MARK YOUR CALENDARS! “The Outlander War” book release date set for 28 February 2020


I am happy to tell you that The Outlander War: Book Three of the Forever Avalon Series has an official release date! The conclusion of the first trilogy in the Forever Avalon series will be available as a book/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishers on 28 February 2020.

Here is a brief synopsis of the novel:

It is an island frozen in time and space. For more than 3,000 years, the island of Avalon remained hidden from the outside world; a place of eternal magic, where the descendants of King Arthur ruled over a land filled with magical creatures, Elves, Dwarves and dragons. The island was only accessible through a rift in the Bermuda Triangle, where mariners and aviators disappeared throughout history. No one believed Avalon was anything but a myth.

In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in the heart of a naval exercise, Avalon suddenly reappeared, causing disruptions on both fronts. The US Navy, now circling the mysterious island, wants answers. On Avalon, they fear Outlanders would intrude on their home; and caught in the middle of it all is Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, Knight Eternal and champion of the magical realm.

The Gil-Gamesh was once a US Navy sailor, lost at sea in a freak storm, who found his way to Avalon. After his family followed him to the island, they decided to stay and make this their home. Now they are torn between loyalty to their new home and compassion for their old one.

The tensions build as modern technology faces off against ancient magic on an island where the laws of magic supersede the laws of science, causing mechanical weapons to falter and shut down. As military forces continue to surround the mysterious island, bringing both sides to the brink of war, an ancient evil arises from within, one that has been seeking the throne of New Camelot for three millennia.

I will have more information on how you can get a copy of the book, as well as any dates and locations for book signings and other events I’ll be attending this spring and summer to promote The Outlander War. Thanks for all the great support, from my family and friends and other independent authors I network with.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.


Remembering my favorite MMOG City of Heroes with an original short story

city_of_heroesHappy Halloween everyone! This is a day when we all dress up as a favorite fantasy character. Mine has always been superheroes. That being said, I want to spend this Halloween talking about one of my favorite video games.I was a HUGE fan and player of the online game CITY OF HEROES. As a longtime comic book geek, this game was made for people like me. I could create original characters, design their costumes, their origins, everything. It was a sad day when Paragon City had to be shelved

I was a HUGE fan and player of the online game CITY OF HEROES. As a longtime comic book geek, this game was made for people like me. I could create original characters, design their costumes, their origins, everything. It was a sad day when Paragon City had to be shelved. I really miss logging in, traveling to City Hall, stand atop the statue of the fallen hero Atlas, stopping a couple of Hellions from intimidating old ladies or stop a bank robbery.

To celebrate this occasion, I wanted to share a short story I wrote revolving around one of the characters I created, Bone the Headhunter. I know, not the most original name, but with all the good names taken, it’s what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it, and once again, Happy Halloween!


The Last Goodbye: A City of Heroes short story

JOURNAL ENTRY – Sunday, March 30, 3:45 a.m.  – I’ve been waiting for three hours and still no sign of the Vahzilok. My contact assured me that they routinely take this route through Faultline, bringing fresh body parts to Dr. Vahzilok himself. Faultline has plenty of places to hide the bodies of their victims. It’s a ruined city trying desperately to rebuild itself. Hopefully, this will bring me closer to finding that monster and exacting my revenge.

He closed his journal and slide it into his armor. His grim demeanor was hidden beneath his mask – a faceless skull with eyes as black as night. He waited patiently, watching the construction site from the top of the steel structure. His cloaking device was working perfectly, bending light around him so as to avoid detection.

As he scanned the surroundings, his mind began to wander. They called him a hero, but Bone the Headhunter didn’t feel like one. All the technology he’d put into his armor and weapons may have made him stronger, but it didn’t fill the void inside him.

He wasn’t a hero when his wife and son were captured by the Vahzilok. Those demented zombies would have taken him too if it wasn’t for the armored hero Positron. He saved his life, but it was too late for his family. One of the Reapers slipped away during the fight, taking their bodies with him. They searched for days, but no sign of his wife and son. They were presumed dead… Another victim of the Vahzilok.


Bone the Headhunter

People called him driven… Possessed by an unforgiving rage and hatred for the Vahzilok. That may be, but tragedy usually does that to a man. At one time, he was Ted Johnson, an Olympic archery champion, and a successful businessman. Since the death of his family, he turned that talent into something more useful; he hunted down the villains of Paragon City. The gangs called him a headhunter, attacking without regard to his own personal safety, trying to bring down as many of them as possible.

Bone snapped back into reality when he heard a low groaning noise. He looked down and saw a couple of Abominations – giant animated cadavers – dragging two heavy body bags. These mindless zombies were doing the bidding of a Reaper and an Eidolon, one of Dr. Vahzilok’s “perfect” creations. They were heading toward the sewer grate, the route Bone’s informant told him about.

“4-to-1,” Bone thought to himself. “Not bad odds… for me.”

A touch on his glove deactivated his cloaking device. “No use wasting energy on the cloak in a face-to-face battle,” Bone surmised. He reached into his belt for his targeting drone, activating it and tossing it into the air. The drone buzzed around his head like an angry bee. Its laser sites helped him in many battles.

He drew his bow and nocked an explosive arrow in. “This should get their attention,” he said as Bone let his arrow fly. Before the Vahzilok could react, the arrow struck within their midst and exploded. The Vahzilok were sent flying to the ground.

