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Friday, September 25, 2015

Revised Writing Schedule

According to my original writing schedule, I should be getting close to releasing Hawklady in a few days or weeks.

That's not how things played out.

I have a rare medical condition known as dysautonomia, and over the course of the last ten days or so I have enjoyed three separate ER visits followed by hospital stays.  If some of you may recall, I had an attack just a day or so after the release of Enchanter.  Same thing, only a longer and more vicious attack this time.

While my brilliant wife is figuring out what's wrong with me in connection with the entire medical research establishment, that has put a damper on my writing, and after consultation with the docs I'm going to have to slow things down for the rest of the year, while I accommodate some medical-related travel, tests, and shamanistic practices.  That wouldn't be a problem, if I'd been writing the 17 chapter, 90k word Hawklady at the time.

I wasn't writing Hawklady at the time.

When I got back from my hiatus after the post-Enchanter hospitalization, instead of sticking to the schedule like a good boy, I started writing (and have continued writing) Court Wizard, Pentandra's story, instead.  I'm a good bit into it, and hope to get a good deal more into it in the next month, but thanks to the whims of the gods an the nature of managed care, I don't have a definite release date, page count, or other details just yet.  Hell, not even sure how it ends yet.  But it should be over 150k words and likely out sometime in October/November, but I cannot promise anything yet.

Here's what I can promise:

1) Special Yule Surprise in terms of marketing/worldbuilding . . . details to come! (Excited about this one - Lanse of Bune is all over it)

2) YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST: CreateSpace and Audible versions of Spellmonger are in the works!  Details to come!  More books to come!

3) More shorts.  Yeah, yeah, I know, you've heard it all before.  But you'll see more shorts before you see another novel.

4) More updates.  I'm recovering, so I've been ignoring things for awhile, but I'm ramping up a bit now.

5) Yes, I've been working on TO.  No, it's not finished.  Yes, you'll be the first to know.

Thanks, folks.  I was so hoping for six books and six shorts by the end of the year.  Let's see what happens.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to writing.

After a hospital stay immediately following the publication of Enchanter, and a subsequent much-needed vacation from Spellmonger, I knocked out the first chapter of the next book yesterday.  It will still take me awhile to get back in my groove/routine, but IF all goes well (heh) and Ifnia is with me, I'm hoping to have it out by the end of September.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Enchanter Final Kindle Edition Live!

Find it right here:*Version*=1&*entries*=0

The edits remove at least 70%of the typos!

Also find special bonus section in the book, "A History Of Gramary By Master Ulin of Setria" . . . 

. . . and a new, never-before-seen short story, "Checkered Past".  

Also now available on Kindle Unlimited.  As is Hawkmaiden, for the first time:

Sales of the Beta were strong - thank you!  I'm going to be taking most of July off from Sevendor, but I'll be cranking around the first week in August on Hawklady.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Enchanter (Beta) Spoiler discussion thread

If you've grabbed a copy of Enchanter and want to vent, here's where you can do it.  If you haven't read it yet, don't read the comments here, because they will be laden with spoilers.

Sales have been stellar of the Beta version.  Enchanter debuted at 1054 on the total Kindle sales list, and jumped up to 662 before I had my coffee.  That's nice, because I'm feeling poorly after my transmission fiasco.  Good news on that is it might be a $20 fix, not a $2000 fix.  Gotta figure out which divinity specializes in transmissions so I can thank them properly,

  Some more artwork in process: a selection of traditional cummocks, the standard tool of arcane medical practice.

Go ahead, discuss.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Enchanter Beta is up!*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Feast, my friends.  Hope it doesn't suck.

Considering a Beta release . . .

Okay, I'm down to the annoying Finishing Touches stage of the process, but I've still got outstanding art, maps, and corrections coming in.  The book itself is more or less done, and I'm pretty confident that the changes coming will be minor, Maybe this is the wrong crowd to seriously consider me postponing release until it's "perfect", but as it stands I have a book essentially ready to publish.

I know y'all are used to me doing a beta release, and most of you have come to see my grammatical and editorial errors in an affectionate light - I'd like to think it was part of the unique charm of witnessing the growth of a fantasy world, but that could be a complete rationalization.  I've improved my craft and used two outstanding folks to improve the final quality of the prose.  It's my ultimate goal to get to the point where I release a ready-to-read book up to professional publishing standards.

Thing is, I'm a self-publisher, and while my professional aspirations are high, this format is an emerging art.  I'm willing to take advantage of the ephemeral nature of electrons to release a Beta product and correct and augment it for a hard release come July 1.  During that beta release, Enchanter would be available for sale only, at a slightly reduced price ($4.99 as opposed to $5.99) and would not be eligble for KDP Select borrowing until July 1.

That's just under two weeks of having to suffer an imperfect product.  I don't think that's unreasonable, and anyone who wants to wait for the finished result can do so.  There's also risk in that.  The book might suck, and early reviews could tank it.

So what do you think?  And just to give you something else to stare at, here's the basic plan of Minalan's new gatehouse.  It's unfinished, yet, as the final exterior hasn't been designed, but this is what the structure is planned to look like, peeking over the shoulder of Sevendor Castle.

Monday, June 15, 2015

I'm teasing you to death . . . here's the cover blurb for Enchanter.

I'd say "Spoiler Alert", but I don't think that's fair to do with cover blurbs.  They function to give you some hint about the plot, which has been the subject of a tremendous amount of speculation lately.  I'm almost reluctant to show y'all this, simply because it will end the discussion about what it might be about, but the fact is that I'm at that point in the process where it's time to release the draft of the cover blurb.

Before we get to that, however, a note about the genre known as Epic Fantasy.

As most of you are familiar with the great examples of the genre, as am I, you might be growing impatient for the great battle between Sheruel and the Spellmonger.  That is by design.  The purpose of Epic Fantasy isn't to portray an action movie, it's to establish the epic (and episodic) nature of story development.  The plots for good Epic Fantasy should not resolve themselves quickly or easily (or Tolkien would have had Frodo and Sam ride the Eagles to Oroduin over the heads of a million orcs in the Fellowship, and ended the story there) and they should be as complex and as sophisticated as real life, in my opinion.  One of my goals in writing this series is to explore the long-term, gradual transformation of the young punk Minalan into the sage, wise, and powerful Spellmonger.

This will not be a quick process.

Part of that is because I like long stories that explore all the nooks and crannies of the world.  Part of this is because I think it's fascinating to watch a character grow and evolve, subject to the same sorts of issues and problems that most people have.  And part of it is because the Kindle format encourages such episodic, long plotted narratives to keep you guys happy and me paying my mortgage.

The downside of this is that you will have to wait a good long while - at least another 10 books, if not more - before the last epic battle.  The upside is that by the time we get there, your entire perspective on that battle and the combatants will have changed, if you can hang on that long.  And the process of getting there will be, I think you'll find, a fascinating study on the development of Minalan as a character.

Enchanter goes places that few, if any, epic fantasy novels have gone before.  We get inside Min's head in a way that we never do with Aragorn or Gandalf or even Harry.

That's not to say that it's overly bloody and exciting, and some of my more action-oriented readers will likely find themselves bored.  I understand up front that I'm going to be criticized and even lose a few readers over this.

