November 28, 2012


I have enjoyed this blog. And despite my frustrations with moving from xanga to blogger and learning a new platform, I have become fond of my little writing blog. But now that we've officially "launched" my career as an author, I think it's time to grow up a little - and I feel that it's a little silly to continue posting in two different places.

So, with some bittersweetness, I am leaving blogger and my dear cathedral of time, and moving to my gorgeous, grown-up, beautiful new website!

I will be blogging over there from now on, and while I will leave this site up so I can refer back to it if I ever need to, moving forward my writing-related posts will all be posted over at the new site.

Please come with me, dear reader!

November 26, 2012

Pronunciation Guide

Since I began writing, and at least once since the book-signing, I have had quite a few people ask me if I would ever be willing to include a pronunciation guide/glossary in my books.

Okay, some of you are chuckling to yourselves right now.

But it is a valid question, particularly for those unfamiliar with the fantasy genre.

For anyone who doesn't understand why some people reading this might be laughing a little, the reason is this: there IS a pronunciation guide/glossary in my book. If you flip to page 412 you will find a glossary/pronunciation guide for all the names in King's Warrior.

If you continue on to page 414, you will also find a "sneak preview" for Second Son.

And if you don't want to flip to the end of the book, I thought I'd include the pronunciation guide here as well:

Aethalons (ā-ETH-ə-lohns): The people of Llycaelon.
Aetoli (ā-eh-TOLL-ee): Highest ranking warrior in Llycaelon.
Aom-igh (Ā-ōm-Ī): Home of Kamarie
Ayollan (AY-ōl-ăn): Capital city of Aom-igh
Arnaud (AR-nawd): King of Aom-igh.
Brant (brănt): Formerly the King’s Warrior.
Calyssia (cuh-LEE-see-ah): Keeper of Pearl Cove.
Coeyallin (kō-ĕ-yăl-in): A province of Aom-igh.
Darby (DAR-bee): Kamarie’s maidservant.
Drayedon (DRAY-ě-don): A province of Aom-igh.
Dylanna (dĭ-LAHN-ah): Wizardess, second daughter of Scelwhyn.
Elroy (ELLE-roy): Leader of Roalthae.
Enreigh (ON-ree): A peasant of Aom-igh, Marghita’s husband.
Farrendell (FAR-ehn-dell): Main river that runs through Aom-igh.
Frantell (fran-TELL): A duchess of Aom-igh.
Garen (GAIR-en): A Knight of the Realm
Graldon (GRAIL-dən): King of the Dragons before Rhendak.
Iarrdek (ee-yar-DEK): A gryphon.
Imojean (ĬM-ō-jeen): Brant’s wife.
Iolanver (ee-ō-lan-vair): Island-country southeast of Aom-igh.
Justan (JUST-in): A Knight of the Realm; raised by Garen.
Kaitryn (KAY-trin): Rena’s daughter.
Kali (KĂ-lee): Brant’s daughter.
Kamarie (kah-MAR-ee): Princess of Aom-igh.
Kane, Kiernan (KANE, KEE-YAIR-nen): A wandering minstrel.
Krayghentaliss (kray-ghen-TĄL-ĭss): The realm of the myth-folk
Leila (lee-Ī-luh): Wizardess who lives in the Harshlands
Llian (LEE-ĕn): King of Aom-igh during the first Great War.
Llycaelon (lie-KAY-ĕ-lahn): The true name of the “Dark Country.”
Marghita (mar-GHEE-tuh): A peasant woman of Aom-igh.
Oraeyn (ŏr-AY-in): Squire in training to be a Knight of the Realm.
Quenmoire (kwen-moyr): Island-country to the south of Roalthae.
Rena (RĒ-nuh): One of the People of Pearl Cove.
Rhendak (ren-DACK): King of the Dragons.
Rhynellewhyn (rin-ELL-ĕ-whin): A Pegasus.
Roalthae (rō-awl-THAY): Island-country northeast of Aom-igh.
Sauterly (SAW-ter-lee): A baron of Aom-igh.
Scelwhyn (sell-win): Wizard and advisor to Aom-igh’s kings.
Schea (shay): Brant’s son.
Seamas (SHAW-mŭs): King of the Dark Country.
Selynda (sell-IHN-dah): A duchess of Aom-igh.
Tobias (toe-BY-ess): King Seamas’ most trusted friend
Toreth (TOR-eth): The moon.
Urith (OOR-ith): A province of Aom-igh.
Wessel (wess-əl): Leader of the Cove People, Rena’s husband.
Yatensea (YĄcht-in-see): A baron of Aom-igh.
Yole (yōle): A young orphan boy
Zara (ZAR-ah): Queen of Aom-igh.
Zhreden (ZREE-den): A province of Aom-igh.

