Category Archives: Novels


There was a discussion recently on about whether writers “live” near where their books are set. Since I write mostly fantasy and science fiction, that would definitely be “no.” Yet a lot of writers do seem to write about places near where they call home. Stephen King is a perfect example of this, with so many of his books set in Maine. Others seem to go the opposite way, and I fall into this bunch. I like to write about places I’ve only visited, or even places that I’ve never been (but would love to see.)

An example of this is Heart of the Witch. I based the continent of Argessa on Australia; there is coastal rainforest, a mountain range, and then a large desert in the heart of the continent.  The closest I have come to rainforests comes from travel to tropical parts of Mexico, Hawaii, and walking through swampland and forests in Florida. The only mountains I’ve been on include northern Arizona, California, Nevada, and also the Alps in Switzerland.

I can count the number of times I’ve been in the snow on my fingers, and yet I set much of Journey to Landaran in an alpine setting in the dead of winter, with snow everywhere. Yes, I had to confer with beta readers who were more used to wintry weather to check my facts. But I can tell that that coming from a hot desert, I know what it’s like to get cold, because I get cold easily!

For me, I’m fascinated by that which is new and different to me. I’ve always had a love of forests–my grandmother had a cabin at Silver Lake in northern California, and I absolutely loved the place even though there was no electricity. Or toilets. (We did have a sink, which drew water directly from the lake.) I was also an exchange student in Germany, and lived for a summer in a tiny village in the middle of the Black Forest. I think that’s why these kinds of settings are so much richer and more interesting to me. I can write about deserts, sure. I’ve lived in one my entire life. But I do love variety. And what better excuse to travel than for research? I’ve visited San Francisco enough times that I feel pretty confident writing about it. When I dreamt up a story about Mayan ruins, I researched them, and I was finally able to visit a Mayan ruin a few years back.

We are formed by that which is familiar to us, but also that which is foreign and strange. “Write what you know” might be a popular axiom, but I’d add “Don’t be afraid to wander abroad into the unknown.”

Oh, and today’s featured image? That’s a picture I took from a helicopter tour of Maui.



Review: The Passage


Title: The Passage

Author: Justin Cronin

Publisher: Ballantine

Genre: Thriller/Dystopian

Rating: Meh.  3 out of 5 stars.

This book was a chore, much like reading the Grapes of Wrath in high school was a chore. I saw enough promise in the beginning to start the book–Amy is a very interesting character with a very interesting life. The virus looked promising. I also liked the allusions to aliens and God and religion.

Then it became a zombie/vampire apocalypse novel with too large a cast of characters and too great a time span for me to care about anyone. And it had WAY too much information. I think if this book had been half the size, it would have been a decent book. But this was like a door weight, and it didn’t need to be.

The plot really meanders. I think if it could have focused more on Amy and then Peter, it would have been better. There’s a decent story here, but it’s buried in words, and I found myself skimming a lot to get through it. I couldn’t keep track of half of the survivors at the camp, much less care what became of them. It didn’t help that relationships between men and women in the book are stiff and formal, almost side notes to everything else going on.

So if you like lots and lots of words . . . eh, go for it. I won’t be reading this author again.

Free this week! Epic fantasy, Journey To Landaran

For the first time, I’m offering Journey To Landaran for free download on Amazon!  December 3 to December 5:

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Aidah and her twin brother Tavish have always had a knack for getting into trouble. From pie stealing and pranks to hunting for magical creatures, they have always escaped notice in their tiny mountain village.

Until now.

Aidah begins seeing visions through her brother’s eyes. He’s a Firestarter, gifted with the Talent to control light and heat, destined to become a Sun Mage in the great city of Landaran. But he doesn’t want to leave without his sister. As storm clouds gather, Aidah dreams of a beautiful man, a frightening man, calling to her.

She fears the truth. That she may be developing a Talent of her own, one that will change their lives forever.

The power to read minds. To possess bodies. To travel inside dreams. In the world of Ernid, Spirit is the ultimate power.

Nations will go to war over them.


He saw a man, a man who was not running. The man was dressed for heavy winter travel with a waterskin and travel pouch across his chest, a long gray cloak, sturdy fur-lined boots and—Tavish gasped—a sword, an actual sword at his hip. The only men with weapons were the local militia, and they had spears and maces for the most part. The man carried a bucket but he walked slowly, not running as others were. He stood in the middle of the street, just down from Tavish. Too close.

As their eyes met, the dark-haired man sneered. “So there you are, my young fire Talent.”

Fear gripped Tavish’s body, but his mind raced. At any second the Storm Mage could call lightning to strike at him. He could disperse the heat but not the power of the shock; it would kill him. Tavish could also call fire from the hot embers of the temple, but doing so might cause the mage to strike. From where the militia had charged up the hillside to the treeline he heard shouts and the sounds of battle. There would be no help from them.

He wondered: did the fellow want him alive or dead?

The man walked up, boots crunching on black embers in the snow, dark eyes appraising him from beneath the hood of his gray cloak. The nostrils of his hawkish nose flared. “My name is Madhar. Give yourself up quietly, or I’ll destroy what’s left of your village.”

Ah, so he was wanted alive. Perhaps an attack would be possible, but he had to be careful. Meanwhile, the fire at the silo had been almost put out, and he could see his father and grandfather leading the greater part of the village over to put out the flames at the well. He hurried to put distance between himself and Madhar as the man tried to reach out for him.

“So what are you after? Stealing Talents for Innis or something? You may find me a little more than you can handle, mage.”

He prepared to engulf the two of them in flames, forming protection in his mind for his clothing. As he began to direct the heat, however, a loud voice rang out in his head, and an image flared of another building in flames. He gasped.

“Come here! The house is on fire! Come home and put out the flames and don’t let them capture you!”

It was Aidah, and the inferno was his own home! There was no time to play with this annoying Storm Mage. Aidah and Mother were in trouble.

He pulled, and as flames engulfed himself and the mage, he ran around Madhar towards where his father was shoveling slush on fire consuming the structure of the well. He moved quick enough that a small lightning bolt meant for him hit empty space, but the force of the impact sent him flying into his father’s arms. Behind him he could hear Madhar crying out with surprise and pain as he dove to escape the flames. With no fuel and with Tavish’s concentration broken by his fall, the flames disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Tavish shot to his feet, ignoring curls of smoke wafting up from his clothing and the headache beginning to pound within his skull. “The house is on fire! Aidah sent a call for help, with her mind. And there’s an enemy ma—”

“Halt there! The Emperor wants you.” Madhar, his face covered with soot, staggered forward, sword drawn.

Blinking from the shock of the blast and Tavish’s flying entrance, Darrant stood and moved in front of Tavish, rattled but recovering quickly. He held up his shovel up like a weapon. “Who are you?”

“In the name of Innis, this town has been surrounded, and you are all now prisoners. Give up quietly or face my wrath.” A stroke of lightning lent power to the mage’s words, narrowly missing the mill up on the hillside by the creek.

Review: Name of the Wind

Book: Name of the Wind

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Publisher: Penguin

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I kept hearing about this book, and despite its daunting length, I decided to give the book a try. I’m very glad I did.

I won’t kid you. The book takes a while to get going. Rothfuss has a detail-rich style of writing, very much in the style of Tolkien or even Frank Herbert. If you’re looking for fast-paced action and a quick read, this isn’t it. But there’s a beauty in all the details that is worth the time spent to read this book. There’s also the storytelling aspect that I really like. Rothfuss weaves an epic tale with classic themes and motifs.

The bulk of the book is in fact a tale, as told by Kvothe, a famous or possibly infamous hero now hiding in a tiny village as an innkeeper. The book doesn’t even touch on how or why he’s there, instead focusing on his childhood and first years at the university where he learned sympathy, this world’s version of magic. There are secrets and things that are not what they appear, including demons that are fae, and a fire-breathing dragon which is really just more of a lizard. There’s also an epic love tale and a coming of age. More, there are hints of things to come, including the elusive Chandrian who seek out and destroy any who even mention them, including Kvothe’s parents and entire caravan. I like the idea that there’s an unseen world hiding behind the world everyone knows, and Kvothe is uncovering it one secret at a time.

Dedicated fantasy readers will love this book. I wouldn’t recommend it to those new to the genre. This is a five course meal, make no mistake. But I enjoyed every bite.

Top 100 Free on Amazon!

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Just a quick shout out as we head into the weekend. Heart of the Witch, my epic fantasy being offered free now until June 30, has hit the Top 100 Free on Amazon list!!  Currently it sits at #87, but hey, that’s higher than I’ve ever seen it before.

And thanks to EreaderNewsToday, Kindle Book Reviews, BKnights on Fiver, and EbookDaily for your postings! I know that effective promotional sites and/or vendors are the key to having a good free promotion.

(okay and I’m chuckling because it seems to be particularly hot with young readers. Didn’t write it for a younger audience, but cool!  It’s clean fantasy, which I guess is a rarity these days).

Have a good weekend, all!

Kindle Countdown Sale! Journey To Landaran

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Today and tomorrow, you can purchase my YA fantasy novel Journey To Landaran: Book One of the Spirit Mage Saga for only 99 cents on and .

I’m also a featured Indie writer today! ; Indie Book Bargains

The blurb:

Aidah and her twin brother Tavish have always had a knack for getting into trouble. From pie stealing and pranks to hunting for magical creatures, they have always escaped notice in their tiny mountain village.

Until now.

Aidah begins seeing visions through her brother’s eyes. He’s a Firestarter, gifted with the Talent to control light and heat, destined to become a Sun Mage in the great city of Landaran. But he doesn’t want to leave without his sister. As storm clouds gather, Aidah dreams of a beautiful man, a frightening man, calling to her.

She fears the truth. That she may be developing a Talent of her own, one that will endanger everyone.

The power to read minds. To possess bodies. To travel inside dreams.  In the world of Ernid, Spirit is the ultimate power.

