Saturday, June 11, 2022
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
In Blood and Duty Bound features multiple points of view and storylines. Renn, one of the main characters, is the youngest princess in the Morovide royal family and the fourth in line for the throne of Ombratos behind her mother and her three older sisters. She’s overlooked by her mother, the queen, and in love with Dallan, who’s engaged to her oldest sister, Solena. We spend a bit of time seeing Renn’s typical life before the plot kicks in and she’s tested as a princess and as an individual.
Parneo, her twin, is gifted in alchemy, which is the world’s main magic system and based on blood. The Morovides are literally bound to the Ombratos throne via their blood. Healing charms and the like are activated with a drop of blood accompanied by an incantation. Like all the other male twins in his family line, Parneo, because of his talent with alchemy, is prone to the madness that tends to accompany it. This plays a minor part in the story with some major implications.
Getha, my favorite main character, is a royal guard training for the varo, the elite force who protect the members of the royal family. She’s a very straightforward person with tunnel vision toward her goal. It’s always interesting to me when characters like this are forced to pivot when something unexpected demands their attention. Since this is the first book in a series, I’m very much looking forward to how she develops as a character.
Helenia provides the third main point of view and easily the most morally questionable and interesting. While Renn and Getha are youngish and idealistic, Helenia has more experience with life, specifically its disappointments. Dallan’s aunt, she’s from the island nation of Tithen, which has a revolutionary history. Especially intriguing is her relationship with Mayve, her sister-in-law and former wife of the ruler of Tithen.
Which brings me to two of the things I find most effective and refreshing about In Blood and Duty Bound—its female characters and their relationships with each other and with other people. Until we get to a point in the fantasy genre where having a majority female cast is as normal as having a majority male cast, I think it’s worth drawing attention to that. Renn, Getha, and Helenia are all complex people with clear motives, strengths, and flaws, and their relationships shape who they are and affect their actions. The book is at its strongest when Getha and Renn are together. In the interest of not spoiling anything, all I’ll say is that I look forward to seeing where the story takes them.
Like many epic fantasies (including my own!), there’s some pretty intense world-building in the first hundred or so pages. Consequently, I found the book a little slow to start, but I find a lot of books slow to start, so take from that what you will! That said, the world-building pays off, and the intertwining of all the storylines near the end is satisfying.
Ultimately, this has a ton of what I like to see in the genre and some surprises to boot. I’d recommend this for any reader who likes fantasy, especially epic fantasy, and for readers who enjoy books with female main characters. This was one of my favorite reads of the year so far, and I’m very much looking forward to the second book in The Final Queen of Ombratos series.
Saturday, March 5, 2022
This hike was also the first time I tried out bird-watching. I got myself some binoculars and was able to see a handful of birds. A few were definitely robins. I know that much at least. Some were, I think, red-bellied woodpeckers. And there were at least two other types that I can't yet identify, but I hope to gain more bird knowledge and be able to identify more on the fly during my future walks.
My binoculars came with an attachment I can use to set my phone up and take pictures through the binoculars. I haven't quite figured that one out yet! But maybe soon I will. In the meantime, the picture on the right (from Wikipedia) is of a red-bellied woodpecker of the sort I saw.
As for a writing update, I'm hard at work on two projects concurrently. One is the first draft of a mystery novel.You can keep up with my progress on the right side of the page under the Word Counts widget. So far, I have about 35,000 words out of an anticipated 85,000. Mystery is definitely a different beast than fantasy, but I enjoy reading mysteries and I'm enjoying writing this one.
The other project is, of course, Book 3 of The Heartfriends trilogy. I'm revising the first draft into something with more detail and bones and cohesion. As usual, I have no idea how long that process will take! So far, each book of the trilogy has been a completely different experience. But I'm aiming for it to look more like an actual book than just words on pages by the summer, so we'll see how much trouble it gives me!
Saturday, February 12, 2022
Two short stories of mine have been recently released in anthologies. Read more about them below, and click the cover pictures to buy!
Eighteen award-winning, veteran, and emerging authors bring you seventeen unique dragon tales that defy tradition. Winged serpents as large as continents, as well as those tiny enough to perch on the fingertip of a young girl. Dragons who inhabit the Wild West, Victorian London, Brooklyn, and a post-apocalyptic Earth. Scaly beasts who fight in the boxing ring, celebrate Christmas, and conquer the vast void of outer space. There are rockstars who meddle with dragon magic, clever and conniving shapeshifters, and powerfully exotic hybrids. Science fiction, urban fantasy, mystery, western, epic fantasy, YA fantasy...no matter the setting or the genre--here be dragons!
My story is called "Witherwillow." In a city divided between humans and dragonfolk, P.I. Iris Kane takes a simple case and ends up with more than she bargained for.
They executed Alvard Lestrange for treason.
A wielder of Death Magic.
This is the story of his victims, trapped in mundane objects for three centuries.
This is the story of the lives they will, unwittingly or maliciously, destroy.
12 authors. 12 stories. 12 souls, all caught in Lestrange's web.
My story is called "The Lengths We Go" and follows a warrior-for-hire whose latest job tests her very integrity.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
It's release day for Reign: A Dark Fantasy Anthology, a collection of 500-word stories. Mine is called "Soldier and Servant." It's available in e-book and as a paperback on Amazon. Click here or the picture to get a copy!
Saturday, June 5, 2021
Writing life got busy, but I'm finally back with annotations for chapters 6-10 of The Dying of the Golden Day!