Writing Strengths and Weaknesses: The Art of Double-Edged Swords

Sometimes, we build our characters up in our heads. We get so enamored with them, with all their beauty and powers, that maybe they get a little overpowered.

Which might make for a too-easy victory.

I tend to do the opposite, falling for their weaknesses, the things that make them human and relatable, and breaking them down maybe a little too much.

But luckily, this little trick cuts both ways.

A character’s strength can also be their weakness, and vice versa.

It all comes down to the situation, how they perceive themselves, and their ability to harness (or combat) aspects of their personality.

Personalities and psyches are strange, complicated things, and life is no simple matter. A person with a generous spirit may give too much and wear themselves out. A person who tends toward extreme caution may save the life of a friend by warning them of dangers otherwise unthought of by a normal person.

So, if you’re struggling to flesh out your character, take the big defining features of their personality, and look at those things in different lights. Twist them up and drop them into new circumstances.

In case it sounds like I’m talking in circles (because making strengths into weaknesses and weaknesses into strengths can kinda become a circle), here are a couple examples.

In A Heart of Salt & Silver, I played with this a lot. So much so that it made it into the title. Salt and silver are the things that can kill demons/demi-demons (Ness) and silver kills werewolves (Nolan) thus, a heart made of those things is just saying that they’re their own worst enemies. Which… they definitely are.

Nolan is a werewolf, a veteran of several wars, and an former slave. Now, he goes out of his way to help others, to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

Sounds like a pretty solid strength, right?

What could go wrong?

Maybe running out in the middle of a meal with the woman you love to go galivanting into gods know what sort of conflict isn’t the best thing, but it fits with that “strength,” that hero complex. She’ll understand, right?

Unless she has virtually no self-worth to begin with and that desertion ritual happens over and over… and over… and over.

It becomes a weakness pretty quickly in that light, breaking a relationship into pieces.

As for Ness and her complete lack of self-worth… She sees herself as less than human. She’s half demon, so she’s not quite human, but she isn’t less than anything. She’s actually insanely powerful. But she thinks herself some beast that doesn’t deserve to exist.

She doesn’t think anyone could ever want her around or ever find value for her.

Pretty obvious weakness, right?

It certainly is in most circumstances, and it definitely played a role in splitting up her relationship with Nolan.

But it means that she considers her actions from perspectives other than her own, considering what others want or need and tempering the violent emotions that can so easily overthrow the fragile self-control of demons and demi-demons.

Which makes it a twisted kind of strength.

The way she copes with that weakness makes her a better person to be around.

So, when writing your characters, don’t forget that their defining traits can be used for and against them, depending on the situation.


Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

How to Survive (And Succeed in) Camp NaNoWriMo

It’s almost here. Do you have a goal set? Are you intimidated by the whole thing?

If so, you’re definitely not alone.

Goals have this way of either putting us on edge or spurring us into action. Or both.

But there are some ways to make it easier on yourself to meet your goal.

Realistic goals

The most important thing you can do to save your sanity is to make realistic goals, otherwise you’ll just intimidate yourself and shoot yourself in the foot before you even get started.

Think back and figure up what your average is for writing. Then, total that up for the month, and add a realistic amount if you want to push yourself. If you want to push yourself to maintain your average on a daily basis, come up with the total and set that as your goal.

Find your down time

Every household has a natural lull. For some, it’s right after kids go to bed. For some, it’s early in the morning before anyone else gets up for the day.

Figure out when that lull is and use it to your advantage. Set that time aside as your writing time.

Prioritize

Treat this like a priority. This may mean giving up an hour of tv a day. It may mean spending less time on social media.

But if you make your writing a priority, it gets easier to keep up with.

Do one or two small, high impact chores first

Sometimes, getting something stereotypically considered “productive” out of the way first helps assuage the guilt and anxiety of taking the time for yourself. (Guilt and anxiety that you should probably work on tackling, because you don’t need to feel guilty about taking time to pursue your passions, but that’s a topic for another day.)

So, choose a quick, high impact chore, and do it first. Load the dishwasher, clean the counter in the bathroom. Something quick that makes a much larger difference in terms of mental state than we typically give it credit for.

