“Sacrifice” Playlist – Just for Fun

First off, I have been extremely pleased with the reception of Sacrifice. Sales of both the sequel and the first book have been way better than ever, and folks seem to be enjoying it. 🙂 It is absolutely thrilling to have the story out in the hands of readers. Go-go 21st century freedom of information!

Seriously, it’s awesome. I’m downright stoked.

As with the previous novel, I’m doing a brief post about the music which inspired Sacrifice. I will never cease to marvel at the interconnectedness of creative people – painters inspired by writers, musicians inspired by story, writers inspired by music – it’s a phenomenon of cosmic proportions, if you ask me. We all have so much to share with one another, and that is the beauty of all that is art.

For me, no words reach the page without music. I cannot write in silence. Some of my work has been inspired directly by songs – Fathers and Sons came to me while listening to Say When by The Fray (specifically the lyrics, “you’re coming to but you’re slow in waking/you start to shake/you still haven’t spoken, what happened?” “maybe god can be on both sides of a gun,” and “my own two hands will comfort you tonight/say when/my own two arms will carry you tonight”). I can’t tell you how powerfully I’ve felt those lyrics through Garren’s story.

Thus I give you the following songs that inspired Sacrifice (among others I listened to along the way). As I pulled them from my playlist I realized that I don’t listen to many female artists. Huh.

End Chapters (most characters)

You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid by The Offspring

Teveres Songs

Through Glass by Stone Sour

What I’ve Done by Linkin Park

This is Gospel by Panic! At the Disco

Les Songs

Get Out Alive by Three Days Grace

Oh Glory by Panic! At the Disco

Elden Songs

Animal I Have Become by Three Days Grace

Pain by Three Days Grace

Aia Songs

Take Me to Church by Hozier

How You Remind Me cover by Avril Lavigne

All In by Lifehouse

COVER REVEAL: “Forsaken Lands II – Sacrifice”

As I sit here with my soup (which I highly recommend, by the way – Zoup is awesome if you have one nearby) I am about to embark on a several-hours-long endeavor to complete editing on the digital version of Sacrifice. My goal: publishing the sequel by the 5th of November.

I’m not sure I’ll meet that measure, but nonetheless, I am going to make the effort. Before I lock myself into the formatting/editing zen state, I want to show off the cover. Without further adieu I give you… Forsaken Lands II: Sacrifice. Just to make it interesting, I’m willing to give away a copy to anyone who can correctly identify the male on the cover in the comments. 🙂


Forsaken Lands II: Sacrifice

Trust is everything.

The world lies in pieces in the aftermath of Nivenea’s Fall. Captured and held against their will, Teveres and Aia’s only hope is that their friends may have survived a deadly battle, while Les, the lowly Baron of Pelle, finds himself thrown in with a ragtag militia on the losing side of a war. Separated from all they once knew, the Deldri must learn to trust not only their former enemies, but also themselves…or risk the destruction of their nation.


I would also like to note that I am flattered and overjoyed that Forsaken Lands I: Tragedy is officially a finalist for the Speculative Fiction Cygnus Awards. I can think of few things more motivating than that!

Alright then. Back to the word mines. I shall return with news in the coming days, one way or another.

Kickstarting Diversity in Fiction: An Interview with S.E. Doster

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to connect with fellow fantasy author S.E. Doster, writer of The Alliance Series. Her first book, The Alliance: Bloodlines, tells the supernaturally-charged story of unlikely heroes and their fight to take back their city. Doster is now working on the sequel, Drakon, while she is running a Kickstarter campaign to support her upcoming Sacrifice novel. She, like myself, is a strong supporter of character diversity in genre fiction, and took the time to answer a few questions about the topic and her latest work.

Tell me about Sacrifice and your Kickstarter. What inspired you to go the Kickstarter route?

Traditional publishing can be a hard industry to break into, but trying to find a home for such a diverse novel proves to be even harder. I originally intended my first Kickstarter to be one of my comic book projects, but the passionate enthusiasm of my beta readers convinced me to try Sacrifice first. I self-published the Bloodlines novel with a meager budget and the help of friends, but the overall quality of the product suffered. I wanted to give Sacrifice professional editing, formatting and cover design, but each of those come with such costly fees.

Sacrifice is an Urban Fantasy thriller that involves meta-humans and supernatural creatures. The story includes the romance of a lesbian couple, but that factor doesn’t define the story. There are gay and straight characters of all races, but it’s shown in a community that already accepts equality.


Diversity in literature… what are your thoughts on its importance?

