Archive for May, 2014

Fantasy novels often have maps at the beginning. Sometimes, even if the map doesn’t make it into the final, published book, the author draws one out for reference as part of the world building.

I figured out how to include a map in my ebooks with THE BARD’S GIFT.


It’s not hard. It’s just another step. But it also involves making sure that the illustration (which is what a map is, when you come right down to it) is sized correctly and actually will be readable on at least most readers. (If you’re reading on your smart phone, you’re on your own.)

But, let’s be honest. THE BARD’S GIFT is an historical fantasy. I didn’t have to start from scratch with that map.

Now, I also have a map for the world of the DUAL MAGICS series. But it’s a hand-scribbled-for-my-reference kind of map. Don’t laugh.

Dual Magics MapYeah. That one’s not going to make it into the book.

I’d kind of like to include a map, though. There is software out there, mostly written for rpg gamers, that will make more professional looking maps. There are two problems with that, though.

The first, of course, is price. I need to decide if it’s really worth it on top of the other expenses. Over the course of the whole series, it might be. Plus, I have other stories, like DREAMER’S ROSE, that also have hand-scribbled maps.

There’s also the question of whether the story really needs it. Beta readers of THE BARD’S GIFT expressed a wish for a map. Beta readers of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE never mentioned it. (Neither actually had a map when they read the stories.) So, maybe it’s not such a big deal.

The second problem is the learning curve. If I started today, it would still likely delay publication of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE just to produce something that didn’t look completely amateurish. But one of the great things about ebooks is that you can go back and upload a newer version. Some retailers, like Amazon and Smashwords, even allow customers to download newer versions for free. So, I could go back and add the map when I finally have one that I think looks good enough to publish.

Maybe I’ll have a map–and an updated version of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE–when I publish the sequel, THE IGNORED PROPHECY.

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So, this week and probably next, I’m concentrating on getting through what will hopefully be the final edits/revisions to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. I want to get this formatted and ready to go for a July (or possibly August) launch. Having it ready early will allow me to do something in the right order for a change–actually send out advance review copies so the reviews can hit at around the time of the launch.

I’ve made good progress this week. I deleted four whole chapters. And I have my eye on two more that might very well get the axe, too. I always felt that the first third to maybe half of TSC was a bit too slow, a little too distanced from the central conflict. (I physically separate my MC from the antagonist as his first try/fail cycle, so this is at least somewhat inevitable, but that doesn’t mean things have to be drawn out.)

Some important things happen in that section. But there were a few other chapters that were establishing things for later. The thing is, despite the common advice “Show, don’t tell”, you don’t actually have to show everything. In fact, you shouldn’t. Some things can and should be told. In this case, it’s going to do more for the pacing of the story than the scenes/chapters did for set up. And I can still put in a paragraph or so to provide the necessary set up–just somewhere else.

But, the thing is, just a couple of months ago, I couldn’t see that. I needed the critiques that pointed out that some things didn’t seem to really move the story forward. And I needed the time to get enough distance from the story to see what those scenes were.

Sometimes, progress actually means deleting portions of your story, but it takes some distance from it to be able to see that. And those deleted scenes/chapters? Expect to see them during the launch.

Oh, and I think I’m finally making progress toward cover art for this series. There may be a cover reveal before too long.

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Today, I’m hosting Robert Flores IV as part of his blog tour for his latest book BROKEN TRUST.

Time Management and the Writer

Broken Trust marks my third novel in as many years. For me, that seems to be behind schedule. But many of my author friends tell me I am fast. Especially when they consider that I put out a magazine every two months in addition to working and having a family life.

I am not the best with time management, especially if I log into Facebook or Twitter. I was supposed to write this blog post first thing when I woke up. It is now almost 12:30 and I am just getting started. First I had to start the Laundry, then my sister called, then I had to do more laundry. Then the little one wanted his lunch, and then I had to eat. Next came the emails. And now, finally I am writing this post.

The truth is, if I wrote as much as I told myself I would write then I would find myself publishing two or three novels a year. But the fact remains that writing isn’t my only obligation each day. And, even if being an author was my full time job, there is so much more that goes into being an author than just writing.

You have to set up priorities for your time. And recently I took things a step further and started a schedule for myself. It got me thinking that maybe I should share with everyone how I set priorities and plan my days.

Priority number one is my family and my kids. They are still young, and while mostly independent they still need me for some things. So, weekends and weekdays after 3pm are very hard for me to get much done with writing or editing. When all three kids are home, I just can’t get much done. So I have marked that time off for them.

Of course, I have bills to pay and writing doesn’t pay those. So I do have to work. Right now, I don’t have a regular job. But I am working a summer job and when I am working, I can’t be writing. Though you can be assured that I spend a lot of time thinking about what I will write next while I am at work.

Next, I have to pencil in time for my second job of being a writer and editor. Right now that is limited to Monday-Friday until 3pm when I am not working. Eventually, when I have a laptop again, I will be able to expand this some.

