I have the first 30-ish pages of the unsold Veil book. Again, it won’t be finished and it won’t be sold.
However, due to all the questions I’m getting lately, would you all be interested in just having those 30 pages? Keep in mind, there’s no resolution. There will be no resolution. Veil is too complicated a world and would require hardcore editorial work-something I’m not willing to do on my own and I’m not doing it with my digital publishers, for reasons that I’m not going into.
But if the majority would prefer to read it…let me know. I’m trying to use a poll feature here, so if it’s working for you, go with it. If not, just please leave a simple YES or NO in comments.
2012 Update: The publisher has no plans to continue with the series at this time. Sorry, folks.
Okay…so this isn’t the funnest post to write. But it’s got to be written.
For the foreseeable future, the Veil series has been placed on hold. While Through The Veil had great sales and great feedback…Veil of Shadowsdid not. Oh, the feedback I got it from it was good, but the sales…well, they sucked and I spent a few months debating, thinking…
In the end, I had to make a hard decision. Writing can be full of them. A writer’s daily life is all about the words…but in our business lives, if we don’t focus on something else…numbers and sales, we can end up being one of the writers who don’t keep writing for a living.
Since I kind of like what I do, and since my family kind of needs me to keep working…well, in the end, I knew what the right decision was, even though it wasn’t an easy one.
I spoke with my editor about the series and we’ve decided to put it to the side.
This doesn’t mean the series won’t be completed, but at this time, I just don’t know. Unless something amazing happens with Veil of Shadows, it’s not a big likelihood.
Now, before the ideas pop up…this book is already contracted to Berkley. I signed it with them. I can’t just take it elsewhere…contracts are legal obligations.
But should they be willing to let me take it elsewhere…I’m not inclined to even try, so before anybody asks, let me explain why.
Self publishing is out of the question…this is a hard series. I’d need an editor who was familiar with it. An editor/author relationship has to work and it’s not like picking up a carton of milk at the grocery store.
Self-publishing…the right way…isn’t cheap and I’ll either do it right, or I won’t do it. It’s a full-length book and would run me a couple of thousand dollars by the time all was said and done.
Self-publishing it would likely take me twice as long and could very well put me behind on other projects. As I just spent almost four months hauling tail to catch up after being sick in the spring, I’d rather not get behind again. One bad thing is all it takes and I’m screwed.
Signing it with a digital first publisher, a better possibility, but the editor who took it would have to be very familiar with the world, read both books and other issues.
The most likely possibility would be that maybe it could be released as a digital release from Berkley. Then I could have my original editor. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t get to as many people as it would in print.
There just aren’t any good scenarios, but the sad fact…the worst one is to continue the series at this point in time. Writing a book is a serious investment in time and if it’s a book that just isn’t selling, well…as much as it sucks, I have to wear my business hat when I’m making these decisions.
A series that isn’t selling well is bad news for a writer. Because I’d kind of like to keep getting those contracts…but series that don’t sell well, they don’t really look good to those nice people who offer the contracts.
I’m very sorry to those readers who’ve been waiting for the third book, I’m very sorry to the readers who’ve followed this series. I appreciate all your support and if, God willing, things do change, I’d love to continue with Morne’s book.
Dunno when this will be out. I’m still writing it. But I liked this bit.
She was hungry, and she was demanding, and he was almost certain she was going to drive him out of his mind.
He had more control than this. Damn it, he would have more control, but when he tried to wrest it away, she nipped at his tongue, then tore her mouth away, pressing her brow to his. “I won’t be controlled, Morne—when this happens, we’ll take each other.”
Today is National Buy a Book Day…whether you pick up mine, or somebody else’s, can you drop into your local bookstore and buy a book? Not online, but actually visit a bookstore if you can? We’re hearing more and more about independent bookstores closing down, how Borders is having more layoffs, and B & N is shutting stores. According to writer Jaye Wells, Times Magazine actually had it listed in an article “Top Ten Things Today’s Kids Won’t Experience“… Read a Real Book… You know me, I love my ebooks, I love my Nook and my Sony. But I love my print books and I love my bookstores, too. If you’ve got a few minutes, can you hit your local bookstore and buy a book? Any book–for you, for a friend, for a kid you want to introduce to the joy of reading… **First heard about National Buy A Book Day via Jaye Wells
With demons running amok throughout the forests and mountains, a rebel army has been established to win back the land—and a new soldier has appeared out of nowhere to join them.
