Print Edition Out!

Actually, it’s been out a couple of weeks, but I’ve held off announcing it in case something unfortunate cropped up. So far, so good. Now just wait, the two copies I ordered for myself, that have taken two weeks to get here, will arrive and horrify me.

So, what else has been happening? Well, quite a lot in the world of tabletop gaming. WoTC pulled a boner by trying to revoke the Open Gaming License companies have been using for the last 20+ years. They got hit with more bad press than you can shake a spiny at, and eventually backed off after a ton of folks unsubscribed from D&D Beyond. In addition, the move spurred other influential gaming companies to create their own open license agreement (Paizo) and/or announce they’re coming out with their own game system (Kobold Press). It’s my understanding that Hasbro/WoTC’s misstep rocketed sales of their rivals. I know I became nostalgic for Hero System and ordered their Sixth Edition Fantasy Hero book. I put some of their other books on my wish list. It’s actually a bit silly for me to purchase Hero products since it’s highly unlikely I’ll get anyone to give it a go. Even the people who turned me onto it in the first place have moved on to Savage Worlds because of its easier rules.

Then there’s the big AI debate. As someone who used to do book covers for people, I can understand the fear of losing work because people can crank out covers left and right by typing in some descriptive wording. Things like ChatGPT are also giving writers shivers of horror. I write ad copy on the side for a small company, and there’s already been excitement from our clients that they can ditch us and create their own blurbs. I plugged one of my own book blurbs into ChatGPT and was not thrilled with the results, but that doesn’t mean someone who doesn’t understand what makes compelling ad copy won’t think it’s fantastic.

Now, I did give it a prompt involving a story I’m working on. It involves the twins, Jaki, Gus, and Rocks.

Here is the prompt:

Tell me a story about four friends who go into a haunted fae forest to hunt for truffles. They make a deal with a lonely ghost chef and trade their pig to him as a pet in exchange for magical truffles.

And here is one of the results (I tried the same prompt three times and got a different result each time):

Once upon a time, there were four friends named Mark, Rachel, Sarah, and John who lived in a small village near a mysterious fae forest. The forest was known for its rare and delicious truffles, but it was also said to be haunted by the ghost of a former chef who roamed its woods.
One day, the friends heard about the magical truffles and decided to go into the forest to hunt for them. They were determined to find the truffles and bring them back to the village to sell them at a high price.

As they entered the forest, they encountered the ghost of the chef who appeared before them. He was a lonely spirit who had been searching for someone to share his love of cooking with. The friends were scared, but the ghost proposed a deal. If they gave him their pig as a pet, he would help them find the magical truffles and show them the secrets of the forest.

The friends agreed and traded their pig for the ghost’s help. To their surprise, the ghost was a fantastic cook and showed them how to find the truffles. He also taught them how to prepare the truffles in different dishes.

The friends were amazed at the deliciousness of the truffles and thanked the ghost for his help. As they were about to leave the forest, the ghost gave them a warning. He told them that the forest was protected by the fae and that they should not take too many truffles or they would anger the fae.

The friends followed the ghost’s advice and only took a few truffles with them. When they returned to the village, they sold the truffles for a high price and everyone was amazed at the deliciousness of the truffles. The friends had become known as the Truffle Hunters and were admired for their bravery and wisdom.

The ghost of the chef was happy to have made new friends and was no longer lonely. He was content with his new pet pig and continued to roam the fae forest, sharing his love of cooking with all who entered.

And that is the story of the four friends who went into a haunted fae forest to hunt for truffles and made a deal with a lonely ghost of a chef.


Yeah, it’s clunky and the AI is more than happy to use the same bloody words over and over again, but considering it cranked this out in less than a minute, it’s pretty cool. I definitely have mixed feelings about the entire thing. I’ve always loved techie stuff and dreaming about what’s possible. But I’m also leery about people losing their livelihoods and/or having their intellectual property, if not outright stolen, compromised. All of this is heading to the courts now, so it will be interesting to see how it all falls out.

In the meantime, here are some drone images I rendered in MidJourney as I was thinking about the brownie-operated killing machine in “Neon Ashes”. It’s supposed to be black with red lasers, but the crab look is intriguing.

And if you’d like to read about the “real” thing, you can pick up your copy of “Neon Ashes” at the ‘Zon. And a shot at the cover with the less stylized drone I used via 3D rendering.


Ebook is Live!

