Title: THE SEASON OF THE PLOUGH
Genre: Adult Literary High Fantasy (#OwnVoices: LGBTQIA)
Word Count: 85,000
My MC and MA (main antagonist) are dressed as:
The Harvest festival in Haveïl celebrates a time when the walls between the living world and the deadlands are paper-thin. Castor Stannon (MA) is a traditionalist and would dress as the restless spirit of a prominent long-dead ancestor, returned from the beyond.
Aewyn (MC) could not follow this tradition as she does not know her ancestry. She might choose a local historical figure at random to blend in. Perhaps they’d choose the same person and see that they’re not so different after all.
The empire is at war, and diverse refugees from a dozen of its ravaged states have fled the conflict to make a new life for themselves in a village on the frontier. When they stumble across Aewyn, a fairy-blooded foundling, in the deep wood, she sets every tongue wagging. The villagers have heard their share of Chosen One myths in the old stories and songs, and know a child of omen when they see one. Ancient mentor? Check! Mysterious prophecy? Check! All the building blocks of destiny seem to be there.
But the war between good and evil is not so black-and-white in a fallen, post-heroic age, nor are ancient omens so easily read. When the civil war comes home to her village, the cracks in Aewyn’s “Chosen One” prophecy begin to appear. When her wise guardian is exposed as a common criminal on the run and sentenced to hang for treason, Aewyn is faced with a hard choice of her own: will she betray her potentially world-saving destiny to rescue her oldest friend, or sacrifice his life to stay the course of her prophecy and call it heroism?
THE SEASON OF THE PLOUGH, my adult fantasy novel of 85,000 words, is a multiple-POV “small-town epic” about a search for family and a sense of simple belonging, set against the backdrop of a simmering civil war that threatens to tip the balance of a world on the brink of cataclysm. As an asexual mixed-race serf, Aewyn inverts the tropes of the traditional heroic princess, and this standalone novel sets the stage for a four-book series in which she leads an ensemble cast of the fantasy genre’s marginalized “bit players,” whose spectrum of diversity broadens over time as their stories intertwine. Beautiful damsels and musclebound knights have already had their share of stories; The Season of the Plough and its companion books tell us what becomes of the rest of the world while its heroes are riding off to glory.
First 250 words:
A trail of hot blood dappled and cratered the snow, etching a grisly path deep into the heart of the wood. Gleaming angry and red where it had melted through the unbroken skin of the year’s first squall, the blood was a sure sign that this time, the kill was fresh.
They came over the ridge in cloaks of green and brown, patched against the cold with motley scraps of a dozen fabrics from a dozen lands. Only four of the Havenari had come this way, and not the strongest four; those square-jawed, brawny warriors had taken the Serpent Trail up to search the far side of the ridge, eager for action, glad as falcons to be uncaged.
For now, Robyn was pleased to be rid of them. Most of the Havenari were noisy men, Imperial veterans weighed down by the trappings and tools of war. As she sprang lightly up the hill, the three men at her back followed swiftly and quietly. They were too young, or old, or sick to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the bigger men of the vanguard—but here on the hunt, they moved with an easy grace and an altogether different cunning. Even old Garrod, clad though he was in a pitted coat of battle-worn Travalaithi mail, kept up the pace in near silence. The metallic rustle at his joints with each step was little more than the wind in the trees as they crested the hill and caught sight of the spattered blood.
“We’ve found him,” she said.