I’d like to welcome Ann Gimpel to my blog today as a stop of her Bewitching Book Tour.
What first got you interested in writing? What has kept you doing it?
I’ve been writing all my life. In high school it was poetry. In college it was papers—lots of them because I spent years in college. Out in the work force it was grants, projects, reports, etc. I’ve always loved fiction and have always read a lot. I also spend as much time as I can in the backcountry with a pack on my back. Most of that time is “alone” time. Stories always ran around in my head while on backcountry trips. About four years ago, I decided to do something about that and came home, sat down at the keyboard and started writing. I haven’t stopped!
Do you have the support of your family and friends? Has that support always been there, or has it changed since being published?
Absolutely. The support hasn’t changed a bit from before I was published to now.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Strangest habit? Is there anything you have to do before you start writing?
Well, when I’m in the midst of something, all the characters run around in my mind telling me what they plan to do next. We have fascinating conversations where I tell them, “It’s not in the plot.” And they tell me their ideas are far better than mine! Oftentimes, they’re correct. There’s nothing particular I have to do before I start writing, but I do much better when I’m fresh. I can edit when I’m exhausted, but I can’t write very well then.
What advice would you give to a new writer?
Develop a thick skin. I’ve learned more from brutal critiques of my work than from anything else. Psyche’s Prophecy began as a Book In A Week writing project for my online writer’s group. Of course I didn’t finish it in a week; but I did get the first 50,000 words together—well, sort of. It was totally shredded by two group members. After I stopped crying, I realized they’d made excellent points, so I started rewriting.
Find people who will be honest with you to read your stuff. Plan on lots of rewrites. Spend way more time editing than you do writing. And try not to personalize the rejections. Because you’ll get them. Lots of them. It’s all part of the process.
What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
When my first novel—not Psyche’s Prophecy—got rejected over and over again. Fortunately I had very good friends who urged me to keep writing. Since it’s not my “first career” (psychology is) I was ready to decide writing had been an experiment that hadn’t worked out very well. One special friend in Europe suggested I try my hand at short stories. Three months after turning out my first short story, I had my first publication. They’ve come around regularly since then. But I still get my share of rejections, too. Just because I’ve published a fair amount, I am far from immune to getting that email that says, “Sorry, this one’s not for us.”
Has a reader ever complimented you on your writing? What was the best thing you ever heard, and who told it to you?
Oh, that’s easy. Kim McDougall from Blazing Trailers creates the trailers for my books. Unbeknownst to me, she read both Prophecy and Search. Then she sent me an email begging me to finish the third book. And she put a five star review on Amazon. Because she’s a multi-published author herself, her compliments really made me feel good.
What are you working on now? Could you give us a little taste?
Psyche’s Promise, last book of the Transformation Series is done and due out this July.
I just finished a YA contemporary fantasy, titled Fortune’s Scion. It’s set in a dystopian near future. So far two publishers have requested the full manuscript, so I’m cautiously optimistic it will find a home soon. An excerpt follows:
Ned crouched amidst the remains of what had been downtown Sacramento, using a convenient half-decimated building as cover. The rest of his unit was scattered—or he assumed they were—in close proximity. Low whistling that signified the release of magic caught at the periphery of his hearing. Maintaining his crouch, he spun, eyes searching the late afternoon gloom for clues. Not sure quite what tipped him off, and with seconds to spare, he leapt out of the way as a concrete block exploded, showering him with debris.
“Whew! Way too close,” he breathed, wondering for the thousandth time how he, a human mage, had gotten mixed up with the wizards’ war. Sweat trickled down his forehead. His leather headband caught some of it, but a few drops fell into his eyes where they stung fiercely. As he shook his head to try to disperse the salty liquid, Ned felt the beginnings of a headache throbbing behind one temple. “Landarik,” he whispered into his mouthpiece, “Where are you?”
“Right behind you.” A voice dripped sarcasm into Ned’s ear.
As he whipped around, Ned’s braids slapped against Landarik’s helmet. “I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Ned muttered angrily. “I hate it when you sneak up on me. Specially when it could so easily have been one of them.”
“You called me. What did you want?” Speaking through the slit in his bronzed helmet, Landarik looked like a robot. Only his blonde braids with debris tangled in them, ruined the automaton image. Noticing Ned’s stare, Landarik gathered his ratty braids and tossed them back over his shoulders.
“I’m beat. I’m going back to the caves.”
