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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Interview with Benedict Patrick

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

SPFBO Finalist: Black Stone Heart by Michael R. Fletcher review

Official Author Website

Order Black Stone Heart over HERE (USA) & HERE (UK)
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Smoke and Stone
Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen (reviewed by Caitlin Grieve)

Order the book HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR WEBSITE: Essa Hansen grew up in beautifully wild areas of California, from the coastal foothills to the Sierra Nevada mountains around Yosemite, before migrating north to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. She has ranched bison and sheep, trained horses, practiced Japanese swordsmanship, and is a licensed falconer. She attended the Vancouver Film School and works as a sound designer for SF and fantasy feature films. Essa lives with her British Shorthair cat Soki in the San Francisco Bay Area.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: When a young man’s planet is destroyed, he sets out on a single-minded quest for revenge across the galaxy in Nophek Gloss, the first book in this epic space opera trilogy debut — perfect for fans of Revenger and Children of Time.

Caiden’s planet is destroyed. His family gone. And, his only hope for survival is a crew of misfit aliens and a mysterious ship that seems to have a soul and a universe of its own. Together they will show him that the universe is much bigger, much more advanced, and much more mysterious than Caiden had ever imagined. But the universe hides dangers as well, and soon Caiden has his own plans.

He vows to do anything it takes to get revenge on the slavers who murdered his people and took away his home. To destroy their regime, he must infiltrate and dismantle them from the inside, or die trying.

FORMAT/INFO: Nophek Gloss was published on November 17th, 2020 by Orbit Books. It is 448 pages split over 50 chapters. It is told in third person from Caiden's point of view solely. It is available in paperback and ebook formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS Caiden has spent his whole life being a simple mechanic doing a simple job, with no plans for anything bigger. But when his entire settlement is killed, Caiden is forced to flee for his life. After literally stumbling onto a spaceship, he discovers his planet is only one of thousands in the multiverse. Adopted by an eclectic crew, Caiden adjusts to this vast new life, but is driven by a singular goal: revenge on the group who killed his family. He will have to leverage new technology, questionable alliances, and a rare ship with a unique power if he’s going to accomplish his goal, but what cost will prove too high for his revenge? 

Nophek Gloss is an absolutely mesmerizing piece of world-building. After a harrowing opening, the reader joins Caiden in being nearly overwhelmed with new aliens, ships, alliances, locations, and more. The sheer size of the worlds the author creates isn’t an onslaught, but a deep pool you are thrown into, and it is a delight to get your bearings. I absolutely loved being in a setting that was completely foreign to me, getting to know the rules and the aliens and everything in between. 

Readers will need to throw their original conception of the multiverse out the door. Here, multiverse doesn’t mean “parallel universe” as it has come to be defined in popular culture. Instead, it means that there are other, self-contained universes outside the main one that have their own physics, biomes, etc., not all of which are suitable for all species, and crossing between universes can be a dangerous or even lethal situation. Caiden falls in with a group of explorers called passagers, those who chart regions and exchange the knowledge back home for money and resources. 

The first half of Nophek Gloss I absolutely devoured. With its devastating opening and imaginative worlds, I kept wanting to see more and more of these universes. The back half of the book didn’t click quite as well for me, ironically because it was so fast paced. The first half of the book revels in introducing the reader to the world, spending all of its time on just a few days, so when events started moving in the back half, it felt oddly rushed. It frequently felt like a problem was introduced one chapter and resolved by the next one, with no chance for the tension to simmer and breathe. Combined with Caiden, who spends most of the book (deservedly) being an angry, impulsive character, and I felt myself falling off a bit. 

That said, this is still a fantastic adventure and worth a read for those who love big sci-fi worlds. There are plenty of emotional moments scattered throughout the rushing action, and one theme of “found or forced” with regards to friendships absolutely tugged at my heartstrings as Caiden struggled with feelings of isolation in this giant galaxy. For a 400 page book, Nophek Gloss is a book that moves incredibly well, and sets up tantalizing new adventures in future books.

