The Mage Chronicle Audio book is here!

The Mage Chronicles, with Narration by Georgie Leonard is now live on Audible and Amazon!

Audible

Amazon

I think Georgie did an incredible job of bringing the story to life and I’m thrilled to have this on the market.

Check out the retail sample for yourself:

Blurb:

It has been a centuries-long golden-age for the empire, a time of peace and prosperity. Mary, a mage class healer, is content to live an ordinary life in one of the rich central worlds. Her old master Ashely La’Margin wants her to do more with her magic, but Mary has little use for riches or power.

Now a border dispute in some distant province threatens to become war, and there are rumors of Juggernaut, super warriors that can’t be killed. The civilian council of mages sends Mary to stop it, but what does a healer know of war?

On the way she will confront a harsh medieval world unlike the central worlds she has known. If she is to save this empire she must discover untapped powers and face the ghosts of her past, especially the boy Martin and the orphanage that she left behind as a child.

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A New Short Story From R. J. Eliason

I am part of an anthology!

Changeling Ward is a collection of three short stories/novellas from local Iowa Authors. All the stories are fantasy and all are based around the theme of changelings.

My story is A Knife in the Dark and it’s set in the Gilded Empire world. (The same world that Mage Chronicles is in, though the characters aren’t the same.)

The ebook is currently available as an Amazon exclusive. That means if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read it free for a short time. Check it out today!

And as always, if you want to stay up to date on the latest from R. J. Eliason, sign up for my email list:

Fighting in Armor

A couple of interesting things have floated through my social media feed in the last couple weeks that have me thinking about fighting in armor, what it would be like, how it changes things for the fighters involved.

This is apparently a thing in Russia:

They are using steel swords in that video. They aren’t sharpened, but honestly, that wouldn’t make as much difference as you might think. Movies often portray knights fighting in armor in the most unrealistic ways, swords chopping straight through metal plates and hacking off limbs. Other knights with limbs hacked off still managing to fight some how.

That’s not how it happened at all. Battles between knights in plate armor in medieval times wouldn’t have been so different from what you see in the video, a battle of endurance as much as skill. A properly armored knight was pretty impenetrable, without specialized weapons. That was the other thing that crossed my stream this last week.

Thick wool tunics and leggings were often wore underneath armor to help absorb some of the force. Chainmail came next, deflecting cutting blades but still allowing for movement. Over that protective plates. Steel gorgets protected the neck, helmets protected the head. Once the knight was encased in armor, he seemed pretty unstoppable.

The one factor they don’t mention in either video is socio-economics. Plate mail armor was expensive to buy and maintained. The knights and men at arms that wore it had to be trained to move and fight in it. For most of the medieval period, knights were a privileged social class.

Socio-economics was both a source of great power for the knights, and ultimately their undoing. Foot soldiers in the early medieval period simply didn’t stand a chance. They might be armed with spears, short bows, swords and axes. Their armor was little more than thick leather, or if they were lucky, pieces of chainmail. A small band of heavily armored knights in plate armor could easily dominate the battlefield. I can almost imagine how terrifying it must have been for the peasant foot soldier, their weapons would bounce off the knight with no effect. Meanwhile one false move on your part and the knight would hack you to pieces.

Many of the strange weapons we see in the second video were designed by and for the peasant foot soldier, in a desperate attempt to even the odds against the better armored knight and man at arms. And as they appeared, the flipside of socio-economics appeared. Knights were expensive to maintain. Forget what you’ve seen in Lord of the Rings or even on the TV version of Game of Thrones, armies composed entirely of heavily armored knights and men at arms are works of fiction. Knights were elite forces.

A lot of people mistakenly believe that the age of knights was ended by the development of firearms, which blasted through the plate. The truth is that a) early firearms were difficult to use, slow to reload and incredibly inaccurate and b) the age of knights was already fading.

What really ended the knights reign of the battlefield was a new generation of foot soldiers. Soldiers with specialized weapons and training. The English longbow decimated the French knights at the battle of Agincourt in 1415. The second video mentions the Flemish Gottentag, a peasant weapon that successfully held French knights at bay as well. Swiss Mercenaries armed with pickaxes, working in phalanxes, could withstand a charge of knights on horseback.

