Monthly Archives: September 2012
A few more details about the Baltimore Book Festival. I’ll be at a panel on E-Publishing at noon on Saturday, then taking a break at 1pm before being on a panel on Crossing Genres at 2pm. Between 3pm and 4pm, I’ll be doing a reading for part of the time, probably from In the Service of the King, then at 4:30-5:30pm, I’ll be signing at one of the book sales tents. It’s a huge event, so I hope that maybe some old friends from Games Workshop, Other Realms or Dream Wizards might be able to come out.
Meanwhile, I’ve been juggling this week, working on Charming and Ashes and Cinders (Book 2 of the Crimson Hawks) while remembering that I have a superhero anthology I should be finalizing and feeling guilty about several fellow authors who deserve some feedback from me. I’m also getting more accustomed to writing on my laptop as my primary story creation tool, since my desktop is in desperate need of IT tech love.
Oh, and I’ve been writing a touch on my epic fantasy novel, The Lantern, because I’ve felt inspired. A friend of mine, fellow author Wayland Smith, once told me to write whatever I felt inspired to write. He’s a smart man who did a book on terrorists attacking Washington DC titled In My Brother’s Name. I’m going to have to dedicate a post to him before too long because I wouldn’t be an author without his direct intervention.
I hope everyone has a great weekend!
This weekend I’ll be attending the Baltimore Book Festival. It’s a great event with tons of authors and books for sale and an all around celebration of literature. Here’s the link. I’ll have both In the Service of the King and Souls of the Everwood for sale there at a special price for the event. I’m doing a book signing between 4:30 and 5:30 on Saturday, September 29 at the book sale booth for SFWA. My thanks to everyone involved in the organization, and I’m hoping that I might get a chance to see some of my friends from the Baltimore-DC area.
As far as writing, I’m making slow but continued progress on Charming and actually got some work done on Ashes and Cinders (Book 2 of the Crimson Hawks). I’m hopeful that I’ll have copies out for beta readers soon.
All the best,
I’ve come across a number of authors getting started, and ages ago, I promised some people in the industry that I’d do my best to help promote other authors. So, I’m going to recommend the site of Brad A. White. He’s a fantastic new author who has started writing mythological noir.
That’s right, mythological noir. I didn’t make it up. He’s very good and has a second book that should come out before the end of the year. Here’s a link to his blog: Brad A. White.
While he prefers to work under a pseudonym, I have seen numerous examples of his work over the years in informal channels and if he can find the time to do more writing, I believe he’ll be very successful.
On a slightly related note, I’ve decided to start collecting a mythological Greek miniature army. I’m hoping it will be inspiration for another project. It seems that the Greeks may be coming my way.
In addition to Charming, I’ve been working on the sequel to In the Service of the King. I’m making good progress and looking at a possible Halloween publication. I thought that I’d share a draft of the introduction. Enjoy and thanks for supporting the Hawks! I can also use more reviews and comments. 🙂
For as long as anyone can remember, the Kingdoms of Valinar and Khargoth have struggled along their border, at times raiding one another, and at other times, engaging in all-out war. The balance of power shifted from one side to the other over the centuries, but neither side had ever secured a lasting advantage.
Valinar was known for its Orders of Knighthood, dedicated men who swore themselves to their order, willing to prove themselves against all odds, and competing with the other Orders to prove their skill at arms. The skill of their armorers and blacksmiths was, if not legend, certainly praised throughout the known world, and most men say that only the mighty elephants of the Southern and Eastern Lands are more dangerous than their great warhorses, the Valinar Destriers. Even their regular footman, sworn to the defense of their regent, were known to fight with courage and determination against all foes, perhaps due to a desire to prove themselves worthy to share the field with the knightly Orders.
Their foes from Khargoth were known as a mysterious people from the far North clinging to ancient ways from a time before civilization. Tales abound of witch-queens, cannibalism, human sacrifice, necromancy, demon worship and the like among the people of Khargoth, though certainly many of these stories are exaggerated.
The conflicts between Valinar and Khargoth historically occurred in one of two ways. First, there were the Valinar Crusades. A member of the clergy or the nobility would whip the country of Valinar into a frenzy of outrage at their twisted and evil neighbors and the Orders of Knighthood would all pledge to outdo one another in purging Khargoth from the world. The armies of Valinar would venture into dread Khargoth, liberating anyone they could find, which would be only a scattered few as the people of Khargoth tended to flee into the hills when they found out a crusade was coming. A great battle would take place at some point and win or lose, the crusade would suffer losses. Then, winter would come to Khargoth and take its toll, convincing the proud crusaders to return to the warmth of their homes.
Then there were the Khargoth invasions. Waves of barbarian warriors would surge out of Khargoth into Valinar, wearing only furs and tattoos as armor, with wooden spears and oversized axes as weapons. Exhorted by chanting priests in black robes, these hordes would destroy all in their wake through brute force, not sparing women, children or livestock. Sometimes, warlords in crude metal armor might lead them, other times, scantily clad heavily tattooed women believed to have dark powers. Inevitably, these hordes would be met on the field of battle by the determined defenders of Valinar and the Orders of Knighthood. A great battle would take place which would shatter the horde, and defeated, the scattered survivors of Khargoth would flee back to their homeland.
And so it was for years upon years until the Great Battle of the Ice River. Khargoth had raised an invasion force and had made a crossing during the relatively hot summer after the floods from the spring melts had subsided. They had destroyed a small hamlet near the river and moved perhaps ten miles in the direction of the fertile heartland of Valinar, when they were met on the field by Prince Kaspar and the resplendent flower of Valinarian knighthood.
