Happy Christmahannukwanzadan! I think that covers everybody …

ef04f779cd7f475526a590fe1593b047This may be a tired subject to some people, but I really need to vent. We are getting to the point that there is no holiday season, it’s just three months of continuous holidays! Every year, it gets to be earlier and earlier and its driving me crazy. There’s even a definition for it.

Christmahannukwanzadan is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “a combination of the main holiday terms; Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, and Ramadan. To be used in this age of correctness where people may be offended by wishing one person a seasonal greeting but leaving another person out, thereby offending their race or creed.” Really? There is now a definition for this condition and it’s getting worse each and every year.

I saw the first signs of Fall in JULY when our local Wal-Mart starting putting out Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer. Then came the Fall decorations and the Halloween candy and costumes in Costco in AUGUST. Now, this past weekend, right next to said Halloween costumes and decorations, there are Christmas trees and lights being put on display … in SEPTEMBER!

I know that, for some people, Christmas is a mindset that lasts all year long. I married one of those fanatics so I know what I’m talking about. I spend my year watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music on a regular basis, so I’m immune to these dastardly effects, and please, don’t think I’m a “Grinch” either.

Call me old fashion, but I remember a time when there were three distinct holidays. October was the start of Fall and then Halloween. The day after Halloween, you started planning for Thanksgiving, parades, and football, and then into Christmas. You didn’t decorate your house until mid-December. I mean, look at some of the classic movies like “A Christmas Story” or “Miracle on 34th Street” or “The Waltons Homecoming” and you’ll see what it was like.

To paraphrase a line from the classic “Miracle on 34th Street,” there’s a lot of “isms” out there and commercialism is the worst. I mean, just look at what we eat and drink. Everything is pumpkin flavored this time of year, from coffee and beer to donuts and pasta. It’s out of control! I’ve even already started seeing ads for the “Countdown to Christmas” on the Hallmark Channel.

132452_1693116215144_6008395_o-1Look, I love the holidays. I am a master of lights and displays this time of year and I love to show it off, but can we please concentrate on one holiday at a time so we can enjoy the fun of each and everyone. You lose some of that holiday spirit when you run things together like this, then you skip over the true meanings that they bring to all of us. So let’s try to enjoy this holiday season without having everything run together to where it ruins those special days. Happy Christmahannukwanzadan to everyone!


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

The story behind the legend of Avalon — An excerpt from the Forever Avalon series

avalon-12I know I’ve talked about what inspired me to write the Forever Avalon series, but inspiration is one thing … Creating the legend of a new realm of magic is another. I know I could have created my own world—like Middle Earth, Azeroth, the Four Lands or Westeros—but I was trying to set my stories based partially in our world, using the myths and legends I grew up with. That’s why I chose Avalon. It is somewhere that people have heard of before, yet since there are no specific accounts about it in detail, so I could make it into the world I wanted it to be.

I want to tell you my story of Avalon and the best way to do that is to go back to the beginning. Here is an excerpt from Forever Avalon. I hope this will help to explain my idea for the island of Avalon and how it exists in our world today. Then, maybe, you’ll continue the journey through The Dark Tides: Book Two of the Forever Avalon series and The Outlander War, the next installment coming soon.


Bryan walked over to the fireplace, tossing in a few logs to stoke the fire. “Tell me,” he started, “what do you know about King Arthur?”

Both Stephanie and the children were confused by his question. “What?” she asked.

Bryan turned around and sat on a tall stool by the fireplace, continuing to smoke his pipe. “King Arthur. You know, the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin the Magician, quest for the Holy Grail …
etc., etc.”

She was completely lost by what he was saying to her. Bryan saw the confusion, taking his pipe and tapping it against his hand so the ashes fell into the fire, as he began to tell his tale.

“No matter what you may have read in books or what movie Hollywood made, King Arthur was real … The stories are true. He united all of Britain into one kingdom, through the power of his sword, Excalibur, and that of his trusted advisor, Merlin the Magician.

“And like the stories say, he was fatally wounded by his illegitimate son, Mordred, at the Battle of Camlann where he eventually died. Merlin knew that with Arthur’s death, the age of magic would come to an end and he could not allow that.