This all has me thinking about a story I want to write someday. It’s in the Gilded Empire saga. The only problem is that it’s nearly a generation ahead of where I’m at right now in the saga, so I probably shouldn’t write it yet, not until I have finished the books I am on anyway.

This story creates a powerful three way conflict between one of the noble houses, with a huge private army of men at arms, the church, with a strong force of it’s own, and a group of elvish peasants. The peasants are being driven from their ancestral home. The lord hopes to open the woods to logging, and the church wishes to enforce its beliefs on the elvish people. However the two powers quickly come into conflict with each other over who ultimately holds sway in the land, the lords or the church.

It’s a long way from being written, let alone published. But for now it’s interesting to research and plan.

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There are no new ideas, but plenty of new takes on old ideas

I’ve been watching season five of Game of Thrones this week, and reading Outlander. I’ve also been working on a book for my own fantasy saga, the Gilded Empire.

I know, roughly, where I am going with the entire series. But it’s a rich world and there’s always more details to fill in. Especially since this series has such a strange structure to it. In ways its Game of the Thrones meets Discworld. What I mean by that is this, it has nothing in common with Discworld in theme, mood or storytelling, but it shares the same structure. There are multiple series within this world, with one large meta story that will eventually drive all the stories together. In mood and themes, it’s close to Game of Thrones, a dark series about geopolitical upheavals, the tenuous relationship between the haves and have nots in a medieval world with a dose of large scale change thrown in.

There was a scene in Game of Thrones (I won’t give any spoilers) that sparked me to think about how I would handle a similar situation. There was another in Outlander. The twin reflections suggested a new storyline for me, one that explains a big chunk of the backstory to the Gilded Empire in one fell swoop. It’s a cool heady thing when it happens like that.

Pessimist say that there are no new ideas under the sun, and perhaps they are right. Every theme, every setting, every character idea has been written somewhere. Writers waiting for inspiration to bring them a truly novel story, wait in vain. No sooner will a writer proudly spill out their truly unique storyline than someone will pipe up with, “that’s just like…” It can be frustrating.

Unless you embrace the nitty gritty bits of story telling. Because every idea might have been written, but not by you. And you will put a uniquely you spin on those idea. You will digest the idea through the lens of your own experience and tell a new tale, one no one has read before. And that’s part of the magic of being a writer.

If you can’t Write Fast, Fake it

I was given this advice, almost word for word, from a fellow writer recently. And surprisingly, it reverberated with me.

Indie writers often advise writing fast and publishing a lot. There are lots of good reasons to do this, if you are able. Publishing regularly keeps your name fresh in reader’s minds. Having lots of published works out allows readers to enjoy one story and then immediately move on to others. Writing fast makes it possible to write a lot, and writing a lot helps you get better at writing. If nothing else, publishing a lot of work means that even if you only have modest commercial success, if you multiply that by many books you can still make a decent income.

Writing fast gets a bad rap because it’s too often associated with writers publishing poorly edited manuscripts or cutting novels into pieces make serials. Those things that do happen, but there are many great writers who put out books regularly without sacrificing quality.

Not everyone can do it, however. Some of us naturally write fast but others do not. For those who do, what can they do?

The answer is to fake it. How do you do that? This writer suggested writing at least three books before even considering publication. Then either publish all three at once or space them out a month apart or so. That way you get the same advantages, bigger buzz and multiple books on the market, without having to write a book a month.

I write fast. But I also tend to write scattered. I have several books in progress at any one time. I have several series up in the air right now. The third Bear Naked book will be out very soon. There are three more in the story arc that aren’t written.

Meanwhile I have the next Gilded Empire book almost done. It’s the beginning of a trilogy. I have the Galactic Consortium serial running on Wattpad and the first Mondamin apocalypse novel on that site.

The Bear Naked hasn’t performed as well as I expected. Part of it, I think, is that readers don’t like to start series that aren’t complete, or at least well under way. There is always a concern that the author will abandon the series uncompleted. We have been conditioned by the availability of so many series that it’s hard to get traction with one book. Hopefully, The Hunted will give the Bear Naked series that kind of traction.

