2012 Announcements

I don’t know if anybody told you, but we started a new year a couple weeks. In light of that, it’s time to make some huge announcements about this blog and about The Kingdom Trilogy.

1. The Kingdom: The Quest is coming out in paperback at FastPencil on January 22, 2011.

2. The Kingdom: The Stand is coming out in Summer 2012 to Smashwords and the Kindle Store.

3. While you wait, there’s at least three short stories coming out in the spring of 2012. All of them will be free.

3. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I am launching a new account on January 22, 2011. Over the next month, I will transition to doing all my tweeting on the new account.

4. This blog is moving into an even better blog. You’ll get the same weekly features on a new site that will keep you updated on not only The Kingdom Trilogy, but also everything else that I’m up to.

Over the next few weeks, I will post the weekly features on both blogs. All of the news and updates will be on the new blog. Slowly, I will begin using the new blog exclusively. I’m excited to make this change and excited for a big 2011.

What are you waiting for? Check it out!


The Quest Is Available On Kindle At Last!

After a thunderous battle of submissions, re-submissions, and submission boxes with red lines around them marking, “Please enter a normal number for your series, please”…

The Quest (Part One of the Kingdom Trilogy) is available for purchase on the Kindle Store and Smashwords!

If you want to be a stubborn old-timer and get the Smashwords copy, go here.*

If you want to be one of the cool kids, and even sit with them at their lunch table, pick up the Kindle Edition.

Either way, it’s only $2.99.

If you need some time considering whether this novel is worth your three dollars, allow me to hypnotize you with my new, ten-million-times-better-than-the-last-one cover design.

Illustration (and copyright) by Martha Bartell

Keep staring… that’s right… fall under my spell… for my diabolical overthrow of your mind with aesthetics… don’t pay attention to that last phrase… just keep staring at that beautiful cover…

If you got as far as this paragraph, you are immune to my Jedi mind tricks. Congratulations! You are free from my control! You’re still welcome to grab a copy of The Quest, if you like. Arman falls off a stone tower, nearly drowns twice, faces down murderous phantoms, escapes werewolves, and is nearly crushed by a troll; he went through that and more to give you a fine story to read. You owe him one, don’t you?

* = Mark Coker, if you’re reading this, I’m just kidding.


If you’re looking for The Storyteller Reports, check back tomorrow. It’ll be up then.

Kindle Edition Coming Soon!

With the college semester finished, there’s some news I thought you might like to hear.

Today, I have begun working with the HTML to get The Quest onto Amazon’s Kindle Store. I’ll keep you updated as we go along. The goal is to have it up by this weekend, but we’ll see what happens as I go through the manuscript.

Notes Of A Storyteller: Why Disaster Can Be Your Finest Muse

Before you read anything else, I want you take a deep breath. Think fondly of all those sunlit creative moments you have had. The ones where you lie in leisure, or sweat in hard work, only to be knocked off your seat by the most fantablous idea you have ever come across. Think about how you wrote it down with passion. Think about how proud you were.

Now think about something else: have you ever had to introduce a new idea to your story because you didn’t have time to write your old one?

This is perfectly normal, and if you fret about it now, you should fret no longer. This is perfectly normal for a writer. It was normal for me. As I tnkered with The Quest, I had to cut out an entire major character. I was on deadline. I could not have worked with his storyline without sacrificing time i needed to get the even bigger plotlines ready to go. So passed Hiriam the hunter, before you ever got to meet him.

Oh well. That’s life. Now before you keep reading and nodding along, go out and do it yourself. Do you have a big, sprawling story right now? Ask yourself if there’s a plotline or character of your own that’s holding you back. If it’s a time issue, cutting it won’t make you heartless. It might reveal things in your story that you never thought of before.

Stop nodding like that! Go do it! And buy a Christmas present for that one person you absolutely hate!

The Storyteller Reports: The Ballad of Ray Bradbury

RANT OF THE WEEK: Ray Bradbury vs. The Internet

You know who Ray Bradbury is? He’s a writer, and I love him. See “Storyteller of the Week” below if you want to know why. For now, know that he wrote Fahrenheit 451 a dystopian novel that was the most frightening thing I ever read in high school.

I had deep esteem for the guy because of that book. Now it turns outs that he hates e-books. In fact, according to BBC, he turned down 3 different offers to make Fahrenheit 451 an e-book. Specifically, it seems, he told them to “go to hell.”

Until now. BBC brought up that quote as they reported that Mr. Bradbury had caved in at last. I’ll let the Brits take care of the details. I want to say something about the implications.

This is a startling turnaround for a guy like Bradbury. You don’t write a novel about a nation consumed by greed and technology, slam new technology in your own day, and then suddenly revert and embrace it unles syou have a good reason. BBC talks about how it would have been difficult to renew Fharneheit 451‘s publishing rights without allowing an e-book edition. I don’t buy that.

