Song of the Severed Lord

Severed Lord Launch!

Song of the Severed Lord is now available in paperback and Kindle editions (links below). For a limited time launch window, the Kindle edition will be on sale for 99¢ to reward loyal readers who are following this blog, the mailing list, or my Facebook author page. Get ready to begin your journey to the Dreambetween!


Everybody dreams… 

Except Lily Markart. For the first fifteen years of her life, Lily’s father, a prominent sleep researcher, has prevented her from dreaming, and she’s determined to find out why. 

It is a decision she will soon regret. 

For millennia, Lily's bloodline has shared the blessing and the curse of the Dreambetween, a shared dream of extraordinary possibility and danger. And now the Severed Lord is calling her, his song an irresistible enchantment, drawing her into a battle for the future of the Dreambetween. 

==================== 

Song of the Severed Lord is the first part of The Dreambetween Symphony, a sprawling tale of history, romance, fantasy, and dreams that follows generations of the dreaming blood from prehistoric Britain to the modern day.

A Dreambetween Primer, Part 3

The symphony is about to begin...

I've just made the final changes to the proof copies of Song of the Severed Lord, the first part of my forthcoming historical/paranormal fantasy series, The Dreambetween Symphony. If all goes according to plan, it should be available to purchase in print and ebook from Amazon early next week. But before we get there, how about another Dreambetween Primer?

* * *

In the previous installments of this series of primer posts (Part 1 and Part 2), I explained that the eponymous Dreambetween of The Dreambetween Symphony is a communal dream shared by a wide range of people with a common (if distant) ancestry. But just because somebody has the  "dreaming blood" necessary to take part in the Dreambetween doesn't mean they can do so at will. Likewise, only a small percentage of dreamers have the talent to remember their dreams and take an active part in them.

Those who cannot control when they enter the Dreambetween or who do so infrequently are often mere passengers and observers, unable to influence what happens to them in the dream. Those gifted with the ability to lucid dream, to recognize that they are dreaming and to take control of the dream's direction, are capable of superhuman or magical feats within the Dreambetween. The dream itself responds to the collective will of the dreamers, shaping itself to their needs and desires, but those with the talent to control it can have a much greater influence on the dream as a whole.

Now, as I've previously mentioned, all of the dreamers who can access the Dreambetween share a common ancestry, however distant. But not all of the dreamers are technically still "living"...

 

Severed

sever |ˈsevər|
verb [ with obj. ]
- divide by cutting or slicing, esp. suddenly and forcibly

In the context of the Dreambetween, Severed is a title that applies to a dreamer whose physical body has died while they were in the dream. A physical body serves as both an anchor and an escape route for a dreamer. Should anything life-threatening happen in the dream, the dreamer's consciousness will be sucked back to the safety of the physical body (unless prevented from doing so), causing the dreamer to awaken, often with a sensation that something terrible was just about to happen to them.

But if the anchor provided by the physical body is removed, the connection to the waking world is "severed": broken, ended, suddenly and forcibly cut or sliced. This leaves the dreamer's consciousness stranded in the Dreambetween, and they become Severed.

Most Severed fade within a matter of weeks or months depending upon the strength of their will and the power of their ego. Those with weak wills or poor self-images destroy themselves, becoming more and more monstrous as the Dreambetween reads their thoughts and desires and shapes their dreaming forms. Ultimately, even the strongest-willed are doomed to destruction once Severed, unless they find a way to halt the decay...

 

Sundered

sunder |ˈsəndər|
verb [ with obj. ] literary
- split apart

As mentioned in the description of what it means to be Severed, the physical body normally provides an anchor, a safe point which the dreamer's essence can flee to if threatened or harmed in the Dreambetween. But if that escape route is somehow removed or cut off (perhaps because the dreamer has already been Severed), then it is possible for the inverse to happen: the dreamer's consciousness can be killed while their body lives on. The result is that the physical body falls into a coma from which it will never wake. The body has become Sundered, or split apart, from the dreamer.

Sundering among families that share the dreaming blood is often referred to as "the sleeping sickness." It is usually not a common occurrence, but troubled times in the Dreambetween often lead to a rash of Sunderings, and families of the dreaming blood often bear the scars (and the stories) of such times.

