It’s in the Cards!


Photo Credit–Laura Perkins

Work continues on the second book of the Heiromancer Trilogy–I’ve completed my in-depth edit of the second book, A House of Cards, and it’s shaping up nicely. It should be ready to ship out for external editing shortly, I had the privilege of reading excerpts at the Southern California Writers’ Conference last weekend, which was a ton of fun and is a great way to keep up to day on the publishing business and connect with other writers and publishing professionals. Next up–designing the new cover!

For those who are as yet unfamiliar with the Dreamweaver Chronicles, The Demon of Histlewick Downs, which serves as a stand-alone prelude to the Heiromancer Trilogy, is free on Amazon for a few more days. If you snag one and like it, please consider leaving a review. Enjoy!

Practical Phrendonics Available in Paperback

The wait for the first volume of the Heiromancer Trilogy is over! To order through CreateSpace:

Paperback availability through Amazon may take a few more days. Remember, regardless of where you buy, Amazon or Goodreads reviews are always appropriate and welcome.

Welcome to Trifienne!

At last! Practical Phrendonics, Book Two of the Dreamweaver Chronicles, will be live for download starting tomorrow December 8, 2016. Unlike The Demon of Histlewick Downs, which was a stand-alone novel, Practical Phrendonics kicks off the Heiromancer Trilogy (Practical Phrendonics, A House of Cards, and The Hanged Man’s Gambit) which together will form the next discrete unit in the Chronicles. Ten years ago, when I first set fingers to keyboard, I would never have anticipated where this path would lead. May it be every bit as magical for you (and if it is, I hope you’ll leave a review to let me know).


I’d like to give a shout out to C.M. Allen for his fantastic rendition of the City State of Trifienne. (Note, only the inset portion appears in the ebook–the full map you see here, will appear in the soon-to-be-released paperback version).

We did it, Nero–I miss ya, bud.


Practical Phrendonics, Book Two of the Dreamweaver Chronicles, is back from the editor. It will be the first book of a trilogy (with DoHD serving as a Prelude). I’m in the process of addressing the various editorial issues and hope to have a finished product in the not-too-distant future. Stay tuned!


Childish Naiveté

Licensed under creative commons attribution

Holocaust Memorial: David Williss–Licensed under creative commons attribution.

I remember as a child learning about the Holocaust, I was stupefied that such atrocities could have been committed in my parents’ lifetimes. I recall my childish relief at having been born in a “more enlightened” time–a time when such despicable acts would be unthinkable. People were better now, weren’t they?

Later, when my graduate training made it clear that the genetic composition of a population is unlikely to change significantly in a single generation, my childish perception developed cracks, but I was thankful that at least the culture had advanced–the brutal societal conditions that had produced such deep-seated angst were surely behind us, weren’t they?

Then, as I witnessed the rise of Fox News, and on its heels the soaring popularity of Donald Trump, I realized it’s not the actual conditions–it’s people’s perceptions that matter.

As a child, I used to sympathize with those who’d argued they were “only following orders.”  Oppose such a brutal regime? At what personal cost?

That was before I appreciated that to empower such a regime, many must be complicit. In The Demon of Histlewick Downs, Flinch would have understood this principle all too well, though he might argue that without benefit of hindsight, most couldn’t have foreseen the horrors their hatred would spawn.

We cannot say the same. History has taught us the risks of power acquired by exploiting hate. Ignorance is no excuse.


DoHD after Christmas sale.

I’ve tried closing my eyes and tapping my heels together, but it looks like our move to Kansas is going to be a little more involved. If, like me, you long for a little after-Christmas escapism, the Demon of Histlewick Downs is currently on sale for 99 cents. In the meantime, anyone know where I can rent a balloon?


Blog Hop: Importance

Many thanks to Mary Vensel White, author of The Qualities of Woodfor tagging me in this Blog Hop and thereby forcing me to consider my work in a more societal context. Always appreciate a nudge to view things from a fresh perspective. Mary’s been a guiding light through many aspects of the publishing process, not to mention an incredibly gifted storyteller. You can find evidence of her latest exploits here.


Why are you working on the project you are writing now? Why is it important? (to you, or to the world, or…)

My next project, tentatively titled Practical Phrendonics continues The Dreamweaver Chronicles, begun in The Demon of Histlewick Downs. These stories loosely follow the ripple effects through history of a brilliant but controversial woman on a pseudo-Victorian society—a refined culture only belatedly realizing that magic is a force to be reckoned with. Their responses reflect some of the usual reactions that accompany the emergence of a disruptive force on an otherwise comfortable status quo. The folks who get caught in the crosshairs learn lessons that will no doubt resonate with anyone living in times of rapid technological advancement.

