Happy December!

December 2nd, 2022

Greetings from Northern California where the weather has turned colder and wetter, though in no way wet enough to relieve the drought. Nevertheless, there has been some rain and the grass is slowly turning greener. I’ve planted wildflowers in several places and they seem to be germinating which is really exciting. I tried last year and nothing . . . except nine months later three or four surprises in one of the flowerbeds. This is why this time around I bought a rototiller and carefully prepped the soil per directions.

I say this all the time, but Bound in Smoke is going really well. As blog readers know, a couple of months ago I abandoned the attempt to make this series a My Immortals spin off. It just wasn’t working. At all. I have some thoughts about why. Oddly enough this decision happened in part while I was preparing the first two books in the My Immortals series for re-publication later this month after book 2 reverts to me in ::consults calendar:: 15 days. That work went really well. Pure editing and fixing that put me in a much better frame of mind about everything writing related. When I was done and had sent the books off for formatting, I spent some time thing thinking about my recent creative struggles and how this editing work was like the old writing me.

Long story short, and leaving out some details I’m not prepared to talk about yet, I asked myself what I would write if the WIP could be anything. And that’s when I decided that the series would not be in the My Immortals world. And once I made that decision, along with this other event, everything changed for the better. Bound In Smoke is about to hit 70K words which is essentially a done story, but more importantly, now all the usual-for-me plot developments are landing on the pages, and I have to say it feels good.

Assuming there are no further publisher shenanigans, expect to see the re-released first two books in the My Immortals series late this year or early next. It will take a bit to proactively send the reversions to the various vendors so there’s no misunderstandings about who has the rights.

I hope everyone enjoys the holiday period. Let me know how you’re doing.


Thanksgiving Wishes to All

November 24th, 2022

May everyone who celebrates the US Thanksgiving holiday have a safe and wonderful day.



My Immortals Update

October 29th, 2022

I have completed the revisions, cleaning up for My Wicked Enemy and My Forbidden Desire. I’ve sent the relevant files off to be formatted so that now off my plate!

Now it’s back to work on Bound in Smoke, which went a bit on the back burner while I finished up these two projects.

I hope everyone is doing well.


Reversions and Covers!

October 15th, 2022

Reversion News and New Covers

The first book in the My Immortals series, My Wicked Enemy, reverted to me a few weeks back. The second book (My Forbidden Desire) should revert in mid-December. As soon as I have that reversion, I will publish these books myself and, at long last, have full control of the series and its marketing. As you can see, I have already commissioned new covers that fit with the series as I’ve published them. The artist did a great job making covers that match the others.

Normally, I would not edit a reverted book, but with these I have, and both will be re-published as second editions. That editorial work is essentially complete now, and I am elated to produce editions that I love. Some of you may know that settling on a title for the first book was a fraught experience. The publisher’s suggestion was so terrible (in my opinion) that I told my agent if they insisted on that title, I would give the money back and take back the book. The book titles were a compromise. In a perfect world I’d retitle them all, but that would cause chaos and confusion that just isn’t worth it. The titles are sufficient.

Funny story. One time I was meeting with someone from a large tech company’s eBook division. This person looked at my covers for this series and made a face when he saw the first two, and I said, “There’s nothing I can do about those two covers.” He looked so relieved that he didn’t have to find a nice way to tell me those covers weren’t doing their job very well. Anyway, here’s a look at the two new covers and the new back cover copy.

My Wicked Enemy

Cover of My Wicked Enemy. Features a handsome sexy shirtless man looking right into your heart. Background is glowy purple.

Cover of My Wicked Enemy

The new back cover copy:

A demon warlord’s sworn enemy is the woman he desires more than anything in the world.

Carson Philips flees an abusive home only to encounter a man who claims he’s the demon Nikodemus, and she’s a witch who murders his kind. With deadly enemies of untold power in pursuit of her, Nikodemus may be her only hope for survival. Proving she’s not his enemy leads them to an intimacy so dangerous more than their hearts are at risk. She’s willing to follow where desire takes them, but is he?

Kill the witch and get on with his life. What could be simpler?

