Tag Archives: novels

Review: The Christopher Killer (Forensic Mystery)

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Title: The Christopher Killer (Forensic Mystery)

Author: Alane Ferguson

Publisher: Puffin Books

Genre: YA Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I have one thing to say about this forensic mystery targeted at YA readers. Really great book, and really terrible cover.

I haven’t read a lot of gritty forensic mysteries with a younger protagonist, so that’s what drew me to the book. Catelyn is just about to graduate high school, and wants to become a medical examiner. That’s handy, since her father’s the town coroner. When a local murder shocks the small town, she has a front row seat to all the evidence and the investigation.

Of course in addition to a murder mystery, there are relationship issues and family issues, as one would expect in a YA novel. In this book, there’s the mystery of Catelyn’s mother who left years ago, as well as two young men she can’t decide are threats or allies. There’s also an interesting theme parsing out where science meets religion meets fake mumbo jumbo when a famous psychic comes to town. And of course there has to be danger, and there’s plenty of that.

The forensic scenes were well done–just enough ugly reality and facts to keep things interesting without going full CSI and being gross. The interactions were also well done. I found this an easy book to read, and was sorry to see it hasn’t done better. This is a case where I hope the author gets the rights back and is able to republish at some point. I think the publisher did this book a disservice.

Overall, a very enjoyable murder mystery, suitable for both adult and YA readers.

Book Review: The Talisman

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Title:  The Talisman

Authors: Stephen King and Peter Straub

Publisher: Pocket Books

Genre: Fantasy/Horror

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5

Anyone who’s read my blog knows that Stephen King is probably my favorite author. I love most of his stuff. I didn’t love this one, probably because it was a collaborative work with Peter Straub, who I’d never read before. The book just didn’t have the full feeling of a King novel. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but I just didn’t enjoy this one as much as I have so many of his others.

The overall plot was good–an adolescent boy on a quest to save his mother’s life, able to switch back and forth between a magical world and this one. There are the typical horror elements, which I liked. Descriptions were on the heavy side sometimes, which I didn’t like as much. The first half of the book lagged in pace, though it did pick up after that. The ending was by far the best part. But for some reason I never fully invested in the fates of the characters.

There was also an interesting twist on werewolves, a dichotomy between “good” Wolves and “bad” Wolves. I really liked Jack’s friend, the good Wolf.

Completely a random thought–I’ve always loved King’s characters, how he brings together a group of different people with different backgrounds and has them interact. There wasn’t as much of that in The Talisman. I wonder if that’s one of the things that felt like it was lacking to me. The addition of Wolf and Jack’s friend Richard definitely helped with the second half.

I have to concede that by now I’ve read the best of Stephen King’s works, (The Stand, The Dark Tower series, IT,) and now maybe I’m just coming down to some of how not-quite-as-great stuff. I guess I’ll see after I finish the next one on my list, Duma Key.

Writing goals for 2015

I posted a few weeks ago about meeting my 2014 word goal early, and that much of that writing was in another pen name. So I won’t really go over specific projects. However, I like to post my overall goal in this blog each year, so I will make that statement.

In 2011 I probably wrote about 50,000 words or so. Much of that was in fanfiction.

In 2012, I wrote about 78,000. Most of this was in short stories and Journey To Landaran.

In 2013, I wrote 96,000.

And in 2014, I wrote 146,773 words of NEW writing, for books, novellas, and short stories. That word count does not include edits, blog entries, or anything else. It’s my best year ever.  My goal was 125,000.

So what’s my goal for 2015?  I think I can make 150,000 words. I find that the more I write, the easier it is to write more. Writing creatively is like running–it uses “muscles” which must be trained and honed to be able to produce more. I started with very modest daily goals, and now I’m writing between 750 to 1000 words per day. I’m going to make it a goal in 2015 to have as many 1000 word days as possible.

I also want to finish the next Spirit Mage book, which right now is at 44,000 words. The first book ended up at 118,000 so that’s about where I expect the second to be. I started writing this book a year ago. For some reason, my epic fantasy novels are just harder to write, and I take longer. Fear not! It will be written, and then published.

