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Summertime Rolls…

Art by Frazetta

It’s summertime again, me hearties! Time for ol’ Fultzy to get “back to the drawing board”– or in this case, the “writing board.”

I’ve been researching and soul-searching lately to figure out what I’ll be writing this summer. Consequently, I’ve changed my original plans:

I will not be writing a third TALL EAGLE novel this summer. Instead, I’m going to focus on writing a new batch of short stories for various markets.

To explain the staggering irony of this decision, a little background: This year I’ve written more short stories than any single year since 2012, when my first novel was published. So I’m kind of on a roll short-story wise.

Writing novels is very different from writing short stories–it requires an entirely different mindset. It’s not as easy as you might think to “shift” back and forth between those two mindsets. Novels require weeks and months of intense concentration on one idea, and expanding that idea to its ultimate potential. With a short story you can do the same thing–explore an idea to its ultimate potential–in a day or two. Of course some stories take way longer to write than others, but no short story takes as long to write as a novel. (At least not for me, anyway.)

Art by Frazetta

Sales of the TALL EAGLE books has not been what I’d call impressive. Reviews are all great, but reviews don’t sell books–regardless of what Amazon tells you. I’ll say it again: Reviews don’t sell books. Especially when those books aren’t being distributed to bookstores all over the world (my first trilogy WAS distributed to bookstores all over the world, so it actually sold a decent number of copies for a relatively unknown writer).

This means there is no real demand for more TALL EAGLE books — at least not right now. I do hope that changes someday, because I’d love to write more about Ispiris and its strange wonders. Maybe the TE series will find its audience eventually, and at that point I’ll come back to it. But right now there is practically nobody waiting/expecting/demanding a third TALL EAGLE book. However, there is always a demand for good short stories.

About ten years ago, I decided to quit writing short stories and focus on novels. After two or three years I had produced my first novel, SEVEN PRINCES, which got me my first Big Writing Contract, and I turned that novel into a trilogy that I’m very proud of. It didn’t set the world on fire, but it did establish a firm fan base of people who really dig The Shaper Trilogy–a fan base that is still slowly expanding from year to year. I got into writing novels because I realized that nobody can build a writing career on short stories alone.

Now, I’ve come full circle–hence the gigantic irony–I’m back to writing short stories because I can’t rely on novels to sustain my writing career. There’s not much demand for my novels–oh, a few people every month still discover the Shaper Trilogy or the TALL EAGLE books–but it’s nothing like a vast audience.

I’m just glad that all my novels are still in print and will be in print (and ebook format) for the forseeable future. That means that all five of my novels are just sitting there–online and offline–waiting for me to drive readers toward them.

THE AUDIENT VOID #5 features two of my latest stories: “Love in the Time of Dracula” and “Oorg.”

Every time I get a short story published, it gets exposure for my name and for my other work. Not every reader will enjoy a story and seek out a novel by that same author–but a lot of them do. I know I’ve always done that as a reader myself.

So every time I get a story published, I get three benefits from it:

1) I get paid. Short stories don’t pay a whole lot–especially in the smaller and indie markets that dig my writing. But I get something in my pocket for all my hard work. That’s nice.

2) As long as I keep writing short stories, as long as I keep getting BETTER at it, there’s always a chance of cracking into a top market (i.e. a high-paying story market).

3) Every published story promotes my novels. The novels are the pillars that support my writing career. But the short stories are foundation stones–they helped me build up to writing novels–and now they help me promote and expose those novels to new readers.

So I’m going to focus on writing short stories for awhile. Short stories that allow me to flex my creative muscles, to grow and experiment, to take various ideas for a ride and see where they lead me. Stories that promote my catalog of books simply by having my name on them.

Weirdbook #37

I’ve started the Magtone Saga already in WEIRDBOOK. This is a cycle of tales chronicling the exploits of a wandering poet-thief transfigured by sorcery. Magtone first appeared in the pages of WB #37. The second Magtone tale, “Clouds Like Memories, Words Like Stones” will be in WB #39–set for release sometime in the next few weeks. A third Magtone story called “Impervious to Reason, Oblivious to Fate” has been accepted for WB #42 (which will be the first issue of 2019). Although Magtone himself plays a key role in all of these stories, each tale introduces new characters, realms, and concepts, fleshing out a phantasmagorical world of magic and mystery.

I’ve also written two new Cthulhu Mythos stories: One for Darrell Schweitzer’s forthcoming MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS REVEALED anthology, where global warming and climate change meet the eldritch horrors of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic — with a sci-fi twist. My contribution is called “The Embrace of Elder Things,” and it takes place mainly in a future moon colony that is the last bastion of human civilization.

Artwork by Bob Eggleton

The other Lovecraftian story is “The Thing In The Pond“– a tale inspired by Clark Ashton Smith’s favorite Great Old One, Tsathoggua, also known as the Sleeper of N’kai. This one takes place in the early 20th Century Midwest, and it’s more of a psychological approach to cosmic horror. Scheduled to appear in the Mythos-themed WEIRDBOOK Annual #2 (Fall, 2018).

I do plan to write more Magtone tales, until that story-cycle comes to its natural end. But I also enjoy the freedom to write stories about whatever I want. The most challenging thing about doing short stories is finding a (paying) publication for them. The trick is to keep writing them, and keep sending them out. Always have something in play. One editor’s “trash” is another editor’s “treasure.” It really is that subjective. I’m glad to have a few markets that are actually requesting stories from me. I hope to expand that list and get my stories into fresh new markets as well.

Meanwhile, my novels aren’t going anywhere. It’s my job to bring the reading public’s attention to them. The best way to do that is to impress readers with short stories that make them want to seek out more of my work. In other words, it’s time to focus on short stories for a while.

Artwork by Rowena, inspired by Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Last Incantation.”

Instinct tells me that I will return to novels at some point. I love writing novels. But I don’t know when that will be, and I’m okay with it. Above all, a writer has to follow his or her inspiration, regardless of market trends or sales figures.

I want to take this short-story momentum that I’ve built up this past year and kick it into overdrive this summer. My passion for short fiction has come back in a big way, so I plan to keep that fire burning.

And at some point this summer, I hope to mix in some actual vacation-ing.

Thanks for reading…

THE AUDIENT VOID #5

Cover art by Brad Hicks for “Love in the Time of Dracula”

The Audient Void #5 is now available. It features two stories by Yours Truly (“Oorg” and “Love in the Time of Dracula”) as well as a bunch of other great stuff—including a story and column by David Barker plus scads of weird poetry. Complete TOC below. Order your copy right here.

Interior art by Brad Hicks for “Oorg”

It’s been out as an eBook since last December, but finally SON OF TALL EAGLE has arrived in a gorgeous paperback edition from Crossroad Press. Get your copy now–the Tall Eagle books can be read in any order.

Other news:

I plan to finish a third Tall Eagle book this summer in hopes of having it released before the end of the year. Meanwhile I’m working on a few short stories for various publications.

“Love in the Time of Dracula” appears in AUDIENT VOID #5. Coming soon…

THE AUDIENT VOID #5 will be out soon featuring TWO of my most eerie horror tales.

A second Magtone Tale is coming in WEIRDBOOK #39.

I’m also finishing up a new high fantasy tale for Cody Goodfellow’s lavishly illustrated FORBIDDEN FUTURES, which will debut at Crypticon Seattle (and will be available for online ordering).

Looking forward to cranking out more stories and at least one novel this year, and I’ve made plans to attend the World Fantasy Convention in Baltimore this November. Poe City!

 

The first review of SON OF TALL EAGLE is in!

Over at the esteemed Black Gate website, ace reviewer Fletcher Vredenburgh has posted his review of the book. Here are a few of the highlights:

“…a model of swords and sorcery precision…”

-and-

“New peoples, deeper history, and more danger is uncovered with each new chapter.”

Read the full review HERE. 

 

WEIRDBOOK #37

WEIRDBOOK #37 is now available.

 

Don’t miss this issue, which includes the first tale of the Magtone Saga (i.e. “The Veneration of Evil in the Kingdom of Ancient Lies”) and loads of other good stories and poetry.

