Coven of the Worm

Book One: Estranged Earth

Linda Caldwell attends Putty Hill Senior High with her friends Jane and Candy, where she meets and falls in love with an intriguing young man named David Yeng-Chi.

David seems perfect for her, but he has a dark secret. His father Hamaki had trained him to use a deadly mix of martial arts and magic in the service of his god—Chai'Huon Ju, the Defiler. David is a descendent of the Worm Clan of a long forgotten prehistoric nation called Hunjan. There were other gods and different beliefs among these people, but the Worm Clan had believed in Chai'Huon Ju's legacy of evil.

As the relationship between David and Linda grows, Linda begins to have prophetic dreams warning her to stay away from him. The visions are so insistent and frightening that she surrenders to them and breaks up with David. Enraged, David resolves to have revenge by conjuring his god to Earth.

Linda has a secret too, however—one that might help to save her soul from the Defiler. Prophecy was merely the first of her abilities to develop and—she soon discovers—there were more powers to come.

Book Two: Mystic Moon (in progress)

Eric is the son of David Yeng-Chi, who had unleashed Pure Intensity and wreaked havoc on a Maryland town in 1995—all in the name of revenge. When Eric discovers his true identity, he sets out to fulfill his destiny, which is to assemble a Coven and use it to release his evil god on Earth.

Daniel is an Avatar of the gods, and only he knows how to find the others like him. It is his destiny to gather the Avatars and lead them to battle against the Defiler before he can wage war on Heaven. Together with Dawn Lu, Linda Levinston, and FBI agent Carl Timmers, Daniel searches for Eric and his coven—hoping to find them before they can succeed with their diabolical plans.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Technical Difficulties - I'm So Sorry!

Lately I've been having difficulties connecting and staying connected to the Net. Phone calls to my ISP and the computer manufacturer haven't helped, so I'm afraid I have to take my computer to the shop. I hope to have this cleared up soon. Sorry that I haven't been able to post more often.

Oh, and the good news is that issue three of Tower of Light is up and running, featuring a review of Jim Melvin's The Pit and several great fantasy stories!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

POD People Halloween Review of "Sanctuary of the Mind"

I know I should have posted this two weeks ago, but unfortunately I've allowed myself to get caught up in a very time consuming project and I can't seem to pull myself away from it. I'm going to have to soon, however, since the next issue of Tower of Light is due in the first week of December.

Anyway, Cheryl Anne Gardner did her review of "Sanctuary of the Mind" at the POD People forum, and what a great review it is! She gave it a 7/10, stating that the rating would be higher if not for some formatting and grammatical issues. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Book Trailer

[More videos from msouth847]

Okay, since I had so much fun making the last movie, and since I saw the trailers at the Covey Awards site, I thought I'd try another. I deleted the other one for two reasons: it seems no one really cared for it, and it disappeared anyway (although it still works fine on MySpace). I don't know why the videos are disappearing, and I certainly hope this one doesn't. Except I've already noticed that the credits are jumping, which they don't when I play it from my hard drive (sigh).

I'm not going to enter it for the Covey Awards because this book isn't published yet. However, I had thought about doing it for the old, unpolished version - Pure Intensity - which (miraculously) is still available at, but I'm not sure that's a good idea since I'm hoping to publish Estranged Earth as a separate work. Not to mention the fact that I never renewed my contract with AuthorHouse (sigh). But, if I'm really lucky, perhaps this trailer will give people incentive to buy Pure Intensity.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Meme #2: Create a Fantasy Monster

Here I am again, running out of ideas for blog posts, so I've come up with another meme. The rules are to describe your own fantasy monster in a well-written paragraph, just as it would appear in a story. It can be from a story you've already written, one in the works, or an idea you have for a future project. And don't forget to link back to this post, of course!

I'll start with a paragraph from my story "Hex Moon," which is part of the Avatar world.

In the center of the clearing, kneeling beside a glowing
stone, was a massive man-shaped creature with crimson,
sinewy flesh. Its hair was long, braided and slick with
grease, and razor-sharp spurs lined its muscular
arms—which were broader than Q'La's head. A mass of
smooth, reddish-brown tentacles writhed on its back, like a
nest of vipers. When it turned its head sideways—in the
direction of the children—as if it searched for something,
Q'La noticed two long fangs jutting from its lower jaw.

Although she had never seen one before, she knew what it was
from accounts in the old stories: a Maug.

This time I'm going to go ahead and tag people, but anyone can take up an open tag if they wish.

I hereby tag:

Jim Melvin at The Death Wizard Chronicles
David McAfee at I Have a Blog?
Howard von Darkmoor at Von Darkmoor's Thoughts

Have fun!

Oh, and thank you very much to Thomma Lyn at Tennessee Text Wrestling for participating in the Review You Own Book meme!