Before they could react, Bone tossed a smoke grenade to blind their vision. He leaped down from the steel building, his hydraulic leg enhancements cushioned his landing. Once down, he knocked his next arrow.

He fired at the Reaper. The arrowhead burst into flame and, upon impact, exploded, covering the Reaper and Abominations in burning embers. He reached into his quiver and laid three arrows across his bow. The multiple arrows fired, striking the Reaper and both Abominations, bringing all three to the ground.

Bone turned to face the Eidolon, drawing his next arrow. But before he could strike, black tendrils erupted from the ground and wrapped around Bone. He was frozen in place, unable to attack. The Eidolon wielded dark powers … A gift from Dr. Vahzilok for becoming his perfect creations.

He braced for the next attack from the Eidolon, but it didn’t come. The Eidolon was just standing there, staring at him. “What are you waiting for?” Bone shouted. The thought passed quickly as Bone prepared to take advantage of its lapse and attack.

“I was hoping this day would never come,” the Eidolon said to Bone. “Still, it had to happen sooner or later, didn’t it ‘Teddy.’” Bone was shocked to his senses. Only his wife called him Teddy. How did this Eidolon know his name?

“What kind of game are playing with me Eidolon?” Bone demanded. Before the Eidolon could answer, he broke free from the tendrils, raising his bow and aiming his arrow at the Eidolon. “How do you know that name?”

“Come now ‘Teddy,’ surely you can see past this mask as I easily as I can see past yours,” the Eidolon said mockingly. “Or maybe you’re just in denial.”

Bone slowly lowered his bow. He realized the truth in the Eidolon’s words, but he refused to believe it. “No, that’s not possible,” he said. The Eidolon peeled back the leather bindings that encased its body, removing its mask and exposing its face to Bone. Though bald, Bone recognized the eyes and lips – even the little mole on her cheek – of his wife.

“Val?” Bone asked. “Can it really be you?” The Eidolon smiled as if she enjoyed tormenting Bone.

“It’s me, Teddy, the wife you abandoned and left for dead.”

“I didn’t abandon you,” he explained, peeling his mask back to look at his wife, eye to eye. “I searched for you for days with Positron. We found no trace of you or Daniel.” Bone’s voice trailed off at the mention of his son’s name.

“Don’t you dare say his name,” the Eidolon screamed. “You have no right to speak his name. You have no idea what they did to him.”

“Yet here you are? Did you really become one of them?” Bone ripped back at her. “How could you do that? How could you join the Vahzilok?”

“I did what I had to survive,” she justified. “They were going to kill me, just like they did Daniel. So, I offered myself to them – to Dr. Vahzilok himself – to become one of his Eidolon. I did it to save my life.”

Bone couldn’t believe what he was hearing. She willingly gave herself to the Vahzilok, after what they did to their son.

“The Valerie I knew would never have done that. She would have died before joining these monsters,” Bone argued.

“What do you know about life and death,” she snapped back. “You have your precious medical transporters to protect you. I was on my own. I had a choice to make and I chose to live, no matter what I had to do.”

“You’re right about one thing,” she said as she pulled the mask back over her face. “Valerie Johnson is dead. I am Black Mary.”

Bone realized the truth in her words. “Then this is goodbye for the last time,” he told her as he put his mask back on. “But know this, Black Mary. The next time we meet, I won’t hesitate to kill you.”

Black Mary just stared at him. “Neither will I, Bone the Headhunter,” she said. “Neither will I.” Without hesitating, Bone pulled back his bow and fired a flaming arrow at the body bags, making the body parts unusable to the Vahzilok. Black Mary didn’t flinch. She just stared at Bone. He turned away and leaped into the air, heading toward the Faultline exit, back to Steel Canyon.

Suddenly, the sewer grate opened up and a group of Vahzilok stepped out. The Mortificator walked over to Black Mary. “Black Mary, what happened here?” he asked. She continued to stare off into the distance.

“We were ambushed by Bone the Headhunter,” she explained. “He destroyed the body bags, but I got him… I got him right through the heart.”

The Mortificator smiled, knowing that the Eidolon hurt that which the Vahzilok’s feared most. As they gathered up the remains of their fallen, they were too busy to see a tear rolling down Black Mary’s cheek. It was the last tear she will ever shed for her husband.

Across town, as Bone leaped through the air, he also shed a tear. He hasn’t cried since he lost his family the first time. He’ll never cry for them again.


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.

Halloween is more than a holiday, it’s a fantasy writers dream come true

fca4ce85-0b3b-4b59-b288-0ab3d781338a“When witches go riding, and black cats are seen. The moon laughs and whispers, ’tis near Halloween!”

This is the time of year when it starts to get darker early, the air is crisp and cold, and a full moon makes you think twice about being out after midnight.

Halloween is a special time of year, even more so for us fantasy writers. This is when we can let our hair down (for those of us who still have it) and let loose with all the scary stories we’ve been storing up for the past year.

I saw a great special on TV the other day that explain how dressing up in costumes and “trick or treating” was invented by a lady in Kansas to keep kids from vandalizing neighborhoods in their small, rural town. That may be true, but Halloween has always had a darker meaning.

Though it is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated in the Celtic harvest festivals with pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, how it is practiced and celebrated today is the as the festival was Christianized as Halloween. Most of us carry on the tradition as we did as kids … By decorating our homes with jack o’lanterns, skulls and tombstones, watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and passing out candy to little kids while saving the leftovers for the rest of us.

