Want to review the Fire Seer audiobook?

The Fire Seer audiobook coverWant to review the Fire Seer audiobook? I have Audible codes for a free download of the Fire Seer audiobook that I will hand out to anyone willing to post an honest review on Audible.

Contact me through my Contact page and I’ll send you one via email, while supplies last!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

THE FIRE SEER is now out in audiobook form!

The Fire Seer audiobook coverIt’s here! The audiobook is out for THE FIRE SEER!

Find it at one of these vendors:

Audible | Amazon | iTunes

The narration is by the very talented Scott Richard Ehredt. I’ll let him introduce himself by answering a few questions.

Amy: How did you become an actor? What training do you have, and what are some of your favorite roles?

Scott narrator photo smallScott: I’m not entirely sure just how one becomes an actor.  I think it’s a genetic defect that happens at birth.  I’ve been entertaining since I was old enough to hold a hairbrush “microphone” and pretend I was Elvis for my family.  And the disease only got worse when I discovered the Drama Department in Jr. High School.  I went on to study at university and, while a degree in Theater is rather useless, the knowledge and skills acquired are priceless.

I left my university studies behind when I landed my first acting gig, and never looked back.  I love every aspect of performance.  From acting to singing, from MCing shows to, now, audiobooks.  Whether it’s live theater or in front of a camera, the process is pretty much the same.  And the process is the art.  It’s remarkably similar whether I’m working to create characters as diverse as Littlechap in Stop the World, Berger in Hair, the King of Siam in The King and I, and Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar for live performances, or doing a stint on TVs’ General Hospital!  Its an immersion process.  And one of the great side effects is that it expands the mind and allows one to see the world–real or imagined–from a whole different aspect.  I truly love it.

Amy: What drew you to narrating audiobooks?

Scott: It’s an actor’s life to always be looking for new avenues of performance and, honestly, income!  I’ve been lucky to have always been able to support myself as an actor.  Here in LA, where most actors are waiters or bartenders, that is a proud accomplishment.  So, when I was told about this by a musician friend, I investigated.  Then I jumped in!  It combines two of my favorite things: books and performance art!  It’s a win/win!  The challenge of a full performance without sets, costumes, fellow actors, etc., is irresistible.

Amy: Tell us about the process of narration. What’s involved in recording a chapter, and how do you bring the story and characters to life?

Scott: As I mentioned earlier, the process is the art.  Preparation is key–and a lot of fun!  An actor usually has one character-study to do.  Here, there are a dozen or so characters!  Each one needs a history.  A background.  A reason and understanding.  The author provides this for main characters, and usually in depth,  But, even that has to be fleshed out.  A character study requires answers to a lot of questions.  How does this character think, walk, and most importantly for this work, talk?  What is their history?  What is their particular arc in this story?  Where do they start, where do they go, and where do they end up?  So I must read the book first–start to finish.  Then, with this basic understanding, I reread the chapter I’m about to record, making notes on the characters therein and where they are in their “arc.”

As for voicing, I found a trick that I’m hesitant to divulge….but what the heck.  Most characters end up sounding at least a bit like other actors.  It helps me keep them straight in my head!  I don’t “imitate” these other actors.  But I use their voices as a base and develop out from there.  It’s as if I’ve cast these other roles.  Then, when it’s time to be one of these characters, I glimpse them in my head and the voice comes.  Yes, actors are schizophrenic.  But if you listen closely to The Fire Seer, you may hear Peter O’Toole, Roger Moore, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Alec Guiness, and me.  There’s a lot of me.

What I found most challenging were the female voices.  I had to be careful not to slip into a caricature of a female voice and sound silly.  This is where an internally-driven method of acting comes in handy.  By adopting a more feminine mindset, the voice comes out, hopefully, with a hint of  feminine sound.  Of course, mentally casting Julie Andrews, Judy Densch and other fine female actors is a great help!  With the character in place, the book is simply read…and the story unfolds as though the listener is reading the words.  I’m mindful to never get in the way of that.  I never want to be so jarring or outrageous in characterization or narration that it takes the listener out of the experience they would be having if they were reading the words themselves.  It’s a fine line and a balancing act.  And I’ve discovered that it’s a lot of fun!  I should add that raising three children–and reading to them a lot–is great prep for becoming an audiobook narrator.  Now, as then, I always keep in mind that I am reading to someone.  It helps.

