Vanity in Dust in the debut dark fantasy novel by Cheryl Low, and the first of her Crowns & Ash series. It's set in a decadent dark fantasy world of hedonism, addiction, and political intrigue, and should appeal to fans of Anne Bishop, Jacqueline Carey, and Susanna Clarke. To give you a bit more of a taste of what Vanity in Dust is like, check out the book trailer and an exclusive excerpt.
Vanity in Dust Excerpt
Vaun took another deep drag off the cigarette one of his new friends, Gabby, had offered him. She and the man sitting beside her pretended quite comically to be from the High. The prince did not ruin the show by telling them that he knew everyone in the High, to some degree. The quality of their vanity charms indicated they were not, not to mention the state of their clothing. Being rude was only fashionable if one’s victim was up to the challenge and could strike back. Besides, Vaun never discouraged people who tried so hard to amuse him.
The prince exhaled black smoke. It was thick and dramatic, but his skin didn’t hum the way it usually did after a deep breath of dust. In fact, the tingle was more of an agitation, making him shift in his seat and flick his cigarette more angrily than usual. Ash fluttered through the air. How much tea did he have to drink for a decent buzz? He all but dropped his cup back on its chipped saucer in disgust. “I shouldn’t have come,” he muttered.
“You’re leaving?” Gabby’s smile faltered. Her fingers clenched around her teacup. She wore fingerless, black lace gloves like his sister did on occasion and Vaun noticed that her skirts and bodice were also in dark colors with hints of lace sewn in wherever possible, some obviously added as an afterthought and not even matching the lace elsewhere. It would have been easier to try to imitate the High fashion of Belholn but Gabby had aimed even higher, for the princess herself.
“Yes. I’m sure I have a date somewhere.” Some part of him enjoyed the distress of the people around him at the possibility of his departure. It made him want to leave even more.
“Wait!” Gabby grabbed at the man beside her, whose name Vaun had forgotten a while ago, and tugged at the sleeve of his obviously repaired jacket. “Show him,” she whispered urgently.
Vaun took another draw of his disappointing cigarette. The best part about going to a teahouse or club in the thick of the Main was how the people tried so desperately to impress him. The people in the High knew him too well to try so hard. They feared his mockery even more than they desired his attention. But this group had spent the better part of the last hour trying to wow him with their trinkets and knowledge of the High. It was all nonsense read from the paper and mostly outdated. “I truly doubt you have anything to show me that I have not seen.”
The man reached into his jacket a little uncomfortably and took out a small mason jar. Others giggled, recognizing it, but Vaun only blinked at first. Its glass belly was full but not with anything liquid or solid. Light, captured and pulsing, swirled inside the jar. Vaun felt it as much as he saw it. He heard it like a whisper against his senses and found himself leaning forward to see it more clearly: a soul. Vaun had seen them before, but they weren’t common. So uncommon, in fact, that he was surprised they hadn’t led with this in their attempt to impress him. He supposed they might have been afraid he’d take it. Soul capturing was an old craft that most considered barbaric now.
His gaze turned up from the jar to the man holding it. “Who is it?” The soul was a beautiful captive, but the person walking around without it was the real prize—the puppet, someone that could be made to do anything.
“I couldn’t say.” The man smiled. “He wouldn’t be much of a spy if I did.”
I've thought about this moment for a long time. This moment has been, literally, years in the making. My fantasy series is complete. It's done. It's a wrap.
This series started as a short story written at the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2007. The final book in the trilogy came out in May 2017, nearly a full decade after that first bit was written. If anything ever proved that writing is a marathon and not a sprint, it's this.
I've grown a lot as a writer and as a person over the past decade, and the Shards of History series has been a huge part of that. I think that every book I wrote was stronger than the last. Or at least, the editing letters got a little shorter. I poured so much of what I love into the books — magic and dragons, the American Southwest and a dash of the Pacific Northwest, strong women, and biology in the form of a new species (the Jeguduns).
While I'm excited to see the trilogy complete and out in the world, it's a bittersweet moment as well. Life is all about moving ahead and changing and leaving one chapter of life behind for the next. I'm closing out a chapter with the release of Shattered Fates and opening a new chapter. It's exhilarating and terrifying and filled with promise.
There was a song I listened to over and over while writing Shattered Fates. It was Audiomachine's "Blood and Stone." I first heard the song during a performance on So You Think You Can Dance. Go find it on YouTube. Trust me, it's a great performance by two excellent ballet dancers. But the first time I heard it, and every time since then, I always thought of dragons and Malia. I pictured her during one of the most iconic scenes of Shattered Fates every time I heard it. I had that image in my head before I ever wrote the scene, and when I finally got to that part and wrote it, the song was there. That was the scene, and the song, that kept me going through the entire process of writing the book. Even now, when I hear it, I think of dragons.
