Monday, May 30, 2022

MESSAGES has arrived!

It's done!

The latest installment of the ongoing Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series is now available from major ebook retailers. It's been a lot of work getting this ready. As I mentioned in my last post, I've had a lot going on in my real life. This book also required a lot work to hammer it into shape, but it's finally done. I hope you enjoy the latest book of this series, available from most major retailers and eventually from all of them. Purchase links are updated at as they become available.

When a distress call is caught by the Iludrin, the team can't ignore it, but no one is prepared for what they find. The signal leads them to an unstable star system, where a slaver vessel drifts aimlessly. Despite multiple life-signs, no one answers their inquiries.

Saving the prisoners is a priority, but when rescue teams board the derelict vessel, they soon discover why no one has answered. Something deadly is lurking in the grim corridors, killing crew and prisoners alike. The rescue teams from the Iludrin could be next. However, when a secret is discovered on the ship, they can't leave it for the Issan to claim, or the mysterious threat on the ship will be the least of their concerns.


In case you're new to this series, here is a complete list of books in order (more details on the Forgotten Worlds page of this blog or at my website Forgotten Worlds series pages):

1:   A New Beginning
2:   The Rule of Yonder
3:   Vault of the Celestials
4:   In Darkness, Light
5:   The Destruction of Walls
6:   Disposition of Dreams
7:   Remnants
8:   Racing the Orast Belt
9:   Ferious
10: Dragon and Fury
11: Voices in the Dark
12: Messages

Upcoming (written but not yet published):
13: Soul Shadow
14: Unbroken Bonds

More to come! (expect around 25 books total in this series)



Sunday, May 22, 2022

the editing merry-go-round and life

There's a reason I call this stage a merry-go-round.

I'm almost done with edits on Book 12, but I've still been making some bigger changes than expected on even the fourth pass and am tempted to make one more pass through just to be sure I found everything. I'm getting burned out at this point on MESSAGES (sort of--it's a fun book!). I feel like I'm never going to finish this to my satisfaction. I know I'll always find something wrong, but after changes like these, inevitably, there are typos that get introduced or something that on another pass jumps out because the new pieces make other pieces not fit quite right anymore. It's hard to catch everything right up front, because one segment of rewrites can make other stuff jump out as wrong after a fresh pass.

You try to fix one part but then it puts a kink in others that you don't see immediately, no matter how much you try to see it all at once. That's what I mean by the editing merry-go-round. I am determined to only put out the best book I can.

And I will have this book done by the end of May!

Unfortunately, life is also busy. Next weekend, I have a kid graduating high school and I've been busy preparing for the open house, which is expensive right now and a lot of work, but I'm going to give this to her at this special time of her life. I am an event planner as part of my day job, so I'll do what I can within our means for this special day for our valedictorian honor student (proud mom!). It's her special time and I am her mother, even though the teenagers think their parents don't know anything. 🙄 (Today, we're cleaning the garage, so it looks decent when people come to visit for the open house next weekend, although it'll just be an open garage really, since we'll have everything in the garage rather than in the house.)

And the kids want to see the new Dr. Strange movie, so we're planning on going as a family after the garage is cleaned. Teens are difficult to incentivize, so it'll be a reward for today's project. The theater is something we enjoy as a family on special occasions--we're not big movie-theater goers overall, but some movies we like to see in the theater together.

We also need to get our garden in. We've waited because of the expected frost that we've had the last few days. We'll have to get to that asap... this week. I covered my new grape plants and hope that they survived.

And after another week away, I really need to get out to my horse. Poor guy. All that green grass and room to roam and play with his herd. However will he get by? 🙃 *I* need to see him for my own sanity. He enjoys the visits too, just not the workouts I impose. Learning to carry himself properly is a workout (engaging his core and directing his feet to bear weight properly is like squats and burpees to a horse), especially for a horse like him who is not built uphill and is a bit post-legged behind. He benefits from the training, and I enjoy the results, especially when he shows up a fancier horse and his rider (so proud of him!). 

A mediocre horse with a skilled rider can actually perform very well, while a well-built, talented horse with a mediocre rider will only ever be mediocre, although that's not terrible. (The other rider will improve to great things over time; she's just very young and inexperienced and with all the pride that comes with youth--graduating from the same class as my daughter too, so make of that what you will.) Only as we age does humility come and then real learning as we accept our mistakes and fully comprehend and accept instruction to improve. Over twenty years of working with good dressage trainers as an adult has taught me how to help a disadvantaged horse like mine, and, as with my writing after decades of practice and critiques, the results of improvement are amazing to witness because it's something I didn't know I could achieve until I achieved them.

I love telling my boy what a good boy he is for his great efforts, and he loves the treats and face rubs afterwards. I need him, and I love to see how far he can go, a plain little grade gelding who freaks out at stupid things but puts in 110% effort when I ask. The greatest rewards are the result of hard work and the humility to realize that we have much to learn, no matter how much we think we know.

