The Makalang

The Black Sky, Chapter 2

As promised, I’m continuing a preview of The Black Sky, the second book in the Makalang series. The book will be released in one week, on Dec. 15. Later this week, I plan release the cover for book 3, The Golden Staff. I really like how this one came out, and I hope you will too.


2.

I had a meeting that afternoon with Varycibe, the clan leader of the sorai. She lived in Phan-garad as well, in a compound a few houses away from mine. Merindra came with me, along with my five other sorai wives. 

All of the latter had joined me since I’d killed aJia’jara. The three sorai among his wives who remained with me after his death – I’d given them all the option to leave, and some did – had gotten pregnant and returned to their clan. Of the five new ones, one was now pregnant as well, but she wanted to stay with Merindra, so she was still here. 

Sorai were warriors, but not like the linyang. While the cat-girls made the most of their agility, using light weapons and a lot of moves not unlike the martial arts I’d studied back on Earth, sorai usually wore a sort of fiber-composite armor and fought with a long-and-short pair of crystal swords. 

Our group was armed and armored, including me. Not because we expected any trouble – this was essentially a business call – but simply because it was how sorai did things. Showing up at Varycibe’s house unarmed would be seen as weakness. So I had my katana and my green carbon fiber LARP armor. 

When we got to the gate of my house, the linyang guards began yelling at the crowd to move back. But there were enough females outside that the guards had to push them backwards with long staves. I’d given them strict instructions not to hurt anyone, so they were doing it as gently as possible. 

The six sorai took up a cordon around me as we left. The females in the crowd began chanting “Makalang! Makalang!” and generally yelling and calling to me to get my attention. All of them were pretty, most were beautiful, and I saw a few I would have ranked as drop-dead gorgeous. There wasn’t a single one I would have turned down back when I was a lonely divorced dad on Earth. But I knew if I stopped to talk to any of them, I was liable to precipitate a riot.

The crowd followed us all the way to Varycibe’s compound, yelling and chanting, not stopping until her guards pushed them back away from the gate. Finally we got inside.

I took a deep breath, feeling a bit like some kid in a boy band.

“Maybe we could start doing interviews with the girls at the gate,” I said to Merindra. “I feel bad just ignoring all of them. Some of them looked like possibilities.”

She ran her fingers through her ruby hair as she got her bearings.

“We can,” she said, “but Will, if we start doing it, there will be a thousand out there, not a hundred.”

“We will be lucky if it is only a thousand,” one of the sorai said.

“Think about it. Talk to Kisarat. There has to be a way.”

Merindra nodded. “As you wish, my tsulygoi.”

One of Varycibe’s people came out to greet us. Her house was yet another example of Taitalan architecture – like iXa’aliq’s rose-bodied house and Ceriniat’s soap-bubble compound – that I couldn’t compare to anything on Earth. There were seven transparent crystal cylinders, one for each color of the spectrum, arranged in a random order around a neatly landscaped and manicured garden. An array of glittering crystal bridges connected them, one set about mid-way up and another connecting the top of each tower. 

Varycibe’s attendant led us to the violet cylinder, and we followed her up a stairwell to a room at the top. There were doors in the glass all the way around the cylinder, most of which were open to a ring-shaped balcony. We had a 360-degree view of the area, and I could see my house a few hundred yards away. The crowd of hopeful wives was still clustered outside where we left them. 

Varycibe was waiting for us. She was an elderly but still robust sorai, her hair and fur largely gone silver. She wore an expensive-looking wrap along with small silver earrings. Metal was extremely rare on Taitala, which made those earrings worth almost as much as her house. 

Merindra greeted her warmly with a hug.

“It is good to see you, child,” Varycibe said, “but you should be home with your mother.”

“I must obey my tsulygoi, grandmother. And I wish to raise our child with him.”

Varycibe grumbled. “I suppose the child is what matters.” She turned to look at Sherala, the other pregnant sorai among my wives. “And you, I have heard you are with child as well. Yet here you are.”

Sherala just nodded. “I obey my tsulygoi, clan leader.”

Varycibe turned back to me.

“The old must give way to the young,” she said, “for they will inherit this world we seek to save. Ha! You have been quite busy, makalang. Five sorai with child, in as many sampars! An abundance! And surely many more to come.”

“You have sent me an extraordinary selection of wives, Varycibe.” 

And she had. Smoking hot didn’t begin to describe my collection of fox-girls now. Merindra was one of a kind, but the rest of them were pretty close. Her comment made me remember the night I had impregnated Sherala. I knew when it happened, because I had mated with her only once. Merindra had been there, along with Kisarat, and let’s just say, they deserved equal credit for the child. I really needed to get to work on the rest of them.

Varycibe snorted at the look on my face.

“I have an eye for it, in my old age.” She laughed again. “Come, we have business to discuss.”

Varycibe and I, along with her attendant and Merindra, sat down at a table in the center of the room. My other wives remained at a distance behind us.

“You’re aware, of course,” I said, “that there are members of the Long Claw serving as guards for my house, as well as linyang I took from aJia’jara, because they chose to serve me after I defeated them escaping from confinement.”

The Long Claw was a linyang mercenary group controlled by Ceriniat, the linyang leader.

“Yes. I am.”

“I am growing concerned about the message this sends, since I am trying very hard not to show favoritism to any clan. I would like to request that the sorai supply me with guards as well, so that there is equal representation. I have made similar requests to the dwenda and talalong to help balance out my household staff, which right now is dominated by cunelo.”

Varycibe nodded.

“Yes, of course. That is not a problem, and I agree with the message the current situation sends. But there is another, more serious matter I wish to address, and that is your primary role here. Your household staff is not the only thing the cunelo are dominating.”

I groaned. I knew this was going to come up sooner or later. 

“I can’t help the fact that they’re so fertile.”

“Every single cunelo wife of yours is with child. As pleased as I am with what you’ve done with your sorai wives, the fact remains there are now ten cunelo expecting children against half that of my people.”

Varycibe wasn’t exaggerating the situation. It was beginning to feel as if I just needed to look at the cunelo girls the wrong way to knock them up. Like Eladra had been, it was pretty much one-and-done with them.

“I have been trying very hard to maintain equal representation amongst my wives. I can’t help it if it takes a bit more effort with the other races.”

“I am not concerned with equality in wives. I am only concerned with equality in children. If you must adjust your wife ratios to achieve that, I expect you to do so. I have spoken to Ceriniat about this, and she agrees.”

That didn’t surprise me. The linyang were also falling behind. Narilora was the biggest example, but several of the others had taken a while to get pregnant.

