I am a dwarf

I. Am a dwarf.

As much as I’d love to be an elf or a ranger or a sorceress, history and self-awareness tell me that I am a dwarf. A digger-dwarf, specifically. Not even a battle dwarf with fancy weapons and fancy armor and big campaigns.

Nope.

I’m a digger dwarf, and when I sit down to a new game – or any challenge – the first thing I tend to do is go looking for a shovel. Because I’m going to go dig a giant hole, amass a huge pile of resources, and figure out how to hack the economy.

I’m quite serious about this. I get to the point where the piles of resources are getting ridiculous and I’m having difficulty storing them, and I engage an adventurer – usually my husband – to come and spend them. He uses them to build some impressive structures of some kind relevant to the game. Since I keep digging further and further underground, often getting to the point that it takes too long to surface so I build a midway point to drop off piles of new resources, and he never interacts with me anymore, he tends to wander off with another adventurer on some epic quest, and resources begin piling up once more.

It is at this point that I give up on being a digger dwarf just long enough to build a castle. Or castles. And a peasant/villager/peon NPC army. And then a chain of castles. And go to war with a local populace, using nothing but castles and peasants.

And he returns home and looks over at me and goes ‘what did you do?’ and I smile and return to digging.

Because, at heart, I am a digger dwarf.

And it’s his fault he left me along long enough that I couldn’t find any place to store the chests and chests of stone and dirt and ore, and the furnaces filled up with iron and bronze and steel, and I had to do something with it all…

And he shakes his head with some disbelief and tries to figure out how to restore order to the warehouse – because no less than two of the castles are now dirt warehouses – and to the local uprising against my encircling citadels.

This has been my pattern for a great many years.

As a writer, it has been no different.

Well, it has. But I get ahead of myself.

I go down to the word mines nearly every day – I missed one day in 2018 – and I come back up with troves of resources. Sometimes it’s a load of dirt. Ifs and ands and thes and saids. Nothing wrong with them, and certainly writing needs an awful lot of them. Sometimes it’s stone. Structural, strong, necessary, but not that special or pretty. Sometimes it’s ore, meaningful, and worth distilling for what’s inside of it. Sometimes it’s a jewel, something that I take a bit more time to make sure I extricate it whole.

Regardless, I wander back up to the surface, dump it into a chest, log it in a spreadsheet, and cheerfully grab my shovel and go to dig some more.

Because I’m good at it, and it makes me happy. I can control the shape and nature of what I’m doing, if not the absolute quality, and I can see the progress I’m making in the holes I put in the earth, stories that exist that didn’t before. I do it alone, and while I rarely do it just for me – I have an intended purpose and a destination I’m trying to reach – I am the only one who is even aware of the decisions I’m making along the way.

I’m a good writer.

I’m a terrible author.

In 2018, I wrote 34 pieces of fiction, which include 7 novels, if I’m generous and round up to a full novel on the one that I didn’t finish before the end of the year.

I published 2 novellas and 3 short stories (two of which I wrote in 2017).

Yeah.

By volume, I published around 8% of what I wrote.

I’d say I’m ashamed of this, but the truth is I’m not ashamed. After some reflection here at the end of the year, I’m not even bothered so much as I am aware that there is a problem.

And the problem is that I have not fully filled the role of adventurer in my quest. Nor have I reached the point of employing hordes of peons and building castles. (Carefully steers away from allowing industry professionals to become peons in this analogy. They are not NPCs…) I’m just piling up resources and waiting for something to poke me into action.

2019.

Authors are an odd, paradoxical lot. They’re awfully optimistic, as a group, and at the same time I’ve never met one who didn’t wrestle with impostor syndrome to at least some extent. Many struggle enormously with the idea that other people would pay them money for words. This is a season where most of my writer friends are charging into the new year with an enthusiasm that borders on reckless, aiming to crush the coming year.

I’m not looking for meteoric performance. I have not the time, the energy, nor – honestly – the interest. But I do have a plan that involves change, for the coming year.

In the early half of 2018, I met an adventurer. One who saw the piles of words that I was amassing and couldn’t for anything figure out why I wasn’t off on a quest, spending them. Most of the good, successful authors I know live hand-to-mouth on their writing, finishing a project and moving it forward toward publishing as they begin their next project. A good lot of them are working toward a preorder deadline, writing stories that didn’t exist when the book went up for pre-order. My adventurer publishes what he writes, because what he writes has value, and sitting on it…

Well.

As far as he could figure out, that was stupid.

