Thought I’d share something I came across a little while ago online that reminded me of Cerin. I mean, what does one get for a quiet, sarcastic, brutal necromancer who loves to fish? How about a nice fishing cap to help shade that beautifully delicate pale skin? Maybe even one with a ridiculously long bill?
I found this hilarious because it really did remind me of my favorite broody necromancer. I’d even buy it for him if he was…you know, tangible.
Speaking of my favorite “broody bois”, as I call them, my school break has begun and I am a woman of my word. Typing away as a particular broody and bloodthirsty lizardman (Captain Calder “Long Dong Silvers” Cerberius) on Of Monsters and Mutiny (Shapeshifting Seas Trilogy Book 3). I think I already let you guys know the entire outline is complete (the extremely succinct outline is 1,220 words by itself, and that doesn’t include other notes of things/scenes to include). I am super excited to get deeper into this thing, because I have some fantastic things in store for this book:
The largest beast battle in the Six Elements universe yet in terms of the beast’s actual size, environmental scale, and number of combatants (yes, including the two giant beasts from Earth, Six Elements Book 2). Yes, it will be on the sea, and yes, it will be during a beautifully dangerous storm. The badass cover art portrays this sea battle. I can’t ****ing wait.
Answers to the many questions you likely have about Neliah Clevon’s character development, in case you are like my husband and viciously shipping her and Calder while demanding answers for her mysterious behavior.
Many more explosions and the destruction of property, thanks to Koby’s love of offensive alchemy.
The exploration of multiple locations never before visited (the uncharted beastlands make their first ever visual appearance here, and one particular ‘lost city’ just might be visited before its brutal destruction, wink-wink).
The most brutal kill of a friendly character I’ve ever written in terms of gore and method. (And yes, I know one of the deaths from Stemming the Tide (Shapeshifting Seas Trilogy Book 2) was brutal, but this one just hurts to even think about.) Figured I might as well give a character I love a gory death I love to make his/her legacy memorable in more than one way.
Anyway, that’s just a teaser of things to come. I’m back to work in 3…2…1…
As many of you know from reading my updates over the last few years, I’ve experienced a lot of death. I have only let you guys know about the closest family members (four deaths) over the last two years, but there have been many others (family friends and acquaintances) that I have grieved through. Only two of these many deaths have been people over the age of 40. Within the last week, I recently learned that the only childhood best friend of mine I still spoke to was a victim in an accidental (and negligent on behalf of the shooter) shooting by her boyfriend. She had just turned 33 and left behind a daughter and three loving pets. She had a wonderful career as a dog trainer and was well-known in her field in our local area. Meanwhile, her boyfriend is undergoing criminal charges.
I’m more in shock than anything. I have experienced grieving so many deaths over the last few years that even one of a close friend fails to elicit a stronger reaction from me. I am a little concerned about how this is affecting me. I am already someone who isn’t outwardly emotional, but death seriously affects me. I suffer from serious intrusive thoughts; when it came to my brother’s death last year, I kept wondering, “Did he know he was dying? Did he call for help?” Now, with my friend’s recent death, I wonder, “Did she panic in her last moments? Did she plead internally not to die? Did she think of her daughter? Her friends? Her unrealized goals?”
This obsession with death, grief, and its resulting impact that I have always had (hence all the casualties and psychological trauma in my books) is growing ever larger considering all the tragedies of the last few years. I am not a risk to myself, in case you are concerned, dear readers. I feel more and more accepting of death with each person I love who passes. The only negative way this has affected me is now I get way more concerned when one of the few people I still have with me expresses illness or injury. I used to be the kind of person who thought, “Take some ibuprofen and get over it!” Now, I’m instantly concerned and wanting to make sure it’s not something that will kill them, because death is a real possibility for any of us at any moment.
Let’s end this section on a positive note. Readers, take it from someone who has lost so many people recently that I have few left: appreciate those you love while they’re here, because you may never get the chance again. Like I said, so many of these losses have been young people. People I grew up with, or even those much younger than me who had barely even started working as adults. Causes of death have included suicide, overdose (multiple), accidental shooting, and illness. To make matters worse, I had even reached out to the suicide victim a few years ago letting him know he could call me anytime since he was going through a rough time and I knew what that was like. To know he decided to end it all without reaching out to anyone hurts. You can try to read the signs, but some people work hard to make themselves unreadable. Guilt is unwelcome during grief, and thankfully, I have no reason to feel it. Still, don’t let life get in the way of letting those close to you know what they mean to you. Most of my readers are around my age or younger, and so you might feel this is irrelevant to you. Trust me, at the age of 32, I never thought I would be going to as many funerals as my grandparents used to each year as their friends died off naturally to old age. Yet, here we are. I am an expert at writing and reading eulogies at funerals, and I’ve only had two years of practice.