Picture above courtesy of Feebleminds.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Muse Has Returned

After so long a time without writing, I finally was able to get 1500 words out tonight. And for a first draft, the work wasn't bad. I feel pretty good about that. Now I just need to make sure I keep writing every day, and perhaps I can actually finish a novel in a timely fashion.

The fact that I worked on Coven of the Tiger instead of Coven of the Worm doesn't faze me ... much. I mean, at least I wrote something, and it does take place in the same world after all.

Lately I've wanted to write another short, since I've only written three (not counting Sanctuary of the Mind) and would like to have more for the market--hoping to improve my chances of getting at least one published. But I've been struggling to come up with ideas for a new one and my brain just doesn't seem to want to do it right now. This makes the work I did tonight that much more rewarding.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

106 Most Unread Books Meme

I got this book meme at Allie's Musings and thought I'd take it up. Honestly, I don't know where it started. I checked Books, Memes, and Musings, but there it was picked up from One More Chapter.

Below is the list of 106 books considered the "most unread" by LibraryThing's users. You're supposed to mark those you've read in bold and those you've started but couldn't finish in italics. You also need to strike through those you hated and underline the ones you plan to read sometime. Unfortunately, I can't see how to do those last two options here. Hopefully one of my loyal readers can set me straight, in which case I'll edit the post. Until then I'll have to improvise. I'll put those I hated in [brackets] and follow the ones I'd like to read with (TBR). And, finally, you need to add an asterisk to any that you've read more than once.

Jonathan Strange & M. Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One hundred years of solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion(TBR)
Life of Pi
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The Historian
A portrait of the artist as a young man
Love in the time of cholera
Brave new world (TBR)
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A clockwork orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
Dune (TBR)
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
Neverwhere (TBR)
A confederacy of dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The unbearable lightness of being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down (TBR)
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit*
In Cold Blood
White teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Wow, I've only read ten of them all the way through, and some of those I never would have picked up if I hadn't gone to college. Why isn't Robinson Crusoe in this list? I really, really hated that book!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Daddy's Girl

Okay, I've seen other bloggers do this, so today I thought I'd post an excerpt from my book. This chapter, "Daddy's Girl," comes from the revision, which now has the working title Estranged Earth.

I actually changed a phrase or two for this excerpt, since there's a possiblity some things might be taken out of context. Hopefully, since no one has read this yet, you won't notice the difference anyway.

Daddy's Girl


About 7:45, Carmine dragged himself into the kitchen to find Elaine and Suzanne cooking breakfast. The aroma of scrambled eggs, sausage, and potatoes did little to soften his mood.

Elaine had tossed about in the bed all night, keeping him awake as well. When she looked at him now, as he took his place at the table, she seemed distant and unreachable.

Carmine pretended not to notice.

He hated to ignore her that way, but she didn't understand why he was angry. Neither did he, really.

Carmine worried Linda was not adjusting well after the recent tragedy. She had told that detective about psychic "visions," and then she had a tantrum in her room last night. He wasn't convinced her visions were real, although he wouldn't be surprised if a heathen like David Yeng-Chi was the killer.

It was more likely Linda had or was on the verge of a mental breakdown, fueled by David's reaction to the break up and the murder of a close friend. If so, Carmine hoped he could find the help she needed before it was too late.

He should do something about it now, in fact.

As his eldest daughter began to set the table, he said, "Suzanne, is Linda up yet?"

"I don't think so, Dad," said Suzanne. "Do you want me to check on her?"

"Yes, I do. And make sure she's cleaned up that mess she made last night."

Suzanne shuffled off without commenting.

Elaine spoke up right away, however. Without sitting down, she stared at Carmine anxiously.

"Carmine," she said, "what are you doing?"

"I'm taking care of my family."

"Well, you sure have a great way of going about it."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he snapped.

"Carmine, I'm just concerned. Something happened last night in Linda's room that has me a little scared."

"Exactly. She went nuts and trashed her bedroom. Who was she talking to in there, anyway? There was no one else in the room, but I know I heard her talking."

Elaine glared. "What are you trying to say?"

"I'm saying that I'm afraid our daughter is going crazy, and I'm worried about her—that's all. It's not unusual, considering what happened yesterday, and considering she let that ... that heathen ... confuse her like he did. I think I want her to see a doctor."

"What?" Elaine spat. "Didn't you hear that strange voice last night? It was loud and too deep for Linda. Do you think we all imagined it?"

Carmine shook his head sadly. Am I the only sane person in this house? he wondered.

"I heard Linda's voice," he said aloud, "and nothing else."

"Why are you doing this, Carmine? What is wrong with you?"

Carmine pushed his chair back and shot to his feet. "What's wrong with me?" he shouted. "What are you saying? Shouldn't you be worried about our daughter? She's obviously sick."

"D*** you, Carmine—"

"That's it. I've had it with this." He walked into the living room and shouted up the stairs. "Suzanne, what's taking you so long?"

Suzanne appeared on the landing and said, "It's all right, Dad. She's just finishing up."

