Category Archives: Books

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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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Reading, Writing

Anniversaries, Writing, and Fat-boy Pants

Yesterday was my 30th wedding anniversary.  As I tell my wife, it’s been thirty looong glorious years.  It was also her birthday (I’m not saying how many, because I want to live to see another day), and my parent’s wedding anniversary.  As if that wasn’t enough, I finished the latest revision of my book (Now called Quarrel) and am preparing to send it to my editor.

We are up in the North Carolina Mountains with some friends, at our favorite getaway spot.

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I love visiting the mountains.  It is so peaceful and rejuvenating, especially after the past week.

What are Fat-boy Pants?

I mentioned about a week ago that I popped the button on my shorts while preparing to attend Supercon in Raleigh.  To add insult to injury, the next day I was trying on my dress pants in preparation for a trip to the corporate office.  A few pair were a bit snug in the waist.

I told my wife that the elves must have snuck in at night and adjusted all my pants.  In my defense, I’ve had some of those pairs of pants as long as I’ve been married (style, what’s that? You mean it actually changes?), but it still stung.  Of course, my wife’s solution was to say, “Just pull out your fat-boy pants.”

I have one pair of pants that is a size bigger than the rest.  We call them my fat-boy pants because I only break them out when the others are feeling a bit snug.  Another reason that I call them my fat-boy pants is that breaking them out gives me the incentive to say no to the sweets.

Unfortunately, I had cleaned out my closest last year and got rid of the fat-boy pants.  I think my words at the time were, “I never wear these things.  I don’t need them anymore.”  Ahhh, somebody’s laughing at me right about now.  Oh yeah, it’s my wife.

Laughter is the key to a long marriage.

When I asked my wife why she’s stayed married to me for so long, she said, “Because you make me laugh.”

I guess popping buttons and giving away my fat-boy pants are just another day filled with laughter for her.  Of course, one of her primary missions in life it to make sure I stay with her to the end, so she only laughed for a moment and then told me that we’re going to start walking farther on our daily walk, and that I needed to get back to the gym.

Right after that, I got on a plane to the corporate office.  And wouldn’t you know it, my first morning there they had the most awesome looking donuts I had ever seen.  Yes, I resisted them, and the cookies for lunch every day, and the Panera Bread chocolate brownie.  Man, getting old sucks.  I used to be able to eat all that stuff and still thumb my nose at those fat-boy pants.

Luckily, all the rules are off when we’re on vacation (Not to mention for our anniversary).  Since we’ve been in the mountains, I’ve had a couple of donuts, ice cream, and some candy.  I know I’ll pay later, but what the heck, you only celebrate your 30th once, right?

And don’t forget the Writing.

I’m also celebrating the last revision on Quarrel.  I finished it up yesterday morning.  I say last revision, but, it’s not over until I get the comments back from the editor.  Still, getting the thing to the editor always seems like the biggest hurdle in the process.  Be looking for Quarrel around Christmas time.

One last thing for yesterday.  My free book giveaway for the Order of the Wolf ended, but you can still get Stenson Blues and The Eastern Factor at a discount until August 9th.

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Filed under Books, Editing, Humor, musings, Philosophy, Writing

Giveaway

Hello all my favorite internet people (Yeah, I’m looking at you.  Don’t look so shocked.).

Head on over to Amazon and get The Order of the Wolf free from today until August 6th.

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You can also get Stenson Blues, book 2 in my Kingdom of Haven series for .99 cents until August 9th.

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And don’t forget to pick up book 3, The Eastern Factor, for $1.99 before August 9th as well.

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This is just for you! (And anyone else who stumbles upon my sale over the next week)  Hey, I believe in equal opportunity (to buy my books).

Happy reading!

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Free, Reading

Supercon and a Free Book

I enjoyed my visit to Supercon over the weekend.  It was really more a scouting trip than anything.  I have been looking at local writing events and conventions to try to plan out a strategy for book selling.  While there weren’t many authors at Supercon, there were a few and I had a chance to talk to several indie authors that were selling their wares.  It appears that Supercon is growing, and I anticipate more books and authors in the coming years.  Of course, that may be bad news for me if I go back again next year, because I came home with an empty wallet and a bag full of books from new-to-me authors to read.

If you want to read some books that don’t empty your wallet, check out my Kingdom of Haven series on sale on Amazon starting this Thursday, August 2nd.

Kingdom of Haven

The Order of the Wolf will be free from August 2nd to August 6th,

Stenson Blues is on sale for .99 cents from August 2nd to August 9th.

The Eastern Factor will be on sale for $1.99 from August 2nd to August 9th.

Give them a shot – why not.  You’ve got nothing to lose, and the first one is free.

And don’t forget to feed your favorite author (even if it’s not me) with a book review.  Book reviews aren’t quite as good as a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but they are the next best thing.  My pants will thank you for the calorie free treat.

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Free, Reading

Hey, I’m Revising Here!

I always feel bad when I’ve let too much time pass between blog posts.  Trust me, I have plenty of excuses.  Unfortunately, I was raised on a diet of “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” and “I don’t want to hear your excuses.”  So even on a blog, where you can’t see my face, I just can’t bring myself to make up lies give excuses.

What have I been doing besides blogging, you ask?

