Ready for beta readers!

The Beasts and Hunters draft is ready for beta readers! Jessica has found a few already but is looking for a couple more. If you’re interested, email us at editor@thefivewitspress.com. Beta readers will receive the draft in installments, along with a list of questions Jessica would like you to consider as you read. If you have a novel draft of your own that is at a stage for beta reading, Jessica would consider a beta reading swap with you.

Here’s a snippet from chapter 1 to pique your interest:

Adreth stood. "It's good to see you, friend." He stepped over and pulled Djaeva into a hug. Djaeva made irritated noises and didn't hug him back, which was very rude. Aturi slid down lower on Adreth's back, trying not to touch the Nai Umae man.

"I knew you would come," Adreth said, letting Djaeva go, but leaving one hand on his shoulder. Even though Djaeva wasn't a short man, Adreth was a head taller.

"I failed you," Djaeva said. "And I'm here to make up for it. But I'm not your friend. How many times do I have to say it before you get it through your thick skull?"

There was a smile in Adreth's voice. "You say it every lifetime. I'll never believe you. Are you ready to fight beside me, Lynx?"

Djaeva clapped Adreth's hand, hard. "Always."

“Not to ruin this tender moment,” Saresska said, looking through her lens again, “but the demon’s coming this way.”

Editing Beasts and Hunters

Jessica is continuing work on revisions to Orphaned Gods Book 1, Beasts and Hunters. The first draft of this book is pretty old--won’t say how many years--so the characterization is off in lots of places, and some things about the world and the magic system have changed since the early days. Chapters 1-7 in particular needed complete reworking of many scenes, deletion of others, and some new additions. She’s working on chapter 12 right now, and the chapters in the second half of the book aren’t needing such extensive changes. Here’s a snippet from chapter 4.

A clatter at the door of the coffeeshop announced the entrance of someone in a hurry. Aturi turned just as Ubashi called out, "Ready to go, lads? We don't have a moment to spare."

"You're alive," Aturi said, with relief. And uninjured, seemingly. "Did you find—?"

Ubashi cut him off, sweeping into their little alcove. "I've booked us passage on a fast ship. We leave with the tide, which is—"

"Just past noon," Livalii said. She always knew about tides, and boats, and things like that. "Which leaves everyone sufficient time to explain themselves." She gave Ubashi a dubious glance, then looked across the table at Tiiro. "I take it this is the crazy old Han Khiru mage?"

Ubashi seemed to notice Livalii for the first time. "Well, hello there." For a man who didn't have a moment to spare, he spent several long moments looking Livalii up and down. "Do I smell the warm air of the islands? I wasn't expecting to meet a Fanaloan flower so far from its native shore."

Tiiro rolled his eyes. "I'm Fanaloan, too." He introduced them with a vague wave.

"Livalii, this is Mage Ubashi. Ubashi, Livalii."chapter four of Beasts and Hunters illustration by S.A. Hannon

"Literally named after a flower." Ubashi clasped his hands together. "How charming! I haven't visited Fanaloa this lifetime, but I do recall the highlights. Laholo, my dear."

"It's Lahora." Tiiro sighed. "And pretty much everything in Fanaloa is named after a flower or a fish."

Khai

Khai, a character from Orphaned Gods. Khai by Ruth Lampi

"I . . ." Khai swallowed, and pulled a handful of black powder from the pouch at his waist. "I'm here to kill you."

Gailan gave him a long, slow look. "I know."

"You should--" There were words for this sort of thing. Khai felt that he ought to know them, that he'd heard them before in some heroic story. "You should meet your death with courage and honor. For your name and your House. Lynx will reward you and take you up in glory and you'll be reborn as, as . . . as someone great."

Gailan almost smiled. It looked awful, on that ruined face. "Do I have Lynx's blessing, then?"

Khai sucked in his breath, hard. It kept catching in his throat. "Not if you just stand there crying. Come on, fight me!"

Writing by Jessica Van Oort, art by Ruth Lampi.

Consortium Service Academy

consortium service academy

Take the Service Academy exams! Have you always dreamed of leaving the dirt behind and working among the stars?

The Consortium Service Academy is your path to cutting-edge jobs in space exploration.

