Chapter Preview – The Dark That Follows

A disgraced former cop who possesses the ability to see the future…

A college student whose life has become entangled in black magic…

A girlfriend who is no longer sure who to trust…

And a vision of the future which shows only the darkness of the void…

The only difference between Jason Mills and every other Fortune Teller in town is that when he tells people about their futures he doesn’t need to make anything up. With a touch, his mind is flooded with visions of what may come. Am I going to fall in love… am I going to be rich… am I going to get that promotion… Until the reading that shows him only a void, as if the future has been wiped clean for one person.

As all futures begin to unravel, Jason begins to realize that the young man who began this prediction may be more involved in this Dark outcome than he could imagine.

That his ability is as much a gift as it is a curse.

His gift of future sight had put him on the radar of some very powerful beings.

Drawn into a web of secret societies, Black Masses, and beings of immense power, Jason races to determine the truth behind his visions in order to save his own future from being wiped out.

 

Please enjoy the following preview chapter of

THE DARK THAT FOLLOWS

CHAPTER ONE

Office building. Elevator. Sam from accounts payable. Sip of water. Far office. Jim the terrible boss. New office. Handsome guy. Blush. Smile. Sandwich. Phone call. Tears. Screaming.

Marilyn.

“Are you sure that this isn’t going to hurt?”

Her words snapped him from the trance. Jason Mills watched as the woman fidgeted in the seat across the table. With one of her hands now freed from his, she maintained limited contact with the other.

“Just breathe deep and relax. You came to me, but we aren’t going to get anywhere if you continue to be this nervous.”

“It’s just that, well… I’m beginning to rethink coming here.”

He smiled at her. It was the same disarming smile he’d given to hundreds of other skittish customers who’d come to him. Whatever it took to make sure she remained a paying customer. He reached out with his free hand and coaxed her to regain the connection.

“Release your thoughts and let your mind wander.

“There… that’s it.”

Jason Mills gripped the older woman’s hand tighter while her potential life revealed itself. The sync between the two complete, he began to search out anything within the immediate future.

Through her eyes he glimpsed a corner office overlooking the weeds of cubicles. The man inside smiles while pointing at the nameplate on the desk: Ellen Small.

The words flowed from Jason.

“This is the year when all your hard work starts to pay off. You’ve been biding your time over the last few years. Something you have managed to earn and not just ease yourself into.”

A gasp escaped his charge’s lips. Spurred on by this first fortune, her grip strengthened to match his.

Another day and different images flowed through his mind. Ellen sat alone in a deli, her attention divided between an e-reader on the table, a partially eaten sandwich, and the attractive gentleman sitting three tables over. Jason caught the briefest glance; all she would allow herself to experience.

“New people and new possibilities go hand in hand. You should shed your shyness. Push beyond the nagging voice inside you which urges restraint, and instead open up to new experiences and new people.”

Another shift and another hand squeeze.

Jason delved one more time into her future. Somewhere her cell phone rang, the name on the other end read Marilyn, and Ellen placed it to her ear. Her world spun and twisted. Her words blurred and mixed with anguish. The phone slipped from her hand to the ground, and she slid to the floor after it.

Jason dropped the link and released her hands. Ellen sat before him, eyes wide and leaning forward in her seat.

Jason eased back in the chair. He ran sweaty palms through slicked back hair, the perspiration and the hair gel mixing to produce sticky goo. He let out a deep breath.

“You should take the opportunity to get in contact with your friends and family. They miss you greatly and will counsel you on your most difficult decisions.”

Ellen cocked her head to one side and nodded, whether to him or to herself, Jason wasn’t sure. Either way, he hated this part. Better to have good news… or at least, not bad news to give his clients. It made for poor repeat business. No one wanted to come back to a fortune teller who gave them upsetting futures. Repeat customers were the one thing that allowed him to pay rent.

Terrible news also made his heart ache for them. So, most of the time, he tried to make it vague enough so the person might leave perplexed, a fine alternative to the other thing.

“Someone named… Marilyn… I saw that she might be of great counsel to you in the upcoming days.”

Ellen’s jaw opened in disbelief. Everything else could be explained away. Up until that point, Jason’s talk of true insight into the future appeared just vague enough. Much like the magician who performs his tricks on stage to a captive audience, no one wants to know how the trick is done, because then it is ruined for them for all time. Better to allow themselves to think it real, but know that it is not.

Instead, with one name, he managed to shatter her image of not only him and what it is he’s told her, but the idea that it could be real settled inside her head… a scary proposition for most everyone.

“How? I haven’t…”

“I can’t predict what I am going to see within the vision, but what I have said can push you into the right direction. It is you who has to take control of your life and make the choices. Understand?”

A slow nod greeted him behind which he could see the struggle within her mind. She rose from her seat still bewitched from his words. A slight dazed look lay frozen across her face.

The sign of a possible repeat customer.

*

Image by Uki_71 from Pixabay

Jason Mills had come to realize, in the last three years, the important thing was to live up to the customer’s expectations. No one wanted their fortune read by some guy in a t-shirt and jeans. People wanted theatrics, a story for their friends so they might debate the merits of whether the guy who had done her reading was for real or a fraud. Even then, they do not mind the apparent lies as long as they had a good time. It was something he had struggled with understanding when he first started out. All the bullshit items they gave credence to allowed them to have a connection. So for that reason he dressed the chamber up to match those preconceptions. Something an ordinary person would want to see and experience.

The corner lamp’s light filtered through a purple shade framing the small table. Centered within the pattern sat a crystal ball. The curtains, which surrounded the area, were a royal red. Every piece needed to convey that he was worth giving money to and his fortune reading was as legit as a fortune reading could be. Whether he gave good news or bad, if the show felt wrong, then their experience would match.

His outfit was meticulously picked out. He slicked his dark hair back, combined a simple black vest with a red dress shirt underneath and dark slacks. For the final piece he added an intense glare he mastered a long time ago, in a different life. It helped that his six foot three inch height not only allowed him to stand above almost every customer, but also caused him to look a little more muscular. His size helped him sell the show; it made him more intimidating than anyone else in the room. Had it been Halloween, he wouldn’t have needed to change as he could either add fake plastic fangs and say he was Dracula or forgo that and claim to be a Vegas magic act.

Customers fell into a couple of camps. The two largest groups were comprised of either tourists visiting the Little Five Points area for a little extra spice of Atlanta, Georgia local flavor, or college kids who consumed one too many drinks during the day and thought getting their fortune read might be good for a laugh. Those same rich kids seemed to treat the whole experience as a rite of passage. As if it was their job to expose him as a fraud.

Their business was nice, if a bit unreliable. Still it was the regulars who allowed him to exist day to day. The older woman who searched for something to fill the hole in her heart. The business man trying to get the next big project off the ground, but had convinced himself long ago the fortune tellers knew something he did not. The Goth girl who believed in someone who could see the future, and hoped through her experience with Jason she would somehow become more connected to the universe itself. Inside each a puzzle piece was missing and the prophecies which Jason the Wondrous spouted could make them whole.

So now Jason sat, watching the feet moved past his curtain only to stop and shuffle back. The uncertain pause before a new face stuck his head inside the curtain and got their first glimpse of Jason’s inner lair. Aside from the lamp, only the crystal ball’s light permeated the room. It did its job well. Shadows made Jason look all the more mysterious.

Jason could hear someone behind the lead figure mumble something about going in, and sure enough the young man made a full appearance. Right behind him, two more followed.

The leader moved deeper into the curtained area, and Jason got his first true look at him. One of the few people who would have been able to look Jason in the eyes and from the shoulder length dark hair and complexion, Jason guessed the kid had some island blood in him. He dressed in a polo shirt and khaki shorts. His attire was the standard uniform of male college students when they hit the bars during these summer months.

The other two matched the dress code if not the look. A shorter, stocky guy took his spot on the left. His nose showed the damage of a man who’d won and lost plenty of fights, but from his frame, Jason suspected that he’d won many more than he’d lost. The taller friend flanked the right. He was all legs and arms and looked as if a deep breath would send him to the ground. His whole form looked as if each piece grew at different rates.

“Have a seat, my friend.” Jason used his best movie voice, struggling to channel Vincent Price, always trying to channel Vincent.

Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

“Uh, alright.”

The twenty-something sat down across from Jason, eyes still adapting to the lower light around him.

“What is it that brings you to me today? Is there something particular you would wish me to ask the spirits?”

“No. I guess, um, just a general reading? Is… is that alright?” It wasn’t fear, but embarrassment which got him stuttering.

“A general reading is fifty. Cash first please.”

Jason learned the hard way that you always needed to get the cash before giving the reading; otherwise you end up chasing your rent money down the sidewalk at eleven o’clock at night. Add to it the fact that Jason grew closer to forty than to thirty every day; any chase was something in which he no longer possessed any confidence.

The young man motioned for the taller man to produce the cash. “This was your idea. Pay the man.”

Taking money from the friend, Jason stared into the customer’s eyes. “Your full name?”

“Terry Soone.”

The shorter friend added. “With an ‘e’.”

“I don’t think he needs the spelling, ass.”

“Alright, Terry, I need you to place your hands face up on the table. As I touch you, clear your mind of all thoughts.” Jason used this moment to unlock eyes with Terry and focused on his two companions, “You must all do this. Any additional stray thoughts will cloud the reading. You must be a blank slate for it to work.”

It was a lie. Jason did not need them to do anything other than stay somewhat quiet. It was more for the mood than the actual reading. Still it added to the mystery. Once again, it was the little things. He needed to make sure they got their money’s worth.

As his friends chuckled behind him, Terry put his hands on the table, and Jason reached across, focusing back upon him. He took a deep breath then grabbed the young man’s palms.

The room, the lights, the crystal ball, and the speech were all a lie. The tourists did not want Jason Mills, they needed the Wondrous One. Regardless, the gift was reality.

Chips. Raise. Fold. Brandon can’t hold his liquor. A redhead girl. Front porch. Face stings. Black robes. Candles. Smiles. Knives. Knives. Knives.

Blackness.