But I found the exploration worthwhile, and that's the direction I plan on going.  If you're looking for an endless body count, you have at least two more books to wait on before we get there.  Indeed, much of the major plot points in Enchanter happen to other people off-stage, adding to Min's level of frustration.  It may well add to your own.  There is a WHOLE lot of world-building in this book; in a way, it's a direct sequel to Magelord.  There is war and battle, but that's not the focus.

Beyond the plotting and the psychology, this book was difficult in another way: I had to contrive an entire magical terminology for the process, technical discussion and culture of Enchantment.  That might sound like a fairly easy thing, but I don't do things like that lightly.  The result of my research efforts will be included with the book, a glossary entitled "Minalan's Thaumaturgic Orismology of Enchantment", more than 12 pages long.  There are a LOT of arcane and re-purposed words in this collection, which might lead to some confusion without the glossary.  I look forward to seeing how it is received.

In any case, you've been patient long enough.  Here's the Blurb.   I'll be posting a few more items of interest as we get closer to publication, trying not to get too spoiler-y with it, but y'all deserve to know what's going to be in Book 7 of the Spellmonger Series:

Minalan The Moody
 Meanwhile, back at the castle . . . Minalan the Spellmonger faces the boredom of house arrest after being confined to his lands by Prince Tavard for his defiance with the Wilderlands refugees.  The Alka Alon have returned to their seclusion, dealing with their own crisis, the Dead God is being quiet within the Umbra, and Min’s plans toward re-establishing a functional Duchy of Alshar are progressing. 
Min sees his punishment as a unique opportunity to indulge in thaumaturgical research.  When the Sevendor Magic Fair brings a tide of enchanters eager for snowstone, irionite, and opportunity to his door (as well as the newly-formed Arcane Knights of Nablus, the successors of the Censorate in Merwyn), Minalan uses his wealth and position to invite them to stay on in Sevendor over the winter and focus on the developing art of Enchantment. 
He forms the first Bouleuterion, a conclave of enchanters dedicated to producing and researching the creation of magical items, since the fall of the Magocracy.  Such notable enchanters as Lanse of Bune, Taren, and Masters Andalnam and Cormoran arrive to help Minalan and his staff of experts push the frontiers of magical science as far as he can.  Even Lorcus, Tyndal and Rondal help out.  His secret mission is, of course, to fathom the complexities of the secret Snowflake of Sevendor, the enigmatic pseudo-molopor created from Minalan’s fevered subconscious . . . but not before they improve the lot of the peasantry by creating a wealth of labor-saving (and potentially socially revolutionary) devices.
But enchanters and former Censors are not the only ones to arrive at the fair: Baron and Baroness Greenflower,  Magelords Dunselen and Isily, come to Sevendor as well . . . and the results are explosive.  Before they depart Minalan’s entire life is thrown into doubt.  Especially when a new divinity appears to make him an offer the Spellmonger just can’t refuse. 
As Minalan works through his psychological issues by obsessively focusing on his craft, he must also nimbly maneuver his way around an inevitable war between Sendaria and Sashtalia, protect his vulnerable domains, deftly negotiate his course through the tangle of feudal law and obligation in the Bontal Vales, and contend with his troubled marriage. 
His frustration, guilt, and doubt are soon revealed to be authored by a secret plot against him.  The return of an old enemy and the revelation of new foes challenges his position as head of the Arcane Orders and puts his entire family in jeopardy.  Could it be that Is Minalan’s new eleven-year-old apprentice, Ruderal, the only one capable of seeing through the deceptions in time to save them all even as he struggles with his own guilt about his role in releasing Korbal the undead Demon God from his tomb?  Or will their fates lie on the whims of a former lover who has ambitions of her own for Minalan? 
It’s hard for the Spellmonger to be forced to stay at home and quietly tend to his own business.  But then Minalan never let such things impede his plans before . . . why would he now?  With the Snowflake of Sevendor, a mighty cadre of powerful magi, some inspired vassals and the assistance of a few friendly gods, Minalan realizes that the only real way out of his personal and political mess may lie with an ancient intelligence of a long-extinct race . . . and his ability to become a master Enchanter!

BONUS: One of the maps from the book!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

My first fan art! And a quick book update...

This lovely picture was created and sent to me by a reader from Italy, Giorgia, and I just had to share it.  It's a beautiful rendition of Lenodara.

Also wanted to do a quick update on the book: I'm half-way through the re-write, but I'm not quite going to be done by the 12th.  I'm just getting the first chapters to the proofreader, back from the editor, If everything goes well, Enchanter should be out sometime next week.  

Fingers crossed . . . 

EDIT: Wanted to point out that the hold up here is ME, not my editor or proofreader.  They are both magnificent about getting my stuff back in a timely manner - compared to other authors, I've got a NASCAR pit crew working on these books.  It's the nut behind the wheel who keeps making revisions and additions and holing things up.  Just wanted to be clear about that Emily and Tim are outstanding.  It's me who sucks.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Just finished the rough draft of Enchanter

40 chapters, plus I'll be doing an Epilogue when I finish the rewrite.  Over 200,000 words.  First 15 chapters have gone to the editor, and I've done the rewrite of the first 2.

It's a big book.  Stuff happens.  But some people might be bored.  Just sayin'.

Everyone else, though . . .


“The fundamental goal of enchantment is to root the effects of a magical spell to reside within a physical object to improve its utility.  It is among the greatest achievements of thaumaturgical skill to accomplish even the most elementary of enchantments.  Once constructed and understood, the art of the enchanter can only improve with practice and repetition.”

The Florilegum of Basic Thaumaturgy

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

UPDATE:Make that 40. Okay . . . looks like Enchanter is going to be about 35 chapters.

It just got a little complicated.  Still grinding away, just started Chapter 28.  First batch is with the editor.  Still looking like an early June release at this point.  Fingers crossed . . .

Update: No, it will be closer to 40.  Sometimes it just takes that long.  On Ch. 34 now.  Still anticipating a June release.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

UPDATED: Officially Two Thirds Through the Rough Draft of Enchanter

I just finished off Chapter 20 of the planned 30 chapter novel, and I thought I'd let y'all know.  If all works as planned, it should be done and ready to publish around June 1. 2015.  Maybe earlier, we'll see how it works.

Reflections on the book at this point:  this is essentially Magelord II, or Meanwhile, Back At The Castle . . .

Minalan is grounded.  He has to sit at home and hear about other people's adventures, and it's frustrating.  But he's also got a chance to do some truly innovative enchantment, and he takes that opportunity in a big way.  This is NOT an exciting adventure novel - it's more like the first Iron Man movie.  Lots of world building.  But lots of psychological stuff, too.

I'm tempted to say "nothing much happens" in this book, because in some ways it sets the action up for the next two.  But that's not true, of course.  Stuff happens.  But some of it is subtle and some of it is disappointing, and a lot of it concerns Min's mental landscape because of some stuff that happens.  So . . . stuff happens, just not drop-a-boulder-on-a-dragon stuff. More like you-summoned-WHAT-deity? stuff.

I admit, there's a bit of a risk of doing a novel without a high body count, but I think the next two will make up for it in intriguing ways.  This is the story about Min coming into his power as a regional player, as well as a kingdom-wide player.  Church-state issues come to the fore, as does the nitty-gritty of feudal politics.  The Dead God is still quiet.  Murmurs and rumors of dark things in the Penumbra are overtaken by an era of prosperity as the new kingdom enjoys a honeymoon period along with the Prince  And there's a plot - a wicked, wicked plot against the Spellmonger.

