Short Story Collection

I am not by nature a short story reader or writer. I prefer to get down in there and really live with a character. But every once in a while I have an idea that lends itself to a short story.

Like my recent short story, By Your Side When the Sun Sets, that was about an old dragonrider and his dragon who is starting to forget him and what to do about that which was inspired by my having an aging dog who makes me sad every time she struggles to stand up.

Usually what I do with these stories is I submit them to the Writers of the Future writing contest, maybe try a couple other short story markets, and then let them rot away on my hard drive. But I realized that I actually had enough of those short stories that I could publish them as a collection.

Now, because I view novels and short stories as two different beasts, so to speak, I put the short stories out under an old pen name of mine, M.H. Lee. But I thought I’d share the existence of the collection here just in case anyone is both a short story and a novel reader.

So if that’s you, then you can find When The Time Comes and Other Stories on major retailers. And one of the stories, The Taste of Memory, which is about creativity and trauma and memory, you can read for free.

(Because this is 2020 and nothing is simple this year, the story collection is stuck in publishing on Nook but will hopefully push through. Of course, I’ve been saying that since the 15th. And the short story is currently free everywhere but Amazon but I have asked nicely so that could change at any moment as well. I tell ya, the writing is actually the easy part of this gig.)

A Couple Book Recommendations

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I’ve been reading  A LOT of books this year. I’m pretty sure I’ve bought and read fifty print books myself and that’s on top of all the ones I’ve borrowed from my mom.

(I have this trick where if I read a first book in a series and if I think she’ll like it I loan her the book and then if she really likes it she buys the rest of the series as soon as it comes out and I get to read it within a month or so of release rather than waiting for the book to be cheap enough I’ll buy it for myself. Or if the series is already out she just buys the rest of the series. Free books for me. Woohoo!)

That is my primary escape/stress release/what-have-you. Books. (And TV to a lesser extent. I’ve recently binged on some Australian and New Zealand cozy mystery TV series which were just soothing balms to my soul.)

This year being this year, though, not all books have done it for me as a reader. I think I’m much more critical right now in terms of what I’m willing to tolerate. I recently read a book where someone unrepentantly killed a million people and I just didn’t want to be there for that. And there were a handful of books I read this year or tried to read that seemed to revel in including formerly taboo topics.

One book I just tried to read spent three pages talking about shit. Literal shit. And, hey, every author gets to write what they want to write. I know some readers don’t like what I choose to write about. But I have no interest in that sort of thing right now.

And I’m saying all this so it’ll put the recommendations I’m about to make into context.

I wanted engrossing books that had “good people” with strong relationships as their main characters. I wasn’t necessarily looking for fluffy books–I do enjoy those at times, so no judgement there–but I just didn’t want to be depressed by what I read. Or manipulated for that matter. Or hate-reading the book to see if the character finally got their comeuppance. I wanted people trying to do good or be better than they were.

So these are the two that have stood out to me in the last few months that I can recommend without reservation.

Deal With the Devil by Kit Rocha: I really enjoy the Twitter account of one of the two authors behind this pen name and was starting to get a little desperate for good new reads so figured I’d check it out even though, for me personally, the guy having bionic fingers was not a selling point, and I’ve also been avoiding paying for hard covers since I stopped consulting. It was worth it, though.

I’d say the “mercenary librarians” angle is more of a catchphrase than the main focus. (I recently read Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine and that to me was much more of a library book than this one. Also a good book.) Deal with the Devil has a good ensemble cast of super soldier types on a dangerous adventure with everyone turning out to be pretty decent. I mean, sure, one of the main characters is basically a vigilante serial killer, but so far only for people who deserve it. It’s also definitely a romance.

I suspect this series will be structured like the Nora Roberts fantasy romance series books are where you have a new couple as the main viewpoint characters in each book but the whole ensemble is present throughout the entire series. And I do think that maybe one of the ultimate couples may actually be a threesome, but that doesn’t happen in this book. Just something to consider going in if any of that is an issue for you. There’s definitely sex in this book but it doesn’t dominate the plot and IMO it was well-written sex although (again, if this is an issue for you) with explicit words used.