You guys already know about the balance I’m going through between school and writing. I took a break around Christmas to write. Ended up relaxing a lot and gaming instead while I worked up the motivation. I decided to start another class for the next term (early March). Within a week before class started, BOOM! Motivation hit. I completed the massive outline for Of Monsters and Mutiny (Shapeshifting Seas Book 3), and then I pushed through a chapter in no time.
Then class started again. Ha. It’s statistics, too, so it’s taking up all my time. It’s hard to write literature when I’m pumping out 19-page mathematical reports in a week’s time.
You’ll be happy to know that this has done nothing to remove my motivation, though. I really love the Shapeshifting Seas Trilogy and can’t wait to get back to it (something about Calder and Koby’s friendship makes me feel at home in these books, and the gore from Calder’s maulings is much welcome to a gorehound like me). I am taking another break to write that starts in late-April, and I am considering making that break much longer and/or permanent. Book sales have been really good lately, and there’s a book-related development in the works that may make things even better for me (I’ll announce it only when things are certain). I might go back to writing full-time depending on how things go–as long as I can limit myself so I don’t turn into an over-achieving workaholic again, I should be fine. We’ll see–and I’ll update you as things progress.
Thank you all for reading. I appreciate your emails; they keep coming through and it’s awesome to hear from my readers, even if it’s only to sympathize over tragedies you guys have experienced since some of you are going through the same grieving process I am. We’re all only human–and it’s refreshing to be reminded of that sometimes, since it means we’re not alone.
This will be a different kind of post. As you might know, I’m not a huge reader myself. As a little girl, I used to read 2+ books a day. As I grew older and started writing what I wanted to read, I stopped having to look for it! That’s probably why, as an adult, I read maybe one or two books per year not authored by myself. However, lately I’ve realized I still love to read; I am just interested in different genres now. I have read seven books in the last month. Genre? Historical non-fiction. This is not a new obsession; I have been a history lover for nearly thirty years, particularly of ancient/medieval times and military strategy and siege warfare. If you’ve read The Six Elements series, you already understand how this has influenced my work, but for the rest of this post, I will describe particular influences and how it shaped the characters, worlds, and epic battles you’ve read and loved. (Careful: some light spoilers may follow, but I’ll do my best to alert you to them.)
Childhood History Fascination + Favorite Historical Figures
As I learned about various historical figures as a little girl, I became fascinated by the context in which these figures developed and grew. Some of my favorite historical figures are Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Joan of Arc, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Oda Nobunaga. Most of these figures are either controversial or are considered anti-heroes; Genghis Khan, after all, slaughtered millions, Attila murdered his own brother for power, Joan of Arc is rumored to have been driven and ruined by mental illness, Napoleon’s over-confidence led to the death of thousands of his own troops in the Battle of Waterloo, and Nobunaga was known to brutally eliminate any opposition. I learned from a young age that the atrocities or controversies these figures involved themselves in were not only common throughout history, they were expected or necessary for the person’s success. This is part of the reason I became so obsessed with the darker side of humanity before it became pivotal to my art: the most successful figures of history tend to be controversial.
Another type of history I was fascinated by, siege weaponry and warfare, grew due to video games. At the age of 10, I developed a blueprint for a castle keep on graph paper (modeled after one in Age of Empires II, my favorite video game at the time) and started building it from scratch in the woods behind my house. (I didn’t get very far, having only started on its base, but I did chop down a small tree for lumber by myself. Considering I was ten and super tiny, I was so proud of this. Ha!) I picked up a few books on siege warfare around this time, but they were mostly informational picture-type books (think the Smithsonian). Most of the strategies I developed were instead through strategy video games. I remember failing a lot of missions when I’d start a new game just because I wanted to try various strategies and understand why they failed before restarting with a new strategy. It is through this failure that I learned what worked, but more importantly, why it worked.
History and Military Strategy Seeps into My Art…
When I started The New World series, all I knew was that I wanted to write a dystopian series that went further into oppressive territory than any dystopian I’d ever read (1984, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, to name a few). I had a concept for the world and one of its characters, and nothing else. I also had a love of gore and hyper-violence that I’d never tried connecting with a published work before (only in stories written as a kid). Combining the two, I had my entire concept. An oppressive world, an authoritarian futuristic American government, and assassins for main characters who used a variety of weapons (daggers, crossbows, pistols, and whatever they could get their hands on) to fight back against their oppressors with as much violence as they were met with. These books were heavily inspired by the Half-Life series of video games, but as the series progressed, the higher the stakes and the more territory the Resistance gained in their fight against the government, and tactics changed from espionage missions to full-on military planning, sieges of political buildings, and civilian insurrection.