“I’ll see what I can do. But the others won’t like this, Loreloo especially.” Loreloo was the leader of the cunelo.

“I will deal with Loreloo.”

“All right. I don’t want to cause tensions, let alone open conflict. On that, aJia’jara and I were agreed.”

Varycibe nodded.

“I will send you the guards you requested.”

On the way back, Merindra walked close to me.

“Will, I support you, of course. And I’m happy that you want to maintain close relations with my clan. But I need to warn you that my grandmother is no one to be trifled with.”

“Okay.”

“I love her, but please never forget that gracious smile is made of teeth.”

When we got back to the house, I found Ayarala and explained the idea I’d gotten on the way to the meeting.

“I want to you start selecting a few sorai and linyang from the girls out front. Just a few, the best examples. That shouldn’t be hard.”

“I know what you like, Will. But Merindra is absolutely right. There will be consequences if we do this.”

“I’m prepared to handle it.”

She nodded. 

“I’ll talk to Kisarat, and we’ll get started right away.”

“Try not to make a big deal about it.”

She rolled her eyes.

“That part may be difficult. But you should talk to Eladra too.”

“That’s where I’m headed.”

“Good luck.” She rose up on her toes to kiss me. “I love you, makalang.”

I went upstairs to the third floor, where most of the wife quarters were. I found Eladra in one of the common rooms with several of the other cunelo girls. Most of my cunelo wives were new, but one of them was Lorelat, the cunelo among the lone group of five girls I’d mated with while in captivity under ajia’Jara. Lorelat had briefly fled the house with the other girls after my escape – save Merindra, who stayed – only to be sent right back by their clan leaders. After she got pregnant, she decided to stick around. I was glad, because she was one of those rare girls who are both extremely cute and extremely hot.

I came up behind Eladra and hugged her.

“Hey, bunny-girl.”

She leaned back and kissed me on the cheek.

“Hello, bunny-daddy.”

The other girls all yelled, “Bunny-daddy!” after her and clustered around us hugging me. Early on, they had turned my nickname for Eladra around as a term of endearment for me. I let myself enjoy the pressure of all the plump breasts around me – cunelo as a rule were heavy-chested – as well as the feel of the half-dozen baby bunny-girls I could sense in them. 

Then I pulled myself out, along with Eladra.

“I need to talk to you for a minute.”

I found a quiet spot in the hallway and explained my discussion with Varycibe to her. Her pretty face twisted in displeasure.

“That’s not fair.”

“She has a point about equality in offspring.”

“Cunelo have always been fertile. It’s just who we are. Everyone knows that. They knew that when they agreed to your plan. It’s not our fault.”

“And I told her that. But we have to do what it takes to keep everyone happy, or this could blow up very quickly. Then there’s nothing for anyone.”

She pouted in such a terminally cute way that I wavered for a moment. But there were too many important considerations here.

Eladra huffed at me.

“Fine. It’s up to you. You have to deal with all of them. I’ll make it work.”

I had put her in charge of “wife management,” basically what passed for HR in this household, and to her credit she had done pretty well keeping things even and equitable. It was just the cunelo fertility that threw the numbers out of whack.

Then I explained what I’d set Ayarala to do, and her eyes bulged.

“Will! That’s going to make things crazy out there! You have to know that.”

“I’m hoping we can manage it. Just check in with Ayarala today.”

“Yes, my tsulygoi.” She gave me a hug and a peck on the cheek, and I allowed myself a moment to play with her big breasts as she giggled against me. Then she went back to the other girls.

Frankly, I needed a drink after all that, so I went over to the sitting room across the hall. Ayarala had fully stocked the place with Taitalan liquor, particularly a variety I’d discovered on my initial trip to Phan-garad with Ayarala and Kisarat. Known as malvina, it tasted a bit like mango-flavored rum. I’d been a rum drinker back home, and this was the closest thing I’d found to it.

I poured myself a glass and went out on the balcony. The crowd below saw me and began calling up to me. I tipped my glass at them. Down below, I could see Ayarala talking to several of the guards.

Tsulygoi?”

Kisarat came up beside me. I leaned over and kissed her temple, and she nuzzled against me for a moment. I felt her tail caressing my leg.

“Ayarala told me of the events today, and your request.”

“And you have thoughts, as you always do.”

Kisarat was probably the smartest of my wives, having graduated from the Taitalan equivalent of college with what amounted to a dual degree in history and physics. There were a lot of things she could have done with her life had she not also been strikingly beautiful, which on Taitala meant she was destined to be a wife. 

“I do, Will. I appreciate your desire to maintain good relations with the clans, but I sense things are growing more tense by the day. You have upset an equilibrium that has existed for kumalatalons. Everyone accepted that mating was for the few, that children were rare, and births could not be obtained on demand. All of that has changed with the makalang here in the flesh.”

She looked out at the crowd.

“All these girls grew up with the fantasy of the makalang, thinking it to be only that. You need to appreciate how powerful that legend has been for so many. That power was held in check because there was no makalang to release it. But now you have done so.”

She sighed.

“If you give wings to their fantasies, Will, if you make them real by allowing a select few in here, I cannot predict what may happen.”

“We’ve got to do something. If we keep it under control like the clans have been doing, come up with some strict rules about who we pick. I mean, how bad could it get?”

As if in answer to my intended rhetorical question, that was the moment the first explosion came.


If you haven’t already, you can pre-order The Black Sky on Amazon.

The Black Sky, Chapter 1

The second novel in the Makalang series, The Black Sky, is available for pre-order now, and will be released Dec. 15. Since we’re getting close, I’m going to post a couple of sample chapters between now and then. The third installment, The Golden Staff, will be available to pre-order the same day, and I’m going to preview the cover next week.

Note that this sneak preview is very NSFW and contains some spoilers for Book 1. So proceed with caution.


There were days I could almost forget I was trapped on an alien world. Today was one of them. 

If I closed my eyes a bit, the sky above me wasn’t just a bit too purple, and the sun wasn’t just a little bit too small. I was simply lying in the sun beside the wading pool on the balcony of my newly acquired and very large house. As long as I didn’t look off to my right, out into the city, I didn’t see that the house resembled a Mayan temple, didn’t see the armed cat-girls patrolling the exterior, and didn’t see the clusters of not-quite human people outside the walls looking up at me.

But I didn’t want to keep my eyes closed for long, because that would mean not seeing my five beautiful wives as they lounged and played in the water. 

