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Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 in Foresight!

2012 is almost gone. Hard to believe isn't it? A lot has happened over this past year. My second child was born in February, I drove a 3,000-mile book tour to Colorado, my third novel was released in the Spring, I signed on with the MacGregor Literary Agency, and prior to Christmas I received the preliminary contract for the last four books in The Sword of the Dragon series!

So what is in store for 2013? Three new novels from Scott Appleton, all centered around The Sword of the Dragon series! The first is In Search of Dragons, the sequel to Key of Living Fire. Then I am going to release the first two books in my new series, Neverqueen! In the midst of all that I am going to try to finish my steampunk novel, Star Train.

Next month I will be working with an artist from Germany who will illustrate the Neverqueen books... Stay tuned folks! This is going to be a fun year!

In the mean time, AMG Publishers has reduced the cost of the Kindle version of Swords of the Six... Now only $2.99! Please tell your friends to check it out here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Entertainment and Pleasure: finding the healthy balance

It is amazing how easily we Americans sink into pleasures. We have so many opportunities and arguably this is the predominant factor in our decline as a society. Pleasure is good. God intended for us to enjoy things and people. But everything is best in moderation and our society is far from being moderate in our use of pleasure.

Pleasures can relax and rejuvenate us, or they can overwhelm our senses and steer us away from wisdom, prudence, and compassion. It is my prayer that, as a Christian author, my writings will entertain but also instruct in wisdom and encourage to holiness.

In the utilization of pleasure we must not forget the needy, the orphans, the widows, the handicapped, and those who are spiritually searching for the Hope that we have. That Hope, of course, comes by Jesus Christ.

What are your thoughts on pleasure and entertainment? Where do we go too far?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hope amid growing spiritual darkness

Especially after the results of the recent presidential election here in the U.S., people are scrambling to stay positive. We already know that the president is a strong supporter of abortion, the gay lifestyle, and liberal spending policies. The projections of financial planners and spiritual leaders points to the ruin of the freedoms we enjoy.

But I am not interested in re-hashing all of that. I was reminded the other day, while listening to the Christian radio station, that American Christians have lost sight of what really matters. We hear all around us the doom and despair, but where are the cheery countenances of thankful people pleased to live in the midst of darkness in order that their spiritual lights may brightly shine?

As Christians, we have a responsibility (no, a privilege) to look beyond the temporal world. We have hope, and a Hope empowering. As the world around us sinks into greater darkness, then and only then can the blinders of godlessness be removed from their eyes.

I feel that this country is like an old sailing ship. For over two hundred years we have dropped anchor in the port of Christ and let Him clean the barnacles off of our hull. Gradually we have made our stops more infrequent, until now our ungodly leaders think we are ready to do without a cleaning. And so the ship sets sail into the waters of the godless, little realizing how many holes the barnacles are opening. Will the ship sink entirely? It remains to be seen, but praise God we cannot sink with it. We have hope and assurance of rescue by the Lord himself who will take us out of this world.

If I could paint, I would paint a picture of our ship out in an ocean of deep blue. But surrounding the ship would be a pool of blood; the blood of the deceived souls who died there and the blood of the innocent babies murdered there.

Hope shines. This is our opportunity to show how great the Light is within each of us. This life is not about us... It is about those deceived souls who despise every fiber of what we stand for.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Star Wars VII; what's in store?

There was once a young boy who was playing on the floor in his Grandfather's house when all of a sudden he saw something that stirred within him a dream of fantasy stories embracing the power of good versus evil and the triumph of light over darkness. That boy was me, and that something was the movie Star Wars IV: A New Hope.

Have you heard the news? Disney bought out LucasFilm and in 2015 they are going to continue the Star Wars saga with a new film that will pick up where the original movies ended.

Some fans are worried that Disney will mess this up, but considering that Steven Spielburg's right-hand lady is at the helm... I think this is going to be fantastic. Disney proved with At World's End, and with the Voyage Of The Dawn Treader that they can do classic, darker films that do not just appeal to kids.

So what is in store in Star Wars VII? I am going to put my vote out there that Disney produce the Thrawn trilogy, based around Timothy Zahn's original novels.
What do you think? Will the blue-skinned master strategist finally make a film appearance?

Monday, October 22, 2012


Something that I find fascinating about the writing/creative process is the edit-as-you-go opportunities that present themselves. Unlike many writers that I have spoken with, I do not like to write an extremely rough draft of a book and then go back and make a ton of editorial changes. I tend to perfect the piece as I go along so that, at the back of my mind, there is a little voice saying, "You can move forward with this story because you've put your best into it."

My mother taught me good grammar and was very diligent to make sure I had put my best effort into my work. I think that instilled the right habits into my writing for the present day.

Would it surprise you to know that my third published novel, Key Of Living Fire, underwent only one major draft before I sent it to the publisher? And my editor was very pleased with the results. I say this because I believe that making our first efforts our best efforts is better than allowing a sloppy or second-rate job.

I imagine that some of the historical authors that I respect and admire did the same. They had to write it all out by hand, so the editorial process would have been even more involved if they did not pay attention to sentence structure, grammar, and the flow of the story. I can picture Jules Verne and H.G. Wells pondering hard over their stories before actually touching their quill to the paper.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stories that grow with the audience

I have been writing the second book in the Neverqueen series. These stories are an expansion to The Sword of the Dragon storyworld, following a new heroine, Violet, and the histories of the peoples along the Eiderveis River.
Something that I am noticing is, these stories (especially book 2) is a bit darker. And it deals with a few situations that will not fit with my younger readers. I am going to recommend these for older teens and adult readers.
There is a lot happening in the new storylines and I can hardly wait to share them with you!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Amazon gift card winner announced!