History influenced The New World series in a lot of ways. When I came up with the concept, it was 2012 and I was pissed off at the rights American citizens had lost due to the excuse of security since the 1990s. I wrote the series as a continuation of real American history–where I fully believed we could go as a country if we aren’t willing to stand up for our rights now and at potential risk of our own lives. This is a huge part of the reason the series ended as it did with such a gut-punch of a provocative message. Without spoilers for those of you who haven’t read it, The New World series is not a normal series about characters on a journey from A to B; it is instead a series about the shortsightedness of humanity when they ignore the trials and triumphs of history, and the futility in fighting for people who refuse to change themselves even at the risk of their own lives or freedoms. The New World series is, in effect, a love letter to history and what will become of us if we do not learn from our past. Most fan mail I have received for this series tells me it makes them think of the future and how to avoid the situations I wrote of. My advice? Learn from the past and act in the present. We are currently living in tomorrow’s history, and we can only direct the future today.
The Six Elements series was written next, and the only reason I created its characters and world was because I wanted to destroy most of it (ha). The Mount & Blade franchise of video games, where you essentially lead sieges as a war general and train, equip, and fight alongside an army, led to the Six Elements. I love the games to pieces, don’t get me wrong, but they are based on medieval weapons and warfare only, and I wanted so badly to write about devastating magic used tactically in a military setting. I developed Kai’s character on many of the historical war generals I have come to admire, though her main military strategy (overwhelm and overrun with absolute power and numbers) is based on my own preferred strategy. Essentially, I dabbled in military strategy in The New World series, but the only reason The Six Elements exists is to showcase it.
The Battle of Highland Pass (from Air, Book 4) was the first battle I ever planned out beforehand–yes, even before Fire, Book 1, was written. In fact, I developed Eteri’s landscape to support it, using its cliff-sides as natural barriers. The “pinching” strategy of the enemy army, thus filing them down in size, was directly inspired by the Battle of Thermopylae, where a vastly superior force in numbers was held off for days by a defending force only a fraction of its size. (This battle first inspired a particular scene in The Calamity, The New World Book 5, where Melanie Adams and Billy Johns fight off dozens of bloodthirsty guards using two pistols, lots of ammo, and a hallway.)
Many of the decisions for Six Elements lore were made in order to have realistic diplomatic/military squabbles throughout the series, mirroring similar resource demands throughout history. For example, Chairel’s monopoly on magic would only be a reason to fight if it had realistic consequences on its geographical neighbors. Hammerton’s dwarves were reliant on and fearful of magic, keeping them fairly compliant in military and diplomatic matters with Chairel; Nahara desperately needed water mages due to its location (desert) and its natural “fauna” in the form of giant beasts (Spoilers for Earth, Book 2: Mantus, who could only be defeated using water to reveal itself, and spoilers for Stemming the Tide, SST Book 2, Basa’ran, who absorbed the nutrients and water of Nahara’s northern region, creating the Desiccated Wastelands and depleting the country of what once was a reliable historical water source after the beast’s migration and settlement in the Golden Era).
Quick Side-track: I realized I just inadvertently proved once again how deep the Six Elements lore goes outside the novels, because the information I just released about Basa’ran has never been stated before. A friend of mine who reads my books even commented about how Basa’ran’s emergence in Earth was awesome, but seemingly random. Nope! There are reasons for everything in my books. Basa’ran has a history in this universe, and the big boy also has future roles to play. After all, the beast changed Nahara’s landscape. After his migration in Earth, things would change once again. Natural water sources will reemerge, soil composition will replenish over time, the ecosystem will evolve, and Nahara will look quite different in books set in the Immortal Era. 😉
Demented Military Strategies Planned for the Six Elements but Not Used…
If you’ve completed the Six Elements series, you’ve likely read my author’s note and understand things originally ended much differently. There are two particular military strategies I originally planned Kai to use in Life, Book 5, back when she was a little more demented.
