Last year I got new covers for Beneath the Canyons and Bad Hunting, the first two books of Daughter of the Wildings. I still love the old art, but I have a better understanding now of what makes an effective book cover image, and I really needed to get those two books more on-genre for epic fantasy and epic romantic fantasy, to communicate better exactly what kind of books they are to readers who are looking for that genre. I love what my artist, Yuriko Matsuoka, came up with, and especially her fresh envisioning of Silas and Lainie. She nailed the characters perfectly.
Finally the time has come to do the rest of the series covers to match. We just did The Rancher's Daughter and To the Gap, books 3 and 4, and hopefully Yuriko will have room in her schedule in July to do books 5 and 6. These covers have just gone live; check them out! (And yes, that's Silas without his duster coat on book 4!)
So while I've been working hard on revisions on the Mage of Sea and Sky series, I've also been updating the covers on some of my older books, that I thought needed a cover refresh. Two of them, Sarya's Song and Heir of Tanaris, already had custom cover art, and there were things about it I loved and things that weren't working. The third book, The Lost Book of Anggird, has never had custom art. So I put my artist, Yuriko Matsuoka, on the job, and I love what she's done! Check these beauties out:
And while I'm at it, adding the new covers, I've also been refreshing the formatting on these books and the rest of my catalog, and re-doing the lettering on the other covers (except for the Wildings books, which got this treatment last year), to get a nice consistent look all across my catalog. And I did a re-edit on Heir of Tanaris, to polish up a few things with the writing. The project isn't quite done yet, I still need to update Urdaisunia and my short story collections A Cure for Nel and Mistress of the Mirror.
And I'm not done yet! I'm also getting new cover art for The Rancher's Daughter and To the Gap, as part of updating the Daughter of the Wildings series's look. And once I've finalized the titles for the Mage of Sea and Sky books, I'll start revealing those covers. (Hint: the art, also by Yuriko Matsuoka, is gorgeous!) (Also, subscribers to my newsletter get to see most of these goodies first! Except the Lost Book cover; we just finalized that and I couldn't wait until after my next newsletter to upload it and show it off!)
Finally, Sarya's Song, Heir of Tanaris, and Mages' Home (Defenders of the Wildings Book 1) are all 99 cents through June 30. Don't miss this great deal for some summer/winter reading! Click the titles to go to the book pages and find links to buy at your favorite ebook store.
I'm in this great group on Facebook called Romantic Fantasy Shelf, where readers who love romance in their fantasy books, or fantasy in their romance books, get together to talk about all our favorite magic & kissing stuff. Last month we had a great discussion on the enemies-to-lovers romantic trope, and the Romantic Fantasy Shelf blog posted a list of recommended books featuring enemies who fall in love.
Enemies-to-lovers is one of my favorite romantic storylines. It brings in so much potential for conflict, angst, and character growth. When well done, it really addresses the main characters' core values and leads them to expand their world view, and to understanding and respect for each other.
In my preferred version of enemies to lovers, the enemy isn't evil, they just have opposing goals which aren't evil in and of themselves. In other words, just because the characters are enemies doesn't mean one of them is the bad guy. I differentiate between enemies to lovers, where the characters have opposing goals, and villain romance, where one of the characters is actually a villain. Note, there's also a difference between a true villain and one who everyone thinks is a villian but really isn't (I do love this take on villains!).
Anyway, I do have to be able to respect the "enemy." If I have no respect for him/her, I lose all respect for the other character for falling for him/her. Though, of course, there's also something to be said for a good redemption arc.
I also don't like when the "enemy" aspect brings in an unhealthy, abusive situation. If one character is inflicting a situation like that on the other character, I lose all respect for the abusive character and don't like to see the other character falling for the abuser.
A great example of a well-done enemies-to-lovers romance is Beneath Black Sails, by Clare Sager. The hero and heroine are enemies in that they have opposing goals, she's a pirate and he's a pirate hunter, but they both have good reasons for doing what they do and values and standards that I can respect. So I like both characters and respect them, and I enjoy seeing the process by which they come to understand, respect, and eventually love each other.
