Coming September 22nd!
Available for pre-order from:
Act now and don’t miss out!
Because after September, this story will be dead to me.
At least until it’s time to write the sequel. I’m one of those sorts.
The air conditioner broke. ‘Tis the season of dead appliances, apparently…
And the weather forecast is promising a heat wave for the next few days. This matters because we have to order the part in for repair. Ha ha.
It might be better for me to spend the afternoons out on the patio, where I can turn on the misters to cool down. I have terrible heat tolerance.
Anyway, that’s enough whining for now.
Actually, no, it isn’t!
I don’t have any sort of aptitude for marketing. In fact, it’s such a foreign way of thinking for me, that it leaves me so drained and cranky that I end up completely nonfunctional for the rest of the day, then lose all ability to “follow through” afterwards.
I made some queries about how to effectively advertise over the past couple of days, and currently I have e-mails sitting in my inbox that I just don’t have the energy to open. I badly want to retreat to the kitchen to bake something sugary, and forget about the whole subject.
So I’m going to pull back for now. I learned one important lesson about Kindle keywords (use phrases instead of words) that will henceforth be applied to everything I publish, but I’m not going to sacrifice my soul for this. Heck, part of my long term “marketing” strategy was to publish a novel every year, and that ain’t gonna happen if I kill my creative energy.
Not to mention, no one enjoys a cranky mama.
I’ll probably make no-bake cookies to avoid turning on the oven while the air conditioner is broken. Seems prudent.
Anyway, I haven’t finished polishing up Alice and the Warden for official publication yet, and I particularly wanted to fix up the final few chapters where I was *obviously* fatigued when I wrote them.
And I’m working on The Scion Suit MULTIVERSE edition, lol.
I need to stick with what works for me emotionally, since I’m kind of a finicky hyper-sensitive sort that burns out easily. Patience is a virtue, and all that.
Describing my stories is significantly harder than writing them.
It’s kind of funny, really, how when I strip out all of the characterization and spoilers, it’s pretty easy to end up with some generic and boring blurb. Which, naturally, as someone who takes pride in their work, is kind of upsetting. Here I am, trying so hard to be grammatically correct and all that jazz, putting off potential readers because I can’t come up with an awesome enough summary. Le sigh.
I’ve decided that as a writing exercise, I’m going to go ahead and write the crappiest/trashiest descriptions I can think of, just to get it out of my system. Woohoo!
In chronological order:
Alice and the Warden – A troubled young woman finds herself pregnant and in prison, then begins a scandalous relationship with the warden.
The Black Magus – A powerful assassin falls in love with the daughter of his next target, and finds himself torn between his job and his heart.
The Scion Suit – A mousey woman unexpectedly becomes the pilot of a mecha suit in the military, and learns a lesson in building confidence.
Light Eternal – A young woman battles dissociation and soul loss with the help of a mysterious man who can change reality at will.
Elias couldn’t shake the strange sensation that was overtaking him, the feeling that the future was shaping itself in that moment
-The Black Magus, by Autumn Rain
Alice had met Damon when she was sixteen-years-old, and he had talked her into bed with him that night. Shortly afterwards, she dropped out of school to run away with him on his motorcycle, and somewhere along the road she lost her sense of self.
When Damon asked her to have sex with a friend to repay a favor, she did it. When he wanted leverage over someone, she became a seductress on his behalf. He taught her to steal, chose her clothing for her, and pushed her into drugs and alcohol. After four years, Alice had disappeared completely underneath Damon, to the point that when he asked her to confess to murder, she did it without hesitation.
Until the moment Alice found herself alone in the stall of a public restroom, staring down at the two lines of a nicked pregnancy test, too numb to feel her heart beat. It was then that the word ‘dignity’ had risen up sharply in her mind, spoken by that stupid, impotent warden she had vowed to hate just three weeks prior.
She still didn’t know what it meant, but she knew that if she told Damon he would insist on an abortion, and she wouldn’t argue against him. That wasn’t what she wanted, and she knew that it wasn’t dignified to be so blindly obedient to someone like Damon. There was no doubt that he was the father, but she couldn’t trust him with her baby.
She never told him.
A couple weeks later, they checked into a motel where Damon began to undress her as usual, but Alice didn’t have it in her to go through with it. She was more tired than she had thought possible, slightly nauseated from the pregnancy, and angry at Damon for using her too much. For the first time ever, she snapped at him to ‘fuck off,’ then for a terrifying second afterward thought that he was going to hit her in response.
Instead, he grabbed his bag and left.
