The conclusion of the Werewolves in the Renaissance Series will soon be in the hands of readers. I’ll publish Werewolf Castle on October 17, 2019. It’s been way too long since I published a full novel, and I’m hopeful that this will mark my return to regularly writing and publishing novels again.
About Werewolf Castle
Thal has found refuge from werewolf hunters and assassins at the castle
of his father, Sarputeen. Although the mountain fortress on the eastern
fringe of the Holy Roman Empire shields him for the moment, he knows the
peace can’t last.
His father counsels war against his old rival
who sent servants to murder Thal. But first, Thal must increase his
power and that means making a pack. To obtain men to make werewolves,
Sarputeen calls in an old debt from the local duke.
The thought of giving others the werewolf magic troubles Thal. He knows that they will be forever bound to him as obedient killers. They will never have normal lives again. Despite his qualms, he is troubled most by the supernatural fext who can heal from all wounds. This foul assassin serves the sorcerer Tekax, and Thal cannot dare to battle them without more werewolves at his side.
Preorder at these retailers for instant delivery on Oct. 17
The sheer scale of epic fantasy attracts me. I love stories with many interesting characters and multiple settings. In the Rys Rising series, I developed two civilization, each under the influence of a magical race. The characters include magical beings and the humans under their dominion. I weave their various stories together to tell the tale of a great war from all sides involved.
In the third part of the series, New Religion, I added a new character who is forced to join the holy war as a teenager. This character allowed me to explore the phenomenon of child soldiers and how young people can be molded into killers.
Excerpt from New Religion:
of home receded from Khage’s reality with every passing day in the
Nolesh Forest. His abduction had thrust the present into preeminence
in his mind. The past was so out of joint with his current existence
that reconciling them was too difficult.
rough recruitment had taught him about the brutality that his captors
were capable of, but since the first awful day his treatment had
improved. Although he remained tied to his group of boys, they were
allowed to wash in a stream and they were being fed a thin gruel.
They spent their days listening to lectures from men called rysmavda.
These men reminded Khage of priests from his village temple, but now
they spoke only of Onja. Everyone was to renounce Jayshem, Zatooluh,
and Opeti. The rysmavda told them the blessings of the Goddess would
enrich her followers. Continually the boys were told that the false
powers of their former gods had only been tricks to keep the boys and
their families poor and forever working. The rysmavda urged the boys
to fight for Onja so that their families could enjoy prosperity
instead of fruitless drudgery.
messages penetrated Khage’s heart. He was too disoriented to track
the days, but not many had passed before he began to believe that he
could help his poor struggling family by spreading the wisdom and
benevolence of Onja. His lecturers told the boys that some day they
would return to their villages as heroes. Wealth and prestige would
be theirs, and their families would gratefully praise them for
freeing the lands of false gods and miserable lies.
engaging as these fantasies were, Khage thought most often of the
High Priestess Loxane. He had not seen her since that day when the
Kezanada lord had spoken to them, but the hope of seeing her again
made Khage forsake thoughts of escape, which was likely fatal folly
Khage would be tested on the lessons of the priests. If he could
properly recite his devotions to Onja, then he would be untied. Khage
listened to his final lecture attentively, determined to pass his
test. The chance to be free of the dirty noose around his raw neck
sharpened his mind considerably.
boys were lined up in the gloom of the shady forest. The rysmavda
receded to their encampment, but Kezanada remained watchful over the
boys. Still tied to his fellows, Khage found the tedium stressful.
His stomach growled. The midday bowl of gruel seemed not to be
afternoon dragged on and the boys shifted uncomfortably in their
bonds. Khage ached to be free of the leashing. Trying to measure the
passing of time, he tracked the golden glare of the sun that
partially penetrated the tree canopy. Little of the sky was visible,
but Khage imagined the open blue beyond the mass of trees. He still
was not used to the ancient forest. It was much more colossal than
the woodlands near his village, and he had never even ventured deeply
into those. His people had generally worked at clearing the trees and
opening more fields. The forest was something to be pecked away at
and its mysteries only dipped into. But now Khage was perhaps
irretrievably lost inside the wide unmapped reaches of the Nolesh.
