Category Archives: Ilauris

Minor Details and Whatnot

I noticed today that a bunch of book cover images on the site were broken. I’ve fixed everything from my past six months or so of posting, plus the My Books page. If you notice a missing image…I don’t really have time to fix *all* my posts. Also, my seasonal allergies are in full swing, making this stuff even more fun than ever.

If you’re waiting for The Greatest Sin book 5, it’s coming. Erik and I are hoping for a late June release so I can take it to GEARCon and shows thereafter. At worst, it’ll be mid-July, in time for Gencon. With luck, book 6 will be out in the spring next year instead of the summer.

Another Darkside Seattle is also coming, also slated for late June. Whoops. Maybe I can get this one out early in the month instead of late? We’ll see. The third installment will hopefully be a September release, but I’m not holding my breath. I suspect these will be a one-per-year thing that wriggles around between longer books.

Spirit Knights book 5 is in early stages. Which means I’ve got a partial outline and just need to clear other stuff (see the previous two notes) before I can get into it. Unlike the previous 3 books, this one will take a bit longer. Sorry! No three releases for the series in a year again. I’m hoping for an October release, but it may slide to December or January depending upon how other things go.

I’m editing a not-quite-open-submissions-pool anthology, which is pretty cool. It’s in copyediting and will be released at Orycon in Portland this November. No stories from me in it, so this is real, professional stuff.

This year’s Writerpunk anthology is coming next month, which is exciting, and not just because I have a story in it! What We’ve Unlearned: English Class Goes Punk includes my cyberpunk take on Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Links and art coming soon! I’m excited! Really!

After working on a short story for something else, I’m now super-excited to dive into the next Ilauris novel. I have no idea when I’ll have time for that, but I’m ready to rawr on it.

And, because this all isn’t ambitious enough, I’ve returned to fussing with that super-secret project I mentioned some time ago. It’ll happen. It will. I don’t want to talk about Chowndie, but this other one is really going to happen.

Happy late April!

Cover Reveal: 3 At Once

DamselECoverThis brilliant new cover for one of my older books comes courtesy of Kirbi Fagan. She did a fantastic job, and I’m pleased to have been able to find a female illustrator for this project.

Despite this not being quite her usual milieu, she did a phenomenal job and I couldn’t be happier.

I’ll have copies with both covers for a little while. Until I run out, I’ll be offering the old ones at a discount. There’s nothing truly wrong with those books, they’ve just got the old cover. If you see me at an event and want the old cover version, ask and I’ll pull one out of the secret stash under the table.

DragonsInPieces

My very first book, Dragons In Pieces, is also getting a facelift. As with Damsel In Distress, the previous cover art was nice, but not right for the book. This one is much more appropriate for its genre. It’s also cool.

Keith Draws handled this one, and he’s also working on Chains and Flight, so more reveals will come soon! I still have copies of the old version of this one too.

SK2ECoverAnd finally, the new book! Backyard Dragons is scheduled for release on March 18th. It’s the sequel to Girls Can’t Be Knights, my young adult urban fantasy story about Claire, the first ever girl to become a Spirit Knight in its two-thousand-year-plus history. Justin, her mentor, is having a rough day. Claire’s isn’t so hot either. But, dragons!

This fun cover was designed by the talented Lia Rees, someone I met through Writerpunk Press.

2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year full of even more changes, appearances, and books than 2017! I’m thrilled to be buckling down for the last edits on Backyard Dragons this week and next, then diving into the fourth book of The Greatest Sin, which will hopefully be out in time to take to GenCon. With luck, the third Spirit Knights book, Ethereal Entanglements, will be hot on its heels.

@OrcaCon bound!

Today, we venture north to the hinterlands known as Everett to stalk wild gamers in their natural habitat: the gaming convention. This weekend, I’ll be working OrcaCon, a first-year convention taking place at the Holiday Inn Downtown on Pine St. Stop by the Clockwork Dragon table in the vendor room to say hi. As a value-added bonus, I’ll be presenting a panel on Self-Publishing 101 with my good friend and partner in book crimes, Jeffrey Cook at 8pm tonight (Friday).

OrcaCon!

I’m not sure what orcas have to do with gaming, but that’s not even close to the weirdest thing I’ve seen in an RPG.

DIDCoverIn other news, Damsel In Distress is getting a cover makeover. While I like the book’s cover very much, and so do many other people, it’s been made clear to me that the cover doesn’t suit the story. This is a really big problem for a book. If you like the current cover, it’ll only remain available for a limited time. When the new one is ready, I’m going to switch right away and not look back.

