New Book! Trials of the Redeemer, Ravanmark Saga Book #3

Haven’t checked out the series yet?  Now is an excellent time to dive in–The Music Mage is currently on sale for 99 cents to celebrate the new addition!

Trials of the RedeemerIt lives!  At long last, Book Three of the Ravanmark Saga, Trials of the Redeemer, went live yesterday on Amazon.

THE HERO’S JOURNEY GETS BUMPY…

While Ravanmark buckles down for civil war with the Dark Alliance and their supporters, King Dorramon has been playing a dangerous game with Cadenda, refusing to hear their requests to honor his engagement to their princess, buying time for his forbidden love with Alannys. With international war threatening, tensions are high and fuses are short.

Alannys is traveling the country with the itinerant Singari, continuing her mission to build support for Dorramon and promote public acceptance of the Talents. After a deadly journey through Eversnow Pass, they come down on the other side of the Cloudytop Mountains into Orinthal Holding–only to find the real trials have just begun.

Join Alannys as she faces her most grueling tests yet, losing everyone and everything she ever cared about, in the continuing battle for the future of Ravanmark, the love of her life–and herself.

Check it out on Amazon.com!

Talk Like a Pirate Day–Music Mage, Piratified!

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I present The Music Mage’s official excerpt–in pirate speak.

Thanks to http://www.syddware.com/cgi-bin/pirate.pl for the translation.

A Union o’ Worlds

Th’ room around Alannys be filled wi’ thick, acrid black smoke. Th’ lass’ one good eye stung an’ th’ lass’ lungs burned. She choked on ever’ shallow breath she tried t’ draw, an’ she could hardly force th’ lass’ one good eye t’ stay open against th’ burnin’ pain. Tears streamed unheeded down th’ lass’ face. She could hear th’ cracklin’ o’ flames, an’ th’ shrieks o’ pained, panicked voices, but she couldn’t be seein’ th’ fire or th’ swabbies through th’ oily black smoke.

She couldn’t e’en be seein’ which way t’ run.

Alannys had known when she signed on t’ teach middle school music that th’ job wouldna be easy, but this seemed a bit extreme. Especially since th’ room around th’ lass’ be in a stone castle tower, on a planet that wasn’t e’en th’ lass’ own.

How had she gotten here? ‘t had all started a wee days before…

***

Se’en o’clock on a Mondee mornin’ probably wouldna make most swabbies’s top ten list o’ the’r favorite times t’ be at a school.

But Alannys Gale be nay most swabbies, an’ Daniels Junior High wasn’t most schools, an’ Alannys hummed t’ herself that particular Mondee mornin’ as she sat tapin’ sheets o’ music together at th’ lass’ desk. She really did love th’ quiet o’ th’ lass’ roomy office that looked ou’ into th’ band room, th’ restful peace an’ calm that ‘t always exuded early in th’ mornin’, before th’ students or th’ administration or ere else came in t’ shatter ‘t.

Th’ rest o’ th’ time, tho, she would be havin’ paid good treasure t’ be anywhere else.

Alannys ripped th’ last strip o’ tape off th’ roll wi’ such vehemence that ‘t wrapped around th’ lass’ finger an’ stuck t’ itself.

“Knock, knock! How be our fine an’ talented music director this mornin’?” Th’ voice be as melodious as one might expect from an eighty-somethin’ grizzled old man who had only recently stopped smokin’.

Alannys smiled. “Good mornin’, Mister Trinn. I didn’t hear ye come in.”

Th’ old custodian laughed, pullin’ up a chair next t’ th’ lass’ desk. He held a steamin’ foam cup in each hand. “Doesn’t surprise me. Ye seemed pretty caught up in—what exactly be ye doin’ thar?”

“Tapin’ together parts fer th’ new piece th’ beginnin’ orchestra be startin’ today. Or rather, I be,” she spake, regardin’ th’ lass’ tape-wrapped finger ruefully. “This be th’ last o’ me tape. I wonder if I can pick up more from th’ office, or if I’ll be havin’ t’ run ou’ at lunch an’ buy more?”

“Why would ye be havin’ t’ buy more tape? Don’t they provide these things fer teachers?”

