As 2015 approaches, I’m making my list of projects for the coming year, and when I plan to have them finished. Some are set in stone (Publishers kind of like to know when they’re getting stuff… ;)…), but I decided to try something a little different, and have my readers weigh in on what you want to see, in 2015. So, from my upcoming self-publishing ventures, I’ve created a little poll, where you can vote for the series/books you most want to see released before the end of 2015. Be sure to cast your vote! 🙂
This is a brief excerpt, drawn from an alternate timeline series I’m working on. When an archeologist from our world stumbles across an artifact in the Siberian steppes, he has no idea what he’s actually stumbled upon, until he finds himself in a world both alien and vaguely familiar. To get back to his own world, he’ll have to find the key to using the amulet he found. The only question is: If he finds a way back, will he even want to go?
“Lost Magic” – Excerpt from THE DOLPHIN’S LUCK (Icarian Chronicles: The Carnelian Amulet, Book 1) —
Brandon sighed. He didn’t want to open this can of worms – didn’t every TV show dealing with space-time continuum issues say messing with the world you landed in only ever ended badly? – but he couldn’t very well ignore her question.
“The world I come from has all but forgotten magic, Sasha. It’s replaced wonder and awe with science and logic.”
Her brow furrowed. “You are mocking me.”
How he wished it was that simple. “Not a bit.”
“So, in this world where no magic exists, there is no war?”
He tensed, aware she wasn’t going to like the answer to that question. Her world was built on the black-and-white concept that if magic ceased to be, so would all the fighting, and all the terrible things that happened in the course of war. Eyes closed, he shook his head. “Quite the opposite. War, fighting, and killing are practically a way of life, some places in my world. Most places have crime – people who hurt and kill others for stupid reasons, and even for no reason at all. To be honest, I think in losing magic, we lost the little bit of our souls that kept us honest.”
Once upon a time, I started a historical series based around an old legend I found hidden in the stacks of the AFB library. It was a medieval legend of a female pirate, and while it was little more than a footnote in a book on Scandinavian and Russian history, it fascinated me, and I set out to write the account of a female pirate in 12th Century Europe.
Only, I was never really happy with how it came out. I adored the character, but she just didn’t fit her era right, and the politics of the time period made some of the aspects of her story border on the unbelievable. I just was never happy enough with it to really think about publishing it as more than a lark.
And then came the most wonderful idea… I realized it didn’t have to be history as we know it. I had other options! And, in early 2002, I started redrafting Sasha’s story into an Alternate History/Speculative Fiction series… And from the characters and background in her story grew an entire series. This series considers the possibility that Christianity never took hold, and that magic and mysticism prevailed. The continental shift happened differently, leading to a completely different allocation of resources and civilizations, and eventually to a power struggle within the ruling family/caste of the world, between the religious/spiritual and the pragmatic, warrior caste.
And thus was born the Icarian Chronicles, into which I would eventually introduce someone strange to their world, whose understanding of history I will proceed to totally warp. :). But, for now, the series starts several years before Sasha’s birth, with her parents.
“Imperial Blood” – Excerpt from THE EAGLE’S MISTRESS
(Icarian Chronicles, Book 1) –
Nira returned to her teacher’s side, tugging the shawl up around the old woman’s frail shoulders to ward off the evening chill. With a fond smile, she settled on the low stool beside Malisina’s chair.
“Tell me what you know of him, Mala,” she plied eagerly, curious to know everything about the man who came to disturb their peaceful home. “What kind of man is the Emperor?”
“Emperor, bah!” The older woman fluttered a scoffing hand through the air. “That pup is no more Emperor than I am the Goddess Efri!”
Nira’s eyes widened. This was the first she ever heard gentle Malisina speak ill of the new Emperor. “Have a care, Mala! He may mean to cause us harm.”
This brought a chuckle from Malisina, even as one trembling hand reached out to stroke her face lovingly. “Ah, my sweet child, not you. You have the power to show yon fledgling Eagle the error of his ways. Besides, I mean him no harm. I only tell them as I see them, and he is not yet an Emperor, and nor shall he be fully so, as long as our own sweet Mistress Eleindra draws breath. I fear those two shall be the death of us all, child, if one is not soon tamed.”
Nira drew back, puzzled. Malisina had a tendency to ramble, of late. Some whispered that she grew feeble-minded, but Nira wondered. Malisina was gifted with the Future Sight of a Truth-Sayer. Could her words be prophecy, not mad ramblings? A cold chill brushed Nira’s skin.
“What do you know of him, Mala?” She pleaded, clutching her guardian’s hand.
“Nothing to cause such fear, sweet child,” Malisina assured her gently, her wise old eyes sparkling. That look, alone, told Nira her teacher was far from mad.
“Impatience, child,” Malisina scolded her, a familiar rebuke. Then, a soft smile turned up the woman’s lips. “Very well, I will tell you what I know. Yon Eagle has been groomed for this day since he was in leading straps. He was harnessed for war before he sat upon his first horse, or flew his first war bird. And yet, there is a sadness to him that speaks of a man who wishes for peace. You must remember this, child, or all that would come after you is lost.”
