But a forced engagement to a woman who loathed Juraj pushed him to run.
It wasn’t enough to escape town. To save himself from magical enslavement, Juraj had to save the entire world, no matter what the cost may be.
It’s been nearly four years exactly since I first wrote the first draft of this story. Running From The Immortals (Smashwords, Kobo, Amazon) was first written for NaNoWriMo in 2011. I spent a full, wonderful, crazy month writing as fast as I possibly could to get all my ideas into it.
Gay characters who fall in love and have happy endings. A majority POC cast. Maps and different languages and cultures that were distinctly different. Dragons and not-elves and not-dwarves holding fragments of knowledge that would solve the mystery. Hugely powerful secret leaders acting behind the scenes to control everyone’s lives. Zombies that weren’t really zombies, they’re mind-controlled puppets who can infect you with a touch. Magic, magic and more magic, all the magic, all of it with prices and problems and yes. Magic. Happy families and massively dysfunctional ones and people building their own families around them with every breath they take.
Saving the world.
It was a blast. And I loved the story so very much that when I was solicited to submit a story to a startup publisher I sent the first draft to them.
They offered me a contract for it.
Which… still rates as one of the best days in my entire life even with the three years of hell that followed. I shouldn’t have signed that contract. It wasn’t a good one, had clauses that were very bad for me and two clauses that made it illegal under that state’s law, which is the only reason I can publish it myself now.
I still learned a lot and the joy of that acceptance will never go away. It’s not something I’ll ever forget.
Have to say, I’m glad it’s mine again. Getting it back let me sit down and take a critical look at the story. The language. The structure of the story.
Wow, did I have a lot of stuff to fix!
So I started editing. I more than doubled the size of the story, taking it from 100,000 words up to nearly 230,000 words which meant splitting it into a trilogy instead of keeping it as one novel. Added a second POV throughout the whole story. Deepened the conflict, the threats, the dangers Juraj, Besim, Takeo and Jun faced. Built a whole hell of a lot of stuff into the world, too. Took out a massive amount of Tell and replaced it with a ton of Show. I think I touched every single page, nearly every word in the story as I edited it.
My friend LeAnne is giving it a final read-over to catch any mistakes I may have made (Thank you so much, sweetie!!!) so by October 30th, the day before the four year anniversary of that the very first word going on the page for the first draft, my story will finally be properly, officially published.
I know most people won’t even notice it. It’s a blip for everyone else but a huge milestone for me. I took so many steps forward with this story that I can’t help but celebrate it a bit. My little original NaNo novel, my first accepted story, my first efforts at professional editing, my first full rewrite after I got the story back.
It means a lot to me.
And, well, I hope that other people will read Running From The Immortals and it’s sequels (coming in November and December) and love them, too.
Have a snippet of the first chapter, first of many to come until release day:
Juraj whispered desperate prayers to Haraldr and Inina as he pulled on the new vest his mother had embroidered for him. The holy arrows of Haraldr and Inina’s sacred cup vibrated with malicious magic, scratching at his carefully maintained shields. It filled his senses with the sound of Elder Danek’s voice praising his mother Nadezda for being such a good girl, but word felt more like slave in his head. He could almost smell Elder Danek in the air, his bitter blend of tea like a cloud around him.
The vest was distracting enough, threat enough, that Juraj could barely listen to Nadezda as she hummed and puttered around the house. It was terribly dangerous not to pay attention to her, given how often Elder Danek possessed her. Years of practice had taught Juraj the best ways to hide the magic that coiled within him. He always had to be careful to use a mere fraction of his power. Any large magics attracted Elder Danek’s attention, which would doom Juraj, as it had each of his brothers.
Seventeen repetitions of the prayers finally quieted Elder Danek’s magic enough that he trusted himself to interact with the rest of his family. They were barely there mentally. Their deep brown skin and dark hair seemed colorless, their expressions distant and eyes blank. The only one with any life today was his mother. It probably meant that Elder Danek’s attention was elsewhere. Juraj hoped so; he was so much safer when that happened.
“That looks so good on you, dear,” Nadezda said, coming over with her hands outstretched. The bright sunshine coming through the window turned Nadezda’s dark brown hands a warmer shade than normal, adding to the white streaks in her dark hair.
“Thank you,” Juraj said. He sidestepped and slipped out of Nadezda’s grasping range. Personally, he thought that the vest was thoroughly gaudy and far more appropriate to a wedding than a Harvest Festival, but arguing with her was never a good idea.
Disagreement brought out the glow of Elder Danek’s magic in her eyes, made her expression shift into one that was completely unlike her. Arguing with her was part of why his brothers Kilian, Radomir and Otokar had ended up married to women that they could barely tolerate. The rest was blood slavery magic stealing their ability to disagree. Nadezda’s tendency to all but become Elder Danek when disagreed with was terrifying to behold.
Uncle Raj had speculated that Elder Danek was breeding bloodlines like they bred cattle and horses for the farm. That made sense to Juraj, but he doubted that Otokar would ever father children with his wife; no matter how often Nadezda demanded grandchildren from him. There was little likelihood of their being in the same room long enough to conceive children. They were far more likely to fight than to interact civilly, even when Elder Danek’s magic glowed through them; it was obvious to Juraj that the level of control needed to ensure enthusiastic obedience sapped Elder Danek’s ability to control all his slaves completely.
“It’s going to be so lovely,” Nadezda sighed once Juraj finished tying on his boots and brushing out his shoulder-length, dark brown hair. The scruff on his chin could wait. “You’ll be so happy with her, dear.”
“Excuse me?” Juraj said after a moment of shocked silence. He stepped back, away from his mother’s reaching hands as if they were red-hot. “What are you talking about, Mother?”
“Your hand fasting, of course,” Nadezda said, as if he was being utterly silly. “We’re celebrating your hand fasting at the festival today. You and Anja will be so happy, I’m sure of it. Everything will be perfect.”
“Anja?” Juraj gasped. “Are you out of your mind? I can’t stand that loathsome bitch!”
As soon as he said it Juraj regretted opening his mouth. The only way that he’d stayed free this long was pretending to be powerless, stupid and easily led. The many spells he’d mastered helped, but never standing out did far more to protect him. Everyone in town who tried to act and live independently ended up being enslaved or destroyed. It was a truth of life that Juraj had learned very young and confirmed with Kennet, Anja’s little brother, Juraj’s first and only lover.
Thanks for listening to me ramble, guys! Hope you have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!