Archive for April, 2015

Every writer I know has this problem. It’s always when you’re elbow deep in another story that the shiny new one comes along to taunt you.

I have to hold this one back until I’ve finished not only BEYOND THE PROPHECY, but also the fourth (and last) book in the DUAL MAGICS series. That’s at least a year!

So, maybe writing a little bit about it now will help with that. Fingers crossed, because, of course, it could just as easily make it worse.

DREAMER’S ROSE is not precisely a new idea. I’ve actually written an earlier (and very bad) version of it. Then I let it sit and re-imagined it. I played around with it a little, but it was tricky because the story involves three main characters and two of them aren’t even born when the story starts. I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to handle that.

Then the inspiration came to me a couple of weeks ago. All I really had to do was free the story from the box I’d been trying to shove it into. Now I can see how it needs to go. It’s most likely a trilogy. Possibly with each book focusing on one of the three characters. And no matter how badly my fingers itch, I can’t start writing it yet.

Can’t. Mustn’t. Must finish DUAL MAGICS first. (Keep repeating that.)

cropped-princess-louisa-inlet.jpgThis is a glimpse into part of the world of DREAMER’S ROSE–a temperate rainforest.

The first part of the story is the legend of Hercules turned on its ear. (The real version, not what Disney did to it.)

In the Greek myths, Hercules led a cursed life, because Hera (who was not his mother) had it in for him. He failed at absolutely everything in his life, except killing monsters and completing other impossible, but mostly useless, tasks. Really, how helpful was it to retrieve the three-headed dog, Cerberus, who guarded the underworld, just to prove he could, and then take him right back again? (By the way, in the original Greek version, Hades helped Herc by giving his permission for that.)

Then he became a god and there were actually altars for his worship. I’ve always kind of wondered what you would pray to Hercules for. I mean, if you had a hydra in your backyard, I get it. But certainly not for any kind of domestic happiness. (Hera drove Hercules mad so that he murdered his own wife and children.)

How did his very unsuccessful life prepare him to be a god?

And that’s where DREAMER’S ROSE starts. Will start. In about a year. Keep repeating that.


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I’m at the point in my revisions on BEYOND THE PROPHECY

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????where I have to balance multiple threads of the story. I now have major characters in three different locations doing three different things in support of the main goal.

Things get complicated at this point. I have to keep the timeline straight. Does Event A actually belong in chapter 30, or should it happen after the events–in another location with different characters–in chapter 32? Moving whole chapters around isn’t too difficult, but remembering what any given character should know if I move that chapter might be.

Add in that I don’t want any one of those three characters to get left out of the plot for too long and it becomes a real balancing act.

Progress slows a bit at this point for a reason.

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I started the revisions on BEYOND THE PROPHECY just about a week ago.


I’ve made really good progress up ‘til now. I’m on Chapter 25 of (currently) 51.

Honestly, the most major change I’ve had to make so far—other than adding some details and punching up the emotions in a couple of places—was to delete part of a few scenes since I’d decided that a couple of characters weren’t there after all. Not too big a deal.

Not that I’ve addressed everything in those first 24 chapters. There are things I left for a later pass because I hadn’t decided quite what to do with them yet. And there will still be the need to edit for more setting details in some areas. (Always something I tend to gloss over in a first draft.)

But I’ve just arrived at the part of the story that’s going to need more work. The part I wasn’t happy with in the first draft anyway. It’s always the middle, isn’t it? I know what needs to be done—generally. But now I have to do it. New scenes. At least one new chapter. New emotional conflict—can always use more of that in the middle. This part will be almost like going back to the first draft.

But the story will be so much better for it.

Once I get through this, hopefully the rest will be more of a downhill slide. Then at least two more revision passes until I’ll be glad to close it up while my trusted beta readers have it. Then I’ll know how well I did.

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I’ve been doing so many other things today–laundry, a bit of house painting, and the first round of revisions on BEYOND THE PROPHECY

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????that I almost forgot to blog. In my defense, I’m at one of the most fun parts of the story, where two young characters are starting to feel the first urges of something more than friendship–and still don’t quite know what to do with that. To cap it off, one of them is about to go away for a while. Here’s a snippet:

“You are coming back aren’t you?” Kiara asked.