The images slammed into his mind. They blurred and morphed from moment to moment. When Jason tried to explain the readings to anyone else the best he could come up with was to compare it to the old style movie projectors. Every image those machines showed the audience consisted of many individual frames. At the speed it ran, one frame in ten might be seen. It was the same with any readings. Jason saw a movie, but the images moved so fast he couldn’t comprehend anything. It was a blur. Thus the first step was to get a connection. That was the easy part. The second step was to slow the movie down and take a look at the individual pieces, the frames.

Jason took another deep breath, concentrated, and the images came into focus:

Terry sat at a table wearing the same clothes he did now. More friends sat around him looking none too pleased as Terry raked in another stack of poker chips. Someone threw up on a fake plant in the corner. Still, Terry pulled in more and more cash.

Seeing cash was easy to explain, everyone’s thoughts drifted to money, and as such, Jason picked up that information quicker than any other issue the customer might have.

“You will be coming into wealth very soon. Cash won is much sweeter than money earned. It appears your friends here are not good poker players.”

The short stocky friend spoke with disgust. “Standard. They always say something about money.”

“Quiet please.”

With the next image, Jason watched a young redheaded woman slap Terry across the face. He stood in the doorway, too stunned to respond or even make an effort to fix the perceived slight he must have visited on the female. She did not allow him the time anyway and slammed the door in his face.

“You will have some bumps in your love life in the near future. Whatever it is you do, try not to piss off the redhead any more than you already have”

“Obvious, relationship stuff… this guy is a joke.”

Terry shifted his grip at the mention of the girl. Jason struck the correct cord.

The scene dissolved into a shadowy place where a robed man placed a hand on a kneeling Terry’s shoulder.

“A,” Jason needed to search for the word, “ceremony… in the days to come…”

The moment disappeared into emptiness.

You are not welcome here.

The connection severed, and Jason released Terry’s grip.

“Is that it?”

Jason wiped palms on his vest before reaching out to grip Terry’s hands once more.

“No… it is just that… I’m not sure you are concentrating on this. Without your cooperation, this is not going to work.”

Terry nodded and clenched his eyes shut.

Focusing, Jason rewound the vision to try and lock onto it.

Jason strained, sweat rolled down his face, but he saw more of the same.

Robes. Candles. Knives. Blackness.

This differed from anything he experienced in a reading before. For one to stop on its own accord…

He rolled the mental picture back to the last clear image: the ceremony. Through Terry’s eyes he looked up at the robed man who stood in front of him anointing his subject. White flashed from beneath the hood. A bright light filled his eyes…

Undesired. Interloper. Begone.

Again the connection severed.

An electric spark seemed to leap from Terry into him. Jason jerked free.

“Whoa, what happened there? Did you see something else?” The obnoxious friend leaned in close, trying to scan Jason’s face for any hint of what happened.

Terry pulled back from the table and rubbed his hands. Jason guessed the electricity had not been a one sided affair.

“Do you have a buzzer underneath the table?”

Jason composed himself as best he could. He needed to remain in character and not betray the fact he did not know what had occurred.

“I have no such need for parlor tricks. Check under the table for yourself if you do not believe me.”

That invitation was all the unconvinced friend needed. He squatted down beside the table and lifted the table cloth. Jason watched as he felt around for anything that might have explained the jump.

“Whatever it is you felt was both true and powerful. In the coming days you are going to be presented with an important choice. One choice made in darkness will bring great light, but…”

Jason searched for the right words.

“It will not be without its dangers. Choose wisely, your next step, for the futures of many will be at stake… not just your own.”

Terry sat there for another second, either to contemplate what Jason told him or to determine how they had been ripped off. The two friends, who had enough of the show, grabbed Terry on the shoulder urging him to leave.

“Let’s get out of here. I told you this was a scam.”

While they were unconvinced, Terry’s face betrayed his own concern. Jason couldn’t be sure if it was due to the strangeness of the reading, or if Terry understood more of the reading than even Jason did.

The three men left the curtained room muttering to themselves, but Jason did not give them any more notice. He lifted his hand up and found it trembling. His heart sounded off within his chest.

The absence of an image…

Still Jason could not shake the images he saw. He visualized many things in the few years since he discovered his gift. Some were standard beats, like Terry’s money or love life; those were common links between all humanity. Those are the things that subconscious minds dwell on. Will I find love? Am I going to be rich? Those were easy as Terry’s friend had pointed out. The blackness… that was not normal. It seemed there was only one way to interpret it:

Terry Soone was going to die.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Books, Tattoos, & More Books

Hey you.

Like sci-fi, dystopian books, tipsy memoirs, or books illustrated by eight-year old kids?

I knew it.

Watch this.

 

Then go HERE. 

The Last Game

(Obviously spoilers for anything and everything Game of Thrones.)

We sat down last night to watch the series finale. It was Monday night, so everyone else in the world who cared about such things were already neck deep in talking about the show, lamenting the decisions of the writers, loving other decisions, and struggling to determine whether or not they liked even other bits and pieces. As I wrote last week, it isn’t an easy thing to write the ending to a short story or a 22-page comic, I can’t imagine how you’d go about writing the end to a series that’s lasted 8 years.

I watched it.

I absorbed it.

I may need therapy. 🙂

I wrote an email to some friends this morning that summed up my immediate thoughts all of about 12 hours later:

I’m still not sure how I feel about everything. I couldn’t go to sleep last night because my mind was playing things from the episode over and over. I know that there was no way that Danny could stay on the throne after what had happened in Episode 5. Regardless, my mind kept trying to find an “out” for her other than what happened. I had one hope that perhaps… just perhaps, once she gave the Big Victory Speech, that maybe she’d continue on her quest to liberate the world and need a Regent to defend her claim in Westeros. Which would leave Jon Snow serving his Queen and helping the lands of his forefathers. You’d get a “good” ruler and you still would have Danny out there killer the evils of this world.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I know, I was stretching things as far as I could.

So I watch and I become a little sad that Danny doesn’t win in the end. And I watch and I think that Tyrion’s solution of Bran the Broken was both out of left field and inspired. I watch and I think that Arya going to explore past the end of the map is perfect. I watch and I think that Sansa has become a character worthy of Queen of the North.

And I watch Jon Snow, broken, beaten… betraying the one he loved, the one he served, and instead of death (not entirely sure how Grey Worm didn’t just end it for him) he gets to go back to the Wall. Back to where he started all those years ago. Back to a place where he will no longer bother anyone in the Seven… er… Six Kingdoms again. He’ll have to replay all the moments of his life to see if perhaps he could have found a better way.

Did this path get set upon because he told his sisters? Had he kept that much a secret could there have been someone to walk Daenerys back from the brink? Could he have found another way once that information was out? Seen what the others were beginning to see?

I don’t know if there is an answer out there for him. Maybe he’ll find peace north of the wall.

***

With the show over, my hope is that George RR Martin will finish his story finally. Not because I want a different ending. And not because I think the show didn’t do a good job. But because I wonder about the other characters he’s been setting up for decades. Characters that never appeared on the show, but still have their impacts in the words. I wonder if he’ll look at this ending within the show and tweak anything now that he’s seen the reaction to it? Do you use millions of “Beta Readers” opinions to shape the tale or do you continue on whatever the path is regardless of ruffling a few more feathers? Or maybe change things a little “just to make it mine”.

If it were me, I might be tempted to do just that.

***

The last thing is now what do you replace this with? What tv show could put these types of ideas on the screen as successfully? It’s been with us for 9 years…

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Before the End of the Story

<This has spoilers for Game of Thrones… sorry.>

How do you stick a landing on a long-running tv show?

We’re a few days before the end of Game of Thrones. A show that opened to a little fanfare, but has built upon itself into a show that people can’t seem to help themselves from spoiling in the minutes after the latest episode airs. I normally don’t watch the episodes until Monday, which prior to probably Season 7, wasn’t much of a problem. Now it feels like people want to try to be clever in not saying anything but actually saying a ton of stuff about the show. And heaven help you if you go onto Yahoo or something and scroll through the articles on the front page. They will put the big moments in the damn title of the article.

But I don’t want to rant about spoilers right now (that’s a post all on its own).

As we approach this ending, it’s gotten me thinking about other shows I’ve loved and how they ended. And then it got me thinking about the actually act of writing an ending to some epic story. You see, I’m currently writing a draft of what will be a 5 book series at this point. So endings are important even all the way at the beginning. Do you set up the last scenes as soon as you put the first words on the screen? Do you have a vague idea of what the plot points should or shouldn’t be in that last book when you still need to discover what happens in books 2-4? Just how much do you need to know and how much should you wing it?

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

And here’s the other problem: your readers/viewers have a decent idea of where they’d like to see the story end up. Sticking with Game of Thrones, after I’d seen the first season I fully thought that this was going to be a show where I expected the last shot would be of Danny sitting on the Iron Throne. That regardless of where the other dozens of characters ended up, that needed to be the constant. She would have earned it through the way Kings and Queens in this world earn it – she took it, but she did it through alliances. She’s managed her allies – the Unsullied, the Dothraki, the Queen’s Hand, the Dragons, etc. She was one of the BIG heroes for this show. And in a world where there weren’t a ton of heroes, that seemed important.

But this is a world of greys. Not black and whites. And now that Season 8, episode 6 approaches, I no longer know if that is how it is going to end… or even if it should end that way.

So is that a bad thing? Is it a bad thing to potentially NOT deliver on what some people have expected. And note, I’m not talking about quality here… that is another debate. This is strictly about moments which have built up in my head as things that need to happen. It doesn’t mean they have to happen, but I believe they will make my enjoyment all the better.

Yet, in this last season, they have subverted a couple of things already. I’d not expected Arya to be the one to kill the Night King. So much was made of the Lord of Light and his champion that it felt like Jon Snow HAD to be the one to end him. When the time came, I realized it needed to be Arya. That’s how this was all framed and set up. So when the moment came it was a good moment… a good outcome that still wasn’t exactly what I’d expected and that was fine.

