Marshal Law, Now Available as an Audio Book!

Wherever you listen to audio books, you can now find Marshal Law, the first book in my steampunk/fantasy series.

It’s exciting to be an indie author these days. With a few mouse clicks my hard work finds its way to just about every virtual storefront. Even library catalogs have it. People around the world have listened to my books at their local library, an image that always makes me smile. That sort of thing wasn’t possible for every author in the old days.

Interested? You can get this audio book in a lot of places, but here’s just a few:

Find out more about Marshal Law here. And if you want to get deals on future releases, sign up for the newsletter. It comes with a free story, so you can’t lose.

Quarantine Books for the Fantasy Reader

Stuck inside? Of course you are. Not to worry—I’ve found some books that will keep you company. Some new, and some not so new.

X Marks the Spot: An Anthology of Treasure and Theft edited by Lisa Mangum

“Magic pirate stories.” There’s no part of that sentence I don’t like. Bonus: the opening story is by Kristen Bickerstaff, who wrote a really fun piece in The Lost Legends. This one released just a few days ago, and it’s just in time, because I’m pretty sure mermaids and swashbuckling and treasure maps is exactly the fun you need in your life right now.

When Fire Loves Water – Part 1: The Siren by J. Suzanne Frank

Here’s another one hot off the press. If the last book about pirates and magic strikes your fancy, then you’ll want to dive into this YA tale about teenagers and mermaids. While When Fire Loves Water features teenagers caught up in a fantasy world, the strange creatures, interesting magic, and vast world-building make it like nothing you’ve ever read before. Plus, it has a really cool map. (You’re not a fantasy reader if you don’t drool over cool maps.) If you love YA and want something new, go start this series today.

Assassin’s Apprentice – The Illustrated Edition by Robin Hobb

I know. It’s a classic. Why bother posting about a classic? Because the illustrated edition is amazing. So far, only the first book in the series has been released in this format, but the rest are on the way and I’m obsessed with the brilliant paintings and gorgeous layout. This is how books are supposed to look.

The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius

A philosophy textbook? Ok. I realize this one is a strange choice, but bear with me. In the sixth century, poor Boethius, a very good man, was imprisoned wrongfully. Some kind of political stunt. Forever separated from his life and his family, he turned to philosophy and discovered great comfort even in his cell.

Why is it on my quarantine readings list? Because if you’re trapped at home and need a pick-me-up, you’ll be surprised what philosophy has to offer. And you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn The Consolation of Philosophy is blissfully short and a breeze to read. And free.

Dragon’s Lure – Legends of a New Age edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jennifer Ross, and Jeffrey Lyman

Sarah Ban Breathnach said, “It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” (No, it wasn’t Tolkien.) If that’s the case, here’s a book full of stories that are definitely worth telling.

This one’s been around for a while, but anthologies sometimes fly under the radar. I just received a signed copy from David Coe (Thanks!) and have enjoyed every word of this collection so far. It’s amusing, diverting, and it’s about dragons—exactly the distraction I was looking for.

(I also need your book recommendations if I’m going to get through this, so bring ’em on.)

Extroverts, here’s how to help your quiet friends.

They never ask about the weather. They hide behind books in the break room (what are they scheming?) and never take their turn at karaoke. Our so-called “introverted” friends are a burden, for sure.

But don’t fret. To help you deal with the menace of quiet, thoughtful types who never interrupt, I’ve provided answers to the questions extroverts ask the most.

I think my quiet friend is broken because they aren’t participating in fun stuff. Should I drag them out in front of the others and make them have fun?

Yes. Obviously. Rip open their petals and force them to bloom! That’s what friends are for.

It’s good to disturb your friend’s happiness and make them uncomfortable. Otherwise, someone would be enjoying life in their own way instead of enjoying life exactly like you do. Conformity for the win!

My quiet friend isn’t saying much. How can I get them to open up?

Before asking your friend to open up emotionally, see if you can get yourself to open up physically by using a hammer and chisel on your skull. Your quiet friend will probably help; they’ve doubtless considered it many times.

