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Posts Tagged ‘high fantasy’

Hey, it’s my book anniversary! It was three years ago, on May 15, 2019, that I self-published The Tower in the mist, which turned out to be the first Minstrels of Skaythe novella.

At that time, I had only an inkling of a series taking shape. That there would be a group of mages exploring non-violent resistance to an overlord’s cruel regime. That each adventure would stand alone, yet build into something greater.

Now it’s been three years, and I’m working on the series finale. Happy anniversary to me!


The Tower in the Mist

Mages vs. Amazons vs. Giant Badgers vs. Tyranny!

Zathi’s job is to capture renegade mages, but Keilos isn’t like any other mage she’s dealt with. Her drive to bring him in only leads them deeper into a cursed forest. Together, warrior and mage will face deadly beasts and grapple with decisions that compromise every principle. Until they stumble upon a place of ancient, forgotten magic. Zathi must choose — allow Keilos to claim it, or kill him once and for all.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Mother’s Day is here (or will be by the time some of you see this). It’s made me think about how, in my own work, family is so often a major factor.

This might not be surprising. We humans are social, and we grow up in families. When we’re writing, a character’s family and upbringing has a major impact, no mater what external stuff is going on in the plot. “Found family” is a major trope in all sorts of fiction, because it resonates with something we all know and need.

In my current series, Minstrels of Skaythe, there is one book that involves motherhood more than the others. That’s The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. Meven (the ice witch) is not looking for a family. She is only trying to save herself. Then she gets targeted by a street kid, both of them unaware that family is about to find them.

I hope you’ll take a look at The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. And, happy Mother’s Day!


The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh

Meven is a renegade, hunted by the cruel regime of master mage Dar-Gothull. Her desperate desire is to lose herself in the treacherous Fang Marsh. Only there can she live the life she wants, in freedom and safety. To reach the marsh, Meven must sneak through the town of Eshur, where her old enemy, the wicked Countess Ar-Torix, commands dozens of spies and guards. It should be no problem!

What Meven doesn’t know is that she’s already being tracked. Ozlin was thrown out because of his emerging magic. Now he’s starving on the streets of Eshur. Caught stealing, he’s about to be imprisoned in the brutal temple school.

Until Meven recognizes his power and intervenes. Suddenly she has a new, desperate desire — to save this mageling boy, and maybe save herself as well.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Yep, I’m still pushing along with The Tale of the Drakanox. I sort of reached the point where my thoughts had focused, and now I’m trying to re-focus toward the ending. Part of this is coming up with new obstacles to prevent everyone from cruising along too easily. I’m consolidating a bit, too.

Shonn and Piyaro had started out each with a separate plot thread, but now they’ve joined forces. They were heading to… somewhere… and they were going to get there too fast, so I had them sight some mysterious ships and have to deal with that.

Duessa has been the POV with the group of fugitives, while Ar-Lizelle has been chasing them. They might have gotten away from her, so I’m bringing in some allies for Ar-Lizelle. This new group is more her rivals than her friends, though. That will lead to some excitement. It should be fun to write.

The evil overlord, Dar-Gothull, is starting to take a personal hand in things as well. I need to make him as sinister and deadly as his reputation, which should be fun in a different way.

That’s the point of all this writing, though. Fun, right?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I’m still on vacation, but I’ve scheduled another teaser for you. This character is from Prisoners of the Wailing Tower.


Flames roared and leaped, as if they would join with the lowering sun. It was a farmer’s hut that burned, the thatched roofing a ready food for the blaze. Just short of the flames’ reach, Ar-Lizelle glared down at the body that lay at her feet. Her former prisoner was still shaved bald, scorch marks crossing the clothing he’d stolen to hide himself among the population. A perpetual grin of madness split the stubbled face.

It hadn’t been an easy fight. The fugitive’s madness gave him wild power. However, Ar-Lizelle had been warden of the Larder, Dar-Gothull’s prison for insane mages. She knew how to deal with the likes of him. Haafeth had died choking, her fire whip snaked about this throat. Not once did he stop laughing.

That was no surprise. Haafeth had been closer to madness as any of the escaped prisoners. Ar-Lizelle had no remorse for his death. The list of his crimes was long even before the peasant farmer he murdered, and the widow he had been terrorizing when Ar-Lizelle caught up with him. It was Haafeth who set their roof on fire, a futile attempt at distraction.

No, her only regret was that she had learned nothing about the whereabouts of the other prisoners who escaped on that horrible day.

Ar-Lizelle clenched her fists, controlling her fury. After years of patient work, monitoring reports and questioning new prisoners, she’d finally had the chance to capture her disloyal younger sister. Lorrah had left their father to die. Worse, she had become a renegade, working against the mages who rightfully ruled over Skaythe. But the hunt’s promised ending was merely a ruse. Lorrah had lured Ar-Lizelle out of the Larder, and while she was gone, a bunch of fake hunter-guards had broken all the prisoners out.

