It Must Be Green

You may think that writers are independent, autocratic individuals who spend hours with fingers glued to their laptop keys, hammering out words. You might think that a writer is someone who is snobbish and protective of their precious work. Someone ready to explain away every plot hole and rationalize the importance of the most minor characters.

And, yeah, you’re right.

Because the thing is, writers can get so attached to their work that they can’t even look at it clearly. Once you’ve spent four years outlining something and a year writing the first draft (aka, what actually happened to me on Reinhold book #3), you lose any sense of objectivity. And that’s where beta readers and proofreaders become way, way, way more important than most people imagine.

So this post is about 1) beta reader feedback and 2) how that can actually affect the final book.

Last year, near the end of the editing process for The Realms Beyond, I sat down with one of my beta readers to get her opinion on the book. Naturally, the conversation turned to the fantastic book cover (shoutout to the team at Damonza). It went something like this:

“The second book cover is way better than the first one! I mean, the first one was good, but this one is way better.”

“Then you’re going to love the third one. I have an epic idea for it.”

“What’s that?”

“So, Arliss is standing in a field at sunrise with a fiery arrow on her bow, and about a hundred warriors are charging her. Super epic.”

“But…it’s going to be green, right?”


“Bo, you know it has to be green.”

“But the scene is at sunrise so I figured it would be kind of a yellowish-orange—”

“No. The first book is red. The second one is blue. So the third one needs to be green. It must be green.”

So I wallowed in my existential dilemma of how to have a cover that was both green and depicted the sunrise. And I also questioned my beta reader’s knowledge of primary colors (technically, the third book cover should be yellow). But after some in-depth research into colors—aka a casual Google search—I discovered that red, blue, and green are what are known as split-complementary colors. Yay. Knowledge.

But, for the first time, I actually had a concept for a book cover! I actually knew what I wanted! It was meant to be!

Yet the more I thought about it, I realized that green actually does fit the book better. One of the main locations in the book is known for its buildings made of green stone. The book takes place in spring, and that new life is a thematic undercurrent throughout the book.


I’m tired of referring to “the book” as “the book” 506 times every blog post, so you might as well know it’s called THE THREE THRONES.




So, in the end, I swallowed my poor little author wishes and went with my beta reader’s advice. It must be green. And here it is.

If you just realized that this post is actually a book cover reveal…well, yes, of course. Did you really think I was going to spoil the plot twist before I wanted to?

*cue evil laughter*

The Three Thrones - eBook


Current Bookshelf

I get fidgety when I’m not writing anything.

And right now I have nothing to write. Don’t get me wrong—I’m working on multiple projects right now. But one of them is Book #3 in The Reinhold Chronicles, and that mammoth of a draft needs words to be cut, not added. I also have a super exciting concept for my next novel after the Reinhold books, but that’s just an outline—and most of it’s still just a bunch of junk rolling around in my brain.

So, yeah, I haven’t been using much more than the backspace key lately. Is this sentence absolutely necessary? How about this dialogue tag? Why say “sat down” when you could just say “sat”? Why have her sit at all when she’s just going to stand a few lines down? Really, really, deliciously exciting work. It’s necessary (Book #3 is currently 646 pages) but fun, it is not.

I realized that I’m filling the writing hole with reading—a lot of it.  Continue reading “Current Bookshelf”

It’s here

I don’t think words can quite express the excitement behind those two words: it’s here.

The Realms Beyond.

Multiple years of writing, editing, rewriting, and now this thing doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you—the readers.

That’s a scary thought for an author. So I really only have a few things to say.

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First, if you liked The Fiery Arrow, this is more of the same—and also completely, utterly different. It’s another adventure story full of life, discovery, and the struggles of coming-of-age. But this book feels more of mystery than anything else. Questions and plot twists at every turn. The new characters are shrouded in mysteries, and even the old ones develop in unexpected ways.

Every initial reader has told me roughly the same thing: “I loved The Fiery Arrow. But this is way better.”

The Realms BeyondA

So the only other things I have to say? Well, I hope you read the book, considering it’s available in basically any format your heart could desire—hardcover, paperback, Kindle. Also, if you missed book one, you can catch it for FREE on Kindle right now!

And beyond that (hah, see what I did there) the only other thing you can do is write me a review. I don’t think most readers realize how invaluable this is, especially for brand-new books. And plus, I love to hear what you thought of the story.


Sneak Peek: Chapter One

With The Realms Beyond releasing in exactly one week, I imagine some of you might want a sneak preview of what’s coming. I mean, I already made a full-blown movie trailer for it…

But still. These 396 pages aren’t doing any good if I keep them to myself.

