Violin Strings of the heart

Filed under: Jeff's Blog — June 25, 2015 @ 5:13 pm

I don’t often plug books or movies or TV shows but I really had to on this one. My family has been captured by “When Calls the Heart”. Even my eight year-old cub scout sneaks in to watch it too, and don’t get me started on the “shipping” my girls do with the cast. I’m a fan of period dramas, but it’s not just the old coal-mining town in Canada that has sucked me into the characters and story (based on the novels by Janette Oke). It’s the Virtus theme that runs through the core.


After binge-watching the first two seasons, my wife told me about an blog done by the producer Brian Bird who talked about all the risks the cast and production goes to create family-friendly content in a world overrun with shows competing with each other to push the boundaries of what is acceptable.

Horror films and series, and edgy adult dramas are the low-hanging fruit in the entertainment business for both actors and crew members. Working on a faith-and-family show like ours is sometimes a risk because you can be stereotyped for doing it (source:

I read another interview where Brian put it this way:

We find with “When Calls the Heart” that it’s a throwback to shows like “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons.” Compared to what’s on right now, it’s radical programming…To me the goal is to tell universal stories.  I believe all human beings have these violin strings running through our souls.  These strings, when you pluck them, they reverberate with certain themes like forgiveness and redemption and sacrifice and courage and banding together to help one another. (source:


Sound familiar? It’s the sentiment I tried to share in my blog posting “A Manifesto on Virtue” years ago ( I chatted recently with the publicist at 47North who had recently finished reading Banished of Muirwood. She said she kept waiting for some Game of Thrones-ish twist that would make her cringe and whimper in the corner like she sometimes does with that show. She loved that my books just don’t go there.

So now I have a new favorite show that I can watch with my family.

Guess that makes me one of the #Hearties too. Any of you seen it yet?


Cover Reveal – The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood Book 2)

Filed under: Jeff's Blog,Novels — June 8, 2015 @ 4:20 pm

I’m always fascinated by the process of producing a book and the numerous people involved. For example, I learned this morning that the audiobook recording for Banished of Muirwood began today. I also received the final cover art for Book 2: The Ciphers of Muirwood. Let’s just say, I’m thrilled!

(There is significance to the earring on the character as well. I love being able to add little details like that. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything.)

The Ciphers of Muirwood


The Banished of Muirwood launches on August 18, 2015. Pre-order it: here

The Ciphers of Muirwood launches on September 15, 2015. Pre-order it: here

The Void of Muirwood launches on October 27, 2015. Pre-order it: here

Muirwood: The Lost Abbey (graphic novel) August 26, 2015. Pre-order it: here

Just a reminder that starting in June (this month) your local comic book store can order copies of the graphic novel. To guarantee you get a copy, make sure you call your local comic book shop and ask for one. If you’d like a signed copy, you can call and order yours from my local comic book store, Ken’s Comics and Collectibles in Rocklin, CA:


Cover Reveal – The Banished of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood Book 1)

Filed under: Artwork,Jeff's Blog,Novels — May 12, 2015 @ 5:08 pm

In my last post, I revealed the cover art to the new graphic novel (The Lost Abbey). Now I’m pleased to be able to reveal the cover art to the first novel of the new Covenant of Muirwood trilogy. When 47North first sent me the original black-and-white sketch, my first thought literally was…be still my heart! I love how this cover turned out! Great work to

Here you go!

The Banished of Muirwood


The Banished of Muirwood launches on August 18, 2015. Pre-order it: here

The Ciphers of Muirwood launches on September 15, 2015. Pre-order it: here

The Void of Muirwood launches on October 27, 2015. Pre-order it: here

Muirwood: The Lost Abbey (graphic novel) August 26, 2015. Pre-order it: here

Cover Reveal – Muirwood: The Lost Abbey graphic novel!

Filed under: Artwork,Jeff's Blog — May 6, 2015 @ 5:07 pm

I have been waiting for months to be able to share something from the new graphic novel coming out in August. At long last, I am pleased to be able to share the cover art for the first issue of my first graphic novel– Muirwood: The Lost Abbey.

It has been an absolute thrill working with a team of script writers, illustrators, colorists, and editor and participating up close with the production. For those who have read the Author’s Note in Scourge of Muirwood, you will remember I talked about a novella called “Maia” that I wrote before the original Muirwood trilogy. That novella is The Lost Abbey. And the titular character, who is the heroine of my new Covenant of Muirwood series, is featured on the cover.

Drum roll please!



The artwork in this graphic novel is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve partnered closely with the team to help visualize this story based on how I view the world. Over the weeks and months to come, I will be sharing additional snippets from the interior of the graphic novel as well as revealing the cover art for the novels too. I’m completely thrilled by how things are shaping up.

