I wanted to be Carl Kolchak when I grew up

Being a writer is something I really didn’t aspire too until later in life, but I look back and can see what inspired me to take it up. As I stated in other blogs, I wanted to be a comic book artist growing up, but when I focused only on art, I missed the writing I did in high school. That’s when I decided to join the Navy and become a Journalist, but the inspiration began earlier than that.

My wife and I were watching The Homecoming TV movie this past weekend. She was in the mood for something “Christmas-ee” so we decided to watch it. For those who may not remember it, The Homecoming was the TV movie that introduced us to The Waltons. I watched John Boy talk about wanting to be a writer, saying that he just wanted to write down what he saw that day because, “until he did, it didn’t really happen to him.”

Then it hit me. I remembered those words and, deep down, realized how much it resonated with me as a boy. Then I got to thinking, what else inspired me to be a writer?

at typewriter

Darren McGavin (1922-2006) as Carl Kolchak

The first thing that immediately came to mind was the classic TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker. It was a TV series from 1974-1975 starring Darren McGavin (the grumpy Dad from A Christmas Story) as a reporter who investigated unusual, out of the ordinary and the supernatural (i.e. vampires, werewolves and witches) If anything inspired me to be a writer, it was Carl Kolchak. He was passionate about getting the story, even though it probably would never be published or get him killed, and he do whatever it took to stop the creature from doing any harm. He was fighting the supernatural before Supernatural or Grimm.

I idolized him growing up. I even remember writing a rough draft for a sequel where he was the editor of the INS (Independent News Service) and he discovered a son he never knew he had. The son has taken up where his Dad left off, investigating strange and supernatural events. The twist was his son used modern technology to fight the evil creatures his father decided to stop pursuing.

Another inspiration for me was the Lou Grant TV series. Ed Asner went from the comedic role in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and became a newspaper city editor in this drama series from 1977-1982. I remembered Lou Grant for his comedic wit and short temper. Watching him go from a TV station manager to newspaper editor was inspiring as the character evolved in this new role. The drive and determination he instilled into his reporters was exciting.

Today, virtually anyone can be a writer with a blog or self-published book. The technology of today has given inspiration to many to take up writing, either as a second job or even just a hobby. It was nice to look back and remember what made me a writer. It’s even better that I can relive the old days thanks to Netflix.

Writers are some of the worst serial killers (in literature)

evil-personifiedWhat does evil look like? That’s a question that has dogged people for centuries. When you look back through history, images of Vlad the Impaler, Adolph Hitler, Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden come to mind. Then again, so does Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahlmer and Jim Jones.

I’m in no way saying I’m an expert on evil, but as a writer, you have to be able to dip into the darkness once in a while. How can you create a villain for your story without knowing the evil that lurks inside?

For most of us, evil falls back to the representation of the incarnation of evil … the Devil, Satan, Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, etc. Some writers try to make him sexy, human-like, attractive and appealing. I could never think of the devil that way.

I was raised a Southern Baptist, so I was taught that evil began with Satan; from his rebellion against God, to the temptation in the Garden of Eden and the first murder by Cain.

Evil, to me, is the absence of morals; a complete incapacity to see the difference between right and wrong with a total lack of remorse. When I watch news reports of James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people in the movie theater, I see the face of evil. They’re trying to call him insane, but I believe insanity is just the mind of a killer justifying their actions. It’s evil, pure and simple.

I can admit how uneasy I feel when I’m writing scenes that involve such acts of evil. In the wedding scene of my latest book The Dark Tides (caution, spoilers!) when Morgana Le Fay returns to Avalon, she and her compatriots kill many friends of the Gil-Gamesh. I cried as I wrote this chapter of my book. It was hard to write but a necessary part of the story.

I could never imagine doing something like that and here I was, writing about it as if I caused it to happen. To have that kind of emotional impact on me demonstrates just how writers are capable of tapping into the heart of evil.

