Review: The Weight of Stars and Suns

I was very fortunate to acquire an advanced copy of Dawn C. Jonckowski’s debut novel, The Weight of Stars and Suns and, I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

First of all, let me start off by saying romance is not my most often read genre. In fact, I rarely read romance. Maybe I’m a cold-hearted bastard who doesn’t cry at mushy Google ads and I have no feelings. But I might have cried during the movie “Up”, so I’m not completely dead inside. So here’s the thing–it’s a romance that happens in a science fiction setting.

Tav is a planet ringed by thirty-six suns! Thirty-six! They have the best tans, I’d wager. Many years ago, a human ship crashed, stranding the crew. Fast forward to the present where humans are all slaves. Okay, so what, right?

Well, one of the suns inexplicably dies. Poof. It just goes out. Why? Are the others going to follow suit? So there’s your sci-fi.

During this crisis, a small group of humans is planning to rebel but they find themselves prisoners after they’re captured. The leader, however, falls in love with the Tavarian chieftain’s daughter–the princess.

And then it starts getting really good.

Jonckowski has mapped out a simple, yet rich world and history without deluging the reader with exposition and details that could slow the story down. She focuses on only a handful of characters which kept me riveted, compelled to find out what would happen to them and how they would solve their solar problem.

Her narrative voice and writing style are both impeccable–effective, yet personable, so the story never bogs down with unneeded details. Everything generally moves at a good pace and it’s easy read through the book quickly.



And, now, some questions for the author!

1. Where did you draw your inspiration for The Weight of Stars and Suns? What gave you the idea? This was one of those crazy ideas your brain cooks up between waking and sleeping. I’m still not completely positive what kicked off the idea, but I was sitting on a plane at ridiculous-thirty in the morning and my brain started wandering down the rabbit hole of a planet that was actually at the center of the universe, as humans once believed Earth was. I started wondering what the planet might look like, feel like, who would live there. Would humans ever show up there and what would be the impetus behind them doing so. And if humans were there, what would the natives look like. (Fun fact: Tavarians are purple for the highly scientific reason of “purple is Dawn’s favorite color.”)

2. Will we get to revisit TWoSaS universe again? We will! The universe is a big, huge black space for exploration. And shortly after I finished drafting TWoSaS (which was originally intended as a singular novel), the characters informed me that I wasn’t yet done telling their story. For now, the entire arc is a planned trilogy. Book two, The Ashes of Hope and Hunger, is drafted and awaiting rewrites. Look for it early 2021, and in the meantime, get ready for a wild ride!

3. What is your favorite thing about the book? Does “holding it” count as an answer? Aside from the distinct pleasure of holding a physical copy of something that I poured so much of myself into and having it come to fruition like this, honestly one of my favorite things is seeing how the story affects other readers. Which characters they fall in love with, what quotes they pull out to hold close. All of which I suppose could be summed up in that my favorite thing is its fledgling community of readers. That and how much fun I had putting interesting little Easter eggs in there for those who know me well.

4. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? For the past eleven years, I’ve been heavily involved in swing dancing, both East Coast/Lindy and West Coast Swing. I’m also a musician, so you can often find me singing and playing piano or in a concert band playing French horn. We also have two very spoiled dogs; those two little fuzz nuggets definitely keep us on our toes and laughing!

5. What was the last song you listened to? Oh man . . . that’s a tough one! I have music playing constantly, so I listen to a ton of songs on any given day. My latest obsession is “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi, because I think it would be an amazingly powerful song to dance West Coast Swing to.

6. Pancakes or waffles? Waffles. Hands down.

7. If you had more time, would you write more or read more? I mean, I should probably sleep if I found more time! But if I could squeeze more in a day, I would probably write more. Book 3 has been knocking on my mind’s door for some time now, and I’d love to start digging into it.

Enter The Mage Breaker

Ascent Into Light is in revision which, of course, means I need to start another project! Because The Forgotten Years is wrapping up, this particular project is brand new and shiny!

Twenty years ago, humans discovered a source of power, allowing all people on the planet to use magic. This at first resulted in all out war as people struggled to accept responsibility for such power.

Soon after the Kithrak, a magically-attuned race of creatures, arrived and aided the people of Seralune, teaching them how to properly use magic–how to respect it. Everything–machines, transportation, even houses–used magic instead of conventional power sources and mechanics.

Great advances were made and people thrived like never before, experiencing longer lives and better health.

But there was a price. It was a minor cost most people were more than willing to pay–anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes in a T-helm, contributing their consciences to the Kithrak.

Harmless, right? Small price to pay? Ellyne Thandaral disagrees, and when she becomes the reluctant bodyguard of someone who knows the truth, she discovers the world is very different from what she thought.

Mage Breaker is a a science-fantasy book, focusing largely on urban fantasy. It’s a relatively new endeavor for me but I’m really excited about it. While I’m sad to leave the world of The Forgotten Years, I’m ridiculously stoked to build a new world, even if it’s just for one book!

And Now For Something Completely Different

Ascent Into Light is done.

The ink is dry on Cor’il’s and Kendra’s stories. Dalinil and Orvaril have finished what they set out to do, and The Blacksmoke can go back to being an absolute gortog’s ass (he never really stopped).

The Forgotten Years have come to a close. In just a few short months, readers can get their grubby fingers on the final chapter of this saga and find out what happens to these dynamic characters.

I really can’t wait for you to read it. I think you’ll be [REDACTED].

As for me, I am awaiting my editor’s comments and feedback from betas (who have not seen it yet, but soon will). So there’s nothing left to do but sit back, relax, and wait right?


HA! Nope. I have, in fact, begun plotting my next project! “What project is THAT?” you ask? Well, it’s not The Last Available, which I will continue as my side project, and it’s not in The Forgotten Years world.

As this project develops, I’ll throw out some tasty bits from the bottom of the bag–you know, the really salty crumbs that are left over after all the snacks are gone.

So if you’re not subscribed to my newsletter and you’re interested in this info, I’d recommend signing up! I’ll be using all outlets for information, but the newsletter gets it first as well as some exclusives.

Oh, and there’s also the information about Ascent Into Light coming, because, even if it’s done with me, I’m not done with it yet.

The signup link is at the top of the front page of 

Privacy, Please

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to lock myself in a hotel room for half a weekend with time all to myself. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Why would you lock yourself in a hotel room instead of actively doing things out and about?”

Well, first of all, it was a small town and there’s not much to do anyway. But, second and most importantly, I vowed to spend all of Saturday editing Ascent Into Light. These were largely line edits, but if a plot hole presented itself (which they did), I would squash it. This was all in preparation for beta readers and my editor next month.

So let me just say this: If you’re a writer, you should try this!!! Find an excuse to go somewhere an hour or two away, hole up in a hotel for a day or two and just EDIT!!! Or write! Whichever. If you have the means, it’s worth it. Even just locking yourself in a room in your house for 12 hours would work pretty well.

Of course I had snacks. I never got out of my PJs. I never once left the hotel room. SyFy was playing a Harry Potter marathon and there was football on TV as well. I was so in the zone it hurt.

It was amazing, and was precisely what I needed. Did I get the entire book edited? Hell no. I think I got 13 or so chapters through the wringer and, while it was progress, that really wasn’t the main point.

Only, I didn’t know this until I just recently reflected upon the experience.

See, I’m not a full-time writer. My writing endeavors will most likely never pay the bills past anything more than an extra latte at Starbucks once a month. But this… this one day of uninterrupted, “no distractions or responsibilities” editing gave me a taste of what it would be like.

And, let me tell you, I could absolutely get used to it. I’d love the opportunity to prove it.

The End Is A New Beginning

Yesterday, I wrote the last two words of The Forgotten Years saga.

“The End.”

No, mind you, I don’t actually include “The End” in any of my books. The end of the book is always pretty apparent when it happens, so there’s never any question. But this actually is the end–not merely the end of a book, but the end of the quadrilogy (it’s a word now).

I realize I have no idea how to feel about it. I’ve worked on this series for years (don’t forget, I began writing The Call of Chaos a long time ago). These characters have lived inside my head for probably half my life and, in that time, they’ve become my friends and family of sorts.

We’ve done a lot together–adventured, uncovered mysteries, laughed, cried… even argued about the direction of the story (arguments I usually lost). We had good times and we had bad times together.

But all things eventually come to an end and, soon, I will have to say goodbye to the characters who have journeyed with me as I embark on another adventure and theirs comes to an end.

And, as I pointed out, I have no idea how to feel about it. I thought I would feel a huge catharsis and I’d jump up and cheer, having completed a four-book series. I thought I’d also feel sad because I would be leaving behind something I’d worked so diligently on. I thought I’d feel a sense of accomplishment. I thought I’d sit back and beam with pride. But what did I actually feel?

None of this.

Or all of it in tiny amounts. I’m not really sure. It’s confusing, to say the least. I’m attached to these books. These books are my babies and I really do love them but, at the same time, they’ve run their course. The story has been told to my satisfaction and, hopefully, readers’ satisfaction.

