Four Muses of Summer

Summer is a season of imaginative recharge for me. A time when the muses grow strong and the furies of duty fall away.  It is a time of family, hiking, hammocking, playgoing, and geekery.

My beloved family at Gasworks Park


Historically, it’s also been a time of hardcore writing binges. And this summer would have been the same, except for two things: 1) broke my ankle; 2) I’ve been waiting for my last beta readers; 3) I am a cinder.


“So what?” I hear someone say.  “Broken ankle is a perfect excuse to sit and write.” I myself thought that, at first. Then I learned what a time-sucking, buzz-pinching frustration fest it is to perform even the smallest tasks.

Normally effortless things like rising to pee, fetch ice for my leg, return the ice pack to the freezer, or search for one of the myriad things I set down or misplaced on one of these interruptions becomes a sweaty and awkward epic crap wagon.

And it was depressing. The one time I optimistically sat in a cafe for my usual six hour stint, my foot swelled up like a throbbing red meat balloon.


But that didn’t stop me from trying. I’ve been waiting for the last of my beta readers, including the Closer (though maybe I should call him the Cleaner?), my blood brother in writing, Craig Holt–aka Ivuk Ivukson, whose kickass “jungle noir” novel, Hard Dog to Kill comes out this fall. Craig delivered his notes last week. I had begged him to make his comments on paper so I could revise on paper, a task much easier to do than on computer when one one’s leg is elevated above the heart. I await only one more beta reader.


Yes. I am now walking on my ankle boot. Things are much easier. But…


Too much Knave for too long, and my imagination feels like a wrung-out sponge. My body too, is a shambles, and not just the ankle. I sacrificed exercise time to writing time. Very. Bad. Idea.


I haven’t written much this summer, and that’s going to have to be okay. Instead, I have made it a Summer of Imaginative & Salubrious Recharge. While I wait for betas and healing, I’ve let my Four Muses have rein–the four muses of FamilyNature, Shakespeare, and Dreaming. Plus, I have returned to exercise.

Win a free eBook of THE JACK OF SOULS!

eBook-Slot-Machine GIVEAWAY!

Click the image for a chance to win an ebook copy of The Jack of Souls on Amazon!

eBook Slot Machine blue

Give it a whirl, and share this link with friends! Good luck!


Day 1 Program – WOTF Workshop

This program was a closely guarded secret until we arrived

In fact, before we came, I searched the internet for one of these from previous years, to no avail. Now that we’ve all got a copy and permission to share, I can post mine. I’ll post one every day this week.


And yes, you see that right: 8 hours today with David Farland and Tim Powers, talking plot construction, characters, theme, conflict, etc., and hearing stories about bar-hopping with Phillip K. Dick. Fantastic. Such a wonderful opportunity.

Below, David and Tim, after they distributed story props to all of us. In the foreground is the prop that is to inspire a story I write tomorrow. In case you’re not familiar, that’s a 9 mm shell casing, which makes my job easy.There are lots of those in fantasy.

First Morning of Writers of the Future week!

Woke to a lovely day in LA. Our hotel is right on the walk of stars, and wouldn’t you know it, certain members of my family are into American Idol and the American Idol contestants are staying here too?

IBut I saw the Hollywood sign: if you look closely in the picture below, you can see it on the hill behind the palms. This place reminds me of Vegas.


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THE JACK OF SOULS is up for preorder on Audible!

The audiobook for The Jack of Souls is up for preorder on Audible, and it’s freaking fantastic!  I am so pleased!

Here’s an audio file of the opening pages. The actor, Alex Wyndham, went with an English accent—probably because of the lofty material, 😉 –and he rocks it! Turns out he’s a great character actor.

JOS - Audiobook

Even in the first minute I love what he did with the barman. II can’t wait to hear how he did Caris and Willard and Brolli and Bannus’s voices.

I shall have to subject my kids to it on the road trip to the mountains this weekend. Mwa-hahaha!


This year it’s “Steampunk Formal”

Steampunk Formal – to Goggle or Not to Goggle

Building on the steampunk theme of this year’s Writer of the Future cover, the gala in April is “steam punk formal.” That means instead of renting a regular tux I can wear some kind of hybrid Victorian dinner jacket top-hat thingy with sword-cane and gyro-boots.

I’m excited. It’s like Halloween in April.

Anyone have accessories I can borrow?vict_mens_02_full


A Fun Interview with Hack Sketches

Image for Question 1 I’ve done a few interviews in the last month, and when I got to about interview 3 I though, “Dang, these are pretty long interviews. Maybe I should spice them up with some with sketches from inside my brain.”

So I did! And it was fun.

Click the image above to see the interview. : )

Fun Review From Kickstarter Backer

Back in December, I was out delivering books to Kickstarter backers in the neighborhood around the high school where I teach, and met this woman whose daughter goes to my school! It was fun to meet her. And I just discovered her review on Amazon.
on February 22, 2015
Format: Paperback
I came across this book because the author teaches at my daughter’s school. What luck to stumble upon such a great story! I’m not a connoisseur of fantasy, but this book is enthralling. After a few chapters, I was thoroughly captivated with Harric and Caris, Sir Willard and Brolli, and their intertwined adventures. I highly recommend “The Jack of Souls” for anyone wanting to experience a new genre, and am looking forward to the next installment (2nd book!).

Entertaining Review of THE JACK OF SOULS

Author and Reviewer Barb Taub Wrote a Fun Review of The Jack of Souls

Here’s an excerpt:

Simple Cover - 72dpiThe Jack of Souls is a tribute to the Trickster, an exhilarating and funny and larger-than-life paean to the ones who might not be the strongest or bravest, but can out-think, outlast, or outplay their musclebound foes. It’s a lightning-paced roller coaster world built of humor, bravery, brains, and excellent writing. The villains are unequivocally evil. The heroes are flawed, hexed, unlucky, or just plain old. And sometimes they smell really bad.”

Read the full REVIEW AND INTERVIEW here.

Barb Taub is author of the Null City series. Click here to read her recent India travel log.


I asked Luke Shea, freelance animator/artist, to make a trailer for THE JACK OF SOULS. Due to my inexperience as an art director, what we ended up with is more of a YA primer to the world of the Jack, but whatever it is, it’s really fun, and Luke is amazing. (That’s also his voice as the narrator!)

Check it out here:

Short Story Award

I just learned that my short story, “Outside the Game,” won first place in the Southwest Writers International Writing Competition!  SWW-Contest-Header

Many thanks to David Levine and Fairwood Writers, who helped me develop it.

“Outside the Game” is an alternative first chapter to The Jack of Souls, set in the same place the novel begins, but an hour before the events that start the novel.

I wrote it as a tool to gain attention for the novel (and because Harric is so much fun to write about!).

Here’s the link, if you want to check it out: