My Favorite Reads of 2020

According to goodreads I read 33 books in 2020. I was expecting to read more while in the hospital, but honestly I was too busy just sleeping. But I still read a great many good books last year, so here are some of my favorites.

Of the books I read five were comics, and six were short stories. Several of them were audio books, too. The vast majority of them were also litRPG since I’m still enjoying that genre quite a lot.

Polyglot() has got to be my favorite from last year. Told from the point of view of a girl dropped into a game world who doesn’t know who she is, or how she got there. Only she isn’t a girl at all. She’s an NPC, and not any ordinary NPC either.

The style of story telling, the world building, magic system, and character development of Polyglot() just stuck with me. I listened to it via audio book, and they chose a great narrator for the book. I will probably listen to this one again sometime.

The other books worth noting came from five different series that I have been reading.

Axe Druid – A band of brothers fighting mobs and magic on another world.
The Crafters Dungeon – A dungeon that likes crafting more than fighting.
Bone Dungeon – A ridiculously funny dungeon made of bones.
CivCEO – Civilization meets litRPG
Awaken Online – A litRPG that follows a necromancer.

I finished Bone Dungeon this year (as the trilogy was completed this year.) I also read through all of Awaken Online and The Crafters Dungeon that is currently out. I’ll be finishing CivCEO in 2021. I haven’t decided if I’m going to go back to Axe Druid yet. It’s definitely a fun one, but I prefer the audio books because they are well read. The other books I read the book instead of listening.

I would recommend all of these series. The crafters Dungeon is great because it focuses on the crafting more than the fighting. Bone dungeon has a good sense of humor, and a bit of intrigue behind the scenes. CivCEO is completely unlike anything else I have read focusing more on commerce and trade than any other book so far. And both Awaken Online and Axe Druid are just really fun adventures.

I was gifted a year of Kindle Unlimited for Christmas … seriously, if you have a reader on your Christmas list that’s a FANTASTIC gift to give them. I plan on using it to whittle down that TBR list of mine. (and all my books are on KU too.)

Till then… happy reading.

The End of the Year

It’s the end of 2020. It’s been an… interesting…year. I might write a blog post about the world later, but right now I’m going to focus on my personal journey this year.

Usually for the end of year review I look at numbers, trends, and how I’ve improved year over year. However, 2020 has been an unusual year. It wasn’t the numbers that matters as much as pushing through even when the world was falling apart around me. So, I’m going to focus less on numbers, and more on just what I accomplished, and the setbacks I had.

But before I get to this year I have to go back to the end of 2019 for a minute.

At the end of 2019 I wrote a large chunk of the 4th book in my litRPG series. It is currently standing at 40k words, which I feel is about half finished. (I also had half of Vertigo, a side quest in the series, done.) This will put book four at double the length of the others in the series. When I saw that, and realized I had added a bunch of lore to the world, I decided I needed to go back and redo a lot of the first three books, and possibly combine them to make two books instead of three.

Because of that indecision about the series I decided to take the books down in December. I was going to rewrite them, and then finish the new books afterward. But I still wanted another book to finish while I was doing some updates to the old stuff. That meant December of last year wasn’t very productive as I was editing, traveling for the holidays (remember when we could do that?), and going through files and old books to decide the best course of action.

In January of this year I settled on book two of my Half Blood Sorceress series. It had a good foundation, and I already had an outline, so I got to work. Around January I also started paying way too much attention to the news as reports started rolling in. The more I saw in the news the more depressed I became and while I was still writing…it wasn’t as much as I should have been doing. I was worried about my family back in the Seattle area, and…well I’m sure a lot of us were obsessing about the news this year.

I kept working away getting another 5-10k words a month on Dragon’s Blood, while also putting in more time editing the old litRPG books, and a few other projects here and there. In May I decided I just needed something short to finish and went to /r/writingpromps for an idea. Impology came out of that. I wrote the bulk of it in May…and then…. June arrived.

