The Qwillery | category: Guest Blog | (page 2 of 34)


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

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

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

Guest Blog by Jack Heckel - The Trials of a Trilogy

We are thrilled to welcome Jack Heckel to The Qwillery. The Darkest Lord, the 3rd novel, in the fabulous Mysterium Chronicles, was published in digital format on February 26th by Harper Voyager Impulse.

Guest Blog by Jack Heckel - The Trials of a Trilogy

The Trials of a Trilogy
Jack Heckel

Fantasy stories, and particularly epic fantasy stories, seem always to spawn not a single book, but a series of them. In the end, as with all things in epic fantasy, you can probably blame Tolkien for the fact that no one seems to be able to tell a fantasy story in a single go. And the problem only seems to be growing. While Tolkien was satisfied with three volumes, with the not insignificant proviso that each volume is actually divided into two books, modern authors often stretch their stories far beyond three, and in some cases into double digits. The Saga of Fire and Ice is at five, with at least two more on the way, while The Wheel of Time series clocks it at a whopping 14 mega-books, not counting the Prologue, which is itself an entire separate book. In fact, in many cases the role of any individual epic fantasy novel seems to be setting up the next fantasy novel in the series.

So, when we decided to write a comedic take on the epic fantasy genre a trilogy seemed inevitable. In fact, for The Mysterium Chronicles there being three novels is one of the jokes. Let’s face it, we did title them The Dark Lord, The Darker Lord and The Darkest Lord after all. But in committing ourselves (tongue-in-cheek) to a trilogy we didn’t really know what we were getting into. It turns out it’s a lot harder to tell a continuous and coherent story that spans three volumes and over thousand pages than it might sound.

The problem we ran into, and which is obviously not unique to us, is how to maintain tension in each book when your audience knows there is more to come. This issue is particularly pronounced in the dread SECOND book, which is inevitably a bridge between the table setting first novel and the climactic third. Some authors—cough, cough, George R.R. Martin—solve this problem by being “unpredictable”. But, when you’re writing for comedic effect, indiscriminately killing off characters isn’t really an option.

Instead, we decided to address the issue head on by having the characters openly discuss the possibility that they were in trilogy and what that would mean. What we found in “going meta” is that once you let the audience in on the joke that there will be another book after this one and another one after that you can have a great deal of fun with what might have otherwise been a narrative drag. Early in The Darker Lord we have our protagonist ex-graduate student/magus, Avery Stewart, address what must be the most important point for anyone that finds themselves trapped in a fantasy trilogy:
I wanted to argue, but had to admit that everything that had happened since my return to Mysterium pointed to a number of unfinished story lines. I wrapped my arms around my body trying to ward of the cold and grasped for something positive to say. “Well, I suppose the good news is that even in a worst case scenario we are thirty-three percent through the narrative and no one important has died … yet.”

                                                                               -The Darker Lord
Well said.

The Darkest Lord
The Mysterium Chronicles 3
Harper Voyager Impulse, February 26, 2019
     eBook, 384 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, April 2, 2019
     Mass Market Paperback, 528 pages

Guest Blog by Jack Heckel - The Trials of a Trilogy
In the epic conclusion to Jack Heckel’s whimsical fantasy series, Dark Lord Avery Stewart must join the Company of the Fellowship in a frenzied war against Moregoth and the corrupt forces of Mysterium. . . and destroy the magical artifact fueling the interworld chaos

In The Darker Lord, Avery Stewart learned a terrible truth about Mysterium: the home of his beloved university and the reality-center of the multiverse is not the world he thought it was. The true Mysterians, innately endowed with the power to manipulate reality, were displaced eons ago by the subworlders with whom they shared their magical teachings, and written out of the reality pattern of their own world. For years they have lived in exile in the subworld of Trelari, shielded from the Mysterian pursuit led by Moregoth and the Sealers. That is, until Valdara, the warrior queen of Trelari, reopened the subworld to the rest of the multiverse and challenged the Mysterium to a final showdown.

One year later, a violent war of worlds drags on, and Avery can’t help feeling that all of this is his fault.

But the good news (if you can call it that) is that Avery might hold the key—literally, a key—to ending the suffering and saving Trelari. For Avery possesses the Reality Key, a magical artifact with the power to bend reality to one’s will, often to the immediate detriment of entire worlds. . . and, if it falls into the hands of the Mysterian forces, much more. To protect his friends, save Trelari, and bring order to Mysterium, Avery will need to do the unthinkable: travel to the heart of Mysterium, destroy the Key, and rewrite Mysterium’s reality pattern to restore balance to the multiverse, once and for all.


