Friday, August 30, 2019

Still only 99 cents

Just a brief reminder that, as I push the second Dragon Speech book, Dragon Scales, through formatting and publication, The Language of the Dragon is still available for just 99 cents - or free, if you've got Kindle Unlimited. I think both books are fun, but you'll have more fun if you read them in sequence. So why not pick up The Language of the Dragon for light reading over the Labor Day weekend, and look forward to reading the sequel next week? Here's one more snippet from the first book to whet your appetite:


This language was definitely not Indo-European.
Nor was it Pashto, Uyghur, Kazakh, or any of the other languages common in Central Asia. I didn’t actually know those languages, but I could recognize them.
And it was barely even pronounceable.
“Q!z – girl,” I muttered. The string of phonetic symbols identified with “!” suggested something like a glottal stop followed by a hacking cough.
“Vlaad – becomes, is becoming.” Okay, at least that sounded like a real word.
“Bakhsh# - contented.” The hash mark meant… huh, he’d written it out, evidently despairing of phonetic symbolism. “Rocks clashing.” How the hell were you supposed to use soft human organs to make a sound like rocks clashing? I
gave it the old college try anyway, and felt idiotically pleased with my results. Heck, there was enough here for a complete sentence! I tried it out: “Q!x vlaad bakhsh#.”
A cloud must have passed over the sun just then; for a moment there seemed to be less light than before, and I felt as though gravity was swooping around wildly and pulling my bones in different directions. But despite that moment of disorientation, my stab at pronouncing the mystery language didn’t sound so bad – and apart from a sudden shooting pain above my right eyebrow, I didn’t feel so bad either. In fact, I felt quite gloriously contented with my lot on this earth, right down to my place on this shady deck overlooking the lake. I looked up into a deep blue cloudless sky, feeling as though I could float right up into it – if the sound of an arriving car hadn’t distracted me. Here, just to make my cup overflow, were the Stevensons at last. I dry-crunched some aspirin and headed down the curving stone steps from the deck to meet them at their car.
I began to feel somewhat less contented as I walked them through the house. Part of the problem was that small but persistent headache, which made it hard to concentrate on exactly where we were. I’m pretty sure we cycled through one suite of rooms and halls and outer decks two and a half times before I caught on and concentrated on going up the spiral staircase to the next level.
A larger problem, though, was that my loyal ex-student was looking less and less happy. Angie squealed (piercingly) with delight at each wacky architectural feature, and exclaimed at intervals that nobody they knew had anything like this house (doubtless true: I don’t think anybody else had given the architect-developer any money to play with after they saw this place). She even, engagingly, found parallels with Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture in the strangest bits of the house.
Trouble was, Bruce was the one with the family money. And the ambition. He’d achieved tenure in record time, and now he wanted a house that would position him as the obvious successor to the current chairman of the mining engineering department. As we made our way from porthole windows to spiral stairs to cantilevered decks I could practically see him thinking that a listed historical building in West Austin would fit his desired image better than this display of modern architecture running amok.
Which it probably would, but I didn’t have a listed historical mansion to show him. What I had was this house, and a growing hunger for the commission on this sale and its effect on my bank account.
I can’t think why I even tried it. I blame the headache, which aspirin had barely blunted, and the extreme effort of concentration required to keep in mind where we were in the sprawling house. I just didn’t have any mental energy left to tamp down my wild fantasies about how to make Bruce happy with the Harris house.
When he pulled Angie out onto a deck with a murmured apology, I didn’t have to eavesdrop to guess at the substance of the conversation. This was the place where Sensible Hubby reads the riot act to Exhilarated Wife, and I could almost hear that nice, fat commission taking wings and fluttering off to land in somebody else’s wallet. I would probably never again have clients who could afford a place like this.
That was when I pulled the notebook out of my tote bag, flipped it open and skimmed down the page I’d been reading.
Bummer – there were no words meaning “disgustingly rich clients” that I could shoehorn into that little sentence.
Oh, well, what difference did it make? I was trying to use magic, and since there’s no such thing as magic, I could make up my own rules. There was a word for “and”.
“Bruce dva Angie vlaad bakhsh#.”
The room darkened as though the lights were failing. I had the momentary illusion of being on a roller coaster or inside a gyroscope, with gravity pulling at me from crazy angles. The little needle of pain over my right eyebrow turned into a huge lance aimed right at the back of my eyeball. I groaned involuntarily and bent over for a moment, cupping a hand over my eye.
“Sienna, are you all right?” They were back inside already.
Eins, zwei, drei…“Never better,” I lied, forcing a smile. The headache had obviously settled in to torture me for the rest of the day, and now I was going to have to act happy with their decision to do something sensible instead of buying Whitney Harris’s white elephant. The girl was definitely no longer contented.
They were smiling too. Both of them.
“Bruce had his doubts, but I’ve convinced him that this is too good an opportunity to miss,” Angie announced buoyantly.
“Yes, well, I certainly understand…” I actually started the little speech I’d been working on, in which I pretended to be a good sport who didn’t want them to buy anything they might be unhappy with, before it dawned on me that Angie wasn’t saying what I’d been braced for. “I’m sorry, what?” Maybe the pain of this sudden migraine attack was making me hallucinate.
“We’d like you to convey our offer to the seller,” Bruce said.
He and Angie looked completely, gloriously contented with their decision.
I wasn’t.
The girl was scared stiff.

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