And then there's that Snowflake thing in his basement . . .

Just to tease you a bit, here's the working map of Sevendor Town I'm using, and will likely publish (with a few embellishments) with the novel.  It should be around 150-175000 words.  And I'm thinking about kicking the price up a buck.  Thoughts?

UPDATED:  Well, why not let y'all see a sample chapter?  I told you nothing much happens,

A Theological Debate

The Domain of Bastidor enjoyed the distinction of being the gateway to the Sevendor Vales, which until a few years ago hadn’t been much of a distinction.  It’s a gently sloping land that follows the Ketta from where it emerges and joins three sister streams, before slowing, flattening, and watering the slanting vale below and churning north to Kest, where it joined the larger Ardriole river from the eastern hem of the mountains.

It’s not a rich land, but the wide vales did contain pockets of arable land that sustained a decent agrarian economy – enough to support a couple of small estates and a single castle, before I selected Sevendor to be my home.  The villagers used the river to water their crops during the dry season (making them particularly susceptible to upstream interference, a fact we’d used against the Warbird, when he’d owned the domain) and took enough fish from the streams and enough game from the scrublands and forest to the east to supplement their barley-and-oat diet.

All of that changed, when I came to Sevendor.  Within two years Bastidor had gone from being the sleepy road to nowhere to being the staging area of a major offensive against a formerly harmless little vale.  But its very proximity had protected it from my full wrath, when I had come to lift the siege of my home, leaving a trail of conquered domains behind me.  I knew the Lord of Bastidor was in a tough spot, and I didn’t hold that against him.  I didn’t destroy his castle when I conquered his land, and gave it back to him in vassalage to me when he swore fealty.

Since its conquest, Bastidor had become a changed land.  The small village there had grown as my domain had prospered, merely on the number of passerby.  After the war and the new snowflake banner overhead, it had prospered far more as the land most proximate to my personal domain.
Bastidor’s central village, Anilupe, had grown two inns in the two years that I’d owned it.  Bastidor Castle overlooked it, half a mile off the road on the western ridge; it had doubled in size itself in that time under my direction, as I encouraged LordMotaran to guard my approach.  A larger keep was being built, far more slowly than mine, behind the modest tower keep I’d inherited.  The bailey was also being doubled in size, to accommodate the vale’s greater population.

That was difficult, up on the ridge.  Far beyond the skills of the homegrown masons in the area.  Sire Motaran had instead hired a trio of monks to direct the work.   We had agreed upon a long, narrow bailey flanking the tower on the opposite side of the present works, and that’s where the monks had dedicated their efforts.  That might seem unnecessarily vulnerable, even with a decent curtain wall, but the monks had cunningly laid the foundations for a large, three-story gatehouse at the far end of the wall.

The gatehouse would face south, at the top of a steep incline that forced any approaching foe to show their flanks (and in some cases at the switchbacks, their backs) to the long crenelated wall they were building.  The gatehouse itself would eventually sport machiolations that would allow defenders to pelt invaders as they tried to bash in the heads of anyone who made their way across the rocky moat.  And then surmounted the drawbridge.  And a double portcullis.

Sire Motaran and his kin had held this land since Lensely times, his family reluctantly succumbing to Sire Gimbal’s threats and demands to take his colors when he had little other choice.  He had been equally reluctant to be a player in a war against a neighboring domain, but had pleaded with his liege on behalf of his people to settle the matter peacefully.  Once he had been conquered, he had been willing to swear again, to keep his lands, and he had feared my retribution mightily when he took his oath.

But since his submission, his little domain had done well.  Not only the inns, where travelers awaited the morn to take the Bastidor Pass through the Enchanted Forest, but the smith, the tradesmen, even the villeins who lived in hamlets along the Ketta or in freeholds up on the ridges had prospered under my rule.  Especially after I had subsidized the new construction of the castle for their lord, and Banamor had begun expanding his business interests here.

Now the Snowflake flew over Bastidor’s red stag on a white field as we rode up to the gate of the castle late that afternoon.  Of course we’d been spotted as soon as we’ crossed the frontier, and the sentries in the tower had seen the banner Sir Festaran carried, so the keep had at least a little warning of the impending arrival of twenty five unexpected guests, but Sire Motaran accounted himself well.
The man met me at the gate of his keep, on foot, and personally led my horse into the bailey, welcoming me to his hall with formal respect.  He seemed genuinely pleased to see us, if surprised.

“A brief inspection tour of the eastern domains of the barony,” I assured him.  “You heard, I take it, that we have western domains, now?”

“Scarce has a tale come of anything else since Duin’s Day,” he chuckled as he helped me down from my mount.  “The minstrels say you built a wall of gold between Sashtalia and Sevendor.”

“That would be overstating it – but not by much,” I agreed.  “I see it as a wise strategic investment.  And it vexes Sashtalia, so it was worth the expense.”

“Does this mean we enter the war on the side of Sendaria?” he asked, his emotions concerning the matter hidden as best he could behind his beard.

“No, it means we watch from the sidelines, unless someone does something untoward.  Then I’ll consider the proper response.”

“I am relieved to hear it, truth to say, Excellency,” Motaran said with a bit of a sigh.  “I see little gain in the exercise, save entertainment . . . but if the honor of my baron demands it . . .”

“The honor of your baron demands a drink for me and a meal and a bed for my men,’ I dismissed.

“If I wanted glory in war, I’d set my sights higher than Trefalan and his cronies.  But that doesn’t mean we cannot remain vigilant, nor do I wish my existing vassals to feel slighted over the expense I’ve devoted to the new.  I bring some gifts, after the inspection.”

“As fortune would have it, Landfather Miton is at the castle, returning from blessing the fields of Trestendor.  Would you mind if the good abbot shared our table?”

“I’d be more than pleased,” I agreed.  “I’m anxious to hear how this year’s services went.”
The actual inspection took three hours, and mostly consisted of me following Motaran around and listening to how well construction was going on the wall.  I met the monks in charge of the construction, three swarthy-looking Remeren devotees of Avital, the Imperial god of engineering, math, and magic.

Now there’s a deity I would love to speak to, I recall noting at the time.

The three gray-robed monks oversaw an encampment of masons and peasant laborers at the far end of the new bailey, where they were laying the foundations of the gatehouse.  They were intelligent fellows, professional engineers who had that Imperial disdain for anything Narasi overlaid liberally with an obsequious manner reserved for employers who paid in cash.

The Avitalines had a reputation as an officious bunch, compared to most of even the other Imperial clergy, but you couldn’t argue with their results.  Masters of organization and meticulous record-keepers, they had contributed brother engineers to every major construction project in the Duchies since before they were duchies.

