I believe I owe you all an excerpt from my work-in-progress, Dagger of the Sun (or DotS as I affectionate like to call it).
Without further delay…here it is:
The night air was causing gooseflesh to spread over her arms and legs and the flimsy pale blue tunic wasn’t doing much to protect the rest of her either. Delphyne cursed whatever gods had brought the prince back from the barracks tonight of all nights. She judged the distance from her vantage point to the throne room’s entrance to be less than a minute, but the trick would be crossing the crowded floor without being stopped by someone interesting in hearing about a hunter’s tale.
Or I could jump from the balcony.
It honestly didn’t look that high. If she bent her knees on the landing, she would be fine. She leaned over the railing, letting her fingers encircle the cool stone.
“I would advise against it.”
Delphyne swivelled, heart nearly popping out of her chest. “Don’t scare me…I thought you were —”
Apollo raised an eyebrow.
“Nevermind,” Delphyne amended. “Where have you been?”
She had lost track of Apollo seconds after the feast had started. Apollo had noticed a poet friend of his in the crowd and wandered off. After that, it had been difficult to catch sight of him for more than a minute as he flitted around the room like a butterfly.
“Making the rounds,” Apollo said. “But I’m more interested in knowing why you’re standing here peeping at the statues?”
In the moonlight, the statues in the garden behind her looked even more lewd. Not to mention the occasional moans that drifted up from the shadowed maze.
“I was…” She paused. How could she phrase her words so that she didn’t sound like either a coward or a pervert? “I was getting some fresh air.” She finished rather lamely.
“It has gotten rather stuffy.” A pause. “More so now that the prince has arrived.”
“Asclepius told me.” Apollo looked at her, a small smile forming on his lips. “Did the prince really ask you to marry him…by telling you that you’d be a good breeder?”
Delphyne gave him a look that implied she would not be discussing this at length.
“And did you really punch him in response?”
Clearly, her look got lost in translation. “I didn’t have my sword with me, so punching him was my only recourse.”
Since this is a work in progress, I am very open to criticism and feedback…any thing that will help me improve. So please, please, leave a comment or suggestion below.
Now it’s back to the writing board!
–Rika Ashton (aka Book Hermit)
As most of you might already know DOTS (aka Dagger of the Sun) is undergoing some changes. The more time I spend in my fictionalized version of Ancient Greece, the more the world expands – in particular, the Underworld. The Underworld in DOTS is actually a world within a world, and in my version it existed long before Hades claimed it for the dead. And unlike the surface world of mortal Greece, which with the exception of supernatural elements, is mostly true to history – the Underworld is almost 99% a fictionalized landscape. I’m having loads of fun naming places and coming up with groups of people who inhabit the different landscapes of the Underworld.
Best of all, I actually get to stretch my creative muscles a bit and create a map of the Underworld. I actually get to draw! (Or at least I like to call all the chicken scratch I’m throwing on paper “drawing.”)
Of course, not all of the terrain with be revealed in the first book, so I don’t get to draw a complete map…otherwise that would be some major spoilage for book two, but what I do get to include is very detailed.
But I have to say: PLEASE, DON’T EXPECT TOO MUCH from this map – I am NOT an artist and therefore, it’s going to be a very amateurish attempt at drawing a map.
However, despite the fact that it will be a very embarrassing attempt, I will still swallow my pride and share on the blog.
And for those of you still not deterred and unafraid of having your eyes bleed, I do have a very bad rough draft.
To make up for my bad mapping skills, I’ll share a teaser from DOTS. This is a scene that happens way later in the novel, and features Bae and Kael. The gentlemen are discussing Bae’s rigorous training schedule for Delphyne.
Ben Hill, my inspiration for Bae.
“Do you think I’m being too hard on her?” Bae asked.
Kael thought about the still-healing cut that he had seen running down the length of Delphyne’s right arm. The fabric of the bandage she’d hastily wrapped around the wound had been soaked through. He had been ready to drive his fist though Bae’s face last night, but had been halted by the words Delphyne had whispered to him in the flickering candlelight of their bedchamber.
“I’m still alive, aren’t I?” She had shrugged, not without flinching. “And as incredible as this may seem at the moment, I do plan to stay that way.”
“I think it’s good for her,” Bae continued, dunking his hands into a basin full of water. He splashed a handful of the water on his face, using the clear liquid to rub away the dirt and sweat of the day’s training session. “But I figured if you’re itching to slit my throat, you might as well get it over with so we can both move on.”
A river of fire. That’s how Delphyne’s wound had looked the night before. A vermilion streak over sun-kissed skin. This morning it had been the finest white line. It was healing. Fast.
So much faster than before.
“No,” said Kael. “I don’t want to slit your throat for hurting my wife.”
Bae looked at him in surprise.
“I want you to keep training her…until she’s strong enough to slit your throat on her own.”
And there you have it! I had to cut out some parts from the scene – because some things that Kael says are spoilers – but I felt relatively safe uploading this.
