Words with Travis Ludvigson author of "Iron Song"

Can you tell us a little bit about “Iron Song?”

Iron Song tells the story of Soren, a Danish warrior who is lost at sea during his first battle and washes up on a strange shore. The trials of surviving alone in the wild turn him into a Berserker, one of Odin’s fierce warriors who feel no fear and crave battle.

After returning home years later, he becomes unstoppable on the field of battle and joins a campaign to raid the land of Frankia. Soren’s battle prowess gains him both great fame and a host of enemies along the way. Then during the siege of Paris he learns of evil creatures that roam the land, and he leaves behind all that he knows to do battle with this dark foe.

This is a Viking tale that presents a protagonist who is equal parts hero and villain. Warfare during that time was a close up, brutal affair, and Soren was a man filled with bloodlust who thrived in that world and reveled in the death of others.

Although "Iron Song" deals with the Danish Vikings, my ancestors came from a place near what is now modern day Oslo in Norway. So with the Viking blood that flows through my veins, I believe I was always meant to write this story. I really enjoyed spending time doing research and getting to know those warriors and the lives they led during the dark ages of this world.

The title of the book is taken from a line in "Beowulf" (one of my favorite classic hero tales) and refers to the sound that the sword makes when set to purpose against the enemy.

"Iron Song" is the second book in The Nephilim Chronicles, a three part supernatural series that tells the story of an ancient bloodline of warriors chosen to protect the world against the forces of darkness. The first book, “Yare’ Darkness Bound” is set in modern times, “Iron Song” in 885 AD, and the last book in the series will take place during the reign of the Emperor Constantine.

What's your background with writing?

I have been writing stories since I was a young boy. I have always loved the idea of bringing a story to life on paper. I wrote stories through middle and high school and then went on to take writing courses in college to increase my knowledge and skill.

I currently have multiple journals lying around that I use to keep my writing skills sharp. The pages are filled with quotations, free writing exercises, short stories and story ideas.

I wrote the first book to fulfill a personal life goal. But as soon as I started I realized that the story should become part of a series. I love writing and have more ideas than time at this point, so I see no time when I won’t be creating something new.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

I am a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell and tried to emulate him by creating battles that you can see and hear as if you were really there as you read the book.

I grew up reading JRR Tolkien and Terry Brooks and have absolutely loved the amazing worlds they each created.

With "Iron Song" in particular, I drew great inspiration from the pages of Beowulf.

What was it like working with Create Space?

I was very happy with the ease of using Create Space and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Both platforms were very user friendly and I would recommend them to others who choose to go the non-traditional route of publishing their work. I had full creative control as well as the ability to make updates and changes quickly and easily.

Who was responsible for the cover/book design?

I designed the covers for "Iron Song" and "Yare’ Darkness Bound."  As both an author and artist I really believe in the whole book being a part of my own vision and creativity.

What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity?

Much of my publicity has been done online, using my website, Facebook and You Tube. I have also reached out to some of the local book stores in the area as well as talking to people that I know and those that I meet to spread the word.

What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?

My website is: The Land of the Norseman.

My website has information about my books, concept artwork that I have created, reviews of my work and my biography.

I also have a Facebook page: A Drop Of Ink.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

I have put together the outline and am currently conducting research and building character profiles for the final book in the Nephilim Chronicles.

I am also playing around with the idea of a novella based on some of the local monster lore here in Wisconsin.

Is there anything else about you we should know?

I am a veteran of U.S. Air Force Intelligence and had the opportunity to live and work with people across the U.S. and in several countries around the world.

I recently had my first sales overseas (in the UK) and hope to see my books travel around the world as I once did.

Thanks Travis!  Folks, here are the links for Yare' Darkness Bound and Iron Song!

Review of "Tears of Heaven" by RA McCandless

Angels, Demons, Pistols, Chains and Action

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from “Tears of Heaven,” the artwork suggested “Blade Runner” but the early chapters take place in a slave market. However, it didn’t take long for RA McCandless to draw me in to an exciting tale of adventure and action.

The book alternates between two stories: that of a slave called “Water Lilly” and a demon bounty hunter named Del. Initially I preferred the Del chapters, but about a quarter of the way through the novel, the “Water Lilly” chapters start picking up steam.

There is a substantial religious element to “Tears of Heaven” but this is not the literary equivalent of Christian rock. The appropriate corollary that came to my mind was the 2006 Keanu Reeves flick “Constantine” (although even that’s heavier on the religious influence than “Tears of Heaven”).

RA McCandless is a new writer with a strong literary voice. He’s got a real knack for dialogue, especially in the scenes that show what a tough cookie Del is. A few of these scenes may go on a touch too long for the tastes of some readers, but I happen to like that kind of thing. It’s difficult to delete good material for the sake of pace, and personally I’m glad that McCandless (or his editor) didn’t. It’s also nice to see an editor give a writer a little bit of slack to weave his or her own particular style of narrative.

You can tell that this is a professionally published book (it was released with Wild Child Publishing) since it has the polish of a manuscript that has been worked over several times. It’s a clean work with no grammatical errors.

RA McCandless succeeds in taking some familiar story elements and placing them in a unique and vibrant world all his own. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what happens to these characters in the future.

To pick up "Tears of Heaven" click here!

Awesome! The "Beyond" Trilogy just Miraculously Appeared at My House!

Hey, this is excellent!  I went downstairs and found a big box awaiting me.  I expected it to be the advance copy of "The Reader of Acheron" but it was too big for one book.  Well, when I opened it up, guess what I found? That's right!  The entire "Beyond" trilogy!

I'd seen the cover art before, but having these books in hand is a whole different experience.  The cover art is awesome and the books look great.  This is sweet, it's like an early Christmas present!

