It’s no secret that my books play with darker themes and showcase the brutality of humanity.
I don’t mince words. I don’t pull punches. If a scene is meant to hurt, if a book demands a scene that hurts, then it’s going to hurt.
Of course, I do the opposite, as well, writing sweet, tender scenes when the book calls for it.
But I don’t recall ever covering why I write the way I write.
I don’t set out with the intention of writing something so dramatic and dark. It just kinda happens.
But there’s still a reason.
Well, more like several.
I haven’t had the easiest life. I’ve been through a decent amount.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had good times, and I’ve known good people.
But I know what it’s like to hurt.
So characters who’ve had it easy their whole lives are hard for me to relate to.
Pretty princesses whose biggest problem is deciding what to wear to the next ball… just don’t work for me. I can’t connect with them.
And since I’m a very emotional person (not that that’s obvious on the outside thanks to social anxiety, extreme introversion, and resting bitch face), not connecting with a character emotionally pretty much damns the story for me.
Characters who’ve hurt, who’ve hit rock bottom and crashed through (because rock bottom is just a muscovite illusion, because things can always get worse), characters who kept falling until they smashed onto a ledge, breaking into a million pieces with their head over the edge staring into the abyss, only to heal just enough to get up and start climbing because they know, yes, things can always get worse, but things can also always get better.
And they know they’ll never have it better if they give up.
Those are the characters I relate to.
So, those are the characters I write. Those are the characters that keep me writing or reading until after the sun comes up.
Because they’re the ones I can identify with.
Writing them helps me get my shit out onto a page. It helps me see the issue as separate from myself because I fictionalize it, changing the details to fit the story, but the emotions are still there.
And that helps me process them.
And I know that I’m not the only one trying to figure out their shit. And if seeing it on a page helps me, it’s bound to help someone else.
Next week, I’ll be discussing which themes come up in my new release, A Heart of Salt & Silver. There are… several.
But for now, I’ll leave you with a progress report.
I finished this round of edits on Where Darkness Leads a couple weeks ago, and promptly moved into a round of edits on Allmother Rising. This round will be done with special focus on beta reader feedback. So, it’ll be a full round of edits, but I’ll also be watching for a very specific thing to come up in the book to see what needs adjusted.
I’m about an eighth of the way through.
I’ve also been steadily writing on The Regonia Chronicles. It’s definitely going to be three books. Plus prequels. Two books for the main series is not going to be an option.
There are just too many planets, too many necessary POVs, too much ground to cover (or space to travel through). And it’s all plot-relevant. So, no cutting it down.
I’m currently adding chapters throughout book two to lay some groundwork for book three, then I’ll be continuing in book three.
And I got some incredible feedback on Second to None today. I’ll be making some minor adjustments, but I’m ecstatic.
Stick around for some snippets from A Heart of Salt & Silver on my social media platforms this week, as well as guest blogs and interviews throughout the blog tour.
I’m aiming to have the new cover for Soul Bearer officially available this week or next week, so keep an eye out for that, as well.
Here are a couple of excerpts to give you a sneak peak at the book!
“Unhand us, witch!” the vampire shouts.
The mortals, apparently far smarter than this vampire, remain silent. Even the vampire’s own pledge seals his lips shut. A wave of Nether wafts off him, marking him as a Nether witch.
But fury sparks within me, and a dark grin overtakes me. I lower my arm, setting the blades down gently in the middle of the clearing.
“What was that?” I ask, daring the vampire to repeat himself.
Stupidly enough, he does. “I said, ‘unhand us, witch!’ Let us go quickly, and I might not kill you.”
I laugh quietly, and all the birds fly away, deserting their treetop perches. A dangerous glint shines in my eyes as I saunter within arm’s reach.
“Witch? You think me a witch?”
“How else could a pitiful, puny little woman like you do all this?” He jerks his head at the other two men, unable to move his arms. Cheeks flushed with anger, he draws back and spits in my face, dark eyes flashing, all the while.
Nearby animals sense my anger reverberating on the Nether, and the woods fall completely silent. Fury roils within me, and visions of blood fill my mind. Everything in me demands his evisceration.
Or perhaps the removal of some limbs…
With eyes narrowed, I lift one hand. He flinches, and I smile, baring my teeth. His spit floats into the air, leaping happily from my skin. My spine shivers with disgust and hatred as I force the spit to smear itself over the vampire’s face, over his eyes.
Slowly twirling one finger, I tighten his bonds. Air rushes from his lungs, and his soft face goes red as he struggles to breathe.
“You underestimate me. I don’t know a single witch who can do everything I’ve done without at least three days of spell and potion preparation. Not to mention the difficulty of lugging all those ingredients out here.”
Lifting one average looking fingernail to his face, I trace one of his cheekbones, then the other, splitting the skin wide. A line drawn down the center of his nose, from bridge to tip, releases still more blood.
My eyes flutter as the darkest parts of me savor the sight.
“As for spitting on me,” I whisper, knowing my voice will carry to the others, echoing in their bones despite its low volume, “that was a grave mistake. Most of my kind would have killed you on the spot, simply for the disturbance.”