The Invasion of Hallmar – The Halls of the Dead, one in each dwarven-run city, was a piece of dwarven lore I only created for one purpose: to exploit it strategically. By Book 5, Kai was planned to be over-powerful, at least a little insane and becoming more so with every minute, and willing to win at all costs, no matter how barbaric. The latter half of the Six Elements series was originally meant to be “let’s watch the most powerful mage ever destroy the world”. Because–well, because that’s awesome. Ha. The Invasion of Hallmar ended up being super interesting for its strategy utilizing dwarven mines, stealth, and mind-control of siege weapon engineers, but what I originally planned was for Kai to use psychological torture as her main weapon. Though the strategy wasn’t set in stone (the hows or whens), I planned on Kai routing the majority of Hallmar’s citizens into its massive Hall of the Dead, trapping them inside, and then raising the corpses of their stored loved ones to massacre them. This is why I created the lore that Halls of the Dead are so massive and dwarves are so respectful of their dead (embalming procedures, more fearful of necromancy). It was all so this horrifically demented and awesome strategy would work: a well-kept supply of corpses + exploiting fear and low morale = a city easily taken. 😉
Hammerton’s Siege of Trebuchets and Corpses – The steampunk-esque side of the dwarves was not originally intended, but given the introduction of certain types of technology (cannons) I could not use trebuchets in any strategy (cannons make trebuchets irrelevant). Due to my obsessive love of trebuchets, I wanted a siege in Hammerton (had not decided the city before the plans changed) to pose a huge inconvenience to Kai by way of sturdy walls and stubborn dwarves who refused to capitulate. After a while of storming the walls with stone, I planned on having her command her soldiers to gather corpses (from the current siege and previous sieges) so she could start flinging them over the walls. Once inside, the command would be given to raise the corpses, thus destroying the city from the inside-out as the dwarves who refused to open the gates were massacred by their own brethren.
If you don’t know much about medieval history, number two in particular was a common tactic used during sieges. Normally, corpses were flung over walls for two reasons: one, resources for projectiles were running low, and/or two, it lowered defenders’ morale. It is a fantastic medieval siege tactic; I just thought it would be made a little more devastating with necromancy.
History Book Recommendations
The reason this whole post came about was due to some fan mail I received from a reader who was so excited to see his love of historical military tactics replicated in a fantasy setting. I’m used to discussing video games with fans, but this was the first time I realized some of you might actually be lovers of history like me, too! I hope this post was interesting for you, as I tried to link my love of history to how it has affected the characters and worlds you know and love.
Most of the books I have been reading lately are related to holy wars. Religion is the cause for many wars and countless deaths, and it is fascinating to read about how many people willingly gave their lives to a man-made war for a supernatural deity. To a great extent, the historical non-fiction books I love the most do their best to explain the historical context around these figures and why they believed so strongly in their actions. The following recommendations are wonderful introductions to holy war history for any of you not yet well-versed:
I hope I’ve sparked your interest in history! I might include more history references in my future posts now that I know some of you are interested, especially since it is so influential for my books. I hope 2021 is going better for you than the scourge that is 2020.
I’m not sure exactly what sparked this, but there has been a drove of sales of my first published series, the gritty dystopian thriller series The New World. Oddly, most of the sales have been paperbacks. If you are a fan of my special oppressive style of dystopian and you’re concerned because all you see on the website right now is fantasy, don’t worry. I haven’t abandoned the dystopian subgenre as a concept; in fact, I have one book tentatively titled The Male Experimentthat I have been itching to write for sometime now. Its blurb and cover concept are all ready; it’s just the book that needs written. Thank you, my new dystopian fans, for picking up my books and I hope you’ll stick around for more; if the psychological PTSD concept of The New World series is part of what intrigued you, I promise you all my characters in my fantasy books go through serious psychological challenges. It’s kind of “my thing” as an author.
Dystopian is the only genre I write that I also read (I’m not a fan of fantasy books other than mine, only fantasy video games, and while I wrote a lot of horror as a child I’ve never published it). I love dystopian. But my fantasy books are what pay the bills, so I got caught in a whirlwind of creativity there. I foresee The Six Elements being important to my career for a long time yet, but I desire to balance out these releases with other genres in the future (science fiction, horror). Other than The Male Experiment, I also have a grimdark duology (a morbid mix of dark fantasy and dystopian) in the works. After the third Shapeshifting Seas book is out, I will likely work on something non-Six Element related for those of you itching to try something new or different of mine. If you ever want to see what kinds of ideas I have in the pipeline, check out my Upcoming Book Releases page.
My last update detailed just how hard I’ve had it this year. Between that update and this one, my family has experienced yet another loss; the third of 2020 and the fourth within a year and a half. Honestly, I’ve become a little numb to death and grieving. At a certain point, I keep thinking, I have to have lost so many people I’ll have no one left, and then I’ll have nothing else to lose. My mindset in this sense is absurdly similar to Cerin’s in Rise of a Necromancer. This is why I love writing the way I do and involving myself in character psyches. You never know just how close you are to breaking or losing it like your favorite anti-heroes. When you think about it, the average person is so close to snapping into insanity from just one twist of fate or tragedy, and that is both terrifying and intriguing. Maybe that’s why I write about mental breakdowns so often. Normal people are boring. 😉
Anyway, my latest college term has ended. I somehow maintained my 4.0 GPA (yay!) and my break has officially started. It is time to see if I have the mental acuity to get back into writing. I won’t be the working powerhouse I was in previous years when I worked 100-hour weeks (honestly, that’s inhumane, now that I look back on it), but I’m going to make an effort. I currently am splitting my time between three jobs (real estate, writing, and a part-time gig I picked up as a supplement for school), so I will be forced to write in shorter bursts. But no matter what happens, I will keep you updated here. My first concern is finishing the Shapeshifting Seas Trilogy with its final book, Of Monsters and Mutiny. Its phenomenal cover art is on the wall behind me as a source of motivation. Calder is a disturbed and intriguing badass and the friendship between him and Koby is, I’m convinced, the best and most layered I’ve ever written. Their story deserves its final chapter. When I’m this psychologically damaged from grief and loss is when I think I write as Calder the best, so now’s a better time than any.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all. I hope your year has gone better than mine, and let’s plan on 2021 reviving us all.