 

—–Contents—–
• “Sea Glass Harvest” by Bear Kiosk
• “The Changeling” by R. Rozakis
• “The Maiden Voyage of the Ariona” by Dale W. Glaser
• “One Million & One” by Andre E. Harewood
• “War is Grimm” by Clifford Be
• “Blood Pact” by Sharon Cullars
• “Something I Have to Tell You” by John B. Rosenman
• “The Curious Simulacrum of Dr. F” by Michael Canfield
• “A Cure for Restless Bones” by Angela Enos
• “Homecoming Corpse” by Andrew Bourelle
• “A Chorus of Shadows” by Sarena Ulibarri
• “Graveyard Wine” by Joshua L. Hood
• “My Last Sixteen Hours” by Angela L. Lindseth
• “Wide Wide Sea” by Jackson Kuhl
• “The Safari” by Michael S. Walker
• “The Water Horse” by Bill W. James
• “The Long Way Home” by S.E. Casey
• “Unseelie Things” by Taylor Foreman-Niko
• “The Veneration of Evil in the Kingdom of Ancient Lies” by John R. Fultz
• “Livingstone” by Cody Goodfellow
•  Plus a selection of poetry by Darrell Schweitzer

 

WEIRDBOOK.
Get Your Weird On.
wildsidepress.com/weirdbook

The wait is over!

The SON OF TALL EAGLE eBook is now on sale!

If you’re into eBooks, grab it today for only $4.99.

The paperback edition will be available in Spring 2018.

Also: The first Tall Eagle book, TESTAMENT OF TALL EAGLE, has moved over to Crossroad Press and is also available in eBook format.

Both books will be available in paperback this Spring, and both are stand-alone stories that can be read in any order.

Click for larger, hi-rez view

I’m happy to announce that the TALL EAGLE series is moving to Crossroad Press. I’m glad to have found a stable home for these books. Some of Ragnarok’s other former authors have already moved to Crossroad, and I’m very pleased to be joining them.

And here’s the best part: SON OF TALL EAGLE will be released far earlier than originally planned!

Ragnarok had it scheduled for June 2018, but Crossroad is anticipating a December 2018 release for the eBook–with the print version to follow shortly after. There are also indications that there will be an audio-book version of each novel.

All of this means that the odds of me writing a third Tall Eagle book (and more) just became a whole lot greater. Ragnarok will continue to offer THE TESTAMENT OF TALL EAGLE until December 1st. After that we’ll be moving it over to Crossroad as soon as humanly possible. Then SON OF TALL EAGLE makes its world premiere before the year grinds to an end.

I will announce specific release dates here (and on FB) as soon as I have them. Special thanks to John Betancourt, Darrell Schweitzer, Charles Phipps, Seth Skorkowsky, and David Niall Wilson for helping TALL EAGLE find its new home.

 

SKELOS #3 arrived with a bang at the World Fantasy Convention. I hadn’t been to WFC in the last six years, and I’d almost forgotten how fascinating and enjoyable this con really is. Having the lead story in this third issue of SKELOS (“Ten Thousand Drops of Holy Blood”) was a surprising synchronicity–almost like a “welcome back” to World Fantasy. The folks in Texas really put on a great convention, and the SKELOS crew made it extra-special.

Always great to spend time with Darrell Schweitzer, whose latest collection AWAITING STRANGE GODS I picked up in a gorgeous hardcover edition from Fedogan and Bremer. I try to catch all of Darrell’s fiction wherever it appears, but he is so prolific that I always miss a few tales. This latest volume is no exception, with rare dark-fantasy jewels like “The Last of the Black Wine” and “Stragglers from Carrhae” appearing alongside a strongly Lovecraftian set of stories.

The “Reading Dunsany Aloud” panel was a fantastic experience for all involved, as was the “Ancient Cultures, Modern Sensibilities” panel. I was honored to be on both of them, and the latter was the second time I’ve done a panel with the great David Drake. Also the first time I met Alex Irvine in person–his MARE ULTIMA stories made me an instant fan when I read them awhile back. Alex tells me he’s written a new tale in this setting, and hopefully he will write more of them in the future.

Overall, I met so many great people, it’s hard to express in words how vital WFC is for a fantasy writer like myself. It’s a great blend of writers (both professional and aspiring), artists, dedicated fans, editors, publishers, and fantasy enthusiasts of all kinds.

My first WFC was in San Jose in 2009, and I loved it so much I went the next year (Columbus), and the next (San Diego). Then I got so busy working, writing novels, and generally being distracted by the Art of Living, that I stopped attending. Sometimes this globe-hopping con was simply too far away, other times I was simply unable to make the trek.

That won’t happen again.