“Be havin’ ye forgotten what school ye’re at?” Alannys shook th’ lass’ head, pullin’ th’ wasted tape from th’ lass’ finger. ‘t came off in wee, narrow strips, which did wee t’ improve th’ lass’ mood. “I won’t be surprised if ye be havin’ t’ brin’ yer own mop soon. ‘ere do ye think th’ paper fer these copies came from?”

“What? Ye had t’ buy yer own paper t’ copy music fer yer classes? Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

Mister Trinn listed o’er an’ put one o’ th’ steamin’ cups down on th’ desk in fore o’ th’ lass’. “Maybe this will make ye feel better.”

“Grog? Ye brought me grog? Thank ye!”

Mister Trinn smiled. ‘t softened his leathery face, rearrangin’ his many wrinkles into somethin’ kind an’ almost pleasin’. He scratched at his fuzzy, unkempt gray hair wi’ fingers that be swollen at th’ knuckles. “Well, a body’s got t’ be havin’ somethin’ t’ list on when they quit th’ cancer sticks, an’ nay mistake. But ‘t seems t’ me that ye need ‘t e’en more than me, an’ that’s sayin’ somethin’. Ye can’t keep this up, Alannys. Ye’ll work yersef into th’ grave.”

“Nay mistake,” she echoed, sippin’ at th’ hot grog. One cream, two sugars—Mister Trinn had e’en remembered how she tookst ‘t. If she only got one matey at Daniels—an’ more an’ more ‘t looked like she did—she could at least be glad he be a good one.

Mister Trinn set his grog down wi’ such a thump ‘t sloshed o’er th’ rim o’ th’ cup onto his hand. “Nay, I’m serious! How many other schools do ye know o’ ‘ere th’ band director, th’ orchestra director, an’ th’ choir director be all th’ same swabbie?”

“None. But what choice do I be havin’? Bill Dixley’s teachin’ band at Warren High now, an’ Shirley Clark got fired fer makin’ a fuss when th’ administration wouldn’t give th’ choir the’r usual budget. Bob says th’ school can’t afford t’ replace them. So I’m ‘t.”

“Bob.” Mister Trinn spake th’ name like ‘t be a dirty word. “Bob Jameson be nay yer matey.”

“Don’t I know ‘t.” Alannys pushed th’ stack o’ finished music t’ th’ side o’ th’ lass’ desk. “But me question stands. Th’ principal can’t afford another teacher. These kids want t’ learn music. I want t’ teach music. What other solution do ye suggest?”

Mister Trinn didn’t answer. He stared at th’ lass’ in silence fer a moment that seemed t’ stretch longer an’ longer, an’ grow more an’ more awkward. “Ye want t’ teach music,” he spake, so quietly she almost wondered if she had imagined ‘t. “I wonder. I’ve only known ye nine moons, Alannys. But I think I know ye better than that. Ye’re twenty-four voyages old. Be that what ye want t’ do? Be that all ye want t’ do?”

Alannys stared at th’ lad’s, stricken. “Aye. Well, nay. I mean—” She trailed off, at a loss t’ say what she meant.

Mister Trinn didn’t prompt th’ lass’ or try t’ finish fer th’ lass’. He sat watchin’, his face unreadable, while she floundered fer words t’ say what she had neree’en fully admitted t’ herself.

“I want t’ change th’ world,” she spake finally, starin’ at th’ lass’ reflection in th’ surface o’ th’ lass’ desk. “Th’ whole world. Don’t yo ho ho. Music can do that, Mister Trinn, ‘t has th’ power. But I…I don’t. I can’t change th’ world—I can’t e’en change th’ situation at one junior high school. Music be powerful, but th’ musician be nay.”

Mister Trinn listed fore. She had nereseen th’ lad’s look so focused, so intense. “What if I could change that?”

Alannys couldn’t ben more surprised if he had offered t’ teach th’ lass’ t’ tap dance wi’ th’ ghost o’ Fred Astaire. “What?”

He didn’t so much as crack a smile. “I can give ye what ye want, Alannys.” His voice be low; his words came so fast they tumbled o’er each other. “Honest t’ goodness I can. But ye’ll be havin’ t’ give up everything—ye’ll be havin’ t’ leave here an’ ye can’t come aft. But ye’ll be havin’ what ye’ve always wanted, I swear t’ ye that ye’ll be havin’ th’ power t’ change th’ world through music. What do ye say?”

