Entries by Deborah

Need a recipe for long pork?

Need a recipe for long pork? Want to know where I buy get my ideas? Ask me anything on Reddit this Thursday, April 13 at 12:00 pm EST.


THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM transports readers to a world of victory and betrayal, upon a journey from the bowels of the earth to the stars and beyond.

The ground trembles as Sajani Earth Dragon stirs in her sleep. And from the lost cities of Quarabala to the forbidden palaces of Sindan, all eyes turn towards the Dragon King’s new heir, wondering whether this strange young barbarian will be able to learn and wield atulfah, the magic that keeps them all safe…or whether the shift of power in Atualon might present an opportunity for an outsider to seize the Dragon King’s power.

Kings, emperors, and sorcerers struggle for control of this power and the Dragon Throne of Atualon, preparing to forward their claims through treachery, war, or alliances. It is a tale in which warrior plots against warden and the menace of a forgotten age stirs to life.

Here a sorceress stripped of her power learns once more what it means to be a queen; a princess struggles to remember what it means to be a warrior; a young boy learns to make the shadows dance to his tune; and a young warden must find within his heart an echo of the heroes of old.

In a time of sweet lies and bitter truths, alchemy and murder, history will be written by the victor…so long as one survives to tell the tale.

For when Akari Sun Dragon sings to wake his love, the web of the universe unravels.

Cry Wolf, and Weep

The writers, the artists, those who sing–
The elders, who have lived this story before and hoped to die before it began again–
The indigenous people of the world, who still have one ear to the drums–
We are afraid.
We know this song, we know this story, we know.
We know that when we raise our voices, you will mock us, you will strike us down, you will bind our eyes with bands of blackthorn, you will pour hot oil on our lying tongues, you will break our bard’s fingers so that we might not tell the truth.
And before this nightmare is done
(this is why we sing, this is why we write, this is why we cry)
You will weep bitter tears and wish you had listened.
The prophet was right–



No matter how ugly the world may be, there is always beauty to be found in truth.

The Zeeranim, proud peoples of the desert, are protected by the Ja’Akari. These warrior women live and die in service to their people, and they value above all things the beauty that is to be found in truth, no matter how painful that truth may be.

I have decided to give away one of my very few, very precious Advance Reader’s Copies of THE DRAGON’S LEGACY, signed by me and sent out into the great cold world with much love.

If you would like to read this highly anticipated book before its release in April 2017, or if you are a bibliophile who loves to collect rare signed works, this is a golden opportunity. Simply enter my Rafflecopter giveaway (here) sometime between November 17, 2016 and December 17, 2017, follow the instructions, and reply to this post with your answer to this question:

What does being a warrior mean to you?

Best of luck,


The Real Secret to Getting a Literary Agent


How to succeed in your search for literary representation, sell your book, and ultimately buy a castle in Scotland so your kids can go to Hogwarts.

With a special nod to Daniel Weaver, whose books will eventually earn millions and you heard it here first.


So. You’ve got a book written (if you haven’t finished writing your book, get off my damn page and go write your fucking book, goddammit, this is your writing time and you’re wasting it on this shit???) …and I mean written. Finished, done, ping, the end, edited a fucktillion times and shiny and all ready to go. You’ve researched literary agents and found one that you HAVE to have, because your manuscript is brilliant, right? The most brilliant thing since toothpaste in a tube. You’ve also found a few that aren’t Agent #1, but Agent #1 probably won’t look at your manuscript anyway because it’s the worst idea since toothpaste in a jar, right?

Yeah, we’re all little balls of angst wrapped up in precious snowflake paper. You are not alone. (Okay, I lied, you really are. To write a Book of Power is to be alone.)

You get your first ten thousand words/first three chapters /synopsis/OMG are you serious, all this awesomeness in a one-page outline? Crap!/ all ready to go, and you write the most beautiful and succinct and engaging query ever to make the rounds of the Halls of Agents, and you send off a batch of queries, kissing them on the cheek and waving goodbye to the school bus with tears in your eyes, knowing that your little darlings are going to come home that evening with offers of representation and sales contracts all ready for you to sign.

You’re so cute, all eager and optimistic. Let me look at you for a moment and weep for what is to come.

Most of your darlings are never heard from again (maybe you shouldn’t have queried Pennywise the Clown. Just sayin’). The ones that do come back tumble off the bus crying, with skinned knees and black eyes and swollen lips, and stories of school bullies and horrible, horrible math teachers.

Congratulations, Aspiring Author! You have received your first round of rejections. Now it’s time to get to the shopkeeper and buy your ultimate weapon:

Big Girl Panties. +1 Constitution, +3 Resolve, and they’re waterproof besides.