Authors can be, at times, the worst serial killers in history. I’m sure Game of Thrones fans feel that way about George R.R. Martin. We must tap into that evil without succumbing to it ourselves.
I always thought the best portrayal of evil was done by Al Pacino in three very different roles. As Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Tony Montana in Scarface and as the Devil himself in The Devil’s Advocate. You looked in his eyes and knew there was a man in there but it terrified you none the less.

We can demonstrate the evil in man, in society, in what we write; but when you do that, there always has to be hope. Hope is the saving grace for the writer. Hope means that evil can be overcome, it can be conquered. Evil may win the battle, but hope means they will lose the war.

The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

Game of Thrones began the upward spiral of medieval fantasy today – My 50th blog post!


This is my 50th blog post since I started writing it over six months ago. I can’t think of a better topic than my favorite subject to write about, medieval fantasy!

You have to admit that since Game of Thrones became so popular on television, there has been a gradual uptick of medieval-styled shows appearing on virtually every cable channel. As a fantasy writer and longtime Dungeons and Dragons geek, I have no problem with this. The more the merrier I say; but what I’m afraid of is it turning into the same old, blasé, run of the mill television.

There have been great diversity in storylines, using fairy tales (Once Upon a Time, Grimm) to historical renditions (Vikings, Tudors, Reign) to all out fantasy from GoT and Merlin to the upcoming Shannara Chronicles .

These shows have made superstars out of great actors and actresses like Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Colin Morgan and Ginnifer Goodwin to name a few. Almost all of these shows have multiple nominations across the board in acting, writing, best series, etc., in everything from BAFTA, Emmy to Golden Globes.

The trend is even building on Broadway where Wicked and Spamalot have garnered cult-like followings. Movies, YouTube fan films, graphic novels … I could go on and on. As I said, it has been building to this.

This growing trend is beneficial to me and others like me, who are inspired by flights of fancy in the realm of magic. As a writer, this is a blessing that could lead my novels (Forever Avalon, The Dark Tides) to maybe, one day find its way to  the airwaves; but it’s not something that will happen overnight.

As I noted in a previous blog posting, it took over 40 years for someone to finally bring Terry Brooks’ amazing Shannara Chronicles to television, and it looks like it will be worth the wait. The age of CGI and motion-capture, blending actors and actresses into these fantasy worlds so seamlessly, has made virtually anything possible in television and film.

I will be going to a great event coming in October. iUniverse is having self-published authors, like myself, work with producers and writers to develop a two-minute pitch of our novel. The top two selected with be able to pitch their idea to a Hollywood producer and have the chance of thier book being made into a film.

This is really my chance to sell someone on my passion for my story and the characters I have cultivated in my novels. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I can’t wait. I want you to see, flying ships, dragons, the Gil-Gamesh and his family up there, like you do when you read my novels. Wish me luck!

51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ SKU-000941753Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

When part of a story just doesn’t work – A deleted excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

goblins_by_daroz-d5bww72When your writing a story, sometimes it can just get away from you. That’s what happened to me when I wrote my first draft of The Dark Tides. It really got away from me to the tune of 228,000 words. It was way too long and it took me months to edit it down to the still unimaginable 190,000 words.

As a writer, you sometimes state the obvious and sometimes you take really long stating the obvious. Here is a deleted excerpt from The Dark Tides to shed some light on how hard it is to edit what some writers consider their “baby” and don’t want to make another cut.


“Has any human ever been to see the Goblin King?” Bryan asked Eonis.

“No, never; not unless they were dinner,” Dinius quipped. “And I mean the meal, not as guests.”

Bryan gulped and wondered if he’d bitten off more than he can chew. He moved in close behind Ragnar as the other goblins closed ranks around him. They started their march through the dark, dank woods towards Idlehorn Mountain. They walked in silence, not a sound from the goblins or Bryan except for the rustling of the leaves beneath their feet.

