Saturday, September 21, 2019

The original Mark of the Castle Outline

I was organizing my studio and came across this tattered old document.  As we’re coming upon the one year anniversary of Mark of the Castle, I thought it would be a perfect time to share the original outline.  

As I completed each chapter, I would fill in the chapter number with a scribble of pen.  The yellow, green, and lavender backgrounds denote the three acts of the story.  I always had a solid path, but I wandered on and off it as the plot evolved.  I’m a very digital person, but sometimes I just need something physical to grip onto and reassure myself that I am moving forward.  This document was only ever intended for my eyes.  It’s not spell-checked, half-thoughts are scribbled, but this is as close to my brain as you can get.

So without further introduction, this is the Mark of the Castle that could have been. :-)

Click here to view the six page outline in full-screen mode.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Spring 2019 Q & A

Here are the top Q & A’s from this convention season:

Is there a third book?  When is it coming out?

Yes! There is a third and fourth book in the works.  I’ve moved past outlining and have written approximately one hundred pages as a skeleton draft for both books. This initial document is essentially a collection of arguments.  There are no transitions from chapter to chapter, sparse descriptions, very little setting other than castle or basement or mall.  This draft is a lot like a sketch, I can move things around quickly and trash unnecessary scenes without wasting time.

When I wrote Mark of the Castle, I learned a harsh lesson on book release dates.  I couldn’t predict death, car accidents, depression, babies, or brain tumors.  So I’ll just say I’m progressing forward towards an undefined deadline.  Just stay with me, keep sharing your books, and I promise you there is more story to come.

Will book four be the end of the series?

Book four will be the end of Jessica’s high school plot arc, but not the end of the series!  Other novels I hope to write include The Dreamspinner’s Journey, which will be the story of how Misa travels to Polaris to gain the knowledge to unlock the Gate.  After that I would like to move either forward in time and write the next story in Jessica’s life or go back to the 1980s when Lily and Beatrix were teenagers. Also on the horizon are an art book/world guide and audio book.

What cons will you be traveling to?

My children are very young so my con schedule is deliberately sparse.  I have been invited as a guest artist and panelist for Anime Boston 2020, so I will be there next April.  I’ll be at Salt City Comic Con in Syracuse, NY in July 2019.  In November,  I’ll be at Night Market in the Sky Armory, (also Syracuse).  I’m open to any con guest invites and love giving panels and lectures.

I bought your book online, will you sign it at a convention?

I want to cosplay Centernia, are there art references for it? is the most comprehensive guide to Centernia art at the moment, as well as this blog.  I’m trying to change this and put together more quick sketches like the two below.  


Why is there so much conflict between the Holy Circus and the Mages?
This topic will be explored more in the next book.  It comes down to political control.  Hundreds of years ago, the Auroriate Circus was heavily populated with mages.  When Castle Nova established the centralized Polaris Academy in the Katanzaarko region, the mages were slowly pulled from the Circus.  Even though the mages now are the ultimate governing body, the Auroriates have a powerful reach into the daily lives of the people.  Every village has a temple that serves as a solid social anchor.  The traveling circuses add to their appeal and strength.  The Holy Circus is able to reach normal people in a way mages simply can’t.  The mages know this and find it irksome.  The mages also have ties to earth and are aware of Christianity and the plethora of religions of this land, which weakens their faith in the Goddess Aurora.  Though not necessarily atheist, mages tend to be more skeptical.  They look down on Auroriates just as the Auroriates view them as elitist.   

How is your health?
My brain tumor is not out to kill me at the moment, so we’re good.  Radiation has stopped its growth.  I have yearly MRIs to check on it.  My facial nerve it stable, my balance is good, and I’m mostly deaf in one ear.  For a person with a tumor on their brain stem, I really can’t complain.  

This June, in celebration of my birthday, I’m launching a new campaign.  There are over 1,000 physical copies of Return to the Castle in the world.  I would love nothing more than for these copies to be loaned out to friends.  If you have a well-loved book, please, please, share it!  

Monday, April 15, 2019

Depression in Centernia

"Centernia is realistic fantasy."  This is a phrase that's been repeated to me many times during convention conversations.  Centernia hits on a variety of heavy topics...divorce, drug abuse, sexuality, economic imbalance...all wrapped up in a wild tale of magic and mayhem. I would like to analyze a few of these topics in greater depth, starting with depression.    