There was Ayarala, my first wife, who was the most human in appearance with her elfin features, pointed ears, and pale-to-translucent skin. She was of the Taitalan race of dwenda and had the purple eyes and metallic golden hair that was common amongst her kin. 

There was Kisarat, my second wife, the talalong with serpentine eyes, patches of scales across her skin, and a long snake-like tail. Her emerald hair sparkled in the sun like strands of green glass.

Narilora, my third wife, was linyang, the same race as the cat-girls patrolling my house. She had small cat-like ears poking out of her obsidian hair, feline green eyes, and a long, furred tail. Instead of nails, she had small retractable claws at the ends of her fingers.

Then there was Eladra, the cunelo, who looked like a literal Playboy bunny with her big breasts, long white ears, and a small fluffy tail. But that contrasted with her light brown hair, light blue eyes, and perpetually innocent expression that made her seem more like that girl who grew up next door.

Finally, there was Merindra, with her ruby hair, red-brown eyes, and a body like a lingerie model. She was sorai and had the foxlike ears and long fluffy tail that distinguished her race. She was the tallest of the five, though she barely came up to my chin. 

Taitalans were a short people, and I towered over everyone I’d met so far.

I watched them playing together but stayed where I was on the sunbed along the edge of the balcony. Swimsuits were not a thing on Taitala, so of course they were all naked. It made sense when you thought about it. Taitala was about 99.9% female, and absent patriarchal ideas about female modesty, there was no practical reason why you would need clothes to go swimming.

I had several dozen other wives, but these five were the inner circle and my favorites. The overall total was constantly fluctuating because of the agreement I’d worked out with the clan leaders.

When I arrived here six sampars ago – roughly two Earth months, as a sampar was ten Taitalan days – through a strange crystal cave in the mountains above San Diego, I was received as a legendary creature known as the makalang. The makalang was a sort of Taitalan analog to Bigfoot, that is if you imagined Bigfoot as the ideal specimen of masculinity. Taitalan males, who were about as rare here as a four-leaf clover on Earth, were effete, degenerate, three-foot-tall blue-skinned creatures who largely kept to themselves while the females ran everything.

Everything, that was, except the process of reproduction.

Taitalan females who wanted to bear children had to present themselves to a receptive male and hope to be chosen as wives, and then hope that their chosen male might get around to having sex with them some time within the next five or ten talons(a talon being a Taitalan year and about twice as long as a year on Earth). Because the act of reproduction was a very brief, mechanical process devoid of pleasure for either party, the males cared little for it except to the extent it allowed them to extort concessions from females.

And that was in the best of circumstances, which the present situation most certainly was not. Not only were Taitalan males generally uninterested in mating, it was a thing only the younger ones were able to do with any frequency. Males lived a lot longer than females – at least twice as long – but almost all of the males who were still alive were so old that they had little ability to mate at all. 

So few children, male or female, were being born now that their entire society was on the verge of extinction. I’d been told that it hadn’t always been this bad, but over the past several centuries – Taitalans used a unit known as a kumala-talon,roughly 80 Earth years – the number of male children, as well as their vitality, had been slowly declining. 

The upshot of this was that Taitalan civilization was dying.

Around this grew the legend of the makalang. The makalang, the stories went, was a tall, virile creature who took many Taitalan females as wives, mated with them regularly, and sired many strong children. So strong was the attraction of this legend that it supplied a substantial amount of plot material for the Taitalan equivalent of romance novels and dramas.

Except, as I’d found out, the makalang wasn’t just a legend. There had been other makalangs before me, and though there was still a great deal I didn’t know, I had come to the conclusion that the makalang played some key role in the survival of Taitala. 

My main job here, then, was to father as many children as possible. On that point, I was off to a good start. I figured Ayarala and Kisarat would be starting to show soon, while Eladra and Merindra likely wouldn’t for a while longer. About half of my other wives were also pregnant. 

Those other wives included some I’d taken from the previous owner of my house, a male named aJia’jara, who had tried to confine me in an assembly-line breeding operation. I, naturally, objected to this, and our disagreement ended with a sharp stick through his head. The custom on Taitala was that if a male with wives and assets – the term was tsulygoi – defeated another in combat, the winning male took all the loser’s wives and possessions. So I ended up with a house, lots of females, and a shit-ton of Taitalan money. 

The remainder of my current wives had been sent by the leaders of the clans. I agreed to do what I could to give them children, though I insisted on keeping my wives here instead of having females come and go. Some of the pregnant ones had since returned to their clans, but as I also agreed to let them go if they wanted to, that wasn’t an issue for me. It cleared out room for the next batch. There was only so much room in my house, after all. By working through the clans, I figured we could keep things fairly orderly.

Though my idea worked well at first, the approach was starting to show its limitations. Once word got out that the makalang was real and living in Phan-garad – this city I now resided in – quite a lot of females were not willing to wait for the clan leaders to decide who got to mate and who didn’t. 

Day after day, females from all five races were showing up outside the gate to my compound wanting to be considered as wives. That was why I had a group of linyang guards controlling entry. Some of the guards had been aJia’jara’s; others had been sent by Ceriniat, the leader of the linyang, who lived more or less next door to me in what was the wealthiest area of the city. 

It wasn’t that I didn’t sympathize with these females. It was more that the clan leaders wanted to make the most of the opportunity I presented, and they wanted to ensure that I was inclined to continue mating with their females as long as I could. So they’d been sending me the most beautiful, intelligent, and skillful girls they could find, though each clan differed in what skills they prioritized. Dwenda were mostly healers and administrators; talalong were scientists and scholars; linyang and sorai were fighters; and the cunelo focused on domestic skills. Given all that, I just didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with the random girls at my door.

Today’s crowd was the largest yet. I looked down from the balcony out across the field, seeing about a hundred females of all races milling around and looking up at me as I sat by the pool. Many of them held crystal tubes to their eyes, which I knew functioned similarly to binoculars; others held signs written in Taitalan. I didn’t understand their language yet, but my wives told me they said things like Makalang, pick me! and Please mate with me and I will be your wife.

Merindra rose from the pool and walked slowly in my direction, squeezing the water out of her ruby hair and long tail. She shook herself briefly in a manner that reminded me of a wet dog, except for the way her firm breasts bounced around as she did it. 

She climbed onto the sunbed, straddling my legs, and I reached up to play with her damp boobs. She bent down to kiss me, then looked out toward the crowd.

“They’re watching. Should we give them a show?”

Almost on cue, I could hear murmuring from the crowd.

“No need to be mean.”