In the meantime I am thinking of taking this advice to heart. I have temporarily tabled The Banner of Kash until I can finish at least the rough draft of books two and three. I have a second Mondamin book in editing stages and a third in planning. Once the Banner of Kash is completed I will come back to that series.

What do you think? Will you read the first book in a series if the others aren’t completed yet?

Why We Read Fantasy

Why is fantasy so popular? Ask a hundred fantasy readers and you’ll likely get a hundred different answers.

Years ago, Joseph Campbell tried to answer this question in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In the book he describes the hero archetype. He explains that a thousand stories of heroes are really one story and about one, the hero with a thousand faces. We connect with the story at a very deep level because we are all on our own hero’s journey.

The stories we read are the hero’s journey writ large. They face incredible odds and dangers. Their triumphs are legend.

But you and I live the same story, only writ smaller. Our day to day lives and struggles can be understood through the lens of the hero’s journey. We take our cues from those stories, they bolster our courage and help us endure the pains of life.

I’m keeping the blog post short because later today I have an appointment with an oral surgeon. He’s going to extract three teeth. Two are wisdom teeth, I’ve had other wisdom teeth out and I’m not nervous about that. But the other tooth, let’s just say the oral surgeon used some scary phrases like “might have to cut the gums” and “might need some bone grafting.” I’m pretty freaked. Luckily, I will be under for most of the work.

Oral surgery is a far cry from charging a dragon or carrying the one ring to the fires of Mordor. It won’t be the end of the world, the zombie apocalypse or armageddon.

But even so, I will recall the great fantasy stories I’ve read. I will recall the courage that Mary must have in The Mage Chronicles or Amanda in Bear Naked. I will draw strength from that, to keep myself from running screaming from the surgeon’s office today.

I will write more when I’ve recovered. Until then, keep reading fantasy.

 

A Taste of the Gilded Empire

Here is an excerpt from the latest book, an epic fantasy called The Mage Chronicles. It sets the scene for a long series called the Gilded Empire.

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Chapter One

Ashley La’Margin the Fourth

Mary stood on the brown cobblestone of Muted Lane and waited while the oxen cart rumbled by. As it passed her, she caught a glimpse of Muted Market. She wondered, as always, how such a noisy place came by the name “Muted.” She crossed the lane, feeling the warmth of the stones underneath her sandals as she left the shade of the apartments behind her.

To her right was the market itself. It was a single-story building the size of a small park and without walls. Arched pillars of granite stood every fifteen feet, and the roof rose over them in billowing waves, like a giant pavilion frozen in stone. That such heavy stone could be shaped into such a delicate structure made the market one of Tomlin City’s marvels.

Not that those inside were paying much attention to the architecture above them. The market was crowded. Then again, it was always crowded. Merchants hawked their wares in loud voices, haggled with customers, and complained to each other of the day’s business. The market’s assault on the senses did not stop at sound. Jewelers flashed bits of gold and silver. A tailor threw a bright brocade of silk around a woman’s form with a practiced flourish. Small, contained fires heated an incredible variety of pots, pans, and skillets, which in turned contained an even more incredible variety of foods and spices. The aroma mixed with the sweat of the many patrons and hung thick in the air.

Mary ignored the market, and for the moment, it returned the favor. Mary was a slight figure, almost a head shorter than the nearest man in front of her. She was thin and had long, coppery-red hair pulled back into a long braid. She wore a simple dress of burnt orange held fast around the waist with a silk scarf. A pentacle, embroidered into the sleeve of the dress, marked her as a healer.

To the left of the market was the Tower of Ashley La’Margin. If the market was one of the marvels of the city of Tomlin, the mage’s tower was the marvel. Set about two hundred feet back from the lane, the building was maybe a hundred feet across at its base and rose to nearly five hundred feet high. It literally towered over the market and every building nearby. It was composed of white stone that appeared to be seamless.

