Sunday, November 11, 2012

Following Yonder Star

It is official! Following Yonder Star: The Untold Trials of the Three Kings, has been released on Kindle, Nook, and in paperback!

The place to follow it is here:

Subtitle: The Untold Trials of the Three Kings

On a cold December night in Bethlehem, three mysterious foreign rulers paid homage to the newborn King of Man. They promptly vanished into history.

Who were these unequaled men? What hardships did they endure on their voyage? How much did they sacrifice of themselves?

This story details their harrowing journey across deserts, through a suffocating moor, over a towering mountain, and into the chamber of Herod. Throughout, they were tested by the devil and themselves. But at each test, they reaffirmed their strength, determination, and faith. The Three Kings persevered: So can we.

Following Yonder Star is a story that will reinforce the true meaning of Christmas.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Proust and Dumas

So I'm reading The Count of Monte Cristo for the first time, and have signed up on Goodreads to read the full  À la recherche du temps perdu, (Davis translation for Swann's Way, and Moncrieff for the rest).

Intending to read only a short portion of Swann's Way, I got pulled into the world of Proust, sucked down into the meander and flow of his marvelous phrasings, and carried away by long descriptions of memories. The writing is unbelievably good. I understand the aversion to such purple prose and endless sentences, but by gosh it is gorgeous.

And it reminds me how crappy my own writing is.

Sure, the classics are part of my bizarro work, but each read of those great works has really been selfish, to be honest. I'm using well-known literature to promote my own misguided stories. It's probably OK, since nobody reads bizarro, but it's still a little icky.

So to read Proust, purely for edification and enlightenment, is a moving experience. One realizes that there have been giants that have paved a path, giants whose footprints dwarf our own, and whose quality of work we may only fumble at. I've always been a reader, true, but having gone over to the author's world had stunted my outlook somewhat. At one point, I selfishly thought that my work was on par with modern-day masters, and maybe even thought I could challenge the ancient heros of the written word.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Though halfway through Cristo, and partway through Swann's Way, this experience has been humbling to the point of paralysis (as far as writing goes). What is the point in continuing? Why bother to put pixels to screen when you will never touch such greatness?

But that is also folly.

As writers, we should always strive to be better. Practice is one avenue. I believe that reading a very powerful tool for the writer. For me, reading the masters of the craft--those who have gone hundreds of years before--is the way to go. They have laid a foundation atop which most modern literature stands, and to ignore them and bask in our own self-imposed glory is silly.

What in the Sam Hill am I talking about?

Read. Read Proust, Joyce, Tennyson, Dumas... Authors, take off your writing hat and read. I'd encourage you to take a long hard look at your own craft. There are days when I feel like pulling the plug on all that I have out there and starting fresh... I'd like to blame Proust on that, but I also had to set aside ego and the "business" of writing and examine past and future. It is both terrifying and therapeutic to look at oneself and realize that you aren't the next Robert Jordan. Can you get there? That is up to you and what you put into it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Following Yonder Star

New Book coming this Christmas!

Excerpt from the Prologue:
He felt as old as the hill he climbed. The vaunted, once-strategic, and impossibly high Hill of Vaws challenged him daily to climb its height and worship at the temple atop its craggy summit. The mound in the desert had once been relevant; now it looked out over a wide, empty and sere desert. Atop the hill’s scrub-covered crust, an equally ancient temple clung barely to live, kept going only by the priest and his four apprentices. A joint popped and he reflected again on retiring. But a glance at the gilded star atop the shrine, its glittering outline and the shadow it cast upon the hill, reminded him of his purpose here. Chapped lips creaked open in a half smile.

A joint popped and he reflected again on retiring. But a glance at the gilded star atop the shrine, its glittering outline and the shadow it cast upon the hill, reminded him of his purpose here. Chapped lips creaked open in a half smile.

The golden star was a beacon of sorts, a thing by which to herald the Liberator, Savior, Redeemer, or Protector as He was wont to be named. Though the star reflected light, it was said that it would glow like the sun should the Liberator come. The priest, the star, the pillar, the chapel, and even the hill itself waited patiently for the Son of Man. “Glow like the sun,” the priest panted.

At one time, twelve wise men had kept constant vigil inside the chapel; they had long since passed on, leaving only the old priest and his apprentices. Finding young men to devote their lives to a run-down building atop a barren hillside in the middle of nowhere was almost impossible—and he wasn’t sure how long these men would remain. The perils of youth.