You see, if I had gone to Britain for the 2013 WFC, I would have met one of my greatest heroes and favorite authors, Tanith Lee. I didn’t make the trip to England that year, and now Tanith is gone. (Rest In Peace) Her legendary body of work remains, so part of her remains with us, but I’ll never be able to shake her hand or see her smile or tell her how much her work means to me. Who knows what I’ll miss if I miss another WFC? If my pal Darrell can make it 40 years in a row, I can too. Of course, he’s got a 39-year head start. But I’m glad to say that I’ve been to WFC four times now, and the con is better than ever.

Next year WFC comes to Baltimore, home of Edgar Allan Poe. This is a good sign for me: My first first WFC was celebrating Poe’s 200th birthday–I remember we had red velvet cake and a spot of absinthe in San Jose. My association with Poe goes back even farther: After a performace of the late John Astin’s one-man-play THE LIFE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE in Chicago circa 1997, I participated in a seance with the actor and a guest medium to call upon the spirit of Poe himself (the results were entirely subjective).

So once again the spirit of Edgar Allan is calling me, this time to Baltimore, where World Fantasy convenes in 2018.

I am so looking forward to it.

The Magtone Saga

I’ve started a new story-cycle starring Magtone the Poet-Thief, a lyrical lowlife who inherits a gift of ancient sorcery along with a sentient flying carpet. These stories are high fantasy meets sword-and-sorcery, with an ancient-world flavor and a heavy dose of magical weirdness. The saga of Magtone’s wanderings will run mainly in the pages of WEIRDBOOK, but he may show up in a few other publications as well.

The first Magtone story is “The Veneration of Evil in the Kingdom of Ancient Lies.” It appears in WEIRDBOOK #37 (slated for a November 2017 release). This innaugural tale introduces Magtone and the fantastic city-state of Karakutas, a metropolitan Babylon built by the power of ruthless wizard-kings. As the Doom of Karakutas approaches, Magtone strikes a deal with the only person that can save him from the coming apocalypse–the same wizard who is about to bring civilization crashing down.

Art by Rowena Morrill

The second Magtone story is “Clouds Like Memories, Words Like Stones.” It will also appear in an issue of WEIRDBOOK (sometime after #37). This tale follows the transfigured Magtone’s adventures in a primal world where he must keep the Legend of Karakutas alive while trying to find a place to call his own. I don’t want to say too much more about it for fear of giving away too many secrets.

More Magtone stories will follow as inspiration strikes.

Meanwhile, don’t miss WEIRDBOOK #37 featuring Magtone’s infamous origin.

WEIRDBOOK.
Get Your Weird On.
wildsidepress.com/weirdbook

Art by Sanjulian

Greetings, Boils n’ Ghouls…

Another of my gruesome fantasy tales has slipped the bonds of its sarcophagus and fled back into the world to astonish and terrify readers of WEIRDBOOK. And if you’re going to read fantasy, why not make it Weird Fantasy? It’s the best kind, really.

“Strange Days In Old Yandrissa” is a tale of cursed fools and foolish curses, a demon-haunted beard, and a Romanesque world plagued by inconstant eruptions of magic. This wandering space-mummy of a tale is appearing in the first-ever WEIRDBOOK ANNUAL #1. On sale now.

The annual’s theme is “WITCHES.” It’s a big ol’ candybag full of dark fantasy, weird fiction, and sinister poetry. Coming just in time for All Hallow’s Eve, 2017.

What would Halloween be without a few witches?

______________________________

WEIRDBOOK: WITCHES Annual #1
—-Table of Contents—-

Sanjulian-Yandrissa

Art by Sanjulian

FICTION
“Thou Shalt Not Suffer” by Matt Neil Hill
“No Holds Bard” by Adrian Cole
“Laying The Hairy Book” by Josh Reynolds
“Here Is Where Your Proud Waves Halt” by Erica Ruppert
“Vicious Circles” by Paul Dale Anderson
“Assorted Shades of Red” by Franklyn Searight
“Strange Days in Old Yandrissa” by John R Fultz
“Fertility Rites” by Glynn Own Barrass
“The Witch’s Heart” by Rachel Bolton
“Hag Race” by Andre E Harewood
“Best Friend Becky” by Wayne Faust
“The Rat in the Rabbit Cage” by Ashley Dioses
“Two Spells” by Neva Bryan
“Pulled Over” by Paul Spears
“The Witch of Skur” by LF Falconer
“Cat and Mouse” by Duane Pesice
“Last of the Ashiptu” by Paul Lubaczewski
“Nora Witch” by Brandon Jimison
“Firestorm” by Richard H Durisen
“The Witch of Pender” by John Linwood Grant
“The Broken Witch” by Scott Hutchison