Disgraced by the failure of her security, Ar-Lizelle now lived on borrowed time. Countess Ar-Khoreen of Yergha, where the Larder was located, had made it clear that she must bring those fugitives back, or otherwise deal with them. If she failed, she would be cast into the Larder herself, as a prisoner.

Ar-Lizelle stood rigid, gazing at the flames without seeing them. A ghastly creature haunted the Larder, a revenant with slashing octopus arms paired to a human face. That creature called itself a Devourer. And what did it devour? Mages.

No. No, that fate must not be hers.

“Well, that’s one down,” a man joked behind her.

“Only nine to go,” his fellow agreed.

“Are you keeping score?” She whirled to glower at them, screeching in her high voice, “Do you think this is some sort of game?”

“No, Warden,” Endole hastily replied. He and Groff saluted.

By Ar-Khoreen’s order, only two of the prison guards had come with her on this hunt. The others remained with Captain Morthem, who held the Larder for her return. If she survived to return.

“Let’s go,” she snarled, and turned away.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I’m on vacation, but here’s another teaser for you. This character is one you might recognize from The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. Enjoy!


The mage’s tower was deceptively quiet, showing no lights. You could think no one was there. That was the way they wanted it. He shrugged a little, irritated, and jerked around to watch the sun’s last rays creep up the brown rocks that crowned the hills beyond the Fang Marsh.

That tower had been empty for a long time, but it was Addith’s domain now. Shonn remembered how he had worked to help her settle in. Her and the boy she’d said was a foundling. The surly brat never had taken to Shonn. Despite the kid’s interference, he’d almost gotten to her. Shonn grinned a little, remembering the hunger of her kiss. It wouldn’t have been much longer before he laid her down in the sand…

Unfortunately, Addith was never who she said she was. The water clan she claimed probably didn’t even exist. Her real name was Meven, and she was a runaway mage. He’d seen her throwing ice chunks around, when that mudmaw took a strike at the boy. Then the kid lit himself on fire, too. He was a mageling that she tried to train, while they both hid from the regime in the depths of the marsh.

Mages were dangerous, crazy, never to be trusted. Shonn had tried to hide his reaction, but Meven had turned cold and he’d known it was over between them. There was never really a choice, anyway. He’d had to report to the countess’s guards. If Countess Ar-Torix thought the water folk were in league with a rogue mage, she might destroy Otter and everyone aboard her.

That’s what Shonn had told his parents, and the others who protested that he’d turned against one of the water folk. To himself, he could admit the truth. He’d suspected about Meven, and he’d been toying with her, part of the same boredom that still scratched between his shoulder blades. If he won her trust, he could gather more information, something to trade with the city guards. He could even have blackmailed her, forced her to lie with him, or made use of her in some other way. To what purpose, he still wasn’t certain. It had only seemed like a good thing to have a mage at his command.

He could have done it, if not for that brat of hers wandering carelessly on the bank. But the mudmaw’s attack had made it clear the boy would always come first. It grated on his ego to be second best.

Meven’s parting words were clear: “I don’t want to see you again.” Unfortunately for Meven, hers was not the final word. Countess Ar-Torix had made it clear that she still wanted Shonn to be an informant. He had to be sneaky, given his parents’ disapproval, but maybe he’d have another chance at the ice witch after all.

With a final scowl, Shonn turned away from his thwarted vision. The setting sun cast muted pink and gold rays to reflect from the placid waters around the landing. Fish jumped, raising rings of brighter water. As the water became warmer than the air, mists began to creep over the lotus pools and among the dark mangroves. Frogs and crickets and other night creatures raised their shimmering chorus.

A flickering light caught his eye. Shonn glanced over, expecting to see fireflies or a last ray of sunlight on the far hilltops. Instead, a glow appeared brighter among the rocks. It swelled brighter, and then a brief flash. Yellow light streaked down the slope, with sparks trailed behind it, like coals falling from a fire. Shonn blinked. It moved so fast! Was it coming closer?

He heard no sound of hooves or wheels. No flames rose from that spot. The golden streak, soft and vaguely shaped, curved to follow a pale ribbon across the land. Whatever it was, it followed the old silvery scar that crossed the plain beyond the marsh.

The silence was eerie. There should have been a whistling of wind, or some other noise. Shonn heard nothing. After a moment’s staring, he stamped his sandaled foot vigorously on the roof where he stood.

“Oberim, Kannat!” he called to his father and uncle.

Muffled steps came from below, and the houseboat shifted slightly as the two men emerged from the main cabin. Shonn pointed at the mysterious object gliding ever closer.

“Do you see it?”

“Huh,” answered Oberim.

The three men watched in silence. Whatever it was moved swiftly and steadily, stretched out to twice the length of Otter. In a way, it resembled a cloud of mist lit golden by morning sun. There was no sun to light it, and yet it still glowed.

Uncle Kannat murmured, “What moves it? There is no wind.”

“What moves it,” Shonn retorted. “What is it?”

The angle changed as the creature got closer. There were hints of solid form within the mass. Two branching antlers, a wolf’s head with tousled mane, followed by a long body like an eel’s. Yet any shape dissolved almost before he could identify it.