The ancient priest put his head down and trudged the remaining feet to the top of the hill. He was bent over with exhaustion and sore, tired muscles. It took an effort to straighten his frame, and a chorus of pops and snaps sounded. The priest grimaced and gazed out at the brown and dusty desert that stretched on in seemingly endless directions all around the hill.

A few scrubby trees near the chapel provided shade and aromatic herb bushes imparted the area with a sweet and heady fragrance. Being the highest point in the area, the vantage provided a vast overview of... nothing. Far beyond his vision, behind a cloud of dust, the large city of Jerusalem hulked in its teeming of humanity. Jerusalem... the old priest sniffed at that word—he called it by another name entirely, Urušalimum, an ancient name for an ancient settlement.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Hey all, check out Goodkindles

Listed as a blog on this site--great place for connecting readers and writers.

Included on the "Great Websites for Marketing & Connecting with Readers" list by Jeff Bennington from The Kindle Book Review.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Forsaken Hermitage

New poem published over at Fiction and Verse:

I am very grateful to Fiction and Verse for accepting my work...

Listen to a little Kate Wolf while you read it:

Yeah, it's a cover, I know:

I can't find much of Kate's stuff online. So just buy her CD, k?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Spaces Between -- Revised

As we are nearing the final edits of Dead Spaces, I've trimmed some fat from The Spaces Between. There was some bad dialogue, needless descriptions, and a scene or two that were unnecessary. These changes do not take away from the plot and help to keep the story moving--the low reviews I have received for this were spot-on in their assessments.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bizarro Brigade!

Sweet! I have enlisted in the brigade, a collection of the baddest, strangest, most psychotic readers/writers on the planet.

What does that mean?

Honestly, I have no clue, other than there will be more reviews of wonderful bizarro books that will appear on the Voltaire Reviews blog. It also means that my trilogy is going to take a massive turn near the end, when Zhy transforms into a grandmother riding a Harley. No, never mind. Not that.!/pages/Bizarro-Brigade/117104505043288

Come on over. We have cookies.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Iron Chef the Book

Little lull between edits of Dead Spaces. I know, summer is fast fading and still no book... oh well.

Iron Chef: The Official BookIron Chef: The Official Book by Fuji Television
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I first saw Iron Chef on TV, I was on vacation, and the show was on the hotel TV. I remember sitting there on the edge of the stiff-as-a-board mattress, open mouthed, hand on the remote. It wasn't long before the remote was tossed aside and I tucked into watch this amazing, unique show. It was everything a foodie and halfway decent chef such as myself could thoroughly enjoy. I'd read Saburo Sakai's (related to the chef, perhaps?) account of being a Japanese fighter pilot in WWII ( and with my limited understanding of Japanese culture, at least the ancient appreciation of honor and battle, it was that much more impressive.
These were grown men flinging around fois gras and caviar like it was popcorn kernels. And the battles were epic, fever-pitched, and intense.

It's too bad this book doesn't really capture that.

Sure, I love the stats, eat them with a spoon. I enjoy the pictures and the little back stories provided. But somehow you can't really capture the show in a book. I would have preferred more pictures of the dishes and recipes along with the battle stats. The emotions of the combatants (for that is what they are), both winners and losers, were so palpable on the show, but yet I don't feel any of that in here.

There is nothing terribly wrong with this, thus three stars. It just doesn't grab me like the show did, but then maybe I was expecting something more.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jane Eyre ... Is on Fire

OK, so I've been working on the latest bizarro entry in the Voltaire saga (see link to Voltaire's Adventures), in which the lovely Jane Eyre finds herself on fire and in need of assistance. She's not yet Mrs. Rochester, so things have really gone astray in this tale.

The story basically blends Murder by Death with Jane Eyre and a bunch of strange references. So far we have:

* Belgian metal band ADX
* Micromegas (a short story written by Voltaire)
* Manilla Road (another metal band)
* References to the orignal Voltaire story
* Flip Saunders
* A Yoda impersonator
* A cleaver (unpossessed in 1484)

I'm at 136 pages or so, including bonus material. Bizarro like this really doesn't have to be overly long, so it's probably almost done.

QUESTION: What would you like to see in this? What culture reference? Pop star? Soft Drink..? Should it be longer than 150-60 pages? Do you care? Do I exist?

Here's a cheap-o cover, done in GIMP. Probably worth spending some money on it, eh?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Vampires... Again

OK, so in this old post,, I talked about all things vampire and why it's getting old.