“I’m teasing. We should go inside. Narilora is waiting.”

I looked behind her. My cat-girl had disappeared. 

“Lead the way.”

She stood up, taking my hand. The crowd moaned in disappointment as we went inside.

I found Narilora lying in our bed. All of my five main wives were close and good friends, but they had certain dynamics amongst them, and Narilora and Merindra had taken to each other in a way I found intensely arousing. It was probably because both of them were deadly warriors, and they enjoyed sparring with each other and me regularly. They tended to view sparring as foreplay, so our workout sessions often ended in sex.

I lay down between them, and for a little while we just kissed and fondled each other. Then the girls slid down and took turns using their mouths on me. Oral sex between males and females didn’t exist on Taitala – mating was about children, not pleasure – but once I explained how it worked on Earth, my wives all embraced it eagerly.

I withstood their attentions as long as I could before pulling Merindra up to my mouth and Narilora onto my hips. She backed down on to my erection as the two of them came together above me, kissing. 

One of the weird things about being the makalang was that I could sense the emotions and arousal of my wives on a visceral level, as a sort of unique telepathy-empathy. I couldn’t read their thoughts, but it was enough for me to understand what they were saying even though they were speaking Taitalan. And it also allowed me to know exactly what they enjoyed in bed. 

So as Merindra rode my tongue and Narilora rode my dick, I could feel them growing closer to orgasm, could feel everything inside them as if it was happening to me. And this same weird connection also caused me to absorb energy from their bodies at climax, drawing it out of them. Among other things, the process dramatically accelerated my healing abilities. And if I did it enough times in a short period, I grew strong enough to, among other things, wipe out an angry group of armed linyang without a scratch, which I’d done escaping from the cell aJia’jara had me confined in.

Narilora came first, legs shaking, tail thrashing over my legs, and fell to the side. Merindra fell forward, taking me back in her mouth. Then she shivered in release herself, thighs and tail battering my head. 

I let her coast down, then rolled her over. I sat up on my knees and moved between her legs. She welcomed me into her. 

Taitalan males, with their tiny stature, had penises about the size of an average earthworm. That meant the females had some adjustments to make when I came along. My wives were used to me now, but they were all still wonderfully, deliciously tight. I looked down at Merindra as I drove into her, watching her breasts shake under me and a lustful look contort her face.

I wasn’t going to last long. But as I grew close to orgasm, she began tapping my hips.

Tsulygoi . . . my body is yours . . . but you should give your seed to Narilora.”

Shit. I had forgotten about that. I stopped and withdrew. But before I could do anything, Narilora jumped up from the bed and ran over to a couch across the room. She pulled her knees up to her chest and looked out the window.

I went after her, sitting down next to her and hugging her. But she remained rigid in my arms, and I could see she was fighting tears.

“Hey, hey, pussy-cat, it’s okay.”

“I don’t need your pity.”

“It’s not pity. We just want what you want.”

She tried to pull away from me.

“I failed you as a warrior, and now I have failed you as a wife.”

She was referring to the fight with aJia’jara, when he’d taken her hostage. I’d killed him, but he’d then nearly killed her. Only the energy I’d stored during my escape had been enough to heal her.

“You did not fail me. I couldn’t have escaped in the first place if you hadn’t unlocked the door.”

“I should not have been taken like that. I knew he was in there, yet he surprised me like a rank kitten.”

“We beat him. We. You were part of it.”

Fine. We beat him. Then maybe I should join the guards. I am of no use to you otherwise.”

I pulled her to me again, and this time she relaxed, leaning against me and crying.

“Babe, it’s only been a few sampars. These things don’t always happen right away.”

“Yet you have somehow put every other female in this house with child.”

I wanted to say, not every one, but I knew that wasn’t the point.

“Even your bunny-girl,” she spat, using my term of endearment for Eladra.

“Hey. That’s not fair. This has nothing to do with her.”

She sighed.

“I am sorry. I love Eladra. I do. But she conceived the very night you took her for the first time. I am sure of it. Kisarat as well, and likely Merindra. Yet I have nothing despite all the times we have mated.”

Merindra had come over, sitting behind me.

Awasa-late, if I could give this child to you to ease your anguish, I would.”

Narilora climbed over me to embrace Merindra. I held them both. 

“I want you to have many strong children, awasa-late,” Narilora said, using the Taitalan term for sister-wife. “I just wish that for myself as well. Even one.”

She took my hand and put it on Merindra’s stomach. The emotional connection I had with my wives, when I tried, also allowed me to sense the children within them. And I could sense our daughter within Merindra, a tiny little spark of Merindra-and-Will energy in her belly. A tiny fox-girl. I knew, somehow, that it was female, as were all the children I’d fathered so far. 

I would almost certainly never see a male child, given how the birthrate was even more skewed than the population. Maybe one in a thousand Taitalans was male, but at best one in ten thousand births these days produced a male child. Those few females who did so were regarded as something like Super Bowl MVPs, if not national heroes. So rare was it now that most Taitalans could name every female in their clan who had birthed a male child in the last two kumalatalons.

Narilora pulled my hand back and put it on her stomach.

“I’m sorry, baby,” was all I could say.

She sighed, then rose, taking our hands.

“One more try, then.”

We went back to bed. I finished inside her. Then we held each other, hoping.

A Glossary of Taitalan Names

A number of readers of The Scarlet Cavern have complained about an inability to keep all the Taitalan names and terminology straight. So, in order to help with that, I have updated the Kindle file on Amazon with a glossary of the Taitalan words used in the book (as well as the map I posted a few days ago). It’s posted below for anyone wanting to review.

aJia’jara – (AH-gia-jara) A Taitalan male in Phan-garad.

Alag – (AH-lag) a beverage distilled from fruit; similar to wine.

Awasa-late – (ah-wa-suh-LAH-tay) sister-wife; used as a form of address and sometimes term of endearment between wives.

Awasa-lina – (ah-wa-suh-LEE-nah) mother-wife; the senior female among a tsulygoi’s wives and typically the one responsible for overall management of his household. May or may not be the first wife claimed.

Busang – (BOO-sang) a predator similar to a black, six-legged mountain lion.

Cunelo – (coo-NAY-lo) one of the Taitalan races. They have rabbit-like ears and tails.

Dubigar – (DO-big-are) a fruit; its juice can be used in healing.

Dwenda – (DWEN-duh) one of the Taitalan races. They have pale skin and pointed ears.

iXa’aliq – (ih-SHE-a-leek) A Taitalan male; Kisarat and Narilora’s first tsulygoi.

