01/31/15
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Beast of Maug Maurai Update (and Sample)

It’s been a long time coming, I know, and I apologize profusely. I am currently finishing the the third book in The Beast of Maug Maurai trilogy. My tentative release date is February 17, although looking at what has to be done still, that’s a bit optimistic. I do, however, want to have it released by the end of February, and I am very motivated to get it done. I might put it up for pre-order for February 29, 2015. Yeah, I know, not funny. Okay, but I’m not kidding about putting up for pre-order. That would ensure that I finish it on time. How does February 28 sound? (Edit: I had to push it back so I could make it available for pre-order. Release date is now March 10, but it will be available for pre-order very soon!)

To hold you over until then, or perhaps to tease you a bit, here’s an unedited passage from the manuscript. Enjoy! And thanks again for your continued support.

“You think it was the demons of CWNCR?” Drissdie muttered. “I heard the demons can look like trees. We shouldn’t be here, in the forest. No, we should just leave, d’you suppose?”

Lokk Lurius shoved saplings aside and stomped onward. He was never lost in a city. Cities made sense. Even the Outer Line cities of Eridia, with their cattle-path roads and winding alleyways. Cities were created by humans, and even the most twisted of settlements contained a logic that could be unraveled. Forests were unreasonable things. Twisted and purposeless. They were a disease. A crazed affliction of the land.

“I heard CWNCR is the gateway to the Dark Place,” Drissdie continued. “I heard Mundaaith himself travels through CWNCR when he comes to Celusia, d’you suppose? And that anyone in the forest when Mundaaith arrives dies. Just like that. Dead. Except I heard you get a lot of pain before you die. You fall and you feel the worst pain you ever felt. I know a lad, Frynn, he says that you stay in pain ‘til Mundaaith leaves the forest? I can’t think of nothing worse than that. You think you stay in pain for days? Wouldn’t you just die? I think you’d just die. No one could stay in that sort of pain for days, could they? You’d go mad, d’you suppose?”

Lokk Lurius spun in a slow circle, staring up into the thick canopy of Maug Maurai. How far had they gone from the camp? The imbecile had run for at least a mile. Only the sound of his sobs had allowed Lokk to find him. And when they walked back for a mile, the camp wasn’t there.

Unreasonable forest. A damned plague of the land.

“Do you think the others are dead?” Drisside rubbed his hands together, as if washing them. “Do you… do you think the demons got them?”

They had wandered for hours, shouting for the others. But the forest smothered shouts. Murdered sound.  And the campsite remained hidden from them. They were lost. Ridiculously lost. Frustratingly, unreasonably lost.

Lokk walked forward a dozen paces and listened for any sound of the squad.

Drissdie had sworn that he recognized a leaning feuryk tree. Had sworn he knew the way back. So Lokk had followed the fool for another mile in the wrong direction. Traveling one mile in the wrong direction was trouble in Maug Maurai. But two miles was a death sentence. If left alone for long enough, the two of them would eventually find their way out. But Lokk had heard enough to know that Maug Maurai never left you alone.

He should have let Drissdie run to his death.

The mercenary spun again in a slow circle, but the carpet moss was like a green mist, veiling the world in sameness. How did Sage find his way through this labyrinth? How did an Eridian mercenary find himself here, lost in a murderous Laraytian forest?

Drissdie Hannish.

The fool had doomed them both. A forest was the only enemy Lokk couldn’t kill. Drissdie Hannish had led him into a trap. An unreasonable ambush of grasping branches and slashing thorns.

“What do you think the trees were firing at us? I think it was snot. Frynn says demons can cover you in snot to keep you from moving. You think they were trying to capture us? So they could bring us to CWNCR, d’you suppose? Maybe they—”

Drissdie inhaled his next words as Lokk grabbed him with both hands and snarled.

†††

The two soldiers plodded silently through the endless maze of Maug Maurai. Lokk wore a scowl that grew more profound with each crackling footstep. And Drissdie Hannish wore a gag.

They waded through a wide stream, plodding for several hundred paces to avoid a long line of sinister brambles. When they returned to land, it was to clamber over a fallen oak more than ten feet thick.  A hundred paces past the tree, Drissdie made a series of word-shaped moans.

“Take it off again,” Lokk replied, “and I’ll have your tongue.”

Drissdie’s moans grew louder. He jabbed a finger toward the left again and again.

“If the word demon or snot comes out of your mouth,” Lokk said, “I will cut you into strips.”

Drissdie shook his head, looked toward the left and jabbed his finger again.

Lokk yanked the leather gag—made from Drissdie’s tabard—away from the young soldier’s mouth.

“We walked past that tree, d’you suppose? There was a black bird in it. Remember? It had a yellow beak. Really pretty. I remember. It was sitting on that branch, d’you suppose?”

Lokk studied the tree and shook his head. “Different tree. Put the gag back on.”

“Maybe…maybe we should just stay here, d’you suppose? Until the others find us?”

