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Goodreads Giveaway, The Shadowbearer in Print and New Cover

Goodreads Giveaway, The Shadowbearer in Print and New Cover

It’s been a while in the making but the Shadowbearer finally has a print release. Here’s the cover and a Goodreads giveaway to go along with it.
The Giveaway: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/33816-the-shadowbearer

The Cover.

 

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Cover Art for next fantasy book

The next Aegis of the Gods book is almost ready. There’s something to be said about good covers, and I have worked to try come up with covers that will draw my reader in. I hope my fans appreciate the effort. Covers have always been a drawing point for me, even now when I read primarily on my tablet. When browsing, I always go cover first before I read the blurb and a sample. I just feel the cover is important. Not as important as the contents of the book, as you truly can’t judge a book by it’s cover (sorry, I had to), but a good cover might tell you that the author or publisher cared about what his book looked like to his potential reader.

having said that, here’s some early work on my latest cover.

 

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Fantasy Glossary for Aegis of the Gods

So after resisting for a while and being told by some that they understood most things about my world, I gave in to some who didn’t. I want each reader to grasp the majority of how my world works, and though I’ve worked hard to not info dump and to show my world and how the magic works, some might find certain things hard to grasp. I am partially to blame for this because I do drop quite a bit of the world’s names early in the story and more often than not, the explanation comes in the subsequent chapters. Does every book need a glossary? No. But I have now agreed with some of my readers, that some parts of my world is so involving, and that I use much of that within my world early enough in the book, that a glossary would only help rather than hinder. With no further ado, and thank you again, readers and fans. Here’s the glossary so far for the Aegis of the Gods series. It has been included in the newest edition of the book as of last night.

If there’s something you would like to see added. Please drop a comment. I’ll see what I can do.

GLOSSARY

Alzari – Matii who wield mostly the Forms, strongest in earth essences and metal. Ancestors of the Setian.

Amuni – One of the gods of Streams, specifically, shade. Brother of Ilumni.

Ashishin – Matii who serve the Tribunal and often represent the god Ilumni and the Streams, specifically light and heat. Most of the Granadian peoples are descendants of the Ashishin. They often bear the title of Shin or High Shin.

Astoca – A kingdom within south central Ostania. Their people, the Astocans, are cousins to the Cardians. (See Namazzi)

Bana – A kingdom in eastern Ostania. Their people are the Banai and worship Humelen and the Forms.

Bastions of Light – Towers along the Vallum of Light and located at strategic points within Granadia that can be used to send warning of an impending attack to the Tribunal.

Cardia – A kingdom far south in Ostania. Their people, the Cardians, are related to the Astocans. (See Namazzi)

construct – A sentient entity created from essences.

Dagodin – A Matus who cannot Forge but can wield items imbued with Mater called divya.

Darkwraith – A type of shadeling created by merging the sela essences, spirit, and shade of a Matus.

dartan – A massive beast of burden, bigger than any horse. It has 6 legs, hardened skin, and a shell into which it can withdraw its legs. It also has a long snake-like neck and is a meat eater. Originally created during the Luminance Wars.

Deathbringer – A type of Matii used by the Felani and others, said to be already crazed Matii. Only the Felani know how they’re controlled.

Denestia – The world where this story takes place, said to have been the crowning achievement of the god Ilumni who defeated his brother Amuni for its possession.

Devout – A priest who serves Ilumni and goes on pilgrimages to do the Tribunal’s bidding, often preaching the word of Streamean worship and its virtues.

divya – An item imbued with Mater.

Dosteri – A race originating in Everland who later inhabited Granadia.

Elements of Mater – The completed essences that make up the Flows, the Forms, and the Streams. (See Mater)

Erastonia – A kingdom in Everland.

Erastonian – Powerful warriors from Everland, specifically from a place called Erastonia. They possess some of the strongest Matii within the known world. Their main task is defending the Great Divide and killing any shadelings that happen to escape from the prisons contained with the Divide.

Essences – The individual strands of power that make up the elements of Mater.

Everland – The northernmost continent in Denestia.

Exalted – Mythical leaders of the Tribunal.

Eztezian – The Eztezians were the descendants of the gods. Great warriors and the most powerful Matii to grace Denestia. They were tasked with protecting Denestia from the shade and from itself. Driven mad by their overuse of Mater however, they almost destroyed the world. They created the Great Divide, which brought about the shade’s defeat. Then they turned on the gods, sealing them in the Nether to prevent future wars and the creation of more creatures like the shadelings.

Felan – A kingdom is western Ostania. Their people are known as the Felani.

Flowic – The religions named after the elements of Flows and its gods.