“Mage or no,” Landarik grunted, “you humans are more work than you’re worth. I release you. Back at first light, though.” Whistling sounded again. Without apparent thought or effort, Landarik raised a hand. The bolt of power that flew from his fingertips vaporized half a small building a hundred yards away.
“How can you know so…so precisely?” Ned sputtered.
The wizard tipped up the visor of his helmet. Extraordinarily blue eyes and the sharp-boned features characteristic of his race were twisted in irritation. “I’ve told you and told you,” he lectured in a patronizing voice that grated on Ned’s nerves, “hold your inner parts still, human. If you could manage that, you would be able to hear where the enemy is hiding.” Landarik snorted. “Sometimes I find it difficult to fathom how you are still alive.”
“Uh, thanks,” Ned mumbled. Hastily sketching a rectangular portal in the hot, dusty air, he jumped through into the ways, picturing the wizards’ caves as he did so. The ways had been developed thousands of years ago so wizards could travel to distant locations. Despite little maintenance, their harmonics were so well-matched to galactic magnetics that they were still fully functional. As he sped through the dimension that would carry him to a few hours of safety, Ned started feeling angry. It wasn’t fair for Landarik to expect him to know everything fully vetted wizard warriors did. Most of them were hundreds—if not thousands—of years old, while he was a mere…well, something. Young, anyway. The truth of it was that he wasn’t sure precisely how old he was. Wizards lived so long they didn’t bother keeping those types of records.
Ned didn’t know if it had been fortune, or her opposite, but he’d drawn his first breath in a wizard stronghold. Though he had little memory of his first few years, by the time he was around five, one of the wizard instructors—the acolyte master, Karras—had taken notice of the little human who dragged power after him like other youngsters dragged beloved toys.
He’d been separated from his all-too-human mother after she’d refused to divulge the name of his father; and his lessons in magecraft had begun. “And I suppose,” he grumbled, “they’ve never really stopped.” Despite learning about magic practically before he could read, catching up with the wizards had proven impossible, particularly since they reminded him on a regular basis how inferior he was. Things may well have been different, he reflected, had his teachers been other human mages. Perhaps they would have been more sensitive to his skills and less critical of his efforts. Come to think of it, maybe their teaching style would have been far better suited to his magic which, he’d come to find out, was actually quite different from the wizards’. Exhaling bitterly, Ned closed off that line of thought. While he was sure there had to be other human mages—his father, for example—he’d never actually met one.
Ned sent a part of himself outwards, mostly to assure himself he was still on course. He’d been warned the Infernals might try to sabotage the ways, despite having their own traveling portals. “They’d have to get in here, first,” Ned said, talking aloud again. “And that wouldn’t be easy.” The ways required special spells and an affinity that had to be established by one of the wizards. Without that, they’d simply refuse to open. Ned wished he knew more about other races, like humans for instance. Or elves. All his history lessons had been focused solely on wizards, which made sense since everyone else in his classes had been one. Not surprisingly, he’d felt quite the misfit. Wizards weren’t overly fond of humans and rarely missed an opportunity to pound that home.
The deceleration presaging arrival began, tugging at his midsection. Ned summoned magic to call up a portal, realizing as he did so how weary he was. It must have been forty hours since his last rest. Wizard physiology was different. They could last for five or six days without a break on the battlefield. No matter how hard he tried, Ned had never managed much more than three. Even then, the last hours were such a struggle they were hardly worth it. Ned set his teeth grimly together. Now that he thought about it, he, too, was surprised he was still alive.
His portal glowed invitingly. It was a soft blue, the color of many of his workings. Ned peeled the door back and jumped through, so dead on his feet he could barely keep his eyes open.
The minute he stepped into the flickering torchlight of the hastily excavated cave the wizards were using as a re-supply station, Ned knew something was wrong. Better keep that portal open. It was subtle enough, but he felt the presence of something malevolent in the air currents moving continually through their subterranean quarters. Sibilant swishing from deep in the shadows dragged the last bit of adrenaline into his bloodstream.
A horny snout came into view, accompanied by a hissing shriek as the thing raced out of the darkness right at him. Running on nerves and instinct, Ned didn’t stop to examine what was attacking him. He jumped backwards—body surprisingly nimble given how tapped out he was—sealed off his portal and reversed the spell that had carried him from battlefield. What in the nine hells was in the cave? Ned cleared his mind, calling up the feel of the wrongness that had driven him back into the ways. It hadn’t felt like Infernals. Not exactly. No, it was more like one of the trogs—a cross between trolls and warthogs—that the Infernals kept for pets. It was a safe bet if a trog was in the entry hall of the wizards’ cave, their masters weren’t far distant.
