Art showcase: other people’s work

I drew exactly one crappy pic this week, and that’s not enough to make a blog post out of. So, have some other people’s art! Everything is credited as best as I can.

Artist – Andrey Bogachev Russian Painter.
Waning moon by Warwick Fuller
Artist – Gelena Pavlenko Ukrainian Painter.
Artist – Ralph James American Painter.
Artist – Kathleen Dunphy American Painter.
Painting by Dawn E. Whitelaw

All art picked up from Samuel Cherubin’s Facebook account, where he shares art from tons of artists every day.

Book launch: Vid:ilantes book 2 – Bloodbound

I’m so excited to announce that the second Vid:ilantes book is live!

One by oath, one by blood, one by election.

In a world of superheroes, Jayesh has a rare healing power that he uses in the local hospital. When teenagers are admitted with feather-patterns burned into their backs, Jayesh is reluctantly drawn into the underworld of black market magic smuggling.
A chance encounter with Omniscient, the villain in charge of the smugglers, leaves Jayesh with his magic shattered. A portal to the hospital goes wrong and Jayesh is instead sent to an island in another dimension: an island that has awaited its Bloodbound for centuries. In exchange for healing, he is magically bound to the island, and half his magic is turned into a tiny dragon.
Now, with the help of the Islesworn, James Chase, Jayesh must go undercover to recover the mysterious Pandora. But this means facing off with Omniscient, a villain who can bring a person’s fears to life—and who is increasingly ruled by his own power.

Grab it here!


This is one of those stories that was just so much fun to write. Jayesh is the gentle, quiet, introverted type, very much a healer. And he goes and gets himself into very hot water, just because of trying to do the right thing. I wrote it as an escape, mostly, so all the parts where he hangs out on the island Sanctuary, just walking on the beach or resting, were because I wanted to go to a place like that, myself. I hope readers enjoy the visit as much as I did. I’m already messing with a followup because I just can’t leave this universe alone.

The third book in the trilogy will take it full circle and plug everything into the After Atlantis trilogy. Tane might even appear in Bloodbound. Everybody from After Atlantis will meet up with the Vid:ilantes, and things are going to get really crazy.

Guardian’s Wager launch

Today, the third book in the After Atlantis trilogy is live! These books have been a long time coming, and I’m so excited to have the whole trilogy finally out there.


All’s quiet on Mercury Island after the events of GUARDIAN’S VOW, but Tane has not forgotten Gladiolus, her curse, or his role in breaking it.

But an old threat has arisen–the scientists responsible for the alterations done to Cirrus and Maria have returned. They are eager to recapture their old experiments … and their descendants. They promise Gladiolus a breakthrough treatment for her blind eye, circumventing the curse. Accepting this treatment means Gladiolus must leave her old life behind, including Tane and the Atlantean Islands.

But the monster who laid the curse cannot be thwarted so easily, and accelerates Gladiolus’s sickness in revenge for her choice. Now Tane must rescue Gladiolus from the curse, and his friends from the clutches of the scientists, and he’ll need the full might of Mercury Island’s superweapon to do it. Available on most retailers here!


Book 1 is available here and book 2 is available here, in case you’d like to start from the beginning.

These books have been languishing on my hard drive for two years, awaiting edits and nice covers. Thanks to my husband (a ferocious editor who holds my feet to the fire) and my friend Sherri who is an eagle-eyed copyeditor, I’m confident that these books are ready for primetime.

They also represent my writing struggle of two years ago. Two years ago, I was burned out on writing and publishing. I’d trained myself to outline a book before writing it, and only churned out sub-par stories. The fun was somehow gone. I couldn’t seem to achieve the depth and fun I’d had while writing fanfics as a teen. As a teen, I’d written without an outline, just chasing the characters and plot through all the logical twists and turns of their choices and actions. And I’d written some glorious stuff. What had happened? Was I losing my ability?

Turns out, my brain works best with no outline and a sandbox to play in. I wrote these three books as one long story, just re-learning how to write in a way that gave me joy. These books do have some rough edges that I chose not to remove, because they’re artifacts of my learning process as I was rediscovering my joy.

And the whole trilogy is basically an inverted Beauty and the Beast story, only with superpowers and hecking big lasers. I described book 2 as “Beauty and the Beast with Serenity’s ending.” You know that scene at the end of Serenity when the doors open and River is standing on a pile of bodies with two dripping weapons in her hands? Yeah, that, only with less blood.

So now, this trilogy is finished. And it’s time to shift over to Vid:ilantes, another series in the same world that will dovetail into the After Atlantis books. I’m looking forward to writing a crossover, when my American superheroes and my Atlantean heroes inevitably meet and clash. It will be glorious.

