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Audiobook edition of To Carry the Horn

Posted in Release, and To Carry the Horn

ToCarryTheHorn - Audio - Trimmed - 800x800The streaming audiobook edition of To Carry the Horn, the first book of The Hounds of Annwn, is now available at retailers worldwide.

You can find a full (and growing) list of audiobook retailer links here.

I had a lot of fun producing this edition, and every reader who complained about my use of Welsh names should feel gratified that I was forced to say them myself. Repeatedly. Into an unforgiving microphone.

Listen to the first five minutes of the opening:

Mistress of Animals has been released

Posted in Mistress of Animals, Release, and The Chained Adept

Book 2 of The Chained Adept

AN ERRANT CHILD WITH DISASTROUS POWERS AND NO ONE TO STAND IN HER WAY.

Penrys, the wizard with a chain and an unknown past, is drafted to find out what has happened to an entire clan of the nomadic Zannib. Nothing but their empty tents remain, abandoned on the autumn steppe with their herds.

This wasn’t a detour she’d planned on making, but there’s little choice. Winter is coming, and hundreds are missing.

The locals don’t trust her, but that’s nothing new. The question is, can she trust herself, when she discovers what her life might have been? Assuming, of course, that the price of so many dead was worth paying for it.

Order direct from the author, or see the publisher for retail sites.

Mistress of Animals (excerpt) – Chapter 1

Posted in Mistress of Animals, and The Chained Adept

CHAPTER 1

“Demon, I swear I’m going to eat your ears for breakfast.”

Penrys halted her horse, dismounted, and stomped back past her three pack horses to the beginning of the string of seven donkeys, the first of which had dug in his feet on the trail of the High Pass and was bawling like three demons instead of one.

The other donkeys fidgeted nervously and seemed inclined to join him, so Penrys probed to see if there was anything more than a fit of donkey sulks responsible.

Demon’s dominant mode was generally offended pride, but this time his mind showed her something different.

*Najud, something’s wrong. I think he’s afraid of something.*

Her companions mental voice chuckled. *Sure it’s not you he’s afraid of, Destroyer of Demons?*

After three weeks, the joke had worn thin to her. Perhaps the wizard they had destroyed had deserved the name, and maybe this donkey did, too, but she found the full title, applied to her, both ridiculous and embarrassing.

Guess Najud’s not going to bother to dismount and leave his own string to take a look.

She ran her hands over Demon and scratched under his chin in the spot he liked, and gradually he calmed down, placated by the attention. The others took their cue from him and settled.

She looked down their back trail. The view of the southern part of Neshilik, laid out below them, had been lost two days ago. Now only the steep scrambling slopes on either side were visible, along with the winding trail itself.

Footsteps behind her made her turn. Najud had come back to check on the donkeys, after all.

“Is he all right?”

“See for yourself.”

Najud had been making progress on his mind-probes of animals. He was cautious about relying on it—as he said, “I can see the start of a pack sore before the beast begins to feel it.”

“He’s calmer now, but you’re right, I think. Something alarmed him,” he said. “You can see why many clans put donkeys with the sheep herds, to act as guards against wolves.”

“Do they fight the wolves, or is it just the braying that makes them run away?”

Najud snorted.

Read More Mistress of Animals (excerpt) – Chapter 1

Mistress of Animals — manuscript finished

Posted in Broken Devices, Mistress of Animals, Publishing, Release, and The Chained Adept

Little_Gray_Mouse_-_The_EndWell, I wrote the last scene of Mistress of Animals this morning. Yippee!

Just a good bit of editing, then formatting and the usual distribution headaches. Everything’s on schedule for a publication date of April 2.

Broken Devices, Book 3 of The Chained Adept, begins tomorrow. I’ve discovered I like writing absolutely every day, highest priority. Not until that’s done do I look at any other necessary work. So right now, that means I will begin work on the next book, and do the edits on this one after the day’s writing is over.

Perkunas

Posted in A Writer's Desk, and Language

perkunas(triumverate)My books are published by Perkunas Press, and every now and then someone asks about the origin of the name “Perkunas”.

