Predatory Power (Terrestrial Magic Book 3) is Out!

The technology of Rome and the magic of the neighboring legends–working together to uncover the mysteries of basilisks and strixes.

Tired of standing alone against magical attacks, Jordan and her allies finally get a research alliance off the ground, combining science and magic to understand the world they live in after the Boom–the cataclysm that brought dangerous legendary animals into everyone’s lives. Jordan believes it’s exactly what’s needed for human and legend communities alike to survive. But there are dissenting opinions, some of them from powerful enemies.

The research collective barely has a chance to start before an attack sends its members reeling. With the alliance in danger of fragmenting, can Jordan discover who attacked them and hold the collective together? And if this alliance can break apart so easily–is it even worth saving?

Predatory Power is available from all major retailers here.

Comes the Crimson Mist: Cover Reveal and Blurb

The sequel to my YA epic fantasy novel Chains Carried on Wings is now available for pre-order. It’ll release on February 21st. So–introducing Comes the Crimson Mist:

A girl stands surrounded by a red mist in a forest. Text reads "Comes the Crimson Mist, Marina Ermakova".

Magic and machinations collide as four teenagers race to stop an otherworldly threat…

It was the city of Halfice that had led the attack on Saig’s home of Running Water–so Halfice would be the target of Saig’s infiltration mission. Struggling to stay ahead of the subterfuge pervading the city, she must come into her own to unravel the enemies’ secrets. Meanwhile, Ande must manipulate the players into sabotaging themselves. Both of them are essential to the mission’s success–if they can figure out how to work together.

Trei embarks on an espionage mission of his own, joining the mysterious and dangerous Magsak. He’ll discover how they fit into the plots against Running Water…unless they shape him into a tool for their own use first.

Back home, Auris decides how to guide her city as the new headwoman. But Running Water’s foes won’t stay away just because one assault was repelled. Auris must safeguard her home until the others return with the knowledge they need to fight back.

All of them are running out of time, as their enemies’ well-established plans move towards completion. They can’t afford for a single one of them to fail. Because if they do…Running Water won’t stand a chance.

Available for preorder from all major retailers.

How My Biological Background Informed My Urban Fantasy World

A quote that reads "Science is a 
self-correcting process of discovery, 
not a collection of facts."

‘Write what you know’ was in the forefront of my mind as I brainstormed the worldbuilding for the book that would become Terrestrial Magic.

But as an undergrad in a molecular biology program some ten years ago (now a PhD graduate), I’d puzzled over how to use my scientific background to inform the genre I wanted to write: urban fantasy. I wanted an aspect of adventure in the forefront, rather than setting a large part of the story in a lab . Which left me thinking of ways to incorporate some kind of field work. Legendary creatures were a natural worldbuilding element to incorporate, one that allowed me to crosslink biology with fantasy by having my protagonist use science to study magical animals.

That left me with the decision for how science would inform the details of the story. A lot of the inaccuracies I see in the portrayal of science in the media stem from a misunderstanding of the basics. Science is a self-correcting process of discovery, not a collection of facts.

A quote that reads "The heart of this series 
is about assumptions 
getting tested, 
about finding out more than 
we knew before."

This made me want to focus on portraying the generalities of science. Research as an exploration of the unknown. The way that scientists might think through their problems. How logical and detail-oriented thoughts might come through in the narration.

The scientific process is also slower than people usually assume–although 2020 might have changed some of those expectations. As such, in the beginning of the series, I mix the science happening in the background with plot problems that can move more quickly. The characters need time to advance their research, and maybe a plan to harness magic to expedite the process, before they can discover any answers to the series’ biggest questions.

The heart of this series is about assumptions getting tested, about finding out more than we knew before. Every aspect of the story is informed by the role that discovery plays in it. And that’s all because of how much the scientific process was on my mind as I was building this world.

Terrestrial Magic and Natural Sorcery are part of the Jordan Sanders urban fantasy/post-apocalyptic series.

The covers of two books--Terrestrial Magic and Natural Sorcery.

Writing Update July 2020 and Virology Podcast Recommendation

So I’m easing back into blogging, if only because so many of us need something else to focus on. Racial injustice and the global pandemic are still very much issues taking up a lot of my attention and I’m not committing to a schedule for this blog yet. Today, I’d like to do a quick update on my writing progress and share a link to a virology podcast.

Writing Updates

Chains Carried on Wings 2 – first draft ~76% complete

This is my main project at the moment. I envision this series as a trilogy and once book 2 is done I’ll be writing either Terrestrial Magic 3 or Chains Carried on Wings 3.

I also have approximately half a dozen short stories that I’m still deciding what to do with. Some of them need editing, but I’d rather work on my novels at the moment than make time for them. Maybe I’ll put out an anthology at some point?

Recommended Podcast

This Week in Virology – I recommend getting information on the pandemic from scientists. The hosts of this show are experienced virologists and microbiologists, as well as science communicators.

Pre-Publication Urban Fantasy Web Serials I’m Currently Following

I’m following along with the publication of two web serials by veteran urban fantasy authors, and I thought I’d share while they’re running:

Cursed Luck by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong has dozens of books across the fantasy and mystery/thriller genres, including a long history of urban fantasy. In Cursed Luck, she introduces us to a new setting, featuring the curse weaver Kennedy–who runs her own antiques shop in Boston, as she tries to ply the family trade on her own.

Kennedy’s minding her own business, until a whole slew of supernaturals turn up hunting an infamous cursed item–and turn to Kennedy’s family to uncurse it. By abducting her sisters. (Obviously, she’d not letting that stand.)

