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Monday 1 July 2019

The Sah'niir - Book Cover Reveal

After weeks of work, here's the official reveal of the book cover for The Sah'niir,
book two of The Devoted trilogy:

The Sah'niir will be available on August 1st on Kindle & paperback.
Click here to pre-order, or search 'The Sah'niir' on your preferred Amazon website!

Friday 21 June 2019


Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
   A shaking, mournful howl rolled hollow through the night.
   The forest blanched. The undergrowth quaked and cowered.
   The groan of the wind bellowed like the cries of the ghostly moon, hunting and hounding ceaselessly through the trees. Branches shook, leaves trembled, and the clouds above dashed and darted in panic; the moonlight flickered into the dense forest like a frozen, silver fire.

   The girl ran as fast as she could. Her dress billowed around her, snagging on clawing branches while roots rose up to catch her nimble feet. Alarm swelled in her throat, but her eyes were fixed intently forwards.
   The moon was full that night, and the power within its light was potent. One brush over bare skin, one look in the eye from the moon-beast itself, and she would lose her mind. And here she ran with no cloak to cover her arms, no hood to shade her face, no shoes to cover her feet, while the silver pools shifted and writhed at random all around her. And home...home was yet so far away.
   She dashed from shadow to shadow, holding her breath with each frantic movement, slipping down into the towering rock maze when the trees bent too far. Her heart hammered. She could feel it in her ears.
   She ran when the moon was hidden, taking advantage of the passing cloud, but it leapt out again all too soon, casting its maddening glare. She could feel its eye, wide and unblinking, relentlessly seeking her out. The hairs along her neck stood up, reaching up towards it as if lured by its perilous charm.
   But she was not so fooled.
   The tree trunks were thick; pressing herself against them, the glance passed over her and across the sheltering leaves, then she darted swiftly across to the next, the wind all the while tugging at her curls and casting leaves into her rosy face.
   It was only when she reached the edge of the thick boughs' protection, her breath burning in her chest, that her feet finally stumbled to a stop.
   A break in the trees.
   Her heart sank as her eyes passed helplessly over the broad, forest clearing.
   Quickly, she bowed her head, hiding her face behind her curls, avoiding the lock of the silver gaze, and watched the light blazing across the grass ahead of her. She steeled, and waited.
   Slowly, it dimmed. Then it vanished altogether.
   She broke away like a bull out of a pen.
   Her bare feet stampeded across the ground, scarcely avoiding the breaching, knotted roots, and dove without a glance around her into the safety of an elm. No sooner had she crashed into its trunk than the moonlight ignited the clearing once again.
   There was no time to waste in relief.
   She pushed off immediately, surging onwards through the shadows and battling once more against the flickering assault. She barely flinched against the blood-curdling yowl of a distant fox, nor glanced around at the hoot of a high-perched owl. Neither creature were prone to the madness of the moonlight; they did not share her trial, and neither could they help her.
   The girl hurtled on through the forest, and down into the maze again when the clouds became much too thin. When she came across another break in the trees, identical to the last, she didn't hesitate at the darkness. It was behind her in moments, with a heartbeat to spare, and this time no knotted roots betrayed her path.
   Her success only hastened the backlash.
   Fatigue soon set in; her movements became slower, duller, clumsier. By a single misjudgement, her bare foot glanced a silver pool.
   Her heart collapsed into her stomach. There was nothing to feel - no ice, no weight, no numbness - nothing at all to confirm it. But she knew it had happened.
   She ran on frantically anyway, hoping she was mistaken, but wondering all the while and with every frantic step just how it would happen if she wasn't, wondering if she would feel it, wondering how quickly her mind would be burned away by the moon.
   She heard again the cry of foxes. She spun this time, wondering as she stared through the flashing darkness if they were even real. Then she was suddenly upon a clearing. But she didn't stop to calculate.
   Despite the snaking roots, it was her own feet that finally tripped her.
She crashed, winded, to the ground, the heels of her hands digging into the earth, grazing across thinly buried stones. Her skin was unbroken, but blood didn't matter.
   Moonlight poured down upon her like a silent blanket of frost.