The new Spire program needs recruits in all areas of specialization. Command crew: Authorized Captains have already been assigned to all available Spires, but positions for junior officers remain open. Clean gene-scans preferred. Engineering: Lead and support positions available. Must be certified in fusion engines, six-space interface, and artificial intelligence. Hydroponics technician: Also responsible for maintenance of seed and embryo banks. Cryogenics technician: Psychological screening required for these positions, as all cryogenics technicians will be awake for the duration of the Spire’s mission. Surgical officers and technicians: Appropriate medical implants and up-to-date certifications required. Dedication inspector: B-level security clearance and impeccable service record required. Clean gene-scans preferred. Due to new advancements in neurological grafting, we are not recruiting Spire pilots at this time.

Oba

oba by ruth lampiOba, one of the characters from Orphaned Gods.
The great Wei La was audible down on stage, arguing with the orchestra leader about some timing in the score, so Oba dove into her room first. The diva wouldn’t miss a few snacks she probably wouldn’t even eat. Oba helped herself to an application of blush from the makeup table, a rose dumpling, and a quick glass of wine. She sang a few bars of Wei’s aria from the second act, and winced at the high bits. She tried on a scarf from the gifts pile and decided it suited her coloring far better than Wei’s. She’d just stacked her coat, hat, scarf, sweets box, and a few delicious tidbits into a manageable parcel when in walked one of the props lads.
“What are you doing here, with Wei downstairs?” the lad demanded. “Who are you?”
“I’m the one trying to tidy up,” Oba gestured at her pile of things, “and I’m the one who runs off young scamps here trying to nick my lady’s underthings. No more silks are going missing on my watch. Out, you. Out!”
“It weren’t ever me!” the boy yelped.
Written by Jessica Van Oort, illustrated by Ruth Lampi.

Aturi

aturi by ruth lampiAturi is a main character from Orphaned Gods.
On the way toward the door, Aturi knelt for a quick prayer at his little folding shrine. The tiny carved figure of Raven, who presided over secrets and memory—as well as death—currently stood in the place of honor beside the incense-holder. Aturi lit a new cone of incense and pressed both palms to his heart. “Raven who sees things hidden,” he muttered under his breath, “turn your blind eye favorably to your people. And help me remember my equations, please.”
Written by Jessica Van Oort, and art by Ruth Lampi.

Tiiro

tiiro by ruth lampiTiiro, a character in Orphaned Gods.
“You don’t have to study every waking hour, though,” Tiiro said. “There’s other things in life.”
“What would you know about waking hours?” Aturi said.
Tiiro chuckled. “You got me there.” He reached over and swirled the dregs in Aturi’s cup. “I know, let’s go out to the Diving Swan. You need more of that poison if you’re going to stay up all night again. And I wouldn’t mind a nice relaxing cup of tea.”
“All you’ll do is nap in the cushions,” Aturi complained. “You might as well sleep here.”
“But I like the fresh air. And you can bring your book.” Tiiro lifted the stylus from Aturi’s fingers. “Come on, let’s go.”
Art by Ruth Lampi, writing by Jessica Van Oort.

Neharu

Neharu, art by Ruth Lampi Neharu, a character in Orphaned Gods.
Neharu tripped and rolled down into a little canyon cut away by a stream, and ended in the water. It wasn’t deep, but he checked to make sure he hadn’t broken the little sacred drum. All was well, so he trotted along the canyon bottom, sometimes jumping from stone to stone to avoid the water. This was spirit territory now, and he was almost to the place he would wait for a sign. A stick suddenly fell down out of the air and he caught it. He heard a distant peal of laughter that was not a people-voice, but no one appeared when he called a greeting.
Neharu continued on, carrying the spirit stick. In a little while he found the place where the stream disappeared under a wide, flat rock. On the rock were many smaller rocks, left by travelers who had visited this place. Neharu added one of his own, drank from the stream, and set his pack beside the pile of stones. He sat down meditation style, and closed his eyes, but then opened them just in time to catch another stick.
“Who is throwing me sticks?” he asked the world.
Laughter filled the air.
Art by Ruth Lampi, text by Jessica Van Oort.