Argetallam Anthropology (or I Solemnly Swear I Thought This Through)

I love anthropology—the study of humans—but sometimes it gets in the way of writing the way I want. I wrote a lot of the Argetallam culture while taking a cultural anthropology class. This highlighted some practical problems.

Culturally, Argetallams have faced genocide multiple times. It’s why they have trust issues when it comes to outsiders and why they culturally emphasize survival and greater good of their race. As a result, they have a perpetual war mindset and live in a state of readiness—which brings us to Problem #1.

Problem #1: Argetallams are all warriors

I’ve ranted before that it takes 100 civilians to support a single full-time fighter. While Argetallams spend time managing their vineyards and caravans, there weren’t enough leatherworkers, potters, weavers, masons, and other miscellaneous productive persons to make this work.

Solution to Problem #1: Lots of foreigners

The merchant and worker classes in Staspin are comprised almost entirely of foreign nationals and slaves. Argetallams are at the top of the hierarchy and make up the noble/ruling class. Even the lowest Argetallam is still legally ranked higher than the richest foreigner (though in practice the foreigner may enjoy greater privileges).

Problem #2: Lots of foreigners

Practically, I couldn’t just say that a few thousand people, who outnumber their Argetallam overlords 100 to 1, were happy with being second- and third-class citizens. What was to stop them from overrunning and revolting against the Argetallams?

Solution to Problem #2: Low birthrates for Argetallam/Argetallam couples

Because of low fertility among “pure” Argetallams, Argetallams take mates from foreigners as a standard practice. Most the foreigners in Staspin have an Argetallam relative. This is where the Argetallam emphasis on clan loyalty can provide these relatives with favor.

Problem #3: Low birthrates for Argetallam/Argetallam couples



This takes me back to needing lots and lots of foreigners. Couples made up of two Argetallams suffer high incidence of infertility—I haven’t explained why yet. Besides that, the rare children born from these unions are no stronger or more powerful than Argetallam with a non-Argetallam parent.

Doesn’t this take us right back up to Problem #2? Doesn’t that clan loyalty to non-Argetallam relatives in the last section make more problems? After all, division of loyalty between your family and your magical kindred could be difficult.

Solution to Problem #3: Equality Among Argetallams + Solution to Problem #1

We have the non-Argetallams to meet the workforce need, but they’re still unilaterally subjugated Argetallams.

But because of equality between Argetallams, even though many mates—especially female concubines—of Argetallams may be mistreated, Argetallam children will have the same rights, privileges, and upward mobility of any other Argetallam. Argetallams make no distinction between men or women and a minimal class distinction among their own.

Equality Among Argetallams encourages Argetallams to embrace their own, excel among their own, and for their non-Argetallam relatives to help them succeed.

As they say, the tide raises all ships. If your Argetallam cousin becomes a general, that’s a trickle down of resources and standard of living for you.

Anyone born an Argetallam in Staspin can start anywhere and work up to anywhere. The royal family is the exception.

Problem #4: Equality Among Argetallams

We now need to explain why there’s such a huge power distance between the Presiding Argetallam and everyone else. Also, why would a society with so many options for some limit the majority of their population?

They value individual merit and advancement. Why wouldn’t that include people besides Argetallams and why do they have a ruling dynasty at all?

Solution to Problem #4: Magic

We go more into the importance and power of the Presiding Argetallam in books #5 and #6. (You’re in for a ride in #6!) But ultimately, the Presiding Argetallam is the magical axis of the power matrix that binds their race.

Being born an Argetallam makes you a part of this matrix, regardless of rank, lineage, or location. This is both the reason for their group equality and the solution to it. This is the reason Argetallams can set themselves so far apart from everyone—including their non-Argetallam relatives.

Bottom line: magic solves all your problems.

In the end, only another Argetallam can enjoy the power of being one. It’s the reason for both their elitism and their egalitarianism.

In the end, the thing that defines the Argetallams is their immunity to and power to steal magic. Having that explain all their cultural idiosyncrasies is just logical. Therefore, my inner anthropologist is appeased.

Hopefully, this sociological obstacle course makes sense.

Download the first Argetallam Saga book for free on all platforms.

In a world where magic is revered, what could be worse than the power to steal it?

Amazon | BN.com | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

Pivoting to a Pen Name

If you follow me on social media, you probably saw my announcement that I’m switching over to a pen name—E.L. Wheatley—at the end of this month.

