Endings, Beginnings, and the Middle of a Big Project.

I finished another rough draft this week. It’s the third in my apocalypse series. You can check out Home for the Holidays here. Zoey and the Zombies is nearly through self edits. A Fishy End is now resting, I will come back in a month or two and re-read it. My plan is to take all three manuscripts and submit them to my editor over the winter sometime and publish them next year. I’m excited about getting this series out.

Home for the holidays web

My next project, the one I am doing for Nanowrimo is Bear Naked Four: the Wolf Council. I have been trying to focus on series, in particular having most of a series done before I try to publish and promote them. In that vein, writing the rough draft to Bear Naked Four means I should go on to write five and six immediately after, wrapping up the entire story arc.

I say should because I wrote a while ago about Big Project Blues. Book four of a six book series, now that’s big project blues. Novels have become old hat to me now. But this series is stretching out of my comfort zone. Hopefully writing book four will bring me back some of the passion of the series, I really love the characters and I love where the story is going. It’s just getting it there.

I can’t complain, though. I love writing. It’s what keeps me going when the rest of life gets hard.

In the meantime I am expecting to get back the second episode of my Sci-fi serial, The Girl in the Tank today and start working on prepping it for publication. Episode two: A Shaky Start should be available at the start of the month, on multiple platforms.

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The Soundtrack for Bear Naked 3

A long time back now I posted about the music I was listening to while writing the first Bear Naked book. It proved a popular post so I repeated the post. For this weeks Bear Naked 3 teaser, I am reposting this, the soundtrack for Bear Naked 3: The Hunted.

I listen to music a lot when I write. Most of the time it’s simply to drown out distractions, what I am listening to isn’t that important. But music can also help set the mood, and I will find myself listening to the same albums and artist over and over through some novels, only to switch when I start a new project.

The entire Bear Naked series has a folksy feel to it for me. Not surprisingly, Turn of the Wheel by Tempest remains at the top of my play list as I wrote The Hunted. Tempest is a celtic rock band with a very unique sound. It fits the feel of the neo-pagans in Bear Naked, Uncle Darren and his whole family.

Bear Naked 3 finds Uncle Darren missing somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Amanda and her pack have to find him. It’s Skinwalker territory and these Native American cousins to the werewolves aren’t always on the best terms. The Skinwalker’s relation with other tribes is complicated by Native American history and they are suspicious of outsiders like the Leidulfs.

One of my favorite Native American artists, Robbie Robertson climbs to the number two spot on my playlist for Bear Naked 3. Music for the Native Americans by Robbie Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble is the album that plays the most while I write.

Coyote Grace has an incredibly folksy feel and they continue to be among my most listened to artists, especially Boxes and Bags. I can almost imagine my characters listening along as they hike through the mountains.

I used to refer to the Irish band Clannad as “the most famous band no one’s heard of.” Irish music buffs know the name, but outside that group you will mostly get blank stares. But their music is everywhere. From movies like Harry’s Game and Last of the Mohicans to TV shows and commercials, everyone has heard their music. Listening to their greatest hits you’ll see why. Their music is powerfully evocative.

I have an eclectic collection of music with over a hundred albums on my laptop and two or three times that on my CD shelf, slowly accumulated over the years. It ranges for Bjork to the Best of Bollywood, with a fair amount of classic rock, pop and folk music. My listening tastes change with my mood and I could list a lot more albums, but these are the ones that seem most connected to Bear Naked 3.

Fellow writers, do your listening habits change with your writing? Are their particular songs that seem to go with certain novels?

Readers, do you like hearing about the music I am listening to? Does it add to or take away from the reading experience?

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.


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.


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.


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.


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?

Bear Naked 2: Wolf Camp

The follow up to Bear Naked is out and available on Amazon.

Bear Naked 2: Wolf Camp follows the saga Amanda Burnson and her friends as they grow and develop their shifter powers.


Wolf Camp is not your typical arts-and-crafts summer camp. It’s a training ground for future 
werewolves, where their mental and physical limits are constantly tested and honed. 

There are many hurdles to overcome: Amanda, an adolescent werebear, can’t control her 
transformations yet; and Connor and his pack are the camp misfits. Then they discover a new 
threat from the Sons of Garm, this time from within the Leidulf tribe. 

