New Stuff Coming Up

Us old dogs adapt slowly to new things, but if you hang around a little longer, you’re likely to see some changes here on Ys Words.

Including announcements of new book releases. Woo hoo! After not having published anything since 2015, I’m getting in the game again. With, of course, some changes, because it’s the year for switcheroos!

One new book to watch for is the novella collection I mentioned a little while ago. We have a cover for it now, as you can see, and I love it! It was designed by Ken Raney, who also did all four of my new Gannah books.

I’ve read four (including my own) of the seven stories that will be in it, and they’re all good. I’m assuming the other three are too, but I haven’t read them yet, so I can’t tell you about them. The four I’ve read are all very different, but each is a short, entertaining read, and I’m happy to conspire–except I guess the proper term is collaborate–with the authors to bring this collection of stories to you.

The projected release date is May 8. Watch for the official announcement, with buy links, later this spring!

Speaking of spring, we had the first real snowfall of the winter last night and this morning. A total of about 9 inches. That is apropos of nothing, but I thought I’d mention it, as the first day of spring is next Monday. Unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, of course, in which case it’s the first day of fall.

Okay, back to yakking about books:

I’m also preparing to release the first part of my speculative series I started working on in the fall of 2015. Hard to believe it’s been that long, but as you can see, I first mentioned it this past April when I was at 80,000-some words, and I posted a snippet of it here. I’m still not finished with the final section, but I’m far enough along that I’m ready to unleash the first part into the world. I hope it bites several thousand people and makes them rabid for more. It’s more reasonable to expect it might interest two or three unfortunate individuals, but I can hope for thousands, right?

Series name: The Four Lives of Jemma Freeman.

Book one title: Stillwaters

I don’t yet have a cover design to show you, but I do have a map of the world–my story world, that is. Here’s a peek at the land masses on the planet Umban:









See that little island called Freemansland in the eastern ocean all by itself? That’s where the story opens, which you’d know if you read the preview I posted earlier. As things unfold, you’ll get to see a great deal more of Umban than just Freemansland.

And, in case you wonder why I’m sniffling as I write this, a strange thing happened just now. While drafting a chapter that comes near the end of Book 3 a few minutes ago, I started crying over what was happening in the chapter. I don’t mean I had a tear trickle, I mean I actually cried! Writing the end of The Last Toqeph, which readers tell me is a genuine tear-jerker, made me sniffle. But writing Chapter 63 of Jemma Freeman made me break down. When I go through and make revisions later, I’ll see if it’s really that bad or if it was just the mood I was in when I drafted it.

Appetite whetted yet? No? Why not? What more do you want from me, for crying out loud?

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Sneak Preview of My WIP: The First Three Scenes

blog backgroundAs you may recall, I promised you a peek at my current work-in-progress.

Well, maybe you don’t recall, but I do. So here it is!

At the beginning, it appears to be a Young Adult novel, but it isn’t; I start with the protagonist’s childhood in order to introduce the reader to the unfamiliar setting and background, so when you get into the meat of the story, you’ll know what’s going on.

And I haven’t decided on a title yet, so for now, I’m just calling it WIP.

For some reason, however, I’ve been using chapter titles, something I never thought I’d do. Ever. I don’t like chapter titles! So why am I using them this time? I’m not sure. It just seemed appropriate.

So, without wasting any more of your time, I now present to you the first three scenes of my current WIP.


Chapter 1: My First Life

I shall never forget the day my first life ended.

Not that my next life began right away after that. For a fuzzy while, I hovered between them, not certain where to land.

But I’ll explain all that later. For now, let me tell you about that first last day.


Jeriah and I were about eleven, best as we can figure. Maybe twelve. Gran doesn’t remember when we were born, and Pa never talked about it. But we were about the same age as Mayne, and his twelfth birthday was the week after all this, so that’s how we figure our age.

Riah and Mayne found me near the cave that morning. You see, Ibro was at the house. He didn’t live there, but he hung around sometimes, like he was hiding from something. And when he was there, it wasn’t wise for a girl to be anywhere in the vicinity. Which is why I’d spent the night in the cave.

When Riah and Mayne canoed around the bend, I was high up a tallpole tree picking papes for breakfast.

Riah and I had found the cave one time when Pa sent him out with two baskets that he was to fill with papefruits. Pa didn’t send me, of course. As far as he was concerned, I didn’t exist. But he didn’t care if I helped.