Now it's just a matter of finding time to read them (both my kids are asleep at the moment, so I have 15 more minutes...which is why I have time to write this).  I'll get to these the second I'm done with (the excellent) Tears in Heaven by RA McCandless.  I do have a couple more books on my reading list, but I think when people send me beautiful hard copies of their novels they earn the right to jump the queue.  Actually, I've been promising Janet Morris reviews on these for some time, so I better get my reading goggles on!

To check out these books on Amazon, scroll down to the buttons below.  Again, thanks Perseid!

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Tolkien

Let me tell you what's wrong with the Hobbit.

First off, there's been a lot of knob-slobbering about the second film in Jackson's self-indulgent trilogy.  Critics are raving with statements like "it's not nearly as bad as the first one" and...well...other statements.  Honestly, if all the critics were calling the film terrible, I'd be the one piping up to sing the film's praises (it's what I do--that is--not think like the general media), but in this current example, it falls on me to be the naysayer.

The movie is a mess.

You'll sit there in the dark for 3 zillion hours and constantly say to yourself, "aw...this isn't so bad" or "gee-whiz, I'd really like to like this."  But in the end, you're going to find yourself comparing the film unfavorably to the 1977 animated version which, for all its flaws, has one major thing in its favor: IT IS TRUTHFUL TO THE BOOK!

 Notice what's better about that scene? Yeah...Bilbo is invisible, because if Bilbo WASN'T invisible the scene would be TOTALLY RIDICULOUS!

But you know what else is better about this scene?  The dialogue is more accurately lifted from the book.  In the Jackson version, most of that dialogue still gets in, but the effect is muted because Jackson took it upon himself to scrawl in a bunch of other crap that Smaug never said, and YES you notice when somebody other than Tolkien is penning the dialogue.

I was pretty taken by "The Fellowship of the Ring" but with every subsequent film I've been more and more disappointed.  Back when "Fellowship" was still in its promotional phase and we were all worried that Jackson was the wrong guy for the job, he said something in an interview that calmed me (and I'm going to paraphrase it out of respect for Jackson's belief that you should never quote an artist accurately).  He said that when they were doing the screenplay, they found themselves running into trouble only when they deviated from the printed text.  Jackson then went on to gush about how well-thought out the book is and how it needed to reproduced as accurately as possible.


Then the first movie was a big hit, then the second movie was a big hit, and by the third movie we've got scenes with guys sliding down the trunks of elephants.  Yeah...that scene isn't in Tolkien.

What happened was an attack of Hubris.

Jackson started out respecting Tolkien's work, but as this process spread out over decades he started to think of himself as the living embodiment of Tolkien in the modern age...like the words of Tolkien can come out of his mouth.

In one of the very first scenes of Hobbit 2: Electric Boogaloo you see Jackson as a drunken townsman in Bree.


Look, here are my thoughts.  Yeah, Jackson is a talented director, but too much of the first movie is just recreating effects we've already seen in LOTR (I mean, you can only have a guy fall on his back and have a ring fall on his finger so many times...Tolkien never even used that once).  Oh how I lament that Guillermo del Toro wasn't given the reigns as had been initially planned.  I believe this trilogy is in desperate need of the fresh blood of a different visionary director (and there are few in the business as visionary as del Toro, if we're lucky, somebody will give him a crack at the whole series someday...him or Terry Gilliam, imagine a Terry Gilliam LOTR!).

If you're going to make a film and call it "The Hobbit" then stick to the book.  It's a little bit disrespectful to dead authors to hijack their characters and substitute your story with "The ballad of the blond elf with the whirling knives."  Look, Mr. Jackson, if all you want to do is follow an elf around as he slaughters people, then adapt R.A. Salvatore's novels to film and keep your hands of Tolkien.  Tolkien's books star HOBBITS!

I've had my problems with the reviews of Roger Ebert in the past, but in his initial treatment of FOTR he said that the Hobbits had unfortunately been pushed to the background.  I didn't see it then, but I see it now.  It's odd how after watching 6 hours of this gargantuan Hobbit epic, it's hard to look back and think of an emotional scene involving Bilbo Baggins.  

What's really weird is that a lumbering 9 hour adaptation of a 200 page book goes at such a breakneck pace that there is still time to leave things out.  For example, the approach of the company to the home of Beorn the skin changer involves this delightful little deception where Gandalf makes all the dwarves approach two at a time, so he can get Beorn involved in a story without overwhelming him with the numbers of the group.  It's a clever little moment that tells us a lot about Gandalf's character.

Jackson deleted it in favor of having the company be...chased into Beorn's house, by Beorn in bear form.

Also rushed is the Spiders in Mirkwood scene.  I don't know, that could have been a half hour or so because it's a pretty seminal moment for old Bilbo now isn't it?  But Martin Freeman barely has a chance to say, "I shall call you sting" before the wood elves appear (except they're never having a feast as appeared in the book).  I guess Jackson was just more excited about filming his new character Tauriel who he just invented for the series so that Kili could have a love interest.

Yeah, it's a interracial/interspecies love triangle--how forward thinking Mr. Jackson, Tolkien was too wrapped up in his conservative life philosophy, glad you "fixed" that.  But Legolas is going to be pissed.

These days I've got kids, so I don't live and die so much by what films are being released.  I only got the chance to see this one due to a thousand year alignment of the stars.  Sure, I left the theater more or less satisfied, but I've been finding myself growing angrier at the film upon reflection.

The worst of it is that it's just a shame.  Massive budget, talented actors (although Richard Armitage does not look like Thorin Oakenshield, heck, he doesn't look like a dwarf at all), beautiful cinematography, and it's all ruined by pride.

The Hobbit is not a story that belongs to you Mr. Jackson.

If you want dwarves to go down water slides on rivers of gold then write your own epic.  If ideas like that aren't strong enough to stand on their own, then who are you to be injecting them into Tolkien's expertly crafted world?

