Stuck at home? Here’s something to read for FREE

This week, like many people across America and around the world, I was stuck in my house trying to practice “social distancing” from everyone but my wife and my dog. Although, to be honest, my wife is trying to keep me six feet away (joke, honey, just a joke). We are all learning some “new norms” for the next few weeks or, God forbid, months.

While we are all worrying about our stockpile of toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, alcohol and bullets, I thought I would give away something to help people (a) pass the time away, and (b) take your mind off the stock market and getting sick. It’s the least I could do!

From March 19-23, ebook copies of my first novel, Forever Avalon, are available for download for FREE on Amazon. If you’re part of the Kindle Unlimited program, you can already download it for FREE, but for those not in it, this one is for you! Forever Avalon is a journey to the magical island of Avalon as a modern-day family find themselves lost in another world.

As with anything, I only ask that after you read it, please leave a review to help an independent author succeed! And, if you are so inclined, please check out my other two books: The Dark Tides and The Outlander War. They are also available for digital download as ebooks.

Thanks for your support and remember to wash your hands, stay indoors, and don’t hoard all the toilet paper! Leave some for the rest of us!

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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 available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

What it takes to write a book, no a series, without going completely crazy

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I have to admit, this has been a journey for me. I like to say it’s been a 20-year trek, since Forever Avalon was first published in 2009, but in actuality, it’s been a nearly 40-year journey for me. I wrote a little bit in high school, but not as much as I do today.

It all really started around 1984, for me. I just joined the U.S. Navy, finished boot camp, and was waiting for to join my “A” school class for military journalism at the Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. I spent my time in specialty classes to improve my typing speed (I still “hen and peck” at the keyboard to this day) and performing odd duties, like manning a reception desk in the Broadcast Department office. This was really “busy work” while I waited for a spot to open in the next available class schedule.

When I wasn’t on duty, I found some like-minded friends and we spent our evenings and weekends playing Dungeons and Dragons. I had also started writing then, although it was nothing like the Forever Avalon series. I originally had ambitions of being a screenwriter, so I wrote a D&D based screenplay called “Justice by the Sword” and, to be honest, it sucked. I think most writers probably feel the same way about their first piece of work. I still have it, though, as a memento of my first attempt as a writer, to remind me of this journey I started on.

After “A” school, I reported to my first duty station, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal. It was a behemoth, quite intimidating for a young sailor, but it was an experience I’ll never forget. Like at “A” school, I spent my off duty nights at sea playing D&D with my friends. Yes, I was a full blown nerd. You have to remember, this was before video game consoles, the internet, cellphones, and satellite TV. The only video games we had were the arcade machines on the mess decks that you dropped your quarters into. D&D let us escape those 16 hour work days, separated from family and loved ones, into a world of fantasy.

It was in that haze between fantasy and reality that I found my calling, my dream, my story as a writer. It started as a recurring dream. Whenever I was deployed, I would have this dream about being with my family on a magical, medieval fantasy world. It was like living in an Isekai anime. This dream stayed with me for more than 20 years, half of which was spent on sea duty, deployed overseas. Finally, in 2001, during my last deployment aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (Yes, I served on the Enterprise! Take that, nerds!) I decided to write down the story. I didn’t play D&D anymore (not many Chief Petty Officers into RPGs) so I took my stories to heart and started to write. I spent my off duty time developing my Forever Avalon story, including world building, developing characters, and creating the stories behind the myths and legends of this fantasy world of mine. It was a breathtaking experience.

I finished writing my manuscript over the next few years, followed by editing and then researching publishers to send it to. It wasn’t until 2008, two years after I retired from active duty, that I was finally accepted by a publisher and my dream became a reality. Forever Avalon was published. Then, I stopped having my recurring dream. It was as if I was telling myself that I had to write this story and my job was done. I can’t explain it, I couldn’t if I tried, but this story was, and always has been, a part of me. Now, more than 20 years later, the story (at least, this part of it) is complete.

I don’t mean to sound overtly mysterious, but I can say I’ve already written Book Four in the Forever Avalon series, and started writing Book 5. I have one more trilogy planned before I completely finish this fantasy series altogether. To be honest, the same thing happened to me recently. I started having a dream about waking up at a crossroads in another world (do you see a pattern here…), nearly murdered, and resurrected with a “clockwork heart” to train as a magical warrior. This dream led me to write another new novel I recently finished, The Last Magus. I haven’t done anything with it yet as I’m still editing, but it’s cut from the same cloth.

