And guess what? Flames is already halfway written! View in browser

June 13, 2020

"I really enjoyed the premise and the characters in the beginning of this series! Keep em coming." - Annie

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On the Homefront

We had quite a few busy days this week, though we still found time to walk the dogs in the woods, their favourite pastime of late. We also had a tornado warning issued by Environment Canada, sent to everyone's cell phone, only to have it cancelled seven minutes later. We thought that was the end of it, but apparently, some people took pictures of two such tornado's, so they weren't far off the mark. (don't worry, none of them were near us.) I have to admit that I'd much rather have a warning that turned out to be unnecessary than to experience that type of thing without any knowledge at all.

We also found ourselves watching a show on Amazon Prime Canada, called The Great, though I understand it is also available on Hulu. It is a somewhat (Carol says I should say 'very') irreverent take on the early life of Catherine the Great, and stars Elle Fanning as the Empress of Russia and Nicholas Hoult as Emperor Peter. This show bills itself as having 'occasionally true events' and is a comedy-drama, more satirical and less historical than you might expect. We found it quite entertaining, but it does have a dark side, so if you're easily offended, this might not be for you. For something more family-friendly, see my review of The English Game.

That's all for this week.

Congrats to Stephanie for winning last week's eBook Giveaway! Like most of you, I too, am very much looking forward to the new Star Trek! Now, on to this week's question!

Remember, all you need to do to enter is your answer in the box below, and you will automatically be entered into the Giveaway to win your choice of any of my ebooks, even the upcoming Temple Knight!

Comic Relief

No, not that comic relief. I am, in fact, referring to having some moments of levity in an otherwise serious or dramatic story. Fiction, particularly fantasy, can often take a very sober tone. Between a terrible evil threatening the land to the death of individuals or entire armies, it can frequently become very weighted down, emotionally, by all the events.

My own father, who served in the Royal Navy during World War Two, would often reminisce about the ‘good times’ where something amusing happened, rather than dwell on the bad. This is, I think, an essential element in storytelling. Levity helps lighten the reading, giving some respite from a heavy series of events. That is not to say that fantasy must be a comedy, though there are some books that have done quite well doing so, but just as in life, there is often some sunshine among the clouds of doom and gloom. Indeed, without the day, how does one understand the night?

In my own stories, I have striven to introduce some humour. Whether it’s Gerald being fascinated by a spoon, or Athgar learning about Orc younglings, these little moments help bring a sense of realness to the world.  In Heir to the Crown, we have the enthusiasm (and some might say cheekiness) of Hayley set against the more dour personality of Revi Bloom (though he does have his moments). Perhaps my favourite duo is the brother/sister combination of Shaluhk and Laruhk from The Frozen Flame.  They are always sniping at each other, even though we know they would do anything to help the other if required.

What about you? Do you have a particular scene from a book you find to be particularly humorous?

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I also have a quick favour to ask of you. If you have already read one of the books of The Frozen Flame series, I would greatly appreciate it if you would write a quick review for the Publisher's Pack. Simply click on the Start the Adventure Today button above, and choose your favourite retailer, and let the words our forth!

Paul's Review of The Week - The English Game

This six-part series, about the early days of football (what we in North America call soccer), is found on Netflix. It was developed by Julian Fellowes, the same person that created Downton Abbey, and, as such, shares some of the concepts that made that series so successful. The story takes place in the 1880’s when the sport of football was in its infancy. Games were played by amateurs, and the very idea that someone would be paid to play was heavily resisted by the people that ran the FA Cup. (Yes, that FA Cup!)

To think that this was only about football, however, would do it a mis-service, for it actually deals with the working class and their clash with those in power, ie: the upper class. We see the story unfold primarily through two eyes. The first is Arthur Kinnaird, a well-to-do man of means whose father runs a bank. He is the captain of the ‘Old Etonians’, a team comprised of upper-class gentlemen who also happen to run the league.

The other storyline introduces Fergus Suter, a Scotsman who is recruited by the town of Darwen to give them a chance at winning the FA Cup, something that has never before been done by a working-class team. Both leads are nicely balanced, and the story emphasizes the disparity between the social classes of these two men. There is, obviously, more to it than that, or it couldn’t very well be a six-part series, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself.

Whether you like sports stories or period pieces, I would highly recommend this series.

My next Facebook Live Video will be on Monday, June 22, at my usual time of 5:30 pm EST.