The Dark Lord
The Mysterium Chronicles 1
Harper Voyager Impulse, November 1, 2016
     eBook, 464 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, December 27, 2016
     Mass Market Paperback, 464 pages

Guest Blog by Jack Heckel - The Trials of a Trilogy
In this hilarious parody of epic fantasy, a young man travels into a dark and magical world, where dwarves, elves, and sorcerers dwell, to restore the balance between good and evil

After spending years as an undercover, evil wizard in the enchanted world of Trelari, Avery hangs up the cloak he wore as the Dark Lord and returns to his studies at Mysterium University.

On the day of his homecoming, Avery drunkenly confides in a beautiful stranger, telling her everything about his travels. When Avery awakens, hungover and confused, he discovers that his worst nightmare has come true: the mysterious girl has gone to Trelari to rule as a Dark Queen.

Avery must travel back to the bewitched land and liberate the magical creatures . . . but in order to do so, he has to join forces with the very people who fought him as the Dark Lord.

The Darker Lord
The Mysterium Chronicles 2
Harper Voyager Impulse, July 24, 2018
     eBook, 464 pages
Harper Voyager Impulse, September 4, 2018
     Mass Market Paperback, 464 pages

Guest Blog by Jack Heckel - The Trials of a Trilogy
The second novel of Jack Heckel’s Mysterium series, The Darker Lord follows beleaguered former Dark Lord Avery Stewart as he is forced to take up his cloak and his Imp once again and travel the doors between realms in order to keep the fabric of the universe intact. More or less intact, anyway.

In The Dark Lord, Avery had an epiphany about the Mysterium. Only now he can’t remember what it was, no matter how much coffee he drinks or how many times he reads the novel published from his notes. What he does know is that he has become the most famous mage in the multiverse, and no one is happy with him. His fellow mages are upset at his rapid promotion, Dawn and Eldrin are tired of him spending his days on their couch watching bad TV, and Harold the Imp won’t talk to him.

Luckily, things can always get worse. And they do when the Administration’s enforcer, Moregoth, arrives at the first lecture of the semester to apprehend two of Avery’s new students for undoubtedly sinister reasons. In a fit of foolishness and heroism, Avery defies the university and flees with his friends into subworld. There, he reunites with his former allies from Trelari and thus begins a frantic race through the multiverse to escape Moregoth.

But as Avery’s amnesia begins to fade, he realizes his loss of memory is no accident, that he is caught in a conspiracy as terrifying as Mysterium University’s Student Records Building—and that his friends might not all be on his side.

About Jack

Jack Heckel’s life is an open book. Actually, it’s the book you are in all hope holding right now (and if you are not holding it, he would like to tell you it can be purchased from any of your finest purveyors of the written word). He is the author of the Charming Tales series and The Dark Lord. Beyond that, Jack aspires to be either a witty, urbane, world traveler who lives on his vintage yacht, The Clever Double Entendre, or a geographically illiterate professor of literature who spends his non-writing time restoring an 18th century lighthouse off a remote part of the Vermont coastline. More than anything, Jack lives for his readers.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @JackHeckel

Days of the Dead - Monsters and Mayhem in the Modern World by Gail Z. Martin

Days of the Dead  - Monsters and Mayhem in the Modern World by Gail Z. Martin

Monsters and Mayhem in the Modern World

By Gail Z. Martin

It’s been a busy year for saving the world, at least in our neck of the woods. Restless ghosts, renegade demons, and even a persnickety kelpie have threatened havoc, only to be dealt with by our unsung urban fantasy heroes. (You’re welcome.)

Days of the Dead  - Monsters and Mayhem in the Modern World by Gail Z. Martin
Tangled Web is the third Deadly Curiosities novel, and this time, Teag Logan is the target of an ancient evil. When a malicious weaver-witch awakens the spirit of an ancient Norse warlock and calls to the Wild Hunt, Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren—and all their supernatural allies—will need magic, cunning, and the help of a Viking demi-goddess to survive the battle and keep Charleston—and the whole East Coast—from becoming the prey of the Master of the Hunt.

I love revisiting the Deadly Curiosities gang in Charleston because the city and its history provides such a rich setting and so much legend and lore to build on. For me, creating believable modern-day mayhem begins with drawing inspiration from the ghost stories and history of the setting. Those tales stick around generation after generation because they resonate with us on a deep level. One of the most fun parts about writing, for me, is taking that existing history and legend and tweaking it, just a bit, to build a story.

