Coming Next:

Dominion Of The Banished

Andry Rovilet toggled his crawler’s controls and watched the view screen as the drone lifted. As soon as the bird cleared the mount, the picture shuddered, flipped, and spun. Onscreen, rocky ground rushed forward. Then everything fritzed to black.

That was the third crash. This wind was not going to cooperate. Way too gusty. The whole squad knew it, of course, but orders were orders. By the time Cap told them to lock down the drones, Andry had lost two more.

Heavy fliers had already scouted this far northern edge of Acquiana, Dominion’s largest continent. Their findings were on record, so these additional forays were a waste of good spyflies. No one really believed Command was looking for the missing shuttle down here. It could have sunk in the ocean or blown farther north across the straits to Darven, the nearest continent, or to the islands. Submarine crawlers had scoured the depths and other terrestrial squads had scouted Darven, with no luck. No physical traces remained. Sooner or later, Command would have no choice but to take the search to the Quaking Isles. That was their last resort before they had to admit that the only remaining evidence of the shuttle came from space. The unshielded, underpowered, inadequately equipped craft had transited. As incredible as that seemed, the hypergate log verified it. Which was what Andry’s sister Linayd had been saying all along.

“All right, people,” Cap’s voice said in the ear jack. “Spread out. Use the ground-sounders.”

Andry was in lead position on the northeast side of the broad semicircle of crawlers. Cap’s order sent him toward the straits at an angle. With so many hoodoos and other rock formations in the way, he’d be jigging and jogging his way along. That was slow enough without the erratic ground tremors. If only those had a rhythm, he could compensate for them. As it was, he could only ask the crawler to creep a few paces at a time. At random intervals, it skittered sideways or slipped backward or bounced along the ground. Plus, the tremors added their own dimension to the discordant electronic signals coming from the islands, or from above or below them. The locus kept moving. Maybe headquarters could make sense of it, given enough info, but the islands’ electrical storms and tremors would make tracing a downed shuttle impossible. And there was no downed shuttle.

Still, Command had his squad wasting their time, going through this exercise. Why? What were they really expecting to find here?

At last, Andry’s crawler reached the far side of the rough karst terrain. He steered it into a smooth, shallow canyon, the former path of a sunken river.

A flurry of pings called his attention to the ground-penetrating sensors. Something below was setting off the alarms.

His first thought was that karsters ousted from Stonegarden might have stashed more stolen galienite. If so, he needed to get there first. Even with their father dead and Andry’s jack of a brother in change, Cor Rovilet deserved a heads-up.

The topography had been running downhill from the karst to the shore. Just ahead, the underground river emerged and fanned out from a ragged cave. That would give him access. He’d take a look when he finished this run, unless Cap recalled them too soon.

As Andry’s crawler came within sight of the straits, another tremor hit. He halted for a minute and watched erratic waves slap the shore. Those gray lumps of islands in the distance were the center of all this seismic activity.

The waves grew larger and more coordinated, and then his eyes played tricks on him. The waves weren’t the only thing moving. The shore was. It was like crack-the-whip. The water moved, which energized the ground, so it moved, too. Or maybe vice versa.

His crawler lifted off the rocks and slammed down again, throwing him into the crash webbing and knocking his head against the side panel.

The earth shimmied and sank. Waves flooded toward him. A crack opened in the rocks to his right, sucking the river and incoming waves into its depths. The Quaking Isles were definitely doing their worst today.

“All, right, pack it in,” came Cap’s command.

Andry put the crawler in reverse and gunned it out of there.

Fair and Sunny

Yesterday marked the beginning of Fair Season, prime time for outdoor events. My sweet husband transported my books, my displays, and all my personas to the Ohio Author’s Book Fair at Destination Outlets in Jeffersonville.

The personas, in this case, are my active pen names: Jora Dublinn for science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal adventures; J Levesque for poetry and memoirs. Both fall under the umbrella of my publishing self: Windwritten Press.

The weather being gorgeous, we soon traded our indoor spot for the great outdoors, sheltered by the mall overhang. I appreciated that convenience since we did not bring a tent.

I hadn’t established a temporary vendor booth in ages, not since my hippy-dippy days of making jewelry and blue-jean clothing and accessories. I had forgotten how much I enjoy doing these events. Though I am an introvert most of the time, perfectly happy writing in isolation, meeting with other authors and enthusiastic readers is such a pleasure. Even more exciting is encouraging new or wishful writers. Everyone has a story and a way of telling it. Helping people find their way is a treat.

If you see me out there, stop by to say hello!

Coming Soon

The Dominion Saga Book 3


Denneval Rovilet shoved aside the spear the Yag had used to prod him awake. The filthy savages weren’t going to kill him yet, or they would’ve done it already. Through his one functional eye he had a view of black dirt overtopped by a dark green scrim. The jungle landscape got clearer as he blinked and pushed himself to a sitting position.

Even when the Yags yanked on the rope around his neck, Denneval took his time getting to his feet. With his wrists bound, brushing the dirt off his hands didn’t work. That bothered him until he realized he could absorb every trace of bloodstone from it. Boreian earth left a lush aftertaste on his palms that he had never forgotten. No matter how he enriched Dominion, he hadn’t been able to produce soil like this. Maybe in another hundred years or a thousand, Dominion would be this productive. It’d be nice if he could load up all the dirt from Boreia and take it home. Hells, it’d be nice if he could take himself back home, with or without the stuff.

Another poke in the ribs made him whirl around and strike with his elbow.

Rey Hardrow hopped backward, dodging the blow. “Hold it, Scrapper.” Rey offered Denneval a chunk of root that still had soil clinging to it. “Better eat while we can.”

Rey kept another piece for himself. Neither of them cleaned the dirt off before they ate. The root was bland with a hint of lime and a big dollop of bloodstone. Chewing the grit couldn’t be good for their teeth, but Denneval would take all the bloodstone he could get.

When the Yags yanked the rope again and headed deeper into the jungle, Denneval followed them closely enough that the rope around his neck was slack, unlike the one cutting into his wrists. He kept his eyes on the ground so he wouldn’t trip on roots and vines. Being dragged again was something he’d prefer to avoid. 

He licked his lips, savoring the last of the bloodstone that lingered there. Every bit of soil in the whole jungle was full of it. That was the only good thing about this jacked up planet. And instead of making him jittery like too much bloodstone dust did when he was home, the soil and the liquid version the Yag witch fed them―harasha they called it―made him feel like he could fly. Fly right out of here. Or run. He’d escaped this place once before. He could do it again if he wanted to. And he could take more bloodstones with him.

He glanced back at Rey, at the end of another rope, like a beast on a lead. Being led to slaughter, both of them.

That had to be the Yags’ ultimate plan. A thickening, invisible fog of hate and joy radiated from somewhere ahead, and it had the Yag witch’s flavor.

Why did she bring them here? Why feed them harasha? Why keep them alive? He didn’t know, but it wouldn’t be for any good purpose.

They walked all day without food and when they stopped for the night, he and Rey ate more of the dirt-covered roots while the Yags cooked a pig-like creature and sprinkled it with harasha.

The aroma billowed across the darkening camp and carried him off into the blackness. He inhaled a long, hungry breath. Images came like broken holos―being shot down outside the Domaine, being caught by the Yags, a lift ship. He was a prisoner again.

The next morning, brightness woke him. Overhead, the green canopy rocked like a cradle. Or he was rocking. He smelled living water, full of plants and fish, and heard it splashing about him. Between him and the water was some kind of wood. With no force fields on Boreia, all his senses―and some he didn’t know he had―were clearer than ever.

Even before he looked around, Denneval was aware of Rey, lying beside him in the bottom of a hollowed log that served as a canoe. He knew the Yags were there, too. One stood at his feet, using a pole to steer. At their heads, another Yag pointed the way. Denneval concentrated as best he could, but he didn’t hear, see, or taste any sign of other humans, nor any other Yags, for that matter.,

The boat’s motion rolled him up against Rey. In a sudden shift, he went from seeing an extreme close-up of the weather-worn karster to seeing a scarred face topped by blond hair. Himself. He hated when that happened. Scooting as far from Rey as he could, he broke the connection. His vision went back to normal. After a while, the boat rocked him to sleep.

A heavy bump roused him. The two Yags dragged the boat ashore.

