Coming Up for Air

I always do NaNoWriMo, but I rarely win.  Actually, I’ve won once (2011) – the first year I tried it.  November is just a bad month (for me) to do this, and I’m just not that fast a writer.  So I’m at 3000 words on day 11.  Not too impressive.

November always seems to fill up with stuff:

  • I attended the World Fantasy Convention (more to come on that).
  • My website is being revised.
  • I took my books off KDP Select and am getting them set up on other channels (They’re popping up all over the place right now).
  • I’m finishing the book files for my new novel – Death-Bringer (Definitely more to come on this).
    • Finished final edits.
    • Setting up ARC giveaways
    • Getting it on pre-order for Amazon.
    • Getting the paperback ready.
    • Putting together my marketing strategy.
  • Getting together with family on my Birthday.
  • Thanksgiving
  • Normal writing group activities.

November is always too busy.  I also joined a few group giveaways on Prolific Works (now that I’m off KDP Select).  Check out this giveaway starting today:

Christmas-Holiday Gifts – Science Fiction & Fantasy For Everyone.

There are lots of free Science Fiction and Fantasy books in this giveaway including book 1 of my Kingdom of Haven series – The Order of the Wolf.

P7129144-2 - v9 - larger title - author and title bevel - wolf glow rsz

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Free, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Are You Ready for NaNoWriMo?

November is upon us.  All you writers out there who plan to participate in National Novel Writing Month should be revving your engines.  This year I plan to start a new novel — The next book in my Black Sword Saga series.  Never heard of the Black Sword Saga you say?  Well, let me tell you about it:

Coming January 2019 Death-Bringer: The Black Sword Saga Book 1

War is coming to the Norwood, and a strange warrior arrives with a black sword to lead the Nor against the invaders.

Arlyss Quarrel is oblivious to the danger.  His only dream is to marry the girl next door and start a family of his own far away from his demanding father.  This dream is shattered when he accidentally injures his best friend and is sent away to the local lord to become a warrior.

When Arlyss arrives at the lord’s hall, he soon finds himself caught up in a maelstrom of intrigue with the bearer of the black sword at its center.  

When the invaders arrive, will Arlyss be ready to defend his homeland or will he fall under the spell of the Black Sword?  

Be looking for a cover reveal within the next week or so.

For NaNoWriMo, I’ll be working on book 2 in this series titled The Horned One.  I’m not a huge planner and don’t work off a written outline, but I do have an outline in my head and hope to make good progress during NaNo.

If you don’t want to wait until January to read one of my books, hop on over to Amazon and pick up The Order of the Wolf for Free until Friday.  Stenson Blues and The Eastern Factor are also discounted to $.99 for a limited time.

Kingdom of Haven

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Thank God for Bad Samaritans

I own a classic truck.  A good definition of a classic vehicle is that it’s old enough that no one else wants to buy it from you, but not so far gone that it’s ready for the junkyard.   This one’s a 1995 F-150.

Truck

Of course, some dealer would be happy to give me a “good trade” if I bought a new vehicle from them. Some days I’m not sure why I don’t trade it in for something newer.  Typically, these are the days it decides to show its age and act up.

Just the other day, I was driving to an appointment and the truck died in the middle of the road. It was around 8:30 in the morning.  Of course, I was in morning traffic.

It’s a four-lane road, and I’m sitting in the right lane going nowhere with a line of cars piling up behind me and the left lane zooming past.  I can see in my rear-view mirror the cars trying to jockey around me, and I’m avoiding making eye contact with the drivers as they pass (because people are so happy during their morning commute, to begin with).

I try to start the truck a couple of times and let out a few choice curses.   The truck had died on me in a similar fashion about a year ago—the distributor finally kicked the bucket.  My first thoughts were that it died again, and  I should have traded in this piece of crap then.

Luckily I’m near an intersection and there’s a right turn lane.   I decided to push my truck over to let the happy commuters go along their merry way (nobody was honking, but if glares could kill…)

It’s a big truck, and I’m not a big man.  As I’m grunting to get this thing moving (and hoping no one clips my door and kills me),  I’m mentally griping about my fellow drivers:

Where were the good Samaritans?  Surely someone will stop and help me push this beast! 

After significant effort (luckily the road was flat), I get the truck out of traffic and hop back in to collect my thoughts.  I don’t even get a chance to sigh before I look in the rear view mirror and see a car sitting in the turn lane behind me.

Yes, there is a good person out there! 

I wait for the guy to get out of his car.

He looks down at his cell phone and then back up.  He’s just sitting there.

It dawns on me that he’s not stopping to help.  He’s waiting to turn right.