After nearly an hour of forced march, they reached the base of Idlehorn Mountain. Bryan looked up at the jagged peak. It was an ominous and imposing sight. No trails or paths could be seen leading up the mountain anywhere. The only thing he could make out was the shape of a castle jutting out of the cliff … Lord Kraven Darkholm’s castle. Eonis said Lord Darkholm lived there to keep the goblins and other dark creatures under foot, or so he told King Gregor as to why he stayed in this God-awful place.

Ragnar walked up to the mountain face. He scratched across the rock with his claws in a strange pattern. Then he banged on the stone wall three times and stepped back. Bryan could feel the earth around him begin to rumble. Suddenly, an opening appeared at the base as the mountain seemed to literally fold in on itself, pulling the rock apart to reveal a cave descending downward.

“This is your last chance to back away … You sure you want to do this?” Ragnar joked.

Bryan nodded his head. “A friend of mine once said, ‘The Chief knows there is a time and place for everything; a time to act and a time to react; a time to speak and a time to be silent; and a time to unite or act alone.’ This is one of those times.”

Ragnar looked confused then decided to ignore it and press on. “As you wish Gil-Gamesh, follow me!”

As the frustrated goblin headed down into the mountain, Bryan’s cockiness faded quickly as he walked in the dark bowels of Idlehorn. Dimly lit by the embers of burnt torches, the cave continued to wind downward. Bryan felt the dank, musty air … The smell of death and decay permeated from the stone. The deeper they went, the worse the smell.

“I’ve smelled septic tanks better than this,” Bryan said, rubbing his gloved hand across his nose, hoping the oiled leather would help mask the awful stench.

The cave began to level off and widen. The stalactites became more prominent in the cave, decorated with the pierced skulls of their enemies. A bright light beckoned them ahead.

“Is it me or is it getting hotter?” Bryan asked himself as he wiped the sweat off his brow.

Bryan thought they must had an enormous fire burning up ahead. As the passage opened into an enormous cavern, the Gil-Gamesh realized that it wasn’t a fire burning … It was something else.

The cavern seemed to encompass the entire center of Idlehorn Mountain. A huge pocket, like a magma dome, underneath the mountain, as lava flowed like water from the walls. It fell and circulated in streams and pools throughout the cave interior. Not only did the lava provide light and warmth for the goblins, it made it easier for them to forge a constant supply of weapons for their massive army. Goblins had nowhere to call home except for the cave itself. They climbed along its walls like spiders in a web, able to move anywhere and everywhere in the cavern. They ate, slept and worked wherever they could find a rock to lean against or a piece of meat to gnaw on.

As Ragnar took them deeper into the voluminous cavern, Bryan got a sense of the social structure of the goblins. It was a society of “survival of the fittest.” The stronger, more powerful goblins bullied the smaller, weaker ones; an inbred form of slave labor. They were forced to carry heavy loads in the belief that it would make them stronger. The intense labor culled out the weaker goblins from the rest. Those that survived either continue their toll as slaves or they volunteered for experiments conducted by goblin warlocks and alchemists as they strived to make a goblin warrior that’s unbeatable. They were a collective, striving for the betterment of the goblins and the defeat of their enemies.

At the heart of the cavern sat a throne of iron and stone. It was a monument to the machine that was the goblin empire. The twisted metal frame and jagged rock reminded all who stood before it of the pain and suffering that is the life of a goblin.

In the throne sits a brute of a beast … The Goblin King P’tah Mnenok. His skin was black and scarred, ripped and torn by battle. His face was long and twisted, yellow eyes pierced out from dark slits. His fangs were so long that they pierced from beneath his lower lip, giving him a constant scowl, even with his mouth closed. On his head sat a crown of braided iron; a cold reminder of his black heart.

Ragnar approached King Mnenok as goblins came down from the around the cavern and surrounded the throne, trapping Bryan. For the first time since he arrived on Avalon, Bryan feared he may not live to see tomorrow.