The land around the base of the tower was entirely covered in a hedgerow maze. Where the maze opened onto the lane, there stood twin sandstone sphinxes, eighteen feet tall. There was an almost imperceptible sound of stone grinding on stone as one of the sphinxes turned its head to look at Mary as she drew near. Though slight, the sound cut through the din of the marketplace. There was a collective rolling gasp as the people in the crowd turned their attention toward the tower.

A hand reached out and pulled Mary from the lane.

“Careful, young maid,” the merchant said. “Wouldn’t want to see you crushed under the heels of that beast.”

“What devilry is the mage up to now?” a nearby woman wondered out loud.

“Appearances can sometimes be deceiving,” Mary said.

“Aye,” the man agreed, misreading her completely. “I thought they were mere statues. They’ve never moved an inch as long as I’ve been at the market.”

Mary smiled. “Be not afraid; they mean no harm.” As she stepped back into the lane she chuckled to herself. Young maid indeed. The fool doesn’t realize I could well be the one who delivered him.

All of the collective eyes of the market were on Mary as she crossed the lane and approached the sphinx. It dropped its head, and its mouth gaped wide.

In her mind, Mary felt its excitement. “Yes, Azroth,” she said aloud, for the benefit of those in the market. “I have brought you a gift.”

As she reached into her small purse, a raspy sandstone tongue extended from the sphinx’s mouth. It cupped its tongue delicately, and she placed a small river stone onto the tongue.

In a single swift movement the tongue was gone and the sphinx returned to its former, immobile state. A sense of contentment and the memories of other stones, other places, rolled off the sphinx.

“I have one for you too, Shemazai,” Mary said to the second sphinx. Slowly, and with a much greater sense of dignity, the second sphinx bent and accepted its gift.

This will be the talk of the market for weeks to come, she thought.

They are all fools anyway, Azroth said in her mind, settling itself into its usual stony, watchful silence.

Without a backward glance, Mary entered the maze. There was a brief pause, then the noise of the market rose again. Inside, most of the merchants broke into loud, speculative conversations—about discovering the sphinxes were real and about the young girl who seemed to know them. A few merchants stayed quiet; wondering, no doubt, how many of their misdeeds had been observed by the statutes and to whom they had been reported.

Mary’s feet took her within the maze. She stopped briefly at the imposing main entrance. She had brought another, more mundane gift for the doorman, a pastry from the bakery near Cornall Hospital, where Mary both lived and worked. She did not ask for entrance. He understood.

She passed the much smaller and simpler servant’s door just within the maze as well. Her feet sought the student’s entrance, hidden deep within the hedge. More than a decade had passed since she was a student of the mage, but she felt intuitively that this was the best approach. She could only surmise she had guessed correctly when she found Ashe himself was waiting for her at the student’s entrance.

“I am delighted to see you, Mary,” he said as she approached. He looked as he always did, a tall, graying man, who could be described, depending on his mood, as either imposing or fatherly. He was wearing brown leggings and a light tan shirt with an embroidered edging. The shirt was simple in design but of high-quality construction. The hair on his head, though graying, was full and worn short. His movements, as he stepped forward to give Mary a hug, were strong and graceful, belying the age of his appearance.

“Indeed it’s been too long,” she replied, returning the hug with warmth. “But I suspect you did not call me back simply because you missed seeing me.”

“Indeed not,” he replied. “Though I have missed you. Still we need not sit on the doorstep and talk.” He ushered her inside.

As they walked along the gently curving corridor, Mary said, “So for whom was that display outside?”

“The sphinxes?” he replied. “A trifling matter.”

“It will be the talk of the market for months, if not years, to come.”

“Indeed.” Sensing her curiosity he went on, “Some of the merchants wish to have entertainment in the market at night.”

“I can recall when they had minstrels and dances,” Mary said, “and for a while there was the theater group.”

“These are far more illicit and unpleasant entertainments, I regret,” Ashe continued. “I thought it would do well to remind them the market is watched.”

“Very civic of you,” she said.

