Category Archives: Books

June 2015 Roundup, What’s Coming in July

PictureTime for the monthly roundup and look ahead:

June was, again, all about working on revisions and edits on To the Gap. This book is longer than books 2 and 3, (over 60,000 words, while Bad Hunting and The Rancher’s Daughter are under 50,000) so it’s taking longer to finish it. I also finished the A-Z Reading Challenge (see the previous post for the final installment) and I’m now back to reading whatever I feel like. Finally, the month ended with a bang with a bunch of dental work. My mouth still hurts, but at least we addressed the problems before they got bad enough to require root canals.

Coming up in July: the release of To the Gap, though probably a little later than I had anticipated. A week ago Sunday, our older son and his fiancee informed us that they’ve moved their wedding up from this fall to the middle of this month. They aren’t having a big huge fancy deal, but there’s at least one wedding-related event in addition to the wedding we’ll need to be at, and it’s all out of town (though only 100 miles up the freeway), which means a couple of road trips. So that has thrown a slight hitch into my work schedule, but I’m working as hard as I can to still get the book out as soon as I can without compromising the quality. I know there are at least a few of you waiting for it, and I don’t want to keep you waiting too long! Of course, we’re thrilled and delighted for our son and his fiancee, and excited to have our family grow. Maybe best of all, she has an absolutely precious 2-year-old daughter, so we get an instant grandchild out of the deal 😀

All other projects are on hold while I get through this busy time and try to keep to my release schedule.


The Lost Book of Anggird Serial-Style for Free!

The Lost Book of AnggirdFor a limited time, over on my main site, you can read The Lost Book of Anggird serial-style for free! I’ll be posting a chapter 3 times a week, with up to six chapters available at a time. (Plus the first chapter, which is permanently on my site.)

Why am I doing this? Well, because I hope a few readers will take the opportunity to try out a new author or a new book for free, and that they’ll like what they read and be eager enough to find out what happens next to buy the book!

And because I know not everyone can afford $4.99 for an ebook, so from time to time I like to give everyone the opportunity to read my stories, not just those who can afford it.

I hope you’ll check it out!


Writing Progress Update

Picture I seem to have found myself caught up into the Writing Process Blog Hop again, having been tagged last week by the lovely and talented Teshelle Combs, whom I’ve featured her here a couple of times. My writing process hasn’t changed much in the time since I did this before, but I figure it’s time for a progress update.

The first major revisions on books 1-3 of Daughter of the Wildings are done and out to the test readers, and I just started on book 4. It’s taking a lot more rewriting than I thought it would. Not that the plots have changed so much, but some major issues with the magic are different, and also some character issues. Plus a lot of what I wrote was me just trying to figure out what happens next! I like to plan my stories in advance, but a lot of Daughter of the Wildings resisted any kind of advance outlining. So I’m cutting lots of stuff, and adding lots of stuff, and changing lots of stuff.

Saturday I spent working out the money system a little more. The amount of money Silas and Lainie have is an important plot point at this point; they just got a big payout for services rendered to wealthy rancher Brin Coltor (one of my favorite supporting characters in the series), and it had to be enough to make taking on the job he hired them for worth the risk. On the other hand, there’s something Silas wants to do that’s going to cost even more than they have. Balancing the money in and money out to keep it all in proportion took some sitting down and calculating. I think I’ve finally got it figured out.

So there’s that, and since it’s been a long time since I wrote anything new, I’ve decided to participate in July Camp NaNoWriMo (because I’m just not busy enough :P). My goal is 500 words a day for a total of 12,000 words for the month (not much, but should be doable on the heavy revising schedule I’m on), and my project is Tales of Azara, a set of short stories to go along with Chosen of Azara. Some readers have mentioned to me that they’d like more background on the characters in the novel and more stories from that world, so that’s what this is for.

And I’m doing COYER Summer Vacation! So when I’m not writing and revising, I’ll be reading and reviewing. Should be enough to keep me out of trouble!

