Release Day! The Karenina Chronicles

Release Day! 🎉 The print edition of my latest book is now available at all of the booksellers. 🎉 I’m excited about The Karenina Chronicles. There’s a strong streak of a woman’s simmering rage in this book.

Direct links to the major booksellers for the print edition:

The ebook will release on December 1. Find it anywhere ebooks are sold: books2read.com/waterspellbook5

Summary: In the grip of a grief-fueled wanderlust after the death of her Earthly husband, Lady Karenina of Ruain Nina to family and friends escapes into unfamiliar lands, a harsh and distant country peopled with enigmatic characters: the Leviathan, the Nomad, the Outcast, and the Wolf. In their company she finds adventure, danger, champions, and rogues some of the latter worth killing, but at least one worth loving.

Continue the family saga that began in the WATERSPELL fantasy quartet (Warlock, Wysard, Wisewoman, Witch). Follow the further adventures of eldest daughter Nina in The Karenina Chronicles.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support! 💙

I’m proud of this installment in the series. It’s a journey tale that covers a lot of ground. Karenina (Nina) would not leave me alone until I’d consented to tell the story of her “grand tour.” She insisted that I slip inside her saddlebags and make the trip with her. I’m glad I did. It’s been a journey of self-discovery for myself as well as for Nina. This addition to the series might not be a true standalone novel, but I believe readers can connect with the characters and follow their stories even without having read the first four books. There’s enough backstory scattered through this book to give readers the necessary background.

If you’ve been thinking about dipping your toe into the Waterspell ocean, The Karenina Chronicles is the book to start you off. These books mean a lot to me, and this newest one has a special hold on my heart.

The Karenina Chronicles by Deborah J. Lightfoot

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Books 1-4 on NetGalley: November 2023

Available on NetGalley until December 1.

When the boxed set of Waterspell Books 1–4 came out in April 2022, I offered ARCs on NetGalley. Optimistically, I hoped for 40 or 50 reviews.

I got six.

Those six, however, were all highly positive. There’s also a chance that some of the readers who downloaded the ARC did eventually post a review somewhere else. At the very least, as I noted in my observations back then, I gained exposure in a much larger arena than Bookstagram and Facebook, and got my work in front of all sorts of industry professionals, including booksellers and librarians.

The Karenina Chronicles by Deborah J. LightfootWith the new book, The Karenina Chronicles, coming out soon (paperback November 17, ebook December 1), I decided to offer the original quartet on NetGalley once more. Of course I revised the epub file to include a teaser for the new book:

Continue the family saga! Follow the further adventures of eldest daughter Nina in The Karenina Chronicles.

In the first couple of days of the boxed set’s new availability on NetGalley, I’ve received 30 requests. I’ve denied a few of those, in cases where the requester seemed to have no interest in the fantasy genre, or showed a tendency to DNF books. I figured they wouldn’t likely read a boxed set of 1,200 pages in a genre they didn’t especially like. Mostly, however, I have accepted all comers. As somebody once said: For most writers, piracy isn’t the problem. Obscurity is the problem. With the wider distribution that NetGalley makes possible, I’m trying to become a little less obscure.

Once again, I’m using the Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op, which enables me to “rent” a slot on NetGalley for one month for $50. Pretty cheap way to get reviews and exposure.

The Blessed Six

Fingers crossed that my return to NetGalley will bring in some additional reviews, to build on the strong foundation that my initial experiment produced. Looking back through those six lovely reviews, I must share excerpts:

“In this four-book saga, the author has created an epic fantasy world full of magic, danger, romance, and travel through time and space. This is a most enjoyable read for fans of fantasy and fine writing.” —Shirley

“A good choice for those that like fantasy. This has rich character and world building, and the elements of a good fantasy story.” —Paul

“An entertaining, fast paced, and well plotted fantasy series. Riveting. The world building is fascinating, and the characters fleshed out. Highly recommended.” —Librarian

“An addictive-to-read epic fantasy with drama and adventure. I binged through the books, eager to see how the story unfolds.” —Reviewer

“An extraordinary book, 4 in fact! I read these over a five-day period and found the storytelling fantastic.” —Reviewer

“A riveting series. Well written, excellent world-building with an engaging plot in each book and well developed characters. I was gripped right from the start with twists I didn’t see and unpredictability.” —Aria

Thank you all! 💙 🎉 Here’s hoping that my return to NetGalley will meet with as much success as my first time out, and maybe more.

