Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Latest and Future Releases

The time has away from me as it so often does. I really did not do justice to my November release, Hanson and Graber, The Price of Magic. It came out mid-month with the rest of the Once Upon A Fairy Tale PAX collection.

I will share a short excerpt here, actually the opening scene of the story: You can get it at  by the way--along with the other four tales in the collection. They're still on the home page but will be on mine as well,

One might begin a tale such as this with the classic Once upon a time, but such high-flown clichés are not right for the humble village of Wolmerk-on-the-Wald and two of its denizens. So, let us just begin at the beginning.

One evening in the village pub, pig farmer Hanson sat with hunched shoulders, work-worn hands wrapped around a heavy earthenware stein. Their mass almost dwarfed the pint-capacity vessel. "If I was a wizard, they'd not be calling me Hanson the Pigs," he grumbled, addressing no one in particular.

At his side, his lifelong friend Graber turned his attention from his own pint to slant a glance Hanson's way. "And had I a sorcerer's skills, I'd not be known as Graber the Firewood."

From a few seats away, close enough in the narrow stone cottage that housed the pub, a slender man rose, a sly grin on his narrow face. He was known as Bartle the Bard, and although his tales and music entertained well enough on festivals and holy days, the villagers mistrusted him. And not without reason. He tended to be a trickster, quick to pull a prank or a slippery deal. Approaching from behind, he slapped a thin hand down on Hanson's solid shoulder.

"I've a suggestion, my friend," he said. "I've heard tell there's a wizard dwelling on the far side of the forest. If you can locate him, perhaps you could prevail on him to share some of his spells and charms, enough to become at last a hedge-wizard for Wolmerk-on-the-Wald. Mayhap, swap some pork for his lessons. After all, the needs for magic deeds in Wolmerk are not so great. You could acquire this new trade in a flash."

For the first time since his naïve youth, a flare of hope swept over Hanson. Although he knew he should probably not trust Bartle's advice, the lure of magic sank a sly hook into him. Even though the deep forest was reputed to be haunted and home to myriad dangerous creatures, he was big and strong. Could he not fight his way past them if the reward was great enough?

He turned for another glance at Graber. "What do you think, my man? Would you come with me on such a quest?"

Perhaps it was a good thing neither one saw Bartle's smirk as he turned back to his own pint. The bard saw a unique chance to claim Hanson's sturdy stone cot and excellent swine herd or the fine sharp saws and axes Graber used in his trade once they were gone. Either could bring him enough coin to seek a new and more lucrative venue for his trade. Of course, they would not return. Who had ever gone through the forest and come back again?

Graber thought for a long moment. "Aye, that I would. I couldn't let my blood brother and best friend go alone on such a dangerous journey. With your boar prod and one of my axes, we should be able to deal with any dangers we meet."

And so it began. Within a few days, the two set out on their quest, Hanson leaving his pigs in the care of a neighbor's son, and Graber able to cease his wood gathering for a few summer days with no serious consequence. The villagers shook their collective heads and murmured at the bravery and the foolishness of the two, but wished them well.

Both men shouldered heavy packs with bedding and provisions for a ten-day, feeling certain they could make it to the end of the earth within that time, or at least the far side of the forest. Once they reached the wizard, they'd surely have no need for ordinary provender. They forged on for half a day, leaving behind all glimpses of their home fields and the open country along the river.

Graber glanced back, uncertainty in his posture and expression. "Shouldn't we leave some mark of our way to follow back home? No one we ever knew has gone more than a league or two into the woods and returned. I don't fancy the idea of getting lost in this wilderness."

Hanson shrugged. "I guess you can blaze a tree here and there if it'll make you feel better. I always know where my big sow is. I can follow that lead back home from as far as we may go. I was there at her birth and have been with her all of her days. Moonbeam's scent and the echo of her thoughts are carved deep into my mind."

Although there were some vague paths, most rambled so much the two men soon gave up following them and just hiked on into the woods, first facing the rising sun and then with it falling to their backs as the day passed. They walked all day, but as evening fell, they seemed no nearer their goal of the far side than when they had begun.

When they found a small clearing, they decided to camp there. Graber gathered a bit of dry wood and soon had a cheery blaze going. Sitting on their rolled blankets, they ate a simple meal and drank from the stream that flowed through the meadow before they settled down to sleep. Visions of magical powers danced through their dreams, a lure more potent than gems and gold.

Hanson had no idea how long he'd been asleep when a bloodcurdling howl made him sit straight up, blanket falling unheeded to his waist and below. It didn't make much difference since it wasn't cold and he'd taken off only his heavy, mud-crusted boots before settling for the night, his normal habit.

Before he could do more than shoot a hasty glance around the small clearing, Graber landed at his side, so close a single bristle from the old boar's snout could not have been wedged between them. Graber seemed to have grown a pair or two of extra arms and they all clutched Hanson in a death grip.

"W-w-what was that?"

"Hey, you're the woodsman, always headed into the forest to cut your trees. I've never gone farther than I could still see the vale and the village, just enough to let my pigs get the acorns and mushrooms along the edges. But I'm guessing it must have been a wolf."

"A w-w-wolf? Oh my soul, we'll be eaten alive."


Then, this coming weekend the latest installlment of the Thin Green Line series will be released. It's called Druid in Drag in reference to the opening scene which I will also provide in an excerpt soon. As well as the hot, delicious cover. This is a stand alone tale although some of the characters in prior stories are mentioined or have a tiny cemeo appearance. I suspect there will be another story to continue the adventures of Renfro Coulter and his alien partner Darzul, rather like happened with Clay Chiles and Arundel in the two Runes titles.

I'll do that excerpt in a seperate post so as not to get too lengthy here! Hang on...

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