But, I have to get more specific with this time. So often I find myself working on one task, then bouncing to another task. Then back to another one. And what eventually happens is that nothing gets done. So I am going one step further.

I have two main tasks to work on when I am not working or spending family time. The first is Plasma Frequency, my bi-monthly magazine of Speculative Fiction. Now, you might assume that doesn’t take much time. But you would be assuming wrong. It takes so much time that I often get overwhelmed with it all, even with my great team helping out. I have to read a lot of short stories, edit, format, write contracts, and handle payments for authors. Not to mention getting artists and business aspects together.

Then, I need to write. I have to blog, write my novels, and keep my website up to date. But, I also need to market my writing, keep in touch on social media with my fans, and format my books for publication.

So how do I manage this? I do it with weekly schedules for myself. I break down the week into hourly chunks and put myself on the clock for the “free time” I use for my writing and editing. I go through and put myself down for Plasma Frequency, or writing. And I get more specific. This day and time will be reading submissions, this block of time for a blog post, this block of time for lunch, and this block for social time.

Do I go over, get off schedule, or just plain throw the schedule out the window? Yes. But not as often as I thought I would when I started this experiment. And, I keep the schedule fluid. Meaning that if I blog when I should have been writing my novel, I’ll write the novel during the blog time. I have to adjust the schedule for my muse. But as long as I keep it fluid, it seems to be working out for me.

Maybe I can even get a second novel out before the end of the year, but don’t hold me to that.


About Broken Trust: Released May 29, 2014

Earth is no longer teeming with human life. After a major mass extinction event, the world is no longer able to function as it once had. Governments have collapsed and those that survived are left to figure out what is next for the human race.

Liam Fisher never wanted to be a leader. But after finding survivors, protecting them, and founding the city-state of Lagoon Hills; the people demanded he be their leader. Instead, Liam agreed to sit on a Council with four other leaders.

Together with Talya Brooks, the person who saved his life after the collapse, Liam runs the militia of Lagoon Hills. And though it was tough early on, the people of the city now live in relative comfort and safety.

But Liam is fighting his own personal demons: The loss of his wife and unborn son. Rachel, a past lover he never really got over, has suddenly arrived at the city gates. And the mounting stress of a neighboring city-state threatening war.

The people of Lagoon Hills are counting on Liam for their safety. Can he keep himself together and be the leader everyone wants him to be? Or will the people closest to him be the greatest threat of all?

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About the Author:

Richard Flores IV is the author of the science fiction novels, Dissolution of Peace, Volition Agent, and Broken Trust.  He is also the Editor-in-Chief of Plasma Frequency, a bimonthly, semi-pro magazine of speculative fiction.  He lives in Auburn, Washington with his wife and three children.  When not writing, he works a day job where he daydreams about writing.  His hobbies include reading, television, video games, blogging, and watching San Jose Sharks hockey. You can find out more about Richard, his writing, and his blog by visiting http://www.floresfactor.com.

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I’m targeting early July (maybe 7/7/14) for the launch of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

For the stories I choose to epublish myself, for whatever reason, I do my own cover art. Most often I use images from Dreamstime, although there are other, similar sources out there. I just usually have better luck finding the kind of images I’m looking for there. And very often, I can find one perfect or nearly perfect image, like the ones I used for FIRE AND EARTH and THE BARD’S GIFT.

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)


Or one that needs just a little additional tweak, like the one I used for BLOOD WILL TELL. (I had to add the dragon.)

Blood Will Tell Cover

But TSC is causing me no end of trouble. It’s not a lack of images, exactly. I have any number of them filed away in my lightbox on Dreamstime. But no one of them is quite exactly right for this story. Or, there’s one that’s pretty close to a scene from my story. If this was a stand-alone novel, I’d probably use that one. But it’s not. TSC is the first book in the DUAL MAGICS series (planned to be four books).

That’s part of the problem. I need to come up with something that will tie the covers of all four books together. Not the same image, necessarily. Though a single common element could work. Or a similar feel.

For the Chimeria series (BLOOD WILL TELL, BLOOD IS THICKER, and, eventually, BLOOD STAINS) I’m using dramatic, magical skies and the same dragon silhouettes.

I haven’t come up with any inspiration quite that simple for this series. Not that will work, anyway.

Of course, I’ve gone to amazon to look at covers of somewhat similar books (sword and sorcery, more or less–although TSC is more spear and sorcery). That’s given me some templates to try to work with. If I can just muster enough skill to make any of them work. So far, that’s also been part of the challenge.

One of the many challenges I’m wrestling with is coming up with some image or combination of images that conveys something about the story while at the same time giving sufficient clues that this is a fantasy story which will involve magic. Not, for example, a western or a historical romance. (One image, which is nearly perfect otherwise, just screams that the title should be something like “How to Tame Your Highlander”.)

