New Book News!

I’m happy to say that I have book news!

Hydra Publications will be publishing my new fantasy novel, Taylenor, this spring. The new book is a stand-alone novel, not related to my Color Mage books.

In the new novel the Mage Defender rules by stealing the magic — and the lives — of children. Jaena gives up everything in a race to save them.

More updates coming soon!

(Featured image photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash)

Last Minute Market 2018

Happy Holidays! Need a gift for an adult reader who loves fantasy? My Color Mage books are character-driven fantasy, about a mage who struggles not to use the dangerous power that he knows will ultimately corrupt him. I’ll be selling and signing both Color Mage novels at the Artists of the Rust Belt Last Minute Market in Youngstown on December 15 and 16.

I’ll also have recent issues of Gathering Storm Magazine, Bards and Sages Quarterly and the wonderful pirate-themed Locothology 2013, all of which include a story by me.

Come check out this event if you are in the area! It’s held in the beautiful old B&O Station in Youngstown. There will be lots of other vendors there and they usually have food and beer as well.

Local Author Book Signing in Poland, Ohio

Update 07-01-2017: Sorry I won’t be able to make this book-signing, since I’m not feeling well. Looking forward to another time, I hope.

I’ll be part of a local author book signing and sale at the Poland Library on Saturday, July 1. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. It runs from 9 am to 1 pm that day.

This event is in conjunction with the Celebrate Poland weekend. The event will be held at the Poland branch of the library, 311 S Main St, Poland, Ohio.

If you’re in the area, stop in and say hi! I’ll have both of my fantasy novels available, and the Locothology and For the Road anthologies as well.

Excerpt from Color Mage

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done this, so I thought I’d post an excerpt from Color Mage.

Color Mage is set in a world where Collared Lords have absolute power in their own lands — at the same time as they’re kept in a kind of magical servitude, unable to leave their lands as they keep a never-ending Watch for magical attack on the borders of Righar.

Seagard’s Collared Lord, Mikati, kept watch for the Black Tide, an attack by the psychic mages of the island of Ha’las. In Book Two, Sword of Jashan, Lord Zelan struggles with his magical binding against a foe that no longer exists.

In this excerpt, Healer Kirian experiences an attack of the Black Tide, first hand.

 

 

Kirian had never been in a boat, not even the little mage-powered sailcraft that drifted in circles around Lake Heart in Sugetre. There, the sailcraft were rented by the hour to those who were willing to pay a few coins for the pleasure, and never had a sailcraft been lost or even capsized on the calm little lake. So Kirian had boarded the Homebound with some trepidation. But after a few hours of sitting at her ease on deck, soaking up the sun and delighting in the beauty of the smiling sea, she was reconciled. She loved the feel of the sun, and the shouts and calls of the fish merchants at Two Merkhan were a pleasure to hear after the quiet of little Seagard.

After the pair had sold their catch, the Homebound turned south again, heading for home.

“I envy you,” she told Rashiri when the other woman took a break from her work to sip a jar of cold honeyed tea with Kirian in the bow. “You’re surrounded by such amazing beauty here.”

“We’re very lucky to be able to do this together,” Rashiri said. Her face was creased and deeply tanned from exposure to the sun and wind. Her uncomplicated smile showed strong white teeth. “But don’t think it’s all like this.”

“There must be storms, and rain and wind.”

“Those are bitter cold days indeed,” Rashiri said. “And there are days with no fish, and days when one of us gets sliced by one of our own knives or the teeth on some unexpected catch.” She held out one arm to show Kirian the frightening white scar that ran around her forearm in an arc. “That’s teeth,” she said.

“I see,” Kirian said faintly.

“Spilled right out of the net with the catch and bit me before I could say aye. Kin got it off me, but Ruthan was busy that day and a few after, I can tell you.”

“Fishing isn’t so peaceful, then.”

“It’s hard work. But I love it, Hon Kirian, and it’s the blessing from the Unknown God that I can be out on the bright sea every day with my love. How many can do that? Here, have some more tea.”

Kirian held out her mug and let the other woman splash some caramel-colored tea into it. The Homebound was approaching port now, steered by Kin in his stained, fishy tunic. Kirian looked straight ahead, to the clutter of houses on the shore that was Seagard Village, then up and up, to the castle that looked out like a hawk on the promontory. She wondered how the newly-bound Lord Arias was progressing, and remembered Lord Callo’s amber eyes.

Behind them, the sun sank hotly to the edge of the sea.

Out on the far horizon, like a pencil-line drawn by an artist to delineate the sea, lay a mark between sea and sky.