So far, 2023 is proving fruitful. I hit publish for “Neon Ashes” yesterday and it is appearing on Amazon now. For now, it’s just the book. I’m waiting on a writer’s proof of the paperback before I commit to releasing it into the wild. You can pick it up here:

For those of you who are also writers, this is the first book I’ve published using Atticus for building both the ebook and the print version. It’s pretty inexpensive and works on both Mac and Windows. It is an author-centric app, so it allows you to easily add in front and back matter. They have an easy way for you to generate QR codes and add them to the book. On YouTube you’ll find quite a few short videos that explain how to do everything from the basics to working with images. Currently, there are a few limitations. For instance, you cannot import fonts. They have concerns over being held responsible for people using unlicensed fonts in their software. They do still have a decent assortment of letter types to choose from, but we creatives always have our favorites and it can be frustrating to be limited. I ran into one issue when trying to use a full-page image for the start of each chapter. For some reason Amazon tagged two of the chapters as going beyond the allowed area. Just two chapters! Odds are it was fixable, especially if I’d reached out to the folks at Atticus. They’re very responsive to customer questions. I chose to simply remove the image and leave such investigations for another day.

The good folks at Kindlepeneur are behind the app. You can watch an intro video about its features at this link.

That’s about it for now. I will post again when the print version goes live. Enjoy, and if you read “Neon Ashes” please consider leaving a review to help this fledgling book get off to a good start.


How Time Flies…

Why, yes, it has been over two years since I posted. I swear I have the best of intentions… Sigh.

What have I been up to? Well, I released a novella in a new series that is intended to spotlight a variety of characters from the Chronicles of Shadow. They aren’t intended to be EPIC, but more short vignettes that flesh out some of the rest of the cast. It also gives me a chance to play with timelines. For example, this book that came out in, ahem, October 2020 (Proving Grounds) takes place ten years after the events of the original series. Aside from possessing a bit more combat skill, the twins aren’t all the different, however they are now joined by a much more mature Jaki. Having spent a good deal of time with the Wood Elves, the now seventeen-year-old has developed some archery skills. She’s grown even more practical, though she greedily maintains some childlike joy in just having fun. The three are joined by two new characters, a young gnome named Box of Rocks and a gruff but big-hearted half-orc named Gus. His dad runs the Rat-on-a-Stick eatery—not to be missed.

At any rate, it’s been out for AGES now, so pop over to Amazon and read it.

I also updated all of my covers. The website doesn’t currently reflect that. Something else I need to attend to. I blame the virus that must not be named. (Hah! I got them updated later this same evening. I’m on a roll.)

And… drumroll please, I’m soon to release the second novella in the same series I just rambled on about in that big chunky paragraph above. I’m hoping for this upcoming week, perhaps the next. I’m futzing with the cover (the unlettered version you can see at the top of this post). I’m normally better about planning my layout when I do a book cover than I managed this time around. You’re supposed to leave basically empty blocks in the overall image where the title and author name can go. I left a ton of space at the top and nothing at the bottom. Go me. So, I’m in the midst of trying to fix that without having to start over from scratch. There’s a ton of postwork in the image and the idea of trying to replicate it gives me hives.

So, the new story is called Neon Ashes. In case it isn’t obvious, it’s about Foxfire and his life before he arrived on Allasea. There’re killer drones. A basketball-player girlfriend. Family angst. Oh, and a crazed cyber killer. I won’t say who. You’ll have to wait for the official release.

My big resolution for the year isn’t about losing weight (though it should be). It’s that I maintain this darn web site and keep folks informed about what’s going on with my writing, my art, and whatever other random thing I think people might find amusing. I may even manage to get a mailing list going. I’ve been promising (threatening?) to do so since before I went AWOL. Fingers crossed; I get it done this time. If I do, you’ll know because of the obnoxious sign-up box that pops up asking for your email address. I’ll try to come up with something worthwhile as a “lure” to get you to turn over your info. I’d thought about doing D&d character sheets for my story cast. 5th Edition doesn’t have psions. Ugh. Fantasy Hero will allow me to build pretty much anything I want, but I’m not sure anyone out there plays Fantasy Hero. Or perhaps an older iteration of D&D. Where are my books… But as an alternative, I’ve also considered making some exclusive artwork available to download as desktop backgrounds.

But first things first. I need to get this new book out, and then we’ll see.

Oh, and I have two other bits of writing in the works. The third novella in this series, tentatively titled Truffles. The other project is a full-blown novel that involves a rescue mission into the Down Below, a desperate mother trying to save her child, and a protection assignment to keep a certain dragon’s human mouthpiece from getting assassinated. I’m only about ten-thousand words into that one, so it will be a long while before it sees the virtual bookshelves. But the other, I hope to finish up within the next few months. I hope. So many distractions.

All right, everyone, here’s to a 2023 that doesn’t suck. I wish you all the best, and I’ll see you soon. Cheers!