Nikodemus craves revenge on the magic users who enslave his people. The witch Carson Philips is just the first step toward the revenge he craves. But she’s not what he thinks and the longer he’s with her, the more entangled their hearts and their futures become. His people need his power to protect them, but if they won’t accept a warlord whose lover is a witch, will he lose her forever?


My Forbidden Desire


Cover of My Forbidden Desire featuring a sexy shirtless man with a hand on his head, elbow to the side so we can all appreciate his time in the gym. Background is a glowy green.

Cover of My Forbidden Desire

New back cover copy:

When hatred turns into forbidden desire. . .

A witch and a demon must trust the passion that binds them or risk annihilation.

A fierce and deadly demon, Xia isn’t happy when he’s ordered to protect a friend’s sister. He knows he’s perfect for a simple assignment that won’t take long. But dangerous forces are aligned against her, and they’re soon on the run from foes determined to see her dead. Before long, his fate and his heart are forever entwined with a woman who turns out to be the one thing he hates most in the world: a witch.

. . . who dares take the first step into dark passion?

Alexandrine Marit doesn’t believe she needs a bodyguard until the demons break in. If it weren’t for the gorgeous and very unpleasant Xia she’d be dead. As she fights to stay alive, she gives more than her heart to the demon who hates her.

Can they trust their hearts or will their enemies keep them forever apart?

Stay Tuned and Subscribe!

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Fall is Coming!

September 18th, 2022

As I write this, it’s been raining and there is more rain on the way. Here’s hoping for lots more. A couple weeks ago we had brutal heat. It reached 109F/43C here at the house and that is absolutely unheard of here. I’m hoping the plants that look dead or damaged from the heat come back . . .

tl;dr: Despite everything below, Bound in Smoke is going well and I have been steadily adding words that need to be there.

What about the Writing?

Yes, I am writing. I have spent the last several weeks attempting to be honest with myself about why it’s going so slow. I have worked through my grief about family losses — where “worked through” means accepting that grief is a never ending and always transforming condition. The issue I’m grappling with now has to do with a crippling internal editor. For some reason, when I’m writing, my head fills up with every single criticism ever made about my books and all the people who are just sure that the writing process that has seen me through nearly 50 stories is wrong and if only I would change my process everything would be smooth sailing. It’s hard to write when you think your writing is terrible and you’re also doing it wrong, and I just haven’t tried hard enough with a “mature” process.

Process Process WTF and Also Shut Up.

Anyway, I am not an outliner or pre-writer. A structured approached has never ever not once resulted in me finishing a book. So it’s easy enough for me to set aside process doubts. Besides, I’m fairly certain those doubts are tightly connected to the writing doubts, a side-effect of which is this: no one but me can criticize what I don’t publish. Entertaining process doubts sends me down rabbit holes of “writing” that doesn’t actually put words into a chapter. Verrrry convenient there, subconscious. Fortunately, I know that’s baloney. The bigger obstacle has been what feels like a disconnect between the joy of writing and the actual writing when all I can think is this is terrible terrible terrible. And I spend my time re-crafting sentences etc or just distracting myself with anything that’s not writing and maybe when I come back to it, I will see it’s not that bad. I know this typically means there is something wrong with my story concept–more to the point, I haven’t found the spark between the characters that drives the story.

It’s helped a lot that over the last year or so ideas about the story have come to be more and more often instead of hardly ever.


I had a private conversation with myself about the world I want for Bound in Smoke, and the books I want to write before I am too old and decrepit to write.  I told myself, fine. That is the world I will actually write, and that decision was freeing. And now the spark I need is showing up.




Two Movies I Loved

August 13th, 2022

I recently watched two movies that I absolutely loved. One of them I have watched four times. I’m planning a re-watch of the other.

Caves and Water: Thirteen Lives

The first one I watched was Thirteen Lives, directed by Ron Howard and starring Viggo Mortensen and Collin Ferrel in the main roles. This one is about the Thai soccer team that was trapped in a flooded cave. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it because I’ve never been much of a Viggo fan and I hate scenes where people are trapped in water. But I knew the movie would have a happy ending, so I decided to watch but was prepared to bail. I read a review of it that suggested it was just okay, and to that reviewer I say: WTF is wrong with you?  He literally missed the entire point of the movie in order to complain about the sound of air tanks scraping against cave walls.

