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Daughter of Darkness: A Work in Progress

Hi all,

I thought by now that I would be releasing Book III in the Darkness in the Midst series, however, plans don't always work out. I haven't had much time to write. Something inevitably comes up or I just plain don't feel like writing. The struggle is real, people.

The good news is that 80-85% of the book is written. And the other 15-20% is written in my head, so to speak. All in all, I'm looking at a release in the new year. I have this strange fear of Game of Thrones-ing all of it though. I feel like it will be the last book for Cadda's story and I really don't want to rush it. I want to give it the ending it deserves. Once it's written, I'll let it sit a while and see if it's ready to go. The first books were a long process of writing, editing, polishing and re-writing, but I am confident this one can be done by 2020.

Also, I got a really cool cover done for it already. My go to cover artist, Leticia G.S., has really captured the essence of Daughter of Darkness. Here is the animated version:


Awesome, right?

And because I'm nice, here's a bit of chapter 1 (raw, un-edited, and probably not the final version).

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The rising of the sun drove me to solitude. For seven days, I met each dawn by bathing in the ice waters of the stream beyond the marauders’ camp. It was to there I crept. The sentries watched me for signs I might run away and speak of their haven. So far, I’d given them no reason to turn on me. But they didn’t trust me.


And they were right, for one day, I would betray them.


Not this day, however, and not because I wanted to. I didn’t want to, not at all.


Limping from an arrow wound that hadn’t yet healed, I reached the stream. In the days past, I’d been able to kick through the ice, to submerge myself fully in the frigid waters. I’d chilled myself to the bone, turned blue, all to get rid of the filth that lay upon me.


It was a futile effort. The blood had long since been scrubbed clean, but the stain on my heart, the ruin in my blood, could never be washed away.


Still, I liked to make her angry. She complained I misused her body, squawked at the wrinkles the cold brought about, at the waste I was letting take over. I ate like a bird, if at all. She was very vain, the voice in my head.


I knelt to the stream. Loose, my hair hung straight to the hollow of my back. The locks were glossy, and contrasted in a stark way around my face, like a shadow over the moon. A natural cowl to hide my shame. I usually braided my hair, to keep it out of my way, but I’d decided it was time for a change.


My reflection stared back at me from the frozen stream, details not clear but for one difference. The irises of my eyes were orange. They hadn’t been blue for days now. A reckoning churned on the tides of fate. My life was promised to Aiia.


Soon.

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OMG what is happening? Are you excited? I am! Daughter of Darkness will be a little different from previous books because I introduce a few other point of views. You won't just be in Cadda's head anymore. Stay tuned to my blog/twitter/Facebook for further news (including a Kindle sale this month). Until then, stay safe, have fun, and remember to leave a review.

-Joy

Father Hal Tawndry's Guide to Ledonia Part II: The Hierarchy

A terse lesson on the history, religion and current structure of the kingdom of Ledonia for the foreign wanderer who finds himself in this bountiful and varied realm by Father Hal Tawndry, High Priest of Wic, Keeper of Knowledge, and written in the first glorious year of the reign of His Grace, King Esmond Seyerling.



In order to enlighten persons new to this great kingdom, I, Father Hal Tawndry, High Priest of Wic and Keeper of His Knowledge, have been tasked with committing to writing certain pertinent facts which would aid in the foreigner’s understanding of this kingdom, in order that he should not perpetrate any act of unscrupulous affront to any lords, ladies or immortals forbid, the King. In this way, harmony will be kept and there shall be no need for the foreigner to claim ignorance should he insult his host and instead shall be rooted out as the arrogant outsider most foreigners seem to be.

Gods be with you,

Father Hal Tawndry
High Priest of Wic
Keeper of His Knowledge

***WARNING: SMALL SPOILERS AHEAD. IF YOU HAVEN'T  YET READ FROM THE DARKNESS COMES, I SUGGEST YOU LURK ELSEWHERE!***



The kingdom of Ledonia was once a disorganized, chaotic continent with warring factions and petty chieftains. Five hundred years ago, a woman named Leda Seyerling rose against the tyrannical marauders that had the run of the continent. Her husband had perished defending her and her son during a raid. With the aid of her brother-in-law, she united all the good people to destroy the rampant disorder and distress. When peace was gained, the people held her up as queen and anointed her son as the heir of the new kingdom. From then on, the title has been passed on to the firstborn son or next closest male kin.

Before Leda ceded Ledonia to her son, she divided the kingdom into eight, after the Divine Eight, and to ensure the continent would not witness such unrest as it had before unification. The four dukedoms are home to the most powerful of the landed nobility beneath the monarch.

