Urg, Stick to the Plan!

Our monthly D&D session last week had another fun bit of chaos I thought I would use this week’s blog post to share with you all.

Setting the Scene

Our group of intrepid explorers was waiting for information from their contacts in Skullport, so they decided to spend the time exploring the other side of the river. Deciding to brave the gondola guided by the tiefling skeleton, the group stumbled across a dark cave where a young boy and a goblin were imprisoned.

After some investigation, they discovered the boy had been washed down into Undermountain. His friend escaped the sea’s pull, while he was swept away and captured by some hags. They sent the goblin on his way and freed the boy. He lingered in the back as the group prepared to engage the hags, poking around in murky pools. One slimy hand emerged, then another, and a hideous hag dragged herself from the water.

Fully prepared for a fight, her polite inquiries caught the group off guard, and they stutteringly shifted to conversation mode. After providing some brief information, she ushered the group on their way, out toward the river and away from the yet-unexplored cave in the back.

The Plan

Their boat was back at the other beach downriver. They were left with two options: swim or try to go back through the hag’s territory. It was unlikely the entire group could sneak through the cave, but their rogue, Ashe, might be able to make it. Taking their signal whistle in case he ran into problems, Ashe made it through the main cavern and back to the caves further in, intending to bring the boat upriver to the group.

He there faced a choice. To the right was the way back to the boat. To the left was the unexplored section of the cave. Being the aspiring legendary thief, he naturally went left and ended up at a large cavern filled with shipwrecks piled high on one side. A ship’s figurehead looked on from across the room, and a well-preserved Crowsnest towered high over the pile.

Curious as to what might be contained within, Ashe began to climb the pile toward the platform above. About ten feet from his goal, the figurehead behind him, a banshee, began to wail. The piercing sound echoed through the chamber and down the halls. Ashe dropped back down and ran.


While Ashe sprinted down the unfamiliar corridors, his party argued.

“That’s our cue,” Urg stated, spoiling for the previously averted fight.

“He said he would use the whistle,” countered Anakis. “That is not the whistle.”

“Yeah,” Rose agreed. “He’s fast, like me. He can get to the boat, and we should be here when he returns so he doesn’t get lost looking for us.”

Urg shook his head. “We can’t just leave him. I’m going.” So saying, he took off running toward the source of the wailing.

Ashe ran toward the boat. Urg ran toward the sound. The party stood on the shore muttering about bad decisions.

As Urg approached the source of the cacophony, it suddenly cut off. “Ashe?!” he called out.

The only response was the clicking and scraping of chitinous legs on stone.

“Uh oh,” he thought and turned to run again, this time toward where they had left the boat.

The End

Not really, but that is all the time I have for blogging today, so tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion to this comedy of errors!

Happy weekend all!

My Own Murder

Life has been overwhelming of late…still. I have been piling too much on my plate, and I realized after the fact that I even missed doing a blog post last weekend! This packed schedule will pass, but not for some time yet.

What am I doing?

I’m working on getting my new business off the ground. The process starts with bleeding money, never having enough time, and always being on the job. From there, it progresses to bleeding less, thinking you have some downtime (but not really), and telling yourself you need to be off the clock sometime. After that, it slowly works to some semblance of balance, or what you come to believe balance looks like.

As of today, I’m still in the second stage. Most of my time is spent on the phone (yuck!), managing people, or dealing with all the admin behind the scenes. I spend a lot of time in my cave of an office when I’m not out in the field helping with the work or driving between job sites.

The office is not really a cave, it has windows, but the ones where I work have the tint film on them, making even sunny days seem cloudy. To keep myself from becoming a zombie, I make it a point to go outside periodically to take in the weather and warm my bones in the sun if it is a nice enough day.

New Friend

There is a crow that hangs around outside. I think it is the same one, and I’m choosing to believe so, regardless of any evidence. Its name is Mark, and I have been trying to make friends with it. There is a slightly mangled slice of bread in the loaf at the office specifically set aside for this purpose.

Thus far, my offers of friendship remain open and unaccepted. My presence is greeted with trepidation, and Mark flies away before I can fully present my bread-ball gifts. I don’t know if Mark returns to partake of the snacks or if the little sparrows hanging around have been hoarding the bounty.

Either way, I will continue my efforts. Mark will appreciate my generosity and tell his crow friends. When you see the car driving around with a murder of crows following in its wake, you will know I have achieved my goal. Okay, maybe I don’t want them associating my car with me, but I will figure that out once I make friends with Mark.

Photo by u042eu0440u0430 on Pexels.com

One step at a time. Happy weekend all!

Early Mother’s Day

The sun is finally out in Washington, and it emerged with a vengeance. There are some in my life who dread the heat, especially at night when trying to sleep. I, on the other hand, have been ready for these temperatures for at least a month. There might be some thunderstorms tomorrow, but other than that, the upcoming week is looking wonderful. I will enjoy it while it lasts.

Today, we spend a fair portion of the afternoon indoors at an early Mother’s Day lunch. We like to go out on Saturday rather than Sunday to avoid the restaurant rush. No one likes waiting, and the packed establishments become very loud with everyone crammed in together. It is much easier to schedule a leisurely meal a day early to enjoy our time together instead of adding frustration.