Breathe

This is meant to be a fun endeavor. If you fall behind, try not to sweat it because at the end of the day, you’re still making progress with something you’re enjoying.

Join a group

There are many writing groups out there who do special chats, threads, or posts geared toward helping writers survive the NaNo process and spur people on to meet their goals.

My favorites are World Indie Warriors (Website, Facebook Members Group, Facebook Page, Instagram) and The Writer Community (Instagram, Website).

Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary process. Having writer friends to vent to or celebrate with can make all the difference.


Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

How to Write Guns in Your Books

Sometimes, the bad guy just needs a hole put through them, care of: a bullet. It’s an unavoidable reality in some genres. (Post-apocalyptic/apocalytpic, dystopian, suspense, crime thrillers, etc.)

But if you haven’t been around them, guns can seem like a whole other world.

And they kinda are.

But I have a few tips/things to consider to help you write guns into your books without eliciting eye rolls and groans from people who know about guns.

So let’s start simply.

And also with the disclaimer that this should be used for writing purposes. Not for actual violence in the real world.

You don’t need to get uber specific.

Unless you’re writing military fiction, most readers aren’t going to give a shit what the exact model and history of the gun is. Unless it’s relative to the story, you probably don’t need to talk about the Winchester house and the ghosts it’s meant to confuse. You don’t need the serial number or the production history, either.

In most instances, you can supply the caliber and type of gun and be just fine. (9mm pistol, for example)

If your character is comfortable with guns, setting aside the amount of research you need to do, they’ll probably refer to them by caliber. If they have a couple guns in that caliber, they’ll likely refer to them by brand.

So, “The Beretta,” or “The .45.”

Mobility

Everyone knows the scene in the movies where the quirky character has to disarm themselves and pulls one weapon after another out of pockets and holsters and boots.

But if you’re not going for comedy, if you want any realism at all, you need to consider how mobile your character needs to be.

If they’re going to be stationary, set up within a guard post or something, go ahead and give them an armory if you want.

But.

Carrying a shotgun, a rifle, two pistols, two revolvers, a machete, and a couple other knives is not only overkill, but it’s massively impractical and the weight will add up.

Good luck moving without banging weapons together.

Good luck switching between those weapons quickly.

And good fucking luck reloading (since all your pockets are going to be covered up by guns).

Which brings me to…

Weight of ammo

That shit isn’t weightless. Bullets may be light, but they add up.

So, if you decide to have a character that carries ridiculous amounts of ammo, it will bog them down. Even more so if it’s loaded into a ton of magazines for easy reloading.

Given a reasonable magazine capacity of 10 (more if you get a banana clip or a drum for an assault rifle), those will add up, too.

And who has that many pockets?

Certainly not a female.

For the sake of some realism, here’s an article with ammo weights, easily found with a quick google search.

Certain gun for a certain job

So, let’s say you’re brand new to guns. Some things to consider:

Shotguns are typically better up close. Bird shot and buck shot are comprised of lots of little balls that spread out. The closer the target, the more of those little balls will hit.

Pistols are good up close (up to 25 yards), but headshots are not as easy as movies make them out to be, even less so if the target is moving. Center mass (torso) is much better and just as effective, unless your character is shooting zombies.

Revolvers are also a close range thing, but not as practical as pistols simply because they hold fewer rounds.

Rifles are good for long range, but you should get the scope sighted in. They can be pretty unwieldy in close quarters and have a big ass barrel that can be batted away or grabbed and controlled.

Automatic weapons are hard/next to impossible to come by legally. I don’t know of anywhere off the top of my head that allows civilians to have them, at least not in the United States.

Machine guns are incredibly heavy, not that carrying them is a great option. You can do it in Fallout, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. A submachine gun kinda solves that problem. In either case, they burn through ammo fast. (Obviously.)

Larger caliber bullets hit harder, but typically don’t go as far as fast and will tumble at a distance.

Smaller rounds travel faster, farther, and are typically more accurate. But they don’t have as much stopping power.

So consider the gun and ammo your character needs for the situation you’ve dropped them into.

Recoil

A light gun with a high caliber ammo is going to kick. A lot.

A gun with some weight to it will have less recoil.

A .22 rifle has virtually no recoil.

Higher gauge rifles can and will kick and split the skin on your face if you hold your face too close to the scope.

You need to consider your character’s proficiency with weapons and their upper body strength when choosing their weapon.

How common?

This isn’t so much of a problem if the character has ready access. But in a post-apocalyptic situation, you should probably stick to common rounds.

9mm, .22, LR, 12 gauge, .308, and .223 are the most common.

If you’re wanting to circumvent this by having your character fire reloaded bullets, note that some guns will not fire reloaded rounds. They’ll jam up every time.

Some are even machined to prevent the use of reloaded rounds, ostensibly for quality control and safety, but if you’re into conspiracy theories about capitalism and market manipulation, it could also be to make sure people have to keep buying ammo.

Now, go forth and write your books a little more accurately.

This is by no means a comprehensive guide. As I stated at the outset, firearms are their own world.

If you’re planning to write a character that knows a lot about them or uses them frequently, you should do some serious research.

But I hope this was a good jumping off point.


Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

Why You Should Just Start Writing Already

There’s this fear among new writers that they just aren’t good enough to write the books they have ideas for.

Some want to start with short stories to ease into writing. And if that helps you, go for it. But short stories are a different skill set altogether.

But for most, it isn’t that short stories are the best introduction to writing. It’s just fear.

And I get it.

Writing a book is a daunting task.

But here’s why you should just write the book already.

You have to start somewhere.

If you never start, you’ll never finish. That book will not write itself, believe it or not.

And all the intricate subplots and character arcs that make the book “too complex for a new writer” might fade from memory before you ever actually sit down to write.

And let’s face it, you won’t get better if you don’t practice.

That story idea might be the least complicated story you ever come up with, and it may be the perfect way to practice for the more complex ones that come later.

Some writers say that you don’t get good until about… ten books in.

Because you haven’t practiced enough yet.

That doesn’t mean the first book will be hopeless.

Editing and rewriting are major parts of writing a book. Everyone’s first draft sucks, and the part that comes after writing the rough draft actually takes far longer.

But that’s the part that helps you learn.

Critique partners, alpha readers, and beta readers can help point out your strengths and weaknesses, that way you know what you actually need to work on.

Then, you do more editing.

And more.

And more.

Then, you enlist a professional editor, and they show you what you’ve missed.

So, your current skill level is not the skill level you’ll finish your book at. You’ll grow and get better, and by the time your book is done (not just written, but done), it’ll be what you want it to be, regardless of your current skills.

But you have to start writing.

Because that’s how you’ll improve and more importantly, how you’ll find your voice, the thing that keeps people coming back to your books again and again.


Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

Why You Should Stop Talking Shit About Your Work

It’s no secret that writers get down on their work. It kinda comes with the territory. We creatives have very few objective standards by which to measure our work, so our imaginations (which are obviously very active) team up with anxiety to make us feel bad.

And while transparency is a good thing for the sake of connecting with other writers and appearing human and relatable in the eyes of readers, there comes a point when it becomes detrimental to any potential connections.

After a certain point, it just becomes either a pity party or shit talking.

Neither of those will win you brownie points.

So where’s the line between transparency and self-deprecation?

It’s right between, “I’ve been feeling discouraged,” and, “My work is terrible.”

The former is a good approach to openness. The latter… not so much.

Tell your readers how you’ve been feeling about the writing process. Share the specific challenges that you’re facing. Don’t just say that your book is awful or that no one will ever want to read it or that it doesn’t matter.

Readers like seeing behind the curtain. There are so many aspects of being a writer that non-writers never hear about and would never guess at. The complications of advertising, the struggles of plotting or pantsing, the seemingly unending marathon that is editing, the tedium of formatting and uploading, the heartbreak of querying…

Most non-writers have no idea.

Get into the nitty gritty and tell them what you’re facing. Let them into your world.

Just don’t trash talk yourself.

But why should you avoid talking shit about your work?

Well, the aforementioned affect that pity parties can have on readers is a pretty big reason. You want people to want to interact with you. You want readers to want to see your posts and read your captions.

And since people can usually tell when someone goes fishing for compliments, that’s not a great thing to do.

But there are other reasons, too.

Your mindset matters.

The way you talk about your work will effect your perception of it. The words we use are powerful and can reinforce or alter our beliefs regarding our work.

Saying, “I’m discouraged because I don’t know what scene comes next,” addresses the real issue and allows you to confront what’s really going on while connecting with others in a real, human way.

Saying, “I’m a shit writer who can’t even write another scene, let alone finish this book or write something anyone will want to read,” does no good. It doesn’t address any actual problems. It’s over-dramatic for no reason.

And not only will it make you feel worse, if done often, it very well could chase away readers or scare away other writers from interacting with you.

If you’re running an author platform, chances are, you want readers coming in, not leaving, and you probably want to make friends with fellow writers. Be open and vulnerable, yes. But don’t trash talk your book or yourself.

You should be a cheerleader for your work.

And not just because you want readers. Writing is a passion project, first and foremost. The vast majority of writers do this for the love of writing, not because it pays millions and millions of dollars. (Because it usually doesn’t.)

If you don’t like your story, if you don’t like your characters, why are you writing that story? Write something you like, something you can speak positively and passionately about.


Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

An Indie Author’s Guide to Repackaging a Book

One of the brilliant things about being an indie author is that you can repackage your book whenever you need to. Covers, trim sizes, fonts, whatever you want to change, you can change it.

Traditional publishers do this for you, or without you, picking and choosing the cover (sometimes consulting you on the matter).

But for an indie, repackaging a book means a lot of work.

So, how do you know if you need to do it?

Without a team of experts in a big time publishing company to make the decision to repackage a book, it can be hard to tell. So today, we’re covering a few circumstances wherein you might benefit from repackaging your book, starting with the most dire circumstances.

Unprofessional

If your book cover does not look professional, something reviewers and bloggers will likely point out, you NEED to repackage your book.

Your cover is the most important piece of marketing material you have. It’s everywhere that your book is. It’s in all your promotional material.

If it looks like it was whipped up in a matter of minutes by someone with no clue as to what they’re doing, it will turn readers away.

Your cover doesn’t match your genre

It’s important to stand out from other books. But your cover should lend itself to your genre.

If your book is a cozy mystery but the cover looks more like a fantasy romance, first of all, how? Second, you’ll be drawing in the wrong types of readers.

People who would be interested in your book likely won’t give it a second glance, whereas the people drawn in by the fantasy cover will turn away after reading the blurb.

It has nothing to do with the story

Your cover needs to reflect the type of story the book contains. And this goes beyond genre. This gets into subgenres and tropes.

Magical orbs fit fantasy, but they should not appear on the cover of a low fantasy book (fantasy minus magic).

A sci-fi novel without a single romance subplot shouldn’t have a couple on the cover about to kiss or a topless dude posing for the camera. Those things draw in romance readers looking for at least a subplot of love.

Which might lead to disappointment once they start reading and find none in the book.

Now, on to the less dire circumstances that might require a book to be repackaged.

Branding

Whether you’re going for a consistent art style, color palette, or font choices, branding is important. It lets readers know that a book is yours before they ever see your name on it.

If they recognize your style on the cover and they know they can trust you, trust your work, that’s an easier sale.

If you’re redoing your brand (or just realizing that branding can apply to book covers), this is a good reason to pick out a new cover.

It isn’t make or break. It won’t destroy your career if your book covers don’t all match in some way. But having them look cohesive can help.

This is especially important in series. Outside of a series, it could just be a tendency toward a specific color palette and the use of a certain font for your author name.

New Edition

If you’ve added a significant amount of content to your book, enough to constitute a new edition, then a new cover could help readers differentiate between the two.

Book birthday celebration

If your book has reached its first birthday, maybe celebrate with a shiny new cover?

I’ve done this for most of mine, updating the covers as a celebration and to keep up with current genre tendencies.

Special edition/Limited edition

If you want to generate a bit of buzz and have a backup cover that you didn’t use, there’s always the option of running that cover for a little while as a special edition/limited edition.

