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Posts Tagged ‘Dragon wine’

I’m up to my knees in NaNoWriMo and Skyfire, Dragon Wine Part Five, and these wonderful things occur to me. I really need to work smarter. As a mature woman you think I would have had all this worked out by now, but I don’t.

It started at first with labelling my hats. You see I make hats and I put them in hat boxes and every time I wanted to show someone a hat I had to pull them all out and look at each one. Then I bought a labeller. OMG! They all have labels now so I can find them a lot easier.

Now we have started labelling food that goes into the fridge and the freezer. Have you ever come across some frozen mass and thought-What the hell is that? Or mmm should it go or should it stay? Or Oh Joy Steak! and then frowned wondering when was the last time your bought steak and was it left overs from your 50th birthday party seven years ago?

So joy! We are labelling shit. The fridge well that just keeps on giving. I swear when I got back from Europe there was take aways in the fridge that I put there before I left. So to preserve lives and sanity, we are labelling stuff. Matthew I am pleased to say is getting on board. No more chances of inadvertently killing some one with some toxic pasta sauce etc. We just use masking tape and marker. Although looking at the packaging for the tape I see Matthew has bought food labelling tape. Good man!

Now why am I writing this and what does it have to do with NaNoWriMo. Well it would really help if I had a detailed plan of what I was writing. Never mind, I think that shit up just before each session and maybe I can get by with just me, my crazy mind and the seat of my pants. What really, really gets me is that I don’t have character descriptions. If I used my Scrivener I could do that as I went. But being lazy I am using word and do you think I wrote this stuff down? I want to write the colour of Eneit’s eyes. I’m pretty sure they are described somewhere in Deathwings or Bloodstorm, but grrr…If only I was more organised.

There is totally a theme here. I am throwing away old clothes. I’m too fat for some and as I no longer work in an office I don’t need others. But in the past, actually my whole bloody life, I think “Hey I have a pair of pants like that. Or where is that dress?” Only to discover after about a week of intense searching that I probably threw them away in the charity bin six months before. You think I would bloody well learn. Nope! So this time I am making a list so that I can check the list instead of doing a rampage search throughout the house and garage complete with expletives and many beeps.

There you go. I have a list. Silver business suit gone. Blue dress that was too short to be decent and you meant to add lace to the hem to lengthen it but you are too fat and old for it now. Gone. Etc. I have an issue with the shimmery blue and shimmery mauve tights though. Because as soon as I get rid of them, I am going to have some costume or some such that calls just for those tights. So they are going in the dress up tub. I just have to buy a tub and you guessed it-label the god damn thing.

So moral of the story. Be organised. If you aren’t organised. It is not too late to bring order to your chaos. I am on the last two bits of this series. Do I really need to write character descriptions now. Maybe, damn it maybe!

This post is brought to you by an insane, chaotic writer, who is behind on their NaNoWriMo project but is so happy that she is writing the said project that it is hard to stop dancing around the office and write.

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Back in this post I said I’d give an update after my Bookbub in October, which was for Shatterwing, Free, USA only. See previous Indie publishing post here.

I think my earnings for September were higher than I first anticipated because iBooks mixes up the currencies and it isn’t until you get the invoice notice that you know what you are being paid. I think I estimated $76 from iBooks and it was more like $126. Also, I didn’t twig that Amazon hadn’t paid me any US earnings…I guess I wasn’t too vigilant or whatever. The deal is that for all payments except for Australian sales I have to wait until I hit the $100 or equivalent. In October, I was paid out my USA earnings from April 2016 until August 2017. This is what I mean when I say notional earnings. There are timing differences and minimum amount requirements before you actually see any money.

In October, I bought Patty Jansen’s Indie publishing book called, Self Publishing Unboxed, The Three-year, No-bestseller Plan for Making a Sustainable Living From Your Fiction and read it. (link to the book is here)

I bought the second book which is focussed on Newsletters etc. The second book is a bit advanced for me but I’ll get there.

I’ve been receiving Patty’s advice for a while. She’s probably the reason I am where I am now. She has some very practically and insightful advice no matter where you are in the process. Her book gave me a few gems. Such as I opened up a dedicated bank account as per the book and I’m so pleased with that. I have changed over all the payments to that account and linked it to Paypal and have a debit card. This means that my Instafreebie dues come out of that account instead of my personal credit card. It means when I look at my accounts I can see my book earnings. You can’t imagine how exciting that is. Instead of them being swallowed up by bills or spending them. May aim is to be able to pay for my edit of Skyfire with my earnings. I think I’ve reached that goal, or I will when all the money comes through. I may even have enough for the proofreading costs too. In that I have reached my first goal, to support my creative life with my earnings.