I’ve got to come as close to perfection as reasonably possible. The cover is perhaps the most important part of the marketing. I’ll get there eventually.

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Blogging a little bit late today because life got crazy yesterday–and that’s aside from the current heat wave, here. It’s been in the 90’s all week.

Right now, I’m about to wrap up the revisions on MAGIC AND POWER (or whatever title I finally decide on). Strengthening a couple of characters, mostly. There’s one section I still need to trim, but I’m probably going to have to seek some help with that. Someone else will be able to see what’s expendable than I am at this point.

It’ll soon be time to start working on the query and a dreaded synopsis for this one.

Keep your head down. Don’t draw attention. Don’t make waves. Be invisible as much as possible. Above all, don’t make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa has lived by for as long as she can remember. She’s used to that. It just goes with being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king and living next to his more-than-slightly paranoid replacement.

With very few friends and no prospects of marriage, Ailsa focuses her energy on her chance to study at the Institute of Magical Arts. Her great hope is that she’ll prove to have a kind of magic that will enable her to save her homeland from the new king’s restrictive policies toward mages. But nothing is ever that simple for Ailsa. A completely unexpected proposal–from Crown Prince Savyon, no less–threatens to derail all her plans.

Political intrigue, powerful magic, and a handsome study partner with a maddening taste for placing them both at the center of attention force Ailsa to rethink her view of the world. Perhaps the answer isn’t to shrink until she fits in somebody’s pre-arranged slot after all. Maybe she can make her own place–and change the world for the better in the process.

The only question remaining is which of the young men who claim to love her is willing to help her in that battle.

GREEN MAGIC is a 96,000-word young adult fantasy romance and potentially the first of a series.

Thank you for your time.

Except, of course, it’s nearer to 97,000 words and I still have some more to add.

After that, I want to make a final pass through THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, preparing that one for this summer sometime. Then complete a first pass through the rewrite of the sequel, THE IGNORED PROPHECY. (The DUAL MAGICS series.)

And then I have plenty more things in the pipeline after that. The rewrite of DREAMER’S ROSE. First drafts of the sequel to MAGIC AND POWER and the third book in the DUAL MAGICS series (probably to be titled TROUBLED COUNSELS). And there’s still that weird Oz story hanging out on the edges, waiting for me to figure it out.

Yeah, I expect I can keep busy.


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Mom and Me, Picnic

This is my first Mother’s Day without Mom. I miss her, not so much the way she was at the end, when, frankly, she didn’t really know who I was anyway. (Alzheimer’s disease is a far worse villain than anything I can come up with.) I miss her the way we were back in this photo, which is just an ordinary picnic. After Dad retired, they took up the habit of going on picnics once a week, usually on Tuesdays. If the weather didn’t cooperate, they’d still go for a drive and stop to eat somewhere. It didn’t take long before they knew all the best places–indoors or out–within a three-hour drive in any direction. (Well, not west. You can’t drive three hours to the west from here without a boat. ) Whenever I felt I needed a break, I could just throw my name in and join them for a day.

I’m planning to keep myself busy. There’s a lot that needs doing around here and I’m about two-thirds through revisions to MAGIC AND POWER.

Mothers Day Book Bash Banner

Don’t forget the Mother’s Day Book Bash. Nine great books for bargain prices.

And, just to tie the two parts of this post together, Mom was part of the inspiration for Valeriah in the Chimeria series. Not Vallie’s aggressiveness or her fighting prowess, that wasn’t Mom at all. Though, she wasn’t afraid to make her opinion known. No, the part of Valeriah that comes from Mom was the petite ball of fire aspect. Mom was barely five feet tall on a good day, but she sure was a firecracker.

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Here’s a character interview with Valeriah:

Valeriah strides into the room, eyes automatically flicking over everyone present and all possible entrances and exits. She’s petite with bright red hair and a ruddy complexion. Her presence radiates energy that makes her seem bigger than she really is.

Inspection complete, she huffs impatiently. “All right, I suppose we should get this over with.” She takes a moment to organize her thoughts.

“To begin with, all of the magical races of Chimeria can take human form. It’s our lingua franca, the way we can all talk to each other. Of course, once we take human form, there’s more we can do than just talk. Occasionally, interesting hybrids of the races are produced.

“You need to know this because I’m a hybrid. My mother was a werewolf. Now werewolves aren’t what you think over here. Your movies make me laugh. A werewolf isn’t forced to change by the moon. They take wolf form when they choose. Of course, as a hybrid, I’ve never been able to change at all. But I’m still driven by the moon. It’s not a ravening madness, though. It’s more like a manic energy and, of course, a craving for raw meat. Every werewolf has to find a way to deal with the energy the moon brings out in us, the wild blood. Now, I’m not denying that some werewolves get violent at the full moon, especially young males. But most find other ways to cope. Myself, I run. A tired werewolf is a good werewolf, even at the full moon.

