Friday, July 4, 2014

Selo & Inya News

We've experienced a sudden burst in sales of this series, and in gratitude to our fans we've got a couple of special treats.

For starters, all three currently released books are on sale at Amazon.com for $2.99 until Book 4 is released.

Secondly, here's the prologue to Book 4, Painted Face Woman.

Prologue: The Chieftain's Daughter

In Obasan Village, the local pleasure palace was considered a very exclusive school for the daughters of wealthy men. There, day after day, they learned about beauty, music, and dance. Those who excelled in memorization and performance were taught the ancient art of storytelling and held an exulted rank.

The girls from were from common families; their fathers were typically merchants who specialized in silk, gold, precious stones, and wine. If an incense, linen, candle or perfume merchant was particularly successful, their daughter might attend. These girls were usually from the city; in the village, it was traditional for people to make these products themselves, and thus such merchants could only prosper in the city. Being from the city was what gave these girls status; they were usually the most fashionable and had all the best gossip about the noble and royal families.

So one can imagine their surprise when they heard a chieftain’s daughter had not only enrolled, but paid the first year’s fees in full.

Rumors about her sprung quickly and spread like wildfire. Little was known about the girl herself, except that she was quite traveled, a gifted dancer, and had spent some time in Prince Iyuru’s palace at Wala.

Even the staff at the palace was excited about her arrival. The maids cleaned harder and more often than usual, and the House Mistress prepared to reach out to her wealthier patrons about her latest acquisition. The girls sometimes overheard her rehearsing to the chaperons, honing and tweaking her sales pitch.

The new girl finally arrived shortly after dawn one morning; apparently she’d spend her first night in town at a local inn. The girls found this odd; protocol dictated a new girl leave her home and go straight to her assigned palace. Pleasure palaces were intended to cater to pleasures of the mind—music, plays, dance, and fine rare wine. Patrons and students were never left alone, and House Mistresses ensured there were trained chaperones and guards in every room. Thus, any deviation from protocol tended to raise eyebrows; ergo, no proper girl spent a night alone at an inn. Such behavior could taint a palace’s reputation, and call its purity into question.

But the new girl’s arrival squashed suspicions as quickly as she raised them. For one, she entered the gates in a goat-drawn carriage which, in Oon Sati, was practically a thing of myth. The carriage was a dainty little creation of bamboo and light wood from the North, draped in bleached linen. The goats themselves were white as the linen, having been soaped and scrubbed quite diligently.

The new girl was accompanied by a regal valet who was seemingly twice her height. The girls recognized him as Sir Umasan, who was in the employ of the village chief. His presence drew grasps of awe.

He entered the main hall where the students and even some of the maids excitedly gathered. He made eye contact with no one, which was both haughty and understandable. Sir Umasan did, after all, tower above every single person in the room.

The new girl stepped forward, fanning herself with a white feather fan dusted in gold. Her dress was just as extravagant.

Like her valet, she made eye contact with no one, though she had no excuse. Unlike her valet, she was quite possibly the shortest person in the entire palace. Instead she cast her bored eyes downward, daintily fanning herself as she yawned, “Have all the arrangements been prepared?”

“Yes, my lady,” Sir Umasan replied, showing his first shred of humility. He turned back to the slowly growing awestruck crowd and proclaimed in a booming voice:

“I am Sir Umasan, and it is my serene honor to present to all assembled the Lady Inya, daughter of Kobunye, Lord of Umi Town.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Aaaaaaaaand here's a sneak peak of a work in progress, the cover of Book 5, Twisted Sister.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lady of the Court also on Promotional Sale

Amazon.com

There were some errors that have REALLY been bugging me on this one, so I went ahead and republished a corrected version.  If readers allow for a few hours (or a day) of updating, then they will see they are able to purchase this first volume for $2.99 as well until June 21st, 2014.

Thanks for everyone's support!

Queen of Dust now available for purchase from Amazon

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Painted Face Woman


Painted Face Woman is going to be Book 4 in the series.  The cover (done flawlessly by Jules Nguyễn) was inspired, in part, by Inya, and unlike Books 1 & 2, it picks up immediately where Book 3 leaves off, finishing off a previous storyline.  The bounty hunter Vathi will be rejoining our main girls for an adventure, as usual, we'll get to know a few more things about Selo and Inya themselves.