The other thing that Patty has put me onto recently is Mark Dawson’s podcast ‘Self Publishing Formula’. I have found them to be useful and inspiring. When I get more time I’m going to implement a lot of that advice. Mark Dawson runs courses etc but I’m probably not there yet in terms of earnings and output.

So the Bookbub result. In all over 27000 copies of Shatterwing were downloaded. I had immediate sell through, though conversion wise iBooks was higher. I made the cost of the Bookbub back in a couple of days. Amazon reporting is the quickest, others I have to wait for like iBooks, Draft2Digital (which is just Barnes and Noble sales I think) and Streetlib for Googleplay.

Estimates of downloads per vendor

Amazon 20,000

ibooks 2,400

Google Play 2,800

Barnes and Noble 2000

Kobo 500 (note the free download counter isn’t working properly).

Sell through is still occurring. For example, including the November sales so far, I have half a per cent on Amazon. It’s not much but considering level of sales before it’s good. I expect that to increase by the end of the month. Whereas iBooks was 1.5 per cent straight off and will rise by the end of the month.

By conversion I mean people who get book one who go on to buy book two. The conversion after that is really good. For example, if they buy book two they pretty much by the rest of the series.

The good news for readers is that I’m writing Book Five, Skyfire at the moment for NaNoWriMo. I was going to write them during next year but as I was fishing around for a project for NaNoWriMo I figured I owe it to my readers. One reader left me a message of Goodreads asking what the timetable was for the rest of the series. And some lovely readers left messages on my Facebook page leaving lovely comments. They all helped me to decide on that. I was going to write a contemporary romance. Another time perhaps.

Other things that happened as a result of the Bookbub. I went from one follower on Bookbub to 88 and it is still rising. People who follow you on Bookbub get an email when you have a new release and also when you have a Bookbub deal. That’s awesome.

I’m still small bickies but I’m growing my readership which is what I want. I just have to finish the PhD and then there will be no stopping me. I have two series that I’m thinking of publishing and I have another novel that needs polishing with a possible series after that. Then there are the ideas for prequels and sequels to the Silverlands and Dragon Wine. I just hope I hold up physically.

Earnings for October I estimate at over $1500.

I will also get paid out accrued British Pounds as well as USD because I made more than 100 in each currency. So cash wish a bit more than that.

This is enough to fund my edit!

I forgot to mention that I had an iBooks promo early in the month in Australia. I had around 1700 to 2000 downloads, with follow on sales. I don’t know the conversion rates. Last time I looked it was around 2 per cent but I haven’t updated the figures.

 

On the day my Bookbub results were coming through I was in absolute agony with sciatica. I’ve never experienced anything like that. It should have been an awesome day. I’m really grateful for the chance to promote the books to new readers via Bookbub. It was totally worth it. I have submitted Argenterra for a Bookbub and been rejected. I’ll just have to keep on trying. Perhaps next year when the rest of Dragon Wine is out I’ll get another Bookbub. You have to wait 90 days between promotions.

 

 

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I was bright eyed and bushy tailed yesterday.

This morning not so much.

Of course there are a number of reasons for this. Yesterday afternoon I sent off Ungiven Land (The Silverlands Book 3) for proofreading after quite a while working through the toughest edits yet. It was going to take me a lot longer but on Sunday I hit of spot of chapters that had light edits and I pushed through them and built up some momentum. That left yesterday morning to finish it off. I had some family obligations during the day, but after that I did some more tinkering and sent the book off. It’s a bloody long book at 145,000 words.

Then yesterday evening, I picked up the revision I was doing of Bloodstorm (Dragon Wine Part 4) without much recollection of how much more I had to do. Well, I was further along than I thought so I pushed through and sent that book off to the editor last night. It’s a shorter novel at just under 90,000 words. I think I have more work to do on a battle scene but the edit will help with that I think. It gives me a month to think about it and make notes. I needed to push it off my plate as I have important PhD stuff to do.