Kabayang – (KA-buh-yang) a domestic animal resembling a six-legged orange llama.

Kiralabar – (cur-AH-la-bar) a flower. It can be distilled into a narcotic-like drug.

Kumala – (coo-MA-la) the second star in the Taitalan system.

Kumala-talon – (coo-MA-la-ta-lun) a unit of time equal to one circuit of Kumala across the Taitalan sky, which takes about 40 talons.

Langoy – (LAN-goy) meteorite iron.

Linyang – (LIN-yang) one of the Taitalan races. They have cat-like ears and tails.

Makalang – (MAH-kuh-lang) a legendary creature roughly analogous to Bigfoot.

Malvina – (mal-VEE-nuh) a liquor distilled from alag.

Massit – (MAH-sit) a beverage brewed from ground nuts and seeds. Similar to coffee.

Matsak – (MAT-sack) a small animal resembling a six-legged black koala.

Nalasin – (nuh-LA-sin) the state of a wife who has mated and whose tsulygoi has died, or of a wife who left her tsulygoi after mating. She is expected to live alone and not mate again.

Panikang – (PA-nih-kang) one of the Taitalan races.

Pikala – (pi-KA-lah) a unit of money.

Sampar – (SAM-par) a period of time equal to ten days.

Sorai – (SO-rye) one of the Taitalan races. They have fox-like ears and tails.

Talalong – (TA-luh-long) one of the Taitalan races. They have snake-like tails, scales, and venomous fangs.

Talon – (TA-lun) the Taitalan year, equal to 72 sampars.

Tatanga – (tuh-TANG-ga) the third star in the Taitalan system.

Tsulygoi – (SOO-lih-goy) a Taitalan male who has claimed at least one wife. The term is generally used as an honorific form of address by his wives. 

A Map of Taitala

Now that the first book of the Makalang series is out, I thought I’d share one thing I have planned for Book 2, which is a map of the area where the series takes place. The problem with mapping is that making an attractive, professional-looking one can be challenging. I’m a words guy, not a picture guy, which is why I don’t do my own covers or cover art. But it turns out there is some pretty good fantasy mapping software out there.

After some research, I settled on an app called Wonderdraft, and if you’re at all conversant with Photoshop (I am), it’s very easy to pick up. What you see up there is what I came up with. It’s probably not done, but that’s the general vision I have for the world.

The Scarlet Cavern, Ch. 2 [updated]

I’m continuing my preview of my forthcoming series, The Makalang. Chapter 1 can be found here.

[Update: This reflects the current WIP, which is pretty close to the release version.]


2. 

By the time I concluded that climbing out of the cave was impossible, it was starting to get dark. I’d been yelling for help every few minutes, but no one appeared to rescue me. 

A cardinal rule of wilderness survival is that if you get lost, you need to stay put so people can find you. The further you wander from where you were supposed to be, the more area they have to search.

I knew that. But I was now wondering if there might be another way out of this cave. If I couldn’t get out the top, maybe there was an exit below. I promised myself I would just go and see. 

That was when I found another problem. 

One of my personal inside jokes – and when you’re a divorced single dad, most of your life is inside jokes no one else gets – was that there was always something I forgot to bring on a campout, no matter how much I planned and thought things out.

And this time, in worrying about all my LARP gear and getting the kids to Jacqueline’s on time that afternoon, I’d somehow forgotten one of the most basic elements of camping – my fucking flashlight.

What to do? As it happened, I did have another source of light. My GM had agreed to let me bring a green laser pointer as a stand-in for a magic wand my character owned. And unlike my flashlight, that was safely packed away with a spare li-ion battery. 

It wasn’t as good as a real flashlight, but the laser pointer succeeded in lighting up the cave just enough to see where I was going. There was a passage behind me that narrowed down a bit, then curved around to the left into the hillside. That wasn’t a great sign, but after packing all my stuff up again, I went to check things out.

The cave floor further down was the same loose sand I had landed on. Clearly a lot of things were blowing and washing down here over time. But the passage continued and leveled off, though I had to climb over and around several large boulders. 

The green illumination of the laser gave everything an eerie cast at first, but gradually my eyes got used to it. I hadn’t come very far, but there was still no sign of an exit. This appeared to be some kind of cavity that had opened up in the granite of the mountain. A friend of mine was a geologist, and I knew that, geologically speaking, this range was very old. Maybe the endless shifting and faulting in the area had cracked things open at some point. 

Then I came around a bend and found myself in a larger cavity that sparkled with crystals. Veins of some kind of crystalline material were shot all through the walls of the cave, sending irritating laser reflections all around me. And despite the monochromatic green light from the laser, there was some strange effect that caused the crystals to glow with bright red fluorescence.

Yet before I could assess what I’d discovered here, my heart sank. I looked ahead and saw a solid wall of rock blocking any further progress.

Or did I? A wave of disorientation swam through my head. I blinked, and there was a passage continuing on in front of me.

What had I just seen? I rubbed my eyes, and it was still there. Maybe the apparent wall of rock I thought I’d seen was just a reflection from the dust I’d kicked up clambering through the cave, confused by the concussion I’d likely given myself falling down here.

And when I stepped forward to see what was beyond, I let out a laugh of triumph. Up ahead was light. Wherever I was, I’d found a way out.

I left the crystals behind and climbed quickly forward. The cave began to open up, and the light ahead was brighter than I expected. The clouds must have cleared already, and maybe this cave was catching the sunset.

The air on this side was colder, no doubt because of the brief storm. Then I caught an odd scent on the breeze – something floral.

The exit was low, a hole in the wall about five feet high and three across. Still wondering how bad that concussion might have been, I dropped down to my knees to avoid the top of the hole and crawled out into the sunlight.

I blinked again. What I saw were not the ponderosa and lodgepole pine trees I’d left behind at the cave entrance an hour ago. They were . . . something else.

They were trees, I suppose. But the bark was deep green instead of brown, and it glittered in the sunlight like the crystals in the cave behind me. Above me, the branches spread out in a not-unfamiliar pattern, but the leaves were oval and blueish-green. Large red flowers studded the branches, and little white insect-things flitted around them. They looked like butterflies, except for having six wings instead of two.

That was about the moment I realized that the sun was not setting – it was up in the sky above me, higher than when the storm had swept in. I looked at my watch. It was 6:15. It should have been dark by now. 

Was I hallucinating? Was I actually back in the cave in a coma? Feeling a bit silly, I pinched myself, but of course nothing happened. 

