If you’ve been following my progress with Book Two, you’ll notice the working title, THE KNAVE OF SOULS, did not make the final cut.

I fully thought book two would go to press with that title

But a couple months before publication, I was at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in Denver, and a good writer friend of mine, Heather Webb, commented, “Isn’t the knave the same card as the jack? And isn’t the title of your first book, The Jack of Souls? By naming the second book The Knave of Souls you’d be naming it the same as the first book, but in different words.

And I had to admit she was right.

But I didn’t. I resisted.

I explained to her that I was using an older meaning of “knave,” meaning “foolish person,” but even as I said it I knew it was a poor excuse, and that she was right. Damn it. Plus, another large fraction of my readers might not be familiar with the term “knave” at all., which would also be a problem. Double damn.

I had actually loved The Knave of Souls.

But I faced the music, and when I did, I was stuck for a title.

So I went round and round on it, noodling for a new title for months as I finalized the manuscript and got the cover going. The title crisis came to a head when I was three weeks out, and still had nothing.

The Fool of Souls was the next closes thing, but it didn’t have a ring to it. Heather had liked The Ace of Souls, which I agreed was cool, and had a ring to it, but which felt too modern, to me., Apprentice of Souls (meh), Squire of Souls, (meh).

So I switched suits. “Souls” was the suit that referred to the Unseen Moon, the moon that controls the magic of the spirit world and dreams. Since the Mad Moon is the moon controlling entropy and the magic of destruction, I’d imagined the Mad Moon’s suit would be “Fires” or “Flames” or something like that, but it hadn’t come up yet in the books, so I hadn’t settled one. After much deliberation, I eventually landed on, The Jack of Flames, but I wasn’t excited about it. Finally, my good friend Mark said, “How about The Jack of Ruin?” and it stuck.

Thematically, it’s actually a better title. But the change means, of course, that the third book needs to be start with “The Jack of…”, so in that respect I’ve painted myself into a corner. Still, I have lots of time to figure that out.


The proof copy of my second novel, THE JACK OF RUIN, just arrived!

If you are confused by the title, which for almost three years was THE KNAVE OF SOULS, I apologize. But this is better for a number of reasons. More on that later–it is time to celebrate!

It comes three years to the day since I released book one, and ****** I am just days away from publication! ****** 😄

#finishednovel #newfantasy #sequelunlocked #hallelujah

Book 2 Update – Beta Readers & Cover Art

Good news: The Knave of Souls, Book 2 is in the beta-reader stage!

That means the manuscript is complete, and it is in the hands of a few smart reader/writer types who are giving me feedback. They’re looking for problems of consistency, clarity, engagement, fun-factor, etc. In fact, it is now in the hands of the last beta-reader, and I hope to hear from him next week.

After next week, I hit it with revisions and tweaks, and then it’ll be time for the copy editor. 🙂

In the meantime, here’s a look at the full cover art, including the wrap-around to the back cover (which is the left half of the painting). The characters on the front cover, from left to right, are Harric, Fink, Caris, and Spook. 🙂


THE KNAVE OF SOULS – Progress Update


I posted like mad over my November retreat, but stopped during winter break, and though I’be been writing since, I haven’t posted. I was in France for some of that. Here is a terrifying picture of my family and I at 13,000 feet in a glass box over an icy crag of the Alps. 



I’m sending Chapter 52 (The End) for peer crit this Saturday! Feels great, too. I’m pretty happy with it. PLUS, for those of you who agree with me that 2.5 years to write a book is too long, it’s coming in at about 160K words, which is 30K words more than the first book, so, hopefully that 20% more Harric, Caris, Sir Willard, Ambassador Brolli, and Father Kogan will make up for some of the wait.

Below, some of the crit notes from the Chapter 51 peer crit session. I love scribbles. I find beauty in these artifacts. Hope I don’t become a hoarder.


Knave Update: Two More Chapters Down!

Nailed down TWO MORE CHAPTERS yesterday. Here’s the post. New venue: Miro Tea. Needed some cleaner burning fuel. I know the image is sideways, but that’s what my head feels like on hours and hours of caffeine and writing, so it fits.


THE KNAVE OF SOULS is posted on Wattpad!

Last night I finished the 90% Beta draft of The Knave of Souls and posted all 35 chapters on Wattpad. Check it out!  The cover is just a temporary image, but the text is all there. wattpad_logo_280

< Click here to see it!


Wattpad is free, you just have to register to read, and there is a handy phone app for reading on your phone. It allows you to make inline comments to ask questions or give feedback, and when you do, it sends me a note so I can respond if you want. Great interactive media for authors and readers! 🙂

I look forward to hearing from you!

Knave Update: Cafe Fiore All-Day Push

Today begins a string of all-day writes. 

Goal: Complete Beta draft to 85%, and send it to Beta Readers. While they read, I finish the last 15%. BOOM!
Notice the headphones: Thanks to the inestimable Martin Shoemaker (a 2015 Writers of the Future winner) for showing me that Instead of typing or writing at a desk, I can dictate passages while I hike or walk. 

So often it seems I face the choice between writing and exercise, but thanks to Martin’s revelation, I need not always face that choice. Today I will transcribe* two “foreshadowing” passages that I composed on a walk I took while waiting for a ferry in Fauntleroy .

*Martin actually pays a service to transcribe for him. He composed a novel this year commuting in his car to his day job. Kevin J. Anderson also composes this way.

Some of my “Foul Papers”