Will Amanda and her werewolf friends be able to navigate these new waters? Maybe with a 
little help from a couple of old friends? 



Bear Naked 2: Wolf Camp Cover Reveal

Bear Naked 2: Wolf Camp will be out sometime in March. For now, here is the cover and blurb. Comments welcome, of course.

Bear Naked 2: Wolf Camp Coming Soon

Bear Naked 2: Wolf Camp Coming Soon




Wolf Camp is not your typical arts-and-crafts summer camp. It’s a training ground for future werewolves, where their mental and physical limits are constantly tested and honed. There are many hurdles to overcome: Amanda, an adolescent werebear, can’t control her transformations yet; and Connor and his pack are the camp misfits. Then they discover a new threat from the Sons of Garm, this time from within the Leidulf tribe. Will Amanda and her werewolf friends be able to navigate these new waters? Maybe with a little help from a couple of old friends?


Any feedback on the blurb would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.








The Ten Best Things About Being a Werewolf





Last week I wrote about the ten downsides of being a werewolf/shapeshifter. But there are more positives than downsides, especially in the Bear Naked world. So what are the best things about being a werewolf?

1. Wolves are stronger than humans

A lot of guys want to flex their biceps and try to intimidate you. Secretly you are laughing at all of them, because shifters are much stronger than humans. Bears are the strongest, followed by wolves. Otters are the weakest of the shifters but even they are surprisingly strong. School bullies are a lot less intimidating when you know you can bounce them down the hall if you wanted to.

2. Wolves are faster

Need to be somewhere in a hurry? Go on four feet. Wolves can run long distances without tiring.

3. The healing gift

It takes a lot to put a werewolf down, in large part thanks to the healing gift. Is it science or magic? No one knows for sure. But what we do know is this, take a deep cut to the shoulder and tomorrow it will be little more than a scratch. Even bullet holes will heal over in a fraction of the time.

There are limits, as with everything. Whatever the healing gift is, it’s in the blood. If your blood stops pumping, say because someone shoots a huge hole in your heart, you’re dead. If you lose a limb, you lose a limb.

4. Better sense of smell

Wolves have a remarkable sense of smell. Every tribe has its own unique chemistry and you can learn to identify which tribe a shifter is from by catching his or her scent. You can also follow your pack mates by trailing their scent, useful on long missions.

5. Better vision

Wolves have better eyesight than humans, especially in low light situations.

6. Your Pack

Being part of a pack means someone always has your back, no matter what. It means wherever you go, you have your clique and your family with you. As adults packs work together. Everything is better that way. They share responsibilities and chores. There is always a babysitter around. They share money, allowing them to live decent lives without having to sacrifice everything to their human jobs.

7. Your Tribe

You don’t just have a pack when you are a werewolf, you have a tribe as well. The tribe cooperates on bigger enterprises. You never have to be afraid of getting in over your head because you can always call on your tribe to bail you out.

8. Self defense

Between the healing gift and being stronger than the average human, werewolves don’t have a lot to fear. On top of that, most werewolves have some rudimentary martial arts training. fighting is still important to werewolf culture and a skill not easily forgotten. If all else fails, shift. Wolves have better natural weaponry, sharp teeth and long claws.

9. More interesting lives

What did you do this summer? Did you save a friend’s life this spring? Are you going to spend the summer learning to shift and fight in wolf form? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Werewolves have much more interesting lives that you and I.

10. Kick ass summer camp

Finally on the list of best things about being a werewolf is the Leidulf Wolf Camp. Built deep in the woods in Northern Wisconsin, its the ideal place to train new werewolves. Its a long hike from civilization but an easy distance from the Elder’s camp, where all the big tribal decisions are made. Wolf Camp is no picnic. There are tribal and pack hierarchies to work out. There are challenges, martial arts tournaments and its own unique traditions, like knock downs. The one thing it’s not, is boring.

Bear Naked 2: Wolf Camp

Ten Problems with Being a Werewolf

Being a Werewolf sounds cool but there are downsides, too.

Being a Werewolf sounds cool but there are downsides, too.






Being a shapeshifter sounds really cool, but as we see in the first Bear Naked book, there are downsides. What are the challenges that face modern day shifters?