Solomon O Stone participated in the first giveaway of an Amazon gift card as a challenge on my Facebook page... And he is the winner! Congrats, and enjoy the free spending money!
To everyone else out there who is interested, I have lots more giveaways coming up. Keep an eye on my blog, website, twitter, and facebook for chances to win cool stuff!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The importance of an author's family

As I observe the conduct and conversation of people around me I have been reminded of the importance of my role as a husband and as a father. God has gifted me with great responsibility for the upbringing of little souls who can someday become effective Christians or shames upon His name and my soul.

My wife and I went to the park yesterday. It was my day off and I had planned a marvelous day for writing. I was going to get a lot done on one of my novels. But I realized that spending some family time was more important. I was not disappointed. Today I feel refreshed and ready to head to my hourly job.

As an author, I find it hard often to strike the right balance between family and work and creative time. But I am learning that if I put people first, God blesses my creativity and the works that I write.

Oh, how many lessons I have still to learn!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Contract in-the-works!

I just received word that AMG Publishers is eager to sign me on for the next books in The Sword of the Dragon series! So now I am ready to announce the final four books and their tentative titles:
  • In Search of Dragons
  • Last Grandeur Dragon
  • Wizard Wars
  • Sword and Savior
What do you think?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Key of Living Fire" Now available on Nook!

That's right! I just realized that the Nook version of my third novel Key of Living Fire is available. So head on over to your device and download (link here)... An adventure awaits you in those fantastic digital pages!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Free excerpt! NEVERQUEEN

Enjoy this excerpt! from the first book in my upcoming series: Neverqueen

(book 1)