As a writer, Halloween brings out the best in me. You have a wealth of myths and legends to choose from to scare your readers. In the instance of my third book, The Outlander War, I brought a couple of “Halloween inspired” characters to my story … The half-demon Abdel Ben Faust and the Wraith Legion of Purgatory. Here is an excerpt from my “soon-to-be-released” novel which shows how deadly a wraith can be.


Dotted along the coast of Avalon, sitting atop the raised cliff-face, were outposts manned 24/7 by the Knights of the Round Table, Shield Maidens, the Dragon Guard, and Elves from the Hîldrägo Boquè. Their job was to keep an eye on the fleet off the coast and report any movement toward Avalon, by sea or by air.

At one outpost, located directly across where Emmyr once floated in the sky, sat a small group of men in the third hour of their watch. A small fire kept them warm, but it was of little comfort out here. It was three o’clock in the morning, and the tedious, sometimes boring, nature of the watch was already getting to some of them.

Of all the knights there, Sir Eadric Cuthbert was the oldest. At nearly 100-years-old, and he was still considered by many to be in his prime. He had fought in many battles throughout his career as a Knight of the Round Table, characterized by the many battle scars on his body. He could have had them healed but he preferred leaving the marks as they were, because each one was a story. His shaggy beard of black and gray was the only hair on his body as the rest either fell out or was burned off at one time or another. He leaned up against his halberd, a two-handed polearm with a broad ax blade and a pike, as he tried to shake off the sleep. He knew he had too much to drink before coming on watch, but the young men kept asking for one more story and he couldn’t help himself.

As Eadric dozed, Feredir kept his gaze locked off the coast of Avalon. As one of the youngest members of the elite Hîldrägo Boquè, the Elf warrior was always mindful of his duties while on watch. He memorized all of the ships situated off the coast of Avalon and took careful inventory whenever he assumed watch. His stark green eyes and brown hair highlighted his beautiful features, wearing the traditional copper-colored armor of the Hîldrägo Boquè. Armed with his long bow and long sword, his normally dutiful attention was interrupted by the occasional snoring of Eadric, waking himself up with every loud gasp for air.

“Are you sure you should be standing the watch so tired, Sir Eadric?” Feredir inquired politely.

“Nonsense Feredir, why I once stayed awake for four days straight on twenty minutes of sleep at the siege of Kohlwick Hollow,” Eadric replied as he snapped to attention. “I usually need some action to keep my focus so I don’t drift off.”

“Well, you’re not a young man anymore. You should take it easy on the late night revelry.”

“Speak for yourself lad,” Eadric snapped back. “It’s late night revelry that keeps this old man going.”

“Lad?” Feredir said as he glared at Sir Eadric with a look of bewilderment. “You do realize that I’m more than 1,500 years older than you?”

“Ah, it’s not the age lad, it’s how you carry yourself,” Eadric answered. “You walk like my son, Dabney, use to … Strong, confident and full of life. Me? I’m an old man, past his prime, who tries to be ‘one of the boys’ by drinking the night away while telling one of a hundred stories of my life as a Knight of the Round Table.”

“You speak too harshly about yourself Sir Eadric,” Feredir said to comfort the old knight. “You have lived a long and fruitful life, serving the people of Avalon with honor. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”

“He’s right Sir Eadric, your presence means a lot to young men like me,” one of the other knights spoke up. The other men nodded their heads in agreement, chiming in to support the aged warrior.

Eadric said nothing in reply. He just leaned against his halberd and sighed. Feredir saw that something was on his mind. “Is something bothering you, Sir Eadric?”

“My son, Dabney,” Eadric said, his voice turned solemn and sad. “I haven’t thought about him for over a year now, not even speaking his name.”

Feredir jerked his head, unsure of where Eadric was going with this. “Dabney died last year at the battle of Idlehorn Mountain,” Eadric continued. “We were defending the right flank when a Drow Strider came right at us. I got under the beastie with my halberd while Dabney sliced it right between its eight eyes. The Drow fell off the spider’s back, so I ran it through with the pike.

“We turned our back on the spider, thinking it was dead, but it had a little bit of life left. It grabbed Dabney and ran him through with its stinger. Some lads carried him to the rear while I continued to fight. When the battle was over, I went to find Dabney but …”

His voice trailed off, not finishing his sentence, but Feredir understood what happened to his son. “They had to burn his body because Drow spiders lay eggs inside their victims when they die. The only recourse was to burn the bodies before the eggs could hatch. I’m very sorry Sir Eadric.”

Eadric wiped the tears from his eyes and took a deep breath to regain his composure. ”That’s alright lad, we all have to go sometime. I’ll see my son again one day, that’s what keeps me going.”

The two remained quiet for almost half an hour until Eadric finally broke the silence. “Do you remember a Storm Giant by the name of Boras?”

“Boras? I remember when he came down from Merlin’s Pinnacle to raid cattle and sheep farms,” Feredir recalled. “His people were starving because they didn’t stock up enough for the winter, so he took it upon himself to get some provisions, as it were. I heard it took more than 100 knights to finally bring him down.”

“101 actually …” Eadric joked as he cracked a smile. “Let me tell you about it, you see …”

“Oh no Eadric, not the Boras story again!” came a voice from behind. The men all turned to see Sir Hunter and Chancellor Beauchamp walking toward them. Hunter was carrying a Lancer, as if he was ready to fight while Henri carried a teapot.

Eadric walked up to Hunter and greeted him like a brother, embracing him enthusiastically. “What are you doing here Sir Hunter?” Eadric asked. “I thought you were in Alfheimer?”

