By Ann Gimpel
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Release Date: 7/11/13
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Against stiff odds, Ned learns different isn’t necessarily bad and true love has a way of shining through.
Raised by wizards who never missed an opportunity to remind him of his deficiencies, Ned grows up believing his mage skills are seriously lacking. Conscripted at an early age, he fears it’s a back-handed way to ensure he sustains an honorable death in battle.
Battling prejudice, insidious lies and lack of knowledge about his mage powers—which are really quite different from wizard magic—Ned finds ways to keep going. His first mission away from the wizards teaches him he’s stronger and more resourceful than he thought. Against stiff odds, he learns different isn’t necessarily bad and true love has a way of shining through.
Guest Post by Ann Gimpel
Seasons of Change
I’m a four-season gal, myself. I like cold winters, balmy springs where things are coming alive again, and long, languid falls with that crispness in the air that promises winter is just around the corner. The only season I’m not crazy about is summer. I’ve never liked heat much, so thirteen years ago we moved to the mountains. The first few years were great, but the advent of climate change has brought ninety degree days to the High Sierra. I’m not terribly pleased about that, but there’s not much I can do, either. One good thing is that at eight thousand feet elevation where I live, it always cools off at night.
Weather is a potent element in fiction. It can actually be a character in its own right. I’ve written some books where the weather was one of the antagonists. Quite aside from that, there’s something delightful about misty, foggy moorlands. Or rainy, blustery days. Real people have to deal with weather, so story characters should have to as well. It makes the book seem more real, at least to me.
Writing convincingly about weather is a challenge. After all, how many ways can you describe a blizzard? It turns out, there are a whole bunch of them. And what a wonderful opportunity to show the reader watery eyes, shivers, frosty whiskers, and half-frozen fingers and toes. It’s impossible to write a whole book from a “show” perspective, plus it would be exhausting to read. But there are tricks that can make a manuscript come alive to a reader’s senses. Weather is one of them. Smell is another. The world smells different after a winter rain than it does after a gentle spring shower. Writers who pay attention to their surroundings come up with the best descriptions of how their characters react to elements in their environments. Maybe it’s clichéd, but Margaret Mitchell’s description of Atlanta burning in Gone With the Wind is amazing. I could almost smell the smoke reading it as a thirteen year old long after lights-out by flashlight under the covers.
I’m not quite old enough to remember when families gathered around the radio, because TV either hadn’t been invented, or was in its infancy. I have, however, listened to some old radio programs like Mystery Theater. Radio used a lot of sound effects, many of them weather-related. There was the patter of rain, the whoosh of wind, and people huffing and puffing against a storm in progress.
How about you? What’s your favorite season and why would you pick that one? Do you have a favorite book where the weather played a significant role?
Ned crouched amidst the remains of what had been downtown Sacramento, using a convenient half-decimated building as cover. The rest of his unit hid scattered -- or so he assumed -- in close proximity. A low whistling noise made his heart beat like a mad thing. Enemy magic. Maintaining his crouch, he spun, eyes searching the late afternoon gloom for clues. Not quite sure what tipped him off, he leapt out of the way. A concrete block exploded, showering him with debris.
"Whew! Way too close," he mumbled, wondering for the thousandth time how he, a human mage, ever became 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. They stung. He shook his head to disperse the salty liquid. The beginnings of a headache throbbed behind one temple. "Landarik," he whispered into his mouthpiece, "Where are you?"
"Right behind you." A voice dripped sarcasm into Ned's ear.
He whipped around. Landarik stood so close, Ned's braids slapped against the wizard's helmet. "I wish you wouldn't do that," Ned said through clenched teeth. "I hate it when you sneak up on me. 'Specially when it could have been one of them. You're lucky I didn't blast you."
"You called me. What do you want?" Speaking through the slit in his bronzed helmet, Landarik looked like a robot. Only his blond braids, with debris tangled in them, ruined the automaton image. He must have noticed Ned's stare because Landarik gathered his ratty braids and tossed them over his shoulders.
"I'm beat. Request permission to return to the caves."
"Mage or no," Landarik grunted, "you humans are more work than you're worth. I release you. Be back no later than first light." Whistling sounded again. Without apparent thought or effort, Landarik raised a hand. A bolt of power flew from his fingertips and vaporized half a small building a hundred yards away.
"How can you know so... precisely?" Ned sputtered.
The wizard tipped the visor of his helmet up. Extraordinary blue eyes and the sharp-boned features characteristic of his race 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 yourself better, you would be able to hear where the enemy is hiding." He snorted. "Sometimes I find it difficult to fathom how you are still alive."
About the Author
Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Several paranormal romance novellas are available in e-format. Three novels, Psyche’s Prophecy, Psyche’s Search, and Psyche's Promise are small press publications available in e-format and paperback. Look for two more urban fantasy novels coming this summer and fall: Fortune’s Scion and Earth’s Requiem.
A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.
@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)