Peers out from under the covers…

Yeah, no updates for a bit. My apologies. Life’s been a bit of storm these last couple of months, so I’ve been clinging to driftwood and trying to stay afloat. Just wanted to give a quick update on a few things…

Emaculum Audio Book

First and foremost, I wanted to announce that, after a year of false starts, Emaculum (book three of The Scourge) will be getting an audio version (finally!). Those who follow me are probably aware that I had some problems with deadlines with the first voice actor. It became so frustrating that I was actually thinking of doing it myself, but I have no recording equipment and I don’t have the time right now to learn how to do it properly (30 hours at the very least to record and edit it). I was despairing about the situation when the captain of my Street Team (The Knights of Calas) stepped up in an *epic* way and told me he would do it. And so, I present to you, Lynn Roberts, knight of Calas and hero of the Emaculum audio book! I’ll have a separate post about Lynn and his journey into audiobook recording soon. He’s great with accents, but he will be reading the book without an English accent. It might be a bit surprising when you first start listening, but I’m sure his powerful voice will get you into the story right away.

The Madness of Valatriste

I have 30 pages left to write in my current work in progress. Tentatively titled The Madness of Valatriste. It’s a fantasy with Spanish and French flavorings, lots of dueling, and a main character that is sanity-challenged. I’m having a great time writing it, but it has become a bit epic. I’ll have this one sorted soon and hopefully have my agent sell it to someone early next year.

Tristan Novella

The promised Tristan novella will be the next thing I work on, barring contractual obligations. Sorry for the delay on this one!

Viral Marketing?

So, someone put together a few graphics for The Scourge trilogy–just images with quotes from the books on them. If you are so inclined, feel free to paste them around on the internet for some viral type marketing. Just click through for the full-size version if you need it. If people pin them to Pinterest/Instagram/Facebook and such, they might gain some traction and help with the books. I appreciate any sharing of these!

As always, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or drop me an email. I’ll be back soon with some more updates and interviews. Thanks again for your support!



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!



Pausing from Emaculum …

. . . just a quick pause to tell everyone that I am still alive and still working on Emaculum, and to re-circulate an old interview I did for Melissa Olsen’s blog. Oh, and, hello!

Melissa Olsen: What’s the story behind the picture of you in a suit of armor?

Armor is actually making a comeback. It’s very popular in Venice and Paris. I expect that you’ll start seeing more and more of it in the U.S. very soon. The main problem is trying to accessorize in social situations. Do you use a full-jaw bevor for dinner with people you just met? Is a besegew appropriate for the theater? You really have to change your thinking, but I think it’s worth it. The reduction in violent crime alone is a great reason to try it.


Melissa Olsen: Do you read your reviews? Why or why not?

I’m fairly certain this woman has reviewed my book.

Yes. I read every one.  I think most writers are insecure. We crave positive feedback, thrive on it really. The negative stuff is awful, of course. I can stew over a negative review for days. But hopefully the really negative ones are few and far between. And I have come to realize that reviews reveal more about the people that write them than about the book itself.

I once read two reviews, back to back. One of them said that they loved that book, but that it wasn’t very fast paced. The other said that they liked it, but the pacing was too fast. Back to back. One after the other. I’ve also read reviews that say my story had too much description, and then a review that said the sparse descriptions weren’t enough. Oh, and there are the *really* weird ones. Ones where the reader writes two pages worth of hateful rants and insults me and my writing and everything about the book. When I read those, I think that surely I must have done something awful to them in real life. I mean, why else would they be so angry over a book? Luckily I don’t get many of those.

Melissa Olsen: Your novel The Scourge is about a zombie-like plague that spreads in the 14th century. How much were you influenced by the real-life Black Death?
I love the Middle Ages and I have since I was a child. When I decided to write a zombie story, I knew it had to be a medieval one. From there, it was an easy leap to the idea that any epidemic in the 14th century would have been compared to the plague. And though this new plague and the horrors it creates is a big part of the novel, the story is really about a knight who wants to find his wife, and the friends who are willing to risk their lives to help him. There is a lot of humor, a lot of emotion, and, yes, a lot of violence. But the medieval age was a violent time. The zombies (they are called ‘plaguers’ or ‘demons’ in the novel) are just another obstacle. Something that makes it more difficult for Sir Edward to find the woman he loves. There is quite a bit of religious symbolism in the book, and the zombies are also a big part of that.