Still thinking about what I should talk about. Perhaps a reading from Temple Knight? Tell me what you would like to hear!

Work in Progress Update

The word count for Flames is now sitting at the halfway point, which is good, considering that I’m also halfway through the outline that I developed. The story was originally intended to be about 100,000 words, in line with Ashes and Embers, but I have some new things to add, so it may grow to be a little bit longer. We shall have to wait and see.

Flames alternates between Athgar and Natalia’s story and that of the Kargen and Shaluhk. A lot of familiar faces are returning among the Orcs, with some new ones thrown in for good measure. I’m rather liking the storyline I came up with, and Carol seems to agree, as she is only a day behind me in reading what I have written. She also keeps telling me to write faster because she is so invested in the story and can’t wait to find out what happens next.

I have to admit that the release of the audiobook for the first two stories in the series has spurred me on as well. I love writing these characters, but don’t worry, I still enjoy writing my other series. I rather suspect I’ll be done the first draft of this book in three weeks, give or take a few days, then it will be on to Fury of the Crown. (Well, maybe a Cyric short story might be slipped in there as well!)

(Also, a slight error in last week's tidbit, as it was actually from Temple Knight, not Flames.) This week's teaser is really from Flames, and displays a bit of that comic relief I spoke of earlier.

Until next time, Happy reading!

Excerpt from Flames: The Frozen Flame - Book Three (for real)

"Laruhk," said Shaluhk, "it is about time you showed up. Where have you been?"

Her brother pushed his way closer, then halted, brandishing a small bow. "I have this," he announced, "for Agar."

The tiny Orc ran toward his uncle, his wooden axe still clutched in his hand.

Laruhk knelt, replacing axe with bow. "You carry this," he said, "and later, once we're underway, I'll show you how to use it." He tucked the axe into Agar's weapon belt, the mark of a true huntsman.

Shaluhk placed her hands on her hips, a very human pose. "He can barely use the axe, Brother. Surely you do not expect him to be able to master a bow?"

"Why not?" said Laruhk. "I was of a similar age when I first used one."

Shaluhk shook her head. "You were almost two," she replied. "Sometimes, I think you forget more than you remember."

"Two years, nine months, what is the difference?"

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Shattering Dreams: They're cursed to become heroes… or monsters.
Alex tries not to think beyond the next party. As the fourth son of the king, he should be able to enjoy the crown's wealth with none of the responsibility. 

But his ability to manipulate the veil could either make him a legend or transform him into the monster from his worst nightmares… 

Alex ignores the future until a foiled kidnapping plot reveals the truth.  Betrayed by their own family, Alex and his friends must confront the darker side of their powers. But unravelling the web of lies they were raised to believe could destroy the kingdom they were sworn to protect…

A Veil for the Vanguard: Kera is a lowly librarian’s aide who is forced to undertake a perilous journey she's untrained for… but unknown to her, larger forces at work in the shadows.

Why her? Kera has the least magic power at the Citadel, and they choose her to head into enemy territory? Crazy! To find the most powerful magical artifact ever known? Certifiably insane! Not to mention the thing has been lost for over a century. On top of that, she must team up with a celebrated relic hunter. Intimidating? Just a little.

Hunted by a secret organization, only Kera knows of the looming threat. Can she escape her pursuers and warn her people before thousands are killed?

Dawn of the Thieves: Visions of the past forge second chances for the future. Silas founded the Ashen Hawks Guild of Thieves out of anger towards a country that failed him. Before undertaking a daring heist, he needs to eliminate a new threat that can see into the past and foil their plans.

Locked alone in a room, Lucca uses trinkets to see glimpses of the past. After a cruel upbringing, her visions, fueled by her Art, grant her the only escape she’s ever known. When Silas gives her the opportunity to start over, she must save him from a danger neither of them understand.

When secrets are revealed, the Hawks could be destroyed or rise above and become the country’s most notorious guild.

Curse Breaker's Companion: I didn't mean to upset her, but I did. 

Now, she's coming for me, and I'm running for my life, hoping my hero, my magic-wielding papa, will arrive in time to save me. There's only so much a kid can do against a dragon.

But I'm not the only one this dragon is after. Unfortunately, I realized that too late to stop her from diving into a portal. Now, your world is in danger, and it's up to Papa and me to stop that dragon from taking over if she doesn't barbecue us first.

Suburban New York might never be the same after Ran and the cast of the Curse Breaker series battles a dragon in it.

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