Happy Holidays!

 FORBIDDEN TALENTS takes place during Nuvinland’s mid-winter festival and the characters spend a lot of time slogging through the snow, so it only seems fitting to put Ragni and Saeun’s story on sale as we celebrate our own winter holidays. Starting today,  FORBIDDEN TALENTS will be deeply discounted for the next week. Instead of its usual price of $4.99, you can find out what happens to Ragni and Saeun for only $0.99.

If you’ve already read FORBIDDEN TALENTS, thanks! Please take a moment to leave a review here. Sharing your opinion helps other readers find books they might like.

As always, thank you for reading! I hope you have a wonderful celebration surrounded by the people you love, and that the new year is a happy one.


P.S. If you’re more in51iKSIyNEhL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ the mood for a historical cozy mystery, I recommend Caroline Mickelson’s FROM MANGIA TO MURDER.

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Vinlanders’ Saga Fans Rejoice!

DEBTS, Book 3 in the Vinlanders’ Saga, is finally here!

Okay, that may be overstating your excitement a bit, but for those of you who have been waiting Debts600x900impatiently for another installment about the Talented people of Nuvinland, your wait is over. And if you haven’t read the first two books, DEBTS is a self-contained story. A few old friends from DANGEROUS TALENTS and FORBIDDEN TALENTS make an appearance, but you don’t have to have read the first two books to enjoy this one. (You should read them anyway, though, because they are pretty darn good. Just ask me! 😉 )

What is DEBTS about? Here’s the description:


Son of an Oathbreaker, Aren is desperate to restore his family’s honor, and leaps at the chance Lord Fender offers. His task seems simple enough for a Tracker: bring in a young woman accused of a vile crime. Simple, until his duty to the Jarl conflicts with a debt he owes to the Elves.

Fey-marked and friendless, Annikke flees the wrath of a vengeful lord. When Aren intercepts her, Annikke must choose: trust a stranger with warm brown eyes who promises justice, or protect her daughter—and remain a fugitive forever.

Even better, I’ve made DEBTS free for the first few days before it goes on sale for it regular price. In return, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave an honest review on Amazon. Customer reviews help other readers find books they’ll enjoy.

Also, if you’d like to be the first to know about my next release, please sign up for my newsletter. I won’t spam you or sell your e-dress.


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An Experiment That Benefits You

I’m experimenting with Amazon’s new Countdown deal by offering the Kindle version of FORBIDDEN TALENTS at a sale price of .99, then gradually increasing in price until it returns to it’s normal price of $4.99. FORBIDDEN TALENTS hasn’t been on sale except for a brief time when it was first released, and I don’t anticipate offering it for sale again for at least a year, so if you’ve been waiting, now is the time to to pick up a copy for yourself or as a gift.


Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you can be among the first to hear about my new releases and get “behind the scenes” information. I don’t like spam either, so I’ll only be sending newsletters when I have actual news.

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I’m Interviewed On Juli Revezzo’s Blog Today

Author Juli D. Revezzo invited me over to her blog to help celebrate Halloween this year. Come over and see what secrets the Mistress teased out of me.

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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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FORBIDDEN TALENTS Is Available on Amazon!

The Kindle version of FORBIDDEN TALENTS,  book two of the Vinlanders’ Saga, is now available on Amazon!

This is Ragni and Saeun’s story, but the hero and heroine from the first book, Dahleven and Celia, are significant characters.

Here’s the “back cover copy”:
As the second son of the Kon of Nuvinland, and a priest of Baldur, Lord Ragni understands the demands of politics. He’s not surprised when his father arranges a marriage for him to the daughter of another Jarl. Unfortunately, Ragni has just fallen hard for Saeun.

Saeun never expected to fall in love with Lord Ragni, but what began as a casual dalliance with a ladies’ man blossomed into a deep passion. But her hopes for the future are dashed when her tools of forbidden magic are discovered. To save herself, and Ragni’s reputation, Saeun escapes into a deadly blizzard—leaving behind everything, and everyone, she loves.

Ragni faces an agonizing choice: enforce the law he’s sworn to uphold, or save the woman he loves.

And while the lovers’ hearts are breaking, a dark and ancient threat to all of Nuvinland is gaining strength.

FORBIDDEN TALENTS will stand alone, but you’ll enjoy it even more if you’ve read DANGEROUS TALENTS.