Ragnar knelt before the King, bowing his head in submission before stepping up to the Goblin King, whispering in his ear. Bryan stepped up as goblins of all shapes and sizes moved in behind the Gil-Gamesh. King Mnenok looked at Bryan, growling under his breath.

“Does the courtesy of Avalon end at Idlehorn Mountain Gil-Gamesh?” he asked, his voice sharp and hollow.

Bryan realized his mistake and acted to rectify it by bowing slightly. “I apologize King Mnenok, but I am unfamiliar with goblin customs, as most humans are,” he explained. “I wager it is a rare sight for a human to be welcome inside Idlehorn Mountain that wasn’t a captive or a meal.”

“It is rare indeed. I must admit, what Ragnar told me of his encounter with you in Blackbriar Forest, I don’t see what all the fuss is about … About you that is, the new Gil-Gamesh.

“I must say, I’m not at all impressed but I do find it rather curious that you even asked to come to Idlehorn Mountain. This is quite a bold move on your part; courageous and yet stupid at the same time.”

The goblins all laughed at the insult the Goblin King levels at the Gil-Gamesh.

“With all due respect King Mnenock, I disagree. Is it stupid to understand your enemy? Knowledge is key to defeating any foe, something that goblins lack or so I’ve been told. Wouldn’t you agree? “

Mnenok snarled as the goblins were quieted. “Give me one good reason why I should not have you flayed alive right where you stand?”

“Gladly,” Bryan said as he reached into his shirt and pulled out the dragon stone Nihala gave him. The stone glowed bright in his hand. Mnenok and the other goblins, repulsed by its glow, cowered in fear.

“This is a dragon stone, given to me by Nihala, Queen of the Dragons. With a single word, I can cause it to explode, killing every goblin in here. A cavern of this size would contain the blast rather nicely. Your entire race would be wiped out in an instant.”

Now fear gripped Mnenok for the first time. He knew how powerful dragon stones were, but he also knew a bluff when he sees it.

“Are you impressed now?” Bryan joked, almost goading Mnenok to attack him.

Mnenok has had enough of his insults. “You would not sacrifice yourself? Avalon needs you to survive.” He raised his hand, ready to give the order to attack, as the goblins howled, raising their weapons to strike.

“You’re right they do need me,” Bryan interjected quickly. “But if I die, taking the entire goblin race with me, Avalon will be a whole lot safer. Surely that is a death worthy of the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon. They will write stories and sing songs of this day for years to come, knowing that the goblins have been wiped off the face of the Avalon forever. The only place people will ever see a goblin again is in story books. You will be remembered only as a thing of myth and legend that never really existed,” Bryan countered, stoic and determined. Mnenok slowly lowered his hand. He knew he wasn’t bluffing now.

Mnenok sat back in his throne and laughed a deep, throaty cackle. The goblins lowered their weapons and retreated away from the Gil-Gamesh. “As I said Gil-Gamesh, bold … Very bold!


 The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

More comic book heroes, less reality housewives on television please!

I have been, for lack of s better term, “geeking” out the past few weeks. Between the new trailer for Season 9 of Doctor Who, Stars Wars Episode VII concept art and behind the scenes video and the announcement Matt Ryan (aka John Constantine) is coming to this season of Arrow has been exciting.

We live in an age when sci-fi/fantasy is more and more prevalent on TV and movies. Some are saying its too much but I say it’s about time.

kampfstern-galactica-poster_articleBack in the 70s/80s, when I was growing up, there wasn’t a huge following for the genre. Sure, we had classic shows like the original Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, the Six Million Dollar Man and Kolchak: The Night Stalker (my personal favorite as that series influenced me to a writer); but along with that we had flops like Manimal, Automan, Spider-man and the incredibly awful Justice League and Captain America TV movies.

CGI and improved make-up and special effects have brought the sci-fi/fantasy genre new life. In this era of reality shows upon reality shows, I love the new line up coming to TV. There are too many shows about rich housewives from New York and LA, rich wives of doctors and basketball players and every Kardashian alive today.

