Tag Archives: young adult

The Key of Amatahns — Debut Novel Blog Hop

debut novel blog hop banner03

To celebrate the re-release of The Key of Amatahns by Elisabeth Wheatley, Inkspelled Faery is hosting ten days of visiting your favorite authors as they talk about their very first novels, topped off by an all-day Facebook party with fun, games, and giveaways. Check out the full line up of authors and don’t forget to join the Facebook party on the 25th!

Cover Design by Ravven

Aurelia Barone, Jewel of Starry Stone, harbors no illusions about the purpose of her life as heir to the throne. But after two failed betrothals, she starts to feel like nothing more than a pawn being moved aimlessly about a game board.

Until the night she loses everything.

Kidnapped by a wise-cracking mercenary with more than one identity, Aurelia embarks on a mission across land and sea to avenge her father’s death.

But an evil is rising from the ashes of memory. Insidious magic is stirring. The dregs of a once-powerful nation are thirsty for blood and revenge.

They seek to harness Aurelia. To tempt her. To manipulate her.

And if necessary, to destroy her.

Barnes and Noble

To start us off, can you sum up your first novel in a tweet, 140 characters or less?

Magic! Mayhem! Kissing! Handsome rogues! Narcissistic sociopaths!

What are you most proud of in this title?

I’m going to have to go with my characters. I worked very very very hard to make sure that no one was wholly good or wholly evil…that everyone was capable of performing “evil” deeds. Making sacrifices. There is no black and white morality here!

Do you think your writing has changed since your debut? In what way?

Hmm…this is an interesting one, because I just made my debut a few months ago. I know my writing has changed and evolved since I first started writing the story. And now that I’ve been through the editing meat grinder, I know where my weak spots are and how to fix them so hopefully book 2 is stronger from the get-go.

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were writing your first book, what would it be?

Write a shitty first draft! I spent a lot of valuable time agonizing over whether the scenes were perfect or the words were right, when I could have been using that time to polish a written draft. You can’t edit a blank page!

Worst piece of writing advice anyone’s given you?

Write every day. Yes, I know this is very popular writing advice, but it was horrible for me. I also spent a lot of time during the writing of Stones thinking that I wasn’t a “real” writer because I didn’t write every day or meet daily word count goals. That’s just not how my creative brain works. Giving myself permission to write my way, and coming to the realization that every person’s writing process is different, was a huge relief! I don’t think I would have ever reached The End if I didn’t have this epiphany along the way.

If you thought this was fun, drop by the Facebook party going down on the 25th for more interviews with your favorite fantasy authors as well as games and goodies galore!

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It’s aliiiiivvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Well, the digital version is anyway.

pretty paperback. y i no hav u

pretty paperback. y i no hav u

Long story short, I am having technical difficulties with CreateSpace, who keeps rejecting my interior file. I was able to order one proof copy, found a pretty big formatting issue, and haven’t been able to pass the updated file through the CS review system since. I’ve been trying for almost a week. Frustrated is understatement, let me tell ya!

Anywho, the formatters are working on it (they’re as baffled as I am) and we’re going to outsmart the technology! I just don’t know when. Eventually! ASAP! 😥

Instead of pushing the release date back indefinitely, I decided to proceed with releasing the eBook! Huzzah!

Here are the buy links I have so far:

Apple iBooks, Page Foundry, and Scribd will be coming shortly, as soon as they approve the uploads!

I don’t know about you guys, but I am totally exhausted. This book baby birthing process is not for the faint of heart, and sometimes it still doesn’t feel real. Like, this has actually happened. I have released my creation out into the big wide world for public consumption. Ack. Eee.

I think I need a stiff drink. Or a really long nap.

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WIPpet Wednesday: Internet’s Back

So I’ll start this post with a confession: I’ve had internet for a couple weeks now, but things kept popping up. This week, however, I reserved tonight for author-y tasks. Made some updates to the website, worked on some formatting (eeeee!), wrote a little bit on untitled book 2, decided to jump back in for WIPpet Wednesday.

WIPpet Wednesday is a weekly blog hop hosted by the lovely KL Schwengel where a bunch of other lovely writers post excerpts from their current works-in-progress that somehow relate to the date.