When one of them grabbed him, the urge to follow the bastards intensified. Resisting their damned mental urges was a lot harder when they were in physical contact. He shook free. As he did, he got too close to the bone-like beads that dangled from the fellow’s loincloth. A spark jumped the gap, burning like a coal and leaving a raw spot on Denneval’s thigh.

The Yags yanked the ropes again. Denneval and Rey trotted along behind them.

Space Travel

Two private ventures have just launched tourists into the edge of space. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic was followed nine days later by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Passengers saw the curvature of the earth, the thin line of atmosphere, and the lack of borders. They experienced the thrill of weightlessness. For a price varying between $250,000 and $28,000,000, we could also take the ride. Would you? I certainly would.

I won’t, because it is financially out of my reach. But I have no ill feelings about the cost. Private ventures are certainly entitled to recoup their expenses and make a profit. I applaud and admire the organizational effort to reach beyond. So instead of physically traveling, I will continue to fantasize, to read, and to write.

In my Dominion Saga, humans are terraforming and settling the distant planet, Dominion. In another part of the galaxy, a settlement on the remote moon Lazakh is facing some challenges. The Artimas series is headquartered on the well-established planet, Soliterre, the center of the Crown Alliance that rules this galactic sector. The Crown Alliance’s enforcement arm, Outwatch, patrols all planets, near and far, within that territory. The Outwatch Adventures and spinoffs carry us to other far-flung planets. I could go on and on, but perhaps my time is better spent continuing to write the stories.

I’m wishing you a wonderful ride, whether on the shiny new spacecraft created here on Earth or via the pages of fiction, be they mine or someone else’s.

Escaping Myself

We are nearly at the end of an intense period of isolation, kept here by concern for those at greatest risk during this pandemic. Now we have received our vaccinations, and restrictions are being lifted. Even so, I am stepping cautiously into the stream of humanity, not plunging headlong into the pool. In fact, I have enjoyed isolation so much that I may have to force myself to venture forth.

Being an introvert has been an advantage. Whenever I yearned for escape, all I had to do was reach within and make up a story. Thanks to my subconscious, I have plenty of plot ideas to work on. Eventually, you’ll see the results.

Reading someone else’s stories is an even easier escape. Authors who entertained me include the following.

Bernhard Hennen’s three book Saga of the Elven is the engrossing, time-spanning tale of Northlander Jarl Mandred, the elf queen Emerelle, and the two elves who love her more than themselves, Farodin and Nuramon.

Jim Butcher’s six book series, Codex Alera follows the young boy Tavi in a world that relies on the magical elementals of earth, air, fire, water, wood, and metal–the furies–to withstand savage enemies.

Nathan Van Coops’ two book series, Kingdom of Engines, posits a modern world with fast cars and sword fights to determine who shall sit at the Round Table and who shall dispense justice.

E. Rose Sabin’s Arucadi Series takes us across a fictional country, following windspeakers, mages, demons, and the gifted. We visit the Simonton School for the Magically Gifted, plunge into the Dire Realms, and travel the land seeking adventure, safety, and answers.

Iris Champion’s three volume Lioness Diaries take us from Savanna’s heartbreaking real-world crises of divorce and autism to the alien but all-too-human world of the Arcturans as Savanna discovers the eternal inner power of the Lioness. This one is adults-only as she connects with her steamy love interest.

Katie Aiken Ritter’s Norse Adventure Series carries us across Viking-era Iceland and beyond as brave characters fight against corrupt men and women who would rule and betray them.

A.G. Riddle’s The Long Winter Trilogy begins in the near future when aliens draw power from our sun and throw us into a fatal ice age. The adventure doesn’t end here.

So, despite social distancing, isolation, and even a period of quarantine, I traveled across the universe. I hope you had as much fun as I did

New Life

Spring is fast approaching, and it has never been more welcome. On this precious earth, green shoots will insinuate themselves upward through the soil and raise their tender noses into the crisp air, new life from old.

And, no doubt, new life arises on distant planets in the ongoing exultation of creation. The possibilities of such life are thrilling. On earth, we have birds, insects, and more minute biota in the air. We have thousands (millions?) of species on the land. And in the sea, we have creatures who can sustain themselves despite enormous barometric pressure, lack of oxygen, and volcanic heat. Who can begin to imagine what form life may take on other worlds?