Shows like Arrow, The Flash, Gotham and Grimm have made an impact on television with great characters and equally masterful writing by people who are true geeks. It’s really bring geeks and non-geeks together to support these great shows.

That’s been the trouble with shows in the past. They never stuck to the heart of the story. They just slapped the characters on TV with a few cheesy special effects and called it a day.

Writing is just as important in fantasy/sci-fi shows and movies. Ant-Man and Fantastic Four are two great examples where story matters. Though it took them six years to bring Ant-Man to the silver screen, it was a great combination of humor, action and drama. On the other hand, How someone can royally screw up the “first family of superheroes” THREE times is beyond me.

maxresdefaultThis year, they’re adding Supergirl, DC Legends of Tomorrow and Heroes Reborn into the mix. These are just a few of what’s to come for comic book television, with the Teen Titans coming to TNT down the road and Fox working on an X-Men TV series. Let’s face it, it’s exciting to be a geek right now.

Texting has ruined the English language for this and future generations

People on phones with social media icon chalkboardIf you think about it, acronyms were the precursor for the shortened words we use in text messages today. These are, as I like to think of them, the death of the English language.

I doubt millennials could write a complete sentence without shortening a few words in it. You can’t talk about your BFF who’s SOL 2MORO without OMG ROFLMAO, LOL? But if you think about it, acronyms were just the beginning of these often used words and phrases.

The military is very bad at using acronyms for everything and, though military journalists are taught not to use them, they find their way into anything and everything. Speaking as a “DINFOS Trained Killer” I can honestly say acronyms are overused more often than not.

To give you an example:  When I was on active duty, I worked for the PAO at SACLANT, the NATO HQ in NORVA at NSA Hampton Roads, next to FFSC, SUBFOR, MARFORCOM and JFCOM. (If you can decipher every acronym in that sentence, post in the comments below. First correct answer gets a free ebook of my novel, The Dark Tides.)

Of course, writers are taught to spell it out and not use acronyms, but that still hasn’t changed the new acronyms in texting. Now that texting terms have been added to the dictionary, it makes it even worse.

Can you imagine Shakespeare using texting terminology to write his great plays? “2b? Nt2b? ???” “Romeo, Romeo _ wher4 Rt thou Romeo?”

Though many may dismiss texting terminology as cheat notes for an attention-deficit generation, John Sutherland, a University College London English professor, said “they could act as a useful memory aid.”

I understand the methodology behind that, but to me, texting is dumbing down a generation. English is slowly becoming a language where soliloquies and poems are a thing of the past. Short quips, sarcasm and verbal trolling are the new norm.

Mark Zusak, author of The Book Thief, wrote “The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn’t be any of this.” That speaks volumes about the importance of words in our lives, our culture, our very existence.

I remember as a boy, growing up in the 70s/80s, my parents and teachers telling me that slang was the beginning of the end of the English language. Those words were very prophetic as I look at the slang of today in text messages.

We are becoming a culture of 140 characters or less, losing the history of today’s generation to a megabit of data.

Combat is sometimes easier to visualize than write – An excerpt from “The Dark Tides”

itpickD_01.17624.widea.0Catapults, arrows, swords, axes and magic spells … I have found medieval combat to be one of the most difficult aspects of fantasy writing. Today’s modern warfare is nothing compared to the various sword-wielding maneuvers and medieval combat positions possible during a battle with Knights, wizards and other mythical creatures.

You not only have to study and understand how a sword, axe or other medieval weaponry is used, but you also have to make it exciting and believable for the reader. Here is a sample of such combat from my novel, The Dark Tides, as the Gil-Gamesh and his forces take on an army of Goblins at the Battle of Arkengarth Vale.


“Well done Captain,” Bryan said as he drew Twilight and Dusk . He turned to his assembled men.

