Monthly Archives: September 2023

Announcing the Goddess’s Honor rerelease

As I prepare to write the Goddess’s Vision series, one task that was on my mind was the rerelease of the first series set in that world, Goddess’s Honor. I had a number of reasons for rereleasing Goddess’s Honor in a second edition.

First of all, while my old covers were lovely, they simply didn’t fit current trends in fantasy. They also didn’t reflect the dominance of powerful women in that world. These covers are far from perfect–I made them myself, using figures from downloads I purchased through Depositphotos (and checked upload dates to hopefully avoid A.I. elements), and landscape photographs I had taken using assorted filters from my Canon PowerShot SX530 HS digital camera. That way I could say “no A.I.” with a certain degree of confidence. The Challenges cover, while a bit whimsical, also hints at a strong element within that particular story–the degree to which a land’s magic influences the strength and power of its rulers (and what happens when the land disapproves of its leader).

Second, these books were originally formatted using Scrivener. The interiors just didn’t look that good to me after I got my hands on Vellum and started doing layout there. I wanted to have books that I could feel proud of promoting and selling, rather than books that made me cringe (which was also a factor in redoing the Netwalk books–similar issues). And there were typos–oh dear God, were there ever typos in the last two books, Choices and Judgment.

Third, there were continuity errors. One of the biggest were two characters that went under one set of names in one book, another set of names in the following book. Others were minor, predominantly geographical. Between the continuity errors and the typos, I felt the need for a new edit.

Fourth, I had written several worldbuilding short stories, novelettes, and novellas tied to the series. I thought it might make things easier for readers if I combined the shorter works with the main books so that it would be possible to read the series in order. Most of those short works provide backstory that help with understanding the overall series, especially with regard to Alicira. What happened to her and how she not only overcame it but conquered it is important to the overall story. As a result, Beyond Honor was expanded to include one short story that is a bit of an Easter Egg for later in the series (Vered the Sorcerer-Captain of a magical sailship plays a role in the last three books), as well as what happened to Alicira after the Beyond Honor novella.

I was pleasantly surprised when I went through these edits. Yeah, I needed to fix continuity stuff. I needed to fix typos. I needed to cut out repetition. However, overall, the stories are strong and better than I realized they were. They also possess stronger gay, bi, and lesbian elements than I initially realized. I was just writing characters and going with what seemed to fit within the framework of the story. It confirms my initial decision to withdraw the original first book of the series, Pledges of Honor, from a small press (I was already having issues with them with regard to editing and meeting contract deadlines for another book) on the grounds that since they had taken a turn toward publishing work with a Christian focus, this book would require the rewriting of a pivotal character to match the press’s new standards. I wasn’t about to rewrite the relationship between Haran int Mershaunten and Orlanden en Selail, because those two men play a significant role not just in that book but throughout the entire series.

But the overall story–the two cousins in leadership roles, their long-term struggles, the roles that their children play in battling the impact of a corrupt Empire on their world–holds up throughout the entire arc of the series.

I’m quite pleased with it, and I hope that these new covers and the combination of short works with the longer ones will attract attention.

We shall see.

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Marker Training Journal #4

Isn’t that just a boopable nose? He certainly thinks so.

The Boi keeps on making progress. Sometimes he surprises me because he picks some things up faster than Mocha did at the same stage of training. And then I have to remind myself that he’s three years older than Mocha was when we started doing this work, and has had a lot more exposure to the world in the course of eight years than she had encountered when she was five and a half…even when she was eight.

But part of it is also his sunny temperament. He genuinely likes people and would happily move into the house with us if he could. Though he’s happier and better off outside, really.

Some of the progress which is going on has to do with his relationship with Mocha. She’s becoming more confident around him, though he is still in the process of being indoctrinated into The Mocha Way, which includes “don’t steal my treats,” “give me space, especially on my right side,” and “be mannerly with humans.” However, it’s starting to show up that she also depends on him for alerting to potential problems in the pasture. She also is starting to park out a little bit, on her own, which amuses me. Not sure how or why that’s happening.

Under saddle, he continues to gain conditioning. I’m starting to see the existence of withers as his back muscles up. This week, he was clearly tired by the time we had put in five days of work. Well, this week I had upped the conditioning phase of our training, and introduced frequent walk-trot transitions. It took me a couple of years to get around to doing that with Mocha, and I’m not making that mistake with him. He picked it up faster as a result, and doesn’t seem to get quite as frustrated with being asked to shift gaits every ten strides or so. But I think I’m modifying the exercise where we do smaller circles as part of a larger circle. I generally do the larger circle with the smaller circles in one direction, then change. I think I’m going to change that out and alternate the smaller circle directions. He bends better on his stiffer side when I do that–tried it on Friday and liked the results.

But he still struggles with making turns going downhill, especially at the trot, and wants to break into a canter because it’s easier. He doesn’t do that if I remember to provide support with rein and leg to put him in the proper mode for making that downhill turn.

This week I also saw some of his spooky moments. He was startled by three fawns bursting out of cover in the field, and jumped sideways. That was all he did. Afterward, he eyed the spot but didn’t get reactive. In the same situation, Mocha would have been skittery and spooky. And his jump was nowhere as big as hers would have been. Then we had a bicyclist come by after he was untacked, and that made him whirl and do his big roller snort, which sounds scary but which I’ve figured out from him is commentary. We “chased” the bicyclist after he went by, so I’m hoping that bodes well for our next encounter. It took Mocha some time to adapt to bicyclists, so we’ll see how Marker adapts–and as for the snorts….

A big roller snort from Mocha puts me on alert, because that’s a prelude to old mare pulling a big spook-and-spin. From Marker, that’s one way that he discharges anxiety. But he also uses it to comment on things–an unfamiliar scent, something he sees, as well as releasing tension. I’ve heard more roller snorts from him over the past month than I normally hear from Mocha over the course of a year.

The clippers continue to be a matter of discussion. At this point, I’m also cracking down on behaviors which have annoyed me but needed to be sidelined in favor of dealing with other things first. Now we’re working on two evasions that I particularly dislike–tossing his head from side-to-side to keep me from placing the clippers on his crest (and other things he doesn’t like doing), and backing up when he doesn’t want to do something. He’s picked up on my corrections pretty quickly for those, so now it’s a matter of reinforcement. The clippers have moved from open fear to “I don’t like this.” As a result, I’m comfortable becoming more insistent about his tolerance. But his ground manners have improved. Ground tying is pretty solid, except when he thinks he might get some cookies. He relaxes when I drop the lead to the ground. He will walk on a long lead without needing to get into my space, though he still likes to touch his nose to my wrist occasionally as we walk. He gives me space when dealing with gates. Defensive resistances are starting to fade as he becomes more accustomed to us.

He also has his Moments of Cuteness. Unlike Mocha, who seems to have a weird bias about not eating windfall apples, Marker has discovered the apple tree in their field. I’ll occasionally see him rooting around looking for windfalls. Yesterday, when we turned them both loose, instead of hanging out in the lower field, he made a beeline to cross the ditch and head for the apple tree. Hubby joked that he probably heard an apple fall. Very likely. Yesterday, when I was grooming him, Marker twisted himself sideways to show me a particularly itchy spot he wanted scratched. The degree to which he can lean without moving a step also cracks me up. The horse can contort himself in an almost catlike manner, though in temperament he’s more like a dog. And oh does he like to have his head scratched.

I’m happy with the Boi. It’ll be interesting to see how things unfold as he becomes more fit.

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Writing Accountability Post #34

Well, I’m starting to see the value of this exercise, something like…thirty-four weeks into it? Because this week is suddenly all about projects getting completed and coming together. I wouldn’t have realized just how big an accomplishment this was if I hadn’t been tracking everything I’ve been doing as a writer, trudging away week after week with what seems to be little or no progress until…BAM! There it is. Stuff gets done. I have to remember that I’m doing a lot of incremental stuff that just doesn’t seem like much is happening from week to week, until it’s done. And then I can step back and go “wow. Guess I was getting stuff done after all.”

This is also the week where I start making transitions from spring/summer setup to fall/winter. I’ve started rearranging the office. It’s a process that will probably take a couple of weeks, but when it’s done, it will be done.

Federation Cowboy releases this week, available from all the usual suspects at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords. I’ll probably get the paperback done this week but I have to (big sigh) buy more ISBNs from Bowker first. Ouch. That’s gonna hurt. However, I’m in the homestretch for getting the older projects finished and put into paperback. Most of the current ones can be updated as second editions, and I decided it was time to push on the Goddess’s Honor series to get as much of it uploaded in paperback as I can this month, so I’ll have a Goddess’s Honor omnibus to promote by Christmas. I’m hoping I won’t need to purchase another block of ISBNs. I look at my first ten and flinch–but then again, back in that era, the received wisdom was that each book needed to have its own ISBN, including the different ebook formats. Not so much a deal now. I’m only using ISBNs for work I’m putting up on Ingram. On the other hand…um, what I have to put up in paperback now could run through a new purchase. Sigh.

