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I’m done, I’m done. I’ll pretend like this is the final cover and the final title. My friend pointed out that if it’s accepted by a publisher that they’ll probably change the title and the cover. I’m not so sure that I’ll be able to be published, but I am going to submit to at least two or three publishers before deciding to self-publish. I think I already have decided to submit my novel to one specific publisher, so my plan is to have it all edited and finished in time to send it to them before summer (mostly because when at school I can print all the submission pages with my school print credits and not pay for ink (well, not directly, I’m still paying thousands in tuition)).

But since I’ve been mucking about all day (really, all I’ve done is nap and use fake photoshop for covers I won’t use) here is an excerpt from Woman of Fire, Man of Ice. Or rather, Kiss of the Fey, now. I just don’t know.

Xenos scowled as he looked down on the beach. Orion was standing at the tide line, teetering along on his staff and looking every bit the old fool that he was. Deep wrinkles ran down his face, and his skin hung off of his bony frame. He was tall and stooped, with hands so gnarled they looked like claws. Even at a distance, Xenos could see the bright blue eyes, framed by bushy white brows, that denied all knowledge of the advancing age of the face upon which they sat. The eyes could have belonged to a newborn baby.

Scowling at the twinkle in those blue eyes, Xenos slowly led his horse down the cliffs until he reached the sand. At his command, his men waited for him above as he approached the old warlock. By the time he had ridden down the beach Orion was bent over leaning heavily on his staff, looking, apparently, for seashells.

“Why hello! The beach is always lovely this time of year, wouldn’t you say?” Orion asked, his deep voice booming. His robes were in surprisingly good condition considering his long journey. His sandals, however, were in poor condition, and Xenos wondered if he would need to give Orion his own shoes before they made it to the nearest village to buy some. The old fool was constantly inconveniencing him.

“You’ve gone too far this time,” Xenos said, riding up and dropping from his horse. Lovely indeed. He hated the beach. His kingdom of Malum was cold year round, with snow covering the ground seven months out of the year. Orion had fled so far south that they were in the kingdom of Blairford, the southernmost kingdom on the continent. Malum was the northernmost kingdom. Xenos had not enjoyed the chase, nor did he enjoy the climate. It felt as if he was swimming through the air, and already he could feel the sand from the wind getting all through his clothing. The horses didn’t like the change in weather either, and their progress had slowed the further south they’d gone. They were mountain-bred horses, meant to stay in the mountains. Xenos himself felt sure that he hadn’t been meant to leave the cold peaks either.

“Or not far enough,” Orion said. He turned and smiled at Xenos, holding a large seashell in one hand. “It is your first time here, is it not? Perhaps you should enjoy yourself.”

Xenos grit his teeth. The waves of the ocean were choppy and full of white. The sky was overcast and there was lightening in the distance. Xenos felt satisfaction in the fact that the weather was reflecting his mood rather nicely, even if that meant that there was a good chance he and his men would be caught in the storm. “Must I use force to move you?”

“No, no, of course not,” Orion said, smiling. He started handing the seashell to Xenos. Xenos almost took it before he saw the gleam in Orion’s eyes. His eyes said “yes, trust me,” but the gleam said “trusting me could be your biggest mistake”.

“What have you done to it?” Xenos asked. Old, dried-up warlock that he was, Orion still had some magic in him. In his prime, Orion would enchant various objects with very powerful spells. He could enchant a crown to induce obedience from a king’s subjects. He could make a ring that would transport the wearer to any destination he wished. Now, Orion had the ability to enchant a seashell to give a nasty shock to whoever touched it. Xenos had learned to be wary.

“Nothing, nothing at all,” Orion said unconvincingly. He shoved the seashell into Xenos’s hand. “Just a trinket, that’s all. Wouldn’t you carry it for me? It’s amazing what you can hear with it.” Nothing happened, so Xenos slipped the shell into the pouch hanging from his belt. Nearby, his horse made a noise as it studied the waves curiously. “I’ve missed the sea. It’s so pleasant here.”

“Is it? I hadn’t noticed.” Xenos looked out at the waves as the wind whipped up and sand blew into his face and hair. He shivered and ignored the look Orion gave him. Even there, he was cold. He had never gone so far south because he had wanted some hope left that the heat could warm him. Yet at a temperature that would make any other man sweat, Xenos and his frozen heart were completely unaffected due to his curse.

“So, have we any plans?” Orion asked pleasantly as Xenos lifted the old man up to his own horse.

“Yes,” Xenos growled. “We’re going home.”

“Oh, certainly not.” Orion shook his head. A lone colorful bird flew overhead, crying out and drawing Xenos’s attention. The south was a strange place.

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