Ground of Insurrection begins with a disemboweled body left in the middle of the village square and the main character, Ruse, has to get his wheelbarrow and cart the body away. There's blood and intestines and Ruse with his trusty shovel to pick it all up. I admit that I was a bit leery with starting the story on such a macabre note, but as I wrote and planned I realized that it was the only way for such a story to begin.
I first conceived of the idea of a village whose residents were criminals when I read LT3's Villains Inc. anthology call from a few years ago. As I began delving deeper into writing, I quickly realized the story didn't fit the call. There was too much focus on how the villains had gotten to the village and why and not enough on the evilness of the villains themselves. I knew I wouldn't be able to change and write a revised plot within the deadline, so I put the story aside to work on other things. Then LT3 added a new collection call called Devil's Land. I quickly realized that my village of criminals could fit with this call even better than with the Villains Inc. one! I pulled out the old story and started writing again.
A village full of criminals would, by necessity, have different laws than a regular city. I felt that nothing would offset that dichotomy better than the dead body that Ruse has to deal with on the very first page. Murder isn't just legal, it's expected. As is thievery and spying. The fact that all the criminals also have magic to augment their criminal activities adds yet another dimension to the village. Of course, now that villains were no longer the center of the story, I had to add in a new twist: the location. The village couldn't be a modified penitentiary or a work camp in Siberia. Rather, it is located in the inhospitable prairie borderlands disputed between two countries: Ammet and Oshe. The prairie is a living thing of sorts that doesn't appreciate interlopers, including the armies both countries have sent to attempt to claim the entirety of the prairies for their own. The prairie ate those armies. Instead, Ammet decides to send their country's criminals to colonize the prairie. No one in Ammet cared whether the prairie killed those criminals and the prairie itself was willing to allow a few to build a home there. Thus, the village was born.
As I wrote I quickly realized there was a problem: I had reached the upper limit for the word count for the collection call and I still had to write the second half. I sent it off to a beta reader and they agreed. There needed to be more to the story to make it feel complete. I ended up deciding not to submit Insurrection for any anthology or collection call. A few years went by and I slowly kept plugging away at this story. As I kept working, I found that suddenly having the freedom to write outside of the specific parameters of a call really helped the story grow. Ruse as a character became more three dimensional and the story itself became less about the blood and gore and less about the prairie, and instead became more about the relationship between my main characters and how they learned to survive in such a difficult environment.
There's a lot more to the story than that, of course, but if you want to find out why Ruse is still carting around dead bodies you'll have to read Ground of Insurrection to learn more. It comes out in just a few days, June 13, 2018, so preorder your copy now.
If you follow me on Facebook, you've probably noticed the three new covers I got this week. For those of you who don't check Facebook, here they are!
Some of you may remember my telling you that my Dragon's Hoard Series will be going out of print this June and that I was working with LT3 to renew the contract. I have finally gotten confirmation from LT3 that this is going to happen. All four books in my Dragon's Hoard Series are undergoing edits right now. Once the editing process is complete and a new contract is signed, my Dragon's Hoard Series will be reprinted.
What does this mean? Honestly, since this is the first of my books I've renewed a contract for, I'm not entirely sure. I know the series is being re-edited, but I don't believe there will be any substantive changes to the overall story. I'll be able to say that for certain once I see the edits, of course. I don't know if there will be new covers for the series, if there will also be a reprint of the print book, or how the new version will be made available to readers that own copies of the old version. It looks like I will find all of that out as it happens, so check my blog postings for additional information as I learn it.
What I do know right now is that I promised my readers a short story collection for this series four years ago and I have yet to deliver. There couldn't be a better time to debut those stories than when the reprint goes live. I've therefore put aside everything else I've been working on in order to focus exclusively on getting the short stories completed. At this point, I have finished writing four of the six stories. The last two are the two most difficult ones. The first is focused on how White and Eldest met, but I haven't started writing it yet. The second is about the long-awaited day when Tori is considered an adult. I've written about 2k words for it, but am a bit stuck on how to keep the playful vibe when Tori wants to grow up so badly.