Except mine.  I’d hired the Karshak instead, and that proved to be something of a problem for the monks, as I disovered.  After indignantly (and very politely) chewing me out for using non-human labor and management for the project, they then begged by the many long names of their god for a chance to tour the great work.
I consented only after getting them to agree to use magic in the construction of the new section of castle, though I didn’t put it that way.  They made the usual complaints about the low quality of the local labor.  When they got to how long it took to shape a single stone for inclusion in the wall, that’s when I produced a Bricking Wand and showed them how they could quadruple their production with magic.
I had Erenwal the Wall demonstrate the technique – he’d be the new castle warmage, after all.  Sire Motaran was certainly impressed, when the warmage deftly broke five different rocks into near-perfect building stones in less than five minutes.
“Amazing, Excellency!” the head monk, Brother Iral, declared, as he brushed the rubble away from the smooth surface.  “But have you not deprived a common man of five days’ work, now?” he asked, in almost a hurt tone.
“Do you think we lack for work, Brother?” I countered, gazing around at the three hundred feet of curtain wall they were slowly building.  “A man now has five days to lay and place the blocks, and perhaps enough gold will remain to build a few towers along the wall, eh?”
“I . . . see your point, Excellency,” Brother Iral said, doubtfully.  “The wall can be built more quickly, this way.  Far more quickly.  And you can build it more elaborately,” he conceded.
“And the more elaborate the fortification, the more intelligent monks I must employ,” I reminded them.  “I now have many more castles to repair and reinforce – why would I waste money on doing it the old way, when magic can speed the process?”

The three of them glanced at each other.  “Just . . . how many more castles?”

“Three, four lifetimes’ worth,” I shrugged.

They reconsidered their objections, and after that were quite happy having Erenwal use the wands for them.

Erenwal the Wall was a good warmage – of the six I’d hired, he was the one I knew best.  He’d been all the way to the City of Rainbows and back with me, and had never once asked for a witchstone.  To my mind that made him not just trustworthy, but demonstrated amazing control.  I wanted that kind of man in charge of my domain’s outer defenses.

Bastindor Castle was of sudden strategic importance because it overlooked the easiest route to my domain.  A stout defense here by determined vassals could keep anyone from ever getting to the Diketower, not to mention the lands and castle beyond.  I needed a loyal lord, a stout castle, and a strong warmage overseeing this piece of our defense, and Erenwal was the man for the job.

They didn’t call him The Wall for nothing.  He’s a big, broad-shouldered man, but that wasn’t what named him.  He did specialize in defensive magic, actually, but he got his nickname for his combat style.  Early in his career he and his squadron had been pinned down in a barn by crossbowmen.  Unable to see a better option, He cut the leather hinges on the barn door, wrapped his broad arms around it, and charged his attackers with no better weapon at hand.  His mates fell in behind him and not only secured escape, but captured most of the archers.

That was the kind of man I wanted to pay a lot of money to sit on his arse and guard my front door.
As most warmagi Erenwal had a non-combat specialty too – not sex magic or thaumaturgy, as I’d explored, or even enchantment.  His interest involved the lore of the stars, and he found Bastindor’s secluded environs ideal for viewing the sky at night.

Sire Motaran did not see much utility in such study, but he appreciate a veteran warrior when he saw one, and the two men got along well from the start.

“A warmage, Excellency?” he asked, as he washed my hands for me before dinner.  “Here in Bastidor?”

“This is a mageland now,” I observed.  “Having a few magi around keeps people from talking.  Do you object?”

“Me? Nay, Sire!  Object to the expense it must cost you, perhaps,” he said, warily.

“I have no intention on passing that cost along to you, Motaran,” I assured.  “It’s matter of baronial security, so it will be a cost borne by the barony – which has better ways of making money that squeezing it from peasants and smallholders.  Can you house the man?”

“Oh, aye, we’ve the room – we’ll have plenty, when the new section of keep is finished.  He can stay in my hall until his own chamber is complete, of course.  And you say he’ll be mine to command?”
“Your advisor, more than your servant,” I corrected.  “These men have been schooled in my policies and have been given what tools I can provide them to make them formidable in their posts.  But while they answer to me, alone, I have instructed them to lend their aid and assistance to you with magic as they can – and anything they cannot do, they shall pass along a request to my Court Wizard, Dranus, for consideration.”

“I aim to be an asset, not a burden, my lord,” Erenwal assured him, politely.  “Nor a spy – I will tell my master what he wishes to know, but I do not linger here to put my nose in your household business.  That was made quite clear to me by the Spellmonger.”

“It’s not that I don’t welcome the assistance,” Motaran said, as he walked me to the high table where his wife, daughter, sister, two brothers, and young son all sat with Brother Miton.  He gave me the courtesy of leading me to the awninged chair which was clearly his, and sitting in his wife’s less-ornate chair beside me.  “Never has a knight been so pleasantly conquered.  My domain has never thrived like this before.”

“It sounds as if there might be a ‘but’ in that sentence, my lord,” Landfather Miton said, bowing to us formally with the rest of the household.  “Do you still bear the Spellmonger some doubt?”

“Not doubt, Father,” Motaran sighed.  “Just suspicion born of ignorance.  My villeins were shocked when you plowed their fields in a day, depriving them of weeks of toil.  Now the baron has given my masons a tool that will deprive them of yet more labor – yet that labor is owed.  And the men who once counted on my reeves hiring them to plow the remainder of my demesne are now wondering how they will survive the spring without the pay work.”

I cursed in my mind, and then absently shot my eyes to Brother Hotfoot, who looked amused at the end of the table.  “Well, then they can apply to the castle works, where they can earn the given wage instead; or they can work for hire on improving the road through Bastidor, as I’ve had my villeins do; or they can take their plows up to the ridges and plow for the smallholders, if they have the fortitude to go so far for so little.”

“They will not like that, my lord,” Father Miton observed.

“They would not like a great many things,” I countered.  “Indeed all my life I’ve heard that plowing is the most hateful toil – sorry, Father – a man can be condemned to.  Here I’ve lifted that from them, and they complain.  Let them complain further, when the harvest is twice as abundant as last year.”
“There are worse burdens to bear,” conceded Miton.  “Father, will you give the blessing?”

The meal was a fine one, casual and formal at the same time.  Motaran did his best to honor both his secular master and his spiritual advisor.  I learned, in fact, that not only did Bastidor have close ties to Seratodor, the tiny ecclesiastic estate he ran two domains to the west, but Motaran and Miton proved to be both first and second cousins, on different sides of the family.  Miton had become Motaran’s spiritual advisor not only because Motaran was a pious – and openhanded – worshipper, but because they were kin.  That kinship had been part of the basis of the good abbot’s attempt at intervening in Sire Gimbal’s aggressions.  This had been in his family’s backyard.

Since then, the abbot had been a good friend to Sevendor, and I’d made sure that his temple had prospered accordingly.  Every major holiday Sire Cei had sent a present to the man’s estate, and many of my people had done likewise.  That didn’t necessarily buy me the favor of the Divine Tiller, but it did give me the attention of his important clergy.  Father Miton rumbled through a powerful and moving blessing of the bread in the name of the Tiller, and praised his name for the fruits of the earth he was to bless us with at harvest.

Of course the actual god at the table couldn’t resist shooting off his mouth.

“Landfather, Huin the Tiller has never been known as a god of magic . . . how do you think he would feel, to have one of his sacred precincts overtaken by mere enchantment?  Spiritually speaking, is it the grain that grows from soil that hasn’t been plowed truly a blessing from the Divine Tiller?” he asked, as he held his cup out for wine.  The bastard.

