Okay, just a hair shy of my 10,000 word goal. I suppose I should man up and write the last 500 words I need to get there, but, honestly, my brain is just hollow after the chapter I finished today, a pivotal chapter in which Slate finds the soul of Stark Tower, the man he's cloned from, in Hell. It's a fairly dark chapter, in a string of dark chapters. I would have thought a novel set in hell would have more laughs! Seriously, I feel pretty good about my emotional exhaustion at the moment. I'm tapping into some deep places inside me to pull this story out.
Here's a brief, unedited excerpt:
Sorrow woke slowly, luxuriating in the warmth that filled every last muscle of her body. Until now, she’d only toyed with magic, only caught glimpses and hints of what it was truly like to wield true power. True, she’d experienced the raw elemental power of Rott, a destructive, nihilistic power that had almost devoured her. But in Slate’s arms, together they’d awakened something new and powerful within her, a force of creation, a power of life instead of death.
With her eyes still closed, she frowned. Where were Slate’s arms? They’d fallen asleep spooned together, his arm draped across her belly, his chest seemingly glued to her back by sweat. Now, he wasn’t touching her.
She sat up, and instantly crossed one arm across her naked breasts, as she found that she wasn’t alone. In a tightly packed circle around the silk (check this) cloak they’d fallen asleep on, a score of old men and women stood shoulder to shoulder, glaring at them with judgmental eyes.
Slate sat next to her, pulling on his pants with one hand, while holding onto the Witchbreaker with the other.
“I don’t think the sword is necessary,” she said softly. “They look too old and toothless to be able to hurt us.”
“Appearances can be deceiving in Hell,” said Slate. “It’s not their teeth I fear, nor their limbs. It’s their eyes that tear into me. I’ve never felt so… so naked.”
Sorrow put her hand on Slate’s back to comfort him. He instantly tensed up, and said, “Don’t touch me while they watch.”
She pulled her hand away, noticing the faces of the assembled crowd took on an even deeper look of disapproval following her touch. One of the old women whispered, “Whore.” A man on the opposite side of the circle whispered, “Sinners.” A third voice, too weak and trembling for Sorrow to determine the sex of the speaker behind her, hissed, “Shameful!” The word was taken up, passing among the crowd. “Shameful. Shameful. Shameful!”
“No!” Slate cried, pulling on his shirt. “You don’t understand!”
“Slate, calm down,” she said, noticing the near panic in his voice. She’d never heard any emotion vaguely resembling this in his voice before.
He turned to her, tears welling in his eyes. “We should have waited,” he said, his voice choked. “We—”
“Hussy. Tramp. Fornicators. Dirty, dirty, dirty,” murmured the crowd.
“Please,” said Slate. “It was only a moment of weakness.”
Sorrow stood up, her fists clenched. She stared into the eyes of the woman nearest to her. “You’re wasting your time here.”
“Shameful,” scolded the woman.
Sorrow shook her head. “I feel no shame. Not even the slightest. You’ve no power over me. Go away.”
The woman flickered, turning halfway to smoke, before solidifying again. He eyes now focused on Slate, completely ignoring Sorrow. “Seducer,” she said, clucking her tongue. “Shame. Shame!”
Welcome to my worlds!
I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!