*****Book 1 & 2 Spoilers Ahead*****


Nico is a character who experiences an inordinate amount of trauma.  At the end of Return to the Castle, his parents are dead, Misa is dead, he's been doomed to a life without physical intimacy and he's about to become enslaved in the Mines of Briken.  At the opening of Mark of the Castle, we can add torture, physical maiming, and an encounter with a Sinari woman.  He’s hunted by mages and he fears that returning home may put Teren in danger.  There's not much more that could be done to torture this man.

Through all of Return to the Castle, we established that Nico is generally a very logical, clever and resourceful person.  In response to his tenuous situation, he could hide in the forest, obscure his identity, and send a message to his friends.  What does he do instead?

He attempts suicide.


The cocktail of depression and PTSD.

Many protagonists in sci-fi and fantasy remain unscathed by the mental aftermath of the traumas they have survived, and if they do suffer, it’s mentioned in passing.  Nico is not one of them.  The shattered pieces of his life continuously jab at his psyche and dominate most of Mark of the Castle.

After Nico's suicide attempt is foiled, he’s set on the path to return home.  Again, he doesn’t take the opportunity to reach out for help.  His mental state obscures his better judgment and he becomes stuck in Yellow Valley until Jessica and Jared discover him.  Panicking, he lashes out.  He attacks Jessica and seriously wounds Jared in an act of hostility we can attribute to his PTSD. Jessica finally gets through to him by evoking Misa’s name, and it seems his deceased friend is his only tie to mental stability.

At this point, I’d like to mention Nico’s right eye, which becomes a symbol of his mental state.  In Chapter One, we learned that it was so badly damaged he’s unable to open it.  In Yellow Valley, it’s still severely injured.

Nico and Jessica eventually end up in the hands of the Holy Circus where Nico receives one more emotional kick: his father had remarried and had a hidden family.  He is clearly unhappy about this discovery, avoids his new family, and is prickly when Jessi asks about them.

Odd family situation aside, with the circus Nico finally has a chance to breathe. Aunt Dahlia promises to keep him hidden.  He’s in this sanctuary with Jessi, the one person he’s physically attracted to.

How does he react?

By lashing out, remaining socially withdrawn and lethargic.

“I don’t understand you,” Jessica scowled. “Why are you so angry all of a sudden?”
“I want to be left in peace.” 
“But you’ve been locked away for so long, and all you want to do now is hide in a tent?!”

Nico remains in this state for many chapters until they return to the mining town of Briken, the origin of his despair.  Jessica experiences the toxicity of the poisoned town and burns her throat in the acid rain.  Nico offers her a mild antidote in the Plookory eggs.  He talks about the ph levels of the yolks and his old analytical side comes through.  After drinking the concoction, they converse about their previous relationship and Jessica feels hope that her friend is not entirely lost. 

“It was like a tiny crack in the wall with just a sliver of light.”

A few days later, Nico saves his brother Reese from the needlewasp eggs.  He relies on his logic and knowledge to figure out the source of his brother's fever.  He experiences a major turning point as he sidesteps tragedy and receives sincere gratitude from his father's family.

As his Reese recovers, Nico repairs a clock, gaining the attention of his brethren who are eager to have someone with his mechanical skills.  Nico starts going through behaviors that are more normal as he is tasked to repair the gadgets of the circus.  He finds peace in the work, so much so that he attempts to rekindle his relationship with Jessica by taking her to the dance at Watersglade.  Despite his improvement, he is not cured of his mental health disorder. At the dance, Nico experiences severe anxiety and panics in the crowded underwater ballroom.  Jessica confronts him in the park outside.  He speaks to her about an emotional state anyone with depression knows too well.

“Why did you stop loving me?” she asked.
The question was strange.
His feelings for her had never truly vanished, but had greyed like all of his life.
“I forced myself to eat the cake tonight,” he said suddenly.
Jessica crinkled her face, waiting for his explanation.
“I made myself eat the cake. I know it was good cake, the logical side of my brain said it was good cake. I felt nothing from it, no euphoria, no warm happiness, all the little emotions that go with that first bite of a wonderful piece of cake. I have no appetite for any food. I ate it because I knew you would be sad and ask me why. So, I ate the cake, and pretended I liked it.”
“Okay, so I’m cake,” Jessica smiled at the absurdity of the metaphor, “but this is all of life for you?”
Nico nodded.
“But you are not cake,” he insisted, “and I refuse to lie to you because it would be cruel.”

Several times, Jessica mentions ways to help him, including medication from earth and empathic intervention through Teren.  He shies away from both, fearing a greater mental crash like the one that had destroyed his mother.

Eventually, Nico's friends come to find them in their Holy Circus hiding.  After a brief separation, Nico returns to Aurumice.  As he walks on the castle grounds, we learn that his right eye has gotten a bit better and he’s able to see blurry forms again. 

Hidden in the castle, he comes to terms with another source of his depression, his father’s death. His “eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room” as he explores his father’s untouched office and old memories.  This line is a direct contrast to the opening chapters where his eye is unable to handle the shift in light. 

In Aurumice, Nico’s powers re-emerge slowly and he gains confidence. The castle in danger, he regains a sense of duty.  On the eve of the fight with the needlewasps, he reaches out to Jessica.  She welcomes him, bringing down his fear of intimacy.  His character takes another step towards recovery.

In the midst of the needlewasp battle, he’s reunited with his old friend Savina.  She asks him what happened to his eye, and he replies ‘it’s better than it was.’

In the last chapter of the book, Nico finally experiences freedom as the weight of the Aurumician debt is lifted from his shoulders.  To symbolize his healing, “his eyes traveled up to the crystal apex of the ballroom.”  There’s no mention of the damage and we can assume his wound has healed.  
Nico will always bear the scar over his eye, and I’m certain there will be moments when the shadows of his past will creep up again.  I hope that Mark of the Castle takes the reader on a realistic journey through depression.


On a personal level, I wrote Mark of the Castle when recovering from post-partum depression.  My right eye is permanently nerve damaged due to my brain tumor.  Nico’s struggles are my own, and his triumph likewise echos my recovery. 

Email me or comment if you’d like to hear more in-depth plot analysis like this article! Your feedback is meaningful!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Genericon 2019 Changed my Life

On Friday afternoon I dropped my kids off at my parents’ house, loaded up the car, and traveled I-90 with Octostar Creations for Genericon 2019.  We came back late last night in a blustery and rainy wind storm and I am still in awe of this weekend.

I’ve been to Genericon in 2015, and 2017, it’s one of my favorite college cons.  This time was a very different experience.


It was my first returning con with Mark of the Castle.  The response was insane, to put it mildly.  I was approached by dozens of fans with stories I never expected to hear, from a mom who secretly purchased the book for her daughter and photographed her reaction to someone who had used the morality of Centernia as a topic for a college assignment.  I was approached by artists, aspiring audiobook narrators, and clusters of friend groups who had been passing around a copy of Centernia for years.  There were people who had bought it at other cons, including NYCC 2014, the year I launched this fledgling endeavor.   Four years is a long time to wait and maintain hope and excitement.

I also gained a huge insight into the internet from this experience.  Again and again, I heard how people were checking my website and sundry of social media feeds, waiting for updates.  They knew about my kids, my brain tumor, and everything I had gone through since 2014.  As a content creator, I thrive off of feedback, and I realized that these were people who were silently watching, not always liking or commenting or emailing, but still there.  This shouldn’t surprised me, there are dozens of content creators I have religiously followed for years, and I love them though I’ve never sent a single email or posted a comment.  I am content being the fan who admires from afar.  Centernia has these in greater numbers than I had imagined.

I have more content to share with these people.  Years of artwork stockpiled, because I didn’t think it was good enough, world guides, unpublished blog posts, so much Centernia that I didn’t think people would care about.  Clearly my imposter syndrome got the better of me.

I will be more diligent about blog posts and sharing art!

And YES, book three is happening. There it is, on my playroom wall, between the clouds and the massive collection of legos.  The actual chapters are being written.

It’s coming, no promises when, but it will happen.

And now, I happily update the Centernia Con List, commemorating over a thousand copies sold...

