Category Archives: writing

Exploring the Tewakwe

Those of you who are familiar with the Vinlanders’ Saga, will remember that the Tewakwe have had prominent roles in the first two books of the series. Tiva’ti and her people will return in the next (still untitled) book. (That’s why I asked my cover designer, Jaycee DeLorenzo, to put petroglyphs on the new covers.) I’ve reread the earlier novels and have been refreshing my memory of the research into their background. Hopefully that will keep me from making any obvious errors! (Yes, authors do sometimes forget what they wrote in the earliest books of a series.)

How does one research a people who live in a fantasy world that’s associated with  Norse mythology? Well, like the Nuvinlanders, the Tewakwe are transplants from our own past. The Anasazi built elaborate cliff dwellings and places of worship, and disappeared from the American Southwest in the 13th Century. Their thriving civilization seemed to just vanish, giving rise to many speculative theories about their fate.

In the Vinlander Saga I imagine that the Anasazi were brought to Alfheim, or the Fifth World as they call it, by Spider Grandmother. I renamed them the Tewakwe, because the word “Anasazi” is actually a Navajo word, sometimes translated “ancient enemies.” They wouldn’t call themselves that, so I made up a name that they might have identified with.

As for their customs, I was inspired by the Hopi, a descendant tribe who still live in the northeastern part of Arizona. They are a very private people, but we do know that their underlying values are compassion, humility, cooperation, respect, and universal earth stewardship. I’m trying to let this guide me as I develop my characters, while still remembering that they are flawed human beings—just as we all are.

Just in case you missed it last month, Dangerous Talents is free today (Thursday, 9/24). Download a copy, or give one to a friend if you haven’t already.

Stay safe and happy reading!

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Tell me what you think…

I’ve planned out 2019 and the writing has resumed on APOSTATE, book three in the Celestial Affairs series. One of my recent tasks was writing a product description for the back of the book and the online store.

What do I think about when I compose one of these?

  • Who is the story about? This may seem obvious, but sometimes secondary CA.Apostate2characters want to shoulder their way onto this tiny stage. Don’t let them. (In this case, Dave carries a significant subplot, but I don’t think he belongs in the product description.)
  • What are the emotional stakes? Make them relatable. Why should the reader care?
  • Is the language strong and powerful?
  • What’s the main conflict or challenge?
  • Is the genre clear? (If this description doesn’t say “Paranormal Romance” then I failed.)

Here’s my first go at the blurb for APOSTATE. How well did I do?

Kellan’s job as an Enforcer for the secretive U’dahmi isolates him from other Celestials. He’s hidden thousands of years among humans who never knew who or what he really is. But when his partner disappears, Kellan must let a mortal woman with powerful psychic skills join him on the hunt.

An occult dynasty stole almost everything from Tasha. Her parents, her career, her friends. All she has left are her newly discovered abilities and the unexpected connection she has with a vampire-like U’dahmi. Dangerous or not, she’s not going to let him leave her behind.


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The Joys of Revision

CA.Apostate2A while back I told you that I was about a third of the way through APOSTATE, Book Three in the Celestial Affairs series. I was sure at that time that I’d be closing in on finishing the 1st draft by now. Not so. I am, in fact, at about the halfway mark.

Why so slow? In addition to me not ever being a fast writer, I kept getting this nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I learned the hard way with FORBIDDEN TALENTS to listen to that voice. (It took me six months to figure out what was wrong with that book.) So I went back and revised. And pondered. And revised some more. As a result, I think APOSTATE will wind up being a better, more layered book, but it also won’t be released until early next year. (Here’s the cover, by the incomparable Jaycee DeLorenzo of Sweet N Spicy Designs.)

Some of my ponderings have led me to research PTSD, Domestic Abuse, and terrorism–and I’m not done yet. So wish me well, and I hope that when you finally read APOSTATE you think it was worth the wait. (And in the meantime, you can read books one and two if you haven’t already: LIGHTBRINGER  and GUARDIAN, as well as the “sidecar” novel BETRAYED BY TRUST.)

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A Field Mouse, A Crow, and A Writing Lesson

Have you ever been reading along in a book that has multiple viewpoint characters and wondered for a moment, “Who is talking here?” I confess, that’s happened to me a time or two–when I was reading my own stuff. That’s when I know I haven’t been doing my job properly.

Fae Rowen has written a great post about how to fix that problem.

A Field Mouse, A Crow, and A Writing Lesson.


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I’m Back!

I’ve been busy these last few months, and this fall will see a flurry of activity.

  • This month VEILED MIRROR will be re-released as a Castle Rock book with a new cover and some minor revisions.
  • Next month BETRAYED BY TRUST will debut. It takes place in the same universe as LIGHTBRINGER  in 1979. It’s not exactly a prequel, but you will get to see Gideon again.
  • I have the sequel, SEDUCED BY TRUST, outlined, and I already have a cover for it, but first–
  • I’ll be writing a novella set in the Vinlanders’ Saga universe. It’s working title is DEBTS and I already have a cover for it too.
  • After that, I promise to get to work on Gideon’s story, GUARDIAN.

Today I’m revealing a new cover for DANGEROUS TALENTS. I think Jaycee DeLorenzo of Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Designs has done a fabulous job. I’d love to hear what you think of it.


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After some unexpected Life Events I’m back at work revising my next release, BETRAYED BY TRUST.  For those of you who have been waiting for another Celestial Affairs novel, you’ll be happy to know that Gideon plays a role in this book. It takes place in 1979, and although it isn’t exactly a prequel to LIGHTBRINGER, it does tie into the Celestial Affairs story arc.