"Finishing what?" Carmine demanded and charged up the stairs.

"Carmine!" Elaine yelled, and ran after him.

"Leave it alone, Elaine," he called back. "I'll take care of this."

Again, Suzanne told her father everything was okay but he did not relent. He rushed past her into the room, only to find Linda picking up the last of the mess and tossing it into the bathroom wastebasket.

"Dad, please," said Suzanne.

Ignoring her, Carmine confronted his youngest daughter. "Linda, why did you do this?"

Linda stopped working and seemed confused. "I didn't do it, Daddy."

"Then who did, Linda?"

"I don't know," she whispered.

Carmine turned around, walked out, and headed downstairs for the telephone on his end table.

"Carmine, what are you doing?" Elaine said.

"I'm getting my daughter some help," he replied, as he cradled the receiver between his head and shoulder.

"Put the phone down, Carmine."

Linda emerged from her bedroom and walked halfway down the stairs, while Suzanne remained on the landing.

"Daddy, please don't do this," Linda begged. "Please."

"Sweetheart," said Carmine, looking up at his daughter, "I just want you to be okay."

Elaine put her hand on his shoulder and said, "This isn't the way, Carmine."

He hesitated, wondering if his wife were right. Then he remembered the lamp that had nearly missed his head when it struck the door.

I'll give her one more chance to tell the truth, Carmine thought, and that's all.

"Linda, who were you talking to last night?"

His daughter just stared at him, as if he were speaking in a foreign tongue.

"To whom were you talking?" he demanded again. When she remained silent, he lost his cool. "Linda, answer me!"

"Daddy, please—"

She was crying now, but this did not deter him.

"No, d**mit. It's not just what happened ... it's ... ever since you started dating David—"

"That's enough, Carmine!" Elaine screamed.

Chaos erupted then in the living room. Books started to fly off the bookshelf and it toppled over behind them.

"Go!" Linda yelled. "Send it away!"

In seconds, it was over, but Linda looked drained and frightened. She turned around and ran back up the stairs to her bedroom, then slammed the door shut behind her.

"Are you going to say we imagined that, too?" Elaine said after a minute. "You saw the bookshelf—"

"A coincidence," said Carmine, stubbornly. "Nothing more."

Elaine wept and slowly made her way upstairs—presumably to get dressed.

Her hands gripping the banister, Suzanne stared at her father for several, long minutes. Finally, she too turned her back on him and headed for her room.

Carmine bit his lip in frustration.

I guess I'd better clean this place up.


Carmine sat quietly in his recliner watching football as Elaine and Su finished getting ready. Linda remained in her room and refused to come out, and he was just as happy to leave her there. His family looked at him as the bad guy, and he didn't want to cause more dissension before they left.

The telephone rang and Carmine picked it up.

It was Jane, asking for Linda. He told her that Linda wasn't feeling well and probably would not come to the telephone right now. She sounded worried and was reluctant to hang up immediately.

"She wasn't in school yesterday," said Jane, "and with what happened to Kim—"

Then she started to cry.

Carmine felt like a heel. "Look, Jane, I'm sorry. I know you girls lost a good friend, and it scares me, too. I'm worried about Linda myself, and I think she needs some rest." That was an odd thing for Carmine to say after the way he had behaved earlier. He sighed, thinking that maybe it really was better to let Linda rest—at least for now. "Can you call back tomorrow?"

"Yes, Mister Caldwell," she answered between sobs. "Tell her I said 'Happy Thanksgiving,' will you? Please?"

"No problem. You take care of yourself, too, okay?"

"Yes, sir. Thank you, Mister Caldwell."

"You're welcome."

They said their good-byes and Carmine replaced the telephone in its cradle. He picked up the television remote and turned off the set, then called for Elaine.

"Are you ready, Hon?" he said.

Elaine walked down the stairs and looked at him thoughtfully. "Yes," she said. "Suzanne will be down in a second. Linda's not coming."

Carmine grunted but otherwise said nothing.

Turning around, Elaine called upstairs for Suzanne to hurry. "We have to be at my sister's in an hour, okay?"

"Yes, Mom," said Suzanne, as she appeared at the top of the stairs. "I'm ready."

"Good," said her father. "Let's go."

(I'm sorry, but the length of the post was really bothering me, so I decided to break it up. You can read the second half of this chapter here, on the Tower of Light Forums).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Great Way to Start the Day

Imagine my surprise when I checked my blog comments today and found a message from Cheryl Ann Gardner. And what a wonderful message it was! She says that my book (actually only about 11,000 words) Sanctuary of the Mind has been selected for the week of horror reviews at the POD People blogspot beginning October 29. This was definitely an unexpected development, and I am grateful to Cheryl for this, and to all those who have already read it!

This comes on top of the first review I received, and of course Jim Melvin's encouraging comments. It seems the little experiment might just turn into something more.