The ground below me was moist and spongy, not the dusty, sandy soil of the Laguna Mountains. I looked back at the sky. Not only was the sun in the wrong place, something about it looked wrong. It looked smaller somehow. It was hard to tell for sure, not being able to look directly at it, but the afterimages it left on my retinas were at best two-thirds the normal diameter of the sun. It was about the same brightness, but smaller.

Just to satisfy my curiosity, I pulled out my phone. There was no signal, not that I’d expected one.

I rubbed my eyes and then my head. A concussion seemed like the most likely explanation here. I was obviously hallucinating. That being the case, the last thing I ought to be doing was continuing my hike, since I could easily walk over a cliff if I wasn’t seeing things clearly.

I decided to go back into the cave and sit down, away from the bewildering landscape in front of me.

I hadn’t noticed it coming out, but there were more crystals on this end of the cave, some large enough that they protruded from the walls. I took a look at one of the crystal clusters. It was almost a foot across, part of a vein running back into the tunnel.

That was when I got another shock. The passage I’d emerged from, the passage that, presumably, led back to where I’d fallen in, was gone. The cave now ended no more than fifteen feet inside. Where the passage had been was now a fractured wall studded with crystals. I went over and felt around. There had been no rock fall closing the passage. There was no sign the passage had ever even been there.

I sat heavily down on a rock, bewilderment flowing through me. Hunger suddenly gnawed at my gut. I realized that no matter what I was looking at, it was well past dinner time. Maybe eating and a little rest would clear my head.

We divided up the food for the weekend amongst the LARP group, and I had my share of it in my backpack. I took my pack off and I found something I could justify eating right now. I spent a few minutes forcing it down with some water.

My hunger was satisfied, but my head did not clear.

When I walked back out, I realized with a shock that the sun had actually risen in the sky. And if my bearings were not completely screwed up and this was the opposite side of the ridge I’d fallen down, I was facing roughly northwest, toward the ocean. That meant the sun was moving back over my head, in the exact opposite direction it should have been going.

I pulled my phone out and opened the compass app. I wasn’t sure what would happen, but it got a reading on something. The compass needle spun around, indicating that north was actually off to my left. 

That made no sense. But I couldn’t get a GPS fix to figure out what was going on.

I clearly could not go back, since the cave was closed off. Maybe I could, carefully, explore a bit and see what this area was.

There was no path I could see, but the trees were not especially dense, so the going was easy. I was on a slope of some sort. Behind me was a hillside above the cave entrance. I decided to climb up – maybe I could get a better view of the area.

I hadn’t gone very far before I heard something. Somewhere off to my left, behind a group of the strange glittering trees, I heard something crashing around. There were cracking and scraping noises, followed by an unmistakable growl.

I froze. Mountain lions were the one real threat in this area when it came to wildlife, and they would definitely stalk humans if given the chance. But normally they were quite stealthy – they were ambush hunters – so whatever was going on, it was not about me.

Then I heard a cry. I almost wasn’t sure what it was, possibly a hawk or something else. Or a rabbit the mountain lion had caught. But something about it sounded vaguely human.

I didn’t like the feeling of being weighed down by all my gear if there really was a mountain lion nearby. I popped loose the buckles on my backpack and set it down. But unable to resist my curiosity, I stepped slowly and quietly forward into the clump of trees. After a few moments, I saw what was going on.

The source of the growl was reasonably feline in form, but it was not a mountain lion. For one thing, it was black. 

For another, it had six legs. 

But it was angry, and it was after something up on the wall of rock above it. Huddled in a small alcove, I saw a pale blond-haired girl holding some kind of knife. She was trying to stop the creature from jumping up to get her. 

“Hold on!” I yelled. “I’ll try to draw it off!”

A moment later, I realized the mistake I’d made. The mountain-lion thing spun around to face me. I was going to draw it off, for sure, because it was now coming in my direction with a very hungry look in its eyes.

The girl yelled something, but I couldn’t catch it. It hadn’t even sounded like English. 

As the not-a-mountain lion began closing with me, I suddenly remembered that I had a weapon to defend myself – my katana.

I reached back over my shoulder and drew it from its scabbard.

The creature sprang at me much faster than I’d expected, and I only had time to bring up my katana in front of me. I slashed down as I tried to dodge its pounce. There was an ear-splitting screech as the blade bit into its flesh, but at the same time, I felt its claws scratching at my LARP armor.

The breastplate held, but I felt a burning in my thigh as a claw dragged between two of the plates. We fell apart and faced each other.

The wound I’d given it was not as serious as I’d hoped. I’d opened a gash across its shoulder, but it did not seem seriously injured.

I took a moment to calm my nerves. I’d seen combat before. I had enlisted in the Marines after high school and served two tours in Iraq. So this was far from the first time I’d been face-to-face with something that wanted to kill me. 

But in Iraq I’d been part of a unit with a lot of support. I’d never had to fight a wild animal, alone, with little more than my bare hands. Granted, there was a time in my youth when I was fairly handy with a shinai – the bamboo swords used in kendo – but that was a long time ago.

The look in the creature’s eyes told me only one of us was getting out of this alive. I thought of my kids and decided it was going to be me.

With a shout, I lunged forward and struck at the creature. It hadn’t been expecting me to attack, but it reacted immediately, rearing back and swiping at me with its two front paws. This time I struck hard, opening a large gash down one of its forelegs. But its claws caught the edge of the greave on my left shin, nearly tearing it off.

I fell back. It sprang at me again. I wasn’t ready to strike, and I could only block it with the end of my katana. I fell over and managed to avoid being pinned, but it was on me immediately, snarling and snapping its jaws at my face. 

I kicked out at it, trying to get away. I then realized that as fearsome as it looked, it was not that big. The average mountain lion weighs about 150 lb, and this thing seemed lighter. I was six-two and almost 200 pounds, which meant I had a size advantage I needed to use.

I wedged a foot under it and shoved, pushing it off of me and over to the side. It landed on its wounded leg and let out a yelp. That was enough time to get me back on my feet.

It sprang again, but this time instead of striking with my katana, I kicked out at its face, connecting my hiking boot squarely with its jaw. It let out another yelp and fell to the ground, staggering backward and regarding me murderously.

The beast’s jaw was now crooked and uneven, and it opened and closed its mouth as if I’d broken it.

Not waiting for it to make a decision, I lunged forward again, striking down at its head. Still stunned from my kick and with a wounded leg, it couldn’t dodge me fast enough, and my blade bit deeply into its neck. The beast let out a scream and fell to the side, kicking and lurching with its good legs to try to get away. 

