Paperback Release: Lair of the Wizards (Hidden Hills 1)

It’s been awhile, but I’m back with a new paperback release. This time, it’s Lair of the Wizards.

For ages, the wizards guided the people of Stada. They brought knowledge, advancement. They were the bearers of the future. But generations have lived since the last wizards left the land for parts unknown. Now war with a neighboring realm is bringing Stada to the brink, and the tribulations of battle reach even to the city of Karston. Here, the wizards may be gone, but not forgotten. Here, their knowledge lives on, their secrets have been preserved. The tales all tell that the wizards lived in the Hidden Hills north of town. Although they left, their home remains, and when an earthquake rattles Karston, it reveals the path leading to the lair of the wizards.

The setting is circa 1500, in terms of technology and society: after the Middle Ages, around the start of the Renaissance, and with the Scientific Revolution almost in sight. So it’s not exactly fantasy, but a lot of the elements are still there: a feudal society, belief in magic, a moderately heavy emphasis on religion, etc. Oh, and it’s teen-focused, much like Orphans of the Stars. That’s just how I roll.

This one’s massive. Seriously. It has 52 chapters. The paperback weighs in at 660 pages. The manuscript itself hit 233,000 words. It’s my largest release to date, and the third-longest book I’ve ever written. (The longest is the sequel, Rise of the Wizards, which isn’t quite ready for release yet. And I promised myself I wouldn’t bring Heirs of Divinity into this discussion. Oops.) But that extra size gives me a lot more freedom. I can ramble, as I tend to do. I can build up more slowly, take a little time for digression. In other series, I sometimes feel rushed. Not so here.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t intend it that way from the start. Indeed, Lair was originally conceived as a series of short stories! By the time I’d finished four chapters, I realized that wasn’t going to happen, and I switched gears, turning it into the epic it became. Then, I started making plans to turn it into a novel series. I’ve got four in total: Lair, Rise, and the unwritten sequels Return of the Wizards and Legacy of the Wizards.


Before I give you the links to Amazon and Patreon, I want to talk a little more. First, the writing process, because this one took a long time. I started writing in 2015, finished the draft in 2017, and took three more years to edit it into the masterpiece I released today. In a way, it has covered my entire writing “career” up to this point. It grew. Vastly.

So did I. At the start, I didn’t have much of an idea where I was taking it. I’d written the first Otherworld novel (plus two and a half that I threw away), Heirs, Before I Wake, and a couple of short stories.

And then I had an idea. What if a few teens in a medieval-style fantasy world found evidence of modern-era technology? It would be, in a way, the converse of Otherworld. On top of that, I would be able to write something closer to “traditional” fantasy in terms of setting. Well, except for the fact that I find traditional fantasy settings boring. I actually like the post-medieval era more. One author (I can’t remember if it was Martin or Jordan or who) once said that the invention of gunpowder is the end of fantasy. I disagree, and I’m willing to prove it. The Hidden Hills series has early guns, and most of my fantasy-like settings are similar. (Occupation is closer to Victorian than medieval, and even Otherworld has early cannons now!)

Worldbuilding on this one was very, very sparse. I have no map of Stada, not even an outline. I didn’t make out demographics tables for Karston. Where I did take it into account, I made sure to go into detail, but this series is more focused on characters and plot than setting, so I cheated a bit to start. Since then, I’ve expanded in a lot of areas, such as the polytheistic religion of Stada or the geography of the wider world it inhabits. But the main focus continues to be the interaction of pre-modern characters and near-future technology.

As for the name of the series, that one came to me early, and it’s dear to my heart. When I first started writing, I imagined a town near a line of large hills or small mountains, much like where I live. Some of those hills would have their own history, as told by the people dwelling beside them. One pair, actually connected in the middle, gained a bit of a reputation for being haunted.

I live on such a hill. No joke. Wikipedia has two pages for my town: one for the town itself, another for the street my house is on. And that’s the longer one, because not one, but two ghosts have been sighted on this street. One dates back to the Civil War, the other to 1775. (For the record, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’ve heard some awfully suspicious sounds over the last 18 years.)