Released to the Wild

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

It’s been a long and trying road but both the ebook and the print version of Exile’s Vengeance are live. It took a long time to get Amazon to link it up with the rest of the series, but after about two weeks of polite nagging, all of the books are displayed as a single series. Hurrah! If you are so inclined, jump on over and pick it up. Get it for yourself, foist it upon your loved ones and recent acquaintances. Make a complete stranger confused but hopefully pleased at receiving a lovely new book. And should you read the book, I’d be ever so grateful if you’d pop back over to Amazon and leave a review. In fact, any and all of the books in the series would love to have people bestow comments upon them. Books have feelings too.

Thank you for all of your patience. I worked diligently on this puppy but as usual it ended up taking longer than I anticipated.

Once again, if you wish to pop over and pick it up, you can do so here: Buy at Amazon

eBook is Imminent!

I just finished uploading my manuscript to Amazon. The ebook version, that is. The print version still needs to be formatted, but that won’t happen for at least a week, maybe two. We’ll see how much I have on my plate. Right now, I’m just basking in the sense of accomplishment for getting this far. Time to crack open a Diet Dr. Pepper!

Though the book has been uploaded, it doesn’t appear on the store shelves for some time still. It goes through some sort of quality check with Amazon before they release it into the wild. It can take anywhere from twelve to seventy-two hours. I’d say on average they hit the twenty-four hour mark.

I’ll post a link to the ebook once it actually shows up at Amazon. And I’ll let you know when to expect the print version. In the meantime, here is the cover. It’s purple!

July? Maybe? I hope!

AllaSea West Coast June 2020 Color 1

It’s been a long time coming, but Book IV, Exile’s Vengeance, is nearly ready for prime time. I finished the rough in May and went through and did a self edit, making changes, moving scenes and adding another fight scene. Then I foisted it on the patient person who serves as my editor. She has it now and just sent me Chapter 31 today (there are 37 chapters).

While she’s been working on making my writing less full of “that”, “was”, “were”, “to be”, pointing out missing words, echos, logic errors, etc., I have been working on the cover, and the interior map (yes, it changed again). The ebook version of the cover is ready to go, but I’ll keep it under wraps for a few more weeks. The image above is the result of my new attempt at making maps using Kartana. In its current state, it is suitable for the first book. It does not reflect the changes which have affected the landscape since the events of books II and III.

What else? Well, every book needs an ad blurb to stick on the sale page with Amazon. That’s what I’m working on now. It’s a completely different set of skills from writing a novel. I’m learning from one of the best in the industry, but I still have a long way to go in my journey. I’m posting my current draft of the blurb here. What I need from you kind souls is some feedback about what works and what doesn’t. I have some alternative phrases/words pasted in throughout the blurb. If you think one of those works better than what I have, let me know. If you have any ideas of alternative phrasing or come up with some hard-hitting words, don’t be shy.

Without further ado, here is the blurb:

Death looms from every direction (or… “Death stalks the elves”?). As the body count rises, two heroes must risk all to save their people from extinction. Can they stem the bloodshed, or will a confluence of ancient curses, pitiless slavers, and the walking dead consume their lives?

Raven has done her best to break free from her past. But when two dark mages unleash a wave of fire and undead, she has no choice but to turn to (or “contact”?) the father she barely knows. Will her search gain her a powerful ally, or will he prove worse than the villains she hunts?

W’rath pursues Historian (a lead/his prey/his quarry) into the Badlands, only to discover his allies murdered. Now he must choose between duty and saving the survivors from slavers. But when the local dragon swoops in stalking the slavers as well, will W’rath get caught in the crossfire?

As Raven and W’rath race to save their people, their foes close in keen for (or… “seeking”?) their blood…

Exile’s Vengeance is the fourth book in Lee Dunning’s Chronicles of Shadow epic fantasy series. If you enjoy sword and sorcery with a side of snark, you’ll love Exile’s Vengeance.

Don’t miss the epic conclusion—buy Exile’s Vengeance today.

Long Overdue Update

Hey folks! It’s beautiful up here in Oregon today. Hard to believe we had snow last week and today it’s over 60 degrees. The squirrels and the jays are super happy and the neighborhood semi-feral cat is soaking up the sun on my back deck.

Book IV is coming along. I’m on the very last few chapters of the book. Of course, they are the hardest. I have to keep them exciting and fast-paced yet make sure I don’t lose track of the many threads I’ve juggled throughout the rest of the book. This is the final volume in this series, so I also have to make sure all of the plot lines get resolved. Then comes the fun part—the first round of editing. I think I’ve mentioned I’m one of those sick folks who enjoy editing. It gives me a chance to tidy things up and clear up all of the stupid mistakes I made during the many months of writing. Though I work with a basic outline, a lot of things spring to mind during the story’s development. I get these “great” ideas that I then simply must add in and that will sometimes cause something I’ve written earlier to fall apart.