Another great example is the first book of the Emperor's Edge series by Lindsay Buroker. I love how Amaranthe and Sicarius start out as enemies then come to understand each other and agree to work for the same cause. The romance is extremely slow burn and continues to build slowly through the other 6(?) books of the series, but I especially loved the part at the beginning where they move from enemies to allies.
Among my own books, I think Urdaisunia is the best example of enemies-to-lovers. Eruz is the crown prince of the Sazar people, who conquered Urdaisunia and are subjecting it to a brutal rule. Rashali is an Urdai peasant, whose family has suffered greatly because of the Sazars. So, unquestionably, they're enemies. Eruz doesn't approve of his father's tyrannical rule, but he understands why the Sazars needed to find a new home and he wants to find a better way for the Sazars and the Urdai to co-exist. Rashali wants to drive the Sazars out and restore Urdaisunia's freedom. They both have worthy though opposing goals, and have to find a way to do what's best for Urdaisunia and all the people who live there - while falling in love in the meantime!
Want more enemies-to-lovers recs? Check out this post on the Romantic Fantasy Shelf blog, listing 20 enemies-to-lovers fantasy books (it's part 1; there'll be more to come sometime!)
My own picks from the list:
Beneath Black Sails, by Clare Sager (#7 on the list)
Master of Crows, by Grace Draven (#9)
Identity Revealed, by J.M. Butler (#10) (very villain-y)
Heiress of Healing, by Sonya Lano (#19)
For more book recs, book discussions, and to meet other readers and authors, come join us at Romantic Fantasy Shelf on Facebook! (Or follow the blog if you aren't on Facebook.) Right now, the Blizzard of Book Boyfriends read-and-review challenge is going on. Read books, share your reviews with the group, and enter to win prizes!
I'm in a whole slew of book promotions this month. Rather than posting about each one one at a time on the different social media places, where no one sees them anyway, here they all are in one place! A great way to discover new authors and genres. Some of these end soon, so don't delay!
Feb. 1-28: A small but exquisite selection of romantic fantasy and fantasy romance books.
Feb. 1-28: A huge selection of free fantasy books, from epic fantasy to urban fantasy to paranormal romance to space fantasy. Some downloads may require you to sign up for the author's newsletter.
Feb. 1-28: Science fiction and fantasy visions of alternative worlds and alternative versions of our world.
Feb. 1-28: A wide selection of fantasy, from epic to space fantasy, much of it featuring love and romance.
Feb. 15-Mar. 15: Binge on fantasy and science fiction ebook box sets. Discover a new favorite series!
Feb. 15-Mar. 15: A wide selection of fantasy and science fiction, free to download. Some of the downloads might require you to sign up for the authors' newsletters.
Feb. 15-April 15: Find a new series to binge on with these fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance ebook box sets.
Seven years ago, I was very excited to commission my first custom illustrated cover art, for the Daughter of the Wildings series. My artist, Mominur Rahman, did a fantastic job and I still love those covers even though at the time I hadn't learned very much about what makes a really effective, genre-appropriate cover image for romantic high/epic fantasy.
Now, seven years later, Daughter of the Wildings is the foundation of my growing career as an indie author, and I've decided it's time to refresh the covers, to bring them more into line with the growing romantic high/epic fantasy genre. I was so excited to get Yuriko Matsuoka, who did the art for the Defenders of the Wildings and Mage of Sea and Storm covers, to do the new Daughter covers, and even more thrilled with what she came up with for the covers of Beneath the Canyons and Bad Hunting!
I'm starting with new covers for those two books, then, as finances permit, I'll get new art for the rest of the books. The wonderful Colleen at Ampersand Book Interiors did the same cover treatments as on the old covers for these first two books. Then, when I get the rest of the series done, I'll re-do all the design treatments on the Daughter series and the Defenders series so they match.
