Cover Reveal | Daughter of Ash

The fourth novel in the Awakened series (of six), Daughter of Ash is releasing in kindle ebook on Tuesday. (Paperback should be along in a week or two.) I’m pleased to be able to share the cover [by Eugene Teplitsky] for it a little early!

Designed to be the perfect assassin, Kate is as beautiful as she is deadly―everything she touches, burns.

The government attempted to engineer a pyrokinetic the likes of which the world had never seen, but their plans went awry. Her power to command fire as a living extension of her psyche was more than they had hoped for, except for one problem. Her skin is hot enough to destroy most materials on contact. Useless for infiltration, they declared the project a failure and slated her for disposal at the age of seven.

Years after escaping, she hides on the outskirts of society in the shadows of East City. A chance encounter brings her under the wing of a Syndicate underboss, El Tío. Kate kills without hesitation to earn the favor of the only person ever to show her kindness, but her happiness is as false as her holographic clothing.

An eerie figure interrupts her routine with a promise of an end to her curse, if she joins The Awakened―a group of psionics as powerful as she. To find them, she must travel thousands of miles across the country, but her uncontrollable ‘gift’ leaves her no option but to walk. Desperate for human contact, Kate throws herself into the Badlands, unconcerned with danger.

Cured or dead… Either way she wins.

To celebrate the continuation of the series, we’re having a virtual release party on Facebook with some prices including a $20 Amazon gift card, a full set (of 4) Awakened paperbacks, some DoA paperbacks, and a few e-book prizes. The party is on March 7th, from 5pm to 7pm Eastern Time. Attendance requires only posting/commenting in the event feed, playing some games, chatting, and hopefully having a good time 🙂

Click here to join:

The RPG of Divergent Fates is back


So about twenty years ago (1996-ish) I got an idea.

For the better part of my teens and into my early twenties, I’d been pretty deep into roleplaying games. (At this point you’re probably feeling shocked that a Sci Fi author has geekish hobbies, right?) Anyway, there’d been a lot of 2nd Edition D&D, but always with that annoying gnaw that something bugged me about the mechanics.

Somewhere I got it in my head that I could make my own game… and I did… dozens of times. I can’t even count the number of systems that I came up with, tinkered with for a few weeks or months, then forgot about. (Some of them never even made it off a notebook page).

A handful stuck around and represented the bulk of our (my and my friends’) game time, though we’re far from the days of the ‘playing till dawn’ benders of the old days.


To circle back to the 1996 thing… around that point I realized that we’d been pretty much sticking to fantasy gaming, and I wanted to do something different. Of course there were a couple of “non-fantasy” RPGs out there like Car Wars or R Talsorian’s Cyberpunk, but as anyone with a small degree of chemistry knowledge knows, mixing two reactants together often produces effects. In my case being young (and broke) + being (some people accuse me thereof) creative, I wound up making up a game system I named “Divergent Fates.”

In 1996, the groundwork for this system started. Later that year, I had a sourcebook and big plans to follow it (Main rulebook, Mars book, Space book, and so on). As it turned out, we were more interested in playing than making more content… so the world grew in little bits in scraps of notes and excel files (automated character sheets) and other “reminders” to add things to the rules.

Fast forward to 2012. A former supervisor I worked with at the time suggested I write; I’d been handling an email queue, and he asked me if I’d ever written anything like a novel or fiction. (In truth, I had… a 400k+ word monstrosity of a fantasy novel that I’m still not sure if I’ll ever look at again. They say all writers have one of these in a deep dark closet somewhere… I’m still not ready to break the wards guarding it.) Up to that point, all of my writing had been toward the gaming end of things and I never gave serious consideration to writing (and marketing) novels. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea.

Anyway, I thought for some time between writing fantasy or Sci-Fi, trying to pick a direction. At the same time, it occurred to me how similar the concepts were between coming up with plots and characters for a roleplaying game session and writing a novel. The biggest difference is there aren’t “players” involved to throw the storyline off course when they do unexpected (cough stupid cough) things. I’d been creating characters and storylines for most of my reasoning life; transitioning the effort from gaming to novelization seemed like a logical next step. Since Divergent Fates felt more ‘unique’ to me than adding another fantasy game to the massive amount already out there, I decided to get back into writing while using the world I’d established for the RPG as a backdrop.


Virtual Immortality was the first novel I wrote after making the decision to get back into writing. Perhaps this was a lofty starting point (I’m glad it worked) since it had a complicated story, shifting POV characters, and a lot of ground to cover. The inspiration for it came from a tabletop session of DF, though (obviously) much had to change between roleplaying session and novel. (If I tried to capture everything that happened at the table the book would’ve been twice as long, and it’s already huge.)

Anyway – twenty years ago, I wrote Divergent Fates the roleplaying game. The original idea behind the title was the political discontent between Earth and Mars, where the people of Mars wanted to split away from Earth and go their own way.

Now, twenty six or so novels later (Fourteen of which take place in the DF world) I had a lot more source material to work with, but I also had been harboring a lingering discontent with the system mechanics. Something about it (and I still can’t say what it was) bothered me despite my friends all saying they thought the system was fine.

From Deus-Ex Human Revolution

From Deus-Ex Human Revolution

The feeling wouldn’t go away, so I wound up rebuilding the mechanics of the system from the ground up, simplifying some things that were inanely complex, and adding in all the stuff I’d come up with in the twenty years since the game first took shape.

