Five Fun Facts about Cast into the Fire


Pardon the shameless promotion, but you know it’s got to happen every now and then….

1. Expect characters you didn’t expect

Okay, I would call that above statement oxymoronic (some might just call it moronic), but it’s true.  Considering Cast into the Fire is book three of a quadrilogy (a word I’m trying to establish in our lexicon), certain characters from book one get to make reappearances they didn’t have in the second book.

As you would expect, several players in the second book return for this round.  And what’s a new book without new characters…?

2. The research took years

Considering Darkness upon the Land debuted in 2017, this might not be much of a surprise.  Knowing what – and where – things would be happening in the following books, I’ve taken advantage of any opportunities that turned up to further the research.

As a writer, my mind takes on sponge-like qualities whenever I travel, anyway (although some might claim those ocean denizens and I think alike, regardless).  I go anywhere with the assumption I might need to know this for a future story.  It’s a good thing Hubby enjoys exploring as much as I do, or he’d be left sitting out in the car….

3. These darn books keep getting longer

When the second book, Wail of the Tempest, was completed, I was actually a bit disgruntled it was a few hundred words longer than the first one.  Imagine my disgruntlement when book three wound up over a thousand words longer.

The books will be as long as they have to be to tell their stories, but longer books create more work.  This may seem obvious, but did you factor in the editing and formatting that follows the writing?  And as you would expect, the more words there are, the more errors that can creep in.

I’m really hoping the final book will reverse this trend … but it will be as long as it has to be to tell its story (sigh).

4. Its debut was delayed by COVID-19

Count this book among the things got pushed back, thanks to that annoying virus.  The bug and I have kept a wide berth, but the societal effects of this flu caused some complications.  All the lockdowns and social distancing descended in full force while I was working with beta readers on making final polishes to the manuscript.

Technology helped us overcome enough hurdles in that arena, but then I had to take the job market under consideration.  People were falling into unemployment.  Even if it was only temporarily, it didn’t make sense to ask folks to buy a new book while they weren’t sure when their paycheck would return.

5. It’s so timely, it’s scary

A major theme of Cast into the Fire is resisting totalitarian policies.  Been listening to any news lately?  Plenty of people are suspicious about limits to our freedom to assemble, or delays on economic recovery, or requests of contact information on folks who go to church (to make it easier to track new cases, they say).

The story involves a corrupt government faction that treads on rights in the name of rebuilding.  We’re flirting with violating some rights in the name of keeping people safe.  It’s not my goal to be an alarmist, but it’s always a good idea to remain vigilant….

So here’s a reminder this book is being offered at a special introductory price.  The e-book is available for preorder at your favorite online book retailer for $2.99.  The paperback will be available at Amazon by June 2 at the lower price of $12.00 until June 16.

Okay, I’m sufficiently ashamed.  Time to get back to work on that next book….


Cast into the Fire – Available Now

The third book of my End of an Age series is available for preorder.  Okay, let me modify that:  The e-book is available for preorder at your favorite online retailer.  The paperback will be available at Amazon by the launch date of June 2.


Cast into the Fire continues the (mis)adventures of Alexia Gautreaux, a young woman with the singular ability to convert energy into a force to be reckoned with.  This talent means shadowy conspirators want to capture her and use her powers for their evil.  And did I mention this takes place after a coronal mass ejection (really big solar storms) knocks out the power grid, dragging society into chaos?

In this book, Alexia gets involved with a resistance movement that’s formed to depose those shadowy conspirators.  Her goal is to help behind the scenes and not confront her pursuers directly … and of course things don’t go as planned.

If you’re a visual person who likes videos about books, click below to watch the short (under two minutes) trailer:

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Cast into the Fire preorders are offered at the special introductory price of $2.99 for the e-book.  The paperback will also be at a lower price initially, but I’ll have to update you on that detail later.

I hope you’re as excited as I am…!

Evil by Degrees


“I will crush him.”  IMP2 savored the vision that flashed through his mind as he imagined watching the spark of life in his opponent’s eyes dull to an empty glaze.

Visual impressions didn’t translate well in the data core, but the panel of six members before him could still perceive his satisfaction.  Instead of basking in it, however, they drove urgency back to him, tempering his enthusiasm for the task they’d assigned to him.

“It may be necessary to delay terminating IMP17.”  The second person in the row of members had a face that shone like gold but was otherwise impassive.

The panel sat elevated above the meeting-room pit IMP2 stood in, a beige wall separating him from the group.  Although the data core bound the Elite as a virtually telepathic culture, speech was utilized to flute above the flurry of perceptions interspersed among them.

IMP2 received a conception from the panel, theories about a plan involving technically engineered construction.  “You believe he’s involved in a particularly subversive plot?”

“In the five months since IMP17 defected to the rabble, he has significantly participated in their revolution.”  The golden one’s gaze settled upon him.  “With his guidance they’ve succeeded in thwarting our cyborg armies around the globe, adapting too swiftly to modifications we make to the programming.”

Another failure, IMP2 thought, and was immediately barraged with castigatory impulses from the panel.  He pushed back, recalling this war had waxed and waned over fifty years, enduring so long because the rabble resisted every technique the Elite employed against them.

Even the Intellectual Militant Prototypes, a minor experiment resorted to because of continuing inefficacies, was a failure.  IMP2 acknowledged that reality.  But when it was deemed his skills were no longer necessary in the field, he embraced the culture that generated him … unlike the cowardly IMP17 who fled to the enemy.

The shadow of a smile tightened the gold member’s lips as the panel accepted IMP2’s response.  “We acknowledge the efficiency of your utility to this association.  That is why you have been selected to dispatch IMP17 and disclose this new artifice that has recently come to attention.”

“A shrewd decision as always, my lords.”  IMP2 appreciated their cognizance in realizing that it might take an IMP to catch an IMP.

All twenty-four prototypes had been generated in the same laboratory, their DNA varying only by surface appearances.  In order to infiltrate the rabble, they couldn’t all look alike, but they were otherwise matched in physical and intellectual capabilities.

It was the intellectual matters that concerned the Elite sovereignty.  Although every IMP was designed with high intelligence, the strategy they were developed for also required independent thinking.  As feared, some developed outlooks that were incompatible with the cultural philosophy.  No more IMPs were generated, and in the course of warfare their number dwindled to only five true adherents.

But then one of those adherents turned out to be a traitor after all.

He was well acquainted with IMP17.  They had matured together, drilled together, and trained together.  While his associate’s defection had been a bit of a surprise, IMP2 pondered factors that might have led to such an act.  IMP17 had always been a stickler for discipline.  Know your enemy had been his prevailing mantra.

It appeared his study of the enemy had corrupted him into secretly appreciating their backwards customs.

Now that IMP17 was among the enemy, IMP2 considered what he knew about the defector.  IMP17 had always been unconventional with his strategy.  It was always difficult to second-guess him because sometimes he took risks that appeared irrational … but would then pay off.

And because IMP2 knew his enemy, he could work that trait to his advantage.

“We only request that before you exterminate him, determine if he has any involvement with this alternative conspiracy.”  The golden one gazed at IMP2.  “We know only that these rabble have been developing it for longer than we’ve realized.  If you can uncover their activity through IMP17, he can at least be of value to us one final time before his demise.”

IMP2 bowed before them, confident he would discover this latest secret, and adding the pleasure of experiencing IMP17’s humiliation before death made its claim.  “I will endeavor to serve you with all that I have, for you have given me all that there is.”

The panel accepted his alacrity, and IMP2 exited the chamber with multiple ideas springing to mind – some his own, some from them.  As eager as he was to track IMP17 down, the matter of this not-so-new development lurked in the back of his thoughts like a serpent slithering along the edge of a meadow.

If not for their heretical beliefs, the ingenuity of the rabble could be admirable … but what new chicanery might they be plotting?  Whatever it was, he would insure that it came to naught.  After all, there was nowhere in the world safe enough to retreat to, so they were only putting off the inevitable.


Introducing this character to the serialization is my contribution to #BlogBattle this month.  The word for May is Flute.  I think that word is challenging enough to get lots of creative juices floating … don’t miss checking out the other stories!

Last month’s edition was sort of a lead-in to this one if you missed it.  And as for an update on the next book, I should have some bigger news next week….

The Articles and Conjunctions of Prepositions


Don’t worry, this isn’t a refresher course on parts of speech you learned in grammar school.  Although you might want to worry about the fact I’m going to ramble about finishing a book.

You see, just before I do my final edit, I reread Elements of Style by Strunk and White.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a slim volume that ingeniously condenses years of English and writing courses into a concise guide.  It’s not a substitute for education, mind you, but it’s effective at jogging my memory how to render a complex language into something cohesive.

It’s supposed to help keep me from rambling….

There’s never a point in writing where the work ends.  Drafting is hard work.  People may think writers sit down and just toss ideas onto screen or paper, but it’s not that easy.  Believe me, that blank screen or page often seems to defy us, daring us to mar its pristine appearance with inadequate words.

Rewriting is hard work.  I prefer it to drafting, but now those inadequate words have to be whipped into shape.  Whole passages can be ripped out and replaced with something … better … but there’s always room for improvement.

Getting down to the final edit is the detail work you do after the main mess has been cleaned up.  This is usually when I discover all the words accidentally dropped from sentences in my flurry to finish the last rewrite.  I’ve noticed many of those words tend to be articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.

But there is one doozy I’m going to confess….

Something as simple as describing a certain character when he first appears in the book consistently eluded me.  On my final rewrite before sending my manuscript to beta readers, I made a note in the passage to describe him.  I rushed ahead to fix something more pertinent … and completely forgot to return to that character.

More than one beta reader had a huh? response to that cryptic note….

Okay, leaving out a word here and there is one thing, but leaving out whole sentences is just inexcusable.  Don’t worry, that character got his description, but maybe you should worry about any writer that can ramble that far….