This week’s other stop on the Writing Process Blog Hop is Madhuri Blaylock; go check her out!


#Luckyseven Snippet – The Rancher’s Daughter

Picture Here’s something fun – I’ve been tagged by Isabella Norse to play #LuckySeven Snippet. Here’s how it works: In your current manuscript, go to page 7 (or 77), count seven lines down, and post the next seven lines. Then tag seven other writers to play along!

So here’s my seven lines, from The Rancher’s Daughter (adjusted to make complete sentences) [note: Silas is left-handed. I don’t know why; he just is]:

* * *
He itched to have it out with Storts, but getting in a gunfight with someone who appeared to be one of the town’s wealthiest citizens was not a good way to lay low. And he didn’t want Lainie to get caught in the middle of a shootout. He wrapped his left arm around her shoulders, as much to keep his hand away from his gun as to comfort her.

“Damn it.” Lainie’s voice was muffled by her arms. “He cheated! Everyone would have noticed if he’d played the Fire Dragon that early in the game! I would have noticed! How stupid does he think I am?”

* * *

Hm, who to tag now? How about T.F., D.A., M.H., A.L., Zoe, Lauren, and Mindy! (None of them know I’m tagging them; it’ll be as much a surprise to them as it is to me!)


Father’s Day Special: Prince Eruz

Last year for Father’s Day, I wrote a tribute to my amazing dad. This year, since the role of fathers is so essential and yet so often undervalued and overlooked, I want to emphasize the importance of fathers in my own writing with this sneak peek look at one of my characters who is a father, Prince Eruz from Urdaisunia:

Picture A FEW DAYS after that, Eruz sent for Rashali to meet him in the gardens again. This time, the prince brought his young daughter, Mizalilu, with him; he explained that the child’s mother was awaiting the birth of a new baby and had little attention to spare for her. Rashali watched the little girl run along the garden paths, and pictured her own daughter in Mizalilu’s place. Fresh grief squeezed her heart. “My Lalana was the same age,” she said without thinking.

The prince was silent for a moment, also watching Mizalilu. “How do you survive such a loss?”

She shrugged, wishing she hadn’t said anything. “Along the rivers, so many children die, it’s only to be expected. Still, you hope that you’ll be the lucky one, that your child will be spared… And when she dies anyway, you either die too, or you live on. I chose to live on.” To destroy the Sazars who caused her death, she added in her mind, but didn’t say out loud.

Mizalilu had brought a sack of raisins with her. She ran ahead, tossing raisins on the ground while Luzak the peacock trotted after her, gobbling the treats. Eruz and Rashali followed, keeping the little girl in sight. “I told my father that moving the Urdai away from the stretch of the Uz the Kai-Kalle want might be more complicated than we thought,” Eruz said. “I didn’t tell him that the Urdai would fight, only that there would be considerable difficulties involved in relocating such a large number of people.”

“Did he decide against it?”

“He only said that we may have no choice, but he’ll wait to take action until the Kai-Kalle’s and the Sanghs’ intentions become clearer. I did tell him that I hoped to persuade you to convince the villagers to cooperate.”

“I suppose you can tell him that.” Not that she would ever agree to do such a thing, but letting him tell the king that she might seemed like a harmless concession.

Mizalilu had run ahead and now came back to them. The bag of raisins had been discarded somewhere along the way, and the child’s small fists were now filled with flowers and pebbles. Rashali watched the little girl’s shining dark eyes and smooth, flushed amber cheeks as she showed her father her treasures. The prince’s worries and burdens seemed to fall away as he squatted in front of his daughter, admiring the things she had found and replying to her babble. This was yet another odd thing—that a Sazar nobleman who needed a son as an heir would love a daughter so openly and completely.

They walked on in silence, along one of the ponds that dotted the Jewel. Mizalilu ran around to the other side of the pond, and stood there throwing her pebbles into the water and laughing at the splashes they made.


