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Guest Post: Writing from a Trope Wish List by Michael R. Underwood


Please welcome Michael R. Underwood to The Qwillery! Annihilation Aria, the first novel in his new Space Opera series, will be published on July 21, 2020 by Parvus Press.



Guest Post: Writing from a Trope Wish List by Michael R. Underwood




Writing from a Trope Wish List

Some time ago, I heard author Annie Bellet talk about doing herself the favor of making a list of tropes she loved and making sure to use as many as she could to help make a book more fun to write, with the hope that it would then be more fun for readers as well.

The result was her 20-sided Sorceress series, which has done very well and, I think, completely validates this approach.

So, when it came to develop my ideas for what would become ANNIHILATION ARIA, I decided to borrow a page from Annie’s book and build myself a trope wish list.

I grew up on Star Wars as a foundational space opera influence, so anything I write in the more adventure-oriented side of space opera or space fantasy is going to bear the mark of that galaxy far, far away. For ARIA, that influence mostly shows up in the form of including Cool Swords in a setting that mostly features firearms. Lahra’s sword of station is also a BS Fantasy Sword – it would not be practical or effective for a human to use in reality, but looks cool and works for Lahra as an alien warrior hero.

Other tropes I wanted to play with included Found Family, Ship as Home, Gigantic Weird Location, Happily Committed Couple Having Adventures, Evil Super-soldiers, Cyborg Pilot, Last Member of a Warrior People, Friendly Megafauna, Cool Aliens, Space Magic, Hero From Earth Far From Home, and some that constitute spoilers, so I’m leaving them out here.


Building a Novel With a Trope Wish List

The idea with the trope wish list is to lay out some building blocks instead of developing the novel from scratch. The tropes to use constitute locations, characters, and some worldbuilding elements.

For my main cast, I have Max as my Hero From Earth Far From Home, Lahra as the Last Member of a Warrior People with the Silly Fantasy Sword and Space Magic, and they’re the Happily Married Couple Having Adventures. Then to round out their Found Family, I have Wheel the Cyborg Pilot who connects with/operates the Ship as Home.

Their main port/base is The Wreck, a Gigantic Weird Location (a crashed colony ship-turned city), and then there’s also a space city built on the backs of the Drell, giant space turtles that are Friendly Megafauna. The main bad guys in the setting are Evil Super-soldiers, the galaxy is populated by some other Cool Aliens like the avian Rellix, the Atlan (Wheel’s cybernetics-using species), and the clannish, mercantile Illhari.


Other Ways to Use Tropes While Building a Novel

A broader view of the trope wish list could involve trope-y plot beats, from the Double-Cross or the Hold The Line kind of battle to something like The War Council ala the Death Star briefing. I didn’t really use the trope wish list on the plot level, but if you really like certain types of scenes or are interested in building a story around set-pieces, this approach could be useful. It can give you pillars or centers of gravity for the plot, shaping a story around the core scenes you’re most excited for.


The Big Picture

Ultimately, the cool thing about using a trope wish list is that it can help you ramp up your hype for your own novel. Having spent a few years going from novel to novel and reading in the field and paying attention to trends, it was really liberating to re-connect so intentionally and directly with some of my favorite tropes. Tropes aren’t bad, they’re just building blocks. Especially since I ended up writing ANNIHILATION ARIA over the course of several years, revisiting it several times between other projects before taking it over the finish line in 2018.





Annihilation Aria
The Space Operas 1
Parvus Press, July 21, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Guest Post: Writing from a Trope Wish List by Michael R. Underwood
Max is cheery xeno-archeologist from Earth, stranded and trying to find a way home. Lahra is a stern warrior of a nearly extinct race searching for her people’s heir. Wheel is the couple’s cybernetic pilot running from her past and toward an unknown future.

On Wheel’s ship, the Kettle, the trio traverses the galaxy, dodging Imperial patrols and searching ancient ruins for anything they can sell. The crew of the Kettle are deeply in debt to their home base’s most powerful gangster, and she wants her money back.  

So when a dangerous, but promising job comes their way, Max, Lahra, and Wheel have little choice but to take it. However, the crew of the Kettle gets more than they bargained for when they find themselves in possession of a powerful artifact, one that puts them in the crosshairs of the Vsenk, the galaxy’s ruthless and oppressive imperial overlords. 

Max, Lahra, and Wheel are pulled into a web of galactic subterfuge, ancient alien weaponry, a secret resistance force, lost civilizations, and giant space turtles.  The Vsenk will stop at nothing to recover what the crew of the Kettle has found and Max’s brains, Lahra’s muscle, and Wheel’s skills may be all that stands between entire planets and annihilation.  

Can they evade space fascists, kick-start a rebellion, and save the galaxy all while they each try to find their own way home?





About Michael

Guest Post: Writing from a Trope Wish List by Michael R. Underwood
Michael R. Underwood is the author of over twelve books, including Annihilation Aria, Born to the Blade (an epic fantasy serial), the Ree Reyes Geekomancy series and Genrenauts, a series of novellas, which was a finalist for the r/Fantasy “Stabby” Award.

Mike grew up devouring stories in all forms, from comics to video games, tabletop RPGs, movies, and books. He holds a B.A. in Creative Mythology and in East Asian Studies from Indiana University and a M.A. in Folklore Studies from the University of Oregon.

In years past, he danced Argentine Tango and was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and studying historical martial arts. Mike has been a hobby game store clerk, a student archivist, a webmaster, a web design teacher, a bear-builder, a bookseller, an independent publishers’ representative, and more.

Mike lives in Baltimore with his wife, their dog Oreo, and an ever-growing library. He also loves geeking out with video & role-playing games, studying historical martial arts, and making pizzas from scratch. He is also a co-host on the actual play show Speculate! and a guest host on The Skiffy and Fanty Show.

Website  ~  Twitter @MikeRUnderwood  ~  Facebook

Guest Blog: Spooky Supernatural Snark by Gail Z. Martin


Please welcome Gail Z. Martin to The Qwillery!


Guest Blog: Spooky Supernatural Snark by Gail Z. Martin



Spooky Supernatural Snark

By Gail Z. Martin

If you’ve got trouble with an albatwitch and a snallygaster, who’re you gonna call?

Mark Wojcik, mechanic and monster hunter!

Mark is the snarky monster hunter who stars in the Spells, Salt and Steel series that I co-write with my husband Larry N. Martin. The series is set in the corner of Northwestern Pennsylvania where Larry and I grew up, so that offers a lot of strange creepy creatures (like albatwitches and snallygasters) you probably haven’t run into before in urban fantasy books.

In the two most recent Spells, Salt and Steel stories, Night Moves and Monster Mash, Mark has his hands full with strange creatures, meddling secret agents, and paranormal priests. Of course, for Mark, that’s just another day on the job!

Someone is messing around with the cryptids in his part of the Pennsylvania backwoods, and when he’s called in to deal with a rogue sheepsquatch, Mark has more on his hands than he’s used to! There are rogue government agencies, a coven of witches, and secret branches of the Catholic Church, all while he tries to figure out who’s bespelling normally peaceful mythical creatures into raging monsters. Mark hasn’t had a week this bad since the last time he had to fight a butt-nekkid gnome.

He's hunting an Albatwitch, chasing a Mothman, and dealing with all sorts of rogue cryptids that shouldn't be anywhere near the Pennsylvania backwoods. Why are all these new monsters showing up all of a sudden? Why do some of them look like they've escaped from a medical testing facility or a research laboratory? What in the world is he going to do with all these critters?