Rebecca Roland is the author of the Shards of History series, The Necromancer's Inheritance series, and The King of Ash and Bones, and Other Stories. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Nature, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Stupefying Stories, Plasma Frequency, and Every Day Fiction, and she is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. You can find out more about her and her work at rebeccaroland.net, her blog Spice of Life, or follow her on Twitter @rebecca_roland.
The exciting conclusion to Rebecca Roland's Shards of History trilogy is here! SHATTERED FATES by Rebecca Roland is available in ebook and paperback today, May 23, 2017.
The magic barrier protecting the Taakwa from their enemies, the Maddion, is gone. Malia, who led the Taakwa against the Maddion in the Dragon War, must convince the magical being, the changer, to repair the barrier before the Maddion invade to take revenge on her people and the winged Jeguduns who also call the valley home, even if it means reversing the healing the changer wrought for her.
Chanwa, the wife of the Maddion leader, uses the disorder created by the changer to lead a coup against her husband in a desperate attempt to ensure she and the other Maddion women are treated as equals. Her life, and the future of every Maddion woman, depends on her success.
Both women know the only way to succeed is to come together in an unlikely alliance.
What are other people saying about the Shards of History series?
“Shards of History and its sequel, Fractured Days, are terrifically entertaining reads from beginning to end clearly establishing and demonstrating author Rebecca Roland’s consummate skills as an original and entertaining storyteller that will leave her enthusiastic readers looking forward to more novels featuring Malia and her world. Very highly recommended as enduringly popular addition to community library Fantasy Fiction collections.”
“One of the most beautifully written novels I have ever read. Suspenseful, entrapping, and simply … well, let’s just say that Shards of History reminds us of why we love books in the first place. 5 out of 5 stars!”
“A must for any fantasy reader.”
Need to catch up on the series? Both SHARDS OF HISTORY and FRACTURED DAYS are on sale for only $0.99 in ebook for a limited time from all booksellers. Or order the paperbacks directly from World Weaver Press for only $10.95 each (regular price $13.95).
Do you shop for ebooks on Kobo? If so, we've got three awesome deals going on this week that are Kobo exclusive. You won't find these prices for these books at any other ebook vendor.
199 for $1.99
On May 16 and May 17, 2017, you can grab A.E. Decker's satirical fantasy THE FALLING OF THE MOON and the FAR ORBIT science fiction anthology through Kobo for only $1.99 in the US. Outside of the US? They're only $2.99 in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
(These books are available in other countries as well, but prices may vary.)
Victoria Day Long Weekend Sale
From May 18 to May 22, 2017, COVALENT BONDS, an anthology of geek romance stories, will be available through Kobo for only $2.99 in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
(This book is available in other countries as well, but prices may vary.)
"Covalent Bonds is by far the best collection of short stories I have read. I absolutely loved every one. After reading each I immediately went online to see what else the author has written. I wanted to read them all! You should definitely check out this collection."
The day has arrived: we're ready to show you the cover art for Vanity in Dust by Cheryl Low. Vanity in Dust is about power and passion in a realm of magic where pixie dust is a drug steaming in every cup of tea, sedating the powerful under the deteriorating control of the Queen.
Huge thank you to Linn Arvidsson for this beautiful design! Linn will be also be designing the covers for future books in Cheryl Low's Crowns & Ash series.
In the Realm there are whispers. Whispers that the city used to be a different place. That before the Queen ruled there was a sky beyond the clouds and a world beyond their streets.
Barnes & Noble
World Weaver Press
Cheryl Low might be an Evil Queen, sipping tea and peeping on everyone from high up in her posh tower—a job she got only after being fired from her gig as Wicked Witch for eating half the gingerbread house.
…Or she might be a relatively mundane human with a love for all things sugary and soap opera slaps.
Find out by following her on social media @cherylwlow or check her webpage, cheryllow.com. The answer might surprise you! But it probably won’t.
Recently, we learned about a new bookstore in California that carries only books published by small press and independent authors: Pipe & Thimble. Their grand opening is May 6, 2017 in Lomita, CA, and it's been very fun to watch this unique bookstore come together through the posts on their Facebook page. Dealing with bookstores as a small press can often be frustrating, but Barbara and Ellie Lieberman of Pipe & Thimble know those frustrations quite well themselves, and made the process of getting a few World Weaver Press books onto their shelves pleasant and painless. If you're in the area, please be sure to stop by Pipe & Thimble, and let us know about your experience!
Below, Barbara and Ellie answer a few questions about their new store and their vision.
Can you tell us a little about how Pipe & Thimble Publishing got started and why you decided to branch out to become an indie bookstore?