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My Self-Publishing Journey: 2012, Part Deux

I was recently discussing the need authors have for Business and Marketing plans with a few other writers. We all agreed that having them is a good idea. It’s like carrying a map with you on a cross country trip. You may not always follow the planned itinerary, sometimes you decide to take a side road, and sometimes there’s an unexpected detour, but having a map (or a business plan) helps to keep you from going in circles.

Most writers don’t have rigid or formal plans. And given the new information that seems to come out daily about what does and doesn’t work to build sales, that’s probably a good thing. Based on recent information, but mostly on my own observations, I’ve made some changes to my plan.

Back in January I told you about my plan for the year. Here’s how I’ve implemented my plan, and how I’ve changed it.

  • I brought out DANGEROUS TALENTS in April. I completed the first draft and first revision of FIRSTBORN which is now titled BETRAYED BY TRUST, a book set in the Celestial Affairs universe in 1979. I won’t be releasing BBT until next year, though. Instead, I’m bringing out the sequel to DT, FORBIDDEN TALENTS, in October. I’m also working on a non-fiction book derived from this blog. That will be released next spring. I also hope to release GUARDIAN, the sequel to LIGHTBRINGER, next fall.
  • Social Media: I’ve recently seen data that casts doubt on the effectiveness of using such sites as Facebook,Twitter, and Goodreads to promote sales.  On the other hand, there’s anecdotal evidence that suggests it does help. In the meantime, my use of such sites remains minimal. I will continue to blog, however, because I enjoy it.
  • I haven’t followed through very well on submitting my books for review. I plan to do more of that.
  • I have done the personal appearances and speaking events I planned to do.
  • I haven’t sent out postcards to conferences or conventions. I no longer believe that to be a cost effective means of advertising, except as inserts in books in the same series.
  • I’m making use of Kindle Select’s free promotions to increase awareness of my book and improve sales. So far, that seems to be the single most effective tactic I’ve used. The 80/20 Rule dictates that I should do that and forget the rest. I’m not sure I’m ready to do that, however.
  • I will gradually move books to other distribution platforms.

That’s the essence of my business plan for what’s left of 2012 and early 2013. I’ll let you know if anything changes.


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Synchronicity and Perfection

I had a brief exchange recently with a new follower on Twitter. This man is a stay at home dad with four kids, and amazing writing productivity. Yet he’s still looking for ways to increase his output because he believes that by writing more he’ll become a better writer, faster.

I couldn’t help but remind him that quality is as important as quantity. (Sue me, I’m a devil’s advocate.) I think there is just as much to be learned from the revision process as there is from composition. Learning to let your subconscious do its thing is important. Learning how to critique your work by seeing what works and what doesn’t teaches your subconscious to do better next time. The trick is to not get bogged down in endless revisions.

Actually, I think that writing a lot is important. That’s why I encourage beginners (and others who ask) to write short stories at first. You can create an entire story arc, experiment with voice, POV, plotting, and character development in a small package and bring it to a conclusion in days or weeks instead of the months a novel requires. (Yes, short stories are different animals from novels, but they’re similar enough to be a good starting point.)

Just after I had the exchange on Twitter, I stumbled upon a post from a couple of weeks ago by Kris Rusch on the topic “Perfection.”   What I took away from Kris’s essay was that there is 1) No ultimate arbiter of perfection, 2) The single most important criteria to use in evaluating a story is not the quality of punctuation, imagery, or plot, but whether it entertained you, 3) Strive to write the best story you can right now, not for perfection, and then, 4) Move on to the next best story you can write.

That’s where the synchronicity comes in. I just finished reviewing FORBIDDEN TALENTS one last time before sending it to my editor. This book was the second novel I finished. It’s been through more than one critique group, but I hadn’t looked at it in over a year.  I read through it again to clean up word processing artifacts, and touch up word choice here and there. I wanted to clarify things for readers who haven’t read DANGEROUS TALENTS. Fortunately I didn’t find any glaring problems. Does that mean I wasted my time?

Remember Pareto’s Law? Eighty percent of your results come from 20% of your effort. The time I spent on FORBIDDEN TALENTS this week was not part of the most productive 20%. Whatever entertainment value the story has was already there.

And yet, the devil’s in the details. I can’t help thinking that my readers will have a slightly smoother ride because I spent that extra bit of time. Will that mean I sell more books? Who knows? But I do know that I’ll be sending FORBIDDEN TALENTS out into the world with the confidence that it is the best I can do, right now.


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