Days of the Dead  - Monsters and Mayhem in the Modern World by Gail Z. Martin
Close Encounters is the fourth novella in the new Spells, Salt and Steel series, co-written with Larry N. Martin. Our mechanic and monster hunter hero, Mark Wojcik, has his hands full keeping his corner of Northwestern Pennsylvania cryptid-free. Over the course of the novellas, he’s fought off a Japanese monster armed only with a carp, taken out the ghost of a Nazi saboteur with a grenade launcher filled with holy water, gone mano-a-mano with the pissed off ghost of Mad Anthony Wayne, and helped his friend, Donny the defective werewolf, find true love.

Larry and I are from Northwestern Pennsylvania, so writing a series based on the haunts, tall tales and creepy stories we grew up with is all kinds of fun. I’ve also learned a lot about the area that I didn’t know, and it’s so exciting when research reveals the perfect plot twist or spooky location! The Spells, Salt and Steel series is comedic horror, a little different from my usual urban fantasy. That means our goal is to get you laughing, then take you into a dark basement and give you a good scare!

Days of the Dead  - Monsters and Mayhem in the Modern World by Gail Z. Martin
Sons of Darkness (coming in early November) is the first in my new Night Vigil series, set in and around Pittsburgh. 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.

We lived in Pittsburgh for ten years, so the city remains a favorite with me. It’s an old city, so there’s a lot of history to hijack and twist for fictional purposes. Because it was a city of immigrants, there’s so much folklore that came across with the workers who then adapted it to their new home. It makes for very rich source material!

Find out about all the supernatural chaos that didn’t make the news because our intrepid heroes stopped it from happening! I’m already cooking up more havoc as I plan for next year’s crop of new books!

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories. 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 here:

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! All of my guest blog posts have links to free excerpts—follow the tour and grab them all! Enjoy this excerpt for Sons of Darkness!

Enter my Rafflecopter giveaway to win a Kindle Prize Package with a free copy EACH of — Tangled Web, Assassin’s Honor, Salvage Rat, The Dark Road and Sons of Darkness!

Let me give a shout-out for #HoldOnToTheLight 2018, back for more with new authors and fantastic new posts! 150+ genre authors blogging about their personal struggles with depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicide and self-harm, candid posts by some of your favorite authors on how mental health issues have impacted their lives and books. Read the stories, share the stories, change a life. Find out more at

About the Authors

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 Tangled Web, Vengeance, The Dark Road, and Assassin’s Honor. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance. Books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, Badlands and the upcoming Lucky Town.

Larry N. Martin is the author of the new sci-fi adventure novel Salvage Rat. He is the co-author (with Gail Z. 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. He is also the co-author of the upcoming Wasteland Marshals series and the Cauldron/Secret Council series.

Find them at, on Twitter @GailZMartin and @LNMartinAuthor, on, at blog, on and on Goodreads She is also the organizer of the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign Never miss out on the news and new releases—newsletter signup link

Guest Blog by Amber Fallon - I am Woman, Hear me Write

Please welcome Amber Fallon to The Qwillery. Amber is the Editor of Fright Into Flight which was published on September 4, 2018 by Word Horde.

Guest Blog by Amber Fallon - I am Woman, Hear me Write

I am Woman, Hear me Write

“Women are too sensitive to write anything really scary.”

“There just aren’t that many women writing horror fiction.”

“The problem is that women just aren’t submitting their work.”

Do these statements sound as absurd to you as they do to me? Because in my opinion, all three of the above are basically crazy talk. And yet, all three are direct quotes from people who’ve either said them to me in person or made comments on my social media. People truly believe these things! The question is… why?

I have some opinions on that, and a lot of them have to do with what we, as readers, hold up as our standard of a “good story”. For years, the most significant, widely read, and recognized authors in the fiction realm, and especially within the horror genre, have been heterosexual white men. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t hundreds, if not thousands, of truly talented and remarkable white men out there… but it is to say that they’ve had a lot dominance, historically speaking. That kind of saturation can have unintended consequences… things like the majority of readers using similar points of view as hallmarks for a good piece of fiction. That can mean that other points of view can become disorienting and uncomfortable, and thus “not good”, when really, it’s just a matter of exposure. Think of a picky kid eating nothing but chicken nuggets for years… then someone offers them a plate of broccoli. Of course it’s going to seem weird and maybe even “gross” to them… but given time and a few chances to try it, they might decide they like broccoli. The same goes for fiction.