His name is Xan, and his past is a mystery to everyone, including Laisyn Caar—a beautiful captain in the rebel army—who is shocked by the powerful, all-consuming desire she feels in his presence.
But now isn’t the time for distraction. The future of her land—and of her people—is in her hands. On top of that, she’s been stripped of her magic—and without it she feels like part of her soul has been stolen away.
But when she discovers the dark secrets of Xan’s agenda, it will be up to her to determine whether the man she’s starting to love is a friend of her people—or a dreaded enemy…
(You’ve seen something similar or part of this, but it’s one of my fave scenes…)
That was all Lothen managed to get out before he ended up flat on his back with all of the breath knocked out of him. He lay there choking and sputtering for air. His opponent stood there expressionless. Lo came to his feet and shoved sweaty hair back from his face. “That was a dirty fucking trick,” he wheezed.
“Sometimes it takes dirty fucking tricks to stay alive,” Xan replied.
Syn stood off to the side, with her arms crossed over her chest. The man had some serious moves on him. She called out to Lo and gestured for him to leave the sparring circle. Catching Bron’s eye, she nodded toward their newest. Bron cocked a brow—she saw the question in his eyes. She answered with a smile, and as Bron entered the circle, she stripped away her weapons.
Bron kept him moving. A fellow captain, a lifelong soldier, Bron fought with speed and stealth. He’d started out as a scout, but now he was in charge of one of the combat units. He was good. He was fast. But he wasn’t as fast or as good as their new guy. Syn could only think of one other guy who fought so naturally—like it was as natural to him as breathing.
“He’s good,” Kalen murmured from just behind her shoulder.
She grinned. “Now why am I not surprised to see you here, Commander?”
“Just passing by and caught sight of our new boys. Decided to take a look.”
Calling Xan a boy didn’t fit, Syn thought to herself.
“You playing today?” he asked.
Syn lifted a shoulder. “Unless you plan to.”
Bron went flying passed them—literally. He landed with an “oomph” and lay there for a few seconds, a dazed look in his eyes. His lean face went red as he tried to breathe.
Syn and Kalen grinned at each other. Then Kalen said, “I’ll pass. Lee and I are doing some hand-to-hand tonight. I’d rather not start off injured. I’ll let you have the fun today.”
“Coward.” Syn clucked her tongue. She watched, gauging the distance, as Xan started toward Bron. As he offered a hand to the other man, Syn moved.
She went for his feet and as he went down, she slid away.
It was like hitting a brick wall, she decided. A heated brick wall. She was so used to being cold, but the moment she touched him, even though her touch was an attack and not a caress, his heat chased away the chill and left her entire body suffused with warmth.
He outweighed her, outreached her, and stood nearly a head taller than she did. Which pretty much described every sparring partner she’d ever had.
That unreadable gaze of his didn’t change, but she sensed some surprise coming off him as he came to his feet. Bron was up, too, and he moved so that he stood just a little behind Syn and off to the side. It was a choreographed move—they’d done this a thousand times and they’d do it a thousand more.
“So now it is two on one,” Xan said, his voice emotionless.
“It can be a lot of fun.” Syn flashed him a cheeky smile, keeping her weight on the balls of her feet. Her heart was racing. Her skin felt warm, edging close to hot as she waited.
Xan didn’t make a move toward her, even though she stood the closest. He circled around, trying to make for Bron. Even after he had Bron back down, he didn’t engage with her. Syn lifted a brow and asked, “You do have a second opponent you have to take down.”
“I’m not putting a woman on the ground.”
“Okay.” It wasn’t the first time she’d been told that, and she’d handle it the same way she handled it every other time. The cold knot tried to settle back inside her, but it faded when she attacked him—when she touched him.
He deflected her next attack. And the next. Bron was back on his feet at that point, though, and as he moved toward Bron, Syn went for another takedown. He went down and as he did, he tried to catch her feet.