So reading the 5 books, watching 7 seasons of the show has led me to some thoughts about where the characters are going to end up. So in this last season, the question for me becomes – what did I think/want to happen, what actually happened, does it still work for me. I like pretty much everything they’ve done, it just makes certain choices, when they don’t match up…

Again, how do you make sure you serve your own vision of the series while not alienating your potential fans?

And there is one other problem: if you are too predictable. What then? People are going to complain because “they saw it coming from the second episode” (or some such thing).

Where is the line? That happy place between predictable and unpredictable. Does it ever really exist? And for those of us who watch the shows or read the series what do we want to see when we get to the end? That the creators did their best? That they played it completely safe? Or that they went balls to the wall and surprise us with something (or many somethings)?

Is there a right answer?

I loved Breaking Bad’s ending. Buffy’s ending. Angel’s ending (might be my favourite). I loved Lost’s ending moment. You’re the Worst stuck the landing.

With this last episode, we’re going to get an ending. For better or worse.

Image by TanteTati from Pixabay

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Books for your Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrains!

101 Questions for Humanity

101 Questions for Humanity – The supreme coffee table book for armchair philosophers. Designed to provoke, question, and challenge. Crack the cover open during big parties, small gatherings, or lonely nights on the couch. Once you taste one question, you’ll want to devour them all!

Here’s a sample.


101 Deeper Darker Cover

101 Deeper, Darker Questions for Humanity – The latest volume in the Coffee Table Philosophy series flips the switch and turns down the lights. It’s the ultimate conversation-igniter. It’s got questions and scenarios to light up big parties and small, intimate gatherings. If you’re smart, and you ARE, this is the book you need to bring the fun. 101 pages. 101 deeper, darker questions. The conversation starts now.

Here’s a deep, dark sample. 🙂


101 Questions for Women and 101 Questions for Men 


101 Questions for Midnight – For those who favor their questions cold, hard, and serious. Meant for small parties, huge gatherings, or lonely evenings under the stars. Each page contains one Question about Life vs Death, Good vs Evil, Morality, Sex, etc. So turn down the lights, pour yourself a drink, and settle down into a darker brand of entertainment.

A sample from the popular blog 10 Things to ask yourself Tonight.


The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Quiz– It’s the most entertainment you can squeeze into 101 pages. Pass it around to friends and family. Bring a copy to your breakroom at work. Crash a party with a few copies in hand. Inside you’ll find a ton of fun, quick questions designed to shine a light on your friends’ and loved ones’ hearts and minds.


The Little Book of BIG Questions – Thinkers, questioners, and science buffs, behold! The Little Book of BIG questions contains more than two-hundred unique conversation starters and thought igniters, all in the form of fun questions. It’s the book for every coffee table. It’s meant to be read in the company of others…or all alone beneath a starlit sky. We all want to know the origin of the universe, the reasons why life exists, and the driving forces behind humanity. Use this book to light the fire in your mind.

Sample questions are right here.


444 Questions for the Universe – Having a few friends over? Throwing a party? In need of a little something to ignite a conversation? 444 Questions for the Universe is the ultimate ice-breaker. Put it on your coffee table, invite a few friends over, and watch the night’s discussions catch fire. Meant as a party book, quiz book, and philosophy book rolled all into one, 444 Questions will guide you through hours of energetic, intelligent, and FUN conversations.


101 Sex Questions – 101 Sex Questions is a deeper, sweatier take on philosophy. Meant for hot nights with your partner, candid conversations with a lover, and parties during which (almost) everything goes. Includes questions on relationships, love, and of course, TONS of smoldering sex. Like a quiz book…but for your libido.

Just read the samples to find out for yourself.


101 Questions for Single People Front

101 Questions for Single People – We live in a Swipe Left Society. Dating’s never been easier. …or harder. 101 Questions for Single People takes a lighthearted look at the issues of dating and relationships in the modern world. Flash it to your friends, at a party, or at a crowded bar full of strangers, and watch the room light up.

A tiny sample of what you’ll find in this book is right here.


101 Qs for Couples Front Cover

101 Questions for Couples – 101 pages. 101 questions for lovers. Call it whatever you’d like: romance, passion, true love, love at first sight. It’s ALL love. And the old saying is true. It takes two to tango. 101 Questions for Couples is meant for road trips with new lovers, romantic dinners at home after the kids are asleep, or fun conversations after twenty years of marriage. Read a few questions to the special person in your life. And thank us later.

(Sample questions here and here.)


101 Questions for Single Parents – This book is for you if…

…you’re a sleep-deprived single mom who can name at least 50 Pokémon but can’t keep your kids’ names straight or remember where you parked your car at the grocery store.

…you’re a single father who sits in a morning work meeting, waiting to give a monthly report presentation, when suddenly you realize you forgot to remove the polish your daughter had applied to your finger nails (and half your hand) the night before.
…you ‘re the grandparent who can’t retire because you’re raising your young grandson alone. After an eight-hour work day, your nights are filled with homework, constructing cities out of Legos, and answer 2AM calls to chase monsters out from under the bed.
…you are, know, love, or want to get to know a single parent. Here are 101 ways to dig deep into the challenges and the joys of single parenting. The following questions are sometimes fun, sometimes thought-provoking, and always enlightening.

Free Comic Book Day 2019 – Report

This past Saturday was Free Comic Book Day. Hopefully, you were able to get out of the house and snag a handful of the freebies your local comic stores were giving away.

A few things I realized for those people who aren’t aware of Free Comic Book Day – many people didn’t realize it was a nationwide event. More than one person responded over social media that they were bummed because they weren’t in the Atlanta area. After letting them know that their local comic store was probably participating, I’m hopeful some of them managed to get into a shop.

The other thing that I don’t think plenty of people realize is that just because Saturday is the day of the event, it doesn’t mean that it is the only day to potentially go and pick up free funny books. Plenty of shops order extra copies of some of the bigger books (the Marvel and DC probably leading the pack, but plenty of the more kid-focused ones as well). So even now that it is Wednesday (New Comic Book Day!), there is a decent chance they still have some of the Free books left over from the weekend. No reason that you can’t check it out (even a couple of days late).

As I posted last week, I was participating directly as one of the guests at Galactic Quest’s Buford, Georgia location.

It was a great time. When I arrived to set up around 8:30 AM, there was a line probably 30 people deep waiting to get into the shop when it opened at 9:00 AM. Once the clock rolled over, there was a steady progression of people coming into the building for the next 30 minutes (no let up from the line until that point). Medieval Times had a couple in costume who gave out free passes to those first five people in the line. While there were a handful of comic creators (yours truly included), Galactic Quest also has a gaming area where they had people ready to teach customers about the Final Fantasy Card Game. Next door, there was a live band playing.

The best part of the day is seeing the people who cosplay. I saw a Scarlet Witch and Winter Soldier. A mom and daughter dressed as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big (well, small) Bad Wolf. A little boy in a Miles Morales Spiderman costume along with his friend who was dressed in a Captain Marvel outfit.

For me, the day was a good one, although I must admit that I made a small(ish) mistake. Silly me thought that given it was Free Comic Book Day, that I should have plenty Gilded Age Graphic Novels ready to go. And while I did sell a few, what actually got the most looks were my two novels (The Dark That Follows and Hollow Empire). I only brought 2 copies of The Dark That Follows and they were gone by noon, while I had 5 copies of Hollow Empire to start (and ended with 1 copy left). I actually had to text Courtney to say “hey, if you are still coming by the shop, make sure to grab some copies of both books!” I probably only missed one potential sale by not having more copies with me (my fault, I thought there were more in my bag and didn’t verify).

There I am!

A good problem to have.

The other item I currently have on the table is the Gilded Age Coloring Book. It was one of the stretch goals from the Kickstarter and normally gets the response of “Wow, what a cool idea.” from people who notice it (not that they all buy it or anything, but it is a way to continue the conversation some times). I’m actually down to about two dozen copies and am now wondering if maybe I should invest in some new images for a Volume II…

Anyway, it was a great time and a great Saturday. And I even managed to snag a few comics for myself! Thanks again Galatic Quest!

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

444 Questions for Everyone on the Planet

Having a few friends over?

Throwing a party?

In need of a little something to ignite a conversation?

444 Questions for the Universe is the ultimate ice-breaker. Put it on your coffee table, invite a few friends over, and watch the night’s discussions catch fire.

Once you ask one question, you’ll want to answer them ALL…


Goodreads Giveaway – The Little Book of BIG Questions

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Little Book of Big Questions by J. Edward Neill

The Little Book of Big Questions

by J. Edward Neill

Giveaway ends May 26, 2019.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

My Everyday War with Social Media

Let’s just go ahead and get this out there.

hate social media.

There. I said it.

I hate it with a deep and abiding passion.

And yet…

It‘s a lot more complicated.

I mean, a LOT.

As of right this moment, I would consider myself extremely active on social media. Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Business, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest…the list goes on. I’m active on each and every one, and I’m on them almost every single day. Yes, I know what you’re thinking — I literally just said I hate social media.

So why then, all the sites? Why do it if it’s so antithetical to happiness?

Well…

It turns out I’m an author. And an artist. Virtually all my wares appear online in one form or another. And to be honest, I’m not famous enough for these things to sell themselves. Without daily, active, highly-engaged social media marketing, I’d most likely have to give up the dream and go back to working a 9–5 office job. Which, to be fair, is just as terrifying as toiling away on social media. I figure at least when I’m clicking, posting, and responding online, I’m doing so in a tank top and shorts, in my bed, far from the horrors of corporate office life.

So what’s the trouble with social media, aside from the vast time-suck?

