Saturday, June 22, 2019

Another book done

Well, it's done. IN DARKNESS, LIGHT is complete at around 42,000 words, the longest of the Forgotten Worlds series so far. It wasn't intended to be, but that's how it is now, in the second draft. The first draft was actually around 39,000 words, but in the first round of editing, I did some minor rewrites throughout and added a short last chapter. That short last chapter didn't add as much as the rewrites, however.

The timing on finishing first round edits on #4 was perfect, right about the same time that #2 was released. THE RULE OF YONDER was released two days ago. Now, you can read #1 and #2. And if you can't wait for September for #3, there are plenty of books in the Starfire Angels series as a whole to keep you busy until then:

Dark Angel Chronicles (young adult SF):
Starfire Angels (the book that started the whole series)
Broken Wings
Crystal Tomb
Origins of Dark Angel
Forever Dark

When Angels Cry (SF novella)

Revelations (SF, transition to using pen name M.A. Nilles):
Deception (novelette)
Shards (novella)

Beyond Starfire Angels (SF):
The Lereni Trade (novella)

Forgotten Worlds (space opera SF):
A New Beginning
The Rule of Yonder
Vault of the Celestials (coming September 12, 2019)
In Darkness, Light (coming winter 2019)
(much more to come!)

I've come to realize that half of my stories--or maybe even more than half already--fall under the Starfire Angels umbrella series. I enjoy it and keep finding new directions to take it. Forgotten Worlds is just the latest and so much fun! It's all been fun, though, which is why I keep coming back to my Starfire-verse.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Amazon ebook giveaway - limited time!

One more post today, then I'm done, probably for the week:

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: A New Beginning (Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds Book 1) (Kindle Edition). 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Jun 22, 2019 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules

Vault of the Celestials now available for pre-order

Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds #3 is now available for pre-order everywhere that it is available.

Returning to Ethal wasn't what Nik wanted. His leaving wasn't on the best of terms—he defied his family and abandoned his responsibilities. But he has sworn to help Nya complete her mission. Unfortunately, confronting his past is only the beginning of their troubles; Nya's life may be in danger on Ethal.

To make matters worse, when Nya disappears in the Vault of the Celestials, Nik and Vel get trapped trying to rescue her. The temple contains mysteries never revealed, until Nya's presence provides the key. They must solve the puzzles of an ancient past to learn the secrets of the Vault and expose the shadow threat to their mission.

Only $2.99 at these and other retailers:
Barnes & Noble

Friday, June 14, 2019

Forgotten Worlds #4 - cover reveal

It is done. The first draft is done of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds #4. As promised, here is the cover of IN DARKNESS, LIGHT...

Now, the editing rounds begin to refine the story. Look for this around late November-early December 2019.

In the meantime, #1 - A NEW BEGINNING is available. #2 - THE RULE OF YONDER will be available in one week (June 20). #3 - VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS will be available September 12.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Achievement unlocked - cowhorse level 2

Saddled and almost ready, waiting to start the day's adventure.

Buddy finally did it--he officially worked cows. And I mean, we worked all afternoon. First, we rounded up the smaller group (about 100 cow-calf pairs) from the closest pasture. Then, we helped sort cow-calf pairs into small groups to go to different pastures.

There was a point when driving the herd through the gate that they didn't see it open and switched and started back into the pasture. That is one of many aggravations working cows. But with four riders, a pickup, and a ranger, they were caught in time and driven through the gate. I had to keep Buddy back. He got a bit riled at that point as his herdmates did the work with their riders. The energy level was high and this was his first time. He got a bit excited, so I had my hands full trying to keep him calm enough to stop them from darting another direction.

In the herding excitement, we had a couple of difficult moments of him acting up. However, Buddy really likes working cows. It's like he was split between wanting to play with friends and wanting to do a job. I had to correct him a few times after starting to herd the cows, and then he behaved, until we got to the gate where they were trouble.

