Archive | June, 2014

How about I just stop here?

23 Jun

The House in the Old Wood coverLook, I’m having some trouble wrapping this series up. Anyone mind if I just stop here, at four books?

It’s been a pretty good series, right? And I’ve heard from a number of folks that they really like Book 4, The Dwarf’s Legacy. So maybe I should stop while I’m ahead.

No? You wouldn’t like that?

OK, so seriously, there’s no way I’d ever do that to you. At the same time, I’m struggling with two specific plot points that need to be wrapped up in the fifth and final book, The White-Silver House. And wrapped up well. I really don’t want to give you a contrived, forced or unsatisfying ending.

There are two authors whose work I will never read again because of their lousy endings. Both create these endlessly complex plots that leave readers wondering how they’re going to wrap it all up.

One resolves every single stinking story with a huge battle where the hero and his friends come out unscathed, but all the bad guys die.

The other is even worse. It was a dream, or an alternate reality, and look, now everything is fine!


So I will keep working to find a good, convincing way to wrap up not only the main story, but these two niggling little plot points.

Oh, and by the way … I hate it when I’m reading a book and I can see an ending coming from Tuscaloosa. So maybe you think you know how this series is going to end. After all, I’ve been foreshadowing the ending since Book 1, The House in the Old Wood.

But the story has already taken a number of twists and turns, right? And perhaps you’ve missed some of the foreshadowing. Or you’re taking something for foreshadowing, when it isn’t.


I have to finish this series, if only to see the look on your face.

So please tell your friends they can enjoy the journey too, and the ending will not disappoint.

Here’s where they can start: The House in the Old Wood.

Music to write by

20 Jun

The House in the Old Wood coverOne musical group has been playing in the background more than any other as I have written the series, The Day Magic Died.

As I began writing The House in the Old Wood, I would often put on music by Cantiga, usually their album Martha’s Dragon. It seemed like the perfect background music as I created Karia’s world; in fact, I came to almost see it as her soundtrack, and frequently played it throughout the creation of the series.

You can find out more about Cantiga at their website:

The other artist whose music was frequently playing as I wrote the series is harpist Sarah Marie Mullen. Though there is no particular album or song I associated with any of the characters, it helped set the scene and create the mood for me. I could imagine much of what she plays on the harp being played on Tika’s jiriliyika.

Sarah Marie Mullen has a website as well:

I have also discovered something interesting. I usually like it quiet when I read. But when I am reading my books (yes, I read my own books – how else do you think I can keep this story straight?), I like to listen to Cantiga and Sarah Marie Mullen.

Are there particular artists you like to listen to – or perhaps better, to have on in the background – while you read?

Dad always said …

13 Jun

The House in the Old Wood coverDid your dad have favorite sayings? Things you heard all the time?

Or were there things that he may have said only once, that you really remembered because they were so pithy, or meant so much to you?

Karia – whose story is told in the series, The Day Magic Died – seems to remember one sentence that her dad said more than any other. It’s because she needs to keep reminding herself of it.

You see, Visili is a deceiver. He’s not just a liar. He’s a conniver. A self-serving illusionist and manipulator. And he’s really good at it. So that’s why she keeps reminding herself of the words of her dad:

“This kind always lies.”

It’s not the most profound thing Reva ever said to her. That distinction probably goes to his response when she declared that it wasn’t right that she had to work in the mud while the boys got to go to town:

“Right and wrong have nothing to do with what you want or what you feel, Tsil.”

Sometimes dads say things that remind of what we should have done, like when Karia remembers her dad saying,

“You and me, Karia, we do things the right way.”

And at other times, dads say things that make us stop and think. That’s what happened when Reva said,

“Karia, I figure if other people can forgive all the mistakes I’ve made, I can forgive one or two by them.”

These are the things that guide Karia as she takes on a huge challenge. I hope you’ll come along with us and enjoy the journey.

The House in the Old Wood is available in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon.

Your dad is not stupid

11 Jun
My mom and dad

My mom and dad in New York in 1946, after their return from India

I seriously doubt that your dad is or was stupid. My dad sure wasn’t. And three out of my four children don’t think I’m stupid. (Now they’re all thinking, “Which one of us thinks he’s stupid?” What fun!)

So with Father’s Day approaching, that got me wondering: Why are insipid, or absent, or malevolent dads a staple of young adult literature?

Look, I’m not claiming to be a perfect dad. My dad wasn’t perfect either. But stupid? No. Not clueless, either. Or missing. And certainly not evil. (Unless you consider it evil to make your kids wonder which of them thinks you’re stupid.)

I’d say the same thing about most of the dads I know.

So instead of embracing the cliché – instead of taking the easy way out – I tried to write a story in which the main character’s dad is more true-to-life. I wanted to model a healthy relationship as I wrote about Karia and her dad, Reva, in The House in the Old Wood. And I think I did it without coming across as preachy or moralizing.

This Father’s Day, if you’re looking for a book that has a little respect for dads, please take a look at The House in the Old Wood. I thank you, and I think your dad will thank you too.

The House in the Old Wood, the first of five books that tell the story of The Day Magic Died, is available from Amazon.

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