Flows – The combination of two essences—primarily water and air that make up liquids known as the Flows. There are other variations that involve other essences. E.g Water and cold to form ice. Heat, air, and something flammable to create fire.

Forger – A Matus who can Forge essences of Mater

Forging – See Materforging

Formist – The religion named after the elements of Forms and its gods.

Forms – The combination of three essences—earth, metal, and wood, that make up solids known as the Forms. There are other variations of solids that can be enhanced by using other essences, as well as other essences not in this umbrella that can be used to form solids. (See example in Streams.)

Gerde – Stoneform beasts with eight-legs that bear similarities to crabs, but were the size of ponies.

Granadia – The Western continent of Denestia. Have been at conflict with most of Ostania for millenia.

Harna – A kingdom in northern Ostania. Followers of Formist religion. Descendants of the Sven.

Humelen – One of the Gods of Forms, specifically earth.

Hydae – A world formed by Amuni when he lost to his brother Ilumni.

Ilumni – One of the gods of Streams, specifically, light. Brother of Amuni.

Imbuer – A Matus who can imbue properties of essences into an item to create divya.

kinai – A special plant that draws on essences, used in many healing formulas and potent drinks. Said to enhance the user’s strength, stamina, and agility.

Luminance War – An ancient war when shadelings escaped the Great Divide and swept across Ostania.

Mater – Mater is the core elemental power which exists within everything. It makes up the three elements the gods represent and their individual essences. Mater drives all worlds. The three elements are the solids of the Forms, the liquids of the Flows, and the energy of the Streams. Those are further broken down into separate essences. For instance, earth, wood and metal are a part of the Forms. Heat, cold, light and shade are a part of the Streams. Water and air are a part of the Flows. Finally, there’s sela essence, a combination of life and death which sits outside the three elements and is required for anything to live or die. (See Streams, Flows, Forms.)

Materialize – Ability to Forge a portal between two places for travel.

Materforging – The act of wielding the essences or elements of Mater.

Matersense – The ability to open up one’s mind to be able to sense or see nearby essences within the elements of Mater.

Matus – One who can sense Mater (Plural – Matii) Not every Matus can manipulate or Forge Mater. What essence a Matus is strongest in is often determined by bloodline. However, one can train to become adept in other essences. It is difficult and takes powerful Matii to wield essences from two separate elements simultaneously. It is considered to only be an ability of the netherlings or gods to wield all essences within all three elements at the same time.

Mystera – Schools built throughout Granadia for the purpose of teaching and recruiting Matii.

Namazzi – Matii who wield mostly the Flows, ancestors of the Cardians and Astocans.

Netherling – Primordial beings from the Nether, said to have been the ones to bestow their power on the Eztezians in order to save the world. This act was part of their revenge against the gods for their experiments.

Ostania – The Eastern continent of Denestia. Have been at conflict with most of Ostania for millenia.

Pathfinder – Powerful Matii, trained by the Tribunal, who have passed the ultimate tests of control over their emotions, which ensure they will not succumb to the temptations of the power the essences promise. They are used to hunt Matii who break the laws governing the use of Forging or those who go insane. They often accompany Ashishin to protect the Ashishin from attackers and from themselves.

Raijin – An elite assassin corps within the Tribunal.

Sanctums of Shelter – Similar to the Bastions of Light but more powerful and arrayed along the mountains in Northern Granadia to protect from any direct incursion by the shade through the Great Divide.

Scorpio – A massive crossbow–type weapon that fires large metal projectiles.

Senjin – A sport played with a leather ball, featuring 14 combatants, 7 per side, on a field spilt into 6 parts, with two halves. The team to score three times first, wins.

Seti – A kingdom in north western Ostania. Their people the Setian are descendants of the Alzari. (See Alzari)

Shadelings – Creatures created in the God Wars, primarily by the god Amuni, and his followers by experimenting with netherlings and the essence of shade. The effects of the couplings can be seen within some of the strange beasts within Denestia.

Shin – The respectful title given to Ashishin Matii.

Shunyata – A place within each person where they can separate and control their emotions. Also the place where sela essence is stored within any living being. Also known as the Eye.

Streamean – The religion named after the elements of Streams and its gods.

Streams – The combination of four essences—light, heat, cold, and shade that make up energy. The energy can be used in the forming of the other elements e.g cold is needed to form ice which is part of the Forms and part of the Flows.

Sven – The earth elemental peoples that inhabit the Nevermore Mountains in north eastern Ostania. Descendants of the Svenzar.

Svenzar – Form elementals that reside in mountainous areas. Their power resides in earth, metal, and wood.

