First Book Blues (or why I’ve spent a lot of money lately)

As a writer, I love the tactic of making the first book in a series inexpensive ( say 99 cents) or free to get a new reader hooked on your series and encourage them to buy the rest of the books.

As a reader, I’ve been caught by this many times lately!

Cobweb Bride – got the first free, then had to know what happened to those characters, so I bought the second and third in the series. I wasn’t disappointed. Great series as I’ve already noted here.

Project Columbus series by J.C. Rainier- a story about three colony ships from Earth headed to a new planet and the troubles they run into.  This is a five-book series and after I finished book one, Columbus: Flight, I had to buy two through five and then I finished them all within a week. Many late nights with this one. Again, I had to know what was going to happen to those people!

Dragon Blood series by Lindsay Buroker – I’m a huge fan of anything Lindsay writes and this new series is another winner. Again, it started with the first, Balanced on the Blade’s Edge. Loved it. Then I saw that book 2, Deathmaker, and book 3, Blood Charged, were out. Bought them immediately and they were just as good as the first. Now I’m anxiously awaiting more books in the series.

As a writer, I plan to ruthlessly employ this strategy, because as a reader, I can say it works!

What books have you loved enough that you had to get the rest of the series?


You Should Read: COBWEB BRIDE

Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian

Cobweb BrideWhat if you killed someone and then fell in love with them?

Another fantastic gem of a story. This is a mixture of fantasy, history and romance. Death needs to find his Cobweb Bride and announces to the world that he will take no more souls until she is found. Chaos ensues in the world as the mortally wounded and terminally ill continue existing despite horrific wounds or illnesses.

Many young woman set off to present themselves to Death to  Death to be his Cobweb Bride so that all of the suffering souls may pass on, including Percy, a common village girl.

The words in this story are beautifully descriptive and lyrical. I don’t normally like reading stories like this, but I couldn’t put this down. You get drawn into the richness of the world and the story of Percy, Beltain (whose dead father decides he is happy to remain dead and therefore immortal), the Infanta Claere (daughter of the Emperor) and many others, all directly affected by the withdrawal of Death from their world.

It’s the first of the Cobweb Bride trilogy. I just picked up the other two in the series. You should definitely read this book.

Cobweb Bride

COBWEB BRIDE (Cobweb Bride Trilogy, Book One) is a history-flavored fantasy novel with romantic elements of the Persephone myth, about Death’s ultimatum to the world.

In an alternate Renaissance world, somewhere in an imaginary “pocket” of Europe called the Kingdom of Lethe, Death comes, in the form of a grim Spaniard, to claim his Bride. Until she is found, in a single time-stopping moment all dying stops. There is no relief for the mortally wounded and the terminally ill….

While kings and emperors send expeditions to search for a suitable Bride for Death, armies of the undead wage an endless war… A black knight roams the forest at the command of his undead father… Spies and political treacheries abound at the imperial Silver Court…. Murdered lovers find themselves locked in the realm of the living…

And one small village girl, Percy–an unwanted, ungainly middle daughter–is faced with the responsibility of granting her dying grandmother the desperate release she needs.

As a result, Percy joins the crowds of other young women of the land in a desperate quest to Death’s own mysterious holding in the deepest forests of the North…

And everyone is trying to stop her. 

Check it out.


You’re Writing What?

Two friends recently asked me about my writing, so I figured a blog post was a good way to catch everybody up on current events.

What am I working on?

On the writing side of things, I’m working on book 2 of the Words of Power series, Stone Adept. This is the story of Rayyan, the woman who changes Tesher’s life.

Their story has taken a long time to come together. Maybe it is book 2 syndrome – the fear of not being able to live up to the magic of book 1. Maybe it is just life and other priorities getting in the way.

Regardless, I’m finishing the outlining and will begin drafting it within the next couple weeks.

On the business side of things, I’m working to get my  previously released books out onto different platforms, including Google Play, iBookstore, and Kobo. Those should be available within the next couple weeks also.

How does my writing differ from other books in the same genre?

While I adore stories with lots of adventure and exciting events set in worlds that are far removed from our own, I like to focus my stories on the relationships of the characters – how they grow and change through the course of the story.

In Stone Adept, Tesher is his usual sarcastic, cynical self. He’s comfortable with who he is, until he meets a girl that sees through his sarcasm to the vulnerability beneath. Now he has to find a new way of talking to her, of being around her, if he wants to keep her in his life. I love that interplay in relationships and I strive to explore it in my stories.

Why do I write what I do?

I write science fiction and fantasy stories because I love the “otherness” of space, of different planets and worlds. I like the possibility inherent in the future.

I write about relationships because I’m intrigued by them – who has power in the relationship, who doesn’t, unrequited feelings, subtle hints of interest, will they/won’t they – I want to explore all of that in my stories.