I'm very excited. I can't wait to see it!

Friday, October 5, 2007

My First Meme - Review Your Own Book!

Since I've been having so much trouble coming up with ideas for blog posts, I thought I'd try starting a meme. I'm going to adopt Howard von Darkmoor's (from Von Darkmoor's Thoughts) method of throwing out an "open tag" to anyone who would like participate. If you're interested, please do give it a go and remember to link back to this post.

The rules of this meme is to write a review of one of your own works as if weren't yours. You must be as honest as possible and write at least one good paragraph. We might just find out how true the old saying "we are our own worst critics" really is! It does not have to be a published work as long as it's a complete manuscript. Of course, I suppose I'll take any oppurtunity to promote my own work (haha), although I guess that is why I created this blog in the first place!

I'll start by reviewing both the published and unpublished versions of my book. For anyone else who chooses to accept the tag, one review will be enough, of course.

September 2004, Michael Southard
ISBN 1-4184-2932-5

Pure Intensity is a dark urban fantasy that attempts to incorporate some conventions of anime fantasy. The story is about a girl named Linda who discovers that her boyfriend David is a devil worshiper. There are some interesting ideas floating around in the plot, including a subplot concerning a secret society. The best is its description of the different magical disciplines, which seem to vary in different cultures. This book only introduces the disciplines of Witches, War Witches, and Mages, but there are certainly hints of more to learn about the magical system in this story.

The problem is the undisciplined composition of the book. It seems as if it were originally written in omniscient perspective, but there are numerous divisions of passages where the author might have attempted to separate the characters' points of view. The story constantly jumps from one character's POV to another and the result is confusing at best. Worse, there are quite a few passages where the language is too flowery and difficult to follow, and it seems as if there was little, if any, proper editing.

However, despite these problems, Pure Intensity is a good story with a lot of potential, and some readers might enjoy it anyway. I just wish the author had put more work into it before publishing.

Michael Southard

Estranged Earth, Book One of Coven of the Worm, is the revised version of Pure Instensity, and it does show much improvement over the original. The author completely reworked the point of view, so that most chapters have no more than two character POVs, and they are much more clearly marked. The story is essentially the same, although there is more detail in some passages, improved character work, and better editing. It is an inspiring thriller, with plenty of magic and mayhem for fantasy fans, and a fairly good read.

Okay, there's my reviews. I hope there are plenty of takers for the tag. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tower of Light Issue Two

Well, despite the problems I've had in the past staying online for one reason or another (this last waiting for my ISP to transfer to a new address - which took six weeks instead of two), I have not given up on the Tower of Light Ezine. It is unfortunate that I wasn't able to respond to all the submissions in a timely fashion over the past month, and as a result I've had to close to new submissions until I can get caught up (again). Fortunately, I have received some great stories.

Issue two includes a review of Mark Terence Chapman's The Mars Imperative, and five shorts stories by Alice M. Roelke, Matthew Baron, Eric S. Brown, Ryder Patzuk Russell, and Mischell Lyne. Also, I've given the site a new look; I hope it goes over well.

And I'm so glad to be blogging again, even if my posts are rather short!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Very First Published Author to Join TOL

Well, a published author has finally joined Tower of Light Fantasy Forums and requested her own board at that! Her name is Laura Stamps and she writes urban fantasy, although she markets her work mostly to women readers. I'm still glad to have her on board, and I hope it brings more traffic to the forum (and the magazine by extension). Anyone who is interested in her work, you can check out the Laura Stamps sub-forum under "Authors and Writing: Author Forums" at Tower of Light Forums.

Tower of Light is, of course, open to anyone who wishes to join, but I'd like to take this opportunity to extend an open invitation to other published authors of fantasy or sci-fi. You'd be very welcome, and you can also request your own sub-forum.

All you fans and aspiring writers are still welcome too, so come on over if you like!

Monday, July 23, 2007

I Got a Review!

Okay, so it isn't a professional review, but I'm still glad to get it. It shows that someone has read my story Sanctuary of the Mind (which is still free, by the way) all the way through and enjoyed it. I've also had some very encouraging comments from a couple of other people at the Lulu forums, for which I'm very grateful.

You can read the review by clicking the title at my Lulu storefront, but I'd like to post it here anyway. If anyone's interested, I'd love to hear your comments about it.

A novelette that will make you think... [ No Rating ] 16 Jul 2007 (updated 16 Jul 2007)
by Kody Boye

I'll just start this out by saying that I dove into Sanctuary of the Mind without any recognition of the author or his work. But I must say that I was not disappointed.

Sanctuary of the Mind is about a man named Leslie who--like some of the men and women who live on the outskirts of society--is addicted to drugs. He and his girlfriend have been living off drugs for a while and Sanctuary of the Mind delves into what drugs can do to a person.

I can't say too much about the novelette because--due to its length--I would end up spoiling it, but I will say right now that I really enjoyed reading this. It's a good 36 pages of material and not once does the author let you down.

