemental nature spirits to which the locals paid homage when they built and planted, though it seemed they did it in irony, not being big believers in mysticism and magic.
He narrowed his eyes and peered into the gloom. No one else lived this close to the mountain, yet someone was walking away from his end of the valley, dark and determined against the snow.
Excerpt from Idol of Blood
Ra curled away from him toward Jak beneath her blanket, eyes seeming to glint like a cat’s, though nothing else was visible in the darkness. “We haven’t really had a moment alone since…” The soft murmur trailed off. Jak knew precisely what moment Ra meant. Before they’d left Rhyman; before Ra had disappeared in the night to rescue little Pearl—a Meerchild bred in captivity and kept in a cage by the prelate of In’La; before Ra had set fire to the temple there, and the prelate with it, Jak had thrown caution to the wind and climbed into bed with a goddess. The commitment to celibacy Jak had tried to maintain since before Ra’s arrival in Haethfalt had been tossed aside like a cheap shirt.
After returning to Rhyman with Pearl, Ra had made no further overtures toward Jak, and Jak hadn’t presumed to make any toward Ra.
“It’s all right. We don’t need to—” The weak protest died on Jak’s lips as Ra’s descended on them. Her kisses had a tendency to take one’s breath away, as if she gathered it all into herself, holding it, holding time, before giving it back.
When she finally let them both breathe, Ra slid beneath the blanket and rested her head on Jak’s breast. “I could deepen Geffn’s sleep.”
Jak considered it for a rash moment before squelching the thought. “No. That wouldn’t be fair to him.” That was an understatement. Screwing one’s new lover while asleep next to the jilted lover whose heart one had recently broken would be in bad form, to say the least. And it would add more to that invisible price Ra must be paying if she were to expend magical energy when she had so little physical energy to spare. “We’ll have time enough when we get home.”
“Home.” Ra snuggled closer. “That sounds very nice. I’ve never had a home before. Just a temple.” She said the word as if it meant “jail”. While she spoke, however, her hand moved down Jak’s arm with feathery strokes, dipped over Jak’s hip and across Jak’s belly, and played at the loose drawstring waistband, fingers just inside it.
Jak placed a hand over Ra’s, meaning to stop her, but Ra entwined their fingers and slid them lower. As if it were an act of self-pleasuring, Ra used Jak’s fingers to delve deeper and press against the supple flesh, tentative, leisurely motions encouraging Jak to show her how to proceed.
“When we return to Mound RemPetaJakGeffnMelKeirenRa—” She murmured the absurdly long name of their Haethfalt household as if they were only having a quiet conversation—“I’d like to make a quilt by hand.” She drew Jak’s fingers in a complex pattern, up and down, over and across, doubling back in infinity symbols that ended in sharp, insistent points, like the edges of rings bisecting each other. “Do you like this pattern?”
Jak shivered and breathed ascent as Ra pressed Jak’s fingers into the center point of the bisection. Her motions became smaller, tighter and more definitive.
“Some little rosettes where the squares join,” Ra whispered. “One. Two. Three. Four…” She demonstrated. “With a diamond in the center. Right…there.”
Jak had to grab the blanket and bite down on it to keep the sweet little crooning howl Ra had inspired from escaping audibly.
“And another, there.”
Jak struggled not to thrash, rationing sharp rhythmic breaths into the fabric of the blanket.
“And then just there.”
In the grip of a wave of pleasure so intense it was almost unbearable, Jak clutched Ra’s hand so she could no longer effect her blissful torment, the other hand digging into the bedroll as pantomimed moans were buried in the crook of an elbow.
“Perhaps in peacock blue with threads of gold,” Ra continued as if she hadn’t just destroyed Jak utterly, her other hand casually stroking once more up Jak’s arm. “The colors of Ludtaht Ra. Though it may be time for new colors. I’ve always liked indigo.” She nestled against the hollow of Jak’s neck, putting a little kiss there before relaxing with a sigh to match Jak’s heaving breath. “Does that work for you?”
It took a moment to remember how to swallow and speak. “Work for me?” Jak let out a nervous, whispered laugh. “Just about killed me. I’m crazy about it.”
About the Author & Links:
Jane Kindred is the author of epic fantasy series The House of Arkhangel’sk, Demons of Elysium, and Looking Glass Gods. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.