I think it’s very important that we work to increase the diversity in literature. There are so many groups of kids that don’t get to see main characters like them. It sends the wrong message when bookshelves are filled with books that contain mostly straight, white male protagonists. Characters of color or even queer characters seem to fill the much smaller roles in novels, but how does that even make sense? Mainstream literature shouldn’t be filled with primarily straight white characters because the world is not made up solely of straight white people. I have a very diverse group of friends of all races both gay and straight, so I decided to write a book that reflects real life for me.

Over the last few years we have seen a small increase in diversity on television, but the publishing industry seems stubborn to accept the change. This is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken, or we’ll continue to give future generations literature that does not reflect real life or teach equality.


How do you think independent authors impact diversity in literature?

Indie authors have the ability to be their own boss, and choose to include diversity that maybe wouldn’t be accepted with a traditional publisher. They can write without fear of an editor demanding changes to avoid too much risk. I’ve seen many indie authors embracing diversity, some are writers like me that don’t want to wait for publishers to wake up and smell the diversity (pun intended) so they create the stories they want to read.

The one negative impact I see with indie authors is the percentage that lacks the polish of a traditionally published novel. I want to read LGBT fantasy novels, but I’m usually discouraged when I search Amazon or Goodreads for LGBTQ or lesbian fiction. I usually locate novels with poor reviews and covers, which makes me incredibly sad. The stories may actually be wonderful on the inside, but poor editing, formatting and covers can still be a detriment to sales and reviews.

I know how tough self-publishing can be when you’re paying out of pocket, and I understand why some indie authors settle on quality, but this is why the Kickstarter was important for Sacrifice. We need more quality diverse novels if we hope to see them hit the shelves of our favorite book store.


What can readers do to help promote diversity? What can writers do?

Readers can send letters to publishers to demand for more diversity, and support books that are diverse. There are some campaigns right now that promote diversity, and one of them focuses on children’s literature. You can find their site here: http://weneeddiversebooks.org/ This group offers great suggestions for diverse YA and children’s books.

Writers should make a conscious effort to bring diversity into their own stories, as well as supporting fellow writers who do the same.


How can we help with the Kickstarter, and when do you expect Sacrifice to come out?

Every little bit helps with crowdfunding. Like and share the Kickstarter post on social media. Tell your friends and family why diversity is important, and donate to the campaign if you can! Every single dollar helps. If every single person who saw my Kickstarter could donate just one dollar, (which is less than the price of one soda or cup of coffee) and asked/shared with their friends, we could make self-publishing Sacrifice a reality.

The Kickstarter launched on September 4th, and still needs your help to be successful!

Many thanks to S.E. Doster for participating in the interview! I for one am very happy to support her cause for all the reasons she’s given. As I’ve said before, media is an incredible vehicle for self-discovery and change; by promoting diversity in our entertainment we expand our own ideas of who we are and what we can be. Please visit the link above to donate and/or share her message.

Quick Post – A Preview of the Much-Anticipated Novella

Since this clip was posted on social media, I wanted to additionally toss it up here on the blog – a little taste of Broken.


I heard my father’s footsteps coming towards me, and another wave came over me. I shivered and tried to push it away, tried to straighten up. He was the last person who I wanted to see me like this, not that it would be the first time.

“You look terrible.” That tone was a tone he used with prisoners, sometimes. It wasn’t sympathetic, even though it seemed like the words could have been presented that way. He was judging me right then.

I stared him right in the face. We never looked much alike, me and Da. He kept his hair real short, out of his eyes, and always looked neat and clean. Since I got old enough to have a line of stubble I’ve always had it, where he never had any sign of a beard. He always had a tight lip that seemed to be frowning, which I guess made sense since he dealt with Kaldari and criminals all day. We had the same skin, though – olive colored and easy to tan.

If he’d been anyone else I might have come up with some snide remark or a twist of sarcasm. Instead I just stood and shivered, hoping that whatever other nothing I had in me would stay down. My throat burned.

“You have nothing to say for yourself?” the only change was his eyebrows creasing together, but I knew what that meant. My father didn’t show anger like I did. He could be furious at a person, and all he’d do is twitch. Crease of the eyebrows, well, I should be glad he didn’t have any kelspar on hand, at least none that I could see. “Where do you even find the-” he paused, “never mind, I don’t want to know. Not today.”

Where do you even find the coin? – that’s what he wanted to ask. He’d been holding that question back for a couple months at least. What I wanted to point out was that he should have figured it out by now, being an officer and all. With my abilities I could pickpocket people without even using my hands, which makes it pretty easy. I bartered a lot, too, and I wasn’t so bad at hustling cards. He would have known all that if he knew me at all.