Chapter 1: The Child
Gliding on a howling wind, the It’ren creature angled her feathered wings beneath the dark clouds toward the castle far below. Night robed her as if with invisibility. Her lips curled in a snarl and she spit. Again the wind howled over the thick forests surrounding the Eiderveis River. But she was far from that river, far from the sea that fed it to north.
Her gaze swept over the trees, riveting on the castle’s portcullis. The man had been foolish to build here. Here this It’ren had found him. Here she would again please her master by her deeds.
The It’ren descended and circled high above the castle bulwarks. A child’s cry pierced the air and she turned her human face in the direction of the central tower. Yellow light washed out of a broad latticed window, shadows played within it and the child’s mother laughed. “Child, sweet little pineapple of mine!”
Diving toward the bulwarks, the It’ren perched on them. She folded her brown feathered wings to her human body and leaned toward the sound, barely noticing the vast distance to the castle courtyard.
The infant’s cries softened and the mother carried it toward the window. The woman had pearl-black skin and thick hair that flowed down her waist. She wore a silken dress as green as spring grass, while round her neck hung a white animal fur. From this distance it was difficult to see—nay, impossible. Did the child indeed bear the mark? She hissed into the wind. The moment had come to see that white-eyed infant for herself.
Crouching and spreading her wings, the creature tensed her sinewy arms. Her eyes could see clearly the courtyard below, even discern into some of its shadows. Every door and window in the walls, the hold, and the central tower. In the darkness her vision was superior to any man’s. A chilly breeze struck the castle. She flexed her wings and pulled her robe closer to her neck.
The clouds cracked behind her and moonbeams shone through, glowing along the edges of each stone structure—and casting a human shadow alongside of her. She pivoted on her foot and there stood one of the guards, bedecked in chainmail armor.
“An It’ren?” He frowned down at her and raised a war hammer in his fists. “When will the last of you foul creatures die?”
“Not before you!” she hissed. She snapped her head back and brought it to bear on his. The man stumbled backward as she high-kicked her calloused foot into his neck. First his war hammer dropped. He grasped his neck, stepped back, and tripped on the battlements. His eyes wide and his mouth opening in a soundless cry, he fell as clouds covered the moon once again and darkness reigned over Ostincair Castle. Far below the man’s body splashed into the moat.
“Intruder!” someone cried. And the call echoed from watchmen in all corners of the private fortress.
Two men clattered in her direction, waving torches and keeping their hands to short swords at their waists. The It’ren spat, then flattened against the wall as they passed.
The It’ren, Farsil, perched in the twisting branches of the treetops surrounding Ostincair Castle. Her heart pounded as dark windows along the fortress walls and towers glowed with warm yellow light. The heavy twin doors along one wall opened onto the narrow dirt road that led northward through the forest. A group of spearmen followed two guards out of the castle and onto the road. The guards, lanterns held before them, wove around the outer wall until they stumbled upon their companion’s body.
“It’s Edolt. He’s dead!” The guard who’d spoken knelt beside the body and spiced his words with venom. “His throat has been crushed.”
The other guard turned to the spearmen and waved his arm. The contingent lifted the body and hustled back to the entry doors where other lanterns appeared. “Captain of the guard, you must alert Lord Ostincair that we have an intruder.”
The voices faded and the great doors squealed as someone pulled them shut. Lanterns danced along the castle bulwarks and down the stairs that curved in front of the keep. They were searching, but Farsil knew that only by a miracle could the intruder be stopped. She stretched her wings and leaned into a cool breeze, gliding toward the keep and the lighted window. Surely the child was there.
Lord Ostincair marched down the high arched hallway, five swordsmen tiptoeing behind him. A hundred feet in front of him lay the door to the stairs, which if he followed would lead him upstairs to the living quarters. His wife was there. He had spoken with her only an hour ago before making his rounds of the castle’s outer walls, as was his custom. The security of her and their child filled his heart with resolution. The river had chosen him, and he had chosen her, and nothing could be allowed to break her from him.
The columns along the long hallway were filled with ominous shadows, and above him the stone ceiling faded into darkness. In his mind he recollected the mysterious disappearance of his child’s nursemaid. It did not seem that long ago, and still he had no definitive clues as to what had happened to her. Had she run away? No, he doubted it. Someone had taken her, and he could guess why. With a lantern in one hand and his short sword in the other, Ostincair narrowed his eyes for a penetrating gaze into the shadows. “Spread out! The south entrance door was ajar. I want to make sure nothing came inside.”
Other lanterns flickered into existence and he glanced from one to the next, confirming they were all members of his personal force. A guard skirted a column, glancing up and down, while another held a lantern toward the wall and walked its length. On the opposite side of the hall other guards followed suit. Doors slammed shut and lantern-armed guards stood at the sealed doors as the search continued.
Silence held for a long while. Ostincair relaxed his shoulders a bit and walked toward the door leading to his family chambers.
From the dark ceiling something shrieked and he glared upward. Like a falcon diving for prey, an It’ren slipped from the shadows along a beam. She landed on a guard behind him in a flurry of her feathered wings. As the guard stumbled to the floor a knife flashed in the lantern light, slashing his throat. A nearby swordsman stabbed at the It’ren’s head, but she side-rolled and kicked him hard on the side of his exposed neck.
Ostincair rushed at the creature as the guard crumpled to the stone floor. But the It’ren spread her wings and launched itself high into the shadows. Though he peered intently from one arching beam to the next, he could not sight her.
A guard soon ushered a dozen spearmen into the hall, and closed the door again behind them. The spearmen huddled around Ostincair, with spears at the ready to throw should the creature show itself again. “What are we hunting, Ostincair?” one man murmured.
Ostincair hesitated. For years he had thought— Perish the idea! He knew what he had seen. “An It’ren.”
“It’ren?” The man pulled at his long beard, then directed his dark face back at the ceiling. “I thought they went extinct years ago!” he whispered.
Ostincair firmed his jaw. “Never underestimate the will of a species to survive.”
“Do you think it has come for your wife, or the child?”
“It will have neither!” Ostincair ordered the guards to stand watch for the creature while he proceeded to the door. Before ascending the stairs of the keep, he turned and shouted, “Do what must be done. Kill the creature before it can do further harm to any of us. I will return shortly.”
The guards shouted an affirmation and he slammed the door closed behind him.
A great drop of blood fell from the rafters overhead to the stone floor. Soon this was followed by a rain of feathers and more blood so that the guards glanced at one another, wide-eyed. Something shuffled along the rafters, but the light of their lanterns did not reach high enough to reveal the shadows.
One guard slipped out a side door and returned with a torch. He ran along the hallway walls, sparking flames in the torches hidden in the darkness there. As the torches flamed the sounds of scratching and thuds echoed through the structure.
Grabbing the torches, the guards lifted them toward the sounds overhead. But they could see nothing. More feathers fell to the floor, then the noise stopped.
“All right, what is going on out here?” said Ostincair as he reentered the hall.
In an instant, an It’ren shot over his head and crashed into the stairwell. But it sprang to its feet, wings shivering, and darted up the steps.
“After it!” Ostincair rushed upstairs, his guards tramping behind. But he was too late.
When he burst into the oval room at the top of the stairs, the iron chandelier splashed flickering light over his young wife. Her beautiful eyes had been closed forever. She lay dead across the now-empty crib, and the large window had been shattered.
“No,” he whispered. He lifted her into his arms and started walking to the bed. His chest felt ready to burst as tears flowed down his cheeks. Laying her body on the bed, he stroked her black hair away from her face. His fingers looked pale against the blackness of her skin. “So beautiful,” he sobbed. Then he ran to the window and shouted into the night, “I will kill you, It’ren!”
As soon as he gripped the sill and leaned over it to gaze on the castle below, the gaunt It’ren’s hissing face shot up. Her boney cheeks made her look freakish in the dim light. She grabbed his shoulder and yanked him outside.
Lord Ostincair cried out, more from rage than from surprise. His last thought as he fell toward the buildings far below, was to glare back at the creature. Certain death awaited him when he crashed into the stones below. If he could have done it over, he would have dragged the It’ren with him.
The guards cried out, several of them grasping at the It’ren. But it spread its wings and flew off into the darkness. As night swallowed the creature from sight, the guards heard the cries of the stolen infant. They were faint and distantThey gazed down into the courtyard below just as Lord Ostincair crashed into one of the roofs.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My shoes

Yep, this is a post about my shoes. Well, this is about what my shoes represent in the context of my writing career.

I realized that I have had the same dress shoes since I was in my teens. Yep, I think my parents bought these Dockers for me when I was fifteen. Remarkably they are still comfortable, and I have never used insoles in them. The leather still looks great, and the soles show only moderate wear.

Just as these shoes were crafted to endure the test of time, so I am working to craft stories that will endure. Not through their entertainment elements only, but I pray they will be treasured for their spiritual benefit by generations to come. A story can be a simple tale, if the writer wants it to be (or allows it to be) or it can become much more.

As you read Swords of the Six, Offspring, Key of Living Fire (and the other books that will be coming in the next few years) look for elements of my "soul" in the writing. My heart, my passion for stories comes from a creative God and I want to make them the best they can be.

