It's everyone's favorite part of the book reading process. The one you have all been waiting for! It's time for the cover reveal for Book 5: Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade! Here it is! Gaze in awe of its brilliance. See the subtle elegance. The fine attention to detail. The carefully adjusted color balance.
Ok, the more observant of you might have noticed that this cover looks like it was just something I made in Minecraft. If you guessed that to be the case, give yourself a gold star!
Because that is exactly how I made this cover. This won't be the cover the book will ship with, don't worry, but I did print a couple of copies with this cover.
Why I made this cover... Now that is a bit of a story.
Cover Artist Lost
So, if you open up to the copy right page of any of your copies of Wyoming Bones 1, 2, 3, or 4, you will see that the cover images for those books were made by a guy named "slert". When we first started working on Wyoming Bones and the Potion of Everlife, we went through about three different artists, ordered covers from each, and went with the one we liked the most.
The artist we went with was slert, and we liked his work quite a bit. We loved how alive he made our little skeleton adventure feel. We went on to order covers for Books 2, 3, and 4 from him as well.
And then, when we reached out a few months ago about book 5... He didn't respond. He still hasn't.
Need for a Cover
But books need covers, and this one had a bit of a deadline. When you read the dedication for Book 5, you'll see I dedicated it to the fans who keep asking for new books. In the case of one special fan, a friend of the family, That was quite literal.
Like every time I saw her. "How's book 5 coming?" "Can I read book 5?" "When can I have book 5?"
And all of that was over the course of an hour. It was great, and I loved it, but also I had the problem of not having a cover for the book. I couldn't give the book to my fan without a cover.
And then, a few weeks ago, everything came to a head when the fan invited our family to her birthday party, and asked for just one thing: Book 5.
I'd already started reaching out to new creators to find a different cover artist (more on that next time!), but I knew they wouldn't get the covers to me in time to get a book printed for my fan's birthday party.
And thus Operation Desperate Cover Art was born.
I dove into Minecraft, modeled up a bell tower, put on my favorite Indiana Jones skin, posed for the camera, and then put it all into the template I have for the cover. (We'll use our real cover designer for the official cover!)
Then, because this was the only time I would be using this cover, I decided to label it for the fan- That is why I labeled the cover "Finley's Edition".
The party was Saturday, Finley's parent's just told me she has finished the book. Considering this is my longest book yet, at 45k words, that's a pretty quick read through!
She loved it, which made all the extra work worthwhile. Now I just need to get the real cover ready for all of you. I'm shooting for a January release- Sorry its not ready to go under your Christmas tree! But, still, Books 1-4 make pretty great gifts still, even if I do say so myself!
Wyoming Bones Book 1
Wyoming Bones 1- The start to the series.
Little known fact: I first came up for the idea of Wyoming Bones while looking at the barrel of a rocket that I was working on. It was break time, so the technicians were off, and I was letting my mind wander a bit. I have always appreciated how fun and action packed the Indiana Jones movies were, and I'd been playing a lot of Minecraft with my kids.
Naturally, I wondered: What if Indiana Jones were set in Minecraft? Change the name a bit, and suddenly he's a skeleton and off my mind went. I sat home that night and typed out the first few chapters, and finished the whole book in about a month.
I had a blast the whole time, as did my kids when I would read it to them at night. Having a personal audience that expects the next installment to be ready by bed time is great motivation to put words on paper, let me tell you!
What follows is the first few chapters in the series, as a bit of a teaser. Feel free to share it with your friends if you think they, or their kids, would be interested! You can get the full book in ebook, paperback, hardback, or audio at Amazon. Or take a look at the whole series!
Wyoming Bones And The Potion of Ever Life - Sample
Wyoming Bones, archeologist and treasure hunter, stepped into the jungle temple. The place was a mess, but that is what he expected of an old, hidden ruin.
“Yuck!” he said, as he stepped into a spider web just inside the door. He wiped the web from his face and looked around. The green stone walls were cracked and there were skulls of skeletons sitting on the floor.
Even though Wyoming Bones was a skeleton himself, he didn’t like seeing the skeleton skulls. He hadn’t been a skeleton for long and hoped he could find the magic item needed to turn him back into a human in this temple. Soon he would have his beautiful hair again! Thinking about his hair, he pulled his explorer hat down on his blocky skull.