Then I saw the advert for Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, and it gave me a brief pause. It sure sounds like something that can't be messed up--one of America's true heroes against the vast horde of the undead. Cool.

But then I started rifling through the collection of books my dad had left me about Lincoln.

The Lincoln Papers:

Lincoln: A Biography:

Abe Lincoln Grows up:

... And then one realizes that the dude really was an amazing man, and the real stuff is sometimes better than any fiction. It is like the various minor religious miracles that occur. Again, why would God put the face of Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich...? Look at the universe, the nebulae out there, blossoming into entire galaxies.

Reality can be much more powerful than fiction.

But, here we go again with the vampires. I'll gladly take one for the team and increase my intake of garlic.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Shill Stops Here

I posted this over on my review blog,

I still struggle with putting out those poor, two-star reviews, but again, it's what the person was in for when requesting a review, right? Plus, it's just my opinion...

OK, folks, in my little review guide I mention briefly how shill reviews, sock puppets, and well-meaning bloggers/reviewers have cheapened the entire indie/small-market publishing community. When everyone gets five stars, it really makes you wonder: Is there anything bad out there?
Because the entire stream cannot be filled with shining gold, sparkling champagne, that's impossible. Sometimes it's clogged with piss and shit.
There are some really super awesome indie/small-market books out there, folks! Really! I'm finding a ton of gems even as I write this, and am blogging them. Some come to me by request, others I find on my own.
I'm sorry to say that not everything is Jane Eyre.
There will be reviews on this site that are rated low. When I built this site, I expected that would happen, but not until these pieces crossed the transom did I realize how hard that would be. You see, I'm a writer too, and if someone hit me with a two-star review, I would be sad. I thought, "gee, do I really want to give out these two stars? How would I feel if I got a low ranking?" The more I pondered and evaluated however, the more I realized I would need to embrace such reviews, work on what needed improving, showcase the various thoughts about my work, and move forward.
And so, with a slightly heavy heart, I will be posting some less-than-stellar stuff here. I've decided I can't shirk from what I've committed to do. There will most likely be consequences, but I have steeled myself and am ready for them.
But, please, please, please, please, keep this in mind: This is my opinion! I am one person in the great web of nets, one little dude. And so are other readers and reviewers. Someone may even choose to buy your book because of my reviews! Think—a book/story with a balance of opinions is indicative of a good work. 100 five-star reviews does not highlight skill or genius to me, but is the result of a carefully built network of shills, well-meaning friends/relatives, or reviewers afraid to give anything less than five stars. Balance, folks, balance, is the meaning of life.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bizarro Reviews

I'm now dipping my big left toe (the one with the eye of newt and .5mm pencil tip growing out of it) into reviewing bizarro fiction. Looking for indie/small-published authors, but I'll pick anything I darned well like, too.

It's fun.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pseudonym or No?

So when do you write with a pseudonym, and if so, how do you keep it up?

I'm wondering because I have written a short historical Christian fiction piece and I am using the name Ehud Gershom... though a few folks have told me that isn't easy to maintain/market, or keep two identities. But my fantasy trilogy is so full of demons, warlocks, and violence, that it seems a little weird to be writing about Christian virtues while I'm also describing a demonic invasion...

Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Jane Eyre is on Fire

Here is a little blurb from the bizarro piece I'm working on:

He plunged through the wormhole and emerged in a dead-dark night ripped asunder with a thousand gaudy lights. The air rippled with the sounds of carnival barkers, rusted bumper cars slamming and screeching against one another, and screaming inbred children; it was clotted with the sickly smell of fried intestine and powdered sugar. Disoriented, Voltaire stumbled and fell face first into a pit of sawdust. He barely had a second to pull his face from the urine- and vomit-soaked cinder when the reeking steel bucket of the Tilt-a-Whirl cracked the side of his skull and he fell, reeling.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dead Spaces - Prologue

**** WARNING: Contains Spoilers from The Spaces Between ****

As such, here is a pretty picture, and the spoiler text below:

The following is (c) 2012 Martin D. Gibbs
Dead Spaces (A Drunkard's Journey, Part II)

**** Click Here to Reveal Spoiler ****


Madness consumed all. Where once there were flickers of madness between the spaces of sanity, now the slivers of sanity were only speckles in the black void of madness.

Her voice.

HER voice! Her VOICE!