She was prepared for him though, springing away at just the last second. Xan got back on his feet, and this time, the look he shot her seemed a little bit perturbed.
“You can either spar me straight on, or I’ll keep coming at your back.”
“I’m not fighting with a woman.”
“Then get out,” she told him. She wasn’t touching him now and as she crossed her arms over her chest, the cold knot returned. “The gate’s that way. You can walk out now. If you move quickly enough, you can probably catch up to the convoy. But you don’t get to pick and choose your poison here, my friend. You do it my way, or you hit the road.”
His eye narrowed on her face. “You sound very certain of that fact.”
“With good reason.”
With the exception of Xan and Syn, everybody turned to look at Kalen as he entered the circle. He stood a few inches taller than Xan. He wore cavinir—a light, form-fitting armor that clung to a hard, leanly muscled body.
Kalen had been born a warrior, forced to become a leader. At a time when he should have been dreaming about girls and dreading his impending adulthood, he’d been on the front line of their war.
He circled to stand in front of Xan, pinning the other man with a cool, silvery gaze. “Nobody stays in my camp without proving they can hold their own. Nobody stays in my camp without showing they know how to handle themselves, without showing they know how to take orders. That includes training—you either spar with Captain Caar, as ordered, or you get the hell out.”
“I don’t believe in harming women,” Xan growled.
“It’s not about harming women.” Syn moved between them and gave Kalen a narrow look. He inclined his head and fell back, letting her handle it. There was one thing she could rely on to chase away the chill, and that was anger. Right now, it flooded her, and she welcomed it—welcomed it and channeled it.
Giving Xan a pointed stare, she said, “I’m not calling you on the floor to get hurt, Xan. Trust me, I don’t like pain, although I am used to it. But this isn’t about hurting me, hurting women. It’s called training—we all do it.”
“Then train women against women. Females are naturally weaker than males—the risk for injury to the woman is too high, even in training.”
“So this is about having a level playing field?” Syn snorted. “Sure, because we’re fighting a war where there’s always an excess of fairness.”
Xan stared at her, his black gaze unflinching. “I do not raise my hand to women.”
Syn smirked. “That’s a way of thinking that could end up with you getting hurt—in a serious way.” She glanced past him and her smile took on a decidedly devilish twist. “Bron, you’re out. Elina. Coryan.”
Elina Corsairs, long and lean, came at him from his right, a blur of movement. She was all speed and grace and as he moved to deflect her attack, the other woman came up behind him.
Coryan Holder stood at six feet and her body was nearly as broad as Xan’s. As he backed away from Elina, Coryan caught him in a wrestler’s hold and wrenched him off his feet. He went down and as one, the three women in the circle moved on him.
Elina ended up on her ass first. She would have moved back in but Syn caught her eye and shook her head.
Now facing Coryan and Syn, Xan grimaced. He looked between the two women, his gaze measuring.
Finally. Syn knew what sort of picture they presented. Coryan had the muscle mass to rival a man’s and her face was scarred, hardened from battle and years of a harsh life. Syn had faced that same hard life, and many of the same battles, but she was slender, not particularly tall and she looked . . . well, soft.
He’d go for Coryan next, she figured. Eliminate what he perceived as the biggest threat.
This wasn’t a new scenario for her. Too many of the men who wanted to join the rebellion showed up with preconceived notions—they were fighting a war against those that preyed on their females, and having those females involved directly in the fight went against their baser instincts.
He feinted toward Coryan but at the last minute, he changed direction. Moving too damn fast, he came for Syn. Only one thing saved her—he wasn’t used to fighting somebody half his size. She darted away, relying on her flexibility and years of experience to evade him. It was close, though. She felt the disturbance in the air ripple against her flesh. He didn’t waste any time and came at her again, harder. Faster.
Syn took his legs out from under him, but he was prepared this time, and when he went down, so did she. Trapped under his bigger body, she sucked air into her lungs.
Once more, touching him flooded her with heat, heat that suffused every fiber of her being, chasing away the chill. For the briefest moment, they were close, close as lovers, and she let herself revel in that heat, let herself feel his strength, feel all of him. But not enough . . . nowhere near enough.
Through their clothes, she could feel the heavy thud of his heart, beating so close to hers.