I’m also going to be publishing the next installment of the Cathy Pembroke series of short stories, “Ogres At Alcatraz Isle.” This will come with a new cover, and I also have a new cover for my tale “Fairies at Fisherman’s Wharf.” I plan on taking down some of my older stories including “A Troll Under Golden Gate Bridge” so if you want it, now’s the time to get it. In addition, I have a couple science fiction tales that I’ll be publishing as a two-pack.

We’ll see what else 2015 brings.

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Last day free!

 

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Well it’s been a good promotion. Last day today to get epic fantasy Heart of the Witch for free on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Witch-Judy-Goodwin-ebook/dp/B00AR5HMZO/

Total downloaded as of this morning: 4800 total in every worldwide Amazon marketplace except Mexico. (Over a hundred downloads in Germany, which impressed me).

Thanks to everyone for their support!  I’ve already received a new five star rating out of this, so I think overall this has been a successful promotion.

Author Interview: Laurie Y. Elrod

Happy Halloween! Today I’m going as a steampunk demon hunter. Yeah, don’t ask. It turned out pretty well, however.

laurie

Meanwhile, it’s Interview Thursday today on my blog, and today I’m interviewing Laurie Y. Elrod, fantasy writer. Born in South Carolina near the Blue Ridge mountains, she’s always had an interest in fantasy. Learn more about Laurie at Goodreads here:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7146651.Laurie_Y_Elrod

1. So you have in your bio that growing up, you enjoyed fantasy but never expected to write one. So how did writing a book come about?

Well, I always kicked around writing a book one day, and had a few ideas pop into my head, but none stood out enough to put on paper. So, it wasn’t until I had a very distinct dream involving a magician and two teens that I decided to jump in and write one. In the dream, the magician is mortally wounded and I become him, feeling him slowly die to his last breath. When I awoke I was disappointed that that the dream stopped there, wishing I knew more about the people and the world in which they lived. A tiny voice told me to write it down. And, no, I don’t really hear voices, but I did want to write the dream down which I intended to do in sort of an outline fashion like, this is what happened first, then this next and so forth, but when I sat down at my computer, the first thing I wrote was a line of dialogue. I stopped there and then, staring at that first sentence wondering why I had written it down that way. Then I thought, why not, let’s see where this takes me. And that is how book one of The So’ladiun Series came about, and how I found out I had a passion for creating my own adventures that I could share with others.

2. What about the fantasy genre appeals to you?

In the realm of fantasy the sky is not the limit. There are so many possibilities for authors to explore inside this genre, and I enjoy immersing myself in worlds that are so different and unique–where magic is possible and outlandish creatures exist. Just for a little while, a reader can be whisked away from the realities of our own world and be a part of something fun and exciting that can be found nowhere else. And I love being able to create my own worlds, from the layout of the land to the physics of what is real for my character’s environments.

3. Tell me about your book.

Blackridge, Book One of the So’ladiun is about a young teenage girl who grows up in a small village, leading a simple and fairly sheltered life. But after her instructor of magic is killed by a host of strange man-like beasts, her world turns upside down, and she faces a fate she never saw coming–a fate that could destroy her country and, possibly, the human race.

Despite the doubts and fears–and lack of faith in her own abilities–she must choose to believe in herself and have the courage to follow her destiny or else her country will fall. With the support of her younger brother, her late mentor’s widow, and a small group of seasoned warriors, she embarks on a journey that is not only dangerous and physically exhausting, but spiritually fatiguing, as well.

4. What makes the world of your book unique?

Anderan and surrounding countries could be any place on Earth before the industrial age and the invention of electricity. What makes the world unique is the characters and their abilities, and the fact that two gods, who have been given care of the world by their father The Creator, are actively at war with each other. Unable to fight directly with one another or else destroy the world that they both love, they are forced to use other means to hurt the other.

This is where the So’ladiun come in. They are a rare and small group of warriors possessing unique magical powers and who are hand-picked by the God of Light, Solisius, long before they are born. The So’ladiun are Solisius’ Defenders of Light, charged to maintain the balance between good and evil, and peace and destruction against the evil his brother Obsudius lets loose in the world.Their counterparts, the N’gethwyn, serve Obsudius, doing all that they can to please their god’s bloodthirsty desire to conquer the world.

5. Who is your favorite writer, and why?

Good question. The best answer to this for me is, I don’t have any one favorite author, I have many. Just to name a few: J. R. R. Tolkein because he introduced me to the amazing adventures found within the pages of books which created a passion for reading that will last a lifetime. Diana Gabaldon because she paints a vivid picture with her writing that can easily play out as a movie reel within one’s own mind. Stephen King because, well, he is an imagination genius. And, last (but certainly not the last in my list), J. K. Rowling because she hit the nail on the head with Harry Potter, an amazing and fun read that never gets old no matter how many times you pick her books up.

6. What are you working on next?

Right now, I am in the editing process of book two in the So’ladiun Series. I am also working on the artwork for the book cover, and I am kicking around a few ideas for short stories. I kind of have a desire to write a ghost story. Don’t know why. Maybe it’s because Halloween is coming soon. Who knows?

7. Is Lexogan a small publisher, or do you indie publish? Why made you decide, either way?

I am an indie publisher and Lexogan Publishing is my personal imprint. I decided to publish on my own after thinking long and hard about the pros and cons between publishing traditionally and indie publishing. I also read many, many stories of other indie authors who shared their journeys through this process, their successes and failures, and the advice they offered. Based on all the information I gathered about both routes, and after long agonizing debates washing back and forth between the two, I finally came to the conclusion that, personally, I would rather publish myself than go through all the hassle that traditional publishing puts a writer through. Right or wrong, this is the path that I am following for now, and only God knows where I will end up.

8. What advice do you have for other writers?

I suppose as a new writer the best advice I can offer is, never stop learning, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and keep on pushing ahead. Do not give up, especially if you are new to the writing scene. It is a hard, uphill climb for everyone, but remember how much you love your characters, and there is no doubt someone out there will love them too. Everyone–EVERYONE–has at least one fan.

Gathering Beta Readers

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For any who are interested, I’m gathering a list of beta readers for my upcoming fantasy novel, Journey to Landaran. (YA/New Adult fantasy for ages 14+)Editing has been going well and I’ll be through the second round by the end of the week. Copies will be available in pdf, epub, and mobi versions.

I’m giving beta readers one month to read the book and return to me with feedback, so basically the month of November. (Yes, I know it’s Nanowrimo month. If you’re participating and need more time, let me know. I can be flexible.) I should have copies ready by Friday to send out.

Beta readers are an important part of the writing process, whether you are self-publishing or even submitting  your book to a traditional publisher. Stephen King himself uses one (his wife and a few others) and has said it has helped him immensely. Without a beta reader, Carrie would have ended up in the trash.

Pointing out typos, awkward sentences, etc. is fine, but know that a beta reader is NOT an editor. They help just to make sure the story works as a whole, to point out plot holes big enough to drive my Camry through, to help find continuity errors, and just to give me general reader feedback. How did you like the story?  The characters? What didn’t you like? And so on.

The blurb:

Twins born of a magical heritage.

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

Aidah and her brother Tavish have grown up hidden away from the political maneuverings of mages born and bred to rule. That is about to change. They say Spirit Mages are either angels or devils, and Firestarters are ruled by emotion.

Nations will go to war over them.

Just to give a little teaser, here’s the Prologue.

*******

Journey to Landaran

Prologue:  New Life

Night fell over the city of Landaran as Korva Liam dragged her aged body up the tower to her magic-working room.  Long velvet skirts hampered her way on the steep stone steps, and she had to pause to disentangle her cane from the folds, uttering a curse as the movement sent a stab of pain through her arthritic hands.  Upon reaching the top, she rested to regain her breath. Muttering, she struggled to get the key to turn in the heavy iron lock, then pushed the door open on groaning hinges.

