Monday, May 30, 2016

To Touch The Sky

I am loving the short story I will be releasing later in the week. I hope you all do too. The cover art below is designed by Cathy Walters, as is all of my cover art.

This is the story of a group of teens stranded at the top of Pike's Peak when the Event happens (the cause of change in the Saga of Mystics).


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fear of Mystics to be released June 28!!

I am pleased to announce the release date of the second book in the Saga of Mystics epic. On Tuesday, June 28th, you can follow the characters from Age of Mystics on their continuing pursuit of survival and understanding in this new existence.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

A peek at new style for covers

So, my beautiful artist wife got me the new cover early. I will post others as I have them, but at some point, I will update the Age of Mystics cover with this beautiful work of art. She is amazing!!


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cover Art

I just got to see some mock-ups for cover art, and I am so excited! I will post some soon, but it is so awesome, that she made a new cover for Age of Mystics too! So, will show that cover art, and the cover art for Faith of Mystics this weekend, and will be announcing release dates for Faith of Mystics and the newest Saga of Mystics short story: To Touch the Sky. Very exciting stuff!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Chapter 1 of Faith of Mystics - a little teaser for you

CHAPTER ONE
            A loud shout of “Kiai!” broke the early morning quiet as the former cadets formed a line to meet their foes. An especially foggy and cold morning had met their wakening hours, and the four men and two women who now patrolled the loose barrier on the west side of town had heard the attackers approach.  There was no doubt who the attackers were.  They would, of course, be Bandits.  Eric Fine’s men had taken to Manitou Springs and, for the past year and a half, harassed any person who came within their grasp.  This was especially true of those who represented Red Rock Bluffs, or Council Bluffs, as most people called it.
            “Form up!” called out the squad leader, Monty German. “Staff and long knife out, neutral stance!” he directed.
            Without word, each member of his squad pulled the required weapon and stood calmly.  These were among the warriors of the Bluffs, those who had both training and ability in martial arts.  Martial arts no longer meant only foot and fist, nor did it limit itself to weapons.  Now, martial arts included the power of the mind and spirit. 
Out of the mists before the warriors charged four men, walking quickly. Monty looked behind them for more.  The Bandits always traveled in groups of five. It was a good thing that Monty noticed, or he may not have paid any mind to the sound of foot on gravel behind him.  As it was, he swirled his staff in an arc behind him.
“Circle formation.” He shouted coarsely, and his group formed a circle with their backs to one another. Monty’s staff whirled through the air and a loud snap rent the air, as it was blocked by a bat from the attacker behind him.  He heard the clash of steel on steel to his left and knew the battle was on.
The thick fog hid nothing from sight any longer, as the close combat grew intense. Monty was used to close combat, even when he had been a cadet at the Air Force Academy. But since the Event, combat was different.  Not only was one compelled to physically protect themselves by any means necessary, but one also had to prepare their mind to defend from psychic and mental attacks that whirled around at the same speed.
Natalee Ward had taught him well, and as he parried with his blade and swung with his staff, Monty reached out with his mind in a focused burst at the man’s head.  The psychic attacks had the desired effect, and the man blinked.  It was just enough for him to miss the block on the high arc of the staff.  Within milliseconds, the staff cracked across the attacker’s left ear and he fell to the ground.  Monty whirled his staff high, and cracked the man once more for good measure across the back of his head. 
With his foe clearly unconscious, Monty turned to see one of his squad-mates defenseless on the ground and a man raising an axe high over her head to finish her off.  Gathering all his mental prowess, he combined a skilled knife throw with a mental guiding push. The knife was too heavy for true effectiveness, but it was enough.  The blade struck the man in his upstretched arm, slicing a deep red line before passing by into the ground beyond him.  Monty leaped to run after the man, but the wound had caused him to momentarily drop the axe.
As Monty neared, the man let out a loud whistle and his friends retreated quickly into the fog. The warriors stood quietly, their breath gulped in and loudly exhaled. Monty helped his cohort up from her place on the ground.
“Thanks,” she offered. Monty just winked at her.
Turning to look for the one he had incapacitated, he caught a glimpse as the man ran off to the east.  Apparently he had not been as unconscious as Monty had hoped. After a short pause, they dusted themselves off.
“Third one this week,” one of his mates mumbled.
Monty nodded. “Yeah, we better head to checkpoint for our relief.  The council will want to know about the increased sorties.”

Gathering their small amount of equipment, the group marched back north.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Finished First Draft!

The first draft of Faith of Mystics: Book Two in Saga of Mystics is complete! Artwork, polishing, formatting and another short story in the saga are in the near future. Keep an eye out on my Amazon Author page and on this page for more details.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Description for Faith of Mystics!

