Skykeep is available now!

Cover, as always, by Nick Deligaris

If you’re already a fan of Free-Wrench, then all you need to know is you can now buy the sequel Skykeep on iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Google Play, and just about anywhere else TODAY! For the rest of you, read on to understand what this is all about.

It is truly astounding to think of it, but something that was just the vague thought “maybe some steampunk would be fun” back in October of 2013 is now officially a series with two complete books!

If you’re not familiar with the series, it is about Amanita Graus (pictured below in a bit of reference art by a very talented fan.

nita_reference_by_catseathedevil-d7zbyao

Nita’s a skilled engineer—specifically the jack-of-all-trades sort of worker that her employers call a free-wrench—who was raised in an isolated island nation called Caldera that reveres art and artists above all else. She’d not given much thought to the outside world, other than to acknowledge that it was comparatively savage and boorish. Much of the main continent had been ravaged by the appearance of a toxic fog that the locals called “The Fug” centuries ago. These days the people of the rest of the world made their homes on the mountains and made their living in airships. Rather than have them attempting to lay claim on Caldera and its pristine soil, a battery of large cannons and a clear willingness to use them was developed by the Calderans to dissuade visitors.

In the first book of the series, Free-Wrench, her pleasant little life took a sharp turn when she realized that the worsening illness that was threatening to claim her mother might actually have a cure elsewhere in the world. She maneuvered her way onto the crew of a black market ship called The Wind Breaker in hopes of securing some of the medicine, and so began her adventure.

Skykeep continues her story. The whole crew: Cap’n Mack, Gunner, Lil, Coop, Butch, and Wink are still on the job, though the events of the first novel have led to some fairly sweeping changes. One can’t make a splash in the world without getting the attention of the other major consequence of the Fug’s arrival; the fug folk. They’re a race of manipulative and power hungry inventors who aren’t pleased with what the Wind Breaker crew were able to do in their last adventure. Skykeep is the story of facing the sequences for those actions.

If that sounds like your kind of story, once again you can buy Skykeep on iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Google Play, and just about anywhere else TODAY!

Not only that, but if you missed out the first book in the series, for the next few days Free-Wrench will be FREE on all of the same sites! (iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Google Play)  Get it before April 1st, when the price starts to rise back to $2.99.

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FREE-Wrench and other bits and pieces

Wow, okay. It’s been a whole month since my last blog post, eh? Shame on me. I suppose you folks are wondering what I’m up to! Or to be grammatically correct, you are wondering up to what I am. (Grammar is stupid sometimes.) Well, here’s what I’ve got!

Free-Wrench is now FREE(-Wrench)

To celebrate the upcoming release of its sequel, I decided to make Free-Wrench free for the entire month of March. Astute observers might recognize that it isn’t March yet. This is so, but Amazon can sometimes be sluggish about noticing price drops, so I started the ball rolling early. And boy oh boy, did it pick up some momentum!

Hi Lindsay. Just visiting. You’ll have the top of the Steampunk list soon enough.

It turns out Pixel of Ink picked up the sale and mentioned it on their blog, and as a result, more than 2800 people have downloaded Free-Wrench in the past few days. That’s enough to make it #63 overall in the free store and the number one Steampunk novel on Amazon right now. Not bad!

You can of course find Free-Wrench on all the usual sites: iBooks, Amazon, Smashwords, Google Play, etc, etc.

If any of you good folks are reading this post because you read Free-Wrench and loved it, THANKS! I’m glad you liked it. If you are reading it because you read Free-Wrench and hated it… First, I’m rather curious why you would seek out the website of a book you hate, and second, I’m sorry you didn’t like it, but thanks for giving it a chance.

All of this attention that Free-Wrench is getting is good news for me, because…

Skykeep releases on March 26th!

Yep, I know I’ve said it before, but gosh darn it, it bears repeating.

Cover, as always, by Nick Deligaris

Cover, as always, by Nick Deligaris

The sequel to Free-Wrench, Skykeep, is still available for pre-order, and in less than a month it will release worldwide. I’ve shared it with a few beta readers and early reviewers, and I’ve got to say, folks have some really nice things to say about it. I think this is the fastest I’ve ever written the sequel to a story (not counting The Book of Deacon Trilogy, which was complete before it was released). Something tells me this isn’t the last you’ll be seeing from this setting.

I don’t want to give too much away from the plot, but let’s just say a few of the accidental “Joseph Lallo Mandatory Features” are alive and well. A dash more hard science than necessary. Check. A cute, cuddly character? Double-check. Banter between characters? Lots of checks.

It’s a little short, as my stories go, with just about 83,000 words, but when you factor in the original word target of 50,000 words, that’s right about where we’d expect it to be. If it sounds like your cup of tea, go ahead and pre-order on iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Google Play. And don’t forget that the previous installment is free for March.

