New Story Published!

My Story ‘The Ifrit’ is included in ‘Cranial Leakage: Tales from the Grinning Skull, Volume II’. Link below:

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Interview with Quan Williams – Godmode

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Today I’m delighted to welcome Quan Williams to my blog. Let’s find out all his latest news!

Quan Williams

What Quan Williams is working on Now.

I hope you guys have taken a minute to check out my Sci-fi/Horror novel GODMODE, and for those who did check it out, I hope you liked it. Meanwhile, I’m working on my next book.

This project started out as a fantasy comic book I was developing for an entertainment corporation I co-founded. The original title of the comic was called “Phalanx: Revolution” (named after my corporation, Phalanx International Inc.) and centered around a group of people uniting to change the world.

I wanted it to feel like an epic JRPG like Final Fantasy 7. I liked the idea of having a set number of powerful artifacts that could be used to change the course of the world, like in Fred Saberhagen’s “Book of Swords”. In fact, I liked the swords in those books so much I wanted to put them in my story. And I created people with personalities and styles to match those swords (I wasn’t thinking of copyright issues when I had the idea).

The characters were also based on the members of my ill-fated s-corporation. the comic book was going to be one of our corporate ventures, as well as a marketing/branding tool for the company and music group. I wrote scripts and did extensive thumbnails sketches for about 5 issues, and had a rough outline for the entire saga (even had a bit of input from my godsister/content editor) but when the company folded, so did my interest in telling that story.

Flash forward almost 15 years, and I’m looking for a new project to work on. I don’t want to go through the trouble of starting a new property up, and I have a plethora of undeveloped stories in the vault, so I dust a few of them off to see if any of them speak to me. This project did, because in the scripts were a bunch of moments that could be elaborated on and fleshed out.

So I dove in and did some new development on the story and characters, as well as a bit of worldbuilding. But some conversations with my godsister/content editor really helped me find a creative voice for the story. After reading “Pax Americana” which was Grant Morrison’s excellent homage to/critisicm of Alan Moore’s seminal “Watchmen” story, as well as an in depth article explaining, analyzing and annotating “Pax Americana”, I realized I wanted to someday write something worthy of such examination. And if I can write it someday, why not now? Up until now I hadn’t written any stories with any real depth, not at the Meta level. And material like that was brilliant, but always intimidated me. I wasn’t ready to dive that deep into the deeper meanings behind my stories. But after talking with my godsister, she gave me a vote of confidence and told me I was capable of it. So I decided to use this new epic as my stab at it.

The first obstacle was finding a message that could hold the weight of that much depth. Then there was the matter of finding material that correlated with it and finding a way to integrate it into the narrative. What did I want the story to SAY? I realized that the seeds to the answer for that were already planted in the story, especially within the title: Revolution.

godmode-coverWith the volatile climate that was festering in the wake of incidents in Florida, St.Louis, New York and Cleveland where white males in positions of authority or high status got away with slaying African-American males, the idea of a downtrodden people rising up and taking definite action intrigued me. On top of that I had stumbled on the theory of “The Deep State” which is a network of the American Military-industrial complex which operated basically above the government. I thought that was a concept that had a place in my story, but it was just a backdrop and an explanation of why things were the way they were in my saga…until now. So I started digging deeper, examining three other major revolutions in history I could draw inspiration from: the French revolution, the Russian revolutions, and the Iranian revolution. I also looked a little at the Hatian revolution and the Brazilian slave revolts And in those studies I found some eerie similarities within them, as well as a disturbing connection to the Deep State. I could use that.

Then I started looking deeper into Fred’s 12 swords, and I found new elements of the swords that I can further build around, as well as a reference to one of Saberhagen’s earlier stories that also fit within the theme I’m trying to research. What if, instead of swords, my artifacts of power were gems that had the same effects? And since this was urban high fantasy, what if they were tied to the world’s magic somehow? I had also stumbled across the concept of the Orisha (African pantheon). What if each gem represented one of the Orisha, how would that change the perception and use of the gems, and of the people chosen to wield them?