The other book I really enjoyed is The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. I’m actually reading the third book in the series right now because I liked it so much that I kept going.  (In hard cover, so that tells you how much I liked it.) I haven’t finished the series so can’t vouch for all three, but so far we’re going strong. One character in the third book became disappointing for me because he put taking orders above doing the right thing, but I suspect by the end of it he’ll have turned that around. I certainly hope so.

This is one I couldn’t share with my mom because the world-building was too complex for her, but I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of it. There’s some “lost princess in a political power struggle with existing rulers” storyline but it’s still a really well-done series so far with nuanced characters and interesting magic.

It does have a lot of killing, so be prepared for that. But that’s more in the background than the forefront of the story, if that makes sense. Even when people are dying by the hundreds the focus is still on the characters.

Which is probably not a good way to describe it, but it’s good. And if you like fantasy with magic in it that focuses on the characters, I think it’s worth checking out.

So there you have it. Two books (actually three) worth reading while you wait for me to one day publish my next book, which despite my great desire for it to be so cannot be a book about a girl hanging out in the forest with her cool animal companion avoiding the rest of the world…

 

New Covers!

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It’s been almost five years since I published Rider’s Revenge and 2020 is a hellscape in a million ways. I’m also working towards publishing a new novel (hopefully–see hellscape comment above) soon.

So, in the interim I decided it was time for new covers for the Rider’s series. If you’re like my mother you’ll prefer the old covers, but I figure after a certain amount of time it’s always good to mix things up a bit and try something new.  And I do think the new covers are gorgeous.

See?

Rider's Revenge - eBook small
Rider's Rescue - eBook small
Rider's Resolve - eBook Small

Aren’t they pretty? And, yes, they are very different from the old ones which was the whole point. Mix it up and try something brand new.

If you read in ebook and are absolutely crushed about this, the three-book “box set” will still have the old cover.

I do hope you like them.

(And like I said, I am working on something new. I actually have four or five story ideas that all want to be written but none have developed in my mind to the point that they’re ready to take off so I have about three chapters written of each one and then they stall and need more backbrain time. It’s very annoying. Good news is once that first new novel in a series is written the rest comes much easier but the fallow period is a frustrating one.)

FYI

I just deleted my Twitter account. I’ve decided that Twitter and I just do not mix well. It’s not a social hangout for me and recently all I was posting about was COVID-19 awareness. (It’s serious folks. Stay home when you can, wear a mask when you can’t.) Before that I’d been on something like a two-year break from the place because I find the environment relatively toxic.

And with so much cancelling happening in SFF right now I really had no interest in going through the list of everyone I’ve followed over time and deciding whether their transgressions were legitimate enough for me to unfollow them or not. So I’m done.

It’s a great place to get the most current information on issues but it’s also very unfiltered in terms of “does this perpetuate stress or harm to others” and I just quite frankly find it exhausting. Keep enjoying it if it’s for you, but you won’t find me there anymore.

(And the only reason I post this is because I think they reuse user names after a period of time so I don’t want there to be any confusion out there about my having a Twitter account.)

We All Need an Escape

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I posted about how reading was my refuge when I was in college over on my non-fiction blog. Which is why I’ve decided to drop the price on my Rider’s Revenge series for anyone who hasn’t yet had a chance to read the full series. So instead of $7.99 each, you can now get the individual titles for just $2.99 or the entire trilogy for $4.99.

In addition, I have dropped the price on a number of the titles I have out under other pen names. I’m listing them below. Keep in mind here that there is a reason I use pen names, so you may have loved the Rider’s Revenge series and not like any of the other books. But if you, like me, need an escape and are always on the lookout for new authors to read, then maybe check them out.

The mystery series (the one with the dog on the cover) is the most light-hearted of the bunch. Erelia is a fantasy but it’s multiple viewpoint and has a much darker plot line. And the contemporary romance is, well, a romance. There are also a number of non-fiction titles I’ve dropped the price on, too, if you’d like to use this time to dig in on a non-fiction topic. I’d highly recommend Budgeting for Beginners if you’re feeling financially shaky right now. I’ve lived with unsteady income for over a decade at this point and I have some tips in there about how to see where you are when you’re in that situation.