Melissa Olsen: What’s your favorite place to work? What’s most likely to distract you (besides Facebook)?

My favorite place to work is on my glass desk, which faces a wall but has windows on either side. I am terribly easy to distract, so I have to make rules and goals for myself. I am not particularly good at sticking with those rules or meeting those goals, though. Which is why writing serials is a good thing for me. There are set deadlines for each episode. Deadlines I have to meet or everyone will hate me and I will have no friends (remember that thing I said about writers and insecurities?). The Internet is the greatest tool we writers have, and it is also our biggest downfall. It has boundless powers of information, and limitless ability to lure us away, like will-o-wisps. I spend a lot of time wandering the dark forest of cyberspace, chasing lights.

Melissa Olsen: What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

There have been a lot of scenes that I really enjoyed. Some of my favorites have to do with Tristan and Morgan, two characters who are complete opposites in ideology. There was a scene in The Scourge where a peddler is trying to trade holy relics for a horse. Morgan is overwhelmed by the thought of owning a relic and Tristan makes fun of him for it throughout the rest of the book. There is one relic in particular that Morgan traded for that caused great mirth in Tristan, and led to one of my favorite lines in the book. A lot of readers tell me they like that part too.

Another fun scene involves a mad king trying to force Tristan to put his hand into a vat of boiling oil. There’s a lot of tension in it, and we see Tristan’s humor fall away. You really get to see a different side to Tristan, who is usually laughing. I think those types of scenes, where the characters’ personalities really shine, are some of the most fun to write. But one of my all time favorite scenes is in episode 8 of the second book, The Scourge: Nostrum. Edward and Tristan are trying to escape from a tower cellar and their only option is a bit unsavory. Hilarity ensues.


Melissa Olsen: Someone recently asked me what character, from screen or page, I would most like to have dinner with. This became a surprisingly difficult question – apparently I like a lot of antiheroes. Who would you pick to share a meal?

That is a difficult question. There are a lot of historical figures I would love to have dinner with. Sir Edward Dallingridge, hero of The Scourge, would be the first. Edward, the Black Prince of England would be another. And William Marshall, a 12th century earl. Joan of Arc. Henry V, of course. And Eleanor of Aquitaine. Lots of people in history.

Okay, I’ve thought about it a bit. I would probably most like to have dinner with Tyrion, from George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire series). He’s a little man with a huge brain and one of the funniest characters I have read. I’d also love to meet Captain Malcolm Reynolds, from Firefly (huge fan). Paul Atreides, from Dune. And, of course, Sir Tristan of Rye, from The Scourge.

Melissa Olsen: What kind of medieval weaponry are you best with?

I suppose I’m a sword guy. I have fenced for twenty five years, seven of those years quite seriously and competitively. And I spar occasionally with broadswords. I used to own a company that sold reproductions of historical weapons and armor, so I’ve done my share of stupid things with all manner of medieval steel. But the sword is the heart of the medieval tale. And there’s no weapon quite like it.

That’s the entirety of the interview. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back soon, promise!



New Short Story: Wages of Sin

Hi everyone. On the heels of my Kickstarter announcement and sample pages from THE SCOURGE: EMACULUM yesterday, I get to talk about something that I have been sitting on for months. My short story, THE WAGES OF SIN, is being published by StoryFront, Amazon’s new short-fiction imprint and is available for just 99 cents.

The story is technically classified as a historical fiction (more on that below). Here’s the description:

The haunting story of a man in fourteenth-century England who exists in the moral hinterland between life and death.

Francis, stricken by the plague, is absolved of his sins by a priest and pronounced dead. But when he inexplicably comes back to life, his friends and family see him as an abomination without a soul. He is chased from his village and begins a new life doling out deadly justice on behalf of a vengeful bishop. Francis is a man more dead than alive until a beguiling woman in an alehouse cuts through the numbness. Alicia is a highborn redhead who brings light to his darkness and makes him question everything he believes.