With all of this information, then a narrative, a premise, and most importantly a message started to formulate. And here’s the final clencher. When deciding what story to rehash, I was debating between Revolution and a kung-fu high fantasy epic set in feudal China based on the story of the Wu Tang Clan rap group. But that was also a story of revolution, just like “The Revolution.” It was basically the same story in a different setting. What if I just combined the two? One of the coolest features of Watchmen was the story-within-a-story, with one of the characters reading a seemingly unrelated comic book that upon closer examination had a narrative that metaphorically mirrored what was going on in the story proper. What if I did something similar with my wu-tang story, maybe as a historical tome that shows that it isn’t the first time these events have happened in the world I’m writing about, and maybe also giving some insight into the origin of the gems?

So now I have a whole lot of new ammo to work with on this story, and it might end up being the deepest, most multi-layered thing I’ve ever written. Can’t wait to start.

By the way, if you’re interested in how my mind works, check out some of my ideas at http://www.quanwilliams.com. And if you haven’t checked out GODMODE, learn all you need to know about it at http://www.godmode.quanwilliams.com.

Guest Post from Lee Dunning – Exile’s Redemption

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Today’s guest post is from author Lee Dunning. Read on to hear all about Exile’s Redemption!

Exiles RedemptionAbout the Story

Exile’s Redemption is, on the surface, a fantasy adventure tale about good versus evil, but it goes beyond that. It’s about paths taken which changed the course of history and sent a proud race down a road of slow decline – so slow they don’t even realize that one day they’ll exist only in history texts and children’s stories.

One of the individuals from days long past, Umbral K’hul, returns after ten thousand years of exile. He discovers his flare of temper as a boy not only saw him banished but set the stage for pride and ambition to run unchecked among his people. He must come to grips with his failings and work to rebuild his people while keeping them from discovering his true identity. Adopting the name W’rath, the elves’ first-born son, joins with a young, untried warrior and strives to save their people.

While the story tackles serious subjects, the story is written to entertain and amuse. The characters express themselves in unique ways, and carry the story along in a fast-paced manner. Exile’s Redemption is very much a character driven story, quirky characters for certain, but never boring.

Brief Character Profiles

Umbral K’hul: Ten thousand years ago he tried to murder his father. He failed and found himself exiled to the Abyss to face certain death. Fate has opened a door and given him as second chance.

Lady Raven

Lady Raven

Raven: A young scholar, she has traveled to Second Home to research the truth about the first child born to the elves, Umbral K’hul.

Lady Swiftbrook: Driven insane by demons, she is rescued and healed by a small, filthy elf, and so starts a dangerous friendship.

Lord K’hul: Newest war leader to the elves, and lover of Lady Swiftbrook, he trusts not the smirking new arrival at his lady’s side.


Excerpt

Okay, this is a scene from Exile’s Redemption between my primary male protagonist, W’rath, and his pain-in-the-arse half-nephew, K’hul. W’rath wants to put a stop to a rather nasty practice going on in the Elven nation of First Home, and K’hul, who has just replaced his father as “First Among Equals” is standing in W’rath’s way. Enjoy.


smirkingNow that they were away from the others, and any possibility of public humiliation, K’hul’s confidence reasserted itself. He faced W’rath, arms crossed, his face hostile. “You have me here now, Exile. What do you plan to do? Chew on my ankles?”

“Really, lad, short jokes? Even among the Shadow Elf population, I’m shy several inches of average. I’ve heard every possible insult in existence. You’ll have to work much harder if you wish to provoke me. Oh, I know, threaten to keep my lads helpless and labeled as inher­ently evil. That will get my attention.”

