The official date, time, and place has now been set for the launch party for High Maga:
Saturday April 12th
Avila University Campus
11901 Wornall Road
Kansas City, MO 64145
The event will start at 5pm and end at 7pm, or when we run out of cake, whichever comes first. (After the cake runs out, we are likely to proceed to the nearest pub.) I’ll post an announcement in the side bar of the blog soon, but please mark your calendars. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you at the party. The event is free and open to the public, and books will be available for purchase and signing.
Of course, April 12th is a full eight days after the official launch date. If you can’t wait a week to get your copy, don’t worry! The book will be available through Amazon starting April 4th. Also, next week I will start a Goodreads Giveaway for High Maga, giving you a chance to win a free signed copy. (If you haven’t entered the giveaway for Eolyn, now is your last chance! That giveaway ends on March 4th.)
My editor Eric T. Reynolds has been released from intensive care at the hospital and moved to a rehabilitation center closer to home. We are all really happy with the progress he is starting to make, and look forward to his continued recovery.
Heather McDougal is just about done with the full cover design for the paperback edition of High Maga, so this time next week you may get to see it. The cover is magnificent. I am not exaggerating. I could not be more pleased with how the front and back cover art have come together, and I cannot wait to share it with you.
Sometime in the coming weeks, I will also post a full preview of the first three chapters of High Maga. So stay tuned for that!
Speaking of previews, onto our feature for this week. Last Friday, you met Eolyn’s sisters in magic, Adiana and Renate. Today you get to join them for an evening of wine and friendship. This is one of my favorite scenes; it is light-hearted, gossipy, and full of charm, without undermining the deeper conflicts that plague Renate, who tells this part of the story. Enjoy, and thank you, once again, for accompanying me during the countdown to High Maga.
Chapter 11 (Excerpt)
“I speak in earnest, Renate.” Adiana’s words were slurred by drink. “Borten would be an excellent suitor for Eolyn. He’s good man, a considerate lover—”
Wine escaped Renate’s lips in a sputtering laugh. “How would you know Borten’s a considerate lover?”
Adiana shrugged. “I can see it in his face.”
Renate let go a high pitched cackle and shook her head. “See it in his face? I’ll wager you’ve seen more than his face. You’ve been restless as a lynx in heat since Eostar.”
Adiana gave a mock cry of protest and struck Renate playfully on the shoulder. “How dare you! One does not have to be a maga to see into the hearts of men. I learned a few things working the taverns in Selkynsen, you know. I can read a man as surely as Eolyn reads her books.”
“As surely as Eolyn reads her books in bed,” Renate replied in crisp tones.
Adiana flopped back on the blanket with an indignant harrumph. They had settled in the courtyard for an evening of wine and companionship, after having tucked the girls into bed. Days had passed since Eolyn departed for the South Woods, and the week would likely see its end before she returned.
“And you accuse me of inventing stories and gossip!” Adiana complained. “Even if I had ‘read Borten in bed’, what would it matter? The magas always had untamed teachings with respect to that sort of thing. Isn’t aen-lasati the source of a woman’s greatest magic? I swear to the Gods, Renate, sometimes you seem too much of a prude to be a maga.”
A prude. Renate rolled the word over her tongue as she swirled the wine in her cup. Yes, that’s what she was. Tight inside, dry as autumn leaves underfoot. Forever bound by the failures and disillusions of her past. “The Magas of the Old Orders were disciplined women, not harlots at a summer festival. To lay claim to their understanding of aen-lasati while ignoring all their other teachings does their memory a disservice. It’s precisely that sort of myth that led us to the pyres in the first place.”
“Oh, Renate.” Adiana groaned, sat up, and reached for the wine skin. “Why must you take everything so seriously? It’s finished, remember? The war, the purges, the rebellion, the prohibition. We’re free now. The magas have been restored to their rightful place in Moisehén. We’ve got a proper Aekelahr, aspiring young magas, the protection of the Mage King, and a nice little regiment of handsome guards. Even you could have some fun, you know.”
The thought of her tired old body wrapped around one of the King’s men made Renate giggle until the giddiness shook her ribs and broke upon her lips.
“That’s the spirit!” said Adiana. “Here, have some more wine. And tell me, which one of the guards do you like the most?”
“Oh, for the love of the Gods, Adiana!” Renate was laughing uncontrollably now, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I am an old woman.”
“Age is meaningless for a true maga. That’s what Eolyn says.” Adiana rested her head on Renate’s shoulder.
The older woman returned her warm embrace, inhaling the sweet smells of night mingled with Adiana’s vibrant aroma, of primrose and summer winds, of the riverside city that had once been her home. She envied her friend in that moment, not so much for her youth and beauty, but for her continued faith in the possibility that anything could be finished. Someday time and experience would break that faith. Desire and loss, terror and death, treachery and abandonment, all of it stayed with a person until the end of her days, animating the shadows at night, invading dreams, stealing away tranquility in the lonely hours before dawn.
Adiana gave a happy sigh and lifted her cup to the sky. “I love this moment, when the wine makes the stars shine brighter than ever. Gods bless the vineyards of Selkynsen!”