Sumerian Influences on Urdaisunia

(This is an old post from my main site, updated and refreshed to celebrate Urdaisunia’s new cover.)

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When I first started writing Urdaisunia back in the early 90s, I was interested in really really ancient civilizations. I also wanted to write something that wasn’t in the usual medieval-European-influenced fantasy setting. Ancient Sumeria fit the bill perfectly. It’s so old it makes Ancient Greece and Rome look like whippersnappers, and had a rich and influential culture and level of development. The physical setting (read about my fascination with desert settings here) offered a lot of possibiities for conflict, and I also found the Sumerian pantheon and mythology fascinating. And then there was the idea of a great and ancient civilization falling into ruin, which is also full of possible stories. We didn’t have the internet back then, or at least not in its current form, where you can find out anything about anything with just a few clicks, but we do have it now, so here are some links to things that have inspired Urdaisunia.

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The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has a long-term exhibit called Iraq’s Ancient Past with a lot of pictures and information about Sumeria and the archaeological work that has been done on the sites there. The headress of Queen Puabi, which inspired the headdress of Shairu-Az in Urdaisunia, is the third picture down. Here is more about Queen Puabi, including a video of some museum workers dressing a mannequin in the headdress and jeweled cloak that were found on Puabi’s remains in her tomb. Also on the Penn Museum site is a feature where you can make your name in cuneiform. The picture on this post is my last name the way the Sumerians would have written it.

You can see more of Queen Puabi’s headdress and jewelry at Sumerian Shakespeare. The site also has images and translations of Sumerian writings.

The International World History Project has an extensive section devoted to Sumeria. You can read a rundown of the gods and goddesses, a summary of Sumerian history and culture, and a section of the creation myth which gives a sampling of the divine soap opera the gods and goddesses had going on (a major influence on Urdaisunia!).

And, of course, we have to have ziggurats. The first and third pictures were particularly influential in how I envisioned the Royal Palace and the Temple of Ar at Zir.

A few more odds and ends: some ancient ships, and some Bronze Age swords. In Urdaisunia, these are the swords the Urdai used before the Conquest; the Sazars’ swords are a new model and were inspired by Japanese katana.

Urdaisunia was only loosely inspired by Sumeria, so don’t look to the novel for any kind of historical accuracy. But it was a fun world to play in, and I’ll probably go back to it someday.

Finally, let me leave you with a musical tribute to the ancient world:


Urdaisunia is available from:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple | Kobo | OmniLit
Smashwords | CreateSpace | DriveThruFiction

Urdaisunia Cover Reveal and Sneak Peek!

I am so excited! After more than a year, I decided it was time for my first novel, Urdaisunia, to have a cover refresh. I love the picture on the original cover, but I felt like it doesn’t do much to convey what the story is about. So I asked Mominur Rahman, who did the Daughter of the Wildings covers, to do a new cover for Urdaisunia, and I love what he came up with!Here’s the full wrap-around illustration, without text:

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Mominur Rahman me-illuminated.deviantart.com
And here’s the ebook version, with text:
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Mominur Rahman me-illuminated.deviantart.com
The paperback edition is uploaded and awaiting file approval, the ebook version will roll out across the various retailers over the next few days or so.And to celebrate the new cover, here’s a sneak peek into Urdaisunia for the Weekend Sneak Peek! After being parted from Rashali under difficult circumstances, Eruz finds her in a Scorpion Nest (group of Urdai rebels) that’s about to be raided by the Sazars:

“If I can save this Nest, that might make up for the lives I took there. And now that I know you’re part of it—” He pulled her into his arms again. “No matter what else happens,” he said against her hair, “if you’re safe, then that’s something that’s right with the world.”

