ENDSINGER – Prologue

Endsinger
T
he thing inside their mother wanted out.

Swollen and heavy as stone, Lady Sun fell westward into the waiting oceans. A chill followed her descent, coiled in the mountain shadows, creeping towards the dusty little farm and its withered fields. The wind brought the brittle bite of approaching winter, the vapour from the deadlands stirring like a lover at its touch, rippling with the sound of their mother’s screams.

Tetsuo and Hikita crouched together in the dirt, all grubby faces and threadbare rags. The children had fled the house when the noise became too much. Their mother’s agonized cries had reduced little Tetsuo to tears, and Hikita took his younger brother’s hand and led him out into the dark and quiet. Hikita knew he must be strong. He was the man now. Thin shoulders only ten summers old, carrying the weight of his family and the weight of the world.

Their neighbour had arrived with the midwife, and now the women clustered about the bed as Mother wailed, stepping outside only to dash buckets of red water onto cracked earth, or wring bloody rags between their fingers. Hikita would watch them then, his eyes hidden behind soot-smeared glass, black and empty as the dusk above their heads.

He knew what another mouth meant for his family. Knew their pitiful stead wouldn’t have enough good earth left next season to feed three, let alone four. But the baby was coming, whether he willed it or not. There was nowhere else for it to go, after all.

Tetsuo stabbed at the ashen earth with a stick. The blood lotus crop around them swayed and rolled, voices whispering in the husk-dry leaves.

‘Do you think it will be another boy?’

‘Only the Maker knows,’ Hikita replied.

‘I would like a sister.’

‘I would like the cur who put that baby in her to be at her side. I would like Father to still be alive.’ Hikita scowled, climbing to his feet. ‘Like has nothing to do with life.’

He stared at the Tōnan Mountains to the west; jagged fists raised against the setting sun. Between Hikita’s feet and those stone roots, miles of deadlands stretched into the dark – cracks in the earth running twenty feet deep, wreathed in choking fog. Through the fumes, he could see a broken wagon here, a collapsed barn there. Farmsteads run to ruin, swallowed by the blackness spreading from the Stain. He knew somewhere in those mountains loomed First House, the heart of Guild power in Shima. The ones who fed the lotus with the blood of roundeyes, or so the radio sometimes said. The ones who were bleeding this land dry for the sake of fuel and flowers.

Sometimes, when the sky-ships flew overhead, the windows would rattle and little Tetsuo would wake from his sleep, thinking demons were rising from the Hells. But Hikita knew the oni had better things to do than trouble the sleep of foolish boys. The Endsinger’s children dwelled below the earth, deep in the Yomi Underworld. It was men who stained the clouds in their roaring machines. Men who turned the sky to red, the land to ashes, the rain to black. Not demons. Not gods. Just men.

A trembling wail split the dusk, Mother shrieking, throat raw. Hikita scowled again, lifted his kerchief and spat. Brother or sister, it didn’t matter. He’d hate that child. Hate it as he hated its father, with his smooth talk and smoother smile. A dog who took advantage of a widow’s loneliness, left her in dishonour, a bastard in her belly. He’d kill him if he saw him again. Show him that though they lived on the Stain’s edge, in the poorest lands in all the seven islands of Shima, they were still Ryu clan. The blood of Dragons still flowed in their veins.

The windows began rattling and Hikita looked up, expecting to see a Guild sky-ship lumbering out of the dusk. But the sky was an empty, fading red, scabbed with storm clouds. The rattling intensified, the earth trembling so violently he fell to his knees. Tetsuo crawled across the bucking soil, a great belly-sore rumble beneath them. The brothers held each other as the island shook, Tetsuo crying out in fear.

‘Another earthquake?’

The fifth in as many weeks. The rumbling stilled, choking slowly, until the skitter of rotten earth into the deadlands fissures was the only noise. A thin cry began; a newborn’s first bewildered plea as it was dragged from bloody warmth into this world of men. Kicking and screaming.

‘It’s here!’ Tetsuo cried, the tremors forgotten.