NEW ARTIST and NEW PROJECTS!

Yeah, I love Nick’s stuff, but he’s a big successful artist-type person who has plenty of other clients and jobs to worry about. That means I can get covers done by him only when he’s got a spare moment. In the past that’s been no problem, but since I quit the day job and started polishing off all of the minor stuff I’ve been working on, I’ve run into the need for more art than he can provide. So I’ve decided to add another artist to my roster, and that artist is Georgi Slavov. Georgi’s done some great fan art for me in the past, and his style is reminsicent of Nick’s in a few ways, so I thought he’d be a good fit. Let’s see if you agree:

Ayna-cover-3-small

Ayna, looking rough and ready.

Well, I’d say he managed to make one of my least popular characters look pretty darn impressive, wouldn’t you? That’s Ayna, and believe it or not, the weapon and armor are both present in a short origin story I’ll be releasing in the not too distant future.

Here’s another one:

Desmeres-cover-3-small

What are you up to now, Desmeres?

What do you think? I could be wrong, but this may well be the first image of Desmeres ever made, canon or otherwise. This too is for a short story I’m working on, showing off what he’s up to in the weeks and months following The Battle of Verril.

BoD 4

People who have been paying attention have heard me talk about an untitled sequel to The Battle of Verril, but you may have noticed I haven’t spoken about it recently. Have no fear! It is rolling along nicely. Recently it’s been sharing a little too much of the calendar with smaller projects, but once I polish those off, I’d like to really buckle down and get it down. Right now the story is 70,000 words and climbing, and it’s really scattered and wacky. It’ll need some work to congeal into something that makes sense, but I’m doing my best to make it a worthwhile continuation of the story.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast

Every once in a while someone will comment that they’d like to know what my voice sounds like. I’m not sure there’s much value in that, but if you’re really interested, you’ll be happy to know that for the last few months I’ve been co-hosting a podcast. I share the hosting duties with Lindsay Buroker and Jeffrey Poole, and we mostly talk about ways in which we can spread the word about our books. It’s geared toward other authors, but if you’d like to hear how the business end of indie-authoring works, I’d like to think it’s a good resource. Here’s a link to a recent episode in which we interview Tammy Salyer, my current primary editor!

And also Between

I’m still writing Between most weeks, so if you’re longing for new Lallo writings, Between is one way to get your fill.

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Five Years in Self-Publishing and Other News

Five Years

Then and Now

Then and Now

Yeah, I know. I can’t believe it either, but as of this morning I’ve been self-publishing for FIVE YEARS. The Book of Deacon (which is the namesake of this site and the thing that paid for my HOUSE) was published January 28th, 2010. That was the day after my 27th birthday, by the way, so do the math and you know how old I am.

Did I think five years ago that by 2015 I would be chugging along as a professional author? Not at all. Ask my friends. My highest goal for my books at that time was “I hope this doesn’t somehow ruin my life.” So, mission accomplished on that! To be perfectly honest, if I’d not written the Book of Deacon trilogy in its entirety before publishing the first book, I might never have continued the series. I recently ran the numbers and in 2010 I sold a grand total of 9 books. It wasn’t an encouraging start. But I’d already written the others, so there was no reason not to publish them. And hey, I wrote them because I enjoyed writing, not because I wanted to get rich.

In the four years since 2010, a lot has changed. I’ve got ten books personally published,and an eleventh on pre-order, plus enough in the pipeline that I’m actually starting to lose track of them! (That’s bad. Must get organized.) I have sold a total of more than 235,000 ebooks via Amazon and Smashwords. That doesn’t even count the tens of thousands of copies that I’ve sold via semi-pro methods like StoryBundle and multi-author books I didn’t publish personally. Pile on top of that the nearly 700,000 people who have downloaded my books for free and that makes just about 1,000,000 times that someone looked at one of my books, shrugged, and said “Why not?”

For all of this, I have many people to thank. I’d like to thank the friends who have relentlessly hounded me into making virtually every good book decision I’ve made, going all the way back to the decision to foist them onto an unsuspecting public. Sean, Cary, Chrissy, and the rest, I tip my hat to you. There’s also the early readers who contacted me and gave me the confidence to keep writing. Karen and Alicia, I’m looking at you! There are the spectacular artists I’ve worked with: Nick, Aimee, Jay, Bri,  and Adam to name just a few. We can’t forget the fan artists like Katie and Lily who blow my mind each and every time one of my characters or stories inspires them to draw something I could never hope to create on my own. I’d like to thank Gary for being a part of the nonsense schoolyard game that would eventually mutate into these stories. I can’t forget the business folk like Jason and Mark who took their chances with me to help promote and sell my stuff.

There are so many more than I’m sure I’m forgetting, but most of all I would like to thank the hundreds of thousands of readers who have read my books, and the dozens who have enjoyed them. (I kid. It is more than that… hopefully.)