How I Screwed Up the Artesans Re-Release

Well, this is embarrassing!  I try to help out my fellow writers in any way I can, so I was delighted when Cas Peace wrote to tell me she was doing a major re-launch for her terrific "Artesans of Albia" series.  I quickly put together a list of interview questions and shipped them off to her.

Now, like most of the rest of you, I'm beset by projects and my head is often in the clouds.  One of my meager attempts at organization is to use my gmail inbox as a "to do" list.  The first thing I have to do in the morning is delete all the BS that I seem to get sent on a daily basis.  After that, I put stars next to the emails that seem important (I don't usually open them and read them...I just put stars next to them so I can run around worried about what might be in those mysterious, nagging emails).

Anyway, Cas quickly replied with her interview answers, and in a very rare case of me being on top of things, I immediately opened the email and posted her wonderful interview.  The second I hit the "publish" button, that interview hit the WWW.  It was like scattering feathers to the wind, I couldn't bring them back if I wanted to (but I couldn't conceive of any reason why I would want to, so it was all OK).

Anyway, a few days later I get a message from Cas asking my why I'd published the interview already since the re-release wasn't suppose to take place until 8 days later.  D'oH!  I felt bad of course, but Cas said she'd forgive me as long as I followed up with a correct post on the 15th (which this is...I hope).  You never want to get on a writer's bad side.  What I really want to avoid is the existence of an incompetent general named Waller or something in an upcoming Artesans book who screws up a major military offensive by sending his troops in to battle 8 days early (writers are conniving, and this is the way they take vengeance for all eternity).

Cas has got a great giveaway going which you can check out here (they sent me a widget but it didn't work quite right for some reason, so I'm just providing a link).

You can check out Cas's web page here.

And I highly recommend you check out the previous interview I posted here.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series, here is a brief synopsis:

On a foolhardy foray into a foreign realm, Taran Elijah is attacked by a terrible weapon known as the Staff. Killing its wielder, he escapes into Albia, inadvertently carrying the Staff.

Concerned by the vicious raids that follow Taran's actions, Major Sullyan of the High King's forces crosses into Andaryon to seek diplomatic resolution to the crisis. She is captured and tortured by Lord Rykan, aspirant to the Andaryon throne.

Slowly dying, Sullyan escapes his clutches. She offers her skills to the Hierarch in defence of his throne, finally confronting Rykan on the field of battle.

Her handsome Captain and lover, Robin Tamsen, embarks on a desperate quest to recover the Staff. But Rykan's greedy General, Sonten, is two steps ahead of him. If Robin cannot lay hold of the weapon before Sonten does, Sullyan's life and the lives of all Artesans are forfeit.

The race for the Staff has begun.

And here is the video trailer for the series!

There!  I hope I've atoned for my previous incompetence and General Waller will never ride on his inglorious charge :) !

Good luck with the re-launch Cas!

Review: Wake of the Dragon by Jaq D Hawkins

Swashbuckling Airship Adventure

This is the kind of book you have always wished to read, but you didn’t know that it existed. It’s essentially the story of a dashing pirate captain in the midst of an opium raid, but the wrinkle that makes this story especially unique is that a significant amount of action takes place on floating airships. Imagine a World War II zeppelin with Captain Hook’s ship dangling beneath and you have a nice starting point for the type of mental state you’re going to engage throughout this work. There is a certain amount of romance and magic just in the image of a floating pirate ship. Who wouldn’t want to spend a little time in a world that can boast things like that?

This book is billed as “steampunk” and although that term is accurate, this is kind of an entry-level example of the genre in my opinion. I’ve read some steampunk with some pretty wild conceptualizations (to the point that they distract from the functionality of the novel as a whole) and that’s not the case here. I’m by no means a steampunk expert, and I liked the balance that this book struck. My guess is that it will be appealing to both steampunk fanatics and casual readers.

The plot centers around the heist and attempted recuperation of a shipment of opium. The pirates who steal the shipment are a colorful lot led by Captain Bonny—who is one of those “ruffian gentlemen” rogues. I enjoyed how the conflict of this novel centered around fairly mundane things. The pirates steal the opium and then attempt to unload it for a profit as their being pursued by a single agent who is wholly unprepared and ill-equipped for the undertaking.

I enjoyed the blend of a semi-mundane plot on the backdrop of a fantastical world. I thought that functioned to add realism to the book. I also enjoyed the mythology of the pirates who lead rather romantic lives (as pirates so often do) despite the often violent realities of their situation.

This novel is great for those of you who are fans of pirate literature (of which there is too little) and who are curious about what steampunk is. “The Wake of the Dragon” is a fine and effective introduction to the genre, and I think it will please more demanding steampunk readers as well.  

Words with Cas Peace Author of Artesans of Albia

This is a re-release of the "Artesans of Albia" series, can you discuss your experience with the original publication of these books?

First I'd like so say a HUGE thank you, Walter, for helping out with my relaunch, and for posing me such interesting questions. I had much fun answering them!

So - first answer:

The books originally came out with indie publisher Rhemalda Publishing. The first book was available in August 2011, and the next two books followed, each a year apart. I did already have a self-published non-fiction book out there, titled For The Love of Daisy, but my fantasy series was my first experience of a 'traditional' publisher. I have to say that I found it all very exciting. Rhemalda was a relatively new company, and I realized there might be some risk in this, but I was prepared to take it. My thinking was that they stood as much to win or lose as I did over my books, and that meant they would do all they could to make them successful. I learned such a lot from Rhemalda - about cover design, about layout, about using social media, and about marketing. It was a blow when they were forced to close, but I have to commend them for being very straight and honest with me, and for returning all my rights with no fuss and plenty of help. I now feel so much better equipped to handle my books as a self-published author.

Tell me about the new cover design.  Who is the artist?