After following the cows through the aisle to the first lot to get to the other lot where we would sort, he was very riled up. I got off briefly and led him through that lot to the one where the next stage would take place. It was only a few minutes, but it was enough for him to calm down.

I mounted again, and, although he was a bit hyped up throughout everything, he was settled enough from where he had been too difficult to where I felt confident being on his back again. He doesn't usually get that bad, but there's a first time for everything.

In the lot getting ready to start sorting
cow-calf pairs into new groups for new pastures.
Next was a different test for him. Sorting cow-calf pairs is tricky. Getting a single bovine sorted isn't hard, but when you have a pair to keep together, that can be all sorts of headaches. The cows settled into pairs from the move while my sister decided what she wanted sorted, but once a rider goes in, that can change very quickly.

Buddy kept whinnying for his friends who were also in the lot helping sort with their riders, but he mostly kept his head in the game. He started out not sure what was going on but didn't take long to figure out what we were doing. I've said before he's a smart horse. He'd make a great cutting horse. With my legs and seat and our dressage training, I told him how to move his body around to block a cow and move into her to make her go where we wanted. He gained some confidence and just got better and better. He even reached the point where some rough footing didn't bother him as long as he got his cow. Normally, he wouldn't attempt certain footing, but he learned that some things are more important/interesting, and he's pretty surefooted.

And then a storm was building in the west and heading our way. He's sensitive to the weather changes and started getting a bit antsy for his friends again, but we worked as much as we could. When that wind and rain hit, however, he didn't like it. At that point, we quit.

It was time for me to head home, but my sister and her helpers decided to head back to sort one more group. I would have liked to have stayed, but by then, I had his saddle off and he had worked enough. My little Buddy will be sore tomorrow, but he earned an extra helping of grain tonight. He definitely has cow sense. It didn't take long for that to emerge. Now, he just needs to calm down, focus on his work, and not worry about where his herdmates are. Officially, though, I'd say he unlocked a new achievement, as the gaming world would note. He is a cowhorse graduated to the next level. He even nosed a calf lying on the ground without fear.

And we worked all afternoon in our western saddle and I'm very glad we did. However, I was sore. For most of our riding, I'm sticking to our dressage saddle, but for cow work, it definitely pays to be in a western saddle.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

MORE Forgotten Worlds coming soon!

I've been trying to keep myself on a regular schedule, at least once a week, with my blog. It's not always about writing, because that is only one part of my life. I enjoy sharing other parts without getting too personal, such as my furbabies--4 cats and a horse--and their antics and lives. I've always been an animal lover and always will be. I prefer animals to people, for reasons that should be obvious.

Okay, before I go off on a tangent, I'll get back to this post. I wanted to share some updates on the writing projects.

I'm especially excited because THE RULE OF YONDER (Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds #2) is coming soon! And I mean VERY SOON--JUNE 20th! Less than two weeks from now! I'm actually excited and frightened. It's the second book of the Forgotten Worlds series. I worry that it's really ready, yet I enjoyed the last round of edits so much that I'm sure people will enjoy the adventure through a station called Yonder in the nowhere of interstellar space. It should feel a bit like a Star Wars/Farscape-flavored adventure with countless new aliens and crime organizations. Anything goes, which made it fun to write and read, at least for me. I hope it is for you, too.

You can judge for yourself if this series is one that holds up. I do best when writing at my own pace instead of rushing.

In September, VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS (SA:FW #3) will be available. I have a couple more rounds of edits to complete on that before it's ready. This will be going up for preorder on Amazon in the upcoming week. (Amazon only allows 90 days lead on preorders, unlike the distributors I go through.)

I really love how the cover turned out on #3. However, I learned from it not to get too excited for a cover and title before I actually write the book. It was too distracting for me, partly because I adore the cover and can't take my eyes off it. The other part is because it really put my feet to the fire to write the book to fit that title. From now on, I don't settle on a title or cover until the book is well into being written.