For now – enjoy! You can find a link to the first issue here: The Lost Abbey. It comes out in 3 months–Aug 26, 2015. Make sure you sign up on my e-mail list if you haven’t yet!

More soon!


Telling Stories

Filed under: Jeff's Blog — April 17, 2015 @ 3:45 pm

When I was growing up, my family would often drive to my grandparent’s home in Ogden, Utah. My grandfather built that home himself, and it is a place that brings back wonderful memories. It was a great house with plenty of neat places to explore as well as a scary basement that was about as terrifying as the Scourgelands to a little boy. My grandmother would always pick fresh raspberries for us from her garden. One thing we used to do, when getting together as family, was to tell stories.


Telling stories has always been a part of my life. It’s probably why I became a history major in college and why I love to write. I love stories! I love learning about new people, different eras, and connecting various pieces together like a giant puzzle in my head. I used to sit on my grandparent’s back lawn and tell my cousins and siblings stories. I love that my extended family reads and enjoys my books. They have always been my biggest fans.



One of my traditions is to listen to the audiobook of my latest novel when my author copy arrives. There is something magical about hearing the narrator read my story back to me and I’m reliving POISONWELL right now. I’ve enjoyed the e-mails from fans who finished the Whispers from Mirrowen trilogy as well as some phone calls from family members and friends. It’s like we’re sitting on the lawn and sharing a moment in the shade.

So what’s going on now? I’m wrapping up the final edits for the new Covenant of Muirwood series. I am so excited by this new series and can’t wait to share it with you in August, September, and October. That will be a new experience for you–being able to read the entire story so quickly. I believe the audiobook narrator from the original Muirwood series will also narrate Covenant. Fingers crossed!

I’ve also been working with Jet City Comics on a graphic novel set in the same time as Covenant. I have to admit how pleased I am with the artwork and scripts. Every Monday morning, there are new panels to look over. The artwork is amazing! Graphic novels are another form of storytelling. I’ll make a separate announcement when I get permission to share some images with you.

There’s another another secret project brewing which I’ll be announcing in a few months. It goes along with the theme of telling stories. I can’t say more right now, but soon. If you haven’t subscribed to my e-mail list, you might want to in order to find out as soon as it happens. You can subscribe through my Facebook author page (here) or from the front page of this blog (

Thank you for joining me on this adventure! I’ve had some discussions with 47North about my next few projects as well. More on these later, but I appreciate the partnership with my publisher!

P.S. I do plan on being at Worldcon in Spokane, WA in August (called Sasquan: Would love to see some of you there!





What is next?

Filed under: Jeff's Blog,Novels — February 27, 2015 @ 4:45 pm

Tuesday was the launch of my latest book, Poisonwell and it has been great seeing all the positive reviews by the sleep-deprived who did not want to set it down but read straight through. This marks the end of the Whispers from Mirrowen trilogy and I hope you enjoy the ending!


So what’s next?

I have some good news to share. Since leaving Intel last summer, I have been hard at work on my new series, The Covenant of Muirwood, and I am pleased to report that I finished writing the final book this morning. I have never completed a series this quickly and my early readers have said they have liked it as much so far (and some even more) than the original Legends of Muirwood tale.

One of the things I discussed with my publisher 47North was releasing it at a much faster pace. It was originally slated to come out a year from now, but if you look on Amazon’s website you’ll find it and can begin pre-ordering the first book (The Banished of Muirwood) already with a pub date of August 8, 2015 (that’s 6 months earlier than any of us expected). The next two books (The Ciphers and Muirwood and The Void of Muirwood) will come out one month apart, arriving in September and October. Three novels in three months. I am so thrilled to partner with Amazon Publishing and their willingness to break the mold in bringing out my books even faster.

The good news doesn’t end there. I mentioned before that Jet City Comics is working on a graphic novel based on the story “Maia” I wrote. That story is part of the Covenant series. I’m working with amazing script writers and stunning artists to bring to life the images and icons of the Muirwood world. Each week, I get sketches and panels to review and approve. We do not have a firm launch date yet (since only the first issues is underway), but it should be around the same time as the novels. It has been thrilling, to say the least, seeing my dreams and imagination come to life through sketches and art. I know you will love exploring the world with me.

Hope you enjoy Poisonwell and stay tuned for more as the new Muirwood series begins to unfold!



A love poem from a memory 26 years ago

Filed under: Jeff's Blog — February 14, 2015 @ 3:50 pm

Today is Valentine’s Day. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. Hardly anything tops a date night that watching a period film (preferably based on something Austen wrote). My wife and I have been married for almost 21 years and I was remembering this morning a cold rainy day in February 1989. It was one of our first “unofficial” dates. We were both seniors in high school and were friends because of an after school job at a teacher supply store in San Jose, CA. She had called me one day after school and we were *talking on the phone (yes kids, this is before texting…) and she told me about this beautiful area in the hills nearby that she passed driving to school every day.