Pipe & Thimble comes from a handmade miniatures business started by our parents and grandparents. The pipe was a reference to Richard Austin, known for smoking a pipe with cherry tobacco, who did all the wood working of the perfectly-to-scale furniture and the thimble was a reference to Peg Austin who did the sewing and painting details. When Peg got sick, Barbara stepped in as the thimble. Our bookstore and publishing company are based on the charm of the miniatures, as well as the way Richard and Peg conducted business, with fairness, respect, and creating a community.
About two handmade businesses and a number of self-published books later, we began to grow frustrated in dealing with both local bookstore and big chains. Between the outrageous cost, lack of respect, and lack of understanding of the indie author experience, we turned these frustrations and disappointments into something positive. We wanted to “do indie better,” by offering a platform that is often unavailable to indie authors and do better by them. With both the knowledge of the inner workings of the indie world, including how we differ from big press and the amazing sense of community, as well as the knowledge of how to run a business, we thought we’d try our hand at it.
Aside from books, what are some of the crafts and other artisanal goodies that customers will be able to find at your store?
As an indie bookstore, we really want to support every aspect of the indie community. This includes musicians. We not only carry their CDs, but every second Friday, we’ll have live music.
Along with indie music, we are working with a small number of handmade artisans. Their products include pincushions made out of vintage fabric, bags and neckware made of recycled vintage neckties, embroidered handbags and plushies, greeting cards, art prints, soap, bath and body products, and jewelry (including Viking Knit Jewelry and Guitar Pick Earrings). We also have product from our own handmade business including fairy houses, fairy doors, and other fairy products, as well as scented dryer balls, scented bookmarks, and other scented products. We’d also be greatly remiss if we didn’t mention our miniature thimble bears.
Other items we carry include book swag. From posters to charm bracelets to mugs to coasters to more. We also have these amazing hand knit chrysalis and butterfly made by one of our authors to go along with her book.
Going forward, we’re planning on having scented candles, handmade dolls, scented candles and more! We would also love to work with indie filmmakers and other parts of the indie community.
What fun things are you planning for the Grand Opening on May 6th?
The Grand Opening includes a ribbon cutting ceremony, delicious food from RSVPea Catering, live music, authors and artisans meet and greet and more. There is our teaching garden to walk through, with signs about the plants and tricks to use when gardening. There will be raffles, as well.
How do you plan to promote your store within the local community of Lomita, California?
One of the most amazing things about this experience is the sense of community both within Lomita and online. First and foremost, we do a lot on social media. We will be promoting across multiple platforms. Right now, Facebook has been major in spreading the word and we really have the authors and artisans to thank for that. We’re also on Twitter and, more recently, Youtube. Online we use any tool we can find from Thunderclap to online calendars. We are also present in many local Facebook groups dedicated to the City of Lomita.
We send out press releases. We work closely with the incredible and amazingly talented podcaster, Dot Cannon of Noelophile and Over Coffee. We’re working on getting picked up by more print media. Local stores, such as the local Ace Hardware, which has been extremely helpful in renovating the shop, are handing out fliers for us.
Just by our Vistaprint signs by the street and on the building itself, there’s been so much reception and response by people driving or walking by. We have people knocking on our door, asking if and when we’ll be open. There is much buzz and excitement through that alone. There was a teenager who took a sneak peek tour of the store and her eyes grew to the size of saucers. She was very excited about just the thought of having a bookstore in Lomita, let alone new books and indie books.
Overall, the response has been overwhelming.
What’s your vision for the future of Pipe & Thimble?
We set out to help indie authors. We are striving to not only elevate people’s awareness and to combat preconceived notions and stigma about the word “indie,” but also educate. How many readers realize just how important reviews are, or how to work Amazon’s complex algorithms to even make their review count? We’d like to make a difference in how the larger world sees and treats an indie author and their work.
We want events that not only bolster sales for authors and bring their name to the forefront, but also give readers a chance to meet an author and vice versa. We already have quite a number of events on the calendar and more coming, but we want to be a place that is known for reconnecting that aspect of the book world.
We, also, want to branch out to other aspects of the indie community. We are an indie store and one of the things that always confused us about trying to work with other local, indie bookstores, was if you call yourself “indie,” why aren’t you helping the others also called, “indie?” There are musicians, filmmakers, game developers, artists, entrepreneurs, as well as authors. We’re already working with authors, artists, entrepreneurs, innovators, and musicians. We’d love to expand into filmmakers, game developers, and more.
People have already asked about franchising from around the world. Who knows what the future may bring, but we think it would be pretty cool to have Pipe & Thimble stores in other locations.
Ultimately, though, our goal is a community. We already have the start of something great and, through our plans, we hope to make it even better. Our plans include weekly community activities, from movie and board game night to concerts to art galleries and poetry readings. We want to be a place that families come back to time and time again.