Lokk took a long breath, ran a fist over his brows. “No one is going to find us.” He turned to face Drissdie. “We are miles from anyone, in a forest that kills people.” He took a step toward the young soldier. “No one will hear us. No one will see us.” He took hold of Drissdie’s tabard again and pulled the soldier close, their faces inches apart. “Maybe I’ll just kill you now,” he snarled. “Save you the misery of being eaten. Because we’re on our own.” He shook Drissdie and the young soldier’s helm tumbled off and thumped on the moss. “Do you understand? No one is going to find us! No one!

A voice called from the forest. “Oi! Someone there?”

Drissdie and Lokk—faces still inches apart—turned to look. A hulking shape crashed through a laurel patch.

“Found you,” said Black Murrogar. “Where are the others?”

01/25/15
EmaculumPrint

Emaculum Print Book Now Available!

Hi everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know that the Emaculum print book is now available! At the time of this writing, it’s only available from CreateSpace. It will be available on Amazon in a few days, but if you want to get it now, please use this link.

I don’t make a lot on the print copies, but I think I actually get a little more money from the CreateSpace copies, so even when they are available on Amazon, I’d be grateful if you bought them from the link above.

Apologies that it took so long to get these printed. I’ll be offering a few signed copies for sale ($20) in the next few days, so contact me if you want to get your name on the list!

Thanks again for all of your wonderful support. And stay tuned for some more news next week.

 

11/6/14
ZTales_Final_Ebook

The Mightiest God

Hey everyone.  I will have some exciting news on the Scourge trilogy in the next few days, but for now I want to talk about a new short story of mine, published as part of The Fairfield Scribes horror anthology: Z: Tales from the Zombieverse.

Some of you know the story of The Scourge. It was once a short story that was supposed to appear in the above-mentioned anthology. But 47North asked me to turn it into a novel, which I did. So I wrote another short story, and you can find that one in its rightful place: Z: Tales from the Zombieverse.

Z is an anthology written by people who have fought by my side, some for more than five years. We have slogged through the battlefield of our literary struggle. We have stood shoulder to shoulder in the skirmish against mediocrity. We have shed blood and ink together and I consider them not friends, but brothers and sisters. I ask all of you to buy this anthology, if not to read my short story, then to honor the bond that I share with these writers. For many of them, this is their first published piece, but they have honed their skills for years. The anthology is the result of three years of work, and encompasses a wide range of genres, from science fiction to fantasy, to historical fantasy, contemporary literature, and even a children’s story (um. Sort of.).

My story, The Mightiest God takes place during the first Crusades, in the Muslim city of Ma’arra. An undermanned garrison of hungry Norman soldiers tries to keep order in a city of angry Muslims. Below is an excerpt from the story.

 

We were hungry when we captured the city of Maara, so we didn’t bury the bodies of our enemies. A group of us dragged the corpses into piles and left them there, bleeding and limp like carcasses at a slaughterhouse. Our commanders didn’t give us much guidance; they were too busy arguing among themselves over who would get to keep the city. I think we were supposed to give Maara to the Greeks in Byzantium, but nobody was doing what they were supposed to in that Holy War. So we stacked the broken bodies and listened to the rumble in our stomachs and didn’t talk about the link between those two things.

I am called Ancel of Brionne and I’m from Normandy. Ten years ago, in the year 1097, I was told I would be forgiven of all sins if I fought against the Muslims. That I would have eternal salvation if I marched on the Holy Land. There aren’t many things that would have brought me to that mad, scorching, filthy place, but I needed forgiveness. So I went. I waged war in hell so I could find peace in Heaven. But once you’ve seen Hell, you have lost peace forever.

Hell crawls under your eyelids so you can’t even blink without reliving the horrors. What good is eternal salvation if the devil haunts your dreams for eternity?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. After what happened in Maara, none of us deserve to go to Heaven. God took his light from us that day. It’s been ten years, and I can hear Death’s footsteps in the evening silence. I try to hide from him, because I know where he will take me. He will take me to Maara, and I will be shackled there for eternity.

I remember Thomas of Moyon holding a Muslim corpse in his arms that cool winter’s day in 1098.

“I’m dancing with the devil!”

He dragged the corpse back and forth across the cobblestones. Thomas was always odd, but I think he went mad during the siege of Antioch. The other soldiers of my company watched him dance, there in Maara, and laughed. They thought he was trying to be funny.

An ancient, white-bearded pagan, crying beside one of the bodies, shouted at Thomas in a dirty, furious French. “You no! You no! The punishment will punish you, my friends! The punishment will punish you!”

The soldiers laughed at the man and mocked him. “The punishment will punish us! Mon dieu! The punishment will punish us, my friends!”

Thomas danced closer to the old man, swung the carcass at him so one of the cold hands struck the man’s face. “I’m dancing with the devil, grand pere! I’m dancing with the devil!”

“You’ll be dancing with me if you don’t put that body down.” Sergeant Alain said it without raising his voice. Some sergeants shout every word. Like they’ve forgotten how to speak normally. Sergeant Alain hardly ever shouts, but soldiers always listen.

