Monthly Archives: July 2011

Arman’s Home

Arman’s home country is the most powerful in Upper Nola. Here’s a few facts to get you started…

Name: Gyrden

Location: West coast of Upper Nola.

Role in The Quest: As mentioned above, Gyrden’s the most powerful country in Upper Nola. Most soldiers. Most resources. Most people. They are the one country that every other country around them looks to for trade and protection. From the moment Menemaeus reveals himself to one of Gyrden’s citizens (Arman), Gyrden becomes a central power in the alliance against the Nameless One.

Chief Industries: Grain, mining, and shipping.


Government: Monarchy

Ruler: King Romthir II

Values: Courage, loyalty, and industry

Banner: A silver eagle, with two silver swords behind it, over a blue background

History: Shortly before the last attack of the Nameless One, there were petty kingdoms scattered all over this territory. Things boiled into a civil war. So much blood was spilt, and so many crops ruined, that a peace agreement was made. All the petty kingdoms banded into one: Gyrden.

There was still enough tension that this might not have lasted. Then the Nameless One showed up. The king of Gyrden rose to the occaison, and kept not only his own people intact, but all the other people around. He had all the countries around him swear a Vow of Unity. Together, they fought brilliantly against the hordes of the Nameless One.

When Menemaeus defeated the Nameless One, the Vow lived on in spirit. There was age of peace and prosperity, largely thanks to the wise descendents of Gyrden’s first king.

When a great famine struck the land, and a terrible warlock named Dharvor appeared, the harmony among nations began to falter. When the royal family of Gyrden was slaughtered by Dharvor’s minions, the power vacuum nearly tore Gyrden apart. When Dharvor was defeated at last, other wars began for lands and resources.

Things have changed for the better when you meet Arman at the start of The Kingdom Trilogy. Gyrden survived the famine by coming up with better ways to farm. Not only did they regain their former prosperity, but they eclisped it. The new kings made peace a priority. Other nations who wanted to learn new ways to farm had to stop fighting first. Thus Gyrden rose again as the primary power and peacemaker in Upper Nola.

And then the Nameless One comes back.

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The Saturday Review: “If You Go Into The Woods”

I know. Usually this is the Friday Review. However, I am typing this on a Saturday. I ran around at the Montana State Fair, spent more money than was good for me, and returned at midnight to collapse on my bed.

Back to business.

“If You Go Into The Woods” is a duo of short stories written by David Gaughran. He blogs about indie publishing when he’s not writing stories like these. The first story is “If You Go Into The Woods”. There’s also “The Reset Button”, but let’s start in chronological order.

“If You Go Into the Woods” is short and packed with suspense. David Gaughran proved with his sci-fi short “Transfection” that he is a master of character and pacing, and he proves it again here. From the moment we meet Jiri Beranek, we want very badly to know more about him.

When he decides to explore the dark forest that has terrified him for the longest time, my heart rate went up. As he explores more and more, he finds something that kept me glued to my iPhone. It’s almost haunting. I can see it in my head as I type this. Gaughran kept amazing suspense.

And when he comes to his climax, he unleashes a surprise that completely blind-sided me. I guarantee you will not be able to predict it. It didn’t resolve the problems that Gaughran revealed at the start of the story, which makes me wonder why he put them at all, but it was surprisingly thought-provoking. I was shocked to realize that “If You Go Into The Woods” could be well-interpreted as a metaphor for the allure of advertising in the modern world.

That may or not be true, but what I know for sure is that at the end of that story, I uncontrollably started to read the next one: “The Reset Button”.

Once again, I got sucked into the protaginist from page one. Linus Ericksson is a sullen middle-aged man who cheated on his wife, and lost his happy suburban home in the divorce settlement. By the time he curses his coffee for over-boiling, you know you have a vibrant character on your hands. Linus demands your disgust and your sympathy.