The Aegis – Said to be a power or a person who would help either protect the gods or defend against their resurgence.

The Chronicles – Said to be sacred tomes written by the Eztezians themselves and their descendants, dictating the past and the future of the world.

The Disciplines – A set of rules and pointers on how to govern and lead soldiers.

The Eye – See Shunyata.

The Great Divide – A massive rift in the land created by the Eztezians to defeat the shadelings. It runs from north to south across central Everland, and is guarded by the Erastonians.

The Iluminus – Named after the god Ilumni, it is the central city, learning hub and home of the Tribunal and its Matii.

The Nether – A realm between the worlds thought to be the origination of Mater, the gods, and netherlings.

The Stone – The great hidden city where the Svenzar and Sven live in northern Ostania.

The Unvanquished – Stefan Dorn’s elite troops in Ostania.

Travelshaft – Tunnels developed by the Svenzar using the Forms, where time is slowed and speed increased to allow travel between large distances in a small amount of time. Said to somehow be constructed between the Planes of Existence.

Tribunal – The founding society of Ashishin among the Matii. They determined what was needed for the Matii as a whole to function in their proper roles as protectors and mediators. Eventually, the different Matii split apart due to conflicts in ideals, philosophies and religions. The Tribunal rules in Granadia. They left Ostania where most of the other Matii fled, to fend for themselves.

Vallum of Light – A massive wall imbued with Mater and erected by Eztezians within the Tribunal to separate Ostania from Granadia.

Warping – A Forging by powerful Matii, using the sela essences of something recently killed, to twist the essences in a specific area, thus rendering them unusable for a period of time.

Wraithwolf – A type of shadeling using a combination of wolf or other canine type beast, as well as the sela of a person, and essences of shade.

Zar – The respectful title given to Alzari Matii.

 

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White Night : Urban Fantasy Review

White Night (The Dresden Files, #9)White Night by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ll keep this simple. This is a great addition to the series. If you know Dresden then it continues much of the same. Great dialogue, awesome insight, witty banter and a way of writing that makes you feel a part of the man. You become attached to Harry’s plight and his issues. At times when he speaks on aspects of the human condition, I found that I could relate. Example at one point when he’s speaking about love, life and pain, I felt that pain. The plot twists and turns and is so well laid out that I kept turning page after page not wanting to put the book down. The magic was astounding and the attention to detail was there, that made me believe in the things that were being done.

If you are a fantasy fan and you have not read Dresden, pick up the series. I promise you won’t regret it.

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The Dragon’s Path : Epic Fantasy Review

The Dragon's Path (The Dagger and the Coin, #1)The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hmmm. Where to start. Well let’s say the rating system here on Goodreads won’t reflect this one correctly. I consider it a 3 and a half. But I’ll have to tag it with a three. Why not at least a 4?

Well, not that it wasn’t a good book, because a 3 says it was a good book. Let’s start with what I loved.

The world and most of the characters fascinated me. The plot was well-laid out and offered some nice surprises and fit together quite well throughout.

The many races, the histories behind them and the descriptions, foreshadowing and setting kept me going and made the world so believable. I could have used some more on the religions for me to better understand them since they ended up playing a big role at the finale.

Cithrin was a wonderful, amazing character. I was hooked on watching her maneuver, grow and change. The whole aspect of banking and dealing was phenomenal. She was so well done I felt for her and in ways, the book could have been just about her, Marcus and Geder and I would have been fine with it.

Geder had his good points but in the end he just seemed the same guy oblivious to the fact he’s being used. When will he learn did I keep asking myself? For a well-educated person, he came off more than a little … dumb, may be too harsh a word.

Marcus Wester, I enjoyed seeing him play the father figure and relive that old pain.

Dawson did little for me. He was basically “This is where status x person’s should lie in society.” Not once did he waver from that. He was simply too predictable.

Here’s my issue with The Dragon’s Path. I’m a magic and action man. When you have a book with such a vivid world, created by dragons and goddesses, I expect the magic to be more upfront. In this book, it was so downplayed as to be irrelevant although it wasn’t. It is what made the difference in the end.

Lack of action. I like my sword fights. There wasn’t a single one that stuck out for me in this book. In fact, my best memory is of Marcus practicing with some others and the very brief fight to hold the gates of Camnipol. The book just seemed slow at times because of this. All the nice plots and characters should eventually culminate in some nice action is how I feel. For the most part, this didn’t.

For a lover of action and magic, this just did not bring enough especially considering the incredible potential there to do so. However, most of the main characters provide enough and the scope of the world and what is to come has made me get book 2 and I will be reading it. I’m hoping he goes more into what I enjoy in the next one.