The encircling womb-like trees enclosed him in a living totality. Its
presence was intimidating but also compelling. If he could learn this
place, he could become part of its massive living force and benefit
from tapping into its power. That was how the Kezanada seemed to be.
They slipped in and out of the trees as comfortably as Khage had once
crossed open fields of grain. Thinking of fields, he suddenly longed
for the relaxing openness where he could see all around, but then he
recalled the toil that those fields had required and how it would
have someday bowed even his strong back. The rysmavda had said that
he must be grateful for his chance to serve Onja’s higher purpose.
last three rysmavda returned. They wore blue robes or vests over
regular clothes. Khage noted eagerness on their faces, and assumed
they were hopeful that their students would pass.
Kezanada advanced and drew a knife. The boy at the end of the line
cringed from the warrior, but he only cut the boy’s noose free from
the line. Tugging on the dangling rope, the Kezanada yanked the boy
to his feet. With wide eyes, he was led to the rysmavda.
of hearing of the others boys, the first boy was put on his knees
before the rysmavda who took turns questioning him. Khage watched the
rysmavda, and their deepening frowns did not bode well. Eventually
the garbled answers of the quaking boy became intolerable and one
rysmavda threw up his hands in disgust. A Kezanada seized the boy by
the noose and beat him with his thick fist. The other boys watched
painfully as their fellow was punished for his failure.
next boy was cut from the line and taken for testing. He weathered
his testing and the Kezanada cut the noose completely from his neck.
This boy was then told to wait in another area.
watched apprehensively as each boy was taken before the rysmavda.
Three more passed and two more endured the beatings of failure. Then
it was Khage’s turn. When the Kezanada cut him loose, Khage stood
up. He was almost as tall as the warrior, and he looked at him
directly. Khage’s brave glare did not interest the warrior who
flung the boy before the priests.
his knees, Khage faced his teachers. They were of middle age, and
their severe expressions were drifting toward boredom as they
repeated their questions.
wrangled with his anxiety and braced himself with determination. The
questions came swiftly.
is the keeper of your soul?”
you reject false idols?”
three blessings of your Goddess.”
peace, and mercy.”
believers of Onja.”
do you show your faith in your Goddess?”
faltered. The prayers of affirmation that he had been taught suddenly
eluded him. He glanced at the nearby Kezanada, who rubbed his
for her!” Khage blurted.
of the rysmavda smiled at the exceptionally desirable answer.
do you fight for your Goddess?”
rysmavda assessed him in silence. Khage averted his gaze. He took
deep even breaths. He was not hobbled by the other boys now and
intended to defend himself if the Kezanada tried to beat to him.
the Kezanada grabbed his arm, Khage was on the verge of lashing out
when he realized that he was only being directed toward the group of
boys who had passed.
Jumping to his feet, he stared in shock at the rysmavda who regarded him without any appreciation for the significance of the moment. He had never succeeded before. He had never been instructed and then tested. He had not even known such things were possible for him. Elation briefly drove the stress from his body. The Kezanada cut the noose from his neck, and he privately swore to Onja that he would do anything to make sure that the noose was never put back on. Perhaps this was her first mercy as he began to serve her great purpose.
This week only, July 8 to July 12, fantasy readers can snap up bargain ebooks at the 99-cent sale organized by Art of the Arcane. This ebook sale features 21 different ebooks, and some are even box sets for 99 cents.
I’m promoting Journey of the Hunted as part of the Legends, Monsters, and Gods sale. You can get it for the bargain price of $0.99 at:
I’m grateful to Art of the Arcane for organizing this bargain sale.
Why Do Authors Contribute to Bargain Ebook Sales?
I look for opportunities to market my novels alongside other authors in similar genres to help attract attention. If I run a sale on one of my ebooks all by myself, it’s not a very compelling offer to readers browsing the internet.
But if someone who likes to read sees a headline about a bargain sale for 21 different ebooks, then he or she might click through. The buffet effect entices with the promise that someone will be able to find something that appeals.
Synergy also results because participating authors all market the sale. I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness begging for attention. I’m part of a chorus asking for attention.
