Huzzah! Years worth of effort is finally paying off.
Ascension is under contract.
My dark, epic fantasy finally has a home.
Labour of Love
For years, I’ve been toiling with this series, especially since it spans a “few” books <insert giggle and a snort here>. I started writing the first installment while I was studying at university, except it didn’t get too far. Science degrees don’t necessarily allow for much “free time”, and what little time I did have went to working part-time, volunteering with a science club, and family.
After I graduated, I managed to do some writing. I even mustered up the courage to join a group on Facebook dedicated to Fantasy Writers, especially since the group’s focus is providing feedback to authors. With a grimace and some humility, I posted an excerpt from the very first scene. I didn’t know what to expect.
Rewrites, that’s what.
It wasn’t a terrible experience. I didn’t have the proverbial tomato thrown at me. Rather, a couple of generous authors (including Ascension‘s literary Godmother, Dianne Lynn Gardner) made kind suggestions that led to a full rewrite of everything I’d managed up until then. And it’s just as well because it was like cardboard: flat, stiff, and not very tasty. So I sucked it up and did it.
After that, the rest of the manuscript started to flow. I finished the whole first draft and started to realize it needed to be cut in half. So I did, and that’s where Ascension was born with its sisters, Descent and, eventually, Fragment. Then I started editing and haven’t stopped since.
Though I finally stopped editing enough to give it a shot in September 2014. After trying out literary agents for several months – going so far as being short-listed at one agency (SWEET!!!) – I made the decision to try the small press route. It’s not to say I’d never consider an agent again – because I would. It wasn’t a lightly-made decision. I thought about it for months. But after spending so many years on the story, I felt it was time to reveal it to the world sooner rather than later. I fully accepted the reality that I could spend years trying for an agent and never get one, or sign with a big publishing house.
I also worried that I might have to compromise some bits (mostly certain relationships a few characters get into) just to cater to the comfort levels of agents or publishers. I aspire to be an equal-opportunity author in all senses of the term, reaching well beyond the expected “one-boy-hooks-up-with-one-girl” norm, as well as other stereotypes. I don’t want to give those ideas of diversity up, meaning I needed a publisher that understands and respects that.
So, after careful consideration, I chose to submit to a publisher I’ve already worked with on other projects: Pagan Writers Press.
I submitted Ascension on September 26, 2014.
The contract was signed November 10, 2014.
So Now What?
I wait. Well, for the manuscript to get to an editor and be put through the wringer. In the meantime, I’ve been mucking around with promotional stuff, as seen from previous blog posts. The series website has begun and will be built over the course of the year, with the final reveal closer to the release date (TBD). The map has been hand-drawn by fantasy cartographer, John Renehan, and it looks beautiful. I’ve finally settled on what I’d like to see on the cover. And I’m making a list of further edits I’ve found since handing the manuscript over… some of which make me a little embarrassed to admit they got through. Thankfully, that’s what extra sets of eyes are good for!
Without Further Ado… About the Novel: Ascension
I’ve posted a temporary, more professional sounding blurb here, but for this post, I’d rather just kick back a little and be casual. So what’s it about?
A boy who said no.
A boy who said (figuratively) “I’ve had it with your crap”.
A boy who ran.
While the series is written from the POV of multiple characters, the books still revolve around one central character: Quji, a man who grew up in a violent home in a military state but found his way out. He wants a peaceful life, a productive life. One he can be proud of. He wants to be himself. He wants to be free and do good. And his courage is often rewarded in ways he never could have imagined.
Except that doesn’t mean his life is any easier. Far from. One choice after another drags him through a rather screwed up world. He’s a young man at a turbulent time when nations are on the verge of war. Resources. Power. Control. It’s the same old reasons our real world has dealt with for millennia. And while Quji doesn’t want any part of it, he soon finds out that what he wants isn’t how things work. He’s thrown in the middle and expected to deal.
Not only does it rob him of everything he was hoping for, but it will damn near kill him.
And that’s how a hero is born.
Ascension is book 1 in the Blood & Heritage series and takes the reader to where the story really begins for Quji. The series then follows him and his family through their trials and triumphs, weaving in and out of the world issues they have to deal with just to survive.
It’s an epic (high) fantasy set in a secondary world, but it’s dark. I mean, DARK. To compare it to other works people know, my best description is: Terry Goodkind meets George R.R. Martin meets Marion Zimmer Bradley meets Sherrilyn Kenyon. The book touches on a few sensitive issues, particularly domestic abuse and rape, and the effect they have on individuals and families – and the effort it takes to break the cycle. Add a touch of trafficking, extortion, and crime, and it’s full of dramatic situations.
So audience discretion is advised. To say there’s a trigger warning is fair. This is an adult epic fantasy just like the TV show, “Game of Thrones”.
On the other hand, there’s also lighter stuff to balance out the dark. Epic fantasy should be a mix of a lot of things and this isn’t an exception. Humour, the beauty of innocence, and romance (with some *cough, cough* explicit scenes *cough, cough*). I’d like to think there’s a bit of everything so every reader can find something to enjoy.
And just because I can’t wait to share… a teensy excerpt to whet the appetite:
If he tried–if he was good enough–he could bring them back. This could not be their end. Not here. Not like this.
The words came to him quickly, his inner voice screeching spells. His hands grew hot, and he pressed his fingers deeper. Magic pulsed, spiraling out from his core, sending waves and threads of energy through him to Eliina and Gilin. While he could not feel their life energies flowing back, he willed the magic further. With each push, he took a deep breath. He could not breathe enough.
His chest hurt. First a dull discomfort, then a stabbing pain.
Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t–
The pain blazed through his head, raced through his chest, and shot through his stomach into his legs.
Yelling, he fell backwards. Wiping his face on his sleeve, he realized he was crying.
He pawed at Eliina’s face, splotched with dried blood from the gaping wound at her hairline and streaks of blood from his hands. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I never meant for this to happen. Please come back. Please,” he begged, taking her hand in his. Her fingers sat wrong in his palm. Someone had crushed them and bent them until they broke.
It was not enough to kill the first people to take a chance on him. They had been tortured, too.
He could guess why.
And to specifically follow along with the story’s progress, and its parent series, use these hashtags: #AscensionEpic and #BloodandHeritage. I’ll be tagging updates, release information, website links, launch parties, and any giveaway events! *Hint hint* There might just be a few of those… *whistles and walks away*