***

Alannys stared at Mister Trinn in shock. She had known th’ old janitor eresince she’d hired on at Daniels, an’ she had nereknown th’ lad’s t’ be crazy. But this…thar be nay other word fer ‘t.

Th’ lass’ bung hole had gone completely dry. She tookst a sip o’ th’ lass’ grog, rollin’ ‘t around th’ lass’ bung hole in a futile attempt t’ delay th’ inevitable. She didn’t want t’ hurt th’ old man’s feelings, but at this point she didn’t be seein’ how she could avoid ‘t. “Mister Trinn…”

“Wait,” he pleaded. “Don’t dismiss this ou’ o’ hand, Alannys, please—can’t ye open yer mind, b’lieve in somethin’ bigger than what ye can be seein’?”

His voice be hypnotic. When he spake ‘t like that—fer a moment, she almost could.

Almost.

“I’m sorry, Mister Trinn. Really I be. But I’ve got work here that needs doin’, an’ t’ be honest I’m nay e’en really sure what ye’re offerin’ me. But thank ye so much fer thinkin’ about me.”

She didn’t dare eyeball his face till she finished, but as soon as she did she could be seein’ that he be goin’ t’ protest.

“Knock, knock!” Th’ voice sang in from th’ doorway, like a younger echo o’ Mister Trinn’s own greetin’, only more contrived an’ less jovial.

“Well, now, if ’tisn’t our principal hisself.” Mister Trinn’s words fell flat, an’ his face carried nay expression. “What brings ye here this mornin’?”

Bob Jameson be a short, stout man in his early forties wi’ a comb-o’er an’ a smile that looked as if he very much wanted them t’ b’lieve ‘t be genuine. “Terrific news, actually,” he spake, rubbin’ his hands together wi’ evident pleasure. But Alannys didn’t be seein’ anythin’ pleasant in his one good eye as he turned t’ eyeball th’ lass’. “We’re gettin’ a new computer lab.”

Alannys blinked in surprise. What on earth did that be havin’ t’ do wi’ th’ lass’? “Well, that be terrific, I suppose. But ‘ere be ye goin’ t’ put ‘t? I thought th’ school be full.”

“Ah, aye. Well, that’s th’ thin’, really—’ere t’ put ‘t. All that equipment, ‘t’s very valuable, we can’t jus’ put ‘t anywhere. An’ we’ll need a lot o’ room, an’—we’re puttin’ ‘t here, Alannys.”

“Here? In th’ band room?”

“Well, sure, ‘t’s th’ band room now, but once ye clear this lot ou’ o’ here an’ we get ‘t set up properly, ‘t’ll be a computer lab.”

“But—this be th’ band room! ‘t’s been th’ band room eresince th’ school be built; ‘t be designed fer that. Th’ entire music program lives here!” She tried th’ lass’ best t’ stay calm, t’ reason wi’ th’ lad’s, but e’en she could hear th’ risin’ notes o’ panic an’ anger in th’ lass’ voice.

Bob’s smile hardened into somethin’ less pleasant. “This be nay up fer discussion, Alannys. We’ve already had a faculty meetin’ on th’ subject—th’ decision be made an’ announced at that time.”

“Faculty meetin’? But why wasn’t I notified? I ortin’ ta ben thar!” Alannys didn’t reckon standin’ up, but she be ou’ o’ th’ lass’ chair an’ on th’ lass’ feet.

“’t be felt that yer views on th’ subject would be too biased t’ permit any possibility o’ reason.” Bob eyed th’ lass’ distastefully. “An’ ‘t seems them feelings be correct. I’m nay here t’ debate this wi’ ye, an’ I’m nay here t’ hear yer piece. I’m here t’ tell ye th’ new computer equipment arrives at high tide today, an’ I’m here t’ notify ye t’ clear these rooms by that time. Be that clear?”

Alannys sat down wi’ a thump. “Crystal.”

