The cover for “Gods” has been finalized!

GodsFSHere is the cover for my new YA fantasy novel, Gods, designed by the fabulous cover artist, Paul Richmond!  (Paul designed the first two in the trilogy, as well.)  This is the third and final installment in the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy.

One of the things that jumps out immediately, if you’ve seen the first two covers in the series, is how misty and blue it looks, compared to the others.  That’s because the valley of Harleh, in which much of the story takes place, is enveloped in a mysterious bluish cloud cover.

The novel is scheduled for release on October 17th!  I also have a chat scheduled for that day.  I’ll post about that again when it rolls around.

Trying to Finish Book Two of “Dreams of Fire and Gods” (and an excerpt from Book One!)

So this is my first official writing deadline, since I became a published author.  I promised my publisher that I would have Book Two of my Dreams of Fire and Gods YA fantasy trilogy done in two months.  It’s coming along, and I haven’t run into any serious stumbling blocks (having an outline really helps!), but it’s not going as quickly as I’d hoped.

The day I stayed home sick with a migraine this week was my most productive day, yet.  (And yes, I really did have a migraine.)  I think it’s becoming clear that I can write at a good pace, as long as I have the time.  But of course, all writers with day jobs lament the lack of time they have to write.

But it just occurred to me that I haven’t posted any excerpts from the first novel yet, so just to whet everyone’s appetite (I hope), here’s a short scene from Dreams of Fire and Gods:  Awakening, which I believe is going to be released some time in December.

In this scene, our two young heroes — Sael, who is the son of a nobleman, and Koreh, a peasant — have to pretend to be married in order to get a private room in a tavern, rather than sleep in the common room.  They are with Geilin, the sorcerer to whom Sael is apprenticed.  There are two words in this scene from the language they speak in the kingdom:  nimen, which can mean a spouse of any gender, and ömem, which refers to a special type of seeress (and a healer, in the context of the scene).

Married!  Sael realized, of course, that Koreh had just said that so they could have a bed to sleep in, in a private room, and for that he was grateful.  But now he couldn’t get images of him and Koreh sharing the bed – as nimen – out of his mind.

Not that Sael really had any idea what that was like.  Some of the girls back in the capital had flirted with him on occasion, but he’d never had any interest in pursuing anything with them.  No doubt Koreh had plenty of experience.  And Sael also had no doubt that Koreh reveled in coming up with ways to embarrass him.

Will he try to…do something?

Sael’s stomach was in knots, just thinking about it.

The innkeeper had noticed that Koreh was injured, which wasn’t much of a feat — the entire right side of Koreh’s tunic and breeches, from his stomach to his knee, was soaked with blood.  He knew of no ömem who would take kindly to being dragged out of bed, at this hour of the morning.

“Me wife, though,” the balding, grizzled man told them, “ain’t so bad wi’ a bandage.  She kin fix ya up – leastwise ’til mornin’.”

The man’s dialect baffled Sael, but Koreh and Geilin seemed to understand him.  His wife came out of the kitchen, when he called for her.  She then clucked over Koreh’s wound for a few moments, before dragging him out to the kitchen, where she could clean it properly.

Koreh returned with the bloody tunic in one hand and a fresh linen wrapping about his middle.

“Goodwife,” Geilin said with a bow, “We are indebted to you.”

The woman smiled warmly and replied, “No’ at all.  But I hope ye know better than t’ go near them ruins, now – ‘specially at night.”

Geilin raised his eyebrow at this, no doubt wondering just what Koreh had told her.  But he smiled and replied, “I think we’ve learned our lesson.”

The woman led the three companions upstairs to a small room with two beds, and left them, after lighting the tallow candle on the nightstand.

The beds were small, but large enough to accommodate both young men in one, and the blankets looked fairly clean.  The single nightstand between the beds had a chamber pot under it, which Sael desperately hoped nobody would use in front of him.

His anxiety at sharing a bed shot up sharply when Koreh shucked his breeches, tossing them onto the floor with his tunic.  Since he had no undertunic, that left him stark naked, yet again.

“You aren’t sleeping with me like that!” Sael practically shrieked.

Koreh had been about to crawl under the blanket, the night air being a bit on the brisk side.  He stopped and glanced over at Sael.  “Why not?”

“Don’t you have any modesty, at all?”

“No,” Koreh replied, sounding irritated, “And I have no intention of sleeping in those blood-soaked breeches.  They’re sticky and they’re already getting stiff.”

Sael turned to Geilin with a pleading expression, but the old wizard merely shrugged.  “He does have a point.  I suppose you could loan him your undertunic, if his nudity makes you uncomfortable.”

“But then I’d be naked!”

“Well, yes,” Geilin agreed.  “I suppose it’s a matter of which makes you more uncomfortable:  Koreh being naked, or you being naked.”

Sael wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that.

“I suppose,” Geilin went on, “that I could loan him my undertunic.”

The thought of seeing Geilin naked was even more disturbing to Sael than either of the other possibilities, so he grudgingly replied, “Nevermind.  He’s been running around naked half the time, anyway….”

Koreh slipped under the blanket and gave Sael a cocky grin.  “Come to bed, nimen,” he said, patting the mattress beside him.  “Help me warm up.”

“Drop dead.”

Geilin stripped down to his undertunic and lifted the covers on his bed.  “Sael, it’s very late.  And we’re all very tired.  Get into bed, please, so I can blow the candle out.”

Sael removed his outer tunic and breeches, glad that his linen undertunic went down to his knees.

“He’s probably going to grope me, while I’m sleeping,” he muttered, as he climbed into the bed.  Koreh shook his head and sighed, then rolled away from him.

Geilin said, sleepily, “Koreh, keep your hands to yourself.”

Then he blew out the candle.

The room wasn’t completely dark.  The rippled glass panes of the solitary window let in a pale gray light from the Eye of Druma outside.

The bed was already warming up from Koreh’s body and Sael had to admit it felt good.  He was exhausted.  But just as he settled in, Koreh said quietly, “What?  No goodnight kiss?”

Sael groaned.

The Cover Art For Seidman!

The cover art for Seidman has just been released and it’s beautiful! The artist is Anne Cain and she’s managed to create a striking image that’s simple, memorable, and intense.  There have, of course, been other books about Vikings with Thor’s hammers on the cover, but Anne created a richly layered image with runes fading in and out and a beautiful use of light and shadow.  It really blows me away.

This weekend marks the end of editing.  I’ve received the galley proof, which is a PDF copy of the entire novel, including all of the forewords and afterwards and dedications, and even some ads for other Harmony Ink releases at the end.  The only thing that isn’t in final format is this cover, which didn’t arrive in my inbox until a couple hours ago, and a map I created of Viking Age Scandinavia.

The map was something I’d been working on for a while, but since it wasn’t done when the editors wanted it, I gave up and figured I’d just have to settle for putting it up on my blog.  Fortunately, the editors contacted me and asked me if I still planned on having a map, so I was able to polish it up and send it to them this weekend.  They say it looks all right, so it will be included!

NOTE:  You may have noticed that I’m now calling it Seidman, instead of Seiðman.  This was a decision my publisher and I came to recently (I was actually the one who suggested it), because it just didn’t make sense to call the novel something people couldn’t type without having to look up an extended ASCII code.  How would anybody know what to search for on Amazon?  Inside the novel, we’ve kept the Old Icelandic words as they were, but the title is now easier to remember and spell.

As far as I know, Seidman is on track to be released in mid-June!  This is going to be great!