I know a lot of these stories have been influenced by the movies and television shows I’ve watched and the books I’ve read. It’s the same for many authors; you are influenced by the experiences of your lifetime. The first part of this journey of mine is coming to a close, but I still have more stories to tell. To me, it’s just getting started.

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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 available for presale and will be released on 28 February 2020 from Austin Macauley Publishing.

The Outlander War now available for presale!

The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series is now available for presale! You can order your copy at Amazon UK! Here is a brief synopsis:

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.

UPDATE: The Outlander War is now available for pre-order on Amazon for your Kindle! It will be auto-delivered on 27 February to your device!

Thank you to everyone for the great support! Keep an eye out for a schedule of upcoming book signing and other events.

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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 Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for presale and will be released on 28 February 2020 from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Now that your book is published, it’s time to market the Hell out of it

The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon seriesI was happy to announce last week that my third novel, THE OUTLANDER WAR, is being published on 28 February 2020. Now comes the next daunting task… MARKETING! For an Independent Author, marketing is a dirty word. Why? Because, unlike authors signed to big publishing houses, we have to do it all ourselves.

From getting copies of your books for sale, paying for a booth for book signing events and festivals, buying marketing merchandise (i.e. bookmarks, flyers, banners, etc.) and sending out press releases to entice local media. It’s a daunting task, especially for someone working a full-time job while trying to become a full-time author. It can be exhausting.

To begin with, I already run my own social media on three platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) as well as this blog on WordPress. Thanks to a great FREE online and app, Hootsuite, I can easily schedule my posts. I try to plan for two a day, a week at a time, and then add additional posts as I need to. I try to include meaningful quotes from books, authors, anime and other media that interests me as well as the occasional writer’s meme. In addition, I push out images, reviews, and promotions for my books, in the hopes that people will buy it, read it, and review it.

I’ve been told, across more than one website, that you need reviews to build your presence, especially on Amazon, to gain more visibility. However, reviews cost (in some cases) and again, you’re spending money you haven’t even earned yet. I try to offer other authors a book exchange or a review for a review. It’s how we Independent Authors use our network to help each other. However, the unfortunate reality for most Independent Authors is that you spend more money than you make.

I spent close to $10,000 on a marketing campaign and attending a Hollywood marketing seminar during the release of my second book, The Dark Tides. I thought this would be my chance for a breakthrough so I spent the money. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay out. On top of that, there is a lot of scams out there trying to take advantage of desperate authors. I can’t tell you how many phone calls and emails I received about getting my book as a Netflix show, placed in international book fairs, etc. It’s mind blowing the corruption we face, just trying to make a name for ourselves.

I’ve already signed up for the Gaitherburg Book Festival, on Saturday, May 16, from 10am-6pm, at Bohrer Park, 506 S. Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg, Maryland. I’ll be selling signed copies of all three of my books. It’s free and open to the public. If you’re in the Washington, DC, area, I hope you’ll come out and support me.

I am an author and I’m going to continue to write and publish my books. I may not be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, but I will continue to try and find my niche, even though it’ll cost me more than I make in return. That’s the price of being a writer.

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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 will be released on 28 February 2020 from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Cover… Check! Interior Art… Check! Read through edits and proof manuscript… Double Check!

Well, I’m happy to report a other hurdle completed to publishing my third book, The Outlander War. Over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, I received the proof from my publisher to review. During that time, I spent my holiday vacation reviewing their edits, commenting on questions raised within my novel, and even suggested a few changes and edits myself. I find that reading it over for the hundredth time, and you still see different ways to tell the story.

The hard part is not over editing. You have to watch how much you change because it might affect the overall quality. I think, as a writer, we are consistently not satisfied with our work, and would continue to edit unless we stop ourselves. It’s the nature of the beast.

The biggest difference for me has been working with a publisher, Austin Macauley, in Great Britain. They use traditional, Old English, for certain words like honour, defence, realise, and artefact for example. It’s not a big deal, to me. The words still have the same meaning so it’s okay.

In fact, the one thing I will say is they gave me the best edit on one of my novels to date. It was clear, concise, and thoughtful. The biggest issue we had was on the term shield maiden. I had it capitalized throughout my novel, treating it as a proper name, but they thought that was excessive and should not be treated as such. In the end, we compromised. I made it lowercase in general references and capitalized it in titles.

