The Qwillery | category: Kenny Soward


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

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

Excerpt from Tinkermage by Kenny Soward - December 4, 2014

Please welcome Kenny Soward to The Qwillery with an excerpt from Tinkermage. In this excerpt we are introduced to Stena Wavebreaker. Tinkermage, the second book in the GnomeSaga, was published on December 1st by Ragnarok Publications.

Excerpt from Tinkermage by Kenny Soward - December 4, 2014

        Stena Wavebreaker came from a long line of strong-backed sailors, all who’d mysteriously taken up the seafaring trade some two-hundred years ago. Their original family surname had been purposefully forgotten and the Wavebreaker Shipping Company established. A passion for the sea drove them to dangerous waters, bravely delivering cargo where no others would dare, taking on pirate ships with gleeful hostility. Reckless, no. Tough as twice-hardened gnomish steel, yes.
        Stena had been a fixture on gnomish vessels for almost forty years, known by everyone for her less than gentle ways yet still loved by her crews. If you wanted cargo delivered to the Drake Islands or around the coast to the dwarvish stronghold of Olrad, you hired Stena Wavebreaker.
        But an airship captain?
        The clouds kissed her face with cold mist as she stood on the forward navigation deck of her most recent commission, a nameless vessel pieced together and re-thaumaturged into something that might (or might not) stay in the sky. Granted, she fought hard to stay airborne. The port and starboard fans, mounted on swivels four to a side, were locked vertically to support the main aft propeller, driving the airship forward as fast as they dared, although Stena could tell by the low whine of the engine they could do better yet. Rune-etched wood made up the ship’s hull and deck frames. Tethered above was the large, bulging air bladder comprised of several smaller air sacs, all of which fit into a skin framed by metal and wood. They swung beneath it like some maniacal pendulum.
        Stena put her boot into one of the many rope anchors in place across the deck as the vessel heaved up against a wall of wind, tilted at a precarious angle, threatening to roll her down the deck. She’d been trying to read a map and resisted the urge to toss it aside and clutch an anchor rope.
        No. She must exude utter confidence, unwavering fortitude, and insurmountable strength. She couldn’t show one sign of ground-kisser’s weakness. Her foot tightened beneath the ankle rope, muscles straining taut up through her leg. Her eyes fixed on the flag of Hightower fluttering from a pole near the prow. A white cog on a field of blue. Her heart swelled with pride at the sight of it even as she gritted her teeth from the ship’s billowing.
        Just like the surge of waves below your feet, Stena!
        The crew of four followed her lead, anchoring themselves while continuing to go about their business with cool efficiency. Levers flipped, shouts rang out, and water surged through pressure lines. The engines whined with increasing effort as the gnomish crew steered the vessel up the wave of wind.
        She called out with a boom, “Hang tight and steer her right, good gnomes!”
        The wind ate her words, and she repeated herself loud enough to be heard, squinted against a fierce pelt of rain, and willed her crew onward. The only one among them not part of her crew was the linguist, Bertrand, who Dale had assigned at the last minute to help communicate with the swamp elves when the time came. Yes, the swamp elves. Who knew if they still existed? Stena and her crew were to find out, and they would depend on the linguist to keep them alive. Right now, Bert was below with the cargo, undoubtedly hanging on for dear life with a bucket on hand in the event his dinner came up.
        At the crest, the ship hitched and evened out. Stena relaxed. She knew it wouldn’t last though. Soon, there’d be another brutal wave of wind to batter them in some unexpected direction. Being on a stormy sea was smooth as a baby’s bottom compared to this. Her crew was just too new, too green.
        “Maintain altitude,” Stena shouted. “The first of you who figures out how to keep this bucket of slop from rolling on its head gets an extra fill from the cask.”
        Stena secured the map to the controller’s table with corner clasps. She pushed a shock of blondish-gray hair back into her fur-lined hood and studied the markings and intersecting lines of their course, looking for any piece of land they might have missed.
        As directed by Precisor General Dale Dillwind some days ago, they’d flown back and forth across the lands south of Hightower, through clouds and gray skies, gazing down like gods upon the hills, forests, and streams. West across the Southland Farms where barns and homesteads looked like tiny, rust-colored boxes all the way to the Western Pass, then back east again over Swicki Forest and what had once been Dowelville. Stena had directed them to fly low over the newly charred Harwood Lake, marveling at the massive carcass of the mother amorph being hacked to pieces for disposal by gnomish workers. Stena had attached a note with their current report to a ship weight and dropped it down to the officers directing the cleanup crew. One officer had gone to it and waved up at them.
        It was then that Stena realized the importance of their mission and Dale’s genius in sending the airships to the sky in the first place. Hightower hadn’t been threatened by outsiders in almost two hundred years, yet the precisor general had taken it upon himself to shake this sleepy town awake. He’d launched a half dozen ships to the far corners of Sullenor to seek help from races they’d not had contact with for decades, centuries even. Stena’s mission was the hardest, by far, and she would do everything she could to be his eyes and ears in the sky. While she was confident in their mission, she was also one hundred percent positive it was a fruitless task. Unlike most Hightower gnomes, she had great experience with the outside world, and that world had very little time for her folk and their problems.
        Which only made Stena want to succeed even more.
        “Lins! What’s wrong with the prow? It’s bending to this wind like a beat dog. Is it sad? Is this damnable boat sad? If I find myself staring at the ground one more time, I’m throwing you off this deck. Now, right the ship!”
        “Aye, Captain!” came Linsey’s reply. As if to prove her competence, the port and starboard blades shifted, engine noise rising, and the prow nosed up at the moon.
        Yes, they’d stay afloat if it damn well killed her.