Should anyone be interested in the art itself, I still have some promotional postcards of the image I’m happy to offer to anyone who wants one. If you see me at a con, ask about them. If you want one mailed to you, I’ll need to ask for a dollar (through Paypal) to cover the postage and envelope. Contact me via my Facebook page or directly through my email address to arrange that.

Joan of Arc Meets Arabian Nights #99cent #ebook

This is Al-Kabar. It’s a story about dealing with tragedy, shouldering burdens, and learning who you are. Fakhira is a simple woman with simple wants and needs. She expects her life to be the same as her older sister’s and the same as her mother’s. Though their marriages aren’t strictly by choice, they manage to make their relationships with their husbands work. They raise children. They laugh and cook and manage their men.

Except that’s not how Fakhira’s story goes. One fell night, the whims of powerful men strip her life to nothing. She survives the attack, but can she survive what the Fires and the Water demand of her? Can she rise above the pain of loss to find purpose, a calling, and justice, or will she sink into despair and seek only revenge?

Al-Kabar is now available in ebook and print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. For a limited time, the ebook is only 99 cents.

Ye Olde To-Do List #amwriting #amediting

I finally finished the first draft of my next book this past weekend, titled Al-Kabar. This is the second novel of Ilauris, though it doesn’t follow Damsel In Distress as a sequel. This book is intended to stand on its own, and only shares the primary element of that previous book: it’s about a woman who has to learn how to rescue herself. Now it’s time to fix all the stuff I already know is wrong with it, then shuffle it off to some beta readers while I dive into my other projects for the remainder of the year.

Here’s my schedule for the next few months:

6/20: South Bay Grange Strawberry Festival, Olympia, WA
6/27: Destination Staycation at the AFK Elixirs & Eatery in Renton, WA
7/3-5: GearCon in Portland, OR
7/11: Guest of Jacobsen’s Books at the Farmer’s Market in Hillsboro, OR
7/15-26: RAGBRAI!
7/30-8/2: GenCon in Indianapolis, IN
8/19-23: WorldCon in Spokane, WA
9/?: Release Al-Kabar
9/19-20: Rose City Comic Con in Portland, OR
9/25-7: Steamposium in Seattle, WA

As you can see, I’ll be a tiny bit busy this summer, especially on the weekends. My next project after Al-Kabar is an as yet untitled collaboration with singer/songwriter Ilana Harkavy. It’s a Young Adult title about self-image inspired by her song Lipstick Liars. At the same time, I’ll be working with Erik this summer and fall on the fourth book of The Greatest Sin, also as yet untitled.

Looking beyond that to November, I’m expecting to walk away from NaNoWriMo with first drafts for the sequel to Girls Can’t Be Knights, already titled Backyard Dragons, and the next Ilauris book, working title Bronwyn. Watch for a 3-in-1-plus-new-material to come soon (no idea when) for Bobby and the gang as I work feverishly to finish the full revamp of the Maze Beset trilogy so I can move on to Bobby’s new adventures without looking over my shoulder anymore at shoulda-woulda-coulda for the original trilogy.

Another new project is coming too! This one isn’t about books as much as it’s about dragons. Come see me in person to be the first to find out about this new venture I’ve been working on. I’ll talk more about that here when the heat and madness has passed.

Here’s to a great summer, folks. May it be every bit as awesome as we all know we deserve. Oh, and by the way, in case you somehow missed it, Girls Can’t Be Knights releases on Friday.

P.S. Should you happen to expect to be in a town while Ragbrai is passing through it, let me know! I won’t have copies of any of my books while on the ride, but I’ll be happy to stop and chat for a few. And if you’re also riding Ragbrai, I’d be delighted to meet with you in an overnight town.

Halflings and Mischief are Peas and Carrots

“What a ridiculous thing to do with panties.” Owen leaned against the wooden fence keeping the sheep from wandering and watched his cousins struggle with a ladder.

His little sister, Primrose, arched an eyebrow and planted her fists on her hips in an uncanny echo of their mother. “You expect me to believe you didn’t do that?”

“Pfft. What for? Stringing them up there serves no purpose other than embarrassing Gillie for wearing red lace panties under her sensible skirts. I’m a gentleman, and this juvenile behavior is beneath me.”

“Right.” Primrose snorted. “You’d rather wrap them up to avoid having to buy her a Naming Day present.”

“Absolutely.” Owen flashed his most charming smile. “Besides, if I was going to steal her underwear, I’d take the blue ones. They’re much prettier.”

She gasped and covered her mouth. “You’ve seen her other undies?”

Aware he’d stepped in something, Owen’s smile faltered. “I’ve, ah, seen Jack out with the laundry.”