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Uprising – Excerpt

Here’s a bit from my newest WIP, tentatively titled Uprising. Remember, I’m giving a peek before my work even hits the editor.

Each step Ryne made became practiced agony, but he gritted his teeth against the pain. His breaths left his lips in wheezing gasps. Legs and arms on fire, he carried Ancel on his back. The young man weighed more than expected or maybe the heaviness was a reflection of how worn out his own body had become.

Charra loped in front, often tossing its head as if trying to dislodge something from its shoulders. Snow and ice flew as the netherling manipulated the elements to clear a path. With his Matersense, Ryne determined what Charra did was not a Forging. It appeared as if the beast and the elements were one—they, an extension of the netherling—and Charra had some ability to shift them as if they were physical entities. The action reminded Ryne of watching a puppy at play.

A serrated blade of staggered cliff-faces made up the ridges on either side of them. Pockmarked with overhanging rock, crags, and precipices along the canyon walls they spread before disappearing in the light flurries that fell. Under most overhangs were deep hollows leading to caves similar to the one they left several hours ago. The phenomenon occurred every few hundred feet up the sheer, ice-coated walls. At the peak was a massive plateau, its edge jutting over the cliffs and offering protection to the gully through which they traveled. Beyond the occasional snow cornice that tumbled into the passage, not much else was worth worrying over.

“The caves are from all the quarrying,” Mirza said from a few paces behind him. “The cliffs have been our livelihood for years.”

A rainbow of color reflected from the ice and the diamond glint of embedded minerals and metals. The sun shone at an angle well shy of noon, giving warmth to Ryne’s weary bones. He was unaccustomed to experiencing the cold, and he could no longer feel his toes. “Were you both miners?” he asked to keep his mind occupied.

“By the gods, no.” Mirza chuckled. “Ancel was too busy chasing the girls, and well, I had this habit of doing whatever my father didn’t want. I ended up following in his footsteps to become a Dagodin instead of the quarrying and mining that he loves so much.” A hint of regret seeped from his tone.

Ryne could only imagine what the youth was experiencing. To know the Exalted now held your last surviving parent after their followers had taken your mother must be tearing at Mirza’s insides. Ryne allowed silence to grow between them.

A quick glance over his shoulder showed that Galiana still followed, keeping an eye on their rear. The passage continued ahead, the footing treacherous, but not as bad as it would be without the series of ridges protecting the lower areas from the worst of the weather. The wind howled a mournful dirge, but did little more than ruffle his cloak. Whenever a cornice fell, a low rumble ensued as snow and ice showered that part of the passage.

As the noise droned to a halt, another reached Ryne. A cracked howl. He paused. “Wolves?”

“There aren’t wolves in this part of the Red Ridge, not that I know of at least,” Mirza said. The youth’s hand eased down to his bow as he glanced back the way they came.

 

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Shadow’s Master – Epic Fantasy Review

Shadow's Master (Shadow Saga, #3)Shadow’s Master by Jon Sprunk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this series and this final book. While the first book was my favorite, Shadow’s Master had a lot going for it. Sprunk’s action as always is top notch and so are his descriptions and setting. Caim, I got into right away and was totally engrossed, watching as he follows blindly into the teeth of danger.

This time around, I found myself less attached to Josey. Something about her felt lacking. This may have been because I was so into Caim. Then there was the questionable feats she managed considering her state. Despite this flaw, by the time I got to the meat of her situation when her major obstacle arose, her PoV made for better reading that caught me up, although I did find myself wondering “How did she do that and not …” I’ll chalk it up to what Hirsch tells her at the end.

Beyond that, the battles were thrilling and the magic at the climax was something to behold. Some may find a fault with Caim’s grasp of being able to do what he did, but the man was special in many ways. This time around there were no great plot twists, but the unfolding events were nicely put together at a pace that should keep any reader going.

I would recommend this series to any of my fantasy friends. Thank you for the good read, Mr. Sprunk. I look forward to what you write next.

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The Shadowbearer – Aegis of The Gods prequel

Here is a snippet of chapter 1 to the new novel and prequel to Aegis of the Gods. Enjoy.

Chapter 1

Knight Commander Stefan Dorn surveyed the battlefield below him from his vantage point astride his horse. The oncoming Astocan army stretched in a long line that disappeared into the shadows of the mountains behind them. The Knight Commander grimaced. “Fools. They’re dead.” With a shake of his head, he let out a resigned sigh. “Prideful and stupid to the end.” It pained him to see such a waste of good men even from his enemies. Their general should have listened to reason. Together they could have averted the upcoming bloodshed.