If I can get both stories completed this month, and get the entire set edited and ready for submission, hopefully these stories will be in your hands not too long after the reprints come out.
The Case of the Wandering Wolves is actually one of my oldest stories. Back when I was finishing up writing my Dragon's Hoard Series, I took some time to figure out what was next on the agenda. I eventually came up with a curious coyote and the mate that ran away. It was supposed to be a cute detective story with a little angst and a lot of romance. I wanted it to top at about 25k words, just a little shorter than each Dragon's Hoard book. I started working on Wandering Wolves immediately and I was just as quickly distracted. Road to Revenge was percolating, as were a half-dozen anthology and collection calls. Then The Oracle's Series came along and afterwards my Supernatural Consultant Series. With every new book, The Case of the Wandering Wolves was pushed further and further back on my to-do list until it was at the very bottom.
That was honestly okay with me. At the time, I had written about 8k words in Wandering Wolves and was stuck. I didn't know how I wanted the story to progress or where the twist was. The romance had fizzled out and the overall story needed some major rewrites. I was essentially looking at what I wanted to be a 25k story with only 10k worth of actual plot and about 5k that needed to be fixed. The story had turned into a dud, which I really felt was a shame. It was supposed to be the first book of an entire series, The Trickster's Eye Series, and I couldn't even get it past the first hurdle.
LT3 sent out a Satisfaction Guaranteed anthology call about the same time I was thinking of scrapping Wandering Wolves entirely and forgetting it ever existed. I guess my brain was stuck on the ideas in Wandering Wolves because I started pulling characters and plots from that original book and putting them into a new story. Orion and Denton weren't originally supposed to be part of the Trickster's Eye universe, but Heartbeat fit so perfectly into the overall story line. Suddenly, the series was off the ground. LT3 accepted Heartbeat and it was published on September 24, 2014. Now I couldn't simply forget Wandering Wolves ever existed; I had a book in the series already in my readers' hands. Yet, Wandering Wolves was still stalled and broken. Nothing I did helped revive it, so I returned to my other projects.
Then LT3 put out a new anthology call: Private Dicks, Packing Heat. I stayed away from it at first because I already had too much on my to-do list, but I did eventually read it. Light bulb! If I changed this bit around, shortened this, and reworked that, Wandering Wolves was back on track. The call was for a story between 10k-20k and it turned out that shortening the story to only topping out at 15k words was the answer. I didn't need a drawn out plot or extra twists. I could focus on one case and one romance and leave it simple and easy. I got the story written, sent it off to beta readers because it was still suffering a bit, got their edits fixed, and submitted it to LT3 last year. They accepted it!
Of course, they asked if it was okay to publish Wandering Wolves on it's own instead of as part of the anthology. I said yes, because I had a bit of an epiphany that there was another story in the series to write. The Case of the Hopping Hare had hopped into my brain, so publishing Wandering Wolves as a stand-alone was perfect.
It's so wonderful for me to see one of my oldest stories taking off. The Case of the Wandering Wolves will arrive in stores on January 11, 2017, just a few days away. It's available for pre-order right now, so you can get your copy today: https://lessthanthreepress.com/books...
Some of you might have noticed that when Dragon Soldier was posted on LT3's website and on Goodreads, the release date was March 8, 2017. I noticed too, especially since I've been saying for months now that Soldier wasn't going to come out until April. I have investigated, and it turns out the new date is correct; LT3 decided to move the release ahead a month. That's great news for everyone anxiously awaiting the conclusion to Nickel and Platinum's two-part story.