Amy: What sort of books do you like to read? What do you like to do in your free time?

Scott: I love to read and I read just about anything and everything.  Some of my favorites are Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Winston Churchill’s WWII histories, and the Ian Fleming James Bond books.  I’ve also recently discovered and become obsessed with Bernard Cornwell.  He writes wonderful historic fiction and I’m particularly impressed with his Saxon Tales series.  When I’m not performing, I’m usually on horseback.  I have two outstanding mounts named Solitude and Solitaire which are my recreational passion.  There is nothing in this world to get me centered and relaxed like a few hours…or even a few days and nights….riding in the high desert or mountains outside of LA.  Winston Churchill famously said, “There is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.”  He was right.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

New epic fantasy bundle featuring THE FIRE SEER

I’m very excited to announce that THE FIRE SEER will be featured as one of sixteen epic fantasy works in the forthcoming multi-author bundle, FIERCE: Sixteen Authors Of Fantasy! Don’t have THE FIRE SEER yet? This is your opportunity to get it for only 99 cents along with stories from 15 other authors, including Mercedes Lackey. Also read below for an opportunity to get the bundle for free.

Click on the iBooks EXCLUSIVE Pre-Order below to reserve your copy today. On sale on all retailers March 10, 2015. We hope everyone will be looking forward to this!FIERCE, Sixteen Authors Of Fantasy

For a limited time only!

Join epic fantasy legend Mercedes Lackey and fifteen additional New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors on the adventure of a lifetime!

Over one million words and sixteen realms of fantasy brought together for your reading pleasure. Discover courageous characters fighting for justice and order, journey between kingdoms of dragons and lands of anarchy as tales of magic and mayhem unfold.

Grab it today, before it’s gone!

FIERCE: Sixteen Authors Of Fantasy pre-orders are available exclusively through iBooks.

Hurry and get a copy for $0.99!

Ibooks icon

D Join the ThunderClapIt today and get the bundle FREE. All you have to do is click over to this page, sign up your support and email novelbundle@gmail.com to receive a free copy one week before release.

ThunderClapIt Link – https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/21991-fierce-16-authors-of-fantasy

About the Authors and Titles:

Mercedes Lackey – Moving Targets

Stuck watching over four Herald trainees on circuit, Elyn is at her wits’ end—and that’s before a town asks for help with a ghostly infestation.

Michael G. Manning – The Blacksmith’s Son

A journey to discover the secrets of his past reveals a magical heritage and embroils Mordecai in a deadly battle for the future of mankind.

K.F. Breene – Chosen

Prophecy has foretold that when war threatens the world, the Chosen will appear to help the Shadow Warriors reclaim their stolen freedom and lead them out of the Land of Mist.

Morgan Rice – A Quest of Heroes

Thorgin, an outsider and a dreamer, fights to become a warrior in an epic quest that finds him at the center of a maelstrom of royal plots and counterplots that threaten him and everyone he loves.

Michael James Ploof – Whill of Agora

When Whill learns the truth of his lineage, he sets out to face his father’s murderer, but what he learns along the way will change his life—and the realm—forever.

Daniel Arenson – Requiem’s Song

Weredragons, men call them. Monsters. Cursed ones. People who can turn into beastly reptiles. Together they will forge a nation.

Kate Sparkes – Bound

When a young woman accidentally saves the life of an enemy Sorcerer, she finds herself drawn into a world of magic that’s more beautiful, more seductive, and more dangerous than she ever imagined.

David Adams – The Pariahs

Two sellswords—a half-elf and a half-orc—find their war over before it even begins. But trouble is stirring on the home front, conflict which threatens more than just their lives.

Amy Raby – The Fire Seer
Taya must use her fire visions to investigate a series of murders, but the Coalition of Mages has partnered her with her old nemesis, the man who used to bully her when they were young.

C. Greenwood – Magic of Thieves & Betrayal of Thieves

In a province where magic is forbidden, young Ilan, born with the powerful gift of her ancestors, has only one hope for survival—concealment.