Art by Sanjulian

POETRY
“The Desert Rose Inn” by Maurits Zwankhuizen
“The Ballad of Blighted Marsh” by David F Daumit
“The Witch-Queen” by S L Edwards
“A Witch’s Work is Never Done” by Lori R Lopez
“Halloween Witch” by KA opperman
“Remembering the Peculiar Effects from the Sugar Witch’s Goblin-Brew” by Clay F Johnson
“Sea Witch” by Vonnie Winslow Crist
“Oracle Bone Script” by Frederick J. Mayer
“Little Youkai at the Witch House” by Chad Hensley
“Mother Persephone” by Oliver Smith
“A Warlock Slips Into My Dreams” by Darla Klein

WEIRDBOOK.
Get Your Weird On.
wildsidepress.com/weirdbook

S.E. Lindberg has posted an in-depth interview with me at his “Beauty In Weird Fiction” blog:
http://www.selindberg.com/2017/09/john-fultz-interview-by-se-lindberg.html?spref=fb

Bakshi-LOTR-Isengard

Art from Ralph Bakshi’s
LORD OF THE RINGS

Click to Enlarge

WEIRDBOOK #35 marks my third appearance in that esteemed magazine. This time around my contribution is a weird horror piece called “The Man Who Murders Happiness.”

[Click here to order the new issue.]

Every now and then I like to step outside the boundaries of fantasy and go for straight-up horror; this story is exactly such an excursion into the macabre. It was born out of the angst and anxiety of 2016, and hopefully it reaches into the deep core of human existence to explore the abiding darkness there. Or maybe it’s just a glimpse into a dark world that is a distorted parallel of our own.

Here is the complete Table of Contents:

STORIES
The Pullulations of the Tribe by Adrian Cole
The Dead of Night by Christian Riley
Mother of My Children by Bruce L. Priddy
The Man Who Murders Happiness by John R. Fultz
A Handful of Dust by Tom English
Revolution à l’Orange by Paul Lubaczewski
Fiends of the Southern Plains by Patrick Tumblety
The Pyrrhic Crusade by Stanley B. Webb
The Migration of Memories by Charles Wilkinson
Maquettes by Paul St John Mackintosh
In the Shadows by J.S. Watts
The Spot by C.R. Langille
Schism in the Sky by Donald McCarthy
To Roam the Universe, Forgotten and Free by Janet Harriett
Rejuvenate by Lily Luchesi
Vigil Night by Lorenzo Crescentini
The Tale and the Teller by Darrell Schweitzer
Dead Clowns for Christmas by by L.J. Dopp

POETRY
A Queen of Carpathia by Kyle Opperman
Queen of the Bats by Kyle Opperman
Taken from the Tcho Tcho People’s Holy Codex by Frederick J. Mayer
When Wolfsbane Blooms by Kyle Opperman
The Dinner Fly by James Matthew Byers
Strange Jests by Jessica Amanda Salmonson

Click for Larger Hi-Rez Version

This just in! Feast your eyes, my friends:
Alex Raspad recently delivered his finished cover for SON OF TALL EAGLE. It is a thing of beauty.

I love how Alex evokes the colorful sky and alien rock formations of Ispiris. THE TESTAMENT OF TALL EAGLE chronicles how Tall Eagle’s people left their war-torn world and escaped to the Land Beyond the Sun. In SON OF TALL EAGLE the entire story takes place in this strange new world. It’s a realm of mysterious creatures, titanic forests, crystalline mountains, and chromatic skies.

Here we see Kai, Son of Tall Eagle, facing down a Sesthi Lord while Athri, Daughter of Thu, leaps in to join the fray. Athri is a half-human, half-Myktu warrior woman who grew up alongside Kai. She is fiercely loyal to the Son of Tall Eagle, even though his heart belongs to someone else.

The Sesthi (Horse People) are the main antagonists this time around. Kai believes peace with the hoofed horde is possible, but there are others among The People who long for the old days of endless war and red-handed glory.