The warning furrowed Nira’s brow, but she nodded and scooted nearer. What Mala meant, she had no idea, but she would remember. Indeed, how could she ever forget these words?
“Eleindra once told me that her brother drew the blood of war from his own wrists. Some say there are scars there – marks of a boy who does not yet understand the man his father’s death created. And yet, he is strong, with great courage, and even greater arrogance. I believe they breed such qualities into all of Imperial blood, myself.”
Something from a Fantasy series that’s become near and dear to me, for its ability to stretch not just my imagination, but my writing skills as well, into new arenas. Hope you enjoy! As always, please leave comments and let me know what you think! 🙂
“The Temple Gates” – Excerpted from THE EAGLE’S MISTRESS (Icarian Chronicles, Book #1)
“You are not welcome here.” The voice was dry and brittle, like old parchment, and the dark eyes that glared at him through the peep-hole were sharper than the point of a blade. But he hadn’t braved death to be turned away now.
“I am Emperor.”
“Not here, you h’aint.” Her natural Aresian dialect slipped through as she continued to glare at him.
Hadrian sighed. He didn’t come here to fight with a snappy guard dog. “I came to see the priestess known as N’Lrissa.”
Silence greeted him, before the murmur of a voice behind the door guard raised fine hairs along his body. Even unable to make out her words, his body knew that voice, as if it were only moments since he last heard it, and not years.
The dark eyes were replaced by orbs of green the exact shade of the forests of his happy youth. Eyes in which he once drowned, and in which he would gladly give his last breath to drown again.
“Your Excellency. You should not have come here.”
He smiled at her wavering command. Part disbelief, part dismay, and not one whit disappointment. All so much his beloved Nira. “You can’t hide from me here, Nira.”
That brought familiar fire to her eyes. “I did not come here to hide.”
He would debate that, but he feared angering her would only bring back the guard, and lock him away from her forever. He lived without her long enough, thanks to Lionora’s conniving ways.
“Nira, I would speak with you. Please,” he interjected hastily when he sensed she was about to deny him.
A weary sigh answered that entreaty, before he heard the heavy bolt slide free, and the huge, Crimorian oak door swung open. “Very well. Say your piece, and then be gone.”
His eyes roved over her, drinking in changes and memories that lingered on her form. She was still slim as a willow branch, delicate in structure, if not in soul. Her form filled out to womanhood now; no longer the terrified waif of a girl he once found in his chamber. But her eyes were harder, now. More cynical, and touched with sadness he could not explain. His heart jumped hard against its bony cage. Did she regret this meeting, after all?
“Not here,” he murmured as he bowed over her hand, not quite daring to touch his lips to the flesh he so longed to taste again. “Walk with me, Nira. Just for a while.”
She eyed the forest beyond him warily. “These are not woods for an idle stroll, Excellency.”
His lips twitched with irony as he straightened. He knew only too well the wild magic of these benighted woods. “Do you not trust me, Reverence?”
She eyed him with equal caution as she had viewed the forest. “I do not know that I should have cause.”
As knife thrusts went, hers was true, piercing him to the heart. And it stung even more to know he had earned that barbing. His was the crime, here, and all the Imperial blood in the world could not change what was already done.
This is a little something I recently cooked up for a fantasy series I’m working on… Hope you enjoy it! As always, please leave comments, after you read. I schedule my writing and release schedule around the feedback I get, so if you want to see something come to print, I have to know you’re interested! 🙂
“Dark Protector” – Excerpted from HONOR’S CAPTIVE
copyright 2008 by Esther Mitchell
She had to traverse the river, if she wanted to hide from the Empress’ men. Cila knew this. Her nose wrinkled as her blue gaze drifted beyond the smoothly-cobbled path to the leaf-strewn, damp ground of the surrounding forest. The thought of rotting autumn leaves squishing between her bare toes sent a shudder of dread through her.
“I can’t do it.”
Her companion turned, his dark eyes boring into her and his expression darker still. She took a hesitant step backward. She wanted to believe Cort would never harm her, but he was a Darkling – half warrior, half magus, and all dangerous. And, in a moment of weakness, she’d agreed to trust him with her life.
“You will do it.”
“I won’t.” She shook her head and set her chin firmly. She was the daughter of Narsus and Shali D’Gillis. Blood kin to royalty flowed in her veins, and she wouldn’t be ordered about by any half-breed Darkling bastard.
Cort’s jaw hardened, and he took a menacing step toward her. His voice, when he spoke next, hissed with steel and fire, hidden beneath the smoothness of silk. “You will either ford that river now, Your Ladyship, or I will toss you in it on your royal backside.”
Her mouth gaped open, and a frisson of fear struck through her. He meant it. But… but.. he couldn’t! He wouldn’t really dare to touch her… “You wouldn’t dare!”
Those firm lips twisted into an ugly remnant of a smile. “Is that a challenge, Lady D’Gillis?”
With a sinking heart, Cila knew she was in very deep trouble.