So you would think after an excellent sleep that I’d be ready to roll and full of vim and vigour. Obviously my stories are still in my head. I was thinking about both of them while driving and drove right past two turns offs to my university and didn’t realise until I made a t-junction. Oops! So I had to go to another entry and park in a different spot. Then I realised I hadn’t brushed my hair. This called for emergency coffee and I hope  it kicks in soon.

After having these deadlines I don’t think I like them. I had listed Ungiven Land for pre-order on Amazon. For some strange reason beknownst only to my back brain I put down 31 May 2017 as the delivery date. However, I had not allowed enough time for processing proofreading changes so I had to push it back by two weeks. Amazon lock you out of the file about 3-4 days before release btw. I have had now had my pre-order privileges revoked for one year because I pushed back the date. Thank god for that. I can’t be tempted to put in hard dates that give me stress. I don’t want to do that again because that deadline plus the ones I had with the editors really put the pressure on.

As I don’t have more fiction planned other than putting up books of which I have the rights back, I’m going to give deadlines a miss for a while. I have my PhD novel to think about.

Fingers crossed I get some covers this week because Shatterwing and Skywatcher are ready to go. Deathwings and Bloodstorm the next two parts of the Dragon Wine series are coming soon.

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image imageIt’s the end of the year and there are festivals and religious events throughout the land. In our family we celebrate Christmas. Not so much as a religious holiday although we recognise the origins. For us, me and my kids, it is a time for being together, of overeating and present giving. It’s also a time to pause and reflect on family or our achievements over the  years, the growth in our waistlines (me) and the growth in the grandchildren.

christmas

Christmas time in Dweebenhiem

 

I think about why Christmas became such a thing for us. When I was growing up, Christmas was a thing and then when my parents split it was part of the divorce settlement or something as it no longer existed in my parent’s hearts. My mum was lackadaisical and my dad well he tried in a drunken adult sort of way. I grew up too early. Christmas became a source of pain from the age of ten. Getting up to no presents under the Christmas tree, knowing that there was no actual magic and delight and just feeling the pain of being and feeling alone, unloved and unnoticed.

silver tree

 

So when it came to having a family of my own I made sure that Christmas was a special time. When I was married, my husband and I decided to have a few traditions that would be ours. Even though we split a bloody long time ago, a couple of those traditions still linger. It is our tradition since Taamati was born to have trifle. It’s a simple dish of canned fruit, sponge cake, custard and cream. Sometimes it had coconut and even jelly, but the essential components remained. These last couple of Christmases my son has taken over a lot of the dessert making and has made the trifle into a new food group. It is really strange to me that we don’t have trifle at any other time of year even though it’s quite simple to make. It’s just the thing we have on Christmas. We also have pavlova! Because we are gluttons! Then I started to make plum puddings and Christmas cake too. Oh god! Just thinking of all this is making my belly ache.

tree

Tree decorated by the grandkids

 

We have tried to cut back on the food but it always remains the same with desserts I think. Taamati has taken to making those too. This year he lives in China and is only back on Christmas Eve so he’ll be excused from some dessert duties but not all.

nutcracker

The other tradition we adopted is that we have our celebrations on Christmas Eve. This goes back to me and my relationship with Tony. He was Italian and that is the traditional European celebration time. After I split from Tony, my kids asked me to keep it at Christmas Eve.  After nearly ten years they were used to that timing. It left them free to go to their partners’ family dinners on Christmas Day and I kept up the tradition of not cooking on Christmas Day. We just lie around watching movies and reheating food. These days I go with Matthew to visit his parents on the farm and share some turkey and salad and open presents. It’s a long haul – all the cooking—but these days it’s not too onerous. It used to take me three days to prepare. This year it was only two evenings.

 

My daughter also organised organic meats for the roasting and that’s very special indeed! We usually have antipasto-grilled vegetables, ham and other cold means,  prawns, tortillia de patatas, pasta, salads, cheese, olives etc etc. Then comes the main course, roasts meat of various kinds, turkey, lamb, pork, ham, chicken, with roast vegetables (potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato), spinach and cheese sauce, peas, gravy etc etc…and then there are desserts …somewhat later in the evening.