David Dalglish – The Weight of Blood

When half-bloods Harruq and Qurrah Tun pledged their lives to a death prophet, they only sought escape from their squalid beginnings. Instead, they become his greatest disciples, charged with leading his army of undead.

K.J. Colt – Bear Heart

In the savage lands of Ruxdor, young Klawdia must fight the champions of four rival clans to defend her future as the first female chieftain.

Shae Ford – Poison

A bandit girl is taken from her home and thrust into a complex world of lords and ladies, where she learns that she must kill to survive.

Endi Webb – The Maskmaker’s Apprentice

Masks of legend. Masks of power. Those who dare to wear them trifle with the old powers and risk ruin and mayhem. But a young apprentice maskmaker cannot contain his curiosity, and accidentally unleashes a deadly terror upon an unsuspecting world.

Michael Wallace – The Dark Citadel

A slave boy and a young queen lead an alliance of spies, servants, and merchants to stave off the encroaching armies of a dark wizard.

Terah Edun – Blades of Magic

As an unstoppable war breaks out, a young girl enlists in the military to unravel the secrets surrounding her father’s execution.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What’s coming in 2015?

The Fire Seer audiobook coverWhat new releases do I have planned for 2015?

I’m got two projects in the works right now. The first is the audiobook version of The Fire Seer. It’s narrated by Scott Richard Ehredt, who is FABULOUS, and will likely be out in the first half of January because it’s nearly finished. I can’t wait for you guys to hear it!

Next up: The Fire Seer sequel, which I’m furiously writing right now. I’m targeting a mid-March release for this one, although that is a very aggressive target, and if I run into any problems, it may take me a bit longer. But definitely this will one will happen in Spring 2015; it’s coming along nicely. All I can say for now is that it involves a confrontation between Mandir and his father!

After that, I don’t have a firm plan for my next book. I’d really like to release the third Coalition of Mages (Fire Seer) book in late 2015, but I since I don’t have it plotted yet, I can’t say for sure that will happen. I might write a Hearts and Thrones novella in between the Fire Seer books, featuring Drusus, because I’ve got much of that one plotted out in my head already. Another possibility is the dragon novel (a new series opener), which is not only plotted but partially written. I’ve held off on it because I don’t know if it’s a good idea to start a new series while I have two already in progress, but if I’m stuck on everything else, I’ll work on that one.

Another possibility is Hearts and Thrones book 5, featuring Laelia, but I’d like to get the third Fire Seer book out before I start on it.

Those are my rough plans for 2015. Happy New Year!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Healer’s Touch out today!

healer_promo

For those following the adventures of the imperial family in Kjall, meet Marius!

Marius believes himself to be an ordinary small-town apothecary—until the imperial guards show up at his door. Then he learns the truth: he is cousin to the Kjallan emperor. Before he was born, his mother eloped with her beloved, leaving the palace and its intrigues behind. Now Marius returns to the imperial seat, where he will learn healing magic and struggle to adapt his small town soul to big city life.

Meanwhile, the neighboring nation of Sardos has collapsed, and refugees are pouring over the border. Isolda, a Sardossian shopkeeper, is among them. She has fled her cruel husband and now ekes out a living on the streets of the imperial city.

When Marius meets Isolda in the aftermath of a factory explosion, he falls for this determined woman who, like him, is far from home and struggling to find her place. But Isolda faces daily discrimination and harassment, while Marius’s imperial relatives parade before him a bevy of women they deem more suitable to his station. Marius must decide: is he the emperor’s dutiful cousin, grateful for the gifts that have been given him, or is he his mother’s son, prepared to sacrifice everything for love

Healer’s Touch, the fourth book in the award-winning Hearts and Thrones series, is available now as an ebook on Amazon, and coming soon in trade paperback and to other retailers.

Posted in fantasy romance, Healer's Touch, Hearts and Thrones series, New release | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Excerpt from Healer’s Touch

Here is Chapter One from the upcoming Healer’s Touch, book 4 of the Hearts and Thrones series, which will be out later this month. Enjoy!

healer_promoChapter 1

Marius had never seen a carriage like this one. It sat before a backdrop of sagging storefronts and fading paint, as incongruous with its surroundings as a swan in a mud puddle. Bars of gold and ivory swooped upward to outline its form, and a crystal lamp sparkled at each corner. Four dapple gray horses waited in harness. He could not imagine what even a single horse of such quality would cost, let alone four of them. A thousand tetrals? More?

He pushed open the wooden shutters of his apartment window for a better view. The carriage was escorted by two others, one in front and the other behind. The escorts weren’t as fancy as the middle carriage, but they were finer than what anyone in the village could afford. Who could be the owner of this assemblage? It was rare for the nobility to pass through a backwater like Osler.

He was due back at the apothecary in a few hours, but his mother had told him that if he ever saw a rich man’s carriage in Osler, he needed to tell her immediately. Apparently she’d once had a serious quarrel with a nobleman.

Marius leaned out the window in hopes of seeing the great man, or perhaps it was a great woman. But he saw only servants. A coachman stood at the lead horse’s head, and a groom was draping blankets over the horses’ backs. Why would a noble personage carry a grudge against his mother for so many years? It didn’t make sense, but he would tell her about the carriage anyway. On his way out, he grabbed a bottle of tincture he’d been meaning to bring her.

The carriage guards paid him not the slightest attention as he climbed down the stairs. A pair of them were going into Lev’s Inn and Tavern. Marius smiled. Gods help them if they tried the special.

A quarter mile down the road, he angled onto the dirt path that led to his parents’ home. Once inside, he hung his hat on the rack and called, “It’s me.” A savory scent wafted past his nose. His mother must be cooking.

She came into the entryway and folded him into a hug.

He hugged her back gently. His mother, Camilla, wasn’t young anymore. She’d borne her children later in life than most women, and Marius feared that he and his younger sister had been a strain on her. She was delicate as a bird, yet he felt strength in her small frame.

He took the bottle of tincture from his pocket and pressed it into her hands. “I brought you more of this. Promise you’ll take it this time?”

She smiled, looking sheepish. “Of course.”

“Your joints will feel better if you do. It’s concentrated, so go easy on it, one swallow in the morning and another at night—”

She waved a hand. “I know how willow bark works. Are you off duty until evening? I’ve got soup on. Won’t do it any harm if we take it off the fire early.”

Marius shed his cloak and followed her into the kitchen, where the aroma of onions and carrots and herbs hung heavy in the air. “I’m not here for supper. I came because I saw a fancy carriage in town.”

Camilla’s eye flicked back to him. “The governor’s?”

“No.”

She walked to the soup pot over the fire, lifted the lid, and stirred. “There’s no reason for the nobility to come through Osler. They take the Nigellus Road. What did the carriage look like?”

“Fancy. There were three carriages, actually. The guards are in orange livery.” His stomach rumbled. He hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

Camilla dropped the lid back onto the soup pot and turned. “Orange?”

He nodded.

She raised her eyes to his, and Marius became conscious of the lines on her face. She did not speak, and Marius gathered that his answer was not the one she’d wanted.

“Is it the one you’re worried about?” he asked.

She blinked and stammered something that wasn’t a word. Then she left the kitchen.

“Mother?” he called after her.

Her voice shook. “He’s found us.” From the kitchen, he heard her pounding on the door to the workshop. “Tertius, come out. The Legaciatti are here.”

Marius shook his head as if to shake cobwebs loose. Legaciatti? Those were the emperor’s personal guards. They lived in the imperial city and would have no reason to come to a remote village like Osler. “I’m sure they’re not Legaciatti,” he called to her. He cocked his head and listened. She did not answer, but he heard banging and rustling as someone, perhaps two someones, moved around in the workshop.

His mother returned to the kitchen, lugging a rucksack.

“You shouldn’t be lifting that,” said Marius, reaching to take it from her.

She let him have it. “Take this and go.”

Marius blinked. “Where? I have a shift this evening.” She had to be wrong about the guards being Legaciatti. His family was of no importance whatsoever and would have no business with the Imperium. Neither she nor his father could have committed the sort of crime that would attract the attention of the imperial seat, or, for that matter, any crime at all. His parents were the most straight-laced, law-abiding people he knew. They never gossiped or gambled. They rarely even drank.

“Forget the apothecary,” said his mother. “You have no idea what you’re dealing with.”

“Tell me, then.”