I’m having a hard time finding anything to post because 1. I don’t want to be spoilery and 2. I’ve only written about 6 pages so far.

Pickin’s be slim.

But, here are 12 spoiler-free, freshly-rendered lines (from Word) in honor of December, for 12/17:

Aurelia had her hot face pressed against the glass in an attempt to cease the pounding of her head. Her breath danced across the pane of the carriage that was taking them to court.

Two hours after receiving the summons, Jaz had finally declared Aurelia acceptable for public viewing. Even now, she was still adjusting the folds of Aurelia’s gossamer veil.

The carriage lurched over a broken cobblestone and Aurelia inhaled sharply as the bones of her corset dug into her thighs. She swatted Jadzia’s hands away.

“Stop,” she gasped.

Jaz’s brows knitted in concern. “My lady, you’re wan.”

Aurelia felt a cold sweat break across her forehead and she found it hard to draw a breath. She was suffocating. The gown and small confines of the carriage were squeezing the life out of her and she was going to faint or vomit.

“Stop the carriage!”

I hope you’re getting as excited for the release of Stones and Finger Bones as I am, and don’t forget to stop by and say hello to the other Wippeteers! 🙂



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On Writers and Reviews

As the release date for Stones creeps ever closer, I find myself growing ever more anxious. The cover is out in the world, with my name on it and guys…I’m kind of freaking out.

I think I’ve officially entered the “What in the name of fluffy unicorns have I done?” phase of publishing. Has anyone else been there?

If you were reading my other blog, you might know that I started writing this book at seventeen. Do you know how long that is? Nine years. Nine! That’s almost a decade, and now I’m just going to throw my baby out into the world and let her be judged and dissected and poked and prodded??

(Maybe no one will notice. But, my mother has been telling every living person she knows, so maybe not.)

Insanity. Madness, I tell you.

I know there’s very little left of the story 17-year-old Jessica envisioned; I don’t think there’s an original sentence left, but these characters have been with me since the beginning (most of them, anyway. The telepathic cat got cut).

Needless to say, I feel very affectionately towards Aurelia & Co. and it distresses me that someone out in the world – or the internet – might not feel the same way.

Which brings me to the other point of this post: reviews.

I’m supposed to be working on writing a scene that fleshes out some character development, but in the name of procrastination, I’ve been reading negative reviews of popular books on Goodreads.

Is this productive and/or healthy? I don’t know.

But I’m rationalizing this frenzied research by saying I’m preparing myself for the worst. How bad can it get?


Now, I like to think that I’m pretty thick-skinned. My writing has been taking punches since my first Intro to Creative Writing class in college, which I handled very gracefully, with only minimal griping behind the professor’s back. But these were very supportive environments, and mediated so things could never get too nasty.

Ever sorted the reviews of a book you liked by the users who gave 1 star? Yeah.

Most of the time these reviews are well-structured, eloquent, constructive, and sometimes amusing. And sometimes I agree with them. I’ll admit it; I don’t like every book I read, even though I know the author invested a lot of time and energy into the writing of it. I know they probably feel the same way I do about their “babies”.

I’m sure a “What the hell is this shit?” still stings, even for the most established authors.

But, here’s the kicker: established authors with popular, traditionally published books have 15,000 positive reviews, glowing with praise, to balance out the 800-1000 negative reviews.

As a soon-to-be indie author, like all the awesome indie authors before me, my work is going to live or die by reviews and recommendations. And one “What the hell is this shit?” review could dissuade many a potential buyer or new fan.

By no means do I have a perfect book (does anyone?) and I’m sure there will a typo or two (hopefully just two) that evaded the many eyes that looked over Stones.

Writers and editors are still human, people! 😉

But, I think I’ve crafted an entertaining read, at the very least, and no one will feel the urge to “hurl this book across the room with disgust”.

What about you, fellow indies? How do you feel about reviews and how do you handle them?