For starters, let’s list a few:

  • You don’t know most of the people to whom you’re talking. They could be anyone, and they could be anywhere. What’s in a profile pic these days? Not much. Unless you’ve actually met the flesh and blood human on the other end of your latest tweet, you don’t know them. At all. More importantly, you don’t know what they want. And in many cases, you don’t even know whether or not they’re real. The person who just followed you might not be a person at all. Think about it…
  • The endless cycle of reciprocation. While not as much of a problem on Facebook, when one uses Twitter and Instagram to pitch art and books, one must be prepared to give far more than one receives. These days, I spend as much time retweeting and liking fellow artists’ posts as I do creating my own, whether or not I like approve of what these people are saying. If I didn’t do this, the reciprocation cycle would end and my audience would shrink. This is how it works. It’s a shark tank out there, and if you don’t feed the sharks, they’ll turn right around and eat you
  • Creepers, stalkers, and people who think every social media site is for dating. Yes, I’m a guy. And yes, I’m fully aware I don’t suffer nearly the amount of harassment as the ladies. Even so…every day, every week, every month, I deal with followers who aren’t at all interested in my paintings or my books. These ladies are after validation, compliments, idle flirting, and romance. An innocuous like on one of my posts becomes a “Hey, nice painting” in my inbox. And then the “Hey, nice painting” becomes something entirely unsettling. And then it becomes a dance between me not wanting to be rude to a fellow human and me having to say “Please go away and look for love from someone else.
  • The personal toll. This one is the hardest. In building a social media empire, one must be very, very careful to keep internet life and real life separate. So far, I’ve done well, but likely not well enough. Even though in my heart I know my goals on social media are highly specific and definitely have an endgame, it’s not always an easy sell to the people I care about in real life. “Why are you online so often?” “Who was that woman you were friendly with on Twitter?” “Are you suuuure you’re only there to market?” — these are some pretty typical questions I’ve been asked. And no matter my answers, I have many times seen the doubt in the eyes of those close to me. It’s at times like these I wonder, “Is this really worth it? Am I selling out? Am I really shrugging off compliments, flirty women, and questionable content…and staying humble?”

Well? Am I?

At the end of each day, is being on social media purely as an artist, author, and purveyor of the occasional off-color meme worthwhile? Yes. Mostly. For every weirdo, creeper, latch-on lady, or inappropriate person, there are hundreds of legitimately cool people out there. Fantastic artists lie around every corner of Instagram. On Twitter exists a thriving culture of authors, philosophers, poets, and curators of excellent content. And on Facebook, well…there’s always cat videos.

But the dark side is real.

It’s expensive, not in terms of money, but in terms of personal welfare and the welfare of those closest to me.

And every day I wage a small war in my heart against it.

In a six-year career on social media, I’ve experienced some truly great things. Great personalities. Hilarious jokes. Wonderful ideas to expand and open the mind.

And of course, epic-level books sales (the whole point of it all.)

But I’ve also dealt with…

  • Writers who claim to be best-selling authors, but who become furious when it’s pointed out they’ve published one brief book with no sales (and which contains giant grammatical chasms.) In other words, liars
  • Social justice warriors invading my benevolent feed to loudly state the half-boob in one of my paintings makes me nothing more than a ‘sexist, chauvinist pig.) Does it? Asking for a friend…
  • Woman posing as art collectors who buy no art, but who gradually increase the flirt level until I’m forced to block or ignore them
  • Prostitutes
  • Bots
  • Exes posing as other people
  • People who think everything is a platform for their politics
  • And the one author who tried to get me to support his book (which spoke of the ‘many virtues of pedophilia.’) Gross, dude. Get help

And so the battle inside me rages on. It’s sometimes small, sometimes massive, and yet I take some heart knowing I’m not the only one. I’m betting there are silent legions of fellow humans out there who feel the same, who struggle with wanting to look their friends in the eyes (as opposed to through a monitor) and who feel the pressure and desire to escape social media and never, ever come back.

I know you’re out there.

We’re not meant to be these distant creatures who create mere avatars for our real lives, and who so often toil alone behind our screens.

The image we present online — it’s false. We must never forget this. Even if we’re utterly honest while posting, we are not collections of memes, profile pictures, and likes. We’re still human behind it all.

At least, I hope we are.

More importantly, I hope you’re human, too…and not another latch-on creeper.

As I close out this collection of thoughts, one last bit of irony hits me. As soon as this is published, I’ll share it across every single one of my social media accounts.

Funny, right?

…or maybe not.


J Edward Neill

Come see me here.

Tyrants of the Dead – Three Epic Novels in One Monstrous Ebook

In a far and ancient land, Emperor Chakran dreams of conquest. His desire to resurrect the evil, world-ending Ur casts a dark shadow across an unsuspecting world.

But as his army butchers its way across the realm, leaving only a vast, storm-riddled graveyard in its wake, a small band of warriors rises up to oppose him…

Tyrants of the Dead

The Complete Collection

 

101 Questions for Humanity – Goodreads Giveaway!!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

101 Questions for Humanity by J. Edward Neill

101 Questions for Humanity

by J. Edward Neill

Giveaway ends March 19, 2019.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Thursday Art Assault – Nether Kingdom

Nether Kingdom

Fall of the Dark Moon

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At the world’s edge, all dreams come to nothing…

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Read J Edward Neill’s terrifying new fantasy novel today…

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Goodreads Giveaway – A Door Never Dreamed Of

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Door Never Dreamed Of by J. Edward Neill

A Door Never Dreamed Of

by J. Edward Neill

Giveaway ends March 20, 2019.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Little Questions about BIG Things

Six Deadly Sins

 The 7 Deadly Sins are:

Envy

Greed

Sloth

Lust

Gluttony

Pride

Wrath

If you could destroy one of these forever, as in remove it from the consciousness of every human being for all time, which sin would you choose?

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180 Degrees

 Suppose a man dedicated the first twenty years of his life to being a vicious criminal.

He was a thief, a thug, an arsonist, a kidnapper, and even a murderer.

But then, for the next 50 years, he turned his life around.

He gave millions to charity. He found homes for orphans. He fed the poor. He traveled to war-torn nations and helped innocent people evacuate.

What is the value of this man’s life?

In your eyes, has he found redemption?

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Generations of Evil

 In certain cultures around the world, different generations are referred to separately.

For example, in America there exist such divisions as Gen-X, Baby Boomers, and The Greatest Generation.

It’s a common theme for older generations to criticize those who are younger, often with cries of, “Kids these days don’t know a damn thing!”

Is it true that previous generations contain people who are wiser, harder working, and more moral?

 Or has every generation that has ever existed contained similar percentages of stupid, lazy, and immoral people?

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The Conjecture Clock

First, here’s a few interesting measurements of time:

Attosecond – Currently the smallest division of time. Approx 10−18  seconds.

Megasecond – Approx 11.6 days

Galactic Year – The time it takes for the Sun to orbit once around the Milky Way’s center. Approx 230 million years.

Exasecond – Approx 31.7 x 10years. (more than twice the age of the universe.)

Now, the real question:

Does time exist?

Or is it simply a human construct?

When answering, take your time.

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The Sun will Rise Tomorrow. Won’t It?

 If you can, name three things or phenomena it’s acceptable to believe in without having actual objective proof of that thing or phenomenon’s existence.

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Did you enjoy these?

Visit here for more.

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Nemesis vs Prey – 1st Chapter of Lords of the Black Sands

Part 1

Nemesis versus Prey

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Galen hadn’t meant for everyone to die.

He hunkered in his hole, bobbing his head to the falling rain’s beat.

He tasted the ashes of the dead in the air.

And he knew it was his fault.

If I hadn’t come here, they’d be alive, he thought.

I guess I did them a favor.

Little streams of warm water slid across the broken streets overhead and plunged into his hiding spot. He hated the feel of the rain squelching in his boots, and he grimaced when the foul liquid peppered his hood. He hadn’t been this uncomfortable in weeks, not since the time he’d cut the fingers off a man who’d tried to steal his one and only apple.

My last apple. He shook his head.

Did he have to bleed on it?

Down in the muck and shadows, Galen waited for the rain to snuff the fires. The stench in his pit was already unbearable. Two others had crawled down into the hole with him, but they’d been too slow, and had gagged to death moments later. The poisonous air in the city above had been more than enough to kill them.

He wanted out.

But he knew if he poked his head up too soon, someone was likely to nip it off.

So he waited. Ashes from the burning city mixed with the rain, which in turn plummeted down into his hole, painting his cloak, his weathered pants, and his skin a sickening shade of grey. He didn’t look like a living man anymore.

He looked like death.

I’m the Ash Man, he thought. Can’t catch me if you can’t see me. Can’t kill me if I’m already dead.

He whistled softly to himself, and he couldn’t help but grin. Ash Man sounded like a nickname he might’ve liked. But someone had once told him he wasn’t allowed to give himself nicknames.

Too bad, he thought. Ash Man would be better than Prey.

When the storm was at its strongest and the thunder began to break the sky, he climbed out of his pit. Soggy, his face grey as charcoal, he pulled himself above street level and emerged into the half-light of the ruined day. The shanties and crude brick houses that had made up most of Cedartown lay in crumbled heaps around him. The smoke from human corpses curled into the air despite the rain.

He slithered down a street and ducked behind a pile of smoldering wood beams and bricks blackened by fire. An hour ago, he’d been standing inside a house in the very same spot, conversing with the doctor who’d lived there.

The ashes staining the wall a dozen feet away?

The good doctor’s, he imagined.

At least he finished before he died.

Clutching his cloak around his shoulders, he hunkered in the house’s ruin. The hole in the back of his neck, which the doctor had installed and lovingly termed a ‘skin-port,’ itched worse than his toes inside his rancid boots. But he didn’t dare scratch.

Doc said not to, he recalled. Needs a few hours to heal up. 

He slowed his breathing, just like his mother had taught him. He snapped his eyes shut and listened to the sounds between raindrops, the rolling thunder, and the wind beating against broken walls. Somewhere, maybe a few hundred feet away, another building collapsed. And somewhere else, the rain crackled as it peppered a burning wooden beam.

No. Not those sounds.

The footsteps.

Hear them?

Soundless, still barely breathing, he made a shadow of himself and slipped out of the doctor’s crumbling abode. When he passed the wall onto which the doctor’s ashes had burned a vaguely human shape, he couldn’t help himself. He stuck out his finger and scrawled a ‘G’ in the ash.

It was a stupid thing to do, he reckoned.

But was it?

The ones hunting him would know he’d survived.

They always knew.

He crept into the alley behind the doctor’s house. Some of Cedartown’s houses were still half-standing, and some walls still high enough to provide cover. He moved from ruin to ruin, and he stepped so lightly through puddles black with ash no one would’ve heard him even without the thunder and rain.