After you pull those ugly buggers up and mop your snotty, tear-stained face, and brush the taste of whiskey from your mouth, it’s time to take a look at what the rejection letters say. If they say anything at all, that is huge. Scribbled notes and encouraging one liners are gold. Sometimes you’ll get the polite equivalent of “keep your day job”, if you HAVE a day job, and if you’re good at keeping one, which a lot of writers aren’t. Sometimes you get good advice.

And sometimes you get “I loved this, but…” your book is too weird. Doesn’t fit in. Too much like every other book in your genre. Not enough like every other book in your genre (yes, I’ve gotten both of those, and in the same week.) If an agent looooves your book, this is a very good sign.

And right now you want to hit me over the head with something (don’t. I can take you.) because “I loved this but…” is NOT an offer of representation, right?

And here’s where I tell you the ONE THING you need to know about traditional publishing:

Traditional publishing is nuts.

Traditional publishing is no longer a venerable editor hiding in a dungeon of magical books, wheezing as he labors to make your manuscript a Book of Power (meaning he deletes that one comma you had out of place, of course, snowflake) and grooming you to be the Tolkien of your generation. The big publishing houses have all been bought up by goblins—actual goblins, I am not speaking in metaphors—and as we all know, goblins care for nothing but the bottom line.

(Yes, I am doing this so that I can avoid using actual numbers and showing my sources and shit. Trust me: my version is close enough to the truth to bite it in the ass.)

These trolls keep our beloved editors chained in dungeons (or worse, CUBICLES) where they slave away at—you might want to peek through your fingers at this one, it’s horrifying—PROFIT AND LOSS STATEMENTS.

Go ahead, cry. Have a shot of whiskey. I know I did.

That’s right, Buttercup. Before the Dark Editorial Overlord can make an offer on your magical manuscript, she has to run it through a gauntlet of red and black ink, and prove that it can make money for the goblins, who don’t even read. Then she has to show it to the other editors, who also have to prove that it will sell, and take it to a committee, who will want to run it through the numbers…

Agents know this. Agents don’t make money unless they sell books, and they sell books to these editors, who have to run everything through the goblin overlords before releasing any money or all these fine people risk losing their jobs. So it’s impossible for an agent to offer representation to something that can’t be sold, and it’s impossible for an editor to run a profit and loss statement on something that hasn’t been done before, because DUH. NUMBERS.

You get the idea. Traditional publishing is about the numbers, not the words.



But my book…


But I’m diff…

Stop. Just stop. As one of my Arabic instructors was fond of saying, “It is always, always, always this way. Except when it is not.”

Yeah, you perked up at that last bit, right? That’s the secret to getting your (well written, edited to death, ready to fly off the bookshelves) book agented, and sold, and ultimately roll in the dragon’s hoard (which only LOOKS like a small pile of one dollar bills) that will be the end reward for all your hard work. The one thing you need to know about publishing? The big secret to success is:

Agents are crazy. So are editors. You have to be certifiably batshit to ever think this can work, and these people believe, deep down, that this can work, that they can reach down into a dark pit of sludge and adverbs and horrifyingly bad sex scenes and draw forth something beautiful and brilliant and new. And they can get this thing past the goblin overlords and into people’s hands, where they will read it!

If you write a good book (again, if you haven’t done this yet, get off the internet and finish the damn thing, knucklehead), even a great book, one that is close enough to your genre that readers will love the things they love, and new enough that readers will put it down feeling that they’ve had a wonderful new adventure, if you follow the rules of querying (write a killer query letter, do your research, follow submission guidelines and for the love of Cthulhu don’t be a dick) and just keep at it, head-down horns-out and plowing through the screaming crowd like it’s not even there, eventually this will happen:

Somewhere, in an office that reeks of rotting dreams, an agent will be sitting with his head in his hands, hating life. He got into this business because he loves books and he dreamed of big things, of better things, of making the world a more magical place. If he has to run one more brilliant manuscript through that damn Excel spreadsheet, if he has to do one more “Harry Potter meets Twilight” comparison, he’s gonna…

That’s it. He’s had enough. He’s gonna quit and go sell cars with his uncle Patty in Detroit. But before he goes, by gum, he’s going to do one thing right. If he’ going to throw his career down the shitter, he’s going to do it in style, he’s going down in flames. There will be a day when an agent says “Fuck it!” and offers to represent a brilliant new author because he LOVES THE BOOK, dammit, and today is that day!

Fire in his eyes, he logs into his email and…




Adjective hell.