He slipped from Hikita’s embrace and dashed into the house, dirty heels beating the verandah like drums. Hikita stood slowly, listening to the hungry wails from their newest mouth. He could hear his mother crying, the joy in her voice as she called for him to come meet his new sister. And the boy shook his head and licked the ashes from his lips, looking across the tall stalks of blood lotus to the desolation around the mountain’s feet.

He blinked. Squinted in the gloom.

Tiny lights. Blood-red. A pair, shining between the lotus fronds. The crunch of little feet in dead leaves and deader earth. Hikita peered into the dark, the wails of his new sibling filling his ears. The deadlands fumes were an oil-thick shadow, rippling like black water. The lotus stalks bent gently – something moving through the crop – and the tiny lights flickered out, once, twice, winking like the long lost stars in the skies overhead.

No, not winking, he realized.

Blinking.

A figure shuffled from the stalks, covered in black earth and ashes. It stood two feet high, but its arms hung long and low, back bent as it shuffled forward and snuffled at the air. Its eyes were scarlet, casting a bloody light over heavy brows, hairless skull, swollen lips. It saw the boy, lips splitting into an idiot grin like a toddler who’d just found a new playmate. But its teeth were yellowed fangs, tusks protruding from its lower jaw, and Hikita realized that beneath the mask of dirt and ash, its skin was midnight blue.

Uh-uuhhhhhhhh,’ it said, holding out its arms.

Hikita’s eyes were fixed on the talons set in those grasping fingers, sharp as katana.

Gn-uhhhhh . . .’

‘Oni,’ he breathed. ‘Lord Izanagi save me.’

The demon flinched at the Maker God’s name, eyes growing bright and wide. It loped forward, knuckles dragging in the earth, a shriek of rage spilling from crooked fangs.

Hikita screamed. Screamed with his sister, here on her birthing day in the shadow of those broken peaks, amidst the rot creeping like a cancer across the island’s skin. Screamed as if it were his final breath. As if it were all he was, and all he ever would be.

As if the world itself was ending.

_______________________

ENDSINGER releases November 25, 2014.

You can pre-order your copy here:

Barnes & Noble

Powell’s

iTunes

BooksaMillion

Indiebound

Amazon

Book Depository

 


Giveway Tiiiiiime

GluesnifferStormdancer. Kinslayer. Endsinger. You all know the formula for naming Lotus War books, right? Noun + Verb + the letters “er”.

Assgrabber.
Puppykicker.
Bedwetter.

Easy!

So, if YOU name a Lotus War book in the comments on my FB page, you go into the draw to win a signed copy of ENDSINGER. Runners up will win copies of THE LAST STORMDANCER.

Make ‘em funny. I like funny.

Share this post on Twitter or FB, you get an additional entry.

If I get enough entries, I’ll put a chapter of ENDSINGER up on this here blog.

Fair deal?


ENDSINGER Blog tour

Endsinger_BlogHeader_600x200[1][2][1]Hello droogs!

It’s less than a month until ENDSINGER hits shelves in the US, UK and Aus/NZ! Hope you’re all looking forward to it like a drunken fratboy looks forward to the next installment of HALO.

Below, you’ll find a list of the absolutely awesome folks who are hosting stops on the ENDSINGER blog tour. There’s a whole bunch of reviews, interviews, giveaways and general Endsingery madness going on over the month of November, so make sure you check back all regular like.

10/29, Wednesday: Rainy Day Ramblings
10/31, Friday: I Smell Sheep
11/3, Monday: Kindle and Me
11/5, Wednesday: Chapter by Chapter
11/6, Thursday: A Backwards Story
11/10, Monday: Fantasy Book Critics
11/12, Wednesday: Mundie Moms
11/13, Thursday: Cuddlebuggery
11/14, Friday: A Reader of Fictions
11/17, Monday: Laurisa Reyes blog
11/18, Tuesday: Imaginary Reads
11/19, Wednesday: Vampire Book Club
11/20, Thursday: Fantasy Faction
11/21, Friday: SF Signal
11/22, Saturday: The Punkettes
11/24, Monday: My Bookish Ways
11/25, Tuesday: Tor
11/25, Tuesday: Jean BookNerd
11/26, Wednesday: Novel Heartbeat
11/27, Thursday: A Dream Within a Dream
11/29, Saturday: Nazish Reads
12/1, Monday: Chapter by Chapter
12/2,  Tuesday: BOOK NERD CANADA
12/3, Wednesday: We Fancy Books
12/4, Thursday: Fiction Fare
12/6, Saturday: TTC Books and More
12/7, Sunday: Scott Reads It!
12/8, Monday: Jenna Does Books
 .
I’ve got details on a pre-order giveaway going up on the blog tomorrow, so check back in then!
Hope you all enjoy ENDSINGER! If early reviews are anything to go by, you might want to bring tissues. Just sayin’. :)

New book deal!