And here I sit, heading down into my word mine each day to happily toss those words into a chest and ignore them the following day.

And apparently he didn’t think those words sucked, because he asked me to work on a series with him.

Those would be the two novellas that I published this year, with two more coming in early 2019. I plan on continuing to work with him in 2019, feeding stacks of resources to him so that he can progress campaigns of publishing. This relationship has been enormously beneficial to me, this year, because – first – it feeds my normal way of doing things, and takes the pressure off of my mounting piles of unused resources, but – second – because I’m spending more time above ground, and realizing that it’s just about time to start building some castles.

I’ve got no idea if I’m any good at building castles. I don’t have a friendly video game rooting for me, with pre-packaged plans on how to do such a thing. But. I’ve got chests and chests full of words, and if I don’t start building something with them, they’re never going to turn into anything.

So.

In 2019, look for more titles, look for more above-ground time, look for more experiments and attempts at castles. Because there’s a giant wilderness out there, and I aim to block out an increasing chunk of it as my own.

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Westerns

So.

A number of years ago, I had a character in my head.

And she spoke with a drawl.

She ultimately resulted in Sarah Todd, a space western mostly because I can write sci-fi really comfortably, and true westerns – as much as I’ve enjoyed various formats of them – are a technical challenge, as well as a new genre to me.  I had a friend in a writers’ Facebook group who posted a number of true Western covers, and I admired them, mentioning Sarah Todd, and he bought a copy on the spot.

A few weeks later, he asked me to write a series with him.

A true Western series.

It took me maybe thirty seconds to say yes.

And so Jessie Noble was born.

The Animas Forks series is slated to start releasing on August, with my first contribution – The Drifter and the Colt – showing up likely in September.  It’s been more fun than I can say to collaborate with another author, and I’m truly excited for the books to start reaching readers.

Sleeping Quicksand

There’s no telling how long it had been there.  The quicksand in these parts was tricky, and it was hungry, but this particular pool of the stuff was… inert.

Glenda had no idea why, but she’d been studying it for weeks.  While the pockets of quicksand around the village were always full of the carcasses of rabbits and squirrels, even hogs and the occasional deer, this one was always empty.

She threw rocks at it, occasionally, and they sank just the way they should have, in quicksand, but the pool never caught anything live.  Glenda sat, cross-legged, on a boulder at the edge of the quicksand, chin on her palm, considering it.  What did it want, if not prey?  Wasn’t quicksand malicious?  It was what she’d learned her entire life – you had to watch out, because when you least expected it, the quicksand was going to jump out and get you.  She’d lived by that, even as a student of the wood, even when her peers married and started having their children, started vocations and families and life courses.

Glenda stayed in the woods, watching the quicksand, watching the animals, the trees, learning the ways the frogs acted during their seasonal heat and the way the deer spirited themselves away to give birth to their fawns.  She knew the sound of the earth when the great oaks grew, and the way the air breathed on fine days as the rain rolled in.

She knew quicksand.  She’d avoided it most of her life.

But this one slept, and she did not know why.

It had been months that she’d known about it, now, and she’d yet to unearth a single of its secrets.

She knew what she had to do.  Why she continued to return to this place over and over again to stare at the sleek-surfaced sand.  Knew what it felt like, to step into the loose pit.  Always before, she’d scrambled away, reaching, grabbing, thrashing for safety.

Today was different.  Her feet disappeared, and then her knees, and she slipped off of the rock, closing her eyes as the sand reached her face, drawing her down.  It may have slept, but it had never forgotten what it was.

She didn’t know what she would find at the bottom, but she had had a dream of a tunnel of sand that lead to another world, one that was out waiting for her in the forest, waiting, sleeping, ready.  Not just quicksand.  Not just sleeping.  Something that was there, just for her, turning away everything else.  As her lungs began to burn and a rush of blind sand flowed over her face, Glenda wondered what waited for her at the end.

So…

For a long time, I posted here twice a month, once around midmonth about writing related topics, and once around the end of the month about something going on specifically with my writing.  It was a good pattern, and I liked it, but I stopped a few months ago because I had a lot of things going on.  I’ve written a few blogs since then, but none of them have been at the right moment of my writing to post, so they remain safely stashed away for another day.

What’s been going on is Magic After Dark, which I’ve talked a lot about in various places, but not so much in the blog as a writing project.