The room was small and circular, with a desk to the right, a small bed to the left, and a book stand on side opposite the door with a large volume opened to a detailed genealogy chart that spanned several generations.  She crossed to the book and ran her finger down the page, halting as she came upon a name:  Arlene Dell.  Beside the name was a tiny scribbled note, written in the same flowing script as the rest of the page, “Married to Darrant Dernholt, expecting baby by Mid-December.”

Late November, more like it, Korva thought, shivering.  And here she was up in this damn drafty tower with no fire and a window whose shutters could never seem to close properly.  She was crazy to be trying this tonight, when there was chance of snow.  But she had to see the birth.  Only then, at the first moment of life, would she be able to See the magic potential with accuracy.  After that she would have to wait until puberty.

Korva tapped a finger on the Book of the Magic Line, a book she herself had created over the span of her life, nearly two hundred thirty years long now, which listed the names and relationships of her descendants.  She tried to bring to mind the face of Arlene Dernholt, a great-seven-times-over granddaughter who, as she recalled, lived with a sheep herder in the Morgaine Highlands of the Doane, far to the north and west.

The picture came to her mind with difficulty–the last time she had visited Arlene, the woman had been fourteen, and sadly, while rich in potential, no Talent had materialized in her.  Hopefully her child would carry the Life Talent.  Korva was tired, so very tired of being the only one of her line able to defend; named the so-called ‘Great Protector’.  Death called to her, but she could not go just yet.  She would have to continue taking her yearly sacrifice to extend her life until her replacement could be found.

“Arlene, Arlene . . .” Muttering the name helped; into her mind came the vision of a young woman with straight dark brown hair framing a tiny heart-shaped face and large green eyes.  She was a diminutive woman, like many in Korva’s line, and had seemed a bit timid in Korva’s view, but then, her own ornery traits couldn’t breed true every time.

Once she’d managed to make a clear image of the one she wanted to visit, Korva stretched herself across the little bed, and pulled the thick fur coverlet over herself to make sure she was comfortable.  She despised coming back to herself to find a crick in her neck or a limb fallen asleep.  Just as she got herself perfectly settled, a gust of icy wind blew open the shutters of the room’s only window, sending them slamming against the gray stone walls.  Korva groaned.

“I’m not closing you now that I’m finally warm and comfortable.  You’ll just have to go close yourself,” she said with a growl at the shutters, and amazingly they did close, with a bang.

Must be life in them yet! She thought, chuckling.  Life forces within wood rarely responded to her Talent, and in a piece that old–well, at least she wouldn’t freeze now.  Time to trance.

She closed her eyes, focusing on her life energy, her whole consciousness. Carefully she separated it from her physical body, disconnecting each energy point:  eye, ear, brain, heart, gut, womanhood.  When she felt each point was detached, she thought upwards, and soon shed the cumbersome weight of her decrepit body.

Sensing the conical roof just above her, Korva opened her “eyes.”  She floated over her body, her ethereal form a sinuous ghost, glowing softly in the dark room.  So tiny, she thought, looking at the frail thing below her: pale skin covered with wrinkles, flesh sagging off the bones and white hair falling like a river down the shoulders and across the covers.  That hair had once been a glorious gold, but now, well, there wasn’t much left of her former beauty.

Concentrating on her destination, she rose through the roof and flew out over the walled city, heading north towards the peaks of the MorgaineRange.  To the east stretched the foreboding red waters of the CrimeanSea, the main barrier between her people and the Enemy–her father.  May he die and rot in the Underworld.

She could not stand looking in that direction, so she turned away and passed over the city and up the rocky foothills, up to the higher peaks, already covered in a thick blanket of snow.  Faster than any bird, she flew over the range, noting settlements here and there nestled in the valleys and along the rivers and lakes, heading northwest.  In a mountain valley before a towering crooked peak, she found her destination, a village of perhaps fifty low buildings, many of them with large pastures of sheep.  Hamstead.

She swept downwards, checking for a house whose lights were still burning at this wee hour.  One cottage on the outskirts of the village was lit, resting beside an old thatched roof barn.  Memory stirred.  She remembered this humble abode–it was the same Arlene had grown up in, her grandfather’s house.  Poor dear Bevan; he’d been such a crusader, but he was dead now.  So many descendants, dead and buried.  It was frightening to dwell too long on it.