Take care of yourselves and hopefully before the year is out I’ll have a new fantasy novel for you.

(Click on the images for a Books2Read page with all of the available stores, or they should be available at your chosen retailer. Only Erelia is exclusive to Amazon.)

Fiction:

Riders-Revenge-The-Complete-Trilogy-GenericThe Rider’s Revenge Trilogy: ($4.99 USD) A feminist YA fantasy adventure trilogy about a young girl who sets out to avenge her father and finds herself caught up in much bigger issues.

 

 

Erelia blue flame 20151222v5Erelia: (Available on Amazon Only, $2.99 USD and in KU) A dystopian utopia. Life seems perfect on the surface, but the reader sees just what horrible actions create that perfection. Also has a pandemic subplot. (I had unpublished this one just because I thought it needed a sequel and I wasn’t sure when I’d write that sequel, so be forewarned.)

 

A-Dead-Man-and-Doggie-Delights-KindleA Dead Man and Doggie Delights: (99 cents) First in what will soon be a six-book cozy mystery series set in the Colorado mountains. For lovers of Newfoundland dogs, Colorado, and quirky characters who like a little murder on the side. (Book 2, A Crazy Cat Lady and Canine Crunchies is also reduced to $2.99 USD.)

 

Something-Worth-Having-KindleSomething Worth Having ($2.99 USD): Contemporary romance bordering on women’s fiction. About a woman facing a breast cancer diagnosis who goes on a road trip with a man she is absolutely not allowed to fall in love with. (A related but standalone title, Something Gained, is also just $2.99 right now.

 

 

Non-Fiction ($2.99 USD each)

Excel for Beginners open sans boldv2

Excel for Beginners: A guide to Microsoft Excel for those who need to master the basics.

 

 

Budgeting for Beginners open sansBudgeting for Beginners: A book that will teach you how to figure out where you are financially, judge what that means, and give tips for how to improve. Especially helpful right now for those who are finding themselves without a steady paycheck, because it covers how to approach irregular income like that. (Also available in audio as the Juggling Your Finances Starter Kit.)

Quick--Easy-Cooking-for-One-KindleQuick & Easy Cooking for One: Exactly what it says. A guide to cooking for yourself for the absolute beginner. More concept-based than step-by-step, but it does include recipes.

 

 

Writing for Beginners open sans

Writing for Beginners: An overview of what a beginning writer should know to get started. Includes discussions of point of view, tense, as well as agents and publishing paths. (Also available in audio under the title The Beginning Writer’s Guide to What You Should Know.)

 

Dont Be a Douchebag PC version 20160803v10Don’t Be a Douchebag: Online Dating Advice I Wish Men Would Take: A snarky guide to online dating for men who aren’t doing so well at it. (Also available in audio. Some retailers may have a different cover.)

 

 

Rider’s Revenge Trilogy Now in Paperback

Just a quick note to let you know that the Rider’s Revenge Trilogy is now available in a gigantic omnibus for those who are print fans.  I suspect the individual books are an easier read, because they’re not two and a half inches thick like this behemoth, but it does make the price of the print versions more accessible. (About $30 USD for all three novels combined.)

Should be available (at least for order) anywhere you buy print books but here’s the Amazon US link.

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(Ignore the book on the bottom, that’s just another little project of mine. Unless, of course, you want to learn about Microsoft Excel…)

In other news, I think I may finally be turning to writing a new fantasy series. I detoured into non-fiction and cozy mysteries for a bit there, but I think it’s about time to return to my first love. Now to just figure out which idea to write…

Rider’s Revenge Trilogy on Sale on Kobo

For anyone who hasn’t yet read the entire Rider’s Revenge Trilogy, it’s part of a big SFF promo on Kobo now through May 15th and you can get the entire trilogy in ebook format for only $3.99.  Here’s the direct link.

Also, if you’ve already read the entire trilogy, then you may want to check out the rest of the promotion. Lots of options and some are up to 80% off.

StoryBundle Announcement

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Rider’s Revenge, the first in the Rider’s Revenge Trilogy, is currently part of a StoryBundle. You can check it out here: https://storybundle.com/fantasy

For those of you who’ve never heard of StoryBundle before it is a fantastic opportunity to buy a selection of curated books for a low price. And it comes with an opportunity to support charity if you’re so inclined.

I assume by now you’ve probably read Rider’s Revenge, but there are fourteen other titles in the bundle that I suspect you haven’t read yet, including some by huge names like Kristine Kathryn Rusch, James A. Owen, and Alan Dean Foster.

This is your chance to find a new favorite author. You can get five books, including mine, for just $5. Or you can get all fifteen books for just $15. Well worth it in my opinion. So check it out!

A Small Promo and an Update

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First, for those who haven’t started or finished the Rider’s Revenge Trilogy, it’s on sale this week. Book 1, Rider’s Revenge, is 99 cents or equivalent on all retailers and in all countries. Also, the box set of the trilogy is on sale for $4.99 or equivalent on all retailers and in all countries. So a good deal for those who have yet to try the series or finish it.

Second, for those of you who have read the series and want more…

Unfortunately, I’m not sure when that will happen at this point and don’t want to make a promise about it that I can’t keep. (Like I have previously.)

The Rider’s Revenge trilogy is complete, so no one should be left wondering how things end, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad not writing more fantasy novels. I know as a reader how hard it can be to find fantasy you truly enjoy, so when you find an author you like you want them to write more, more, more.

But I’ve found as a writer that sometimes that isn’t as easy as it seems.

Ideas are not the issue–I have a notebook with ten different fantasy series ideas I could write next. (Although maybe letting those ideas steep enough is part of it. For example, how do you write a novel about a grandmother who saves the world by growing roses without it being boring?)

No, my issue right now is time. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do and other things have had to take priority for now. But I will write another fantasy novel. Fantasy is my first love and most of what I read so I can’t imagine never writing it again.

It just won’t be before the end of the year and I’m sorry about that. Fortunately, there are plenty of great books out there to read in the meantime. A few I recently read and enjoyed include:

Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce – I liked the first in the series better than the second but both were easy, enjoyable reads. My mom is reading them now and agrees.

Spellslinger by Sebastian de Castell – I could’ve done without the weird animal but I read it in a day and enjoyed it and will probably buy the next book in the series at some point.

Also, a good friend of mine recently released a fun YA vampire series that’s been doing really well. I don’t do vampires so haven’t read it myself, but if you do, then check it out: Bite Me by Louise Cypress.

(Those links are affiliate links to Amazon, just FYI, but all of the books should be easy to find with a simple search, too, although I believe Bite Me is exclusive to Amazon.)

I hope you’re all doing well. I’m here in my office with rain and yellow-leaved trees visible outside while my pup is curled up on her bed snoring softly. Not a bad place to be, if I do say so myself.

Rider’s Revenge Box Set Now Available

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Just wanted to drop by real quick and let you know that the Rider’s Revenge Trilogy is now available as an ebook box set. So if you haven’t finished the whole series yet, it might be a good option for you.

Five books with blank cover box set standing isolated on whiteRidersRevolveTrilogyFlat with black

The 3D version of the cover is available on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and Google. The 2D version is available on Apple.

And since I don’t have a new book to offer you just yet, I thought I’d mention a couple books I just finished reading and enjoyed.

First was The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey. I’ve been a fan of hers for years but the last few books had left me a little meh. This one, though, I really enjoyed. So if you’ve drifted away from reading her in recent years, this one’s probably worth trying.

Second was the Fallen Blade series by Kelly McCullough which starts with Broken Blade. There was a little too much cussing in them for my mom and a little too many references she didn’t understand, so probably not for the more casual fantasy reader, but I really enjoyed the series. I’m on book six now and have yet to be disappointed.