A year ago I talked about writing a dangerous book. For a long time I'd thought about trying something really different -- writing a story that paralleled another story. I'd done something like that when I wrote Illumination, which is basically most of the story from StarDoc book one, told from Reever's point of view instead of Cherijo's.
Retelling a story from another POV is one thing, but I wondered if I could tell an entirely new story while paralleling another. I thought it would work if the two stories shared certain elements, like characters and plot threads, without either one spoiling the other. Definitely experimental, but the kind of writing challenge I enjoy. Inspiration for the story soon followed, and then I knew exactly what I wanted to write.
I wrote my dangerous book, which technically came out a bit longer than a traditional novella, took it to some folks at Penguin Putnam involved in the eSpecial program, and pitched it. I wasn't really expecting anything to happen, but I wanted to talk about e-books, what I'd been doing with them, what I'd learned over the last seven years, and what I hoped to do with this one. They liked my ideas and offered to work with me on this project as a joint venture.
Today we're releasing the results: Master of Shadows, a novella of the Darkyn and a full-length, original story that parallels the story of my January '09 print release, Stay the Night.
Will Scarlet, right-hand man to Darkyn leader Robin of Locksley, has been charged with an impossible task: He must regain control of his lord’s stronghold, which has been invaded by vicious Darkyn renegades, without harming any captives or attracting the attention of the Brethren, the Kyn’s mortal enemies. Things only get worse when Will learns that Reese Carmichael, the mortal woman he loves, is one of the hostages.
Reese was sent by her father, a former Brethren inquisitor, to infiltrate Rosethorn, retrieve an ancient vial containing the cause of a medieval plague, and prevent Armageddon from being accidentally unleashed upon the mortal world. Seducing and falling in love with Will Scarlet was never part of the plan, but Reese has no choice other than to use him and the siege of Rosethorn to complete her mission. If she does, she knows he will never forgive her — but if she doesn’t, millions of innocent lives will be lost.
As Kyn allies Jayr, Byrne, and Lucan arrive to provide Will with reinforcements, Reese’s true identity and motives are revealed. Torn between love and loyalty, Will and Reese uncover one last secret from the past that may help them win the final battle — if it doesn’t destroy them first.
I know the economy has been very tough on everyone, and one of my priorities was to make this e-book affordable for as many readers as possible. Publishers, on the other hand, have to make money. In the end I had to compromise on price, but I did persuade them to extend a period of reduced pricing for my readers. So until January 6, 2009, Master of Shadows will be available for the special retail price of $2.99 (after that date, the price for the e-book will increase to $4.99.)
I'll have links to a big press release they're sending out later today. So far, these are the links to the places where you can buy it that I've found (to be updated/corrected as the e-book goes live and the blips are worked out):
In Kindle format, priced at $2.39, on Amazon.com
In Secure eReader/Microsoft Reader format, priced as low as $2.69/$2.29 at Fictionwise
Added new links:
In MS Reader format, priced at $2.99 at Penguin.com USA.
In eReader format, priced at $2.99 at Penguin.com USA.
In Adobe Reader format, priced at $2.99 at Penguin.com USA.
In Sony reader format, priced at $2.84 at The eBook store from Sony.
My thanks to Rick, Jodi and all the folks at Penguin for giving me this opportunity to publish an eSpecial, and to my guy for being my reason and my rock these last couple of weeks. I couldn't have done it without any of you.
Added: My publisher has asked me to post some excerpts from Master of Shadows and Stay the Night on the blog, so with your indulgence, here goes:
An Excerpt from Master of Shadows by Lynn Viehl
First electronic release December 10, 2008
Reese woke to the sound of a mobile phone ringing, and reached blindly until she found it and brought it in front of her burning eyes. The display showed the time—why had Father allowed her to sleep for so long?—and a pet name: Loverboy.
She switched it on and held it to her ear. “Hello.”
“Did I wake you?” Loverboy had Will Scarlet’s voice.
He is Will, you idiot. “No.” She sat up, dragging the sheet to her chin. He couldn’t see her, but she slept naked, and talking to him while she was bare-skinned made her feel exposed. She had to say something, greet him as if nothing had happened. Nothing had happened. Yet. “How are you?”
“Tired. Somewhat annoyed. Very sorry for behaving like such a jackass last night.” Will sounded tentative, as if he were afraid to say more, and then went on. “Reese, I want you to know that I never meant—”
“It’s okay. You can make it up to me when I get to Rosethorn.” She glanced at her watch; she still had enough time to prepare. “I’ll be there in a couple of hours.”