“Some things it’s better not to know.”

She was shaking like a twig in a storm. As absurd as her fears might seem, it was clear that to her, they were absolutely real. Marius felt an icy chill along his spine, like the time his sister had dropped a snowball down the back of his shirt. “Explain this plan to me. Where am I to go? I’ve no money to travel with.”

“Away from Osler. Your father and I will catch up.”

She tried to push him toward the door, but he wouldn’t budge. “What about Laelia?” If the danger was real, they couldn’t leave his sister behind.

His father entered the kitchen with a rucksack of his own heaved onto his wiry back. He moved to the larder, snatching up supplies: the rest of the day’s bread, a bunch of carrots, a pair of wrinkled apples. “I’ll run and fetch Laelia. You leave now and get a head start.”

Marius gaped. His father was quiet and sensible by nature, the steady counterpart to his mother’s fire. If his parents were united in their determination to leave Osler, the situation was serious. “What’s Gratian going to say?” Laelia’s live-in lover wasn’t the friendliest of men.

His father shook his head. “He’ll have to let her go. If he doesn’t, he’ll regret it. Get moving, son.”

Marius went to the entryway, grabbed his cloak, and slung it around his shoulders. His parents’ sincerity had convinced him to follow their directions, at least for the time being, but he could not pretend he understood what was going on. “Are you in trouble with the Imperium?”

“Yes,” called his mother. “We’ll explain later.”

What could his quiet, reclusive parents have done that would induce the empire to hunt them down? He stuffed his hat on his head and grabbed a blanket from the nearest bedroom. “I’ll help you fetch Laelia.” Strength in numbers, when it came to dealing with Gratian.

A loud noise made him jump, and he turned. Someone was banging on the front door with something heavy.

“Out the back, quickly!” shrieked his mother.

Marius lost no time in following her. It appeared her lifelong fear was justified. Someone really was after them.

His father yanked open the back door to a wall of orange livery, and a host of imperial guards swarmed into the house.

Marius sat at the kitchen table with his mother on his left and his father on his right. Guards encircled them. His stomach was in knots, and so far nothing was happening either to alleviate or to sharpen his fears. He and his parents were being held here for some event yet to come, and the guards refused to answer his questions. His parents surely knew something about what was happening, but when he sent them desperate, questioning looks, they stared down at the table and didn’t meet his eyes.

Turning from them, he looked to the guards, trying to determine if they really were Legaciatti. They did have the sickle and sunburst insignia, but did that prove anything? Anyone could make up an insignia and sew it to a uniform. The guards were intimidating, each of them carrying a sword and pistol at his belt as well as a heavy, bronze-tipped stick. Perhaps the stick was for beating people into submission. Or, now that he thought about it, for knocking on doors.

So far the guards had not been violent. One had grabbed his mother when she tried to slip away, but not roughly. Marius recognized the guard standing across from the table as the one he’d seen outside Lev’s earlier in the day.

“Could you just tell us what’s going on?” Marius blurted.

“The emperor will be along shortly,” said the guard from Lev’s.

Marius laughed. This was all a joke, surely. The emperor would not have come personally for his mother; if she were truly in trouble, he’d have sent his guards for her. “The Kjallan emperor?”

The guard gave him a look. “What other emperor is there?”

The Kjallan emperor—ridiculous.

His mother stared straight ahead, stony-faced, wringing her hands in her lap. His father, as always, was an open book, his face etched with worry lines, but he did not seem surprised. That was the oddest thing about this affair. Marius’s parents seemed to have expected this to happen. Even planned for it.

Marius tried something else. “May I have some water?”

After a moment’s hesitation, one of the guards looked around the kitchen, spied the water pitcher, and poured him a glass. He set it in front of Marius. “Here, sir.”

Sir. Marius almost laughed. He lifted the glass and drained half of it.

All at once, the guards shifted, turning toward the front entryway and dipping their heads as another man entered the room. This, Marius supposed, was the emperor, or at least someone pretending to be the emperor. He was average in height. In fact, Marius probably had an inch on him. The emperor, if indeed that was who he was, was black-haired and fine-featured. He didn’t look much like his profile on the Kjallan tetral.