 

One of my daughters said to me that I always made Christmas special when she was young and we’ve kept that up. It was magical and fun and that’s what has carried over into adulthood. I recall when I started to study and I had little money and made presents. I was still sewing clothes for the dolls on Christmas Eve. (Back then we did the Christmas Day celebrations). She still remembers coming out to all the dolls in new clothes and the basket bassinettes. I did that every year. My kids were still having stockings until their twenties. Now with the grandkids we keep up the tradition. The young ones get to open their presents  Christmas Eve and wake up to their stocking on Christmas morning. Usually there are lots of presents…heaps of presents because they are all combined.

santa

So I treasure that the effort I put in meant something to my kids growing up and that they treasure it that much that they continue the tradition of making Christmas a special time. I love my family (and friends) and I love knowing that something I put a lot of effort into means so much to them and that if they keep it up their children will continue it on down through time.

Sigh. Merry Christmas everyone!

Oh and if you have  an new ereader and like dark fantasy then  my book Dragon Wine book 1 -Shatterwing is free!

Below is the blurb

Dragon wine could save them. Or bring about their destruction.

Since the moon shattered, the once peaceful and plentiful world has become a desolate wasteland. Factions fight for ownership of the remaining resources as pieces of the broken moon rain down, bringing chaos, destruction and death.

The most precious of these resources is dragon wine – a life-giving drink made from the essence of dragons. But the making of the wine is perilous and so is undertaken by prisoners. Perhaps even more dangerous than the wine production is the Inspector, the sadistic ruler of the prison vineyard who plans to use the precious drink to rule the world.

There are only two people that stand in his way. Brill, a young royal rebel who seeks to bring about revolution, and Salinda, the prison’s best vintner and possessor of a powerful and ancient gift that she is only beginning to understand. To stop the Inspector, Salinda must learn to harness her power so that she and Brill can escape, and stop the dragon wine from falling into the wrong hands.

Dragon Wine Book 2 :Skywatcher, the follow on book is also available in ebook and print.

Try the publisher’s website to the links to your retailer. Here.

Dragonwine

Dragon Wine Series

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I’ve been given a fantastic opportunity to be one of the guests at Supanova Pop culture expo in Sydney and in Perth. (Many thanks to Alex Adsett and Supanova). If you are interested in pop culture, cosplay, games, comics or in any of the amazing guests you should come along and enjoy yourself. If you see me then come and say hi to me too.

The Sydney Supanova starts on Friday 19 June at Sydney Showground, Olympic Park-an easy trip on the train.

Guess who is the major guest? Nathan Fillion.Remember Firefly?

There are stacks more of course, writers, actors, comic artists etc. I’m also quite keen to meet/see Graham McTavish (The Hobbit movies, Outlander). I am a big fan of Gabaldon’s books. Actually watching the series I believe Diana Gabaldon is quite dark-lots of brutality and attempted rapes etc so I don’t know why people are complaining about the Dragon Wine series being so grim. Gabaldon was being dark more than 20 years ago.

I’m going to Supanova! Be prepared for geek girl freakout by the Dweebette (me!).

Outlander_Cast_Dougal_420x560_v2

Photo borrowed from http://www.threeifbyspace.net/2014/08/outlander-twitter-qa-with-graham-mctavish/

I’ll be hanging with my mates, Karen Miller and Keri Arthur and also meeting KA Bedford in Perth. I haven’t seen Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta (international author guests) for some time so it will be great to catch up them too as well as meeting all the people I don’t know.

The dates for Perth are the following weekend 26 to 28 June at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

To celebrate the Supanova appearances, where I’ll be signing books and a limited number of print books will be available for purchase from the bookseller, Momentum Books have put Shatterwing and Skywatcher ebooks on special. So if you already grabbed Shatterwing when it was a freebie, now is the time to grab the second book, Skywatcher, for $2.99. Shatterwing is $1 so you can grab the set for under $4.

Hang on a minute. All my hard work writing this book and you can read it for less than the cost of a cup of coffee! How can this be? There are no steak knives, just grim dark fantasy, with a sci fi setting and dragons.

The special for the Dragon Wine series is currently on the Momentum website and iBooks (today) but it will filter through to other platforms. So it would be great for you to have a read and then come see me and say hello.

Dragonwine

My Supanova appearance will also allow me to put on my retro 50s dresses and petticoats and maybe even a hat or two. I’m so excited.

Me in my dress and shoes

Me in my dress and shoes

I love seeing the cosplayers, who create the most amazing costumes and some stay in character the whole day. All power to them.

I will also be handing out postcards of my other books, which are available as ebooks.

New RayessaSee you there!

Links

Supanova home page

My Supanova guest page

BTW Momentum are having a sale so there are lots of books on special right now. Momentum Books home page.

