Come in, come in! Welcome to the library (my personally favorite place anywhere besides, you know, the kitchen). In this room you’ll find the walls adorned with mismatched and makeshift bookshelves acquired through garage sales, barn auctions, and the occasional roadside trash pile. Some of the books in this growing collection are tattered and worn, while others shine fresh and spotless, but one thing they all have in common: each holds a story of battered heroes and broken souls rising above the darkness and coming into light and life. Of misfits finding fellowship. Of outcasts coming home.
This humble case here holds the stories I’ve written. Please enjoy!
Standalone Novels and Short Stories
The Forgotten Hero — Fantasy/Cozy Mystery
What happens when you mix a sea dragon, a scarred fisherman, and a stubborn merchant’s daughter? A quirky adventure for fans of Howl’s Moving Castle and Terry Pratchett! This title is currently out of print . . . for now. But check out other misadventures with Skeer and his whimsical world in Tales of a Forgotten Hero on the Havok e-zine!
Red Ribbon — Jeremy Nishida didn’t think he needed friends until a mysterious curse threatens to make him disappear—literally! YA /Contemporary
The Riftbreaker Chronicles — YA Fantasy/ Supernatural
Sebastian and Kurt went hunting for treasure but found ancient magic instead. Bound by friendship and a thousand-year grudge, they take on the world’s prejudice in search of a cure. Currently published as flash fiction through the Havok e-zine. But we have big ideas for these magic boys . . . Check out their story, Into the Abyss, in audio!
Novels & Series
The Journey Taken — YA Fantasy/Sci-fi
An Epic Fantasy Adventure with Ancient Magic, Deadly Dangers, and an Encounter with Destiny ─ Wherein a Mage Princess Allies with Fugitive Mercenaries to Foil an Impostor King from Destroying the Known World. Currently out of print (but, Lord willing, not forever)
From hereon is a collection of beloved tales from other authors you might enjoy reading! (Note: books/films are listed in alphabetical order by title. Because that’s how my brain works)
A Silent Voice— Author: Yoshitoki Oima • Format: Manga/Film • Genre: YA/Contemporary
In elementary school, Shoya and his classmates bully the new kid, a deaf girl named Shoko. When she transfers out, Shoya shoulders all of the blame and is bullied in return. Years later, in high school, he finds Shoko again and tries to make friends, having now experienced the same kind of rejection and humiliation as she did. The story follows these two young people as they struggle to open up and ‘hear’ one another as well as others, battling themes of guilt, loneliness, self-loathing, and worth. With a touch of awkward-teenager humor and romance. I loved this story for the two main characters (and Nagatsuka), who are dealing with hurt and wondering if they’re truly worthy of the fellowship they so desperately need. It’s heartfelt and heartrending and a beautiful image of reconciliation and hope.
Alpha— Format: Film • Genre: prehistoric/survival
Thin and meek, Keda struggles to prove his worth as a man of the tribe, finally getting a chance during the Great Hunt, which will take them miles from home to the black bison that will feed their people through the coming winter. But during the hunt he is injured and left for dead. Regaining consciousness and finding himself alone, Keda faces the trials of a hostile land on his desperate journey home. With the companionship of a wild wolf that he saved, he proves to himself more than anyone else that he does have the will to survive and that true strength can be found when fighting for others. I was surprised to discover how much I enjoyed this story, even though it’s wrought with warts. I resonated with the desperation to survive and get back home. And the landscape is wild and beautiful.
Avatar: The Last Airbender— Format: TV series• Genre: PG-13 Asian-inspired fantasy
In a world where some people are born with the power to manipulate the elements, one person is born every generation who can control them all and shepherd balance between the divided nations and people, known as the Avatar. The latest Avatar rejected his role and ran away, disappearing for a century before being discovered frozen in ice by a pair of teen siblings. Thus begins their grand adventure to train the young Avatar in all the elements, outrun an emotionally constipated prince with an honor complex, his psych sister, and overthrow a power-hungry emperor before he uses a solar anomaly to dominate the world. Along the way they make new friends, combat injustice, learn lessons on the value of life, grace, mercy, peace, and how dangerous it is to aggravate a twelve-year-old earthbending champion. I loved this story of its sweeping grandeur, epic worldbuilding, and humor, but also for the family these kids forged as they traveled and endured so much together. For the themes of redemption, forgiveness, identity, and individual value each character discovered.