What sticks out in your mind as a timeless story?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Neverqueen (book 2) The Suffering Challice

In the midst of starting a full-time sales job, I am working on another fantasy novel. You have heard me talking a bit about my offshoot series from The Sword of the Dragon, this one titled Neverqueen. The idea at the moment is to release the first TWO books in the Neverqueen series simultaneously in 2013 with a focus on ebook promotion and sales.

In lieu of that, I have started writing Neverqueen: The Suffering Chalice. The story is going to be a lot of fun. In particular I am excited about one concept in the story: a chalice that is literally suffering. In some way I want the chalice to be alive. Sound intriguing? I hope so... I know I am looking forward to finding out where this story takes me!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oganna, maiden in the balance

I absolutely love the character of Oganna. She epitomizes for me, as readers no doubt realize, an unselfish, hard-working, godly young woman. Unlike many characters in The Sword of the Dragon series, Oganna changes little despite the whirlwind of battles that come her way.

Although her role in Key of Living Fire was small, let me assure you here role in the next four books in The Sword of the Dragon series will be pivotal. She was the one constant in my original manuscript (a whopping 135,000-words that details the entire series).

Oganna is the thread that holds the puzzle of this series together. And how can we not root for her? After all, she was responsible for bringing the Megatraths into the fold!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review worth reading!

Every now and again I enjoy pointing out a great review from a new reader.

Today I'd like to direct your attention to a review that popped up on Amazon. This reviewer understood the message of my story very well. Thank you to everyone who has posted a review online!
This review is from: Swords of the Six (Paperback)
Having read Donita K. Paul and Bryan Davis (both Christian authors who write stories about dragons), I discovered Swords of the Six and couldn't resist that beautiful white dragon on the cover. Fortunately, my local library had a copy and I picked it up.

The story itself is exciting, creative, and well-thought-out. Characters are appealing and the descriptions are gorgeous, allowing an open-widowed-view of this fictional world. Despite being aimed at a Christian crowd, Swords of the Six could easily appeal to fans of secular authors, such as R. A. Salvatore and J. K. Rowling. Swords of the Six is much different from such secular authors, however, in that it steers clear of language, sex, and portraying the occult in a positive light. Positive themes--such as forgiving one's enemies, being true to your friends and family, the sanctity of marriage, and the sacredness of human life--abound.

The biggest difference between Appleton's stories and those of Davis or Paul is the maturity level. The opening chapter, and chapters further into the story, have very adult themes of death, and many characters meet their untimely end. Violence is detailed in some instances, such as a scene where the great white dragon, Albino, bites a man in half and his guts drip from the dragon's jaws. While violence in Swords of the Six is never without cause (such as defending an innocent, self-defense, battling evil, etc.), it may be a bit too graphic for the younger members of the family. For a young adult crowd, or those comfortable enough with the mature nature of the story, however, this is a riveting tale of good and evil that you can sink your dragon-sized teeth into.

Kudos, Mr. Appleton! I look forward to reading the rest of your series. :D

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Specter, a man apart from others

The Sword of the Dragon series has wrapped up over a thousand published pages... so far. Specter has seen those he loved betray him, he has slept the passage of a thousand years, and he has stood as the beloved and heroic guardian of the dragon's human offspring.

I have greatly enjoyed the evolution of his character. In many ways he is the Pilgrim in these stories; he just has not determined his exact destination. But the events of Key of Living Fire have set him on a new path; an unexpected journey that diverges his path from that of Ilfedo and Oganna.

To fans of Specter, I utter this dark promise: that though Specter's journey has diverged from our main characters, his journey will be followed in a separate series of books entirely focused on him. The storyline is building in my mind and soon will make its marks on paper and in my trusty laptop.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"Key of Living Fire" on Kindle and iBooks!

For those of you with e-readers, my third novel "Key of Living Fire" is starting to appear on your devices!

If you own a Kindle, or an iPad (or an iPod) my third novel is now published to those stores!

Get it today! Especially if you have not read the print edition yet. According to readers, this is my best work yet.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hugo (the movie)

Sometime ago I saw previews for this movie and it caught my eye with its emphasis on clocks (which have always fascinated me) and its curca-1800's appeal. I found the dvd in my library the other day and decided to try it out.

I am not going to rate this movie on a scale of how many stars out of five. In this case, I believe it would be ineffective.

From an artistic standpoint this movie is sometimes lovely and sometimes unfinished. Perhaps this is purposeful, as much of the story revolves around the son of a clockmaker who learns that people can be fixed, too, not just machines.

The story is slow... indeed it is very slow in many places. If you enjoy an action-packed film then you will most likely hate this one. However, if you appreciate an examination of humanity from the unique perspective of the early days of motion pictures, this may just be your ticket to a rewarding piece of entertainment.

Humor in this film is odd, I could say very odd, with moments that are obviously meant to be funny not seeming funny at all. However, the connection between the boy Hugo and the shiny little automaton that his father left him, is quite heartwarming.

I come away from this movie mulling over its many facets and wondering if they all came together, or if the film's producers just didn't know that they needed to abridge it in order to make it shine. All in all, a good one-time-view, but I will not be buying it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

From aweful to fantastic?

I am probably going to get booed for saying this, but I really do not like the movie Wizard Of Oz. It was melodramatic and distasteful in its design.

Last year when I bought my iPad I rediscovered The Wizard of Oz when I downloaded the book for free. For those of you who are unaware, this book is a classic about an ordinary man who keeps up a facade to protect his people from the witches. He is not a wizard, but everyone believes that he is, including his enemies. The story is charming to say the least and ingenious on many levels. I greatly admire the work.