Coincidentally enough, The Dreambetween Symphony chronicles not just one, but several such troubled times over the millennia the Dreambetween has been in existence.

* * *

If you haven't yet done so, consider signing up for my mailing list. Not only will you be among the first to know when Song of the Severed Lord is released, but you'll get a free story in the bargain. Thanks for reading!

A Dreambetween Primer, Part 2

Song of the Severed Lord.  Coming later this month to an e-tailer near you!

Song of the Severed Lord. Coming later this month to an e-tailer near you!

In Part 1 of the Dreambetween Primer, I introduced how I intend to structure and release my new paranormal/historical fantasy series, The Dreambetween Symphony, and some of the core conceits that form the basis of the series' setting. This second part is for the history junkies and detail geeks: links to some of the reading material I used in my research for the series.

While I did take some liberties with history and science [wouldn't be much of a fantasy otherwise, would it?], I did try to lay a logical and consistent foundation. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does demonstrate some of the fact behind the fiction you'll encounter when Song of the Severed Lord is released later this month.

Hope something here piques your interest or tickles your fancy!

* * *

Song of the Severed Lord will be released as a Kindle e-book and in trade paperback later this month (September, 2014). Sign up for my mailing list so you don't miss out on the release announcement as the e-book will be available for a limited time at a special launch price.

A Dreambetween Primer, Part 1

Given the DIY nature of indie publishing, what better way could there be to introduce the conception and structure of my new book series, The Dreambetween Symphony, than by interviewing myself? So, without further ado...

* * *

Q: "Dreambetween"? What's that about?

A: It's all pretty much in the name. There's a dream, obviously. But instead of it being the dream of an individual, it's shared by a group of people. So a "dream" shared "between" this community, a "Dreambetween."

 

Q: Could you be a little more specific?

A: Sure. The Dreambetween has been in existence since prehistory, when a small group of women who all had shared ancestry found a way to not only begin lucid dreaming, but to share their dreams as well. They used the communal dream to strengthen tribal bonds, communicate with others related to them as their communities became more widespread, and as a spiritual touchstone. As time progressed, their descendants were able to access the dream as well, though some proved more naturally adept at doing so and at manipulating the dream itself.

 

Q: So this is a historical series?

A: Yes and no. The primary storyline will take place in the near-present (early 21st century). But there will be other story arcs woven around this primary tale, including (but not limited to): Regency Era Britain  (early 1800's), prehistoric Britain, occupied Poland during World War II, and 1980's Philadelphia.

 

Q: Fair enough. So what's the "Symphony" part entail?

A: Music is a major theme, particularly in the first book, and the series itself is structured as a classical four-movement symphony. The primary tale, which revolves around a young woman named Lily Markart, plays out over the course of three novels, tentatively titled Song of the Severed Lord, Exile Ballad, and Requiem. There will be a number of supporting short stories and novellas released alongside this trilogy that will either expand upon the lives and backstories of characters in the main story or explore more of the history of the Dreambetween and the bloodlines that share it. These stories will be collected in the fourth "movement" of the symphony, tentatively titled Preludes & Eulogies.

 

Q: Seems like a lot of stories to get out there. Are we talking George R.R. Martin timeframes here? 

A: Not at all. If everything goes according to plan, I'll have the whole thing finished before the end of 2015.

 

Q: Ambitious. What's the release strategy?

A: I'll start with the trilogy of main stories. Song of the Severed Lord will be released in trade paperback and as a Kindle ebook in September of 2014, followed by an expansion to non-Amazon markets in December 2014. I'll use the three month Kindle-exclusive period to run a number of sales and other deals using Amazon's KDP program, including deep discounts on Song of the Severed Lord in the run-up to the second release.

Exile Ballad (tentative title) will be released round about the turn of the year using the same paperback/Kindle release model. Throughout the winter and into the spring of 2015, I'll begin releasing the supporting stories in a mix of Kindle-exclusive and general-market releases. Some of these stories will be for sale and others will be available for free from e-book sellers or directly from my website or mailing list.

This should all lead up to the summer 2015 release of the trilogy-concluding Requiem (tentative title), which may or may not be Kindle-exclusive from the start. Throughout the summer and into the fall I'll focus on finishing the rest of the supporting novellas and shorts that will be released as a compilation paperback and e-book under the working title Preludes & Eulogies in the early fall of 2015. 

And then will come the final step in project: releasing the entire collected symphony as one master-work. The Dreambetween Symphony, containing all of the stories released up to that point, will be issued as an omnibus in both e-book and hardback print format by the end of 2015.

Or at least that's the plan.

 

Q: Sounds like you better get cracking.

A: The best laid plans of mice and men...

 

Q: Well don't jinx yourself!

A: Sorry, sorry. Yeah, I'd better fire up Scrivener and continue churning out the words for Exile Ballad now. 

 

Q: Thanks for taking the time to explain The Dreambetween Symphony.

A: No problem. Thanks for the opportunity.

(There, that wasn't too creepy, was it? ;-)

* * *

Song of the Severed Lord will be released as a Kindle e-book and in trade paperback in September, 2014. Sign up for my mailing list so you don't miss out on the release announcement as the e-book will be available for a limited time at a special launch price.

Print Proof First Look

Following on from last week's screenshots of the digital proofs for the print version of Song of the Severed Lord, I put together a little video showing the actual print copy in my grubby little paws. It's looking pretty good, by which I mean there are only a few little niggles I need to fix...

(Excuse the mess on the floor. Such is life with a toddler ;-)


Sneak Peek at Severed Lord

Digital proofs for Song of the Severed Lord look good, and the physical proof copy of the book is on its way to my door for review! You can have a gander yourself at how things are shaping up below...

Back cover, spine, and front cover for print edition of SONG OF THE SEVERED LORD

Interior formatting for SONG OF THE SEVERED LORD showing scene title, headers, and body content

Interior formatting for SONG OF THE SEVERED LORD showing section title, header, and body content

So...why print proofs already?

Well, unlike my first novel, Seven: The Haunted Girl of NuLo, I'm going to release Song of the Severed Lord simultaneously in print and ebook, so there will be no waiting period if you prefer to read in print (a 6x9" trade paperback will be available to order from Amazon at the same time the Kindle edition goes live). The ebook version will be Kindle-exclusive for 3 months, but will be on iBooks, Kobo, and Nook as soon as that period expires.

At this point, the release date for Song of the Severed Lord isn't set in stone, but it shouldn't be later than the first two weeks of September. So mark your calendars or subscribe to my mailing list (there will be a limited-time launch price so you don't want to miss the announcement!).

(Side note to Proof Patrol members: Start your engines--you'll be getting your final digital proof versions in the next day or so!)

Given the feedback I've been receiving for this book, I'm pretty excited for the launch and to hear what you, the readers, have to say about it. Stay tuned for more information about the book and about The Dreambetween Symphony series that it is a part of...

Back to Work

St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork

June was always going to be slow. The combination of the opening stages of the World Cup and taking part in a school trip to Ireland meant that I intentionally kept my production schedule light for June. 

That said, I haven't left things entirely fallow. At the beginning of the month, I wrapped up the beta draft of Song of the Severed Lord, the first novel in my forthcoming series, The Dreambetween Symphony (more news about this series soon), and sent it out to my beta readers.

(Want to be part of my Beta Brigade? Inquire within!)

And while I was in Ireland, I did some developmental editing work on the next of my short story Singles, A Fragile Circle & Other Tales, which will feature five horror/dark fantasy stories. I'm in the final stages of editing and proofing now, so that should be headed out to my proofreaders in the next week and should hit the digital shelves late this month or in the first week of August. As always, I'll be previewing cover designs and letting readers vote on the winner over on my Facebook page.

Now that our bags have finally arrived from Ireland after a baggage-sorting failure in London (only a week late, British Airways -- cheers!), it's time to get back to cranking out the words in earnest. 

Stay tuned...

All Aboard the April Express

March was a bit quiet around here. Between the weather, illness, and other unforeseen circumstances, some delays were inevitably tossed into the production schedule. Disappointing, to say the least, but it does make for a busy April as I try to get caught back up.

So what does that mean to you, dear reader? Well...

New Short Stories

I promised the second of my short story/novella collections by the end of the month, but illnesses and over-bookings on the editorial front put the kibosh on that plan. That said, I'm happy to announce that it looks like The Rune Painter & Other Tales will hit Amazon by this weekend. 

"Just Amazon?" I hear you grumble...

Next Up: World Domination

Don't fret! I've got some irons in the expansion fire as well. Seven is Amazon-exclusive until April 7, but I will roll out to Kobo, Nook, and iBooks (as well as other, smaller booksellers though Smashwords) when that deal expires. Expanded availability will probably come in fits and starts as some of the vendors are easier to work with and format for than others, so keep checking this site or my Facebook page (you do follow me there, right?) for updates.

Hark! What's that? A muttering from the wings about print?

Print is In Progress

I'm in the process of wending my way through the complexities of CreateSpace in order to have Seven available in trade paperback. I can't yet guarantee when the process will be complete as I'm not sure how many rounds of corrections I'll need to go through, but as I receive and examine proof copies, I'll be sure to post updates (and perhaps some pictures and video...if you're nice!).

"But what about new words?"

Bit demanding, aren't you? Anyway...

Last Verse of Song

I'm in the home stretch on the first draft of my second novel, tentatively titled Song of the Severed Lord. This will be the first book of a trilogy about the Dreambetween, a consensual dream-space shared by the members of an extended family and spanning centuries, perhaps millennia, of that family's sordid history. I'll still need to do a few rounds of revisions and get the manuscript in the hands of beta readers and editors before I'm ready to publish, but I'm planning on a late summer release at this point.

"Anything else?"

Well, now that you mention it, this site will be undergoing a bit of a facelift and some significant rejiggering beneath the hood in the weeks ahead. Some links might be broken in the process, but I hope to have a more useable, useful, and interesting site on the other side. Or at least that's the plan.

So stay tuned. Fingers crossed that the April Express chugs along as planned rather than jumping the tracks, plunging down a ravine, and exploding into fiery bits of broken ambition.

Either way, it should prove entertaining...

Progress Report & Sneak Peaks

Two months and two releases into the grand, self-pub adventure, let's take stock of where things stand and what's coming next in the world(s) of M.S. Hund...

* * *

This is a long game. That's what everybody's who's been in this boat and lived to tell the tale has to say about it. And it's what I tell myself. I'm pleased with how things have been going both in reader response and in sales thus far, but the real thrill of wider exposure that I'm banking on is probably years away.

And won't get here if I don't keep plugging away.

So I'm pleased to announce first that I'm 20,000 words into the first draft of my second novel, tentatively titled Song of the Severed Lord. I'm expecting this one to be longer than Seven, though not by much. Trust me, the grand epics are on the horizon, but the stories take as long as they take to tell, and this one feels like taking around 80-90,000 words.

Again, this is tentative, but I've worked out a rough draft of the blurb for the novel as well...

Lily Hammond is a sickly child who has never been allowed to dream. Her father, a physician and sleep researcher, has not only prevented her dreaming, but has discouraged her every instinct towards fantasy and imagination, especially when they concern her missing mother.

She’s about to find out why.

Following a mysterious and compelling song into the depths of her subconscious, Lily is plunged into a tale that spans over 200 years across the worlds of both Waking and Dreaming, in the process unveiling not only the dark history of the man who would rule the Dreaming realm but what he had to do with the disappearance of her mother.

And what he plans to do with her…

Thoughts?

Coming soon to a Kindle app/device near you!

Coming soon to a Kindle app/device near you!

I'm also happy to share the final version of the cover for the forthcoming The Rune Painter & Other Tales, the second installment of short stories in my Singles Collection. It was a close-run thing, but in the end, your votes picked cover #6 as the winner, and the more refined version is shown here.

The Rune Painter & Other Tales will feature three short stories of dark fantasy, featuring mist-dwelling energy demons, witches, hooded and veiled huntsmen, murders both intentional and accidental, and boats blessed with the blood and souls of the departed. It will launch at 99¢ in the next couple of weeks, so watch this space, my Facebook page, or sign up for my mailing list if any of that piques your interest and you don't want to miss the release.

Finally, I wanted to remind readers that Seven: The Haunted Girl of NuLo is still on sale through Amazon's Countdown Deals program. You've still got the rest of today to save 50% and the next two days to save 25% before it returns to full price on Thursday.

Thank you to everybody who has bought the book to this point or who is helping to spread the word, and I promise to have new words (and new worlds!) for you soon...