Ask most readers to name a woman horror writer, and you’ll get similar answers: Mary Shelley or Shirley Jackson. Two remarkable women, to be sure, but just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg.

Some of the best, most powerful, most haunting horror fiction of the past decade has been penned by women. From the horrific-yet-beautiful prose of Livia Llewellyn to the powerfully brilliant, brutal words of Chesya Burke, from the brave, nuanced, and incredibly poignant stories from Hillary Monahan to the raw, sinuous, and ultimately unshakable imagery of Kristi DeMeester, plus dozens and dozens more in between, women have stabbed their flag deep into the heart of the horror genre.

Don’t believe me? Go pick up a book by Mary SanGiovanni or Sephera Giron. Or, if you’re really daring, and you’ve got the stomach for it, something by C.V. Hunt or Jessica McHugh.

Women are out there! We are writing horror fiction! We’re submitting, we’re publishing, we’re doing our best to spread the word and share our stories with as many people as we can reach.

To that end, I’ve edited an anthology called Fright Into Flight. All female authors, connected by the theme of flight. Some of these tales are visceral, gut wrenching, and terrifying, others are quiet, slow burning, and haunting. I’ve done my best to showcase a wide range of stories so that pretty much anyone can find something they’ll enjoy within these pages.

I hope you’ll consider picking up a book by a female author, especially one you haven’t read before. Creating a base of readers who demand diverse stories can only benefit the genre as a whole.

Fright Into Flight
Word Horde, September 4, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 246 pages

Guest Blog by Amber Fallon - I am Woman, Hear me Write
From the earliest depictions of winged goddesses to the delicate, paperwinged fairies of the Victorians, from valiant Valkyries to cliff-dwelling harpies, from record-setting pilots to fearless astronauts, women have long since claimed their place in the skies, among the clouds and beyond.

Word Horde presents Fright Into Flight, the debut anthology from Amber Fallon (The Terminal, The Warblers), in which women take wing. In these stories connected by the unifying thread of flight, authors including Damien Angelica Walters, Christine Morgan, and Nadia Bulkin have spread their wings and created terrifying visions of real life angels, mystical journeys, and the demons that lurk inside us all. Whether you like your horror quiet and chilling or more in-your-face and terrifying, there's something here for every horror fan to enjoy.

You're in for a bumpy ride... So fasten your seatbelt, take note of the emergency exits, hold on to your airsick bag, and remember that this book may be used as a flotation device in the event of a crash landing.

Fright into Flight TOC

Floating Girls by Damien Angelica Walters

I Did it for the Art by Izzy Lee

Wilderness by Letty Ann Trent

The Silk Angel by Christine Morgan

Cargo by Desirina Boskovich

Consent by Nancy Baker

Bruja by Kathryn Ptacek

I am No Longer by Nancy Kilpatrick

Faceless by Shannon Lawrence

Every Angel by Gemma Files

Cosmic Bruja by Leza Cantoral

With the Beating of Their Wings by Martel Sardina

Deathside by Allyson Bird

Thlush-a-lum b Rebecca Gomez Farrell

The Fallen by Pamela Jeffs

And When She Was Bad by Nadia Bulkin

About Amber

Guest Blog by Amber Fallon - I am Woman, Hear me Write
Amber Fallon lives in weird cave in a small town outside Boston, Massachusetts that she shares with her husband and their two dogs. A techie by day and a horror writer by night, Mrs. Fallon has also spent time as a bank manager, motivational speaker, produce wrangler, and apprentice butcher. Her obsessions with sushi, glittery nail polish, and sharp objects have made her a recognized figure around the community.

Amber's publications include The Terminal, The Warblers, TV Dinners from Hell, Daughters of Inanna, Nasty!, Dead Bait 4, Sharkasaurus, So Long and Thanks for All the Brains, Here Be Clowns, Horror on the Installment Plan, Zombies For a Cure, Quick Bites of Flesh, Mirror, Mirror, Operation Ice Bat, Painted Mayhem, and more!

For more information, visit her blog at!

Guest Blog by Carina Bissett: Counting Beans

Please welcome Carina Bissett to The Qwillery. Carina's story "A Seed Planted" is found in Hath No Fury, an anthology published on August 23, 2018 by Outland Entertainment.

