Valiant Heart is Here!

valiantheart2Well hello, all! I am so excited to announce that the e-book version of my steampunk fantasy novella, Valiant Heart, is out today through several vendors! You can buy a copy at Amazon, or follow this link to a variety of online retailers.

I invite you to swing by any of these book-sellers, take a look-see, and set forth on a journey to a world filled with magic, adventure, airships and magitech, and most of all, characters I hope you’ll love as much as I do. Thank you so much for reading, and Be Valiant!

BeValiant2

 

Found Family: Friday Feel

So, I’m closing in on a week of pre-release blogging, and I’m no less excited than when I first began. If anything, I even more can’t wait to share the world of Tanahr with you!

I was thinking about what I might want to say for a Friday Feel post and what immediately popped into my head (likely because of the consonance of so many f’s) was “found family.” Found family is a concept that I come to often in my writing and world building. When I think about my favorite narratives–video games, books, shows, movies, tabletop gaming even–there is usually an element of disparate people coming together in the midst of plot drama to support one another.

Sometimes the found family is at first a simple matter of convenience or happenstance–like two of my favorite TV shows, Cowboy Bebop and Firefly. In most Star Trek shows I’ve seen, Star Fleet personnel are often forced to bond as they journey into the depths of space, or carry out duty assignments far from their homes. Many characters in found family narratives do have family of their own that they love, or that for one reason or another they cannot be close to. Many others have nobody, but gravitate, willingly or otherwise, to those who can help them in their journeys, if only for a time. And then, there are those who stick together with their now found-but-forever-families.

valiant_heart_family (2)

Valiant Heart’s found family. ❤

I realized, in creating graphics and character lists for my Tanahr Tales series, that the concept of found family is the backbone of at least the first three narrative arcs. In Valiant Heart, Niamh and Jeron find each other in the course of duty and as they are drawn closer by the events that surround them, they not just find comfort in one another but in fellow soldiers, mages, and people they meet along the way. Many of them have families of their own but come together in the big, bustling city of Astra as a found-family of friends, lovers, mentors and even pseudo-parental figures.

What are your favorite found family narratives? There are so many out there, and I never get tired of them so feel free to share in the comments. Happy Friday, all, and thanks for reading!

Wonder-full Wednesday

I see the hashtag #wonderfulwednesday a lot these days, and I love it. Stories of joy, moments of happiness, quotes for hope often accompany this tag, and I can never get enough light in my world!

With the release of Valiant Heart nearly here, I cannot help but think about how exploring the worlds we find in books, games, and TV/movies can keep our senses of wonder alive and well. If could not have played the fantasy RPG games that started me thinking about the world of Tanahr in the first place, if I had not read fantasy and fantasy romances that set my heart soaring in whole other worlds…would I have had the determination and squee needed to see this project through?

clean-21479_960_720There is a phrase I remember when I’m suffering from creativity blocks and writing doldrums: you can’t draw water from an empty well. If I don’t have an overfull sense of wonder, how can build worlds to entice my readers? How can I keep up with the difficult, if rewarding, work that writing entails?

I have to fill the well. Making time in my schedule for gaming, reading things that make me happy, talking walks in nature, watching shows that inspire me, or creating playlists that I know keep me in that writing chair once I get there…none of this is optional. I fill my well of wonder so I can create more wonder to put out into the world.

What do you do to ensure that your life is wonder-full? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments and as always, thank you so much for reading!

BeValiant2

 

#TuesdayThoughts: Romance in Tanahr

Hi there! I’m blogging every day this week in preparation for Valiant Heart releasing on 1/15–just days away. Wow…how did it get here so fast?