Your friend may be quiet for several reasons. Maybe you’re a terrible conversationalist and your friend has nothing to contribute to your symposium on the verisimilitudes of The Bachelor. It’s also possible that you run your pie hole so often, and so loudly, they would rather stir their coffee than interact with your incoherent ramblings.

My quiet friend doesn’t want to go out. I think we should kidnap them, force them in my car, and drag them to a club. Am I right?

Alternatively, I recommend laying down in front of your friend’s car and having them drive forward, backward, and then forward again to finish the job.

This may surprise you, but using words like “kidnap” and “force” should be a clue that you’re a terrible person.

Have you considered that your friend can find more pleasure from reading Agatha Christie than watching you down shots to the tune of Whitesnake ballads? If not…do you really think you’re more interesting than Agatha Christie? Do you even read, bro?

Everyone at work is loud and fun, except that one quiet guy. How can I help them fit in?

Quit. Your easygoing comrade will get twice as much done when you’re gone, which will in turn help the company. Everybody wins!

But, seriously, where would the workplace be without people like you to make sure we all talk exactly the right amount?

I’m worried that my quiet friend doesn’t say anything because he hates me.

He might. You’re obsessed with his approval and are closely monitoring his behavior. This would drive anyone mad. Have you considered that you are a stalker with mental health problems?

My friends says they’re an introvert, but I saw them audition for a play. Are they lying about being introverted?

Let’s hope that’s the case. Otherwise, you’d have to question whether or not you know what the word “introverted” means. Then you’d have to look it up and adjust your behavior accordingly.

Let’s face it. We both know you’re not going to do that. Go confront your friend about their lies.

My friend is being quiet at a party, which bothers me because I can’t tell if they’re having a good time. What should I do?

The phrase you are looking for is, “Are you having a good time?” I know. I know. It’s hard to think of these things in the moment. You may want to write that one down.

I just want my shy friend to come out of their shell. Is that so bad?

How kind.

Now…some may question your sanity, as you seem to believe you are the charismatic main character on a TV show aimed at teens, but those people are just jealous that the plot always revolves around you.

As we’ve learned from our previous adventures, roughly once a week, quiet people are disturbed loners facing serious confidence issues that can be resolved with a hearty pat on the back and a dose of public humiliation.

I mean, it’s not as if anyone prefers being quiet. That’s just crazy talk. So get in their face and get crackin’, Zack Morris!

I want my quiet friend to try something new and fun. What should I do?

Leave them alone. You probably haven’t done that in a while, and they’ll love every second of it.

Release Day! It’s Time for MARSHAL LAW!

When a band of rebels stumbles upon a source of ancient magic, they realize they finally have the strength to start fighting back. It’s magic against the machines in this battle to save the frontier!

MARSHAL LAW is the start of an epic series, complete with wicked machines, mystical secrets, and heroes who just might save the world if they can keep from killing each other first!

Get your copy, and start this exciting series with me!

Comic Book Stories DO Challenge Us.

Quick! A bully’s about to beat up the person next to you—what do you do?

I’ll make it worse. What if they’re bigger than you? What if they’ve already knocked you down and left you sprawling on the ground? What’s the right move?

If you’re anything like Captain America, you get back on your feet and try again. Even if you haven’t got a prayer, you still make your stand.

And that’s the lesson I’ve been learning from his comics since I was a kid.

It’s been said (recently) that comic book movies don’t “challenge” the audience, but I can’t think of anything less true.

The first “good” comic book movie might have been Donner’s 1977 Superman film, the story of a guy who’s constantly torn between rescuing the helpless and pursuing a relationship, a relationship that makes him feel normal and happy for the first time. The films asks us to consider, which pursuit is more important?

Maybe you can relate to Captain Marvel, who’s been gaslighted all of her life, made to believe she’s less than she really is. When everything’s on the line, she digs down deep to find the inner resources to believe in herself.

Don’t forget Ant-Man, the story of an ex-con who’s working hard to get back into his daughter’s life. When he has an important chance to help people, he realizes doing the right thing might send him back to prison and keep him from ever seeing his kid. What would you do?