When dawn broke in the morning, Alice awoke with the realization that he hadn’t returned. She waited, staring at the clock until the motel staff chased her out to prepare the room for the next guest, and she drifted to a nearby diner to continue her wait, knowing full well that he wasn’t coming back for her.
She had a $20 hidden in her bra, so she ordered blueberry pancakes with whipped cream to help make up for skimping on dinner the night before, and she ate slowly as she wondered about what she was going to do. Her mom wasn’t going to want her back in the state she was in – especially after four years of estrangement – and everyone she knew was exactly like Damon. She didn’t have any resources, but she couldn’t live in the gutter with a baby growing inside of her.
By chance, the small TV in the corner of the diner showed a mugshot of her with the words, “Wanted for questioning.” Alice stared, seeing herself for the first time. That girl, glowering at the camera with flamingo pink hair and far too much eyeliner really looked like the sort of person who would be involved in murder, even though Alice had never felt that way on the inside – she didn’t want to hurt anyone.
She dialed the phone number provided on the screen with her cellphone, then put her $20 on the table before slipping outside.
With nowhere to go, Alice turned herself in.
Setting down the spatula, still laden with chocolate frosting, Elias calmly turned to face his death.
-The Black Magus, by Autumn Rain
Doctor Westley tended to the women of the prison with a small rotation of nurses, and while Alice knew full well that she wasn’t the only pregnant inmate, she was the only one who was personally accompanied to each appointment by the warden – and that made her stand out. He was amiable towards her, in that stiff sort of way that hinted at being unfamiliar with friendliness on the job. The only exposure Alice had to the female population of the prison was a long and miserable walk down the corridor of cells as Hackett escorted her from his office to the infirmary, for a physical examination to confirm the pregnancy that she had claimed on her admissions paperwork. By the time she had reached the end of the corridor, she was terrified at what she had gotten herself into. A few minutes later when Westley pricked her vein to collect blood, the sight of it squirting into a tube had sent her into a dead faint.
Alice had come to with Hackett holding an oxygen mask over her face, and a nurse placing pillows under her feet. That night, Hackett took her up to her room in the tower, apologized for the dust but assured her that the sheets were clean, then locked her inside. She never saw the other inmates or the prison cells again, for which she was grateful.
When she entered the infirmary for her appointment, Dr. Westley smiled at her. “Would you like to find out the baby’s sex today?” he asked.
Alice’s heart thumped. “Yes,” she answered quickly, her hands moving to cradle her stomach. “I want to know right away.”
“Go on with the nurse – you know the routine – then we’ll get set up to find out.” He patted her shoulder. “Don’t be nervous.”
Alice nodded then followed the nurse towards the bathroom. After they finished up with the routine prenatal tests, she returned to the main examination room to find Hackett and Dr. Westley laughing together, though her presence meant their conversation was over. She had seen enough to know that they were good friends behind the scenes, but around her they always maintained the professional distance of coworkers. In a strange way it made her feel left out, even though she had no business trying to be chummy with either of them.
“All right, lets get started, shall we?” Dr. Westley motioned for her to sit in the exam chair. “Don’t be so nervous; ultrasounds don’t hurt at all. We’re just going to take a quick peak inside to see how the baby is doing.”
“And find out the gender,” Alice said, forcing a smile. She didn’t know why her heart was pounding so hard, and she silently reminded herself that practically every pregnant woman found out beforehand, now that the technology existed. But she was scared that she would be disappointed with the revelation, and only have herself for consolation once she was locked in her room once again. Despite the trappings of comfort, she was still a prisoner who had confessed to murder.
Hackett came to stand beside her, and brushed her hand with his fingers. He was watching Dr. Westley, so Alice wondered if the touch had been accidental. She shifted away, but his fingers gently touched her again, and she realized that he was trying to reassure her while maintaining subtlety.
I wish that he was the real father, she thought, then felt her cheeks grow hot with the realization of what had crossed her mind. No, she corrected herself, she wished that the baby’s real father was there, instead of the warden.
Dr. Westley had dimmed the lights, so no one saw her blush. She winced when the doctor squirted cold jelly onto her stomach, then placed the wand against her skin. The screen came alive with movement and strange shapes, and it wasn’t until Dr. Westley stopped the picture that Alice realized she was looking at a leg and a foot.
“Oh my god,” she blurted. “Is that my baby?”
“Sure is,” Dr. Westley murmured in reply, staring at the screen as he began to shift the wand around again. “Looks good. Looks good,” he mused quietly to himself, then finally turned Alice and smiled. “The baby is developing normally, so let’s get to the important part.” He shifted the wand around to the top of Alice’s stomach, and she held her breath as she stared at the screen, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to interpret the image herself but still searching for any tell-tale signs. Her fingers weakly grabbed onto Hackett’s as Dr. Westley said, “Let’s see … the baby is a … girl.”
