Tag Archives: Writing

Pre-Order Death-Bringer

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My new novel is now up for Pre-Order on Amazon and here’s the cover.  The release date is January 29, 2019.  This gives me some time to solicit reviews before launch.  Here’s a blurb to wet your whistle:

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 Death-Bringer?  

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World Fantasy Convention

I went to the World Fantasy Convention in Baltimore at the beginning of the month.  Overall, I’d have to say that I was underwhelmed.

This convention is only for fantasy literature.  There were no people in costume, games, or movie stars.  I don’t typically get into that stuff, so I thought this would work well for me, but there actually wasn’t much programming compared to other conventions I’ve attended.  This is one of those conventions where you’re supposed to mingle and meet industry insiders (Yeah, that’s where I excel).

I used the term fantasy literature intentionally because this convention reminded me of some of the writing conventions I’ve attended where people look down their noses at genre fiction writers.  Of course, this was a genre fiction writing convention, so I had a hard time figuring out what we were looking down our noses at until I realized we were looking down our noses at the history of our genre.

This really didn’t hit me until I sat in on “The Future of Fantasy” panel.  This panel consisted of all women who basically stated that you should only read fantasy stories from women, persons of color, and other “underrepresented” groups.  When a lady from the back of the audience spoke up and said she only cared if it is a quality story, she was quickly shut down. Apparently, the genre has been dominated by white men for too long.

I’m not disagreeing with the concept, but I’m a middle of the road kind of guy. Instead of swinging the pendulum all the way in the opposite direction, why not include everyone in the future of our genre?  Fantasy is pretty main-stream in our culture compared to a couple of decades ago.  I’m thinking there’s enough room for everyone who wants to write a quality story.

This did not seem to be the prevailing opinion.  I’m assuming I won’t be in the running for any World Fantasy Awards, but that’s okay.

On a happy note, I did get to meet a writer friend who I’ve worked with over the internet in the past.  Also, I sat in on the best reading ever—If you ever get a chance to hear Andy Duncan read one of his stories aloud, you will thoroughly enjoy it.  Also, the art show was pretty cool.

All-in-all, I’m glad I went for the experience, but I won’t spend the money on this one again anytime soon.

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Filed under Conventions, Fandom, Fantasy

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.

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Free, NaNoWriMo, Writing

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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Dragon Con was Sick

I finally figured out what the kids are talking about.  I got sick while at Dragon Con (that’s what it means–right?).  I guess it was inevitable with all those people that someone was infected.  I mean, we were packed in so tightly in some places that I’m sure the guy next to me knew when my cell phone vibrated or could tell me how much change I had in my pocket (Twenty-three cents according to the guy dressed as Hellboy).

Saturday was the crazy crowded day.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever been in such a large crowd before.  I would have taken a picture, but that would have meant trying to get my cell phone out of my pocket without losing my place in the mob.  I did enjoy all the costumes though.

Dragoncon Cosplay

Notice there are no crowds in this picture.  My wife took it on the way back to our hotel which was about four blocks from the convention.  Walking the four blocks every day was a pain, but getting away from the crowds made it worth the walk.

I didn’t get to do much of the programming.  We were there for two days, and it took one day just to go through the vendors and art show.  Here’s the entrance to one of the vendor floors on Friday.

Dragoncon

Silly me, I thought it was crowded on Friday.  The vendor area took up four floors.  We spent about five hours going through this area and then took a break back at the hotel and went back in the evening to check out the artist room.

I hit some of the programmings on Saturday, and we went to the Dragon Con Night at the Aquarium on Saturday night.  All in all, I had a great time, even though the crowds were a bit overwhelming.  I’ll be honest, I had the best time back at the hotel swimming pool on Friday afternoon recharging my batteries.  No crowds there.  Everyone was at the convention.

Pool

I doubt I’ll go back to Dragon Con again unless I can sell books.  For me, there wasn’t enough writing programming to make me want to spend the money to come back.  Besides, for an introvert like me, it was sensory overload.  It would be so much easier to stay in one place and sell books (Wow, never thought I’d say that).

A couple of days was enough time to see all the vendors, check out the costumes, and come home with a cold.   What more could you ask for?

 

 

 

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Dragon Con is Huge

I’m down in Atlanta for the weekend to attend Dragon Con.  I’ve been to several smaller Cons over the years, but not one of this size.  My wife came along, and we went over to the Sheraton to get our badges this afternoon.  The line wasn’t too bad, but I got a good idea of how large this convention is by wandering around downtown Atlanta.  The convention takes up five hotels and the convention center.

Normally, I go through the convention schedule and pick out the panels I want to check out, but there are so many.  It’s a bit overwhelming.  I decided to throw out the planning and just wander around.  So, tomorrow I’ll be checking out the exhibitor halls and probably hang out mostly in the Hyatt where most of the writer/literature stuff is happening.