“One dance at a time, sergeant,” Thomas called back. “There is only so much of me.”

The sergeant touched the hilt of his dagger and took a step toward Thomas. “There’ll be a lot less of you, soon.”

Even madmen listen to Sergeant Alain.

The body fell to the cobblestones with an empty clunk and Thomas danced by himself for a time. One of the other soldiers whistled and Thomas pranced like a girl and giggled. The men whooped and laughed and tugged at his trousers and Thomas pretended to bat them away. It was the first time I’d heard laughter since we reached Maara.

The siege had lasted two weeks, which isn’t a long time for a siege unless you have no food. The Muslim warlord Arslan burned all of the fields and orchards around the city and we had just about run out of supplies on our way down from Antioch. The hunger was like a venom. We shivered and clutched at our roaring stomachs and tortured ourselves with talk of suckling pigs and venison. Every soldier was given a half-cup of broth each day. Some of the men supplemented this with cut-up leather straps. I tried it once but the briny, swollen thickness nearly made me retch. Sometimes someone caught a locust and there would be a fight. After eating leather straps you can shove a writhing locust into your mouth and smile. We were Christians and we were fighting Muslims but I say to you, the mightiest religion on this earth is Hunger. There isn’t a soul alive that doesn’t bow to her.

Interested? Then pick up a copy of Z: Tales from the Zombieverse and let other know about this wonderful new anthology.

I’ll be back soon, with news about the Scourge trilogy!

 

 

11/5/14
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Movember!

Day 4. Not much different than an average facial hair day for me at this point.

Hey everyone. Just a quick note to ask for charitable donations to the Movember Foundation. I’ll be growing a crazy mustache in November to raise awareness for men’s health issues (men’s cancers, mental health, etc.). In return, you will donate $1 or $5 or $100 or $10,000 to the Movember Foundation. (Um…please?) I’m part of a team called The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Writers, and you can find us here:

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Writers

I’m the team leader, and I’m being shamed by lack of donations, so please make me look better (because the trucker-stache certainly wont. I’ll start posting more pics of the stash as it grows in.

Until then, any suggestions on what type of mustache I should have? I’m leaning toward a long, trucker-stache with a soul patch, but if someone has a better idea, post it in the comments below. And, if anyone donates $100 or more, that person can decide what style I will wear (within reason and my physical ability to grow it). Thanks! And, HAPPY MOVEMBER.

 

10/14/14
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Comic Con – Sunday (and Book Signing!)

 Hello peoples,

Sunday was another exhausting but amazing day at the Jacob Javitz Center. As promised, Belle and I donned our Edward and Elizabeth costumes and paraded around the conference. I also did my book signing in armor, which is not as easy as it sounds. And what a wonderful book signing it was. We gave away 50 copies of the The Scourge to 50 of the coolest people on the planet. Big Thanks to Courtney Miller of Skyscape for running the signing and making sure everything went smoothly (and humorously). Thanks to Ben from 47North for making the entire event happen, Britt for organizing it, Alex for supervising and being a wonderful human, and Justin for everything else. Oh, and a *huge* dollop of gratitude to Preston Ray, owner of the armor I was wearing. He was kind enough let me carry off his $2000 baby to New York without a second thought. Thanks!

Things I learned:

1. Wearing armor for three hours is not as fun as it might seem.
2. Signing books in armor is tricky.
3. There are some mentally deranged people at Comic Con.
4. I am one of those mentally deranged people.
5.  Parking in New York is ridiculous.
6. Breastplates look similar from the front and back.
7. Never buy a pretzel from a roadside vendor.
8. Fed-Ex Kinkos has got your back when you need last minute printing.
9. Did I mention the mentally deranged people at Comic Con?

And now, a gallery of images from my signing and the madness that is Comic Con.

 

10/12/14

New York Comic Con – Saturday

Comic Con! I met up with 47North’s awesome booth crew–Britt, Ben, Alex and Justin– and did some catching up with Michael Underwood, author of the blindingly creative fantasy novel, Shield and Crocus. And we walked. And walked. And walked. And bought a $10 personal pizza. And walked some more.

I saw a great number of awe-inspiring, shocking, beautiful, amusing and horrifying sites, as you do at Comic Con. I figured I would roll out some of the photos for all of you, in the name of amusement and posterity. They are down below, if you’re interested. Otherwise, we will be back at the Jacob Javitz Center tomorrow for another day in the geekular dimension. Oh, and I suppose I should sign some books too. If you’re at the Con, stop by at noon to get a free, signed copy of The Scourge.

 

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09/20/14
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New York Comic Con

Hello, peoples of the world. Just a quick note to let you all know that I will be at New York Comic Con this year (October 9-12). Please stop by the Amazon Publishing/47North booth on Sunday, October 12, at high noon, for an old fashioned book-signing! I’ll be signing copies of The Scourge and waxing philosophical about knights, swords, history and why supermarkets put the freshest and softest Twizzlers at the back. But the signing is only for 30 minutes, so get there by 1230!

Hope to see all of you there!