The work is also important on a more personal level: my characters are holding me hostage in a small windowless room at knifepoint, demanding to be published.

And now, I’m delighted to pass the torch to two captivating and accomplished novelists who will be answering the same question with respect to their own works-in-progress:

Claudia Whitsitt is the author of The Samantha Series (Identity Issues, Intimacy Issues and Internal Issues) and The Wrong Guy. Samantha, Claudia’s amateur sleuth, is a school teacher unwittingly caught up in a fascinating case of stolen identity. Identity Issues was one of my first kindle app downloads, and despite having to sit at a computer desk to do it, I devoured it in no time. Her take on the importance of her current work-in-progress should be appearing here shortly.

Matthew Pallamary, an inspirational publishing powerhouse, whose accomplishments include historical fiction-turned Cirque-du-Soleil-style performance (Land Without Evil), to memoir (Spirit Matters), to Science Fiction (Dreamland) to self-help (The Infinity Zone) and several short story collections. He still somehow finds time to mentor new authors at numerous writers’ conferences (Including the upcoming Southern California Writers’ Conference) where his late-night Rogue Read-and-Critique sessions are always a special treat. How do you do it, Matt? I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a word or two about your upcoming novel, Eye of the Predator in your reply.

CreateSpace for the win!

So far mad props to CreateSpace for making the process of generating a print edition of The Demon of Histlewick Downs efficient and relatively painless. Learned enough InDesign to format the interior with styles, drop caps, running headers and an auto-generated TOC (using some gorgeous free-for-commercial-use fonts). Submitted proof PDFs two nights ago, and passed their review process yesterday. After inspecting their online proofs, I ordered the hard copy proof late last night. I received an email that my proof was in the mail early this morning. Do they not sleep? One glitch so far, and it wasn’t their fault: I also initially designed the cover in InDesign, but the pdf output dulled the eye’s iris color from brilliant blue to cornflower. Redesigned the cover using Photoshop, and digitally, at least, all the colors looked great. The 3D online rotating proof gave me goosebumps. Here’s hoping the print version measures up!

Two other things I learned. One site I happened across complained that once you enter a title and an ISBN, you can’t change them, even if the book hasn’t been printed yet. I didn’t try, so I can’t confirm. The other is that if you use your own ISBN instead of theirs, CreateSpace won’t distribute your book to academic institutions or libraries as part of their expanded distribution program, so be careful if that’s important to you.

Flinch Lives!


So proud to report that my debut novel, The Demon of Histlewick Downs, first volume in The Dreamweaver Chronicles is now available as an ebook on ISBN 978-0-9906281-0-1. ASIN B00M1J2U8I. Goodreads: cover

For newer visitors, here’s the premise:

When the Church declared all spell-casting to be heresy, young Thoren Theratigan wasn’t worried. After all, despite a deep academic knowledge of magic theory, his father couldn’t work an actual spell if his life depended on it. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the Inquisitors from breaking down their door and dragging his parents away as heretics. When Thoren learns the Inquisitor General is staying in Histlewick Downs, he resolves to travel there to rescue his parents and set the record straight. Little does he know the Inquisitor General has powerful enemies—genuine magic-wielding heretics who will stop at nothing to oppose him. Armed only with his determination, a relative’s peculiar pocket watch, and a fraction of his father’s useless knowledge, can Thoren stave off the Inquisitor General’s enemies long enough to convince him he’s made a mistake?

Up next–the paperback edition of DoHD through CreateSpace, and work on the next three volumes in The Dreamweaver Chronicles, a trilogy with the working title Practical Phrendonics.The trilogy is already written, and I’ll now be turning my attention to editing. I’ll keep you posted on any new developments.


The End of Flinch

Yep, that’s right.  I reached the end of DoHD at 6:05 tonight at 91,000 words, ending at book 4, chapter 7.  Very satisfied with how it turned out. All those pesky loose ends are now tucked securely in place.

That means now the editing begins.  Woohoo!

A reminder, the story portion on the website will be coming down soon.

Flinch grows up.

Where does the time go?  A little over a year ago, I began writing a little serial piece called The Demon of Histlewick Downs as a way to keep myself writing while I worked on getting Practical Phrendonics publication-ready. Almost 6 months ago, I decided on an editor, but there was a catch–she was booked 6 months in advance. In the meantime, I continued typing merrily away on DoHD. Then September came along, and we attended the Southern California Writers’ Conference. There, we got to meet in-person the editor I’d chosen, who reviewed the first few pages of DoHD as part a workshop she was hosting. Based on her recommendation at the workshop, I’ve decided to have DoHD edited for publication, even before PP (in part because it’s a stand-alone effort, while PP is a series). That gives me about three weeks to finish and polish Flinch’s story before the editor gets a stab at him.