K’hul raised an eyebrow. “You’re lads? Until a few days ago, you didn’t even know they existed. Until a few minutes ago you’d never laid eyes upon them. How can you call them ‘your lads’ when you don’t know a thing about them? Their own councilors wanted them collared. You just strut in and decide they should have full access to their psion­ics without first finding out why your predecessors thought it was a bad idea?”

“Interesting.” W’rath cocked his head. “That actually came across as a coherent argument.”

“So we’re done with this, then?”

W’rath chuckled. Ah, so young, so naïve. “Of course not, lad. Those collars will come off. But since you went to the effort to put together a logical reason for your obstinacy, it’s only fair I do the same.”

“Or, since we both know nothing you say will change my mind, we could just skip that part and move on to where I pummel you into a jelly. A very small jelly.” K’hul made a show of cracking his knuckles.

“Charming. However, isn’t that a bit archaic? Isn’t the whole purpose of having a council to facilitate communication and the exchange of ideas? Or am I mistaken and it’s really only an attempt to put a civilized face on our government while the First’s descendant continues to bully the rest of the population?”

“I’m the bully? You’ve already made it clear you expect the collars to come off regardless of the outcome of any discussion. In fact, you used threatened violence to lure me here in the first place. So be it. It worked well enough for the First, I’m only too happy to continue the tradition.”

W’rath had only a fraction of a second to chide himself for underes­timating his nephew before the huge First Born smashed a granite-like fist into his jaw. He attempted to roll with the punch, but the lad’s speed shocked him, and W’rath felt the bone shatter. Most people wouldn’t expect someone of such size to also have the agility and quickness of a hunting cat, but W’rath, of all people, realized he should have known better.

The force of the blow sent him flying across the room. He landed and continued to tumble across the floor until a wall brought him to a bone rattling halt. He spat out blood and teeth, but already felt his body regenerating, knitting the bone back together. Another fifteen minutes and he’d completely heal. Of course, K’hul wouldn’t allow him to regen­erate in peace. W’rath’s father hadn’t either.

“I knew without your psionics you’d lose miserably in a fight,” K’hul gloated, “but really, Exile, I still expected better. What were you thinking? Is this how you go about turning me over your knee and giving out a good paddling?”

He swaggered over to W’rath, hands on hips. “Did you think because I’m younger than you, you can lord it over me? Or, maybe you think I’m just some big, dumb fighter you can tear apart with your self-imagined superior intellect? Lesson one, Exile, never underestimate your opponent.”

I agree entirely. With the speed of a striking snake, W’rath lashed out with his legs, hooking onto K’hul’s ankle with one foot, and smashing the side of K’hul’s knee with the other. A resounding crack echoed off the walls as the knee exploded. K’hul crashed to the floor, howling in pain and surprise. The entire dojo shook with the force of his massive body splitting the floorboards.

With reflexes honed from years of surviving in the Abyss, W’rath sprang up and forward, smashing K’hul’s ruined knee, causing the First Born to nearly bite through his tongue in his efforts to keep from bel­lowing in agony. Even so he could not help but cry out as the Shadow Elf launched himself into the air using the shattered knee for leverage. The older elf fell back earthward, smashing the elbow of the hand that had seconds earlier broken his jaw. He tumbled forward and came to rest with his knee against K’hul’s throat. He pressed just hard enough to make it clear how easily he could crush the huge elf’s windpipe.

K’hul went to brush the Shadow Elf from his chest only to find his other arm pinned to the floor by a knife, which hummed with faint magic. Tendons neatly sliced, the embedded knife kept him from healing. For now the arm lay useless. He starred up into W’rath’s furious face in horror.

“If you ever strike me again,” W’rath said, struggling to enunciate through broken teeth, and a partially healed mandible, “your current injuries will seem but pleasant memories. I shall break every joint in your body, and then march up this puffed up chest of yours to smash every bone in your face. If your bloodline to the First survives as unsul­lied as you claim, you may regenerate perfectly, but odds are you won’t present quite as handsome a visage as you’re used to.”

