Cover Art, Maps, and The Valley of Decision

I am pleased to announce that the cover of The Valley of Decision (due to be published May 31, 2014) has been completed. Some of the concept art centered around mountains, valleys, and the image of a soldier, but I’m glad we went with this one.

The map is actually a map of the countries in the book; if you were to get close enough, you would see the Black Mountains, with Alamir to the south and Dokrait to the north, and forests and towns marked on either side. The map was created whole, and then was bent and torn and integrated with the knife and the light. There is symbolic meaning to the torn map, but it obscures some of the details.

The original map encompasses nearly all the places of note in the story: the Rhugarch Gap, the Ushleen Moors, the Anuin mountains, Ataroth, the Northwood, the Glahs Forest, the Crown, and on. A few places mentioned in The Valley of Decision were beyond the scope of the map: the Coldlands, too far to the north; the Wildheath, south beyond Alamir; and out on the ocean, the western isles.

The map and the entire cover were created by my sister Meghan McDermott at Myristica Studios. I think the style is a bit different than much Christian fantasy, and while I won’t say it’s better, I will say I like it.

With the completion of the cover, The Valley of Decision has acquired its own Goodreads page. If it seems to you that you might be interested in reading the book someday, please add it to your “to-read” shelf.

And thanks. Really.

NoiseTrade and Other Ventures

Recently NoiseTrade – the site that has, for five years, connected musicians with their listeners – expanded into the book-sphere. Now NoiseTrade boasts an e-book library, all available for free download with an option to tip and an encouragement to share on social media. Reportedly NoiseTrade has been good for musicians; we’ll see how it is for authors.

And I’ll see how it is for this author. Yes, this is what I am getting around to: My novella Beauty of the Lilies is on NoiseTrade.

With winter flying away, The Valley of Decision is growing ever nearer to its release date. I’ve set up its official Facebook page, and given it an entire page on this site. “The Valley of Decision” features a preview, a book description, a little more about the Facebook page, and – most excitingly – the novel’s first endorsement. I plan, as time goes on, to add more.

On Monday, the CSFF blog tour begins, so I should be back then. This month’s book is One Realm Beyond, by Donita K. Paul – and yes, it involves dragons, too.

2014: Reading Books, Writing Books

Over at Speculative Faith, Becky Miller began a discussion about reading and writing goals for 2014. I answered the question there, but I thought I’d take it up again, in more depth, here.

I have two reading goals right now. One, to slip in some novels between those I read for review. I enjoy nearly everything I review, but I’d like to get to other books, too: Veiled Rose, Spark, Greetings From the Flipside …

And, of course, The Warden and the Wolf King. I’ve been waiting a couple years for the conclusion of the Wingfeather Saga, and when it finally comes out, I’ll get it in if I have to ram it.

I am also hoping to read nonfiction pretty much nonstop – taking in small doses alongside and in between whatever fiction I read. I’m currently reading 10 pages a day of William Jones’ History of the Christian Church, and I am planning to go from there to Finally Fearless (Cheryl McKay), then onto Days of Fire (Peter Baker), and probably from there to one of the history books languishing in my personal library, waiting to be read.

At 10 pages a day, I’ll get through all these slowly … but surely.

As for my writing, I want to get deep into my new Mars novel. I’m not optimistic enough to think I’ll finish it this year – but even getting close would be terrific. I’ve also wanted to return to fantasy, and to Christian Holmes – a Christian Holmes spy novel would be fun. It’d be nice to start accumulating notes, but I don’t know if I’ll get around to it.

In the meantime, I’m still receiving the final edits of The Valley of Decision, and still awaiting the final word on Forever Today from the publisher that is considering it.

And life goes on.

A Call for Reviewers

After years of living out his adventures on the pages of SALT Magazine, Christian Holmes has entered the world of e-publishing. Two of his adventures are now available on Kindle Amazon: Inspection and Sweet Green Paper.

I am putting out a call for reviewers – for anyone who will, in exchange for a book, post a review on Goodreads or Amazon (preferably both). Review copies will be given in MOBI, e-Pub, or PDF.

The Adventures of Christian Holmes is a series of short detective stories, lighthearted and appropriate for younger audiences. If you are interested in reviewing one or both of these stories, e-mail me at info[at] Please specify what format you would like, and where you plan to post your review.

Inspection (Adventures of Christian Holmes 1)

An interloper arrives at the CBI, claiming to be a data-collector from headquarters. Christian Holmes, together with Greg Belden, is assigned to help him.

As they work with the outsider, their doubts grow. Who is he, and what did he really come for?

More than one man will be tested, when inspection comes.

25 pages (estimated length)

Amazon page

Goodreads page

Sweet Green Paper (Adventures of Christian Holmes 2)

Christian Holmes is on the trail of a thief. It’s another day in the life of his private detective agency—until he’s shown a picture of the thief’s accomplice, and recognizes his own cousin.

So he partners with his cousin in pursuit of a thief and the more elusive truth. All sorts of lies are told, when the reward is sweet green paper.

Christian Holmes is a detective series, offering humor and moral themes.

33 pages (estimated length)

Amazon page

Goodreads page

Interviews, Guest Posts, Giveaways, and Summer Leaves

The last two weeks have been busy for me. Just before Thanksgiving, I did an interview and a guest post. Just after Thanksgiving, I released a new e-book.

Yesterday evening, Homeschooling Teen Magazine released the interview; this morning, Sarah Holman posted the guest post up on Homeschool Authors.

In conjunction with these, I am running a free book promotion on Amazon. Today, and through tomorrow, Sweet Green Paper and The Last Heir are free on Kindle.

As for the e-book, I am happy to announce the release of Summer Leaves: A Story in Three Acts. It is the second book in the Sons of Tryas, with Beauty of the Lilies leading the way.

Ruark, Lord Heir fourth in line for the throne, and once first in line, came so close. Still, he missed it entirely. His brother reigned, and dreamed, and Ruark himself wandered, burning his restlessness on distant, wild planets.

Then the premier of the Assembly found him, with an offer to give him everything he ever wanted, at only a small cost to his soul.

In Summer Leaves, Shannon McDermott continues the story of the sons of Tryas, begun in Beauty of the Lilies.

Sold on Kindle Amazon; estimated length 67 pages; price $2.99.

To read the beginning of the book, go to Amazon and either “Look Inside” or download the sample.

“Beauty of the Lilies” Release and Giveaway

Almost two weeks ago, I published my novella Beauty of the Lilies to Kindle Amazon. Beauty of the Lilies is set in the same universe as The Last Heir, starring one of Emperor Alexander’s predecessors – Jediah, the painting emperor.

Of all the stories I have written, this is the only one whose nucleus was a character. In The Last Heir, Elymas Vonran – the Premier of the Assembly – asserts, “A passive emperor is still the emperor.” In the first drafts of that scene, Vonran then cited a historical example: Emperor Jediah, “who devoted himself to his family and his painting”.

Eventually I cut this, moving the Premier directly from his assertion to his point. But I never forgot about the painting emperor. I wanted to write a story about him, and when I finally set myself to the task, I had two thoughts. The first was: This could be funny. The second was: This could be sad. From this, the whole story came.

The whole foundation I laid down for the story – the plots, the other characters – was measured according to Jediah. I wanted to paint, as it were, the painting emperor. Beauty of the Lilies is the portrait I ended up creating. A companion piece, Summer Leaves, is to be released next month.

This weekend, October 12 and 13, Beauty of the Lilies will be available for free download. If you read and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review on its Amazon page or a rating on its Goodreads page.

Another description of the novella, along with the prologue, may be found here; I also published an Author’s Commentary in Part I, Part II, and Part III.


I’ve been busy this past week, with various projects. One of these was getting onto Amazon.

The Last Heir is now on Amazon, eligible for free shipping and boasting one review. I also published Sweet Green Paper: An Adventure of Christian Holmes to Amazon Kindle. I enrolled it in KDP Select, making it free to rent for Amazon Prime Members.

And getting, incidentally, free promotional days. A promotion is set for this weekend, September 14 and 15; Sweet Green Paper will be available for free download then.

Beyond this, I’m busy editing my novella Summer Leaves (a companion story to Beauty of the Lilies) and making preparations to begin my next novel. Last Saturday I had thought I was about ready to write the first scene, but while planning it out, I decided to do some further research. I should stockpile some more scientific facts.

And maybe read some more pulp fiction. Outpost of Jupiter wasn’t bad.