Ned shuddered. He’d fought trogs more than once in this war. Their bite was so poisonous it could practically kill on contact. He recalled his comparative zoology instructor back at the stronghold in the Carpathian Alps teaching them about genetic catastrophes developed in the Infernals’ labs. Trogs were but one of the twisted creatures born from those unnatural experiments. Closing his eyes, Ned could practically see the wall chart with trogs, wargs, the undead… But why bother? He recognized the signs of exhaustion in his mental vacillations. Where can I go? Not back to the battle. I’d be worth about as much as a drowned dragon.
Understanding he’d need to pick a different destination, and fast, if he wanted to grab a couple hours of badly needed sleep, Ned racked his mind, calling up the geography of California. He’d just about decided to head for the Sierra Nevada Mountains—a place Karras had taken him years ago—when he realized he needed to let Landarik know their cave had been breached. Ned didn’t care for the wizards much more than they cared about him; yet they were the only family he’d ever known and he did value the concept of duty. Shaking his head to try to jar himself into more of a wakeful state, Ned bit his lower lip thinking pain might help rouse him. He tasted blood before deciding that ploy wasn’t working.
Gradual slowing meant he was almost there. Crouching low, Ned called up his portal, scanning the countryside with cautious eyes before he stepped out of the ways.
“Landarik,” he hissed through the wizard-crafted communication system still jammed between his ear and his mouth. At least the wizards claimed credit for the device, though Ned had his doubts. Research in the extensive stronghold library had suggested the design had originated with the United States Special Forces.
“I thought you left.” Landarik’s voice echoed in Ned’s ear; though the wizard was somewhere out of sight.
“I did, but…” Using as few words as possible, Ned told the wizard what he’d found in the caves. For a time, all he could hear was harshly drawn breath.
“Thank you for returning to let us know,” Landarik said. In an uncharacteristic burst of empathy, he added, “You must still be tired.”
“Ah, yes, I am. Actually, I was thinking of going into the mountains to sleep for a bit…”
“Wait.” The wizard’s voice was crisp. Used to commanding troops, it echoed in Ned’s headset. “I must confer with the other battle lords. Do not leave before I release you.”
Head bobbing wearily, Ned cast about for a protected spot. He knew Landarik could find him so long as he didn’t use the ways to leave the general vicinity. Sending tendrils of magic outwards, he tried to sense a spot that might be somewhat safe if his heavy lids got the better of him and closed on their own. Try as he might, Ned couldn’t sense any of their enemy close by. Did that mean they’d gone elsewhere? Like the caves? Or did it just mean he was too tired to be sensitive to their presence. Head pounding, eyes like sandpaper, Ned realized he didn’t care. Staggering off to one side of what had likely been a shopping plaza, he wedged himself under the remains of a metal dumpster butted up against a cinderblock wall. An army of rats challenged him for the choice spot under heavy steel. Ned tried reasoning with them. When that failed, he vaporized the biggest one with his stun gun. After than they let him alone.
Taking stock of himself, he saw tattered leather breeches, a scarred leather vest and the tattoos on both his arms that marked him as a warrior. As he tried to stay awake, he remembered the wizards’ arguments about those tattoos. All the warrior wizards had them; but since he wasn’t a wizard, many had been loath to see the symbol of their courage inked onto one who wasn’t of their blood…
Somewhere in the midst of his memories, sleep claimed him. Ned was never sure how long he’d slept; he did know Landarik hadn’t called him since the wizard would have used a louder voice if he didn’t answer. What wakened him was the wind. It was gusting out of everywhere and nowhere, culling up bits of grit and debris that turned into small projectiles tearing at his skin. Scrunching his eyes against the onslaught, Ned forced his logy, sleep-saturated brain to focus.
Should he call Landarik? Surely it must have been quite some time since the wizard told him to wait. The wind worsened, howling as it grabbed at his clothing. Ned’s headache, forgotten while he slept, came back in force. Bellying out from under the dumpster, he looked up. Fear flooded him, driving away the last vestiges of sleep. Green and blue light flickered through the sky, punctuated in places with black. It was as if the world was disintegrating. Had someone managed to get hold of one of the long-since-banned atomic weapons? Remembering how toxic the fallout from them was supposed to be, Ned tried to hold his breath until he could figure things out. It didn’t work very well. In the end, he decided the wrongness felt more like magic than like something manufactured by men.
