Tag Archives: treasure hunt

A word about IXEOS

Calvin & Hobbes, always on an adventure!

Calvin & Hobbes, always on an adventure!

A new genre adventure is about to begin! As some of you know, to date I’ve published 3 books in 2 genres. I have two “cozy adventure” treasure hunts (what that means is that they’re clean and fun, and you don’t have to worry about anything embarrassing or gross) called Solomon’s Throne and The Hoard of the Doges. I also have a Christian historical romance set in the Civil War that’s also a mystery. It’s called Undaunted Love.

But now (maybe even today — we’ll see!) I am about to set off into a whole new genre: Young Adult sci-fi fantasy. With a lot of dystopian and a little romance thrown in. I’m really excited about IXEOS and the two books that will follow, IXEOS: Rebellion (April) and Darian’s War (June). I have had a complete blast writing them, for one thing, and I think the plot is fun, unique and interesting. There are lots of characters doing really cool things and trying to save the world. That’s what we all really want, isn’t it? To be the one to save the world?

IXEOS 800 Cover reveal and Promotional

Here are a few of the main characters from IXEOS:

Neahle McClelland.  Neahle is 18 when she gets lured to Ixeos, and she doesn’t feel like she has any special talents to offer the outsiders. She does feel like she might have something to offer the young French rebel leader, Gilles, though.

Clay McClelland.  When Clay arrives in Ixeos with his sister Neahle and his cousin Marty, he’s not excited by the adventure. He’s just plain mad. But he soon finds out he has a big part to play in freeing Darian, the rebel leader who’s been in prison for fifteen years.

Marty McClelland. When it came to looks, God didn’t take a lot of time on Marty, at least in comparison to his cousin Clay. But He made up for it in brains, because Marty is a primo hacker. When he finds out he can hack to his heart’s content on Ixeos, he thinks he’s in heaven. His fellow computer geek Marissa isn’t so bad, either.

Abacus & Vasco. These brothers were the first to arrive in Ixeos from Earth and are the leaders of the outsiders. Abacus is the planner and commander-in-chief, and Vasco is the adventurer. Together they’ve been fighting the Firsts and helping the rebels for over twenty years.

Landon. Landon is the man who got all the outsiders into this mess to begin with. No one knows how he brought them to Ixeos, but they sure know he won’t let them go home. With mysterious powers and a mission to free Darian and drive out the Firsts, he is the sole recruiter of his reluctant outsider army.

The situation on Ixeos is dire:  a humanoid alien race has taken over the planet, killed most of the humans and enslaved the rest. Small pockets of rebels inhabit the cities, but on their own, they can’t defeat the Firsts. Landon has brought teens from Earth to help, and with this ragtag army they will free Darian or die trying.

The book will be out this week — I hope you’ll pick up a copy and let me know what you think!


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If you go to my Facebook page, you can enter my Christmas Giveaway for a signed set of the Quinn adventures: Solomon’s Throne and The Hoard of the Doges. (Feel free to click Like while you’re there, but you don’t have to!)

The Giveaway ends on Friday!

Solomons-Throne-Ebook-Final-2240-for-Amazon-and-Smashwords Hoard-of-the-Doges-2240-for-Amazon-and-Smashwords

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NaNoWriMo – Is it all fun and games?

I’ve written much here about the NaNo detractors, and the fact that most people doing NaNo (my totally made up number is 80-90%, based on reading the forums) are doing it just for the challenge, the same way others try a 5k race or a marathon, or to read a book a week for a year, or any other challenge that strikes their fancy. So detractors, just back off and chill! Ever heard of fun??

However, there are those of us who are serious about writing as a career, who use NaNo to produce quality first drafts of novels we intend to publish. For whatever reason, I write really clean drafts, and I write well really fast. (Great blog here on Random Writing Rants about writing fast.) That’s not tooting my own horn – I have nothing, consciously, to do with it. It just happens that way — I was as surprised as anyone when I read my first NaNo novel in late November and it was good. (Since I didn’t edit along the way, it was almost like reading someone else’s work!)

