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.
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!
Hope everyone had a great holiday season! I'm still recovering from Thanksgiving and Christmas. But edits on the next book of Defenders of the Wildings are proceeding at a steady pace (Thank you pomodoro method!), and now it's time for the cover reveal! First, though, I want to let you know about a new Facebook group for readers of romantic fantasy, Romantic Fantasy Shelf. (If you aren't on Facebook, there's also a website starting up, also called Romantic Fantasy Shelf.) We're kicking off the group this month with a full month of games, giveaways, and author takeovers. (I'm on today, Jan. 5.) Come join us and discover lots of new romantic fantasy books and authors!
And now, on with the cover :)
Art by Yuriko Matsuoka. I've been really excited about this cover. Of all the Wildings covers, this comes closest to capturing Silas the way I see him in my mind. And I love the canyon background!
I'm looking to release Mages' Exile in February. To make sure you don't miss the release date, sign up for my email newsletters! No spam, and I won't share your address with anyone else. When you confirm your subscription, you'll get a link to a free copy of Tales of the Source-Breakers, a subscribers-only collection of backstories that go with Source-Breaker.
I'm down to the last few editing passes on Mages' Home, Book 1 of Defenders of the Wildings, so it's time to show off the cover!
And the full wraparound:
The artist who did the covers for Daughter of the Wildings unfortunately was not available to do these covers, so I commissioned Yuriko Matsuoka. I love her vision of a more mature Lainie and an older and (possibly) wiser Silas.
Here's the blurb:
Once, they were hated and hunted by mage hunters and Plain folk alike. Now, former bounty hunters turned renegade mages Silas and Lainie Vendine finally have the life they dreamed of - a home and ranch of their own where they can live in peace and raise their family, and the friendship and respect of their non-magical neighbors.
When a company from across the western sea comes to Prairie Wells, bringing marvelous new inventions, Silas and Lainie figure it only means more prosperous times ahead for the town and for them - until an old and vicious hatred of mages rears its head.
As troubles stirred by unseen enemies divide the town, many of Silas and Lainie's neighbors turn on them. When danger strikes at the heart of their home and family, Silas and Lainie must fight to protect everything they love, everything they've worked for, before it's all destroyed.
Read the Prologue and Chapter 1 here (warning: contains mild spoilers for Daughter of the Wildings).
I've set a tentative release date of September 22. To make sure you don't miss the release and the very limited-time introductory price (release weekend only!), sign up for my email newsletter. You'll also get news about special offers, giveaways and book promotions, book recommendations, exclusive sneak peeks, and more, including a free copy of Tales of the Source-Breakers, a subscribers-only collection of prequel stories to Source-Breaker!
Wow, between a cold and working on edits to Heir of Tanaris, September just blew right by. I was hoping to release Heir by the end of September, but that didn't quite happen. It's in the proofreading stages right now, and I'm looking at releasing it sometime next week.
In the meantime, I got a real book designer (Write, Dream, Repeat Book Design) to re-do the title treatment on the cover, instead of me just slapping something on it, and here's what she did:
I love the extra decorative touches to make it look like a real book cover.
She also re-did the titling on the covers of the other Tehovir books:
I love the branding on these. Watch for the new covers to roll out next week with the release of Heir of Tanaris.
And you should see what she did with the Daughters of the Wildings covers! There are some things with Beneath the Canyons that I'm not quite satisfied with, so that book will be undergoing another edit (no changes to the story, world, or characters; just the execution could use some fine-tuning). As part of this update, I decided to get new cover treatments to better reflect the fantasy-western genre blend. Same great art by Mominur Rahman, with nifty new design by WDR Book Design! Watch for those probably in November.
And yes, Defenders of the Wildings is still in the pipeline. I put the revision on hold while I finish up Heir of Tanaris, but I'll be getting back to it as soon as Heir is released.
With Heir of Tanaris in the later editing stages and (hopefully) still on track for release at the end of September, it's time to reveal the cover. I have been so excited to show this off!