Roc Con 2014

New York Comic Con 2014
Youmacon 2014
Tora Con 2015
Anime Boston 2015
Genericon 2015
Sci Fi Valley Con 2015
UB Mini Con 2015
Cosplay Snowfest 2015
Another Anime Con 2016
Genericon 2017
Flower City Comic Con 2017
Tora Con 2017
Flower City Comic Con 2018
Salt City Comic Con 2018
Wizarding Weekend Ithaca 2018
Genericon 2019

Out in Texas, thanks to MIRANDA BLAKELY for sharing Centernia to new fans at:
Comicpalooza 2015
Dallas FanExpo 2015
Sci-Fi Fest San Antonio 2015
San Antonio Indie Book Fest 2015

In downstate NY, thanks to CATHY RAZIM and her husband JOE PIETRUCH for being ultimate 
Centernia evangelists at:
Eternal Con 2015
WinterCon 2016
First Con-tact 2016 
Flower City Comic Con 2016
Sci Fi Valley Con 2016 
East Meadow Comic Con 2016
EveryCon 2016
East Hampton Pop Expo 2016
Fan World 2016
Fandemicon 2016
Immortal Con 2016
Syracuse Hot Summer Expo 2016
Roc Con 2018
FC3 Mini Con 2018

And finally, look for me at Anime Boston 2019 and Salt City Comic Con 

Monday, February 18, 2019

February 2019 Update

Two new releases of my artwork to hit store shelves within the past several weeks!  I have a collection of four unicorns available through Pacific Trading Co and the Dragon Valley Puzzle from Ravensburger.

Monday, December 17, 2018

December 2018 Update

A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders at the completion of Mark of the Castle.

So what's next?

The Agent Search 

My illustration work is represented by an amazing agent who has brought unreal opportunities.  Unfortunately, he doesn't handle the literary side.  I've decided it's time to seek out literary agents to bring Centernia to the next level.  I know it's a long shot and I will continue to build the universe regardless if the series ever sees big-time publication.  Much of my time this past month was centered on sending out query letters.


A few months ago I listened to a Pete Mohrbacher video on the value of getting up early, ( You Tube- One Fantastic Week ).  Mohrbacher is a fantasy illustrator who champions the idea of creating your own IP and taking control of your projects.

I took Mohrbacher's advice and started getting up before my kids a little over a month ago.  5-10 hours of work time were hiding in my week!  I also bit the bullet and joined a gym that had sitter service, buying me another 5-10 work time.  With these hidden hours I've started an illustration workflow that should enable me to start outputting more art for Centernia.

Book Three

I'm building out the scaffold for the third book in the series, which will take the reader to Jessi's graduation from high school.  Between Return and Mark of the Castle I discovered my writing process was too inefficient to ever finish the series.  I tightened up my workflow significantly and improved the outlining process.  I make no promises of the release date for the third book, but I hope it's not going to be another four years.  It's in progress!  Look, there's even a Spotify playlist for it, with a ton of symphonic metal.

Convention Updates 2019

New England fans will be happy to know that I've landed a spot at Anime Boston, April 19th -21th at the Hynes Convention Center.  AB was a HUGE con for Centernia in 2014 and I haven't been able to make it since, (because kids...brain...etc...).  I'll be there with tons of new fantasy art and of course, Mark of the Castle.

Friday, October 5, 2018

October 2018

What a crazy whirlwind it's been!  There are so many exclamation marks in this post!!!!

1. The Book

Centernia: Mark of the Castle is complete!!!  Scheduled release is this late October/early November!!!!!!!!!  Mark is 530 pages of magic, mayhem and drama edited by the amazing Keith R.A.DeCandido

2. Appearance Schedule

Wizarding Weekend Ithaca, October 26, 27 & 28th will be my big fall show.  I'll be giving a panel talk on worldbuilding and selling in the Artist Atrium.  WE WILL ALSO HAVE A LIMITED NUMBER OF SIGNED COPIES OF MARK OF THE CASTLE.  Come early to snag your copy!!!!

The same weekend as Wizarding, my artist friend Cat Razim will have copies at Flower City Minicon.  An even smaller number of signed copies will be available, though I will not be there.