So, in the end, that’s what I’m feeling–a deep sense of satisfaction. I can always look back on these four Forgotten Years books and know that I told a fun, engaging story with an amazing cast of characters.

So, yes, satisfaction… and maybe a little excitement.

To everyone who’s taken the journey through The Forgotten Years, I thank you. I thank you for giving them a shot and I thank you for continuing to read. I thank you for your feedback and your criticisms and your support and your advice.

You won’t have to wait long. Ascent Into Light will be out in a few months for you to devour. After that… well, as Arnold said in Jurassic Park (before he was completely devoured by velociraptors), “Hold onto your butts.”

What’s next? I’ve got plans, and I’m just getting started.

News To Me

Wow. It’s been a week or two since I last blogged here but, as always, it’s basically because I haven’t had anything super awesome to say. Also, self-promotion and social media presence can be really draining to where I can’t word sometimes.

So, anyway, the news is my newsletter. If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably seen me screaming about it until I’ve gone to plaid in the face. I debated setting up a mailing list/newsletter for over a year. I even set it up and then let it get all moldy and gross.

So, why a newsletter? Who’d want to read emails from me? I ask myself this very question daily. At first, I thought about starting a newsletter because bunches of people kept telling me I should. Before we get started, yes, I would probably jump off a cliff if all my friends did. It sounds like fun.

So here’s the deal. I realize I have readers. I may not have hundreds of readers, but people have read the books I’ve written. Thank you guys, by the way. I’m really humbled that you gave my books a shot!

I also realize not everyone subscribes to all social media. I do get the “when’s your next book out?” questions, which tells me I could be doing a better job communicating with readers, potential readers, the general populace, and murder hobos. So, yeah, I started a newsletter.

My ultimate goal is to hopefully communicate more freely and easily without spamming anyone with walls of text. That’s why I’ve been calling it my Infrequent, Terse Mailing list.

I am constantly learning not only about the writing process, but about self-promotion and marketing. This is my next step, so we’ll see how it works.

And, of course, if you’d like to subscribe, I’ve got a link on the front page:

I hope to have some pretty exciting news about Ascent Into Light coming soon, so stay tuned!

About Your Appearance

No, not your face. We’ll talk about THAT later.

I mean AUTHOR appearances–cons, festivals, and the like. On the eve of the Unbound Book Festival independent author fair (starring yours truly), I am ruminating about tips and tricks for personal appearances. These are things I didn’t know the first, second, or even third time around.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I’m going to hit some high points. Ready? Too bad.

  1. Power Banks! What happens if your phone dies? Or your laptop or tablet (if you bring one)? Power banks are crucial for those situations where there is no place to plug in–and there often isn’t. Make sure they’re charged up the night before!
  2. Card Reader! Not everyone pays with cash. Sometimes, they have cash but prefer to pay with a card. You can usually get a basic, FREE card reader from PayPal Here or Square, but you might want to kick in the extra $$ to get a better model–one with a chip reader.
  3. Cash! If you need to make change for someone, you’ll need some 1s, 5s, and maybe even 10s just in case. Also, this cash is useful for when you’re exploring the con and want to buy other books! (this is dangerous)
  4. Book Transportation System! How on Earth do you expect to transport your books from your car to the table? A rolling suitcase is PERFECT for this! And this was something I never thought of until I saw someone doing it…while I was lugging a heavy-ass box of books around–It was great exercise, but also ridiculous.
  5. Business Cards! This was also something I hadn’t thought about until I saw someone suggest it. You can get a bajillion business cards online for really cheap, and they’re handy to include with each book purchase as well as to display on your table.
  6. Table Decor! I’m talking maybe character art, a tablecloth, book stands, maybe a candy dish of some kind–whatever. Make your space unabashedly yours. If it catches the eye, then potential readers will be drawn to it. Even if your books aren’t their thing, they’ll look anyway, wondering “what’s up with all this?”
  7. Snacks! If you’re going to be putting in a lot of time at an author table, it’s a good idea to have some snacks on hand. Some venues will provide snacks and drinks, but it’s best not to rely on them. You want to be at your table for as much time as you can be. If you have someone to tag-team with you, that works really well (I never do).
  8. Your Elevator Pitch! Be prepared to answer when people ask “what’s your book about?” or casually look your way. However you do this is up to you, but it’s a good idea to get used to the idea.
  9. Books! Of course, if you’re going to sell your books, you need to have your books. This should be self-explanatory.

By no means is this everything–every author is different. But these are a great start. Remember, you want to catch the interest of passersby and get them interested in what you’ve written. How that goes down depends solely on you.