“I finally got a clean bill of health from Doctor Bonapat, so I took the first flight back here. My mother was driving me crazy!” he joked. “Actually, I’m just escorting Chancellor Beauchamp out here. Henri thought you all could use some efion tea.”

“Mais bien sûr,” Henri chimed in as he poured some tea for each of the men. “I wanted to bring you some of Chef Manfred’s world famous Cioppino, but he would not let it out of his sight. De toute façon, the Gil-Gamesh always said that everyone needs a little something to keep them going until morning, n’est ce pas?”

Sir Eadric greedily took the cup from Chancellor Beauchamp. “God bless you, Chancellor, this is just what I needed!” He took a big sip of tea, savoring each swallow with a soft moan. “Ah, a Christmas Hot Toddy! Just the way I like it!”

Efion tea is an Elvish drink that provided nourishment to Elves when they travel away from Alfheimer. To humans, it’s like an energy drink on steroids. A side effect of the brew is that it mimics the flavor of whatever you’re thinking, from sweet to savory.

Henri offers a cup to Feredir, but the Elf politely refuses. “No thank you, Chancellor Beauchamp. I had some before I came on watch. I am perfectly … fine.”

His voice trailed off at the end of his sentence as his eye caught something different off the horizon. Hunter knew how keen the eyesight of an Elf was and tried to see what he’s looking at on the horizon. Though it was a clear night, the moon was waning with a small sliver of a crescent high in the sky.

“What is it?” he asked. “What do you see?”

“There’s a new ship out there, one I’ve never seen before.”

“Are you sure Feredir? Those metal contraptions look all the same to me,” Eadric interjected.

“I have observed all the same ships for the past few weeks, that one is new,” he said pointing out. Try as he might, Hunter could barely make out the ship in the darkness.

“Can you describe it? Do you see any writing on it?”

“It looks like the other large warship, the aircraft carrier I believe your father called it, but the front of the ship is curved upward like a ramp,” Feredir said. “There is some writing on the side of the main structure but I’m not familiar with the language.”

“Show me!” Hunter demanded. Feredir took a dagger and wrote a few letters in the dirt next to the fire. Hunter didn’t recognize the words but he knew the style of the language. “That’s Russian, I think,” he said. “It must be a helicopter carrier of some sort.”

“Is that the machines with the spinning blades on them?” Feredir inquired.

“Yes, why?”

“Because there are four of them headed our way!” Feredir stated as he drew his bow.

Hunter turned to two of the younger knights standing with them. “You two, pass the word down along the coast that invaders are coming toward Avalon,” he commanded as the two men took off in opposite directions to warn the other outposts. “Henri, go tell my father what’s going on! We need him here immediately!” Henri dropped the teapot as he took off running toward the main encampment.

Hunter reloaded his Lancer with two new spellshots as he and Sir Eadric crouched down low behind the protection of some rocks. Feredir kept his head above the rocks, keeping a close eye on the approaching helicopters.

“How far out are they?” Hunter asked.

“Three of them are holding their position about 500 feet of shore,” he said as he scanned the horizon. “I’ve lost the fourth one.”

“What?” Hunter exclaimed as he and Eadric jumped up to see.

“Where did it go?” Eadric bemused. Before Feredir could answer, the three men heard a whirring sound from just off the cliff. From below the cliff edge, a helicopter rose up in the air in front of them, threatening them with 7.62x54mm rotary mini-gun.

The three quickly ducked down as the helicopter opened fire, pelleting the ground around them with rapid-fire spray. Feredir notched an arrow and readied himself. The Elven warrior stood up and fired off an arrow at the helicopter pilot but it ricocheted off the front windshield. He quickly shot off one more, but it had the same result, as he dove down behind the rock before the pilot adjusted his fire toward him.

“My arrows won’t penetrate that infernal machine!” Feredir complained. Hunter weighed all the options until he came up with an idea.

“I think I can help you there,” he said as he pulled up his Lancer, ready to fire. “After I fire, hit him again. Your arrows should penetrate this time.”

Hunter took a deep breath before he popped up and fire his Lancer at the helicopter. His spellshot—a combination of magic and alchemy loaded into a cartridge the size of a shotgun shell—fired a freezing spray at the helicopter, coating the front of the aircraft in a layer of frost. The windshield froze instantaneously, causing the pilot to stop firing momentarily as he attempted to get his bearings.

Feredir knew what he had to do as he quickly popped up and fired another arrow at the windshield. This time, his arrow shattered the glass and pierced the pilot through the chest. The aircraft became erratic as it spun around and around as the co-pilot tried to regain control. Feredir didn’t give him a chance to recover as he fired another arrow, this time killing the co-pilot with an arrow through the throat.

The helicopter spun out of control as it flew over the three warriors and dove down toward the ground. The engines shut down just before it impacted the surface, exploding in a giant ball of fire. Sir Eadric and Hunter roared loudly at their victory while Feredir just stood there silently, with a hint of a satisfying grin on his face.

“Now that was teamwork,” Eadric cheered. “Well done lads; well done to both of you!”

Hunter looked closely and calculated the distance from the cliff to where the helicopter crashed. His face turned sour as he made a grim discovery.

“The barrier has shrunk even more,” Hunter surmised. “It reaches almost 300 feet away from the cliff.”

“We should order the outposts to move in, otherwise, their infernal weapons can reach us,” Eadric replied.