Then he spoke, and the spell shattered.
“This isn’t a fair fight,” he said in a monotone.
Working her hands in between them, she jabbed at his neck. He went red and gasped for air. As he went to shove away from her, she caught him between his legs with her knee.
It was utterly silent, save for the strange, choked sound he made deep in his throat as he rolled to the side. Syn came to her feet and stood over him.
“You’re damn right it’s not a fair fight,” she told him. “But then again, you can’t win a war, you can’t survive if you’re busy complaining about a fair fight.”
She moved to the edge of the circle, watching Xan from under her lashes. He recovered quick, rolling to his feet and watching her with a mix of disbelief and anger. The anger melted away, replaced by that same measuring gaze he’d focused on every other fighter he’d met in the circle.
About damn time.
“When I was ten, my mother was taken from me—she’d hidden me with my older brother, told him to keep me quiet, no matter what. I couldn’t do a damn thing to help her. All I could do was listen, helpless, as five Sirvani dragged her away from me. I never saw her again.” A knot tried to form in her throat, but she ignored it. “My father had died the year before in a raid. My brother died two years later on a scouting mission. I was just a child and I was alone. There’s nothing fair in that. But complaining about it didn’t bring them back.”
“Fighting an unfair fight will not bring them back,” he said.
“No. But it might help another girl—it has helped other girls, other boys. Innocent children. The women of this world can’t sit by the wayside, letting the men fight. If we want safety, we have to fight for it. It’s about survival, not fairness. I didn’t learn how to survive by only fighting the battles I could win. I learned how to survive by fighting the battles I couldn’t win.”
He inclined his head. “Point taken.”
Kalen stood at her back. Bron was at her right. Elina and Coryan waited patiently at her left.
But she didn’t look at any of them. She took three steps, placing her body once more inside the circle.
“Lets try this again,” she said, staring at Xan and nothing else. “We do this my way, or you leave. The next time I tell you to step into the circle and fight a woman, what are you going to do?”
A faint smile curled his lips just before he attacked.
He spoke with no trace of an accent. Hell, if it wasn’t for his clothing, if it wasn’t for the way her gut screamed at the sight of him, she could have mistaken him for one of her people.
“How considerate of you, showing such concern for us.” She bared her teeth at him. “Any other reasons why you’re darkening my doorstep?”
His brows came together, a puzzled frown on his face. “I’ve yet to darken a doorstep, witch.”
“You’re too damn close to our territory—too damn close to a whole lot of people who’d sooner gut you than look at you. Why in the holy hell are you here? Where are the rest of your men?”
With a humorless smirk on his lips, he said, “It doesn’t look as though I have any men.”
“Not buying it.” Syn shook her head. “Warlords don’t travel alone. Where are the others?”
“There are none. I’m what you would call a…” He paused, his head cocked as though he was trying to find the word. “A deserter,” he finished, his voice cool and regal.
Off in the forest, they heard another ominous crack and the ground under them shuddered as one of the forest giants went crashing to the ground. They were going to be dealing with downed trees for a while, she suspected. Glancing up into the canopy, she hoped none of the trees around them gave out just yet.
Unless of course, one of them fell on the Warlord’s head.
Xan lifted a hand, rested it on her shoulder. He dipped his head and quietly said, “It isn’t safe to stay here, Captain.”
“Agreed,” Kalen said, his voice flat and hard.
Damn it, she knew that. But damn it, she didn’t know what to do. Tersely, she said, “What about him?”
She glanced at Kalen, one quick glance, because she wasn’t looking away from the Warlord for any longer than two seconds.
He didn’t answer outloud. His voice, hard and harsh with worry, blasted into her mind with enough force that she almost flinched. “I don’t know what in the hell to do, but I don’t think it’s wise to just leave him here.”
“How do we know he’s telling the truth about being a deserter? And what in the hell does that mean anyway? Why did he help us?”
Kalen’s silver flashed. “I don’t know. And we don’t if he’s telling the truth—you or Elina need to look at him. I can’t do it—if he’s ever encountered a psychic before, he’ll know how to modify his thoughts, but he can’t alter his basic emotional landscape. Look at him—if he’s a threat, kill him. Here and now. Otherwise, he comes with us. But he doesn’t leave here alone.”