Of course, only a fraction of visitors to the bargain ebook sale page will actually be interested in my novel. They might choose another title or nothing at all, but at least I got them to look at my work.
Picking out a book is a personal and somewhat fussy decision for every reader. For me to get my chance, I need to parade my fictional works before as many potential readers as possible.
Readers benefit from group promotions. The marketing tactic convinces authors to lower a price on one of their novels for a time. Readers who are paying attention to our pleas for attention save money and get to find good books to read.
Not everything that is a good read can be easily discovered at ebook retailers. The most popular lists tend to self perpetuate because book browsers aren’t going to dig much deeper than the top 20 or top 100 titles of any given category.
That’s why following authors online is a great way to increase exposure to novels that you might not ever discover otherwise.
To learn about my novels, special promotions, and deals from other authors, join my email list.
Every July, Smashwords invites authors to participate in the site-wide promotion known as the Summer Winter Sale. This reflects the international reach of the ebook retailer.
Whether the weather is summer or winter for you, Smashwords is the scene of a month-long deluge of free and discounted ebooks. Multiple formats are available, so readers can load their ebooks on to the devices of their choice.
I routinely take advantage of the sales promotions at Smashwords, and this month is no exception. Everyone can save 50% off any titles in the Rys Rising fantasy series at Smashwords. Sale ends July 31.
Savage Storm – A Personal Favorite
The second book in the Rys Rising series is Savage Storm. Although as an author I like all of my novels, I do admit to an extra fondness for Savage Storm. Writing it was pure fun despite it being an epic and gritty novel. The sheer defiance and bad behavior displayed by many of the characters delighted me.
I’m especially proud of Demeda’s betrayal of her father and whole tribe. They were abominable to her, but she showed them her power in the end. She aided Amar in his conquest of the kingdom as part of Onja’s holy war.
There’s so much more in the novel, that I promise the above statements won’t spoil a thing.
In cooperation with Art of the Arcane, I’m participating in a fantasy ebook giveaway at Prolific Works. This site makes it easy for readers to load their free downloads on their devices.
The giveaway has 40 fantasy titles from creative authors, including my novel Union of Renegades. The variety of book offerings should satisfy anyone’s taste. You can find elves, zombies, vampires, fairies, and tigers. Choose from deadly serious dramas to humorous adventures.
This is a short-term giveaway. It only lasts until July 15, so don’t miss your chance to browse the free titles and download something for free.
Excerpt from Union of Renegades
prisoners squinted when they were led into the morning sun. The grime
of Taischek’s prison had smeared their blue robes and they plodded
down the castle road to the city under heavy guard. Prime Rysmavda
Arshen was the foremost prisoner, and the warding crystal on a silver
chain around his neck had been replaced by manacles and iron chains
on his wrists. Thirty rysmavda and acolytes trailed behind Arshen,
but few expressions matched the fury on Arshen’s face.
a chestnut horse with a white mane and tail, King Taischek led the
procession and Arshen hurled condemnations at the back of his
monarch. He warned of Onja’s killing fire falling from the sky and
he told the Temu warriors that surrounded him that they were as good
as Deamedron already. Arshen called for the other rysmavda to join
him in haranguing their captors, but only a few added their voices to
the threats of the Prime Rysmavda. Over a week in prison with no sign
of Onja’s magic to save them had worn on the faith of some, and
others were too afraid to speak and draw attention to themselves.
overflowed onto the castle road, and people packed the streets
leading to the city square. Some people started throwing rocks at the
rysmavda, but Taischek quickly ordered a few warriors to stop them
before those who liked to throw rocks encouraged those who had not
thought of it.
the city square Baydek Hall stood across from the rysmavda temple of
Dengar Nor. Named after the Temu monarch who founded the bureaucracy,
Baydek Hall housed the offices of government officials. The steps of
Baydek Hall were broad and designed as a platform for public
announcements, parade observation, and sometimes trials. The steps
would be crowded today with the thirty-one prisoners on display.
held back the crowd, and Taischek watched as the prisoners were lined
up in their chains. The name of the King flew off the lips of many in
the crowd as they hollered their support. The rysmavda had been in
prison for over a week now, everyone had heard about the looting of
the Dursalene temple, and people were beginning to believe that they
had a chance to defeat Onja. No righteous firestorm descended to
punish the tribe, Taischek seemed as healthy as ever, and the report
was circulating that he had actually killed rysmavda.