“The way the Astocans would tell it, it’s bravery of the highest degree.” Knight General Garrick shrugged, broad shoulders made even wider by the pauldrons of his plate armor. He twirled his mustache around his thick forefinger. “They give their lives for the pride to claim they bent knee to no one. They would say their gods and people deserve nothing less.”

Atop his brown gelding, Knight General Kasimir snorted. “Too bad their gods aren’t fighting this battle.”

“Indeed.” Stefan nodded. As a believer in the gods, he understood how a man might wish to have the deities on their sides in a battle like this, especially if that man was an Astocan. He pursed his lips as he scratched at the annoying black stubble under his chin.

Overhead, the sun blazed, and the mountains of the Sang Reaches cast long shadows from which the Astocan army boiled in numbers to dwarf Stefan’s forces. The smell of horse, sweaty men, and metal choked the air as his cavalry spread to his left and right. Up ahead his infantry advanced.

“I still don’t understand your concern for them.” Garrick shook his head.

“You wouldn’t. Not after what they did—”

Stefan cut Kasimir off with a glare. “They’re men with families and livelihoods like us.”

“Never like us,” Garrick snapped. “Lose this battlle today and they would enslave us all, rape our women, and pillage our cities.” Nostrils flaring as they often did when he was angry, Garrick pulled so hard on his mustache Stefan wondered if his friend felt any pain at all. “So you’re right, Kas, I wouldn’t understand, not after how they made me suffer. But I know what it means to you, Stefan.” He nodded to the Knight Commander. “You have way more honor than I ever will.”

“Thank you.” Stefan dipped his head to Garrick. “You don’t give yourself enough credit, old friend. You’re as honorable a man as I have met, regardless of how you try to hide it.” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the thin form of Knight General Mensa as the man made to say something. The Knight Commander spurred his horse forward a few steps. The King’s errand boy could wait a bit longer.

From across the battlefield, drumbeats, blaring horns, and the stomp of marching feet echoed. The jangle of weapons and the trundle of carts from Stefan’s army played accompaniment. In tight formations, armor dull and dusty, his infantry lines awaited their commands.

A buzz, like flies alighting on a bloody corpse, filled the sweltering air. Shot from the blackness beneath the drab grey and green mountains, arrows darkened the sky.

“Incoming!” boomed the voices of the silver-armored Knight Captains. Their warning rose unnaturally over the trumpets and drums echoing from the enemy’s ranks.

The men of Stefan’s Setian infantry legions brought forearms up to shield the eye ports of their helmets.

The buzz grew in intensity. Arrows began to land, pinging harmlessly off imbued steel plate.

“Be ready!” the Knight Captains yelled as the barrage ended.

Several horns blared down the cavalry lines to Stefan’s sides.

Stefan brushed a stray lock from his face then raised the looking glass to his eye. Despite their location at the base of the mountains some six hundred feet away, the encroaching Astocan soldiers sprang into his vision as if he stood among them. Their archers were preparing another volley.

“Infantry. Formations,” Stefan called out.

The trumpets sounded his order.

Two ranks of shield-bearing swordsmen marched forward. Spread from left to right, they made up the vanguard. A similar formation of pikemen wielding twenty-foot spears followed them ahead of an additional double rank of swordsmen. Behind the column of foot soldiers were Stefan’s ranged legion consisting of bowmen, operators, and Cardian slaves. In unison, over twenty thousand sabatons stomped. The impact with the parched earth resounded—a mocking challenge to the Astocan archers’ efforts.

“Return fire,” Stefan said.

The trot of a horse’s hooves accompanied Knight General Mensa’s appearance next to Stefan. Mensa made to speak, but Stefan spared the small man a look, eyebrows raised. Mensa’s mouth snapped shut, his bulbous nose flaring. With a gloved hand, Mensa dabbed at his sweaty forehead.

Horns announced Stefan’s command. At the rear of the infantry, the small complement of bowmen stepped forward. They drew fletchings to ears. Bows twanged and arrows loosed.

Stefan’s gaze followed the flight of the Setian arrows. As expected, they fell woefully short. No man could fire as far as the Astocans and the monster bows they wielded. A derisive cheer rose from the Astocan legions. Stefan smirked.

“Slow forward,” Stefan said to Kasimir and Garrick arrayed on either side of him.

With nods, they called out the order. The trumpeters blew. In response, the Setian heavy foot surged ahead, a step at a time. Their boots drowned out all else.

Across the plain, in numbers like swarming brown ants, the leather clad Astocans dispatched their infantry. Their cavalry spread to their flanks, lances upright, tassels blowing in the wind. Mounted archers moved among them. Stefan gave a wry smile. Renowned for their horseback archery, the large men deftly handled their mounts while firing their oversized bows with deadly precision. The sight was a thing of beauty or terror.