Photo from a year ago on the farm.
I can't wait until he sheds out like this again!

Sorry, I guess I'm really missing my boy after a week. I'd love to see him today, but family plans today and bad weather forecast tomorrow will keep me from him for a couple more days. So much for my plans for more frequent visits to work with him.

As you can see, my life is busy. Thank goodness I only work part-time at my day job! I couldn't get everything done, especially with my autoimmunity, which causes other problems that can put the brakes on my plans at times, another reason that I only work part-time.

But, I'm a fighter and I push through and keep going and love writing, especially this series. My faith, family, and a special network of friends is my support, as are you, the readers who buy and love the books. Seeing the high ratings tells me that someone is enjoying the books, and that encourages me to push through the difficult times as well. Thank you! 🥰

So, somehow, I'm getting through these edits, although a little more slowly than I'd like at times. That has given me the right frame of mind to catch the nuances of flow of the action, description, and dialogue.

I can't wait until graduation is over and then I only have to worry about youngest child finding a job, which I will have to chauffeur her to and from until she gets her license and maybe a car of her own... at some point. The life of a mom! (Dad works full time from home and is tied to his computer all day, so I'm the errand-runner.)

There's a slice of my life!

Thank you for your patience and for your support!


update 5/24/22: I'm definitely glad I gave this book one more go-round. It needs this final clean-up. Although minor, the mistakes would bother me when I look back later... Also, I didn't get to see my horse today as I'd hoped--too much to do. But tomorrow looks like a beautiful day and I have nothing going on at home. I will take advantage of that.

update 5/27/22: I got my horse fix two days ago. I have 1/3 of the final copyedits to finish on Book 12, and it's looking good. And we are putting in our garden this afternoon. I will finish this book in the next few days if it kills me.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Starfire Angels series project ideas (paperbacks, covers, and more)


Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow mothers! Every day is a reason to celebrate the children who make our lives special. I hope today is a blessed day for you and your families.

Now, on to some news for the Starfire Angels lovers out there. 

I've had some ideas stirring in my head and wonder how readers feel. I have some big projects that I need to take on, but it may further slow down my writing of the next Forgotten Worlds books. Please review the ideas below and the questions at the end of this post and leave your feedback in the comments.

Dark Angel Chronicles and Revelations - Individual Books

I know many people want paperbacks, and I want to give that to you. However, I have a lot of considerations. One is whether to pay extra for the same covers from the current Dark Angel Chronicles ebooks or use the old paperback covers. I may just resort to my old covers. I've also updated the story, so I need to reformat all of the interior files, then upload those and order proofs, check proofs and sometimes make adjustments and order new proofs... and eventually approve the final project. It can be a long and tedious process especially when working on several books at a time.

I also want to recover the Revelations series books, so that could take some days off of writing.

Forgotten Worlds Collection - Omnibuses

Other books that I want to also make available in print are the Forgotten Worlds books. I've played with an omnibus of the first five books of the series but will need to update that file and set it up to make it available; again, by going through the process I stated above with setting up paperbacks. Because that is so big, I think the hardcover option is the best quality.

Because I'll soon be releasing Book 12 of Forgotten Worlds, I think it's time to also work on an omnibus of books 6-10. That will be even thicker than 1-5, since the books started growing in length to be closer to 50K words each. I'm trying to keep them between 40K-50K, but sometimes the story dictates otherwise. The omnibuses are doorstoppers because they are 5-book editions (luckily, short novels).

Because I do all my own work, it can take a while to complete these projects; one of me can only do so much at a time. (Finding someone else to do the work and then double-checking them would take just as much time as doing it myself, plus I'll save the money, which can be put into other things and I have this down to a specific process and format after more than ten years of this.)

Starfire Angels Companion Guide(s)

I am also considering putting together a Starfire Angels Companion Guide with all the character details and world-building extras that I've put together as my series bible/wiki, plus expanding on my notes for dedicated readers to enjoy. This will take a lot more time and effort to organize, depending on how much I want to include - just Dark Angel Chronicles and Revelations or those and Forgotten Worlds to date (updating periodically as new books become available with new details)? Work with an artist for character pictures or no pictures? Ebook only or also print? These wouldn't be very many pages, at least not like the actual books, but that also depends on the formatting style that I ultimately decide upon. I would like a decorative interior (much like the gaming books my husband has collected over his lifetime), so it would take some time to design and format. Maybe I could find a gaming book designer and artists to help me put something really special together. 🤔 

All this is thinking aloud for now...

Perhaps I should create three different guides with only one in print for now for those who want it - Dark Angel Chronicles and Revelations. The other two would be Starfire Angels (the whole three-part series - DAC, Revelations, and FW) and Forgotten Worlds separate from the other two parts, since these would need to be updated regularly until Forgotten Worlds is completed.