“Nothing could keep me away. This is my real home.”

“How . . . how long will it be?”

“I don’t know. Two years. Maybe three. I’ll study hard and try to make it back as soon as I can.” He looked down and back up. “Will you . . .” He stopped and shook his head. “It’s not fair to ask you to wait for me.”

“I’ll wait.”

Theklan smiled. “I . . . I made something for you. It’s not a courting gift. I’m not even allowed to offer a courting gift until after the manhood test. More . . . more maybe something to remember me by?”

Kiara smiled. “I’ll keep it for you.” The traditional reply to an accepted courtship gift. She looked around. “What is it?”

Theklan laughed. “It’s not here. I hid it in my bedroll. It’s a bridle with a pattern of lions and eagles worked on it.” Unaccountably, he blushed. “That’s what I wanted the berries for . . . that day. To make a dye to bring out the pattern.”

“Pity we lost them all.”

His eyes blazed as he looked into hers. “No. Vatar’s bringing a purple dye from Caere. That’ll be better. It’ll last longer and . . . the other would have been pinkish. That’s not really the right color for you. You’re more . . . vivid than that.”

Kiara sucked in a breath. Then she leaned forward and pressed her lips to his, just briefly. A promise for another time. In two or three years. When they were both ready. It would seem like a long time, but maybe it was better this way.

Unfortunately, all is not going to run smoothly for these two. Not for a while at least. But it’s still fun writing this.

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I’ve started the first round of revisions on BEYOND THE PROPHECY. I’m all the way up to Chapter Five out of fifty-one, so I’m not exactly racing through it. In fact, I don’t expect to get anything done on it at all today. It’s just been one of those days. My alarm not going off was just the start.


I usually like to try to get at least a chapter done a day, but Chapter Five has some particular issues that might take longer.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking.

About the ending of BEYOND THE PROPHECY, which I’m still not entirely thrilled with.

About the fourth and last (and so far untitled) book in the Dual Magics series. Especially about where it starts, which might be an issue. Because, as things stand, it would start with several chapters in which Vatar doesn’t have a part. Hmm.

And trying not to think about another story altogether which has started calling my name. Not yet! But DREAMER’S ROSE is starting to get awfully insistent. (It’s a riff on the myths and legends of Hercules, but reversed. Sort of.) So far, I’m just jotting down notes and hoping I can get away with that. I have to finish Dual Magics first. Really. (Wouldn’t be the first time I ended up working on two first drafts at the same time, though.)

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First, the Dual Magics tie-in short story, “Modgud Gold” is now available on Amazon.


Changing his apprenticeship from the Smiths’ Guild to the Merchants’ gives Arcas a second chance. Not just for a career that suits him far better, but also to prove himself worthy of the lovely Elaria.

But to accomplish that, he must leave his seaside city—and Elaria—for a year. In that time, he travels among the barbarians, hoping to find something to trade for that will be worth the hardships and dangers.

Something like gold.

“Modgud Gold” takes place during the first half of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. If you ever wondered how Arcas knew enough about the Modgud to recruit help for Vatar during the Ordeal, here’s your chance to find out.

Second, today I’m officially back working on BEYOND THE PROPHECY.


It hasn’t had quite as much time to cool as I’d planned, but I’ve finished all of the other things I intended to do during this break from it, so it’s time. I’m starting with some of the bonus content.

  1. The Map, because this story travels around more of this world than the previous two did.dual-magics-bw-map2
  2. Vatar’s extended family tree and/or a cast of characters.
  3. A glossary of the different groups/cultures involved in these stories.
  4. And a vastly shortened summary of the salient events of the first two books.

All of that will be at the back of the book, at least in the e-book. (I may move the map and the family trees up to the front in the print edition. Plenty of time to worry about that later.) That way, they won’t be the only thing a potential reader sees if they look at a sample of the book.

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I had three goals for this few weeks when I need to let the first draft of BEYOND THE PROPHECY cool before starting the revisions. I’m doing well on all three of them.

