Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Double Dragon Book Release Party at Balticon 2013

A quick thank you to Micheal A. Ventrella  and Double Dragon Publishing for hosting a book release party at last weekend's Balticon. As an aspiring writer it was inspiring to meet published authors and hear first-hand about publishing and writing in general.

As I mentioned earlier, Double Dragon recently published a collection called A Bard in Hand, edited by Michael, that includes a story written by Bernie Mojzes and yours truly. Here's a picture (courtesy of Kelli Williams) of us signing copies of the book. Yeah - I know - writers writing in books. What can I say? We love to write.

Bernie and I and some of the other authors included in A Bard in Hand spoke about our stories in front of a rapt audience. It may have been the doughnuts and hard boiled eggs that had them enthralled, but take my word for it, they were rapt!

I will talk to you again soon. Right now I am due in the audience chamber of Meddo Malik, King of the Akalarian Tribes, Emperor of Yallum, and Lord of Guatame. He's pretty long winded sometimes, and I am trying to getting him to be more concise in this draft. It ain't easy.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Embarrassing Relations

At the risk of putting myself out of the running for the Laziest Blogger Ever Award, I’m interrupting another long silence to let you know that a story I have co-written with Bernie Mojzes is now available in a collection called A Bard in Hand, edited by Michael A. Ventrella.

Our story, ‘Embarrassing Relations’, along with all the others in A Bard in Hand, takes place in Fortannis, the setting of Michael Ventrella’s novels. For the first Fortannis collection, A Bard’s Eye View, Bernie wrote a great story called ‘Bad Debts’ featuring Maris Goselin, a woman of considerable talent and charms. When Bernie decided to continue Maris’ adventures in the second collection, he thought it would be fun to team her up with Brian, a slightly mad and completely devoted cleric. I created Brian as a role playing game character, many moons ago, when Bernie and I were part of a weekly pizza and polyhedral dice fest (Ah, to hear DM Kim say “When we last left our fearful adventurers . . .”). Bernie remembered Brian, contacted me through the modern magic of social media, and before they could protest, Maris and Brian were thrown together in a partnership made in interdimensional space. 

The Official Blurb for Embarrassing Relations: After defending Ashbury from an unspeakable horror from beyond time and space, Maris Goselin finds herself with a new assignment: help the Duke avoid spending quality time with a gibbering out-of-town relative. It seems easy, but Maris soon realizes that although the relative may be insane, insanity is relative, and sometimes making a living has life-threatening consequences.

A Bard in Hand also includes stories by noted authors Davey Beauchamp, Jon Cory, Roy C. Booth and Brian Woods, Tera Fulbright, Jesse Grabowski, Henry Hart, Laurel Anne Hill, Mark Mensch, and Mike Strauss. You can read more about these stories on Michael’s blog here.

A Bard in Hand is available at these links as a Paperback or an E-Book.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nice way to start a Monday. . .

This morning I was thrilled to learn that I won first place in the Writing North Idaho Brilliant Beginnings Contest (link to pagel).Writing North Idaho is a great is a great writer's resource, which I would have told you even if I had not won.

The line I submitted is my introduction to the Midwife of Riversbend, one of the first major characters to be introduced in The Black King's Hall. That line and a few more follow:

Her long journey through grief was almost over.  The Midwife of Riversbend pushed her way through the crowds on the road to the Black King’s Hall, heedless of those around her except that they were in her way.  She had carried her burden too long to slow down now.  As she strode through a knot of chatting pilgrims she thought about the man she intended to meet.
Arrogant swine!
She wasted no time on apologies as she brushed by.  None was asked, for when others saw her they stood aside.  Anger and determination hardened her plain peasant face.
Fiendish tyrant!
Her fists were clenched and her arms swung stiffly as she shouldered her way past slowly moving travelers. 
Cold hearted murderer!
Although still of childbearing age, the Midwife of Riversbend was no longer a young woman.  Given her swift pace and apparent energy, one would have never guessed she had already been walking for the better part of two days.  But anyone looking closely would see evidence of a hastily planned and unpleasant trip.  She wore the rigors of her journey like the lines on her face, each one a hard-earned reminder of the trial her life had become.  Her coarse brown peasant dress and soft leather boots were covered with dust from the road.  Her blond hair looked as if it was once tied neatly back, but now most of it fell untidily to her shoulders.  The pack slung over her shoulder was more a farmer’s sowing bag than traveler’s satchel.  She had no time to borrow proper traveling gear from her neighbors or pack more than a bedroll and some simple provisions.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where Have I Been?