A thriller, a suspense, a deeply-involved plot that keeps you reading... That's all I can say about Sanctuary of the Mind without spoiling it for the readers. I'd recommend downloading this from Lulu; it's in an e-book format and if you make a Lulu account for anything it should be to download this novelette.

I applaud Mr. Southard on this piece. It kept me reading the whole way through.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Baker's Books: H von D Meme #1

I read Howard von Darkmoor's very first meme done his way, "The Baker's Books," so I'll consider myself tagged. What the hey, right? The rules are to provide a list of books that you have on your shelves to see if anyone can learn about you from them - but not just any books. They have to be books that you've actually paid for, nothing given, borrrowed, stolen, or whatever.

From reading Howard's list, I get the impression that he likes a lot history and mythology...otherwise I can't say I've learned much.

Okay, so here's mine:

1. The Hidden Stars by Madeline Howard (2004)
2. A Handful of Men, a four-book series by Dave Duncan, which includes:

a. The Cutting Edge (1992)
b. Upland Outlaws (1993)
c. The Stricken Field (1994)
d. The Living God (1995)

3. The Cursed by Dave Duncan (1995)
4. Nemesis by Bill Napier (1998)
5. Resurrection by Steve Alten (2006)
6. The Second Coming by John Dalmas (2004)
7. The Dark Portal by Robin Jarvis (2000)
8. The Swords of Night and Day by David Gemmel (2004)
9. Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn (1999)
10. Playing God by Sarah Zettel (1998)

Of course there's more, but I can't possibly list them all. I know some of these books are kind of old, but I buy a lot from Wal-Mart, CVS, going-out-of-business sales, and used book stores (haha), so most of them were actually bought recently.

Well, Howard's way was to tag anyone who read his post. If you're up to it, go ahead, feel free to accept a random tag from me. Otherwise, I suppose I'll single out Jim Melvin at The Death Wizard Chronicles.

Hey, Jim : TAG! You're it!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Blogger Death!

I hope it isn't the case, but it seems like my blog is about to die one me. Not only have I neglected to keep it updated, I've been having problems with the comments - and not just on my blog, either. I've tried to post comments here and on other blogs several times and can't seem to get in. I'm sorry to all who have left comments for me and I appreciate all the kind words about Sanctuary of the Mind. The good news is...I've had 5 downloads for it already! Yay! As soon as I can work out the problem, I promise I'll be commenting again on all my friends blogs. Cheers!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sanctuary of the Mind is Free

In an earlier post I announced that I'd published a novelette through Lulu as an experiment. So far I've had a couple of unofficial but encouraging comments from three of the reviewers at Lulu about Sanctuary of the Mind. They pointed out some problems with the manusript and I endeavored to correct them, and I gave it a new cover that I think looks much nicer.

I also did a short book of poetry called Fire and Other Poems. Both are available as PDF downloads at my Lulu storefront. Sanctuary of the Mind is FREE for a limited time, so if you like thrillers please check it out, and Fire and Other Poems is only $.94.

Here's the description for Sanctuary:

(WARNING: Mature Content) Leslie Perk was not a good person. There was a time when he might have cared but it was long gone. He was a drug addict and a thief, and his feelings for his girlfriend were offensive at best. Still, he might have changed, might have become a better man and salvaged his love for Jackie, until something sinister occurred that seized control of his life…

I hope you like them!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Science Fantasy in Progress

I have started on a short story set on an alternate Earth that incorporates some paranormal psuedo-science for the background, and I've pretty much worked out the plot. There are some problems I need to overcome. For one, I intend to take the advice of one of the veteran's at Baen's Universe who commented on Hex Moon and will attempt to refrain from using too many names for characters the reader has no reason to care about.

This story (also to be included in a future novel) involves a world in which several lifeforms experience spontaneous evolution, gaining abilities their predecessors only dreamed of, and how these new species clash and/or learn to co-exist. Of course I don't want to divulge too much detail since it isn't finished, but this story should hopefully express my desire to create genre cross-overs even more so than the Avatar stories.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Oh, It's Been So Long ...

It seems like I need to beg both God and my parents to let me stay home long enough to do some work! I'm so far behind now, it might take at least a week to get caught up. But, fortunately, I got to come home a couple days ago and got started. Now I need to get "my head back in the game," so to speak.

Anyway, I really miss my online work and community. One good thing is that Aidan is hogging my PS2 right now, which is keeping me off of it! I really have become such a slacker when it comes to writing, and when I had any free time at my parents I tended to spend it playing "RPG Maker 3." At least it allows me to be creative, and I adapted my "Avatar" work for the storyline in the game. I'll probably never get rid of this game: What writer of fantasy can resist making his or her own video role playing game?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Getting Back to Work

It's about time for me get back to work, as daunting as that sounds to me right now. I've got a science fantasy short that needs finishing, a dark fantasy draft that needs editing/revising, and a 50,000 word draft of the second book in Coven of the Worm that needs work. I also need to start making submissions again. I'm sure I've given Baen's Universe plenty of time, and there are definitely other markets that I'd like to try for Hex Moon. Not to mention that I still haven't heard anything from the last agent I queried about Estranged Earth.