In the picture above, he’s the guy in the middle: Perkunas, the Baltic god of, well, many things. In this instance, he represents maturity and power, vs age and death on the left, and youth and fertility on the right.

More commonly, Perkunas is shown with a thunderbolt.  He is the champion of good, feared by all evil spirits. He rights wrongs, and upholds the balance of the world.

PerkunasminiHis clear counterpart in the Nordic countries is Thor, and there is a long and tangled relationship between them. The details are buried in lost history and intriguingly suggestive Indo-European etymology.

The root for “oak” in Indo-European is *perku (the “*” indicates a reconstructed form, IE being unattested except by its daughter languages). We see that word reflected in Latin: quercus (oak), and there is a general association of oak trees and lightning in Indo-European mythologies. Gods of oak trees are gods of thunder, and they wield thunderbolts (with emphasis on the pounding aspect of lightning rather than the flash).

perkunas_In Norse mythology, there are two tantalizingly references to obscure gods: Fjörgyn and Fjörgynn. The former (female) is mentioned briefly as the wife of Odin and mother of Thor, and the second (male) is mentioned as a byname for Odin. Etymologically, Fjörgyn is related to the same Indo-European word and seems to be another form of Perkunas. Lots of speculation exists about what this means in the relationship of the Norse with their Baltic neighbors.

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Cover reveal for Mistress of Animals

Posted in Artwork, Mistress of Animals, and The Chained Adept

I thought you might like to see how the cover came out for Mistress of Animals, book 2 of The Chained Adept.

Once again, my cover artist, Jake Bullock, did an excellent job. I sent him a scene from the book which I can’t share with you because of spoilers, but the “Mistress of Animals” is a young teenage girl, another chained wizard, and not one of the good guys.

He came up with two entirely different treatments, of which I liked this one best.

Mistress-of-Animals-Sketches-1
Read More Cover reveal for Mistress of Animals

Rabbit (um, marmot) stew

Posted in Mistress of Animals, Research, and The Chained Adept

Bort -- thin strips of meat drying at the top of the yurt.
Borts — thin strips of meat drying at the top of the yurt.

You never know what you might find when you do research.

It’s a cliché in fantasies that characters tend to go off into the woods and live off rabbits (one of the four food groups in FantasyLand™, namely — bread, cheese, stew, and rabbit).

Much of the culture of Zannib, in the Chained Adept series, has analogue roots in the culture of Mongolia (with some rather significant differences, such as wizards). So when it’s time for me to lovingly dwell on some particular activity, I start by looking at Mongolia to see what they might have to say about it.

Right now, in Mistress of Animals, our heroes and their friends/enemies are traveling and about to be snowed in by a blizzard, and two of them have just come back to camp from a hunt for fresh meat. Antelope and marmot suggested themselves as appropriate catches, and now we have to butcher and cook them, preserving what meat we can.

Well, I know how an animal is butchered, but I thought I’d just look to see what the Mongolians do with meat preservation. In particular, I was wondering how they dry thin strips of it under shelter in wet weather while traveling, since that can take several days.

Read More Rabbit (um, marmot) stew

Maps are your friend

Posted in Artwork, Mistress of Animals, Plot, Setting, and The Chained Adept

One hemisphere of the world of the Chained Adept
One hemisphere of the world of the Chained Adept

There’s nothing like a good map to keep you honest as you tell your story.

When you want to know if someone can ride from point A to B in one long day, without being mounted on SuperHorse™, then you need to know how close those two points are, and how much terrain a horse can cover in a day.

If you want to create a caravan that will make a regular circuit of more than a thousand miles of territory, better work on your mileage-per-day/days-per-market/days-lost-to-maintenance tables. Not to mention your fodder/grain/grazing capacities on the route vs the needs of the freight-carrying animals.

National or sub-national boundaries typically feature mountains or water hazards, not arbitrary straight lines (the mid-Western and Mountain states of the United States not withstanding).

Now, most of us use scraps of paper with just the bare minimum of information and illegible commentary, but I am cursed with the desire for reusability and just enough computer obsessiveness to want to make a “real” map, with real landscapes, for my fantasy series.

Besides, I can’t draw worth a damn anyway, so it might as well be computer-generated.

Read More Maps are your friend