This movie was just wonderful. Mortensen was amazing as was Ferrel and everyone else, to be honest. It hit every note I need these days: a happy ending, experts convincing skeptics that their expertise is real, overcoming life or death obstacles, and, the most important for me in these times, a reminder that people do come together for something more important than themselves. Everyone ends up being a better version of themselves.

As a technical matter, I thought Howard very deftly moved the movie along without getting bogged down in details. We see Rick being doubtful and skeptical about going to Thailand and then bam. In the next scene, the two men arrive at the cave.I loved that the movie spent time showing us the efforts of other people, from Thai locals and nationals to people from all over the world.

Two thumbs up. I’ve watched four times so far because I need that reminder that people can be good and selfless. And the story of how those boys were rescued is just a triumph of our best selves.

Women Who Don’t Need Your Fucking Help Thank you: Prey

I heard others talking about this movie, including a fine gentleman who complained about the main character (a woman) acting like a man and all the men being dufuses and how he didn’t think women could be competent at anything beside what he thinks is girl stuff. So yeah, I was in based on that alone. Besides I like some horror when it’s well done so I decided to watch Prey, a prequel to the Predator movies. I have never seen any of the Predator movies so I can safely represent that it’s not necessary to have seen any of them in order to enjoy this movie.

Trying to avoid spoilers here. Prey is set in early Colonial North America when an alien arrives to prove its mettle against the apex predators of North America. Naru, a young (female) Comanche realizes there is something out there and it’s dangerous. No one listens to her. There are some French trappers who also know there’s something out there. She does have a brother who believes in her. Naru is smart and observant: so so smart. She’s shown perfecting the physical skills she will be using as the movie progresses so she is not a Mary Sue as some a**holes have claimed.

I loved this movie. It’s cinematically beautiful and I loved, loved, loved Naru’s sheer competence and intelligence as she tracks and then encounters the predator in various situations.

Amber Midthunder is Naru and every second she’s on screen is enthralling. This movie may not be for everyone. If you don’t like scary, tense movies with some gore, then definitely not for you. But if you like horror/SciFi this is a near perfect example of the genre with stellar casting and action. Two major thumbs up. I intend to rewatch.

What movies have you recently seen that you loved?



Getting Organized Has Unexpected Benefits

July 24th, 2022

As you may know from an earlier post, in late June of this year, my website host disappeared from the web. I was able to recover everything on my main site thank goodness. The site I use to maintain evergreen links wasn’t quite so easy to recover, which I admit was totally my fault. But I was able to get the service up (YOURLS) and running and now I have a local database-driven system for keeping track of all manner of information about my books. Being forced to get organized has both expected and unexpected benefits. I am totally thrilled!

If you are an author and want some help with something like this, especially YOURLS, let me know. I’m happy to help.

Screenshot of a portion of a MySQL GUI. No, I'm not showing anyone the actual name of the database. Doh.

MySQL GUI screenshot


Now I have a book database that will generate all the links I need for a new book which is super handy. While I was at it, I added in tables for all my ISBNs and various required info when books get uploaded to the various vendors, and now all this stuff is essentially automated and is going to save me so much time I’m practically giddy. I hadn’t realized what a mental burden the inefficiencies were.

Don’t worry! All this was, at most and in total, maybe a day and a half of work. I do database work for a living so I know now to build and populate a database.

Technical Details for Nerds

Once I had the link service database up and running, the next challenge was to recreate the short links and load them into the database. Trying to rebuild them manually would have been an utter nightmare and likely months of work. Instead, I built a local database designed to generate the flat files needed for a mass-upload plugin available for the service. My internal system for naming the short links meant I already knew the vast majority of the short links I needed to make and only needed to get the vendor URLS, which I already had in a spreadsheet. Once that was done, it only took a second (literally) to generate the csv files required for the plugin. It took way longer to upload the files via the plugin than it did to generate a file of hundreds of links. After that, all I needed to do was manually enter a handful of short links I’d made that didn’t conform to the standard.

This work uncovered a situation with two books where a vendor URL had inexplicably changed at the vendor and/or disappeared from the vendor site. I was able to fix both those, in one case with the assistance of the vendor’s tech support.