Paranormal porn, wtf…

And then your query shines forth, like a shining white hand rising from the misty lake, offering up treasure. This is it! THIS is why he took this rotten job in the first place!

Knowing full well that he’s throwing away a lucrative career, (almost as lucrative as the average author’s, one hopes), he pounds out an offer of representation.

This is the literary equivalent of the vorpal sword, and snicker-snack, and galumphing with a severed head, and so forth. The agent will have sobered up by the following Tuesday–agents have to eat, too, one cannot subsist solely on a diet of shattered dreams–so make sure you snatch up that offer of representation before he regains his sanity.

Okay, you ask, but how can my agent (who is trying not to show he has buyer’s remorse, and will work three times as hard to sell your book because now his career is on the line and he really does not want to sell cars) sell this book to an editor, who cannot rationally make an offer on a book that doesn’t fit into the numbers game?

Heh. You said “rationally”.

Some day, perhaps some day soon, an editor will be sitting at her desk, head in hands, weeping with despair, and she will also have a moment of disconnect from reality and decide that TODAY is the DAY…

So, there it is. If you have written a very good book, the best you can write, the best book every written, by Smaug’s hairy toes…if you do your research and query by the book and don’t be a dick, it is a statistical certainty that eventually you will hit the perfect convergence of insanity between an agent and an acquisitions editor, and your book will sell.

And then comes the hard part.

Hey, I never said this story had a HAPPY ending. Suck it up, Buttercup; we’re all mad, here.


Jai tu wai,




Evil is a Matter of Perspective

A couple of months ago, I was surprised and delighted when Adrian Collins of Grimdark Magazine asked whether I would consider contributing a short story to an anthology he was putting together.

Well, I thought, I don’t really do short…

…stories told from the villain’s point of view, he went on…

oh HELLZ yeah.

Now, it’s probably no secret at this point that I enjoy reading and writing ambiguous characters. And by ‘ambiguous’ I really mean dark, disturbed, and bloody-minded. Write what you know, eh? There’s nothing much I enjoy more than turning over the slimy rocks of a human (or humanish) psyche to see what lies beneath.

What makes us tick?

What makes us…kill?

I am pleased to announce that the Kickstarter was fully funded, and the stretch goals are falling like main characters in one of my stories. Look at this author lineup. LOOK AT IT:

And it’s a pretty book too, Precious; not only does it have a gorgeous cover, but the stretch goal for interior art has been met, as well:

My own story, BLOOD PENNY, introduces Awitsu and Kanati, two daeborn children from Sindan trying to survive in a world that wants them dead.

Cute kids, aren't they?

Cute kids, aren’t they?

Spoiler: they survive…more or less.

Teaser: the rest of the world may not, by the time they get done.

If you haven’t backed this Kickstarter yet, do it now while there is still time. This is a volume you will NOT want to miss out on, trust me. I’d hate to see you kick yourself later on when all your friends have this awesome book and you are stuck rereading your mom’s old Agatha Christie novels.

Ok, I lied. I’d love to see you kick yourself. Because that’s how I roll.

Which may or may not be evil…

…depending on your perspective.

Jai tu wai,



The Dragon King in Atualon has found his daughter and heir. But when the girl’s youth and inexperience cause a magical backlash, the world’s leaders turn their covetous eyes on the power of atulfah. As kings and emperors play at war, the world struggles to survive…

And the dragon struggles to wake.


(by “soon”, of course, I mean “eventually”)

Jai tu wai,



A Review of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai (by Bradley Beaulieu)

About the book:

Sharakhai, the great city of the desert, center of commerce and culture, has been ruled from time immemorial by twelve kings — cruel, ruthless, powerful, and immortal. With their army of Silver Spears, their elite company of Blade Maidens and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule.

Or so it seems, until Çeda, a brave young woman from the west end slums, defies the Kings’ laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha’ir. What she learns that night sets her on a path that winds through both the terrible truths of the Kings’ mysterious history and the hidden riddles of her own heritage. Together, these secrets could finally break the iron grip of the Kings’ power…if the nigh-omnipotent Kings don’t find her first.

Series: Song of Shattered Sands (Book 1)

Hardcover: 592 pages

Publisher: DAW (September 1, 2015)

Buy it now:



I’ve been dying to read Bradley Beaulieu’s book TWELVE KINGS IN SHARAKHAI for some time now. But since I write Silk Road-inspired fantasy, myself, I elected to wait until I’d gotten to the ARC stage of THE DRAGON’S LEGACY. I fret about other peoples’ stuff leaking into my book (especially the really good stuff, and I anticipated that this book was full of really good stuff).

TWELVE KINGS IN SHARAKHAI was worth the wait. Dude, so good.