What the hell!

I roll down my window and wave for him to go around.  I guess my truck sitting skewed in the lane, not running, wasn’t a strong enough clue.

Now I’m fuming about the piece of crap truck and my good-for-nothing fellow commuters.  Recriminating thoughts are running through my head:

If I was a young lady, they’d be lining up to help me. 

What about a senior citizen—I’ve got more gray hair than black damn it.

I was full of self-righteous fury. . . until I looked down at the gauge panel and remembered that I needed gas.  I was on my way to the gas station that morning because I didn’t have enough gas in the tank to go into town.  My truck has two tanks, and they were both low.

Surely I didn’t run out of gas.

I flipped the switch to change tanks and turned the key.  The truck fires up.

You know that feeling when you fall on your face, or smack yourself with a rake and look around to see if anyone saw you?  Multiply it by about a thousand, and you’ll know how I felt at that moment.

Sometimes we get caught up in the blame game: Why isn’t someone helping me?  Or we jump to conclusions: It’s the same problem as last time.  We don’t look at the situation clearly and go down the wrong path in our thinking.

All I can say is: Thank God for bad Samaritans!  I would have felt ten times stupider if someone had stopped to help and was standing there when I realized I ran out of gas.

God probably had a good laugh at me that day, and I can laugh about it too—now.  I guess we all need a little reminder that we need to look at ourselves first before pointing fingers.

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Free Book – Why not!

I have decided to move away from KDP Select and make my books available on all e-book platforms (They’ll still be on Amazon, just not exclusively).  So I’m having one last Amazon Kindle e-book promotion before making the change:

From Oct 29th to Nov 2, The Order of the Wolf will be available for free, Stenson Blues and The Eastern factor will also be on sale for $.99 each until Nov 5.

Kingdom of Haven

The Order of the Wolf: Kingdom of Haven Book 1

The Order of the Wolf is set in the Seven Kingdoms, where the rulers are greedy and mercenary companies known as the Free Orders are paid to settle their disputes.

As a member of The Order of the Wolf, Olaf never questioned his path until his mates were killed. What is a mercenary to do without his Order mates?

Wielding a death wish and his poleaxe, Olaf must confront haunting memories on a long journey to avenge the honor of his lost comrades and heal from his relentless grief.  Along the way, he will try to die in battle, fight old foes and new, meet the love of his life, and come face-to-face with the man he most fears.

Before he is finished, Olaf must stop hiding behind his axe and find a life for himself.

Who says a mid-life crisis has to be about fast cars?

 

Stenson Blues: The Kingdom of Haven Book 2

Olaf wasn’t sure when his luck went bad. Most said it was the day he fell and twisted his leg out of shape, but that was just the final straw on his unhappy slide from favor.  Even though he was a member of one of the most powerful families in the Seven Kingdoms, after the accident, he was relegated to herding pigs.

Olaf had accepted his fate until his long-lost uncle and namesake suddenly appeared with a kingdom.  Olaf, as the closest living relative, is sent with the family delegation to persuade his uncle to share his good fortune.

To succeed, Olaf must overcome his own feelings of inadequacy, vie against his dirty-dealing cousin, and persuade his suspicious uncle that he can be trusted.  Along the way, he gets caught up in his uncle’s political schemes, and may even meet the love of his life.  In the end, can Olaf prevail, make his uncle proud, and change his own luck?

 

The Eastern Factor: Kingdom of Haven Book 3

After being shattered by the death of his lady love, Olaf is sent east by his namesake Uncle to recover in the relative safety of the Eastern Confederation.  Even here, he cannot rest.  The Empire of Jewel is marching against his uncle’s fledgling Kingdom of Haven, and Olaf is tasked with finding a way to aid his uncle.

Suffering from his own internal demons of self-doubt and grief, he attacks his mission with as much gusto as he can manage, but has he learned from his previous mistakes?  In order to succeed, he must form odd alliances and thread the needle of daunting Eastern politics.  Has he learned enough to recognize friend from foe, and, above all, keep his own dark impulses from destroying his efforts?

The fate of the Kingdom of Haven is depending upon his success.

​Coming of age is tougher when you’re a Stenson.

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I Love my Yard!

I live in one of those neighborhoods where the houses are close together and the yards are small.  I was worried I wouldn’t have room for a garden, but I found a yard that’s on a curve (so the backyard is a bit bigger) with an empty field behind it.  Also, I have a row of stones, boulders really, between my backyard and the adjacent field.  It is cozy and just right for my garden.

Basically, I don’t have too much grass to mow, and I have my own little wooded garden area to play in.