That's worked out great for the current writing project, SA:FW #4. I was about halfway into this draft when I found the perfect cover image, no alterations needed. I just haven't been able to decide on a title, but it looks like my original idea will fit, now that I'm very close to being done (34K words out of a planned 40K word book). Tentatively, #4's title is IN DARKNESS, LIGHT. I'm planning a December release for this, probably early December, maybe late November, depending on how writing on #5 goes. (Publishing every 2 1/2-3 months seems to work well for me to have the time I need to not feel rushed while turning out books on a reasonable schedule. Also, drafting two books ahead of publication is helpful for me too.)

I am nearly done with the first draft of #4. When that happens, I will share the cover I have for it. Only when it's done will I know for sure if the title will stick. I'm so anxious to share it, but I know I'm better off holding back until I'm absolutely certain. I hope to finish it in the upcoming week.

And while you're waiting in between each book, check out some of my other works on the series pages on this blog or at my website. Starfire Angels itself goes back to the young adult book by that title that started the Dark Angel Chronicles (also available as a boxed set). That then transformed into the Revelations portion of the series. And now I'm writing Forgotten Worlds. The Luriel Cycle is a contemporary epic fantasy trilogy (also available as a boxed set). If you want something similar to but not as complicated or as graphic as Game of Thrones, I'd recommend Legend of the White Dragon, which is complete at five books (also available as a boxed set). And my personal favorites of my fantasy stories are the Demon Age novels--Tiger Born and Spirit Blade. I could reread those until the end of my days and would love an excuse to return to that world, but--alas--it hasn't been a good seller... yet.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

my Buddy and me

I think I overdid things yesterday. After a pretty good ride on Buddy, I trimmed his hooves. Today, I'm sore and extremely tired. Getting older sucks. I can't bounce back like I did in my younger years.

But I had fun getting to this. I've discovered more about Buddy, and he's learning more out on the farm than I ever could have done with him at a boarding barn with limited riding places. I've regained some confidence, even in the face of his getting a bit wild at times. He wants to play when I ask for a canter, but he's been a bit cooped up yet. Until the cattle get moved, the horses are in a paddock. Once the cattle are moved to summer pastures, the horses will get their pasture back.

But who am I fooling? I know Buddy. He'll still be mister wild child when he feels like it. Fortunately for me, he's also easy to control in those moments. But just to be cautious, I'm switching out his normal loose ring snaffle for a pelham with two sets of reins. I used to do that with my warmblood, who was far FAR more athletic than Buddy could ever be and dangerous when he had too much energy. The pelham bit gives me a little extra control when I need it. I learned to use two sets of reins before I ever started my warmblood in a double bridle. With Buddy, I'll have that shank rein for leverage when I need it but will usually only use the snaffle rein. Yes, he's been feeling like he could get out of control at times when we're riding. So far, I've been able to bring him back, but I'm too old to deal with a runaway. It's only when we're cantering or trotting that he gets a bit headstrong.

We're cantering more and more now too. We hardly did any canter until this spring, but the hills have been helping him learn to collect to carry a rider at a canter. Yesterday, we cantered circles on flat (although rough) terrain. He's learned from all of our lateral work how to listen to my body to pick up the lead that I want, which is pretty amazing; but he's always been very smart.

Also, I've been having to learn how to sit on him. Sitting the gaits is different on each horse, depending on their build and the saddle structure and fit. I'm figuring that out on him the more I get him to canter, and he's gaining confidence and roundness very quickly, but I suspect part of that is because he's depending on me holding him up in front. That will change in time. It's so much fun experiencing his development.

Last of all, this spring has been a cold one, but he's finally slicking out. Just a little winter hair left on his nose and ears. My little dressage/trail/cattle horse.

ps--It was too muddy and he was too ornery for me to feel safe riding him at the branding last weekend. But we observed from the ground. He settled in to the commotion quite nicely, even if he really wanted to run and play when given the chance; but he couldn't because he kept slipping on the wet grass.

pps--Although the western saddle fits him with the special shim pad and cinching system, he doesn't like it. He doesn't get sore, but he doesn't like it. He prefers our dressage saddle...and so do I.