Monday, November 16, 2020

SPFBO: Interview with Michael R. Fletcher

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

COVER REVEAL DEUX: Thorn Of The Night Blossoms by J.C. Kang

I have found that one of the benefits of self-publishing is total control over pricing and marketing. It’s one aspect which deters some aspiring authors, while at the same time being a challenge which many experienced hands embrace.

For me, it’s been a humbling learning experience. When a book fails to gain traction, an objective postmortem can reveal a lot. Furthermore, self-publishing allows for second—and in the case of my Thorn of the Night Blossoms, a third chance.

Here’s the original cover and blurb:

For an imperial assassin, assignment as a courtesan in the Floating World seems like a waste of her talents... until killers target her clan sisters.

In the legendary Floating World, wars are waged with wit, the strongest soldier can be bound with threads of silk, and flesh is the currency by which life, death, and freedom can all be purchased.

Half-elf Jie doesn’t mind her temporary assignment as a Night Blossom in the most sought-after house. It’s perfect cover for her real work as an assassin in the emperor’s service, and keeps her close to one who matters most. Her life belongs to her clan, but her heart lies with clan junior, Lilian.

Lilian’s talents trade stealth for sensuality, poison for poetry. With looks as sharp as any blade, she can coax information from any man, and still leave him paying for the pleasure. She’s enthralled many a noble, none more important than the warlord who can calm a brewing insurrection. Only her sweet whispers can secure his obedience to the throne.

But now, his increasing abuse has Jie seeking a new assignment for Lilian—even if it means their separation. When killers target clan sisters, and the seeds of rebellion find fertile soil in the Floating World, Jie must choose between loyalty and love.


While my regular readers snapped it up, sales fell far short of previous releases.

I considered:

1.      The idea of a male author writing F/F relationships in a courtesan setting might turn a lot of people off.  Jury is still out on this.

2.      Blurb is too wordy. Usually, I try to keep my blurbs to under 200 words; but I loved this blurb, which my awesome author buddy JC Nelson came up with. His idea, and one which I agreed with, was that it captures the vibrancy of the aristocratic red light district setting. I felt it could help ameliorate the possible skeeviness engendered by (1).

3.      The story sucks. For the most part, it’s been getting 4 and 5 stars from book bloggers. Also, the read-through rate from Book 1 to Book 2 is higher than any of my other books. So, it can’t be that bad?

4.      The story is too short.  At 27k words, or about 150 pages, readers don’t want to drop through

5.      The cover doesn’t draw the eye… and specifically, the right eye.  When analyzing advertising statistics, this was the clear: I was getting one click for every 1,000 impressions on Amazon Ads, one click for every 120 impressions on Facebook.  For my other books, it’s 1/350 on Amazon, 1/30 on Facebook.


So, take 2.  I kept the same blurb, while commissioning a new cover.

Ad clicks went WAY up.  However, I was smacking myself in the head for what you can all see here. The clicks AND sales were coming from Harem readers. These are generally younger males looking for self-insertion narratives. Indeed, Facebook ad analysis showed clicks were coming from males 18-25. Nothing wrong with that, and a sale is a sale, right? There are some authors making a bank off this audience.

The problem is, we’re pretty certain Amazon monitors how fast and far people read a book, and that factors into their recommendation engine algorithm. Thorn of the Night Blossoms would not appeal to Harem readers. The wrong reader means bad reviews and possibly bad recommendations.

Because of this, I panned in with the cover art to show less skin.

It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was a temporary fix as I went to my illustrator for yet a third cover.

In the meantime, I thought about who my stories’ most enthusiastic audience is.

My reader group mostly has women in their late twenties to early forties, who have been drawn to the stories by resilient female characters. Many found me through the Dragon Songs Saga box: 

Then, I looked at the books they click on in my newsletters:

I see a trend!

Sadly, no woman wears armor in Thorn of the Night Blossom—it’s a rogue story: Ninjas meet Kushiel’s Dart.