Barakamon— Author: Satsuki Yoshino • Format: Manga/Anime • Genre: slice of life, comedy
Young calligrapher Seishu Handa uproots his city life after assaulting the director of a contest he placed poorly in, moving to a rural island town to focus on his craft. While there, he interacts with the country folk who teach him more about life than he can teach them about calligraphy. What I love about this story, more than the antics these character get at and the hilarity of watching city slickers try to make it in the boonies, is the heart of humility and restoration. Handa ran away from what he did, and through his experiences with Naru and his neighbors learns about simple kindness and honesty. His art is renewed as he digs deeper into himself as a person, and he eventually reaches a place where he can return to the director to apologize and be restored. It’s fun, quirky, and heartfelt. Check out the more in-depth Goodreads review!
Demon Slayer— Author: Koyoharu Gotouge • Format: Manga/Anime • Genre: Historical fiction, YA horror, adventure
Taisho-era Japan (1912-1926) is haunted by vampire-like demons, but for Tanjiro, who lives in the remote mountains selling charcoal for a living, that is just rumors and superstition. Until he comes home one day to find his family slaughtered and his younger sister turned into a demon. Desperate to turn her back into a human, Tanjiro joins a corps of warriors known as Demon Slayers in order to find a cure and prevent what happened to him from happening to anyone else. Behind the gripping action, serpentine plot twists, and ridiculous attack names, this is a story about family, about a brother who wants to protect his sister, who sees her and believes she can be saved despite what the world says.
The Dragon Keep Chronicles— Author: C. M. Banschbach • Format: Novel • Genre: YA/NA Epic fantasy
Only one thing stands between the peace of Alsaya’s Clans and the dark powers of evil Druids, and that’s the Mountain Baron. Once cut off from his home to eek a living among outcasts, the Baron thunders into the brewing war to rescue his brother, who has been kidnapped by the Druids, and sets in motion a conflict not only between men, but ancient powers long forgotten. This story is chock full of snarky banter, salty cinnamon rolls, and the unshakable bonds of brotherhood that no scheme of man or magic can destroy. I loved it for these things, as well as the struggle of our beloved Baron between love and betrayal, the themes of forgiveness and restoration, and that the truth will always come to light.
For Whom the Sun Sings— Author: W.A. Faulkerson • Format: Novel • Genre: YA dystopia
The world fell apart in chaos a hundred years ago and what people are left live in a small mountain village. Quiet, structured, and blind. But Andrius was born with sight, and when a stranger wanders into their peaceful haven, it puts into question everything he thought he understood of the world. In pursuit of the truth, young Andrius is challenged by the Prophet and Regents, who lead the village with shrewd severity. What I loved about this story, apart from its unique setting and absolutely brilliant writing, was also what broke my heart in it. The purity of Andrius’s curiosity and desire to help his people is contrasted by the corruption and hubris of those in power who want to control them, with themes of perseverance and hope in seemingly hopeless situations. And that ending. Y’all, that ending unfolds with so much power.
From Up on Poppy Hill— Format: Film • Genre: YA historical fiction/slice-of-life/romance
While their mother is studying abroad, high schooler Umi Matsuzaki takes care of her younger siblings and grandmother. One day she meets Shun Kazama, a journalist for the school paper, and even though Umi is a mature, practical minded girl and Shun a loud and passionate young man, they soon become friends as they work together to save the school’s club building from being demolished for redevelopment. This cozy story warmed my heart with its quiet grace and youthful charm (prevalent in many Ghibli films by Miyazaki), as well as the journey the characters went into their respective family’s story, revealing a history of deep and abiding friendship between their deceased fathers. It carries bittersweet themes of treasuring the past, friendship, and growing up.
Greywolf’s Heart — Author: C.M. Banschback • Format: Novel (paperback, ebook) • Genre: Adventure/ Fantasy/Prehistoric/ Adult
In a wild land where warring tribes ride giant wolves and sabertoothed cats, a pair of estranged half-brothers must learn to work together if they want to save their village from being slaughtered. Comran is the legitimate heir to the throne, but the chief chooses his illegitimate son, Etran, to succeed him. Etran offers Comran the role of battlechief, a position second only to chiefhood, but while they lead by law, they struggle to trust each other and hold the tribe together. While at their weakest, their enemy strikes, plunging them into a drawn-out war that tests not only the brothers’ skills and resolve, but their hearts, forcing them to address the hurt of their upbringing and realize what they truly wanted—what they needed—all along. This story is as rugged and time-tested as the untamed country it’s set in, a tale of broken relationships and brotherhood, grim war and hidden light, hurtful miscommunication and the road to healing. To restoration and redemption. Banschbach is a master at crafting deep worlds and deeper characters with top-class snark.