This year, my sister is adding some Mother’s Day joy to another family. She has long desired to give of herself (literally) in some way. She donates blood, is on the marrow registry, and even tried to donate a kidney once. That last one did not work out, but late last year, she connected with a couple looking for a surrogate, and things progressed from there.

It is sweet to see their excitement through interactions with her. Their mingled hope and fear at the start developed into a general excitement. Within the coming month, she is due, and the parents are fully prepared to drop everything and drive the three hours up from Portland if she goes into labor early. I’m betting on two weeks from tomorrow.

Pregnancy has risks, and I will always worry about what she is taking on with such an undertaking, but she is happy and content with her decision and has the support through the surrogacy process that she needs. I could never do it, but I’m glad she has had the opportunity to give this gift to someone.

On that note, happy Mother’s Day to all!

Hidden Promise Cover Reveal!

If you signed up for my newsletter, you got a peek at this last month. For everyone else, the much-anticipated cover art for Hidden Promise is below!

But First

The artist for the first two books was Jonathan Lebel. Unfortunately, he was unavailable to continue the series this year. At some point, I will likely redesign all four covers to make them more fantasy-action images to highlight a battle scene or something dramatic. These initial covers are the grand images in my mind encompassing key moments just before or after. I imagine them as epic scenes like the one in The Fellowship of the Ring where the fellowship is cresting the hill just after they begin their journey. These covers are for me. They are emotional moments for my characters that I shared with them as I wrote. 

With Jonathan’s departure, I wanted to find an artist who could continue to capture these scenes with the same feelings while bringing their personality to the final product. I searched online and had many talented artists reach out to me via Twitter. From them all, Miguel Lobo’s work stood out to me as embodying similar fantasy worlds with light and character. 

Those are trees with mountains in the background. I’m getting better at drawing. If you don’t believe me, go look at the reveal post for Hidden Memory.

I again shared my stick figure drawing with examples and a scene description. This image is a look into the fairy sanctuary. The trees are enormously tall, so I envisioned them like sequoia trees. The time is early morning while the sun remains hidden below the horizon as the group is arriving within the habited areas after the final events of Hidden Sanctuary. Annalla has entered a home she never knew, a home she has heard about only in stories. 

Introducing Miguel Lobo

Miguel took it all and came back with an amazing first draft. He called it a sketch, but it was well beyond that to my eye. You will see the final product in just a short scroll further.

Miguel Lobo is an artist in Portugal. From his ArtStation account here, you can see some of the images that drew me to his work for this project. You can also find him on Instagram @miguellobo_art if that is your preferred application. 

Without further delay, here is the cover for Hidden Promise!

As a reminder, Hidden Promise will increase in price after its release, so preorder your ebook today to get the discount!

Sports Saturday!

After three events and over twenty thousand steps, I am still tired from yesterday!

The day began early with the Jamboree for the Federal Way National Little League teams. My company (not the author one) sponsored the organization this year, so I arrived early with my mascot to celebrate and support the players. As my mascot has a giant globe for a head, yesterday being Earth Day was a bonus.

From there, I scooped up my nephew, and we headed to
Seattle for an extended double-header of soccer. The OL Reign played at 12:30 at Lumen Field. They started strong, with two early goals from Balcer, but they kept letting the Red Stars back in the game. There are some things to look at on the defensive side, but the scoring came through on the day with a final score of 5-2. For a team that has struggled to put away their shots, this was a nice change.

After a bit of rain at the start, the sun came out for the Reign.

I called the day an “extended double-header” because we had about five hours between games to kill. Dinner would take up some before the Sounders played at 7:30, but a good chunk of available time remained. Earlier in the week, I saw an ad for the WNDR Museum in Seattle. The pictures looked cool, so I thought we would check out the art. Unfortunately, this one has put me off of future “art experiences.”

The price was steep, coming in over $70 for one adult and one youth admission. I saw this on the website in advance and have been to museums worth such admission prices. This was simply too small to justify the price tag. The main attraction had a separate waitlist clocking in at over two hours. I could have spent two days at the WWII museum in New Orleans, but the WNDR was smaller than the brewery restaurant we went to for dinner. You could read everything, interact with each section, and still not add up to the wait for the main event. My nephew was nowhere near entertained enough to stretch it out that long.

We gave up waiting, I kissed my money goodbye on a lesson learned, and we went to get some ice cream instead. Next time, I’m saving my $70 and will take it to Pike Place Market instead. I would have loved to try some of the items there, maybe getting a gift or two. We walked from the museum to the market, then back past the stadium for dinner, meeting up with the rest of the family.

Our evening capped off with a Sounders victory. At 1-0, and the goal not coming until around the seventy-ninth minute, the game was not nearly as decisive, but it was fun either just the same. Back to the light rail for the ride home, and I had passed the twenty-thousand-step mark for the day. With his shorter legs, I’m sure my nephew exceeded my number.

I need a nap just thinking about it again!