If you’re a NetGalley member and would like a free copy of Waterspell, please snag it before the title is archived on December 1. The link: https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/306678

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New! The Karenina Chronicles

I’ve neglected my blog for months, for good reason. I’ve been totally absorbed with final edits to my new book, The Karenina Chronicles. Everything’s done now. Whee! The edits are finished, the cover is finished, the PDF of the cover and the book block have gone to Lightning Source for the print edition, and the ebook is loaded up at Amazon, Google Play Books, and (for distribution everywhere else) at Draft2Digital.

I’m pretty proud of this installment in the Waterspell fantasy series. I’ve worked on it for a year and a half. It’s a journey tale that covers a lot of ground. We get to know the children of Lord Verek and Lady Carin. The couple’s five offspring were introduced in Book 4 of the series, The Witch. Now we follow the eldest daughter, Nina, on her “grand tour” through the South Country of her homeworld. Much is revealed about her adult life, and the lives of her brothers: Dalton the weather-mage, Legary the wizard of stone, and Galen the firedrake. Nina simply would not leave me alone until I’d consented to tell the story of her journey. She insisted that I tuck myself into her saddlebags and make the trip with her. I’m glad I did. It’s been a journey of self-discovery for myself as well as for Nina.

The book blurb:

In the grip of a grief-fueled wanderlust after the death of her Earthly husband, Lady Karenina of Ruain—Nina to family and friends—escapes into unfamiliar lands, a harsh and distant country peopled with enigmatic characters: the Leviathan, the Nomad, the Outcast, and the Wolf. In their company she finds adventure, danger, champions, and rogues—some of the latter worth killing, but at least one worth loving.

I invite you to continue the family saga that began in the WATERSPELL fantasy quartet (Warlock, Wysard, Wisewoman, Witch). In the 400 pages of The Karenina Chronicles, you’ll follow the further adventures of Nina the firstborn, and discover that not all has been sunshine and roses, for either herself or her brothers.

While I won’t go so far as to claim that this installment in the series is a true standalone novel, I will say that I believe readers can connect with the characters and follow their stories even without having read the original quartet. There’s enough backstory scattered judiciously through this book to give readers the necessary background.

If you’ve been thinking about dipping your toe into the Waterspell ocean, The Karenina Chronicles is the book to start you off. I hope and trust that, when you’ve finished it, you’ll want to go back and pick up the previous books in the series.

Thank you so much for your interest and your support. These books mean a lot to me, and this newest one has a special hold on my heart. There’s a strong streak of a woman’s rage in this book.

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Chihuly in the Missouri Botanical Gardens

From my mini-vacation in St. Louis to see the Gateway Arch and Chihuly in the Garden, I came home with some great pictures. Sharing them here for fans of the beautiful blown-glass artworks of Dale Chihuly, famous Seattle artist.

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Book Review: That Which the Deep Heart Knows by RJ Wheldrake

Review: That Which the Deep Heart Knows
by RJ Wheldrake
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is epic. Grand. Beautifully written, masterful in scope and execution, brimming with palace intrigues, murder and treachery, high-stakes conspiracies and closely guarded secrets amongst a large and intricately choreographed cast of memorable characters. The action is intense, complex but well-paced, allowing the reader to catch their breath along the way and hear the rain battering the roofs of country inns while thunder rattles the windows of remote castles. Settings and characters are presented with a remarkable degree of finely wrought detail, details that paint the total picture of place and time, so that the reader feels they are present in each scene over a vast landscape.

This book is the work of an experienced, accomplished, highly talented author. I give it an enthusiastic and appreciative 5 stars and recommend it highly to lovers of epic fantasy. I’m moving directly into the next book in the series (A Trick of the Light, second of Wheldrake’s Toxandrian Chronicles). I’m eager for more excellent writing and another sweeping tale of adventure, destiny, love and sacrifice.

Note: Contrary to my usual practice, I’m not including the book’s cover with this review because the cover — beautiful as it is — tends to suggest that the story is a romance. The young woman pictured on the cover is indeed a romantic figure, and she serves as the pivot around which the story turns. The cast of characters, however, is large and varied, with many among them who lodged themselves deeply into my heart and my sympathies. I cared for them, and the story’s end brought tears to my eyes. This is not a happily-ever-after tale. Some of the characters never find happiness, and even those who enjoy years of blissful togetherness are eventually at the mercy of the fates. Do not, therefore, judge this book by its cover. It’s not the category romance that one might expect from casting a quick glance at the beautiful girl in the purple dress.