Wyoming tried hitting the stone with his iron pickaxe, but he couldn’t mine it. Just like he thought. This ruin was an Adventure Zone, like most temples and ancient places were.
He wouldn’t be able to break blocks here to find the treasure. He’d have to do this the hard way.
The first room only had one exit. It was a stone stairway in the center of the chamber. Trying to walk quietly with his bony feet, he crept down the stairs. As it got darker, Wyoming made sure to bring out a stack of torches, putting them on the wall every few blocks. He might be a skeleton, but he still needed to see where he was going!
As he entered the room at the bottom of the stairs, he saw a carving of a spider on the wall ahead. Was this temple made by spiders? Did the people who made it really like spiders? Distracted by the spider picture, Wyoming didn’t watch where he was putting his feet. When he heard the “click!” of a pressure plate, he froze and looked down.
“Oh no! A trap!” Wyoming said, quickly diving forward into the room. Just in time! An arrow from a dispenser whizzed over his head and clanged against the wall next to him. As he stood up, and dusted himself off, he heard another puff of air, and then another. More traps!
Wyoming sprinted forward, heading to the exit from the room. The arrows flew right behind him, barely missing him! One actually got stuck in his leather jacket, it was so close.
Finally, he was through the room, and in a long, dark, hallway. He put his hands on his knees and sighed a loud, “Whew!” That had been a close one. Hopefully that had been the only trap room. He winced as he realized that he had just jinxed himself. There were definitely going to be more traps now.
Wyoming squinted forward, trying to see down the hallway, but it was too dark. He hit himself in the forehead- the torches! Quickly he placed one down, and then he could see forward. Well, he could have seen forward, if it weren’t for all the cobwebs! “I think I might have figured out what that spider carving was about,” Wyoming said to himself. “Spiders. Why did it have to be spiders?”
Wyoming pulled out his iron sword, and started swinging at the cobwebs, trying to hack his way through. He was several blocks into the mess, when he saw two glowing red eyes coming towards him through the webs. A spider! Just then he heard a chittering behind him. Make that two spiders! He didn’t know how the second spider had gotten behind him, but he was surrounded! He quickly shuddered—he really didn’t like spiders!
Wyoming thought fast. He didn’t want to get attacked by both mobs at once. He whirled around and raced back to the spider behind him, swinging at it with his sword. The spider leaped at him, green poison bubbles popping around its mouth. His sword swing hit it in midair, knocking it back. He swung again at it, making it flash red. Before he could hit it again and poof it away, he heard scurrying behind him and rolled to the side.
The other spider flew through the air where he had just been, hitting the first mob. While they were both getting back up, Wyoming lunged in with his sword, poofing the damaged creepy-crawly. With only one spider to face, he was quickly able to get rid of the last pest. As the last monster poofed away, it left a spider eye behind. He picked it up and put it in his bag. Elaina, the potions teacher, always asked him to bring her things like this from his trips.
Now that the spiders were gone, Wyoming quickly made his way through the rest of the spiderwebs, hacking at them with his sword. He collected the strings that dropped from the cobweb blocks, gathering around a dozen. He had found that having a stack of string could be surprisingly useful for a treasure hunter, so he always tried to grab them when he could.
Finally, he was through the webs, where he found a large iron door. In front of the door were ten levers, and several jungle wood signs. The signs read, “Choose the correct lever to pass through the door, but beware! Only one lever leads to the treasure!”
Wyoming was so close, but he needed to take a moment to think. “Let’s see . . . Based on the carvings, I am pretty sure this temple was made by the ancient People of The Spider. What do I know about them?” He tapped his chin, trying to remember everything he had learned as an archeologist about the old spider worshipers. “That’s right! They thought the perfect number was eight! The same number as a spider has legs!”
Quickly, he counted the levers from left to right. “Six . . . Seven . . . Eight! There it is!” He pulled the lever, already walking forward towards the door he knew was about to open. The door didn’t open. Instead, as he waited, the trap door under his feet swung down! Wyoming fell into the hole, but before he fell all the way in, he grabbed the edge of the pit with one bony hand. Slowly, he pulled himself up, breathing heavily. He looked down and saw a raging river at the bottom of the shaft. That would not have been a fun trip.
“That’s . . . right . . .” He panted out the words. “The . . . People of The Spider . . . Counted from right to left, not left to right!” He had chosen the wrong lever. Counting again, this time from the right, Wyoming found the real lever number eight, and slowly pulled it. He sighed in relief when the door rumbled open.