waited with Dreibrand and Miranda just inside Baydek Hall. Warriors
and bureaucrats milled around the lobby, taking turns looking out the
doors and windows. The sound of the crowd outside filled the three
story high lobby like a strong wind in a hollow tree. Shan and his
friends were tucked in an alcove beside the main doors, and beyond
the glossy pillars, they could see the backs of the heads of the
rysmavda lining up on the steps.
wet her lips and noticed that she was breathing faster.
you all right?” Dreibrand asked.
nodded but looked afraid. Dreibrand understood her fear. Taischek and
Shan had asked him to give his testimony about the Atrophane Empire
in the east where Onja had no control. He had addressed large groups
of soldiers on countless occasions but he had never spoken to the
public. Under the Darmar’s censure, all Vetas were excluded from
pursuing a political career.
clasped her hand and told her not to worry.
hope no one has to be killed,” Miranda said.
“They serve Onja; just remember that,” Dreibrand reminded her sternly.
Streaming in general has launched a golden age of television. Productions from the small screen are attracting top talent, and the fantasy genre gets a place at the table too. As someone who grew up with a dearth of fantasy adaptions for television, I was excited to learn how many fantasy and sci fi novels are in development for streaming services like Amazon, Netflix, and Apple.
With the completion of the Game of Thrones television series, others are eager to replicate its success. Amazon, as usual, is strutting about like top dog with its deal to produce an original Lord of the Rings series. With rumors of a multi-season commitment and a total $1 billion budget, it could be absolute bliss.
Although I feel that Arthurian legends are overdone, Netflix might have a good idea with its upcoming production of Cursed. Set in the Arthurian world, it’s supposed to feature a female character who eventually becomes the Lady of the Lake.
Apple might be on to something brilliant with its production of the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov. It’s been too long since classic science fiction was produced for viewers.
Despite my natural love of the Lord of the Rings, I’m most excited about Amazon’s other big fantasy project, which is Conan the Barbarian. I very much admire the movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The original adventures by R.E. Howard have great potential to translate into episodic television.
With so many fantasy adaptations headed into production, I can hope for some good entertainment in the coming years. I have diverse tastes, but fantasy is always the genre that I want the most.
I got to do lots of interesting research for the historical setting of the Werewolves in the Renaissance series. Crime and punishment for witchcraft are at the heart of the first novel, and I learned that the Early Modern period in Europe laid the foundation for criminal investigation to this day.
Most any person is familiar with formulaic crime stories. A crime happens. Evidence is documented. The guilty are accused, tried, and punished. Justice is served.
Except that following a procedure does not justice make, and the bureaucratic methods of modern crime investigations have their roots in the infamous Inquisitions of the Roman Church in Medieval times.
In the book “God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World” the author Cullen Murphy wrote, “Looking at the Inquisition, one sees the West crossing a threshold from one kind of world into another. Persecution acquired a modern platform – the advantages afforded by a growing web of standardized law, communications, administrative oversight, and controlled mechanisms of force. It was run not merely by warriors but by an educated elite.”
The infamous witch hunting manual “Hammer of the Witches” or “Malleus Maleficarum” by German inquisitor Heinrich Kramer in association with Jakob Sprenger is an example of standardized communication explaining how to ferret out heretics and witches. Published in 1486, the book promoted the reality of witchcraft, insisted that women were more susceptible to it, and instructed magistrates on how to find witches, interrogate them with torture, and conduct the trials. Although the Church discredited the book in the early 1500s, its definitions and sadistic methods remained widespread, resulting in terrible tortures and executions of thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of citizens throughout Europe until the 1700s.
In 1532, Charles V the Holy Roman Emperor decreed that torture was allowed to determine the validity of witchcraft accusations. This action indicated the increasing importance placed on making society obey a single worldview. Burning at the stake was the punishment. With the legal doors wide open to the use of torture, all kinds of fantastical stories came from the mouths of victims because torture will make people say anything, especially when led on by questions specifically meant to confirm heresy and allegiance to the Devil.
