I've included two first pages here; one from the Prologue and one from Chapter 1. I like the Prologue because it gives backstory and sends the book right into action, but I also like Chapter 1 because it gives setting and tone better than the Prologue. All this to say I couldn't decide what to give you, so you get both! Poor things! CSOT is completed and has had about twenty-two drafts in the last few years. It's a planned series, so I've started the second book and after about fifty pages in, I've decided to work on Courtesy and Patience for now. But all six books in the Sands of Tyne series (or maybe Arisean Chronicles?) are planned and outlined. They are so fun to write that I can't wait to get to all of them. Each book has a different point of view, though all still third person, with Cierra the focus in the first, Saige (the adopted brother) the second, Jewelea (the adopted sister) in the third, Maia (the adopted cousin) the fourth, Cierra in the fifth, and Saige in the sixth.
THE FIRST PAGES:
Rande Braelilen hoped he could hide his family in the obscure, foothill town of Savantah. Of all the countries in Arisea to choose, Conoblis was the least likely Ghaul would suspect. No Ibiri-navoo had ventured into the area for hundreds of years. The Talents of the Old Country were distrusted by the locals and any wielder desperate enough to live there would constantly be looking over their shoulder, fearful of discovery and death. But Rande was afraid anyway and looking over his shoulder was instinctive. Or at least looking any direction Ghaul and his relentless revenge could attack from.
Rande and his family had been safe for a few months, cocooned in anonymity. They rarely associated with their neighbors, avoiding the inevitable questions and suspicions. But today that all changed; his neighbors were taking an interest, wondering why a bald, broad-shouldered stranger had come around town asking about him. The Savantah Constable, sensing there was something disturbing about the man, politely asked the stranger to leave. The stranger did, but Rande knew he would be back even if the Constable naïvely thought he was gone for good. Rande would have left at that very moment, but Erinn was too ill to depart. And he would not leave her or their daughter.
A figure stepped out of the shadows. Rande held his breath, ready to fight. Then he recognized the silhouette.
“Errin,” he cried, “I thought you promised to stay hidden with the baby.”
Chapter 1. The Ranch
The Wind Valley was appropriately named. In the spring the northern winds brought dust so thick that sometimes Cierra Braelilen thought the sky rained earth. In the summer, the southerly wind blew a heat haze that stifled the lungs and dazed the senses. Winter was no better. Ice and snow spewed into the valley vertically, chaffing cheeks and piercing exposed skin. Even the plants avoided the wind. The sagebrush, saltbrush, and bunch grasses fortified themselves against it, burrowing deep into the soil and allowing the dirt to bank up around their stalks and trunks.
Yet now it was almost fall. And fall really was the only bearable season for any living creature. The gusts died down to a subtle breeze born in the Kendi Mountains to the west, there transfused with the unmistakable scent of pine. The Wind Valley became transformed by vibrant days, crisp, cool twilights, and drowsy, thoughtful nights. Neveah, the Arisean sun, shone through without a ripple or vapor, while at night a billion stars glared through a faultlessly black sky. It was beautiful. And if Cierra had ever been anywhere else, she would have known that one pleasant season was worth enduring three tumultuous ones.
But Cierra had never been anywhere else. She had lived her entire fourteen years in Wind Valley and the neighboring small town of Savantah. For more than four of those years now she was an unwilling guest at Oldman and Son Youth Ranch—a large, functioning farm for dysfunctional orphans. The Ranch specialized in the rehabilitation of troubled youth by working them every waking hour; weeding, sowing, plowing, moving cattle, grooming horses, plucking chickens, mucking stalls, and so on. There was always a chore to do and never a moment to cause trouble.