This was a huge undertaking.  There were more than twenty-five authors involved at various stages, and it ended up at launch as a collection of twenty-one novels, with many of the authors involved in marketing and promoting the set almost daily.  We advertised the heck out of it, but I suspect that a huge fraction of our sales went to readers we already had a relationship with, through newsletters, Facebook, and other places.  Pooling our resources and our reader groups has been an amazing way to generate visibility, and while I look forward to meeting new authors as content creators by reading the set myself, I’m equally looking forward to meeting new readers by having participated.

Gypsy Becca is the first in a trilogy, and she exists in the Anadidd’na universe with Sam & Sam, and she’s a great starting point to the world.  As is always true, I know she isn’t going to appeal to everyone (a lot of the set’s readers are going to be looking for PNR, for example, and this is not a romance), but I’m really excited to meet the readers who are looking for this style of story and who enjoy my writing, because I’ve got a lot more where that came from, both in already-existing work and in planned releases over the course of the next couple of years.

So, as far as that goes, the set has been an enormous success, and I’m so proud of the work that the rest of the authors and I put in to pull it off.  Because the launch price was a special price, and because the lineup of the set is going to be changing to allow authors who aren’t interested in Amazon exclusivity to opt out, we’re going to be releasing an entirely new edition in the near future with a new Amazon link, so I don’t have a link that’s going to be of any use for very long right now.  Gypsy Becca will be staying in the set through the entire rest of its run, then I’ll publish Gypsy Becca as a standalone novel.  Either way, you aren’t going to get another crack at this collection of novels at this great a price for long, so pick it up while you can.

The other thing I’ve also been working maniacally on is getting Portal Jumpers II: House of Midas ready for publication.  It was originally slated as an early-June release, but I had a bunch of other littler projects come up that pushed it back, and then I didn’t want to put it out directly on top of the Magic After Dark set release, so we pushed it to late July.  I don’t have a specific date yet, but it should be within a few days either way of the 20th.

I’m almost done with the manuscript, so those readers who have indicated in interest in an advanced copy should be getting it within the next week.  I don’t anticipate a preorder period, but there will be a sale on Portal Jumpers to go along with the PJII launch, so keep your eyes open for that.

In all, it’s been an amazing couple of months.  I’ve learned *a ton* about all kinds of things, and I’m grateful for all of the people providing their experience to the set and as readers.  I’ve started a reader group on Facebook who provide me with immeasurable insight all the time, and I’ve got new opportunities on the horizon.

One last thing, though.

This.

USA Today MAD

 

Unveiling: Diana

It’s been up on Instafreebie for a couple of weeks, just to get links sorted out for various promo sites where it was going to live this month, but today was the first day I sent out notice that Diana is up and available for download.  I don’t think that it’s going to be available as long as Rage has been, but Rage officially retired today and I’m (still) working toward getting it available on Amazon.

diana-r4

So.  Someone reminded me how important the story of Justin was to Samantha’s history, and it was kind of a shock how much I’d overlooked it.  Here, not so much.

Diana is my favorite part of the 4-part Book of Carter, because… this is when he gets Diana.  Much like Kha’Shing, this is a sword with a personality and an aura that you just can’t escape, though Diana is a much more muted creature.  It’s a story that is core to Carter’s development into the man that we meet in the Sam & Sam books, and it’s the one, I think, where I hit the most surprises.  Carter has, at every turn, surprised me with his struggle with his identity, with his brash disregard for anyone but himself and then his sudden bursts of insight and humanity.  He has always been one of my favorite characters (In my head, he’s always played by Lee Pace…  He is more personified than any other character in the Anadidd’na universe.) but he had a mystique to him that was part of the distance Samantha had from who he was at his core.  She knows a lot about him – more than anyone else – and she trusts him with everything, but he has managed to keep her away from his most core self, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to find, when I went plumbing those deeps.  He’s more than I’d hoped for, and the events that surround his trip to hell to get Diana are unexpectedly different than what I thought they would be.

So.  The last book is Departure, and that should be available in February.  When it goes up, I’ll take Justin down.  I’m expecting to continue generating bonus content and free short work – once the Book of Carter content finishes scrolling through, watch for a ‘FREE’ section up top, here, to keep track of what’s available.

Happy reading!

Justin!

My blog is a little behind my newsletter today.  One of them has to go out first, and the newsletter won.  I announced that Justin was available at InstaFreebie (it is!).

justin-r2

Yay!

As with all of the prequels right now, they aren’t available to buy yet (they will be soon… I’ll talk more about this in a minute) so the only people who get to read them are the ones on my mailing list.  InstaFreebie requires that you sign up in order to get your copy.

Bonus, y’all.