But I’m sure you don’t visit this site hoping to read my incredulous musings about my book career. You want to read about what I’ve been writing! So let’s get down to the good stuff, shall we?

Skykeep

In what might be my fastest turnaround for a book EVER, the story I wrote in November of 2014 is going to be available (if nothing goes wrong) on March 26th, 2015. You can actually pre-order it now!

 

Cover, as always, by Nick Deligaris

Cover, as always, by Nick Deligaris

This is the sequel to Free-Wrench. It is a steampunk adventure telling the continued story of… actually, I’ll just plop the blurb in here:

It has taken some adjustment, but Nita Graus has made quite a home for herself among the crew of the Wind Breaker. Under her skillful care it has become one of the only airships to stay aloft without the continuous repair and oversight of the vile and manipulative fug folk. Word of her adventures with Captain Mack, Gunner, Lil, Cooper, and Wink has made the whole crew into living legends among the residents of the mountain towns of Rim, but in doing so it has also made finding safe harbor virtually impossible. Agents of the fug folk and those working on their behalf hide in every cloud and skulk in every shadow.

Only one town, a place called Lock, is willing to welcome the Wind Breaker into port. Most of the townspeople have already been shunned by the Fug Folk, and as such have little to lose in aiding and abetting the crew. Captain Mack, mindful of his advancing age and the risks he’s had to request of his crew time and time again, has begun to plan for his retirement. Plans are swiftly derailed when the fug folk hatch a plan of their own, splitting the crew and locking Nita away in the floating prison known as Skykeep.

Skykeep is the second book in the Free-Wrench saga and continues to chronicle the adventures of Nita and her new crew as they continue to clash with the twisted figures who control the destiny of a continent.

Sound good? I sure hope so. You can pre-order it at the usual places, including on iBooks, Amazon, B&N, and Kobo (soon). NEAT!

More Projects

January Patreon - Joseph - small

Art by Bri Mercedes

Since I can’t afford to lose track of a whole book and have it flounder for years without being published (again), here’s a list of other projects that are underway, and approximately how far along they are.

Seeking the Shadow (100% written, awaiting publication in Blackguards Anthology)

Untitled Ayna Origin Story (100% written, in editing and revision)

Untitled Desmeres Serial (Chapter 1 of ? 95% written)

Untitled Book of Deacon Sequel (30% written)

Untitled Entwell Project (10% written)

Untitled Big Sigma 4 (planning phase)

Untitled Myn Children’s Book (planning phase)

Untitled Second Trilogy (30% written, requiring major rewrite)

Weird Nothing (100% written, awaiting rewrite and illustration)

 

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Updates, Goodies, and Suchlike

I hope everyone has enjoyed their holiday season, and their entire year for that matter. As many of you know, after 31 years of life I finally got to Disney World. It was, as should be expected, magical. Now that I’ve been jarringly thrust back into the real world, I’ve decided it is time to give you good folks a long overdue update on various things on the various burners of my proverbial stove.

Book of Deacon Stuff

First, the stuff you’re probably here for. Book of Deacon has been heating up here in the Lallo compound. First of all, I got some really cool art, both of the commissioned and fan variety. Let’s start with the first ever BoD full animation.

Art by the brilliant ProjectEndo

I sincerely didn’t expect I’d ever be able to see one of my characters animated, but there’s Lain, tossing daggers, courtesy of ProjectEndo. If you don’t follow him, you should. Seriously pro, very talented, and many other complementary things. I’m beyond pleased. This was a commission, but commissioned art isn’t the only art I got recently. A long time fan, Mexe Robinson Garachena, sent me these cute little figurines of Myn and Ivy!

Cute!!!!

So cool. It came with candy and cookies and stuff, and now resides with pride upon my shelf of awesome things.

But art is not the only motion in the BoD front. I have been soldiering away on the story with the working title “BoD 4″. The going has been slow, because vacation and holidays interposed themselves, but I’ll be firing up the engines on it again soon.  The only other thing which might sideline it is a new, currently secret, BoD novella that I may have agreed to write in the next few months. It’s got to be a standalone story in the 30k word range. Still hammering out the details, but that’s a pretty short story, so I might be able to make short work of it.

Other things involve the potential creation of an “Anthology of Deacon” featuring all of the currently available Book of Deacon stories, and by extension my first release on Google Play. Many good things on the horizon!

Free-Wrench 2: Skykeep

The NaNoWriMo project I was working on, a sequel to Free-Wrench, is now complete and in Beta. It was originally going to be called The Phylactery, but after I realized that choosing that name would be a marketing disaster (try spelling that or telling people about it) I did a little massaging and came up with Skykeep. You’ll all be getting a look at it soon (in relative terms), since I’ve been asked to get this one out on a really short turn around. I might actually put it up for pre-order in a few days. Hopefully the Beta’s are enjoying it.