Read more here.

Chapter 1 : The Shadowbearer

 

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GIR 12 Days of New Year blog hop: Author Interview: Jonathan Gould

Say hi today to Jonathan Gould as part of the GIR 12 Days of New Year blog hop!  Jonathan is the author of Doodling.

Terry C. Simpson: How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

Jonathan Gould: Not really very long at all. I just happened to be in that mood where I was looking for a story to write. I’d just completed a year of studying creative writing and was really tired of doing writing for classwork assignments rather than writing for myself.

It must have been around 10-11-ish at night when my wife made a comment about how she felt the world was moving so quickly. That got me going. I’m not sure I had a lot of sleep that night. My brain just wouldn’t stop. What would happen of the world was moving so quickly that somebody actually fell off?

The next morning, early on, I was sitting at the computer, writing what at that point was little more than a short piece about a man falling off the world. I had no idea at that point that it would actually turn into something more. It felt to me like I was just doing a bit of Doodling, but of the literary kind, rather than the drawing kind. That’s why I decided, when this strange little piece actually evolved into a genuine story, I decided to retain the title Doodling.

Terry C. Simpson: How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

Jonathan Gould: I suspect there’s an awful lot of me in all of the characters that I write.

Neville Lansdowne (the main character – the one who actually falls off the world) is very much like me. A quiet sort of person who spends a lot of time wondering around, observing things, and never quite understanding what is going on. Then again, Neville seems a lot better at organising people than I am. He actually manages to get people to pay attention which is something I’ve always struggled with.

I can also see myself in most of the other characters in the story. Their irrationality is something I can definitely relate to. Like the Toaster People, I’m sure if I was marooned on an asteroid in the middle of nowhere, I’d also have a totally illogical need for some sort of appliance that I’d really have no use for. And like the Aimless Girl, I do spend a lot of time being led from here to there without any sense of where I’m going.

Terry C. Simpson: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

Jonathan Gould: Writing characters is always one of the most enjoyable parts of writing to me. Especially when my characters are usually quite simple and clear – a bit like cartoon characters – where they often have a single defining characteristic.

Once I’ve figured out what that characteristic is, I’ll think about how that can best be expressed. It could be something about their appearance, or the clothes they’re wearing. But most likely it’s going to be in their speech. I’m a very wordy writer and writing dialogue is what I enjoy the most (coming from a sketch comedy background). It’s really important to me that each character has a unique voice. That could involve some catchphrases (like the “spoilsport/party pooper” used by the Party People) which are really fun to play around with and vary so they don’t get stale. But it’s also more generally in the things they say and the way they say them. I try to hear the dialogue in my head so I can get a sense of how each character sounds.

The other important thing about the characters is that each of them must have their part to play. Over the course of writing Doodling, I came with a bunch of characters I liked a lot, but who I eventually discarded as they did not have a role to play as the story developed.

Terry C. Simpson: Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

Jonathan Gould: Apparently there is according to most of the reviews I’ve had. It’s funny because as a writer I definitely don’t try to put messages into my writing. I just think of ideas that interest or amuse me (like a man falling off the world). I think because the ideas I work with are so rich, the “messages” just seem to emerge naturally. For example, most readers suggest that Doodling is about getting away from the hustle and bustle of modern life and taking time to enjoy the little things. And they’re not wrong. I’d be lying if I claimed that I was totally ignorant of the presence of these “messages” but they’re not the primary motivator for my writing.

Ultimately, what is important to me is story. Getting readers engaged and involved through strong characters and a clever, well-constructed plot (as well as a few laughs), are what matters most. If readers want to pull more out of what I have written, then I know that I’ve managed to create something that has a bit of depth to it, which makes me feel like I’ve really achieved something as a writer.

Terry C. Simpson: Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

Jonathan Gould: One very powerful ritual. It’s called procrastination. I’ll spend lots of time doing other things, avoiding the actual writing. Often I’ll go back and read a bunch of other things I’ve written. I claim it’s to get me into the right frame of mind for writing. I could be lying to myself. Ultimately, writing can be a bit frightening. What if that idea that was so great in your head is crap once it’s on the page? Sometimes you don’t want to know.

Terry C. Simpson: Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

Jonathan Gould: One with lots of money and an insatiable appetite for books.

Seriously, I suspect my “ideal reader” is someone a lot like me. Someone who enjoys a laugh, doesn’t take themselves too seriously and spends a lot of time being confused about how little sense the world in general makes.