He didn’t need his mage senses to feel unnatural displacements in the air, or to know it wasn’t wizard magic he was sensing. Curiosity sparred with fear as Ned tried to catalog exactly what was swirling around him. He decided he was being foolish. What mattered now was flight. If he waited, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to summon enough of his own powers to leave.
“Human—” Landarik’s voice was raspy.
“Yes. I’m still here.”
“We are retreating. You must leave.”
“But I can’t go back to the caves,” Ned protested.
“No—” The wizard’s voice was getting weaker. “We have an assignment for you. East of the mountains, there is a woman with power akin to your own. Or she may be part wizard, we are not certain. She is at grave risk. The Infernals already have her children. At least we think they do.”
“What do you want me to do once I find her?” Why can’t I just go back to the wizard stronghold along with the rest of you?
An explosion boomed, loud against his ears. Ned pulled the communications device away from his head, staring mutely at it before settling it back into place. Landarik’s voice, muffled by static, crackled, “Goddess blast it. For once in your sorry life, human, figure something out on your own. I must leave while I still can.”
Adrenaline pounded through Ned as he reached for his magic, only to find it shrinking away by the moment. Panicked, he pulled a weak portal out of the ether, forced it shut behind him and, for the first time in his life, entered the ways without an absolute destination in mind. The geography east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains was immense. Finding a single person in thousands of acres might not be possible. Trying to keep his terror from overwhelming him, Ned called up an image of the one place he’d been to in the Sierra Nevada: Mono Lake.
Shaking from fatigue and fear, he hunkered down, wrapped his arms around his knees and prayed to the goddess to get him out of this one. When he thought about the journey later, he figured he must have passed out because he didn’t remember much until he sensed the deceleration that meant the ways were getting ready to jettison him. Scrambling upright, Ned raised a hand to summon a portal, then hesitated. What would he find?
“By the goddess’s teats, it doesn’t matter,” he growled. “I can’t stay in here forever. I’ll starve.” His belly rumbled and he remembered how long it had been since he’d eaten. As his portal opened—thank the gods his magic wasn’t totally dead—on fading daylight, Ned peered out carefully. Satisfied to find only sagebrush and desert, he stumbled from the ways, feeling the vague release of suction as his gateway vanished.
Once he was out, Ned looked for a spot to spend the night. It had to be safer here than in the midst of the wreckage of California’s central valley. This part of California had been pretty sparsely populated even before oil had run dry and climate change had eroded the polar ice caps. The lack of humanity meant the worst of the squabbling over increasingly scarce resources had been less of an issue here than in more urbanized areas.
Poor planet, he thought, shaking his head. Of course the wizards blamed humans for what had happened. For once, they weren’t far off the mark. It had been humans who’d burned up all the fossil fuels with no foresight their way of life would collapse. Humans had poisoned the seas…and destroyed the rain forests and the ozone layer, sabotaging the atmosphere and making the Earth dangerously warm. “No wonder the wizards hate us so,” Ned muttered as he walked purposefully towards a grove of aspen trees.
He found a feeder stream within the grove, pouring a slender thread of water towards Mono Lake. Dropping his head into the water, Ned drank and drank. It tasted pure and sweet. When he’d drunk his fill, he pulled off his tattered green backpack, dragged out a couple of water skins and filled them.
Almost afraid to test his abilities, Ned reached tentatively within himself to the spot where his power lived. Relief raced through him as he tapped into the rich vein holding his magic. After the vortex that had tried to drain him in the ruins of Sacramento, he’d been scared to try for much more than the trickle he needed to maintain himself in the ways. Feeling whole again, he sent his mage senses outwards in a three hundred sixty degree arc, questing for danger. The only life force he found, aside from small rodents, was his own. Smiling slightly, stiff facial muscles relaxing, Ned settled into the shadows of some overgrown manzanita bushes. He pulled a fur-lined cloak out of his rucksack, arranging it over himself against the chill of the desert night. Next, he set a ward, tucked his pack under his head, stretched out full length and slept the sleep of the truly exhausted.