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The Joy of Book Signings

Readers who have followed my writerly journey will remember that I hit a dry spell between 2012 and 2020. I wasn’t writing during those years. Promoting my work was the last thing on my mind. I was emotionally, mentally, and physically unavailable for any kind of bookish event.

Which is why I was both excited and nervous about participating in an author event sponsored by the local public library. It wasn’t just a book-signing opportunity. The 10 participating authors also presented a mini-workshop on Getting Started Writing, Overcoming Writer’s Block, Avoiding Common Errors, and Getting Published.

Nerves and eagerness led me to over-prepare, as I do. I had new posters printed for my book table. I obsessed over what I should wear. I actually practiced—in front of a mirror—my five-minute talks on two of those topics.

It all went fine, of course. Book-signings and writing workshops are like riding a bicycle: once you learn, you don’t forget. I fell back into it like the old pro I am. Prior to 2012, I’d done a bunch of author events and writing conferences.

Here are a few pictures from my “comeback.” It was fun, and I’m glad to go back on the circuit.

The dress rehearsal of my table. I laid it all out in my dining room a few days before repeating the exercise at the library event.

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Self-Editing: Bringing Out Your Best

I’ve been invited to speak at an event for local writers and participate in a mini-workshop on “How to Fix Common Writing Errors.” As it happens, I published a little e-book on that subject, several years ago. The invitation reminded me to take a fresh look at what I’d written back then.

I’m pleased to report that the little book holds up. It’s aged well, and it offers solid advice: so much so, that I’ll be taking my own advice when I return to editing my work-in-progress.

The ebook is free at Smashwords:

If the Download button in the graphic doesn’t work, you can find my little book of advice here: 

Self-Editing: Bringing Out Your Best

I hope you find it useful.

My fresh reread and re-edit of my own advice has reminded me of things I need to watch out for, as I return to my WIP. Is it possible that I’ve grown a little complacent, maybe a little sloppy in recent years? I’m grateful for the speaking invitation that has motivated me to revisit the basics. Every writer benefits from a refresher course.

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What Makes Great Dialogue?

Dialogue should sound natural—like real people talking. Or more precisely, like really interesting real people talking.

Strive to write dialogue as the natural outcome of the characters’ needs, desires, thoughts, personalities, reactions, and relationships. Don’t use it to dump information on the reader or, even worse, use it just to break up long passages of narrative.

Avoid commonplace dialogue—characters taking up space saying empty things like “Hi, how are you?” and “Fine, how are you?”

Literary agent Noah Lukeman wrote in his classic book, The First Five Pages:

“The presence of commonplace dialogue means the manuscript as a whole will need a lot of cutting: if there is one extraneous line of dialogue on the first page, by the rule of manuscripts, you will also find one extraneous line on each page to come.”

According to Lukeman:

“Dialogue is a powerful tool, to be used sparingly, effectively and at the right moment.”

I greatly admire Ursula Le Guin. (If you don’t know her work, read the Earthsea books—you’ll be swept away.) For examples of pitch-perfect dialogue, see her Tales From Earthsea. Below is an excerpt. Study it and see all that it does, the many levels on which this dialogue succeeds.

We learn the personalities of father and son. The son is quiet, he doesn’t say much. He’s subject to his father’s will, but he’s hoping his old man will stop pressuring him. The father is obviously conflicted: proud of his son’s gift, but disappointed that it doesn’t make the boy suitable to follow in his dad’s footsteps in the family business. The father is also in awe of his child’s talents. We learn so much from this dialogue, and the whole exchange rings true. Believable personalities are revealed.

Also study this passage for examples of how to punctuate dialogue, and how to break up the speaking with a little action. People move around, gesture, pause. They don’t just stand and talk.

The next morning Golden told his son again that he must think about being a man.

“I have thought some about it,” said the boy, in his husky voice.

“And?”

“Well, I,” said Diamond, and stuck.

“I’d always counted on your going into the family business,” Golden said. His tone was neutral, and Diamond said nothing. “Have you had any ideas of what you want to do?”

“Sometimes.”

“Did you talk at all to Master Hemlock?”

Diamond hesitated and said, “No.” He looked a question at his father.

“I talked to him last night,” Golden said. “He said to me that there are certain natural gifts which it’s not only difficult but actually wrong, harmful, to suppress.”

The light had come back into Diamond’s dark eyes.

“The master said that such gifts or capacities, untrained, are not only wasted, but may be dangerous. The art must be learned, and practiced, he said.”

