Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Private Affair (excerpt)


Hi everyone, and welcome back to Too Many Books to Count! I'm so glad you stopped by! 

As with every Thursday this month, today is excerpt day—and I've picked out a particularly good one, if I do say so myself. If you know much about the Druid Novels, then you know I'm fond of my female characters. You know I write a good heroine, a woman who doesn't take any guff. And with this excerpt, I hope to show you just how different the story can be, when you start at the very beginning. 

Everyone, meet Delilah. 

(yeah, yeah, I know you already met her—but you'll get a better glimpse of her, here)

[love]

{Rani Divine}

Excerpt from Anialych: People of Sand

By Rani Divine

©Copyright RAD Writing, 2019

I’d dreaded it all morning, but I’d carried through with everything that was my duty. Zion’s breakfast had been made before he woke, Aran and Yosef had had theirs shortly after he’d gone for the day, the water basin was cleaned, dishes were washed, the floor was swept, the hearth was dusted and wiped, and a fresh kettle of water had been hung over the fire. Tea would be ready by the time Rhaden arrived. Fresh cakes were cooling on the dining table, their scent wafting through the house, and now I stood by the kitchen table, staring out into the beautiful world beyond, the place to where I knew the voice had called me.
 I should’ve gone. That was my one chance, and I feared that I’d lost it. Once my suitor came to this house, I would have no future ability to leave Tywed. Unless by some miracle he decided that I was not worthy to become his match, things would only progress from here. The first meeting was only the beginning. Next time we would be allowed to meet in his home, in the place where he intended to take me. The time after that we could walk in the streets of Tywed, as long as I kept my arm in his. This was Aran’s choice, his way of helping me out of the shadows after the incident with Sheia. People believed I was a risk, that I had somehow allowed a spy to befriend me and had told her as much as I could about Tywed—but I’d done no such thing, at least, not with an enemy.
 For my part, I understood why Aran wanted to go through with this. The longer he waited, the more tarnished my name could become. But I didn’t care about any blemish upon my name. I could’ve remained unwed for the rest of my days and I wouldn’t have minded, if only I could do the things I so wanted to do. Aran couldn’t understand that. He was a man. He already had everything that wanted. Things weren’t the same for me as they were for him.
 My eyes were fixed upon the horizon and the two druids standing there. They hadn’t moved this morning, and I believed they were watching me, waiting for the time when I came to them. I wished that they’d come here last night, that they’d taken my hand and led me away from Tywed and every memory I’d ever had in this place, and the places I’d known before. Scarrah wasn’t much better than here, especially after Mother and Father’s deaths.
 I couldn’t still the tremble in my hands as the minutes ticked past. Aran and Yosef were still outside in the fields tending to the freshly planted crops—Tobias helping them before he took the sheep to pasture, if I’d heard correctly—but it was only a matter of time before Rhaden arrived. There was no longer any point in wishing. Everything was set, the deal had been struck. The only thing left to do was for Aran to come back inside and prepare himself for the arrival of the chosen suitor. As soon as Rhaden arrived, what I’d known as life would cease.
 By Zion’s instruction, I’d worn my finest dress and my best shoes, pulled my long hair up into a braid that wrapped into a bun at the nape of my neck, and I’d prepared the house to look as decent as possible. I’d even tried to cover up the bags under my eyes and clean up as best I could, if only to appease my brothers. Zion wanted this to work. He genuinely wanted me to be happy, I believed. I tried my best to be understanding, even if I didn’t agree.
 A knock sounded upon the front door, and I nearly leapt out of my shoes. Slowly, cautiously, I turned toward it. Rhaden should not have come here without one of my brothers to chaperone the two of us on our first encounter. No one had said anything to me about this, the two of us being alone the very day we met. Before yesterday, I’d never even heard the man’s name.
 Taking a deep breath, I walked to the door. My heart pounded in my chest and my face burned with fear over who might possibly be on the other side of the wooden fixture. I took hold of the metal lever and pulled it up, lifting it out of the latch in the moment before I pulled the door inside and stepped out of its way.
 “Good morning,” the man there responded, bowing his head.
 “Good morning,” I replied, blinking rapidly to clear my mind. “May I assist you?” I asked.
 He reached out a tanned hand toward me and took hold of mine, his eyes seeming to marvel at the very color of my skin. “I believe I am to be expected,” he replied. “My name is Rhaden Dumah, I’ve spoken with your master, Aran.” I noticed he did not say my brother. I wondered if it was because if I’d been under the charge of a brother, it should’ve been my eldest brother. Aran was six years short of that.
My eyes widened as he lifted my hand to his lips, his eyes now lifting straight into mine.