The artist who designed the new covers for King's Champion and King's Artesan is Mikey Brooks. http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/ I met Mikey in 2011 at the "Rhemalda Publishing Got Stories?" conference in Utah. We hit it off and have been good friends ever since. I edited Mikey's two MG fantasy novels, The Dream Keeper (2012) and The Dreamstone (2013), and another novel not yet published. As well as being an author, and father to three young girls, Mikey is also an illustrator and designer, so when I was thinking of changing two of my covers, he was right there, eager to help. I love the new designs, and working with Mikey was a dream. He's already made a start on the cover for my fourth Artesans novel!

Why did you make the change?

The appeal of a book cover is such a personal thing. As an author, you want the cover to represent what's inside your book, but you also know that its main function is to attract readers. Your personal tastes should take second place to the business aspect of the design, and that's what happened with my second two covers. I always loved the cover of King's Envoy. It was entirely my vision, realized to perfection by digital artist Eve Ventrue. Yet Eve was not available for the next two covers, and I always felt that they didn't quite fit what I would have chosen. The third cover especially. Getting the chance to redesign them was the one thing that kept my spirits up during the closure of Rhemalda, and the uncertainty I felt over my writing career.

These are the first three books in a larger series.  Can you tell us about the rest of the series and when you expect those works to be published?

Oh, yes! The Artesans of Albia series is a triple-trilogy, and all nine books have already been written. I carried on with the series while trying to get the first book published, so by the time I snared a publisher, all nine books were complete. That's not to say they're ready for publication - they need editing - but I have a firm time frame for their publication.

The first trilogy, the eponymous Artesans of Albia, concerns the deadly weapon known as the Staff. The novels deal with its discovery, its power, its effect on those who come into contact with it, and its implications for Artesans and the entire world. Those three books, King's Envoy, King's Champion, and King's Artesan, are available right now.

The second trilogy, Circle of Conspiracy, deals with the creator of the Staff and the plans the weapon was created to achieve. I'm not going into any more detail than that, otherwise I'll give too much away! The first book in this set, The Challenge, is scheduled for publication in Spring 2014; the second, The Circle, in Fall 2014; and the third, Full Circle, in Spring 2015.

The final trilogy, Master of Malice, is the thrilling, heart-rending, catastrophic finale to the series. It has much more of a horror element than the other two (the clue is in the title!) and I cannot guarantee that all the characters my readers have come to love and relate to will make it to the end. *Mwwuuhahaha!*

The first in this set, The Scarecrow, is due out in Fall 2015; the second, The Vagrant, in Spring 2016; and the final novel, The Gateway, in Fall 2016.

So much to look forward to!

I understand that there are some performances available of the songs that appear in your books, can you tell us about that?

Before I was a writer, I was a singer. I learned to sing in childhood by listening to folk bands like Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention. Sandy Denny was my idol. I saved up and bought a Spanish guitar when I was 15, and took lessons at school. Soon, I was writing and singing my own songs, and performing some of them in my local church.

Music is a huge part of my life, and it percolated quite naturally into my writing. My characters inhabit a medieval-style world where singing and playing music was one of the major forms of entertainment. I could not help but incorporate it into their lives. 'The Wheel Will Turn', from King's Envoy, is an integral part of the book, but I didn't at first even dream of making it into an actual song. It was only when I was trying to find a USP for my series, something unique and interesting that would grab readers' attention, that I realized I already had the perfect vehicle. If I could put music to the 'song' in the book, I could record it and offer it to readers.

I am fortunate in that my brother is also a musician, and a much better guitar player than me! He and the guy he writes with have a small recording studio and they record their own stuff. So they gave me masses of help with producing 'The Wheel'. We decided to perform it live for the King's Envoy book launch I organized in my home town, and our local shopping mall agreed to let us erect a small stage and perform the song. The video of this performance is on my website: www.caspeace.com.  Once I had 'The Wheel' under my belt, and saw how well it was received, I knew I had to continue with writing songs for all my books. 'The Wheel' is essentially a love song, a song of hope. King's Champion has a sea shanty called 'The Ballad of Tallimore', and the song for King's Artesan is called 'Morgan's Song (All That We Are)'. This song will appear at various times throughout the series, but all the books will have unique music. We are currently working on an instrumental called 'Larksong' for Book 4, The Challenge. It will have vocals, just not actual words. It's great fun and I love being able to use my other talents to help readers connect with my books.

Major Sullyan is the strong female protagonist of these novels, and she is forced to endure some pretty horrific situations.  What was your motivation for dealing with the themes and scenarios which you have chosen?

I'm glad you asked this question. Every story must contain conflict, and when I decided I wanted to create a powerful, beautiful, but still entirely credible female fantasy lead, I knew I was going to have to pull out all the stops where conflict was concerned. Sullyan lives in a male-dominated culture, and her chosen profession - Albia's military - is even more so. She has to be able to hold her own among these hard-bitten types, and even be able to lead them, without being either a harridan, an archetypal Amazonian woman, or someone who holds her position through unnatural means (i.e., her own powers). This meant she had to endure life experiences that such men would respect, as respect is earned and won; it cannot be forced. Also, because of what comes later in the series, I needed her to have a powerful motivation for what she does. She becomes a champion of those weaker than herself, and such sentiments are often much deeper and stronger in those who have suffered trauma. I also needed a reason for her to 'lose it' sometimes. She had to be flawed, otherwise she would not be credible.

I know from your review that you felt skeptical about one aspect of her life experiences - I am hoping that as you read further, you will come to understand why that aspect exists (Editor interruption--here's the review that Cas is referring to).

The dual world situation that you have created in Artesans brought to mind Raymond E Feist's "Riftwar Saga" for me.  Is he among your influences?  If not, who is?

