Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Figuring out the Anthology - And new excerpts from The Making of a Man

The rough draft of the anthology is done!!! 

This project has been an act of love and agony from the beginning. Now that it is done (almost), I am both relieved and anxious. Seven short stories (possibly eight--I will explain later) spanning twenty years and focused on one character's life, it is like nothing I have ever done before.

So, the reasons I am anxious are threefold. (1) I am handing my romance-reading audience two tragedies. (2) By nature of it being an anthology spanning two decades, I am afraid I am going to lose readers unfamiliar with the Rhynan novels. (3) I am haunted by the question, did I forget something important?

Solution #1 - Make it really clear that this is not just a romance. I am going to try to make it clear on the cover, in the description, and in the promotion that this is not just an anthology full of romances (my usual product). 

Solution #2 - I am contemplating adding in timeline markers between stories to help the reader stay oriented. I haven't written those yet, but I am hoping that will be enough to deal with any time jump confusion. You should see my timeline Excel for this series. It is huge and I haven't even filled in details for the later novels yet.

Solution #3 - I asked a friend to read a beta copy while it was "raw and wriggling" (her words) and she loved it. That is where the possible eight story might come in to the anthology. She mentioned that she wished to see a story about Simon's role in the civil war that happens before the beginning of Duty. His role was a lot bigger than many readers probably suspect. So, I am seriously considering writing that story, though it will be on the shorter side.

Now for a glimpse of the contents of The Making of a Man. 
(All first person POVs are Dentin's unless otherwise noted)

Passing the Mantle

   Alexter announced his arrival by clearing his throat loudly.
   “Are you about through?”
   “Considering a dozen laps next.”
   “Care to spar instead?”
   “Not quite the same thing, but I am amenable.” I dropped my stance and turned to where I had left my practice sword. “I was expecting Nigel. Did you see him on your way down?” I kicked up the sword and turned in time to catch the flicker of anger in my older brother’s face before he hid it.
   “I doubt he will make it any time soon.”
   I inspected my training weapon and glanced past it at Alexter. “What happened?”
   “Nothing.” He swung his blunted weapon in a flamboyant whirl over his head before lunging forward to skewer an imaginary opponent. “He lectured me about being respectful to Father.”

Forging Friendships

   The winner rose, but offered no hand to his opponent. Instead he bowed to Sir Fortwin and appraised me brazenly as Fortwin made introductions.
   “Korwich, this is the Earl of Dentin.”
   “My lord.” Korwich offered a barely perceptible bow. “I am due for a turn at the quintain.” He stalked off without another word.
   The thinner man rose from the dust, bowed deeply, and waited to be acknowledged.
   “Lowen Reginald, my lord,” Fortwin said as he acknowledged the man. “He is one of the men I selected for you. Loyal, even tempered, and skilled, he could be a valuable addition.”
   I studied Reginald. Medium height and slender, but obviously strong enough, he met my scrutiny with calm assurance. No shame or pride, only confidence.

The Sword of Korma Monroe

Korma's POV
   “My lord!” The dark-haired major burst through the canvas flap over the doorway.
   I leapt to my feet and retreated to the far side of the tent before turning to face the new arrival.
   Dentin didn’t even flinch. Studying the inside of his cup, as though contemplating refilling it, he asked, “What is it?”
   “Trouble.” The major looked from me to Dentin. A frown drew the man’s dark brows together over his long nose. “Do you think imbibing is wise, my lord?”
   “What is wrong, Dyrease?” Dentin asked without moving.
   “Blair is accusing me of poisoning him.”
   “Really? That seems a bit farfetched for even him. What are his symptoms?” 
   “Vomiting and stomach cramps.”
   “Could be nothing more than bad rations.”
   “He is the only one complaining.”

The Bittersweet Pear

Elsa's POV
   Reginald, Simon’s first squire, greeted us at the sitting chamber door. I smiled at Reginald as I preceded Simon into the room. Continuing on through to the inner most room where my maid had drawn a bath, I immediately began disrobing.
   “What do you wish me to do with this, my lady?” My maid held up the pear I had tucked into my pocket.
   “I will bring it with me to dinner.” 
   “But, my lady, won’t Lord Dentin find it strange that you bring fruit to dine at the high table?”
   I smiled. “He will find it quite vexing. See that it comes with me.”