I'm in the process of uploading the new covers. It may take up to a week or so for them to go live on all the stores. If you've already purchased Beneath the Canyons and Bad Hunting and want the versions with the new covers, sign up for my email list and watch for a future newsletter on how to get your hands on them!
Oh, and my newsletter subscribers already got sneak peeks at the Mage of Sea and Storm cover art! (It's amazing!) Sign up to see the cover reveals first, or watch this blog.
Welp. It's been an eventful *counts on fingers* six months since I last posted. Pandemic and quarantine - hope you're all well, we're fine so far - plus we moved. We downsized to a house more than 1/3 smaller than our old house, the house where we lived for 27 years and raised our kids. So much stuff to get rid of! And all the places where we would normally sell or donate things were closed, and even if having a yard sale wasn't a really bad idea during a pandemic, we just don't have the energy or interest in doing that kind of thing. In general, moving during a quarantine is not recommended. I hate moving anyway, but we had the perfect opportunity to get the perfect house for us in the area where we wanted to be - rare new construction in our established neighborhood - so we went for it.
In other news, I'm now on revisions of book 1 of the Mage of Sea and Sky series. This is actually the second of 4 books; I've already done the big revision on the prequel. I wrote the entire series, beginning to end, in draft before starting the revision process, which is good because yes the whole thing exists, and so many things changed from beginning to end (for example, what was originally the major impetus for book 3 is now just a side note if it still exists at all, and my understanding of the hero has changed drastically since I first started writing) that this way I can make the major changes and get everything consistent before I start publishing.
I'm also working with my wonderful cover artist, Yuriko Matsuoko, on the covers! Subscribers to my newsletter are the first to get sneak peeks at the cover art and excerpts from the book. Sign up to get the scoop before I post it on my blog! Also, subscribers will get Red Jade, the prequell novella of Mage of Sea and Sky, free!
Okay, so it's been three months since my last post and the release of Mages' Uprising. I figured maybe it's time for a progress report (though if you're subscribed to my newsletter, you've been getting progress reports all along, hint hint). So what have I been up to since October? Basically, this:
This is the complete first draft printout of my next series, tentatively titled Mage of Sea and Sky. I finished writing the draft on November 15. Four books (prequel and books 1, 2, and 3), 289,000 words (which will increase as I revise), 949 printout pages. That's book 3 sitting on top of the binder; it wouldn't all fit in my jumbo binder, so book 3 needed its own binder. Now I'm taking the series through my revision triage process, based on what I learned in Holly Lisle's How to Revise Your Novel class. This is where I read the whole thing through, making extensive notes on what needs to be fixed, getting the characters and worldbuilding consistent, checking for plot holes and subplots that go nowhere, and all that kind of stuff. I have a specific protocol I go through with each scene to make sure I hit all the different possible problem areas. So far I've done 366 out of 949 pages. It's kind of a grueling, tedious, time-consuming process, but when it comes time to actually start making changes to the books, I'll know I've identified the major and minor problems and figured out in advance how to fix them, and I can get everything consistent throughout all the books.
I'm really excited about this series. The idea and the main characters have been in my head for a long time, decades, and now I've finally found the right setting for them. This series takes place in the Mardavian Islands of the Wildings world, where Silas's Island mage ancestors came from, and the end of the series leads into the beginning of the mage migration to Granadaia. Some Venedias ancestors may be among the characters; I haven't identified them yet. So, although this takes place in a different time and place in that world, I hope readers who've enjoyed the Wildings books will also enjoy Mage of Sea and Sky.
Just as a teaser, here's a character list from the prequel, which takes place 12 years before the main series:
Esavas Daruvias (the hero), age 19, youngest son of a highborn mage family; an awkward, bookish, misfit young man.
Master Kahusun, a Master of the Higher Order of Magecraft and Scholarship (aka the Tower).
Amavas Daruvias, a highborn mage, Esavas's demanding, hard-to-please father.