My experience is that people like that can be any age and either gender. There’s a lot of them around. I just need to figure out where they’re all hiding.

Terry C. Simpson: What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Jonathan Gould: As I mentioned previously, I think the hardest bit is trying to translate the ideas in your head into something that works on the page. My brother-in-law pointed me to a great Lou Reed lyric – “Between thought and expression lies a lifetime”. I think it sums it up beautifully. You can have the greatest idea in your head but if you can’t figure out how to express it on the page, whether that’s through characters, description or dialogue, then it’s just not going to work.

It’s about communication. You have to get the best bits of the idea in your head into a form that will put it into the heads of your readers.

Terry C. Simpson: Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

Jonathan Gould: I have so many notebooks filled with lists of thoughts and ideas, I’m pretty close to needing a separate notebook to list out all of those other notebooks. Ideas always come and go. I’ve lost some pretty good ones over the years. And some pretty bad ones won’t leave me alone. Alas for the difficulties of the creative life.

Terry C. Simpson: Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

Jonathan Gould: This is where I get to quote my hero, Douglas Adams. It’s in a wonderful, non-fiction book he wrote called Last Chance to See where he and a zoologist went around the world searching for endangered species (and goddamn it, that’s exactly why I want to be a famous writer too).

At one point, they were traveling with some German backpackers who so fit the stereotype of what you’d expect German backpackers to be like (ruthlessly efficient and scornful of all others) that Adams became quite upset – he felt that as a writer, you should never reinforce stereotypes. So he didn’t. He decided they weren’t German, they were Latvian, and described them as such for the rest of the book.

Anyway, that’s a round-about way for getting to the actual advice. Never reinforce stereotypes. It’s a rule I try to follow – when I feel like my characters (or ideas) are veering into cliché, I’ll always try to work out a way to subvert them.

And a bit of extra advice – read Last Chance to See – you won’t regret it.

Terry C. Simpson: Have you written any other books

Jonathan Gould: Yes.

I have had two children’s stories published as school readers – titled A Right Royal Day and Madoop and the Mountain Mower. They’re both about short kings but unfortunately I don’t think they’re generally available – certainly not on Amazon.

In addition to Doodling, I have another self-published ebook titled Flidderbugs. It’s kind of a fable/satire and again, I’d by lying if I said I didn’t think there was a message there.  But mostly, it’s meant to be a funny story about a bunch of insects with some strange obsessions.

Am I also allowed to mention upcoming work? I have a novel I’m planning to publish soon (Doodling and Flidderbugs are more novella length). It’s called Magnus Opum and is a kind of epic fantasy with a twist. I like to describe it as Tolkien meets Dr Seuss.

Terry C. Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?

Jonathan Gould: At my blog: http://daglit.blogspot.com

 And at my sell pages:

DOODLING:

 Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords 

Barnes and Noble

FLIDDERBUGS:

 Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

Thank you so much  for doing this interview, Jonathan. You can connect with Jonathan on facebook or twitter.

 

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Fantasy Author Interview: M. Edward McNally

Yes, yes, today I have the pleasure of interviewing a guy who always manages to make me laugh in the facebook groups we are in. Not only that but he’s an author of epic fantasy, M. Edward McNally. As a double treat, I also got to interview his character Matilda Lanai from his Musket & Magic Fantasy, the Norothian Cycle. (The Sable City, Death of a Kingdom, The Wind from Miilark)

Terry Simpson: What is your book about?

M. Edward McNally: Muskets, Magic, and Matilda Lanai. 😉

Terry Simpson: How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

M. Edward McNally: Hard to say.  For about a ten year period I had stopped writing fiction, but during that time I had a “world-building” hobby.  Just on a lark, I sort of designed a primitive world where magic functioned as much as technology, and made my way through several centuries of cultural, political, and economic evolution.  It was kind of like a game of “Civilization” I played in my head.

While my intention was not to write a series of Musket & Magic Fantasy books, or even one book set in my world, a few years ago some of the people “living” there started talking to me. I didn’t have a choice after that, as Tilda Lanai is kind of pushy. 😉

Terry Simpson: What inspired you to write this particular story?

M. Edward McNally: This story specifically started to roil because of two different images I got in my head.  The first was of a lone young woman on a grassy steppe, under a gray sky.  She was walking slowly toward a wounded warhorse, holding out a bright red apple in one hand.  That turned out to be Tilda.

The other image was of a samurai and a Roman Legionnaire fighting shoulder-to-shoulder to hold a foot bridge against an army.  Not geographically or temporally possible in the real world, of course, but an image that stuck with me, and inspired two supporting characters.