“That is the other reason I called. I can’t meet you there tonight. Rob is attending a gallery show in town, and I must go with him. We will not be returning to the estate until later, likely after midnight.”
He was telling her everything she needed to know, as if he knew what she intended to do. Did he know? “It sounds like a great show.”
“You could meet us there,” Will suggested. “Rob is escorting an old friend, but I will be on my own. We could talk about what happened last night.” When she didn’t reply, he added, “Or perhaps not.”
“I’d love to be there,” she lied. “But it’s the catalog. I have so much work to do on it.”
He muttered something, and then said, “So the fact that I forced myself on you has nothing to do with the manner in which you’re now avoiding me.”
“Yes. No. It wasn’t—” She stopped and rubbed her hand over her face. “It wasn’t like that. I’m not avoiding you.”
“Prove it to me, sweetheart.” The rough tone became soft and persuasive. “Come to the show.”
Trying to think of another excuse that would not further offend him, give away her true intentions, or jeopardize the mission made her head whirl. “You’ll be working, and I doubt Lord Locksley wants me distracting you from your duties.”
“Hang Rob,” he said flatly. “Come anyway.”
“Be patient, Will. We can get together later, when we can have more time for ourselves.” She would never see him again. Last night was all that they would ever have, and she’d run from him. It made this farce she was playing out into a cruel form of self-torture. “Wouldn’t you rather be alone with me?”
“I’ve done nothing but think about that, and you,” he admitted. “All day, I’ve had no peace. I barely slept. Reese, I know we agreed in the beginning to be friends only, and that neither of us wanted a serious affair. Somehow last night we strayed beyond that, I think.”
She didn’t know whether to laugh or scream. She had to know more, though. She couldn’t go through with her mission if she didn’t. “How do you feel about that?”
“How do I feel?” He laughed. “I want more.”
“More of the same?”
“More of you.”
He would have her, in a sense, but he would never know—and that was probably the kindest thing she could ever do for him. “You may change your mind before the next time you see me.”
“I think not.”
“Okay.” She got out of bed. “As much as I’d love to chat with you, I have to go and get ready for work now. My boss wants me to stop by the office before I drive out to Rosethorn.” She closed her eyes and added a flirtatious lilt to her voice. “Maybe I’ll see you later.”
“You will wait for me?”
Had she ever done anything else? “Always.”
An Excerpt from Stay the Night by Lynn Viehl
To be released January 9, 2009
Robin found the Mercedes and unlocked the passenger door for her, as naturally as if the car belonged to him. He treated her the same way; as if her coming along with him meant she’d go along with whatever he did.
“Do you want the top down? It’s a lovely night.” When she didn’t get in, he gave her hand a tug. “We only have two days, Christal. Get in.”
“My name isn’t Christal. This car doesn’t belong to you. Neither do I.” Chris twisted her hand, but he kept hold of her. If he didn’t let go of her, right now, she was going to make a fool out of herself. To remind herself of who he was, she reminded him. “You can’t steal or bully out of people whatever you want, Robin. No matter how good you are with your magic whatever it is, eventually, you’re going to get caught.”
His dark brows rose. “I don’t use magic, and what does this have to do with getting into the car?”
He didn’t care. He genuinely didn’t care that they were, in effect, stealing this woman’s car. “How do you sleep at night?” she demanded.
"I sleep during the day.”
“You know exactly what I mean.” She was sick of this vampire fantasy role he insisted on playing, too. “Doesn’t it bother you, knowing everything you have you stole from someone else?”
“I have not stolen everything,” he told her. “When I bought the Armstrong building, for example, I paid cash for it.”
He’d bought a high rise building in downtown Atlanta for cash. Of course he had, he was the son of the Magician. He could probably buy Atlanta.
“Where did you get the money?” Chris asked. “How many priceless paintings did you have to steal to cover the down payment?”
“None. I invest in the stock exchange. Google did very well for me that year.” He watched a security guard stroll past them. “A gentleman does not discuss his financial empire in public. Now we have to go.”
Chris didn’t budge. “What does happen to the art you steal? Are you warehousing it? Do you sell it to private collectors?” Maybe if she could convince him to turn himself in, and work with the Bureau on recovering and returning the artworks he had stolen, it might reduce the time he would have to serve in prison.
Am I trying to work out a plea agreement? For the Magician?
Chris backed up a step. “I can’t do this. I can’t go through with this.”
“Yes, you can.”
She looked at him, suddenly and inexplicably more angry than she ever had been in her life. “I won’t.”
“Get in the car, love,” he said through his teeth, “or I shall pick you up and stow you in the boot.”