His Fair Assassin

Mortal Heart Cover!

Sunday, March 16

For those of you who didn’t catch the Mortal Heart cover reveal a couple of weeks ago, here it is!

Mortal Heart Cover

 

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

But across Brittany, the tides of war are drawing ever nearer, with France pressuring the beleaguered duchess from all sides. Annith’s search for answers threatens to rip open an intricate web of lies and deceit that sit at the heart of the convent she serves. Yet to expose them threatens the very fabric of her existence and risks an unforeseen chance at love, one that she can no longer deny. Annith must carefully pick a path and, gods willing, effect a miracle that will see her country—and her heart—to safety.

For those of you who are super eager, you can pre-order Mortal Heart HERE:

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Mortal Heart Update

Sunday, February 9

So first of all, so sorry to have disappeared for so very long. Writing Mortal Heart in thirteen months is probably the single hardest writing thing I have ever done. Sadly, it required me to withdraw from just about every other thing in my life, including socializing (whether through social media or in real life) and sleeping.

The truth is, it was a big book, not just in word count (although it is that—clocking in at nearly 144,000 words!) but in terms of concept. Ever since I first imagined the trilogy, it was the most ambitious of the three His Fair Assassin books. Not only does it return to the political backdrop of Grave Mercy, but it delves more deeply into the mythology of the world I created and thus involved far more world building.

Far, FAR more world building.

In other words, it pretty much kicked my ass on a daily basis.

So the good news is that it is DONE! And it is BIG! And early reader reactions have surpassed my wildest hopes!

The bad news is, it won’t be out until November 4.

I know, I’m sorry. But I reeeeally needed those extra months writing time.

But! In more good news, there WILL be ARCs! I will let you know when I have a date for those.

In the coming months, I will be posting snippets and possible teasers and revealing the cover and playlists and hidden Pinterest boards to whet your appetites.

And now that the book isn’t demanding every single word that my brain produces, I will be posting on my blog (once I get it up and running again) and on Tumblr more often!

Thanks for your patience!

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As I wrote Dark Triumph, I wanted to be sure and populate the book with some of the colorful characters from the Middle Ages that I had come across in my research, and yet it had to feel organic to the story and not wedged in there.

As Sybella and the wounded knight were racing through the countryside, trying to escape pursuit, I had to do some serious thinking as to who they would actually run in to, and of those people, who would help, who would hinder, and who would turn them in in a heartbeat for a reward. Since they would need to slip into the forest to evade capture, I decided to draw from those who lived in the forests or obtained their livelihood from the woods, and settled upon a group of charcoal burners.

Oddly, it is often the outcasts in society who are most accepting of other outcasts. Their very disenfranchisement sometimes makes them more willing to challenge the status quo or thumb their nose at rigid authority. While charcoal burners were not (probably) true outcasts, they did keep to themselves somewhat, confined by their livelihood to dwelling in forests and tending their charcoal fires rather than living in cities or villages.

In the middle ages, one of the most efficient fuels at the time was charcoal. Coal itself was rare and difficult to mine with their technology, but charcoal could be made through the slow burning of wood, then stopping the process before the wood was fully burned to ash. Charcoal burning was a tricky thing, requiring fairly esoteric knowledge of how to build the fire pits just so, how to pile the wood so it wouldn’t burn too quickly, and how to read the smoke to discern when the charcoal was ready. There were a number of occupational hazards, primarily involving collapsed fire pits and burns. It was also an occupation full of hazard, for a stray spark or ember could start a conflagration in minutes.

As I continued to research charcoal burners, I came across a curious mention of the Carbonnari, a branch of Italian charcoal burners. They started off as a guild, as many medieval trades did, and developed into an organization or brotherhood similar to Freemansons, only with their charcoal burning trade being at the center of their rituals and organizations. While their organization and political involvement was most evident in 19th century Italy, it is believed the groups’ origins began in the middle ages. When I learned they had a French counterpart called the Charbonnerie, I knew I’d found my outcasts.

As a writer, a dozen questions immediately went off in my mind. Who were they? What would compel them to become political and engage themselves in the affairs of the kingdom? How would they make those decisions? And, most importantly in a world populated with patron saints, whom would they worship?

Any deviation from normal church doctrine in the middle ages was rigorously opposed, so it made sense to me that they would worship someone not approved by the church, one of the older gods who’d not make the transition to patron saint.

Dovetailing nicely with this was my personal fascination with the concept of the Black Madonna. There are various theories for the origin of the Black Madonna, whether it was simply the color of Jesus and Mary’s skin before Renaissance artists reimagined them as fair skinned and blonde, or an origin that spoke to possible African roots. There is some speculation that the huge popularity of the cult of the Virgin Mary in the middle ages was a redirecting of earlier earth/mother goddess worship.

But interestingly, over the years I’d also run into mentions of the Black Artemis, rumored to have been worshipped by the Amazons, or Black Demeter, the aspect of the earth goddess when she was in deep mourning for her daughter Persephone. I took all those threads and swirled them around until I had the Dark Matrona, the unsanctioned aspect of Dea Matrona, the former earth goddess now patron saint. I decided that her darkness would be of a more spiritual nature, not unlike the Egyptian god Osiris, for in the Egyptian pantheon, black was not only the color of the underworld, but regeneration as the rich dark silt from the Nile river allowed them to grow their crops each year, and so black was also the color of regeneration, which dovetailed nicely with the book’s themes of finding hope in the darkness.

~ Originally used as part of the Dark Triumph blog tour at jennadoesbooks.com~

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DARK TRIUMPH Cover

Friday, September 7

 

The fierce look on her face is SO Sybella!

Also, I just learned that I hadn’t actually mentioned it before, but the His Fair Assassin books are a trilogy, so there is a third book planned after this one. It will tell Annith’s story.

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DARK TRIUMPH Update!

Thursday, August 30

Hello, hello!

Lest you are wondering, no, I have not been the victim of one of my own political type assassinations, I have just been beyond busy getting DARK TRIUMPH ready so you can all read it as soon as possible. (It releases April 2, 2013, for those of you wondering.)

I am finishing up proofing the galley pages this weekend, then off it goes to the printer! Wheee! And YIKES.

Even better, next week we will be revealing the cover for DARK TRIUMPH, so stay tuned. Also, to get you in the mood, here is the flap copy for the book:

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.

ARCs are at the printer right now, so I’m guessing the actual ARCs should start going out mid to late September. I will post information on how to request them next week.

So, apologies for being so absent, but now that book two is DONE, I will be posting more: more deleted scenes, more teasers, more of the world and mythology, as well as answering some of the many questions I’ve been getting . . .

Thanks for all your patience!

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