Through one house, he moved like the wind. A woman and her child knelt on what he supposed had been the kitchen’s dirt floor. Their bodies were flesh no longer, just sculpted dust soon to be washed away by the rain.

He moved on.

In another shanty whose roof had burned away, he glimpsed an old man half-buried beneath a mound of smoking timbers. The poor creature sucked in short breaths, looking little different than a fish plucked from his bowl and tossed on the floor. But was he really an old man? In this place where no one lived longer than forty years? Or had the bomb aged him, withering the flesh of a much younger man?

It didn’t matter, Galen supposed.

Whoever the man was, he wouldn’t be alive much longer.

And it was a good thing, he reckoned.

He reached Cedartown’s boundary, if such a thing existed in the weary old hamlet. The last few shanty huts, erected in no particular order on the directionless cobblestone streets, had made a noble stand against the bomb’s fury. A few were merely blackened, but not quite felled. One or two looked almost untouched, shielded from the blast by some miracle of physics.

Someone might’ve survived in these houses, he imagined. Someone might still be hidden inside one of the shanties, ticking away the last few minutes of their life.

If it were true, he pitied them.

Wouldn’t be a pretty life here. He crouched beside a house of sticks. It’ll soon be sand. Just like all the rest. 

In the shadows, he waited. The fields beyond the hamlet had ceased burning, and the smoke was no longer black, but pale and wispy. Galen kept his hood close to his cheeks, his neck still itching. If anyone had seen him, they’d have said he was a ghost with ashes for skin, black opals for eyes, and a cloak so weathered it must’ve been ripped from the grave of a corpse twenty years dead.

And if that someone had seen him, gasped in terror, and run screaming into the barren fields, Galen would’ve smiled. He was good at frightening people, and better at being alone.

The foul, humid wind whipped up across the grass. Galen didn’t move. Between flurries of smoke, curtains of rain, and the charnel smells of Cedartown, he hunkered low and listened to the world.

He wasn’t alone.

The Nemesis and his soldiers had come from the east, having followed him from the steel cities near the ocean all the way across the rusted, blackened graveyards dotting the shores of grey-watered lakes. Always, they were the shadow on his back, the knife in the darkness.

And always, he escaped them.

The enemy warrior, clad in scaly black armor, trod through the mud at Cedartown’s edge. He walked alone, Galen knew. Only ten of the Nemesis’ knights had come here, and this one, a beast of muscle and black steel, believed himself unstoppable.

Maybe he was right.

Maybe, in a fair fight, no swordsman in the Kingdom of Earth could outduel the black-armored warrior.

But then, Galen didn’t care for fair fights.

When the black knight clattered to the end of the street and halted at the beginning of the fields beyond, he didn’t know he was being watched.

Two swords, Galen counted.

Two knives.

Other, deadlier weapons.

He’s a pretty one…he is.

It’s a shame.

The wind rose again, and with it Galen moved. Gliding between breezes, he closed the distance between himself and the knight. His only weapon, a knife scavenged from the steel cities of the east, flashed in his hand.

The knight never heard him, never saw him.

And with the wind, Galen floated behind the knight, buried his dagger in the tiny gap between armored plates, and eased the armored titan down into the mud.

Even before Galen helped his limp body to the ground, the knight died. Galen’s dagger, wet with heart’s blood, splashed into a puddle, where the scarlet stain spread through grey water.

“Sorry for that,” Galen whispered into the dead man’s ear. “You lived a good life…better than most of us. I’ll honor you by keeping one of your swords.”

He rolled the dead knight onto his back. It felt funny to him that a man with so many weapons and so much armor could be felled by a simple handmade knife. Shaking his head, he loosed a black-steel dagger from the knight’s waist and sliced the straps crisscrossing the dead man’s chest.

Quite by accident, he glimpsed the knight’s other weapons. They were marked with the Pharaoh’s seal, and were among the deadliest devices ever made. One looked like a wand, short and slender. The other was an obsidian disc polished to a mirror shine.

These, he didn’t touch.

Another day, old friend, he thought.

For now, just your sword.

He tugged one of the knight’s scabbards loose from the straps and pulled the sword halfway out. More than a century ago, he’d had a similar blade—three feet long, ebon steel polish, sharp enough to clip a man’s head from his shoulders without him feeling a thing.

With the dagger and sword, he crouched over the knight and peered back into Cedartown. Fell shapes moved though the city, hunting with weapons drawn. The Nemesis and his men were dressed all in black, and the rain glinted atop their armored shoulders.

“Should’ve paid more attention.” He patted the dead knight on his arm. “Might’ve seen me before you died.”

No, he knew.

Even at his best, he never had a chance.

He sprang to his feet, tucked his new weapons under his armpit, and darted into the field beyond Cedartown. He’d picked right. The grasses here were scorched by fire, but still tall enough to hide him. Like a snake—an animal no one in Cedartown had seen in centuries—he slithered through the grass and vanished.

The Nemesis and his men, even had they looked in his direction, would’ve thought they’d seen nothing more than the wind.

In minutes, Galen stood a full half-mile away. A blackened tree jutted from the dirt, and he leaned against it. His neck itched worse now. He considered ripping the skin-port out, if only to ease his irritation. He would’ve done it, too, had he not spent the last hundred years searching for the right man to install it.

Never said it would itch this much.

Everyone makes out being immortal like it’s a thousand-year party.

From his safe vantage, he watched Cedartown. The Nemesis and his men scoured the ruins like ants hunting for a last drop of sugar. He saw their weapons flare more than once, their sinister lights somehow darker than everything else. They were killing Cedartown’s last survivors, probably more out of frustration than anything else.

They knew.

They hadn’t found his body, and they knew they wouldn’t.

He’d escaped them yet again.

Almost got me, boys. He lifted a rotten apple out of his satchel and took a careless chomp. But now what’ll you do?

The doctor’s dead.

And I’ve got what I came for.

He wished he could’ve seen their faces. Before the sunset, before the starless night reclaimed the ruins of a town in the middle of nothing and nowhere, he wanted to see the frustration in their eyes.

But then, he knew he wouldn’t.

He’d fled twenty generations of the Nemesis’ men.

And if he’d learned one thing in the last five-hundred years, it was that they never took off their masks.


*

Continue the story here. 

He didn’t mean for everyone to die…

Galen hadn’t meant for everyone to die.

He hunkered in his hole, bobbing his head to the falling rain’s beat.

He tasted the ashes of the dead in the air.

And he knew it was his fault.

If I hadn’t come here, they’d be alive. 

I guess I did them a favor.

Little streams of warm water slid across the broken streets over his head and plunged into his hiding spot. He hated the feel of the rain squelching in his boots, and he grimaced when the foul liquid peppered his hood. He hadn’t been this uncomfortable in weeks, not since the time he’d cut the fingers off a man who’d tried to steal his one and only apple.

My last apple. He shook his head.

Did he have to bleed on it?

Down in the muck and shadows, he waited for the rain to snuff the fires. The stench in his pit was unbearable. Two others had crawled down into the hole, but they’d been too slow, and had gagged to death moments later. The poisonous air in the city above had been more than enough to kill them.

He wanted out.

But he knew if he poked his head up too soon, someone was likely to nip it off…

*

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Think Galen will lose his head?

Find out here.

 

 

Lords of the Black Sands – The Apocalypse is Now!

For centuries, Galen has fled from the Pharaoh and his immortal servant, the Nemesis.

Not any more.

Across the desolate wasteland of the ruined Kingdom of Earth, Galen marches toward his only chance at freedom.

Only he can live forever.

Only he can defeat the Lords of the Black Sands.

 

Kickass Kickstarter – 47 Furious Tails

47 FURIOUS TAILS, ISSUE ONE live on KickStarter


January 23rd, 2019 – Writer W.S. Quinton and artist Alexia Veldhuisen brought their vision of the samurai epic to KickStarter in a bold way. This new comic book, 47 Furious Tails Issue One, is the first in a twelve-issue limited series that tells the classic story of the 47 Ronin in brilliantly-illustrated comic book pages.

In issue one, readers are introduced to key actors in this historic legend as Asano Naganori prepares to leave Ako for his fateful, final trip to Edo.
Based on historic and literary accounts, 47 Furious Tails portrays the characters from this classic tale as anthropomorphic animals, making each character beautifully unique.

Issue one immerses the reader in the lives of these famous samurai as they carry on with their lives before the coming of events that would transform them into legends. Witness as Asano Naganori meets with his loyal Oishi Yoshio, and behold the prowess of the elder samurai Horibe Yahei and the young Oishi Chikara as they defend Ako from fierce bandits.

Fantastic art, devotion to duty and fierce samurai action await the reader, in 47 Furious Tails.

Discover 47 Furious Tails, Issue One right here: KickStarter: http://kck.st/2RchurL

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Sinopa Publishing LLC is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Kentucky
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47 Furious Tails is a trademark of Sinopa Publishing and is Copyright © 2017 by W.S. Quinton
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All rights reserved

He Awoke at Dusk

He awoke at dusk.

His first breaths were more dirt than air.

He knew only the sound of the wind twisting through leafless branches.

…and of a woman’s voice roaming through his ears.

He couldn’t see her, not yet, but he felt her presence. She was near, perhaps standing above him, a slender black shape against a backdrop of nothing. The shadows in her eyes were grey and gauzy, and the evening’s light nothing more than spears of silver against the growing dark.

He blinked, but the shadows would not depart.

He tried to speak, to whisper, or even to croak a few clumsy sounds.

Nothing. His voice had not returned.

It was the woman who spoke first, but not to him, nor to anyone. He knew even without seeing that he was alone with her.

Out in the cold.

In a forest.

How did I come to this place?

He could not remember.

“Should’ve waited ‘til spring, you know?” The woman was farther away now, and speaking to herself. “Fingers raw from dirt half-frozen. Shovel full of splinters. Look at these hands. They look like farmer’s hands now. What would mother say?”

She said more, but he heard little. The wind picked up, and with a shiver he realized he was naked. Lying on the ground, half-buried in frosted loam, his helplessness confounded him. Why would he fall asleep in such a state? Why was he half-blind, mute, and smothered with the sense he’d only just been born?

