Mistress Of The Ages

And no, this isn’t the final cover…

Since I’ve gotten so many questions on this lately, I figured I should probably give a “here’s what’s going on” report on the next book of the IN HER NAME series, MISTRESS OF THE AGES.

The manuscript now stands at 35,000 words, and there’s a LOT of story left to cover! That brings me to the bad news is that it’s going to be a while yet before it’s ready. How long? I have no idea. All I can tell you is that I’ve been working on it consistently and am trying to keep life’s interruptions at bay as much as possible.

The good news is that I’m really liking how the story is coming along, and I’m hoping that you’ll find this not only to be a fitting conclusion to the First Empress saga, but I think it also may very well wind up being the best book of the trilogy.

So, that’s the scoop for now!

The Black Gate Is On The Street!

The Black GateIt’s official: The Black Gate has been published! While it hasn’t reached all the retail outlets yet and the print version will be a few weeks off, it’s on the street and ready for you to grab a copy!

It is early 1945 and Nazi Germany, reeling under the relentless onslaught of the Allied armies, looks to futuristic superweapons like jet fighters, V-1 buzz bombs, and V-2 rockets for its salvation.

But Peter Miller, an analyst at the headquarters of the Office of Strategic Services in Washington D.C., learns of a secret Nazi weapons project that may pose a far greater threat: the Black Gate.

Sent alone on a perilous mission into the heart of Germany in the guise of an SS officer, Peter discovers that Nazi scientists have recreated an ancient machine that opens a portal to another universe, a gate they believe literally leads to Hell.

With the help of Mina Hass, a beautiful woman who is also the lover and confidant of the madman leading the project, Peter must find a way to close the gate forever before the Nazis unwittingly unleash Armageddon…

Use the drop-down list below to pop over to your fave ebook retailer…and please do me a huge favor and let your friends know! Word of mouth from happy readers is always the best advertising! :-)

The Black Gate – Now Ready For Beta Readers!

The Black GateUpdate: I’ve chosen the beta readers – thanks to everyone for volunteering!!

Okay, The Black Gate is just about done. I’ll be working on the final editorial revisions today (Sunday, 21 September) and then picking a handful of victims, er, beta readers to see how they like it and polish it up a bit before it gets released.

So, if you’re interested in the job, just post a comment here on why you’d like to do it and why I should pick you! Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Anything that jars you out of the story, doesn’t seem to fit, etc. Basically, anything that detracts from the reading experience.
  • While you certainly do NOT have to feel compelled to edit the text, pointing out any bloopers you find is always welcome.
  • Please consider posting a review of the book wherever you would normally purchase it. Don’t ask me if your review is okay or for me to screen it, etc. – all I ask is that it would be like you’d write if you’d just picked up the book to read it.
  • The one major condition is that I will need your feedback not later than noon on Friday, 26 September so I can incorporate any changes in the final draft and upload the files to the distribution sites in hopes of getting the book on the street the following Monday or Tuesday ( depending on publisher lag time). As always, ebook versions will be available first, followed by print in a few weeks.
  • Oh, and the most important thing is to tell all your friends so they can buy a copy when it comes out to keep me and my family from starving!

As always, thank you so much in advance for volunteering your time and red ink to improve my writing skills! :)

P.S. For my friends on Facebook and Twitter who have already expressed interest, you don’t have to double up with a comment here if you don’t want to, but it wouldn’t hurt to remind me again of your interest, LOL!

A Whole Freakin’ Year???

I came to a shocking realization yesterday: it’s been almost a YEAR since I published my last book, Reaping The Harvest. I knew it had been a while, that I’d gotten caught up in our  laid back Jimmy Buffet-esque Florida lifestyle, but I hadn’t realized it had been that long. Okay, sure, The Black Gate is almost ready to go out the door, but while I think you’ll enjoy it, it wasn’t a monumental project that should have taken that long.

So, my apologies, dear readers, for being such a slacker. I promise you here and now – and this is from me, personally, not as “an author” – that I won’t do that again. I’ll also toss out what I hope is some good news: the rough draft of the first chapter of Mistress Of The Ages is done! And I’ve also decided that, no matter how long the rest of Keel-Tath’s story turns out to be (there’s easily enough plot for more than one book), I’m not going to stop working on it until it’s finished. If it winds up being horrendously long, I may (or may not) decide to divide it up into more than one book, but I’m not going to take any more breaks to work on other stuff until it’s finished.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy The Black Gate – it should be out in another couple weeks after I get the final editorial revisions back and then send it off to the beta readers!