Diamond’s face shone.

“But, he said, it must be learned and practiced for its own sake.”

Diamond nodded eagerly.

“If it’s a real gift, an unusual capacity, that’s even more true. A witch with her love potions can’t do much harm, but even a village sorcerer, he said, must take care, for if the art is used for base ends, it becomes weak and noxious … Of course, even a sorcerer gets paid. And wizards, as you know, live with lords, and have what they wish.”

Diamond was listening intently, frowning a little.

“So, to be blunt about it, if you have this gift, Diamond, it’s of no use, directly, to our business. It has to be cultivated on its own terms, and kept under control — learned and mastered. Only then, he said, can your teachers begin to tell you what to do with it, what good it will do you. Or others,” he added conscientiously.

There was a long pause.

“I told him,” Golden said, “that I had seen you, with a turn of your hand and a single word, change a wooden carving of a bird into a bird that flew up and sang. I’ve seen you make a light glow in thin air. You didn’t know I was watching. I’ve watched and said nothing for a long time. I didn’t want to make too much of mere childish play. But I believe you have a gift, perhaps a great gift. When I told Master Hemlock what I’d seen you do, he agreed with me. He said that you may go study with him in South Port for a year, or perhaps longer.”

“Study with Master Hemlock?” said Diamond, his voice up half an octave.

“If you wish.”

“I, I, I never thought about it. Can I think about it? For a while — a day?”

“Of course,” Golden said, pleased with his son’s caution. He had thought Diamond might leap at the offer, which would have been natural, perhaps, but painful to the father, the owl who had — perhaps — hatched out an eagle.

(From “Darkrose and Diamond,” Tales From Earthsea, copyright 2001 by Ursula K. LeGuin)

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Waterspell Audiobook on Spotify

WATERSPELL: The Complete Series (Books 1-4) by Deborah J. Lightfoot; audiobook narrated by Simon de DeneyThe Waterspell audiobook is distributed by Findaway Voices, and Findaway now belongs to Spotify. Findaway has sent word that they are discontinuing their Authors Direct storefront and listening apps, and will move those services to Spotify.

This won’t affect many of my listeners. Happily, however, the relative handful who redeemed giveaway codes via Authors Direct will get to keep your Waterspell audiobook. Findaway promises to email you a redemption code to unlock each of your previous Authors Direct books on Spotify. Listeners can use Spotify Free and Premium accounts to access those books.

Waterspell by Deborah J. Lightfoot is available on Authors DirectPlease be aware that the Authors Direct listening apps (iOS, Android, and Web) will not be available after June 5, 2023.

Besides Spotify, many other audiobook retailers carry Waterspell, some at a discount off the $24.95 regular price. Audible offers the four-book boxed set (50 hours of audio) for a single credit. Such a deal!

For a complete list of retailers, please see the Audio page: https://www.waterspell.net/audio/

Thanks for listening!

What readers say about the Waterspell fantasy series

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Book Review: Hearts of Ice and Stone by Martin Dukes

Hearts of Ice and Stone by Martin Dukes
 
Review: Hearts of Ice and Stone
by Martin Dukes
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
 
Book description: Laura never realised she was different, or that she was touched in some way by the heavens, until she first set foot, contrary to all law and tradition, within the portals of Darkharrow. Here, in the remote Eastings of Britannia, far from the wealth and the power of London, the dead lie sleeping beneath the ancient towers and cloisters of the great abbey. For some, destiny dictates that their long slumber shall endure until the last trump sounds and all the dead shall rise from their graves, but for some the care of the Camalodolite Order shall reawaken them long before that day. No one has ever been able to look upon the countenances of the departed and tell whether they may be awakened, whether their hearts are of ice or of stone – until now.
 
Caught between the competing affections of those who love her, threatened by those who would destroy her, Laura finds herself enmeshed in a web of conspiracy that draws upon her deepest resources and enforces choices upon her that are of the most momentous kind.
 
My review: Dark, fascinating, original, and beautifully written
 
I love this book! It is utterly engrossing and kept me turning the pages late into the evening. I give it 10 stars for the original storytelling, masterful writing, fascinating characters, and a crisp, compelling plot that sweeps the reader into an ever-darkening story. The prose is elegant and perfectly matched to the story’s brooding, spooky, gothic aesthetic. Fans of Edgar Allan Poe and of Bronte’s Wuthering Heights will revel in this book. I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended. Take a chance on an author you might not know — you won’t be disappointed.

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