   She lay, unmoving.
   Her tongue lolled out from the side of her mouth.

   Slowly, a shadow fell over her still form, and a face appeared before her eyes, darkened by the haloing light of the moon. "Moonstruck yet?" It asked conversationally.
   But the girl neither moved nor blinked.
   The face waited patiently.
   "I can't talk," she finally said, quite without moving her lips, "I'm mad."
   "Mad," it agreed, "not dead." The face withdrew, then a great hand closed around a single dainty wrist and she was dragged easily back up to her feet. "Up you get, little one. You've been running circles around the house for twenty minutes. Dinner's ready."
   At the mention of food, life returned to the little girl's eyes, and she dashed off towards the irregular stone house that stood all alone in the forest, giggling maniacally into the night.
   Rathen shook his head to himself and followed along with a helpless smile. "I'm quite sure you've been mad for years already..."
 Words & illustration copyright © Kim Wedlock
No part is to be reproduced without my permission.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Apply To Be A Beta-Reader

 Sign-ups closed.
All applicants, successful and otherwise, have been contacted!

   I recently finished a side project, and I'm really very proud of it - but I have no idea if it will work as a published piece. Why? Because though the book has been written as a stand-alone, its events fall between books 2 and 3 of The Devoted trilogy, and, as the writer of said trilogy (book 2 will be out this August, and book 3 is in progress), I know reasonably well everything that is going on behind it. Which means that I'm blind while reading through this side project.
   Therefore, I'm looking for a handful of readers to take a look at this stand-alone and tell me if it does, in fact, stand alone.

   Anyone can apply, and you will receive either a PDF or paperback version. If I release it, it will be some time next year, which means that beta-readers will be getting considerably early access. Applications are open worldwide and are made through the below form until June 14th 2019.

What will beta-reading involve?
   I'm not looking for proof readers, per se, but for people to read the story and, at the end, answer this question: did you feel like you needed more information, or did you want it? Or, were you lost while reading, or curious? If you needed more information, then I've failed and the book can't stand alone. If you were merely curious, then I'm happy. If you had no questions at all by the end of it, I'm even happier. I didn't want it to be a piece that would make people feel like they had to read any more of my work to get the best out of it.

   The project in question is called Hlífrún and is a 150 page collection of short stories that come together to tell a single over-arching story. Hlífrún is, of course, the main character, and while you meet her in The Devoted, book 2 (out this August), you have already met some of the forest denizens she rules over in The Zi'veyn - namely, the ditchlings and the harpies. But there are many more.
   Each short story is told from a different perspective regarding an event that shakes the world, and comes together at the end to a final solution and personal decision.

   On June 14th the application process will close and I'll begin picking participants. Everyone will be notified, successful or not, within 1-2 weeks, and postal addresses collected if required.
   Successful applications (which will be chosen at random, though paperback copies are limited) will be notified when their copies have been sent, unless PDFs have been requested, and will have 1 month (30 days) from receipt to read it and deliver feedback. For those receiving a paperback copy outside of the UK, this 30-day period will begin 2.5 weeks after I have posted it. No replacements will be sent if it goes missing because it's all paid for out of my own pocket.

   I'm not setting any NDA on it, so if you'd like to write a review for your website, blog or Instagram (after you have sent your feedback), that's totally fine, though the book will not be out for quite some time, and you're more than welcome to take a picture of the book or of yourself with it and post that, too. Be sure to tag me @KimWedlock on twitter & Instagram. The only thing I do ask, of course, is that you do not post the contents themselves anywhere, even as a snippet. Beta-readers will be given early access, but they don't have any of the rights to the contents.