3. Fantasy Art Projects

This is the source of most of my awesome crazy.  This year has been my year for fantasy art.  In 2019 you can expect to see dragon puzzles released from Ravensburger, unicorn puzzles from Lafayette Puzzle Company, unicorn figurines from Pacific Trading Co and soooooooo much more.  A ton of my time has been absorbed into creating these pieces, and though they're not Centernia-specific, if you're a fan of fantasy, follow and all my social media for updates

4. Goodreads

We're still looking for fans to rate Return to the Castle and write reviews.  A paragraph of your time makes Centernia that much stronger.

5. My Brain

Statistically speaking, I'm not dying.  I'm mostly deaf in one ear now, my face is half numb and occasionally my balance sucks.  I feel like I should be more down about it, but I'm mostly like, hey, MRI technology saved my life.  Tumor is still in my head, and in theory it should shrink down and behave itself.

6. The Future

Now that the book is done, expect more art and a collection of short stories. :-D

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 2017

Hello!  A lot of behind-the-scenes action going on.
First and foremost, on October 2nd we welcomed our little 9lb pumpkin Enzo.  He's our little zen baby, and he brings this peaceful aura wherever he goes....though of course, that simply may be the contrast of newborn baby vs. our tornado of a toddler.

Before Enzo was born, I was able to get the Centernia sequel into the hands of the beta readers.  I've received some of the feedback already, and overall I'm really pleased with what people have to say. There are minor adjustments to be made, but overall it sounds like the story had its intended impact and readers were happy.

While waiting for feedback, I've taken on other overdue projects.  Most notably, I wrapped up a new redesign for my art portfolio site,

Now that the book is approaching release, I can switch my focus from writing back to art, including Centernia art.

Kaity Cosette 2014 vs 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September 2017

Misa fanart from Ling Tang

The second book in the Centernia series is finally in the hands of beta readers!  The book was sent out to fourteen readers earlier afternoon.  They have until October 31st to provide their feedback.

I went blog silent for a few months because I knew I had to put all focus the book. If I didn't finish it before my son's arrival, I was looking at another year delay, and I refused to accept that! After I receive all the feedback, I'll tweak parts of the story then send the book to my editor.  There's a strong possibility that we will be having a pre-order, if not launch, for the holiday season.

My hours have been scarce between working part time and chasing my daughter. Almost every single toddler nap for the past year has been dedicated writing time.

As of this moment, I'm still awaiting my son and my tumor treatment, but with a lot less stress!!! Hah's just giving birth followed by brain surgery.  Somehow finishing this book was a little more monumental.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

So I have a brain tumor....

My Tumor

This is a very odd post that seems more like the stuff of fiction than fact.  I have a tumor growing out of my 8th cranial nerve, pressing on my brainstem.  Also, because that isn't exciting enough, I'm pregnant with my second child.

The Path to Diagnosis

I think it's important to share this story.  A vestibular schwannoma is a tumor that is apparently growing in popularity, despite Google classifying it as "very rare".  Symptoms can be confused for other things, such as anxiety and migraines.

My first clue something was amiss was in July of 2016.  The right corner of my mouth felt wet and cold, even though it wasn't.  The odd wet feeling came and went over the course of a week, then vanished.  I didn't see a doctor since it went away on its own.

A month later, I was vacationing and enjoying some amazing coastal shellfish.  The right side of my tongue started going numb and I was convinced I developed a shellfish allergy.  For the next several months I avoided shellfish.

In January, I found out I was pregnant with my second child.  I was very happy, until the weird mouth feeling came back accompanied by cold sensations on the right side of my face.  I saw my GP, who basically said, 'I don't have any idea what's wrong with you, but I'll give you a referral to a neurologist'.  While waiting for the neurology appointment, I developed subtle tinnitus in my right ear.

The initial neurologist I saw was terrible.  He insisted I didn't have MS repeatedly, even though I never asked about MS.   He said I couldn't have a tumor because the symptoms wouldn't have faded.  He said if I wasn't pregnant, I could have an MRI immediately, but since I was, I had to wait until after I delivered in September, (once again, this was January).  He proceeded to rattle of a long list of causes ranging from vitamin D deficiency, hormones or a dental issue.  Then he stated nothing was really wrong with me because I only had one symptom.  My MRI was scheduled for October and I was sent on my way.