Would Bradbury have really thought that much about money? By letting them do something with his book that he doesn’t like, something that he seems to be correlating with the mindless future of his book, might he be submitting to that mindless future? And that begs another question. Have we, too, submitted to that mindless future? If so, how? If so, when?

Think about it.


Now let me tell you how our boy Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451.changed my life.

I read Fahrenheit 451 as an assignment for high school. 5 pages after beginning, I had completely forgotten that it was an assignment. I read ahead without a single thought. I devoured it. I consumed it, like the flames that consume all meaningful books in the story.

By the time I was finished, I was walking through high school with both eyes wide open. Bradbury created a convincing and horrifying society of addiction and vapidity, and I could see it all around me in school. I saw kids plugged into iPods, and moaning about how dumb Charles Dickens was, using foul, vulgar words without thinking about their meaning. I saw them glued to television screens, and looking with half-closed eyes at teachers, daring them to try breaching their apathy.

“I’m living in a dystopia,” I thought to myself, melodramatically.

I still have those moments from time to time. They haunt me, just as Bradbury’s prose haunts me. I can feel myself darken a little, just writing this post. That is no hyperbole, dear reader. I truly think our society has become Bradbury’s nightmare to some degree.

For being a modern Cassandra, I award him the honor of Storyteller of the Week.

The Storyteller Reports: First Ladies and First Reporters







RANT OF THE WEEK: Could Historical Fiction Be Disrespectful?

News reached me yesterday about a new novel, and it gave me a chance to think about something.

It’s called Mrs. Nixon, a historical fiction about President Nixon’s wife. Slate’s Browbeat blog talked to a historian, Betty Boyd Caroli, about other First Ladies that could inspire some quality historical fiction. I’ll let them get into specifics.

What I want to speak of here is the nature of historical fiction itself. As a boy, I read the genre. I didn’t read much more or much less of it than any other genre, but I read it and I enjoyed it. Here, like in any good story, I found risk, adventure, and everything else that captivates a 5th-grader. I haven’t read as much of it since I got older, but after running into several indie authors who dabble in it, it is clear the appeal is just as strong for us grown-ups.

As a grown-up, and a history minor at Benedictine College, I have been confronted with the fact that history is no fairy-tale. This may or may not seem like a profound statement. If history truly happened, then the Holocaust should have the same impact on me as the remembrance of losing a relative to a car crash.

Well, it doesn’t. History still seems like a game to me at times. It seems detached from the world I live in right now, the world in which I’m typing this blog post. I think back to that historical fiction I read avidly as a child. It was thrilling stuff. So were the novels that claimed to have no ties to the world. What was the true difference? As a 5th-grade boy, there was none. I never took a moment to realize that there were event sin that historical fiction that had implications in my own world.

As a 5th-grader, that’s not as much of a problem. But it continues today. I struggle daily to realize that our history lectures truly are previous chapters in a story happening right here, right now. It is not merely a fascinating and entertaining study, but a gravely serious encounter with the story of humankind.

Considering all this, I must say that Mrs. Nixon sounds like a disrespectful idea. In fact, so does historical fiction in general, as an idea. Do we have the right to spice up these facts that form our heritage? Aren’t the facts compelling enough stories in and of themselves? Instead of embellishing what we already know, might we not set out instead to learn more, and to understand it?


It’s funny that we talk about historical fiction today. Our Storyteller of the Week also made a mark on history. This is Roger Casement, who forced the king of Belgium to his knees.

Casement was an Englishman whose eye was on the Belgian Congo. For years, King Leopold II of Belgium had run the place, and harvested an enviable amount of rubber. He trumpeted the coming of western civilization to the Congo. Apparently, the natives were being taught their manners, and virtues, and all sorts of wonderful things.

Whispers started to sneak around Europe that this wasn’t the case. Casement snuck into Africa to find the truth. He disguised himself as a deckhand on one of the steamboats, and saw everything that happened. The reality was brutal. The Belgians caused horrific violence on the natives to get their rubber.

Casement’s report in 1904 was a slap in King Leopold’s face. After Casement did more digging, it turned out that the king had taken money illegally to fund the operation in the first place. That was the end of that. The Belgian Parliament made sure the king’s authority over the Congo was ended.

That’s powerful storytelling, there. Give this man a salute.


The Smashwords Edition Is Up!

After a long and successful bout with Microsoft Office, The Kingdom: The Quest is available on Smashwords! I published it as The Quest (Part One of The Kingdom Trilogy), so it’ll show up better in search results. If you have questions about how to download, I’d be happy to answer them. Would you like a blog post devoted just to that?

Get the book here.

In other news, the version for the Kindle Store is being ornery. I’ll put that one up for you this weekend.

I also want to post the full cover art for the book, if you haven’t seen it yet. I had to make it smaller for the cover, so I wanted to display it here in all its glory. Martha Bartell, a fellow undergraduate at Benedictine College, made this over the summer. I told her about Cythonir, Arman’s sword, and she put it under the moonlight.

By Martha Bartell