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.

Launch of the Vid:ilantes

A few years ago, we were on a long car trip. I was sitting there, thinking about YouTuber drama. Then I started thinking about all those Marvel movies, and how cool it would be if superheroes recorded videos of their crime fighting exploits and put it all on some kind of Youtube. Maybe … HeroTube. And the best heroes got invited into the big networks, and got big name sponsors, and the best ad affiliates. And they were always trying to outshine the other supers in order to win those sweet, sweet ad clicks.

Then I went, why don’t I just plug my SpaceTime characters into this universe? They needed a new home, and I’d unpublished their original books because the books weren’t that great. Heck, I could bring over the villains, too.

That was the beginning of what came to be called Vid:ilantes, a book about superhero Youtubers. And it’s finally available!


In a world where everyone develops superpowers at puberty, James Chase is an aspiring superhero, dreaming of having his own popular HeroTube channel. But when practicing his powers opens a portal to an island in another dimension, he unwisely posts this video to HeroTube. It goes viral and James finds himself in over his head. The networks want him. The villains want him. And worse, he has tapped into one of the lost secrets of Atlantis, one that many people would kill to steal.

Now James must join forces with his roommate Indal, along with a super on the wrong side, and an irritable nonhuman inhabitant of the island, if he wants to save the world–and himself.


Now available at most retailers! Click here!

I’m already writing the next book and having a blast. The Vid books tie in with the After Atlantis books, so you might give those a look while you’re waiting on book 2. (It answers a lot of questions raised in Islesworn, like who is the Guardian and what is the Mercurion?)

Anyway, I am so excited that this book is finally out there for folks to enjoy. Hopefully I can have book 2 finished and out in another month or so. 😀

A little art and a lot of writing

This week I only had time to finish one pic. And it was a pic I drew ages ago and just got around to coloring.

Just Destiny stuff, as usual, heh. I just really like drawing the armor and stuff from it.

I did a speedpaint this morning, but I only got the first couple of stages done.

Just the big colors and shapes blocked in at this point. The armor is really detailed and fiddly, and I want to spend more time on it than I had.

This week I buckled down on edits for Vid:ilantes, the superhero youtubers book. It’s looking pretty good so far, just needs some more polish. I’d love to kick it out the door by next week, but that depends on how fast I can do a cover.

I also finished the first draft of a sci-fi story this past week, which felt really good. It’s very soft, as sci-fi goes (not much math, heh), more space opera than anything. I’d love to launch it next month, but we’ll see how many revisions it actually needs when I read back through it.

My next project is a sequel for Vid:ilantes, since I’ve been carrying it around in my head for months, now. Time to get it all out and see how it goes. It’s fun, because the After Atlantis trilogy deals with Island 1, Vid deals with Island 2, and the sequel will bring in Island 3. Then the book after that will be the big, fat crossover, where everybody unites the islands to face a bigger threat. I’m having way too much fun with this.

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.

Guardian’s Vow launched

This week was the final push to get Guardian’s Vow through final edits and out the door. My two proofreaders were invaluable, especially my husband, who sacrificed two whole evenings to catch my missing commas and name-change gaffes. I’m satisfied that the book is clean and ready for primetime.

This is book 2 of the After Atlantis trilogy:

Tane and the rest of the island crew have gotten Mercury Island back and are parked a mile in the air above the islands of Atlantis. They are frantically preparing to meet the attack of the warship Fellstorm, which is coming to capture Mercury Island.

When they are joined by Gladiolus Lark, a half-blind girl with a magical malady, the team dynamics begin to shift. Friends draw closer, and even rivals are persuaded to work together. New powers are unlocked as the team delve into the mysteries of Atlanticite crystal, and even the island, itself.

Now the arms dealers National Weapons Enterprises approach to capture the island, and the sea monster Tyrannith waits in the ocean below. Tane must make a terrible choice–to save his friends from one enemy, he must appease the other. He can’t talk NWE down … and appeasing Tyrannith may cost him his life.