Everybody knows papevines climb the trees that grow along the lower part of the sharpfall. Sometimes you’ll find them elsewhere, but they like the water best. So we’d canoed along the water’s edge, searching out the rounded, green-and-white foliage that wrapped around the tree trunks, and the pods of pink fruit high in the branches. We only found a few here and there, and it took all day to fill those two baskets. But we also found the cave hidden behind the falling water.

Now, Riah couldn’t see me up in the tree’s umbrella, but he always called whenever he approached so I’d know who was coming. “Jem!”

He needn’t have warned me, because I’d seen them a mile off. “What ya want?”

Riah didn’t answer. Just steered the canoe toward my voice. When they reached the bank, Mayne grabbed a rope and stepped off the bow seat onto a rock. While he tied the canoe to a scrawny tree, Riah climbed out and shaded his eyes with his hand to scan the slope. “Pa’s off dragoning.”

I didn’t move, wondering how long it would take him to spot me in the branches. “So?”

“So we have to get the skinning shed cleared out and the soaking pots ready before he gets home.”

The pain in my gut, always there those days, twisted and tightened till I thought I’d fall out of the tree. “I ain’t goin’ home.” I’d stay up there for a week if it kept me from Ibro.

Riah’s gaze had been searching all that time, but it zeroed in on me now. “Ibro ain’t there. Gram had him go with her to get a load of salt.”

I relaxed a little, though my gut still cramped. “What do you need me for?” I knew the answer, but had to ask.

“Takes two.” His tone implied I was stupid for asking.

“Only ’cause you’re a gel eel.”

Mayne climbed the steep slope. “I’d help, but Ma likes me to be there when she gets home from work.”

Holding a pod of papes in my teeth, I shinned down the tree, trying not to wonder what it would be like to have a Ma—especially one who wanted you around. “Riah don’t need your help anyway. Or he wouldn’t, if he weren’t such a sliming gel eel.”

Riah snorted. “If I am, you are, ’cause we’re twins, y’know.”

“Wish I could forget.”

I handed Riah the papes. He and Mayne plucked them from the stems and ate as we picked our way along the steep slope through brush and over rocks. After pulling off the last pink fruit, Mayne tossed the pod’s gnarled skeleton into the water below, where it floated on its back like a big dead spider.


I don’t figure you’ve ever been to Freemansland. Not many people have, though everybody’s heard of it. Probably most of what you’ve heard is wrong, though. So let me tell you what it’s really like.

It’s true that it’s an island, and not a natural one. In the distant past, some unknown peoples built it for a purpose long forgotten. The land itself was long forgotten after the last great war centuries ago, which just about wiped out everyone. It took the rest of the world a long time to find us again—and most of us wish they never did.

Freemansland is an uneven oval shape, built in six levels. At the base, it’s about 400 kilometers across and 350 wide. The highest level, the smallest, is flat on top like a table, with sheer rocky sides all around. This steep, almost-vertical wall, called a sharpfall, plunges down about 1700 meters and ends at a moat of sorts. The stillwater, so called because there’s not much of a current and it’s not much affected by tides, wraps around the whole tabletop in a watery band about a kilometer and a half wide and up to 10 meters deep.

A high rock rim around the outside edge holds the water in the stillwater, except for overflow areas where the water pours down to the next level. Each of the levels is the same—a sharpfall going up to the level above, with a wide stillwater at the foot. Except for the lowest sharpfall, which falls into the ocean instead.

On the day I’m telling you about, Freemansland was all I knew. And all I wanted to know. As far as I was concerned, Freemansland was all there was.

Though most of the things you hear about the place aren’t true, it does live up to its nickname, The Land of Many Mysteries. But I was learning its secrets. If I wished for anything back then, it was to learn more of them.

Well, okay, there were other things I’d have liked. To not be scared anymore, for instance, or in pain. I didn’t know why I hurt all the time, but it seemed to be getting worse. Sometimes I’d be too sick to eat. Sometimes my vision would blur. And a couple of times—I never told Riah, but I’m telling you now—sometimes everything would go dark, and silent, and I wouldn’t know a thing until it all came back a while later, with me wondering what had happened.

If I knew more of Freemansland’s secrets, then I’d know what was wrong with me and how to fix it. Just like I’d learned what I could eat and what was poisonous. How to smear my body with a mixture of mud, rufflemint, and burrowrat dung so the dragons couldn’t smell me. How to make a paste of barbweed and charcoal to soothe the yellow rash. How to move so I wouldn’t be seen or heard by predator or prey, and to enter and leave a place without leaving a sign I’d been there. Those were the secrets I knew.