The idea of a local legend about a haunted hill was just natural. It also made the perfect excuse to hide a secret underground bunker. But people couldn’t live there forever, right? They’d go crazy cooped up like that, a fact I recognized long before lockdowns were a thing. So they would have to come out eventually, and they would gain a reputation among the more mundane inhabitants of the town. Their technology, their secrecy, and their otherworldliness would set them apart.

From there, connecting the dots was pretty simple. The outsiders had to be wizards, right? And there’s the fantasy angle, even if there’s no “real” magic going around. Starting the story with an earthquake? A little hacky, but it let me hit the ground running, while also giving a reason for what was hidden to become somewhat less so.

But I still needed a name for the “haunted” hills, and this is where my family history comes in. Before I was born, my parents lived in the Hidden Hills trailer park. (Note, not a mobile home park. This was Tennessee in 1982. They were called trailers, even if they stood still.) Later on, my aunt lived there, too. In 2015, when I started writing Lair, my stepdad’s brother, who had been living over our garage until his COPD got too bad, moved into the very same place. In fact, the very same lot where I may have been conceived 33 years earlier. It was on my mind, and it just felt right.

I’m always looking for ways to give shout-outs to the ones I love. Lee’s son in Otherworld gets a native name I can shorten to Tommy so he can be named after my stepdad’s other brother, who passed away while I was writing A Bridge Between Worlds, as well as my grandfather. Ian’s boss in The Soulstone Sorcerer is an obese man named Joseph, in honor of my deceased cousin. Cam’s friend in Endless Forms is named Katherine Key for my aunt Kathy, whose initials are KEY. His favorite streamer is my brother. And the fourth book, once I get to writing it, is going to be based in Nashville for two reasons. One, my late uncle, who made a career there in music (and other things I can’t talk about) and always wanted to go back. Two, it’s much nearer to the woman I love, and putting her in a book looking like the only way I’ll ever get to be close to her.

For Lair, then, I went with the hills that were the most influential on my life. Not Signal Mountain, Lookout Mountain, or Walden’s Ridge. Nope. This series and its centerpiece location are named after a trailer park. Why? Because family means something. Especially these days, when you can’t count on anyone else.


So that’s the story behind the story. Now you can get to reading the actual novel. Make time, though. As I said before, it’s huge, and it’s priced accordingly. Over at Amazon, you can pick up the Kindle version for $5.99, while the paperback is $19.99. (Overpriced, I know, but it’s the only way I make any reasonable profit.) If you’d rather support me on a recurring basis, head over to my Patreon, where you can get Lair and a ton of other books in DRM-free EPUB format, starting at $1/month.

And, as always, keep reading!

Release: Innocence Reborn (Orphans of the Stars 1)

The time has finally come. Innocence Reborn, the first novel in my Orphans of the Stars YA space adventure series, is now available on Amazon KDP and in paperback!

Space is a frontier. Space is an adventure.

Levi Maclin was always interested in the vastness of space. He dreamed of sailing through the void, exploring new worlds, seeing alien suns. This summer, he hoped to have his chance. Instead of going to beach for their vacation, his family would travel across light-years to Outland Resort, humanity’s most distant colony, its farthest frontier. It was a getaway, an adventure, a dream come true…until it wasn’t.

Some vacations are ruined by hurricanes, others by blizzards, but Levi’s falls apart when a series of unidentified objects streak across the sky above Outland Resort. They aren’t meteors. They aren’t comets. They’re weapons, weapons trained on the resort and its whole world. Suddenly, his adventure takes an unexpected turn. As concern turns to panic, he can only think one thought: how did it all go so wrong?

Told through the eyes of Levi, his brother, and a number of other children and teens they meet along the way, this series is my attempt at making space acessible and fun in a way rarely seen today. Readers of all ages will find something to like about this one, I believe. The characters are young, thrust into an unpredictable and volatile situation that requires them to grow up fast, but they retain their youthful vigor and mindset throughout. While the science isn’t 100% rigorous (there’s FTL travel, for example), it’s far more than mere handwaving. There’s action, drama, adversity and triumph.