I've only read three stories so far for the second issue of Tower of Light, too. Fortunately, the first two were very good, and the third was also pretty good - despite having a few typos. There's still a lot more submissions to read, however, and that takes time - as well as a critical eye.

On the plus side, the second issue should feature a book review. I need to keep an eye on my email to make sure I don't miss anything. I should hopefully receive a copy of the book in time to read it and write the review before the end of August. I think this book in particular might be sci-fi, which is a little out of place for Tower of Light, but I like sci-fi. It shouldn't hurt and may well help draw more readers in the future.

Well, here's hoping I can get off my lazy #@! and do some work!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Tower of Light Fantasy Magazine is All Set

Tower of Light Free Magazine is finally up and running, featuring stories by Ian Whates, Christopher Heath, and Tom Williams, and an interview with author Teresa Edgerton. I've had some trouble getting all the icons to show, however, and I just can't figure out why. Some of them show and some of them don't, which doesn't make sense to me. Anyway, I still think it's pretty good. Come have a look and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A Scout's Heart

It took long enough, but I finally finished the draft for another short story in the Avatar world, called "A Scout's Heart." It takes place around the same time as "Hex Moon," or rather some years afterward to be more precise. Now it's time to go over it and make revisions and other necessary corrections. Hopefully I can make it good enough to be accepted by a magazine, or perhaps even an anthology. I certainly plan to make the effort.

Now, if I could just finish those books too, and another short that has nothing to do with the Avatar world. :)

I want to write novels, of course, but I'm taking the time to create a few shorts anyway. I personally hope I can do well in either form.

"Hex Moon" is still held up at Baen's Universe and I need to allow them about four more weeks before I ask them what's going on. From what I understand, they've actually closed to submissions not long after I submitted and they probably won't publish it anyway. It looks like they have at least a year's worth of issues already booked up, although I could be misinterpreting the posts. Well , there are always other markets to try...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ego Alert!

Now I definitely feel like I'm glowing with the ego boost delivered by Howard von Darkmoor on his blog. I met him over at SFReader Forums recently, where he expressed an eagerness to see Tower of Light when it's ready, and he added a link to Avatar Lore from his blog.

I never expected to see a post about von Darkmoor's thoughts on Avatar Lore & Tower of Light when I checked in again, and boy was I surprised.

Such a sweeping endorsement for a rookie like me. Thanks again, Howard, and many blessings upon you for this gesture of solidarity. I promise not to let it go to my head...

(What's that? Of course I'm the best fantasy writer that ever lived... No I am not full of myself...)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Lore of the Avatars

This is my Blog Apocalypse post, which is related to a charitable event started by UrbanMonk. I got "tagged" with this "meme" thing, which is something like a chain letter but without all the unpleasantness, thanks to Crabby McSlacker. Anyway, I thought it was something worth participating in, so I've "tagged" Leah at The Goat's Lunch Pail in return.

If I can't post on my blog anymore, what should I say in my last post? I've been building the world of the Avatars for my fiction for years now, and I am quite passionate about it. Yes, there is other work that I'd like to do, because I want to experiment with different kinds of fantasy, but I must admit that I have a lot of time invested in this particular story.

I've developed a fictional culture in a mythical land called Hunjan, and it's quite complex. There are a number of clans and each has its own patron god or goddess, and its own variation of the "core" culture. And this is just for the prehistoric past of this world.

In modern times, the world changes from a sudden influx of magic. It pretty much endures an apocalyptic event of its own, in fact...

In short, please...READ MY WORK!

Thank you all putting up with my blundering attempts at creating a blog.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Short Fiction Blues Part 2 (Or, Not So Blue)

I've got comments from Baen's Slush again, and this time it's much more promising - although it may mean not publishing in Baen's Universe. Everyone who has read "Hex Moon" agrees that it sounds like the opening to a novel, which it is, but I originally conceived it as a stand alone short story. I guess I can't get around that and I'll need to search for markets that accept novel excerpts.

Still, I'm happy. Several people to comment said that "Hex Moon" is a great story and they enjoyed it very much. All I can ask for now is for someone to publish it!

Fire and Other Poems

I did it again. This time it's a book of poetry called Fire and Other Poems, and this one you can actually see when you look at my storefront. I don't know exactly how it works, but apparently - since I listed Sanctuary of the Mind as "mature" - it doesn't seem to show. I can see it when I log in to Lulu because I have my settings at this level, but I can't get it from here. I'll try to figure out if it matters or not for those who don't have Lulu accounts (I hope not).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sanctuary of the Mind

Well, I did it. I've uploaded my old story to Lulu, after doing as much editing as I could stand. Hopefully I did all right. If I didn't, I can always do it again since it's so easy to do, but I'm going try it out and see how it fares.