 I froze in place, completely unsure how I should proceed. This was highly unusual. If it was intended that he should come here alone, one of my brothers should have at least warned me. It wasn’t right that it should be sprung on me like this, that I should be left to fend for myself when I knew next to nothing beyond the name of the man who now stood before me. I hardly even knew what I was meant to do when a match came to the house. My mother should’ve been beside me, coaching me through the process—and my brothers couldn’t have known how to take her place.
 Rhaden released my hand and stood there silently, apparently unbothered by the fact that I said nothing in response. I took the moment to look at him, my hands still trembling. He had short brown hair, not nearly as dark as my own. His eyes were the brightest green I’d ever seen in my life, and seemed to stare into the depths of my very soul. He wore the same militia uniform as Zion had when he’d gone this morning, his sword and knives still sheathed at his sides. Sweat had soaked through the chest of his shirt in a neat little line down the center, as though he’d dampened it that way on purpose. His lips curled up in the neatest of smiles even through the unkemptness of his stubbly beard, and his eyes glanced into the house behind me.
 “My apologies,” I said then, stepping out of the way. “I’ve forgotten my manners,” I added, gesturing to the dining table beside the hearth, where the cakes sat waiting. “Please, come inside.” My voice was shaking, but there was nothing I could do to stop it. None of this should’ve been happening.
 My suitor smiled and laughed to himself as he stepped into my home, and I glanced behind him out the door, hoping to see Zion coming up the street a short distance behind.
 “I was under the impression that Aran or Zion would—”
 “I requested that I speak to you alone,” Rhaden said, cutting me off. “I believe it best for a man and woman to speak alone to know whether or not they might be suitable for each other.”
 I nodded slowly and closed the door behind us, leaving it unlatched in the hopes that Zion might come strolling in at any moment. I may not have known much about matching, but I knew this wasn’t proper in the slightest. If Aran was trying to keep my name from tarnishing further, I doubted this was the way to go about it.
 When I finally convinced myself to turn round, I found Rhaden standing in the kitchen looking out the window at the fields beyond. He’d removed the belt that held his weapons and left it on our dining table—something Zion would never have done in all his life—and his hands were now clasped behind his back.
 By my guess, he was perhaps a decade older than me, but that wasn’t so uncommon for matches. There were light little wrinkles around his eyes and forming even upon his hands, but not so much that it seemed I would wed an old man. There was still youth in him, the same as there was in Zion. More than age, I saw wisdom behind his eyes. When he’d looked at me earlier, when he’d looked into my soul, I’d practically felt the knowledge there.
 Now, he turned and looked me in the eye. “It is an honor to meet you, Delilah,” he said.
 “And you,” I replied, out of politeness more than anything else.
 “Come to me.” He held out his hand in front of him, and I was obliged to go to his side and take it. My nerves were getting the better of me. I didn’t know if I should offer tea or cake, if I should show him the house, or if I should point out the two Anialych standing on the horizon. My eyes were wide, uncertain, but I stood beside him all the same, trying to convince myself that there was nothing to fear. I saw no fury in his eyes, nothing that would hint at his being a cruel sort of man.  There was nothing of my father in his eyes.
 Rhaden smiled to me, in a gentle sort of way, and the corners of my mouth lifted of their own accord. I hardly realized I was even smiling until he reached out and took my other hand, his fingers playfully teasing mine.
 “Why did you want us to be alone?” I asked before I even knew I was speaking.
 He inhaled slowly, those green gems still piercing into me with a power unlike any I’d ever witnessed before, and his smile brightened. “I would like to get to know you,” he said. “While your brothers are here you’ll be obliged to speak as they want you to.” He squeezed my hands. “I want you to speak to me as a friend, in confidence, if that is what it takes.”
 My eyes narrowed. No man ever wanted to get to know a woman before they matched. I’d never heard of that happening—not from Mother, from anyone in any of the families back in the plains, nor from anyone here. Though I did not know many people, I knew what was considered usual, and this was not it. When a man met the woman he was to be matched with, his goal was always to tell her what was to be expected, when she moved into his home. They were to find if they were compatible, if the man found the woman suitable enough to wed. Nothing akin to this.
 “Why?” I whispered.
 “Because beauty is one thing, and brains are another.” He winked. “I don’t want to spend my life with a woman who hates all that I am.”
I nodded, my heart still pounding and my hands still trembling though they were still held within his.
 “I’ve made you afraid,” he mused then, looking down at my hands. “It was not my intent, lovely one.” He lifted both my hands to his lips, his eyes again hollowing out my soul. “I want you to be comfortable with me, in every way.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Bloop bloop


Hi everyone, and welcome back to Too Many Books to Count! I’m glad you stopped by. All month long, we’re celebrating all things druid. Why? Because the next of the Druid Novels, Anialych: People of Sand, is all set to come out this coming March (with preorders opening in February, woo!)! And I’m so excited that it’s all I can think about.