He couldn’t even remember his name.

The woman’s shadow returned. He couldn’t see her face, not quite, but he glimpsed something in her left hand. It looked like a stick, straight and black, sharper than any sword in the world. The woman’s hair hung long over her shadowed face, and he knew it was raven. She, in fact, was raven. Everything about her looked and felt dark.

Or is it just my eyes?

Why won’t they work?

“Well?” The girl squatted over him. “Can you hear me?”

Somehow, he managed a subtle nod of his head.

“You’re cold, right?” she said without real concern. “See? I knew I should’ve done this next spring. I’ve woken you up, and you’re likely to die again by the time the sun goes down. It’s okay. If you do, I’ll just bring you back again. This stick is pretty useful. It fell from the moon, did you know?”

He groaned. Finally, a sound. The woman shifted on her knees, and he swore he caught a glimpse of her eyes.

Dark. Like her hair.

And…

Is she beautiful?

The woman rose, walked away, and returned with something else in her hands. She draped the dark thing over his body—a blanket, he realized. It did nothing to drive off the chill in his bones.

“You can’t talk yet.” She hovered over him again. “Don’t worry. It’ll pass, I think. It had better, else you’re no good to me. What good’s a warrior who’s blind?”

A warrior?

Am I?

Or…was I?

“Right now you’re wondering who I am and why I’ve pulled your bones out of the dirt,” she continued. “That’s all well and good. Mother said after all this time you might not even remember your life, who you were, the things you did. That’s fine, too. In time, it’ll come back to you. It’s been about six centuries, so really…you should feel lucky I was able to find what was left of you. Did you know you died here? Do you remember how?”

He shook his head. The world beyond the woman came in and out of focus. The night was nearly upon him, and the sky colored with violet clouds and black tree branches.

“I’d warm you.” She leaned closer. Her dark curls touched his blanket, and her lips made the shape of something not quite a smile. “But my magic, you see, isn’t not really for warming. Or helping. That’s not how magic works, you know? It’s all pretty dark stuff. I wanted to believe otherwise as a little girl, but Mother showed me.”

“Your moth…your mother?” he stammered.

“Oh good, you can talk.” Her not-quite-a-smile broadened. “It’s not much, but it’s a start. And yes, my mother. She’s dead, you see. So very dead.”

She stood up again and walked away. He heard the clatter of things: sticks, something made of cloth, the sound of water sloshing inside a waterskin. He wanted to focus, to remember, but every small noise washed over him as though he were hearing them for the very first time.

When she returned, she began building something around him. She produced a mallet from her satchel and began pounding long stakes into the dirt, all the while cursing the soil’s hardness. Afterward, she unfurled a great dark canvas and stretched it between the stakes.

A tent, he realized. She’s protecting me from the cold.

Darkness claimed the forest. The pale spaces in the sky, swallowed up by shadows, fled from his eyes. She pulled the tent’s canvas tight, and even the black branches vanished.

…just as my eyes were adjusting.   

Finished with her work, she sat between his feet. He saw only the shape of her shoulders. All else was midnight.

“There now,” she said. “You’re all set. Normally, I’d turn us to shadow and fly all the way home. But…you’re too fresh. The flight might kill you, and really, the ritual to bring you back is more than a little tedious. And also…well…I guess it’s time to let you know—I don’t have a home anymore. They burned it down. I guess I could’ve killed them all, but all it takes is one lucky arrow, and there’d be no more me. You’ll come to learn the world needs me, just as it needs you, my friend.”

“Name?” he managed to say. “Your…name?”

“Mine?” she said. “No. You’re not ready for that. Rest now. Rest, and try to remember your own name. You’ll need it before long. You’ll need everyone to know it. Because…how can the world be afraid of you if you don’t even have a name?”

With that, she left him. The tent flap fell shut, and the woman swept away into the night. Again, she said things to herself.

Quiet things.

Unknowable things.

But he did hear another sound.

The night breaking. The wind rising. And whispers between the trees that were something other than human.

* * *

*

This excerpt is from an as-of-yet untitled piece.

It was to be the very first chapter in a co-authored fantasy novel.

But the idea was shelved, and my co-author turned to other projects.

So now I’m curious…

…should I write this book alone?

…or should I leave this one in the dark?

*

J Edward Neill

 

Deadly New Cover Art – Lys & the Heart Stopper

Imprisoned as a little girl, Lys awakens in the world’s lowest prison. She’s to become a concubine to a faceless noble in a land far from her native home.

But when fate intervenes, she seizes her only chance at freedom. To save her long lost caretaker, she means to cross the wasteland of Vhur, in which the diseased Iritul have hunted humanity near to extinction.

No distance is too great.

She’ll do anything to rescue her friend.

Even if it means a confrontation with the deadliest human alive – The Heart Stopper.

A Love For Everyday – 2

Two years ago, I created a homemade book for my wife with all these quotes about Love from our favorite TV Shows and movies and books and then I added to it great quotes about love from history or just great quotes about love from anyone. Last year I shared a few from the book around the holidays and thought that would be a good one to revisit (the original is here).

January 29

If I had the choice of hanging out with anyone in the entire world or sitting at home with you eating pizza watching a crappy TV show, I’d choose you every time.

Scrubs

February 5

For she had eyes and chose me.

William Shakespeare, Othello

March 1

I want a soul mate who can sit me down, shut me up, tell me ten things I don’t already know, and make me laugh. I don’t care what you look like, just turn me on.

Henry Rollins

April 12

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.

Sophocles

 

May 8

You don’t love a girl because of beauty. You love her because she sings a song only you can understand.

L. J. Smith, Secret Vampire

June 23

Heaven would never be heaven without you.

Richard Matheson, What Dreams May Come

July 7

Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

August 25

I can’t say how every time I ever put my arms around you I felt that I was home.

Ernest Hemingway

September 3

It was a great kiss. If one of us had been a frog, it would have had some seriously impressive consequences.

Gilmore Girls

October 13

Every lover is, in his heart, a madman, and, in his head, a minstrel.

Neil Gaiman, Stardust

 

November 1

Face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot.

Mary Jane Watson

December 29

They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true.

Big Fish

 

***

Hope you have some great holidays with those you love.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

THE AMAZING ART OF BOOK BLURBS – PART 2!

To illustrate the pain and suffering of writing blurbs (and query letters…and synopses) I’ve challenged myself to write one-sentence descriptions of ALL my books.

Here we go…


BREAKING UP IS EASY TO DO – 303 STRANGERS TELL CRAZY, FUNNY, AND SCARY STORIES OF THEIR BREAKUPS.

 

LORDS OF THE BLACK SANDS – FIVE CENTURIES AFTER EARTH SUFFERS A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST, THREE IMMORTALS VIE FOR CONTROL OF THE PLANET.

 

101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500

101 QUESTIONS FOR HUMANITY – THE ORIGINAL ENTRY IN THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES ASKS SHORT, SIMPLE QUESTIONS WITH THE AIM OF PROVOKING THOUGHTFUL ANSWERS.

 

DARKNESS BETWEEN THE STARS – WHILE GAZING AT THE NIGHT SKY, THE WORLD’S LONELIEST BOY SEES THE STARS BEGIN TO DISAPPEAR.

 

SHADOW OF FOREVER – AFTER EARTH’S DESTRUCTION, A BROKEN MAN AND HIS AI COMPANION SEEK VENGEANCE AMONG THE STARS.

 

EATERS OF THE LIGHT – CALLISTA LIGHTBRINGER, A SENTIENT AI HOUSED IN A HUMAN BODY, JOURNEYS TO A DISTANT GALAXY IN ORDER TO DESTROY A RACE OF STAR-EATING SPACE VAMPIRES.

 

REALITY IS BEST SERVED WITH RED WINE – WHILE GULPING DOWN VARIOUS BOTTLES OF WINE, AN AUTHOR REMINISCES ON HIS CHILDHOOD, HIS DATING LIFE, AND THE STATE OF MODERN SOCIETY.

 

LIFE & DARK LIQUOR – WHILE SERVING HIMSELF SCOTCH AND OTHER POTENT COCKTAILS, A WRITER DWELLS IN THE DARKNESS OF HIS BASEMENT AND OPENS UP ABOUT THE SKELETONS IN HIS CLOSET.

 

101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PARENTS – TWO SINGLE PARENTS POSE SOMETIMES TOUGH/SOMETIMES FUNNY QUESTIONS FOR PARENTS OF ALL AGES TO CONSIDER.

 

THE ULTIMATE GET TO KNOW SOMEONE QUIZ – A DELIGHTFUL CRASH COURSE OF FUN QUESTIONS TO ASK SPOUSES, SIGNIFICANT OTHERS, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS.

 

LYS & THE HEART STOPPER – AN IMPRISONED YOUNG GIRL ESCAPES HER BONDAGE. ALONE, SHE JOURNEYS TO FIND THE DEADLIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD, THE HEART-STOPPER, THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN HELP HER EARN HER VENGEANCE.

 

NADYA THE DEATHLESS – AN IMMORTAL WOMAN DEFIES A POWERFUL ARISTOCRACY AND IGNITES AN ILL-FATED REBELLION AGAINST THE PONTIFF OF VHUR.

 

Hollow Empire Front Cover

HOLLOW EMPIRE – NIGHT OF KNIVES – AFTER A PLAGUE WIPES OUT MOST OF A MEDIEVAL NATION’S POPULATION, FIVE LOST SOULS MUST SURVIVE THE HORRORS THAT FOLLOW.

 

DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK I – A YOUNG WOMAN LEAVES HOME TO MAKE A BETTER LIFE FOR HERSELF, ONLY TO WANDER INTO THE HEART OF A HORRIFIC, WORLD-CONSUMING WAR.

 

DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK II – A DESPERATE WOMAN FOLLOWS HER LOVER INTO A BATTLE HE CAN NEVER HOPE TO WIN.

 

DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK III – AFTER INVADING AND CRUSHING HIS RIVAL’S HOMELAND, A WAR-CRAZED EMPEROR SENDS HIS CRUELEST WARLORD TO BUTCHER THE LAST OF HIS ENEMIES.