Divergent Fates version 2 is in beta now, a sourcebook finished in first draft. I’m not sure if people even still have interest in tabletop gaming in the days of the PlayStation and Xbox, but it’s here… and it feels a bit like watching a kid grow up.

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Lore | Division Zero


Pardon the long idle – I’ve been up to my eyeballs busy in writing and editing. Curiosity Quills is about to release an anthology of superhero-themed short stories, which I have been editing, as well as finishing up the first draft of the second book in the Roadhouse Chronicles series.

Anyway, it’s about time I posted something… and I should probably take a break from attempting to give out writerly advice, so here’s some “lore” from the “Divergent Fates” world. (The Division Zero series, Awakened series, Daughter of Mars series, and Virtual Immortality are set within it.)


Division Zero

In the year 2338, a previously-secret branch of the National Police Force entered the public consciousness. While most modern records show that the organization now known as Division 0 announced its official existence on April 3rd of that year, rumors lurk in the GlobeNet that their ‘going pubic’ came as a forced reaction to discovery. These same rumors hold that the National Police Force had maintained a clandestine group of psionic operatives for several decades prior to the official recognition of Division 0. Conspiracy hawks further point to the designation ‘0’ to mean they don’t officially exist.

Division 0 is the psionic arm of the UCF National Police Force. They are responsible for responding to incidents involving psionics, as well as any events unexplainable by conventional means. Owing to their previous secretive nature, many members of other divisions fear and distrust them.

In the early days, Division 0 operatives were cloaked in secrecy and many both in and out of government denied their existence. To this day, their all-black uniforms and vehicles often inspire either fear or suspicion. Secondary to their mission to protect the populous from those who would misuse psionic gifts, the unwritten goal of Division 0 is to maintain a positive image of psionic individuals in the public eye.

While Division 0 officers do not run about searching for psionics, they will approach them when they are discovered, and try to make contact with them as young as possible. This first meeting often includes a cursory assessment of the individual’s abilities. Certain talents, such as psionic suggestion or sensory overload burst telepathy-induced neuropathy (commonly shortened to Mind Blast) result in more stringent supervision of the individual, though to date, the UCF has no reported cases of psionic children being forcibly removed from their homes except in cases where the juvenile was attempting to harm people. Many cases of psionic children being moved to protective custody (away from abusive or terrified parents) exist, though these parents are all too happy to be rid of their paranormal problems.

Psionics as a whole (and the people who possess them) are not widely accepted by society and are, at best, tolerated. Their status in the UCF is perhaps the most favorable of anywhere on Earth, as some countries kill them on sight while others either force them to register, deport them, or detain them.

With the exception of those apprehended in the commission of serious crimes, Division 0 tends to recruit any psionic they come into contact with, sometimes to the point of overlooking minor legal offenses.


As a subset of the National Police Force, all personnel within Division 0 are considered to be part of the military, with corresponding ranks. The division is split into two primary groups: Tactical (patrol teams and active response units), and Investigative Operations―(I-Ops) as abbreviated―that processes crime scenes where a psionic was involved and pursues more detailed cases in a manner similar to normal detectives. Tactical personnel possess enlisted ranks, while members of I-Ops are commissioned officers. In some cases of powerful or rare (and in demand) abilities, individuals who are quite young (sometimes as little as fourteen) may be granted a merit rank of “Agent” in I-Ops, which is equivalent to the military rank of Warrant Officer 4.


Command Structure

Division 0 Director Jane Carter, a noted telempath, is the current head of Division 0, a post she has held for seven years as of the current year of 2418. Her rank of Division Director is equivalent to a General in the military, with a grade of O-10. She is regarded as a sedate and wise leader, and despite her creeping into her early sixties, shows no signs of stepping down any time soon. A pronounced pragmatist, she has made a few decisions that did not go over well with her underlings, citing her focus on the greater good for psionic people as a whole, as opposed to what is best for the bureaucracy.

Deputy Director Johannes Burkhardt is known to be a bit of a firebrand who tends to advocate for military solutions to most problems. He is often criticized for the policy which puts minors in active duty (usually when they have abnormally high ratings in combative abilities like pyrokinesis or telekinesis.) His primary ability, Mind Blast, coupled with his personality has cemented his reputation as someone most of the rank and file go out of their way to avoid. His rank is equivalent to a Lieutenant General (O-9).

West City Area Chief Mikhail Kovalev is the highest ranking member of Division 0 on the west coast of North America. He is a rated telekinetic as well as a telepath. With a reputation for being even-keeled, almost pensive and occasionally taken by bits of humor (often directed at Burkhardt), he is well-liked by those under his command. His rank of Area Chief equates to a Major General (O-8).

East City Area Chief Ravindra Kaur has the unenviable job of being responsible for Division 0 management on the east coast. East City tends to foster more violence, likely due to a population half again the size of West City crammed into a space eighty percent of the size. Several bands of off-gridder psionic gangs exist in the east, often using their abilities in flagrant violation of the law. A protégé of Director Carter, Chief Kaur is also a potent telempath.


From the Area chiefs down, a branching network of Commanders, Lieutenant Commanders, Captains, and Lieutenants run the day to day. If you, or anyone you know, is psionic, consider referring them to the Division 0 education and training program.

Remember, only by working together can we build understanding and trust between society and psionics.