Dark forces linger in the deep places of this world, ready to be set free by blood, hate, and ancient Sesthi magic.

SON OF TALL EAGLE is set for release in the first quarter of 2018 from Ragnarok Publications.

 

My latest article at Black Gate explores Vol. 4 of the collected SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN.

“Whenever anyone steps in to replace John Buscema on pencils, SAVAGE SWORD becomes the Tony DeZuniga Show. And what a terrific show it is.”

Click HERE to read.

Goin’ Down To Texas

Art by Jeff Jones

Hey! If anybody’s still reading this blog–which I admit to not updating regularly–thanks for your ongoing interest. I tend to only blog when I have something to say, something to announce, or something to shout about. I have two newsworthy bits today:

WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION 2017 – I’ll be attending WFC for first time since 2011. This’ll be my fourth time attending the convention–this year it’s in San Antonio, Texas. Makes me wonder if there will be some special Robert E. Howard panels going on since Cross Plains is only about 220 miles north of Alamo City. When I first discovered WFC in 2009, I immediately dubbed it my “favorite convention.” The only trouble is that it “leaps” across the globe to a new location every single year–which is part of the reason I couldn’t attend the last five conventions. So it’s great to be heading back there–I hope to see many friends old and new–and WFC tends to fire up my creative engines.

Art by D’Achille

SON OF TALL EAGLE has been moved to an early 2018 release date by Ragnarok Publications. The good news is that artist extraordinaire Alex Raspad is returning to do another spectacular cover illustration.

Will there by a third TALL EAGLE book? I’d love to write it. But we’ll have to wait and see. Each of these books is a self-contained adventure; you don’t have to read them in order unless you’re a stickler for that kind of thing. (I usually am.)

Meanwhile, in short fiction news, my story “Ten Thousand Drops of Holy Blood” will be appearing in SKELOS #3-due out later this year. There was an unexpected delay between the first and second issues, but SKELOS #2 is going on sale in about a week or two.

I also have two stories scheduled for upcoming issues of WEIRDBOOK: A horror tale called “The Man Who Murders Happiness” in WB #35 (coming soon), and a rollicking fantasy called “The Veneration of Evil in the Kingdom of Ancient Lies” scheduled for WB #37 (this fall).

Meanwhile, it’s time to ask: What am I going to write this summer? It will either be a completely new novel, or a summer “off.” I really don’t know at this point. Uncertainty isn’t a bad thing: It’s the gateway to freedom.

 

We’re All Mad Here…

mad-hatter-makeup-tutorialI wrote a piece for the RagnaBlog about how writers are mad–gloriously mad!–and why that’s a good thing for people who like to read books. 

Click Here to Read It…

Weirdbook #33 now available

WB33WEIRDBOOK #33 is now available.

Contents:
The River Flows to Nowhere by John R. Fultz
The Amnesiac’s Lament by Scott R Jones
Trance Junkie by Bruno Lombardi
Bad Faith by Will Blinn
Dwelling of the Wolf by Franklyn Searight
The Ruby Palace by Jessica Amanda Salmonson
The Screams at the Keyhole by Garrett Cook
Diary of an Illness by C.M. Muller
Teatime With Mrs. Monster by James Aquilone
Train to Nowhere by Adrian Cole

Plus plenty of weird verse from Donald W. Schank, S. L. Edwards, Ashley Dioses, K.A. Opperman, Darrell Schweitzer, and Frederick J. Mayer.

 

The Blade and the Audient Void

14364708_1356773477667986_3783836956982702527_nTHE AUDIENT VOID #2 is now available. Among the various dark treasures inside you’ll find “The Penitence of the Blade.”

Set in the World of Zang, it is the story of Torador, a warrior who wants to lay down his sword—to forget the terrible things he’s seen and done. Retirement brings him to the decadent metropolis known as Emeran Thah, the City of Sultans, where addiction is a way of life and dreaming is a full-time job. The dark secret he discovers there will bring him face to face with infinity.

shattered-shields“Yael of the Strings” from the SHATTERED SHIELDS anthology explores in greater depth the society of Sharoc, where Torador fought his wars in the name of the Griffon Queen. These two stories are a subset of the Zang Tales, the “Sharoc Tales” if you will. I have an idea for a novel set in Sharoc. That idea may or may not grow into an actual book, but it will almost certainly inspire more Tales of Zang. They seem to rise from my subconscious every few years like ocean pearls. Zang is a great place for return visits, especially when you’re looking for magic.

