Episode 5 Already?

Only three more episodes of The Scourge. Is it really almost over? I’m just getting used to this serials lifestyle. It can’t stop now! Well, if all works out, it won’t. But this first book of The Scourge has been an absolute joy to write. I have talked with many of The Scourge’s readers, and their input and suggestions have been invaluable. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to receive positive feedback while the story progresses. I can’t imagine writing any other way now.

So, on to today’s topic!


Sir Thomas’s gun collection would have been priceless in his day, and unimaginably precious today. Culverins, hand-cannons, fire-lances — all of these are rare remnants from the shaky first steps of firearms history in Europe. Whatever you feel about guns today (and being from Sandy Hook, I have a lot of opinions on the matter), they are a part of history. And they would have been a growing part of life for 14th century warriors. I figured I would paste a few images from the web that might give you a better idea of what these crude cannons looked like.

A 14th Century Hand Cannon. With weird little white hand on the barrel. Odd.

Above is sort of what I pictured for the Spanish hand cannon that the Moor, Zhuri, gave to Sir Thomas.  A metal cylinder fitted onto a wooden “stock.” It’s elegant but lethal looking. Just the fashion statement for the 14th century soldier looking to accessorize. And make holes in people.


A late 14th century hand bombard. That barrel is bigger than Tristan’s mouth.

The weapon above is different than the hand cannon. It’s a bombard. Note the shorter cylinder and longer wooden ‘stock.’ Also note the heavy counterweight on the end of the stock and the sheer “punch-you-in-the-faceness” of this weapon, which leads us to:


A ten-shot hand bombard. ’nuff said.

Yeah. Nothing says goodbye quite like ten slugs of iron blasting from one barrel. As Scarface once opined, “Say hallo to my little friend.”

You can see why Tristan falls in love with this weapon. How can you not? This would be an invaluable asset when confronted by a swarm of medieval zombies, no? Not saying such a situation occurs in the book. Just pointing out that it would be useful. That’s all. But if such a situation *did* arise, I’m sure it would be Tristan holding this masterpiece. ;)

That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed episode 5. Looking forward to your thoughts on the last three episodes.




Episode 4 Released – Quick Facts

***This post may contain minor episode 4 spoilers, so you might want to read the episode in full before continuing. ***

Episode 4 of The Scourge dropped on Monday night! Hope all of you received the update. Please let me know what you think once you have read it. It helps a lot to have your feedback, both positive and constructive. And if you have enjoyed the book thus far, I would be grateful for any positive reviews on The Scourge Amazon page.

In case any of you are curious about some of the subjects covered in episode 4, I thought I would share some interesting facts that I discovered during my research. I’ll release one topic per post for a few posts.

Today, bears.

“Why is Edward so scared of a Bear?” Yeah. This is why.

  1. Some adult bears reach ten feet in length and five feet in shoulder height.
  2. Bears can weigh between 220 and 1,400 pounds. (Yes, they can weigh so much, you need a comma in the number) And for our European friends, that’s 100 – 635 kg.
  3. To give you a little perspective on that last number: A fully loaded mini-cooper weighs about 2,500 lbs. So, a fully grown brown bear can weigh two-thirds as much as a mini-cooper. Now, imagine two-thirds of a mini-cooper leaping and slamming into you. Okay, the analogy kind of sucks. But bears are damn heavy.
In my next post, I’ll talk about relics and make terrible Smart Cart analogies.




Guest Post – Preston Ray – Newtown, Connecticut

Hi everybody. My good friend and fellow writer, Preston Ray, lives in Sandy Hook, as do I. Anyone who lives here has been shattered by what happened in our town. There is no escape from the emotional impact. I am not yet ready to put my thoughts to paper silicone.But Preston sent me an eloquent reaction to the event and to the tragedy tourists that seem to have invaded our home. I am proud to publish his sentiments.

An open letter to the gentleman taking pictures yesterday in Newtown
By Preston Ray

Yesterday you were here, with the out of state plates on your car. Taking pictures on your cell phone like this town’s pain was a tourist attraction. I fancifully wondered if you were going to buy a Christmas tree while you were in the area. (Maybe on Christmas day while gathered around the tree celebrating peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind you will show those pictures to your loved ones and brag about how you took the trip here?)

You should not think of what happened as my town. That tragedy is not Newtown.

If you came to visit me in Sandy Hook, you would see that Newtown is where I can take you to the CH Booth library and show you all the historical exhibits. Where you can buy a rubber duck at a local Lions club charity event and cheer as it “races” against others down a stream.

The Annual Sandy Hook Ducky Race, for Charity

You can go to the huge flagpole in the middle of the biggest intersection in town where we proudly fly the American flag (and ever since a car hit it in the late 70s we argue back and forth if we need to mar the sight by having traffic lights installed there).

The (in)Famous Newtown Flagpole

Where you can go out to Rams Pasture and watch the annual lighting of the holiday tree. Where for two dollars (and there was a lot of angst when it had to go up from one dollar) you can watch a movie in the town hall on Saturday night.

You could go out on a boat across Lake Zoar (because almost every time we have visitors, one of our neighbors who owns a boat offers to take us out) and hear my neighbor and me debate if the fries are better at Burgeritoville or the Lake Zoar Drive In (Lake Zoar Drive In of course!). Or come along as I take my dog for a walk down to the lake or over to the Paugusset State forest.   We’d have to stop, tho, if any of the neighborhood children, some of whom attend Sandy Hook Elementary School, want to say hello and pet the dog…because even though they probably won’t remember my name I guarantee you they’ll remember the dog’s). You might get your hair cut at the local barbershop and listen to the men joke about how the (mostly…even now in the 21st century) women organizing children’s trick-or-treating on Main Street show a level of strategy and tactical execution that would shame the generals who planned the invasion of Normandy.

