The “Magic 7” Fantasy Book Giveaway will set up your winter reading lineup

Looking for a great fantasy read to get you out of your house this winter? You can step into these books and journey to other worlds beyond your imagination. It’s easy!

Presenting “The Magic 7 Fantasy Giveaway” where you could win signed copies of these seven fantasy novels from a group of great independent authors. It’s a simple contest for everyone. Just follow, like, share, and tag two friends on Instagram. Make sure you use the hashtag #themagic7giveaway to get your entry recorded for a chance to win! If you run the gambit with all seven authors, that’s a maximum of seven chances to win! The contest runs December 1-14. The winner will be selected on December 15.

You already know about me ( and The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series. Here’s a look at the authors and the novels in the giveaway:

Blood of the Stallion (The Elder Blade Chronicles Book 1) by [Rhys Snaith]

Blood of the Stallion (The Elder Blade Chronicles, Book 1) by Rhys Snaith — Years of living on the streets and having to fend for himself have made the young thief Yodrick Alton who he is. However, his world is drastically changed when he encounters the notorious pirate Daxon – Captain of the Iron Stallion. Now Yodrick will have to adapt to his new lifestyle while secrets from the past threaten to ruin everything. Lies, deceit and betrayal are all in store for this young pirate, so join him in his quest for the truth and read along as he uncovers the secrets of the Elder Blades. (Instagram @rhyswriting)

Unparalleled by Jenna Hebert — Seventeen-year-old Natalya Wells has one mission-to kill the monsters over the graffiti wall and rescue her best friend, Eve, who is held captive by Ascendants, the rulers of the fourth dimension. A dying land where children become victims of starvation and violence. When the Remnants, evil red-eyed demons, invade the fourth dimension, Natalya is transported to the next world. The fifth dimension is a place where grass shrivels, dies, and regrows all in a matter of seconds. The heat of the sun cannot be felt because the sky is encamped by a mural of glass. Natalya meets Jance, who belongs to a superhuman race called Raidens, warriors who heal with invincible scars. Jance holds a deadly secret about what the scars on his body truly mean, and why his own father is determined to kill him. Eve returns to the fifth dimension and meets Jance’s best friend, Ronan, a boy with no memory of the world he came from before. The three of them bind together to help Natalya become a Raiden. As Natalya endures this grueling transition, she discovers the secrets her friends are hiding, along with the unjust laws and dangerous manipulations that are poisoning this world. After a raging war divides the Raidens against one another, Natalya and her friends must reveal the darkness within themselves and embrace their unique gifts. Natalya’s power may not only shatter the glass world but someone she loves. (Instagram @jhebertbooks)

On The Edge (The Dwelling Hunter Series Book 1) by [MJ Glenn]

On the Edge (The Dwelling Hunter Series, Book 1) by M.J. Glenn — For two years, Ebony Wick has survived alone as an outlaw and highwaywoman in Rundlewood Forest. She doesn’t need people. She only needs to survive. But when Hunter Sparrow breaks into her camp and invites her to join his gang, the Bounty Hunters, she finds herself facing a difficult choice. With a burning desire for revenge against a powerful enemy, Ebony must choose between reason and instinct. But in doing so, she discovers a long-hidden secret that will change her world forever. (Instagram @author_mjglenn)

Bound in Darkness: The Lilith trilogy book 1 by [Kim ten Tusscher, Jos Weijmer]

Bound in Darkness (The Lilith Trilogy, Book 1) by Kim ten Tusscher — Inferno at her breath. War under her wings. With two men whispering mayhem in her ear, which way will she turn the bloody tide? Lilith has only ever lived with anger and destruction. The sole dragon shifter known to humankind, she despises her life as an instrument of terror at the hands of a prophetic sorcerer. Finally fleeing years of abuse, she’s distraught when she’s captured for stealing food and forced to answer to a bitter king for her crimes. Hiding her fiery past from the monarch’s shrewd advisor, Lilith grits her teeth and endures brutal lashings to keep her powers secret. But when her former abductor sends spies to reclaim her and threatens carnage in the name of God, she’ll have to choose for which captor she’s willing to spill more innocent blood… Can the tortured woman escape to freedom before the land beneath her burns? (Instagram @kimtentusscher)