Ashe was fond of the number three, and just as he had three entrances to the tower, there were three rooms that he used for greeting visitors. Near the main entrance, he had a throne room of sorts, where he could sit high above his visitor, to impress or intimidate. He used it often with petitioners who came to request magic from him. He had a business office where he would sit behind a large desk. It was there he took his peers, men of power from the city council, and court officials who sought his advice. Then he had a small sitting room for more personal visits, lessons with a rare apprentice (Mary was the first apprentice he had taken in anyone’s memory), a visit from a fellow mage, and the occasional individual graced with status of friend.

Today he passed all three rooms without a second glance. He ushered her instead into his private study. It was an interesting choice, and Mary could not help but wonder what it portended. Here was a singular room in a tower built around the number three. Most mages had a number they were obsessed with and for Ashe, it was three. Everything about this tower, from its dimensions to the number of rooms, was some multiple of three. The man even had three bedrooms, which Mary knew because she had shared all three rooms for a short time after her apprenticeship had ended and they had been lovers. But he had only one study. It held two simple, wooden chairs, a low table, a bookcase, which held a very select portion of Ashe’s library and a window that overlooked a seaside beach— nowhere near Tomlin City, if indeed it was even in this world.

They sat, and Ashe gestured at a steaming teapot and a selection of tea canisters on the low table. Smiling slightly, Mary pulled out her final gift, a tightly bundled Chrysanthemum flower.

“My favorite,” Ashe said. “You always think of the little things, Mary. It’s one of the things I love about you.”

He placed the bundle in the teapot and left the lid off so they could watch the flower unfold while the tea steeped.

After a long time, Mary spoke. “You have an assignment for me, I take it?”

“I do,” he replied. “Though you are no longer my apprentice and I can hardly compel you.”

“Still, you may speak.”

“It’s an unusual request, I must warn,” he said. “There is a situation in a distant province. Someone needs to look into it. A mage.”

She thought about other assignments she had taken from Ashe. Mostly they were humanitarian missions, as befitted her main gift, healing. Once she had fought a demon for him. Two or three times, she had sought out other mages for rituals, herbs, or other magical lore. These last assignments had been more for her own benefit, to increase her own knowledge. None of these assignments prepared her for what Ashe said next.

“It’s war, Mary. In the Barony of Cordona, a far distant corner of the empire, war is again threatening the land.”

She almost laughed but caught the serious expression on her former mentor’s face. “But surely there hasn’t been a war in the empire for several—” She stopped abruptly before she said the word millennia. She knew enough history to know that was a pleasant fiction. Still . . . “For several hundred years at least.”

“Three hundred forty-two years this March,” Ashe said. A troubled look crossed his face. Then he laughed. “No, even that is a polite fiction. The empire lives by the sword. War is a constant companion.”

He stared out the window for a long time before going on. “The emperor’s peace is merely a controlled war, Mary. You must understand this. The border legions and the army fight and conquer distant worlds, all in the name of keeping war far from our borders. But this is not the war of which I speak.

“Despite the emperor’s peace, or perhaps even because of it, small internal wars erupt frequently. For small nobles, hemmed in by each other, there are few ways to grow or increase their holding or power. Some play at court intrigue, some play at love—or marriages of convenience, rather. A few play at war.”

“Nobles, playing at war?” Mary said. “I don’t understand.”

“They fight border disputes, often over trivial trumped up offenses,” he said with some distaste.

“And the emperor allows this?”

“Of course not,” Ashe said. “These things are stopped as soon as they come to someone’s attention. But if a noble moves quickly enough, takes a village here, a town there, it’s fait accompli. When the dispute is ended one lord has another village in his domain, and the other is that much smaller.”

“But we are talking fighting here, right? With soldiers and spears and stuff?” she said.

“Yes.”

“Don’t people get hurt?”

“They get killed, Mary.”

“But—”

“Mary,” he interrupted, “you need to understand the kind of people we are talking about: power-hungry nobles. If it increases their holding, even a couple of acres, a hundred deaths is worth it to them.”

She shuddered.

“In the Barony of Cordona, such a border dispute is currently underway,” Ashe went on. “And I fear it has the potential to spiral into a much larger conflict.”

“You said the emperor puts a stop to these sorts of things,” she said.