Garden

The vegetable garden is looking a bit scraggy, but I guess that’s what happens when you hang out in your hammock too much. I’m still getting peppers at least.

Hammock

Hammock Anyone?

And of course, I get lots of visitors.

Hawk 2

Hawks (Couldn’t get too close)

Frog

Frogs (hiding from the hawks)

Lizard

Lizards (Guarding my door)

Coleus

Stowaway in my Coleus (Hiding from the Lizard)

And the best visitors this time of year are the juicy oranges just ready to pick.

Oranges 2018

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Coming Soon: Death-Bringer

My next book, Death-Bringer,  is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.  Be looking for a cover reveal soon.  Here’s an idea of what to expect:

War is coming to the Norwood!

Arlyss Quarrel is oblivious to the threat. He dreams of marrying the girl-next-door and starting a family of his own far away from his demanding father. But when he injures his best friend in a shearing accident, he is sent away to the local lord to become a warrior.

So begins a maelstrom of political intrigue, vengeful invaders, and jealous gods.  At its center stands a single warrior with a dark blade who leads the defense of the Norwood against the invaders. Can Arlyss avoid the dangerous path set before him by the mysterious warrior, and find the happy ending he always dreamed of?  Or will he fall under Death-Bringer’s spell?

Check out this excerpt:      

“What am I going to do with you, Companion Arlyss?” He clasped his hands behind his back. “You killed a man in battle and most likely started a blood feud with a prominent Vilk clan.” He rocked on the balls of his feet as he made each point. “You are a Quarrel, a member of one of Norwood’s prominent families, and your loss would be an inconvenience to my lord. You are young and inexperienced, too inexperienced to be made a full warrior, and yet my lord wishes to make an example of your accomplishment.”

“I am not a warrior,” Arlyss interrupted. “I got lucky.” Things were happening too fast, and he tried to think of anything that would stop it. “I gave away the coat,” he blurted.

The Primus cut him off with a slash of his hand. “A warrior,” he said, “cares more for his spear-mates than he does for himself.” His face actually softened for an instant. “This is not an argument against you.”

Arlyss felt his shoulders tense up once more and fought to hold back sudden tears. He wasn’t ready to be a warrior. He didn’t know if he ever would be. He wondered if this was how Durwyn had felt the night before the battle.

The Primus stepped in close so that they stood face-to-face. “Arlyss Quarrel, I told you the day we met that you may earn the title of warrior. Ready or not, young companion, that day has come.” As he stared into Arlyss’s eyes, his own eyes glowed with a sudden intensity that made Arlyss want to curl up into a ball. “You will be the greatest warrior the Norwood has ever seen . . . I swear it.” He let go of Arlyss and pulled back with a shudder. 

Arlyss’s hair stood on end. It felt like the words had not come from the Primus alone. He mouthed a prayer to the Spirit of the Norwood to protect him from the wyrd the Primus had lain upon him.       

The Primus looked similarly affected. He took a deep breath and let it out. His left hand slid around to his back to stroke the sheath of his black sword. “You will seek out the lord’s armorer tonight so he can make a warrior’s coat.” Now the Primus pulled his hand away from the sword and was all business with his ever-present severity and critical eyes. “On the last day of the funeral feast, you shall present yourself to the Lord of Luton and swear your loyalty to his cause.” He looked past Arlyss as he concluded, “A warrior does his duty.”

The Primus turned and marched out of the stall.

I will be sending out advance reader copies soon.  More to come on that, but don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re interested in posting a review.

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I’m Actually Not A Great Traveler

It seems like this has become more a travel blog than anything.  Just so you all know . . . it isn’t.  I’ve just been on the road a bit more than normal lately.  I’m actually more a homebody than a traveler.  That being said, here’s a couple of pictures from Octoberfest in Newberry, SC.  See, you just need to have beer (or chocolate) to get me there.

Newberry Octoberfest

The celebration took up several blocks of downtown Newberry with plenty of food to choose from, a gaggle of shopping stalls, and two beer gardens.  My favorite part of the visit (besides the beer) was a tour of the Newberry Opara House.

Newberry Courthouse

I was lying on the grass when I took this (Resting, I only had 2 beers at the time)

Newberry was founded by Germans and they built the Opera House in 1881.  It had many purposes since that time, serving as the city center for much of the period.  It is now an Opera House and still has a busy show schedule.  It is cozy — only seats around 400 people.  I’m thinking of going back for a show sometime.

For anyone who remembers this is actually a writing blog, I’ve been pretty busy on the writing front too, and I promise to post an update soon.

 

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Filed under Pictures, Travel