1. Clothing

Wolf form is differently shaped and sized. Anything you are wearing is probably not going to survive the transition. That’s no big deal when you become a wolf, but it is kind of a big deal when you go back to human. How do you explain your sudden nudity? Not to mention the cost of constantly having to purchase new outfits.

2. Guns

Yeah, shifters are about the biggest bad asses out there. But put a forty five in the hands of a wimp and they can still blow a huge hole in your chest. That sucks.

3. Money

Being a werewolf is a lot of hard work, made harder by the fact that it doesn’t pay shit. Remember what Aaron Leidulf says, “you will always have to balance human needs and human society against wolf needs and society”

4. Humans kind of stink

Having a super sensitive nose is great when you need to track something in wolf form, but let’s face it, do you really want to smell the average human? I didn’t think so.

5. Raw meat

You can survive in wolf form if you need to, and that’s really awesome. But it means hunting and then eating your kill raw, and that is a lot less awesome.

6. Not telling

A lot of cool stuff happens to shifters, but they have to keep it to themselves. You can’t just go around blabbing.

Someone's pet wolf? Or Shapeshifter friend in disguise?

Someone’s pet wolf? Or Shapeshifter friend in disguise?

7. Being part of a pack

Being in a pack has a lot of upsides. Your pack brothers and sisters have got your back. You will never be lonely again. But there are downsides too. Don’t expect a lot of privacy. Or choice, the pack sticks together no matter what. You will spend the rest of your life living and working wherever the pack decides.

8. Pack Hierarchy

Have you noticed that most Shapeshifter fantasies are told from the point of view of the alphas? Why is that? Maybe because being one of the betas or worse still, the omega, isn’t nearly as much fun.

9. Other Werewolves

Wolves are territorial by nature and they don’t all play nice. So get out there and defend your territory.

10. Bears are still bigger

Werewolves are about the biggest badasses out there. But they aren’t the biggest badasses. That spot is reserved for Bear Clan.

What do you think are the downsides of being a werewolf? Do they outweigh the benefits, or not? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

And if you haven’t checked out Bear Naked yet, here is the link.


A New Novel and a New Page

I am setting up a new page for my new pen name and novel. The pen name is R. J. Eliason and the Novel is Bear Naked.

I will be using R. J. Eliason for all my adult fantasy and science fiction writing. I am not using it to hide my identity or my writing. R. J. (short for Rachel Jean) is close enough to my real name that friends, family and fans can easily find my adult fantasy. But at the same time it is different enough from Rachel Eliason.

I publish Contemporary Young Adult novels under my given name, Rachel Eliason. Some readers love contemporary novels, novels set in the real world of today. Some lovers readers love fantasy, novels set in other worlds. A few readers love both. For those with a particular taste in writing they can tell at a glance which kind of book my latest release is.

The novel is Bear Naked. It is the beginning of a shapeshifter series. Amanda Burnson is a young woman living in Dubuque Iowa. She is starting her junior year in high school. She lives on the edge of town with her Uncle Darren and her younger brother. A neo-pagan who spends most of the summer traveling to fairs and festivals, overweight with an odor problem and best friend to an effeminate boy, Jay; there are many reasons why the other kids tease her.

But this year is different. Jay has a new friend, a gender queer kid named Corey/Courtney. A boy named Connor, who last year was as loner, now seems calm and friendly – a huge change. He has a group of new friends who quickly befriend Amanda and Jay as well. Connor and Amanda grow closer as the year progresses.

Things are looking up for Amanda, except that there are people trying to kill her. And she’s starting to suspect that Connor and his friends might not be exactly human…

Bear Naked, a shapeshifter novel, available soon.

Bear Naked, a shapeshifter novel, available soon.

The novel is being published through the Wordverve.  My prior books have been completely “Indie”. This is my first experience with a small press and so far I am really pleased. I am looking forward to seeing this book out. More importantly I am looking forward to writing the rest of the series without so many concerns about the editing, formatting and publishing piece.

If anyone is wanting a review copy, leave a comment or send me a personal message.  I will be compiling a list of reviewers and blog sites shortly. I hope to have about thirty reviewers lined up by release.