“I anticipated such spiritual questions, Brother . . . Hotfoot, did you say?  Which is why I plowed the First Furrow around the entire perimeter of the fields to be prepared.  Huin’s demand for the sacrifice of sweat in the soil was thus fulfilled,” the hardy old priest assured, equally amused.  “I prayed long and hard to reach the solution, but as long as some sweat is mixed with the land, then the prescription is fulfilled.  And it was quite the warm day, when I plowed that furrow.”

Motaran’s family kept quiet – theological debates were entertainment, for the aristocracy.  Never much favored them, myself.  The monks kept at it.

“Oh, I have no doubt as to either the piety or the sincerity of the sacrifice,” chuckled the masquerading god.  “No doubt the peasants are satisfied by the boon of freedom, at your expense.  Yet . . . is Huin satisfied?”

“Huin’s blessing is the weight of the grain in the fields,” Father Miton observed, wryly.  “Come harvest, we shall see if the sweaty feet of one priest is equal to that of hundreds of peasants.  Come, does your own lord discount the travails of those who journey by cart, horse, or wain, merely because they chose a more expedient method of travel than their feet?”

Hotfoot conceded the point with a nod.  But the bastard couldn’t leave well enough alone.  “Yet those who journey by foot are accounted the most pious, in his estimation, from what I understand.  The sacrifice of human effort for the journey is what supports his power, not the sweat of a roncey or the squeak of an axle.”

“That would be Kulin’s province, if I am not mistaken, in this land,” Brother Iral said, hesitantly.  “The gods are a bit different, where we come from.”

“Yet are you brothers not concerned with using arcane devices in pursuit of your divine orders?” Hotfoot asked, holding out his cup again.  “Do not the Bricking Wands and other toys of the enchanters spoil the pious nature of the work?”

Brother Iral shrugged in his oversized gray clerical robe, complete with ceremonial smock embroidered with the compass-and-square symbol of his temple.  “Brother, Avital is a god of magic as well as the deep craft of engineering.  While few of our brethren have followed that path in the last few centuries, there is no spiritual sin in using the arcane forces of nature to aid in the Holy Work.”
“It just seems to be cheating a bit,” Hotfoot observed, airily, “depriving the human soul of its natural challenges through the expedient of the supernatural.”

Brother Iral, may his god bless him, snorted derisively. “Why, would you have us eschew the forces of gravity or friction or leverage in the completion of our rites as well?  The purpose of our order is to build to the glory of Avital’s holy vision, using his divine teachings and lore to improve the lot of man through sacred geometry, engineering . . . and magic.  Our novices learn the Laws of Magic as faithfully as they learn the Laws of Motion, and memorize the Padu and the Parensi as faithfully as they do the Periada.”

That was impressive – there were few outside of scholarly magi who even knew what the basic Imperial system for channeling magic was, or the twenty basic laws of how magic affected the physical world – the Padu and the Parensi, in the Imperial school of magic – though many were familiar with the more well-known Periada, the Periodic Table of the Lesser Elements.  Why, I realized, these fellows had half of Imperial magic down, if they but had the rajira to use it!

“Yet from his reputation, he delights in honest toil,” Hotfoot insisted, as the porridge course was served.

“Yet he also blesses those who use their ingenuity and the principles of engineering to fulfill his divine vision,” insisted Brother Iral, confidently.  “Inspiration and ingenuity are always preferred to needless toil.  Indeed, to indulge in such inefficiencies when better ways are available is an affront to Avital’s grace.”

“I concede the point,” Hotfoot sighed, with a punctuating belch.  “Bloody Imperial gods . . .” he mumbled under his breath.

I breathed a sigh of relief.  The last thing I wanted was for a spirited theological debate to turn into a referendum on mixing magic and the other crafts just as I was trying to push forward the art of enchantment to new levels.

I would have words with Hotfoot.  Bloody Narasi god.  Of magic, no less.

But Herus’ interest in magic was very specialized, and limited by his folksy nature.  The spells he was devoted to overseeing were the common-man’s enchantments and simple resource charms, tailored specifically for travel.  The magic of the common footwizard. And he was one of our major gods of magic.

I had to admit, though my people’s pantheon was robust and lively, they had a barbaric understanding of magic that I would have to constantly struggle against, I realized.  The institution of the Censorate had given a presence to their superstitious fears, developed over centuries of being blasted on the steppes by Imperial warmagi, but the cultural bias against it was stronger than the stubborn pride with which much of the minor aristocracy boasted of their illiteracy.  A knight might grudgingly allow his son to study his letters with the priests, to better rule his estate -- but any interest in the study of magic was met with revulsion, thanks to the Bans.

At least in the largely-Narasi duchies of Castal and Alshar.  The remnants of Imperial culture in Remere had allowed that duchy and its theological descendants of the Magocracy to thrive with a far more enlightened attitude, as Brother Iral demonstrated.  But that did lead to my inevitable question.

“Tell me, Brother,” I asked, casually, as I pushed away my empty bowl, doing my best to maintain my composure, “do any of your initiates ever demonstrate rajira?  I assume they come to you early in their youth, as most young monks do.”

Brother Iral looked uncomfortable, for a moment, then glanced around at the table at the magi and priests and nobility of magelands.  He sighed, as if revealing a closely-held secret.

“There is a temple to which these young initiates are sent, if they show signs of displaying Talent.  Once such monks were carefully cultivated, back in the days of the Magocracy,” he explained, reluctantly, “and before the Conquest they often arose to the highest ranks of our small order.  Magic and engineering, together, accomplished the greatest of glories when Avital’s hand is involved in the work, our rites declare.”

“But what happens to them now?” I urged, genuinely curious.

Iral was nearly trembling, so great was the weight of his revelation.  I don’t know if Herus had a hand in his decision to tell us or not, but he is surprisingly persuasive.  “They are sent to a small temple on an island estate, off the coast of Remere, where brothers experienced in such matters observe them during sacred mysteries and trials.  Those who prove to have an . . . over-abundance of rajira, such as to attract undue attention to our order, are sent beyond the sea, to our sister-temples in Unstara or Farise.”

“But I was at Farise during the war with the Mad Mage,” I protested.  “I saw a lot of temples there – some to gods that haven’t been worshipped since the Early Magocracy.  I don’t recall seeing a temple to Avital there.”

“It is not presented as such,” the Remerean monk said, guardedly.  “Due to the nature of the politics there, and our desire for seclusion, security and secrecy for that element of the Sacred Mysteries, it is known as the Order of Fullr the Geodesarch,” he explained.  “One of our most ancient and sacred temples.”

It was as if a magelight suddenly illuminated over my head.

I spent about a year in Farise as part of the occupation – a lot of us did, as the city was crawling with the Mad Mage’s spells, and our assistance was needed.  Me, Terleman, Sandoval, Azar, we all had the run of the city in that pleasant, I’m-In-Charge sort of way that occupying armies do.  We spent a fair amount of our time looting, drinking and whoring in the subtropical clime, of course, but even grog and beautiful bronzed maidens could get boring.  Those of us of a more scholarly bent would occasionally interrupt our stupor and our duties to study the ancient enclave, last bastion of the Imperial Magocracy.

