Fall Festi-Con Fair

This afternoon, 9/24/22, I will be back in my Renaissance garb to chat about my books to anyone who will stop to listen. The idea fills me with both dread and anticipation. I always have to psyche myself up for a lot of human interaction. It is not where my energy comes from, and I continue to battle fits of shyness.

My excitement comes from all the people I have had the opportunity to chat with at other events this year. In February, I met my first fantasy fan excited to “meet the author.” Last month, people stopped by my tent to hear about my stories and ask about the world I created. The overwhelmingly positive and supportive response makes the next live event a little easier to approach.

The Fall Festi-Con Fair is hosted by the local independent bookstore, Page Turner Books, in Kent, Washington. More than a half-dozen authors across multiple genres and a local artist or two will be there. One of the authors will be giving a talk over at the bakery across the street. I will be there with a table at either the bookstore or comic shop right next door.

Deal of the Day

If you are in the area, stop by between 2- 7 pm. You can pick up both books together for a bundle discount. I will also be offering to honor the bundle pricing on the second book for anyone who picked up just the first at the Renaissance Faire. To get the Ren Faire deal, make sure to have your copy of the first book in hand! 

Call to Action

For readers who have already read through one or both books and enjoyed them, I ask that you consider going onto Amazon to leave a rating/review. Reviews are a critical factor in new authors gaining promotions, generating interest, and eventually being able to offer additional formats like audiobooks. Reviews are a simple, yet powerful way to support the authors of works you have enjoyed.

If you have the time and inclination, I’ve included the links below. You would go to the book’s page, scroll to the reviews, and click on “write a review.” It might be necessary to log in, so if you don’t have an Amazon account, Goodreads and Bookbub are additional review locations!

Final reminder: when I reach 40 total Amazon reviews, I will be adding a deleted chapter from Hidden Sanctuary to the website. I have a new webpage and some revisions in-work to get it out there. Fingers crossed that it functions as expected, but I need those ratings from you before I start the test!

As always, thank you for all your support!

Summer’s End

We are rapidly approaching what has been—for me—a whirlwind summer. Over the last month and a half, I have DMed at GenCon, gotten sick, sold at the Renaissance Fair, and hosted my brother’s family for their visit. While all this was happening, I have also been working on a significant career change.

After more than seventeen years in the corporate world, I want to explore being my own boss. While I would love for this to mean becoming a full-time author, I have nowhere near the backlist needed to make that a reality. Though, I’m working on it.

There are several options I’m exploring and putting effort into. I’m not sure where I will land, but I worked carefully for years to put myself in a secure enough position to make a change like this. It will work out. One way or another, I will do what it takes to move forward.

I also got a new “end of summer” haircut! Back to my bright red and trying out an undercut.

Reflection

If you had asked me a year ago where I would be today, my answer would have been incorrect. I was heading toward the publication date for my first book, hoping it would eventually reach and entertain fifty strangers. All the research and effort were coming together for that final deadline.

Not even a year later, I have already far surpassed my conservative goal of fifty readers. I met some amazing people at live events who are eager to read my work and excited to meet me. My goals for 2022 felt daring at the start of the year, and now I believe I will surpass them despite all my lingering doubts and imposter syndrome.

If there is one thing I would add to the list, it would be doing more short-length videos (Tik Tok, Reels, etc.). A kind marketing expert who stopped to chat with me at the Ren Faire suggested I just get in front of a camera and talk through some questions. The exercise would give me some video material with which to work. I might give it a try before the month is out.

Here’s to another beautiful summer!

Family Visit

My brother is in town this weekend with his family. Since they live in Florida, we don’t see them often. The time and cost of travel between the opposite corners of the contiguous USA are a bit prohibitive. Last summer, we went down in August to the heat and humidity. We fed a giraffe at the zoo, among other fun activities. This year, they are up here with us.

We went blackberry picking yesterday and will see if we can bake a pie with our haul tomorrow before the heat hits. My nephew ate his obligatory serving of berries along the way. While the pickings were not the best this year, I have seen them much worse. I estimate we have about two pies worth of filling in the refrigerator.

Today, my sister-in-law is casually running a half marathon. She was up early Friday morning to get in an eight-mile jaunt as a final preparation. I’m pretty sure I could walk a half marathon distance in one day. My legs would hurt the next day, but I could do it. I can’t imagine running that distance, though. Running the mile was unpleasant for me back in school, so I’m in awe of the drive it takes to complete these races.

She might have gone for the full marathon, but we have plans to attend the Sounders game tonight. We need to pick up a new Sounders shirt for my nephew, as he has grown out of his first one. Maybe I will get them to try some local brews along with the food trucks at tonight’s match. Unfortunately, the best beer place is all the way across the stadium from the food trucks, but maybe the new bar will be open and have some good selections.

Tomorrow we are having a BBQ with friends and family. My brother still plays online games regularly with a handful of the guys from our group. Most of them will be coming to do some catching up over burgers and brats. My parents are also bringing my grandmother, so she will get to spend some time with her other great-grandson on our side of the family. I hope they take some great memories with them when they leave.

Side Quest

*Quick reminder: I will be adding a deleted chapter to the website if I reach 40 total reviews for my books on Amazon, so if you have time, please consider going onto Amazon and leaving a rating/review. Thank you!*

I have been running Dungeon of The Mad Mage for my D&D group for about a year and a half of monthly sessions. To mix things up a bit and get them some extra XP for my sixth PC, I have added a little side quest to their Mad Mage delve. I’m calling it: the Nightmare King’s Realm, and it will consist of three “levels” accessed via three different levels of Under mountain.