Creating the Tanahr Tales has been, first and foremost, an unmitigated labor of love. It’s why I chose to write fantasy romance and not just fantasy in the first place–I love writing love, and creating characters I cannot help but root for is not optional. Focusing on romance, for me, has always offered a light in the darkness of sometimes more grim narratives. I took this to heart in writing the Tanahr series. Even though the world can at times be full of shadows and strife, experiencing characters’ burgeoning romances will always show that in the end, there is hope, joy and the warmth and companionship of the people heroines and heroes encounter during even the most dangerous journeys. So, speaking of love, I now is a good time to introduce the heroine and hero of book one!

niamh_starsongNiamh Starsong, a Sylvan elf newly arrived to the Astra garrison several days’ ride from her home, is a serious, earnest and loyal woman.  It would be easy to misread her subtle expressions of emotion as indifference but nothing could be further from the truth.

jeron_wright (1)On the other side, Jeron Wright is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, and usually with a big, lopsided grin. A mechmage/healer from the busy city of Astra, he spends his life in good-natured pursuit of invention, and actively seeks out friendship wherever he goes.

My favorite part about their romance is that it begins gently in friendship, and despite a chain of miscommunications and confusions, ends in a place of even stronger friendship. To weave sweetly sensual, light-hearted romance through a thoughtfully-built world populated with fascinating characters is my goal, and I hope I am on the way to realizing this rather lofty goal with Valiant Heart. I cannot wait to share this journey with you starting next week…Niamh and Jeron’s love is something that I’m proud of writing and I hope readers will enjoy their tale as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! ❤

Be Valiant!

BeValiant2Happy Monday, all…I hope you are well and thriving.

Next week, my fantasy novella Valiant Heart releases and wow, I am over the moon about it! Writing this book has been an adventure. Many ups, just as many downs, and everything in-between. I have learned so much about myself and my process along the way.

You see, Valiant Heart existed in this world once before. Back in the day when I was still primarily writing and publishing poetry and fiction of a slightly more literary ilk, I wrote Valiant Heart as a tribute to games and books I’ve loved, and most of all for original characters I created and adored but who needed a fictional home. I self-published a very different version of the book, sold less than 20 copies and pulled it down when I realized something sobering–the book was far from complete.

I had published what, for me, was the equivalent of a rough draft.

Between that first iteration and now, Valiant Heart has experienced a remarkable journey. It lived through a full-manuscript query request and the ensuing positive feedback, through a series of world-building changes, being shopped around and more. When health issues required my mental time and energy (I’m fine, by the by), I realized that self-publishing might be the best way at this point for my career to proceed in light of the need for a flexible schedule that allowed for extreme self-care.

In the quiet that followed, I realized that Valiant Heart existed not just in its own world, but in my sprawling fantasy and sci-fi expanded universe. Wow. I mean, on some level I knew this all along, but with certain projects shopped with trad publishers and others still in the works, I never gave into the urge to weave it all together, keeping parts sequestered here and there in case of publication and contracts.

The thought of taking a leap of faith into indie publishing and moving all of my favorite projects into this one universe was more than a little daunting. When other projects I had been working on in different spheres of my literary life fell through or came to a natural close, I had no more excuses not to start. I had nothing holding me back. I again had to face down my fear, but in the end decided to be valiant, and to see what striking out on my own would bring.

Turns out, becoming untethered was the most remarkable boost to my creativity and productivity. I chipped away on writing and edits, on making a cover that I loved, on creating a final product (with formatting help from the amazing Cassandra Chandler), and on slowly building a platform from which to launch this shiny new airship into the big blue skies of the world.

Valiant Heart is a light fantasy romance novella that follows Sylvan elf and soldier Niamh Starsong and mechmage Jeron Wright in their adventures through the steam-powered, magic-fueled city of Astra, a jewel in the Commonwealth of Tanahr. It will be available digitally on Tuesday 1/15/19, with a print copy to follow in the coming weeks. I cannot wait to share this journey with you all, and I’m already writing the next two books of the series with all due haste!

Stay tuned for updates, more about the world of Tanahr and the characters who inhabit it, and do sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know about these exciting things as they happen. Thank you all for reading, and wishing you the best on this lovely Motivation Monday!