The emperor was known to be crippled, but this man wasn’t limping. Marius looked down at the man’s feet and saw a normal boot on the right, leather and mud-spattered. On the left was a sort of wooden shoe. He’d heard that One-Legged Lucien walked with the aid of a prosthetic. Was he looking at that famous prosthetic now?

The supposed emperor turned to his mother. “Sabina,” he said, holding out his hand.

Marius let out his breath in relief. This was a mistake. Sabina was not his mother’s name. These people, whether imperials or charlatans, had come to the wrong house.

His mother stiffened and planted her hands in her lap, refusing to clasp wrists. “You’re too late. He’s grown up, and you can’t have him. He’s no use to you, anyway. He’s got no education and no magic.”

Marius blinked, stunned by this response.

The supposed emperor turned to his father and again offered his arm. “Anton.”

Marius’s father lowered his eyes, but he extended his hand and clasped wrists.

Now the man turned to Marius himself. “Your name, sir?”

Marius reached out and clasped his wrist. “Marius. But I think you’ve come to the wrong house. Those aren’t their names.”

“It’s the right house,” said the emperor. “And those are their names. It’s wonderful to meet you, Marius. I’m Lucien Florian Nigellus, emperor of Kjall. You and I are cousins.”

Marius gaped.

“You can’t have him,” said his mother.

Lucien’s gaze slid in her direction. “I think he’s old enough to make his own decisions.”

Marius reeled in his seat, catching himself just in time to avoid falling out of it. He and the emperor were cousins? How was that possible?

Lucien turned to him. “Your mother never told you, but she’s a full sister to my predecessor, Florian Nigellus Gavros.”

Marius shook his head. “I think you’ve made a mistake. Her name is Camilla Brosus…” He hesitated. Maybe he shouldn’t be sharing these details.

“She changed it before you were born,” said Lucien. “She’s been in hiding for decades. Haven’t you, Sabina?”

His mother—Sabina?—stared balefully at the emperor.

“I’ve found your sister,” said Lucien. “A couple of guards are watching her house. They’ll go in once we’re done here.” He gestured to his guards and nodded at Marius. “I’d like to speak with you alone.”

“No!” cried his mother.

The emperor ignored her. A pair of guards directed Marius out of his chair. He rose and followed them.

“Marius, he’s not a friend!” called his mother as he walked from the kitchen to the entryway in the company of the emperor and a pair of Legaciatti.

They led him out of the house, where the grand carriage awaited. A footman opened the carriage door. Marius was closer to the vehicle than he had been earlier, and he looked for signs of fakery. Perhaps the lamps were cheap glass instead of crystal. Might a thin layer of gold plating be flaking off the trim? But he saw nothing of the sort. Everything looked genuine, and when he laid his hand on the carriage door, he felt its weight and its smoothness as it swung on its hinges. And those stunning dapple grays—equine quality could not be faked.

He was convinced. Everything was real, and that meant the emperor had to be real, too.

Emperor Lucien stepped into the carriage. Marius hesitated, and the guard gave him a gentle nudge. Marius had never ridden in a carriage before. He climbed awkwardly through the door.

The carriage was enormous on the inside and could easily have seated eight. Since he and Lucien were the only ones within, Marius took the seat across from the emperor. He sank deeply into the cushions and struggled for a moment to right himself. He was used to firmer seats. Was this what luxury was like, always throwing one off balance? The footman closed the door behind them, granting them privacy. Marius was alone with the emperor of Kjall. He shoved his hands into his pockets so that their trembling wouldn’t show.

“I’m going to tell you a story,” said Lucien. “Once upon a time, long before I was born, my grandfather Nigellus was emperor. He had two children, a boy named Florian and a girl named Sabina.”

Marius made a strangled noise.

Lucien continued. “Nigellus arranged marriages for both of his children. Florian married as Nigellus directed him and had four children, of which I am the third. But Sabina did not like the man Nigellus had chosen for her. She had fallen in love with another man, a humble upholsterer named Anton who had done some work in the palace.”

“My father is a carpenter, not an upholsterer,” said Marius.

“Let me finish my story,” said Lucien. “Sabina eloped with Anton and fled into the countryside. Nigellus tried to find her, but his health was failing, and he died before he could locate her. My father, Florian, ascended the throne, and once established, he resumed the search. He found Sabina and Anton in the city of Rodgany, and they had a child with them—a three-year-old daughter.”