Among the many ancient wonders that didn’t elicit immediate desolation or looting were the city-state’s large accumulation of temples, shrines, abbeys, and other ecclesiastic estates.  Of course the Street of Temples was rife with gaudy celebrations of the divine, but some of the more intriguing houses of worship were beyond the city wall, among the various estates and plantations.  From various vantage points around the beautiful, war-torn city you could see their spires and towers, their grand halls and serene enclaves peeking out over the jungle, trailing off into the mountains.

In the distance, miles from the city, one building in particular had always intrigued me, an impossible-seeming dome of pale white.  With only the mountains in the distance for scale, it was hard to estimate – even with magic – how large the thing was, back then, but it seemed massive beyond the possibility of stone to bear.

Sandy and I made inquiries – we were both interested in that stuff – and discovered it was the Temple of Fullr, known locally as the Gray Dome, a contemplative and scholarly order that had existed in quiet solitude in their remote estate for centuries.  They took no part in the affairs of the world, it was said, and their only interaction with Farise involved biannual trips to the city market by a senior brother and manciple to secure supplies.

No one knew how they selected their initiates, the priests on Temple Street told me, though there was plenty of entertaining speculation.  The most likely story involved temples in other lands who sent their worst offenders – or most pious saints – into the mysterious jungle dome, never to be heard from again.

I like a good mysterious cult as much as the next mage, and perhaps if I’d stayed in Farise longer I might have eventually learned more about them, but homesickness and tropical fevers were more compelling.

“You mean . . . the Quiet Brothers of the Gray Dome are, in fact, Avaltines?  Magical Avaltines?”

“They study the Higher Mysteries, along with their fellow sages.  The Order of Fullr is open to a few other small orders who did not wish to see their brightest stars enshadowed by the clouds of the Censorate,” he conceded.  “A tradition that evolved in the wake of the Narasi Conquest.  I know little enough about it, but I do know the place exists, and has since the founding of Farise.  Or so it is written,” he added, with a shrug.

“Thankfully,” Father Miton said, smoothly, “my own order is rarely bothered with such machinations.  The Tiller demands a simple life, and gives simple blessings in return,” he said, with a nod toward the stylized plow-and-pole symbol Lord Motaran displayed proudly on his hall’s chapel altar.  “This is the first time, I’m aware of, that magic has ever been used in the service of the fields.  Usually the concerns of magi are for the wealthy and powerful, not the humble farmer.  Now, Brother Hotfoot, what can you tell me of Sister Bemia’s plans for a greater baronial ecumenical council?” he asked, intrigued.

Later, after wine, dessert, wine, a song or two, closing prayers, and more wine, we retired to the roof of the castle to overlook the vale by night.  I held back a bit, feigning some trouble with my pipe, and caught Hotfoot by the shoulder, pulling the itinerate deity into an alcove for a chat.

“Just what in the name of Briga’s better nature were you trying to pull in there?” I demanded, hotly.  “I’ve spent the last six months trying to coax the peasant clergy into accepting my enchantments!  In the course of one conversation you could have destroyed all of that!”

“Calm yourself, Spellmonger,” the monk said, wiping his lips.  “Just a little friendly debate among theologians,” he dismissed as he took out his own stubby pipe.  “Father Miton has already committed to backing your enchantments with the force of his authority . . . which won’t be far, admittedly.  But he’s invested in the idea.  The point of that conversation was to begin another,” he said, deliberately.  He waited for me expectantly to follow his logic.

I’d had a few cups, but I wasn’t beyond simple reason.  “The Avaltines,” I replied, dumbly.
“Ah, yes!  The Aveltine monks, who just happened to take the wrong fork at a road in Remere and learned about Sevendor as a result, two years ago.  Who just happened to lose their contract with Sire Gimbal just as they were considering a new project . . . and who just happened to learn about the mysterious Karshak Alon building the Spellmonger’s palace in a third-rate shrine of mine in Fleria.  The Avaltines, who just happened to be one of the very few Imperial cults left who have preserved some of the very ancient-most knowledge and lore of humanity, within their most secret vaults.  One of the very few cults who managed to escape much scrutiny by the Censors, thanks to their utility to the regime, who managed to maintain chapterhouses throughout the duchies and in places like Farise, Unstara, and outposts even farther away . . . and who just happened to take a job working for you, just outside your doorstep, waiting for you to happen along and ask the precisely the right question concerning  the precise bit of obscure ecclesiastic lore from just the right man in the organization to have some knowledge of it,” he sighed, exhaling an impressive cloud of smoke.  “The Avaltines,” he concluded, sagaciously.

I stared at him, trying my best to follow the logic of the drunken god.  “And you had to start a religious debate to get there?” I finally demanded.

“Gods, you’re dim!  I’m a monk!  Should I have discussed her ladyship’s hooters?  Of course it was going to be a theological debate!  That’s what monks do!  Look,” he said, impatiently, “it got the job done.  Through no fault of my own, thanks to the constraints of the nature of human divinity on this world, I am bound from just telling you anything I want, any time I want, but I get the damned job done!”

‘Why?” I demanded.

“I can’t bloody explain it!” he burst out.  “It all happened before my time, when I was just another simple priest hoofing it along the Vore, staying one step in front of the magistrates.  That’s when the rules, such as they are, were set.  Among them is the restraints upon how and why and what we can impart to our worshippers and such.  In short, I can lead you to the bloody monks, get them drunk enough to tell you their secrets, charm them with my wit and entice them with my theological rigor, but it’s your bloody job to actually ask the sodding question, Spellmonger!” he snorted.

I blinked.  “You know, that would be quite impressive if I still wasn’t reeling from the insight you dropped in my pocket this morning.  That the Sea Folk are the real danger to humanity.”

“No, no, no, no, no, you bloody dim mage, no!” the god fussed, frustrated and exasperated.  “The Sea Folk, as you call them, as powerful as they are, are not the real danger.  They are but the emissaries of the real masters of Callidore, to whom both we and the various Alon are mere tenants!  For countless ages before humanity spat forth from the Void on this thankless rock, Callidore was ruled from the seas, the land an inconvenient afterthought!”

“But the Alon—”

“The Alon?  Even the highest Alkan prince or aronin has no more right to this world than a villein has to his rented plot!” he insisted, his words speeding together dangerously.  “You think you’re doing magic?  Even now, the Sea Folk and who they truly represent, as powerful as they are, are the remnants of a race whose mastery of reality and the intricacies of those forces you label as arcane were so vast they shifted the courses of the very stars, so legend says.  Under the seas, the lore says, long before any of the Five Races came to Callidore, the great Ostolumak Mothers of ancient ages sat in their watery kingdoms among subjects from a thousand aquatic species, contemplated the universe, and shifted the courses of suns,” he said, his eyes going wide in wonder and disbelief.

When you see a god – even a minor god – enrapt in his own sense of insignificance, it’s telling.
“So what do we have to fear of them?” I asked, my voice tight and quiet.

“No more than the fleas have to fear the temper of the dog they live upon,” he said, quietly, his voice discouraged.  “That’s what you are, Minalan, you, the Alka, the gurvani, all of you: fleas on the back of a dog that could go for a swim at any moment.  Make the dog itch . . . and it will scratch.  Perwyn made it itch, the bastards,” he said, with an angry sneer.  “Almost killed every human in the world with the resulting scratch.  Not that the damned Alka Alon didn’t help us out . . . that’s what I’m trying to avoid, Min,” he sighed, wearily.  “That’s our job, the gods.  You’re all just a bunch of fleas on this dog, and we’re the ones in charge of keeping you from getting scratched off.”