“Remember, don’t hesitate for an instant! Your enemy will show you no quarter so give none in return! Cut them down until we are walking on their bodies instead of the muddy ground!”
A battle cry rose up from the men as they dug in, ready to fight. The goblins moved faster along the wall toward them.

“Remember my friends, there’s only farmers and small towns from here to New Camelot! They will be slaughtered by this goblin horde unless we stop them here and now! So let’s show them what it means to be a Knight of Avalon!”

Another cry of grit and determination bellowed from the assembled warriors as the crawling swarm of goblins moved closer toward them. Sarafina bowed her head, evoking a warrior’s prayer she learned at the convent.

“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle. My fortress, my high tower, my deliverer, my shield; and the One in whom I take refuge. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit … Amen.”

“Amen!” they all said in unison as the goblins attacked. The first wave hit the defenses hard, their shrieks and howls cried out as untamed beasts slicing and cutting through the defenders of Avalon.

The Knights and Shield Maidens pushed back, working in tandem to cut through the goblins. Shield Maidens protected their knights with shields in front and either spear or sword to push back while the knights cut a swath through the creatures. The black blood of the goblins stained the muddy the ground as more are brought down, one after the other.

Sarafina protected the Gil-Gamesh while he dispatched the goblins by either slicing through them with Twilight or dispatching their souls with Dusk . As more goblins rushed in, Sir Thomas and the Knights of the Round Table charged in to help the Dragon Guard push back, trying to flank the attacking goblins and cut them off from the rest.

Thomas took position next to Bryan, fighting side-by-side as they have done religiously with Sarafina poised between them. Nevan fought next to his father with Sir Thomas’ Shield Maiden, Isolde, between them. Isolde was one of the oldest Shield Maidens in the service, nearly the same age as Thomas. Her black hair was peppered with a streak of gray under her helm. She could have retired to the Glennish Hills convent years ago, but her lust for battle kept her in the field.

“I hope you’re saving some for me Gil-Gamesh,” Thomas said as he hacked at the goblins with his broad sword.

“I think there’s plenty to go around Thomas,” Bryan joked.

“Less talking, more fighting!” Sarafina yelled at the two men, something she normally wouldn’t do, but in the heat of battle, courtesy went out the window. She pushed back a charging goblin with her shield before stabbing it between the eyes with her long sword; but as many as they killed, more just keep on coming.

As the battle progressed, it almost seemed as if this small force of knights was turning the tide against them. That changed as the howls of wolves cried out from the Vale.

Thomas knew immediately what it was. “Dire Wolves!” he said, sending a chill down the spines of Sarafina and Nevan, for these were the nightmares told to children on Avalon.

Dire Wolves were giant gray wolves that stood nearly five feet tall at the shoulder. Amongst the creatures of Avalon, they were on top of the food chain, predators to all manner of man or beast. It took a special breed of monster to tame Dire Wolves and that honor belonged to Hobgoblins.
Smarter and more cunning than their goblin cousins, Hobgoblins lived in the darkest parts of the forests, finding refuge in dead trees. They learned how to tame the Dire Wolves to help them hunt for food and harass humans. Their evil was only outdone by their savagery on the backs of Dire Wolves.

The Hobgoblins rode the Dire Wolves through the thick brush along the opposite side of the Vale. The Gil-Gamesh thought that was impassable because of the thick, thorny overgrowth that grew there, but the Dire Wolves were quick on their feet, jumping over the thorny bushes toward the frontline defenses.

More than thirty riders charged, cutting down both Knights and Shield Maidens with fang and claw. Over half of the Knights of the Round Table were killed instantly, causing part of the defensive flank to collapse. Bryan raised Twilight into the air.

Lumina Incandesco! ” he chanted, causing his sword to burst with brilliant light. That signaled Captain Godfrey and the Elves to move in to protect their flank. The Elves fired arrows into the Dire Wolves, but it took more than a dozen arrows to bring one down.

