OF CATS AND DRAGONS: Start here

NGwebcopy

Epic adventure. Arcane magic. Monsters. Heroes. Talking cats.

And we’re just getting started!

My best friend Carol and I have roamed the OF CATS AND DRAGONS world for over three decades, creating our stories in the telling — from our high school Dungeons & Dragons games to a private website where we’ve posted over three hundred stories and story fragments for each other alone. But now we are getting ready to share what we’ve conjured up.

It wasn’t easy, sorting through generations of characters, plots long and short, episodes half-forgotten and threads of tales never completed. From the moment Carol and I decided to write that first OF CATS AND DRAGONS novel, it took nearly a year of combing through storylines, weighing character arcs, before we arrived at a starting point.

Other decisions had to be made as well. While our stories range from Grimdark to slapstick, we had to pick one path. Ultimately we had to go with what the core really was — heroic fantasy with a touch of whimsy. A GAME OF THRONES without the naughty bits.

And while we had literally dozens of possible protagonists to choose from, we agreed that Omen and Tormy were at the center of our fantastical universe.

And from where should we launch the tale of their beautiful friendship? After a couple of false starts and at least another year of trying to figure it out, we decided to begin — at the beginning.

NIGHT’S GIFT is the pilot to our new series, one we hope to renew book after book for as long as we can still put word to page.

We are aiming for a late summer 2017 release date, but if you want to get a free pre-release ebook copy of NIGHT’S GIFT, just sign up here.

You can find us many places:

http://ofcatsanddragons.com

https://www.facebook.com/ofcatsanddragons/

Camilla:

Twitter @CamillaOchlan

Instagram: http://instagram.com/camillaochlan/

Carol:

http://caroleleever.deviantart.com

 

Advertisements

Reader Wednesday — The Werewolf Whisperer Paperback Is Here!

Bonita's Geeky Blog-Fu!

I’m super excited to share that the first book in my urban fantasy series — THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER  — is now available in paperback!

If you’re looking for a last minute stocking stuffer, grab a copy. Nothing says Feliz Navidad like the werewolf apocalypse!

WWW paperback stocking

Ferocious Werewolf Virus Hits L.A.
Werebeasts Rampage Through The Streets.
The City’s In Chaos.
Nobody’s Safe.

Enter Lucy Lowell, The Werewolf Whisperer.

Some call her savior.

Some call her bitch.

Xochi Magaña just calls her, FRIEND.

Together they kick Werebutt.

They thought there’d be no stopping them.

They didn’t know the half of it.

Welcome to the werewolf apocalypse. Hope you’re locked and loaded.

2018 Golden Quill Reader’s Choice

“THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER takes the lycanthrope legend to the OPPOSITE of obedience school. The result is a feral genre mix breed that will maul your expectations as if it were a McRib sandwich” – Goodreads Review

You’ll…

View original post 65 more words

THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER FREEBIE!

Free First in Series! Welcome to the Werewolf Apocalypse!

Bonita's Geeky Blog-Fu!

CYBER MONDAY STARTS TODAY

Get my book for FREE November 25 & 26!

Ferocious Werewolf Virus Hits L.A.
Werebeasts Rampage Through The Streets. 
The City’s In Chaos.
Nobody’s Safe.

Enter Lucy Lowell, The Werewolf Whisperer.

Some call her savior.

Some call her bitch.

Xochi Magaña just calls her, FRIEND.

Together they kick Werebutt.

They thought there’d be no stopping them.

They didn’t know the half of it.

Welcome to the werewolf apocalypse. Hope you’re locked and loaded.

2018 Golden Quill Reader’s Choice

Reviews

Exciting, grounded, complex.” – LIMITLESS/JERICHO screenwriter Stephen Scaia

“Finally, a great buddy story featuring women!The Werewolf Whisperer is suspenseful, action packed, funny, sad, dark…it is so many things. Even if you’ve never picked up an urban fantasy novel (this was my first!), you’ll tear through this one. And, it’ll leave you ready for more!” – HER PROCESS Jo Bozarth

“The crux…

View original post 104 more words

Outfitting an Adventurer

 

1540592693swordDrawing copy

When we first started writing these books, Omen dressed in generic leather armor and wore his great sword on his back. But after a while I started to wonder, just how generic IS leather armor, and is it really practical to wear a sword on your back? Certainly popular movies and video games would imply that such is the norm. Of course if you watch carefully you’ll notice some curious things — you rarely see a movie actor actually drawing the sword from the sheath on their back — the camera cuts away, and when it cuts back, there’s the sword in their hand. And you NEVER see them sheathe the sword. They might mime putting it behind their back, but you never see it actually go into the sheath.