Speaking of which…Beyond Honor and Other Stories is now live. One thing I’m doing is incorporating all of the worldbuilding stories into the new editions of the Goddess’s Honor books, so that they can be read in sequence. There are also minor continuity errors (including one big blooper between Choices of Honor and Judgment of Honor) that I’m correcting as I go through these edits and start building the synopsis for the Goddess’s Vision books. Beyond Honor now contains the short stories “The Goddess’s Choice,” “Delian’s Gift” (previously unpublished), “Exile’s Honor,” and “Birth of Sorrow” as well as the title novella. It is now definitely Book One of the Series, because this is Alicira’s story from her flight to Keldara through the birth of her daughter. The first story, involving the sailship captain Vered, time-wise belongs here as well, even though Vered doesn’t come into play until later in the series.

Here’s the Beyond Honor cover.

There’s a story about that background picture. It’s a sunset cloud reflection over Ruby Peak, shot using an automatic filter, plus some tweaks in Book Brush. I played with the transparency filter for the figure because I liked the effect of being able to see the mountain kinda sorta through her. She comes from uploads by majorgaine, I think from 2015.

But I’m also figuring out that one reason why I haven’t started Goddess’s Vision before now and got so thoroughly distracted by the Martinieres was that I really run out of plot about halfway through the second book–kinda sorta (which appears to be the Phrase of the Day). I need to keep poking at it because I know there’s more there. The first book came to life when I made it about Betsona and Heinmyets and their relationship/role in revising the world, specifically the Darani Empire. However, deconstructing Empire is hard. This second book is about Katerin and Witmara, and their relationships/roles in confronting the Divine Confederation–which comes to a forefront in this book, because the first book is more about deconstructing the Empire. Yeah, the Divine Confederation has a role in what happens in the first book–Vision of Alliance. But this second book, Vision of Chaos, is still a struggle to put together. And I’m not sure about a third book, though I’d like to have all four–Betsona, Heinmyets, Katerin, Witmara–wrap things up in one book. However it works out, I think these books will be the last ones in this world.

If Goddess’s Vision turns out to be a duology instead of a trilogy, then that is what it will be. I think it’s unlikely but Chaos may simply need some time to simmer while I work on Alliance, The Cost of Power series, and the Goddess’s Honor edits. In any case, I’m getting off of the planning horse and onto the drafting horse right now.

Speaking of horses, for those of you who are Marker fans, he will get his update after this. Timing and all.

And that’s it for this week’s update.



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Writing Accountability Post #33

Cranky internet today, darn it.

When I look at what I got done this month it doesn’t seem like much…and yet I know it is.

I finished the outlines for the second and third books of The Cost of Power series. I’m almost done with the first book outline for the Goddess’s Vision series, and hope that the second and third ones go as well (I may start drafting…something…this week if I get stalled again on the GV outlines).

The Beyond Honor new version is ready to go into Vellum and be proofread. I’ve made front covers for the rest of the Goddess’s Honor rereleases, so they’ll be ready to roll and they’ll match the Goddess’s Vision covers as well.

But…sales outside of organized ones such as the Narratress sale are sucky. No one’s buying, in spite of me buying advertising. I think I probably need to be getting more aggressive with promotion again on my own, and I spent some time planning timely price reductions. I just need to start selling and focus on that plan. Sigh.

In any case, I’m also now in the novella competition as well as the SF indie book competition. The second one has me slightly grumpy, however, because there’s already been talk of doing a tit for tat review swap setup and that just isn’t kosher in my book. I think my objections may have caused some folks to step back, but…in any case, I won’t be a part of that sort of mentality. It can lead to problems down the line. And some of the marketing chat sounds an awful lot like 20Books and I have issues with some of those recommendations. Oh well. Maybe I’m just being grumpy–which seems to be something common right now.

Then again, it could be just as simple as spending time plotting and worldbuilding instead of actual writing. While some people really enjoy creating elaborate worlds including moodboards, languages, and so on, I…just want to tell the stories of that world I’m working in. So perhaps I’m just getting grumpy about planning instead of drafting.

Oh well. It has been a somewhat productive week, including training time with the Marker boy. He still zigzags back and forth when it comes to making progress in some areas–today he was cranky about doing some clipper work, but he’s also showing some improvement in that his objections are tied more to throwing his head up and down rather than trying to get away from it.

The office has been in disorganized planning mode, and that might be another factor as well.

Or maybe I just need to spend more time reading. We’re half-planning a trip for later on in October, and maybe that will inspire me.

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