Out On The Road, Expanding My Comfort Zone

My wife and I have been out on our annual summer RV vacation since early June, which is the main reason I’ve been fairly quiet of late (and no, I haven’t forgotten that I have books to write, believe me!). This year we’ve been touring through New England, and have seen and done a lot of amazing things and visited some magical places. We’ve also been through the usual assortment of hair-raising situations that might make saner folk question just what the heck they were doing out on the road in the first place!

As Bilbo Baggins once told Frodo, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.” I think Bilbo must have had a lot of experience with RV travel, and I’m tempted to have that quote painted on the side of our rig.

There was more than one occasion during this summer’s trip (well, and most of the trips we’ve taken before) when I thought to myself, “Just what the HELL am I doing out here?” This thought would usually run through my mind in such joyful situations as driving through a straight (or, even better, turning) construction zone with barrels, cones, and/or Jersey barriers positioned no more than a foot away from either side of the rig, although at the time it seemed like only inches. Or grinding up (or, worse, zooming down) steep, twisting country roads with blind turns. At night. In pouring rain. With hail. And meteors. Or trying to squeeze the rig through narrow streets of quaint little towns that would be a tight fit for my bicycle, because the GPS said that was THE best route to get to our destination. The infernal device, which I call Gertrude, forgot to mention that we needed vaseline to get through. Or our destination was intentionally located by its proprietors in such a difficult to access area that guests would never want to brave the hellish roads to leave and would stay forever (cue up Hotel California by the Eagles). The RV park where we’re staying right now has its own graveyard. I kid you not.

So why do my wife and I go through this self-inflicted hell on wheels, rather than just staying at home in Sarasota, floating in the pool with tropical drinks with little umbrellas in hand?

Because, to us, the rewards have justified the madness. It doesn’t matter so much that we’re in an RV, as opposed to driving a car or flying and staying in a hotel (although we prefer RV travel because it’s our own place with our own stuff, and we can take the cats). What matters is that we’re out experiencing the world, warts and all. We’ve seen so many places and done so many things that so many people never get around to. And every time we go somewhere, we come away with the thought, “Wow! There’s so much more to see and do here!” And while driving The Beast can be a challenge, I can also look back and say, “Hey, I did that – and survived!” It’s a confidence builder, and certainly has given us lots of great fodder for stories to tell over a good meal with friends.

Beyond that, it’s the mental attitude, which takes you far beyond traveling the highways and byways in an RV. The words of John F. Kennedy’s “We chose to go to the moon speech” come to mind:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…

I thought about Kennedy’s words a great deal when my books took off back in 2011 and I was faced with the opportunity to leave my career government job and begin a new career as a full-time author. But that meant leaving all the security and benefits – a stable and pretty much guaranteed income, excellent health care, and good retirement benefits – of my government job behind. By contrast, working as an author has no guarantees. I have no idea what my income may be next month or the month after that, and I have no idea how well any given book will do when it’s published. I have no retirement plan beyond what I choose to make for myself. Our health benefits are far more expensive than as a Federal employee. I do everything for the business, from writing the books to doing the taxes, and sometimes – like driving the RV – it drives me nuts. And everything is uncertain; there is no safety net. In short, it meant that I, and my family with me, made the decision to step out onto Bilbo’s fabled Road in a big way.

It would have been very easy not to. I could have stayed comfortably in my Hobbit hole, just as it would be comfortably easy to stay in our house and not venture out in our RV. But had I done that, I would never – at least until I retired in another dozen or so years (with the understanding that tomorrow is guaranteed to no one, and those days may never have come) – have been able to do the things we’ve done these past few years.

Far too many people let life pass them by because they’re afraid to test the boundaries of their comfort zone, and I’m not just talking about travel. It’s about making the most that you can of life. It’s about doing the things that you want or need to do, but that mean taking some measure of risk. You’re afraid you won’t succeed, or in some cases you’re afraid you will and aren’t sure if you can handle it. I can’t tell you if you’ll make it or not, and you should never let anyone else tell you that, either. But I can tell you this: if you never try, if you never open the door to your Hobbit hole and set foot upon the Road or look up at the moon and decide to do what is hard, you’ll never, ever know.