The Wages of Sin by Roberto Calas examines the often blurry line between right and wrong, and love’s remarkable ability to bring us back to life.

The story is very loosely tied in to the stories of THE SCOURGE trilogy. If you read it, see if you can spot the subtle connections.

Thanks again for all of your support! One more announcement coming up this week. I’ll give details on that one tomorrow.



The Scourge: Emaculum Kickstarter (and a sample)!

Many of you have already gotten the news, but for those that have not, 47North will not be publishing book 3 of the Scourge. I will be self-publishing the novel. This is actually a good thing in many ways. I get full creative control and I will make more money per unit sold. But it is also a challenge in some ways: I have to hire my own editors and pay for my own publicity. So, to try and raise money for those costs, I have started a Kickstarter campaign.

If you haven’t heard of Kickstarter, it’s a website that lets others invest in a project you are working on. Backers pledge a certain amount of money for the project and, in return, the backers get rewards according to the amount the have pledged. It’s a win-win for both sides. Some of the rewards include signed copies of my books, a mention in the acknowledgements, a character named after you, you even have a chance to be my patron and have the book dedicated to you. And if the campaign is successful, it will lead to the publication of the third and final book in The Scourge trilogy. And what a book it will be! I’ll have a teaser for it down below. But before I get to that, here’s the link to the project (complete with the self-conscious, badly cut, deer-in-the-headlights video that I did for the Kickstarter campaign) (may I never have to make another video again).

If everyone who has read my books donates even $1, I’ll have enough to cover my costs tenfold. But if you can’t pledge (and I know very well what that’s like), feel free to spread the word about the campaign. The more people you tell, the more chance of the book getting published at the same quality as the other two in the series. Every bit helps.

I have started writing the book already and I honestly believe that it will be the best of the trilogy. The writing is flowing. Edward is leading me and I am merely documenting the journey. I’m really excited about The Scourge: Emaculum, and hopefully you will be too. I’ve included an unedited teaser of the first three pages or so (sign up for my newsletter and you will receive the entire first chapter in the next week or so). It may change in the process, hopefully you’ll enjoy this snippet of what I have written.

Men will follow anyone.

I have watched fools lead battalions, and cowards command armies. I have met lecherous bishops who guide flocks upon the paths of morality, and madmen who rule entire kingdoms. And I have learned, in my days upon this earth, that it is not the wisest or bravest or even the most sensible who lead; it is the loudest.

And Sir Gerald of Thunresleam is a loud enough to wake the dead.

His mad shouts echo through the sparse forest. “No!” he screams. “In a line! Stay in a line!”

Sir Tristan and I pause at an ivy-draped alder to recover. I unsling the leather sack that hangs from my shoulder and Tristan does the same. Each breath I take sears my lungs, echoes in my helm. I am too old to be running in armor. Hounds howl and the deep thud of hoof-beats rings out behind us. The rain creates applause on the leaves above.

“Tell . . .  tell me that lovely story again, Edward,” Sir Tristan pants as he speaks, one hand on his thigh, the other holding a crossbow against his shoulder. “You had a . . . a cannon pointed at Gerald . . . a flame . . . inches from the touch-hole. I . . . I forget the next part. Tell me again what you did?”

I take great gulps of air and grunt at Tristan. He knows what I did; I lowered the cannon and let Gerald escape. I have run from Sir Gerald from the time his master, Sir John of Muckinge, died in battle. Sir John was torn apart by the mindless victims of this new plague that has rotted England. I suppose Sir John’s death is my fault – I led the plaguers to the battlefield where he died – but neither apologies nor denials will sate Sir Gerald’s lunatic thirst for revenge. The madman has tried to kill me more times than I care to recall, and when I had him in my power, I let him go.

Sir Gerald does not seem to appreciate my act of mercy.

Tristan and I left St. Benet’s Abbey two days after capturing it, and we caught sight of our pursuers after less than three miles of traveling. Ten horsemen and two dozen footmen appeared on the horizon, every one of them sworn to Sir Gerald.

Men will follow anyone.

Father Aubrey, a priest back home, once told me that men are like wolves. He said we hunt in packs so we can slaughter more lambs, and the man with the loudest howl leads us all. I smiled and asked if women were the lambs in his metaphor. A peculiar look came over him as he shook his head.

