Through the Narrows Edits, Outlining Books 3 and 4—a Working Weekend with Evan Ronan

How many people can say they’re looking forward to working this weekend?

I can.

It’s not all that often that Evan Ronan and I get to hang out in person anymore, more’s the pity. Still, our friendship from years ago has made writing of the Tomahawk and Saber series pretty smooth, despite living in different states now.

This weekend, though, is a working weekend when we’ll be under the same roof. On the agenda:

– Some final, very close to FINAL final, edits for Through the Narrows. (That’s book 2 of the series if you haven’t been keeping score.) We’ve gotten some edits back from our editors and now’s the time to work on the final polishes.

– Even more exciting is doing the more detailed outlines for books 3 and 4 in the series. We’ve got some solid ideas and plot lines that we think are going to shake things up for our characters (read: make their lives miserable), and, we hope, for our readers (read: make them surprised, but hopefully not miserable).

– And also, we’ll probably drink some beer. Possibly cider in homage to the history of 18th century America. After all, I think it was after a few drinks that we had the idea for these books in the first place.

So yes, there’s work to be done. But it’s work I love. And also, I’ll get to have some drinks with a great friend.


Win a Signed Paperback of Language of the Bear Before you Can Buy It

Language_of_the_Bear_coverLanguage of the Bear is coming out in paperback!

And to celebrate, Evan Ronan and I are giving away 5 autographed copies!

To enter to win your own free, signed copy, just visit the giveaway page on Goodreads and click “Enter Giveaway” by Saturday the 20th. 

*Insert Arnold Schwarzennegger voice: Do it! Do it now!*


Yes, there actually is. Here are those more things:

1) We’re offering 100 free ebooks to people willing to post an honest review on their favorite site. If you’re on LibraryThing, there’s a current offer for reviewers of LOTB.  These reviews are extremely helpful for us, and I hope you’ll consider entering for one of the books.

You’ll need to click this link and then search the text for “Language of the Bear” to find and request it among the gargantuan list of giveaways. While you’re there, why not search for other keywords to find some other books you might like to read?

2) The second book in the Tomahawk and Saber series, Through the Narrows, is coming out at the end of this month.

We’re keeping pretty close-lipped on the description and cover art for a big reveal just before the launch, though if you join my email list, you’ll get a peek before anyone else.

We’re pretty sure that if you liked LOTB, you’re going to like TTN, too. Here’s a teaser from Evan’s blog:

In the second book of the Tomahawk & Saber series, Wolf Tongue and Pyke find themselves defending a less-than-deserving small town on the Pennsylvania frontier against a vastly superior force of Mingos who are out for blood.

If you’re a fan of history, adventure, and good old-fashioned character-driven action stories, then you should check these books out. They’re fast, fun, violent, and at times brutal.

Go forth and win lots of books, people!

It’s Book Release Day for Language of the Bear!

Brace yourselves, dear readers, for duels, battles, scalping, backstabbing, blackmailing, broken hearts, and general mayhem, because …


Language of the Bear is available now!

This is the first book in a historical fiction series written by me and Evan Ronan. We like to say it’s Lethal Weapon meets Last of the Mohicans. (You can see the full description and sample chapters on the Amazon link above.)

Fun, right? Well, we thought so. I had an amazing time and learned so much working with Evan on this book. We had so much fun, in fact, that we’re already almost finished with the next in the Tomahawk and Saber series, Through the Narrows, and looking down the barrel at a third.

You can find Language of the Bear on Goodreads here and for purchase at

Language of the Bear Cover Reveal!

The artwork is here and it’s fantastic!

Many thanks to our great designer for all the effort she put into making this beauty:


I could go on at length about how much I love the cover and why I think it captures the vibe and feeling of Language of the Bear. But instead, I’ll just leave this here for you to check out … what do you think?

By the way, LOTB will be out as an ebook tomorrow! Watch for a link to get your own copy as soon as it’s officially available!

Historical Fiction Research and Chapter One for Language of the Bear

Language of the Bear is THIS close to publication! We had some back and forth with our editor for a bit, and are now finalizing edits and cover art.

And because publication is so close, I want you to start reading it.

I’ll be sending out the first chapter free to you lovely people on my mailing list. If you’re already on my it (thank you!), you’ll get an email in the next few days. But if you’re not,

click here to get on my list before the book comes out and I’ll send you chapter one of Language of the Bear.

And don’t worry about getting hammered with emails—I don’t send newsletters often or bombard you with nonsense. I’ll generally only email you when there’s actual news, special announcements or deals.

LOTB is getting so close I can smell the campfires, but the writing goes on for other projects. And everything that goes along with the writing, like the research so key in historical fiction.

Here comes the summer reading.

Here comes the summer reading.

LOTB is the first novel in the Tomahawk & Saber series and it takes place in the days just before the French and Indian War. And then the second book, Through the Narrows, brings our heroes even closer to the actual war. (It’s sometimes called the Seven Years War, which is odd because it’s generally marked as 1754 – 1763. You do the math).

Then the untitled THIRD book … well, I won’t tell you exactly. But suffice to say, I’m redoubling my efforts at research for the French and Indian War and all the goings-on around it.

Of course, I’ve been reading books about Colonial history, Native American tribes of the eastern woodlands, and all that goes along with that era for a long time. Especially during the writing of LOTB, there was a lot of digging for historical details again.

But that book largely takes place on the frontier, away from much of what makes it into history books. Now, though, as Evan Ronan and I are finishing the plotting for the third book, we’re both refreshing our history and getting some additional research in to really make this era and story come alive.