Now I’m just waiting for the finished product, to see the final proof of everything together. This is the end of a journey that began more than 20 years ago. The story behind Forever Avalon has been incredible fun, any its not over yet. The first trilogy of this series may be complete, but the story goes on. More to follow as I get closer to its release. Thank you for all your support.

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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.

THE DARK TIDES “stands on its own” as a fantasy/adventure novel

The Dark Tides has been out for nearly four years, and every time I read a review, it warms my heart that I made the right choice in writing this novel. As the publication of the third book in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War, fast approaches, I thought I should share some of the great reviews of my second novel.

“This is the second book in this series and I did not read the first. But this Science Fiction/Fantasy easily stands on its’ own as long as you read the summary too. It has all the things I love in a good book – great characters, even if there are some trolls (literally). A strong morally centered main character, who is loyal to his wife even when separated (just did a little swoon there!) and creative minor story accessories! Those are things like the crossover of the two worlds and conversations about fast food and SpongeBob!

“This is an intense read, long and detailed, but in all the positive ways. The author does a really nice job transferring between worlds and time periods. I would also say that I would be comfortable with high school or above reading this book. If you want to get lost in a book for a while – this is one to jump into.”

— Jennie Rosenblum, 4 Stars (Goodreads)

Not everything was perfect, and I love the constructive criticism I find in reviews. It makes me a better author.

“This is an epic fantasy adventure that can be read as a stand alone book, even though it is a follow on book. This book goes into full detail about everything that happens in book one. This story is like reading two different books at the same time. In part we learn about Bryan’s life in medieval Avalon when he was separated from his family. We also then have the modern day story about how Bryan’s family are now doing since joining him in Avalon.

“With a mixture of magic, fantasy and lots of imagination, we see the dark forces rising in Avalon to fulfill a prophecy. They want to bring back and resurrect Morgana le Fay, a very powerful sorceress from the past. If they succeed, she will be able to unleash the Dark Tides to cause destruction so big. It would change the whole of Avalon forever.”

— Nikki Bywater, 3 Stars (Goodreads)

I will admit, though… When you get a 5 STAR review, it does warm the heart and make me feel good about what I’ve written.

“What a brilliant and fresh idea, bringing the Bermuda Triangle into a land of fantasy! I love the characters, especially the Gil-Gamesh, The invention of this whole new world is just amazing, My only fault really is that it’s a bit too long, it would have been a bit better if it was in two parts. It’s a book for children and adults alike, anyone who enjoys fantasy, with goblins, elves and dwarve, etc…. especially if you like ‘Lord of the Rings’, you will love this!”

— Caroline Jenkins, 5 Stars (Goodreads)

“The Dark Tides is the first fantasy book I have ever read, and I will certainly be reading more. The author sets out the scene for the upcoming conflict very well and creates a very rich and interesting lore filled with customs and traditions. It is fascinating to hear the history of Avalon and it’s characters, and each one is well developed with great personalities. I found this book immersive and exciting. Brilliant.”

— Christopher Pullin, 5 Stars (Goodreads)

So, my point of all of this is a shout out to people who read books, especially those by independent authors like myself. Leave a review and help up and coming authors like myself. Just writing a couple of sentences and clicking on a however many stars you want to leave helps. Good or bad, it’s the kind of feedback we need to help us in our journey as an author. Thanks for your support!

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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.

Cover reveal… THE OUTLANDER WAR, Book 3 of the Forever Avalon series

After a year of waiting, I’m finally able to reveal the cover for THE OUTLANDER WAR: Book 3 of the FOREVER AVALON series. This book completes the first trilogy of this series, after almost 20 years of writing these stories.

I actually started writing Forever Avalon during my last deployment in the Navy in 2001. It took me a few years to finish writing and editing it, and then a few more to get it published in 2009. The Dark Tides was published five years later in 2014 and now, before 2019 comes to a close, I hope to see The Outlander War join them.

My thanks to Austin Macauley for taking my vision for the cover and creating it to such an “Nth” degree. A battle between modern military forces and the Knights of Avalon can clearly be seen; and the floating dragon island of Emmyr takes the stage, front and center, on the cover. It’s a great cover.

This has been a journey complete for me in getting The Outlander War published; but believe me, I’m not done yet. There is another trilogy already in the works. I’ve written the fourth novel in the series and I’ve started writing the fifth. There are still more stories for me to tell about the island of Avalon.