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Stones and Finger Bones: The Cover


I’ve been sitting on this baby since May…so I’m not going to beleaguer this post with a bunch of extra words. I just want to say that Ravven is a fantastically talented artist, and an absolute pleasure to work with! I first discovered her a couple years ago, and my immediate reaction was “Wow, if I ever decide to indie publish, she’s who I’d want to design the cover!”. And voilà, here we are! 😀

So, without any further ado and pomp, here it is:

Cover Design by Ravven

Release Date: February 2015


Aurelia Barone, Jewel of Starry Stone, harbors no illusions about the purpose of her life as heir to the throne. But after two failed betrothals, she starts to feel like nothing more than a pawn being moved aimlessly about a game board.
Until the night she loses everything.
Kidnapped by a wise-cracking mercenary with more than one identity, Aurelia embarks on a mission across land and sea to avenge her father’s death.
But an evil is rising from the ashes of memory. Insidious magic is stirring. The dregs of a once-powerful nation are thirsty for blood and revenge.
They seek to harness Aurelia. To tempt her. To manipulate her.
And if necessary, to destroy her.

Also, check out these awesome bloggers (Elaine Jeremiah and Allie Potts) who were kind enough to feature Stones on their sites!

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WIPpet Wednesday: Back Again

Greetings minions!

So if you were following me back when I was still I before E, you may remember that I participated in a weekly party/gathering/hop of lovely Wippeteers posting snippets of their works-in-progress that somehow relate to the day’s date. I’ve been trying to jump back in for a while now, but life has been sadly interrupting my internet time (I’m a homeowner, yay!).

Today, I’m offering up 2 lines from page 2 of book 2 in honor of October 22nd:

“Peach.” Her voice was strained, hoarse, as if she’d been screaming. And maybe she had. “I just can’t.”

Peach nodded, the moonlight glinting off his silvery hair. “It’s about him.”

What’s that? No context, you say? Well, that’s just how most Wippeteers roll. In my case, giving any context would spoil the ending of Stones and Finger Bones, and this is a strictly spoiler-free zone! 🙂

I’ll be making the rounds to check out all the other snippets, and you can as well by clicking this link. Many thanks to KL Schwengel for always hosting!





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Adventures in Writing Back Cover Copy

One of the many perks of being an Indie author is having complete creative control over all design, promotional, and marketing elements of your work. Unfortunately, this also means being responsible for writing back cover copy (or BCC if you’re hip to the lingo).


putting my photoshop skillz to work

BCC is exactly what it sounds like: the text that goes on the back of your book…and on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, blog tours, etc. Anywhere and anyplace that requires a summary. But — and here’s the kicker — BCC is no ONLY what your book is about, it has to SELL your book to readers.

And that is why BCC causes so much frustration and heartache. At least, that’s been my experience (and if you’re following me on Twitter, you got a little taste of that experience last week).

Authors who can churn out BCC like butter, I salute you.

And now, on to the purpose of this post…I think I’ve finally written something halfway decent that I’m halfway happy with…for the moment.

I won’t be sharing it today! Sawry. That’ll come with the cover reveal (squee!). But I did want to talk a little about my process, and get y’all’s tips and tricks to writing BCC.

So, what I did first was write and overly long, over-indulgent first draft and set it aside for months, I think. Then, I brought that version back out when I was ready to seriously get down to business, discovered it was terrible, panicked a bit, and then started doing my research. Research consisted of reading blurbs on Amazon, and trying to pick out a pattern.

Here’s what I found (and how I subsequently structured my working BCC):

  • Start with an interesting, yet brief, summary of the MC’s current state/life. Bonus points for quippy one-liners.
  • Add the inciting incident (or hint of) that is going to make the MC take action
  • Sprinkle in tidbits of his/her journey and/or new friends/companions
  • Top that all off with a couple of foreboding statements about the MC’s future

And voila! BCC sundae.



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Updates Galore!

Greetings, my lovely peeps!

Thing have been a little hectic here lately, and I don’t have the energy for a useful informative post, so you’ll have to settle for a “life update” post instead.

Business Item Number 1:

I started a new job about 3 weeks ago, which accounts for all the busyness I’ve been encountering recently. I haven’t had nearly enough time to cultivate and tend to my social media outlets. And my Pinterest boards. The struggle is real, y’all.

