Waiting for Kylac

To this day, the first question I hear from anyone who manages to slog through the entirety of The Legend of Asahiel trilogy is: “What happened to Kylac?”

Well, for those who may still be interested, I’m pleased to report that the answer to this question is finally set to be answered…

“Thorns” Featured in “Deep Magic”

Way back in the spring of 2002, at a time when I was looking everywhere for opportunities to improve my skills as a would-be writer, the Maui Writers Foundation held a week-long writers retreat in Rome, Italy. The plan was to have attendees tour various historical landmarks in search of inspiration, while working under the tutelage of a handful of bestselling authors to produce three short stories in the span of six days. Having attended a couple of Maui Writers Retreats before, and been highly impressed with the quality of instruction, it struck me as an incredible opportunity. So I begged, borrowed, and otherwise scraped together the money needed, and set off for Italy.

As expected, it proved to be quite the experience. The Roman Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Sistine Chapel, the Trevi Fountain, and the ruins of Pompeii were just some of the sites I had the pleasure of visiting. The latter inspired a story about a slave in ancient Roman times getting caught up in a conspiracy against his kindly master. We’d been tasked with setting up a character facing a dramatic question–ideally, the kind of situation that the average person might find difficult to answer.

I recall working throughout the night to write it. My head never hit the pillow. We’d gotten back from our excursion late, and lost an hour due to Daylight Saving Time. Our stories had to be read to our group first thing in the morning. Our instructor for the day was Terry Brooks, who happened to be my favorite author, resulting in a little extra “stage fright” on my part. All in all, by the time I stumbled into class, I was convinced that I’d wasted my time and was wasting everyone else’s.

As it turned out, Terry, his wife Judine, and my classmates were far more forgiving. While a little out of the ordinary, it seemed my story wasn’t quite the nonsensical debacle I feared it to be in that sleep-deprived light. With a point or two of sage advice and some minor editing, it was deemed the best of the three projects I ended up completing that week.

Like all of my earlier writings, I chalked it up as an exercise. I never really expected it to find an audience. But around 2008, when my brother Neil was looking for potential stories for a short film, he decided that this one fit the bill, resulting a year later in the release of Thorns, the film.

When Jeff Wheeler approached me about the possibility of contributing a short story to his resurrected e-zine, Deep Magic, it didn’t take me long to come back to this story, which seemed in line with what his readers have come to expect in terms of what might be deemed wholesome, compelling fantasy and science fiction. Far be it from me to label it one way or another, but readers and viewers have used those terms and others in that vein, calling it a “suspenseful morality tale.” Regardless, Jeff agreed that it was a good fit, and with some further sharp-eyed editing, offered to bring it back to life.

All of which is my long-winded way of letting readers know that my short story “Thorns” can now be found in the August 2016 issue of Deep Magic, available today. My thanks to Jeff and Brendon and the entire team for giving the story such a lovely home. I’m pleased and humbled that this “exercise” continues to find an audience, and that readers, by and large, continue to be so accepting. If nothing else, it makes me feel better about giving up that night’s sleep all those years ago–not to mention all of the combined efforts of those who have helped me to improve it since.

Even if “Thorns” proves not to be your cup of tea, give Deep Magic a look. Especially Kindle Unlimited users, who can read for free. At 51 issues with no end in sight, the gang at Amberlin is building quite the nice legacy, and I’m honored to be a small part of it.

MisCon Event Schedule

For those who may find themselves in the vicinity of Missoula, Montana over Memorial Day weekend (May 22-25), the full schedule of events for MisCon 29: The Wasteland has been posted online. If you plan on attending, or are considering doing so, check it out.

As always, these things should be considered tentative, as unforeseen circumstances and conflicts do arise. But the folks at MisCon run a tight ship, in my experience, so you should be able to gameplan accordingly.

My own schedule can be found here. A couple of intriguing items on the list. Live enactments of battles scripted by Terry Brooks and Peter Orullian? Featuring actual weapons and the legendary Garet Jax? This I gotta see! Or participate in. Wait… what?

Unfettered International Release

Readers across the pond or Down Under may be pleased to hear that today marks the official e-book release of Shawn Speakman’s Unfettered anthology in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Published by Orbit Books, this version of the anthology features new artwork and a bonus story from Shawn, entitled “The Twilight Dragon.” Click the cover image below for the official announcement from Orbit Books.