Lake Zoar Drive-in.

Our First Selectwoman (because we don’t have a mayor, we have a First Selectperson, that’s how we roll in this New England town, homies…) Patricia Llodra has said, “We are a strong and caring place… we will find a way to heal.” And she is right. We will find ways to support the people who are supporting those who are hurt the most. The town of Monroe has opened up Chalk Hill School for us and I am sure in the days to come the neighboring towns will be there for us just as we have always been there for each other in the past. Connecticut and America will be there for us. Even from places as far away as Brazil, Baghdad and Estonia people are reaching out to express their support and compassion. So I know we will come together as a community and with the help of the world, come back.  Not better, but wiser and stronger.  So when you’re home and looking at the pictures you took on your cell phone, that’s how you should think of us in Newtown.




The Scourge launched today. I am excited and thrilled and a little sentimental. I feel like I’ve given birth. Triplets. Edward, Tristan and Morgan. They’ve been a part of me for so much of these last months. It’s an anxious time letting them out into the world, to breathe and take their first steps.

If you read their story, I hope you enjoy it as much as I am enjoying the writing of it. If you have any positive thoughts on the tale and want to express them, I welcome comments, and welcome positive reviews on Amazon even more. If you have negative thoughts on it, please go away. Kidding. If something about the story bothers you, or if you think something can be improved, please let me know. As writers, our journey never ends. We must always seek to be better, go higher. And the next stair-step in our eternal climb can come from anyone.

For those of you who have bought The Scourge, or are planning to buy it, I thank you. Just as writing is a never-ending journey, so is it a lonely one. And only when others read our work does the loneliness of it fade.

Here’s to Edward, Tristan and Morgan. Happy birthday, guys.



The eBook Marketing Saga – Free Giveaway Conclusion

Okay, so a day after the end of my Free Promo Days and where do I stand?

Well, my ranking has fallen back into the ranks of the unwashed. I have no more free rankings because my book is no longer free. I went from superstar celebrity to American Idol reject-clip in one day. So what was the purpose to all of it? Why did I give my book away for free?

Well, there are rumblings of positive things. I had a bunch of sales yesterday and today. My sales had fallen disastrously before I did the Free Promo, so to see sales come in, no matter how few, is a good thing and seems to indicate that, for reason unknown to me, the Promo helped. I am a little puzzled as to exactly why it’s helping, but it is.

I do have some ideas about how the promo days helped. Yes, my book has fallen back down in the rankings, but not down to the Imperial trash compactor that I started from. So perhaps the novel is a little more visible and so more people are getting a chance to buy it. Or maybe it’s because Venus is in retrograde. Or perhaps someone went back in time and stepped on a butterfly. I don’t know. But something has changed for the better.

“Oh, that’s just great. I’ve created a future in which Roberto Calas will have more sales.”

Another theory I have is that, of the eight hundred people who downloaded my novel for free, a handful might have told others about it. There has to be *some* buzz when eight hundred people do something, doesn’t there? I hope this will continue into next week when I release Book II of the Beast of Maug Maurai. If not, I’ll have to go back in time and find more butterflies.



The eBook Marketing Saga – Free Giveaway, Day 2

Okay, so on the second day of my free ebook promo on the Kindle store, things slowed down a little. Not that I didn’t have a great run. On the contrary, my current numbers are more than I could have hoped for. Have a look:

Free Downloads so far: 684
Amazon Ranking in Free Category:  394  (out of 51,549)
Amazon Ranking in Epic Fantasy: 6 (out of 9,328)

Awesome, no? Well, yeah, but my downloads are coming more slowly today. I was getting about five or ten downloads (or so) a minute yesterday and today I am getting one download every five or ten minutes. I think I may have slipped off someone’s list somewhere or something. Or maybe Jeff Bezos figured out that I was the one who blew up his mailbox in 1989. 

Sorry Jeff. I was young and, for some inexplicable reason,
in California where I assume you lived at the time.

Or maybe this is the normal run of things, I don’t know. But I don’t seem to be climbing in ranks anymore. I wonder if it’s best to have only one day free promotions. The second day hasn’t done much at all, although I suppose the continued downloads have kept me from slipping down on the lists. 

These are just philisophical ruminations though. The free promo has done its work. My book now comes up high in the epic fantasy category (#6) and comes up at the top of the second page in the general fantasy category (#21) Nearly 700 people have downloaded my book, so hopefully that means some reviews are coming. And hopefully a couple of them will be good ones ;)

I also hope that there will be some word of mouth generating sales. I wonder if those 700 people read that fine print that said the book was free for one day only and that if they kept it longer, they would receive a bill for $10? (I kid. I kid.)

If Connecticut can retroactively tax me,
then it should be fine for me to  retroactively
charge people for my free Ebook, no?   

So, now what? Well, I continue writing, that’s what. I don’t ever want to forget that writing is the ultimate goal. All of this marketing stuff is important, but the most important thing for me is to continue producing material. To continue bettering my writing (see? What kind of crappy sentence is that?).  And possibly to run with the bulls in Pamplona one day. How cool would that be? Ten tons of beef chasing down the streets of … ahem. 

Writing. Must keep writing.