When next Nick has an opening, I’ll have to get a cover made, and there’s still the matter of writing the blurbs and what not, but the hard part is done… Unless the Beta’s universally hate it, then the hard part is just beginning.

Paperbacks

After far too long, I took a day to format ALL of my books for paperback release. That means everything from Jade to Artificial Evolution is going to be available for autographs and such. It’ll be a little while. I need to get cover art done, and that means finding more time in Nick’s schedule, but it’ll happen!

Etc.

Since I’m pro now, I’m trying to split my time in more productive directions even when not writing. Right now I’ve got a few maybes. Perhaps you would like to weigh in? Which of the following would you most like to see me work on in my spare time?

  • Audio Books for the rest of my catalog (including the sci-fi)
  • Non-Plush merch like posters and bookmarks
  • ???

That question mark is there for people with suggestions. Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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Artificial Evolution Officially Released!

Hi everybody! After a lengthy pre-order period, the wait is over! Artificial Evolution, the third book in my Big Sigma series, has finally released!

Look out. Michella means business.

I’m very proud of this book. It is one of my longest to date, and it brings back all of your favorite characters from its predecessor, Unstable Prototypes. The story picks up a few months after the previous story left off. Michella’s career has continued to blossom, Lex’s career has continued to stagnate, and Garotte and Silo have continued their campaign against the Neo-Luddites. Life has continued pretty much as expected, but things change when a representative of VectorCorp starts meddling with the lives and livelihoods of both Lex and Michella. The intrepid reporter hatches a plan to continue covering the Neo-Luddite story despite pressure from her superiors, and in doing so finds that she’s become involved in something even larger and more dangerous.

Unstable Prototypes was a story focused on exploring Ma and Karter as characters in addition to Lex and his adventures. This time around our focus is shifted a bit to Silo and Garotte, and as you can see by the cover Michella gets to mix it up a bit as well. As you read, you’ll discover that the events of the first two books are more tightly connected than it first appeared. I really hope you’ll like the story. Those of you who pre-ordered should already have the book, and those of you who didn’t can order now! Links are below.

iBooks
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Smashwords

Thanks for reading!

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iBooks Best of 2014

Way back in July I was honored to have one of my novels, Free-Wrench, selected as one of the Best Books of the Month in the AU/NZ iBooks Stores. It earned me some wonderful distinctions, including an editorial blurb and a place in the promotion beside some authors with which I never would have dreamed of sharing the spotlight. Today I am doubly honored, because I have learned that Free-Wrench has earned a place among the iBooks Best of 2014! Free-Wrench is prominently featured in their Sci-Fi and Fantasy category beside brilliant authors like Joe Abercrombie! This promotion celebrates not only the best books, but the best music, apps, podcasts, movies, and TV shows from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store. It’s unreal to be included in such a group!

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Click for AU/NZ Promo link!

Can you believe it! It is so thrilling to know that half a world away my books have touched the hearts and minds of so many. I’ve heard from many readers in Australia and New Zealand since I was first featured, and the reviews have been wonderful. If you are in Australia or New Zealand, you can find the iBooks Best of 2014 here. If you’re from my side of the world, here’s the stateside iBooks link, or you can click the cover below!

Free-Wrench_text-b

Perhaps the most wonderful thing about this is the knowledge that all of you who voted for this year’s NaNoWriMo project had excellent taste, because Free-Wrench 2 (that’s a working title, still choosing the final name) was completed ten days ago and will be available next year!

FC-BestOf2014-FreestandingBadge-ENG

 

Once again I’d like to thank the fantastic iBooks Team for their support. I feel blessed.

As always, thanks for reading.

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NYCC, NaNoWriMo, and lots of other letters

NaNoWriMo

Whoa, it’s the middle of October. You know what that means? It means NaNoWriMo is knocking on my door! This is my first NaNoWriMo in which I am a full time writer, and oddly the first one since I started that I’d considered skipping. I’ve got a lot of stuff stewing and simmering on various burners of the figurative stovetop, and wasn’t sure I’d be able to justify moving one of them to the back in order to dive into NaNo. However, after a bit of discussion and consideration, I think it’s safe to say I’m willing to give it a go.

Now the question is, what story do I write? Below is a list of some possible projects that are floating around in my head:

  • A Zombie Story
  • Free-Wrench 2
  • The Other Eight 2

Last year there were a few additional things on the list, like Urban Fantasy. I suppose I’m still willing to give that a go, but now that I’m Mr. Fancypants Professional Author-Type person it is becoming steadily more clear to me that I need to focus a little tighter on the stuff that actually earns me money, at least until I can be relatively sure that I can juggle money making stuff and experimental stuff.