“But I’m more than just half werewolf. My father was a hybrid, too. His father was the wizard Azander and his mother was a unicorn, Elsibel. Being a hybrid is never convenient, and it’s downright awkward when the parts of your nature are as opposite as werewolves and unicorns. For example, at the new moon, when my unicorn nature is strongest, I’m a vegetarian. But at the full moon, I prefer very rare red meat.

“Other than the compromises I have to make to balance my nature, I know very little about werewolves or unicorns, so don’t ask me. Grandmother Elsibel was disowned by the unicorns when she married my grandfather. And mother never had a chance to introduce me to the werewolves. Both my parents and my two brothers were murdered when I was five. I was only spared because my father fell on me and the killers didn’t find me. They seemed to be in a hurry and didn’t look too hard. I know they used a portal, because I saw them step out of thin air. But the portal had been closed by the time Grandfather found me.

“That portal is the only clue I have to find those who murdered my family. My werewolf blood won’t let me forget. I have to avenge them. But, after twenty years, the trail has gone cold. Almost impossible even for a werewolf to follow.

“Grandfather refused to tell me what he knew about the portals, so I left to find out for myself as soon as I came of age. I found work as a member of the Portal Watch. We protect Chimeria by preventing people from your ordinary, non-magical world from blundering in and finding out about us. Sometimes, we also act as bodyguards for the members of the Council of Magical Races when they cross over to your world. I get that duty a lot because of the strength, agility, and instincts I inherited from my werewolf mother.

“It’s not easy being a female in the Watch. There are precious few of us. It took a couple of years for me to convince the male members of the Watch that I wasn’t available for the taking. Every now and again, I still have to show a new recruit how I got my reputation. I can take any one of them in a fair fight–and have–often enough to make them respect me. I stay in the Watch because it’s the only way I know to find out more about the portals, and track down whoever killed my family.”

One brave interviewer puts up a hand. “What do you remember about those that killed your family?”

Valeriah’s eyes take on a distracted look as she stares at the far wall. “I remember that they used a portal. The air shimmered in front of Mama and then men stepped out of that shimmer. I’ve had enough experience with portals now to know that’s what that shimmer was. I remember the blood spurting around the sword point coming out of Daddy’s back. There were no screams. It was too quick for that.

“For the rest, it’s hard to know what’s real anymore, after twenty years. I think some of my nightmares have gotten twisted up in it. I think they were all wearing green shirts. I don’t think that came out of the nightmares.

“The portal is my only real clue, though. I have to find out who could make a portal like that and then close it. It’s the only way I have to find the murderers, now.”

“Is it only your werewolf half that feels the need for revenge?” the interviewer follows up. “Does it conflict with other areas of your nature?”

Valeriah shakes her head. “My werewolf blood won’t let me forget about the murders. Especially at the full moon. The blood rage can be overwhelming, then.

“My unicorn side wouldn’t approve, I’m sure, but the werewolf hasn’t given that part of me a vote. My non-werewolf cousin certainly doesn’t approve. But then Cristel is a pacifist. And my grandfather thinks that seeking revenge will get me into trouble. They don’t understand.

“If I can just get the scent, I’m sure I can hunt them to ground.”

“What about scent? Do you remember the murderer’s scents?” another interviewer asks.

Valeriah’s lip twists up in a snarl. “I only remember the smell of my father’s blood and the beginnings of decay. That covers everything else.”

“You said your grandfather wouldn’t tell you about the portals. Does that make you angry with him?”

Valeriah blows out her breath. “Not really angry. He spent so much effort to protect me after the murders. He just never could let go of the need to keep me safe. He thinks seeking revenge will get me into trouble and I’ll get killed, too. I know he’s scared for me.

“That doesn’t mean I’m not frustrated that he won’t let me use his library. If he won’t help me, at least he could let me do what I have to do on my own. That argument is the main reason I left and haven’t been back to see him or my cousin in eight years.”

Another interviewer raises a hand. “You haven’t seen your family in eight years. Are you alone, or is there anyone else you turn to?”

Valeriah shrugs. “Well, I am a member of the Portal Watch. Some of them are companions of a sort. Of course, there are quite a few I had to beat up when I first joined, so they knew not to try to take advantage of me. Some of them hold a grudge. There isn’t anybody I’d really call a friend.

She sighs. “I’m a lone wolf.”

The interviewer follows up. “Would you seek companionship? What if you found someone who let you be you, but also gave you strength and at times something to lean on?”

Valeriah turns to look out the window. Her voice drops so that the interviewers have to lean forward to hear her. “I’ve never had any luck with that. Gave up trying years ago. I don’t need to lean on anybody, though I don’t mind working with a partner as part of my job. That’s just what it is, though. Nothing else.”

Another interviewer raises a hand, but Valeriah strides toward the door. “We’re done here. I have murderers to track.”

This was originally done for a challenge in which writers contributed different characters and then wrote a short story in which two of them met. You can read my story about Valeriah and a space alien (who looks like a poodle) here.