“The legend tells of the last of Arthur’s knights, Sir Percival, throwing Excalibur back to the Lady of the Lake as Arthur was carried out to sea to the island of Avalon. That part of the story is only partially true.

“Arthur was taken to Avalon, but not as the legends described. In reality, Merlin combined his power with that of Excalibur to purge man’s world of all magic. He created a kind of mystical wormhole—for lack of a better term—sucking everything magical into it and bringing
it here to Avalon.”

Stephanie stared at him in disbelief. “Avalon? We’re on the Avalon?”

“Yes, this is the magical island where all things of legend and myth now exist. Elves, Dwarves, unicorns and dragons as well as trolls, goblins, ogres and other assorted dark creatures. Merlin brought them all to Avalon, beginning a new age of magic here.

“You see, the laws of science don’t exist here, only the laws of magic. Cell phones, computers, automobiles—nothing mechanical or electrical like that can function in Avalon. Over the years, people have tried to make machines work, but they could never do it. The best inventions to hit these shores that actually work were gunpowder and indoor plumbing.”

The kids laughed, but Stephanie was still struggling to comprehend what Bryan was telling them. “That’s why practically everyone on Avalon can use some kind of magic,” he added.

“Is that how you were able to make the sand and water turn into dragons?” Rose asked her father.

“Yes, exactly. I’m known as a DragonMage. I can cast spells that are elemental in nature, like dragons. You know—earth, fire, water, and air,” he said as he held up his pendant and showed it to them.

Stephanie saw the subject was getting off track. “So, how big is this island and why isn’t it on any maps?”

“It’s roughly the size of Texas, give or take a few miles,” he explained. “You see, Avalon exists outside the normal plane of existence, in another dimension. It’s cloaked from the real world by a magical barrier.”

“But if it exists in another dimension, how did we get here?”

Hunter asked. Bryan moved over to the table, sat down across from his family and poured himself a cup of tea. “Over the years, the barrier protecting this island has weakened.

“Over the years, the barrier protecting this island has weakened. The wizard’s council theorized that storms in the Atlantic caused instability in the barrier, allowing people and objects to pass through. Something else they’ll probably chalk up to global warming I suppose,” he said as he took a sip of tea. “Anyone who passes through the barrier ends up on the southern beaches of the island, where I found you.”

They all stared at him in silence and disbelief. “Well, why do you think they call it the Bermuda Triangle?” he exclaimed. “Planes, boats and people have been disappearing for years—usually in bad weather—and they all ended up here on Avalon. The ones who survive either adjust to living in a medieval society or end up as a slave or dead.”

“So what’s your story? How did you adjust?” Stephanie asked somewhat sarcastically, using her fingers as quotation marks to emphasize her words. Bryan sensed the tension in her voice, realizing that the truth was hard for her to accept.

“Actually, my story begins back at the beginning of Avalon,” he told her, leaning back in his chair and filling his pipe again. “You see, when Merlin cast his spell, some humans came along with him and all the magical beings to Avalon. Among them were Sir Percival and Queen Guinevere. Together, they organized the people to build a new home. We call it New Camelot.

“No sooner did they finish when they were attacked. The forces of darkness, led by the sorceress Morgana le Fay, wanted to destroy Guinevere and enslave the humans, so she gathered together goblins, trolls and other evil creatures who would side with her.

“Fortunately, the Elves of Alfheimer came to the human’s aid and formed an alliance with New Camelot. They united under the banner of the Pendragon, but they needed someone to lead them into battle. That someone was Sir Percival.”

“Did he take up Excalibur and become the new king?” Rose asked.

“Not exactly,” Bryan explained, “Excalibur was shattered by Merlin’s spell. Merlin knew that New Camelot was united under Queen Guinevere; so they didn’t need a king, but they needed a champion.

“With the help of the Dwarves of the Gilded Halls, the shattered pieces of Excalibur were forged into two weapons—Twilight and Dusk, the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon,” Bryan proclaimed as he put his pipe down on the table, stood up and drew the two swords from their hilts showing them to his family. “These swords would be used to defend all of Avalon against evil, tyranny, and corruption.”