Below is the synopsis for the story. I hope this first tease entices you to want to read all my novels. Thanks for your support!

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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. It was 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 reappeared suddenly, causing disruptions on both fronts. The U.S. Navy, now circling the mysterious island, wants answers. On Avalon, they fear Outlanders (as they call them) 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 no stranger to the outside world. He was once a U.S. 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, ancient evil stirs from within, one that has been seeking to sit on the throne of New Camelot for three millennia.

Can the forces of Avalon hold off the military might of the outside world? Can the barrier be restored in time before the conflict grows out of hand?

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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 Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

I cry when I write, okay? It doesn’t make me any less of a man, but it does make me a better writer!

Like most authors, I consider the characters in my novels like they are part of my family. I live, laugh, and love them with every word I write. And yes, when I have to kill someone off to move the story along, I cry. It has happened to me on numerous occasions, when I write, edit, and even when I read that part of my story again. The emotion is still with me, even after all that time.

I don’t cry over the villains. I mean, they’re villains… They need to die. But sometimes, the villains win and that’s when it gets hard. These wonderful characters you cultivate and grow through you words also have to die by your hand. It’s not easy.

I know what you’re thinking… “They’re not real! You’re such a wuss! Why do you care about imaginary people?” Well, they are real to me. I breathed life into those characters with every word typed or written down. I’m not going to compare it to motherhood, or giving birth, because that’s an insult to women. It’s not like that. I just see it as a parent-child relationship between a writer and its characters.

But when you think about it, it’s all about the story. You don’t just kill someone or hurt someone for no reason. It has to go with the flow of the story and make sense. Think about the “Red Wedding” in the Game of Thrones series. That was a horrific death scene for a number of characters, but when you think about it, it moved the story along. It gave a purpose, resolve and motivation to characters like Arya and others. As bad as it was, as unexpected as it was, it was necessary.

Crying when I write makes me feel my humanity. It bridges that fine line of fantasy and reality, of what’s real and imaginary as it relates to my characters, but I’ve dealt with that all my life. I played Role Playing Games (RPGs) my whole life. Characters could easily live, or die, in these games. When you’ve played a character for so long, you form an emotional connection. It’s especially strong when said character dies because of a stupid mistake or bad decision.

Here’s an excerpt from THE DARK TIDES to make my point. I can’t read this page, even now, without a tear welling up in my eye. I guess I am an old softie at heart.

FYI to anyone reading this excerpt who hasn’t read my novel yet… Yes, I named the Shield Maidens after Disney Princesses. I have two daughters, it was inevitable.

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Sarafina and her Shield Maidens fought their way down through the keep toward the dungeon. Lord Baldrid was happy to loan her an airship and company of Elves to rescue the Gil-Gamesh. Even Usage was with them, showing the quickest route to the dungeon, bashing a few goblin
heads along the way.

Merida led the way, clearing a path with her bow. Sarafina and Aurora followed close behind, slashing at the ones still standing with their swords. Usage directed them where to go while Ariel and Snow covered them from behind, keeping the Brood at bay with their pole arms. The Elves, led by Eonis, scattered the remaining Brood and goblins outside the keep from their airship Aerdrie Faenya. The airship rained down explosive volleys from their cannons, sending goblins flying off the keep’s defenses. Archers brought down the ones still standing in an
attempt to make the keep safe for landing.

Within minutes, Sarafina and her Shield Maidens made their way to the dungeon. They found the Gil-Gamesh hanging by the chains while Caleb Guoyle lay prone on the ground. Sarafina rushed to Bryan, checking if he’s still alive.

“Ariel, get him down!” Sarafina ordered as she and Merida held him up. Ariel pointed her trident at the locks around his wrists.

“Excido Portas!” she chanted as magical energy sparks from the tips of her weapon, opening the locks. Bryan’s body went limp as they eased him down to the ground.

“This one’s dead,” Snow exclaimed after checking on Caleb Guoyle, “though I doubt the Gil-Gamesh was able to do it.”

“It doesn’t matter who killed him. The Gil-Gamesh is dying,” Sarafina said as she checked his wounds. “We need to get him to the healers quickly.”

Bryan began to stir at the sound of Sarafina’s voice. He opened his eyes and saw her hovering over him as he smiled. “Hey you …” he moaned. “I knew you’d be the one to find me.”