As before, I’m interested in what you folks think I would write next. If the past is any indication, whatever I write will be made available some time next year. Because of their short length, NaNoWriMo books have a very short turnaround. So take a pick, vote for your favorite choice, or maybe make your own suggestion. You can comment or email me at jrlallo@bookofdeacon.com. After about a week I’ll make a choice and start the outlining process. Fun!

NYCC

For those of you on the East Coast, you probably already know this, but the New York Comic Con just passed! It struck me, about halfway through the last day, that I probably should have, you know, mentioned here on my blog that I’d be attending. But you know what? It turns out it didn’t matter, because I met fans anyway! FOUR OF THEM. (Yeah, yeah, big whoop, single digits.) It was really awesome to meet you folks, and even more awesome considering I didn’t have a booth or anything. All four of these fans had to hunt me down (or in one notable case, run into me completely by chance). I even got a picture with one! I also took a bunch of pictures and got to talk to my favorite animator, Bill Plympton, for a while. Super neato!

Despite all of the great stuff I saw and did, the weirdest thing of all was the fact I took a snapshot of a guy dressed as Geoffrey Peterson (Craig Ferguson’s Robot Sidekick) and tweeted it to him… ONLY TO BE RETWEETED! It was promptly favorited and retweeted hundreds of times. So there you have it. Almost five years of doing my best to be the best writer I can be, and my biggest splash ever is a blurry photo of a guy pretending to be a robot skeleton.

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Character Interview: Myn

What follows is a non-canon character interview with Myn the dragon. The interview takes place at some point several decades after the events of The Battle of Verril. As such it contains SPOILERS, not just for the events of The Book of Deacon and Jade, but books that have not yet been written and my not be written for years. I repeat this MAY SPOIL FUTURE BOOKS. You should know from the question if it is going to spoil the future, but it is a minefield, so beware. Also, until those books are written, nothing here is necessarily set in stone. Also, I did this interview a bit differently than the others, framing it as a short story rather than a straight up interview. I hope you like it. Enjoy!

myn_looking_for_a_suitort_by_catseathedevil-d6bquai

Image courtesy of CatseaTheDevil

A dragon, her scales a radiant red and deep amber, was lounging on a mound of gold twice as large as she. The creature was the picture of contentment, her elegant gold eyes turned to four young dragons, each just a fraction of her size, scampering and wrestling about on the gold. They scrambled around and over her legs, climbing her back and nestling beneath her wings. Around her was a clean, dry cave. The light of a rising sun filtered through the yawning mouth of the cave, bathing its interior and reflecting from the coins and goblets of the hoard to speckle the walls with points of light.

There was a sound at the mouth of the cave, footsteps. She pivoted her head from her brood and looked with interest to the mouth of the cave. There was an old man there, his hair thin and white around the edges and his scalp bare across the dome of his head. He wore a blindfold and carried with him a scroll and quill.

The baby dragons reacted to the visitor with mixed reactions, some baring their teeth in threat, others scampering for cover behind their mother. The adult dragon merely observed the visitor, wary but unthreatened by his arrival.

“Hello Myn. Do you remember me?” spoke the visitor.

Myn tipped her head, eyes analyzing the man.

“I do…” she answered, her voice smooth and soothing, soft and feminine yet unmistakably powerful, as though it was gentle only because great care had been taken to render it so. “But I do not remember from where…”

“I suspect it will come to you in time. My name is Oriech, and we have met before, though not under the best circumstances. I hope you don’t mind, but I have some questions for you.” He stepped forward, prompting the smallest of the dragons, a green and yellow scamp, to charge forward in challenge.

Myn scooped her tail around the posturing little one, uttering a soft, cooing sound in her throat and depositing him atop her haunches. “Questions? For what purpose?”

“You may not realize, but the tale of you and your friends has drawn the interest of many, and of those many, there are curious minds who wonder after the events not yet recorded. Would you care to answer?”

“Sit. Ask, and we shall see.”

Oriech took a seat on the ground and carefully prepared the scroll.

“Are you blind, sir?” Myn asked respectfully.

“I am.”

“Then how do you intend to write, and how did you find your way to me through the mountains?”

He grinned. “Still the curious one. I promise answers for you just as soon as we are through. Is that acceptable?”

“I suppose.”

“Then let me begin with Myranda. What do you think of her?”

“What do I think of her?” Myn asked, as though the question was absurd. “She belongs to me. And I belong to her. She is everything. All that I have done I have done for her. To make her proud, to keep her safe. And I know that she has done so much for me.”

“When did you learn that you felt this way?”

“I still remember my first moments. She was the first living scent to fill my nose. Hers was the first touch to brush my scales. She was laying there on the floor of my cave. I was cold and she was warm. I laid atop her to share her warmth. When she awoke, she held me. She fed me. I knew that she was there for me, and I decided I would be there for her.”

“But she was hurt, and she was not a dragon like you. Dragons are just as likely to be greeted by their first meal as by their caretaker. Why didn’t you make a meal of her?”