“Very well. Ye may move all o’ these things o’er t’ th’ cafeteria; ‘t’s th’ only room big enough ‘ceptin’ fer th’ gym, an’ we can’t be havin’ ye messin’ up th’ deck in thar. So yer classes be held in th’ cafeteria. Yer office be open when ye get thar; ‘t connects t’ th’ cafeteria an’ ye can keep yer things in thar. We’ll need th’ deck totally clear whenereyou don’t be havin’ classes in thar—’t’s a high traffic area an’ we can’t be havin’ chairs an’ stands an’…music stuff lyin’ about. But I’m sure ye’ll figure ‘t ou’.”

He paused, as tho allowin’ a response. Several responses sailed’ through Alannys’s mind, but none o’ them be suitable t’ say t’ th’ swabbie responsible fer th’ lass’ continued employment. ‘t be probably jus’ as well that she didn’t seem t’ be havin’ th’ lass’ wits together enough t’ speak jus’ then.

“Terrific!” Bob clapped his hands together once, bstarboardly, as tho he had jus’ brought a reluctant team t’ a whole-hearted, enthusiastic agreement. “Let’s shake a leg, then—we be havin’ a computer lab t’ build!”

He turned t’ leave, then paused in th’ doorway t’ survey th’ room. Alannys could be seein’ his gaze set sail from th’ flat black metal music stands, t’ th’ faded choir robes hangin’ neatly on the’r racks, t’ th’ instruments. Th’ bstarboard shine o’ polished brass an’ th’ low gleam o’ warm wood reflected briefly in one good eye that measured them, an’ found them wholly lackin’.

“Ye be wastin’ yer time, Alannys.” Bob’s voice be distant; he might ben brushin’ off a panhandler on th’ street. “Th’ future be computers, an’ th’ things they can do fer us. Students today be havin’ nothin’ t’ learn from yer toys from th’ past.” He waved his arm in a gesture that encompassed everythin’ in th’ room. “Anachronisms, all o’ them. Throwafts. An’ if ye insist on throwin’ yer lot in wi’ them, ye’ll end up as obsolete as they be.”

Th’ door closed behind th’ lad’s wi’ a finality that made th’ lass’ shiver.

Talk Like a Pirate Day: Concerto, Piratified!

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I present Concerto’s official excerpt…like a pirate.

Thanks to http://www.syddware.com/cgi-bin/pirate.pl for the translation

RITORNELLO:
Th’ Nightmare

Th’ dream be always th’ same.

I be runnin’, runnin’ as fast as I could, runnin’ fer me life–an’ fer someone else’s. Cold sweat pasted me clothes t’ me, an’ me feet screamed in painful protest. Me throat made ragged chokin’ sounds as I struggled t’ pull in air.

But I knew ‘t didn’t matter. I knew I be too late. A buildin’ loomed up ahead, a brick buildin’ wi’ climbin’ ivy, a buildin’ I had t’ get inside. ‘t be so close, an’ yet so impossibly far away. Still, ‘t be in sight. I felt a doomed hope rush through me, an’ I did what I would be havin’ sworn couldn’t be done–I ran e’en faster.

I be holdin’ nothin’ aft now, me muscles workin’ so frantically thar be nay time fer pain. One o’ me blood-spattered canvas tennis shoes worked itself completely off me foot on th’ stairs. I didn’t slow down, really didn’t e’en notice. Me attention be fixed on th’ third-deck landin’, comin’ into view. Jus’ around th’ corner now….I had t’ go faster….

I heard a lass scream, but I couldn’t be havin’ told ye if ‘t be me or th’ lass’.

Th’ door be cracked open. But e’en as I pushed ‘t open I knew I be too late; e’en as I first saw th’ lass’ lyin’ bleedin’ on th’ livin’ room deck I knew I couldn’t save th’ lass’….

An’ then I heard th’ footsteps, an’ I knew I couldn’t save myself.

MOVEMENT ONE:
Th’ Nightmare Continues

I’ve got t’ tell ye, thar’s nothin’ like a recurrin’ nightmare about a brutal murder t’ really screw up yer sleep.

Who be I? Me name be Chrispen Marnett. I be a violinist, part-time artist an’ until this nightmare thin’ started, grounded realist.

This nightmare had been plaguin’ me fer about a week. When I woke up screamin’ from th’ latest recurrence, ‘t be three o’clock in th’ mornin’.