It isn't fantasy, and it isn't my favorite story, either; but it isn't bad. I did it in PDF download only, so it's pretty cheap. Originally, I had it in print form too, but, frankly, the price was too high for a work that's only 11,000 words. There's still plenty work to do with promotion, of course.

The novelette is called Sanctuary of the Mind, and here's the description:

Leslie Perk was not a good person. There was a time when he might have cared but it was long gone. He was a drug addict and a thief, and his feelings for his girlfriend were offensive at best. Still, he might have changed, might have become a better man and salvaged his love for Jackie. This was his hope, until something sinister occurred that seized control of his life . . .

Mystic Moon Summary

I've written a (very) brief summary for Book Two of Coven of the Worm. I think maybe it's too short, but if it works I'll go with it (at least for now). If anyone thinks it needs more information, or it could be written better, let me know and I'll get off my lazy ___ and do something about it. Here it is:

Eric is the son of David Yeng-Chi, who had unleashed Pure Intensity and wreaked havoc on a small Maryland town in 1995—all in the name of revenge. When Eric discovers his true identity, he sets out to fulfill his destiny, which is to assemble a Coven and use it to release his evil god on Earth.

Daniel is an Avatar of the gods, and only he knows how to find the others like him. It is his destiny to gather the Avatars and lead them to battle against the Defiler before he can wage war on Heaven. Together with Dawn Lu, Linda Levinston, and FBI agent Carl Timmers, Daniel searches for Eric and his coven—hoping to find them before they can succeed with their diablical plans.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The No Scanner Blues

I would love to add pictures of my family to this blog, but since I don't have a Web cam or a scanner I have to wait for others to email them to me. My ex could help me out with some pictures of my son, Aidan, if she'd take the time to do it. Maybe she'll get around to it (I hope).

My son is great. He loves video games, remote control cars, water guns, and spending time with his Dad - of course. He was born deaf, but that doesn't stop him from behaving just like any other nine-year-old boy. Unfortunately, both of his parents are hearing, so that's left him about a year behind in communication skills. Otherwise, he's a smart kid and good at math, and Maryland School for the Deaf is a wonderful school.

I'm proud of him, and I love him very, very much.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Trying Something New

When I noticed that it doesn't cost anything to publish a book with Lulu, I thought I might have something that I'm willing to part with for that price. I certainly don't want to publish my novel that way; I'd much rather hold out for an agent (although this might take as long as ten years or more). But I have an old novelette that I'm not as concerned about - partly because it really isn't my genre - and I don't plan to try very hard to get it published through traditional venues. So I thought, "Why not?" Who knows, maybe I'll make a few dollars from it . . .

I'm setting it up now for upload. When it's done, I'll post an update.

The Short Fiction Blues

I received more comments for my story "Hex Moon" at the Baen' Bar Slushpile. People liked it, at least, and I followed all the suggestions for revision the best that I could. It's just that some of the comments seemed misplaced. With the following sentence, I was told to make sure my tenses match:

"The Covens assembled outside the village, preparing for their journey to Luma territory."

And yet, I found this sentence (and many more like it) in Dave Duncan's Upland Outlaws:

"She walked in silence for awhile, trying very hard to shake off the aftertaste-of-nightmare feeling."

I was also asked how the Bone Wizard knew Q'La's name.

“I know your name. Your brother is mine, and now so are you.”

Well, I thought it was pretty clear when she says, "Your brother is mine . . ."

Maybe I'm wrong. If isn't clear, then I'll have to go back and change that point. No biggie.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tower of Light Update

Submissions are finally coming in for Tower of Light Magazine. Surprisingly, the first couple of stories I've read so far are rather good. The first issue will hopefully be ready to come out sometime in June at this rate. Of course, I'd like to see more before I decide what's going in, so I might still hold off until July. We'll see . . .

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Moving Along . . .

I've submitted a proposal for Estranged Earth to the Ethan Ellenberg Agency. This is so far the third agency I've tried, so it probably won't be the last. That won't stop me, of course! I just hope I don't have to wait until I'm fifty to get published (which very well may happen, since it's only ten years away) . . .

No matter what, I'll keep trying, and I'll post my progress here.

The magazine is starting to move along too. I've got three stories so far, and I think they're all pretty good. And there should be an interview . . . but I'm still waiting on that.

I'll close with this: Any writers out there who might be interested in submitting a story to Tower of Light, please review our guidelines. Tower of Light is now a paying market. It may not be much, but the pay rate is $5.00 for stories between 500 and 4000 words, and $10.00 for 4000-7000 words.