“I was not hungry yet,” she said with a shrug. “I suppose I needed companionship more than a meal. My family was already gone. But also there was something more. A light I suppose. Not the sort you can see. The sort you can feel. She was special.”

“She was indeed. You say you lost your family. A terrible tragedy. Did you know anything about them? Have you learned much about your past?”

“I have prowled the mountains of my birth for some time. I have smelled scents that remind me of my own. I know that those far older than I still make their home there. Perhaps someday I shall find them, learn from them. But we dragons live long. There will be much time for that.”

“Indeed… Was Myranda the only one in the cave that day, the day you found her?” he asked.

“No… No there was one other. He… I don’t know what name to use. I never needed a name for him. Like Myranda, he was simply mine, and I was his. He was the teacher. I learned to hunt from him. I learned to stalk. I learned to fight. I remember that Myranda called him Leo, then Lain.”

“He was not a dragon either, and yet you accepted him. Why?”

“It was his eyes. His heart. His soul. He too had the light, though not so pure. And he was wise. A hunter knows a hunter. I felt that he would teach me, and that I had much to learn. All that I feel for Myranda I feel for him as well.”

“Were you content to just follow Myranda and Lain wherever they went? Do you totally accept what Myranda chooses to do? Would you have done some things differently than she did?”

Myn huffed a breath that was close to a laugh. “If I had my way in the beginning, Myranda and Lain and I would have curled up in a cave, safe and warm, forever. Maybe some hunting, maybe some exploring, but always together. I did not like that she was always going places that were dangerous. And she was always going near water.” Myn shuddered. “I do not like water.”

“You’ve fought beside many others in your time. What do you think of them? Deacon, for example,” Oriech asked.

“Deacon…” she said, her voice with a breath more hiss to it. Her eyes narrowed and drifted aside, her tail slicing through the air a bit. After a moment her expression softened and she turned back to Oriech. “He belongs to Myranda. I suppose he belongs to me as well. But I do not belong to him. And Myranda may say that she does, but I say she does not belong to him either. She belongs to me. I do not like that I must share her with him. In the beginning I very much did not like it. I wished Myranda had not let him get so close. But now… If I must share her, I am glad it is with him.”

“You didn’t like Ether very much either.”

Her eyes narrowed again, claws raking softly at the gold. “Ether. Ether wanted to make me share Lain. No, she wanted to take Lain from me. But Lain did not belong to her. No one belongs to her. And she belongs to no one. She was cruel, and she did foolish things while claiming to be wise.” Her expression softened slightly. “But now… Now I do not hate her so much. Maybe because Lain is gone.”

“So would you say the uneasy truce has become something of an understanding?”

“Not an understanding. I respect her power, but more so I pity her.”

“Pity her? Why?”

“Because she belongs to no one, and no one belongs to her. She has nothing. And everyone knows it but her.”

“What do you think about Ivy? And what did you think in the beginning?”

She grinned. “Ivy was easy to like. She belongs to me too. I had to share Myranda with her in the beginning, but I did not mind so much. She was soft, and warm. And she liked to give me potatoes. And she smelled very much like Lain.”

“How did you learn to talk?”

“How does anyone learn to talk? I listened. I listened to Myranda mostly, and Deacon as well. Ivy wanted very much for me to learn. She was always very excited when I learned a new word.” She grinned. “I remember, I learned her name and she was so happy.”

“Did it take long to learn to speak?”

“Not long for a dragon. Most things are not long for a dragon. But maybe long for a human. I do not know, precisely. Kenvard was a kingdom again before I learned to speak, but it had not been for long.”

“There is one thing in your life, or perhaps ‘lives’ is more appropriate, that many have wondered about. Your rebirth. The day that Myranda lost you.”

Myn closed her eyes and lowered her head. “That was a very bad day…”

“What do you remember?”

“Not much. I remember Myranda was falling, and I caught her. I was trying to land. I was smaller then, and she was too heavy to carry. Something caught me, tore my wing. I fell. Into the ice, into the water. It was so cold. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. And then it wasn’t cold anymore. There was darkness… and then there was light. I remembered feeling peace, but also I felt other things. There were figures in the light. Watching me. Whispering. Judging. They were trying to decide something. Something about me. … And you were there. It is there that I remember you from.”

“Indeed I was. When matters of the chosen arise I am often asked to be on hand. I am the hand of fate, after all.”

Myn’s wings flared a bit. “You were one of the ones who decided what came next then.” She lowered her head, coming nose to nose with the blind man. “I was not happy about what came next,” she rumbled. “Myranda was there. I couldn’t see her, but I felt that she was there. She came for me. She wanted me to follow her. She led me away from the figures, but whatever it was they were deciding, they made up their minds, and they needed me to stay. You needed me to stay. They pulled me away from Myranda… and then it became so bright. I remember first there was warmth, then… power. It tingled, fizzled inside me. Filled me to bursting. When it left me I was cold again, but I also felt that there was light inside me. The same light that burned inside Myranda and the others.”