Just keep in mind that if a seller has already ordered a few copies, they’ll ship those out first before ordering any copies with the new cover. A workaround for this is to set up a different book altogether, with a separate ISBN, to sell the limited edition cover copies.

Now, there are other times to change covers. This is not a comprehensive list, by any means. But keep in mind that you should do so strategically. Changing the cover every other week could drive your readers bonkers.

But doing so every now and then provides you with an opportunity to bring your book back out into the public eye. It’s an event, just like the original cover reveal.


Check out my series on making book covers the right way. Part One, Two, and Three.


Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

The Inspiration of Allmother Rising

Ideas for books can come from anywhere. Annabelle came from a figurine made of starched doilies. Soul Bearer came from a dream and a character floating around in my head.

But Allmother Rising sprang from the same strange well that A Heart of Salt & Silver came from.

Anxiety and an inability to fall asleep.

Basically, there’s this thing I do when I can’t sleep. I close my eyes and just picture a random character, sometimes two. Then, I just let the scene fill in around them.

It gives my mind something to focus on, drawing my attention away from the million things my anxiety is grasping at and holding my focus in one place.

That helps me relax, which helps me sleep.

If I like them or their scene, I come back to them the next night.

If I like the character but not the scene, I let them live in my brain for a while until I find a world for them.

That’s what happened with Aurisye from Soul Bearer. I liked her but the world I’d pictured wasn’t right. So I kept her until I found a world for her.

Aurisye was an outsider, so filling in the world around her took a little longer.

But Veliana of Allmother Rising is so much a part of her world that the scene that filled in around her was perfect. She is connected to all of it. The history of her world, her goddess, the animals, the trees all around… She’s connected to every last bit.

And when Tyrvahn waltzed into that scene, he fit too, connected in a different way.

After only a couple nights of thinking about their scene, I started writing. I had to tweak that initial scene, of course, once I learned about Veliana’s broken heart and Tyrvahn’s recent losses. The way they saw each other shifted, and I had to reflect that.

But the bare bones of how they met were born in anxiety and sleepless nights. And once I wrote that scene, the rest of the story followed quickly on its heels.

Now, I did have to go back a bit first. There were scenes I had to add to explain why they were both in an abandoned temple in the middle of the forest.

But only a few chapters.

So chapter (THREE OR FOUR, CHECK!) Is what started the book.

As I wrote their journey to save their Realm, we found Garle and Kivala somewhere along the way. They made the whole picture complete, filling in gaps I didn’t even realize were there until we found them.

All together, they made the book complete.

I’ll be going live on release day (Tuesday May 25th) at 3pm Eastern for a reading of the scene that inspired the whole book and for a Q&A session.

Don’t forget to order your copy while the ebook is on sale! It’ll be 99 cents until June 1st.

Hardbacks are also available, and paperbacks will be soon.

You can find it on Amazon here and add it on Goodreads here.


Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

Animal Companions in Allmother Rising

I don’t normally have a lot of animals in the forefront of my books, something I’ve only realized recently. They’re there, and they play their role. But only on occasion are they major players in the plot.

Allmother Rising is one of those occasions. This book features animal companions. Specifically…

Mares and bears and wolves, oh my!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Anyway, the book features companion animals whose energies have been tied to certain families by their goddess as both a gift and a way to further connect them to her. (See this post for more about those ties and the Allmother.)

And these aren’t just normal animals. They’re about two or three times the size of their normal cousins and have increased strength, endurance, and intelligence.

The leaders of Fahn were tied to Bears. The leaders of Jun were tied to Mares. And the leaders of Kin were tied to Dire Wolves.

But now, only Kin retains that connection to their companions.

Though to be fair, Fahn didn’t choose to sever their bond as Jun did.

The people of Jun moved beyond the sacred forest into the plains and the rocky shorelines to the north. But that took them beyond the Allmother’s reach and into the waiting arms of Aia, a greedy, jealous god.

He pushed them to crave power, to crave wealth and ‘progress’ even at the cost of the world around them. They cut down trees without replanting, severing their tie to the Allmother, and he tightened his grip on their hearts.