“Usually,” he replied and fell silent for a long time. “You must go and put a stop to this, Mary.”

“Me?” she protested. “Surely there is somebody more suitable. Who usually puts a stop to these things?”

He shrugged. “The emperor cannot be everywhere, obviously. The bureaucrats usually send a simple ultimatum and that’s that. Or the courts intervene; some noble house large enough to command the respect of both parties. Neither of these things has happened.”

Mary watched him, trying to understand what he was saying. She took a different tack. “But the soldiers, they are part of the military, no? Do they really fight each other? Can’t they just be commanded to stop?”

“Each lord must raise a certain number of soldiers for the imperial army, this is true. But they have a local militia as well, which is not beholden to the military. These are the soldiers who fight and die in these border disputes. The military can’t command them. However the military certainly could intervene, and has in such situations in the past.”

“Are there not war mages?” Mary asked.

“There are.”

She stared out the window at the seashore, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. “So the bureaucrats could end this, the courts could end this, the military, the war mages, all could end this. Why haven’t they?”

“That is an interesting question.” He turned toward Mary, a serious look on his face. “The council of mages, the civilian council of mages,” he clarified, “are deeply troubled by this entire situation. But we must not be seen as interfering. There are larger forces at work here. Why? I cannot say.

“However, if a healer were to show up, offering humanitarian aid, and then find some way to get both sides to sue for peace, the pretext is gone. The forces must then reveal themselves or retreat.”

“And the Council of Mages wishes me to go?” She did not believe even half the council knew of her existence. She was too young, too small a mage for them to notice.

“I wish you to go,” Ashe said.

After a pause, she replied, “I have always trusted you. If you ask, I will go.”

 

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What Exactly is the Gilded Empire?

The Mage Chronicles is the first book in The Gilded Empire Saga. So it’s a series, right?

Well, yes and no.

The next book, The Banner of Kash 1, is a completely different story and it is part of series, so I figured I had better have something posted online explaining what the deal was before I had a bunch of angry fans demanding to know what the hell was going on.

So here I go, or at least, attempt to go. It’s kind of like a world, like the discworld books by Terry Pratchett, though not nearly as funny. Most of the stories are designed to be stand alone novels and the casual reader should be able to pick up which ever one trips their trigger and have a satisfying read. There are a few sub series in the works and there will be characters that cross over into multiple books.

Unlike the discworld books, there is a story arc for The Gilded Empire. I have a fairly extensive Aeon Timeline and a resource manual to keep the story arc straight from book to book. While casual readers can read each novel as a standalone story, fans will start to see the pattern and the broad sweep of history behind the individual story lines.

How The Gilded Empire came to be.

This story has been in my head for years, literally. In my teens and twenty I thought I would someday write a book about the dying days of magical empire. It would have been awful, a giant narrative dump that no one would want to read. There was just too much information, too many strands that were coming together in my head.

Later, in my thirties, I thought I would write it as a series. That solved the problem with the amount of information. But there is another problem, the various strands that are leading the empire down this path are coming from such different angles. How to find one central narrative that explains it? I couldn’t.

A few years back I found the answer. I am writing a series of books that each explore one aspect of this vast place. Eventually each strand will start to weave together and the tale can be told. Or at least, that’s the theory. In the meantime, there are plenty of good stories left to tell.

For now if you would like a free copy of The Mage Chronicles all you have to do it sign up for my newsletter.

The Mage Chronicles

 

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What’s to Come in 2015

I can’t believe it’s almost 2015 already. 2014 has been a really good year. I put out four books in 2014. The Best Boy Ever Made came out in February and it’s been my best selling book so far. Bear Naked 2: Wolf Camp followed in April. Rosie and the Quarry Ghost came out in late summer and The Mage Chronicles just this month.

I’ve been transitioning from mostly writing YA to mostly writing science fiction and fantasy. In 2013 I released my first book as R. J. Eliason. In 2014 it was even, two YA novels as Rachel Eliason and two fantasy novels as R. J. Eliason. 2015 will be slanted even more towards fantasy. I have four books I plan to publish in 2015 and three of them will be under R. J. Eliason. When they come out is the three and half thousand dollar question.