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Mothers Day Book Bash BannerAnd, since my contribution to this party is actually a two-book set, here’s an excerpt from the second book, BLOOD IS THICKER.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

To set this one up: Valeriah has teamed up with some dragons. (Pretty closely with one dragon in particular.) They’re out of Chimeria, in our world (disguised as humans), where the dragons maintain a palatial estate. Of course, they really don’t want to reveal their true identities to anyone over here. The dragons, all in human form, in this scene are: Rolf, his older brother Drake, and their baby sister, Kamara.

While Kamara is about Valeriah’s age, as the heiress of the Matriarch of the gold dragons, she’s been coddled and sheltered all her life. Her maturity level is closer to a fourteen-year-old than a twenty-something. And she’s made up her mind to go out to a party with a young man neither of her over-protective brothers, nor Valeriah, approve of.

Oh, and it appears the young man knows more about Kamara’s origins than he really should.

Kamara excused herself from the supper table as early as she could and rushed to get herself ready for Daniel. She wanted to be beautiful tonight. It would be nice if Valeriah could do her hair, the way she had for the Christmas party. Never mind. Kamara’d just have to do it herself. It wouldn’t be as elaborate, is all. She’d go for something simpler, like the way Valeriah had worn her hair that night. Rolf had seemed to like that. At least, he’d played with it a lot. The idea of Daniel playing with her hair like that made Kamara smile. Last of all, she drew the chain of her topaz pendant over her head, admiring the way it winked in the light, sending golden reflections across the room.

At two minutes to eight, she slipped down the back stairs. The others were in the study, so she wanted to avoid that side of the house and the entry hall, where her gold high-heeled shoes would echo on the marble tiles. Past the gym and out the French doors to the patio. She breathed a sigh of relief at escaping the house. This time, she was going to make it.

Around the kitchen side of the house to the front was easy. She walked on the grass, not the concrete driveway, despite the unpleasant way her heels sank into the damp soil. That was better than making too much noise and attracting attention. She had to step onto the concrete to open the smaller pedestrian gate, set into the larger one. Hopefully, she was far enough from the house now not to be heard.

As soon as she’d palmed the lock, the gate pushed open from the other side and Daniel stepped through. She smiled brightly at him. Two other men she didn’t recognize came through behind him. Well, he’d said they were going to a party with some of his friends.

Daniel didn’t introduce his friends, but they moved to either side of her.

“Hello, Kamara.” Daniel’s voice was harsh, nothing like the sweet, charming tones she was used to. And his smile was almost predatory. For the first time, Kamara started to wonder if she should have listened to Valeriah after all.

“Um, hi. Who’re you’re friends?” she asked.

Daniel flicked a hand to his left at a big man–bigger than Father–with reddish hair and a long, horsey face. “Ben.” Then he gestured to his right as a slight fellow with golden blond, feathery hair like Daniel’s, but without the interesting blue highlights. “Patrick.” He swept his hand toward her in a mocking imitation of a bow. “I give you Kamara of Chimeria.”

Kamara’s heart dropped to her stomach. How did he know who she was? She backed up a step. Ben closed in behind her, cutting off her retreat. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all.” Daniel’s hand stroked her cheek, but this time she didn’t get any of those pleasant tingles. Instead, a shiver of fear coursed through her, mixed with overwhelming hurt.

Daniel continued to smile. “Don’t worry. No one’s going to hurt you. We’re just going to play a little joke on your brothers.”

“I don’t think they’ll have much of a sense of humor on that subject,” Kamara said, trying to keep her voice steady.

“Oh, they’ll play along. They’ll have to if they want to get you back. And they’ll give us what should always have been our birthright, too–access to the portals.”

“Let’s just go to the party, like we planned.” Kamara’s voice sounded pleading in her own ears.

Kamara dodged to the side, trying to get around Ben and make a run for the house. Patrick grabbed her arm to stop her. She spun in a move Valeriah had taught her, stomping on his foot and freeing herself. But then Ben grabbed her from behind so that her arms were pinned to her sides and lifted her feet off the ground. Valeriah hadn’t covered what to do in a case like this. Kamara struggled in vain.

Daniel’s smiled widened, but not pleasantly. “There isn’t any party, you little fool. There never was. That was just a way to get you away from your brothers.” His hand traced down her neck to the chain and followed the chain down to her topaz. His fist closed around it. “We’ll start with this. I don’t know what it does, but we can’t have you using magic against us.” He yanked on the chain, but it was stronger than he expected, enhanced with magic.

Her shivering fear and hurt turned in a flash to purely draconic outrage. No one, ever, laid a hand on a dragon’s jewels. Not if they wanted to live. The roar that issued from Kamara’s throat was not a sound any human could produce.

“What the hell!” Patrick said, putting his hands over his ears. “I thought you said they were wizards.”