This weekend I installed MySQL locally, restored a backup of my short links database, and started building and testing the queries to do some direct backend updates related to cleaning up a test upload and doing future updates. SQL Server syntax is just different enough from MySQL syntax that I had to keep googling for the MySQL syntax but this morning I issued two of my backend updates.

Now I have the pieces in place to test my planned batch update process, and I’m actually pretty excited about having that capability since YOURLS isn’t set up to deal with the kind of short link system an author is likely to need; the ability to batch update a vendor URL from the pre on-sale URL to the on-sale URL, for example, across multiple short urls. I did have a plugin that was supposed to do this, but it was clunkier than I liked, and this is going to be way faster and less prone to error because I can test everything locally first.

And, of course, always backup the database first!


News About My Wicked Enemy

July 6th, 2022

At long, long last, the rights to My Wicked Enemy, the first book in the My Immortals series, have reverted to me. The second book in the series (My Forbidden Desire) should revert n December. There seems to be little point in publishing my preferred version of My Wicked Enemy until I also have Book 2 back, but I am now finishing up the re-edit of the book with the intention of smoothing out the story problems created by a very, very difficult and emotionally destructive (for me) editorial relationship. She was not the right editor for me or the series I was writing. She did not like me or my books, that was quite plain. I did learn that including chapters or passages I knew she’d hate distracted her from the chapters I wanted to make sure stayed in. In the main, she didn’t story edit, she just reacted to her dislike of my writing. I asked my agent several times to try to get me moved to a different editor, but, alas, this never happened.

I don’t typically rewrite a reverted book, but I was so deeply unhappy with what happened to My Wicked Enemy that I am making an exception. I will get new covers for the first two books in the series and get the two books out shortly after book 2 reverts. Then, FINALLY!!! I will be able to properly market the series.



Hello May! What’s Up at Jewel HQ

May 20th, 2022

Just a quick post to say hello and give an update on life and writing. Bound in Smoke is going pretty well. I’m at about 50K new words with most of the updated rejiggered story in place. The usual self-doubt is there, of course. I can’t speak for all writers, but I know time and again I hear writers say that they feel that every book will expose them as a fraud or that this is the book they will be unable to write. It’s always been that way for me, and I’ve long had coping strategies for dealing with that. That self-doubt has been supercharged as of late. But I am working through that, just more slowly. I feel like that entire world is more emotionally fragile these days!

At any rate, I am currently working most on the chapters that introduce the story and the world because that absolutely needs to be in place before I start editing and fleshing out the rest of the chapters. So, to be clear, the book is not in early stages. It’s just a bit past two thirds … the point where once I nail down the world and the characters place in it, everything else will start going really fast.

I hope all of you are staying safe, healthy, and happy!


March Progress Report

March 6th, 2022

I hope everyone is managing 2022 as well as possible in these stressful and trying times. Don’t forget to take time for yourself and your inner peace.

I wanted to update everyone on my writing. Bound in Smoke is going very well. I’m in a spot where word count isn’t increasing very fast but the story is taking on shape and vibe that I really like. For me, a story is typically essentially done at about 50K words, with the remaining word count coming from polishing and expanding on themes and plot. I’m not quite there yet, but will be soon, I think.

Self Doubt and the Inner Critic

My primary challenge right now is what the header suggests. Self doubt and a loud inner critic, both of which love to remind me that previous versions of this book were not done when I thought they were. For me, self doubt and my inner critic play a crucial role in producing a story I love. I need them, but I also need to be able to rise above them, and that’s been a slowly improving situation.

Another element I have noticed is one that I think can be particularly toxic to everyone, and that’s the idea that it’s not just OK to power through difficulties without regard to the personal toll, but virtuous to do so. I call bullshit on that. Hard and regular work, yes, but not without respect to the creative well. As Susan Elizabeth Philips has said, “Protect the writing.” You can’t do that if you’re only making withdrawals from your emotional well-being.

So What’s the Progress Report?

Story sparks have been coming to me more and more often, which is an encouraging return to normalcy. I think it’s because I’ve been telling myself, “F***, it, just write what you want to put on the page. I am writing. I am getting my story told.