Since November 2011, I’ve worked really hard. I’ve written 4 novels in 3 genres, and a 130 page screenplay (how I’ll miss Script Frenzy!). I’ve edited and published 3 of those novels (more on that in a minute), and am in the beta reader stage of the 4th. I will be writing the follow-up book to that one for this November’s NaNo. I’m scheduled to release the first of those in mid-January, and should be able to release the second in February or March. (I’m going to Uganda in February, so it will depend on where I am with editing and where Streetlight Graphics is with the cover and formatting.)

For those who might question the quality, I’ve recently discovered Grammarly. I’ve been putting my most recent (August Camp NaNo) book through it a chapter at a time while it’s out with beta readers, and my average grade, using the “creative” filter, is 90%. And most of the “problems” are in dialogue, so really I’m averaging about 95%. All of that to say, I spend many more hours editing than writing, and try to produce a top-notch book.

So for me, while I enjoy the NaNo forums (my favorite thread to date is one entitled “How to ruin a cheesecake (tutorial)”), and love encouraging people to do it no matter what their personal goals, for me those 30 day chunks of time are work. They’re where the idea goes from a seed and scribbled notes to the first draft of a novel that I fully intend to publish. (No, I don’t publish that first draft, and neither should you!)

The bottom line is, if you are in the (totally made up) 10-20% of people who are using NaNo as a way to get a workable first draft for publication, then look at it as your job. Writing and publishing is a business. You may be an artist, but you will be a starving artist if you don’t approach your writing as your job. (I’m going to write a blog post on this soon, so I’ll leave it at that for now…) Have fun – that’s the number one rule. But also, be smart. Be thorough. Be professional. Be willing to write crap, but be willing to fix it later. (On the other hand, if you’re just doing it for the challenge, the only rule is to HAVE FUN!)

On that note, here’s The Hoard of the Doges. It’s actually the first one I’ve published that’s NOT a NaNo novel, although I wrote most of it in a month using the NaNo format. It’s the sequel to Solomon’s Throne, but it stands alone if you haven’t read the previous book. I think it’s really fun, and love writing with the Quinns and Mac. I hope you’ll read it and enjoy!

When her boss finds an Old Master painting buried under centuries of junk in a Venetian cellar, restoration specialist Rei Quinn is over the moon. When she gets kidnapped and the ransom demand is the painting, her enthusiasm understandably wanes. Along with her husband, security specialist Gideon, and their pilot friend Mac, the Quinns discover and decipher a map encoded in the painting. Taking off for Venice and her bygone territories, they begin the search for a treasure hidden since the Crusades. Hot on the trail are members of an ancient crime family, determined to finally claim the Venetian wealth. Who will be the first to find the hoard of the Doges?

The Hoard of the Doges is a fast paced adventure, whisking the reader back to Venice in the Middle Ages and forward to the Greek Isles and beyond.

For shameless self-promotion (it’s my blog, after all!), here are the other two books I have available:

Solomon’s Throne                               Undaunted Love








(We’re now required to put in this disclaimer for anything containing ‘NaNoWriMo’ or ‘National Novel Writing Month’:  “This is not an official NaNoWriMo site, and the content has not been reviewed by National Novel Writing Month. For more information on National Novel Writing Month, visit http://www.nanowrimo.org.”)

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Unveiling the cover of The Hoard of the Doges

My wonderful team at Streetlight Graphics always do such a great job! For those of you who remember it, this cover is very like the Solomon’s Throne cover. We tried some different colors, but they just didn’t work as well, and since this is a sequel, I decided to just go with the similarity. In this small picture it might be hard to see the differences, so here they are:

The map is of Italy, as the story centers around a treasure hoard of the Doges of Venice in the Middle Ages.

There is a crown in the red slashed section, done in shades of gray.

I think the book will be online and in print next week! How exciting is that?!