How does my writing process work?

I’m still figuring that out, but I’m definitely a planner and plotter. For longer works, I need to know who my characters are and what will happen in my story before I get started writing. I prefer to have a solid story at the end of the first draft that just needs some revising and polishing, and not something that needs an entire rewrite to make it presentable. I don’t like the feeling of wasting time at the end in the editing stage. So I plan and plot in great detail ahead of time.

For short works, I’ve been experimenting with a more casual approach – getting the idea and basic characters in mind and then starting to write. I think that works for me in the shorter forms because I can hold the entire story in my head easily.

Thanks to R.J. and A.R. for asking about my process!

R.J. Eliason writes science fiction and fantasy. She currently has two books out in her Bear Naked series – Bear Naked
and Wolf Camp. . R.J. described her own answers to these questions here –

A.R. Miller writes contemporary fantasy and has two books out in her Fey Creations series – Disenchanted
and Unenchanted. A.R. gave us her insights into her process here –

Healthy Drinking

I’ve been toying with the idea of more healthy drinking and eating for quite some time. Occasionally I try out different methods or plans to see how they work for me.

Soda pop is a major addiction for me. Not really an addiction, but something I really enjoy and have a hard time giving up.

But it isn’t healthy for me, so I’m making the attempt this weekend. I don’t like tea and coffee, so that leaves water as my healthy drink. But plain water is boring.

Homemade citrus-flavored water
Citrus water, now with real citrus.

Enter my new idea – orange and lemon-flavored water.

I peeled oranges and lemons and dumped the pieces into large containers of water and put them in the fridge to steep up some yummy citrus flavor.

And it seems to be working. The water is lightly flavored with citrus and I’m drinking a lot more of it than I would if it were just plain water. When the glass is empty, I can add more water and let it steep again. The fruit seems to be good for 2 or 3 steepings before I need to switch it out for fresh.

This idea seems to be successful. Have you tried making your own flavored water with citrus or other fruit?



Uneasy Spirits: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery by M. Louisa Locke

Uneasy SpiritsI love an historical story, though I usually lean towards historical romances. This historical mystery was a pleasure to read.

It is a quiet, slow-paced story filled with rich language and details from the time  period. I felt immersed in 1879 San Francisco with its courtly manners and proper behavior.

The mystery drew me in and kept me wondering about the resolution until the end. I like a mystery that isn’t predictable.

In particular, I really loved how Ms. Locke portrayed her main character, Annie, a woman struggling for independence in a time when women were still quite dependent on men and society’s approval. I’ve read a lot of stories where a “strong” woman is pushy and masculine. Ms. Locke was able to create a strong character that was still feminine. I adore that.

This is a sweet, cozy mystery with some sharp edges of danger and excitement. It’s a really fun read that I think you’ll enjoy.


In this sequel to Maids of Misfortune, it is the fall of 1879 and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, has a problem. Despite her growing financial success as the clairvoyant Madam Sibyl, Annie doesn’t believe in the astrology and palmistry her clients think are the basis for her advice. 
Kathleen Hennessey, Annie Fuller’s young Irish maid, has a plan. When her mistress is asked to expose a fraudulent trance medium, Arabella Frampton, Kathleen is determined to assist in the investigation, just like the Pinkerton detectives she has read about in the dime novels. 
Nate Dawson, up-and-coming San Francisco lawyer, has a dilemma. He wants to marry the unconventional Annie Fuller, but he doesn’t feel he can reveal his true feelings until he has a way to make enough money to support her.
In Uneasy Spirits, this cozy historical mystery of romantic suspense, Annie delves into the intriguing world of 19th century spiritualism, encountering true believers and naive dupes, clever frauds and unexplained supernatural phenomena. She will soon find there are as many secrets as there are spirits swirling around the Frampton séance table. Some of those secrets will threaten the foundation of her career as Madam Sibyl and the future of her relationship with Nate Dawson, and, in time, they will threaten her very life itself. 

Check it out.

New Release: Worlds Away and Far

Worlds Away and Far is a collection of five stories, two of them previously released as individual shorts and three new ones previously unpublished.


Jens has long dreamed of becoming a Queen’s Arm, an elite soldier that defends the kingdom from the relentless orgula. Most girls in his village dream of being chosen to be a Queen’s Hand, but Bekin dreams only of Jens, wanting him to stay in their village and marry her.

When Jens is chosen to be a Queen’s Arm, Bekin waits for his return. But when Bekin is chosen to be a Queen’s Hand, unwillingly, their future together is in jeopardy.


Attal’s been a prison pilot for so many years that even transporting his world’s most sadistic and dangerous criminal is routine. Until that criminal tries to escape from his ship, endangering the lives of his copilot, himself and his entire world…


Davoga has had a long day at the factory when she discovers a hideous sight on her kitchen table.


