I have decided to take the plunge and, encouraged (firmly shoved) by wonderful friends and family members, I am launching my Editorial Services!
I am nervous, scared at taking this big freelancing step, but very excited to be starting this new venture.
I’ll be offering Proofreading and Copy Editing services, and you can find out all the details of them plus some truly lovely recommendations (thank you Alex, Celia and Mike) on my shiny new Editorial Services Page.
To celebrate, I am holding my first ever GIVEAWAY!
A. Z. Anthony’s debut novel Servant of Rage is being released on Tuesday 3rd of April.
I have been beta reading for A. Z. Anthony for a number of months now; he has been so much fun to work with, has been tremendously supportive, and it’s ridiculous how lovely he is.
So I thought it fitting to celebrate with a giveaway of his debut novel!
To be in with a chance of winning, simply comment below letting me know what your all time favourite debut has been.
Giveaway closes at midnight (GMT) Monday 9th April and I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday 10th April.
To spoil you even further, keep reading for an extract of Servant of Rage!
“Subei,” someone called. “Are you okay?” Kashi. It was Kashi. He recognized the voice. He turned to answer — Of course, I’m fine — and found he couldn’t move. Or rather, wasn’t in control of his movements. Without willing it, he stepped closer to the old woman, eyes unwavering from her seemingly frail form. As if compelled by some inner demon, he lunged forward, fist aimed for her head.
It found only air as she ducked under it and rose behind him to unleash a flurry of punches into his now-exposed kidneys. They landed with the sound of a butcher tenderizing meat, each thumping blow reverberating across the training grounds.
Subei growled and spun around with a backhand strike. It was a blow that would have felled near any warrior. Would’ve damn near taken the poor bastard’s head from his shoulders. But Mahtma was not just any warrior. Subei swung with all the might of his new-found irresistible rage, but the blow never landed.
With her first two fingers and thumb pinched together in a point, Mahtma jabbed him below the armpit as she ducked under his attack. His arm fell limp. Dead. He staggered to the side, eyes wide. He shook his shoulder. The arm flopped lifelessly.
Subei growled again. Then, as if he knew what he was doing, as if he’d practiced his entire life, he raised his left arm, palm open wide toward the sky.
A brilliant light burst from beneath the fabric of his sleeve. Another moment and it grew even brighter, the scars that ran up and down his arm becoming all too apparent as their light swelled through the fabric, lines of blue burning in his skin. The crowd gasped and fell back; warriors who’d known death and war since they were old enough to walk scrambled away at the unnatural sight.
Subei himself recoiled. Or would have, had he control of his body. Despite his horror at what was happening, he found he was smiling. A warmth rose within him, starting deep in his stomach. It grew and roiled, rising ever higher. It swarmed over his shoulder and down his arm, over his elbow, his forearm, his wrist, and out to the palm of his hand. With a crackling pop, an orb of floating blue light swelled into existence. Gasps poured from the crowd as men and women stared with mouths agape.
The orb hovered, as large and wide as his hand and almost too big to fit. It bobbed slightly back and forth, seeming unable to stay in one place. Miniature bolts of lightning crackled and popped within it, the occasional bolt breaking free to arc into his flesh. The skin tingled where they struck, but seemed otherwise unharmed.
Subei wanted to stare, but before he knew what he was doing the anger guided his arm. It whipped forward and flung the crackling orb at the old woman.
Time seemed to slow as the orb flew, arcs of tiny lightning snapping out to rage at the air around them. Mahtma made to lunge backward as the orb reached the ground in front of her. Just before it hit, a single bolt of lightning broke free. It arced into the ground with an angry hiss. and the orb exploded.
It was as if the sun itself had fallen from the sky. A wave of heat, then blinding, burning light as the patch of ground beneath the orb disappeared in a roaring plume of flame.
The crowd screamed, scattered, trampled those that fell in their panic to flee. A shower of debris fell from above, clumps of burning soil and other unrecognizable detritus slapping back to earth.