To get to the bottom of this mystery, he'll call on all his resources - Father Leo, Donny the Werewolf, the Scooby Gang of young supernaturals he mentors, and a few new faces, too.
Then the Polish warrior-priest shows up and the team investigates a VERY haunted mental hospital. It's more than just a typical monster hunt for Mark Wojcik, and he's going to need every friend and resource he's got to stay alive.

The Mark Wojcik books also cross over with my Deadly Curiosities series and my Night Vigil series, as well as the urban fantasy MM paranormal romance series I write as Morgan Brice, so there’s a big, spooky world to explore!

Watch for more Spells Salt and Steel novellas coming this year!






Night Moves
Spells, Salt, & Steel 5
Paperback and Kindle eBook, 108 pages

Guest Blog: Spooky Supernatural Snark by Gail Z. Martin
Mark Wojcik is back and his life is getting weirder than ever!

Someone is messing around with the cryptids in his part of the Pennsylvania backwoods, and when he’s called in to deal with a rogue sheepsquatch, Mark has more on his hands than he’s used to! There are rogue government agencies, a coven of witches, the Catholic Church, and a brand new Scooby Gang of magically talented young adults to deal with, all while he tries to figure out who’s bespelling normally peaceful mythical creatures into raging monsters. Mark hasn’t had a week this bad since the last time he had to fight a butt-nekkid gnome.



Monster Mash
Spells, Salt, & Steel 6
Paperback and Kindle eBook, 128 pages

Guest Blog: Spooky Supernatural Snark by Gail Z. Martin
Mark Wojcik is back, and his life is weirder than ever!

He's hunting an Albatwitch, chasing a Mothman, and dealing with all sorts of rogue cryptids that shouldn't be anywhere near the Pennsylvania backwoods. Why are all these new monsters showing up all of a sudden? Why do some of them look like they've escaped from a medical testing facility or a research laboratory? What in the world is he going to do with all these critters?

To get to the bottom of this mystery, he'll call on all his resources - Father Leo, Donny the Werewolf, the Scooby Gang of young supernaturals he mentors, and a few new faces, too. Travis Dominick and Brent Lawson make a visit to help find out what's going on and see if there really are demons involved in the strange happenings.

Then the Russian priest shows up and the team investigates a VERY haunted mental hospital. It's more than just a typical monster hunt for Mark Wojcik, and he's going to need every friend and resource he's got to stay alive.



Previously

Guest Blog: Spooky Supernatural Snark by Gail Z. Martin
Spells, Salt, & Steel 1
Guest Blog: Spooky Supernatural Snark by Gail Z. Martin
Spells, Salt, & Steel 2
Guest Blog: Spooky Supernatural Snark by Gail Z. Martin
Spells, Salt, & Steel 3
Guest Blog: Spooky Supernatural Snark by Gail Z. Martin
Spells, Salt, & Steel 4





About the Author

Guest Blog: Spooky Supernatural Snark by Gail Z. Martin
Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, SOL Publishing, Darkwind Press, and Falstaff Books. Recent books include Witch of the Woods, Sellsword’s Oath, Inheritance, and Night Moves. With Larry N. Martin, she is the co-author of the Spells Salt & Steel, Wasteland Marshals, Joe Mack and Jake Desmet series. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance including the Witchbane, Badlands and Treasure Trail series. Recent books include Loose Ends and Unholy.


Website ~ Amazon ~ Blog ~ BookBub ~ Facebook ~ Facebook Group ~ Goodreads ~ Newsletter ~ Pinterest ~ Twitter ~ Free Short Story

Guest Post by Sarah Chorn, author of OF HONEY AND WILDFIRES


Please welcome Sarah Chorn to The Qwillery with a guest post about some of the research she did to create the fascinating magic system in her new novel Of Honey and Wildfires.

And please join The Qwillery in wishing Sarah a very Happy Publication Day!



Guest Post by Sarah Chorn, author of OF HONEY AND WILDFIRES



One of the most unique aspects (in my humble opinion) of Of Honey and Wildfires is the magic system. “Shine” (what magic is called in this book) is based on the oil and coal industries in the mid-to-late 1800’s. Shine comes in a liquid and a rock form. It’s either pumped out of the earth in big wells that people dig, or it’s mined. Shine is used for a whole slew of things. People add it to their food and drinks. It’s used to heal injuries and illness. It’s used to power trains, and send messages. There’s also a darker side to it, but I’ll let you read the book to figure that out.

I do a whole lot of real-world research when I write. I like to base as much of my secondary worlds and magic system on the real world as possible. I went down some pretty wild rabbit holes when I was researching oil and coal to make my “shine” in this book. For example, did you know that people would drink oil as a curative? Did you know that oil was used in China some 7,000+ years ago?

Fascinating stuff, right?

So, here is where I will geek out a bit about the aspects of oil and coal that I didn’t know before writing this book, and how I used this information to inform my “shine” in Of Honey and Wildfires.



The early 18th century marked a change in society, from agrarian to more industrial as steam engines and the like were introduced to the world.

Suddenly, coal was a thing people could use to heat houses, and even power engines. The benefit of coal was that a little of it went a long way. A half-ton of coal produced four times more energy than the same amount of wood.

Soon, people started wondering what else the earth held in it (some say that environmental concerns drove people toward oil, some say it was just a natural progression). Regardless, the oil industry entered the American landscape in 1859 with a well dug in Pennsylvania.

That, however, is not really where the oil industry starts. Not globally, at least. Now, follow me, dear reader, while we go down a rabbit hole that will take us back a few thousand years, to China.

The earliest sign of wells being dug is in the Zhejiang Province, in China. Evidence for wells, dating back some 7,000 years ago, when people were just starting to enter the region and cultivate the land. At this time, people in the coastal regions would boil water from the sea to produce salt. Salt was a valuable preservative, used to preserve foods as well as in cooking. As people moved inland, and the population became denser, people inland began to dig salt wells. The first recorded salt well was dug in the Sichuan Province around 2,250 years ago.

There is evidence of the drilling techniques changing over time, from using percussive methods to break through the rock and shale, to eventually using bamboo and pressure, which allowed people to dig deeper wells, easier. The first well to reach more than 1,000 meters in depth was the Shanghai Well in 1835. Oil, natural gas, petroleum and the like was often an unwanted byproduct of salt water drilling.

Guest Post by Sarah Chorn, author of OF HONEY AND WILDFIRES
Early 20th century scene. Zigong City, with hundreds of salt transportation boats on the Fuxi River. (Image from Zhong & Huang) Taken from the article linked one paragraph down.

Salt was often traded on boats through rivers, while bamboo pipeline was created to pump oil and natural gas. For a long time, the salt and natural gas industry were two separate beasts (the salt being more useful and desired than the oil), but there is evidence of a fledgling natural gas industry dating back to 61 BC. Around the 16th century, technology was developed that allowed people to cultivate more natural gas. Usually, until this point, wood had been used to boil the water, which would then evaporate and leave behind salt. Now, natural gas could be used, preserving more trees and reducing deforestation in areas.

This merging of the salt and natural gas industry is what allowed Zigong’s salt production to reach an industrial scale. (I highly recommend you read this article about all this to gain more depth and detail, as well as pictures.) Another fun fact: Herodotus claimed that asphalt was used in the construction of walls, nearly four thousand years ago, and much of it was found on the banks of the river Issus. (more here)

This brings us to the US oil industry. In 1849, a man named Samual Keir began extracting oil from the saltwater wells on his property. After some experimentation, he discovered that the substance that was the byproduct of his saltwater wells had the same chemical properties of the stuff his wife was being prescribed for her ailments. He decided to see what else it could be used for. He started selling his oil for medicinal purposes and, of course, being the enterprising soul he was, he grew rich.