Recently I reviewed the new Spiderman movie and one thing I forgot to mention is that I really missed James Franco's portrayal of Harry Osborn. So yesterday when I watched the trailer for next year's Disney re-imagining of Oz and saw Franco as Oz, I was pulled in. This movie looks like a classic.

So now we have two big fantasy movies on the horizon: The Hobbit Christmas 2012, and Oz the Great and Powerful March 2013.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Venture into children's books

I have been sticking 11x14" sheets of paper on our living room wall for the past month now. Having two little kids of my own, I have been inspired to write a children's book for them! It is time-consuming but very enjoyable. A few people have asked about this project, in part because I have been so vague about it. I am trying to develop my own style along the lines of Virginia Lee Burton, who illustrated one of my favorite children's books: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. So here is a glimpse, if you're interested, of A Home for the Little Table (-:

Monday, July 23, 2012

The amazingly empowered reader

In the last eight years I have seen the shrinking respect that the general public has for professional critics. The most obvious example of this is the movie critic, but the same is vastly true of the book industry now, too. As the reading public, we don't often think the same way as a hired critic. We would rather hear what other readers have said.

Enter the broad range of reviews found today on blogs, websites, and social networks. Readers are flocking to Amazon to read the reviews before they buy a book. How do I know? Because half of the customers I run into at Barnes & Noble and other retail locations, tell me that they will check out the reviews on Amazon.

I like this. I like it a lot. It empowers the reader to look past the clique of professional critics, and instead consider it from the point-of-view of other book lovers.

What are your thoughts on this?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Five-star Amazon review for Key of Living Fire

Just noticed this review posted to 
I love getting feedback like this, and I have been getting a lot of it lately!

"This was an amazing book! It wasn't published when I started reading this series so I had to wait to get it. This book was the most adventurous, nail-biting book of the series so far! This book has the same amazing characters as the first two but it is packed with far more adventure. I can't wait for the last four books to come out!"
Kayleigh (13 years old)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Web-focused marketing

It seems that I have always enjoyed learning. Whether it is reading a new book, going to new places, or meeting new people. Now, it seems, I have hit a new learning curve in my author/writing career. After a long discussion with my agent, I have decided to focus my marketing efforts online for the foreseeable future. Does this meant that I will not be holding book signings? No. Definitely not. As a matter of fact I have a signing this weekend:
Henny Penny gas station, Madison CT, 1-5pm this Saturday

Moving forward, I will have a professional website designed and will be creating some study materials for youth groups. I need to narrow my marketing focus instead of trying to hit everyone. So I will be focusing on my bulk audience/most receptive readers; the Christian teens. I am very excited about this as it has the potential to enlarge my following in stronger, more spiritual ways.

Web savvy does not describe me, so please pray that I will have wisdom in learning and disciplining myself to maximize my use of the web to spread the word about my books.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman -a review

The reincarnation of the popular superhero is now out in theaters and left quite an impression on me. I will begin by saying that the prior trilogy of Spiderman movies was enjoyable, but they lacked something that I think this movie doesn't. Warning: The Amazing Spider-man is quite a bit darker than the prior series, so I recommend you not bring your younger viewers. The villain is dark in a vicious way.
Relationships are portrayed in a refreshing manner, instead of the constant "I can't be with you anymore because" kind of lines. Was anyone else getting tired of Peter's attachment games with Mary Jane? The guy had very little guts.
The new Spiderman attaches himself to the viewers on an emotional level in a more realistic way, and the actors played their parts smoothly.
In some ways I found the storyline predictable as it rehashed some of the incidents we've come to know in Spidey's past. But the writers did a great job keeping the story on track with clever dialogue and snippets of original humor.
The only things that kept this from a five-star rating, for me, was some language and a bit of suggestive material. I do not recommend this for kids.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Picture this...

Picture an engine similar to this soaring into the sky and out of Earth's atmosphere, a line of passenger cars in tow. Imagine that you are a passenger aboard The Star Train! Coming in my new novel.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Star Train -research phase

Trains have fascinated me for a long time. Steam powered trains, in particular, with their style and raw power. The trains of the 1800s opened up the western states to settlers, entrepreneurs, and fortune hunters. Without trains the United States of America would have continued to rely on rivers, canals, and lakes to transport people and goods over great distances.

Steampunk is a genre of fiction defined in this way: A subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.

I have always loved science fiction and at last I have an idea for a book series that works and I am totally consumed by! 

Star Train is going to take you on a wild ride! It is future earth in Kansas, USA. After the heartbreaking loss of his space yacht and its pilot, Dallas Applewood starts a summer project with his grandchildren to restore an 1800s steam train engine to its former glory. But the project expands as they transform the train into a space-worthy vessel capable of ferrying tourists from planet to planet. Someone else wants the project to succeed, too, but not for honest purposes!  

I am over 20,000-words into writing this novel; almost a quarter of the way finished. I am in the research phase, reading a book on steam locomotive history and doing various other research. The pictures included in this post I selected to give you an idea of the style of train that I am going to make fly through space. The picture at the top of this post is almost exactly how I picture it... albeit with technological advances attached to it! Expect the first book to be written by end of this summer.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why the dark and the light?

Fantasy fiction has been widely criticized in the Christian community, and I think this is justifiably so. Much of the fantasy published by Christian companies is little more than an attempt to do one of two things: 1) sell to fans of major phenoms such as Harry Potter, or 2) make fantasy friendly to readers who don't care for the genre. I would like to quickly focus your attention on the second point because in the last few years I have found that most would-be-authors are writing something that is either too generic or too watered down.