The ending is another shocker, if a little easier to see coming. But that won’t spoil anything. Gaughran brings his settings to life with glee. Linus’ apartments, the bars, his ex’s house… he goes place, and we go along with him and see everything vibrantly. There’s an element of magic here that grow stronger and stronger, but it is never quite as memorable as watching Linus stroll and scowl at his world.

Are they too short? Yes… well… maybe not. It is their brevity that lends power to the narrative, though I wish I could have more time with Jiri and Linus. Will they captivate you? Absolutely. Are they worth the dollar you’ll be paying for their stories? No question about it.

Get them on Smashwords or Amazon if you believe me.

The Monday Muse: Contest Update… And Clint Eastwood

If you missed yesterday’s announcement, the deadline for the Monday Muse Contest have been extended. You now have until August 2nd to enter!

If you’re new here, and feeling shy, I’ll tell you how it works…

– Come up with a new name for the Monday Muse feature. Every week I post music and a quote in order to inspire writers and anyone else who needs a creative boost. I can’t keep using the Monday Muse because it turns out someone already got that name first. You come up with something brilliant and catchy to replace it.

– Comment below with your brilliant and catchy new title. Or post it on Twitter with the hashtag #greatestcontestintheworld

– Tell everybody in the world about this contest

– Check back here on August 1. That’s a week from now. I’ll pick the winner then.

– The winner gets a shout-out he/she will never forget.

– The winner also gets a PDF of an exclusive excerpt from The Kingdom: The Quest, never before released.

Come on. You know you want to do it. Eventually, you’re going to give in and think of something. I can hear your imagination roaring to life. Go for it!

In the meantime, I’m still posting songs and quotes to stoke your creativity. As if you need any help.

SONG OF THE WEEK…

“The Switch and The Spur” by the Raconteurs

Warning: if you press play, this song is going to shove itself into your head and haunt you for weeks to come. The music is catchy and chilling. The songwriting, even more so. “Any poor souls who trespass against us / Whether it be beast or man…”

“Theme Song” from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Yes. I’m writing an epic fantasy. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find inspiration from western soundtracks. Especially this one. A raw, pulsing, piercing piece of music that will make you squint like Clint Eastwood for the rest of the day.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK…

“You see, in this world, there are two kinds of people, my friend. Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.”

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Surprise Character #2

If you missed the last post, I’m debuting two new characters from The Kingdom: The Quest. One of them’s from another country. You get to learn more about that country next, week, as well as the one that Arman’s from.

By the way, there might be a map going up on this site in the near future. More on that when I announce the winners for the greatest contest in the world. The deadline has been extended to August 1. What are you sitting there for? Bashful or something? Go enter for a chance to win an exclusive excerpt from The Quest, and an unforgettable shout out. And spread the word!

Now to business. This girl also doesn’t appear much. In fact, she’s only in one chapter. She knows it too, and she keeps herself quite busy…

Name: Eathea, daughter of Fulhun

Looks: Blonde and full of smiles. She’s quite beautiful.

Hobbies: Chatting up powerful nobles in her home country, and getting what she wants from her powerful uncle

Loves: Power over other people, and the power to gratify her desires

Hates: Not having that power

Special Weakness: She’s headstrong and will get away with whatever she can to achieve her plots

Most Dangerous Moment in The Quest: One night, she makes a move for political and personal power, a move that puts both her and Arman in grave danger.

Theme Song: “Misery Business” by Paramore

Memorable Quote: “I know many of the men you spoke to at the council. There are things that they would tell you, if Halath did not keep you away from them with all his feasting and games. Will you come with me?”

Surprise Character #1

I didn’t tell you who I was going to feature today, did I? No. I didn’t. I love leaving people in suspense like that.

Well, you’re not just getting one surprise. You’re getting three. I am introducing two new characters from The Kingdom: The Quest today, and the first female characters I have introduced.

The first one is the girl that Arman loves, and the girl he must leave behind to follow his quest. You won’t see too much of her in The Quest, but she makes the most of the time she has.