The battle took place across a set of rolling fields, where the summer crops were doomed to be trampled no matter the outcome. Kaspar, with his golden mane of hair and gleaming armor, shouted encouragement to his fellow knights, all of whom enthusiastically desired to prove their mettle and earn glory for their families against the hordes of Khargoth. For such battles are the nobles of Valinar born and their great destriers bred. No battle line had ever survived a charge by the knights of Valinar, and today would be no different.
The hordes were a shambling mess, holding their weapons crookedly and awkwardly, limping and stumbling forward. They had not waited for a battle cry or a command to charge; they merely poured out of the large number of tents at the Khargoth encampment and surged forward. A few of them fell to their knees in the field and did not move.
The knights did not notice the odd behavior or that the men and women in this horde were smaller than the barbarian invaders from the stories of their youth. They did not question that there was no roar of a battle cry. The strange black tents placed evenly at the edge of the Khargoth camp, conspicuous from their color and because no warriors staggered from them, drew little attention. No, the knights and their leader, Prince Kaspar, were focused on victory. Pointing his sword, Kaspar shouted the command to charge, and the knights moved as one.
The ground shook with every hoofbeat and some of the enemy tried to turn and flee. Still others collapsed. A few half-naked warriors armed with battle-axes could be seen in the Khargoth encampment, each one appearing more formidable than any of the masses in the field, but they held back and waited. Even if they had taken the field, the results would have been the same – gory carnage for the glory of Valinar.
Only the weight of the bodies slowed the knights. Not a single member of the horde put up a fight as they were smashed by steel-shod hooves or skewered at lance point. Still, the charge lost momentum, and finally, the clouds of imagined glory cleared from the minds of the knights.
According to the survivors, it was Prince Kaspar who first noticed what had happened.
He looked down on his crushed foe and saw that she was slightly plump and had a stick tied to her arm. Her features were those of a Valinarian commoner, and though her clothes were filthy and she had a fur on her shoulders, her clothes marked her as Valinarian as well. After the initial shock of his observation, he dismounted to examine the corpse more closely and saw that her tongue was missing.
They had slain their own people.
“Stop!” he shouted. “They are our people. It’s a trick!”
The perfect battle line of charging knights had become a disorganized mass of horrified men. A few tore off their helms in dismay and disgust. Some dismounted to try and aid the trampled people.
Loud shrieking whistles pierced the air, causing even some of the battle-trained horses to rear. With a creaking and humming, the black tents opened as blasts of steam rent the air. What stepped forth were constructs, mechanical creations, vaguely in the shape of men, towering over knights and men as if they were giants. They raised their heavy iron arms and sprayed fire over the hosts of knighthood.
Men melted along with their armor, and the finest steeds in the world burned. The ground shook as the machines marched forward, some swinging massive maces, crushing everything they struck. Others screeched and lurched forward, simply crushing anything that found itself underfoot.
For the first time in recorded history, the knights of Valinar panicked. Several fell from their steeds to be trampled by their comrades who tried to flee. More gouts of flame consumed those who tried to fight. One of the constructs swung a chain with a blade attached with enough speed to eviscerate whatever it touched.
Prince Kaspar stood his ground bravely, though his horse had long fled, as one of the constructs loomed over him. He shouted, “For Valinar!” and charged, before a metal arm crushed him.
The flower of knighthood was no more.
When King Denis of Valinar was informed of the crushing defeat and the death of his son, his heir, the court fell silent. Age had fallen heavily on the king in the last few years since the queen had passed, and all knew that he had considered stepping aside for his son. Now, in the twilight of his reign, he faced a catastrophe as great as any that had fallen upon Valinar.
After several moments, the King spoke.
“Can anyone tell me where my daughter is?”
There was a collective set of uncomfortable shuffling and gasps. The king had not spoken of his disinherited disgrace of a daughter in years. Some believe that his separation from her had driven the queen to despair and ultimately, to her death.
One of his advisors, Boris, stepped forward. He took a deep bow. “Your Royal Majesty, as per your directions, we have kept men watching her through her travels. She spends most of her time in a merchant city at a tavern.”
“What? She has fallen to serving drinks?” he said, somewhat astonished.
“No, sire, it is the headquarters of a mercenary company.”
“She’s a mercenary?” the king said, seemingly to himself. He nodded. “We will need men to defend Valinar from these diabolic creations of Khargoth, but… she will not come.” He sighed.
“I’m certain that if her company were contracted that she would come. The captain of her mercenary company can be persuasive, I’m told, and I’m also informed that your daughter is very close to him.”
More silence spread across the court. A dark look fell over King Denis’ face.
“What is the name of this captain who is close to my daughter?”
My apologies for not writing over the Labor Day weekend. I hope everyone had a good time, especially the folks at DragonCon in Atlanta, GA. I haven’t been in too many years, but perhaps I can arrange things for next year.
In the meantime, I’ve gone through a major change in my life. I left the company where I’ve held a day job for the last seven years and set out on a new chapter in my career. The new place is working out well as I go through orientation and the people there are great. However, I want to give a shout out to all the people at my old company for a wonderful going away party.
I have rarely felt as appreciated as I did during the going away happy hour that my friends held. Everyone, co-workers in my current department (IT), friends from my former department (Concierge) and everyone else from across the business, including several former co-workers who came out made me feel fantastic. I want to give a special shout out to a lady named Mary who organized the affair. Thank you all!
The finale came the next day when I left the building for the last time. One of my co-workers, a gentleman, scholar and renaissance man named Bruce Frostick surprised me with music when I drove away. I always imagined leaving a job with something like I’m Already Gone by the Eagles playing. Well, Bruce is a master of the accordion, and so I walked away with the sounds of the accordion playing. Here’s his website.
Truth really can be stranger than fiction.
All the best,