Faith of Mystics:
Saga of Mystics Book Two

Charred pyres with burned bodies litter the east side. Strange creatures have begun to appear across the landscape. Survivors’ camps and markets have begun to form together as some semblance of society tries to take shape. It has been a year and half since the Event, and the Council tries to make its way amidst the increasing death and devastation of a world gone mad. As rumors build of a new power in the east, with the ability to take away the powers of others, the Council must ally themselves with old foes to defeat a growing menace. But will their efforts be futile?
The Hermit roams the landscape, always showing up at the right time. Maxine Craven’s pack has grown to an immense size. Adam and Erica Cross lead a training outpost for healers, while the people of the Bluffs are beset with emotional turmoil and violent outbursts.  Follow the characters from Age of Mystics as they return in Faith of Mystics, the ongoing saga of a post-apocalyptic world.


Scheduled for release in late June - early July 2016!

Will be available on Amazon in paperback and in the Kindle Store!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Writing for, and about, women

As anyone looking at my Amazon author page can see, I am either a man or the ugliest woman ever born. This presents me with somewhat of a dilemma of which most male authors seem to be unaware. That dilemma is all wrapped up in a single fact, a stat if you will. The stat is that 54% of all human beings are female. One could  safely assume that the stat carries over to readers, and therefor 54% of all readers are female. There is nothing shocking in this stat, other than the fact that for generations, both authors and publishers (and for that matter, filmmakers and television executives) seem to have overlooked this fact.

Although it is changing somewhat is recent years, the truth is that many (if not most) fiction is written from a male perspective. It seems even more prevalent in my genre, fantasy fiction. This kind of bugs the shit out of me, if I am being honest. If a majority of readers are female, then the feminine perspective should be more prevalent, not less so. I believe in this, and I believe in showing women in the manner in which I see them every day. That means that I need to have the perspectives of a plethora of women, not a generalization of the perspective of a woman. And herein lies my dilemma: my perspective is inherently male. How do I write compelling female characters that are not generalized?

The answer is a simple one, though I will also admit to sometimes having blinders on which prevent my seeing the mistake. I am surrounded by strong, compelling women. My wife, my mother, my mother-in-law, my daughter and my many friends are inspiration for the women in my books. But, I will sometimes lean toward a male perspective, because it is easier for me to identify with a male character. I found myself being lazy in that approach in writing the second book in the Saga of Mystics series, Faith of Mystics. It just made me mad, because it wasn't by design, it was a lazy approach to my writing. Another author, who I learn from, says something I find very true. I am paraphrasing, but basically he says that we must create value for our readers. It is not a big deal if the story follows more male, or more female characters in one of the books. I really don't think about it. But I need to. I need to create value for all of my readers, and that means having compelling characters of all genders, all races (that make sense within the story), and all walks of life.

I will continue to put every effort into doing this, but I also want to encourage any female readers I have in one thing. Your voice is important. Don't leave it to a man to try to write from your perspective. Put yourself out there, because the world needs to hear you. The world needs your story, your perspective. For myself, I want to hear your story. Not just the story of your life, but the hidden fiction in your heart, from your point of view. That is what creates value for me.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Let's Talk About Tempo

I would love to tell you what the consensus is about tempo among authors. But I have no idea what that consensus is, or whether there even is one. Instead, I will tell you my thoughts.

I once had a friend who was an amazing film editor, and she told me that the difference between a great film and a crappy film was not writing, it was tempo. I always thought the editor's job was to set up the shots in the right order and fix any problems. Well, they do all of that, but their real job is to set the tempo in a film. It seems that narrative is all about timing.

Ever since that friend educated me about this, I have realized that my editing also needs to be about tempo. It is probably hard for people to see, but I see a lot of my writing as composing a musical movement. Its tempo, its crescendo, its diminuendo, are all planned to flow like a musical composition. I do not always achieve this, but I always try.

Many people have described Age of Mystics as fast-paced, but the truth is that it is sometimes fast-paced, some times staccato, sometimes drawn out. I firmly believe that monotony of timing in a narrative comes out sounding wrong, it just doesn't read right. So, I take the comment about it being fast-paced as meaning that I correctly edited the manuscript to keep the reader engaged. That is the purpose of tempo, to get you to engage with the story, and to want to continue that engagement. It goes back to the connection that I have written about in other posts.

I owe you a good story. I have an obligation to provide a story which transports you to another place, another time, or another reality. A monotonous story does not do that...well, that is another form of art anyway. I want you to enjoy the stories I put out there. In order to do that, tempo must be well considered, and well executed. Tell me if you can feel the tempo when you read it.