Marius let his breath out. This was all wrong. His parents had never lived in Rodgany, and he was the eldest child. Laelia was two years younger than he.

“Florian left Sabina and Anton where they were, but he took the daughter. You have two sisters, Marius. Not one.”

He shook his head. “I’ve always been the eldest.”

“You have never met Rhianne,” said Lucien gently. “She was raised in the imperial palace and is now the Queen of Mosar.”

Marius stared at him, dumbstruck. He had an older sister, and she was a queen? No, that could not be true. “You’ve got the wrong family—”

“I don’t,” said Lucien. “I’ve been searching for years, and I’m certain I’ve found the people I’m looking for. You are my cousin. You are also Florian’s nephew and Rhianne’s full brother. Rhianne has wondered for years whether her parents had more children after Florian stole her, but they moved away from Rodgany and changed their names, even their professions. They did not want to be found again.”

“Why?” Marius blurted.

Lucien leaned back in his seat. “Because they didn’t want their children taken away a second time.”

“You’re saying they moved and changed their identities because of me and Laelia?”

“They didn’t want to lose you. I promised Rhianne that I would find you, if you existed. All her life, she has missed her parents and wondered about possible siblings. Florian raised Rhianne with every advantage of education and position and wealth, but in other ways he was not good to her. She’s in Mosar now, and far happier than she was here. She will be happier still if she can be reunited with her long-lost family. And Marius, you and your sister belong at the palace. Your mother says you’re not educated. Is that true?”

“I’m a journeyman apothecary. I work for Appius—”

“Do you know your letters?”

“No, but…” He’d never needed them, and never thought he would. Appius couldn’t read either. His cheeks heated as realized how provincial he must seem to this man. When Lucien said educated, he didn’t mean someone who had learned a trade. He meant someone with a formal education, a scholar like they had at the universities. Marius couldn’t even read a street sign.

“I can fix all that,” said Lucien.

“You’re asking me to go with you to the Imperial Palace—”

“I’m not asking,” said Lucien.

Marius looked into those hard black eyes. His mother’s fears had been justified. The emperor did mean to take him away, and apparently Marius wasn’t going to have a say in the matter. He glanced out the carriage windows. Could he escape? Probably not with all those guards watching. Did he want to escape? He wasn’t sure.

“I never knew your mother,” said Lucien. “She fled from Nigellus before I was born, and we met for the very first time today. I don’t know why she made the choices she did, but Marius, those choices have greatly limited your opportunities in life. When she separated you from the rest of your family, she denied you the education and the magic that should have been your birthright—”

“I don’t want them,” said Marius.

“Are you certain? You’re an apothecary. What led you to choose that calling?”

He shrugged. “I like to help people.”

“How effective are your herbs and poultices?”

Marius bit his lip. For most conditions, not very.

“What if you augmented the skill you already possess with the magic of a Healer?” continued Lucien. “Think how much more you could do.”

Marius was silent. He knew Healers could help the people that apothecaries couldn’t. All his life, he’d envied those rare few with healing magic. The emperor had known just where to poke him to make him hurt. And to yearn for more.

“I’m taking you back with me to Riat,” said Lucien. “But I won’t break up your family. All of you will come: you, your sister, and your parents.”

He swallowed. “My sister’s…friend…may give you some trouble.”

“If a situation develops, my guards will handle it,” said Lucien. “Let’s get started, shall we? It’s time this family was reunited. Did you know your sister Rhianne has children? You’re an uncle, and you didn’t even know it.”

Marius couldn’t respond. He felt as if a dust devil had descended upon Osler, picked up the pieces of his life, and whirled them into the air, scattering them hopelessly.

Posted in Excerpts, Healer's Touch, Hearts and Thrones series | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Cover reveal for Healer’s Touch

healer_promo

It’s here, the cover for Healer’s Touch! I love how this one turned out. This book will be out in late November. As to who the guy is on the cover, all I can tell you right now is that his name is Marius and you haven’t met him yet. But I’ll be posting the opening chapter here soon.

Posted in cover reveal, Hearts and Thrones series | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments