There will be some very exciting posts to come out in the next few weeks; all centered around my next series. I’ll have a cover reveal soon, and maybe even a book trailer. For now, I’ll have to tease you with the title and blurb:
The Rising Book One of the Painted Maidens Trilogy
Sixteen-year-old Serena is the youngest member of a dying race. Increasing acidity in the ocean is destroying their environment, but there are other threats to her species. During the full moon, when the mermaids of the Undine Kingdom surface onto The Dry to breed, werewolves chase them off. The key to the survival of the Undine race lies with Serena, who has just been given the title of Werewolf Liaison. Serena believes it may be a punishment for her secret excursions to The Dry, but then the king himself brings her to trial for meddling, and for risking the exposure of her entire species. The penalty, should she be found guilty, is death. If the changing environment or the pack of werewolves doesn’t kill her, her own king certainly will.
It seems not too long ago I was just beginning the writing process on this book (May 8 to be exact – I went through my old posts), and now the novel is becoming a reality. The book is with my editor now. Then it goes out to beta readers. Barring any major setbacks, the tentative release date is September 19th, 2013. If you missed previous posts, click here for the first chapter and here for world-building with mermaids.
Stay tuned for the cover reveal – you aren’t going to want to miss this one!
Yesterday, I hit the 30,000 word mark with my first mermaid book. WOO-HOO!!! The average length of my books is 80,000, though I shoot for 90,000 words to allow for cuts during the editing process. This means I am about 1/3 of the way there. WOO-HOO!!!
My goal is to finish writing by the end of July. Then it goes out to my editors and beta-readers (speaking of, my list of beta-readers is growing, but if you are interested, see my post here). Final release date (crossing fingers until they turn white) is September 2013.
So, at the 30,000 mark, I’m done setting up most of my undersea world, introduced in bits and pieces throughout so it doesn’t come off as one big info-dump. I have to admit, this is the slowest I’ve ever written a book because I have to stop every few sentences to research something. Seriously – by the time I’m done with the series, I might just have to apply my research toward a Marine Biologist degree! I’ve even emailed a professor at Stanford specializing in ocean acidification with questions Google can’t answer, and I get a quick response! Note to self: include him in my acknowledgments.
World building is a difficult thing, and so you may ask, what does my mermaid world like? Below are some answers (just some – can’t give away all my hard work, yet), followed by a short excerpt. Let me know what you think!
What do mermaids call themselves, their kingdom, humans, the earth above, etc.? In my story, they call themselves ‘undine’ which means ‘water fairy’. Humans are ‘ungainly’ (meaning clumsy or awkward), and the human world above seas is called ‘The Dry’ (this one seems a little cheesy, so I may change it – feel free to offer ideas). The undine community is ‘Society’.
How is the ruling party structured? There is a king advised by his second-in-command and his council. The council is selected by the king himself and consists of the most powerful members of Society (head of the guard, head caste or ‘school’ master, etc.). All male undine join the king’s guard, simply because there are so few males left. There are about a dozen of them compared to maybe 300 females.
What is their schooling like? All undine attend school until they are 16 years of age. Each year is a different ‘caste’ (thus, caste master (school teacher), caste mates, etc.) At graduation, they enter The Choosing. They select three potential jobs they would like to spend the rest of their life doing, then during a ceremony are told what they are given. Most (and that is the key word – MOST) are given one of their three choices.
What do they eat? I just got done writing this part, and learned some very interesting facts myself! I found a very interesting article to help. Basically, the sea is an especially potent source of minerals. Whereas terrestrial vegetables are limited to what they can obtain from the soil, sea vegetables spend their entire lives luxuriating in the world’s largest, oldest, most complete mineral bath. They soak it up and are among the richest sources of iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, manganese, and all other (56 of ‘em in total) minerals essential to the human body.
Basically, undine eat the dozens upon dozens of edible seaweed, plus fish and crustaceans. Our main character is a vegetarian, though. 😉
Where do they live? The setting is in the waters of British Columbia, the northern pacific ocean. Browning Pass, to be specific, between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The undine live in underwater caverns, some which become flooded during high tide, and empty during low tide. For the most part, undine are protected from curious humans by dangerously quick currents running through the pass.
How do they have sex and give birth? Like fish or mammals? (I promise, this is a YA book – but this question is always on the tip of my tongue when I think about mermaids.) The undine in my series transform into their human forms to mate and give birth. Although they can transform at will (and it is painful for them), they only consummate and give birth during the full moon.
Where do the werewolves come in? Here is the exciting part! A while back, werewolves were actually created by undine to protect them on land while they mate and give birth – which is why werewolves only change during the full moon.
What is the conflict? Werewolves viewed their status almost as ‘slaves’ to the undine, so they revolted. It was a one-night blood bath, during the full moon, when several undine were giving birth, including the queen herself. The queen, the newborn prince, and several others were killed. In fact, the only one to come out alive was our main character, Serena. She grew up as an orphan, and because of the werewolf uprising, is one of the last undine to be born. The species as a whole is on the decline because of 1) ocean acidification and 2) they are unable to procreate.