Harpyness is Only Skin Deep (Tales of Arvia Book 1) by [D. H. Willison]

Harpyness is Only Skin Deep (Tales of Arvia, Book 1) by D.H. Willison — On a world where death lurks around every corner, is friendship the strongest survival tool of all? Darin: bored with his paper pusher existence, he accepts a questionable deal for the LARP adventure of a lifetime. A jump through a dimensional portal strands him on the mythical world of Arvia, where everything is gigantic. Except the life-expectancy of newcomers. Rinloh: a mere ten meters tall. Life in the harpy flock has never been easy for her. Determined to become full-fledged at the upcoming human-hunt, nothing is going to stand–or fly–in her way. A chance encounter between these two–what could possibly go wrong? Humans consider consorting with a harpy a capital offense. Harpies consider the human citizens a tasty part of a balanced diet. Yet the two must overcome a most monstrous conspiracy as the citizens of the city begin disappearing, with a list of suspects as big as the inhabitants of Arvia. (Instagram @d.h.willison)

The Battle for Trimera: Book 1 of the Ruling Priestess by Tanya S.M. Kennedy — It takes a heinous crime to gain control of the monsters called grinlo, but all evidence out of Trimera points to exactly that. Following the death of her parents, Pria’s biggest fear is not being able to return home to Trimera to protect her family and people. But being one of the only High Priestesses in Reia, posting her to the position faces strenuous opposition. Under intense scrutiny, Pria returns to her home terrified any misstep will precipitate her removal from the post. When she is reunited with her older brother’s best friend Mian, a childhood of memories resurfaces threatening the image of strength and calm she struggles to project. But when it becomes clear that the rogue magical being controlling the grinlo is also hunting high priestesses, Pria’s desperate fight to save Trimera quickly turns into a struggle for survival. Will Pria be able to save her home and avoid her predecessor’s fate? The Battle for Trimera is the opening installment in the fantasy adventure series of The Ruling Priestess. If you like strong female leads, brave crush-worthy knights, and epic battles, you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s story of one woman’s fight to save her home. Buy The Battle for Trimera and join the fight to save Reia today! (Instagram @tanyasmkennedy)

This is a great holiday gift for any avid reader, the gift of fantasy and adventure! Sign up on Instagram today and enter for a chance to win! Good luck!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

My #NaNoWriMo project is finished, so now what?

I realize this may not qualify as a National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) project, but it was mine. This past year, I wrote a monster of a fantasy novel called The Last Magus. It was 189,000 words… Like I said, a monster. I just writing and writing until I put a pin in it and thought it was done. Boy, was I wrong.

I realized that it was just too big, so I decide I needed to turn one novel into two. That became my #NaNoWriMo project… Taking one gigantic read and cutting into two. This meant finding a good halfway point, a new epilogue for the first novel to help transition to the new second book, then a new prologue to keep readers in tuned to the storyline and introduce the second novel. Plus, fill in where needed to make them each make sense as two books instead of one. It was a lot to contend with.

So now, my work is finally complete. Instead of one 189,000 word monster, I have one novel at 110,000 words and another at 82,000 words. As a writer, it makes it a little easier that I now have two books to market to publishers and literary agents, not just one. I mean, I’ve been told that 189,000 words is just to much for a single book, but tell that to Gone with the Wind or War and Peace, right? I don’t know which is easier, but what’s done is done. The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are their own stories.

Now comes the hard part of trying to get someone to pick them up to publish. I will go the self-publishing route on Amazon Publishing, if necessary, to get my stories out there but I want to take the time and see if someone will take a chance on me. In the meantime, I will continue to send out submission after submission to whomever is open for submissions. For now, here’s a brief glimpse into the world of The Last Magus.