When or if we encounter such life forms, they may welcome us or not. If they are not immediately fatal or incompatible, will contact benefit both species, or one alone? Science fiction has long explored the possibilities behind that question.

Even here on earth, not all life coexists peaceably. The ongoing pandemic is only the latest example. The good news for this spring is that vaccines may protect us. Our species is worthy of life. So are others.

As much as possible, and despite the inherent contradictions, let us work to preserve life in all its amazing forms.

Visual Artists

I am a visual creature. If I were able to transfer the scenes in my brain directly to video, life would be easy, and my productivity would be amazing. As it is, I have to translate the images to words, which for me is an incredibly slow process.

What helps is to have an image in front of me as I work. For that reason–and because art is addictive–I create covers for books I have yet to write. They keep me focused, they inspire me to move forward, and they give me pleasure.

Here are a few, mostly representing the first books in a series. Included are science fiction, fantasy, and science fantasy. If any of them make you want to read the book, let me know.


November is almost here. National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is a widespread challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The original rule is to create and finish an entirely new story during that time. I, however, am a Rebel. I’m still working on the third book of my trilogy. Here’s an excerpt:

Jerrevis Rovilet had heard enough. His production master needed new filtration stands. The plantation master wanted to rotate crops in the west foothills. The mine supervisor said it was time to replace the lower conveyor. Well, do it! Didn’t any of these people have a gram of initiative? If he had to make every little decision, why did he need them?

None of the section masters had acted like that when his father was Cor Master. Father would have handed them their asses if they bothered him with every little detail. They’d regressed to the way they’d operated under Grandfather, and that was over fifteen years ago. Jerrevis blew up again and cut the meeting short.

Going straight from his office in Cor Rovilet’s ground level dome to the egress, he buckled on a shield-belt, exited through Seed Gate, and commandeered a skimmer off the landing pad. He barely gave the guards time to clear him through the outer perimeter.

These people were enough to drive a man insane. Maybe there was a reason his father went nuts. A reason besides his damned drugs.

Holdgrass waved madly in the skimmer’s path until he got past the remnants of Stonegarden’s old settlement. The above-ground buildings had been knocked flat and the cover crop had nearly overgrown the debris. Farther out, the white sun was blinding when it glanced off bare limestone outcroppings. Then he was off, racing across the karst, just clearing the hoodoos and zipping through broad ravines.

His com buzzed. In no mood for more stupid questions, he ignored it.

It buzzed again and kept buzzing.

He shunted the call to the skimmer’s system. Before he bellowed out what he was thinking, he saw the display. The call wasn’t from Cor Rovilet. It was from Sombres, his wife’s father. It was voice only, no cam.

“Master Sombres, what can I do for you?”

“Well, there Master Rovilet, this ain’t who you think it is, but you better be glad you finally answered your com.”

Some kid, playing games? The voice sounded older. Definitely uneducated.

“Don’t even think about ending the call, if you know what’s good for you and yours.”

“Who the hells is this?”

“You oughta be able to figure it out. Pretty sure it’ll come to you in a minute. Anyways, in spite of the way we was treated by your Council, I’m calling to do you a favor.”

Jerrevis itched to kill the call, but he refused to be the butt of anyone’s joke. When he found out who this was, they’d be sorry.

“What do you want?”

“I just want a fair trade. More than fair on our part, considerin’ what you domers done to us.”

The voice and the words clicked. A karster. Enrec Stonegarden. The Domaine Council had booted the karster and his people off their landhold. Enrec and his sister Hanit, Father’s damned karster secondwife, had been smuggling ore and Gentera. Jerrevis slowed the skimmer and triggered a signal seeker.

“What the hells do you have left to trade, Stonegarden?”

“Information. Ain’t that a big thing with you domers?”

“And what do you think you know that I would care about? Where to find the best scrap metal? How to dig a rabbit out of its hole? We’re not really interested in the same kind of thing.”

“You’d be surprised how much we know that would make you sit up and take notice.”

“Then quit jacking around and tell me.”

The tracker showed that the com was north and west of here, and moving. Jerrevis adjusted course and increased his speed.

“Well, the thing is, you see, your pa and your sister are senners.”

“What the hells do you think―”

“Yeah, my condolences and all that. Pretty stinkin’ bad luck, ain’t it?”

“You are insane. No one would believe that.”