So there is the start of my world! It isn’t everything, and though I may reveal more later, you’ll just have to read the book to get all of it. Below is a short excerpt, you can read the first chapter here (after the call for beta readers).
When Serena reaches the surface, bobbing between Vancouver Island and the mainland, the sun is already sinking into the ocean. Already, she can spot the outline of the moon behind her. It is waning, and though it may look the part of a full moon there will be no werewolves tonight.
Normally, she can swim in the shadows cast by seagulls skimming the waves for their dinner, moving in closer to shore undetected. This evening the skies are as deserted as is the thin strip of beach. A light rain begins to fall and thunder cracks in the distance.
Serena disappears below the water, resurfacing down the stream. Her eyes scan the shoreline for signs of life; ungainly or otherwise. Werewolves aren’t the only animal to inhabit these forests. Grizzly bears, coyotes, and the most concentrated population of cougars in North America all patrol the borders where Serena’s world ends.
She appears further up the coast. The rain is falling harder now, and lightning flashes in the distance as though the sky goddess herself is giving her the all clear.
One powerful push and Serena is caught up in the breakers. She swims just below the whitecaps, a mirror image of a surfer gliding on a wave. One of her fins slice up, catching a taste of briny air.
All too soon, the earth below angles up to meet the sky above, and the ocean disappears in a squeeze between them. Serena’s smile grows wider, as it always does when she flirts with the edge of the world.
She somersaults with the dying wave, fins brushing sand, air, sand, air. On the next flip, a cold wind scrapes against the bottom of her feet, freshly formed, still raw from scales retracting in. Tucking her legs for one more roll, she straightens them to stand. She sinks into wet sand as the remnants of a once powerful wave lick at her ankles; a desperate attempt to call her back into its clutches.
Serena moves forward, toward the moon. It is another force, almost as powerful as the ocean, calling to the undine maiden.
Just kidding, there is no application. But I do need beta readers! I’m almost 1/3 of the way into the first book of my next series, and I’m looking for volunteers to read an advanced copy (e-book only). I’d love to have a group of readers to provide comments on grammar, spelling, format and accuracy of text, and another group to provide comments on actual content, dialogue, plot, etc. My plan is to have it ready for you in August or September; but there will be a working deadline of about 3 weeks. If you are interested, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com, and I’ll put you on the list. When the manuscript is ready, I’ll send out e-mails double checking your availability. Unfortunately, there won’t be any monetary compensation, but I’ll of course send you a final e-book in the format of your choice, and if you run a blog I can sponsor an e-book giveaway.
The series is a young adult eco-fantasy. Here is the first chapter, just to give you a taste (posted before, but have since made a few changes):
Serena turns the corner of the thin, rocky path. Her shoes slide along the pebbles, almost sending her head first into the trees. “Damn things!”
She looks behind her. There is time; the beast isn’t yet in her sight. She slows down enough to slip off the shoes. The beast takes the corner too fast as well. When Serena hears the skidding, she turns and throws one of her shoes. A miss. The beast scrambles to get his legs under him and lunges for her. She throws the other shoe, nailing him in the nose. Serena laughs out loud, then resumes her steady running pace.
“I thought werewolves were faster than this!” she yells over her shoulder.
She doesn’t know if he can understand speech in his animal form, but he is angry. His growls tell her so. Her legs brush past the sharp, thick shrubbery outlining the path. Shallow cuts crisscross over her otherwise smooth, white skin.
Next to come off is her shirt. She throws it behind her, only stopping to watch the beast tear madly at his own face, where the shirt lands. unclasps the button on her skirt, but has to throw it backwards over her head as she runs. The beast is on the move again. He dodges the clothing, finally learning what to expect.
Serena breaks through the tree line at her fastest pace yet, feet sinking into soft sand and slowing her down. The wolf is close; she can smell his foul breath. The thing snaps at her, almost reaching the tresses of her black, curly hair. Werewolf spit flings forward onto her shoulder. “Gross!”
The beast is faster on the sand. Serena does not expect that. The greedy thing doesn’t even wait until he has a sure kill. He swipes at her when the long reach of his paw is close enough. The gash causes Serena to falter, and she stumbles in the sand. Trying to avoid the yellow razor-like gnashing teeth, Serena rolls. The beast rolls with her, unwilling to let go of his prey. In the split second he is on top, Serena pushes up and out with her powerful legs. The werewolf yelps as he spins, head over tail, into the water.
Rough waves topple over the beast as he struggles to get on his feet. The ocean pushes and pulls, becoming stronger and stronger, as if it is working against the werewolf. Serena laughs again, delighted to see the mighty creature out of his element, and into hers. He drags himself out of the water, weighed down by his thick, matted fur and gasping for breath. Serena passes him, keeping a wary eye out. Welcoming waves reach out to her, drawing her into their frothy grip.