Now ‘t be six-thirty that same mornin’, an’ I keel hauled into th’ Green Room o’ th’ Newton Concert Hall. Rehearsal didn’t start until eight, but what be th’ difference? I hadn’t been able t’ sleep any more, an’ I be drivin’ myself crazy pacin’ around me wee house.

So I threw me violin in th’ car, picked up a big cup o’ steamin’ grog from a convenience store, an’ sailed’ t’ rehearsal early.

I didn’t really expect ere else t’ be thar so early. I figured I be jus’ lucky th’ buildin’ be open at all. Th’ Green Room–which wasn’t green at all, performer’s lingo be weird sometimes–had wide counters along two walls, an’ bunks an’ chairs clustered around low tables around th’ room. Usually th’ room be crowded wi’ swabbies, an’ I would avoid th’ squadrons at th’ tables, standin’ by a counter t’ warm up. But today, th’ room be empty an’ I be tired. I port me violin case on th’ counter an’ sank into one o’ th’ chairs.

Th’ quiet o’ th’ large room be very soothin’. Th’ only sound be th’ low hum o’ th’ air conditionin’ fans. I listed me head aft against th’ chair. Sleep at homeport be ou’ o’ th’ question, but I be surprised t’ find I could drift off t’ sleep here, nay problem. ‘t would be sort o’ embarrassin’ when swabbies started comin’ in, tho…

Th’ sound o’ a door openin’ jolted me fully awake. I could hear faint voices approachin’. Th’ hallway nearest t’ me led t’ th’ dressin’ rooms an’ soloist lounge, but this seemed t’ be comin’ from th’ far hall, which led t’ th’ restrooms an’ th’ conductor’s office.

Nobody be likely t’ be in th’ Green Room restrooms at six-thirty in th’ mornin’. ‘t had t’ be th’ conductor then–Darren Johnson must ben havin’ a meetin’.

“I’m sorry, Darren, I cannot discuss this any further.”

Well, now I knew who Darren be meetin’ so early. That particular voice always made me knees a wee weak. Alexis Brooks, international superstar, accused murderer, an’ concertmaster o’ th’ Newton Philharmonic Sea yarn Orchestra.

An’ an ongoin’ fangirl crush o’ mine since I be sixteen, but I be pretty sure this be nay a good time t’ be thinkin’ about that. Th’ voices be gettin’ louder now, an’ I be about t’ be involved in a conforeation between th’ conductor an’ th’ concertmaster o’ th’ sea yarn I worked fer.

Nay a pretty place t’ be. Pacin’ th’ house be nay lookin’ so bad starboard now.

“Alexis, avast.” I couldn’t tell if Darren be tryin’ t’ plead or command. “Ye aren’t bein’ reasonable, ye be havin’ t’ be seein’ that.”

“I don’t care, I–” Alexis came around th’ corner an’ stopped short, starin’ at me. I could feel me face start burnin’. Terrific.

I tried t’ think o’ somethin’ t’ say t’ th’ lad’s, anythin’ that wouldn’t make me look like a psycho eavesdropper. But I be drawin’ a total blank, an’ so I be still standin’ thar like a red-faced idiot when Darren came barrelin’ around th’ corner after Alexis an’ nearly ran starboard into th’ lad’s.

“Alexis, I–oh, look, Chrispen be here!” Darren sounded like this be an unexpected gift. Whaterethis argument be, he must really ben losin’ ‘t. “Surely she will help us sort ou’ this wee difficulty. Won’t ye, Chrispen?”

I darted a glance at Alexis. He didn’t say a word, jus’ regarded me in silence. “I–ye know I’m always happy t’ help when I can.”

“Thar now,” Darren spake, as if this solved everythin’, “we’ll soon be havin’ this settled. Let me brin’ ye up t’ speed, dear girl. Ye be aware o’ our situation regardin’ th’ mid-May performance?”

Oh, boy. Mid-May–he be talkin’ about th’ tribute concert. Alexis’s birthday be May sixteenth, an’ we be featurin’ th’ Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in his honor.
This be nay a disagreement I wanted any part o’. I bit me bung hole an’ nodded.