Book available on most retailers now! And here’s Book 1, in case you want to start at the beginning.


This is superhero fantasy, so called because it’s people with superpowers in a fantastic setting. It’s set in modern day, but postulates that when Atlantis sank, it became an island chain like the Bahamas. Cruise ships visit regularly, and there’s lots of people constantly excavating the ruins and dredging up all kinds of magitech. There’s a type of magic crystal called Atlanticite that amplifies or just outright grants superpowers. And our heroes accidentally uncover the biggest superweapon of Atlantis and wind up with targets painted on their backs. It’s great fun, if a bit unconventional.

So far, publishing a book a month has been going great. I also just discovered that I have enough short stories with rights reverted that I can compile and release a short story collection. I am enthused about that. So, February’s book will be the final book of the trilogy, Guardian’s Wager. March’s book will be a parallel book in the same universe, Vid:ilantes, a book about superheroes who film themselves doing heroics and post the videos on HeroTube for those sweet, sweet affiliate clicks.

I am excited about this lineup!

Nothing to show off–yet

Well, didn’t complete any artwork this past week. I have a landscape in progress, but all art is on the back burner as I work on my 12 Books Publishing Challenge.

My new year’s resolution this year was to do Dean Wesley Smith’s publishing challenge, which is to publish 1 book a month. You don’t have to write the books. This is just a way to kick those books out the door that are written, but just need revisions and a cover. I have three books just sitting here, staring at me. So out they go!

I’ve been working on the second After Atlantis book, and also updating the first book to bring it more in line with the worldbuilding in Vid:ilantes (due to be published in March, if all goes well). This is a light superhero fantasy series–hero teams having conflicts, mustache-twirling villains, robots, and superweapons. I wrote it a few years ago just for fun, and I’m just now emerging from my Destiny fugue and deciding to, you know, actually publish some stuff.

I was looking at my vast collection of Destiny fanfics and realizing that they’re all earning ad revenue for the sites hosting them. Alllllll those fanfics and alllllll those chapters … ads upon ads, day in and day out. And they get hundreds of hits a month.

This kind of burns me.

So I’m looking at just writing and publishing my own stuff steadily, the way I did my fanfics. I know how to do developmental editing, and I have a couple of very good copy editors lined up. I can also make my own covers. There’s literally nothing holding me back from writing and publishing as many books as I want. I’m not super concerned about making a ton of money as much as I am about making my stories accessible. Even my fanfics are only available on two websites. My books can be available on dozens and dozens of bookstores.

My end goal is to entertain people. People have hard lives, and a book can help them forget that hard life for a few hours. I want to write more books for my cozy mysteries, for my superhero series, and heck, maybe some short stories. I also want to mess with science fiction, the kind of space opera stuff that Destiny and Star Wars are, that I love so much.

So hopefully a new book will be coming along in the next week or so. Guardian’s Vow is in the second round of revisions, just polishing and deepening a few scenes. Have to do a cover for it and update the cover on book 1, and off we go.

When roleplay is appropriate … and when it’s not

Roleplay, or ‘RPing’, is a form of storytelling that’s been around for a long time. “I go here and do this and now this thing happened …” You pretend to be yourself in some funny situation. Or you pretend to be one of your characters and play with people pretending to be their characters. Kids do this all the time with toys.

But there’s a time and a place for everything. RPing on your social media? Okay, whatever. RPing in a chat with your friends? Perfect. RPing on your blog? Now it’s getting weird. RPing your characters advertising your books in your newsletters? No. Just … no.

Authors, for some reason, have this idea that since people liked their characters enough to read about them, readers want to interact with these characters. In fact, people want these characters to give them all their news updates! They want the characters to advertise other books to them! So authors fill their newsletters with cutesy RP, pretending to be their characters.

Some people enjoy this. Other people silently unsubscribe and never read any books by that author ever again. Characters belong in books. They’re not Muppets.