All my thoughts didn’t translate into words. I didn’t have anything to say to him and never had. Ever since I could remember me and Da just never got each other. He was so disciplined, and me, it was like I was born in the wrong family. I worked my throat on a swallow, wishing I had water to drink. I was freezing, my chest hurt to breathe, and gods but I just wanted to lie back down, preferably on a mattress this time.

I started walking inside like he wouldn’t follow, even though I knew he would. He was at my back, not missing a beat. I swung through the never-too-quiet door and made a line for the bedroom that I shared with Keller. My mother looked up from the kitchen table, but didn’t seem interested in stalking me like he did.

“We’re not done here,” Da growled, his composure slipping. He was getting really mad now, which was not a good sign. Usually he just let me go at this point. “Where do you think you’re going to hide?”

I brushed past the red-and-gold tapestry that covered up our room, and my father followed with me. I carried on like he was invisible, like maybe if I pretended he wasn’t there hard enough he would disappear.


The contest for early release copies of Broken is up and running (you can enter here) and final little editing and formatting touches are being added for the 6/26 release. I have a family wedding to go to in another state this weekend and 8,000 more words to write in Forsaken Lands 2 before I start working as an actual physician on July 23rd (this alone is so ridiculous that I can’t even begin to think about it)… so yes, it’s a busy time. Unfortunately while I believe I will make the wordcount goal in FL2 I do not believe it will be finished at the same length as Tragedy. Indeed, I believe it will be longer.

Much longer.

I can’t wait to finally get this sequel draft finished. While it may not be done by the 23rd, getting it up to 90k will be a solid start, and hopefully it won’t be too much longer before it’s done. Look for a preview of the new novel at the end of Broken.

Alright, that’s it for my updates. Write on!

Obligatory Year-in-Review Post

I hope that all of you made it through the holidays intact and are had a safe, happy new year. I’ve been busy the couple weeks with family and last-minute vacations before work begins again. That work thing just will not go away.

It’s been a very interesting year, as you may have noticed. I’ve been job searching all over the country in my non-writing life, published both Tragedy and Fathers and Sons, and have already started working on the sequel to Tragedy. Publishing has been a lifelong dream of mine, and while I haven’t been as wildly successful as some other authors, it’s enough that I’m happy to continue. I’ve met the goal of distributing my work to people I don’t know, and fortunately I’ve gotten some good responses.

It’s not much, but it’s enough for me.

The e-publishing game is tougher than many people will make it out to be. With so many borderline publications out there in the indie author world, very few readers specifically seek out indie writers – and of course, most indie writers to not have spare cash to sink into advertising. We get most of our traction through blogs, social networks, offering free stuff, and just generally trying to prove that we’re good enough to warrant the “risk” of a few bucks. Me, I don’t have a vast network of people to automatically like/share/endorse my work, so I’m making slow, gradual gains by virtue of the work itself. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme in any sense of the word, and it’s important to keep that in mind if you’re thinking about going the indie route.

Despite the drawbacks, I couldn’t be happier that I live in a time when this method of delivery is available. Ten or fifteen years ago I would have kept submitting to publishers, suffering rejections, and maybe never published anything at all. It may be arrogance on my part to assume that readers should look at my stuff despite a lack of interest from traditional publishers, but honestly, I just want the subject matter out there. I’m not the best writer to grace the earth, but I do think I can run up against some of the traditionally published authors on the shelves. My stories are stories worth telling, at least to me, and apparently to some other people in the world, too. Dan Carlin posted a pretty nice video to his homepage about “new media” and how it gives a voice to people who never had a way to connect with an audience before – he speaks from the perspective of a podcaster, but I think it’s relevant for indie authors as well. We are one part of the new media revolution, relatively uncensored by the former great gatekeepers (i.e., publishers). It is a great time to be a creative person.

What’s the point of this post? I suppose it doesn’t have much of one. It’s not very long for a year-in-review post, but I suppose it will have to count. I don’t really do new year’s resolutions (seeing as anything labeled “new year’s” is swiftly forgotten about within the first two weeks of January), but I do have some general goals. As I move on to making some actual money here in the future, I would like to endeavor to buy more things from local or independent producers, be it food, music, jewelry, or books. There are incredibly talented people all over the place with wonderful gifts to share – I think that supporting them with whatever extra dollars I have is simply good karma.

I’ll keep you all updated going forward. I’m 25,500 words into Suffering and cannot wait to get through this first draft. Have an absolutely wonderful 2014, readers and writers! I’ll leave you with a little taste of what I’ve been working on lately.