Natsume’s Book of Friends — Author: Yuki Midorikawa • Format: Manga (graphic novel), Animated TV series • Genre: YA Japanese fiction/ Supernatural/Paranormal/ Urban fantasy
After his parents’ deaths, Natsume Takashi spends his childhood shuffled around the homes of his extended family, never fitting in and always accused of lying because he has a special ability inherited from his mysterious grandmother: the power to see spirits called Yokai, invisible creatures that are supposed to be myth and legend. By high school, Natsume comes to live in a small town with distant relatives, where he discovers that he’s also inherited from his late grandmother a strange book called the Book of Friends, which is filled with names she had taken from various Yokai. Now, Natusme’s days are filled with misadventures as he endeavors to return these names to their owners, escape malicious spirits who want the book for themselves, and help others with the aid of his self-proclaimed body guard and mentor, Madara. Having been outcast by people his entire life, Natsume struggles to connect with others and inadvertently makes friends with some local Yokai, even though he tries to avoid them, too, because of all the trouble they’ve caused him. But then he does begin to make connections with people who learn his secret and not only believe him, but accept him, and as the story progresses he’s challenged with how to navigate these relationships. How to protect those he cares about from the dangers of his Yokai-involved world. How to accept their help. It’s a beautiful and fun (and sometimes rather spooky!) story of a lost and lonely soul learning to trust and open up others, learning to value his gifts rather than curse them, and fight for the place and people he so desperately wants to call home.
Of Fire and Ash — Author: Gillian Bronte Adams • Format: Novel (hardback, ebook, audiobook) • Genre: YA Epic Fantasy
In a country where magical horses can breathe fire, stalk the shadows, and summon lightning, Ceridwen tal Desmond dreams of one day ruling the kingdom like her father. The only problem being that she’s been exiled to serve her people autonomously on the land’s outskirts—until a hunt for poachers uncovers a plot to murder the king. Elsewhere, Rafi tries to live quietly in a fishing village while muffling his dark and dangerous past, but invaders from his old home show up and threaten the new life and family he so desperately wants. And Jakim, a remnant of a desolated people, lies his way out of the Sanctuary to make a pilgrimage back to his old home—except the ship he’s on is attacked by invaders, who take him captive. Each of these characters struggle with false identity, misfits in a world that want to use and abuse them, and each journey into both the wider world and their own hearts to fight against what the world says they are. To be free. The world that Adams built for this story is rich and vast in scope and culture, and the characters themselves, while facing similar trials, are diverse in background, personality, and response to the battles before them. The books is a plunge into the deep end of epic YA fantasy.
Seventh City — Author: Emily Hayse • Format: Novel (paperback, ebook) • Genre: YA/Fantasy/ Adventure/ Survival
Set in a fictional world much like the Alaskan frontier, Maki sets out on a desperate quest for the legendary City of Gold when invaders burn her village and take her brother captive. Surviving in a harsh environment with untrained foreigners, facing ancient dangers that embody childhood nightmares, and testing her strength to the limit against land, man, and beast, Maki is determined to save her brother and bring him back home. But along the way she comes to learn that not all strangers are evil and that some costs might be too steep to pay. Hayse creates vivid and hauntingly beautiful world with a cast of colorful and endearing characters. This tale of family, courage, and growing up is a wild ride of part fantasy adventure, part wilderness survival, fraught with threats inside and out, and enemies that may not actually be as bad as they seemed. It tells of loyalty, sacrifice, love, and the gumption to keep stepping forward.
Treasure Planet — Directors: John Muskers & Ron Clements • Format: DVD, streaming video • Genre: PG/ Science Fantasy
A reimagination of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Planet follows a brilliant but headstrong youth named Jim Hawkins. Constantly running afoul with the authorities and causing trouble for his single mother, he dreams of going out into the wider world on adventure, to prove that he’s not the worthless troublemaker everyone thinks he is. Then it happens. After pirates burn his home down while chasing an old sailor with a treasure map, Jim embarks on a quest to follow that map. Along the way he’s challenged to learn humility and perseverance, suffers betrayal, and overcomes selfish pride as he uses his talents to do what’s right. This story has an incredible dynamic between Jim and the cyborg John Silver, who becomes a father figure to Jim, and has his own journey to make. The relationship between these two characters is a beautiful image of broken souls learning to heal and grow and become greater for having been in each others’ lives—all wrapped up in a wacky space-punk world with airship adventure, space whales, and amnesic robots. If you haven’t seen this movie yet (or want to again) . . . come over and let’s watch it! I’ll make popcorn.
List in progress . . .