It has been months since I last posted. I apologize profusely. I would be lying if I said I’d meant to. The truth is that I completely upended my life months ago because I felt lost, unsupported, forgotten, and thoroughly depressed. As much as I wanted to write, I felt no motivation to. I love writing, but the stresses of the “public figure” aspect to it can be crushing when you pile on all the grief, loss, and depression I’ve experienced since July 2019.
It is almost 8:00 in the morning and I haven’t yet been to bed, so I’ll keep this short. I won’t go into many details…basically, I gave up writing many months ago due to everything I was going through. I went back to school to completely change my career. I have been working multiple jobs and going to school full-time over the last few months. Until a concerned fan emailed me a few days ago. He acknowledged my losses and told me Rise of a Necromancer was the best fantasy book he had ever read. Suddenly, there was a light at the end of that endless dark tunnel. That support, compassion, and acknowledgement means the world to me.
I cannot make any promises, but I am requesting to take a break from my school for the next term. I am going to try to write full-time again. It might not work. I may find it’s no longer viable for me. Either way, I can’t go back to working as many hours as I used to because I know it’s not healthy or sustainable. Still, I want so badly to continue writing books for you and for me. There are so many ideas–both in the Six Elements universe and out of it–that I feel a burning desire to explore. I want this. Being an author was always my dream career since I was a little girl. It still is, but the realities of being an author are oftentimes hard to reason with. I also have to be realistic and honest about doing what is best for me. Either way, as I approach this rocky journey I will keep you updated here.
Black Friday Sale
From 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 24th to 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 1st, five of my books are going on sale (two on my pen-name). Fire, Rise of a Necromancer, and The Resistance (all Book Ones and/or series entry points) will be just $0.99, or 75% off. This is the first sale I’ve had in a year, so if there’s a book listed here that you’re interested in but haven’t picked up, do so now! Given recent events I don’t know when I’ll do this again.
Finally, thank you so much to those of you who have stuck by me through these tumultuous times. For those of you who have supported me with buying my books or leaving reviews throughout this time, it means so much to me. If you have been checking the website and wondering where the heck I’ve gone to, I do appreciate it. I used to post regularly and I have spoken about depression/suicide before, so I know it’s scary when suddenly updates stop coming. I am grateful for your support and concern. Like I said earlier, it was only due to one particular fan’s overwhelming support and empathy that I am motivated to try again. This proves your support really does matter.Authors are only human.
2020 has been a shitshow of a year, so I am aware many of you may have had your own heartaches and tribulations. I am empathetic and hopeful we can all move past it and grow from these experiences, hopefully together. As always, if you ever want to share with a friendly ear, my comments/email are open.
Expect an update around Christmas or the beginning of 2021, as that is when this school term is over and I’ll re-evaluate writing full-time. I have my document for Of Monsters and Mutiny saved and ready. I don’t know what the future holds for me and my books, but I am going to try my best to make it a good one.
Life itself read my last post and decided to throw more my way. Just two weeks ago, I experienced the third loss of a close loved one in the last year, and attended yet another funeral last Wednesday in the midst of this pandemic. My family currently awaits updates from my last remaining grandparent, who is quarantined with COVID-19. We are not allowed to visit him, and due to poor hearing we can’t talk to him over the phone. I’m beyond numb to death, end-of-life sickness, grief, and bad news at this point. Before the last year, I’d only attended one funeral and one or two services in my entire life. Now, here I sit at my computer desk, with all that remains of three loved ones nearby: an urn of ashes, and two separate vases of dried, dying funeral roses from two different funerals. My brother’s services were three months ago, yet I can’t bring myself to throw out the drooping roses. It’s not like he ever saw them. Perhaps I have an attachment to them because his funeral was the last event I will ever attend for him, and that strikes me as a lie. There are countless birthday parties and holidays I remember spending with him, but his funeral is the last there will ever be. Now my grandmother’s funeral roses are beside my brother’s, fresher and redder but slowly losing their perkiness. Before long they will turn into ash like everything else.