In the 1850’s, Kier started drilling for crude exclusively, rather than finding it as a byproduct of salt water. He joined up with John T. Kirkpatrick and started the first oil refinery wherein they refined the oil so it was cleaner and more efficient “carbon oil.” (more here)

From news of Kier’s success came the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, created by George Bissell and Benjamin Silliman. (more here)

In 1859, one very lucky chap, Edwin Drake, was sent by the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company to rural Pennsylvania dig, specifically, for oil. He ended up with a well that was 69.5 feet deep. While whale oil had been used for a long time, this “rock oil” was safer than many other oils used on the market, like camphene, which was explosive. This discovery turned Pennsylvania into one of the first “producing states.”

Guest Post by Sarah Chorn, author of OF HONEY AND WILDFIRES
Edwin Drake, right, stands with friend Peter Wilson of Titusville, Pennsylvania, at the drilling site – but not the original cable-tool derrick – of America’s first oil well. Photo courtesy Drake Well Museum. (Image found in this article.)

Fun fact: Crude oil had been found in medicine as far back as 1814, though the oil used for these was found using primitive drilling methods, and the people who found this crude (in Kentucky and Tennessee, respectively), were often drilling for brine, using “spring poles” instead of the pressurized drilling used in Pennsylvania. The small amount of oil was an unwanted byproduct and thus, put into medicine. (more here)

Truthfully, oil has been used throughout civilization in many different ways, but usually, the finding of it was met with dismay. It was an unwanted byproduct of drilling to find brine, which was a valuable source of salt, used to preserve food, and etc. (more here)

Anyway, back to good ol’ Americana Black Gold.

Word got out about Drake’s find in Pennsylvania, so all sorts of people decided to come out and find their own oil. There was so much competition, that within two years, Drake had to shut his well down. Not long after, more oil was found in states out west, and Pennsylvania sort of dried up while people hied off to Texas and other states to strike it rich with the black gold.



This seems like a good place to stop things for now. It leaves a jumping-off point for what happens next – the introduction of big oil companies, Rockefeller, frontier life, western expansion, the resource curse, all of which I used in one way or another as jumping-off points for the creation of not just the magic system, but issues faced in Shine Territory as a whole.

The research I do while writing often fascinates me and helps me inform my plot and characters in some unexpected ways. I learn far more than what I actually use in my books, but knowing these things helps me add dimension, texture, and layers to my writing.

I hope, if you choose to read Of Honey and Wildfires, you’ll enjoy the magic system as much as I enjoyed creating it.





Of Honey and Wildfires
April 28, 2020
Kindle eBook, 308 pages

Guest Post by Sarah Chorn, author of OF HONEY AND WILDFIRES
From the moment the first settler dug a well and struck a lode of shine, the world changed. Now, everything revolves around that magical oil.

What began as a simple scouting expedition becomes a life-changing ordeal for Arlen Esco. The son of a powerful mogul, Arlen is kidnapped and forced to confront uncomfortable truths his father has kept hidden. In his hands lies a decision that will determine the fate of everyone he loves—and impact the lives of every person in Shine Territory.

The daughter of an infamous saboteur and outlaw, Cassandra has her own dangerous secrets to protect. When the lives of those she loves are threatened, she realizes that she is uniquely placed to change the balance of power in Shine Territory once and for all.

Secrets breed more secrets. Somehow, Arlen and Cassandra must find their own truths in the middle of a garden of lies.





About Sarah

Guest Post by Sarah Chorn, author of OF HONEY AND WILDFIRES
Sarah has been a compulsive reader her whole life. At a young age, she found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a freelance writer and editor, a semi-pro nature photographer, world traveler, three-time cancer survivor, and mom to one six-year-old, and one rambunctious toddler. In her ideal world, she’d do nothing but drink lots of tea and read from a never-ending pile of speculative fiction books.

Website  ~  Twitter @BookwormBlues  ~  Facebook

Cover Reveal - FAKE CHOCOLATE by Amber Royer!


The Qwillery is thrilled to host the cover reveal for the 3rd novel in Amber Royer's Chocoverse  - FAKE CHOCOLATE!


When disease ravages Earth’s cacao plantations, Bo Benitez returns home to help with the media spin to hide that chocolate is in danger of being lost forever. HGB has come up with a new product – one which doesn’t appease the cocoa-addicted murderous, shark-toothed aliens threatening to invade the planet. Someone has to smooth things out. Just when Bo starts to make headway, someone tries to kidnap her. While trying to avoid more would-be-kidnappers, Bo finds out that HGB is developing a cure for withdrawal from the Invincible Heart. Will she let her need to be physically whole again tie her to HGB and its enigmatic CEO? When she gets a key piece of evidence that would unravel secrets from three different planets, she has tough choices to make about the future of her world and its place in the galaxy.

Fake Chocolate will be available in paperback and Kindle eBook on April 14, 2020!

Pre-order Fake Chocolate at Amazon and Barnes and Noble!




Space Pirates
by
Amber Royer

As a writer, influences come from a ton of different places and can pop up in your work years, even decades later. And when one idea sparks off another, those influences can be changed in ways you couldn’t have imagined before you started writing. With the Chocoverse, where there’s about to be a galactic war over controlling the source of chocolate, one big plot thread centers around space pirates who are known to grapple onto chocolate transport vessels, space the crew and take the cargo. Brill, the romantic lead in the series, is constantly reminding people he’s not a pirate – he’s a gray trader. Which goes a long way in defining his moral code. Even though he does questionable things over the course of the trilogy, there are some big lines he won’t cross.

People keep asking how I thought up the Chocoverse, and why I wrote it. There are a number of aspects and reasons. But for the inclusion of the space pirates, it is simple.

When I was a kid, we lived close enough to Galveston, Texas, to daytrip across to the island. After my husband and I first got married, we were even known to take the occasional ferry ride over just for dinner. We were spoiled to fresh Gulf Coast seafood, and after-dinner walks along the moonlit beach. As long as it wasn’t jellyfish season. And there wasn’t a high concentration of washed-up seaweed or tar balls. (If you’re not from Texas, here’s an explanation of what a tar ball is: http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/texas-primer-the-tar-ball/).

Galveston doesn’t rate tops as a beach destination. But one thing it does have is history. And I’ve always been fascinated with it. Not one, but two, of my early (eck, unpublishable) novels were set in the midst of the events leading up to the 1900 hurricane that devastated the island. (https://www.1900storm.com/). I took a run at it as historical fiction, then again as time travel. When I was doing the research, I spent a lot of time upstairs in the Special Collections section of the Rosenberg Library, handling with gloved hands original letters survivors wrote in the aftermath of the devastation, learning about the way they piped sand in from underwater in order to raise the island farther up out of the ocean by fifteen feet (watch this video detailing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beGT8OkWwBE) and then topping it with a sea wall to brace against another storm. (2008’s Hurricane Ike took a similar path across the island, and while the damage was still devastating, it was mitigated by the sea wall).