Two seconds later, she was on her feet, with his arms wrapped tight around her waist. In that moment, she didn’t mind a bit. She let herself take a few seconds and then she eased away, looking for the others. The air was thick with dust, ash and debris and she grabbed a small, folded mask from her pocket. The thin mask would filter out the worst of the debris and she just hoped it thinned closer back to camp.
They were still miles away and the winds were blowing to west, hopefully it would carry most of the desk into the mountains.
Squinting to see through the clouded air, she searched for her friends. Kalen was leaning against a tree, holding his unconscious wife close to his chest. Egan climbed to his feet and swiped at the blood trickling from a gash in his head. Elina was in the middle of the small clearing, staring off into the west. Under the dirt and blood, she was smiling.
“How’s Lee?” Syn asked.
The commander stroked a hand down her face, resting his fingers in the hollow of her throat. “Her pulse is fine and I can feel her.”
Syn knew he wasn’t talking about physically. He shot Syn a relieved smile and said, “I think she’s going to be fine. The fuck didn’t have her long enough to do damage.”
With the exception of Lee, all of them were conscious and nobody looked to have an serious injuries. Bloodied, but no major injuries.
Uneasy, she kept her weapon at ready as she did a head count.
Seven humans, quite a few Raviner corpses. Or rather…six humans, and one fucking Warlord and quite a few Raviner corpses.
Peering over her shoulder, she stared at Xan, touched his face to reassure he was well. He caught her hand and pressed a kiss to her bloodied palm. The sight of him hit her hard and fast, leaving her head spinning and her heart racing. It was hell, having feelings for a guy when she might have to send him to his death on any given day.
She moved to stand by Kalen, placing her self at his side if he needed her. Lee was unconscious—helpless.
And there was a fucking Warlord. Ten feet away.
They were miles from the base, one of their witches was unconscious, and most of them had some form of injury or another. Syn narrowed her eyes. Even if she wasn’t a superstitious witch, that would have had her instincts howling.
He had no earthly business here.
Keeping her weapon ready, she stared at the man.
“Warlord.” Kalen said the word as though it left him with a bad taste in his mouth.
It certainly had that affect on Syn.
He didn’t bother to deny it, just inclined his head. Even if he’d tried, even if he wasn’t wearing a Warlord’s garb, he couldn’t hide himself from Syn. She could feel the Gate magic in him. He might not able to use it, but it was still there. Her gift recognized his—his kind hunted hers. His kind enslaved hers. Her fingers itched to draw her pulsar and kill him—now. But curiosity, and perhaps something else, stayed her hand.
Xan came to stand at her side, but she didn’t so much as glance at him, unwilling to look away from the threat.
Kalen glared at the man. The Warlord’s gaze flicked to Lee and Syn moved to stand in front of Lee, blocking the man’s gaze of her friend.
“Why are you here, Warlord?” she asked. Does he even understand me?
He flicked a disinterested glance around him and then looked back at Syn. “At the moment, it would appear I’m standing here with the lot of you while you linger and wait for more demons to appear.”
No. It wasn’t him. As he turned to take down on the Raviners coming at her, she caught full sight of his face.
Syn hadn’t ever seen him before in her life and every instinct inside her screamed as he used his blade on one of the remaining Raviners, laying the thing’s neck wide open, nearly severing the head with one powerful blow. He moved like a pale shadow. Like death. Deadly and silent.
She couldn’t watch him, though, because she had still had one of the power-hungry creatures to deal with, close, too close, slashing at her with a blade of some foreign black metal.
The next time she saw the blond man, another Raviner had joined the mess of bodies on the forest floor.
Off to her right, Lee screamed and Syn turned just in time to see her friend go to her knees, clasping her head. A Raviner stood behind him, one pale hand lifted. Inside the depths of the thing’s robes, Syn could just barely make out the faint glimmer of its eyes.
Power. The thing reeked of it.
She jerked her pulsar up and aimed.
But before she could pull the trigger, a brawny arm came around the Raviner and then blood flowed as his neck was laid open. The Raviner collapsed to the ground, his blood bubbling out of the gaping wound in his throat. Xan…alive. Covered in grayish Raviner blood, but alive. Then he was gone, losing himself once more in the battle.