K’hul gaped at the Shadow Elf, confirming W’rath’s suspicions that no one had ever dared speak to the young warleader in such a manner before. K’hul nearly choked on the blood from his partially severed tongue. W’rath grinned. “Oh, yes, the various races of elves may differ in a great many ways, but one thing you can always count on is our vanity. Lad, you may hate me with every fiber of your being, but by all the ancestors you hold dear, you will respect me.

W’rath’s smile widened. “And now … if you don’t mind, I do believe I have won our … debate.”


Lee Toon Head

About Lee

Lee has always loved writing, and wrote her first book in ninth grade. It was deplorable, though at the time she thought herself the next J.R.R. Tolkien. Since then Lee has written several short stories and books, but thankfully had enough sense not to publish them. Now as an older, and hopefully more skilled writer, Lee has published the first story she deems worthy of sharing with the world – Exile’s Redemption. She published it through Amazon in July of 2014.

In addition to writing, Lee absolutely loves reading, working on digital art (she did her book cover and has sold several covers to other authors (including Chris Kennedy’s novel, Can’t Look Back), wasting too much time on computer and tabletop gaming, and baking. She’s working on the sequel to Exile’s Redemption and hopes to have it out in the second quarter of 2015.


Links

Exile’s Redemption at Amazon: http://bitly.com/1rczyyd

Lee’s Book Review Blog: http://wildhuntreviews.com

Lee’s Author Site: http://leedunning.com/

Lee’s Goodreads Page: http://bit.ly/1wB8eju

Justi the Gifted – Guest Post from R. R. Brooks

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Today’s guest post is from R. R. Brooks, where he tells us about his upcoming novel, Justi the Gifted.

Justi cover final Justi the Gifted, an epic fantasy tale by R.R. Brooks ( http://www.appalachianroundtable.com ), will be published momentarily by LeoPublishing L.L.C. and can be ordered from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstore (which would love for you to visit).

A gift from a god can be good. But what if it is damaged?

Magic in Justi the Gifted. Magic in a fantasy novel is an ability or power that exists beyond the laws of nature. The gift of physical power conferred on Justi by the god Li is a type of magic. When the dark spirits rend this gift, leaving parts of it with Justi and parts with Mercerio, the heir to the throne, two characters have magic.

RRB front smallI did not want a lot of magic in the novel. No flying dragons, no power rings or swords, no floating intelligence or omnipresent wizards. Nevertheless, I wound up with a good dose of magic, such as mind control. Angel servants of both the good and bad gods influence the minds of animals, an act beyond nature. For example:a cat is used to track Justi’s pregnant mother.

Thinking they should first learn more of Arturi and her child, the Miasma sent a familiar to stay close to the woman. The dark ones combined their mental force to infect a small animal asleep in the forest, one with enough intelligence and cunning to do their bidding. The creature came alert with the full power of Darhoch. Its eyes flashed red as it trotted out of the woods not far from where Arturi hastened toward Ortun. This was the cat named Daresse.

Later, wolves are controlled to try to kill the teenage Justi. Justi’s spirit guardian, an angel called Li-Margot, inhabits the body of a hawk. Even humans are subject to mind control. The prostitute who seduces Justi is sent his image in a dream. The barbarians are induced to kidnap Princess Mercerio.

Other magic exists. Justi comes into possession of an amulet with a bit of magic power: it warms when Justi and Mercerio are thinking of each other and sends Justi in the girl’s direction.

The High Priest Aduk probes Justi’s mind when he is drugged. The coastal traderCarend supposedly has a “sixth sense” in reading people’s thoughts and personalities.

So, despite the author’s intention of making this mostly a human story in a real world setting, the magic crept in. I hope it is reasonable, controlled, and satisfying to my readers.

has a “sixth sense” in reading people’s thoughts and personalities.