He was her enemy; he was the man who had sacrificed part of his soul to try to protect her people. And now he was endangering himself to bring her this warning. Rashali pushed back a rush of emotion that made her want to lose herself in his arms and forget everything else. “I’ll warn Kefel, or try to. In truth, he only hears what he wants to hear. Now let me warn you—That drunken Sazar by the bar is one of your uncle’s spies. I knew you, even with the salik. If he recognized you, and notices that we’ve both left the tavern…”

Eruz’s back stiffened. “Damn. He came in right after me—he must have followed me in. I have to get back to Zir before my father hears about this.” He pulled away from her just enough to close his hand around the dolphin pendant that lay against the bodice of her dress. He spoke softly, then breathed on the pendant, briefly fogging the silver. “If ever you need to contact me, for any reason, hold onto that and think of me, then send your message. Be careful not to let anyone else get hold of it, or find out what it is.”

She believed it would work; she had seen him use Sazar magic. “Can you contact me, too?”

“No. The token has to be prepared by the person it’s meant to contact. It’s not difficult to make one, but I don’t have time to teach you now.” Still holding the pendant, he bent his head down and kissed her deeply, hungrily, as though he was a starving man and she was his banquet. The world around them disappeared, and Rashali clung to him, the only solid, real thing she knew.

Too soon, he pulled away from her. “I have to leave now. The gods watch over you.”

For more Sneak Peeks, visit the Sneak Peek Sunday blog.

Urdaisunia is available at:
Amazon
| Barnes & Noble | Apple
Smashwords
| CreateSpace | OmniLit
and coming soon to Kobo and DriveThruFiction


Daughter of the Wildings Book 6 Cover Art Reveal!

Welcome to the reveal of the cover art for For the Wildings, Book 6 of Daughter of the Wildings! I’m really excited to show this one off. I love all the cover art for the series, but I think this one just might be my favorite. I tried really hard to end the series on a strong note (I hate it when series fall flat at the end), and I think this art really shows the intensity of the epic final battle that Silas and Lainie face. Many thanks to the awesome Mominur Rahman (me-illuminated) for the amazing cover art!And now, here’s the full wrap-around version for the paperback:

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Mominur Rahman me-illuminated.deviantart.com
And the ebook version:
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Mominur Rahman me-illuminated.deviantart.com
And now, a sneak peek from the first chapter of Beneath the Canyons, Book 1 of Daughter of the Wildings (this is not the final version, but pretty close). Silas has come to the town of Bitterbush Springs on the hunt for a rogue mage, and finds himself in the middle of some excitement:

PictureSilas reined in his horse in front of the boarding house and looped the reins around the closest hitching post. As he headed inside to inquire about a room, a crash from inside the saloon across the street caught his attention. He turned to see a big-bellied, bushy-bearded man come flying backwards through the swinging doors of the Bootjack Saloon and land on his back in the street. The man leaped to his feet with surprising speed for a fellow his size, then a second man charged out of the saloon and plowed into him, knocking him to the ground again. The two men tussled in a cloud of dust, until the second man pinned the first one face down with a knee in the small of the back.

“I ever catch you blasting on my land again, I’ll draw an’ quarter you an’ chop you up for dog feed!” the second man yelled. “You hear me, Gobby?”In a blur of motion, Gobby twisted out from under the other man and dropped him with a blow to the jaw that sounded like an axe thunking into wood. “You threatening me, Dinsin? Cause if you’re gonna threaten me, you better be ready to back it up!”

“Yeah, he’s threatening you,” said a man with an extravagant moustache from the covered wooden walkway in front of the Bootjack. His right hand dropped to the holster at his hip and came up holding a six-shooter aimed straight at Gobby. “An’ I’ll back up his threats for him.”

The gun was also aimed straight at Silas. Silas stepped back into the shadows of the covered walkway in front of the rooming house and edged out of the line of fire. A handful of men from the saloon next door, the Rusty Widow, came trickling out to see what was going on. Gobby stood up slowly, turning to face the moustached man with the gun. He was now also holding a gun. “Well, Winnard?” he said. “You think you can beat me?”

“I can –”

A shot fired from right next to Silas. Winnard tumbled back against the wall of the Bootjack and collapsed. More men came pouring out from both saloons, guns drawn. Holding onto his hat, Silas dove aside as gunfire exploded from both sides of the street.

And then — a wild burst of magical power, panicked and uncontrolled, and close by. The rogue mage? That power didn’t have the same flavor, the same feel to it as the brief flares of power that had led him to Bitterbush Springs. Silas started to raise his head to look around, then a bullet split a board in the wall of the rooming house not one arm-length above him. Throwing up a protective shield would slow down the bullets enough that they would do little harm, but it would also give away his presence to any other mages who might be around, so Silas pressed himself even flatter against the boards of the sidewalk. He lay flat against the wooden walkway, praying to the Defender that the unwritten law of the Wildings that it was an even worse crime to kill a horse than a man would keep Abenar safe.

All at once the gunfire stopped. “What’s all this, boys?” a deep, resonant voice called out from nearby.

Now Silas raised his head. Three or four men lay sprawled in the dirt of the street, unmoving. The fighters who were still standing had all lowered their guns and were looking at a man standing in front of the Rusty Widow. He was tall, with a hearty build, handsome, pale face, and luxuriant black moustache. He wore a finely-fashioned black suit and black flat-brimmed hat, and had a lace-and-ruffle-bedecked house lady clinging to each arm. Silas got to his knees, made sure his hat was still in place, and stood, brushing dust from his long brown coat. He kept close to the wall, in the shadows of the overhang, curious about this man who had the power to stop a gunfight just by appearing.

“Dinsin threatened me, Mr. Carden, sir,” Gobby said. “Me an’ my friends was just defending ourselves.”

“Go back inside, my dears,” the black-suited man, Carden, said to the house ladies. “No need to worry yourselves.” The ladies retreated into the saloon, and Carden stepped down from the wooden walkway into the street. He stood in front of Gobby, shaking his head. “Don’t tell me you went into the Bootjack again, Gobby,” he said. “You know damn well that’s rancher territory. You’re stupid enough to keep going in there, you deserve whatever you get.” Though the words were harsh, the deep voice was genial. The crispness of a Granadaian accent underlaid his informal Wildings speech.

“When are you gonna start paying us for the ore that was taken off our land, Carden?” Winnard, the wounded man in front of the Bootjack, shouted. The right shoulder of his shirt was soaked with blood, but judging by the anger in his voice, he was a long way from dead.

“If you have a difference with me, Winnard, I’d be happy to discuss it peacefully,” Carden replied in the same friendly manner. “There’s no need for anyone to be shooting anyone else.”

Two men helped Winnard up, and they and several other men who had come from the Bootjack walked over to Carden and started arguing with him. A small man with a silver sword-shaped badge pinned to his shirt came over as well, but he stood back and remained silent.

Silas couldn’t make out what the men were saying. He looked around, wondering who had been responsible for that explosion of magic. Further down the street, towards the east end of town, in the direction the burst of power had come from, he spotted a boy hunkered down behind a barrel, arms wrapped around his knees. Silas walked over, taking care to avoid attracting the attention of the angry men.

When he reached the barrel, he saw that what he had taken for a boy or youth was actually a small, slender young woman wearing men’s clothing — brown canvas pants, a green plaid shirt, boots, and a straw hat with a curved brim like those favored by cowhands. A long braid of light reddish-brown hair trailed down her back from under the hat. She had her face buried against her knees and she was shaking badly.

“I think they’re done for the day,” Silas said. “It’s safe to come out now. You okay?”

Abruptly, as though startled, she raised her head and looked up at him out of wide hazel eyes, set in a delicate, pale face with a dusting of freckles across her nose. Slowly, she took a deep breath and seemed to relax. “Yeah,” she said. “I’m okay. I just hate it when they start shooting like that.”