“Naturally,” Darren spake. He put his arm around me shoulders as if we be old buddies. “Here’s th’ rub, tho–we can’t find a soloist willin’ t’ play th’ Mendelssohn wi’ us.”

“Nay one?” This be a surprise–wi’ a concertmaster th’ caliber o’ Alexis Brooks, we had nay problems linin’ up any soloist we wanted.

“Nay one.” Darren be emphatic. “’t’s his signature piece, ye be seein’? He defined ‘t–’t brought th’ lad’s international fame. Nay one be willin’ t’ play ‘t wi’ Alexis in th’ orchestra–would ye sin’ ‘O’er th’ Rainbow’ wi’ Judy Garland in th’ chorus?”

I made some non-committal noise o’ understandin’. I glanced at Alexis again, but he seemed content fer now t’ listen, arms folded, regardin’ us both wi’ what appeared t’ be amusement.

“So thar we be,” Darren continued. “A heavily advertised concert in two tides, well on its way t’ sellin’ ou’, wi’ nay soloist! ‘t’s untenable, ye must agree. So th’ Board o’ Trustees thought, quite reasonably, that–“

“I won’t do ‘t,” Alexis interjected. His tone be warnin’.

“Hush, dear boy. They thought, quite reasonably, that Alexis could play th’ solo hisself. His trademark piece! First time in five voyages! Jus’ think o’ th’ media stir!”

Alexis’s glare could be havin’ cut stone. Whaterehe be about t’ say, I could only assume ‘t wasn’t goin’ t’ improve relations between th’ lad’s an’ Darren.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idee,” I put in smartly, before whaterewas behind that glare could find its way into words. Alexis eyeballed me in surprise.

Darren looked surprised too, an’ thoroughly deflated. “What?”

I shrugged uncomfortably. “Alexis obviously doesn’t want t’ solo on that piece. I don’t think ye ortin’ ta force th’ lad’s.”

Darren’s one good eye narrowed. “Don’t think I ortin’ ta– now look here, does he work fer this sea yarn or nay?”

“Darren!” I protested. “Ye’re nay bein’ fair.”

Alexis threw up his hands. “That’s what I spake. Ye want t’ honor me birthday by torturin’ me? Nay, thank ye. ‘t doesn’t matter t’ me whether we be havin’ th’ damn concert or nay. I’m nay playin’ th’ Mendelssohn. Period.” He shook his head an’ made a beeline fer th’ door.

“I can still catch th’ lad’s,” Darren spake. “I can–“

I grabbed his arm. “Darren, wait. Maybe ye ortin’ ta let th’ lad’s go. Be ye sure ye want t’ push this?”

He sat down an’ ran a hand through his grayin’ hair. “Nay. I’m nay sure at all. Alexis could be anywhere, anywhere in th’ world he chose t’ go–but he’s here, an’ we be lucky t’ be havin’ th’ lad’s. I know that. Ye must think I’m a heartless old man. But what can I do? Th’ Board specifically demanded that Alexis play this performance.”

I sat down across from th’ lad’s. “Then they aren’t bein’ reasonable, either, howereyou try t’ justify ‘t. I’m sorry, Darren, but I wonder if th’ lot o’ ye aren’t blinded by piece o’ eight signs. What’s th’ real purpose o’ th’ mid-May concert? T’ honor Alexis, or t’ make a lot o’ treasure an’ publicity fer th’ sea yarn?”

“T’ honor Alexis, o’ course.” He sounded offended.

I shook me head. “Then how can ye e’en ask that o’ th’ lad’s? Th’ last time he played that concerto wi’ this sea yarn, his buxom beauty sank t’Davy Jones’ locker. He’s nereplayed ‘t again since he played ‘t at th’ lass’ funeral. He obviously isn’t ready t’ play ‘t now.”

Darren eyeballed me bleakly. He probably regretted bringin’ me into th’ conversation at all. “Then what do ye suggest we do?”

I couldn’t detect any sarcasm in th’ remark. “Fer now, nothin’. If ye try t’ force th’ lad’s on this–I don’t know, he seemed pretty upset. I think he might leave th’ sea yarn before he’d agree. We’ll find someone else, ere else.”