Guest Blog by Carina Bissett: Counting Beans

Counting Beans
by Carina Bissett

          Although there has been a renaissance of fairy tale retellings over the last decade, it isn’t the first time these stories have undergone a surge of popularity. In fact, my first experience with retellings occurred when I discovered a copy of the fairy tale anthology Snow White, Blood Red in my favorite used bookstore. Within those pages, I was introduced to the work of such notable writers as Tanith Lee, Charles de Lint, Gregory Frost, Jane Yolen, and Neil Gaiman. Edited by luminaries Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow, this series spanned six collections of tales that went back to their roots as stories told by adults for adults. I was hooked.
          As I child, I devoured books, but the one I kept returning to was a double-sided volume in The Companion Library series (1963), which featured Andersen’s Fairy Tales on one side and the Grimm Fairy Tales. As an adult, I turned to Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber (1979), which influenced a generation of feminist poets and feminist fantasy writers including my new heroine Terri Windling. I continued backwards moving through the familiar tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen to those told by Charles Perrault and Oscar Wilde. And then, I discovered the 17th century Parisian literary salons, where literary fairy tales were created from the fragments of oral tradition combined with literary influences such as medieval romance and classic myth.
          The term “fairy tale” actually comes from the English translation of the phrase conte de fée, which was coined in the French salons to describe the rise in popularity of these magical tales written with adult readers in mind. To my immense delight, I stumbled upon a whole host of gifted female writers who worked to encourage women’s independence from the gender barriers of the time. This included such writers as Madame d’Aulnoy (The White Cat), Henriette-Julie de Castelnau (Bearskin), Marie-Jeanne L’Héritier (The Discreet Princess), Catherine Bernard (Riquet of the Tuft), Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force (Persinette), and Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (Beauty and the Beast).
         In the past, I had attempted to tackle fairy tales in my voice, but they never quite worked. Just when I was ready to toss the notion of rewriting fairy tales for good, a few things happened in quick succession that lead to a dramatic shift in my approach: the publication of by Michael Cunningham’s literary fairy tales in his collection A Wild Swan and Other Tales (2015); the release The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales (2015), which were originally collected by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth in the 1850s, and the publication of an obscure academic paper “Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales” published in Royal Society Open Science (2016).
          In his collection of literary fairy tale retellings, Michael Cunningham created a cast of characters that we know intimately—are fragments of ourselves and others, fragments many of us prefer not to face. Of all the stories in the collection, “Jacked”—a contemporary take on “Jack and the Beanstalk”—was the one that captured my interest the most as a deft and detailed commentary on the single parent, only child plight so prevalent among middle-class Americans. Cunningham stays faithful to the original plot in “Jack and the Beanstalk,” but then modernizes it with a series of witticisms of a sarcastic nature: “The mist-girl tells Jack that everything the giant owns belongs rightfully to him. Jack, however, being Jack, had assumed already that everything the giant owns—everything everybody owns—rightfully belongs to him” (26). Personally, I’ve never been particularly fond of “Jack and the Beanstalk.” And, after reading the story, I was left with the feeling that Cunningham wasn’t in love with the original fairy tale either, which is why he pushes the unlikeable character to even further extremes.
          When the Royal Society Open Science released the 2016 academic paper “Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales,” a few things clicked into place for me. Researchers Sara Graça da Silva, a social scientist/folklorist with New University of Lisbon, and Jamshid Tehrani, an anthropologist with Durham University, conducted a phylogenetic analysis on common fairy tales, which suggests that many of these stories have origins reaching back thousands of years. For instance, “Jack and the Beanstalk” can be traced back nearly 5,000 years ago when Western and Eastern Indo-European languages split. However, it wasn’t until the 1730s that the first literary version of “The Story of Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean” appeared on the scene. It made a brief reappearance in the early 1800s, but didn’t really garner much attention until Joseph Jacobs included a version of the tale in his collection English Fairy Tales (1890).
          Seeing as I’ve never liked “Jack and the Beanstalk,” I decided to rewrite it to suit my own taste. My fascination with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” and the connection of Hawthorne’s character Beatrice to the poison girls in Hindu mythology provided a platform for my science fantasy retelling “A Seed Planted.” I decided to focus on the familial relationships in this piece about a dutiful, yet jealous daughter and the scientist who created her and her sisters as weapons. In the original draft, the science fiction elements were muted. However, under the guidance of my mentor Elizabeth Hand, it took a decidedly different turn as I worked to balance the early draft’s fairy tale components with scientific elements. I added a futuristic ecological angle and a dash of Arthurian legend, turning “Jack and the Beanstalk” upside down while retaining connections to the original story cycle.
          I’ve since sketched the stories of the other sisters introduced in “A Seed Planted,” which has led me down a path of self-discovery, a place where old tales provide only the barest of foundations to build upon. I think I tend to shy away from opportunities that will only come to fruition if I am willing to write from the hard places. I think it’s a fine line to walk, but I also think that this is why fairy tale retellings continue to evolve as a popular framework with which to view the world we live in. It isn’t just the more obscure tales that need to be told; it’s the true tales. It’s up to the writers to find new ways to reflect the deepest, darkest parts of themselves through the comforts of the familiar.