I struck again, kneeling as I did, and nearly severed its head. It jerked and was still.

I tried to catch my breath as the adrenaline began to subside. My heart was hammering in my chest. I wiped the blood off my katana using the creature’s fur and sheathed it. Then I sat down to assess my injuries, trying to get my mind around the absurdity of having come up here to role-play only to end up actually fighting for my life.

As it turned out, my fake dragon-scale LARP armor had actually held up well. There were four not-terribly-deep scratches across the breastplate, and my greave just needed to be strapped back down. The scratch on my thigh was nowhere near as bad as I feared. The creature’s claw had torn my hiking pants underneath but the bleeding was already starting to stop. 

That was when I remembered the girl.

A preview of The Scarlet Cavern [updated]

As I mentioned last week, I’m getting ready to release a new book series, The Makalang, later this fall (likely late October). Drafts of the first four books are done (there may be more, if it’s popular enough), and I’m working on getting the first one, The Scarlet Cavern ready for release.  What you see up there is a portion of the pencil sketch for the cover. The other covers are also in the works from the awesome Kenshjn Park, and I’m really happy with how they’re shaping up.

So, as promised, I’m going to post some preview chapters from The Scarlet Cavern starting today. Hope you enjoy it.

[Update: This reflects the current WIP, which is pretty close to the release version.]


1. 

I came out of a gray fog of unconsciousness to find myself lying on my face.

Under me was a layer of loose, sandy dirt. My head throbbed. Groaning in pain, I reached around to the back of my skull, feeling where I’d hit something during the fall. I felt a sizable lump, but my hands came back clean. There was no blood. That was something.

I looked up, realizing that I was on the floor of a cave. The area around me was dimly lit from the opening above where I’d fallen through. 

I sat up slowly and spent a few moments assessing my injuries. My back ached, and I seemed to have struck my shoulder and left arm on the rocks. A lot of me hurt, but nothing appeared to be broken. 

I stared upward out of the darkness. I’d fallen at least ten feet, bouncing off the sides of the cave on the way down. There was an old, gnarled tree root near the opening that was likely what I’d hit my head on.

A light rain fell through the hole, and the smooth walls of the cave were getting wet as they caught the drops. Climbing out would be difficult in the best of circumstances, which these definitely were not.

I checked my phone. Nothing. There was no signal down here.

As my head began to clear, I looked around for a way out. There was a boulder I could get my feet up onto, but from there, I could not reach any handholds. Every time I tried to climb out, I found myself sliding back down on the slick rock. I tried jumping toward the tree root, but even after I took my backpack off, it stayed at least a foot out of reach. 

I had a decent amount of climbing experience, but I had no gear and my skills were pretty rusty. My ex-wife Jacqueline hated that hobby of mine, and I hadn’t done anything serious in at least ten years. But rusty or not, no amount of skill can compensate for a complete lack of purchase. 

I had no rope, but maybe there was some other way to haul myself out. I dug through my pack for possibilities. I decided that the rainfly on my tent might be long enough to reach the opening. I tied a rock to one end and tossed it up. All it did was bounce back down.

After several tries, the problem was clearly getting it to hook securely on the edge. What could I use? After a moment or two, I had an idea. 

I spent a few minutes tying my tent stakes together into a makeshift grapple. That worked – the first throw easily caught on the tree root. But when I put some weight on it, the aluminum stakes just bent and came free. 

Two hours earlier, I’d dropped my kids off with Jacqueline. 

Now I was at the bottom of a hole with no way out, and no ideas about what to do. 

Which seemed about right. It fit pretty well with the rest of my life at the moment. 

“Bye, Daddy!” 

I hugged my daughter Cassie and stood up as she turned and ran to the doorway, where her mother had already scooped up her brother Hunter. Jacqueline and I exchanged the same look we did every time I dropped my kids off, me pretending to be civil and her pretending I had any reason to be.

“I’ll see you next week, guys.”

Jacqueline gave me a polite smile and a quick wave.

“Bye, Will.”

Behind her, her husband Richard looked my direction, but I ignored him as I always did. We rarely if ever spoke, not that there was much to say after he broke up our marriage. It still gnawed at me that their affair had gone on as long as it had. 

Part of that was on me. I had been willfully blind, trusting her excuses and explanations long after I should have gotten suspicious.

I walked back to my car as they went inside. Jacqueline and I shared custody, and I’d had the kids for the past four days. She had them this weekend, so I was going out of town on a campout. Because when the rest of your life sucks, one way of dealing with it is thinking up a new one. 

I was heading off for three days up in the mountains with my live-action roleplaying (LARP) group, hiking around the Cleveland National Forest. Since we would be on public land, we’d planned it as a low-key affair so as not to alarm people. Just the seven of us, dressing up and rolling dice as we hiked up and down the mountain. 

It was part role-playing, part camping and drinking in the woods. The rest of the group was already on their way to our campsite, but I told them I’d be late because I had to drop my kids off with Jacqueline after work. 

The trip from Jacqueline’s house up into the Laguna Mountains above San Diego took about an hour and a half of driving through mesquite and scrub oak before the pine forest began around 4,000 feet. I finally turned off the state highway into the parking lot just after 5:00. 

I bought a Forest Service pass at the gate and found a parking place near the trailhead. There were a few people there, but I tried to ignore their looks as I got into costume. 

Our current campaign was a fantasy-steampunk pastiche, and I’d envisioned my character as a sort of samurai-artificer. Part of my outfit was a replica katana I bought as a divorce present for myself. It was a well-made Chinese knock-off rather than anything authentically Japanese, so it wasn’t period-correct by any means. The blade was simple carbon steel instead of traditional tamahagane, but it looked nice and honed to a very sharp edge. Since our LARPing was about role-playing rather than mock combat, it didn’t matter that I was carrying an arguably deadly weapon on my back.

The rest of my costume consisted of a suit of armor I’d made in my garage. In-game, it was supposed to be “green dragon scale plate armor,” but it had ended up looking more like a green stormtrooper suit, minus the helmet and gauntlets – only less neat and symmetrical because I’d made it by hand, piece by piece over six months, out of colored carbon fiber and epoxy resin. Even though the end result was fairly rough – my attempts to create a scale-like surface hadn’t really worked – I was proud of the effort I’d put into it. It worked well enough as armor without being too heavy for hiking, and the green carbon fiber looked reptilian enough for my purposes.

Once I was suited up, I slung my backpack over my shoulders and started out. Our campsite was about three miles up the trail, where the rest of the group was presumably waiting for me, patiently or not. I hadn’t been to this particular spot before, but I had a trail map and our gamester (GM) assured me it was well-marked and not hard to find. 