And there’s space. Lots and lots of it. Orphans of the Stars has space travel. It has ships, colonies, asteroid mining, domed cities, pirates, combat, and much, much more. Check it out on my Patreon in the Casual Reader tier or on Amazon for $3.99 (Kindle) / $11.99 (paperback), and remember to keep reading!

Amazon release: Change of Heart (Endless Forms 3)

I know I said Innocence Reborn was the next novel I’d release, but this one slipped in. Today, March 24, you can pick up Change of Heart, the third in my Endless Forms paranormal detective series, on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

What is real, and what is within our minds?

Cam Weir has seen things no human being should ever look upon. Once, he was a skeptic, believing that monsters were nothing more than figments of the imagination. Hallucinations, certainly not reality. But now he knows the truth.

And the truth is only getting stranger, for this case doesn’t match those he has investigated. Details are different. Motives are unclear. Worst of all, the gruesome murder of an accountant will lead Cam to a frightening conclusion. Because this monster will strike too close to his heart.

The Kindle version is $3.49, while the paperback format costs a little more at $9.50, but it’s worth a few extra dollars to have the physical book in your hands, isn’t it? And if you want access to all my works, make sure to check out my Patreon, where you’ll find everything.

Although all my writing is currently on hold, I do plan more in the Endless Forms series. Pitch Shift is the 4th book, and it will come one of these days, I promise. So enjoy Change of Heart, and keep reading!

Amazon release: The Beast Within (Endless Forms 2)

Has it been a year already? Time for another Amazon release.

Fame is fleeting, but fear lives on forever.

The monsters are real. Cam Weir knows this. He’s seen them in the flesh, in all their naked, hideous glory. Yet he remains skeptical. Perhaps two monsters were enough for one man, for one life. Surely all those other things people see, those shadows lurking in the night, were merely products of overactive imaginations.

In most cases, they are nothing more, but not every call Cam receives can be so easily explained as a hoax. As he struggles to come to terms with his new status as a celebrity, a famous hunter of the paranormal, Cam finds that the world is strange, and it’s only becoming stranger. Now, in addition to Bigfoot, he must hunt a werewolf.

If you’re interested, head on over to the book’s page, where you can find a link to the Kindle Store for the digital edition, or the paperback for those who, like me, prefer the real thing. As always, be sure to check my Patreon for more info on how you can support me.

Amazon: Taking a break

In the past two years, I’ve posted quite a bit of my work on Amazon through their KDP program. That’s great. It really is. I won’t say I’ve been all that successful with it, but I have seen a modest number of sales here and there. Even better is the newer paperback option. I prefer physical books, and I truly love holding one bearing my name in my own two hands. That’s a wonderful feeling, probably the closest I’ll ever get to holding a child of my own.

Today, I had planned to release my novel Innocence Reborn in paperback. But I won’t. Why? Because I’m taking a break from KDP for a while. I don’t know if Innocence Reborn is ready for the platform, and it’s just too much trouble changing things around to fit their requirements. I’ve had no end of problems adjusting margins, for example, because LuaTeX (the engine I use to create print-ready PDFs) doesn’t play nice with whatever Amazon uses to measure. Thus, my “0.75 inch” margin—the minimum required for a book of the intended size—is somehow smaller than the “0.750000 inch” that they ask for.

On top of that, I have yet to get the print cover looking the way I want. In every case thus far (Before I Wake, Nocturne, The Linear Cycle, and The Shape of Things) the end result comes out too dark. Granted, I’ve used black backgrounds for three of those, and a dark red for The Linear Cycle, but…I’m no artist. I’m not a designer. I really don’t know what’s going on, nor do I know how to ask for help, let alone whether anyone would bother giving it.

This isn’t permanent. I fully intend to come back to the platform, but I really feel like I need a break from the hassle. Let me write. That’s all I ask. Then, once I’m done with the writing (and the editing, the re-editing, the re-re-editing…), I’ll worry about print-friendly cover art, half-title pages, and things like that.