One of the Hobgoblins charged straight toward Sir Thomas and Nevan. Isolde stepped up to block the charging beast, shield in one hand and a glaive in the other. She crouched down low as the beast charged then came up under its chin with the point of the glaive, slicing into it from its throat to its snout.

The Dire Wolf fell on its side, trapping the Hobgoblin’s leg under the weight of the creature. Nevan rushed forward and cut down the Hobgoblin with his sword. Isolde pulled her pole arm out of the wolf’s head.

“That’s how you kill a Dire Wolf, Sir Nevan,” she told him. “Those beasties can’t see you if you’re low to the ground and come up from underneath …” Isolde didn’t finish her sentence as she’s run through by a goblin spear, piercing her through the neck. She fell to her knees, clutching her throat before dying.

“Isolde!” Thomas yelled as he lunged at her attacker, slicing him wide open. But that momentary distraction was enough as another Dire Wolf charged in and snapped down on Thomas’ arm, biting it clean off.
Bryan leaped and thrusts Dusk into the beast, taking whatever dark soul that the monster might have had. The Hobgoblin fell off, allowing Sarafina to kill it with one blow.

Nevan rushed to his father’s side, trying to stem the flow of blood with his father’s cloak. “Father please, stay with me!” Nevan pleaded as Thomas clung on to him, but Thomas could barely speak as he hovered in and out of consciousness.

“It’s alright lad, it’s alright … I’ve lived a good life,” Thomas mumbled. “I’ve gotten to see my son grow into a man. That’s more than any father could ask.” Nevan broke down into tears as Bryan and Sarafina tried to protect them from the goblins.

“Sarafina, you and Nevan take Thomas back to the rear …” Bryan ordered. The two lifted Thomas up and carried him off while the Gil-Gamesh pressed on with the battle.

“Come on ladies! What’re you waiting for?” he yelled as they continued to fight. A sudden rush of goblins knocked the Gil-Gamesh down, swarming over him like ants on an anthill. Bryan fought back, swinging aimlessly at the onslaught of monsters, resolute and defiant. He already lost one friend to these monsters; he would not lose another.

As his mind wandered from the battle, the unthinkable happened. A goblin jumped on his back and reached around, stabbing the Gil-Gamesh in the chest right above the clavicle, missing his armor altogether. Bryan was immediately brought down by the goblin horde as they pounced on him.

Captain Godfrey and Eonis could only watch as the Gil-Gamesh fell. They pushed forward to come to his aid but by the time they got there, the goblins started to fall back down the vale, taking the Gil-Gamesh with them. All that was left behind were his swords, Twilight and Dusk , lying over the bodies of hundreds of dead goblins.

“They took him,” Captain Godfrey exclaimed. “This was never about enemies marching on New Camelot. This was about the Gil-Gamesh. They wanted to capture him when he was the most vulnerable.”

“We’ve got to go after them,” Eonis said as he took off down the hill. “We’ve got to save him!”

Captain Godfrey grabbed him before he took a single step. “You’ll be slaughtered down there,” Godfrey said. “They still outnumber us and now, we’re without the Gil-Gamesh.”

Eonis thought for a moment then realized that Captain Godfrey was right. At that moment, Sarafina returned to the front while Nevan tended to Sir Thomas. She ran up and looked around for the Gil-Gamesh but he was nowhere to be seen.

“What happened? Where’s the Gil-Gamesh?” she shouted.

Eonis walked over and placed his hand on her shoulder. “He’s gone Sarafina. The enemy has him.”


 The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

It’s like watching a movie being written, directed and produced in my brain

51130757_Psionic_BowmanI find writing to be very visual, from my point of view. As I’m writing the story, I see it play out like a made-for-TV movie. It helps me work through dialogue and setting the scene as if I was directing a stage play as the performance played out in my head.

I even place some of my favorite actors and actresses in these roles as the story progresses. It’s like having my own private movie theater inside my head, just no popcorn.