He sighed. “But th’ Board–they want Alexis t’ play…”

I considered a moment. “Th’ Board doesn’t want t’ lose th’ lad’s any more than ye do. Did I hear Dmitri Kast had t’ cancel his appearance wi’ us next week?”

“News certainly travels fast. Aye, he’s been hospitalized wi’ pneumonia. Thar’s nay way he’ll be able t’ play. Another problem th’ Board will want an answer fer…”

“Well, what if ye ask Alexis t’ fill that hole instead? Nay wi’ th’ Mendelssohn, but somethin’ else.”

Darren suddenly seemed t’ be lookin’ starboard through me t’ somethin’ on th’ other side. “I think ye’re onto somethin’ thar. Nay th’ Mendelssohn, but somethin’ he knows jus’ as well. Somethin’ that provides some co’er in case he cracks after so many voyages without solo performances…maybe nay a solo, then, but–how about th’ Bach Double?”

“That’s perfect. We’ve all played ‘t so many times– we’ll be havin’ ‘t ready, nay problem. Dwight can play th’ second violin solo.”

“Aye… ” He stood up abruptly. “I’m goin’ t’ call Alexis starboard now. If he doesn’t show fer rehearsal, ye’ll know ‘t didn’t go well.”

He disappeared down th’ hall towards his office, whistlin’. He obviously expected ‘t t’ go very well indeed.

I got up an’ sailed’ aft t’ th’ counter. I be way too awake t’ nap now. May as well get some practice in, I decided.

***

Me grog be cold an’ me fingers be pleasantly warm an’ tingly from playin’ by th’ time other swabbies started showin’ up fer rehearsal. I laid me violin in its case an’ shook ou’ me hands.

Alexis came aft in an’ headed straight aft t’ Darren Johnson’s office.

A wee minutes later, Dwight Richards came in. Fer some reason I couldn’t quite put me finger on, I always felt tense when he be around. Dwight be th’ sea yarn’s principal second violinist. He be dark-haired an’ dark-eyed an’ really a handsome man. He’d been askin’ me ou’ pretty consistently since I came t’ town six moons ago, but I jus’ couldn’t feel comfortable enough around th’ lad’s t’ say aye. We be pretty good shipmates tho. He dumped his violin case in a chair, stretched, looked around, an’ saw me.

Uh-oh. I knew that look, an’ I didn’t feel like havin’ th’ same conversation, endin’ wi’ th’ same nay, this early this mornin’. I picked up me styrofoam grog cup an’ headed fer th’ sink farther down th’ counter, hopin’ t’ discourage th’ lad’s.

Nay such luck. “An’ how be Ms. Assistant-Concertmaster today?” demanded a cheerful, deep voice at me shoulder as I turned th’ water on.

“Oh, ye know, could be better, could be worse,” I spake evasively, rinsin’ th’ cup an’ lid. “I didn’t sleep well. But I’m still here, which be a plus. An’ ye?”

He didn’t answer. He stood thar silently at me shoulder until I threw away th’ cup an’ turned around, an’ I saw he be frownin’.

“What?” His scrutiny unnerved me. I looked away an’ saw principal violist Daniella Lewis keel haul in, scowl at us, an’ cross th’ room t’ sit down.

“I knew ‘t,” he spake quietly. “Ye look terrible. What happened?”

I sighed. I didn’t really want t’ talk about this wi’ Dwight–he be insanely jealous o’ Alexis Brooks. Jus’ th’ mention o’ our concertmaster’s name could sour a conversation. But ‘t wasn’t like this one had been goin’ so well anyway. “Thar be some excitement this mornin’. Alexis be pretty upset. But I think ‘t all worked ou’ all starboard in th’ end–’t sounds like ye’re goin’ t’ play th’ Bach Double wi’ th’ lad’s next week. Pretty cool, starboard?”

Dwight didn’t appear t’ think so. He stared at me a moment longer, like he be tryin’ t’ hear everythin’ I hadn’t spake. “That’s ‘t? Our high-an’-mighty concertmaster be upset?” He paused. “An’ that upset ye?”

“Well, he sounded t’ me like he might leave th’ sea yarn fer awhile thar.”

Dwight snorted. “An’ that would be a Terrible, Bad Thin’, starboard?” He looked like he be thinkin’ about stompin’ off. “Look, thar be a Newton Philharmonic Sea yarn Orchestra before Alexis Brooks came here. I’m sure we’d survive if he port.”