The Mares, companions to the royal family, were highly coveted. The common people wanted Mares of their own, wanted beasts to do the work of seven normal animals, creatures that could carry them faster, further.

And they became items used to show favor or for trade.

Slowly, the royal family whittled away their connection to the Mares until finally, they traded away the last one and the final bond broke.

But Aia already controlled their hearts, and ensured that they never felt the loss for what it truly was. They saw only the power those trades afforded them, not the connection severed with nature and more importantly, the Allmother’s realm.

After generations of intermingling with normal horses, their wondrous size and stamina diminished, and the great Mares were no more, lost to the greed of Aia and corrupted mortals.

As for the people of Fahn, they revered their bears, treated them well.

Until the Absorption.

In the middle of the night, Jun invaded Fahn lands, burning their homes and cutting down their trees. The leaders were killed, severing the connection and turning the people into refugees. They ran from the fires, from the bloodshed. They hid in Jun, painting their antlers to disguise themselves. They lived in plain sight within the borders of Kin.

And the bears still roam the woods, waiting, hoping for a new connection.

But now, a new king has claimed the throne of Jun, shedding the blood of his family and sending assassins after his nephew to do so. And his sights are set on Kin.

Veliana, the Priestess Rising, loves her dire wolf companion, Tala.

But if Jun absorbs her lands, there may be nothing left of the pack. Or Kin.



Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

Excerpts and Preorder Giveaway News!

Since the grand prize winner of the Allmother Rising preorder giveaway will receive a free ebook copy of one of my other books (in addition to the swag pack), I wanted to share excerpts from each one to help you pick.

In case you found this blog before seeing the post about the giveaway, I’ll be choosing three winners on release day, May 25th, 2021.

Two winners will receive a sticker, magnet, and signature plate (all custom designed for Allmother Rising), as well as three bookmarks (one for A Heart of Salt & Silver, one for World for the Broken, and one of my special author bookmarks).

The grand prize winner will receive all of the above plus a free ebook copy of one of my previous books (their choice of which one).

All it takes to enter is to send me confirmation of your preorder. Screenshots are acceptable. (Please, crop/blur/draw over/block out all account info.) If you haven’t preordered yet, you can do so here.

Now that the official stuff is out of the way, it’s time for some excerpts to help you decide on a book.


A Heart of Salt & Silver
Dark Paranormal High Fantasy Romance

Rising to my feet, I prepare to leave the tavern, ready to forsake my empty stomach. After all, we haven’t seen these beasts since the revolution, and their creation can’t bode well. We need to find them and dispatch them.

But worry creases Alina’s brow.

“Please,” she begs. “At least eat, first.”

Her words echo in Ness’ voice, reverberating in my mind, and for a second, I’m not in the dark, musty tavern. I’m in Ness’ cottage, just about to eat. My bones shiver, and I rise to the call. I don’t know if Orwen and Nissa will need me, specifically, but I can’t shrug off the possibility.

I didn’t know at the time that one of our commuter members had nearly been killed in Roarn. I didn’t know that it was part of a bigger tension between Roarn and another city-state. I just knew trouble was brewing, and I needed to help.

For me, not for anyone else. I needed to help.

“Please,” I can still hear Ness say, voice so small I could barely hear it. “At least eat, first.”

But I left.

Her face, downtrodden and misty-eyed as I held her close, kissing her goodbye, pierces my heart.

Now, in this little tavern, many years too late to fix the hurt in Ness’ heart as I rushed off to play hero for the hundredth time, I sit back down.

“Thank you,” Alina says.

But this isn’t for her.

If I’m ev’r goin’ ta get Ness back, I have ta learn ta be… present.

My eyes close, shutting out the shaking in my bones as the howls roll through me. I grit my teeth against the pain gnawing at my heart.

As if I’ll ev’r get her back…


Soul Bearer
Dark High Fantasy Romance
Free in KU

Spinning slowly, Aurisye looks at everything around her. Chaos rules the land as the great red beast rules the air. Another roar threatens to shatter her eardrums, quickly followed by another stream of fire as the dragon flies overhead, so close that Aurisye could count its scales if it would only hold still.