GnomeSaga 2
Ragnarok Publications, December 1, 2014
eBook, 320 pages
Cover by Arman Akopian

Excerpt from Tinkermage by Kenny Soward - December 4, 2014
THE ENEMY EXPOSED. Nikselpik Nur has become the city of Hightower’s staunchest—albeit unwilling—ally. He’s hardly learned to cope with his debilitating bugging addiction, much less take on the duties of being the city’s First Wizard. Can he embrace this new path? And will he?

Meanwhile, Stena Wavebreaker is pulled from her seafaring duties by the Precisor General and given command of a raggedy airship to scout the ultraworldly enemy from the perilous skies above the Southern Reaches. Her mission: gain the support of the unpredictable ‘swamp elves,’ the Giyipcias.

Lastly, Niksabella Nur has set off from Hightower at the behest of the grim stonekin leader, Jontuk. The gnomestress must unlock the full potential of her invention, the recursive mirror, and her own powers, to bear what might be the heaviest burden of all. What will she discover along the way? And will Jontuk be able to keep her alive long enough to save them all?

This is GnomeSaga Book Two.

A full-color PDF map of Sullenor, the GnomeSaga setting, is available to download here at Ragnarok Publications.


Rough Magick
GnomeSaga 1
Ragnarok Publications, October 30, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
Cover by Arman Akopian

Excerpt from Tinkermage by Kenny Soward - December 4, 2014
NIKSABELLA the gnome has tinkered in the shadows for years, developing an invention that might change the world—even if she doesn’t know it. She has few friends and even fewer allies in Hightower, where social and academic status is crucial.

Her brother, NIKSELPIK, is an obstinate wizard who drinks heavily, sings dirty songs, and makes unmannerly passes at gnomestresses. A dark addiction consumes him, giving him increased power while also pushing him closer to death.

Dark, otherworldy creatures, foreign to the lands of SULLENOR, have suddenly appeared, making chaos wherever they go. In the wake of this, Niksabella must fight to protect her life and her invention, while Nikselpik engages the enemy as an unlikely counselor to Hightower’s military elite.< Will the gnomish siblings find their true powers together, or perish apart? And will they overcome the wounds of their childhood before it's too late?

About Kenny

Excerpt from Tinkermage by Kenny Soward - December 4, 2014
Kenny Soward grew up in Crescent Park, Kentucky, 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, and in high school spent many days in detention for reading fantasy fiction during class.

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. At the University of Kentucky, Kenny took creative writing classes under Gurny Norman, former Kentucky Poet Laureate and author of Divine Rights Trip (1971).

Kenny's latest releases are ROUGH MAGIC (GnomeSaga #1) and THOSE POOR, POOR BASTARDS (Dead West #1) with Tim Marquitz and J.M. Martin.

By day, Kenny works as a Unix professional, and at night he writes and sips bourbon. Kenny lives in Independence, Kentucky, with three cats and a gal who thinks she's a cat.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @kennysoward

Interview with Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin and Kenny Soward, authors of the Dead West series - March 23, 2014

Please welcome Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin and Kenny Soward to The Qwillery. They are the co-authors of the Dead West series published Ragnarok Publications.

Interview with Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin and Kenny Soward, authors of the Dead West series - March 23, 2014

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery, Tim, J.M. and Kenny. Please tell us when you started writing and the most challenging thing about writing for you.

TIM:  Howdy. Just ignore Kenny.

I’ve always liked writing, but it wasn’t until around ’95 or so that I seriously contemplated doing more than the occasional scribble. A buddy brought his novel into work and it kind of lit a fire under me. I started processing and thinking of writing my own novel but life got in the way, and I didn’t get much done. Then somewhere around 2008 I stumbled across a writing group that reignited my interest, and I’ve been doing it consistently since then.

The most challenging thing these days is finding time to write amidst all the other commitments that come with publishing.