November 19, 2012

Marik - an excerpt

Book-signing tomorrow! I'll be writing a post later this week to let you know how it went. I'm hoping to have pictures to put up as well. While you wait here is the first scene in the story I am working on for Nanowrimo:

    Marik strode into the dimly lit tavern and made his way to an empty table in the corner. His eyes darted this way and that as he pushed his long coat back and sat down in a chair with its back to the wall. He had spent time in worse establishments, but not many. Although the table was clean, something about the place gave an impression of grime, making him loath to touch anything. A sour-faced woman came over to the table, wiping her hands on her apron. She wore a plain brown robe of a dress that was far from flattering.
    “Whaddya want?” she asked in a tone that was bored and disagreeable.
    “A tankard of your finest ale, good lady,” Marik flashed her his best smile, the one legends had been written about, but this woman seemed immune. “And a loaf of your softest bread.”
    “I’ll see your coin, first,” she demanded, pursing thin lips that seemed out of place in her round face.
    He placed a handful of coppers on the table, wrinkling his nose when he realized as they dropped that he had just placed half of them in a small puddle of something sticky.
    “Be right back,” the woman’s tone, if not her face, turned a shade more pleasant. 
    Marik tried to relax, but the atmosphere in the tavern made it difficult. There was a smoky haze to the air, making it difficult to see clearly, and the unpleasant scent of sulphur wafting in through the open windows made him reluctant to breathe through his nose. The tavern was set back in a small town on the very outskirts of Palla, in the foothils of the mountains on the west side of the River Temnia. A smaller river: Pello, ran down from the mountains and ended in a small lake on the northern edge of the town. From the smell of the water, Marik felt it was safe to assume that the stream originated somewhere volcanic. It was not the most pleasant place in Aelon Ere, but Marik had not arranged the meeting, and thus had no say about the location.
     The woman returned with a mug and set it down on the table, sloshing a little of it over the brim. Drops of dark ale splashed Marik’s shirt and he frowned. The maroon was his favorite shirt. He rubbed at the spots with his sleeve. She set a tin plate in front of him and he stared in disbelief at the small slice of crusty bread. He could tell without even touching it that biting into it would be bad for his health.
    “That’ll be twenty coppers.”
    Marik’s head snapped up and his eyes widened. “For that?” he gestured at the disappointing repast in front of him.
    “Twenty coppers or you can take your business elsewhere.” The woman’s face was hard, and showed no hint of humor.
    “My good woman, what have I done to merit your distrust? In most other establishments twenty coppers would buy me a full meal and a room for the night... some would call your price highway robbery.”
     “We’re not ‘most other establishments,’ and I don’t care what ‘some’ might say. We don’t like strangers here in Ondoma, and we’d just as soon see you leave. Twenty coppers or you can be on your way.”
     “Peace, Criselda,” another man appeared, putting his hand on the woman’s shoulder. “Marik here is with me.”
     The woman’s frown deepened. “Well then, ten coppers for the both of you, Arrio. But you vouch for him. If he causes any trouble, he’s your responsibility."
     “He won’t, desert flower. Marik is a businessman, of high repute and standing. We’re here to agree to some terms on some work he might be doing for me. Bring me a mug of whatever he’s having, there’s a sweet lass,” he poured a handful of coins into her apron pocket.
    Marik gingerly picked up five of the coppers off the sticky part of the table and took private delight in dumping them into the disagreeable woman’s pocket.
    Criselda’s eyes narrowed, but she departed and the newcomer sat down.
    “I was starting to think you wouldn’t make it,” Marik said.
    “I got held up. I see you found the place.”
    “It wasn’t hard,” Marik replied. “May I ask what prompted this choice?”
    “I am well-liked here.”
    “So I see.”
    Marik eyed the man warily. Arrio was tall and thin, with a nose that was just slightly too big for his face. His eyes were dark, almost black, and filled with cunning. Unlike Marik, the man wore no coat, and the sleeves of his blindingly white shirt billowed out from shoulder to wrist, where they were held tightly in place with thin leather drawstrings. Like Marik, he wore dark pants and high boots, and had a sword strapped to his waist. Marik wondered if Arrio knew how to use it; many men wore swords these days, but some were just for show.
    Marik pursed his lips and took a swig from his mug. He instantly regretted it. If cooled lava could be turned into liquid, he imagined this is what it might taste like. He tried to keep the expression of disgust off his face, but Arrio grinned at him knowingly. The man’s teeth were crooked, but clean. Marik winced and set his glass down.
    “I’m told you have a knack for... acquiring things of value,” Arrio said, his smooth voice hushed. He seemed to understand Marik’s disdain for small talk.
    “I have certain skills in that area,” Marik replied modestly.
    “You’ve stolen airships before?”
    Marik shrugged. “Allegedly.”