On the writing front: I received my novel back from the editor and am working on the last (?) revision.  I still don’t have a final title for this one (working title was Half-hand), but as soon as I do, I’ll announce it and hopefully have a cover reveal coming soon after.  It feels good to be getting close, but that only means the marketing effort will be ramping up soon.  I’m looking at a December release date.

 

 

 

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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

Check out my Stuff!

I will be running an Amazon promotion on the Kingdom of Haven series for the next 5 days.  The Order of the Wolf is free, Stenson Blues is $.99, and The Eastern Factor is $1.99.

I tend to write towards the dark and gritty.  If you’re not quite sure if they’re your cup of tea, check out my quick book descriptions:

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Having a mid-life crisis, shit happens, and people die.

 

 

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Coming of age, more shit happens, and more people die.

 

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Life’s a bitch, then you marry one, and then you die.

 

If you like gritty mercenaries, strong women, and dirty politics give them a read.

What was I thinking?  That sounds pretty light and cheery.

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Free, Marketing, Reading

It Takes a Village?

I’ve heard the expression: “It takes a village to raise a child.”  This isn’t entirely correct.  Children are raised every day by single parents or a set of parents with no external support.  Some of those children turn out fine, and some children who grow up with a huge support network have major issues.  While the adage isn’t totally correct in all instances, I believe it is a good concept.  Basically, we all need help at some point or another to succeed.

But when should we ask for help?

For me, the “It takes a Village” concept is hard to put into practice because it appears to be in direct opposition to another important concept: the Work Ethic.

Work Ethic:  a belief in work as a moral good: a set of values centered on the importance of doing work and reflected especially in a desire or determination to work hard.

While the definition of Work Ethic does not say “do it alone,” it does imply a person should work hard as a moral obligation.  The way many of us interpret the idea of Work Ethic is that if only I work harder, I can attain my goal.  I do believe this can be the case in many instances, but there are times when hard work alone will not get you there.  Sometimes you need help.  Unfortunately, a person with a strong work ethic equates asking for help as weakness.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

I’ve seen this expression thrown around by people who advocate for the “It takes a Village” concept.  It doesn’t quite ring true for me.  In order to ask for help, you must first recognize your weakness, acknowledge it, and then seek help to overcome it.  Because of this, I prefer the following quote:

Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.

I have a hard time asking for help, because of that Work Ethic thing (Yes, I will drive around the block as many times as it takes before I’ll ask for directions, but that’s a different issue).  I do normally recognize when I need help, but I get stuck in that “if I only work harder” line of thinking.

Writing is one of those areas where you can’t do it alone.  Of course, you can sit alone at your desk or in a coffee shop to write, but you cannot learn to write a great novel alone.  It takes the help of fellow writers either through critique partners or some similar means.

I’ve recently come to realize that I cannot promote my books alone either.  Yes, I can hire someone to run a blog tour, and give away free books, but that only goes so far.  In order to truly promote my writing, It Takes a Village.

So this is my request.  If I am to reach my goal and make writing a full-time adventure, I need your help.

Friends, neighbors, and (dare I hope) fans, if you haven’t yet purchased any of my books you can find them here.

Hey, I’m a bit on the frugal side. If you’re anything like me, you probably wait for the sale before you buy.  Well, it just so happens that I have a 5-day promotion on Amazon starting on April 15th.  The Order of the Wolf will be Free, Stenson Blues on sale for .99, and The Eastern Factor for 1.99.

 

Kingdom of Haven

If you are one of the few who has bought a book of mine or the not so few who have received a free copy, please leave me a review on Amazon or Goodreads. (or anywhere else where I can find it)  Reviews are worth more than gold in the writing world.

If you are looking to join a village, you can join my newsletter mailing list here.

Also, my next book, Half-hand will be published in time for Christmas and I am currently seeking Beta Readers.  You can sign up here.

Writing is my passion, if reading is yours, give my books a try.

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Everything has been Done Before

What is so bad about a cliché?

I see the comment sometimes in critiques — “This is a cliché.”  Some people say it so much that pointing out a cliché has become a cliché.  Is that like the pot calling the kettle black?

My first response is usually, “So what?”  I guess I don’t get why people get all in a tizzy about it, especially if it’s in dialogue.  People do still use clichés when they speak, don’t they?  Or is it just us older people who are stuck in our ways.

So what is a cliché?

A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought, a stereotype or electrotype.

It sounds bad, right?  Or is it?  I think originality can be overemphasized in some literary circles over telling a good story.  The best storytellers know and use every trick in the book.  Old or new expression, does it really matter as long as you tell a good story?  After all, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, right?

Maybe it’s because I live in the south.  We like our clichés down here, and they’re as numerous as fleas on a hound dog.  It’s part of the vernacular.  Telling a southerner to stop using clichés, is like trying to teach an old dog new tricks.   You might as well be talking to a fence post.

So my advice is don’t get your knickers in a twist over clichés.  Just go with the flow and enjoy the story.  The occasional cliché won’t hurt anything (unlike this post).

Oh well, it is what it is.

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