JOE (J.M.):  Thanks, TQ, and I wanna make it clear that contrary to popular belief, I was not the buddy in ’95 who brought his novel in and flaunted it in Tim’s face. But, damn, I wish I was. I would have said “nyah-nyah,” too. And maybe, like, rubbed my novel all over his face. That would have been fantastic.

Sigh. Oh, well. Let’s see…what was the question again? Ah, when did I start writing? Let’s see, I suppose it was when I figured out it was more fun for me than drawing. I started out wanting to be a comic book artist, and I drew a LOT growing up, but it would take me hours and hours to draw just one page, and then you turn your pencils in to an inker and the organic feel and fluid tones of graphite on bristol gets lost. It was very disappointing. So I realized writing was a lot more gratifying, plus I could control the end result.

The most challenging thing about writing is the same as Tim said: finding the time. I work from home and have three kids all under eight years old, so co-publishing Ragnarok’s titles and playing Mr. Mom definitely eats up my energy and, hence, any free time I have to write.

KENNY:  Do I have to sit next to these two? Ugh. Well, I guess if it’s only for a little while I can stomach it. I started writing in sixth grade when my teacher encouraged the class to start keeping a journal.

The most challenging thing about writing to me has always been maintaining focus and keeping the flow going on a regular basis. I still write a lot, but it has taken me years to learn to clear my schedule and make writing a priority, especially with all the marketing that authors have to do these days.

TQ:  You co-write the new Dead West series, which includes 2 books (so far): Those Poor, Poor Bastards and The Ten Thousand Things. Describe each book in 140 words or less:

TIM:  The first book, Those Poor, Poor Bastards, is kind of the storm before the storm. Lots of spirited introductions made in the middle of an undead uprising. Total chaos.

JOE:  TPPB is kind of like the classic standoff at the Alamo. That’s how I sort of pictured it in the plotting stages, with our characters holed up in a broken-down fort, wondering what the hell is going on, and what are they going to do to get out of this mess alive!

TIM:  And then The Ten Thousand Things opens up the world of weird western and zombie. We get them outside of the fort and into the wilderness, all while delving a lot more into the mystical and spiritual elements, all with guts and guns galore.

KENNY:  Since the dead rose in TPPB, the group’s been hard pressed and on their heels for a few days by the time we’re deep into TTTT. And Tim’s right, we definitely open up the mystical and spiritual aspects, especially pertaining to the main character, Nina, and her connection to the Land and the People.

JOE:  Was that 140 words or less for each of us or in total?

TQ:  How does the collaboration work? Who does what?

KENNY: We start with an online chat thread called “Dead West Deaduns,” where we discuss book ideas and share inspiration, talk about the characters, and anything major we want to address in the plot. Tim and Joe do most of the initial brainstorming, and once they have their notes together, Tim creates the outline.

TIM: Joe is so anal, too. He does tons of research, so his notes are great to have. There’s no way we’re able to fit in all the work he does, though.

KENNY: Yeah, what the hell. Remember when he came up with all the characters? I was like, how are we going to fit this many characters into a fifty-thousand word book?

JOE: Hey, according to Gini Koch I’m not anal, I’m detail-oriented. So up yours.

TIM:  Up my what?

JOE:  Shut up.

KENNY:  So I take the outline and compose a draft. Then Tim and Joe tweak and revise while copyediting. They ensure a smooth flow and consistent tone. Tim looks mainly for gaps in logic and areas that require clarification, that might cause reader confusion, and Anal Joe does all the fact checking and addresses issues of style and timing and inserts his own scenes.

TIM:  In the meantime, we keep collaborating and tossing ideas back and forth. We’re pretty much permanently connected on Facebook.

JOE:  Don’t reveal the truth of our connection. It’s telepathy. We have this Borg mind thing going where we—

KENNY:  —are able to finish one another’s—

TIM:  —sandwiches.

JOE:  Close enough.

TQ:  Why did you combine the Wild West and Zombies?

JOE:  Because they are two of the f**king coolest subgenres in my mind. I was very deliberate in the whole ‘The Walking Dead and Hell on Wheels Collide’ tagline. Months before we started, I was chatting online with a friend named Mike Wheeler and he wrote, “I always wanted to see Clint Eastwood take down some zombies with a Bowie knife.” So that vision instantly resonated. I then stole his idea and ran away with it, laughing maniacally all the while. Honestly, though, Mike is one of our biggest supporters and I think he’s proud to have planted that seed and watched me turn it into a Western zombie series with my two main compadres.

KENNY:  I love you, man.

JOE:  Thank you, Kenny. You know I feel the same.


TQ:  Tell us something about the novels not in the book descriptions.