With luck, I can pester my editor to start reading through my many pages by the end of April. Then I’ll edit it again based on her suggestions. Then I’ll send it out in its revised condition to someone who foolishly volunteered (thank you, A.) to go through it, followed by a few beta readers once I fix what she finds. I hope and pray that between all of these eyes they will catch the many words I’ve undoubtedly left out of my sentences. I’ve heard of skim readers but not skim writers. Sheesh.

I hope my little update here finds you and your loved ones safe and happy.


Photo by Arnold Dogelis on Unsplash


Fantasy as Literature?

Sir Terry Pratchett is deeply missed. He left words of wisdom for us, though. Please enjoy.

Mad Genius Club

I’ve had a long rough day putting in fiberglass insulation, some of which involved slithering on my back over ceiling joists, where it is too tight to fit any other way, and pulling the stuff over my body to get it flush with the frames. Second day of this process, so I am glad to say it is done. I have a little more in the middle to do, but I can kneel or crouch for that… a big improvement. Everything is relative, including relatives. Tomorrow will see that job done forever (until I build something else that needs rock-wool).

So I am cheating and quoting from an interview with one of my favorite authors, Sir Terry Pratchett.

The entire interview is transcribed here, and my thanks go to Patrick Rothfuss for doing this and putting it on his site.

O: You’re quite a writer. You’ve a gift for…

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Breaking Linear

Every writer approaches their stories differently, and not always the same from book to book. I know my methods have evolved (or devolved?) over the course of the Exile series. Which, by the way, is going along swimmingly. The end is actually in sight and the words are flowing at a rate of 2,000 – 3,000 words a day (I write three days a week). I’m thinking the first draft will be done by the end of March. Fingers crossed.

Mad Genius Club

When people ask “Are you a pantser or a plotter”, they often speak of pantsing as though it was a very linear thing – that you start with a beginning and write through to the end, accreting story and meandering around until you somehow end up with a plot in retrospect.

This is not the only way to pants. In fact, following a plot from beginning to end isn’t the only way to do it, either. As Kipling wrote, “There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays, and every single one is right!” (In the Neolithic Age)

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The Year is OVER?!


Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

The image above has absolutely nothing to do with the new year or my general inability to stay focused and get things done. I just thought it was cute. And it’s not like the internet can ever have enough cat pictures.

November came. November went. Lee pulled out her hair in frustration over not managing to get anywhere near her NanoWriMo goal. That isn’t to say progress was not made. No, I wrote about 20,000 words. That’s something, just not the something I aimed for. I did get a few particularly difficult scenes written. They were scenes which could have fallen into the area of overly sappy. I don’t care for that sort of thing. I had to rewrite one of the scenes four times. I don’t demand perfection in a rough draft, but I do wish to avoid leaving something for the editing process which is so cringe worthy that its very existence causes me to lose sleep. I always have this fear that if left to lurk, the vileness of the scene will spread, corrupting everything around it.

I know, irrational. So is my fear of flying or of allowing other people to drive. At this point, I don’t think that’s going to change.

I managed to get a tree up this year. Even decorated it. Wrapped some presents. Worried about the ability to pay for said presents. Vowed to spend much much less in 2020. I believe that will be my main resolution for the new year. My health insurance premium is almost tripling in cost come January, so cutting back on spending is absolutely imperative. I cancelled my KU subscription. I figure if I really want to borrow a book, I can use my father’s account for that. I just set up the last payment for the mattress I bought him two years ago, so that monthly bill will be gone as well. After we finish watching the latest season of The Crown and Lost in Space, I may cancel my Netflix subscription. Between the three, that’s fifty dollars a month savings. I’m on a roll.

My other resolution will be to get this fourth book finished, edited, formatted and out the door to take its place alongside the other three on Amazon’s virtual shelves. I had hoped for a January release, but that’s not going to happen. Going for the first quarter of 2020. After that, I have an idea for a LitRPG story. Of course, being me, it can’t just be someone playing a game. I’ll shed more light on the matter once the current work is finished.

My short story is still awaiting editing. I haven’t looked at it since I wrote it. Handed it off to someone to look over, but they’ve had a rough few months and haven’t had the chance to futz with it. I may just have to go through it and do my best to clean it up on my own. I want to give it out to everyone as a freebie, but I can’t do that if it’s languishing on a hard drive unloved. It’s just a fun little story focused on the twins and a much older Jaki (takes place ten years after the events of the main series). Nothing deep or thought provoking—just entertaining. At least I hope!

Okay, I’ve rattled on plenty. I just wanted to let everyone know I’m still alive and chugging along on writing as best I can. Gonna finish up another scene tonight and then start on a new one tomorrow. Time to kick some slaver butt.

Warm fuzzies, folks! Here’s to a fresh start on a new year.