So, this is my unpopular opinion: save the RP for a chatroom, or when you’re writing a book and RPing in your head. Keep it out of the newsletters. Notice the “NEWS” in the word? We subscribe to get news about new books and sales. It’s for business. Not to read a random character rambling about the events of their imaginary lives … sometimes for pages and pages.

Rant over. Go RP, people. But not in your professional correspondence.

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.

The Tao, the Force, and good vs. evil

If you’re familiar with Star Wars, you’ll also know about the Force. It’s the energy that holds the universe together. There’s a Light side and a Dark side, and both sides have to be in balance. That’s what the Jedi Knights are all about.

This system of morality is also completely, utterly futile. Here’s what Taoism actually teaches.

While many Western religions emphasize a duality between good and evil, urging devotees to embrace the good and spurn the evil, Taoism saw these moral qualities as two extremes of a single spectrum. Virtue did not lie at one end or the other of this spectrum, but through carefully maintaining a balance between the two. This idea is often expressed through the terms Yin (rhymes with English mean) and Yang (rhymes with English long). The two words together mean the fundamental and opposite forces or principles in nature. Yin originally meant “sunless” or “northern.” It was associated with darkness, femininity, emptiness, coolness, and passivity. The opposite state was Yang, which originally meant “sunny” or “southern.” Yang was associated with light, fullness, masculinity, heat, and action.

These traits appear oppositional on first inspection. However, that opposition is only a surface illusion in Taoist belief. In fact, the two states of nature require each other. Just as an art student knows that negative space around an object is what creates the outline of positive space in a drawing, the enlightened Taoist knows that suffering, pain and misery are necessary for traits like contentment, pleasure, and happiness to exist. Sickness and health are the same phenomenon; they are just at far ends of that same phenomenological spectrum. Masculinity and femininity are also the same thing; they are both the phenomenon of gender expressed in opposite ways. Love and hatred are also the same phenomenon, and so on.

When the Taoist realizes the falsity of these divisions, the Taoist realizes that extremes of either sort are temporary and unnatural. It is the cycle of nature for the pendulum to swing back and forth from one to the other. By resisting or refusing to experience these swings, the human throws himself out of balance with nature, and intensifies the lack of balance and alignment.

The great aim of all Taoists was to conform to the way of nature. They believed that all attempts to behave in accordance with strict codes of discipline, either personal or governmental, were artificial and temporary; they tended “to deform human nature and waste life” as Schafer puts it. Rather than trying to embrace one of the two opposite and reject the other, the enlightened individual sought balance between the two. S

Source

Well well, look at that. It’s all the rules of the Force right there. Good and evil are just a spectrum, and it’s better to just let them do their thing than to interfere, because interfering just makes it worse. No wonder Jedi tend to be annoying pacifists. I’m looking at you, Old Republic. It also explains why Luke became a hermit in The Last Jedi, rather than the founder of the Jedi Academy, as he was in the old continuity.

The Tao doesn’t offer any reason for the existence of good and evil. They’re just part of the duality of all things, like hot and cold. The Tao isn’t real into good and evil, anyway. It’s better to just go with the flow, dude.

When one realizes the need for balance between yin and yang, and stops struggling against that which is natural, one can gain contentment through wu wei, enlightened non-action. This involves discarding elaborate or needlessly complex plans to improve oneself and the world. Instead, one must accept the world (and oneself) as it is. It involves giving up materialistic desires and living life unplanned, from one fluid moment to another. This route leads one to Te, a word that in various forms can mean “moral virtue,” “bounty,” and “power or force,” or “gratefulness.” One learned to live life spontaneously rather than become trapped in the process of preparing for the unpreparable, avoiding the inevitable, or seeking the unobtainable. Such a route always leads to a lack of balance.

Source

In other words, the way to be happy is to be utterly passive. Don’t react to the good or the bad. Just … sit there.

I know quite a lot of governments that would dig a passive populace. A passive populace would never try to conduct business, enforce reforms, fight for their rights, or any of those messy things.