But what surprised me was an e-mail I got from one of the readers I know best, who said she was really excited about this one.  And all of a sudden, I remembered how important this story is.  All of the prequels are *really* important.  That’s why I had to write them.  Carter and Samantha have all of this history, and all of these really important things that happened to them, and those were stories that I needed to get written down.

But Justin.

Justin is a big deal.  And I’d kinda forgotten that amidst all of the other stuff that I’m doing right now.

Now, this isn’t for sale yet.  It has an InstaFreebie exclusive cover, and it will probably not go on sale until the middle of January at least.  It’s possible it doesn’t make it to Amazon until February.  But it’s also only on InstaFreebie for a limited time.  So grab your copy.

Eventually, there are going to be four books in The Book of Carter: Rage, Justin, Diana, and Departure.  Once they’re all available, I’ll bundle them together and do a smidgen of editing to remove the constant explanations of who and what things are (translating angeltongue over and over again, among other things) and put them out in The Book of Carter.  Miss one of the first four?  Want to review the full set?  Let me know.  I’ll start putting together a review list for the book and get you a copy before it goes up for sale.

I’ll eventually do a full blog on it, but the long and short of reviewing for me is this: reviews are necessary for me to be successful.  Good or bad, I need them.  I will not require that you write a review in exchange for *anything*, a review copy or anything else.  I will not tell you that you should like, or review as though you like, anything I write, but I would kindly ask, if you *hate* everything I write… why are you here?  No.  My writing doesn’t fit everyone, and I have no issue with that.  Not all of my writing fits everyone, even if all of the rest of it did.  That’s okay.  The point of a review is for you to flag down other people who are thinking about reading something I’ve written and going: hey, this is what you need to know to make a good decision about whether or not to read this.

It’s not about me or my writing.  It’s about helping me and the people who would genuinely enjoy my work find each other.

So.  Contact me or comment here if you want a review copy, and I’ll get you on the list.

Yay, Justin!

Read MY book, not THEIRS

Amazon says that Urban Fantasy writers are my competitors.

That I can’t review their products, because obviously I’m biased because I sell a competing product.

That I would be bonkers to give my readers a list of 100 books by other authors that are all $1 or less.

Which I do.  Gladly.

Find a book you love.  Find an author you love.  Dude.  Find an author you love more than me.  All of these things are great.

Because Bella Forest is not my competitor.

The Avengers are.

I, Zombie is.

Facebook is.

Because you work.  You have a family.  You have a household that must be vacuumed and mowed and painted.  You have no more than X hours any given day that you use to entertain yourself, and the things that you spend those hours on (and to a lesser degree, the things that you spend those dollars on) are the things that edge out reading one of my books, not the fact that you know about a bunch of authors whose stuff is kind of like mine and you can’t wait to read.

If you read, and if you find that when you read, you find things that you really, really enjoy, books stand a chance of winning out over Arrow and Deadpool.  If you never really enjoy reading, and if you tend to roam around and never find a group of authors whose work you love, you’re going to quit reading.  And then it doesn’t matter how much you love my work, you’re going to get caught up in NCIS reruns and you’re going to get a rewards card at the AMC and you’re going to miss my next release.  And then you’re going to forget about me entirely.

I think that the indie writer revolution has made books newly competitive in an era of Netflix and 3-D movies, because there are *so many*.  It means that you have to know where to find the ones that you like, but so many indie authors are publishing two, three, four, or even more books a year.  As you find writers you love, odds get better and better that they’re going to have a lot of books to read, and you are going to keep looking for books.  In the meantime, I’m going to write and release more, and it’s my hope that as you continue to meet authors you love, I stay up high enough on the list that you’ll keep reading my stuff, too.

But these aren’t my competitors.

They’re my co-conspirators, and we’re trying to get you so addicted to our work that you never, ever leave.

Rangers boxset!

So, things keep stacking up.  I’ll have a blog on it in a day or two explaining where I’m headed, but this is here so I wanted to get it posted:

Rangers Origin, books 1-4 is now available on Amazon at a 30% discount to the price of the four books individually.

All the demonic hack ‘n slash, none of the going-to-get-the-next-book.  Score one for the good guys!  Buy your copy here.

box-set-core-four

Portal Jumpers: Scouted!

If you want to check out my Scout campaign page and nominate my work (please, only if you enjoy the sample; I mean that!), you can check it out here.

Remember: if I get picked up by Amazon publishing as a result of the campaign, you’ll get a free copy of Portal Jumpers!

Portal Jumpers Cover 1