Survive My Fire is Back!

I didn’t quite make my end of March deadline but I came very close.  I worked my way through Survive My Fire – the first book I ever contracted – and brought it up to my current writing level, formatted, and uploaded to Amazon and Smashwords.  It’ll filter through to other distribution sites shortly.  The Fire Within is returning by the end of the month, too!

I so love the cover that Silviya created for Chanda!

D&R Reviews Survive My Fire

I’ve known Tia online for years but never queried her to review any of my work for two reasons:  she doesn’t do e-books and she doesn’t typically review sexier books.  However, she picked up a copy of Survive My Fire while Drollerie Press was running a free download, and gave it a shot reading on her iPod. 

I’m doubly honored that she chose SMF as an e-book introduction and also reviewed my debut on her excellent Debuts & Reviews site.

The voice is what captured me in this story, and what held me throughout. It is otherworldly, surreal and utterly engaging.

Thank you so much, Tia!

Survive My Fire Review

Soleil has given a terrific review of Survive My Fire!

For such a short read it was jam packed.  Romance (Read: Warm Fuzzies and Hot sex). Fantasy (Read: Magic, Suspence, And Dragons, oh my!). Hell I even got a nice juicy battle to chew on, and I looove battle scenes. Two thumbs way way up!

You can read her whole commentary here.  Thank you, Soleil!  I’m thrilled you’re enjoying your gift certificate from the Character Clinic!

Survive My Fire Excerpt

Available at Drollerie Press.

A foreign scent intruded while I slept. A warrior. Miles away and on foot, he wouldn’t reach my lair until dusk. Sweat and musk, muscle and pride. Oh, how tasty, how divine a feast.

My dreams became torment in the roasting heat of afternoon. Memories returned from centuries ago, of my life before the curse. Rage crawled in the dark secret fissures of my heart, a fire stoked hour by hour. Trapped in this prison of wing, scale, and claw, I hated the approaching warrior. His phantom blood burned on my tongue.

I would tear him limb from limb. Shred his skin and lick his spicy blood from the unforgiving sands. Crack bone to feast on his marrow. I would dine on his fear, shred his dreams and char his most secret hopes.

As soon as the sun touched the horizon and shadows stretched across the red sands, I crept from my lair.

Hundreds of warriors over the years have braved my domain. They came with sword and magic, bows and shields, hearts bursting with courage, hope, rage, envy, even lust.

They came, and they died.

I killed them all.

This one would be no different.

Ah, but he was a cocky son of a bitch. He stood in plain view on the highest point of my barrens. His back to me, he stared out over the empty Well of Tears. The Well I had not been able to fill despite an eternity of suffering.

The dying sun blazed behind me, outlining his warrior’s body, the proud tilt of his head, and then the chiseled lines of his face as he turned. Dark eyes, shadowed, hollowed with misery. Keldar was a hard land, a hard life, even for a warrior.

A curved scimitar gleamed in the growing shadows, ready in his hand but not offensive. Not threatening, not yet. The black taamid flapped about his shoulders like wings, loose and flowing to the ground. Leather knife straps crossed his chest, and a coiled whip hung on his hip. I could smell the sweet herbed oil used to keep the dragon hide supple.

No fear flickered in his steady gaze. No emotion showed on his stone face. He stared at me, waiting. For what?

Casually, I flicked a wing at him. He ducked, tucked into a smooth roll to the side, and flipped back to his feet. Impressive. Instead of trying to knock him down, I flipped around and grabbed him with my tail as thick as his body. Squeezing scaled muscle around his chest, I locked him in bands of living iron he couldn’t possibly break.

Crush him. I would crush his bones, blood spray–

Pain.

The curved blade slid into my flesh, just enough to anger me. I slung him to the ground so hard I heard his ribs creak. But no grunt of pain. Not from him.

The scent of blood–even my own–brought my hunger roaring to life. I breathed deeply and threw my head back. Flames blazed to the heavens. The ground rumbled and cringed beneath my claws. I heard horses miles away scream in terror and I knew people quaked in their flimsy hide tents and whispered prayers to deaf and uncaring Gods.

The warrior before me licked my blood from his blade.

He dared to taste my blood. A shiver crawled down my spine. This was no ordinary warrior. Already, I felt a gnat’s brush against my mind through the fragile blood bond he attempted to weave.

I dared say mine was a bitter and noxious brew compared to the sweet wealth of his blood that would soon roll in my belly. With my hunger fully awakened, I ignored my unease. I flapped my wings and scrambled at him.

He dodged aside with a roll and then leapt, kicking sand in my eyes. A child’s trick. I didn’t have to see him. I smelled him. Burnt cinnamon, roasted sage, sweat, warrior.

I would eat him alive.

He led me on a merry chase, and I found myself strangely reluctant to end the game. He smelled so good, fought with such tenacity. I felt something other than rage. Or hatred. A strange joy burned in my dragon heart.

Enough. I seized him delicately in my front claws, pinning him flat on his back against the red sands. Panting, he stared up at me. No fear, still, and he even gave me the barest hint of a smile, if the faint wrinkle around his eyes was any indication.

“I’m Jalan tal‘Krait.”

I cocked my head, trying to remember what words meant. Tal, chief, of the tribe called Krait.

“I’m the last Krait dra’gwar.”

I blew hard, shaking my head. I had no understanding of the last word. Warrior class, I guessed. The last? The Kraits were once a mighty clan even in my day, second only to the Mambas. Oh, how the years eroded everything. Even the unshakeable rock crumbled before the winds of time.