Actually, he is not. I have only read one Feist novel (to my shame), so he was not among the authors who have influenced my writing. When I was growing up, my love for fantasy was kindled by C S Lewis (Narnia), Anne McCaffrey (Pern), and Elizabeth Goudge (The Little White Horse). Then, of course, came J R R Tolkien (LOTR). I guess it was C S Lewis who planted the notion of other worlds being available to the chosen few, and when I discovered Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, that notion was strengthened. However, I didn't consciously decide to build a world with 5 different realms - they kind of built themselves as the story evolved. I'd love to tell you that I meticulously planned all nine novels, and that everything was clear and in place before I started writing, but that would be untrue. Me - plan a novel? I wouldn't know where to start ... ! :-)

Overall, how have these books been received?

Actually, I have been thrilled and humbled by how well my series has been received. For someone who never set out to write novels at all, it's nothing short of miraculous. But you know, writing this series was an incredibly intense and strange experience, and because of the way it came about, I always felt there was some 'reason' why it had to exist. This was what kept me going through all the years of submission and rejection - harder to bear, I found, because of the constant encouragement from the agents and publishers who rejected me. "It's very good," they often told me. "Your writing shines," one said. "Don't give up," several wrote back, "you will eventually find a home for this." Wonderful comments, and hugely uplifting, but also screamingly frustrating when none of them would accept me! None, that is, until Rhemalda Publishing. :-)

What other writing projects do you have besides "Artesans of Albia?"

At the moment, relaunching the first trilogy, and prepping Book 4, The Challenge, is taking all my time. I'm also a freelance editor and proofreader, so I don't get much free time. I seem to need an empty and bored brain for ideas to present themselves, and I'm still undergoing 4 years of pretty intense stuff over 'Artesans'. I do, however, have one project, although it's connected.
Once two of my books were published, I realized I'd missed a trick with Sullyan. I ought to have started earlier in her life. My books are aimed primarily at adults, although there is nothing in the first 6 that younger people couldn't read. My characters rarely use strong language (Sullyan's soldier curses are seldom written down!) and I have had readers as young as 12 thoroughly enjoy the books. But I can't market them as MG or YA because of the characters' ages. Yet YA is one of the fastest growing age-groups, and it's also one where readers freely share, by word-of-mouth, FB, Twitter, etc, the books they love. And that's what I want to tap into. So my project is a prequel to the Artesans series, dealing with Sullyan's early life and how she developed her awesome powers. Its working title is Maiden of Mystery, and all I can say is - watch this space!  

Where should we go to learn more about you?

My website is a great place to start; you can find all the sales links to my books, and you can also download - FREE - the songs from each book. I'm also on Facebook and Twitter, and I have a blog, Peacewrites. Here are all the links:

Many thanks once again for hosting me, Walter - you are a star!

Janet Morris to Re-Release "Beyond Trilogy" with 50K Additional Words!

I just received word that within 24 hours, Janet Morris will re-release her entire "Beyond" trilogy with 50k words of additional scenes and insights over the three books.  I assume that the delay is just waiting for Amazon to go live with these books (I'll post the official link here as soon as it becomes available).

This is the most books ever released at one time for Perseid Press, so this is kind of a landmark day.

I've been informed that review copies are available, if interested I suggest you look for contact information at the aforementioned publisher page, or seek out Janet Morris on the Heroic Fantasy Facebook page.  Actually, if you're interested, just send me an email at walterrhein at gmail dot com and I'll pass on the news.

"Beyond the Veil" and "Beyond Wizardwall" have never been available as e-books, so this is pretty cool.  This re-release with the additional material is designed, in part, to combat the various pirate sites that have been offering these books for years.  So, to borrow from one of the great fantasy writers, "those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors will purchase it and no other."

Here are the links (click on the book covers):

Cover Reveal "Tears in Heaven" by R.A. McCandless

Cover Reveal Tears of Heaven Urban Fantasy From R.A. McCandless

In the past, the children of angels and humans, the Nephilim, were allowed to lead their lives as they willed.  But they proved too strong, too ambitious, and too cunning for their own good.  They became warlords, conquerors and emperors.  They caused war and strife until the Throne stepped in and forced them to submit to Its will, or die.

Unlike most of her fellows, Del, one of the first Nephilim, had no interest in conquest and domination.  In the ancient past, prior to the Throne’s interdiction, she met and fell in love with Dami, a Mediterranean ship captain and trader.  Together, they face down pirates and storms and try to create a future together.

In the present, Del unwillingly works for the Throne, obeying the commands of the angel Ahadiel.  She helps to keep the world safe from the horrors of escaped demons.  At the same time, she keeps herself in the Throne’s good graces.  Whenever a rogue demon breaks free from Hell, she and her partner, Marrin, another Nephilim, work together to banish it.

Thrilling danger, fast-paced adventure, high-seas action, and heart-warming romance fill this novel, with a page-turning story that won’t let you put it down.
December 2013

Introducing the Heroic Fantasy Writers Calendar

Hey Folks,

I had one of those sleepless nights last night, so I ended up tinkering away at this blog.  One of the things that I came up with was the idea of a  Heroic Fantasy Calendar.  If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can see the Calendar itself.  You'll note it doesn't have much on it yet, so I guess we'll see if it starts getting used.

I thought it would be nice to post upcoming dates for such things as:

  • Book releases
  • Cover reveals
  • Scheduled interviews
  • Deadlines for books/stories/articles
This calendar will be useful for both readers (who just want to know what stuff is coming up), and the writers (who are involved in projects and need reminders).

I sent out a bunch of invites to this calendar last night, in case you were wondering what that new stuff cluttering your inbox was.

The thing that prompted this calendar was Shane Porteous's announcement yesterday of another anthology.  It might be nice to put a date on the calendar to remind us to revisit this anthology in three months or so (I believe you can set up an alert where the calendar sends you an email reminder...which is awesome).

Anyway, like always we're just starting out with this "collective mind" concept.  This is just another tool to be utilized.  I like the fact that it lays out information in a different format than just keeping track of emails in your inbox.  It's nice to just scan an image and see who has a book getting published and when.

Just don't use it to post when you're going to the dentist or whatever...use your personal google calendar for that :) !