Terry Simpson: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

M. Edward McNally: My favorite is Tilda Lanai, as she would not let me say anything else.  The story, and series, are complex, with several diverging plotlines moving in time with the main one, but Tilda is the central figure around which the others depend.  It really is her story, I’m just writing it down.

Terry Simpson: Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

M. Edward McNally: Not sure how “likability” factors in, but for me the most unusual is a sorceress named Nesha-tari, who is half-Lamia.  On her mother’s side.  You know: Attract men, then eat them to live.  She is also however half-human, so her efforts to live with herself while doing what she must to stay alive were interesting for me to try and handle as a writer, and hopefully will be the same for readers.

Terry Simpson: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

M. Edward McNally: I’m a “pantser” as a writer and a believer in character first.  Once I know (or think I know) who the players are, and what they want, I basically start writing just to find out for myself how they get to where they are going.  Of course that means the re-writing/editing stage is critical for me, to make sure there is a story being told.

Terry Simpson: How has your background influenced your writing?

M. Edward McNally: Though I am writing in the Fantasy genre, the motifs are probably less “Medieval European” than is typical.  There are as many Polynesian, Central American, and Asian influences to the cultures involved.  This may be the result of being a “mutt” myself: A half-Irish/half-Mexican from the US “South.”

Terry Simpson: Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

M. Edward McNally: Totally.  I wrote one of these series books completely convinced a particular character was going to die at the end.  They wouldn’t go down.  Bent the plot significantly in a direction I did not think it was going to go, but actually when things like that happen they are some of my greatest joys as a writer.

Terry Simpson: Have you written any other books

M. Edward McNally: In addition to the fantasy series, I have a number of short story collections (mostly of the “contemporary” genre) available for free from most retailers (though a couple are still 99 cents on Amazon.  They are all titled “Eddie’s Shorts – Volume #.”

Terry Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?

M. Edward McNally: Easiest place is on my blog at. http://sablecity.wordpress.com/

That is both the homepage for the series, where additional background materials (maps, glossary, histories) can be seen, as well as the place where I mumble about writing, interview fellow authors (every Tag Line Tuesday) and the like.

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Without further ado, meet Tilda Lanai

Terry Simpson: Who are you?

Tilda Lanai: Who am I?  You asked me here, right?  Sorry.  I’m Matilda Lanai, but my friends call me Tilda.  Actually, everybody calls me Tilda.

Terry Simpson: Where do you live?

Tilda Lanai: The port of Souterm, in the Empire of the Code, at the moment.  Though that’s mainly because I can’t go home to the Islands right away until some issues with my Trade House…or former Trade House, anyway…get worked out.  Also, I’m sort of moving around a bit here in town as there is this detective of the City Watch who thinks I murdered a gem merchant. Which I did not do.  I *did* try to sell him a necklace with a Devil’s Curse on it, but…it’s kind of a long story, actually.

Terry Simpson: Are you the hero of your own story?

Tilda Lanai: Everybody is the hero of their own story. (wink)

Terry Simpson: What is your problem in the story?

Tilda Lanai: Oh, to have just one!  That would be wonderful!  But really, since I arrived on the mainland about a year ago, I’ve had any number of problems.  Or at least, I’ve made friends with people who have problems, which for me is the same thing.  If you are my friend and you have a problem, it is my problem, too.

Terry Simpson: Do you embrace conflict? / Do you run from conflict?

Tilda Lanai: Neither.  I find it easier to sneak up behind conflict and whack it in the head with a club.

Terry Simpson: How do your friends see you?

Tilda Lanai: I hope they know that I mean it when I say they are my friend.  Where I am from, the Miilark Islands, we don’t give friendship away that easily.  It means something to us when we do, and it’s for life.

Terry Simpson: How do your enemies see you?

Tilda Lanai: Again, I’d prefer they didn’t see me coming.

Terry Simpson: Do you have a hero?

Tilda Lanai: I did, he…um…he didn’t make it.  It’s kind of hard to talk about, wasn’t that long ago.  Sorry.

Terry Simpson: What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?

My Guild Cloak.  I trained as a Guilder in the service of House Deskata for three years, and the cloak is sort of the sign of that, for an Islander.  It’s black, which is handy at night, and the inner lining of emerald green represents my House…or what was my House, rather.  Nice triangular cut, too, so I can get my hands inside in case I need…anything that it otherwise conceals.

Also, as I technically left the Islands a month before completing Guild training, this wasn’t a graduation gift.  I had to buy it myself, and I am *not* taking that as a loss, even when it gets…um…soiled.

Terry Simpson: Do you keep your promises?

Tilda Lanai: Always.

 

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