Before I knew it, I suggested she pick me up (she had the car) and show me. It was a misty, drizzly, lusciously green day, like that scene in the Keira Knightley version of P&P. We climbed the hills together until well past sunset and found the gate locked when we tried to go home. We had to call the sheriff’s department to come get us out. Five years later, and one month before we got married, I was taking a creative writing class at SJSU and wrote this poem to my sweetie on my birthday. We nicknamed the park “Mt Nataka” after a line from a movie. This episode became a scene in my book The Blight of Muirwood.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mt. Nataka


It was a misty afternoon in February

five years ago

that we walked in the hills

north along 280.

The faint drizzle sprayed our beaming faces

but it could not dampen our spirits.

We trudged across fields of grass and mud

laughing, reckless,

not caring where we wandered.

At the top of a hill, we watched a sinuous trail

of headlights writhing below towards the city,

and were happy to be above it.

We smelled the wild grass and heard

the murmur of a gentle breeze.

The sun had set by the time we returned,

and the drizzle thickened into light rain.

Your car sat lonely and wet, caged

behind a gate the ranger had already locked.

I shivered by a payphone as the shower

pulsed against my coat

and the darkness deepened.

Sitting in your brown Toyota, the heater

blowing like an arid desert wind,

you took my trembling cold hands in yours,

and we smiled comfort into each others eyes.

That moment is forever etched in my mind.

You held my hands and I held yours

and we wondered why it felt so natural

so warm.

There was nothing to fear.

You and I — sitting together –

alone on a stormy winter night.

The sheriff came and turned the key

Which freed us from the cage.

But at the same moment, we were

caged again by our friendship.

We said goodnight,

but we did not mean it.

It took months to regain that lost moment,

And to break through the prison we made.

My heart still burns when I remember

that shadowy February night.

And I still feel today

your warm palm

holding mine.

March 1994


flickr-2963025331_99157a4853_o maryknoll


Developing Characters – the Johari Window

Filed under: Jeff's Blog — January 15, 2015 @ 6:49 pm

One of the most satisfying things about reading a book is watching how characters progress. Robert Olen Butler talked about human yearning being the key driver of any story, that writing “is the art form of human yearning.” In the Muirwood Trilogy, Lia hungered to learn how to read, then to serve the Medium, and finally to save her precious abbey.

One of the things I learned during my career at Intel was a concept called the Johari Window.


It is pretty self-explanatory when you look at the four quadrants. Each of us has traits (good and bad) that we know about ourselves. Some we keep hidden from others. Some we are blind to but are obvious to others. Then there is the black box, those things we do not understand about ourselves, that others do not see either, yet they impact our lives greatly (often negatively).

In Terry Brooks’ epic tale ”The Sword of Shannara”, the main character learned that the Druid blade’s power was not in its sharp edge but in its ability to reveal truth to people, difficult truths about themselves they did not even realize. Holding the sword offered you a glimpse into that black quadrant…often with perilous consequences.


I enjoy developing characters and watching how they react to adversity. It is overcoming that adversity which leads to growth and makes them interesting to me. If all went well constantly, they would never change.

So think about using the Johari Window idea if you are every trying to flesh out a character you want to write. It may be helpful in understanding how they see themselves, how others see them, and maybe that critical flaw (the black box) which overcoming will help them succeed.

I shared this with my kids recently and revealed some of my weaknesses — one of which is a tendency to be sarcastic. I encouraged them to call me out every time I slipped by looking at me and saying “Dad, Johari Window!” It has been amazing how quick they were to help out (grins) and how much I have been catching myself…sometimes saying “Johari Window” on myself instead of the biting remark. It’s made a difference in our home and now the kids are working on some of their blind spots. A good thing to think about for New Year’s goals.

Wishing you a great 2015!




There is power in persistence

Filed under: Uncategorized — December 10, 2014 @ 4:57 pm


There is power in persistence. I have told this story several times to friends and family, but I do not think I have shared it on my blog. There was a time, three years ago, when I was tempted to quit writing.

In 2011, I had self-published the Muirwood Trilogy and the reviews were good, but I was feeling a little discouraged because there were still so many typos that needed fixing. I have since learned that even with a whole crew of dev editors, line editors, and so forth, those pesky typos still get through. But at the time, I was a little discouraged. My biggest regret now about self-publishing was not hiring a capable copy-editor. Word to the wise – it’s worth every penny!

During Christmas breaks I usually took a few weeks off of work from Intel. A friend/fan in Australia had offered to send me a list of the typos she had found reading her Kindle version and I was grateful for the help, since I came to the realization that I could not spot them on my own. On a wintery afternoon, I was fixing them all, one by one, feeling a little gloomy and sorry for myself. I was tempted to quit, I will admit. I struggled to balance all the parts of my life and wondered if it was even worth it juggling my writing too.

