The slump continues.

I’ve managed to go from 30,000 to a touch over 50,000 words on the latest manuscript, and it’s not nearly finished. The tentative title of Witchbreed’s Fire has gone by the wayside in favor of another title that is more in keeping with the first book in this duet. I’m now calling it Daughter of the Deepwood.

Get your minds out of the gutter, folks.

Here’s how the thought goes: In the same world as Daughter of the Twin Moons, there’s another race of fae called the Daimónio Refstófae who reign over a land called Daimónagi. Students of classical languages will recognize the incorporation of Greek here. The race name loosely means “fluid demon” with “fae” added to it. These are a race of shape-shifting (fluid) fae. Most of the story takes place within the capital which is also a sentient mountain fortress, à la Minis Tirith from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings story. In my story, though, the fortress is called Froúrio Daimónafae, which basically means “demon castle” with “fae” tacked on it.

I have to keep using copy-and-paste, because I haven’t yet internalized the spellings. Sloppy of me, I know.

So… the story begins in a prison in the human realm of Fyrgia, which has Biblical, not LOTR, associations (

Phrygia). Our hero, Lord Captain Falco of the Daimónagi High Guard, contemplates his not-so-joyful future of torture when he hears a voice from the other side of the wall between prison cells. That other voice belongs to our heroine, Calista. She’s been a prisoner much longer than Falco.

Without getting into details, they escape. However, Calista’s injuries are too severe for fae healing. Indebted to Calista for her part in their escape, Falco takes her to the heart of the Great Forest, known as the Deepwood, where the two ancient and powerful guardians dwell. The unicorn guardians agree to heal her, but their healing manifests as something other than mere “restoration.” As part of his debt of honor, Falco vows to join his soul with Calista’s, which means he must relinquish his expectations of a marriage to the Lord General’s lovely daughter, Sorcinnia.

Thus far, the adjustment period occupies much of the book. Calista is Witchbreed, not fae, and therefore different in a race and culture that prizes conformity. Froúrio Daimónafae, a Dwarf gardener, and a Pixie maid befriend her as she tries to find a place for herself and occupation within Daimónagi society and reconcile that she is not Falco’s choice of bride.

Since this is a fantasy romance, Falco’s affection for Calista grows, as well as hers for him. In a departure from my usual stuff, we’re not dealing with “instalust” or love at first sight. Heck, I’ve gone 50,000-plus words into the book and they’ve hardly done more than kissed. There’s a good reason for that, not the least of which is Falco’s determination to treat his bride with honor.

I begin to wonder if Falco’s version of romance hero is a backlash against the arrogant, womanizing jerks that serve as hero material in most romances today.