The sun in his face, and his communications device jabbing the side of his head, brought him around. As he opened his eyes, he saw he wasn’t alone. Sometime during the night, a herd of wild horses had joined him, pushing against the perimeter of his ward. There must have been fifty of them milling about, in every color of the rainbow. Well, the horse rainbow, that is. Ned grinned. For the first time in weeks, he felt truly alive. Loosing his ward to the morning breezes, he yanked the headpiece out of his ear and stuffed it into a pocket. Whistling softly, he called a mare over to him, asked politely, and was gratified when she allowed him to take some of her milk. Working carefully, he coaxed the rich milk into his battered cookpot. When it was full, he lifted the copper pot to his lips, enjoying the creamy texture as it slid down his throat. Once it was empty, he asked for more. Ned was both surprised and pleased when the mare acquiesced. He’d just been readying himself to ask for one more potful when a gangly brown filly nudged at his arm. The worried look on the little horse’s face told Ned he’d already taken far more than his share of the youngster’s breakfast.
Ned bent to gather his few belongings. He toyed with asking the horses if any Infernals skulked close by; but simply watching the carefree way the horse herd played with one another argued against the presence of the wizards’ ancient enemy. Letting his eyes roam about the valley, Ned saw Mono Lake half a mile distant, its blue-green waters reflecting the morning sun. Towards the west, the terrain rose gradually, sagebrush giving way to timber in short order. In the distant recesses of his mind, Ned remembered Mono Lake was a lot like The Great Salt Lake: good for neither drinking, nor bathing.
“Well,” he spoke aloud, startling a yearling horse grazing practically on top of one of his knee-high laced leather boots. “That settles it. I’ll head west towards the mountains. Likely better hunting and perhaps a lake where I can take a bath.”
An inner voice suggested he needed to hurry up, find the woman and return to Landarik and his regiment, but Ned ignored it, realizing as he did so how heartily sick he was of war. It wasn’t a calling for him as it seemed to be for the warrior wizards who ate, breathed and sang battle lore, smiles broad on their faces as they recalled past glories and victories to come. With a final farewell to the horses, Ned shouldered his pack and began walking with the rising sun to his back.
He wasn’t sure how long he’d been moving in a more-or-less straight line, but a forest of evergreens and aspens soon sheltered him from the growing warmth of the day. Berry bushes and an abandoned orchard with late season apples provided nourishment. Insects buzzed. Ned’s hands relaxed out of their customary tightly-held fists. When a chickadee’s song grabbed at his attention, he stopped walking to listen, wondering how long it had been since he’d heard any bird singing. Sadness tugged at him and he understood how lonely and unhappy his life had been.
Get hold of yourself. Most humans are dead. Maybe my life hasn’t been exactly what I’d have wanted, but at least I have one. He didn’t feel much better after the self-imposed lecture; so Ned reached beyond himself into the day. The beauty of a place not yet tainted by Infernals seeped into him, gradually displacing self pity.
He didn’t realize he’d pulled his solar-powered stun gun—used by the wizards when their own powers were waning—from its holster until he saw it in his hand. Saying a hasty prayer to the goddess for the food he was about to take, Ned began hunting in earnest, luring game with his mage senses.
Kneeling to dress two fat rabbits, he spied a small alpine lake through the trees. Ned picked up his bounty and headed towards a rocky beach at one end of it.
Probably best to wash first… I’m safe enough now. But it might not last. He lowered himself into some meadow grasses growing near the water’s edge. Tugging at the sweat-hardened leather of the band he wore around his head, he jimmied the knot loose with difficulty. Dropping the filthy scrap of deer hide into the shallows of the lake, he worked water into it. In time, the leather became supple and Ned laid it in the grass to dry. Next, he went to work on his hair. Done up in the wizard custom, it had been braided close to his skull in tightly woven rows. Unbraiding it took a long time. Mostly the wizards—at least the warrior caste—washed the braids in place without bothering to undo them, since it took another set of hands to get them done up again. Unused to the feel of his hair hanging around his face and cascading down his back to his waist, Ned shook his head briskly. Greasy, dark strands fell in his eyes.
Laying his leather vest, boots and breeches in the grass, he waded into the lake with the rest of his clothes on. They were so filthy he figured he might as well wash them right along with himself. The water was just cold enough to be mildly uncomfortable. Casting a quick spell, he warmed a tight circle close to his body, sighing with pleasure as the water came close to bathing temperature. He dunked his head, grabbed handfuls of sand from the bottom and proceeded to scrub himself. Nubbins of soft whiskers met his fingers as he cleaned his face. Unlike the wizards, it didn’t seem he was destined to ever have a beard to tend.
Reveling in feeling clean, he waded from the pond, stripped off his smallclothes and laid them over nearby tree branches to dry. He could hasten the process with magic, but thought the scraps of cloth might be dry enough once he’d cleaned, cooked and eaten his rabbits. He could almost hear one of his old teachers lecturing, “Never use magic if you don’t have to. It squanders the goddess’s resources unnecessarily.”