He held out the gold sword, letting them see it up close. “Twilight is the sharpest blade ever made; it can cut through anything. The magical light that shines from this blade will pierce any darkness.”

Bryan then held out the black blade. “This is Dusk, blackened by the darkness that sickened King Arthur because of Morgana and Mordred. It’s a soulless void that sucks the life out of my enemies. These swords represent the balance between order and chaos,” Bryan concluded as he sheathed the swords and sat back down.

“To distinguish himself as a champion and not a king, Percival changed his name. He called himself the Gil-Gamesh, a name he had heard during his quest for the Holy Grail. It was the name of a hero in ancient Persia and now it was the name of the champion of Avalon.

“For thousands of years, the descendants of Percival have taken up the mantle of the Gil-Gamesh, defending the people of Avalon from generation to generation.”

“What a minute,” Ashley said, “That guy Biscuit called you Gil- Gamesh.”

“That’s right,” Bryan answered. “I am the 37th Gil-Gamesh.”

“But that’s not possible,” Stephanie inquired. “How can you be a descendant of Percival? You’re from our world, not Avalon.”

“Well, it seems that before the Battle of Camlann, Percival became deathly ill and was taken in by a widowed farmer and his daughter somewhere in southern Wales,” Bryan explained. “The woman nursed Percival back to health and fell in love with him, even though he was
devoted to both God and to his King.

“Percival got better and left the farm, but not before the young maiden took something from him, probably when he was asleep. His journals talk about a night when his dreams were filled carnal lust for this young farm girl, which is why he decided to leave as soon as he was well enough.”

“She had sex with him while he slept?” Stephanie asked.

“Ew-w-w, gross!” Hunter remarked.

“So it would seem,” Bryan said, sipping his tea. “As a result, Percival’s descendants remained in the outside world. I am a direct descendant of Sir Percival Peredyr. It is that genetic makeup that allows me to wield the swords.”

“I don’t follow you,” Ashley inquired.

“Well, you see, since Percival and his descendants have been the only ones ever to wield Twilight and Dusk, the swords have become attuned to Percival and his descendants—sort of like a magical DNA link.

“Over 500 years ago, the 36th Gil-Gamesh, Ethan Peredyr, was assassinated along with his entire family. The realm was thrown into utter chaos. With no one to defend the realm, dark forces raised havoc across the land.

“However, in that dark time came a prophecy … A descendant of Percival would come from the outside world to take up the mantle of the Gil-Gamesh. So the lighthouse and this house were built,” Bryan said, motioning to the surroundings, “and when anyone came through the barrier, the Outlander was tested to see if he was the descendant the prophecy spoke of.”

“Tested?” Stephanie asked, “How?”

“Only a true heir of Percival can wield the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon. Anyone else touching the swords is consumed by their power. Many died during that time until I came through. Call it fate or destiny—I am the heir of Percival and it is my duty to serve Avalon
as the Gil-Gamesh.”


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Sexy vampires, super zombies and nice demons? What has happened to the fantasy genre?

I know this blog post may get on some people’s nerves, so haters be warned before you read any further. I just feel a desperate need to address this topic. Countdown to troll hatred in 3, 2, 1 …

What the Hell has happened to the fantasy genre? I remember a time when vampires, demons, witches, and warlocks were evil creatures bent on the domination of mankind and must be destroyed or contained. Nowadays, it seems like these creatures of the night are sexy, desirable and something we all aspire too.

draculaI mean, I grew up when Hammer films were the mainstay of horror. Christopher Lee was the best Dracula ever, period, and made the prince of darkness something to be feared. New, according to movies like Dracula Untold, he was a father, husband, and a great leader, admired by his people who took on the curse of vampirism to save his people. It made him out to be sympathetic, not terrifying. That’s not the Dracula of legend, nor is it the one portrayed by Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee.

It’s as if society, as a whole, wants to make evil desirable. I truly believe this shows the moral decay as a whole. Evil is no longer something to be destroyed outright. It’s something we want to change, to help through compromise not killing.