Towards the end of May, and more in June, I started getting sick a lot. I thought it was allergies at first. I popped some allergy pills, turned on the air purifier, and still kept plugging away at the writing and editing. But during June I got sicker and sicker, sometimes sleeping an entire day. I was hungry but I couldn’t eat. My stomach was swelling. And we were getting worried.

June 30th, from my journal: I don’t feel good. My body is betraying me. Stomach swelling, unable to eat. So hungry. Hard to move or sleep. What is it? Dr Appointment tomorrow.

The doctor took an ultrasound and said “you need to go to a specialist” but didn’t tell me what it was. For June and July I was so concerned with my health. I looked like I was 8 months pregnant suddenly, so much so that people were starting to comment on it when we went shopping. I could barely eat because whatever was swelling my abdomen was putting pressure on my stomach. I had no energy because I was getting less than 1000 calories a day. So sick… I slept a lot during June just trying to function.

Even so….in June I managed to put down another 7000 words for the new Dragon’s Blood. I would lay in bed with a laptop, or my phone, and pluck just a few words at a time between sleeping.

In July we made the decision to go back to Seattle for medical care…and I’m so grateful we did. Grateful that we had family to stay with, medical insurance to pay for it, and the ability to drive there even during a pandemic. What started as me just thinking I was tired because of bad allergies, and swelling because of the food I ate….it ended up being a tumor. A very large tumor that had to be removed ASAP.

The second week of July was spent in a hotel waiting for covid tests, cancer screening, scans, and blood work. And during that time I slept…a lot. But I also managed to finish the last few paragraphs of Impology, and I had a rough draft.

On July 19th I sat in a hotel waiting for my surgery the next day and I decided I had to finish the edits for Impology and get it published before I went in. I would get up and write a few words at a time, then lay down when I got too dizzy. Then try again. It took the rest of the night but I managed to push send on KDP.

The next day Gregg dropped me off at the hospital. He wasn’t allowed to go in with me, or sit in the waiting room. He had to go back to the hotel and pack up, waiting for the doctor to call and tell him if I made it okay… and if the tumor had spread. (Thankfully it didn’t.)

I was in the waiting room trying to sit in a chair and slowly becoming more and more distressed….the tumor was 17 inches, and pressing right on my veins so sitting up for more then a few minutes made me faint. I finally got them to get me a bed. One of the nurses came back to take my vitals and when she saw me she smiled and said “Oh are you in for delivery?” She paled when I said “no, it’s a tumor.” At least I could giggle and tell her it was okay, Lumpy was being evicted, and I was all good.

The surgery went spendedly, and I woke up 25 lbs lighter. Between the tumor, and not being able to eat for a month or two, I lost 50 lbs this last summer. So there’s that.

The rest of July was all about recovery, sleeping a LOT, and just getting back on my feet. I was in the hospital for almost a week and finally able to have more than a pudding for lunch. It was amazing!

We stayed in Seattle until Aug 15th. But an amazing thing happened at the beginning of August, though. I was able to stay awake more. I could concentrate. I was in pain, because I had surgery, but I could still function. That month, even while recuperating, I did another 10k words, the bulk of it in Dragon’s Blood. And I FINISHED the first draft! I was so thrilled!

We drove back to Texas in the middle of Aug. That was an interesting drive. A lot easier than I thought it would be. I slept a lot less than I did on the way north, and we managed to stop and see my daughter in northern CA. It was, in general, a much happier trip. Gregg and I were able to just spend time, laughing and singing, and enjoying the drive this time.

The end of August and the month of September I got through the edits for Dragon’s Blood… except for the major fight scene at the end. Now…Because fight scenes do not come naturally to me they take me a while to write. I have to plan them out, then write them a bit at a time. I will often avoid them because I do not enjoy them as much as I do the rest of the story. And when I got to the edits for this scene I realized how bad the first draft was, and how much rewriting it needed. Ug.

So October I avoided writing.

Back in the hotel while waiting for surgery I started watching a lot of devlogs from indie game designers. I also tried learning a bit of code in-between writing. It was a nice break from the rest of what was happening to me. So in October when I needed a bit of a break I decided to actually try to make a game and made my first one… then…..I joined Ludum Dare.

Ludum Dare is one of the biggest game jams out there, so I decided if I was going to make a game why not make it for Ludum Dare and be courageous. It was so much fun! I dove in both feet first and finished my second game in a weekend. It was a lot of fun, and those who played it seemed to enjoy just driving the ball as fast as possible down the pathway. They also said I made a really pretty game.

That encouraged me to make another… and another. By the end of October I had done three game jams, and four games. But that also meant I didn’t write much.

November I did a lot of art for a different game, and some writing, but I really just focused on re-centering myself. I had been through a lot in 2020 and I never allowed myself to just… take it all in. So I did so then.

That brings us to December. I decided I needed to get Dragon’s Blood out no matter what, so I put my nose to the grindstone and got it out on the 18th of this month!

Since then I’ve been looking at the books I have ready to be finished to decide which one to complete:
Half Blood Sorceress 3
LitRPG 4
Vertigo (litRPG sidequest)
Eternal Tapestry Prequell

I am about 40k words into each work, and all of them are worth publishing. I think for 2021 my goal is to publish all four of them. Now to get started on that…

I’m glad 2020 is over, even if the end of a year does not solve the problems it does encourage us to try again. To make the next year better. Here’s to that.

After ask of this year I think I’ve learned that family is very important to me, and that life isn’t infinite. We could die any day from some random thing. Hiding away in your house isn’t going to save you if it’s your time.

But everyone had to do what’s right for them.

Fire meets Ice

It’s here! Dragon’s Blood is now available, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. I did add it to Kindle Unlimited so you can read it through KU if you prefer. 

If you have read Dragon’s Flame please review it on google. Reviews are the best way to help any authors you love. Telling amazon you loved a book is the only way amazon will decide to promote a book.

Prophecy By Barlight : A comedic look at self fulfilling prophecies. 
The Scarab Necklace : A tales of the crypt style short story.
Twilight Tales : Four creepy short stories. 

And until then… Keep reading

Need a good read? I gottcha covered!

Free this weekend.
The Camera – A tales from the crypt style story about a cursed item.
Flight of the Griffins –  A  peaceful people may have to rise up to save their home.
Ghostly Intentions – A fantasy haunted house story. 

Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy.

Also, Dragon’s Blood is available for pre-order.

A tale steeped in winters ice, and dragons fire. 

If you haven’t read Dragon’s Flame it is only 99 cents, and also in KU. If you have read it I would really appreciate a review. Reviews are the life blood of the indie creator.

Dragon’s Blood available for pre-order!

The winter is coldest before the dawn.
Sybel made it across the mountains, and the sea, to the city of mages. Kemore, her best hope at getting answers about her past.
But things are never as easy as she hopes. There are enemies inside the walls, and all eyes are on her.

Daragon’s Blood is finally available for pre-order!
This has been a year long adventure. I had an outline of book two back in January and I thought it would be a quick three month jaunt to get it done, and out to the world.
Then 2020 happened. So many things outside my control, including getting sick and needing major surgery, then months of recovery.
But I finally pushed through and got it finished.
Book 1 is available for 99 cents, so if you haven’t read it now is a great time to do so. Book two is available for pre-order and will be automatically shipped to your device on the 18th!

To the stars and back again.

Today is the day! I’m finishing the last edits on Dragon’s Blood, which means it will be out next weekend. 

This has been a long journey, and there is so much revealed in this new book. I can’t wait to get it into your hands!

Meanwhile, here are three more books for you to read this weekend.https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B087JLL71G

Stars End: A futuristic look of life… and end death.
The Ring: The second book in the Illicit Gains series, in a Tales from the Crypt style.
The Costume Shop: A happier tale of magic and mayhem on a Halloween night. (Yes, Halloween was a couple months ago, but hopefully you enjoy it.)

Also, if you read Impology last week I would love it if you would leave the first review.

Thank you so much!

Hard at work!

October is usually Inktober, which I really enjoy participating in. However, this year I got side tracked by a new thing. Game design!
Over the course of October I designed, and published four games. Three are free, as they are prototype style games that do not feel complete, though they can be fun. The fourth one, Pumpkin Blitz, is a complete platformer with ten levels to get through, just in time for the holidays. It was set to $2, but is currently on sale for $1.

https://lelula.itch.io/ for all of the games.

Getting Old and Music

A few weeks ago everyone was talking about WAP by Cardi B. I read the lyrics, even listened to the beginning of it and…was really uncomfortable with it all.

But I have to be honest with myself. Back when I was 15 or 16 I listened to 2 Live Crew… if you haven’t heard 2 Live Crew they were the over sensational band that sang about sex in really blatant lyrics that were graphic. The one that actually made it onto the radio for a while was “Me So Horny” but it was heavily censored to get to the radio. I had the album. That song, even with the graphic lyrics, was the cleanest one on the album.

I think that’s what happens with things like this Cardi B song, though. The ones flocking to it are mid teens to 20’s. Older adults listen to it and get a little shocked because we grew up, we realized what is actually in those lyrics, and it doesn’t sound as good as it did when we were younger.

But our younger self? Bring on the sexy lyrics. Ludicrous singing about his fantasies, the Thong Song, and Missy Elliot with Work It. We listened, danced, and sang along. Even Madonna who was on every radio, every music video station, and many movies, had those songs and videos that caused scandal after scandal. She wasn’t just the queen of pop, she was a sex goddess, and we loved her for it.

I think a large part of it is that I look at a lot of the girls doing these music videos these days and I realize they are the same age as my daughters. I look at them and I think of my girls and I realize it just isn’t the same…

Music videos have gotten more graphic in some ways. “What’s Your Fantasy” had very tantalizing lyrics but the actual video is pretty tame. I was surprised when I saw it. WAP, or even Belle Delphine’s new music is more of a visual stimulant than an auditory one. I actually like Dell Delphine’s new music, but the videos make me uncomfortable so I don’t want like watching the videos.

Objectively WAP is a very average song. It lines up with a lot of other songs out there, and doesn’t do anything new. The music video leverages shock and awe with light fixtures and furniture that look like body parts, and everyone is scantily clad, but it still hasn’t gone too far beyond what every other music video does. I would even say it’s less interesting because she goes to such great lengths to use nudity. It’s like the difference between burlesque and a full frontal. The strip and the tease is what makes it tantalizing. When you’re just standing there naked it is less interesting than the tease.

But nuance is lost on a lot of people these days. They are more likely to bash you in the face with their beliefs then to try and work through them in a subtle way. I think WAP is like that. Young women who have nice bodies and use them to get eyeballs on their product, sell music, or art, or a twitch stream… Use what you’ve got, right?

I guess I don’t like the song, it isn’t to my taste, but it isn’t going to start the next generation down dark paths anymore than D&D made young geeks into Satan worshipers. So there’s that.

A journey to the stars…

September is almost over. I’m back in Texas and I’m already hoping for winter, and miss the rainy days in Seattle.

But I’m healing. We just drove another 3000 miles south from Seattle, down through LA, and over to Texas. It took four days this time because I wanted to see my daughter who lives in CA. Worth the extra time.

Also, I’ve finished the rough draft of Dragon’s Blood. I’m working on edits, but I should have it out next month. Now is a great time to read Dragon’s Flame if you haven’t yet. 

If you’re looking for a shorter read I have two books free this weekend. An anthology, and a short story. 

 
Stars End : Four short stories about life, and death, in the future. 
The Camera : A tales from the crypt style short story.

I can’t wait to get Dragon’s Blood out there. It feels like it’s been a long road to the end, but it’s more about the journey than the writing, I think. This year has been filled with crazy things, for all of us. The world has changed, and only time will tell if it’s for the better or not. And because of a lot of these changes (some personal, a lot global) things got slowed down a bit. 

 

Slowing down isn’t always a bad thing. Taking your time to enjoy the smell of the roses, or really savor that meal, or enjoy spending time with the ones you love…all of it is important so that life means more than pushing buttons. I hope that part of all the craziness moves forward with us. 

Until then, keep on reading!