So, Tuesdays this month, we’ve been talking about all the Druid Novels—and Thursdays, well, Thursdays have been the epic day when I share a new excerpt from my latest, Anialych! If you haven’t been around much this month, you’ll definitely want to go back and read what I’ve been sharing.

Today, let’s talk about the third of the Druid Novels to ever hit shelves.

Dwr: People in the Water


Now, as you know if you’ve been following the Druid Novels (or my work in general) for any amount of time, the novels have not been released in chronological order. That means the story, as you know it, hasn’t been happening in order. With the release of Dwr, we come to what is thus far the closest we’ve been to the beginning. Dwr, of course, is the second book, chronologically. Though it was the third to hit shelves. It’s the book that immediately precedes Coetir, and it’s the book that I so badly didn’t want to write that I tried to make it into something else first.

Yeah, you read that right.

Remember last week, when I talked about Cedwig being the real start to the series as a whole? The book that really opened my mind to writing this as a series, and not focusing on Coetir being a beautiful standalone novel?


Well, I was still fighting when it came time to write Dwr. Fighting so hard that I actually attempted to write a different seafaring novel. It’s called The Cauldron, and it’s horrible. Horrible, because the story was supposed to be for the druids. It was meant to be about the Dwr, about humanity crossing over the water and encountering these beings within it. But I really wanted to write something with pirates, and there couldn’t be pirates in the druid world. Why? Because if there were pirates, then someone would’ve been to the Coetir islands before, and that just wouldn’t do.

I spent almost a month working on The Cauldron. I still have everything I ever wrote for it, and occasionally I go back and read it to remind myself that I should never write a book just for the sake of writing a book.


That’s not why I write. I write books with reason, with purpose, not just for writing’s sake.

I digress.

Thing is, Dwr became one of my favorite books in an instant, when I finally sat down to write it. I love it. I really do.

I don’t know how to swim, so I had to improvise when it came to describing things like diving and water pressure, but I had a lot of fun doing it. Once I started writing, I could honestly see everything in this beautiful water world.

And though it was a bit of a mess by the time I finished, after being slightly muddied by my ever-present desire to be writing a pirate book, I still loved every bit of it. Which made it a bit of a pain to edit. But the released version, I assure you, is my favorite of them. It’s beautiful. It’s perfect. It’s exactly as it was meant to be. And it contains one of my favorite characters of all time.

Next Tuesday, I’ll share a bit about the book I wrote in the shortest amount of time—and the book that required the least amount of editing, all because I loved it so much that I easily immersed myself inside it.


[love]

{Rani Divine}

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Go


Hi everyone, and welcome back to Too Many Books to Count! I'm glad you stopped by! 

Today, if you didn't know, is excerpt release day!  

To celebrate the upcoming release of my next novel, Anialych: People of Sand, I'm sharing excerpts from the book, every Thursday this month. (make sure to check out last week's, if you missed it!) 

I hope you enjoy this short, the beginning, the start of a world you all know well by now. 

[love]