Name: Lelana, daughter of Aallen

Looks: She’s a willowy girl. Auburn hair. Mysterious grey eyes that always hide behind an impenetrable mist.

Hobbies: Spending time with Arman, 

Loves: Arman. Being alone and reflecting about things. 

Hates: Being separated from what she loves.

Special Weakness: She is always the wisest people Arman knows except when it comes to protecting what she loves.

Most Dangerous Moment in The Quest: Only a few chapters in, she’s nearly killed by an unexpected attacker.

Theme Song: “In My Arms” by Plumb

Memorable Quote: “I cried yesterday. And I hid myself in your arms, and those of my father. But it does not mean I bowed. Don’t think you need to carry me like this. That you need to hold back your tears. It’s not good for you. Let them flow.”

The Friday Review: Telephone 6

When I told Marc Barnes on Facebook that I had read and enjoyed his first short story, he told me that he hated it. In fact, he promised a better one in the future.

If he hates this, I can’t wait to see what he calls a better one.

Telephone 6 creates an unforgettable character in the first few paragraphs. She’s a 911 operator, the voice that answers the nightly cries for help. Which is funny, because she’s something of a cry for help in herself. She’s pale, frail and stares at her red fingernails. She keeps a device to play sounds of the ocean while she answers her calls. We never learn her name, but we don’t have to. I can picture her far more clearly than dozens of named, boring characters I’ve read in my life.

Even before she gets one call in particular, she’s a nervous wreck. When she receives that one call, she makes a sudden and bold decision that flips her night upside-down.

I won’t tell you what it is. Suspense is better when you’re not told the details beforehand. It would have been cliche, if our operator didn’t do what she does.

What I will tell you is that watching her doing is worth all 100 pennies that you pay for this short story.

That’s not to say it’s perfect. It ends like a Hallmark movie, and the writing can be a little too artsy. Marc has a bunch of sentences that cry out for shortening, and several paragraphs that I longed to split in two.

But through the sheer force of that 911 operator, I can forgive that. You should too. Telephone 6 is far from from perfect, but it deserves your dollar. It’s suspenseful, it leaves a mark, and it heralds a storytelling talent that I want to keep an eye on.

What are you waiting for? Go get it at Smashwords!

A Long-Expected Shout-Out

There are a great deal of thanks I have to deal out, so brace yourself. If you don’t follow any of these people, prepare to be amazed. I’ve interacted with them all in one way or another, and they deserve your attention in a way you can’t possibly fathom.

Thea AtkinsonShe’s written some blog posts that you need to read. Now.

Jenann Elias. Steampunk aficiando. All-around great person. If you don’t follow her on Twitter, you’re missing out.

Lyn Midnight. Of all the things that drew me to her blog, it was a review of Bridesmaids. It was an amazing review. Virtually every post that comes out is amazing. Not to mention Rya’s Story.

Jason McKinney. When he’s not tweeting his pure genius, he’s writing the sequel to his werewolves-vs.-humans war story set in Iraq. Read his blog now.

Michael R. Hicks. He offers his first novel for free. I started reading it earlier this week. If you don’t know what a Kreelan is before you start reading the In Her Name series… you will by the time you’re done (warning: not for the faint of heart).

Richard Raley. Not only does he subscribe to this blog, but he wrote an awesome post about Darth Vader.

Russel Blake. Please don’t take a word he says seriously. For the most part.

Dymtry Karpov and Kimberly Kinrade. Most dangerous writing duo I have ever seen. Read at your caution. By the way, Kimberly runs a second blog that features an exclusive cover of The Kingdom: The Quest that you can’t find anywhere else.

Still standing? Good. Take a deep breath, and relax yourself. You deserve it.

What’s more, you deserve a never-before-released excerpt of The Kingdom: The Quest. How would you like the chance to read it before anybody else?