Since some agents are leery of representing pre-published works, I’ve decided to stop posting the final installments of DoHD online. Not to worry though–if you’ve been a loyal reader, leave me a message here by mid November and an email address and I’ll see to it that you get copies of the final installments.  I don’t think agents object to beta-readers!

Oh, and that means that over the next few weeks, the rest of the Flinch story will be coming down off the site as he gets ready to transition to this new phase in the process.

Proceed to Chapter 12

Time’s up!

Cover Stories: the Design Observer’s 2012 top 50 picks for Cover Design

The Design Observer has announced the 2012 winners for Cover Design:

design observerAs someone who’s considering self-publishing a paranormal-fantasy series, I’d be interested in seeing the rubric the judges used to decide how to separate the wheat from the chaff. In the past I’ve been given all sorts of advice (solicited and unsolicited) about what makes a good cover, but if the results of this contest are any indication, the judges weren’t privy to any of it.

Apparently, simple monochromatic font covers are in vogue (How Music Works, Shoplifting From American Apparel, The Sniper’s Log, the David Foster Wallace book, Paris I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down, etc.)  as are covers that contain some sort of note (Girlchild, At Last, What to Look for in Winter, Oblivion, The Flame Alphabet, etc.). The judges also seem inordinately fond of non-head items forming heads (The Investigation, The Bug, Cascade). In most cases, the genre or subject matter of the book are not discernible from either the cover or from the title. In many instances, obscured text or tiny fonts require the reader to use a magnifying glass to deduce the title or author (Cascade, Oblivion, The Flame Alphabet, The Vanishers, Stripped, Girlchild). Courier as a font makes a surprise resurgence as a cover-design element, clearly though, like nudity, only when it’s integral to the plot (Girlchild, Butterfly in the Typewriter).

My favorite?  Far and away, its the attractive cover for The Teleportation Accident. To me, the title and the cover conspire to give an intriguing suggestion about what the book might be about that makes me want to investigate further.

The takeaway message for the self-published author is that award-winning covers can be produced using simple graphic elements and a good aesthetic sense.  Many of these winners used little or no artwork. Of course, the elements that win a design contest may not translate well to selling books. It will be interesting to see whether any also become best-sellers.

Before and After: The San Diego Writers’ Conference

This was my second Writers’ conference.

As we were packing up the car to make the trek to San Diego, I must confess I was wondering whether the trip was going to be worth the cost. After all, I’d just attended a conference in September, and probably not much had changed in the publishing world since then. Not only that, but by an odd twist of fate, almost all the agents there already had a copy of my manuscript, which meant I’d be going without any opportunity for a meaningful advance submission critique.

I’m probably not telling you anything you didn’t already know, but I’m going to say it anyway–I needn’t have worried.

At the last conference, I’d taken the approach that as a beginner, I should lurk to see what the conference was all about. Even when I had the opportunity to read, I passed. Such conventions develop a certain culture, and I wanted to see how things worked before I jumped in.

Not so, this time. If I wasn’t going to get an advance submission, at very least I was going to get feedback. You see, a couple weeks ago I’d gotten some valuable beta-comments that the manuscript could really benefit from an introductory chapter that put the early action into a broader context. I now had that chapter in hand, and I was proud of it. But that didn’t mean it couldn’t benefit from the attention of talented experts, and there would be talented experts aplenty in San Diego.

This time I did not lurk, I dove in. I presented my new chapter in four different workshops where it was dissected and analyzed by a host of writers and editors. As proud as I was of my chapter, I soon learned several key ways to improve it. My biggest epiphany was that I had been lazy about character introduction, leaning heavily instead on my love of snappy dialogue. The problem is, of course, that even the snappiest dialogue rings hollow without a solid mental image of the characters engaging in it. Sure, I had a clear image of those characters, but that’s no substitute for making sure the reader has the tools to ride along with me.

So, if you are wondering what the San Diego Writers’ Conference can do for you, allow me present a concrete example:  I offer the first page or so of my introductory chapter (accessible by clicking the links below) as it existed before the conference, followed by the same segment of text after applying all that conference expertise:



I see an enormous difference, and I think you will too!

I’d like to give a special shout-out to the moderators of the various workshops, whose expertise and enthusiasm I found so inspiring:

In alphabetical order:

Marla Miller

Matt Pallamary

Laura Taylor

Bob Yehling

You’re all rock stars!