   If feedback is largely positive, I will be submitting it first to literary agents, but am happy to self-publish it instead. If feedback is negative, then rather than release it as a book, I'll simply publish the stories and chapters for free on my website and Wattpad. The work will be made available to all, but I won't be making any money from it, which I hope will balance it out.

Apply here to beta-read Hlífrún

Wednesday 13 March 2019

October's Blood

 Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
    A cool wind seeped through the woods. The trees creaked beneath its touch, stiff limbs wearied by the encroaching cold. A few more leaves were teased away.
   A rustle heralded her arrival; delicate feet tread over the fallen twigs and leaves, her fingers trailed softly, mournfully, over lichen-masked bark.
   She turned her grey face into the light that crept through the boughs.
   Just a few weeks ago it had warmed her bark-like skin. Just a few weeks ago it had enlivened the viridian roof of her queendom; the air had been gentle, laced with the colour and conversation of birds, and soft. Caressing.
   Just a few weeks ago.
   The bow of her lips sank further.
   Now, it was waning. Soon, the once-golden glow would fade to frozen, biting ivory. And her domain would once again fall still.
   "It will not last," a voice spoke behind her, small and silken. She did not turn towards the moth. "You cry every year."
   "Because it angers me."
   "It is Nature."
   "I am a skogsrå. I don't need you to tell me that."
   "You fear."
   "...I do."
   "But you are strong."
   "And they are vicious." Her slender, grey hand slipped from trunk. "The queendom - my­ queendom - is at risk. Every time the sun fades and forests drop their leaves and shadows, men wander in with their axes and flames. They take what they want, as though it belongs to them. As though we stole it. I cannot rest - I will not rest. The safety of these woods is my charge. My duty."
   She strode on, tail swishing irritably, the line of her plump, grey lips as hard as steel.
   The sun thinned in the coming weeks, just as nature decreed, and the skogsrå, Queen of the Woods, prepared herself for war.

   As the leaves drifted and the ice light flooded in, as the air emptied of rustles and squeaks, as hoarfrost and fog blanketed her world, she patrolled her domain.
   Her feet passed as light as a fox over the frost. Her shape was as invisible as a cat. Her eyes were as sharp as a falcon. And, when she found men, and axe, and fire, she struck as hard as a bear.
   The forest was hers to protect, and protect it, should would. For none but she could.

   Snow lay on the ground, the first of the fall, and early. Roots, soil, leaves, insects; all were trapped beneath the blanket, and the air itself was frozen still. Even time seemed to have been caught in its frigid grasp. But all was not dead.
   Men's voices, coarse and careless, rose above the muffling snow.
   Her sharp ears pinpointed them. She melted into the grey forest.

   The men moved purposefully, trampling hide and hollow without a thought, sharp axes slung at their hips, glinting in the callous snow. They stopped beside each tree, casting over them an appraising eye. Many were deemed unworthy; those unfortunate enough to hold their attention were marked with a single notch.
   The queen's lips curled in a snarl.
   The branch didn't creak as she leapt.
   Three men fell in seconds, raked, rent and ripped by wooden claws, and two more by axe blade, falling upon one and impeding another. Within minutes, the snow had turned crimson; thick, dark and ragged.
   And so she didn't see the shadow of a sixth pass across it.

   Agony tore open her eyes.
   White sunlight, above, below; all around. She hissed as it stung and ignited inside her skull, and wailed in shock and torment as blinding heat ripped through her back.
   She rolled herself over, a lifetime passing in seconds, onto lichen-speckled hands and knees. The snow where she'd fallen was golden with sap.
   But the surrounding light stole her attention from the rend through her hollow-bark back.
   Tree stumps did nothing to impede the careless, ivory sun.
   Nor conceal the bloodied footprints in the snow.

Words & Illustration Copyright © Kim Wedlock
Written for Neil Gaiman's 'The Art of Storytelling' class, lesson 8: Short Story Case Study
Image based upon visual of Hlífrún from The Devoted Trilogy