It grated. It charred. Like a fire, it burned me, then froze me as if I were being dangled out over the ramparts, left to flounder as a greater, unseen hand clutched my tail.

The horde called, the horde beckoned. It willed out. Without any direction it clawed closer and closer to the surface. What would happen if they reached the surface without my direction—without my control? What would happen to me? Would they kill me? Tear me limb from limb in their ecstasy of murderous rage? I was a prisoner, trapped inside of myself, trapped by the woman I had killed. Why? Why?
I was Ar'Zoth! I had mercilessly slaughtered anything that remained of Bimb. Bimb? Who was Bimb? Why was that name familiar? Had I killed someone already? No, wait! I do remember that name… it was a name that was forced upon me, a name that forever doomed me to a life of idiocy and despair. That is, until Ar'Zoth saved me from myself. Memories, perspectives, understandings, even music, was put to the flame. Bimb was dead. Ar'Zoth remained. Ar'Zoth and madness. Madness and demons.
Let us out, they hissed in sonorous unison.
"I will," I promised with a strained whisper. Magical spells, once forgotten, came back to the fore, but each time I began to take action, her voice would grate and grovel and beg and plead and cry and cry and cry and cry and CRY and CRY!
STOP! I tried to will the voice to stop, but was greeted only by pain and torment.
I will stop you, the voice whispered after an hour-long fit of rage.
"You will never," I panted. "I will find a way. Ar'Zoth will find a way!"
No, you will be stopped, Bimb.
Bimb! That name again. No, no, NO! Bimb was dead!
"Bimb is dead—Mother."
Then Bimb will have to die again.

* * *

"So where is he?"
"He's in the North, hopefully dispatching a dangerous warlock."
He spread his large hands. "It had to be done. No one else would believe the truth."
"Possibly because it was a lie all along?" the stranger sneered, balling a fist. "You sent him to his—”
"He's a strong man and will survive… he has aid. A little mage, a very powerful mage, is helping them. And again, I didn't send—"
"I have connections to the Counsel Guard and to the Archives. I know a thing or two." He paused, glanced around, and nervously continued, "This is far bigger than any of us, and we are better now that he has journeyed. And yes, it was my doing."
"But why?"
"It had to be done," he repeated flatly.
A huge fist slammed down on the pine surface, rattling glasses and sending various liquids into the air. "But he—he was a like a son to me, and you sent him…"
"I didn't send him anywhere," he replied, bristling. "He went of his own accord. And trust me; it was for the betterment of everyone. Everyone."
"He could be…"
"No, we still stand here. This building and this city are still here. It would be much worse had he failed."
The rough hand pounded the bar again, this time with less force. "If I find out that he is dead, you will—"
"I will what? Answer to you? Go to the restraining house?" He chuckled deeply and shook his head. "If he dies, he will die a hero. Do you understand? You will wake up in the morning because of the sacrifice. Remember that."
A once-proud head hung low for a moment, then rose up, eyes glistening in the odd flashes of firelight. "Aye. I will try."
"I would like to speak no more of this," the man replied, lowering his voice. "Thank you for sharing your concern, but things must continue."
The stranger turned and walked to the door. He paused for a moment and looked back at the rough man. And for a mere moment, his lips broke into a smile before curling back into a frown. He carefully shut the door behind him.

Part I
Ravel and Unravel

In which Zhy realizes he's not quite dead and finds himself in strange company on a return journey northward. Additionally, the demons are loose, and we find out just how unstable Bimb has become.

Do you stop for a wayward soul? For he who is lost? For the traveler who has wandered afar? If you choose to stop, or if you choose to continue, you create for yourself additional knots. Which is better? It cannot be known. Each may create for you a dangerous future.

Prophet Zhera, IV Age

Blinding sun hammered his skull. Fierce and unforgiving light knifed into the backs of his eyes, sending tears flowing to protect against the onslaught. Even with lids tightly shut and an arm draped across his face, the intensity of the sun was enough to push him to his knees, sobbing. His knees screamed in throbbing pain as they smashed into the crumbling stone porch, but the brutality of the light was enough to quickly wipe away the sudden shock. With an arm outstretched in pleading, he moaned, "Who are you?"

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Giveaway of The Spaces Between

Go here:

A little blurb on Voltaire and there is a giveaway of The Spaces Between as well.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Time for Voltaire

It is time for Voltaire! It is time to read about his space-traveling frenzy before he got to finish Candide... that's right, we have entered the world of the bizarre.