Rayaluna Daruvias, Esavas's lovely, flighty older sister.
Pirazina Uyadias, age 17, a highborn mage, a beautiful young woman whom Esavas has adored since childhood.
Valazan Buradias, a highborn mage, the best student in Esavas's training cadre.
Orpajin Valentias, a highborn mage, the second-best student in Esavas's training cadre, a bully.
Master Arbasy, instructor in magical and martial arts for Esavas's training cadre.
Master Lanijan, weather-master for Esavas's hometown.
Mahuras Lamodias, a highborn mage, an acquaintance of Esavas's from school, an enterprising young man who is not especially concerned about the legality of his business ventures.
Watch for more info about Mage of Sea and Sky as I make progress! This series is quite a long way from being ready for release, but I can tell you that new and existing subscribers to my newsletter will get early access to a free download of the prequel.
As for other projects, for those who are sad that there are no more books in the Wildings series, never fear! A new Wildings series, Children of the Wildings, is next in the book pipeline. Right now I'm just gathering ideas (dragons! and what are the Vendine kids up to 15-20 years later? Despite their best efforts to avoid it, will trouble find Silas and Lainie yet again?) and I'm a long way from starting to write it; for the time being, I want to concentrate my energy and brain power on Mage of Sea and Sky. We also have a house move coming up the first part of March (only half a mile away, but we're reducing our living space by 1/3, so lots of decluttering to do before then) and my husband and I are also planning another trip to Germany this fall. But life and health permitting, I'll continue making steady progress and be able to begin Children of the Wildings once I start publishing Mage of Sea and Sky. Hopefully before the end of this year, but I really can't say. Stay tuned for updates (which will hopefully come more often than every three months)!
I am very happy to announce that Mages' Uprising, Defenders of the Wildings Book 3, is now available! Through Oct. 14, it's at a special release price of $2.99; after that, it goes up to the regular price of $3.99. Here's the scoop:
Once, Silas and Lainie Vendine, former bounty hunters turned renegade mages, had a home and ranch of their own and the friendship and respect of their non-magical neighbors. Then the mage-hating Chardonikans came and drove Silas and Lainie from their home.
Now, Silas and his children have been captured by the Chardonikans, who are intent on spreading their despotic rule through the Wildings.
On the trail of Silas and the children, Lainie and her companions approach the Broadgrass, territory of the hostile P'wagimet people, in search of the Chardonikan stronghold.
When the true extent of the Chardonikans' plans in the Wildings is revealed, Silas and Lainie must somehow work together, even though they're separated by the enemy, to defeat the Chardonikans, reunite their family, and protect the freedom of all the people of the Wildings.
Mages' Uprising is available at all ebook stores, only $2.99 for a limited time!
AU | CA | UK
Barnes & Noble
iTunes | Kobo
Phew, okay, yes I'm still here! I've been up to my ears in final edits on Mages' Uprising, book 3 of Defenders of the Wildings, and I'm happy to announce they're finished! The book will be coming out later this week, I need to do the formatting and uploading and write the blurb, arg. I'll release it at a special price of $2.99 for a few days, then it'll go up to the regular price of $3.99. To make sure you don't miss out on the release and the special price, sign up for my email newsletter.
And in the meantime, here's the cover! (Newsletter subscribers got to see this a month ago, hint hint)
Art by Yuriko Matsuoko.
If you've read Mages' Exile, book 2, and you're wondering, this may or may not be a literal depiction of something that happens in the book. However, that may literally be Silas and Lainie's house in the background (sorry about that, you two!)
Also in the meantime, to keep you entertained while you wait, here's a sneak peek at the first chapter:
RATTLING AND BOUNCING, the rail wagons sped across the prairie. From the bench where he sat, shifting uncomfortably on the hard red leather upholstery with Vera curled up next to him, Silas watched the grasslands blur by. The smoke drifting in through the open windows made his lingering headache from the heavy aura of Regulator energy on the boat worse, and his arms, bound behind him with chains infused with Regulator power, ached and burned.