And here's the full spread for the paperback:
As usual, Mominur Rahman did an amazing job with bringing my characters to life. And the magical tree is pretty cool, too. That was the first thing my husband said when I showed this to him - "Cool tree!"
Here's the short blurb, in case you haven't seen it yet: "When Davian, a badly-injured runaway slave from a corrupted magical Source, is brought to Isamina's healing Source, Isamina must find the courage to heal his damaged spirit, while Davian must defeat the evil within himself to become the great man he was meant to be and win the love he yearns for."
Some fun facts about this cover:
Davian's gloves weren't in the original character description. But I liked them so much I added them into the book, and they became an important detail in the story.
Also, Kaniev (from Source-Breaker) and Davian are from the same region of Tehovir, the northeastern fiords, (and, I don't know, Kaniev might even be Davian's great-great-grandfather or something) so I gave Mominur the same reference photos to work from, featuring the same model. Here are some closeups; you can see the resemblance between the two characters, but also how the artist captured their different personalities.
Finally, here's some of my mood music for the book, from the album Haven by Kamelot. The whole album is really awesome, and pretty much makes up most of the playlist for the book.
My Therapy (this is how Davian sees Isamina):
Under Grey Skies (the love song for Davian and Isamina):
Watch for Heir of Tanaris coming at the end of September (knock on wood). To make sure you don't miss out on the release and the special low introductory price, sign up for my email newsletter.
You may or may not notice a slight difference in the site banner and the cover gallery over to the side - I've done a slight refresh of the cover of Beneath the Canyons, and also got a shiny new cover for the Daughter of the Wildings boxed set! Here it is in all its glory:
Write, Dream, Repeat Book Design put that beauty together for me :D
And here's my refresh of the Canyons cover:
Same awesome art by Mominur Rahman, but I adjusted the color and lighting a bit and changed the color on the lettering to bring out that magical glow thing happening around the edges of Silas and Lainie, coming off of the ore they're holding, and also cropped in a little closer on the characters so that the magic is a more prominent element.
Anyway, as for actual books, I'm still chugging along. I've been slightly less exhausted this week than I was last week, but my brain is very unfocused. I'm mainly concentrating my efforts on the second big revision of Heir of Tanaris right now; I want to get that done and edited and released. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say end of September, but I can't make any guarantees this far out.
Once Heir of Tanaris is out, I'll turn my full focus (such as it is) to Defenders of the Wildings. I've got another story/series idea I want to work on, that I think I can set in the Islands of the Wildings world, but first I'll just work on the big edit on Defenders. It's almost scary how much work it's going to need, but I'm trying out a process that I hope will let me cut my two major revisions down to one. I also have a bunch of short stories I've been meaning to get to in the evenings on days when I get my full quota of work done during the day, but that never happens. At least I'm making progress, slow though it may be.
Looks like it's time for a progress update. Two big projects are occupying my time and (limited) brainpower and energy right now. The major revision of Heir of Tanaris is under way; I'm about halfway through. As always, scenes I thought didn't need a lot of work are getting totally rewritten (just finished a long one that I decided at the last minute to change from Davreos's point of view to Isamina's). But I'm really happy with how this is coming together so far. The soundtrack for this book is mainly the album Haven by Kamelot. Give it a listen if you want to get a feel for this book, the next book in the Tehovir world.
I've also started the triage phase of revision on the Defenders of the Wildings series, the follow-up to Daughter of the Wildings. I was going to wait until the big revision on Tanaris was done, but decided I couldn't wait that long. And I think (hope!) I've got readers waiting for it too. So I started that, revising the whole series like it's one big book (which it basically is, much more than Daughter, which divided itself up neatly into separate novels), and I was going through book 1 and it was going fine, highlight these characters more, move this to this other scene, combine these two scenes, dum de dum, HEY WHERE'S THE PLOT???