She landed at the front door and drew near the window, just to make sure it was the right house.  It would never do to spy on strangers.  She recognized Bevan’s son–Arlene’s father, Ethan Dell. He paced the small bedroom as a midwife bent over to wipe the forehead of a woman in the bed, her knees drawn up under the blankets.

She looks like she’s going to pop!  Korva thought, noting the size of Arlene’s belly.  After seeing several generations of births, Korva knew an unusual birth when she saw one.  She hoped all would go well, but if it was required, she would use her Life magic to aid.  She dared not help, however, unless she absolutely had to.  Her father would be watching for any unusual use of her Talent.  And she would let a Talented child die before she let it fall into his hands.

Korva used one of Arlene’s contractions as a diversion to slip inside where she didn’t have to put up with gusts of wind going through her body.  Since she had no body she couldn’t really feel heat or cold, but the mind didn’t always remember that.  She tried to keep in the background.  Arlene’s potential for the Life Talent was high enough that she could sometimes see magic at work, including those traveling out of body.

Once Korva had found a comfortable spot, she waited.  The labor drew on and Ethan left to pace outside while the father-to-be took up a place by the fire, nervously untwining a bit of rope.  The midwife stayed by Arlene’s side, mopping her brow and soothing her when the pains came.  She did not seem overly concerned.  Korva looked around for Arlene’s mother, then remembered the woman had died a year earlier–she remembered writing the entry into her book.  So many dead.  But life went on.  New life came to replace those lost, as it was doing now.

The real labor pains hit, and the birth began in earnest, the midwife removing the covers to check for the head.  Sure enough, it was visible.  She ordered the two men into action to ready the hot water.  Korva slowly came forward as Arlene grunted and groaned, allowing the young woman to see her, to know she was with family; if not her mother, then at least a greater-than-great grandmother.

“Grandess!,” Arlene whispered, reaching out a hand to her, amazed.  Korva felt the hand pass through her.  Arlene’s eyes widened as she realized she was gazing at a spirit.  “Are you dead?” she gasped.

“No, I’m perfectly alive, just too old to travel in body here.  Now push, child.  It’s almost finished.  Push hard for me,” Korva softly urged, smiling down on the woman with a tenderness she rarely let show.  Arlene screwed shut her eyes and did push, on and on, for nearly a candlemark, before at last the baby came out, howling with indignity.

Korva leaned over the midwife’s shoulder as the woman cleaned the babe, frowning as she determined its sex.  A boy.  Boys were dangerous, she had learned; too often she had lost her Talented boys to the call of her father.  And this one would definitely be Talented, of that she was certain.  The glow of magical ability surrounded him in a hearty orange glow to her Sense, showing great strength, though in which of the three spheres, Life, Fire, or Storm, Korva could not determine.  Amazing that such a glow should come from such a small infant–this one was quite tiny, perhaps only five pounds, with a head full of dark hair and a turned up little nose.  It looked healthy, thankfully, very healthy.  And loud.

After the umbilical was cut, the baby was shown to its proud father, still crying lustily.  Korva chuckled to herself.  With vocals like that, the child promised to be a lifetime of trouble for his parents.  She wished him all the luck in the world.

Things seemed to be settling down now as the first light of day broke through the room’s only window, throwing beams of light across Arlene’s happy face.  Korva prepared to leave, to make arrangements for when the child’s powers appeared in truth, some eight to fourteen years from now.  Then Arlene doubled over in pain.

The afterbirth, Korva thought at first, as did the midwife, until she went over to check.  From her vantage point, Korva could see little, but the midwife gasped and began frantically waving Arlene’s father over to help.  “Twins!”  She said breathlessly by way of explanation.

Korva returned to Arlene’s side and they began the whole ordeal again, Korva urging Arlene to be strong, don’t think about the pain, push, push.  But Arlene was tired, and this baby did not seem as eager to leave the womb.  After a couple of hours when Arlene moaned that she did not have the strength to push any more, Korva resorted to her Talent.  With a wave of dizziness, she sent strength from herself into Arlene’s battered body.