She reaches out, passes a hand through the tip of its tail as it passes her. The dragon roars so loudly that, for a moment after, the world loses all sound. A high-pitched ringing sound punctuates everything, chasing away the screams and the crashing of buildings falling in upon themselves.

Up above, the dragon executes a perfect hair-pin turn and rockets itself toward Aurisye. Yellow eyes shining in the firelight, it stares straight at her, the only being here capable of seeing her. Each flap of its wings fans the fires all around, sending them climbing even higher into the atmosphere. Jaw dropping, it prepares to launch a blazing assault on Aurisye.

In an instant, she snaps back into her body, sitting bolt upright on the roof of her cottage. Her chest heaves with choppy breaths, pulling nothing but panic into her lungs. Her heart races, and she puts a hand to her chest to calm it.

Only then does she notice the soft red light coming from the mark on her arm. Her world goes cold. She pulls the sleeve of her jacket down to cover it, hoping it didn’t draw any undue attention.


World for the Broken
Dark (and I mean dark) Post-Apocalyptic Romance

“So, you’re just giving those antibiotics to me? And helping me…without expecting anything in return?” I ask, allowing some of my skepticism to show through.

“No. I’m asking for something.”

Chloe’s response unsettles me and eases my mind at the same time. After all, it is the end of the world. Everyone expects something in return. For some reason, I’d just been hoping she was better than that.

Somewhat wary, I ask, “What do you want?”

“Don’t make me regret this.”

Five very simple words, ordinary in every way and wholly within reason. But something in her eyes makes me believe she’s taking a much bigger chance on me than just helping out a stranger in the apocalypse.


The Gem of Meruna
Dark High Fantasy Romance
Free in KU

Dropping her pack beside the river, she washed her food in the cool water and settled down to eat. With no bowl, she used the bottom of her shirt to hold the fruit and vegetable mixture. Yet again, she found herself wishing other Leey could know such peace. She quickly ate her words, though.

In the distance, she heard the sounds of something walking through the forests. She couldn’t tell what it was, but she knew it was somewhere across the river. Dumping the remaining fruits and vegetables into a pocket of her pack, she slung it over her shoulder and scurried out of sight.

Heart pounding against her ribs, she ducked behind the bushes surrounding a young tree. She dared steal a glance across, saw only rustling underbrush, and decided to climb as far into the tree as she could. The lowest branch was barely within reach when she jumped, and she struggled to haul her light frame into the branches. She didn’t stop climbing until she was several branches higher, and still, she hesitated to peer across the river.

Much to her surprise, what emerged from the bushes on the other side wasn’t a Chalkie. Yet, her relief was minor, for she couldn’t expect this Leey to be friendly. She knew to keep her guard up, stay hidden, and wait in the tree as long as need be.

Even if it meant camping there for the night.


Annabelle
Vigilante Justice Thriller (set in a Western)
Free in KU

I walk along the main road of another dirty western town and sashay past the saloon, knowing my prey follows close behind. My silken yellow dress and all of its lace flows behind me, trailing in the dust.

I hear him getting closer but pretend to be so absorbed in the folds of my parasol that I don’t notice. Really, I’m checking over the mechanisms concealed within it, making sure that everything is in working order.

I turn down a bare alleyway as the sun begins to dip below the horizon. He follows. Still, I pretend not to notice that anything at all is amiss. A smile spreads across my features.


Whew. That was a lot more than I expected when I got the idea for this blog. Lol.

Every book listed is a standalone, though I’ll be writing another book in the same world as A Heart of Salt & Silver in the future, and The Gem of Meruna is in the same universe as my current WIP, The Regonia Chronicles.


Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

Power Dynamics in Allmother Rising

Every world has its own unique power dynamic, and there are a few in my upcoming novel.

There are, of course, the gods. The Allmother created and encompasses everything, even the other god, her son, Aia. Both are powerful, but as the younger god, Aia is less so.

Both have the ability twist the heart of a mortal to their whim. Both can compel mortals to act. Only one chooses to use that ability.

And only one chooses to bestow portions of their power upon mortals to aid them.

The gods exist within a separate plane, one that the Allmother’s followers can visit via a form of astral projection when in need of guidance. But only certain people possess a strong enough connection to do so and see it clearly.