Put yourself if the Black Panther’s shoes. Should he help his people stay hidden to ensure their safety, or risk that safety for the benefit of the global community? (I’m just scratching the surface of the challenges raised by that one.)

According to James Gunn, the backbone of the Guardians of the Galaxy films is the idea of lost souls banding together to make their own family, a poignant lesson when so many have grown up in broken homes. Sure, a lot of “important” movies revel in the emotional impact of personal trauma, but how many of these gritty films teach us how to move on by relying on others?

A stuffy critic who owns 1,000 thread count sheets will always scoff at a movie like Shazam! But Shazam shows us how community-building can address our country’s problems, a lesson you won’t learn while staring at incomprehensible art films.

Naturally, not every comic book adaptation has any deep value. (I won’t name names.) But comic book stories have always been asking the big questions and pushing us toward positive change.

Short Story Lovers, The Lost Legends is Here!

We came. We saw. We published.

I collected the stories. Renea McKenzie edited them. Ryan Swindoll made the inside and outside look amazing.

And now it’s done. Signed, sealed, delivered. And my first foray into self-publishing, which includes two of my own stories, is going pretty well (so far). Everyone gushes over the design, and the stories, which are all very different, seem to offer something for everyone. (As long as you’re a little weird.)

Get your copy (it comes as an e-book or a real book) at Amazon and let me know what you think.

Got friends who might like a collection of new fantasy stories? Show them my groovy video, where I explain why it’s perfect for book lovers:

Everything You Need to Know about ‘The Lost Legends’

What is it? The Lost Legends: Tales of Myth and Magic is a collection of short stories I’ve put together. It’s filled with new writing by some very talented authors (some you may have heard of) and a little storytelling of my own even managed to get in there.

Yeah, but what’s it about? It’s a fantasy anthology, so every story contains some magic. Some of them resemble a Lord of the Rings setting, while others could take place down the street from you. There’s even one about a vampire.

When does it release? August 27.

Is it an e-book, or a real book I can hold in my hands? Both!

Can I pre-order? Yes, go get it right now!

Pre-Order? What’s that? If you’re a Kindle user, pre-ordering means you buy it now and it magically shows up on your device on release day. And writers love pre-orders. (This has gone well for me so far; three weeks before its release, The Lost Legends broke into the top 100 fantasy anthology books on Amazon.)

Great. I want to pre-order the physical version! Thanks, but for some reason Amazon only lets me set up pre-orders for the e-book. For a “real” copy, you’ll have to wait until release day, Aug. 27. Follow my Amazon writer profile if you want helpful reminders sent to you.

Does this book look cool? I don’t want to hold a book that looks dumb. The inside and outside have been professionally designed by the incomparable Ryan Swindoll, whose print design work has always impressed me. I couldn’t be happier to have him on board, and the book looks great. Seriously, go look at it.

How about the writing? Is it any good? I brought an experienced editor on board this project to make sure the writing never lagged. Her meticulous work, combined with the talent of the writers, made The Lost Legends into a collection you’ll enjoy reading over and over again.

Can I walk into a store and just buy it? No…but you could, because I’ve made sure to make it available for retailers. It’s not easy for authors to get their own books on the shelf, but customers can help with that. So, call your local bookstore or library and ask them to stock The Lost Legends:Tales of Myth and Magic from Archgate Press, ISBN 9781085862158. It just might work.

Cover Reveal for my Anthology, THE LOST LEGENDS, Coming Soon!

I’m days away from being able to show you the cover of my upcoming fantasy anthology, THE LOST LEGENDS. You’re gonna love it.

I’ve been gushing over the cover of for months, ever since Ryan Swindoll, book designer extraordinaire (and a darned good writer), showed me his design. Ever take one look at something and just know it’s right? The moment Ryan unveiled his idea, everyone on the editing team swooned like he was Elvis Presley handing out kittens.

So…stay tuned…THE LOST LEGENDS: TALES OF MYTH AND MAGIC is almost here!

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Should Writers Promote Their Books Online? Uh…Yes. Duh.