“Did you understand what was happening to you? That you were being Chosen? That you had to die so that you could be reborn by the will of the gods?”

“I didn’t know what it was to be Chosen, but I knew that I was more like the others than I had been. I knew I had the mark. I was happy to share it with Myranda and Lain.”

“What happened next?”

“I was flying through the air when I woke, carried by those dark things, the dragoyles. They seemed smaller than they should be, but I was weak. I could not pull away. They took me to a place with many cages, and soon I met a creature who… If Myranda and Lain and the other Chosen had a light, these creatures had a darkness. The D’Karon. The one named Demont seemed pleased by me. I was large now. Nearly as large as I am today. Something in the power I felt after the figures in the light pulled me away must have done it, helped me to grow. Made me more than I was. But he wanted me to be larger. Stronger. And he wanted me to do as he said. I would not. So he… changed me. He hammered a loop of steel onto my head. He poured dark potions and uttered dark words… and I changed. I grew. And I grew angry. He could not control me. I would not do as he said, but the anger was all he wanted. He wanted me to hurt things. To fight them. To kill them. And I did. Every day, large and small, I slashed and charred and stomped and crushed whatever they put before me. I couldn’t think. The metal burned me.

“Then one day they wanted me to crush something so small. Something that was already so broken. But the smell… how could I forget that wonderful scent. The first I had ever smelled. It was Myranda. She healed me and we escaped.”

“When she restored you from their treachery, you were still much larger than you were. How did you cope with that?”

“I did not mind. With size came power. I could not curl up atop Myranda anymore, but she could curl up atop me. The change didn’t matter to her, and it didn’t matter to me. We were a family again.”

“And now your family has grown.”

“Yes… Four wonderful hatchlings. Windsor, Thorn, Roka, and little Halfax,” she said, licking the smallest lightly. “I came to the mountains to lay them, and to raise them. The young… I do not regret how I was raised, but I think maybe for my children I want them to know their own kind.”

“How did you meet their father, your mate?”

“He was a dragon from the south. We went there many times after the war ended. There are dragons there with riders. Something like Myranda and I. The riders belong to the dragons, the dragons belong to the riders. But it is not the same. The dragons and riders have rules, must behave certain ways. Not always the way they want to.” She grinned. “And they have strange names. They called him… what was the full name? Mikkalla and Shaal’s Terrible Green Gristle. Such a strange name.”

“The sort of name a breeder would give.”

“I suppose. His rider had a different name for him. Garr. That is what I call him now. He is away. Hunting. He will be back soon. You should be gone by then. He is very protective of the hatchlings.”

“He must be quite a dragon to pique your interest after all you’ve seen.”

“He is brave and strong. He fights well, and is more intelligent than many know. We had adventures together. He helped us. We helped him. We grew close. We became each other’s.”

“Touching. Tell me, do you still fly? Does Myranda fly with you?”

“I visit her often, and she visits me. We fly whenever we can.”

“Where is your favorite place to go flying?”

“I like the edges of places. The places where one thing becomes another. I like to fly along the mountains where they turn to snow, or where they turn to forest. And the sea. I like to fly where I can see the waves lap against the shore. And I like to fly near to the clouds, so with a swoop I can be above, looking at the stars, and another swoop I am below, looking down at the roads and the fires. Garr likes to fly over the desert, but I do not. It is all the same, so large, so boring. Give me the edges. He can take the middle.”

“Have you ever thought of going back to Entwell?”

“I would very much like to. Solomon is there. He was the first dragon I knew. He taught me so much of what it was to be a dragon. He would be proud of what I have become. He was proud of what Myranda had done for me, even before he taught me the things Myranda couldn’t.”

“What sort of things did he teach you?”

“There are things… It is hard to explain if you are not a dragon. There are right and wrong ways to breathe fire. Ways to make it hotter, to blast it further. Ways to make it more precise. And there are ways to see, too. More than other creatures do. And to hear, and to smell. He helped me learn to fly. There are many things only a dragon can teach.”

“Do you know that Deacon believes he can never return to Entwell?”

“He believes he has done some crime, some terrible thing. He says they will not allow him to return.” She raised her head somewhat. “He is very intelligent. He has spent his life learning, but sometimes I think he is a fool as well. He has done so much. He has helped to save this world. I believe they will forgive him. I do not know that they ever truly did not forgive him.”

“If he asked you to, would you take him there? Through the mountains, or perhaps over them?”