Video games are even worse — typically the sword just sort of floats on the character’s back and is drawn with the click of a button.

Thus started the research.

There are some awesome Youtubers who have actually covered both these topics in length: Shadiversity and Metatron.

I am a fan of both and have taken a lot of their advice for my writing over the years. Shadiversity has several detailed videos about leather armor — no, it was not ‘generic’ and while you do occasionally find some instances of its use, it was fairly rare. It was a lot more practical to make useful things like shoes out of leather back in the day. A knight who was not wearing full plate armor, was typically wearing a gambeson made of cotton. The gambeson was also worn under the plate armor for both added padding and added protection. Multiple layers of cotton actually make great armor — capable of even stopping an arrow. Leather, unless specially treated or inset with iron, probably won’t stop an arrow.

And so Omen’s leather became a gambeson in the first book, Night’s Gift. He’s actually wearing real armor in the Autumn King trilogy made of specialized alloy found in his homeland of Lydon. (Yes, I researched iron, iron ore smelting, the differences between iron and steel, and how to make alloys. I’m addicted!) As a prince he’s able to get any type of armor he might want — but when he’s just goofing around and not expecting trouble (silly boy!) the gambeson was sufficient for his needs.

Which brings me to his sword — he DOES wear his sword on his back. Both Shadiversity and Metatron have covered this subject repeatedly. Originally both said that no, wearing your sword on your back is not a thing — especially a long sword (there are historical records of people wearing swords on their backs, but it was fairly rare). It’s extremely difficult to draw a sword worn on your back — you can’t draw it past a certain length simply because your arms are not long enough. And putting it away is a bit of a nightmare — same problem with the length, but also how are you supposed to see where to put it?

My problem was the sheer size of Omen’s sword. Omen is freakishly tall and freakishly strong due to his immortal heritage. The great sword he carries is also extremely large — at least six feet in length. It would be highly impractical to carry such a weapon on a belt holder at his side. It’s just too big. He pretty much has to carry it on his back. And so I came up with the idea of the quick release latch on the baldric (strap worn across the body to hold the sword in place). When he needs to draw the weapon, he simply releases the strap, and the sheath and sword slide free of his back allowing him to draw it with two hands.

The reality is swords are not really ‘quick draw’ devices. This isn’t the old west where survival depended on who drew first. Typically you have some sort of warning when it comes to a sword fight. And in Omen’s case he can also use his psionics to push an enemy away from him while he draws his weapon.

This research (both Shadiversity and Metatron) is also the reason why Dev does not wear his arrow quiver on his back. Ever tried to run with a quiver of arrows on your back? (I actually have.) They fall out the moment you pick up even a little bit of speed. They need to be firmly secured in the quiver — which pretty much defeats the whole quick drawn idea as well. An archer who wanted to shoot quickly either carried the extra arrows in his hand, or kept them stuck in the ground within easy reach. Otherwise they were securely bound to keep them from falling all over the place.

So yes, Omen wears his sword on his back — or keeps it strapped to Tormy’s saddle when it isn’t needed.

To my surprise, a few days ago, Shadiversity released a new video on this subject. He was so excited to announce that he had discovered a way to actually wear your sword on your back (he’s a delightful personality if you’re interested in this sort of topic). He’s invented a specialized sheath for exactly this purpose — allows him to both drawn and re-sheath his sword with one hand. And in his words — it really does look cool!

Cover art for Night's Gift

 

You can find us many places:

Audible

Amazon.com

http://ofcatsanddragons.com

https://www.facebook.com/ofcatsanddragons/

 

 

 

Care and Feeding

This week marks the release of the fifth installment in our OF CATS AND DRAGONS series. Carol and I are thrilled that the stories are finding their audience and really resonating with fantasy and cat fans.

We even hit #1 on Amazon for several days in a row before, during, and after the release:

ak#1_mag_prerelease copy

My great concern was that once this book was finished, we’d hit some sort of creative malaise. The journey hasn’t been terribly clear since we put out book one in August of 2017. Those who follow this blog know why, of course. While we still had a bit of rewriting and editing to complete, all five books (and the one novella) had been written before we released NIGHT’S GIFT.

We have a lot of plans, but now we’re in new territory. Scary stuff. Potentially paralyzing stuff.

I realize how fragile I am, as a creative. I know I have to be very careful not to give into fears and mental blocks. But practically, what can I do to stop sabotage that is mostly subconscious?

My answer — the answer that works for me — is “small bites.” Do a little something every day. But go back every day.

And so, I struggled to write a new short story that follows the main event in AUTUMN KING. Carol and I had batted the idea around for about a year, but the story just didn’t want to fully form. I finally sat down to write it at the beginning of October, and it was hard.

I’d spend a day writing one paragraph, some days only one sentence. But I went back every single day. I didn’t allow myself to be frustrated. I just put my head down and focused on the love I have for the characters and how much I want to share their adventures.

And one day, the first draft was done. Then Carol and I pitched it back and forth a bit, making changes, discussing tweaks, rewriting, editing, bringing it to life.

And where there’d been nothing, suddenly there was something.

Did it take longer than I expected?

Sure.

Does that matter in the long run?

Nope.

The only thing that counts is that we just completed another story.

The only thing that counts is that we keep going.

Carol, for her part, has been working hard both on her writing and on her artwork. Besides the beautiful new cover she did for SUMMER’S FALL (more of that in a future blog), she’s added to the OF CATS AND DRAGONS blog with some fun insights about the characters, about her research, and about her artwork.

I’ve been so inspired by her blogging, that I want to share her thoughts with you.

Hope you enjoy this little treatise on:

Care and Feeding of a Tormy

by Carol E. Leever

A lot of decisions go into writing a book, and one of the things Camilla and I had to decide on was the diet of the Tormy Cats. (Incidentally — the cats actually have a name that they call themselves which will no doubt show up in a future book, but Camilla and I have always affectionately called them the Tormy Cats.)

I have been owned by 7 cats in my life. My first, a beautiful Siamese, lived 17 years. After she died I didn’t get another cat until Camilla and I became college roommates; between the two of us we ended up with 5 cats — one of which was the original Tormy. Yes, he was a real cat, and utterly unique. He was a beautiful orange and white Maine Coon, who would serenade us every night with soft little happy trills after he’d eaten his dinner. We were so heartbroken when he died unexpectedly that I put him into our D&D games so that he would live on in our imaginations.

My current cat, a little quirky Tabby, had a terrible food allergy when she was a kitten. I tried every type of food on the market, including some ridiculously expensive types that just seem to make things worse. I had come across research into the ‘raw food diet’ on the internet and in desperation finally decided to try that.

The theory is that cats, if they lived in the wild, would only eat meat (and the occasional grain that might be found in the stomach of a mouse). Cats are carnivores after all. The raw food diet consists of ground meat and bone (uncooked!) supplemented with some vitamins and enzymes such as Taurine and B-complex. You can find the formula on the internet.

The new diet cured all my cat’s problems literally within 12 hours. She was horribly sick one moment (and had been for the first year and a half of her life) and then instantly cured with the new diet. I pretty much resolved right there that all future meals would consist of the raw food diet.

Which brings us to the Tormy Cats. Cats are carnivores; they eat meat. They LOVE eating meat. And I don’t want anyone to base their cat’s diet on what the Tormy Cats eat in our books. The original Tormy (our beautiful Maine Coon) also loved peas, corn, cantaloupe, and blueberry muffins. We also had a cat who loved pancakes — to the point that whenever we made pancakes we had to make an extra one for her. But just because they will eat carbohydrates, does not mean they are good for the cats or natural for them to eat.

Regardless of all this, I made a definitive choice to make the Tormy Cats omnivores. And I did it for a very specific reason. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the reasons we human beings are so smart (lol!) is because we started eating carbohydrates — that in fact an all meat diet would not provide the caloric intake necessary to produce the larger brains we possess. I reasoned that since the Tormy Cats are obviously far more intelligent than their domestic counterparts, they too would likely need a different diet.

So yes, Tormy eats pie, and donuts, and custard, and moffles (mouse-waffles). But like all cats he, and Tyrin, and the others (yes, there are a BUNCH of other cats out there) LOVE meat, particularly fish. Tormy’s favorite however is prime rib. These cats would be a nightmare on the pocketbook.

So please, keep feeding your own cats proper diets (research the raw food diet and see if it’s something you’re interested in). But know that donuts are perfectly permissible for Tormy and all his brethren.

*

To see a picture of the “real” Tormy, check out our OF CATS AND DRAGONS blog.

 

Reader Wednesday – NEW WEREWOLF WHISPERER RELEASE!

Bonita's Geeky Blog-Fu!

It’s been a blast sharing THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER’S revved up remakes with you. The response to our new look has been amazing. Thanks for all the support.

Thanks to Christian Bentulan for his supercharged cover design. And special thanks to Carol E. Leever for creating one badass werewolf skull.

Without further ado, here is the new release of NO BEAST SO FIERCE – THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER prequel novella!

2018 NB cover for BBThe course of true friendship never did run smooth.

At the dawning of the werewolf apocalypse, newly paroled Lucy Lowell finds herself homeless and alone. Enter Xochitl Magaña, who seems to have all the answers.

But before they can even finish their ale, the two women are thrust into a Ren Faire Were melee. Caught between succulent pigs flying and swords slashing, the newly-forged Werewolf Whisperer team is forced to make a heartbreaking decision — to kill or not to kill.

DOWNLOAD…

View original post 45 more words

Fantasy maps to guide your way

The World OF CATS AND DRAGONS

The Quest for the Autumn King begins in the city of Melia. Omen and his friends cross the Luminal Sea in part one of the trilogy, SUMMER’S FALL. In part two, HOLLOW SEASON, the adventurers travel from the city of Khreté into the kingdom of Kharakhan.

I’ve always enjoyed the inclusion of maps in fantasy books, so I am thrilled to be able to share the two maps Carol has created to give our readers a little help tracking the journey.

Happy trails!

Kharakhannew

thechain

-from HOLLOW SEASON:

They had traveled along the King’s Road for hours without incident, even Tormy falling into a silent, bored cadence as the miles passed, when Kadana motioned to a slight widening of the road. “This is where the King’s Road and the Chain run together for a bit. The Deldano lands start here. And the Chain is our best way home.” She looked over her shoulder at Omen. “But I’ll have to make some stops. It’ll add time.”

“Doesn’t the King’s Road keep going straight to Caraky?” Dev raised himself up in his stirrups, looking west.

“It does,” Kadana said, a sour note in her answer. “Which is not far from the Mountain of Shadow.”

“Omen?” Kadana didn’t answer Dev but gave Omen a quizzical look.

Am I supposed to control him somehow? With a bit of a start, Omen realized that Dev was in fact his to manage. Scales and toenails!

Templar loudly cleared his throat, and Omen thought he heard a distinct, “Don’t listen to Dev” through the dislodging of phlegm.

“Are you worried about the hex?” Omen was curious to puzzle out Dev’s angle. Maybe he’s just trying to be a burr in Kadana’s—

“Aren’t you?” the Machelli spy replied smoothly.

“Look, Omen,” Kadana said without the slightest irritation, “you have a couple of options if you’re in a hurry. You’re under no obligation to me. You can continue along the Chain to the Deldano castle. Or you can head straight to the Mountain of Shadow. It’s up to you if you’re worried.”

“Or we can cut through the Marroways and get to your castle before dark,” Dev added casually.

The Marroways?

“Or you can cut through the Marroways and your bones will never be found,” Kadana snarled.

“What are the Marroways?” Omen couldn’t keep himself from asking.

“The woods the Chain winds around,” Kadana said simply. “The Chain surrounds the Marroways like, well, a chain. Or a fence. Keeping things in that shouldn’t wander. Things that won’t wander,” she gave Dev a sharp look, “unless they’re reminded that there’s an outside.”

“Does this have anything to do with the Autumn Gates?” Shalonie asked quickly. “Or the wild gates?”

“Gates have nothing to do with it,” Kadana told the girl. “The Marroways were put in place centuries ago, and it falls on people of the Chain and the ruler of the lands to keep the Marroways protected.”

OF CATS AND DRAGONS – the whole series  on Amazon

Untitled design (2)

Reader Wednesday — New BEAST OUT OF HELL Cover Reveal! — Bonita’s Geeky Blog-Fu!

Last month, I shared the festive new BEAST NAVIDAD cover with you. Today, my writing partner, Camilla Ochlan, and I continue the revved up remake reveals with BEAST OUT OF HELL: A Werewolf Whisperer Tale. Thanks to Christian Bentulan for his supercharged cover design. And special thanks to Carol E. Leever for creating one badass werewolf skull. Lucy and […]

via Reader Wednesday — New BEAST OUT OF HELL Cover Reveal! — Bonita’s Geeky Blog-Fu!

When The Unthinkable Happened…

Carol+Leever+and+Camilla+Ochlan

“My best friend Carol and I have roamed the OF CATS AND DRAGONS world for over three decades, creating our stories in the telling — from our high school Dungeons & Dragons games to a private collection of over three hundred stories and story fragments. But now we are getting ready to share what we’ve conjured up.”

That’s what I wrote a year ago as Carol and I were getting ready to release NIGHT’S GIFT.

I didn’t know what lurked just above the horizon.

Carol’s cancer diagnosis came the day our first OF CATS AND DRAGONS book was released, so we never had even a moment to celebrate that wasn’t under the shadow of this horrible cancer.

Since then, there have been many ups and downs (more downs than ups, if I am totally honest). It’s been a difficult year. Until a few months ago, I couldn’t even talk about what was going on. But secrets have a way of clawing you up from the inside.

When I was ready, I had the chance to share our story with Jo Bozarth for the Her Process podcast. I knew I had to open up because I’ve learned that cancer is a bitch, and we are not the only ones in her sights.

I hope you give this interview a listen. And I hope the territory is more foreign to you than Mars. But it’s probably not.

What do you do when the unthinkable happens? It happened to us, and this is what we did.

From Jo:

“Today’s show wraps up my series on collaboration. It’s a tribute to art and to friendship. It’s about what happens when you’re on a roll, when you’re making strides, realizing your dream…and the unthinkable happens. What do you do? How do you go on? Do you go on?

If you’re just joining Her Process for the first time, today’s guest, Camilla Ochlan, has been on the show before with her Werewolf Whisperer series writing partner, Bonita Gutierrez. 

But Camilla, being the creative soul that she is, and I’m guessing also a master at organization, has another writing partner with whom she’s been creating the world that houses another series, called Of Cats and Dragons. In fact, she and her dear friend, Carol Leever, her Of Cats and Dragons illustrator and co-writer, have been creating this world for over three decades now. But they didn’t realize it right away.

When Camilla and Carol did finally decide to share their creation with the world, life, as it does, stepped in with a twist that neither friend could ever have imagined or prepared for. You always hear people say that they meant to do x, y, z, but “life got in the way.” Well, these ladies didn’t let “life” thwart their plans. They’ve bobbed and weaved, and have persevered. This is their story.” 

Click here to listen:

HER PROCESS PODCAST

Thank you to Jo Bozath for being an exquisite listener and a gentle interviewer. Jo has a gift for putting her subject at ease, and her empathy is backed up by a strong work ethic that drives her to genuinely understand the breadth of her guest’s creative endeavors.

I want everyone to know that Carol has been strong and determined. She is the warrior I’ve always known her to be, but the enemy she is battling is fierce and powerful. We are hopeful. But this is real and terrifying. We don’t know what is going to happen.

We also want everyone to know that this is not the end OF CATS AND DRAGONS. After HOLLOW SEASON, Carol and I have another completed book that is now being edited and a handful of partially completed manuscripts. We also have over 250 story fragments, short stories, outlines, dialogues, and scenes. We have a timeline that reaches over generations in our story world. And we’ve started the outlines of three new books. We have been working on the world OF CATS AND DRAGONS for over thirty years. There’s a lot there. We have a plan.

I am deeply committed to sharing our stories because that is what I can do to honor our friendship. We love these characters so much, and since we made the decision to share them — that is what will happen. There will be more Tormy. There will be more Omen. And Kyr. And Tyrin. There will be more. . .

tormy smallcopy

Special T.V. Tuesday…on Thursday — 20th Century Pop Cast

Bonita does a great interview with 20th Century Pop! – talking Werewolf Whisperer and Buffy!

Bonita's Geeky Blog-Fu!

“In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.”

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 9.04.32 AM

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a HUGE Buffy fan (I miss you, Buff…Sigh).  It’s creator, Joss Whedon (along with Shakespeare and my hubby), is a big influence on my writing. I love the snappy dialogue, the mix of humor and horror and, above all, the deeply layered characters. No one is all good or all bad. And that is what makes them human (even the vamps).

So, I was super excited that the fellas (Tim Blevens and Bob Canning) at 20th Centery Pop asked me to be a guest on their show to discuss the Chosen One!

Take a listen

giphy1

I think it’s time for another Buffy-thon!

View original post