Hath No Fury
Outland Entertainment, August 23, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 550 pages

Guest Blog by Carina Bissett: Counting Beans
Mother. Warrior. Caregiver. Wife. Lover. Survivor. Trickster. Heroine. Leader.

This anthology features 21 stories and six essays about women who defy genre stereotypes. Here, it’s not the hero who acts while the heroine waits to be rescued; Hath No Fury’s women are champions, not damsels in distress. Whether they are strong, bold warriors, the silent but powerful type, or the timid who muster their courage to face down terrible evil, the women of Hath No Fury will make indelible marks upon readers and leave them breathless for more.

About Carina

Carina Bissett is a writer, poet, and educator working primarily in the fields of speculative fiction and interstitial art. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Stonecoast (University of Southern Maine) and has studied with such popular writers and poets as Elizabeth Hand, Nancy Holder, David Anthony Durham, Theodora Goss, Ted Deppe, Cara Hoffman, and Cate Marvin. Her short fiction and poetry has been published in multiple journals including the Journal of Mythic Arts, Mythic Delirium, NonBinary Review, Timeless Tales, Enchanted Conversations, and The Horror ‘Zine. Her work can also be found in numerous anthologies including Hath No Fury, an anthology where women take the lead. She fosters her passion of fairy tale and folklore through creative non-fiction including her research work at the Mythic Imagination Institute and contributions to the three-volume set American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @cmariebissett

Guest Blog by Kenny Soward - Knaves: A New Beginning for Me

Please welcome Kenny Soward to The Qwillery!

Guest Blog by Kenny Soward -  Knaves: A New Beginning for Me

Knaves: A New Beginning for Me

By Kenny Soward

In the words of Sansa Stark, “I'm a slow learner, that's true. But I learn.”

That’s how I feel about my entire writing career. A slow learn. And that says a lot about why I’ve struggled with writing since getting serious about it in 2010.

In 2010, I was no longer writing for myself but for an audience. An audience? I didn’t know what that was or how to get one. And what was this about creating tension and suspense? What was this about creating moments so breathtaking that your readers had no choice but to be carried away? Didn’t all of that come naturally?

Apparently, it didn’t, and I almost gave up writing many times in frustration.

While watching Game of Thrones over the years, I became aware that I related to Sansa Stark more than I dared to admit. Not that I wanted to dress in fancy court dresses or have pretty hair (some of you guys can really pull it off!) but I was more like Sansa in a naïve and snobbish sort of way.

Like Sansa, I often tried too hard to please everyone without really pleasing anyone. I wanted too much, too fast. I thought I would start this writing journey and then sail off into the sunset as a successful novelist after just a couple years of work. I thought my shit didn’t stink.

And then I realized there was a smell.

Oh yeah, that was me failing time and time again. That was me being impatient by imagining sales and success before truly developing the stories I wanted to tell.

Sure, I had some high points, but I was hard on myself, too. I grew bitter at myself for not getting “it.” How could I not be selling thousands of books? How could I not be courted by agents left and right?

But then, like Sansa, a cold reality hit me. The world was a tough place, and the only satisfaction I would ever get would be to let my stories come into their own. I had to be patient. I had to learn from my mistakes. I had to gather my wits and sit down at the keyboard like I was going to war.

After writing millions of words and publishing nine books, I decided to start over. I took a deep breath, then I picked up where I’d left off. I applied all the lessons and techniques I learned over the years. I donned my black wolf’s cloak, stood atop the walls of Winterfell, and glared into the frozen wastes.

Okay, I don’t actually own a black wolf’s cloak, but sometimes I feel like I’m wearing one when I sit down at the keyboard.

A Ferret in the Queen’s Purse is one of the first original pieces I’ve published in months, but I’m really proud of this one. It’s not a brilliant story, but it doesn’t have to be. It only needs to take you to a place you’ve never been on an adventure you never thought you’d have.

