I will say that 2018 was the year I planned to get a lot more writing done--and then didn't. But I also ended the year on a high note by signing a contract with Dreamspinner for Anhaga, an m/m fantasy romance about a guy who gets railroaded into kidnapping a rich man's recalcitrant grandson and delivering him back to his awful family. There is magic, kings and noblemen, an awesome sidekick who might just steal every scene he's in, and a surprising number of mentions of eels.
Here's the opening scene of Anhaga, which may or may not survive the editing process:
The dawn limped in like some boot-scraping bastard, slow and lame, and dragging the sunlight behind it like a crippled limb. Min groaned, and rolled over to put his back to the window.
“You’re lying on my hair,” someone told him.
Min peeled his eyes open. “Ah,” he said.
He had a vague recollection of this woman. Vague enough that he remembered sharing a smile and more than one drink with her last night. And sadly vague enough that he doubted he had acquitted himself well. The woman’s arched eyebrows told him as much.
He shifted back slightly, and let the woman tug her tresses of red hair back to herself.
“Aiode,” she told him, holding out a pale, freckled hand. She kept her other arm clasped across her chest, keeping the blanket from slipping down and revealing what Min was sure was a lovely bosom. “Aiode Nettle. Since I’m sure you don’t remember.”
The surname surprised him a little. Min wasn’t in the habit of bedding the Gifted, even though with the name Aiode had chosen she was probably ranked no higher than a hedgewitch. Clearly he’d made an exception because Aiode, even with her tangled bed hair and lines on her face from the pillow, was beautiful.
“Aramin Decourcey,” he said, shaking her hand.
“That’s quite a mouthful,” she said.
“I’m more than a mouthful, sweeting.”
“So you promised last night,” Aiode told him. She raised her eyebrows again. “Sadly, you did not measure up.”
Min was too hungover to be truly offended. He rolled back over and squinted at the shaft of light stabbing through the sagging shutters and then, figuring that the day was already ruined, sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. His soles met the gritty floor.
The garret room was cheap; its only recommendation. That, and the view over the back alley behind the Footbridge Tavern. Min did most of his work out of the tavern. His work wasn’t exactly reputable, and Min liked to know if it tried to follow him home like a tick-ridden stray. The view of the alley afforded him at least a little forewarning.
Min blinked around the room.
Pants. Pants pants pants.
He wasn’t much of a gentleman, not in any sense of the word, but pants were probably in order. He spotted his breeches in a rumpled heap over by the damned window, and levered himself off the bed to go and fetch them. He picked them up, shook them out, and stepped into them. When he turned back to face Aiode, she had the look on her face of a woman who had very much enjoyed the view but wasn’t going to puff up his pride by mentioning it.
Please. Min knew his ass was a thing of beauty.
He smirked at Aiode, and then bent down to pick up his shirt. He tugged it over his head. “Well, I’d invite you to stay and break your fast with me, but…” He gestured around the room. “As you can see, I have neither a kitchen, nor food.”
“Even if you had both, I’m sure I would decline,” Aiode said, casting a critical gaze at the grimy floor, the spider’s web hanging in a corner of the water-stained ceiling, and the collection of empty bottles that littered the floor. “I’m expected back at the shrine in any case.”
The closest shrine Min knew of was the Shrine of the Sacred Spring. Aiode was definitely a hedgewitch then. Of all the Gifted, hedgewitches were the least objectionable. Their powers were generally benign, and grounded in nature. They helped to ensure good harvests, and rains, and although most were based in the city they regularly travelled the countryside to offer their service to the kingdom’s farmers. Hedgewitches were generally looked down upon by the rest of the Gifted, which Min felt was a point in their favour. The singlepoint in their favour.
“Well then,” Min said.
“Well,” Aiode echoed, narrowing her eyes slightly.
Min feigned interest in a book Harry had left lying around. Harry and his damn books. The boy was too curious for his own good. Besides, books were expensive. Although Harry had undoubtedly stolen the one Min picked up and leafed through. Min had taught him well.
Behind him, Min heard the rustle of fabric. He was tempted to turn around and at least give himself a good look at what he’d missed out on last night, but Aiode gave the impression of a woman well versed in testicle kicking, and Min didn’t want to provoke her. Also, she was Gifted. True, a hedgewitch probably couldn’t do much but try to curse him with a few warts here and there, but there was no point in risking it. Not the warts, of course, but exposure.
Min had a gift of his own as it happened, and he preferred to keep it secret.
“I shall see myself out,” Aiode announced.
Min set Harry’s book on the rickety table and turned around again. Aiode was wearing a plain green kirtle over a white smock. How disappointingly modest.
“I’ll walk with you to the street,” Min offered. “Some of my neighbours, alas, are not at all gentlemanly.”
Aiode raised her eyebrows. “Do you think me incapable of protecting myself?”
Min flashed her a smile. “Not at all. In fact, I was relying on you to protect me.”
Aiode laughed, the sound genuine and boisterous, and, for the first time since he’d fumbled into wakefulness, Min realized why he’d invited her back to his bed the night before. He’d always fallen hardest for women who didn’t put up with any bullshit. And Aiode’s bullshit detector, Min guessed, was as finely tuned as his own.
Clearly he needed to never see her again.
And as we close out 2018, I hope that 2019 brings you and your families everything you've been hoping for.