Arbiter Codex 2 Update

So, of course, having decided to put Book 2 on the back burner until after NaNo, I was struck with inspiration last night and wrote a 2500-word prologue to a new version of this sequel. I believe the idea is forming for the correct story, which will be a worthy follow-up to Elegy.

Raise the stakes, make it more dangerous, but don’t forget the tight, claustrophobic vision that makes Swords & Sorcery what it is and what made Elegy so much fun to write in the first place.

Swords & Sorcery is a strange genre, and since I’ve spent so much of my life writing epic fantasy, I tend to trend that way when I’m not thinking about it. My brain automatically starts thinking about huge, world-shaking plots – but that’s not really what S&S is about. S&S is personal, gritty and dark. It’s about people trying to overcome bad things that happen to themselves and to the people around them.

This is the reason I’m having to fully re-write what I’ve done so far – the 58,000 words I wrote previously were basically the wrong subgenre.

Whatever this new story is called, I will do my utmost to make it a worthy sequel, and will not call it ‘done’ until it is.


On a side note, Sorcerer’s Code primary revisions are complete and it’s off to its final line edit. I’m having a bit more trouble with the cover for this one – Corpse King’s cover was like a flash of inspiration, but this one’s giving me a harder time. Right now the story itself is almost 14,000 words. For those looking for their next Eisengoth fix, I’m thinking right now that the release will likely be mid-November.

As always, thanks for reading!


Sorcerer’s Code Update

Also, mini-update on Sorcerer’s Code. It will be going through one more round of revisions this week, and then for a final copy edit. Then it will need formatting. Cover is still being worked on. My plan was originally to release in October, but it might get moved to November to make sure that it is as much fun to read as it was to write. This is one of the most fun stories I’ve ever written, and I hope you all will enjoy it once it’s released!

8 Days & Counting

The last week or so has been filled with madness. We’re still settling in to the new home, work has picked up at my day job, and I’ve been trying to write or read in every spare minute, which hasn’t left much time for blogging or Twitter.

We’re entering the final pre-NaNo stretch this year. I am now registered as Eisengoth on the site, so if you’d like to follow my progress on my first 100% original attempt since becoming a published indie author, feel free to drop by my profile there.

Quick update on Prophecy: I finished (sort of) the first draft. It’s currently in a limbo state as I re-evaluate to figure out what I want to do with it. Right now it’s looking like many of the elements may get transplanted into a new plot that’s tighter and more true to the original story. The one I wrote is kind of meandering, and at least two of the major plot points just aren’t going to work within the world’s logic. It may not even keep its name right now; we’ll have to see. I’ll be getting back to that in December.

For now, I’m working on firming up the ideas around my tentatively-titled Starfire (whose name I’m certain will change), which will be a super-far-future science-fiction adventure with fantasy elements and probably almost no hard science at all. While I really wanted to work on the novel version of Dutiful Daughter, I don’t really think that’s a NaNo-style project – plus, I’m not exactly sure what I want that story to be just yet. It’s getting there, but isn’t strong enough to jump into.

I’ll be updating on Starfire progress throughout November here, on Twitter and on Facebook. Hope you’ll be NaNo-ing too!

Review: Grave Situation by Alex MacLean

(Note: Grave Situation was a LibraryThing Member Giveaway. It can be found on Amazon & Smashwords.)

Grave Situation is not the kind of book I normally pick up off the shelf. Generally speaking, I tend to stick to the realm of urban fantasy when looking for a detective-style yarn, although I do enjoy procedural crime TV shows on occasion.

The story is gripping, dark (dark dark dark) and draws you in even as you find yourself both fascinated and disgusted. Clearly, Mr. MacLean knows his crime fiction, and based on his apparent knowledge of the processes and procedures regarding everything from following a lead to an autopsy, may have first-hand experience. Everything was very convincing, and the plot expertly constructed. It is disturbing at times, with a relentlessly grim vision of the world and its main character, and achieves an excellent level of verisimilitude.

On the technical side, this book feels like one which is just teetering on the knife-edge of that polished, professional level that we’re all unconsciously looking for in a book. The formatting of the ePub version has no hyper-linked chapters, meaning that when I was using my online reader (Bookworm by O’Reilly) I was not able to close the window, as I would lose my place – and the one time that Firefox crashed on me, I had to manually click through the chapters in order to return to where I was. Also, I noticed a few minor typos, and one word confusion in a prominent place at the beginning of the book (‘except’ instead of ‘accept’).

Grave Situation is an engaging, gripping, psychological mystery that questions the wisdom of giving your whole life to your profession, and what happens when that whole house of cards comes crumbling down.

Final Score: 4 out of 5. Excellent story & just a few technical flaws.

The Writer’s Group

So, I’m currently working on revisions for a new novelette of mine, which I’m currently calling ‘Sorcerer’s Code’. You might have noticed that there is a new entry in the ‘Tales of Eisengoth’ section which is only a little more than a placeholder.

I wanted to take a minute to emphasize just how wonderful it is to have a writing group of people, whose opinions you know are insightful and can be trusted. I’m lucky enough to be part of such a group.

My first draft of Sorcerer’s Code left a few threads untied, and it was lacking a key piece of logic that I’d overlooked. It was there in my head, but it turned out that I needed to make a specific decision, because otherwise the fundamental premise of the story wasn’t going to work. My fellow writers nailed me on it, and while I gave a sort of half-hearted hand-wave during the group session itself, it started me thinking. I decided the hand-wavy explanation made less sense than no explanation at all, and I was forced to re-think some of the final twist.