 

Art by James Ayers

Art by James Ayers

The past few weeks has been a real whirlwind of psychic, creative, and personal energies. I have finished the first draft of the new book, SON OF TALL EAGLE, which continues the story of The People after their migration to Ispiris, the Land Beyond the Sun.

Taking a few days away from the manuscript right now before I dive into the revising/editing phase. This is when I get the story and the words and everything else ready for the world to see. Finishing the first draft is an endurance race, then it’s time to slow down and refine that raw energy that I’ve captured on the page.

Art by James Ayers

Art by James Ayers

Getting back into the TALL EAGLE universe after six years was NOT easy, but it turned out to be extremely rewarding. I had been “carrying” this story around in my head for years, and yet it still surprised me in the writing of it. There was one character who wasn’t even in my outline/notes who came out of nowhere and became vital to the story, taking on a central role and driving the action in a way I had never expected.

That’s the great thing about writing: It’s always a process of discovery. When I wrote THE TESTAMENT OF TALL EAGLE, I didn’t use an outline at all. For this sequel (which is also a standalone book) I did start with an outline, but halfway through I realized that the outline wasn’t complete–there was now more to the story than I had planned. It grew organically, like a sacred herb in rich earth.

Sesthi3-Battle

Art by SanJulian

The story takes place 22 years after Tall Eagle broke the Circle of War by leading his people into the Land Beyond the Sun (with the help of the Gray Ones known as the Myktu). The People were changed not only by their transition to a new world, but also by the mental bonding they experienced with the Dreamers of Mharinu. Now Gray Ones and humans have blended into a sub-society sharing River Village with Tall Eagle’s transplanted tribe.

I don’t want to give way any of the plot details, but the story is told from the point-of-view of Kai, the Son of Tall Eagle. He is twenty-two years old, having been inside his pregnant mother’s belly during The Crossing, and is about to begin his adult life as a husband and father. Like his own father, Kai has been trained to ride the great Opyds of Mharinu–the giant eagles who willingly serve the Gray Ones. This sets him apart from the other men of River Village as a sky-riding hunter.

Art by Enrich

Art by Enrich

The appeal of making this a series was the thrill of exploring Ispiris, a world with many fantastical aspects that were barely touched on in the first book. THE TESTAMENT OF TALL EAGLE was firmly grounded in actual Amerindian history and culture–whereas SON OF TALL EAGLE sprouts from strong fantasy-based roots. It’s the “other side of the coin,” so to speak. Once I got comfortable with the world and its rules again, it was full speed ahead. When the new lead characters came to life, the story took on a shape and a form all its own.

As soon as I’m finished with revisions and edits, the manuscript goes to Ragnarok Publications, who will hopefully have it in stores sometime next year.

Upcoming Tales…

bf9edf12606bea940f7fb335240f9cde_originalThe 3rd issue of SKELOS is set for release sometime later this year.  My sword-and-sorcery tale “Ten Thousand Drops of Holy Blood” will appear in the issue, along with a whole bunch of other cool stuff. SKELOS #1 is available now.

WB33WEIRDBOOK #33 will also feature a story of mine–a slice of Weird Noir called “The River Flows to Nowhere.” This one slides more toward the horror side of the dark fantasy spectrum, but the neo-contemporary setting did not limit the potential for deep weirdness. WB #33 is slated for an October 2016 release (#31 and #32 are both available now).

13239199_1255059254506076_4924653734446977298_nAlso coming this fall, THE AUDIENT VOID #2 will feature my “long-lost” Zang tale “The Penitence of the Blade.” Set in the universe of THE REVELATIONS OF ZANG, this tale was accepted at three different markets over the years—all of which went bust before they could publish it. So it’s great to finally find a home for “Blade,” and one that supports a great new dark fiction mag. “Blade” is loosely connected to “Yael of the Strings” from the SHATTERED SHIELDS anthology, as it stars a Knight of Sharoc who has forsaken the ways of war. Yet it’s not so easy to leave one’s past behind, especially in the corrupt streets of Emeran Thah, City of the Dragon’s Breath. Look for it in September/October.