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 They needed a new home, and I’d unpublished their original books because the books weren’t that great.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. 😀

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.

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 January slump

Here it is, the middle of January. And I’ve hit the slump. And a lot of my friends have hit the slump.

January gets cold and dark from the snow and storms. I think the lack of daylight contributes to the slump, as well as the cold. You just want to stay bundled up and not move. Screw exercising and eating right. All you want are high-calorie foods to help keep your body warm.

Holidays seem to start in October, with the Halloween madness. Then we charge through Thanksgiving and onto Christmas, with all the shopping and parties. Then we hit New Years, with the resolutions and year-end analysis. And then … nothing. For weeks. Cue the slump.

It might also just be burnout from all the madness and bustle on top of our already busy lives. It’s just nice to kick back and do nothing. But after a while, the resting becomes slumping.

So how do you kick the slump?

People usually suggest exercise at this point. Get off your butt! Move your muscles! Get that circulation up! And those are good things. The brain is connected to the body and exercise fires it up.

For me, I embrace the slump and use it to absorb books and movies that I’ve missed. Kind of like storing up fat for the winter, only it’s stories. As a creative, you’ve got to fill your tank with the things that delight you. And when it’s cold and you don’t want to move, what better way to embrace it than with books or movies?

This is the time of year when my family used to binge-watch the BBC Jane Eyre, or the BBC series of Pride and Prejudice. (Or the BBC Hercule Poirot … yeah, we did the BBC in our house.) In later years, it became the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings.

This is the time of year when I read really huge, thick books. I’ve been thinking fondly of going back to Bleak House again. The book is massive, and also like watching an entire TV series in a book. But I also have a ton of books on my Kindle to catch up on. Marc Secchia has some satisfying thick dragon fantasy books that I’ve bought and not read.

So that’s how I cope with the slump. I embrace it! How about you?

Money – the ultimate success metric?

I was looking over my blog post Writing Books of the Heart. It springboarded off a blog post by Kris Rusch, who talked about writers burning out, writing in a genre they don’t really like, but can’t stop writing, because it pays the bills.

I had another thought percolating related to this one. I was lurking in a writers’ discussion where people were talking about why they write.

People have a lot of different reasons for writing. A lot of them want to change the world, or help/encourage people in some aspect of their lives. Some people talk big about “if I help ONE PERSON then this book will have been worth it!”

Then they turn around and talk about how they made four bucks in book sales last month. Everybody shrugs and laughs, embarrassed.

And I’m over here thinking, but what if those four bucks came from that ONE PERSON who really needed to read your book?

But no, the only metrics that matter, when you get down to brass tacks, is the money. The numbers of books moved doesn’t matter. It’s pretty well known by now that free book giveaways don’t do anything, because readers never read something they picked up for free. You can move a million units and nothing happens.

But when people buy a book, they’re more invested in reading it. Aha! Writers latch onto those sales as a measurement of worth. Somebody wanted my book bad enough to pay ACTUAL MONEY for it.

And let’s not even get into the rabbit hole that is reviews.

So, I’m curious, now. Which is it? Are we writing to help people, seeking validation that way? Or are we only validated by making gobs and gobs of money? Or are we only helping people when they’re paying us gobs of money?

Strong Women and Weak Men

Oh boy, here I go again! More of my strange views of men and women, particularly as regards to fiction.

What set me off this time was a book blog I was reading. The book premise sounded interesting, so I clicked on to see if the author could sell me. I was almost ready to pick up the book when the author started virtual signaling. She talked about how she changed up the myth she was using because “she only writes female characters”.

Nothing irritates me more than virtue signaling.

So I quit reading and tried to figure out why that had gotten under my skin the way it had. I’m writing multiple stories right now. The female characters in both of them are stronger than the men, mentally, sometimes physically, and as relates to their powers, definitely. I have nothing against strong women. As I mentioned in one of my other blogs, I don’t actually know any weak women.

But it’s writing them in a vacuum that bugs me. Guys are people, too. When I read, or write, or, heck, hang with friends, I want a mix. Men and women have different perspectives, and the interplay between them is so fascinating.

I looked at the books I like to read and write. And … aha … there’s a pattern.

Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones. Sophie is a Strong Woman helping a Weak Man who is under just as bad a curse as she is. Howl has more magic than she does, sure, but he can’t save himself without help.

howls_moving_castle_by_g86-d3cr8gu

The Lake House, by Kate Morton. The main characters are all women–Alice the author, Sadie the cop, Eleanor the mother. All of them are mentored, helped, or in the case of Eleanor, desperately trying to help the men in their lives. The men are critically flawed in endearing and sometimes frightening ways, and these women shoulder impossible burdens to help them.

The Beaumont and Beasley series by Kyle Schultz. Although these books are told first person from the male perspective, Beasley is hampered by his sheer logic. Magic can’t exist, therefore, it doesn’t. Lady Cordelia comes along and wrecks that paradigm by accidentally turning him into a Beast. She’s better educated than him, knows magic, and has all kinds of magical connections. But they need each other, because she’s trying to break his curse, and he’s the detective who still reasons out motives and puts together clues. (Great series, too.)

The more I thought about it, the more I realized the argument about Strong Women isn’t stated very well. A Strong Woman is Strong, not when she can beat a man in a fistfight, but when she can reach out to a Weak Man and help him become strong.

Everybody needs help, men and women alike. In Proverbs, Solomon observes that an excellent wife will do her husband good, not evil, all the days of his life. He also points out that a wise woman builds her house, but a foolish woman tears it down with her hands.

In books, part of a character arc is that a character must start in a place that demands that they change in some way. Sophie acted like an old woman before she was cursed to become one. Alice believes she’s responsible for the disappearance of her baby brother. Beasley thinks he has reality all figured out. They all start in a place of weakness. But that’s part of the joy of fiction–that journey from weakness to strength, or acceptance, or whatever the goal of the story is.

When a male character is weak, often a Strong Woman can come along and help him out. This leads to the complex interplay between genders, that push and pull of attraction and affection. Conversely, a Weak Woman will need a Strong Man, but that’s taboo in our culture, for some reason–admitting that a woman might ever be weak for some reason.

(This works in reverse, too–the strong one can tear down the weak one, and the weak one can undermine the strong one. These are toxic relationships, and aren’t the point of this blog.)

As part of the ongoing cultural discussion about Strong Women, I thought this was an interesting new angle to explore. Strength is fine, but it means nothing unless it’s used wisely, to build up others. That same strength can destroy and shatter. As writers (and readers!) it’s something to be aware of.

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.

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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.

Book review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

Goodness, I’ve been an emotional mess lately. I blame the hormones. Anyway, I’ve been between books and kind of tired of everything in my to-read pile. Then my mom said, “Hey, get The Lake House by Kate Morton, it’s really good.” So, deciding that general fiction might be a nice change of pace, I grabbed it at the library.

Here’s what it’s about:

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories.

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies from a masterful storyteller, The Lake House is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.


 

I checked the categories for this book on Amazon, and was really confused, because it’s classified as historical fiction under “Australia and Oceana” … even though this is set in England. Sure, there’s a lot of World War 1 and 2 stuff, but mostly, this book is a mystery. Actually, it’s three mysteries, all intertwined.

The first page, an unnamed character is burying something in a large box out in the woods. So you know that something untoward is going on. You have to go almost the whole book to find out who buried it and why.

It’s also a shame that Eleanor isn’t mentioned in the summary. She’s Alice’s mother, and is arguably the most important character in the book, as well as the most fascinating. The whole central mystery hinges on her actions.

Meanwhile, Sadie is satisfyingly tenacious, driven to solve this cold case of the missing toddler by her own botched case involving an abandoned little girl. There’s a whole theme of missing and abandoned children throughout the book, which is awful, yet satisfying, as each plot thread is resolved.

There’s also another theme of poetic justice. Eleanor firmly believes that everything happens for a reason, and good is rewarded and evil is punished, even when it certainly doesn’t look like it. And throughout the whole book, you see people having justice dealt to them in surprising and satisfying ways. And by the end, you see that grace is actually better than justice. The sheer grace of the ending had me crying through the last chapter. And it’s not sad–it’s a lovely, happy ending. But oh, in my hormonal state, it really got to me. Kind of like crying at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life.

The book is almost 500 pages, but it didn’t seem that long. Kind of like binge-watching a TV series in one shot, you just keep turning pages to find out what new twist will transpire. There were three big ones that looked like they had solved it … then I checked and went, “Nope, this isn’t it, because there’s too much book left.”

So, if you’d like a good read that’s part historical fiction, part mystery, part good ol’ general fiction, this is a great summer read. Heck, it’s a great winter read … or any time read.