I didn't mind the date change, except it now means that I will be releasing one book every month for seven straight months. Magnified started it off in September, then Dragon Detective in October, and Elemental Ride and Ner Li in November and December. I still have to complete The Case of the Wandering Wolves for January, Ge-Mi: Part One for February, and now Dragon Soldier in March. That's a heck of a lot of work to squeeze into the same time frame, but it's doable.
Then I found out why Dragon Soldier was pushed up a month: LT3 wanted to create some space between the release of Dragon Soldier and the release of Dragon Adventure, the next book in the series. Dragon Adventure is slated for a May release date (I don't know the exact date yet, but I have submitted an inquiry to LT3 to find out more). It was deemed that releasing Dragon Soldier in April was too close to the release of Dragon Adventure in May, so the solution was to move Dragon Soldier earlier. What this means is you will only have to wait two short months between books in this series, which I know is more great news for readers anxiously awaiting each subsequent book.
(On a side note, as of writing this blog post I only have approximately 10k words left to write in Dragon Spy. I have also started planning the story that comes after Dragon Spy, which will feature Nickel and Platinum again, and I am trying to decide if Alloy's story should be a full sized one or if it would be better suited as a short story like Adventure and Home. Needless to say, I'm really enjoying writing this series and I honestly hope you're enjoying reading it.)
The warning LT3 posts on every pre-order page on their website that release dates are subject to change is a very apt one in this case. Regardless of the change, I'm very excited about how things are going for this series and on March 8, 2017 I know you will be too! Until then, feel free to pre-order Dragon Soldier: https://lessthanthreepress.com/books...
Dragon Dilemma is a book I almost decided not to write. I had some basic ideas cobbled together for a plot, but I had some difficulties formulating it into an actual book. At the same time, I knew some sort of book at this point in the series was absolutely necessary. Since I couldn't figure out what needed to be written, I instead set this book aside for a bit and went to work on Dragon Detective.
As I was writing Dragon Detective I realized something important. While Nickel, the main character in Detective, is well-fleshed out in previous books, the dynamic that holds his family together and would be able support him through his difficulties wasn't quite up to par. Dragon Consultant, book one, had introduced the world, my characters, and the plot that would carry over through many books to come. Dragon Deception, book two, delved further into Mercury's life and expanded on the saving-the-dragons plot. Dragon Dilemma, book three, therefore had to be about home and family. Having a new focus grounded Dilemma and I was able to twist the plot around until it flowed properly. Family dynamics and how Dane and Mercury were able to create a happy family out of their difficult beginnings became the overall plot. There was still a good bit about saving the dragons, of course, but it's a secondary focus in this book.
Dragon Dilemma also quickly turned into a bridging book. This is the last story I have planned from Dane and Mercury's perspectives. The next book, Dragon Detective, has Nickel as the narrator. Dilemma therefore had to conclude one MC's story while welcoming another without straining the readability of the series. It is also the bridge between the two planned arcs in the series. Those of you that have followed my blog postings already know that Dragon Soldier, book five, concludes one arc and Dragon Spy, book six, the book I'm writing at the moment, opens another. Dragon Dilemma is peppered with hints and foreshadowing for Dragon Spy, which will hopefully allow the two arcs to meld seamlessly.
(For those of you wondering where Dragon Adventure and Dragon Home fit into this overall plan, the fact is they don't. They were fun larks that I wrote as a break in tension that I think you'll enjoy, but they don't fit into either arc. They'll be released after Soldier and before Spy.)
Everything that Dragon Dilemma brings to this series is valuable. I am worried some readers will think this book is a little boring because it lacks the level of action the previous two had, yet at the same time there have been a few readers demanding more depth at home. I am hoping Dilemma will bridge that divide as well and will be considered to be another excellent book in the series.
Dragon Dilemma will be released on June 1, 2016 and is currently available for pre-order for a 15% discount. Get your copy today: https://lessthanthreepress.com/books...