Age of Mystics
And the Rain Fell

Friday, May 6, 2016

The current schedule

I wanted to give you all an update on future project, where they stand and a rough idea of release dates. I am currently working on four projects: The second book in Saga of Mystics: Faith of Mystics; another Short Story about the travels of our friends Mickey, Theo, and Brandon (untitled); the revisions on a completed manuscript in Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy called Outcast Days; and, the beginning of a new series (untitled) about live music and angels, the first titled: Gabriel.

I have a lot of stories in my head, and I find I can only work on one for a few hours, before I need to get away from the story and let it recharge. This has me thinking about many different options, and many different narratives. They each have their own style, and voice. Writing them at the same time is a challenge, but one I relish. Stretching myself in this way has been a really great catharsis, and I am thrilled that I am not dry on the story front.

What I generally do is jot down ideas in a creative journal I keep. As plots, scenes and stories evolve, those notes become an outline. When the outline has a certain structure, I begin to write the stories. When I am done, I have three choices: Publish it, Revise it, or Trash it. I have trashed many more stories than I will ever publish. Revising is by far the hardest for me, because when I am done with a story, too much revision makes it a different story. I am having that problem with Outcast Days. The entire structure and background of that narrative has changed, even though the basic framework is the same.

As for release dates, it is hard to say, but loosely the following should hold true:

End of May - Another Short Story for Saga of Mystics
Mid-July (may be earlier, work is going well) - Faith of Mystics (book two in Saga of Mystics)
Early August - Outcast Days
October-ish (very loose, I haven't even fully outlined) - Gabriel
December-February - Book 3 in Saga of Mystics (Still in notes phase)

If that sounds like a lot, it is. but, I have to admit that I love writing. The opportunity to get these stories out, and have you read them, is just a true joy. I hope you enjoy them!

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Blank Page and Writer's Block

I finally got around to setting up my Goodreads author page. Do you like how I made it sound like it was just one in a long list of things I haven't got around to yet? Well, it is part of a long list, but it is a list of things I didn't even know authors were supposed to create. This self-publishing thing is such a huge, uphill, learning curve. But, I digress. One of the questions that it asked (I assume of all authors) was "How do you deal with writer's block?" I figured I would wait until I was in the throes of such a block, and then respond. This is what it looks like.

"What is writer's block?" one might ask. It is described by some as the fear of the blank page, but I don't agree with that. I would describe it more as the dread of the blank page. Fear or foreboding might be accurate for some, but I see the blank page as a mire that I will have to trudge through more than a hidden trap, full of danger. Writer's block to me is not the lack of an idea, but the feeling that the ideas in my head are too mundane, too undeveloped, and not at all compelling. This dread took me down for almost three months in the middle of writing "Age of Mystics".

So, what do I do about it? It is often true that the answers to life's questions are the most simple responses. It sounds stupid, but the way that you get through writer's block is ... you write. Some use free-writing. Some work on something else. But, sitting at the computer and hammering out a story, an outline for a new book, or even a blog post, can drag me out of the muck of my own creative malaise. It is that simple, you find something to write, and you write. It doesn't have to be good. No one need ever see it. You just write.

I have many friends, who after hearing me talk or post about being an author, tell me that they have these ideas they have wanted to write for years. I would suggest to every one of you who feel that way, sit down and write it. The world needs your ideas, your creations, and your stories. Just write. There are not too many authors already, that is mere bullshit. Just write. It may be near to impossible to get readers, trust me, but it doesn't matter. Just write.

Finish that novel. Publish that book of short stories, or poems, or recipes for pot brownies. Who cares? Just write. And when you do, drop me a line and I will read it and review it for you. The greatest task of an author, in the current age of self-publishing, is not producing material. It is getting someone to read and review your work, So, if I can help. Please let me know.

I am going to try to review some books soon, and set up a regular schedule of releases here on the blog. I am not a professional reviewer, but I won't review something I don't like (most of the time). For instance, I picked up three free Kindle reads a little over a week ago. I began all three. One of them kept me interested, and was a pretty good read. It was enjoyable. The other two were, I am sure, fine books. They weren't for me. I only reviewed the first one,  I want to be giving, and help other authors, but I also want to be honest and not punk my readers. My non-reviews can't be assumed to be a bad review, but my good reviews will mean I actually like it. That is the best I can do for others. But while we are at it, please take a moment to pick up a copy of either Age of Mystics (2.99 on Kindle store), or And the Rain Fell (short for 99c), and throw a review on it for me in Amazon, Goodreads, or your own blog. Whatever works.

Age of Mystics:
http://www.amazon.com/Age-Mystics-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B01DHNO7J6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

And the Rain Fell (Short):
http://www.amazon.com/Rain-Fell-Mystics-Short-short-ebook/dp/B01EVPXO9S/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Surprise drop!

I am an impatient person. It is just something I have had to learn to live with. As such, keeping this a secret has been so damn hard! I am ...