I’ve been enjoying how the protagonist draws lines for what she won’t tolerate. I’m not fully caught up–I tend to like getting a bit of a backlog so I can read several parts of these kinds of series in one go–but what I’ve read so far has been a fun story.

Ryder by Ilona Andrews (I think the title is temporary?)

This story is set in the same universe as the authors’ Kate Daniels series, following one of the side characters after she’d had time to grow up. In a post-apocalyptic Atlanta with alternating waves of magic and tech, Ryder’s returning home after a long absence.

She can’t actually contact most of her family for world-building reasons and she looks completely different, which leads to an interesting dynamic–she’s back in the city where she grew up, she’s meeting a lot of people that she knows already, but all of them think they’re strangers. That’s an intriguing dynamic to watch unfold.

The story has only started kicking off with her getting into her investigations, but it’s promising, and I’m really enjoying it so far. You might have to use the search bar to find all the parts, but they’re clearly labeled.

Musing About Finishing the Books Whose First Drafts Date Back Years Ago

With the release of Natural Sorcery, I have now officially published all of the long-form stories whose first drafts date, at least partially, from my undergraduate/early graduate lifetime or earlier. This is a huge relief.

It can be hard to realize how your writing changes and evolves until you go back to something that you’d written years before, and then suddenly you can see all the differences. And I’m still going to have the same problem with respect to drafts that I’ve started during my late graduate phase–which will inevitably have to wait their turn for publication until I complete at least one of the series I’m working on right now–but at least then I’ll be working with drafts that came from a time when I was a better writer.

And it’s not just the writing style on its own that makes me relieved to be working with things I wrote when I was older. The ideas I have for how I want to move these stories forward have changed. Terrestrial Magic as a series is always going to have its wild, chaotic world-building that can never be tamed. That’s what I’d seeded into the story when I started writing it forever ago. And I’ve accepted that in order to write that series–which I still think is very much worth writing, despite how hard I made the world-building and plotting on myself–I have to just let go and have fun with it.

But it’ll be nice to start some writing projects with world-building and plots and themes that’ll feel a little bit more like I can control them.

Unless, of course, I move on to my next projects and realize that much of this is wishful thinking. Because for all I know, my writing will always feel at least a bit like it’s gotten away from me.

One of the things I’ve had to accept, in order to start publishing, is that it’s next to impossible to have the perfect book. Projects are always going to be flawed and are probably never going to feel like exactly like what I intended. But finishing them and putting them out in the world still has value. Especially if these books find the readers that connect with them.

So really, I always have to be aware of that line between when the book really isn’t ready yet, and when it’s as ready as it’s going to be. But until then, I’m going to let myself dream just a little bit that maybe the perfect project does exist. Even if I know it doesn’t.

Free Digital Copies of Terrestrial Magic and Natural Sorcery is Released

Natural Sorcery is now out.

I’ve also been thinking about what to make available for free during the current upheaval–unfortunately, I don’t have a huge back catalog to choose from. So I decided to give away digital ebook copies of Terrestrial Magic (first in the series for Natural Sorcery, not including the bonus content in the retail version) alongside the hundred other books available at the Pages and Potions Giveaway. This giveaway will be active until May 6th.

The almost-final draft of Terrestrial Magic is also available as a web series here. Note that the ebook version has been lightly edited from the original web serial.

Natural Sorcery: First Chapter Preview and Pre-Order

cropped-natural-sorcery_paperback-3.jpg

Pre-orders for Natural Sorcery are now up. The book will release on April 23rd as an ebook.

Chapter One

The sun beat down over expansive, even fields that stretched out towards a background of rocky hills. Farmlands were not my thing, so I couldn’t identify the various crops that were laid out in rows before me. Not that I had any business doing so, or even being here. I should have been out in the uncultivated wilds, conducting my research far away from where the food production happened—the legendary animals (called legimals) that I was interested in weren’t exactly a welcome sight here.

Instead, I found myself in the passenger seat of a pick-up as Tony parked it past a gated entrance, in front of a couple of small buildings. The oppressively hot air greeted me when I climbed out of the car, a layer of sweat appearing over my skin almost instantaneously.

Ah, the joys of Mediterranean summers. Continue reading “Natural Sorcery: First Chapter Preview and Pre-Order”

Natural Sorcery is Coming: Blurb Reveal

A woman with water supernaturally rising around her. The text reads "Rome was supposed to be safe...That was before the local legends started using their magic."

Rome was supposed to be safe–or at least safer than 90% of the planet. That was before the local legends started using their magic to destroy the food supply. 

Considered one of Rome’s experts on legends, mostly because she keeps surviving their assassination attempts, Jordan finds herself racing to find the culprits before they strike again. But legends wield powers that aren’t documented, understood, or predictable. And Jordan isn’t even a soldier. She’s just some scientist unlucky enough to stumble over the local political mess. 

The chances of getting murdered by magic beyond her comprehension is disconcertingly high. But if this unknown legend goes unchecked, Rome won’t survive the next few years…and Jordan doesn’t have it in her to walk away from that.

Ninth House: An Unforgiving, Gritty Look at Power Dynamics

Words read "Ninth House, Leigh Bardugo". A snake is entwined through the words.

You may have heard some of the discussion about this book, the heavy topics that it deals with. Trigger warnings that people have mentioned. So I will say upfront that, yes, this book tackles some uncomfortable topics. I’d advise anyone interested to look up those trigger warnings beforehand, just so you know what you’re getting into.

That said, I found this to be a powerful story about power dynamics. About how power is used and how it’s abused. And about an angry protagonist who’s been burned by the world reclaiming some of that power. Continue reading “Ninth House: An Unforgiving, Gritty Look at Power Dynamics”