But there was something else that happened as a result of raising the island. Jean Lafitte’s pirate treasure – if it every really existed – was lost forever under fifteen feet worth of new soil, and the already vague ideas about the potential location were made worthless when the landmarks all changed. (http://therecordlive.com/2009/04/29/jean-lafitte-legendary-gulf-pirate-is-some-of-his-gold-still-buried-here/) People today are still looking for the treasure up Texas rivers, and in Lafitte’s other favorite town, New Orleans.

There’s so much mystery surrounding Lafitte – nobody even knows for sure when he was born or when he died (either in exile or in battle, depending in which sources you believe). And how history views him as a person – well, that varies. After all, one historian’s pirate is another historian’s privateer.

A privateer is a pirate who is backed by a specific government, who is legally allowed to commit acts of piracy against ships from countries with which that country is at odds. Even then, it wasn’t always clear cut. As part of his brother Pierre’s operation, Lafitte likely got his first Letter of Marque (privateer sponsorship) from the French, in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). (This of course cannot be verified – the sources keep hedging with statements like, “Ramsay speculates that Lafitte was born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue. . .” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Lafitte ). That early privateering would have started around 1805. But by the time war broke out in 1812, a number of the Lafitte Brothers’ boats had Letters of Marque from the United States – and the British. And other governments, too. According to GoNOLA.com, “Goods captured from British ships were supposed to be turned over to the US, but it was hard to tell what was what, so the Americans quickly felt double-crossed by Lafitte and his men. On November 13, 1812, the Americans raided Barataria, arrested the Lafittes and 25 of their men and confiscated all of their goods. The borthers Lafitte made bail but then skipped, not returning for trial. Pierre was re-arrested in 1813 and jailed. Jean continued the smuggling and piracy . . .” http://gonola.com/2011/10/26/nola-history-jean-lafitte-the-pirate.html

Even after that, when the British offered Lafitte a pardon for his crimes in exchange for information that could turn the tide of the war, Lafitte refused, honoring his previous loyalties. (His brother was “allowed to escape” from prison, as a sort of a thank-you for this.) Yet later, we see Lafitte in the role of spy, assisting the Spanish in their attempts to stop Mexico from gaining independence. So it is really hard to see what his motives were in all of this, and where his values lay. Many of his decisions can be explained best in terms of self-interest and profit. And yet, he was a folk hero, even during his own lifetime.

It was this complexity and moral ambiguity about pirates that fascinated me (and reading Treasure Island as a kid didn’t hurt.) There is such of a sense of romance surrounding pirates – and yet, if you look at accounts of actual modern-day piracy, you can see how coldly horrific their actions must have been. That’s something I wanted to explore a bit with the galactic-level pirates in Free Chocolate.

On some geeky level, space pirates are just cool. Look at the joy protagonist Mark Watney feels in The Martian, when he’s able – through some quirks of real-world international law – to say, "After I board Ares 4, before talking to NASA, I will take control of a craft in international waters without permission. That makes me a pirate! A space pirate!"

But I didn’t want to just slap the word “space” in front of everything and consider it a magnification of the earth equivalent. (The silliness of that is explored in this TvTropes article over here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpacePirates -- but don’t blame me if you get sucked in clicking links to other terms on their site.)

And on a practical level, look at Treasure Planet, which completely bombed at the box office (though it’s my second favorite Treasure island film adaptation – right after Muppet Treasure Island.) It probably did so poorly in part because “Space pirates,” as a term is almost a joke (which makes it a good thing I’m writing a comedy). There are other universes where characters are committing piracy (erherm, I’m looking at you Firefly), but they just don’t call it that. Which makes it more palatable. But Free Chocolate’s supposed to be funny, so I let the characters use the term. At one point in Book 3 Bo is exasperated about being kidnapped by space pirates. Again.





Previously in the Chocoverse

Free Chocolate
Chocoverse 1
Angry Robot, June 5, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Latina culinary arts student, Bo Benitez, becomes a fugitive when she’s caught stealing a cacao pod from the heavily-defended plantations that keep chocolate, Earth’s sole valuable export, safe from a hungry galaxy. Forces arraying against her including her alien boyfriend and a reptilian cop. But when she escapes onto an unmarked starship things go from bad to worse: it belongs to the race famed throughout the galaxy for eating stowaways. Surrounded by dangerous yet hunky aliens, Bo starts to uncover clues that the threat to Earth may be bigger than she first thought.

Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository
Books-A-Million : IndieBound : iBooks : Kobo








Pure Chocolate
Chocoverse 2
Angry Robot, March 5, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

To save everyone she loves, Bo Benitez is touring Zant, home of the murderous, shark-toothed aliens who so recently tried to eat her. In the midst of her stint as Galactic paparazzi princess, she discovers that Earth has been exporting tainted chocolate to the galaxy, and getting aliens hooked on cocoa. Bo must choose whether to go public, or just smile for the cameras and make it home alive. She’s already struggling with her withdrawal from the Invincible Heart, and her love life has a life of its own, but when insidious mind worms intervene, things start to get complicated!

Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : iBooks : Kobo








Chocoverse Short Stories

There is a Chocoverse short story in Amazing Stories, Issue 5: "When Kromish Eyes are Smiling" - Bo winds up having to cooperate with one of Brill’s friends after the two of them are kidnapped by a bounty hunter with a penchant for strategy games. Get the issue at Amazon.



And a Chocoverse short story, "Sublingual Breakdown", at Book Funnel: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/ykptvm4g95






About Amber

Amber Royer is the author of the high-energy comedic space opera Chocoverse series (Free Chocolate, Pure Chocolate available now. Fake Chocolate coming April 2020). She teaches creative writing classes for teens and adults through both the University of Texas at Arlington Continuing Education Department and Writing Workshops Dallas. She is the discussion leader for the Saturday Night Write writing craft group. She spent five years as a youth librarian, where she organized teen writers’ groups and teen writing contests. In addition to two cookbooks co-authored with her husband, Amber has published a number of articles on gardening, crafting and cooking for print and on-line publications.They are currently documenting a project growing Cacao trees indoors.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @amber_royer  ~  Instagram





Click on the image to learn more about the Chocoverse at Amber's website!

Guest Blog by Alex Hall and Giveaway of EARNEST INK!


Please welcome Alex Hall to The Qwillery. Earnest Ink was published in October 2019 by NineStar Press.

Alex is kindly giving away 5 digital copies of the novel! Enter in the comments below.



Guest Blog by Alex Hall and Giveaway of EARNEST INK!




When I was small child, I believed magicians and artists were one and the same. The first accomplished amazing things with wand or staff, the second with paintbrush or pencil (or potters' wheel, or sculpting tools, or tapestry needle, camera). Jack Baker, a Santa Barbara artist of international repute who lived just down the lane from my grandmother's house, made his home in small cottage densely surrounded by the sort of tangled, flowering gardens I imagined a wizard might cultivate. I wasn't allowed to play in his garden—Baker had an extensive collection of orchids and succulents and California wildflowers—but I spent many an afternoon walking the edge of his property, peering through palm fronds and pine trees at the Taj Mahal-like sculptures and driftwood animals that lived in the sea-salt shade, certain that if I concentrated hard enough I'd catch a glimpse of the mysterious old man conjuring real life dragons in his cottage.

Hemingway, the main character of my newest novel, is both a magician and an artist. His peculiar brand of magic has made him a household name. Not only is he a talented tattooist, but his work comes to life, literally. People spend money they don't have—big money—for a chance to be his canvas.