    “I told him not to do it.” Les shook his head, “I told him that she’s a snake, and he won’t listen.”
“She who?”
“Drei,” he rasped.
The sound of the name instantly drew Adria’s brow together. Drei was the Commander of the Kaldari Coalition of Tribes, a woman who threatened to kill as many people as were necessary to “take back” Elseth’s Lands. A warrior race from the south, the Kaldari lived brutal lives which were reflected in their religion and their treatment of others.
“If this is a joke you should know that you’re about to walk away with a black eye. It’s not funny.”
“No joke. As Adreth said, this isn’t a government and it’s certainly not a democracy. He’ll do what he pleases, and he thinks this is a good idea.” Les pulled the cig from his lips to steal a swig from Adria’s drink and coughed. “Skies above I hate ale.”
Adria snatched the mug out of his hands and leaned forward, lowering her voice. “And he made this decision tonight?”
“Skies no, he made the deal a while ago. She’s on her way here tonight.”
“Here?” Adria seethed. She was on her feet without meaning to be, ready to turn and walk up the stairs to strangle her goddamned twin.
Les grabbed her by the arm tightly. “Rendezvous was in Saphena. The detail left to pick her up an hour ago. They’ll be here any minute.”
She wrenched out of his hold easily. As much as Les had grown as a fighter, she was still a fair twice as strong as him. The man couldn’t easily make up for a lifetime of privilege. “I don’t need very long, trust me.”
When she looked up she was too late. Adreth was on the catwalk overlooking the hall, staring down at her. His large, callused hands were gripping the banister, and did not move when she made a direct and deliberate line up the stairs to him. Adreth’s expression remained tight and strong, the way it always was when he had made up his mind. Adria fisted both hands by her sides when she approached. Les sat and watched apprehensively, but knew better than to follow.
“We need to talk alone,” she said as calmly as she could muster.
“Not the time, Adria,” Adreth replied.
“I don’t think you catch my meaning. We need to talk alone or I’m going to bring your business out real public.”
“You spoke with Les.”
“Damn right I did. He thinks you’re half cracked, and so do I.”
He spoke slowly, gaze fixed on the men and women socializing in the hall below. “You of all people have to know how hard it was for me to make this call. I didn’t make it lightly. We’re losing this war, Adria. We will never be able to defeat the Celet with this strategy.”
“You told me that if we found the engineers-”
“It’s more than firepower.” This time he turned to look at her, fierce brown eyes stone cold, surrounded by his bold features. They had similar faces, Adria and Adreth, but Adreth always had an intangible edge in him that Adria could never match. “We don’t have enough trained men and women to keep this going. Drei’s people are harder than us. They’ve lived like no one in Elseth’s Land could imagine, and because of that they have something we don’t.”
“And what is that?”
“The dedication to sacrifice everything for what they want.”

The novel release, part 163: It’s coming… this week. No, seriously, I mean it!

Ever since I finished it I just like to look at it. There’s a table of contents (all linked and prettified, which is not an easy feat, my friends), a dedication page, prologue, chapters, epilogue, afterword… believe it or not, it looks like a real novel.

And let me tell you, that’s more than a little scary. This thing is going to be out on the internets (theoretically) by the end of the week with my name on it, an open invitation for the world to look on, wonder, criticize, and maybe (hopefully) enjoy. I don’t even know what to do with myself. I have a list of links to blogs I would like to request to do interview on, and people who I would like to have review the book. The ebook is going to come out first, since of course that’s the easiest format to put together. I’m hoping that within a month or two there will be a print copy out there, if only because it’s a childhood dream of mine to hold a book in my hands which I wrote.

Yeah, it’s vanity, but I would be lying to you if I told you otherwise. There are a lot of reasons I write – a lot of decent, noble reasons. That’s kind of secondary to my baser motivations at this stage in the process, my inner child who is screaming ‘HEY LOOK AT WHAT I MADE.’ I have a feeling that there’s a little of that in any artist who disseminates their work.

I have made a few changes to this blog in preparation for the launch. There is now a “For Authors” section on some useful self-publishing resources (really, writing resources in general – I’m sure they’d be useful for those going the traditional route too). There is also an appendix and a pronunciation guide, to be used as a companion to Tragedy. The new menu of pages is my little attempt at being more professional… cause if I don’t take me seriously, I have no reason to expect you to do so. Still struggling with that part, if you haven’t noticed.

If you have questions about the process – uploading, editing, formatting, what have you – please feel free to post them! I’ll be in touch later this week, of that you can be sure. 😉