“I agree, we need to warn the others immediately,” Feredir concurred. Before Hunter could say anything, the sound of engines filled the air. The three warriors turned around to see two more helicopters rising above the cliff, moving towards them. The two open up with their mini-guns, tearing up the ground as they strafed toward them.

With uncanny reflexes, Feredir grabbed Hunter and threw him to the ground behind the outcropping of rocks. Unfortunately, Sir Eadric was not as fast. The spray from the mini-guns ripped him apart as he fell to the ground.

Hunter looked over at Eadric’s lifeless body, saddened at the death of his friend. Even Feredir, who only knew Sir Eadric for a short period of time, mourned his loss. The two watched as something strange happened to Eadric. His body glowed briefly as his spirit rose from his body. It hovered over the corpse for a moment as it reformed into a wraith—an armored warrior with a ghostly visage for its head. The energy from his spirit absorbed into the heart stone on its chest as the gem beat to life.

Once fully formed, the wraith screamed an unearthly shriek before it flew into one of the helicopters. As the ghostly spirit passed through the craft, it unnerved the pilots as it swerved right into the other helicopter. The two collided into each other, shredded into pieces as the blades from one cut into the other. The two helicopters fell straight down to the beach below, exploding on impact. The wraith that was Sir Eadric was gone.

The last Russian helicopter was not deterred by the destruction of the first three. It hovered back from the cliff and fired a pair of 9k114 assault missile at the two hiding behind the outcropping. Hunter saw the missiles being launched from the aircraft. He grabbed Feredir by the arm and pulled him away from the rocks as quickly as possible.

The missiles hit the rocks, causing a massive explosion that hurled the two warriors through the air. They crashed into the ground hard, knocking the wind out of them. The helicopter moved in closer as its mini-gun whirred to life and started firing.

“Acheron Draconis!” shouted a voice from behind as the Gil-Gamesh summoned his dragon form, erupting with magical energy as it formed around him. “Defendo!” he chanted as the dragon’s wings folded down in front of Hunter and Feredir, protecting them from the gunfire.

“Infernus!” he commanded. The dragon form reared back and breathed fire, blasting the helicopter with full force. The helicopter exploded almost instantly, dropping down on top of the other two wrecked aircraft.


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.


I’ll take my inspiration where I can get it

My family has been picking on me lately as to what I watch regularly on TV. Being unemployed at this time, I spend a lot of time on the computer, looking for jobs and/or writing. I like to listen to movies and television shows to keep the creativity flowing. I know some people prefer music, but for me, it’s a product of my environment.

You see, as a retired Navy Journalist, I served primarily on aircraft carriers. At sea, my office workspace doubled as the shipboard television station. Because of the rotating shift schedules of sailors at sea, we kept the television on 24/7. So, the movies and the television shows provided to us by the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) played constantly.

Thus my conundrum. It’s easier for me to write when there is noise, like that of a television, playing in the background. It’s hard to explain but I think that having to sit down and write or work at my computer goes smoother when I can listen to something in the background. It seems to make me work harder to focus my thoughts and think about what I’m doing, but that’s not why they’re picking on me.

thtbotfa25_cleanFor some reason, I have been focused on certain movies to keep me inspired, especially The Hobbit movies, Lord of the Ring trilogy, anything Star WarsThe Martian, Pacific Rim and a few classic 80’s “sword and sorcery” guilty pleasure movies like Ladyhawke, Krull and Dragonslayer. The repetition at which I watch these movies has earned me the ridicule of my wife and children, but to be honest, I can’t help it.

These movies inspire me. I love the stories, the visual effects, the characters, just everything about them. I enjoy watching them over and over again as if I was watching them for the first time. It reminds me a lot of when I was a teenager and went to see Star Wars for the first time. I loved it so much that I went back and saw it every weekend for as long as it was in the theaters. I must have seen it 20 times. I did the same thing with The Rockey Horror Picture Show, Conan the Barbarian and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The misspent youth of my young adult life was spent in movie theaters.

Today, it furthers my want to be a successful writer and see what I write up there, whether on the silver screen or on TV. It is, I think, the dream of every writer to take their stories tot he furthest reaches possible. When you listen to the metal twang of steel in a swordfight or the hum of a lightsaber, it brings those vivid images to the forefront and sets your mind in motion.

To me, that is where inspiration comes. It’s the things we see, we hear, we taste, we smell that gets all electrons firing off at the same time. It gives writers, like me, the confidence to write the next chapter in our stories. So whatever inspires you to write, ignore the naysayers and just give into it. Whatever works for you is what’s important.


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

Why be a writer when it costs you time, money and leaves you open for criticism? Because …

My journey as a self-published author really began more than 30 years ago. A college dropout, with very little education or ambition to show for it, I decided my only option was to join the military. With my background in art and writing, I was offered the chance to be a Navy Journalist. I jumped at the opportunity and enlisted.

During my first few years in the Navy, I got married and started my career aboard the aircraft carrier USS FORRESTAL, stationed in Jacksonville, Florida. I also began a steady diet of playing Dungeons & Dragons with friends, to pass the time during those long deployments at sea. Back then, before video game consoles, the internet and satellite TV, D&D was the only distraction available to pass the time.

That’s where my stories began to develop. You see, when you’re spending a large number of off duty hours playing D&D, missing your wife and newborn daughter while deployed thousands of miles from home, it can mess with your head. In my case, I started having a recurring dream about me and my wife, trapped on an island filled with magical fantasy creatures. The dream changed as my children grew older, they started coming into my dream. Finally, I decided I had to start writing it all down.