If there is anyone out there who is wondering where I have been in terms of posting on this site, let's just say the Black King's Hall is closed for renovations. When I decided this book was finished, I happy sent it to several beta-readers and promptly got to work on volume two. But, when I was well into the first draft of what might be called The Dreams of Liana or The Lighthouse of Providence, some commentary on the BKH came rolling in. I don't have problem with the commentary. In fact, I have received such good feedback that I could not try to publish the Black King's Hall without believing it could be a much better book. So - it is back to the desk or the chair or wherever I happen to write that I go (did I mention I love having a laptop?).

Thank you all so much for your early encouragement. I really meant a lot. I will let you know when the Black King's Hall is ready for the light of day again. Until then, I will be posting some background information about Anvar, the world in which the story - this part of it anyway - takes place. Let me know what you think.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Black King's Hall: Chapter One Excerpt

Greetings All!  The opening pages to the Black King's Hall are posted below.  Please let me know what you think.

Meddo Malik studied the battlefield.  The enemy was arrayed before him.  Endless ranks stretched beyond the limits of sight, forming innumerable rows that soared over his head, plummeted below his feet and faded into the incomprehensible distance beyond.  The enemies nearest were discrete, but those further away melted into gray nothingness, eager to feed itself on everything Meddo’s people held dear.
He did not face this host alone.  An equally large force stood between Meddo’s home and the destroyers.  Meddo was at the vanguard, as were all that remained of those of the Blood, those who by birthright and oath were obliged to protect their home, as they had done for generations beyond remembering.  Behind those of the Blood were countless others, and although they were of lesser status than the warrior class, they too came to defend their home.  It was not dreams of glory that girded them, but the certainty there would be nothing left to stand for should they fail.  The destroyers would sweep over their civilization like fire over drought-lands, leaving no trace of what once was.
Like a piece gliding across a game-board, the leader of the destroyers advanced.  Meddo had seen this monstrosity before.  His image was branded with fire onto the hearts of Meddo’s people.  It was all there, the brilliant green armor fashioned in the likeness of intricately woven cane, the shimmering gold cape emblazoned with the eight marks of the clans, and the tall horned helm that hid the leader’s face but left no question as to his identity.  On its brow glowed the savage glyph of Balthazar, Son of the Mountain, immortal god-king of the outcasts, now come with his horde to reclaim all they had lost.
Horde, Meddo thought.  Savages.  It is all they are and all they have ever been.  They will come no further.
Balthazar sat astride a great jagged rock.  It was a dangerous mount disguised as dead stone, but Meddo knew ancient hunger burned in its core.  Meddo Malik did not quail.  He was mounted as well, atop a dark cloud of anger, a thunderhead of unfathomable grief, the collective anguish of his people, who would never forget all the lives blotted out by the Son of the Mountain.  Meddo urged his mount forward.
The god-king accepted the challenge, unsheathing his sword, the legendary blade of fire that cackled and danced.  The tongue of flame insinuated itself into Meddo’s heart, attempting to cow him with its message of disdain for all things.  It did not boast in vain.  Nothing withstood that sword’s deadly touch.  Still Meddo moved forward.  He would challenge armor with flesh, stone with shadow, and against fire he would wield lightning. 
Meddo Malik unleashed the storm.  Now the god-king dies. 
But it was not to be.  There was no lightning, no fire, and for a moment that somehow lasted forever, there was nothing.  It was as if everything that was, suddenly was not, and then was again.
Where am I?
Meddo’s mount was still beneath him, but it careened and writhed as if its senses were shattered. Meddo was tossed about, unable to get his bearings, and for a moment strange perceptions invaded his awareness.  Then, just as he thought he was lost, everything became clear.  His shadow mount righted itself in blue sky, with a sprawling wilderness below.  Meddo looked for his enemy and immediately found him.  The god-king did not fare as well as Meddo.  His fire was extinguished and his jagged stone was dead.
But where is the battlefield?
The shadow, ever obedient, showed him a battlefield.  It was not like the one they left, where there was no solid ground, no up or down, no east or west.  Far below, two armies clashed where a silver river ran through a lush green land.
This is wrong, thought Meddo, I don’t belong here.  He examined the battle more closely.  He did not recognize the army on the south side of the river, but the other army, he recognized.  They were the enemy.  And they were winning.
I don’t belong here.
I am warrior.  This is a battlefield.
I don’t belong here.
The enemy is here.
I don’t belong here.
They are winning.
I don’t belong here.
“I am of the Blood!” Meddo urged his mount into battle. 
I don’t belong here.
He descended on his enemy and killed hundreds before they knew he was among them. 
I don’t belong here.
They tried to defend themselves, but their efforts were useless.
I don’t belong here.
They ran from him, but his lightning found them.
I don’t belong here.
They died and died and died and died.
Meddo awoke with the words on his lips.  Mercifully, there was no one there to hear.  It would not do for the king’s subjects to hear him screaming in the middle of the night.  But it could have been worse.  A long time ago, when Meddo first started having such dreams, he would spend the remainder of the night tossing and moaning, tortured.  That was years ago.  These days he would simply lie quietly and wait for his heaving chest to relax and for sleep to return.  If sleep would not come he would begin repeating his mantra, his prayer, his one wish and his doom.  I don’t belong here.
But this predawn morning Meddo made up his mind that today things would change.  He was in danger of losing his mind.  The nightmares had to end, both the real and the unreal.  It was a promise he made to himself often enough, and as always, it was accompanied by impulsive action.
“Guard!” Meddo called.  “Summon Saint Lampus.  I want to speak to him immediately.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Building the Black King's Hall