A Very Early Anthology Notice

Hello one and all.

In light of the fact that the Heroic Fantasy Group is currently working hard on producing our first anthology together we potentially have a great idea for a second anthology, a kind of companion piece to the first.

While the first anthology deals with the theme of what it means to be heroic ( I personally cannot wait to read it.) The second anthology hopes to explore an equally important theme, that strangely hasn't seemed to have been tackled by any anthology I've read.

I'm talking of course about the journey. Now we all know that the destination is the ultimate goal but it is the journey where the various characters truly discover themselves. It is the journey where the naive boy/girl gains the experience and training necessary to become a king/queen. It is the journey where the heartless warrior earns a heart e.t.c.

Unsurprisingly the members of this group love fantasy and this new anthology will be a great chance to do something other anthologies haven't.  There is a lot of versatility in writing for this anthology, whether it be an emotional journey inward or a physical journey outward.

Perhaps you have a character that you love, but for whatever reason weren't able to explore their journey in your main story. For those of you with detailed maps of your created worlds I am quite certain that there is a legendary island or lost land that you would love to have the chance to explore but couldn't because it didn't fit in with your main story. This anthology would be the perfect place for you to take such journeys with your characters.

While I do consider this second anthology to be a companion piece to the first, it doesn't have to be directly tied with what you have written for the first anthology. You also do not have to have been apart of the first anthology to be apart of this second one.

Much like the first anthology the second will deal with a theme (the journey) but it will be completely up to you the way you see that journey taking place as well as how your character takes that journey.

Please keep in mind that I am aware that many of you have a number of projects that you are working on ( I have four myself at this very moment). The priority of this group at the moment is to get the first anthology edited and published. So it will probably be a good 6 months before this second anthology can get moving.

Given the uniqueness of this anthology I thought it would be best to mention it now and give you all ample time to have a really good think about it. Provided of course enough of us are interested in this second anthology, an official announcement will be posted sometime down the line.

For now allow this idea to stew in the back of your mind while you get some of your other projects finished. Speaking of which I better get back to it!

Look forward to working with you on this anthology when it becomes official.      

About Heroic Fantasy Writers

HeroicFantasyWriters.com was conceived in a discussion on the Heroic Fantasy Facebook Group.  The group has been experiencing tremendous growth lately, and one of our members thought it might be nice to have a tie-in web page to go along with the group.  So, after about 15 hours of wrestling with blogger's idiotic template designer...this page now exists.

HeroicFantasyWriters.com will allow members the opportunity to post items here that are more suited to the internet than to a Facebook group.  This page is also linked to the Facebook Group so anything posted here will immediately be exposed to the 1,700+ members of Heroic Fantasy, as well as to the Facebook pages of our contributors.

This page will discuss and promote fantasy authors in the following ways:

  • Featured Cover Background image:  The background of this page will change monthly to highlight a different novel.  The featured novel will also appear in a thumbnail in the upper left corner of the main page.
  • Reviews: We are developing a list of reviewers for this page.
  • Interviews: Our contributors will post interviews on this page.
  • Cover Reveals/Book Giveaways/Etc.:  Essentially we're willing to do anything to promote somebody's book.

This whole concept is still in the planning phase and we are currently looking for contributors (note: we're OK with posting reprints here).  This is not a full-time proposition, nor is it limited to Fantasy writers.  However, working knowledge of typical blog interfaces is preferred.  If you want an invite to contribute to this page, please send an email to: walterrhein at gmail dot com.

Review: A Song of Betrayal by Jesse Duckworth

As many of you know, I occasionally do book reviews and throw them up on this blog just for fun.  The book writing business is a pain in the ass, so I like to help young authors out from time to time.  I generally read fantasy...but I'll pretty much read anything anyone sends me (in this day and age, you can read until the end of time for free if you're willing to write a review).

I met Jesse Duckworth on my Heroic Fantasy page on Facebook.  His book "A Song of Betrayal" is a quick little fantasy romp.  I enjoyed it more than quite a few other books I've read, but there are things in it that will also annoy the occasional reader.  I always try to write my reviews to help people who would enjoy the book find it, and also alert those who wouldn't to stay away.  That being said, here's the review (you can find the book on Amazon here):

“A Song of Betrayal” is a work of classic fantasy by a new writer who shows a lot of promise. The short, quick sentence structure reminded me of R.A. Salvatore on several occasions. The other book that comes to mind is Hemmingway’s In Our Time. This is because Duckworth likes to break up the action at the start of chapters by offering small vignettes (usually in all italics) that mostly give background information to the mythology of the world of Harren.

For the most part I was engaged and pleased with “A Song of Betrayal.” You can tell that Harren is a well-developed fantasy universe and the characters are often acting in response to a backstory the reader is unaware of. Sometimes this works to perfection as it leaves the reader curious for more information about the world. Occasionally, however, this story telling tactic does create some confusion.

One of the strengths of the book is how quickly it moves. I read the whole novel in just a couple hours. It felt a little bit under 50,000 words, which puts it on the short side, but I think that is an advantage for a book like this. However, there were some places where I might have urged the writer to slow down slightly. A bit more description here and there would have helped to flesh out some of the critical scenes and served to draw in the reader a bit more. Still, I believe it is better to error on the side of too little (leave them wanting more), and there is not a scene in this book where you cannot sense Duckworth’s enthusiasm for the telling.

I’m not sure that “Song of Betrayal” is a landmark work of fantasy, but it is a strong novel from a talented author who has a future writing fantasy.

For those of you who haven't already, make sure you do me a favor a pick up my books Beyond Birkie Fever and The Bone Sword over at the Rhemalda Bookshop!  If you happen to write a review somewhere, please let me know!  Also, add Birkie and Bone Sword to your cart on Amazon.com!