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The Kingdom of Attlain was a strange world of magic and miracles of modern invention. Humans and Demi-Humans—Alfs, Dwarves, Catsei, and many other unique races—built cities on the technological might of modern marvels called “Magius Engines.” These engines, powered by magic, light the darkness through electric lamps, connected the cities, villages, and towns in all directions by a network of Magius-powered trains and iron-hulled ships. It was a world of endless wonders, as well as many dangers.

Everyone knew Attlain as “the land of eternal magic” and rightfully deserved the distinction. Magic was at the heart of Attlain society, with nearly a third of the population able to use it somehow. Laws governed the use, and misuse, of magic under the watchful eye of the Helios Arcanum. The Arcanum researched and protected the secrets of magic, ensuring no one abused it within the four corners of Attlain.

Across the landscape—Solara and the Iron Wasteland, along the Skjem-Tur Mountains, to Celestrium by the sea—lived monsters of all types. These were creatures of all manner and breadth, vicious and evil, threatening to everyone in Attlain. To that end, the people utilized professional adventurers to root out these creatures and keep them safe. These fighters, magic casters, clerics, and the like kept the ever-changing population at bay. Among these adventurers was a unique group of men and women known as the Magus.

Since time immemorial, the Magus were the protectors of magic, armed with a magic caster’s power and a warrior’s strength. They were able to summon various magical weapons from specialized caches they wore known as an Armory of Attlain. They were legendary among the people of Attlain until the Magus Rebellion. When a few Magus decided they should lead the people instead of protecting them, they rebelled; but the insurrection ended from within the Magus ranks. However, the rebellion already did the damage. The remaining Magus were cast out, feared, and outlawed by all accounts except those few who remained loyal to the crown and lived as adventurers. For generations, they had all but disappeared from Attlain.

After decades of unknown absence from the landscape, a new Magus emerged to reclaim the banner and restore the Magus’s dignity. His name was Marcus Gideon, the Last Magus of Attlain.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

My Top 5 movies of the legendary Sir Sean Connery

I was sad to hear about the passing of the legendary actor Sir Sean Connery. He was a mainstay in Hollywood and his movies are, without a doubt, some of the best out there. As an actor, his movies crossed generations from the 1960s to today. There was only one Sean Connery and he will live forever in his countless memorable film roles. So, I wanted to take the time and give my list of his best movies. I know we all have our favorites, and both writers and sci-fi/fantasy fans are quite particular about their “favs” more so than other genres. But these are mine, and I hope you can relate to my choices.

Our Favorite Cameos: Sean Connery in 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' |  Movie News | Robin hood, Sean connery, King richard
Sean Connery as King Richard the Lionheart

I want to start off with an Honorable Mention. In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Connery cameoed as King Richard the Lionheart at the end of the movie, “photobombing” the wedding of Robin and Marian. I was shocked when I saw it in the theater and its one of my all-time favorite cameo appearances by any actor. Little trivia note, Connery played Robin Hood in the 1976 movie, Robin and Marian next to another legendary actress, Audrey Hepburn.

Another Honorable Mention is Time Bandits (1981) as King Agamemnon. It was a small part but quite memorable in this crazy, wild, wonderful movie. He was formidable as Agamemnon, and played the role with the fun that was Time Bandits. For some odd reason, when he asked the boy for his name and replied “Kevin?” as if it was a weird name (which it would be in ancient Greece) that sticks out in my head. So funny!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 1989 - Original Movie Poster – Art of  the Movies

At number FIVE, it has to be Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Although Connery took second billing to Harrison Ford, he stole the show as Indiana’s father. His comedic moments were spot on, as were his tender ones. The part was a perfect fit for Connery as the aging archeologist who never went in the field. His portrayal was witty, charming, and sometimes maniacal. I loved it at the end when he said, “We named the dog Indiana!”