In writing my stories, especially in creating The Sword Of The Dragon series, I make the good as bright as I can, and the evil as dark as I can. Why? Because in the contrast of these, readers find the power to move outside of the 'gray' moral area and become the heroes and heroines they wish to be. Light shines brightest when seen against a dismal background.

It is my hope that, when reading my books, readers find themselves drawn to Specter, Ilfedo, Oganna, and other heroic characters. It is my hope that readers cringe in the darkness, then thrust it aside with a cry of "I will not be vanquished!"

Which examples of heroes (or heroines) gives you the courage to stand for God?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Expanded storyworlds

Some of the best examples of expanded storyworlds are science fiction series such as Star Trek and Star Wars, as well as fantasies such as Dungeons And Dragons. These series have been expanding from their original storylines for many years. For the purpose of this post, let's focus on one of the best examples of an expanded universe: Star Wars.
Star Wars at my last check has 6 feature films, 4 television season, and over 200 novels. That doesn't even touch video games, book series for kids, guides, etc. This is an impressive record. It tells fans "Star Wars is a classic. Star Wars is here to stay."

The success of The Clone Wars series on Cartoon Network is now bringing in the next generation of young fans to Star Wars. Not only is an expanded universe smart from a business perspective, it is also a whole lot of fun!

As an author, I consider the potential in my stories for expanded universes. My series The Sword Of The Dragon has a lot of expansions in-the-works, and my newest project Star Train has similar potential.
Expandable storyworlds are important to readers and pivotal to establishing a loyal and growing fan base. In my next post I will discuss the expanded universe of my series The Sword Of The Dragon.
What expanded storyworlds do you follow?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Character names--potential often left unexplored

Merlin, Voldemort, Frodo, Captain Nemo, Lancelot, Aslan... when you hear these names they immediately draw you into other worlds. They are distinct in their application to stories we know and love.

There is a trend with some editors at publishing houses that seems to ignore the power of original character names; names that have been invented by the author. In Christian fantasy there is little encouragement to be creative with names. I was pushed a few times to change several of my characters' names in The Sword of the Dragon series, but I think it is essential to creating a story world that people are drawn to and will live on as a classic.

When readers are finished with the third book in my series The Sword of the Dragon, I think they will not be able to hear the names of Specter, Oganna, Cromlin, and Valorian without their minds racing back to The Sword of the Dragon series.

Q: What character names have the power to pull you back to a favorite book or series?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thoughts on book promotion?

As you all know I focus a lot of my efforts on hand-selling my books. But things are financially very tight right now and so I am trying to focus on other ways of spreading the word to new readers who will enjoy my series.

I am looking for an hourly job at the moment. Once I have secured one, I will look into doing some advertising.

But what primarily interests me is growing my online following. I would love to hear ideas from my fans on how to reach readers by growing my online presence. I know that there are ways to do it, but I'm not sure how.

For certain, I know that I need to exchange my current website (which is flash-based) to an html format. This is especially important due to the popularity of iPads, smartphones, and similar devices. Flash sites do not translate on those devices, and an html site can be optimized for better search results, thus driving more traffic to my website.

If anyone can recommend a good book for online marketing, please do.

I am skilled at sales. Now I need to translate out of my comfort zone and learn how to develop a truly impressive online presence.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Key Of Living Fire" It has arrived!

Today, at long last, FedEx dropped off my author copies of my third novel! This is good news for all my eager fans. The book has shipped from the publisher's warehouse and will begin hitting stores and online retailers next week. If you have already ordered this book, I know you'll enjoy it! And if you have not: What are you waiting for? (-:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Coming soon! I promise!

I have received a lot of complaints that my third novel isn't out yet. I've heard from a LOT of readers who are impatiently waiting this book's release. I just looked at Amazon and Barnes & Noble; they are saying May 10th is the release date.

So hang on just a little longer... Key Of Living Fire is coming!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Why would you buy it?

If you run into a salesman in a store, why would you buy the product  he is pushing? This is important in the book industry. Every author wants readers to buy their book. But every author has to consider that they have to convince buyers to hand over their money for that product.

The key to success is: the product must stand out. In today's world with many thousands of new books being published each year, your title melts into the sea of choices... unless YOU make it stand out.

Publishers do not effectively market books for untried and newer authors. It is up to you to meet your readers where they are at. Tell them why your product is different. But (and this is going to sound a bit contradictory) do not push your product. A good product merely needs to be introduced; the buyer will make that final decision. If they seem on-the-fence, invite them to open the book and read a portion.

Ask yourself: Why would you buy it if you were that customer?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Finding fulfillment: how?

I think Sunday is the best day to discuss fulfillment. It is the day that most people head to church to re-center themselves around God and their spiritual condition.

Money, power, spiritual growth... In what do we find fulfillment? Or what should we find fulfilling?

As I look at my family, I have a wonderful wife and two young children. My little boy is a year-and-a-half and he is full of energy. He finds fulfillment in the simple things: looking at a book, listening to music, playing with his toys. I find my greatest fulfillment in seeing smiles on my wife's and kids' faces (my baby girl is very smiley!)

But I also find fulfillment in writing. Through writing I can express my heart. I can relieve it of its pain, rejoice in good times, etc. I can take readers on a spiritual journey that is part of everyday life. I want readers to learn through the fictional characters in my stories. I want them to consider: how they treat people, and whether they stand firm on their principles.

"This life is only a vapor. It will soon pass. Only what is done for Christ will last." -unknown source

I cannot remember where I heard that, but it is so terribly true.