I’m sure this seems sudden from your end, but I wanted to use a pen name from the start. When I was first published, I was fifteen and other people helped me publish my work. They assumed I would use my full name and I never told them otherwise.

Nothing is stopping me now, so I’m going for it!

Henceforth, I will be writing fiction as E.L. Wheatley.

What this means for my books:

Argetallam Saga

I won’t be publishing the last three books in this series. Though I love Janir and her story, it hasn’t resonated with readers as much and I want to concentrate on what y’all enjoy. If you would still like digital copies of the series closers, click below!

Request Argetallam Saga #5 – #7

Fanged

I will be redoing the covers and re-releasing these early 2019 along with novella #5!

Warlords of the Sandsea

I have more of these books planned and intend to go back to work on the series Fall 2019!

Daindreth’s Assassin

I no longer have plans to publish this series. I wrote the 1,000,000+ words of this five-part epic while in the throes of mental illness. The main premise stemmed from my struggles with PTSD. Working on the series kept me going for years, but the story has a darkness and hopelessness that I can’t edit away without rewriting about 95% of it.

I don’t want to dump my angst on y’all. I love you too much.

God Slayers

Tagline: The gods are dying, and their champion has betrayed them.

This is a new 40 novella series I’m working on now. I’m shooting to release one every 18 days starting March 2019. Watch for updates!

I will be moving everyone over to my E.L. Wheatley mailing list at the end of this month and be retiring this one. But don’t worry, I’ll send out a confirmation email, so you can choose to unsubscribe if you want.

Sign up for my new mailing list

Thanks again for sticking with me and until next time!

– Elisabeth aka E.L. Wheatley

Writing Women: When “Strong” Isn’t Enough

“Strong female character” has turned into a bit of a buzzword. I used to love it, but I’m not so hyped about it now. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much prefer a strong female character to a weak one. But “strong” does not mean “well-written.”

“Strong” does not necessarily mean “realistic,” “relatable,” or “presenting a positive view of womanhood.”

In pop culture today, we have three basic stereotypes/archetypes that only apply to female characters—the damsel, the evil queen, and the paragon.

Archetype #1: The Damsel (Mina in Dracula)

Helpless, virginal, prone to fainting/crying/screaming—this character is the one that exists to make us feel better about another character, usually the male hero. Though less popular now, the damsel archetype is still alive and well, sometimes even alongside the paragon—as seen with Princess Jehnna and Zula in Conan the Destroyer.

This is usually the archetype is usually cited as the one to avoid, drawing attention from it’s equally unfair and sexist counterparts.

Archetype #2: The Evil Queen (Bavmorda in Willow and Cirsei in Game of Thrones)

The evil queen is the opposite of the damsel. She is rebellious where the damsel is submissive, manipulative where the damsel is passive, sexually insatiable where the damsel is chaste, and power-hungry where the damsel is humble and “content with a simple life.”

Archetype #3: The Paragon (Alice in Resident Evil and Arya in Eragon)

The third unhealthy archetype, the paragon, is alive and well, too. This archetype shows a female (or can be any minority) character as hyper-competent. In the case of female characters in Fantasy, it usually takes the form of unparalleled fighting skill that levels armies and dominates men.

These characters tend to be emotionally detached and show a disdain for culturally feminine things and women who embrace them. They “don’t need a man” yet almost always have a tragic backstory involving a romantic interest.

Notice that two out of three of these tropes can be called “strong.”



The Evil Queen takes what she wants and stands up for herself. The Paragon takes what she wants and stands up for herself. I would say both could be considered strong, but neither is a healthy view of feminity and neither is what I want to emulate personally.

Unpopular opinion: Tolkien is criticized for his portrayal of women, but I still consider him far ahead of his time.

The warrior princess, Èowyn, has tender moments as well as moments of literally stabbing evil in the face. Galadriel, not her husband, is the one wizards and kings seek for counsel.

No, the trilogy doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test. No, it can’t be considered feminist by any stretch. However, like Shakespeare, I believe Tolkien deserves more credit for getting the ball rolling on empowerment in his genre.

As they say, if you see a problem, you fix it. That’s why I work to bring a positive portrayal of formidable women in my stories.