The wagon jolted and Silas’s stomach lurched. He closed his eyes and forced back a surge of sickness.
“Do not worry, Mr. Vendine,” said Dorbiza, sitting across the aisle from him. “That is a common reaction to one’s first ride on the rail wagons. One soon gets over it. Are you in need of a bucket?”
“It’s okay if you throw up, Pa,” Blake said from his seat towards the front of the wagon. “Mama says it happens to everyone.”
Silas fought back more nausea. He’d be damned if he disgraced himself in front of his children and his enemies any more than he already had, letting himself be chained like this. The memory of what had happened at the dock, when his six-year-old son had felt compelled to defend him and Dorbiza had threatened the boy, made him burn inside. One day, no matter what it took, even if it was the last thing he did, he would send that sheep-humping son of a bitch to stand before the gods to answer for his sins. “I’m fine,” he growled at Dorbiza.
Despite the open windows, the inside of the wagon was hot and stuffy. Vera lay asleep, her head heavy and sweaty on Silas’s lap. Lulled by the heat and the constant, steady sound and motion, Silas started to doze off as well.
He caught himself, jerking his head up. It wouldn’t do to fall asleep when he and his children were in the hands of the enemy, being taken to gods alone knew where – if the gods even knew. If he fell asleep and the children were taken from the wagon, he wouldn’t know what had happened to them. Yawning, his head pounding, he forced his eyes to stay open.
At last, with a loud screeching and grinding, the wagons slowed down, then stopped. “We have arrived,” Dorbiza said. “I am certain, Mr. Vendine, that is the fastest thirty leagues you have ever traveled.”
Silas shook his head, trying to clear it. Thirty leagues? How long had it been? Not long enough for him to start feeling hungry or for the boys to announce that they needed to pee; an hour, or maybe a little more. In that short time, he had gone nearly a full day’s journey. No doubt, these rail wagons would be a great thing for the Wildings, allowing people and goods to cross the vast distances in a matter of days rather than ninedays or months.
But the price the Chardonikans were asking was far too high.
Watch for Mages' Uprising, Defenders of the Wildings Book 3, coming later this week at your favorite ebook store. And don't miss out on these special offers:
Beneath the Canyons is free at all stores at least through December, or maybe longer.
Daughter of the Wildings Books 1-3 box set is on special for only $2.99 through this month, maybe longer if I continue to be happy with the sales it's getting.
And through October 31, get Mages' Home, book 1 of Defenders of the Wildings, for only 99 cents!
Ok, yeah, so I've been home from our latest trip for a couple months now. :D I've been trying to recover, but this summer has been full of this and that and the other, and in between I've been working hard on the books.
I'm down to the final rounds of cleanup and polishing edits on Mages' Uprising, Book 3 of Defenders of the Wildings. It's at 99,000+ words, by far the longest of the Wildings novels. I always hesitate to announce release dates because stuff *always* happens to delay them, but I think we can look for this one to go live in late September/early October. As always, to make sure you don't miss out when it's released, sign up for my email newsletter. And watch for the cover reveal, coming soon! (Newsletter subscribers will get the first look!)
I'm also almost done with the first draft of book 2 of a new series, set in the Islands where Silas's ancestors came from, shortly before the mage emigration to Granadaia began. I'm having a lot of fun with these characters and the different setting. There's still book 3 to write, then all the revising and editing, and I'm saving up for covers, so there's a long way to go until these are ready for release. The prequel novella will be free for subscribers to my email list!
Anyway, I'm making progress, even if it's in fits and starts.
And now, some photos from my trip to Scotland!
Doune Castle. Parts of Monty Python and the Holy Grail were filmed here, along with scenes from the Outlander and Game of Thrones TV shows.
Standing Stones of Torhouse. About 4000 years old. It's amazing how evenly they're arranged, and in a perfect circle.
A mysterious castle near a seaside hotel where we stopped one rainy afternoon to get something to eat.
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