Here’s a teaser:

It’s January, 1979. The Vietnam war is over. The oil embargo and long gas lines a bad memory. And Three Mile Island is just a Pennsylvanian power plant that no one has ever heard of.

Marianne Benton works for the Trust, a secretive organization guarding against abuses of occult power. Marianne’s assignment, rescue an Elemental Spirit from slavery — by seducing the heir to a corporate dynasty.

Dan Collier is a former Green Beret. His assignment: keep Marianne alive.

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Odds and Ends

In a post a few weeks ago I asked the question of whether doing public appearances helped sales. Based on a very limited sample size (one) I can address that question (sort of). The answer is a qualified yes. I spoke on a panel last Saturday with three other authors at a local library. Thanks to Amazon’s relatively new ranking info which is reported on its Author Central site, I can report that my novels enjoyed a very small bump in sales.

For a new author like myself (and I do still consider myself a new author, even though I’ve been writing for years and have four novels out) even a small bump in sales is worth celebrating. So yes, speaking locally was worth the time and effort. People who had never heard of me now know about my books. So even those who didn’t buy a book last Saturday, may recognize my name the next time they hear it. And all it cost me was a little time and minimal gas money.

I’ll still be cautious about traveling out of town for conferences, though. The benefits there are more intangible, and the costs are higher.

****************************** another note, BLAZING A TRAIL: YOUR SELF PUBLISHING JOURNEY is coming back from the copy editor today. Soon I’ll be turning it over to my formatting guru, Natasha Fondren. If all goes as planned BAT will be available in mid-March.

Writing a non-fiction book has been a different experience for me, and one I would have put off if readers of this blog hadn’t asked for it. Thanks to everyone who gave me a push!


Also in March, I’ll be teaching the class “Before You Indie Publish” for If you’re not sure if self-publishing is for you, or if it seems like an overwhelming task, I’ll be discussing the whys and wherefores of  my decision making process.


And if you’re in the Tucson area, don’t forget the Tucson Festival of Books on March 9th and 10th on the University of Arizona campus. Hundreds of authors will be speaking there including moi. If you’re a book lover, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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Start Planning Now For 2013

I know that’s not what you want to hear right now. You’re in the throes of buying holiday gifts, decorating, making the rounds of parties, and hosting guests. You’d rather wait until January to make plans for 2013. But after all the ribbons and candles are put away, you’ll want to hit the ground running, and that will be easier to do if you already have a plan. It doesn’t have to be rigid or too detailed. In fact, I think it’s better to leave it a little loose because as we all know, Life Happens. But in the end you’ll be happier with where you wind up if you know where you’re going.

One of the things already on my calendar for 2013 is a class I’m teaching for As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, co-founder Laurie Campbell asked me to teach a class called “Before You Indie Publish” next March. I have the lessons completed already, and I’m putting together a companion book (BLAZING A TRAIL: YOUR SELF PUBLISHING JOURNEY) with additional material. That’s almost done, too, and will be released in late February or early March. I’ll be finishing the production process for that in January and February. (BTW, I’m including an appendix of interviews of indie authors. If you’ve self-published at least five months ago and would like to have your perspective included, please contact me.)

I’m also talking at the Tucson Festival of Books next March. First, I’m on a panel titled, “50 Shades of What? Is Erotica Romance?” and the next day I’ll be on a panel about blending genres.

I’ll be releasing BETRAYED BY TRUST early in the year, too. (BBT is set in 1979 and in the same “universe” as LIGHTBRINGER.)

After that, I’ll be working on GUARDIAN, the sequel to LIGHTBRINGER. I’m really looking forward to writing fiction again, but I may take a couple of weeks off to catch my breath.

What do you have planned for next year?


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Secondary Characters as Heroes

Part of the fun of writing a series is having the chance to turn the spotlight on secondary characters. That’s also part of the challenge.

I have a tendency to write stoic heroes who are bound by duty and honor. I also tend to give those heroes friends and brothers who are a little flip and irreverent. These sidekicks do a good job of pricking the ego of the hero, humanizing him. But when it’s the buddy’s turn to take center stage, it becomes my job to torture him. That’s where the problem lies.

You have to make your characters suffer or they won’t change and grow. The trick is to make a secondary character who was a joker mature without losing his personality. He can have a dark, or self-deprecating sense of humor, but when he’s really suffering the reader needs to feel it. You have to make the hero’s pain real and profound for his eventual triumph to be meaningful. Humor can still work in these situations. The character may try to deflect his pain with humor, or he can turn sarcastic and biting.  But however he reacts, he can’t be quipping as usual.

I faced this problem when I wrote Ragni in as the hero of FORBIDDEN TALENTS. He had to become more serious given what I was putting him through, without losing the essence of what had made him appealing in DANGEROUS TALENTS. One technique I employed was keeping the hero from the earlier book, Dahleven, around. By comparison with his older and more serious brother, Ragni is still irreverent. By the end of FORBIDDEN TALENTS he’s gained a bit more gravitas, even if he’s still more than ready to give Dahleven a hard time.


FORBIDDEN TALENTS is FREE from Kindle through Tuesday, 10/16/12.


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An Accidental Series

I’m guest blogging over at Secrets of 7 Scribes today thanks to an invitation from Casey Wyatt, the author of MYSTIC INK and THE UNDEAD SPACE INITIATIVE. I’m talking about why I’m writing not one, not two, but three different series. Come over and say hello!

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