I hoped if I learned more of Freemansland’s secrets, maybe I’d know how to kill whatever was inside me, killing me, before there was nothing left to save.

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Why I Don’t Blog

blog backgroundWhen I started Y’s Words back in 2010, it was for the purpose of establishing a writing platform–or at least an online presence as a writer. What I’d hoped would be a platform, however, turned out to be an infinitesimal, near-imaginary toehold despite my attempts to do everything pretty much as was recommended at the time.

Back in the day when I posted three times a week, I learned a few things: 1) the effort did not generate significant book sales; 2) as I’m a slow writer, doing three posts a week imposed a fairly small but constant strain and required me to devote the equivalent of one whole workday per week; and, 3) the posts that got the best response from readers were about my personal life, not writing. (Or, about nothing in particular. For instance, a post in which I shared an old, not-so-funny joke is the one that’s gotten the biggest number of hits. Go figure.)

It’s been several months since my last post, though, so it’s time to do an update. That much is obvious. What I’m less certain of is what I should write about.

2015-07-24 12.30.28No point talking about the weather. Whether or not you like the current weather conditions or look forward to the coming winter or summer (depending on your hemisphere of habitation), there’s no point in my writing about it.

I’ve talked enough about snow, spring flowers, gardening, and that sort of thing in the past. To do so again—especially with nothing new to contribute—would be redundant.

There’s nothing going on in our lives at present worth reporting. This is not necessarily a bad thing, for same-old/same-old can be a comfort. But it doesn’t make for interesting blog posts.

How about writing? I don’t know about you, but I’m bored nearly to tears with writers’ blogs by now. Everything worth saying has already been said a myriad of ways and will be repeated many times in the future. A newcomer to the writing life who wants to learn more about it already has plenty of resources, and I see no reason to add my weak voice to the clamor.

file8431289655927There’s another reason I haven’t been blogging, and I touched on it lightly above: the time factor. No, I’m not the busiest person around, but neither am I looking for things to do; and I have neither time nor energy in inexhaustible supply. As a writer, then—and, as I noted earlier, I’m a slow one—I must choose between writing blog posts and working on my next book. I can’t do both on a regular basis.

To summarize: I don’t blog anymore because 1) I have nothing to say; and 2) it doesn’t seem to be the best use of my time.

But, while I have your attention, let me tell you about my current WIP. (For those writing-newbies, WIP stands for Work in Progress.)

I’m about 82,000 words into my latest novel. It took me a while to get rolling, but now that I’m fully immersed in it, I’m loving it. Love the story, love the world I created for its stage, and love the characters galloping about on it. But I have a problem: it’s getting too long. I’ve already written a novel’s worth, but I still have at least as much to go before the conclusion I envision.

Sometimes my fellow writers will say things like, “My novels are usually only about 50,000 words, but my publisher wants at least 75,000.” Or, “I’m done with my first draft, but I’m 15,000 words short. How can I bulk up the story?” Ha! I never have that problem!

IMG_2017For now—that is, while I’m in the first draft stage—I won’t worry about it. I’ll continue to tell the story as it demands to be told until it’s all put into words. Then I’ll decide whether to make sweeping cuts, or add a little more (if necessary) and turn it into a series.

I can think of good reasons for doing the latter, and, though I’d originally planned for this to be a stand-alone, that’s probably what I’ll end up doing. Here are my thoughts on that, in case you care:

  1. Because I intend to self-publish it, there’s no need to consider a publisher’s requirements. That is, I can do whatever I want.
  2. Especially with titles by little-known authors (that is, me), readers are more apt to pick up a short book than a massive tome. Cost is a big factor here: fat books take more paper and ink and consequently cost more to produce, and the price must reflect that. Time is another consideration. Would I prefer to buy a book, even an inexpensive ebook, that’s going to take me forever to read, or one that’s short and sweet? Unless it’s by an author I already love, I’d opt for a short one.
  3. A short book that’s first in a series can whet a reader’s appetite for more. That way, instead of trying to introduce myself to a reader by selling her one heavy-weight volume, I can tempt her to try a short sweet one; and if she likes it, I have a good chance of selling her the whole series. (In other words, it’s better to sell three books than one.)
  4. If I write the whole story and divide it into three volumes, after publishing the first, I can then release the subsequent titles quickly before reader interest in the first one wanes.

And I’ll bet you’re already bored. See what I mean? I have nothing to say that’s worth blogging about.

00097However, I’m giving some thought to posting the opening of my current WIP—just a little bit—to test the waters and/or generate a little interest, so maybe once I finally publish it, I’ll have three or four people already prepared to hand me their money.