November 15, 2012

Lightning Source Ingram

What is Lightning Source Ingram?

In the simplest explanation, Lightning Source is a printing company, just like Createspace. The difference between LSI and Createspace? LSI is more geared towards working with publishers, while Createspace was set up to work with individual authors.

Lightning Source will act as a Print-on-Demand company, or they will do an offset run (which is where they can print you 1+ thousand copies of your book for you to stock and sell on your own). The big benefit to printing my book through LSI is that they have a current and on-going relationship with Barnes and Noble already. They support returnability and the standard trade discount, which are two things B&N requires before they will buy a book and put it on their shelves - and it's the only way they would let us do a book signing at their store.

Pros to LSI over Createspace:
  • you can print your book cover in glossy or matte finish
  • Barnes and Noble and other large bookstore companies will be willing to stock your book
  • you can do book signings at large bookstores
Cons to LSI over Createspace:
  • returnability means that you take a risk that you will have to pay for any books that are returned
  • you won't get paid by LSI until you've made $100 (Createspace pays out when you've made $10)
  • author wholesale price is slightly more expensive (LSI $7.50 to CS $5.50 - before shipping)
  • because they're slightly more expensive, your book has to cost more for the buyer and you get a much smaller royalty from each sale

However, both companies set themselves up to have non-exclusive printing rights to your book, so you can do what we've done and use both simultaneously.

And that's my brief explanation of what Lightning Source is. If you're a fellow author or small publishing company looking into a printer, you can find out more information here.

November 13, 2012

Nanowrimo Update

As of yesterday I hit seventeen thousand words on the story I'm working on for nanowrimo. Officially that means I am over a fifth of the way done (and, yes, about three thousand words behind schedule... already). I'll see if I can make that distance up in the coming days, although the 50,000-word mark isn't really as super important to me as finishing the book is.

So what is this story about? First and foremost, it's the second half of a story I've been working on for the past year, but everything I'm writing this month is new - as per the rules of the game.

Well, this is the story of a pirate. Marik is an honorable man, despite being a thief. He is young, but his name is already legendary through the Eastern lands and even some in the West have whispered his name. When he was a child, his family, merchants by trade, bought him a commission in the Emperor's Army. Marik advanced through the ranks of the military quickly, earning the hawk pin at the unprecedented age of twenty-two.

When a Civil War broke out between two warlords, Marik's hometown was caught in the crossfire. Some of his neighbors sympathized with the rebels, and hid them from the Emperor's troops. When the Emperor found out about it, he ordered the town be razed to the ground, almost every member of Marik's family was killed in the ensuing massacre. The commanding officer who carried out the orders was Marik's older brother.

Grief stricken and filled with a vengeful anger, Marik disappeared and turned to piracy. He is a mercenary, a hired gun, a smuggler, and privateer, and he is out to hurt the Emperor any way he can.

When our story begins
When Marik is hired to do a job, the ultimate job, it is too good an opportunity for him to pass up. He is hired to commandeer a massive airship: a cargo cruiser. Despite the danger, Marik takes the job, never knowing that it will lead him on the greatest adventure of his life.

That's it in a nutshell, the story I'm working on. In the past year I've gotten most of the bits with Grayden written, this month I am pushing to write all the parts with Marik and perhaps the bits beyond that where their stories intersect - which is about where this book will end - resolving enough to make the story a good first act in a classic trilogy.

I'll post some of what I've written next week for the more curious of my fans :)

November 12, 2012

Marketing Monday

Today's topic will revolve around the question of what we have done and are doing to promote the November 20th book signing at Barnes and Noble.

What we have done to market this event, in bullets:

  • Designed and printed two posters (36" x 60") to hang in the windows of Barnes and Noble
  • Designed and printed one welcome poster (24" x 57") to put up on an easel that greets people to our designated area inside B&N and lets them know what is going on
  • Designed and printed 60 smaller posters (8.5" x 11") and asked permission to set them up/post them in coffee shops and high schools in the surrounding area
  • Designed, printed, and mailed 300 letters with color-inserts inviting people to attend our event
  • Created a facebook event to promote knowledge of the event a month in advance
  • I believe that Barnes and Noble is doing a little bit of advertising on our behalf as well, whatever it is they normally do to promote a store event
  • We are giving away copies of "He Whistles for the Cricket" by Gwen Walker to the first 100 people who buy copies of "King's Warrior"
  • We are hoping to run an ad in the local newspaper

So that's what marketing we have done so far. We are planning on giving away bookmarks to as many people as possible whether they buy a book or not.