I haven’t been forcing myself to work set hours for obvious reasons. I have Of Monsters and Mutiny (Shapeshifting Seas Trilogy Book 3) up in a document right now. I’m not as far in it as I’d like to be given recent events, but I won’t give up. I wanted to update you guys because I realized I haven’t in a while, and I imagine some readers notice that and think the worst. Usually tragic events cause me to write more (heck, my beloved Thomas died on July 1, 2019, and I’ve published three books since then including on my pen-name), but there’s only so much one can take before you hold your hands up in bitter surrender.
Like I said, my grandfather’s situation is volatile, so it’s possible tragedy will come to pass a fourth time in less than a year. No matter the outcome, I will update when I can. Calder’s story isn’t finished yet, but it deserves to be, so I’ll keep heading in that direction. If anything, all this emotional whiplash keeps me grounded in Calder’s headspace. I wouldn’t be able to describe these emotions/situations so effectively if I hadn’t been through them…though that isn’t an invitation for more.
Thank you guys for being patient as I traverse this difficult time. I hope you and your family/friends are safe and healthy, and let those close to you know how much you care. You never know when you’ll never get another chance.
Thank you all for your patience and understanding over the last few chaotic months. Some of you reached out to me to express your sympathies over the passing of my brother last month, and I greatly appreciate it. Nothing will bring Rocky back, and nothing can make this easier on the many who loved him. Still, sometimes it helps to remember that we’re all in the same boat. Some die young. Some are dealt injustices that others never deal with. The rest of us are left to pick up the pieces and try to put the puzzle back together. Life is rarely fair, nor does it make sense most of the time, and it refuses to cave to our wills in terms of planning. Sometimes, bad things just happen and we are reminded how small we are in the world when we realize we are powerless.
Oddly enough, going through a lot of dark times in my life is what drives me to write such dark themes. I am obsessed with the fact that a life can drastically change in a millisecond due to decision-making (good or bad) or situations outside our control. I am an extreme optimist now, but there was a moment in my pre-teens when I tied a noose around my neck and took a step off a chair that I intended to be fatal. Thank the gods the suicide attempt failed (and this was as a result of extreme bullying in the early 2000s, so no need to be concerned now), but the fact remains: the same person who once decided life wasn’t worth living loves it now. That doesn’t mean I’m immune to negativity, of course; hell, losing two people I love dearly over the last year has put me through the roughest patch I’ve had in a while. But still: this idea that life can be both stunningly beautiful and outrageously cruel is one I often mimic in my books because it fascinates me. The unpredictability of life is what makes it worth living, even when things like loss, depression, and fear threaten our happiness.
I’m bringing all this up now to link it back to book news–which I know is what you’ve all been waiting for. I’m currently self-quarantining due to suffering some symptoms of the coronavirus, so it’s giving me a lot of time to game and plan. While putting an absurd amount of time in Farming Simulator 2019 (74 hours in a week, DON’T JUDGE ME), I’ve been outlining Of Monsters and Mutiny (Shapeshifting Seas Trilogy Book 3) and linking all sorts of pre-planned situations together. I re-read Stemming the Tide a few weeks ago and fell in love with it all over again. I love being inside Calder’s head. He’s so disturbed and traumatized that it’s interesting to explore. This is the second time I’ve explored severe PTSD in a main character; for those of you who are fans of mine only through the Six Elements series and/or universe, if you like my attention-to-detail when it comes to character psyche, I recommend trying my New World series (dystopian war thriller). That series is dedicated to the development of PTSD in an assassin who fights it off in her own head as she fights against an authoritarian American government. Whether she’s successful or not and how much it costs her is something you’d have to read the books to find out, but the New World series ending is my favorite I’ve ever written, so I’m biased. Ha.
Anyway, just know that Of Monsters and Mutiny is in the development stages. My releases may come out less often now, but I promise I’ll never become George R. R. Martin. 😛 Besides, like I said in my last post, I’m dedicating this book to Rocky, so it’ll be out before you know it. My brother loved hearing about Calder’s badassery and seeing him in artwork.
Seeking Cover Artists!