Meanwhile, the Bible is over here in the other corner, talking about how Good was First and evil is an aberration to be fought against.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Romans 1:18-24 (NIV)

Doesn’t look like sitting passively by would help much in this paradigm, would it?

A lot of books and movies take a Taoist view of good and evil. You can’t really ever defeat evil. You just kind of tolerate it until the balance changes and things go the other way. There’s no point in struggling to make things better. Nope, that just makes the other end of the balance stronger. Better just to sit and do nothing.

In the end, there’s no point in the whole good vs evil struggle. Fighting for Good makes Evil stronger. You might as well go full Sith and make Evil as strong as you can, so Good will win out.

Can you imagine what that would look like in reality? Whole countries just go out and destroy other countries and people groups, “just to bring about Good … for somebody”. Definitely not the people being destroyed. Where’s the good for them? There’s no justice, no righteousness, not even kindness. There’s only this imaginary balance we think we’re maintaining.

But what if the other paradigm is true, instead? And God, the ultimate Good, in whom there is no Evil, is going to judge Evil and destroy it forever, until only Good remains?

Yikes, those Tao balance people now have egg on their faces. Looks like the Jedi should have grown some backbone and fought for Good in the first place. Sucks to be you, Luke. You should have gone out and started the Jedi Academy after all.

Mystery boxes in stories (and why readers love them)

I’ve written 19 fanfics since last May, and it gave me a lot of leeway to experiment. Mostly, I’ve been able to step back and look at which stories consistently get the most hits.

I like to write in a lot of different subgenres. For Destiny, I wrote sci fi > drama, sci fi > romance, sci fi > mystery/thriller, and sci fi > humor.

While all of them found a decent number of readers, the ones that always do the best are the mystery/thriller types. Or, as I like to call them, the mystery box stories.

Now, you’d think that romance would be the most popular. And stories with a dash of romance have performed well for me. But the mystery box stories have them beat, hands down.

What is a mystery box? This is a concept JJ Abrams talks about in his TED talk here. A mystery box is simply a box with something in it. But you don’t know what it is. So you open the box and solve the mystery.

But what if there’s another mystery box inside that box? Ah, the puzzle isn’t solved, then. You have another box to open. And so on and so forth, mystery after mystery. The human brain is wired to be curious. We can’t stand mysteries. We have to find out the answers or it bugs us.

My first mystery box story was about a girl who gets revived by a ghost who can’t talk. (Ghosts are these little robots.)

Why can’t he talk? First mystery box. Turns out he’s broken. But why is he broken? Second mystery box. This is hard to find out because he won’t let anybody touch him. Why not? Third mystery box. Turns out, he’s been rebuilt with alien tech. But how, and why? Fourth box. And on it goes, each mystery getting the heroine into hotter and hotter water. The final mystery isn’t solved until the very last chapter, when the heroine is on trial and only the ghost coming clean will save her neck.

That story went crazy for a while. It got a ton of hits and interaction. People had to see the mystery solved. It still gets hits, even though it’s a bit older, now. It doesn’t have any romance–only the somewhat stressed friendship between the girl and her ghost.

Right now, I’m posting another one that also deals with mystery boxes. In this case, it’s a very Bourne Identity setup–a guy with amnesia just might be a covert operative with the key to a super weapon in his memory. And it’s getting a ton of hits and interactions. People want to see what’s inside that mystery box.

I’m considering doing a romance/thriller to see how it does. All the romance stuff AND mystery boxes? Of course, I’ve been partial to romantic thrillers since I first read Mary Stewart’s books. She does the mystery boxes hardcore. I still think about this one twist in the Moon Spinners that took me completely by surprise.

Anyway, I think all genres can benefit from a few mystery boxes. Not only do they keep the reader curious, but they keep the suspense engine running. I think all authors do this more or less by instinct. But it’s fun to actually build your boxes and scatter them throughout your story. Because, in a story, mystery boxes are also Pandora’s box–opening them should unlock a whole bunch of new problems for your protagonist.