“They would when they see the proof. We got vids. Plenty of vids. And eyewitnesses. Plenty of them, too.”

Jerrevis felt his gut clench. “Then the vids are faked. My father and two of my sisters are dead. And the other sister is with Outwatch. If she were a senner, everyone would know it.”

“Ain’t Linayd that’s a senner. It’s that little one. Fioni. That’s her name, ain’t it?”

“Fioni and my father are dead.” He was ready to shit or vomit, or maybe both. He gritted his teeth. “You’re lying and you’re banished. Who the hells would believe you?”

“They’d believe these vids and the witnesses. Don’t try to fool yourself. But I ain’t tryin’ to give you no heartburn. No one’s gotta see the evidence. No, sir. I’m just a poor karster tryin’ to make a livin’ out here in the nowhere.”

So, blackmail. “What’s your price?”

“There now, that’s better, ain’t it? Just business. No hard feelin’s.”

“How much?”

“One load of metal scrap and one load of supplies―and I mean decent food, enough for five families for a month. You deliver that every week, and I’ll keep my information to myself.”

That wouldn’t be the end of it. But these karsters wouldn’t be that hard to kill, either.

“All right,” Jerrevis said. “Where do we deliver it?”

“There’s an abandoned hold in the karst. Used to be called Dregs. I’ll send you the coordinates. You just lower the stuff nicely into the hidey-hole and we’ll take it from there.”


“One month from today. Oh, and not that you would do such a thing, bein’ an honest businessman and all, but if you forget to keep the bargain or somethin’ goes wrong, I’ll be sending a copy of the vids to your Council.”

“Look, whatever you think you’ve got, it’s a lie. But I don’t mind providing a little charity. That’s all this is.”

A croaking laugh came over the speaker. “Yeah, whatever. Nice doin’ business with you, Master Rovilet. I’ll be in touch.”

Jerrevis saved the tracker data and looked up the location for a place called Dregs. There was no record of it. That’s all right. He knew some people who’d be only too glad to do him a service, for a price. All they had to do was hide out, follow the karsters who picked up the supplies, and kill them all.


During the past few months, I have participated in several interesting voyages, but only in the most peripheral sense.

At the end of May, SpaceX transported two astronauts to the International Space Station. I snapped photos of the televised launch and subsequent docking from the comfort of my home, just as I had photographed grainy black and white images of the first steps on the moon over 50 years ago.

At the end of June, my son’s family drove to a remote cabin in northern Michigan for a change of scenery. We kept the granddog and vicariously enjoyed lakes and waterfalls via remote viewing.

And at the beginning of August, the astronauts returned, so I took more pictures.

Then we received our Google travel report. The April update had shown that we traveled 5100 miles during 2020, touring Florida and returning to Ohio. The May, June, and July all stay within a forty-mile radius of home. The forays generally revolve around the grocery story or meal carry-out. More and more of these little getaways are simply to prove there is still a world out there. We cruise the countryside and admire horses, hawks and alpacas from the safe-zone of our car. We would love to get back to Albuquerque, but are not ready to board a plane, stay in hotels, or mingle.

One day, we shall hit the highways and airways again. Until then, we’re watching the Travel Channel. And remembering.


Eighty days later, I am still in virtual quarantine. Concern about my own health is not the issue. I avoid exposure to the coronavirus to protect people I love.

For me, introvert that I am, the arrangement is more than comfortable. So comfortable that I have little desire to reunite with the world. Agoraphobia is a likely result of this luxurious me-time.

Avoiding physical interaction is easy, thanks to the web. Plus, local businesses carry on while minimizing risk to staff and public. Our auto mechanic has a no-contact drop-off and payment process that works perfectly. Yesterday, in his first outing, my husband said his masked barber handled him with “kid gloves” in an empty shop, plus my husband washed up when he got home. I do the grocery shopping masked, gloved, and with a follow-up cleaning ritual. If we had reliable home delivery, I would skip that interaction.

Doesn’t this all sound otherworldly? Dystopian? Science fictional?

Given humankind’s propensity for storytelling, and the distrust that pervades our culture, divisive conspiracy theories are going wild. Such speculation makes for interesting stories, though. Let’s use the material for entertainment, not to generate actual fear. Enjoy the good; overcome the bad.