“The cave of the beast… I do not know that I would want go there again. But if Myranda needed me to, or Deacon, then perhaps. But it floods. And I do not like water.” She said. “The winds above it are treacherous, tricky. I could make it, but I do not know if a passenger could. Of course, Myranda and Deacon are both strong, they are wizards. I believe they could, and I would gladly help them. I would speak to Solomon, and the strong wizard who fed me, Azriel. I would tell them the things Deacon did. He belongs to me, after all. If he wishes to return home, I should help him do it. But if they wish, I will gladly stay with them in Kenvard. It is our home too.”

“I suppose that answers all of my questions, save one. Though it is a rather odd one.”

“I have answered all. Why not one more?”

“Do you know Spyro?”

“The name is not familiar.”

“He is a small purple dragon of some renown in other worlds.”

“I know a small purple dragon. A female hatchling further up the mountain. But her name is Gleed.”

“Nevermind then. A silly question. Thank you for your time, Myn. I’m sure your answers are of great interest to a great many.”

“You are welcome.”

“Would you like me to answer any of your questions now?”

“Perhaps another time. For now I shall tend to more important matters. Travel safely,” Myn said. She stood, sending cascades of gold to the ground. “Come, little ones. Perhaps today is the day you fly…”

Well, that’s that. I hope it was satisfying. I know a lot of these questions have been burning the minds of readers for some time. I was really hesitant to have Myn speak at all, but it seemed unfair not to.

If you’ve got any other questions for any other characters, the poll is always open.

Thanks for reading!

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The Return of Between!

Very few people seemed to have an opinion on Between, my weekly serial project that I created to use all of the ideas I considered too bad to use elsewhere, but I really liked the idea of a project with a rapid turnaround. Keeping to a schedule is something I’ve never been great at, so doing a weekly project and having readers be able to chat with me about how it is developing seemed like a good way to work on that.

You can read chapter 9 of the story on Wattpad by clicking here. In the past I’ve also posted them here on the site, but since I don’t update my site every week, I felt it might bury the news posts pretty quickly, so right now it’s just on Wattpad. If you think I should toss it up here, then I’ll do that too.

I also wrapped up the first eight chapters into a quick and dirty ebook to share with some of my beta readers, and that seemed to work pretty well, so I might collect up story arcs and make them into books to give away as newsletter perks or something. We’ll see.

The plus side of making that ebook, though, is the fact that it earned me some fun fan art, and inspired me to get a cover done. The cover is still in the process of being created, but here’s the fan art. Rill and the Overseer by CatseaTheDevil!

overseer_by_catseathedevil-d7xmsnz rill_by_catseathedevil-d7xmho7

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Starting a New Chapter

I’d like to share a little video with you, if I may…

Thursday, September 4th, 2014 was my last day at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the fabled “Day Job” that has sustained me for just over nine years. For a long time the books have been earning more money than the day job, but stubbornness, paranoia, and inertia had conspired to keep me doing IT for HBCBSNJ, on behalf of IBM, via ICS. (Far too many acronyms in that job.) Well, not any more. Now I’m an author and nothing else. God willing, I’ll stay that way for the rest of my days, or at least a good long while. In about a week I’m going to work out a routine that should keep my nose to the grindstone enough to take full advantage of the extra hours I’ve freed up, while still giving me the time to do a load of things I used to dismiss as impossible. I’ve got a lot of fun new projects right around the corner, and some old projects that went away due to lack of time are going to come back.

It’s an exciting time, and I have all of you to thank.

Seriously, you made this possible. You are the ones who are keeping me fed. You are paying my bills. Every day that I wake up and do what I choose and what I love is because of you. I cannot thank you enough, and I’ll do my very best to prove to you that your support has not been misplaced. Now I have just one more favor to ask, but I assure you, it’ll be worth your while.

If you’re visiting this site, you’re interested in knowing what I’m doing. And now that I’m relying entirely on the books to keep my head above water, it behooves me to make sure that you know whenever I’ve done something that you might like. To that end, I’ve instituted the Newsletter Perk system. Here’s the deal, on my contact page (or right here) you’ll find a signup for my newsletter. Anyone who signs up from now on is going to get a perk, something non-subscribers don’t have access to. Every now and then I’ll swap out the perk for something new, moving the old one out for the rest of the world to see. So if you are signed up, you’ll get to see lots of stuff that other people will have to wait for. And we’re not talking little things. Here’s a glimpse at the first perk:

Not even done, and still gorgeous

Not even done, and still gorgeous

That’s the work in progress of a desktop wallpaper by the cover artist, the one and only Nick Deligaris. If you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll get the finished version of this background right now in a variety of sizes. You see how detailed Myranda is? In the finished version, everybody looks that good. And all you have to do is sign up to get the updates you were already interested in. Win win!

Now, if you decide you don’t want another email in your mailbox every time I’ve got something new, that’s fine. You can always visit the site or go to any of my many social network pages. You’ll eventually get every perk the newsletter folks get, just a little bit later.

Once again, I thank you. My life is changed in a way I’d never imagined possible, and you did it. Now to get started on that next chapter…

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