7,000 words of absolute insanity with a sliver of a plot.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

An excerpt from Dead Spaces - A Drunkard's Journey Part II

Beldeners start to realize that they are on the threshold of Hell:


A young, well-dressed man stood. His voice was refined and silky. The town's only teacher was smart, too smart for his own good, and tended to dig into places he was not allowed. Perhaps he and Voraam had shared an ale or two. "You cannot for one minute pretend that an order like that could be kept secret forever," he purred. If he had joined the Holy Orders, he would be near the top with that voice. "What about the Knights?" he asked.
The Elder sighed heavily and finally sat down on the dais. His stomach was still a knot of terror.

"Who are the Knights?" someone finally dared to ask.

The elder started to speak, but the teacher explained in his silky voice. Explained what the Knights of the Black Dawn were, and how they fought a constant battle against demons. Oh, sure, he had seen men all clad in black, fighting creatures on his travels, and dug into as much research as he could find, always running into brick walls laid forth by the Holy Elders. He finally put it together, but kept silent, for he did not want any vengeance exacted upon them. But now, all had changed. What had happened to the vaunted Knights?

"Something has happened," the elder breathed, staring down at the scuffed wood floor of the temple. "The Knights… well, yes, you are right, Teacher Rhys. They do exist." Another wave of gasps. He thought he heard someone faint, but dared not look up; instead, he addressed the floor. "And I am sure they are busy working on this new—development. Nothing has happened to the Knights, I mean." He was rambling. Never since his indoctrination had he felt like such a novice, struggling to spit words out to this elders. "It is a—disturbance. We cannot quite explain it. I have missives from other temples who say the same thing. It is very odd."

"A demonic invasion is odd?" Voraam shouted. "Odd? No, Elder, blue weevils in grain is odd. This is downright evil! Even if all we see are the ones who cannot survive, who knows what others are out there. It could be an invasion for all we know!"

"What have we done wrong to deserve this?" came a timid voice near the front.

A thousand things you have done wrong, the Elder wanted to say. You and everyone in here. Some of you shorting the weights of your goods, others selling rotten nuts buried in the barrels of good ones, a man slinking around with another man's wife (or even husband), a wife proclaiming love for a man she hates, only to get his money. You are all vile and deserve the evil that befalls you. These thoughts floated through his head, but he suppressed putting voice to them, if only because of a lone timid voice: This is terrifying my children. Unlike other elders, he believed children to be innocent. What sin was ever so great it punished the children and the innocent? For years he had dealt with indiscretion and sin on a purely individual level—a summer cold could be attributed to your lies about the number of ales you had drunk, or a pimple the result of a filched turnip from a field. These were easy ailments to throw back in the face of the individual, as a means to somehow force them to adapt a moral and righteous way of living. And he always took it upon himself to remind them that sin weaves complex knots, and we need to make sure to keep knots that are simple and straightforward (as straightforward as a knot could be). But this—this was something on a much larger scale. Perhaps it was punishment for sin, perhaps the demons were out to claim their due, to swallow the evil and subsume the hedonists. But children? Babes? Who could look a child in the face and tell them they will starve because his daddy slept with the innkeeper's daughter?

In front of the open-mouthed worshippers, he put his head in his hands, the large folds of his robe swallowing his face. When it emerged again, tears streamed from his cheeks. The lid was off and not going back—let them see his emotion. There was nothing left to hide. "You have done nothing wrong," he choked, against all the drilling thoughts that bore into his mind, all the teachers and elders who would tear off his left ear could they hear him now. "Nothing."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Death by Zamboni

I highly recommend this book.

Here's my review I put up for it.

I love bizarro stories, I love wild and crazy--I mean, so wild and crazy that you completely forget your own name. But I also like a complete story, an adventure, a quest, a mystery to solve.

This book melds both perfectly together.

Throughout we have the mystery of the missing man, and our PI is hot (well, not hot, more like lukewarm, well no, more like cold coffee warm, no, not really. He's really cold, but he still isn't too bad). Anyway... there is a definite storyline here that is structured and established. There is also enough ridiculousness that one is never quite sure what comes next. And what comes next may be a new twist in the investigation, or something so silly you can't stop laughing.

It is very cleverly written, and there are moments where you think your hand holds firmly to sanity, and then it is kicked away violently by a steel-toed boot. The boot, of course, belonging to a mime.