Even Daniel looked stunned, though Ben’s arms were just as firm as ever. Daniel’s eyes narrowed. “That wasn’t human. What are you?”


Valeriah dropped the bowl of popcorn she’d been about to take into the study. That roar could only have come from a dragon. It wasn’t Rolf or Drake. It sounded female. Kamara!

And the roar had come, not from upstairs where they all thought Kamara was sulking, but from outside. She dashed through the kitchen door and paused. Which way? The sound of a boot scuffing on concrete decided her. The patio and all the paths in the garden were stone. The only concrete was in the driveway out front. The difference in sound was subtle, but perceptible to her sensitive ears. She raced to the front of the house.

Her werewolf’s night vision showed her the scene long before even her speed could close the distance. Three to one. For her, that wasn’t such bad odds–if only Kamara weren’t at risk.

Well, getting Kamara out of harm’s way was the first priority. She launched herself into the biggest man, the one who was holding Kamara, hitting him with both feet in the small of his back. The man dropped Kamara and fell to his knees, coughing. Valeriah had bounced back to her feet before either of the other two could react. Daniel next. He was almost certainly the ringleader, here.

“It’s the new wife,” Daniel said. “Grab her, too. We’ll get anything we want for the both of them.”

“You’ll get much more than you bargained for,” Valeriah answered. “I promise you that much.”

“Spoiled little rich girls don’t scare me.”

Valeriah actually smiled. “Your mistake.” Her kick took Daniel in the chin, dropping him like a stone. She ignored him as she turned for the third man.

The skinny one had grabbed Kamara’s arm, pulling her in front of him and was in the act of reaching into his jacket for something. Most likely a gun. Possibly a knife. Either was bad news. Valeriah could hear Rolf and Drake pounding up the driveway towards them, but they’d be too late to help with this. She needed to take this guy out before he could put a gun in play.

Kamara, bless her, drove her elbow into the smaller man’s gut. He didn’t release her, but Kamara’s continuing struggles did pull him part way around. It was all the opportunity Valeriah needed. She was behind him, with her arm across his throat, choking him, before he could straighten from Kamara’s blow.

“Drop it,” Valeriah hissed, “or you’ll end up like Daniel.” She heard the clatter of metal on the concrete followed by a deafening bang. Damned cheap gun had gone off. Valeriah automatically checked Kamara to be sure she hadn’t been hit by the stray bullet or any shrapnel it might have caused striking the concrete driveway.

By then, Rolf and Drake ran up. Drake quickly picked up the discarded gun and took charge of the two men already down. Rolf pulled first Valeriah and then Kamara into his arms. After a quick, reassuring hug, Valeriah squirmed free to check on Daniel. She didn’t think she’d kicked him hard enough to break his neck, but it wouldn’t hurt to make sure. No. There was a steady pulse, but he was certainly out cold.

She straightened at the sound of sirens coming up the hill. Damn. That was precisely what they didn’t need. She pointed to the biggest of the three. “You. Pick up Daniel and hide in those trees.” She pointed back up to a curve in the driveway where a thick stand of Italian cypress screened the house from the gate.

The big one just stared at her. “Go. Unless you really want to be arrested for attempted kidnapping. We don’t need to be dealing with the police right now. We’ll just tell them it was a mistake. We heard it, too, but think it must have been some kids setting off a firecracker or something. Then we’ll deal with you later.”

“Right,” Drake said, pocketing the gun.

The skinny one jumped up and pushed his companion into action. By the time the patrol cars arrived at the gate, they were hidden from ordinary eyes. Valeriah could still see them. Probably Rolf and Drake could, too. But ordinary human police wouldn’t.

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Mothers Day Book Bash BannerAs part of the Mothers Day Book Bash, I’m sharing an excerpt from BLOOD WILL TELL.

Blood Will Tell CoverTo set this up: Valeriah has returned home to Chimeria (the place where all our legendary creatures come from) for her dying grandfather. The old man has died and now Valeriah and her cousin Cristel are burying him.This is the first time in twenty years she’s been into the crypt where her own murdered family is buried.

Valeriah is half-werewolf on her mother’s side.

When Valeriah carried her Grandfather’s shrunken body through the crypt door, she saw the empty bier straight ahead of her at the back of the tomb. She placed him on the cold, white stone and arranged his body so that he appeared to be asleep, hands on his chest. She patted the cold hands once before she looked around her.

Grandmother Elsibel’s bier was right next to Grandfather’s. Elsibel, who had died before Valeriah was even born, appeared to be in a natural sleep. There was probably some spell on the crypt to prevent decay. That was a strangely comforting thought. Looking at Elsibel, Valeriah realized how much Cristel looked their grandmother.

Cristel was on the right side of the crypt, staring down at one of the bodies. From where she stood, Valeriah couldn’t see the body Cristel was looking at clearly, but she assumed it must be one of her parents. She turned away, to give Cristel a moment of privacy. Her eyes fell on the four bodies on the left side of the crypt. She crossed to them in three quick strides.

None of them looked like they were asleep. The death wounds were too obvious and so were the signs of feeding by forest scavengers before their bodies had been found.

Her father. Daddy. Tall and blond, still in his prime. The hole in his chest where the sword had passed through–all the way through. She remembered seeing the point come out of his back, the blood spurting around it. Mama. Her throat slashed so deeply that the bone of her spine showed through. Conall. Still ten years old. Ten years old forever. Ruddy like their mother, but already lengthening to be as tall as Daddy some day. That would never happen now. Nothing could hide the slash that had nearly cut him in two. Martin. Forever eight years old. The only one with Father’s coloring. And one side of his skull sickeningly caved in by a blow from something heavy. A club? Valeriah didn’t know. She hadn’t seen Martin fall.

They shouldn’t be in this crypt. They should all of them be alive and still with her. Her brothers grown tall and strong like Daddy. Maybe others, younger than her. That’s the way it should have been. She should not be alone.

Pain wrenched through Valeriah as if it had happened yesterday, not twenty years ago. All of them cut down in one moment. Her vision darkened. She clamped her mouth shut against the long, mournful howl that wanted to escape. Even now, at the new moon, when her wild blood should be quiet, she felt the blood rage boiling up in her. And Grandfather wanted her not to seek revenge? If the Goddess herself were responsible, Valeriah would avenge them.

The scuff of a shoe on stone and a choked-off sob brought her back to the moment. Valeriah raised her head, wiping away tears she hadn’t even realized she was crying. She crossed over to Cristel and stopped, one stride away, looking at what had to be Cristel’s parents. The woman was almost like a waxen image of Cristel–except for the gash across her neck. She’d been killed exactly like Valeriah’s mother. The man, presumably Cristel’s father, looked like he had been hacked with an axe.

“Yours, too?” Valeriah asked softly.


“Your parents were murdered, too. I didn’t remember that. But, then, I had my own nightmares back then. I wasn’t very interested in other people’s pain.”

“I didn’t remember, either. I’m not sure I ever knew. I was so young. I only remember Grandfather crying and saying that he would take care of me, now. I’m not sure he ever told me how they died. Or maybe he did and I just didn’t understand.”

“You weren’t there? When it happened?”

Cristel shook her head. Then she lifted her head to look at Valeriah. “Were you?”

“Oh, yes. I was the baby, only five and small for my age. I was holding Daddy’s hand when we were attacked. Mama and Conall fell while I watched. Daddy pushed me behind him. I saw the sword point come through his back and disappear again as he collapsed. He fell on me and the men who killed them didn’t find me.” She shuddered at the memory. She would say no more about that. Not here. Not now.

Valeriah took hold of Cristel’s arm. “Let’s get out of here.”

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Mothers Day Book Bash Banner

To help decide which books might best suit those you gift on Mother’s Day, all week during the Book Bash, we’re going to be posting tidbits about these books–excerpts, deleted scenes, etc.–on our Facebook event page

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Eye on Orion  by Laura Bastian

Sale Price: $.99, regularly $3.99   Amazon

Genre: YA Fantasy

Falling in love with your gorgeous new neighbor isn’t a bad thing, but when he turns out to be the bodyguard of a princess from a planet nine billion light-years away, life gets complicated.

Seventeen-year-old stargazer Holly Adams never imagined she’d find herself trying to prevent the overthrow of an alien government. When Jai and his sister Amira move into the house down the street, Holly is immediately drawn to them. Jai acts suspicious of her from the start, making Holly more curious about their oddities. When Holly learns they are from a different planet, she does what she can to help protect Amira from Shander, a man who wants to marry her by force in order to take over the kingdom her father rules.

Mistaken identity, a botched kidnapping, and a first kiss that bonds Holly and Jai for life are hard enough, but when Shander believes Holly to be the princess, things get even more dangerous.


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Arms Wide Open, a novella by Juli Caldwell

Price: $.99   Amazon

Genre: Romance

Lauren Brooks is in a rut, and her roomie is determined to yank her out of it by convincing her to participate in a local coffee shop’s 5-in-5 speed dating event. Once she agrees, it takes her about 30 seconds to realize if there’s an oddball out there looking for love, he’ll find her. And creep her out. She confronts one weirdo after another until someone she used to know winds up in the same place, and she has to decide what she wants more: to make a break for it, or embrace the possibilities of another chance.

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Not So Easy by Sherry Gammon

Sale Price: $2.99, regularly $4.25   Amazon

Genre: YA Fantasy

Senior Max Sanchez has it all.

He’s the star pitcher for Port Fare High’s baseball team. He’s dating the head cheerleader, Emma McKay, and he has a great group of friends.

Junior JD Miller’s life is Not So Easy.

Unlike Max, JD struggles with making friends. He’s a social misfit, and he’s being bullied at every turn. He’s also barely surviving.