Fear left a metallic taste on her tongue. She didn’t fight it. She welcomed it. If she didn’t use the fear, it would use her.
Her gift whispered to her, begged to sink into the earth, to be set lose—to forge something larger than a ball of fire. Syn resisted. Not here. Not out in the open—using the bigger magic called too much attention. Instead, she lobbed fire into their faces, on after another and just hoped they’d burn like mad.
She shot a glance at the time and swore. Raising her voice, she bellowed, “Duck and cover!”
The ground started to rumble. What few remaining Raviners were there froze and then they darted into the forest. Seconds later, a deafening boom echoed through the woods. In seconds, the sky was obscured by smoke and debris.
Syn huddled against a tree, Xan’s body pressing into hers.
The earth shuddered, heaved. She caught the stench of wood burning—hot, acrid smoke flooded her head. Distantly, she heard inhuman shrieks. And deep inside, she felt the first wave of death.
It could have been hours. Days.
Thunderous cracks echoed through the forest as trees succumbed and went crashing to the earth. Ash choked the air.
After an eternity, all went still. Struggling to breathe, Syn shoved against Xan’s chest and rasped out, “Need air, lover.”
Just as she lifted her comm-unit, the others chirped.
Elina and Lee, almost in sync, each said, “Done.” Lee added in, “This baby is locked and loaded.”
Syn shook her head and muttered, “Don’t refer to the device as a child, Lee.”
Lee just laughed.
“Just need to get this set,” Syn said, ignoring Lee.
“Once we set them, we have forty-fives minutes to get clear and then these little bastards go boom.”
“I’m ready,” Elina said.
“Me, too. Let’s get this done.”
Syn caught Xan’s eye and nodded.
With one flick of his wrist, he armed the device. A timer flashed onto the display as they ran for the caribin.
Forty-five minutes. It should be plenty of time to get away safely, as long as the devices weren’t disturbed. They’d been set to detonate immediately if they were disturbed after being armed. For the next twenty or thirty minutes, Lee knew her heart was going to be somewhere in the vicinity of her heart, just out of nerves.
If a demon so much as touched one of those devices while they were in the area, they were dead—the demon and whatever team was unlucky enough to be in the area.
But as they drew closer to the rendezvous, nothing happened. She kept having Xan check the monitor and it showed the device was ticking away the minutes exactly as it had been programmed and no life-forms showed up even remotely close.
They had eight minutes left when they hit the rendezvous. Elina and Egan were already there.
Off in the distance, she heard the quiet hum of Kalen and Lee’s caribin. They had two stops, setting the fourth and final device, the one that would be closest to the camp, but they’d planted that one earlier and the monitor showed it to be in sync with the other three.
“Went off without a hitch,” Egan murmured, meeting her eyes and smiling.
But even as he said it, something cold settled in the bottom of Syn’s belly.
The monitor in Xan’s hand started beeping, sending out a warning.
Demons. Moving fast.
The wind kicked up, bringing with it the stink of brimstone. Death. Slowly, she turned and stared through the trees, in the direction she and Xan had come from.
Black-robbed figures. Raviners.
Elina was at her side the word even left Syn’s mouth. She met the older woman’s gaze and said, “We should have known it couldn’t be that easy.”
“As long as your little boomers go boom, then we win,” Elina said, her voice flat. “Might be a bloody victory but who the hell cares?”
Yes. It got very bloody. The Raviners were alone this time, but there were nearly two dozen of them—and they were enraged. Even once Kalen and Lee arrived, just minutes later, the rebels were outnumbered.
Separated from Xan, Syn fought against two of the Raviners. She fought with both metal and magic, using her knife because they were too close for her to use her pulsar without injury to herself as well. She used small, focused bursts of fire, afraid to use anything larger for fear it might beckon to any other Raviners that lingered nearby.
He came out of nowhere. One moment he wasn’t there. The next moment, he was. He wore his blond hair in a club down his back and carried nothing but bladed weapons. A fighter that cut through the Raviners with the flash of metal. For one second, Syn thought it was Morne. He moved like him. He bore a vague similarity to the healer. Was it…?