Thankfully, there was another book that is in these books’ Also Boughts:

With this in mind, I went to my artist with this image:

He came back with this sketch:

His first color sketch:

I was concerned with the bright pastel colors would give it the wrong vibe, and too much cleavage showing might make it look like a romance. I shared it on the Facebook group, Indie Cover Project with the general question, “What genre do you think this is?”

I was getting the answers I was looking for: Asian-themed fantasy, though I got some choice comments.

My artist’s follow-up got the darker tones, but yet to cover cleavage.  I mocked it up with typography, with one close up like Phil Tucker’s Chronicles of the Black Gate which would bring out the details and cover exposed flesh.

I went to both a secret cabal of Fantasy authors, and also to a Facebook Group with authors who write books like Oath Taker and Daughter of the Shades.

The eminent May Sage came back with the best advice: the exposed cleavage will turn off certain readers in my target audience.

My artist was already late, so when he sent me the final version, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Because at Amazon image size, I knew people wouldn’t notice my amateur photoshop adjustments.

Without further ado, here is the Brand New, Hopefully Last Cover of Thorn of the Night Blossoms:

Friday, November 6, 2020

The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Order The Preserve over HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Ariel S. Winter was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Shamus Award, and the Macavity Award for his novel The Twenty-Year Death. He is also the author of the children’s picture book One of a Kind, illustrated by David Hitch, and the blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie. He lives in Baltimore.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Decimated by plague, the human population is now a minority. Robots—complex AIs almost indistinguishable from humans—are the ruling majority. Nine months ago, in a controversial move, the robot government opened a series of preserves, designated areas where humans can choose to live without robot interference. Now the preserves face their first challenge: someone has been murdered.

Chief of Police Jesse Laughton on the SoCar Preserve is assigned to the case. He fears the factions that were opposed to the preserves will use the crime as evidence that the new system does not work. As he digs for information, robots in the outside world start turning up dead from bad drug-like programs that may have originated on SoCar land. And when Laughton learns his murder victim was a hacker who wrote drug-programs, it appears that the two cases might be linked. Soon, it’s clear that the entire preserve system is in danger of collapsing. Laughton’s former partner, a robot named Kir, arrives to assist on the case, and they soon uncover shocking secrets revealing that life on the preserve is not as peaceful as its human residents claim. But in order to protect humanity’s new way of life, Laughton must solve this murder before it’s too late.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter is one of those big concept Sci-Fi thrillers that by its very existence calls to mind, those amazing stories by Michael Crichton. Ariel’s most recent story scores very, very highly in its innovative approach and I couldn’t wait to jump into the story brimming with high anticipation.

In a world where humankind has been wiped out due to an unnamed plague, the remnants of mankind are ruled by robotic AIs. Humanity has been slowly petering along but the robotic overlords have been supporting humanity and trying to make sure that humanity doesn’t die out. The main protagonist of the story is Police chief Jesse Laughton who while living in Baltimore became a highly sought after human detective. For his famed insight and ability to read human emotions, a task that his robot/cyborg allies were hard pressed about. His partner is Kir, a cyborg who’s closely allied with him and enjoys a bond as close as possible with Laughton.

The basic premise of the story is set in a humans-only preserve in South Carolina which is called SoCar preserve.  Mankind has been given an opportunity to try to live without its AI overlords and things are dicey as it is. When the worst calamity occurs, a murder of a black marketer which inflames tensions between humans who want to live under their own and AIs who don’t trust the humans and of course want them to be under their thumbs. That’s where the story really just takes off and we the readers are thrown right into this crazy, sordid mix.

Right off the bat, I have to say the premise of the story is its biggest selling point and the author gives a riveting plot. The characterization especially the human and the non-human kind is also very strong considering how the story is focused through Laughton and Kir’s eyes. These are the strongest parts of the story. The main plot however is a murder mystery and plays out solidly like one. The book isn’t a big one being about 250-odd pages, however it does a lot of stuff within those 250-odd pages and ends on a climatic note. 