“Of course I would,” Sarafina said, tears welling in his eyes. “You wouldn’t stop looking for me; I wasn’t going to stop until I found you.” Bryan smiled again as he closed his eyes and fell unconscious. “Father!” Sarafina screamed, trying to wake him up. “Father! Don’t leave me… Father!”

“Come on,” Aurora said motioning for Merida to help. “We have to get him back to the ship now.” Sarafina didn’t move, she just stared at the Gil-Gamesh.

“Sarafina! We’ve got to go now!” Merida shouted at her. Sarafina nodded her head, then stepped back as the two Shield Maidens lifted the Gil-Gamesh and started moving up the stairs. Snow and Ariel followed close behind.

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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 Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

The Dark Tides is heading to Germany!

This past week, I received a once-in-a-lifetime invitation to have my second novel, THE DARK TIDES, displayed and marketed at the 2018 Frankfurt International Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany, Oct. 10-14. This is an incredible honor for an independent author like me.

The Frankfurt International Book Fair is a major cultural event: around 7,300 exhibitors from over 100 countries, more than 275,000 visitors, over 4,000 events, around 10,000 journalists and around 2,400 bloggers make Frankfurter Buchmesse the world’s largest trade fair for publishing every year – and Frankfurt, the metropolis on the Main, the centre of the international media world.

Just thinking about the thousands of people who will get a glimpse of my book gives me hope that someone like me has a chance to make it as an author. I’ve been writing stories since high school–the early eighties, yes I’m old–but I didn’t become published until 2009.

I’ve struggled, as I’m sure many independent authors have, with the cost of artwork, editing, publishing and marketing. This is a huge event, but it’s also a risk that one book like mine could stand out among millions.

I want to thank LitFire Publishing for seeking me out and believing in my novel for this event. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be heading to Germany.

For those who may be unfamiliar with my novel, here’s an excerpt from THE DARK TIDES, explaining a bit of the background of the story in a conversation between Sir Percival, the first Gil-Gamesh, and Bryan Drake, the new Gil-Gamesh.

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Bryan’s dream were jumbled, filled with pain. He watched Donegal fall into an endless black void. His deathly screams caused Bryan pain. He also saw others floating in the darkness; a variety of men, women and creatures he’d never seen before. They writhed in anguish, as if their souls were being tortured by the darkness within sword.

Then his dream shifted; he saw a knight standing on a hillside surrounded by an eerie mist. The early morning sun began to rise in the distance. The man wore the two swords Bryan had used earlier around his waist. He turned around as Bryan walked up to him. He was an older man, dressed in plate mail armor, with brown hair and a beard, flecked with gray. He smiled at Bryan, putting him at ease.

“Greetings Bryan Drake, we have been expecting you,” he proclaimed.

Bryan was confused. “We?” he asked. “What do you mean?”

Appearing out of the mist were other knights like him, each wearing a different type of armor, clothing and hairstyles, as if he were looking at a timeline of history. The only thing similar about them was that they all looked very much alike, as if they were related in some way.

“Where am I?”

“I am Sir Percival Peredyr, first Gil-Gamesh of Avalon. We …” he exclaimed, motioning to the others, “… have been the protectors of sacred Avalon for thousands of years.”

“Gil-Gamesh? What is that?”

Percival placed his hand on Bryan’s shoulder and walked him through the ranks of knights. “It is a name I heard on my quest for the Holy Grail for good King Arthur. It was the name of a great hero in ancient Persia. It is the name I took as the champion of Avalon.”

“Avalon? You mean the mythical island from the King Arthur legend?” Bryan questioned him. Percival grinned with a devilish smirk, something he does from time-to-time.

“Yes, Bryan Drake, this is Avalon. But my story doesn’t begin here. It begins nearly 3,000 years ago. I was witness to the death of King Arthur at the hands of his son Mordred at the battle of Camlann. I retrieved his sword Excalibur and was about to return it to the Lady of the Lake when Merlin stopped me.”

“Merlin the Magician? The wizard who advised King Arthur?” Bryan asked. “He’s real too?”

“The one and the same … Merlin told me that with King Arthur’s death, the age of magic was coming to an end. He thought the only way to preserve the magic and all magical beings was to bring them here to Avalon.” Percival explained how Merlin combined his magic with that of Excalibur and opened up a mystic portal. Anyone touched by magic was whisked away to Avalon.