Concept

These side quest levels are inserted as a game within the game. Each player created a new PC for their Mad Mage character to play. Too meta? Eh, even down the rabbit hole, it is still the player playing a PC. No need to overthink it. This is a chance to try something new or something you have not been able to play in a while. Massive dungeons can also feel stagnant, so this changes the game in a way that doesn’t disrupt the broader storyline.

Introduction

When asking about a specific magic item, one of my PCs was told of a realm that could provide you with any item you might dream. The catch was if you do not complete all three levels before a year and a day passes, then you will never leave. Your body disappears forever, and you become part of the game.

Curious, and wanting those magic items, the party traded for the key allowing them access to this mystical realm. The door to the first level was said to be on the dungeon’s third floor. As they approached the base of the stairs leading down, a glow drew them down a corridor.

At the base of the stairs, a tunnel comes into sight as Ashe draws near. You follow it a short distance to what appears to be a dead-end, but as you approach, an arched door shimmers into existence, glowing with a malevolent purple light. A detailed jungle carving glowing a sickly green takes up most of the door, with a plaque in the center engraved with words. ​

The carving details appear almost lifelike, as though a jungle wilderness opens incongruously before you through the end of this subterranean tunnel. While there is no door handle, a metal panel with a keyhole matching the metal of the key given to you is set where a handle should be.

Above the plaque, stylized lettering carved into the door reads: Welcome to Omu. The Forbidden City stands sentinel.

Stepping closer, you can make out the words engraved upon the plaque.

Withdrawing the key from your pocket, you look at your party one last time to receive their nods and shrugs of acceptance. You insert the key and turn it, hearing a faint click. The glow from the door flares, and your world turns black.

Mechanics

For the fun part… I’m running pieces from Tomb of Annihilation and Tomb of Horrors for these levels. There will also be no death saves. If your PC drops to zero hit points, they die. As this is a game within a game, there are respawn mechanics. I am not sharing those here though. some of this my players have to figure out as they go, and a couple of them read my blog posts.

Time passing in this game will also be different. Playtime and their actions in-game will translate to time passing in Mad Mage and tie back to the “year and a day” timeframe. There will be no rations or water needed, but some conditions will last specific in-game durations.

They will need to defeat enemies and monsters, solve puzzles, and find the keys to escape the level. If at first, they don’t succeed? Try, try again. Just don’t die too much. If certain conditions are met, it will not only be these PCs to suffer. They could end up killing their Mad Mage characters as well.

Elaria – Balance & Evolution

In Hidden Memory, the elves explain to Annalla the natural balance of the realm and how that balance is expressed through what they refer to as “balanced creation.” Elves versus gilar. Fairy versus vampires. Irimoten versus windani. In this post, I will share a little more about how this concept presents within Elaria. 

Good Versus Evil 

Sentient creatures in Elaria are drawn toward one side of this dichotomy or the other. While the specific definitions are difficult to pin down because of the myriad of factors that can influence a situation, these are real and tangible concepts in the realm. 

Elves are naturally inclined to act in “good” ways. They seek to live in balance and harmony with the world around them. An elf will place what is best for the whole over what is best for themselves. They are patient, thoughtful, and open-minded. Violence is not anathema to them, but it serves as a means to an end within these parameters. 

Gilar, in contrast, are naturally inclined to act in “evil” ways. They care about power and control and are driven by selfishness and greed. Individual goals, wants, and desires are the primary force behind their actions. They glory in violence and suffering and will torture their own weak for entertainment if it suits them.

So, if nature seeks balance and the elves promote balance, why were the gilar created? Because nature is messy. It evolves and changes, grows and renews. The elves, immortal and in harmony, were stagnant. There could be no more elves, and the world would not change. Essense pressed for new life, but it would not come to the elves without also bringing death.

Because nature is messy. It evolves and changes, grows and renews.

The essential forces driving life in Elaria surged in other parts of the world, seeking to balance the influence of the elves. Thus, the gilar came to be over time. They evolved, spread, and came into conflict with their elven neighbors as they sought death and destruction.

Nature of the Balances

To preserve the emergence of the initial race the balance created is always at a slight disadvantage from an individual conflict or combat perspective. The elves emerged first, and one-on-one, the elf will usually win. Despite the gilar being stronger, the elves are strong enough and have better speed and agility that more than compensates. The same is true comparing the most recent balance to emerge, the irimoten and windani. 

For the fairy and vampires, however, it was the vampires to first emerge into the world. The fairy are the balance. From the perspective of speed and agility in the air, the two races are closely matched with the fairy slightly edging out their opposite. Vampires have a sensory advantage, especially at night in the dark, and their venom is highly lethal to the fairy. 

While the elves and irimoten have no desire to press their advantage against their balance, the vampires did and hunted the fairy to near extinction. Only by leveraging their essential powers and connection to the realm were the fairy able to avoid such a fate. 

On the Dichotomy

As a final note today, I will share approximately where the races fall on the good/evil dichotomy in Elaria. 

Over the millennia, Elaria had been drifting slowly closer to the physical side of the power/force spectrum. The elves and gilar emerged earliest in history and most divergent from a good/evil perspective. As the realm drifted, the next pair emerged a little closer together. To put it in simplistic moral terms, the scope of concern of the fairy was slightly smaller than the elves and slightly larger for the vampires over the gilar. When the irimoten and windani emerged, those scopes had grown and shrunk respectively once more. 

This drifting toward the physical side is what allowed the connection with Earth and saw the humans and dwarves enter Elaria. Their presence may have kept the realm drifting in that direction, but another force was already at work. The magai connecting to and entering Elaria had already shifted the momentum of the realm. Elaria is now drifting back toward the magical side, but the movement is so gradual, that only some of the longest-lived elves might one day see the impact.