When Silas met Lainie… And the rest, as they say, is history 😀


Weekend Sneak Peek 5/3: Chosen of Azara

Welcome to this weekend’s Sneak Peek! Today we’re going back to Chosen of Azara, as Princess Juzeva meets her new husband, the man she’s being married to for political purposes, for the first time (Ilvana is her mother, the queen):

Picture“And here is Idan, Crown Prince of the Madrinan Empire,” Ilvana said. She gestured towards the young man standing between the Emperor and his advisor. “Your future husband.” Prince Idan was tall and well-built, with red hair, a strong-boned, handsome face, and clear green eyes. His clothes and armor were less elaborate and more practical-looking than his father’s. Though he was young and handsome, his expression was grim.

This was the man she was to spend the rest of her life with, the man who would be the father of the children she had never planned to have. Fighting back a sudden urge to flee from the room, Juzeva curtsied to him.The Prince stepped forward and bowed to her, then spoke in formal, carefully-pronounced Savarunan. “My lady Juzeva, I know this duty is difficult for you, as it is for me. We are both forced to give up our own desires for the sake of peace between our lands. But I promise you that from now on I will look forward, not back, in the hope that we can be, if not happy, at least content with our destiny.”

Juzeva hadn’t expected such a courtly speech. The Prince had clearly spent a great deal of time practicing it, and Juzeva found herself moved by the effort. If nothing else, she would be married to a gentleman. She bowed her head to him, grateful for his courtesy and thoughtfulness. “I thank you, Prince Idan. I too will do my best to make our union a successful one.”

She watched the Prince take his place beside his father again. Her gaze slid past Sajur Golu’s face just as the priest was hiding a look of deep contempt. Another prickle of revulsion or fear, or both, crept up her spine.

“Let us be done with this, then,” Queen Ilvana said. She and Ezdar moved to a table which stood beneath the great middle window, where a scribe waited with the marriage and peace treaties. The scribe began reading the documents out loud. Juzeva didn’t bother to pay close attention; it made no difference whether or not she knew what they said. The terms had all been worked out already. She had had no say in them, and her opinion and consent had not been asked. The essence of the agreements was that, in exchange for a marriage-link to the Savaru royal family, which would bring with it a significant voice on the Queen’s Council and a healthy portion of the profits from Savaru’s rich fishing, farming, handcraft, and mining enterprises, the Madrinan Empire promised to not run its armies over the land. A bloodless defeat for Savaru, a quick and cheap victory for the Empire.



Chosen of Azara is available at:
Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble | CreateSpace
Apple | Smashwords | OmniLit

For more Sneak Peeks, visit the Sneak Peek Sunday blog. #SPeekSunday on Twitter and Facebook.


Weekend Sneak Peek 4/26: Sarya’s Song

Welcome to another weekend sneak peek! In this scene from Sarya’s Song, Adan is being punished for attacking Master Uldo over something that Uldo did to Sarya, and Sarya has come to offer moral support:

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Adan was kneeling in the center aisle before the altar, wearing only a pair of knee-length linen underdrawers, chanting the tropes of repentance in an undertone. Sarya looked at his lean, muscular back. His skin had a natural light bronze tone, and there was a dusting of freckles across the tops of his shoulders. She wondered what his back would feel like under her hands. Then, appalled, she scolded herself. The man was in Penance because of her; she was here to offer support, not to lust after him. She was only having those feelings because she was slightly – just very slightly – drunk and she had never seen his bare back before.

Carefully turning her mind to more virtuous thoughts, she examined his back for signs that he had been lashed too hard. In the low light, she couldn’t see any sign of lashing at all. The Hierarch must have been smart enough to not put Master Uldo in charge of Adan’s Penance. That would have been a disaster.

She tore her eyes away from Adan’s back. “Idiot,” she said. “You didn’t have to go and get yourself in trouble on my account.”

He stopped chanting. “It’s no trouble.”

“Why did you do it?”

“If you don’t know, there’s no point in me trying to explain it to you.”



Sarya‘s Song is available at:
Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA
Apple | Smashwords | OmniLit

For more sneak peeks, visit the Sneak Peek Sunday blog.