Business Item Number 2:

I got that infernal prologue written and sent it off to my editor. She returned it with minimal revisions (yay!), and I got it critiqued by my writing group last Monday. Besides a few piddly issues — like Track Changes deleting spaces — I’ve officially finished the heavy-duty editing process! Woop woop!

I cleaned up the piddly issues (hopefully) and literally just sent Stones off to a second round of beta readers.

With all that being said, here’s an updated, still-subject-to-change publication schedule:

September: Stones in the hands of new betas, start working on that back cover copy (do not want).

October: More editing and proofing. Depending on what kind of feedback I receive from betas, I may or may not send it back to my editor. If changes are minor, I’ll just prepare for a final proofread for small errors. Also, COVER REVEAL MONTH!

November: Formatting, final cover design for the paperback version, and any miscellaneous issues.

In my mind, I’m still on schedule for an early December release. Of course, since this is my first time, I could be seriously underestimating the time it takes to get Stones out and about. I also don’t think I’ve got much wiggle room for catastrophic events or grievous errors. Anyone know what those could be??

December seems to be creeping up on me so fast!

Oh, and I’ll be throwing promotional stuff around in there as well. Oy. So much to do!

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Author Interview: Kate Sparkes

Today I get the pleasure of hosting Kate Sparkes, the author of Bound, who agreed to let me interview her! In case you missed it, here’s the lovely link to Kate’s cover reveal, which I participated in at the beginning of June.

First, let’s start off with some basic information about her debut novel, Bound. (Questions are numbered and in bold, answers underneath.)

1. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I always joke that they say to write what you know, so I wrote headaches. There’s some truth in that, though. My headaches frequently send me to a dark, quiet bedroom, which means a lot of long, lonely, quiet hours for stories to percolate in my aching brain. I wondered what would happen if someone had headaches that turned out to be caused by something more significant than atmospheric pressure and aspartame, and my love of fantasy led me to consider a magical connection.

That gave me the beginnings of a character. The plot came when I asked what would happen if a nice, fairly average girl accidentally rescued a bad guy, and their lives just kept on colliding. Those two ideas combined and took me places I never expected, but that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing about.

2. What genre does your book fall under?

I’m going with “Mature YA Fantasy.” Young adult themes, mature situations (though nothing as explicit as some readers would like, sorry!), romance, adventure, magic… it’s all so hard to pin down.

3. Give us a one sentence synopsis for your book.

When nineteen-year-old Rowan Greenwood accidentally saves the life of one of her people’s most feared enemies, she learns that all of her childhood wishes might just come true– that is, if the one thing she’s always wanted doesn’t kill her first.

(hint- it’s not finding Prince Charming.)

Now, let’s get to the juicy bits!

4. What does your writing process look like?

It varies, depending on the story. I’ll usually let an idea stew in my brain for a long time before I actually tackle it, letting ideas and plots mingle while the characters develop. Once I feel like I have the outline of a solid story with enough conflict and purpose to drive it, I’ll sit down do a very rough outline, and then get the first draft out. I don’t edit as I go– if I do, I never finish anything. I aim for 1000 words an hour when I’m drafting, but how long the draft takes depends entirely on what else is going on in my life at the time. Much as I’d like consistent 4000 word days, I’m usually lucky to get 2000 in. The first draft of Bound took a good seven months.

After that, I let it sit, read and revise, then have beta readers rip it to shreds. If the story seems worth pursuing, it’s on to actually investing money in it. I had an amazing editor for Bound who showed me how to make the story shine. Developmental edits can be pricey, but I’m glad I went that route for the first book. Then more edits by me, volunteer proofreaders, and starting the publishing process.

It sounds simple, but it takes a long time. I might work on more than one story at a time, and can’t devote more than a few hours a day to work. That first round of pre-beta revisions took a few years for Bound. I’m working on bringing that down as I become more experienced and confident.

5. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I’m not sure what counts as “strange”. Rewarding myself with chocolate during edits seems pretty normal. Characters having conversations in my head does, too. Most of my habits hurt productivity rather than helping it, so I probably shouldn’t share them.

6. What book do you wish you could have written?

That answer varies depending on what I’ve read recently that’s blown me away. Almost anything by Stephen King, especially his recent stuff. Unwind by Neal Shusterman had a concept and execution that I envy, and I wish I’d created Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass (Sarah J Maas). She kicks ass, but is still so human.