During my last deployment in 2001, I started developing the story of Forever Avalon. I used my family as inspiration for the family in my novel, including using their middle names as the names of my characters. It took me a few years to really develop the story until it was finally completed in 2004. The funny thing is, when I finished the novel, I stopped having the dream. It seems there was a purpose to it after all.

From that point on, it was just a matter of finding a publisher. I sent out my manuscript to various publishers but got rejected multiple times. I was finally contacted by James A. Rock Publishing and they offered to publish my book, for a price. Now, I didn’t know a lot of self-publishing at that time and it seemed to be a great opportunity. They helped me get my novel in the proper format, had an artist do the cover and put my book online.

The first thing I discovered about self-publishing was that the publishing companies are not book editors and they don’t really edit manuscripts. After Forever Avalon was published, I sent copies of my book to all my family. My mother, bless her heart, sent me two pages of spelling and grammatical errors she found in the book. That was a truly humbling experience. My publisher let me pull the book, make the proper edits and then sent it back out.

The next thing I discovered about self-publishing is that publishers don’t publicize your novel. I spent every minute of my time calling book stores to see if I could set up a book signing, contact and pay people to review my novel, and set up social media to advertise my book. You wanted to be just a writer, but I discovered that in the world of self-publishing, you have to be a jack-of-all-trades instead.

I took the lessons learned from my first novel and applied it to my second one when I self-published The Dark Tides. That brings me to my third lesson in self-publishing … MONEY. You have to invest a lot time and money into getting your work out there for that slim possibility someone will notice you and maybe, just maybe, you can go from self-published author to best-selling author. That’s the dream but, unfortunately, it’s not always the reality.

Self-publishing can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive, but in all honesty, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Even if one or two people read my book and fall in love with the stories and the characters I created from that dream all those years ago, it’s worth it to me. I will continue to strive to be a storyteller to those who will listen to me.

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 iUniverse.

A look ahead to 2016 — A preview of “The Outlander War, Book 3 of the Forever Avalon series”

year-in-review-1Well, here we are in 2016. I hope everyone had a Happy New Year and, although it’s the first Monday of the new year, let’s be positive. 2015 was not the best year. Between terrorism, political intrigue, riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, email scandals, mass shootings and unexpected deaths, it’s definitely not in my top 10. The positive things I can say about 2015 was Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the return of Bloom County on Facebook, Doctor Who season 9, great comic book TV shows and the positive reviews I received for my second novel, The Dark Tides. More bad than good, but still, just an okay year.

As I look ahead to 2016, I am happy to report that the third book in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War, is nearly finished. So I thought what better way to kick off 2016 than with a preview of the next chapter in my medieval fantasy/adventures series. Here is the prologue from The Outlander War!

* * *

The field was strewn with the dead; warriors felled by sword and axe, spear and shaft. Blood flowed across the ground, but there were no winners here … Only death triumphed this day. Camlann sat near the southern coast of England in Wales. This was the last stand by Mordred and forces loyal to his sorceress mother, Morgana le Fay, against the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

The Battle of Camlann was the final conflict between King Arthur and Mordred. The two combatants laid side-by-side on the ground, both men mortally wounded by the other.

As Sir Percival ran to his monarch’s aid, Mordred crawled away, not wanting to wait for the last of the Knights of the Round Table to finish him off.

Percival dropped his sword and lifted Arthur’s head on his lap. “My liege,” he cried. “I am here Your Majesty.”

“Percival … Listen to me,” King Arthur groaned. “Take Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake; it must not fall into the wrong hands!” He handed his sword to Percival, placing the hilt firmly in his hands. “You must do this for me.”

Percival nodded his head as tears began to roll down his face. “I will sire! I will” he assured his King. Arthur smiled, his mind at ease. He coughed violently, blood spewing from his lips.

“Find Mordred, Percival,” he choked out. “He must not be allowed to take the throne of Camelot. You must …” King Arthur coughed again as he gasped for each breath. Percival did his best to comfort the dying monarch.

“Do not fear, milord. As long as there is breath in my body, he will never sit on the throne. This I swear!”

King Arthur took one last breath before his body went rigid, his eyes stared into the stars above. His arms went limp as the King fell back and died. Percival cried as he closed the King’s eyes and set him gently down on the ground.

He looked over to Excalibur and knew he had a promise to keep. He reached for the sword but it was quickly scooped up by the hands of Merlin the Magician. The sorcerer and advisor to King Arthur took the sword without a word to Sir Percival, walking up toward the top of the hill.

“Merlin, what are you doing?” Percival screamed as he leaped to his feet. “I must return Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake. It was the King’s final command.”

Merlin said nothing. He quickened his pace to the reach the top of the hill. He walked past the bodies of the dead knights, laying where they fell in battle. Percival became irritated at the wizard. He ran up and grabbed him by the arm.

“Dammit Merlin, answer me!” he commanded. Merlin pointed his staff at Percival to ward him off. The twisted shaft of Wych Elm had three branches at the top, looking like a trident, with crystals of rose, smoky and white quartz embedded in those branches. The crystals glowed, as magical energy hovered between them, threatening the knight to stay away.

“We don’t have time Sir Percival,” Merlin exclaimed. “I must act quickly to save us all.”

Merlin turned away to continue climbing up the hill. Percival was confused by Merlin’s statement. “Time for what? Merlin, what do you mean?” he shouted as he chased after the wizard.