The underlying themes of the story are some of the basic ones that one has come to read or view:
- What makes us human
- What does it mean to be “alive”
- Are carbon and silicon really that far apart on a molecular level
- Are humankind doomed to repeat the mistakes of their past
-      Does the future of mankind become better with AI’s involved in the decision making

This and many such thought provoking questions are very much streamlined into the plot and character arcs. I have to laud the author for being able to give us so pack so much themes and heavy morality in such a thin book.  The pace of the book is also on quicker side and there’s very little sections in which it drags.

Overall for me this story was a very enjoyable one with its scenario and how the murder mystery unfolded. But what prevents it from being as good as the Michael Crichton ones is that the world building is a bit scant. We are told about this premise and shown the world but very little gets explained as to how it all came to be. As a worldbuilding junkie, that was a sore point for me. I’m willing to go along for the ride but I do need to be shown that this scenario isn’t just window dressing. This is where the story could have been developed further at the risk of adding more pages and perhaps slowing down the pace as well. The ending was a bit predictable and a non-gloomy one (which in the year 2020 is very much appreciated). I think that there’s more to this world and the author can definitely develop a series here and thus deepen the world and characters within. Also on a side note, I believe this book is ripe for a limited TV series adaptation as that medium will be able to add the worldbuilding depth as well as add more characters to the overall story. 

CONCLUSION: The Preserve as a SF story gets high points for its brilliant concept. As a murder mystery and with the protagonist duo, it’s a bit more predictable and doesn’t do too much of the ordinary. Is it worth your time, I would yes most certainly. At a slim 250 pages, this SF thriller is one of the better thrillers I’ve read and certainly makes me want to read more of Ariel S. Winter’s future works.
Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Scarlet Odysssey by C.T. Rwizi Review

Official Author Website
Order Scarlet Odyssey over HERE
Monday, November 2, 2020

Exclusive Cover Reveal and Interview: Dragon Mage by M. L. Spencer (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Today we have the exquisite pleasure of hosting of a cover reveal from one of the most talented authors in the grimdark field. She's been one of the most hardworking people that I know of and she now will be venturing into the EPIC side of things. Hence we are beyond exhilarated to present the cover for M. L. Spencer's upcoming epic fantasy DRAGON MAGE. She also spoke about a few things about this new standalone story of hers and so without further ado...

Q] Hi Melinda welcome and thank you for this lovely opportunity to host this cover reveal. How have you been in these troubled times?

MLS: I’ve been well, Mihir. My family has been taking COVID seriously, so we’ve been pretty safe. I’m a science teacher, and I’ve been doing distance learning, which has been challenging but overall has turned out better than I had expected it to.

Q] To start with, could you tell us what inspired you to be a writer in the first place, and why you choose to go the self-published route? Anything else you’d like to share about yourself and your past?

MLS: I always wanted to write fantasy. Like, always. I started off writing little books in the 3rd grade and completed my first novella in middle school, winning the county Writing Celebration. Then I just kept going, writing my first novel in college. It was always my dream to become a fantasy author, to the disgust of all my creative writing professors who thought fantasy as a genre was pretty worthless. I wrote Darkmage back in 2004 and shopped it around to agents, but I only got one bite from someone who wanted to break it in half, and I didn’t want to do that. 

Looking back on it, I should have. It was a grimdark book kind of ahead of, or at least at the start of, the whole grimdark subgenre, so it probably would have done well. But I just stuck it in my closet and forgot about it until 2011, when I decided to self-publish it.  Of course, I knew nothing about marketing or self-publishing back then, so it just languished on Amazon for years until I finally re-released it in 2017.

Q] I loved the cover for DRAGON MAGE. It hearkens back to the classic epic fantasy covers. What were your pointers for your artist when you were starting out? What were the main things that you wished to focus on in it?

MLS: I really wanted to write a classic epic fantasy—the kind I used to love back in the 80’s—and I wanted a cover that really broadcast that. I did a lot of cover surfing on Amazon until I had a composite of a few covers that I thought were the direction I wanted to go in. I handed those to my artist Tum Dechakamphu as examples, and he really exceeded my wildest expectations.  I also have to give a shout-out to Shawn T. King for giving the cover that 80’s kind of look with the border and typography.  It really hearkens back to Dragonlance and other 80’s fantasy novels that I adored.