Whether you prefer the term strong, well-developed, realistic, or something else, my goal is to write my female characters with diverse personalities, abilities, and appearances—but also tenderness.

I want to show women can be cruel, women can be tough, but also that strength doesn’t mean you can’t cry or that you’re never hurt.

I set out to create empowered, independent heroines who are still allowed to have doubts, second guess themselves, and be vulnerable.

We ladies spend so much time telling ourselves we can be strong. That’s fantastic and I say that to myself and others all the time. But I think we forget sometimes that doesn’t mean we can’t be soft. In fact, you must be strong to be soft.

Being truly strong isn’t just about being outwardly tough, it’s about being inwardly tough. It’s about having healthy boundaries and not holding grudges so that you can love freely and forgive relentlessly.

I truly believe that if we are going to see the love, compassion, and tenderness our world so desperately needs right now, women are going to have to stand up against the lie that they must be harsh to be powerful.

It takes courage to be kind. – Maya Angelou

Download the first Argetallam Saga  book for free on all platforms.

In a world where magic is revered, what could be worse than the power to steal it?

Amazon | BN.com | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

 

Making of the Sandsea: Troy and the Iliad

The inspiration for the world and characters of the Sandsea came from many places, but one of my first sources of inspiration was Homer’s The Iliad.

I’ve loved Greek mythology since my dad told my brother and I the story of Odysseus on our front porch during a rainstorm while making cheese. My favorite movie is Troy—a quasi-historical retelling of The Iliad.

Ashek was largely inspired by Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Achilles in Troy.

I generally spent most of the film mad at Achilles, but his character arc and development through the story is incredible. Ashek in my mind is a combination of Brad Pitt as Achilles and Jason Momoa as Conan with a bit of puritanism sprinkled in. (If you haven’t read the books, I know you want to now.)

Talitha is based on my favorite character from Troy—Prince Hector. I found his dedication to honor and his concern for country above personal cost unforgettably compelling. Talitha’s grandfather, Ensaak Morzei, was inspired Priam—the ruler whose fighting days are past, yet still pulls the strings.

But not all of my Hellenistic ideas for the Sandsea came from this one movie. The city of Ilios and the star-crossed lovers of  Ensaadi are based on the historical Trojan story.

“Ilios” itself is a modification of Ilium, another name for Troy and Naram is based on the infamous Helen.

Helen of Troy/Sparta was an actual person who really did run away with a Trojan prince. Contrary to the Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger versions, it was probably motivated by politics and wealth than love.



As a queen, Helen would have been a prize and the Trojans possessing her would have been a massive injury to her husband. Men in Ancient Greece were actually in danger of losing their social status if their wives were unfaithful. For a king, it would have been even worse.

Paris “stealing” Helen would have been a low and brutal blow.

But the landscape of the Spartan coast and practicality dictate there is no way Helen could have been “stolen” as some painters and authors have tried to suggest. Getting her out covertly would have required cooperation and

Troy was a city of wealth and opulence, known for its spices—especially saffron—gold, jewels, and assorted riches. By comparison, Sparta was, well, pretty spartan. In The Iliad, Helen is chided for chasing after the wealth of Troy.

It seems likely that Helen’s reasons were for luxury and Paris’s reasons were for power.

I made Esreth’s motives personal, not political, but what Paris does is not far from what she does in stealing away Naram. When they reach Ilios, they are welcomed because despite Esreth’s rashness and hotblooded madness, she is one of the ensaak’s heirs.

In the same way, Troy would have welcomed back Paris—one of their own—and his high-profile prize regardless if his actions had been state-sponsored or not.

Ilios is the Troy of the Sandsea.

And that’s about as much as I can tell you without spoiling book #2.

Check out the first book here:

Making of the Sandsea: DINOSAURS in history

Who says required classes can’t be fun? I went to a Christian college and part of the required coursework was a semester of the Old Testament and a semester of the New Testament.

If you’ve gotten through novellas 3-5, you’ve probably picked up some Old Testament themes of taking back land, freedom from bondage, and iconoclasm. But my biggest inspiration in this Old Testament class may come as a surprise.

Wait for it—DINOSAURS.

Yes, my professor spent an entire week on DINOSAURS. At one point while studying, 21-year-old me rushed out of my room jumping up and down and sputtering because I was just SO EXCITED and it was SO COOL.

