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!
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 Promisewill increase in price after its release, so preorder your ebook today to get the discount!
There are three parts of my life, and I’m not talking physical, spiritual, and essential this time (if you get that reference, thank you for reading my books and leaving a review!). I have writing, my personal life, and the job paying the bills. In that order, I write progressively fewer specifics about what is happening.
On the job front, this week was rough. I feel overwhelmed, wrung out, and a bit dejected. Feeling this way in one area tends to bleed over and make me feel behind in others, so I will keep this week’s post shorter to help me “catch up.”
For your reading pleasure, here are a few highlights and upcoming events:
The book cover is complete! It will be shared here and on social media in two to four weeks, but it is going out in the newsletter today! You might have another hour or two, as of this writing, to sign up and see it first.
My new artist did a wonderful job of aligning with the feel of the other series covers while bringing his own artistic touch. The art is beautiful, and the scene gives you the tiniest glimpse into the fairy sanctuaries.
Events & Book Signings!
I have three events lined up to sell signed copies of my books already this year:
This is an annual event hosted by Crescent Moon Gifts. They are “Washington’s largest metaphysical gift shop and healing arts center,” and this event brings in vendors both metaphysical and fantastical.
The faire is moving to Monroe this year after outgrowing the previous location in Bonney Lake. I hope most of the regular faire goers can still attend at this new location as well as many additional people with the expanding capacity.
Hidden Promise Release!
I have eight chapters to polish this weekend and most beta adjustments are complete. My editor is prepared to receive the manuscript on Monday, and I only hope I don’t have to stay up too late Sunday to get it to her. I’m on schedule with some buffer time to give the editor corrections a good review as well, so we are on track for the June release.
The release date listed is for the ebook. The paperback will take another week or two, depending on how many fixes I need to do to the formatting based on my test copies (once they are shipped and received). You can preorder the ebook at a discounted price now. It will go up after release. For the paperback, I can’t do preorders, and pricing and such all depend on printing costs. More to come.
This post ended a bit longer than I expected, but there is a lot going on! I also wanted to say “thank you” to everyone who has left a review on my books. On Amazon, I am currently at 38 reviews for Hidden Memory and 21 for Hidden Sanctuary. My goal is to hit the magical number of 50 this year, and I can’t do that without your help and support.
Yesterday I hosted one of our periodic Saturday D&D sessions. They are always fun, with way too many salty and sugary snacks to munch on and ruin our dinner, which we eat even though we are still ninety percent full. In general, it is always a good time had by all, with enough breaks to satisfy our need for generic conversation between bouts of role-playing.
My books came up at some point (yay!). I am happy to report my alpha reader is “enjoying the fourth book so far.” The combination of discussing my books and an article my partner is reading about the art of game mastering set us thinking about the different approaches needed for a player audience compared to a reading audience.
I believe the article he is reading was written by The Angry GM, as he follows that creator for TTRPG content. The article referenced how the GM should present the facts to the players: what their PCs (player characters) sense or perceive. However, they should not provide what the PCs intuit. My second-hand understanding is that the argument for this is that a TTRPG, by its nature, can only challenge the players mentally. Making intuitive connections for them takes away from that challenge.
Writing for my readers, I am presenting the story and the characters. My characters must figure out the puzzles and face the challenges thrown in their path. The reader joins Annalla on her journey, perceiving the world through her experience and thoughts. They might figure something out before her and feel proud when their assumption proves correct, or they could be surprised by a curve I throw their way. Perhaps my character’s thoughts or actions reveal a twist to them that they did not intuit with the meager literary breadcrumbs provided.
For writing my books, it does not matter as much if the reader catches those clues or not. My cleverly laid trail will reveal itself eventually. Perhaps the books deserve another read-through to find all the little pieces missed on the first pass that become so clear at the end. Some of my favorite books include this aspect, and it does not even need to be a massive twist. Sometimes the smallest reveals are the most memorable.
Unfortunately, when it comes to my D&D game, I need the players to put the clues together, and the task is made more challenging with a boxed campaign. With a homebrew campaign, I could utilize common references, but with a pre-made campaign, I must try to translate to our common references where I can or hope they do at least some investigation.
I told my players multiple times they should not treat this dungeon like a run-and-gun, first-person shooter. Each level is like a little town with factions, social dynamics, the town proper, and the outskirts. If they run through the place fighting everything and everyone they come across, they will end up with a total party wipe and effectively lose the game.
After facing a large group of hostile Drow in the prior session, they started the day by scouting to get the lay of the land. They found the river and some rafts, evidence of fighting, evidence of Drow killing troglodytes, more Drow watching the river, and a good size hobgoblin patrol guarding one area. Their eventual decision is to lure the hobgoblins into an ambush so they can get past them. It’s not a bad decision, and I liked the planning that went into the approach and thinking about using their scouting and the terrain to their advantage. They also had some hostile encounters with hobgoblins on prior levels, so assuming hostility was not unwarranted.
However, there are two lingering concerns in my mind. First, they did not really interact much with the breadcrumbs left for them. The biggest oversight was the evidence of fighting throughout the tunnels. They asked if they could discern anything from the blood on the floor, but only once when they peeked at it from around a corner, down the hall across the room. “No, you are too far away.” They did not ask again.