What do you think? Would you like to see the beginning of my current project? Or have you already quit reading this post because honestly, you don’t give a fig?




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Taking Sides

Cretaceous ClayI’ve been making good progress on my WIP this week, and that makes me happy! The last chapter of my first draft draws near at long last, and I’m experiencing that burst of energy that comes when the finish line is in sight.

But I thought I’d pause for a moment and whip out a quick blog post. I ran across something interesting this morning in an e-book I’ve been reading and wanted to share it before I lose the note I jotted it on.

The book is has the interesting title of Cretaceous Clay and the Black Dwarf. Just released this spring, it’s written by a Twitter friend I met a few months ago, Dana Allan Knight. And it’s a little hard to describe.

Kind of a mix between the Jetsons and Sherlock Holmes (except the detective wears a trench coat and fedora like Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer) with some elves, dwarves, and biotic creations thrown in, along with a little magic and supernatural intrigue. I can’t decide if it’s intended for a Young Adult audience, but it’s clean, containing no sex, graphic violence, or profanity.

I also can’t decide if I like it. I enjoy certain aspects of it, but the writing isn’t all that great and I keep editing it mentally, which tends to distract me from the story.

Amazon has it listed under “religious fiction,” and I’m not sure of that, either. It does touch on some important themes, though I wouldn’t call any of it religious. This morning, however, I ran across a sentence that seemed to describe solid Christian doctrine—but I’m not at all sure the author Screen shot 2013-05-25 at 5.11.07 PMhad anything in mind beyond the immediate, and inconsequential, context. The sentence hit me between the eyes, though, so I hopped up, grabbed a pencil and piece of scrap paper, and wrote it down.

Here’s the setting: the protagonist (Clay) has opened his home to some of his friends who are temporarily displaced. The guests included two little children, Hope and Faith, along with their mother. The girls shared a bed with another guest, Clay’s fiancé, Jasmine, and they kept her up much of the night with their thrashing around. As Jasmine (who’s eager to marry Clay and have a dozen children of her own) described how they couldn’t lie still, she said, “Faith forced me to change sides, but it was a great night.”

All the statement meant, of course, was that the girl kept moving onto Jasmine’s side of the bed so she had to get up and go to the other side; and despite all the interruptions to her sleep, she had fun sharing the bed with the little ones. But—probably due to the frame of mind I was in as I read—I saw it as an allegory. That is, when we come to Christ in faith, he takes us out of the devil’s domain and places us in God’s kingdom; our faith requires us to change sides.

How about the other half of the sentence? Again, I’m sure I manufactured this subtext because of my frame of mind. But it made me think of the scriptural truth alluded to in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-8 and elsewhere, that the time we currently live in is, spiritually speaking, nighttime. Of course we look forward to the time when the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings (Malachi 4:1-2), but while it’s still night, we can rejoice in Him. Dark though it may be, we can have a great night.Screen shot 2013-05-25 at 5.11.41 PM

Until I ran across this statement more than halfway into the book, I’d thought the whole story rather silly. Maybe it is all rather silly, and perhaps I just imagined the awesomeness. But I’ll be looking for other awesome things to jump out and grab me as I continue.

Have a great night.

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Saturday Situation Report

report I know what you’re thinking: I thought she wasn’t doing Saturday SitReps anymore?

Well, you’re right. But as you may have noticed, I haven’t been doing much of anything around here anymore. So I thought this was an efficient way to get up to speed.

Once again I’ve had to put my WIP on the back burner. This time, it’s because I’ve been spending my time getting things done around the house. The idea is for us to put the house up for sale soon (yes, I know, I’ve been saying that for the past several years–but we are going to do it sometime) and there’s a lot we want to do to get ready.

Craig’s mom had surgery a few years ago and has been in rehab. She’s making good progress and will be discharged next week–but she can’t be home alone. I’m not sure how much time we’ll be spending there, but I can foresee some visits with her in the near future.

Meanwhile, I have another or link or two to share. Here, I’m featured on Elaine Stock’s blog. If you leave a comment in the next couple of days, you’ll have a chance to win one or both of the Gateway to Gannah books currently available.

Not sure if I’ve posted these links already, but I also appear on two of Morgen Bailey’s blogs (I don’t think the woman ever sleeps). Here, she interviews me in what I think is my best interview ever. And here is an article where I compare editing to pruning fruit trees (a rewrite of an old post that first appeared on Y’sWords two years ago).

I have plenty of ideas for blog posts but haven’t had the time to write them. Hoping to get back on track soon.


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