Friday, June 28, 2013

Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler Excerpt + a Giveaway

Hi, everyone! I'm pleased as punch to be offering up an excerpt and giveaway of S.M. Wheeler's Sea Change today.

First up, here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price. 

Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly's quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

And as an extra bonus:



And now, a little excerpt to give you a taste:

The sash window, oiled, slipped noiselessly open. Beneath it was springy lawn which straightened after she passed, showing no footprints to betray her. When her legs were shorter the path through garden to the slender broken shell path down to the sea had seemed long; now she ran to meet the sea, the salt air scouring off her gentlewoman’s skin. 

The water churned active today, the low sun golden on its whitecaps and the spray hands that reached for her; it was playful in the manner of creatures that ate humans with a smile. Once a water-woman had beckoned her with a scaled hand and a sharp-toothed grin, just like that. 

The path she took she sometimes walked in the late evening when the night slithered in hollows; she had never fallen on it. These steps she knew: over skittering shale with impressions of strange animals and through a tangle of ocher stones, on a sedge-thick strip of land from which one could hear the gulls but nothing more, and down again to a slope of dark stone that plunged into the ocean. She patted the still-hot bun in her pocket, eyes scanning the water for a wake or the break of a smooth burgundy curve; and saw far off a patch of ocean that did not gleam with the sun. Grinning, she waved her arms to him: I’m here, I’m here, come fast. It seemed he dawdled; for some time nothing broke the surface again. 

Until eight slick, suckered limbs weaved from the water, with their immense strength rolling aside the boulders that lay at the bottom of the slope. Behind them came a sleek and rounded shape, ridged in a brow over golden discs of eyes which were bright as the gold crucifix in Father’s study – and held more love than any dead man’s gilded face. She demanded of the kraken, “When did you get so sneaky?” 

“I’ve been hunting seals.” His voice rumbled and sang high at once, wind moaning in cliffs, nipped short in the narrow passages and shaking the larger. “You are troubled.” 

“No, no. —A little. Come close, I have a present for you.” 

To her side the sea creature came in a roil of tentacles. Two of those settled around her feet, the delicate tips curled around her ankles. He loomed well over her, eighteen hands high at his tallest, though at the moment he compressed himself lower to the ground so that he might look her in the eye. “I will return to your troubles.” Then: “A present?” 

With panache she plucked the bun from her pocket and unfurled the napkin around it. Steaming still, citrus-scented, and only lightly squashed, she felt quite proud at this newest offering. 

“The things you humans eat!” He took it with such gentleness that the sugared sides bent only a little. The top of it he stroked. “Sticky. And so soft.” One last pass, and then he tucked it under his bulk. “Stings a little on the inner mouth – and crumbles at the beak. Interesting! What do you call it?” 

“A bun with icing and orange zest.” She rested her hand above his eye. “Should I bring you other desserts?” 

“Oh, yes.” He ruminated a moment, singing faint whale-song under his breath. “Should I bring you a seal?” 

Again she laughed. She did often with him, and rarely at home. “I don’t think my teeth are up to it.” 

“Squid?” 

“Cannibal,” she replied without the least rancor. He kept a sort of sea monster kosher for her: no men at all nor capsizing of fishing ships for their freight of fishes. 

“Since you’re not interested in a gift from me to match yours, tell me your worries.” He shifted, blocking the wind. 

She flicked a dismissive gesture. “Oh, they come at my age.” 

“They have not for me.” 


His brow-ridges made convenient places to set her hands when she wanted contact. “You’re younger than me. Another year and you will be full of woe with your coming of age.” She shook her head. “Marriage – society – they should be a part of my life, now, but are not. My company consists of yourself, my father’s merchants, my mother’s maids.” Now it was her turn to ruminate; lightly, he pressured her ankle. “The house is restive. They want a more elegant daughter to parade about.” 

“I would parade you in the hall of the monarchs of the ocean, if you could breathe water.” 

“I know.” She tapped her cheek, indicated her wetted feet. “I would suit it, wouldn’t I? But until such a time as I develop magical abilities, I must be canny and fear what they might in rashness do. Marry me to some brave young man willing to take an ugly wife for the sake of my father’s gold, perhaps.” 

“Why would they be foolish? You never spoke of them that way,” said he. 

“They were born country folk,” she said, quiet, “and the fear of failing their nobility is in them. Young ladies are married to young gentlemen, you see, or else become maiden aunts. Or – my father fears that. My mother does not fear or does not show fear, ever.” 

“You don’t speak of these things to me.” Remonstration, there; they could tolerate much from each other but never lies, neither explicit or of omission. Misunderstandings were too potentially dangerous. 

I could only explain them clearly now, I think.” She breathed out, glanced towards the sun riding the horizon. “I’m not used to fearing the future.” 

“Then don’t. You tell me that the future is choice and the present a starting point.” Those words came first from Father but sounded so different in the kraken’s mouth that it might as well have been a different maxim. “Why assume that the present will not give you better choices?” He touched her cheek. “Think of sugared buns and stories and sun dials for now. Brave young men can be met when they come. I could relocate them for you. Does that make you feel better?” 

“However impractical and short-sighted – yes. Now tell me about seal-hunting, Octavius.”


Sea Change is S. M. Wheeler's debut and it's out from Tor now! And speaking of Tor, they're letting me offer up some copies for a giveaway! Fill out the rafflecopter below before July 14 to enter to win one of two copies of the book. US only please.


a Rafflecopter giveaway




2 comments:

Josh Atkins said...

Looks like a great read. Thanks for the giveaway!

Twisty J said...

Thanks for the excerpt. I have been looking forward to reading this since I first heard about it a few months back. Great feature!