Momentum Books Shatterwing

Momentum Books Skywatcher

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This Australia Day weekend Russell and Kylie hosted a writing retreat. We usually  head off in January for a couple of weeks for a long writing retreat but events (work, $ and availability) conspired against us this year. I managed to get a day off so we could have a four day weekend.

Since my mother passed away on January 5 I have been flat emotionally and haven’t engaged in my usual activities. I’ve not cleaned Dweebehiem in a while and I’ve not really written anything either. I was able to put a few revisions through on book 3 of the Dragon Wine series as I had already marked them up on hard copy. So it was with delight that I headed to Double K ranch (Russell and Kylie’s house) to write.

At the last minute I decided to work on a dream project, something that had been at the back of my mind for more than ten years. It is a Regency Romance tentatively titled Tainted Lady. There is a lot of Regency Romance out there so I wanted to come at it with my own angle.

The heroine of this story, Matilda is a respectable widow, who has some issues in her past. She’s been a recluse since giving birth to her daughter at aged sixteen. Her daughter Sophia is now sixteen and ready for the marriage mart. Although her lovely sister-in-law is going to chaperone Sophia, Matilda must socialise as well at her brother’s home. Enter the hero, Sir Richard, who is a widower and a man who likes passionate women, particularly French ones. Now they get to make the sparks fly, as the nieces and the daughter are all angling for the eligible widower.

The issues I want to look at in this novel are to do with the results and issues left behind from indiscretions, particularly where the girl is not at fault and how a traumatic event can shape a life and deprive someone of their liberty, even if it is only socially. So Matilda has a history that she wants to keep private, whereas Sir Richard wants to discover it. Somewhere along that ends up in a love story.

I had hoped to get 20,000 words done. I could have aimed higher than that but I do have issues with RSI and I have a busy week at work from tomorrow. I’m set to meet my goal! I’m so excited about that. I have a scene to do that will take me past that so as it is still early in the day I may exceed my goal.

The rest of the year will be focusing on finishing the Dragon Wine Series but I think I’ll be able to tinker with Tainted lady in my spare, spare time. I have no idea if I can pull of the Regency Romance novel and I know I have a bit of research gaps in there, but I am going to try it anyway.

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Now that Shatterwing and Skywatcher are out there, I was thinking that there are things that I’ve written in the Margra setting that will never see the light of day. Maybe they were never meant to, but  I thought I’d share with you a scene from Salinda’s past. This was how she found Plu, the dragon as a hatching. You will also meet Mez, who had already passed on by the time of Shatterwing. It’s unedited and I wrote it about 2009, so six years ago.

Deleted scene, Salida finds Plu

Salinda ran, her bare feet throwing up dust as she left the curved perimeter of the prison vineyard. The lure of freedom beyond the dragon hatcheries compelled her forward. No guard would dare to follow her, fearing death on the plains or in the treacherous geothermal wastelands. Salinda knew that there was a way through for her. Had to be.

Glancing over her shoulder, she saw Mez, her elderly helpmate, dart out of a vine row and begin loping after her. Salinda groaned and increased her pace. Why did the old man follow her? What business was it of his whether she went or stayed?

Ahead rose the pockmarked ridge where the dragons laid their eggs in crevices, seeking the warm, sulphurous mineral deposits to nurture their young. If she made it past that, then there was a chance.

Putting her head down, she strove for a burst of speed, until the shadow of the ridge fell on her. Then she lifted her head to assess the rock face, choosing the best way to ascend. Veering to the left, she leapt onto a large boulder, gripping it with her toes. She made it up over the top and then scrambled up a section of red-brown dirt, grasping at protruding roots and clumps of vegetation to assist her climb. Dirt rained down on her head and shoulders, with some landing in her mouth. She spat out the grit and continued upwards, using a rock as a foothold to push her up to another level.

Mez called out. Looking down she saw that he had stumbled at the base of the boulder, his chest heaving. Maybe now he would cease dogging her steps but she doubted he would. Concentrating on each hand and foot hold, she continued to climb. Above her head, she felt a long flat stone. Hopefully it was a ledge where she could take a breather.

Then Salinda felt it, a disturbance in the air behind her. She stilled. Over her raspy breathing, she heard the sound of wing beat.