Q] Could you tell us about the inception of DRAGON MAGE & the world within and what was/were your main inspiration(s) for it?

MLS: I wanted to write a book in which the main character falls on the autism spectrum—kind of to show the world the potential strengths of being neuro-atypical. I never knew I was “on the spectrum” until I was an adult. I led a pretty difficult childhood and was very socially isolated, and I just never understood why. It was very painful. When I found out that I have what we used to call Asperger’s, basically high-functioning autism, it was like a great lightbulb turned on—an epiphany—that explained all the great mysteries of me

But seriously. I would never trade it for anything, because along with giving me some rocky terrain to overcome, being neuro-atypical has also been what I consider my greatest strength. It gives me an obsessive focus that allows me to tackle projects single-mindedly, way past the point where I think most people would throw in the towel. When I wrote Dragon Mage, I wanted to create a character who could demonstrate that being on the spectrum doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, and it can even be a great strength. 

Q] Is this story set in the same world of your previous series or is it a new one?

MLS: Nope. It’s an entirely new world, one I have been worldbuilding for literally years. 

Q] Will DRAGON MAGE be heralding the start of a new series for you or is it a standalone story?

MLS: Right now, it’s a standalone. It’s an enormous book and it took everything I had out of me to write it. I really didn’t want to commit myself to a series unless it sees some success. I know that sounds cheesy, but there it is. If I do decide to expand it into a series, it won’t be contrived, as I left my character room to grow. But it doesn’t have to go anywhere. It’s entirely self-contained.

Q] Let’s talk about the world that you are creating for this saga. It seems to be a bit medieval in origin but that would seem too simplistic. Can you talk to us about the world that DRAGON MAGE is set in? What are curiosities (geographical, mystical, etc.) of this world?

MLS: I had this idea for a split world—one in which the world of magic has been separated from the world of men. So, a little background: during a war between the gods, the world of Dragon Mage was cleaved into two reflections of itself: the World Above and the World Below. Most things magical ended up in the World Below, including dragons and most people with magical ability. In the World Above, those with magic have been hunted pretty much to extinction. I wanted the world of men to be hyper-realistic, and the world of magic to be very fantastical, so I started doing my research, reading tons of anthropology books. I really threw my all into the worldbuilding. 

The World Above is actually a collection of cultures that are mostly under the domination of the Abadian Empire, which exercises a pretty stifling colonialist control over the territories it has conquered. The book starts off in a Northern European setting, then moves southward to a more Middle Eastern/Mediterranean setting (actually modeled after Moorish Spain). The cultures of the World Below are constructed, and most of the characters are non-white.

Q] So for someone who hasn't read any of your novels, how would you describe the type of stories that you write, what would be your pitch for DRAGON MAGE?

MLS: The books I’ve written up to this point have been pretty grimdark, so I am definitely veering away from that into epic, or even high fantasy. Dragon Mage is more of a Coming of Age novel. I really felt the need to get out of grimdark. Honestly, it was kind of getting me down.

A one-line pitch for Dragon MageA misfit boy must save the world of magic from the world of men.

Q] So what can readers expect from this book and what should they be looking forward to, according to you?

MLS: Readers can expect a very compelling main character with a huge heart and a ton of courage. The book is very character-driven and far more about the bonds of friendship than about good versus evil. It’s a pretty big book—265,000 words—but it’s very fast-paced with a lot of twists and turns you probably won’t see coming. And dragons. 

Definitely dragons!

Q] In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?

MLS: I just hope people who read this get a better understanding of what it’s like to experience the world as someone who is neuro-atypical and get a better appreciation for those who are. Aram’s experiences are basically my own; I really channeled myself into him. Not that my experiences represent everyone on the spectrum, but hey. They’re what I know. ☺


Official Book Blurb: Aram Raythe has the power to challenge the gods. Too bad he doesn't know it.

Aram thinks he’s nothing but a misfit from a small fishing village in a dark corner of the world. As far as Aram knows, he has nothing and less, with hardly a possession to his name other than a desire to make friends and be accepted by those around him, which is something he’s never known.