In my novel Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale, witch hunting is an important part of the plot because the werewolf Thal is hunting the men who tortured and killed his witch mother. The Jesuit brothers Vito and Miguel represent the educated elites promoting the persecution. For them it is part of their career ladder. By persecuting witches and heretics they gather more power onto themselves through fear and violence. I did not have them use the “Hammer of the Witches.” Instead I made up a title for Miguel’s witch hunting manual because it’s fun to do stuff like that when you’re a novelist. While administering a campaign of terror in Prague, he refers to “The Identification of Heretics, Sorcerers, and Witches and Methods for Gaining Confession,” which happens to be the newest title on the subject in my fictional version of 1561 Bohemia.
I’ve long been fascinated by beliefs in witchcraft and witch hunting in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe because it is so horrifying. Imagine going downtown in your home town and seeing people, mostly women, being burned alive. What a vicious form of social control. The fear that people lived under must have been very psychologically punishing.
In Cullen’s book “God’s Jury,” his whole point was that secular governments of the modern world have taken the Inquisition play book quite to heart. The criminal needs only to be codified as some horrible other such as communist, drug lord, terrorist, or protester and then “the unthinkable becomes permissible” like authorities reserving the right to torture the accused or take their children.
It’s all still going on today but not as often in public view. My novel Werelord Thal offers an engaging way to experience these historical realities while giving the persecuted real magic powers to defend themselves.
Through the end of May, I’m running a Smashwords promotion on all titles in the Rys Rising series. These novels were the fifth through eighth books that I’ve written. They serve as the prequel series for my first fantasy series, The Rys Chronicles.
Rys Rising is an epic fantasy that tells of events 2,200 years prior to The Rys Chronicles. At this time, the ancient kingdom of Nufal is ruled by the magical tabre race. The tabre created the rys, but did not like the results. Tabre religious leaders were also split on whether the rys should have been made at all. This is source of internal strife within tabre society that complicates their ability to defend themselves throughout the story.
Nufal is under attack by the rys as led by Onja, an ambitious and powerful rebel. She plans to destroy the tabre utterly and install herself as the ruler of all. The series portrays this momentous time from both sides of the conflict, and often from the point of view of the humans serving their magical masters.
Save on Ebooks at Smashwords
I’ve activated 50% off coupon codes at Smashwords through the end of May. This creates an excellent opportunity to download a great fantasy series at a reduced price. The epic can be your mental summer getaway inside your tablet.
Read an Excerpt from Savage Storm: Rys Rising Book II
the outskirts of the camp, Amar halted his group and had men unload
the two boxes of treasure. Amar proceeded to the center of the camp
in search of Lax Ar Fu. Four men followed him, carrying the heavy
Lord of the Kez was under a large tree where a freshly killed deer
was hung up and being gutted. With the bloody spear still in his
hand, Lax Ar Fu was flush with high spirits from the hunt and he
turned to greet Amar with a disarmingly happy expression.
last my young rogue returns to his lord,” Lax Ar Fu announced in
only a mildly scolding tone.
held his arms wide and swaggered out of the shade. The hot sunshine
sparkled on his hard bare chest draped in a fresh catch of gold
necklaces strung with quartz and gemstone beads. His smooth scalp
revealed every nuance of his skull and the black makeup around his
eyes made his brow and cheekbones look especially strong.
saluted him and dropped respectfully to his knees. “For the glory
of Vu, I bring the Temulanka retainer and the ransom for the
Sabar’Uto Princess,” he said.
Ar Fu chuckled. “So you turned over your little pet that you kept
hidden from me,” he remarked triumphantly, glad that Amar had given
up something he obviously coveted.
did not hesitate in my duty,” Amar said. He remained on his knees
but watched Lax Ar Fu carefully as he sauntered closer.
men set the boxes down and opened them.