As he stepped inside, torches lit themselves in a circle around the room, one after the other. Soon the space was filled with torchlight, and he could see a treasure chest box on a pedestal in the center. This was it. If the rumors were true, this is where he could find the item that would turn him back into a human!
Walking carefully, looking for any more traps, Wyoming made his way to the treasure chest. Slowly he cracked it open. Inside, there was . . . Only a book? He pulled it out and opened it.
Inside it read, “Wyoming. I have beat you again. I knew you would come looking for this treasure, but I think I will keep it for my own, personal collection. It’s so much better, knowing you want it. Oh, by the way? Look down. — Dr. Edward Ville”.
Wyoming quickly glanced down, groaning as he realized he was standing on another pressure plate. He quickly put the book in his bag, as the room started to shake, and the walls started to crumble. He had to get out of here!
He darted back out of the room, trying to run down through the hallway. He passed by the shaft of the trap he had nearly fallen into earlier. Before he got more than a few steps into the hallway, the roof ahead of him started to collapse back towards him! Looking behind, he saw that the treasure room had already caved in. If he didn’t get out of here quick, he would be crushed!
Looking around desperately, Wyoming made a snap decision.
Holding onto his hat, Wyoming jumped straight down the shaft, plunging into the icy river below.
Wyoming splashed into the cold water and was instantly pulled along by the current. It was dark down in the cave below the temple, so he didn’t see the roof of the tunnel getting lower until it hit him in the head.
“Ouch!” Wyoming cried out. He couldn’t get anything else out before he was completely under the water. The river kept pulling him along, moving faster now.
He started to panic. Air! He needed to breathe . . . Wait a second. He was a skeleton. He didn’t need to breathe. He was going to be fine!
It was then that Wyoming heard the gurgling groan behind him. He would recognize that sound anywhere. A drowned, and he couldn’t even see it! He knew the underwater zombie would be able to take his bones apart under the water, so he started swimming as fast as he could with the current.
Wyoming could see light ahead of him. He must be getting close to the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, the groaning behind him was getting closer as well. He didn’t know if he would make it in time!
As he burst from the tunnel, he saw light above him. Wyoming kicked his legs and swam for the surface. He looked behind him and saw the drowned stopping at the edge of the underground passage. As he watched, it turned around and swam back inside.
He was still wondering why the waterlogged zombie had stopped following him when his head broke through into the air. He heard a loud roar fill his ear-holes as water dripped out of them and looked around. He quickly figured it out. “Oh. Of course. A waterfall. That would do it.”
Wyoming screamed a manly shriek as he fell over the edge. In the confusion, he forgot to hold onto his explorer hat. “Nooooo! My hat! Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!” His scream cut off as he collided with the water.
The crash spun him around for a few seconds, but he quickly found the surface. As he swam for the air, he saw a shadow on the surface. A boat was waiting for him. Was this a friend? Or another enemy?
Wyoming Bones Book 5
Update on the next book
It's only been a couple of weeks since the release ofWyoming Bones and the Nether Journey, and already people are asking when the next book is coming out. That is a great problem for an author to have! It means people liked the book.
So here's an update on the next book, Wyoming Bones Book 5, Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade. I finished the first draft of the book about a week ago, and I've sent it off to my Beta Readers to give me feedback before I get started on editing. (In the meantime, I've already gotten started on writing book 6!) I don't have a publish date yet, or even a cover to reveal, but I am really excited about this one. It might be my favorite one yet.
Its also the longest by far. So far my books have clocked in between 28 and 35 thousand words, which makes them pretty quick reads. Book 5 is currently sitting at just about 45 thousand words. Still a quick read, but the story required a bit more room. That might change with editing, but its going to be hard to cut 10 thousand words!
Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade
Wyoming and his crew are fresh off their adventure in the Nether and are excited to get back to their regular jobs. In particular, Wyoming has missed teaching history at the school after being gone for several weeks. But why is everyone acting like he's been there the entire time? And why is he being accused of stealing the Founder's Blade? The police have a photo of Wyoming at the scene of the crime, holding the missing Blade, but there is only one problem: He wasn't even in the city at the time.
Wyoming and his friends will need to solve puzzles, defeat monsters, and find the imposter who really stole the Blade if they are going to clear Wyoming's name, all while running from the police. And they'll need to do it fast, because the Blade is a key to a deeper mystery. One that could destroy all of New Block City.