“You liar. I’m telling Mom.” Before he could grab her, Primrose hiked up her skirts and sprinted away.

“Crap.” By nightfall, he’d be Gillie’s bed boy. Everyone would think he’d strung up her undies, and Matron Marta would string him up. Launching into action, he sprinted around the nearby house and dove into the cellar. He darted past the roots, cheeses, and smoked meats of Gillie’s household and resisted the urge to grab a snack. In the back, he nabbed a crate and dragged it to a precise spot.

The crate allowed him to reach the five foot ceiling. More importantly, it allowed him to reach the hidden depression in the wood that caused the trapdoor to click open. He listened carefully, heard nothing, and let it fall open. Pushing aside the rug covering the hole, he grabbed the sides and jumped to haul himself up into Gillie’s bedroom.

On this side, the trap door had a recessed handle he used to pull it back up and lock it into place. He replaced the rug and tiptoed to the closed door. Beyond it, he heard Gillie’s high-pitched voice railing about the state of her underwear. Another voice, probably belonging to one of her fathers, tried to calm her down. Owen caught something about a “joke.”

Angry thumps thundered to the door. As Owen jumped to safety, the door caught him and threw him against the wall with a fresh bruise in his gut from the knob. His head hit hard enough to make him see stars.

“Owen,” Gillie growled. “I knew it.” She drew in a breath he thought she might use to call for her father.

“No,” he grunted. “Wait. Wasn’t me. I swear.” Rubbing his head, he tasted bile.

“Sure. I believe you.” She slammed the door shut and grabbed the front of his shirt.

The room spun. “Ugh, please don’t. I’m going to throw up.”

Shoving him to the floor, she crossed her arms and glared at him. “I ought to tell my mother about you.”

He rolled to lie flat on his back and squeezed his eyes shut, hoping it would make the nausea pass. “But you won’t, because you love me.”

Her voice softened. “Why did you do it?”

“I didn’t. I swear. Even if no one else believes me, you have to.”

She sighed, and he thought it meant she’d given up on being mad at him. “If it wasn’t you, then who was it?”

“I don’t know, but I can find out. You know I can.” He cracked an eye open and saw she’d moved to her small window. Sunshine streaming in hurt to look at, so he shut his eyes again.

Snapping the curtains shut, she returned to crouch beside him. “You’re such an idiot, Owen.”

“Nonsense. I’m charming and clever. That’s why you love me.”

“I got you pretty good, huh?” Her cool hand laid on his forehead, pressing with enough pressure to make his pain recede.

He cracked an eye open again and found her smiling down at him. “Took me by surprise.”

She chuckled. “Gotta work on those reflexes.” Taking a deep breath, she let her tiny thread of magic loose to work on his injuries.

He sighed again, this time from the easing of his belly. “But then you won’t get any opportunities to take care of me.”

“I have no doubt you’ll get into plenty of trouble trying to clear your name of this hideous offense. When my mom finds out, she’ll think it was you. So you shouldn’t be found here today.” She leaned in and kissed him. “Which means you should come back late tonight.”

He grinned. “Don’t wait up. I’ll wake you. With the underpants of the offender in hand so you can humiliate him properly.” Hugging her close, he reveled in her scent, an earthy mix of sage and potatoes. “You should let me marry you. Then we won’t have to sneak around anymore.”

She stuck out her tongue and pushed him away. “I’m not ready to start my own homestead yet.”

“Bah.” Scrambling to the trap door, he flashed a wide grin. “We can just mooch off your mom’s for a while.”

Rolling her eyes, she waved to shoo him off. “Get going before my father decides to tell my mom what he can obviously overhear.”

Owen heard a cough from the other side of the door, followed by feet shuffling away. “I barely touched her,” he called out. Quieter, he added, “This time.”

“Go already!”

No Honor Off the Pitch #flashfic

Looking over the competition, Alex felt confident this joust would go well. Last year, he lost to Count Estvern’s son by judge decision. This year, Brendan had been sent into the King’s Cavalry, the same place Alex would go after his eighteenth birthday in three more months. It left him as the one with the most to gain from a win and the most to lose without one.

“Boy, just make sure to–”

“I know how to joust, Father.” Alex stifled down a roll of his eyes so the Baron wouldn’t see it. He patted the neck of his horse, a steady beast he’d trained himself. “Is Mother here?”

The Baron of Killendy spat on the churned dirt, missing his polished black boot by an inch. “She’s off husband-hunting for your sisters.”