When aliens visit Earth and offer astounding technology, superstar negotiator Maighdlin Dunne is sent in to get the one thing they refuse to share – the cure for all diseases.


Hopelessness and despair have gripped her world and as the Comforter of her people, Riffa sacrifices herself to save them, but something goes horribly wrong in the ritual that passes her duties on to baby Kalima, the future Comforter.

It’s available in paperback and electronic form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

New Looks for Two Books

I’ve been updating some book covers and I’m pleased to be able to share them with you.

This is the new cover for Beauty in the Castle. A terrific cover artist, Melody Simmons of eBookindiecovers, designed it. It’s available now in paperback from Amazon.

Beauty in the Castle








I’ve also redone the cover for Words of Spirit and given it a new title as well, Spirit Adept. Same story, new look.

Spirit Adept

DemiCon 25

This is the 25th year of DemiCon, the Des Moines Science Fiction and Fantasy convention. It runs Friday, May 2 through Sunday, May 4. The theme this year is steampunk – one I’m particularly excited about as I’ve toyed with the idea of doing some steampunk stories.

There’s a book signing for several Iowa authors on Sunday from 1-2 p.m. A.R. Miller, Rachel Eliason, Malynda McCarrick, Jordyn Meryl, Jed Peterson, Dennis Green, Sue Raymond and myself will be there. If you’re at the convention, stop in to say hello.

In Honor of Michael

Michael and Ella
Michael with his granddaughter Eliane.

I’ve been absent the last few months dealing with family illness.

My brother got sick and went through four months of multiple hospitalizations and declining health. When the doctors could do no more, we took him home and he passed away the day before Thanksgiving.

My brother was five years older than I, so I didn’t have a lot of interaction with him when I was growing up. A little sister isn’t much fun when it comes to playing games. When I started junior high, he was leaving for college.

He shared the same interest in science fiction and fantasy that I had. Being older, he had jobs and spending money and he bought books. He left those books at home when he went to college. And I “borrowed” them from his bookshelf and devoured them.

He’s the reason I read Dune and other books that may have been considered too adult for me at the time. But I appreciated them for the new worlds and ideas they exposed me to.

As adults we discovered a shared interest in writing, too. He was working on a few stories before he died and we talked about plots and characters. I regret that he wasn’t able to finish them, but I have his ideas and maybe I will be able to write something in his honor from them.

He was a gentle man with a sharp wit and a love for children. I will miss him greatly.



This is a series of posts highlighting books that I’ve read and loved. If you enjoy my books, you’ll like these too.

Linnet and the PrinceLinnet and the Prince by Alydia Rackham

I found another terrific read. I stayed up WAY too late one night to finish it. Yes, it’s one of those. Just couldn’t put it down.

Linnet and the Prince is a fabulous love story between two people that should be bitter enemies. Prince Rajak kills King Peliar and then demands the hand of the king’s daughter in marriage. Princess Linnet volunteers to marry him to save her older sister from the horrible fate.

Taken to Rajak’s homeland, Linnet is miserable among the hated strangers. She struggles to fit in where she doesn’t want to belong and to understand her new husband.

One aspect about Linnet that I loved–she’s was raised to be a fighter, to protect her older sister from men who might take advantage of her. BUT… the author doesn’t beat you over the head with that. She doesn’t make Linnet out to be the best warrior ever and have her fighting every time you turn the page. It’s just a set of skills that she has and that she uses when the time is right. Instead, Linnet succeeds more with her feminine skills, even though she has to develop them first. I really appreciate that delicate touch.

It’s a wonderful love story set in a far-off land with a touch of magic. It shows how Rajak and Linnet find their way past the bitter hatred between their people to build their own strong relationship.


Sixteen-year-old Linnet has been given a grave task. If she succeeds, it could end her life. If she fails, it could destroy her people.

She must kill a prince.

But first, she must marry him.

Prince Rajak of the Badi, son of the tyrannical desert king, has given Linnet’s Highland kingdom of Hilrigard an ultimatum: give him a princess for his bride, or be slaughtered. Linnet’s older sister is his first choice, but when she begs not to be sent, Linnet volunteers, to save her people.

Her mother, however, sees an opportunity. She secretly instructs Linnet to gain Rajak’s trust and then assassinate him, before he discovers the legendary chamber that will resurrect the Badi’s greatest king.

Linnet is united with Rajak and goes to his court determined to obey her mother’s command, though repulsed by the strange customs and bizarre foods. But the more she learns of the prince, the more she realizes that his brooding exterior conceals a good heart. And the more she learns of the chamber, the more she suspects that the legend is not what it seems.

But time runs short when Linnet’s mother sets the coup in motion, and Linnet is faced with a heart-rending choice—for the one sent to kill the prince is now the only one who can save him.

Adventures in Other Worlds with a Side of Romance