While Hemingway is making an excellent living in a near-future version of Hell's Kitchen, the rest of the United States is splintered and struggling in the wake World War III. Borders rise and fall overnight. Technology has collapsed. Magic is waking in its place, turning unwitting citizens into wielders of strange and specific strands of magic.

Hemingway's dystopian Manhattan is a long way from 1990s idyllic Santa Barbara. And I'm a long way from the child who hoped Jack Baker was conjuring dragons with a paintbrush in his seaside cottage. The world has changed. But on the days I worry it's changed for the worst, I pick myself up and spend an hour wandering a local art gallery, or scrolling through my favorite creators on Tumblr, Instagram, and Patreon.

Because I still believe artists are magicians, exposing monsters with a photograph, building familiars out of clay, banishing the darkness with a bit of colored thread.





Earnest Ink
NineStar Press, October 14, 2019
eBook and Trade Paperback, 244 pages

Guest Blog by Alex Hall and Giveaway of EARNEST INK!
While twenty-year-old FTM Hemingway is making an excellent living as a tattoo artist in a near-future version of Hell’s Kitchen, the rest of the country is splintered and struggling in the wake of a war gone on for too long. Technology has collapsed, borders rise and fall overnight, and magic has awakened without rhyme, reason, or rule, turning average unwitting citizens into wielders of strange and specific strands of magic.

Hemingway’s particular brand of magic has made him a household name. Not only is he a talented artist, but his work comes to life. Literally.

When NYC’s most infamous serial killer—the East River Ripper—abducts Hemingway’s best friend, Grace, he has only days to save her. Hemingway teams up with his stoic cop roommate to hunt for the killer and rescue Grace before she becomes the Ripper’s latest victim. But as the duo chase clues to the serial killer’s identity, Hemingway begins to fear the magic he and the Ripper share might eventually corrupt him too.





About Alex

Sarah Remy/Alex Hall is a nonbinary, animal-loving, proud gamer Geek. Their work can be found in a variety of cool places, including HarperVoyager, EDGE and NineStar Press.

Website ~ Twitter @sarahremywrites





Author Giveaway

What:  5 digital copies/ 5 winners of Earnest Ink by Alex Hall.

How:  Leave a comment below with your choice of ePub or mobi.

Who:  The giveaway is open to all humans on the planet earth with an emailing address.

When:  The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on December 31, 2019. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

Days of the Dead Blog Tour - How We Fell Apart by Gail Z. Martin



Days of the Dead Blog Tour - How We Fell Apart by Gail Z. Martin



How We Fall Apart

By Gail Z. Martin

Do we go out with a bang or a whimper?

In our near-future post-apocalyptic adventure series, Wasteland Marshals (co-written with Larry N. Martin), that's the key question.

Simultaneous nuclear strikes to the world's capitals set of a chain reaction of events that unmakes modern civilization. The governments are gone, financial markets have cratered, the power grid is unreliable, and the secondary effects of the nuclear strikes have drastically remade the world survivors face.

Lucas Maddox and Shane Collins are the last two US Marshals in the Pennsylvania/West Virginia/Maryland territory. Not only do they deal with troublesome humans, but they've also got their hands full with the supernatural creatures that have ventured out of the shadows with the retreat of technology. The survivors band together in different enclaves, and Shane and Lucas move from group to group, fending off highwaymen, opportunists, and the occasional werewolf and feral experimental robot.

We envisioned the Wasteland Marshals series as being 'Boondock Saints meets The Walking Dead." I love the tension between technology and magic. I'm intrigued by the ways people might respond to the collapse of civilization and how they could revive old ways of doing things. In Lucas and Shane's world, the people with the best survival skills included folks from Renaissance festivals, the Society for Creative Anachronism, the Amish, historical reinactors, living history museums, universities and libraries. Those groups are the bulwark of retaining modern knowledge and reviving low-tech ways for humanity to survive and rebuild.

I'm intrigued by the idea of what remains when we strip away our technology and modern conveniences, and how we rediscover and reinvent old ways enable us to rise from the ashes. I'm also interested in what cultural essentials we take with us--the myths and legends (TV shows, comics and pop culture), the key memories of the way things were 'Before' and the stories we choose after the world goes to hell, about who we were.

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with brand new guest blog posts, giveaways and more! You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Get all the details about my Days of the Dead blog tour at www.GailZMartin.com





Wasteland Marshals
Wasteland Marshals 1
Falstaff Books, July 2019
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 126 pages

Days of the Dead Blog Tour - How We Fell Apart by Gail Z. Martin
The world ended. Then things got tough.

Shane Collins and Lucas Maddox were US Marshals before. Before the world ended. Before civilization crumbled. Before Shane developed strange powers. Before there were monsters.

Now they’re still Marshals, but they ride through the wreckage of what once was the United States, helping the ragged groups of survivors they find survive against the challenges of a world gone insane, and the people who still want to exploit others. Because as long as there are people, there will be predators.

And as long as there are predators, there will be men and women who stand against them. Lucas and Shane are two of those men.

Wasteland Marshals launches a new post-apocalyptic fantasy series from Gail Z. & Larry N. Martin, who brought you Spells, Salt, & Steel.





About the Author

Days of the Dead Blog Tour - How We Fell Apart by Gail Z. Martin
Gail Z. Martin writes urban fantasy, epic fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, Falstaff Books, SOL Publishing and Darkwind Press. Urban fantasy series include Deadly Curiosities and the Night Vigil (Sons of Darkness). Epic fantasy series include Darkhurst, the Chronicles Of The Necromancer, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and the Assassins of Landria. Newest titles include Inheritance, Vengeance, Convicts and Exiles, and Assassin’s Honor. Together with co-author Larry N. Martin, new books include Spells Salt and Steel: Season One, Night Moves (Spells Salt and Steel #5), Wasteland Marshals and Cauldron: A Joe Mack Shadow Council Archives Adventure. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance. Books include Witchbane, Badlands and Treasure Trail series.

Find her at www.GailZMartin.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on www.Facebook.comWinterKingdoms, at www.DisquietingVisions.com blog, on www.Pinterest.com/Gzmartin and on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin. She is also the organizer of the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign www.HoldOnToTheLight.com. Never miss out on the news and new releases—newsletter signup link http://eepurl.com/dd5XLj

The Hawthorn Moon Blog Tour - Supernatural Vigilantes by Gail Z. Martin


The Hawthorn Moon Blog Tour - Supernatural Vigilantes by Gail Z. Martin


Supernatural Vigilantes

By Gail Z. Martin

Lonely highways wind through dark forests filled with old secrets, hungry creatures, and the restless dead. In the towns and cities, demons, curses and deals with the devil mean a hunter’s work is never done.

In Sons of Darkness, the first book in my newest urban fantasy series, demon-hunting former priest Travis Dominick works with the misfit psychics of the Night Vigil to fight supernatural creatures and malicious paranormal activity. When a series of disappearances, suicides and vengeful spirits cause havoc and death along a remote interstate highway, Travis teams up with former special ops soldier and monster-hunter Brent Lawson to end the problem with extreme prejudice.

The Night Vigil series is set in Western Pennsylvania, an area full of legends, lore and mysterious monsters. It’s a state undercut by so many miles of coal mines, no one actually knows where the shafts all run. Tragedies haunt its history—mine disasters, railroad wrecks, legendary floods, industrial explosions, and battlefields from the three biggest wars fought on US soil. No wonder the dead can’t rest.