The Black King's Hall is the product of my life-long love of science fiction and fantasy.  I have loved science fiction and fantasy since I was about six years old, when I saw an android reveal the circuitry beneath his skin on the original Star Trek.  I have walked many worlds since then.

In my late teens, I began to build the world of Anvar and the Black King’s Hall.  Back then it was a setting for my fantasy role-playing campaign.  That Black King's Hall and the story of its inhabitants were inspired by my favorite progressive rock, science fiction and fantasy novels and films, and my ambition to build the biggest, meanest dungeon players would have the misfortune to roll a die in.  But I am not all bad.  The main prize hidden in that ancient ruin would have given the one who found it limitless power. No one ever found that prize.  

It wasn’t for lack of trying.  Many characters got very rich sacking the warrens beneath the Black King’s Hall.  That was at a time in my life when rolling critical hits was giving way to graduating college and finding a full-time job.  Shortly after graduation I started working second shift and every other weekend.  I was married six months later.  Dungeon explorations became ever more infrequent.  But Anvar and the Black King’s Hall never left me. 

I always thought Anvar would make a great setting for the kind of stories I wanted to read, and every few months I wrote something down.  I eventually had a cast of characters and the outline of a story about a gladiator and a demon.  Although that story was based on characters from my campaign, it had little to do with the Black King’s Hall.  Again, life continued with its victories and failures, which I attended to at the expense of the worlds in my head.

Then one day, years later, something unexpected happened.  I was driving to work, listening to Queen’s second album, and as the songs progressed the history of Anvar assembled itself in my mind.  That history was populated by the same characters and spanned the same places I had been imagining for almost twenty years, but now they were all connected. What a great day that was.  

It was around 1996 when I first started writing about the Black King’s Hall.  Back then I lacked discipline and had yet to find my voice.  There were many distractions and false starts.  I would write for a little while and then go months without touching my keyboard.  Then, life intervened again.  I was laid off from work, and instead of having less time to write, I suddenly found myself with more.  In 2007 I put my butt in a chair and finished the first draft of the Black King’s Hall.  

You know the joke about taking a few months to write a book and a million years to revise it? It’s true.  Every time I went back to my manuscript or had my alpha-reader look at it, we had new ideas to improve the story.  It got to the point where I dreaded inspiration.  Each revision made the book better, but some took weeks to accomplish.  

At last, in early 2011, I declared the book finished.  I am very proud of it.  Now I want to know what the rest of the world thinks.  The Black King’s Hall is waiting.