Words with Toby Neighbors, Author of "Fierce Loyalty"

1. Can you tell us a little bit about "Fierce Loyalty?"

Fierce Loyalty is an Epic Fantasy novel. It’s the 5th novel in my Five Kingdoms series and I’m really excited about the turn of events in this book. Basically, the Five Kingdoms books tells the story of Zollin, a young man who discovers he is a wizard. In the world of the Five Kingdoms, magic is strictly controlled by a group of wizards known as the Torr. When Zollin refuses to join the Torr, it sets in motion a grand adventure and in Fierce Loyalty Zollin finally confronts the evil master of the Torr. The book ends with a great twist.

2. What's your background with writing?

I started writing seriously in college but it took a long time to truly find my voice. I wasted a lot of time trying to write books that were “commercial” but I was never really enthused about the stories and couldn’t finish. When I finally decided to write something I would want to read, everything changed for me. I wrote four novels and after learning the ins and outs of the publishing world, I decided to self publish with KDP. The first three books didn’t sell all that well but when I released Wizard Rising, the first of the Five Kingdoms books, I found an audience. In 2010 I left my full time job and started writing freelance full time. Wizard Rising was published in December 2011 and I became a full time novelist in April of 2012.

3. Who are your inspirations/influences? 

I grew up reading adventure stories and Greek mythology. I read nearly all of Edgar Rice Burrows’ Tarzan novels. I read the Conan novels by Robert Jordan, Steve Perry, and others. I also loved Stephen Lawhead”s early works, especially the Albion trilogy and his Pendragon Cycle books.

4. Who was responsible for the cover/book design?

The thing I really like about self publishing is that I retain control of my novels, from content to cover design. My wife is a professional photographer and graphic designer so we work on the covers together. I usually give her an idea of what I want and she works her technical magic. I really think a large portion of my success comes from her talent in designing the book covers.

5. What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity?

I started out doing a lot. I was posting on chat boards and looking for places to promote my books online. I’ve read a lot about what works and what doesn’t in terms of book marketing. Now I rely mainly on my website and Facebook page. I try to stay available to interact with readers through my Facebook page. I post what I’m doing a few times a week. On my website readers can sign up for my mailing list and I send out an email whenever I release a new book.

6. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?

I don’t blog, but I do a lot of posts on my Facebook page and I also started a Facebook group called “Fantasy Novels You Have To Read,” and there are several writers there that interact with readers. It’s a very open group and we support each other as much as possible.

7. What projects do you have planned for the future?

I’m working on the second book in my Lorik trilogy now and I’m hoping to publish it in June. The Lorik trilogy is set in the Five Kingdoms and has a few links to the other series, but it can be read all on its own. It’s a little darker, a little more mature than the Five Kingdoms books. Once I finish that I’ll be working on the next two Five Kingdoms novels, which I hope to publish in September and November. I may sneak a short story in there somewhere too. I have a lot of readers concerned about a dragon and I have an idea for a short story or novella about that.

8. Is there anything else about you we should know?


About the Interviewer:Walter Rhein is the author of Beyond Birkie Fever and The Bone Sword which are both available over at the Rhemalda Bookshop or here and here at Amazon. If you happen to pick up either of these books and write a review somewhere, please let him know at walterrhein@gmail.com!

Words with C.N. Faust, author of "The Heretic Priest"

Can you tell us a little bit about "The Heretic Priest”?

The Heretic Priest is the sequel to my first novel The Dragon’s Disciples. They are part of an epic fantasy series entitled “The Age of Waking Death,” where the snowy, mountainous country of Dragoloth is embroiled in holy civil war. The Heretic Priest explores the characters of Felix d’Artion and Meridith Turtem from the previous novel, building up the groundwork for some epic action in the third book. I wanted to explore Felix’s lineage, particularly, because not only is it important to the story but I feel like it really rounds him out as a character.

What's your background with writing?

I have been writing ever since I can remember. When I was little I would write fairy tales and romances … I didn’t even get into the darker stuff until I was thirteen. When I was fifteen I finished my first full-length novel, and not long after that the Mahtradors came into my life. It has snowballed ever since.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

My greatest inspirations are R.A. Salvatore, Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton, Neil Gaiman, Richard Lee Byers, Gerald Morris, and Victor Hugo. I could name many, many more but those were the big guys of my childhood.

What was it like working with Amazon and Barnes & Noble publishing?

I enjoy the freedom, and the sense that every sale is one I have earned.

Who was responsible for the cover/book design?

I designed the cover for “The Heretic Priest” myself. The original artwork for “The Dragon’s Disciples” was done by a very excellent friend for me.

What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity?

Everything I can think to do! I have my own Facebook page, I set up a Twitter, I blog regularly on my website, and I am planning a series of podcasts for connecting with other indie writers. I am planning a virtual book tour for late July. I have made bookmarks, posters, I have contacted bookstores, I have done interviews, and I am promoting myself through Goodreads by the wonderful reviews that my awesome readers have given me.

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?

There are a bunch of short stories that are free to read on my website, but as of this moment I haven’t done any book signings or radio interviews.

What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?

My website / blog is C.N. Faust: The Official Blog of a writer. There you can find a plethora of content to explore; including my blog, character portraits, short stories, character biographies, and links to where my books can be bought on Amazon and Barnes&Noble. I also do book reviews in the fantasy genre by request.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

The Age of Waking Death series is (so far, in my mind) an 8 – 9 book series with the potential to expand even further. The next book is book #3, The Hollow Living. There will also be a brother series (the first book for which is already written and going through the editing process) called the Dawning Era series that is pre-Dragon’s Disciples history, with at least 7 books based in the histories of Dragoloth’s most powerful families.

Is there anything else about you we should know?

I want to start my own publishing company one day, but in the meantime I am sticking to being overly emotionally attached to my characters and coddling them like they are children. If you ever see me, be sure to wave hello and feel free to ask how Pharun is doing. He loves the fact that people know his name now.