  • Working — Yep, I still have a day job and it takes up at least 40 hours a week.  I’m currently leading a department reorganization, so it’s been busy (Of course, busy is a multifunctional word that can mean doing anything besides what you’re supposed to be doing).
  • Reading —  I read in spurts.  In the last week or so I finished reading The Warded Man by Peter Brett.  This is a great fantasy novel–best one I’ve read this year.  It is one of those books I wish I had written.  I also read The Great Santini by Pat Conroy.  If you grew up a military brat like me, this book will probably bring back some memories.
  • Watching — I’m watching Babylon Berlin on Netflix.  The show is set in post WW I Germany and features the different factions from the Russian revolution fighting it out in the back alleys of Berlin. (I must admit I got lost on YouTube a few times as well, but I’m trying to pretend like that didn’t happen.)
  • Writing — Besides my standard critique group meetings (two in recent weeks), I’m working on the final revision of my latest novel.  I would tell you the title if I had one, so instead, I’ll give you a little snippet:

The sword hung on the rough-hewn wall. It was a rare blade, a hand-and-a-half sword sheathed in black leather. The sword had been famous once—some stories said the blade was cursed, while others insisted its power saved the Norwood. Many seasons had passed since the last curious neighbor had stopped by for a look. Now it collected dust instead of eager eyes.

Edmond was the exception. The sword fascinated Edmond. He longed to pull it down from the wall and expose the blade, but his father had decreed the weapon remain untouched.  

I will be doing some fast and furious revision in the next few weeks to get this thing ready for the editor next month.  I’ll be announcing the title in the near future, and hopefully, reveal the book cover by the end of August.

So now when someone asks me what I’ve been doing, I have a good answer:

Hey, I’m revising here!

Oh yeah, I also spent some time sitting on the back porch and staring at my yard (What can I say? I’m easily entertained).  Here’s my favorite hibiscus bush:

Hibiscus

 

 

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Back in Weldon

I had a nice visit back in my old haunts.  Haunts seems the right word, because the old plant looks a bit like a ghost town.

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For those who don’t know, I work in the energy sector.  I spent many years working at a power plant in Weldon, NC.  The plant is now shutdown and is currently being taken apart:

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They were just supposed to exterminate the cockroaches!

 

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Finally found a way to get rid of the pigeons!

 

Change is inevitable, but it still feels a bit like my family home is being torn down.

On the bright side, I spent some time at the Riverside Mill hawking my books.

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Book signing are always interesting to me.  It’s interesting to watch the people try their best not to make eye contact.  Actually, I had quite a few people stop and talk to me, but unfortunately it was to direct them to the bathroom.  I did sell a few books, but I think I found my true calling.  My new title is Director of Bathroom Patrons.  Sounds kind of prestigious—right?

If you didn’t get a chance to be directed by me at the Riverside Mill, you can still find my books on Amazon.  (Sorry, I’m not sure where the Amazon bathroom is, but you can maybe try Home & Garden.)

Kingdom of Haven

 

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Where are your Writing Roots?

Charlotte is my home.  I love it here and don’t want to live anywhere else, but I still feel out of sorts on the Charlotte writing scene.  It’s not the other writers I meet here, it’s me.  My writing roots lie in a small town to the east.

I started writing in 1993, the same year I moved to Roanoke Rapids.  I worked, raised my children, and learned to write there (I would say “grew old there” but I’m barely past the half-century mark).

My son was born in Roanoke Rapids in 93, as was my first novel.  Now, he’s out of college and working, and that first novel is collecting dust in a drawer.  I like to think that this means I had my priorities straight, but it probably means that I had a lot to learn about writing. (And let’s face it—you’re never ready for parenting.  You just do the best you can and there are no re-writes.)

I joined my first critique group in that little town around 1995.  I still thought my first novel was ready for a Pulitzer Prize and was working on my second novel (Which is also sitting in a drawer).  That first critique group helped me to realize how much I didn’t know about writing.

I left town for a couple of years around 1998, and when I came back the group was disbanded.  I call this my online period, where I joined several online critique groups like Hatrack River, Zoetrope, Critique Circle, Liberty Hall, and Notebored.  I met several fellow writers in these forums from all over the world.

I’m a face-to-face person at heart though and decided to start the Roanoke Valley Writers Group back up.  I’m guessing that was somewhere around 2002.  I published my first book (The Order of the Wolf) when I was a member of this group in 2012.  They were a great bunch and are still going strong.  I’ll admit, leaving this group was the hardest part about moving to Charlotte.

Another first for me was doing my first book signing.  This happened at the Riverside Mill in Weldon.  It is a huge antique mall and consignment shop (there are no books stores in the area).  The staff of the Riverside Mill was very supportive when my first book came out.  I had a book signing there, and they still carry my books for sale to this day.

I will always be grateful to the folks at the Riverside Mill for their support.  That’s why you’ll find me there this Friday afternoon and Saturday signing books (hopefully) as part of their Endless Yard Sale.

Stop by and see me, buy a book, or just shop till you drop.  There’ll be plenty of other merchandise to choose from.  Of course, none as good as my latest novel.

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Of course, you can always find my books on Amazon if you don’t want to come out and shop.

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Filed under Author Appearance, Books, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Process