March is the start of another phase of my life. I finally landed the full time job I've been working towards getting for four years now. I am very excited to start, but it means a lot of changes in my life going forward. Up till now I've only been working part time. Admittedly, I've worked anywhere from two to four jobs at once, but I always had plenty of free time for writing. That's about to end now. I am starting a twelve week training course this month. I will have so much to learn and study that there most likely won't be any time for writing. After those twelve weeks I'll be sent to on-the-job training. That's going to require that I move, get settled in a new home, and start working. It's going to take me a while to find a new balance in my life that will allow for work and play. For all I know, it could very well be two years before I have my life figured out again.
What that means in terms of writing is unknown at the moment. Not being able to write at all is the worst case scenario, but I prefer to be forewarned just in case. If I can't complete another story for two more years I will be sad, but I don't think any of my readers will be. I currently have eleven books waiting to be published. Some have been accepted by LT3 and are in the editing process. Others have been submitted and I'm still waiting to hear. And Justified is complete, but not quite ready for submission just yet. Those books will hopefully be coming out fairly regularly all the way through 2018.
I sincerely hope I'll still find the time to keep my readers in the loop with my monthly newsletter and regular postings on twitter and my blog, but if my communication starts to become spotty over the next few months please don't think I've forgotten about you. Thank you for the last four years of your support of my stories. I hope the next few years are just as vibrant.
I am in the midst of a conundrum. Justified is the second book in my three-part Magnified series. It's paranormal fantasy with a fun twist and I am extremely excited for Magnified, book one, to come out. I don't have a release date just yet, but I'm currently working on the second round of edits, which means a release date should be coming soon. The problem is that I don't know what to do with Justified. I really, really like the story and I've completed writing, editing, and formatting it. Justified is one hundred percent ready to be submitted to Less Than Three Press. Except, LT3 is already swamped with my submissions.
At this moment I have two books in the midst of the editing process: Dragon Detective and Magnified. I also have two books that have been accepted, but have not yet taken that first step towards publishing: The Case of the Wandering Wolves and Elemental Ride. In addition to those four stories, I have also submitted five more stories: Ner Li, a short story for the Sharing the Season Call, Ge-Mi: Part One, a futuristic sci-fi story, and the next three stories in my Supernatural Consultant Series, Dragon Soldier, Dragon Adventure, and Dragon Home. That is nine stories in total. Oh, before I forget, Dragon Dilemma is in the pipeline too. It's going to come out on June 1, 2016 and is currently somewhere in the copy editor's queue. That is ten books total already on LT3's radar, which feels a little ridiculous. If I do the math, that equals almost three years of future releases (if LT3 accepts them all).
So now I'm looking at Justified and I don't know what to do. I can't look for another publisher since Magnified is contracted with LT3 and splitting up a series like that would be beyond silly. Yet, I also don't feel quite right adding an eleventh book to my list with LT3. The obvious answer would be to wait on Justified until that large to-do list begins to get whittled down, but at the same time Justified is complete and letting it sit on my computer for a few extra months or even years might bog it down. I'm also starting a new job in a week that will keep me much busier than I am now and I'm worried that submitting Justified will get forgotten amid all my new responsibilities.
What do you think I should do? Should I send it to LT3 anyway and hope they don't tell me to cool it for a while? Should I wait to submit despite my fears of forgetting about it? I really could use some advice.
I think it's a new world record for me. Here I was, thinking it would take me the rest of the month to finish writing Dragon Adventure, and I ended up completing it in two days. I'm very excited to have another story in this series done, but I'm just a little flabbergasted at the speed. I have set it aside and in a few weeks I'll pick it up again to edit and format for submission.