I’m a slow learner, but I do learn. Come see what I’ve learned.

About Knaves

Guest Blog by Kenny Soward -  Knaves: A New Beginning for Me

Outland Entertainment is proud to bring you Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology. Featuring fourteen brand new tales of scheming anti-heroes and dark protagonists from the wrong side of the palace gates, Knaves brings together some of the finest fantasy authors in the industry in a book that will make readers wonder, “What is the ‘right side,’ anyway?” Authors include Mercedes Lackey, Anna Smith Spark, Kenny Soward, Cullen Bunn, Maurice Broaddus, Anton Strout, Walidah Imarisha, Cat Rambo, Lian Hearn, and more! Edited by Melanie R. Meadors and Alana Joli Abbott.

Note: I've backed this fabulous anthology!

About Kenny

Guest Blog by Kenny Soward -  Knaves: A New Beginning for Me
Kenny Soward grew up in Kentucky in a small suburb just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, listening to hard rock and playing outdoors. In those quiet 1970's streets, he jumped bikes, played Nerf football, and acquired many a childhood scar.

Kenny's love for books flourished early, a habit passed down to him by his uncles. He burned through his grade school library, reading Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien. He spent quite a few days in detention for reading in class.

In later years, Kenny took inspiration from fantasy writers such as China Mieville, Poppy Z. Brite, and Caitlin R. Kiernan.

The transition to author was a natural one for Kenny. His sixth grade teacher encouraged him to start a journal, and he later began jotting down pieces of stories, mostly the outcomes of D&D gaming sessions. If you enjoy urban and dark fantasy, paranormal and horror, with brooding, broken characters and a deep sense of action, you can visit Kenny at

Kenny's latest release is Galefire II : Holy Avengers.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @kennysoward

Guest Blog by Gwendolyn N. Nix - The Hero's Journey and Me

Please welcome Gwendolyn N. Nix to The Qwillery. The Falling Dawn was published on May 11, 2018 by Crossroads Press.

Guest Blog by Gwendolyn N. Nix - The Hero's Journey and Me

The Hero's Journey and Me
Gwendolyn N. Nix

Call to Adventure

Inspiration, that cruel yet wonderful mistress, swooped down on me one fateful evening outside of Makoshika State Park in Glendive, Montana. I'll paint the scene: imagine the pillars and scoops of the badlands, the bones of ancient dinosaurs peeking out of the bedrock, the classic family vacation full of kooky grandparents and backseat sibling squabbles.

Dusk descended, and a prairie thunderstorm raced across the plains to surround our car. The wind howled and the blinding yellow lighting lit the clouds, making the raindrops coating my window glow. I put my hand on the glass, counting the seconds between flashes and thunder rumbles, fascinated in how the lighting looked like falling angels. The story swirled around me, exploding in my brain with that jittery world-encompassing rush of inspiration.

Writers, readers. You know what I'm talking about. The rush. It's unstoppable. It's addicting. And now, at a tender age, I was slave to it.

Refusal of the Call

But how? How to write what I saw in my mind? How to translate that feeling onto the page? English? Pah! No words could embody the feeling of what my story meant. The translation between the seemingly supernatural inspiration and the tools of reality were basic at best. How many times did I nearly give up trying to describe the way the flame of a candle flickered to impart the symbolic gesture of the human soul?

Soon enough, I stashed away my pens and papers, took to driving sports cars at 1am with my friends and spent my weekends out on the town. A bookworm, yes always, but a writer? Meh. Not me.

And yet, I managed to handwrite over 150,000 words for Book One. No one had read a single word of it.

Meeting the Mentor

I was an expert liar at this point about my writing path. I headed off to college with lofty authorly goals in mind and landed headfirst into the creative writing department. I needed help with my craft. The tools in my writer's belt were clumsy Clovis points of too-long sentences instead of honed spears of those who'd been published. Yet, I soon learned the error in my ways: genre fiction wasn't 'in.'

You can't learn from fantasy! I heard. What truths can science fiction impart? You want to add sirens and magic-empowered megladons to your tales? Forget about it! And the untitled novel full of celestial warriors, ocean magic, and underworld gods became a thing of shame, an unworthy concept, an indulgence instead of a vessel to practice my art.

And yet, my heart would not be broken. Finding a mentor wasn't finding my Obi-Wan to teach me my path. My mentorship consisted of discovering what I didn't want to be and having the strength to pursue what I did want to become.