Community is at the heart of this store. We don’t believe in competition here at Pipe & Thimble. We believe for us to succeed, everyone needs to succeed. It’s what we based our business model on.
Pipe & Thimble Bookstore opens May 6, 2017 at 24830 Narbonne, Lomita, CA.
A grand opening party with live music and local authors runs all day on May 6th, beginning at 11am.
Barbara Lieberman is a partner of Pipe & Thimble Publishing. She is the author of fourteen books, including her McEwen Historical Fiction series.
Barbara is a former Family Literacy Specialist, Adult Education/Tutor, and college course Teaching Assistant. Along with being a partner in Pipe & Thimble and a published author, she is also an inspirational speaker, available to speak on the topics of living well while living with chronic illness and publishing and working within the indie community.
Barbara's Author website
Barbara's books on Amazon
Barbara's Author Page on FB
Follow Barb on Twitter: @Seeds2Inspire
Ellie Lieberman is a partner of Pipe & Thimble Publishing. She is the author of two YA books and her first illustrated children's book, The Butter Thief, as well as being the owner of Acorn Tops, handmade fairy products to enchant your world.
Ellie Lieberman's Author website
Acorn Tops Website
Ellie's books on Amazon
Ellie's Author Page on FB
Follow Ellie on Twitter: @AcornTops
by Sarena Ulibarri
When I took over as editor-in-chief in early 2016, one of the first things I did was close submissions. A lot of writers weren't very happy with that, but I had to—between next-in-series and recently accepted books, we already had a full slate for the next year and a half. We still have a pretty full slate, to be honest, but the schedule loosened up enough that I felt comfortable opening to general submissions in February. Below is a highly unscientific tally of what we received by genre, length, and audience. I didn't keep close track of trends, but thinking back over the queries, I remember seeing quite a few portal fantasies or alternate dimension tales. There were also a lot of fairy tale-inspired stories (which is totally our jam, by the way), and more than a few cyborgs.
Total Queries Received: 119
Science Fiction: 34
Identified as “Romance” or “romantic elements”: 20
Novel: 82 total -- 31 Fantasy; 2 Non-spec; 6 Paranormal; 22 Science Fiction; 21 Spec-other
Novella: 26 total -- 10 Fantasy; 1 Non-spec; 1 Paranormal; 11 Science Fiction; 3 Spec-other
Other or Unsure: 7
YA: 33 total -- 18 Fantasy; 3 Non-spec; 2 Paranormal; 4 Science Fiction; 6 Spec-other
New Adult: 12 total -- 8 Fantasy; 3 Science Fiction; 1 Spec-other
Adult (or unspecified): 74
Partial Requests: 4
Full Requests: 4
Partials upgraded to Fulls: 2
Revise and Resubmit: 2
How does this stack up to previous submission windows? You can see the numbers yourself in the blogs below, but in short, we received more submissions than ever before, and we requested fewer than ever before. And that is absolutely no reflection on the quality of submissions—submissions were just as high quality this time around as ever, and we passed on a number of great pieces that will probably find homes elsewhere.
So what gives?
In the 2015 submission windows, the assistant editors (including me at the time) were still feeling out what they were looking for, what kind of books they wanted to define their work with World Weaver Press. Now, they've substantially zeroed in their interests. It's always possible to be surprised by a fantastic query, but for the most part, we can tell pretty quickly if a project fits what we're looking for or not. Hence the fewer requests, and the high percentage of revise-and-resubmits.
Also, I specifically said we were only looking for standalones, and yet we still received a significant number of queries for the start of series. C'est la vie. These weren't auto-rejects, but they had a big strike against them from the get-go, since we weren't looking to commit to any new series during this window (and the authors clearly didn't read our submission guidelines).
How about that one acceptance? That was THE CONTINUUM by Wendy Nikel, a wonderful time travel novella that Rhonda Parrish and I had a virtual arm wrestling match over. (That's how we always resolve editing disputes here at WWP.)
We were eager to add some more science fiction to our catalog, but what a couple of our editors really wanted was romance. So we're re-opening for submissions in September 2017 for speculative romance only. That might mean paranormal romance, but it could also mean steampunk romance, or space opera romance, or epic fantasy romance. If it's speculative and it's a kissing book, please send it our way. Full guidelines are here. After September, we'll take another look at our publishing calendar and decide when we'll open again, and what we'll be looking for then. Keep an eye on our social media, or subscribe to our newsletter for updates.
Previous Submission Statistics Blogs:
February 2015: http://www.worldweaverpress.com/blog/february-2015-query-stats
June 2015: http://www.worldweaverpress.com/blog/june-2015-query-stats
February 2014: http://www.worldweaverpress.com/blog/february-query-stats
June 2014: http://www.worldweaverpress.com/blog/june-2014-query-stats
World Weaver Press
Publishing fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction.