Cover of An Ember in the Wind

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks putting the final touches on An Ember in the Wind. The website is now up, and most of the electronic copies are now available. (I’m still working on Kobo).

Saturday was an exhausting day. I gave a presentation at my thesis advisor’s conference in Raleigh, then immediately drove to the Jacksonville Barnes and Noble. It’s hard to be in two places, separated by a two-hour drive, at once — I’m still not sure how I pulled it off.

At one point during the drive I realized this was the premise of both books–John Bartlebee, the traveling professor, leaving one conference and heading toward another. Thankfully, my day went a bit better, but I suppose life does imitate art.

Speaking of which, I was a bit surprised by how well the cover for An Ember in the Wind was received.

After finishing the revisions, I didn’t have much time left to decide on a cover. Originally, I intended this cover to just be a temporary, “limited edition” design while I found a final version. But everyone who has commented on it seemed to really like it, and it captures the story pretty well.

I completed the digital painting in 2013, and added Mara only recently. Originally, the painting was meant to serve as a backdrop for a room in the Mara of the Ori game I had mentioned some time ago.

So what’s the significance of the image?

Much of An Ember in the Wind takes place in or around “Fordham Forest”. Fordham Forest was named after Fordham Boulevard in Chapel Hill, NC.

Fordham Boulevard joins Chapel Hill with Carrboro. The highway carves through a forested area, next to a little brook. My wife and I would sometimes take walks through this area. It was pretty secluded, despite being so close to the university.


The original “Fordham Forest” that inspired the book’s locale probably doesn’t exist anymore. The forest was near the housing complex we lived in at the time, called Glen Lennox. After we moved, many of the single-floor buildings were torn down and replaced with high-rises.

It was a frequent escape for both of us during our first year in North Carolina. Both of us had just started graduate school, after having moved thousands of miles from home. Someone in her family once commented that we were often in our own little world. At the time, though, I was probably preoccupied with qualifiers. The little forest was a nice break from them. It’s too bad to think it may not be around anymore — but it’s often easy to remember these sorts of things more fondly than they really were. There were a lot of mosquitos back there.

Now that I’m done with Ember, I have to decide what’s next. Revising Stage III will be a challenge. I remember never being quite happy with the result each time I rewrote it, but I don’t remember why. Perhaps the series hadn’t matured enough to include anything substantial. There is one direction I could go that would be fun to write, but would require a total restart on Stage III. I’m going to shoot for 2015, which would give an early 2016 release date. But I’m not going to use the saying:

Shoot for the moon. That way, if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

First of all, the moon is a solid structure on which we can land, and have a reasonable chance of returning home from to tell about the adventure. Stars, on the other hand, will obliterate your molecules, and then set them on fire. A revised quote would read:

Shoot for the moon. And you’d better not miss.