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: The Price of Freedom (Tales of Two Worlds 6)

Here we are, nearing the end of another year. And we’ve reached the end of another set of Otherworld stories. Tales of Two Worlds concludes today with “The Price of Freedom”:

Adinia, the land of the free, the other world’s refuge for the broken. Here, there are no slaves. No man may own another. Damonte made sure of that when he founded his city of liberty. In the months since, he has learned that freedom isn’t free. It must be protected, as must the people who have taken his opportunity. His nascent nation sits in a precarious position, vulnerable to its neighbors and the elements alike. Yet freedom, he knows, is worth any price.

Of course, you know where to find my complete Otherworld collection. It’s over at my Patreon, on its usual sale price of only $3/month. Pick it up, why don’t you? It’ll help me pay for Christmas presents.

Now, this may be the end of Tales of Two Worlds, but we’re far from the finish line for the Otherworld series as a whole. In 2021, I’ll bring you Season 3 of the “main” storyline, which I’ve titled Adventures in the Otherworld. It’ll be big, I promise. So I ask only one thing from all of you.

Keep reading!

Release: Destiny Fulfilled (Tales of Two Worlds 5)

We’ve come a long way. Some of us more than others. And in the case of two characters from this installment of Tales of Two Worlds, the distance is unimaginable.

For some, the other world is home, and ours is the alien land. A man on a mission discovers that the land he believed a paradise is instead something else entirely. His sister, happy in the life she has made, fears for him, yet she wants him to experience the same wonder she had a year ago. And her husband would gladly forget about the other world altogether, but he knows he can’t. The bonds of family are strong, even when pulled to their limit.

Since it’s an Otherworld story, you know it’s exclusive to my Patreon. And you know it only costs you 3 bucks a month to pick it up. So I don’t need to say that…except that I already did.

Well, no matter. The next in line is also the last. Tune in this November for the Tales finale, “The Price of Freedom”. Until that day comes, keep reading!

Release: A Life Complete (Tales of Two Worlds 4)

Four down, two to go. The Tales of Two Worlds series enters its second half with this fourth installment, “A Life Complete”, which returns to two of my favorite characters in the entire setting. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

To live in the other world is to cast away much of what makes a modern man…or woman. Amy knew this, and she willingly gave up the life she knew, its comfortable familiarity, for love of the unknown. Alex, by contrast, chose this path because he felt he had nothing to lose. Both see now that the road is hard, the struggle real, but they believe that, by working together, they can overcome the obstacles while bringing into their new lives a little piece of the old.

If you want to check this one out, you can find it and all its many brethren over at my Patreon. A mere 3 dollars per month is all it takes, and you get more than just a few novellas. So much more.

For those of you following along at home, the pattern should be obvious. We’ll come to the penultimate tale in September, and it’s called “Destiny Fulfilled”. I can’t wait, but you can 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!

Release: Secrets Uncovered (Tales of Two Worlds 3)

Here we reach the halfway point of this newest bridge to the Otherworld. Tales of Two Worlds continues today with “Secrets Uncovered”:

Some things never change, and Jeff believes he has found many of those in the other world. And he has also found archaeological evidence from the most ancient days, tantalizing clues to the mysteries he has longed to solve for over a year. As a professor at an alien university, his responsibilities stand in the way of devoting himself fully to research, but he knows he needs something to show when his friends from home arrive for the third time.

I’ll admit that this one is more “slice of life” than my usual writings, but sometimes you have to take a break, right?

This tale, like the previous two dozen in the Otherworld series, can be found on my Patreon, where you can get the whole set by pledging only 3 dollars. That’s not even a Memorial Day deal—it’s always that cheap!

For the second half of 2020, I’ll be releasing the second half of this series. Next on the list is “A Life Complete”, coming in July. See you then, and remember to keep reading!

Release: Alone With Myself (Tales of Two Worlds 2)

The tales continue. Here’s the second of Tales of Two Worlds. Be warned, this one is the closest I’ve ever written to a “bad guy” point of view.

Another world. The other world. Pete Towson always knew aliens existed, but when he was presented with undeniable proof, with the chance to meet them in the flesh, he knew he had to take it, whatever the cost. Now, alone in an unfamiliar land, he must use all his skills, his intelligence, and his cunning. The first task is survival, but where will his road lead?

“Alone With Myself” is, like every story in the Otherworld series, currently exclusive to my Patreon. You can get it and the entire saga for a pledge of only a few dollars a month.

Next up is “Secrets Uncovered”, coming in May. I hope to see you then. For now, 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!

Release: The Frozen North (Tales of Two Worlds 1)

It’s time to build some more bridges to the Otherworld. This set of 6 stories is called Tales of Two Worlds, and it focuses on the “in-between” times following last year’s Point of Origin and Future in Sight.

First up is “The Frozen North”, and here’s a blurb for you:

The other world touches ours in many places, and Damian Enfield believes he can find one of them. The problem? It lies deep in the Canadian wilderness, miles away from any modern civilization, locked in ice for the winter months. Even after he locates the most promising site, time is short, and his team must contend with not only the elements, but other forces beyond their control, for some foes may pose as friends.

As always, my Otherworld stories are available on my Patreon for a mere 3 dollars per month. And you get all of them: 23, as of this writing. That’s too good a deal to pass up.

Make sure to check back in March, when you’ll get the second installment of this series, “Alone With Myself”. Until then, remember to keep reading!

Release: Future in Sight (Return to the Otherworld 8)

This is it, the end of the line. Well, at least for this season. Here’s Future in Sight, Part 8 of Return to the Otherworld.

This is no longer the other world. For those who dwell here, whether by birth or choice, it is home.

Seven have now crossed the stars to take this place as their own, and their reasons are as unique as their personalities. Knowledge, science, acceptance, love, or lust, the outcome is the same. They are the colonists, the pioneers, and their numbers, they know, will grow with each passing year.

But being in this world means becoming a part of it, with all that entails. In a place no longer foreign, they are drawn into politics, intrigue, the games of a land not their own. Those around them, their families, friends, apprentices, and students, can do little but come along for the ride, and that ride is reaching its roughest section yet.

Last time, it was all about Earth. This time, it’s all about the Otherworld. Specifically, this story only has POVs from characters who live there. Whether they were born there, or simply moved, the Otherworld is their home and this is their story. And it’s about to get a lot bigger.

But not this year. Future in Sight marks the end of 2019, at least as far as this setting is concerned. Next year, I’ll be back with 6 new “bridge” stories, a set I’m calling Tales of Two Worlds. And then, in 2021, I hope to bring out Season 3 of the “main” series, which I’ve tentatively titles Adventures in the Otherworld. I’ll see you then!