TV shows like Once Upon a Time and Lucifer want us to believe that it’s not the villain’s fault for being evil, it’s just that they had a bad day or a miscarriage of justice happen to them that caused them to turn evil. Really? Tell that to the victims of Ted Bundy, Adolph Hitler, or ISIS.

darth-vader-in-the-empire-strikes-back-jpgThis is why, in my opinion, that Star Wars gets it right. There is a true distinction between good and evil, the light and dark side of the force. Yes, they did make Darth Vader sympathetic and brought him back from the dark side, but he only turned through the machinations of a truly evil villain in the Emperor. Manipulation is one thing, but when you show truly evil characters (like the devil himself in Lucifer) to be good guys, that’s where I draw the line.

I mean, Vader himself shows no heart, no compassion until the very end, and it cost him his life. Kylo Ren is the exact opposite. He wanted to rid himself of any good inside of him and killing his father (spoiler alert, Han Solo) was how he accomplished that. He is now beyond redemption. That is the definition of a true villain.

Making evil sexy is the media’s way of tamping down the morals of society. We no longer aspire to be heavenly, angelic or good hearted people. Bad is the new good. Being bad is sexy, no matter who you step on or kill to get there. There are so many examples on TV and in the movies that make this point for me, they’re too numerous to mention.

Yes, there are also many examples that stick to the philosophy of good vs. evil in the classic sense. These are mostly those from the superhero genre, like The Flash, Arrow, Agents of Shield, and Supergirl. However, even Marvel steps into the dark side with their Netflix series Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, but again, their villains are not sympathetic nor appealing (i.e. Kingpin and Kilgrave).

This is why there are no good villains in the Forever Avalon series. I show a distinct division between good and evil. Good is good and bad is bad, no gray lines here. Evil is not something to be desired or wanted, it can only be destroyed. There is no distinction as necessary as this today. I’m not trying to get political here, but we would be better people, a better society if we purge that evil and hatred from our lives, starting with our media.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

You need to be a juggler, a priest and a wizard to be an independent author

pr-professionals-jugglingI have been writing professionally for more than 33 years and, as an independent author, for seven. I have learned more about being a writer these past seven years than the previous 26. You learn so much more when it’s not just a simple essay or press release you’re writing. Writing a novel tends to reveal part of your soul, so it takes a lot more out of you.

In performing this juggling act, you need to have a quick mind, very thick skin, the keen intellect of a sage and the stamina of Atlas to keep up with all you must accomplish just ti get a book published. It’s something that every writer has experienced at some point in their career.

J.K. Rowling said, “Writing doesn’t always get easier. In fact, it can be more difficult for successful writers.” I have yet to achieve her level of success, so I can’t speak on that directly, but I can say it’s even tougher when you’re just starting out. You need the patience of Job as you wait to hear back from the publishers or literary agents you submitted your manuscript too. Add to that the financial stress from your dwindling bank account after paying for editing, publishing, and marketing as you wait patiently for royalties to come in.

American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay said, “A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down. If it is a good book nothing can hurt him. If it is a bad book nothing can help him.”

That sentiment is true, especially for the independent author. When I self-published my first book, Forever Avalon, I sent out copies provided by the publisher to family and friends. In return, I got a two-page list of spelling and grammatical errors I missed from my mother. That was my pants down moment and it opened my eyes.

As most authors can attest, we bare our souls when we write. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose, writers care deeply how people react to reading their work. Author Elizabeth Clements said, “It can be depressing when no one takes interest, and a lack of response makes the writer question why they’re writing at all. To have one’s writing rejected is like you, yourself, are being rejected.”

If I’ve learned anything it’s that you can’t take it personally when someone gives you a bad review, rejects your manuscript submission or doesn’t like you work. That’s the one thing that’s great about the human race. We’re all different and we all have our own opinions and the right to express those opinions how we see fit. That is the mark of a free society. That’s also what makes writers so important.

There are millions of writers and millions of books being published every year, and though that makes it hard for independent authors to get recognized, we are doing our part to tell the story of humanity. Writers have recorded the good, the bad and the indifferent of the world since man put chisel to stone and pen to paper. That collective history will be around for countless generations to read and learn.

Just being a part of that makes me proud to be a writer and gives me the courage to continue, even when my sales are down and my bank account empty. I still want to write.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.