Friday Excerpt: Imperial Magic

The book is fighting me. Ewoud Gaalnar Rhonarida is a challenging character to write.

Why did he have to work the crane? Ewoud panted, legs aching. That’s why they’d brought apprentices. Probably because Maarsdam frowned on something Ewoud had done, and so was punishing him. “Stop!” Ewoud and the three other men slowed their steps, grabbing the beams of the crane wheel for balance as the enormous machine slowed and stopped. Bits of sunlight darted through a few gaps in the roof and walls, but the heavy wood muffled the sounds of unloading. Ewoud heard wood creak and took a tighter grip as men outside the crane grunted with effort, pushing the beam that turned the crane. The four inside reversed directions. Ewoud wiped sweat off his face and tried to pant more quietly. “Forward!” He started walking, driving the wheel with his feet. It was too bad they couldn’t use water power for the cranes like they did for mills.

Ewoud and the others staggered out of the crane some time later. The sun had moved and was within three hand-spans of the western horizon. “Over here,” Meester Hajo called. Tears of pain burned Ewoud’s eyes as he teetered over to the wagons. “Lucky you, you get to ride this afternoon. We’re leaving to get outside the walls by sundown. Get in.” Ewoud started to ask if he could have some water, then changed his mind and clambered into the wagon. Instead of great-haulers, something that looked like giant schaef but with heavier legs and stubby horns pulled the wagons. The beasts had short-clipped white hair, like the wild schaef of the wastes and mountains. Did they smell as bad wet as schaef did? Ewoud decided that he’d rather not find out. Continue reading


Retail, Recovery, and Familiars

Lelia staggers back to work, and Morgana wears out an old joke…

Arthur was not pleased when Lelia dragged in on Saturday. “I trust you don’t plan on getting day-old poultry in the future.”

“No sir! I though I’d cooked it well enough and got it into the ‘fridge fast enough, but something was really off.” She set Tay’s carrier on the floor and he scrambled out, then dove behind something for cover. “It didn’t smell funny or look funny, but I’ll never do that again, I promise.”

“Good. Because I was running much too hard yesterday. The good news is the late-summer slump appears to be easing, although there’s still the school-start crash to get through.” Arthur pointed to the work area. “Go unload the latest delivery, please, while I finish totaling out from yesterday evening.”

Lelia still wasn’t feeling especially chipper, but she worked as hard as she dared. Supper last night and breakfast that morning seemed to be staying put, but her mind kept going back to the second-hand memories from the stone and making her brain queasy, if that made sense. No, it doesn’t make sense, Lelia snarled when she stopped to drink some cold water and refill the little fridge. But I don’t have words to describe how it feels. And I want it gone. She knew what would make it go away, and knew where to get the drugs and booze. No. She made herself stop, breathe deeply and slowly, and relaxed her shoulders, then her back. She set the water aside and stretched back and forth, then side to side, counting breaths  as she did. The craving faded, enough that she could ignore it. “Unpack. That’s your jo—Oh dear.” Continue reading

LibertyCon AAR 2018

So there I was, driving to Chattanooga with Peter and Dorothy Grant, when the skies turned as dark as the Earl of Hell’s riding boots, and frog-strangling rain cut loose. Not exactly an auspicious start to the weekend, although I don’t object to rain. I do object to rain so heavy the wipers can’t keep the windscreen clear, however. Turns out we managed to arrive with the worst weather of the day, and it moved through relatively quickly. By the time I could check into my hotel, it was just cool and damp. Cool is good in the south in late June. Continue reading

Summer of Steampunk

Blame Jon del Arroz. I attended the steampunk panel at LibertyCon, and Jon announced that 1) he’s got the next two books in the steampunk series coming out in August and September and 2) he’s trying to revive steampunk as a genre, and is starting a #SummerofSteampunk campaign. (Scroll down toward the bottom of the post.)

I don’t tweet, twit, Gab, or whatever they are calling it this week, but I agree with Jon, and not just because I have a steampunk novel and novella available for sale. Continue reading

Dragon Awards Still Open!

The fan-choice awards administered by Dragon*Con are still open, until July 20.

Please register and nominate. Talk to your sci-fi and fantasy reading and watching friends as well, because these are truly popular awards based on what fans like.

Of my works, the following qualify: Both Shikari books, Grasping for the Crowns,  Strangely Familiar, In Sheltering Talons, Merchant and Magic, and Golden Summer.

By category: fantasy – Merchant and Magic, Strangely Familiar

Alternate history – Grasping for the Crowns

Sci-fi – Shikari and Staré, In Sheltering Talons, Golden Summer

YA – Shikari and Staré, because the category is based on protagonist age rather than how the book is marketed.

Even if you don’t nominate anything of mine, please consider nominating a book, film, game, TV show, or in other categories. This is by fans for fans, and the more people who nominate, the better it is!

Vleer Park

This is part of a chapter that didn’t make the last Cat Among Dragons book. Joschka needed a vacation. Rada found one.

“Do you ever get tired of hunting?” Joschka inquired as they got out of the ground transport and walked towards the main entrance of a sprawling wooden and stone building. At least it looked like wood and stone, he thought. There were odd lumps and protrusions from the edge of the roof that teased his memory, as if he should know what they were. Something high tech but not communications related, and it was going to bother him until he remembered. But the main structure greatly resembled an antique Earth-style hunting lodge, despite the elaborate gardens and fountains surrounding the sprawling complex. Between the lodge and the landing area, and surrounding the landscaped grounds, open forest dominated the scene and the HalfDragon noted signposted trails into the verdure.

“Not really, because I don’t get to do that much of it. And I am a predator, remember?” Rada smiled up at her husband and squeezed his hand. “Besides, hunting is only one of the things to do here, and it’s very limited in terms of time and species. Unless things have changed drastically, there’s lake and stream fishing, hiking, bird watching, aircraft rental, a very nice spa and I mean very nice, something that I think was once vaguely related to golf, swimming, rock-climbing, boating, and programs on gardening, plant identification . . .” she stopped as Joschka shook his head, smiling. Continue reading