So, despite the author’s intention of making this mostly a human story in a real world setting, the magic crept in. I hope it is reasonable, controlled, and satisfying to my readers.

Into the Publishing Minefield

I’ve been trying to garner some interest in ‘Fortune’s Thief’, and having failed to find an agent, I’ve been contacting independent publishers to see whether anyone would be interested in publishing it.

So far, I have had two contract offers, but I won’t be accepting either of them.  I had no idea when I started sending out my manuscript that it would be such a minefield.

The first offer I had was from a publisher whose employees are illiterate.  The email accompanying the contract, and subsequent correspondence was so badly written I had to read it three times before I could understand what they were trying to say.  They were also planning to put it out exactly as I’d sent it to them, with no editorial input or modifications whatsoever.  I’ve checked it the best I can, and had a few friends review it, but I have absolutely no doubt that it would benefit greatly from some professional editing.  Having read up about these guys on the Absolute Write Authors Beware section, they’re definitely one to avoid.

So I sent it off to a second publisher and had a grammatically correct response on nice headed paper, asking for a printed manuscript. Then followed three weeks of watching the doormat, wondering when a letter was going to land. In the interim, however, I looked them up on my new favourite forum page (Absolute Write Authors Beware) and found that many people were reporting bad experiences with them.  These guys appear professional, but are in essence a vanity press and will charge authors for publishing, so when I had the contracts arrive today, I wasn’t in the least surprised to find that they wanted £2,300 to publish my book.  If they had been up-front about it, and indicated on their website that contribution-based publishing was one of their possible routes, I wouldn’t have wasted my time or theirs in submitting to them.

I’m now going back to a third publisher, who expressed interest about the same time I heard from the second publisher to see whether we can still work together, and what their terms will be.

More news from the minefield as it breaks…

Seventh Star Press 99c Cyber Monday Sale

Seventh Star Press will be having a great Cyber Monday Sale that will coincide with a big contest, Feel the Fire III.

The sale will feature titles by all Seventh Star Press authors at 99 cents on Kindle, as well as all anthologies.  The sale will be for one day only, Cyber Monday, December 1, 2014.

Click here to read more.

The sale will feature 3 anthologies with my stories in:

Tales of the unseelie courtA Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court: http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTVSC

the end was not the end - coverThe End Was Not the End: http://www.amazon.com/The-End-Was-Not-Post-Apocalyptic-ebook/dp/B00C3ZWA58

perfect-flaw-cover-webversionPerfect Flaw: http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Flaw-Robin-Blankenship-ebook/dp/B00BWTKXZK

Dragonbride by Raani York

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Today I’m pleased to be able to share news about the release of Dragonbride, a fantasy novel by author Rani York.

Synopsis:

Shalima, “Daughter of the Light”, was born under special circumstances. She was raised by her aunts instead of her mother because she needed to be prepared to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Scriptures, which told that she was the only Magician on Earth.

Her aunts carefully prepared her for her obligations and her sacred duty. She will have to get married to the Holy Golden Dragon, the King of the Dragons, a huge Earth Dragon with magical talents. She cannot believe that she is the “Chosen One”, who has to protect the Dragon Species, all of Nature and finally the Earth. But when she turned into a teenager it seemed that the Old Scriptures were right.

Not only does she have to fulfill her duty by getting married to the Dragon – she will also have to go on a deadly mission to save the world from an unspeakable evil. A mission there is very little hope her party will ever return from.

Here’s an except from the book to whet your appetites:

The mountains possessed a dark but seductive beauty, and they lay in wait for the ones who came through the Fire Hell. The powdered white peaks of the sparkling black mountain-world watched for them with longing.

The Diamond Mountains gave the illusion of being much closer than they really were, and many a pilgrim had been lured to his death by the promise of riches hidden on their slopes. These mountains were so named because of the rough gems strewn about the black volcanic soil. When the sun shone overhead the gems made the mountains sparkle and shimmer brightly, and at night they made the moonlit mountains glow with a soft silver light.