Sneak Peak: Chapter 1 of Wyoming Bones Book 5
Wyoming Bones, archeologist and treasure hunter, stepped boldly into what is, for many, the scariest place in the world: School.
He took in a deep breath, enjoying the familiar smell of brick walls, scratchy carpet, and well-read books. The morning light streamed through the stained glass window set high in the wall of the large foyer of the building. The window depicted the founder of the school, Sir Humbolt Reed, holding a diamond blade in one hand and a book in the other. Wyoming smiled—Sir Reed was one of his childhood heroes, and seeing that window made him remember why he had become an adventurer in the first place. It had been far too long since he had been to his regular job as a history teacher, and he’d missed it greatly.
Today was going to be a great day. He could already tell. His first class was starting in just a few minutes, but he had plenty of time to make it there. There wasn’t any need to hurry. Students filled the halls, heading to their different rooms, but they made way for him as he strolled down the hallway.
Up ahead, Elaina, the potions teacher, stood outside her office, chatting with another instructor. He hadn’t seen his old friend in weeks, but he’d picked up some potion ingredients for her on his adventures, like he usually tried to do. This time, he had a half stack of nether wart in his bag and he hurried forward to give it to her.
Elaina looked up, saw him coming, and her eyes went wide. With a small gasp, she turned and darted into her office, slamming the door so fast that her long brown hair almost got trapped. The woman she had been talking to looked at Wyoming and let out a loud sniff.
“You have some nerve, coming to see Elaina, after what you did!” Cynthia glared at him.
“What I did?” Wyoming raised his eyebrows, confused.
“Yes! What you did! If you didn’t want to go to the dance with her, you should have just said so. You didn’t even show up!” With that, Cynthia whirled away and went into her own office near Elaina’s.
“Dance?” Wyoming was even more confused now. “But I haven’t even been in town—“ He shook his head, realizing he was talking to a closed door. The whole thing must be a misunderstanding. He couldn’t have asked Elaina to a dance—he’d spent the last two weeks trapped in the Nether. Shaking his head, he tried to put the strange event out of his mind.
A group of young girls were looking at him as he turned towards his class, and they laughed when they saw him glance their way. He thought that was a bit odd, but didn’t let it bother him. It was still going to be a great day!
Suddenly, a big hand slapped him on the back with a meaty thwack, and he stumbled forward. At the same time, a loud voice said, “Wyoming! Thanks for promising to help coach the game tomorrow!”
Wyoming caught his balance and turned to see Coach Jackson standing beside him. The large man had a grin on his face, like he normally did. Wyoming had only spoken to the other teacher a few times in the past and didn’t know him well. What he did know was that he loved Mine-Ball, and he had no volume control of his voice. Whether you were one block away or a hundred, the man shouted everything he said.
“Coach the game? Tomorrow?” Wyoming asked, trying to figure out what Coach Jackson meant. He knew they had a Mine-Ball team, but he didn’t know the rules or how to play it. He never would have volunteered to help coach it!
“Exactly!” Coach Jackson shouted happily. “Game starts at noon! I’ll see you then!”
Wyoming opened his mouth to explain that there was a mistake, but before he could, Coach Jackson looked over Wyoming’s head and shouted, “Franks, Weber! Put those pickaxes back in the locker room right now!” Without looking at Wyoming, the large man stomped towards the two students. They were trying to hide pickaxes behind their backs, guilty expressions on their faces. “No pickaxes allowed in the halls, you know that!”
Wyoming shook his head and started walking to class as Coach Jackson yelled at the students, who must be players on the school Mine-Ball team. Wyoming would need to talk to the coach after school to clear up the misunderstanding. There was a strict “no building or mining” rule in the school, and being caught with tools in the halls was a quick way to get into trouble. Not that they could hurt the school too much–Sir Humbolt had built it with sturdy stones, and it took forever to break a block here, even with diamond tools. Digging downward was even harder. Somehow, Sir Humbolt had built a layer of unbreakable bedrock blocks under the school. Of course, that didn’t stop students from trying. They just didn’t get very far.
Needless to say, they held the Mining class in specially designed, mining friendly building, outside the main, old building with its curiously sturdy floors.
Now, where had Coach Jackson gotten the idea that Wyoming would help coach a game of Mine-Ball? Wyoming didn’t even know how to play Mine-Ball! He made a note to talk to him after school, then put it at the back of his mind. Looking at the clock on the wall, he knew he didn’t have time to worry about it now or he’d be late for class.