I loved that this book is based outside the usual Medieval European milieu, and I loved more that it’s not trope-y desert fantasy filled with hospitable knockoff Bedouins and veiled princesses in peril. This is a rich, new, and skillfully wrought world that I was able to sink into and disappear, and I loved every minute.

I found the world entirely believable and gorgeous, and was rooting for Ceda from the very first sentence on. She’s not perky, she’s not a princess, and she is most certainly NOT waiting for someone to come save her. She’s a driven, skillful, interesting young woman…and a gladiator of sorts, a pit fighter.

Have I mentioned that I loved every minute of it?

If I were to compare this book to any, it would probably be David Anthony Durham’s ACACIA, which I also loved to distraction. Wonder and magic, strange new worlds, impossible odds facing a conflicted and ambiguous heroine…this book is right up my alley. Beaulieu’s writing is gorgeous; it rolls like the soft dunes at times, screams in like a sandstorm at other times, and is always flawlessly executed.

If you love well-written fantasy, and especially if you are hungry for something beyond dreary castles and moldy old dragons, I urge you to go buy this book.


Jai tu wai,



How I Write: Understanding (sort of) Dan Wells’s Seven Point Story Structure

So…story structure.

This is a topic that has been much on my mind as I tackle the second volume in my ridiculously huge saga of ginormous proportions and an unwieldy number of characters (otherwise known as THE DRAGON’S LEGACY volume 2: THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM).

How does one tackle a project of this scope and insanity?

Well, of course with whiskey; that’s obvious, thank you. But what else?

I have heard that perhaps George RR Martin writes organically, that he’s one of those gifted souls who writes without an outline or a detailed road map or plan or anything.

Okay, yeah, Divines bless the man if this is true, but if I tried a stunt like that I’d end up like that young dude who gave up all his money and headed forth to go live in the wilderness of Alaska without a plan or a map or, you know, food.

Time was, I wanted to be a seat-of-my-pants writer. I wanted stories to pour forth from my heart like the moon puking up the Milky Way, to splash my sparkling words across the sky and watch them form amazing patterns before my eyes.

Then I started to take this shit seriously.

I am in no way denigrating ‘pantsers’. Dude, if you can write a brilliant book I don’t give a flying fuck if your method involves hanging upside down inside your closet while singing “Hallelujah” in a snide falsetto; you do you. But if *I* attempt to write anything longer than a dirty limerick without a blueprint, well:

I’m sure it’s art, but I don’t understand it.

I wish I’d known more about story structure when I began writing THE DRAGON’S LEGACY. It certainly would have been finished in less time, and the first draft would have been more gorgeous and less goatfuckery, for sure. But the second time round, when I was planning SPLIT FEATHER, I’d begun to see the light.

SPLIT FEATHER is a more straightforward story than THE DRAGON’S LEGACY, in pretty much every way. There’s a definite Hero’s Journey, a single POV, and nowhere near a fucktillion subplots. So it was a good story to practice laying out against a clear structure. While fleshing out chapters and scenes and all those things that make a garden grow, I found articles and books and videos about the Seven Point Story Structure of particular interest.

You can read about Dan Wells’s Seven Point Story Structure here:

Dan Wells’s Seven Point Story Structure

Or, like, a million other places on the web. Which you can find here:


Ta daaaaah! Don’t get distracted by cat videos, though.

Seriously. Cute little fuckers. Also, that octopus with a coconut shell, right?



And now you can see why I need an outline…


Where was I? Introducing a thirty-fifth POV character?

No, I was not…because I have an outline.

As I was trying to fully and dutifully absorb every slender nuance of meaning that could possibly be found in discussions of this story structure—and maybe procrastinating a little, because starting a new book is scarier than that clown doll that I’m pretty sure is hiding under my bed—I was mentally using what I’d learned to break down THE HOBBIT into a seven point outline. I chose that particular book because I’ve read it well over a hundred times and know that story so well I can hold it in my mind and look at it from every angle.

Now. One of the things I love so much about THE HOBBIT is the writing. That story is my safe haven, even though every time I read it I end up eating so much bacon and cheese I gain like five pounds. I adore Tolkien’s storytelling voice, the way in which he speaks directly to the audience, and o! The lovely quotes! I ran across one particular quote, which seemed to fully describe a plot point.

Specifically, this was Plot Point One, the point in our story at which something within the protagonist responds to the Call to Adventure (pardon me whilst I mix and match my story structures, kiddos), and the quote was:

“As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of the dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.” ~JRR Tolkien, THE HOBBIT


And then something bookish woke up inside me, and I wondered whether I could find a quote that I felt best exemplified every beat in the story structure I was studying. This turned out to be surprisingly easy to do (even though I admit to having been so smitten with Tolkien’s words, once again, that I sat down with a plate of crisp bacon and sharp cheddar, and read the whole thing through again).