Isbeth's Redemption

   The man's voice surprised Isbeth. Having removed his outer clothing to reveal well-made clothing beneath, he now stood with his back to the fire, arms crossed over the formidable chest of a warrior. It slowly dawned on Isbeth that she might be standing before the master of the house.
   “He only said to give this to Gelsey.” Isbeth produced the crudely folded scrap from her pocket. “He didn't say anything about waiting for a reply.” But before the kitchen maid could take the offered parchment, the man plucked it from her fingers.
   To Isbeth's surprise, Gelsey didn't appear a bit dismayed at the procurement of the correspondence. She simply pulled a chair out from the table that dominated the center of the room and indicated that Isbeth should sit.
   “Lord Dentin will want to ask you some questions considering the unusual nature of the delivery. Won't you, my lord?” Gelsey threw the question in the direction of the man studying the message on the parchment.
   “The Earl of Dentin?” Isbeth's hands trembled as she realized the identity of the man just a table length away. “The Securer of the Realm, the bulldog of Rhynan–”
   “I don't recommend you call him that.” Gelsey slid a half a loaf of bread across the table with a small crock of butter. “Sit. I have a cold chicken and sliced ham, which do you prefer?”

A Squire's Love

    I was just rounding the first turn when Gelsey stuck her head out into the passage from the kitchen below.
    “Is that you, Reginald?”
    “Aye.” I leaned back against the wall behind me and turned just enough to look down at her over my load. She was a pleasant sight to behold, honey curls escaping her coiled braid and slightly angular chin balancing the softness of her wide eyes. Seeing that was well worth the increasing weight of the gear.
    “Food will be ready in about a quarter hour. Will that be enough time for you to see to all that?” She gestured to my full arms with a flour-covered hand.
    “Should be. I will be right down as soon as I finish with these.” She flashed me a wide smile that warmed my middle far faster than any of her good cooking. She ducked back into her fragrant domain releasing a puff of savory scented air as she closed the door hard. Apparently she wasn’t taking any risks that the cat would return for another try.

Prodigal Brother 

   The man kept glancing over his padded shoulder to gage my reaction to this news. Although it was intriguing bit of gossip that was all it was. Hardly something to get excited about. I did not respond.
   “Why is that?” Tomas asked from my side. He always was a bit more susceptible to such things.
   “She hasn’t said.” The man waved his hand. “I hoped the earl could enlighten me.”
   “I have never met her,” I informed him.
   Upon reaching a relief carved door decorated with gilt, he turned and studied my face in earnest.
  “As far as I can gather she has never had the pleasure of your blunt conversation, my lord. But…” He squinted up at me. I stood almost a full head higher than he. “Now that I consider it, there is something familiar about your face, my lord. Are you certain you have traveled this way before?”

Questions? Concerns? Are you looking forward to this?
Please let me know what you think in the comments or in the poll 
(top left column)

Friday, July 31, 2015

7-7-7 Blog Challenge

A blogger friend of mine did this challenge and tagged those who hadn’t done it and wanted to do it. So I thought I would give it a go.

These are the rules:
  • Go to page 7 of your WIP
  • Scroll down to line 7
  • Share the next 7 sentences in a blog post.
  • After the excerpt, tag 7 other writers to continue the challenge.
Since I am in the midst of writing a number of stories (books and short stories) so I will be sharing a bit from each of them.

The Reward of Anavrea (editing)

   Urith remained stubbornly closemouthed about the keeper of the keys. Instead he expounded further on Lord Klian and the late Lord Alain.
    Liam grew steadily uneasy. Urith’s description of Klian made him seem even nastier than most of the criminals Liam interacted with during his stint in the service of the king.
With Urith riding behind Liam on his mount at the front of the column, they headed off to meet the keeper. The boy led them west into the forest that bordered the fields a quarter-mile from the village. The trail showed signs of being used by foot traveler, not horses.

Diaspora (writing)

   “About time we finally meet face to face,” Doctor Overan replied. He stepped forward and offered an open hand for shaking. “The name is Doctor Jaynden Overan, but you can call me Jay.”
   Panic and anger straightened my spine. The Diaspora considered physical touch between strangers extremely rude. I made that fact expressly clear in my summary of social protocols. Extending a hand to be shaken equated a marriage proposal.
   Yet, the Diaspora representative’s response baffled me more. He looked at me. No smile. No frown. It was simply an assessing glance before turning to introduce his companion.
   Doctor Overan’s hand remained unshaken.

Prodigal Brother (writing)
   My own grief threatened to undo me. I had avoided dwelling on my father’s, and subsequently Alexter’s, death, for just this reason. No matter how I rationalized it, denied it, or tried to desensitize myself to it, I couldn’t. The pain remained raw. The wound refused to heal.
   Perhaps it was because I was missing the last piece—Nigel. I reached across the physical divide between us and laid a hand on his shoulder. “It was an accident. We never thought otherwise.”

Living Sacrifice: Book 3 (writing)
   “The Sept Son is not an elitist.” I stated it with a finality that I hoped would cut off any further questions. “I am not his wife.”
   Ariana nodded in understanding.
   Lotus’ suspicion buffeted my energy senses. I chose to ignore it. In hopes of keeping the women off the sensitive topic, I began telling them about my history while I searched the shelves for extra copies of the Revelation and the Talent’s Code.

I am tagging anyone who would like to do it. My only qualification is that I would love it if you would post a link in the comments so I can read your post. I love encountering other writer's WIPs.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Radio interview on The Write Stuff Radio 2nd Anniversary Show!