“The age of magic is coming to an end, and so is our world,” he explained. “With Arthur’s death, the magic that fills our realm is already starting to fade. I must act quickly if I am to stem the tide.”

“But how?” Percival asked. “How can you do that?”

“There is a spell, one of the first ever written,” Merlin began to explain. “If I focus that spell through Excalibur, it will bring all magic together in one place.”

“Where Merlin? Where are you sending it?”

Merlin stopped as he reached the summit. “To Avalon, my boy! To Avalon! There, I will summon all the magic, magical creatures and beings into one place, hidden from the rest of the world.”

The wizard rammed his staff into the ground in front of him. He took Excalibur and placed the hilt between the branches, allowing the sword to hang down from the staff. Merlin stood behind them and started chanting. It was an ancient language, unknown to this day and age. He repeated the spell until he got into a rhythm, chanting as magic began to erupt from the ground around him.

Percival stood back as watched the ritual unfold before him. The energy around Merlin grew brighter and brighter as the spell reached its zenith.

“No!” shouted a voice from behind. Percival drew his sword as he turned to see who was shouting at them.

Mordred, bloodied and wounded from his fight with King Arthur, charged up the hill. His blonde hair was dirty and matted, but his golden armor—a gift from his mother to protect him from harm—still shined brightly in the glow of the magic that surrounded Merlin.

“I will have Excalibur,” he shouted. “By birthright, I am now King!”

Percival stepped between Mordred and Merlin. “You will never be King, Mordred. My descendants and I will always stand between you and the throne.”

“You will not stop me Percival,” Mordred chastised as he drew his sword. “No matter where you go, I will take Excalibur in my hands, I will sit on Arthur’s throne … I will be King!”

Percival leaped at Mordred, bringing his sword down at him as Mordred raised his to counter his attack. As steel clashed together, the magic around Merlin exploded in brilliant flash of light. In an instant, they were all gone. Across England and around the world, anything and everything touched by magic just disappeared; faded into myth and legend, never to be seen again, or so they thought.

* * *

In case you want to catch up on the first two books, 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 iUniverse.

Death and dying in literature is the hardest part of being an author


“No one knows whether death, which people fear to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good.” – Plato

I know I broached this subject before, but it’s really knawing at me, especially now. I am almost done with my third novel of the Forever Avalon series–the end of the first trilogy–and death is hovering around me. I don’t know about other authors, but for me, death is the hardest part of writing. For the past 10 years, I have put my heart and soul into my writing. These characters, that I have so lovingly created, are like family to me and having to kill some of them to move the plot along can be quite difficult.

Some people find comfort in death Helen Keller said, “Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.”

Then there are those you want to see dead. Sure, it’s easy to kill the villains, because they’re the bad guys. They’re the ones you want to be foiled, thwarted, even destroyed by the end of the book. To them, death is just the means to an end in their quest for power, fame or dominion over others.

I think J.R.R. Tolkien summed it up best in The Fellowship of the Ring. He wrote, “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

Below is an excerpt from The Dark Tides which demonstrates how death moves the story along; but also, for me, it was one of the hardest pages I’ve ever written. I was in tears as I wrote this part of the story, which is why I want to share it with you now.

* * *

With a wave of her hand, Lady Heather gave the signal as two airships descend from the night sky toward Emmyr. It was the Reaper and the Flying Fancy. Ropes were lowered down for the remaining pirates and goblins to ascend. Captain Avery was lowered down from the Fancy
on a platform for Morgana and Lady Heather to ride up on.

Heather handed Bowen off to one of Avery’s men to hold. Cadhla desperately reached out for her son, who cried as he tried to reach for his mother, but to no avail.

“Heather please, don’t do this!” the Queen pleaded, “Take me instead, just leave my son; please leave him alone! It’s me you want, not him.”

Heather walked over to the Queen, strutting over the dominance of her enemy. “Now why would I want you? I mean, what good is a dead hostage,” she said as she plunged the Dagger of Koram into Cadhla’s chest. Th e Queen fell to her knees, unable to breathe and unable to speak. “The Queen is dead …” Heather shouted sarcastically as she pulled the dagger out.

“… Long live the King!” Heather mocked young Bowen, giving him a curtsey. Cadhla fell backwards to the ground. Hunter tried to help her but he could barely move. He was only able to lift her head gently onto his lap. He wept for Cadhla as his gaze shifted to Bowen as he is hauled
up to the waiting ships.

Avery walked up to the Gil-Gamesh, still being held by the goblins. He drew his sword Crossbones as he approached Bryan, placing the blade under his chin. He lifted the Gil-Gamesh’s head up so he can look into his eyes, cutting a deep gash from his chin to his cheek.

“It would be spiteful to take your eye like you did mine, but you might just need that to find the broach for Morgana,” he cursed the Gil-Gamesh. Without warning, threw his sword at Nevan, plunging the blade deep into his chest. Nevan slumped down onto a shocked Sarafina
and young Thomas.

“You took my right eye, now I took your right hand,” Avery said as he walked over to Nevan and retrieved his blade, leaving Sarafina in despair next to her dying husband. “That’ll do for now!” Avery sheathed his sword and joined Heather and Morgana on the platform.

“One month Gil-Gamesh, until the next new moon … Bring my broach to Idlehorn or your young King dies!” Morgana promised. The platform rose up to the Flying Fancy. As the platform moved, the Dark Tides effect on the people lessened and the people slowly began to recover.