The next book in the series, C.H.A.R.O.N., comes out later this summer. CHARON is a secret government agency devoted to cleaning up supernatural problems and hiding the evidence. They’ve wanted Brent to join them for a long time, and he keeps slipping out of their grip. But when a new threat arises, one that might be of CHARON’s own making, can Travis and Brent fight the danger on their own terms, and still keep their freedom?

Meet the Night Vigil. The run-down convenience store, the all-night diner, the last-ditch shelter, or seedy motel, the redneck bar and the emergency room, and all the other places open on the graveyard shift—they’re Hell’s hunting grounds, full of easy marks and desperate souls, prey for evil things out there in the dark.

We keep the Vigil, looking for the ones who can still be saved, the ones who aren’t too far gone. We’re the misfits and the muck-ups, unwanted by Heaven or Hell, given one last chance to atone for all the mistakes and missed chances, the pain we’ve caused others and ourselves, the good things we were afraid to do, and the bad things we embraced with open arms. We work the night shift because that’s when evil walks. We’re the clerk in the all-night liquor store, the server in the 24-hour diner, the long-haul trucker who only drives at night, the counter person in the convenience store, the dog shift nurse. We recognize the evil when we see it, and we use the skills we honed with blood and fire to stop it, whatever it takes.

Unfinished business ties us to the mortal world, to make atonement, find absolution, satisfy retribution, get things right. You won’t find a sorrier group of halfway house heroes. No illusions left—about ourselves, humanity, or what’s really out there in the darkness. Just a purpose, to go down fighting the good fight. Because this is our last chance.

One final chance to make it right, the thin red line of humanity against the evil that goes bump in the night, your best hope to make it through the hour of the wolf.

Look for Sons of Darkness in ebook and paperback wherever online books are sold, and watch for CHARON, coming soon!





Sons of Darkness
A Night Vigil Novel 1
SOL Publishing, November 5, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 280 pages

The Hawthorn Moon Blog Tour - Supernatural Vigilantes by Gail Z. Martin
We are the Night Vigil.

The run-down convenience store, the all-night diner, the last-ditch shelter, or seedy motel, the redneck bar and the emergency room, and all the other places open on the graveyard shift—they’re Hell’s hunting grounds, full of easy marks and desperate souls, prey for evil things out there in the dark.

We keep the Vigil, looking for the ones who can still be saved, the ones who aren’t too far gone. We’re the misfits and the muck-ups, unwanted by Heaven or Hell, given one last chance to atone for all the mistakes and missed chances, the pain we’ve caused others and ourselves, the good things we were afraid to do, and the bad things we embraced with open arms. We work the night shift because that’s when evil walks. We’re the clerk in the all-night liquor store, the server in the 24-hour diner, the long-haul trucker who only drives at night, the counter person in the convenience store, the dog shift nurse. We recognize the evil when we see it, and we use the skills we honed with blood and fire to stop it, whatever it takes.

Unfinished business ties us to the mortal world, to make atonement, find absolution, satisfy retribution, get things right. You won’t find a sorrier group of halfway house heroes. No illusions left—about ourselves, humanity, or what’s really out there in the darkness. Just a purpose, to go down fighting the good fight. Because this is our last chance.

One final chance to make it right, the thin red line of humanity against the evil that goes bump in the night, your best hope to make it through the hour of the wolf

When a series of disappearances, suicides, and vengeful spirits cause havoc and death along a remote interstate highway, demon-hunting ex-priest Travis Dominick teams up with former special ops soldier and monster-hunter Brent Lawson to end the problem with extreme prejudice.





CHARON
A Night Vigil Novel 2

The Hawthorn Moon Blog Tour - Supernatural Vigilantes by Gail Z. Martin





About the Author

The Hawthorn Moon is the annual summer blog tour for Gail Z. Martin, and features guest blog posts, giveaways, surprises, excerpts and more on blogs worldwide. Find the master list of posts and goodies at www.GailZMartin.com


Bonus goodies!

Read a copy of my Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy short story Catspaw for free: https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/UAjd6 and check out my epic fantasy Ascendant Kingdoms short story Reconciling Memory here for free: https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/JQorl


Giveaway!

Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Splintered Crown and Convicts and Exiles http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9751c04221/?


The Hawthorn Moon Blog Tour - Supernatural Vigilantes by Gail Z. Martin
Gail Z. Martin
Gail Z. Martin writes urban fantasy, epic fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, Falstaff Books, SOL Publishing and Darkwind Press. Urban fantasy series include Deadly Curiosities and the Night Vigil (Sons of Darkness). Epic fantasy series include Darkhurst, the Chronicles Of The Necromancer, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and the Assassins of Landria. Newest titles include Convicts and Exiles, Spells Salt and Steel Season One, Tangled Web, Vengeance, The Dark Road, Sons of Darkness, and Assassin’s Honor.

The Hawthorn Moon Blog Tour - Supernatural Vigilantes by Gail Z. Martin
Larry N. Martin
She is the co-author (with Larry N. Martin ) of the Spells, Salt, and Steel/New Templars series; the Steampunk series Iron & Blood; and a collection of short stories and novellas: The Storm & Fury Adventures set in the Iron & Blood universe. She is also the co-author of the upcoming Wasteland Marshals series and the Joe Mack Cauldron/Shadow Council series. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance. Series include Witchbane, Badlands, and Treasure Trail.


Join our Shadow Alliance street team so you never miss a new release! Get all the scoop first + giveaways + fun stuff! Also where I get my beta readers and Launch Team! https://www.facebook.com/groups/435812789942761


Find me at www.GailZMartin.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on www.Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at www.DisquietingVisions.com blog, on www.Pinterest.com/Gzmartin, on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin, and BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/gail-z-martin. I’m also the organizer of the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign www.HoldOnToTheLight.com. Never miss out on the news with my newsletter http://eepurl.com/dd5XLj.

Guest Blog by Elizabeth Vaughan - You Ask Why I Write


Please welcome Elizabeth Vaughan to The Qwillery. Fate's Star, Prequel to the Chronicles of the Warland, was published on April 3rd.



Guest Blog by Elizabeth Vaughan - You Ask Why I Write




So, you ask why I write.

I write because I breathe.

I write because I can, because somehow I have been given a gift and I must not waste that gift, no matter how much I doubt myself or my abilities.

I write because there is nothing better than hearing from a reader that I made them laugh, or cry, or kept them up until the wee hours because ‘I could not put the book down’.

I write for that reader who wants/needs to escape this reality for a while, and shelter in a story.   For I believe that this gift, this spark is given by God, and that power flows through my words to that reader.   And I hope, I pray, that reader finds comfort in my words, strength in my characters, insight in my stories. I may never know how my words will effect someone, but God knows.   [Although I have noticed that while the Lord God, King of the Universe gave me the gift, He doesn’t show up to do any of the typing.]

There is a version of the Tempest starring Helen Mirren, filmed in Hawaii.   (Bear with me here).   In it, she plays a female Prospero, Prospera, Shakespeare’s sorceress.   In the first scene, she is standing on the edge of a cliff, summoning the tempest, wearing a wonderful cloak and holding a staff.

‘I have bedimm'd the noontide sun,
call'd forth the mutinous winds,
And `twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war . . .    By my so potent art.’

That’s me when I write.   I am Prospera, the all-powerful, all-knowing sorceress, standing at the cliff’s edge, over-looking the sea.   Lightening flashes from my finger-tips as the sky obeys my every whim.   Earth and Sea and all the elements of Nature bow before me.   Characters live and die, and live again at my command, if I wish it so.   I raise my staff, and with a mere gesture the world bends to my every whim as the power flows through me . . . .