Speaking of artwork, I’ve had a hard time reaching my cover artist these past few months, so I’m on the hunt for dark fantasy artists whose art style is similar to that on the covers of Rise of a Necromancer and the Shapeshifting Seas Trilogy. If you are an artist or know an artist who is interested in developing book covers with me, send contact information, commission prices, and links to art portfolios to firstname.lastname@example.org. I do have timing requirements and other things we can discuss, but I’m super easy to work with and go above and beyond to support my artists. This offer will remain even if I get into contact with my existing artist–I often have too many requests for his schedule, so I’m always on the lookout for artists I can hire on a semi-regular basis (a few times per year). It should be noted that I will not only work with artists getting started in the industry, I kind of prefer it. I’d rather give work to a skilled unknown who needs experience, as long as that person is talented, honest, and professional. No cover design experience necessary–only the artwork is required, as I have a graphic designer who does the rest. 🙂
Follow Me on Instagram (Or…You Know, Don’t)
Last but not least, just tonight I started posting on Instagram if any of you are interested in following me there. Honestly, I joined the site years ago to get my daily fix of sparkly car porn and never planned on posting, but I thought, “Why the hell not?” I figure I’ll mostly be posting cats, memes, cats, book-related things, cats, vidya games, cats, and maybe the occasional travel photo if I ever can go anywhere again. *Shakes fist at sky and yells, “CORONAVIRUUUSSS!!!”*
I will not be posting anything political, but my sense of humor is so dark and inappropriate that I can’t promise not to offend anyone. In fact, I promise to be a good girl and cross a few lines. Within my first five posts, I’ve already insulted babies. That’s bound to offend somebody, but babies are sooo overrated.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned, stay safe, and wash your hands often, you dirty bastards.
My last post informed you guys of huge changes to my writing/release schedule. While I didn’t outright say it at the time (since it’s more personal), I decided to write less not only because my efforts are vastly higher than returns, but also because I wanted more time with family and friends. I admit I’ve neglected plenty of relationships in order to live up to fan expectations for a rapid release schedule. Considering the realization that this lifestyle garners no additional fan support, the trade-off no longer seemed worth it.
Thank goodness I made this decision when I did. My one and only brother Rocky passed away this past Sunday at the too-young age of 35 under unexpected and tragic circumstances. Though his ADD kept him too distracted to read books, Rocky was one of my greatest supporters. He saw firsthand how I’d hole away to write books as a child and couldn’t seem to believe I’d “made it.” Rocky was always so excited to see my yet-to-be-released cover art and tried his best to keep up with all the Six Elements characters even though he didn’t read the books (Cerin seemed to be his favorite, followed by Calder; Rocky was a sucker for necromancers and werewolves, though a reptilian badass seemed to fit the bill nicely for him). Rocky was four years older than me and threw himself headfirst into the gothic phase of the late ’90s and early 2000s (he remained gothic until his final moments even long after others had moved on). It was this obsession with darkness and the macabre that affected me as a young girl. Rocky and I shared a lot of the same interests (horror, dark fantasy, necromancy, guns & bladed weaponry, gore, villains/anti-heroes, etc.), and not only is that likely why I’m still so involved with these things today, but it also explains how involved Rocky was with my books despite not reading them. He loved the themes I explored, how dark and gory things could get, and he was so proud of me for working as hard as I did. When Of Monsters and Mutiny is released, I will dedicate it to Rocky. May he be immortalized in memory through the written art of dark fantasy that he so loved.
As I’ve talked about before, I suffered a major familial loss before this in July 2019 that I’m still working through (Thomas, as noted in Origin of the Tainted Bloodline‘s dedication), and I expect to lose my remaining grandparents this year (rapidly declining health and mental faculties). My recent hiatus is allowing me to take the time I need with my family to mourn and figure out how we move on from here. I appreciate your patience as I try to get my life in order so I can once more focus on books. You guys know I keep my promises, and I’ve promised Rocky a book. Of Monsters and Mutiny will come eventually, but I have to focus on healing and family first.
First things first: if you missed Stemming the Tide‘s release, check out its new release post or buy it here.
It’s taken me longer than usual to get this update out to you guys, and for good reason; I’ve fought with myself over how to approach this or whether to inform you at all. I try to stick to the positive when it comes to my posts here, but sometimes negative things affect my art/work and need to be said (like my depression posts late last year).
Long story short:
I’m reducing my workload to a fraction of what it’s been since late-2017. This means less books and longer times between releases.
What does this mean for fans?
I will forever be a writer. Though my workload will decrease dramatically (from 100 hours per week to 40 or less), I will still write. Sometimes for this name, sometimes for my pen-name, sometimes for myself. I will still release books, but I’m not going to force myself to stick to a rapid release schedule. This means that instead of three to five books a year, you might see one or two. Nothing has changed with the content of my art; I’m still developing Six Elements novels set in multiple eras and will work on books in other speculative fiction genres that have been in the pipeline for years. They’ll simply release less often.