“A girl …” Alice repeated quietly. “I’m going to have a girl.” Then she broke into a grin as she looked up at Hackett and joked, “Hopefully she won’t turn out like me, huh?”
He moved away, pulling his hand out of hers. “You’re still turning out,” he answered, but Alice didn’t understand what he meant by it.
After she was cleaned up, she said goodbye to Westley and the nurse, then followed Hackett through the winding path back to her room. She knew that he was deliberately leading her through the hidden passages that had been utilized during the prison’s former days as a castle, and it amazed her that he never got lost. If she ever tried to escape, she wouldn’t make it out of that maze.
“Hey,” she said slowly after a minute. “If people really can climb the trees and peek in at me, I’d like to put up some curtains.”
“What color?” he asked.
“Pink, for my baby.” She smiled as she cradled her stomach in her arms. “You’ll fight for me, won’t you? My baby is all I have to live for, and I’ll do everything I can to be a good mother for her. I’ll get an honest job, and I won’t ever have sex again, I swear.”
Hackett laughed. “I’ll do what I can, but ultimately it will be up to you on whether or not you keep her. I can get you enrolled in the education program in the meantime, since that will certainly help you find your feet. You can’t stay here forever, you know, especially with a baby.”
“I know.” Alice couldn’t help but sigh. “I kind of wish I could though. You’re my only company, but I don’t feel as lonely as I used to. I used to always feel like I was … pretending.”
They were quiet for a time, as Alice tried to understand what was going through her heart. Thinking about Damon, and the life that she had shared with him, hurt her in a way that she hadn’t expected. She regretted it, and wished that she could undo every part of it.
“I read a new book,” Hackett said. “I thought that you would enjoy it too.”
“Oh!” Alice exclaimed, surprised by the break in silence. “Good! It’s been a week since the last one, and I missed talking about books with you.”
Hackett patted her shoulder as he smiled. “You have more free time than I do. You should be recommending new books to me.”
“I can’t leave my room to find them.” Alice grinned back at him. “Go ahead and do that education thingy too. It’s not too late for me to get a GED, right? It might help me stop being so stupid.”
“You aren’t stupid.”
“Sure I am.” Alice looked down at the floor. “You don’t know what I was like before I came here.”
“I know that you have good taste in literature,” Hackett replied. He stopped and turned to face her, putting his hand under her chin to look her in the eyes. “I know that underneath everything, you have a good heart.”
He kept walking then, stopping a few feet away to motion for Alice to hurry up and follow.
I’m a hopeless romantic, through and through.
This was perhaps a bit silly of me, but after “The Scion Suit” gained a smidgen of attention on Reddit, I wondered if I should downplay the romance aspect of The Black Magus to make it sound more appealing to the sort of people who would actually read it — after all, I don’t think that I’d gain much traction with Twilight fans. But, I decided that would be rather disingenuous, considering that it’s right there in the very first chapter.
So there you have it: The Black Magus is the ultimate Mary-Sue fanfic, where the main character is a shy nobody who through sheer coincidence gains the attention of the most powerful magus on the planet. He competes against another magus to win her affection in a saucy love triangle, and ultimately pulls ahead by gifting her the most expensive car ever built. The girl, on the other hand, maintains an emotional affair with the other guy, just to prove how strong and independent she is after she’s married …
I’m totally not awesome enough to write that.
It’s not the sort of crap that’s always portrayed in popular romance novels. It’s also not the sort of “singles together” crap that we’re told to settle for because “romance doesn’t exist”. You won’t find any Taylor Swift songs that fit it.
It’s about devotion and compassion. It’s about two people joining together to become a family, and learning how to be there for each other. It’s about real love.
There’s also some stuff about magic and the world they live in, and a few other characters who have some dialogue and whatnot. You know, that necessary story-type stuff, to flesh it out into an actual novel and set up the sequel.
So, I have decided against downplaying the romance aspect of The Black Magus, because it is the entire foundation and structure of the novel. Please, don’t dismiss it because of a few bad stereotypes — I assure you that this story is different.
I spent over a year working on the first draft for this novel, and these are the only notes I made on the two main characters.
I confess, I’m terrible with notes, so I often find it easier and more organized to keep all of the information in my head. I don’t create character charts, or worksheets, or blah blah blah, because I make a point of locking everything in my mind.
Which is probably one of the reasons why I don’t fit in with writing communities.
Besides. Most of the time, I just listen to what they have to say anyway.
So, here we are: introducing the two main characters from The Black Magus, my upcoming fantasy romance novel.
Are you as excited as I am?