  1. “Modgud Gold”: This is a tie-in short story to the Dual Magics series, about what Arcas was doing during the events of the first half or so of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE and explains, among other things, how he knew enough about the Modgud to get help for Vatar. I’ve been through the manuscript once and I’m halfway through the second pass. In this revision, I’m primarily deleting an unnecessary character. Yes, Kiara would be there if this were part of the book, but she’s just window dressing in the short story. She has no real role to play. One more pass, concentrating primarily on some descriptions that may not be needed and it’ll be ready to go.????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
  2. DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING: I had decided to e-publish this one after all. It only needed a quick read-through and some formatting. It’s available for pre-order now and releases May 18th.???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
  3. MAGE STORM: This is my middle grade fantasy. I’ve finished a read-through of the story, making very few changes. I need to do a little work, changing the query and possibly polishing up the synopsis. (I hate synopses.) And then send it to a publisher. Middle grade is still very much of an uphill slog for e-publishing. (How many ten- to twelve-year-olds have an e-reader–or a credit card with which to buy their own books? The answer to the first question is an increasing number. The answer to the second isn’t. So it’s much more necessary to find a way through the gate keepers–parents, teachers, and librarians–with middle grade fiction.)

I expect to have “Modgud Gold” done within a week or so. Then I’ll be ready to get back into BEYOND THE PROPHECY and turn it into the story I know is in there.

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Possibly the single most important factor, especially for indie-published books, is the cover. It’s the first thing potential readers see. If it doesn’t intrigue them, they won’t click through to read the blurb or buy.

I started out doing my own covers because I couldn’t afford to do anything else. And my early covers weren’t just bad. They were horrible. I had to learn to do better.

Now, I probably could afford to hire at least some of my covers done, but I find I actually enjoy doing my own. But, of course, they still have to be good. I’m still learning. (I got a book on graphic design for my birthday, which I haven’t finished reading yet.) I also belong to a couple of cover art critique groups, now.

One of the areas it’s clear I’ve needed to work on is typography. With the cover for the upcoming BEYOND THE PROPHECY, Book 3 of the Dual Magics series, I changed the font to something less standard.


Which, of course, means I now have to change the other covers to match.

Here’s the first cover for THE SHAMAN’S CURSE:

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Not bad. But here’s the newer version, which just went live yesterday:

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I also changed the font on the cover of “Becoming Lioness”, which is a tie-in short story. And on the cover of “Modgud Gold”, another tie-in short story that I expect to release in the next week or so.


I’m also very happy with the font choice for DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, which is available for pre-order. It releases May 18th.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Love that font for the title.

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And no, none of this is an April Fool’s joke.

First Item:

I am now officially a member of SFWA, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Knock one item off the bucket list.

Second Item:

Daughter of the Disgraced King is now available for pre-order. It releases May 18th. I’m waiting for the print proof.


Keep your head down. Don’t draw attention. Above all, don’t make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa lives by. It’s just part of being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king and living too close to his more-than-slightly paranoid successor.

Ailsa isn’t the only one affected by the new king’s insecurities. The mages backed her father. Now the new king’s repressive policies drive the mages out of the kingdom–and with them the magic that her desert country desperately needs to survive. Ailsa sets out to study magic so she can help keep Far Terra green.

Her plans are nearly upset when her oldest friend, Crown Prince Savyon, proposes. Marrying him would mean giving up her magic. Her family history proves that the barons will never accept a mage as queen. A year of training won’t make her a mage—unless she has insanely powerful magic. And there’s been no sign of that. But at least she’ll know what she’d be giving up before she makes a decision.

A magic-tinted kiss from Jathan, her cheerfully annoying study partner, makes her question what she really feels for Savyon. She and Jathan could do great things together–except that he never wants to go near the desert.

Are magic and love forever mutually exclusive for Ailsa?

The ebook is only $0.99 during the pre-order.

Third Item:

I’m making good progress on “Modgud Gold”, the tie-in short story for the Dual Magics series. I’ve added a scene to the beginning and will add another to the ending to pull it together better. Right now, I’m tightening up the middle. Streamlining a bit. I expect to have it up in a week or two. Of course, I’ll have to redo the cover to match the new fonts on the Dual Magics covers.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Probably should change the cover for “Becoming Lioness” while I’m at it. Make them all look like they belong together.


“Becoming Lioness” is free just about everywhere.

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