7. What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?

Right now, I’m going to say writing the blurb (sales/cover copy) for a book. Deciding how much to give away, making it sound appealing, and trying to make it different nearly drove me mad. I spent three weeks on it, and am happy with the result, but it was torture.

I don’t think I’ll like marketing much, either.

8. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Any variation of “just do it”. I spent years not writing, thinking that it wasn’t the right time, that I was too young to do it right, that someday I’d have more time and energy to tackle it properly. But the only way you get better is by practicing. So what if your first stories are crap? You need the experience. Shove them in a box and move on.

Part two of that is “finish what you start”.

9. What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author?

Being told my heroine was unsympathetic at times was rough. It can be hard to balance reader expectations with what seems realistic for a character. I felt that she had a right to be bitchy after being abducted, injured, terrified and lied to. Other people thought she should be apologetic for it so she’d be more likable, that she should be nicer to a man who she didn’t trust. It was hard criticism to take, and I hope I’ve found a balance even if I refused to give in completely on that.

Interestingly enough, no one seems to judge my male character when he’s being a jerk. But that’s another topic entirely.

10. Do you have any literary character crushes?

SO many. Most of them are just flings, though. Right now I’m starry-eyed over Jayden Feldall in Krista Walsh‘s Evensong series (cocky bastard, how I adore him), and when I was beta reading Emergence for KL Schwengel I developed a bit of a thing for Berk. Barbie (Dale Barbara) from Under the Dome. LOVE that guy. I haven’t spent time with him in years, though, since I lost my copy of the book. I hate what they did to him in the TV series. I need to buy that book again just to get rid of the bad taste. I don’t tend to go for super dominant males, so I have a hard time falling in love with a lot of characters in Romance these days. The exception to that is Soren in Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinners series. *drool*

I also tend to pick the wrong “team” in love triangles. [spoiler alert!] Loved Gale in The Hunger Games. Not a fan of Peeta.

11. How did you go about naming your characters? Do you choose names based on meaning/significance, or the way they sound or look?

I’m terrible with names. Really. Rowan and Aren didn’t get their names until I’d been working on Bound for over a year, and one character has had four different names (long story). The name has to fit the character. It’s nice if it has appropriate meaning, but I go more by the sound and feel of it. Names have to be easy to remember and pronounce, and I try to avoid anything that’s being used in a lot of other books.

Actually, I almost rejected Aren’s name because of its meaning. I thought I’d made it up, but then found it on a baby name site. It gives something away about his character, but I doubt most readers will look it up before they read. It was and is perfect for him. I let it stay.

12. Did anything surprise you about your book? An unexpected plot twist or uncooperative character?

Aren surprised me. He started as a major character, but didn’t get to tell his side of events. Events late in the story made me realize that I needed him to narrate at least a few chapters. With every draft he took over more and more of the story, and his voice became stronger. Even in the last round of edits, he got another scene and took over one that Rowan had told before. It’s been a difficult process, and getting into his head meant I had to do a lot of extra work solidifying his motivations. But I’m happy with the result.

13. What was the hardest scene to write in Bound

No spoilers! The hardest single scene to write was probably the climax. My editor told me that what I had didn’t make sense in terms of character motivation, and it was melodramatic. It needed major re-writes, and I ended up adding a lot of words, but it was definitely worth the hard work.

The other thing I found brain-meltingly difficult was writing scenes where characters explain world-specific concepts like how magic works. It can be hard to do that without slowing the story down, but so far readers seem pleased with how it’s all worked out.bound_promo

14. What does your protagonist think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author?

Good question. I doubt either Aren or Rowan would jump at the chance to have a coffee with me after everything I’ve put them through. I certainly haven’t gone easy on them so far, and there’s worse to come.

15. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

Hmm. There are things I’d change about how I wrote it. I’d show it to at least one reader sooner, before I thought it was perfect (ha!). But as for the story as it stands now, I don’t think there’s anything I’d change. There are no perfect books, but Bound is exactly the story I set out to tell.