But Aram is more. Much, much more.

Unknown to him, Aram bears within him a gift so old and rare that many people would kill him for it, and there are others who would twist him to use for their own sinister purposes. These magics are so potent that, when they are recognized, Aram finds himself granted a place at an academy for warrior mages training to earn themselves the greatest place of honor among the armies of men: dragon riders.

Aram will have to fight for respect by becoming not just a dragon rider, but a Champion, the caliber of mage that hasn’t existed in the world for hundreds of years. And the land needs a Champion. Because when a dark god out of ancient myth arises to threaten the world of magic, it is Aram the world will turn to in its hour of need.

NOTE: Author picture courtesy of the author herself. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

SPFBO 2020 (Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off) finalists and our approach

As avid fantasy readers, we love discovering new voices and hidden gemsSPFBO contest gives us such a possibility and we’re thrilled to participate in it for the sixth time. The first stage of the contest has just ended.
Friday, October 30, 2020

GUEST POST: The Judge by Jesse Teller

Jesse Teller is mentally disabled. He suffers from PTSD from an abusive childhood. He is bipolar, suffers from daily to hourly hallucinations, and has DID (multiple personality disorder).

He has been a member of the self-published fantasy community for four and a half years now, has published fourteen books, with plans to publish countless more.

Jesse Teller is not a sane man. He has been declared mentally unfit and is a certified madman. This blog series is a glimpse into the way he sees a small handful of his peers and a look into his own mind. This is an excerpt from the third volume of his autobiography yet to be published.

The Judge

She came into my life during the SPFBO contest. I have entered it two times, this year will be three. The blogger has Legends of the Exiles now. I have no idea what she thinks of it. She might love it. Might hate it.

Legends of the Exiles was the book that was never meant to be. See, there is a huge aggressive movement right now against men writing women. A lot of male writers have a big problem writing women. It is obvious from what they write. And those who are rabid about this topic are lumping all men into that group. The idea is that no men write female characters correctly. That idea is ludicrous. But when you are a male writer and someone says this and corrals you in with misogynistic writers you have to prove them wrong. I felt like I needed to defend myself. The only way I know how to do that is with my writing.

There was a bigger reason for the book’s creation of course. I loved the characters. The book is a collection of four novellas that all cross over each other. These four women had either not been touched on or had barely been touched on in the seven-book epic series they belonged in. They had been side characters. Other female characters had been more important to the story at large. So I desperately wanted to know the story of these four women.

I wrote Exiles as a cool down book after finishing the first act. After the attack on my sanity that The Great Hall gave me, I needed a fun book to write. This did not end up being fun.

Exiles dealt with issues women have to deal with every day. Sexual assault, dick pics, molestation, patriarchal society ruling over their freedoms. The intelligence of women being down played. The sacrifices a woman is forced to make for her family. All of these things and more are discussed and serve as themes for Legends of the Exiles. Every woman who has read it but one thought it was brilliant. Every man had issues with it. So, I call it a win.

I only mention Exiles when I talk about The Judge because she is a strong female and a bastion of women writers of fantasy. She is also a source of hope to me and a source of judgment. She is inspirational in her power and devastating in her ability.

I met The Judge through my wife’s reading of her book. She liked what she read and told me that this was one of “us.”

Us is the word I use for the writers who take their work very seriously. The ones who put money and time into the creation of the product they put out, and The Judge is that.

Her covers are amazing. Her books perfect quality. They are edited, beta read, edited again, read and reread to get them just right, because The Judge has been working on this project for a long time.

When she was young she started creating the world that she writes in. It took her decades to get the first book finished. See life gets in the way. It always does. Kids, work, marriage, schooling. Everything in your life will get in the way of your writing. Plus there is The Wall that you hit.

It happens at about page eighty for me. I am excited about the book and talking about it all the time. I have been waiting to write it for years and when I finally get to start it and leap head first into it, I am so psyched. But at around page eighty it becomes work. I am not as excited. I am far from finished, far from my trophy, far from any sort of accomplishment, and it becomes a chore to write for a long time. The words don’t come, the scenes seem to stretch on forever, and no matter how good a scene you have written you know there are still so many more to go.

