Friday, October 19, 2018

Want to read part of Mechanical Heart?

Hey'a, everyone! Guess what: Blood in the Snow releases exactly one week from today! Are you all ready? (Spoiler alert: I'm not ready. If anyone has a spare time turner, can I borrow it?) Currently, I'm running around trying to get everything ready for the blog tour, which means that normal content for this week is out the window. Instead, I decided to share some of Mechanical Heart, the other project I'm currently working on.

Mechanical Heart, Chapter One

Her heart beat on, as it always did.

Breen lay on the smooth wooden floor, eyes shut, waiting as her bones knit back together. The crystal in her chest burned with an almost unbearable heat as it fed magical energy into her body. Yet the clockwork of her heart pumped on unperturbedly.

She’d fallen. Again. That seemed to be happening more and more lately. She wondered how many stories it had been this time. Just one? Two? Three?

The heat from the crystal slowly faded as the last fractures healed. Breen tested her fingers, toes, arms, legs, almost hoping that something wouldn’t work. Perhaps if she were broken enough, Madame Gottling would have to take her somewhere other than the clock tower. But, no, all her limbs seemed functional once again.

With a sigh, she opened her eyes, sat up, and gathered the tools that had scattered from her belt. A glance up answered her earlier question: she’d fallen two stories this time. Not so bad, all things considered. She still remembered the time she’d fallen down four of the clock tower’s ten stories — more accurately, she remembered the pain after she’d fallen. Her injuries had healed in a mere fifteen minutes, but the pain hadn’t receded enough for her to move for another two hours.

Today, however, the pain was already half-gone, and there was nothing to stop her from continuing her work. Breen headed for the nearest flight of narrow iron stairs and climbed up, passing weights and counterweights and massive gears set with sparkling gems. Everything shone bronze or copper or, in the case of the gems, various shades of red, blue, and clear. Of course it shone — she had to clean it all while she checked for wear and breakage. As if magic could wear down. But this tower couldn’t stop any more than her heartbeat could.

The clock struck two just as she reached the second-to-top level where she’d been working. She couldn’t hear the tolling bells anymore. She couldn’t hear much of anything anymore. But the sound made the floor vibrate beneath her feet and up through her bones, and all the gems on the gears flashed like sudden stars, and Breen stood still and savored the moment.

Then the gems faded, and the tower stilled, and she had to go back to work. Breen stepped off the wooden walkway and straddled a long beam of grey steel. She slid herself along, carefully not looking down. She wasn’t afraid of heights, of course. But looking down was always how she fell.
She reached the spot where she’d been before her most recent tumble, locked her legs around the beam, and grabbed her polishing cloth from where it had snagged on the tooth of a gear. Then she inspected the nearest gears one by one and inch by inch, wiping away dust and dirt, occasionally scraping away specks of corrosion, checking for any signs of serious damage.

Eventually, Breen worked her way through the rest of that level and the two above. The final level brought her all the way to the very top of the tower, behind the great glass clock faces. She carefully checked and cleaned the smaller gears and the massive rods that turned the clock hands, then tucked her tools back in her belt and slowly relaxed. Madame Gottling would come tonight, but not until dark.

Free for the moment, Breen undid her toolbelt and dropped it to the floor. Then she climbed into the curve of the western clock face’s frame and curled up, resting her head against the wood. From here, she could stare out and watch the whole city spread out below her.

Years ago, when she’d first been brought to the clock tower, she’d feared to do this. They had warned her that she must never let herself be seen. That anyone who found her would call her a monstrosity and an abomination. But people never seemed to look up, and with the height and the afternoon sun glinting off the clock face, Breen doubted anyone would notice her.

She, however, noticed them.

Here, high above almost every other building in the city, she sat and watched life go by. The streets bustled with boxy black carriages, most horse-drawn, others horseless and puffing steam from pipes attached to the backs of the passenger boxes. On the sidewalks, men in black and brown suits and ladies in bright dresses hurried and strolled. Smoke flowed in ribbons and streamers above them and around the tower, pulled from the chimneys of homes and factories alike.

Over the slums and factory districts across the river, the smoke hung black and heavy as a bank of thunderclouds. But Breen only looked that way when she wanted to convince herself that her life wasn’t so bad. “You could be down there,” she’d tell herself, “slaving in a factory or mill from dawn to dusk like you used to, choked by smoke and never seeing the sky. At least here you have the view and you’re filling your family’s pockets instead of draining them.” Yet, despite her best efforts, she could never quite convince herself that she was truly lucky to be here.


What do you think? Are you intrigued? If you're interested, I'm currently looking for beta-readers for Mechanical Heart. Fill out the form here to sign up. (I'll make an official announcement of this later, but for now, y'all get first dibs.)
Thanks for reading! See you next week for the tour!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)


  1. I love this! Wish I could beta read it, but I'm barely keeping up with my current reads.
    It sounds fantastic!

    1. I get it. I'm struggling a little too, to be honest. Glad you enjoyed this!

  2. Yes, I'm very intrigued! I love the combination of magic and steampunk.


I'd love to hear your thoughts! But remember: it pays to be polite to dragons.