Nations will go to war over them.

An excerpt:


“Tavish!” Aidah hissed, nudging her brother with her foot. Her little gesture only earned her a wave of emotion from him of self-blame, despair, pain and grief. She doubled over with the force of it, clutching at her heart.

“It’s all right, Aidah,” Jardan said in a calm voice, as Aidah struggled to separate her emotions from her brother’s. Tavish looked somewhat horrified, realizing that something was wrong with her. Jardan continued. “It should still hurt you, Tavish, even if they were bad, as you say. It should never be easy to kill another person.”

“Aidah,” Tavish said, ignoring Jardan. Aidah knew that, because at the moment she was him; she was watching herself struggle with her Talent through his eyes. She was feeling his fear, his concern, and she was hearing his frantic thoughts. The separation wasn’t working; instead she was being drawn further and further into him. She could even feel his Talent. It felt like she could reach his hand out and make him use it. Control him…

“Don’t touch her,” She heard Jardan’s sharp voice, and stopped her brother’s hand that had been reaching out to touch herself. She—Tavish—looked in confusion to Jardan. “It wouldn’t be a good idea right now,” Jardan continued. “Everyone, keep a little distance.” Aidah watched Jardan look at her from Tavish’s eyes. “Aidah? Where is your aura?”

Probably all over the place, she thought, but she couldn’t bring herself to care at the moment. The realization dawned upon her. She had moved Tavish’s hand.

“What’s happening?” Her uncle asked, and just like that, she was in him, feeling his worry, and it seemed it would be even easier to control him, him being without any Talent, to cloud his mind and make him do whatever she wanted. Deeper down, she felt a powerful sense of despair, but that wasn’t from Brenton. Aidah wasn’t sure where that was coming from. Herself?

“Her powers are surging,” Jardan explained.

Review on Midwest Book Reviews

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Yay, a “real” review by a journal and not a blog!

I wish they had a better organizational system on their website, but you can check out the review by eBook Senior Reviewer Diane Donovan here:  (Scroll down; it’s the thirteenth one on the page.) . Since the book was young adult, it also made the Midwest Book Review children’s fiction newsletter as well: (sixth one down on that page.)

And because it’s a pain to scroll, here it is in its entirety.

Journey To Landaran
Judy Goodwin
Diamond Print Press
1480 W Page Ave, Gilbert, AZ 85233
eBook: ISBN-13: 9781310098789
Print: ISBN-13: 9780615917474
eBook: $3.99, Trade paperback: $14.99, 321 pages 5917474

Journey To Landaran is Book One of the ‘Spirit Mage Saga’, and is young adult fantasy at its best, presenting a map and an old (230-year) woman who holds onto a fading hope that a seven-times granddaughter living an isolated rural life will give birth to the last generation with the Life Talent that has condemned Korva to be one of the last Great Protectors of her era.

Her desires for peace are about to be answered as she makes the discovery that, indeed, Arlene is about to give birth to not one but two Talents: forces that will change the world.

Tavish and Aidah manage to successfully grow up in a small village with no evidence of their strange abilities: but that peaceful time is about to come to a close as they began to manifest Talents of their own. It’s obvious that Tavish is a Firestarter, but Aidah fears she’s also developing her own Talent … a force that will both compliment and supersede her brother’s formidable powers.

Time for a journey and a mission: one that could not only change the world, but lead nations to war (after all, with the ability to read minds, travel through dreams, and possess bodies, the sky’s the limit.)

Or so it seems to twins who face danger at every turn, struggling with undeveloped powers and their evolution and the designs and schemes of those who would harness such for their own goals.
Mature young adults will find this no simple saga: it’s permeated with the hearts and minds of some who are good and some who are evil.

A swirl of secrets revolve around their efforts, challenging both to new perspectives and to setting aside personal comfort for the greater good: “Brenton didn’t need to know any of this. He was burdened enough with the care of them, and his thoughts were bleak….If he knew what Rangwar was doing to his niece right under his protection, it would devastate him. She couldn’t do that to him. And Tavish – well, he’d shoot flames if he knew, and run off to defend her honor. And Derg – he’d probably die of shame like he always said he’d do if he failed in his role as guardian. She didn’t really know what he’d do, but it would be to harm himself, of that she was certain. He always kept things inside. Just like her.”

From deaths that need avenging to inner struggles to find courage against all odds, Journey To Landaran is as much about the hunt for personal bravery as it is about handling outside forces, spreading darkness, and strange new powers. The focus is on Aidah, in particular, and her growth and perspectives fuels an already-volatile story of powerful twins who go out into the world to seek their destiny.

As the two become immersed in events that preclude war, Journey To Landaran also is about developing social and political savvy in a changing world – and while its conclusion is open-ended, suffice it to say that great changes take place between the story’s opening and its conclusion.

Keep in mind this is Book 1: as such, look for more great things as Aidah and her brother find their talents affecting a world-changing battle.

–Diane Donovan, senior eBook reviewer, MBR