The epic books I write have over eighty scenes. Over sixty chapters. There comes a point where I feel they will never be finished. But I have the time, I have the support. I have been given all the tools, and if I need more, I can always find them. I have every advantage. No job. Big slabs of time during the day.

The Judge had none of these things. So, chapter after chapter, page after page, over decades of time she pounded out this book. It never left her. She thought of it constantly. And she had to watch it bubble and hiss in her mind as she did the other things life expected of her and she ached for the time to pound it out.

Races and magic systems. Fantasy with a sci-fi element. More and more, the book showed her over the years, and more and more she waited and chipped away at that first book. She kept writing and she kept waiting and dreaming of the day she would finish it.

But no matter how many years she worked on it; she never gave up. She kept slicing and building, shaping and forming until she had her first novel done. She called it Blade of Amber. It was how she wanted it. It was ready. Now was the time to start the second.

But as she looked at the first and what she had done with it she was not happy. She did not like the final product.

This is where a writer will either pull the book and stuff it in a trunk or just let it fizzle out and become forgettable. This is where a writer pulls their book and slinks off. They give up. Every one of them does. Their writing career was a failed experiment. It is over.

But The Judge would not give up. The Judge does not know how to quit. She does not know how to drop the project she has been working on for so long. So she rewrote it. Reworked it. Jerked out everything she didn’t like about it, and when she had it perfect she rereleased it under the name A Wizard’s Forge.

More years of waiting and aching to get back to the keyboard as the next book boiled and hissed.

She wrote the second book in the series, A Wizard’s Lot and put that out too. Soon after its release she decided she wasn’t happy with it. So again she pulled it. She worked on it for years. Rewriting. Betas. Rewriting. Editors. Rewriting. More Betas. And after many years had gone by, she had a new book for a waiting world.

But this is not the end of the Woern Saga. So back at it. Chipping. Never given enough time to pound it out. She is working on it every chance she gets. Keeping her focus. Keeping her dream alive. Getting it out to beta readers. Fighting through their comments. Rewriting, polishing again, out to the editor, rewriting. The job never ends and The Judge never quits.

Encouraged by the reviews she is getting, encouraged by the things people say about her books, and more shaping and chopping. No one I have ever met has worked harder on a series. No one I have ever met has wanted it more.

A few lines here. A chapter there before life pulls her away again. The anticipation of the next writing session sits on her chest. The chores that need to be done to put out a great product never ending. And yet she loves her story so much, and she is so dedicated that she pushes it on. She works through days of compliments and encouragement. She works through days of silence when no one talks about her work. Nothing curves her love of her world and her character. Nothing dulls the need she feels to get the book out, the series finished. More when she can. She is the never-ending wave that slowly eats away the shore. She is the constant drip of water that cuts through the mountain.

The Judge does not stop. The Judge does not know how to stop. And my respect for her is higher than anyone else in the game. Anyone else in the community of self-published writers. Because there are so many things I cannot count on in my life. My mood, my alters, my bipolar, my hallucinations. So many things are wavering and inconstant. I have a few people to hold on to. And when I begin to lose my footing, I know that The Woern Saga will be finished.

It’s an odd thing to be encouraged by. But when your career starts off as slow as mine has, and you wrote for twelve years without any kind of recognition, then things like the constant of this sort of determination bring you peace and strength.

The Judge does not know that there are times when I feel the need to walk away. And she does not know how frustrated I get when the readers pass by my book. And she does not know that the reason I have not lost hope is because A Wizard’s Forge is out there. And after so many years of work the rewrite of the second book, now called A Wizard’s Sacrifice had broken free. Book two is out again. So much better and so much stronger than ever before.

That is all I need to know sometimes to come back to this board at page eighty-four. And keep typing.

Author Bio: Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to understanding the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues.

 We  are thrilled to be part of the #BardsAndScribes blog tour and you can read the previous stops over here:

31st October - The Lunatic over at Weatherwax Report

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