Consider today: How do you find fulfillment?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Why have I signed with an agent?

For the past couple years I have been following Chip MacGregor's blog. He is an agent in the CBA market of great reputation, and I have watched as his agency grows and expands with a carefully selected few: talented, enthusiastic, and energetic people. 

Back in 2006 when I first interested AMG Publishers in my The Sword of the Dragon series, I also acquired an agent. But after nine months that agent decided she wasn't going to do fantasy after all. Fortunately for me, I was already working with AMG toward a contract. Two years later the contract failed to happen, so I self-published and sold enough copies that AMG again looked into my books.

When AMG offered me the contract I considered looking for a literary agent because 1) they understand contract language and negotiation, and 2) I considered that future projects could be shopped to other publishing houses.

I decided not to 1) because I didn't want to give 15% of my royalties to an agent, and 2) I felt I had a good handle on what I wanted from AMG.

My first AMG novel has been out for over a year now, and I've found that I need someone in my corner with the publishing houses. Someone who can 1) connect my projects with publishers looking for them, 2) shop foreign and subsidiary rights, and 3) help guide my career so that I end up making a good living at what I do.

MacGregor Literary Agency added Amanda Luedeke to their roster and at a recent point she wrote a series of posts on Chip's blog. I found her refreshing, driven, and imaginative, and kept my eye on her progress from then on. 

Today I am pleased to announce that, after a lengthy phone conversation with Amanda, she is signing a contract with me as my agent. I am very excited about this. With all of the book touring I've done, the writing, and the editing, I can't take the time to attend enough writer's conferences or retail shows to make the contacts I need, and land good contracts. Amanda has those contacts and I thank God for this opportunity to work with a strong agency, and an agent who is keen on the very genres I love to write.

Here are a couple links for more info:

Friday, April 27, 2012

What do you see in the mirror?

Isn't it interesting how different we all are? Some of us can't stand the reflection in the mirror because they want to see someone else; the person they always dreamed they could be. Others calmly view their life as the success they are proud to have achieved. But some others make all of us feel sick because they are so absorbed by their wealth, power, and influence.

Look in the mirror. What do you see? The future of compassion and good will that will make God pleased with you? Or, do you see a stagnant individual whose only drives are making more money, buying more things, and living in more classy places?

Look in the mirror, because if you are an ordinary person with humility and determination, you can become an extraordinary individual. Look in the mirror, because if fame and fortune smile on your future, you will have to work at staying the person you are.

Look in the mirror. Fame and fortune deepen corruption, and they empower the wise.

Look in the mirror. What kind of a person do you want to see in there fifteen years from now?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Who do you want to be?

Who do you want to be? Or maybe a more accurate phrasing of the question is: What do you want to be?

Each of us chooses a path in life that leads to successes and failures, and ultimate success or ultimate failure. Do you want to be an author? Then what is your message? Who are the people you want to reach?

I have known too many individuals who say they want to be something great, but they let failures shape them instead of their successes. Be a winner! Fall when you must, but always get back to your feet and try again until you succeed. When I started writing I determined that I would not fail. I would succeed in spite of the odds; in fact, even use them to drive me to greater success. When people told me I couldn't do it because so few writers get published, I let their words fuel my drive to prove them wrong.

So who are you? The next phenom, or the next common person with uncommon dreams that will let those dreams slip away?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Home again... and making plans!

The tour is now over. I am tired but I feel great! Nothing compares to working my dream job. I met new fans and drove over 6,000-miles in the process. Yep, that was a lot of driving, but I sold over 300 books.

Now, you might ask, what comes next? Firstly, I am looking for an hourly job so that over the summer I can clear away some debt. And then, as soon as I am financially able, my wife and I will shop for an appropriate RV. That's right; I am going to be on the road, touring, almost non-stop. I will have an author's dream flexibility. I can bring my family and home with me wherever I go. Surely this will have its share of challenges, but what in life doesn't? And at least I will be doing what I love to do. My hope is to hit the east coast down to Florida and then head westward toward California. Oh what adventures lie in store!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tour nearing its end

Since starting this book tour, I have driven over 5,000-miles. Over 300 books have sold, and I've spoken to hundreds of middle school students. New fans have been reached, and I have seen some wonderful new places.

When returning through Kansas I was supposed to have a signing at a Barnes & Noble in Wichita, but that was canceled last minute. Evidently the city was struck by tornadoes that very day I was supposed to be signing there. But I did have a signing at Barnes & Noble in Columbia, Missouri. I sold about 25 books in 3-1/2 hours.

I am back in Kentucky now. In the last few days I've visited two middle schools. I have one more school tomorrow, then I'm off to West Virginia. On Saturday I have one more event (Barnes & Noble) before driving home.

Being away from my wife and kids this long has proved very difficult. I have decided not to do this again. My plan is to buy a quality used RV this Fall, so that my wife and I can travel non-stop around the country. We can visit places we've wanted to see, and I can hold book signing events that will continually grow my readership. My plan is to haul my car behind the RV. That way we can park at camp grounds and have the use of the smaller transportation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Colorado Tour

I spent yesterday and today visiting Mountain Ridge Middle School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Pike's Peak rises in the distance and is visible from all the rear-facing windows, making for a scenic educational site.
This school was wonderful to visit as the staff and students are very courteous. They have a lot of readers; in particular readers of YA fantasy! Yesterday I only sold a few books, but today I signed 32!

Yesterday I drove through the Valley Of The Gods. There are such stark contrasts in the terrain out here. It is like visiting a scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Some of the photos turned out better than others and I've posted a few of them below.