And, Alex suspected, looking out for wife material for him. His lip curled at the idea of scouting eight-year-old girls to find the one with the right breeding to be suitable for him in another decade. He’d marry whoever she told him to, of course, but he didn’t have to be happy about it. “Ah. I suppose this isn’t terribly important from her point of view.”

“Of course not. She’s a woman and can’t be trusted to understand what’s important.” The Baron rolled his eyes and turned away. “Don’t embarrass me.” With that rousing endorsement, he walked away to take his place in the box reserved for the nobility. His finery allowed him to claim the seat beside the Duke of Northlund and below the Duke of Cadogawr. Poorer nobles had to sit on the other end.

Alex noticed a woman with a young girl clinging to her red velvet dress as she sized him up. He nodded and pushed his visor down to avoid letting her see his revulsion at her obvious intention to catch his eye for her daughter. The woman leaned over and pointed at him. The girl nodded and smiled at him. Because he knew his part to play, Alex lifted a hand and waved to her.

Turning his horse away, he led the parade circuit of the pitch. He waved to the crowd, as was expected of him, and stopped to the side of the King’s booth. There, he waited while the rest of the jousters lined up. Beside him, the son of the Count of Endwyfr held the reins of his black stallion tight while it stamped and shook its head.

Alex’s chestnut mare stood rock steady for him. He had a thought to point out that the stallion wanted more lead, but if the boy didn’t know better, that would reflect on the Count. The Baron would enjoy taunting him for it.

“On the north end, Alexander of Killendy!” The King’s Seneschal, an aging jester in King Brannon’s green and black, boomed his announcement out, sending the crowd into an anticipatory hush.

Alex urged his mare forward and waved to the crowd. As he snapped her reins, his steward hurried to the north side of the pitch with his lances and shield. He wondered why they chose to send him out first, since they had to know he’d win today. The best usually waited until last.

“On the south end, Kevin of Orilwyn!”

The boy who wrestled his horse to the opposite end of the pitch, the son of a Count, made Alex’s blood boil. He and his father both had been insulted by this first match against a fourteen-year-old with no experience. Alex scanned the box and saw his father reach the same conclusion. To his surprise, the Count of Orilwyn had gone pale, suggesting the King chose to use Alex to punish Orilwyn for some reason. Mother would know why–she kept up on all the gossip.

“Don’t kill him,” Edward suggested as he handed Alex his shield and lance.

“It’ll be hard to avoid, but I’ll do my best.” Alex hefted his lance and watched Kevin fumbling with his own. He’d meant his response in jest, but as he noted how poorly the boy held his shield, he genuinely feared Kevin could be killed in this contest designed to entertain the commoners and designate the pecking order among the noble sons.

“Riders to your marks!”

Alex’s mare snorted. He lowered his lance across her neck and braced his shield. When the Seneschal blew his horn, the mare launched into a gallop without needing to be spurred. Kevin’s horse fought him and only lurched in the correct direction for two steps before Alex’s lance slammed into Kevin’s shield with a thunderous crack and knocked him ten feet back to land in the soft dirt. His head clanged against the ground and the boy lay still.

The mare whinnied and pranced for the roar of the crowd. Alex pushed his visor up to smile and wave, and noticed his father taking the opportunity to shout angrily at the Duke of Cadogawr. At the other end, the Count of Orilwyn jumped to his feet and gripped the railing with white knuckles.

Kevin’s steward reached the boy and pulled the shield off his arm. He struggled with the boy’s helm, prompting Alex to urge his mare to their side. “Is he breathing?”

“I can’t tell, m’Lord.” The steward fumbled with the helm still.

Alex tossed his shield and broken lance and swung off the mare. Taking a knee beside the boy, he shooed the steward’s hands away and gripped the helm. “Have you never squired a joust before?”

“No, m’Lord.” The steward’s face turned pink. “It’s our first match ever.”

Yanking the helm off, Alex flung it aside and patted the boy’s cheek with his gauntleted hand. “He should have declined the invitation until he could run in a smaller match.”

“I don’t think the Count had the option, m’Lord.”

That news raised one of Alex’s eyebrows. He’d never heard of such a restriction before. Standing, he raised a hand for quiet. “He needs a Healer, Your Majesty.”

King Brannon waved a bony hand to allow the intervention. As his hand fell back into his lap, he met Alex’s gaze and the old man’s mouth quirked into a cruel smirk for half a second.

The expression cemented the suspicion he’d been used as a tool to shame Orilwyn. That thought left a sour taste in Alex’s mouth. His steward handed him the reins for his horse and he turned away, content to let others handle the boy. Nothing else would consume him half so much for the rest of the day, though, as discovering why Kevin had to be humiliated and why he’d been chosen for the task.