Yes, dinosaurs exist in the Bible and they exist in secular history around the world, but they were called dragons. The word “sirrushes” I use for the reptilian mounts of the Sandsea is actually a Babylonian word for dragons.

Alexander the Great complained about his men not wanting to go near “dragons” in India. Ledgers from Imperial China show a “royal dragon feeder” used to be on the payroll. The older art of dragons is, the more it looks like what’s preserved in the fossil record.

Species go extinct daily. I don’t see why it’s a stretch for anyone to believe dinosaurs lived alongside humans, but died out, too.




For dinosaurs, their bane seems to have been climate change. The largest explosion in Earth history was a few thousand (I ascribe to Young Earth Theory but insert your preferred number here) years ago when a meteor struck our planet. The force of the impact instantly vaporized the meteor itself, sending a thick layer of ash, dirt, and debris that clouded our atmosphere for years. Talk about the Desolation of Smog. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

That layer of debris blocked the sun’s heat, causing a global ice age. The large cold-blooded dinosaurs and many other species were unable to survive in these conditions and mostly perished—though I do believe some survived into the Middle Ages. (Maybe even now. Who knows?)

Instead of an Ice Age, the world of the Sandsea has experienced a global warming.

I don’t spend a lot of time on meteorological and astronomical justification, but as a result, droughts on the planet are widespread and water is scarce.

So in this scenario, while lizards like the sirrushes and duneserpents thrive, large mammals such as horses have mostly died out. Cattle and sheep are mentioned, but not often, because they’re difficult to sustain in the Sandsea.

Many large dinosaurs would also need large amounts of water, so they too have died out (at least in Talitha’s part of the world). Bird species and insect species have mostly thrived (as seen in Magian), but mass extinction has left the ecosystem sparse.

Someday, I’ll have to write a story to tell you how the Sandsea turned to sand, but right now I’m having too much fun in the sandy version.

Side note, anyone who thinks Christianity is boring had a bad teacher.

Check out the first book in Warlords of the Sandsea here:

Interview: Writing Fantasy as a Christian with W.R. Gingell

Today., I’m delighted to be hosting W.R. Gingell for an interview on writing fairytales, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Urban Fantasy as a Christian! I hope you enjoy her insights as much as I did and don’t forget to check out her links and the reviews I’ve written of (a few of) her books at the very end!

You’re a prolific writer of fairytale retellings, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Urban Fantasy (tell me if I’m missing a genre!) and you’re also a Christian. How does your faith fit into your books?

Directly, my faith fits in not at all. I don’t yet write the Christian fiction I want to write (well, I haven’t published it yet, at any rate!) so there’s no direct references to God in my books.

Indirectly, every line I write contains my faith; whether it’s in the moral code of my characters, the theme of the book, or the way in which I write.

That’s fantastic! What do you think, if anything, is the most consistent Christian theme that can be seen in your books?

It’s so hard to tell from my side of the book! Quite often I don’t mean to thread themes through the books; they just happen as a natural outworking of my faith in my point of view, and I then tease them out a bit. My characters tend to either naturally or gradually begin to seek to do the right thing no matter the cost, and that’s an important part of my books, but I also love to explore the theme of forgiveness, new life, and growth. Lately, I’ve been enjoying an exploration into the idea of implacable justice.

I would definitely say that morality and mercy are recurring themes. Are there any Christian writers who write in your genre(s) that you look up to? How have they influenced you?

Yes! Kate Stradling is another author I knew to be a Christian before I even ‘met’ her online. Her books are gorgeous, fun, delightful things that always seem to have well-drawn themes of forgiveness and redemption in them without leaving you feeling you’ve been preached at. They’re natural, inborn into the story and the characters. I love her characters and her humour (as well as her amazing ideas!) and just reading her books has taught me a lot about writing, craftwise and thematically.

I will have to look her up! Have you experienced backlash for your writing within the Christian community? How?

Yes; unfortunately backlash from the Christian community is as common as backlash from the other side of the fence. Some of the most common accusations from the Christian community are that I’m making a living from lying, that it’s a sin to write fantasy—to write at all, that it’s a waste of the time I could be using to serve God, etc.

To most of these accusations I don’t reply, since I know I won’t convince the sort of people that hold those opinions, but every now and then there’s a particularly persistent questioner who won’t be satisfied until I answer them.

WOW. Kudos to you Not all criticism of Fantasy as anti-Christian is undeserved (i.e. Graceling, The Farthest Shore, The Golden Compass). What is different in your writing versus some of the more overtly humanist examples?

Oh goodness, I remember reading Philip Pullman and being SO uncomfortable because of the way his worldview oozed through the pages! I was really young at that time (about the same age as when I discovered C.S. Lewis) but it was obvious to me even then.

I try to be careful to always keep to the same kind of morals in my characters that I hold to myself. That means there’s no kind of anti-god sentiment that you’d find in Pullman’s work, for example; nor will there be witchcraft displayed in a good light—though there will be magic. And the occasional vampire.

And as we discussed earlier, I try to have the kind of themes running through my books that I love to read in other books—things that make me think about life, and God, and my soul.

I don’t blame parents for being careful with what their children read with the kind of fantasy that’s also out there. Honestly speaking, I can’t even fault them if they decide they don’t want to read or have their kids read my writing—everyone has to act in accordance to their conscience, and there’s nothing more precious than their and their children’s souls.

I admire your commitment to your faith and you definitely have thick skin! Are there also challenges from within the “secular” writing/reading community? How are they different (or similar) to what you’ve faced in the Christian sphere?

The kind of pushback there is usually more savage and self-righteous in tone, even though the complaints are different. From the secular writing/reading community I usually get attacks based on the lack of sex scenes, my stance on—and lack of inclusion of—LGBT+ themes and characters, and what’s perceived as mealy-mouthed characters who don’t swear.

I’ve noticed those three things seem to be the main pressure points. But look at you sticking to your guns! Where can people find you online and is there any book news you’d like to share?

I can be found at The WR(ite) Blog, on Facebook, Twitter, and every good ebook retailer! My first UF book came out just a little over a month ago (Between Jobs, first in the City Between series) and I’m currently working on the second book, so you can expect more madcap adventures in the other version of Hobart, Tasmania…

About W.R. Gingell

W.R. Gingell is a Tasmanian author who lives in a house with a green door. She loves to rewrite fairytales with a twist or two–and a murder or three–and original fantasy where dragons, enchantresses, and other magical creatures abound. Occasionally she will also dip her toes into the waters of SciFi. You can visit her Amazon Author Page HERE.

W.R. spends her time reading, drinking an inordinate amount of tea, and slouching in front of the fire to write. Like Peter Pan, she never really grew up, and is still occasionally to be found climbing trees.

Get the latest news about forthcoming books, coupons, and other Free Stuff by signing up to her monthly newsletter HERE!

My reviews (so far) of Gingell’s books

Twelve Days of Faery (Shards of a Broken Sword, #1)
Fire in the Blood (Shards of a Broken Sword, #2)
The First Chill of Autumn (Shards of a Broken Sword, #3)

Masque (A Two Monarchies Sequence)

Playing Hearts

Lady of Dreams (Lady of Dreams, #1)

 

Making of the Sandsea: Mesopotamian Mythology/History

In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, I want to tell you about how Warlords of the Sandsea was inspired by Mesopotamian lore and history.

I want to clarify that Warlords of the Sandsea is NOT historical any more than Lord of the Rings is historical.

I was however, greatly inspired by historical elements. When I was first coming up with the premise and setting of the Sandsea stories, I had a day job that involved a lot of waiting at a desk. This left me free to discover a wonderful resource: Ancient.eu. I highly recommend the site for anything to do with the Ancient World (and I mean the WHOLE world, Oceania to Rome to Japan to Africa).

I spent hours reading on this website and others, as well as books and educational films, on Ancient Mesopotamian cultures—the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, Persians, Babylonians, and more. My mind was fairly blown.

The Middle East made massive contributions to the arts, sciences, and civics that are often omitted here in the West—I do not want to omit how it inspired me.

The Middle East is not called “the Cradle of Civilization” for no reason.

What do the number zero, public schools, the 60-second minute/60-minute hour, the army boot, and the first accredited author (a woman, FYI) all have in common? They were all from the Ancient and Medieval Middle East.

If Warlords of the Sandsea gets anything “historically accurate,” it is complex cultures with written laws, planned cities, flourishing arts/sciences, and organized centers of learning—not just military might.




The Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians were so successful in war because they were successful in other areas.

In Warlords of the Sandsea, I worked to communicate that the various cities have developed art and science sectors. Ilios is the most fearsome city militarily, but it has the economic, scientific (I think of the magians as scientists), and civic advantage.

It takes approximately 100 civilians to support a single full-time warrior. War was and is a universal trait of societies. There have been few and far between exceptions and in the ancient world, as it is in the Sandsea, the rule was kill or be killed.

Many Fantasy books try to eliminate “softer” professions from “warlike” cultures to brutalize them—but YOU NEED BOTH.

Every day civilian life always went on and from that side of life, I found inspiration in elements of the ancient religion. The Ilian war/fertility goddess Anakti, is based on a pre-Islamic deity, Anat. (There’s evidence that the Greek Athena and the Hindu Kali/Durga are both derivatives of Anat, but that’s for another time.)

Many of the names of characters—Talitha, Naram, Sargon—are from the region. I tried to make sure that all the names had a similar sound to create an atmosphere in the reader’s mind. The names don’t all come from a single language or period or culture, but that’s why this is Fantasy.

The Sandsea stories came to my mind as seeds from many places. The Middle East doesn’t get much credit for good things. I just want to give credit for how reading about Mesopotamia set my imagination on fire—with some unanticipated side effects.

Reading just a little about the culture and history of the Middle East did the impossible—it made me even more upset about what’s happening there today.

I don’t purport to be an expert on the Middle East or its struggles. Far from it. But you don’t need to be an expert to realize that the way the West sees the Middle East is—at the very best—not a complete picture.

If you would like to support culturally sensitive peace efforts and aid in the Middle East, please check out the Preemptive Love Coalition.

You can find the first Warlords of the Sandsea book here:

Review: Oath of Deception (Reign of Secrets, #4) by Jennifer Anne Davis @AuthorJennifer

For Savenek, there is no greater honor than protecting Emperion. While other young men his age study a trade, he attends a secret, elite military academy where he has been honed into a lethal asset for his kingdom. He can gather information without detection and kill from the shadows. Savenek’s own father is the schoolmaster, and he forces Savenek to train harder than any other student. As graduation draws near, Savenek eagerly awaits the vows inducting him into the Brotherhood of the Crown.

When a messenger arrives with news of war brewing on the horizon, the Brotherhood is called into action. Eager to prove himself, Savenek goes on his first mission alone. He doesn’t expect to uncover a treacherous plot to destroy Emperion. He doesn’t expect to join forces with someone outside the Brotherhood, let alone a woman. He certainly doesn’t expect to fail.

But then again, his father taught him nothing ever goes as planned.

Political intrigue clashes with romance in this thrilling story that continues the Reign of Secrets saga.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

My rating: 4.5/5

I fell in love with the original Reign series when the author first debuted and I’ve been a devotee of the world ever since. I adored Allyssa (and Kerdan AHHH!) and I was excited for Savenek’s book. I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint!

The worldbuilding is minimalist to avoid info-dumping. At the same time, the story introduces us not only to new layers in the known regions of the world, but new regions of the world.

The plot:

One of my favorite things about Davis’s writing is the pacing. Oath of Deception follows Savenek through the same timeline of Cage of Deceit, but in another country. There is that same quick pace seen in Davis’s other books, interspersed with humor, action, and romance. You can tell the author has researched her fight scenes and it pays off!

The characters:

Savenek is a developed character with good layers of internal conflict, recklessness, and . Some of his internal dialogue felt awkward toward the beginning for me, hence the half star deduction. But I did feel the author adjusted to writing the male POV by the end and

Ari is awesome. Ari is so cool. Ari had better come back in the next book. Interpreter, diplomat, and spy, the story mostly centered on her and Savenek working at negotiation/espionage. Their banter and oft times awkward dynamics were adorable and I genuinely hope for more in later books.

Nathanek, one of my favorite True Reign characters, comes back, but primarily at the beginning and end. I want more! We also meet an additional cast of characters including a new family of royals that is probably going to need destroying in later books (just saying).

Be aware that the author has a propensity toward cliffhangers. There was a cliffhanger here, but the next book is promised in a few months. In the meantime, I highly recommend this series of Clean Fantasy and Young Adult Adventure!

Find Oath of Deception on Goodreads

Find Oath of Deception on Amazon

Making of the Sandsea: A Princess of Mars

Every so often, I will see or read something and get an idea that demands to be written. That was the case with the film John Carter of Mars in 2012, based on the book A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The film flopped, but I loved it to bits. Though I saw the film version of Dune when I was young, the idea for the Sandsea originated here. Set in a desert planet, John Carter of Mars was based on the classic Science Fiction book by Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars.

As far as Science Fiction classics go, A Princess of Mars as a must-read.

Edgar Rice Burroughs is one of the grandfathers of Science Fiction/Fantasy. He wrote 5-7 books in the Barsoom series, exact numbers vary. I think certain titles have been changed and/or some volumes are out of print.

The John Carter series takes place on a post-apocalyptic desert version of Mars, “Barsoom.” In this dying world, warring cities, ancient tribes, and feuding gods fight for what resources remain.

Think Mad Max meets Conan.

The premise is a reversal of Superman, where an Earthman goes to another planet and in that atmosphere gains superhuman power. It incorporates time/space travel elements, the American Civil War, Dune-esque cults, and plenty of violent, savage fight scenes.

It’s a splendid book.

But Movie Dejah Thoris is better than Book Dejah Thoris.



Edgar Rice Burrough’s original Dejah Thoris is prone to melodrama, screams every few pages, and needs almost constant rescue.

Lynn Collins’ portrayal of Dejah Thoris is an intellectual, a diplomat, and a warrior who puts her people first while slicing and dicing her enemies with swords.

The film version of Dejah Thoris inspired me to write both Kasrei and Talitha.

Kasrei was seeded from the more intellectual, engineer side and Talitha grew from the character’s the political/warrior aspect.

As much as I love classic Adventure Fantasy, it doesn’t have many positive examples of feminity. I very much wanted to show that in the Sandsea.

One of the best things about writing Warlords of the Sandsea for me was writing the kind of story I wish I could have read. I’ve wanted to explore fantastic worlds with powerful women who have the romance but still didn’t need anyone to hold their own and run the world.

In the Sandsea, I have worked to write empowered women who are strong in their different ways and aren’t perfect, but still get things done and bring home victory.

I hope you love reading about them as much as I love writing about them.

Check out the first book here:

Seven Years an Author: Then and Now

June 30, 2011, the very first edition of The Key of Amatahns was officially published. I was just shy of sixteen and had been working on the manuscript since I was eleven.

As of today, I’ve been publishing and you guys have been reading my books for SEVEN years. There have been a lot of ups and downs—days I wanted to quit and days I was on top of the world—but you guys stuck around through it all.

In many ways, writing saved my life.

Not wanting to let you guys down was a big part in getting me through the doldrums of depression and PTSD.

A lot has happened since 2011. I’ve experienced massive healing and recovery in my mind and soul. I’ve graduated college. I re-released a fully revamped (new cover, new editing, new everything) edition of The Key of Amatahns in 2015, plus three more books in the series. I’ve published two other series.

I’ve moved four times, but still write at the same desk where I wrote those early drafts of TKoA. I’ve made new friends with readers, writers, and bloggers literally from around the world.

Twenty-six written and THIRTEEN PUBLISHED books later, life gets more magical every day.

This year, my goal has been to publish a book every month for the whole year and we’re on track! I hope you all have loved reading my works as much as I’ve loved putting them out there for you all.

I couldn’t have done any of this without you.



While we’re celebrating the anniversary of The Key of Amatahns, I think it’s the perfect time to announce the upcoming release schedule for the remaining books in the series!

Lucan and the Healer: A Short Story (Argetallam Saga, #4.5)*
July 31, 2018
*This one will be released early to newsletter subscribers, so be sure to sign up!

The Lord of Adasha (Argetallam Saga, #5)
August 28, 2018

The Ruin of Staspin (Argetallam Saga, #6)
September 25, 2018

The Heir of Argetallams (Argetallam Saga, #7)
October 23, 2018

I already have plans for another series based in the Argetallam world. There are also a few spinoff Warlords of the Sandsea and one more Fanged novella in the works, though no titles or release dates just yet.

Thank you to all my Beautiful People, whether you’re just discovering me or have been around since the beginning. It’s been a wild ride and I can’t wait to see where we are in another seven, ten, twenty, thirty years, and beyond.

Until next time!

Download the first Argetallam Saga book for free on all platforms.

In a world where magic is revered, what could be worse than the power to steal it?

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