Make It Work! & RENEGADE Cover Reveal

Three little words my karate Sensei A.J. Advincula says is Make it work! This means that sometimes the student must adjust a technique, principle, or concept in order to execute a technique based on individual needs. For example, someone shorter than their attacker (like me) may be better off countering an attack with groin strike rather than a strike to the throat. Why would I reach up when my target of opportunity, the groin, is closer?

Adjusting, adapting, and overcoming—AKA making it work—applies in the martial arts, in life (as we’ve all been experiencing in the Covid-19 era), and in writing.

One time, when Sensei Advincula stayed at our house for a long weekend of karate training, he taught us knife-fighting techniques with the Flesheater, the combat knife he designed. This awesome knife, custom made by knife maker Jim Hammond, is featured in each book in the Survival Race series and can be seen on the spine as part of the series logo.

Something during our training session—perhaps the mention of reaming?—sparked a question about a technique I used in my book, CAPTIVE. When I asked Sensei about it, I learned I goofed up my sword fight choreography. That night, over a cup of tea at the kitchen table, I read the scene to him and learned something important about Claymores, the sword my hero wielded in the manuscript.

A Claymore is a long sword with a heavy, straight blade that was used in Scotland, especially in the Highlands, during the 15th – 17th centuries. The word Claymore was derived from a Celtic word meaning great sword. Its average length was 55 inches. Because of its weight (5 – 8 pounds), it had a long hilt for a two-handed grip. I’d learned all this from my research. However, I had imagined the hands were positioned one on top of the other like you’d hold a baseball bat. Sensei explained this wasn’t the case. The hands are positioned further apart to give leverage to hold and maneuver the heavy weapon.

Hand position makes a difference when writing about how the weapon is used. Sensei explained Claymores were wielded mainly against multiple opponents with sweeping and slashing movements. The weight could penetrate armor. It was not typically used for thrusting or piercing or fighting one-on-one.

All of my fight choreography was based on a lighter weight sword with a different hand grip than what my characters were using. They fought one-on-one and also used thrusts. I didn’t want to keep these mistakes in the book, but I didn’t want to re-choreograph the entire sword fight either. Now what?


Since I’m writing science fiction, I decided to create my own sword to do what I needed for the scene. This sword was made of Hyborean steel, a lightweight and incredibly strong material found on the planet in which this story is set. It can be wielded one or two handed. My new sword needed a name. I decided on Gladimort, a shortened form of the Latin words gladius mortis, which (according to Google translate) means Sword of Death.

Gladimorts are standard issued in the survival races, a blood sport where the last man alive wins. You’ll see more use of Gladimorts in book three, Renegade, as we venture back into the Survival Race arena! Newsletter subscribers got a sneak peek at Renegade’s cover last week, but today I’m revealing it to everyone.

The heroine, Katana, is a female gladiator. I think the cover designer, Karri Klawiter, did a great job making her look tough. I love the details of the multiple ear piercings and the shock collar necklace. The hero, Griffin, is a scientist. Note his telescope in the background. Griffin has his head in the stars. Katana has hers in the arena. Both must compete in the survival race to win their hearts desire. What do you think? Reply in the comments and let me know which Survival Race cover you like best: Captive, Fearless, or Renegade.

Captive (The Survival Race book one)Fearless (The Survival Race book two)

When a rebel scientist and a female gladiator team-up in the Survival Race—a blood sport where the last man alive wins—they unwittingly fall for each other. But the alien masters demand a single champion, and the rivals-turned-lovers are forced to choose between winning their freedom and losing more than their hearts.

RENEGADE (Survival Race #3)

Coming June 2020


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