And then my cat jumps on the keyboard, the buzzer signals the dryer is done, and the smoke alarm goes off because I forgot dinner in the oven.   With a thump, I am back in this mortal realm with nothing more than words on the page . . . . and tears of joy in my eyes.

Because this is the closest I will ever come to wielding true magic.

That is why I write.





Fate's Star
Prequel to Chronicles of the Warlands
Birch Cove Press, April 3, 2018
eBook, 470 pages

Guest Blog by Elizabeth Vaughan - You Ask Why I Write
Five years before the events in Warprize and Destiny’s Star . . . .

Her family dead, her home destroyed, all she has left are her wits and her songs . . . .

When the flames of civil war rage across the Kingdom of Palins, Warna of Farentell has no choice but to flee to the neighboring Barony of Tassinic. The daughter of a wealthy merchant, raised to run a noble house in the hope of a good marriage, she watches her future burn with the rest of her homeland.

Elven Lord of a human Barony, betrayed and attacked by those he thought to trust . . . .

Verice of Tassinic has suffered the wounds of war, knowing loss and betrayal at the hands of those he trusted most. He buries himself in work and duty, behind emotional walls as high as those of his castle, rather than risk more pain. While dealing with a kingdom in political and economic turmoil, he 'rescues' Warna only to discover that the helpless human woman is anything but. Before he knows it, she is deep within the defenses of his heart, forcing him to confront his grief, his distrust, and the scars of his past . . . and maybe even steal his heart in the process.





About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Vaughan is the USA TODAY Bestselling Author of Warprize, the first volume of The Chronicles of the Warlands. Her father introduced her to sci/fi and fantasy, and she’s never looked back. She loves fantasy and romance novels, and has played Dungeons and Dragons since 1981, both table-top and the online game. The Chronicles of the Warlands stretches over eight books, with more to come. The latest in the series was Warsong, 2018. Beth also has a number of short stories published in various anthologies.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @eavwriter

The Jötunn War: First Peek! by Ian Stuart Sharpe


Please welcome Ian Stuart Sharpe to The Qwillery discussing The Jötunn War which is being funded on Kickstarter right now!



The Jötunn War: First Peek!  by Ian Stuart Sharpe




The Jötunn War: First Peek!
by Ian Stuart Sharpe

How would you describe the Jötunn War?

The Jötunn War is our latest addition to the Vikingverse, the first of a four-issue graphic novel series and a companion piece to the All Father Paradox.

If you’ve read the novel, it adds some more depth and detail to the worlds-spanning war that concludes the novel. And if you haven’t, it makes a perfectly good jumping off point to explore.
The premise is simple: what if the Vikings never lost? What would the modern world be like if Norse laws, appetites and mythology had shaped it instead of Christianity?

Fast forward through 1000 years of alternate timeline and you come to the Jötunn War - a point in time analogous to the Great War, or World War 2. There are all kinds of social pressures that irk Great Powers, like the Emancipation of the Serfs or the Russian Revolution, the Scramble for Africa and the Rise of Nationalism. The Viking Empire is no different: while the pace of progress has been accelerated (Vikings didn’t burn their scientists as witches…), when the thralls rebel, turning to the artifice of Norns to help them escape their bondage, the Natural order is thrown into chaos, causing a war that rages across the Nine Homeworlds for decades. The comic shows the last gasp battle for Utgard, the last stronghold of the Jötnar.



The Jötunn War is your first comic, coming just months after the All Father Paradox novel. Do some of our favourite characters make an appearance?

Over the course of four issues, you’ll see all kinds of familiar faces, some drawn from the novel, some from real life. Of course, this is Gest’s story and told from his POV. There is something of the Eternal Champion about him, because of his immense longevity - down to a Norn’s curse in the cradle – he has seen the whole swept of history and now stepped up for the decisive battle. Along the way, he is joined by Alviss Presterleah and Njall Armstinnr – two great 1960s icons in our world, whose names easily translate back into Old Norse. In the Vikingverse blurb, we often talk about the storied heroes of mankind being drawn into the Vikingverse in new and brutal guises - those two are an especially long way from the All-American idols we know and love.

Of course, in later episodes, you get to see other major characters as the Battle for Utgard continues but we won’t reveal all of those just yet…



Did you find writing a comic easier than the novel?

History is full of titanic battles, from David vs. Goliath to the Axis vs. Allies, but The Jötunn War is literally as big as it gets. There is a kind of visceral urgency to the comic form, you can have fun that you can’t easily manage in a novel.

I used to storyboard documentaries and TV spots in my days as broadcast Producer. It was surprising how similar the two things are, and once I got started, it all came to life quite quickly. In actual fact, because the whole script – descriptions, directions and captions – is only 3000 words per issue, it is the artists who bear the real burden! The real challenge became helping Dev design a Drakkar that looked like it could fly, or an infantry helmet that makes aesthetic sense for a future Varangian. I’m excited that he has captured the vision so clearly.

Norse mythology is a fascinating lens through which to take a view of the world – and I have heard at readings and conventions what a compelling idea it is. But not everyone has the time to read 90,000 words, and so a comic is a better start to their journey.

What the two forms do have in common is the resonance of the Old Norse quotes. Whether drawing from the wisdom of the Hávamál or reciting a skaldic poem about battle, the words have a real impact.



The Jötnar themselves, why did you choose to portray them that way?

In a word where Christianity has been put to the Viking sword, there are no angels or devils, but combatants will always strive to demonize the enemy. It’s how you motivate the populace to back a war – feed them fear and loathing. I liked the idea of turning that on its head, of having the nightmares of Norse mythology come back to haunt the Empire.

One interesting thing about the word Jötunn is that it doesn’t really mean giant – in the Old Norse orthography, it is much closer to words like consume, gluttony and voracious. I wanted to make the rebellion an existential, primeval, devouring threat – not just Vikings in white helmets. The sagas are clear that the Jötnar take many forms, some as beautiful as the dawn, some as hideous as - well, Týr’s nine-hundred headed grandmother is a good example (She is mentioned in Hymiskviða if you want to read more about her).



And the Kickstarter has already funded? Congrats!

Everyone involved is hugely grateful for the support and attention we’ve attracted. The Kickstarter funded after the first week, which means we can print the first issue. Our stretch goals include the ability to fund the printing and distribution of the second part, which is raring to go. So, if you like the cliffhanger built into the first episode, and you’ve got a taste for the Vikingverse, you’ll want to make sure to help us get further into the story!





The Jötunn War

The Jötunn War: First Peek!  by Ian Stuart Sharpe
A war as old as time, where fate itself hangs in the balance. In the Vikingverse, the Norse rule the stars with restless fleets and an iron will. But when the thralls rebel, turning to the artifice of Norns to help them escape their bondage, the Natural order is thrown into chaos. The Jötunn War has been fought across the Nine Homeworlds to contain the threat, a battle against the stuff of ancient nightmares, red in tooth and claw, Jötunheim is the rebellion's last redoubt, an indignity the Empire plans to cleanse with flame and fury. The Jötunn War. Go big or go home in a body bag.

Kickstarter Link





About Ian

The Jötunn War: First Peek!  by Ian Stuart Sharpe
Ian Stuart Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.



Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @vikingverse

Twitter @IanStuartSharpe






About Outland Entertainment

Outland Entertainment was founded as a creative services company in 2008 by Jeremy Mohler. Since then, Outland has worked for a wide variety of clients across the world. Outland specializes in assembling creative teams and managing projects. Contact them via their site form or go to www.outlandentertainment.com.