Explosions were heard from the port as the people looked down to see Avery’s ships fire on the port and shipyard, destroying the ships and parts of the port itself. Th e fires burned on throughout the city, leaving everyone in shock.

But the only sound that could be heard was the cries of little Thomas Forest as he spoke his first words to his dying father.

“Daddy …SKU-000941753 Daddy please get up! Mommy, tell Daddy to get up! I’ll say anything you want me too Daddy, just please get up!” the little boy cried, repeating it over and over again. Nevan smiled. He finally heard his son call him Daddy. It’s the last thing he heard as his life faded away.

* * *

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

It’s Christmas time again, so let’s be politically incorrect for a change!

My Christmas tree is already up!

Let me start out by saying that I try not to be political in my blogs. In today’s society, espousing one’s political views can cause you world’s of hurt from the “trolls” whose only joy is to write terrible things about you from one end of the net to the other. That being said, I tend to be very politically incorrect when it comes to Christmas.

What started out as a reason to party and let loose centuries ago, with pagan sensibilities mind you, has become a time of family, celebration, and religious worship. It’s also caused many people to get a stick up their ass if you even say “Merry Christmas” to them.

What is wrong with Merry Christmas? All you’re doing is wishing someone a glad tidings at this festive time of year. It’s not like you’re flipping them the bird, yet some people want to stop us from saying Merry Christmas “in case” it offends someone. Anything I might say could offend anyone at any given time. That’s why we have freedom of speech in this country. Saying Merry Christmas to a perfect stranger is no different than wishing them a good morning/afternoon/evening; but if you’re one of those people who gets offended by it, you’re what’s wrong with society today, not me.

We need to put the fun back into the holidays and take out the stress. I love movies like “The Christmas Story” and “The Walton’s Homecoming Special” because they speak of a simpler time when we took the time for family, community, church and holiday spirit. It was about Christian, Jew, Agnostic or atheist. It was about the joy of Christmas.

I will admit, I do hate it how the holidays are slammed one into the other. The day after Halloween, every store is already decorated for Christmas. You don’t even get a chance to breathe. I saw a Christmas commercial for Best Buy on Halloween night. It was ridiculous.

I learned an interesting tidbit this year. President Franklin D. Roosevelt actually wanted Thanksgiving to fall the 3rd Thursday in November, instead of the 4th, to give retailers the extra week of holiday shopping. It’s strange how that isn’t necessary today because we’re shopping for Christmas from 1 November to 24 December with online shopping and aggressive retailers. Even “Black Friday” isn’t a thing anymore because some stores open on Thanksgiving night.

I understand this better than most because I live with a wonderful woman who eats, lives and breathes Christmas 24/7, 365 days a year. My lovely wife, Georgiene, listens to Christmas music, watches Christmas movies and keeps that joy of Christmas alive all year round. Though I sometimes find it annoying in the middle of Summer, it has given me a better appreciation for the holiday.

So, as we march into the last 25 days of Christmas, I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanza! And for the rest of you trolls out there, Bah Humbug!

To write, or not to write … That is the question!

97b6276dfde6d2999d4d01ac9bb1a735Being unemployed is not all it’s cracked up to be. I spend most of my time searching job sites, applying for at least five jobs a day, going through tons of emails filed with job search results and rejection letters, filing for unemployment, going to job fairs … It’s a bloody mess.

On top of all that is the urge to take this time and finish writing my next book. I want to do it but my conscience won’t allow me too. I have a responsibility to my wife and my family to lift myself out of this hole I dug and get us back on track.

That’s what happens when you don’t worry about where your next paycheck is coming from for more than 30 years. You get complacent and relaxed to the point where you don’t think you could ever lose your job. You’re invaluable and they can’t do it without you. That’s what I thought, because as the saying goes, it’s hard to fire a federal employee. Trust me when I say, it’s not!

So now the dilemma, to write or not to write. I know my wife doesn’t want to see me writing  anytime soon because it’s one of the reasons I’m in this mess in the first place. I was working on and editing my novels at work. Though, in my opinion, it never took me away from my job, that’s what got the ball rolling. Within a year of the investigation, I was fired … a first for me. I’m not proud of that fact but I have to put it behind me and move forward.

Writing is how I identify myself, it’s who I am. I am a writer and I love it. I love to see my words come together on a page, I love telling my stories, and I have so much more to tell. I can’t imagine not writing, but right now, it’s not paying the bills. I have to juggle between finding a job and continuing to write.

This is worse than writer’s block. I usually use this blog to talk about things I’ve learned and experienced as a Sailor, a self-published author, and a certified geek. This is not what I want to spend my time writing about but, in a way, it’s therapeutic.

The day after I was fired, I was called by my lawyer. She was contacted by people on the base (where I worked) because they saw something I write on Facebook and were concerned I was going to hurt myself. I can honestly say that it did cross my mind, but then I realized that it would only create more problems for my family and friends., I can’t do that to them.

I guess that’s why I do this, why I write. It’s very comforting to watch what you say come together in a flowing message. You bare your soul as a writer, giving life meaning in every word you write. It may not make sense to some people, others may discover the truth behind the meaning, but in the end, it’s how it makes you–the writer–feel.

Right now, I feel a little lost, but I have faith in my God, my family and my friends that it will be a better day. So for now, I will continue to write. It will help me become a better writer and it will help my heart, mind and soul get through this rough patch.

As Scarlett O’Hara proclaimed, “Tomorrow is another day!”