When I was finished, I thought the resultant outline was harmonious and elegant; better yet, if you read the selected quotes in order, they do a pretty good job of telling the heart of the story. My seven point breakdown of THE HOBBIT, using quotes from the book, ended up looking like this:


Seven Point Plot Quotes

HOOK: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

KEY EVENT: “Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not Today. Good morning! But please come to tea – any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Good bye!”

PLOT POINT 1: “Let’s have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself. You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet.”

PLOT POINT 1 (alternate): “As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of the dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.”

PINCH POINT 1: “Fly, you fools!”

MIDPOINT: “It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.”

PINCH POINT 2: “By the beard of Durin! I wish I had Gandalf here! Curse him for his choice of you! May his beard wither! As for you I will throw you to the rocks!” he cried and lifted Bilbo in his arms.”

PLOT POINT 2: “I go now to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed. Since I leave now all gold and silver, and go where it is of little worth, I wish to part in friendship from you, and I would take back my words and deeds at the Gate.”

RESOLUTION: “So ended the adventures of the Misty Mountains. Soon Bilbo’s stomach was feeling full and comfortable again, and he felt he could sleep contentedly, though really he would have liked a loaf and butter better than bits of meat toasted on sticks. He slept curled up on the hard rock more soundly than ever he had done on his feather-bed in his own little hole at home. But all night he dreamed of his own house and wandered in his sleep into all his different rooms looking for something that he could not find nor remember what it looked like.”

RETURN: “Indeed Bilbo found he had lost more than spoons – he had lost his reputation. It is true that for ever after he remained an elf-friend, and had the honour of dwarves, wizards, and all such folk as ever passed that way; but he was no longer quite respectable. He was in fact held by all the hobbits of the neighbourhood to be “queer” – except by his nephews and nieces on the Took side, but even they were not encouraged in their friendship by their elders.

“I am sorry to say he did not mind. He was quite content; and the sound of the kettle on his hearth was ever after more musical than it had been even in the quiet days before the Unexpected Party.”


Notice, if you will, that for Plot Point 1 I identified two quotes that I thought might showcase the Call to Adventure. This is true of every plot point; indeed, as I studied and thought about it, the quotes and points I chose might shift a scene or two. In this way I began to better understand this particular method of structuring a story.

AND THEN a thought occurred to me. One of the things I long to do is write beautifully. I wondered whether I could plan out a seven point story outline by thinking up quotes for my own story—ahead of writing any of it—and so build a blueprint not only of the actions and reactions I needed to lead Siggy from the darkness I’d dropped her into (that’s not a spoiler. I torment all my characters and always will.) and down the even darker path I’d chosen (I told you. Torment and wickedness.).

I can’t share the result here because SPOILERS, but the answer was a definitive fuck yeah. Not only did I have waypoints to keep me on track as I was writing, but I now had images and emotions and in some cases entire paragraphs or scenes to use as stepping-stones. Probably three quarters of the quotes I thought up using this weird method made it into the story, and the rest didn’t wander far from the trail.

I can’t ever show you the first novel I wrote–without an outline–because I burned that fucker with prejudice, but I can assure you that SPLIT FEATHER was a whole hell of a lot better as far as structure. For one thing…it HAS a structure. And it even tells the story I set out wanting to tell.

And that’s the whole point of this journey, innit?

Anyhow, yeah, that’s one of the weird methods I use when I’m planning and outlining and all that good stuff.

Procrastination is another huge part of my process.

…just sayin’.

I hope someone out there in the Nethersphere finds this moderately weird and maybe a little bit useful. For myself, I’m going to go think up some snarky, funny, depressing, devastating quotes and passages for my next book, THE FORBIDDEN CITY.

Since you’re reading this, I can reasonably infer that you are probably procrastinating, as well. My next bit of advice?

Get off the fucking Internet and go write, knucklehead.


Jai tu wai!



Split Feather is SOLD!

I am beyond delighted to announce that my urban fantasy, SPLIT FEATHER, has been sold to Titan Books in a two-book deal by my rockstar agent Mark Gottlieb.

Book 1 is set to be released in May 2017, most likely under a pseudonym to avoid cross-genre confusion as the first book in my epic saga, THE DRAGON’S LEGACY, is set to release April 2017.

I am very excited to continue this journey with Titan Books, and especially with my Dark Editorial Overlord Steve Saffel.

Stay tuned for updates!

Jai tu wai,


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