To the north, the Duchy of Elderbrooke is held by the Unger family. Lord Tybalt, recently widowed, has only three daughters to follow him. While not unusual for women to inherit titles, especially in the north, it remains to be seen who Lord Tybalt will cede his dukedom to. Meanwhile, he fosters friendly relations with the Ruromanni of the north and there have not been any skirmishes between the two peoples for decades, mostly thanks to the late King Wolfred’s efforts at forming a mutually beneficial alliance with the Ruromanni during the Long War with Delphis.

To the north and west of the continent is an island that lies between the Ruromanni lands and the island kingdom of Delphis. This is the Duchy of Hildun and held by the Berger family. The late Lord Charle solidified his place in the kingdom during the Long War by marrying Wolfred Seyerling’s younger sister, the Lady Maeve Seyerling. There had been whispers he was ready to turn traitor to his king and pledge allegiance instead to the Delphisian king, but all that was quieted with his marriage into the royal family. Lord Charle and Lady Maeve had one son, our current king, His Grace Esmond Berger-Seyerling.

To the south and hugging most of the central coast lies the Duchy of Amaranta, held by the Dorsile family. The late duke, Lord Kenric Dorsile was a close adviser to the king and spent most of his time in the capital. His young wife, Lady Elinor Toers-Dorsile, gave him only a daughter, Lady Hawise, before the duke was murdered. Many of Lord Kenric’s peers believed he vied for the title of Grand Duke, a title as of yet nonexistent. The king has so far made no decisions regarding the ceding of the title and for the moment Lady Elinor holds the duchy in trust for her reclusive young daughter. No doubt, many nobles seek a betrothal with the girl, for the duchy is a rich and fertile land and built mostly on slave labour, a practice the late King Wolfred considered abolishing and a consideration which died with him and his sons.

Further south and resting along the northern border of the Kingdom of Valderon is the Duchy of Malandra, ruled by the Verret family. Through a series of unfortunate deaths, the old Lord Shamus is left with only one viable heir, his nephew Lord Emrys, a young man who cares more for horse racing and bedding women than ruling a dukedom. Because of the king’s marriage to a princess of Valderon, the border remains peaceful. Lord Shamus however, must contend with the occasional raid into the woodland country of the west by the Giscarians, a race of barbarous, loathsome men from the Giscar Mountains, a mountain chain that borders the entire west of Ledonia.

North of Malandra and to the east of the Giscar Mountains is an area known as the Marches. These border areas are plagued by the Giscarians and other barbarians wishing to come into Ledonian territory. Two noble families have been charged with guarding this large area: the Toers take charge of the Rockston territory, and the Stratemakers take charge of the far north, called the High Hills.

Lord Baldwyn Toers, Marquis of Rockston is a great general of the Ledonian Army and successfully pushed back an army of barbarians and mammoths from the border. However, he remains a widower and his only living child is a daughter, the same Lady Elinor mentioned earlier. The lord was a great and trusted friend to the late King Wolfred and is beloved of the soldiers under his command.

The Marchioness Lady Sibba Stratemaker rules the High Hills, unmarried and childless. She is said to lead her men out to battle and to drink and carouse with them. The Lady is able to get away with this unbecoming behavior only because she is so far away from her peers in the northwest corner of the kingdom. And ever more scandalous, the king is amused by powerful women and never reprimands her or appoints one of her few male relatives as marquis.

The Midlands of Ledonia are overseen by a count. The Speer family has long held this title. Lord Valamer is rarely seen by his peers and never travels to the capital to meet with the king. Some say he plots, others say he is crazy, and still others say he is busy dealing with the roving bands of marauders and deserters of the Ledonian Army. Whatever the truth, he does not suffer from lack of heirs; it is said he has eight sons and five daughters, all legitimate, and a bevy of bastards to boot. Many of his daughters are married into other noble families. Most notable are the Lady Anna and Lady Pernella, both married into the Verret family.

Finally, the Fertile Plains are ruled by a baron appointed by the king. There is no succession for this land, for the area provides much of the riches of Ledonia. In the past, the barony has rebelled and it is a fact that much of the few rebellions against the crown have started in this barony. Therefore, the king grants it to whoever is currently in his favour. At the moment, the Lord Lastur Kern retains the title of Baron of the Fertile Plains. It is said he is easily manipulated and possesses no further ambition than what he has already gained.

There are other minor nobles without land: the viscounts, most often an empty title given to soldiers for their exceptional service; the baronets, nobility who remain within the capital for no reason other than they have no land and wish to pay court to the king; and the knights, those mounted warriors in service to nobility, made noble themselves through their courageous deeds.