Good storytelling owns all

No art to show this week! I’m working on some, but it’s not done. Maybe next week.

Meanwhile, I wanted to write about something that I don’t want to write about. I’ve been dragging my feet on writing this blog post. Because I don’t want to admit that maybe, just maybe, all of the education I’ve given myself on how 2 rite gud is more or less worthless.

I won’t say that learning story structure and characterization and grammar and the rest of it is meaningless. That’s the basics of the craft, after all. All those are important for a writer to know.

But there’s a vast chasm between writing and storytelling. And a good storyteller can tell a story despite their lack of craft chops.

This is a hard pill for me to swallow. I’m a literary snob. When people misspell things or use bad grammar, I snicker at them. This author actually said “She was such a beautiful site”. Haha.

And then those books go on to be bestsellers. My literary snobdom means nothing.

When I was in high school, one of my assigned reading books was Smokey the Cowhorse by James Will. At first, I thought it was the worst-written book I’d ever seen. Here is the first page.

As a know-it-all teen, I rolled my eyes at this vernacular. Oh gosh, what pile of trash am I reading THIS time? I moaned. But it was assigned, so I kept reading.

And wouldn’t you know, it turned out to be such a good story, a kind of Western Black Beauty, that I stopped noticing the vernacular. I was hooked, and to this day, this book remains one of those shining reads in my mind.

The other day, I was poking around fanfiction dot net for something decent to read. I ran across a Destiny story that sounded interesting, took a look, and after a few pages, was hooked. I read all ten chapters and I’m waiting breathlessly for more.

And yet, this is the first page.

There’s passive voice. There’s boring description. The paragraphs are long and dense. There’s very little dialogue. And yet, the story being told is absolutely riveting. You wouldn’t even know it’s Destiny, because it’s set about five hundred years before the game, after civilization has collapsed, and humanity is ruled by these warlords. It’s like medieval fantasy post apocalypse science fiction, and it’s great.

The writing, itself, is obtuse and hard to follow. But man, the story. I would drop cash to read this story. It’s called The Lords of Ambros, if you’d like to take a look.

All this is to say, the writing community obsesses about adverbs and character arcs and all the other minutiae of the craft. In the end, only story matters. As a literary snob, this galls me to say. But it’s true.

Failure: what drives the beta hero

Lately, I’ve found myself writing a lot about characters who are failures.

At this stage of my life, I’m now older than a whole lot of people. I have the leisure to look around at peoples’ lives, particularly the “failure” kinds. You know, the people who get on social media and weep that their book only sold four copies, so it’s a failure and they’re taking it down. And then they leave the group when people tell them to try harder.

Failure is such a nebulous thing. In school, you get a big fat F and have to repeat a class or rewrite a paper. That sucks. It’s like being slapped in the face. But all it means is that you didn’t meet a certain standard set by the teacher or the school. Kids don’t have this perspective. Failure is the END OF EVERYTHING OMG.

But once you become an adult, what is failure, really? When you go bankrupt? You’re still alive–you can start over. When your project doesn’t sell? When people say nasty things about you? What is the failure point? Those are all setbacks, not the END. The END is when you’re dead.

Success can feel like failure when it eats you alive and rockets you to an all new tax bracket. Talk to lottery winners about this.

So, in my pondering failures and what it means to fail, I sat down and wrote a superhero trilogy with a beta hero.

Beta males are fascinating to me, especially in a team dynamic. It’s the sidekick, the guy who is content to let somebody else lead. He usually has his own interests and ideas, but he keeps them to himself. He’s easy-going, and plays off the driven personality of the alpha male.

But what happens when the beta hero is forced to become the leader?

You guessed it: failure. Lots and lots of failure as he has to learn to make decisions. Sometimes he makes bad decisions because he’s not good at this leadership thing. This creates friction with his friends, and especially the previous alpha male, who can see the outcome of all these mistakes miles away and is gnashing his teeth at his friend’s perceived stupidity.

This is fun to play with in a superhero setting, because everyone on the team has some kind of power. They could all be leaders, and they all have ever-present stakes as they fight the resident supervillain. In a setting like this, forcing the beta male into an alpha role is even more devastating. He could get all his friends killed with one bad choice … and he carries this knowledge as a terrible burden.

So, I present to you Guardian’s Awakening, first book in the After Atlantis trilogy.

guardians-awakening-cover-f

Tane is the beta in his team of superheroes–the muscle who lets his team do the thinking. He and his friends defend their small town on the Atlantean Isles from the experimental robots of a neighboring mad scientist, earning enough bounty to live on.