Hello droogies

I mentioned this a little while back, but it’s now officially announced in Publisher’s Marketplace, so I can talk a little more about it:

Bammmm.

SO, NEW TRILOGY FROM MEEEEE AAAAAAAAAAA.

Which means I’m contracted to write/co-write 6 books in the next 3-ish years, so damn, all work and no play makes Jay something something.

Some more details:

I’ve been working on this series in my downtime for about 2 years now, in between LOTUS WAR stuff and ILLUMINAE stuff and other random writerly bits and pieces.

It’s an entirely new series, set in an entirely new world.

The protagonist is a girl named Mia. She’s what’s known as Darkin, meaning she can control darkness. Which sounds like a cool power until you find out . . .

. . . the world she lives on has three suns, which leads to extended periods of daylight – one or more of them are usually up, with the result that actual nighttime falls only once every two and half years.

The setting is kind of a cross between merchant-prince Mediterranean and ancient Rome. It’s a semi-high magic setting with some arcane technology thrown in for good measure. The main city in the series is called Godsgrave which is, you guessed it, built in the skeletal remains of a dead god.

I sold the series based on a synopsis and a sample of the first act. Super happy to be working with the guys at Thomas Dunne again, because they kick all kinds of ass, and I obviously wasn’t such a precious princess to work with the first time that they wouldn’t have me back. So yay!

Series Name: I’m working on this right now. Names are hard and I suck. :P

More news as it comes in :)


Photo Contest – winners and honorable mentions

Droogies,

The ENDSINGER photo contest is finitooooo, and a big THANK YOU to all you awesome folks who sent in entries (winners have been notified by mail and ARCs are winging their way to you as we speak . . . type . . . whatever). Sadly, I only had 5 ARCs to give away, but I’m going to post some honorable mentions below too, because my shields cannot repel awesome of this magnitude.

Big hugs to everyone who took part. My mighty heart is breaking.

There are some more entries over on my Facebook page, too.

Remember, ENDSINGER is available for pre-order at the linkies below. Every pre-order is like giving me a big, slightly uncomfortable hug.

Barnes & Noble

Powell’s

iTunes

BooksaMillion

Indiebound

Amazon

Book Depository

Nobody understood this one but ME Sheep looks confused Better than TolkienAWEEEESOME  THERE ARE NO PANDAS IN JAPAN Poor pie :( Read this, you will.

Bunny knows his stuff Pretteh 3So cute it makes me puke


French STORMDANCER cover!

Behold the awesommmmme.
Another quick one!

I just wanted to share the AWESOME that is the French cover for STORMDANCER!

The cover was created by Miesis Illustration, which you can find here.

I honestly think I’m one of the luckiest authors I know when it comes to covers, and the French edition of SD is no exception. The peeps at Miesis absolutely NAILED it :D

STORMDANCER will be published in France by Bragelonne on the 17th of September!


Throw a Snaga on the barbie, maaaaate

Throw another snaga on the barbie, mayte.

(that headline is Australian for “place a sausage on the hot plate, my friend”. Yeah, “snagga” is Oz for sausage, we’re a strange lot, sue us)

So, after miles uncounted and trials untold, Stormdancer’s prize for the 2013 Gemmell Awards finally arrived!

My editor in the UK was a little gun-shy about sending it via post – apparently the people in Australian customs confiscated the last one she sent down here, and I can kinda see why. This thing could put a reasonable hurting on someone if you hit ‘em in the love machine with it.

You’ll be pleased to know it’s now sitting on my shelf next to a copy of SD, well out of love machine range. :P

Thanks again to all the folks at the Gemmells. You guy are awesome :)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 488 other followers