The Novel

The All Father Paradox
Vikingverse 1
Outland Entertainment, October 9, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 414 pages

The Jötunn War: First Peek!  by Ian Stuart Sharpe
What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves?

Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the thousand-year-old Viking memorial there. But when things start changing and outright disappearing, Michaels realizes there is more to this old man than meets the eye. Now, Michaels finds himself swept up in an ancient god’s quest to escape his destiny by reworking reality, putting history—and to Michaels’s dismay, Christianity itself—to the Viking sword. In this new Vikingverse, storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas:

A young Norse prince plots to shatter empires and claim the heavens…
A scholar exiled to the frontier braves the dangers of the New World, only to find those “new worlds” are greater than he imagined…
A captured Jötunn plants the dreams of freedom during a worlds-spanning war…
A bold empress discovers there is a price for immortality, one her ancestors have come to collect…

With the timelines stretched to breaking point, it’s up to Churchwarden Michaels to save reality as we know it…

Guest Blog by Brian Kirk - The Long and Winding Road Between Books


Please welcome Brian Kirk to The Qwillery. Will Haunt You is published on March 14th by Flame Tree Press.

And please join The Qwillery in wishing Brian a Happy Publication Day!



Guest Blog by Brian Kirk - The Long and Winding Road Between Books




The Long and Winding Road Between Books

by Brian Kirk

My debut novel, We Are Monsters, sold fast, and I’ll admit that experience warped my expectations. I pitched the book to my editor of choice, submitted the manuscript upon request, and received an offer about three weeks later. This publishing business is a breeze!

Ha. Haha. AHAAHHAHA (Chokes to death on hubris, gets resuscitated) ha.

Not so much.

I finished the manuscript for my second novel before We Are Monsters was released. This was back in July of 2015. My plan was to query agents and take a run at the Big Five publishing houses. And that’s exactly what I did. Signed with an agent in November of that year, and started putting together a submission plan for a novel titled The Sun Is a Tangerine.

But then something happened that I didn’t expect. My idea for that novel morphed and expanded into something bigger and more complex. Not just in content, but format as well. It became more of a multi-media experience incorporating virtual reality technology than a traditional book, and my agent wasn’t sure how to sell it. So I decided to pull the project, and part ways with my agent, until I could figure out what to do with it. That process took about a year, and brought me no closer to a second publishing contract.

During that time, I was contacted by an acquisitions editor for an emerging horror publisher known more for its films than fiction, asking if I had any manuscripts to submit. The Sun Is A Tangerine wasn’t right for them—it’s more sci-fi than horror—so I offered to pitch new ideas. I pitched several ideas, and wrote a 50-page sample for my favorite one, which is what would become Will Haunt You. They loved the pitch (woo-hoo!), and gave me notes on the manuscript they wanted me to write, requesting a first look when it was done. Yes, back in the fast lane! (Or so I thought).

Will Haunt You took me about eight months to write, edit, have beta-read, reworked, etc. But I finished and was eager to submit the final manuscript. Unfortunately, the email address I had on file no longer worked, and I soon learned that the principle involved in the project had moved on to another place, and that this place wasn’t the right market for my new book. That potential deal was dead in the water.

But the editor had been so enthusiastic about the book, this should be a slam dunk, right? Wrong. While the book was intriguing enough to land me several phone calls with new prospective literary agents, they were all interested in my next book, deeming this one “too unconventional” for their traditional publishing contacts. (Note: anyone who has read Will Haunt You will emphatically agree.)

At this point we’re nearing two years after the release of my debut novel and I’m not any closer to getting a second book sold. But, looking back, those two years might be the most valuable of my early career, because they helped me clarify my goals as a writer, and provide clear direction for how I want to move forward.

Our society defines success in financial terms. That’s hard conditioning to break. And it was this misguided desire to maximize my financial return that drove me to pursue the Big Five publishing houses in the first place. But the Big Five publishers, by and large, aren’t interested in the fringe, unconventional, horror-trippy-weird-shit that I feel compelled to write. They mostly want something that looks familiar—and has a proven track record—whereas I strive to write stuff that feels new, and hasn’t been tried before. Taking those risks might excite me creatively, but they tend to frighten executives responsible for the financial security of a company.

And that’s okay. Because, fortunately, there are editors out there who are willing to take on fringe, unconventional, horror-trippy-weird-shit. Know where you’ll find them? Working for indie publishers like the one I recently signed with, Flame Tree Press.

Nearly four years have passed since the release of my first book, and I’m cool with that, because that time helped me to better understand who I am. A fiercely independent author who will write whatever my strange heart desires whether I get paid for it or not.

If you’re a fan of unconventional fiction, I encourage you to seek out indie publishers. That’s where you’ll find some of the most inventive material between produced today. And it’s the square pegs like me (hopefully like you) that help keep them alive.

My second novel is titled Will Haunt You, and it’s a book created by a mysterious figure who preys upon the people who read it. I published its prequel as a creepypasta-style story that was serialized online. None of this would be possible without indie publishing, and for that I am sincerely grateful.

Read the creepy-pasta prequel to Will Haunt You here: The Story of OBSIDEO.

Guest Blog by Brian Kirk - The Long and Winding Road Between Books

And if that doesn’t scare you away, here’s where you can buy the book.





Will Haunt You
Flame Tree Press, March 14, 2019
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 240 pages

Guest Blog by Brian Kirk - The Long and Winding Road Between Books
You don’t read the book. It reads you. 

Rumors of a deadly book have been floating around the dark corners of the deep web. A disturbing tale about a mysterious figure who preys on those who read the book and subjects them to a world of personalized terror. Jesse Wheeler—former guitarist of the heavy metal group The Rising Dead—was quick to discount the ominous folklore associated with the book. It takes more than some urban legend to frighten him. Hell, reality is scary enough. Seven years ago his greatest responsibility was the nightly guitar solo. Then one night when Jesse was blackout drunk, he accidentally injured his son, leaving him permanently disabled. Dreams of being a rock star died when he destroyed his son's future. Now he cuts radio jingles and fights to stay clean. But Jesse is wrong.

The legend is real—and tonight he will become the protagonist in an elaborate scheme specifically tailored to prey on his fears and resurrect the ghosts from his past. Jesse is not the only one in danger, however.

By reading the book, you have volunteered to participate in the author’s deadly game, with every page drawing you closer to your own personalized nightmare.

The real horror doesn’t begin until you reach the end. That’s when the evil comes for you.





About Brian

Guest Blog by Brian Kirk - The Long and Winding Road Between Books
Brian Kirk is an author of dark thrillers and psychological suspense. His debut novel, We Are Monsters, was released in July 2015 and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.

His short fiction has been published in many notable magazines and anthologies. Most recently, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, where his work appears alongside multiple New York Times bestselling authors, and received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year compilation.

During the day, Brian works as a freelance marketing and creative consultant. His experience working on large, integrated advertising campaigns for international companies has helped him build an effective author platform, and makes him a strong marketing ally for his publishing partners. In addition, Brian has an eye for emerging media trends and an ability to integrate storytelling into new technologies and platforms.

While he's worked to make this bio sound as impressive as possible, he's actually a rather humble guy who believes in hard work and big dreams. Feel free to connect with him through one of the following channels. Don't worry, he only kills his characters.

Website  ~  Twitter @Brian_Kirk
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