Namely, those of the Vierna lineage. Thus, they became the leaders of Kin. A High Priest and High Priestess lead, governing according to the Allmother’s will. Their child is born to the title Priest/Priestess Rising and is raised to the responsibility of protecting and guiding an entire nation.

The leaders of Jun and Fahn were once able to visit Her realm and perceive it clearly. But Jun fell away from Her, establishing a monarchy and moving into lands where Aia could manipulate them without their knowing. Then, they overran Fahn, sending those peaceful people scattering, transforming them into desperate refugees.

And they all lost their sight of Her.

But how are they connected? And what’s in that other plane of existence?

You know that warm amber light just before sunset or just after sunrise? That exact light fills the plane, and everywhere, there are gleaming silver strands. They reach in every direction, linking glittering silver balls of energy.

The ropes are the connections between people. Family, friendships, partnerships. The energies are the people themselves, their spirits, and their names are emblazoned on them in brilliant blue letters in the Allmother’s language.

The leaders, the original leading families, are directly connected to the Allmother herself. As such, the rope that ties them to their ancestors (and to her) is substantially thicker than those which connect mortals to other mortals. This allows them to better see Her… and to better channel Her powers.

But there’s a problem in Jun.

And I want to include an excerpt from the book to show you. This scene takes place immediately after Veliana and Tyrvahn meet. She asks his name, and he hesitates. Then, this: (Tala is Veliana’s dire wolf, btw.)

~~~

“Tahrn,” he finally answers, but the Allmother’s light dims behind his eyes as he speaks it.

Tala lifts her head, tipping it to the side.

But why would he lie about his name? Whatever the reason, it can’t be good…

“Tahrn,” I repeat, tasting the falsehood. “Do you know the power of a name?”

“Life or death?” The smile vanishes from his face, and he takes another bite of the deer jerky. He studies it closely, unwilling to meet my gaze.

My brows furrow, and I stare at him, wondering at his odd answer.

Is he a wanted man?

Yet again, a strange little shiver dances down my spine, defying all reason.

But… A wanted man beneath the rule of Paikon? That might not be… entirely bad.

“In some cases, I suppose it could be a matter of life or death.” Taking a deep breath, I extoll the true purpose of our names. “Surnames tie the energy of one to those of others. The Allmother laces people together with names. When we Kin are sealed, we inherit each other’s names and are tied to each other’s families. Children inherit blended names. Only the High Seal is an exception.”

A bolt of lightning flashes outside, a mimicry of that which tingled across my skin when our hands brushed.

Stop thinking about it.

Thunder rumbles outside. I wait it out before speaking, giving myself a moment to gather my thoughts.

Glancing at him, I continue, “The Vierna name is always handed down whole, maintaining a perfect connection throughout the Rising line, and a blended surname of all the Sealed forebears accompanies it.”

Under his breath, the stranger says, “Veliana Vierna Alaken.”

I nod, surprised that he knows all three of my names.

“Your kind weigh and measure bonds. The surname which affords them more power is kept, and the other is discarded. Names and power divide your land.”

He finally meets my gaze, and his mouth falls open at my assessment of his country. But he nods, unable to deny it.

Self-conscious about my rambling, I bring myself around to the point, “Given names are different. When a child is named, the Allmother braids their given name into the core of their energy. Denying your given name denies your energy, dimming your connection to the Allmother.”

I watch his chest rise with a sharp breath and tell myself that I’m only measuring his reaction. But even after he exhales, my eyes linger in the hollows of his collarbones, just barely visible, peeking out at the open collar of his shirt.

He nods slowly, and little drops of rainwater fall from his hair. Outside, the rain slows, and the winds die down.

“Now, knowing the power that your name holds, knowing how it hurts your energy to deny it, who are you?”

~~~

Jun chooses which name advances them politically when they’re sealed (married). But in abandoning a surname, the rope connecting them to those others in the Allmother’s realm is severed, cutting them off from others in their community and in an indirect way, from Her.

Which leaves more room for Aia to move into their hearts and control them.


Preorder Allmother Rising here.

Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).