Voice suddenly a hiss, I say, “You’re lucky I’ve learned patience.”
My soul riots for revenge, and my blood boils in my veins. I fight the damnable words, hating my own weakness before my rage, but still, I say, “But ignorance must not go to seed. Your family line will end with you. You will never again create, or prolong, life.”
And I shift the Nether to make it so.
“Your kind? What are you talking about? What makes you think you can curse me?” All bluff and bluster, the vampire tries to appear brave and defiant.
But I feel the fear leaking off him. I smell it in his blood, acrid and spoiled. I hear it in his sputtering heartbeat, slightly more erratic than those of the others.
Again, I say nothing. Drawing a deep breath, I close my eyes slowly.
Thunder roars through the clearing, rumbling in all our chests. I open my eyes, glittering gold sending light reflecting back at the vampire, and my skin grows paler. Fingernails become golden talons, embedded in black skin which reveals hues of purple as it fades to white just above my wrist. My eyelids are colored similarly, pulsing with the Nether that reaches out through my skin.
Black horns burst from my skull, sticking through locks of deepest red. My horns twist as they taper off, curling back over the top of my head.
The color drains from the vampire’s face, concealed as it is by his blood. Sick glee spikes through me.
“Did you know you would feel my revelation in your blood? Did you know the very air would tremble with it?” I ask, knowing the answer to be a resounding “no.”
“You’re a…” he trails off, unable to speak for lack of air.
“Demi-demon is, I believe, the word you’re looking for,” I say, smiling malevolently. “Now, I’m going to untether you, and you’re going to run. Before I change my mind.”
Can I just say that Ness is pretty OP? Lol. She has her flaws, don’t get me wrong. She isn’t perfect. But she’s powerful as hell.
And because I just can’t help myself, here’s another excerpt:
With my good arm, I pull my leg up to bend the knee. Hiking the hem of my dress up, I reveal torn muscle and shredded skin. I wince as the fabric moves over it, tugging flaps of skin in directions they aren’t meant to go.
Elias’ hands set to work, scooping water up, and pouring it over my thigh. Each drop, gentle as the administration of them may be, pulls a moan of pain from my lips. Wrapping fingers tightly around a stone, I do what I can to bear the pain without making Elias feel worse.
The blood washes away, revealing the true devastation wrought by the dead wolf’s jaws. My leg hangs open, dark muscle showing itself to the sky as it was never meant to do.
“Itand have mercy,” he whispers, calling on the goddess of fortitude.
But she’ll spare no blessings for the likes of me.
“What do I need to do?” he asks. His eyes roam over me, and one hand finds its way to my cheek. Brows knitted together, he clearly longs for something to do, some reassurance that I’ll be ok.
Does he want me to be alright for the sake of spending more time together? Or merely for the sake of having an escort for the rest of the trek?
I hope for his sake that it’s the latter. But the well of loneliness within me wishes for the former.
Either way, there’s nothing he can do.
“My body will mend itself,” I tell him. “It’ll hurt, but it’ll mend. It’s already started.”
His eyes drop to my arm, my leg. The bleeding has stopped, and the cuts aren’t as deep as they were mere seconds ago. Had he seen it when the wounds were first inflicted, he likely would’ve been sick.
“I wish you would’ve let me help,” he murmurs, sliding his hand along my jaw until his thumb finds my earlobe.
Exhaustion pulls my inhibitions low. Despite myself, despite the guilt churning within me, I lean into his caress.
Nolan won’t want me back, anyway.
My heart shrinks from the thought, and I close my eyes, nuzzling my cheek into Elias’ palm.
“Letting you help would’ve been a terrible idea. They could never kill me. They had no salt, no silver. They couldn’t say any incantations.”
I pause, squeezing my eyes tight against the horrid images which flash before them. I don’t want to see the ways they could’ve hurt him. I don’t want to watch them tear him to shreds. I don’t want to see his blood on the ground.
“They could’ve killed you, though,” I whisper.
Suddenly desperate to see him alive and healthy, to ease my conscience just a bit, I open my eyes. Sure enough, he’s there, face inches from mine. The moonlight glows in his magnificent eyes, but the blood of the Howlers still adorns his face.
Reaching for his sodden shirt, I lift a corner of it to his face. Wiping away the dried blood, I memorize the strength in his jaw, the kindness in his eyes. I trace the small kink in his nose, a remnant from a previous fight.
From a distance, it’s almost impossible to notice, but this close…
My eyes drop to his lips, full and soft. They part, but only to speak.
Confusion wrinkles his brow. “If they couldn’t kill you, why were they sent after us? To maim you and kill me?”
“No,” I say, shaking my head. I stifle a groan as my thigh stitches itself together. “They sent them to find us. They know where we are, now. They know which way we were headed. They’ll find us.”
Those words sew our lips shut, for we both know. This won’t be the last of the vampire and his pledge. And if this was just the search party, what awaits us down the path?
The things awaiting them down the path are pretty intense. Just so you know.
Subscribe and/or follow on social media to stay up to date on all things A Heart of Salt & Silver. It’s officially set to release on November 3rd of this year, and preorders will be available soon!