The trail was level for the first half-mile before I reached the spur leading up to our campsite. From there, it was a fairly steep series of switchbacks going further up the mountain. I leaned forward and just focused on the climb. 

Once it dawned on me that my marriage was over and I could start dating women who weren’t determined to make me the most miserable person on Earth, I’d made a concerted effort to get myself back into dating form. Like lots of people dealing with a major emotional upheaval, I’d gone completely overboard.

I revamped my diet, started working out and running, and when I felt up to it, joined a local crossfit gym. I went on the long-distance hikes Jacqueline had never liked me doing. I even got back into the martial arts I enjoyed as a teen, when I earned a black belt in Shaolin karate and weapons my last year of high school.

I definitely got myself back into physical shape. After a year, though, I realized I was still putting off the emotional work. Getting my six-pack back was no help when I was still an emotional mess.

I had dreams of dating and screwing all sorts of hot girls in their twenties, but I’d gotten nowhere trying to make it happen. This was largely because I could never figure out the right approach to online dating, and I was using the few women who connected with me as unpaid therapists. In a year, I managed four dates, none of them repeats, and no sex.

So when a friend of mine mentioned his LARP group – I’d been into role-playing games as a kid too – the prospect of a fantasy world off in the wilderness seemed attractive. I’d been playing with them ever since. Maybe I’d figure out something up in the mountains, maybe not, but it was something to do besides stare at the walls of my apartment.

I got myself into a steady pace where my head was emptying all my work and love-life crap behind me, and I was feeling a bit overly proud of how fit I was now, when I heard a distant rumble across the valley. 

Shit. Our GM warned us that the weather forecast predicted a chance of rain tonight, but being the bold adventurers we were, we’d decided to tough it out. And as I looked out toward the ocean, there was definitely a squall rolling in. I stopped to dig a poncho out of my backpack and threw it over myself.

I got another quarter mile up the trail before heavy drops of rain began to fall. It wasn’t a downpour, but the trail and forest around me was rapidly growing wet. I slowed my pace to avoid slipping but I had a good pair of hiking boots, so I kept going.

A few minutes later, I encountered a split in the trail. I stopped to look at the map, but I was pretty sure where I was, and no branch was apparent. Which way was I supposed to go? Both trails were thin and led off beyond my sight. One angled uphill, the other slightly downhill. I looked for tracks from my friends, but the rain had obscured whatever might have been there. 

After thinking it over and not wanting to get any wetter, I chose the uphill trail, deciding that these were likely two branches of the same trail that came together further ahead.

The trail took a sharp turn up the hill, and I was soon clambering up a half-buried pile of rocks. I was about to turn around when I got to the top and saw a clear trail leading down the ridge. I paused to enjoy the view inland and noticed some kind of cave about ten feet down the other side. There was an opening in the hillside about four feet across leading down into darkness.

Caves were fairly rare up here, but not unheard of. This one didn’t look terribly interesting even if I’d had the time to check it out. 

I turned to continue down the trail, but the cave had distracted me enough that I misjudged my next step. What I assumed was solid ground was in fact a loose stone that gave way under my foot. A split-second later, I lost my balance with all the gear on my back, and I fell backwards onto the hillside. I reached out to my sides, trying to gain some purchase, but the muddy ground slipped away under my fingers. 

As I slid faster down the slope, I realized I was heading straight for the cave opening. I shot my arm out toward a dead branch and caught hold of it, only to have it snap off in my hand. 

I slipped rapidly down into the cave. Something hit my head and everything went black.


I’ll post chapter 2 next week.

I’m Back (?!)

Like everyone else, my life this year has been upended by the coronavirus, and I’ve been working from home since late March. One of the things about WFH is that it allows you  more flexibility in arranging your day, as well as saving time on commutes. That also means more flexibility in writing.

During the last period I was writing regularly, from about 2014–2016, I was working from home. But I changed jobs in 2017, and with it went realistic time for writing. That’s (partly) why haven’t followed up with the Twin Magic and Dark Web series (more on that below).

But in early July, I got bitten by the writing bug again, and I’ve been feverishly working on a new series. This series I’m not going to publish until it’s done, so I won’t be leaving people hanging like I’ve done in the past.

What is it? Very generally, it’s an alien/sci-fi harem adventure that I’m calling The Makalang. The first book is called The Scarlet Cavern, and it follows some familiar tropes in the harem genre, starting with “the main character is transported to a world full of horny women.” But I’ve been working hard to put a fresh spin on things. If you’re familiar with my past work, you probably have an idea of what’s in store. There’s some explicit sex, but it’s not erotica.

I’ve not been shy in the past about calling out failings in the various genres I’ve written in, and Harem-lit has its share of failings. In particular, I’ve spent quite a bit of time and effort on the world-building here, because too many works in this genre don’t really think through all the implications of their worlds. If you’ve got a setting that’s 99% female (as this one is), that is a society that is not going to operate like the one we live in. That’s a change that’s going to affect almost everything, including a lot of things that the tropes in the genre depend on. There’s a lot more. Whether I succeeded here, I’ll leave to my readers.

The good news is that I have completed drafts of Book 1, as well as Book 2, The Black Sky, and Book 3, The Golden Staff. The fourth and (I think) last book I’m still sketching out, and I don’t have a title for it yet. Each book so far is about 50,000 words. I’m going to be posting some excerpts from The Crystal Cave over the next few weeks.

I’ve commissioned cover art for the series from the awesome Kenshjn Park, and I’m really excited to see what he comes up with. I’ll post sketches and the covers as they come in.

When is it coming? I’m hoping to release The Crystal Cave some time in late September, and the other books about 2-3 months apart. That’s going to depend on what the beta readers think, as well as getting Book 4 done first, since again, I’m not releasing anything it until it’s all finished.


So, about Twin Magic. I realized with the third installment that I’d bitten off way too much with this series. I’ve written about 25,000 words, but I’ve had to conclude that there’s no realistic chance I’m going to finish it in the near future. The narrative got stuck in a place I can’t really get myself out of because of what Book 3 is about. And there’s so much left to write that I haven’t been able to get myself into it again.

The Dark Web series is probably dead as well. I was disappointed in the sales for Spider, and though I started the sequel, Scorpion, I have considerably less of it done and even less of an idea of where it might go.

So if you’ve been waiting patiently for either or both of these, I apologize for abandoning them. It’s just a thing that happens with writing.