Because Book 5 hasn't even been started, now is a great time to ask questions and make suggestions about things you'd like to know about our characters or "see" in this series.  You never know what just might spark my imagination.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

And Because Delays Continue...

...three guesses what I've got for you.

Previously

"Prologue"
"One Month Earlier"

Black Grapes

            Selo and Inya took the unfamiliar path, noticing it slowly ascended, winding through the woods.  Selo noticed the trees in this region were tall and slender, almost like a bamboo forest.  It was easy to see the space between them, thus provided a clear view for a great distance.  It made sense to build a village out here; the sparse forest made it difficult for anyone to hide…except maybe at night.
            Selo suddenly caught a whiff of a light fragrant smell.  They’d reached a plateau where many trees had been cut down.  In the clearing stood a vast vineyard surrounded by tall wooden gates.  The scent of fresh fruit wafted over to them, making their stomach grumble.
            “Of course!” Inya exclaimed.  “Red Palm is known for its brewery, but not for the actual production of fruit.  Since fruit can only be carried so far, it would make sense to plant vineyards nearby.”
            “It’s beautiful,” Selo gasped.  “It rivals the vineyard of Queen Ituti at her palace in Emseti.”
            “It would,” Inya nodded, leading Umi along.  “The people of Red Palm take wine very seriously.”
            The vineyard was immaculate, as were the surrounding grounds.  The grass was freshly cut, the weeds under strict control, and the women could see the carefully cultivated fruit was quite healthy, with large black grapes weighing down the vines.
            “It would appear so,” Selo murmured.  “Whoever cares for this vineyard is very meticulous.”
            “They’d have to be,” Inya shrugged.  “The brewery in Red Palm is highly selective; they have a six-hundred-year-old reputation to protect.  A vineyard like this probably gets weekly inspections from their assigned sales representative at the brewery.”
            Selo raised an eyebrow.  “So you have traveled here before.”
            Inya shrugged again.  “Probably.  Maybe.  Once or twice.  Couldn’t tell you.”
            Selo snickered.  “Drank that much wine, did you?”
            The tiny nomad nodded.  “Very likely.”
            They came round to the front of the vineyard where a giant wooden sign hung.  Painted in black ink and in the common dialect were the words Black Grape Manor.
            A few feet into the vineyard stood a strikingly handsome man tasting the grapes.  He was a regal fellow, with sun-kissed light brown skin and long black hair hanging to his waist.  He had a fine silken white cloth draped over one shoulder and around his hips, and he wore golden thong sandals.
            As usual, Inya was more than happy to introduce herself.
            “Excuse me,” she called, waving slightly.  “Do you live here?”
            The man turned to them, blinking in surprise.  “Yes,” he nodded.  He had a deep, warm and friendly voice.  He gestured for them to come in.  “You’re…not from the brewery.”
            “No,” Inya shook her head.  “We’re just passing through this country.  I’m Inya, this is my traveling companion Selo, and this is Umi,” she nodded towards her donkey, who was already sniffing out the beautifully plump grapes.
            “I am Ashvin,” the man lightly touched his bare chest, smiling broadly at them both.   He reached to gently touch Umi’s head.  “This is my vineyard.  It’s a pleasure to meet you both.”
Selo was immediately uncomfortable in his presence.  Then again, she was often uncomfortable in the presence of men; she still wasn’t used to dealing with them in a strictly social capacity.  She’d only ever had one male lover and she’d been fraught with nervousness the whole time.
            And there was something about this man…something about the warmth in his smile and the brightness in his deep, dark eyes which unsettled her.
            “You’re travelers, you say?” he asked.  He looked Inya over.  “You must be from the lake country.”
            “Correct,” she grinned.
            “And you,” Ashvin murmured, looking at Selo as though awestruck, “you’re a warrior.”
            “That’s correct,” she replied stiffly, tensing as his warm gaze rolled over her.
            “You are not…from Soneti.”
            “No.  I am from Tiy.”
            Ashvin’s pretty eyes widened.  “Tiy?  I have never met a woman from Tiy.   The military exploits of your Queen are legend in my northern homeland.”
            “I knew it,” Inya beamed.  “You look like an Amalian.  Which kingdom?”