“Thanks,” I said, weakly.  “That’s helpful.”

“And I’m sure I broke a few rules,” he dismissed.  “Not that it will matter, in the long run.  Really, who the hells cares about those rules, anyway?  You go contemplate that cosmic wisdom I just gave you,” he said, turning back to me, then starting up the stairs.  “I’m going to go pee off the tower,” he said, with the force of divine mission in his voice.

I watched him haul himself up to the platform where our host awaited with his other guests . . . when I realized that I wasn’t alone.  I turned, startled that I hadn’t realized someone was listening.  My new apprentice was standing quietly in the shadows, almost a shadow himself.

“Master, that monk . . . his pattern . . .” he said, struggling with the new words, his eyes shifting uncomfortably under his long black hair.  “You know how I can see ‘em?  I can see his, but it’s not like yours.  Or mine.  Or anyone else’s at the table tonight.”

I sighed.  Of course he’d see Herus’ enneagram differently – from what I knew about the subject, divine enneagrams were far, far more complex than a humans, a reflection of all of the prayers and devotion of their worshippers over the years absorbed in the divine . . . matrix?  See, I still knew almost nothing about the subject I was supposed to be an expert in.

“Yes, he is different,” I agreed.  “And someday I will explain exactly why.  For now, it would be best that you didn’t discuss this observation with anyone but me, Apprentice,” I said, casting my eyes on him to ensure that this directive had force.

The lad swallowed, then shrugged.  “Not a problem, Master.  You know, he’s kind of an asshole, too,” he added.

“Another excellent observation,” I chuckled.  “But sometimes spiritual counseling can take strange forms.  Let’s go up and look at the stars, now, before someone moves them around on us.”

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Journeymage is live at Amazon! Spoiler discussion thread!

Find it here:

Or click here:

Remember, it's up at a special price for a limited time: $5.49.  Why?  Because until sometime around Saturday morning, when you buy the book I'll donate a dollar to BSA Troop 439, a small rural Boy Scout Troop operating out of the Bahama Ruritan Club in Bahama, NC.  I'm Assistant Scoutmaster for the troop, and both of my sons are Scouts.  Since at least some of the inspiration for Journeymage came from last summer's camp at Raven Knob in Mt. Airy, NC, I think it's only fair that the troop benefit from the resulting intellectual property.  I'll reduce it to the proper price when the special is done, and anyone who has moral objections to donating to the BSA can purchase it then - or get it through Amazon Prime.  I'm only counting direct sales, not lends.

Best yet, I think I can get my company to match the donation.  Thus is the power of the Spellmonger . . . 

I'm pretty happy with the book.  I wrote it in about 6 weeks, coming straight off of Hawkmaiden and High Mage, and I think it's a good diversion.  Serious - nay, even major - stuff happens that has implications for the war and such, and we learn far too much about the Kasari people.  In terms of "naughty" level, I'd class it as "ribald" at most.  No one has sex on stage.  But at least one character is a little on the frustrated side.  The inspiration of the book can be summed up as "The Children's Crusade meets Follow Me Boys meets Game of Thrones", with some whacky magic here and there.  Min learns a lot of important things about himself, does a lot of important things for the long-term future of the kingdom and the war, and learns far too much about the Kasari culture.  

Here's the blurb: 

Minalan’s Summer Vacation! 

What does the most powerful wizard in the world do after the war is over? Despite the hordes of goblins still ready to ravage human lands, King Rard has signed a treaty with them, so Minalan is forbidden from taking advantage of their weakened state. Most would take a well-deserved rest over the summer . . . but Minalan and his household are busy repaying a favor owed to the tribal Kasari for their help in the war, and the Spellmonger pays his debts. So Minalan spends his summer sneaking two thousand Kasari children through enemy lines, goblin territory, hostile Wilderlords, and through some of the roughest territory in the Five Duchies toward salvation.  
But the Spellmonger soon learns that not even the help of a goddess is going to be sufficient to contend with the realities of the quest. Despite his best efforts and some of the most advanced magic seen since the Magocracy, the march attracts enemies . . . and far too many friends.  
For when the desperate refugees of the war-torn Alshari Wilderlands see the well-fed legions of Kasari march by, they cannot help but follow, even if they have no idea of the destination. Any life is better than the hopeless existence they've lived avoiding starvation and the goblins’ stewpot. And the promise of hope the great march of the Spellmonger’s children offers is just too good to pass up. Security and the promise of a brighter future lie just on the other side of the border with the duchy of Castal.  
The problem is that the Duke of Castal, Prince Tavard, who is also Minalan's titular overlord, is dead-set against a single Alshari refugee crossing his frontier – and he’s assembled a small army to stop any from doing so. With political pressure high and the very gods maneuvering behind the scenes, it’s going to take some clever magic, some inspired legal maneuvering, and some serious effort to pull off this miracle . . . but that’s the kind of job the Spellmonger does in Journeymage!

This is not the Meanwhile, Back In Sevendor book many of you want - that will be Enchanter.  Nor is it a bloodbath.  This book is essentially the beginning of the second cycle of novels, covering Minalan's growing magical and political sophistication.  But if you like world building, I think you'll enjoy this one.  It's shortish (140,000 words) but pretty involved.  And if you get off on logistics and supply issues, you'll be in heaven.

Thanks for reading my stuff.  And if you really want to boost me and my stuff, then go leave a review at Amazon - and don't be afraid to be candid.  The number of reviews is one of the things that drives sales, and the more sales I get, the more I like writing these things. This marks the fourth book I've published in the series in just over a year (Knights Magi came out on March 10th of last year - I would have made that date, had I not had a couple of hospital stays). And there is plenty more to come.  I'm enjoying the hell out of this, and I plan a long and interesting career for our Spellmonger and his friends . . . and enemies.

Now, I'd like to throw the comments open to spoilery discussion.  Don't read them if you haven't read the book or don't wan't to be spoiled.  You know the drill.  Things I'd love to hear are: favorite parts, favorite character, character you'd most like to see in their own focused story, and whether you think this book holds up to the standards of the series.  Basic feedback stuff.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Journeymage immanent - and a special announcement.

Moments ago I finished my second pass/rewrite of Journeymage.  I'll do one final pass on it when its all back from the proofreaders, and then there's nothing stopping me from releasing it but dramatic effect.  Expect it in the next few days.

I am doing something special with the release of Journeymage, however.  My sons are both Boy Scouts, and I'd like to donate some of the proceeds of Journeymage directly to their troop, Troop 439 in Bahama, NC, to help support the ongoing efforts of this small, distinguished troop in rural NC.  I understand that not everyone feels comfortable contributing to that organization, however, and out of respect for everyone I want to limit the size of my contribution and how its determined, so that no one has any qualms about it.

To that end, I will be offering Journeymage at a slightly increased rate (+$.50) for the first 48 hours or so.  For every sale made at that special price I will donate $1.00 to the troop in preparation for their summer camp activities.  If you don't want to contribute, just put off buying Journeymage until the gimmicky promotion is over.  Everyone wins.