Lowering my spined muzzle, I sniffed at his neck. Peeling my lips back, I snagged his clothing in my teeth and tugged it aside to reveal darkly bronzed skin. Black hair spilled like blood against the rock.

I tasted him, just a lick, a graze of teeth. He shuddered in my grasp. My claws broke his skin despite my care.

Blood. Oh so sweet, so rich. I licked the fine red trails from his skin. The only element missing was fear. A few high-pitched screams to flavor my meat.

So I gripped harder, shaking him. No sound, no cry of pain, no harsh intake of breath. Curious, I raised my head.

He searched the sky behind me, and at last a small smile curved his lips. Night fell around us while I played with my food. So why was it so bright?

Why did my scales twitch and dance along my back? Why did my wings tremble, white feathers and scales raining about us? Agony wracked my body, twisting and crunching my bones, reshaping my body. I roared with fury, but flames died in my mouth. Ash filled my lungs.

Straddling my prey, I jerked around. A full moon hung low in the sky, enormous gleaming silver. Melting my shining white scales to skin. My wings to limbs. My powerful body to this slim, fragile gossamer of blood and skin.

Human.

How had he known?

Keldar

Cursed by a Trinity of dragon gods, Keldar is a land of poisoned sands and endless drought. Rain ceased to fall over a thousand years ago, and rivers and lakes are nothing but a memory. Keldar is a hard land, a hard life; a land of suffering, bloodshed, and death; a land of dragons.

Dictionary

azharana: bright eyes

azi: supreme tal of all tribes, to be declared only when Agni Comes (the end of the world).

baka:  fool, idiot

bhakti:  surrender, yield

devalki: a terrible sin committed long ago for which the Keldari are still punished.

dra’gwar: dragon warrior. Literally, a Keldari carrying dragon blood, directly descended from the gods, who is cursed to shapeshift into a dragon.

dyali: mine, possession

ishtay: shhh, be quiet, be at ease

iyeh: yes

la: no

munakura: a female foreigner, not of Keldar; munakur, masculine; munakuri, plural

pista:  a foul rodent, edible if one is desperate enough.

rashida: wise woman

rav: master of horse for the tribe, typically the tal’s second. This rank is inherited, father to son.

saif: enforcer of the tribe. Does the “dirty deeds” for the tal.

sepah: a collection of tents, typically a family unit. A tribe is made up of many sepahs, who may or may not camp together.

Shaddad: priest. Shaddad’Yama, a priest of Yama.

taamid: long flowing cloth worn as headdress and cloak to protect the skin from desert sun.

tal: chief of the tribe. This rank is won through battle.

tellan: neverending hope that one day their devalki may be met and the curse lifted from their people.

wadis: a ravine in the desert floor. According to legend, such ravines were once rivers. Plural: wadi

za’hira: lovely one

Mythology

Agni, He Who Burns: The Red Dragon associated with the sun and fire. He blasts the land of Keldar with endless heat to purify the tribes for their devalki. When He Comes again, the world will Burn and only a remnant of the Keldari will be saved.

Somma, She Who Hung the Moon: The White Dragon associated with the moon and water. She dried the rivers and lakes of Keldar to harden Her children and drive them to repentance.

Yama, He Who Breathes Despair: The Black Dragon associated with darkness and shadow. He poisons the sands and His Despair destroys Keldar from within.

The Tribes

My brother is my enemy unless my cousin threatens. The tribes are my tribe’s enemy, unless one not Keldari threatens. The individual tribes of Keldar are named after desert serpents–Kraits, Mambas, Cobras, Asps–until a new tribe, Tellan, is founded. A tribe as different from the others as night from day, Tellan is a tribe not of blood and family, but of honor, peace, and love. However, as the Last Days approach, turmoil among the tribes increases and bloodshed is worse than ever. In fact, no one descended from the White Dragon’s holy blood is safe from sacrifice.

Map

Keldar is one of three major cultures in the Blood and Shadows world. I’m no cartographer, but here’s a rough hand-drawn map showing the relationship of Keldar, the Green Lands, and the Plains of the Sha’Kae al’Dan.

Blood and Shadows Timeline

As much as possible, each story is independent of the others unless clearly stated otherwise (like the Shanhasson trilogy). The Keldari novellas do not have to be read in any certain order, but subtle references between them do exist. This document lists the explicit timeline of the world as a whole for the purist who wants to read in exactly the right order.

Title Historical Significance Setting
Survive My Fire Chanda and Jalan form tribe Tellan Keldar
The Horse Master Origination of the Shadowed blood line in Shanhasson Keldari rav’Tellan visits Shanhasson
The Fire Within Agni Comes to Keldar and issues a dread commission Shanhasson visits Keldar
Touch the Sky First Death Rider is Called by Vulkar Sha’Kae al’Dan Plains
Given In Fire A kidnapped Prince is saved by a Keldari woman Keldar and Shanhasson
The Shadowed Blood Gregar must choose between Death Rider and Blood Sha’Kae al’Dan Plains
The Rose of Shanhasson Destined High Queen finds Our Blessed Lady’s greatest gift of all Green Lands visits the Plains
The Road to Shanhasson Shannari claims the High Throne Sha’Kae al’Dan to Shanhasson
Return to Shanhasson Shannari fights to keep the High Throne Primarily Shanhasson with Keldari vistors and a trip to the Plains