Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Why Does Kayla Use Kris Daggers in the Empress Game Trilogy?

27 days until Cloak of War releases, and I can’t wait! Today I’ve got something special for you: an excerpt from Cloak of War! And not just from the beginning, either.

Today, Kayla answers something you may have been wondering about for a long time. (Or not!)

Here it is, in her own words, when she’s asked that very question by IDC Agent Hekkar Tial, Second in Command of Malkor’s Octet:

“Why kris daggers?” Hekkar finally asked, as if the question had been bugging him since they met. He gestured to the pointed tip. “I mean, they’re sufficient for stabbing, and the curves give it a wider blade track without the weight of a wider weapon, but. . . .”

Kayla chuckled. “Believe me, I know. Kris are rarely sharpened and hardly hold an edge. When it comes to cutting and slicing, a straight-edged dagger beats them for sheer utility.”

“Why would you use a blade that is less than perfectly efficient?”

“Credits. It’s all about the credits.” At least it had been when she was on Altair Tri and desperate for a way home. “This isn’t a ro’haar ceremonial weapon or anything. It’s an affectation, pure and simple. Showmanship.” Kayla looked at the wavy edges of the weapons that had surprisingly become her dearest possessions. “On Ordoch I trained with every type of weapon conceivable—and even things that you’d never think of as a weapon.” She smiled at the memories of fighting with a rolling-pin, a shoe, and musty piece of fabric. “You never know what you’ll have at hand when your il’haar needs protecting.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Sure, I went around armed with a plasma blaster, but my people had long ago figured out how to disable advanced weapons electronically. I couldn’t count on that. So I also wore two knives. Armed with low-tech and high, like a true ro’haar.

“When I landed on Altair Tri and realized the only way to get Corinth home was to earn an obscene amount of credits and purchase a ride back to Wyrd Space, I adopted the Shadow Panthe persona.”

“And fought in the pits,” Hekkar said.

“Exactly. Fighting in the pits isn’t about skill. I could have beaten most of my opponents armed with a pickle.” Kayla set her kris aside, its edge perfectly sharp. “Fighting in the pits—and drawing the biggest purse per fight—is all about showmanship. I learned that early on.”

“And so the kris?”

She nodded. “No one fought with kris daggers. They were unique. Exotic. They played into my mysterious Shadow Panthe persona. I made them work. And in the end, I could demand more credits per fight based on my ‘alluring mystique.’”

Hekkar seemed to take that in. It was refreshing to discuss weapons with a person who understood the balance between form and function, who valued lethality above all. Just as she’d been taught. One did not plan to detain your il’haar’s attacker. A ro’haar killed first, and investigated the attack after your il’haar’s safety was assured.

Wait until you see what Kayla and the octet are up to in Cloak of War, Book 2 of the Empress Game!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sneak Peek at Cloak of War's Acknowledgements!

Today’s sneak peak for Cloak of War is a look at the Acknowledgements for my book. Not quite as exciting as the dedication, but still crucial. I love having the opportunity to thank people who helped me, but also, I can include a nugget of information helpful to other authors looking to be published!

Here is the acknowledgement section:

Every book of mine starts with a huge “thank you!” to my critique partners, Jen Brooks and Diana Botsford. These two wonderful writers and friends improve my writing with their insightful critiques. In addition, they keep me accountable for meeting my goals. I couldn’t do this without them! I’m also lucky to have a supportive network of writers in my SHU family – the alumni and faculty of Seton Hill University’s graduate program in Writing Popular Fiction.

Thanks must go to the wonderful people at Titan Books who have been so supportive of the Empress Game trilogy – you make me feel like a rock star. A special thanks to my editor, Natalie Laverick, who took the reins on book two and helped me sharpen everything. Thanks to my agent, Richard Curtis, for all he does behind the scenes to keep things moving, and for all he does to keep me sane.

Most importantly, thank you to my family and my husband. I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for all of you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Now, you might be wondering why I mention my agent and editor by name in the acknowledgement section, when I could just say “agent” and “editor.” I use their names because of a piece of writing advice I see given to new authors all of the time. The advice is, “Check out other authors who write what you write, look at their agent and editor, and submit your manuscript to those people. They are the most likely to accept your manuscript because they clearly enjoy your particular subgenre and style. I’ve always been told, “Look at the acknowledgements to find out who their agent is,” but so few people include that info!

So, for all you newbies out there, I am including Richard’s and Natalie’s names. I hope this helps you in your pursuit of publication! :)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cloak of War Releases in 45 Days!

Cloak of War, Book 2 in the Empress Game trilogy, releases in 45 Days! You know what that means…. It’s time for some exclusive content to get you psyched!

First up: The dedication.

Cloak of War is the book that was never meant to happen. I initially wrote The Empress Game as a standalone novel. (Due to the fact that my earlier fantasy novel received rejections that said, “We love your writing and this book, but it can’t stand alone, it ends on a cliffhanger. Send us a different book!”) I was pretty pleased with myself for wrapping EG up in one book. (Even if the ending was cheesy.)

Naturally, Titan Books said, "Can you make this a trilogy?" /d’oh!

I really struggled while writing Cloak of War, and it wasn’t until close to the end of the first draft that I fell in love with the story. After wrestling with this book for a year, it’s finally done and off to the printers.

And who, you ask, is this very crucial second book dedicated to? The book built upon my sweat and blood and tears?

Here’s the official dedication:

This book is dedicated to my amazing husband, James Douglass. 
Not only is he my biggest supporter and best friend, but he also gave me the greatest gift a writer could ask for: Time.
Dear James, I hope you hear all of the unspoken words in my heart when I say, “I love you.”

How did he give me Time? Easy. He convinced me to quit my day job and write full time so that I could make my deadlines. I took a 75% cut in pay when I made the transition, but James didn’t worry about it for a second. He knew writing made me happiest in the world, and he was willing to sacrifice so that I could work my dream job :)

It’s no wonder that this book is dedicated to him!

Until later,

-Rhonda :)