Bear Naked 3: The Hunter and the Hunted

The next installment in the Bear Naked saga is almost ready to go. It’s with beta readers now and I am starting to get the feedback I need to clean up the final pieces of the story. I hope to have it to my editor by the first of the year and publish it sometime this spring.

Blurb:

When Uncle Darren goes missing on a winter camping trip, it’s up to Amanda and her gang to find him. The only problem is that where he went missing is Idaho, that’s Skinwalker territory and the Native American cousins aren’t always friendly with to Werewolves.

Children of a New Earth

This is the first novel I ever wrote. Like most first novels, it’s taken dozens of rewrites and a lot of work to make it good enough to publish. It is finally ready for the editor. It is a post apocalyptic novel with a twist.

Blurb:

Amy Beland has grown up constantly at odds with the men and the views of Freedom Ranch, a survivalist enclave buried deep in the Rocky Mountains. And yet it will fall to her to journey outside their valley for the first since the society collapsed, before she was even born, to save the ranch.

The Banner of Kash

The Banner of Kash is the next Gilded Empire book. It begins a trilogy of interconnected stories about the gnome race.

Blurb:

Kendran has been a ranger in the Border Legions for over twenty five years, ever since his brother caught him with another man. Now he’s been called back to the reservation because the same brother is in trouble. He must walk a world of divided loyalties and old race hatreds to learn the truth about an ancient relic of his people, the Banner of Kash.

The Agony, The Ecstasy and the Buddha.

A memoir about my month in Thailand, having a sex change operation. It’s been done in rough form for some time and is almost ready to for it’s final edits. I will likely publish it under Rachel Eliason.

The Three and a Half Thousand Dollar Question

When will these books be out? Well, I don’t know. Three are essentially ready for the editor. The fourth could be made ready with one hard push, maybe a few weeks.

As an indie author I pay for the editing, cover design, etc. up front. Once I’ve paid those costs, I get the lion’s share of the benefit. That’s the good part. The bad part is, I pay those cost up front. It’s not exactly cheap either. I generally estimate a little over a thousand dollars per book.

If you look at the costs individually, about half my books have broke even and are now making me money. The other books are on track to break even and I have faith they will all at least make as much money as I spent putting them out.

Collectively they earn me a small but steady side income. I am hoping that my business as a whole will break even and become profitable within the next couple years.

The challenge is that books don’t start earning money until they are out, after you’ve spent the up front cost. So the fastest way to earn money is to get the books out, but that requires having the money to put the books out.

Which brings us to the three and a half thousand dollar question. Can I find that much money? If so, should I spend it all at once and get the three nearly ready books on the market? Or should I wait and put them out as I can afford to, later in the year? I haven’t quite decided yet.

My Writing in 2015

Writing a book is a long project. I already have many of the books I will write in 2015 in the planning stages, with an eye towards what I will publish in 2016. Bear Naked is a series and book four is in planning stages. It might even be ready for fall of 2015, but I haven’t decided yet. The Banner of Kash is a trilogy and book two has been started in planning stages as well.

I have a science fiction series I want to start this year as well. It’s about first contact with the Galactic Consortium. It will be serialized in an episodic format, like a television series. The first “season” is the Girl in the Tank.

Blurb:

Leaving her children with an increasingly deadbeat husband and their sometimes dysfunctional grandmother is just one of the hardships of military service, Cheyenne Walker knows this. When conflict arises between the Consortium and China over the island of Taiwan, America is drawn in as uneasy Allies. A Chinese Nuclear Sub rises less than two hundred feet off the bow of the aging Burke Class Destroyer, the Cambridge, and Cheyenne’s duty as gunner, however painful, is clear. She must destroy the missile.

She finds herself floating in a Consortium medical tank, wondering if they really have the technology to rebuild her broken body, wondering if the political situation will stay stable enough for her to ever get back to America, or if she will see her kids again.

Stateside she is herald as a hero. On board the medical evac ship Corelean she struggles with divided loyalties and a growing attraction to her master healer, Lana. Will she return to America and the life she knew, or forge a new one among the stars?