Korva could feel her thoughts grow sluggish as the energy left her, threatening to dissolve her ties of spirit holding her together. She fought to stay focused.  The gods grant that she had not given too much of herself to be able to return to her body, that this effort not be in vain for the sake of the child and Arlene.  And that this interference had not been noticed from afar.

With renewed vigor, Arlene sat up in the bed, screaming in pain and frustration, pushing with all of her might.  Finally the head appeared, and the birth came swiftly after.  This second child was even smaller than the first, and all too fragile-looking.  Korva immediately noticed that it was a girl, light-haired and silent.  That changed after the midwife gave it a smart slap on the back and it began to wail, but even its wail sounded weak.  A faint glow, violet, surrounded it, suggesting magic potential, but nothing definite.  Korva swallowed with disappointment.  This one looked too weak to be of any help to her.

And Korva was exhausted now, and frightened, expecting the touch of her father’s eyes on her at any second.  After giving a swift kiss to Arlene along with her blessings, Korva limped out of the cottage and drifted up to a safe altitude, flying back as quickly as her tired spirit could manage.

Over the mountains, back to the tower she floated.  As she passed over the city she felt something foul which could have been her father’s probings, or perhaps only the whiff of a late sleeper’s nightmare. There was always such a thin line between reality and the dreamworld while in spirit form, it was difficult to tell.  But she was not challenged, and managed to make it back to her body, settling down into it to open her real eyes and feel the ache in her legs as well as the beginnings of a shock fever from having used too much power.  She had enough energy to send a mental call to her aides to come fetch her.  Then she sank into exhausted slumber.

At the edge of unconsciousness, she thought she heard her father chuckle.

Bonus Author Interview: Kyra Hallan

I have an extra interview this week, with Kyra Halland, fantasy and romance writer. In the Fantasy, Dystopia, and Romance writers group that I belong to on Goodreads, she’s this week’s featured author!  Learn more bout Kyra here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6950045.Kyra_Halland .

Azara

1.  What first made you want to write books?

I’ve always loved stories, especially fantasy and love stories. I had a hard time finding the kinds of romantic fantasy books I wanted to read, so, as a new stay-at-home mom with a young baby, when I wanted a new grown-up challenge to balance out the baby care, I decided to write the kinds of novels I wanted to read.

2.  You write romantic fantasy. What is it about the combination of those two elements that appeals to you?

Love is a powerful motivation, and showing characters in love, in a developing or even a committed relationship, shows sides of them that otherwise might not come through in the struggle to save the world or whatever the fantasy story is about. I think that showing the loving and romantic side makes the characters more well-rounded and more sympathetic, and raises the stakes in the story. Saving the world is one thing; saving it for the people you love – spouse, lover, children, family members, friends, makes it a lot more personal. I also like seeing how the development of the relationship and the fantasy quest or task or whatever the characters are doing affect each other – in my novels, the two are closely intertwined, and also how the couple deals with the challenges they face together. It’s also interesting to see the couple work together to achieve their goals – even if, or especially if, they have different ideas about how do go about it!

Oh, and, wizards in love. What’s not to love about wizards in love? 😀 I have a thing about wizards in love, because in the books I read, it seemed like wizards never got to fall in love, or, if they did, they never got to do anything about it. It seems like so often in fantasy (or at least in the books I read), wizards live fairly ascetic lifetstyles, and there’s something appealing about the contrast between that and the emotion and passion of falling in love and building a relationship.

3.  Tell me about your latest book.

Chosen of Azara is a novel with a long history behind it. The original idea came to me as an image of a young woman in the woods, seeing a vision of a strange man. Some time later, the man appears at her home, looking for her. I wrote one early version of the story and wasn’t happy with it, so I went deeper into the man’s background, and came up with an inter-generational tale of the destruction of a beautiful, magical land and the quest to restore it to life.  It’s divided into three sections, each with its own main character.