DM: “You see a fork in the road with a signpost between the paths hidden behind some brush.”
Players: “We go to the right.”
Part of the problem was the troglodytes. Their presence likely pushed an incorrect assumption on the players. While they are perfectly fine questioning me at every turn, they firmly believe their assumptions are infallible. I can try to minimize the troglodyte red herrings, but the other issue is for them to address before I stop beating them over the head with the breadcrumbs and start leaving the trail as intended.
The second concern came when the attempt to lure the hobgoblins out failed. Instead of chasing, they called out, “Who goes there?” When the unexpected happens, you often have three options: fight, flight, or freeze. In reaction terms here: attack them, flee to regroup, or hold your ground and have a chat. In my opinion, you can always attack. That should generally be the last course of action because it effectively eliminates your other options. After attacking, you can’t talk to them, you limit your ability to escape, and potentially add another enemy to a growing list.
Any conversation, no matter how short, is an opportunity for information gathering. Rather than talking, though, the players effectively said, “Well, the ambush is off. Charge!”
We only play once a month, so I cannot expect them to follow the long, meandering trail of information without some guiding lights from me. However, the immediate, in-session breadcrumbs bear a reasonable expectation of being gleaned and followed.
I will not remove this aspect and nerf the levels to allow for a run-and-run playstyle, as I don’t think that kind of game is fun for long. The little clues make the world more alive and engage the players’ minds. As the article (as told to me) said, rolling a fourteen on a D20 is not a challenge for the players. It’s the little puzzles and discoveries making up the meat of the game. If we don’t find the happy balance, the Half-Pints will become lost in Undermountain forever, disappearing as so many adventuring parties before them.
Managing multiple demands can be challenging, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I mentioned in another post about starting a business, and for the last six weeks, I have been in “kick-off” mode to get it moving forward. On top of that, the third book in my series, Hidden Promise, is due for release in less than three months. I have to finish it and decide on a new cover artist.
For the first couple of weeks, I was putting all my time into this and paying attention to nothing else. My stress elevated, my sleep depleted, and I knew it would be unsustainable. I can’t run at that speed and not burn out, so I had to find a better balance.
My first step was to assess my goals and identify the ones I was okay failing at. I’m a perfectionist, and this is one of the most difficult things for me, but when you have twenty hours of work and only ten hours in which to do it, some things will fall to the bottom. I had to decide what those were for me, and look at potential partial successes instead of “winning” at everything. While I’m still putting in a lot of hours, this has helped me carve out and recover a little time.
I have received some great beta reader feedback and started working out ideas for revisions and adjustments. Fortunately, I have great alpha readers, so it will not require major rewrites. I would have liked another one or two beta readers to get some eyes on it, but I’m out of time. I have one month to squeeze in enough hours for the changes, and I will need every moment.
My manuscript upload is due the first week of June, so I need it back from my editor with time to do a final review of the edits and corrections. Once I hit the “Publish” button on this one, I might take it easy on writing for the rest of June before starting up on my next project. My alphas already have Hidden Strenght to read, and this next book will be YA/NA genre, so closer to the 50-80k word mark instead of the 95-120k I have been writing.
Time will tell. Who knows if I can actually mentally sit still for a whole month.
One of the most important things I do to manage multiple demands is to make time for self-care. I am striving to reprioritize spending time with loved ones. My husband and I halted our daily walks for a while since I was working so late, but we started back up again. Even if we shorten it to a smaller block, it is worth the time to step away, talk, and unwind.
Ultimately, managing multiple demands requires patience, discipline, and knowing when to be flexible. It’s important to be kind to yourself and to recognize that you can do less if you burn yourself out than by setting boundaries. I guess time will tell if I’m finding the right balance.
Sounders game this morning, and I’m trying to get at least another hour of revising in today. Happy Saturday, all!
You may have seen the post on Facebook recently where I announced that the artist for the first two books in my series is unavailable to continue with the third. I will eventually need to change all the covers to something more “action scene” oriented, but I have always wanted the first runs to be more artistic. These magnificent scenes played out in my head as the world came to life within my imagination.
Jonathan Lebel did amazing work taking my stick figures and descriptions and turning them into beautiful imagery.
The first is a scene from early in Hidden Memory when Annalla is still within the traken forest. She has her borrowed blade and boots, with her wings wrapped around her.
The second is from Hidden Sanctuarywhen Annalla arrives at the river crossing. This is just before the events unfold (you know which events I’m referring to if you have read this one).
Onto the Third
I want to continue in this same vein for the third and fourth before I look at shifting the style of all four, so the hunt is on for a new artist who can capture the same grandeur of my fantastical world. The cover of Hidden Promisewill be an image of their arrival in the sanctuary, flying through and providing a glimpse of how and where the people live.
My terrible sketch and description have gone to one artist, and I have reached out to a few others, so I hope to have a cover to show you in the April newsletter. It might be out a little later than my usual mid-month Saturday, but I hope it will be worth the wait.
As for the cover of the fourth, you will have to wait until next year for more information on that one!
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