The employees at Barnes and Noble have been very impressed so far by our efforts. The store manager even said that one of the reasons they don't do more book signings is because the authors aren't usually willing to do so much of the leg-work. So, we are hopeful that this will be a fantastic and incredibly fun event!

Later this week, I will post some more about Lightning Source and explain their role in all of this a little more.

November 09, 2012

Featured Artist Friday with DJ Edwardson

Name: DJ Edwardson

Book Title: Into the Vast

Genre: Science Fiction

Book Blurb: When Adan awakes in the Institute, his memory is gone. Worse still, the scientists nursing him back to health don't seem to know or even care who he might have been. They only seem interested in him as a research project. But as he comes to grips with the strange technology fused inside of him, he discovers that he may be the one person who can put a stop to
the researcher's efforts to re-engineer the human race. Because sometimes the only person who can see what's gone wrong is the person who doesn't know anything at all.

Amazon Author Page:
Amazon Kindle Book link:
Barnes & Noble Nook link:
Kobo ebook:

*When and why did you start writing?*
Back in 1995 when I was living out of the country and had a lot of time to myself, the ideas for my first novel began seeping into my mind. I wrote about fifty pages into a notebook and then my circumstances changed and I moved back to the states and the story sat on the shelf for many years. A few years back, however, I joined a literature club inspired by the Inklings--C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien's group that met for many years in England. The stories I read there once again ignited my desire to write and a couple of years after the group began, I dusted off the novel with the goal of finishing what I'd started all those years ago.

*Why did you choose to write in this genre?*
You know, I'm not actually a huge fan of the concept of "genres". I know they have their place but they seem to be more a convention for publishers than writers. I know science fiction and fantasy are the convenient, broad terms for the kinds of things I write, but if I had to classify or describe my work, I'd call it the genre of the imagination or "imagine-lit" for short. For me this would include everything from fairy tales (the real kind like George MacDonald's Light Princess or Phantastes) to super-hero stories to tales from the far future.

The key element is to take the reader out of this present world where we have all of these pre-conceived ideas about how things work and to take him or her into another world, a place where they are able to discover reality afresh, from the inside out, so to speak. It is often only in stories like these where we can really see courage, hope, and forgiveness clearly, isolated and undistracted by all of the routine and monotony of our daily experience.

Stories of this sort do not take us away from reality, but take us into that very real reality of the soul and the imagination which we so often neglect. In this way, they actually enhance reality, giving us experiences we might not otherwise have and showing us truths we may have forgotten or  have never even seen before.

*Which authors do you admire? Why?*
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are at the top of the list. Not only were they great writers, but based on everything I've read about them, they were decent men as well. Many writers aren't people whom I'd care to have as friends, no matter how skilled or successful they are at turning a phrase or selling their books. When it comes to admiring an author, I can't separate who an author was or is as a person from what they achieved with their writing.

I also love that Lewis and Tolkien were friends over a long period of time and that they encouraged one another as writers and as men. What a great example for writers today. They were certainly not perfect men, but there is much about them that I deeply admire.

*What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?*
Just write. It may sound painfully obvious, but "writer's write." If you don't write, you'll never be a writer. There's no guarantee that what you write will be brilliant, but if you don't start, you'll certainly never go anywhere with those ideas in your head. If your story is really worth writing, start putting it down. And once you start, keep going. Write when you don't feel like writing. Write when you have no idea where the story is going. Just keep putting words on the page. You can always edit it later if it doesn't make sense.

Some of the best advice I ever read was a quote from Isaac Asimov. I can't remember where I saw it, but I'll paraphrase it here, "I only write when I'm inspired. And I make certain that I am inspired every morning at 9:00 am."

*What inspires you to write?*
Ha ha, speaking of inspiration...You know, this might sound absurd, but I actually decided to become an English major in college after watching the movie, "The Dead Poet's Society". Not something I'd advise for everybody, but I was stirred by the grandeur of all the great writers and the poetry highlighted in that film. It made me want to sink my teeth into the great works of literature, to read from authors who were not afraid to stare into the infinite and record what they saw, who were undaunted at the prospect of tackling the great themes of literature: love, loss, courage, hope, sacrifice, and redemption.