Her gaze slid to the right and then to the left. She was careful not to make any sudden movements. In her peripheral vision, she caught sight of the dragon. Exposed on the ridge face, Salinda assessed her options. To escape she could drop to the ground, risking possible death and certain disablement as the fall would snap bones and crush internal organs. The dragon was likely to devour her in one swallow but there was a chance she could avoid the encounter. A very slim one.

With her hands over her head, she further assessed the lip of the ledge. The dragon screeched as she heaved her body onto it. Frozen for a moment, she dangled there. The dragon did not strike so she moved, leaping to her feet and swinging round to face the dragon in a crouch, in time to see the dragon pull up, exposing the smooth scales of its under belly. A small reprieve. The rock face narrowed above her forming a cleft, making it difficult for the dragon, a female, to snatch her easily. It was clear though that on the next pass she would gain footing and take her.

The dragon’s approach mesmerised her as it swooped back, dark green and purple head slanting towards her, grey claws outstretched to grasp the rock face. Salinda took a step back, hoping for the comfort of the wall behind her. Her feet dislodged fist-sized rocks, which she nudged out of the way. The beast came at her—pointed snout, lower jaw ratcheting wide, preparing to rend. Instinctively, Salinda raised her arms over her head and stepped back again. The hot, rank breath of the dragon made her recoil. She stepped into nothing—a hole and slipped down, loose scree and stones assisting her slide.

Salinda landed hard, the impact forcing the air out of her lungs and leaving her with arms and legs splayed. She had fallen into some sort of fissure or cave. The dragon’s frustrated cry vibrated the air around her as it clawed at the rocks and soil around the opening.

Salinda dragged in a painful breath, fearing she had broken a rib. Foul dragon’s breath poured from the snout hammering at the opening, as it moved closer and closer. Helpless, Salinda lay there watching the entrance enlarge, as chunks of rock tumbled to the ground and sand hissed into piles. Then she heard another sound, muffled and faint—a man’s voice calling out a chant of some kind. A wave of dizziness hit her and she lost consciousness.

When she came to it was silent in the cave and her hair was crusty with dust. After spitting blood, she realised that she had bitten her tongue and wiped her lips with the back of her hand. Her limbs were stiff and sore but the pain in her side had eased somewhat. She could move. Light pierced through various cracks overhead and she could see it was a short climb to the opening of the shallow cave. Wiping sweat and dust from her forehead, she froze. There was a sound in the cave—a scratching, pecking sound.

Crawling on all fours, Salinda scouted around the nooks and crannies, searching for the source. She found the shell first, broken bits of grey, speckled with green and purple. Tumbling about was a newly-hatched dragon, shell still sticking to its head. It was an ugly thing, thin wings adhering to its gooey hide, knobbly, dark-purple head, surrounding an over sized snout.

Her first thought was to find a rock and smash its brains out. It would save the world from another human-eating dragon. She watched as it fumbled about helplessly, then it gazed at her with black, glossy eyes and mewed. A dragon had almost taken her. Her life had been spared and, to repay in kind, she would spare this creature’s life. Instead of greeting it with violence, she stroked the hatchling, removing the fragment of shell at the same time. It made a sound in its throat plu, plu, plu. Salinda grinned.

A rock tumbled down to the cave floor. Salinda looked up to see Mez struggling through the opening. “Salinda?”

Salinda frowned, then let her anger melt away. She knew the old man cared for her in his odd way, but couldn’t help resenting his interference. “Down here. I’m safe.” Her voice carried a tone of resignation that she could not disguise.

Mez gathered his dirty robe around his skinny legs as he made his way to her. Sweat made his face shine amidst the patches of dirt. “Well, my girl. That was a close call. Ready to come back now?”

Salinda tried to stare him down, but after a moment, she looked away and nestled the hatchling in her dress. Sitting cross-legged on the ground, she rubbed a thumb over the scar on her ankle. The scar caused by a year in chains.

“I’m leaving this place. And before you begin lecturing me…I don’t care if I die trying.”

Mez looked around him and sat down on a rock, resting his arms on his knees he assumed his lecturing pose. “Then you will die for certain and sixteen years is too early to die for nothing.”

“It’s not for nothing and I said I don’t care. Anything is better than internment here. You may choose to end your days here fermenting wine, but I have better things to do.”

Mez looked around the cave. “Say you made it across the plains and back to Sartell or wherever you wish to go. Say you win your revolution. It means nothing.”

“Nothing?”

Mez chuckled in that horrible knowing way. “Your revolution is pointless and I’ll tell you why.”