Also, if you're interested, you can buy your books from the Tower of Light Bookstore (in association with

Sunday, April 15, 2007

On the Short Story "Hex Moon"

"Hex Moon" is a short story I wrote that takes place in the same world as Estranged Earth, except that it's 10,000 years in the past. It's about a character for another book I've started, and I liked it so much that I've decided to use it for the prologue (even though it's rather long for this purpose).

This story is related to the events in Coven of the Worm because of a mystical link between the main character in "Hex Moon" and a character in book two - among other things.

Anyway, I just submitted it to be considered for the Sword and Sorceress 22 anthology. If it gets published in that, I'll be celebrating months. Here's keeping my fingers crossed!

Sigh. Another rejection, and I thought "Hex Moon" would be perfect for SS22. Well, I've submitted it for inclusion in Baen's Universe now. We'll see how that goes.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Final Draft

At last, the final draft of Estranged Earth is complete, and I can start submitting queries again. It took a long time to get it right, but I believe it was worth it. I tried to clean up all the awkward prose as well as rearrange passages to make the point of view conform to guidelines, then I added to or changed small parts of the story. It should be easier and more enjoyable to read now.

I'm also free to finish the sequel, which is still in the draft stage but is about 50,000 words long so far. Hopefully this one won't take quite so long to finish as the first. If I'm lucky (and diligent), I might finish it in time to pitch them both to agencies and/or publishers (on the theory that two books of the same series are better than one).

Summary of Pure Intensity

Here's a brief summary of my novel:

Linda Caldwell attends Putty Hill Senior High with her friends Jane and Candy, where she meets and falls in love with an intriguing young man named David Yeng-Chi.

David seems perfect for her, but he has a dark secret. His father Hamaki had trained him to use a deadly mix of martial arts and magic in the service of his god—Chai'Huon Ju, the Defiler. David is a descendent of the Worm Clan of a long forgotten prehistoric nation called Hunjan. There were other gods and different beliefs among these people, but the Worm Clan had believed in Chai'Huon Ju's legacy of evil.

As the relationship between David and Linda grows, Linda begins to have prophetic dreams warning her to stay away from him. The visions are so insistent and frightening that she surrenders to them and breaks up with David. Enraged, David resolves to have revenge by conjuring his god to Earth.

Linda has a secret too, however—one that might help to save her soul from the Defiler. Prophecy was merely the first of her abilities to develop and—she soon discovers—there were more powers to come.

Imagine My Surprise

To date, I have one published novel. The sales are still low because I haven't put a lot of work into promotion. I was too eager to publish and jumped at the opportunity when I should have put more work into the manuscript first. So I've completely revised it and changed the title.

Imagine my surprise when I found it was still for sale! It no longer includes a description, but it's still on Amazon. The book in this published form is called The Defiler's Rule: Pure Intensity.

However, it's still a good story, even in this version. Avid readers might grow frustrated with the awkward prose in some places and the constant shifting of POV, but otherwise some people might still enjoy it as it is.

It might not stay on Amazon for much longer, but—for anyone who is interested—Pure Intensity is still available right now.

I planned Pure Intensity as the first book in a dark fantasy series, which I'm still working on. However, I have completely revised the manuscript and changed the title. Of course, when published I may not get the title I want, but what I'm going with for now is Coven of the Worm, Book One: Estranged Earth.

My Favorite Genre

Fantasy (and the possibilities therein) is easily my favorite genre. My obsession began when I was nine years old and my uncle lent me The Hobbit and The Lord of Rings.I don't think I have any one favorite author - just lots of "favorites." These would include Stephen R. Donaldson, Mercedes Lackey, David Drake, David Gemmell, and so many more . . .

Personally, I would add Roger Zelazny, but apparently many fans consider his work sci-fi. I do understand why they feel this way, because the "shadows" of Amber are remarkably similar to the many worlds theory in quantum physics (all possible universes exist along the probability wave of the real universe). But I think of it as a classic example of genre blending, and therefore I think Zelazny was a master of mixing science fiction with fantasy.

Of course, as I grew older I knew I wanted to write fantasy, but I wanted to do things that stretched the conventions set by Tolkien. In fact, I would have to cite Zelazny as one of my influences here, because what I like the most is genre blending. I like to read and write stories that mix some conventions of science fiction, horror, and even romance (don't laugh - I'll admit it's not at the top of my list but I might give it shot one day) with fantasy. Some of these sub-genres include dark fantasy, romantic fantasy, superhero fantasy, future fantasy, science fiction and fantasy and science fantasy.

Tower of Light Fantasy Forums

Tower of Light Fantasy is a free forum for fantasy and science fiction fans and writers, and the official boards for Tower of Light Free Online Fantasy Magazine.

I'm just getting started on both, but the work seems to be coming along fine. The forum still needs active members, and the magazine is open for submissions. There are boards on the forum to discuss fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and historical literature. Writers can also post some of their work (in part - not complete stories) on the Critiques board for comments from other members.

Submission Guidelines for Tower of Light magazine can be found on the forum, too.