Considering the fact that I now have two more weeks to work on something else, I started thinking about what my next project should be and I quickly realized that Dragon Adventure was a bit lopsided. Aqua and Rios are two water dragons you'll meet in Dragon Dilemma (coming out June 1, 2016). They're very minor characters, but they are adorable ones. I wanted to write a fun short story set in the series, but not affiliated with the overall plot, and Aqua and Rios fit the bill perfectly. Dragon Adventure was born, but it ended up focusing almost exclusively on Rios with Aqua taking a nap through much of the actual adventure. I quickly came to the conclusion that Aqua also needs a story of his own. Dragon Home is the tentative title for Aqua's story. It's only going to be 10k words, just like Dragon Adventure, and be mostly fluff and filler, but it will be a ton of fun as well. I am going to start working on it as soon as this blog is posted.
I think I needed this short story interlude as an author, not just to give the series a break. Dragon Soldier is a very plot heavy book as it brings the first arc of the series to a close and I struggled with it for a while. Writing the pure fluff in Dragon Adventure turned into a mental health break for me before I dive into Dragon Spy, which opens up the second arc in the series. I think Dragon Adventure helped clear my head and get me refocused on this series and I'm hoping Dragon Home will get me prepared to return to Dragon Spy with a vengeance.
I also need to figure out where the series is going next. I am planning on more books after Spy, but I don't have any firm plot ideas put together just yet. I know Lumie is going to need another book and that Alloy will get two of his own as well, but I have some ideas of also returning to Nickel and Platinum for a book or two. It's all still a bit of a jumbled mess, to be honest, which is yet another reason why taking a break with Adventure was good for me. I need more time to figure out my next steps, especially since Dragon Spy will need to provide the proper setup for everything that comes next in that arc.
The plan right now is to submit Dragon Soldier and Dragon Adventure to LT3 at the end of the month. If Dragon Home is completed by then too I'll submit that as well. If LT3 accepts them, they won't be released until 2016 or even 2017. I just wanted to let my wonderful readers know that there's much more to come in this series. I really hope you're looking forward to Aqua and Rios as much as I am and I'll definitely keep everyone up to date as all my stories in this series move through the publication process.
There are a lot of misconceptions about Hanukkah out there, most likely because it generally falls at the same time as Christmas. Many non-Jews believe that because Christmas is one of the most important religious holidays in their faith, Hanukkah must be equally important. My family has had co-workers astonished that we were at work on the first night of the holiday, had conversations with people shocked that we didn't attend Synagogue for a special service, or even thought that we must perform some intricate ritual at home (like with the Passover Seder in April) to fulfill the holiday's requirements.
Quite simply, Hanukkah is one of the least important holidays on the Jewish calendar. I honestly can't tell you how many people I have utterly shocked by saying that, but it is very true.
Hanukkah commemorates two simultaneous events. In 175 B.C.E. the Syrians invaded Judea, the land that encompasses Jerusalem and Jericho. They demanded that the Jews worship idols and eat pork and killed those that refused. The Syrians looted the Temple and pigs were sacrificed on the altar. A family known as the Maccabees gathered an army to fight the Syrians. The Maccabees eventually won, but when they went to clean and rededicate the Temple they only found one jar of oil, only enough to last one day. The menorah needed to be lit at all times, but it was an eight day journey to bring more oil to the Temple. The menorah was lit anyway and a miracle occurred: the little jar of oil lasted for all eight days.
What I find particularly interesting about this holiday is the fact that the war is secondary to the miracle portion of the story. The Rabbis and Sages of ancient times decided that glorifying and commemorating war only fostered a zeal for more fighting, whereas instead focusing on the miracle of the oil brought people together with a peaceful message from God.
In modern times, Jews gather with their immediate family to light a hannukiah, a menorah with nine arms instead of the usual seven. We play traditional games with dreidels and gelt and exchange small gifts. We remember and thank the bravery of the Maccabees by spending quality family time together. It's a nice, mellow, moment of peaceful togetherness that I really enjoy.
I hope everyone has a nice, peaceful Hanukkah. Chag Sameah v'Hannukah tova!
Ge-Mi: Part Two
May 18, 2020
Mell Eight is an author writing with NSP. For more information about Mell and her writing, please visit her website: http://melleightfiction.