I stopped by Parker J. Cole's radio show for the third time tonight. It is always a joy to spend time with Parker J. Cole. Her shows are entertaining and informative. Check it out every Tuesday evening from 7 to 8:30 PM ET.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Cover Reveal - Water Princess, Fire Prince by Kendra E. Ardnek

Book Description:

When the Lady Dragon does come,
Hold fast, do not fear, do not run.
Your Water Princess will fight,
Fire Prince will set all to right.
Each shall come from a Fall,
Their union will save you all.

Despite the fact that she's on track for competing in the Olympics, and he's practically raised his younger brothers since they lost their mom in a car accident, Clara Mandras and Andrew Stevenson are pretty much normal teens. They have normal hopes, normal dreams, and they live in a normal world.

All this is torn away from them when they are thrust into another world and declared Water Princess and Fire Prince. With no experience ruling a country, meeting each other for the first time, and being expected to fight the Lady Dragon – an evil sorceress plaguing the world of Rizkaland – Clara and Andrew are underprepared and inexperienced. Unless they learn to work together despite their standing opposition, Rizkaland's hope will be lost. 

What is to come will change their lives forever.

Author Bio:

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairy tales and twisting them in new and exciting ways.  She's been practicing her skills on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years, "Finish your story, Kendra", is frequently heard at family gatherings.  Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that also glorify God and his Word. You can read more about her on her blog,

Available for kindle preorder:  $2.99 the 19th and 20th ONLY (at which point I’ll put it up to its official price of 3.99)


Tells us more about your new release?

First of all, it's my first book thick enough to use as a weapon. 

This is a story of love, and faith, and taking on responsibility. It's a story of courage, and fear, and sacrifice. It's a story of adventure, with a bit of danger thrown in. In it, I hope to make you think, but with a proper dose of laughter.

What was the inspiration for the story?

The shower. A bit cliche, but basically, I stepped into a shower one night, about six or seven years ago, and the thought flickered through my head "What if I were to blink and suddenly be standing under a waterfall. And what if I were to be declared a prophesied Waterfall Princess who'll save this strange new land from some great land and then rule it?"

It grew from there.

When do we get to purchase your new book?

The official release date is August 31st, though the kindle version is available for preorder. And today and tomorrow, it's only $2.99!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Review - Tiger's Paw by Kimberly Rogers

I met Kimberly Rogers a while back when a mutual friend recommended I submit my books to her for review. Kimberly runs a great blog about Christian fantasy where she offers thoughtful reviews.

We got to talking via Facebook and discovered we have a lot of similar tastes in fantasy, characters, and writing. As we encouraged each other, she told me about her current WIP about shape shifters. One thing led to another and I eventually ended up designing her cover for her and beta reading her novella. All that said, I am extremely excited that her debut book is out today. If you are a fan of fantasy fiction, I recommend you give it a chance.

What if history didn’t quite play out the way we know it? What would stay the same? What would change? Even in a world where Elves and Humans coexist, there are secrets. Not all the old legends are accurate, but neither are they false. Hidden among the Humans are the Therians, those gifted with the ability to shift into beasts. How long they will remain unseen by Human eyes depends on how well they adhere to their code of life and honor – The Therian Way.

When secrecy is vital to survive among Humans and Elves, the Therian Way offers balance. The Fringe, a militant group of discontented Therians, threaten to expose their race to Mankind. It falls to General Baran to track down and remove the Fringe Nest before time runs out. Who can he trust when the fate of his people lies in the Tiger’s paw?

This Novella Prequel is a Clean New Adult Christian Urban Fantasy.

My Review

Tiger’s Paw is a Christian urban fantasy novella set in a world similar to our own, except it is also populated by shape shifters and elves. Crafting a complex and realistic blending of reality and fantasy, Rogers builds a world that offers plenty of opportunity for more storytelling, exactly what I hope for in an introductory book.

The humans live semi-peacefully with the elves, but are uneasy neighbors with the shape shifters. This uneasiness forces the shifters into a life requiring they hide their true nature. The shifters adhere to a code, the Therian Way, that calls them to live peacefully with their weaker cohabitants, but some are choosing to ignore this code. The rebels are tired of living in secret and are plotting to dominate the other two peoples.

I really enjoyed Rogers’ main characters, Baran and Raina. Baran, a man/tiger shifter, has bit of a grumpy personality, which plays well against Raina’s teasing, taunting banter. I love the interplay between the two, especially Raina’s insistence on calling him TDS (Tall, Dark, and Serious) and likening him to another famous tiger. I liked how Rogers used the characters’ personalities to enhance the plot and the suspense as the story moved forward.

Action, adventure, intrigue and a hint of romance are woven into this exciting opening to a new series. I look forward to reading more stories by Rogers, especially the coming series where she explores this world and the tensions between its inhabitants.