Unfettered-UK

“Light Speed” Music Video Release

Those who remember the fantasy-themed music video “Shine On Me” from Chris Dane Owens may be pleased to know that the sequel video, “Light Speed,” is now available.

As before, the video was produced by Chris Dane Owens and directed by Academy Award winner Robert Short. The imagery is based on a story by Chris and Robert entitled Arra of the Third Kingdom, which has drawn interest in both novel and feature film circles. If you ask me, this second video in the series is even better than the first.

Both “Light Speed” and “Shine On Me” are available as individual MP3 downloads from your favorite online music provider, and are featured together with other nine other tracks on the full-length album, Blue Stone.

Claim Your FREE Unfettered Audiobook

Late notice for many of you, I’m sure, but for those who like to have their books read to them, an audiobook version of Shawn Speakman’s Unfettered anthology was released last week. To help commemorate this release, we’re pleased to offer a free copy of this or Shawn’s The Dark Thorn, from Audible.com.

UNFETTERED_Audible

For a chance to win, simply reply in the comments section of either this original blog post, or where it appears on our Facebook fan page, with a prediction of the final margin of victory in this weekend’s upcoming NFL Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. You don’t have to predict the winner, just the difference between the final point total of each team. Think Denver might win by a field goal? Enter 3. Seattle by a touchdown? Enter 7. And so forth. Whoever comes closest to predicting the final margin of victory will be asked to provide an email address to receive the discount code for the free audiobook. In the event of a tie, whoever entered their prediction first will be determined to have won. So you might want to quickly browse previous comments before posting yours, to make sure you’re not duplicating someone else’s prediction.

SuperBowl

And for those who may be even later to the party than I am, hardcover and ebook editions of both Unfettered and The Dark Thorn may still be available. For more, visit Grim Oak Press.

“Unfettered” the Fight Song

For those who may have read or purchased Shawn Speakman‘s Unfettered, or are familiar with the writings or vocal stylings of author / Rock Lord Peter Orullian, or are fans of fantasy literature or music in general, I’m pleased to spread word of the release of “Unfettered” the song. As a further means of supporting Shawn in his fight against cancer and his resulting medical debt, Peter crafted a tune that incorporates lyrics inspired by each any every story contained in the anthology. Give it a listen:

Lyrics and song available at https://soundcloud.com/rock-lord-1/unfettered

To support cancer research, or even just applaud the effort, download the song from iTunes or Amazon. To learn how it all came about, I urge folks to read Peter’s blog entry on Tor.com, in which he describes the purpose and process in elaborate, insightful detail:

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/08/unfettered-the-song

Rock on!

Unfettered ARC Contest

For those who may be interested, Grim Oak Press is currently running a contest in which five winners will each receive a limited edition advanced reader copy of Unfettered, plus a hardcover copy of Shawn Speakman’s The Dark Thorn. All contestants have to do is post an image advertising the anthology to their Facebook page, and leave it there until August 14. To obtain the required image and review complete contest details, visit: http://grimoakpress.com/2013/07/a-simple-contest-win-a-rare-arc.

To those who enter, best of luck!

A Clash of Literary Titans

Among the perks of being an author is the opportunities you’re given to tread in professional social circles. Whether you belong might be a subject of debate between you and the bouncer at any given event. But once inside, you never know what moments you might find yourself privy to. At a gathering last week in San Diego, for instance, I had the privilege of introducing Terry Brooks to George R. R. Martin. Both, of course, are longstanding titans in the industry, and extremely well respected. Both have sold umpteen million copies of their novels. Both are published by imprints of Random House. They even share the same editor. Yet they had never before met in person, if you can believe that. I guess there really is a first time for everything. Here’s a photo of the moment.

TB_GRRM

Fifty Shades of… Unfettered?

Back from the San Diego Comic-Con. If you were brave enough to claw your way through the exhibit hall, you might have stumbled across the scene below, in which the recently released fantasy anthology Unfettered was displayed in close proximity to the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James. Struck me as odd. Not exactly a lot in common between the two properties. Or is there? Hmm…

A shout out to author and Rock Lord Peter Orullian for the photo.

UF_50shades