KENNY:  Each character has a rich history; for example, the Daggett brothers fought at Shiloh during the Civil War and they still carry that burden through the Dead West books. All the characters, in fact, have a unique history that we’re anxious to unveil as we go.

JOE:  There’s also Father Thomas Mathias, a Jesuit missionary priest known as a Black Robe, and he’s a mysterious cat with weird abilities that makes our main character be all like, “Say wha—?” She’s not sure what to make of this white dude with all his D&D-style clerical magic (for all you gamers out there).

TIM:  You are so weird.

JOE:  What did I say?

KENNY:  Although Dead West is billed as a ‘zombie’ series, there’s much more to it, too. We’re taking it into a Weird West direction at times with what some folks have referred to as Lovecraftian influences.

JOE:  That makes me think of Keith West’s review at Amazing Stories, where he said it’s more like Night of the Living Dead meets H.P. Lovecraft and Dr. Fu Manchu,” which I think is a great description.

KENNY:  I agree with you. And I also agree with Tim that you are weird.

TQ: What's next?

TIM:  The third installment of Dead West is called The Devils in Reno, and we’ve had our characters on the run for two books now, so this is the point where those who are still alive formulate a plan to take the fight to the bad guys.

JOE:  Then the plan for book four is to give our wordmonkey a break. Kenny will need to hop away like a cuddly little bunny so he can work on the third book in his GnomeSaga trilogy, so we’ve tapped author Ed Erdelac to come in and play in the sandbox with us for an issue. He’s all about the wuxia genre, and there will be a fair amount of that going on in Dead West #4.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery!

Those Poor, Poor Bastards
Dead West 1
Ragnarok Publications, February 19, 2014

Interview with Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin and Kenny Soward, authors of the Dead West series - March 23, 2014

Sierra Nevada, 1868, during the expansion of the Central Pacific Railroad, Nina Weaver and her pa, Lincoln, trundle into Coburn Station with a wagonful of goods they're looking to barter. Of all the rotten luck, their world—and the future of the Old West—is forever changed when a swarm of zombies invades town on the hunt for some human-sized vittles.

From the deranged minds of Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin, and Kenny Soward, Those Poor, Poor Bastards is the first volume in an all-new Old Western Supernatural Horror series.

The Ten Thousand Things
Dead West 2
Ragnarok Publications, upcoming

Interview with Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin and Kenny Soward, authors of the Dead West series - March 23, 2014
Stalked across the Great Basin by an evil they hardly understand, Nina Weaver and her hard-bitten bunch o’ ragtag death-dealers have learned one crucial lesson: the only sure thing in life—and death—is a loaded gun.

‘Deaduns’ and other horrors have come a’callin’, and Nina struggles to uphold unlikely alliances as the stale waft of rot threatens to overrun the West. Can Nina and company stand against...The Ten Thousand Things?

Something To Look Forward To

Dead West Facebook Release Party on March 25, 8-11 EDT. Find it here.

About the Authors

Tim Marquitz

Raised on a diet of Heavy Metal and bad intentions, Tim Marquitz writes a mix of the dark perverse, the horrific, and the tragic, tinged with sarcasm and biting humor. A former grave digger, bouncer, and dedicated metalhead, he is a huge fan of Mixed Martial Arts, and fighting in general. His urban fantasy series called Demon Squad is a fan favorite and he is also the Editor-In-Chief of Ragnarok Publications. He lives in El Paso, Texas, with his beautiful wife and daughter. His website is

J.M. Martin

J.M. Martin has been a teacher, an occupational therapist, a managing editor, and a graphic designer. He has written comic books and role-playing games, as well as several short stories for Fantasist Enterprises, Rogue Blades Entertainment, Pill Hill Press, and Angelic Knight Press. He recently co-founded Ragnarok Publications with Tim Marquitz and is the company’s Creative Director. J.M. (Joe) lives in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, with his kick-ass, red-headed, black belt wife and three spirited wee folk he swears are pixies. He wants you to bookmark and come to it often.

Kenny Soward

Kenny Soward grew up in Crescent Park, Kentucky, a small suburb just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, listening to AC/DC, Quiet Riot, and Iron Maiden. In those quiet 1970's streets, he jumped bikes, played Nerf football, and acquired many a childhood scar. At the age of sixteen, he learned to play drums and bashed skins for many groups over the next twenty years. By day, Kenny works as a Unix professional, and at night he writes and sips bourbon. His fantasy series GnomeSaga is published by Ragnarok Publications. He lives in Independence, Kentucky, with two cats and a gal who thinks she's a cat. Visit him online at

Guest Blog by Kenny Soward -  Knaves: A New Beginning for MeExcerpt from Tinkermage by Kenny Soward - December 4, 2014Interview with Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin and Kenny Soward, authors of the Dead West series - March 23, 2014

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