That being said, being a visual writer has its good sides and bad. While it helps me see the story, it also hinders me when I get stuck with writer’s block. The scene plays itself out over-and-over again. It reminds me of a scene from the movie Chaplin, where Charlie Chaplin is directing his first wife through a restaurant scene where she has to eat beans again and again through numerous takes. That’s what it feels like when I get writer’s block and it makes it hard to move on.

As writers, we have to set the scene, but in reality, we’re creating an entire world. When you write fiction, whether it’s fantasy, science fiction or another genre, you creating a world different from the one we live in. Sure, there are elements and places similar to the world we live in, but there are some unique aspects to the world created by the writer.

I think a great example of this is when you look at Marvel Comics and DC Comics. Marvel relies on the world we live in today as settings (New York in particular) with a few additional new countries like Latveria and Genosha. DC has created cities that don’t even exist, like Metropolis, Central City and Gotham City, and countries like Khandaq and Bialya.

World building is an essential part of writing. When I started writing Forever Avalon and The Dark Tides, I had to stop myself and actually draw a map of the magical island to ensure my bearings were correct when I was writing about the many different locations all around the island. I never knew that being an author also required navigation skills.

It’s quite daunting creating an entire island from scratch. You have to look at topography, placement of mountains, rivers and forests; and it all has to make sense. Add into that roads, cities, bridges and other assorted plots and you have your own little world.

I feel that I could make a religious anecdote about playing God but I don’t consider it godlike to do something like this. World building in a story is really using one’s imagination for putting together a puzzle. If the pieces don’t fit right, the puzzle is incomplete and makes no sense.

Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

Is writing a skill that is learned or a talent hidden deep inside?

Hand holding a pen over paper.

I read a lot of varying advice on the internet about writing, self-publishing and being an author. To be honest, I’ve been amazed and overwhelmed by the number of independent authors out there. There is an unbelievable amount of incredible writers  just waiting to be discovered.

Writing is a very diverse talent. Some people study all aspects of the English language, sentence structure, verbiage and tense and have trouble putting together a coherent thought. Others, though, never took a single creative writing class and can weave together a story that would astound Shakespeare.

Ernest Hemingway said, “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.” Though it’s hard to argue with one of the greatest writers of our time but, to me, it’s not about the sentence structure and proper grammar but the story. Oh, don’t get me wrong, bad English will take away from any good story. You need to proofread, spell check and edit anything you write. It’s about the storyteller and what they have to say.

It’s incredible to read about J.K. Rowling and how she struggled through writing the Harry Potter series until the book finally took off. Now, she’s one of the richest and, more importantly, most influential authors of our time. That is something to aspire too.

C. J. Cherryh said, “It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.” That is one of the problems with being a self-published author. You don’t always have the resources to edit your work before its published. I remember after Forever Avalon was published, I sent copies of my book to my family. After reading my book, my mother sent me two pages of grammar and spelling errors. It was quite a humbling experience and it made me work harder as a writer.

I love to write. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I remember back to my childhood when I was fascinated with comic books and superheroes. I drew cartoons all the time, sometimes creating my own characters. I was so focused on the art, I never realized the creative side of writing and storytelling that I was delving into.

I was an okay artist but I was narrow-minded, ignoring the creative side that was trying to burst out of me. I realize now that there was more of a writer in there and I just needed to cultivate and groom those talents.

That’s one of the reason I always give credit where credit is due. Dungeons and Dragons fueled my imagination, but it was the U.S. Navy that molded my creative writing through journalism. The education I received from my Navy training at the Defense Information School was top-notch. It gave me the tools I needed to become a self-published, independent author.

In no way am I comparing myself to J.K. Rowling. We all take different journeys to reach our destination. My novels may not become multi-million best sellers, even though that is my ultimate goal; but I am very happy with the work I’m doing. I see the improvement in my writing as I progress from one book to the next.

Somerset Maugham said, “If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write?” That’s true to all of us. We all have to find that inner writer, our own creativity, and pursue it as part of our dream of becoming a successful author.

Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.