Naked, and a bit nervous, he checked for the presence of others—or, goddess forbid, an Infernal—again, but found nothing amiss. Satisfied, he went to work preparing his first real meal in days.
As Ned turned the rabbit meat on green sticks over a small fire, his thoughts sifted through the short years of his life. Not for the first time he wondered what had become of Karras, the acolyte master who first noticed his magic. It had been a sad day when Karras found him in the warren of rooms behind the library to say goodbye.
Stricken to see his one true friend amongst the wizards departing, Ned had asked if he could go, too. The wizard looked sadly at him, dark eyes filled with compassion. “I am not certain I shall return,” he said softly. “Life in the stronghold is not the life for all of us. I find it grates on me after hundreds of years.” The wizard paused before adding, “There are many ways one can fight against Infernals.”
Ned had asked—no, he’d actually begged—Karras to take him along, but the wizard had demurred. “You are not done with your training, lad. ’Twill take a few more years afore you are ready to leave the stronghold. Mayhap…” But then Karras had fallen silent and Ned hadn’t known what his old friend and mentor was about to share with him.
Life at the stronghold had gotten considerably worse after Karras’s departure. Many had talked of forcing Ned to leave. When he actually packed his few clothes one warmish spring day, sick to death of the wizards’ infernal posturing, he found the doors barred. Furious, Ned retreated to his small room above the kitchens, planning to get a length of rope and use one of the many open windows as an escape route. But Hreth, blind seer and one of three wizards of the High Council was waiting for him, white hair cascading about him like a mantle. Turning his greenish, milk-glass eyes towards Ned, the wizard came as close as a wizard could to apologizing, saying something like, “It is not safe beyond these walls. Not for us, nor for thee. We shall not, of course, hold thee against thy will.
Nonetheless, ‘twould be better for all if thou stayed.” Over time, Ned noticed a marginal improvement in how he was treated. More like a bastard stepchild than an actual pariah…
Wiping grease from his fingers in the grass, Ned sighed. Though his memories were bittersweet, at least his belly was full. Landarik flitted through his mind, along with his assignment, but Ned batted the thoughts aside. Things were so much better here than where he’d come from, he didn’t think he’d be able to force himself to go back, no matter how hard he tried. “Duty,” he grumbled. “Duty be damned.” Once he found the woman, he’d have to do something. But that something was pretty vague. Hadn’t Landarik told him to figure things out himself? Maybe he could just take his sweet time hunting for her.
It seemed unlikely the wizards would spare the manpower to come looking for him—or an unknown female, no matter what kind of magic she had. If he was another wizard, they’d move heaven and earth to find him. As things stood, they might be just as happy he was gone. He could almost see the smirk on Landarik’s face and hear him say, “Mayhap we should leave well enough alone.”
Come tomorrow, he’d start walking towards the west again, up into the mountains. If he stumbled across the woman—well, he’d deal with that when it happened. If he never found her, that would suit him just fine. For the first time in his life, Ned felt free. He found he rather liked the sensation.
Tell us about your latest book.
I think I just did! Don’t have a blurb yet for Psyche’s Promise because I haven’t written it yet! (Need to get moving on that.) The blurb for Fortune’s Scion is:
Raised by wizards who never missed an opportunity to remind him of his deficiencies, Ned grows up believing his mage skills are seriously lacking. When the battle lords conscript him at an early age, Ned fears it’s a back-handed way to ensure he sustains an honorable death on the field. A combination of fortune and skill keep him out of harm’s way—for the most part—until the wizards start losing their long battle against the ten dark gods.
Because there’s no one else to go, Ned is sent on an errand to find a mysterious woman with power. Not anxious to return to the wizards, Ned takes his time, but stumbles across the woman anyway while saving her daughter, Amanda. The wizards aren’t the only ones interested in the pair and Ned finds himself in an impossible situation, driven by his commander on one side and darkness on the other. A loner by nature, he’s confused by his feelings for Amanda. When the wizards tell him love will jeopardize his magic, Ned tries to leave. A demon attack where his magic is the only hedge against Amanda’s safety draws him back only to see her abducted by Tantalus, darkest of the wicked gods.
Battling prejudice, dark magic, insidious lies and lack of knowledge about his mage powers—that are really quite different from wizard magic—Ned finds ways to keep going. Against stiff odds, he learns different isn’t necessarily bad.
How can people find out more about you?