They also happened to point out that there was a plot thread which was mentioned twice and then never followed up on. This gave me an entirely new scene, a new side character and about 2,500-3,000 more words of fun, bringing the wordcount for draft 2 up to over 13,000 words.

If you’re a writer without a writer’s group, I highly recommend that you find one with other committed writers whose interests and passions align with your own. They don’t necessarily have to want to be published writers themselves (though they probably do) but they should at least understand how to weave a story and be well-read enough to spot the flaws that you’re likely to overlook in your own work.

You might have to try a couple of different groups to find one that you like. If you’re writing fiction, find other fiction writers who at least respect your chosen genre, even if it isn’t their favorite. Find warm, engaged people who are more interested in making everyone’s work better than getting a soapbox for their own work. Lastly, ensure that honest, helpful feedback is given… a group of sycophants who think everything is ‘great’ really isn’t going to help you become a better writer.

Those are my thoughts for today. Do with them what you will.

Review: Scriber by Ben S. Dobson

(Note: I reviewed Scriber as a LibraryThing Member Giveaway win. I downloaded an ePub copy from The book is available at Amazon and Smashwords, and the author’s website can be found here.)

Scriber is, at its heart, a story about the value of history. The description of the book does it justice, so I will not repeat a basic summary in this review. The wrapping for the historical theme is an epic/heroic fantasy, filled with legends, monsters, betrayals, unexpected allies and true heroism.

The cast of characters, including the reluctant Dennon Lark, the stoic Bryndine Errynson, and her company of female warriors, is both charming and engaging. The fact that I can remember many of their names even though I finished reading it two days ago is a testament to just how strongly these characters come across.

The world itself reminds me of the history of Great Britain, with enough fantasy elements and well thought-out and intriguing world-building to truly pull you in. Being a fantasy world creator and fanatic myself, Mr. Dobson has truly created something wonderful here, and I hope he intends to visit it again. The history of his world is riveting, full of intrigue and danger, and is one of the more believable fantasy settings I have had the pleasure to come across.

The story has enough twists and turns to keep any lover of fantasy, problem-solving or discovery fascinated. It has almost a treasure-hunt vibe, and Dobson is not afraid to make the moments count and raise the stakes. Discoveries in the plot are well-timed, with nothing seeming rushed, and true surprises coming out of the shadows.

I really can’t describe in text how much I liked this book. The independent author community should welcome this new writer with open arms, because he will be lending credit to our movement for years to come.

Final Score: 5 out of 5. Buy and read this book – and do it now.

Review: The Walking Dead – Compendium One by Robert Kirkman

So, it’s perhaps a bit unorthodox to do a book review for a graphic novel collection… but I don’t care.

I’ve of course heard many things about The Walking Dead comic series, particularly after becoming a fan of the AMC show last year. I really like the show, but damn near everything I read called the comic series many times better, and there were a large number of people who seemed quite upset that the show was not a frame-by-frame reproduction of said comic.

I have a couple of problems with comics, overall. First problem is that I read too damn fast for comics. When they’re $2 to $3 apiece and I blow through an issue in about 15 minutes, that’s just not a cost-effective type of entertainment. Maybe it would have been better back in the days when they were a quarter each, but those days aren’t now, and I just don’t get enough enjoyment out of a single issue.

The other problem I have is that since I rarely read them, I’m not really connected to that world and type of storytelling. I do enjoy the occasional Marvel film and I like their heroes, but I’m not used to the comic/graphic novel medium at all. I tend to save what little comic reading I do to big compendiums and omnibus collections, since they’re somewhat more cost-effective overall. I did read, for instance, Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men, but that was mostly because it was Joss and I’d just run out of Firefly at the time.

So, with all that being said, let’s move on to the review.

The Walking Dead: Compendium One is a collection of the first 8 volumes (smaller collections) of the series. This covers a fairly large area of the series chronology, and the book was heavy enough that I’m pretty sure it bruised my ribs from reading it in a reclining position.

The first volume, while not exactly the same, is pretty closely tied to the first season of the show, so that kind of felt like watching a repeat. The major difference was that, where some of the scenes in the show were very powerful, the comic felt sort of abbreviated, which at first inclined me more toward the TV show. It’s difficult going from the adaptation back to the original material, because sometimes you end up liking the adaptation more.

After I got past volume one, that’s when shit started to get real, if you’ll pardon the expression.

I love zombies. Man, do I love them. I’ve logged probably close to 500 hours on Left 4 Dead & its sequel, I’ve seen several zombie movies (although I still need to see Zombieland), but I’ve never read or seen anything quite like this comic before. It’s so real, it’s so visceral, and I’ll be damned if it’s not more bloodthirsty and gut-wrenchingly brutal than George Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire.

My plan is to avoid spoilers (although I really, really want to talk about some of them) so I won’t go into any plot stuff. Part of me wants to go start buying the smaller volumes just to continue the story, even though at $8 each I’m going to have a hard time justifying the cost.

Only know this: if you want a frank, bleak and so-real-it’s-disturbing look at the world following the zombie apocalypse, and you haven’t yet tasted Robert Kirkman’s engrossing writing and the stark, black & white visuals of The Walking Dead, you really should read this compendium.

Just don’t get attached to anyone.

Final Score: 5 out of 5. I love this comic – I really do. Read it!!