            “My brothers and I emigrated from Kingdom of Umala about two years ago,” Ashvin nodded.  “As you may know, Umala is in the very heart of the desert.  We couldn’t sustain a vineyard like this, so my brothers and I moved south.”
            “Brothers?” Selo almost twitched.  “There are more of you?”
            “Oh, yes,” Ashvin chuckled, pointing towards the heart of the vineyard.  “We’re in the middle of harvesting for the Festival tomorrow.  Will you both attend?”
            “We hope to,” Inya replied slowly walking towards where Ashvin pointed.  Selo followed suit, and in moments wished she hadn’t.
            Ashvin had brothers, all right; several of them, in fact.  They weren’t his actual kin, of course, but each matched him in flawless handsomeness.  They all wore fine loincloths and sandals, showing off their sweaty muscular arms, broad chests and shoulders, and long legs.  They all had long hair, with varying lengths; some tied it back, some let it hang free, but all were sweaty, with strands plastered against their faces.
            Some were hauling giant baskets of grapes, others were climbing ladders, and some were taking a break to drink water.
            “What is this place?” Selo blinked, suddenly having trouble breathing.
            Ashvin raised a slightly confused brow.  “This is a vineyard.”
            Even Inya seemed to have trouble talking.  “And…you all…just…live here?”
            “In the center,” Ashvin nodded.  “We have a very large manor.”
            One weary worker poured a whole bowl of water over his head to cool down.  Selo watched in growing horror as the silky rivulets slid down the man’s finely honed form, plastered his silky black hair against his body.
            “What is this place?” she asked.
            Ashvin was slow beginning to understand her reaction, and was deeply amused by it.  “It’s my vineyard, Selo,” he patiently repeated.  “I’m going to take a stab and guess that you don’t have much experience socializing with men, do you?”
            “I wouldn’t say that,” Inya interjected, snacking on a grape she’d thoughtlessly plucked from a nearby vine.  “She slept with a gold merchant one time.”
            Selo’s head snapped towards her companion.  “Inya!”
            The nomad merely shrugged, feasting both on grapes and the view.  “He’s the one who gave her that golden thing around her neck.”
            Selo’s head cocked to the side.  “Inya here used to dance on table tops for money,” she fired back.
            Inya furiously whirled on her.  “How many times do I have to tell you it was just one time?  It was amateur night at a drinking house.  It’s not like I made career out of it!”
            “I don’t know,” Selo raised a skeptical brow.  She folded her arms across her chest.  “According to Vathi, you move like someone who’s spent an awful lot of time on top of a table.”
            Inya looked like she was about to burst a blood vessel.  “I’ll have you know bounty hunters aren’t nearly as reliable as Vathi makes them out to be, Selo!  You can’t even begin to imagine some of the things she’s probably done just to catch a fugitive off guard!”
            Selo opened her mouth, no doubt to hurl another retort, but Ashvin smoothly stepped in to diffuse the situation.
            “Ladies,” he calmly inquired, “where are you staying tonight?”
            The question caught both women off guard.  They seemed torn between answering him and getting back to their quarrel.
            “Um…I don’t know,” Selo shook her head.  “Um…in the village, I suppose?”
            “You could stay here,” Ashvin offered.  “We built a large manor, with several rooms.  And we don’t have guests that often.”
            Selo returned to her earlier state of discomfort.  “No,” she took a step back.  “No, ee couldn’t.”
            “Oh, come now,” Ashvin cajoled.  “Why waste coins on a dusty inn when you can relax here for free?  You could taste the latest vintage, and my brothers will dance for your tonight.”
            “No,” Selo adamantly shook her head.  “They don’t have to do that.”
            “Uh, yes the do,” Inya blinked.  “And we would be happy to accept your kind hospitality,” she added pointedly, glaring at Selo.
            Ashvin beamed.  “Come. I’ll show you my home.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Accepting My Limitations

*sigh*

Amaya warned me about this.

I really want a new Selo & Inya adventure to be out every month on time without a hitch, but the fact of the matter is I wrote the first book while a on week-long vacation.  Since then I've had to wrestle with the day job and then try to find the energy to write when I come home.  Not an easy task.

So here's a peace offering for the delays you already know are coming.  Picking up from where we left off with the prologue, I present the first chapter of Queen of Dust: