Play the Hand You’re Dealt
Available now on Kindle and in print, Play the Hand You’re Dealt is my 17-story crime and mystery collection. I find it fitting on the 10th anniversary of my taking writing seriously that I gathered a dozen published and five as-yet-unseen stories into a collection for sale.
There’s a bit of everything in this collection. A robbery with a ghostly element. Small town people dealing with life’s twists and turns. Two young children chop down a Christmas tree and must foil some mischievous pixies to get back home. High school reunion, but an old foe seems to have the upper hand on almost everyone. An old soldier tries to keep his ‘Nam buddies out of trouble—again! A beat cop risks her life to save another.
While writing short stories and painting sometimes detour my long works, they’re very satisfying. They also stimulate my creativity, which aides my novel-writing.
What else am I working on?
Mother’s Mountain: The Undoing
This suspense fantasy novel has medieval undertones. The language and customs of medieval Europe should be familiar to some. However, as I often sometimes remind critiquers and beta readers, the medieval period lasted almost 1,000 years. What readers often consider medieval, from movies and books written largely about the Arthurian period, was a tiny fragment of that. Their images of knights riding fully armored through the woods clamoring for honor, and challenge fights with lances and sword, are the stuff of Hollywood and represent a very brief period.
This is a different world, different plant, where magic had been banned but appears to be snaking its way back into the small realm of Korn. As the magic returns, so does people’s memory of it. Our hero Kalen has a gift, most likely magical, that would have her banished if revealed to the ruler Lord Pentar. She accepts Pentar’s assignment to bring a sorceress back to the realm to end a devastating series of storms and heal his dying son, both of which appear to be connected. The hardships of her journey, and contradictory statements from Pentar about the sorceress, challenge her commitment.
Kalen’s ten-day assignment turns into a much longer horseback trip with rain, sleet, and snow hampering her travel. Alone on her horse, she falls ill from exposure and sleeping on the ground in such weather. Her oath to serve Korn seems to conflict with her oath to Pentar. She considers abandoning this quest and, for the first time in her service as a Korn soldier, failing. Her journey becomes one of self-discovery and, for Korn, potential healing.
Book 1 in this trilogy sees the Kingdom of Carthas in crisis. King Rafael has been killed and Lady Mirana becomes Regent for Rafael’s young son Liam. Her lady-in-waiting Sylvie is a foster of Garan, captain of the king’s guard. Known only to Garan and the now-dead Rafael, Sylvie was placed in that role to observe and learn how to rule. She has her own kingdom to return to one day, when she is ready to battle the usurper who killed her parents and thrust her into hiding.
As Garan and his soldiers search for Rafael’s murderer, Mirana slowly becomes debilitated by an unknown force. As unrest and hostility within the kingdom increase and appear to spread to other kingdoms, Garan sends Rafael’s son Liam to a distant land for training as well as to hide him until he is battle-ready to take his place as Carthas’ ruler. Sylvie’s role is exposed, and she leaves Mirana’s service to train as a soldier under Garan.
Despite suspicion and mistrust, the Four Kingdoms must work together to fight an unseen foe and re-learn how to trust each other. Book 1 ends with the revelation of a deeper problem in this world that extends beyond the Four Kingdoms.
Book 2 is Sylvie’s fight to regain her throne. She secretly returns to her land across the sea and travels across half the kingdom, while evading those searching to kill her, and builds a resistance movement to aid in her final battle.
This book includes a race of healers, first introduced in Book 1, who separated centuries ago and lost touch. The physical differences that evolved, and their radically different philosophy on the use of their connection to the planet’s core, lead to neither trusting the other. As they each struggle to be the dominant power, their symbiotic relationship with the planet creates chaos. Their strife affects all the kingdoms and realms on the planet.
Book 3 is the struggle to rejoin the two healer races. They must learn from their new friends in the Four Kingdoms how to forgive each other for past harms so they can heal the planet.
I also started some myths, legends, and fables during NaNoWriMo 2022 that I want to finish. Some of them connect to my two current works in progress, and one was published and is in my collection. I continue to write and submit short stories, have a completed traditional mystery awaiting a final round of revisions, and it’s sequel or prequel started (still deciding which that will be). Certainly there’s enough here to keep me busy!