About the Interviewer:
Walter Rhein is the author of Beyond Birkie Fever and The Bone Sword which are both available over at the Rhemalda Bookshop or here and here at Amazon. If you happen to pick up either of these books and write a review somewhere, please let him know at walterrhein@gmail.com!

An Interview with Charles E. Yallowitz author of "Beginning of a Hero"

Can you tell us a little bit about Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero

This is the first book of a 15 book action fantasy series. It takes place in the world of Windemere and follows the adventures of a young warrior named Luke Callindor. He comes from a family of legendary heroes and has grown up hating the fame that he gets from his last name. So, he has run away from home to find his first adventure and prove that he’s worthy of being called a Callindor. 

Luke lies to a royal messenger to receive a mission to secretly protect a royal heir who is attending Hamilton Military Academy. Being more concerned with keeping up his lying, Luke forgets to ask for the identity of the royal heir. The young warrior is forced to find allies who will help him locate the heir and keep his mission a secret from the ex-mercenary headmistress, Selenia Hamilton. To make matters even worse, Luke has to keep his eyes out for a demonic assassin that a Lich has already sent into the academy to kill the heir. 

What's your background with writing? 

I first learned to write in elementary school where I also acquired a taste for pencil erasers. I managed to kick that habit, but the love of writing stayed. I’ve been writing fantasy since high school, which is when I swore I would be an author and learned that parents don’t like hearing that. I went off to college to get a BA in English Writing Arts, which I learned after graduation doesn’t mean anything. I have been writing novels, outlining future series, and collecting rejection letters for the last 10 years. 

Recently, I decided that being passed around various office jobs was about as fulfilling as clearing my 13th paper jam of the day. So, I looked into self-publishing through Amazon Kindle while editing my completed novels and took the plunge. So far, it’s worked out pretty well and I’m a lot happier. 

Who are your inspirations/influences? 

I was heavily inspired by my time playing Dungeons & Dragons, which is where I tested out various characters and storylines. I found that the medium helped me get a deeper feel for my heroes. When I began running games, I developed a stronger sense of story and continuity, which translated to my books. 

My writing style has also been heavily influenced by reading and collecting comic books, which might explain why I’m most comfortable writing in the dreaded present tense style. This style and influence has driven me to aim for making the reader feel like they are watching events unfold instead of simply being told to them. 

Authors that inspired me are definitely Tolkien (does any fantasy author not list him?), but the spark was created by Fred Saberhagen and his Books of Lost Swords. It was such an amazing series with realistic characters and a world that felt more real to me than Middle Earth. 

What was it like working with Amazon Publishing?

It has been great since I control everything from price to content to advertising. I like that I have so much power over my own destiny even though it does get frustrating and confusing at times. I will admit that I sacrificed the sense of peace that comes from having an agent and publisher that takes care of the advertising. Still, there is a lot to be said for the feeling of doing it all on your own. 

I will admit that it took some time to get the formatting right and I found formatting mistakes even after I published. Amazon counters this by allowing you to upload revised versions of your book for free and as many times as you need. This is very important if you publish without a professional editor like me. 

Who was responsible for the cover/book design? 

My cover art was done by my wife’s highly talented cousin, Jason Pedersen. He is professionally trained and does tattoo art in Arizona along with pictures that he auctions off for charities. 

What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity? 

I use a lot of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google +, and Goodreads. All of these are connected to my blog, Legends of Windemere, so any post I make there goes to all of those outlets. I also used several websites that have various promotional tools for self-published authors. Using those websites, I spent probably $70 overall and that was with a few splurges such as author profiles on their site. As I’ve used advertising sites, I’ve been listing and explaining them on a blog page. You can see the page here

The most important thing that I did for marketing and publicity is I made friends on social media. There is a vast community of aspiring artists that are more than willing to help each other with support, reviews, and spreading the word. I’ve actually gotten more support and help from people I’ve never met in real life than those I get together with outside of the internet. It’s a very tight-knit group of authors that you can learn from at the beginning and then contribute to when you get more experience. As one of my friends says, ‘when one aspiring author succeeds, we all succeed’. 

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.? 

I’m still fairly new, so I haven’t had any signings or radio interviews yet. So far, I’ve only done e-mail interviews like this. Though, I’m working on setting up my first radio/podcast interview for August or September. I’m sure I will have plenty of stories from that first time experience. 

What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there? 

My blog is called Legends of Windemere and it began as a simple site where I posted book excerpts. I have since added character origins, poetry, thoughts on aspects of writing, inspirational videos, book reviews of other self-published authors, and whatever I think might be entertaining. I have begun posting about how important it is to support self-published authors. As someone who gets very little support from friends and family, this is a very important topic for me. To put it simply, something as simple as clicking the share button is enough to make an artist smile and feel like they aren’t alone in their journey. 

What projects do you have planned for the future? 

I recently finished writing and editing the 4th book of Legends of Windemere. The 2nd and 3rd books are waiting on cover art before they debut on Amazon. On the side, I’m outlining other series that I have come up with over the years. I would say I have about 40 stories of various lengths that I work on when I want a break from my first series. It probably helps that I don’t even think of this as work, except for when I have to read through and edit a full novel for the third time. That gets a little tedious at times and usually forces a week-long break before I snap and write a massive death scene for all of my characters. 

Is there anything else about you we should know? 

I’m an Ares. I did fencing in high school and college. I hate pina coladas and walks in the rain. I crack jokes, usually bad ones, when I’m nervous and don’t know what else to say. Honestly, I’m just a friendly, helpful aspiring author with delusions of overzealous grandeur.

About the Interviewer:
Walter Rhein is the author of Beyond Birkie Fever and The Bone Sword which are both available over at the Rhemalda Bookshop or here and here at Amazon. If you happen to pick up either of these books and write a review somewhere, please let him know at walterrhein@gmail.com!