Of course, the king of Ledonia is the absolute and final power, though he may consult with the nobles or the priests for any number of decisions or in matters of lawmaking. The king is always a member of the Seyerling family and it is said that Leda’s husband, whose name is lost to history, was a descendant of the god of the sky himself, Seinar, and therefore every king since her son Blayve took the throne possessed the blood of a god.

Unfortunately, this does not prevent tragedy from befalling the royal family, as witnessed by the murder of the late King Wolfred, his wife Rohese, and their three sons, Wolfred, Sid, and Rhodri by his own elite bodyguards, the Blayvian Guard. Praise be to the gods that Esmond survived, for Ledonia would surely have fallen into a dark age had he not ascended to the throne.

The common folk are a varied people, most prolific the rabble of peasants who serve their betters in the fields. Slaves are bought and sold for those with the coin to afford them and thus are resented by the free folk for stealing their jobs. In the cities, there are other types of commoners too numerous to list. The priesthoods of the various gods recruit both commoners and nobility, although the nobility tend to possess the highest ranks.

She-Wolf on a Leash is here!

Now available, She-Wolf on a Leash: The Darkness in the Midst Book II.



E-book is live on Amazon and the paperback is available within 72 hours. You can read chapter 1 for free here on the blog. I hope you’ll enjoy the continuing saga of Cadda!

-Joy

Exciting Book News!

Hello!

How is everyone? I hope everything is well. I have some exciting news to share with you all. The next book in the Darkness in the Midst Series will be out at the end of the month. June 28th, to be exact. I can't wait for you to read it.



As the days go along, I will be updating the site, adding a page for the new book, She-Wolf on a Leash. I will also be posting the next part in Father Hal Tawndry's Guide to Ledonia. This part is about the hierarchy of the land.

Until then, you can find She-Wolf on a Leash available for pre-order at Amazon, right now. The paperback version will be available around the same time, but unfortunately no pre-orders available for that.

So, until the next update, stay safe, be well, and support an indie author by leaving a review! Seriously, it helps us a lot.

-Joy

The Worth of a Book: Pricing a Self-Published Novel



Creatives who go into business for themselves are often faced with a dilemma: how to price what they’re selling. A couple of months ago, I crocheted a doll for a friend. I had no idea what to charge. Too much and I would feel guilty. Too little, and I’d feel a bit cheated. After all, I’d have to factor in the cost of materials and figure out what my time was worth. I’m quite a humble person so I tend to lowball myself. I ended up charging a reasonable amount. 

The same dilemma occurs when you self-publish a book. If you look at Amazon, most e-books by indie authors are selling for $0.99-2.99, including my own. Are the measly royalties earned at those price points worth all the time and hard work you put into writing the novel? 

No. 

Not even close. 

So why do we allow this? It took me years to get to a point where I was ready to hit the submit button on self-publishing. Hundreds of hours where I could have been doing a million other things but instead I worked on my novels. Most likely, I’ll never even earn the price I paid for the covers. 

Which begs the question, are pictures really worth more than a thousand words? Yes, artists are super talented and deserve to be paid hundreds of dollars (or more) for their work. They have costs too -  digital software and tech equipment if they’re digital artists, and old fashioned paint and canvas if they’re traditional. And their time. It takes time to bring a vision to life. So why do writers get the short end of the stick? We have costs too. We have hours upon hours put into our novels. And yet, for some reason it’s okay and even forced upon us to sell our novels for cents. 

I would love to charge what traditional publishers charge for their books. Most trade paperbacks go for about $20 now. E-books by traditionally published books can go for $10. Maybe indie publishers get a bad rep? Maybe no one wants to pay that much for a self-published book? Maybe they’re scared it will be full of typos or horrible writing or whatever? Truth is, most self-published writers make sure their books are in 100% shape before publishing. Certainly I do, though of course I can’t speak for everyone. Since I am self-published I felt like I had to go with the flow and charge $0.99 for my novella. I price my novel at $2.99 because it is longer. I also had days where I gave them away for free. I’ve had more copies given away for free than sold. 

I’m not complaining, not really. My dream was to hold my books in my hands and I made it come true. I always knew I’d never make a fortune. In fact, I’m in the red. In the end, it doesn’t matter to me because I have a full time job. But what about those who don’t? Why would you give them pennies when you’d give a traditionally published author dollars? Maybe that traditionally published author will never earn back his/her advance, but at least they got an advance. 

I don’t know what the point of this post was. Food for thought I guess. I didn’t really think much about this until I saw a thread on Twitter. 

What are your thoughts? How did you decide to price your books? How much is your time worth?