“Touched by magic? You mean like the dragon I saw earlier and the Dwarf too?” Bryan implied.

Percival nodded his head. “Dragons and Dwarves, unicorns and Elves, goblins and trolls … All things created by magic, as well as humans imbued with magic themselves. A new age had begun, but at a great cost.

“Excalibur was shattered, the Knights of the Round Table were decimated and the forces of evil began to gather themselves together. They wanted to wipe us from the face of Avalon forever. To aid in the coming battle, the Elves of Alfheimer and the Dwarves of the Gilded Halls took the broken pieces and forged them into the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon … Twilight and Dusk.”

Percival drew the swords and showed them to Bryan. “Twilight is the light of Avalon, a shining blade of pure starlight that can cut through anything. Dusk is the darkness within Avalon, a soul reaper that feeds on the souls of its victims to power the ungodly blade. I took up these swords, but not as a king, a champion for justice. I was the first Gil-Gamesh and that honor has been passed on from generation to generation.”

“I still don’t understand what any of this has to do with me?”

“Because, Bryan Drake, you are of my blood … my kin,” Percival told him, “And now you are the new Gil-Gamesh of Avalon.

“You wielded Twilight and Dusk in your battle with Donegal. The swords represent the balance between order and chaos, a balance needed to maintain the peace in our troubled lands. Only a true heir of Percival can wield the swords and become the Gil-Gamesh.”

“But why me and why now? I have a family that needs me. I need to get back to them,” he declared.

“Fate has brought you to Avalon, Bryan Drake” Percival chimed in. “It has always been your destiny to be the Gil-Gamesh. It is up to you to accept your destiny and determine the future of Avalon.”

Percival held out the swords to Bryan, as if to pass on the legacy of the Gil-Gamesh to him. Bryan seemed unsure to take them and Percival sensed his apprehension. “Avalon has been without a Gil-Gamesh for more than 500 years Bryan. The people need you.”

His words rang true—duty, honor and commitment—the same things that made Bryan join the Navy all those years ago. Somehow, someway, he was brought here for a reason. He didn’t like it but it was his only chance to live. Perhaps someday he could find a way home, but now he had to accept his destiny.

Bryan took the swords from Percival. “I don’t know what the future holds for me, but for now, I will do what is right.” The dream began to fade and the last thing Bryan saw before he floated back into darkness was the proud look on Percival’s face.

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

Book written… Check! Publisher found… Check! And now, onto the next

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So, the good news is I have a publisher for the third book in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War. My manuscript and author’s package has been submitted. They are currently editing the manuscript, creating the cover and interior artwork, etc. Now the fun begins.

I’ve been told by my publisher that the process can take up to ten months. I hope to use this time to talk about the publishing process here in my blog. First and foremost, I went with Austin Macauley Publishing. I know I’m going to get some backlash because of all the negativity surrounding them on the internet, but I read through all of that and saw a growing publisher with worldwide outreach.

Yes, I am paying them to publish my book, but I would be paying a cover artist, interior artist, editor, and marketing service to do all the things my publisher is doing for my book. To me, it even’s itself out. We’ll have to wait and see if my expectations pan out.

I tried to submit as “clean” of a manuscript as possible. I went through it a dozen times myself, with spell check, and I had a co-worker edit it as well. I’m hoping it will make a difference. I’ve had some good and bad experience with my previous publishers.

My first publisher, which is now defunct, barely edited my first book, Forever Avalon. They were only looking for punctuation, repeat words, and paragraph edits for layout. After my book was published, my mother gave me two pages of edits that I had to pay $75 to update the print. Harsh!

I had better luck with my second book, The Dark Tides. The publisher, iUniverse, gave me constructive criticism on my writing style, story line, story length, as well as grammar and punctuation. They would have done more, but that costs more money.

That’s the problem with being and independent author, self-published. You are paying out money to get published, editing, artwork, etc., until you get that big publishing contract we all dream about. It’s the old adage politicians and entrepreneurs love… “You have to spend money to make money.”

But writing isn’t about making money. Oh, dont get me wrong, I would love to spend my days writing my stories, and I hope it’ll come to that one day. I’m a storyteller and I love to tell you my stories. In the end, that’s enough for me.

As my journey progresses, I’ll keep you updated on the publishing process, through marketing and book events. Wish me luck!

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