Then it was past, following the curve of the ancient track that went straight across the marsh. By now, other family streaming out of the cabin, crowding to the rail. Soft murmurs of confusion and dismay came up to the cabin roof, where Shonn stood.

“Have you ever seen something like that?” Oberim asked his brother.

“No, but we know where it’s going,” Shonn replied, hiding his glee with grim certainty. “That path leads to the mage tower.”


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Work goes on with The Tale of the Drakanox. I’m in a tangled spot right now because a bunch of the characters from the previous novellas are all together in one place after 40,000 words or so. They all need to catch the others up on what went on in those said novellas.

Zathi and the Badgers are explaining how Keilos died and that they know where a massive store of vitalis is hidden away deep in the Hornwood (The Tower in the Mist). Tisha and Cylass are telling how she broke the curse over Seofan Holl (Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts). Alemin is about to go over his bond with the broken tower of the Larder, and how he knows the ancient tales of the Shining Ones are all true (Prisoners of the Wailing Tower).

It’s a lot! And it’s a challenge to keep this section interesting, when basically they’re all just sitting and talking. I need to throw something else in, maybe a suspicion that someone is listening in on them. Something to keep it lively, but without dragging it out even longer.

At the same time, I’m reading a book that’s reminding me why I made some of the choices I did when I planned out the whole Minstrels of Skaythe series. No names and titles here, I don’t believe in trashing other authors’ work. Let’s just say that sexual violence is all over the place, in a book that’s supposed to be a rebuke to misogyny. I guess they felt like that’s how to illustrate the problem.

Or they thought that’s what the audience would want to read, which… really? Mass rape is gross. That’s a big no-thank-you from me. Some of you might recall that I gender-swapped the whole cast of The Tower in the Mist, specifically to avoid sexual violence. Reading this book is a good reminder of why I did that.

There’s also a lot of fat-shaming directed at male characters. The villains, especially, are grossly fat, while the heroes are trim and handsome. This is such a stale approach, and it made those characters fall flat for me.

Finally, the plot should never hinge upon characters doing things that are foolish and/or will blow their secrets wide open, while proclaiming “I have no choice!”

All of which is to say, it’s kind of kicking me into gear to keep on with The Tale of the Drakanox!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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In recent posts, I’ve mentioned that there are four POV characters in my current novella, The Tale of the Drakanox, and that they all appeared in previous novellas. Several of those stories ended at a point where the characters were “safe… for now.” This novella will follow some of them further on their journeys. However, it will be through other points of view.

In case you were wondering, these are the new POV characters and what’s at stake for them.

1) Sergeant Piyaro, leader of Hawk Squad. He was Cylass’ commanding officer in Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts and something of a father figure. Since the events of that story, Piyaro has been struggling to keep Hawk Squad together.

2) Shonn, from the water folk in The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. He could have been Meven’s lover, except for a couple of minor things that happened. Maybe he thinks he has another chance with her.

3) Duessa, one of the escaped prisoners from the Larder in Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. She has to decide if she’s ready to trust Alemin, Lorrah, and the women of Badger Squad.

4) Ar-Lizelle is another Prisoners alumna. She was the warden of the Larder until her younger sister, Lorrah, helped everybody break out. Now disgraced, Ar-Lizelle has been ordered to recapture the fugitives by any means necessary. It’s a perfect vehicle for her revenge.

Although I’m not looking for any more POV characters, I’m definitely interested in hearing whether any of you have other favorite side characters. Maybe one of them can make a cameo appearance!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Yes, that’s what I’ve been doing on my winter break. Normally I take the holidays off to allow for family events, but this year for pandemic reasons we haven’t/aren’t going to do that. Both my husband and kid are working most days, so I’ve had the house to myself.

With that time, I’ve been able to really dig in and work on The Tale of the Drakanox. So far this week I’ve gotten about 2,250 words down. My expected output would usually be closer to 1,600 for a full five days, so that’s amazing progress.

For comparison, most of these novellas have been 30 – 40,000 words. I usually have 2 POV characters and estimate 20,000 words for each to have a satisfying arc. Drakanox has started out with 4 POV characters. That could run up to 80,000 if each character gets the full 20,000 words. That’s more of a short novel than a novella, but maybe it suits for the climax of a six-novella series.

My total so far is 17,300 words on Drakanox, and I’m pretty well into it. I still have 3 days left to work on the story. However, tomorrow is my booster shot, and that’s likely to slow me down. It’s been a little scary to see the project grow so quickly, but it’s also a pretty good way to end the year.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Today I have a blog visit with David Lee Summers. I’m talking about the roots of my Minstrels of Skaythe series. David is a good friend who has edited my novels in the past, so I hope you’ll skip on over and check it out!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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With my latest e-book out, this is where I appeal to all of you friends to show a little love for Prisoners of the Wailing Tower.

Have you read it? A review on Goodreads of Amazon would be great. Or, just tell your friends who also read high fantasy.

Do you have a blog? I would love a chance to visit and spread the word.

Are you interested but want to know more? I’m always happy to answer reader questions.

Help a lady out?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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