Gratefully, I had read a story in Napoleon Hill’s book about a man who had quit his goal prematurely and regretted it. The story goes on that most success comes just after a moment of discouragement. I was also motivated by a 2009 TED talk by Simon Sinek called “Start with Why”. It’s a great talk ( and it made me think about why I was a writer. Watching that video led me to write something in December 2011 which I dubbed “A Manifesto on Virtue” and posted it on my blog that month. Here we are, 3 years later and it still resonates with me.

I fixed the typos in Muirwood. I re-posted the Kindle versions and fixed the print versions too. Two weeks later, I did my first Kindle Direct promotion. I still have a screenshot from the night I checked the result and saw that over 10,000 readers had downloaded Wretched. I stared at the screen, trying to breathe, and was soooo grateful I had not succumbed to the fleeting temptation to quit. A few months later, I got a call from 47North.

Never give in. Never, never, never give in.


I just received this gift from my publisher to celebrate my favorite book (Blight of Muirwood) reaching over 100,000 sales. Looks like I will be doing some reading over the Christmas break on my new Kindle Voyage! And fixing typos too. I’m still doing that, even though it’s hard and tedious. Status update: I have finished writing the rough drafts of the first two new Covenant of Muirwood books and have started on book 3. This is the fastest I have ever written a novel in my life, let alone two. I’m on track to have the third book finished by my birthday in March. Cover art for Poisonwell is almost ready to be revealed. And the team doing my first Muirwood graphic novel is assembling. I love my new life as a full-time writer. Thank you, dear reader, for making all this possible.

Merry Christmas!



More announcements! (Write On and Jet City Comics)

Filed under: Jeff's Blog — November 7, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

I loved New York Comic Con! What a great experience is was being back on the East Coast and visiting fans and friends during that trip. I enjoyed, taking lots of pictures, and even meeting some of you there. Great times!

There are two things I want to announce today.

First is Write On by Kindle ( Years ago when I was in college and taking creative writing courses, I joined the Online Writers Workshop in order to have my stories critiqued by fellow writers. What I didn’t like about the experience is it was mostly writers critiquing other writers. Amazon’s approach is a little different with Write On. It’s a place for writers of any skill level to go and put their work out to the world as a way of getting feedback from readers too. Feedback is absolutely crucial in learning the craft of writing. I can think of many of my early readers and how motivating it was to learn how my books were resonating with them. Write On is just that — a forum of writers *and* readers who mix and mingle and share ideas and help each other. It’s not just writers helping writers. The role of the reader is absolutely crucial.

Next week (November 10-15) I will be the ‘writer in residence’ at Write On and will be reading various stories, offering feedback and encouragement. The staff interviewed my wife Gina and I, and you can read the interview on the site. If any of you would like to register (it’s free), you can use the code JWHEELER. I’m happy to support the folks at Write On and encourage any of you fellow writers to drop by and maybe post something to the site for feedback. I’ll be lurking there, so send me a note if you’d like me to read something you submitted.


Second news – which I’m just as excited about. I have signed a contract with Amazon’s Jet City Comics to do a Muirwood graphic novel! This as been in the works for many months and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you. Those of you who have read the author notes of the Muirwood Trilogy know that I reference a novella I wrote years ago called Maia as the first story ever told in the Muirwood world. This novella was supposed to be the prequel of a fantasy trilogy, which I am now writing called the Covenant of Muirwood trilogy. I wondered what to do with the novella, since it was designed as a stand-alone piece yet it introduces the plot and main character of the new series. Jet City Comics approached me about turning this story into a Graphic Novel with plans to launch it in the middle of 2015 (ahead of the Covenant series expected in 2016). The graphic novel will be serialized and the final segment will be ready before the new series launches. I am thrilled to be able to work with Jet City Comics and their script writers, editors, and artists to visualize this story which has been a favorite of mine for many years. I have removed the story from my blog now and look forward to being able to share it with you in full color!

For those of you who don’t  know about graphic novels, they are like comic books where the story is told frame by frame. Jet City Comics did George R.R. Martin’s Hedge Knight graphic novels (below).


Link: here

Also, if you did not see my earlier announcement, pre-orders for Poisonwell went live this week on Amazon. The official launch day is Feb 24, 2015 on Kindle. You may have noticed that the print version is coming out in April. There was a schedule slip in getting the print version done in February, but 47North committed to get the novel out in Kindle so that you didn’t have to wait to extra months. Reminder for those who like both versions, with the Kindle Matchbook program, if you buy the print version, you can purchase the Kindle for $0.99 any time later. It’s a great deal!

This is all the good news for now…but there is more in the works! Stay tuned!