“Rashiri! What is that?”

Rashiri stood and craned her neck, then cried out to her husband in the bow. “Kin! Black Tide!”

The line grew thicker, as if the artist inked it, a black border lying on the surface of the ocean. Kirian stared as the line widened, broad as a brush now, and felt her breath torn away by a freshening wind or by fear, she could not tell which.

Then it seemed to rush toward them, speeding towards the craft as Kin and Rashiri rushed to push all possible speed from the Homebound.

“Gods! We’re in its path!” shouted Kin, and the sheet of black drawn over the ocean sped closer.

Kin shouted orders and the wind rushed louder. Kirian, trying to stay out of the way, felt the boat surge forward under their expert handling. But the dock was too far away, and there was no way to beat the accelerating darkness. She watched in paralyzed shock as the whole western sea turned black. A tumble of stunned and helpless fish were washed along in the front of the blackness, those creatures already experiencing the deadening effects of the Black Tide. The Tide was so close she could see its odd matte surface, which did not reflect the rays of the setting sun.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw a flare of brilliance from the Castle. Someone there, one of the Alkirani mages, was on duty. A wave of energy swept off the shore and onto the sea – glorious reds, blues, greens, golds. The colors overtook the Homebound and swept her with radiance before meeting the Black Tide in an inaudible crash. A vibrant shield rose into the sky. Through the translucent colors Kirian saw the Black Tide curling back, retreating against the strength of the defense.

“Jashan and all the gods,” whispered Kirian.

The Homebound reached dock. Helping hands grabbed ropes to moor the boat, and grasped their arms to hustle them to shore. They left the Homebound bobbing, at the mercy of the stiffening wind, but not even Kin and Rashiri dared to wait outside to put her properly away.

“Did you see that?” cried Elder Hame, his white hair whipped in the sudden gale. “Did you see that?”

“Couldn’t help seeing it old one, we were almost eaten by it,” Kin said. He sat down abruptly on a stool in the house they had been ushered into. He put his head in his hands. Rashiri stood behind him and put her calloused hands gently on his shoulders.

“I take it,” Kirian said carefully, “That doesn’t happen, uh, often?”

Hame laughed. “Never seen it, though they say it happened once ten years ago. What power! My lord mage was brilliant! That’ll teach those Ha’lasi not to sneak up on us that way!”

“It was too close,” Rashiri said.

“I need to go back to Ruthan,” Kirian said. “Kin, Rashiri, you get yourselves home and a warm mug of wine. That’s from your Healer, now!”

“We have to tend to the Homebound,” Kin said.

“Leave her. Someone else will take care of her for you this time. You’ve had a shock, you know.” Two men nodded at her and went out to take care of the Homebound.

Rashiri nodded, hands still on Kin’s shoulders as he slumped on the stool. “I’ll get us home, Hon Healer,” she said. “We’re fine though. Get to Ruthan, she’ll be worried about you.”

Kirian backed away, her eyes still on Kin, torn between her duty to old Ruthan and the possible need for her here. The door opened and Ruthan stood there, bent with age and the struggle against the wind, cloaked for a journey.

“Young Kirian!” she said. “Come! They will be calling for us at the castle.”

“We’re fine,” Rashiri said. “Go.”

Kirian waited only to grab her cloak and she was gone.

 

 

Here are links to the Amazon pages for Color Mage and for Book Two, Sword of Jashan.

 

My Best Fantasy Worlds

Last weekend at Cleveland Concoction I was fortunate enough to be on panels with some interesting authors. My favorite panel was “Best Fantasy Worlds” — because I find the complexities of worldbuilding endlessly fascinating.

The fantasy worlds that we remember tend to be carefully crafted, with lots of attention paid to how its characters — not just the main character — live, work, and travel in them. Some of the treasured fantasy worlds mentioned in the panel were Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, Discworld, Camelot, Oz, and Earthsea.

I kept thinking about this after the panel, so here are a few other worlds that are special for me:

  • Riverworld. Created by Philip José Farmer, the first book is To Your Scattered Bodies Go. It’s a fictional planet with a long river valley where every human being who ever lived is resurrected, young and healthy again. In the novels, historical figures interact as they travel and try to find out why they’ve been returned to life.
  • Amber. From The Chronicles of Amber, by Roger Zelazny. In the series there are two true worlds, Amber and the Courts of Chaos. Parallel worlds (including Earth), which are only shadows of the two true worlds, lie between them.
  • The world of the Silence Leigh trilogy by Melissa Scott, beginning with Five-Twelfths of Heaven. It feels like science fiction but there’s clearly magic, as Silence, who is a pilot, discovers when she attempts to become the first female magus. There’s also a brilliant system of space travel, and an Empire that relegates women to second-class status that Silence must struggle against. This is a multilayered world, beautifully done. I am seeing online that parts of the original series may have been rewritten, so I’ll clarify that I’m referring to the original books.
  • The world of the Thursday Next novels by Jasper Fforde. These are very funny fantasy novels based in an alternate England which is so closely interwoven with literature that characters can jump into and out of books. There’s a bureaucratic entity called “Jurisfiction” that makes sure the plots of all the novels continue operating properly even after multiple readings. This is a very well-done world, filled with literary allusions and a lot of humor.

If I went downstairs and began looking through my books I could come up with many more, but I’d better stop there. I’m pretty sure most of us have our own favorites. In fact, I think that’s half the pleasure of talking to other readers — sharing our favorite fictional worlds.

Goodreads Giveaway: Color Mage Set!

Fantasy readers: there is a giveaway for Color Mage and the sequel, Sword of Jashan, on Goodreads. You can enter for a chance to win one of two available signed copies! Winners will receive a set of both Color Mage books. Deadline for entries is Tuesday, December 15.

To find the giveaway and enter: you can either search for Color Mage on Goodreads and follow the link to the giveaway, or click on this link.

Color Mage (2012) is set in a world where Collared Lords have absolute power in their fiefs, even as they are magically enslaved by the King to force them to protect the land.

Lord Callo, bastard son of the King’s sister, leaves his holdings in the midst of the contempt of his friends. He joins Healer Kirian as she flees for her life from the anger of a Collared Lord. Together they journey to Ha’las — an enemy island ruled by the feared psychic mages known as ku’an. There, Callo learns of his true heritage and his dangerous magic. How will he protect those around him — even Kirian, whom he is growing to care for — from his own unpredictable power?

In Book Two: Sword of Jashan (2013), Callo’s tenuous control begins to fail. His magic threatens his sanity and the safety of all those around him. Even Kirian could be forced away by Callo’s misuse of his power. Fighting with his own abilities, Callo still resolves to protect the young heir from the intrigues of the King. And Ander himself must decide whom to trust, as he becomes the target of an assassin.

Giveaway ends Dec 15!

 

 

Science Fiction or Fantasy?

I joined a panel about science fiction vs. fantasy at last weekend’s Marcon convention. The premise was: “Why are some readers so clearly drawn to one of these genres and not the other, and yet some folks love both?”

Embed from Getty Images

 

This was a good discussion, with the audience chiming in, too. No one in our room admitted to not enjoying both science fiction and fantasy. In fact, the quality of a novel’s storytelling and characterization was much more important to everyone than just genre.

The discussion centered more on what makes a work science fiction or fantasy — what were the defining characteristics? This is a rich topic — we went on about it for over an hour — and I won’t recap it here. Everyone agreed there was a range of speculative fiction. Not everything falls clearly into one category or another.

To my thinking, this makes the genre much richer. The idea got me thinking about some books I’ve read that blend or challenge speculative fiction tropes.

* Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint, which she called a “melodrama of manners”. Set in a created world, it’s clearly a fantasy that alternates between the intrigue of the decadent nobility and the personal stories of two men who live in Riverside — but it has no magic at all.

* The Roads of Heaven series by Melissa Scott. A wonderful blend of science fiction and fantasy. The books are a space opera, but they also have magi, and pilots who use magical abilities to navigate space.

* The God Engines. John Scalzi creates a world where a captured god powers a spacecraft, and where faith is a real thing. Nice blend of science fiction and fantasy.

* Of course the amazing Pern novels by Anne McCaffrey. They seem to be fantasy, since they have dragons, and everyone knows dragons are magical creatures — right? But it becomes clear as you read that these are science fiction novels.

These are just some of my favorites. I’m sure there are many others.

Why restrict your reading by genre? In fact, why restrict it by any artificial characteristic? What matters most to me is a good story.

FYI, here are a couple of links where people attempt to explain the difference between science fiction and fantasy: one from Gotham Writers, and  from io9.

 

Dayton Book Expo

DBE Postcard 2015 Front

I’m looking forward to being at the Dayton Book Expo on Saturday, April 25! I’ll be one of many authors in different genres, signing their books at this event.

Sword of Jashan is my featured book for the expo — I’ll also have copies of Color Mage, Locothology 2013 and the new For the Road anthology with my short story, “The Summer of Growing Up”.

If you’re in the area, stop by and say hi! The event is free and open to the public.

Here’s a link to a list of authors appearing at the Dayton Book Expo.