Yes, I forgot to put a plot in book 1. Which probably explains why this "novella" is only 38 double-spaced pages long. My excuse is that I decided that what was originally book 1 needed to be book 2, so I took some stuff from the original book 2 and wrote some new material and stuck all that in front to make the new book 1, just so I could get the general scaffolding of the story in place. I know what the plot is supposed to be; a thing happens, as often does in novels, and this thing has potentially dire consequences for Silas and Lainie and their livelihood, and they talk about doing something in response. Well, then, other things happen and we get to the end of book 1 and they never did the thing they talked about. So doing the thing they talked about is the plot of book 1, and now I just need to actually write it. Fortunately, it fits in well with the other stuff happening that I wrote.
There are writers who claim they can write a complete, organized, well-structured story in one draft, with only needing to clean up the typos to make it publishable. I am not one of those writers. :P
So, anyway, that's where things stand. No idea yet on release dates; to make sure you don't miss out, sign up for my email alerts to get release news, special offers, the occasional freebie, newsletter-exclusive sneak peeks and trivia quizzes, and other fun stuff when I can think of it.
One more note: a very talented young writer named Cristian Mihai is in dire need of dental work that is far beyond his means to pay for. He has a condition that leaches all the calcium from his teeth, with the result that he has a mouthful of crumbling teeth, which causes him a great deal of pain and makes him unable to eat or speak normally. His writing is best described as literary fiction, which you may know is usually not my reading material of choice, but his stuff is really good. Anyway, if you can make a donation, or buy a package of reblogs on his site if you have a Wordpress blog, buy one of his books, or even just share on social media, every little bit helps.
Here's an interview with Ardavos, the antagonist (it's really kind of hard to think of him as a villain) from Source-Breaker:
1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
I am Lord Ardavos, Master of Source Vadaerna and seeker after knowledge. You may simply call me Lord Ardavos, or "my lord."
2. How old are you?
Age has no relevance to genius. However, I do worry that I don't have enough decades of life left in which to complete my work.
Well, if you insist, I am 46 years old.
3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
I have not had contact with them since I left home in my youth to begin my training as a healer, but my parents supported my ambitions and I believe they would be proud of what I have accomplished in my life.
4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
*turns red* My lady Sivael is the first woman I ever kissed. Fifteen years later, she is still with me, so that must mean we both found it pleasing.
5. What is your occupation?
As I said, I am a seeker after knowledge. By training I am a sorcerer; my original training was in the field of healing. Since then, I have turned my attention to finding improved ways to store and use Source-power. One of the great limitations on the use of magic is that only one kind of Source-power can be used at a time, and the magic practitioner must either be at a Source in order to draw on its power or carry a limited amount of power with him, either within himself or in a special, magically-prepared container. I seek to take the practice of magic far beyond what is possible under current restrictions and practices.
6. What are your best and worst qualities?
I am dedicated to my work, to improving the practice of magic for the benefit of mankind. I am talented in developing theorems and making precise calculations in order to predict the results of the experiments I will carry out. And I am methodical and orderly in my work.
I have always had difficulty in developing relationships with people. Very few people understand me, though some have suggested that it is I who does not understand them. However, this is an insignificant thing; I have surrounded myself with people who are grateful and loyal to me, and I feel no need for any other company.
7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
*turns red again* I had never given any thought to such a thing - it always seemed unimportant compared to my work - until I met my lady Sivael. After I healed her of life-threatening burns, and you can see that she has not so much as a scar from her injuries, I had a sense that she would be the one person who would understand and appreciate both my work and myself. I had a sense that... this is very hard for me to put into words, but I had a sense that if I accomplished nothing else of note, saving her life and healing her injuries would make all my work and sacrifices worthwhile. I knew that even if I never had anyone else I could trust, who could understand me, if I had her, it would be enough.
Sivael has no magical ability, but she is well-educated and does a superb job of keeping the records of my work. And she is unfailingly kind and patient with me. Even when I become excessively absorbed in my work and short-tempered, she reminds me that my work is not the only thing of value in my life.
8. What is your favorite thing to do?
Studying magic. Experimenting with different ways of using Source-power. Learning and expanding our knowledge of what is possible.
