So this book I’m writing, the one I dream about? I want it to be everything.
I want it to be the book everyone wants to read, the one they talk about, lust after, can’t wait to hold in their hands. I want people to reach the end and sigh, that little Oh… that means they felt something, they’ll remember this story and these characters. I want this book to be THAT book.
In their honest, middle of the night moments, that’s what every author wants for their book. Otherwise, says I, why write this book, or any book, at all? Long term, cool and collected professionals never admit to any of this, but I am always undone by honesty.
No one should doubt this is a fantasy novel when they read it. No slipping into the cracks between genres this time, no pretension to literary grandeur or confusion about what this book is. All my stories are love stories, even the ones full of magic and alchemy, but anyone who’s been around here more than a nano second knows that.
I always share pieces of a WIP. I haven’t shared any of this one, mostly from lack of time and lack of blogging. A few rough, raw, and subject to revision darlings below.
She was already asleep when he came out of the washroom, curled around a pillow she’d hugged to her chest and fresh tears drying to salt on her cheeks. He’d no doubt those hours of not knowing if he was alive or dead were responsible for some of those tears. Owen stood at the side of the bed, watching her, before slipping under the covers.
He’d take away all her hard days if he could, but that wasn’t possible. All he could do is try not to add to their number.
Jared stood watch outside while Rosalind recited cantrips older than the city of Scio, trusting the magic would work even if she stumbled over words. The protection spells were keyed to her family, her blood, and only a family member could activate or take them down again. She felt the watchers stir and stretch, and their awareness begin to fill the palace. Rosalind thought of herself as a scientist, but she couldn’t dismiss the itching feel of magic opening eyes in every leaf, every pebble on the garden path, and every stone in the palace walls.
Ros had stayed in the room after the watchers awakened, struggling with an unexpected surge of grief and loneliness. Over the years she’d grown accustomed to missing her parents, and the distant ache that never truly left. Her brother Jakob’s death was still an obsidian knife, slicing bits of her away each time she thought of him. All the years she’d used alchemy to keep from conceiving Owen’s child — a child her husband Roland would have gleefully, maliciously, claimed as his own — now loomed as a huge mistake. She was the last of her bloodline. No matter how brave the face she showed the world, or how strong she was, Ros couldn’t deny the truth. If something happened to Owen, she’d be utterly alone.
Ophelia chose that moment to hoot softly and tip her head to one side, begging for another treat. Tomas fed her, his expression stubborn and determined. “When I’m king I’ll have all the owls I want. No one tells Papa what to do.”
“Kings do have more freedom, Tomas. But they also have a great responsibility.” Rosalind put Ophelia back on top of the wooden perch next to her chair, but kept a tight hold on her tether. She didn’t want the owl to swoop at Tomas searching for more treats, and frighten him. “Ember and Ophelia are very good at keeping the older sections of the palace free of mice. But do you know why owls are such successful hunters?”
Curiosity brimmed in Tomas’ eyes. He shook his head. “No, why?”
“The shape of their wing feathers. A mouse never knows Ophelia or Ember is anywhere near until it’s too late.” Ophelia was well used to being handled. The little owl swiveled her heard to watch as Ros extended her wing and gently ran a finger along the edge, but didn’t try to pull away. “These feathers break up air currents in a way that allows an owl to fly silently. I want to learn how that works and try to find ways to shape airships so they fly just as silently. That’s a much more important reason for me to have owls than Ember catching a few mice.”
Tomas studied Ophelia’s wing and frowned. “Because you’re the queen.”
“Yes, because I’m the queen, and because I’m a scientist. Discovering ways to make our airships better is one of my great responsibilities.” Ros smiled and released the owl’s wing. Ophelia immediately began preening and arranging her feathers. “But watching Ember and Ophelia fly is a lot of fun too. I let them loose in the King’s Ballroom every afternoon. As long as your mother says it’s all right, you can come with me tomorrow. Would you like that?”