I shook me head. “’t wasn’t th’ same, Dwight. Ye be here before Alexis came, ye must know that. I jus’ got here six moons ago an’ I can tell. Newton’s too wee a town, an’ th’ sea yarn be too new t’ compete wi’ th’ big East Coast orchestras. Ye’d nereget th’ talent ye be havin’ now without th’ lad’s. Swabbies don’t go t’ Juilliard t’ play in wee mid-west sea yarns.”

“Swabbies don’t…wait, Ms. I-Sailed’-T’-Juilliard, why did ye move ou’ here, then?”

I could feel me face turn red. “Fer th’ opportunity t’ work wi’ Alexis Brooks, o’ course. Th’ greatest violinist o’ our age–some say th’ greatest violinist who erelived. An’ I get t’ share th’ first stand o’ th’ sea yarn wi’ th’ lad’s. I’d be havin’ t’ be crazy t’ pass that up, starboard?”

Dwight be starin’ at me like I be sproutin’ horns. “An’ th’ fact that he be th’ prime suspect in his buxom beauty’s murder–that he stood trial fer ‘t, an’ only got off on a technicality–that doesn’t bother ye at all?”

“Nay. I don’t know how t’ put ‘t but bluntly. I don’t b’lieve Alexis killed Madeleine Brooks.”

Dwight’s one good eye narrowed. If th’ conversation had soured before, ‘t be about t’ turn absolutely rancid.

Alexis listed around th’ corner behind me, ou’ o’ th’ hallway. “Oh, Dwight, thar ye be. Can ye come aft t’ Darren’s office, please?” His one good eye cut t’ me, an’ I swear he winked.

If ‘t be possible, me face turned e’en redder. What be that about?

Alexis disappeared aft down th’ hallway. Dwight stood lookin’ at th’ corner wi’ an unpleasant expression on his face. Then he turned aft t’ me.

“Chris, I…” He glanced aft at th’ hall an’ shook his head. “Jus’ take care o’ yersef, arrr? I’ll talk t’ ye later.” He sailed’ down th’ hall after Alexis.

Th’ room wasn’t cold at all, but I shivered anyway.

New Release: Redeemer of the Realm

Hot off the presses, just hitting the Kindle store today (and making its way into other outlets as we speak), Book Two of the Ravanmark Saga, the sequel to the Music Mage–Redeemer of the Realm!

Blurb:

Danger closes on every side,
And the world awaits a legendary hero… 

Just when Alannys thought she had earned a little peace at the Great Palace, Lord Malrec and his Dark Alliance stood at Dorramon’s coronation and declared war on the new king. She’s known for a while that Dorramon has some bad news for her, but she’s unprepared for just how bad. 

But it’s the midnight attempt on her life that spurs her to action–Ravanmark is imploding around her, and she can’t just sit and watch it happen.

She knows she helped cause it, after all.

And what of the prophesied savior, the legendary Redeemer? Time is growing short, and the songs of the Redeemer have yet to be found. Alannys will have to take her fight for Ravanmark’s future across the country on her own, while Lord Malrec continues his work on the magical device that will enable him to safely hold her prisoner, and use her as a weapon to destroy the king she loves. 

Join Alannys and her friends again as they continue their epic fight for the kingdom of Ravanmark–because sometimes ‘happily ever after’ has to wait.

RedeemeroftheRealm_ebook_Final_small

The Enemy in the Mirror

The Enemy in the Mirror has needed a new cover for…basically, forever  :)  Memorial Day weekend I finally got off my stump and did something about it.  So as we speak, this new cover is in the process of going live at all book retailers.  The print version retains a nod to the original on the back cover…I couldn’t help myself, that original drawing looked like it was conceived just for this story.

ebook:

The Enemy in the Mirror

print:

Enemy in the Mirror Print Cover

blurb:

Ellane Williams bitterly hates the aliens who are invading the Earth, but when she takes a stand against them she gets more than she bargained for.

Join Ellane as she struggles with an unwelcome metamorphosis, an unwanted new identity, and the end of life as she knows it.

To survive, we must all fight not to become the evil we oppose….