I’ve got a stack of books to start with. Some I’ve read before, others not. And the research begins in earnest as soon as LOTB is published.

(I say that as if it’s an onerous task. Really, I get to sit and read about exciting history and people. … Good work, if you can get it.)

My Book’s Coming Out Next Month! Wanna Know What it’s About?

You guys! Guess what! I have a book coming out!

(You can tell I’m excited because I almost never use exclamation points.)

To make a long story short, I wrote a historical adventure with my friend Evan Ronan, and after a few near misses at traditional publishing and lots of good, personal feedback, we decided to publish it ourselves.

Right now, we’re doing the final polish of the manuscript after receiving comments from our editor, and our very talented designer is working up cover art—I’m sure I’ll show that off quite soon.

That means we’re on the final leg of producing the novel, and …

Language of the Bear will be available through Amazon in ebook in April, and print in May.

The genesis of the book and our decision to publish it ourselves is a long story that I’ll get into another day.

But for now, here’s what our book’s about:

In the hostile wilderness of Colonial America, a young Native American warrior and a British officer are forced into a secret assassination mission. But when they learn their prey is more dangerous than they feared, can they complete their mission, protect a dying tribe, confront a madman, and still survive?

With war rumbling on the horizon, Lieutenant Hugh Pyke arrives in the Pennsylvania Colony hoping to prove himself against the French. Instead, he finds himself blackmailed into a dishonorable mission to assassinate the cousin of the woman he loves.

Wolf Tongue, a brash warrior of a dying tribe, volunteers to guide Pyke through the dangers of both the landscape and its indigenous nations. Even as he fights to protect his people from European and Native invaders, he struggles to earn the respect of those he would save.

An action-filled, old-fashioned adventure, Language of the Bear is the first novel in the Tomahawk and Saber series.

And yes, this is the first novel in the series. In addition to working with final edits on Language of the Bear, we’re also wrapping up the second book (tentatively titled Through the Narrows), which is slated for release in May.

If you’re on Goodreads and this sounds like something you might dig, please add it to your to-be-read list, because it’ll certainly make these two guys smile. 

Tasting Outside Your Genre—of Books and Burgers

Every writer knows they’re supposed to read books from different areas of the bookstore.

Wait, no. Every reader knows that, too, or at least has heard the recommendation to read widely.

The advice goes something like this:

“You write sci-fi/mystery/romance/YA/whatever? Read everything, old and new, in your genre. Then read lots of stuff in other genres.”

Or, alternately for readers who have less interest in writing:

“You like westerns/fantasy/literary fiction/whatever? Try something different to expand your horizons.” 

Basically, that thing you like? Read lots of it. Then also read EVERYTHING ELSE!

But, wait … that’s a lot of stuff. One estimate is that there were more than a million print books published in 2013. That’s in the US, in one year, and only print books. How can you possibly keep up?

Well, you can’t.

And there’s the problem with the suggestion of reading outside your genre. If you love reading fantasy (like me), you want lots of it. So you go and you gorge on George RR Martin, JRR Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Robert Jordan, and the like. Then you might dig into older stuff like Robert E Howard and Fritz Lieber. And once you hit some of the big names, you move on to the deep tracks of lesser-known authors who still offer incredible stories and great writing. Because there are thousands of people telling different, amazing stories in every genre, you always have something new to read.

It’s like cheeseburgers. Yes, burgers. They’re delicious and fill you with happiness. There’s an incredible variety of of how they’re made, what is in them, and how much you’ll enjoy them, and you want to taste them all! (I once had one—a burger, not a book—topped with a marrow ragout that was unbelievable!)

And if your love as a diner prompts you to become a chef (please follow my extended metaphor here), you want to taste as many burgers as you can. If you’re creating burgers, you need to experience the options and see what other people have done to help you perfect your own patties. So it’s easy to limit your consumption to what you want to create, especially because there are so many choices in your niche that you can never complete an exhaustive survey.


Yes, there’s a but. For readers and writers alike, it’s important to taste new things. It’s challenging to pick up a new book with a cover that doesn’t look like the rest of those on your shelf. It’s not comfortable. What if you waste your time on this weird literary fiction thing? What if the mystery you pick up is dull and formulaic? What if this fantasy book is filled with saccharine and stilted dialog?

Well, then you’ve tried something different and learned about your own tastes. The more important question is: what if this literary fiction is filled with amazing insight? What if the mystery keeps you huddled under your bed lamp while your spouse snoozes? What if this fantasy book reveals more about our real world than “realist” novels?

And for writers, the temptation to stay with your type of book is even greater. There are so many giants in your genre that you  haven’t read yet!

Here’s how I wrangle that. As a kid, I found The Hobbit, and then the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books, and fell in love with fantasy and have had a steady diet of it since. But thankfully, some people pushed me to read other things. And without that push, I’d have missed out on pure enjoyment and writing lessons offered by writers like Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, and Virginia Woolf.

I haven’t read everything that’s categorized in my favorite genres. It’s almost (if not entirely) impossible to. But I’ve read a lot, and continue to, while also taking time away from the type of stuff I write to read something very different. Because as much as I love cheeseburgers, sometimes a good piece of salmon is just as delicious.

Raymond Chandler - The Big Sleep

With that in mind, and with thanks to Evan Ronan for his suggestion and my sister for her gift card with which I purchased some books, I’m trying some things that I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up.

Let’s start with The Big Sleep.