A tragedy forces these two together. Now Max must face the hardest challenge of his life as he works to help JD. A tragic accident changes everything, merging their lives together, and Max soon learns that life is not so easy for everyone. Max works to the point of exhaustion trying to help JD survive the chaos that is his life, and his eyes are opened to a world he had no idea even existed.

Not so Easy is a story about hope, surviving, and never giving up. Download a free sample and start reading now!

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Adrenaline Rush by Cindy Hogan

Sale Price: 1.99, regularly 3.99    Amazon

Genre: YA romantic suspense

A madman with a mission is kidnapping groups of thrill-seeking high school seniors across the country, and it’s up to Christy to stop him. To do so, she must take on a fearless alter ego and infiltrate a group of adrenaline junkies bent on pushing life to the limit. Death-defying stunts are only the beginning: two groups fit the profile, and Christy must discover the real target before it’s too late.

If she chooses the wrong group, more people will disappear. But choosing right puts her as the prime target—with no guarantee that she’ll get out alive.

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Rising Book 1: Resistance by Laura Josephsen

Sale Price: $.99, regularly $3.99   Amazon

Genre: Science Fiction

All Alphonse wants is a quiet summer at home before his final months at university. What he gets is a half-dead stranger on his doorstep and the task of delivering a package to the leader of his home country. Not long after he boards a train toward the capital, he’s attacked by knights, elite soldiers of the neighboring king.

Alphonse is temporarily rescued by Mairwyn, a mechanic with a haunted past and a deep hatred of knights. Together, they attempt to carry out Alphonse’s urgent errand, only to learn that if they fail, countless people will die.

And even if they succeed, they may not be able to prevent the war that lurks on the horizon. (Book 1 of 2)


Chimeria Omnibus Edition Blood Will Tell and Blood is Thicker 

by Meredith Mansfield

Sale Price: $.99, regularly $4.75   Amazon

Genre: Portal Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Blood Will Tell

A half-werewolf and a dragon in disguise join forces to rescue an innocent woman from an unknown attacker. Without knowing who or why, each tries to solve the mystery in their own way. But a decades-old crime and the dragon’s true identity may destroy their collaboration–and their growing attraction to one another–just when their enemy has found their hide out.

Blood Is Thicker

Rolf and Valeriah are back. Even while Valeriah struggles to adapt to her new life, a new crisis arises. If they can’t figure out why the dragons’ hatching grounds are suddenly going cold, a generation of dragons may never hatch–including their own eggs.

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How to Have Peace When You’re Fall to Pieces by Rebecca Rode

Sale Price: $.99, regularly $4.61   Amazon

Genre: Nonfiction

You haven’t seen your kids’ bedroom floor in weeks, your schedule is overflowing, and the drive-thru lady knows you by name. But even when life feels chaotic, peace is possible. Packed with poems, quotes, and inspirational stories, this book gives a fresh perspective on a mother’s work and helps restore calm to a hectic world–starting at home.

“Charming . . . full of wit, humor, and great ideas.” ~Sandra Covey

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A Change of Plans by Donna K. Weaver

Sale Price: $.99, regularly $3.99  Amazon

(If you get the Kindle book, you can add the audiobook for only $1.99)

Genre: Clean New Adult Adventure Romance

When Lyn sets off on her supposedly uncomplicated and unromantic cruise, she never dreams it will include pirates. All the 25-year-old Colorado high school teacher wants is to forget that her dead fiancé was a cheating scumbag. What she plans is a vacation diversion; what fate provides is Braedon, an intriguing surgeon. She finds herself drawn to him: his gentle humor, his love of music, and even his willingness to let her take him down during morning karate practices. Against the backdrop of the ship’s make-believe world and its temporary friendships, her emotions come alive.

However, fear is an emotion, too. Unaware of the sensitive waters he navigates, Braedon moves to take their relationship beyond friendship—on the very anniversary Lyn came on the cruise to forget. But Lyn’s painful memories are too powerful, and she runs off in a panic.

Things are bad enough when the pair finds themselves on one of the cruise’s snorkeling excursions in American Samoa. However, paradise turns to piracy when their party is kidnapped. Lyn’s fear of a fairytale turns grim. Now she must fight alongside the man she rejected, first for their freedom and then against storms, sharks, and shipwreck.

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All the Finer Things by Stephanie Connelley Worlton

Sale Price: $.99, regularly $2.99   Amazon

Genre: Romance

Married to one of the most lucrative and sought after plastic surgeons in SoCal, Megan Hamilton has it all. Her posh life, designer clothes, and stunning penthouse leave her wanting for nothing… or do they? Controlled by his obsessive pursuit of perfection, Doctor Matthew Hamilton will stop nothing short of breaking his young, spirited bride into a subservient trophy wife. But when parenthood enters their picture, the entire game changes. How far will Megan have to go to escape Matt’s obsessive control and abuse? And how much will she have to lose before she gets there?

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