Unless you think a magical marketing fairy is going to sprinkle pages of your book in everyone’s homes, you’re going to have to do the hustling yourself.

Doesn’t everyone know that?

Apparently not, according to this week’s Twitter drama.

Now, let me confess, I’ve been vocal about criticizing self-promoters, but only the ones who are downright annoying. Like the perpetrators of those kill-me-now direct messages from someone you followed three seconds ago. You know the ones:

Hey! LOL. I noticed you followed me and wanted to give you a free gift! It’s a copy of my book! at a discount! And I’d appreciate if you’d pass along a five-star review since we’re friends now.

(They will always start with the word “hey,” which may or may not be capitalized.)

And don’t forget those odd accounts that are nothing but retweets of boring, boilerplate book ads. They’re obviously bot accounts posing as members of the wonderful writing community, and I’ll complain about that kind of spam any day.

But actual marketing and self-promotion? I’ve never had a problem with that.

However, one guy on Twitter does have a problem with self-promoters, and this week he kicked up a big fuss by referring to self-promoting authors as “hucksters.” Don’t bother looking for the original tweet, because he’s hidden it and run off. (I could point a big finger at his account, but instead I’ll be nice let him continue retreating.)

Mind you, he didn’t simply tweet his opinion, he made it personal. This guy tagged specific accounts and called on people to unfollow them, all for the terrible crime of…talking about their books.

But it backfired spectacularly.

Point of order: A “huckster” is a criminal con artist. This is no small insult. Thankfully, those he called out were inundated with waves of new followers, and the collective sympathy even generated some book sales.

The #writingcommunity has a lot of power when they act together, and someone who comes in trolling is going to be quickly rushed out the door.

So don’t mess with writers, because we look out for each other.

And if you’ve got a book to sell, I’d love to hear about it.

(BTW–I’m releasing a fantasy anthology with stories from some of the best authors in the #writingcommunity. It’s called THE LOST LEGENDS and it’ll be out soon! Take that!)

Title drop for my anthology! (Drum roll, please…)

I’m always bumping into writers. Conferences, writers groups, random people on the train scribbling out a first draft. (Anyone else notice that almost everyone is working on a book?)

My favorites are the fantasy writers. Rather than being competitive (my foray into the music world showed me that artists can be terrible to each other) the nerds who gather around to talk about our magic systems and dragon names just want to geek out. It’s like finding your tribe.

But there’s something bittersweet about meeting with these kindred spirits. Believe it or not, there are more fantasy authors at a local writing conference than you’ll find on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. There’s not enough room in the mainstream market for all of us, or even a tenth of us.

We’re not (that) bitter. We’re grown ups who know it’s a narrow field with almost no room to break in, and there’s nothing we can do…or is there?

After thinking about all the fantasy writers I know, an idea slammed into my face: Let’s just put our stories together!

Why weren’t we already doing this? I contacted a few writers I know and said that I wanted to make an anthology. No, I’ve never done it before. No, I’m not published, either. Yes, I’m a nobody. But let’s see what happens when we put our heads together.

I don’t know who could ignore such an amazing offer, but the response was overwhelmingly “YES!”

Since this anthology was for fantasy nerds and being written by fantasy nerds, I decided to give my writers free range. I wanted those stories that didn’t get published because they were too creative, too short or too long, too funny, or just too different. Forget trends and market expectations, I told them, and just write.

And the stories are stellar. Since the submissions started rolling in I’ve been overwhelmed, my inbox bursting with those magical tales that transport me and remind me why I started reading fantasy in the first place. Some of the stories are harrowing, some are full of emotion, and some have made me laugh out loud. (I might add, some of these authors you’ve actually heard of.)

My editing team and I had to find a name for this magical collection of stories. How do you explain that you’ve gathered stories that steal you from this world and throw into a place where adventure is right under your feet and anything is possible? It wasn’t easy. But we managed.

Later this year, it’s going to be my pleasure to present to you…THE LOST LEGENDS: TALES OF MYTH AND MAGIC!

I’ll reveal the cover reveal really soon, and you’re gonna love it. But my writers are going to love it more, because we fit everyone’s name on it.