Not happy with this lack of diagnosis, I explained my concerns to my midwife at my appointment a few weeks later.  I was told I could absolutely have an MRI, and it was one of the safest scans you could do during pregnancy, (without contrast of course).  She referred me to a perinatal specialist and also cleared me for a dental xray.  I had my dental xray, which showed nothing wrong.  I met with the perinatal specialist who referred me to a neurologist.  I waited another week and a half.

The second neurologist thought my symptoms warranted investigation and scheduled me for an MRI. Two weeks later, it was revealed I had an acoustic neuroma/vestibular schwannoma.  Growing out of my acoustic nerve, it's about the dimensions of a large grape.  Though the tumor itself is usually benign, the location is very nasty, placing it alongside of the vestibular nerve, the trigeminal nerve, and next to the brain.  As you can see from the MRI, mine is encroaching on my brainstem.  Being pregnant, my treatment is delayed, though I'm under close monitoring.

What can fans do to help?

I don't need any sort of fundraiser to pay for treatment.  What I really need is patience from fans.  I know it's not atypical to wait two years for a sequel, but it's been hard on me because I really want to tell you the rest of the story.  The first book was 115,000 words, this one is already pushing 170,000, and I can't wait to share the story.

I have already received kind messages about Centernia. I appreciate the emails, comments, and fan art.  It means a lot to me!  If you would like to do something more active to help, take the time to write a review on Goodreads, Amazon or any other outlet that reviews books.  These reviews help Centernia grow!!!

If you happen to be a convention dealer or artist and would like to help sell Centernia, please contact me.  I won't be able to do as many shows in the next year.

I'm editing every day.  At the moment, I'm grateful that my symptoms are very mild.  I'm much more fearful of my treatment, which can cause deafness, facial paralysis, vertigo and balance issues.  I'm really, really, trying to finish this book before I get to that.  I also could be lucky and have minimal side effects.  We don't know if the tumor will grow in the next several months and how difficult it may be to treat.    I'm going to remain optimistic, simply because being miserable really won't help anyone.  I appreciate the everyone's concern and understanding. :-)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tora Con Panel: World Building

This weekend I had the honor of delivering a panel at Tora Con on World Building and Indie Publication.

During the lecture, I spoke on the process I use to create a world.  As promised, here is the checklist of elements a creator needs to be aware of when building a believable fantasy universe.  By establishing and understanding these components, you'll ensure that your reader is immersed.

Social World

  • Economy & Trade
  • Tradition and Superstition
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • History
  • Prejudice
  • Distribution of Wealth

Physical World

  • Technology
  • Housing
  • Environment
  • Creatures
  • Everyday Annoyances
  • Hazards

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Centernia Q & A: Characters and Editors

Teren and Savina, forever apart but always together

Q and A: Questions from email and conventions

1. Who are your favorite characters?

I love all of my dysfunctional children, making it difficult to select a single favorite. Each character has evolved over the years, revealing their flaws and hidden strengths.  If really pressed, I would select the two characters who have never changed, Teren and Savina.

Savina has always been an arrogant antagonist, loyal to Aurumice, a pain in Jessi's side, and forever in love with Teren.  An outsider to the castle, she was brought to the castle under what was supposed to be a temporary arrangement. She has a rich Galbrian accent and constantly reminiscences of her childhood on the sea.

Teren has remained the cold and distant gentleman.  He is happy to share a bed with Savina, but never believes that she truly loves him.   In earlier drafts of Centernia, his mage strength was tied to his skills with a violin.  He could entrance a crowd by playing an aria. In later drafts, his emphatic abilities emerged.  With empathy and the ability to change a person's emotions, a greater loneliness emerged in Teren. He could see and feel love all around him, but questioned the sincerity of emotions anyone projected towards him.

2. How did you find an editor?

Centernia was to many different publishers in its inception in the late 90s.  Not surprisingly, it was rejected. In retrospect, it was a well-deserved rejection because the story was shallow, barely better than a cheap Disney knock-off.  There was no grit, no darkness and depth. The government of Trabalis was lovely.  The paradoxical Holy Circus did not exist.  Jessica lived a middle-class lifestyle with happily married parents. The castle was beautiful and pristine.  Nico was boring. It was just garbage. Ugh.  As I grew older, the story became darker and more unique.

