Collector’s Note

Clothbound Hardcover 1st Printings – Ending Imminently

Here’s a kicker – as the service that prints my books has become more popular, they’re updating their equipment, and the hardcovers will no longer come in clothbound. That’s happening this week, as of October 22nd.

Between this printing and the next, the hardcover under the jacket will come with a cloth texture image printed on it. In any subsequent edition, that inside cover may have its own under-jacket design, but until then, cloth will turn to pseudo-cloth. I will miss that touch of quality, but may be able to introduce a different element given the new parameters.

I know and love all my editions. Each printing is a memento of a time that will not come again. Thank you to everyone that’s supported this great and wonderful endeavor. If you’d ever like to bring one of my editions to see me in the future, we can remember when it was that you became a special kind of friend to me: a reader.

You can still get a clothbound (Book 2 1st ed.) hardcover by snapping up one of the used copies floating around out there now – for a short time, that’s all that will be on the used market. Yes, obviously I don’t receive a cut from used sales, but I’m thinking about you right now. I don’t currently possess a surplus that you can order directly from me. This is it!

Bones of Starlight 1: Fire Within (HC)
Bones of Starlight 2: Abyss Surrounding (HC)

If you quickly order a fresh copy from a bookstore, you’re gambling on a chance of getting cloth or pseudo-cloth. The bookstore won’t be able to specify for you. There’ll be a limited amount of copies sitting in various warehouses.

Otherwise, forward with time and progress into the future. Right now, I’m not making promises other than a third book to end the trilogy, which is to be released hardcover first. I enjoyed offering a paperback for the first, before its new printing. Such a thing may happen again, or it may not. Same with ebook formats. The third book of this trilogy feels like how I imagine the latter part of a running marathon would feel – additional trappings fade away, and the main thing is just to continue, if I am to finish. Making the story visible on this website helps, where people can enjoy it before anything else terrible happens. Receiving people’s interest and encouragement at in-person events helps – readings, conventions, pop-ups, and run-ins. These things don’t just appear, you know? But, you do know, if you happen to be reading this. Thanks again.

15.3 \ 197

Soleil’s suitsoles grated backwards against the firm stone. The slide felt long and far, but she held her stance and pushed up more, if there could be more. That might tell them they’d gone far enough. She laid her temple against the solid hide and gritted her teeth.

Then, they drew back a small measure. Soleil slumped but didn’t fall in the sudden gap, her hands still braced. They tilted their head back to face her again, sensory pits at twice eye level. They huffed, blowing her hair back, before drawing up again to the height of a building. This was followed by a final stamp of acknowledgment. Well met.

Soleil looked down the spiral ledge at the line of expectant emissaries. They glowed and glittered in jeweled finery. How many could she meet with, and which would they be? Would they all judge her as well as this one?

Poised and determined, she progressed, and struggled individually with one after another. She became accustomed to differentiating by comportment – approximating impressions of fairness, lesser hostility, natural curiosity, and openness to communication.

The Princess Ascendant continued until her efforts collapsed. She sank, and couldn’t pick herself up anymore. Panting, she flopped herself onto her back and raised an arm to signal Mystvall, face still twisting with effort. The remaining assembly was dismissed, sounds of exit muffled under Soleil’s exertion.

Rosy Glow traveled with Mystvall down the ramp to her side. Soleil had propped herself onto an elbow, but collapsed again.

YOU WILL REST, THEN REJOIN US FOR THE TEMPERING FESTIVITY BEFORE YOU HOLD YOUR AUDIENCE.

Claws the size of her arms lifted Soleil onto Mystvall’s headplate, and her consciousness slipped as she was carried away.

15.2 \ 197

Eyes open, ready to give and receive respect. Princess Ascendant Soleil, Magus, of the Pan-Galactic Imperium, was permitted to choose who she would meet from among those gathered. The chamber was peopled with more than she could possibly match forces with at once, though all would at least be witness to this. While those nearer her had arranged with greater anticipation, her discretion would determine a better audience by cultivating a direct sense of invitation.

Somehow, imagining herself bare nude actually helped. It was close to the truth of the feeling, presenting herself as herself. The challenge of transparency was easy to analogize with the undressed body. Imperfections would be apparent, and she had to make no effort to hide them, but consider them a necessary fraction of her presentation. So with this bareness of feeling, she walked over to the first Aureny awaiting.

They stamped and lowered their head to ground story, presenting their flat capital plate to Soleil, exceeding her height with it. One dust-clearing huff came from the four pits behind the lowered plate ridge. With a two-handed horsewhack, she set her hands firmly against the skullplate, opposite her shoulders. The manner of these people was brisk, and etiquette expressed with precisely directed force. Soleil could recognize etiquette in a new form, and she reflected it at her own volumes. On the second sharp exhale, the Aureny made a slight nod of contact acknowledgment. Then with the third breath, they gave each other weight.

The inexorable movement began at a stretching rate of moments. In the intense condensation of focus that suddenly occurred, she felt each grain of movement, responding equally in time with another grain of her own. Their masses differed, but there was an intentional equality of effort. Though she knew they’d overcome her, she fluidly gave her hands, elbows, and shoulders more of her might. Soleil’s feet planted deeper into the stone of the ledge, leveling her angle as though she could hold the other back while the pressure mounted. She held her root and sank up against this obstacle, which continued to move in knowledgable response to each drop of Soleil’s force.

Her back was to the chasm, with nothing obstructing the edge. She knew that she could die. Choosing this journey had been like leaping an edge already, and she had since chosen it again. She could be no less committed at this moment, and not only on her behalf. The lot of royalty meant that she didn’t know most of the people she was fighting for, but she knew she must – even if she wasn’t entirely sure what she was fighting in order to prevent the worst.

15.1 \ 197

It was a long walk for Soleil, and a shorter one for Mystvall as they led her to the spiral where her introductions would occur. Rosy Glow didn’t walk, she floated. They reached an archway with a large space beyond a ledge. Mystvall stamped a foot in acknowledgment and signaled Soleil through the archway with pointing chin.

Soleil stepped onto the ledge and faced the chamber. It was a round chasm with no floor in sight. This ledge, the width of two or three Aureny, extended spiraling down the side of the pit past various openings. Many Aureny stood awaiting on this ledge, each looking as mighty as the previous. Soleil knew this wasn’t about the strength of her arms. It would be the solidity of her will, the honesty of her desire, the force of her intention, the clarity of her being, and the wholeness of her understanding that would keep her from getting thrown off a ledge or crushed against a wall. Their language occurred in vibrations she couldn’t perceive; she chose to believe that they could sense these things, not wishing to die of skepticism. Skepticism may have been a part of the beginning of this trouble. This was a very formal place for introduction.

She undid her long dark hair, letting it swing down her back and over her shoulders. Soleil zipped her control gloves away in her Vedani piloting suit, and considered Rosy Glow where she sat on a radiant crystal sconce. She sent a small smile. This would not require translation.