 

DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK IV – AS A WORLD-ENDING CONFLICT REACHES ITS CLIMAX, A YOUNG WOMAN MUST CHOOSE WHETHER TO JOIN THE WINNING SIDE AND BECOME QUEEN OR SACRIFICE EVERYTHING TO BETRAY HER KIDNAPPERS.

 

OLD MAN OF TESSERA – THE LONE SURVIVOR OF A DEADLY STORM STUMBLES INTO THE CITY OF TESSERA, IN WHICH NOTHING AND NO ONE ARE WHAT THEY SEEM.

 

 THE HECATOMB – A GHOULISH MONSTER AND ITS OFFSPRING STALK CITIES AT NIGHT WITH THE AIM OF KILLING EVERY LAST HUMAN IN THE WORLD.

 

DoorNeverDreamedPaperback1

A DOOR NEVER DREAMED OF – IN A DISTANT EARTH FUTURE, TWO YOUNG MEN ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF AN APOCALYPTIC WAR COLLIDE.

101 Questions for Women Cover

101 QUESTIONS FOR WOMEN – WRITTEN WITH WOMEN IN MIND BUT ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE, 101 QUESTIONS FOR WOMEN FOCUSES ON LOVE, LUST, AND THE BREAKDOWN OF TRADITIONAL GENDER ROLES.

 

101 Questions for Men Cover

101 QUESTIONS FOR MEN – GEARED FOR MEN, THIS ENTRY IN THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES ASKS QUESTIONS ABOUT SEX, RELATIONSHIPS, AND MUCH MORE.

 

101 Questions for Midnight Front Cover

101 QUESTIONS FOR MIDNIGHT – THE STAKES ARE RAISED AND THE QUESTIONS DARKER THAN EVER IN THIS FUN, ENGAGING ICE-BREAKER BOOK. PUT IT ON YOUR COFFEE TABLE AND WATCH THE CONVERSATIONS IGNITE!

 

SleepersImageForBlogging

THE SLEEPERS – A WEALTHY STUDENT IN A FAR-DISTANT FUTURE IS TASKED WITH DESTROYING AN ALIEN WORLD TO SAVE HUMANITY.

 

LET THE BODIES – A LITTLE GIRL SUFFERS ALONE WHILE EVERYONE IN HER CITY VANISHES.

 

101 Deeper Darker Cover

101 DEEPER, DARKER QUESTIONS FOR HUMANITY – 101 TOUGH & FUN QUESTIONS TO TEST YOUR MORALITY, CHALLENGE YOUR ETHICS, AND ENTERTAIN YOUR FRIENDS.

 

101 SEX QUESTIONS – LOVERS AND LAUGH-SEEKERS ALIKE WILL FIND ENTERTAINMENT IN THIS SEXY SIDEKICK TO THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES.
  Dark Moon Daughter New Kindle CoverDARK MOON DAUGHTER – YOUNG ANDELUSIA ANDERAE IS SEDUCED BY A MESSENGER AND CONVINCED THAT HER BUDDING BLACK MAGIC IS THE KEY TO SAVING THOUSANDS OF LIVES.

 

NetherKingdomWebLg-331x500

NETHER KINGDOM – AT THE WORLD’S EDGE, A SORCERESS AWAKENS TO THE TERRIBLE REALIZATION THAT SHE ALONE CAN STOP AN INVASION OF OTHERWORLDLY HORRORS.

 

41X6vKWTtJL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

444 QUESTIONS FOR THE UNIVERSE – MEANT TO ENTERTAIN FOR HOURS, 444 QUESTIONS IS A GRAND COMPILATION OF SERIOUS YET FUN QUESTIONS.

 

THE LITTLE BOOK OF BIG QUESTIONS – SCIENCE AND MORALITY COLLIDE IN THE ULTIMATE CONVERSATION-STARTING BOOK FOR SMART PEOPLE.

 

101 WAYS TO FIGHT ABOUT POLITICS – LOADED QUESTIONS ABOUT IMMIGRATION, THE PRESIDENCY, AMERICAN CULTURE, AND OTHER HOT-TOPICS. FOR SELF-REFLECTION, READERS CAN TACKLE IT ALONE, BUT THOSE WHO PREFER HEATED DISCUSSIONS WILL WANT TO READ IT IN MIXED COMPANY.

 

101QSP

101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PEOPLE – IN THE MODERN WORLD OF SWIPING LEFT AND NEVER LOOKING BACK, 101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PEOPLE ASKS READERS ABOUT EVERY FACET OF LOVE, LUST, AND HUMAN ROMANTIC CONNECTION.

 

MACHINA OBSCURUM – A COLLECTION OF SMALL SHADOWS – A LEPER DEDICATES HIS LIFE TO SAVING CHILDREN, A WOMAN ACCEPTS THE RAREST OF ALL MURDER CONTRACTS, A GIRL SUFFERS INSANITY IN A SPACE COLONY, A TRAIN-HOPPING DUO CROSSES THROUGH DIMENSIONS, AND MUCH, MUCH MORE…

 


See? Blurbs are fun, right?

There’s no better way to grab a reader’s attention than through a good, quick description.

…and no easier way to lose it with a bad one.

See you on the flip side.

J Edward Neill

19 Questions for Humanity

19 Questions for Humanity


 

THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE

If revealed to you, and if they challenged everything you thought you knew, could you discard all of your previous beliefs?

*

 IN THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN HAPPINESS AND MEANINGFULNESS

Is it better to participate in the grand human social machine or seek contentment alone?

*

IMMORTALITY

If and when scientists perfect a method to extend life indefinitely, would you take the plunge?

*

IN THE REALM OF CURRENT EVENTS

Beyond money, why do people choose to be Police Officers? Attorneys? Politicians?

*

THAT THING CALLED LOVE

Purely bio-chemical? A genuine spiritual event? Or a survival mechanism to overcome the perils of being utterly alone?

*

WHERE WE’RE GOING, WE DON’T NEED ROADS

If, long from now, the world is completely mechanized, thus eliminating the need for most people to work, what will we do with our lives?

*

EVERYONE HAS ONE

Which one rules the roost: Opinions? Or facts?

*

 THINK HARD ON THIS ONE

Does every single human life…have value?

*

A MOMENT OF OMNISCIENCE

If you could ask ONE question of the universe and have it answered utterly and completely, what would it be?

*

THIS ONE’S RHETORICAL

Why do so many people get so angry about politics?

*

NO JUDGMENTS, I PROMISE

From the following, choose the worst thing you could possibly be addicted to: Alcohol, Drugs, Sex, Gambling…or TV…

*

 UFC 666: JESUS VERSUS SUPERMAN

If you could lock any two historical figures (dead or alive) in a cage for a fight to the death, which two would you pick?

*

 THAT SONG BY THE CLASH

A fascinating new planet is discovered far from Earth. You can journey there safely and live out your life, but it’s a one-way ticket for you and whomever you take. Do you stay or go?

*

STEPFORD WIVES (AND HUSBANDS)

Let’s say science perfects an absolutely lifelike robot for use as a spouse. And let’s say this beautiful, intelligent, customized-to-you robot will do anything and everything you ask. You buying one?

*

CONTINUING THE SHALLOW THEME

Perfect body? Perfect face? Or perfect intellect?

*

CRIMES AGAINST OURSELVES

Considering everything, does humanity deserve to exist?

*

IN THE BATTLE BETWEEN

Is there any such thing as absolute good or evil?

*

BACK TO THE FUTURE

You’ve built a time machine. It only goes one direction in time. Do you want to see how it all began? Or how it all will end?

*

AND A BONUS QUESTION (WHEN SOMEONE ASKS YOU IF YOU’RE A GOD, YOU SAY ____)

Pretend you’re a deity for a day. What’s the first thing you do to the world?


*

Want to argue about the answers? Good. Try this. 

Or for something smarter, go here. 

All Hallows Book Sale

Welcome to the All Hallows Book Sale. For the next two days I’ve decided to offer nearly ALL my books (Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, and Coffee Table Party Philosophy) either FREE or deeply discounted.

So…

Go here to view my entire catalog, including everything I’ve slashed for this event.

To get a feel for what I’m offering, check out some of my cover art right here:

dark_moon_daughter-initialcoverjuptereventcrop1cover101-qs-for-the-end-of-the-world-front-cover 101-questions-for-midnight-front-cover101-questions-for-single-people-front101-questions-for-women-covernether-kingdom-createspace-bright-coversoul-orb-new-ddp-cover-second-try

 

 

HUMBLE BOOK BUNDLE: TALES OF HORROR

Just in time for Halloween, Humble Bundle has a collection of horror books and graphic novels to spice up the season!

HUMBLE BOOK BUNDLE: TALES OF HORROR

The horror! The horror! We’ve teamed up with a spooky host of publishers for a new ebook bundle. Get creepy tales like Cold in July, Parasyte Vol. 1-2, and Lovecraft’s Monsters. Plus, your purchase will support the Arthritis Foundation!

$392 WORTH OF DIGITAL BOOKS * PAY WHAT YOU WANT * DRM-FREE * MULTI-FORMAT

Short stories, graphic novels, and books featuring characters like Dracula, Jack the Ripper, and Sabrina along with original content. Written by Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice, Alan Moore, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, and more.

To view this Humble Bundle, click here.

 

* * *

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links through Humble Bundle’s Humble Partner program.

Missing Dragonlance? Try Rex Draconis by Richard A. Knaak

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonlance. The world of Kyrnn. The continent of Ansalon. The Companions. Camaron. Raistlin. Takhisis. Paladine. Kitiara. Lord Soth. Chronicles. Legends. Margaret Weis. Tracy Hickman. The Legend of Huma. Kaz the Minotaur. Richard A. Knaak.  