So in the meantime, you can download your FREE copy of Solomon’s Throne to your Kindle this weekend, Friday-Sunday. That’s the first Rei and Gideon Quinn adventure, so be sure to check it out!

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Amazon logarithms and being a ‘best seller’

As of right now, Solomon’s Throne is #5 on Amazon’s Action/Adventure list! That’s super exciting, obviously, and it’s happening because I put it as a free download on Amazon over the weekend.

Now, what that means in practical terms is that KDP Select, which is Amazon’s lending library for Amazon Prime members, allows authors to have 5 “giveaway” days during each 90 day enrollment period. When you borrow it from KDP Select, of course it’s free, but you don’t get to keep it — they whisk it away from your device when you indicate you’re done, so you can borrow another book. But with the giveaway days, you can download it to own, and it doesn’t cost you anything.

I don’t get any royalties from the free downloads, so from a purely financial standpoint, it’s a loss. (With KDP Select, Amazon has a set amount of money for the month, and divides that by the total number of “borrows” across the whole program, and then multiplies that by the number you had for your royalty.) But what it does is get my book in people’s hands. And hopefully they’ll like what they read, and want to read more. Conveniently (okay, it was planned), the sequel to Solomon’s Throne, The Hoard of the Doges, will be coming out in the next couple of weeks. What that potentially means is that all (or a percentage) of the people who download the first Quinn book for free will like it enough to want to read the next book, for which they will be happy to pay.

I have 3 more free days, and I’m planning a second free weekend either just as, or just before, I release the sequel. The sum total of the KDP borrows, the regular purchases, and the 5 free days will be in the thousands. And my marketing strategy is to have a place to point them… I’ll let you know if it works!

One of the problems of writing in different genres is the backlist. I wanted to get the 2 Quinn books out close together, so that readers who enjoy the treasure hunt/adventure would have a second book to read. But my other published novel, Undaunted Love, is a Christian historical romance.

Some of the people who read Solomon’s Throne will also like Undaunted Love – Solomon’s Throne has had great appeal to women because of the strong female main character, the marital relationship between the Quinns, and the fact that, while there’s excitement, body parts aren’t flying around. So some of those reader will like Undaunted Love. Probably more readers of Undaunted Love will like the Quinn books, truth be told. My current work in progress is a Young Adult dystopian low fantasy… It might appeal to the Quinn lovers, and probably won’t to the romance lovers. I have an idea for my NaNoWriMo book, which, if it works out, would be published next spring. It will be a Christian historical romance/suspense set in WWII. Again – those readers will like the Quinn books, and certainly Undaunted Love… But vice versa, probably not.

You see how complicated it is? I could make it easier by writing in one genre, but I can’t seem to do that. I couldn’t write another Quinn book right now – I don’t even want to think of a plot – although people have already asked me when the next one is coming. I wrote a dystopian screenplay in April, and now this dystopian YA, but I don’t want to write another dystopian for awhile. I was leaving the genre open for my NaNo idea (and also leaving open the fact that I might not have a NaNo idea!), but I think this one could have legs.

What this means is two-fold:  I have a lot more marketing cut out for me than a lot of authors who only write in one genre, get a following, and can pretty much guarantee to sell their next books to those wonderful readers. And even with that knowledge, I still like to cross genres, and will continue to do so.

What my books all have in common is good research, interesting plots, language that’s clean (even the Quinn books have only a little swearing, and nothing “bad”), and I leave the sex to your imagination. I want my kids to be able to read my books and be proud to recommend them to their friends. I want them to be entertaining, and for the reader to enjoy the plot and maybe learn something about history they didn’t know, and not feel like they have to take a shower afterwards. When someone says, “Is your book okay for a 9th grader?” I want to be able to say, “Yes” confidently.

I hope you’ll find something in my work that you like. My goal is to entertain, not write the next great American novel, but I work hard at them and try to present a great story and characters for you to fall in love with. Let me know how I’m doing!


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