I started doing conventions in 2013, only selling artwork. When I was approached about a table at NYCC for October 2014, I was psyched. I wanted to sell more than fan art.  I hired two editors, one prior to NYCC and one after, (more about those editions here).  I paid for the editors with all of my profits from selling art the previous year.

Years ago, I would have been uncomfortable with the idea of hiring someone to proofread my work (even though I knew it needed it), but I had impostor-syndrome.  'I'm not a real writer, I'm crazy to spend money on a real editor'.  I'm grateful that in my work as a graphic designer, I had already been hiring copy editors for client projects.  Editors were worth every penny.

I had checklists and spreadsheets on Return to the Castle, but the sequel has a more robust checklist. My two biggest sins the last time around were commas and word repetition, failures I'm not too eager to repeat.

I'm reviewing every single chapter and passing through each category separately for a total of 23 readings of teach chapter.  For those of you interested in editing your own works, here is the first column of the editing spreadsheet. :-)

Spell Check
1st editing
Pronoun reduction
'The' check (reducing the word the)
First word check (adding variation)
First word paragraph check (adding variation)
Repetition check
Comma usage check
Second Spell Check
Read Aloud
Character Voices
Day Time
New character intro description
Character twitches
Definition of unusual terms
Telling vs showing check
Conflict level
Action or Passive?
Reveal intensity
Viewpoint character?
Characters present
Time since previous chapter

Saturday, October 15, 2016


I'm spending the weekend out at Another Anime Con in Manchester, New Hampshire.  I've met some really nice people and sold half a case of Centernia  (with still one more day of con to go!). I also just read another very kind Amazon review from an anonymous reader who purchased a copy in Fan World Niagara. That review made me really, really, really happy and I'm reminded of how far we've come.

Centernia went on sale October two years ago.  I appreciate every single reader in a way I can barely communicate. To put this in perspective.... I have spent over half my life with Nico, Jessica, Teren and the rest of the castlefolk arguing in my brain.  When you, the reader, chose to spend hours invested inside the pages of the book, you see, hear, and feel everything I do.  I don't take this shared experience for granted.  It is true magic that ink on a piece of paper can bring you into the abandoned halls of Castle Aurumice.

I can't believe this journey has been two years in the making. Thank you to JACKIE  for being my traveling companion as we trek across the north eastern United States. I couldn't have done this without you.  I also NEED to THANK everyone who purchased at the following cons:

Roc Con 2014
New York Comic Con 2014
Youmacon 2014
Tora Con 2015
Anime Boston 2015
Genericon 2015
Sci Fi Valley Con 2015
UB Mini Con 2015
Cosplay Snowfest 2015
Another Anime Con 2016

Out in Texas, thanks to MIRANDA BLAKELY for sharing Centernia to new fans at:
Comicpalooza 2015
Dallas FanExpo 2015
Sci-Fi Fest San Antonio 2015
San Antonio Indie Book Fest 2015

In downstate NY, thanks to CATHY RAZIM and her husband JOE PIETRUCH for being ultimate
Centernia evangelists at:
Eternal Con 2015
WinterCon 2016
First Con-tact 2016 
Flower City Comic Con 2016
Sci Fi Valley Con 2016 
East Meadow Comic Con 2016
EveryCon 2016
East Hampton Pop Expo 2016
Fan World 2016
Fandemicon 2016
Immortal Con 2016
Syracuse Hot Summer Expo 2016

We know there are fans in the following states.  If your state isn't highlighted, reply to this post or email and I will add you!

The Sequel UPDATE

When I brought Centernia to NYCC in 2014, I told fans the sequel would be complete by year end 2015.  I made this estimate based on the fact that I had a solid outline and knew how long Return to the Castle had taken me.  Life decided to kick my ass, but I never stopped writing.  I'm really happy to announce that this week I finished the sequel. Nico is no longer trapped in synapses of my brain...he's trapped in the Mines of Briken, and you're so much closer to finding out how he escapes the oppressive darkness.

The crucible of editing is happening right now.  This is another lengthy process, but the nice thing about editing is I can bring other people on to help.  :-)

Thank you so much for your patience.  I promise there will be more novels, more short stories, an artbook, fun merchandise and a lot more world to explore.  They may not come next year, or the year after that, but if you check up on Centernia every once in a while, you won't be disappointed.