Salinda continued to stroke the hatchling, which apparently Mez had not yet noticed.

His eyebrows cinched together. “I hope you know me well enough to hear the truth in what I say. We are a dying people, so it matters little which government is in power or which rebel group wins through.”

Salinda clenched her right hand. In her left hand, she held the hatchling, who chose that moment to mew. Mez lifted a fluffy white eyebrow, but did not comment on the noise. “You would say anything to keep me here.”

Mez chuckled. “Not anything.” Then he shrugged. “Well…perhaps everything and nothing.”

“You say we are dying?”

Mez’s brown eyes hinted at sadness. “Yes, all of us. We have always been dying. When Ruel moon split and fell to Margra, all should have perished. Yet some survived. Whether this is by accident or design I am not sure.”

Salinda did not like what she was hearing. “You speak in contradictions. I feel perfectly alive.”

Mez leaned closer. “Of course you do. What did I give you for breakfast this morning, mmm? The first of the new season’s Dragon Wine.”

Salinda rubbed her forehead, dislodging dust. “So I drank wine. So what, all the prisoners got some. Even the lowliest person in the poorest village receives some dregs of wine.”

“That’s it exactly. Everyone everywhere drinks Dragon Wine.”

Salinda’s head was pounding. All this talk of wine was making her thirsty. “You’re not going to tell me that by growing grapes we keep everyone alive are you?”

“Yes. I am. We live through the grace of dragons, through the medium of Dragon Wine. By tending these grapes and making wine you, me, we make a real difference. The wine keeps us alive by virtue of the power of the dragons. That I know.”

Salinda screwed up her face. “No. No. That’s not possible. That’s not even logical. Dragons kill humans. Humans kill dragons. Why would they help us survive? It makes no sense.”

Again Mez smiled. “I did not say they do it willingly. It is a by-product of their existence. A secret known to a few. A dangerous secret, too. For he who controls Dragon Wine has the power of life and death over everyone.”

The hatchling was growing restless. Salinda pulled it out, stroking its head softly.

“A hatchling?” Mez whistled softly as he leaned in for a closer inspection. “You are full of surprises today.”

“It must have fallen through one of the cracks.”

Mez chuckled. “Newly hatched I’d say. Risky keeping it alive, but it appears to have imprinted itself on you. Perhaps, you have found a friend for life, one that may come in handy in future. Mmm…I suppose we could tend it for a little while and then reintegrate it into the nest. Any longer than that and we could not conceal it.”

He felt in his pockets and pulled out some old bread. The hatchling caught it deftly and swallowed it in one bite. Salinda smiled at it. Holding it calmed her.

“So this is not a creature of death but of life?” she asked holding the hatching out as it squirmed in her hands.
Mez nodded. “You did right to let it live.”

Salinda let a breath out slowly and looked at the aftermath of the dragon’s attack on the cave opening.

“That was you I heard before, wasn’t it?”

Mez raised an eyebrow and feigned innocence. “Me? What do you mean?”

“You spoke to the dragon, made it go away.”

“Now you are being fanciful.” He stood up and turned around as if to make his way out of the cave, but there was something there in Mez’s eyes, something that made her breath catch.

“No, I’m not. It makes sense. That she dragon almost had me. One more moment and I was dead. It had almost breached the entrance.”

“Salinda.” With his back to her, he shrugged his shoulders.

“No. I want the truth, old man.”

“Yes, it was me.” He turned back to her. “I speak dragon tongue. Though they are not words as such, they are sounds that shape images the dragons understand.”

Salinda had been reasonably well-educated and had never heard of anyone speaking to dragons. With her gaze locked with Mez’s, she stroked the hatchling again and lifted it high. “I’m going to call him Plu.”

Mez hesitated. “Yes, why not? Te Pluan Nuresh, which equates to Plu that fell from the nest.”

Plu nuzzled her palm, seeking more food. She liked the sound the hatchling made when she stroked it.

“All right then,” she said. “What do baby dragons eat?”

Mez smiled. “Meat mostly. You’ll have to sacrifice your ration for a while. You are coming back with me?”

“Yes, for a little while. I’m not slaving here until I drop and I’m not giving up my ideas about revolution…but there is more to you than I thought, old man.”

Shatterwing and Dragon Wine available in ebook and print.

DragonwineLinks from the publisher’s website here.  Book depository have them both in print too.

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