He made it into his room with a minute to spare and walked up to the board. Picking up the chalk, he wrote, “Sir. Humbolt Reed: Life and History” across the board. Based on the class schedule he had planned out, that should be the topic for today. He was glad he’d made it back in time to teach it, instead of letting a substitute have all the fun.
The bell rang, and he turned around to look up at his class. The seats were set up like a theater, each row higher than the one ahead, so every student would have a good view of the blackboard at the front. It was a full room, and he smiled when he saw Leila, with Blurble on her shoulder, sitting in the top row, near a window. It looked like they had made it without any problems. During their last adventure together, Leila had asked if she could come watch a class, and he was more than happy to have her here.
Blurble, of course, had insisted on coming as well. Wyoming had some concerns about the little green slime being around so many priceless, edible books, but Leila had promised to keep it in line.
“Okay, before we begin,” Wyoming said, smiling at the students in his class. “Does anyone have any questions?”
A boy in the middle of the room, with lots of freckles on his nose, raised his hand. When Wyoming pointed at him, the boy asked, “Why do you always wear your hat? Mom tells me to take off my hat when I’m at school.”
Wyoming’s eyes went wide. “I really like hats!” He blurted, his voice a little too loud, and then laughed nervously. He could see Leila, at the back of the room, bury her head in her hands, and he winced. He was terrible at lying, but he also really didn’t want to explain that the spell on the hat was the only thing that let him look human. What would his students think if they knew that, thanks to an annoying curse, he was actually a skeleton?
No, Wyoming was brave, but there were some things even he was afraid to do.
He smoothed his face. “No, sorry, that’s not . . . I meant does anyone have questions about what we have been learning?” When no one raised their hand, he turned back to the board. “Good. Now, Sir. Humbolt Reed, the founder of New Block City, was born in. . .”
Wyoming got lost in the history lesson, enjoying explaining one of his favorite subjects. He explained about how Humbolt, then just a young man, had found the site for their city while looking for ruins, and how he had gathered friends to help him build it. It had taken years, but they had mined the stone, granite, clay, and wood they used to piece together New Block City, block by block. Eventually, others came to the city, and he had turned to exploration.
“He founded this very school we are in, although at the time it focused on archeology and treasure hunting. Some people say that Sir Reed was the greatest treasure hunter the world has ever seen—”
“Excuse me, Dr. Bones?” A girl with brown pigtails raised her hand. Wyoming struggled to remember the girl’s name. Was it Mary? No! Maggie! He was pretty sure that was it, anyway.
“Yes, Maggie?” He sighed in relief when she smiled. He must have gotten the name right, after all.
“Well, it’s just that. . .” She paused and shifted in her seat as if nervous. “Yesterday, you told us that Sir Humbolt Reed was a fraud and a trickster. But now you are saying—.”
“Wait, what did you say?” Wyoming cut her off. “Yesterday? I wasn’t here yesterday.”
There was a murmur in the class as all the students started talking at once.
“No, you’ve been here all week!”
“You told me I looked dumb on Tuesday!”
“I really like turtles!”
That last one came from Billy, but turtles were all Billy ever talked about, so Wyoming ignored him.
The voices blended together into a roar, and Wyoming looked around in confusion. Leila had a concerned expression on her face, and Blurble was bouncing up and down in the window, yelling “Blurble!” repeatedly. The slime probably didn’t know what was going on, but it liked to be included, anyway.
Suddenly, the door banged open and everyone became quiet at once. Except for Blurble, who kept hopping and saying, “Blurble!” Leila picked it up and shushed it, putting it on her lap. Everything was silent for a few heartbeats, and then police officers stormed into the room. They all had swords or crossbows pointed at Wyoming.
Wyoming placed the chalk back down on the board and turned to face the police fully. “Good morning, officers.” He carefully did not pull out his sword. The last thing he wanted to do was fight them, especially in a classroom full of kids. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit this morning?”
The police said nothing. A moment later, a well dressed older man walked into the room. He held out a golden badge. “I am Inspector Maxwell.” He slapped the badge holder shut, then put it in his pocket. “And you, Dr. Bones, are under arrest for stealing the Founder’s Blade!”
Wyoming started to suspect that maybe, just maybe, the day would not be quite as good as he had hoped.