Get this. Read it. If you like the strange and the bizarre, and don't mind having your brain explode right outside of your skull. It feels so good!

And a shout-out to Peter Sellers? Classic!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blog Hop!

This sounded like fun and a good way to network, so...

Let's do the hop!

Check out Dawn and Winnie Book reviews. Awesome site!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Another 25-word story

The clay urn lies shattered. A swift hammer-blow has set her free; her ashes blow in the wind-for a second time she escapes him.

Friday, March 2, 2012

25-word short story

Numbers, numbers, numbers. Drowning in 1s and 0s, consumed by fractals and algorithms, intoxicated by indexes and exponents; he burns in a fire of woe.

Check out the full thread of them:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Voltaire's Adventures Before Candide

Do you sometimes sit there, in your petty little chair, wondering what it all means? Why are we even upon this planet? What insane person decided to place us here and give us these meaningless, hopeless, idiotic chores to blindly complete? This bizarre story about Candide before he sat down to write Candide will not answer that question, but will at least take your mind off the screaming hell that is reality.
Warning: The following contains material which is harmful to the sane.
I'm serious. If you value any of your connections to reality, stop right here. This is not some trick to get you to keep reading, like a Lights Out episode, it's a real warning. You probably got this for free, and that's a good thing—my other work is not as all-out nutso as this piece of drivel.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blackadder Moment

"I'm anaspeptic, frasmotic, even compunctuous to have caused you such pericombobulation."


Friday, February 17, 2012

Blurb for the Spaces Between

The current one isn't working. It sounds too cliche, when in fact I'm making fun at those cliches. Thinking of changing the blurb to this:

An exiled warlock sits fuming in his confinement. A not-so-secret holy Order can't keep its "elite" members alive. An idiot man-child talks to a dead man who leads him nearly to his death. A Holy Temple sits waiting for new tenants as the others were slaughtered by a demonic abomination. And a bull-headed mercenary is convinced he can trek off into the great north and learn magic.

Fantasy clichés are put to the test in this off-beat and dark fantasy story. There is an adventure, a journey, a quest if you will. But the "heroes", if you dare call them that, will not even come close to saving the world.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Little Clue

Not content at just writing fantasy, I've started a new project. I have no life and that's OK. Here is a little clue:

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of King Herod, suddenly some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east asking, "Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage."
 When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They told him, "At Bethlehem in Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:
'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are by no means the least among the leaders of Judah, for from you will come a leader who will shepherd my people Israel.'"
Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared and sent them on to Bethlehem with the words, "Go and find out all about the child, and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage."
 Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And suddenly the star they had seen rising went forward and halted over the place where the child was.
The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.
But they were given a warning in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Need for a Dystopian Ideal in Fantasy

We need a dystopian ideal in fantasy.
It is perfectly normal and OK that the heroes survive, that the magic item is found and that at least most of the main good guys stay alive. But what if they all get to the end and are murdered by the evil villain? Because, after all, that is most likely what would happen in reality, isn’t it? One cannot face a fully-loaded freight train with a pen-knife and hope to survive.
Of course, fantasy stories deal with the heroes, as most stories do. The guy/gal who is strong enough to rise up and find the ring or save the prisoners. That’s fine. What would the point be of telling a long and involved narrative if you’re just going to kill everyone off anyway? Who would read that?
Isn't it worth the effort to find out? Life is not always fair.
There are too many predictable endings and too many predictable scenarios, in fantasy especially. George RR Martin (to name a massive name in the genre) has done well to keep us off-balance by killing of a slew of characters we may have rooted for.
I tell you it is not enough.
Let's take the Seanchan in Wheel of Time...constantly oppressing those who can channel, stringing them on leashes like dogs, and treating them worse. It fits the dystopian milieu, through dehumanization of the damane, and its obvious parallel to slavery. But what will happen in the final book? Will someone rise up from within, or will Rand crush them utterly? Who is to say, but my money is on the liberation of the damane. Again, it's not quite close enough.
Who will rise up from inside and try to change the oppressive society, try to overthrow the leaders? Often in heroic fantasy, the hero swoops in and saves everyone. But in reality that change doesn't happen this world, people still buy other people. Nothing changed overnight after the civil war. And so I fear the Seanchan issue will get a different paint job in the final book, perhaps a good one, but maybe not one that will please the "fans" of dystopia, those who want Jordan/Sanderson to make a statement.
Fantasy needs more Seanchan-like examples, I believe, in order to provide some balance to the hero-goes-on-the-quest-and-saves-the-world. If a world is being dominated by a religion, a system of government, or a mad warlock, who says that the good guys have to win?
I know, I know, it is fantasy, and thus almost anything is possible. But fantastical worlds don't have to come with a guideline stating that a hero must rise, find a sacred relic, and rescue everyone from damnation. What if there is no sacred relic? What if the "hero" traverses a thousand miles only to be flung into a bit of Doom?
This scene, and others like it, would go a long way to add a unique dynamic to the genre. I suspect it would be unpopular with major publishing houses who want to stay safe and secure in the established clichés. But for those authors daring enough to push the envelope and reflect a world where the oppressed and downtrodden are not necessarily liberated, there could be a major benefit of having launched a new trend.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Dystopian Virtue