People, blinded by both their greed and the tantalizing glittering of the sunlit earth, imagined that there was immeasurable wealth lying there on the ground, just waiting to be picked. However, the mountains never betrayed the secrets they held. None who had ever walked those slopes could find the diamonds hidden within the black soil, for the mountains protected themselves.

Although healthy forest still grew in the foothills, the undergrowth became sparser just a few hundred feet up, and then the treeline ended. Where stunted trees would normally grow the forest just stopped, as if some unseen hand had cut it short. All that remained were dangerously sharp, dry rocks. Just below the snowline, the rocks disappeared, and the glittering black soil took their place.

Moreover, at the summit it seemed as if the Creator of All Things had dusted the peaks of the fissured mountain range with powdered sugar, for they were covered with a deceptively soft-looking, yet extremely sharp-edged eternal snow.

The mountains never betrayed their secrets…

And if a wanderer were to climb those peaks, going up to the Fire Hell and searching to quench his thirst at a splashing mountain spring, he would find no cool, refreshing water. Instead, these living mountains would seek to frighten him by shrouding the ground with a mysterious fog that made it impossible to see where he was putting his feet. Pilgrims sometimes drowned in the sulfurous pools of water hidden within the hellish rocks when the fog appeared, and if they left the main trails, they would know true fear, for they would be led down treacherous sidepaths that seemed to take them somewhere, yet actually led them nowhere but to their doom.

The mountains never betrayed their secrets…

Though many thought they would find the cool relief of the shadows by early evening, the ascent would continue for another three torturous days. During those three days, their throats would scream for water, and their eyes would tear up in the swirling sand. Blown up by the hot desert winds, the sand burned as it fell upon a traveler’s face and skin. Eventually their limbs would become heavy, and they would barely be able to move; thus, the wanderers would be forced to crawl on, farther and farther, until sheer luck eventually brought them to civilization… to people.

In a canyon between two hills below the mountain range there was a village. It had no official name, but the people living there called it Alpcateçu, which meant Oasis of the Mountains. Anyone who wanted to climb the mountains had to pass through the village. A few taverns and inns surrounded the village fountain, where a market was sometimes held.

Some houses and huts had been built in the wide hills and even at the edge of the forest… and in one such place, hidden within the woods, almost four hundred feet past the deepest thicket and connected to the village only by a sidepath lay the place in which I had been born.

Buyer’s links:

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dragonbride-raani-york/1120408609?ean=2940046196030

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/Dragonbride

CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/4861497

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dragonbride/id923113409?mt=11

Amazon.com: Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Dragonbride-The-Dragon-Chronicles-Volume/dp/1500232106/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1412454206&sr=8-2&keywords=Dragonbride

Amazon.com: Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/Dragonbride-Dragon-Chronicles-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00O6COSRE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412454206&sr=8-1&keywords=Dragonbride

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/479647

Blio: https://www.blio.com/blio/actions/searchHandler.do?userType=MLB&tabID=BOOKS&itemNum=ITEM%3a1&key=0015761529&nextPage=booksDetails&parentNum=12848

Oyster Bookshttps://www.oysterbooks.com/book/FyRea3UNcipM7cfVKaxLhk/dragonbride#

About Rani:

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Raani York has been a high volume writer for years. She has published articles, letters, short stories, poems, continuation stories and descriptions of all kind. She also writes novels, some of which can found on her website http://www.raaniyork.com/ .

Raani has been educated in Switzerland and in the U.S. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. She also obtained diplomas in Graphic Design, Color Studies and won a prize as a Logo Designer. She speaks four languages and several dialects.

Raani York works and lives in Switzerland and the U.S. and travels often.

Next to her writing and her cats, Raani likes reading, blogging, Martial Arts, skiing, horseback riding, sky diving and enjoys playing the classical piano.