So many considerations!

It'll be a LOT of work to put this project together. By the time I have it figured out, I might be done or nearly done with FW anyway. I would like to provide some current reference material, however, for those who are following along with what is happening in the FW series.

In Summary

As I said, all this will take away from writing time, so I'll want to spread it out. My first print priority will be the omnibus of books 1-5 of Forgotten Worlds, since I have a full cover ready to go for that. Then I'll probably work on new paperbacks for the original DAC series and Revelations before worrying about a hardcover for FW books 6-10.

Feedback Questions for Readers

Below is a summary of what I'd like to know of your thoughts. Please leave your feedback in comments to this post.

  1. Dark Angel Chronicles
    • paperback or hardcover?
      • if hardcover, dust jacket or print cover?
  2. Revelations 
    • paperback or hardcover?
      • if hardcover, dust jacket or print cover?
  3. SA Companion Guide 
    • Separate series guides or wait for the whole SA series (all three parts in one guide)?
    • Ebook only, paperback only, or ebook and paperback?
  4. What retailer do you prefer for buying your print books? (so I can figure out what source to use for printing)

Your input is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

the view from the saddle

Most of Buddy's herd,
still a ways off from me.
I haven't reported on my horse for some time (months!). We made a change last summer in which I moved him closer to me from my parents' farm to a boarding facility. It's been a very good experience for him. He's in a pasture with a large herd of geldings, so he has plenty of freedom to roam and other friends for company and play. But it's a big pasture and can take me a while to reach him when he's at the far end (about a half-mile walk) as he was today. I'm glad he was out today in the pasture, though (maybe not so glad by the end of summer). The grass is starting to green up and he needs that. Hanging out near the barn end of the pasture eating the old hay isn't good for him, especially with better alternatives springing up.

Today was a beautiful day, except for the chilly breeze. In a couple of months I'll be wanting that breeze, but for now, it added a chill on what would have been a perfect day. Nevertheless, Buddy was a good boy, where he used to be a snorty freak on days like this.

He's come a long ways in just the last year alone. This spring, I finally buckled down and started asking for more forward and more attention to shoulder-fore. Now, he's picking up the canter from a trot within a step or two of my asking. No more taking lots of set up or running into it. He's so much better balanced, and it shows.

The view from the saddle
is magnificent
I also figured out why he's always so jumpy and fidgety--something missing in his diet. He needs a complete multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. It's a long process how I figured that out, partly by accident and observations that clued me into the issue. When he's on green grass, he's always calmer than on dried grass or hay (which is leeched of nutrients by the curing process and just by aging). I also noticed that when I changed his sweet feed treat to a complete feed, I had a calmer horse about an hour later. I added some Grand Vite to his before-ride treat and that hits him with more of what he needs immediately for a much better ride. He gets the rest after we ride, along with some digestive supplements and beet pulp. It's made a HUGE difference for him.

And that has made a HUGE difference in his training. He's finally reaching more of a solid dressage first level, although now he's so out of shape that we can't work too long yet. His muscle tone is gone right now and he's a fat boy. (He's pretty stocky / solidly built, but one can see the hay belly and the lack of muscle in his hindquarters.) And after our big spring snowstorm, he quit shedding like he had been, but I'm seeing signs that it may pick up again soon. I hope to have a sleek, shiny boy in another month.

I'm going to try to ride more often this summer, which is what he really needs to overcome his lack of confidence in new situations and to build up his strength to advance his dressage work. He isn't a fancy mover nor very athletic (and certainly not built for dressage), but I know I have the skills from all my years of experience and training to help him become something that he wouldn't otherwise have the chance to be. He's already come very far since I bought him as a youngster broke by horse traders to make a quick buck at the auction six and a half long years ago (he's now 9), when I was looking for just a simple little project horse to play with after giving up on the showing. I bought an ugly duckling (in terms of movement) and with proper training, am transforming him into the swan that was hiding inside. If he can be transformed, any horse can be with dressage training. It's exciting to see this sweet little guy blossom into his potential as an adult horse!

The shadow shows me on his back.

Monday, May 2, 2022

The great editing cycle

I'm in that stage again... edits... edits... and MORE edits!

I'm preparing MESSAGES for release to the world--you, the readers--sometime this month. I don't know when but it will be this month. All I know is that I will publish the book when I feel that it's ready, and that takes several rounds of edits at this point.

As usual, after time off from the book, I'm captivated by reading it again. That makes editing difficult to do, but if I take it slow, I will see the issues more clearly to fix them. And I need several rounds with it to immerse myself in the story for this stage.

Book 12 will mark the halfway point of the series.

Thanks for your dedication and patience.