When Tane discovers a mysterious gem that threatens to take over his mind, he accidentally drags his friends into becoming the crew of the mysterious Mercury Island. In addition, the island accepts Tane as its Guardian, making him the leader of the group. This sparks a cascade of conflicts between himself and the previous leader, Sebastian, who doubts and questions Tane at every turn. To make matters worse, they discover that a girl lies in stasis deep within the island–and she is the most powerful super of all.

Now Tane is in deeper and deeper trouble as the girl’s powers awaken, attracting the attention of supervillains and monsters alike. But she is the key to making Mercury Island fly again.

Tane has only begun to grow into his Guardian role, but his enemies–and allies–may kill him first.

Available here on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited


This book is a little heavier on the “Fantasy” end of superhero fantasy, but don’t worry. The next book will be heavier on the “superhero” end.

New dragon cozy–all the new things

I’ve been super busy the last week or so. Let me show you the list:

I’ve got the paperback of Malicious formatted and almost ready to go. Just waiting on my proof copy to show up. Not quite ready for sale yet, alas!

The whole Puzzle Box trilogy, Malevolent, Malcontent, and Malicious, are available in a single omnibus now. I’m debating turning it into a paperback, because it’s kind of a tome. For sale now on the platform of your choice! Except Smashwords. Smashwords is a pain.

I also got off my tush and finished the edits on the second dragon cozy mystery I’ve been working on. Here it is!


cozy-mystery2-cover

A fad diet has swept Carefree, Arizona. Tianna, drake shifter, has her hands full trying to invent a type of ice cream that meets the diet’s rigorous standards before the celebrity creator arrives. But when the diet creator turns up dead, Tianna must call upon her drake skills to sniff out the culprit.

A whirlwind of intrigue sweeps her in, from shifty cameramen to secretive publicists, as well as an abandoned chihuahua who knows more than she lets on. Helped (and hindered) by her friends Katie and Bruce, Tianna must find the killer hidden among the tour team before they leave town, letting the killer escape and strike again … or before Tianna gets too close and winds up on ice.

Available now on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited!


 

There you have it, folks. Where I’ve been when I’m not shmoozing around social media … working! Next project is launching this superhero trilogy. Still working through edits on that, as well as building covers for it. Trying to make it look as epic as the story inside truly is. 😀

New book covers and stuff

I get quiet on this blog when I’m busy creating things. Here are some of the pretty things I’ve been working on:

I’ve been working on making new covers for my historical shifter stories. Aren’t they pretty? Much better than the terrible covers they had before. These are set in a fantasy world loosely based on the Regency period in England, so you have women in dresses and men in top hats drinking tea and sometimes turning into monsters. There’s romance, but no sex. Which is one reason I think they don’t sell much, ha! But I still love them all. And yes, they each feature a different kind of shifter. I still think the werefox is the most original (nothing like a good cup of tea to set you right!).

I’ve finally completed an audiobook of the second fanfic in the series I was doing. Here’s the first audiobook, and here’s the second one. I got a lot of advice on the first one, namely, “DON’T TALK SO FAST!” So I tried to slow it down a lot for this second one. I find that talking slower leads to a better performance, too. I’m sure there’s seasoned actors out there snickering at me for figuring this out. I feel like I’m slowly building up courage to record an audiobook of my original work.

In other news, I’ve been drawing a lot and writing a lot. It’s amazing how a nice, boring, routine life promotes a creative mind. The kids love being on a routine, because they always know what we’re doing next (even if it’s math).

I feel like I’m slowly coming out of this scary survival place where I’ve been hiding for the last decade. It’s hard to be creative when your brain is shut down in fear all the time. But things are stable, and I feel like I’m turning back into a human being again. All I want to do is create things. And you can tell, because look how pretty those new covers are!

Here’s a composite artwork I’m very proud of, too:

artemis-dream

This is me drawing a made-up Sonic character, then going crazy with Photoshop compositing and various special effects brushes. Oh yeah, those tutorials on matte painting are paying off.

Christmas Story: A Candle in the Forest

It’s almost Christmas, and that means it’s almost time for Candle in the Forest! This is a sweet little story that I like to post each year. It’ll get you into the Christmas spirit in a jiffy.

christmas_by_lucky008
Christmas by lucky008

Candle in the Forest
by Temple Bailey

The small girl’s mother was saying, “The onions will be silver,
and the carrots will be gold–”
“And the potatoes will be ivory,” said the small girl, and they
laughed together. The small girl’s mother had a big white bowl in her
lap, and she was cutting up vegetables. The onions were the hardest,
because she cried over them.
“But our tears will be pearls,” said the small girl’s mother,
and they laughed at that and dried their eyes, and found the carrots
much easier, and the potatoes the easiest of all.
Then the next-door-neighbor came in and said, “What are you doing?”

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