“No,” he replied. “A woman is the hunger that burns in the belly of the wolf. The hunger that makes him slaughter the lamb.”

Father Aubrey is a strange man.

My woman, Elizabeth, lies plagued in the cathedral of Saint Edmund’s Bury, and my belly rages with hunger for her. I have slaughtered an uncountable number of innocent lambs while trying to get her back, and I fear there will be more butchery before my journey is done.

Sir Gerald will be the first on that butcher’s block.

A stocky man in ring mail and a flat-topped nasal helm stumbles through shrubs and draws up only a few feet away. His eyes grow wide when he sees us. “They’re here!” He draws his sword. “Sir Gerald, I have them! They’re—”  Tristan’s dagger catches the man in the throat and the shout becomes a gurgle. My sigh is a hiss inside the great helm.

Sir Gerald will have to be the second on the butcher’s block.

The man’s body relaxes and Tristan lets it fall to the sodden earth. I notice a red ribbon tied around the soldier’s arm, his lady’s favor. A sign of the hunger that burned in this man’s stomach.  But this wolf will slaughter no more lambs.

The wailing of hounds grows louder from the east. Horsemen bob through the trees. The footmen crack branches with their footfalls and shuffle through dead leaves.

Tristan cleans the blade of his dagger on the red ribbon. He squints at the oncoming men and tries to smile. “I hear the west side of the forest is lovely this time of year.”

I take a last look at the dead man, sling my shoulder sack, and lurch westward through the forest. Cold water from the wet leaves sprays my cheeks through the air holes in my helm. I shove at the grasping branches with my shield. We cannot outrun our pursuers forever. I wonder how Sir Gerald will kill us. On our last meeting, he threatened to skin us like rabbits and piss on our pulp. He may be mad but he is creative in his madness.

I glance back at Tristan and think of all the times I have put his life in danger. Death’s skeletal fingers have brushed our shoulders too many times to count, but today I can feel his bony hand on my throat. Tristan sees me looking and blows a kiss, then picks up his pace so he is directly behind me.

Men will follow anyone.


If there’s any man I would follow, it’s Sir Edward Dallingridge. Thanks very much for your continued support. Let’s get Edward back to his Lady Elizabeth!


Cover Reveals: Scourge and Scourge: Nostrum

Hey there,

So, big news on the artistic side of things. 47North has given me two birthday presents on this fine June 11. They finalized the cover for The Scourge:Nostrum (Book 2 of The Scourge), and they have re-released The Scourge (book 1) with a brand new cover. Can I just say that 47North is the best publisher in the world? Yes I can! And I will! They worked with me tirelessly on the Nostrum cover, accepting suggestions and re-designing over and over again until we reached something that both the publisher and I liked. Big thanks to my editor, David Pomerico, for his tireless work on this.

First up, The Scourge: Nostrum (release date June 18):

This cover clearly shows what the book is about. The knight in the foreground is, ostensibly, Edward. Nice dynamic pose with suitably battered and weathered armor. Flailing hands in the background indicate to the viewer that this is not a typical historical fiction. Blood-spattered environment tells readers that this might have some gore and violence. The helmet on the knight is not a greathelm, but I think we can live with it. I can, at any rate =)





The Scourge (book 1) underwent a facelift as well. Those of you with the print version might notice that the background image for this is basically the same artwork from the back cover. Although I truly love the first cover, and prefer it artistically to this one, this design has a certain elegance and mood that I like. The cover also clearly depicts what the book is about: Three knights on a journey, with supernatural enemies standing between them and their destination. I think this will more clearly define the book for shoppers and steer the novel into the hands of the people who will love it most.

Big thanks to everyone at 47North!







Scourge: Nostrum
Available for Pre-Order

Just a quick note to let you know that the Scourge: Nostrum, book 2 of The Scourge, is now available for pre-order. It will start as a Kindle Serial, like the first book, so if you buy it, you are purchasing all eight episodes for just $1.99. Each episode will be auto-delivered to your kindle or other device as it comes out. Release date is early June!

No cover for Nostrum yet, but hopefully soon!

*** I now return you to your regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon. ***