The old woman was gone, reduced to ash and smoke in the blast, no doubt. The last debris fell amid a pitch-black cloud of smoke. The wind caught it and drove it swirling away to reveal a crater scorched into the earth, half a man deep, the soil blackened and burned within. Subei breathed heavily as the scars on his arm slowly faded, the blue light seeming to slip away back within his flesh.
In the wake of the blast, the world was silent. Nothing remained of the woman but charred soil and the stench of smoke.
And then she hit him from the side.
She locked his arm behind his back and pulled up sharply. Subei howled as his wrist bent upward, toward his shoulder blades. Another jab in the armpit and she released him, both arms now hanging limp and useless.
Subei looked from one dead arm to the other, breathing hard, thoughts racing. He was still in shock from the explosive light he’d somehow conjured.
He made to retreat, but Mahtma was on him. Two quick steps and she was all he could see, those bright blue eyes seeming to fill the entirety of existence. Her arms were a blur. Pain blossomed in his stomach and chest and his legs fell away. Next thing he knew he was on his back.
The old woman leaned over him and pressed her thumb into a spot just behind his ear. Subei spat and snarled, fighting against the growing pressure at the base of his skull, but he might as well have been fighting the onset of winter, so certain and unrelenting was she. His movements slowed until he could barely move at all, breath seeming frozen in his throat. He blinked once, slow, sleepy. When his eyes opened again, the uncontrollable rage that had risen inside him had relented.
He gasped, air flooding into his burning lungs. He was on his back, Mahtma kneeling above him. Kashi rushed over.
“Subei! Are you okay?” Kashi fell to his knees beside his brother. “The hell just happened?”
Subei opened his mouth to speak. Found he had no words. Found he could barely even process what he’d just seen.
“I think that will do.” A voice from behind.
Mahtma bowed to someone Subei couldn’t see and stepped backwards.
Subei pulled himself into a sitting position, life returning to his arms, albeit slowly. They felt fat and numb, as if waking from a freezing night in the dead of winter. He turned and found the lord of the Ghangerai above him.
The khan looked down at him. Subei swallowed hard. The khan smiled.
The reality of the last few days slammed into Subei like a storm wind and a rush of excuses flooded his mind. He spoke quickly, words falling from his mouth. First excuses about failing to retrieve Jian. Then the storm, the unnatural lightning that had struck him and Bataar, how they would be okay, would recover, were just as strong as they’d always been. Then he realized the gravity of what had just happened; tried to explain his sudden bloodlust, his rage, and the orb — ancestors above, the orb. How could he even begin—
“Subei.” The excuses and explanations trickled to a stop as the khan spoke. “Forget Jian. Forget the world we knew. Everything has changed.”
The bravest of the crowd had returned, were edging closer now, hanging on every word the khan spoke.
“The Old Father is dead.” A shocked murmur ran through those that had returned. From beside him, Subei heard Kashi curse. The realization took a moment longer to sink in for him.
Dead? The Old Father? The man — if he even was a man — hadn’t aged in…in as long as anyone could remember. He had come from the west centuries ago and lived a reclusive life since. But none doubted his power. All knew the stories. He was a man even the khan bowed to. And the khan bowed to no man.
Nodding to the scars coursing along Subei’s arm, the lord of the Ghangerai leaned in closer.
“In the wake of the Old Father’s passing, you and my son have become something…” He paused, as if considering his next words. Then smiled. “Something more. Something greater than mere men.”
Subei heard the words, but didn’t understand them. Or didn’t believe them. Or both, maybe. He wasn’t sure. The khan broke the silence.
“This power is the beginning of a journey for you and my son, Subei. It is the beginning of many things, including your path to transcendence.”
Kemu, Khan of the Ghangerai, Foremost of Those who Tame the Horse, and Fist of the Ancestors, extended his hand.
“Let me guide you, Son of None.”
Subei could only nod.