Ar Fu said, “Rise, Amar, let us admire my treasure together. You
have done well. I have much to teach you this summer. It will be good
to have you close for a change.”
got up. He watched impassively as Lax Ar Fu poked through the
treasure boxes with the end of his spear. At the second box he
commented that it looked a bit less than full. He then turned his
black-clad gaze onto his notorious lieutenant. “Have you been
stealing from your brothers?” he said.
would I take so little?” Amar rejoined with a hint of offense.
flickered across Lax Ar Fu’s features, but he quickly buried it
with a leader’s confidence. “You were supposed to be here two
days ago. Yesterday at the latest,” he complained.
paused to celebrate our triumph in teaching the Temulanka to respect
Vu,” Amar explained.
must have been quite a celebration,” Lax Ar Fu murmured. “I
suppose you took some time to play with your little princess before
turning her ruined ass over to the Temulanka.” He laughed lustily
as if Amar had played the funniest joke ever.
disliked Lax Ar Fu talking about Demeda and he wished that thoughts
of her did not bother him, which left him doubly irked.
Ar Fu returned his attention to the second chest and squatted next to
it. He shifted some gold and silver ingots around the box, mixing it
with the jewelry, and said, “Either you let the Temulanka short us
or someone has been dipping into my treasure.”
walked around Lax Ar Fu and placed himself so that the box was
between him and the Kez Overlord.
you seriously accusing me of stealing from you?” Amar said.
Ar Fu looked up at his brash young outlaw. He had easily detected the
exposed claws behind Amar’s words. A tingle of excitement shivered
along Lax Ar Fu’s nerves. He had a sense for when a man was going
to challenge him. It had been years since the last time he had
dispatched an uppity Kez brother, and Lax Ar Fu did not flinch from
the primal call to defend his rank. Battles such as this were what he
was meant for.
Amar kicked shut the chest and Lax Ar Fu had to snatch back his fingers. “I can hardly steal what is mine,” Amar said.
Continue listening to the saga and get The Goddess Queen for only $4.49 in the month of May.
No subscription is necessary for listeners to download audiobooks from Nook. Don’t miss this opportunity to get 35 hours of epic fantasy entertainment for a low price.
Union of Renegades introduces the hero Dreibrand Veta, who makes a fateful decision to abandon his position in an imperial army and seek his own fortunes in a mysterious land. He soon becomes embroiled in a dispute between two powerfully magical beings, known as rys. He sides with Shan, the challenger to Queen Onja. She has ruled the western tribal kingdoms as their Goddess for over two thousand years.
In the sequel, The Goddess Queen, Dreibrand leads Shan’s armies against Onja who has summoned an ancient horror to defend her throne. Enslaved ghosts with the power to kill answer Onja’s call, and only Shan can defend his human allies from her servants that cannot be touched by any physical weapon.
This exciting fantasy series was the first one that I wrote. I published the novels in 2006 and 2007, and the books remain popular to this day.
The free series starter, Rys Rising, has maintained a 4.2-star rating out of 99 reviews at Google Play Books. Thousands of readers worldwide have enjoyed this gritty fantasy novel by an indie author. As a free Google Play fantasy book, it costs you nothing to give it a try.
Rys Rising dives into the history of the fantasy world created in The Rys Chronicles to reveal the origins of Queen Onja and the destruction of the ancient kingdom of Nufal. The novel builds into a 4-book fantasy series that tells a saga from many points of view.
Always a Free Google Play Fantasy Book
My book marketing is based on the concept of the free series starter. You can always have a chance to download the complete first novel of any of my series to see if you like it. Some people get hooked and go on to buy the rest of my books and provide me with a meager reward for wasting years of my life writing novels instead of getting a haircut and a real job.
When I wrote this series, I dared to push the narrative in ruthless directions. The story tells the story of the rise of the rys Onja, who becomes an unstoppable magic user who brings many peoples under her total domination.
The novel has resonated with some readers who craved a carefully crafted saga in a fantasy world. Here’s a sampling of some reviews from Google Play:
“Highly recommended for Fantasy fans. Rich in characters and a great place to escape to.”
“Fantastic book, looking forward to the next book.”
“Awesome read full of action and through enjoyment.”
Downloading a book to read from Google Play is easy for anyone with an Android phone or tablet. If you want to escape into a “Game of Thrones style” epic fantasy, choose Rys Rising at Google Play or look for it at your favorite ebook retailer.
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