This is also a chance to recommend the book to anyone you know who just likes to support Scouting.  I think they'll like the book, and it gives them the opportunity to directly help a specific group of boys, not a vague and nebulous organization you might be suspicious of.  Spread the word.  And my motivation for this will become clearer when you finish the book.

In any case, it's on like a pot of neckbones.  I'll start the final run this afternoon.

For those of you who are interested in my future publishing plans, I'm going to take about three weeks off from Sevendor and work on some other projects (Trask's Odyssey included; while I probably won't be finishing it in the next three weeks, I'm anticipating significant progress and a release some time this year.).

Then on to the next two novels in the series, which I'm going to attempt to write simultaneously.  Just to say I did it.  As it is, I'm already well on my way toward my goal of writing six Spellmonger books this year.  It's only March, and I've gotten Hawkmaiden and Jorneymage both out.  That only leaves four more before December.  Proper novels, too - Hawkmaiden was 90,000 words, long for a YA.

The next two books will be Court Wizard and Enchanter.  One will follow Pentandra's introduction to married life, and follow political events in Alshar, while the other will focus on Min's continued development of Sevendor, and his research into the nature of the many stones in his treasury.  I'm thinking each will be between 20-30 chapters, between 140-170,000 words.

Then I'm planning to release my second YA title, Hawklady, another 90k word juvenile following Dara's perspective through the end of Magelord and into Knights Magi (in a "meanwhile, back at the castle" sort of way).

Then for my sixth Sevendor novel of the year . . . I haven't decided.  We'll have to see how things develop. Because I have all of these short stories to get through, too.  The two that are in process will be finished, and I have a half-dozen more short pieces I want to do to fill in the corners.

It's going to be a busy year in Sevendor. And I'll still finish TO this year.  Hope y'all continue to be entertained.  And let me know what you think about my charitable plan for Troop 439.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Just Finished The Rough Draft Of Journeymage

My editor has already returned the first five chapters, so it should go pretty quickly.  It's a little rougher than I like, at the moment, but I've got a very good idea what I'm doing with it.

I don't really do "release dates", but you should get a shot at it in the next two weeks.  Before the end of March, certainly.  Possibly before.

It's a good book, but it's a departure from the "kill the evil dark lord" formula.  Not everyone will be thrilled with it, but it does have at least one good battle and some nifty magic, as well as some intriguing revelations about humanity's origins on Callidore.

But it's wrapped.  Tomorrow I'll start the painful rewriting process.

As far as what books will come next, what would y'all think if I released two at the same time?  I want to do Court Wizard, but I also want to do Enchanter.  They're both relatively short books that take place at the same time.

Hmmm.  The more I think about that, the more interesting the idea becomes.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hawkmaiden (beta) is up for a mere $2.99

You can see the page here: Hawkmaiden

I'm pretty happy with it.  Working on the map and sundries now.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hawkmaiden cover blurb

Tell me what y'all think:

The Falcon’s Call!

From the moment Dara of Westwood spied the Silver Headed Raptor nesting in Rundeval Peak, the precocious redheaded twelve year old girl was enchanted.  The youngest daughter of the Master of the Wood lived in ramshackle Westwood Hall, in the independently-minded Westwood estate of Sevendor.  Her determination to capture a baby falcon and train it wasn’t hampered by the fact that Dara had never climbed a mountain, had never been trained in falconry, or even remotely had permission from her father to do it.  Dara wanted the falcon . . . and the only thing in her way was the mountain, an angry mother falcon, and her own fears.

But the daring climb up Rundeval and actually capturing the fledgling falcon is just the beginning of her troubles.  Actually learning falconry and training the willful bird is a responsibility she had barely considered.  Worse, there is trouble afoot in the domain: a new lord has come to rule over Sevendor and all of her people, replacing the corrupt old Sir Erantal.  While everyone welcomes the change, the new lord is a wizard: a magelord, the first of his kind in four hundred years: Lord Minalan the Spellmonger.  And he’s not alone.  He’s brought thousands of oddly-dressed Wilderlanders with him, families escaping the wars in the west. . . . and settling in Sevendor.

Within weeks of holding his first court as lord of Sevendor, the wizard's magic begins to cause problems.  Magelord Minalan turns Sevendor Castle, the entire mountain of Rundeval, and a good portion of the Westwood –including Dara’s home – into enchanted white stone when a spell goes unexpectedly awry one fateful night.  As a result, Dara learns that she, too, may become a mage someday.  Soon after she discovers that she can see through her falcon’s eyes and share her thoughts, the talents of a beastmaster, opening up a brilliant new world for her.

The folk of the valley have enough to eat for the first time in a generation, there are wizards all over Sevendor, and the castle glows with a magic light at night. The fortunes of the Westwood estate rise.  But the Magelord finds foes as well as friends in Sevendor. 

Though prosperity flows from the Magelord’s benevolent rule, the changes are frightening to some who have lost power since the Magelord came.  Outside the Westwood, the other natives of the domain are upset by their magical lord and his strange new people, and there are whispers of rebellion.  And outside of the domain, the neighboring lords, urged on by sinister forces, conspire to plunge Sevendor into war – with Dara and her family along with it!

What can one girl and her falcon do?  When the Magelord leaves on business and his enemies close in on her home, Dara discovers she may hold the answer to saving them all!  The fate of the entire domain rests with Dara of Westwood, the girl they’ll call the Hawkmaiden!

Oh, yeah, here's my temporary cover:

The real one is getting done, now, but I don't know when it will be available yet.  This will have to serve.  

Oh, yeah.  Hawkmaiden will be up this weekend at a special "beta issue" cover price of $2.99.  That will rise to $3.99 on or around February 1, as the proofreading and the map is complete.  

Also please note:

*  This is a YOUNG ADULT novel.  It was written with young teens in mind.
*  This takes place concurrently with the events of MAGELORD
*  This is a SHORT novel (97,000 words)
*  This novel WILL NOT be available for Kindle Select or Kindle Lending Library, for the foreseeable future.  This is a marketing test.

That's all for now.  Keep your eyes open for it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Spellmonger is now on Facebook.

Yielding to popular opinion, I have started a Facebook page for the Spellmonger novels, under Spellmonger Series.  I've posted all of the maps and drawings and ugly cover art there, and will mirror announcements and stuff.

In general I avoid FB personally, but I recognize it as a tool for marketing and communication.  I'll likely check the Spellmonger site more than my own, honestly (I find FB a horrible time sink - I got stuff to write) but if you like that platform, it's now there for your convenience.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Just finished the rough draft of Hawkmaiden

Unfortunately behind schedule, due to the holidays, an unexpected return to the hospital, various Boy Scout events, oh, and that work thing I do.  The good news is that the first half of the book is already back from my esteemed editor, Once I deal with the student historian election, the student play practice, the last Pinewood Derby, and the Scout Freezeout this weekend, I'll be doing a quick rewrite and ship it off to my esteemed proofreader, who is bugging me for it daily.  In a nice way.

Still, I went back and looked.  I published Spellmonger's Wedding in August of 2013.  Road to Sevendor anthology in September 2013.  Magelord in September of 2013.  Knights Magi in March, 2014.  Then High Mage in October, 2014.  Now it's January, 2015, and I'm about to pump another one out.  That's close to a million words in just under 2 years.  Maybe not the best million, sure.  But still . . .

In other words . . . suck it, George R. R. Martin.  Stop counting your money and write.