Those settings, characters, books, and authors summarize of my love for D&D’s Dragonlance. The setting was popular in AD&D, 2e, 3e, 3.5e, and the SAGA system (the last module, for 3.5e, was published in 2008 by Sovereign Press, one of Margaret Weis’ companies and the official licensor of Dragonlance at that time). Beyond the RPG books and sets there were tie-in novels published from 1984 until early 2010 (fellow Tessera Guilder, John McGuire, wrote about those early Dragonlance novels recently), comic books, video games, and a 2008 animated movie. While there was a tip of the hat in a 5e Unearthed Arcana to Krynn’s minotaurs (here), Wizards of the Coast has not published any new Dragonlance game material for a decade, and no new novels in nearing that time span.  

While the full list of every author that touched Dragonlance over those two decades is extensive, the list of authors that most defined Dragonlance novels throughout their existence is four: Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Douglas Niles, and Richard A. Knaak. Their prose gave the world its voice and structure, gifting it with flavor while crafting a complex history. Everyone involved did an excellent job of building the world of Krynn into one of D&D’s premier settings. Knaak built up the world’s history while cementing the sailor minotaurs and Knights of Solamnia and other critical facets of the world. He curved out a section of Krynn that might be dubbed “his” part of Ansalon. However, the downside of working on corporate properties is when the publisher stops producing them, your contract ends, and the sun on your part of the world sets, sometimes forever.  

Knaak worked on other properties (World of Warcraft, Conan, Diablo, and several of his own series including Dragonrealm), yet the stories of Dragonlance must have continued to percolate in his mind. In 2017, he delivered the first book in a new fantasy series, Rex Draconis. The first novella, Rex Draconis: Under the Dragon Moon, lays out the opening shots of the series. I didn’t read Rex Draconis: Under the Dragon Moon, instead I did the Audible as read by Julie-Ann Amos. For those not versed in audiobooks, an Audible is the same as reading, only it’s not. Julie-Ann Amos elevated the work through her voice acting. Her characters had a life and presence that you do not hear in every audiobook and are not always present in your head as you read.  

The superficial bits of the novella marked the series as the spiritual successor to Dragonlance. But, it’s not a cloned-Krynn, it’s a skillful homage to Knaak’s corner of Ansalon. A love letter so compelling that it’s inspired Knaak to work with Phil Beckwith of P.B. Publishing and Micah Watt of Pyromaniac Press to convert this prose into a tabletop RPG setting for D&D 5e and Pathfinder 1e (the Kickstarter for is live here until Sun, October 21 2018 10:02 PM EDT). I covered the Kickstarter here, and interviewed Knaak and the rest of the creative team on the Open Gaming Network 

What is Dragonlance about this series? Sailor minotaurs. Kwillum, a kender-like species that make more sense than kender. Two species of dragonfolk that have a light resemblance to draconians. Three-ish moons of differing hues. There’s more that, once you see those parts, make the other pieces fit a jigsaw puzzle of a Larry Elmore Dragonlance painting, but on examination it feels more like forcing the pieces to fit. The semi-befuddled mage, Knights of the Shield/Knights of the Grey Hand, the prominence of the gods as components of the sky, the tinker dwarf. Those pieces could be viewed as being taken from Ansalon, yet powerful mages, knightly orders, gods, and steampunk humanoids are common fantasy tropes. It is only when the other pieces are invoked that they form the tapestry of Krynn.  

Despite the elevator pitch that this is Dragonlance revisited, and some similarities, Rex Draconis is not Dragonlance. Taken as a whole, it is its own world. The minotaur empire is pushing against the human’s world, the “orcs” of this world are the wheyr, a race of jackelpeople who have massive numbers and, thanks to some captured and copied minotaur ships, are a threat at sea, dragonfolk aren’t rooting for an evil goddess or defending mankind, instead, everyone are their pawns, the third moon is visible and shattered into the shape of a dragon, the kwillum are looking for something. There are layers to this world and this first novella offers a taste of each.  

Who is Rex Draconis: Under the Dragon Moon for? Sword and sorcery fans. Fans of Richard A. Knaak. Fans missing their Dragonlance fix that are ok with a reimagined version of the world. D&D fans that want the feel of those worlds back in print. But mostly fans looking for a fantasy world that is fully realized, with interesting takes on the battle between good and evil, one where the series is ongoing and being transferred across medias to work with D&D 5e and Pathfinder 1e on Kickstarter (here) 

 

Find Richard A. Knaak’s Rex Draconis: Under the Dragon Moon here.

UPDATE: The second novella in the series, Rex Draconis: Lords of the Dragon Moon, is available here.

Try the Audible here.  

Support the Rex Draconis RPG – Rising Tides Kickstarter, which ends on Sunday, October 21 2018 10:02 PM EDT, here. 

 

Richard A. Knaak, author of Dragonlance novels for over 20 years: 

  • Dragonlance: The Legend of Huma (1988) 
  • Dragonlance: Kaz the Minotaur (1990) 
  • Dragonlance: Land of the Minotaurs (1996) 
  • Dragonlance: Reavers of the Blood Sea (1999)
  • Dragonlance: The Citadel (2000) 
  • Dragonlance: Minotaur Wars: Night of Blood (2003) 
  • Dragonlance: Minotaur Wars: Tide of Blood (2004) 
  • Dragonlance: Minotaur Wars: Empire of Blood (2005) 
  • Dragonlance: Ogre Titans: The Black Talon (2007) 
  • Dragonlance: Ogre Titans: The Fire Rose (2008) 
  • Dragonlance: Ogre Titans: The Gargoyle King (2009) 

Along with two decades of Dragonlance short stories and novelettes:  

  • Dragonlance: Tales I: Wayward Children (1987) 
  • Dragonlance: Tales I: Definitions of Honor (1987) 
  • Dragonlance: Tales I: By the Measure (1987) 
  • Dragonlance: Tales II: Colors of Belief (1992) 
  • Dragonlance: Tales II: Into Shadow, Into Light (1992) 
  • Dragonlance: Tales II: The Hand That Feeds (1992) 
  • Dragonlance: The Dragons Anthologies: Kaz and the Dragon’s Children (1994) 
  • Dragonlance: The Dragons Anthologies: The Son of Huma (1997) 
  • Dragonlance: Tales of the Fifth Age: Sword of Tears (1998) 
  • Dragonlance: Tales of the Fifth Age: The Thief in the Mirror (1999) 
  • Dragonlance: Tales of the Fifth Age: Tactics (2000) 
  • Dragonlance: The Search for Magic: Tales from the War of Souls vol I: Hunger (2001) 
  • Dragonlance: The Players of Gilean: Tales from the World of Krynn: A Matter of Honor (2003) 
  • Dragonlance: The Search for Power: Dragons from the War of Souls: Loyalty (2004) 
  • Dragonlance: Dragons of Time: The Vow (2007) 

 

 

 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosures: This article contains affiliate links.

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™
Freelancer for EN WorldKnights of the Dinner TableOpen Gaming Network, and the Tessera Guild.
Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Want to share news? Press releases? Rumors? Sneak peeks? Deals? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

100 Free Copies of Darkness Between the Stars

At night, he watches the stars and dreams of flying between them.
And when he sees them begin to disappear, he knows what will happen…
The beginning of the end.

Darkness Between the Stars

Enter below for your chance to win one of 100 free copies of J Edward Neill’s sci-fi thriller:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Darkness Between the Stars by J. Edward Neill

Darkness Between the Stars

by J. Edward Neill

Giveaway ends October 30, 2018.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

The Novels of My Youth: Richard A Knaak

Years ago when I was just beginning to discover this new world of books that had opened up to me, a pair of trilogies were thrust upon me by my friends. They were branded with the words Dragonlance which I was beginning to put together was a Dungeons and Dragons world. Years later I wonder what made them think that I needed to read these particular books. I’d only just learned how to play D&D. And while I could certainly understand the idea of a shared world from my few years (at that point) reading comic books, I’m not sure why they thought these were the way to through me in the deep end. Of course, they were right. Those six books basically made it so that any extra money I had (that wasn’t going to comics) ended up in one of the various D&D books. And like everything, when you were dealing with the sheer numbers of books I was reading, you’d get some good ones and some clunkers.

One of the things about TSR (the makers of D&D at the time) was that with Dragonlance, you had the original creators writing the initial series, but also expanded the history of the world. They invited other authors to write about those legendary characters in their own series.

The Legend of Huma, but Richard A Knaak, was one of the first Dragonlance books I read that wasn’t by the original authors. And I wasn’t sure what to expect as I flipped through the pages. Sometimes the problem with the legends is that they are merely there to teach the main characters a lesson of some sort. That tidbit is interesting, but a whole book on the character might be pushing it.

Luckily that wasn’t the case with The Legend of Huma. Knaak managed to not only bring the main character to life but wove a story around it introducing readers to Kaz the Minotaur. Someone that by the end of the story was as big a character as anyone might have been. Being able to bring that well-roundedness to what was a “monster” – and typically would have just been something Huma should have killed right out. I think it taught me that if you infuse your characters with personalities and hopes and dreams that they would become full-fledged characters for the reader.

The initial book was followed up by a sequel focusing on Kaz (titled Kaz the Minotaur). Which, in my mind, put the character into that pantheon of all-time Dragonlance characters.

Knaak would follow these up with more books about the Minotaurs of Dragonlance, effectively becoming the go-to guy when it came to their culture and customs. I also love the idea that a writer in one of these worlds can basically make themselves the expert of a whole race of creatures. So many times, you can get lost in the shuffle because so many books are coming out at a time, but Knaak not only found his niche but made it his own.

I have books that I want to reread (which run into my list of still haven’t read and the list of dying to read). Whether or not I am able to really make the time, I know those initial two Dragonlance stories would be at the top of the list with Huma and Kaz read immediately afterward.

Currently, there is a Kickstarter running which focuses on Knaak’s newest world of novels (which I am eager to jump in and read!) and bringing it into the roleplaying side of things. You can find information about it here.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Hardcore Fantasy Cover Art – Down the Dark Path

The massive epic Down the Dark Path (Book One in the Tyrants of the Dead series) is now available as four mini-novellas.

At 200 pages each, these new editions are lighter and easier to consume than the original epic. Plus they ship with sexy matte black covers, featuring all new art.

Now it’s easier than ever to start your journey Down the Dark Path.