However, Harrison Ford said it best when he eulogized Connery…

“He was my father…not in life…but in ‘Indy 3,’” Ford said in a statement sent to Variety. “You don’t know pleasure until someone pays you to take Sean Connery for a ride in the side car of a Russian motorcycle bouncing along a bumpy, twisty mountain trail and getting to watch him squirm. God, we had fun — if he’s in heaven, I hope they have golf courses. Rest in peace, dear friend.”

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) - IMDb

At number FOUR, the adaptation of Frank Miller’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) was panned by critics and fans of the graphic novel alike. However, I loved the movie, and enjoyed it through and through. Connery as the dashing yet forgotten hunter and hero Allan Quatermain was great casting for this movie. Even though they changed some things from the book, i.e. adding Tom Sawyer as a U.S. Secret Service agent, it was an eye-popping, steampunk-style story, which is why I liked it. The father/son relationship between Sawyer and Quatermain was a special aspect of the movie as well. It reminded me of Connery passing on the torch to the next generation of actors as this was his last movie role.

The Hunt for Red October (1990) - IMDb

At number THREE, The Hunt for Red October (1990) was a classic Connery role. As a retired U.S. Navy sailor, this is a no-brainer. The novel was great and the movie, even better, thanks to Connery. During the Cold War, this movie was the ultimate representation of the U.S./Russia relations at that time, but it also represented the hope that we could come together. It was also a great Navy movie, with submarines, aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and the like. This was “Top Gun” but for surface warfare nerds like me! Connery was commanding in this role with a great supporting cast that gave us one of his best movies. You can’t watch the scene where they are being attacked by a Soviet submarine hunter, as the torpedo closes in, and Connery’s Captain Marko Ramius is as cool as a cucumber, shouting orders. He was like “James Bond under the ocean” cool.

HIGHLANDER 1986 Original Rolled English Movie Poster 16 | Etsy
Connery as Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez

At number TWO on my list is Highlander (1986) and this was an AWESOME movie! Connery starred as Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, an immortal from ancient Egypt who carried a Japanese katana made by the great swordsmith Masamune and fought against the villain of the movie, The Kurgan, over centuries in in Babylonia, Greece, and ancient China (phew!) until he met Conner MacLeod. I know that’s a lot to take in but that’s what made this movie and this role so memorable. Here you have a character whose origins span centuries and Connery portrayed it as if he lived those experiences. I mean, the costume alone made the role believable. How can you go wrong with a cape made of peacock feathers. Connery portrayed the role that he’s familiar with, as a mentor and friend, and he does it incredibly well. The beach scene where he introduces MacLeod to “the Quickening” was one of my favorites, as was the fight with the Kurgan in MacLeod’s castle home. My favorite quote is when he tried to explain being an immortal. To me, it’s a philosophy on life.

“Why does the sun come up? Or are the stars just pinholes in the curtain of night? Who knows?

Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, Highlander (1986)
1964 - James Bond - Goldfinger: title sequence - YouTube

There was only one NUMBER ONE in mind when it comes to Connery, and it has to be his most iconic role… “Bond, James Bond!” But to pick one of his six films (not counting Never Say Never Again (1983) which was just a reboot of Thunderball (1965) with a retired Bond) was a hard decision. Still, if I have to go with one movie, I picked Goldfinger (1964) as his best Bond film. First off, some of the best names in cinema (Pussy Galore, Odd Job, Goldfinger) as well as top notch weapons, gadgets, and plot twists. Plus, to be killed by being painted in gold is a horrible way to die and one of the most intriguing. It was his best work as James Bond, and I never miss a chance to watch it.

There are too many other great movies to mention in one sitting… Outland (1981), The Untouchables (1987), The Rock (1996), Entrapment (1999), Finding Forrester (2000) and even the voice over in Dragonheart (1996). All of his movies are too memorable and will live in annals of great cinema. He won numerous awards from an Oscar, Golden Globes, a Tony, even an MTV movie award. He was honored with an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, BAFTA and more.

Yet, with all those honors, it doesn’t matter. We will always remember the great actor, the humanitarian, the Scotsman, the knight, the man… Sir Sean Connery.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.