Brutally honest explanation for these major changes:
Since late-2017 (coinciding with the releases of Books 1-3 of the Six Elements series), I have worked around 100 hours per week writing, editing, researching, marketing, and promoting. This is…insane. To be frank, the effort I’ve put into these books far surpasses the success I’ve seen or the support from readers, and after nearly three years of working like this, I can no longer justify working myself to death for such little returns. Over the years I’ve asked politely for reviews or other means of helping to promote my books in ways I cannot do myself; unfortunately, though the Six Elements series has had thousands of readers, only a few dozen review. I cannot resort to begging, nor should I have to, and because I refuse to resort to common shady tactics in the indie publishing industry (like paying to get reviews or coverage), my books have a harder time reaching readers. Instead, I advertise, which eats thousands of dollars out of my profits per year. Basically, I am working 2.5 times the amount of most full-time workers for less than minimum wage with expenses, and I just can’t do it anymore.
Those few of you who do support me publicly are the sole reason I’ve worked so hard for as long as I have. You guys are amazing, and every single reader who enjoys my work owes a lot to you and your support; without it, I would have released less or not at all like I’m resorting to doing now.
I love writing, but due to a lack of support and high costs to maintain my modest success for a high workload, I resent publishing. I could either work myself to death until I burn out and quit, or I could slow down massively, write only when I want to, and maintain a presence in the writing world, even if it’s much smaller than before. I’m taking the lesser of two evils. I would rather be happy than rich, and this way those of you who love my work will still get some of it rather than none at all.
I hope you understand how this lifestyle has become unsustainable for me. It’s time to dial back my workload to meet the level of the success and support it garners. I will still use this website as my main hub of communication, and my newsletter will still send out excerpts and new releases. Nothing is changing but my workload and future release schedule.
In the meantime, I’m taking a much needed gaming break before delving into Of Monsters and Mutiny (Shapeshifting Seas Trilogy Book 3). I previously planned for a Quarter 2 2020 release date after moving it up from Quarter 3. Will this change with the new schedule? I don’t know yet, but I’ll keep you updated here as always.
They may have lost their ship and cargo after audaciously challenging the pirates that rule the sea, but Calder Cerberius, Koby Bacia, and their crew of misfits refuse to surrender. The pirate leader’s right-hand man, Cale Woodburn, plans to establish a stranglehold in the wildlands and steal its precious local resource: ferris, the herbal drug shapeshifting beastmen rely on to prevent the agony of transformations from breaking their minds. Calder and Koby’s crew pursue Cale across the seas to regain control of the lucrative ferris trade and save the wildlands from ruin.
Indigenous tribes of beastmen rise up to defend their homeland. Shapeshifters on both sides transform into beasts of the land, sea, and sky to brawl to the death. A run-in with an ancient sea creature of apocalyptic size gives Calder the idea to spark a massive rebellion against the pirates using dangerous and unconventional means, but other mercenaries will only agree to come to his aid once he defeats the deranged Cale Woodburn and restores peace to the wildlands. When Calder finally catches up with Cale, two mentally unstable captains will clash in beast form until only one emerges the victor from a pool of blood.
Stemming the Tide (Shapeshifting Seas Trilogy Book 2) is available here! It is $4.99 Kindle/$18.99 paperback (and considering one of you already bought a paperback before the Kindle release, you’ll have your copy before I do since author copies take forever to ship. I’m jealous!).
I hope you guys are having a great holiday season! May beastman battles and misfit shenanigans make it even better. As I do with all releases, I’m updating my website with all applicable lore/timeline/art from Stemming the Tide. Two of my all-time favorite Calder quotes come from this book, so his character profile has been updated with those as well.
Of Monsters and Mutiny (Book 3) is in the development stages. The epic cover (showcasing a particular ancient sea beast prevalent in the trilogy) is already complete and hanging on the wall of my gaming room inspiring me as I write. I can’t wait for you guys to see it. In the meantime, I have yet to mop up my drool from ogling this cover, so I’m at risk of floating away in a flood of my own making. Considering I survive, I’ll get to writing soon.
I hope you guys love Stemming the Tide. As always, I’d be appreciative if you left a review when you’re done. I’m relying only on reviews to promote this trilogy until it’s complete since advertising eats through all profits on books with few ratings until it becomes entirely unaffordable to publish. This is a hard business to gain traction in! I’m grateful to those of you who show your support and spread the word to others you think might enjoy my books. You guys are undeniably awesome.
Considering Stemming the Tide is releasing earlier than expected, I’ve moved Of Monsters and Mutiny‘s prospective release date up from Quarter 3 2020 to Quarter 2 (April-June) as reflected on my Upcoming Book Releases page. Stay tuned for writing and research updates! 🙂
P.S. For those of you who somehow haven’t gotten your copy of Fire (The Six Elements Book 1) or Rise of a Necromancer yet, I have a huge promo going on right now to start your new year off right. Both books are temporarily 75% off and you can pick them up for just $0.99 each, so now’s the time!