Now transcribed onto a computer, Book 2 had over 75,000 words. Somehow, I'd crossed the path of I think into I know. I knew I wanted to be a writer. A fantasy science-fiction writer.

Tests, Allies, Enemies and the Approach

Lo, I saw before me a dream pasted from pages and printed with words. I saw through the clouds to the high mountain of published success, yet the road to its peak was blocked with query letters, submission guidelines, industry trends, and wizards called agents who held the keys to the gates. I met seers with their eyes on the past and future. They advised me to revise, strengthen my story arc, cut 10% of my words, and ensure that everything served this sacred concept: plot.

I revised. I revised. I revised. I was rejected again and again. I realized I was a lowly blacksmith, the iron of my stories rough and dull. I became the apprentice of blogs, writing panels, and freelance editors. I got Twitter. I revised. I was rejected. I claimed to have trunked this novel, but that was all deceit. I had a dream, yet the mountain looked further away than it ever had before.

Book One has been cut to 125,000 words.

The Ordeal

I came to work for a publishing company and after a time, under certain circumstances on both our parts, they offered to publish my works. I was ecstatic. Happy dances abounded. Things began to develop: artwork, editing, scheduling, but after a number of months the ship began to sink. The ordeal of publishing my novel was out of my hands and dependent on things out of my control. Soon enough, when the mountain looked like it was within my grasp, an avalanche swept me back down to the foothills, and I put my head in my hands and wondered When do all the signs point towards giving up? Here, at the lowest point of my Hero's Journey, I believed all was lost. What was my greatest fear? Failure. That I wasn't good enough.

Resurrection and Transformation

Maybe I wasn't good enough, but my novel had a title now, The Falling Dawn, and I'd had a sweet taste of what it would be like to hold a physical copy in my hands. I had the tools, the skills, and the knowledge to understand what would make my novel sell, what the trends looked like, what the arcs of my tale were. My reward through it all was the realization that I was master of my destiny. I rode the steed of ambition and perseverance and contacted those who might be interested in the story I had to tell. I put myself out there. I managed to speak with my current publisher, who was more than happy to take my book into their repertoire. I managed to reclaim what I had lost: the chance to publish my novel.

Back to the Beginning

Now, with my novel in my hands (and hopefully yours) I'm back to the beginning where I started, with a blank page and that sudden rush filling me again. It's time to write. It's time to craft a spell: one composed out of alliteration, plot twists, and the human condition. It's time to write my next book.

The Falling Dawn
Celestial Scripts 1
Crossroad Press, May 11, 2018
eBook and Trade Paperback

Guest Blog by Gwendolyn N. Nix - The Hero's Journey and Me
Emerging from the dregs of society to become a celestial warrior, Eos soon becomes immersed in a world of ancient texts and falling angels, tasked to find the sacred Book of Raziel and stop a war in heaven. The secrets of the Book will lead Eos down a path of betrayal, pitting her against those she loves. All the while she must cling to her own crumbling sanity as her psyche is split by the emergence of another entity, heralded by the onset of Eos’ new powers. Soon, Eos finds herself in the clutches of the Master of the Oceans, where she must convince him to give her the sacred book. His price? Her soul.

About Gwendolyn

Gwendolyn Nix has tagged sharks in Belize, studied evolution in green algae, and researched neural proteins. She is the author of The Falling Dawn: Celestial Scripts Book One soon to be released from Crossroad Press. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Sisterhood of the Blade, and she has earned Semi-Finalist and Honorable Mentions in the Writers of the Future contest. Previously an editor for Ragnarok Publications, she is currently a senior editor for Outland Entertainment. An avid adventurer and saxophonist, she lives in Missoula, MT. Visit her website at

Facebook  ~  Twitter @gwendolynnix
Guest Blog by Elizabeth Vaughan - You Ask Why I WriteThe Jötunn War: First Peek!  by Ian Stuart SharpeGuest Blog by Brian Kirk - The Long and Winding Road Between BooksGuest Blog by Jack Heckel - The Trials of a TrilogyGuest Blog by J.S. Breukelaar: Writing Speculative FictionDays of the Dead  - Monsters and Mayhem in the Modern World by Gail Z. MartinGuest Blog by Amber Fallon - I am Woman, Hear me WriteGuest Blog by Carina Bissett: Counting BeansGuest Blog by Kenny Soward -  Knaves: A New Beginning for MeGuest Blog by Gwendolyn N. Nix - The Hero's Journey and Me

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