As I began to write, the echoes of a conversation which reportedly took place between Lewis & Tolkien often came to mind. Discussing literature, Lewis said to Tolkien, "You know, Tollers, there’s far too little of what we enjoy in stories...I’m afraid we’ll have to write them ourselves."

I sympathize with that perspective. I am not much drawn to the kinds of stories coming from the publishing world these days. They seem to me far too self-referential. What I mean by that is that even stories with fantastical elements and hints of the supernatural are often just stories about twenty-first century characters play-acting as if they lived in the future or the past or in a world with magic and trolls. They act like us, they think like us. It's all just window dressing. There are not enough of the "echoes of Elfland" in them, as Tolkien might say, not a real sense of the transcendent in much of these works.

Too often a story will pretend to take you to another world or time but really, you've gone no further than yesterday's news would have taken you. That may be fine for some folks, but I am seek a place where "the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise." (Return of the King) This longing for "other worlds" is a great inspiration for me because writing then becomes the means of getting there.

*What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself through

That a dream is worth sacrificing for. I tend to be rather laid back as a person and once I started writing and began realizing what was involved, it really challenged me. I thought to myself, "Is this really worth it?" And there are still plenty of moments of uncertainty, but you hit a wall, you
push through it and you keep going.

Paradoxically, after finishing the first novel, I also learned another lesson. I was so exhausted physically and mentally from all the late nights and wrangling with the text that I really had to step back and take some time off. This helped me realize that as important as a dream may be, it
can be damaging if you let it rule your life. So you need some balance. I learned to pace myself and be patient. Patience is extremely important as a writer. I thought of myself as a fairly patient person before, but I realize that I have a long way to go in this area. You may have heard of
the prayer, "Lord, grant me patience--just hurry!" That would probably reflect my attitude at times.

*Who has been the biggest influence on your writing? Why?*
Perhaps not surprisingly, Tolkien and Lewis. If you ever get the chance, read Tolkien's essay, "On Fairie Stories" and Lewis', "On Stories". Those two essays really crystallized my understanding of why stories are such a powerful means of communication. In addition to that, they really helped me see the importance of "otherworldliness" in stories. Before I read those essays, I had an idea about what I liked to read, but I did not have a strong grasp as to what made those stories so powerful. Lewis and Tolkien really showed me the way and laid down the path. I am simply trying to follow their lead as best I can.

*Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing

If I had to narrow it down to one specific person, it would probably be fellow author, Julius Agh. He's had a few short stories published and is still working on expanding his career, but the time and thoughtfulness which he has afforded my stories has been absolutely essential to getting
them out the door. Without him, I'm not sure I would have ever finished that first novel, honestly. It was such a motivating factor having someone whom I knew would be there to read and respond to my work. His support and encouragement really helped keep me going.

*How would you like to be remembered?*
Speaking as an author, I hope to be remembered as someone who helped shine a light on the truth. Because I believe that when people see that, they are drawn to it and challenged and hopefully changed. I hope people have a sense of appreciation for the stories themselves. That is where I hope the focus rests, not on me as a person.

It's my desire as a writer that a person would be better for having spent time in the stories I create. So often I have walked out of a movie theater thinking, "that was a waste of two hours of my life". It happens with books as well. Yes, you may have been entertained, perhaps even forgotten your problems for a time, but the characters in the story didn't challenge you in any way to think, "there is a better way--you could do better than this". I don't think stories have to "teach" per se, or have nice, compact messages, but they should show us glimpses of a better world, or of mankind struggling towards the light.

Of course along that journey, we may have to stare the evil inside of us straight in the eye, but there need to be some heroes who stand up to the darkness and overcome it. I mean, in literature we have these things called 'characters' after all and yet so few of the ones written today seem to
have any. If I didn't have that hope that my stories were in some way meant to make the world a better place then I would stop writing today. It's far too much work to be wasting my time on otherwise.

*What is the most fun thing about writing?*
Just the creative process. When you're writing about other worlds, you have to invent so much new stuff and that never ceases to excite me. I spend loads of time choosing names for characters, inventing names for things and places. I saw your post about inventing a board game for your novel and I think that is marvelous. I love doing stuff like that.

And describing what you see in your head is always a fun challenge. It's also a joy to watch your characters grow as they react to events and to the actions of other characters. Again, this is all part of the creative process--building and developing your story as you go.

Thank you, DJ, for your time and the thoughtfulness you put into your answers. Thanks for participating in Featured Artist Fridays!