9. What is your greatest fear?
That I will not live long enough to be able to make the results of my studies widely known, or that something else will happen to cut my work short.
10. What is your most treasured possession?
My magical abilities, and my lady Sivael.
A few years ago, I did a series of blog posts called "Billionaires, Bad Boys, and Bondage," comparing the heroes of my books to those popular romance tropes. This ended up being a pretty popular series, although a lot of the views came through the search term "bondage boys." Somehow, I have the feeling that a tongue-in-cheek look at how my fantasy heroes stack up against the romance tropes wasn't what those people were looking for and they probably went away disappointed. The popular trends in romance have moved on to include such things as mixed martial arts, rock stars, and motorcycle clubs, but billionaire bad boys who are into bondage seems to be a classic, and anyway I'm having too much fun with this concept, so I decided to update the series with a look at the hero of my latest book.
So here's Kaniev, the Source repairman from Source-Breaker, and how he stacks up on the Billionaires, Bad Boys, and Bondage index. (You can follow the links back to the older posts for more detailed explanations.)
Billionaire factor: Kaniev, like many skilled tradesmen who are in high demand, has made a pretty good living for many years at his trade. He's good at what he does, not to mention he's the only one in the world who can do it, so he can command pretty much whatever rates he wants for his work, and he doesn't come cheap. As he says to one client who tries to short him in their bargaining, "You have no idea how much my services cost, do you?" As is the custom in certain societies and periods of history, he converts his money into more practical and portable items, namely, expensive black leather clothing and lots of silver jewelry. It serves as a calling card, showing that previous clients have valued his work enough to pay him generously. And he knows it looks good on him :-D
Unfortunately, the last six months, he's run into a string of bad luck in the form of a number of Sources with problems he just isn't able to fix. Whether it's something weird going on that he can't figure out or his skills are starting to slip, the results are the same: if he doesn't fix the Source, he doesn't get paid. He hasn't been paid in six months and has had to start selling off some of his jewelry. If things don't turn around soon, he's going to be in a tight financial bind.
Billionaire rating: 3
Bad Boys - Inner Torment factor: Kaniev is a pretty easygoing, well-adjusted guy. He had a happy childhood back home in the fiords, although his uncontrolled talent for magic got him into trouble a number of times. When the previous Source-Fixer found him and wanted to take him on as his apprentice, Kaniev, who was not looking forward to becoming a fisherman like all the men in his family for generations (boring), and his parents happily agreed. He loves his work, and he loves traveling and meeting new people. Lately, though, he's starting to get frustrated with his failures and just wants to go home and (oh, the irony) take up fishing. About now, boring would be good.
Inner Torment rating: 2
Bad Boys - Jackassery factor: Again, Kaniev is a pretty mellow, easy-going guy. He likes people and generally gets along pretty well with them. He especially likes women, all kinds of women, and he's a terrible flirt. He knows he looks good, especially for his age, and he never misses a chance to show off. (Fransisa's over to the side, rolling her eyes.) But it's all in good fun, and he doesn't mean for anyone to get hurt, though every once in a while, someone takes him more seriously than he wants to be taken and ends up disappointed. He does feel bad about that, but can't seem to restrain that flirtatious urge.
Jackassery Index: 4
Bondage: Yes, Kaniev likes the ladies. And the ladies like him, mostly (more eye rolls from Fransisa). He isn't looking for anything permanent, just a good time, and he certainly doesn't want to hurt anyone. Despite the black leather, he has no desire to dominate (or be dominated); while he enjoys all kinds of women, he especially likes being with a woman who can keep up with him as his equal. Not that he's averse to a little fun and games, but that's all it is, fun and games.
Bondage rating: 0
So, out of a possible 40 points, Kaniev comes in at 9. So it's a good thing he didn't try out for any hot tormented bilionaire romances but landed in my quirky fantasy novel instead. I think Fransisa's glad (even though she's stil over there rolling her eyes). Though with the black leather, he might fit right in in a motorcycle club story. (He likes this idea!)
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