Once he is ankle deep, the werewolf shakes his fur, ridding himself of the salty sea water. He looks out into the ocean, and spots his prey bobbing up and down with the waves, well beyond his reach. He turns his head toward the full moon and howls.
It is an ear-piercing noise that makes Serena cringe. She flicks her freshly formed fins, spraying water onto the hound. His howl ends with a sharp yelp.
Serena turns, flinging her body up then down again, diving into the cold, dark water.
* * *
Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!
After publishing, ‘Earth’, the final book in The Akasha Series, I’ve had some great success with sales! Though I promised myself a short break, the sales are motivating me to begin my next series. MERMAIDS AND WEREWOLVES Y’ALL!!! I’m already several chapters in, and hope to have the first book published in/around September this year. Until then, it will be my job to get you all excited about what goes on in the deep. More importantly, I want you passionate about the health of our planet’s oceans. I’ve done a lot of research, and so far this video best portrays the dire situation. It is a documentary narrated by Sigourney Weaver, originally aired on Discovery Planet Green. Please take the time to watch this video (it’s 20 minutes – if you don’t have time now, bookmark it to watch later):
On a lighter note, if you aren’t already an email follower of my blog – sign up now! Over the next few months, I’ll be posting snippets of my new series as I write it. I have to know what you guys think!
I’m taking a break this week from the Akasha Series characters, and delving into something that has been in my head for a while. I have to get it out for sanity’s sake. This is a possible first chapter for a new series I will undertake after completing the Akasha Series. Let me know what you think!
Serena turned the corner of the thin, rocky path. Her shoes slid along the pebbles almost sending her head first into the trees. “Damn things! Why would humans wear these?”
She looked behind her. There was time, the beast wasn’t yet in her sight. She quickly slipped the shoes off, and began running again. The beast took the corner too fast as well. As soon as she heard skidding, she turned and threw one of her shoes. Miss. The beast scrambled to get his legs under him and lunged for her. She threw the other shoe. Nailed him in the nose. Serena laughed out loud, and resumed her steady running pace. “I thought werewolves were faster than this!”
She had no idea if he could understand speech in his animal form, but he was no doubt enraged. His growls told her so. The noise scared off any other animals close by, plunging the forest into silence. Besides the beast, the repetitive waves in the distant ocean was the only other sound.
Her legs brushed past the sharp, thick shrubbery outlining the path. Shallow cuts crisscrossed over her otherwise smooth, white skin. She looked down at the trickles of blood. Good, she thought, at least I’ll get a few battle scars out of it.
Next to come off was her shirt. She threw it behind her, only stopping to watch the beast tear madly at his own face, where the shirt landed. She quickly stepped out of her jeans, but had to throw them backwards over her head as she ran. The beast was on the move again. He dodged the pair of pants, finally learning what to expect. Stupid mutt.
She breathed in deeply, putting her lungs to work, and smiled. Never had she felt so free, so reckless as tonight. Pursued by werewolf in unknown territory in nothing but her own skin. How was she going to top this adventure?
No matter. She would find a way. Serena always did. She broke the tree line at her fastest pace yet, soft sand greeting her feet and slowing her down. The wolf was close, she could smell his foul breath. The thing snapped at her, almost reaching the tresses of her long, curly, brown and gold hair. Some of the werewolves’ spit flung forward onto her shoulder. “Ew!”
The beast was faster on the sand. Serena did not expect that. The greedy thing didn’t even wait until he had a sure kill. He swiped at her as soon as the long reach of his paw was close enough. The gash caused Serena to falter, and she stumbled in the sand. Taking care to avoid the yellow razor-like gnashing teeth, Serena rolled. The beast rolled with her, unwilling to let go of his prey. In the split second he was on top, Serena pushed up and out with her powerful legs. The werewolf yelped as he spun, head over tail, into the waves.
Rough waves toppled over the beast as he struggled to get on his feet. The water pushed and pulled, becoming stronger and stronger, as if it were working against the werewolf. Sabrina laughed again, delighted to see the mighty creature out of his element. He dragged himself out of the water, weighed down by his thick, matted fur and gasping for breath. Sabrina walked by, keeping a wary eye on him. Welcoming waves reached out to her, drawing her into their frothy grip.
Having recovered, the werewolf shook his fur, ridding himself of the salty sea water. He looked out into the ocean, and spotted his prey bobbing up and down with the waves, well beyond his reach. He turned his head toward the moon and howled in mourning.
It was an ear-piercing noise. Serena couldn’t understand why the lot of them hadn’t been put down centuries ago. She flicked her freshly formed fins, spraying water onto the hound, effectively cutting off his pathetic cry.
She smiled, but was already longing for more adventure. Serena said goodbye to the world and turned, flinging her body up then down again, diving into the cold, dark water. Gills took over for her lungs as she dove deeper and deeper, returning to familiarity and routine, to her home…to her prison.
So there you have it – I am sane once again. Comments always welcome!