Please check out this awesome blog post... while The Spaces Between flirts with dystopian ideals, it's nowhere near where it could be--where I was almost afraid to take it.

The Dystopian Virtue

KDP Select - Promotion

A big THANK YOU to everyone who took advantage of the Amazon promotion that ran this weekend. I am glad that you got your hands on a copy of The Spaces Between, and I really look forward to hearing feedback about the book.

I'm happy to be able to tell a story, and even happier when people read it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Indie Publishing or Traditional Publishing?

There is a great discussion going on on the Kindle Boards (that I started) about traditional versus indie publishing.

Follow it here:,100847.0.html

And here is what I wrote:

Is the perception of indie publishing declining? In one of the other “reader-only” forums, someone mentioned that they refuse to read any more indie works because of sock-puppet reviews, paid reviews, and other under-handed behavior by independently-published authors.

I’m clawing and scratching to break into traditional publishing, mainly because I don’t have time or money to promote my work 24x7, or to shovel my way through the chaff and onto readers’ radar. It’s too easy for people to create an .epub file and fire it off into cyberspace, such that there is a lot of junk out there (maybe my stuff is junk, too, who knows). So getting into the traditional market allows one to have that line of distribution behind them, the power to setup signings, market locally, and not come across as someone who just downloaded Calibre and uploaded to Amazon.

There is a plethora of awesome indie books out there, and I’ve read many and been very impressed. But there is so much noise that it just doesn’t seem like the fight is worth it... getting a traditional contract is looking more and more appealing.

Does anyone share similar thoughts?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Iron Chef!

I just found this terrific site for old Iron Chef episodes. Not this new American version, but the original Japanese show. We don't have all the cable channels at our house, so we don't necessarily get to watch these great old shows. Thanks to this awesome site, we do now!

Go check it out, I've even linked it to my feeds.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sick of Vampires Yet?

I have watched the phenomenon of Twilight and all the spin-offs and knock-offs with interest, being a fan of vampires. I’m not really into the romantic style that Twilight embraces, and even Anne Rice is a little tame for me. However, as an author, I applaud the success of Twilight and am amazed at the popularity. Go, Stephenie Meyer, go!

This is not a criticism of anything Twilight—there’s too much of that. Rather, I’d like to point out a vampire series that describes the darker, more sinister, and downright evil nature of these bloodsucking creatures.

Folks, if you have not read Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series, you are missing some absolutely awesome vampire stories. It is not without flaws, and sometimes I’d wish he’d back off on the whole paranormal/ESP think. But the vampires?

There is nothing romantic about them.

Think of a large leech living inside you, attached to your entire core, being part of you. It is you, you are it. It needs to feed, and doesn’t care how—and if it has to reproduce, beware of pulsating tentacles and rudimentary body parts lifting from the very earth!


Deadspeak and Deadspawn make up books 4 and 5 of the “trilogy”, there is a Vampire World trilogy in the middle between even more Necroscope books. But my favorites are the first 3 in the original trilogy and the Vampire World. I stayed up all night reading "The Last Aerie"... amazing.

Now, the whole source of vampires is what intrigues me, and where I could almost believe it could happen, given our knowledge of wormholes and all that.

I love the series, but if Lumley had cut out all the ESP/paranormal information, I think he could have condensed the five books into 3, and then done the 3 Vampire World Series. I have to curtail myself as an author, because there is much more to go on, but I need to remember that I am trying to stick to 3. No biggie, just some thoughts.

So.. fans of Twilight, if you’re looking for more gore, evil, self-serving, parasitic vampires with nothing redeeming about them, pick up the Necroscope today!