Juzeva is a princess of Savaru, dedicated to the service of a magical Source, Azara. She is married off to an enemy prince in an effort to prevent a war, but then she’s betrayed and she has to go on the run to protect her daughter and the secret she holds, which is the key to bringing Savaru back to life.

Sevry is Juzeva’s nephew and the last king of Savaru. He is twenty-three when his land and people are entirely destroyed. Through magical means, he spends centuries hunting for one of Juzeva’s descendants, who would have inherited Juzeva’s secret and would have the ability to restore the land of Savaru.

Lucie is a sheltered young noblewoman who is unaware that she has inherited Juzeva’s secret. She is looking forward to married life with her handsome fiance, Estefan. When Sevry shows up and tells her she holds the key to bringing a dead land back to life, she doesn’t want to listen. Eventually, she’s faced with a difficult choice between doing what she wants, what her family thinks she should do, and what she knows is the right thing to do.

It isn’t a very long book, but it’s epic in scale, and full of tragedy, adventure, heroism, honor, and romance.

4.  What has been the hardest part about writing multiple books?

Recently I was working on three books at once! Right now it’s down to two, because one of them is out with the beta readers. I’ve been doing this mainly to stay on my release schedule and because I’m eager to start releasing the third of the three projects, hopefully in spring of 2014. Working on multiple books actually works pretty well for me. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, with severe physical and mental fatigue, and breaking tasks down into smaller segments actually helps me get more done with less fatigue and burnout. I’m also at different stages on different projects, so the variety also helps keep me fresh. The hard part is that I do get tired sometimes before I’ve made my daily goals on all three books, and it doesn’t leave me with a lot of time or energy for doing other things. Plus I get impatient and want to just get one thing done and out of the way. But I know if I tried to do that, I’d burn out quickly.

Somehow I do manage to not mix up characters and stories and end up writing an inadvertent crossover!

5.  Who is your favorite writer, and why?

I love Carol Berg’s novels. Her writing is gorgeous, smooth and rich, like really good dark chocolate. Her characters are interesting, too; I enjoy reading about characters who are already established in their adult lives and identities who then have those lives disrupted and have to find a way to pick up the pieces and start over. Her books feature characters like that, and she writes them very well.  And her magic systems are pretty cool and unique.

6.  Tell me about what you’re working on next.

I’ve got a new book coming out later this month, The Lost Book of Anggird. It’s an epic fantasy with a strong romantic storyline, about a professor of magic who goes too far in his research into magic’s origins and causes a magical disaster, and the woman he hires to translate ancient books for him. Together they embark on a romantic relationship and a quest to fix what’s gone wrong with the magic.

My next novel, Sarya’s Song, is out with the beta readers right now. It’s set in a world where magic is worked through music, and has one of my favorite romances in it, between Sarya, a talented Arranger of magical musical rituals, and Adan, the incredibly handsome and talented singer who’s been both the closest thing she has to a friend and the bane of her existence since they were teenagers. I have a background in music, so I thought a magical system based on music would be pretty cool.

Finally, I’m writing the draft of book 6 of a 6-book fantasy-western series (also with a romantic relationship at the core). It’s based on the American Old West, but is also definitely in a fantasy world, not our world. Silas, the wizard bounty hunter in it, is one of my favorite characters ever, and this series has just been way too much fun to write.

7.  Where do you think the publishing industry is going these days?

I love the sheer variety of books that are available now with the rise of self-publishing as it exists now. I think the publishing industry is going to need to become more flexible and competitive as far as how they deal with authors, such as better royalties and more freedom; being more accessible to a wider range of authors; and putting out a wider variety of books if it’s going to remain a desirable path for authors to follow and to keep readers buying their books.

8.  What advise do you have for other writers?

Don’t write what you think other people want you to write; write what your mind and heart are demanding that you write. Also, it doesn’t have to be good at first; you can fix anything in revisions. On the other hand, don’t over-revise, because then you risk stripping the individuality and life right out of your story. Finally, always be working on that next book, because writing is something that you can definitely improve at with practice.