Friday, April 6, 2012

From Kansas to Pike's Peak!

A fourteen-hour drive yesterday brought me to Colorado. I'm staying with friends in sight of Pike's Peak. I love the smell of mountain air!

These first two picture were taken on the highway in Kansas
Then I drove into Colorado and glimpsed the mountains in the distance. It is unbelievable how flat everything was up until I reached the mountains. Check out the picture below that I took of Pike's Peak from the deck:
If you live in the Colorado Springs area, meet me at 4 o'clock for a book signing at Barnes & Noble (Citadel location).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rockwood South Middle School presentation

I had a great time today at this middle school. I spoke to around 300 students and they responded very enthusiastically.
They held a drawing to give away five copies of my first novel. I drew the names out of a box... which was a lot of fun!
Tomorrow I am signing at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Fenton MO. The trip is going well so far. I do want to step up the number of books selling, but praise God I have the opportunity to do what I love!

Monday, April 2, 2012

I got shot!

I arrived in Missouri just in time to get in for a quick acting stint... When I say quick... I mean a very SHORT stint. But if you like seeing authors getting shot, like this video.

Monday, March 12, 2012

My fantastic upcoming tour!

Well... many of you have heard me talk about taking another big book tour. It is happening ...starting next weekend!

Look at the sidebar on my blog for events that have been booked.

States included in this tour so far: Kentucky, Missouri, and Colorado. I'm working to make a stop in Kansas, too. If you live in these states and would like to stage an event, please let me know. Homeschool groups and schools, etc.

Monday, March 5, 2012

"The Ashes Of Eden": Creating memorable book titles

A good title will grab a potential book-buyer's attention. But coming up with such a title is not easy.

I have read a lot of books in many genres, and a good book title always helps make that book more memorable. But as an author I often struggle with what are the right titles for my latest projects. So, I have made a practice of reviewing and listing which titles stand out in my memory.

Being a big fan of Star Trek, I've read some of the novels. The Ashes Of Eden by William Shatner is one that stands out in my memory, not just for its great story but for the fantastic title. The title pits two opposing ideas against each other in what I think is a superbly grabbing idea. When we think of Eden, we think paradise, greenery, ripeness. But throw in Ashes and suddenly the imagination starts grasping at the concept of paradise lost.
Note: As I was writing this I realized I should reinvent the title for my latest creation First Queen... I think I'll throw in opposing ideas, the way The Ashes Of Eden title does. The new title will be Neverqueen.

As you look back at the books you've read, which titles stand out to you?

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz: controversy and adoration

Few fiction books, that I can think of, have garnered such praise and loathing as The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. Originally published in 1900, this little book spun a fascinating tale full of simple lessons bound up in great storytelling.

Last year I bought myself an iPad and learned, much to my chagrin at first, that I love reading books on it. When I was a kid, probably no more than eight-years-old, a well-meaning older couple practically forced my siblings and I to watch the movie Wizard of Oz. I was horrified by it, and my siblings had nightmares I'm sure. The film felt so dark, so evil, and the white witch was called a 'good' witch. This ran so contrary to what the Bible showed concerning witches that even at that young age I was appalled.

But a few months ago I found The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz as a free iBook, and, having now read a number of fairy tales and fantasies, I decided to try it. Suffice it to say I found the author's style whimsical and fascinating. The story itself was made by the characters and their curiously simplistic, yet moralistic dilemmas. I loved it. I thought it was great. I still hate the movie, but the book was a fun read.

The author, L. Frank Baum, wrote in his introduction to the book, "...Yet the old time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as 'historical' in the children's library; for the time has come for a series of newer 'wonder tales' in which the stereo-typed genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated..." He went on to say that "...The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz was written solely to please the children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out."

It is a fascinating premise upon which Mr. Baum wrote his fairy tales, and one which, I believe led to the mixed reception of both the book and the movie. (There was a play as well, but it has no real bearing on this article). In the first book, there are four witches mentioned. Each is known by the direction their kingdom lies on the compass. Mr. Baum created two 'good' witches, and two 'bad' witches, and of course the good 'wizard' of Oz.

The Christian community largely rejected the movie upon its release, which may have contributed to its initial flop. And years later a lawsuit was filed against a school that included the book in the library. Many people turn up their noses at that kind of a reaction, but I'd like to revisit the issue, especially in light of my reaction as a child.

In a past blog post I considered the issue of the author's worldview in their stories, and I argued that Tolkien's Middle Earth ran largely contrary to his Roman Catholic belief system because it was polytheistic, etc. I received a very strong response to that conclusion, but I still stand by it. I have enjoyed Tolkien's stories, as I've enjoyed Harry Potter, and now The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, but worldview is powerful in a story, especially when directed at young readers. They are impressionable and need Christian values reinforced, not skewed. As an author of young adult fantasy novels, I am striving to create stories that reinforce Christian values and worldview. There is an ocean of literature pushing readers to think 'inclusively.' As an author I have a responsibility to help readers think intelligently and stand on what is true.

What are your thoughts on good witches? And do you see writers holding true to their worldviews, or compromising?


"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." -Proverbs 16:24

In a world where morality is forsaken and Christ neglected, wholesome books are uncommon. The themes of my writing are love, self-sacrifice, and honor.

I see my generation turning from God to the gods of this world. I see homes torn apart in the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification. Children are murdered by the millions every year . . . without ever seeing the world outside their mothers' wombs. Through fiction I strive to encourage those who are willing, to stand against these things and be heroes and heroines; chivalrous, gentle, full of righteous indignation, and the fear and love of their Creator.