So, without any further footling about, here’s chapter one of The Realms Beyond, entitled “Orlando.”

(Contains mild spoilers for The Fiery Arrow.)

Chapter One: Orlando

Orlando’s boots pounded the hard stone of the cliffs as he neared the descent to the seashore. Though the cooing of gulls and crash of breakers filled the air, not a single human noise met his ears. All the better if the seaside outpost was deserted: there would be no one to spread any stories of a young burgundy-cloaked spy and his horse. Nonetheless, he still fingered the hilt of one of the twin knives sheathed at his sides.

The lone tower on the cliffs—standing abandoned and only half-built—loomed like a tenuous sentry, trying to discern his intentions. Orlando cast another glance at the tower. Nothing stirred.

He pulled the cloak from around his face. If this place truly held no Reinholdian guards, there would be no use in the disguise any longer. He let the hood of the reddish cloak fall back off his flaxen hair.

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No sooner had he done so than the door of the tower creaked open and a gray-bearded man in a navy tunic emerged, puffing quickly towards him.

Orlando jerked the hood back over his head and drew the cloak across the lower half of his face. His horse whinnied slightly at the stranger.

“Ho there, sir!” the man called, still hurrying along. He finally came within five paces of Orlando and his horse. “What’s your business?” 

“My business? By that I presume you mean my trade?”

“What I mean is, who are you and what’re you doing here? I’ve not seen your face ‘round the city before. But yes, tell me your trade, if it suits your fancy.” 

“My trade is unusual. You could say I make a living out of danger.” Orlando fingered the right-hand knife beneath his cloak, feeling its polished mother-of-pearl handle.

“That’s not a trade,” the gray-bearded man said. “P’raps you’d like to know that I am a lord of this country and have the authority to have you imprisoned. I am Lord Brédan of Reinhold.”

Orlando had heard enough of the lord’s chitchat. Sweeping his cloak aside, he drew the knife out and held it to Brédan’s throat, pressing the blade almost hard enough to draw blood. With his free hand, he gripped Brédan’s sword arm with a practiced strength and skill.

The lord sputtered, taking his breaths in tiny intervals.

Orlando leaned close, tilting the blade so that the flat pressed against Brédan’s neck. “You may keep your life if you answer one question for me.” 

“I suppose I’ll have to hear the question first,” Brédan managed.

“What do you know of the treasures of Reinhold?”

“The…treasures?” The lord’s gray eyes glimmered with confusion. “I don’t rightly know what you mean.” 

Orlando gritted his teeth. Why was this blabbering coot so difficult? “If you are truly a lord of Reinhold, you must know something of the treasures.”

“We are not a rich people. What treasure do you think we have?” 

“Enough lies,” Orlando demanded. Still Brédan looked unsure. “Speak!” 

“If the king knows of any especial treasures, he hasn’t told me.” Brédan gasped as Orlando once again pressed the blade of the knife to his throat.

“You are tedious,” Orlando said, “but I see in your eyes that you are speaking the truth. In return for that, I will not kill you. In fact, I would have you carry a message to your princess. We passed each other not long ago, but it was not an, ah, appropriate time for talking.” 

“You have seen Arliss?” Brédan’s incredulity was rising. 

“Yes, she was shooting a flaming arrow as I left the city. I’m sure she will be disappointed to find you let me slip through your nets. But you will carry my message.” Orlando lowered his voice to a whisper. “The war in Reinhold has only just begun. Thane has begun his assault, but whether he is successful or not, the battles will not end here. This fight will rage on until we find all the treasures of Reinhold.”

“Who, may I ask, is the ‘we’ in that message?” 

“That’s none of your business.” Orlando drew the dagger away and slammed the hilt into Brédan’s temple.

The lord crumpled to the ground, unconscious.

Orlando gave his horse’s reins a tug. He had other, more important messages to deliver elsewhere.

He stepped over the motionless body and continued towards the place where the vast cliffs descended into the sand and, finally, into the water. Stuffing the entirety of his cape into his saddlebags, he crunched across the beach and waded into the undulating waters.

Almost as soon as he entered the waves, the ship emerged from the fog, and he pulled his horse forward until the water came nearly to his waist. As he stood there, waiting for the crew to hoist him and his horse up, he cast a long look back at the land of Reinhold.

“Well, princess, it’s farewell to you and your land for now. But we shall meet again. The war in Reinhold has only just begun.”


You can already pre-order the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. So, let’s be honest, what are you waiting for?