16. Bound is the first book of a trilogy. Do you have the remaining books plotted? Do you know how the series ends?

Book two is drafted and in revisions right now, and I’m hoping to release it in February 2015. Book three is mostly plotted. I know how it all ends (and it’s hard not to talk about it, because it’s so exciting!), but I still have work to do on the middle before it’s ready for me to start drafting.

17. What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

I don’t know. It would be really cool if people picked up on seeds I’ve planted for things that come up in later books and asked me about them, but I can’t say what without getting spoilery.

18. What are you working on now? What is your next project?

Right now I’m working on revising book two of this trilogy. Once that’s off to beta readers, I’ll get back to edits on my Urban Fantasy novella, which early readers have been excited about. That’s always been a side project, but I think it’s actually going to make it to publication.



I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview with Kate, and are as excited about the release of Bound as I am.

And now for one of the most important parts…purchase links!




Barnes and Noble







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TEASER: Stones and Finger Bones

Today I’m offering up a little teaser from Stones to celebrate the completion of one round of edits. This excerpt features two of my favorite darlings, Tyr and Kostadin. *huggles*

Enjoy! 🙂


16th Day of Kuldakast

You only truly know life when you have known death. When you have felt Death reach icy hands inside your chest and settle round your heart. When death has knocked on your door, beckoning, “Come, brother.”

I should have died by now.

My disease eats away at the body, taking bits and pieces day after day. The Maker’s fever, as they call it, is a curious ailment. Unpredictable. Unfathomable in its destruction.Virtually unheard of. There are only a few known cases of Maker’s fever in hundreds of years of our race. The same magic that prolongs my meager life – destroyed it. Normally, extreme fatigue or unconsciousness will occur before someone reaches the point I did. But I went beyond the reach of my powers; farther than anyone I’ve ever know. Reaching for energy that was not there. So now I lay dying.

The healers speculate thirty more days at best. Hopefully I’ll make it till Bolvadur; I would dearly like to see the earth come alive once more. A year would be miraculous. By Maker’s chance I could be dead tomorrow. I’ve decided to write you, my dearest Erylie, as much as I can, for as long as I can. Maybe I can earn your forgiveness. I hope the most for your understanding. Understanding of my decisions. Understanding of how I became this man you claimed not to recognize. This husk. Empty shell. A slave to my power and my king.

I will not start at the beginning – there is little to be achieved by that. Let me start instead, at the beginning of the end.

It was a beautiful night, considering it was mid-Kuldakast. A full moon.Clear purple-black sky. Our breath frosted in the air around us. We stood on the top of a ridge, Kostadin virtually hopping with his excitement and anticipation. He turned to me with a big, childish grin, eyes bright with the fervor of our discovery. Even now, when I think of Kos, this is the image I see. Him: young, strong, sharply intelligent, carefree. Impetuous. Foolish. Oh so foolish. But then again, we both were.

The valley before us was covered in a thick blanket of fog – nothing was visible, not even the tops of the trees. I can still feel the strange pressure on my chest – pushing me back – when I wandered too close to the edge. Danger! My mind screamed. My legs itched to flee. Kos clasped my arm briefly before plunging fearlessly into the unknown.

The preternatural miasma clung to my limbs and clothes, dragging me down. I struggled to keep up with Kos’s labored breathing, since I could no longer see him. Quite suddenly – almost as if it had been swept away by unseen hands – the fog cleared. We were in an unusual circular depression in the ground. Trees and snow-covered underbrush surrounded us, but at our feet the land was resolutely brown and hard. The most curious aspect of the clearing was the five large towers, equidistance apart, forming a circle. They were not true towers, more like colossal obelisks that reached further into the sky than I could see. Thicker around than four men. They were glossy black and smooth, cracked through with a dark orange crystal that glittered like fire.

It was incredible, the feeling of standing there, the call of power. I could feel it on my skin, taste it in the air. Only a coward would resist the pull of such magic.

Kostadin felt it too; his hand was trembling as he reached out and laid a palm against one of the black towers. His face a mask of unbridled joy and triumph. We were standing in the annals of history. We had found what other claimed existed only in memory, or legend. We had found the place where the Consort had landed, after falling from the Maker’s arms. We had found the Rewengärd; the gateway to death.

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