{Rani Divine}

Excerpt from Anialych: People of Sand

By Rani Divine

©Copyright RAD Writing, 2019

“Go,” Sheyvu breathed as she released the hands of her sisters, sending them off to their own lands. The choice had been made during the night, with the death of the witch. Though not Sheia’s eldest daughter, Sheyvu was chosen by the Vartes to take charge of the people—and they had looked to her in more than slight confusion when she’d made her decision known. The Dewin could not be localized to the desert, not when humanity could very well have spread out in any direction from the plains. The Vartes had left pieces of Paradise here on this world, and they needed to be protected. The tree of souls within the forest, the pure lake and seeing stones in the mountains, resting rock in the Anialych lands, and the spirits of the Diafol and Esforos himself locked away within the islands and in the deep. Sheyvu’s people could not leave them alone, for humanity to find at every corner.
 One by one, her sisters left her sides. Corinne to the islands, Yeshu to the waters, Tzet to the jungles, Hythdor to the mountains, and Meena to the plains. They each had their own following of seven Dewin, Dewin who would be used to form their own species within their designated lands.
 As soon as they left the desert, they would no longer be the concern of Sheyvu, nor even her own kind. The Vartes would give them means to speak to one another, as had always been. No matter the distance between them, they would always be as they were now—sisters, to the very last—but their realms would be their own. Coetir, Dŵr, Cedwig, Mynidd, and Cayau they would be called. 
 None looked back as they started upon their way, leaving Sheyvu and her hundred remaining Anialych to watch them leave. She was glad that they did not turn back to her. It meant they were prepared, that they agreed in her decision. Truthfully, the sisters had instigated the idea together. They’d worked as they always had in mother’s absence, voting on what would be the best way to proceed, and they’d known this was the path the Vartes had chosen for them. Humanity was restless within the plains, and the Dewin needed to hold the world in stewardship until humanity was ready to receive it. Even the plains themselves needed to be cared for, and to them Sheyvu sent the strongest of sisters. Meena would not be broken down, even under so great a charge.
 “What are we to do now?” Aedan asked as he came up beside her, the highest among the wanderers—those most connected to the Vartes, second only to the witches.
 “Delilah holds the key,” she replied, still staring after her sisters as they disappeared into the vast mirage before them.
 In her heart, Sheyvu believed she was not yet prepared for what the Vartes asked her to do. Her mother had meant everything to her in years past, and now Sheyvu would live the rest of her days as witch in her own right. Though she’d known since childhood that she would be named witch if the time came for her mother to be taken back into the heavens, though she’d borne the triquetra mark upon her wrist from the day of her birth, she did not yet feel readiness for the task at hand. Humanity had rejected them outright. Sheia had gone to them in the form of the humans, a right granted only to the high witch, and still they’d mistrusted her. Sheyvu didn’t even know what been done to her mother in the hours leading up to her demise. All she knew was that Mother was gone, and that now she was one of only two of her daughters to remain in the desert.
 Still she held her head up high, knowing the Vartes would bring her through this. She would not be asked to do anything that she did not have the strength or will to complete. The Vartes was by her side, even now. All she needed was to go to the humans, to make them understand, to show them the fault in their ways. But thus far, Delilah had been the only one willing to speak to any of them. And Sheia was the only one the girl had ever spoken with.
 “I cannot go there,” she whispered under her breath as she turned to look Aedan in the eye. “Do you understand?”
 “You wish for me to go to her, my witch?” His brow furrowed, and Sheyvu imagined what it would be like if he were allowed to turn human, how beautiful he would become if he could’ve taken on their form. Instead, the gift was given now to her and her sisters, to bridge the gap between human and Dewin. Sheia had called it a gift.
 “Watch her,” she answered. “Delilah will be alone now. She will be afraid.” She turned and looked back out at the red rocks and sand-filled plains beyond. “Give her time.”
 Silently, Aedan reached out and took hold of her hand. Now that Sheia was gone, her father was the only one who well knew the burden she bore. But without her mother beside her, Aedan seemed less of a father and more of a man who’d simply worked beside her mother all these years. In the lives of the Dewin, it was not necessary that Sheyvu’s father remain a part of her life. For the rest of her people, fathers and mothers were not even known. The trees surrounding resting rock were the ones who chose what pairs to join in the making of young. The high witch was the only woman required to bear children of her own body, with whatever man she saw best suited.
 Sheia had chosen Aedan.
 For his part, he had done his best to remain in their lives. But he was a wanderer, and it was not possible for him to remain in one place for very long. Every fiber of his being desired to be out there, to go and walk their land and pray to the Vartes. That was his charge. To go out into the deserts and speak to the land, to pray to the Vartes for Paradise to be returned to them all.
 And yet, Sheyvu could think of none better to see to his mate’s final mission. Her father was the best option available to go to Delilah and to bring her deep into the desert, to resting rock. The girl would be the first human to lay eyes upon it, to see the whole of the Anialych with her own gaze. For now, Sheyvu could only hope that Delilah would be prepared for the things of the future. Already, Sheyvu felt as though she’d seen far too much.
 “Go,” she urged, releasing Aedan’s hand. “Please.”
 He nodded and turned toward those who stood behind them, toward resting rock. “Return to your duties,” he said to the crowd. “The witch has made her choice.”
 Sheyvu’s eyes drifted down to the mark upon her wrist, the symbol that would forever tell her people of the family to which she belonged. She was the daughter of Sheia, the first witch to ever be born upon this world. Even in her wildest of imaginations, she did not know if she would be as successful as her mother.