Hopefully you enjoyed the little snippet, and now I have to get back to writing! 😀
(aka The Mapmaker)
I’m going to try and keep this post short…mostly because I have to get back to writing, but I thought it might be time for a new teaser from Dagger of the Sun. (And this one will be slightly longer than one line, I promise!)
But first I need to give a special shout out to my critique partners, June Hur and Priscilla Shay, for keeping me motivated through the new draft. I have really high expectations for this novel, but sometimes they don’t always translate well on paper. Yet the advice these ladies have given me makes me want to keep writing…even when I feel like tearing my hair out because none of my characters will do what I want.
It seems silly to say this, because aren’t they just characters? But I dare you to write a novel featuring both Apollo (aka Arrogant Sun God) and Delphyne (aka Madame Huntress Extraordinaire) and see how far you get before you want to throw your computer out the window.
The most surprising part is that Kael, my anti-hero, is the only one doing what he’s told…I think he just really wants me to get this novel published so he can share his magnificence with the world. 😉
And he’s not the only one. I also want to get this novel out there as soon as possible so that I can start on the next one. I even have a title: Throne of the Sun…and yes, the acronym is TOTS because I am awesome. But the acronym for the third novel won’t be as fun – Empire of the Sun…EOTS just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Of course, these are just working titles and might change, but for now I like them and I want to get on with these stories…
But I just remember my promise to keep this post short, so no more ranting today.
If anyone has actually read this far, it’s only because they finally want me to get to the teaser, so here it is:
“Isadora talks to me,” Asclepius had said a moment later, mentioning the Spartan war widow who owned
The late Andy Whitfield, my inspiration for Asclepius.
one of the farms near their home.
“Isadora also talks to her plants.”
But he’d shrugged. “She said it helps them grow.”
Delphyne had slanted her head and narrowed her gaze at him. Then she’d smiled and said, “You like her.”
Although he had reminded himself that grown men didn’t blush, he’d felt heat creeping into his cheeks. “No, I don’t,” he remembered saying.
Delphyne had given him that look – the one with a slow smile and narrow-eyed determination. It was the look she got whenever her mind was running through a series of schemes that were likely to spell trouble for him. He had been intimately acquainted with that look since Delphyne had been ten summers old and had begun smiling again.
The above teaser, completely unedited, is from chapter four in DOTS…the one chapter that was giving me the most trouble, but I’m done with the new draft and I’ll be sending the chapter to my critique partners soon.
(aka The Very Grateful)
It’s back to writing and revamping Dagger of the Sun (DOTS) – yes, I also feel like I do this A LOT!
I felt like I had to revamp my story before submissions for a few very important reasons:
1. Delphyne had no real motive to be involved in any of the action. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to give her a motive. (i.e: She’s Apollo’s friend so she cares, dammit!) But in the end, this wasn’t enough – in Booklandia, friendship can only take a character so far.
2. I HATED the ending. So for obvious reasons this had to change.
3. I jumped into the action too fast. Great for plot development, not so great for character development – hence, I needed to find the book’s Zen balance.
4. My cousin – aka Book Critique #1 – told me the first chapter was too bloody, so if someone was reading it and eating at the same time…well, you get the picture.
5. My other cousin – aka Self-Proclaimed Book Critique #2 – told me the title was too funky. (But I’m not changing this…NOT again. Besides it’s a working title and I don’t have time to agonize over it yet.)
So what’s up with the new DOTS?
Well, in addition to the above changes, I also have to move around all the chapter so they would fit with the new life story I gave Delphyne. (I ended up completely overhauling her life, but I’m satisfied with the new story – it feels right.) Apollo gets a later introduction, but his sons arrive earlier. Delphyne also has a new mentor. Some minor changes included switching the spelling of Lord Kaelus’ name from “Kale” to “Kael.”
I also upgraded some of the armour and weapons in the book. (I was inspired by Kellan Lutz’s upcoming film, The Legend of Hercules.)
Finally, after much agony and torment, I decided on a new first line for the novel – which is actually today’s teaser:
Delphyne woke to the metallic taste of blood in her mouth and the suffocating scent of death.
So are you tempted to read more?
And now it’s back to the drawing board – although, I don’t really get to draw anything. *sigh*
(aka The “Writer”)
I’ve finally got some time to write yesterday, so I thought why not post another short teaser from DOTS?
The city center, marketplace and all, was burning – flames ravenously engulfing the landscape. The agora itself was a pit of bright, orange fire. Smoke, that hadn’t been visible from within the alley, was rising into the air like a dark cloud.
And there were more reptilian creatures.
Behind her, Delphyne heard the clatter of a sword being tossed aside, which prompted her to action.
She had to find Apollo; if anyone knew what was going on, it would be him.
Unfortunately it was easier said than done.
More of the smoke was beginning to rise, mixing with the summer heat, making her eyes water as she ran blindly towards where she had seen Apollo land earlier.
As always, feel free to make predictions about what you think will happen next by leaving a comment below?
(aka “I’m so happy to be writing again!”)
P. S: I found a picture of Delphyne the Gorgon – this comes from the Marvel comic book, Incredible Hercules.